The Five Archenemies of UPR–RCL (and How to Thwart Them), Universal Techs, and Picking a Deck for the Players Cup
Keep watch for the globular one (and other pesky card).

Hello again readers, I’m back with you for our final words before the Players Cup kicks off. There’s been a lot of coverage of this format already, and there are plenty of lists out there for almost every deck. Gabriel posted an article very similar to what I was going to, and in light of that I’m switching up what I’m writing today. If you want a good grasp on the meta decklists, check his last two articles out. I would also recommend my article that covered Zacian/LucaMetal, but that list was pretty personalized for my own style of playing the deck, and Gabriel’s seems to be closer to the norm.

I’m almost 100% locked in on my play for the Players Cup, with most of the list decided upon. However, I have yet to pick the tech cards that I want to include in the deck. Instead of just going over decks today, I’m going to talk about all of the notable techs and hard counters in the format. After that, I’ll discuss how one should go about picking a deck for the Players Cup.

The Five Archenemies of UPR–RCL (and How to Thwart Them)

There are a lot of cards in the current format, which means there are inevitably going to be cards that win certain matchups almost all on their own. In an event like the Players Cup, where two losses means you’re out, and one loss means you’re playing a lot more rounds, taking auto-losses to certain cards or decks is not something that you want to do.

1. Galarian Obstagoon SSH

I still contend that this deck is a trap and never beats competent players, but it consistently does alright whenever the timing is right for it. There are a number of ways that the established decks have to get around it, but if your play doesn’t have any of them, or you’re unaware of the lines of play, then Obstagoon players will pick you off pretty easily.

  • The first line of play to beat this deck is the Eldegoss loop in LucaMetal Zacian, which I talked about in-depth in my article.
  • The next line of play involves the paralysis option that PikaRom has. It’s a lot less reliable, but if timed well, you can just win the game with a Tandem Shock or Tingly Return-GX. Whenever it’s possible against Obstagoon, you need to be picking off their Benched Pokémon in order to be able to apply pressure at the end of the game.
  • The third and final “common” line of play is with Blacephalon UNB. Depending on your list, you should have access to some amount of Boss’s Orders, Cramorant V, and Blacephalon-GX. My list plays all three, and I’m 6-0 against Obstagoon. Basically, you need to be applying pressure on whatever their Active Pokémon is in the early game. Then, you need to be able to either Boss + Spit Shot in order to take down their Obstagoon, or Bursting Burn in order to confuse it. Through a combination of these things, it is entirely too easy to beat the deck that is supposed to “auto-win” decks like Baby Blowns.

As a note, Dragapult should already be beating Obstagoon decks and Combo Zacian has no real answer beyond applying pressure really fast and hoping to take all of their Prizes before they get locked. Spiritomb also seemingly doesn’t have a solid answer to Obstagoon.

Answers to Obstagoon

There are a few cards out there that increase your chances of beating this matchup, but they definitely do not make it incredibly favored.

The reasoning behind Phione feels pretty obvious, especially with Boss’s Orders in format. The goal of Crushing Hammers would be to either force them to find a new attachment every turn in order to attack, or prevent an attack altogether by hitting two heads in one turn. Finally, the Evolved Pokémon tech only really works in Metal decks. You can easily add a 1-1 Copperajah VMAX to make the Obstagoon matchup much easier and less time consuming. I personally wouldn’t do this, but if you’re worried about this matchup, then it’s certainly an option.

2. Yveltal-GX

This one branches off of the Obstagoon matchup, because it is somewhat common there as well as in Spiritomb. It’s really not that hard to play around this thing unless you’re drawing badly. I’ll go over most decks’ answers to it anyway though.

  • LucaMetal/Zacian: Don’t attack with a LucaMetal that has 20–40 damage on it already. If it’s damaged, then either switch attackers or just heal it.
  • Dragapult: If they’re using Yveltal-GX, they’re likely doing it wrong, but I can see some scenarios where it could happen. The best answer I have here is to either KO it before it matters or switch Dragapults.
  • Combo Zacian: Again, if they’re using it before they can win with it that turn, it’s probably a good thing for you. Yveltal-GX looks like an extra Prize card in the eyes of a Combo player.
  • PikaRom: This is the matchup where it’s actually relevant to deal with. The best answer I can give you here is to try and rotate out attackers and avoid using TAG TEAMs if possible. Boltund V is pretty solid against Spiritomb, and usually can take 2 KOs before it’s KO’d.
  • Blacephalon: If the Spiritomb player is using Yveltal-GX against Blacephalon, then there’s a bigger issue.

3. Black Market p

Continuing the trend of Dark-type cards, Black Market p has the potential to just beat certain decks if you’re unprepared for it. For instance, my LucaMetal/Zacian list doesn’t have a Stadium to bounce Black Market p. However, I’ve found that I can somewhat easily run them out of attackers or Energy before they take all of their Prizes. However, in a format where losing a match is basically a death sentence, I would encourage everyone to play at least one way around this card. Here are all of the answers to Black Market p.

Answers to Black Market p

Yes, that’s right everyone, Stadiums are indeed a counter to Black Market p. Amazing, I know. But what if you don’t want to play a Stadium because they don’t help you anywhere else? That’s where these cards come in.

Marshadow has the added bonus of being searchable with Quick Ball or Mysterious Treasure, and can also technically KO Buzzwole FLI and Nihilego LOT if you’re playing against Spiritomb/Ultra Beasts.

Eneporter is a card that I think could be very strong in this format. So many decks are playing Special Energy, and having a reliable way to move them around is pretty good. Obviously it’s an inferior Enhanced Hammer, but that’s not legal, and our only other options are Dangerous Drill and Crushing Hammer, both of which have other conditions to be met in order to work.

Finally, Zamazenta V is only playable in Metal decks, but it also fits a niche use against Dragapult VMAX. If your only reason for playing it is to counter Black Market p, then please, just play a Marshadow and be done with it. However, because it helps so much against Dragapult, I’ve found it to be somewhat viable in both Zacian decks.

4. Alolan Persian-GX

Yes, this card is somewhat rare to see now, but I would be unsurprised to see it in at least a few Players Cup decks in order to counter Blacephalon UNB. If I wasn’t already locked into my play mentally, I would probably try to find a way to build a counter deck to the meta, and this card would be involved in some way.

The easiest way for Blacephalon to deal with this is to play Victini p, Cramorant V, or Victini V. However, I have seen more and more lists popping up that play none of these things and I feel the need to point out how big of an issue that could be for players in the Players Cup. Taking auto-losses is a bad idea.

5. Zamazenta V

I’m honestly not sure if this even belongs in this section because of how ineffective it can be, but for the sake of all you Dragapult players out there, I figured I would cover this thing. I’ve already talked about Zamazenta a bit, but that was as a counter, and not something to be countered. An unprepared Dragapult list can easily fall victim to an attacking Zamazenta V wall. To my knowledge, there’s a few ways to handle this.

Both of these are able to deal with Zamazenta in their own way. Nihilego relies on your opponent going down to 2 Prizes, having a Zacian V in play, and not having a damage reduction effect in play. If those conditions are met, then you can 1HKO the Zacian V by copying Brave Blade. Unrealistic at best, but it is technically a counter. Malamar allows you to stream attackers that are otherwise unusable, but comes at the cost of space and consistency. I would rather lose to Zamazenta than commit so many slots to beating it. I still included it for the sake of transparency though.

Universal Techs

There are a lot of cards that can be teched into a lot of decks in this format. It’s a bit unusual to see this many, but that’s to be expected when sets are getting bigger and bigger. Obviously some of these cards fit better into certain decks, but all of them are viable in something.

Phione CEC

I honestly dislike Phione as a card, but it exists and has its purposes, so why not talk about it? Phione forces your opponent to switch which doesn’t seem like much but can sometimes win games. It’s mostly viable in decks like Blacephalon UNB and Dragapult VMAX, but I could see justification for it in the Zacian decks. There’s the obvious benefit of reseting Obstagoon when paired with a Boss, but sometimes your opponent will be ill-prepared to deal with sacrificing a Benched Pokémon. Another niche use would be to infinitely prevent deck-out if your opponent isn’t applying pressure and doesn’t play Bellelba & Brycen-Man.

Absol TEU

I talked about this in my LucaMetal article, but Jirachi is everywhere. That feels obvious enough to me.


Did someone say PikaRom? How About Cramorant V? Or even Dusk Mane Necrozma SM124? Yeah, Bench damage is a real issue in this format, and Mew can often save you from outright losing. Psypower is also an insanely good attack to put on a Basic with such a good Ability. There’s a lot of math that can be made perfect with Psypower. I will definitely have a Mew in my deck this weekend.

Giratina UNM

Scoop Up Net is a card, which makes coming-into-play effects even stronger because they are reusable. I’ve really only seen this played with Dragapult, but if you’re playing a deck with Scoop Up Nets, it’s at least worth considering Giratina.

Oranguru SSH

I love how good this card is. You get to see an extra card every turn, return a card to your deck, and essentially stack your next turn’s topdeck. In a format with Marnie, being able to put a card on top of your deck that keeps your hand alive if your opponent plays Marnie is incredibly good. You can also swap a M Energy from you hand onto the top of your deck in order to hit an Energy off of Intrepid Sword, which is also very good.

Marshadow UNB

Searchable Stadium counter. That’s really all that needs to be said.

Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

10 damage may not seem like a lot, but then you remember that Scoop Up Net is a card. A lot of math gets fixed by a simple 10 or 20 damage, which makes this card way too playable for what it is.

Mewtwo UNB

With Eldegoss V coming into the format, I didn’t expect this card to be very relevant, but after playing it in Blacephalon, I realized just how good it was when paired with Scoop Up Net. At times, it’s even better than Eldegoss because it acts as Marnie protection.

Tapu Fini UNM

One word: Blacephalon.

In all seriousness, only play this card if it’s going to actually help the matchup improve.

Picking a Deck for the Players Cup

What I’m about to say applies only to the Players Cup that is occurring this month. I hate writing this so much that it hurts. Play what’s comfortable for you. There. I said it. I actively dislike this concept for real events because it encourages laziness while testing that will inevitably bite you at some point. However, if you qualified for the Players Cup, I feel it’s safe to assume you did at least some testing in the form of playing in those horrifying 8-man pods.

The other reason I’m telling you to play what you’re comfortable with is because of TCGO. “See a Button, Click a Button” syndrome is a real thing with TCGO and has caused me to play badly so many times it’s not even funny. In order to prevent yourself from making fatal mistakes like clicking the Benched Pokémon instead of the Active for Scoop Up Net (we’ve all done it), you need to be somewhat familiar with the cards in your deck and how they have you interact on TCGO’s interface.

There is also the format of the event to think about. One loss is kinda sorta acceptable, but leads to you playing a lot more rounds than if you had never lost. The format is matchup based enough as it is, but an experienced player of certain decks can find loopholes in those bad matchups in order to squeak out wins that could have easily been losses.

As a player in the Cup, and as a writer, I cannot in good conscience tell you to play any specific deck. I don’t think that there even is a “BDIF” in this format. The best advice I can give you today is to build your deck in order to avoid auto-losses, and be familiar with how your deck plays on TCGO.

Final Thoughts

No bug catching this weekend, please.

If y’all hadn’t figured it out yet by the excessive mentions of LucaMetal, I’m almost assuredly playing that in the event. I’m incredibly excited to play this weekend, as it’s my first “major” event since the end of physical tournaments.

One thing I should note for everyone. TCGO has plenty of bugs. Do not try to exploit these during the Players Cup. Not only is it strictly unsportsmanlike, it feels likely that you would face some sort of penalty for doing so. On that same note, I recommend that each and every one of you take physical note of whenever your opponent plays a Supporter during their turn and watch carefully for a second one. There is a judge staff for these events, and your Player’s Log within the match can serve as physical proof of a bug being exploited.

That’s all from me for today. I hope everyone who qualified for their region’s Players Cup has fun playing in it, and maybe some success.

Until the next one.

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