The Beak of the Squid

Malamar for the POG (UPR–DAA) and Charizard VMAX Post-Rotation (TEU–DAA)
“…whenever and wherever opportunity offers…”

Hello again readers, I’m back with you for my first article that has decks from Darkness Ablaze. There are a few online events that will be played in both UPR–DAA and TEU–DAA, so there’s at least some relevance to the formats. The POG Championship is the “biggest” event that has been announced for the next month or so. However, there are players that won’t be playing in that event, or will also be playing in the other smaller online events that will be run in a different format.

The most notable thing about POG is that it is run in the UPR–DAA format, which format comprises one of the biggest card pools ever for the Standard format. I’m of the opinion that this format was never intended to be played for a major event, but that’s both irrelevant and not backed up by any real facts. However, since the format is going to be relevant, there’s a lot of work that needs to go into it in order to do well.

I personally haven’t done all that much work yet, mostly because I don’t have Tabletop Simulator, but I’ve made plenty of theoretical deck builds in my head. Unfortunately, this means I don’t have a solid grasp on specific interactions in matchups, and can only provide my thoughts as to how things should probably go.

Malamar for the POG (UPR–DAA)

That’s right everyone. Malamar isn’t gone just yet. I feel obligated to at least try and make this deck viable for the last event it will ever be legal for. Michael Catron posted a list on his Twitter last week, which is going to be pretty similar to mine. This is something that’s mostly been sitting in the back of my head for a month or so, but I did at least put it into PTCGO at some point. Aside from the sentimental value that it has for me, Malamar is actually not that terrible of a deck in this format, mostly because of its ability to chain attackers that require lots of Energy and only give up a single Prize card.


Pokémon (20)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

1 Crabrawler UNB

1 Crabominable UNB

4 Jirachi TEU

2 Giratina LOT

1 Latios-GX UNM

1 Mew V

1 Milotic V

1 Rhyperior V

Trainer (32)

4 Cynthia

4 Professor’s Research

2 Boss’s Orders


4 Acro Bike

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

2 Ordinary Rod


2 Escape Board


2 Viridian Forest

Energy (8)

6 P Energy

1 F Energy

1 W Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 20

* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 1 Crabrawler UNB 104
* 1 Crabominable UNB 105
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Latios-GX UNM 78
* 1 Mew V DAA 69
* 1 Milotic V RCL 43
* 1 Rhyperior V DAA 95

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 4 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Switch SSH 183
* 4 Acro Bike CES 123
* 2 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 2 Viridian Forest TEU 156

##Energy - 8

* 6 P Energy Energy 6
* 1 W Energy Energy 3
* 1 F Energy Energy 5

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

Card Choices

1-1 Crabominable UNB

Eternatus VMAX is the deck to beat in this format, and Crabominable is pretty good at doing just that. The reasons I’ve opted to play Crabrawler instead of Ditto p are that Eternatus can feasibly use Galarian Zigzagoon SSH four times in a single turn, and that Ditto p goes to the Lost Zone and cannot be recovered with Ordinary Rod.

1 Latios-GX UNM

Maybe this is just wishful thinking on my part, but I’d like to think that I have a reasonable shot of beating ADPZ with Clear Vision-GX in play. There are also a couple of fringe uses against things like PikaRom and Ultimate Mew3, but those are a lot less relevant.

1 Mew V

I’m super happy that both Catron and I came up with this independently, because it lends credence to my thoughts that this card is genuinely good in Malamar. A common theme in UPR–DAA is that there are a lot of Pokémon that have high attack costs. Centiskorch VMAX is the most obvious offender here, but you can occasionally KO things like a Zacian V that has taken a damage counter from Distortion Door. Mew V is the only Pokémon in your deck that can deal major damage without relying on Weakness.

1 Milotic V

The first time I considered this card as a Centiskorch counter was in a rather horrible Porygon-Z Box, which would actually be somewhat viable if it wasn’t a Stage 2 deck. However, for whatever reason I ignored it when building Malamar. This idea was pirated from Catron’s list, as I had accepted that Centiskorch was going to be a rough matchup. Milotic V is capable of doing 160 damage without Weakness to a Centiskorch with Aqua Impact, which is conveniently enough to 1HKO the relatively low 320 HP of the VMAX.

1 Rhyperior V

ebay.comI’m happy to say that I came up with this one independently of Catron, but it was pretty obvious that it would be a decent Eternatus counter. I’ve been bouncing back and forth on whether I even need to play this in the deck because of Crabominable. However, I’ve determined through some rather complex mental gymnastics that the card is still worthy of the space it occupies. Unlike Milotic V’s Aqua Impact, Heavy Rock Artillery (which can 1HKO an Eternatus) costs 4 Energy. This makes it much more difficult to successfully attack with it. I’ve mentally messed with the idea of playing Karate Belt and Lana’s Fishing Rod in order to make it easier to attack; however, I obviously haven’t gotten to test that yet.

2 Ordinary Rod

The greedy counts of basic Energy and type-specific attackers make this count quite necessary. The deck also plays a rather large amount of cards that discard cards, which means recovery is pretty important for the late game.


Part of the draw of Malamar is that it has a bunch of matchups that are close to even and can be won through some combination of luck and skill. Some people would disagree with that notion, but I’m going to group them with the people who think Mill and Control take no skill to play well.


Roughly Even


  • Control

Charizard VMAX (TEU–DAA)

I wrote this article earlier than I needed to and didn’t know that Gabriel was going to cover this deck too. At least my list is somewhat different and plays differently.

There’s a list floating around on Twitter that was really shiny and is the basis for mine, so credit for the idea belongs to that person. Unfortunately, I lost the tweet and can’t find it for the life of me. My friend group and I heavily debated the viability of the combo of Volcarona-GX and Charizard VMAX. I am personally of the opinion that the deck is incredibly good.


Pokémon (19)

3 Charizard V

3 Charizard VMAX

2 Larvesta CEC

2 Volcarona-GX

4 Volcanion UNB

2 Crobat V

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Eldegoss V

1 Heatran-GX

Trainer (28)

4 Welder

2 Boss’s Orders

2 Piers

2 Professor’s Research


4 Pokémon Communication

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

3 Fire Crystal


3 Giant Hearth

Energy (13)

10 R Energy

3 Triple Acceleration Energy


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 19

* 3 Charizard V DAA 19
* 3 Charizard VMAX DAA 20
* 2 Larvesta CEC 34
* 2 Volcarona-GX CEC 35
* 4 Volcanion UNB 25
* 2 Crobat V DAA 104
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 1 Eldegoss V RCL 19
* 1 Heatran-GX UNM 25

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 2 Professor’s Research SSH 178
* 2 Piers DAA 165
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 4 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 4 Switch SSH 183
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 3 Giant Hearth UNM 197

##Energy - 13

* 10 R Energy Energy 2
* 3 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 190

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

Card Choices

3-3 Charizard VMAX

ebay.comI’m curious to see if I can get away with a 3-2 count at some point, but right now I’ve opted to for consistency rather than take the risk of bad Prize cards ending my game too quickly. Charizard VMAX is pretty similar to every other Charizard-EX/GX/Mega that’s been printed. It does a lot of damage for some sort of recoil cost. This time the cost is the discarding of Energy, which might seem problematic, but Triple Acceleration Energy covers that cost extremely well.

2-2 Volcarona-GX

You know, I never thought I’d be able to say the words, “300 damage just isn’t enough, how can we do enough to 1HKO things?” The highest HP in the format right now belongs to Eternatus VMAX at 340, which is also an incredibly relevant archetype in the meta. Volcarona-GX is reminiscent of Decidueye-GX, but it has the draw of being a Stage 1 and is legal to play in Standard format decks. Funny how that works, right? It is also a somewhat decent attacker in certain scenarios.

4 Volcanion UNB

This card has a lot of uses in this deck. Unlike Green’s ReshiZard, where this card was mostly only used to set up, this is also a great attacker in a format full of Metal types and 110–130-HP Basic attackers. Of course, Volcanion itself caps at 110 damage, but with Volcarona-GX around, that number is increased to a high enough output to 1HKO Blacephalon UNB. That’s not to say that using Flare Starter is a bad thing. I don’t know if I would go so far as to choose going second every game, but if you do lose the flip, then you have a great setup option. As an aside, regarding going first or second: I would assume that going first is almost always optimal because of your multiple Evolutions.

2 Crobat V, 1 Dedenne-GX, 1 Eldegoss V

Ahh yes, every single support Pokémon V/GX that I can play. Lovely. Crobat V is an amazing addition to the game, and has a surprisingly high amount of synergy with this particular deck. Dedenne-GX is here for all of the normal reasons. Need to see up to 19 cards in a turn? Sure, why not. Eldegoss V is something I’m not sold on yet, but having access to Welder or Piers from a Pokémon search card seems very good.

2 Piers

At first glance, this card seems terrible. Once you get past just how underwhelming it seems and then realize that Guzma & Hala saw/sees play, you end up seeing it as a much stronger card. Part of the draw of this deck is being able to abuse Triple Acceleration Energy. Piers conveniently searches out a Special Energy and a D Pokémon, or, in other words, a Crobat V and Triple Acceleration Energy.

3 Fire Crystal, 3 Giant Hearth

One thing I disliked about the original list from Twitter was that it only ran two copies of each of these. I personally feel like I would be at risk of running out of R Energies or not being able to find them when needed with such low counts. Two more cards to help in this endeavor might not seem like much, but the increased chance of drawing an out to multiple R Energies is actually increased quite a bit.

3 Triple Acceleration Energy

This brings back so many memories for me. At the 2019 NAIC, I only played three copies of this in my Gardevoir/Swampert list, which in hindsight was both a terrible list and even worse decision to play. However, unlike Gardevoir-GX, this deck has other attackers and should be taking Prizes much faster. If I’m attacking with Charizard VMAX more than three times a game, then I feel like I’ve either already won, or I could use 5 R Energy to do a fourth attack. Piers also adds an extra layer of security against whiffing an Energy.


Again, there’s been no real testing beyond simulated game situations in my head, but that doesn’t mean I know nothing. Everything I’m going to write in this section is theoretical or information provided from somebody else. As it is, I’m keeping this section rather concise due to that lack of concrete information. I’ll also probably miss or forget a few decks that will see some sort of play.

Positive Matchups


  • ADPZ (should likely be favored, but needs actual testing)
  • Inteleon VMAX (undetermined)
  • Fire Box


Final Thoughts

I’m excited to finally get to jump into the formats after this weekend once Darkness Ablaze is live on PTCGO. Obviously, up until the weekend of POG, I’m going to be directing my efforts toward UPR–DAA. After that is where the real fun beings for me.

It’s unfortunate that Gabriel and I managed to both choose Charizard VMAX to talk about this week, but I think that goes to show that the deck is strong in the next format. I personally will be putting almost all of my effort into Charizard come rotation. The TEU–DAA format is looking to be a bit unbalanced at first, but I’m hoping that given time it’ll flesh out into a decent format.
Let’s talk POG.

Before I end this one, I want to talk about the POG Championship event’s structure, predicted meta, and what I’m likely to be playing for the event. First and foremost, the event is divided up into two days, much like how Worlds would be. In order to advance past Day 1, a player needs to go X-3 in 25-minute Bo1 Swiss. This is nearly identical to what the players who played in the Limitless Online Series experienced. It is important to note that the short rounds can cause certain decks to be less viable and others become most powerful. I personally dislike that format, and am happy that I do not have to play in Day 1.

That leads me to my next point, which is Day 2. The playing format here is nearly identical to a typical Worlds Day 2, except that it will likely be much bigger due to the inclusion of every age division. The decks that do well in Day 1 will likely not be the same as the ones that see success in Day 2. For instance, I would not play Malamar in Day 1, but I could see playing it in Day 2.
Players will get the new cards they need.

Onto the meta. I personally believe that there will be no shortage of cards on PTCGO, besides maybe Crobat V. You should not go in with the mentality that there will not be as much Eternatus VMAX as there could be, simply because people may not have the cards. Anyone playing in this event likely has access to some number of code cards, and shouldn’t have too much difficulty in acquiring everything they need for a single deck. Do not underestimate people’s resources.

With that I mind, I fully expect to see a large number of Eternatus VMAX players, a relatively large portion of Control players, and a decent number of Vikavolt V. I would also be unsurprised to see Blacephalon get in on the action here, but Vikavolt should hopefully keep those numbers down a bit. I personally expect PikaRom to be nearly non-existent because of Eternatus.

Finally, onto what I’ll likely end up doing. Unlike Worlds, I don’t feel like much of anything is at stake here, so I’ll likely test much less than I should. This leaves me with a few options:

  1. I can play a Control deck and hope that the matchups favor me.
  2. I can play a deck like Malamar which is aimed at letting me out-luck/skill my opponent, while still being enjoyable for me.
  3. Or, finally, I can play Eternatus VMAX. There’s no denying how powerful the deck is, and who knows? Maybe I would be the lucky one to make it through the event on hitting good matchups.

I’m going to end this one here. I hope that everyone is able to find some enjoyment in the online events that are being run. The PTCGO update of Tournament Keys gives me hope for some sort of official online series, which would be absolutely incredible. As always, stay safe everyone.

Until the next one.

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Reader Interactions

2 replies

  1. Ryan O’Rourke

    Nice article.

    Is this the twitter source for the Charzard VMAX list?

    One change he noted was dropping Heatran GX for a third Larvesta to make it easier to get two Volcarona in play vs. Eternatus.

    Also, though it’s probably not too relevant in the new format, i can tell you this deck absolutety demolishes Dragapult VMAX.

  2. Bnawbary

    Great Article, I do agree with the higher stadium count in general for all fire decks. There’s so much value over time with them.

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