Release the Owls

Players Cup Finals Mini-Recap, Tips for Players Cup II, On Overcoming Pokémon Fatigue, and Finding Fun in Silly (But Competitive!) Decklists
Swooping in! (And without Decidueye.)

Hi Underground readers! My name is Sam Taylor, I’m from the UK, and I’ve played Pokémon competitively on-and-off for around 10 years now. My Pokémon journey started as a Junior qualifying for the 2010 Video Game World Championships, before a Nationals win in Seniors in the TCG in 2013 brought me to the TCG. Since then, I qualified for Worlds in Masters in 2015 just missing out on Day 2, before taking a hiatus to focus on university (only attending the odd local event).

When I heard Worlds 2020 was going to be in London, I knew I had to jump back in. I attended a couple of Regional Championships, won a League Cup, started racking up points… And we all know how the rest went. Just as I was beginning to get back into the swing of things, organized play stopped—with little sign in-person events are coming back anytime soon.

But then Pokémon announced the Players Cup. Finally, an online event with some real prizing! I knew I had to take it seriously, and after the qualifiers I found myself somehow in the final 16 vying for the Internationals trips. It feels great to be back.

Back when I was a wee Senior, I did actually write a few articles for SixPrizes—feel free to check out my author bio after this article! I’m super excited to be back writing my first Underground article; it feels like I’ve come full circle. Today, I’m going to be going over what I learned from making the final of the first Players Cup; some musings on the current format and how to get through waning interest; and some of the decklists I’ve enjoyed using in the second Players Cup.

Players Cup Finals Mini-Recap

Way back a few months ago…

As I alluded to, the first Players Cup ended up going very well for me. I made the Top 256 in Europe cutoff easily in the first round, before bringing Zacian V/Jirachi p (aka Zacian Combo) to the European Qualifier. I managed to win my first seven matches outright, placing me in the Top 4 in Europe and securing one of the 16 places in the Players Cup Final in August.

The finals themselves were far less exciting. TPCi ended up scheduling them when I was traveling in a rather rural part of Britain—the Scottish Highlands. This resulted in me playing the finals matches on an iPad using 4G! The switch to the post-rotation format only a few days after rotation had occurred on TCGO made testing very difficult, so I took the tried and tested Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX/Zacian V (check out my list here) which seemed to lose very little from rotation. Although I was quite happy with my list, I ended up with a rough Loss-Win-Loss Top 12 finish after facing two Centiskorch VMAX and having to settle for a turn three Altered Creation more than I care to think about.

Tips for Players Cup II

As the original Players Cup was some time ago now, I won’t labor you with an in-depth recap of my matches. Instead, I’ll share some key tips I learnt from my run in the first Players Cup—and some reasons why the Top 16 Finals did not go so well. These mostly echo Brandon Jones’s tips in his excellent article from last week, but I wanted to share my take on these tips:

1. Make the most of open decklists. Obviously, open decklists allows you to know exactly which techs your opponent is playing and plan your game around that: if you see a Milotic V and you’re playing Centiskorch VMAX, you know you need to be wary that your opponent can easily 1-shot your VMAX. More subtly, it also lets you keep track of your opponent’s resource usage and take advantage when they run low. For example, check out this turn during my Players Cup Finals match:

Early in the game, my opponent using Eternatus VMAX played 2 Air Balloon down and used 2 Switch in order to keep using Hoopa DAA’s Assault Gate. I noticed only 2 Switch and 2 Air Balloon in their decklist. Thus, I knew that if I used Boss’s Orders, my opponent would have no way to retreat a Crobat V without committing an Energy to it, leaving no option to use Eternatus VMAX’s Dread End attack for a KO next turn. As such, I used Boss’s Orders to buy myself a turn for sure. This is a luxury you do not have with closed decklists: my opponent could plausibly have been playing more switching cards, making the move very risky rather. Although it’s a game I still ended up losing (check out the full match), it’s a great example of how you can use open decklists to your advantage.

2. Feel comfortable with your deck. Knowing your deck inside-out is more important than ever. The converse of Point #1 also applies to open decklists: your opponent knows every single card in your deck, too. Because of that, you need to be one step ahead of them and make sure you know why each card is there. Otherwise, you run the risk of your opponent taking advantage of you.

One of the cards you could take an auto-loss to.

3. Don’t take a deck with very lopsided matchups—find something with very few terrible/auto-loss matchups. Double elimination is absolutely brutal: two losses and you’re out. Taking an auto-loss to any deck you could reasonably expect to face once or more is thus a very risky decision. You might be Knocked Out with little reflection on how you played in the event itself by virtue of hitting your auto-loss twice, or hitting it once and getting bad draws in another match. (Conversely, if you’re not feeling at all confident in your playing ability, taking a deck with lopsided matchups might be a good idea—but be aware this approach leaves a lot more to the luck of the draw in single- or double-elimination events.) In Swiss, you might still be fine if you ran into an auto-loss or two; X-2 records often make cut. In elimination events, there’s no such luck. Part of what drew me to Zacian V/Jirachi p in the previous Players Cup was that it had fairly even matchups against most decks, and it meant I was never scared when seeing my opponent’s decklist.

en.wikipedia.org
This is not normally where I’d play a game of Pokémon.

4. Make sure you have a good playing environment! Compared to just playing ladder, these events are equally far more exciting and nerve-wracking. Make sure you’ve got a good space to play in where you can be free for interruptions, had plenty of sleep and feel sufficiently psyched up before playing. Although playing on my iPad with the Scottish Highlands as my backdrop was amazing in its own right (and playing on 4G turned out to be fine), it wasn’t ideal for concentrating on the game. It all sounds very basic, but it’s easy to overlook these things when playing at home as opposed to a real-life tournament: like we’ve all adjusted to working from home since March, it’s important to bring the tournament atmosphere home.

Player’s Block: On Overcoming Pokémon Fatigue

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There is such a thing as too much Pokémon.

After the success of the first Players Cup, I was beyond excited when Play! Pokémon announced that there would be a second one, especially since they seemed to have addressed some of the concerns of the first by introducing Tournament Keys and reducing the regional qualifiers to two weekends instead of three. However, playing the new format more, I found myself struggling to keep interest and enjoyment. Games seemed to end far too quickly for any chance at either player outplaying the other, and the raw speed and power of ADP-GX and Eternatus VMAX kept a lot of slower and more interesting decks from having any chance at all.

A spell of dodgy finishes in qualifying tournaments followed. How could I go from being more interested in competitive Pokémon TCG than I have been in years along, with one of my best results to date, to finding the format less enjoyable than ever, feeling like every deck sucks and with a string of bad results?

A Boring Format?

“Don’t look at me…”

On the one hand, I think there is merit to the “boring format” argument: anecdotally, complaints about the format seem to be a lot higher than they have been in years. I don’t want to wade in on whether the format is “good or bad”; a proper discussion about how we might think about what a “good” or “bad” format looks like, let alone try to measure it, deserves its own article. However, I’m happy to put on the record that I think this format is not the most fun ever.

That sentiment seems to be shared by a lot of people. There have been countless articles, social media discussions, and videos arguing for an ADP ban. I’d like to broaden that discussion to include another problematic card: Boss’s Orders. Here’s why:

  1. ADP would be significantly less of a threat without Boss’s Orders.
  2. Eternatus + Boss would still be very oppressive and “gatekeeping” if ADP were to be banned.
  3. It significantly harms any kind of setup deck.
  4. We’ve had this Supporter or similar for a very long time now, and it’s time for something new.

As Alex Schemanske eloquently argued, the extremely fast and monotonous nature of the format is a result of a number of cards. Boss would certainly be far less of an issue if you couldn’t draw the huge number of cards in one turn allowed by Crobat V and Dedenne-GX. ADP-GX/Zacian V is even beginning to run Oricorio-GX! This means a typical ADP-GX/Zacian V list can draw a maximum of 15 cards to dig for Boss’s Orders in a turn following a KO (over a quarter of the deck once Prize cards are accounted for). This combination of reducing the number of KOs needed to take 6 Prizes, the ability to gust up any Pokémon, and the potential to draw up to 15 cards a turn all contribute to why ADP-GX/Zacian V is such a meta-defining deck.

While removing any one of these factors might “solve” the “ADPZ problem,” I doubt it would be sufficient to fix the broader issues with speed in the format—they go much further than one card. If we are looking for a single “silver bullet” ban to spice up the format, I hope I’ve broadened that discussion by suggesting Boss’s Orders as a candidate, though a reprint featuring Lysandre recently announced in Japan leaves little hope for this.

It’s Not You, It’s Me

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Peace out! (Just for a little while.)

On the other hand, this is a trading card game: some formats are naturally going to be less fun than others, and different people are going to differ as to which formats they think are more fun. So, as someone who has until recently loved playing the game again and wants to capitalize on my momentum from the previous Players Cup: what am I to do?

Firstly, I went with the obvious: I took a break. After grinding out tournaments for the first weekend with little luck, I left it for a couple of weeks and came back… feeling a little less frustrated with the format, but not exactly on top form. Crushing Hammer seemed to have come from nowhere and be cropping up in nearly every archetype, and my heart sank. A fast, 3–4-turn format with 4 flip cards? No thank you sir.

What I needed was a bigger change in mindset. As Emery Taylor talked about last month in his thought-provoking article, the break had put fun back at the front of my mind. However, I still saw the format as a bore and a chore. It wasn’t until I started seeing the issues I had with the format as a challenge to overcome, rather than some inherent unsurmountable problem, that I turned my testing around. I made it my challenge to maximize fun in a format that before had seemed a monotony of (at best) 4-turn games.

This made it clear that, as someone who owes much of their 2015 Worlds Invite to Dragonite-EX (yes, the Furious Fists one), I needed to go back to my roots: making silly decklists that respond to the format while making me laugh.

Finding Fun in Silly (But Competitive!) Decklists

Three spicy decklists carried me through the latter half of the Players Cup II qualifying events: a fairly conventional Centiskorch VMAX/Green’s Exploration list with a small twist in 2 Hyper Potion, a more experimental Mewtwo & Mew-GX/Welder list, and a completely off-the-wall Roxie/Sableye V/Bird Keeper deck. I’ve included the decklists below, along with brief rationales for the lists and some of the card choices, so that you might get some of the same success and enjoyment I had with them.

How Much Did You Just Heal?!: Centiskorch VMAX/Hyper Potion

Pokémon (15)

3 Centiskorch V

3 Centiskorch VMAX

3 Magnemite CEC 242

3 Magneton CEC

2 Volcanion UNB

1 Cramorant V

Trainer (33)

4 Green’s Exploration

4 Welder

2 Boss’s Orders

2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy

 

4 Quick Ball

3 Evolution Incense

2 Fire Crystal

2 Hyper Potion

2 Reset Stamp

2 Switch

1 Energy Spinner

1 Scoop Up Net

 

1 Air Balloon

1 Big Charm

 

2 Giant Hearth

Energy (12)

12 R

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 15

* 3 Centiskorch V DAA 33
* 3 Centiskorch VMAX DAA 191
* 3 Magnemite CEC 242
* 3 Magneton CEC 69
* 2 Volcanion UNB 25
* 1 Cramorant V SSH 155

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 3 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 200
* 2 Hyper Potion SSH 166
* 2 Giant Hearth UNM 197
* 1 Energy Spinner UNB 170
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Big Charm SSH 158
* 2 Lt. Surge’s Strategy UNB 178
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 2 Fire Crystal UNB 173
* 1 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Green's Exploration UNB 175
* 2 Switch SSH 183

##Energy - 12

* 12 R Energy SWSHEnergy 2

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=82717 ******

This decklist is not worlds apart from the typical Centiskorch VMAX/Green’s Exploration/Magneton build. Go second, Flare Starter Energy onto 1 or 2 Centiskorch VMAX, then use Magneton’s Ability to search for Lt. Surge’s Strategy to use 2 Supporters (usually 2 Welder, 1 Welder + 1 Green’s Exploration, or 1 Green’s Exploration + 1 Boss’s Orders) to establish a commanding lead. However, there are a few card choices in this list worth explaining:

2 Hyper Potion

With Green’s Exploration, you can search both of these out in one turn and heal up to 240 damage. This combo was incredibly fun, and very effective in many matchups that struggle to 1-shot Centiskorch VMAX. It’s particularly effective in two scenarios:

  1. When you are content taking a 2HKO anyway. For example, Eternatus VMAX is very hard to 1HKO with this deck, in which case the loss of 2–4 Energies is often worth the price for the healing.
  2. When you don’t need many Energy to 2-shot. This is mostly apparent vs. the few 1-Prize decks that do exist (such as Mad Party) and ADP/Zacian, since Zacian V and Mawile-GX can both be 1-shot by Centiskorch VMAX with only 2 R Energy attached.

It is worth making a note about this combo in relation to my earlier section concerning the unique best-of-three open decklist structure of the next stage of the Players Cup. Part of the reason this combo was so effective in qualifying events was because my opponents did not know it was coming. As such, they often made plays which allowed me to use the Hyper Potions to the most effect: for example, settling for a game plan of going for a 2HKO on my Centiskorch VMAX rather than risking digging further for a 1HKO. This was often the more effective play if they had known I wasn’t running the 2 Hyper Potion—but if a crafty opponent knows you are running it, they’re sure to take advantage of that when organizing their game plans. Bear in mind whether an event is open- or closed-decklist when considering this type of strategy.

1 Cramorant V

I came across one Bronzong TEU before adding this card, and that was enough to convince me to add it to the list! It has also proved very useful as a third gusting effect to finish games by KOing a Dedenne-GX. If you’re playing a Swiss-style event where auto-losses matter less, you may prefer to cut Cramorant V for something else.

1 Scoop Up Net

This card allows you to take advantage of Volcanion UNB surviving the turn after you Flare Starter. Generally, you want the opponent to have to draw 8 Prize cards: two 3-Prize Centiskorch VMAX, and two 1-Prize Pokémon. By using Scoop Up Net on Volcanion, this allows you (1) to use both Magneton allowing for an explosive turn two and (2) insurance against Reset Stamp/Marnie in the late game.

1 Air Balloon

Originally, this slot went to a Vitality Band to allow Volcanion UNB to one-hit Zamazenta V. However, as the metagame progressed, I noticed more ADP/Zacian lists beginning to include Milotic V over Zamazenta V to counter Centiskorch VMAX’s increasing popularity. Given the ability of this deck to use 2 Welder per turn with Magneton CEC and Lt. Surge’s Strategy, I decided that using Centiskorch V’s Burning Train would be sufficient for any Zamazenta V. Furthermore, Lucario & Melmetal-GX variants of Zamazenta V survive a High-Heat Blast with Vitality Band anyway. As such, I decided to dedicate the slot to 1 Air Balloon instead, which serves as an effective counter to Milotic V (reducing its huge 380 damage following an Altered Creation to just 180) in that matchup and as an extra switching out for Volcanion UNB and Magneton in other matchups. Now that Tool Scrapper is gaining popularity again, the slot may be better placed for other cards, but its general utility outside of its use as a Milotic V counter makes it worth considering.

A Twist on an Old Classic: Welder/Aurora Energy/Mew3

Pokémon (17)

3 Dedenne-GX

3 Mewtwo & Mew-GX

1 Charizard-GX SM211

1 Crobat V

1 Eldegoss V

1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

1 Greninja-GX SM197

1 Incineroar-GX TEU

1 Indeedee V

1 Milotic V

1 Naganadel-GX UNM

1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

1 Rhyperior V

Trainer (30)

4 Welder

2 Boss’s Orders

 

4 Cherish Ball

4 Pokégear 3.0

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

2 Reset Stamp

 

2 Big Charm

1 Air Balloon

 

3 Giant Hearth

Energy (13)

9 R

4 Aurora

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 17

* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 3 Mewtwo & Mew-GX UNM 222
* 1 Charizard-GX PR-SM 211
* 1 Crobat V DAA 182
* 1 Eldegoss V RCL 176
* 1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Greninja-GX PR-SM 197
* 1 Incineroar-GX TEU 97
* 1 Indeedee V SSH 192
* 1 Milotic V RCL 43
* 1 Naganadel-GX UNM 249
* 1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX PR-SM 201
* 1 Rhyperior V DAA 95

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 4 Cherish Ball UNM 191
* 2 Boss’s Orders RCL 200
* 3 Giant Hearth UNM 197
* 4 Welder UNB 189
* 4 Pokégear 3.0 UNB 182
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 4 Switch SSH 183

##Energy - 13

* 9 R Energy SWSHEnergy 2
* 4 Aurora Energy SSH 186

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=82717 ******

This deck was the brainchild of my testing partner and four-time Worlds competitor Jake Walvin (check out his stream), and I used it for most of the last 20 Players Cup II qualifiers. Big shoutout to Jake, Freya (who wrote last week—check out her article if you haven’t already!), and the rest of Team Cake for helping me test for both Players Cups.

By combining the traditional Mew3 strategy (copy whichever attack is best in a given turn from the included Pokémon-GX) with attackers of different types to hit popular decks for Weakness powered by Aurora Energy, the deck intended to be a Mew3 list with “answers to everything.” Of the 15 tournaments I played with the deck, I only missed points twice, and took it to a 4-2 finish at last week’s Full Grip Games tournament.

1 Milotic V

Milotic V helps improve the matchup against any Fire-type deck immensely. Most common Fire types are 1HKO’d by Milotic V’s Aqua Impact, from 1-Prize Pokémon (like Blacephalon UNB) to 3-Prize Pokémon (like Reshiram & Charizard-GX, Centiskorch VMAX, and the occasional Charizard VMAX with the help of Galarian Zigzagoon SSH’s Headbutt Tantrum).

1 Rhyperior V

Rhyperior V is intended to be a hard counter to PikaRom decks and Eternatus VMAX decks. Once powered up, the card is very difficult for PikaRom to deal with; even a Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX with 5 Energy attached fails to 1HKO a Big Charmed Rhyperior V with Lightning Ride-GX. The card is still effective vs. Eternatus VMAX, particularly if you can power it up by the second turn when Eternatus VMAX is less likely to be able to respond with a return 1HKO, but it can prove more of a liability later on when attaching 4 Energy becomes impossible with an onslaught of Boss’s Orders and 270-damage attacks.

1 Indeedee V

Indeedee V has three main purposes: (1) hitting opposing Mewtwo & Mew-GX for Weakness while only giving up 2 Prizes; (2) healing ping damage from Galarian Zigzagoon SSH’s Headbutt Tantrum; and (3) providing a way to punish decks that tend to stack lots of Energy onto one Pokémon, such as PikaRom and Centiskorch VMAX.

1 Greninja-GX SM197

This stops any Galarian Obstagoon SSH, Decidueye DAA, Altaria CPA, or Keldeo-GX from ruining your day by taking no damage from Mewtwo & Mew-GX, along with providing an efficient way to deal 130 damage for 2 Energy in games where you struggle to find Welder.

Game Plan

Moving on to the next stage of the Players Cup is a mixed bag for this deck. On the one hand, it loses some of its “surprise factor” with its techs which can come out of nowhere to take 2–3 Prizes. However, best-of-three helps mitigate the inconsistencies that come from the deck’s reliance on Welder, and its flexibility is a great advantage with open decklists: you can use the information gained from open decklists to best take advantage of attack choices and whether to go first or second.

Two key attacks in this Mewtwo & Mew-GX variant require 4 Energy: Charizard-GX’s Flare Blitz-GX and Rhyperior V’s Heavy Rock Artillery. As such, the deck prefers to go first in matchups where these attacks are crucial in order to have a chance at using these attacks on your second turn through two manual attachments and Welder—namely, vs. PikaRom and Eternatus VMAX (Heavy Rock Artillery) and ADP-GX (Flare Blitz-GX). Generally, if you can pull off a huge early KO against these decks, you tend to be so far ahead and can fall back on cleaning up the game with Naganadel-GX UNM’s Venom Shot taking KOs on Dedenne-GX or Crobat V in combination with Galarian Zigzagoon SSH’s Headbutt Tantrum or Reshiram & Charizard-GX’s Flare Strike.

Other matchups can be a little more tricky. Vs. Centiskorch VMAX variants, the deck prefers to go second to stop Volcanion UNB’s Flare Starter; Milotic V can also be powered up in one turn, meaning there is very little negative impact in going second. Generally, you’ll also want to go second vs. other Mewtwo & Mew-GX variants in order to get a Welder off before they can use either Rotom CEC’s Energy Assist or their own Welder. Against Lucario & Melmetal-GX variants, it’s generally good to go first and set up Reshiram & Charizard-GX as early as possible to take some easy KOs from Weakness (and get through Weakness Guard Energy with Double Blaze-GX if the opponent runs that).

A PSA: Never forget Mewtwo & Mew-GX’s own Miraculous Duo-GX in games where you fall behind early on: it can often help ensure Mewtwo & Mew-GX sticks around for another turn or two, which is often the difference between winning and losing.

0 Stealthy Hood?

One omission in this list is Stealthy Hood. Mimikyu CEC 97 has been rather rare recently, so relying on other attackers or healing off Headbutt Tantrum damage with Indeedee V’s Watch Over has been sufficient so far. However, if Mew3 becomes popular, copies of Mimikyu CEC 97 may begin to crop up more and more: in which case, Stealthy Hood is worth adding.

Crazy Claws: Roxie/Sableye V

Pokémon (23)

4 Koffing CEC

4 Weezing CEC

4 Jirachi TEU

3 Sableye V

2 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH

1 Crobat V

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Mew SM215

1 Mewtwo SM214

1 Oricorio-GX

1 Rowlet DAA

Trainer (28)

4 Roxie

2 Bird Keeper

1 Boss’s Orders

1 Grimsley

 

4 Quick Ball

4 Scoop Up Net

4 Switch

4 Turbo Patch

2 Pokémon Communication

1 Ordinary Rod

1 Tool Scrapper

Energy (9)

9 D

 

Copy List

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

##Pokémon - 23

* 4 Koffing CEC 243
* 4 Weezing CEC 77
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 3 Sableye V SSH 120
* 2 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Crobat V DAA 182
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 1 Mew PR-SM 215
* 1 Mewtwo PR-SM 214
* 1 Oricorio-GX CEC 95
* 1 Rowlet DAA 11

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 1 Grimsley UNM 199
* 2 Bird Keeper DAA 159
* 4 Roxie CEC 205
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Tool Scrapper RCL 168
* 1 Boss’s Orders RCL 189
* 2 Pokémon Communication TEU 152
* 4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Turbo Patch DAA 172
* 4 Switch SSH 183
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171

##Energy - 9

* 9 D Energy SWSHEnergy 7

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=82717 ******

I was initially not going to include this decklist as it is more of a “fun” deck, but I did end up running it for a few Players Cup qualifiers (including managing to take it to a win!) and it was a ton of fun. The main idea of the deck is to spread damage with Roxie in combation with the Blow-Away Bomb found on Weezing CEC and Koffing CEC before cleaning up with Sableye V’s Crazy Claws. At most, you need 5 damage counters to deal with Pokémon VMAX, while 3 is generally sufficient for Pokémon V or GX.

The deck is mainly built around trying to fit that crazy strategy into 60 cards, but there are a few choices worth explaining:

2 Bird Keeper, 1 Rowlet DAA

When building the deck, it was apparent that just running 4 Roxie was not going to be enough. The card required too many combos, and some kind of backup was needed.

Marnie and Professor’s Research are not great fits for this deck since it tends to build up a huge hand by drawing 6 cards with Roxie, and it rarely makes sense to get rid of that. Bird Keeper is great for this deck since it provides a way to keep making that hand bigger, move Jirachi TEU out of the Active, and unlock Rowlet DAA’s 0-Energy Wind Shard. Wind Shard combos amazingly with the chip damage from Roxie and Headbutt Tantrum, with just 1 damage counter needed to take a KO on Jirachi, and it helps to set up 1HKOs for Sableye V, taking Crazy Claws up to hitting 370 and KOing anything in the format.

4 Turbo Patch

Sableye V, at 170 HP, is hardly bulky for a 2-Prize Pokémon. Every single meta deck can 1-shot Sableye V at least once fairly easily. As such, streaming 2 Sableye V requires a turn of Energy acceleration, and unfortunately the coin-flipping Turbo Patch is the only card available. The deck can usually survive on one heads on one key turn, but I included four to maximize the chance of getting that heads on the turn you need it.

Grimsley

It might seem like a “meme card,” but Grimsley serves a very important purpose: putting enough damage counters onto a fresh 2- or 3-Prize Pokémon to KO it without needing a huge hand. 3 damage counters is normally sufficient when using Galarian Zigzagoon SSH’s Headbutt Tantrum to top up the additional 1 or 2 damage counters needed for TAG TEAMs and Pokémon VMAX. More importantly, I can guarantee nothing is more enjoyable than winning with a Grimsley plus Crazy Claws, either.

More of a “Fun” Deck

The deck succeeds by taking huge 1HKOs against 3-Prize Pokémon with the 2-Prize Sableye V. This is particularly effective against VMAX decks, who end up losing a 3-Prize Evolution they’d invested at least two turns into. The main problem for the deck is it is usually just not quite fast enough to keep up with ADP-GX. It can win against ADP, and when it does it is reasonably spectacular. If you can pull off a Roxie or two and get a KO before they Altered Creation, their board normally has enough damage counters for you to take two further KOs in the following two turns. However, usually they’ll pull off an early Altered Creation and take two KOs for the win. As such, I can’t seriously recommend this deck unless you figure a way to have a better matchup against ADP.

Final Thoughts

@playpokemon
What comes after “two”?

As a brief final aside, I hope Play! Pokémon further refine the initial qualification period for the inevitable Players Cup III. The tournament structure for the first two iterations has felt overly complicated. Tournaments require a hugely varied time commitment of anywhere from two minutes (for a second turn donk) to over an hour (for three long drawn-out games), and the unequal payouts per win for different placements (1 point/win for Top 4, 1.5/win for 2nd, and 1.67/win for 1st) arbitrarily rewards win streaks. For example, a record of Win-Win-Loss-Loss would result in 3 points in the current system (one Top 2 and one Top 8) while Win-Loss-Win-Loss would would result in 2 points (two Top 4s). What I’d like to see is a proper ranked mode, such as where players are given 150 “Game Keys” and placement is based on wins/losses on those individual games. This would make fitting in games far easier (no longer would you need to be willing to commit up to an hour per tournament) and stop arbitrarily rewarding win streaks. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

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Thanks to the many people behind the scenes making these online events possible.

The landscape of Pokémon events has changed immensely this year, and I’m so excited to see where the next year takes tournaments. A better online tournament scene has been a long time coming, and it’s great to see both TPCi and fan sites like Limitless, Atlas, and Full Grip rise to the challenge this year. The first Players Cup ended up inspiring me to play far more often than I have in years, and hopefully my advice helps you with the second one and other online events. If you found yourself in a rut during the current format, I hope my musings on that helped you out too. And finally, enjoy playing around with my style of decklists I presented at the end—and please let me know if you solve the “ADP problem” for Roxie/Sableye V! I hope you enjoyed this article, and thank you to Adam for giving me the opportunity to write for Underground!

Best of luck in the Players Cup II and any other upcoming events and, above all, stay safe.


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Reader Interactions

3 replies

  1. matthew233776

    Good article, can’t wait to hear you writing more when 6P comes back!

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