As the Memphis Regional Championships are this weekend, we thought we’d do a quick run down of the decks you’ll be likely to see this weekend. Each of us pick a deck we feel will be the Best Deck In Format.
Harvey: This deck won the European International Championship last month, and it has a lot going for it. I am 2 W 5 L against it this month, and I went 1 W 5 L against it last month. Almost all of the other Golisopod variations have disappeared, and probably rightly so. The two times I came across Golisopod in December without Zoroark GX, I beat it. It’s the defending champ, and it dominates me, but I think there’s one deck out there that just might beat it.
Mike: Yeah, I think there’ll be a lot of Golisopod, with or without Zoroark. My guess is that this will be the most popular deck in the field, because hitting for 120 damage on one energy is the cheese-iest. I don’t necessarily think that means it’s the strongest deck, but you’re going to see a lot of these in the top, because there will be a lot of these played.
Harvey: I’ve only seen one Metal Toolbox deck in December. With the advent of Zoropod, Buzzwole, and the return of Volcanion, I doubt we’ll see much of this in Memphis. It’s not that there won’t be a lot of Gardevoir in Memphis – it’s just that there are so many other decks that the Gardevoir counter becomes less effective. Plus, I’ll write below about how good I think Volcanion is, and that alone will probably scare many players off the Metal Toolbox.
Mike: I haven’t seen “Metal Toolbox” much either, so I’ll add Solgaleo into this category. I’ve seen that deck from both ends, and while it wouldn’t be my choice, it’s solid. The GX hits for 230 and junior does 170, which can be alluring. However it slow and complicated and is inferior to Metagross GX.
Harvey: Whether it’s with Sylveon GX, the “Brokenvoir” version, or maybe even the Gardevark list I posted the other day, this Pokemon is still good, but I’m not sure that it’s the top deck in the format like it was at Worlds. I’m 4 W 4 L in December against it, and I was 16 W 20 L in November. I still struggle against it, but it doesn’t dominate me. And I have good success with it as well, but it’s not my most successful deck. Close, but not my top deck.
Mike: I would guess that this would be the second most popular deck, and hence will see a lot of finishes near the top as well. Gardevoir GX is strong on its own, and as you mentioned it can be paired with just about anything. Gardevark, Gardeon, Gardellade, Gardeneas, Gardtillery, Gardampa, Gardechomp, Gardailord, Gardelby. Ok I made some of those up, but you get the point. Anyway it’s not unbeatable, as I think there’ll be a fair amount of metal in the meta which will result in a Gardefail.
Harvey: Oh I love the Big Blue Frog, but I think the format sped up a little bit after Crimson Invasion. I think it takes Greninja just a turn or two too long to get completely set up, but if it can get a Greninja out there fast enough and start turning off Trade, Shadow Stitching, Instruct, Abyssal Hand, and every other ability out there, it’s got a chance. We saw it make it to top four in London; unfortunately, I just can’t see it getting there again in Memphis.
Harvey: It’s fast, can snipe Basic Pokemon early, and can hit for a TON of damage with a couple of Strong energy and a Choice Band attached. In November, I lost both times I came across it. In December, I have completely dominated it. I am 9 W 3 L against the Protein Shake (no idea how it got that nickname, that’s just what my son calls it, must be a video game thing). Grampa went 4 W 3 L, Gardevoir 3 W 0 L, and I beat it with the Ninetales Milotic deck I posted last week and a Bewear deck I’m going to try to find some time to post next week. I know it put two decks in the top eight in London, but I just can’t see it cracking the top ten in Memphis.
Mike: Imagine yourself starting a match. You don’t know what deck you are facing. Then there’s that moment when your opponent’s active pokemon is revealed — and it’s Buzzwole. At that instant, are you scared? Me neither. Pass.
Harvey: So here’s the biggest dichotomy that I’m seeing in the game today. Last month, I was 12 W 7 L against Volcanion decks. This month, I’m 9 W 6 L. I’m destroying Volcanion. I love going up against Volcanion decks… unless I’m playing Volcanion myself. And that’s where it gets crazy: I am 18 W 6 L with Volcanion this month, and two of my losses were mirror matches. I am 8 W 0 L against all meta decks that aren’t named Volcanion. Yes, that’s eight wins and ZERO losses. I don’t exactly understand how this happens – how I can be so good against it and yet be even better with it – but if I were going to Memphis, I’d be playing Volcanion. I’m tempted to try my spread deck or Milotic, but, honestly, I just really think this deck’s the best. And considering you’re hitting both Metal and Grass for weakness, you’re going to have more favorable matchups than any other deck out there. I know it’s a bit of an underdog, but I think a Volcanion deck wins it all in Memphis.
Mike: Yeah this would be my favorite as well, except I’ll give my crown to another deck for the sake of making this article more interesting. If you toss all fire decks (including “Kiawe GX”) into this category, it’s the clear favorite. Remember the exercise we did in Buzzwole where you learn about your opponent’s deck for the first time. Imagine it’s any fire GX + Kiawe. That’s the stuff of nightmares. Add in the prevalence of metal/grass, and this has a good chance of taking a top spot.
Harvey: I know some people think Zoropod is #1 and they put this deck at 1A, just a smidge below Zoropod but above everything else. I haven’t seen enough of it to really objectively make a call, but I beat it both times I faced it in November, and I’m 2 W 1 L against it in December. I have not tried this deck myself, but I just don’t think it’s as good as Zoropod (which absolutely dominates me). And again, considering how good Volc is, I would not be playing a Grass Pokemon in Memphis.
Mike: FIRE BAD!
Harvey: So I played forty games with a couple different versions of this deck and went 13 W and 14 L with it this month. In late November, I went 11 W 6 L with Grampa against meta decks. I love the draw support you get with this deck, and I love being able to shut down abilities; unfortunately, Drampa hits nothing for weakness, and Garb only hits Psychic weak Pokemon for weakness (although there were a lot of Buzzwoles running around to help with that). I think it’s still good and could place in top eight. I went 1 W 6 L against it in November and 1 W 3 L in December. It rivals Zoropod in dominance over me, but I just don’t feel like it has quite as much dominance as Volcanion.
Mike: Trashalanche is easily the most overpowered attack in the meta. You can potentially OHKO anything with just a single energy, and if your opponent tries to avoid items, the attack indirectly adds a disruptive element to the game. Meanwhile, Drampa’s single energy attack is cute against special energy heavy decks, (like Drampador), but is worthless against the rest of the field. And it’s 3 energy attack, with a choice band delivers a OHKO-worthy 180 points of damage.
But this deck is like a 2004 Chevy SSR*, it doesn’t run as well as it looks. Trashalanche is worthless in the early game, and Drampa doesn’t really scale up.
* I know nothing about cars. I had to research the internet for like 15 minutes to come up with an apt analogy.
Harvey: While it has greatly disappeared from the meta game, I still see it some on PTCGO. I went 2 W 6 L against it in November, but I have dominated it in December with a 5 W 1 L record against it. I haven’t ever played it much myself. It seems to check all the boxes: can potentially OHKO most of the cards in the format, has no weakness, can somewhat consistently be hitting for full damage on turn 2. However, I’ve only been so – so with it, and for whatever reason it just doesn’t really interest me too much. Overall, I don’t think you’ll see a lot of it in Memphis, and I would be really really surprised if it cracked top eight.
Mike: I loved this deck when it first came out, and apparently like everyone else, I just stopped playing it. So I fired it up for this article. My goodness! I’m 5-1 against strong decks (including Volcanion, Grampa, Golispark, Hoopa/Zoroark and the mirror matchup) and that doesn’t count 2 opponents (Metagross, Grampa) that quit within the first 2 turns. The only loss? A Buzzwole that OHKO’d my solo Bulu on turn 1 with its GX attack!
While playing with it I realized why Bulu made a formidable card. The ease in which it landed 180 points of damage was astonishing. Not only did you have the regular attack of Nature’s Judgement (120+60 if you ditch all energy), but also Tapu Wilderness GX (150+ full heal) combined with a choice band would do the trick. That OHKO-strength attack gives Bulu a huge edge. I wasn’t that keen on this deck, but that was mostly based on the waning popularity of it. I’m certainly putting it back in my rotation, and I’ll buck that trend and take Bulu as my BDIF.
Mike: Raichu GX is nice, but it really doesn’t hang with the big boys. So instead I’ll talk about a more interesting deck: Raichu/Heatmor. This deck is super fun and I really hope a few show up in Memphis. The only autoloss it has is Solgaleo because of the ability to switch pokemon. The current standard format is really tough on mill/disrupt decks, and if someone wants to buck the trend this is really the only deck to do it with.
Harvey: So I included this one just because I thought it beat up on me a lot, but then I actually looked at my records and I’ve gone 2 W 0 L in December and 3 W 2 L in November. In October, I was 1 W 4 L, but most of the decks I played against it weren’t meta decks. It has some potential, but actually I agree with Mike Heatmor Raichu probably has more of a chance of placing top eight than Raichu GX. I’ve only faced Heatchu once, and it beat me.
Mike: I love Xerneas Break. You can play it with fairy types or anything that takes colorless energy. It sets itself up nicely with energy acceleration, so where’s the rub? Xerneas Break gets weaker when it gets knocked out, because you’re losing energy which fuels the attack. So if you’re ahead this deck is downhill skiing. But when you’re losing it’s like — uhhh — uphill skiing.
This is not a deck in which you’d want to get in a street fight toe to toe battle. If it were a boxer, it’s be one with a strong jab and a decent hook, but poor stamina.
Harvey: I have played this deck forever, and it always seems to be just one notch short of top tier. I actually used it with the new Xerneas from CIN and Sylveon GX, but I only went 5 W 5 L. I haven’t seen it at all in December and went 2 W 4 L against it in November. In all of those matches it was paired with Gardevoir GX, though.
Mike: I’ll go with this as my darkhorse deck. It’s not the fastest deck, and it hates Garbotoxin. But it sets up well enough, and once the pieces are all there it’s hard to overcome. You can max heal, which turns Metagross GX into a big tank that’s hard to take down. Besides it took down Harvey’s Greninja deck, which makes it a hero in my eyes.
Harvey: Yes, my Greninja deck had beaten Metagross some 22 consecutive times without a loss in September and October until that match (proving that even a blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile). I think the format sped up just a little bit with Crimson Invasion, and that smidge of acceleration has been just enough to crowd out the Stage 2 decks. Plus, if less people are running Gardy and more people are running Volc, well, you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to figure out that this probably isn’t a good play for Memphis.
Mike: So what decks did we miss? I’ve included Kiawe style decks, “Heatchu”, and Solgaleo under other sections. Other than Volcanion we didn’t talk about any water decks. (Greninja is the spawn of Satan, so I don’t consider it a water type.) Is there room for Alolan Ninetales? This is another deck where GX pairs well with baby. And baby provides walling against GX/EX.
The problem with this deck is the metal weakness. Metagross just needs to evolve (devolve) into Metang to defeat it, and Solgaleo sends junior to complete the task.
No love for Noivern GX? Item lock was huge in the last meta. It pairs nicely with Garbodor, so what’s so bad about this deck? The energy needs are a bit much now that Dragon energy isn’t a thing. Also Gardevoir and Xerneas shred this bat to bits.
How about Typhlosion? Tool chucking Gourgeist? Cinccino?
Harvey: I played a couple of Noivodor (Noivern GX with both Garbodors) decks recently, and they kicked my derriere. That’s a deck list I’m definitely going to work on. I’d still like to see someone try a quad Hoopa deck. At least my friend Otaku dispelled my fears that quad Guzzlord would rule the meta.
I mentioned above that I might consider my spread deck or my Ninetales Milotic deck, but I just don’t have quite enough confidence in these decks to recommend them. I played a rogue deck at NAIC last June. It’s hard for me to actually say this, but at a major tournament, you’re probably best off going with something conventional. Luck is a huge element of this game, and you want to try to minimize the amount of bad luck you can expose yourself to.
Mike’s Hypno Darkrai deck – if you’ll pardon the pun – might be a good sleeper as well. And I’m going to stop there as the one major thing I’ve learned from this article is that Mike’s the funny one.