Luxchomp Deck Examination/City Championship Tournament Reports
Part 2: College Station, TX
3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
2 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
2 Crobat G
1 Ambipom G
1 Bronzong G
1 Lucario GL
1 Dragonite FB
1 Toxicroak G Promo
1 Unown Q
1 Azelf LA
4 Cyrus's Conspiracy
4 Pokemon Collector
4 Energy Gain
2 SP Radar
2 Bebe's Search
2 Power Spray
2 Junk Arm
2 VS Seeker
1 Looker's Investigation
1 Luxury Ball
1 Premier Ball
1 Aaron's Collection
What I liked about it: Even though the "X-1 vs X-2" debate for the Garchomp line has been raging for the past few months, I've been playing X-1 since last season's CCs (check my old deck lists). However, the concerns back then were more associated with deck space, whereas the purpose right now is due 50% to wanting more good starters, and the other 50% to wanting to edge out mirror. If you don't believe me, then just play out the mirror some: what happens when you have Garchomps, and your opponent doesn't? You usually win – that's what. This is the core principle behind why so many players have traded in a 2-2 Garchomp line for a 3-1 this season, and I was no exception.
Some less common aspects are the heavy counts on VS Seeker and Junk Arm. The Junk Arms I'll stand by due to how extraordinary they are for consistency, for versatility, and for recovery…
*For consistency, they not only thin your hand for stronger Set Ups, but they can grab Luxury Balls/Pokemon Communications.
*For versatility, it's pretty obvious: getting back your TG'S I Inventions.
*For recovery, a combo of Junk Arm and VS Seeker allow you to use Aaron's Collection up to five times in a game.
While I would go on to cut a Junk Arm in at least one of my SP lists, I would never "not" run at least one simply due to how GOOD it is.
VS Seeker, on the other hand, is a whole other story. Between College Station and McKinney, I found that running two was simply way too much overkill: I would start way more often with a "dead hand" as a result of the wasted spot, and it was an unnecessarily high count of trainers for the Vilegar matchup.
The Dragonite FB/Ambipom G/Toxicroak G trio provide for ultimate attacking versatility in the SP mirror, and with 3-1 Garchomp, you ought to _always_ have the colorless attacker ready to go. Although not reflected in the vomit list from my earlier post, I actually learned how absurd this trio is in SP mirror due to witnessing it in action firsthand, during the eleventh hour play-testing phase the night before. For my own purposes that day, the Dragonite FB was largely irrelevant since I wasn't running SP (bar a desperate Giant Tail or a Crobat G donk with Mach Blow, Draggy FB is useless against Jumpluff)…And because of this, I would for the time being ignore it. However, now that I moved into actually playing SP, I knew that it was all-too important to return to.
Last of all is the two Crobat, which allows for maximum donk capability in a format where donks are more common than ever. While it didn't really factor in during the tournament, I can see many situations – against Gyarados in partiular – where running two can lead to some great results.
What I didn't like about it: three Call. Up until now, a dogma my deck-building had lived by was "4 Call or no Call," and my clunkier-than-desirable starts today helped show me that. However, I would remain stubborn on this choice for another tournament.
The other thing that annoyed me was Two Power Spray. All of the games I played at this event revealed to me how useless Spray becomes as a two-of; it's an unhappy balance between the zero/one (trade for consistency/emergency uses) and three/four (stop at every turn) counts. Since it's there too often when you don't need it, and too rarely when you do, I would advise against two.
Now with that out of the way, let's explore my matchups for the day…
Round 1: VS Michael S. (Jumpluff)
Jumpluff has lost so much due to the rotation, but one plus side to its Luxchomp matchup is that it now plays no vulnerable target to Bright Look (last season, the most oft-spammed play was Bright Looking a two retreat Claydol, followed up by Dragon Rush).
Anyways, things started going off for me pretty well: I was able to start scoring plenty of easy kills from turn two-onward, and never looked back. Uxie LV.X assured that I wouldn't hit a snag consistency-wise, so the game was just about me killing anything from the Pluff family. If memory serves me well, I think he had some early-game clunks, such as a Warp Point or Energy whiff, which made the sniping job even easier.
Round 2: VS Stephen S. (Gyarados)
By virtue of the double Crobat G and two Junk Arm, I came extremely close to the second turn double knock out, but a whiff on a PokeTurn (3 left in deck) or Junk Arm (2 left) from a Uxie Set Up for six required the playing of the full game. However, my decision to go after his Magikarp was well-placed, as he struggled to find a Broken Time-Space for 3-4 turns of the game. By the time he could finally get out, I was already too far ahead, and so Trash Bolt or Flash Impact + a Flash Bite from Crobat G would pretty much be enough every time.
As a side note, this has generally been my worst situation with Gyarados: when you can't get Broken Time-Space for the life of you. Granted, Mesprit is really useful in freezing them from Flash Bites/Bright Look, even after the initial Psychic Bind, you'll have troubles.
Round 3: VS Phillip B. (Gyarados)
Phil's our league's organizer, and I have to say that he's improved tremendously. He definitely did his research, and as a result, ended up with a Gyarados list that was on par with or ahead of the metagame.
Anyways, he started with a significant jump on me, getting out a turn one Gyarados with KO'ing potential. This set me back pretty far, and to top it off, my prizes were pretty trashy too. However, my one saving grace was that he was constantly forced to Belt Gyarados, which gave me the prime opportunity to score four prizes in a matter of 2-3 turns. My Looker's Investigation was clutch here, as it was able to deny him the game-winning response KO for the sixth prize, and put me into a situation where I'd draw my final two prizes due to the wrecked hand.
Great game, man.
Round 4: VS Caleb C. (Luxchomp)
Caleb is an upstart from Houston who not only did really well at Cities up to this point, but I think nabbed a lot of early points thanks to Battle Roads. He was roughly 1700 when I played him at this point, which – for ratings and rankings purposes – can only mean good things. Be it a huge point gain for a win, or a meager point deduction for a loss, the result ends up being pretty acceptable either way…Even for the most bitter of us, lol.
However, the game ended before it began due to his double Power Spraying me, which, as any long-time SP player knows, is more than enough to take you out of a game entirely. I somehow weaseled four prizes out of him, but Caleb still never lost board control, and went on to win the non-exchange.
Round 5: VS Dana L. (Luxray/Blaziken/Manectric/ERL)
My starting hand was initially 100% unplayable garbage, sans a single Lightning Energy. However, by a stroke of luck. I top decked a Premier Ball…Meaning that I wasn’t completely dead-on-arrival! So I dropped my energy, passed, and spent the rest of his turn uneventfully not getting donked. The next turn, I top-decked a Double Colorless Energy, which was all that I needed to start actually doing something. Seeing that he had an Electrike on the bench, I knew that leaving Manectric alone for too long would cause mirror troubles, especially if he was running Garchomp, so I promptly Dragon Rushed it. Between my prize and the top-deck on my third turn, I was able to get a Pokemon Collector and get 100% into the game. Over the course of it, I discovered that he wasn’t running Garchomp, but in fact had the Manectric in there for his own Entei/Raikou LEGEND. Between my snipes and Power Sprays, though, he wasn’t able to get out what he needed.
This was an interesting SP variant, but it seems like it was maybe one or two cards off of being truly secure in the mirror. Even with Manectric, Garchomp is the undisputed MVP in typical SP exchanges. He would later switch to a very mirror-savvy SP list a couple tournaments later.
Top cut was as follows…
1st Seed Alex F. (Luxchomp) VS 4th Seed Phillip B. (Gyarados)
2nd Seed Caleb C. (Luxchomp) VS 3rd Seed John K. (Luxchomp)
Top Four: VS Caleb C. (Luxchomp)
My memory is fuzzy, so for this match, I’ll quote from Caleb’s report. Keep in mind that the first person “I” is his voice:
Game one was short drawing into a spray, and using Cyrus to grab a second, I did the same thing as I did in game one. This game was short, John scooping when he realized the odds were against him, and we moved onto game 2.
The game starts off, and I feel pretty decent about my opening hand. Garchomp, DCE, and Cyrus stick out in my mind, and John decides to go second with only one active. Flipping the cards, it's a Garchomp to Garchomp battle. First turn there wasn't much I could do, so I decide to DCE, and claw swipe for sixty, man was that a mistake.
The following turn John drops a collector, two more garchomps, a uxie, and a DCE, E-gain. First turn KO's my chomp, and I struggle to recover the rest of the game. The game finish with me down by 2 or 3 prizes (I believe, correct me if I'm wrong John, I'm not the best with these types of things).
(Side-note: I think Caleb was running a 3-1 Garchomp, because I remembered this not completely crippling him despite the notable disadvantage it causes.)
The game starts off with my having an Unown Q, call start. I draw into my Roserade first turn, but decide to just call with Q as it has free retreat on my turn (and I didn't want to waste a turn), that was probably a mistake considering that either way I would lose the energy so I could have retreated, but none the less, that's just how things go.
On John's turn he can't pull the right set-up to get the Q directly, so he drops a Azelf + Time Walk + Psychic energy, and used Lock Up for the first turn KO. I respond the next turn by dropping the Roserade, and we proceed to bind each other for the next few turns, giving me the chance to get set up a little better.
After the initial trade off, I manage to somehow get up in prizes, but it doesn't last long as John proceeds to dominate the field, pretty much taking control of the game. It ended up coming down to time, and he had 2 prizes to my three, but I have no doubts he would have one the game, even without time.”
(Side-note: “manage to somehow get up in prizes” was actually a calculated exchange on his part to end Roserade GL’s poison on my turn, followed by a Snipe.
From that turn, I would draw a prize, he would draw a prize, and then from there I would draw two more to get ahead. Time+3 was called on my turn with me drawing my 5th prize, and being set up to draw the sixth)
Finals: VS Alex F. (Luxchomp)
Ahhh yes, another of my newer rivals. For those who don’t know him, this guy (butlerforhire) has a pretty nice track record: before he returned to the game, he was just one of a handful who got to play in the Wizards-era Tropical Mega Battle. Then, about a year or so after he returned, he went a really consistent track record last season, making top four at both of his State Championships, T16’ing Regionals, and T16’ing Nationals, which all culminated in a Worlds invite. Given this, he’s naturally one of the first people I think of when I’m asked to list off all of Texas’s good players.
Games one and two: after consulting Alex about our match at this event, we both agree that the games went similarly enough to lump into one. Basically, the 3-1 Garchomp, Ambipom, and Dragonite FB were enough to have him at every point in the mirror. His 2-2 Garchomp also became a point of relevance in game two, because I gained a huge edge due to a FTKO on his active Garchomp via Ambipom, as well as his other one being prized. Whenever he would play 3-4 of his Cyrus’s, I would conclude both games with a Looker’s Investigation so that I could attempt to shut out his options.
Metagame reflections: Coming in at a respectable 24 players, this field pretty much reflected the nationwide standard for City Championships of five swiss rounds with a top four cut.
Uxie donk x2
Umbreon/Mightyena/Houndoom dark thing? I saw this near the bottom tables, so it must've had a rough day.
Unaccounted for x6
While I don't have a totally clear idea of what the field consisted of (roughly 30% unaccounted for), this ~70% should give you a very good idea of how the rest of it was spread out. The reason why I know all of these unlisted single decks that didn't show up in any of my matches was because they were all decks being used by my friends at the College Station league. The Donphan, the Charizard, the Crobat Prime, the Gatrstoise, and one of the Uxies are all decks I've had a hand in editing at least a little, with the last one being my own deck.
Of the 17 known decks, 7 were SP. This clearly shows strength in numbers, with odds being in its favor to take the event, and that indeed happened. However, Gyarados made a minor impact, as Phillip ("Pbarta") was able to slide into the cut and put up a good fight against #1 seed Alex (again, our very own board member Butlerforhire).
I think the other decks listed didn't do as well as they could have for a number of reasons: the non-Luxchomp SP generally couldn't keep up in mirror; the Uxies were shut out by the Dialga; the Donphan/Charizard were pushed down by the moderately successful water presence; and the dark deck…Didn't do a very good job at countering the metagame it was supposed to beat.
As an aside, none of the Gyarados I saw played Mesprit, which seemed to be a mistaken metagame play given how absurdly synergetic it is with Seeker. In testing, I've had games where Mesprit/Seeker were virtually all that Gyarados needed to assure a quick, easy victory, and without it, many decks in the format are given a chance to pull come-from-behind wins that shouldn't happen otherwise.
While the metagame would catch up on the Gyarados front eventually, I would soon discover that it was Vilegar I had to watch out for at my next event…