Dialgachomp Deck Examination City Championship Tournament Reports (Part 5/7)

12/31/2010: Plano, TX​

With the two week interim between Tom Bean and Plano, I felt a metagame shift coming on.

“There’s no way people would let a Luxchomp without a Mewtwo counter go unchecked for that long, is there?” said I. Granted, that isn’t enough of a reason to switch to Dialgachomp, since you could just as easily play Luxchomp with a 1-1 Dialga and be just fine. But to thicken the plot, I had been hearing about several successful decks emerging from the Georgia marathon: Alex B’s unique take on Regigigas; Jim R’s zany Yanmega/Magnezone rogue; and Guy B’s Steelix Prime were all making a notable splash. While few players are as connected with up-to-date metagame info as I am, I felt that between the 50+ Masters who would be attending this event, at least a couple of them would play something inspired by the ‘thon.

Originally walking into this event, I was going to play a very typical Dialgachomp with Skuntank, Staraptor FB LV.X, and Pokemon Fan Clubs…But when I looked around at my metagame, I noticed that it was just SP, and lots of it. However, I was surprised to find that Vilegar had also picked up serious steam since my last tournament, and since any variation on Dialgachomp has a superb matchup against that deck, I felt set in my ways.
However, given the heavy showing of SP, and given how you ought to beat Vilegar regardless of running Skuntank G, I felt safe in cutting those half a dozen cards for a few mirror-savvy things, such as the Ambipom/Dragonite pair and the Looker’s.
Before we move on to my list, I’d like to give you a few fair warnings…Since I don’t like the idea of sending anyone off with a deck that may not (read: “probably won’t”) do well for you at a future event, it’s vital to give some disclaimers. I’ve seen countless articles try claim goodness in builds as terrible as tweaked theme decks, so for my sake and yours, let’s list a few things off…


Pokemon (17):

2 Dialga G
1 Dialga G LV.X
2 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
1 Toxicroak G Promo
1 Dragonite FB
1 Ambipom G
1 Unown Q
1 Crobat G
1 Bronzong G
1 Azelf LA

Trainers/Stadiums/Supporters (29):

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
4 Pokemon Collector
4 Poke Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 SP Radar
2 Bebe’s Search
1 Aaron's Collection
1 Looker’s Investigation
1 Premier Ball
1 Luxury Ball
1 Energy exchanger
1 Junk arm
1 Twins
1 Technical Machine TS-2
1 Expert Belt
1 Power Spray

Energy (14):

4 Double Colorless
3 Metal (special)
3 Call
2 Metal (basic)
1 Psychic
1 Warp

(In order to include a 1-1 Staraptor FB LV.X, 1 Skuntank G, and any 3 Stadiums of your choice, you’ll have to make some rough edits. Some lists I’ve seen scrap single copies such as Junk Arm, and others scrap their Call Energy entirely. Regardless, it’s going to be rough.)

What Worked: for starters, I had MANY options to combo, string plays, etc…Since my all-time favorite decks play a lot of single cards, this jived with my style, and so I felt like all of the moves were natural.

As you can see, it’s also very pumped up to deal with mirror. Twins and Energy Exchanger are both great for SP mirror, and actually make more sense in a Dialga list than Luxchomp, which is more prone to fall behind in some matchups. Due to these two cards, I was easily able to tank up on Special Metals, and heal as I pleased.

What didn’t: Many, many, many things. Without a Lucario, or without a Toxicroak G Platinum, it has a negative Machamp matchup, and without stadiums and Skuntank G, it has a negative matchup against most Gyarados lists. Since Gyarados is a solid tier one deck, and since Machamp is a constantly-played tier two, a list such as this one was obviously a HUGE gamble. Granted, the Technical Machine-TS 2 is a saving grace in each of those games, but not enough of one to save you consistently.

Some of the single copies were not good choices: one Power Spray was risky beyond belief, and I think it showed in my game against Amalio, which could’ve been tilted in my favor by even the slightest tweak to my list. As for the one Warp Energy, that too was a waste, and could’ve easily been a 4th Call, 2nd Power Spray, Lucario GL, 4th Special metal, or anything else…Good.

Basically, this build suffered from being caught in limbo between Luxchomp and conventional Dialgachomp. While that played in my favor throughout the event, this list is easily a couple cards off of how to properly play such a deck.

If I knew then what I do now, here are the following tweaks I would make to a Luxchomp-wannabe Dialgachomp list:

-1 Technical Machine TS-2 (still helpful in some matchups, though)
-1 Warp Energy
-1 Bebe’s Search

+1 Uxie LA
+1 Lucario GL
+1 Power Spray or Call

With these tweaks, you’re giving up on Gyarados in exchange for a solid Machamp, as well as a better mirror. In my metagame, that would have been a sound play.

Regarding the uncertainty on Call: I’ve found Energy Exchanger to be sufficient in acting as your faux-fourth call in a pinch when going second, and going first, it doesn’t make that much of a difference in your starting percentiles to justify playing the forth. Hence, I make the third tweak be Power Spray “or” Call, with heavy favoritism towards the second Power Spray. For more faux-Luxchompy goodness, you may even want to find space for a third Power Spray!

That’s enough about the list…Now onto the matches. With over 50 people, we were bound to have a long day, with six rounds of swiss and a top eight cut. Yikes…

Round 1: VS Cade K. (Donphan/Yanmega Primes)

My first round of the tournament, and I’m already thankful for making the switch, as what could have been a contentious game with Luxchomp was instead turned into an auto win for Dialgachomp. All I needed to do to assure a game in my favor was to just tank Dialga G with Special Metals, keep a Power Spray/Junk Arm in hand for any moment where he could pull a surprise KO on me, and Poke Turn up a seriously-damaged attacker. Most importantly, though, is keeping Time Crystal in play at all cost, which shuts off both Yanmega Prime’s Insight and Donphan Prime’s Exoskeleton.
Due to his energy lineup, he was left with virtually no options against me, and so Dialga was able to charge into a very solid 6-0/6-1 victory on prizes.

Win (1-0)

As I walked towards the next round pairings, I was beyond shocked to see my round two pairing: Demarcus, who I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt was playing…Yanmega. Yes, you read that right: a Dialgachomp got two Yanmegas in a row. Given that there were only about 3 Yanmega decks in the whole field, the odds of this were beyond absurd. However, you take good fortune as it comes…

Round 2: VS Demarcus R. (Yanmega Prime)

Due to his list being much more focused, as well as my start being less than stellar, he was able to assert a furious charge against me with an early Yanmega; however, once my board began to stabilize, and I could finally access a Dialga G LV.X, things turned around very quickly. While he used cards such as Judge and Giratina to disrupt me, SP’s attackers are just too powerful, and I was able to find several adequate targets for Dragon Rush sniping this match (due to circumstance, I was unable to really ever “tank” a Dialga until later on).

Win (2-0)

Round 3: VS Demetre F. (Machamp/Prime)

I suppose it’s fair that, after getting two Yanmega Prime variants in a row, I pair against a bad matchup in the form of Machamp. However, he mulliganed at least three times, which gave me a good idea of what his deck list consisted of: standard fare for a Machamp SF/Prime list, but an unusual card that stuck out to me was Ruins of Alph. It does make some sense to run as a Gyarados counter, but for me and every other SP player there, it was a wasted slot.

Anyways, he went first, Machop to my Bronzong G. After attaching and benching an Uxie for Set Up, he hit me for ten, and I took the time needed to build a bench, ready for an imminent Machamp KO. This much happened, but – perhaps fearing a Lucario/Uxie LV.X response I didn’t have – he opted to exert the resources to go for a turn two Machamp Prime KO instead of one with Machamp SF, which he had access to. Given this, I setup a play to catch back up involving a hit for 50 followed up with a couple Flash Bites and a Technical Machine TS-2 the next turn (via Twins)…But he just Judged my hand away. However, the 50 hit was just enough to make the x2 weak Machamp Prime vulnerable to a clean KO from Uxie LV.X anyways, and so he was left to struggle from there. I think after this he Looker’s Investigation’d for five cards, only to be a single one off of the response Machamp. After sniping his Machop, and after drawing one more prize, he scooped from there, as he had no way to keep up with my rate of knock-outs.

Win (3-0)

Round 4: VS Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL)

This game, Cameron went first with a Luxray GL, opting to just draw and pass with no other options. Although playing hard for it, I somehow whiffed on the DCE or Energy Exchanger necessary to score the first turn knockout with Dragonite FB; however, this energy whiff, as well as my initial jump on setup, were enough to give me a decisive early edge in our tried-and-true mirror exchange. I believe that he had whiffed some sort of attachment a few turns after this as well, which made things even harder to recover. Although I never fell behind on prizes, making Twins useless, I felt like the Dragonite/Ambipom combo, as well as the Energy Exchanger, were extremely useful in helping me edge out SP mirror. I can only imagine what Staraptor FB LV.X must be thinking some games…Hah.

Win (4-0)

Round 5: VS Josh H. (Gyarados/Mew Prime)

Gyarados/Mew is currently the second-most popular variant on Mew Prime, and for good reason, as a 120 damage Tail Revenge is very, very useful. However, in the Dialgachomp matchup, all those Mews and Psychic Energy generally become useless in the face of Time Crystal. That’s just what happened, and so he was starved of one of his most crucial elements of the deck.
Still, he was able to function with just Gyarados, and so he put up his fight that way. However, my snipes helped put me too far in the lead, as well as my tanking Dialga G LV.X for good measure. Between these two, Josh was hard-pressed to ever edge me out of the win.

Win (5-0)

Round 6: VS Amalio O. (Luxchomp/Mewtwo)

While I was glad with being assured top cut, I didn’t like the prospect of starting a mirror game with Dialga G…Or with no Supporters…Or with nothing good in my prizes, either (Azelf yielded junk). To make matters worse, a turn one Toxic Fang from Crobat G made tanking against him null, so I just tried to aim for a quick KO via my own Crobat G’s Flash Bite, a Poke Turn to reuse it, and a second strike. I got this, and it helped me wiggle out of a losing game, but no luck. Eventually I drew into a Twins while behind, which was enormous in helping me get back into this match; unfortunately, though, he always seemed to have everything he needed for a response.
A rather strange play of his helped give me a shot at victory, though: a Mewtwo LV.X promotion, which was easily parried by Dialga G LV.X and its Time Crystal. While I, by the grace of 3-1 Garchomp and several other happenstance things, got this game down to 1-1 prizes, he eventually had the Bright Look response on one of my cheap guys near the end for a final knock-out, and the end of a very good game.

Loss (5-1)

The above was about the only match on the other (aside from the Machamp one) where I felt like a Luxchomp/1-1 dialga would’ve been the more optimal play. But yes, it most certainly would have…However, I also get the vibe that this game was cost through either some sub-optimal play or a sub-optimal deck decision. Be it a slight shift in resource conservation, or the inclusion of a second Power Spray, I feel as if "anything" could have turned the tide in my favor this game…But oh well: live and learn.

Anyways, here’s everything that cut:

1st Seed Amalio (Luxchomp/Mewtwo) VS 8th Seed Cameron (Luxchomp/ERL)
4th Seed Ron (Vilegar) VS 5th Seed Dana (Garchomp C/Honchkrow SV)
2nd Seed Me (Dialgachomp) VS 7th Seed Cade (Donphan/Yanmega Primes)
3rd Seed Josh (Gyarados/Mew Prime) VS 6th Seed Robert (Gyarados)

Unlike many of the past City Championships I have either played in or heard about, this field was very diverse, as were the decks that succeeded: there were only two duplicates (Luxchomp/Gyarados), and even their lists were noticeably different from one-another.

Top Eight: Cade K. (Donphan/Yanmega Prime)

Games One and Two –  by the mercy of good fortune, I hit my absolute best matchup out of every deck in top cut, and so I approached it much the same way I did in my swiss match against Cade. The only difference was that there was one window of opportunity for him to claim some board control, but he didn’t hit the Expert Belt to pull it off. That immediately-proceeding turn, I sealed up all holes in my iron-tight Dialga defense, and won as comfortably as I did previously.
Yeah…I have a feeling Cade didn’t expect anybody to be playing Dialgachomp today…But I have his word he’s made the list better against Dialgachomp since, so I look forward to a potential rematch in the future. 😛

Win (6-1)

Top Four: Josh H. (Gyarados/Mew Prime)

Game One – My hand this game was looking awesome enough to cruise me directly into the top two…However, there was only one problem:
Josh plays Judge.

And he also just happened to not play it against me in our swiss match, which made it a total surprise to me here in cut. This alone was rough enough, but the fact that I drew an unplayable hand as a result was murder. Thus, for the rest of the game, I would go without playing a single supporter…Horrid? Yeah, you bet.

However, by the glory of something, I was able to hang on for dear life, scoring little chump knock-outs whenever I could. So, despite not getting to play Supporters, I “did” bring myself down to two prizes thanks to Dragon Rush, Dialga attacking, and a Technical Machine TS-2 kill.

Games Two and Three –  Unlike the last game, these were much like the swiss match. His Judges made things scary for me once or twice, but unlike the first game, I was able to pull off a quick Azelf to gather vital intelligence on what to draw so that I could get out of my rut. Time was called deep into game three, but I was well on my way to winning it (I believe I was three prizes up after the “+3” turns).

Win (7-1)

Finals: Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL)

Game One – despite starting with a lone Azelf and no other benched Pokemon – horrid vis-à-vis his Garchomp with other basics – I was able to rapidly edge him out with my colorless basic advantage. Miraculously, I got the situation turned around so hard, he felt it necessary to save time…Prudent on his part, sure, but surprising nonetheless.

Game Two – once again, I started weirdly with Dialga G; however, I was able to make this work in my favor, as Deafen kept his equally weird starter, Bronzong G, stuck in the active position. This allowed for a rare Second Strike KO being good in the mirror, triggered through either my own Flash Bite or his Galactic Switch – I don’t remember. From here, I started playing the exchange regularly, and we kept very close the entire match. Eventually, due to me topping off his setup with Looker’s Investigation, I was able to edge further ahead. Unfortunately, I was a resource or two off of nabbing my last prize, so he was given the window of opportunity to set up a very slick Roserade GL play…However, I finally hit what I needed to get out of the active position, and snipe for the last prize.

Win (8-1)

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the time to report on the unabridged metagame of this event. Due to there being over 50 players, and due to Dialgachomp requiring me to play long, drawn-out games at every step of the event, I was really left without any other option.

I hope you got something out of this report. While this Dialgachomp is far from perfect (haha), it should give you a variety of ideas to chew on, and to maybe incorporate into your own list come States/Provincials/Territorials. Tomorrow, I’ll be posting my fifth and final report, which again features Dialgachomp…Only this next time, it'll actually have Stadiums.

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