Deck List Dump: Turbo Kingdra

A fun little list that I considered using very early in my testing for Cities, but ultimately dropped.

Pokemon (18):

4 Horsea LA
3 Seadra LA
4 Kingdra Prime (or 3 Kingdra Prime/1 Kingdra LA)
2 Crobat G
2 Uxie LA
1 Azelf LA
1 Mesprit LA
1 Unown Q MD

Trainers (34):

4 Pokemon Collector
4 Broken Time-Space
4 Junk Arm
3 Seeker
3 Super Scoop Up
3 Pokemon Communication
3 Team Galactic's Invention G-105 Poke Turn
3 Bebe's Search
3 Rare Candy
2 Expert Belt
1 VS Seeker
1 Luxury Ball

Energy (8):

8 Water

The gist of Kingdra? It's essentially Gyarados, only better against certain stage two decks (perhaps Vilegar), equally good against Dialgachomp or Sablelock, and worse versus Luxchomp. Our goal with this list is to give us more options with spamming Kingdra Prime's "Spray Splash" than ever before: with Seeker, VS Seeker, Junk Arms, and the Super Scoop Ups/Poke Turns, your ability to deal "free" damage is rivaled by almost no other deck.

This build is a bit inconsistent mid-game due to no backup recovery draw (i.e., Cynthia's Feelings, Copycat, or Professor Oak's New Theory). Therefore, you may want to consider cutting something…"What?" is the big question, though.

Retro Article: Gyarados Battle Road Tournament Reports, by Austin Baggs

Not quite as retro as the last retro article, but still up there…However, keep in mind that Gyarados was abandoned for a brief period during Battle Roads, so the context that this was written in is radically different than what we have now.

There's a great deal of PTCG literature on Gyarados, but I feel that this was great for the time, and has many suggestions/ideas that are applicable today…The only difference is that you have to include 4 Junk Arm.

-By Austin Baggs

(Originally submitted on 10/4/2010)

"Yes, the angry dragon/eel/fish is STILL here and kickin’ (or splashing, rather)! Over the past few weeks of going through old tournament reports and decklists, I remembered how well Gyarados has treated me every time I’ve played it. However, I had a small issue with the deck concerning the recent rotation. The exclusion of Claydol (GE), Night Maintenance, and Felicity’s Drawing were something of a hindrance to the efficiency of the deck. Sure, there are cards like Uxie and Volkner’s Philosophy that could fill in, but would it work? Some….no, MANY have completely written of Gyarados until Junk Arm and Rescue Energy are released. While I agreed with the assumptions that the deck won’t work without felicity’s/claydol for a while, I quickly found that the deck can still fully function without them, but THRIVES in a format with trainer lock where using supporters is required as well as a pokemon that can FISH (har har, puns) them out of your deck.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “What are you going to do against Vileplume, scrub? Good luck winning when you can’t play SSU, Communications, Poketurns, and most importantly, your rescues, which Gyarados hinges on.” This is a very valid argument for not running the deck, but the key to victory lies in Dialga G Lv. X. Yeah, DGX as some call it gives Gyarados the edge it needs in a meta full of trainer locks whether it’s from Spiritombs or Vileplumes. I initially thought Floatzel GL Lv. X was a more solid play, not requiring me to run recovery cards, but G’dos is also about NOT being KO’d (thanks to super scoop ups), and another pokemon with Lightning weakness is no fun. When you combine the 1-1 DGX along with 3 warp energy, you can get it out relatively quickly and continue your beatdown on some of the most played decks in the format right now. While it doesn’t help the SP matchup in the slightest, you should be able to do well against them anyway, considering you OHKO them while they are typically forced to take cheap prizes around gyarados as well as the occasional Trash Bolt/Lucario OHKO. The SP matchup hasn’t really changed as much post rotation, I’d put it at an even 50-50 because so much of the matchup depends on who can keep up the stream of KO’s as well as the use of Expert Belt on G’dos’ side of the field. Regimove also plays a huge factor, allowing Gyarados to take a prize nearly every turn, barring Power Sprays.

I was also asked to discuss the relevance and efficiency of Volkner’s Philosophy as a Felicity’s Drawing substitute. Yes, Volkner is a moody guy, nowhere nearly as cheerful as Felicity, and he makes it clear that he doesn’t care that you can only discard one Magikarp with his “Philosophy”. Aside from the 1 card discard, Volkner’s can do wonders for the deck. Judge is a commonly played card right now, and getting rid of G’dos’ large hand for a measly 4 can suck, especially when holding onto those recovery cards you need. Volkner’s can not only get rid of a trash card from your hand, but also let you keep the good cards while drawing until you have 6, which is pretty good for not having claydol. The other reason it still works is because you need 3 magikarp in the discard. Regice can take care of 2 while Volkner’s drops the 3rd, still getting the same amount of discard *required* to set up, but not necessarily drawing as many cards mid-late game as Felicity’s would.

One last note before posting the list is the importance of Warp Energy. Between Bright Looks, Luring Flames, Sleep Inducers (Froslass GL), Reversals, and starting with Regice or Dialga G X, Warp Energy has saved my bacon several times. It can also be used to get out of a Status Condition such as Paralysis, Poison, Sleep, Confusion, etc. It also comes in handy when getting Gyarados back to the bench so that you can Psychic Restore back into the deck for late-game Set Up. The main reason it’s so essential in the current list is really to get your DGX to the bench safely after you level up, though.

4 Magikarp
3 Gyarados
4 Sableye
1-1 Dialga G X
1 Regice
2 Crobat G
2 Uxie
1 Azelf

4 Pokemon Collector
4 Volkner’s Philosophy
3 Bebe’s Search
2 Cynthia’s Feelings
4 Super Scoop Up
4 Poketurn
4 Pokemon Rescue
2 Pokemon Communication
2 Expert Belt
1 Luxury Ball
1 VS Seeker
3 Broken Time Space

4 Darkness Energy (Special)
3 Warp Energy

Battle Road:
Tom Bean, TX
5 Rounds / Top 4

Round 1: Shuppet
He starts off by Fading out 30 to my sableye, promoting his uxie, with regice benched on his side. I impersonate and start setting up, by turn 2 I was swinging with Gyarados for 80 via 2 karps in discard + expert belt and took the game on turn 4.

Round 2: Machamp
I’m not one for making excuses, but I think I was destined to lose this one. I open Sableye to his Machop. I bench Azelf and Time Walk to find 2 Magikarp and Regice having a little pity-party in my prizes, great…He pulls T1 Machamp while I flail (yeaaaah puns) around with 1 Magikarp in the discard smacking him for 50 thanks to expert belt. He levels up, KO’s my G’dos, and even though I manage to take 3 prizes, he hits a Warp Point for the game.

Round 3: Jumpluff/Vileplume/Sunflora
He gets set up quickly thanks to Spiritombs and Sunfloras, but I start abusing Sableye’s ability to set up thanks to supporters and continually Regimove out of Tombs until I have DGX benched and Gyarados swinging for 90+ for OHKO’s. He hits an energy drought 5 turns in and I swept from there out.

Round 4: Tech.dec (Garchomp C, Drifblim FB, Umbreon, Mewtwo)
His deck was completely teched out to consistently beat Gengar, SP, and Vileplumes, but not Gyarados. I had a T1 gyarados swinging for 60 for a while. (I kept the other ‘Karp and a G’dos in my hand for when my current one died from poison to ensure I could still keep a Gyarados out). Once I had the next one swinging for 90+ I swept the rest of the game.

Round 5: Garchomp Box
His deck was a straightforward Garchomp -6 turn/6 prize-rush deck. He starts first with Ambipom G/DCE Snap Attack on my Crobat G start. I collector for Sableye + Crobat G, attach SP Dark and Expert Belt to Sableye, Flash Bite his Ambipom G, and OverconfiDONK.

Top 4: Kingdra/Tomb
Game 1: We go down to 1-1 prizes where my well placed Flash Bites win me the game

Game 2: I take a huge prize lead and Flash Bites + Expert Belt OHKO’s on his Kingdras are too much for him.

Top 2: Blaziken FB/Garchomp C
Game 1: Within the first 2 turns, he Jet Shoots my Sableye, but I pull off a Gyarados with one ‘Karp in the discard via Volkner’s followed by a Flash Bite for a crucial return KO out of nowhere. I set up from there on out as we trade prizes. He knows I run Warp Energy, so he avoids relying on Luring Flame. We go down to 1-1 prizes back and forth until he knows I can Regimove for my last prize and we go to game 2.

Game 2: I get a faster (full) set up and take a small prize lead but he manages to catch up and make it a close game. He used all 4 Power Sprays to keep me from double Flash Bite-ing his Garchomp C X down to 90 HP since I couldn’t hit an expert belt to save my life. I had to Regimove each turn to take prizes, allowing him to Dragon Rush 4 times in a row. Eventually, his sprays ran out and I hit the 90 HP to KO his Chomp C X taking us down to 1-1 prizes again. He uses Set Up for 5, but whiffs his 2nd Chomp C X (which would give him the win), so he promotes Blaziken FB, attaches a Fire energy and Luring Flames up my Regice. I reveal my Warp Energy and I take the win.

Tulsa, OK
5 Rounds, Top 4 cut

I play the same list as before -1 Cynthia's Feelings / +1 Judge.

Round 1: Michael – Kingdra/Gengar
I set up while he takes a couple cheap prizes via Spray Splash/Shadow Room. I eventually get setup and catch up in prizes while avoiding Fainting Spell. He started to run into an energy drought as well as prize issues and I take the win.

Round 2: Taylor – Gyarados
We both set up well with him hitting full setup within 2 turns without sableye, which was pretty sick, but he hits a crucial Reversal on my belted Crobat G to pretty much seal the game after we traded prizes for a while. GG man!

Round 3: Tyler – LuxChomp
He starts bronzong call to my sableye as we both start to set up. He gets some solid plays in, but lack of Lucario as well as needed Sprays clinched the game in my favor. I got a few real nice OHKO's and a couple SSU's to seal the victory. Sorry we had to play, duuuuude.

Round 4: Savannah – Machamp/Donphan
Not much to this match. She opens with Uxie to my lone Magikarp. She passes, I topdeck regice/collector for 2 karp and a Crobat G, drop my hand size, flashbite, and pull the T1 gyarados Tail Revenge for 60 and donk. We play two more (2/3) and she donks me the second game and I take game 3.

Round 5: ?? – LuxChomp
He opens with his Dialga G tech and starts to set up but can't hit a Cyrus for a while, but unfortunately for me, he was able to bright look my Regice for 4-5 turns while we both sat there hoping to topdeck something, lol. After a few turns, we both go back to actually playing/trading prizes. He hits a few big KO's but I manage to keep up the prize trade and take my last two prizes via Flashbites on benched Garchomp C X/OHKO on Dialga G X thanks to tail revenge + e-belt + SSU on a crobat G.

Top 4: Chris – Dialga/Luxray/Garchomp SP
G1) He runs alllll over me with sprays/bright look KO's/Galactic's HQ spam. I took 2 prizes to his 6 iirc.
G2) I actually get to set up, but have to deal with poison structure/Galactic's HQ seeing as I can't hit a BTS for the life of me. T2 I impersonate a Judge that really throws him off, giving me a turn or two to set up. We trade prizes for a while with him having a 2 prize lead until I hit a huge SSU to keep me in the game. Time is called and he knows I can take my last two prizes within the time limit so we head to Sudden Death!
SD) We set out one prize each, and fortunately for me, he doesn't start with luxray or garchomp, and I started with sableye. I get the T2 Gyarados and manage to take the prize thanks to volkner's netting me and expert belt.

Top 2: Taylor – Gyarados
G1) I get T1 Overconfident on his magikarp, he promotes again and starts to mount a set up, so I do as well. I Impersonate a collector and realize that a magikarp, azelf, and 2 rescues are prized….I get up one gyarados that he manages to OHKO and I scoop knowing I won't be able to take a prize.
G2) We both start to set up smoothly when I happened to score a KO T2 with my g'dos to his sableye, then smack his gyarados for 90 followed by an overconfident KO which he return KO's with his Gyarados. The next turn, I flashbite 4x and OHKO his gyarados and he can't keep up by then. It ended up pretty close.
G3) This game definitely went more in my favor as I got a solid T1 gyarados hitting for 60 and played my belts very carefully. I ended up being able to draw into most of what I needed and OHKO'd a gyarados, to which he had to stall a turn or two which gave me a 2 prize lead. He played a solid game; it's always fun to play Taylor.

It was a great tournament and I was glad to see 5 rounds with a full Top Cut for a BR both events. Feel free to discuss your thoughts on the deck, criticism is always welcome when rational. Hopefully the article can at least put to rest some of the speculation regarding Gyarados’ viability, but I certainly wouldn’t expect that these results are completely typical across the board for everyone."

Deck List Dump: Unlimited Crobat G Jolteon* spam


Headed back to school today, so no elaboration or explanation…Just enjoy it for all it's worth.

Pokemon (14):

4 Spiritomb AR
4 Crobat G PL
1 Uxie LA
1 Jolteon * HP
1 Duskull SF (secret holo)
1 Pidgey RG
1 Holon's Magnemite
1 Unown Q MD

Trainers/Stadiums/Supporters (46):

4 Professor Oak
4 Scoop Up
4 Super Scoop Up
4  Team Galactic's Invention G-105 Poke Turn
4 Computer Search
4 Poke-Drawer+
4 Junk Arm
4 Item Finder
4 Erika
4 Mr. Fuji
4 Pokemon Collector
1 Seeker
1 Alph Lithograph FOUR

Energy (0):


Strategy is pretty simple: spam a million Crobat G "Flash Bite" damage counters until you've won. Between Scoop Up, SSU, Item Finder, Junk Arm, Mr. Fuji, Poke Turn, and Seeker, you get an extra 250 damage available to you in addition to the fifty you started with via Jolteon and Crobat G.

Many of the tweaks in here are very, very metagame oriented, so proceed with caution.

For more variety, consider running a tech Zapdos MD. I used to run a Zapdos "decK" for unlimited pickup games at Worlds 2007 and Worlds 2008, but that deck is largely inferior to this due to the constant flipping you have to do (i.e., the risk you put yourself at). However, it could still be decent as a 1- of for situations where you've got lots of Pokemon to deal with (as a rule of thumb, Zapdos MD is statistically "better" whenever your opponent has three or more Pokemon in play…But it's not worth the risk unless they've got four or more).

P.S. Today's post was brought to you by…Some random people who make aluminum house decks:

City Championship Tournament Reflections (Part 7/7)

As promised from my last entry, I will conclude the City Championship report arc with a few seemingly miscellaneous, yet totally-relevant issues…

#1: Why Did I Drop Out of My Last City Championship?

    Reason #1: Ratings. For those who aren’t aware, one of the major battlegrounds to determine World Championship invites is the ELO ratings and rankings system. Essentially, the premise behind it is that if you win games, then your rating goes up; if you lose games, your rating goes down. The catch, however, is that the higher your rating gets, the harder it is to earn points: you are given less for playing low-rated players. While this system makes a great deal of sense in a game of pure skill, it is imperfect in a game such as Pokemon, where luck can and will be a huge factor. Many, such as Ian F. (“NoPoke”), have proposed a ‘Bayesian luck modifier’ to accommodate this luck variance, which has recently picked up some steam in the community.

    However, the true issue with ELO is not its direction application to a luck-based game; instead, it’s due to its consequences. Since it’s possible to lose very big points even when making top cut, players have been known to “drop” from events, either upon swiss’s conclusion, or even earlier. My drop, motivated by ratings, was based for all of the following sub-reasons…

*High-risk/low gain. Had I taken losses in the top eight or even top four, my gains on the day would have completely evaporated. This was not the case at any prior event I had played, where my rating had not achieved a high enough status to warrant such drops.

* The round one bye watered down my rating gain relative to my record on the day. Even at “5-1,” the reality was that all I had were five rated matches, which was a big reason why the “high-risk” point became an issue.

*I had to stop the bleeding. I felt throughout much of the day that my playing was not as sharp as it should have been, and – given the shaky side effects I had from my Ambien the night before – I was certain that I’d have trouble with a top cut. Furthermore, I’ve been constantly complaining about the issues in my list, which I felt would have ultimately caught up with me in top four or top two.

    Reason #2: I didn’t want to play anymore for that day. For many of us competitive players, it’s easy to get too wrapped up into things, but at the end of the day, you play the game for fun, and you don’t play it when you don’t see prospect of fun. I simply wasn’t thrilled with the idea of playing for what could’ve been at least three more hours, having to switch venues away from the library it was being held at, fighting the rat race for a title I definitely didn’t need, and – most importantly – losing the rest of my afternoon.

 Also, with Cameron and Alex F. in the top cut, I was eager to maybe see one of them take the title after our rivalries this season. While that didn’t happen, I would have been an immediate barrier to Alex’s shots of pulling off the win, as I was to be paired with him in top eight had I not dropped.

    Would it have been cool to pull off a fifth win in a row? Yes. Was it possible to do it? Most certainly, especially in hindsight…But did it really matter?

No, not really. Say what you will, but I think that between this and the ratings, I had some rock-solid reasons to not play anymore. These two, in addition to emergencies, constitute the main reasons why people ever really drop from events, or why they don’t attend them at all.
With just five tournaments, I stand at an extremely comfortable 1777 ELO. Unfortunately, Play! Pokemon’s rankings are unavailable, but by conservative estimates, that puts me in the top thirty-ranked North American players. Granted, that isn’t enough by itself to achieve a Worlds invite, but all it takes at this point is a solid showing at States, Regionals, Nationals, or a combination of the three.

#2: What was the Metagame like?

As I said in my previous post, I was able to find out the main contents of 34 of 37 decks from the event. They were:
Luxchomp x5
Vilegar x4
Gyarados x3
Tyranitar Prime x3
“Speed Gengar” x2
Scizor x2
Steelix x2
Donphan x2
Magnezone x2
Shuppet donk
“Random dark deck”
“Random water deck”
 (Unaccounted for x3)

Think the metagame for this event looks really spread out? So do I.

Between the “big four” (Luxchomp, Dialgachomp, Vilegar, Gyarados), we saw somewhat-reasonable representation. However, one could easily make the claim that these four decks were underrepresented: considering that Dialgachomp was the darling of last week’s Cities all over the country, and considering that Luxchomp is the winningest deck of the whole season, it’s somewhat wild that they were only played in quantities of one and five, respectively. Most shocking to me this whole season is how unpopular the former is in the Dallas area…In a field of fifty (Plano), only two people used it, and in a field of forty (Dallas), only I did! But yeah, take it however you will that only a third of the field was the big four: do you think this was a good thing, or a bad thing?

Regarding the other duplicate decks, we see some surprises. The “speed Gengars” were basically more classic versions of Gengar, featuring Crobat G, Poke Turn, Mewtwos, and Nidoqueen to go for aggressive kills. Also represented were two Scizor decks, two Steelix decks (one of which directly inspired by the marathon), and…Three Tyranitar? I didn’t see that coming at all, but when you think about it, it makes some sense if players are wanting to go “rogue,” yet still want an easy Vilegar game. Assuming you can get your SP matchup down, this thing can be pretty nice to use. Last of all, we had some surprise amounts of Donphan and Magnezone, which I don’t feel I can really explain. Given all of the Gengar, the one Dialgachomp, the Steelix, the Scizor, and even some of those rogue decks I listed at the bottom, Donphan just didn’t seem like a good play at all.

Last of all, we have some of the zany rogue decks. I don’t think I need to explain the “random” decks too much – they’re just prolific among new players, are a step above theme decks, and barring the best events, always going to show up in some quantity. The Blazechomp seemed like it had certain advantages in a metagame like this, but didn’t look like too great of a choice compared to Luxchomp, Dialgachomp, or even some Sableye variant. Charizard, Vespiqueen, Shuppet donk, and Mamoswine…Have their own issues.

But that Kyogre deck? That was my brother, who deliberately wanted to use something rogue for this event. While it didn’t go so well for him, sometimes you do things not because it’s the optimal move; sometimes you do them because they’ll maximize your interest in the game. And while I did my best to discourage him from playing it, sometimes you just have to cede when a man’s just trying to have fun with his critters. That's what the game is about, after all.

Here were the top nine decks in the field, both before and after my drop…First, the “after” seeding:

Top Eight:

1st Seed: Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL) VS 8th: Chris (Blazechomp)
4th:  Ron (Vilegar) VS 5th: Michael (Tyranitar)
2nd Seed: Robert O. (Gyarados) VS 7th: Matt S. (Vilegar)
3rd: Desmond E. (Luxchomp) VS 6th: Alex F. (Steelix)

Top Four:

1st Seed: Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL) VS 5th Seed: Michael (Tyranitar)
2nd Seed: Robert O. (Gyarados) VS 3rd Seed: Desmond E. (Luxchomp)


5th Michael (Tyranitar) VS 3rd Desmond (Luxchomp)

Some commentary:

*I’m obviously not surprised at all about Cameron and Alex doing well: they’ve succeeded all season, so it doesn’t surprise me a bit that their decks – no matter what they’d play – would make it into cut.

*Thanks to finally choosing a deck that works for him, Robert has gone from a low success season to two consecutive top cuts. By relinquishing rogue, and instead playing a very solid Gyarados list (feat. Black Belt and other slick plays), he was actually able to survive against his rough Vilegar matchup.

*While I predicted Luxchomp taking the event after I left, I was surprised to see that Desmond’s did instead of Cameron’s. What’s in his list, and what carried him to the end? That I can’t tell you: I haven’t  played against him yet this season.

*With better bracket placement, I feel like Ron’s 2-1 Mewtwo would have carried him to some very easy wins against any of the SP that cut. Could he have won the whole thing? Perhaps, but all I know is that getting Tyranitar Prime in the first round of cut is about the worst thing that could have happened to him.

*Perhaps the biggest thing that surprised me was Michael’s rebound after losing to me. If I recall correctly, he took a loss right after that game, and then won every game until the finals of the whole tournament…And with a Tyranitar Prime deck? WOW!

*Matt Shepherd, who’s been trying to get back into the game lately, saw his first top cot since he started back up at Tom Bean. His list is good, and he’s even taken down a well-known name in the process (Martin), but one thing or another has led him to just not quite getting there. Today changed things for him, though.

*And last up is Chris, whose unorthodox Blazechomp build would have bubbled had I not dropped. Perhaps due to his Looker’s and colorless techs, he was able to bring Cameron to a third game, but ultimately, he couldn’t get past Cam.

The ultimate upset for this event was Cameron losing to the Tyranitar, which ought to get steamrolled by Luxchomp in most games. However, Michael’s high draw and search counts helped him persevere and destroy.

Now, my decision to drop severely screwed up the natural order of things. Had I been a 4-2 with high resistance, it wouldn’t have been quite as bad…But because I was second seed, it shifted the whole bracket (sans Cameron) up a spot, thus radically changing the matchups. Here’s what would have been had I not dropped:

Universe B

1st Seed: Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL) VS 8th: Matt S. (Vilegar)

4th: Desmond E. (Luxchomp) VS 5th: Ron (Vilegar)

2nd Seed: John K. (Dialgachomp) VS 7th: Alex F. (Steelix)

3rd: Robert O. (Gyarados) VS 6th Michael (Tyranitar)

Alex and I both knew that I had the edge in our would-be matchup…But that definitely didn’t mean that I had a decisive edge for the next cut round after that. My prediction is that Robert would have beaten me in top four…Which, given his past tournaments, would have meant a rating nosebleed. From there, it would have been a toss-up; however, I get the vibe that Vilegar would have won the whole event, given the fact that it has several  natural advantages versus Gyarados (sans time), as well as the 2-1 Mewtwo factor. If Desmond did not run a counter, then I feel this is definitely what would have happened, and so – despite the time disadvantage Vilegar is constantly put at – he would have persevered for a legitimate win in the event.

#3: Ultimately, What Went Right (and Wrong) for Cities?

As previously stated, I went a 31-4 record: an absurd count to go by any means, and a number that could even defy variance.
So first, I’ll start with some of the things that went well:

*I used reliable decks. I had the urge to use some pretty far-out decks, but in the end, I “cratered,” going back to SP every time. At the moment, I’m not comfortable with how any other deck plays out, and so feel almost obliged to stick with SP. This opinion may very well change come States, what with the arrival of Lost World and all, but for this period of the season…Consistency was the way to go, and SP is what brought it.

*I made a successful deck switch halfway through cities in order to account for the changing metagame. While the end result of my two lists were far from anything that could be considered “perfect,” my  life became so much easier when it was Dialga doing the dirty work for some matchups in place of Luxray GL and Garchomp C.

*Simply put, I got lucky. Every tournament I used Luxchomp, I – without fail – had at least one game every event where I would go  up against the grass deck of the week, which tends to have a very, very rough game against Luxchomp (my opponent in Tom Bean admitted this quite openly). And even if my Dialga switch was a good metagame choice, the fact that I was pairing against Yanmega and Tyranitar so much prove just how much of a lucksack I can be. Some of my play-testing friends would be very quick to decry these matchups as “soft,” and they may be right on the mark.

*I definitely made some good plays across these five tournaments, and knew my SP mirror match very well by this point. Regardless of where you're playing, if you don't know your SP matchup, then you're going to sink fast.

However, I can’t possibly keep patting myself on the back…After all, I did lose four games, and let three potential wins slip away due to convincing myself to drop. Let’s consider where I could have improved upon:

*Regarding my swiss loss at College Station, TX, with Luxchomp (read Part 2): while Double Power Spray is a terrible situation to get stuck against, I admittedly could have made one or two tweaks to my list at this event that would have made it better. The extra Crobat G was entirely unnecessary, and could have easily been  a 4th Call Energy, a 3rd Power Spray, or something better that would have advanced my mirror hopes.

(Moral of the story: every space is crucial, so make them all count.)

*Regarding my swiss loss at Tom Bean…There’s nothing reasonable I could have done for that at all. When you run four Call Energy and fifteen basics, it is beyond absurd to get first-turned by an opposing Garchomp C.
(Moral of the story: don’t get worked up – you’re bound to lose some games for less-than-desirable reasons that are largely out of your control.)

 *Regarding my swiss loss at Plano, I should have been on plans within plans within plans in order to recover that match. (specifically, one of my decisions for Aaron’s Collection was very sub-par). Had I done that, I probably would have won even in spite of the horrid hand. A slightly different deck tweak would have been sufficient, as well.

(Moral of the story: even seemingly “minor” misplays can make a world’s difference. If you want to improve, then you need to consider where all you went wrong, and how much you can improve it. The tighter your playing is, the further you’ll advance/ There are MANY players I know who are too proud to admit that they make mistakes…And because they’re too proud to admit it, they’ll never get what they want done in this game. So please, don’t be this player, and start being open about your mistakes to people instead of saying “oh, I got unlucky.”)

*For the Dallas tournament, I should have just run Luxchomp with 1-1 Dialga…Seriously, that’s all I needed to do in order to win this event. While some fringe matchups (Donphan) would have become worse for me, it would have been at the gain of greater consistency, a probable win against Cameron H., and wins in every match of the top cut. I felt that good about Luxchomp in hindsight, but it was still valuable insight to see what a different take on Dialga could do.

(Moral of the story: if your purpose is to win, then play the deck that you know gives you the best shot at it; if you want to learn something new or have fun, then feel free to get outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s just a little – i.e., switching SP variants.)

 So while I did some things right, I also did some things wrong, too – it's natural, and it's human. However, in spite of this, at least one loss was outside of my control for the most part, so I was deliberately leading my more careful readers on when I suggested I could have turned 31-4 into a 38-0…Sorry! 


In Conclusion…

  I’d like to thank everyone for reading this entry, and I’d ESPECIALLY like to thank everyone who read this entire tournament report arc from the beginning. Next time, I intend to shift gears into less dense, more concise discussions, so If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear about them on the boards. We have a busy month ahead of us…

‘Til next time,


Dialgachomp Deck Examination City Championship Tournament Reports (Part 6/7)

Event Date: 01/08/2011

Location: Dallas, TX​

    Given how much luck it took to win the Plano tournament, and given how unhappy I was with the list, I knew that it was time to mix things up a bit. While the end product had many issues of its own to contend with, it was arguably more playable in several ways.

     While conversing with Chad H. (“Scizor”), he introduced to me a very unusual list for Dialgachomp, featuring five stadiums, no Call Energy, and only eight draw/search Supporter cards. I don’t know how seriously he and Worlds runner-up Mike Pram (“SHPanda) were taking this list due to its appalling prima facie – “at first glance” – consistency, but I decided to incorporate some of the more interesting elements into my own build.

Pokemon (19):

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
1 Skuntank G
1 Lucario GL

Trainers/Stadiums/Supporters (29):

4 Cyrus’s Conspiracy
4 Pokemon Collector
4 Poke Turn
3 Energy Gain
2 SP Radar
2 Bebe’s Search
2 Snowpoint Temple
1 Miasma Valley
1 Aaron's
1 Premier Ball
1 Pokemon Communication
1 Energy exchanger
1 Junk arm
1 Twins
1 Expert Belt

Energy (12):

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

What Worked – Stadiums and Skuntank worked, that’s what! Having stadiums most certainly helped, but the question is…Which Stadium is the best? While I can’t answer that definitively, I’ll list off the reasons why I used the ones that I did, and some of the advantages to other Stadiums…

*Snowpoint Temple: since a major focus of the Dialgachomp deck is to “tank” Dialga G LV.X, giving it an extra 20 HP is extremely helpful. It also gives you the option to play the SP mirror entirely differently, giving Dragonite FB a new lease on life with proper timing (no Earthquake-responses are nice). I ran two because I figured that tanking Dialga would be my biggest asset on the day, so an extra 20 HP buffer seemed extremely useful.

*Miasma Valley: one of the more unusual options of Pram’s/Chad’s, this card functions as a way to spread counters in appropriate matchups. Nice to get out-of-range attackers such as Machamp and Gyarados prematurely within-range during the mid game! I decided to run one of these to round out my stadiums for this reason, but also because I knew I’d be needing to bump Snowpoint in case it stopped being useful.

As for the Stadium I didn’t play…

*Pokemon Contest Hall: the quintessential Stadium for SP, this card is a way to boost consistency and activate Skuntank, but also a mean by which to get out all of your major attackers with their tools. A lucky heads on Contest Hall is also useful because it’s an easy way to get Expert Belt on your dialga, as well as a way to get Energy Gain attackers in play through Vileplume trainer lock (assuming you can’t access your Dialga G LV.X Time Crystal for some reason).

In hindsight, I should have just bit the bullet and ran three of these, as is done in the typical build. While Snowpoint and Miasma have their uses, I’m beginning to consider the value of Contest Hall as the ultimate selling point for a list not flexible enough to include Call Energy.

Since my Pokemon felt just high enough to justify it even past bad hands, I decided to make the switch from Luxury Ball to Pokemon Communication. This worked wonders, and I feel content running it in any SP build with 19 or more Pokes.

Last of all, I fit in Lucario GL! While Machamp didn’t factor in at all during the day, this thing definitely would’ve tilted it for me on top of everything else. Plus, it stood to be a gross attacker in my Tyranitar Prime matchup in case my Dialga G and Toxicroak G both broke down.

What Didn’t – while it’s definitely not hard to play around, I’ve become addicted to running Call Energy in any list that it makes sense in. Since my build ran zero Power Spray, though, I felt less of a need to force them in. Although Yuta Komatsuda could win one of the toughest World Championships ever undefeated with a no Call Energy list, shaky starts just don’t vibe well!

Oh yeah, zero Power Spray was beyond lame in the mirror, as not having a say to what your opponent does with his or her Set Ups, Galactic Switches, and Bright Looks will most certainly put a nail in your coffin against a well-oiled build. Also, the exclusion of Staraptor FB LV.X was a pity, as it’s a truly amazing card in Stadium-Dialgachomp lists.

With that all in mind, let’s see how it faired on the day…

[Note: due to this post being fairly late, I’ll be brief – and therefore fairly anticlimactic – about the matches. Some dogs needed me to play with them, and for dogs, I gladly sacrifice my hopes and dreams for /blog. ]

Round 1: BYE

Thirty seven masters, and I get the bye? I never thought I’d say this, but as a player caught in the rat race of ratings and rankings, I was actually disappointed that I got a freebie.  Call me an arrogant kung-fu guy or whatever, but if a free win is causing “anyone” to feel anything less than ecstatic, then you know something is wrong with your (Play! Pokemon’s) system.

Win (1-0)

Round 2: VS Tyler (Tyranitar Prime/tech Houndoom)

Cool tech…Apparently he runs a 1-1/1 Houndoom/Prime line to do the following: against SP’s Toxicroak G Promos and Lucario GLs, use the regular Houndoom from Undaunted to score some amazing surprise-KOs; and for every other matchup, make knock-outs more accessible with the occasional lucky string of flips on burn. While I can’t say I’m a big fan of the latter, I very much like the idea of using the normal Houndoom, since SP is bound to use those cards against you.

Fortunately, I had heard about this tech the week before, and so I was able to adjust accordingly; that is, I held off on benching Lucario GL or Toxicroak G Promo prematurely, and just settled for tearing his setup apart with Dialga G and Skuntank G’s Poison Structure. I fortunately never had to whip out either of my fighting attackers, but they were there just in case…

Win (“2-0”)

Round 3: VS Michael (Tyranitar Prime/tech Honchkrow SV)

Wow…So at Plano, I got two Yanmega in a row, and in Dallas, I got two Tyranitar in a row? I can just imagine Robin saying, in as campy a voice as possible:

“Holy matchups, Batman – you’re one lucky SoB!”

Yes I am, Robin. Yes I am…

Admittedly, Tyler from the previously round had a somewhat sub-par start; however, with his ample supply of draw, Michael never really missed a beat with his Tyranitars, while I had to play some serious catch-up. But, by the glory of Toxicroak G Promo and Lucario, this was made into a fairly decisive win for me. As expected, his Honchkrow SV never once factored into the game, and even when he tried to start attacking with it, I was quick to Garchomp C LV.X snipe it.

Win (“3-0”)

Round 4: VS Ron (Vilegar)

Much like my sixth round game against Amalio the weekend before, I started absolutely horrid against Ron: 4 basics and no Supporters. Fortunately for me, though, he didn’t have a Spiritomb Arceus start, and so my setup wasn’t impeded too horribly. I was forced to aggressively Time Crystal a bit earlier than I would’ve liked, but it was all for the best.

The details are fuzzy, but long story short, I ended up securing a very safe timed win by replacing my Snowpoint Temple with Miasma Valley at the right time. Also, he ran a very interesting set of techs: 1 Froslass GL, which is very useful at disrupting the opponent while he/she is under Trainer lock; and 2-1 Mewtwo LV.X, which tends to be the ultimate “screw you, buddy!” to decks featuring SP without a counter.

Win (“4-0”)

Round 5: VS Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL)

More or less, he had the edge on me in our exchange the whole game due to some energy whiffs, as well as too many powers (read: all) being allowed to break through. This naturally gave him a decisive edge, and for the decisions I made in today’s list, it was well due for me to suffer. One thing that gave me some notable trouble, though, was that – despite some very thorough shuffling – I somehow began this game with two of my three Stadium cards. While Stadiums can do nice things to tilt matches when you need them to, when you’re in desperate need of a Set Up, they’re actually beyond horrid to have…Ugh.

After I fell behind enough, he saw the opportunity to Thunder Fall in the late game, and seized the win.

Loss (“4-1”)

Today was his day to shine against me though, especially since I had beaten Cameron out of the finals the past two weekends. I felt like many tweaks to his build (Twins/Dragonite FB) were smart plays that were well ahead of the national metagame, with the Twins having particularly nice synergy in orchestrating a game-winning Thunder Fall. However, his list made one very suspect move: three (3) Poke Turn instead of four (4), on account of the logic that it’s not needed. While this may sound very absurd to you guys, in the Junk Arm era, I find it totally acceptable for players to do this: you’re practically getting the use of four (or more) Turns a game, and so can therefore justify cutting one if it means more space. However, the issue about his list with me was that he ran zero Junk Arm, therefore nullifying that argument. Without Junk Arm, I ultimately felt like the decision was unjustified.
So if anyone tries this move, be sure to play Junk Arm in your list. I’ve found direct play-testing success with it, and Nats winner Chris F., who’s extensively tested it himself, thinks such a move is “fine” as long as it’s tempered by the Junk Arms.

Round 6: VS Chris (Blazechomp)

…And speaking of people named Chris, here’s another one. Long story short, I surprised the heck out of him by turning a useless Skuntank G start into an immediate edge-out in the mirror by the second turn, took firm control of it until he played a Looker’s, gave up some momentum, and then finally regained it in time for the last three turns on the clock. It was 2-4 by then, and I felt confident in my ability to take the last two, so it seemed pretty decisive. Thanks 3-1 Garchomp/Draggy/Ambipom!
Oh yeah…and I started with two stadiums. Again. My, what skilled cutters this state has, hah.

Win (“5-1”)

    Despite all of these games seeming like they went par for the course, the fact of the matter is that I was seeing my Dialga crashing and burning. And badly…Like, “worse than the Hindenburg”-badly. So what’s a guy to do?
He drops from the tournament. That’s what.

And on that note…I’ll leave today’s lengthy entry on a bit of a cliff-hanger. Tomorrow (technically today), I’ll discuss all of the following topics to close out my City Championship report series/arc:

*An examination of all of the reasons why I dropped from this event. When I do drop, I usually have many good reasons for doing so, seeing as how I’ve only dropped from three tournaments since I started playing competitively back in 2003.

*A detailed examination of this event’s metagame, which I was able to gather absurdly-accurate information on (34/37 of the decks are 100% verified and confirmed).

*An incisive, honest discussion of why I think I did so well during the 2010-2011 City Championship season, and what I could have done to turn 31-4 into 38-0.

*Some nice, cliché closing line that’ll make you cry out of sheer happiness.
Within the next few days, I also plan on writing a couple “gaiden” (Google it) reports on events that I didn’t attend.

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.

Retro Article: Luxchomp Strategies, by Alex Fields

I've been writing a lot of Luxchomp tournament reports lately, but the only problem is that I don't do much guiding as to what plays are ideal, what plays are not ideal, etc. In order to help iron this out, I decided to post an article written by 2010 Worlds Qualifier Alex Fields, a.k.a. Butlerforhire. While the content located herein pertains to the Diamond and Pearl-on format, you'll find that it is very much relevant even today.

(Originally posted 6/22/2010)

"Luxchomp Strategies"

By Alex Fields

"Although Nationals is just a couple days away, Alex Fields (butlerforhire) wrote an excellent Luxchomp analysis I wanted to share with all of you. So if you're still unsure about what you want to play, or how best to prepare for Nats's most popular deck, then this article will help you in many, many ways.

Luxray GL/Garchomp C

This is the reigning titan of the current format and has been for the majority of the season. Every single player from all three age divisions needs to be well-educated on how this deck works if he or she expects to do well at National and/or World. The deck has been strong ever since it debuted with the release of Supreme Victors, although the re-release of DCE– Garchomp C lv. X's fuel of choice– has elevated it into an overpowering position over much of the format.

For this article I will begin by explaining how the deck works and then move on to an analysis of its match-ups and finally how to play against it. I will be writing from the perspective of one who is using Luxray/Garchomp, not playing against it.

The deck wins because it abuses virtually every trick that can be abused in this game and has an incredibly wide arsenal of weapons at its disposal throughout the game. Here is a breakdown of what makes the deck so effective:

– Both of the primary Pokemon can attack anything your opponent has in play– Bright Look brings your chosen target active and Dragon Rush snipes as you see fit. Nothing is ever safe for your opponent or out of reach for you.

– Garchomp C, Luxray GL, and Ambipom G can all donk on the first turn with the aid of DCE and, if going second, Energy Gain and Flash Bite (s).

– The TGIs allow you to: shrug off damage with Poketurn and reuse your game-winning Powers, negate whichever of your opponent's Powers you choose with Power Spray, accelerate your attacks with Energy Gain, and search out whatever SP Pokemon you want– including lv. X cards– with SP Radar.

– Cyrus' Conspiracy hooks you up with any of those TGIs as well as the energy you need to attack and the Supporter of your choosing, generally another Cyrus to keep the flow of TGIs, energy, and options going.

– Garchomp C lv. X's Healing Breath forces your opponent to OHKO you or often end up wasting turns doing damage that will just get removed with this broken Power. It also cleans up messy Flash Impact recoil damage.

– Crobat G and Toxicroak G can both poison; in certain match-ups, this is a big deal, particularly Donphan (which is otherwise often un-winnable once set up, barring specific tech-work against it such as Frost Rotom or Quagsire GL).

– Bright Look gives you constant control of what your opponent has in the active position. You override his or her choice of an active Pokemon every time you level up. There are all kinds of broken tactical advantages that this gives you; an entire article could be written solely about Bright Look abuse.

– Ambipom G can move your opponent's energy around and possibly remove it from play if you target something to transfer the energy to with an Unown G on it/something like Mewtwo lv. X that can't be affected by you.

– Crobat G lets you rain down a damage counter anywhere you want, which is amazing when that single damage counter nets you a KO you otherwise would not have gotten. With Poketurn, you can bridge all kinds of damage gaps standing between your attack and a KO.

– Bronzong G lets you move your energy around, allowing you to: not fall behind in energy drops when you Poketurn something energized, execute surprise attacks that your opponent didn't think you'd be able to power up that turn, conserve energy if you are about to suffer a KO, etc..

– Lucario GL makes all Pokemon in play double weak, which still matters– even though double-weakness is back for everything in the HGSS block– because prevalent pre-HGSS Pokemon like Gyarados and sometimes Flygon/Garchomp/Kingdra/Machamp are only +30 weak with huge HP. With their weakness modified to double, you can get important OHKOs on them.

Primary strategy in most match-ups:

– Eliminate Claydol either before it comes into play by Bright Looking Baltoy and KOing it or after it has come into play with Dragon Rush
– Deny Uxie's Set Up with Power Spray
– Alternate between Luxray and Garchomp to take out whatever your opponent attempts to (or does) develop
– Deny your opponent prizes with Poketurn and Healing Breath

The ideal start of the deck varies from match-up to match-up. Sometimes, an opening Garchomp C with DCE is very strong, while other times you want the Luxray GL start so you can be primed for a turn 2 level up and Bright Look. Still other times you will be thankful to open with Amibpom G and DCE against your opponent's low-HP Basic.

Going first, Call energy is often desired to get you set up and take away any risk of being donked; it can also give you the opportunity to Power Spray your opponent on their next turn by giving you a total of at least 3 SP Pokemon in play.

Going second, you can play Energy Gain and will often want to attack right away even if you do have Call in hand; Garchomp C can do a respectable 50 if you have the DCE and the Energy Gain, for example. You can also play Roseanne's Research or Pokemon Collector to provide you with the set up that Call would without sacrificing your chance to attack.

Match-up Analyses:


This is one of the deck's few unfavorable match-ups. Donphan's Body is especially effective against you because your damage output is relatively low– with an Expert Belt attached to Donphan, you need to Dragon Rush it twice AND hit it with 2 Flash Bites in order to get a KO. Meanwhile, your opponent can SSU the Donphan or heal it with Blissey(PL or HGSS)/Nidoqueen/Pokehealer.

Luxray is rendered largely impotent as it is OHKOed by Donphan for a single energy and also only hits it for 20 with Flash Impact after resistance and Exoskeleton are factored in; for these reasons, it will remain out of the action in the match-up aside from the occasional Bright Look, which will typically be used to grab a prize on something that isn't Donphan at the end of the game to seal the win or to bring up a bench sitter like Claydol or Regirock so that Garchomp can snipe comfortably for a turn or two.

The opponent will often get a quick active Donphan into play using Earthquake while powering another Donphan on the bench for Heavy Impact. With Expert Belt, that second Donphan is able to OHKO every card in Luxray/Garchomp, which is problematic.

The best way to play against Donphan in the absence of a direct counter capable of OHKOing it such as Frost Rotom is to use Crobat G as both an attacker and a buffer. With Fighting resistance, you require the opponent to Belt and use Heavy Impact while you can begin double-Poisoning them for a single energy (and Energy Gain). The idea is to Toxic Fang, take your hit from Earthquake, retreat for Garchomp C, level up and heal everything on your side, and then Dragon Rush it. As long as they have remained Poisoned and aren't Belted, you will be KOing it (3 rounds of Poison for 20 and 60 damage from Dragon Rush); even if they are Belted, Flash Bite can be used to make up the difference (Donphan should already have a damage counter on it from the Flash Bite you used when you brought Crobat G into play so all you need is one Poketurn or a second Crobat G to bridge the gap caused by Expert Belt).

You can also take the route of teching specifically against Donphan with a Water-type attacker. There are a number of options to choose from, but the best is Quagsire GL. It does not OHKO Donphan but it can provide the same function as Garchomp C lv. X by getting the KO immediately after you Toxic Fang it, running away to the safety of the bench while that same Crobat G (that should have been Poketurned after taking a hit from Earthquake/non-Belted Heavy Impact) comes active as a buffer.

If your opponent ever gives you the chance to KO a Phanphy (typically via Dragon Rush, although you might also be able to Bright Look + Poison Revenge, etc.), you should generally take it. Don't expect your opponent to bench a Phanphy they can't immediately evolve often, though– with BTS or Rare Candy there will often not be a Phanphy hitting the bench that does not become a Donphan in the same turn. Take advantage of the rare occurrence when it arises. Also take as many of your prizes off of benched Uxies/Claydols/Relincanths etc. as you safely can. Sometimes it is okay to sacrifice Luxray GL lv. X to grab prizes off of these Pokemon, particularly if you only need a KO or two to end the game.

Summary of tips against Donphan:- Attack with Crobat G and Garchomp C as a tag team
– Don't attack with Luxray until the end of the game, and never use it directly against Donphan
– Take any easy KOs you can on Pokemon other than Donphan


This match-up is the main reason that Lucario GL is included in the deck; getting it out is a priority here and thus it should be one of the first cards you Call or Roseanne's/Collector for.

The goal is to be able to OHKO Gyarados while either avoiding the OHKO in return or having the means on hand (Aaron's is searchable and easy to grab in advance) to resurrect a Luxray GL lv. X immediately after that KO does come. Gyarados is only able to OHKO a fresh Luxray GL lv. X with damage modifiers, usually in the form of Expert Belt or two Flash Bites (or two PlusPower, although they are less common). You can't avoid the Expert Belt, although you can take advantage of its presence by making sure you have an Aaron's, a Crobat G and a back-up Luxray ready to Trash Bolt for 2 prizes on your turn. The Flash Bites, fortunately, are avoidable with Power Spray; Flash Bite is the main Power that you will be Spraying here.

In addition to setting up Luxray to OHKO Gyarados, you should also set up Garchomp C lv. X to take as many easy prizes off of your opponent's low-HP-filled bench as possible while also providing a full heal for Luxray after it has been hit with Tail Revenge. Virtually every supporting Pokemon in the deck aside from Regice is OHKOed by Dragon Rush. For Gyarados to be able to OHKO you, they will once again need damage modification. The supply of Flash Bites will eventually run out between attempts to OHKO both Garchomp and Luxray, and Belt makes them give up two prizes while only gaining one, so you should be able to take 6 prizes before they do through your ability to maintain a steady stream of OHKOs.

If your opponent drops an Azelf before you have seen all 4 Magikarp and you have the means to Power Spray it, do so because you are likely cutting off access to one (or possibly more) Magikarp that is stuck in the prizes. If you can reduce Tail Revenge to 60 base damage, you have essentially already won– you will never be OHKOed and you will always be able to OHKO their Gyarados as well as their entire bench.

If your opponent benches Regice, you should Bright Look it up and Dragon Rush around it for easy prizes for as long as possible. Your opponent will be forced to waste SSUs or Warp energy on it due to its high retreat cost and the deck's low energy count. You might eventually be able to lock it active and either win the game on time or take your remaining prizes from the bench.

Although Regice is a liability for the opponent once you target it with Bright Look, its Power can lead to Gyarados taking easy prizes off of your bench- while your opponent may not be able to OHKO your active Luxray or Garchomp lv. X, nothing on your bench aside from another Luxray or Garchomp lv. X can withstand 90 damage.

You can tech in a Looker's Investigation or a Judge in order to push the match-up further in your favor. The deck needs to keep its hand large and well-stocked with Pokemon Rescue and back-up Gyarados in order to keep attacking, and having a 10+ card hand full of those crucial pieces reduced to 4 or 5 random cards right before you KO his or her Gyarados is usually crippling.

Summary of tips against Gyarados:

– Get Lucario GL in play so you can OHKO Gyarados

– Deny OHKOs/bait out an Expert Belt you can make your opponent pay for by Spraying Flash Bites

– Take prizes with Garchomp from the opponent's bench

Kingdra Prime:

This match-up is lopsided in Luxray/Garchomp's favor due to Kingdra Prime's double weakness to Luxray combined with Kingdra's difficulty in dealing 110 damage. Although Kingdra can OHKO Luxray GL lv. X or Garchomp C lv. X with a bit of effort, such as a Belt and 3 Spray Splashes/Flash Bites, it will be a relatively rare occurrence– Power Spray's ability to negate a crucial Flash Bite or Spray Splash lowers the odds of a OHKO even further– whereas your type advantage and damage output lets you OHKO Kingdras with ease. If your opponent does pull off a OHKO, they will almost always be Belted and since you have the means to return the OHKO for two prizes, he or she will usually suffer more than you do.

You should focus early on crippling the opponent's set up in the usual way through Dragon Rushing Claydol and Spraying Uxie. If the opponent cannot Cosmic Power, the amount of Kingdra Prime that come into play will be low and you will have even less of a chance of getting OHKOed by a swarm of Spray Splashing/Belted Kingdras.

Perhaps more importantly, cutting off the opponent's draw power should also make it harder for them to access the Luxray counter that most lists will run, such as Donphan Prime or Machamp. If you do have to deal with one of these counters, don't panic- most lists won't run more than 1 line of the counter of choice and you can KO it with the same tricks you would use if you were playing against it in its own deck.

Poketurn and Healing Breath render Spray Splash a non-issue as long as it isn't aiding a OHKO. Other decks have to worry about the damage being spread across their field because it is permanent, but you do not have to share that concern because you have two unstoppable ways to negate it.

One way that Kingdra might pose a problem is if it goes off on turn 1 and is able to OHKO your opening Basic; 80 damage is much easier to do than 110. You might also get hit by Judge and find yourself unable to access your lv. Xs, which would generally mean a loss.

On the other side of this, you can donk Horsea and Baltoy with ease– Luxray GL with a DCE is a Flash Bite away from OHKOing LA Horsea and Garchomp C with DCE and Energy Gain OHKOs both Horsea and Baltoy.

Summary of tips against Kingdra Prime:
– Take the OHKOs on Kingdras
– Dragon Rush Claydols
– Avoid Spray Splash abuse via Poketurns/Healing Breath

Palkia G/Garchomp C:

Luxray GL lv. X OHKOs the central Pokemon of the deck, Palkia G lv. X, which gives you a huge natural advantage. However, the threat of a counter-KO from Toxicroak G keeps you in check. Azelf MT is also used to add C to all of your attack costs, which combined with the constant Power-locking from Mesprit/Power Spray that the deck is founded upon and the threat of Hydro Shot and Dragon Rush on anything you try to develop makes the game more difficult for you than simply "Flash Impact every Palkia G in play for the win."

If you can take out Azelf MT with Dragon Rush without losing your Garchomp to your opponent's own on his or her next turn, you should generally do it to keep Downer Material from crippling you throughout the game. Once you start suffering KOs on your over-energized Pokemon and have to sit there and essentially pass a few turns for lack of energy on the field, you will allow the opponent to take control and keep you in a position where you are playing from behind permanently, which you clearly do not want.

Take any KOs on Toxicroak G that you can get. Your opponent might keep that card in hand along with a Psychic and an Energy Gain for the "surprise" drop– really it is just to keep you from getting any hits on it before it attacks since no good player should be "surprised" by it at this point– and if so, you will just have to capitalize when it does hit the field. The best way to KO Toxicroak G is with Uxie lv. X– Dragon Rush plus Flash Bite is unreliable since you can be Power Sprayed or locked by Mesprit and come up 10 damage short.

The very presence of Luxray should keep Palkia on the bench for the majority of the game unless there is no threat of Flash Impact/Trash Bolt during a given turn (which can be arranged with Azelf MT). The absence of Palkia in action is nice for you because it means you will only have to deal with Garchomp C and the occasional Toxicroak G/Uxie lv. X as attacking forces. You should attempt to counter the Garchomp C with Ambipom G or your own Garchomp C just as you would in a mirror match.

If you run 2-2 Luxray or have an Aaron's/Premier Ball in hand, you can go ahead and target the Palkia G lv. X and suffer the Toxicroak G retaliation sometimes to your benefit, especially if you also have the means to OHKO that Toxicroak G lined up. Just do not give up a Luxray GL lv. X when you don't have a way to get another one out immediately or if you will fall into the Downer Material deficit as soon as you are revenge KOed.

Summary of tips against Palkia G/Garchomp C:
– KO Azelf MT with Dragon Rush as soon as you safely can
– Do not recklessly KO Pokemon with Luxray GL lv. X because you will get OHKOed back by Toxicroak G
– Orchestrate OHKOs on Toxicroak G whenever possible
– Abuse weakness when it is safe to do so


This is one of those match-ups that becomes harder and harder the more that the opponent is allowed to develop.

Most builds will run Spiritomb, which you will always struggle against. You are in good shape if you open with Luxray and DCE and can quickly KO Spiritomb before it gets several Darkness Grace attacks off/acts as a wall and Power Spray-blocker for the opponent for several turns. If you happen to draw into one of your lv. Xs, you are in even better shape, and if not, you need to grab Bebe's with Cyrus' immediately so that you can get them. One problem with fetching Bebe's via Cyrus' is that you are susceptible to getting hit with Judge before you get the chance to use the Bebe's. There is no counter to this; you just have to deal with it if it happens and hope for a good 4 cards

If your opponent begins relying on your Cyrus' to fetch Judge with Telepass (after Spiritomb has left and you are being attacked with Gardevoir/Gallade), you can stop it, although you won't know what your opponent is going to do with their Telepass until after you let them use it. Thus, you should consider the game state before you decide whether to Spray Cosmic Power or Telepass; if you fear having a Judge searched out and used against you, Spray Telepass.

If your opponent opens with something other than Spiritomb, it is wise to assume that he or she does run it and will be attempting to get it active against you as soon as possible. Thus, you should use the trainers you can during that window when you aren't Keystone Seal locked– get lv. Xs with SP Radar a turn early, drop Energy Gains, and so forth.

Most lists will run 1 or 2 Mesprit to lock you out of Powers the turn (s) before they begin using Psychic Lock. With Spiritomb active, you can't Spray Psychic Bind and have even less of a window to try to get an important Bright Look off. Some lists also run Azelf MT as well, so be wary of it. Not being able to use trainers, not being able to use Powers, having your hand reduced to a random 4 cards, and having your attack costs all raised by C will almost certainly guarantee a loss for you, so use everything at your disposal to avoid falling completely into this hole.

Psychic Lock strips you of Powers, and your deck runs on them– this is obviously bad for you. Even worse, you will not be able to build up a huge hand full of options due to the aforementioned Judge, which the deck will often run between 2-4 of. You can expect Judge to be used against you with even more frequency than Gardevoir uses it against other decks– due to your own Cyrus' and Telepass, it can be searched out. You also rely on hand-stacking– via Cyrus'– more than most decks and are thus a better target for hand disruption.

Gallade is another potent threat against you, being able to OHKO every card in your deck with Psychic Cut. Against Luxray, it doesn't even need to flip any prizes over to do so. As devastating as Psychic Cut can be against you, you can view the assault from Gallade as a cloud with a silver lining since it will give you the opportunity to use Powers and get back into the game.

The best way to approach the match-up- although with Spiritomb, Mesprit and Judge disrupting you it isn't always possible– is to get hits in on Gardevoirs and Gallades before they can hit you with Bright Look and Dragon Rush so that when they do strike, you will only have to attack once more to KO them. Because both Pokemon attack for 3 energy, it will take your opponent at least two turns to prime the next Gardevoir or Gallade, and in that time you can do the same thing– hit them before they can hit you and keep them a step behind the whole game. Most of the time, they will not have either Pokemon powered up until turn 3, and even then they may not be able to attack you due to the lack of Moonlight stadium or Unown Q to retreat their active Spiritomb. If you can immediately Cyrus' for a Bebe's and get Luxray GL lv. X into play, you can not only attack your opponent before he or she is ready, you can also play your TGIs.

If you run Uxie lv. X, you have the opportunity to OHKO Gardevoir and Gallade with Lucario GL in play (Gallade requires a Flash Bite). The downside to using Uxie lv. X to attack is that it will get return-KOed by Psychic Lock. You can also use a Mewtwo counter like Mismagius effectively here, either stripping the opposing Gardevoir of an Expert Belt/however many tools you want to get rid of on your side and dealing decent damage or using Horror Chant to hit for 70 while returning a charged Gardevoir/Gallade to your opponent's hand.

Mewtwo fits into Gardevoir easily and is impossible to OHKO if your opponent uses Psychic Lock or Psychic Bind the turn before they level up– you can't Flash Bite it and you can't Bright Look it, so you will be dealing with Mewtwo lv. X. If your opponent benches it before they lock your Powers, try to OHKO it as usual or begin setting up your counter.

If you play Judge or Looker's in your list, do not use it in this match-up unless you are in dire straits and absolutely need the hand refresh to remain in the game. Otherwise you will be getting your hand disrupted potentially every turn that a Gardevoir remains in play.

If you run Chatot, you may be able to win the game with Chatter against Spiritomb. Warp energy is uncommon here, but you may see Unown G. If your opponent's bench is already full and they have no way to KO the Spiritomb with Darkness Grace damage, go for the lock.

Summary of tips against Gardevoir:
– Hit Gardevoir and Gallade before they hit you whenever you can arrange it
– Be careful with your Cyrus' chaining because you will eventually be hit with Judge
– Try to abuse psychic weakness with Uxie lv. X and/or your Mewtwo counter
– Relish any chance you get to use Powers, such as after an attack by Gallade
– If your opponent doesn't open with Spiritomb, use as many trainers as you can before they bring it active
– Spray Telepass more than Cosmic Power

Curse Gengar

Out of all the decks in the format, this is the one that can cause you the most trouble if it fully sets up.

The goal of your opponent will be to keep you from playing trainers for as long as possible with Spiritomb, which does not go away after the first few turns as it does in most other set up decks which use it. Gengar AR will Shadow Skip and switch out to Spiritomb repeatedly, letting you take prizes on them while keeping Gengar safe on the bench. With Expert Belt, Shadow Skip does 80 damage, which is a big deal considering Gengar lv. X's Level Down and your inability to play Poketurn with Spiritomb active.

If your active Luxray or Garchomp lv. X is targeted by Level Down and you can't block it with Power Spray– whether it is due to Spiritomb or simply having none in hand– you will lose your de-leveled Pokemon to a Belted Shadow Skip. You can also be hit with a Belted Shadow Skip first and then get Leveled Down for an instant KO on your opponent's next turn with no chance to use Poketurn due to Spiritomb. Both of these scenarios are bad and difficult to avoid.

You can also anticipate having your hand disrupted with Judge or Looker's Investigation (or maybe a combination of both).

The way to win this match-up is to disrupt the hit-and-run strategy that the deck depends upon to succeed. Bright Look and Dragon Rush let you do this, although because of Spiritomb and Level Down you will have a hard time maintaining the control. Bright Looking Claydol– especially if they have already dropped what is likely their lone Unown Q on Spiritomb– and sniping Gengar is one of the best plays you can make here. Poketurning your level Xs when you are not attacking with them can also be wise because then you only have to fear Judge/Looker's and not the once-per-turn Level Down. For example, if you do Bright Look Claydol and have Garchomp C lv. X waiting, you can Poketurn the Luxray GL lv. X up so that you can repeat the process once the Claydol ends up back on the bench.

Keep in mind that Gengar resists Garchomp. With 160 HP once leveled up and Belted, you KO it with 2 Dragon Rushes– but only if it is on the bench. This shouldn't be an issue since it runs to the bench every turn anyway, but there may be a time when you need to break the Spiritomb lock and are tempted to bring up Gengar over something like Claydol thinking you can still 2HKO it with Dragon Rush. Don't make this mistake.

Bright Look is also your way around Keystone Seal, so take advantage of the break in the trainer lock whenever you are able to send a Spiritomb to the bench– drop Energy Gains, use SP Radars, etc..

If your opponent gets SF Gengar in play and threatens to use it over Cursegar, manage your trainers as well as you can– it will be harder under Spiritomb lock. Fortunately, if you are attacked by SF Gengar, you will have the chance to play as many trainers as you want afterward because Spiritomb will not be in the active position.

Because the deck is psychic, it can easily run Mewtwo lv. X, so be wary of the possibility for its appearance when you go into the match-up. If you run Mismagius as a counter, you're in luck on two fronts because you will find that it has another, non-Mewtwo-related use here: sending charged Gengars back to your opponent's hand with Horror Chant. If you can pull this off, you will set your opponent back 3 turns and also open them up to the vulnerable position of having to bench and attach to a Gastly that you can snipe or bring active with Bright Look. If you run Belt AND Mismagius, you can even OHKO Mewtwo at the same time that you send back the Gengar to your opponent's hand– you'll now be doing 120 to the Mewtwo with Horror Chant. You can just discard the Expert Belt later with Crash Chant if your opponent threatens to KO you so that you don't give up the 2 prizes.

If you run Chatot, you may be able to win the game with Chatter against Spiritomb, but you probably won't be so lucky since most lists will run 1-2 Warp energy/Unown G. If you see that your opponent has already played a Warp energy or two or their (likely) one Unown G, you might be free to secure the lock.

Summary of tips against Cursegar:

– Bright Look around Spiritomb; bring up Claydol whenever you can so you have time to snipe Gengar freely/play your trainers/disrupt their energy drops
– Do not let Gengar sit safely on the bench; bring it active or snipe it with Dragon Rush
– Get Mismagius out even if there is no Mewtwo in sight so you have the Horror Chant disruption option
– Power Spray any Level Down that you have the chance to

Here is an analysis of the Jumpluff match-up:


Jumpluff becomes a troublesome match-up when your opponent is able to set up a volatile field of Claydol(s) and Jumpluffs and score OHKOs on your lv. Xs, which is not difficult– with a full bench on their side, 3 Pokemon on yours (2 benched and 1 active) and an Expert Belt/2 Flash Bites, 110 damage is being dealt for a single energy. If you have 4 Pokemon on your bench, Mass Attack is already starting at 110. Playing with a small bench hurts you because it limits your options– you are going to be paying for your Uxie/Azelf drops, for playing Bronzong G down, for trying to set up 2 Luxrays and 2 Garchomps at the same time, etc.. You should attempt to keep your bench as small as possible even though it is detrimental to your development; you don't want to give your opponent OHKOs if you can help it.

As is the case against any deck, you should attempt to prevent set up and keep Jumpluff from coming into play/a swarm of Jumpluff from developing. The problem is that the deck tends to run 2 Uxie and 3-3 Claydol as well as Broken Time Space and 4 Pokemon Communication. It is thus not unusual for a Jumpluff player to get an Uxie and a Claydol out in the same turn, followed by a 2nd Claydol soon after, and if that happens, your Sprays might as well be saved for Flash Bites/Bright Looks because you won't be able to Spray enough to cripple them.

Trying to simply OHKO every Jumpluff you see with Flash Bite/Dragon Rush is not the best way to approach the match-up unless you are able to cripple your opponent's set up to the point that they cannot maintain a swarm/cannot OHKO you back. You will generally run out of resources before they do if their set up is solid enough– Flash Bite is needed for you to get the OHKO and you will have to reuse it via Poketurn, which means you will have less of those to heal your Garchomps or give you additional Bright Looks.

The best course of action against a Jumpluff that fully sets up is to snipe the bench after bringing Claydol active with Bright Look. If they attach energy to the Claydol to prepare for a retreat on their next turn, you retreat yourself for Ambipom G and Tail Code that energy to something irrelevant like an Azelf. Your opponent will generally recognize the futility in attaching any more energy to that Claydol because it will always be removed immediately after it is dropped. This hurts Jumpluff in two ways: it depletes their low energy count and it keeps Claydol trapped until the opponent draws into a Warp Point. If their bench isn't full, beware the Unown Q that will allow them to retreat with only one energy drop. Make sure that you have both a Power Spray in hand as well as a way to KO that Unown Q before you attempt to perform the lock. You might have to deal with it again if they Night Maintenance/Palmer's it back, and the odds are that you won't be able to stop it again. However, even if Claydol does eventually return to the bench, the disruption you perform to their energy, the time you make them waste, and the easy, safe prizes you allow yourself to take with Dragon Rush all make it well-worth it to initiate the lock.

If your opponent runs Judge and/or Azelf MT, you can get locked out of the game, especially if you overextend and walk into a OHKO. Losing a Garchomp C lv. X with AMU in play and/or after having your hand reduced to 4 cards is devastating. You also have to be wary of Expert Belt, which takes away your chance to OHKO Jumpluff (unless you can get 3 Flash Bites off/run Belt yourself and Dragon Rush plus Flash Bite– neither scenario is common) while allowing Jumpluff to OHKO you even when you are managing your bench space well.

You can also use Luxray to bring up weak Pokemon like Uxie, Crobat G and any Hoppip/Skiploom that your opponent didn't get a chance to evolve for easy prizes that diminish Mass Attack's damage output, rather than go head-to-head with Jumpluff itself.

If your opponent runs Luxray, it should be one of the first things you Dragon Rush (obviously the regular form and not the lv. X) after you bring up Claydol with Bright Look. You don't want your opponent to Warp Point out of the lock AND get a Bright Look of their own off against you.

Because Hoppip has an abysmally-low 30 HP, you actually have decent odds of donking your opponent or at least scoring a quick KO with either Luxray or Garchomp (or Ambipom). You might also be able to KO a Hoppip via 3 Flash Bites.

Summary of tips against Jumpluff:
– Disrupt set up, as always
– Keep your bench limited
– Bright Look Claydol repeatedly and snipe around it, forcing opponent to burn Warp Point
– Eventually lock Claydol active with Tail Code if you can

Kettler Edit: Due to Claydol being a nonfactor in Majestic Dawn-on, I feel like this matchup has changed siginificantly enough to warrant some extra discussion.

There are two popular variants of Jumpluff out right now: one which runs Spiritomb and Vileplume; and another which runs high counts of Pokemon Communication/Supporters/other cards meant to produce a "turbo" effect.

*To have the best possible time defeating the Spiritomb AR/Vileplume UD variant, you may need to treat the early matchup much like the Vilegar matchup – that is, Bright Look up Vileplume as soon as possible, and take it out shortly thereafter with Zen Blade (ideal), two Flash Impacts, or three little attacks if the opponent doesn't have enough energy to retreat yet.

*To have the best possible time defeating the turbo variant, it may actually be in your favor to snipe Jumpluffs whenever possible. However, Mesprit and possible hand disruption will give you a ton of trouble, so watch out. Power Spray will be a lifesaver here, both in halting high-yield Uxie Set Ups, as well as painful Psychic Binds or Crobat G Flash Bites. This matchup may take some practice to get a good feel for when and where to Power Spray, but the quintessential "modern" list (3 Power Spray and at least 1 Junk Arm) should make life very easy for you here.

In both matchups, be sure to limit your bench whenever possible!

Dialga G/Garchomp C

This is a match-up that will generally require you to be on your toes the entire game just like in the mirror match. Expect to be burned out by the finish.

The central combo of the deck revolves around Healing Breath removing all of the damage from a Belted Dialga G lv. X tanked up with Special Metals; Warp energy/Warp Point, Bronzong G and Poketurn all allow the opponent to continually abuse Healing Breath while losing no energy or getting stuck with Garchomp active after it heals.

Because of your heavy reliance on trainers, Deafen hurts you just like Spiritomb does but moreso because the effect is placed on you and is not contingent upon Dialga remaining active. Unlike Keystone Seal, Deafen also does damage– not alot, but damage nonetheless. Even 10 damage on Garchomp C can be a big deal if it isn't allowed to Healing Breath– an opposing Garchomp C only needs to Earthquake for a OHKO instead of Dragon Rush, which can be huge.

Luxray fortunately resists Dialga, rendering Deafen a damageless attack (unless they use it with Expert Belt attached) and keeping Luxray GL lv. X out of OHKO range from a Belted Remove Lost (whereas only a Flash Bite is needed to OHKO Garchomp C lv. X with this attack). Possessing resistance to Dialga is not enough to win the match-up, of course– Expert Belt negates your resistance and allows Dialga to 2HKO you like it does most other Pokemon. It also "resists" everything when it has Special Metals attached to it, turning what would be 2HKOs from Flash Impact/Dragon Rush into 3HKOs or even 4HKOs.

Another reason that resisting Dialga is not necessarily game-breaking is Garchomp's presence; it is this card above all else that makes the match-up difficult. Your opponent can Deafen you for several turns, restricting your set up and barring you from using SP Radar to get out your lv. Xs, while they build their own Garchomp Cs on the bench to Dragon Rush yours. You might also get hit with Judge or Looker's Investigation after enduring several turns of Deafen so that you don't get to finally play down all of your trainers once the lock has ended. If that happens, you will have 4-5 cards in hand and you will have lost the first Garchomp of the game– in other words you will be in a poor position.

Your opponent will also likely be running Toxicroak G promo to keep your Luxray in check should you attempt to take down Dialga with it. Although your resistance to metal isn't game-winning, it does give you an edge against Dialga itself and without the threat of a OHKO from Poison Revenge, you could comfortably rely on Luxray for most of the game, healing with Poketurn or Healing Breath before Dialga can KO you (since it can never OHKO a fresh Luxray GL lv. X barring a Belted Remove Lost and 3 Flash Bites). Since you do have to worry about Toxicroak G, however, you need to be careful how you actually go about KOing Dialga Gs. Having an Uxie lv. X ready is a good idea in case they do drop the Toxicroak against you.

If your opponent gets a Belted Dialga G lv. X in play, consider using Toxic Fang against it just as you would against Donphan. Double-poison is a solid counter to the tank strategy if your opponent cannot respond with Warp Point/Warp energy right away. Also consider using Toxicroak G against it following a KO so that you can poison it in that fashion while also doing damage.

Take out your opponent's Garchomps as soon as you can. You will usually be up against a 2-2 line and you should keep this in mind whenever you Dragon Rush one and leave another unleveled-up Garchomp on his or her bench. Try to set up an Ambipom G as well for the occasion when your opponent Dragon Rushes you and ends up energyless in the process. Whenever you can take a KO on a Garchomp C or Garchomp C lv. X without leaving your own Garchomps in harm's way, you should generally do it, and Ambipom G happens to be the best card for that purpose.

Your opponent is going to be running Claydol. You can try to turn it into a liability by bringing it up with Bright Look and then sniping around it for a turn or two. This isn't always going to work since your opponent can immediately retreat with DCE/the aid of Galactic Switch or escape back to the bench with Warp Point/Warp energy (or simply Spray your Bright Look); sometimes, however, you will be able to pull it off. You can also try to take advantage of your opponent's reliance on Cosmic Power by Spraying it at critical times/KOing Claydol just as you would against any other deck running it– remember, Dialga/Garchomp functions at its best when it has access to largely unsearchable cards such as Special Metal, Warp energy/Warp Point and Expert Belt and so you might be able to cripple them by taking their draw power out. You might run into a counter-KO from a Garchomp C if you Dragon Rush Claydol though, or a Toxicroak G counter-KO if you kill it or Baltoy with Luxray, so be careful; attack with discretion after sizing up the current game state. Also don't use all of your Sprays on Cosmic Power. You will need them for Healing Breaths and Galactic Switches, particularly the former. You do not want to spend several turns whittling down a Dialga G lv. X only to have it completely healed, so Power Spray Healing Breath if you can.

One way to ensure your benched Garchomps do not get OHKOed by your opponent's Garchomps via Dragon Rush is to level up immediately even if you have nothing to Healing Breath and do not intend to attack with it during that turn. Your opponent is probably not going to be running Luxray or any other way to bring your Garchomps active once they are on the bench, so if you level up and then retreat (ie. Poketurn your active, damaged Luxray, promote a Garchomp, level up, then retreat that for another Luxray), you take away the Dragon Rush threat and instead put them in trouble as soon as they Poketurn their own Garchomp C lv. X and rebench the Garchomp C (ie. after going for the Warp Point/Warp energy/Healing Breath combo).

If your opponent tries to Deafen you early on and they have non-SP Pokemon in play such as Azelf and Baltoy/Claydol, you might consider using Ambipom G to Tail Code the Metal energy– especially if they are Special– off Dialga.

Summary of tips against Dialga/Garchomp:
– Use Power Spray effectively, ie. to disrupt the central Healing Breath/Warp energy or Warp Point combo of the deck
– Level up Garchomps quickly even if you aren't going to attack with them immediately so they won't get sniped for a KO on the bench
– KO opposing Garchomps whenever possible
– Bright Look Claydol and snipe around it
– Take advantage of Luxray's resistance to Dialga to prevent OHKOs against you while being wary of Toxicroak G when you're going for the KO yourself"

Although the article remains technically uncompleted, I find that to be a good thing…You know, like how Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov was supposed to have a sequel, but didn't.

I hope that transferring Alex's post from the articles section of the forum to the /blog section will give it a new lease on life.

'Til next time,


Luxchomp Deck Examination City Championship Tournament Reports (Part 4/7)

12/19/2010: Tom Bean, TX​

(From the list referenced in Part III, Section 1…)
-1 Drifloon
-1 Drifblim​
-1 VS Seeker

+1 Call Energy
​+1 Premier Ball​
+1 Uxie​

Pokemon (18):

3 Garchomp C
1 Garchomp C LV.X
2 Luxray GL
1 Luxray GL LV.X
3 Uxie LA
1 Uxie LV.X
1 Crobat G
1 Ambipom G
1 Bronzong G
1 Lucario GL
1 Toxicroak G Promo
1 Unown Q
1 Azelf LA

Trainers (30):

4 Cyrus's Conspiracy
4 Pokemon Collector
4 PokeTurn
3 Energy Gain
3 Power Spray​
2 SP Radar
2 Bebe's Search
2 Junk Arm
2 Premier Ball
1 VS Seeker
1 Looker's Investigation
1 Luxury Ball
1 Aaron's Collection

Energy (12)

4 Call
3 Lightning
1 Psychic

What worked: for starters, the consistency. I had finally gotten around to making space for the 4th Call, as well as the third Uxie – two steps in the right direction which I had been meaning to take, but chose not to due to miscellaneous reasons. However, as you can tell from the past three entries, the deck didn’t change too radically, since it really was just a three card switch.

All in all, I’d say that this is the strongest list I used all City Championship season: while I didn’t feel as powerful versus mirror as I would have liked to, I felt like the deck was very well-rounded.

This would be the last time for me to use Luxchomp, as I would switch to Dialgachomp for the last two.

What didn't: Mewtwo LV.X vulnerability is bad, but I made a metagame call that I wouldn’t have to deal with it at this tournament. I turned out to be right on the money, but if Mewtwo is everywhere, then you can’t quite as easily get by without a Dialga G LV.X or something thereabouts.

The debate between running a single Luxury Ball versus a single Pokemon Communication still rages. In the occasional hand where you have no other Pokemon, Luxury Ball is clearly the better choice, and since I’m paranoid about making bad hands playable, I deemed Luxury Ball to be the better choice. Ultimately, the higher your Pokemon count, the more justifiable Pokemon Communication over Luxury Ball is, and for today, it was less justifiable than either of my past events.

Round 1: VS Dale L. (Blaziken FB/Luxray GL/Garchomp C)

            Despite all of the added consistency bells and whistles, I would proceed to mulligan once, followed by a lone Garchomp C start going first. All I could do was attach a Lightning Energy, pass, and then watch him proceed to first turn me with two Flash Bites and a Claw Swipe of his own.

Loss (0-1)

Round 2: VS Martin M. (Luxchomp)

            In stark contrast to the last game, I would open with a very nice Luxray start, which – when combined with Call and Uxie’s Set Up) – gave me what could be the perfect opportunity to double Power Spray him. This is just what happens, and so he is forced to Mimic into a new hand. Since my first turn deck search revealed to me that my Garchomp C LV.X was prized, I knew that I had to use Azelf’s Time Walk Poke-Power to locate it, and then rearrange appropriately so I could get into it by my first prize. Perhaps a bit too overeager to get it out, I accidentally “Bite” for 50 damage instead of 60 (Chatot Majestic Dawn’s Weakness is +20 – not x2). This ended up playing to my favor later on, as it led to a bench spot being clogged on his part.

            I would redeem the misplay with a Crobat G Flash Bite KO, which helped edge me back into board control with the Garchomp. Since our lists were virtually identical, the exchange would remain very typical of the match. He pushed for a comeback when I was stuck without a KO response, but then I came right back when his own responses were dry. Our match went to time, and I drew my last prize in the “+3 turns” phase.

While he didn’t have too much trouble hitting Double Colorless Energy, I don’t think he saw Power Spray during our game, which made my last string of moves a bit fortunate.

Win (1-1)

Round 3: VS Kevin S. (Vespiquen/Shaymin/Sunflora/Cherrim)

I was stuck with no supporters or draw for the first three turns of the game, being forced to pathetically Tail Code energy off of a 30 HP Combee just so I wouldn’t get steamrolled. However, by the fourth turn, I hit a Pokemon Collector, and the matchup turned around to what both Kevin and myself believed it to be: a Luxchomp blowout. The Vespiquen’s Poke-body allowed for one easy KO on me, but it didn’t last long, as I was able to instantly respond back to it.

Win (2-1)

Round 4: VS (Charizard/Ninetales/Typhlosion)​

I very quickly dismantled this deck, scoring six prized from the first turn-onward, and having the Spray whenever I needed it. This was, yet again, another one of those stupid games where SP steamrolls a deck because it can’t set up.

Win (3-1)

Round 5: VS Dana L. (Garchomp C/Honchkrow SV)

With the inclusion of Honchkrow SV, but without the inclusion of Sableye or Cyrus’s Initiative, Dana is allowed to play his SP game as regularly as possible, yet still have some slick options in the mirror. Bar the lack of Dragonite and Power Sprays, and I thik he’d be set in every possible way.

We were looking to have a very competitive game given our starts: I had Called on the first turn, but with no Power Spray in my hand, which amounted to a solid setup on his part. However, for some reason, his Portraiting my Cyrus caused a brain fart that led to him not playing his Supporter for the turn, so he passed with just two Pokemon in play. This turned everything around, and allowed me to turn a contentious mirror match into a blowout.

He naturally felt bad about it, and I felt bad for him, since lord knows I’ve had at least a couple games like that. Still, he had a chance to redeem himself, since… Our top four cut would consist of the following:

1st Seed Dana L. (Garchomp C/Honchkrow SV) VS 4th Seed John K. (Luxchomp)
2nd Seed Dale L. (BLG) VS 3rd Seed Cameron H. (Luxchomp/ERL)

Top Four: VS Dana L. (Garchomp C/Honchkrow SV)

Game one – I don't setup too poorly, but he did get the early edge against me in our garchomp mirror despite running a 2-2. Whiffing on DCEs hurt me pretty badly, and gave him the punch. T

Granted, several things kept me in the game, such as my Power Sprays, but after it became hopeless, I decided to scoop, knowing full well that every second would count. Dragonite FB or even a 4th Energy Gain would’ve been very nice…

Game two – Ambipom G vs Ambipom G. I hit him for a first turn 60 after a Set Up. Luckily for me, his hand was trash, so with a combo of benching Crobat G for “Flash Bite,” Poketurn, two Junk Arms, and Uxie LV.X's Zen Blade, I was able to KO both pokemon by the second turn for a double donk.

Game three – I go first, set up a bit, and pass. To thin his hand for Uxie, he makes a huge gamble by dropping an Expert Belt on his active Promocroak, as he failed the Leap Away, and whiffed on PokeTurns, so was forced to keep it stuck active. The next turn, after a stream of plays, I was able to respond to the Promocroak with a near-immediate Zen Blade, granting me the early edge From here, we kept making little prize exchanges, but the edge this gave me in resources and prizes guaranteed the game. Due to Azelf and Crobat G being prized, my hands were largely tied in terms of options, but the 3-1 Garchomp helped me persevere.

Win (5-1)

Game one –  What a miserable game: I didn’t get a single supporter until the very last turn, yet even then I was able to draw two prizes throughout. He had made a huge gamble early on, Expert Belting his Luxray GL LV.X to run through my guys – something that was continually frustrating, since I was sitting on a Toxicroak G Promo and an Energy Gain for five-six turns in a row, just waiting to top deck anything.

Some games are just not meant to be, and SP, for all its merits, has some horrid hands like this. Variance dictates that you’re simply just supposed to have the occasional game where you go fifteen turns with no supporter. This was one such game.

Game two – This game was looking much the same way as game one, but fortunately, I had many nice playing options, and was able to put up some very quick aggression: once again, I had no supporters for the first eight turns of the game, but I conveniently had everything that I needed to allow for proper prize exchanges, attacking, and so forth. Eventually, I would finally draw into a Collector, and from there, the game was mine to lose. He played this out until the bitter end, perhaps hoping to score an Entei/Raikou sudden death on me, but it just didn’t happen.

Game three – It seems as if the two horrid hands from the last two games were balanced out by how insanely good the one in this third game was, giving me the option of the first turn Power Spray, several great attackers, and the overall edge. It got to the point where he was starved of any Colorless attackers, and so my Garchomp C LV.X was allowed to go unchecked. Time was eventually called when I was up two prizes, but since I felt vulnerable to a potential Entei/Raikou Thunder Fall, I decided to use Lock Up to keep his Smeargle stuck in the active position on the “+3” turns, thus assuring the timed win.

Win (6-1)

Metagame considerations: our 20-person field was smaller than expected, but it's fortunately simple enough to give us a nearly-perfect accurate understanding of what the metagame consisted of. Below are all of the decks represented at the event…

Luxchomp x5​
Gyarados x2​
Unaccounted for x2​
Garchomp C/Honchkrow
"Dark" rogue deck
Weavile disruption hand thing (could be the same deck as the Houndoom build listed above)

Yes…A tournament I got nearly every deck from!

As expected, SP was far and away the favorite to win this event. With at least 40% of all competitors using some form of it, the odds were so tilted in its favor to sweep it was disgusting. This was indeed represented in the cut, which was – surprise, surprise – all SP. Furthermore, it helped that several players with proven track records were using it: of the eight, four who used it had top cut the previous day's Cities (Watauga and McKinney, held roughly an hour and fifteen minutes away from each other).

In hindsight, I actually felt like this twenty person metagame was stronger than either of the previous two, revealing that bigger events are not always harder. Almost every deck was either a proven archetype, or a well-built rogue with a clearly-focused build (other than the 30 HP Combee, I actually thought the Vespiquen was very well-built for what it was).

So another tournament…And another win. However, this would be my last event with Luxchomp, as I decided I needed to work with Dialga for a while. How did I fare with that deck relative to Luxchomp? Well, read Part 5 to find out!

Luxchomp Deck Examination City Championship Tournament Reports (Part 2/7)

Luxchomp Deck Examination/City Championship Tournament Reports

Part 2: College Station, TX

Pokemon (19):

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

Trainers (30):

4 Cyrus's Conspiracy

4 Pokemon Collector

4 PokeTurn

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

Energy (11)


3 Call

3 Lightning

1 Psychic

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.

Win (1-0)

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.

Win (2-0)

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.

Win (3-0)

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.

Loss (3-1)

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.

Win (4-1)

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 1
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.

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.)

Game 3
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)

Win (5-1)

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.  

Win (6-1)

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.

Luxchomp x3

Gyarados x2

Dialgachomp x2

Uxie donk x2





Feraligatr/Blastoise/Kingdra tech


Crobat Prime

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…