It’s Kaiwen here, back with another article! Nationals was probably the last premier event for many, as the final stretch of the Pokémon season draws near. The season has gone so fast! Heck, it just felt like last week when the season was just starting, and I was frantically play-testing Zekrom/Eelektrik. However, arguably the most important event is still yet to be played: the World Championships. The best players from all over the world will congregate at the VCCC in Vancouver, British Columbia, to fight for the title of World Champion!
This article will highlight:
- United States Nationals Results
- Other Nationals Championship Results
- Pre-Worlds metagame Predictions
- Post-Worlds: What to Expect with Plasma Blast
Over this past weekend, the United States National Championships took place, and with it came some very interesting results. The first being no Blastoise in top 8. I personally was shocked with this result, as Blastoise has proven to be one of the best decks in the game right now, and was widely considered one of the best plays for the event. However, I can attribute Blastoise’s lack of success in three points:
- Blastoise counters (Klinklang and Garbodor) were played in higher numbers than expected. Going into the event, players thought that Klinklang and Garbodor would be beaten by other tier one decks such as Plasma and Darkrai, which would give a window of opportunity for Blastoise to succeed in such a diverse metagame.
- Naturally being a Stage 2 deck, Blastoise is less consistent in comparison to other tier one decks such as Darkrai and Plasma. In such a large event with 972 masters, pure Basic decks were more likely to succeed because they could be set up quicker and easier every game, making for more consistent results.
- Squirtle has 60hp. Plasma, which was easily the most played deck of the tournament, can hit 60 damage on the first turn relatively easily. That means if you start with lone Squirtle, going second against Plasma, you’re gonna have a bad time!
Another interesting point to note is Life Dew in Plasma decks. I know Marcus Raj was very excited when he heard this news, but I was very surprised with this decision. However, with more thought, I realised it was actually a very good play. Tool Scrapper was taken out of decks mainly because, with the release of the Plasma deck, Garbodor was thought to be out-sped by the format. With Tool Scrapper gone, it made room for a card such as Life Dew to make an appearance. If anyone doesn’t know what Life Dew does, it is a Pokémon Tool Ace Spec that forces your opponent to take one less prize on a Pokémon it is attached to. This can completely mess up your opponent’s maths, and can force them to knock out a Kyurem for no reward, or a Thundurus EX for only one prize.
The final interesting point was that Gothitelle/Accelgor won. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised about this. At first, I was confused as to why Blastoise (a Stage 2 deck that is naturally inconsistent, marginally donkable, and slower than other decks) didn’t do very well; however, Gothitelle/Accelgor (a deck that is even more inconsistent, the most donkable, and the slowest in the format) won. Once again, I attribute that to three reasons:
- When the deck sets up its lock completely, unless the opponent has two Keldeo EX or Audino in their deck, the Gothitelle/Accelgor deck will win; the lock is too deadly. Couple that with Dusknoir moving damage from Pokémon to Pokémon, never taking prizes, and not making the deck susceptible to a late game N, the deck has almost no weak points to exploit once set up.
- The deck’s auto-loss (Blastoise) did not perform as well as expected, which gave a window of opportunity for Gothitelle to succeed.
- Gothitelle/Accelgor has a favourable match-up against most of the poplar decks in the game at the moment. One Keldeo EX is not enough to get rid of the lock. In actual fact, the one Keldeo EX will end up hurting you in the match-up, because the Gothitelle deck will end up locking it in active, Accelgor will use Deck and Cover each turn to paralyse and poison it, and then move the damage onto another Pokémon. Not to mention, decks these days usually play around 30 Trainers; that’s half your deck that Gothitelle shuts off completely!
There were other interesting points from U.S Nationals I could mention, but these three struck me as the most interesting.
Here are the results for the top 4 of U.S Nationals in Masters:
- Edmund Kuras (Gothitelle/Accelgor/Mew EX/Dusknoir)
- Ryan Sabelhaus (Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem/Absol)
- Samuel Ligget (Gothitelle/Accelgor/Mew EX/Dusknoir)
- Robert Seley (Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem/Absol)
Thanks to our affiliate AceTrainerAU for the top 4 info!
Around the world, different metagames showcased different decks that did well. Overall, the most successful deck was the Team Plasma deck (Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem), which took 7 titles. The second most successful deck was tied between Darkrai EX/Absol/Sableye and Gothitelle/Accelgor, both taking three titles. Finally, the third most successful deck was Blastoise, taking two Nationals (not including Canadian Nationals for already known reasons). If you want to check out these results, you can go onto The Top Cut’s page of Nationals results.
Overall, Nationals results turned out generally how I expected it to. Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem was thought to be the best deck in the format once the cards were released, and the results clearly show that it probably is. Darkrai is still wreaking havoc as one of the best decks in the game, and while Blastoise is lacking a little luster, it still took two Nationals titles. Klinklang and Garbodor are still going strong as metagame counters, and Gothitelle being the ultimate metagame counter has proven to not just be a gimmick, but a real, strong deck than can take the title of the largest event of the year.
Now, this is the part of the article where people will disagree with me regardless of what I say. However, these predictions are my opinion, and I will be using other Nationals results as a reference to my choices. I’ll go through each deck individually, give my thoughts, a list of Kyle Sucevich’s Team Plasma deck, and then a number showing my percentage prediction of that deck being represented at Worlds.
Team Plasma (Thundurus/Deoxys/Kyurem)
As stated earlier in this article, once the cards were released in Japanese, people saw the synergy between Thundurus EX, Deoxys EX, and Kyurem. Once the cards were released in English, the deck took off, and has been the most successful at Battle Roads and Nationals. I’m not sure if the deck was as successful as Darkrai was last format, however it has proven itself in the metagame and is definitely a deck you will play against at Worlds. Personally, I feel the same way about this deck as everyone probably does; I think it is the best deck in the format, and arguably the best play for Worlds. Below is Kyle Sucevich’s Team Plasma deck, which he piloted at U.S Nationals, and at the Last Chance for Championship Points tournament after:
I personally think Kyle’s list is the best to show off, as he made it as consistent as possible while also teching in cards normal lists wouldn’t run, such as Tool Scrapper and Basic Lightning Energy. Kyle’s reasoning behind Tool Scrapper is that Keldeo/Float Stone was running rampant in the format, so he wanted to have an answer to it. Not to mention Tool Scrapper helps against Garbodor as well. The one Basic Lightning Energy is to counter Enhanced Hammer played in Darkrai decks, and also Cobalion EX’s Righteous Edge. With Sableye Junk Hunting for Enhanced Hammer every turn, the Basic Lightning Energy can help you retain Energy on Thundurus EX, and then use Raiden Knuckle to replenish the Energy on the bench while also KO’ing Sableyes. Sounds good to me!
Overall, I will say that probably 50% of the field at Worlds will be playing Plasma. I know that sounds like a lot, but considering the results of Nationals around the world, and Battle Road results, there is no doubt that Team Plasma is going to be the most played deck at Worlds.
Most of the talk in this article about Blastoise is saying it isn’t very good compared to other decks in the format. However, I assure you the deck is still extremely strong, and will still be represented at Worlds in large numbers—especially after Gothitelle/Accelgor won the United States Nationals. Personally, I feel like Blastoise should still be considered one of the best decks in the format; the power of Black Kyurem EX being able to one-shot opposing EX’s, Blastoise having arguably the best ability in the game at the moment, and Keldeo EX being able to Rush In (thus getting rid of status conditions) provides a very versatile and well-rounded deck. Once again, I feel like this is one of the decks you will definitely play at worlds once at the very least. I’m not sure how everyone else feels about the deck, but I think it is the second best play for Worlds, simply because of the deck’s power, success, and simplicity. The question then remains; will Blastoise ‘rain’ on everyone’s parade?
Overall, I feel 25% of the field at Worlds will consist of Blastoise/Keldeo variants. Once again, for a deck that hasn’t seen success at U.S Nationals and has fallen under the radar a little, it does seem a bit rich to predict 25% of the field. But, I am confident the deck will perform well at Worlds, and I’m sure other players feel the same way as well.
Darkrai has been a good deck ever since its release, and that isn’t going to change heading into the second year that Darkrai is legal for the World Championships. Darkrai is consistent, strong (as it can hit for large amounts of damage), and fast (as you can produce quick Night Spears and/or Mind Jacks with Darkrai or Absol). However, I feel like Darkrai is almost too consistent to do well at big events; it doesn’t have many cool tricks in comparison to other decks in the game. Darkrai has only two attacking options, while decks such as Plasma or Blastoise have three to four attacking options. Because of this, I feel like the deck is too streamlined and too predictable to do well in such an event such as Worlds. However, due to the decks simplicity and also its price in comparison to the other decks in the game, I feel like the deck will still be played in large numbers at worlds, and you should expect to play one at the very least in Swiss.
I think 15% of the playing field at Worlds will consist of Darkrai/Absol/Sableye decks. However, if you are considering playing the deck, then heavily test the Blastoise match-up, or else you’re gonna have a bad time.
Gothitelle/Accelgor, Garbodor/Landorus/Cobalion, Klinklang/Cobalion EX
I decided to group these three decks together, because they all fall into the same category as being metagame counters. I won’t speak too much about these decks, as you may or may not play them in Swiss at Worlds, but I would like to shed some light on how to go about the matchups. Against Gothitelle, double Keldeo EX is needed to assure a win in the matchup. However, space is a problem for most decks, and some decks may not be able to play the second Keldeo. However, with Gothitelle rising in popularity, I feel like Blastoise will see a similar rise in popularity, as it is Gothitelle’s auto-loss. Furthermore, I also feel as if Gothitelle won’t be played at Worlds in high numbers, because people will start to realise the deck’s weaknesses. Not to mention, it is the easiest deck to donk, and even in a best-of-one thirty minute format, it is risky to play. To be honest, I don’t recommend this deck for the World Championships as it does face many problems, but with the right testing as well as the right matchups, Gothitelle could be a very good play.
Garbodor has suddenly fallen off the radar. After dominating the first week of the State Championships, as well as Spring Regionals, it has finally been taken out with decks such as Team Plasma, which out-speed it almost every time. That said, Garbodor paired with Landorus EX and Cobalion EX can be a very difficult matchup for all three of the tier one decks. Cobalion EX can get rid of the Special Energy that Plasma needs, Landorus EX can wreak havoc against Darkrai, and Mewtwo EX is a sold counter to Keldeo EX, as well as providing some fight against Deoxys EX. While I feel Garbodor is a solid deck, and in theory a very good metagame counter, I don’t recommend this deck for Worlds, given its klunkyness and the ability for other decks to out speed it.
Lastly, I will discuss Klinklang. I have a pet-hate for Klinklang thanks to Jennifer W, but I shall discuss it nevertheless. When both Klinklang’s are set up, the deck rolls very well and starts to become very strong. It shuts down Blastoise very easily, it can give the Plasma deck a hard time, but because of Absol, Darkrai can deal with it. I can’t say too much about Klinklang as I haven’t played the deck before, but I will say if played correctly and built correctly, it is very difficult to beat. The only real counters decks can include are Moltres from Next Destinies or the V-Create Victini, and those cards are difficult to add because of space. If I was to choose a metagame counter for Worlds, I would have to pick this deck, simply because it is the hardest to tech against. It does a good job shutting down the main tier one decks, and Cobalion EX does its job removing Special Energies against Plasma, which will be the most played deck at Worlds.
I think 5% of the field will consist of metagame counters. That may sound quite low, but I don’t think many players will go into Worlds attempting to play a metagame counter, seeing as tier one decks will most likely tech for them anyway.
The deck that won Australian Nationals! Right at the begining of my holiday, I started testing Rayeels myself with very good results. I feel like the addition of Tropical Beach, Float Stone, Keldeo EX, and Mr Mime makes the deck extremely versatile, much more consistent, and a lot more resilient to Darkrai EX and Landorus EX. The problem Eelektrik decks faced prior to this was losing steam mid- to late-game, either because of a bad N or Juniper, or losing Eelektrik cards due to bench damage from Night Spear and/or Hammerhead. Mr Mime counters both those attacks by protecting your benched Eelektrik; this forces your opponent to KO the Mr Mime, and therefore waste a Catcher and a turn to remove the nuisance Pokemon.
With Tropical Beach now being added to the deck (Skyarrow isn’t needed anymore as Keldeo + Float Stone is a free retreat), consistency in the late-game is added as you can beach and refresh your hand if need be. However, at a tournament such as Worlds, I don’t think Rayquaza/Eelektrik is a very good play for one sole reason: Tynamo has 40hp and will most likely get donked if started on its own. Plasma can hit for very high amounts of damage early, and can KO your Tynamo cards as early as turn 1. Darkrai can also hit 40 damage turn 1 either with Sableye or Absol. Losing a round at Worlds because of a donk is not something any player would like to experience, and playing Rayeels is a huge risk because of it.
For Rayeels, I feel like 5% of the field will be gutsy enough to play it. They will probably outweigh the bad points of Rayeels and just focus on the good points of the deck.
So that is my 100%; 50% to Plasma, 25% to Blastoise, 15% to Darkrai, 5% to metagame counters, and 5% to Rayquaza/Eelektrik.
This article has been aimed at players who are going to Worlds; however, I would like to shed some light on post-Worlds. With Plasma Blast being released, I have heard countless discussions about whether a certain card will be good or not. Looking at the Japanese results, Virizion EX/Genesect EX seems like it would be a good deck that will take the metagame by storm. If anyone doesn’t know what Virizion EX does: it’s ability, Verdant Wind, shuts off all Special Conditions to Pokémon with Grass Energy attached. It’s attack, Emerald Slash, does 50 damage, and you can attach two Grass Energy from your deck to one of your benched Pokémon. Genesect EX’s ability, Red Signal, is a Pokémon Catcher when you attach a Plasma Energy from your hand to it. Its attack, Megalo Cannon, does 100 damage to the active Pokémon, and 20 damage to the bench for two Grass Energy and one Colourless Energy. G-Booster, which is the Ace Spec of choice in the deck, is a Pokémon Tool card; when attached to Genesect EX, it gives Genesect the ability to attack for 200 damage for three Energy. Obviously, the synergy between these cards is immense, and Grass-type will make a huge comeback into the game next season.
In terms of the metagame post-Worlds, since there will be no rotation, I feel like the format will be the same with Darkrai, Blastoise, and Team Plasma all doing well. I also feel like the Virizion/Genesect deck will also do very well and will see a lot of success. Other decks like Suicune/Terrakion will also see play as they emerge from the new set. I think the metagame will be very diverse come next season, and I hope it will develop into a skill-based format rather than a rock-paper-scissors format.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Please leave a comment about what you’d like me to write about in the future. I have a few ideas, but I’d like to hear from the people in the community before I go on writing more articles.