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Jay Lesage

"Silvally Lining" - A London Internationals Summary

Take a look at Jay's analysis of the top performing decks at the European International Championships!

11/29/2017 by Jay Lesage

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Rise and shine, all of you jet-lagged travellers! It's only been a few days since the European International Championships has concluded, and I watched every bit of it from back at home with a nice bowl of popcorn. If there's anything better for me than playing Pokémon, it's watching Pokémon -- and analyzing each player's decisions. It's interesting to note specific player's tells, their play styles, and ultimately their deck choice: it can surely explain a lot about a player's background and history! Since the release of the two most recent expansions, Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion, the metagame was shaken up with cards such as Buzzwole-GX, Silvally-GX, and most importantly, Zoroark-GX. Tord Reklev, the newly crowned 2017 European International Champion (and now two-time International Champion) piloted his Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX deck to a 1st place finish over Zakary Krekeler's Silvally-GX Toolbox deck.

That was a shocker of a sentence -- how did two new concepts just cycle through to the finals? Why didn't Gardevoir-GX triumph like it usually does? Where was Greninja in the end? Where was Volcanion? These are all questions that we're going to answer in today's article! Let's start off with the first question...

Question #1: "How did two brand new decks make the finals?"

In order to answer this, let's take a peek at the two finalist's lists individually, and see how they match up against the metagame. Below is Tord's 1st place Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX list:

As you can see, Tord's list is well equipped to take down the entire metagame with an endless loop of beatdown attacks from either Zoroark or Golisopod. His main attackers are mainly towering over other Pokemon with their high HP - without their high HP, this deck wouldn't be nearly as good. Tord based his list entirely off of Zoroark's Trade ability in order to draw mass amounts of cards, all the while recycling those precious resources with his four copies of Puzzle of Time. Tord plays an insanely high amount of utility cards such as Brigette and Field Blower - we're not used to seeing these played in high amounts. This reasoning is multi-fold:

• Field Blower is important for removing Po Town and any Tools on Garbodor -- if Trade is cut off, the deck will completely shut down

• Brigette is key in setting up Tord's draw power by searching out all of his precious Zorua -- he doesn't want to play heavy copies of Professor Sycamore and discard all of these precious resources

• Any extra copies of cards he doesn't want, he can just discard with Trade

With this in mind, the list was thoroughly thought out. He even includes a light amount of Grass Energy because he knows he can rifle through his deck quick enough, and Acerola will help him keep those Grass Energy on a consistent rotation. Oh wait - we haven't even talked about Acerola yet! Acerola is the bread and butter of this deck, since both of his Stage 1 attackers have crazy high HP. With Acerola consistently being accessible via Trade, it's so easy for Tord to find one of his three Acerola. Followed up by that, he can then recycle the with his Puzzles in order to spam off a maximum of 7 Acerola! That's absolutely incredible! During his streamed games, it wasn't uncommon to see Tord play upwards of four Acerolas against his opponent, and watching them struggle to dish out damage put Tord in a very advantageous spot. It's no wonder why he was able to be crowned the 2018 European International Champion!

Now that we've had a brief synopsis as to how Tord's deck ran so well, let's have a peak over at Zakary Krekeler's Silvally-GX list, shall we?

This deck was an absolute shocker -- we all knew Zoroark-GX was going to be wildly popular, but Silvally? This was something that nobody saw coming! Zakary piloted an ingenious list against all odds in order to place 2nd at the European Internationals, with a deck that had a unique premise: extreme energy acceleration, as well as supreme type advantages. With the way Zak built his deck, he was able to corner most of the metagame, or at least square off against it evenly. Zak's deck's strengths mostly stem from being able to attach crazy amounts of energy via Silvally, Max Elixir, and Registeel. This will eventually build up an entire onslaught of attackers that can handle most decks, or out-bulk them in terms of HP. I mean, check out that newly released promo Celesteela-GX -- that thing sure can pack a punch, and take a hit with 200HP!

Celesteela also adds a unique dimension to the deck by resisting Fighting-type; this'll aid you in facing off against Fighting-type Pokémon such as Buzzwole-GX, and Lycanroc-GX. This little fraction of the deck helps so much, especially since our main attacker Silvally is weak to Fighting! Also, Celesteela's retreat cost is insanely high at 4(C), but never fear -- Silvally's Gyro Unit allows for a smooth transition, and free retreat for all basic Pokemon! Not only does this give a great mobility to an otherwise heavy deck, but it also means you can almost always guarantee an easy turn two attack from Silvally. All of these Metal-type attackers should destroy Fairy-decks like Gardevoir, while also supplying bulk against random archetypes. Will facing off against Volcanion, it's often hard for them to OHKO a 210HP Pokémon (let alone a high HP basic like Type:Null), so you can trade relatively even against them.

In Zak's finals match against Tord, he unfortunately lost due to the nimbleness of Tord's Acerolas and his inability to consistently OHKO Tord's Zoroark-GXs. Zak did have an ace up his sleeve in the form of Fighting Memory - he was able to pull off a few OHKOs which caught Tord off guard. This is a deck that will benefit with the new release of "Memory" cards, and I can't wait to see what it evolves into. As for Psychic Memory, Zak didn't feel the need for it because anything tat was Psychic weak currently has a weak Silvally matchup, or is already OHKO'd by Silvally (looking at you, Garbodor)!

Question #2: "Why didn't Gardevoir-GX triumph like it usually does?"

Well readers, it did -- American player Christopher Schemanske ultimately made the semifinals with his unique take on what was rumored to be the "broken deck". Courtesy of Seena G., here is Chris' rendition of Gardevoir:

A very crafty list; I personally enjoyed his Ralts/Kirlia spit very much so. Directly taken from his Facebook, his reasoning for the split is as stands:

"1 Psychic Ralts because Metal decks, but didn't want to scoop to Espeon-GX by playing 3. Might've done 2/2 in hindsight but eh. 1 Fairy Kirlia for the Espeon-GX thing; otherwise I prefer Psychic because it can actually do something to Espeon EX. 2 Gallade was great. Wouldn't change a card if I did it again."

Very well thought out! The second Gallade surely aided Christopher against all of the Zoroark-GX decks flowing throughout London this weekend, as well as any random Silvally decks that would be running around. It also must've given Chris some insane consistency boosts alongside his 1-1 line of Octillery. What I enjoyed the most though was the inclusion of four copies of Max Potion -- this is what coins the deck to become "broken". Chris deemed his tournament run as "smooth, but one of the most grindy decks I've played".

What he's referring to is how much this deck actually has to do to win a single game of Pokémon. Usually, traditional Gardevoir games are ended with Gardevoir nuking opposing Pokemon by attacking them for an overload of damage. While this is acceptable (and efficient), Gardevoir becomes a liability the more that energy are attached to it -- this parallels the "eggs in one basket" principle. Max Potion entirely changes this deck's casual maneuvers by applying a new dimension to the deck -- a consistent two-shotting fiesta. The game plan is to use a low, maintainable amount of energy on Gardevoir, Max Potion off your Gardevoir once it becomes damaged, and then rinse and repeat. Once you're on your last Max Potion, use Twilight GX to shuffle back in all of your Max Potions, as well as any other useful tools you'll need to win the game. Then, proceed to draw back into those cards with Octillery!M y all-time favourite card in this deck is a boring one to say the least -- I really like Chris' inclusion of a second Super Rod to most stapleton lists. This'll aid you when you Twilight so you don't have to shuffle in Fairy Energy; instead, you can just shuffle in a Super Rod or two, to get back a total of three Fairy Energy (or potentially any Pokémon you're missing).

Overall, this is a very good deck that has the same premise as Tord's deck, with the ability to heal a whole bunch and then take the game in the end. I'm very surprised Chris wasn't the eventual winner of the whole tournament, but many inconsistencies can occur when you run a Stage 2 deck such a Gardevoir. The lack of Sylveon most likely hurts the consistency as well, but this is a deck that can bounce back when it's down a couple of Prize Cards. To say the least: the deck is resilient. Without Sylveon, this deck alse has a much weaker Metagross matchup, however Christopher timed this deck immaculately in order to combat the expected metagame, not the entire metagame. Kudos for taking a rumor to extreme heights alongside your younger brother, Chris!

Question #3: "Where was Greninja in the end?"

Greninja, Greninja, Greninja! Always seeming to be somebody's favourite deck, and whether that's Mike Slutsky or somebody else, this time around it's Michael Long who truly loves these ninja-amphibian hybrids. Greninja was put into a very weird spot this weekend, and Michael proved his worth by rowing past many Decidueye and Golisopod decks. Whether he beat them or intelligently dodged them, Michael knew what to do to get where he needed to be. His decklist was near identical to his previous list at Hartford, except this time around he excluded Espeon-EX. This is surprising for me, because this would've been excellent to combat against evolution decks such as Silvally, Gardevoir, Zoroark, and Golisopod! Below is a copy of Mike Long's Greninja list:

Mike omitted the Espeon in favour of a third Field Blower, which is a nifty inclusion - I'm certain that this must've boosted his Garbodor matchup due to his ability to remove Po Town from play as well as any Tools on Garbodor. Golisopod was running rampant at this event as well as Decidueye, due to the inclusion of Zoroark in both decks, which is why I said earlier I'm quit surprised Mike did as well as he did! But then again, when you have a single prize attacker and there's six of them that you have to take down, things can get tricky for the opponent really quickly. Mike was ultimately taken out by the eventual champion, Tord Reklev, in the semifinals. Funny enough, in Tord's Top 8 game, he played against a Volcanion deck -- if Tord had lost his Top 8 match, Mike would've most likely went on to win the entire tournament due to his massive advantageous matchup looking forward against Eemeli. The timing of specific players winning in their brackets is key, because it can heavily impact who will win the entire tournament!

I heavily credit Mike's high win percentage towards his Enhanced Hammers -- most decks that he played against at the event surely played Special Energy, which Mike was able to remove handily. This not only aided him in controlling the tempo of most games, but also helped get rid of key attackers during the most vulnerable stage of his game: the setup phase! While getting off Water Duplicates with Frogardier, it's important to deny as many Prize Cards as possible in order to prolong the game. Besides that, there isn't much to credit Mike for here because I've already mentioned it before in previous articles! Solid, experienced Greninja player = solid win/loss ratio!

As for other players, Mike was the only Greninja player to make Top 32 in the Master's division. The other ones were most likely weeded out by Grass-type decks, consistency issues, or minor misplays that added up throughout the course of the game. Just because Mike has been doing well with Greninja doesn't necessarily mean the deck is for everybody.

Question #4: "Where was Volcanion? Didn't Igor win Hartford Regionals with that deck?"

Hmmmm... maybe the flames flickered out? Just kidding. Eemeli Reijonen, a new name for myself to say, managed to take his Volcanion hybrid all the way to the Top 8! Once again, only losing to the eventual winner, Tord Reklev (the guy is pretty darn good to have taken out both Eemeli and Mike). Volcanion seemed to have a bit of a fizzle-out, with Eemeli being the only Volcanion to make Top 32 (and eventually Top 8). The reason for this is largely creditted towards the high amount of Gradevoir seeing play - it seems that Volcanion can't stand up to Gardevoir in larger numbers, so it must've just died out in the early rounds of the event. Here is Eemeli's list below, in all of its glory:

Wow there's a lot to talk about here -- first of all, let's discuss Eemeli's Pokemon line. He went with something that largely differentiated from Igor's initial base list; he opted to instead play a 1-of Ho-Oh-GX, which gives him a different weakness! Eemeli most likely included this to combat anything Water-type. This Ho-Oh was included as a clear cut way to take out a Greninja deck, or just mull through anything that might have come his way! My favourite card that he opted to include was the 1-of Kiawe, and I'll tell you a few reasons why I love this card so much!

For starters, Kiawe is an impeccable way to open up a game, especially since we can't attack as early as turn one. It's a way to thin our deck by retrieving energy out of it, which in the late game can make massive strides alongsides our bench-sitting Oranguru. Kiawe basically combos well with any of our attackers within the deck, and can even power up a Tapu Lele-GX for some massive damage out of nowhere! Never underestimate this card, because alongside Max Elixir and manual attachments, it can kickstart the fire, and keep a steady flow of attackers coming at all times. Also something small but significant to note, take a peak at how many Field Blower that Eemeli opted to run! As opposed to Ryan's list that he played at Hartford, Eemeli valued removing Tools and Stadiums higher, and therefore plays an extra copy of this wonderful card. I personally like that decision, as I feel 1 Field Blower puts you on the riskier side of the coin, and discarding it early on in the game with a Sycamore can sometimes put you behind the 8-ball. Besides these changes, this deck looks relatively similar to what we've seen so far. Lastly, the final topic I'd like to address....

Question #5: "Heatmor..... Raichu?!"

Ah, yes! A shockingly good performance from Sander Wojcik left us with this surprise deck! He caught many players off guard with his ingenuity, and I even had to research what some of the cards did. If I built this deck, it would be a little different however, by negating the Jirachi, as well as potentially buffing the Supporter count. This list isn't perfect in my eyes, but for the stage that this archetype is currently in, this list is groundbreaking! Below is his sample list:

There are a ton of cards in this deck to go over, so let's just skim through this real quickly, shall we? Essentially, the base strategy of this deck is to use Devolution Spray on Raichu repetitively in order to spam paralysis on our opponent. We can then recycle those Devolution Spray via Heatmor's attack, as well as any other card we could potentially want via recycling Puzzles of Time. Seems simple enough? It really is! But there are a couple roadblocks to our success with this deck.....

• Our opponent KO's one of our Pikachu

When our opponent kills one of our Pikachu, we can promptly lose because we won't be able to re-evolve into Raichu that turn. That is, unless we have another Pikachu on our bench! It's always important to keep a pair of Pikachu live.

• We flip tails all game

We play Victini for the purpose of reflipping coins, but besides that we can just succumb to terrible odds sometimes, and miss curcial recycles.

• Our opponent is playing Greninja

Arguably our deck's worst matchup, they can either use Giant Water Shuriken while paralyzed, or they can just evolve out of it. Oh yeah, they can also use Shadow Stitching to shut us down! If we truly wanted to beat Greninja, we could just play a single copy of Pokémon Ranger, and that would surely win us the game. Either that, or we need to trap a non-Greninja Pokemon in the active, like a Tapu Fini-GX or perhaps even a Tapu Lele-GX since most Greninja lists don't play Guzma.

• Guzma

Guzma is our opponent's main way of relieving themselves from the active position. Always expect 3-4 of this card being present!

Besides that, some of the other cards in this deck are quite interesting. For example, the Xurkitree could help against decks that exclusively use Special Energy, or could be used to wall against decks that are all out of Basic Energy (because you milled them into the discard with Team Rocket's Handiwork). Victini makes the deck flow smoother by having synergy with Heatmor, and giving you higher chanches of fulfilling your deck's strategy. The Durant is also pretty nifty, by giving you the ability to mill your opponent before you mill yourself out! He even went as far to cover multiple bases with the deck, including covering his Prize Card weakness with Gladion (this deck is unable to take Prize Cards most games), he covered his Guzma niche by including Counter Catcher (since Sander will most likely be behind most games), and he also included four Field Blower to negate any Garbotoxin threats that could arise (Garbotoxin would shut down Raichu's ability). Ninja Boy was included so that Sander could safely play down a Tapu Lele, and return it to the deck afterwards so that his opponent couldn't take an easy two Prize Cards with a single Guzma -- he wanted to prolong the game for as long as need be. This is a taxing deck, but I thoroughly enjoyed it for what Sander did with it. Watching him play this on stream was an absolute pleasure, and who knows, maybe I'll even do an in-depth article about it?

A Semester Abroad

I love London, as much as I love Heatmor/Raichu (and I love that concept a lot, just saying)! I've learned many things by sitting out of a tournament, and just by watching the stream aptly I learned a ton of things about myself as a player, as well as by watching others play their heart out. With the second International Championships being announced in Sydney, Australia, I'm unsure if I can take on another Asia-Pacific flight (21 hour fly-time from Toronto is brutal), but on the odd occasion that I cave in and indulge in my more adventurous side, I'll be more prepared and hopefully register on time. As for how that will go, that's going to be another story! The idea of travelling from continent to continent is one that my brother and I have played around with for a long time, and now that Pokemon has made it a reality, I'm glad it's a wish I can truly fulfill. Until next time readers, have yourselves an amazing November.


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