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Marc Lutz

Are you ready for Worlds?

Marc Lutz summarizes all the decks you need to look out for in Boston and shares his personal favorites going into the big weekend.

08/10/2015 by Marc Lutz

Hello again, dear readers! Worlds is approaching quickly and I honestly can’t wait for the big weekend to come! I’ve been playing a lot of Pokémon in the past few weeks and am now here to share with you the insight I managed to gain. This article will basically be a summary of all the potential decks you need to look out for when preparing for Worlds, of course including my opinions on all of those, along with a bunch of decklists. Without wasting any more time, let’s get to it!

I’ve devided the decks into five categories to keep things organized.

 

1. "So apparently Metal Links is very good" - Bronzong variants

1.1 Straight Metal

Why not start off with the deck that not only won Canadian Nationals, but also made quite the big splash at U.S. Nationals, finishing 4th and 11th: Bronzong in combination with a lot of different Basic hitters. A lot of this deck’s strength lies in the flexibility provided by its very diverse lineup of attackers (and of course, in the fact that attaching Energy from the discard pile is stupidly good). It can adapt to many different situations while remaining a very consistent deck, which is quite unique, honestly.

However, I believe that the deck is not as well-positioned in the metagame as it once was. The primary reason for this is the rise of Manectric and Kyogre (Spoiler: These also are among my favorites at the moment!), as well as the fact that people now are overly aware of this deck’s strength. Garbodor's increase in popularity is also quite the nuisance.

None of the Pokémon in this deck are effective against those big Megas that are constantly healing themselves with the help of Rough Seas and Max Potion or Pokemon Center Lady. Particularly Aegislash, widely regarded as the strongest tool this deck has to offer, is of very little help because of their lack of reliance on Special Energy.

Dialga is kind of useful against Kyogre because it can OHKO Keldeos with Full Metal Impact and then lock Kyogre out of attacking with Chrono Wind, but that's neither easy to pull off nor is it enough to really swing the matchup in your favor.

Don't get me wrong, this is definitely not an autoloss; if you run hot and hit a few key Lysandre to score 2HKOs on Kyogre while your opponent doesn't draw everything they need, it can very well be your game. Dialga, Heatran, and Mewtwo are your strongest attackers here. You definitely do not want to face multiple Kyogre throughout the day, though.

Manectric is probably an even tougher matchup. Not only does is resist most of your attackers and have free Retreat, rendering Chrono Wind useless, but it’s also known for abusing Max Potions, which will destroy all your hopes of ever 2HKOing a Mega Manectric.

I’ve tried variations of this deck that put a greater emphasis on Dialga and Mewtwo in an attempt to make those matchups more playable, even going as far as including super speedy engines aiming to get really big X Balls going as quickly as possible, but I realized that by doing, so I’m sacrificing a lot if this deck's initial strength. At that point, I might as well just play one of the other two Bronzong variants.

If Rough Seas ends up not having a big showing at Worlds, this deck would be a very strong call. One thing I really like about it is its presumed ability to stand up to a lot of rogue decks that might pop up. Something like Hippowdon can cause a lot of trouble for a bunch of decks, but doesn’t stand a chance against Heatran (plus Muscle Band if they are running Hard Charms). Other crazy decks will probably also be very ineffective against some of the many options this deck has.

1.2 Klinklang

Good old Plasma Klinklang caught a lot of players at U.S. Nationals by surprise, making a big comeback after not being seen in competitive decks for almost two year! Dylan Bryan managed to claim the First Seed spot after fifteen rounds with it, but then unfortunately had to face arguably his worst matchup, causing him to lose in Top 8.

Now with Seismitoad/Garbodor, a very bad matchup for Klinklang, winning U.S. Nationals, and the secret of Plasma Steel being revealed, is this still a viable play? In my opinion, yes it is.

There’s still a very high number of good decks that fold to a single Klinklang, namely Rayquaza, Kyogre, Seismitoad/Crobat (with or without Manectric), Groudon, and Mega Manectric. Other Metal Decks, even those featuring two Heatran and a Cobalion-EX, struggle a lot with it too.

Garbodor is a problem, but outside of Seismitoad/Garbodor, it's a problem that you can deal with quite well. When you don’t have to worry about Crushing Hammers discarding your Energy and Quaking Punch blocking your VS Seekers, it’s not too hard to land two Lysandre and get rid of both Garbodor, which should be enough to win the game.

I really like Dylan’s list and believe it’s close to perfect, but it lacks any way to deal with Seismitoad/Garbodor, which was fine at U.S. Nationals, but obviously has to change for Worlds. I don’t think that there is a very good answer for that matchup, but adding in one (I'd probably, in turn, remove the third Aegislash-EX) or even two Cobalion-EX will certainly help and might be enough to occasionally sneak away with a win. A Xerosic can also be a big help because it will give you at least one turn of Metal Links that can be used to power up Aegislash or Cobalion, both of which can take out a Garbodor for three Energy.

In the end, Klinklang’s viability will depend on the amount of Seismitoad/Garbodor you’ll see, as well as on how many people are willing to take an autoloss to it. Klinklang and Hippowdon topping at U.S. Nationals might cause people to lean more towards non-EX builds, but they might also choose to put more of an emphasis on other matchups, expecting people to shy away from these EX-hate decks now.

This will definitely be a risky play, but one that can really pay off if the Worlds metagame shapes in a certain way (or if you get lucky with your pairings).

1.3 Rayquaza

Metal Rayquaza is undoubtedly one of the most powerful decks we have at the moment. Combining the strength of Bronzong and the diverse range of Metal attackers with Mega Rayquaza’s incredible damage output can only lead to a winning combination.

Some people prefer a very Rayquaza-based version, including support from Altaria ROS to get rid of its Weakness, while other people put more of an emphasis on the Metal part of the deck, running up to two each of Aegislash-EX and Heatran, in addition to the one Cobalion-EX that every list should have. I personally like the first one a little more, even though only the latter one managed to finish in the Top 8 of U.S. Nationals.

The reason for this is that Aegislash is not as well positioned in the metagame as it once was.  Looking at all the popular decks, there’s really not many against which I would not want to focus on strictly Rayquaza. Aegislash is still a very nice additional threat for your opponent, but it should in no way be a focus of the deck anymore.

Heatran is a very debatable inclusion. Being able to pick off Shaymin or other low-HP Pokémon with a non-EX is nice, but I rarely ever felt the need for that in testing. In most cases, it seemed like Heatran would only be really useful if it had a Muscle Band, which is unneeded otherwise and would most likely be a waste of space in the long run. I would definitely run a Kecleon, though, which is not only fantastic in the mirror match, but can also do Heatran’s job against opposing Heatran and Raichu.

Metal Rayquaza has good matchups against Seismitoad variants, both Primals, and a lot of other decks, but shaky matchups against some other decks make it a not-so-safe play for Worlds, in my opinion. It literally cannot beat Klinklang aside from the opponent dead-drawing and has a really hard time against Manectric decks. Altaria does help, but the Manectric player is most likely running either Garbodor or Ninetales, which either shuts of your Abilities or your Sky Fields, both of which are very crucial for this deck’s success. The best way to approach the Manectric matchup is getting a consistent stream of Mega Rayquazas set up and hoping the opponent can’t do the same with their Manectric.

Night March and Raichu/Crobat aren’t easy matchups either, but Altaria and Aegislash make them at least manageable.

Nevertheless, this is probably my favorite Bronzong variant at the moment. I fully expect it to play a big role at Worlds, but honestly, I don’t think it will win it all in the end.

2. "So apparantly Quaking Puch is also still very good" - Seismitoad variants

2.1 Seismitoad/Mewtwo/Crobat

Seismitoad is still going strong and this was probably its most popular variant at U.S. Nationals and at other tournaments in this format. However, I believe it has seen brighter days.

The metagame has shifted to a point where if you play this deck, there are very few decks you’d actually like to face (Night March and possibly Raichu…well, that’s it basically), but a lot of decks you’d rather avoid (Manectric, Kyogre, ALL Metal variants, and even Virizion/Genesect).

It’s still a strong deck, but the decks that I expect to see a lot at Worlds are rather good at exploiting its weak points and don’t get too intimidated by its strengths, so I’d be surprised if it actually ended up doing very well. Completely counting the deck out would be stupid though.

A trend in recent decklists has been cutting down the Crobat line to 4-3-2 and running a whopping total of four Stadiums (in most cases, two Virbank and two Silent Lab), which I totally agree with. A full Crobat line has always felt clunky for me and the extra damage provided by three Golbat and two Crobat is absolutely enough, especially with AZ and Super Scoop Up to reuse them. Stadium wars are crucial in today’s metagame and Silent Lab is very important for having a shot at defeating Metal variants, so that is also a very understandable decision.

2.2 Seismitoad/Manectric/Crobat

This variant of Seismitoad/Crobat featuring Manectric-EX and Rock Guard, which Kristy Britton piloted to a Top 8 finish at U.S. Nationals, is in my opinion, better positioned than the classic one with Mewtwo and Water Energy.

Manectric is really good against Metal and Metal Rayquaza, two tough matchups. Rough Seas variants are also a little easier to deal with because of the higher damage output that Manectric and Rock Guard can provide.

However, the two decks still share a lot of the same problems. Even though the Rough Seas matchup might be a bit more feasible, it’s still bad. Klinklang is very hard to beat. Other Metal variants are 50/50 at best.

That being said, Quaking Punch is still amazing and can never be underestimated. I don’t think the deck will win Worlds, but it’s certainly not the worst play.

2.3 Seismitoad/Garbodor

If you read my pre-U.S. Nationals article, you’ll know that I think this deck is pretty good, and Jason winning the tournament with it certainly didn’t change my mind about that. Garbotoxin and Crushing Hammer help this deck a lot in the current metagame and make it, in my opinion, the best-positioned Seismitoad variant.

The most important argument Garbodor has going for it is the Klinklang matchup. While Crobat variants need to rely on the opponent not getting set up, this one doesn’t care about Plasma Steel at all. The Rayquaza matchup is also a lot easier when you’re able to block Metal Links and get rid of the manually-attached Energy. Last but not least, not having to worry about Keldeo and being able to mess with Kyogre's Energy attachments thanks to Crushing Hammer, Team Flare Grunt, and Head Ringer is a huge plus too.

However, no deck is perfect, even the U.S. Nationals-winning one. Mega Manectric is an abysmal matchup for Seismitoad/Garbodor. You really do not want to have a bad matchup against what is shaping up to be one of the most popular decks at Worlds. All the other matchups are in 50/50 territory or better, but a lot of them will frequently come down to Crushing Hammer flips (a single flip can be the difference between getting swept by a single Rayquaza and never even getting damaged), which make this the opposite of a safe play. In addition, this deck is on everyone’s mind after winning on the big stage, so it’s unlikely many people will be completely unprepared like they might have been at Nationals.

 

3. "Non-EX Pokémon that deal a lot of damage for a DCE… yeah seems good too."

3.1 Raichu/Crobat

This is a deck that received a lot of hype following Canadian Nationals, but it didn’t quite live up to the expectations at U.S. Nationals. I think this was mostly caused by people simply choosing to not run the deck in fear of people countering it a lot, as it’s still a very decent deck with a wide array of good and balanced matchups.

Another reason for its poor U.S. Nationals performance is probably Manectric's popularity. It’s not a huge problem on its own, but paired with either Ninetales or Garbodor, it becomes a nightmare of a matchup. Unfortunately, the outlook for Worlds isn’t very bright in this regard for Raichu.

Kyogre is also rather hard to deal with, primarily due to Rough Seas. Because of this and the problems the deck has with Manectric, I decided to try a variant with a 2-2 Ninetales line. If you can lock out Rough Sea and get your Sky Field to stick, those matchups turn into a walk in the park. Ninetales obviously doesn’t work against Manectric/Garbodor, which is Raichu’s inevitably worst matchup, but it does help against some other decks like Seismitoad/Crobat.

I really like the Hawlucha that’s featured in a lot of Raichu decks these days. It helps against Aegislash and provides a cheap, quick hitter to soften up a Seismitoad. I don’t think running a lot of them is warranted, though; one or, at most, two will get the job done fine.

I already mentioned the very weak Manectric/Garbodor matchup, but other than that, there’s not much this deck really struggles against. Night March and Groudon are by far the easiest matchups while Metal variants are the tougher matchups. Seismitoad can be a little annoying to face, but you ultimately don’t fear it too much.

This deck might be the right pick for those of you who want to have a chance in as many matchups as possible, and I myself like it quite a bit too, but Manectric is still scaring me away from it at the moment.

3.2 Night March

Night March underperformed at U.S. Nationals in the same way that Raichu did, but things are looking up for it with Crobat being pushed to the side by Rough Seas and Bronzong.

In my opinion, Night March has even-to-good matchups against all three Metal variants, as already stated in my previous article. Aegislash folds to Mew and if there’s a Klinklang on the field, Joltik can take care of that. Empoleon is also a very solid attacker against all kinds of Metal decks. Rayquaza decks without Altaria are probably the easiest of the three matchups, but even with Altaria, you can still Lysandre some Shaymin and then do the full 220 damage to Rayquaza in the mid or lategame. Speaking of picking off Shaymin, this is actually a very important part of Night March in many matchups, which is why I’d never run fewer than two Lysandre, and even think about adding a third copy.

Manectric and both Primals are also among Night March’s better matchups; some variants can cause some trouble, but you should always be no less than 50/50 against all three.

The Seismitoad/Garbodor matchup is kind of awkward. You either hit a very good turn one with eight or nine Night Marchers in the discard, draw some DCEs, and win comfortably, or you just don’t draw all the necessary stuff and lose.

We all know that Crobat is this deck's worst enemy, and with Seismitoad/Crobat and Raichu/Crobat still very alive, this will be a risky, but possibly rewarding choice.

4. Healing their way to victory - Rough Seas decks

4.1 Manectric/Garbodor

Manectric saw a lot of play at U.S. Nationals, which is a little surprising considering the amount of hype Landorus/Crobat got, but its superb matchups against both Metal and Seismitoad variants are a very good explanation for this.

The most popular variant was Manectric/Ninetales/Suicune, which uses Ninetales to lock Rayquaza and Raichu out of using Sky Field, and Suicune to stand a chance against Landorus. The most successful variant, however, was Grant Manley’s Manectric/Garbodor, finishing in the Top 4.

I personally believe that Garbodor is the superior partner for Manectric. Garbodor and Ninetales fulfill very similar purposes; however, Garbodor gives Manectric a game against Klinklang, whereas versions without literally autolose to that. Ninetales can be countered by the opponent’s Ninetales; Garbodor can’t. Stopping Metal Links and Clear Humming certainly isn’t worse than stopping Sky Fields. Getting rid of Mew's Ability is better than just getting rid of Dimension Valley. Stopping Keldeo can also be very important. Overall, I simply wouldn’t bother with any Manectric version that doesn’t include Garbodor.

I like Grant’s list and think it was a very good build for the U.S. Nationals Metagame, but the Acro Bike/Trainers' Mail Engine leaves the deck much more vulnerable to Seismitoad that it should be. He probably wanted to increase the chances of getting out Empoleon, but with Landorus/Crobat being kept in check by Kyogre, Seismitoad, and Klinklang, I don’t feel like Empoleon is needed anymore. It doesn’t even improve the matchup all that much.  A good Landorus player will probably beat you anyway, so why not concentrate on beating other, more important decks?

Let me present to you the list I’ve been playing around with recently.

The first thing you’ll notice is probably the very thick Garbodor line. The first reason for this is that you want to get out Garbodor as soon as possible, and running more of him helps achieve that. The more important reason is that this improves your Klinklang matchup by lot, since the opponent will have to get rid of three Garbodor instead of two in order to lock you out of the game.

The choice of which secondary attacker to run is a very difficult one and I can also see the deck doing well without any. At the moment, though, I’ve decided to go with a single Terrakion, a card that helps in the mirror matchup (which I predict to be very important!) by enabling you to OHKO the non-Mega Manectric. Having a non-EX that can dish out solid damage can also be helpful in other matchups.
Another card that is very important in the mirror match is Max Potion. At the moment, I’m pretty content with three copies, but I can even see myself going up to four, especially in a variant without Terrakion.

This deck is absolutely amazing against Bronzong, Seismitoad, and Raichu decks, while also having a very decent Night March matchup, which makes it one of my top contenders for Worlds. It does have two problems, though: Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon. The Groudon matchup seems to be hopeless, but I think Kyogre might be conquerable with the right support from some Grass Pokemon.

The problem in that matchup is that, at best, Manectric 3HKO's Kyogre (that is, if it doesn’t have a Float Stone attached to escape and heal on the Bench, or a Hard Charm to reduce damage), while Kyogre will always score a 2HKO. Max Potions do help to the trade a little more fair, but they don’t ease the struggle of actually scoring some Knock Outs ourselves. You need a Pokémon that can knock Kyogre out after it has been hit by the first Turbo Bolt. It also should not go down to the next Tidal Storm, but rather be able to land a second hit so that Manectric can finish off the job off Knocking Out the second Kyogre.

I decided Trevenant-EX might be able to do just that, but it needs support from Hard Charm to be able to take a hit from Kyogre.  Otherwise, it will likely already have 30 on it at the point of attacking and go down instantly. Hard Charm can also be surprisingly useful in other matchups by further increasing Manectric's already immense tanking potential. The Pokémon Center Lady is yet another means to help Manectric live longer, which is particularly great in the mirror match.

4.2 Kyogre

Easily my favorite deck to play at the moment! Omar Reyhan and Michael Lesky both finished in the Top 16 of U.S. Nationals with very similar lists, and man, do I love their card choices!

The only card I changed from Omar's 10th Place list was replacing the second Professor’s Letter with a second Lysandre (ending up with basically Michael’s list, the only difference being the choice between fourth N and second Colress), but other than that, I believe it’s close to perfect. Actually, the only change I’m debating at the moment is cutting the Absol. It’s a really strong card in theory, but in most games it ends up either completely useless or not accessible at the right time. It did, at times, do some really nice things for me, though, such as winning games against Night March by taking extra prizes on Joltik (a play that wouldn’t be possible if the opponent put down Mr. Mime), so I’m still a little hesitant to remove it from the deck.

The Hard Charms in their list are absolutely great, even outside of the Rayquaza matchup, especially in combination with the single Pokémon Center Lady. That card wins so many games and I love it. All the counts just seem to be where they should be.  Great job guys!

This decks’s matchups are mostly very good: it beats normal Metal decks, Seismitoad variants, and Manectric decks with ease, it is rather good against Raichu and does okay against Night March.

This deck’s biggest downfall, however, is the near-autoloss to Klinklang, which unfortunately seems unfixable. Rayquaza is a difficult matchup too, but not nearly as one-sided and is actually quite manageable.

I definitely would not be surprised to see Kyogre do well at worlds.

5. The Underdogs…possible sleeper picks?

The following two decks have a lot of extremely good matchups, but also some really bad ones, making them risky but potentially strong choices.

5.1 Virizion/Genesect

Jose Marrero has already written a whole article about this deck, so I’m not going to spend too much time writing about it, but let me make this clear: I believe that V/G does have the potential to take a back-to-back title.

The deck has a very unique set of matchups, beating Seismitoad variants, both Primals, and the EX-hate decks Klinklang and Hippowdon. I also believe that the Manectric matchup is very winnable if you include the cards to beat it (Deoxys-EX and ways to get rid of Garbodor), which you definitely should be doing. It does have abysmal matchups against Rayquaza, Night March, and Raichu, but you can either dodge enough of those, maybe sneak away with a lucky win, or just take like one or two losses against those and win against all the other decks. This is, of course, not a perfect choice, but it does definitely have potential again.

winning tournaments since '13

5.2 Groudon

Groudon slaughters Manectric, has good matchups against Seismitoad and Kyogre, and doesn’t do too bad against Metal, which makes it an overall solid choice. However, Night March and Raichu give it a very hard time while Klinklang (and Hippowdon) are fatal autolosses, so this deck has its very rough downsides too.
I kind of like Kevin Baxter’s version featuring Hawlucha and Landorus-EX (he has written about it here on 60cards in his Nationals report, so go check it out). It seems to have a much better matchup against Raichu compared to the Wobbuffet version, but I don’t think that will be enough to get me to play Groudon at Worlds. 

6. Summary

The Worlds metagame will be very diverse this year, resulting in every deck having at least one very bad matchup. I actually think that there is no such thing as a “safe play” this time! However, some decks are a little more risky than others. My favorites at the moment are Manectric and Kyogre, but that might, of course still change.

I really hope you liked this article; if you did, don’t forget to give it a like.
See you all at Worlds! Until then, have a good time!

- Marc Lutz

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