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Marc Lutz

Are you ready for the ECC?

Marc Lutz gives you an insight on what decks will be popular at the upcoming European Challenge Cup

02/18/2016 by Marc Lutz

Hey guys, it's your former ECC champion Marc Lutz again. Like last year I'll be reviewing the most relevant decks in the current standard format for the upcoming European Challenge Cup. With so many decks actually being viable this format I think this will be a great chance for you if you're either still looking for a deck to play or if you have already decided on that to play.

As most of you guys most likely already know how these decks work I will not go in depth on the strategy, but rather focus on why I think the deck is good and also a short explanation of how the deck works in general. At the end I will also give you my opinion on which deck I think is actually the best choice so don't miss out on that. Without any further ado let's get right into the article!

1. Manectric-EX/Crobat

The first deck on the list is actually one of my favorites to go into this tournament. Manectric-EX/Crobat looks fairly simple as there aren't too many different attackers, but it is actually really difficult to play if you want to max out its potential. This deck has several options to win due to both of Manectric-EX's attacks being quite powerful and the addition of a fat Crobat line. If your opponent's deck relies on bigger-EX's like Giratina-EX you can simply go for the Assault Laser OHKO. On paper the attack only does 120 damage, but you have so much additional damage from your hand with multiple Golbat, Crobat and even Muscle Band so that the 170/180 damage mark can easily be reached.

      

What's really cool about this deck is that Manectric-EX's Overrun attack which is usually not that impactful really synergizes well with both Golbat and Crobat. Against decks which also rely on non-EX attackers like Vileplume variants, Vespiquen decks or some weird Octillery decks you can easily target down their low HP basics for cheap Prizes. You also have Head Ringers in this deck which are used to make sure your opponent has a Pokémon tool attached so Assault Laser does the guaranteed 120 damage. It's also nice to have them to have some disruption theme going on. For example you can attach them to Seismitoad-EX on turn one so that it is more difficult for them to get the turn one Quacking Punch as they would need something like a Switch or Super Scoop Up.

The fact that this deck doesn't run the Mega Manectric-EX is also quite important because it not only improves the consistency in general because you don't have to rely on cards like Manectric Spirit Link, but it also improves the matchup against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX a lot which is great. Also you don't run any special Energy so you're safe against the most crucial tech against Double Rainbow Energy decks – Jirachi. Usually if you play a deck with only special Energy cards you have a really bad time against that Jirachi or even Enhanced Hammer, however since we only have a couple of basic lightning Energy here we're good against that.

Manectric-EX/Crobat also has a really good type coverage if you think about it. Manectric-EX is weak to fighting types so if you happen to run into some Lucario-EX or Marowak deck you can try some fancy Crobat plus Assault Vest stalling tactics against them. Also Manectric-EX's lightning type is great against a lot of potential decks in the standard format such as Mega Rayquaza-EX or Yveltal-EX variants.

The last thing I'd like to mention here is that this deck is really good against Night March decks. With such a heavy Crobat line you can easily knock out some Joltik without even attacking and also Overrun can be used to get some double knock outs if you can manipulate the damage. Don't hesitate to put some damage counters on Shaymin-EX in this matchup. It's a big advantage if you can get a knockout on Shaymin-EX with just an Ability and even if they use Sky Return to get it off the field it's still good because they basically wasted a turn and you can just knock out something else with Assault Laser.

Overall I think this deck is a fantastic choice for the European Challenge Cup. It is really consistent which is very important if you're going into a tournament with 10+ rounds. Bad openings usually lose you more games than just a bad matchup, because I think chances are higher that you win a bad matchup than recovering from awful early game in this format. Similar to one of my all-time favorites – Virizion-EX/Genesect-EX this deck is fairly straightforward, but still requires some amount of thought input to be played well.

2. Night March

Next up on the list we have Night March. Night March has been an established deck ever since its release in Phantom Forces. The general strategy behind this deck is relatively simple, you try to get as many Night March Pokémon (Joltik, Lampent & Pumpkaboo) into the discard pile as possible so you can OHKO anything. To achieve this you run full playsets of consistency tools like Trainer's Mail, Battle Compressor and sometimes even four Shaymin-EX.

 

Recently players also included a few copies of Milotic to get back key pieces like Double Colorless Energy or even a Night March attacker if necessary. Other than that there's not much room for additional tech cards except for certain supporters. Since this deck has a really bad time against decks that use Crobat you want to have at least some kind of answer to that. Hex Maniac is an excellent choice as it not only prevents your opponent from using Golbat and Crobat, but it is also not completely dead against anything else because it shuts down Shaymin-EX or other things like Bronzong as well and it can be used multiple times with VS Seeker.

If you want to have a better matchup against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX you can also tech in a copy of Enhanced Hammer and/or Xerosic to slow them down a bit. Xerosic can also be used against Pokémon tool cards sometimes which can come in handy against Entei decks if they get both Assault Vests attached to their Entei. Still this can backfire a lot as it hurts the deck's overall consistency.

This deck is really good at dealing with decks that rely on big Pokémon-EX like the Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong deck which has become quite popular lately. Usually you should be able to OHKO their guys on the first turn you're attacking even if they have like 180HP. The problem with this deck is that it struggles a bit against decks with multiple non-EX attackers like Yveltal/Gallade/Zoroark, Vespiquen variants and especially Crobat decks because they can pick up Prizes without even attacking. Also Jirachi seems to be kind of a problem because this deck heavily relies on the use of Double Colorless Energy.

 


Keep in mind that most of the time if you're playing this deck you want your opponent to go first so you can attack immediately on your first turn and get a lead in the Prize race which this deck is all about. Despite the fact that pretty much everyone and their grandmother knows about this deck and there are a lot of counters out there I still think it is a very solid choice for the ECC due to its impressive damage output possible in a single turn. You might even be able to sneak in some wins against Crobat decks if you can outpace them in the early game.

3. Yveltal/Zoroark/Gallade

Now we have a deck which has been on the map since the release of both Gallade and Zoroark in XY BREAKthrough. Yveltal decks have been around ever since its release. Even after the rotation of Dark Patch, Yveltal still made some appearances in standard whether it was played with Seismitoad-EX, Mega Mewtwo-EX or some Crobat variants. However the Gallade and Zoroark made some new concept possible and it is quite good actually.

 

Gallade can somewhat easily be put into play with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. You just play a lot of fast item cards like Acro Bike and Battle Compressor to get out your Gallade as fast as possible. Besides being a non-EX attacker which is nice against Night March and Tyrantrum-EX decks, Gallade fills two different roles in this deck. The first one is adding some more consistency to the deck. With its Ability you can rearrange the top 5 cards of your deck every turn which can come in handy if you're going to play like an Acro Bike or Shaymin-EX for less than three cards. However that's not the main reason why you play this card. Gallade's attack Sensitive Blade is actually really impressive. For just a Double Colorless Energy it does up to 130 damage if you have played a supporter card this turn. It's great in combination with Lysandre or simply during the turn you put it into play with Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick. 130 damage is enough to OHKO almost any non-EX attacker currently in the game, except for Entei if it has the necessary tools attached. Even if they have 130 HP and fighting resistance like Yveltal and Crobat you can simply attach a Muscle Band to also get the knock out on those. You can also use Lysandre on Shaymin-EX and get a quick two Prizes from that.

 

 

The other non-EX attacker in this deck besides Yveltal is Zoroark. Zoroark is a very flexible card in this deck. Being a stage one makes it a little bit slower than the rest of this deck, however both its Ability and attack surely make up for that. Stand In is basically the same Ability we had on the old Keldeo-EX. If Zoroark is on the Bench you can promote it to the active spot at no cost. This is really good if your opponent is going for some stalling tactics with Lysandre. Also if you can get a Float Stone attached to Zoroark it pretty much lets all of your Pokémon retreat for free which is great. Also Zoroark's Mind Jack attack is really good. Similar to the old Team Plasma Absol it deals additional damage for each of your opponent's Benched Pokémon. Now that we have cards like Sky Field, Crobat and Shaymin-EX in the format it is much more likely that they'll have around four or more Pokémon on their Bench. Also this does an additional 30 for each of your opponent's Benched Pokémon so depending on the situation you can do up to 180 damage with a Muscle Band attached in a regular scenario without Sky Field.

If you want you can also play the Zoroark BREAK which is like a better version of the original Zoroark from Black & White. For a single Energy you get to copy an attack from the opponent's active Pokémon. This can be good against Mega Mewtwo-EX or Jirachi if you can time it right, but it is not necessary. For the basic of Zoroark I recommend you play the Zorua with 60HP because it can't get knocked out by Seismitoad-EX's Quacking Punch attack with a Muscle Band. Also it survives Golbat and Crobat Abilities more often.

Other than those two you also run a split of Yveltal-EX, Yveltal (XY Base) and Yveltal (Breakthrough) in this deck. The regular Yveltal from the XY Base Set is like the core of this deck. Its Oblivion Wing attack not only knocks out Joltik for a single Energy, but it also accelerates your Energy as you don't have access to Dark Patch anymore. It also gives you a nice out against decks that try to ruin your game with Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer.

The other non-EX Yveltal from Breakthrough has very niche uses, but can be good at times. Its attack Pitch-Black-Spear is excellent at sniping Shaymin-EX while setting up some damage on bigger guys. Also its Fright Night Ability is not too bad when you think about it. While it is active all Pokémon tools in play have no effect. So you can use Lysandre to bring up something like a Bronzong or whatever really that has a high retreat cost and lock it in the active spot if they don't have a Switch or Escape Rope because their Float Stone no longer provides free retreat. Keep in mind that they can still use a combination of Hex Maniac and Float Stone to get out of that situation.

 

Last but not least we have the good old Yveltal-EX. Obviously it is much slower without Dark Patch, but Evil Ball still does a good amount of damage against most things, especially Mega Mewtwo-EX. Also Giratina-EX which usually attacks with four Energy will take a huge hit from this guy. Its second attack Y-Cyclone isn't too bad either, you can set up some damage on bigger guys or simply Lysandre out weak basics like Zubat, get a knock out on them and safe your Energy if you return it to one of your Benched Pokémon. I wouldn't run more than two of these though as you don't need that many attackers with all the other Yveltal, Gallade and Zoroark already being in the deck.

This is probably one of the more difficult decks out there to play, but I believe if you're really good at this deck you should be able to get a good score with it. In theory this deck doesn't have a really bad matchup because you have so many different attackers and options each game so that you should always be able to find a way to win. Also you have a ton of high HP non-EX attackers which is great against Night March. You might struggle a little bit against Entei/Charizard-EX if they get a really good start, but it should be manageable.

4. Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong

Next we have the first real 'setup' deck on the list. Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong revolves around getting multiple Bronzong in play which then are used to fuel your attackers in one turn so they can attack immediately. In this case it is Tyrantrum-EX. The big dragon comes with a beefy 180 HP and 190 damage output attack. For two metal, a fighting and a colorless Energy and the top three cards of your deck you get to OHKO almost anything in the game. Add Muscle Band and you reach 210 damage which is even enough to OHKO the most common mega evolutions in the game – Mega Manectric-EX and Mega Mewtwo-EX. Given the fact that Tyrantrum-EX is also a dragon type makes this even better as you can also play Double Dragon Energy in this deck to accelerate the process even further. Not only does Tyrantrum-EX has a great attack, its Ability Despotic Fang is also what makes this card really good. Any damage done by this Pokémon can't be reduced or negated which means it is not lockable by Regice or Jirachi and it also ignores Assault Vest which is really important especially against those Entei decks.

 

Since this deck needs a lot of room on the Bench for multiple Bronzong, Tyrantrum-EX and of course Shaymin-EX you should play Sky Field in this deck, which also allows you to play a full playset of Shaymin-EX which is somewhat necessary because the deck is really clunky otherwise. Other than that you also have some room for tech cards such as Lugia-EX from Ancient Origins, Seismitoad-EX or even a thin Zoroark line to help with the retreat cost in case your Bronzong get stuck in the Active spot.

 

There's not much to say regarding the strategy of this deck, you simply get some Tyrantrum-EX going and start knocking out other Pokémon-EX as fast as possible. Usually you can't really go for a long game because the attack discards the top three cards of your deck every time you use it which is somewhat unusual for a setup deck but it is what it is. That's why this deck really struggles against decks with a lot of non-EX attackers that can deal relatively well with Tyrantrum-EX because you usually can't keep up with that many Pokémon as you'll deck out most of the time. Also Night March is a huge problem because they can easily OHKO your Tyrantrum-EX before you're even finished with your setup.

Most of the time these decks also play some other tech cards. For example Aegislash-EX is really good here as it only requires metal Energy to attack. Its Ability King's Shield also makes it immune against Pokémon with special Energy cards attached which is great against Night March and Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX. Another good card in this deck is Giratina-EX. It attacks with the same Energy as Tyrantrum-EX also attacks and is better against smaller things because you don't need the full 190 damage and you also get to lock out some key cards.

What I'd like to mention here also is that Tyrantrum-EX is not the only Bronzong deck you can consider for the ECC. Kinda fallen out of favor, but there is also the Mega Rayquaza-EX/Bronzong deck which revolves around the same concept. However the Mega Rayquaza deck is a little bit faster as it usually attacks before using the Bronzong with the use of Double Colorless Energy and Mega Turbo, but is has the Bronzong as a backup plan in case you run out of Double Colorless Energies and they also setup another Mega Rayquaza on your Bench while you're attacking with the first one. Other than that it's the same concept, you charge up your attacker and start OHKOing things.

I don't like this deck too much because of its clunkiness. Sometimes you encounter situations where you're stuck with multiple Bronzong in your opening hand and really nothing to do. However if you manage to get a good opening with this deck it is really difficult for your opponent to keep up with Tyrantrum-EX's (or Mega Rayquaza-EX's) damage output. So overall this is definitely not a bad deck as it already has shown some pretty good results in recent tournaments, but I'm just a bigger fan of the more consistent decks.

5. Seismitoad EX/Giratina-EX

This is the “anti” deck of the format. Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX revolves around making your opponent's life as miserable as possible. When you're playing against this deck you're pretty much not allowed to play Pokémon at all. Usually these decks are built fairly simple and straightforward. A good amount of Giratina-EX, Seismitoad-EX and Shaymin-EX make up the main core of the deck. Sometimes people play a few copies of Milotic to get back used items or whatever you need and you will also see Hoopa-EX sometimes as it pretty much searches everything you need with a single Ultra Ball. 

 

Seismitoad-EX is probably one of the most hated cards in the game. For just a Double Colorless Energy you can use its Quacking Punch attack which then prevents your opponent from playing any item cards at all. These days most decks heavily focus around item cards like Trainer's Mail or Battle Compressor to even get in the game, so denying those as soon as turn one or two really impacts their gameplan. The attack only does 30 damage for 50 damage if you have a Muscle Band attached, but if your opponent isn't able to do anything that's more than enough to bring them down. Seismitoad-EX's second attack doesn't matter at all as you're usually not running any Water Energy cards.

 

The second attacker in this deck is Giratina-EX. Giratina-EX puts a lot of value on the table for a single card. Let's start with its Ability Renegade Pulse which makes it immune against mega evolved Pokémon. This only really matters if your opponent plays Mega Manectric-EX or Mega Mewtwo-EX which are pretty much the only playable mega evolutions at the moment. However it's still nice to have that Ability in case you face one of those decks. What really makes this card so strong is its attack though. Chaos Wheel deals 100 damage which is enough to knock out anything within two hits. The Energy cost might seem a little bit weird with grass, psychic and two colorless but it’s really just a Double Dragon Energy and a Double Colorless Energy which is also the reason why this card is playable in the first place. Chaos Wheel not only does a decent amount of damage, but it also prevents your opponent from playing pretty much all the good stuff. Not being able to play special Energy cards is a huge disadvantage in the current format as a lot of decks heavily rely on the use of Double Colorless Energy. It also shuts down Pokémon tools like Float Stone which can result in some interesting locks with Lysandre. Also stadium cards are no longer playable for your opponent so you don't have to run a huge amount of those yourself. Giratina-EX also prevents Head Ringer from being played which is great against Manectric-EX decks in case they couldn't get them into play before you attack with Giratina-EX.

 

As you can see together they're able to shut off pretty much everything in the format. On top of those two attackers this deck also plays a lot of disruptive item and supporter cards such as Xerosic, Team Flare Grunt and a couple of Crushing Hammers and Enhanced Hammers. All those cards have a single goal – prevent your opponent form attacking by discarding all of their Energy and then you attack with Giratina-EX to also prevent them from attaching special Energy cards. The games with this deck are going to take quite some time if your opponent doesn't concede as you can't really rush them down and sometimes you need to go for a ton of Quacking Punch even if it takes a while to knock out a Pokémon, but eventually they'll fall because they cannot do anything.

This deck's biggest enemy is the promo Jirachi. As this deck only runs special Energy cards it's really easy for your opponent to get value out of Jirachi. Also you can't really ignore the Jirachi unless you're far ahead in the Prize race because eventually you'll run out of Double Colorless Energies if your opponent gets to attack with Jirachi enough times. So what you have to do is use Escape Rope and then use Lysandre to get it back in the active spot so you can knock it out with Giratina-EX. This will be a lot easier if you decide to run a Milotic tech as you can either use it to get something like Escape Rope back or just get the Double Colorless Energy back. Keep in mind that this deck still has the item lock which is very strong so if you get something with a huge retreat cost of your opponent in the active spot and then attack with Quacking Punch chances aren't that high that your opponent will be able to attack with Jirachi during that turn. Just prepare for it and you're good I think.

In my opinion this will be the deck to take the ECC as it is just super strong. Seismitoad-EX decks have always been the strongest ones since its release, whether it was Seismitoad-EX/Slurpuff or Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor they have always had impressive results and this version of Seismitoad-EX is probably even better because of Giratina-EX. If you get the lock going and your opponent doesn't have the best opening turns you're probably going to have an easy time winning your games.

6. Entei/Charizard-EX

This deck is either really good or really bad against whatever matchup you're facing. For example this deck heavily relies on special Energy cards and of course Pokémon tools so if you're facing Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX you're gonna have a bad time, however if you're facing something like Manectric-EX/Crobat you should be in pretty good shape since Charizard-EX and Entei with double Muscle Band attached are both able to OHKO Manectric-EX and of course Crobat as well. Also decks that do rely on special Energy are somewhat of a good matchup because you reduce their damage output by 80 with double Assault Vests. Tyrantrum-EX is still a problem because you can't OHKO it even with Charizard-EX and they ignore your Assault Vests because of Tyrantrum-EX's Ability.

 

 

This deck's main attacker is Entei. Entei has a good amount of HP with 130 and the Ability to have two Pokémon tools attached at the same time. You play four copies of each Muscle Band and Assault Vest in this deck so you have the choice of either an additional 40 damage or taking 80 less damage from Pokémon with special Energy attached (or a mix of both). The Assault Vests go really well together with Entei's first attack Flame Screen which reduces the damage taken by another 30 during your opponent's next turn. Double Muscle Band ups the damage of Entei's Heat Tackle attack to 170 which is then enough to OHKO most Pokémon-EX in the game with the exception of Seismitoad-EX.

 

Charizard-EX is in this deck as a secondary attacker. Its Combustion Blast attack paired with a Muscle Band also deals 170 damage out of nowhere to take out something like a Manectric-EX. It is also a very sturdy Pokémon-EX with 180 HP or 220 HP against special Energy with the Assault Vest attached Charizard-EX surely can take some hits and then if you're lucky you can pick it up with Super Scoop Up.

One thing that differs this deck from any other deck in the current format is its lineup of items and supporters which is really interesting. Generally you want to play a Professor Sycamore to get a fresh hand of 7 cards or whatever, however in this deck you want to play Blacksmith nearly every turn. Blacksmith is the heart of the deck, without it this deck would probably not be playable at all. Blacksmith allows you to setup an Entei or a Charizard-EX in one turn. You attach two Fire Energy with it and then a Double Colorless Energy from your hand to attack with your four Energy cost attacks immediately. There's only a single copy of Professor Sycamore in these decks most of the time for that reason. You try to get your card draw with Roller Skates, Acro Bike, Trainers’ Mail, and of course, Shaymin-EX with this deck. A cool combo in this deck is Battle Compressor with VS Seeker. You can use Battle Compressor to discard two Fire Energy and a Blacksmith and then use VS Seeker to get back that Blacksmith and setup an attacker.

Other than that this deck doesn't have much room for other tech cards as you really need full playsets of the draw Item cards and both Muscle Band and Assault Vest. You can try to squeeze in a Jirachi to have a better matchup against Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX, but most of the time it won't do enough to win you that matchup.

Overall I don't think this deck will take a lot of spots for day two as it’s just too weak against both Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX and Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong. Its good matchups are mostly those decks which are played less frequently. However if you're more of a casual player this deck might fit you very well because it’s actually really fun to play!

7. Vespiquen Variants

For this part of the article I'm not going to include a deck list because there are just too many versions of decks featuring this Pokémon, however I'm going through some of those! Vespiquen is one of those Pokémon which can be played with pretty much anything that's not completely unreasonable. The main core of the deck however is a thick line of Vespiquen and four copies of Unown from Ancient Origins. The Unown just fits this kind of deck super well, if it’s on your Bench you can discard it and draw a card, not only does this help you dig deeper through your deck, but it also fuels Vespiquen’s Bee Revenge with Pokémon in your discard pile. So similar to the Night March deck you try to get as many Pokémon in your discard pile as possible and start OHKOing Pokémon, preferably Pokémon-EX. The difference here is that you don't need to have certain Pokémon in your discard pile, with Vespiquen you can discard any of those!

 

Since Vespiquen only requires a Double Colorless Energy to attack you can pair it with a lot of things. You can also play it in combination with something like Bronzong to be less vulnerable to special Energy removals and Giratina-EX. One of the more popular combinations with this card however are some of the Eeveelutions from Ancient Origins. Their Ability adds additional types to your Stage one Pokémon depending on what Eeveelution you have in play. Flareon adds the Fire type, Jolteon adds the Lightning type and Vaporeon adds the Water type. Mostly you'll only see Flareon and Jolteon, but some people also play Vaporeon to counter Entei/Charizard-EX. The benefit that Flareon gives you is that you can use Blacksmith to attach Fire Energy to your Vespiquen. Similar to Double Colorless Energy this allows you to setup an attacker in one turn and it also helps you against anti special Energy cards like Enhanced Hammer or Xerosic. Jolteon on the other hand is simply there to give you some kind of type coverage against cards like Yveltal or Mega Rayquaza-EX which are both weak to lightning.

There's also a variant of Vespiquen which also plays Night March Pokémon. The obvious synergy is that the Night Marchers no only fuel themselves for 20 damage each, but after you've gone through all of those they still serve as additional damage for Vespiquen's Bee Revenge attack. So unlike the basic Night March deck after all of them are discarded you don't have to find a way to get back a Joltik or a Pumpkaboo, but instead you're just going to attack with Vespiquen then. This does sound really clunky in theory, but I think with four Battle Compressors and stuff it should work relatively well.

I'm not exactly sure how good these Vespiquen decks really are as I neither have played them a lot myself nor have I faced them in tournaments or on PTCGO enough times. However I do think that this deck is much more viable in expanded because of the Team Plasma Flareon. Despite the fact that it probably will be one of the less popular decks for the ECC I still think it's not completely trash and you could very well play it.

8. Vileplume Variants

I am also not going to include a deck list for these type of decks as they're generally very versatile in how you build them. Vileplume decks try to lock your items starting on turn one without even attacking. Vileplume’s Ability prevents both players from playing any item cards from their hands while it’s in play. With the use of Forest of Giant Plants you can evolve your grass type Pokémon immediately so it shouldn't be that difficult to get out a Vileplume on turn 1. This is really strong if you manage to pull it off during your first turn while also going first, otherwise it has the same effect as Quacking Punch with much more of an effort to do so. Even though this deck aims to shut off items for both players you're still playing a lot of fast trainers to get your Vileplume into play as fast as possible. Also you're playing multiple copies of AZ in this deck in case your Vileplume gets stuck in the active spot after a Lysandre. The cool thing about this deck is that you can return a Vileplume to your hand and then evolve it immediately again if there's still a Forest of Giant Plants in play.

      

 


The most common card to play this with is the Regice from Ancient Origins. Its Resistance Blizzard attack deals 70 damage for a Water Energy and a Double Colorless Energy and prevents all damage done to it from opponent's Pokémon-EX during their next turn. This is actually really strong under an item lock as they don't have much of an option anyways. Regice's Ice Beam attack isn't too bad either in combination with Vileplume. If you're lucky enough to flip heads with the attack it paralyzes the opponent's active Pokémon which is great if you can use Lysandre on something in case you need to get a few extra turns for your setup.

Since you already have the Forst of Giant Plants in this deck you can also run additional grass types along Vileplume. What comes to mind are Ariados and Vespiquen from Ancient Origins. Ariados poisons all active Pokémon except for grass types. This is fantastic in combination with Lysandre and Vileplume. Similar to Hypnotoxic Laser you can just wear your opponent's Pokémon down while locking them out of the game. Vespiquen could be a decent attacker in such a deck as it only requires the Double Colorless Energy to attack and you'll most likely have some leftover Oddish or whatever to fuel its Bee Revenge attack. What's also cool about this deck is that your Double Colorless Energies are safe from Enhanced Hammer here because of Vileplume.

Similar to the Vespiquen decks I don't think Vileplume will take a huge part of the meta as it is really clunky and not that reliable as it does require a ton of setup to work properly. Even with the Ability to setup an item lock on turn one I still think this deck does too little towards winning a game. It might just be the case that your opponent overwhelms you even without the use of item cards.

Honorable Mentions

Currently standard really is a wide open format and there are a lot more decks than just the 8 ones I talked about just now, however I don't think you'll see much of them. Nonetheless I'd still like to mention them briefly in this section so you're a little bit more prepared for the European Challenge Cup!

Mega Mewtwo-EX Variants

There are a few different Mega Mewtwo-EX decks out there, but all of them play the Mega Mewtwo-EX Y version with Psychic Infinity. If you get a few Energy attached to it, it deals a massive amount of damage against pretty much anything that has some Energy attached to it, especially against Giratina-EX. You can pair this guy with something like Bronzong to get additional Energy acceleration, but most of them just play Double Colorless Energy and Mega Turbo as it will be enough most of the time. Sometimes they also play the Damage Change Mewtwo-EX in combination with Shrine of Memories to remove all damage counters from Mega Mewtwo-EX so watch out for that combo!

Lucario-EX/Crobat

This deck has kinda fallen out of favor because of Manectric-EX/Crobat which is pretty much a better version of this deck. However some people still like the fighting support and might play this deck instead. Cards like Focus Sash are great against Night March if they don't have something like Xerosic or Lysandre and the high damage output of fighting Pokémon in combination with Crobat is still nothing to laugh at. However this deck is really bad against Tyrantrum-EX/Bronzong and Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX so I don't think you'll see much of it at the top tables.

Houndoom-EX Variants

As I have mentioned in my last article I think Houndoom-EX is a fun deck to play, but I don't think it is too competitive. However it might be the case that some people play it, whether it is the Mega Houndoom-EX version which relies on OHKOing Pokémon-EX to finish games fast or some kind of weird mill deck which is more popular in expanded though.

Sceptile-EX Variants

Sceptile-EX decks have seen some play at cities, but they're not too popular. Usually they just run a thick line of Mega Sceptile-EX and some Shaymin along with a couple of Ariados to make the regular Sceptile-EX better. The problem with this deck is that despite the healing Ability of Mega Sceptile-EX they still get OHKO'd by Night March and Entei/Charizard-EX. Mega Sceptile-EX's ancient trait is a nice counter against Crobat though to keep that in mind in case you're playing a Crobat deck.

Conclusion

To sum this article up I don't think there is a clear favorite to take the tournament as all decks have some counters out there and there isn't really a deck which is super favorite against anything. If I were to make a guess I'd probably say that Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX is the best deck to play at the European Challenge Cup because it is super strong and super consistent, but then again Yveltal/Gallade/Zoroark is also a huge favorite in my opinion.

The format is really diverse at the moment so you can't really say what the best deck is as it heavily depends on what matchups you run into over the course of a tournament. In the end it is probably the best to just play a deck that is really consistent such as Seismitoad-EX/Giratina-EX. If you have to play a tournament with 7+ rounds you're going to have a better result at the end if you try to go that route instead of playing some teched out deck which then loses because you get a bad opening hand.

On another note I'd like to give a huge shoutout to RappelmannTCG who helped me with some of the decks I featured in this article, you should definitely check out his stuff on YouTube as well, here's a link!

YouTube

That's it for the article, guys. I hope I helped you a little bit with your deck choice for the European Challenge Cup. If you have any questions regarding a certain deck or whatever, really, feel free to ask me in the comments and I will gladly answer them. Best of luck at the ECC and I will see you next time!

- Marc Lutz

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