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Zapdos / beasts for EUIC

2018 Worlds Day 2 Competitor Miloslav Posledni goes over his number one choice heading into EUIC

04/25/2019 by

Hey guys! My name is Miloslav Poslední and I’m 22 years old. I come from the Czech republic and I started playing this game way back in 2009, I quit in 2012 but the changes to the competitive system in 2016 motivated me to come back. It took me a year to get a grasp of the game again and towards the end of the 2017/2018 season I started putting in some decent results, finishing my season with a top22 day2 Worlds invitation. I’m aiming for top22 this season as well, at the moment I’m #10 in the EU rankings, so it’s looking pretty good for me.

In this article, I will talk about the deck that I’m right now considering the most for the upcoming European International Championship in Berlin – Zapdos / Ultra beasts.  Even though the regional in Denver had seen a lot of Control decks that beat us quite easily. I still believe Zapdos is fairly well positioned. My reasoning being that decks with a good matchup against Control should see play again – those being mainly Blacephalon and Malamar. These decks were pushed out of the meta because of their poor Zapdos matchup and the Denver results should mean some drop in Zapdos play rate. In EU there are also some firm ZoroRoc believers and if they decide to play Oranguru (which they should) they can cause huge trouble to the Control decks as well.

That said my meta calls are often hit or miss, so take this theory with a grain of salt.

The deck has two main selling points, one being that losing the coinflip isn’t as hurtful with this deck as for other decks, because you can attack on turn one. The other one is that the deck is mainly non-GX focused. That doesn’t really sound like a huge edge, but the theory behind this is that in most games your opponent will be forced to take 6 prizes in 6 turns, which means there will be more turns for you to outplay your opponent than for example in a Pikarom mirror match. Another thing I like about the deck is that in most matchups if you get a good start, hit everything you need and play well, you will win. However thanks to the nature of the deck you can win games even with suboptimal draws.

The list:

 

This would be my list if I were to play EUIC tomorrow. It is pretty much the same as Robin Schulz’s Zapdost/ Ultra beasts list from Cannes with a copy of Marshadow and a 2-2 line of Zebra. I’m 100% certain the deck needs Marshadow with how the format has evolved – a lot of decks will aim to Let loose you turn one and If you’re not opening Jirachi it can be really painful as there are only 6 draw cards you can hit off of it. The Marshadow gives you 4 more draw outs with the 3 Ultra balls you’re playing, it also gives you nice disruption and range options, so I find it much better than Volkner. I really want to fit a copy of Absol, but the list is very tight and Its probably impossible to fit in both Absol and 2-2 Zebstrika. Right now the Zebra seems better to me because Absol mainly helps versus mirror and Malamar. Malamar is a favourable matchup already and as I stated already I don’t expect to face that many Zapdos decks. On the other hand 2-2 Zebstrika changes your Zororoc matchup from slightly unfavourable to even, helps a lot versus Blacephalon and is all around a nice consistency boost.

 

 

Matchups – foreword:

I probably need not to point this out, but Zapdos is a very fast paced and aggressive deck – If you get a better opener than your opponent and execute your plays properly, you should win most games. What separates most good Zapdos players from the best is how you control the deck when the game is on even footing or more importantly if you’re behind. In this metagame compared to last years, there aren’t many options to comeback when behind, but it is extremely important to know those few spots that exist. I will try my best to describe them in the matchup section after the initial strategy.

Matchups:

Pikarom: Very favourable/ favourable

Pikarom is a naturally good matchup for Zapdos, the newfound Order pad variant without healing with only one Zapdos is Very favourable. The older versions similar to Gustavo’s is a bit harder, but they still don’t have enough Pokémon to deal with all of your one prize attackers efficiently. They can’t play around both Sledgehammer and Nihilego and even if you get a little bit unlucky and miss on your beast attack turns, you can still outpace them with pure Zapdos damage. If you manage to attack every turn you should win even if they manage to heal once. If they play Jolteon GX and don’t bench any other lightning GX’s it is ideal to Guzma around the Jolteon until it is in range for a 1 hit knockout either with Sledgehammer or a one prizer and Shrine ticks.

Mirror: Even / 51/49 if you read this article lol

Jokes aside, contrary to the popular belief, you always go first in the mirror. My reason for that is, that if both of you get a suboptimal setup, going first is much better as you get to see more cards. Ideally you aim to promote a 130hp Pokémon and bench another one, then the only way your opponent takes a knockout is via Guzma or double Electropower. Playing Guzma turn 1 is really detrimental and most games will end up with your opponent missing a beat in the midgame.  Double Electropower isn’t very likely to happen and if it does you’re still not out of the game because they will need to hit the 3rd and 4th ones eventually. The best answer to the double 130HP Pokémon strategy is to use your Marshadow, hit a draw supporter of off it and start attacking next turn while your opponent is stuck with a useless Pokémon in the active. The best way to comeback in this matchup is to shove a Buzzwole with at least 120 HP remaining into the active as often as possible to take KO’s, not only with Sledgehammer, but with Swing around as well. The other options are knocking out all of their Jirachi’s or knocking out their Tapu koko* in midgame and then attack the turn when they are on their last prize with your Tapu koko GX.

Zapdos/ Jolteon: Slightly unfavourable

You can apply everything I’ve wrote above for this matchup, the thing that changes this matchup from even to slightly unfavourable is them running Max potion, Jolteon GX and multiple Volkners. This gives them options to setup turns where they get the prize lead while you can’t do anything about it. There is a lot of room for error in this matchup for their side however. They need to be constantly playing around your Ultra beasts and Shrines.

Malamar: Favourable/ slightly favourable

The Malamar matchup depends on some things that aren’t in your control, but you should still come out on top in most bo3’s. If you’re running Absol the matchup becomes more favourable as it decreases their outs to have a floater in play for a turn 2 attack (floater = the Pokémon that has potential to have free retreat next turn for example Inkay with a psychic energy/ Escape board attached). Your gameplan changes a lot depending on their opener. If they get the nuts (they go first, discard double psychic and develop multiple Inkay and a Giratina with an energy attached without any GX’s in play) you may choose to go for a Let loose turn 1, take a knockout and hope that they miss their attack turn 2, the Let loose in this spot is optimal most of the time, but your opponent might draw into 6 basic energies and 2 Switches, so it’s pretty important to try reading your opponent’s hand off of their face. This doesn’t come up a lot though. Generaly you just try to setup as well as you can, while you’re trying to deny them the turn 2 Giratina attack. If they manage to attack with Giratina turn 2 you can’t really miss a beat. It is extremely important to play around Sky scorching light GX which means, you cannot place down two Pokémon that get knocked out by it unless you’re two prizes ahead. A common misplay in this matchup from the Zapdos player is bumping the Malamar players Viridian forests with their Shrines when they absolutely don’t need to. Having Viridian forest in play is very important for Zapdos to keep ahead in the race and giving the Malamar player a free Acerola turn onto their GX is just as bad.

Blacephalon: Very favourable

Another naturally favourable matchup, you trade too well with Blacephalon for them to match you. Their only chance to beat you is through a Let loose brick or a turn 2 Naganadel attack with a Beast energy that you don’t have a proper response against. Most Blacephalon players play Muk, which you should almost always deal with first. Thinking outside of the box is very important in this matchup, especially if you get a bad opener. A thing worth noting is that against the standard Blacephalon build if you Guzma up their Muk with only 1 Pokémon in play, you essentially get at least 4 turns of free draws, that with Shrine ticks is huge and makes games with pretty bad openers winnable.

Zororoc: Slightly unfavourable/ even

Zororoc can be tough but the 2-2 Zebstrika line makes the matchup even, if you manage to develop both Zebras or even a Zebra and a Blitzle with a Rescue stretcher in hand, you can ignore Muk and just go for the race, however sometimes its correct to target the Muk. Can’t really describe the go to strategy as this one is extremely hand dependent. If behind your best option is to Guzma up their Muk and hope that they miss a Guzma of their own while you’re getting shrine ticks off.

Zorocontrol/ Stall: Very unfavourable

I’m putting these two matchups together, because your strategy is literally to go as aggro as possible along with Let loose and just hope that they whiff a lot, there is not much else you can do.

 

Other changes I’m considering:

Cutting on Shrines or the Zebstrika line and playing a Kartana GX. At first I was very sceptic of Kartana GX in Zapdos, however it does have its merits as a nice finisher, and it seems especially useful versus Zororoc or Zorocontrol. Against Zoroark if you’re running 2-2 Zebstrika you normally have to pick off two basics, kill a Zoroark with Sledgehammer and after that you need to finish the game through a Tapu lele GX / Lycanroc GX knockout or by knocking out 2 more basics. If the Zoroark player plays well, they should make the last two prizes as hard as possible for you to take. With Kartana GX however you get the option to win with Blade GX by only using Sledgehammer and knocking out 3 basics.

Cutting a Rainbow energy for one basic Fighting energy. This change helps mainly versus Pikarom and Zoroark builds running Viridian forest. With basic Fighting you increase your outs to hitting your Sledgehammer turn by keeping Zoroarks / Pikaroms Viridian Forest in play. However I definitely don’t want to cut on turn 1 lightning energy outs so other changes would have to be made.

Playing the Zapdos / Jolteon GX version instead. The Jolteon build is very good as well and is the second option I’m considering right now. You worsen your Zoroark matchup, but get some other positive matchups.

 

Good luck in Berlin

I wish good luck to everyone in Berlin and I hope you found this article useful for your preparation! If you have any questions regarding the deck, feel free to hit me up on Facebook.

 

Twitch: twitch.tv/locketmasterthrae

Twitter: twitter.com/M1lek97

Facebook: facebook.com/thrae1337

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