Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

Walking In Memphis

Marc Cohn. It Was Sung By Marc Cohn. Also, Here Is A Tournament Report From Memphis Regionals.

10/09/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

I just got back from a... very long... drive back from Memphis Regionals, and the resultant disappointment that came with it. Jesse Parker ( Huge props for being enough of a masochist to handle the entirety of the driving both ways...sicko ), Nick Moses, Rob Stephens ( Who I met for the first time on the trip down ) and I drove all the way from Cleveland down to Memphis Friday. I met up with Nick and Jesse at 10:30 am, and we got into Memphis at 1:30 am. ( Technically 12:30 am in Memphis time due to the time zone shift, but I wanted to emphasize how long a trip we had. ) I had a bit of a journey left in me still, as I got picked up from the rest of the group by long time friend Adam Maldonado.

Table of contents

Malamar, Memphis
Ultra Necrozma, Memphis
Vikaray, Memphis
Metal Shrine

Going into the event, I was torn between a trio of decks. Surprisingly, two of these were Malamar decks. The first variation was just a slightly adjusted version of Rukan Shao's build that took second place in Philly. ( Adam Hawkins tweaked it a bit to do well at Frankfurt's Regionals the weekend before Memphis, too. ) This was a safe choice, and would be nice and reliable. Seeing how my main goal is to at least net min points from each Regional I attend, this is a real selling point.

The other choice was Ultra Necrozma Malamar. I'm pretty sure only Dalton Didelot and I actually still play this deck, but I felt that the results stemming from Frankfurt actually put the deck in a better position than it had been previously. First off, you had two different mill decks break out from that tournament: Sylveon-GX, and a Steelix and Friends deck. I'm not going to go too in depth over these decks, but both punish Shrine and Zoroark decks pretty heavily as their damage output doesn't give them a good chance in either matchup.

Rukan's build of Malamar ran only one Dawn Wings Necrozma, and its switching cards were all Escape Boards. This left it vulnerable to a scenario against Sylveon where they would threaten the game state by bringing up and stranding Malamars active. To get around this, you have access to Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX's Invasion. The problem is, they can bring up and strand the Necrozma, and use energy removal cards to strip its energy supply down to it not being able to attack. They go for this line while leaving themselves with a lone Sylveon in play so as to turn off Guzma as a viable switching card ( You cannot play it as a switch if there is no legal target on the opponent's bench. ) If you have access to a pair of Dawn Wings Necrozma, this line doesn't work. Switch, the card, also breaks it up, as you just build up a Necrozma-GX for the KO. As a result, Rukan's list needed to be tweaked to either swap a 4th Board into a Switch, or add a Switch in addition.

Against Steelix, the big issue was actually the pair of Shining Legends Hoopa they ran. Being unable to be harmed by GX Pokémon, Hoopa's 120 HP and Psychic resistance actually keeps it out of the range of OHKOs. This lets Max Potion and Acerola really, really mess you up. You really need a Pokémon which can score that OHKO. I didn't expect that deck to be a viable option going forward, but if I did, a Shining Lugia sways that matchup heavily. Ultra Necrozma is far better positioned to be able to use Lugia, as it would run Switch over Escape Board. Lugia's two retreat cost makes it a really bad opener for Rukan's version.

The last deck that needs talked about is Metagross-GX. The deck did well recently, and isn't THAT bad against the all psychic Malamar decks. Ultra Necrozma, on the other hand, is extremely bad for it. The more high HP decks seeing play, the better Ultra Necrozma gets.

Finally, I want to touch on the last big innovation in Malamar decks: Chimecho. I was actually made aware of Chimecho Friday night by Adam, but obviously didn't pack random common cards with me, so I had to hope that they had some on site in the morning if I wanted to play one. I tweaked both Malamar lists I considered to include the card, and made sure to have lists available on RK9Labs ready to submit last minute for both decks both with and without Chimecho.

What IS this Chimecho I am talking about? It is a 70 HP basic that has one attack. For a Psychic, it does 10 damage and the opponent cannot play Pokémon from their hands with Abilities the next turn. Primarily, this card is very good against Zoroark. It locks the opponent off of Zoroark ( and Lycanroc! ) until they can KO it ( Which isn't easy at all for them ) and pretty much guarantees that both decks start on even footing opposed to Zoroark being the aggressor and getting to start off by KOing Malamars. It is a huge difference maker in the matchup.

Against decks like Vikaray and Metagross...which are both admittedly favorable stops them from being able to play their corner stone Stage 2 Pokémon until you let them. Malamar is one of the strongest, most stable decks in the format once set up. It usually loses when it falls too far behind, or gets disrupted early before it sets up entirely. Chimecho slows the game down to a crawl for both players, letting you dictate when the attacks start flying most games. The card is extremely powerful.

Once this Chimecho revelation entered the thought process, I was even more torn. Ultra Necrozma felt better positioned as a whole to me. It sported a better Zoroark matchup than the Psychic version, was better against Vikaray, and was stronger against the mill decks. It's biggest issue was being clunkier and a bit slower, and sporting a weaker Shrine matchup. The deck was still plenty reliable, and by adding more non-GX openers, the Shrine matchup was surprisingly pallatable. Fundamentally, Ultra Necrozma was a stronger deck once set up. It also was a deck that needed to use up less bench space...due to Beast Ring, you could get by with less Malamar in play. This mattered if you wound up stuck with Chimecho on the bench mid and late game. Also, and this is a major issue actually, but Ultra Necrozma is able to deal with Sudowododo's bench restriction better than Psychic Malamar can. It felt that if Chimecho could reliably "slow down" matchups across the board, it would actually benefit Ultra Necrozma more than the Psychic builds.

In the end, it didn't end up mattering, we got off to a slow start Saturday morning, and I couldn't get ahold of a vendor with a Chimecho in time. As a result, I wound up defaulting to what turned out to be a disastrous play: Vikaray. Before I get into Vikaray, I want to share the two Malamar lists I was torn between.

Prior to the Chimecho addition, I ran a Nest Ball. It was basically Rukan's lists with two changes. I did a split between Escape Board and Switch. Prior to the mill decks, I was already on a 3/1 split, and went for the 2/2 by the end of it. There are spots where Escape Board has felt bad, and I needed Switch. Also, everyone puts you on 4 Board, so lines available with Switch aren't played around. You always want to draw the first Escape Board, but once you do, additional copies are better served as Switch usually. I'm still unsure whether 3/1 or 2/2 is correct here. 3/2 is also reasonable, but I'm unsure what to cut.

I didn't care for the pair of Friend Ball Rukan ran and I cut them for a Nest Ball and an 11th Psychic Energy initially. I still wanted the spots allocated to consistancy, but I felt like I was reliably getting my Pokémon into play...I was having more issues actually getting all of my attachments and also pitching Energy early on. The 11th Psychic Energy actually is GREAT, and I can't see myself dropping down lower from that. You miss more turn 2 attacks due to Energy issues than Pokémon issues with the deck.

The big change between the two decks is that you lost a Malamar, and 4 Acro Bike to make room for the extra Energy cards needed to facilitate the second type, and the Beast Rings. You trade a bit of smoothness for power and a better plan when under pressure. Now, the deck has TEN non-GX openers opposed to only six of the GX variety. This makes the Shrine matchup better.

Oricorio has been incredible in the deck so far and has been a late addition. Being able to get access to Energy on search is really great at smoothing over some of the clunkiness of the deck. Also, you are actually able to allocate a bench space to it. Prior to the addition of Chimecho, I had a Friend Ball in the list. I was a fan of Nest Ball over it in the Psychic Malamar list, but in here the Oricorio actually pushes me towards Friend Ball as it is another Pokémon I really want to put in hand so I can get access to it's Ability.

A card I was unsure of in the deck is Acerola. The card is really good against the Shrine decks, and also is powerful against any deck that has to try and two hit your Pokemon. Ultra Necrozma in generally is actually quite sturdy, and bouncing it is usually enough to just win the game. The problem is, the card is situational, so you don't want a lot of copies clogging the deck. On the other hand, you need to be able to have it at the right time. Normally Tapu Lele's Wonder Tag mitigates that problem, but seeing how its main role is to rescue GX Pokémon against Shrine decks, replacing your damaged GX with a new liability in Tapu Lele GX isn't really making a lot of forward progress on the issue. I think the magic number on Acerola in this deck would be two, but I'm not sure what I'd cut for them. You could go down to 3 Guzma for one of the slots, and maybe the Escape Board, but both of those swaps hurt the potency of Chimecho.

None the less, due to the lack of ability to actually find Chimecho, I settled on Vikaray. I felt like Vikaray would end up being a really safe play, while also being a pretty easy deck to pick up and play without having to get a ton of reps with it. I had a pretty firm fundamental understanding of the deck, and I honestly felt like I played the deck pretty well overall. The deck is very linear, and I felt like I had a pretty good grasp of the resource management aspect of the deck.

I ended up just copying the list that got second in Frankfurt piloted by Goncalo Pereira.


I liked the look of the list in general. I wasn't 100% sold on the Shaymin, but I put a bit of blind faith into the deck. As for the tournament itself?

Round one I got paired against a player who made the switch over from Yu Gi Oh and was newer to the competitive Pokémon scene. He was playing what seemed to be a fairly stock Zororoc list. I lose the die roll. He actually misses his big turn 2 Lycanroc attack, and that takes the game from being really close to snowball into a mess. Game 2 I didn't notice he attached a Weakness Policy as he attached his DCE ( I do not believe he was being shady with it. I should have seen it there. ) and swing a Shaymin into his turn 2 Lycanroc and thinking I'd get the KO. I would have still just swung into the Lycanroc anyways, so it didn't change much. The game ends up being pretty close but he has a big turn midgame where he needs to assemble like four cards off a Cynthia plus 3 Trades, but comes up short. If he hit it, I believe he is slightly favored to win from there, but it was still up in the air.


Round two I get paired against a Vikavolt Rayquaza player. I go first, and get a turn 2 Vikavolt. I pair it with a Let Loose to try and disrupt his turn 2 Vikavolt in return. He hits it anyways. I'm still ahead because I went first, and I'm able to ride that to a game 1 win. Games 2 and 3 I get Vikavolt out after him, despite using Let Loose to give him a 4 card hand going into his second turn. He just drew into it naturally every time anyways. Vikaray mirror is truly miserable. Legitimately the worst mirror match I've played since Reshiram Typhlosion in 2011. ( That isn't to say there weren't equally awful ones since. )


Round 3 I am paired against another Vikaray opponent, Emily Sherrard from Canada. She wins the flip, and gets a quick start. It is at this point that I realize just how disadvantaged I am in the mirror by not having any Choice Band. It increases your odds of OHKOing an opposing Rayquaza early, but also lets you OHKO a Rayquaza GX with a Vikavolt. Admittedly, most games still come down to just seeing whoever gets the first Vikavolt out, but it is still an edge in the matchup I was lacking. Vikaray was also just everywhere around me, so that was great to see.

Game 2 I get a really strong start, and she stumbles and I bench her pretty early in. Game 3 was one of the craziest things I've ever seen and I made she to include her name in this report just so this gets properly attributed to her. She gets to go first, and has a really strong start, opening before benching a pair of Grubbin, and a second Rayquaza GX with a successful Stormy Winds before playing a Lillie for 7. I have a dead hand but obviously have access to Tempest GX. I do have Guzma and bring up one of her Grubbin to ideally buy myself some time. I have the option to bench a Lugia but I don't want to give her an opening to Guzma her Grubbin to the bench, and figure my Rayquaza is totally safe for at least a turn, right?

Well, the next turn sees her Rare Candy into Vikavolt onto the benched Grubbin and Strong Charge onto her active Grubbin. It retreats into a Rayquaza. She plays a second Rare Candy onto the other Grubbin and Strong Charges onto the active Rayquaza, leaving herself with 4 energy in play. An attachment and a third Rayquaza GX's Stormy Winds gave her the 8th Energy on her second turn to be able to hit for 180 ( Having retreated off the first pair from Strong Charge number one. ) To add insult to injury, she also had the Marshadow to Let Loose my 10 card Tempest GX hand for insurance. I'm not bitter about this, I was probably beaten going second, basically beaten missing a turn one Grubbin, and effectively beaten when she got the turn 2 Vikavolt. The overkill nut draw happened long after I'd resigned to losing the match and was honestly just impressive to watch unfold. This is what I get for betraying my poor squids like this. I'm sorry lil guys.


Round 4 I get paired against Malamar, and I get our a turn 2 Vikavolt both games. They don't have great starts and I'm able to get the jump on the Dawn Wings Necrozma one game, and able to pressure all the Malamars the next game. This matchup is unfavorable, but winnable.


Round 5 I get paired in my 3rd Vikaray mirror. I lose the die roll, and he smashes me game one. I never get a Vikavolt out as I Stormy Wind away a pair of Rare Candy early on and prize the other two. Oops. "Surprisingly" I win the second game as I went first and got the turn 2 Vikavolt. The third game I was actually in really good shape! He didn't have a turn 1 Grubbin down. Unfortunately, my first Stormy Winds mills both of my Energy Recycler. I also prized 4 Energy cards. I'm in pretty good shape...I KO the Vikavolt he does get out and leave him with a Rayquaza with 3 Energy on it as his only Pokémon in play. He had a two card dead hand the turn before, and drew for the turn...benches a Rayquaza GX and Stormy Winds...attaches for turn and completes the trifecta with the Choice Band to KO my clean Rayquaza leaving me with 5 prizes left and not enough Energy left in play and deck to actually hit more than 150 damage so I just lose. This is what I get for betraying more poor squids lik this. I'm sorry lil guys.


6-3 will get t128 points but I was faced with a real decision to make: I could stay in with a deck that I felt was miserably positioned in the field I was playing in hoping to 4-0, while also having to buy new sleeves ( They were getting really dirty and I didn't think they had another round left in them ) or drop and hang out with friends I rarely get to see. I didn't have the heart to go another round with the deck and dropped. I do want to give a shout out to all of my opponents for being really enoyable to play against.


Anyways, I want to close out this article with a deck I had been working on prior to the tournament that I was having a lot of success with. I was heavily considering it, but the Frankfurt results really scared me off of it because it couldn't beat the mill decks, and the direction shift I expected the metagame to take was not going to be kind to the deck. I was also winning an extremely high percentage of my games while also feeling like the deck was just AWKWARD. I was also concerned with the time limit, as I expected to get a lot of potential draw scenarios. Here is the deck:

The idea of the deck is...well. Okay. The deck has a lot going on. First off, you plan to leverage beefy one prize attackers to force a long, grindy game. You have some spread options, and a wide assortment of attackers that are difficult OHKOs. To make the already beefy Pokémon even harder to deal with, I ran a pair of Metal Frying Pan.

Against GX decks, you can win the exchanges off by forcing them to take six very difficult KOs. Against Shrine decks, they basically cannot win. Celesteela with a Frying Pan takes 50 less damage from a Buzzwole. Registeel takes 50 less damage in general. You have no reason to play down a ton of Abilities or Items because their damage output is just dirt against you. I've never come close to losing to a Buzz-shrine deck before with this.

Zoroark decks get...interesting. On one hand, you've got some nice spread available, but with the addition of multiple Acerolas and plenty of Shrine counters, that isn't the world's best game plan. While Solgaleo Prism Star and Celesteela can both hit 210 ( with Kukui and Choice Band ) its not the easiest thing to pull off. The big haymaker here is Dusk Mane Necrozma GX. Your game plan here is to let the opponent get ahead on prizes, and Beast Ring to Dusk Mane and attach and use your GX attack to OHKO their Zoroark. Assuming you don't over-bench ( You have no reason to ) and walk into say, Dangerous Rogue against Lycanroc varients, they can't actually OHKO the Dusk Mane, and an attachment the next turn is a second OHKO on a GX. You just have to find a way to manufacture another 2 prizes the rest of that game.

Vikaray and their lack of counter Stadiums makes Shrine a real issue, and Lugia and Dhelmise don't actually do enough damage to make that game plan actually viable. Frying Pan even makes Celesteel no longer weak to Lighting so an aggro Vikavolt isn't even going to OHKO it.

Malamar is a matchup I didn't get a chance to test enough, and that was an unknown I was a little concerned with. It probably isn't terrible because the one prize attackers can't actually OHKO my attackers, and you have Shrine for the GXes.

The deck is full of a bunch of thinly stretched game plans that barely all manage to fit into the same deck. Due to Magcargo's Smooth Over, and the long nature of the games this deck plays, it all kind of actually works. I actually felt really overwhelmed by the deck building process, and am not sure if I am supposed to trim some ideas entirely and reinforce others. With the amount of games I have played with this deck, I should have a much better understanding of it, but I don't.

I do want to break down the individual attackers one by one though.

Tapu Koko: Koko offers free retreat, and is your main lead attacker to be able to apply pressure to get to the Beast Ring Turns. I run 3 because it is your best opener, and in matchups it is "good" you want to spam them, so having extra copies is good.

Registeel: Registeel is tanky, and hits fairly hard for two "attachments". It plays a similar role as Shining Lugia in Shrine Malamar decks because it is your best turn 2 attacker for games you are going first. It takes -70 damage when "panned" against Psychic types, so it bricks Garbodor badly and really forces Malamar decks to resort to GX Pokémon to attack into it.

Celesteela: Celesteela is useful on it's "Magic" turn, hitting 160 ( all the way up to 220 damage! ) for a lone Metal Energy, but due to DCE and Beast Rings, it can also just be powered up to pay the excessive 5 energy cost. Solgaleo Prism Star is also able to power up your Pokémon mid and late game, and Celesteela remains a powerful target to power up.

Solgaleo Prism Star: Beefy, and a great mid and late game play to rebuild a field when you can't Beast Ring and need to get energy into play. It also hits for a ton of damage. Unfortunately, it is really difficult to power without using it's first attack because it isn't an Ultra Beast and it doesn't take advantage of DCEs.

Dusk Mane Necrozma: Dusk Mane is another Ultra Beast target for Beast Ring, and can hit really, really hard at the end of the game. It is mainly used for it's first attack, which can actually hit for "150" for a lone Energy against a GX Pokemon...base 60, plus 30 from Choice 30 more for Beast 10 fro Shrine of 20 more from a Kukui. It is asking a LOT, but with smart Smooth Overs, it is doable. It is another good lead attacker against some decks when Tapu Koko is just bad.

Dusk Mane Necrozma GX: This is your OHKO cannon. It kind of goes against the overall plan of the deck, but it is a nice safety net when a pair of OHKOs can just win a game. It makes it really difficult for some decks to play really conservative against you as it just keeps them honest with with damage.

Oranguru: Don't attack with this.

Okay, actually, its a surprisingly reasonable attacker, all things considered. It can be better than Registeel in some matchups.

Anyways, this was a deck I spent a lot of time testing, and something that is really quite a bit out of my comfort zone lately. If it is something that interests you and you want to test it out, give it a spin! The deck is a constant challenge to play, but very fun. I still think there really is something here, but that I'm not quite there yet.

Until next time!

[+19] okko


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