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Chris Fulop

Anything Goes

With Multiple Regionals Featuring Guardian's Rising In The Books, We Are Left Looking At One Of The Healthiest Formats In Pokémon History!

25. 06. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hey again everyone!

With "US Nationals"...er, Intercontinentals coming up, there is a lot on the line for a lot of players. Since the release of Guardians Rising, a set which stands to be one of the most influencial sets in Pokémon history, we've seen a lot of changes to the metagame. With Seattle Regionals, we saw 24 of the top 32 decks placed by Garbodor decks. Since then, decks have adapted, slowing down and running less Item cards. We saw the rise of Stage 2 decks, something I never would have suspected. Metagross-GX and Vikavolt decks both saw success the next week, and Greninja and Decidueye Vileplume decks are still present in the format as well. There was a deck that placed in the top 16 at Mexico's Regionals which I have taken quite a liking to as well, which is a Gallade deck. I'll be going over that one more in depth later in the article.

The most important thing to take away from the fallout of the past month or so of Regionals is that the format is not only wide open, but still very much evolving. (For the first time in a very long time, even quite literally!) While the pieces are slowly coming into place, the format is far from solved, which should lead to a very exciting experience at what I am going to assuming will be the largest Pokémon tournament ever held.

Anyways, I want to go over 3 of the decks I've personally been putting the most emphasis on with my testing, and then a few additional archetypes which are a bit newer to the scene that are worth looking at as well.

Mega Rayquaza-EX

The back story on this build of Rayquaza is a bit interesting. I was at league on Tuesday night at Ground Zero in Strongsville, Ohio ( Shameless advertisement! ) when my friend Joey tells me about this 2-2 Lycanroc line he added into his Rayquaza build. I immediately call it terrible, and more or less chastise him for adding a "useless" stage 1 line into an otherwise very streamlined deck.

This was before Seattle, so flash forward to afterwards, and Garbodor/Drampa/Tauros stuff pretty much took over the format. To top it off, Sudowoodo was everywhere, which was a huge problem for the deck. Lycanroc not only could OHKO a Drampa or a Tauros for FCC due to Weakness, but it also was minimally impacted by Sudowoodo's bench limitations. This is a deck that doesn't really have a good GX attack to use either, and Lycanroc's is strong! To top it off, while you don't really need a situtional Lysandre as an Ability as a selling point for the card, it is still a nice cherry on top of a package that is already alluring.

It turns out that Jose Marrero was also on the Lycanroc wagon for the deck, and beyond this we had come to some similar conclusions for the archetype. We kind of met close to the middle on ideas, but ended up pulling away slightly in different directions the more we tested. Let me go over some of the card choices one by one.

3-3 Rayquaza-EX/Mega Rayquaza-EX: This is the normal count, but I opt to run the Dragon type Rayquaza EXes. I just want to be able to avoid a Lightning weakness now that the type is seeing substantial play.

3 Shaymin-EX: With Tapu Lele, Hoopa-EX, and a pair of Rescue Stretcher, I've been fine with only 3 Shaymin-EX. The deck rarely needs to use 4 Shaymin-EX in a game where you don't also have one in the discard already, so Rescue Stretcher acts as a wildcard for the 4th Shaymin that has much stronger application elsewhere.

2 Hoopa-EX/2 Tapu Lele: Both of these counts are pretty standard, and are unlikely to ever change in this archetype.

2-1 Lycanroc-GX: I already covered why I like the line in the deck, but I do want to go over the 2-1 choice. You really don't need too many Lycanroc-GX in any given game, but against decks that you want it against, a 1-1 line is very fickle. It is too easy for Rockruff to get Lysandre'd and knocked out. From there it is easy for it to be kept off the field indefinitely. In most cases, you could argue that chasing Lysandre lets an active Mega Rayquaza go wild, but in many cases, you opt to go with Lycanroc because of Sudowoodo, which makes the Rayquaza plan much weaker the whole time. By adding a 2nd Basic ( which the deck always likes anyways ) you can force out Lycanroc, and you can also loop Lycanrocs easier off the pair of Stretchers.

1 Oricorio: Oricorio is your Vespiquen counter, which otherwise is a bit of a mess for this deck. With Dragonite-EX and a pair of Stretchers, it is very easy to just spam this bird the whole matchup.

1 Tapu Koko: The Promo Koko is a nice hefty free retreat Pokémon, but it also abuses DCE to do 20 against the opponent's whole field. The main roles for it are to counter Gyarados by KOing all of their damage Gyarados (Hex Maniac turns off any Pokémon they run to protect their bench from damage) and to give you a means to finish off 250 HP Pokémon. It is useful against Metagross decks, where you can Emerald Break for 240, then finish it off for 20 while also leaving their entire field of Metagross in future KO range. While Kukui may be slightly better against Metagross and other 250 HP GX Pokémon, Koko is a great opener and also directly counters Gyarados and thus has a wider application which I prefer.

1 Sudowoodo: Sudowoodo is great in mirror match, but is also really important in giving you a chance against the Raichu/Lycanroc deck. You need to keep their bench thin to limit their Raichus and hopefully hunt their puppies. The matchup is actually totally winnable...not good, but winnable...by attacking with Lycanroc and Tapu Leles and transitioning to a late game Mega Rayquaza if appropriate. It gets a lot harder if they can fill their bench and abuse Raichu.

1 Dragonite EX: Despite the Stretchers, you still want Dragonite-EX as a 1-of in the deck. It is still just such a safe, reliable way to get back Pokémon and re-fill your bench. It has great synergy with all of your Pokémon with Abilities which trigger when you bench them, and also work with the pair of Unown.

2 Unown: I know I have Unowns in and out of the deck for ages now, but the card is actually really great in the deck right now. First off, it fills a bench space. It also replaces itself, and provides a minimal amount of draw power. You effectively get to play a 58 card deck. Unown works really well with Rescue Stretcher as it also lets you replace Stretcher from your hand when otherwise you can't use it.

Unown has great applications with Mallow, letting you immediately draw into what you just stacked your deck with. They help alleviate some of the downsides of only running 3 Shaymin-EX. While I don't run Oranguru, Unowns stockpile on the bench to help give you some strength against late game Ns.

Where Unown actually ends up being an all-star is against Sudowoodo! One of the big problems you face with Sudowoodo is that you get left with only 4 Benched Pokémon...and this often chokes you off of being able to play Shaymin, Hoopa, or Tapu Lele! The deck is built with an engine that relies on using these Pokémon to actually flow, and Sudowoodo not just gimps Mega Ray's damage output, it also just shuts down the deck's draw power. You can sit an Unown on the bench, and when you need to play any of these Pokémon, you can free up a bench space and draw a card. It ends up being really important, because when you think about it, Sudowoodo just ends up making Mega Ray 2 hit things, while likely being 2 hit in return. This isn't a game ending set of exchanges at all, the issue comes from the fact that you are stifled on draw and struggle to continue to set up.

A line I really like is to crack an Unown, and play either a Hoopa-EX or a Dragonite-EX. Then you can play a Hex Maniac (you'll often still have a Sky Field in play, which just was a blank due to Sudowoodo) and you can then bench all the Pokémon you got off of Draggy or Hoopa and actually OHKO something. You can't Hex and then play one of those EXes, so the Unown actually opens up the play frequently. This does make me want a 2nd Hex Maniac.

Unown seems low impact on the surface but actually combines so well with so many other cards in the deck that they play well better than they honestly look like they would.

4 DCE/4 Fighting Energy: Pretty standard counts, even if I do like a 5th Basic Energy that I couldn't fit in this particular build.

2 Prof. Sycamore: This is too good a draw card not to play. While Tapu Lele does help at getting ahold of it, and you don't really want to Sycamore often, it is one of your best late game Supporters, and you often burn through the first one early, and want a 2nd copy to increase the odds you can get it back with a late game Tapu Lele.

2 N: This is also one of the best Supporters in the game, and the same logic applies. I want a copy to grab early game, but also want to include enough copies that it is reasonable to expect to Lele for one late game as well.

1 Skyla/1 Mallow/1 Teammates: These all serve similar functions in that they grab specific cards for you. With Tapu Lele and VS Seekers, I like splitting up between them. Skyla is really reliable early game, and the least conditional to grabbing Ultra Ball and Sky Field and such. Teammates is the best option as your Pokémon actually get KOed, and Mallow is able to grab 2 cards on any turn you can also use Set Up or some degree of Unowns. They all are great, and I don't think I'd want any more than 1 copy of any of them. I'll use this section to discuss an omission of a card I see in a lot of decks: Pokémon Fan Club. I'm just not too high on the card. It isn't bad, I just think it is certainly worse than all 3 of these cards, and I could never justify adding an extra Supporter of similar function.

1 Hex Maniac: Hex Maniac is great in this deck, with so much additional draw power from it's Pokémon. I like 2 copies because, alongside Tapu Lele, it is a lot easier to maintain a chain of them (especially with only 3 VS Seeker) and that is alluring. The card is great against Vikavolt and Metagross GX, as well as Greninja and Volcanion, so it has a lot of uses. Every time I play two, I feel like I draw them too often and they clunk up the deck. Every time I run one, I end up needing them more. I love and hate both counts, so this is far fro locked in stone.

1 Lysandre: I really do like 2 Lysandre in the deck, but wit a 2-1 Lycanroc line, and 2 Stretchers, it is totally reasonable to get by with just one copy.

3 VS Seeker: Originally I started playing with 3 copies as players trimmed them in this anti-Garbodor witch hunt effort where they just started gutting their decks of Item cards. I feel like that was an overkill effort, but the 3 copies of VS Seeker in this deck actually played really well, especially with Tapu Lele. Often I'd need VS Seeker to perform late game Lysandres, and the Lycanroc line alleviated some of that stress on the card as well. VS Seeker also is an awkward draw early on as they do clog hands for your Set Ups. I don't think 4 is bad by any means, but 3 as played well enough and the deck needs to free up space.

4 Sky Field: I'd run as many as 6 of this card if I could, so I just go with the maximum they let me.

4 Ultra Ball: Pretty mandatory in all decks.

2 Rayquaza Spirit Link: I like both 2 and 3 copies, but with Skyla, Teammates, and Mallow to get them, I feel 2 is fine. You really do need to end the first turn with a manual Mega Evolution though. The thinner count is also offset by the fact you have a 2-1 Lycanroc line as back up attackers.

3 Mega Turbo: Also, pretty standard, I don't think this needs explained.

2 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope: I had been doing 2 Float Stone and 1 Olympia for a very long time now, but I've hated the Olympia, and found myself wanting a Rope often. Olympia seems great...you can grab it with Tapu Lele! It can be re-used with VS Seeker! It can be played under Vileplume...a deck seeing a steep drop off in popularity, and a deck you already improve against by just having access to Tapu Leles. Even if Olympia greatly increased the frequency at which you had access to a switching effect, I almost never had the luxury of being able to actually use my Supporter allocation for a turn on it. Like, I am not exaggerating when I say I maybe used it twice in 200 games. I finally just cut it for the Escape Rope which has been really helpful.

2 Rescue Stretcher: I feel like I've justified this count in passing through discussing all of the other cards, so I'll just stress how great a wild card this card ends up being. It just glues the deck together really well. I know Jose was hesitant to embrace the card at first just because it fed Garbodor more Items, but in reality that matchup ends up being way more about Sudowoodo or Garbotoxin than being beaten by the actual Garbodors, and I'm not willing to compromise my performance against the rest of the field due to it. This is especially true as Garbodor's percentage of the metagame continues to shrink drastically.

Overall I feel like Mega Rayquaza is still a very good deck choice in this metagame. The more the meta widens, the better positioned it is. It makes up a small percentage of the field, and as a result, it becomes less and less justifiable for people to continue to run Sudowoodo. As people need to combat more decks, Sudowoodo's presence should decrease.

Rayquaza's "problem" cards...and I use this loosely as they are all combatable...are Sudowoodo, Garbotoxin Garbodor, Vespiquen, Jolteon, and Zoroark. The only deck right now that runs Garbotoxin Garbodor is actually better suited using the Sudowoodo they also frequently run. Vespiquen is actually reasonable, especially with Oricorio. Jolteon sees play alongside Vespiquen, and is oddly of minimal impact in that matchup due to the Ocicorio plan. It is a bigger pain alongside Espeon GX, or any of the other Eeveelution decks, but also manageable. Zoroark is an interesting card, and not that difficult to manage resources around. Unown has been great at this, letting you go wide on your bench for key KOs and then dump down after if you need to manage against Zoroark's attack. Lycanroc is also just very strong against Zoroark decks too.

Gallade/Octillery

This deck looks so unbelievably fun. I made a few slight adjustments from a list I saw that placed in Mexico recently. I sadly do not have the player's name available to me, but I know they lost playing for top 8 to a Greninja deck, which admittedly seems like a chore of a matchup.

The basically premise of this deck is to just loop Gallades all game, hitting for as much as 180 damage in one swing with its 130 damage output with a Supporter, plus a Choice Band, plus Prof. Kukui. Taken alongside the spread damage the new Tapu Koko puts out, Gallade becomes extremely dangerous.

The deck's biggest appeal to me is just how extremely consistent it is! With Gallade's Abilty, and a 2-2 Octillery line, you can expect the deck to set up beautifully. Beyond this, ignoring Tapu Lele, who is actually not a very easy OHKO, the deck is all non-EX attackers, and forces the opponent to actually slog through taking 6 KOs. Lets look at the card counts!

4-2-3 Ralts/Kirlia/Gallade: This is your primary attacker line, and is built accordingly. You suffice with only 3 Gallade because the deck runs a Rescue Stretcher and a Karen to recover parts of the line. I don't even like the Kirlia, or honestly Stage 1 Pokémon in general in these decks, but they are a necessary evil as there will be games where you get out more than 4 Gallade. They less the need for your Rare Candy, and actually let you function somewhat under Vileplume. With 8 Balls in the deck, it is easy to get everything into play quickly.

2-2 Octillery: Octillery works beautifully with Gallade's Ability. It also works with Mallow, a card I clearly love, making it very easy to draw into whatever you stack atop your deck. This makes it easy to reliably have access to your DCEs and Rare Candy. I've never seen a Stage 2 deck function so smoothly and consistently over the span of an entire game.

2 Tapu Koko: Tapu Koko is a great starter, and also just a really powerful attacker that fills a void this deck needs filled. Gallade has a powerful damage output...but it doesn't really OHKO everything, either. By spreading 20 damage everywhere, it translates into mid and late game OHKOs for Gallade. As a Basic, it also gives you something to do early on even when you do struggle to get set up a bit. This is easily my favorite Tapu Koko deck I've seen yet.

2 Tapu Lele GX: The deck tries to avoid giving up two prize KOs, but Tapu Lele is just too good to ignore. It is so good for consistency and lets the deck get away with thinner Supporter counts. On to of this, it actually is a great attacker since you have DCEs and Choice Bands.

4 Double Colorless Energy: The entire deck functions off of just DCEs for attacking. While this is far from the first deck to do this, it is likely the best at it. With access to Mallow and Octillery, as well as Gallade's additional digging, seeing a DCE is very reliable. With a pair of Special Charge, you'll be able to refill the deck readily even when you run out of them.

3 N: N is clearly a great Supporter, and in a deck with Octillery, it's disruptive nature ends up being primarily one sided. On top of this, you are a non-EX deck, which forces an opponent to take more KOs, and forces a game to go longer. This means you get more opportunities to stick Ns. To top it off, this is a deck full of moving parts...you really cannot afford to actually discard much with Sycamore, which you'll see the deck runs 0 copies of. As a result, N is also one of your better early game plays.

2 Brigette: Brigette is incredible in a deck full of non-EX Pokémon as it grabs 3 copies of anything in your deck. This makes sure you have access to a bench full of Ralts and Remoraids. I honestly feel like this card is so good I may want a third copy as you almost always want to open with it. With Tapu Lele and 4 Ultra Ball, it is probably fine as a 2 of as it gets much weaker as the game progresses.

2 Lysandre: Too good not to run in a deck. Having built in draw power on your Pokémon makes it even easier to spend your turns using utility Supporters. With Tapu Koko, it can be nice to strand Pokémon active and start spreading damage too.

1 Hex Maniac: As mentioned with Lysandre, Gallade and Octillery let you draw cards without the use of a Supporter, so you can afford to take Supporters off and lock down an opponent. A lot of decks in this format are weak to Hex Maniac, and this deck runs it well. While Vileplume isn't super popular, it is nice to have the ability to turn it off for a turn so you can use your Rare Candies.

3 Mallow: With Octillery, Mallow basically just adds 2 cards of your choice into your hand. This is the best Mallow deck I've seen yet. I actually am considering adding 1 Shaymin EX to the deck because of how good it is with Mallow...well, that and it is just a great card in general. I understand wanting to prevent giving up easy prizes, but with Choice Band, Sky Return is actually a totally reason set up attacker in the deck. It can easily bounce itself and you can promote a Tapu Koko. Anyways, Mallow really facilitates a deck that is very reliant on drawing a plentiful amount of Rare Candy and Double Colorless Energy over the course of a game.

1 Teammates: Teammates is similar to Mallow, only more situation, but it works under Ability lock too. When your deck is functioning as planned, it isn't really needed because of it's near overlap with Mallow, but it is a great safety net for weaker starts or for when you face down heavier disruption.

1 Prof. Kukui: Kukui is key to this deck because it lets Gallade hit 150 against non-EX/GX Pokémon, and the key 180 mark otherwise. I honestly feel like you may want a 2nd copy, but you can probably get by on using Tapu Koko spread if you are struggling to see your copy of the card. I haven't had any issues with 1 yet, even though my gut told me I wanted to try two.

1 Karen: You need to get back a lot of Gallades in a game, that is for certain. You also have the built in draw power to replenish your field even when you are burning a Supporter use on recovery. To top it off, the card is also a nice counter to Vespiquen. I don't see how Vespiquen ever beats you once you reset their discard pile of Pokémon. You force a grindy enough game and Gallade has enough HP that it seems like a longshot they can work around Karen ever.

4 VS Seeker: Standard

4 Ultra Ball/4 Level Ball: The deck wants redundancy in terms of Pokémon search. You have Brigette, but you want more. A full set of Ultra Ball is obvious, but with so many tiny Basic Pokémon in the deck, Level Ball is great too. Grabbing Kirlia and more importantly Octillery is just icing on the cake and really what justifies running all four copies of the card.

4 Rare Candy: Standard.

3 Choice Band: Choice Band is just such a powerful card, and one that works well on Gallade, as well as your back up attackers. It helps your deck hit key numbers and threaten OHKOs. I wouldn't be surprised if it was correct to run 4 copies of this card.

1 Field Blower: Field Blower is your catch-all answer to Stadiums and Tools. You actually don't really fret any of the popular Stadium cards, so I absolutely understand not playing any yourself. Tool-wise, getting rid of the rarely played Fighting Fury Belt can be important. Beyond that, there aren't a ton of specific situations you need Field Blower to deal with, but it is so versitile that it's uses at up. I like having the one copy of the card in the deck a lot.

1 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope: Every deck needs switching cards, and two is generally the accepted count. The original list ran 2 Float Stone, but I opted for 1 Float Stone 1 Escape Rope just because of how good this deck's toolbox is. You also can force them into a position where they can bring up something you can KO, or if they opt to "sacrifice" something, you can then promote Tapu Koko and start spreading and force them to be able to retreat their "dead weight" they tried to feed you. I'm sure the difference between the two counts is minimal, but I really have been impressed with Escape Rope in the format overall.

1 Rescue Stretcher: Alongside Karen, Stretcher just offers some more Pokémon recovery. I know I'm beating a dead horse by calling it a mid and late game wildcard, but it really is. Often I expect this to be a 3rd Tapu Koko or the 4th Gallade.

2 Special Charge: You only have 4 Energy in the deck, and you'll be stressing that count most games. You can actually probably get away with 1 Special Charge due to how the deck's draw engine works, but I don't mind two copies to be conserative. You end up using a Special Charge pretty much every game.

I tried not to make too many changes to the deck because I am sure I haven't had near as much experience with the deck as the deck's creator. From my assessment so far, the 2nd Special Charge, the Field Blower, the Teammates, and the Rescue Stretcher are all theoretically expendable. I'm not saying to cut them, namely because I'm not sure what I'd want to add in place of them, but those do seem to be the four "floating" spots in the deck.

This deck attacks the format in such a different way than anything else. It has no real exploitable weaknesses, and is just extremely grindy. Abusing all non-EX attackers is so powerful. Some decks get much weaker once they are on the map, and this is not one of those decks. I can easily see it being a sleeper hit going into the summer.

Raichu/Lyconroc

This is another deck that has gained some popularity, even if it hasn't had quite the success that a lot of the other newly emerging archetypes have. I really like the deck...I don't think it is any secret that I really like Sky Field decks in a land full of Tapu Lele-GX and Shaymin-EX. If Sudowoodo wasn't so popular...and with the decks being played right now, I honestly feel it is vastly over-represented ( I wouldn't be playing a copy in most decks I'd sleeve up. )...then this engine should be dominating the format. It lends itself to very powerful, explosive and proactive archetypes.

Raichu is just a powerful attacker, that gets by using only one energy attachment, and it can hit 210 damage with a Sky Field, a full bench, a Choice Band, and a Prof. Kukui. That isn't the easiest to pull off, but it isn't that difficult either. Lycanroc benefits greatly from being a Fighting type attacker, and it's Ability helps facilitate Raichu picking off juicy targets off of the bench. I should have mentioned this when discussing the card in my Rayquaza build, but Sky Field also incentives an opponent to bench more Pokémon as well, and that is nice and punishing due to Lycanroc's GX attack.

That said, lets look at the numbers.

4-3 Raichu: Raichu ends up being your primary attacker in a lot of matchups, so you want a substantial count. I don't have the 4th Raichu because I do have 2 Rescue Stretchers, and it has worked out pretty well so far.

3-2 Lycanroc GX: While there are certainly decks you want to focus on Lycanroc against, it gets a thinner line because as a GX Pokémon, it is a lot sturdier. Raichu goes down pretty fast with only 90 HP, where as Lycanroc takes some hits. Beyond this, Lycanroc takes multiple attachments to power up, so "swarming" with them doesn't really happen. The matchups where Lycanroc is good in are matchups where you don't need a ton of them to leverage their strength. None the less, with two Stretchers, it isn't that hard to turn a 3-2 line into a much more focused presence.

4 Shaymin EX/2 Tapu Lele GX: Not only is this the basic " Sky Field" engine that you see in Mega Rayquaza and Mega Gardevoir builds, but they are decent attackers in this deck as well. Sky Return with a Choice Band is a solid set up attack. Tapu Lele is clearly a stronger attacker than Shaymin, and something you end up resorting to frequently. This deck's supporting cast is actually similar to the Gallade build in that regard. With Choice Band and Kukui, a Tapu Lele can really put out some strong damage and it isn't always easy to OHKO either. Both of these cards are crucial towards making sure the deck actually sets up appropriately.

2 Tapu Koko: The promo Koko is great in this deck. It is a great starter, even if the free retreat matters less mid and late game as Raichu also has it. The spread damage adds up and really helps Raichu earn OHKOs later on. You also just want to have access to more benched Pokémon. The difference between this deck and the Gallade build is that while you do have access to a lot of non-EX attackers, you end up having to bench Shaymin EX in most games so you leave yourself vulnerable to giving up multiple 2 prize KOs as the game goes on anyways.

4 DCE/4 Strong Energy: All of the attackers want to use DCE, and the only Pokémon who really benefit off of "basic" Energy as the puppies, and at that point, it is just beneficial to play Strong Energy over Fighting Energy. Lycanroc's damage output doesn't really hit any key numbers as a result of them, but the "upgrade" is almost free.

2 Brigette: Like the Gallade deck, you want to fill your bench with a bunch of non-EX Pokémon early on, and Brigette is extremely great at doing that. Unlike the Gallade deck, this card continues to be of high value later into the game because this is a deck that wants to re-fill the bench as it's Pokémon get KOed, and it's Sky Fields get countered. Tapu Lele makes a somewhat situational card like Brigette much more pallatable in decks like this.

1 Teammates/1 Mallow: When you are trying to chain DCEs together, which this deck absolutely wants to do, you want these Supporters to be able to help enable that quest's completion. Since the deck's other game plan, centering around Lycanroc more, is less fragile, and also something you frequently pursue, I don't like going to overboard on these Supporters. A 1/1 split has been fine with 4 VS Seeker and a pair of Tapu Lele.

1 Lysandre: I'm fine with 1 copy of this card since we have a "full" Lycanroc line available. With 2 Rescue Stretcher and a 3-2 line, you have very reliable access to a "gust of wind" from the puppies, and two Lysandre ends up being a bit overkill.

1 Prof. Sycamore: Sycamore is a very dangerous card in this deck as your resources are all very important and very few of them are easy discards. You have to conserve your evolutions, your energy cards, and your Sky Fields. You still want a copy, the strength of it when you do want to use it is too strong, and you have Lele and VS Seekers, but I don't want more copies than that.

2 N: With Sycamore being worse, N ends up being your best early game raw "Draw" supporter. Also, with Lycanroc being a source of "Lysandre", the deck can actually line up Lycanroc + N plays in the late game which is really, really strong.

1 Prof. Kukui: You want to be able to push your Raichu into OHKO territory, it is one of the appeals of the card. With Choice Band, Tapu Koko bench damage, and this copy of Kukui, Raichu can do a tremendous amount of damage. Because of the demand of the deck...unlike Gallade, you do not have access to Octillery, and your set up demands a lot of replenishing, so you don't always have the time to take off your Supporters to play Kukui.

1 Hex Maniac: I'm honestly just a fan of 1 Hex Maniac in all of my decks at this point because of how good it is against so many decks, and it is so much more reliable now with Tapu Lele.

4 Ultra Ball/1 Level Ball: The four Ultra Balls are mandatory, and the Level Ball helps fill your bench with Basics but also can get you Raichu. Unlike the Gallade deck, this deck has less space, and it also can't convert a Level Ball into an Octillery, and thus more cards. I actually wouldn't hate a 1-1 Octillery line and a 2nd Level Ball in here, and that is an interesting divergence to explore.

4 Sky Field: Pretty mandatory in my eyes, but I've seen lists with just 3 by virtue of the deck both having a secondary game plan, and also because it really struggles to refill it's bench too many times.

3 Choice Band: Nothing exciting here, you burn through these cards pretty quickly. I wouldn't hate a 4th, but I'm realistic in that there are other cards I'd add first.

1 Float Stone/1 Escape Rope: We meet the "two switching cards" benchmark which I stand by in decks. Since the deck has a lot of free retreaters, I don't feel the need for the 3rd. I like Rope in this deck, as it lets you farm cheap bench KOs, and it's downside of occasionally rescuing their active Pokémon if you have to use it but also want to hit their attacker is mitigated by Lycanroc's Ability. The Koko play with Rope I mentioned before applies to this deck as well, where you can use Rope to prompt a good opening to switch into spreading damage.

2 Rescue Stretcher: This deck demands a heavy amount of recovery, and Stretcher is just such a great card. I wouldn't mind a 3rd copy of the card, or an awkward Dragonite EX just to really shore up the recovery some.

2 Special Charge: The deck is so reliant on DCE that you need to reliably be able to put them back into the deck. Even if you haven't "run out", you just want to increase the odds you draw copies by filling your deck's density of them. It also works nice with Strong Energy.

Overall this is a really powerful, proactive deck with good type coverage and a variety of ways to try to attack any given game. It suffers a bit from the weakness to Sudowoodo that Rayquaza does, but it's Lycanroc game is much stronger.

More lists!

Finally to close out the article, I do want to include a few bonus lists. I've tested against them far more than I've played with them, so I won't be going over the lists like I have with the three above. I just figured it would be better to include more lists than it would be to just omit them.

Waterbox

This is a variation of the deck that Israel Sosa had been using to success...the man knows his way around a Patch...I think it is a really powerful, aggressive and punishing deck, and one of the decks I really want to practice with coming up.

Zoroark Drampa

This is a variation of the deck that Daniel Altavilla has been on an absolute tear with recently, and the archetype which is hard to not consider a front runner for the best deck right now. ( At least until players adjust to it's presence, too. )

Metagross

Metagross is a deck that did really well in Madison, but didn't quite do as well in Mexico, so we'll see if it is more of a flash in the pan success or if it can actually adapt and keep up with decks that are now better prepared for some of the slower decks in the format.

Conclusion 

This format is shaping up to be wide open, and I absolutely love it. I'm always critical of things, so it is important that I am also complimentary when I think praise is in order. I've loved how the new Sun and Moon sets have impacted the game, and this is by far the most fun the game has been since early 2011, and it may actually be the most open in terms of viable decks since 2006, which is an impressive feat. I've got Grand Prix Columbus for Magic next weekend which has been taking up a reasonable amount of my testing time, but after I clearly win that event, I'm going deep into boot camp for...okay, I'm still going to call it US Nationals. I'm likely just going to play Mega Rayquaza because it is the deck I enjoy playing and the deck I want to play, but if I find anything really particularly appealing I will happily switch off of it. I look forward to seeing many of you in Indianapolis!

[+13] okko


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