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Jose Marrero

2017 ARG Invitational Top 8 Gyarados Tournament Report

Jose discusses his Top 8 finish with Gyarados at the ARG Invitational this past weekend in Philly.

08/17/2017 by Jose Marrero

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Hello, 60cards readers! Worlds is quickly creeping on us and because of this, I want to go over my performance at the ARG Invitational last Saturday. I ended up playing Gyarados since it has been one of my pet decks this past season. Before the Invitational last Friday I actually played in the 3 v 3 tournament which my other 2 teammates were Grafton Roll and Azul Garcia Griego. I played M Rayquaza-EX/Metal Grafton played Greninja and Azul played Drampa-GX/Garbodor. We had about 17 or 18 teams with 5 rounds and a Top 4 cut. We ultimately made it to the Top 4 where the other 3 teams agreed to just split the prizes which we all did.

The 3 v 3 tournament was a lot of fun and coaching was actually allowed once we had finished our individual game first. It was cool since all 6 of us who stayed in the hotel room were on 2 of the 4 teams in Top 4 which was awesome. Moving to Saturday's main event I decided to switch it up since I only saw 1 Decidueye-GX deck in the 3 v 3 tournament out of about 50+ players. So I went with Gyarados and I also convinced Grant to play it as well although his list was different than mine. In the end, I made Top 8 where I lost to Jon Eng the eventual winner playing Espeon-GX/Garbodor and Grant lost in Top 4 to Josh Marking playing Decidueye-GX/Vileplume. So for this next article, I'll be going over the Gyarados list I piloted to a Top 8 finish as well as go over my matchups at the 2017 ARG Invitational.


I love playing this deck so much and every time I've played it aside from one League Cup where I conceded to people since I had two wins already I performed well with at. For those of you that aren't familiar with the concept of this deck, I'll quickly go over what the deck wants to achieve. First, we want to look at Gyarados's first attack, Full Retaliation which is what you want to be attacking with and the main purpose of the deck's successfulness. For a single Double Colorless Energy Gyarados's attack, Full Retaliation has a base of 30 damage and then adds an additional 30 damage for each damage counter on each of your Benched Magikarp. Meaning since Magikarp only has a measly 30 hit points means it can only have two damage counters on it maxed and because you can have three Magikarp with damage on them on the bench means you can max out at 210 damage without damage modifiers. This means each additional Magikarp adds 60 damage and if you were to prize any Magikarp then that's 60 less damage you are doing per prized Magikarp. So prizing just one Magikarp puts Full Retaliation's damage out put to a base 150 which still isn't that bad since 150 damage can take a lot of relevant KO's. Now brings me to Gyarados's double trait which allows it to have up to two Tools attached to it. This trait is great on Gyarados because you can have two Choice Band attached to it making your damage that much more powerful. Even just one Choice Band can make Full Retaliation go up to 240 damage which is enough to KO every Pokémon EX and GX aside from Metagross-GX and a couple other Pokémon.

However, if you add that second Choice Band Full Retaliation is now doing 270 damage which is enough to KO every EX and GX in the current game. Now that we know what Gyarados can do you may be asking well how do we put damage counters on our own Magikarp? That's a great question which newer players may have and the answer to that question is Team Magma's Secret Base which puts two damage counters whenever any player puts a Basic Pokémon from his or her hand onto their Bench. Now you know how to fuel Full Retaliation's damage out put so let's go over some of the other Pokémon inclusions. Octillery is a staple in this deck because it's just an overall great card to freely draw into what you need every turn. Some players opt to go with a 2-2 line, however, I think a 1-1 line is good enough. If anything I would go 2-1 instead of a 2-2. Both Remoraid and Octillery can be searched out with all three balls (Dive, Level, and Ultra) which is nice. Mr. Mime's inclusion was strictly for Tapu Koko but also useful against Spinda because Tapu Koko can be used on the first turn of the game as can Spinda which Machoke takes a turn to get going. Now Giratina is only strictly for the Greninja match up more specifically to shut off Giant Water Shuriken. They can shut Giratina off by playing Silent Lab which is another reason why Machoke has a slight advantage but because it's a stage one makes it less playable than the others. Both Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX are just for insurance purposes in case Octillery isn't able to get on board the board. Shaymin-EX is actually good in the mirror since it can take a turn one KO on an opposing Magikarp while going back into your hand. Tapu Lele-GX can do the same thing except it once it's on the board it's going to stay there which is then a huge liability especially in the mirror. I changed a couple more cards since my 9th place Anaheim Regionals list.

As you can see I dropped a Lysandre for a Guzma and the reason being is that I wanted both options and because I'm playing two Float Stone anyway meant that Guzma shouldn't really affect what I bring up which it didn't. I know Grant played three Professor Sycamore and three N while I played one more Professor Sycamore and one less N. It's just a personal preference and I much rather have the fourth Professor Sycamore. Two Teammates should be a staple in every Gyarados build. I tried one and I immediately wanted to go up to two and its stuck ever since. Magikarps have only 30 hit points so they can be KOed by literally anything making Teammates that much better because you can spam them every turn and get exactly what you need to take revenge KO's. I went down to three VS Seeker because I hate opening with them and in a deck like Gyarados, I feel like you already have so many resources where you don't need to play four especially because of Puzzle of Time. For my ball counts, I played all three of them. I see some lists playing just Ultra Ball and Dive Balls which is fine however I love playing a heavy Level Ball count in Gyarados because you're less likely to discard resources if you were to play a heavy Ultra Ball count. Sure Level Ball can't search out Gyarados, Shaymin-EX, Tapu Lele-GX or Giratina but that's fine since you don't want to use them early aside from Gyarados anyway and you should draw into them at some point. Level Ball can search out Mr. Mime which is nice. Having the scenario where you whiff a Gyarados because you drew Level Ball is extremely are and I don't think it happened to me until this day and I've played Gyarados a lot this past season.

The deck used to play Buddy-Buddy Rescue which let both players put any one Pokémon from their discard into their hand. However, with the release of Rescue Stretcher, it took Buddy-Buddy Rescue's spot entirely because Rescue Stretcher gives you two options which the first did exactly what Buddy-Buddy Rescue did except your opponent doesn't get a Pokémon back just you. If it just read this effect then Rescue Stretcher would still replace Buddy-Buddy Rescue but it doesn't stop there. The second option of Rescue Stretcher says you can shuffle any three Pokémon from your discard back into your deck basically meaning Rescue Stretcher has a built in Super Rod as well in a sense which is perfect in a deck like Gyarados since sometimes you want to shuffle back three Pokémon. Last minute I dropped a VS Seeker for a fourth Choice Band since I expected a good amount of Metagross-GX and Gardevoir-GX decks which there were. I wanted to have them in hand already when needed most. I didn't really want to have to Teammates for them. Two Trainers' Mail I feel is ideal since the deck still functions nicely just with two. I know some players played three or even four which is fine too but I wanted to make room for other important cards. One Special Charge and also a staple since you need to get back Double Colorless Energy at some point. With Puzzle of Time, you should never run dry of energy. You can go with Town Map or Rotom Dex but I prefer Town Map since it allows you to chose what prizes you want. 

Other card options

Machoke GUR:

Some players ended up playing this card. I used to play it, however, I still think you lose to Decidueue-GX and Espeon-GX making it not as great as a card since it's a stage one. Both Grant and I went with both Mr. Mime and Giratina instead this was we have quick counters to both Tapu Koko and Greninja. Machoke is still viable since it counters things Mr. Mime and Giratina can't such as Oricorio.

Professor Kukui:

I ended up playing four Choice Band instead since I normally just use Teammates or Professor Sycamore as my supporter of choice. Professor Kukui can still make certain numbers easier to hit so it's not a bad option since I did play it in my 9th place Anaheim Regionals list.

Hex Maniac:

I know AJ played this card in his list. I'm not a big fan of Hex Maniac in Gyarados since there isn't that much relevance to it other than maybe Greninja which you can just play Giratina for that matchup. I can't ever really see a scenario where I would use Hex Maniac over let's say a Teammates or a draw supporter. If so you are probably already winning anyway.

Rotem Dex:

Grant swears this card is better than Town Map which I don't agree on. Grant played it in his Top 4 list over Town Map. Rotem Dex is risky to me since you can put back, even more, Magikarps in your prizes or other important cards. I mean sure you can play around it and not make Magikarps potentially go back into the prizes simply by having them all on the field, hand, or discard. However, I like Town Map better because you get to choose other non-Magikarp targets.

Field Blower:

I don't like this card in Gyarados at all because to me it feels like a dead card. Sure it'll come in handy against Garbotoxin but that scenario isn't that common and you don't care about Fighting Fury Belt or other stadiums because Gyarados can one hit KO anything and the decks plays four stadiums and four Puzzle of Time to get them back if needed.

Escape Rope:

You can drop a Float Stone for an Escape Rope if you want. Honestly, it doesn't matter too much since it's likely that the Float Stones won't last too long if people are playing multiple Field Blowers. However, because I play Guzma I personally want to have two Float Stone instead. Escape Rope can still catch an opponent off guard sometimes to where they are forced to bring up an EX or GX making the prize trade in your favor.

Acro Bike:

I used to play a couple Acro Bikes but now I don't think you need them and if you saw any of the four Gyarados lists from the ARG Invitational you can see that none of them played Acro Bikes. This shows you that the deck performs well with out them.

Tournament Report

Round 1 - Metagross-GX/Necrozma-GX: WW (1-0-0)

This match was actually streamed on one of ARG's Twitch accounts, ARGlive2 if you want to check it and all the other games out.

Round 2 - Ralph Rice - Gardevoir-GX/Octillery: LWL (1-1-0)

I knew Gyarados has the advantage in this matchup. I played four Choice Band specifically for the Gardevoir-GX and Metagross-GX matchups. Game one I prized Remoraid which was unfortunate so I lose a close game since I believe I whiffed a crucial KO at one point. In game two, however, I was looking pretty good and never missed a beat. In game three I was doing well but then two turns in a row I whiff KO's and eventually my opponent was able to catch back up on prizes but it was too late for me since I was at three prizes and my opponent was now at one prize so all I could do is go down to one prize after taking KO's on two Gardevoir-GX and a Gallade. My opponent had a third Gardevoir-GX ready to go so I knew I was done for. Missing two KO's in a row cost me big time as you can see I only needed one prize more. I could have only afforded to whiff one KO but I missed two so Ralph was able to best me 2-1.

Round 3 - Golisopod-GX/Zoroark: LWW (2-1-0)

My opponent flipped over Whimpod and I was praying that it wasn't paired with Decidueye-GX and to my relief, it wasn't so I knew I could win this now. Game one I didn't draw too well however it was really close even though my opponent played Tapu Koko which was annoying since every turn I was trying to play around it. It only ended up taking one prize but because my opponent had Super Roded back into the deck meant that I still had to play around it which lead to some questionable plays which ultimately lead to a loss. I knew to play better in the next two games and that's exactly what I did. I believe in game three my opponent drew very poorly though so I made the 2-1 comeback.

Round 4 - Gardevoir-GX/Octillery: WW (3-1-0)

I lost to this deck round two however I know I should have won those games because Gyarados can trade one prize for two prizes. As you can see I 2-0ed my opponent this time because Gyarados did what it was intended to do. To take big KO's with a big fish. I take two convincing games and move onto round five.

Round 5 - Volcanion: WW (4-1-0)

Not much to say here since this matchup is an auto-win. My opponent tried going aggro Ho-Oh-GX however it wasn't enough because Gyarados can still one hit KO them. Both games were basically the same. Unfortunate for my opponent but I'll take what I can get.

Round 6 - Michael Pramawat - Vespiquen/Zoroark: WLW (5-1-0)

This match was basically the win and in match since we could ID the last two rounds. Game one was really close since this matchup is pretty much 50-50 although I still think it's slightly favored for Gyarados. I was able to take the first prize and from there I never looked back. In game two, however, I was forced to play Tapu Lele-GX down and Michael took advantage of that and KOed it pretty quickly and because of this I was down a prize and so we moved onto game three. I play first and do what Gyarados does and pass the turn. Michael takes a turn one KO on my active Magikarp with a Tapu Lele-GX and I then revenge KO it on my second turn of the game and from here I know I pretty much have won the match as long as I don't whiff a KO from here on out. Unfortunately for Michael though he prized all three of his Professor Sycamore which led to a faster victory since he scooped by turn four I believe.

Round 7 - Jon Eng - Espeon-GX/Garbodor: ID (5-1-1)

Jon and I knew 17 points is where we wanted to be at since it was a Top 16 cut and not Top 8 cut so we both took the ID.

Round 8 - Alexander Holtz - Gardevoir-GX/Octillery: ID (5-1-2)

Again we both knew most 17 pointers were making Top 16 so we agreed to ID.

Top 16 - AJ Broski - Gyarados/Octillery: WW

Both these games were very close and down to the wire with both AJ and I getting down to one prize a piece. Game one I play first which in the Gyarados mirror is huge however I was forced to play down a Tapu Lele-GX to keep me in the game. AJ and I are trading KO's back and forth and if at some point AJ is able to KO my Tapu Lele-GX then he will win because he will be up a prize. AJ didn't play any EX or GX but instead went with a 2-2 Octillery line so I knew I could only take one prize at a time. Eventually I'm at one prize and AJ is at two and fortunately for me, AJ is unable to KO my Tapu Lele-GX on the bench so I take a very close game one. In the next game AJ plays first, however, I was still able to take the first prize but because I did I was forced to put Shaymin-EX down which AJ knew he had to KO as fast as possible before I Sky Return it back into my hand while taking a Magikarp KO at the same time. AJ knew this and KOed Shaymin-EX on the following turn and by this point, I know I've lost since I'm now down a prize. I still play it out and late game comes around where we both are now at one prize a piece. But before I take my second to last prize I start counting AJ's resources only to find that all four of his Rescue Stretchers were gone a long with three Puzzle of Time and there was already a 2-2 Gyarados line in the discard so I knew I had the game in the bag since AJ had no way to take his final prize so I take the series 2-0.

In the next game AJ plays first, however, I was still able to take the first prize but because I did I was forced to put Shaymin-EX down which AJ knew he had to KO as fast as possible before I Sky Return it back into my hand while taking a Magikarp KO at the same time. AJ knew this and KOed Shaymin-EX on the following turn and by this point, I know I've lost since I'm now down a prize. I still play it out and late game comes around where we both are now at one prize a piece. But before I take my second to last prize I start counting AJ's resources only to find that all four of his Rescue Stretchers were gone a long with three Puzzle of Time and there was already a 2-2 Gyarados line in the discard so I knew I had the game in the bag since AJ had no way to take his final prize so I take the series 2-0.

Top 8 - Jon Eng - Espeon-GX/Garbodor: LL

These games finished pretty quickly since Jon went first game one. Jon was able to get an Espeon-GX with a Psychic Energy on the first turn and if you're a Gyarados player then you know how troublesome that is especially if you're going second and staring down a potential turn two Divide GX. I take my first turn of the game and I have two options. I can either Guzma up something other than Espeon-GX this way Jon is less likely to get the turn two Divide GX off or I can Professor Sycamore and find more Magikarps. Mind you if I did the Guzma play I would only have one Magikarp out. I eventually did the Guzma play because Jon already had a Float Stone on the active Trubbish so all he needed was a Double Colorless to Divide GX and because I used Guzma on a Tapu Lele-GX it meant he needed a way to retreat out plus the Double Colorless. Jon takes his second turn of the game and plays another Tapu Lele-GX from hand and brings up my lone Magikarp with a Double Colorless Energy on it with his own Guzma and I just concede the game because it was basically over from there so I scooped on turn two. 

Game two was somewhat longer, however, Divide GX did go off taking two Magikarps out but eventually, a swarm of Garbodor was able to overpower me since I was down on prizes so early so Jon takes a convincing 2-0 over me. It's Jon's first year as a Master and he played really well which in the end he won the event which was awesome to see so shout out to him. So I finished the ARG Invitational in Top 8 and took home a nice Top 8 playmat along with $250 cash. In the 3 v 3 tournament on Friday we all took home $83 in store credit which I used to buy one SR Choice Band, SR Rescue Stretcher, FA Darkrai-EX and a Marshadow-GX because why not. The experience along with having an awesome time with friends made the trip well worth it even if I didn't win anything. 

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on my Top 8 finish at the ARG Invitational this past weekend. Going into Day 1 of Worlds I now expect players to add Oricorio and Tapu Koko back into their decks given that there were 4 Gyarados decks in Top 16 of the ARG Invitational with 3 of them in Top 8. With Jon Eng's win with Espeon-GX/Garbodor, it might make players want to play that more over the Drampa-GX variant. Unfortunate since Gyarados is one of my favorite decks to play. Decidueye-GX based decks also may see an increase due to the dominance Gyarados showed at the ARG Invitational. Then again Worlds will have all kinds of players from every part of the World so maybe the meta may not even be as expected.

But for now, I'm not too sure if Gyarados is a safe Day 1 play anymore. For Day 1 of Worlds, you can only afford to take 2 losses which for Gyarados you may hit 2 Decidueye-GX and 1 other deck that may have 1 of the other counters in it. However, if not then Gyarados can easily get you to Day 2 if you hit the right matchups. You can still beat the decks with Oricorio and Tapu Koko it's mainly Decidueye-GX and Espeon-GX that's troublesome. Overall Gyarados is still a really strong contender going into Worlds you just have to pray you dodge enough Decidueye-GX. If you see me at Worlds this week be sure to come say hi.

Like always, if you haven't already, check out The Chaos Gym on YouTube and Twitch for updates and player interviews, as well as live streaming from Grafton Roll and Rahul Reddy. If you want to help support my team, be sure to check out Team ARG's Pokémon page on Facebook, Team ARG Pokémon-TCG for tons of decklists from great players. My Twitter handle is down below if you want to follow me.
If you have any questions about this list or Team ARG, then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook. I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As usual, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, don't hesitate to give me ideas down below, and I'll consider them. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!

-Twitter @Jose_MarreroTCG

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