Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

"Full Retaliation" - A League Cup Winning Report

Jose discusses the Gyarados deck that netted him a league cup win and reports on how the whole tournament went down.

01/31/2017 by Jose Marrero


Hello again 60cards fans! Today I am discussing my League Cup win with Gyarados and analyzing the deck as a whole. I'll give you a few more card options to think about for the deck so you can change the list to your own liking. I think Gyarados is one of the strongest decks in the format right now. Of course, there are simple techs you can play to counter it, such as Spinda and Absol. However, most people opt to not care about teching against it since they don't expect too many Gyarados decks, and to be honest, it's true. The deck was hyped up days before Georgia Regionals, and while there were a handful of people who teched for the matchup, there weren't that many people even playing the deck due to the hype and Spinda talk days before the event. Sure, this may have scared people into playing the deck like myself, Remember, the deck is a threat in the format only until Sun and Moon is officially legal for play because Decidueye GX hands down cripples it.

With that said, here is the list I decided to run in the League Cup that I ended up winning. As you will see, the list has a little of everything, which is what I love about it. The tournament had about 28 Masters (which meant Top 8 didn't get CP). We had 5 rounds with a top cut of 8. A lot of people have asked for my Texas Regionals list, which I'll be providing towards the end of the article, so be sure to take a look at it and let me know in the comments what you think. 


The general concept of this deck is to get Team Magma's Secret Base out while benching 1-3 Magikarp, depending on the matchup, to deal 90-210 damage. Now that you know the simplicity of the deck and what the deck wants to achieve, let's go over the deck as whole starting with the Pokémon. I went with a 4-3 line of Gyarados because I felt that the 4th Gyarados was too much: You don't want to start with too many in your hand; otherwise you may have to discard them.

Gyarados has an attack called Full Retaliation with a base of 30 damage which adds an extra 30 damage for each damage counter on your each of your Benched Magikarp. If you do the math, that means with 1 Benched Magikarp, Gyarados does 90 damage. With two Benched Magikarp, Gyarados is now doing 150 damage and with three Benched Magikarp, Gyarados is doing a whopping 210 damage for a single Double Colorless Energy. Because Gyarados is a non-EX that can deal so much damage makes it that much more of a threat. Gyarados also has an Ancient Trait called θ Double which allows 2 Pokémon Tools on the Pokémon with that trait.

Another Pokémon in the list is a 1-1 line of Octillery. Personally, I love this card in this deck. I would recommend playing Octillery if you don't already. If the opponent ignores Octillery, then it will hands-down win you games. Abyssal Hand making it so that you are immune to N is ridiculously game-changing. I've also added a Mr. Mime just in case I did go up against Spinda or Galvantula. It forces them to have Hex Maniac or Silent Lab out.

I know I said I hate adding EXs in this deck, however, Shaymin-EX can go back to the hand if need be and it's clutch against Pokémon with over 210 health since you can do 210 then Sky Return or vice versa. Shaymin-EX can also sneakily take the first prize against the mirror match because Magikarp only has 30 health anyway so if you go second you still have a chance of being up on prizes if you hit the right cards assuming you don't prize it.

The supporter count is pretty straightforward to ensure max consistency. There are 4 Sycamore and two N in case you do have those hands where you have too many resources to Sycamore away. Or to N the opponent late game since you have Octillery to help refresh your own hand. Teammates is just crazy good in this deck because once Gyarados gets KO'd, you only need a couple cards to get a revenge KO back; whether it's a Buddy Buddy Rescue to get Magikarp or a Team Magma's Secret Base or Double Colorless Energy or whatever. Odds are you should have the other pieces of the puzzle to attack with another Gyarados for lethal damage, especially if Octillery is still on the board. I always fear only playing one Lysandre because it can be prized or you may never draw it in time unless you Teammates for it, so I play two in almost all my lists.


Four Puzzle of Time which in this deck are phenomenal: Being able to get back any two cards from your discard is too good not to play especially since Teammates can search for two Puzzles of Time. If you have one Puzzle of Time already in hand then Teammates essentially makes it so you can get three pieces since you can Teammates for, let's say, a Double Colorless Energy and a Puzzle of Time.

Remember if you have one Puzzle of Time in the discard already and you only need 1 piece of the puzzle to do what you have to do you can always Puzzle of Time the discarded Puzzle of Time and something else. This way you get back at least three cards instead of two or three depending on how many Puzzle of Time you had to discard and waste.

The deck also runs three Buddy Buddy Rescue. I used to run two in my Texas Regionals list, however, I see lots of lists running four. I think four is overkill since you do not want to open with them. Buddy Buddy Rescue is a must in this deck for a number of reasons. Once Magikarps are in the discard you will need to find a way to get them back to fuel Gyarados's attack, and Buddy Buddy Rescue is the perfect answer even though your opponent also gets to chose a Pokémon to get back, but that usually is irrelevant.

I see lists not running any Level Ball and just four Dive and Ultra. I personally am a fan of Level Balls in this deck because it can search out Magikarp, Mr. Mime, and Octillery lines without having any drawback. For those that have played this deck before, you know how crucial Ultra Balling away resources away can be. Usually, I would discard supporters or either Acro Bike or Trainers' Mails. Dive Ball is a must in the deck for sure since it grabs your main attacker and Octillery. I added two Ultra Ball mainly for Shaymin-EX, but at the same time, they can come in handy if you need to draw more with Octillery. The Float Stone can definitely go on Octillery and the other on either Mr. Mime or Shaymin-EX in case you don't open with a Magikarp and need that turn two Full Retaliation. You don't necessarily need to play Lucky Helmet to have success with this deck, as you will see in my Texas Regionals list. But they are very good if you stumble across them since they force the opponent to give you extra draw or Lysandre around Gyarados, and if that's the case, your Gyarados is living.

I ran just two Acro Bike because once you find them they do come in handy especially if you have a single Puzzle of Time in your hand. At least this way you can chose what card to discard and grab from the top three.

Now we get into the one of Items starting with Super Rod. I love this in the deck especially against Parallel City or when you have multiple Magikarp or Gyarados in the discard. You really don't want to have to Puzzle of Time for Pokémon unless you absolutely have to because you have Buddy Buddy Rescue and Super Rod to do that for you. Town Map is so that in case you prize Magikarps, you need to be able to get them out of the prizes as soon as possible. Special Charge isn't a must in the deck, but I personally love it since it gets your special energy back without being forced to use Puzzle for them. Now, putting back two Double Colorless Energy can be searched out with Teammates. Try and not use Puzzle of Time unless you have to because eventually, they will do wonders. Lastly, we have four Team Magma's Secret Base which is the bread and butter of the deck. 

Other card options


This card helps against M Mewtwo-EX/Garbodor decks (if they don't get Garbodor out of course). You can keep using Buddy Buddy Rescue to bring back Mew-EX so as long as you take the first two prizes you should win. However, you don't need Mew-EX to beat M Mewtwo-EX because it has 210 health, meaning Full Retaliation can one shot it. Parallel City plus Garbodor can put in some work, but if you can keep spamming Teammates you should be fine. Mew-EX also makes it so you don't have to attack with Gyarados. Usually, you don't want to bench EXs since you want to play the six prize game which is why Gyarados is so strong.


This card has an ability called Shadow Ear which says you can move 1 damage counter from 1 of your Pokémon to 1 of your opponent's Pokémon once per turn. This ability can help against the mirror match, but more importantly, it can help KO EXs with 220 or more health. Because this card is an EX that you can't discard or put back into your hand once dropped on the bench, it's more vulnerable to Lysandre which is the main reason I don't like to play it.


If you expect a ton of Yveltal, M Rayquaza-EX, or Pidgeot-EX decks then Zebstrika can do wonders in these matchups. I dropped Zebstrika because I knew Yveltal decks were starting to see less and less play, as well as Pidgeot-EX. M Rayquaza-EX gained more fame, however that's already a good matchup for Gyarados anyway.

Pokémon Ranger:

This deck has no answer to both Glaceon-EX or Giratina-EX. Pokémon Ranger hands-down beats Glaceon-EX, however against Giratina-EX you can still easily just lose because they are denying your energy and stadiums at the same time. Glaceon-EX doesn't so it's easier. If you expect a handful of Glaceon-EX then I recommend adding a Pokémon Ranger. It can also be clutch against Jirachi if need be.

Hex Maniac:

I used to play Hex Maniac, but to be honest, I rarely used it and when I did it was irrelevant so I ended up dropping it. Sure, it can come in handy against Greninja or in random situations. However, it's still a rough matchup nonetheless.

Giovanni's Scheme:

Because Gyarados maxes out at 210 damage, it can't one-hit KO anything that has more than 210 health. Giovanni's Scheme can come in the clutch, however, most of the time you are wanting to Teammates for some of the pieces of the puzzle to have an attack that turn.

Pokémon Catcher:

Because Gyarados can take quick KOs, Pokémon Catcher is pretty good. This way you can also use a supporter for the turn. If you hit them then they are game-changing for sure, especially against some of your tougher matchups, such as Glaceon-EX. You can Pokémon Catcher around it then Lysandre it back up for the KO assuming they have a benched Pokémon of course.

Escape Rope:

This card is great to get cheap KOs on your opponent's bench. Odds are, whatever they bring up you should be taking a KO on because dealing 210 is a lot of damage. Escape Rope is extremely nice for when you have two prizes left and your opponent's active Pokémon is a non-EX. Escape Rope can also be reusable with Puzzle of Time which is a nice option to have. Another scenario similar to Pokémon Catcher when facing Glaceon-EX; you can Escape Rope and Lysandre it up to KO it.

 Tournament Report

Round 1 - Justin Kulas - Regice/Glaceon-EX/Jolteon-EX/Garbodor: L (0-1-0)

I knew Justin played Glaceon-EX which I had no answer to so if he ever got it attacking I pretty much knew I was done for. The only way to do damage to Glaceon-EX in my list was Shaymin-EX. However, only doing 30 damage at a time wasn't enough to take Glaceon-EX down. Justin plays first and opens with Jolteon-EX and attaches a Lightning Energy to it. I take my first turn of the game and simply do what Gyarados does and bench a couple Magikarp and pass the turn. Justin proceeds to N both of us to 6 and Justin finds two Max Elixir and hits both as well as an energy attachment for the turn to start attacking with Glaceon-EX on turn 2. At this point I know I lost but I kept fighting anyway. Eventually, I get down to 4 prizes as does Justin get's down to just 2. But at this point I know I can still win because Justin has two Jolteon-EX on board. However, Justin starts setting up two Jolteon-EX to KO back to back Gyarados to win. I notice this and I'm like okay once he attacks with the first Jolteon-EX and goes down to 1 prize I can hopefully find 1 of my two N and N him to 1 and take the revenge KO to go down to 2 prizes then win the following turn if he bricks. Mind you the benched Jolteon-EX had a Double Colorless Energy so all he needed was a Lightning to win. I, unfortunately, whiff a way to N him so all I can do his KO the active Jolteon-EX as Justin has the Lightning in hand to take the game. Even though Justin locked me with Glaceon-EX turn 2 I still could have won. All in all, it was a good and close game.

Round 2 - Chrissy Johnson - Vileplime Box: W (1-1-0)

I start first and start setting up. My opponent opened with Glaceon-EX and immediately I sigh. Chrissy proceeds to attach a Double Colorless Energy on to her active Glaceon-EX and dumps her hand down to 0 to get a turn 1 Vileplume. Her field is literally just active DCE Glaceon-EX and a benched Vileplume so at this point I know I'm done for if she finds an energy to attack next turn but she's in top deck mode. I take my second turn of the game and hit her Glaceon-EX for 90 and pass the turn. Chrissy proceeds to top deck a Shaymin-EX for 6. Once I saw she topdecked Shaymin-EX I knew it was over. However, on some miracle, she whiffed an energy and a draw supporter so she instead Ninja Boys the Glaceon-EX away into Beedrill-EX and removes two of my Tools. I simply take the KO on the Beedrill-EX and never looked back as she drew pass for 4-5 turns straight as I take the game.

Round 3 - M Rayquaza-EX/Raichu: W (2-1-0)

This matchup is fairly simple even if your trading two Gyarados for one M Rayquaza-EX. If they take 20 damage from Team Magma's Secret Base then it obviously makes for an even easier matchup since then you can one hit KO M Rayquaza-EX. Raichu can take a Gyarados out but then it just get's revenged right back pretty easily. Not much else to say. This matchup should always be in Gyarados's favor unless they play Spinda.

Round 4 - M Gardevoir-EX (Despair Ray): W (3-1-0)

This matchup is even easier than M Rayquaza-EX because M Gardevoir-EX has exactly 210 health which is just enough to get one shotted by Full Retaliation if you have enough Magikarps. Again Spinda or Absol makes the matchup troublesome.

Round 5 - Jaxon Greer - Turbo Darkrai-EX: ID (3-1-1)

We knew all x-1-1's were good for Top 8 so we just IDed even though I was confident in the matchup. I end swiss at 4th seed and now have to face up against Vespiquen/Vileplume which honestly is a 50/50 matchup. It pretty much goes down to whoever takes the first prize. However, Gyarados is easier to get back to back KO's with.

Top 8 after swiss

Top 8 - JD Motta - Vespiquen/Zebstrika: WW 

Because Gyarados only needs a single Magikarp on the bench to one hit KO a Vespiquen, it was going to be easier for me to take revenge KO's. Game one JD actually takes the first KO so I know at this point I might actually lose. JD was also smart enough not to bench any Shaymin-EX. However, in game one JD whiffs a turn of KOing my Gyarados which is enough for me to take the prize lead as I never missed a beat after that so I take game one. Multiple Teammates makes it so that you should almost never miss a revenge KO against Vespiquen/Zebstrika since you don't need much. Game two is pretty similar with JD yet again taking the first KO. But late game came around and all JD's Vespiquen's and Revitalizers were in the discard so as long as I don't use too many Buddy Buddy Rescue's to get him back attackers I should be fine and that's exactly what I did. I just used Puzzle of Time to get back Gyarados lines so that I don't bring back his Vespiquen lines for him. I take the series 2-0 even though both games were really really close and down to the wire which is how this matchup should go.

Top 4 - Jaxon Greer - Turbo Darkrai-EX: WW

I knew my opponent didn't play Spinda, Enhanced Hammers, or Parallel City so I was very comfortable in this matchup. Game one and two are basically the same with me taking KO after KO and a couple two-shots on Darkrai-EX, but there were times where my opponent missed one-shots on my Gyarados, and if this happens then Darkrai-EX is definitely done for.

Finals - Franco Puertas-Takahashi - Rainbow Road: Scooped to me

Franco and I drove to the event together so he just scooped to me since he figured the extra 10 points might benefit me more in the long run. I played Mr. Mime which helps against Galvantula, forcing the opponent to find Hex Maniac, otherwise, without Galvantula the matchup is a cake walk. This win now puts me at 269 CP which is more than half way to the invite. Still, I have ways to go but as long as I get CP from every event I've done, which I have, I should be able to clinch my 5th invite eventually. I've gone to 4 League cups so far and my finishes are 1/2/4/4 which means I cut them all.

Below is a video by The Chaos Gym with the list I played for Texas Regionals as well as the Dallas League Cup where I finished in Top 4 losing to Jimmy Pendarvis's M Gardevoir-EX deck with a Spinda tech. Last minute before Texas Regionals I actually dropped one Octillery for a 2nd Teammates. As I said I made Top 64 with a record of 6-2-1. My two losses were against Xerneas/Giratina-EX and Raichu/Bats which both are basically auto losses because Giratina-EX denies Double Colorless attachments and Bats take free prizes on Magikarps while Raichu one shots Gyarados because of weakness. My tie was against Vespiquen/Zebstrika since it's a 50/50 matchup nonetheless. Game 3 I was up 3 prizes but time was called or else I would have taken it. Following Texas Regionals/Cup I played the deck once again at another League Cup where I placed 2nd. The changes then were -1 Zebstrika for a Giratina Promo and of course -1 Octillery for a 2nd Teammates as I mentioned already.

Closing Thoughts

Well, there you have it guys. I'll have one more article this month, so stay tuned for when it's published. With that said, don't forget to check out The Chaos Gym on YouTube and Twitch for updates and player interviews, as well as live streaming from Grafton Roll. Good luck at upcoming tournaments if you decide to play the deck. Also be sure to check out Team ARG Pokémon page on Facebook for decklists and interviews with some great players. If you have any questions about the list or deck in general then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook and 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, or if you have any other deck ideas and want to see an analysis on it, then, by all means, post it and I'll take a look. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!



[+14] okko


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