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Isaiah  Bradner

The “Philly Special”: A report on the Shining Lugia/Malamar list that won Seniors

Hello 60 cards readers! It’s Isaiah Bradner here to talk about the list that I used to win the Philadelphia Regionals in the Senior Division. . .

09/24/2018 by Isaiah Bradner

Hello 60 cards readers! It’s Isaiah Bradner here to talk about the list that I used to win the Philadelphia Regionals in the Senior Division. It was my version of the "Philly Special". Below I will talk about why I played Shining Lugia/Malamar and then I will share my list along with a breakdown of every match that I played in route to the Regional Championship.

The “Philly Special”: A report on the Shining Lugia/Malamar List that Won Seniors

Hello 60 cards readers! It’s Isaiah Bradner here to talk about the list that I used to win the Philadelphia Regionals in the Senior Division. Some of you may remember the trick play that the Philadelphia Eagles used to shock the New England Patriots right before halftime in the last Super Bowl. The play was called the “Philly Special” and many analysts call it the “one of the gutsiest plays in Super Bowl history”. While I wouldn’t say it was the gutsiest play ever, I do think that Shining Lugia/Malamar was my best attempt at calling a “Philly Special." Below I will talk about why I played Shining Lugia and then I will share my list along with a breakdown of my matches in route to the Regional Championship.

Why Shining Lugia/Malamar?

In the weeks leading up to the tournament, I was set on playing a Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt list very similar to the one posted in my last article. But, as my testing progressed, I began to feel more and more uncomfortable with the Baby Buzzwole/Weavile/Shrine matchup; a matchup I expected to see two or three times on day one. This discomfort led to me and a friend (Tye Pellecchia) brainstorming decks that could beat Baby Buzz/Shrine, Ray, and Bulu, while standing a chance vs Buzz/Roc and Zoroark. After about 30 minutes of theorymoning, here was the initial list we settled on: (Note, the Tapu Lele promo in the original list should be a Psychic one.)

Initial List

The theory behind the deck was that the high Lugia count would enable you to out-trade Baby Buzz after you go off of the Sledgehammer turn.  In addition, you hit almost every relevant Pokémon in format for 120 and in today’s meta there wasn’t much that could take a OHKO on you. If there was any particular matchup you were worried about, you could easily tech for it. After about 30 games of testing and a few changes to the list, I felt confident enough to sleeve it up. Here is the list I ended up playing (and winning) the event with:

Champion list

Changes from the original list:

-1 Lele Promo +1 Mysterious Treasure, -1 Choice Band +1 Mimikyu

List Breakdown:

3 Lugia/1 Deoxys: Leading up to the tournament, many people were playing two Lugia/two Deoxys, or cutting down the Deoxys to 1. I opted with this count of attackers for many reasons. Because of how I built the deck, I wanted to start attacking on turn two of every game, and not stop until the game was over. Three Lugia avoided difficulty if one was prized vs Baby Buzz Garb, and Deoxys was a Treasure-able Lugia that hit Necrozma-GX and Buzzwole for weakness.

4/3 Malamar: This line of Malamar is perfect for the deck, as you only generally get two out. Two allows you to easily refuel every attack in your deck, and allows you to hit 190 with Prismatic Burst. I played four Inkay to maximize my chance to hit them turn one, and to allow me to get two out with bad prizes.

2 Tapu Koko: While many people played 3 or 4 Koko to attempt to spread early game, I found in testing that the math rarely mattered, and more Lugia/Deoxys were more effective at putting on pressure. I still played two because you always want one on bench after a knockout in order to use your Malamar.

1 Mimikyu: Mimikyu was put in as a tech against Ray and Bulu, but it helped in various situations throughout the tournament. The card's main function is to kill a Vikavolt, Bulu, or Dhelmise with no damage; but it is also useful in fringe matchups such as Solgaleo and Ho-Oh.

1 Necrozma-GX: Playing a GX might seem counterintuitive in a deck like this, but after testing I found it useful enough in the Zoroark matchup to warrant the spot. I found that early pressure from Lugia was usually enough to stick 100 damage on one or two Zoroarks, and Black Ray can easily clean up four prizes in that situation. It also gives you an out to one-shot stuff that your deck can’t otherwise.

1 Sudowoodo: Sudowoodo was mainly included as a tech for the Zoroark-GX matchup, as with it on the bench they need to Kukui to kill your Lugia. With both this and Necrozma in the deck, you put Zoroark in a weird position where they had to choose between leaving 100 damage on the board, or leaving a powered up Lugia.

1 Marshadow SLG/1 Oranguru SUM/(No Tapu Lele-GX): While not playing Lele in a deck with Treasure seems odd, Marshadow often fills the same role. The deck runs high counts of Ultra/Treasure/Nest, and almost everything in it can instantly be played. This allows you to see maximum cards off of your Marshadow, and makes it so Oranguru consistently nets you 1-2 cards. Lele is definitely not terrible in the deck, but I didn’t want to run the risk of starting it when so many of my matchups would be Shrine mirror. It did not end up hurting me at all throughout the day.

4 Lille/Cynthia/Acro Bike: I wanted to consistently open with a supporter every game, and these cards allowed me to do that. The Bikes also allowed me to hit combo turns when I needed to, and helped me discard Psychics.

Notable Exclusions:

Tapu Lele promo: This card was in the original list (as shown above) but I never used it once in testing, and decided having more consistent Malamar outs was better than a card only used in niche situations.

Philadelphia Regional round by round breakdown

Day one:

R1: Baby Buzzwole/Garb/Magcargo/Shrine - WW 1-0

Both of these games were won fairly easily. I kept my items at 5 both games so I would not risk dying to Kukui, and didn’t allow him more than one turn of Sledgehammer. I felt in control during the matchup and I hoped to face more Baby Buzz throughout the day.

R2: Dhelmise/Rayquaza-GX/Vikavolt - LWW 2-0

The Ray matchup is generally highly favorable, but whenever Dhelmise CST is established early it can be a pain to kill. Game one was an unfortunate game where my opponent got double Vika turn two, and didn’t miss a beat the rest of the time. Game two was more in my favor, and I consistently responded to his Dhelmise and Vikavolt with Mimikyu and Shining Lugia. He also had to bench 3 GX’s, which allowed me to end the game fairly quick. Game three came down to a play where he was forced to Ultra Ball away a Candy, reducing the amount of Vikavolt he could get out during the game to two. As soon as he missed a turn of strong charge, I gained tempo and ran away with the game.

R3: Ho-Oh/Salazzle - WW 3-0

Not much notable from this match, Shrine allowed me to trade extremely well with his attackers, and Mimikyu easily killed Ho-Oh. I went into lunch feeling extremely confident in the matchups I could hit, and how the deck was running.

R4: Buzzwole/Magcargo/Lycanroc - WW 4-0

This was another matchup where Lugia is extremely hard to kill, and where Shrine shows its worth... Game one started with us both draw passing for multiple turns until he finally hit a Cynthia. He took a huge lead mid-game with Sledgehammer, and got a Beast Ring onto a Buzz GX. After I killed the Baby Buzz, he had to judge himself into Beast Ring energy to secure the game. He ended up missing, and I hit Shrine Of Punishment + Choice Band to finish off an active Buzz-GX. He had no energy on the field and no way to respond, and scooped to game two.

This game wasn’t as close, as I got off the ideal three prize turn by killing a Buzzwole with 180 on it with Shrine, and simultaneously killing a benched Rockruff with Lugia. This forced him to miss Beast Ring, giving him no way to come back.

R5: Baby Buzzwole/Garb/Magcargo/Shrine - WLT 4-0-1

Game one went as planned, and I easily ran through his field of Baby Buzz and Garb with my three Lugia and Deoxys. I felt extremely confident after this game, and felt like I would only have to play one more to secure my top cut birth. Unfortunately, I prized two Lugia in game two, and could not draw a Stretcher the entire game. I also whiffed an energy to respond with Deoxys one turn, which gave him two turns of Sledgehammer. After I lost game two, there was no time for game three, and I still had to win one of the last two to earn my spot in the top eight.

R6: Golisopod/Zoroark - LL 4-1-1

This game was an unfortunate mix of bad luck, prizing, and good draws from my opponent. I was never able to establish Sudowoodo either game, so he just repetitively Acerola and killed my Lugia. I was swiftly 2-0ed, and suddenly, I had a chance to whiff cut.

R7: Baby Buzzwole/Weavile/Banatte/Shrine - LWW 5-1-1

This was the closest game of the weekend, and by far the most tense. I got off to an insane lead game one, and had 2 prizes remaining to his 4. I was able to limit my abilities to stop Weavile, and had stopped Shuppet from ever being established. Surprisingly, my opponent opted to go for an Icy Wind on weavile to put me asleep, which resulted in a tails flip from me. After killing the Lugia with a weavile, he guzma’d up a Malmar and killed it with his Banatte. The game came down to if I could hit a Choice Band and a Rescue stretcher off of a Cynthia, and I whiffed.

Game two we both got off to quick starts, but he missed a way to kill the Lugia on the Sledgehammer turn due to me killing Diancie the turn before. And, just like in most of my matches this weekend, as soon as he whiffed an attack I felt very favored in the game, and I quickly took it to game three.

Game three started quite the opposite of game two. My opponent took two early Inkay kills and established multiple Sneasel, while I struggled to set up Lugias find energy. I eventually got a Lugia with four energy on it, but I had four abilities on my bench, meaning Weavile would easily demolish my board. The turning point in this game started when I activated the sledgehammer turn, and he had to use a Weavile to guarantee the kill. I easily responded with my second Lugia, and he fired back with a Weavile and a stretcher for Sneasel. After I set up a third and final Lugia, he was able to hit a Weavile and Rainbow to take out my Lugia. This investment left him with just a Diancie and Oranguru on the bench, and one prize remaining. With no Lugias left in deck, I Treasured for a Necrozma-GX and took the kill on his Weavile. This left him unable to do anything but pass, and I had the Guzma to secure the game.

Day one record - 5-1-1, 6th Seed

Top Cut

T8: Psychic Malamar - LWW

This was a matchup I was very confident about going in, as everything in his deck could be one shot by mine. The most concerning part of the matchup was the Lunala Prism, and Mimikyu easily responded to that.

Game one he started Mewtwo-GX to my Lugia, immediately putting him at an inherent disadvantage due to Shrine. Unfortunately, I had to Ultra Ball away Double Malamar, Guzma, and Shrine Of Punishments in order to get an Oranguru; because my Marshadow was prized. I ended up whiffing anything off the Oranguru, and without any draw support, Mewtwo-GX took 3 prizes without me having any response.

Game two started off according to plan, with me taking a commanding lead by killing a Dawn Wings Necrozma, and an Inkay. He then responded with a Lunala Prism on my Lugia, and I immediately used Mimikyu to take the kill. This left him with next to no response, and I hit Guzma off of Judge to seal game.

Game three he ended up drawing unfortunate early game, which allowed me to spread constant Shrine damage; and set up for Black Ray late game. I eventually got Shrine to stick for 8 turns, and Black Ray won the game from there.

T4: ZoroPod - WLW

Game one he started Koko and two Zoruas to my Lugia, triple Inkay, Sudowoodo turn one. In addition to me hitting the Sudowoodo on turn one, he missed an energy to flying flip; giving my Lugia an extra turn of life. I used Lugia to hit into the Zoroark, and then attacked a Golisopod with Oranguru. Next turn, my opponent chose to Kukui kill my active Oranguru, leaving 120 damage on a Zoroark and 110 on a Golisopod. That turn I used Black Ray to spread 100 and take four prizes, and finished off the game with a Prismatic burst on a Lele.

Game two was quick, as I lost in two two turns, giving us plenty of time for game three.

Game three started much the same as game one, and I set up double Inkay, Lugia, and Sudowoodo turn one. My opponent then missed a Koko to flying Flip, and had to pass with a Wimpod in the active. I hit the DCE to kill the Wimpod, and my opponent used Kukui Lele to kill my Lugia. I easily responded to his Lele with a Necrozma; and took back to back GX kills to bring me to one prize. He respond killed with a Zoroark + Judge, but I hit the Guzma to secure the win.

Finals: Zoro/Banatte/Garb - WW

I was ecstatic coming off of beating one of my worst matchups in top four, and felt confident in my chances to win.

Game one started with my opponent getting a Lillie for 6, and got down two Zorua and a Shuppet. Like most of my games vs Zoroark; and I established an Inkay, Lugia, and Sudowoodo with a Koko in the active. My opponent then Cynthia’d into no evolutions, and was forced to headbutt my Trubbish. I hit the Malamar + DCE to kill with Lugia, and took a huge lead early. Unfortunately, during my opponent's next turn, he got a double prize penalty for taking a knock out under Sudowoodo; which neither me nor him noticed until after he had taken the prize. This caused him to get a double prize penalty, and gave me an even greater advantage. Because he whiffed the kill, I was able to two shot his Zoroark with Lugia, and had Guzma on Zorua to finish off the game.

Game two started with him killing a Malamar early, and me two-shotting his Zoroark. He then killed the Lugia with his Banatte, and Benched a Trubbish. I guzma killed a Lele with a Lugia (due to residual shrine damage) and went down to two prizes. He Ultra Balled twice to thin his deck, and Cynthia’d needing to hit a Rescue Stretcher to return kill the Lugia with a non GX, and he ended up whiffing. After he whiffed I set up an unloseable situation by benching Necrozma and recharging to it, and won the last game of the event using Necrozma!

I had a great time playing this weekend, and loved the one prize aspect of the deck. I would play the same list again, and it is currently my top pick for Memphis.  If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you. You can message me through Facebook or email me at

Until next time,


[+16] okko


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