Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

De Regreso de la Ciudad de México - New Standard

Zach goes over three fantastic decks as we approach Madison Regionals this weekend!

05/29/2018 by Zach Lesage

Airport Chillin’

What’s up, 60 Cards readers? I am here at the Mexico City International Airport writing my article after playing in their Special Event this past weekend. In this article, I will showcase three of the best decks from the new Standard format, explain their strategies, and go through my personal tournament report for the event. This article will help you pick a deck as we approach League Cups and Madison, Wisconsin Regionals, so be sure to pay attention. With that being said, we have plenty of ground to cover so I am going to jump into the decks that are in the new Standard format:

The New Wave

While most players in North America took a much-needed break, a large portion of the top players decided to fly to Mexico City, Mexico to play in a Special Event. For those of you who are unsure of this type of tournament, here is what poké describes a Special Event as:

‘In addition to the regular events in the Championship Series schedule such as Regional and International Championships, Pokémon Special Events give Pokémon TCG and video game players more chances to earn Championship Points. Prizes are often awarded also, at the discretion of the event organizer.

All players in good standing are welcome to participate—there are no qualifications or residency restrictions at any Special Event. Pokémon TCG players need to bring their own 60-card deck that matches the format listed below. Pokémon video game players must bring their own game, system in the Nintendo 3DS family, and a legal team.'

That is a typical tournament description for most events, but the kicker is that Special Events provide the EXACT Championship Point structure as a Regional Championships. Yup, that’s right: 200 CP for first, 160 CP for second, 130 CP for Top 4, 100 CP for Top 8, and 80 CP for Top 16. With the typical attendance of Special Events being much lower than a Regional Championships, attending these events can be a great way to pick up some much-needed Championship Points. Furthermore, Europe had their own Special Event going on at the same time in Tours, France which allowed us to peak into the future of Standard with the new Forbidden Light cards. Based on all of the results seen online from both Mexico City and Tours, these are the decks that did well:

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  /  Malamar (FLI; 51)
Naganadel GX (FLI; 121)
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)
Greninja GX (FLI; 120)  / Latios
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Espeon GX (SUM; 61)  / Garbodor / Garbodor
Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41)
Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null)  /  Vikavolt (SUM; 52)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Garbodor / Garbodor
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51)  
Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)

Beyond a few of these decks seeing play once, most of them can be compiled into one of three categories: Malamar (FLI; 51) , Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , or Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  variants. It is in my testing results that I have found that these are the front runners of the new Standard format and that all decks / techs will revolve around these archetypes.

Malamar Variants
Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  /  Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  /  Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)

Buzzwole-GX Variants
Straight  Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)

Zoroark-GX Variants
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Garbodor / Garbodor

If you are not playing one of those decks, be prepared to have an answer to them in terms of Weakness, Resistance, and / or tech cards. I don’t foresee an upcoming major event where those decks lose; or at the very least, don't place highly in that given event. To go off onto a completely different subject, I will go through my personal tournament report before going into some of the juicy deck lists that are available after that.

Mexico City Special Event Tournament Report

While I normally don’t include tournament reports in my articles, I feel that my journey to Mexico City can provide plenty of information about the stresses that accompany players heading to events. While it may seem like every trip is taking an Uber from your house to an airport, flying to a new city, Uber from the airport to your hotel, playing in the tournament, and heading home -- sometimes they are a bit different from time to time. I’ll start at the beginning:

So for the past few weeks, fellow 60 Cards writer and newly crowned Toronto Regional Champion Daniel Altavilla has been staying at my house to play test with me. It’s been awesome because we can consistently bounce ideas off of each other, learn each other's strategies, and enjoy the company as well. We decided, relatively late for us, both to attend the Mexico City Special Event to get some much-needed Championship Points in this insane race for a Day 2 invitation to the 2018 World Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. During the week, we tested many concepts: Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) , Attacking Hoopa, Goomy, straight Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51) , Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51) , and a few others that I have probably forgotten about. We tested as much as possible during our short time from booking flights to our departure date.

The night before we were going to leave, Danny was seemingly able to convince me to stay up all night, test until 4 AM, and then head to the airport around 5AM for our early 8 AM flight to Mexico. While I wasn’t comfortable doing this, I reluctantly decided that I could sleep on a plane and if I got my bag packed in case I fell asleep, I would be fine. We tested until 3 AM, decided that we were no longer making sense, and I packed the rest of my stuff so I could just wake up and leave for the airport. This is where the story takes a dark turn...

I wake up at 6:15 AM out of nowhere and I see light coming through my bedroom window, I instantly think that I am screwed and check my phone. Where did my alarm go for 4:30 AM? Can I still make it to the airport that is usually an hour away from my house? While all of this is happening, I am screaming for Danny to wake up, he realizes that we are likely missing our flight, but we persevere on to at least have a chance. We gather everything into my car and I am taking this flight to heart because I don’t want to lose 500$ because I slept in. I crush the drive as fast as humanly possible (not wanting get pulled over), check my car into valet parking at the airport out of necessity, and made it to Toronto Pearson International Airport in about 30 minutes. Danny and I dash through security, customs, and we ultimately make our flight.

This has been a lesson learned that everything planned is not always going to work out. When planning for an event, it is wise to set alarms, prepare yourself, and do the best you can do to adhere to times. While Danny and I were lucky to get on our flight, preparing ourselves to get from our house to the airport would have been a better plan. Planning and getting to tournaments can easily be one of the more important parts of the game because of the stress associated with travelling. Anyways, enough life lessons, let’s get back to my report...

After making it through security and customs, I finally madk it on to the plane with time to spare. After flying to Mexico City, Danny and I are reunited with another 60 Cards writer, Caleb Gedemer and our friend Ryan Allred. We make it to our hotel, buy some delicious Mexican snacks, order pizza (it was awful), and I watch some of the others test. After my long day of almost missing my flight, a five hour flight, and snack binging -- I decided to go to sleep. I value sleep as a competitor player because I feel better the next day, I am more focused, and I often play better in the later rounds of the tournament. The next day I woke up, got to the venue, said hello to the geese at the venue (THERE WERE GEESE AT THE VENUE!!!!!) and wrote out my deck list. After writing out my list, I re-sleeved my deck and got ready for the tournament...

Tournament: Mexico City Special Event
Division: Masters
Format: Standard with Best of 3
Rounds: 6 with a Top 8 playoff
Players: 56
Deck: Turbo  Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)

Round: 1
Opponent: Grecia Arenas
Deck: Zoroark-GX / Glaceon-GX
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 1-0-0

She was a newer player and she was eager to learn more about the game. Unfortunately for her, I am a qualified player who realized that this is an awful match-up for her and used that to my advantage. She did eventually nab a few Prizes with a Mew-EX, but it wasn’t enough in the quick games that we played.

Round: 2
Opponent: Rahul Reddy
Deck: Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Necrozma-GX / Malamar
Match Result: LWL
Record Result 1-1-0

I looked at the pairings and was fairly upset that I was playing against a strong player playing a deck that on paper beats mine. I almost won game one due to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  having an insane Prize Card trade, but he eventually got out of it. Game two I won because I used Regirock-EX to attack and I also used Buzzwole to attack with a loaded Swing Around. Game three I lost in a few turns because Reddy drew fairly hot!

Round: 3
Opponent: Adrian Flores
Deck: Ultra Necrozma-GX / Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Malamar
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 2-1-0

This match-up went fairly well because I kept on bringing up Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  to stop him from effectively using Malamar (FLI; 51) . He could have just attached a Float Stone to get around this, but it didn’t happen either game.

Round: 4
Opponent: Caleb Gedemer
Deck: Lapras-GX / Volcanion Prism Star
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 3-1-0

I played against a fellow 60 Cards writer, Caleb Gedemer, and I ended up drawing well in a favourable match-up. Caleb always needed to hit a Choice Band and an Energy manipulation card to get back into the game. Unfortunately for him, he never got what he needed and I always had everything to combat the little he put up.

Round: 5
Opponent: Marcos Erik Hernández Butrón
Deck: Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 4-1-0

The issue in this match-up is that my opponent needs to utilize Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  all while I can use that knowledge to play around that strategy. In essence, I used Jet Punch quite a few times while setting up a fortress behind my Active Pokemon.

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