Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

What Happened in Philly? - The Recap

Zach discusses his own Philly Regionals experience and shares his thoughts on the top performing decks that are changing the metagame.

09/21/2018 by Zach Lesage

Where Are We?

Whaddup 60 Cards readers? I am back from Regionals and I want to spill the beans on everything that happened on my recent trip to Philadelphia! I had a wild trip that ranges to seeing Ringo Starr in New York City, eating at Jim’s Steaks in downtown Philly, and making Day 2 at the main event.

In this article today I will be discussing my Buzzwole / Garbodor / Shrine of Punishment Deck, my matchups at the event, and I will reveal my updated list after the tournament. Furthermore, I will be examining three of the top-performing decks that I thoroughly enjoyed watching at the tournament. There is plenty of content to cover, so let's hop into the list that I piloted at Philly Regionals.

Buzzwole / Garbodor / Shrine of Punishment Deck

This is a fairly standard Buzzwole / Garbodor / Shrine of Punishment deck that has a focus on Garbodor because I thought I would play against many mirror matches. While I did not face any mirror matches (I know!…), the deck performed quite well because players have a difficult time holding on to their Item Cards. Additionally, Buzzwole, with its damage modifiers (Diancie PRISM STAR, Shrine of Punishment, Professor Kukui, Choice Band, and Beast Energy PRISM STAR) was able to carry me through Swiss by being an incredibly strong concept by itself. For those who are not entirely sure on the strategy of this deck, the goal is to use Buzzwole to provide chip damage throughout the entire game.

Your goal is to often just use Sledgehammer over and over again while you build up more of a complex army of Pokémon to finish off the game. While you are using Sledgehammer, Shrine of Punishment is working in the background to spread damage against opposing GX Pokémon, which allows you to get Knock Outs quickly. When your opponent starts playing Item Cards naturally, or by struggling to keep up with your deck, Garbodor can come out swinging with Trashalanche for a bunch of damage. On top of all these strong concepts, Magcargo (CLS; 24) , when paired with Oranguru, Professor Kukui, Lillie, and Acro Bike allows you to draw into any card that you specifically need when you need it. All these cards work hand in hand for your opponent to crumble in your presence, because they are all single-Prize-Card attackers. Unless this deck is specifically countered, it seems to be the top contender heading forward. Let's check out my tournament report.

My Tournament Report

After testing Buzzwole / Weavile / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  / Beast Ring / Shrine of Punishment for a few weeks before the tournament, I quickly found that I was going to play something similar to that at Philly Regionals. I was up in the air between techs of Counter Energy, Weavile, Garbodor, Shaymin SLG, and Banette-GX, but ultimately decided on the list above. My testing partner, Bodhi Robinson, and I figured out the above list closer to midnight before the tournament and sleeved up for a full day of Pokémon in front of us. Getting to the venue was difficult because I was feeling under the weather, but I had Championship Points on my mind so I wanted to focus on my goal.

There were approximately 800 Masters, which meant that there would be Championship Points available to the Top 256 players and we would have a large Day 2 cut. This tournament was also the first to allow anyone with 19 Match Points and above entry into Day 2 which meant we were in for a complete surprise. 

Rd. 1 against Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null)  / Vikavolt (SUM; 52)  / Aether Paradise Conservation Area (GRI; 116)  WW 1-0-0

Rd. 2 against Espeon GX (SUM; 61)  / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  WLW 2-0-0

Rd. 3 against Lucario GX (BW; 100)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  WW 3-0-0

Rd. 4 against Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Shining Lugia (BW; 82)  / Deoxys LL 3-1-0

Rd. 5 against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  WW 4-1-0

Rd. 6 against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Zygarde GX (FLI; 123)  WW 5-1-0

Rd. 7 against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Great Ball LWT 5-1-1

Rd. 8 against Sylveon GX (GRI; 92)  / Sylveon (FLI; 87)  / Plumeria (BUS; 120)  WW 6-1-1

Rd. 9 against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  WW 7-1-1

I was pleasantly surprised that I finished Day 1 with a 7-1-1 record after playing against some great opponents. I was 13th seed with 22 Match Points going into the next day, which meant that I had an extra win under my belt when compared to the other 19 Match Point finishers. I quickly left the venue, grabbed food, and decided to go to bed early. I didn’t get much sleep the night before, which led me to feeling heavily exhausted.

Rd. 10 against Empoleon / Swampert WW 8-1-1

Rd. 11 against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Weakness Policy LL 8-2-1

Rd. 12 against Metagross-GX / Ultra Necrozma-GX LL 8-3-1

Rd. 13 against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  WLT 8-3-2

Rd. 14 against Stakataka-GX / Naganadel-GX LL 8-4-2

Rd. 15 against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  8-4-3

After Day 2, I still never faced a Buzzwole / Shrine of Punishment deck and I also didn’t face any Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt decks, even thought they were the two most popular decks at the event. I can't be disappointed with my result of Top 64 at this event, because I played against a slew of decks that I didn’t expect, and against some awkward matchups.

I learned many things about myself at this event--I have seen where I need to improve as a player, and I thoroughly enjoyed my tournament run. Speaking of how I would improve some things, I do want to go over my deck a bit because I have since made some changes to the deck to make it better. My personal chase in this game is that there is a certain perfection that can be achieved in your deck list and my goal is to find it. While my list for Philly Regionals was perceived as strong for the event, I do like my new list more at this moment. Let's peep it.

Updated Buzzwole / Garbodor / Shrine of Punishment Deck

I decided to take some notes from my fellow Dead Draw Gaming teammate Caleb Gedemer, and run a Counter Energy in my list. I fit in the Counter Energy by cutting a Psychic Energy from my list because that was too specific of an Energy for this type of deck. I also cut a Fighting Energy to make more room in general. In a weird thought process, this list runs the same amount of ten Energy Cards because Counter Energy does count as two Energy when you are behind. That mentality did allow me to make space for another card, which has been turned into a Counter Catcher. Throughout my days of Swiss on Saturday / Sunday, I often felt like I needed another Guzma, but I did fall behind on Prize Cards multiple times.

If Counter Catcher doesn’t end up cutting it, I will be turning that card into a Guzma. The two other new cards in this list are Field Blower and an additional copy of Rescue Stretcher. I did start Trubbish during a fair share of my games and I would have rather started a Buzzwole to use Sledgehammer earlier. Field Blower is more of a reaction to cards such as Aether Paradise Conservation Area and Weakness Policy coming out of nowhere to participate in the metagame. In some ways, I could see myself cutting the fourth Shrine of Punishment with the inclusion of Field Blower, but I am still determining the amount of GX Pokemon in the format. I did miss having an Escape Rope in my list, but that hypothetical spot could also be used as a second copy of Switch. If you want to add in a singleton line of one Weavile and one Sneasel, I would look at Gedemer’s list below for inspiration.

Looking At The Top Decks

While the metagame was defined by Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Shrine of Punishment decks and Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt decks, there were many other top contenders that had their fair share of success at Philadelphia Regionals. Quite a few of these decks seemed to do well at League Cups and the Santa Catarina Regionals in Brazil, but they seem like they can keep up going forward. Here is what the metagame looks like from Philadelphia Regionals.

Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  / Shrine of Punishment

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc-GX

Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt

Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc-GX /  Magcargo (CLS; 24)

Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Necrozma-GX / Marshadow-GX

Buzzwole / Weavile / Shrine of Punishment 

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Banette-GX

Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Ultra Necrozma-GX / Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Tapu Koko / Tapu Lele / Shining Lugia (BW; 82)  / Shrine of Punishment

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Golisopod-GX

Magnezone / Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX / Dialga-GX

Metagross-GX / Solgaleo-GX

Those are going to be the decks floating around at League Challenges, League Cups, and Memphis Regionals.

Looking into some of those decks more specifically, I want to showcase three decks that made Top 8 at Philly Regionals because they look incredibly strong heading forward.

Gedemer’s Buzzwole / Garbodor / Weavile / Shrine of Punishment Deck

Gedemer played a similar deck to me and I made some changes to my Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Shrine of Punishment deck based on his success at the event. The singleton Weavile line in his deck seemed incredibly strong against most non-Shrine of Punishment decks and it likely added another layer of skill to his deck. While I do prefer more copies of Professor Kukui in my deck, I do think his inclusion of Judge in the deck does have merit to the point of viability. I originally had a Judge in my deck to combat decks that play Steven’s Resolve, turn one Lillie, and Tempest-GX on Rayquaza-GX, but found it to be too situational to get the most use out of it.

Everything else in Gedemer’s list is the same as mine except for his fourth copy of Guzma over my single copy of Counter Catcher. I don’t know if I would actively make a change to his list without testing this list heavily because I am sure he could provide solid reasoning for every card inclusion in his list. I still have my own thoughts on Judge and I would love to ask him if he would play it going forward, but that seems like it could lead into an argument of personal preference. Heading into my League Cup this weekend, I will likely play this list with the only change being me playing another copy of Professor Kukui over the Judge in this list.

Shao’s Malamar / Marshadow-GX / Necrozma-GX Deck

My fellow Dead Draw Gaming teammate Rukan Shao piloted a fairly unique deck all the way to the finals at Philadelphia Regionals. His deck was more akin to the Malamar (FLI; 51)  decks that we saw towards the end of the season and it proved to be a successful strategy because there was quite a few Psychic-weak decks in the metagame. I don’t want to look at Shao’s success only coming from a solid metagame call because I am sure he piloted his deck well throughout the day. His deck is well planned out with Marshadow-GX being strong against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks due to their Fighting-type Weakness and Necrozma-GX is a strong attacker in general.

Deoxys was a relatively popular Pokémon throughout the weekend and that is because it is one of the best single-Prize-Card attackers available in our format right now. The same can be said about Mimikyu, which can copy an attack in a pinch, while still keeping its single Prize Card attacker status. The only card that I am genuinely curious about is Shao’s inclusion of Escape Board, but perhaps there is more to that card than surface value alone. I prefer Altar of the Moone because it can bump Shrine of Punishment, but I would assume that Escape Board can stay on the field longer or at least that is partially true for Shao to include it in his deck.

Milaski’s Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt / Dhelmise Deck

Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt was deemed the best deck in format the week leading into Santa Catarina Regionals in Brazil and was quickly dismissed because it suffers from a poor Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Shrine of Punishment matchup. It seems like Isaac Milaski was able to overcome this difficulty by adding in Dhelmise, a single Prize Card attacker, to deal with the onslaught of Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Shrine of Punishment that was expected to be at Philly Regionals.

I do think that Dhelmise is a solid card to add in Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt and I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw the deck make a comeback in our metagame. Other Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt decks played Shining Lugia (BW; 82)  and other single Prize Card attacking Pokemon to deal with Buzzwole / Garbodor (GRI; 51)  / Shrine of Punishment in the same way. If I were to try this deck out, I would like to include some form of Field Blower or perhaps even a Stadium Card too help get around Shrine of Punishment.

Onto The Next One…

Well, that is what I have for my article today readers! I hope that you enjoyed looking over my Philly Regional tournament recap from my perspective and that you learned more about some of the top performing decks. The metagame is changing quite a bit right now, so don’t expect it to stay the same for too long, it will likely change soon! We do have new Promo Cards coming out, Dragon Majesty, and the power of top players influencing the metagame based on their results. I will be playing in as many tournaments as I can before the upcoming Memphis Regionals in order to find the deck that I want to play at that event. I already have my plane ticket booked for Memphis, registered for the event, and I am excited for another amazing event. I have also booked travel for Portland, São Paulo, Roanoke, and Anaheim. I am sure there will be challenges that I will face this season, but I will do my best to provide 60 Cards with the best information. 

I will also be going through a lot of growth as I try to further my involvement in Pokémon. I have officially signed on to Dead Draw Gaming as a sponsored player to help grow myself as a player. I have also created a website for myself for everyone to keep updated on what is going on in my Pokémon life, you can check that website out here. As always, I will remain active on my Twitter where I will post my latest articles, live updates from the tournaments I play in, and the occasional free list. So yeah, follow me on Twitter to get all of that great content listed and more @ zlesage_pokemon.

See everyone at Memphis,

Zach Lesage

#PlayPokemon #Pokemon #DeadDrawGaming #DDG #PokeAcademy #TheDarkPatch 

[+16] okko


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