Experts' corner

Mark Dizon

Hot Takes from Down Under

Catch the Hot Takes from Melbourne in this article to prepare for Collinsville

02/19/2019 by Mark Dizon

Hey, 60 Cards Readers!

Were you rooted to your seats this weekend like I was watching the Internationals? I am so relieved that the format has changed over as our last format had gotten a little stale. Melbourne was hot, both figuratively and literally. With two new archetypes debuting at this event and new upgrades to old decks, it was a breath of fresh air as we leave behind Lost Thunder and the focus shifts now to Team Up and the Tag Team GX’s. Hot Take: You heard it on my Twitter first but now you have it in the public over here. “Next Year’s Rotation will be Ultra Prism on”. Ultra Prism brings most of the Ultra Beasts not named Buzzwole, though he was a promo, and we had the second printing of Silvally GX. Ultra Prism has also tied in with Ultra Sun and Moon the games. So as we go through the next two sets, keep that in mind as you pick up the cards you need while they are low. What are the biggest takeaways from down under?


Thunder Mountain is the new Hotness


               If I asked you how many times in Zoroark’s Legality has a non-Zoroark deck won an international? What would be your answer? Well, it’s one. Last years Latin America International Championships was won by Buzzwole Lycanroc. Other than that, Every International London 2017, Oceania 2018, North America 2018, Latin America 2018 -2 the only one it didn't win was Latin America 2018 -1. Before this event we watched Zoroark win back to back regionals. Now another deck has taken the throne for the time being from Zoroark and it is the advent of the Thunder Mountain Pokémon from Lost Thunder, Team Up and the Jolteon GX Box. The number of Lightning Pips (these are the energy symbols on attacks or on the HP) in the top 8 outnumbered everything else around. The amount of value and consistency in the lightning Pokémon’s attack pack a punch for the cost that is needed to use them. Jolteon-GX’s Electro Bullet is very reminiscent of Buzzwole GX’s jet punch and that was an attack that uttered so much last year. Zapdos’ Thunderous Assault for one lightning and being able to KO most basics in Ditto Prism Star, Rockruff, Zorua and even opposing Zapdos’ makes it very cost efficient at taking prizes. Oh, by the way, Thunder Mountain Prism Star allows both these Pokémon to attack with no energy.

Zeraora GX which was used as a fringe piece to give Rayquaza GX in the last format has provided the lightning decks a way to add more retreat options to give Zapdos more chances to activate the clause needed in Thunderous Assault. This card is appearing in almost every lightning build. These Pokémon have combined to make up the main attackers in Isaiah Williams Championship winning deck. Tape Koko GX which has also only ever been seen fringe in early builds of Tapu Bulu before VS Seeker rotated has seemed to finally find a home in the decks


Support is the Name of the Game    

Our last format did not have really many Support Pokémon outside of Diancie Prism Star, Swampert, Nagandel and Macargo. Malamar itself has been the backbone of its archetype that it seems the Attackers are the support in the deck. Trainer wise most decks were leaning on cards such as Beast Ring for an item and Shrine of Punishment to punish the GX decks. With the release of Team Up there have been two huge support Pokémon released. One being Absol Dark Ambition and one being Jirachi Stellar Wish. These two cards have shown up in decks in Melbourne. Jirachi is an accelerant allowing you card selection involving a trainer. Being able to look at the top five cards of your deck and pick the best card for your current situation is a great asset to many decks. The combo of escape board plus Jirachi makes the card even more potent allowing it to be retreated into the Zapdos for Zapdos to take quick knockouts early in the game. On the other side of support Pokémon we have a deterrent Pokémon in Absol. Absol makes your opponents retreat cost one more so it slows down Jirachi. With the ability, it turns the tables and the opponent will surely need a switch effect to move the Jirachi from the active position. Absol is also has one retreat making it a perfect escape board target. Tapu Koko Prism Star is the last big new supporter Pokémon. The ability of the card to allow you to create huge Tapu Koko GX knockouts out of nowhere provides ways for the lightning deck to create a huge tempo swing. When not doing that it also allows you to reset multiple Zapdos to keep churning knockouts.


Zoroark is Down but Not Out

The previous King of the Hill, Zoroark might not have won the tournament but it was in the final yet again. This made it so that Zoroark has appeared in every International Final Since its release other than the Buzzwole Lycanroc Mirror during last seasons Latin American International Championship.  Of the five Zoroark Decks in day two, two of them converted into top 8 finishes with one making it all the way to the final. Stephane Ivanoff who won last year’s North American International with Zororark returned to another International final this time packing Lucario in Zororoc. In the past, Lucario was seen as a super fringe role player in Zoroark decks that was made to be able to take an edge in the mirror. The inclusion of Lucario in Stephane’s list was to be able to one shot the Pikachu Zekrom Tag Team GX with one energy. I don't think anyone would have been surprised had Zoroark won this tournament, however, a lot of the players that played the deck does not believe it is a great choice moving forward. This has to be concerning to a lot of players that have Zoroark as a fall back at all time. The question now is, maybe Jirachi is just more efficient for card selection. Sure being able to draw two cards multiple time in a turn is great but maybe chaining Stellar Wish just allows you to set up your turns much stronger than Zoroark’s Trade ability. I for one don’t believe we have seen the demise of Zoroark yet. Last year Zoroark Gardevoir was able to take down Oceania International Championships but at Collinsville, Zoroark Golispod would emerge victorious. The question going into Collinsville seems to be will Zoroark Lycanroc be able to have a good matchup spread versus the field. The consensus among most players even players who played the deck is split right down the middle. Some say it is a very good play for the event while some players are distancing it. Time will tell if this possible, but now the question posed, will Zoroark ever win another Standard event?


Tag Teams are Here

One of the biggest decks to emerge from Melbourne was the Japanese favorite of Pikachu and Zekrom Tag Team GX. Taking up a huge number of spots in the top 8, it showed that players aren’t shy about giving up three prizes. With Pikachu Zekrom being able to take 4 Prizes during some turns is something we haven’t seen in the game since something much smaller like Fright Night Yveltal. My first time witnessing this was eye-opening. I felt my Zoroark Gx was in a good spot and I proceeded to see it be knocked out by an Electro Power, Professor Kukui, Choice Band to swing the game in the other player's favour. If you do not have a plan to face this head on, you are going to have a hard time at the upcoming standard tournaments. The only other Tag Team we saw was Gengar Mimikyu in some of the Malamar decks. Marshadow allows you to attack with the Gengar and not be afraid of giving up three prizes. I’m surprised we didn’t see a single Eevee Snorlax GX because it had been seen in Japan. Latios and Latias seem to not be competitive at this point. With more and more Tag Team GX’s coming sets, the game is changing and figuring out the correct way to prize trade will be important.


Deck Selection is Key

We have come back to the question before every regional. Are we playing the best deck right now? Or are we playing a deck that we know? Should I be buying cards or playing the cards that I own? I think with this regional being over 900 players you really need to play something that you will be comfortable for the rounds. Are you going for your invite and being consistent with your points or are you trying to top 8 the tournament? If you have four Jirachi’s you should probably be playing them. Four Zapdos, Pikachu Zekrom. These cards are all good because they allow you the ability to play a deck that not everyone knows how to deal with. I would be willing to say that not everyone has watched all the Stream. Players will play Zoroark Variants, Players will play some weird Mill decks. Your matchup spread must give you the ability to take a few wins. Your focus should be what is the best decks I can do this with. If it happens to be with a deck your more comfortable with instead of something opponents would uncomfortable to play against. I would make sure that you know how to play your matchups and make notes about them. Make sure that you read every card played that you haven’t seen so you don’t misplay versus it. There have been a lot of new cards released since the last standard regionals in November that you can always get surprised, I am currently stressing with this question right now. How do I find a deck that I can play consistently that can get me wins to get points? I want to make sure that I understand what my deck is trying to do and what their deck is trying to do. You could play against some random decks because that how Collinsville was last year, so make sure you are prepared.

Last year’s Collinsville was one of the biggest regionals on record. We are now about to hit multiple regionals in a span of six weeks. Interestingly enough the regionals after this are Expanded Expanded and then another Standard regional leading into the European Intercontinental Event. The switch has been something that North Americans have had to deal with the whole Season. This weekend will show part two of what Tag Teams can do and that will directly influence what happens in Toronto and Greensboro. It is disappointing that the point threshold has deterred so many players from playing because the format is so great right now and we could have had bigger and bigger regionals. One thing is for certain though, this regional will have a big impact.

If you are at Collinsville come say Hi.

Until Next Time

[+25] okko


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