01/10/2020 by Malik Hisyam Zaihan
The metagame has shifted immensely since Cosmic Eclipse became tournament legal at the Latin American International Championships, where we saw Robin Schulz take down the tournament with Ability Reshiram & Charizard GX. The tournament also saw the emergence of new archetypes such as Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX (ADP) variants, which itself has seen many iterations since it first emerged.
While the standard way of building the archetype has been established to be with Keldeo GX, taking advantage of its Pure Heart ability, over the past month we’ve seen creative players come up with different ways to run the deck. The recent Singapore SPE saw a build which focuses on a Green’s Exploration engine, partnering ADP with Buzzwole & Pheromosa GX, giving it a highly flexible way to take 6 prizes.
Most notably, two players from Malaysia, Farhan Aziz and Syahmi Razak concocted an ADP variant which almost won the Kuala Lumpur Regional Championships, taking the whole competition by surprise. In fact, if it wasn’t for them being paired against each other in the final round, we might have seen a double appearance of the deck in Top8. Syahmi Razak took it all the way to the finals, eventually losing to eventual champion Brent Tonnison, running Mewtwo & Mew GX.
Having spoken to both players, we’ll be talking about how the idea came about, how it was initially developed, the deck’s overall gameplan as well as moving forward with the deck. But before that, here’s the list from the recent Kuala Lumpur Regional.
ADP / Bird Trio
- 2x Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Tag Team GX
- 3x Victini
- 2x Moltres & Articuno & Zapdos Tag Team GX
- 1x Cryogonal
- 4x Green's Exploration
- 3x Cynthia & Caitlin
- 2x Coach Trainer
- 2x Mallow & Lana
- 4x Tag Call
- 4x Custom Catcher
- 4x Power Plant
- 2x Energy Spinner
- 1x Great catcher
- 1x Pokémon Communication
- 1x Choice Helmet
- 1x Faba
- 1x Channeler
- 1x Wait and See Hammer
- 2x Switch
- 2x Pokégear 3.0
- 3x Reset Stamp
- 4x Fire Energy
- 4x Water Energy
- 3x Metal Energy
- 3x Lightning Energy
How The Idea Came About
As you’ve probably noticed, it’s a very different build of an ADP deck with a completely different gameplan compared to the normal ADP/Keldeo GX builds. 2 weekends before Kuala Lumpur, Farhan made Top16 at the Singapore SPE with a standard ADP/Keldeo GX deck but found that it was far too slow despite having satisfactory results over the weekend.
He cites that a surprise turn 1 or turn 2 knockout will almost always lose you the game and hates that it is almost impossible to come back from it. Still eager to further unlocking Altered Creation GX being one of the most powerful GX attacks in the standard format, he started concocting an alternative to recharging Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX should it get knocked out or loses its energy via Full Metal Wall GX. That’s when he came across Victini from the Unified Minds and felt it was enough for his plan.
However, he still found Keldeo GX to be far too weak of an attacker despite its broken ability and any chances of two-shotting bulky Tag Team Pokemon is usually annoyingly dealt with through Mallow & Lana. With that, he started researching for a secondary attacker that could take Keldeo GX’s place by dealing a large amount of damage, rendering the opponent’s Mallow & Lana redundant. The bird trio of Articuno & Zapdos & Moltres GX fits the bill perfectly since it has the fire requirements to match Victini. The deck looked like a complete puzzle to Farhan.
With such a colourful energy cost, consistency and hitting the right energies at the right time was going to be a challenge, which is why Farhan opted for a Green’s Exploration engine since the deck has no other abilities. This allows him to grab cards such as Energy Spinner and Tag Call consistently, ensuring that you are able to get your energies and attackers out, with a supporter such as Cynthia & Caitlin to follow-up the next turn should you not have access to another Green’s Exploration.
The list was, however, initially far from optimal with fancy techs such as Rainbow Brush. This was when Farhan showed the list to Syahmi Razak, who corrected the ‘luxury’ cards he had and made it more consistent with the addition of Wait and See Hammer, Poke Gear 3.0, a third Cynthia & Caitlin as well as a third Reset Stamp. According to Syahmi, the heavy Reset Stamp and Power Plant count will help against Mewtwo & Mew GX decks since it will be a tough matchup. Farhan added Channeler as the icing on the cake in order to get past Clear Vision GX.
The general gameplan is to manually charge Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX if you are going first, or going straight into Victini’s Victory Sign if you are going second. The choice of which GX attack to use depends on different matchups and on some occasions, how the opposing deck approaches the matchup.
Normally Altered Creation GX will benefit when going against ADP/Keldeo GX as the gameplan is to knockout a Jirachi and an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX to collect 6 prizes. Sky Legends GX will always win you games against heavy baby decks such as Malamar and Pidgeotto, while also giving you the option of a different gameplan against Reset Stamp heavy decks that aim to punish you late game after taking a big prize lead.
What is normally a tougher matchup for generic ADP decks such as Gardevoir & Sylveon GX is now a very favourable matchup as you no longer even need to bench Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX to get energy on the board, but can rely on Victini to charge up 2 Articuno & Zapdos & Moltres GXs. The gameplan is to simply hit 2 Gardevoir & Sylveon GX and then use Sky Legends GX for the full 6 prizes, making you practically invulnerable to Reset Stamps. Just be wary of Lost Purge GX, which is why charging 2 Birds is key before you start attacking.
Mewtwo & Mew GX decks is close to 50-50 due to the heavy Reset Stamp and Power Plant combo which may cripple them late game. The general gameplan is to start hitting with Ultimate Ray charging onto your Articuno & Zapdos & Moltres GX, as once they’ve used up their GX for a one-shot knockout, it is not easy for them to take out the Bird Trio with Choice Helmet and Mallow & Lana. In this matchup, the choice between Altered Creation GX and Sky Legends GX varies depending on how fast they setup, as sometimes you might just want to set yourself up for a 4-6 prize turn, with help from late game Reset Stamps and Power Plants.
Kuala Lumpur Regionals
Prior to the tournament, some considerations to the list included a third Pokegear 3.0 as well as a baby attacker. In the end, Cryogonal was chosen as they feared running into issues with Doll stall. Farhan ended up running 1 Bill’s Analysis over the 2nd Coach Trainer which Syahmi ran.
Both Farhan and Syahmi had successful runs in swiss, but unfortunately clashed in the final round, both vying for a spot in Top8. Farhan faced mostly favourable matchups such as Giratina & Garchomp GX, Malamar and ADP/Keldeo GX, his only losses against Keng Fai running Giratina & Garchomp GX where he drew poorly, and against Syahmi with the 59 card mirror. Syahmi was a lot less lucky as he tied against a Mewtwo & Mew GX and lost to Clifton Goh running Malamar/Giratina & Garchomp GX, where he prized Channeler in Game 3.
Syahmi’s run to the finals saw him face off against a Giratina & Garchomp GX in Top8, a Gardevoir & Sylveon GX in Top4 and finally losing to Brent Tonisson running Mewtwo & Mew GX.
Changes Moving Forward
Moving forward and having tested the deck myself, Farhan suggested that Channeler and Cryogonal were tech slots that can be adjusted depending the expected metagame in tournaments. Drampa would be the baby attacker of choice should there be no stall decks around, and a Lucario & Melmetal GX could be included as well to heavily swing the Gardevoir & Sylveon matchup in your favour.
Other considerations include a third Pokegear 3.0, a fourth Victini for consistency or even a copy of Bill's Analysis.
With such a unique deck which kept both Farhan and Syahmi in the top tables of a Regional, I simply had to ask them if there were any funny or memorable reactions from their opponents throughout the day. Admittedly, opponents may have slightly underestimated the deck as it was such a rogue concept to be brought to a Regional, which ended up paying off very handsomely. The surprise factor was also definitely key here, as their opponents had to learn how to approach the matchup in as little as one to three games, having to constantly pick up the Victini and Bird Trio to read up on what they do.
The deck has slowly established itself as a top contender in this metagame, with many players picking it up for League Cups after the list was posted online. Even I had to try it myself, and after testing it I brought it to a local League Cup, winning it in the process. I have to say, I really admire the versatility of the deck, which is no longer limited to what you can do as compared to the vanilla ADP/Keldeo GX deck.
That being said, I believe that it will be a good pick for the remaining tournaments before we move into the Sword & Shield era which will kick off at the Oceania International Championships next month. With the last Standard Regional in this format to happen in Germany this weekend, expect it to be one of the top contenders to come out of the weekend.
Before I sign off, a big shoutout to Farhan Aziz and Syahmi Razak for their incredible innovation, setting a new standard of building an established archetype and achieving success with it. Being from a region often overlooked, I am super stoked and proud to see players from this region get the recognition that they deserve.
That's it for me, I hope you enjoyed this article !
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