Experts' corner

Igor Costa

Top deck choices for Atlantic City Regionals

In his triumph return, former world and multiple regional champion Igor Costa provides his thoughts heading into Atlantic City

09/27/2019 by Igor Costa

Hey 60 cards readers, When we look at the current decks in the format, we can see that these decks are the most popular at cups:







I predict that these four will be the most popular decks at the tournament. Of course, there will also be other decks, some as powerful but not as popular, like these:





I would consider these four to be more risky choices to play. Let me explain why.

After Gardeon won at Sheffield Regionals I expect that deck to be a bit more popular than it's been so far. I also think the deck can do really well when it hits the right matchups. 

Blacephalon can be a tier 1 deck but sometimes feels too clunky and not quite there. I see it as a high risk, high reward deck like the other ones on this second part of the list. 

Pidgey Control is one of my favorite decks since I used it to win the DC open at Worlds. It lost the surprise factor that made the deck a good choice at that time, but it also gained a powerful new tool with Jessie & James. I think the surprise factor is more important overall, but the deck is still really strong if played correctly. It's not the easiest deck to play, and you can usually only finish one game in 50 min, making the tournament experience not that pleasant to be honest. Just imagine going to time in all nine rounds where you barely get a break between rounds. Yikes. Other than that problem, I expect people to have tried the deck and played against it a bit so a lot of the matchups get harder when your opponent knows what to do. I can see the deck making day 2 with no problems, maybe even top 8, but the higher you get with the deck the harder it will be. Day 2 you'll have to face better players than day one for the most part, and the better your opponent is, the harder the matchup will be. In top 8 you'll have extra time, making it so you have to 2-0 you're opponent leaving no room to dead-draw.



Editors Note : This deck is missing Jesse and James from Hidden Fates 

PoipolControl is in basically the same situation as PidgeyControl. They are both risky decks that can do very well early in the tournament but start to fall off later on.

And then we have decks that I wouldn't bother with too much as far as testing with or against. These decks are:





Taking all this into consideration, I would say that AbilityZard/Firebox is the best choice if you just want to be safe and have a consistent tournament.


I don't have a different list than what's popular. The deck has been refined pretty well and the lists we see now are pretty good.

Matchups are pretty close with the rest of the top decks. It feels like the deck can beat anything. Even when you have counter matchups that are not that popular like Keldeo, it’s not an auto loss. You can still beat any Control deck, but with Ninetails you can still pull off a win by disrupting their set up.

Malamar can be a hard matchup, but with the inclusion of all the non GX pokemon, you can trade 1 for 1 going after Malamars, skipping spell tags and setting up for when you can drop a Gx. They can't really do much about it or go after your benched Pokemon since they'll be out of Malamars to power up things like Espeon&Deoxys GX or Espurr. 

There’s also no need to use Reshiram&Charizard GX until they've taken 4 or 5 prizes, and whenever you use Reshiram&Charizard GX you can just use your GX to play around a Mimikyu.

Gardeon is one of the easiest matchups. You just have to one-shot two Gardy’s. Be careful with their GX attack, and not benching targets like Turtunator unless you're about to use it that turn or if they have no way to attack.

PikaRom is a close matchup because they can apply a lot of pressure early if they set up correctly. It should be a fine matchup if you also set up and they're not targeting Ninetailes. Once you get your attackers powered up you can close the game out in 2 attacks, or you can always take the 1st prize on Jirachi and then just go after a tag team then finish it off on a Dedenne GX. They'll try to Stamp, Judge, and sometimes Paralyze you, so keeping this in mind, save Dedenne GX and space for it on your bench and don't burn all your switching cards.

Mewtwo is a hard matchup, but if you're able to get your Welders going, they can't really deal with a  Blacephalon killing a Mewtwo in one hit. Then with your GX open Heatran GX or even Charizard&Reshiram GX can just finish the game. Obviously they'll know that, and they'll do their best to stop you from taking all your prizes by doing things like trying to keep energies off your board by using Venom Shot. Sometimes if you try to close the game by going after Dedenne GX and another benched Pokemon, they'll Snipe Ninetailes so keep that in mind and get another one ready when doing this. Victini can be game-changing, but if they play Wobbufet they can punish you really hard for planning for that.



MewtwoBox. I’m not going to call it Perfection, because i don't think there's a perfect Mew&Mewtwo deck yet. The card is so versatile that you can make it work in some different ways.

 I played a version of Mewtwo that worked out for me during the last two cups this past weekend, getting me 1st and top 8, which is a very different list from the common one.

 Editors Note : Decklist is missing Charizard GX from Hidden Fates 


I tried Mewtwo before and I felt like I needed to hit the attachment after Welder more often, so I added some energies and tried to make the Welder turn happen more frequently so I could potentially attach 3 energies a turn for 3-4 turn in a row. That's the main goal of this list, without losing the potential of Perfection as a Deck. I also love being able to Venom Shot and be ready to Venom Shot again or use Cross Division GX to close out a game with my other Mew&Mewtwo GX, so since I try to snipe very often I felt no need for Custom Catcher. I also felt like it was very hard to play them for the desired effect so knowing this playing vs Mew hurts a lot more, and I do expect Mew to be very popular at Regionals. But I also see the problem with bench space making it hard to play cards like Ninetales and hard to utilize cards like Giratina sometimes.


Mewtwo’s matchups are pretty good. The deck doesn’t have any unwinnable matchups since you can tech it to beat pretty much anything or at least get a better matchup. So let’s look at matchups:


Malamar is one of the weirdest matchups. I personally think Malamar is favored if they set up, and Mew3 is a faster deck, allowing you to disrupt their early game. Jirachi GX doesn’t play that big of a role in this matchup. Your main goal as Mew3 is to Cross Division  GX Turn 2. It’s possible to eliminate all the potential Malamar from your opponent’s side, making it hard/impossible for them to pull off an attack and giving you another turn/knockout.

 I also felt like the games in which you can’t pull this off, you can still win without Jirachi, especially if your opponent isn’t careful with his or her bench. You can set up a free retreater like something with a board or even Latios and just keep using Giratina to get 2 damage counters on your opponent's side of the board. Then you keep promoting Giratina, letting it get knocked out by your opponent’s Giratina. This will be putting 60 damage per knockout on your opponent's side. That’s a total of 300 damage, and you’ll get to use Giratina a 6th time after they take their 5th prize. Combined with a Cross Division GX, this not only plays around spell tag but leaves your opponent with nothing on their side of the field to respond to your Mew3. 520 damage is enough to get 3 Malamar Ko’ed, a Giratina, and a Jirachi. You can also outrage with Reshiram&Charizard GX to add 30 damage and make it tank another hit from Giratina, as long as they don’t have bench space for Espur or Espeon&Deoxys. I know Jirachi GX can be very helpful in this matchup, but it’s sometimes very useless since games that you’re just too fast you’ll win without it and during some of the longer games they can always hit Power Plant to get the job done, making Jirachi a waste of bench space.

 PikaRom is another favorable matchup if they don’t play Mew. I would say there’s very little they can do in this matchup since you can use Latios Tag Purge while getting another Mew3 ready. Then you can Venom Shot a Dedenne and blow up a Tag Team with your GX. When they play Mew, I like hitting Pika for 230 and then using Cross Division to get Rid of the damaged Pika and Mew and finish the game with Venom Shot.

 Tag purge should be your first attack, making you safe from most things except Hoopa/Zapdos. If they attack with Zeraora GX and you just one shot it, they’ll lose too many energies and won’t be able to attack you with a Tag Team next turn.

PidgeyControl is a tricky matchup. You just have to play a bit around Articuno and not go fully all-in on 1 Pokemon. Try to set up a good Cross Division GX maybe after 1 or 2 KO’s and eliminate every Pidgeotto possible. If you can stamp that same turn, go for it.

 That should leave them with very little available resources, and the need to set up those Pidgeottos again, making them miss the lock more often than not.


I think nothing really has an insane matchup vs AbilityZard/FireBox, so it’s always about how the game plays out. Just don’t leave yourself with every energy on only one MewTwo. I usually try to always have 1 on a Mew3 so I can reach the 4 energy attacks the turn that I need that Mew3 to attack. They over bench a lot more than you do, leaving them no room to set up new attackers, so if you can go after the energies and map out your prizes as the game progresses you should be able to do fine in this matchup. Their best option to one-shot you is by using Blacephalon, and without it they’ll have to commit 6 energies, making it harder to follow up with a Ko right after that. I would leave my GX open for Cross Division GX or Miraculous Duo GX. Their biggest pokemon will be Heatran GX, and this is why you always want to have at least 1 energy on a Mew3, so you can respond to Heatran with Flare Blitz or even Venom Shot. Against AbilityZard you need to Have Hidden Fates Charizard, and again having 1 energy always on a Mewtwo is very important.


So I think in the end it comes down to a lot of 50-50 matchups for the Welder deck, and if you don’t want to be a part of that, Malamar is another safe pick.


Malamar doesn’t really have any hard counters in the format and does pretty well vs any weird decks like Beheeyem, NagQuag, Spititomb, and others. It’s just a solid deck that also feels like it can beat anything when you set up and is actually not that inconsistent compared to the other decks in this format.


AbilityZard is a fine matchup. If your opponent knows what they’re doing, they should be bringing stuff up that doesn’t have a Spell Tag and utilizing Ninetales as much as possible. They’ll try to use a non-GX Pokemon to hit you, but this requires a lot of energies 2 for Ninetales ability plus 3 to power up an attacker. They don’t really have that many non-Gx attackers, so you should be able to out trade them in that matchup. Spell Tag damage should be placed on Dedenne, Ninetales, or Jirachi so you can later try to Cross Division GX or use Espurr.

PikaRom can be really annoying if they play Hoopa and multiple Lysandre Labs, but you can still find some impactful knockouts with Espurr. Taking 3 prizes with 2 attacks is the way to go in this matchup since it will be very hard to utilize Spell Tag. If you do get a Spell tag to go off, the best place to put it would probably be Dedenne, since you can get two Distortion Door from Giratina onto that Dedenne allowing you to be able to use Cross Division GX for 100, taking 2 prizes later in the game. One attack for 2 prizes is a good trade.

It’s the start of the season, and a lot of decks don’t have perfect lists yet. Take advantage of that, and play a consistent deck that has been around for a while for this tournament. Those decks will certainly do well. Before I go, I want to mention that I am currently taking some new students. Message me on Twitter if you are interested.

Thank you for reading this article, and good luck in Atlantic City.


[+32] okko


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