Experts' corner

Igor Costa

What to Play for London International

In this article, 2012 World Champion Igor Costa discusses his expectations for the London Intercontinental metagame...

12/07/2016 by Igor Costa

In this article, 2012 World Champion Igor Costa discusses his expectations for the London Intercontinental metagame. Igor has a unique viewpoint - as a European player currently living and playing in the US, Igor has seen both sides of the sea and is uniquely positioned to help you make your deck decision for the first top level event of the season.

Hey, it’s Igor here. Thanks for coming back to read another one of my articles. I hope you enjoyed the last one. I'm happy to be back again to talk about the game I love.

Today, I’d like to talk about the upcoming London Intercontinental. In this article, I will go over lists for the decks I think will be the most played, why they will be played, and most importantly, how to beat them. Additionally, I'll extensively cover the most widely played (and most successful) deck of the format, Yveltal.

As many as you know, Yveltal just won the last Regionals. From Orlando to Ft. Wayne Regionals, the meta didn’t change that much, despite the new Evolutions set release. Evolutions made some decks stronger, but did not introduce major new archetypes.

M Gardevoir and M Rayquaza were two notable winners from the new Evolutions release due to the strength of recovery offered by Dragonite EX. Due to this, most thought they would be widely played, making Mega Mewtwo a weaker play for Ft. Wayne compared to Orlando. However, with the expected rise in Gardevoir, Mega Scizor got a lot of hype since it’s a good counter to Mega Gardevoir and is strong against the Rainbow Road Xerneas deck. Additionally, there was a notable increase in metal techs, such as the new Magearna Promo and Magearna EX, to combat the expected fairy meta.

I ended up playing M Gardevoir for Ft. Wayne Regionals. I was planning to play Yveltal, but I decided to not to at the last second. I definitely regret it since there was a lot of metal in the field. We had heard that there might be some metal decks, but I put that off to paranoia and decided to go with my consistent list that I felt confident playing with. Jimmy Pendarvis, who ended up playing the Yveltal list we made, won the entire tournament undefeated. That made me feel really good about our list and testing results, so I was happy with the result even though I did not  win.

The results from Fort Wayne are interesting to me. M Mewtwo, despite being very popular in Florida, was virtually nonexistent. Rainbow Road largely underperformed. Greninja did better than I expected it to, with several finishes in top cut and even a few making top 8. Gardevoir had too much of a target on its back to do well but even counter decks like Scizor also did not do particularly well. I think this goes to show that simply countering one deck is not a solid enough strategy to win an entire large tournament, so I hope that people consider that when choosing their deck for London.

I’m sure everyone is wondering what the play for London will be. Many Americans are making the trip to compete in the Intercontinental, because the prize money and CP are definitely worth it. I wish I could go myself, but I won’t be able to this time. I hope to go to the Brazil Intercontinental. However, I have played in the ECC in the past, and of course, have close ties to the European meta, so I can help you guys out with what to play. I've also played in the United States for a few tournaments now, so I have insight into what Americans that are attending London will play as well. This puts me in a unique position to discuss the London metagame.

I believe London is going to be largely the same metagame that we have been playing in. However, I believe that people are going to try to counter Yveltal a bit harder now that it has won both American regionals.. It’s not easy since there’s no counter for Garbodor, and that makes all the electric decks struggle. Even if you’re able to counter Yveltal with cards like Raichu and Zebstrika, your deck probably won’t be as good against all the other decks due the diversity of the format. Despite Yveltal winning both American Regionals, the format is still quite diverse overall and not every single person will switch to Yveltal, so your deck must have a way to beat the other decks in the  field. At a big tournament like this one, players with consistent decks will be rewarded. There will be a lot of inexperienced players in attendance, with inconsistent decks that more consistent decks will defeat. This doesn’t mean you need to play around every tech, but consistency will win out at the end of the day.

I reently played in the ARG Circuit Series Tournament in Richmond. It seemed like at least half of the players there were trying to counter Yveltal. I played against a Raichu deck, and I saw Jolteon, Zebstrika and Galvantula represented by multiple players each. I don't think this is a good strategy, because there ended up being almost more of these decks than Yveltal. If someone had just played a consistent, non-Yveltal deck like Mega Mewtwo, they would have won the tournament. A few of those decks may have made the top 8, but only because the size of the tournament was so small. Also, the ARG tournaments are best of one format, which increases the variance of the tournament, and puts less focus on one of Yveltal's biggest strengths, consistency.

Lets take a look at the most popular decks in the meta and the reasons why people play them to understand the potential plays for the tournament and do a quick analysis, after which I will give my current list for each deck.

Xerneas (Rainbow Road):

This deck has two primary strengths - it can consistently OHKO the majority of the format, and it is based around a non-ex attacker, which creates favorable 1 for 2 trades. Xerneas enjoys the ability to easily tech a wide variety of Pokemon. By teching in a Flygon EX, it becomes easy to ensure you can KO an EX pokemon every turn. In theory, this deck is very strong - however, smart players can play around it via Parallel City + N, and Garbodor makes Parallel City and N even hard to deal with. I don’t think I would ever play it in a Tournament as big as London. Even lists with 2-2 Galvantula (designed to feast on Shaymin EX) have problems against its poor matchups, since many decks can discard their own Shaymin EX's with Parallel City. Even though I would not play this deck myself, this deck has a prime position in the metagame. It is very important to know the matchup.

{deck 2426}

Mega Gardevoir:

Another deck to be prepared for is Mega Gardevoir. Since it’s really easy to play, players will bring it, and it’s incredibly consistent, but only if you can play your abilities or else it’s going to lack damage and set up. Not being able to use Dragonite EX to re-use Shaymin EX and get your Pokemon back do deal the damage that you need to OHKO a Pokemon is a huge roadblock, so this is another deck that struggles against the Garbodor + Parallel City combo. It’s just something else that makes it even harder to set up having enough Pokemon to take KO’s on EX. All in all, it’s another deck that I wouldn’t consider bringing since it also loses to Garbodor + Parallel - and that's  without considering the increase in counter decks to Gardevoir such as Scizor. Therefore, I think Gardy is a bad choice - although, this opens the meta for M Mewtwo potentially.

M Rayquaza:

Rayquaza also got a boost with the new Dragonite EX, but it's still relatively inconsistent. It loses to Garbodor + Parallel City + N very easily. There’s been an increase of enhanced hammer since Yveltal is so popular, and that makes Rayquaza really bad for the meta. This deck has a very bad matchup against Yveltal, since they can lock it out of the game with Garb, and Lysandre up something to hit with Fright Night, while using Enhanced Hammer to make it literally impossible for the Ray player to do anything. Since it has this near-autoloss I would not bring Rayquaza to London. That being said, here is what I believe to be an optimal Ray list.


Another deck to look out for is Scizor EX. I honestly don’t think the deck is good, but since it can play Parallel City and Garbodor, they do have a slight advantage over many decks in the meta. Also, because Fairy is such a common type, you can cheese a few autowins with the right matchup luck.

The reason why I don’t like this deck is that you struggle to OHKO Pokemon that are not weak to metal, making it hard to take prizes. Yveltal is also a tough matchup. It gets destroyed by Volcanion, and unlike Mega Mewtwo, which can be powered up with only Double Colorless Energy, you need 2 energies to power up an attacker and that means that N will affect you much more since you need to get 2 cards to power up an attacker. After your M Scizor gets KO'd, it can be very tough to recover if you don't have another M Scizor in play. Even Gardevoir can sometimes struggle with powering up the second Mega Gardevoir - and Scizor doesn’t have all the set up cards that Gardevoir decks have.

I think playing a deck that really only beats one or two matchups is a bad decision. It's okay to have one or two bad matchups or an even autoloss, but don't sacrifice consistency for an autowin.


I still like Volcanion a lot, even though it has fallen by the wayside a bit in terms of popularity. It’s a consistent deck doesn’t have a lot of weaknesses besides Garbodor and Hex Maniac, so it's a bit underrated in my opinion. However, it also doesn’t have a good matchup against Xerneas and it can lose to Gardevoir fairly easily. If you happen to play a Gyarados, don't expect to win. It also struggles with almost any deck with Garbodor. However, it can always get an explosive start and simply outpace any other deck. The mirror is also somewhat luck based, unlike Yveltal. Overall, Volcanion is simply too fragile to be my number one choice for the London Intercontinental, but it is very consistent, and like I mentioned before, consistency will be the key to surviving a long tournament.

I would be prepared for it going into London - it will be played. Since it came out it always been a good deck, and people only will get better at playing it and building it, so don’t underestimate Volcanion. Consistency and power can go a long way in such a grinding tournament. The build I have now is a bit different than the way I played it in my previous article, so make sure to look carefully


I honestly think that Gyrados is better than ever before. I think it struggled against Mega Mewtwo, and that seems to be gone because of Gardevoir having dual type and being able to one shot Mewtwo for 2 energies. This makes Gyarados a smart play at the moment.

There’s ways to play around it, such as killing off the damaged Magikarp to mess with their gameplan and math. I also noticed that people were playing Absol in their Gardevoir deck to beat mirror, which is also pretty good against Gyrados since you can either move damage from the benched Magikarp to the Active Gyarados or KO a benched Magikarp for free. Additionally, Rainbow Road plays Galvantula which is really good against Gyrados, so I wouldn’t be too concerned about it becoming a large part of the meta. Mr. Mime in this deck could potentially help solve this problem.

Darkrai/Giratina EX/Garbodor:

This deck is really good. It turns powerful attackers into quick attackers with max elixir and float stone. Garbodor shuts off abilities, and Giratina stops Stadiums from coming down, so you can lock Parallel City and make it impossible for them to replace the stadium. It also makes special energies useless if you’re attacking with Giratina EX, and a lot of decks rely on those to attack. Making all the tools, energies, and stadiums useless is almost like Quaking Punching - since they’re going to have a lot of unplayable cards, many hands become dead quickly.

The new Salamence EX is also an excellent tech. It can punish players for overextending their benching of EXs, and because this deck already utilizes Double Dragon Energy, it's really easy to integrate Salamence as a mid to late game sweeper.

Just having Garbodor + Parallel City in the deck makes it really good, if you haven't noticed that yet. Most decks either lose to Garbodor + Parallel City, or play it themselves. With such a strong combo, I see no reason not to play Garbodor + Parallel City. I think this deck is a good play for London, and would definitely build it and give it a try.


M Mewtwo/Garbodor:

I think Mewtwo might still have a place in this meta, even with all the Gardevoir hype. Like I said, Scizor is becoming popular, opening space for M Mewtwo by hating out some of the Gardevoir.

When I played Mewtwo in Orlando Regionals and got top 8, I felt really good about the Yveltal matchup, but Darkrai/Giratina was such a bad matchup, I added Hex Maniac to change the matchup in my favor but shutting off Giratina EX's ability repeatedly with VS Seeker. Against Yveltal, Hex Maniac helps a lot if they try to lock a non-attacker with Fright Night and spread damage. M Mewtwo can OHKO Yveltal for just a DCE if the Yveltal is powered up as well, so you just have to get M Mewtwo active. Fright Night is usually an optimal strategy against us to turn off our Spirit links, so Hex Maniac can really swing the matchup when played at the right time. Yveltal also plays Enhanced Hammer and Parallel City, so we want to avoid dropping Special Energies early in the game and try to look for Parallel City ASAP. We want to make them have 3 benched Pokemon for the rest of the game unless they play Delinquent. If they play Parallel first, things might get complicated since we need to dig for Shrine of Memories to displace the Parallel City.

Against Rainbow Road we can one shot Xerneas with only one Double Colorless and we also have Garbodor to stop them from setting up. Parallel City makes it so they can't OHKO Mewtwo after discarding a bunch of Pokemon and being unable to re-setup due to not being able to use Abilities under Garbodor. If they deal 120-200 we can Damage Change and heal back to full HP and get a KO. Getting rid of an attacker and then using Parallel and N for 4 with Garb is not easy to come back from for Xerneas.

The list has not changed too much since my top 8, so here is the best version:



This is the currently the best deck in the format, and it’s kind of obvious by now since there's not really a Tier One deck that counters it. There’s no matchup that feels bad or worse than another. You can beat anything with it, and it also plays the wombo combo with Garbodor + Parallel. On top of that, Fright Night Yveltal is able to lock your opponent in a lot of situations where it wouldn't benefit you to take out Garb.

Against Mirror, our list plays Enhanced Hammer and Pokemon Center Lady, and if they play the Stadium first we can always Delinquent and play ours after and make it impossible for our opponent to replace it with a Parallel. So even if they replace it with another stadium, we can always play our second Parallel. Delinquent is very good, because it makes it so you don't have to play a useless Stadium like Reverse Valley to remove opposing Parallel Citys, and also because it disrupts your opponent so much to discard 3 cards from hand. A lot of the time, people will not play around it every single turn or will forget about it entirely. Also, in the late game, you can N them to anywhere from 1-4, and if they only play one or two cards you can just discard the entire thing before they get a chance to build back up their hand size again.

Against Rainbow Road, we have Garbodor, Parallel City, and Hammers to make them miss attacks. If they don't have an EXP share, they basically lose to Hammer + KO. Also, many people will not remember to play around Enhanced Hammer. They can’t really one shot Yveltal with 210 HP after getting N’d and discarding a bunch of Pokemon because of our Parallel City, and on top of that they can’t use Shaymin EX to come back in the game because of Garbodor. A lot of the time the deck struggles to even 2HKO Yveltal with a Belt. Even M Mewtwo beats Rainbow Road with this game plan, and our Yveltal also plays Hammers and Delinquent in addition to the tools of M Mewtwo. Xerneas' best plan will try to do is to attack with Galvantula. Be wary of benching something you can't retreat or attack with (such as Fright Night with no Energy attached), because they will Lysandre it up and do 60 and 60 to two benched EX, since Galvantula can utilize weakness against your attackers.

Against Gardevoir, Fright Night Yveltal seems so good against all the EXs - but its actually not the way to go in the early game. Gardevoir can one shot it and heal all the damage you’ve been doing by discarding Pokemon, even if you are "locking" them with a heavy retreat pokemon and denying Float Stone. This is because Gardevoir variants usually play at least 1 Hex Maniac and 2 Switch or Escape Ropes, so it becomes easy for them to disrupt your plan. The way to go in this matchup is to put out an early Garbodor, since they always take 2 turns to start attacking you’re almost guaranteed to have enough time to build it. Then, you need to look for Fighting Fury Belt so our Yveltals can’t get OHKO’d, and from there, trades are going to be even in prizes, but they need to build Megas while most of their setup cards like Shaymin EX, Hoopa EX, and Dragonite EX are useless because of our Garbodor. We also get to move energies back with Y cyclone. We also play non EX attackers while they don’t, forcing them to take seven prizes to our six.

Scizor is very similar in play to Gadevoir. You out-trade them, but Yveltal BKT is much stronger since Scizor has almost no way to OHKO a Yveltal BKT - letting Yveltal BKT be extremely frustrating to a Scizor player stuck without Float Stones and Spirit Links until a Garbodor is activated.  Against any deck that plays Garbodor, including the mirror, we should try to build our Garbodor carefully. Against other Garbodor decks, Garbodor is primarily useful to shut off Shaymin EX - so there's no point of wasting resources to activate the ability unless you desire to shut off a Shaymin EX out following an N to 4 for example.

I definitely think that Yveltal once again is the deck to play and beat. Yveltal is extremely versatile, and lacks a true splashable counter. Many decks attempting to counter Yveltal will simply fold to more consistent decks over the course of such a large tournament, and Yveltal can stand toe to toe with any deck because of how consistent it is. London is going to have a lot of people, andmost players are more focused in building their own decks well rather than countering Yveltal, so I wouldn’t be afraid of counters. Even if counters are played, in such a large tournament, it'll be reasonable to simply miss playing them due to fortunate pairings. 

This is the list Jimmy Pendarvis used to win Ft. Wayne. Heading into London, I don't see any reason to change a thing about it.

I really hope that you've enjoyed reading my thoughts on the format. I wish everyone good luck going into London, the event looks like it will be great. I can't wait to see what and who does well, and whether or not Yveltal will take it home once again, or if someone will come up with a way to take it down. The next event I'm attending will probably be Texas Regionals, and I hope I'll see you there!


[+6] okko


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