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Rahul Reddy

The 4th Quarter Comeback: Closing out the Season Strong with Guardians Rising Decks

Rahul goes over his thoughts about Guardians Rising Decks...

05/31/2017 by Rahul Reddy

Rahul goes over his thoughts about Guardians Rising Decks, and the remainder of the season leading up to the North American Intercontinental coming up at the end of June.

Introduction

Hello again 60cards readers, I'm back to talk to you guys about Guardians Rising decks and some thoughts on the last stretch of tournaments we have leading up to the World Championships. First off, let me recap how my past month and a half have been since my last article. As you guys know, I took the month of April off from playing to finish the Spring Semester strong and close out final exams and came back to Roanoke Regionals. The format pre-Guardians Rising had been "solved" with Decidueye/Vileplume being the most overbearing deck in the format, which led to two decks in the finals that hard countered Decidueye decks. I had arrived late Friday night at the event with teammates Igor Costa and Jimmy Pendarvis and began testing out decks that seemed viable for the event.

I had come to the forgone conclusion that I would be playing Decidueye myself or my teammate Ryan Sabelhaus' Mega Mewtwo/Wobb deck that didn't play Garbodor. Decidueye seemed like an unstoppable force and there were so many results behind it I couldn't disagre with its power. Ryan had talked to me about a no-Garb Mewtwo deck that beats almost everything in the current format but after playing a few games with it against Deciduye I determined that the matchup was even and at that point I'll just play Decidueye because a Turn 1 Plume can cheese out a game in a Bo3. After testing both decks, I found myself drawing better and winning more games with the Decidueye deck that was in my hands so I sleeved it up and went to bed hoping for the best the very next day.

Round 1 vs Mega Ampharos WW
Round 2 vs Mirror WLL
Round 3 vs Turbo Darkrai WLW
Round 4 vs Mewtwo/Garb/Wobb LL
Round 5 vs Volcanion WW
Round 6 vs Mega Ray WW
Round 7 vs Mega Ray WW
Round 8 vs Mega Ray WW
Round 9 vs Volcanion WW

After starting 2-2 I thought my tournament run was over but I was able to go on a heater and play my way to a 7-2 finish and secure a spot in my 4th Day 2 this season. 

Round 10 vs Mega Mewtwo/Wobb WW
Round 11 vs Speed Dark LL
Round 12 vs Mega Mewtwo/ Wobb LWT
Round 13 vs Volcanion LL
Round 14 vs Speed Dark LWW

I finished 16th after a rough Day 2 with some dead draws and unfortunate luck but I was more than pleased. If I were to play Seattle my top choice would be the same list I played in Virginia but adding a Field Blower and cutting some card which I haven't determined yet, probably the Mewtwo EVO. 

Following Virginia I was hoping to have success in the expanded format over in Canada. Ryan Sabelhaus and I took the Volcanion list I had success with over in St Louis and decided to run it back. To our surprise we ran face first into a format filled with Toad/Tina and Toad/Bats. I was unfortunate and ran into enough bad matchups to eliminate me by Round 7 from contention, but Ryan managed to pull off a Top 8 finish. This leaves me in 20th place and striking range of the Top 16 for the World Championships if I can have a few fortunate finishes.

This article is to prepare you guys for the marathon of tournaments coming up in this format. Looking at the calendar we have Seattle, Madison, Mexico and Origins in back-to-back-to-back-to-back weekends all in the Standard format. This means we'll either have the same thing happen for a few weeks in a row or the metagame and format will adapt quickly and become fleshed out as the weeks go on. I'm willing to bet on the latter of the two scenarios as I myself am prepared to adapt and figure out my deck choices on the fly. Let's jump into some of the decks that I've been testing and will take to cups and with me as choices to the upcoming regionals. 

Mega Gardevoir-EX and Friends

Mega Gardevoir is one of my favorite decks to play for an inexplicable reason. The satisfaction of discarding your entire bench and forcing your opponent to answer the threat before them is an allure that I can't ignore. When crafting my list for my league cup this past Saturday I was thinking about all the cards that could make Gardy better and there were a few that stuck out to me. After talking briefly with Kian Amini I was convinced to put in the Field Blower and I convinced him to put in the Mallow and Pyschic Energy. The list later on made its way to my good friend Bradley Curcio who went on to win back to back cups with it this past weekend. 

First off, I'd like to mention that the Sudowoodo listed in this list is not the one that I played--I played the new one that limits the opposing player's bench to 4 Pokémon to counter Mega Rayquaza EX based decks that used to be the biggest problem for Gardevoir. Let's jump into some of the tech cards shall we?

1 Oricorio

I was infatuated with this card the moment I laid eyes on it. I knew that it was going to be good and wanted to play it no matter what in my Gardevoir. On Turn 1 Gardevoir needs nothing more than a Gardevoir-EX with an energy attached to it. By Turn 2 you need a Link, a Mega and a 2nd energy. Having the bird makes it so you find 2 energy instantly and solve one of the pieces of that puzzle. I also played a single copy of Psychic Energy which could also be brought out by the effect of the bird. 

1 Professor Kukui

A lot of the time you'll have trouble taking a one shot on things and have to settle for a two shot, but with the inclusion of Tapu Lele GX you can fetch out the supporter that you want for any situation. This warrants the inclusion of Kukui to get that 20 damage when you really need it and make that two shot into a one shot. 

1 Skyla

After cutting Trainer's Mails I was left with a single spot in the deck and didn't know what to fill it with. I realized that with a single Ultra Ball you can grab a Lele for a Skyla and get any item in the deck most importantly a switching card or a spirit link to help you get a Turn 2 Despair Ray off. Opening a Skyla also nets you an Ultra Ball which can get you a Hoopa EX and begin your snowball set up. 

1 Mallow

Mallow was a card that piqued my interest when I saw it and I thought that it would have some practical use in a deck like Ray or Gardy where you are constantly using Shaymin-EX to dig for 1 or 2 cards in a desperate effort to find a certain card. What if you could put the card you wanted on top of your deck and ensure that you draw them with Shaymin-EX? That alone made me want to play this card with zero testing put into it. 

1 Field Blower

Now that Rattata has lost its place in the deck there needs to be an answer to Fighting Fury Belt. I hardly saw any this past weekend as they were being replaced in favor of Choice Band, but having an answer to the Fury Belt or a pesky stadium card like Silent Lab or Parallel City is always worth having. 

1 Psychic Energy

Having one different energy card wouldn't harm my Gardevoir's attack in any way so I thought about all the possible options that I had. Fire or Fighting would allow me to use my opponent's Scorched Earth which is what Brad Curcio opted to do, but a single Psychic allows me the opportunity to use Tapu Cure-GX. I doubt there will be many scenarios where you can use it, but having that option was what I wanted when I included the Psychic Energy. 

Here's a breif recap of how my League Cup went. 

Round 1 vs Sylveon L
Round 2 vs Greninja L
Round 3 Bye W
Round 4 vs Garb/Drampa W
Round 5 vs Volcanion W

Sylveon (Even)

I believe that the Sylveon matchup is even because they're so beefy. Going first and having the Lele for the Hex wins you the game right then and there but going second can prove to be a hassle at times. It comes down to how their hammer flips go and how quickly they begin milling your resources like Mega Turbo and your VS Seekers for Brock's. Ideally you would like to use Brock 3-4 times and slowly sweep their entire board. My loss came due to some unfortunate mills and my opponent having the fortune of hitting a majority of his hammer flips causing me to never attack and losing the game. 

Greninja (Unfavorable)

Greninja was a close but unfavorable matchup back when the deck didn't have Choice Band and Gardy played Fairy Drop as an answer to the chip damage that would happen due to Shadow Stiching. Now that Field Blower and Choice Band exist Greninja will make sure you never have a Stadium Card down and Shadow Stiching 3 times to take out a Mega Gardevoir. With Giant Water Shurikens in tow if you ever miss a Hex Maniac they can take 4 prizes in the same turn very easily or simply eliminate a Mega Gardevoir EX from your field leaving you scrambling to find answers. 

Decidueye/Plume (Favorable)

With the inclusion of Tapu Lele, finding Hex Maniac has gotten easier and Tapu Cure also helps in healing two of your guys and reusing them. If they play the Ninetails version, it can be a little tricky if you can't score the OHKO but I believe its more favorable than the Lugia and Tauros version that plagued the format prior. 

Volcanion (Favorable)

Volcanion was already favorable but now that they're cutting Fury Belt in favor of Choice Band, getting the one shot is much easier. Having a Hex Maniac to stop their onslaught is also made simple with Tapu Lele GX. You can ideally chain Hex Maniacs and one shot anything they play and if they ever bench a Hoopa EX or a Shaymin-EX that's two free prizes ripe for the taking. 

Drampa (Espeon-GX)/Garbodor (Favorable)

This version of Gardevoir doesn't rely on items as heavily so you can cleverly play around Garbodor. You'll be one-shotting them and putting pressure on them long before they ever get into a range to one shot your Gardevoirs. Drampa also doesn't have the ability to Righteous Edge away any of your energy as you don't play any Special Energy so a Drampa becomes a free two prizes once it hits the board. Tapu Lele is also a free two prizes once it hits the board because you don't really care about 80 damage that it can do to you. The Espeon-GX version is easier because of Espeon's Psychic weakness. The only card that makes this matchup slightly annoying is Tauros-GX because you have to one shot it or it'll begin to pose a problem with Horn Attack+Choice Band. 

My lackluster finish was a product of walking into a room full of Greninja and not having the time to switch decks, but Brad Curcio's two cup wins prove that the deck is good and definitely a threat moving forwards. 

Greninja 

While it pains me to write about this deck due to my prior experiences with it, I cannot deny that it is a powerhouse Tier 1 deck moving forward in this format. Greninja was eliminated from the scene after Garbodor decks and Decidueye decks became rampant, as they had no answer for either. With the introduction of Field Blower, the Garbodor problem was answered--but the Decidueye problem has yet to be answered. Choice Band makes the deck do insane amounts of damage for small attacks like Shadow Stiching and now can max a single turn of damage to 230 damage with two snipes and a Moonlight Slash back to the hand. While there are two ways to run the deck, one with Talonflame and one without, I prefer the one without as it leaves very few dead cards in the deck and allows a continuous stream of Greninja while hardly ever missing a Turn 2 Water Duplicates. 

Greninja is Greninja, it has hardly changed list-wise since its inception but the only notable changes that have occured are the exclusion of Bursting Balloon in favor of the Choice Bands. 

Choice Band

The card boosts your damage by a ton and allows a simple Shadow Stiching to do 70 damage before snipes and Moonlight Slash sets up for a KO on even the beefiest of GX Pokémon. Volcanion becomes even easier than it used to and any Ex or GX based deck will struggle to answer the damage and the constant stream of attackers. 

Decidueye/Plume (Very Unfavorable)

Greninja can't really deal too well with a Turn 1 Vileplume not to mention a 240 HP Grass behemoth staring it down. Even with 2 snipes and a Moonlight Slash aided by Choice Band, the damage is maxed at 230. Not to mention the Grass weakness in front of you--a single Razor Leaf will one-shot anything in the deck and Greninja takes a few turns to set up. Not being able to take any one shots and being under item lock spell certain doom for this deck as it relies on cycling and using the plethora of balls in the deck to set up. 

Sylveon (Favorable)

Sylveon relies on getting rid of your energy and disrupting you by milling the deck but bouncing the energy back to your hand means that they'll never be able to use their Flare Grunts or Crushing Hammers. Going first and putting Silent Lab down also spells their doom because they don't usually play an answer to that other than their Delinquent. 

Mega Gardevoir EX (Favorable)

Shadow Stiching for insane amounts of damage along with being able to snipe and one shot a Mega Gardevoir-EX in a single turn is insane. If they ever miss a Hex, you blow up their whole field but they will run out of Hex Maniacs and VS Seekers long before you run out of Greninja. They can take 4 prizes with relative ease but those last 2 prizes are an incredible hassle to take. 

Volcanion (Very Favorable)

Volcanion was already a favorable matchup due to the type advantage and Shadow Stiching ensuring that you'll never get one-shot by a Volcanion-EX. With the aid of Choice Band you're now dealing insane amounts of Damage with a single Shadow Stiching and with Silent Lab as well you're crippling their entire set up and running through them once set up. 

Drampa (Espeon-GX)/Garbodor (Favorable)

Greninja's perenial nemesis Garbodor makes his return to the scene but this time trying to one shot you based on items. Not playing items is a little hard to do but once you're set up you can take out 3 Garbodors in 2 turns with Giant Water Shuriken. Field Blower deals with Ability Garbodor if they ever get it out and it can be sniped down on the bench at that point. Drampa can be annoying if it is getting rid of your Splash Energies but you can bounce them back so they're never at any risk of being discarded. 

My teammate Igor Costa won a cup this past weekend with Greninja and Greninja is seeing mass success all across the United States and Europe at Cups and the Special Event that just happened. Moving forwards Greninja is a deck that your deck should be prepared to answer, if you move into a tournament taking a loss to Greninja you're in for a really bad time.

 

Raichu/Lycanroc-GX

This last deck I'll discuss is a pet deck that I was working on prior to this weekend but didn't have the stones to pull the trigger on. Raichu has always been one of my favorite cards due to its insane damage output and how efficiently the deck sets up. Raichu almost always preys on taking 3-EX/GX knockouts and ending the game quickly but a late game N can prevent you from finding your Lysandre out. With this version you not only have your 1 Lysandre and 4 VS Seeker but also 4 Lycanroc with Bloodthirsty Eyes to grab knockouts as you please. No Shaymin is safe on the bench and neither is any Tapu Lele-GX. Without further ado let me present my crazy concoction. 

The deck looks very simple due to all of the 4 ofs right? Well that's the point--I want to be as consistent as possible in my set up to ensure that I am able to KO anything on my 2nd turn every game. Lycanroc-GX is one of my favorite cards in the new set and I think it has insane potential; this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what I'll be testing moving forwards. 

3-3 Raichu

This is the first odd thing you might notice about this list. Why not a 4-4 Raichu you might ask, well I prefer to have the 4-4 Lycanroc-GX over the Raichu because of Rescue Stretcher. Rescue Stretcher will always ensure that I'll have Raichu when I need it. Raichu also is dominant in the early game but can take a back seat to the secondary attacker Lycanroc in the late game. Once you begin getting N'd to 2 or less making a big Raichu is more effort than attacking with Lycanroc so I chose a thinner line of Raichu.

4-4 Lycanroc-GX

Lycanroc is more than its Bloodthirsty Eyes ability. It is also a secondary attacker. Lycanroc's-GX attack is impossible to play around and will lead to an easy two prizes against any deck that plays EX and GX Pokémon, using that can get you off to an early lead and conserve your resources to use Raichu later on. Lycanroc also is very beefy and can OHKO a Shaymin EX with a Strong Energy attached. Overall the card is very strong and I would prefer having a thick line of this than Raichu. The Rockruff also has Corner as an attack so you can bring something up and stall for a few turns until you are set up if need be. 

1 Hex Maniac

Without a single copy of Hex Maniac I doubt you'll beat Greninja. Greninja already seems like an impossible matchup due to them being able to snipe everything easily. With a single hex you can hope that they stumble and you can snag those last few prizes while chaining Hex. 

1 Professor Kukui

Raichu can hit for a max damage of 160 if the entire bench is full, 190 with a Choice Band BUT with the inclusion of Professor Kukui you can now swing for 210 ensuring a KO on most GX Pokémon. GX and Mega Pokémon are traditionally around 200-210 HP, making this perfect numbers to secure one shots almost every time you use the Circle Circuit attack. The math can also be very important to getting Lycanroc's damage higher and taking a cruicial knockout using the GX attack. 

2 Rescue Stretcher

While this card is still not as good as Sacred Ash, it's a suitable replacement. We had Super Rod but the basic energy aspect of Rod was never applicable to Raichu decks. Rescue Stretcher allows us to get 3 Pokémon back or grab a crucial Pokémon to complete whatever piece we're missing at the time. For example grabbing a Lycanroc GX can grant us a catcher effect, grabbing a Raichu is your attacker or grabbing a Tapu Lele-GX to get a Kukui or Hex. 

2 Field Blower

Field Blower is an amazing card in this deck. You can freely remove your opponents Float Stones and Fighting Fury Belts making one shots more accessible. You can also get rid of your opponent's Parallel City or Silent Lab that is stopping you from setting up and popping off. On the flip side you can get rid of your own Sky Field and ensure that your opponent has no easy one shots on Shaymin-EX sitting on your bench. 

4 Strong Energy

At first I was going to only run 2 Strong Energy when I had been testing with a thicker Raichu Line and a thinner Lycanroc Line but Lycanroc was proving to be a very useful attacker and that lead me to playing a full set of Strong Energy. Basic Fighting isn't needed because Giratina EX is a non existant threat currently but Sylveon can be a problem with their Enhanced Hammers. Raichu is all you really need so you can really just play conservatively and win the game. 

Greninja (Unfavorable)

Greninja is an unfavorable matchup because once they get set up and get the ball rolling you can't really stop them unless you can chain Hex Maniac. Once you take the first knockout you're going to be Ace Trainered to 3 cards and if there's a Silent Lab in play as well it'll be very difficult to make a comeback. Giratina Promo is a card that can be included to help the matchup out but it still gets shut down under Silent Lab so having a Sky Field is pertinent to having a chance in the game. They are however a slower deck so you can take 3 prizes easily but taking the last 3 is where the game really begins. 

Sylveon (Even)

I think that Sylveon is a close matchup because they can constantly disrupt you and make it very difficult for you to stream one shots against them. However going first and finding Hex Maniac will win you the game provided they do not have a second basic Pokémon, which they rarely will have. Raichu puts on immense pressure for a single Double Colorless Energy which will have served its purpose even if it is removed. There are also 2 Special Charge in the deck to help cycle the energy and make sure Raichu can attack 8 times. 

Mega Gardevoir (Favorable)

Mega Gardevoir used to be an awful matchup because they would discard their entire bench and you would be left attempting to one shot the behomoth left in front of you which was impossible but now with Choice Band it is very possible. Gardevoir players leave only 2 Mega Gardevoir on their field normally so taking one out will put immense pressure on them to set a 3rd up, and if they can't two shots will seal the game or a one shot again. They have no way of removing your Sky Field as well because it is all they play and that ensures that you'll almost always have 160 damage on the field. 

Decidueye/Vileplume (Unfavorable)

With the addition of 2 Wobb this matchup becomes slightly more even but Decidueye having 240 HP makes it impossible to one shot and Lycanroc also has Grass weakness making it a liability in this matchup. Anything you bench is small and can easily be sniped away by Decidueye and Razor Leaf is exactly 90 damage which is a problem. The only saving grace is hoping they bench 2 Shaymin and you have to take both of those KOs on Shaymin. If you can eliminate the Vileplume before it becomes a problem or play a timely Hex Maniac you have a chance to stay in the game but overall it is a very unfavorable matchup. 

Volcanion EX (Favorable)

Volcanion has been difficult to one shot without Choice Band but now that it has been included getting to 180 has never been easier. Taking 3 EX knockouts or 2 EX and 2 Baby Volcanion knockouts is usually the game plan and as long as you use the Lycanroc GX ability smartly you can drag up a Shaymin EX the moment it hits the board making for 2 easy prizes. Hex Maniac also plays a huge role in this matchup as you can stop the Baby Volcanion from taking a one shot on your Raichu's and the Volcanion EX from one shotting your Lycanroc GX with their Steam Up Ability. If you are really worried about this matchup in your local area I would advise cutting a 1-1 Lycanoc GX line for a 1-1 Vaporeon line tosecure the matchup.

Drampa (Espeon GX)/Garbodor (Favorable)

You can set up your board without expending too many items and it becomes a race between two 1 Prize attackers. They are inclined to bench a Tapu Lele-GX or a Drampa GX and you can grab those two as easy prizes as you can access your catcher effects easier than they can with Lycanroc GX. Putting the pressure on them and staying ahead on the prize exchange is very important in this matchup. You have the ability to Bloodthirsty Eyes and N in the same turn, they can't Lysandre and N in the same turn leaving you with the upper hand leading into the late game. 

In summary I think this deck has potential in very select meta games and I like the deck a lot but it wouldn't be one that I personally take to a regionals because I expect Greninja to be a dominant force this weekend. Decidueye also hasn't gone anywhere so I would expect to see it make its mark on this format as well this weekend. But this is a deck that I would definitely take to cups and you should too if you want to have some fun! 

Closing Thoughts

With all that being said lets do a quick recap of all this information and I'm thankful if you stuck around till the end here. Greninja is a dominating deck once again in this format as we move forwards and if you are playing in Seattle Regionals or any subsequent regionals I would plan on having some sort of answer for the deck. Gyarados which I didn't cover but fellow writer Jose Marrero covered in his last article is also a threat that I would watch out for moving forwards. Personally if I was heading to Seattle I would be piloting a Decidueye/Vileplume list that is very similar to the one that I played at Virginia Regionals and is similar to Connor Finton's Top 4 Brazil IC list because I expect the two aforementioned decks and Decidueye itself dominates both of those decks. Seattle is not in the plans for myself but my teammate Igor Costa will be there hoping to get his 6th Top 8 of the season at a regionals. I will be at Madison and Mexico Regionals with both trips booked and am very excited for both of those. Origins is something I am planning on attending as it is a short 6 hour drive from the DC area where I am home for the summer. Besides those events I will be at the North America IC so I hope to catch you guys there! I'll be chasing that Top 16 Day 2 berth which is in striking range but I'll have to put in some work to get there.

If you guys enjoyed this content and would like to check out more like it please visit my YouTube channel Youtube.com/c/TheChaosGym. I am also a part of Team CCGCastle currently so check out CCGCAstle.com and use promo code CCGTEAM5 for 5% off your next order, they currently have Lycanroc GX for $4 so I would snag some while they're still cheap. Other than that thank you guys for reading and feel free to message me on Facebook with any questions and follow me on twitter @thefleeee

[+10] okko


 

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