Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! — Decks and Preparation for the Largest Tournament of All Time

Hello Pokemon players! Right now we are headed towards one of the most hyped tournaments of all time, and I cannot wait to get this show on the road! The North American International Championship is only a few short days away, and it is predicted to be the largest Pokemon TCG tournament of all time. Some are predicting numbers as large as 2,000 for TCG Masters attendance! Regardless of the actual number of players, this event is sure to be exciting for players and spectators alike.

Such an enormous and hyped tournament begs the question (especially for newer players): how can I stand a chance at a tournament like this? Believe it or not, most of the recent U.S. National Championships have been won by little-known players. Ever since 2012, with the exception of Jason Klaczynski in 2015, talented but less renowned players have taken the tournament each time.

The most important thing is to practice. Practice a lot. The more practice you put in, the better chance you have at succeeding. That, and have a competent deck of course. All the practice in the world won’t help you if you are testing a theme deck, or worse, Greninja. As for me, I have recently picked up a summer job, so I haven’t gotten the opportunity to practice quite as much as I would like. Never fear, for I still have been playing quite a bit online when I have the time, so I have some quirky and powerful decks for you all to consider for this behemoth event.

Also, remember that weird stuff can win. It’s no secret that I like to break the format. When I was preparing for Virginia Regionals, I grind in test games against myself for hours on end until I perfected Wobbuffet Toolbox. Over a few weeks, I tweaked strategies and card counts until I was satisfied with my matchups and results. Don’t be afraid to break the mold. I actually have a version of Quad Wobbuffet made for this format, which I will share with you in just a little bit.

On the topic of weird stuff and disruption, I encourage you to keep an open mind with this article. I remember getting some mixed reactions in 2015 before Nationals. I wrote about a similar Wailord-EX concept as the one that placed second. Some criticized me for wasting time, others found it amusing, but no one really took it seriously until it proved itself at the tournament. I wish I had the guts to play it that year, and ironically Wailord itself ended up knocking me out of the tournament.

You may hear this a lot, but if you really want to succeed and give yourself a legitimate shot at winning this tournament, you have to completely apply and dedicate yourself towards it. While Pokemon has always been a game of luck, the format is in a diverse and undefined state right now. I’ve found this format to be far more skill intensive than those in recent years. Sure, you might flip seven tails in a row at the hands of Espeon-GX‘s irritating Psybeam. However, if you extensively test every matchup and pick a good deck, you can most definitely succeed at the coming International Championship. Additionally, I don’t mean test every matchup with your deck. I mean test every matchup with every single deck you are considering. Not many people have the time to do this, but my biggest downfall last year (where I failed miserably) was playing a deck that I didn’t have the time to test.

Now let’s look at the three decks that I am considering for Intercontinentals.

Decidueye / Tapu Koko

Pokemon (19)

4x Decidueye-GX (SM #12)4x Dartrix (SM #10)4x Rowlet (SM #9)3x Tapu Koko (PRSM #SM30)2x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Espeon-EX (BKP #52)

Trainers (33)

3x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)3x N (FAC #105)2x Lysandre (AOR #78)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)4x Ultra Ball (SM #135)3x Level Ball (AOR #76)3x Devolution Spray (EVO #76)3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)2x Float Stone (BKT #137)2x Field Blower (GUR #125)2x VS Seeker (SV #140)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)4x Forest of Giant Plants (AOR #74)

Energy (8)

4x Grass Energy (EVO #91)4x Double Colorless Energy (EVO #90)

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that this Decidueye list is quite weird. I’ve been playing this online a lot recently and it actually works. The idea is to start with either Tapu Koko or Float Stone and start spreading away. Use Tapu Koko and Decidueye-GX to ping away at whatever looks threatening, and Espeon-EX can come in to clean up against Evolution decks. You want to get as many Decidueye out as quickly as possible in order to maximize damage output. In this regard, it is similar to DeciPlume. Unlike Deciplume, this build is dedicated to attack often with Tapu Koko. If at any time Flying Flip becomes a sub-optimal attack to use, Decidueye itself can do decent damage while boasting a ton of HP. Tapu Lele-GX can also attack when it’s needed.

DeciKoko does very well against Evolution decks because of their low-HP pre-Evolutions. It is generally pretty easy to pile damage on their board early on, which sets up Espeon-EX for some power plays. With all of the different Evolution decks taking over the meta, DeciKoko is poised quite nicely. Unfortunately, Volcanion-EX will completely stomp this deck. However, I do think that is a loss you can afford to take. Drampa-GX is certainly annoying as well, but it isn’t too big of a problem. A few pings and an Energy Drive from Lele can bring down the Dramps.

Card Choices

Pokemon

I do feel like the Pokemon lines are fairly self-explanatory. I maxed out the Decidueye pieces which is the obvious choice for a deck built around the owl. I run three Koko because when I tried it out they made the deck more clunky than it needed to be. You usually only use two anyway. Two Lele for two uses of Wonder Tag is solid, and you don’t need more than one copy of Espeon. I only run one Shaymin-EX because Bench space is already tight, and only use it to find Owl pieces (or a Supporter) in a pinch or to accelerate my start.

Supporters

I went with the bare minimum of Supporters because of space constraints. This list runs slightly fewer draw Supporters than the typical DeciPlume list, but that is because it can play with VS Seeker in the absence of Vileplume. Two Lysandre is nice, but perhaps you can get away with one. Hex Maniac is critical because many powerful decks such as VikaBulu, Metagross-GX, and Greninja BREAK all heavily rely on Abilities.

3 Devolution Spray

Here’s where the fun begins! Choice Band is definitely an option because it can provide more damage overall, but Devolution Spray has proven itself in this deck. By devolving Decdiueye, you can use its Feather Arrow Ability again. The way I see it, as long as Forest is in play, Devolution Spray reads: “Place two damage counters on one of your opponent’s Pokemon.” This is actually absurd and it is reminiscent of Hypnotoxic Laser in that it is an Item card that deals damage.

The great thing about Devolution Spray is that it really abuses the meta by punishing decks with low-HP Basics. Occasionally it will secure you a turn one win, and can often nab some quick and cheap KO’s on Pokemon that would otherwise be just out of reach. The downside is that it does make Decidueye more clunky than it already is. I would say that Devolution Spray is optional, but it has proven itself to me, so I have no intentions on taking it out of the list.

2 Field Blower

Regardless of how popular Garbodor actually turns out to be, two copies of Field Blower prevent an auto-loss against it. Just a few extra Feather Arrows can be a deal breaker against Garbodor variants, and of course the option to use Wonder Tag in the mid-to-late stages of the game can be helpful as well. In other matchups, Field Blower can remove Choice Bands that have been attached prematurely, usually while Tapu Koko is Active. This renders potentially threatening Choice Bands useless. Field Blower does a ton of damage to Turbo Dark too. Of course, there are more uses of Field Blower, and I would never go with less than two copies of it in this deck.

2 VS Seeker

I would like to have more of these guys, but space really is an issue. I’d rather not cut the Sprays, and Hollow Hunt can always retrieve VS Seeker if you need it to. VS Seeker is good, but too many of them will clunk up the early-game even more.

The Rest

The Energy counts and other Trainer cards are not very exciting and shouldn’t need much of an explanation. I love three Trainers' Mail in this deck because a lot of pieces are needed to make a Decidueye, and Mail makes things go a little easier.


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