Just like most who are planning on attending Nationals this year, I have started practicing and playtesting rigorously to find the right combination of cards which I believe will win me the tournament. Of course, I haven’t yet narrowed down a single deck to play, but I’ve got a few strong contenders that I’d like to share and discuss. In this article, I’m going to first review the top threats that I expect to be popular at US Nationals, and then go in-depth on a variety of other decks that have shown promise thus far. I will also discuss the strategies, card choices, and matchups of each deck. There are a few decks such as Seismitoad-EX / Crobat and Night March that will be incredibly powerful going into Nationals, but you can hear about those decks from anyone. I’m going to go over decks that might not be on everyone’s radar (and ones I think are better than the meta decks).
Segue to Nationals and the Ban of Trump Card
Although I didn’t attend Georgia or Wisconsin Regionals, I was still excited to watch the new format streamed and start to figure out which decks would need to be countered at Nationals. It soon became obvious that the frontrunner was Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX, with Colorless M Rayquaza-EX, Primal Groudon-EX, and Trevenant not far behind. I immediately began planning interesting decks that would handle these and take advantage of the incredible turn one possibilities that I mentioned in my last article. A few of my ideas were turn one Tidal Storm (Primal Kyogre-EX), turn one Black Ballista (Black Kyurem-EX), and anti-meta Froslass / Hippowdon / Rough Seas with Wally and Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick.
Of course, the format was then immediately turned upside down when the ban of Lysandre's Trump Card was announced. As it turns out, all three of the rogues I just mentioned relied on Trump Card to work, and I had to scrap them immediately. Turbo Primal Kyogre-EX and Froslass were actually showing some potential too! This ban out of nowhere drastically altered the metagame and left many players (including myself) wondering how relevant the Regionals results are heading into this new format. Through testing and theory alike, I have come up with a threat list for Nationals of decks that I expect will be most popular. I’m going to briefly go over these threats and then go into my top Nationals choices.
1. Night March
This deck is receiving a great deal of hype due to it being the most obvious benefactor of Trump Card’s ban. I have been playing with and against this deck more than any other deck so far, and let me tell you, it is downright scary. Without Seismitoad-EX‘s Quaking Punch plus Trump Card combo keeping it humble, the deck is blisteringly fast and relatively unchecked. It is surprisingly easy to get Mew-EX swinging for 220 consistently early on, though it has trouble hitting for more than that. Crobat and turn one Wally and Trevenant are two of the precious few ways to shut this deck down, and they don’t exactly fit into every deck. Additionally, against decks that can prize trade with non-EX attackers, the Night March player can use Joltik and Pumpkaboo to attack and trade evenly. I expect that this deck will be extremely popular at Nationals, so you’d better be ready for it.
2. Colorless M Rayquaza
I’m not entirely sure if this deck deserves the number two spot, but if it doesn’t, I don’t know what does. It is one of the few decks that can actually go toe-to-toe with Night March, thanks to Altaria turning off Weakness and Shaymin-EX being able to KO Joltik and pivot into a non-EX. This deck has to play slightly more carefully without Trump Card, but it is still extremely fast and powerful. One large weakness it had was Seismitoad-EX being able to spam Hammers and Hypnotoxic Lasers against it all game long, preventing Rayquaza from ever attacking. This weakness is somewhat relieved because Seismitoad decks now have a finite number of disruptive cards. M Rayquaza-EX is still a solid play and I expect it to at least have a decent showing, especially if players find a strong way to deal with Night March.
3. Seismitoad Variants
It’s almost unfair to lump all the Seismitoad-EX decks into one spot, due to all the various cards that can be used with the Toad. Don’t fool yourself into believing that Trump Card killed Toad, because that is certainly not the case. The ban may have dealt a knockout blow to dedicated Seismitoad-EX / Shaymin-EX builds, but other variants are still alive and kicking. Seismitoad-EX / Crobat and Seismitoad-EX / Crawdaunt are both fine with Trump Card’s ban and will definitely see play at Nationals. You might see some Manectric-EX, Slurpuff, and Garbodor with Seismitoad as well. Seismitoad has always been and always will be a prominent card in the metagame, so don’t count it out just yet.
Trevenant alongside Gengar-EX is a solid deck that is being hyped for its supposedly favorable Night March matchup. Having the potential to get out an Item lock before your opponent can even play Items is a fearsome attribute, especially against Night March. But the thing is, it really has to go first and get a Wally into Trevenant to shut down Night March, which happens less than 50% of the time. Just one turn of Items can open the door for Night March to roll right through this slower deck. However, Item lock is still Item lock, and Gengar’s Dark Corridor has excellent synergy with Trevenant, so I still expect this deck to be played at Nationals.
5. Primal Groudon
Primal Groudon-EX had an excellent showing at Regionals because it was easily able to roll right through Seismitoad-EX decks, in addition to slowing down Shaymin-EX-based decks by using Wobbuffet. Groudon will still have these strengths heading into the Nationals format, but its shaky Night March matchup could hold it back. It is easily the most intimidating deck when set up, and is probably the most accurate comparison to a tank that we have in this format. Its raw power and bulk might just keep it around. Perhaps cards like Landorus, Landorus-EX, and Enhanced Hammer can even be used alongside Groudon to assist in the Night March matchup.
The format is still diverse and wide-open. These were my top five predictions, but many other decks will probably see some play as well. Aromatisse, Flareon, Bronzong, Donphan, and especially Raichu variants (among other decks) can hold their own in this format.
The Plays for Nationals
Alright, now onto the real meat! Here is where I’m going to thoroughly go over what my personal top picks for Nationals are, and discuss matchups and card choices so that you can be as prepared as possible going into the largest and most grueling tournament of the year. One minor thing to note is that these decks aren’t in order of importance or anything like that. At least at this point, I believe all of these decks are equally great plays for Nationals. And you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for my final top choice for Nationals. It may be one of my craziest and powerful decks yet!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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