Hello PokeBeach readers! I am Jimmy Pendarvis and this is my first ever Pokemon Trading Card Game strategy article! This is my tenth season of Pokemon and I am really excited to be working with PokeBeach for all of my future seasons!
So Regionals just wrapped up, with one of the most exciting Pokemon streams of all time occurring, and it is already time to start preparing for City Championships! Even though it is a relatively small tournament series and comes with no prestige, I personally think that City Championships happen to be crucial for every level of player. If you are a player looking to get into competitive Pokemon, City Championships are great to get in the rhythm of things. The only tournaments lower on the pole are League Challenges. I don’t think that League Challenges quite qualify as tournaments that allow newer players to get into that competitive zone. Along with that, City Championships offer a maximum of 200 CP each season to every player. Even if you can end up with just a mere 100 CP off of City Championships, that gets you one third of the way to your invitation to the World Championships. When you take that into account, the 300 CP requirement truly seems a lot less scary because you could end up having to only perform well at a single Regional or State Championship to achieve that sought after Worlds invitation. Now some of you might be thinking “Why are Cities important to me Jimmy? I don’t even need them to get my invite.” If this is the case for you then great! These City Championships will now be the deciding factor in whether or not you can get over the hump and into the top percent of players that end up with a comforting bye through the first day of the World Championships. So no matter what your goals for the rest of the Pokemon season are, City Championships and this article are relevant to you!
Today I am going to be talking about my favorite Standard decks at the current moment, the pros and cons of each deck, and a few of the specifics into each deck. Hopefully all of your questions are answered by the end of my article, so let’s get started!
Gengar-EX / Trevenant
The first deck on my list has one of my favorite mechanics of all time included in it, which is Item-lock. The concept of Item-lock has always been strong, yet it always has some sort of flaw that allows players to play around it in some way. In the current format, my opponent can use Hex Maniac or Lysandre to give themselves at least one crucial turn of Items against Trevenant. Despite this making it sound like the Item-lock is too easy to break, the deck is still very hard to deal with. If I go first and get a turn one Trevenant, that means that for the entire game, if my opponent wants to play an Item card, it has to be following a Hex Maniac or Lysandre. With decks only playing an average of zero to one Hex Maniac, and one to two Lysandre, the opponent does not have an abundance of resources to get past the Item-lock with. A lot of the time when the opponent is able to break the lock, their turn is still a very weak one because they already used their Supporter for the turn. One might argue that the opponent should just play aggressively and not worry too much about not being able to play Items. Outside of an Yveltal-EX deck, I really don’t see this working too well. It works for Yveltal because it is a deck that does not need a lot of Items to get going, and also has a Weakness advantage against both Trevenant and Gengar-EX. This makes it very hard to trade Prizes evenly in that matchup, much less maintain a consistent Item-lock. Other decks, such as Vespiquen, simply can’t ignore the lock and set up as normal. Without the use of Items due to Trevenant, and Shaymin-EX due to Silent Lab, you will simply be too far ahead in the Prize trade when Vespiquen finally kills a Trevenant.
Due to the rotation of the better Supporter cards Colress and N, most players are left wondering what to play alongside the obvious four Professor Sycamore. Some decks, such as Vespiquen, benefit from the removal of N and Colress in multiple ways. First of all, N is a very good card against decks like Vespiquen because it is virtually the only way to stop them from consistently attacking. Along with this, Vespiquen only plays one N in Expanded, meaning it does not suffer from the lack of N or Colress in terms of consistency. Gengar-EX is yet another deck that benefits from the lack of N and Colress. When I have a Trevenant Active, I love to see my opponent being forced into using a Sycamore that involves discarding resources. Now that other Supporters are even less common, this is something that will happen more and more often. I know what you’re thinking, this doesn’t explain why I play three Judge. The reason why I chose to play three Judge in this deck, but only one in my other decks is simple. It adds to the disruption of both Silent Lab and the Item-lock. If I go first and get a turn one Trevenant and play down a Silent Lab, then on my second turn play a Judge to put my opponent to four cards, it is unlikely that they will be able to challenge my setup in the early game at all. I play only one Judge in my other decks because I always need at least one way to disrupt my opponent’s hand.
Three Silent Lab
When building this deck, I realized I was absolutely going to need a counter Stadium to deal with pesky Stadiums such as Rough Seas and Parallel City. If a M Manectric-EX deck is able to consistently use Rough Seas against me, I am simply never going to take any Knock Outs. With the three Silent Lab, I should be able to counter their Rough Seas effectively. Parallel City actually hasn’t been talked about too much yet, but with plenty of time between now and Cities, I’m sure it will find its way into some decks. Parallel City causes a problem for this deck because it forces you to keep Pokemon in your hand, which clogs up your deck and might cause you to miss a crucial card off of a Judge. Along with that, it could outright prevent you from setting up enough Gengar-EX or Trevevant if you have one or two Shaymin-EX already on the Bench. When deciding what Stadium to pick, I wanted one that would be disruptive. I instantly decided on Silent Lab because it seemed hard for it to go poorly for me. It can never really hurt me because the only Basic Pokemon in my deck with Abilities are Shaymin-EX, which I generally use within the first two turns of the game. Even if my opponent is in a similar situation, Shaymin-EX are very valuable for them due to their consistency that is lost to my Item-lock.
One Startling Megaphone
This card, despite being a generally good card, is actually included in this deck for two specific reasons. Reason number one is to knock off Manectric Spirit Link before the M Manectric-EX can evolve. I think that it is crucial to slow Manectric down in that matchup because you are trading unfavorably once they start to chain Turbo Bolt. Reason number two is to discard Float Stone in the mirror match. If you can prevent Float Stone from coming down on your opponent’s field, or even remove a couple of crucial ones after using a Lysandre to get past the Item-lock, the game is going to be swung heavily in your favor.
This is a deck that relies on cards like Battle Compressor, Trainers' Mail, Ultra Ball, Shaymin-EX, and Unown to get setup. All of these cards are essentially useless in this matchup due to the Item and Ability lock coming from Trevenant and Silent Lab. Unlike other decks, without playing these cards, it literally can’t even fight back in this matchup. A deck like Manectric-EX isn’t absolutely crushed by Item and Ability lock, but Vespiquen truly is. I would say that the Vespiquen player really only has a chance if they go first and then the Trevenant player doesn’t get Trevenant out on their turn. This is a lot to ask for considering how consistent the deck is, along with the fact that going first is just a coin flip.
M Manectric-EX Variants
This is a matchup that I am worried about, which is why I included techs against it such as Startling Megaphone. I think that this is definitely a matchup in which Sacred Ash might make the difference due to how easily Trevenant is killed. At the same time, I could see the disruption that this deck brings to the table being too much for Manectric and really slowing it down. Getting some damage on the field before M Manectric-EX is consistently using Turbo Bolt would absolutely make this matchup a much easier time.
Bronzong / Dragons
This is another deck that is absolutely crushed by the Item and Ability lock combo. They are extremely reliant on Shaymin-EX which is most likely going to be unplayable unless somehow Silent Lab isn’t in play (either you missed it turn one or they countered it with Sky Field) and they can somehow lower their hand size under Item-lock. Otherwise I just see this matchup being heavily in Trevenant‘s favor because they are just so much faster. Not only is Bronzong being slowed down, it is already a relatively slow deck in the first place. Its main attackers, Tyrantrum-EX and Giratina-EX both require four Energy to attack and Bronzong might not even be an option in this matchup depending on the deck’s start. Tyrantrum-EX is also extremely inefficient when it comes to non-EX Pokemon because its attack Dragon Impact discards Energy from it. This means that it most likely won’t be able to attack multiple times in a row, which forces the opponent to draw into an early Giratina-EX to attack with.
This is easily the deck’s best matchup for so many reasons. Their main objective is to deny Prizes through the use of Focus Sash, which is absolutely irrelevant in this matchup. Not only does Trevenant prevent them from coming down, even if the opponent happens to attach some Focus Sash, Gengar-EX‘s Dark Corridor kills every Pokemon in the Mienshao deck and Poisons it, which plays around Focus Sash perfectly. Mienshao also doesn’t have the option to hide behind Robo Substitute, which makes the deck even more fragile. To make things even worse, every Pokemon in the Trevenant deck has Resistance to Fighting. This matchup alone could prevent Mienshao from being played at Cities.
Seismitoad-EX / Giratina-EX
This is a matchup that I think is around even. If the Trevenant player goes first and then doesn’t get out Trevenant and then has their first attachment removed by either Crushing Hammer, Enhanced Hammer, or Xerosic, followed up by a Quaking Punch, I think it is fair to say that Trevenant doesn’t stand much of a chance. But if things go as normal and the Trevenant comes out turn one and the opponent follows up with a Quaking Punch, the game should be a close one. A few crucial cards in this matchup are Judge and Xerosic because they help prevent attacks and crucial Lysandre plays.
Night March is a very similar deck to Vespiquen in terms of its draw engine and how this matchup goes. It does have the benefit of having counter Stadiums to replace Silent Lab with, along with attackers that are Basic Pokemon. However, despite these benefits, I think the deck performs quite poorly against Trevenant. If the Trevenant player happens to get a slow start, Night March will absolutely dominate in this matchup, but that isn’t something that is going to happen often.
One Professor Birch / Shauna
When playing with this deck, you may find that you are disrupting your opponent enough with only two Judge. If that is the case, you could try removing a Judge for a Professor Birch's Observations or Shauna. In addition to allowing you to draw some extra cards here and there, playing one of these also gives you a shuffle-draw card that doesn’t give your opponent a new hand. If you know your opponent’s hand isn’t too good, but your hand is packed with useful cards, you don’t want to play a Professor Sycamore or Judge. In this scenario, playing a Birch or Shauna would be ideal. One could argue that removing a Judge from this deck wouldn’t even hurt the chances of having that judge when you need it too much due to cards like Trainers' Mail, VS Seeker, and Shaymin-EX. There are three situations in which Judge should be the desired Supporter card. Of course it is a good card outside of these situations too.
- When the turn one Wally into Trevenant is not an option, the best play is to get a Phantump on the Bench and play Judge. This will disrupt your opponent while also setting you up for a turn two Trevenant plus Judge.
- On turn two when you have Trevenant Active and Silent Lab down. This will leave your opponent with very limited options on their next turn as they cant use any Items or Abilities, and are left with a small hand of just five cards.
- When your opponent uses a Lysandre to get past Trevenant and then plays VS Seeker to get cards like Lysandre and Hex Maniac back.
4th Silent Lab
This would just be a slight consistency boost in terms of setting up and maintaining the lock. Along with that, it will help counter detrimental Stadiums.
2nd Psychic Energy
This card is extremely strong against Giratina-EX. With only one, you are relying on your disruption to really slow down the Giratina-EX and give you time to attach some Energy. With Xerosic removing Energy from Giratina-EX in addition to the Item-lock and Ability-lock you have going, you should have a few turns. However, if Giratina-EX decks are running rampant, I wouldn’t be too fond of taking a risk like that and would absolutely include the 2nd Basic Energy card.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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