Hey folks! Before I get started today I wanted to quickly thank you for reading this article. It’s not easy to write an article, nor is it necessarily easy to take the time to read one. I really enjoy writing articles, so thank you for reading mine!
Anyway, Alex back at you with a quick rundown of how Anaheim went, and a decision that I somewhat regret involving my deck choice. If you saw me in Anaheim, you probably know full well what deck I want to talk about, but I’ll get to that in a bit.
I feel like a lot of people have experienced one of those “meet and greet / tell us about yourself,” things before, right? Most commonly I think you see them at Freshman Orientation where you throw a tennis ball back and forth between groups saying your name and your favorite type of cereal. It’s Alex Koch, pronounced Cook, and it’s a tie between Reese’s Puffs and Kix. At each of these gatherings, you’re always slammed with many silly questions meant to start conversation. Favorite band, favorite teacher in High School, and favorite Pokemon format.
All questions, while simple, can actually lead to some great discussions. My favorite band is Gorillaz, always has been always will be, but recently I’ve been on this weird Arctic Monkeys / Black Eyed Peas / Paramore kick that I can’t seem to shake. My favorite teacher in High School was Mr. Stowell, who was the second father to a lot of people in his band class. My favorite format? Expanded, easily. Simply put, there’s no Sableye or M Manectric-EX in Standard, so I’m left with a difficult decision when it comes to these events.
It’s odd though, I feel like that question gets a lot of moans and groans when asked. What’s your favorite format? Why is that such a hard question to ask, and why do people hate asking it? I love the two format system that Pokemon has, it keeps you on your toes and ensures that the better connected plays will rise to the top. You can’t go to a big event these days without doing a little bit of research. It also leads to variety in your deck choice for the year. I’ve been to three Regional Championships and have played three very different decks. If we had the same format all year, I would have probably just played one deck all the way through. How boring is that?
I could be considered a Sableye one trick. I don’t take offense to that, I know that I’m a worse Pokemon player with a different deck in my hands. That’s why it’s really hard to play the Standard format since there aren’t any decks that are similar with Sableye. It requires me to do a ton more research, read a bunch of articles, and randomly send my list to people across the country to validate my crazy ideas. That last one never seems to pan out.
Mega Gardevoir for Anaheim
For Anaheim, I poured tons of research into my choice. There were a couple of things I discovered that were the same across all outlets I looked into. One of them was the aggressive hate toward Sun and Moon. The set does bring a lot to the table in terms of the future, mainly when we lose Shaymin-EX and VS Seeker, but for now, the set is lacking a lot of power its predecessors had. Another sweeping truth was the amount of hype both Dark and M Mewtwo-EX were receiving. Dark was hyped because it’s no secret that California loves Dark decks, and Mewtwo because the meta had finally rotated back around to that point on the carousel of Standard decks that just won’t stop spinning. And the last point everyone was making going into the tournament was the stress on a two shot format. Of the 13 different types of decks that made day two, nine of them really rely on two shots to win.
With all of these factors in mind, I felt like M Gardevoir-EX was the correct choice for the tournament. Even after the tournament, and even after posting a 5-2-2 record this weekend, I would still stick by that statement. My wins were dominating, both ties were in my favor when time was called, and one of my two losses was a nail biting close match against one of the best in the game. That round one loss to M Rayquaza-EX was the only thing truly out of my control.
For the sake of list lovers out there, here is what I played in Anaheim, and what I would play again if I found myself in a time machine to do the tournament again.
Gardevoir is nothing new to anyone, and this list is a fairly standard looking build. There isn’t a whole lot going on, so I don’t want to spend too much time on this, but I’ll quickly hit on the points I want to cover and then move on to the real reason I’m writing today. If you see anything that you have questions on, please ask me! I’m always willing to jot down a few things for anyone.
The lack of Hawlucha is probably the most surprising thing to people. Going into the weekend, a lot of people were hyping up Glaceon-EX as a counter to a lot of the expected Vespiquen and Sun and Moon Pokemon. Hawlucha is one of the most reliable ways to get around Glaceon with M Gardevoir-EX, since you can reuse its Ability after Despair Raying it away and rescuing it with Dragonite-EX. Sometimes it can be hard to draw into the Escape Rope / Lysandre combination. Personally, I think drawing into the Energy to use Link Blast and Luminous Blade is a adequate solution to this problem, and leaves you with more room for other inclusions.
Pokémon Center Lady is another one that people sometimes point to as a less frequent play in Mega Gardevoir. The strength of M Gardevoir-EX is being able to take reliable two shots and not get two shot in return through the use of Fairy Drop. Pokemon Center Lady just adds another dimension to that. I always hated having to pitch the Fairy Drop early in the game and not having a reliable way to prevent Knock Outs just barely KOing. It felt awkward or bad to draw into an early Fairy Drop and have to Professor Sycamore it away. The other hidden use behind using Pokemon Center Lady is the Ability to stall out against Glaceon-EX long enough to get Basic Energy down on your attacker. I played against one wall based deck this weekend and came away with a tie. I was in position to win game three when time was called. Game one went his way after having to pitch both of my Escape Rope in a single Sycamore early after I failed to draw into other cards needed. Prizing two Fairy Energy also didn’t help a whole heap. So Pokemon Center Lady not only took the place of Hawlucha, but it also opened the door for me to be more liberal with my early game Sycamore, allowing me to play the max count of four there.
The only other thing I really wanted to touch on was Karen versus Brock's Grit. One is obviously for the Vespiquen matchup, and the other is an all around better card. Before Brock’s Grit and Dragonite-EX came out, I remember when this deck played three copies of Super Rod to recycle Pokemon. Now, you can include one of these Supporter cards to do that job for you. I opted for Karen because of the aforementioned Vespiquen matchup. Brock’s Grit is definitely the way to go though, since generally you’re going to net more cards with Brock’s Grit. Dragonite-EX’s Pull Up recycles two Pokemon anyway, and generally two Dragonite-EX drops will be enough to win you the game. Having a safety net to retrieve Energy cards is a much better use of the single slot here.
As far as my matchups went, I had wins against Lurantis-GX / Vileplume, Lurantis-GX / M Beedrill-EX, Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX / Garbodor, Raikou / Electrode and M Mewtwo-EX, ties against Garbodor / Walls and M Gardevoir-EX, and losses to Yveltal / Garbodor and M Rayquaza-EX. I obviously expected to face off against more M Mewtwo-EX, but when you start your day 0-2-1 in the hole, you start missing those meta matchups and instead are taken on a journey of random, cool, interesting stuff. Like I said, I would play this same deck against and I feel like it was 100% the play for the weekend.
But what about that other deck I teased? The deck that I didn’t get to play and regret not going for it? Well first, before I give you that list, a story.
A couple months ago I was looking for something new and fun to play, since Standard had become really dull for me. After digging through the internet, I stumbled upon Eric Gansman’s Raticate / Dark list here on PokeBeach. I know he had a strong bias toward Raticate after shoving a line into a M Scizor-EX list and calling it a good deck (kidding my friend, please love me). But I decided to give it a try even knowing it might not come out that great. To my surprise, I love the deck. Originally, I thought it was supposed to be played as a mill deck, but instead it turned out to be a great early game disruption deck that could sweep late if needed. You had both options of mill and Prizes. If you gave Sableye a way to take Prizes, you’d get this deck!
However, the list needed some tweaking. I messaged Eric and asked for his help on the list, slowly taking out and adding stuff until we stumbled upon a Raticate / Jolteon-EX list that I rather liked. During this time, League Cups were in full swing, and I was waiting for my chance to play this list.
I personally never pulled the trigger on the list. Two people did though, posting very different results. My trust sidekick Grady played the deck to an 0-2 drop finish at a League Cup, while my padawan Ben took it to a League Challenge win, prompting many in my area to tech against the deck for the next few weeks. With such a mix of results, we didn’t pursue the idea any further and eventually let the deck fade into the black.
Fast forward a couple of weeks. It’s now two weeks until Anaheim. I’m walking down the street when I get a buzz on my phone from Andrew Zavala asking me if I had been testing Raticate at all since it was “a little reminiscent of Sableye.” A man after my own heart. Andrew was also one of the four people to play Sableye in San Jose, so I knew his passion for finding a good mill deck would match mine, so we went to work.
A lot of ideas were thrown around and discussed. Was Gumshoos-GX needed? Should we build it closer to an Umbreon-GX / Hammers deck? What color attacker do we use? Water? Dark? Grass? Fairy?! It seemed like we were out of hope. I hung my head and told him that no matter how hard I tried a couple of weeks ago that I didn’t think it was a good play for the weekend. However, not all was lost. I decided to sleeve up the list just in case I thought of something ground breaking on my long car ride from Spokane to Seattle to catch my flight to the land of the sunny. I remember thinking that I liked attacking with Bunnelby a lot, but also wanted a way to deny energy while doing so. Crawdaunt wasn’t a good answer since the list is tight, and space would be needed for Devolution Spray. I didn’t test that at all, so I might be wrong. But I did remember a card that used to be teched into Seismitoad-EX decks a while back, and that was none other than Slowking.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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