The Polarizing Polliwog Paradigm — Greninja BREAK in Standard

Hey all, just wanted to let you know that a “polliwog” is a tadpole; tadpoles grow into frogs, like Greninja!

With that, welcome! It’s a great time to be alive and an even better time to be reading a wonderful article on the ‘Beach. I’m pleased to be back! Today, I’ll be talking about a controversial deck — Greninja BREAK. While it’s been racking up high placements at big events lately, those placings have almost come exclusively in the hands of an infamous player. There is plenty of controversy surrounding him and his accomplishments, but that’s not what I’m here to get into. While Greninja BREAK has been pegged as a “bad deck that only does well in the hands of cheaters” by many, I personally think it is still an amazingly solid deck with a great slew of matchups. I keep a matchup spreadsheet — a useful tool to help me zoom in on decks that are poised to do well. Recently, I noticed something peculiar: Greninja BREAK is ranked the highest. Why is that? Well, it simply beats the most popular decks and can beat some of its tougher matchups, too.

League Cup Breakdown and Deck List

I’ve played Greninja BREAK for a Standard format League Cup recently, so I have a bit of experience with it. The biggest part of playing the deck successfully for tournaments comes from managing your time effectively and playing the best deck list you possibly can. Here’s how my event went…

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin | 12/09/2017

5th Place

Greninja BREAK / Starmie / Tapu Fini-GX (Standard)


Not many surprises here. I confirmed my suspicions that the Decidueye-GX / Zoroark-GX matchup is fairly even. While relying on your opponent bricking is never a solid strategy, it’s something you can bank on a little more with Greninja BREAK. You can use Shadow Stitching to lock down Abilities, something that your opponent’s deck will be relying on mightily in that matchup specifically.

Aside from that round, everything else was pretty carefree. Playing against a deck with Giratina was annoying, but you can still execute your strategy in those matches. Devour Light doesn’t stop you from attacking, and there are some relevant numbers that you can hit nonetheless. Moonlight Slash can do 80 damage to a Gardevoir-GX, the perfect number for a Knock Out with Espeon-EX‘s Miraculous Shine, and Moonlight Slash can do 110 with a Choice Band up against a Silvally-GX to take another devolution Knock Out with Espeon-EX on Type: Null.

I used a list very similar to the nearly perfected list that Michael Long has been circulating. Here’s the list I used, and the one that I will be testing primarily in the future in preparation for other events, and explanations on each of my counts.

Pokemon (20)

3x Greninja BREAK (BKP #41)4x Greninja (BKP #40)4x Frogadier (BKP #39)4x Froakie (BKP #38)1x Starmie (EVO #31)1x Staryu (BKP #25)1x Tapu Fini-GX (BUS #39)1x Espeon-EX (BKP #52)1x Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60)

Trainers (30)

4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107)4x N (FAC #105)2x Skyla (BKT #148)1x Lillie (SM #122)4x Ultra Ball (SHL #68)4x Evosoda (GEN #62)2x Field Blower (GUR #125)2x Choice Band (GUR #121)1x Super Rod (BKT #149)1x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)1x Max Potion (GUR #128)1x Enhanced Hammer (GUR #124)3x Brooklet Hill (GUR #120)

Energy (10)

6x Water Energy (EVO #93)4x Splash Energy (BKP #113)

Three Greninja BREAK, Four Greninja, Four Frogadier, and Four Froakie

This doesn’t need much explaining. This has been the industry-standard lineup for this deck for what is going on a third year now, and I think most players know why. With this deck not playing Talonflame as a starter, your best opening Pokemon is Froakie or Staryu. Aside from that, it’s pretty obvious that you want four Frogadier to get the maximum number of targets with Water Duplicates; and with Greninja as your main attacker, you’ll want a full set of those, too. Three Greninja BREAK is optimal as well, since you want to get two down in a game and not accomplishing that can mean big trouble. You don’t want to play two and risk landing one of them in your Prizes. This lineup is as tried and true as it gets!

Tapu Lele-GX, Tapu Fini-GX and Espeon-EX

For tech Pokemon, I’m a firm believer in this lineup.

Tapu Lele-GX adds some much-needed consistency to a deck that really needs it. Ultra Ball is annoying to play in a deck that doesn’t want to discard very many cards, but it does give you the option of playing Tapu Lele-GX to fetch clutch Supporters in a pinch.

Tapu Fini-GX might be the most expendable card in the list, but it can be extremely valuable. If your opponent, say, has a Gardevoir-GX with a ton of Energy on it, you can simply use Tapu Storm GX to shuffle that Pokemon and all cards attached to it back into your opponent’s deck. This powerful play can save you the game in many situations.

Espeon-EX is useful itself, as it gives you an out to Giratina with Devour Light, and can take you Knock Outs against tough matchups like Golisopod-GX where you otherwise struggle to hit the right numbers.


Energy recovery in this deck is busted, and having an “infinite” loop of Energy with Starmie lets you do just that. I would not play Greninja BREAK without it right now, and love its inclusion. All you really need are two Greninja BREAK down plus a Starmie, and the game should be wrapped up for you at that point. Space Beacon, then Giant Water Shuriken for days!

Four Professor Sycamore and Four N

Consistency is critical to any success this deck wants to see, and this thick four-count of each of the best Supporters in the game is a must.

Two Skyla and one Lillie

Skyla is normally a weaker card in most decks, but it fetches you a piece of the puzzle you might be missing in this deck. Say you just need a Froakie down; you can use Skyla to get Brooklet Hill and nab one just like that! Skyla can get you Field Blower when you need it or an Evosoda to evolve a Pokemon. It’s so versatile and having another “consistency” Supporter in the deck only makes things work more smoothly.

I don’t find myself using Lillie often, but I still would play at least a single copy like I have. It, like Skyla, serves as another consistency card (this time actually drawing you cards), which is something too strong to pass up in a deck like this that needs to draw decently to win games.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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