“Going Mad for Madison” — The Rogue Side of the Metagame

What’s happening, PokeBeach readers? I am back with another article, and I want to change it up a bit today. While most of our other writers will go over the bigger decks in the format, I wanted to go over some concepts that you may not have even heard of. I know some of you readers may want to read about another Buzzwole-GX, Zoroark-GX, or Malamar, but I hope that my take on this article is refreshing. Before we dive into my juicy deck lists, I do want to take a tour through a brief history of outlier decks in the game…

History of Outlier Decks

In the history within our game of Pokemon, I think there are a few factors that can be used to advance your game and one of those factors is thinking out of the box and creating unique decks. The advantages of using unique decks is that they usually have an answer to specific decks with the added bonus of forcing your opponent to play against an unfamiliar matchup. Some decks frolic in the open while other decks hunt in the shadows. Let’s look at a few instances of decks that came out of nowhere to see success.

Worlds 2004 — Tsuguyoshi Yamato playing a Team Magma’s Groudon Deck

In 2004, Tsuguyoshi Yamato won the World Championships with a relatively unknown deck. While the story of Japan storming Worlds with a Team Magma deck is a year or two before my time, the story is still told among some circles. Yamato played this deck due to the synergy between the Magma-based engine and search cards available to make the deck incredibly smooth. With players from the United States being deemed the best in the game heading into the first World Championships, Yamato’s win here set Japan as one of the strongest competitive countries in the game. This win can be attributed to Japan’s secrecy in the game, their foresight on an overlooked concept, and Yamato’s willingness to play an unknown concept.

Worlds 2011 — Ross Cawthon playing a Vileplume / Reuniclus / Donphan / Tropical Beach Deck

In 2011, Ross Cawthon coined the deck name of “The Truth” after smashing the World Championships to a second place finish. This is actually one of my favourite stories in the game because Worlds 2011 is where Tropical Beach released and Cawthon successfully built his deck the night before the main event. There are many questions to ask here… Is Cawthon human? Did he go to a wacky party with interesting substances? In all seriousness, Cawthon is an excellent deck builder and found a concept that really came out of nowhere. The deck is used to counter whatever your opponent sends up based on the metagame of Worlds 2011 and to deal some major damage with a slew of different Pokemon. I personally remember building variants of this deck shortly after the conclusion of Worlds, having great success with them, and being able to terrorize my opponents with a still-unknown strategy. This placement can be attributed towards Cawthon’s deck building capabilities, having the knack to predict a given metagame, and guts to run a card released the day before without any prior knowledge.

US Nationals 2015 — Enrique Avila playing a Wailord-EX Deck

In 2015, Enrique Avila played an obscure disruption deck with a group of his friends at the US National Championships. This has been considered one of the game’s most controversial major tournament finals after three-time World Champion Jason Klaczynski used time in the finals to his advantage to take down Avila in an otherwise bad matchup. Since then, the community has embraced this rogue deck as a full-on archetype from that point on. The Wailord-EX deck used cards such as Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammer to disrupt other decks in that format. This placement can be attributed to Avila’s playtesting group creating a deck that nobody properly prepared for heading into US Nationals.

Worlds 2016 — Shintaro Ito playing a M Audino-EX Deck

In 2016, Shintaro Ito played one of the most recent rogue decks and this one truly took the cake for being so unique. At this World Championships, the room was flooded with top players playing Night March, Greninja, and Bronzong / Aegislash-EX and Ito seemed to foresee all of this. He ended up picking a deck that had strong matchups across the board to eventually become the 2016 World Champion in San Francisco, California. Ito’s success could be attributed to his ability to foresee the metagame, counter that said metagame, and the secrecy of his deck heading into the event.

While all of these stories are unique to those places in history, they are also very similar. Each story has an element of foresight, an outlier deck being created, and flexibility to adapt to whatever deck they needed to play to see success. The following deck lists that I am including in this article try to mimic that surprise factor that has been prevalent in the above decks, all while remaining competitive against most decks in the current metagame. Both of the below decks utilize drastically different strategies, require an ability to plot out win conditions in advance, and are generally fun to play. After taking a page straight out of the history books for Pokemon, you might want to take a crack at building your own secret deck. Let’s look into some of the factors that would aid you in this process:

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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