Ninety-six players competed for the title of first place in each exciting monthly event, with the top players facing off in a single-elimination top cut. These tournaments were our final tournaments that used the Standard format of Sun and Moon through Lost Thunder.
Interview with the January Champion
Here’s our interview with him:
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Kevin Krueger. I grew up in Northern Michigan and I recently moved to Southwest Michigan from Indianapolis after graduating medical school this past May.
How are you doing this season in Play! Pokemon tournaments?
I’ve played exactly one IRL tournament. My work schedule keeps me pretty busy (I alternate between 40 and 80 hour weeks month to month), there’s not nearly as active of a local scene in my new town, and I haven’t had as much of an itch to travel for events this year with no realistic shot at a world’s invite. I’m planning on continuing to enter these tourneys every other month or so to scratch that competitive itch!
I see that you were playing the a variation of the Ultra Necrozma Malamar deck. What leads you to prefer Ultra Necrozma over a straight Psychic build?
I actually have a bit of a funny history with this card. Back when Forbidden Light dropped, I was super excited to try it out, then proceeded to pull zero Ultra Necrozma-GX out of 135 trade locked packs on PTCGO. So I played Psychic Malamar instead for months (to moderate success) but I was intrigued by the recent unit energy/Ultra Mally builds popping up at recent IRL tourneys. Once I built a list and optimized it for my play style, I realized how underrated Sky Scorching Light GX is as a comeback mechanic against single prize decks. That is something I always found particularly lacking in Psychic Malamar. It’s by far my favorite deck from the Lost Thunder format because it has a skill based win condition against any match-up, even going second! It was also just rogue enough for opponents to misplay against it more often than they do against Psychic Malamar.
If you had to pick 3-5 cards as the most important cards in the deck, what would they be (and why)?
- Chimecho – This was actually the last card I added to the list, and it ended up winning me three of my rounds! My previous list was a bit faster with a 4th Acro Bike instead, but struggled to establish a stable board state when going second against anything with Zoroark-GX or Alolan Ninetales-GX. Having this as a turn 1 attack option slows the game down enough to set up multiple Malamars and then trade OHKO’s evenly in a couple of otherwise unwinnable matchups.
- Oricorio – This is my favorite personal addition to the deck. it helps you get multiple psychic energies in the discard along with your turn 1 attachment pretty consistently. This massively increases your odds of a turn 2 KO, which the deck as a whole is phenomenal at snowballing into a decisive victory. In the games you don’t have to bench it early, it’s a great way to guarantee a game winning metal attachment to Ultra Necrozma-GX in the late game (hence the single basic metal energy inclusion).
- Switch – This is possibly the most boring card of all time, but also absolutely indispensable in this deck. It’s better than Escape Rope because your opponents often struggle to set up multiple attackers once you start chaining OHKO’s — taking out the active forces them to keep finding answers. You need it early game for pressure in match-ups where you can’t attack with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. You need it mid game to chain attacks efficiently with Ultra Necrozma-GX. You need it late game because you can’t manually attach to active to retreat and also get a metal energy onto Ultra Necrozma-GX for game. Honestly the deck is probably even stronger with a full 4 copies!
- CARD NOT FOUND – This is another phenomenally underrated card in this archetype. The draw effect merely decent, but actually the best available supplement to Cynthia and Lillie. I wouldn’t play Sightseer or Sophocles; a lot of times the only cards you can afford to discard are Giratina and basic Psychic energy. You’ll burn through these quickly with Ultra Ball and Mysterious Treasure, and then you need to save metal energies and Unit Energy LPM, switches, Rescue Stretcher, Guzma, etc. for the late game. While the switch option sounds underwhelming as a supporter effect, it’s often enough to steamroll the opposition once you get 2 Malamars and an Ultra Necrozma with a metal energy on the board. A fringe benefit is putting the nail in the coffin of anything trying to mill you.
- Marshadow – This is another game winning card, though a dangerous one. With 8 Pokémon search, 10 draw supporters, and 3 acro bike you have more outs than most after a shuffle draw 4, but I’m still very hesitant to use it early game. Tapu Lele-GX for Lillie is usually a better early game option as it lets you save let loose for mid game draw power or late game disruption. That being said, it’s basically your only win condition against Gardevoir-GX. If they get to keep an early beacon and set up, you’re toast!
Were there any changes you wish you’d have made to the list?
The two Field Blower were the worst cards in the deck by far. I put them in instead of the Altar of the Moone that IRL decks were running. Personally, I think Altar is terrible in this deck because you often need to move energy around by manually retreating in the mid game. The blowers are very good against Granbull with Bodybuilding Dumbbells and White Kyurem with Wishful Baton, but I didn’t happen to run into any of those this tourney. I don’t regret the inclusion because I prefer to optimize match-up spread over consistency in best of 3 format, but the deck would undoubtedly be inherently stronger with a 4th Switch and then a 4th Guzma instead.
What changes would you make now to an Ultra Necrozma deck now that we have new cards available from Team-up?
Viridian Forest feels too good not to play, so cutting the unit energies for all basic metal is a no brainer. Haven’t had the time to test Jirachi yet, but my initial impression is that it’s an insanely good card in general. Getting a third Malamar out seems super important with the addition of Tag Team GX’s to the meta, so a thicker 5/4 line with ditto prism seems appropriate. Still working out how to best manage bench space with all the good tech and consistency options!
What was your most exciting game or set?
My run played out as follows:
R1: Hoopa / Shuckle-GX / Regigigas / Articuno-GX stall WW
R2: Solgaleo-GX / Lunala-GX WW
R3: Tapu Koko / Weavile LL
R4: Zoroark-GX / Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX WW
R5: Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX/ Alolan Ninetales-GX WLW
R6: Zoroark-GX / Gyarados WW
The most exciting games were all the ones against Alolan Ninetales-GX. Round 5, Game 2, I got absolutely smoked as my opponent (@Darryl Fisher) used Bloodythirsty Eyes to pull up Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX and KO with the Sublimation GX attack on turn 2, then followed it up with a Choice Band+ Snowy Wind OHKO on Ultra Necrozma-GX. Game 3 I got to go first and leaned heavily on Giratina to pull out a close victory. Despite going 4-0 against Zoroark / Decidueye / Ninetales (shout outs to @Seng vang and @Gengar master) I do feel the matchup is slightly unfavored. I hit turn 1 Bell of Silence (which really isn’t that easy to do) in 3 out of 4 games, and in the 4th, I turn 1 Let Loose’d into a turn 2 donk. Even with an early Chimecho, you can’t miss a beat because Ninetales has multiple 2 prize OHKO options and the Feather Arrows wipe out your Malamar foundation if you go too slow.
Here is the deck list he used to win the tournament:
Other Top Finishers
Below are the top eight players and the decks they used:
- 1st: Kevin (KK-Swizzle) with Ultra Necrozma-GX / Malamar
- 2nd: Serperior with Hoopa / Shuckle-GX / Regigigas / Articuno-GX Stall
- 3rd: Fou-Link with Blacephalon-GX
- 4th: Vaskemaskinen with Attacking Steelix
- 5th: Audiofreak19 with Blacephalon-GX
- 6th: Gengar Master with Zoroark-GX / Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX
- 7th: relyc with Passimian / Tapu Koko
- 8th: SquirtleRules with Rayquaza-GX / Vikavolt
Serperior, Fou-Link, Vaskemaskinen, Gengar Master, relyc, and SquirtleRules will all be seeing a huge increase in prizes because they are premium subscribers. You can see how many packs each of them earned at the top of this page.
Creative Deck Winners
As part of every tournament, PokeBeach’s article writers voted for the five premium members that didn’t make Top 16 whom they felt used the most creative deck lists. Each of them earned 5 booster packs or a promo product.
RisingRaichuu, Holden Sheeks, ICEdaddy, Robert Fuchs, and shifty14326 each walked away with five booster packs or a recent Pokemon promo product from TCGplayer.com. The decks they played were Meganium / Rhyperior Mill, Zoroark-GX / Lost March, Tapu Koko / Weavile, Drifblim / Giratina / Malamar, and Lurantis-GX / Virizion-GX, respectively.
You can find each of their deck lists in the forum thread below.
Interview with the December Champion
Here is the interview that tournament organizer PokeMedic did with our December champion:
What’s your name and where are you from?
Call me Birdboy— I’m a Massachusetts-area player.
How long have you been playing Pokemon TCG? Do you enjoy any other stuff that involves Pokemon?
I started playing casually from Jungle Set, stopped sometime early in gen 2, got back into casual play in gen 4, stopped when Reshiram and Zekrom wrecked all my decks, resumed online play during Primal Clash, slowly got serious, and finally started going to tournaments in the ‘15-’16 season.
I’m a lifetime fan of the franchise. I still watch the anime, love Pokemon Special, and enjoyed a couple of the manga. I’ve read and written more than my fair share of fanfics. I used to play the video games semi-seriously: I got big win streaks at the battle facilities, but never did showdown.
Are you playing in any Play! Pokemon events like tournaments or League? If so, how are you coming along?
I was out of the country for most of the first quarter, so I’ve only been to two cups so far this season, and 550 is just too much to shoot for without a lot of travel. But at least I got a Top 4 in one of them, so yay to 32 points!
What was it about our monthly PTCGO tournament interested you in playing with us?
A chance for serious, high-level play without needing to travel to it. Also just a chance to play in more meaningful games. I love TCGO’s structure (yay for no judge calls/penalties, no time limit and slow playing into draws), but the game itself offers only 8-person single elimination tournaments. While Regionals are fun, there’s only one a year nearby. It was especially nice when I was visiting Japan and missing Cups, as my Japanese isn’t nearly good enough to feel comfortable going to a tournament there.
I’ve judged at a lot of events and checked a lot of decks these past few months. In all that time I never saw a deck like yours. It caught me by surprise! During this tournament we had Zoroark-GX all around and a revival of Lost March. What got you to deviate from those?
In general I play rogue decks based around Pokemon that I like. Deck building for me is half the fun. With regard to this deck, Articuno-GX is my favorite Standard Format Pokemon. I like playing stall, but when testing I found that this deck was able to make knockouts as well. 130 is a perfect number to hit. The Weakness on Blacephalon-GX is amazing. Legendary Ascent is a fantastic ability. Often the easiest way to remove a threatening Pokemon from the board is just to knock it out instead of trying to trap something else or run it out of energy. Versatility is valuable as long as you still have consistency, and while I usually won by deckout, being able to take six prizes definitely got me through this tournament.
Many of us play through an event and ask ourselves: did we make the right choice with the cards we selected? During this tournament which cards did you find made your deck work? Did you come across a situation where you thought another card might have turned something around for you?
I’m playing the same 60 cards this month (albeit to less success, no repeats here I’m afraid) So, I believe my list is optimal. When I lose I feel it’s usually down to my own mistakes. Despite having the cards to win, in some match-ups I can’t realistically win without playing a totally different deck.
As for what makes the deck flow: Max Potion is really nice when you need it. Every card’s been valuable, but Articuno-GX is valuable in virtually every match-up, but whether it sits behind Hoopa, Shuckle-GX, or Xurkitree-GX is way more match-up dependent. This deck went from “fun but inconsistent” to my main pick once I realized how good 4 Steven's Resolve were for setting up. The chain between Lusamine with Plumeria / Acerola / Guzma might win me more games than my actual Pokemon will.
Team Up will be tournament legal on February 15th — any cards you’re thinking would be good in your deck?
Black Market Prism Star looks really interesting, I’m playing 4 Hoopa and am already very much into prize denial. However, the limitation to having Dark Energy attached might make it not worth it with Enhanced Hammer around. I have to test it. With all the full benches these days, Erika's Hospitality definitely looks worthwhile. Although it’s not new, if Judge Whistle catches on too much I might need to tech in Girafarig to handle it. And an honorable mention goes to Wailkarp: don’t need it in the pre-Team Up meta and hate the 3 prizes, but Acerola chaining a 300 HP Pokemon definitely has potential for a stall player.
Want to Become a Premium Member?
Feburary’s tournament is currently wrapping up. Each tournament awards up to over 4 booster boxes worth of TCGplayer store credit to top finishers. Winners can now get any items they want from TCGplayer’s massive online store — not just booster packs — so don’t miss your chance to play in the next tournament! Signups for March are currently scheduled to be posted Thursday, March 7th. Mark your calendars!
If you’re interested in becoming a premium member, be sure to check out this link. All premium members get reserved slots in the tournaments, a huge increase in prizes, double the amount of Prize Wall points, a chance to win even more product for using creative decks, and of course all the other benefits that go along with having a premium membership, including weekly articles from the game’s top players and deck help from said players. A premium membership is extremely diverse!
All of these prizes are brought to you by TCGplayer.com. Their online store offers the cheapest Pokemon cards on the Internet from thousands of different sellers — you will find no better deals! Be sure to check them out any time you want to purchase or sell Pokemon cards!
You can always check the “Sets” tab at the top of our website to access their store.
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