End of an Era — NAIC Reviewed, Stunfisk Explored, and Intro to Unified Minds

For the last two years, Zoroark-GX has dominated events with the likes of Ultra Ball and Double Colorless and the latter two have been omnipresent in nearly every deck for longer. Announced in April, the 2019/2020 season Standard format rotation will remove these three cards and more, and everything before Ultra Prism. The North American International Championship was the last major event featuring these cards for some time to come. Going into this event, Zapdos had garnered hype behind it after a winning showing at the Origins Open Special Championship event and other international performances. Decks like Reshiram and Charizard-GX appeared to remain on top in terms of popularity and Zoroark-GX decks looked to be on the downturn. Here are the popularity rankings that we fed into our matchup spreadsheet, in descending order from greatest to least popular.

With our original numbers, our spreadsheet showed that Shedinja Stall and Wall Stall decks would be amongst the best ranked for this event. That felt odd, but we tested a Wall Stall variant extensively. The list focused on using Counter Energy, Frost Rotom, and White Kyurem to deal with Fire-type decks, and performing the general disruption strategy against everything else. The build didn’t play Vileplume, so the matchup with Reshiram and Charizard-GX decks was super sketchy and that’s what ultimately turned our eyes elsewhere. My testing team looked destined to just play Reshiram and Charizard-GX again like at Wisconsin Regionals, until we updated our Pikachu and Zekrom-GX list from Germany Internationals. To be frank, I haven’t seen anyone have any success with that type of a Pikachu and Zekrom-GX list aside from our group; it seems people prefer to play the deck without Jirachi. Using Jirachi has always felt integral to the deck’s success, protecting it from Marshadow and its Let Loose Ability as well as giving you additional outs to finding key Electropower and Guzma. After testing that deck for a while, we found that its Zapdos matchup was terrible, but everything else was favored, including Reshiram and Charizard-GX decks, because Tapu Koko-GX is amazing! We settled on this deck Thursday night and turned in the list.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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