Gotta Go Slow — How I got 9th at the DC Open with Slowpoke & Psyduck-GX

I haven’t played in a major event since Oaks, PA Regionals in 2018, so you could say I was out of practice when I began testing for the DC Open. I initially started out testing meta decks like Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Green's Exploration / Reshiram and Charizard-GX. These decks were fine, but I never clicked with any of them. They were winning, but not enough. They had decent options, but were too predictable. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the right deck for the tournament in time.

That is, until one night of testing with my friend, Arielle Mobley. She told me she built a Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX deck based off of lists showcased by Joe Bernard and Ross Gilbert and wanted to try it out. At first, I had no confidence that the deck was any good. I was confused by why she thought it had any potential. I remember saying “why did you even build this deck? There’s no way it’s good.” Nevertheless, I got out my Pikachu and Zekrom-GX deck and played a game against her. Much to my surprise, she won! In fact, she kept winning. She struggled to set up a few times, but when she was drawing above average, she was consistently beating Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, a tier one deck — with Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX. I was impressed — no, I was positively floored that a deck as crazy as Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX was standing up to Pikachu and Zekrom-GX of all decks. Could it even be viable for the DC Open? We had to find out.

And so the testing process began.

During that first night of testing, it was clear to us what made the deck so good: Ditch and Splash could reliably OHKO Tag Teams without the use of GX attacks — not something many decks can say. It may sound hard to get seven Supporters in your hand to deal 280 damage, but Arielle was able to do it with ease. Using Misty's Favor gave her an easy way to fill her hand with Supporters, Lapras gave her a free Supporter to ditch every turn, Lt. Surge's Strategy allowed her to play two Misty’s Favor in one turn, she played Lance Prism Star to get out the Dragonite with Fast Call: the deck was built to pull this off.

Its main strength also helped highlight its greatest weakness: it didn’t have much going for it except its high damage output. This made it weak against non-Tag Team Pokemon. Once we got around to testing the Malamar matchup, we realized that an army of Giratina was enough to beat the deck.

On top of that, the deck was not the most consistent, another pattern we noticed early on. Starting Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX was often enough to lose you the game outright; the deck couldn’t keep up after losing three Prizes before being able to make a move. The deck also had a problem of not being able to find a second Pokemon to put on the Bench; this led to many turn two losses. Additionally, we were playing four Whitney at the time, which was terrible in opening hands.

After an initial surge of excitement for the deck, that quickly started to fade. I loved how strong it was against Tag Teams, but its Malamar matchup was awful, and it had too many consistency issues. These were not sacrifices I was willing to make to play the deck at the DC Open.

But Arielle was not deterred. She tried changing up the deck in hopes that it would fix our problems with it. She tried adding a pair of Jirachi and Escape Board, which helped smooth out our opening turns. I suggested she change out Whitney for Coach Trainer, making starting with Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX a more winnable situation. She was able to find space to tech for Malamar. First she added Lysandre Labs, then Hoopa, then Lana, then two Lusamine to recycle the Lysandre Labs. It took a lot of space, but she eventually got to the point where she was reliably beating Malamar.

These changes rekindled my desire to play the deck. However, after these changes the deck felt a little less potent against matchups besides Malamar; I found myself losing games because my hand was full of weak cards. After a little more tweaking — cutting the Escape Boards, adding an Erika's Hospitality, adding Bill's Analysis back in after cutting it early on — we were finally both at the point where we were happy with the deck.

The testing process was long and full of heartbreak, but it was worth it. We both sleeved up the deck the night before the DC Open and went to bed. Here’s the list I settled on:

Pokemon (13)

3x Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX (UNM #35)4x Lapras (UNM #36)2x Jirachi (TEU #99)2x Dragonite (TEU #119)1x Dragonite (UNM #151)1x Hoopa (UNM #140)

Trainers (39)

4x Misty's Favor (UNM #202)4x Steven's Resolve (CES #145)3x Lt. Surge's Strategy (UNB #178)3x Coach Trainer (UNM #192)3x Pokémon Fan Club (ULP #133)2x Lusamine (CRI #96)1x Erika's Hospitality (TEU #140)1x Bill's Analysis (TEU #133)1x Lana (BUS #117)1x Lance Prism Star (DRM #61)4x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)3x Great Potion (UNM #198)2x Switch (SM #132)2x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)1x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)1x Energy Spinner (UNB #170)1x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)1x Lysandre Labs (FOL #111)1x Power Plant (UNB #183)

Energy (8)

8x Water Energy (EVO #93)

Arielle cut the one Bill’s Analysis for a ninth Energy. She unfortunately dropped after round 2 because she wasn’t feeling very well.

Here’s how the tournament went for me:

7-1-1, 9th Place in Flight 1

It is worth noting that three of my wins were against Reshiram and Charizard-GX decks, so perhaps I got a little lucky. However, I would argue that this bracket is likely similar to many other player’s at the Open. Reshiram and Charizard-GX was an incredibly popular deck at that tournament. I’d wager that most players faced at least two throughout the weekend. Also, there are very few decks in the format that can win that reliably against Reshiram and Charizard-GX; so even though this was a lucky bracket for me specifically, this would have been a rough bracket for most other players, further proving the deck’s viability.

We’ve already proven that Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX has what it takes to stand with the big boys. But what if you want to play the deck yourself? You might be thinking, “this deck is unlike anything else in the Standard format. How do I even play this monstrosity?” Or maybe you’re a veteran Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX player and you’re not sure why we chose to play certain cards. Don’t worry, because the rest of this article will be all about the list I played and how to play it properly. I will also explain how to play versus popular matchups, and my thoughts on the deck going forward. No matter your experience level with Slowpoke and Psyduck-GX, this article will be an insightful and fun read. Let’s get to it!

“But wait!” I hear you say. “Who the heck are you and why should I listen to you blab about a terrible rogue deck?” If you’re unfamiliar with me as a player, I recommend you read the introduction I gave myself near the beginning of my first article on PokeBeach — the fourth paragraph, more specifically. I’m very proud of that article, so, if you feel inclined, give it a read after you’re done with this article.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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