PikaRom Strikes Back — Looking at the First American Regional

I played Mewtwo and Mew-GX for Atlantic City Regionals. Azul Garcia Griego and I wanted to play the deck we knew and liked after a bunch of local events so we ran with it and the same sixty. We actually played one another and intentionally tied in the seventh round, too. Here’s how all my rounds went:

  • Round One versus Mewtwo and Mew-GX WW 1/0/0
  • Round Two versus Welder Toolbox WW 2/0/0
  • Round Three versus Mewtwo and Mew-GX WW 3/0/0
  • Round Four versus Mewtwo and Mew-GX LL 3/1/0
  • Round Five versus Blacephalon-GX WW 4/1/0
  • Round Six versus Welder Toolbox LWL 4/2/0
  • Round Seven versus Intentional Draw T 4/2/1
  • Round Eight versus Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX LWL 4/3/1
  • Round Nine versus Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX LL 4/4/1

This was a big disappointment. My fourth and sixth rounds were good games, close, especially the sixth, and then things went awry. The Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX matchup is terrible for Mewtwo and Mew-GX decks, but even worse without Muk and Alolan Muk-GX and Reshiram and Charizard-GX. I’m glad I could live vicariously through Azul though, he took the whole thing home after our tie on a 10/0/0 run.

Results by the Numbers

In all, there were seventy-five decks on day two. Perhaps the most surprising was the resurgence of Pikachu and Zekrom-GX decks, something that was even advertised by most as a poor choice going into the weekend. I personally think most of the lists for the deck weren’t polished enough either, but we’ll get into that later. Let’s start with the results of the Top 32 here:

Now for the big picture of the entire Top 75:

  • 21 Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  • 12 Mewtwo and Mew-GX
  • 10 Welder Toolbox
  • 8 Blacephalon-GX / Naganadel
  • 6 Malamar / Giratina
  • 5 Reshiram and Charizard-GX / Green’s Exploration
  • 5 Pidgeotto Control
  • 3 Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX
  • 2 Naganadel / Quagsire
  • 1 Restored Pokemon Toolbox
  • 1 Naganadel-GX Control
  • 1 Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX

Something is off here — where’s the Fire!? Fire-type decks underperformed at this event, big time. There were only two in the Top 32, but more in Day 2 overall. Why is this? I believe it’s mainly because fewer people played the deck than expected and everything was prepared for it. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX overperformed, it was way under the radar and truly showed up. However, it didn’t win big and was completely eliminated in three instances from Top 8 immediately which is somewhat concerning. More surprises like Pidgeotto Control popped up — more on that in a bit. Here are the quarterfinals standings:

  1. Mewtwo and Mew-GX
  2. Pidgeotto Control
  3. Mewtwo and Mew-GX
  4. Mewtwo and Mew-GX
  5. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  6. Malamar / Giratina
  7. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  8. Pikachu and Zekrom-GX

Again I submit that Pikachu and Zekrom-GX had so much success because many top players chose the deck. Now, I think that Power Plant-based versions are the best way to play it, and frankly, it’s surprising that many of the lists that deck so well chose to exclude it altogether. The big deal here is that a Power Plant-focused list turns favorable against Mewtwo & Mew-GX decks. Lists without it, frankly, are easy to beat. For example; Azul played against multiple Pikachu and Zekrom-GX decks without Power Plant and comfortably beat them all, including a game where he had awful Prizes: Charizard-GX, Latios-GX, and Magcargo-GX. Without Power Plant, they struggle immensely to take one-hit Knock Outs and you have a lot of time to get things under control.

Tier List Talk

Since I haven’t mentioned it for a while I want to skim over my opinion on the conceptualization of tier lists. In the past, I have liked them, then not, then back again. I currently am a big fan though. I’ve dabbled in some other games in the past few months and one of the most helpful tools in exploring those games was the tier lists. They give the average, or even starting player a good idea of what’s strong in a metagame, and starts to get the gears turning about how you can counter those decks on the top of the ladder. Furthermore, the more you know what’s strong, the better prepared you will be going into an event or matchup with the knowledge of what you should be vying to beat. Going into New Jersey Regionals I had the following tier list:

Tier One

  • Mewtwo and Mew-GX Toolbox
  • Welder Toolbox

Tier Two

  • Malamar / Giratina
  • Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  • Reshiram and Charizard-GX / Green’s Exploration
  • Reshiram and Charizard-GX / Jirachi

Tier Three

Tier Four

  • Darkness Toolbox
  • Naganadel / Quagsire

Obviously Mewtwo and Mew-GX performed as expected, perhaps even better. It is still atop the list and I would move it into a category of its own at this point. Welder Toolbox is still good, but underperformed; it should be demoted a bit. I expect it to see less play in the future and perhaps shift around the list. We saw a lot of new choices like Flareon-GX with Eevee-GX  to counter Malamar, but clearly these new changes weren’t enough to put the deck as solidly on the map as it wished. Malamar / Giratina did okay, cracking the Top 8. It had six total placements, and there was an Ultra Necrozma-GX build in the mix as well. I see Malamar decks as a consistently mediocre archetype at this point and I’m not really shocked about how it did. You can see that Pikachi and Zekrom-GX is the big mover from the weekend, comfortably putting itself in the top tier and silencing the haters. It should be pretty popular in the future, if it wasn’t already, as the deck has always been a fan favorite. Reshiram and Charizard-GX / Jirachi decks officially moved from the former to the “Welder Toolbox” variant, although Green’s Exploration versions still remain.

Blacephalon-GX / Naganadel looked promising going into Day 2, but choked and didn’t do particularly well. I see it more in the Malamar zone as far as tiers are concerned moving forward. It’s obviously a decent deck, but the lists might need some tweaking to improve. I would consider Power Plant and Reset Stamp in the deck to improve the matchup against Mewtwo and Mew-GX decks as well as those playing high Dedenne-GX counts. Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX performed as expected for me. I knew it would be there, not extremely popular or anything, and make a few day two slots. Once in day two, it didn’t do amazingly well and likely got wreaked by Fire as well as Pikachu and Zekrom-GX lists playing multiple Lysandre Labs. I, unfortunately, fell victim to the deck myself in the eighth and ninth rounds of Day 1, finishing off my own Day 2 chances. I think that’s how the deck makes Day 2s moving forward: hitting favorable matchups with no counter.

Pidgeotto Control did really well and it deserves a higher rating in the future. Many skilled players like our own Grant Manley proved their mettle with the deck and even — in my opinion — improved upon the original concept by adding Jirachi for extra consistency and outs to hand disruption in the late game. The best thing about Jirachi is that it gives you a “wall” to set up behind and find those combo pieces you need to eliminate your opponent’s hand. Poipole and Shedinja Control decks were non-existent, although I’m sure a few people played them, and I wouldn’t expect them moving forward unless a lone wolf or group of players feel extremely confident in the deck. While they’re certainly still strong, it looks like too many factors are playing against their favor like the popularity of Ninetales in so many Fire-type decks to gust around the Prize-immune Pokemon.

Finally, we have the public outcasts of the format; the ever-clunky Darkness Toolbox, and Naganadel / Quagsire. These two decks are potent when setting up consistently, but that’s a rarity. If anything, Naganadel / Quagsire did nab two Top 16 slots so there’s some hope for the deck. I think the paradigm the deck falls into is one of starkly contrasting variance. Some days it will do well, but on others, it will completely fall out and not even make Day 2 at all. In this case, I think that the two top-performing lists were as well built as they could get, ran well, and were played well. Moving forward I would still not consider Naganadel / Quagsire a strong deck and it is certainly not something I would be trying to play myself. Additionally, I assume more players will realize how strong Power Plant is in Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and the deck will get collateralized by Keldeo-GX being useful no more. Here’s my updated tier list for the upcoming weeks:


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