For those of you playing in the North American circuit, the Daytona Beach regionals just finished and you may be preparing for San Diego next weekend. As always when two tournaments follow each other, the metagame of the first will inform the second one. So the question is: what do we take away from Daytona?
Let’s start with the big surprise: Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX winning the event. Multiple top players have claimed that the deck was bad and that it was very surprising that it won the event (not always in such moderate terms). Even I, a fan a Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX, had to admit I wouldn’t have recommended the deck to anyone going into the event. However, it turned out to be a good deck–in Day 2.
Here’s my explanation: Blacephalon / Pidgeotto was very expected for Daytona. It was played in decent numbers, although lower than what I and many others expected. Instead, many people tried to beat Baby Blacephalon, hence Mewtwo and Mew-GX being played more than any other deck, Pidgeotto Control numbers dropping in favor of Lillie's Poké Doll Stall, and the return of Malamar, probably Baby Blacephalon’s worst matchup. It worked: only four Baby Blacephalon players made Day 2, and three of them dropped to the bottom of the standings in the end. (The fourth made top 32, but barely.)
Incidentally, all these shifts to the metagame made the Green's Exploration variant of Baby Blacephalon a much better choice than the Pidgeotto variant!
With few Baby Blacephalon and lots of Mewtwo and Mew-GX and Malamar, plus many Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX lists dropping their Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX counter (generally Lucario and Melmetal-GX), Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX was in a great spot–it only needed to dodge Baby Blacephalon and Ability Reshiram and Charizard-GX, two decks that were big in Day 1, but scarce in Day 2. That’s why, although only two players made Day 2 with Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX, they both made Top 8 with it, and one of them, Drew Cate, managed to take the win.
I don’t expect Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX to have too big a presence in San Diego. The deck won, but many influential people wrote it off as a fluke. As I explained, I think there are reasons why the deck did well, but that doesn’t matter; what matters is that this is the general perception of the deck. Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX enthusiasts who might have lost confidence in the deck could pick it up again, but I don’t expect many people to suddenly shift to the deck. It’s also easy to counter the winning list if you know what you’re doing. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX can add Lucario and Melmetal-GX, or even Mewtwo and Mew-GX to use Altered Creation GX with a Pokémon without a Fairy-type weakness. Doll Stall can include Mimikyu-GX to get rid of Omastar. Even though it shuffles it into the deck, Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX only plays one Rare Candy so it can’t set it up again. And against lists that only play Tag Team Pokemon-GX, such as Dean Nezam’s Top 8 list, a Latios-GX spamming Tag Purge wins. Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX can protect itself with Fairy Charms, but then the game will be won by whoever doesn’t deck out first. A Malamar deck with Latios-GX and several Cynthia would easily win that contest.
Instead, there are two decks I think will rise in popularity. First, Malamar’s first Top 8 in a long time could inspire players who had written off the archetype. I definitely noticed there were a lot more of them than usual on TCGO this week, although that’s anecdotal. Daniel Altavilla and Michael Pramawat having success with Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX is also noteworthy. To be honest, I don’t think Malamar will do as well in San Diego now that the conditions necessary to its success aren’t met anymore, but I think it will see a lot of play.
Second, Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX did very well thanks to the innovation of Rosa. I think that this is the deck that got the most positive attention this weekend and will undoubtably have many copycats. As an aside, I know it may seem unfair that Rosa / Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX is lauded while Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX is scorned, even though the latter won. I’m not trying to take a side one way or another, or to discuss whether the reception these decks get is right or not. I only report what it is–or what I think it is, at least, and what I believe that will mean for San Diego.
Today, I want to talk about that new variant of Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX, explain why it’s an improvement over the lists that were played at LAIC and what my personal list would be if I attended San Diego regionals. I’ll also discuss the deck’s weaknesses and how to exploit them!
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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