The Elite Four — Four Decks for Bochum Regionals

Hello, readers! I know some of you are preparing for the upcoming Expanded Regionals in Dallas, but once again, this article is going to be focused on Standard. As we’re approaching Bochum Regionals, the only major event of the quarter in Europe, I want to talk about the decks to expect and, most importantly, the ones I like the most. I hope this can be useful to those of you who will be competing in Germany this weekend, but also in League Cups all over the world, or who are preparing for Sao Paulo Regionals later this month.

Before we begin, a disclaimer: this article is not an exhaustive list of all the good decks in the format. Garchomp and Giratina-GX / Mismagius / Roxie, Mewtwo and Mew-GX, Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Moltres and Zapdos and Articuno-GX are all powerful decks (in the case of RoxieChomp, possibly the best deck in the format), but I won’t talk about them directly here. This has nothing to do with their power level, and it’s mostly because I don’t have any particular insight on these decks — either because I didn’t practice with them much or because I haven’t found any card or trick to improve the versions of the deck that have already seen success.

On the other hand, the four decks I mention here are ones I have things to say about. I can’t say for sure that I’ll play one of these four decks this weekend, but it’s looking extremely likely. I’ll try to explain along the way the things I’ve added to them, and also what makes me consider them for Bochum Regionals.

ADP / Keldeo-GX

Let’s start with a classic choice: Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX / Keldeo-GX. I think this deck has been on a slow but steady decline since LAIC, as new decks (especially TinaChomp) have emerged that can surpass it. That said, I’ve stuck with ADP at League Cups, and it’s been working out very well for me. What’s interesting is that the deck never feels like an amazingly strong choice. The Reshiram and Charizard-GX and Mewtwo & Mew-GX matchups are not easy, Garchomp & Giratina-GX is scary, Malamar is a favorable matchup but they’re including annoying techs (like Trevenant and Dusknoir-GX, which can discard your Energy) now, and so on. Yet, ADP’s consistency and inherent strength means it can prevail anyway. It simply needs less than other decks to do powerful things, most of the time.

I’ve already talked about this deck multiple times so I won’t bore you too much with the theory. Here’s my latest list:

Pokemon (12)

4x Jirachi (TEU #99)2x Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX (COE #156)2x Keldeo-GX (UNM #47)2x Cryogonal (UNM #46)1x Absol (TEU #88)1x Drampa (COE #159)

Trainers (35)

3x Lillie (ULP #125)2x Rosa (COE #204)2x Cynthia and Caitlin (COE #189)2x Mallow and Lana (COE #198)1x Cynthia (ULP #119)1x Guzma and Hala (COE #193)4x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)3x Tag Call (COE #206)3x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)3x Switch (HS #102)2x Escape Board (ULP #122)2x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)1x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Counter Gain (LOT #170)1x Choice Helmet (LOT #169)3x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (13)

6x Water Energy (EM #103)5x Metal Energy (GEN #82)2x Rainbow Energy (CES #151)

It’s mostly what I’ve been playing for weeks, and written about, with some small changes. I’ve removed Girafarig since Mewtwo & Mew-GX was not popular in my local metagame, but added Choice Helmet to deal better with Garchomp & Giratina-GX (among others). Choice Helmet also lets ADP survive Charizard-GX‘s Flare Blitz GX in the Mewtwo & Mew-GX matchup (as long as you don’t attach a Rainbow Energy), which means you can now use ADP there. Of course, you still lose to Double Blaze GX which goes through Choice Helmet, but it’s pretty hard for Mewtwo & Mew-GX do get this early, with Chaotic Swell preventing the use of Giant Hearth.

The other card I’ve added is the second Cryogonal. This is partly motivated by the local popularity of baby Blacephalon (more on this later), but Cryogonal has all sorts of uses against Reshiram & Charizard-GX, Blacephalon-GX, Pidgeotto Control, and other decks. Even with two Cryogonal in the deck, we rarely use more than one per game, but the second copy helps to ensure that we do get one consistenly. (The same thing happens when you play two Absol.)

I was a bit worried that going down to 12 Pokémon would make it harder to use Pokémon Communication correctly, but it hasn’t been an issue in practice. That said, I wouldn’t go below 12, so if you don’t like Cryogonal, I strongly recommend you replace it with another Pokémon, such as a second Absol, Mimikyu, or Lucario and Melmetal-GX.

Overall, I think ADP is a strong deck and I would consider playing it out of comfort if nothing else. That said, the metagame is shifting in a way that doesn’t favor it: Garchomp & Giratina-GX is an annoyance (not only because of the risk of a turn 2 KO, which can be mitigated by cards such as Mallow and Lana, Choice Helmet, or even Mew, but also because of GG End GX removing your Energy from play before you can use Ultimate Ray), and people are starting to include Mimikyu in more decks to deal with it, but Mimikyu can also be dangerous for ADP itself. That’s why, even, though I consider ADP a solid backup plan, I’m looking for other decks for Bochum, such as the following ones.

Gardeon

Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX is uniquely well positioned in the metagame right now. It’s the deck that gets the best results against RoxieChomp, while still keeping good matchups against the rest of the metagame, and that has made it rise again recently. It has issues with stall and control decks, but these are not very popular right now, which makes it safer than it used to be. In addition, Lugia-GX helps the deck deal with threats such as Lucario & Melmetal-GX, so it’s not easy to tech against it. Here is what I’ve been playing around with:

Pokemon (5)

4x Gardevoir and Sylveon-GX (UNB #130)1x Lugia-GX (LOT #159)

Trainers (46)

4x Green's Exploration (UNB #175)3x Cynthia and Caitlin (COE #189)2x Coach Trainer (UNM #192)2x Mallow and Lana (COE #198)1x Faba (LOT #173)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)4x Custom Catcher (LOT #171)4x Switch (HS #102)3x Tag Call (COE #206)3x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)2x Tag Switch (UNM #209)2x Great Potion (UNM #198)2x Energy Spinner (UNB #170)1x Cherish Ball (UNM #191)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)1x Fairy Charm P (LOT #175)1x Fairy Charm L (UNB #172)1x Choice Helmet (LOT #169)1x Stealthy Hood (UNB #186)4x Power Plant (UNB #183)

Energy (9)

9x Fairy Energy (EVO #99)

Gardeon lists are getting streamlined. The lists running Guzma and Hala with Weakness Guard Energy (or Draw Energy) and multiple Fairy Charms have disappeared, and Omastar is also getting cut because it’s not enough to beat Pidgeotto Control. You will notice, however, that I chose to keep Custom Catchers in this list, when other players are cutting it and running a higher count of Great Catcher instead. Actually, I value Custom Catcher in many decks, for several reasons. The main reason is that it can target non-GX Pokémon, so you can target Malamar, Victini Prism Star, or whatever threat is bothering you at any point. The discard cost of Great Catcher can also be bothersome especially when you’re already discarding cards to Mallow & Lana. Finally, Custom Catcher can be used to draw. That’s not very important in Gardeon because you have huge hands most of the time, and even after Reset Stamp, you run a lot of outs to prevent dead drawing. That said, it does matter in the Gardeon mirror match. That matchup comes down, most of the time, to using Magical Miracle GX to shuffle the opponent’s whole hand in their deck, then beating them before they can draw out of it. If you play Custom Catcher, you have four more cards that you can topdeck in such a scenario, and that gives you a non-negligible statistical advantage.

I’ve included two other unusual cards in the list: Fairy Charm L and Stealthy Hood. Fairy Charm Lightning is obviously for Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, a deck that I believe is coming back (more on that below!). Stealthy Hood is there to deal with Giratina and Weezing (which both put damage on the board to prepare for Calamitous Slash, in Malamar and RoxieChomp respectively), and also helps against Ninetales in AbilityZard. Because it protects you from Ninetales’ ability, you can stockpile Energy on a Benched Gardeon with Kaleidostorm when you think your Active one will be KO’d, without fear of it getting Knocked Out and you losing your Energy.

Gardeon is definitely a strong play, if only because it’s the best counter to RoxieChomp. I do think that it might be one week too late for it to be the best pick: since it’s picked up in popularity, it’s more expected now and people will be more prepared to deal with it. In its short history, Gardeon has done best when it was unexpected and disrespected: at both of the two Regionals it won, in Sheffield and Daytona Beach, people didn’t expect it do to well, and some even wrote the wins off as flukes afterwards. That’s why, now that it’s in the spotlight, I’m a bit worried about its chances, since I assume people will be prepared for it. I don’t know what form this awareness will take — an increase in Pidgeotto Control, maybe — but I don’t think Gardeon will be the deck to win Bochum. It’s still good and worth playing, though!


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