Players Cup III Qualifiers — Optimizing LMZ and Eternatus VMAX!

Hello PokeBeach! This is Grant Manley back after a bit of a hiatus, and there’s no better time to return than in the midst of the Players Cup III qualifiers! If you’re unfamiliar with the online event, check out this article from Isaiah! The Players Cup III is completely free and anyone in the world can play! At the very least, the qualifiers offer some valuable testing experience for the current Standard format.

I didn’t end up playing in the first Players Cup, but I did make Top 16 North America in the second one, and I’m doing well in qualifiers so far for this third one. There’s a few weeks left for qualifiers, and so I wanted to share some of what I’ve learned about the current Standard format.

It seems that for now, the qualifiers give you a fairly accurate share of the meta, as well as the stray non-competitive or rogue deck here and there. I’ve been tracking my games and my points, and it does seem fairly representative of how an actual tournament would be in terms of meta and competition. The qualifiers are a bunch of tiny tournaments, but by playing in a lot of them it seems that things even out.

Currently I’ve played 10 events with Eternatus VMAX, 10 with Pikachu and Zekrom-GX, and 11 with Lucario and Melmetal-GX / Zacian V (LMZ). Eternatus VMAX has averaged me 2.8 points per key, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX with 2.1 points, and LMZ with a clean 3 points. To put this into perspective, 100 points is almost certainly going to be enough to qualify for the main event based on past data, so even if I kept up PikaRom’s 2.1 winrate it would be good enough. Three points per key is incredibly strong. If someone was able to average three across all 50 keys, they would probably end up as top five in the world. With my limited sample size, LMZ is my best deck so far.

I’m definitely going to keep playing Eternatus VMAX and LMZ for my remaining 19 keys, and those are the decks I’m going to talk about today. These are two very different decks with their own styles, but I see two key differences in terms of the meta. First is matchups. Eternatus VMAX has better matchups, and is overall less dependent on the matchups it faces. LMZ is slightly riskier in that respect. This statement will make more sense when we look at my deck lists. Second, Eternatus VMAX is far more vulnerable to Crushing Hammer. It can still do fine against decks with Crushing Hammer, it’s just that it’s much weaker when compared to LMZ specifically. LMZ is already a slow deck with tons of Energy, so it doesn’t particularly care about Crushing Hammer.

Essentially, LMZ is more reliant on luck when it comes to matchups, and Eternatus VMAX is more reliant on luck against Crushing Hammer.

Eternatus VMAX

Pokemon (19)

4x Eternatus VMAX (SWSH3 #117)4x Eternatus V (SWSH3 #116)4x Crobat V (SWSH3 #104)4x Galarian Zigzagoon (SWSH1 #117)1x Yveltal (TEU #95)1x Hoopa (SWSH3 #111)1x Sableye V (SWSH1 #120)

Trainers (32)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)4x Boss's Orders (SWSH2 #154)3x Marnie (SWSH1 #169)4x Switch (CES #147)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Great Ball (SWSH1 #164)3x Pokémon Communication (TEU #152)2x Tool Scrapper (SWSH2 #168)1x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)1x Ordinary Rod (SWSH1 #171)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)

Energy (9)

9x Darkness Energy (XY #138)

My current deck list is one card different from the list I played in the Players Cup II, making Top 16 North America and losing by getting unlucky against a much less consistent Eternatus VMAX mirror. Aside from Tool Scrapper, which are necessary against LMZ, this list is focused on pure consistency and aggression. Hitting for 270+ damage on turn 2 is insane in any context and this deck is the only one that can do so. This deck is busted and has a good shot at winning every single matchup. It baffles me that people still play Eternatus VMAX lists other than this one. I see them get punished for it every single time.

This deck’s only weakness is bad luck against Crushing Hammer, which tons of decks play. However, due to the immense pressure this deck applies, the opponent doesn’t have much time to find Crushing Hammer, plus they must hit heads. Eternatus V‘s Power Accelerator can mitigate this weakness to an extent. Viridian Forest and Ordinary Rod help as well. Over a large enough sample size of games, it’s inevitable that you’ll get screwed over by Crushing Hammer, but I’ve found the threat to be somewhat exaggerated. It’s not a huge deal overall.

The general consensus on Eternatus VMAX is to either play the Poison version with Toxicroak or take the loss to Zamazenta V. Many players choose the latter because they realize the value of consistency in a deck like this, where you simply blitz your opponent and overwhelm them with the sheer power of the most powerful deck in the game. I was in the same boat, but I came up with a way to reliably beat LMZ without sacrificing too many deck spots. The entire poison package comes out to about 12 cards, and it causes a sharp reduction in consistency in exchange for some more power and the ability to annihilate Zamazenta V. In my opinion, that trade off isn’t worth it.

The inclusions that allow this deck to beat Zamazenta V are Sableye V, Ordinary Rod, and both Tool Scrapper. Another key Pokemon is Hoopa. All of these cards are useful in other games too. I’d say that Sableye V is the most versatile, as it is at least fuel for Dread End or Pokémon Communication. Tool Scrapper is probably the most specific, but it is incredibly strong against Tag Team Pokemon-GX with Big Charm. Ordinary Rod is nice for getting back Crobat V, and in the mid- to late-game, can increase the odds of drawing specific cards by refilling the deck. This is an overlooked consistency boost that comes in clutch, aside from being atrociously strong in the LMZ matchup specifically (by recovering Sableye V and Darkness Energy).

By playing the deck this way, we can capitalize on the strengths of Eternatus VMAX without sacrificing consistency or matchups.

The Yveltal used to be considered an offbeat tech, but now everyone has caught on. I don’t get why people are playing three of them; I find it kind of funny. Yveltal is a pivot off Switch, which is particularly useful against paralysis or deck thinning for Crobat V. It works well with Hoopa. Yveltal’s attacks are interesting and they have value in niche situations, as well as against Decidueye.

The quirkiest thing about this list is definitely the lone copy of Pokégear 3.0, but there is a method to my madness. This deck is all about speed and aggression. Between the three Supporters that this deck plays, Marnie is by far the worst. To me, Pokegear 3.0 is a lot stronger than Marnie, but we have to play sufficient counts of Marnie so that we can at least draw some cards. Although playing Pokegear 3.0 adds a small bit of risk to the deck, the extra out to Professor's Research and more importantly, Boss's Orders makes it worth it. I’ve won quite a few tournament games because of Pokegear 3.0 being an out to Boss’s Orders, and I have yet to get punished for this deck building decision. Maybe I’m lucky to never whiff a draw Supporter off Pokegear 3.0 when it really matters, but I think that’s because the deck is absurdly consistent. I’ve certainly whiffed off Pokegear 3.0 before, but I’ve never lost a game because of it.

In my experience, the value that Pokegear 3.0 adds is more than worth the small risk it incurs.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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