A Combustion Blast from the Past — SableZard Reemerges

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you all. Previously, I talked about the return of League Challenges and League Cups, both of which are now back in full swing, as well as a deck that I considered to be a top pick for both of those levels of play, being the Mirage Gate Lost Zone decks. Since then, my mentality has not changed at all. While I have not been playing the deck as much lately myself, the deck is still easily the best deck in the current format thanks to its versatility and ability to beat almost anything as long as it gets set up. While it was not the focus of the article, the inclusion of Kyogre really allows the deck to take a step even further by being able to take wins in the most unlikely of circumstances, making the deck even stronger in tournament play. At the recent Hartford Regional Championship, we saw multiple of these Lost Zone decks do quite well, with two in the Top 8 and many more in Top 16 and Top 32. While the deck did not end up winning the event, it is evident that the deck is in strong contention for being the best deck in the current Standard format.

With this being said, the next thing to consider, of course, is what deck did win in Hartford? To the surprise of maybe literally everyone, it was the Fusion Strike Energy variant of Mew VMAX in the hands of Rowan Stavenow that took home first place, giving Mew VMAX its first major event win within the United States. At first, I was genuinely dumbfounded that it had worked out that way, I mean who would have thought that a year and a half after the deck first came out and about six months after the deck began to start teetering on being obsolete would end up being the time that the deck finally won a major event. However, once I got to thinking about it, I started to realize that the deck might have been better than the community realized, and it actually may have even been the perfect deck to play in Hartford (or Malmö, which it also won). After the Portland Regional Championship, there seemed to be three decks at the front of everyone’s mind. The first of these was, of course, Arceus VSTAR / Giratina VSTAR, which is what won in Portland. The next one was Lugia VSTAR, which was known to be extremely strong, but a second place finish in Portland added the extra layer of certainty about the deck’s strength as well as building up hype for the deck being a good pick. The third important deck here was a bit of a weird one that may have flown under the radar for some, being Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX / Umbreon VMAX. As a potent combination of attackers, with massive amounts of HP, good typing, and powerful Abilities, this “Arceus Pile” as some would call it ended up being one of the best performing decks of the weekend thanks to this combination of factors. Now the next question is, what does this have to do with Mew VMAX? Well, all of these decks are heavily based on Pokemon V that are critical to keep in play for the second turn in order to evolve into a critical Pokemon VSTAR, and Fusion Mew is the perfect deck for capitalizing on this, being the only deck in the format that can threaten a Knock Out on these Pokemon on the first turn when going second. In a remarkable series of events, all of the decks that were set to be the most successful in Hartford all lost to a random deck that many had completely dismissed due to the emergence of a new variant of the archetype.

This series of events has been seen before throughout the game’s history, such as Eelektrik randomly doing well again during the 2017 season, six years after the card was originally printed. For a more recently example, though, we can look at the main topic of this article: The Radiant Charizard build of Lost Zone, best known as SableZard. The combination of Sableye to set up math for Radiant Charizard while also picking off easy early game Prize cards will always be an extremely potent strategy, and always has been, but during the Silver Tempest format it fell off a bit. I have a lot of theories about why this happened, but it ultimately boils down to the deck being a bit less explosive than the Mirage Gate builds. The deck has an extremely bland game plan and is never really capable of doing more than 120 damage until the last two or three turns of the game, which was not nearly enough to stay in contention in the Silver Tempest format thanks to the speed of Lugia VSTAR. The deck also was really not as effective as one would hope against other Lost Zone decks thanks to Scoop Up Net opening up the opportunity for offsetting math for critical multi-Prize turns with Sableye while not having a Radiant Greninja or Raikou to take multi-Prize turns in other ways. As a result of this, the deck just completely fell off, seeing minimal significant results throughout the format. After rotation, though, the deck seems like it has found new footing. The deck started off strong with a Top 4 finish at the Europe International Championship and has had relatively middling results ever since, but I think this is a case of the deck underperforming relative to the deck’s strength in the format, as the deck is almost certainly much stronger than it seems based on the results that it has been putting up, and as the format grows increasingly focused on multi-prize Pokemon that are within range of being easily Knocked Out with Radiant Charizard, such as most Pokemon VSTAR, this deck will continue to get better. In my opinion, this deck will almost certainly win a Regional before the release of Paldea Evolved shortly before the North America International Championship. With this all being said, let’s take a look at my current deck list.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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