Charizard, Banette, and Friends — The Post-EUIC State of the Meta

Hey PokeBeach readers, Ciaran back again with another article. We just finished our second International Championships of the season in London, and we have a good idea of how the Temporal Forces meta has shaken out. I personally finished 73rd with Chien-Pao ex, with a final record of 10–4–1. I had a good time playing my favourite deck, though I wish a couple more matches could have gone my way! We saw Tord Reklev win an unprecedented fifth International with a unique take on Charizard ex. In the finals, he took down an extremely unique Lost Zone Giratina VSTAR deck that included both Banette and Banette ex. And those weren’t the only interesting decks at the tournament — we saw Roaring Moon ex, multiple Future Box decks, Pidgeot ex Control, Gardevoir ex, Ancient Box, and Arceus VSTAR / Armarouge all do well alongside the expected Chien-Pao ex, Lugia VSTAR, and Lost Box decks. Today, I want to spend some time going through the top decks in the format, and where I think they stand going forward.

Charizard ex

Championship-Winning List

Pokemon (20)

3x Charizard ex (OBF #125)1x Charmeleon (PAF #8)4x Charmander (OBF #26)2x Pidgeot ex (OBF #164)2x Pidgey (MEW #16)1x Bibarel (BRS #121)1x Bidoof (CRZ #111)1x Cleffa (OBF #80)1x Manaphy (BRS #41)1x Jirachi (PAR #126)1x Lumineon V (BRS #40)1x Rotom V (LOR #58)1x Radiant Charizard (PGO #11)

Trainers (34)

3x Arven (SVI #166)3x Iono (PAL #185)2x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)2x Professor Turo's Scenario (PAR #171)1x Roxanne (ASR #150)1x Team Yell's Cheer (BRS #149)4x Rare Candy (UL #82)4x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)4x Buddy-Buddy Poffin (TEF #144)2x Super Rod (PAL #188)1x Nest Ball (SM #123)1x Counter Catcher (CRI #91)1x Prime Catcher (TEF #157)1x Lost Vacuum (LOR #162)1x Forest Seal Stone (SIT #156)1x Choice Belt (BRS #135)1x Defiance Band (SVI #169)1x Collapsed Stadium (BRS #137)

Energy (6)

6x Fire Energy (RS #108)

Heading into EUIC, Charizard was the deck to beat. As predicted by many, it had the highest meta share of any deck in the tournament, with roughly one in five players sleeving up the iconic Pokemon. It’s safe to say the deck lived up to the hype, taking two spots in Top 8 and ultimately taking down the event.

Initial results from Japan had us asking whether the deck was better with Pidgeot ex or with Bibarel. Turns out, the answer might be both? Tord Reklev proved once again why he is one of the best deck builders of all time by including both support Pokemon in his winning deck, and I think the inclusion of both cards is genius. While Pidgeot is extremely strong, it can only grab one card per turn. As you transition to the late game, it’s hard to pull off combos with Quick Search alone. For example, if you need to grab a Rare Candy, Charizard ex, and Boss's Orders to win, but your opponent just played Roxanne, it will be almost impossible to pull it off. With access to both Quick Search and Industrious Incisors, you can see which combo pieces you hit with Bibarel first and then use Pidgeot ex to grab the missing piece. We saw Tord use this exact strategy on his tournament-winning turn! Going forward, I think this is going to be standard for Charizard, and I think it’s going to remain correct to include both of the support Pokemon in the deck.

Tord also played a copy of Cleffa, a card that has seldom seen play up to this point. The main reason for Cleffa is to avoid having to put down Rotom V in the early game — a massive two-Prize liability, but one that’s normally necessary to set up. Cleffa gives the deck a one-Prize support option. Normally, when you use Instant Charge, you are leaving a weak Pokemon like Charmander in the Active Spot. If you’re giving up a Prize anyway, why not sacrifice a setup Pokemon instead? With Rotom in play, you give up a Prize and leave a two-Prize Pokemon in play. Cleffa can also be searched out with Buddy-Buddy Poffin, which makes it super easy to find in the early game. I don’t think the card is necessary going forward, but it was a cool innovation for EUIC.

The final things I want to point out about this list are the copy of Team Yell's Cheer and the two copies of Professor Turo's Scenario. This package turns control from a nightmare matchup to one you would be happy to sit across from. The deck can use Turo seven times when combined with Pal Pad, which should be more than enough to power through any stall decks. While Turo and the Yell’s Cheer aren’t as strong in other matchups, they do provide some utility. Turo can act as a way to heal your bulky Pokemon after they’ve taken damage, or pick up your Lumineon V and Rotom V. Yell’s Cheer can put back valuable supporters like Boss’s Orders in the midgame, but you have to find a turn where another Supporter isn’t necessary, which is quite rare.

In my opinion, the package is a bit overkill and you can devote the spots to better cards. I understand Tord’s thought process, though. He correctly predicted that the top players would play control, and he would most likely play against the archetype if he wanted to grab the title. While the Day 1 meta share for control was only ~5%, the top tables were littered with them, and two even made Top 8. If your goal is simply to have a solid run, I think it’s fine to forego aggressive techs for control since the odds of playing against it even once are fairly low, but if you’re looking to take down a tournament, then having an ironclad answer to the deck might be worth it.

Charizard Control

Pokemon (16)

3x Charizard ex (OBF #125)1x Charmeleon (PAF #8)2x Charmander (PAF #7)2x Charmander (OBF #26)2x Pidgeot ex (OBF #164)2x Pidgey (MEW #16)1x Manaphy (BRS #41)1x Regieleki (ASR #51)1x Radiant Charizard (PGO #11)1x Rotom V (LOR #58)

Trainers (37)

4x Arven (SVI #166)3x Iono (PAL #185)1x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)1x Eri (TEF #199)1x Penny (SVI #183)4x Rare Candy (UL #82)4x Buddy-Buddy Poffin (TEF #144)4x Ultra Ball (SHL #68)3x Nest Ball (SM #123)2x Super Rod (BKT #149)2x Counter Catcher (CRI #91)1x Prime Catcher (TEF #157)1x Hisuian Heavy Ball (ASR #146)1x Lost Vacuum (LOR #162)1x Technical Machine: Devolution (PAR #177)1x Defiance Band (SVI #169)1x Forest Seal Stone (SIT #156)1x Collapsed Stadium (BRS #137)1x Temple of Sinnoh (ASR #155)

Energy (7)

6x Fire Energy (EM #102)1x Mist Energy (TEF #161)
A super unique control version of Charizard was played by a strong group of North American and Australian players, with Aidan Khus taking the deck to a Top 32 finish. This version of the deck plays a Regieleki along with disruption cards like Eri and Technical Machine: Devolution. Against decks like Chien-Pao ex, you can use Eri to snipe cards like Rare Candy and Superior Energy Retrieval, and then use TM Devo to send the Baxcalibur back to their hand. With Regieleki, the TM and Eri can be re-used, eventually running the Chien-Pao player out of resources or ways to evolve into Baxcalibur.

The TM Devo is also super strong in the mirror match, and with Regieleki, a similar strategy can be employed. The deck even plays a copy of Temple of Sinnoh to go through Mist Energy, allowing the deck to guarantee a devolution no matter what. Against Snorlax, the deck can infinitely recycle Penny, though this plan is disrupted by Luxray V. I don’t know if this build will see any more play going forward, but I wanted to bring attention to it, since I think it’s a super unique way to play Charizard!

Lost Zone Giratina VSTAR

Second-Place List

Pokemon (19)

4x Comfey (LOR #79)3x Giratina VSTAR (LOR #131)3x Giratina V (LOR #130)1x Banette ex (SVI #88)1x Banette (LOR #73)2x Shuppet (SVI #87)1x Sableye (LOR #70)1x Cramorant (LOR #50)1x Radiant Greninja (ASR #46)1x Manaphy (BRS #41)1x Iron Leaves ex (TEF #25)

Trainers (28)

4x Colress's Experiment (LOR #190)1x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)1x Roxanne (ASR #150)4x Mirage Gate (LOR #163)4x Nest Ball (SM #123)3x Switch (HS #102)2x Buddy-Buddy Poffin (TEF #144)2x Super Rod (PAL #188)1x Ultra Ball (SM #135)1x Counter Catcher (CRI #91)1x Prime Catcher (TEF #157)1x Pokégear 3.0 (SSH #174)1x Forest Seal Stone (SIT #156)1x Temple of Sinnoh (ASR #155)1x Artazon (PAL #171)

Energy (13)

5x Psychic Energy (EM #105)4x Grass Energy (EM #101)4x Jet Energy (PAL #190)

With the rotation of Path to the Peak, it looked like Giratina was destined to fade away from the format, but instead it ended up taking second place at one of the year’s biggest tournaments! I want to focus on the second-place list, and the massive innovation of the split Banette line. While Giratina boasts a positive Charizard matchup, it has a really poor Chien-Pao matchup. The Banette ex helps to solve the matchup by introducing an Item lock option. A majority of Chien-Pao lists don’t play Arctibax, relying solely on Rare Candy to evolve into Baxcalibur. If you are able to Item-lock them before they get set up, then they never get the chance to use Baxcalibur. Even if they do, it’s still okay, since Item lock can run the deck out of Energy. It takes five Energy on a Chien-Pao ex to knock out Banette ex, and once the Energy hit the discard, they can’t come back unless a card like Superior Energy Retrieval or Super Rod is used. If you just recycle the Banette ex after it gets Knocked Out, then it will be safe from ever being Knocked Out again!

The nice thing about this line is that there is another useful Banette. The Lost Origins version of the Pokemon can send itself to the Lost Zone to get a Supporter from your discard pile back. Getting a Supporter is great, but getting to put two additional cards in the Lost Zone can accelerate the deck’s strategy immensely. A turn-two Puppet Offering can unlock Mirage Gate way ahead of schedule, allowing the deck to take big Knock Outs very quickly with Giratina VSTAR. The other thing I like about this card is that you can just leave it in play as protection against late-game disruption. If your opponent plays Iono or Roxanne, you have a guaranteed way to grab a Colress's Experiment to dig for a game-winning play. If your opponent ever plays Boss’s Orders on Banette, then they are ignoring your attackers, which is also a win for you!

Going forward, I expect Giratina to see more play. It had a very loyal player base in our pre-rotation format, and now it has a proven result and list out there. The deck also has a good matchup into the most popular deck (Charizard), plus a strong Chien-Pao ex matchup if Banette ex is included.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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