The Most Broken and Difficult Deck: Pidgeot ex Control

There have been some pretty broken control decks in recent memory. I have fond memories of playing Pidgeotto control in 2019, winning nearly every game effortlessly, and before that, Zoroark-GX won tons of major events as the uncontested best deck in the format. Throughout the game’s history, control has been in an interesting spot — in many formats, control is inherently broken, but still the archetype characteristically sees little play in terms of usage stats. At its peak, even Zoroark-GX control was severely underplayed given how overpowered it was. Stall and control decks have always won by utilizing defensive styles, usually taking no Prize cards and running the opponent out of resources or locking them outright.

For the past couple of years, these kinds of decks have taken a backseat, almost disappearing entirely because they could not keep up with the demands of a fast and diverse format. Just recently, in the months before this year’s rotation, Snorlax stall started creeping back up, but most top players avoided it because its matchup spread was terrible… at least against players who knew how to play against it. Nevertheless, it had a few strong results. Then rotation happened, and Snorlax stall performed well at Japan’s Fukuoka Champions League. This worried many players, placing stall high on the hit list for EUIC. Some players also started hyping Pidgeot ex control, which often gets lumped in with Snorlax stall due to also being a disruptive deck.

At EUIC, Pidgeot ex control managed to get two Top 8 placements, which was a huge overachievement considering it constituted only 2.6% of the field — a negligible amount… negligible until it starts winning, that is. It didn’t take long for people to realize that Pidgeot ex control was far superior to Snorlax stall, which only managed one Top 64 finish at EUIC. Interestingly, Pidgeot ex control was absent from the top placements at the subsequent Orlando Regionals; the top EU control players naturally weren’t at this American tournament. People were, evidently, still worried about the deck, however, as the second place Ancient box list played a Fire Energy so that Koraidon could Shred through Noivern ex, and the top 8 Roaring Moon ex deck played Temple of Sinnoh for the same reason.

Similarity to Past Archetypes

With Pidgeot ex control appearing nowhere near Orlando’s Top 32 and most of the top control players being European, it is once again under the radar for upcoming tournaments, and this unique deck has several characteristics reminiscent of past control decks. Firstly, it’s broken. I think the deck is insanely good right now, and I’ve taken it upon myself to try and learn the deck for the next Regional. It has a terrific matchup spread and also has a decent shot at beating the decks it’s unfavored against. Notably, it’s one of the two decks that consistently beats Charizard ex, the far and away best deck in format (Giratina VSTAR being the other deck that beats Charizard ex).

The second recurring factor of this control deck is that it is extremely difficult to play. Like past control decks, the player must be well-studied on all of the meta decks and card counts. You need to be able to mentally create your opponent’s list in your head so that you know exactly how to play against their deck. Pidgeot ex control is fragile, and one misstep can cost you dearly. It has to account for a multitude of possible game plans from the opponent, making games exponentially more complicated than most matchups that are only concerned with trading blows back and forth. Furthermore, you need to know exactly when to be aggressive, defensive, or simply do nothing. This becomes difficult with how long games drag out, as there are many opportunities to make a mistake. I am far from mastering this deck, and there are times when I question if it’s even possible to do so.

Finally, the deck is almost nonexistent in terms of usage. It is frequently a two-or-three-percent deck in meta shares, which means a few things; players are disincentivized from countering or otherwise worrying about the deck. Furthermore, they are less likely to be practiced in the matchup, which matters a lot. Pidgeot ex control operates so differently from other decks that it will hard-punish players who aren’t prepared. This takes “skill-diff” to a whole other level and will get you lots of free wins. This deck being broken, difficult to play, and severely underplayed therefore makes it similar to past control decks.

The Differences

There’s one main difference; the offensive capabilities. Pidgeot ex control is built to have a unique blend of offensive and defensive strategies.

If I were to oversimplify it, I would say the deck tends to spend the early- and mid-game dawdling around and chipping away at the opponent’s resources, and then blitzes attacks out of nowhere at the end of the game. If you think about it, KO’ing something is a great form of disruption, removing an attacker and several Energy from play, which is in itself resource control. Dealing damage is a fantastic way to apply pressure, forcing more resources from the opponent, even if your goal isn’t to take all six Prize cards directly.

The List

I’ve been using this list, which James Kowalski used to make Day 2 at Orlando (and which I lost against):

Pokemon (16)

2x Pidgeot ex (OBF #164)2x Pidgey (MEW #16)1x Wigglytuff ex (MEW #40)1x Jigglypuff (MEW #39)1x Mimikyu (PAF #37)1x Mawile (LOR #71)1x Cleffa (OBF #80)1x Rotom V (CRZ #45)1x Chi-Yu ex (PAL #40)1x Snorlax (PGO #55)1x Luxray V (ASR #50)1x Klawf ex (OBF #120)1x Lumineon V (BRS #40)1x Radiant Charizard (CRZ #20)

Trainers (39)

4x Arven (SVI #166)3x Penny (SVI #183)1x Miss Fortune Sisters (LOR #164)1x Eri (TEF #146)1x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)1x Team Yell's Cheer (BRS #149)1x Cyllene (ASR #138)1x Mela (PAR #167)1x Cheren's Care (BRS #134)1x Iono (PAF #80)3x Nest Ball (SVI #181)3x Ultra Ball (SVI #196)3x Pal Pad (SVI #182)3x Counter Catcher (PAR #160)2x Rare Candy (PAF #89)1x Super Rod (PAL #188)1x Hisuian Heavy Ball (ASR #146)1x Lost Vacuum (LOR #162)1x Buddy-Buddy Poffin (TEF #144)2x Bravery Charm (PAL #173)1x Defiance Vest (PAR #162)1x Forest Seal Stone (SIT #156)1x Rescue Board (TEF #159)1x Hero's Cape (TEF #152)

Energy (5)

2x Fire Energy (CRZ #153)2x Double Turbo Energy (BRS #151)1x Mist Energy (TEF #161)

List Breakdown

There’s a lot going on here.

I haven’t felt the pressing need to change anything yet, but there are some things I’m not quite sure about and some cards I would like to add. This deck aims to set up Pidgeot ex as quickly as possible and then run your opponent out of resources. Sometimes you take all six Prize cards, and sometimes you don’t. Your game plan is highly dependent on the specific matchup as well as what your opponent decides to do.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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