From Greninja to Gardevoir.
By Joshua Yehl
With the 2017 Pokemon World Championships just around the corner, from August 18 to 20, we’ve got our eye on a handful of decks that could win the TCG tournament. The grand prize for the TCG Masters division tournament is $25,000, which is the largest payout of the whole championship (the VGC winner gets $10,000), making it a super competitive field.
Before we get to our picks for the top decks, we want to give a reminder of the craziness that happened last year. Everyone thought the metagame would be predictable with all the same popular decks that had been played all year long, but Japan’s Shintaro Ito surprised everyone when he took 1st place using Mega Audino-EX. That card was considered binder trash by most, but it also happened to be the silver bullet to last year’s metagame, allowing Ito to sweep the finals match in under 25 minutes. The lesson here is to take note of these powerful and popular decks, but also to always expected the unexpected.
If you’re unfamiliar with the new Pokemon GX card type introduced in Sun & Moon, then here’s a quick primer. Just like Pokemon EX, they are more powerful than regular Pokemon, but give up two Prizes when they are knocked out instead of one. However, unlike Pokemon EX, you have to evolve into Stage 1 and 2 Pokemon GX, which is offset by their big HP and strong attacks. Each Pokemon GX has a GX attack, and only one GX attack can be used per game, just like Z-Moves in the video game.
Now, onto the decks!
With the new Burning Shadows set legal for Worlds but untested in any major tournaments, a lot of cards are going to make their big debut at Worlds, and top among them is Gardevoir-GX. The Fairy-Type attacker can swing for big numbers with minimal effort by using its Secret Spring ability to attach an extra energy and then attack with Infinite Force, dealing 30x the number of energy on both Pokemon. There’s also the excellent Twilight GX attack, allowing you to put 10 useful cards back into your deck. That Lysandre’s Trump Card was banned for having a similar (but much stronger) effect is a big indicator of how advantageous this can be. You can also toss in Gallade/Octillery to give the deck more consistency and an alternate, single-Prize attacker.
Garbodor/Drampa-GX won the recent North American International tournament, but Gardevoir-GX looks like it was practically engineered to take it down. If a Drampa-GX has three energy, then it only takes three energy on a Gardevoir-GX to deliver a OHKO, and Twilight GX can put all Items cards back in your deck, rendering Garbodor nothing put a useless pile of trash. Gardevoir-GX is unproven in the tournament scene, but players have hyped it up so much that it has given Metagross-GX a second life, all because it hits Gardevoir for weakness. Gardevoir-GX will definitely be one of the top decks, and therefore competitors will either be running Gardevoir-GX or be playing a deck that has a way to counter it.
Greninja BREAK is another deck that performs well against Gardevoir-GX. Due to Greninja’s low energy cost and the option to remove energy from it altogether, Gardevoir has to do all the work to earn its knockouts. This deck won 2nd place at last year’s World Championship, and although it can be finicky and auto-lose on the first or second turn sometimes, it has remained in the metagame because when it does set up properly, it’s insanely hard to stop it from relentlessly firing off Giant Water Shurikens all the way to victory. The addition of Guzma from Burning Shadows makes Greninja even more powerful because it allows you to toss a third shuriken per turn with its switching effect. And with Starmie’s Space Beacon ability, there will always be a supply of Water Energy at your disposal. Now, there are an abundance of Grass Type decks that are popular right now, which hurts Greninja’s chances due to weakness, but the inclusion of Talonflame BREAK lets the Greninja player hit for weakness too and gives them a fighting chance.
Speaking of Grass Type decks, Golisopod-GX is another strong contender from Burning Shadows. Its First Impression attack can do 120 damage for a single Grass Energy (150 if you have Choice Band attached), which is an insane number to hit on your first attacking turn. All you have to do is pull off a switch from the Bench to the Active position, an easy task with the likes of Float Stone, Switch, Guzma, and Golisopod’s own Crossing Cut GX attack at your disposal. Golisopod-GX pairs well with Decidueye-GX, Lurantis, Zoroark and the Eeveelutions, giving it a wide variety of partners for different strategies. We’re leaning more towards Zoroark and the Eeveelutions because they provide a way to combat Volcanion and stop it from burning Golisopod to a crisp.
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