Hey CutOrTap readers, it’s Charlie, back with another article. This is the one time of year where there is a major divide between players – some are working to test for Worlds while others are testing out next year’s format. Today, I’m going to share with you some of the front-runners in my group’s large testing pool, along with a few predictions for what will unfold in Anaheim in just a few weeks.
Table of Contents
- Favorites from Burning Shadows
- The List
- Quick Tips for Worlds
Favorites from Burning Shadows
For the second year in a row, the newest set will become legal on the first day of Worlds, making it the first official tournament in which the set is legal. This will result in many creative choices when it comes to deck building, similarly to how Japan brought Volcanion decks to 2016 Worlds. This year’s set is even more impactful, bringing lots of powerful new cards that we can play with. Below, I’ve listed my favorites from the new set, along with a few sleeper cards that could make quite the splash in the right deck.
I think this card has a chance at making a splash at Worlds simply because of its Pyroar-esque Ability (it’s actually better because cards like Turtonator GX have no way to deal with it). I am currently testing it out in all of my Vileplume decks as a good way to deal with Volcanion. It is a really good wall to stall with while you set up your board, and even if they have Hex, Plume should have served its purpose in allowing you to set up an impeccable board while they sit there without access to even Power Heater.
Before I began any testing, I had already pseudo-concluded that Golisopod plus Lurantis and Choice Band would be the strongest deck for Worlds because of its incredible speed. “First Impression” really does make quite the impression when it can OHKO a basic EX or GX on the first turn of the game. Since then, I found out that that the Lurantis-based build was not very consistent, so I have since scrapped it for a deck that capitalizes on Golisopod’s ability to be the aggressor. Overall, I really like the card and I think it has a lot of potential to find success in Anaheim.
We finally got a Safeguarder for GX’s, and on top of that it also is immune to EX’s. This card has definitely earned a place in Alolan Ninetales decks, and possibly in Decidueye/Ninetales decks that include Rainbow Energy as well. Since most of the metagame is centralized around EX/GX attackers, Alolan Ninetales can really pick apart a deck that does not include any non-EX/GX attackers and/or Hex Maniac. I would definitely watch out for this card heading into the event.
Tapu Fini GX
In decks including Rainbow Energy/Water decks, I feel like Tapu Fini is a great inclusion. For all-out Water decks, Hydro Shot is a really strong snipe attack (we haven’t had a good one since Raikou EX), but my favorite part of the card is Tapu Storm. I feel like Tapu Storm is now the strongest GX attack when it comes down to really close end-game scenarios where both players are down to their last options, and simply wiping one of them off the board could be game-changing.
Take this, for example: you’re playing against Metagross, and it is Turn 1 of time. Both of you have one prize left, while your opponent has two Metagross in play (benched one has 160 damage) and you have three Decidueye in play. Not taking out the active Metagross would lose you the game, so you can triple Feather Arrow the bench and use Tapu Storm. They won’t be able to power up another attacker, so you can get yourself the one extra turn that you need to win.
This is probably the strongest Pokemon in the set going forward. Having been printed as an attack on the powerful Rayquaza Star back in EX Deoxys, Black Ray GX is one of the best GX attacks that we have seen so far. Assuming we eventually get the Tapu Lele promo, we will be able to move all of Necrozma’s damage around and possibly win the game. It also has an attack with no practical damage cap and an Ability that makes it immune to Colorless Pokemon, both of which are great bonuses. I’d recommend that you watch out for this card going into Worlds – I guarantee that it will make quite the impact.
We finally got a splashable Fighting attacker! Being able to copy any discarded Basic Pokemon’s attacks is one of the strongest Abilities we have seen in a while, making this a card that can fit in many different decks. For Worlds, I don’t really know how much of an impact Marshadow will make, but in Expanded it will definitely make Night March into even more of a threat than before.
I like Darkrai a lot more for its Ability to come back to the Bench than its ability to recover an Energy. Darkrai will definitely find a place in M Rayquaza and Turbo Darkrai for Worlds, helping to improve both already-strong archetypes. Watch out for this card and the decks it helps to improve.
This is by far the most hyped GX of the set, and for a good reason. Having an Ability that helps to accelerate Energy, a pseudo-Psychic Infinity attack, and an insane GX attack that allows you to recover basically everything you need is definitely worthy of all the hype. Make sure that whatever deck you bring to Worlds is prepared to handle an onslaught of Gardevoir GX.
In Burning Shadows, we were treated to a good collection of new Trainers, including Guzma, Acerola, and Kiawe, as well as the return of some old ones such as Super Scoop Up. The only Trainers I see making an immediate impact in many decks are those three Supporters, while the rest may have to wait a few months before taking their turn in the spotlight.
I really like cards like Po Town though, and I see lots of potential for it going forward into a format more based around evolving your Pokemon. However, my sleeper pick for the MVP Supporter of some deck at Worlds is Wickie. Many people do not see the potential of the card, thinking it’s just a dumb hand refresh for both players, but the real potential is to punish bad play. Recently, many players have been lowering their hand size on the first turn to around 1-3 cards after playing a Brigette. Using a Wickie will allow you to throw away the likely strong 1-3 cards that they had, possibly giving them a dead hand. I suspect that Wickie is going to do quite a bit of damage in Anaheim.
Burning Shadows is shaping up to be a very interesting set, bringing a bit more substance to the table than last year’s Steam Siege. I love how TPCi has started legalizing the next set for Worlds, testing the creativity of the game’s top players. As my favorite part of Pokemon is deck building, you can be sure I’ve been spending plenty of time trying out all sorts of new ideas. Below, I’ve shared one of my favorite new ideas coming out of the set: Golisopod/Vileplume!
The idea for this deck stemmed from me and my friends observing that most of the decks in PRC-GRI have been relatively slow. We thought that this was the best approach to not only apply a lot of early game pressure, but also to lock our opponent’s out of their options to respond. Let’s take a look at the list:
|Pokémon – 18||Trainers – 33||Energy – 9|
|4||Wimpod BUS||4||Professor Sycamore||4||Ultra Ball||4||Rainbow|
|3||Golisopod GX||3||N||3||Trainers’ Mail||3||Double Colorless|
|2||Oddish AOR||3||Acerola||3||Timer Ball||2||Grass|
|2||Gloom AOR||2||Guzma||2||Heavy Ball|
|2||Vileplume AOR||2||Level Ball|
|1||Vileplume BUS||2||Float Stone|
|2||Shaymin EX ROS||1||Revitalizer|
|1||Tapu Lele GX|
|4||Forest of Giant Plants|
As you can see, the goal is to set up a few Golisopod and a Vileplume as quickly as possible. Below, I’ll explain a few of the card choices that went into making this deck.
1 Vileplume BUS
I chose to play one of the new Vileplume to give the deck a strong answer to Volcanion. Most Volcanion lists have not been carrying a Hex Maniac for a while now, and with Ho-Oh and Kiawe now being released, there is even less space for it. If Volcanion does not include a Hex Maniac, a lone Vileplume will win you the game. If they do play Hex, you never really stood much of a chance anyways, so why not try to counter the most popular variant?
1 Manaphy EX
Manaphy was only included to aid in resetting Golisopod’s attack as well as retreating Vileplume. Between Manaphy, Guzma, Acerola, Float Stone, and Energies, there is no practical way for a Vileplume to get stuck in the Active spot, and resetting Golisopod’s attack is nearly effortless most turns. I would definitely not cut Manaphy, it has proven itself to be a worthwhile inclusion throughout testing.
4 Ultra Ball, 3 Timer Ball, 2 Heavy Ball, 2 Level Ball
ELEVEN Ball cards? What?? I felt that the best way to set up a bunch of Golisopod and a Vileplume very quickly and consistently was to play an absurd amount of Ball cards. In testing I have been able to get the Turn 1 Vileplume >75% of the time which is insane, as well as usually getting a First Impression along with it. I love this count to death and highly recommend that you try it out.
3 Acerola, 2 Guzma
These are both used more for resetting Golisopod’s attack than they are for healing/Lysandre-ing; unless you are using Armor Press/Crossing Cut, you have to reset First Impression to get off a productive attack. 3/2 is a perfect count as of now, as a higher count results in clumped-up hands, and fewer is usually not enough. They also both have their respective advantages, letting us heal our Golisopod or attack the target we want to attack. Both are great cards that the deck cannot fully function without.
4 Rainbow Energy
Rainbow Energy allows your Pokemon to retreat for free with Manaphy, and also does 10 damage to its target, allowing that Pokemon to be Acerola’ed. I do not see any real reasons for lowering this count, but the only thing I would consider would be running an extra Grass energy instead of one of these (to not get destroyed by Righteous Edge). Rainbow Energy is a perfect fit in any deck that can use both its positive and negative traits to its advantage, so it definitely fits well in Golisopod/Vileplume.
3 Double Colorless Energy
I only play 3 Double Colorless because Armor Press is not the most important part of the deck, but it is definitely a great attack to use when you have the option to use it. Crossing Cut GX is also very good against high-HP decks like Metagross, putting their main attacker into 2HKO range and also switching Golisopod to the bench. I have considered cutting this count down to two, but I had lots of trouble finding Double Colorless when I really needed it. I am not saying you couldn’t get away with two, but I have found that three is usually a better choice.
Matchups in the Worlds Meta
The combination of Item lock and early game aggression is usually too much for Gardevoir to overcome. First Impression can pick off early Ralts while also 2HKOing Gardevoir. Acerola can also be utilized as a healing card here, keeping your Golisopd out of 2HKO range while you 2HKO their attackers. However, if Gardevoir can get a strong early game set up while you stumble, this matchup can get ugly pretty quick.
Decidueye Variants-Slightly Favorable
Since their main attacker takes two Energy attachments to attack, they cannot take full advantage of Acerola while you can. Make sure to go for Vileplume as quickly as possible, halting their set up while you apply lots of pressure. However, if you get hit with an early Vileplume, you are more than likely going to lose. Pressure, Item lock, and healing are the keys to winning this matchup.
Garbodor Variants-Slightly Favorable to Even
This is the one matchup in which you have to watch your Item usage. Try your best to set up a quick Vileplume without using all of your precious Ball cards, but also remember that you can pick off their smaller Pokemon quickly with First Impression, possibly neutralizing the threat of Garbodor before it even hits the field. You also can OHKO a Garbodor with First Impression, so a lot of times Garbodor is only a minor factor. If you are playing against the Drampa variant, your Grass Energy will become very important because of Righteous Edge, so be careful when attaching Rainbow Energy. Proper play and a little bit of luck usually results in a win here.
Zoroark Variants-Highly Favorable
You can start knocking out all of Zoroark’s smaller attackers before they even get a chance to do much, as well as heal away all of their damage with Acerola. Your opponent will have lots of trouble just trying to keep up with you while under Item lock, so this should be a quick victory.
Darkrai usually takes a fair amount of Items to execute its strategy (especially Exp. Share), so enough early pressure with Item lock will force Darkrai to a grinding halt. DO NOT try to set up your Vileplume BUS, because Darkrai lists have always incorporated one or two Hex Maniac. Simply playing to hit 100-120 every turn with Vileplume in play should usually win you this matchup.
Other Golisopod Variants-Favorable
Since other Golisopod variants are not built to run under Vileplume lock, you should be able to execute your strategy more consistently and efficiently. Play this matchup almost exactly how you would against Decidueye variants; they do not have any real advantages other than one energy attacks.
You do not even need to set up Vileplume here – simply go for a lot of Golisopod and just KO everything they have to offer. You can easily heal up with Acerola whenever you need to while also tanking with Armor Press, so running through all of their Greninja should be a quick and easy task.
Volcanion-Autowin or Autoloss
If your opponent plays Hex Maniac, you will almost always lose. If they do not, however, you can always win by setting up a Vileplume BUS and knocking out all of their Pokemon while they sit there unable to do anything. I would always go for the lone Vileplume here – if they have the Hex for the win, who cares? You probably would have lost anyways.
As you can see, Goliso-plume has a lot of very strong matchups with only a few tough ones. I am highly considering this deck going into Worlds and I recommend that you consider it as well.
Quick Tips for How to Succeed at Worlds
Just like any other tournament, Worlds is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you go into the day ready for a ton of very good games of Pokemon.
1: Get sleep
Just like at any other event, getting as much sleep as you can will be important. Your mind will always be sharper with more sleep. Also, decklists are being collected Thursday night as of now so many of your excuses to stay up late do not have very much substance.
2: Play what you know and what has gotten you there
The biggest mistake I made last year was playing a deck I did not know how to play perfectly. I had never played Vespiquen, Vileplume, or Yveltal at a tournament before and I chose to play all of them. Make sure that you play a deck that has brought you success and that you would never regret playing. Having a personal connection to a deck you succeed with is the best thing ever, so why not try it at Worlds?
3: Have fun!
Although this is a very competitive game and Worlds will be a stressful experience, please never forget that you have earned your place to play in Anaheim throughout the season and that you should enjoy every moment of this amazing event. You are one of the world’s best players and no matter how this event goes, you can say you played in the most prestigious tournament of the year. Many people dream of playing here, so make sure to remember how lucky you are to be playing in the World Championships.
As always, thanks to all of my friends for being great, especially Team Fresh Sauce for helping me develop all of my crazy ideas. Feel free to say hi to me at Worlds – I’m always down to talk to any of you guys. If you are playing in Worlds, good luck and I hope to see you at the top tables with me!