The North American Intercontinental Championship is starting in just a couple days and I have my top picks ready. No deck feels like it is a clear cut best option because of how diverse and open the meta seems to be. I have a different approach to how I feel the meta is changing for NAIC, which means my mentality for the event is not exactly what you usually hear. In particular, it seems players are not taking into consideration the importance of dealing with tier 2 archetypes in day 1.
Before I get into the meat, I want to note that this article is light on match up information as we have already gone over match ups for all three of these decks in the past. Although these variants are a little different, most of the older content relating to them is still very applicable. So I suggest you go give some past articles a read for help in that department. The bulk of this article talks about meta theory, decks, and deck lists. It may not be exactly what some are looking for, but it seems more appropriate than writing a redundant article. I give the most attention to Gardevoir because it is my top choice for NAIC currently (also because the list change more dramatically than the other two). I cap this article off with discussion of why these three were chosen over the multitude of other decks my team and I have considered. The following paragraphs on preparing for Day 1 and the final paragraphs of this article are actually more important than the lists in this piece. Understanding a different view of how to win this event is something I see as more important than seeing the lists and their explanations.
Why to care more about day 1
The mentality that I have taken in the past and many players currently take with hopes of winning or top 8’ing, is to play a deck that beats the day 2 meta rather than ensure making it into day 2. In the past this has been exactly how I went into events, but I have begun to disagree with the concept. Remember that your record from day 1 carries into day 2, meaning doing very well in day 1 shoots you chances up for making top 8. In reality, when you play a deck that just barely gets you by, ending day 1 at 6-2-1, you do not make top 8 often. How sure can we really be that the day 2 meta is what we expect? Once you are already at 6-2-1, your day two is an uphill battle to say the least. Is it not more realistic to aim for a 8-0-1 day 1, and then hope to have some good luck in day 2? I believe it is. This mentality is far less likely to result in a complete flop performance that you might see with a more risky deck which is oriented around beating what you think the best players will bring.
This is why I am less concerned about predicting what day 2 will be and much more concerned with making sure I can do very well in day one. Who wants to prepare for hours and hours just to play a deck that may not even make it through the first day of the event!? For NAIC I look for an archetype that goes 9-0-0 against a field of mostly less experieced players, rather than for an archetype that takes favorable match ups to what I believe will be the best decks. This sort of deck is coincidentally the same sort of deck that will be your safest option for getting points. Will Jenkins played PikaRom to first seed in day 1 at Madison. I cannot say this was his mentality going into the event, but I can say he played a deck that would result from this sort of theory (same list as Xander’s top 4 deck). Unfortunately he hit an incredible amount of bad luck in day 2, which is why he did not make top 8. However, this was a rare situation; players who get first seed almost aways make top 8 or better.
Beating tier 2
Zapdos seems to be the most highly performing deck in the events at Origins leading up to NAIC. Not only did it make second place at the Special Event, but the deck it lost to in finals was…another Zapdos deck. On top of that, Magnus Petersen won a Regional in Sweden with the deck. Clearly Zapdos is coming back into the picture in the big way. The DDG crew with the exception of Daniel Altavilla (who ironically won the event with an archetype that loses to his teammate’s deck) all used Weezing, which gives the fans of Weezing some new faith in the deck. In short, I think Weezing will be popular at NAIC, especially in day one. Those Weezing players we all face on PTCGO, who might be more on the casual side, are quite likely to show up for this event. NAIC is the event that all of us try to go to, regardless of our CP. Players who used to play Weezing pick up the deck again with the meta shaping up well for it. The deck is always somewhat popular, but I think we will see a spike in play this weekend.
Baby Blowns is another tier two archetype that will be in the meta with the hopes of beating the ever-prevalent ReshiZard decks and the now popular Zapdos decks. I do not see Baby Blowns as a deck that will be as popular as Weezing, but it could be. Nonetheless, you will likely see one in day 1.
Stall is another less popular deck that seems to be coming back with some force. In Southern California Stall won three back to back League Cups. Should out to Bevin. As I understand it, there is a new list circulating which has great match ups against the top tier. We may find Stall seeing some great success in this meta. Although less likely, there is still a good chance of facing one.
How it relates to my top three picks
These reasons are why I am still finding interest in Zoroark. Sure PikaRom and ReshiZard are not perfect match ups, but they are manageable. Zoroark is repeatedly showing that it is the deck to beat the second tier. Easily one Oranguru (UPR) paired with one to two Judge can beat Stall decks (given enough time). Zapdos is a favorable match up, with the exception of the Zapdos list in this piece. Weezing is about a 60/40, which is more than enough to do well against less experienced players using the deck; less experienced players are who I predict will be the vast majority of the players who pilot Weezing. Baby Blowns is a bit more iffy than the other match ups, but one to two Judge alone can win it for you. Not to mention whichever Water techs you want to play will make a big difference. So while I was just about ready to give up on Zoroark, I managed to make some crucial changes to my list and the meta fell back in Zoroark’s lap (sort of). That is exactly why Zoroark is back in my top three, even after I was almost certain it would not be a consideration for NAIC.
Gardevoir is the rogue deck I have put more time into that any other less played archetype. Over the last two month subscribers have seen me post multiple list trying to pin down exactly how to make the deck tick. With some help from Mike Morton I can say that the deck is more consistent, easier to play, and better than it has been in the last two months. The key to it seems to be reverting to simplicity rather than complicating the deck with techs and secondary attackers. These two decks are the ones that I feel can really run through day 1, but my last pick pays homage to the concept I am opposing in this article.
If I play Zapdos, my day one will be a series of games barely scraping by against those decks newer players enjoy like Baby Blowns and Weezing. That, or I don’t scrape by and end up not making 6-2-1 at all. Once in day 2 I can take on anything in the top tier with favorable match ups. Zoroark, DDG Zard, PikaRom, mirror, Big Blowns. Sounds good to me. I still do not play Shrine/Rainbow by the way. If that sounds attractive to you, check out the list in this piece.
am starting with my favorite archetype at the moment.