If you thought our metagame was going to be a stale garbage dump for the next three months, take a good look at the Madison, Wisconsin Regional Championship results. While Trashalanche was still a presence in both the Top 32 and the Top 8, in the end Wisconsin was all about Garbodor counters in many forms and varieties. Michael Pramawat ended up the victor with Vespiquen, but as I already discussed that archetype in detail last week I’m going to be brief on that. Instead, I’d like to focus my attention on two other decks that put their stamp on the metagame last weekend: Alex Dao’s Gyarados and Christopher Schemanske’s Metagross GX.
As usual, deck list information was pulled from The Charizard Lounge.
Vespiquen has already been on the radar since Seattle Regionals where it took 2nd place, though it was the only one in all of Day 2. However, people certainly noticed that it had what it took to take on a field of Garbodor, and as a result it had quite a bit more representation in Madison, with 6 people playing it in Day 2 and eventually taking up a quarter of the Top 8. I think for the time being we’ve reached a bit of a peak with Vespiquen: it’s one of those decks that has some pretty strong hate cards in the metagame that make it a rather uphill battle if your opponent plays one of them.
One of these cards is the Supernatural Dance Oricorio, which puts a damage counter wherever you want for every Pokémon in your opponent’s discard. I discussed it a bit in my last article, but I just want to add that the card is not an autowin against Vespiquen. If your opponent does their best to play around it, you will probably just get an easy KO on a Vespiquen or maybe a Shaymin-EX with it (as opposed to a KO on 2 Pokémon). But it’s still annoying to have to do so, and it still gives a lot of decks an easy way to trade prizes with you.
The same goes for Karen, the other counter card. It’s nowhere near as hard of a reset as you might hope it is, since a lot of the Pokémon in their discard will be Unown or Klefki which can go back in rather easily. Combined with Choice Band and any leftover Ultra Ball and Sycamore, these can make Vespiquen ramp the damage back up somewhat easily to at least a 2HKO on a GX or EX. They might have to use Sky Return instead of Bee Revenge just to set up a KO, but that’s not the end of the world. So the way I see it, Karen and Oricorio are not hard counters to Vespiquen, but cards that can shift a close Vespiquen matchup into your favour.
Pramawat’s Vespiquen list was a bit more straightforward than the list by Jeffrey Cheng that I featured in my last article: it had no Tauros, Absol or Milotic line, and instead it boosts the potential output of Vespiquen and Zoroark by including a 2nd Choice Band, Flareon and Vaporeon as well as a consistency increase with the second Tapu Lele. So other than the fact that these Eeveelutions helped him in the finals and probably in several other matchups that day, there isn’t really a reason to go over his list in depth.
Instead, I’d like to discuss a different archetype that you should take into account, especially if you’re going to be playing League Cups for the last part of the season.
Alex Dao went on a rampage in Birmingham with his Gyarados deck, at the time of writing being 33-1 with the deck over the course of the last 3 events he’s played, which include two Regional sized events and the League Cup in Birmingham the day before the Regional. So there’s no reason to feature a Gyarados list that isn’t his.
4 Magikarp EVO
3 Gyarados AOR 21
1 Machop GRI 63
1 Machoke GRI
1 Tapu Lele GX
1 Shaymin EX
1 Remoraid BKT
1 Octillery BKT
4 Professor Sycamore
1 Professor Kukui
4 Ultra Ball
1 Level Ball
3 Dive Ball
3 Trainer’s Mail
4 VS Seeker
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Rescue Stretcher
1 Special Charge
1 Town Map
1 Field Blower
3 Choice Band
1 Float Stone
4 Team Magma’s Secret Base
4 Double Colorless
A quick recap on the basics of Gyarados, since it’s been a while: your goal is to use Gyarados’s Full Retaliation attack for OHKOs turn after turn. To do this, you bench as many Magikarp as you can with damage on them through the use of Team Magma’s Secret Base. Full Retaliation does 30 damage plus 30 more for every damage counter on your benched Magikarp, so for every Magikarp with 20 damage on them you do 60 more damage. If you have 3 Magikarp with 20 damage each, that means you’re dealing 210 damage, enough to get OHKOs on just about everything.
Despite this potential Gyarados has been a deck prone to bad luck in the past, particularly due to the possibility of prizing Magikarp. With one Magikarp prized, Gyarados’s damage cap early game falls to 150, not nearly enough to get OHKOs. But with Choice Band, Gyarados can overcome this problem with relative ease and also further increase its OHKO potential. Not only can you now deal 180 damage even with a Magikarp prized, you can even deal a total maximum of 240 damage and KO even the bulkiest GXes like Vikavolt GX. What’s particularly amazing about Choice Band on Gyarados is that it can wield two of them at once thanks to its Theta Double Ancient Trait, giving you 60 extra damage just through the use of Tools.
The other card that Gyarados gained from Guardians Rising that’s a big deal is Rescue Stretcher. Before this set, Gyarados decks usually played 4 Buddy-Buddy Rescue and a Super Rod. Usually you wouldn’t be able to recover more than one Pokémon every turn, which is problematic when your opponent tends to start the game off by KOing a Magikarp and then proceeds to KO an evolved Magikarp every turn. Over the course of the game you tend to need to recover about 4-5 Magikarp and some Gyarados as well, so you can imagine that sometimes your resources are stretched thin. Without a timely Double Puzzle, you’d often be up the creek without a paddle.
But with Rescue Stretcher Gyarados gains a lot of flexibility. This card can be either Buddy-Buddy’s instant but single card recovery or Super Rod’s mass recycling, depending on what you need it to be, so it’s much harder to run out. If all you need to do is replace one Magikarp, it can do that. But if you need multiple pieces put back into your deck to try and find with Professor Sycamore or Teammates, it can do that too.
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