Today we’re going to be looking at three decks that won State Championships in the Masters division from the US, during weeks one, two, and three!

All deck lists were provided by the official Pokemon website and can be found by following this link. Congratulations to all the players featured who were able to win their respective tournaments!

 

Week One: Ross Cawthon’s Night March – 1st Place Illinois

 

Joltik       Pumpkaboo

 

Pokemon: 15

4 Joltik PHF 26
4 Pumpkaboo PHF 44
4 Lampent PHF 42
3 Shaymin EX ROS 77

 

Trainers: 41

3 Professor Sycamore
1 AZ
1 Hex Maniac
1 Judge
1 Lysandre
1 Teammates
1 Xerosic
2 Dimension Valley
4 Battle Compressor
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Trainers Mail
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
2 Acro Bike
2 Fighting Fury Belt
1 Buddy-buddy Rescue
1 Escape Rope
1 Float Stone
1 Startling Megaphone
1 Target Whistle
1 Town Map

 

Energy: 4

4 Double Colourless

 

So you might not be aware of this deck Night March that has been flying under the radar recently, but I think it has potential…

Of course, the chances are you’ll know how dominant Night March has been (and how disliked it is becoming). Maybe it’s a testament to how strong a deck choice it is right now that Ross Cawthon, known usually for his innovation and creating new and exciting rogue decks, decided to play Night March instead.

While everyone was worried about Puzzle of Time’s strength in Sableye/Garbodor, perhaps everyone should have been more worried about how it has propelled Night March to be the clear best deck in the Standard format currently. Not only does it allow Night March to discard important resources and retrieve them back, but it also allows certain counts to be dropped lower, such as the two Dimension Valley.

There are lots of counts of cards in here that can be used in specific matchups. The third Professor Sycamore helps against Item lock variants, such as Seismitoad or Vespiquen/Vileplume. Xerosic is beneficial against Seismitoad/Giratina (and be used potentially nine times now with VS Seeker and Puzzle of Time), Escape Rope alongside Lysandre can get around an opposing Jolteon EX, Teammates is amazing in the mirror and for picking out the second Puzzle of Time when you have one in your hand, the Fighting Fury Belts help a lot against Crobat, and so on.

It’s interesting to see how Night March deck lists have evolved from the start of the season. Previously, they tended to focus more on hitting as much damage as possible from the first turn, with higher counts of cards such as Acro Bike, Roller Skates, Super Scoop Up, and so on. Nowadays, lists tend to be more conservative and wary of what the opponent could be playing, which is understandable when you consider how many techs can completely shut down Night March at the moment – a T1 Vileplume for the opponent going first, a Jolteon EX, a Giratina EX, and so on.

 

Week Two: Connor Finton’s Rayquaza/Jolteon – 1st Place South Carolina 

 

Rayquaza_Normal_Version_by_Xous54        Jolteon

 

Pokemon: 17

3 Mega Rayquaza ROS 76
2 Rayquaza EX ROS 60
1 Rayquaza EX ROS 75
4 Shaymin EX ROS 77
2 Jolteon EX GEN 28
2 Hoopa EX AOR 36
1 Zoroark BKT 91
1 Zorua BKT 90
1 Jirachi XY Promo 67

 

Trainers: 35

3 Professor Sycamore
1 AZ
1 Hex Maniac
1 Judge
1 Lysandre
1 Skyla
4 Skyfield
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Mega Turbo
3 Rayquaza Spirit Link
2 Battle Compressor
2 Float Stone
1 Sacred Ash

 

Energy: 8

4 Double Colourless
4 Lightning

 

Speed Mega Rayquaza has it’s obvious strengths, as it’s a deck that sets up fast and consistently, and can deal massive damage in the process. What sets it apart from other decks such as Vespiquen and Night March, which can also be described in the same way, is that Mega Rayquaza has a huge 220HP that your opponent will need to cut through for a responding knock out.

Thanks to the requirement for a large bench as well as Skyfield, you can afford to mismanage your bench space and play down as many Hoopa and Shaymin as you like, because there is no downside to doing so. If the opponent does play down a counter stadium, you can chose to discard your Shaymin (meaning they can’t take them out for easy prizes), plus you have the option of shuffling them back into the deck with Sacred Ash then searching them out, as a form of extra draw.

While Mega Rayquaza does have 220HP, it’s weakness to Lightning means that it can be surprisingly fragile, especially against Night March right now. In that matchup where both decks are trading OHKOs, the Night March player is usually going to come out on top as they’re only giving up one prize card to take two, and it’s easier for them to stream Joltik as opposed to a Mega Pokemon with a three energy cost requirement each turn.

In addition to playing two of the Dragon type Rayquaza EX (which isn’t weak to Lightning), Connor’s main response to Night March was to include two copies of Jolteon EX from Generations, a card that can completely shut down Night March when given the chance. What’s great about Jolteon is that against other decks where it isn’t required, it can still be useful by filling up the bench while providing a Pokemon with free retreat that you can send active temporarily.

The idea here is to start attacking with Jolteon as soon as possible (which should usually happen on the second turn), to shut down Night March. As you’ll be attaching an energy to a Jolteon on the bench on your first turn, whether the Night March player is able to discard enough Night Marchers and hit the Lysandre to bring it active for a knock out is huge in terms of who will eventually win that match. While Jolteon doesn’t give a fool proof guarantee that you’ll beat Night March every time you play it, it does give you a fighting chance.

 

Week Three: Kelsen Whitehair’s Seismitoad/Giratina – 1st Place Idaho

 

269px-Seismitoad      Giratina

 

Pokemon: 9

3 Seismitoad EX FFI 20
2 Giratina EX AOR 57
2 Shaymin EX ROS 77
1 Hoopa EX AOR 36
1 Bunnelby PRC 121

 

Trainers: 44

4 Professor Sycamore
2 Team Flare Grunt
1 Cassius
1 Hex Maniac
1 Judge
1 Lysandre
1 Professor Birch’s Observations
1 Xerosic
1 Silent Lab
1 Team Aqua’s Secret Base
4 Crushing Hammer
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Super Scoop Up
4 Ultra Ball
4 VS Seeker
3 Fighting Fury Belt
3 Trainers Mail
2 Head Ringer
2 Float Stone

 

Energy: 7

4 Double Colourless
3 Double Dragon

 

It’s no surprise to see Seismitoad/Giratina as one of the decks that has won a State Championship, as it’s been relevant in both Standard and Expanded since the start of the season.

As this is a Standard list, it loses the Hypnotoxic Lasers and Virbank City Gyms from Expanded that can help to make up for the deck’s lacklustre damage output. While there is a small damage reduction from the Fighting Fury Belts replacing Muscle Bands, this is more than worth it for the extra 40HP they bring. This makes it significantly harder for most decks to OHKO your Pokemon (especially Night March), means that you can get more use from your Super Scoop Ups, and lastly allows you to keep your Pokemon alive longer and stretch those seven energy further.

Kelsen opted for Cassius over AZ, which doesn’t have the benefit of reusing a Shaymin or Hoopa, but allows you to put any attached energy and the Fighting Fury Belt in the deck, as opposed to sending them to the discard. Along with the four Super Scoop Up and four Puzzle of Time to reuse any of these, you should be able to deny your opponent prizes quite frequently, which is really important since you’ll need a lot of turns to wear them down and take six prizes.

Judge is great when the opponent has a hand full of Items but you want to transition into attacking with Giratina, since you can shuffle those Items back into their deck beforehand and prevent them from playing through them all on their turn. Alternatively, if you’re still locking their Items with Seismitoad, they’ll have to shuffle those useless Item cards back into the deck and draw into them again. Another crucial use for Judge is to prevent yourself decking out (along with the Professor Birch’s Observations), which can be useful both in the mirror and against deck out decks such as Wailord.

Bunnelby is a similar multi-use card, which can help to deck the opponent out quickly in the mirror once you’ve discarded all of their energy. Since it’s the only non EX you run, you can sacrifice it to retrieve two Puzzle of Time (which can then get back anything at any point), and the opponent will gain no benefit from knocking it out (as they’ll need to knock out three EX Pokemon regardless to win). We’ve seen a rise in the popularity of Wailord again, and so I think having a Bunnelby in here isn’t a bad shout at all.

I think this is a deck that Puzzle of Time really shines in. Once you begin locking the opponent you won’t be in a rush to draw through your deck, so you can take the time to accumulate both pairs of Puzzle of Time for when you want to play them. There are plenty of good options to take from the discard pile, such as Crushing Hammers, Energy, VS Seekers, Super Scoop Ups, and so on.

 

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