Sneaky Suprises – A Triple City Championships Report
I’ve been playing as early as 2004, but started competitively and attending leagues during 2012. I wasn’t very adept between 2012 to 2013, but I enjoyed the game regardless and made lots of friends, some becoming my best friends. The year of 2014 was when I took the competitive scene very seriously and bought my first Tier 1 deck; Plasma. It was also the year I first qualified for Worlds, although they put me in Masters and I couldn’t go due to financial issues. As I’m in my last year of Senior, I will try my best to go to Worlds. Luckily, the Top 8 of each continent receives a free trip to Worlds, and my goal is to achieve one of the tickets. This means I have to get as much points as I can, estimated at 600 or more.
After missing the top 2 in League Challenges during October, I decided to attend Canberra Cities during the 25th of January, after a road trip with my family to Melbourne. My deck choice I had in mind, was Yveltal/Garbodor, a very safe but easily countered play. I disliked playing it, but it was the only deck I had built and played with. I found it to be somewhat inconsistent at times, due to the amount of space the Garbodor line took. My friend, Jonah, decided to come to Canberra a day before, which meant I could test with him. That was when he suggested me an anti-meta deck that would be a good play for the big day; Manectric/Zapdos/Mewtwo. I was very sceptical, but also intrigued of the idea. We decided to make the deck using both our card pools available, and played a few games to get a feel of the strategy. There were a few missing cards, but my other friend, Scott, saved me the next day.
The list is a card-for-card copy of Kyle Sabelhaus’ decklist, which can be found in a free Underground article preview on SixPrizes. Since Jonah gave me this idea at 9pm, so I had not much time to actually make changes. I wanted to try Muscle Bands or Hard Charms, but 11pm came too quickly, and I was tired enough. But here is the list, a breakdown of the deck and what I would have changed if I had more time:
|Pokemon (15)||Trainers (33)||Energy (12)|
|4x Manectric-EX||4x Professor Juniper||8x Lightning Energy|
|3x M Manectric-EX||3x N||4x Double Colorless Energy|
|3x Zapdos (LTR)||2x Skyla|
|2x Jynx (FFI)||2x Colress|
|2x Mewtwo-EX||2x Lysandre|
|1x Jirachi-EX||1x Computer Search|
|3x VS Seeker|
|2x Battle Compressor|
|4x Ultra Ball|
|3x Manectric Spirit Link|
|3x Max Potion|
|1x Escape Rope|
|1x Champions Festival|
- 3 Zapdos
This card is the perfect counter for Donphan and for good reason. Resistance to Fighting, is a non-EX (preventing damage from Fighting Stadium and Silver Bangle) and the ability to snipe 50 damage to the bench. I have won many games with Zapdos, sniping off damaged Pokemon, and the second attack isn’t bad either.
- 2 Jynx
Jynx provides healing support for your attackers, and can turn a 2HKO into a 3HKO or sometimes 4HKO.
- 1 Jirachi-EX
Jirachi-EX is an amazing consistency card, and although it has the downside of being an easy 2 Prizes for your opponent, it also turns Ultra Balls into a free Supporter and a lower chance to dead draw early game. Jirachi is usually left alone on the Bench, as there are more threats and KOing it provides the opponent no board advantage.
- 2 Battle Compressor
This card allows Energy into the discard pile to be attached back with M Manectric and thins your deck of useless cards later in the game. The synergy is there to be abused!
- 1 Champion’s Festival
This is your main stadium and I’d actually like to add more. It is a counter to popular stadiums such as Virbank City Gym and Fighting Stadium, but provides additional healing with Jynx. Since you’ll usually play 2 Jynx and a couple of other attackers, it’s not hard to get 5 Benched Pokemon out.
Card Change Ideas:
- 2 Hard Charm over an Ultra Ball and Battle Compressor
This allows you to be bulky, and can be played on Zapdos to deny all damage from Donphan. A fourth Ultra Ball is unnecessary and 1 Battle Compressor is enough to get 2-3 Energies in the discard.
- 2nd Champion’s Festival
A second Champion’s Festival can help you in the Stadium war, but also can deny Shadow Circle and Virbank City Gym when you need it.
- Muscle Band
I kept missing that 20 extra damage for a KO on Outrage Dragons, so Muscle Bands can be teched in to increase the total damage output of your attackers.
Round 1 vs Tait Tran (Plasma)
Game 1 was a very close game, with him starting with a Thundurus and setting up 3 Deoxys to my Mewtwo-EX and Manectric-EX. I dropped a Zapdos and passed. He powered his Kyurem to set up for a Blizzard Burn, and dealing damage to Mewtwo with Raiden Knuckle. I attached a DCE to Mewtwo and attacked with X Ball several times while attaching Energy to Manectric. Eventually, I got the Spirit Link and M Manectric, which I switched, to knock out his Thundurus. I attached the Energy on my Zapdos. With Kyurem dealing only 150 damage with Blizzard Burn, he used Frost Spear to chip damage on my M Manectric-EX and Mewtwo-EX. Turbo Bolt only deals 110, which is 20 short, I decided to switch to Zapdos and attach a DCE for Thundering Hurricane for 3 heads, which is 150 damage! He managed to get a Thundurus-EX out and knocking my Zapdos with Raiden Knuckle, whilst powering another attacker. Eventually I managed to win through M Manectric’s high HP and constant Energy acceleration.
Game 2 was in my favour, as he drew no Supporter for almost 4 turns. I finished the game in a few minutes, but we had a good laugh as he used Lysandre’s Trump Card to shuffle in 2 cards and VS Seeker again the next turn.
Round 2 vs Nathan Shearman (Yveltal/Garbodor)
I decided to tie with him because he’s a really good friend of mine, after contemplating for a while. People may say this is a bad thing when it’s this early, and that’s fine, but it puts both of us in a favourable advantage with no loss and a higher resistance later in the tournament. This tie really paid off, as I will explain later.
We went off to watch other games and had lunch.
Round 3 vs Michael Perrin (Donphan)
Game 1 started off with him setting up a Donphan and placing down Kyurem. I knew I had to try and use Manectric to a minimum and focus on attacking with Zapdos. I sniped his Phanpy for 50, and the following turn, used Overrun. I thought that was a KO, but it turns out Phanpy has 80 HP! It could’ve been a game loss for me, if I didn’t know that, but he was kind enough to tell that to me before I took my prize. I attacked the Kyurem with Random Spark for 50, and followed with a M Manectric’s Turbo Bolt for the KO. I Lysandre his Phanpy when he placed it down, and VS Seeker to secure my win.
Game 2 went with him going first and getting 2 Phanpy up. I had a lousy start, but could only attach to Manectric. He evolved both Phanpy to Donphan and attached an Energy to hit for about 120. I get out a Mewtwo and a Zapdos, then attacked with X Ball for 40 on the Kyurem. I subsequently attached a Lightning and DCE on a Zapdos in two turns, while he dealt 80 damage on Mewtwo, heal for 20 with Jynx and 80 damage again. I attached a Lightning to Zapdos and Lysandre up the benched Donphan with 4 Energy for a KO with X Ball. I had 2 powered up Zapdos, while he had a Zekrom, several Sigilyphs, Robo Subs and 1 Donphan.
He Lysandre’d my Manectric with 120 damage for the KO, with him having 2 Prizes left to my 4. He dealt only 20 damage to my Zapdos, but I healed with Jynx, nullifying all the damage. I continued to use Random Spark, which eventually KO’d the Donphan. He sent out the Zekrom, which can KO my Zapdos if I hit 50 on it. I decided to snipe his Sigilyphs, while he dealt 40 damage to my Zapdos with Outrage. I was very nervous at this point, as I had a DCE prized and all other Lightning Energy was discarded. I played down the Mewtwo, and I KO the last Sigilyph to get a DCE from my Prizes. He got my Zapdos to 100, which would get KO’d next turn even I healed it. However, he made a misplay I spotted immediately. He got a VS Seeker with Korrina but did not use it to get Lysandre. He got a Juniper instead the next turn. He knocked out my Zapdos, and I used X Ball for 80 damage. He scooped because he didn’t have any more Basic Pokemon.
Round 4 vs Alex Jones (VirGen)
I don’t really remember much details in this round, except putting pressure using Turbo Bolt. There were fears of the G Booster and Deoxys combo to KO M Manectric, but luckily for me, he prized one or the other in both games.
Before the last round:
At this point, the standings were as follows for the contenders of top 4:
There were a few confirmed players in top 4. However, with the tie earlier, it helped Nathan have a chance at a top 4, which was what I wanted. If I had won against him, a loss would have removed him from top 4. It was the same for me, but with the tie, we can afford a loss going into rounds 3-5. This means we won’t have as much pressure as the people who need a win every single round.
We were paired against juniors, because they have battled each other in rounds 1-4. The obvious choice for me and Brent (who were the only top 2 paired to juniors) was to ID with them. Nathan versed Alex, which ended a win for the former, while Theodore had a very hard matchup against Michael; Manectric/Water vs Donphan. We knew Theo was an outstanding player, and we were sure he was going to win.
The top cut consists purely of the Senior Scrublords team; and top 4 was as follows:
Theodore vs Brent
Me vs Nathan
I was fairly confident I was going to win against a very favourable matchup. Game 1 started with a lone Zapdos to his lone Seismitoad-EX. He used Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City, attached a DCE and passed. I ended up drawing nothing and passing, with him KOing the Zapdos with Quaking Punch and poison.
Game 2 involved a double Jirachi-EX start, but it was a very close game. I tried to power up Zapdos, but a perfectly-timed Evil Ball KO’d it. Unfortunately, 2 of my Max Potions were prized, so I ended up using a Skyla for an Item that I didn’t need and I knew I was out of the running for City Champion.
Brent ended up winning the event with Donphan, so congratulations to him!
I loved the consistency of the deck, and thought I did a very good job with it, especially since I tested it for an hour the night before. I opted on using another rogue deck for the Sydney Cities, as I believed people will use a Manectric deck, due to my success, OR a Fighting deck to counter me.
Chatswood and Burwood Cities
I ended up choosing a deck I extensively tested; LandoBats. It has an amazing matchup against Manectric and Donphan decks (two decks I expect for Sydney Cities), and has favourable matchups all across the board. This is the list I used, the Card Analysis and matchups:
|Pokemon (18)||Trainers (33)||Energy (9)|
|3x Landorus-EX||4x Professor Juniper||5x Fighting Energy|
|2x Hawlucha||4x N||4x Strong Energy|
|4x Zubat (Free Flight)||3x Korrina|
|4x Golbat (PFO)||2x Colress|
|3x Crobat (PFO)||2x Lysandre|
|1x Lucario-EX||1x AZ|
|1x Jirachi-EX||1x Xerosic|
|1x Computer Search|
|3x VS Seeker|
|3x Ultra Ball|
|1x Startling Megaphone|
|3x Muscle Band|
|1x Escape Rope|
|3x Fighting Stadium|
- 2 Hawlucha
With the space in my deck, I’d say 2 Hawlucha is enough for the tournament. 3 is nice to have, but I can’t afford the room for it. This is golden against Seismitoad decks, which would otherwise become a very unfavourable matchup, and possibly against Bulky Yveltal decks.
- 4 Zubat (Free Flight)
The reason behind using the Free Flight Zubat, as to the 10 extra HP in Phantom Forces, is that free retreat is important in the early game. As there are times when you start with a lone Zubat, you have to get it out of the Active to attack. This would mean you have to waste resources to retreat it, if you are using the 50 HP Zubat. Even with the downside of 40 HP, it still survives a Laserbank combo, Oblivion Wing and Hammerhead. Although Manectric’s Overrun KO’s the 40 HP Zubat, they can easily attach a Muscle Band to KO the 50 HP version.
- 1 Lucario-EX
This is a nice alternative attacker to Yveltal-EX, as Landorus-EX is hindered by the Resistance, and Water Pokemon. It also provides late-game N insurance, allowing you to draw until 6, escaping the N to 1 syndrome. Personally I didn’t use Somersault Kick in any game, as the energy attachment was too costly.
- 1 Jirachi-EX
I like to play Jirachi-EX in almost all of my decks, but as I have explained it in the other deck analysis, I’ll explain the extra benefit in this deck. I run 1 AZ, allowing Jirachi-EX to return to my hand after it has done the deed. Since I run 2 1-of Supporters, Jirachi-EX can easily search it out to use at any time, with VS Seeker retrieving it from the discard.
- 1 AZ
This is the tech that can cover many utility positions. It gets back a full Crobat line, fully heals a damaged Pokemon and return Jirachi-EX to deny a 2 Prize liability or to be reused. 3 VS Seeker means you can Ultra Ball it or use Professor Juniper to get it to the discard, so you can use it later on.
- 1 Xerosic
Similar to AZ, this is another 1-of Supporter that is used only when you really need it. It allows you to remove a Flare Tool, especially Head Ringer, as it is devastating to your Landorus-EX and Lucario-EX. It also discards a DCE and a Hard Charm, when your Startling Megaphone is prized or discarded.
- Computer Search over Scoop Up Cyclone and Master Ball
I had wanted to run Scoop Up Cyclone to return a whole Crobat line, a damaged Landorus (without discarding Energy!) or Jirachi without using your Supporter (AZ) or risking with coin flips (Super Scoop Up). Master Ball was also another option, which can easily be searched with Korrina. However, my final choice was Computer Search, which can search out Strong Energies, a quick Supporter or a Fighting Stadium. The consistency of this card trumps the rest, but other options can be tested as well!
Manectric Variant (70-30)
It is extremely easy to get a double KO on 2 Manectrics, with 2 of the damage-boosters (Strong, Band or Fighting Stadium), which deals 140+30 and followed with a Lysandre for the KO. However, an early aggression can force an early N to 2, which is unbeneficial for your board position. By spreading damage, and Lysandre when needed will allow an easy win.
I have not lost a game against Donphan, because you can KO Phanpy extremely easily with 2 Hammerheads and a Golbat. The AZ allows you to heal Landorus, and you can attack with Crobat to get around Sigilyph and has Resistance to Fighting.
The benefit of their line-up being mostly EX’s allows easy prizes with Fighting Stadium and Hawlucha. Since they require a turn 2 Emerald Slash, by spreading damage early, you can easily snipe any damaged Pokemon later in the game. Virizion and Genesect has an awkward damage output against Landorus, with 50+100 (or 120 with Muscle Band). This prevents a KO, and they need to bench Deoxys for a KO, but this allows another EX prize to be shot down by a quick Land’s Judgment.
The downside of your Crobat having no use, you can still win this matchup with Lucario and Hawlucha. It is favourable for them by a tiny bit, but charging up a Lucario for Missile Jab and later, a Corkscrew Smash can win you games.
Bulky Yveltal (5-95 in Chatswood)(30-70 in Burwood)
In Chatswood, I misplayed very hard, but the lack of 3 Hawlucha lost me the game. Additionally, Xerosic didn’t help me, as it uses my Supporter for the turn. Center Lady is very crucial for Yveltal to survive, as I couldn’t keep up with the amount of healing in that deck. However, in Burwood, I knew my mistakes from Chatswood, and took out Xerosic for another Hawlucha. By spreading damage instead of focusing on 1 Yveltal-EX, weakens the use of Center Lady. Additionally, by playing Muscle Bands on your EX attackers immediately when they’re benched, prevents Head Ringer from being played entirely.
Instead of writing out matches, I will only write who I faced, but full coverage of top cut.
Round 1: Donphan WW
Round 2: Bulky Yveltal LL
Round 3: Yveltal/Zoroark WW
Round 4: MewTrick LWW
This landed me in 3rd seed with a 3-1 record, facing against Brent, my fellow teammate. Other top 4 players were Theo and Aaron.
He was playing Bulky Yveltal, whom I lost to in Round 2. It was an easy win for him, as I wasted resources to do very little against his Yveltal-EX. However, in Game 2, I managed to win a very close game by getting a double KO on his Yveltal-EX and Yveltal. Game 3 ended up with him using constant VS Seekers to use Pokemon Center Lady to deny snipe damage on his Bench Pokemon.
He ended up winning the tournament again, against Theo, and as we prepare for Burwood, I had thoughts about playing Aromatisse. Ultimately, I settled on LandoBats with the same list, but removing Xerosic and adding a 3rd Hawlucha, which would help my matchup against Bulky Yveltal.
Round 1: Donphan WW
Round 2: Yveltal/Zoroark WW
Round 3: Bulky Yveltal LWL
Round 4 vs Alex Jones (VirGen)
This is the one round in Swiss I wanted to talk about. It looks like a very unfavourable matchup in the early game, but by placing damage on the correct Pokemon, it will allow you to come back on top. Game 1 started with him trying to set up for an Emerald Slash. I managed to do 90 damage and 30 on his benched Genesect. He Megalo Cannon for 170 in total, which is 10 damage from KO my Landorus. Later, he had 3 Prizes to my 6, and I thought I was going to lose this game. But, by noticing Virizion was 60 damage from a KO, and Genesect was within KO range, I hoped for a Golbat and a Crobat with my Juniper. Luckily, I got the Golbat and an Ultra Ball, which earned me 4 Prizes. He made a mistake by attaching a Muscle Band, which prevented him from using G Booster if he had it. I used Land’s Judgment to secure the game.
Top cut for Burwood was as follows
Declan and Theo on 2-0-2, Tiat and I was on 3-1. It was quite funny how I was the only Sydney player to the Canberra team.
Theo and I were the only two people who top cutted all 3 Cities we went to, and we faced each other in one of the most intense back-and-forth game. I had my Landorus-EX against his 2 Manectrics. I attached a Strong Energy and a Muscle Band, and proceeded to do 140+30 damage. However, the next move costed me the game. I placed down a Zubat and Hawlucha, and decided to Lysandre his Manectric to get a double KO. He N’d me to a hand of 2, and KO’d my Landorus. I drew into a Hawlucha and a Switch, but without any Energies or Supporters, I couldn’t win. I learnt not to be overly aggressive, especially in the first two turns.
Game 2 started similarly, where I quickly got a KO on his Manectric-EX. This time, he tried to set up a Turbo Bolt so he can power up his Plasma Kyurem on the Bench. I continued to focus on KOing whatever Manectric he had a Spirit Link on, and eventually, I KO’d enough Manectric-EXs to take 6 Prizes.
Game 3 managed to allow him to set up a M Manectric-EX and Turbo Bolted onto his Benched Kyurem. I Startling Megaphone away a Spirit Link on his Bench and Float Stone on his Keldeo-EX. He couldn’t do much against me, so he put up a Suicune. Unfortunately, this was where I made a huge misplay. I attacked with Crobat’s Skill Dive on the M Manectric-EX, hoping to whittle it down. I should’ve targeted the Keldeo so I can Lysandre rhe Benched Manectric-EX and used Hammerhead for a double KO. He managed to get a M Manectric and Kyurem in the same turn, and Turbo Bolted to it. I ran out of Energy, so I only had a Landorus. But he tried to bluff me, even though he had the game, so I VS Seeker for a N, and play it. Then, I used Hammerhead on his M Manectric to go down to 1 Prize. He managed to draw an Energy and topdecked a VS Seeker for the win. Good job, it was very close!
Final Final Thoughts:
Even though I only managed to top 4 each Cities, before tumbling down, it was worth the experience and meet up with friends I don’t normally see on a weekly basis. I also met some new friends through these Cities events, so shout out to them! I managed to catch up on the CP with the rest of my friends, and I am so excited to have the chance to go to more events in the future (I’m looking at you, Regionals and Nationals)! So I hope you learned a thing or two from this article, and that these rogue decks can dominate in the right meta. See you all soon!
Thanks to the following people:
- Jonah Tuineau, for providing the cards and play-testing with me all weekend.
- Scott Howard, for being the best card-supplier!
- Brent, Nathan and the rest of Team Scrublords for being the best Seniors team in Australia.
- My parents for letting me attend these events!
- And everyone who has supported me throughout the cities run.