Alright, everyone, we have finally had a tournament with Lost Thunder being legal and it has had the impact that I believed it would so far. We have also started League Cups and Challenges for the second quarter of the season and if you are going for your invite this year they are going to be very important for getting it. I am just going to talk a little bit about what happened in Brazil and why I feel like the format is extremely healthy right now. Although Zoroark-GX control dominated the tournament I do not believe that it is as broken a deck as it ended up being last year before Celestial Storm came out and that is because there are very strong decks that can counter the deck very easily.

Zoroark-GX ended up winning that tournament because people were trying to do all sorts of different things with their decks and ended up forgetting about the Zoroark-GX control strategy. Decks that popped up like Granbull, Blacephalon-GX, and Decidueye-GX saw a lot of success and popularity in Brazil and control is the type of deck that takes advantage of those decks. We did not see very much of the decks that use to be good and keep Zoroark-GX in check like VikaRay because of that it was able to run rampant and win the tournament. The reason I think that this is a healthy format for Pokémon right now is that the decks people use will have to change to adapt to Zoroark-GX control. This is a very common thing in other games like Magic where if a control deck wins and a lot of people are playing it then it is time for people to start playing more aggressive decks to beat that deck. Ultimately this turns into people strategizing over what the best counter deck to run is. I think that we will see a lot of people bringing out decks like VikaRay again to beat Zoroark-GX control and that will make the deck underperform. The Zoroark-GX control deck that won Brazil is also not as dominant as the tournament made it out to be as there are cards that can be played in your deck to help beat that match up. Faba and Girafarig are a couple that do a lot of good work against that deck. There are tools in the format that make the deck only good for very specific tournaments and a large international right after the set came out was a perfect tournament for Zoroark-GX control to win.

Now after talking a little bit about how I feel that Brazil ended the way it did, I am going to talk a little bit about what I believe is the best deck to play for Roanoke and the deck that I went undefeated with at my League Cup last weekend. I started out in the morning planning on playing whatever deck seemed to be doing the best at Brazil and just taking my chances that it was a good deck. Every deck, however, all had the same thing in common – they all lost to this one deck and I decided that I should just play the deck that beat all those other decks. This deck was unbelievably consistent, and it dominated all the other decks that I went up against. That deck is Metagross-GX.

This is a deck that has always been decent, but it never really dominated the format and the only time it did very well was when it placed second at a Regionals, and even then the pilot of the deck talked about how bad it was. I think that the format has finally changed, and enough cards have finally come out to make it a top tier deck and I will talk a little bit about why in this article.

Alolan Ninetales-GX

This is probably the best card in the deck and the reason that the consistency went through the roof. We saw in Brazil the power of a card like this in stage 2 decks thanks to how well Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX did. They were able to use Beacon turn one to get the Pokémon that they needed and then were able to evolve into Alolan Ninetales-GX and get the Rare Candies that they needed in order to get their Decidueye-GX out turn two, along with a Zoroark-GX or two. We use the same strategy but instead of stopping at Decidueye-GX and Zoroark-GX we are able to consistently get out as many Metagross-GX as we possibly can. That is just an example of the early uses for Alolan Ninetales-GX. Later in the game, you still want to have an Alolan Vulpix out most of the time because there are times when you want to use your second Alolan Ninetales-GX and get yourself a Max Potion or a Choice Band towards the end of the game to take the last couple of prizes.

There were a couple other drafts of this deck where I played a Fairy Energy in order to use Alolan Ninetales-GX’s GX attack to help against Blacephalon-GX but it just was never worth it because I could not search it and I also could not get it back later in the game. I decided that using Alolan Ninetales-GX just as a consistency card was a better way of winning more games. The reason I play the 3-2 line of Alolan Ninetales-GX is that Alolan Vulpix is the best starter in the deck and when you get to Beacon you usually win the game if you are allowed to keep the cards. There were a lot of times in the tournament where I was unable to Beacon but I still won, but when I could use it the games were not even close and they really did not stand a chance of beating me. The only weakness of playing Alolan Ninetales-GX is that it is weak to other metal type Pokémon which lucky for us is not a big deal. We do have an answer to that – Solgaleo-GX which I will talk about next.

Solgaleo-GX

This long-awaited promo is finally out after being revealed for about a year now. It is not dominating like everyone thought it would be a year ago, but this is the perfect deck to use a powerful card like this. Every single word on this card is used multiple times in a tournament because of how powerful it is. Let’s talk about the ability to get rid of all your Pokémon’s weakness. This is huge if we ever play against another Metagross-GX deck or someone else playing Solgaleo-GX because they will not be able to take free prizes on our Alolan Ninetales-GX without getting rid of Solgaleo-GX first. The main deck that we are worried about however is Blacephalon-GX because of our fire weakness it is really hard for us to win when they only have to discard three energies to get the knockout. The advantage though is if we get this Solgaleo-GX out then we force them to discard five energies just to take a knockout and when they must do that it is very hard for them to do that every turn. I will talk a little bit more about the match up later though. The next attack that is on Solgaleo-GX is Turbo Bolt which has always been one of my favorite attacks ever since I played Mega Manectric-EX back in the day. What makes this attack so good is that it still two shots just about everything in the format and although getting back energies is not the strongest thing in our deck it does help. It makes it so if you attach the energies to a Metagross-GX then you only need one or two other Metagross-GX out to charge it up. If the Dhelmise is in play, which it very easily can be for specific match ups, Turbo Bolt hits the magic 130 number and 110 against Tapu Koko which are very important right now in this format. The main reason turbo bolt is so good though is because it attacks for two energies which makes it so Metagross-GX decks can attack a turn earlier than they use to be able to. There were many games where my turn two was getting out one Metagross-GX and the Solgaleo GX and attacking with Turbo Bolt to start applying a two-shot pressure while I continue to set up. You only need one Metagross-GX out and one energy in your hand to be able to Max Potion loop and keep your Solgaleo alive during this time. The last attack that is amazing on this card, and one I used quite a bit during the tournament against all the spread decks, was Prominence GX. For the most part you want to make sure that you are using Algorithm GX against a lot of the decks in the field but against any sort of heavy spread deck you need to try as hard as you can to not Algorithm GX and just save your GX attack for Prominence GX. I easily healed over 2,000 damage during the tournament last weekend just with this card not even counting what was removed by Max Potion. It is all about timing and when to use it. Having that additional tool is so strong especially because Metagross-GX used to love using Tapu Lele-GX’s Tapu Cure GX attack to heal two extra Metagross-GX, but that usually ended up with Tapu Lele-GX being knocked out and giving up two prizes anyways. Now we have a card that is just all around amazing for the deck. This card also has 250 HP which makes it the perfect bulky card for a Max Potion, two hit-KO deck that we are playing.

Professor Elm’s Lecture

This card was something that a buddy of mine and I debated a little bit with, and he ended up not playing as many copies as me. This is the all-star of the deck and even though we are playing a very heavy count of them without any way to discard them other than Ultra Ball it is completely worth it. Using this card on the first turn is amazing and I want to have it in my opening hand every time. Normally I have a way to get it because of Tapu Lele-GX or Ultra Ball. During the event I got a turn two Metagross-GX and nothing else, so I used Algorithm GX and one of the cards I got was a Professor Elm’s Lecture which is still powerful even on turn three. We are playing a deck that all you must do is set up and you will end up winning very easily providing that you do not make any big misplays. This card does get a little bit weird depending on which Pokémon you start or which Pokémon you need for the matchup. You need to prioritize Alolan Vulpix because of the utility it brings to the deck but there were many times when I did not get a Cosmog because the matchup did not need it or that I only got one Beldum because getting our two Alolan Vulpix was more important for what I wanted to do. It is a very matchup dependent deck and because of that takes a pretty good amount of skill to play and practice is very important when it comes to making the right decision. Professor Elm’s Lecture was the last of the new cards that made this deck so now we will talk about some of the other choices that I have included here.

Dhelmise

This is a Pokémon that made its way into the deck and then got taken out and then put back in because you need to have the correct format to play a card like this. If it does not help numbers in your meta or in the format, then there is no reason to play it. Right now is not one of those times, however. It is a very important card in this deck because of the numbers it adds. It makes it so Solgaleo-GX is hitting the all-important 130 damage against cards like Buzzwole or Naganadel. It also makes it so Metagross-GX can hit 160 damage against things like Swampert. With a Choice, Band Metagross-GX is now able to one shot Buzzwole-GX and Lapras-GX which are both cards that I think we will see a little bit more of soon. The last card that it buffs up is the card I will talk about next – SUM Solgaleo-GX. Dhelmise makes it so Solgaleo-GX attacks for 240 damage, the perfect number for knocking out Decidueye-GX, which we have found to be a very popular deck and one that I think will be played everywhere. Dhelmise might not always be in the deck but right now it seems like one that we want to have in here based upon how the format is shaping up.

Solgaleo GX (Sun and Moon)

When I played Metagross-GX last format before Lost Thunder came out I absolutely hated this card in the deck. It never really did anything, and it was always way too slow to work. You had to have multiple Metagross-GX out and the Solgaleo-GX, and in the matches, you wanted it in it was just way too slow to do that. Now though thanks to all the tools we have it is much easier to get a set up properly on turn 3 or even turn 2 of the game. This card is the MVP against any sort of Zoroark-GX deck that you might come across. Having the ability to just knock out any Zoroark-GX with one attack is huge it makes it so there is no need to play inconsistent supporters Professor Kukui. We are also already playing Cosmog because of how good the other Solgaleo-GX is so it just makes sense to throw in the Solgaleo-GX that is a built-in Switch every signal turn because of Ultra Road and also one that helps us win the mirror match and any Zoroark-GX variant that we might go up against. There were times when my opponent tried to Guzma stall something and I just used a Rare Candy to evolve into Solgaleo to take advantage of Ultra Road and ended up winning the game because of it. Thanks to Dhelmise and Choice Band it also makes it so we have a favorable matchup against Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX because we can just one shot everything they have. I was on the fence about this card when I was building this deck for my tournament, but my friend told me that I should just put it in because I did not have any other cards I wanted to put into the deck and I do not regret it at all.

4 Max Potion

I originally only had three copies of this card in the deck because I was trying to make space for other cards and moving it up to four was the best decision. I would never take one of these out in a million years. This card is used in just about every matchup this format and is needed to make this deck work. We are in an interesting format where decks are not hitting very hard unless they are GX decks and we are one of those GX decks, but we are lucky enough that no matter how hard they hit us it still is not 250 damage unless it is a card like Blacephalon-GX or Rayquaza-GX that can get their damage that high. This card is very useful in making sure that we are never even getting two hit-KOd and if we are drawing poorly then maybe we get KOd after three attacks, but hopefully, our Pokémon just never get knocked out. This card is also amazing against any sort of spread deck that is trying to put as much damage on the field as possible. Wiping off over 100 damage when they’re doing everything they can just to keep that damage on the field makes it a very hard match up for them to ever win. This card is why Metagross-GX is the right Pokémon to play with Alolan Ninetales-GX because the negative effect that Max Potion has does not affect Metagross-GX when we want to retreat and charge up a new Metagross-GX anyways. For those of you who do not know, usually you will attack with a Metagross-GX and then when your opponent attacks our Metagross-GX we are unable to attack during our next turn. The way we get around that is by retreating Metagross-GX by discarding all three of our energies attached to it and then bringing up a new Metagross-GX without any damage and use Geotech three times to reattach the energies to Metagross-GX. We can now Max Potion the bench Metagross-GX and not have to discard any energies because we always discarded them by retreating. It makes it so we never lose any of our precious Pokémon during the game.

1 Psychic Energy

This has always been a staple in Metagross-GX because there is never a downside to playing this card. Every attacker in the deck needs at least one colorless energy to attack which Psychic will always fulfill that role and it can be brought back with Geotech System which makes it so there is only upside to playing this card. Some of that upside being that you can use Tapu Cure GX if your Prominence GX Solgaleo is prized or quickly got knocked out during the game. It also means you can attack with Dhelmise and use Anchor Shot. This attack may not seem very strong at first but against Buzzwole decks it knocks out a Baby Buzzwole and with a Choice Band knocks out a Buzzwole-GX which is not exactly what Buzzwole-GX players want to happen. There are also times that you can lock a Pokémon active. Usually, they have a Guzma to get around Dhelmise’s attack but on the off chance they do not then they will have to just accept their fate. If Metagross-GX could get a Fairy energy back with his ability it would definitely be switched to that but for now having the one Psychic is very powerful in the deck.

There really are not any cards that I could see changing in this deck at all. I love the list and felt like it was extremely optimal, especially for the tournament I was playing in. There is one thing that is a weakness for that deck and that is that we do not play any stadiums or Field Blowers. This is something that concerned me because of how many Shrine of Punishment decks are running around and I played against four Shrine of Punishment decks during the League Cup. During the tournament, I found out that it is not necessary to have any sort of stadium disruption because of how many healing cards we use to stop them from getting enough damage on the field. The only stadium card that ever crossed my mind as being the most optimal in the deck would be Champion’s Festival. Which is a stadium that I do not think has ever seen any sort of play since it came out which is because spread has never been extremely dominant. However, in a deck like this if you are only worried about other people spreading against you then it can really swing matchups into your favor. Like I said though I think that we already have such a favorable matchup that there aren’t many reasons to play it.

Matchups

Zoroark-GX Control (Favorable)

I figured that this would be a good place to start because it is the deck that just won the Latin American Internats (and also the deck that people want to see get banned!). Like I mentioned earlier, I believe that the deck was really only good for that tournament and I do not think that we will see much more of it being played moving forward. Metagross-GX is one of the decks that beats Zoroark-GX Control pretty easily. They never get rid of our energies because we have Metagross-GX’s ability and because of that we are constantly putting pressure on them. It gets to a point when we are just knocking out their Oranguru every single turn and they cannot keep up. Which means they have to go the route where they try to knockout all of our stuff earlier in the game. Which also does not work because then we just get Solgaleo-GX from SUM out and start OHKOing all of their Zoroark-GX. The only reason Zoroark-GX can beat a deck like Malamar is because it can knock out all of the Malamar easily before they get set up. That is not the case for use because we have 250 HP and play four Max Potion. It could get a little tricky if they play Girafarig because now we need to be a little bit more careful that they will not get rid of all of our energies from the discard pile. Having Ultra Road is very important for this because it will make it so we never actually have to discard our energies and eventually they will have to keep getting back energies and Girafarig with Oranguru which is too much for their deck to handle. This match is definitely one you want to play against in Roanoke or any tournament you have coming up.

Granbull (Favorable)

This is the deck that I originally said if I went to Brazil I would have played because the deck is just extremely strong and beats all GX decks other than select few. This is a deck that a lot of people in my area play and I, unfortunately, did not get to play against any at my League Cup, but it was still there. This is an extremely good match for us because we trade too effectively for them and are too consistent and fast for them to keep up. Either they are never attacking on the first turn and sometimes they are not able to attack on the second turn. In the event that they can, however, all they usually get to do is knock out an Alolan Vulpix. To win we just need to get off an Algorithm GX and set up. They do not play any disruption and because of that, there is no way for them to prevent us from getting fully set up. When we are knocking out whichever Pokémon we want every single turn and they cannot return knock us out they are going to have too much trouble searching for all of their pieces every turn especially if we target down the Magcargo which is the strategy you normally want to take against a deck like this. We need to just make sure that we are using our Max Potions effectively and are controlling the damage Shrine of Punishment is doing.

Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark-GX (Favorable)

I personally love the idea of this deck and if I did not think Metagross-GX was the best deck in the format would probably start trying to play this one. However, we have a very favorable match up against this deck. They are using the same strategy we are, but they have way less heal than us and they do not have any way to one shot us. We also having the bonus of being a little more consistent thanks to our Algorithm GX. They do not usually play any disruption cards and we will get to keep all of the cards we get. This is one of the matchups that unless I have a Rare Candy Metagross-GX in my hand I will make sure to grab two Alolan Vulpix with my Elm’s on turn one because I want the Alolan Ninetales-GX on turn two every single time. The unfortunate thing for their deck is most the time they have to play down a Tapu Lele-GX in order to get their Professor Elm’s Lecture turn one which is a free two prizes for us later in the game with just a Metagross-GX and Choice Band, and then they also have to evolve into an Alolan Ninetales-GX because without it the deck is not very consistent at all. Thanks to Alolan Ninetales-GX weakness to metal it is essentially another free two prizes for us to take. Now we just must figure out how to take the last two prizes and this can be done a couple different ways. The first and easiest way is to just get Solgaleo-GX out and knockout a Zoroark-GX with it, but if they are successful in knocking out all our Cosmog (which is what they should try to do) then we have to take the two-shot approach. This does get a little tricky because they play Acerola and Max Potion, but we also play Max Potion and it is just a battle of attrition to see who has more of them. Usually, however, we will win because we have more ways to heal our Pokémon than they do.

Blacephalon-GX (Even)

I know you might think I am crazy because I do not just say this is an unfavorable matchup, but I genuinely think that it is a very close match. Blacephalon-GX is one of the only decks that can one shot all of our Metagross-GX but it is a huge cost in doing so. The issue is our weakness, so we must prioritize getting out our Solgaleo-GX to get rid of that weakness. You want to make sure to get both Cosmog out and at least two Beldum as soon as possible. The second Cosmog is a little bit lower of a priority than both Beldum but they will all be needed. This is the time when you really want to be able to Turbo Strike with a Dhelmise on the bench turn two to knock out a Naganadel or put some pressure onto the first Blacephalon-GX. I learned that if Blacephalon-GX does not get a very good set up the power level of the deck is very low. As long as you make it through the Beast Ring turn. Which brings me to the next point. You want to target down the Naganadel if you can because then when they Beast Ring and knock out your attacker if you get the return knockout on their Blacephalon-GX then they no longer have any way to get their energy back because you will be at two prizes. If Blacephalon-GX does not win before their opponent takes four prizes, then their chances of losing the game go up a lot. We must make sure that we go as fast as possible to win consistently. I would not want to play against this deck very often, but I would still feel confident that it is not an auto loss like some might think.

Spread (Favorable)

This is the last deck that I will talk about because I feel like it is the least popular deck and everything else is a little bit of a rogue deck. When I talk about spread I am talking about any deck that runs Tapu Koko and Counter Energies. These are the decks that are very strong right now but thankfully not against us. You do have to play a little bit smarter against them though. Usually turn one I will only Elm’s if I really need to or if I do not have to play down Tapu Lele-GX. Tapu Lele-GX is not something we want to be on the board in this matchup, but we cannot hurt our set up too much and have to play it if we need to. We do not, however, have to play all the Pokémon down. I usually want to just have one Cosmog one Vulpix and one Beldum out on the first turn against them because they will be trying to Flying Flip us. Then on the next turn I add another Beldum to the field to keep how many Pokémon they are attacking to a minimum. This is also a match that we can be a little bit slower on because they really are not that consistent. They also do not just one shot our basics even though we are not doing anything. Which is super beneficial for us because now we do not have to use Algorithm GX and instead can slowly set up usually by turn three and then we save our GX attack for Prominence. Most Spread decks have a way to finish off the game whether it is Passimian, Honchcrow, Tapu Lele, or something else and those are the cards that we want to target down before they are a problem. We really do not care about how much damage is ticking up on our field if you make sure it does not get too high you will be fine. I focus down their big payoff attackers and keep knocking them out which they are using Flying Flip. They might be getting a lot of damage on the field, but they have nothing to do with it. Then when I take three or four prizes like that and am starting to get over 120 damage on all of my Pokémon it is when I take a turn off to use Prominence GX and get rid of all the damage they have been working so hard to get. After that it is a race to see if they can knockout three 250 HP Pokémon before I can knockout three 110 HP Pokémon. Save as many Max Potions as you can to make sure that whatever attacker you are attacking with cannot be knocked out if they have their payoff attacker and a counter energy and then you will easily beat them.

I believe that Metagross-GX is the truly broken deck right now and that it should be played for Roanoke. You will have a very high chance of winning the tournament because of the sheer power that this deck holds. I wish I decided to go to Roanoke or even Brazil sooner because then I would have been able to play this deck before it got too popular. The deck is not too hard to figure out as long as you can figure out which times are best to use all of your abilities and which cards you want in each matchup. Other than that the strategy is pretty straightforward and if you play a few games against other decks and see for yourself how good this deck is you will have no problem winning any tournament you are planning on playing in. GX decks do not keep up with us because we are bigger than most of them thanks to having 250 HP and can one-shot them easily thanks to Solgaleo-GX, and non GX decks cannot keep up with the four Max Potions and the Prominence GX that we play to mitigate their damage to just about nothing while we are taking prizes every turn.

As always thank you for supporting me and I love meeting all of you at tournaments when you come up to me so please keep doing that. I hope that you enjoyed this article and it gets you a little bit closer to that Worlds invite that we are all striving so hard to get.

-Drew