Bom dia! My name is Jeremy Jallen and the time has come: the first International Championship in Sao Paulo, Brazil is upon us. It brings us our first major tournament with Lost Thunder and I expect it to be an exciting tournament to watch live! I’m so excited to be invited back to Brazil, as the last Internationals was one of the best times I’ve had at an event. In my preparation for the tournament I’ve tried quite a few things with Lost Thunder, hoping to get a feel for the format and I’ve learned a few things throughout all this, notably that this set is massive and that it’s almost impossible to test every deck in the format. There are a good handful of cards that seem interesting to me and these were the ones I focused on. I feel it is fine to let the others in my testing circle try and hammer down good, consistent lists of popular and hyped meta decks. This means I’ve avoided decks like Lost March, Blacephalon, Zoroark/Lycanroc, and Buzzwole/Ninetales. Instead, my focus is on the few cards that have potential but might have been overlooked. Throughout this article, I’ll be talking about how the meta as a whole has been shaping up, and a hidden gem in Lost Thunder.
With the new set drastically changing the format the likes of which we haven’t seen since Guardians Rising, trying to prepare for a tournament this important is a daunting task. I’m going to try and talk a little bit about each of the decks that I think will be represented in Brazil this weekend:
This is the deck probably getting the most hype from the different people that I have talked with. It’s a fast and consistent deck that actually hits numbers pretty well. This is probably the best deck to utilize Heat Factory to its fullest potential, which is great because the card, in general, is insane. The deck also digs back a few sets to play Ultra Space. Ultra Space is one of those cards that you could tell was amazing from the beginning, but it was outclassed by Brooklet Hill in most decks that would play it. It fits amazingly in this deck, helping it run smoothly without the need of heavy Pokemon search. The general idea is to discard energy during set up to then bring back with Naganadel to pitch for extra damage with Blacephalon GX. Beast Ring is probably the biggest card to look out for when paired up against a deck like this as it is essentially 100 damage out of nowhere. Some weaknesses I see for the deck are its limited damage output in a longer game, as well possible opposing techs specific for the matchup (like Sceptile). You either have to be an aggressive deck that can take knockouts on benched Naganadel to limit the damage output they can present on non-Beast Ring turns, or present high HP non-GX Pokemon that can apply enough pressure on the Blacephalon GX to race. I would probably expect to play against a couple of these throughout the tournament.
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX
This deck makes a huge comeback thanks to cards like Professor Elm’s Lecture and Ditto Prism. The inherent consistency of Zoroark GX is once again brought to the forefront thanks to its supporting role players. Ditto Prism is probably the best card to come out of Lost Thunder, essentially providing Stage 1 decks with an extra Basic for each of their evolutions. This allows Zoroark GX decks to utilize extra Stage 1 lines without decreasing consistency. Cards that could see a good pairing would be things like: Magcargo, Alolan Muk, Alolan Ninetales GX, Weavile, etc. It opens up Zoroark GX as a deck where they can have these surprise pairings and makes it harder to play around. I guess one good thing about Zoroark being as dominant as it has for so long is that it’s pretty obvious what the few weak points are in the deck’s armor. With Buzzwole GX making a comeback due to its hyped pairing with Alolan Ninetales GX, it could pose trouble for the resurging fighting weak GX. Both decks got more consistent, so it really will be reliant on how the meta swings in regards to people’s decks of choice. Zoroark does well against most of its match ups and is a huge reason why it has been a favorite among top players.
Buzzwole GX/Alolan Ninetales GX
This is one of the stronger decks in recent memory that also benefits hugely from the new Alolan Ninetales GX. Brooklet Hill proves its worth yet again in making this deck a pain to play against but now with the added effect of allowing you to set up a “Mysterious Guidance” for insane Beast Ring plays. If your deck cannot play around Beast Ring or Buzzwole’s Sledgehammer you’re in for a rough time. While the deck isn’t as obnoxious as is was before thanks to Strong Energy rotating out of Standard, people underestimate the power of Buzzwole GX’s spread from Jet Punch. It applies a lot of pressure early, especially against these decks playing 60 HP Basics again for Professor Elm’s Lecture. I’d expect to see quite a few of these decks during the tournament, but its success depends on Malamar’s popularity, since that is a big hurdle to overcome for Buzzwole.
There are two versions of this deck going around so far from what I’ve seen. One is a rehash of the popular variant using Marshadow GX with a slew of tech psychic Pokemon. Giratina is a perfect fit for a deck like that; a card that can be discarded early to reward super aggressive plays as well as being a recurring attacker that actually hits 130 damage (the common base HP for most popular Pokemon). This could prove to be the better of the two, with its known track record and versatility in its Pokemon selection throughout the game. The downside is that it’s a proven concept and definitely something that everyone has tested with, and more importantly against in preparation for this tournament. The second version focuses more on the spread aspect of Giratina’s Ability and introduces fellow Lost Thunder standout, Spell Tag. The deck focuses on maximum consistency with a full four copies of Ultra Ball and Mysterious Treasure to fuel “Distortion Door” and “Psychic Recharge.” Marshadow is one of the many MVPs of the deck as a whole, with the ability to disrupt your opponent on crucial turns of the game with “Let Loose.” Using Giratina as your main attacker opens you up to some awkwardness in deciding where to put the 40 damage from its attack; because of this, you have a weak matchup versus things like spread and other aggressive decks. One of the biggest advantages I think this deck has, in either version, is the resilience of Giratina, as well as its fighting resistance (helping against cards like Lycanroc GX and Buzzwole GX). I expect this to be one of the more dominant decks in terms of numbers at Latin American Internationals.
Thanks for reading the free portion of this article! The rest of the article can be viewed by Elite PC members only. Click on the Ultra Ball below to catch this article and become an Elite PC Member today!