What’s up guys, my name is Darin O’Meara. You may or may not have seen my name before so for some background, I’m a Pokemon player originally out of Cleveland, Ohio currently residing in Boston, Massachusetts for college. Outside of Pokemon I play Rocket League for my school, Weiss Schwarz competitively and write for Esports publications.

Over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Melbourne, Australia for the 2019 Oceania International Championships. I finished at a solid 21st place, but it was bittersweet after being first seed going into Day 2. I wanted to write about my deck choice, the tournament, as well as Psychic Malamar going forward. Of course, being the only Psychic Malamar player in Day 2 may make it seem like there are better options, but I believe the deck is still very viable.

Pre-OCIC

I managed to squeak into North America’s Top 16 during the first quarter by a margin of less than ten points after a very solid Top 8 finish in the Nashville Open, alongside some Regional Day 2’s, although I almost blew it after skipping a League Cup to go to Weiss Schwarz Nationals. Regardless, I was excited to be among those who would represent America in Australia, and even more excited to travel out of North America for the first time, on TPCi’s dime no less.
I left on Sunday the 10th on a 22-hour journey with little direction as to what deck to play. I had narrowed my options down to Celebi/Venusaur, Emolga Lost March, Pikachu/Zekrom, Psychic Malamar, Psychic Malamar w/Double Colorless, and Passimian/Koko. After arriving in Melbourne on the 12th and exploring during the 13th, I finally sat down in my Airbnb and grinded some games online. I quickly ruled out Celebi/Venusaur and Emolga March, as the former was too meta-dependent and the latter just wasn’t consistent enough for my tastes. Soon after, I ruled out Pikachu/Zekrom and Passimian, as I personally couldn’t figure out a good enough list for PikaRom and Passimian wasn’t consistent enough to me either. That left me with two Malamar variants, and I decided to go with the more consistent, sans-Double Colorless build I had concocted.
The only testing I did with any of these decks were PTCGO ladder grinding, since I didn’t really have a testing partner in Oceania and it was the best I could do. In spite of this, it yielded great results. Psychic Malamar never dead drew for me online, and I was set up by turn two in most of my games. After buying some cards, borrowing others, and buying three Lost Thunder packs to try and get the Giratina I needed (which I pulled), I sleeved the deck up, played two games against one of my roommates, Andy Gray and submitted the list. Here is the list I played for OCIC, which I piloted to a 7-0-2 Day 1 run, eventually finishing 8-3-3.

Pokemon: 19
Trainers: 31
Energy:10
4x Inkay FLI 50
4x Cynthia
10x Psychic Energy
4x Malamar FLI 51
4x Lillie

2x Marshadow-GX BUS 80
4x Guzma

2x Jirachi TEU 99

1x Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
4x Mysterious Treasure

1x Marshadow SHL 45
4x Ultra Ball

1x Chimecho CRI 43
4x Escape Board

1x Giratina LOT 97
3x Acro Bike

1x Necrozma-GX BUS 63
2x Rescue Stretcher

1x Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX UPR 63
1x Friend Ball

1x Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53
1x Nest Ball

Card Choices

2 Marshadow GX

I went with two Marshadow GX so I could really demolish the PikaRom and ZoroRoc matchups. I expected the “big three” going into the event to be PikaRom, ZoroRoc, and Ultra Necrozma so I wanted to have as much coverage against the Fighting-weak decks as possible. Marshadow GX does very nicely, and can occasionally steamroll these matchups if combined with Dawn Wings Necrozma GX’s “Moon’s Eclipse GX” attack.

Chimecho CIN

Chimecho serves a dual-purpose. Firstly, it makes the ZoroRoc matchup possible. Against ZoroRoc, you have to “Bell of Silence” until you can take out their Muk pre-evolution, whether it be Ditto or Grimer, or else things can hit the fan fast. Chimecho buys you time to find the right pieces to remove the threat. In addition, if you go second it can halt your opponent’s turn one setup, letting you get your board up first.

Gengar and Mimikyu GX

This card is absolutely bonkers. One thing this deck felt it lacked was a two energy attacker, and Gengar and Mimikyu GX fills that hole very well. You’ll often find yourself in a situation where you can’t get three Energy onto a Necrozma GX, so allowing Gengar to swing or having Marshadow GX copy it is fantastic in a pinch. In addition, its “Horror House GX” attack can seal games, ensuring donks when your opponent starts only one Pokemon, and steal games out of nowhere. “Poltergeist and Pray” is a viable strategy, especially when you ask your opponent how many cards they have in hand and they respond with “ten.”

Friend Ball

Friend Ball is a free search in nearly every matchup. Against ZoroRoc it can get you Inkay and Malamar if they put a Lele down. Against Ultra Necrozma it can get virtually anything due to shared typing, meanwhile, against Zapdos it can get you Jirachi. In the PikaRom matchup it can get you Jirachi or a Psychic Pokemon if they have tp put down a Lele or Marshadow. All around just a great card to have.

No Ultra Necrozma

I didn’t play Ultra Necrozma simply because I felt PikaRom and ZoroRoc would be way more prevalent in the meta than Malamar would be going in. I felt that the pure Psychic Malamar was more consistent and could beat PikaRom and ZoroRoc far more consistently with the addition of 2 Marshadow GX. I was wrong–Malamar was everywhere–but Psychic Malamar still handled the job well. I wouldn’t be opposed to the Rukan-style one Ultra Necrozma and one Metal Energy though, and I see merit in it.

No Viridian Forest

This deck doesn’t need Viridian Forest. You play ten Psychic Energy and shouldn’t have issues finding them (emphasis on shouldn’t, I’ll get to that later) and no Stadium is relevant enough for you to need to bump it. Even if your opponent plays down Thunder Mountain you still one-shot their Pokemon. If they put down Wondrous Labyrinth you can reload an extra Energy or use Gengar’s attack for one less Energy. Overall, it just isn’t needed.

The Tournament

Round 1 vs. Chris Schreurs (AU) – No Show (1-0)

My Round 1 opponent didn’t show up–guess he just collected the swag and bolted. Whatever, I only need to go 5-2-1 to make Day 2.

Round 2 vs. Matthew Bray (AU) – ZoroRoc (WW) (2-0)

Game 1 he managed to get Muk down despite my best efforts to remove it, therefore my Marshadows weren’t options. I did manage to take some knockouts with Necrozma and Giratina, but eventually I was left with two prizes to his one with the ability to only get two Energy onto a Pokemon. I asked how many cards he had in hand, which was over ten, so I grabbed Gengar and Mimikyu GX, used Guzma to bring up Lycanroc GX, and announced “Poltergeist” for what ended up being well over 300 damage to win out of nowhere.

Game 2 I eliminated Muk and took a commanding lead. At the end, we had a bit of a miscommunication revolving around a “Bloodthirsty Eyes” into Judge play, which I thought was a double-Supporter but clearly wasn’t. He announced that he scooped, thinking he had double-Supported as well, but then remembered the gust effect was Lycanroc, not Guzma after starting to clear his board. We tried to return our prizes and continue play, but a judge stopped us and told us the game could not continue. We played out our hands to see what would happen and I would’ve taken the win off of a Cynthia next turn anyway, but I still felt really bad. He was understanding luckily, and I apologized a million times. Great guy, and if you’re reading this, sorry again!

Round 3 vs. Nicolas Galaz (CL) – PikaRom (LWW) (3-0)

I don’t have much memory of this series other than he set up better than me in Game 1 and took a fast lead. Games 2 and 3 went as expected though, with Marshadows taking numerous multi-prize knockouts on Pikachu and Zekrom GXs as well as Zeraora GXs.

Round 4 vs. Joseph Tran (AU) – ZoroRoc (WW) (4-0)

Game 1 was a lot like my second round’s Game 2, where I took out the Muk option and took a great lead from there, having answers to anything he put down. In Game 2, I looked like I had nothing, once again asked my opponent how many cards were in hand, then used “Poltergeist” into a ten-plus card hand for game.

Round 5 vs. James Williams (AU) – Pikarom (WLW) (5-0)

Games 1 and 2 went mostly as expected, with James starting better than me in Game 2 and starting too far ahead for me to respond. Game 1 was the result of taking several multi-prize knockouts with Marshadow GX, while an early game “Let Loose” in Game 3 knocked him out of the game from the start. Great for me, unfortunate for him.

Round 6 vs. Stephane Ivanoff (FR) – ZoroRoc/Lucario (LWT) (5-0-1)

Stephane never played down a Riolu. His turn one setups were absolutely insane, and he completely outsped me in Game 1. In Game 2, I managed to set up quickly myself, even taking out his Ditto on turn two to prevent the Muk. Any response Stephane had was returned by a Marshadow GX, and his last turn effort to Wondrous Labyrinth me resulted in a three-Energy “Poltergeist” for game. In Game 3, I used “Bell of Silence” for about seven turns, never finding the pieces to remove Ditto from the board. Eventually, he Guzma’d my Chimecho away and I couldn’t put it Active again, so he was able to set up his board, establish Muk, and also remove my powered up Giratina from the board. Right after this time was called, and I sighed a sigh of relief knowing I easily would’ve been rolled that game.

Round 7 vs. Robin Schulz (DE) – Zapdos/Jirachi/UBs (LWW) (6-0-1)

In Game 1 he took a two-prize lead–a death sentence in the Zapdos matchup. I scooped when he was down to two, as there wasn’t a reliable way for me to come back. I don’t remember much about Game 2, but I was eventually able to take a prize lead. In Game 3 I was ahead on prizes and was playing extremely fast because of it to try and finish the game. It was because of this I made a near-fatal mistake: I promoted an unloaded Jirachi with an Escape Board on it instead of the Malamar with an Energy and Escape Board that I had on the Bench, completely forgetting about Absol on his bench. Because of this play, I was forced to bench Gengar as it was the only way for me to take a knockout. With his three cards in hand and five in deck, I misplayed again, choosing to use “Poltergeist” for knockout instead of using “Horror House GX” to force Robin to draw his deck out with no way to refresh it. Luckily for me, Robin prized his Tapu Koko GX and was unable to take out the Gengar, so I easily took my last prize after the slip-up. Very shaky, and a bit disappointed in myself for playing sloppily due to speeding up, but luck got me there, as is the way with Pokemon sometimes.

Round 8 vs. Alex Silva (BR) – Ultra Necrozma/Malamar (WLT) (6-0-2)

Ultra Necrozma finally found me; it was only a matter of time. They put us on backup stream, which was my first time dealing with the headphones and formality of it all. I hadn’t played this matchup much, and I was pretty unsure what to do but managed to take a lead in Game 1 with repeated Giratina knockouts while Alex couldn’t get enough damage in play to win with “Sky Scorching Light GX.” I won after he was forced to play down his Ultra Necrozma early, which I knocked out with a good ol’ “Poltergeist and Pray.” In Game 2, he was able to establish enough damage on two Malamars and a Marshadow to win. Time was called while we were shuffling up for Game 3 so we ended in a tie, something I happily took, given the matchup.

Round 9 vs. Azul Garcia Griego – Zapdos/Jirachi (WLW) (7-0-2)

After seeing my pairings, I was both excited and slightly daunted at the thought of playing my friend, Azul again. We hadn’t played against each other since he moved away from Boston, so it was a sort of throwback. In Game 1 I was able to stay one prize behind until he was forced to whiff a knockout on Giratina, enabling me to take the prize lead and keep it, since I have no troubles consistently getting attackers and returning knockouts. In Game 2 he set up way better than me and took too much of a lead, so I scooped early. Game 3 went much like Game 1, and I played very fast to ensure it would end when I went ahead on prizes (without the misplays this time).

First Seed heading into Day 2 at 7-0-2

Nothing made me more excited than looking at the standings sheet and seeing myself at first seed. I never thought I’d see the day where I was 7-0-2 going into Day 2 at an IC but here it was; this was my tournament to take. I was getting massive amounts of texts from my school’s Esports Club, which was cheering me on, my friends back in Ohio as well as my friends in Boston. I headed back to the room very happy and ready to take on the next day.

Unfortunately, Day 2 did not pan out how I had hoped. I had an absolute nightmare of a schedule, hitting three Ultra Necrozma and two Zapdos. While I consider Zapdos a 50/50 matchup, Ultra Necrozma is very unfavorable, and as such, I didn’t do too hot.

Round 10 vs. Alex Silva (BR) – Ultra Necrozma/Malamar (Streamed) (LL) (7-1-2)

My first round of Day 2, to no one’s surprise, was against Alex Silva once again, but this time on the main-stream. I started GXs both games and couldn’t take a lead because of it, so I got absolutely rolled, taking my first loss of the weekend. I let Game 1 play out as long as possible to try to squeeze out a tie by winning a similarly-timed Game 2, but starting Necrozma GX again was the killer.

Round 11 vs. Robin Schulz (DE) – Zapdos/Jirachi (WW) (8-1-2)

In Game 1, Robin accidentally drew too many off a “Let Loose” and got a double-prize loss penalty. After I went down to four prize cards left I was too far ahead in a matchup that already goes down to the last prize card, so he conceded. In Game 2, he didn’t get much of a setup at all, but still managed to keep finding knockouts. Eventually, he whiffed a knockout and I capitalized, taking first the prize lead and eventually the game.

Round 12 vs. Christian Hasbani (AU) – Ultra Necrozma/Malamar (LWT) (8-1-3)

I don’t remember much about these games, aside from that they were fairly standard. I got blown out by “Sky Scorching Light GX” in Game 1, cheesed my way into a Game 2 win somehow, and got the tie Game 3 by running out of time. Always happy to take a tie versus Ultra Necrozma.

Round 13 vs. Isaiah Williams (US) – Zapdos/Jirachi (LL) (8-2-3)

Going in, I was confident in my Zapdos matchup. I’d won against every one I’d played so far and was ready to take one here to ID into cut. Unfortunately, Isaiah took a two prize lead on me in Game 1 while I prized my only Giratina, so I scooped with four prize cards remaining. In Game 2, I started even worse, conceding four prizes before I could even respond. I scooped to give myself a breather before my last match.

Round 14 vs. Jordan Palmer (AU) – Ultra Necrozma/Malamar (LWL) (8-3-3)

In Game 1, he did fairly standard Ultra Necrozma things, taking a prize lead and setting up for a “Sky Scorching Light.” I knew I was going to lose nearly the entire time, but a tie would put me in Top 16, so I let it play out. In Game 2, I took an early lead but much to my dismay, he scooped early to ensure time for a Game 3.

Game 3 will go down as the worst game of Pokemon I have ever played. It was plagued with horrible luck and horrible misplays, and I will probably never forgive myself for its results. He went first, attached a Metal to Inkay and said simply passed. This is a situation where I know what to do. I Mysterious Treasure for Gengar and Mimikyu GX, ready to use its “Horror House GX” to prevent him from playing any more Basics, then Bench a Lele to thin my hand more before playing a Lillie for seven. NO ENERGY. Now I’m frustrated. I thin my hand even more, getting two Inkay down, then use Marshadow’s “Let Loose” to draw four more. NO ENERGY. I slammed my hand down and disdainfully said “pass.” Naturally, he immediately put down a Jirachi onto his Bench preventing the donk. Next turn, I top-deck a Psychic Energy, which only adds to my frustration. Here, I likely should not have used “Let Loose,” as his hand was already bad, and chances are he could quite possibly draw into something dead once again. Instead, I went for the Energy out of pure frustration and gave him an out back into the game. Later in the game, I wasted my last Guzma chasing a Malamar instead of holding it for later use to close out the game. I thought I had only two in my discard, but after playing it I discovered that I had miscounted. Another abysmal misplay made out of frustration. Had I had that last Guzma I would’ve been able to save it for taking my last prize, thereby winning the game. Finally, at the end of the game, I had two prize cards left. I took a knockout, knowing he would promote a two-prizer to try and stop me from knocking it out easily. One of my prizes is my Necrozma-GX, which is my only answer to an Ultra Necrozma GX. I take a deep breath, take the prize, and it’s an Acro Bike. My frustration reaches its peak, and I make the worst play of my entire Pokemon-playing career afterwards.

Time is called on his turn. He has four prizes remaining and uses Ultra Necrozma to take a knockout on my Giratina. Without Necrozma GX, I have no way to take a return knockout on it, and I had already used my GX attack earlier in the game. His out to win is to Acerola his damaged Giratina, pitch it with Viridian Forest, “Distortion Door” my two damaged Malamars twice, and use “Sky-Scorching Light GX” for three prizes on the Malamars and a Marshadow. I have no way to win, but one way to tie. If I promote a Malamar, he can’t “Distortion Door” onto it, and if he uses Guzma he can’t Acerola his second Giratina. His only out would be to promote his benched Lele to prevent me from winning on my turn three, in which case we’d tie, and I’d secure Top 16. I sit there for a while, bench Dawn Wings Necrozma and “Dark Flash” for 120. He plays Switch, goes into Jirachi and finds Acerola off the fifth card. I don’t know why I didn’t promote Malamar–I had the play in mind the entire time. I was simply blinded by frustration and made the wrong move.

If I had had my fourth Guzma, I could’ve used it to take my last prize to win, or if I promoted Malamar we would’ve tied. Instead, I took an L in a game I definitely shouldn’t have. Lessons learned I guess. No use crying over whiffed Psychic Energy.

Looking Back

Looking back, my run at OCIC was great. I was the only Psychic Malamar pilot in Day 2–first seed after Day 1 at that. I tested with absolutely no one, so getting a great placement with a deck completely my own felt great. I wouldn’t have changed a card for the event, and I was very happy with how the deck ran. I left Melbourne with two booster boxes of cards, $750 dollars, in addition to my stipend, the random winnings from the Weiss locals I got 2nd at, and enough Championship Points to secure my Worlds invite. I also got the experience of playing on the official stream for the first time, something I’ve always looked forward to doing. I’m still very much torn up about my round fourteen Game 3 loss, as it prevented me from making my great finish even better, but such is life, and we learn from our mistakes.

Moving Forward: Collinsville Regionals

I think this deck is still a great pick heading into this weekend’s Collinsville Regionals. I would make a couple changes to account for my expected Collinsville meta, but the core and concept stays the same. If I were attending Collinsville, here’s what I’d play:

Pokemon: 19
Trainers: 31
Energy:10
4x Inkay FLI 50
4x Cynthia
10x Psychic Energy
4x Malamar FLI 51
4x Lillie

2x Marshadow-GX BUS 80
4x Guzma

2x Jirachi TEU 99

1x Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
4x Mysterious Treasure

1x Marshadow SHL 45
4x Ultra Ball

1x Chimecho CRI 43
3x Escape Board

1x Giratina LOT 97
3x Acro Bike

1x Necrozma-GX BUS 63
2x Rescue Stretcher

1x Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53
1x Friend Ball

1x Absol TEU 88
1x Nest Ball

1x Tapu Koko SM31

Changes

-1 Escape Board +1 Tapu Koko

In matchups where you’re against Absol, a boarded Tapu Koko can act as your pivot. In matchups where you’re not against Absol, Koko can be attack utility, setting up numbers against Zoroark decks or other random things, as well as a free-Retreat pivot if you really need it. It’s mostly here for Absol, which I expect to be in almost every deck in Collinsville, but it has more benefits. I cut an Escape Board for it since its function against non-Absol decks is essentially the same as Escape Board, and finding one Board out of three in deck when you need it usually isn’t difficult.

-1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX +1 Absol TEU

To be honest, Dawn Wings’ usefulness was not insanely high at OCIC. Sure, it can put you far ahead against PikaRom and ZoroRoc if you can get it in the discard, but most of the time you can’t afford to use your search cards to find Dawn Wings to then use another search card to pitch it. Those search cards could be going to finding Malamar and Inkay, especially with how fast these decks come at you. Absol should be in every deck, and can shift the matchup against Zapdos more in your favor. I expect a lot of Zapdos to show up in Collinsville, and Absol has use in other matchups as well, so I would definitely include it.

Matchups

ZoroRoc

Against ZoroRoc, your first objective is to prevent the Muk turn two. Use “Bell of Silence” as long as it takes to kill the Ditto or Grimer, as they’ll be forced to respond with a Lycanroc or Zoroark after it goes down (in addition, try to “Distortion Door” ten onto any Rockruffs they get down to make Necrozma math better). Then you can respond accordingly, with the ability to take the lead. “Poltergeist” out of nowhere is especially useful against Zoroark decks, as they always keep a massive hand, so keep it in mind as a closer, but never Bench it before you’re about to take your last prizes.

Zapdos

I don’t care what people say, Zapdos was a 50/50 at OCIC and is better than that with the addition of Koko and Absol. Zapdos should, and most likely will take the prize lead initially. You are going to want to get down as many Inkay as possible turn one, as they will inevitably go after them. Hitting an attack with Giratina turn two is crucial, so do whatever it takes to get there. A Boarded Koko helps, as it means you don’t have to put an energy on your Active to Retreat. Absol helps and makes them whiff an attack more often, as it means they need to find more cards to reach knockouts. Both Koko and Absol help, so whichever you can manage to get down (or both) should help you in this matchup. When using “Shadow Impact,” put damage counters on things Zapdos can one-shot anyway, such as Marshadow or Jirachi. Eventually, they’ll have a turn where they can’t take a one-shot, and you can capitalize and take the prize lead. As long as you can keep looping Giratina, they can’t really come back. Also, don’t prize Giratina.

PikaRom

This is probably your best matchup. They’ll play Absol, so Koko should help you. Usually, they’ll use Zapdos to take some early prizes, so responding with Giratina on that can put them in an awkward spot where they have to “Full Blitz” into a one-prizer. Then you can get Marshadow GX down, power it up, and capitalize off the three-prize commitment. This should put you down to two prizes, which can easily be taken on a Zeraora or another Pikachu and Zekrom GX.

Ultra Necrozma

Ultra Necrozma is your hardest matchup by far. There is a ton of thinking to it and a lot of forward planning. First off, you are going to want to take your first knockout as soon as possible. If you don’t take the first prize, and your opponent’s board is setup to loop Giratinas, you have almost no way back into it. You’ll want to try and play around Giratina as much as possible, so taking knockouts on other things is ideal. If you bench a Marshadow SLG, try and get them to target it by using it to take out an Inkay. If they load damage on a Malamar, try and use it to knockout one of their Malamars. Basically just try and force them to remove your easy “Sky Scorching Light” targets before they can take a big turn off of them. You’ll have to be continually reading the situation, reading their prizes alongside how many they can take with their GX, and adjust. It’s hard but doable. Limit how much you play your 70HP Pokemon down if you can to limit the effectiveness of Ultra Necrozma. Absol helps this matchup in the early game as well, as it can make them whiff their turn two Giratina.

Closing Thoughts

This deck has the pieces to do well in my expected Collinsville meta. I expect to see a lot of Zapdos copycats running around due to the deck’s simplicity and one-prizer appeal (people love one-prizers, man). I expect a lot of PikaRom as well, since the deck is so fast and has so much pure power that it’s a safe play. I don’t expect to see nearly as much Ultra Necrozma, since none of them made Top 8 at OCIC (although one did bubble).

I can’t really complain about luck all that much–I faced only one Ultra Necrozma on Day 1 after all, and even cheesed a win in Day 1 off of blind luck. Psychic Malamar is strong and consistent, and I expect to see it surge up a bit more. I know I’ll be playing it for Cups and such, but will not be attending many regionals in the foreseeable future, unfortunately. However, I hope some of you can take this deck and run hot with it in Collinsville. Good luck!

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