A Last Minute Look Towards the POG Championships
Hey Flipside readers! Andrew here with a new article and this time we are going to be taking a break from discussing post-rotation format to actually look at the pre-rotation format! Why pre-rotation? Well, as it turns out, in lieu of the World Champions happening, a few members of the Pokemon TCG community have organized one last send off tournament taking place this weekend called the POG Championships. This tournament is free to enter and open to everyone who can play online. The format of choice is UPR - DAA which is the format currently available on PTCGO. Aside from the previous world championships where TPCi decided to rotate early, we usually see a large format like this at the end of the season and this is going to give us a unique look at this potentially lost format.
I have been testing for this tournament and wanted to share several deck considerations for anyone looking for a last minute play or wanted to get a general idea of what decks the format has to offer. I have grouped the decks into three different categories: Something new, something proven, and something risky. There are a lot of different decks you can play at the moment so I did my best to appeal to all different play styles. So without further exclamation, let’s get into the article!
An overview of UPR-DAA
The metagame at large
I would say a major strength of this format is the variety of viable decks available to the player. I think all season we have seen this come and go, but there is a “balanced” enough card pool that many different archetypes have great options and there is enough diversity to not make the tier one decks particularly polarizing. Of course ADP Zacian is still a very strong BDIF contender, but there are decks that can rival it in one way or another so there is some balance. Overall, every deck has some bad match ups, but there are enough solid decks that it is not so much of a rock-paper-scissors format. Really, many decks feel at least to be even with each other which is great compared to the polarizing metas we have had in the past this season. I would say this will be an interesting format to play as well as observe and hopefully there are a lot of great games to come from it.
What did Darkness Ablaze bring to the format?
If you read my set review that I posted a month ago, you know by now that this set brought many new and powerful cards to the format. For this format in particular, Darkness Ablaze brought in a plethora of new decks, a few of which are actually tier 1-2 contenders. It also gave us more viable VMAX decks, so we are beginning to see a more VMAX centric format which I honestly feel is great for the game. Pretty much every deck got more consistency cards from this set with the addition of Crobat V and Turbo Patch. Overall this set really enhances the format and gives the player more options in terms of deck building and decks to consider playing.
As I previously mentioned, Darkness Ablaze brought in a few new solid decks to the format. Decks in this category are brand new to the format, but have already seen a considerable amount of success in Japan or in other online tournaments.
About The List
Vikavolt V would be my pick if I wanted to play something new in this format. The cards are relatively easy to acquire and Vikavolt V in particular is insanely better pre-rotation with access to Thunder Mountain and Electro Power.
This list is the same one that Blake Pennington used to get 7th place in the Sunday Open this past weekend and I stand by his list. The main strategy we want to be utilizing is using Mareep’s “Sleepy Pillow” ability to put our opponent’s Pokemon asleep and then pivot into Vikavolt to item lock our opponent with its “Paralyzing Bolt” attack. We also can use the Slumbering Forest stadium to force our opponent into flipping two heads to wake up from asleep. This strategy effectively keeps our opponent’s Pokemon stuck in the active and allows us to chip away at them each turn while preventing them from playing any switch cards. Vikavolt V’s second attack is great for taking larger knockouts, especially combined with the added damage output from Electropower. Raichu & Alolan Raichu Tag Team GX is also a great clean up pokemon with the damage output it’s GX attack has as well being able to paralyze pokemon with its first attack. I find this deck to be refreshing in terms of having a different play style than the other decks in the format and I can safely recommend it to anyone looking to play a deck from the new set that is easy to build and fun to play.
Eternatus VMAX is hands down the most hyped deck to come out of the new set. To be fair it is strong, although not as strong as people were first thinking it would be. It does hold up well in this format and is a solid tier 1 deck nevertheless. This deck essentially takes advantage of any deck that is utilizing Tag Team Pokemon or frequent two prize bench sitters because it can KO most non-VMAX pokemon efficiently. It also utilizes a Crobat draw engine out of necessity for its ability to work, but that does allow the deck to be aggressive and turn through the deck quickly. The biggest downside to this deck at the moment is that you are going to have to trade an arm and a leg to get all the pieces for the deck. Crobat Vs are one of the most coveted, and over priced, cards in the online market at the moment so you will need to have a lot of codes in order to get four of them as well as the VMAX line. However, the deck is great and will most likely see a great deal of play in this tournament.
I previously wrote about Centiskorch in post rotation, and I think this card is really solid before rotation as well. I would not utilize a Green’s engine for this format and instead would opt for a more standard build with Crobats and Dedenne, but the premise of this deck is still to load up your Centiskorch VMAX and out tank your opponent’s pokemon. This deck seems to be performing decently well in the few online tournaments that have already happened and I think this could be a great sleeper pick for the tournament. You are able to handle most VMAX decks with how bulky you are coupled with your damage output. ADP can also have a hard time dealing with a loaded up Centiskorch VMAX and you also have an option for dealing with Zamazenta V. The only reason I am not choosing to play it is simply lack of time to spend with it in the pre-rotation format, however it seems like it would be a good call for the tournament.
One of the best things about a format this large is that most decks that were viable before have stayed more so in the same tier, with a few exceptions. If you have played at all in the previous format or even in the past year, you probably have some of these decks already. Any deck in this format has some consistent results in the past and is still continuing to perform in the current format. I would play any of these decks if I wanted something safe or easy to pick up.
About the List
ADP Zacian basically encompasses this category, and for good reason. It has shown time and time again that its strategy is powerful and consistent. Really, the only major card you would need to add to improve older ADP lists is one copy of Crobat V because the deck by and large has remained unchanged. Something that is a bit different about builds in this format is that they are more focused on pulling off a turn 1 Alter Creation GX attack given how much more achievable that is with the added draw from Crobat V. Something I have been testing is putting Mawile GX back in the deck to pray off your opponent’s Crobats and Dedenees. I also really like this card as two energy beat stick into Eternatus VMAX because it can reach up to 260 if they fill their bench. Zamazenta V is a great counter to any VMAX deck as well and has only grown stronger as more VMAXs have entered the format. There is not much else to say on this deck that hasn’t already been said, but this is my safe pick for the tournament. If you haven’t had the time to test and want something that is simple yet effective, this is your best bet.
This deck is very similar to ADPZ where it has consistently been able to perform well over the past few formats. This deck probably gained the least in terms of new cards, but that has not stopped it from performing well. Le Bui was able to go 7-0 with this deck in one of the first online Darkness Ablaze tournaments with a list that featured no cards from the new set. That is indeed a strong testament to how powerful this deck is and it would be a great consideration for people who do not wish to trade for new cards right now but are still interested in playing in this tournament.
The deck’s strategy has stayed more or less the same over the past few formats. This deck preys off of three prize pokemon by being able to take huge knockouts with its fireball circus attack. Admittedly, the deck can be prone to brick at times, but it is still explosive, pun somewhat intended, and is very well positioned right now in the meta. You do need to be comfortable with your sequencing and know how to manage your energy with this deck so I would recommend testing quite a few games with it or at least watching streams of top players who have piloted the deck to get the idea.
I cannot remember a time where PikaRom hasn’t been viable since it’s release over a year and a half ago. Granted, I will have a much different opinion on this deck after rotation hits, but for now it is still a top tier contender. The deck has not changed significantly since the last format, but it did gain Vikavolt V as a secondary attacker as well as a way to improve some of its matchup spread. Overall the deck still plays similarly to how it has always been played, full blitz as early as you can and go from there. The main benefit to this deck is that if you have played PikaRom at all in the past year then you could most likely pick it back up fairly quickly. If you are someone who is looking for a comfort pick, PikaRom would be a great choice.
The meta has shifted around with the addition of decks like Eternatus VMAX. This does potentially leave openings for certain decks to come out of left field and take advantage of an unprepared meta. Decks in this category are intended for players who want to play something under the radar that could make a splash at the tournament if the meta is right. However, each deck is taking a gamble on what the meta will pan out to be so there is some added risk to each of these choices.
About the list
Mewtwo Malmar was fairly strong before Dragapult VMAX entered the format. The main reason being how effective using TrevNoir’s “Night Watch” attack was in conjunction with Marnie. That was a few formats ago, how does the deck hold up now? In my opinion, it can compete with the other tier one decks. I had not considered this deck to be viable in this format until I saw this deck get top 8 in both the PokeX Tag Bolt and the Sunday Open this past weekend by Kyle Imperial. Since then I have been testing this deck online and have found that you can maneuver your way through most match ups with either an early Horror House GX into Night Watch or by using tech attackers like Rhyperior to run through certain match ups. I will say that you are vulnerable to your own consistency which is why I consider playing this deck to be a risk. This deck does also struggle with Dragpult VMAX but the deck has been on decline with the addition of Eternatus VMAX. If you can dodge any stray Dragapults and avoid bricking then I would think this deck could be a good pick if you want something off meta.
Dragapult VMAX was a very dominant deck last format but has been written off heavily since the release of Eternatus VMAX. Admittedly, it is a terrible match up for the deck to gain, but Dragapult’s other matchups, especially between the other tier one decks, is still great so there is still value to playing this deck. Dragapult did not gain much card wise, but it has potentially gained new positive match ups if people start playing decks that were previously gate kept by this deck in the previous format. The real risk you run into with this deck is how many dark decks you will hit during day 1. If you are willing to risk it, I think this deck can still hold its own in the meta.
Control was very dominant before Dragapult VMAX entered the meta. Since then, the deck has fallen out of favor. However, there might be an opening with significantly less Dragapult in the field. Vikavolt V could hold the deck back some with its item lock, but the matchup spread between the other highly ranked decks is still favorable. The best-of-one format on day one might be a limiting factor as well, but we did see control decks take a decent share of the day 2 meta in the limitless qualifiers so I would say the potential is there. With the banning of Bellaba and Brycen Man, this might be the last we see of control for a while so if you want to give the deck one more go then this is your chance. I would say the risk in playing this deck varies on your experience because the deck can be overly punishing if you misplay. However, if you are looking for a deck with an alternate win condition then this is your best choice.
That about wraps up this overview for the upcoming POG championships. We didn’t cover every deck that is out there, but this should have hopefully provided a good overview to what decks might show up. In the end, this tournament is free and not as serious as the World Championships would be so if you are truly stuck on trying to find a deck, I would just play something you are comfortable piloting. I also would bear in mind that every deck loses to something in this format so do not stress out if you lose to X deck if your other matchups are fine… unless that match up is ADPZ then I would say do not play the deck.
All else aside, I hope you found this article informative and I look forward to competing in the POG championships this weekend. If you want to keep up with how I am doing in the tournament and what deck I ultimately land on, follow me on Twitter at @TheSkyPillar.
As always, be sure to check out FlipSideGaming.com for all your Darkness Ablaze singles and product needs and be on the lookout for new Pokemon articles! Thank you so much for reading and I will catch you all next time!
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