Hiroshima City League Champion: VikaRay (SM1-SM9)

Please find the original Japanese-language article here. Note my translation is not a perfect translation and I have rearranged and reworded some parts of the original article for clarity and readability. Find also some explanatory comments inside square brackets, italicised.

Greetings. I am Rakou (@_krko). I have played since Roaring Skies was released. While I am still relatively new to the game, I managed to take home the win at the Hiroshima City League with a great deal of luck.

I will be discussing my Rayquaza Vikavolt deck which I used to perform well at the City League and the Champions League Niigata. When you read my article, please keep in mind that I am still an inexperienced player.

Why I chose VikaRay

レックウザGX クワガノン

Pokémon (16)
Trainers (30)
Energy (14)
3 Rayquaza GX
3 Grubbin
3 Vikavolt
1 Shaymin Prism Star
1 Tapu Koko Prism Star
1 Zeraora GX
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Marshadow
1 Dhelmise
4 Ultra Ball
2 Mysterious Treasure
1 Nest ball
4 Rare Candy
2 Energy Recycler
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Counter Catcher
2 Cynthia
1 Erika’s Hospitality
1 Lillie
3 Volkner
3 Guzma
2 Judge
1 Wondrous Labyrinth Prism Star
2 Lysandre Labs
7 Grass Energy
7 Lightning Energy

VikaRay has been a deck that I have been longing to play ever since we entered the Sun and Moon onward format, but I could never find an opportunity to play it due to the popularity of Lost March. 

This deck is easy to play and it hits hard. Since I am not very good at playing, and I often take a long time to finish my games, I chose this deck as most games would have a low number of turns and I could implement the same strategy against most matchups. I think it is an easy-to-use deck that beginners and Juniors could pick up.

Strengths

Using just Tapu Koko Prism Star and Vikavolt, it is possible to get out 4 Energies in one turn. Once you reach the required damage output for the matchup, it is easy to maintain and you can continually knock out GXs. There is also a high probability of setting up Vikavolt due to Volkner and Tempest GX.

In comparison to other Rayquaza GX decks

アーゴヨンゼラオラGXRRルミタン

Other Rayquaza variants include Rayquaza Zeraora, Rayquaza Naganadal, and Rayquaza Battle Chatelaine and each has its individual advantages and disadvantages. I ultimately chose the Vikavolt variant due to its speed and the power it exerts when fully set up. However, I was a little worried about it being a Stage 2 deck and running Rare Candy.  

Naganadal

Unlike VikaRay, RayNaga struggles much more with hitting 180-210 turn 2, while having a much larger bench. However, it is less luck dependent and I like that it keeps Energy in the deck. Having the option to Turning Point is also a plus. While you can’t use Charging Up unless Energy is in the discard, maintaining Energy and minimising risk is easier than with the VikaRay variant.

Zeraora GX

Zeraora adds the option of using Full Voltage and using Shuckle to discard Energies, which can make it difficult to constrict your bench. Regardless, you must Full Voltage on turn 2, giving your opponent an extra turn to start taking Prize Cards – this is a weak variant.

Battle Chatelaine

Battle Chatelaine is a strong variant – it can start dealing 300 damage in one turn. I think in fact it is better to choose to go second with this variant, regardless of whether you win or lose the coin flip.

My reading of the City League Hiroshima Metagame

There was only one week between the Champions League Niigata and the City League. For the City League, I was worried about Lycanroc Zoroark, Ultra Necrozma and Zapdos Jirachi. I wasn’t particularly focussed on Tag Team decks as I thought they would be difficult to assemble in time, though I did do a bit of testing against Wailord & Magikarp and Pikachu & Zekrom decks.

I was also conscious of Blacephalon decks. The deck is slightly favoured over Lycanroc Zoroark and with its Stadiums and its damage potential it can deal with Tag Team GXs. So I thought Blacephalon numbers would increase slightly.

Being a City League held in Hiroshima, I didn’t have an accurate grasp of the meta and its players. I thought my best bet would be picking a safe deck, so I chose VikaRay.

The Actual Meta

In the qualifying rounds [i.e. rounds before top cut], I played against Lycanroc Zoroark, Blacephalon and Ultra Necrozma, and with a lot of luck I managed to make the finals. The decks that did well are posted on the website of the Card Box Fukuyama Store: http://www.cardbox.sc/shop/5004/blog?id=39125. There weren’t really many Ultra Necrozma or Blacephalon decks, so Tag Team decks rose to the top. Team Torchic and other Chiba players achieved results in other City Leagues using Pikachu & Zekrom and Celebi & Venusaur – I should have also considered these decks.

Playing VikaRay

Going First

Often I will start with Lillie, Cynthia or Volkner and I will aim to set up a Vikavolt next turn. In the next turn, if I can’t set up a Vikavolt, most of the time I will promote Rayquaza and use Tempest. Depending on my opponent’s deck, however, I may use Tapu Koko Prism’s Dance of the Ancients and go for a turn 2 attack.

Going Second

I will aim to place down Grubbins and get a turn 2 Tempest GX off. Ideally, I will get down two Grubbins, Judge, then Tempest. If you can get this off, your opponent will likely fall behind and struggle to take Prize Cards. Later, use Tapu Koko Prism Star to increase your damage output and knock out three GXs while disrupting your opponent using Judge.

Matchups

Lycanroc Zoroark

I want to keep my bench small to limit the attacking power of Weavile and Lycanroc. However, if you are in a position where you can deal 210 damage and take the lead in the Prize trade, it may be worth overbenching. Sometimes you will promote a GX and then Judge, and then hope to Guzma twice afterwards, likely killing Zoroarks/Tapu Leles. Wondrous Labyrinth also has the potential to buy you a turn.

Zapdos Jirachi

If you can, you don’t want to get more than two GXs out in a game. Ideally, you will Judge your opponent in the same turn you knock out a Jirachi. You want to use your Vikavolt to attack with Dhelmise, Shaymin and Tapu Koko. You can make things harder for your opponent by playing down Lysandre Labs or Wonder Labyrinth.

Blacephalon

The person who takes the first prize wins. If you can use Counter Catcher after their Turning Point turn to knock out a Blacephalon with Energy attached, you will be in a favourable position.

Card Choices

3 Rayquaza GX

レックウザGXRR

When this deck starts Rayquaza, it is considerably easier to carry out the deck’s strategy. However, I run three copies over four as non-GX attackers are stronger against decks like Zapdos Jirachi.

Dhelmise

ダダリン

It is a non-GX attacker and it is great for taking a return knock out on Lycanroc GX. The day before the tournament, when I was practicing, I was told to play the card and so I put it in. Although I put it in on a whim, it was really strong. It is a good card to change the pace of matchups and is also a great card against Jirachi Zapdos. 

Counter Catcher

カウンターキャッチャー

This card is good against Blacephalon after they have used Turning Point, or for knocking out a Magikarp & Wailord that has accumulated lots of Energy with Shaymin. It is also searchable by Volkner.

Cards that Missed the Cut

Net Ball

ネットボール

This card allows Volkner to search for a Grubbin or a Grass Energy. However, the Pokemon it can search for are very limited (Shaymin, Dhelmise and Grubbin) so I opted not to run this card.

2 Nest Ball

ネストボール

I was conflicted on running either two Mysterious Treasure or two Nest Ball. I chose to run Mysterious Treasure to increase my outs to benching Rayquaza and Tapu Lele from hand. After I used Tempest, there were many times where I wanted to set up another Vikavolt but was unable to search for the Grubbin, so even now I am still conflicted on which card to run. If you asked me now, I think I would run the two Nest Balls over the two Mysterious Treasure.

Conclusion

From now on, Tag Team decks will be gaining popularity, with attention focussing on Gardevoir GX and Pikachu & Zekrom and how to defeat these decks. I’m looking forward to seeing what kinds of decks will be used in the City Leagues in January.
I would like to thank PokemonCardJouhouMatome (@pokecamatomeru) for publishing my article, all of the opponents I faced against, all the judges, and everyone at the card shop. Thanks to you also, for taking the time to read my work.

Please find the original Japanese-language article here. 

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