City League Champion: Reshiram & Charizard

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.

Hi, I’m Take and I won the City League Sapporo that was held on the 3rd of March. My Twitter is @_twk__.

This time, I will be explaining the deck I used to win the City League.

This is my first time writing this kind of article, so please bear with me if if some parts are difficult to follow. I appreciate you taking the time to read this.

My article will be structured as below:

  1. Why I chose my deck
  2. How I created my deck
  3. Tournament report
  4. Reflection

Why I Chose My Deck

The City League Sapporo was held after the Chiba Champions League and was the first major tournament to have Double Blaze legal. Double Blaze introduced a strong Fire type Supporter card called Welder and a strong Fire type Pokemon card: Reshiram & Charizard GX.

Because of this, I predicted the meta would undergo a significant change: the winning deck from the Chiba Champions League, Pheromosa & Buzzwole, would likely see reduced play, as would Zapdos Jirachi. I also predicted that Tag Team decks would be on the rise. I wondered what kinds of decks would be able to achieve good results. I was of two minds, having a couple of different decks that I thought were viable.

1. Zapdos Jirachi

I became fond of this deck between the Niigata Champions League and the Chiba Champions League (between December and February). However, I got too used to using Jolteon GX, and I couldn’t play well at the Chiba Champions League because the play style of the Jolteon GX variant had ingrained itself into my body, like some kind of muscle memory. I thought about building and using the deck that came in the top 4 at the Chiba Champions League, however I missed Jolteon GX too much and gave up on this idea (the true reason is I didn’t have faith in being able to create winning board states without Jolteon GX). Moreover, it had been decided that the new Fire type Volcanion had been released. It had 120 HP and an attack that required two Fire Energy which hit for 110 damage: it was as if Zapdos’ natural enemy had been born from Double Blaze. I was certain that I would hit it at least once in the tournament, and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to win, so I decided against playing Zapdos Jirachi.

2. A deck which revolved around cards from Double Blaze

After I gave up on my first idea, I thought this would be my only option. Although Ultra Necrozma also crossed my mind, I thought, “there are going to be many players who can outskill me,” and “there are going to be many players with counters,” and decided that I couldn’t play the deck. Further, it hadn’t been that long since the card list for Double Blaze had been released, so even if there had been development regarding archetypes, I doubted that specific techs had been decided upon. I thought that if I learned the deck well enough I could play it as a one shot deck, so I decided to make a deck using Double Blaze cards.

How I Created My Deck

I wanted to use a deck that would be fun to play. But I still wanted to be able to win. Keeping this in mind, I came up with two options. The first was something along the lines of Landorous Marshadow & Machamp Mismagius Counter Box. No matter how many games I played, I couldn’t beat Giratina Malamar so I gave up on that idea quite quickly. I still think it has the potential to be interesting, and I will let you think about the strategy of the deck based on its name only. Then, please tell me what you think it is. I’m asking you to do this seriously!

My other idea was a deck that used Reshiram & Charizard GX. There were a lot of people thinking of using this, including my friends. You can get Fire attacks off quickly by using Welder and attaching multiple Energies in one go. I couldn’t think of a foolproof way to counter this, so I decided on Reshiram & Charizard.

However, from around here I became deeply troubled. What would I partner with Reshiram & Charizard GX? I could partner it with Salazzle and rely on draws. I could partner it with Flareon GX and take Prizes in a similar way to Pheromosa & Buzzwole. Alternatively, I could attack solely with Reshiram & Charizard GX. When the engine of the deck, Welder and Fire Crystal, were announced, I considered a Flareon GX variant and changed to this (even though the images were not available on the official site, I created a list which went from: Salazzle > the new Salazzle and Hau > Welder, Electrocharger > Fire Crystal.)

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My list changed from here onward (there might be some people who argue that I don’t have exactly sixty cards throughout this recount of changing my deck, but I definitely did adjust my deck accordingly - I just don’t have perfect memory). 


I included one Flareon GX line in my deck and three copies of Reshiram & Charizard GX. Max Potion and Reshiram & Charizard GX don’t have good synergy with each other, so I dropped a Max Potion for one Acerola.

I also thought Volcanion seemed incredibly strong, so I included two copies.Turning it over in my head, was Salazzle so important that I needed to include three lines of it? I decided to remove one line. After a while, I realised that there was no reason for me to attack with Victini in the last turn so I removed that as well. I felt I was lacking in draw Supporters, so I increased my count of Lillie to four.

I was speaking to my friend, ‘M’, and he made me aware of this problem: if you attack with Flare Strike once, won’t you be unable to attack again? I had to think of a way to switch in and out. I realised that Switch was a necessary card to include, however at this point for some reason I thought I needed to increase my counts of Guzma, so I included one extra. At the same time, I included Jirachi. Escape Board can be used by Salazzle (and Salandit) so it functioned well as a pivot card. Since I included Jirachi, there was less of a reason to keep PokeGear in, so I took that out. At this point, I began testing with proxies with my friend, ‘S’.

For some reason, I somehow left out Heat Factory Prism from my deck (maybe I thought there was no point in including it since I had Salazzle to achieve the same thing). My friend S used Flareon Turtonator, and I realised how strong Turtonator was. Even though it is a non-GX, with Flare Starter it can place Energy all over the board and by just having it on board it can threaten to knock out Reshiram & Charizard GX in one shot. So I decided to include one copy. I didn’t always want to use Flareon GX, and almost without realising it, I cut down to one line.

Here, I got my friend ‘U’ to play a Water deck, and I managed to set up faster than I thought my Reshiram & Charizard deck could. I figured that if I could set up first even though it was a Water deck I could still come out in front. 

The day before I played against my friend ‘D’ with Jirachi Zapdos and I regained confidence in my deck.

That night, I was talking with my friend M again and realised there was no point in running three Reshiram & Charizard GXs (even if one is Prized, it is fine to just use one), so I returned my Nest Ball count to four. The next day, my friend H played against me with Pikachu & Zekrom so I could get a feel for how the deck ran. After this, I realised there was no need to run three Salandits so I switched one out for Heat Factory Prism. I initially ran three Salandits so that if one were in the Prizes, I could still get two out in my first turn. However, I figured that since I already have Jirachi, there is no real need to always guarantee two Salandits out in the first turn. With this, my deck was completed.


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Tournament Report

I remember how I felt strongly throughout the day.

Round 1: Pikachu & Zekrom, First, Loss

I wasn’t able to set up a hand that would allow me to knock out Pikachu & Zekrom GX with a turn two Flare Strike. Even if on a later turn, I would have been happy if I could get a Let Loose Marshadow off. Even though I dealt 230 damage to a Pikachu & Zekrom GX, it managed to retreat and I was unable to find Guzma. My opponent used Acerola on it, and I was knocked out by Electropower + Electropower + Choice Band + Tag Bolt. As I had to bench three non-GXs to set up, I had lost at this point.

Round 2: Blastoise, First, Win

By my second turn, I could only get three Energy on board, so I was forced to Double Blaze GX a Squirtle even though I really didn’t want to. My opponent managed to set up a Blastoise GX from hand, and was also able to search for the non-GX Blastoise and evolve into it. My opponent used Power Squall but didn’t get enough Energies from it. After this, I knocked out a Tapu Lele GX with Flare Strike and used Flareon GX’s Bright Flame to knock out Alolan Ninetales GX and eventually won.

Round 3: Gardevoir & Sylveon, (can’t remember who went first), Win

I was unfortunately hit with a Let Loose in the early game. However, I was able to quickly attach Energies to Reshiram & Charizard GX and my opponent was unable to get a Gardevoir & Sylveon GX into the Active. I used Flare Strike and won. To be honest, I was very lucky as I drew a Stadium (my opponent had Wondrous Labyrinth Prism in play) and a Guzma off the Let Loose.

Round 4: Pheromosa & Buzzwole (can’t remember who went first), Win

The weakness makes the matchup very favourable. I won using Double Blaze GX and Feverish Explosion with Choice Band. My opponent did not play down Lusamine Prism, but it was quite early in the game so I thought it would be unlikely for them to draw into it.

Round 5: Jirachi Zapdos UB, Second, Win

My opponent played down Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX on the first turn, so I got Volcanion’s Flare Starter off and was able to use Feverish Explosion with Choice Band and quickly got ahead.

So, I had qualified for top cut.

I made it into cut because my opponent in round one had done well throughout the rest of the tournament.

Top 8: Reshiram & Charizard Flareon, First, Win

I don’t remember the specifics of the match, but my opponent was able to use Heat Stage to attach two Energy to both Reshiram & Charizard GX and Flareon GX. I wasn’t able to do much. My opponent didn’t seem to be able to knock out my Reshiram & Charizard GX, so he used Heat Stage again, knowing his Flareon GX would be knocked out in my next turn.

My opponent had set up a pretty solid board now. I returned my Reshiram & Charizard GX to hand with Acerola. I was desperate at this point and don’t remember much, but the game came down to the wire, where I had to use Rescue Stretcher to replenish my deck after I had gone to no cards left. Although I was almost going to give up in the early game, I am glad I persisted and closed it out.

Top 4: Pikachu & Zekrom (opponent from the first round), First, Win

Even though I managed to win scissors paper rock, I mulliganed three times. I knew my opponent’s deck so I wanted to die. However, my opponent didn’t seem to be able to get the Full Blitz turn one, so used Tapu Koko GX to hit into my Reshiram & Charizard GX. I promptly used Flare Strike, knocking out the Tapu Koko GX. My opponent wasn’t able to set up Energies from there on, and I continued to gain momentum and so I won.

Finals: LycanZoro, First, Win

I’m guessing my opponent deaddrew from the get go. My opponent burned a Switch to Lillie for three cards. I used Feverish Explosion to knock out Basics while setting up a board state where I could use Reshiram & Charizard GX. At the point where I had knocked out a GX with Reshiram & Charizard GX, I thought I was in a pretty good spot, but my opponent pulled off a big counterplay with a tech card (though I feel like I should not say what it is). I was also Judged, and couldn’t get a much-needed Energy. My Stellar Wish also was not useful. I set up a Salazzle. I had an Eevee and a Jirachi with Escape Board, and a Turtonator with two Energy on it. I passed.

Here, I was dreading my Jirachi being knocked out, so I benched my Eevee to make my opponent think I had something set up, and they did go for the Eevee. I thought that if I could use Stellar Wish I would surely be able to get an Energy, but I topdecked a Fiery Flint, and that, combined with the Guzma and Choice Band I had in hand, allowed me to knock out a benched Tapu Lele GX, winning me the game.

Reflection

Firstly, I am very happy to have won the first City League with Double Blaze in format. I was rewarded for coming all the way to Hokkaido (I am from Aichi). Also, I am very grateful to my friends who helped me with the creation process of the deck. I definitely would not have been able to win without their help. I am also thankful for all the opponents I played during the tournament. I don’t think there is anyone who could continue to play Pokemon without any friends in the community.

When I lost the first match, I was wondering what was going to happen but I did not expect to get this far through the tournament. It was ordinary, but it was fun. I cannot write my feelings better than that.

Though I feel like I forgot to write some things, I will end it here. Thank you very much to all of you who have read this article. If you have questions, please send me a message on Twitter. Apologies in advance if I do not get around to responding.
Please find the original Japanese-language article here

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