Hello again readers, I’m back with today after what is probably the biggest tournament win I’ll ever experience. As I’m sure many of you have heard, I recently won Players Cup IV, and as I’m sure the title of this article implies, today I’m talking about the things that led me to winning the event. As Global Finals is the only portion of the event to have occurred with CRE legal, I’m going to ignore the Regional Qualifiers/Finals aside from saying I went 11-1-0 overall with Mad Party. Old news, I know, but still part of my PCIV journey. With that, let’s get into the Global Finals!
Players Cup IV Global Finals
16 players from around the world, all having made it through a series of difficult qualifiers to get there. A healthy mix of established names and new faces, all playing in a new format. As one of these players, I would need to make a deck choice that I would be both comfortable playing, and relatively certain that I could beat almost anything with…
I’ll be totally honest here. I was lost in the format for a while, jumping between a bunch of different decks based on what I was seeing win events and what felt good to play. Most of my time was spent on Shadow Rider Calyrex, Dark Box, Rapid Strike Urshifu, and Ice Rider. Dark Box was the deck that I won the most games with but was ironically the first deck I eliminated from my selection. It was good, but the heavy reliance on a Supporter that didn’t draw cards and at least one Evolution line made me put the deck down again. I felt like every game I won was because I drew well, and not because the deck was that great.
So, with Dark Box gone, I was left with three VMAX decks. You would think that Urshifu and Ice Rider Calyrex would be similar with the Inteleon engine present in both, but I found Ice Rider to be so much worse than Twitter was making it out to be. The Melony engine is just something I found myself hating, as even if I drew it, I still needed to have an Energy in the discard and an Ice Rider in play just to use the card. I was dead drawing much more often than was remotely acceptable for a deck that I was considering for the Global Finals, and I was forced to drop Ice Rider from consideration.
At this point, I was left with Shadow Rider Calyrex with Aurora Energy and Rapid Strike Urshifu with Inteleon. Both are very good decks, and I played a lot of games with both. I think I ended up playing just under 300 games of Urshifu and 100 with Shadow Rider, hopping between them when one had a particularly bad game, and I would get discouraged. What ended up selling me on my play was when I had my friend Josh play actual games against Urshifu with LMZ and Shadow Rider, Urshifu’s “worst” matchups. And then I won like 70% of the games against Shadow Rider, and LMZ felt like a 50-50 at worst. By this point, my Urshifu list was already the exact 60 I ended up playing, but I’ll get into those card choices later.
With Shadow Rider being considered the BDIF, I knew that there would be a decent amount of them present in the field. The limit I was comfortable with in the field was eight, but we ended up with only five. I felt that this event was literally just going to be Shadow Rider, and those who tried to counter Shadow Rider. This led me to the deduction that if I could beat all the Shadow Rider counters while not scooping my cards up when faced with Shadow Rider itself, I would straight up win the event. Even if Shadow Rider is as bad of a matchup as people try to make it out to be, if the event was full of counters to it, if I made it to round three in the winners’ bracket, there was no way I would lose the event if I didn’t dead draw. Thus, Urshifu was always the correct play for the event.
##Pokémon - 23 4 Sobble CRE 41 4 Drizzile SSH 56 3 Inteleon PR-SW 113 1 Inteleon SHF 100 4 Rapid Strike Urshifu V BST 87 3 Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX BST 88 1 Passimian CRE 88 1 Mew PR-SM 215 1 Jirachi-GX UNM 79 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195 ##Trainer Cards - 29 4 Professor's Research CPA 62 3 Marnie SSH 208 2 Boss's Orders SHF 58 4 Quick Ball SSH 179 4 Level Ball NXD 89 2 Pokémon Communication HS 98 2 Karate Belt UNM 201 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163 1 Tool Scrapper RCL 208 1 Switch PRC 163 1 Reset Stamp UNM 206 1 Escape Rope BST 125 1 Air Balloon SSH 213 1 Tower of Waters BST 138 ##Energy - 8 4 Rapid Strike Energy BST 140 4 Fighting Energy 6
Everything about this list is optimized for how I play the deck. I think part of the lack of Urshifu finishes in events is that people don’t know how to play the deck well anymore. It’s not the same as it was with Cinccino or Jirachi. Inteleon means you get to do basically whatever you want whenever you want. We see control lists playing a bunch of one-of cards in lists, so why not apply that same concept to an Inteleon deck? Obviously, I didn’t take it to the same extent, but looking at my list, I made some greedy choices in the eyes of others. I cannot count the numbers of times I’ve heard, “Only four switching cards? That doesn’t seem like enough.” Sure, it’s low. So what? Games don’t last that long anyways. If I don’t need to naturally draw into them anyways, why would I play six or more switches just to Gale Thrust three times a game anyways?
People seem to be focusing on Gale Thrust much more than is necessary and losing games because of it. Between Inteleon and Passimian, taking four to six Prizes at once is how the deck should be played, and maybe Gale Thrust takes the first or last KO. Playing like this not only makes switching cards less necessary, but also makes Reset Stamp nearly worthless on your opponent’s side. No need to lose to bad Stamps in this deck. G-Max Rapid Flow is the most important attack in the deck.
This leads me to the most notable difference between my list and 99% of others. Two Karate Belt. I’m playing from behind the entire game usually, so why would I not play multiple copies of Karate Belt? I prized one? I still have one to close out the game anyways. I drew one early and it got discarded? Oh well. I needed two straight Rapid Flows and my opponent KOed the VMAX with a Karate Belt on it? Here comes the second one! Karate Belt is also more than just an enabler for Rapid Flow. You can drop a new Urshifu V on the Bench after your VMAX has been KOed, attach Rapid Strike Energy and Karate Belt, and swing for 150 damage with Hundred Furious Blows, forcing them to KO a V instead of risking a game-ending VMAX. If they KO a V here, they open themselves to Reset Stamp, and if they don’t, you have an easy Rapid Flow in the next turn. With the second Karate Belt, you can pull of that play and still use Rapid Flow from out of nowhere the following turn. It’s basically just a free 150 damage if played correctly.
The next most important card in the deck is the SSH Inteleon. I see so many lists not playing it, and I just must ask why? You could either play a one-of card that allows you to search two Trainers and provide you many more draw out options in the late game, or you could play some other random tech that you probably don’t strictly need. It’s not like lists are playing four CRE Inteleon anyways, and you’re only using the card to either win games or get out of a bad situation anyways, so it’s not like evolving a Drizzile into SSH Inteleon is going to harm you more than not having it would. If you would have lost without it, arguing that the Drizzile needed to evolve into CRE Inteleon is just dumb.
Now let’s talk about some of the cards that I didn’t include in the list. First, Telescopic Sight. A good card, but if I need Karate Belt or Air Balloon attached anyways, then I don’t have time to worry about this. The effect of Telescopic Sight can be replicated by a couple Inteleon CRE anyways, and in most situations is win-more. A tech not strictly necessary to any game plan? Not worth a valuable slot. Next, I have no Energy Spinner. This card is only good when you need an Energy, but can’t find a Rapid Strike Energy, which is usually what you need. I get that having a Drizzile option for Energy is good, but if I’m using Drizzile for that, then it’s both not the first turn where the attachment matters most, and it’s a card that isn’t furthering my game when not played in conjunction with others. If I’m playing a Supporter afterwards anyway, then I would rather search for a VMAX or passive switching card like Air Balloon or Tower of Waters. If I’ve already played a Supporter and not found an Energy, then Dedenne-GX better be putting in some work that turn. Energy Spinner is good, but it’s not better than any other card in the list.
I think that’s the notable things in and not in the list, so let’s move on to the tournament itself and then some matchups.