Your First U.S. Nationals Preview

by Pikkdogs ~ June 9th, 2011.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs here with your first preview of the 2011 U.S. Nationals.  Battle Road tournaments are now over so it is now time to look ahead to Indianapolis and the 2011 Nationals tournament.

News and Introduction

Last night Play Pokemon gave us some big news, they are instituting a mid-season rotation to the HGSS-on format.  While this is not exactly a shock, it is disturbing to  alot of people.  While I would say that most people welcomed the news, a lot of people are not huge fans of the HGSS-on format, and are not happy of how Play Pokemon handled the rotation and rules changes.  I guess you are never going to please everyone, but I think for once Play Pokemon is making the right move.  The rotation freshens the format and puts a lot less emphasis on luck and starting first.  I for one will be happy if I never had to look at another SP card in my life.

So what does this mean for Nationals?  Well, it means a heck of a lot.  It drastically changes the format, all the top 1 or 2 tier decks will be rotated out in favor of new decks.  So now is the time to get your practice with the new format.

Battle Roads Wrap Up

Even though the Spring Battle Roads will not impact Nationals whatsoever, it is still nice to take a look at what happened.

I do not have actual statistics to share, but from what I can tell, the attendance to Spring Battle Roads have been the lowest in a long time.  A lot of players, especially some of the top players, didn’t want to play in the MD-BW format.  This was for a number of reasons, including the importance of luck in the format and the dominance of only a few decks.  It was, however, an excellent time for newer players to play and get used to doing well at a tournament.

I admit that I was wrong about my predictions for Battle Roads.  I thought Sabledonk was going to dominant the format, but it did not.  It would have, but very few people who knew how to make the deck took it to a tournament.  Instead, the most popular decks were decks that people have been playing all through this season, with 4 Sableye SFs to take advantage of the perks of going 1st.  Both Gyarados and SP decks saw considerable play, and considerable success.  Trainerlock decks also were did not do terrible, thanks to their ability to slow down Sableye based decks.  Here is a list of Masters winning decks, according to

24 – Gyarados
23 – Luxchomp
14 – Sabledonk
5 – Emboar/Forretress
3 – MagneRock
3 – Vilegar
3 – Gengar w/ Garchomp C
3 – DialgaChomp
3 – Cincinno

As you can tell, Gyarados and SP decks were the most consistent winners.  The extra speed that was given to Gyarados was enough to give it a good chance against SP decks.  And, Luxchomp decks again saw great success because of their versatility, speed, and disruptive capabilities.  But alas, looking at these facts will not help you prepare for Nationals, so lets look at something that will.

Tips for Selecting your Nationals Deck.  

The most important thing about the HGSS-on format is selecting your deck.  Skill level will always be a priority, but this year your deck choice will be just as important.  It is important to select a deck that is consistent enough to carry you through a large tournament.  Normally it is best to try to find out what everyone else is playing and then try to find a deck that counters that, at this level that is not really possible.  Nationals will be a large tournament where you will not be able to counter every deck you play against.  It is best just to create a consistent deck, and then try to put in a few techs to counter the most popular decks, but try not to overdo it.

I suggest a dect that is fast yet consistent, and has decent matchups against a lot of other decks.  Even though you might have a water deck that can beat all of your friends that play Reshiboar, it may not be the best choice for Nationals.  Instead, you probably will have a better shot with a deck that has a decent shot at beating every other deck, rather than one that can only beat a few decks.  I have a feeling that a good toolbox deck could do well in this format, but I have yet to see one with HGSS-on cards.  So to get a good idea of what I’m talking about, lets look at some popular deck choices for U.S. Nationals.


What is it– A combination of Reshiram and Emboar, both from the Black and White set.  There is also a variation that runs Ninetails and Typhlosion Prime, both decks are very similar.  The strategy is simple, get Reshiram out by turn 2 or 3 and have him doing “Blue Flare” for 120 damage, then do your best to make sure he keeps on doing 120 damage each turn.  It is a very hard deck to matchup against, because if you cannot consistently get OHKOs on Reshiram, you probably will not win. 

Why to play it– This deck would be a good play because it is a good consistent deck.  It is not a very fancy one, it is just a deck that can keep on dealing 120 damage each turn.  It does not have a lot of bad matchups, and preforms equally well against most decks out there. It will be one that you will see at many of the top tables of Nationals.

Why not to play it– While I think this deck will be a great play, it isn’t for everybody.  Its not a real fun deck, so you won’t be super happy about playing it.  It also is not a real skillfull deck, the only hard part about playing this deck is coming up with the best list for your playstyle.  Another reason not to play it is because a lot of people will see it coming, every deck will have some kind of Reshiram counter, so a Reshiram player must be prepared.


What is it– A combination of Zekrom BW, Pachirisu Cl, and Shaymin Ul.  It is capable of loading up Zekrom with 3 electric energies on the first turn!  This leads to a lot of donking potential.  Being able to do 120 damage on turn 1 is something that no other deck in the format can do, nothing is faster than ZPS.

Why to play it-  If you get a good hand, you should be able to win everytime if your oppoent starts with less than 3 Pokemon.  The ability to win quickly makes ZPS a deck to watch out for.

Why not to play it-  The problem is that because ZPS is really good in the first couple turns, it fizzles out later in the game.  If the ZPS player does not get the win early, it can be hard to win a long game with a good well rounded deck.  Another vulnearbility about this deck is that Zekrom is suseptible to OHKOs because he damages himself with his attack, something that Reshiram does not do.


What is it– A combination of Magnezone Prime and Emboar from Black and White.  Emboar lets you attach fire energeis to any Pokemon, and Magnezone uses those energies to power up his “Lost Burn” attack.  Magneboar is all about getting OHKOs on whatever your opponent puts up.

Why to play it– A lot of experts are saying that Magneboar is the best deck right now.  The ability to OHKO anything in the format is amazing.  The deck also has some pretty good late game draw power with Magnezone Prime and the Shuckle promo combining to make a good draw engine.  If it gets setup fast, its tough to touch Magneboar.

Why not to play it-  If the deck sets up by turn 3 or 4 it is hard to beat, but that does not always happen.  A deck that relies on 2 stage 2’s will always struggle with speed and consistency.  If you can outspeed Magneboar, you will put it into a deep prize hole that will be hard for it to get out of (yes I did say “deep prize hole”, lol).  If you can find a really polished list of Magneboar, it will be an awesome play.  But, if you cannot polish the deck up the way you want it, it may be better to play something more consistent.

Gengar Prime Variants

What is it– These are decks that try to win by Lost Zoning 6 of the opponent’s Pokemon.  Some decks have a full Gengar line, while others rely on putting Gengar in the Lost Zone and attacking with Mew Prime.  No matter how they do it, the goal is to Lost Zone six (hopefully important) Pokemon.

Why to play it– This deck is 0ne of my favorite decks in the new format.  I like it because it is new and different, and very fun to play.  It is a very cool deck to play, it is the anti-Luxchomp.  I think this deck takes a little creativity to master, and it certainly is a thinking mans deck.  It is also a pretty consistent deck if you can manage to polish your list.  A good list should be able to preform as well against a good Reshiboar deck as it does against a league deck.

Why not to play it– From my testing, this deck seems a tad slow.  If you do not get dealt a good hand, you could be wasting a couple turns trying to get setup.  Also, it can be hard to get that 6th Pokemon in the Lost Zone.  It is easy to get a couple in the Lost Zone, but once the game has gone on for a long time, it can be hard to finish the deal.

Donphan Variants

What is it– These are decks that revolve around the player getting an early Donphan.  A popular variant of the deck also features Machamp Prime for some late game power.  It is a tanking deck that will deal damage, and hopefully survive a few hits.

Why to play it– Donphan decks are nice because they are fast and consistent.  Normally you should be doing damage by turn 2, that will hopefully give you a few knockouts on your opponents starter Pokemon.  It is a tough deck that only water decks do not fear, so you should have a pretty good matchup against most decks.

Why not to play it-Depending on the variant you are playing, there are some troubles wiht this deck.  Variants with Machamp struggle with the tag between Donphan and Machamp. If your opponent gets a timely knockout on a Donphan with energies, it could set your who strategy back a couple turns.  Builds without Machamp struggle lateer in the game, and have problems getting the OHKO on most Pokemon.

Feraligatr Prime Variants

What is it– While not many decklists with Feraligatr Prime are floating around right now, it is something to be aware of.  Some people have paired Feraligatr with Blastoise UD and/or Kyorge/Groudon Legend.

Why to play it– Feraligatr has some promise because it has weakness on Reshiram, without being weak to Zekrom and Magnezone.  If you pair Feraligatr with the rare Alomomola from BW, you will be able to OHKO Reshiram.  There are a lot of Pokemon that you can use with Feraligatr, but none seem to fit perfectly.  But, I do not see a good Pokemon like Feraligatr not getting at least moderate play at Nationals.

Why not to play it– Right now the perfect Feraligatr Prime deck has yet to have been found.  It is easy to make a deck that will beat a Reshiboar deck, but not so easy to make one that has a good chance at beating every other deck.

Your Own Rogue Decks

What is it– Who knows?  Rogue decks can be anything.  Im sure we will be seeing some rogue decks at Nats, though I have not heard of anything promising yet.

Why to play it-  Rogue decks are nice because they catch everyone by surprise.  Instead of spending the first couple turns plotting against you, your opponent will spend them trying to figure out what you are trying to do.  Rogue decks are also very fun to play.

Why not to play it– Rogue decks will take a hit in this format.  Not because there are no good ideas left to be found, but because the card pool in this format is fairly shallow.  We are coming off of a format that saw 13 active sets, to a format that has 6 sets (and one of those sets containing a lot of reprints).  There are just not a lot of cards to choose from right now, so a lot of the “rogue” combinations will be tried and talked about by the time nationals comes around.


Well that is my shot at your Nationals preview.  I think that overall the format is really fun and should make for some wacky results at Nationals.  I am not yet sure if I will be able to make it to Indianapolis, but I know that all who go will have a blast.  If you can make it to Indy, I suggest that you go and check it out.  Try to take a good consistent deck, and be ready for anything.  Try to pick your deck within the next week or so, and then spend the next couple weeks polishing it up.  Deck building is very important in this format, so make sure you have the best deck possible.

Feel free to tell me what you think about the rotation and nationals by leaving your thoughts in the comment box.

So long and thanks for all the fish!

Category: National Championships, Uncategorized | Tags: ,