Winning the Pokemon Santa Clara Regionals with Reshiram Charizard GX

Hey everyone! My name is Kian Amini. I am Competitive Pokemon player from San Jose, California. I’ve been playing this game for about 13 years and have earned a list of accomplishments that includes winning 4 Regional Championships, 3rd at the 2017 Oceania internationals, and 16th at the World Championships. I’m really excited to produce Pokemon content and demonstrate my passion for the game. This report will cover my first-place finish at the Santa Clara Regionals and deck analysis. If you’re not familiar with all the cards I’ll mention or are interested in building the deck yourself, you can find them here.

The deck I played is called Reshiram and Charizard GX/Volcanion. I’m sure a lot of you know what Charizard is from being an original and iconic Pokemon. In the most recent set, Unbroken Bonds, Charizard was paired with a partner Pokemon in Reshiram and combined into one powerful card in a Tag Team GX. What makes this card special its high HP and high damage output. It’s one of the strongest cards ever released and has been dominating since it came out.

The Deck: Reshiram Charizard GX

Reshiram and Charizard

As soon as the set dropped. I tested pretty much everything. Lightning decks did not feel as strong as in the previous format. Zoroark and Weezing decks felt underwhelming as well. I was set on playing Vileplume Mill or Reshiram and Charizard GX a couple of days before the tournament. Vileplume was a really solid play since a lot of players would not be prepared for it. Reshiram and Charizard GX was my other choice since it was new and had a surprise factor going in.

My friend Cameron Shenoy helped popularize the deck, and we saw multiple versions where the deck was built from Jirachi-based builds as well as the one using Green’s Exploration that was based on a build from the Kyoto Champions league in Japan. We maxed out the Volcanion line for the right matchups and kept refining the list from there.

The list:

4 Volcanion UNB
2 Reshiram Charizard GX
1 Eevee Snorlax GX
1 Heat Factory
2 Power Plant
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
1 Switch
1 Max Potion
1 Stealthy Hood
2 Choice Band
2 Fiery Flint
3 Fire Crystal
4 Pokegear 3.0
4 Custom Catcher
4 Nest Ball
1 Judge
1 Acerola
1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy
2 Guzma
2 Professor Kukui
4 Welder
4 Green’s Exploration
11 Fire Energy

Card Choices

Volcanion

Volcanion

This is your opener. Flare starter provides instant energy on board. High Heat Blast is a very solid attack that sets up knockouts for future turns or knocks out low-HP Pokemon.

Eevee/Snorlax GX

Eevee Snorlax GX

This is here for type coverage. Since all the other Pokemon in this deck are weak to water, it needs another option. With Welder and Flare Starter, it will be able to attack. Dump Truck Press is a very powerful attack against evolution Pokemon by dealing 240 damage. Most Water Pokemon that are relevant in this game have 120 or below or are evolution Pokemon. Eevee/Snorlax GX can deal 210 damage and KO most Pokemon outside of a couple of tag team GXs. If you have 5 energy attached, you are able to fill your hand up to 10.

4 Green’s Exploration/ 4 Welder

Green's Exploration Welder pokemon tcg

Since this deck does not run Pokemon with abilities, it gets to maximize this supporter. Having access to every trainer in the deck is very powerful and allows you to make intricate plays, and so the deck runs a lot of single copies of trainers. Welder is one of the best supporters in the game. The ability to accelerate energy and draw cards is very powerful.

2 Fiery Flint/3 Fire Crystal

Fiery Flint Fire Crystal

The decks needs energy to maximize Welder. Fiery Flint is usually your opening target for Green’s Exploration and Fire Crystal is for the mid-to-late game. These cards are incredible fire support.

2 Power Plant

Power Plant

Since this deck does not run GX Pokemon with abilities, it can use this to disrupt decks that use GX abilities like Zeraora GX, Zoroark GX, Tapu Lele GX, Tapu Koko GX. and Dedenne GX. If Power Plant can slow them down, then the deck can pull ahead.

4 Custom Catcher

Custom Catcher

We didn’t test this much beforehand. Guzma is the most popular gusting effect in the game, but this deck cannot not use Guzma all the time since it needs to play other draw supporters. Custom Catcher is excellent in this deck because it allows you to play another supporter. Welder plus a pair of Custom Catchers is a common play for this deck. Custom Catcher’s is also very useful for its first effect. This deck does not run a lot of draw so there will be situations where you need to use a single copy to fill your hand.

4 Pokegear

Pokegear 3.0

Since this deck does not run Jirachi or Tapu Lele GX, it needs to run Pokegear for consistency. The main use is to find Green’s Exploration and Welder. With four of each in the deck, they easy to find with Pokegear.

Stealthy Hood

Stealthy Hood

This was solely for Vileplume decks. One Stealthy Hood was enough to deal with the deck. It is very hard for Vileplume decks to set up two.

The Gameplan

This is a very defensive, methodical version of Reshiram and Charizard GX. This deck does not run liabilities like Jirachi, Dedenne GX or Tapu Lele GX because it does not want to give your opponent any easy prizes–you’re going to make them take eight. What I mean is your opponent can knock out two Volcanions and still have to knock out two massive Tag Team GXs. You also use 5 Volcanions and one Tag Team GX to accomplish this. The key is bench management and not giving your opponent any easy targets. With cards like Acerola and Max Potion, the opponent will have a tough time taking knockouts if they cannot score a knockout of their own.

The Tournament

I arrived at the venue around 7:30 am with my deck sheet, still deciding if I wanted to play Acro Bikes or not. I had a sense of comfort knowing I was in my home area and was excited to compete against players from across the country who came to the tournament.

Round-by-Round Matchups

  • R1 Zoroark GX/Slowking/Persian GX WW
  • R2 Shedinja LWT
  • R3 Pikachu and Zekrom GX LWL
  • R4 Gardevoir and Sylveon GX WW
  • R5 Blacephalon/Jirachi LL
  • R6 Zoroark GX/Slowking/Persian GX WW
  • R7 Umbreon/Hoopa WW
  • R8 Zoroark GX/SlowKing/Persian GX WW
  • R9 Pikachu and Zekrom GX WW
  • R10 Zoroark GX/Slowking WW
  • R11 Vileplume Mill WW
  • R12 Blacephalon Jirachi WLW
  • R13 Vileplume Mill WW
  • R14 ID (Intentional Draw)
  • T8 Vileplume Mill LWW
  • T4 Zapdos WW
  • T2 Reshizard WLW

My first round was against a Zoroark deck with Slowking and Persian GX. I knew this matchup like the back of my hand and used Eevee/Snorlax as much I can. Since Zoroark decks normally don’t run fighting Pokemon, they cannot answer Eevee and Snorlax GX, and their Slowkings that counter Reshiram and Charizard are less impactful.

In the second round I faced one of the best players in the game in Isaiah Williams. He was playing a Shedinja stall deck that wins the game by deckout. I lost game one because I ran out of ways to knock out his Pokemon; he Lost Zoned my last Guzma with Trumbeak and it was over from there. I then beat him in game two since he had a slow start. Since his deck was very slow, we did not have enough time to finish game 3.

Round three I was up against Pikachu and Zekrom piloted by another player in Kevin Baxter. Kevin went straight for Marshadow’s Let Loose in game one and I could not recover from it. Game two I got to set up and won, but the third was more of the same. I just accepted I got a little bit unlucky and tried to shake it off.

I then played against a Gardevoir and Sylveon GX deck, which I easily beat. The opposite happened in the next round where I was paired against a Blacephalon/Jirachi deck. My opponent was hitting on all cylinders and just destroyed my deck.

Starting the tournament at 2-2-1 was not ideal. I was losing my confidence a little bit and was questioning my deck choice. I had to win out to advance to Day 2.

I stayed strong mentally and powered through to do just that. I hit some good matchups in Zoroark GX variants and Pikachu/Zekrom GX. I also earned enough points making Day 2 to qualify for the World Championships, which was a huge relief to hit my goal for the season.

Day 2 was a lot smoother. I started off the round by easily beating the fourth Zoroark deck I played.. Round 11 I played against a stall deck with Vileplume and beat it as well it since I had access to Stealthy Hood.

Vileplume

Round 12 was the hardest of the day because I faced a Blacephalon/Jirachi deck, which is one of my toughest matchups. I lost game one pretty badly, but in game two he did not have the turn-two knockout. I took a lead with Volcanions by using Professor Kukui to make High Heat Blast do 130 to KO a Blacephalon on my way to winning. In the final game I made a terrible play by using Custom Catcher on a Jirachi when I should have just knocked out his only Blacephalon in play. He eventually ran out of steam at the end of the game and was not able to one-shot my Eevee Snorlax GX.

Round 13 I played against another Vileplume deck and easily ran through it with Stealthy Hood. Winning this round pushed my record to 10-2-1 and a lock for Top 8, giving me a chance to win my home regional.

My Top 8 opponent was Preston Ellis, a very strong local player who has racked up numerous accomplishments. He was playing another Vileplume Stall deck. He had a really strong board in game one by setting up two Vileplumes while having the tool removal in hand. I had to use Judge and Stealthy Hood in the same turn so that I could knock out both his Vileplumes. He wasn’t able to find Faba or Field Blower, while I found the Guzma to KO his second Plume and the game was decided from there.

In the next game, he had Lucario and Melmetal GX, his worst starter in the matchup. He didn’t have a way to remove Lucario and Melmetal from the field, which meant there were three prizes on board if I could figure it out.

I went after two Oddishes and knocked out a Vileplume. The game was kind of long because he had a Metal Frying Pan on his Lucario and Melmetal GX and he used his GX attack to strip energy from Reshiram and Charizard GX. I eventually found Field Blower and energies to power up my Reshiram and Charizard GX and won the set.

My Top 4 opponent was Michael Catron playing a Zapdos deck, a fine matchup for me.

Game one Michael started poorly and could not establish a Zapdos, which wrapped the game up quickly. In the next one, I had a blistering start with three Volcanions in play and a first-turn Flare Starter. Michael took the first knockout and I responded by using Green’s Exploration for a Rescue Stretcher and Nest Ball to set up the five Volcanion strategy. Michael then made an excellent play by using Marshadow’s Let Loose and Buzzwole’s Sledge Hammer in one turn, forcing me have Professor Kukui or a Gust effect to take a prize. I found Guzma, Pokegear, and Heat Factory. I used Pokegear and grabbed Professor Kukui, which gave me the option to knock out Buzzwole. From that point, I was not missing a beat and eventually powered up my Reshiram and Charizard GX to claim the set.

I was pretty surprised to be in the finals. I have not won a regionals in more than three years and was excited to try to claim another title. I am playing against one of the best players in the game in Alex Schamanke. He’s perennial Top 16 competitor and has been playing almost as long as me. He was playing Reshiram/Charizard deck as well, but with a different build emphasizing Kiawe and Jirachi.

The finals was not eventful at all. I didn’t play very well in the second game, but Alex started off very poorly in the first and last game and I won easily.

Taking my last prize was one the best feelings I’ve had in a long time. It was the same feeling of euphoria as when I won first my Regionals when I was 15. I was congratulated by so many of my friends after I won. My phone was blowing up. It was so surreal and I couldn’t believe it had happened again. I would not have been here without hard work and the friends I’ve made through this community.

The Matchups

Zapdos/Jirachi

Volcanion is the key. Zapdos decks struggle to take easy knockouts on Volcanions. Your goal here is just to use five Volcanions in this matchup by using Rescue Stretcher. Let Loose is the biggest hurdle, while Buzzwole with Sledgehammer can knock out Volcanion. Your best response is using Professor Kukui and knocking something else out besides their Buzzwole.

Stall

With Stealthy Hood this matchup is very easy. You knock out their Basic Pokemon very easily with Reshiram and Charizard GX, and their only play is using Field Blower or Faba and getting a second Villeplume out, which is hard to pull off. The counter to this play is attaching Stealthy Hood and using Judge to disrupt their hand. It is very unlikely they find a tool removal card in five cards. The following turn, you want to use Guzma or Custom Catcher to knock out their second Plume.

Pikachu and Zekrom GX

This matchup is favorable since it is hard for Pikachu and Zekrom GX to knock out two Reshizards. Reshiram and Charizard GX and also easily knockout Pikachu and Zekrom by using Flare Strike with Choice Band for a 260-damage KO. Power Plant is also very useful in this matchup since their relies heavily on abilities. If you are able to stick one early, they will have a very slow start.

Reshiram/Charizard Mirror (Greens)

It’s better to play second in the mirror matchup. This matchup is all about getting the one-hit knockouts in Reshiram and Charizard GXs. Volcanion can be great if you are able to damage a Reshiram and Charizard. I’ve also updated my list below to help improve the matchup.

Zoroark

This matchup is all about setting up Eevee Snorlax GX because Zoroark have no way to one-hit that. Zoroark decks are not are running fighting Pokemon and lean toward water attackers like Slowking. Power Plant is excellent in this matchup since Zoroark heavily relies on trade. I even used Rescue Stretcher for Eevee and Snorlax to force them to deal with it twice.

Weezing

Limiting your bench is key in this matchup. Weezing a lot weaker when it’s not building up damage on multiple Pokemon. The best strategy in this matchup is to use Outrage. When you use Outrage, their Mimikyu and Rotom Frost cannot respond to a Reshizard. Max Potion and Acerola are also excellent as well because it takes them multiple turns to knock out Reshizard.

Updated Decklist

3 Volcanion UNB
1 Ditto Detective Pikachu
2 Reshiram Charizard GX
1 Eevee Snorlax GX
1 Heat Factory
1 Shrine of Punishment
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
1 Switch
1 Max Potion
2 Choice Band
2 Fiery Flint
3 Fire Crystal
3 Acro Bikes
4 Pokegear 3.0
4 Custom Catcher
4 Nest Ball
1 Judge
2 Guzma
2 Professor Kukui
4 Welder
4 Green’s Exploration
11 Fire Energy

I updated the list for more consistency and the mirror match. I really wanted to play Acro Bikes for the tournament but couldn’t fit them. I also added a Ditto from Detective Pikachu. It can be very good to knock out other Reshiram and Charizard GX since it is only worth one prize. Shrine of Punishment may seem weird, but it acts as an easier way to knock out a Reshiram and Charizard GX. It is a lot easier to search for Choice Band and Shrine of Punishment to Flare Strike for a 270 knockout.

Conclusion

It is an honor to write a report for this site, and I want to thank ChannelFireball for giving me the opportunity! Reshiram and Charizard GX has already had a fiery impact on the new format and will continue to be one of the strongest decks for the foreseeable future. I had a roller coaster of weekend from starting a mediocre 2-2-1 to winning out from the rest of the tournament. Go ahead and give this deck a try, it’s fire!

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