Eight Decks to Watch For at North American Internationals

The final Pokémon TCG International Championships event of the 2017 Play! Pokémon season is right around the corner. Players from all over the world will gather in Indianapolis from June 30 to July 2 for the 2017 North American International Championships, eager to earn major Championship Points and other big prizes on the road to the 2017 Pokémon World Championships in Anaheim, CA, in August.

This event is shaping up to be the largest one of the season, and there's a lot on the line. For many players, this will be the final opportunity to earn enough Championship Points to qualify for the World Championships. For the very top players, it's a chance to earn an elusive Day Two invitation to Worlds, which allows them to skip the first day of competition entirely. The top players in the world will be in attendance, all vying for the top prize of $10,000 and the title of North American International Champion.

The question on a lot of people's minds is which decks will be popular going into the weekend...and which ones will be victorious. Right now, it's difficult to predict the ever-changing landscape of competitive Pokémon TCG play. The metagame has seen a drastic change with the release of the Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion. It's a completely different environment compared to what we saw in São Paulo just a few months ago, and that should make for a thrilling tournament. Here are some of the top strategies heading into the North American International Championships.

Trashalanche

  • Trashalanche
Pokémon
  • 3
    Garbodor
    51/145
    sm2 51
  • 1
    Garbodor
    57/122
    xy9 57
  • 4
    Trubbish
    56/122
    xy9 56
  • 3
    Drampa-GX
    115/145
    sm2 115
  • 3
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Tapu Koko
    SM30
    smp SM30
  • 1
    Oricorio
    56/145
    sm2 56
Energy Cards
  • 7
    Basic { Psychic } Energy
    xy12 95
  • 4
    Double Colorless Energy
    sm1 136
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    N
    xy10 105
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    Brigette
    xy8 134
  • 1
    Brock's Grit
    xy12 74
  • 1
    Professor Kukui
    sm1 128
  • 1
    Team Rocket's Handiwork
    xy10 112
  • 1
    Teammates
    xy5 141
  • 2
    Team Magma's Secret Base
    dc1 32
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 3
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 3
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 1
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
More Info Copy Deck List

Perhaps the biggest deck that players should worry about is one featuring Garbodor's Trashalanche attack, which exploded onto the scene at the Seattle Regional Championships. Although its popularity fell a bit in the following weeks, it continues to be a top deck in the Standard format. The Trashalanche attack changes the way decks are built and the way people play the game. Whether Garbodor is partnered with Drampa-GX or Espeon-GX, this deck will be one to watch out for heading into the International Championships. For more information on this deck, check out our recent article.

Vespiquen

  • Vespiquen
Pokémon
  • 4
    Vespiquen
    10/98
    xy7 10
  • 4
    Combee
    9/98
    xy7 9
  • 4
    Unown
    30/98
    xy7 30
  • 2
    Zoroark
    91/162
    xy8 91
  • 2
    Zorua
    89/162
    xy8 89
  • 1
    Vaporeon
    22/98
    xy7 22
  • 1
    Flareon
    13/98
    xy7 13
  • 2
    Eevee
    63/98
    xy7 63
  • 2
    Shaymin-EX
    77/108
    xy6 77
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 2
    Klefki
    80/114
    xy11 80
  • 1
    Oranguru
    113/149
    sm1 113
Energy Cards
  • 4
    Double Colorless Energy
    sm1 136
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    N
    xy10 105
  • 1
    Teammates
    xy5 141
  • 2
    Forest of Giant Plants
    xy7 74
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 3
    Acro Bike
    xy5 122
  • 2
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 2
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Special Charge
    xy11 105
  • 1
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 1
    Revitalizer
    g1 70
More Info Copy Deck List

After seeing little success for months, Vespiquen decks have seen a major resurgence, particularly with Jeffrey Cheng's runner-up finish in Seattle and Michael Pramawat's win in Madison, WI. Choice Band has been a major boon for the deck, allowing for much easier Knock Outs on big Pokémon-GX and Pokémon-EX. Right now, this looks like one of the powerhouses of the Standard format. However, it appears that more players are starting to add Oricorio (Sensu Style, with the Supernatural Dance attack) and Karen to their decks to counter the Bee Revenge strategy. We'll have to see if Vespiquen can continue to thrive even as people adapt to it.

Zoroark

  • Zoroark
Pokémon
  • 2
    Zoroark BREAK
    92/162
    xy8 92
  • 4
    Zoroark
    91/162
    xy8 91
  • 4
    Zorua
    89/162
    xy8 89
  • 2
    Drampa-GX
    115/145
    sm2 115
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Oranguru
    113/149
    sm1 113
  • 1
    Shaymin-EX
    77/108
    xy6 77
  • 1
    Tapu Koko
    SM30
    smp SM30
  • 1
    Oricorio
    56/145
    sm2 56
Energy Cards
  • 6
    Basic { Darkness } Energy
    xy12 97
  • 4
    Double Colorless Energy
    sm1 136
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    N
    xy10 105
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    Brigette
    xy8 134
  • 1
    Hex Maniac
    xy7 75
  • 1
    Pokémon Fan Club
    xy10 107
  • 1
    Professor Kukui
    sm1 128
  • 1
    Teammates
    xy5 141
  • 2
    Team Magma's Secret Base
    dc1 32
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 3
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 2
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 1
    Special Charge
    xy11 105
More Info Copy Deck List

After Daniel Altavilla's third-place finish in Madison and his win in Mexico City, the combination of Zoroark and Drampa-GX is a proven contender heading into North American Internationals. With Team Magma's Secret Base to put some damage on your own Benched Pokémon, Drampa-GX's Berserk attack can dish out a lot of damage quickly. Zoroark's Mind Jack attack is great against strategies that need to put a lot of Pokémon on the Bench, and the additional damage from Choice Band or Professor Kukui makes it more dangerous. Throw in Zoroark BREAK to use the opponent's attacks against them, and you have quite a versatile and powerful deck on your hands.

Metagross

  • Metagross
Pokémon
  • 4
    Metagross-GX
    85/145
    sm2 85
  • 3
    Metang
    84/145
    sm2 84
  • 4
    Beldum
    83/145
    sm2 83
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Mimikyu
    58/145
    sm2 58
  • 1
    Alolan Vulpix
    21/145
    sm2 21
Energy Cards
  • 8
    Basic { Metal } Energy
    xy12 98
  • 2
    Basic { Psychic } Energy
    xy12 95
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    N
    xy10 105
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    Brigette
    xy8 134
  • 1
    Karen
    xyp XY177
  • 1
    Olympia
    g1 66
  • 1
    Professor Kukui
    sm1 128
  • 4
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 4
    Rare Candy
    sm1 129
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 3
    Max Potion
    sm2 128
  • 2
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
  • 1
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
More Info Copy Deck List

Among all of the great cards in the latest expansion, Metagross-GX is one that flew under the radar. That all changed with Christopher Schemanske's runner-up performance at the Madison Regional Championships. The monstrous 250-HP Pokémon-GX is difficult for most decks to deal with, and it does just enough damage with the Giga Hammer attack to pose a constant threat. It's a somewhat slow and clunky strategy, but it's a juggernaut once everything is up and running. Play Max Potion to heal damage, use the Geotech System Ability a few times to rev up Metagross-GX, and then complete the process by smashing the opponent's Pokémon with Giga Hammer. Repeat as necessary.

Volcanion

  • Volcanion
Pokémon
  • 4
    Volcanion-EX
    26/114
    xy11 26
  • 4
    Volcanion
    25/114
    xy11 25
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Turtonator-GX
    18/145
    sm2 18
  • 1
    Starmie
    31/108
    xy12 31
  • 1
    Staryu
    25/122
    xy9 25
Energy Cards
  • 13
    Basic { Fire } Energy
    xy12 92
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    N
    xy10 105
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    Fisherman
    xy8 136
  • 1
    Olympia
    g1 66
  • 1
    Pokémon Fan Club
    xy10 107
  • 3
    Brooklet Hill
    sm2 120
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 2
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 2
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
  • 2
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Max Elixir
    xy9 102
  • 1
    Escape Rope
    xy5 127
  • 1
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 1
    Switch
    sm1 132
More Info Copy Deck List

Throughout the 2017 season, Volcanion-EX decks have continued to evolve and adapt to the Standard format environment. The latest iteration of the deck moves away from speedy gameplay focused on Item cards and towards a slower, methodical pace that focuses on Stadium and Supporter cards. Brooklet Hill takes advantage of the fact that Volcanion-EX is also a Water type, which means the player doesn't have to use Item cards to find it—a strong consideration when the Trashalanche deck is so popular. Turtonator-GX provides some explosive options with the Bright Flame and Nitro Tank-GX attacks, which helps to keep this deck a major player in the Standard format.

Decidueye

  • Decidueye
Pokémon
  • 4
    Decidueye-GX
    12/149
    sm1 12
  • 4
    Dartrix
    10/149
    sm1 10
  • 4
    Rowlet
    9/149
    sm1 9
  • 2
    Vileplume
    3/98
    xy7 3
  • 2
    Gloom
    2/98
    xy7 2
  • 2
    Oddish
    1/98
    xy7 1
  • 2
    Shaymin-EX
    77/108
    xy6 77
  • 1
    Tapu Koko
    SM30
    smp SM30
  • 1
    Espeon-EX
    52/122
    xy9 52
  • 1
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Alolan Vulpix
    21/145
    sm2 21
Energy Cards
  • 4
    Double Colorless Energy
    sm1 136
  • 3
    Basic { Grass } Energy
    xy12 91
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    N
    xy10 105
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 4
    Forest of Giant Plants
    xy7 74
  • 4
    Trainers' Mail
    xy6 92
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 3
    Level Ball
    xy7 76
  • 2
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Revitalizer
    g1 70
More Info Copy Deck List

After dominating the Standard format for months, the duo of Decidueye-GX and Vileplume saw a sharp decline in popularity with the release of Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising. The introduction of Tapu Lele-GX seems to have weakened the power of Vileplume's Irritating Pollen Ability, and the Trashalanche deck can give problems to this strategy that leans heavily on Item cards. Still, this deck remains a viable option, and it wouldn't be surprising to see it do well at the International Championships.

Darkrai

  • Darkrai
Pokémon
  • 4
    Darkrai-EX
    74/122
    xy9 74
  • 2
    Dragonair
    95/149
    sm1 95
  • 4
    Dratini
    94/149
    sm1 94
  • 2
    Giratina-EX
    57/98
    xy7 57
  • 2
    Shaymin-EX
    77/108
    xy6 77
  • 1
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
Energy Cards
  • 15
    Basic { Darkness } Energy
    xy12 97
  • 4
    Double Dragon Energy
    xy6 97
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    N
    xy10 105
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 1
    Skyla
    xy8 148
  • 4
    Altar of the Moone
    sm2 117
  • 4
    Professor's Letter
    xy8 146
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 2
    Nest Ball
    sm1 123
More Info Copy Deck List

Darkrai-EX was another dominant card in the Standard format that took a tumble with the launch of the new expansion. Early on, it relied on Exp. Share to keep Energy in play for the Dark Pulse attack, but Field Blower put a big dent in that plan. That version can still work, but some players are trying an interesting approach with Dragonair. The plan is to use the Dragon's Wish attack, and then attach as many Energy as possible on the following turn to unleash a mighty Dark Pulse attack with Darkrai-EX. It sounds crazy, but it might be just crazy enough to work.

Gyarados

  • Gyarados
Pokémon
  • 3
    Gyarados
    21/98
    xy7 21
  • 4
    Magikarp
    33/108
    xy12 33
  • 1
    Machoke
    64/145
    sm2 64
  • 1
    Machop
    57/108
    xy12 57
  • 1
    Octillery
    33/162
    xy8 33
  • 1
    Remoraid
    32/162
    xy8 32
  • 1
    Shaymin-EX
    77/108
    xy6 77
  • 1
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
Energy Cards
  • 4
    Double Colorless Energy
    sm1 136
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 2
    Lysandre
    xy7 78
  • 2
    Teammates
    xy5 141
  • 1
    N
    xy10 105
  • 1
    Professor Kukui
    sm1 128
  • 4
    Team Magma's Secret Base
    dc1 32
  • 4
    Dive Ball
    xy5 125
  • 4
    Puzzle of Time
    xy9 109
  • 4
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 4
    VS Seeker
    xy4 109
  • 3
    Choice Band
    sm2 121
  • 3
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 2
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 2
    Trainers' Mail
    xy6 92
  • 1
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
  • 1
    Special Charge
    xy11 105
  • 1
    Town Map
    xy8 150
More Info Copy Deck List

The Gyarados deck has been close to major success countless times, and it finally arrived after Alex Dao's Regionals win in Birmingham, UK. It employs a rather unusual strategy: get Team Magma's Secret Base into play, purposely damaging your own Magikarp so that Gyarados's Full Retaliation attack can do more damage. With 6 damage counters spread across 3 Magikarp, the attack hits for a whopping 210 damage, which is enough to take down most Pokémon in one attack. The θ Double Ancient Trait allows Gyarados to have 2 Pokémon Tool cards attached to it, meaning it can have 2 Choice Bands at once! Machoke's Daunting Pose Ability protects those vulnerable Magikarp on the Bench, warding off any pesky Pokémon looking to pick on them. Be on the lookout for the Gyarados deck!

These are a few of the decks you could see at the upcoming North American International Championships, but there are plenty of other competitive strategies out there. The event in Indianapolis is sure to be exciting and unpredictable. If you can't attend in person, be sure to catch the live stream for all three days of the event at Pokemon.com/live. And as always, be sure to check back at Pokemon.com/strategy for the latest Pokémon TCG news and updates!

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