Game, Set, March: Early Analysis of Lost March by Top Players

✏ Tate Whitesell | @twhitesell42

The latest expansion to the Pokémon TCG, Lost Thunder, brings over 200 new cards--by far the largest set ever released. With so many potential new decks and updates to old decks, I wanted to bring readers some coverage of the new cards and decks to help prepare for your upcoming SUM-LOT League Cups and larger tournaments.

I asked for input on Twitter, and several well-respected players got back to me with some solid analysis of a much-debated new deck: Lost March. Focused on putting your own Pokémon in the Lost Zone and then dealing big damage with Jumpluff or Natu, Lost March is reminiscent of the all-powerful Night March that ruled Standard a couple of years ago (and is still played in Expanded). But not all players agree that Lost March will be even close to as strong as Night March was. In this article you'll hear from several players on why Lost March will or won't be good, the archetype's strengths and weaknesses, some ideas on building the deck, and how the concept could evolve in the future. Their responses are quoted directly, although I have made minor edits for correction and clarity.

Note: At the time this article goes to press, Lost March seems to be an under-the-radar deck on Facebook and article sites, with discussion focused more on Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel, Malamar variants, Zoroark-GX variants, and single-Prize-attacker decks like Alolan Exeggutor and Granbull

Ryan Allred
Pro-Play Games; 34th at 2018 Memphis Regionals; Day 2 at first four Regionals of 2017-18 season

I don't think [Lost March] can be a great deck with the tools it currently has. It folds too easily to any spread, and it has too many moving parts to set up and stream attackers without something like Shaymin-EX in format. It's not a terrible deck, but it's like Tier 3.

The comparison to Night March is valid, but Lost March is just missing a lot of tools [that Night March had]. The biggest one is Battle Compressor, but Shaymin-EX is big too. We're also in a format with a lot of good one-Prize attackers, which is something Night March always struggled against.

Zander Bennett
Rare Candy; 2x Regional Top 64 in 2017-18 season

I think Lost March will work decently well in metagames like what we saw at the 2018 Memphis Regionals, where Zoroark-GX takes a back seat and other decks with lower-HP attackers struggle to deal with non-GX attackers. I think if the new Alolan Ninetales-GX brings along more Stage 2 decks and Zoroark-GX sticks around as a powerhouse, Lost March will be unable to consistently hit the numbers it needs to for important Knock Outs.

The deck also has natural consistency issues because of the lack of cards like Battle Compressor and Trainers' Mail, but Professor Elm's Lecture is a highly underrated card that helps the deck very much.

I see the deck dealing well with Shrine of Punishment decks, Blacephalon-GX/Naganadel, and Rayquaza-GX, while struggling with certain Malamar variants, Zoroark-GX, and any Stage 2 decks with Max Potion that might arise (Gardevoir-GX, Metagross-GX, Sceptile-GX).

Jesper Eriksen
Limitless; 2016 Senior Division World Champion; 3x IC Day 2 including a Top 4

I don't think [Lost March is] the new Night March as some people say. For one thing, the deck poorly handles anything that uses spread damage, such as Tapu Koko, Shining Arceus, and Spell Tag. The low HP of the deck's attackers hurts when playing against Buzzwole-GX and Giratina. While you can trade OHKOs, Spell Tag or double KOs with Alolan Ninetales-GX, Buzzwole-GX, or Decidueye-GX simply kills the deck and I don't think adding Machoke fills that gaping hole.

Going into the SUM-LOT format I think Malamar/Giratina will be the strongest deck and therefore I would only consider Lost March a tier 2 deck. You can look at the Japan Champion's League results to see that the deck didn't perform too well.

The deck is...nothing like the OG Night March.

Peter Kica
Top4Tier Gaming; 2x Regional Top 32 this season; the game's best-known Night March player

Lost March sucks.

It's extremely weak to spread attackers, such as Tapu Koko. It folds to gust effects like Lycanroc-GX's because you need to set up Stage 1s to boost damage.

The deck is not as fast as Night March and takes a bunch of setup.

Unless new [cards] buff it or new innovation on how to play the deck presents itself, the current iteration made popular by Japan is very lackluster and lacks both firepower and consistency. I'd classify it as Tier 3 because it can't even beat Tier 2 decks.

Frank Percic
Team DDG; 2x Regional Top 64 this season

I think the problem with Lost March right now is that without something like Shaymin-EX [in the format] it may be a little slower to get going than Night March. The deck needs a lot of pieces to get moving. The odds that you have Pokémon in hand for Lost Blender are kind of slim given all the other pieces you need for the deck to work. Another problem is your Hoppip getting KOd before you can evolve them to Jumpluff even with Skiploom's Ability. This all ties back to the weaker draw power in the format right now. I'm interested to see what cards [Lost March players] will use to draw through their deck.

I think the inherent ability to take big hits with a one-Prize attacker will propel the deck to Tier 2, but it'll never be what Night March was. That being said, Night March wasn't good until Shaymin-EX came out, and even then it needed Puzzle of Time to really dominate.

I think maybe with Shrine of Punishment, Lost March can supplement its damage output, but other one-Prize decks can still keep up with it in the Prize trade and take advantage of not being Stage 2-focused like Jumpluff.

I think that Trumbeak is really good, and can be used in a lot of other decks.

I'm not worried about Lost March because I'm just gonna slap down a Shuckle-GX and call it a day. 

2018 Lille SPE: Day 2 Players & Decks

Below are the players who achieved 19 or more Match Points to advance to Day 2 of the 2018 Lille SPE. Decks are being added as we continue to receive information. 

  1. Philipp Emmerich
  2. Miloslav Posledni
  3. Friedrich Illbruck
  4. Pedro Eugenio Torres, Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX
  5. Marco Garcia
  6. Karl Peters
  7. Patrick Landis, Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX
  8. Julien Cretenoud
  9. Karl Blake
  10. Michael Pustrowski
  11. Martin Guilbert, Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX/Swampert
  12. Michael Freimuth
  13. Sen Caubergh
  14. Tamao Cameron, Malamar/Psychic
  15. Fabien Pujol, Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX/Swampert
  16. Petr Janouš
  17. Abdallah Khenissi, Solgaleo-GX
  18. Oliver Elwick
  19. Owyn Kamerman
  20. Joe Bernard, Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX
  21. Nico Alabas, Malamar/Psychic
  22. Cédric Gouin, Malamar/Psychic
  23. Vianney Leroy, Malamar/Psychic
  24. Rory Licken, Sylveon-GX
  25. Ӧjvind Svinhufvud
  26. Gabor Van Meenen
  27. Raz Wolpe
  28. Luke Kirkham
  29. Jack Gregory-Campbell
  30. Simon Jouanolou, Metagross-GX
  31. Stéphane Ivanoff, Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX
  32. Martin Janouš
  33. Patrik Holler
  34. Paul Stringer, Vikavolt/Rayquaza-GX

2018 Portland Regionals: Day 2 Players & Decks

Below are the players who achieved 19 or more Match Points to advance to Day 2 of the 2018 Portland Regional Championships. Decks are being added as we continue to receive information. 
  1. Joe Ruettiger, 8-0-1 - Zoroark-GX Control
  2. Franco Llamas III, 7-0-2 - Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
  3. Tristan Pisani-Blair, 7-1-1
  4. Jimmy Pendarvis, 7-1-1 - Zoroark-GX Control
  5. Alexander McNeill, 7-1-1 - Drampa-GX/Garbodor
  6. Aaron Friedman, 7-1-1 - Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
  7. Nico Gist, 7-1-1 - Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
  8. Sascha Rogge, 7-1-1 - Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
  9. Isaiah Williams, 6-0-3 - Zoroark-GX Control
  10. Kenny Britton, 6-0-3
  11. Aaron Tarbell, 7-2-0 - Trevenant BREAK
  12. Christopher Schemanske, 7-2-0 - Trevenant BREAK
  13. Sam Chen, 6-1-2 - Archie's Blastoise
  14. Stefan Tabaco, 6-1-2 - Sableye/Garbodor
  15. Lance Bradshaw, 6-1-2
  16. Cory Dickman, 6-1-2
  17. Andrew Jones, 6-1-2
  18. Austin Ellis, 6-1-2 - Fighting Toolbox
  19. Drue Townsend, 6-1-2
  20. John O'Donald, 6-1-2
  21. Daniel Collens, 6-1-2 - Zygarde-GX/Lycanroc-GX
  22. Jay Lesage, 5-0-4 - Trevenant BREAK
  23. Pearce Blend, 5-0-4 - Archie's Blastoise
  24. Zakaria Aossey, 6-2-1 - Trevenant BREAK
  25. Peter Kica, 6-2-1 - Night March
  26. Caleb Gedemer, 6-2-1 - Zoroark-GX Control
  27. Mark Garcia, 6-2-1
  28. Manuel Jorach, 6-2-1 - Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor
  29. Joe Sanchez, 6-2-1 - Primal Groudon-EX
  30. Kevyn Tibbot, 6-2-1 - Rayquaza-GX
  31. Zachary Everest, 6-2-1 - Archie's Blastoise
  32. Azul Garcia Griego, 5-0-4
  33. Connor Pederson, 6-2-1 - Night March
  34. Kyle Rivera, 6-2-1
  35. DeAndre Holmes, 6-2-1
  36. Danyell Segoviano, 6-2-1 - Trevenant BREAK
  37. Padraic McSwain, 6-2-1
  38. Ian Robb, 6-2-1
  39. Landen Kaetler, 6-2-1 - Sylveon-GX
  40. Polo Le, 6-2-1
  41. Ahmad Akhrass, 6-2-1 - Zoroark-GX Control
  42. Rahul Reddy, 6-2-1 - Vespiquen
  43. Daniel Rattay, 6-2-1 - Sylveon-GX
  44. Brian Miller, 6-2-1 - Sableye/Garbodor
  45. Kevin Abernathy, 6-2-1
  46. Edan Lewis, 6-2-1 - Alolan Exeggutor
  47. Michael Pramawat, 6-2-1

2018 Portland Regionals: Top Players' Decks

Sam Chen - Archie's Blastoise
Jonathan Crespo - Wailord-EX
Austin Ellis - Fighting Toolbox
Connor Finton - Vespiquen
Caleb Gedemer - Zoroark-GX Control
Drew Kennett - Aerodactyl/Maxie's
Jay Lesage - Trevenant BREAK
Zach Lesage - Trevenant BREAK
Kyle Lesniewicz - Sylveon-GX
Grant Manley - Night March
Jose Marrero - Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
Rahul Reddy - Vespiquen
Joey Ruettiger - Zoroark-GX Control
Christopher Schemanske - Trevenant BREAK
Aaron Tarbell - Trevenant BREAK
Jacob Van Wagner - Archie's Blastoise
Andrew Wamboldt - Alolan Exeggutor
Isaiah Williams - Zoroark-GX Control

  • Connor Finton and Rahul Reddy are playing the same 60. 
  • Zoroark-GX Control players have added techs such as Seismitoad-EX, Trick Shovel, and Plasma Blast fossil Pokémon (Archen, Lileep, Tirtouga--preventing the user from decking out). 

Portland Pregame: The Early 2018-19 Expanded Meta and Stats & Stories For This Weekend

✏ Tate Whitesell | @twhitesell42

This weekend's Portland Regionals marks not only the first major Expanded tournament of the 2018-19 season, but the first major Expanded event since...May 26th, when Xander Pero won Roanoke Regionals with Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX.

Much has changed since then. Two new sets--Celestial Storm and Dragon Majesty--have been released, and perhaps more importantly, four cards have been banned from the Expanded format: Ghetsis, Hex Maniac, Puzzle of Time, and Wally. Suddenly, Trevenant XY can no longer hit the field on turn 1 (Wally), DCE decks like Zoroark-GX and Night March lose an important resource recovery card (Puzzle), Ability-centered decks can play the game again (Hex), and Item-heavy combo decks can't have their hand stripped to zero on turn 1 (Ghetsis). Needless to say, this has opened up Expanded and a huge amount of decks both old and new are expected to be viable for Portland.

2018-19 Expanded League Cups
In an effort to make some sense out of this unknown metagame, I turned to the League Cup data here on PokéStats (pretty neat how that works out). For the Standard format, Cup data has historically been a decent predictor of what the meta will look like at upcoming events. For Expanded, however, Cup data is less useful, for two reasons: 1) stores run far fewer Expanded Cups than Standard Cups, and 2) attendance at Expanded Cups is generally significantly lower than at Standard Cups. But it certainly can't hurt to at least attempt to find some patterns in this season's Expanded Cup results. The table below shows all decks that have made Top Cut of an Expanded League Cup in PokéStats's database since the start of the 2018-19 season. (While this covers two different formats, SUM-CES and SUM-DRM, Dragon Majesty did very little to affect Expanded; the biggest change seems to be the addition of Kingdra-GX to Archie's Blastoise.)

A contender or just convenient?
While I generally dislike tier lists as a method of analysis, if these decks were to be placed into tiers based on CP earnings, Buzzwole/Garbodor/Shrine probably stands alone in tier 1, with Trevenant, Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX, and Garbodor Toolbox making up tier 2. Those tier 2 decks have been, in my view, three of the five most-hyped decks for Portland, with the other two being Zoroark-GX/Garbodor and Archie's Blastoise. I have seen much less hype for Shrine decks; the explanation for that archetype's success at Cups is probably just that the deck is built very similarly in both formats, so players without many Expanded cards could simply port over their Standard list with a few changes and still do well.

Zoroark-GX decks are probably underrepresented here. Players likely struggled with building an optimal Zoroark-GX list after losing Ghetsis, Hex, and Puzzle. This lack of Zoroark-GX is probably part of what opened the door for Trevenant to perform so well.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX was the last deck to win a major Expanded event and is a pretty strong deck in a vacuum due to its sheer power and flexibility. The Dimension Valley-focused toolbox-style build of Garbodor, with Necrozma-GX, Mimikyu, Tapu Lele SM45, and more, is another strong deck in an open meta.

Although Eelektrik has had a fairly decent showing (with a new partner in Rayquaza-GX), I was somewhat surprised to see the other two big Ability-based Energy-acceleration decks, Bronzong and Malamar, completely (the former) or almost (the latter) absent from these data. While Hex Maniac was in the meta, these decks could be completely shut down, but intuition suggests they should be strong in the post-Hex meta. That hasn't apparently been the case so far this season, and these types of decks are one of the things I'm most curious to look for in Portland.

The last deck I want to touch on here is Donphan. Last season, this deck saw only two Day 2 placements during the whole season: Toby Woolner's 9th at Stuttgart Regionals, and Daniel Altavilla's 29th at Salt Lake City Regionals. Yesterday, however, Azul Garcia Griego tweeted a picture of Donphan with no caption. The 👀 emoji was probably implied.

Maybe Azul is trolling or giving some fake hype to Donphan, but maybe he's not. It's definitely a deck that fits the trend of a once-strong, now-forgotten archetype (the card is six years old!) that could find success again through a combination of the banlist updates and newly released cards. Jimmy Pendarvis responded to Azul's tweet with "this doesn't look like the thing we agreed to submit," but another player who finished Top 16 in North America last season and is chasing it again this season has told me
that Donphan "has been testing extremely well" for him.

PokéStats Quick Question: Zoroark-GX
I'd like to implement a "Quick Question" feature here or on our Twitter, in which I ask some top players a reader-submitted question that might be beyond the scope of PokéStats's data (or my personal knowledge of the game), and this is as good a place to start as any. From our Discord server, triplemo8804 asks, "What is the best Zoroark-GX variant for Portland?"
Responses edited slightly for clarity. 

Russell LaParre says: "It's by far Zoroark-GX/Garbodor."

Zach Lesage says: "Zoroark-GX/Garbodor, because it is the most flexible."

Travis Nunlist says: "Probably Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, because it can do the most damage and most broken things in a single turn."

Halloween Grab Bag
Here are a few more stats, storylines, and trivia to chew on for this weekend's tournament. (None of them taste quite as good as banana Laffy Taffy.)
  • Registration for Portland has surpassed 500 Masters as of my last count. The 2018 Portland Regionals featured only 469 Masters; it was played in the Standard format. 
  • Last year's 13th-ranked CP earner in North America, Christopher Schemanske, will be playing in his first tournament since the 2018 World Championships. Schemanske is focusing this season on judging and running SixPrizes and has said he's not sure if he's chasing a 2019 Worlds invite. 
  • Here's your roundup of rogue decks that you probably won't see in Day 2 in Portland, but can't rule out entirely, because hey, some article site wrote about 'em. 
  • If the Worlds invite requirement is unchanged from last year--400 CP--Daniel Altavilla, Caleb Gedemer, and James Taylor can clinch their invite by earning any amount of CP (i.e., placing Top 128 or better) in Portland, Alex Schemanske can clinch it with a Top 32, and if they were going, Rukan Shao and JW Kriewall could secure it with a Top 8. If the invite requirement increases to 500 CP, Altavilla, Gedemer, and Taylor could still clinch by making Top 4 or better, and Kriewall, Schemanske, and Shao could nab their invites by winning the tournament.