São Paulo, Brazil, was the location of the third of four International Championships in the 2017 season, attracting competitors from all over the globe. More than 600 Pokémon TCG Masters Division players competed for the title of Latin American International Champion, which included a $10,000 grand prize and 550 Championship Points—enough to automatically qualify for the 2017 World Championships. The four highest-ranked players from the North America, Europe, Latin America, and Oceania rating zones all received a Travel Award to São Paulo, meaning the best of the best were in attendance. With these great players came an impressive variety of winning decks and strategies. Read on as we break down the exciting action from Brazil.
Decidueye-GX Dominates Again
At the Oceania International Championships, Decidueye-GX with Forest of Giant Plants and Vileplume was the overwhelmingly dominant deck. Ten of the Top 32 players were using this Grass-type combination, and five of the Top 8 players were using Decidueye-GX. The big question was whether this strategy would continue its momentum into Latin American Internationals, and the answer was a resounding yes. This time, 11 of the Top 32 players were using Decidueye-GX with Vileplume, including four of the Top 8 players.
Players haven’t found a reliable solution to deal with this deck, and it continues to evolve slightly to stay ahead of any potential challengers. Argentina’s Diego Cassiraga and Connor Finton from the USA had success with a standard, straightforward version of the deck, but others are progressing the strategy even further with innovative ideas. Runner-up Thiago Giovannetti from Brazil included a small line of Yanmega, likely as a counter against the disruptive Lapras-GX decks. Those decks can give the Decidueye deck trouble by constantly discarding its Energy with Team Flare Grunt, but Yanmega can attack with no Energy attached thanks to its Sonic Vision Ability.
Chilean player Juan Pablo Salas used Decidueye-GX with Vileplume to become the first-ever Latin American International Champion, and he did it with a few surprises. Instead of using Grass Energy, he opted to use Rainbow Energy along with Jolteon-EX and Regice. Jolteon-EX’s Flash Ray attack is very powerful against decks such as Volcanion-EX and Darkrai-EX, both of which typically use only Basic Pokémon. Regice’s Resistance Blizzard tends to be effective against those decks as well, but it’s also disruptive against decks that use Mega Evolution Pokémon. These slight tweaks made potentially poor matchups into good ones and made the Decidueye deck even more difficult to counter.
The Rest of the Field
Decidueye decks were the talk of the town, but they weren’t the only decks that found success. The rest of the Top 8 was rounded out by three other decks: two Volcanion-EX decks, a Mega Rayquaza-EX, and a Darkrai-EX deck. These are all decks that have had performed admirably throughout the 2017 Play! Pokémon season, so it was no surprise to see them come out on top again. Many other decks made it into the Top 32 as well, including Vespiquen, Mega Mewtwo-EX, Yveltal-EX, and Gyarados. Even though Decidueye-GX was dominant, nearly two-thirds of the Top 32 players did not use it, meaning there are still plenty of options out there.
With the third International Championships in the books, it’s interesting to note the players who have done well in multiple events. Some players have made the Top 8 at multiple International Championships events, such as the Oceania International Champion, Spain’s Pedro Eugenio Torres. But only two Masters Division players have managed to make the Top 32 in all three events: Chile’s Javier Gamboa and Germany’s Philip Schulz. In a strange twist of fate, both players faced off in the final Swiss round at Latin American Internationals, with Philip winning and advancing to the Top 8. He now holds the honor of being the only player to make the Top 32 at all three International Championships events—and to make the Top 8 multiple times.
In the Junior and Senior Divisions, a total of eight players have made it to the Top 8 at two different International Championships. Two incredible players have made the Top 8 at all three events: USA’s Regan Retzloff in the Junior Division and Canada’s Michael Long in the Senior Division. Each of these players also won the Oceania event in their division. But only one player has won two International Championships: Germany’s Kaya Lichtleitner in the Junior Division. With victories in Europe and Latin America, she stands out as a superstar player in the Junior Division, and she’ll be a player to watch for at the 2017 Pokémon TCG World Championships.
With Latin America in the rearview mirror, the march towards the North American International Championships begins. The Sun & Moon—Guardians Rising expansion is here, and it’s sure to shake things up. What strategies will reign supreme at the final International Championships event of the season? Check back at Pokemon.com/strategy to stay updated!