Shiny Charizard wins the biggest regional Pokémon tournament ever

It was a momentous weekend for Pokemon TCG player Piper Lepine and fans of the Fire-Type Kanto starter when the Minnesota player won the Baltimore Pokemon TCG Masters Division Regional Championship with a deck featuring fan-favorite Charizard. And this wasn’t just any Charizard. It was the new Radiant Charizard from the Pokemon GO set, featuring artwork of the fire lizard in its shiny form.

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The tournament was the largest regional tournament in modern Pokémon history, with 1,091 players. It lasted two days and saw Lepine dominate the Swiss rounds with her Inteleon/Charizard deck to the point where her record was so strong that she had the luxury collect opponents knowing she would still make the top 8 in the playoffs. Her most recent 12-3-0 record made her the second seed to go in the top cut, and from there she carved her way straight to the crown, not missing a single in any of her best-of-three matches game lost. In addition to the first place medal, Lepine’s prizes included three booster boxes and $5,000.

Although Charizard cards are expensive collectibles, they typically don’t do very well in game, having prohibitively expensive attacks despite their high damage output. That trend has changed in recent years, with Reshiram & Charizard GX proving to be one of the best tag team Pokemon, earning a spot in many tournament-winning decks. But now Radiant Charizard has established itself as possibly the best Charizard solo card ever printed.

Radiant Pokémon are so powerful that players can only include one in their deck. Radiant Charizard’s power level becomes clear when you look at its massive attack count and game swinging ability. Its Combustion Blast attack does 250 damage for the cost of one Fire Energy and four Colorless Energy, which would normally be prohibitively expensive (sound familiar?), but thanks to its Excited Heart ability, the cost drops by one Colorless Energy reduced for each prize card the opponent took. This means that after losing a few prizes, Charizard can swing for huge numbers with the help of twin energy or energy boost cards like Raihan and Magma Basin and attack at the end of the game for just a single Fire Energy.

Most decks play dual price Pokémon V with up to 220 HP and Pokémon VStar with up to 280 HP, so Radiant Charizard can use Choice Band (which adds +30 damage) to knock them all out in one hit. The three-prize Pokemon VMAX has up to 330 HP, just outside of Charziard’s OHKO range, so the deck uses Inteleon to soften targets before calling in Charizard to clean things up.

Radiant Charizard’s 160 HP is low in comparison, and usually opponents will knock it out in one hit, but with Klara and Ordinary Rod in the deck, it can easily be recycled multiple times, allowing a player to consistently deal great damage turn after turn. Inteleon and Drizzile’s Shady Deals ability is the foundation of the deck’s strategy, allowing the player to draw key cards from the deck to repeatedly pull the combo. This strategy can falter if the opponent interrupts the Radiant Charizard player’s hand, but no matter how many times her opponents played Marnie, Lepine was always able to find a way to recover and close the dub take over.

For more insight into Lepine’s deck, see the last few Lage of Rage Pokemon TCG Podcast Episode where she appeared as a guest and explained her strategic thinking ahead of the tournament.

If you’re looking to learn to play the Pokémon TCG or are coming back after a long time, check out our video with special guest Keith Habersberger as we teach you how to play. Shiny Charizard wins the biggest regional Pokémon tournament ever

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