Alola! It has been some time since I have last written a tournament report. I just haven’t had the time, and for that, I apologize. However, this holiday break has given me a chance to play through Pokémon Sun again, practice the TCG, and write some of The Magnus Chronicle. But you, dear reader, are not here to listen to my shameless self-promotion. No! You are here for my Tapu Koko GX list and how I made Top 8 at a League Cup with it.
Note; This is a community article. Pokéspot does not necessarily share any opinion nor do we back up any statement made within this article.
Tapu Koko GX
I play a full set of these because they are the main attackers of the deck. Sky-High Claws is the perfect number to two-shot everything in the format. Unfortunately, it is a hard number to add damage to. With a Fighting Fury Belt it can only reach 140, and with a Choice Band it reaches 160. This main attack was not made to one-shot any GX/EX Pokemon. Tapu Thunder GX is a great finishing move that good players are forced to play around. This usually means that your opponent will not have more than one Pokemon set up at a time, as four energy on the board translates to 200 damage coming out from a (usually) fresh Tapu Koko GX. The Ability, Aero Trail, is what makes the deck tick. It is what makes the two-shots viable, and the deck is built to abuse it.
Tapu Koko Promo
The baby version of Tapu Koko has several functions in this deck. The zero retreat cost gives the deck more mobility, 20 spread with Flying Flip is a good way to start the game, and the card is a solid Max Elixir target.
This card is in here for several similar reasons as baby Koko. It’s a good Elixir target, boasts free retreat, and if a deck with only basics is roaming around Jolteon can put in work. The last example is pretty rare, however. The math with Swift is good as well. If you start with it, on turn one you can poke for 30, and barring a miss on an Elixir, a turn two Koko with a Belt or Band attached can swing at the range of 170-190, which takes out a significant swath of starting Pokemon.
Tapu Lele GX
Standard count of Tapu Lele GX to get the deck up and running. Can serve as a Max Elixir target or attacker in a pinch.
While it wasn’t entirely useful during the tournament, it has been useful in the past and can draw you out of Ns to one or two, or allow you to draw cards while playing a non-draw Supporter, like Lusamine or Acerola.
Standard counts for getting set up and drawing cards throughout the game. Guzma allows for solid plays on Pokemon with 20-40 damage and 170-180 HP, namely Lele. If you Flying Flip early in the game onto an opponent’s Lele, you can knock it out with a Guzma into Aero Trail and a Choice Band attachment later in the game.
I play four Acerola because you want at least one in your hand at pretty much all points of the game. Aero Trail makes the deck run and you want to abuse it as much as possible.
Not gonna lie: I hadn’t played the list with Lusamine before the tournament, but I really like it. It gives you five Acerolas throughout the game if you time it right, and the same can be said for a fourth Guzma. Lusamine allowed me to set up many plays in the late game and saved me from a few bad Ns in the early game.
Rescue Stretcher/Super Rod
The Rescue Stretcher count is pretty standard, but Super Rod isn’t seeing as much play. Super Rod is important in this deck because it keeps the energy flowing when a Tapu Koko GX gets knocked out. Keeping a lot of energy on the board is really important with this deck and Super Rod allows us to recover it. One sneaky trick with Rescue Stretcher is you can discard a Koko GX early and fish it out with Rescue Stretcher later if you don’t have access to the Acerola or Super Scoop up.
As stated before, you have to keep the energy flowing in this deck. Elixir allows you to attach multiple energy per turn, and increases your chances of a turn one or two attack with a Koko GX. If you want to reduce it from a full suite, you could probably go down to three, but I wouldn’t go below that.
Super Scoop Up
Definitely don’t go below a full suite of these. They let you pick up Pokemon at item speed, which means you can play a draw Supporter or Guzma instead of Acerola for the turn.
Fighting Fury Belt/Choice Band
FFB gives you longevity. At 170 HP, Koko GX is not very bulky. With belt and Aether Paradise Conservation Area, Tapu Koko has an effective 240 HP. This allows you to play the two hit KO game better. Choice Band helps make the numbers better when combined with Flying Flip. Like I said earlier, a Flying Flip on a Lele and a Banded Sky-High Claws is a knockout. This can swing momentum in your favor. Choice Band makes Tapu Thunder hit better numbers too. With a Band, three energy on your opponent’s field hits for 180, and four hits for 230. These are relevant numbers versus Gardy and Bulu.
Standard playset is standard. Do yourself a favor and don’t discard your Ultra Balls with Ultra Ball if you can help it. You need these throughout the entire game to get Leles, start your set up with baby Koko, and retrieve Koko GXs that have been shuffled in.
Aether Paradise Conservation Area (APCA)
This further increases your longevity, but you do not need this card on the field all the time. You only need it when you anticipate a huge attack from your opponent on the following turn. Don’t forget that this card is a Lusamine target.
I play 12 because I really hate missing Max Elixir. I have found that 11 works, and I wouldn’t fault you if you brought it down to ten. But for me, if I don’t need Special Energy and I’m playing Elixir, I try to fit 12. This number is also good to basically never miss a hand attachment, which is also very important for this deck.
The game plan
The ideal starter is baby Koko or Jolteon. Try to get a Flying Flip or Swift in. You want to find some sort of Elixir target on your first turn as well, so Tapu Koko GX can steal its energy with Aero Trail. Sometimes you start a Koko GX, and this is okay, you should attach one energy to it, then try to attach to the Bench if you can. You want to rush your opponent’s smaller Pokemon down. If it all goes right, you should have two knockouts on stuff like Ralts or Rockruff by turn three, when they start really stabilizing. It is at this point you should switch to the mid-game strategy.
This is where Acerola and Super Scoop Up really shine. Hopefully by now you have two Tapu Koko GX somewhere in play. Try to always leave a Bench spot open for a third in case you can’t find a scoop up card. Loop with these scooping cards until your opponent succumbs to the onslaught or they persist to the late game. You want to be building your hand at this point. Play Sycamore to draw back up after Ns from your opponent. Don’t play your Sycamores unnecessarily, however. If you have seven or more cards in your hand, don’t play Sycamore–unless you really need to see something for your next turn. Take this opportunity to Lusamine for an APCA, Guzma, or Acerola. At this stage your opponent might get sloppy and attach too many energy to something. Feel free to Guzma an important piece out and smite it with Tapu Thunder GX.
This is where you capitalize on the KOs you may have set up earlier. Guzma those buggers out and win the game.
Lycanroc variants: Tough to Even
Lycanroc GX can be very annoying if you can’t find enough scoop up cards because they can take advantage of damaged Koko GXs on the Bench. The trick is to follow the standard gameplan with a heavy emphasis on the beginning rush. If you can’t, try to get in two Flying Flip to bring their Pokemon into Choice Band+Sky-High Claws range. Be careful of Dangerous Rogue GX as well. The trick to winning this matchup is to manage the board state well.
Gardy variants: Even to Favorable
Once again, you want to rush them down. Max Potion variants are tougher because they don’t need to attach as much energy but you have more longevity. Try to keep Fighting Fury Belt and APCA in play while attacking because it isn’t very difficult for a Gardy to load up three energy. Force them to have that Field Blower in the late game.
Metal Silvally: Favorable
They have no way to one shot you without loading up a Genesect EX. If they try to do that, Tapu Thunder GX that cyborg bug and carry on with the stomp fest. APCA stops Registeel from doing chip damage to you, and Koko GX one shots it.
Greninja: Terrible to Tough
All you can do is hope they brick and rush them down before the Frogadiers come out. After a Greninja establishes itself, it gets tough because they can Shadow Stitch and turn off your abilities. The one plus in this match up is that you one shot the whole line except for Greninja BREAK.
Garbodor variants: Tough to Even
This deck necessarily plays a lot of items (hence the title). Luckily it’s been seeing less play (again, hence the title). If you can avoid discarding items, can contend with whatever GX partner the variant plays, and avoid ability lock, you can win the game. This does not happen very often.
Golisopod variants (except the Garbodor one): Even to Favorable
In general, you do what they do except you do it better. Tapu Koko GX’s attack does not need to fulfill a requirement other than the energy cost and you have access to more scooping cards. If you can find a way to break their chain, do it.
Bulu/Vikavolt: Tough to Favorable
Much depends on how the Bulu player draws. Definitely approach with aggression to take out the Grubbins before they become Vikavolts. Then they have to manually attach to their Bulus in order to attack with them. When they get the chance to attack, try to make sure you have a Fighting Fury Belt attached to your active and APCA in play so they can’t one-shot you with Nature’s Judgement. If you can in the early game, try to get a Flying Flip in as it makes the math much easier against everything.
Mill Decks: Tough to Even
It depends on the type of mill deck. If it is Quad Wobb, try to develop a Koko GX early on. The GX can one shot the Wobbs and you just have to pray that the hammers miss. If it is Wishiwashi GX, it will avoid playing the Wishiwashi and instead go for Shining Legends Hoopa. When facing one of these, try to develop a baby Koko. It can two-shot with Electric Ball. If there is another Hoopa on the Bench, use Flying Flip first to set up the next KO. Playing against these mill decks requires some thinking, figuring out how to interrupt their chains, and lots of luck.
Now that I am done talking about how you should probably play the deck, I’m going to talk about how I played the deck at a League Cup in Mount Vernon. 37 Masters played in the tournament. In general, there was a lot of Lycanroc and Gardy, but two mill decks (as far as I know) made it into Top 16. We cut to 8.
Round 1 vs Quad Wobb with Hoopa
I started well and was able to develop a Tapu Koko GX, which took out two of his Wobbs. He tried holding me down with Hoopa, but by then I had established a baby Koko and was able to do enough damage with it to make him concede.
Round 2 vs Buzzwole/Lycanroc
I started well again and was able to chain a few Koko together but it fell apart when I ran out of energy and I couldn’t find Acerola or Super Scoop Up in time, even though all of them were in my deck.
Round 3 vs Gardy
He started slow and I started quickly enough to run him over. At one point he developed three energy on a Kirlia and I knocked that out. He barely got an attack off that game and I felt sorta bad because dead drawing sucks. It’s part of the game, though, and I had my turn the round previous.
Round 4 vs Metal Silvally
We both stabilized fairly quickly, but as I said in my matchup analysis, Tapu Koko has the tools to play the two shot game better than them, so I won. Targeting his Silvallys was important because it limited his mobility. With this win I knew I was in contention for Top 8, so I started to get excited. Then I reminded myself to calm down. I still had one more round to maybe play before I could say I was in Top 8.
Round 5 vs ID
I sat down across from my opponent and we discussed the viability of IDing. I don’t quite know the science but knew he had a stake in getting the estimate correct, since he was a lower rank than me at that point. In the end we decided that we should be fine if we ID, so that’s what we did. Afterwards he revealed that he was playing Greninja, which made me even more relieved that we ID’d because it’s a rough matchup, and I’d rather take the guaranteed point over the potential loss if we played.
Top 8 at 7th seed vs Wishiwashi Mill
I don’t think I could have hit a worse matchup (other than Greninja). The deck played at least two Hoopa, and I started Lele both games. I had no chance. I tried attacking with both Jolteon and baby Koko, but I couldn’t keep energy on the Koko and Jolteon didn’t do enough damage. Rather than waste our time, I conceded both matches to him after he proved to me that he could keep up his loop.
Possible list changes
-1 Jolteon EX
+1 Raikou Shining Legends
Jolteon didn’t really put in work like I hoped it would. Raikou has a similar damage output, and can get through Safeguard effects while accelerating energy. It makes the deck more resilient to energy denial and it aids in hitting the turn two Koko GX. The only downside is that Raikou has one retreat cost, so it’s harder to switch into with Guzma.
-1 Lightning Energy
I’ve played the deck with 11 energy before, and while I think 12 is better for hitting Elixirs, it’s important to grab those Elixirs early game without discarding too many resources. 11 energy is sufficient and N lets me shuffle scooping cards back in.
I got nothing out of my packs, but I still had a ton of fun making Top 8 with my favorite deck, and many people complimented me on it throughout the tournament. I want to thank my opponents for being awesome, and the tournament organizer for putting everything together.
Thanks for reading my article. Please feel free to message me or comment if you have any questions. Until next time!