It was a momentous weekend for Pokemon TCG player Piper Lepine, and fans of the Fire-Type Kanto starter, as the player from Minnesota won the Baltimore Pokemon TCG Masters Division Regional Championship with a deck featuring the fan-favorite Charizard. And this wasn’t just any Charizard. It was the new Radiant Charizard from the Pokemon GO set sporting artwork of the fire lizard in its shiny form.
The tournament was the largest regional tournament in the history of the modern era for Pokemon with 1091 players. It spanned 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 of conceding to an opponent knowing she’d still make it into the Top 8 playoffs. Her final 12-3-0 record made her the second seed going into top cut and from there she blazed a path directly to the crown, not dropping a single game in any of her best of three matches. Along with the first place medal Lepine’s prizes included three booster boxes and $5,000.
Wow. I am speechless. This weekend was crazy, thank you to everyone for the support especially @noahlesak @JakobF27766905 Mikey, Iain, Andrew, Bodhi, and Alex and Gamerelated. 1st place at the largest regionals ever? Deck was insane, wouldn't change anything. pic.twitter.com/a0sjfKORK8
— Piper Lepine (@piperlepine) September 19, 2022
Though Charizard cards are pricey collectors’ items, they usually aren’t very good in the game because despite their high damage output they have prohibitively expensive attacks. That trend has changed in recent years, with Reshiram & Charizard GX proving to be one of the best Tag Team Pokemon and finding a place in many tournament-winning decks. But now Radiant Charizard may have cemented itself as the best solo Charizard card ever printed.
Radiant Pokemon are so strong that players may only include one in their deck. Radiant Charizard’s power level is clear when you look at its huge attack number 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 is reduced by one Colorless Energy for each Prize card the opponent has taken. That means that after going down a few Prizes, Charizard can start swinging for huge numbers with the help of Twin Energy or Energy-acceleration cards such as Raihan and Magma Basin, and by the end of the game, it can attack for just a single Fire Energy.
Most decks play two-Prize Pokemon V with up to 220 HP and Pokemon VStar with up to 280 HP, so with the help of Choice Band (which adds +30 damage) Radiant Charizard can knock them all out in one hit. The three-Prize Pokemon VMAX have up to 330 HP, a bit out of Charziard’s OHKO range, which is why the deck uses Inteleon to soften up targets before bringing 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 continually swing for big damage turn after turn. Inteleon and Drizzile’s Shady Dealings Ability is the foundation of the deck’s strategy, allowing the player to hand pick key cards out of the deck to repeatedly pull off the combo. This strategy can falter if the opponent disrupts 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 rally back and take the dub.
For more insight on Lepine’s deck, check out the recent Lage of Rage Pokemon TCG podcast episode where she appeared as a guest and explained her strategic thinking going into the tournament.
If you want to learn to play the Pokemon TCG, or are returning after a long time, check out our video with special guest Keith Habersberger where we teach you how to play.