Hello fellow 6P readers! I’m back from the utter madness that was Seattle Regionals. The adventure included a bubble 33rd place at the tournament, eating my own weight in delicious seafood with great company, and then a travel mishap in Atlanta.
Before Seattle Regionals, we had one weekend of League Cups and a Special Event in Italy that gave us a glimpse of how Guardians Rising was about to turn the Standard format upside down. We saw Garbodor dominate the Special Event and a resurgence from Gyarados and Greninja. Finally, we had sporadic mentions of Alolan Ninetales-GX, Sylveon-GX, and Lycanroc-GX all earning points across the globe. I even contributed to this with an undefeated run at a League Cup with Sylveon.
With Guardians Rising only being legal for a day and no previous tournaments held, I figured Sylveon-GX would be a great choice for that tournament solely based on the fact that people would misplay against it. I was counting on my opponents not really knowing how to play perfectly against such a deck and punishing sub-optimal plays with Delinquent, Team Skull Grunt and Team Flare Grunt.
Below is the list I used to win the League Cup, however I will only talk about why I wouldn’t use this deck again in the foreseeable future:
Pokémon – 8
Trainers – 39
Energy – 13
As I mentioned before, I chose this deck because I knew I’d be able to capitalize on misplays every round and it happened just like that. My opponents would play into Delinquents, they would try to avoid Team Flare Grunt, and thus hold energy, only to be punished by a Team Skull Grunt or a Plea-GX by Sylveon. As rounds went by, though, and I got to finals, my opponent had finally figured out how to combat the myriad of Grunts in my deck, to not overbench with Lysandre targets and would always “Delinquent-proof” his hand in order to avoid big losses of resources. I still managed to win, but with decks adapting to Garbodor with less Items and more Supporters and Energy, Sylveon looks to simply become weaker as we move forward.
Setting Sights on Seattle
After a couple of weeks of testing, and analyzing what was going on in Japan as well, I settled on a Garbodor Eeveelutions list that was based off a Japanese winner from a few weeks ago. The turn 1 Energy Evolution into an Espeon-GX to hit for a possible Psybeam for 30 or 60 and Confusion seemed incredibly good to me, and testing proved it to be as good as I thought.
Against any Garbodor/Drampa-GX decks that do not have Altar of the Moone, Confusion gives you decent odds of not getting damaged at all and makes your opponents completely pass in some instances. Espeon-GX’s Psychic attack is also pretty good and Choice Band now allows it to get that extra power it needed to get 1HKOs on 170 – 180 HP Pokémon that before required a second attack to go off. Divide-GX is also pretty good to finish things off and seal off games, along with putting Gyarados decks on the back pedal if you manage to use it, as it’ll likely fetch you 2-3 Prizes on average.
I felt pretty confident going into Seattle with my list, especially after defeating my friend Tyler Ninomura 2-1 in a close match with his Drampa-GX/Garbodor list and my friend JP with Greninja. I settled on the following list for the event:
Pokémon – 22
Trainers – 26
Energy – 12
I 100% regret having run the Vaporeon, but I genuinely thought Volcanion-EX/Turtonator-GX decks would be making an appearance. However, after Round 1, they were only found at the bottom tables. Other than that, the list was as close to what I would want in hindsight. It had a very healthy energy distribution with 4 Double Colorless and 8 Psychic, consistent 4/4 and 4/3 lines of the main attackers, and 3 Tapu Lele-GX plus 1 Shaymin-EX in order to never dead-draw — in theory.
In hindsight, I would’ve dropped Vaporeon for a Hex Maniac, simply because the metagame called for it. It might’ve allowed me to have an easier time against Decidueye/Vileplume in Round 3 and also potentially stopped Energy Evolution in a mirror match.
As expected, the metagame was heavily centered around Garbodor for the most part and I was very confident in Espeon-GX’s Psybeam pulling me through vs Drampa and other Garbodor decks. I also felt good about the matchup due to my small adaptations like the 3 Lysandre and 3 VS Seeker split.
Round 1 vs M Gardevoir-EX (STS)
As she flipped over Gardevoir-EX. I knew I was in big trouble. This is probably one of the worst matchups for this deck in particular, along with Greninja. My opponent was a newer player and she made a few misplays which allowed me to win both games 1 and 2 when I normally wouldn’t have. Being dual Psychic and Fairy type means M Gardevoir-EX actually has a pretty good matchup vs Garbodor/Espeon-GX, 1HKOing everything thanks to Weakness but never getting 1HKO’d back with good Item management. Garbodor/Drampa-GX decks have a much better matchup because of Sudowoodo control and the fact that Drampa-GX can trade 2HKOs much more easily.
Round 2 vs Decidueye-GX/Vileplume (1-0-0)
Flareon was a key player in both games in this matchup, allowing me hit for good numbers with Garbodor and Espeon-GX against the big HP Decidueye-GX’s. I never saw Lugia-EX, so Jolteon wasn’t a factor, but it can certainly help. My opponent got clunky setups in the 2 games we played. Between the Items he burned and the resources he allowed me to play, by the time Vileplume was up, I was stable enough where the damage from my attacks was just too overwhelming.
Normally this matchup is good, I’d say 60/40 or better, especially vs Decidueye/Vileplume versions that didn’t change their engine to minimize the effect of Garbodor. They’re pretty much forced to use Items to set up multiple Decidueye or Vileplume, and Sycamore also hurts them. Confusion is also extremely good, as Float Stones are difficult to find/play down on multiple Pokémon, forcing your opponent to flip to even do any significant damage.
Round 3 vs Decidueye-GX/Vileplume (2-0-0)
I was feeling pretty confident after the previous round, but I was in for a surprise. In Game 1, my opponent set up Vileplume Turn 1 with an active Tapu Lele swinging with a Double Colorless which was pretty scary. Low Item usage and high HP attackers made Game 1 a very difficult match, and I struggled to stabilize throughout the whole game as my Pokémon Fan Club was prized. In the end an Olympia allowed him to keep up the tempo and I started to realize his build of Decidueye/Vileplume was very peculiar. In Game 2, he didn’t set up as quickly, but my Flareon was prized so I was never able to capitalize on the extra damage output with it, and a second Olympia — which I never expected — sealed my fate this round.
Turns out after the game, my opponent told me he only ran 10 total Item cards to control Garbodor, which I’m assuming were: 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Level Ball and 2 Revitalizer. I only saw 4 Sycamore, 4 N, 4 Lysandre and 2 Olympia from my opponent so there’s even a chance a third or 4th Olympia could’ve been in there.
Finally, my first Garbodor match of the day. This is where Espeon-GX truly shone. Between Confusion from Psybeam and just 1-shotting fully powered Drampa thanks to Psychic with a Choice Band, I was able to overwhelm my opponent by trading more efficiently and forcing scenarios where he was forced to retreat or risk Confusion flips. He actually played Altar of the Moone, which almost nullifies Espeon-GX’s Confusion. Thankfully, I was able to find my Field Blower in time to prevent it from helping out my opponent too much.
My first Garbodor/Espeon-GX mirror, except my opponent didn’t run all the Eeveelutions and had techy Supporters like Team Flare Grunt. I won Game 1 off of a better set up and good use of Confusion. Game 2, however, I was put in a favorable position where I could risk a Confusion flip to win the game but decided not to go for it. This incredibly conservative play actually ended up setting me behind as my opponent drew everything in the right order in order to mount a comeback. Game 3 I was always behind in attackers and Energy, and, at one point, had to Sycamore away 3-of my Garbodor, with the first getting discarded on turn 1, so I was ran out of attackers in the end.
This kind of mirror matches are tricky and you rely a lot on your opening hand to allow you to set up a couple of initial attackers without using too many Items. Espeon-GX almost always leads but a Trubbish using Acid Spray with a Choice Band can actually be pretty good as well.
Round 6 vs Decidueye-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX/Vileplume (3-2-0)
I was surprised at how everything seemed to flow so well for my opponent despite running that many Pokémon. I won Game 1 via surprise Flareon KO as he chose not to KO an Eevee on my bench, but Game 2 didn’t work out so well and I never even had a chance to set up the Eevee before it got sniped by Decidueye-GX+Ninetales-GX. Game 3 went to time, but I’m pretty sure that, despite me being ahead 1-5 in prizes, my opponent would’ve been able to mount a comeback with a field of 2 Ninetales, 3 Decidueye and a Vileplume with Float Stone.
This matchup felt a lot harder due to Ninetales’s extra damage output for a single DCE and its humongous HP. Yes, Decidueye/Vileplume does use up Item cards to set up, but it’s never usually close to the 12 you need to get 1HKOs on Decidueye.
Round 7 vs Garbodor/Drampa-GX (3-2-1)
This round played out very similar to Round 4 except he didn’t run Altar of the Moone, and thus Confusion was even more potent against his whole deck. Espeon-GX allowed me to control the tempo of the game and he went 2/4 on confusion flips which he was forced to go for. That extra damage he didn’t get on my Espeon’s plus the extra 30 on his attackers helped me seal up a quick Game 2.
Round 8 vs Garbodor/Drampa-GX (4-2-1)
Much to everyone’s dismay, another Garbodor match, which once again was always behind in momentum due to the lack of reliable answers to confusion. I noticed throughout the weekend that many people were still attaching their Pokémon Tool cards almost immediately, namely Choice Band. Doing this without considering things like possible need of Float Stone to not risk Confusion definitely made a difference in my matches against Drampa-GX based decks.
Round 9 vs Greninja BREAK (5-2-1)
I knew 19 points would be the bubble since the day began, and was very aware of my Round 1 opponent and how everyone I beat since 3-2-1 was essentially knocked out of the tournament. Despite this, it was impossible not hope that winning this potential win-and-in would finally advance me to Day 2 at a US Regional. I’ve lost every one of these matches this season so far at Regionals, so I was determined not to let that happen again.
Of course, once I saw my opponent playing Greninja, I saw the huge irony in how I could possibly be Knocked Out by the deck I put so much faith on at the beginning of the season. This is a terrible matchup for my deck with no Ability control and the fact that both of Espeon-GX’s main attacks are essentially useless vs Greninja due to free retreat and no energy left on them after they use Moonlight Slash.
But, as we all know too well, Greninja’s worst enemy is itself and my opponent bricked hard in the middle stages of the game after using Water Duplicates in both games 1 and 2. This allowed me to get too far ahead even with just Espeon-GX swinging for a meager 60 damage and him making sure my Garbodor never 1HKO’d his Greninja’s or BREAKs.
And with that, for the first time this season I finally had a Day 2-possible record at a US Regional! Devastatingly, it was only achieved to find out after standings were posted that I couldn’t pull off a 32nd place like I did in Australia and was bumped down to 33rd. I was very gutted at the time, but it was out of my control, and at least I finally got there. This was the last US Regional for me, so I’ll have to end this season without a Day 2 but I’m sure as long as I keep working on it, it’ll come eventually.
Moving forward, I still think this deck is a solid choice. I went a combined total of 6-0 vs Garbodor/Drampa-GX decks and only lost to an anti-Garbodor Decidueye/Vileplume and a mirror match. Other Garbodor/Espeon-GX variants did make it into Day 2, but in the end the Drampa-GX lists just proved to be too strong for the overall field.
June is an extremely exciting month for me as I have a League Cup next weekend, followed by Mexico City Regionals (which I will be bringing a preview for you guys before the event!), 2 Special Events, and then, finally, the North America International! If you guys want to follow my journey, make sure you’re following me on Twitter as I try to climb above the 1,200+ CP mark.
Thanks for reading!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.