Welcome back! My last article highlighted my potential plays for Seattle, but I have a different direction for this one today. Garbodor dominated Seattle with the highest % of decks in Day 2. 24 out of them, resulting in 75%. The previous most dominant event performance by a single archetype was Decidueye/Vileplume in Salt Lake City — there were 9 of them in Day 2, but that is nothing compared to 24. In this article, I’ll attempt to dissect the success of Garbodor, how to build your deck better, and a deck I’ve been trying that utilizes a mix between Quad Lapras and Israel Sosa’s Waterbox list.
Reflective Refraction: Shortcomings in Seattle
Going into Seattle, I knew that Garbodor would be a threat. Usually at the arrival of a new set, the meta retains itself with very little improvement. What everyone in the room found was a spew of Garbodor. I decided to go back to my roots and play M Gardevoir because its bad matchups would decline in popularity. M Rayquaza and Decidueye/Vileplume were the bad matchups before, but with Tapu Lele-GX, Decideye became an easy matchup.
Had I known how amazing and prevalent Garbodor would be, I probably would have played a different deck, or a less Item-heavy list.
Here’s how my tournament played out:
R1 Tapu Koko-GX/Rayquaza GRI (2-0)
R2 Lycanroc-GX (2-0)
R3 Vikavolt-GX (2-1)
R4 Espeon-GX/Garbodor GRI (2-0)
R5 Decidueye-GX/Vileplume AOR (2-0)
R6 M Rayquaza-EX (0-2)
R7 Drampa-GX/Garbodor GRI (0-2)
R8 Alolan Ninetales-GX/Decidueye-GX/Vileplume AOR (0-2)
R9 Concession (2-0)
The first 5 rounds were convincing victories, with the exception of my series against Chris Taporco in Round 3. We alternated games of lacking any draw support, but fortunately it happened to him twice and me only once. I don’t know how the matchup would normally play out. My 3 losses were incredibly harsh, with me gaining very little foothold in any of them. M Rayquaza is an autoloss because I opted to run Absol ROS over Sudowoodo GUR. I predicted more Gyarados than M Rayquaza, but I didn’t see any Gyarados throughout the tournament.
I lost to Kenny Wisdom in Round 7 because of the first few turns. I hadn’t drawn a M Gardevoir-EX by the first 3 turns in Game 1. He then removed both of my tools with Field Blower and I scooped the turn after. In the 2nd game I took a quick lead. However, I was forced to discard 3 Items off Professor Sycamore on the first turn. He N’d me to 2 with Garbotoxin in play by the 4th turn. My deck handed me nothing but unusable cards, resulting in my second loss.
My 8th round was incredibly short because I drew cards out of order. Alolan Ninetales-GX makes this matchup rough because of Ice Path-GX. My 9th round was a concession from Peter Kica because he already had 8 Regionals finishes and didn’t care for the packs. I was thankful to escape the possibility of no points from the weekend with a 5-0 start.
Meta Science: How Garbodor Dominated
Welcome back to the one-time segment written and created by Xander Pero. Today our meta scientist is here to prove how Garbodor dominated the format! What caused this trash to defy the previous trends? How could this happen? Will Garbodor be banned? Find out today!
Here’s my theory: Garbodor destroyed the event because many players continued to play lists inadequately equipped to deal with Garbodor. Other players ch0se to play Garbodor and capitalize on this lack of change.
This is what made up the Top 32:
- 24 Garbodor Variants
- 4 Decidueye/Vileplume Variants
- 1 Vespiquen
- 1 Waterbox
- 1 M Rayquaza-EX
- 1 Alolan Ninetales-GX
I’d argue that the M Rayquaza made cut because it didn’t hit many bad matchups. It’s a strong deck, but can’t compete with any Garbodor variant with Sudowoodo. I’d argue that the remaining 3 decks have 50-50 or positive matchups against Garbodor variants. This is true because of equal prize trades, ability to set up without the use of Items, or perfect math against it.
Vespiquen takes a good matchup to Drampa-GX because of the prize trades. Righteous Edge is great for discarding Double Colorless Energy, but can’t trade favorably against Vespiquen. Parallel City allows Vespiquen to remove Shaymin-EX and Tapu Lele-GX off the Bench. The VODs of Jeffrey Cheng vs. Tyler Ninomura and Sam Chen should be able to be viewed online to recall this matchup. The problem I see with Vespiquen moving forward is Oricorio GUR56 or Karen. One card added to any deck can tilt this matchup out of Vespiquen’s favor.
Alolan Ninetales-GX can win against Garbodor variants, most notably Drampa-GX/Garbodor, because of Beacon, 210 HP, and either consistency or healing in Brooklet Hill or Rough Seas. The deck can set up without Items, resulting in a good match once all Drampa-GX are gone. Blizzard Edge can 1HKO a Drampa-GX with a Choice Band. Knocking Out Garbodor is harder, but can happen with Ice Path-GX. I haven’t tested the other matchups of Alolan Ninetales-GX, but the deck shows some promise in the right meta.
Decidueye/Vileplume was piloted by top caliber players, but I’m surprised it did so well. I saw it win against Garbodor over the weekend, but I thought that would be a bad matchup. Righteous Edge is insane vs. the Double Colorless heavy deck. It also runs approximately 15 Items that are burned through on the first few turns. Previously, I never thought about holding back these Items, but now I understand how it can manage the matchup. 15 Items is about equal or less than the average deck.
After setting up a few Stage 2s, not much else is required. The deck also has access to Wonder Tag for N instead of being stuck with an untimely Professor Sycamore. My main concern going forward is dealing with Drampa-GX. If I were to play Decidueye/Vileplume for an upcoming tournament, I would add a Trevenant-EX or another attacker that utilizes a single Energy attachment.
Lastly, Israel Sosa piloted his Waterbox list to a Top 8 finish. I think this deck can handle Garbodor because of Collect. Trevenant/Garbodor is obviously an abysmal matchup, but I’d consider the Drampa-GX or Espeon-GX version to be favored. Waterbox runs plenty of Items, but has the 2nd out: alternate consistency. I can’t emphasize how good Collect is, both in this deck and Quad Lapras of pre-GUR. Israel’s version ran plenty of engine in Max Elixir, Aqua Patch, and Energy Switch.
In my list I cover at the end of the article I’ve opted to remove the extra forms of attachment: Energy Switch and Max Elixir. I view that this deck can operate similar to Darkrai decks before Breakpoint; they utilize Dark Patch to make precise attacks. Versions of this deck ran Crushing Hammer and Sableye DEX to slow down the game. I’d place Rough Seas, Team Flare Grunt, and Team Skull Grunt in this role for the current format.
Of course with the dawn of a deck, there must be the rise of a counter. Just as quickly as Caesar rose to power, he fell. Going into Madison and Mexico City, there will be an onslaught of Garbodor. Peasants and senators will reduce their Item counts in opposition of the new dictator. Caesar will lose his foothold as the leader, and ultimately perish unto a stable presence in the meta. However, he will have affected decks forever, as people are scared of another dictator and choose to regulate their Item usage.
Survival Guide: Abiding Under the New Reign
Our lord has put a tax in place on all Item cards. The premise is to slow down the format and restore a healthy balance. He’s very effective at his job and has taken his role seriously. Perhaps too seriously, but change cannot be enacted unless there is a reason. Most lists are blindly running high counts of Item cards, or are being too liberal with their usage. It’s also plausible that some decks won’t be able to function without the boatload of Items it used to run. The conventional versions of Darkrai-EX and Volcanion-EX have died off, and it will be interesting to see how the lists change to stay relevant.
List of decks that could continue to see play in some form:
- M Gardevoir
- M Rayquaza
- Alolan Ninetales
Obviously the top decks are on this list like Garbodor and Decidueye/Vileplume, but I’ve also placed a few wildcards at the bottom. Vikavolt and Metagross are two new concepts but are similar in design. Both function as beefy Stage 2s that can set themselves up without heavy Item use. These are key components of surviving in a meta filled with Garbodor. I’ve already explained my rationale for Alolan Ninetales above. 6-9 are all decks from the pre-GRI format that have had hard times adapting.
Volcanion and Turbo Dark have performed using very unconventional lists in Europe. I’m curious if these trends will carry weight moving onto the remaining pair of North American Regionals. M Rayquaza and M Gardevoir I placed because they rely on the Sky Field engine. These two decks also require Spirit Links and Mega Turbo; clunky items that are easy to discard throughout the game.
I would consider the top of the list to be the current “top dogs” looking ahead to Madison. Lurantis didn’t make a performance in Seattle, but Tapu Bulu-GX introduces a new aspect to the deck. Lurantis-GX as a card lacks a way to efficiently 1HKO something with 180+ HP aside from Chloroscythe GX. Tapu Bulu-GX adds this to the deck. Brit covered a list that I would consider playing for Madison. Decidueye/Vileplume and Vespiquen retain their spots because of their respective performances in Seattle. I believe Vespiquen is on the decline because of a simple inclusion of Oriciorio GUR56. Waterbox slides in at #5 because the presence of Lurantis keeps it down. It has strong matchups in other places that can allow it to succeed.
For Madison, there will be an increase in decks 6-12. These lists will become more adapted for Garbodor. Some of these decks also exhibit incredibly favored matchups against the top decks aside from Garbodor. Volcanion rolls over Lurantis and Decidueye/Vileplume (usually). M Gardevoir rolls over Darkrai, Volcanion, and Decidueye/Vileplume. I wish there was more time for the meta to grow and develop before the last line of Regionals. I’m sure that all players would feel more comfortable in a developed meta rather than this fiesta we have now. Many of the decks I listed take an autoloss to another, which really sucks for the game. RPS formats are stale, and the people who succeed do it solely off of deck choice. The vast metagames with many viable decks bring diversity to tournaments and interest the playerbase.
Decision Time: What Items to Cut?
It’s now time for the million dollar question(s): What Items are worth removing? If I cut these Items, can I survive against decks other than Garbodor? What is there to add in place of Items? Find out below.
To start off, I would be running 4 N in every deck that is not a “turbo” deck. M Gardevoir, M Rayquaza, Vespiquen, and Raichu are all examples of a “turbo” deck. These decks rely on Shaymin-EX engines to set up and are okay with discarding Items because of the deck’s speed. Raichu and Vespiquen are alright with discarding Items because of the non-EX/GX attacker. The 4th N, (typically an increase of 1-2, depending on where you start,) is essential for reducing the use of VS Seeker and allowing Tapu Lele-GX to search for it. N is usually the best Supporter to play on the first few turns aside from Brigette or Pokémon Fan Club. It conserves resources and simultaneously prevents the unnecessary discarding of Items.
Items are still a necessary part of the deck, but should not be a dominant part of the strategy. Volcanion and Turbo Dark typically aim to go through as many Items as possible on the first turn through the use of Trainers’ Mail, Max Elixir, and Ultra Ball. VS Seeker adds to the problem by being a “Supporter” that’s actually an Item. In most decks that don’t discard much, I would be comfortable with removing 1 VS Seeker. Most of the time one is discarded with an Ultra Ball on the first few turns of the game, so why can’t that be a random Supporter?
Excess Items like Trainers’ Mail should not be played anymore in decks other than Decidueye/Vileplume. Period. There isn’t enough benefit. Other decks run an extra count of cards in case they’re discarded early. For example, I usually run 3 Mega Turbo in M Gardevoir. I’m going down to 2 because Sylveon has fallen out of favor, and I only need 2 per game. These small changes can make big differences in math. In Garbodor variants, I’m going to buff my Professor Sycamore and N count to 4 each. It might even be worth going up to 3-4 Lysandre and 0-3 VS Seeker. If Drampa-GX/Garbodor is the main deck, why not run the best list to counter the mirror?
Decks with fewer Items can work against decks other than Garbodor. Once we get to a point where people are educated and lists are optimal, everyone’s list will be adapted for Garbodor. Everyone’s deck will have slowed down a tiny bit, or at least added to Supporters, Pokémon, and Energy. I decided to remove Trainer’s Mail in favor of a 4th Sky Field and extra Pokémon, and I expect others to do the same with their respective deck. Utility Supporters like Team Flare Grunt, Team Skull Grunt, and Delinquent can be used so easily with Wonder Tag.
One idea that has yet to be explored is Pokémon based support through Alolan Sandslash, Bewear GRI, or Octillery. A deck that uses Alolan Sandslash can reduce Item usage to acquire the necessary cards. Bewear and Octillery fill the same uses, but can apply for different decks. Bewear is great for decks that need a large turn of digging. Octillery is great for decks like Gyarados or Vespiquen that need consistency every turn.
Slow and Steady: A Patient Waterbox
Pokémon – 11
Trainers – 36
Energy – 12
This list has very few modifications from the staple Waterbox list mentioned before. I simply removed part of the engine in Max Elixir and Energy Switch for a higher Supporter count. I split the Professor Sycamore-N count to be more reflective of a Garbodor and Collect-heavy deck. Team Flare Grunt and Team Skull Grunt act as methods of punishing Decidueye/Vileplume. The deck can’t be as resourceful as Quad Lapras with Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer, but it has the potential to slow down the opponent. One strength of Drampa-GX/Garbodor is the Turn 2 Berserk. Team Flare Grunt completely delays this, reducing the maximum damage taken from 180 down to 50! This can be followed up by more Team Flare Grunt, acceleration and a Blizzard Burn; the possibilities are endless! I simply find too much utility for a deck with Collect to not run Team Flare Grunt. It could be argued that 1 is the optimal number.
Quad Lapras could even be argued to be a good deck in today’s meta with the lack of Volcanion and Turbo Dark. I don’t have enough time to explore this for Madison, but I definitely will for Mexico City. Sylveon struggles with Hex Maniac, but Lapras doesn’t have that problem. There is no “cheese victory” off of a poor starting hand. I’m excited to explore all my thoughts for the remainder of the season. It’ll be a fun month!
That’s all I’ve got for today! Writing has kept me interested in the game because I get to apply my thoughts rather than keep them bottled up in my mind. In writing this article, I debated which one I would feature near the end. My mind crossed over 8-10 possibilities! There’s no better sign of a healthy format. Even though it looks like Garbodor is the one and only BDIF, I can guarantee that it won’t have this dominant of a performance moving forward. Once players adapt, Garbodor will act as a deterrent, similar to Karen in Expanded.
I’m fortunate enough to attend the last 2 Regionals, Origins, and NA Internationals. I hope to keep up the Top 16 grind as I currently sit at #22. I’m about 45 points away from #16, but there’s a huge leap of 100 points between #15 and #16. My journey will be recorded within these articles, and with any luck you’ll see my name in Day 2 of these tournaments! I’ve had below average finishes in Roanoke and Seattle, but it will turn around. See you guys in Madison!
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