Hello again everyone! It’s good to be back here once again writing for everyone! It has been a little bit since I last wrote, but I am somewhat happy with the results of the World Championships.
For a long time, I felt somewhat crazy in my assessment of the format. I truly believed that Gardevoir was the best deck by a considerable amount and yet these feelings were shared by very few. I saw numerous times on various social media platforms that “Gardevoir loses to Fire and Greninja” and “Gardevoir just wasn’t very good.” However, all of my testing indicated otherwise. As I shared last time, most of my testing with the deck centered around the “Nun-List” with Sylveon-GX in tow but I was seldom losing with the take. As time progressed, it did seem like many were warming up to Gardevoir and by the time I arrived in California, my mindset had shifted to trying to counter Gardevoir instead of play it.
This left my options for Worlds on either Decidueye-GX or Metagross-GX, which ended up being a simple decision. Over the course of the last season, I played Decidueye variants more than anything else and I strongly believed in my ability to pilot a list with or without Vileplume with relative ease. There was a slight roadbump in this plan, however, with the result of the ARG Invitational, which saw a resurgence of Espeon-GX. Not only did this deck come back in terms of general awareness, but players were quickly figuring out that the Gardevoir matchup was close if not somewhat favorable. Despite knowing about Espeon-GX and my teammates insistance on the deck being incredibly viable for the World Championships, I tunnel-visioned to its possibility and still focused on play Decidueye.
One Last Ride: Decidueye for Worlds
Here is the list I ended up playing:
Pokémon – 22
1 Alolan Ninetales-GX
Trainers – 30
Energy – 8
One last hurrah for Decidueye! These decks will never be the same (if they are able to still exist) in the coming days. We all know the general song and dance of the deck, so I will not dwell on this decklist much, but I will say that I think it was a very smart list—albeit, an over-teched list as well. As we can observe from Benjamin Pham’s 1st place list from the Anaheim Open, consistency was king and so while there are merits for all of the Pokémon included above, I may have missed the forest for the trees by playing cards like Mr. Mime and Goliospod-GX over much simpler options like a few Level Ball and additional supporters. It is also worth noting that despite my confidence in this list that I did perform somewhat abysmally and so briefly, here is my Worlds synopsis:
And so there you have it! An incredibly swift exit from the World Championships, but there is something worth noting and learning from in all of my losses. The Gardevoir list (this was against US Player Mark Garcia and presumably the Some1sPC list) played three Wonder Energy, 2+ Max Potion, and Hex Maniac, among other things, so needless to say that it was as teched out for the matchup as it could possibly be—and I still barely lost. Game 1 I conceded very quickly as I opened no supporter and failed to topdeck anything useful and Game 3 I was caught off-guard by the additional copies of both Wonder Energy and Max Potion and I think I would’ve been able to navigate correctly had I acquired a better insight to the list as a whole. Round 3 was a trainwreck of all sorts as I should beat this deck almost every time but my deck simply would not cooperate. I missed a beat at almost every single turn and was buzzed over with an embarrassing lack of resistance on my part. Finally in round 4, I would just chock this up to an unfavorable matchup all though I made it as close as possible.
I am very happy to have observed friends and fellow writers perform exceedingly well and per usual, the success of others has only ignited a drive inside of me to try an achieve such greatness myself. I was unfortunately unable to get a spot in the Anaheim Open, but I was not too disappointed as I was able to spend the rest of my time in California relaxing and seeing many close friends that only come around a few times per year. Worlds has come and gone and its time to shift our focus to the next season and more specificially the Expanded format for Fort Wayne this weekend! If you have any further questions about my Decidueye list or general Worlds thoughts, I would be happy to answer them in the comments but for now, let us move on.
Navigating Expanded: The Wild, Wild West
Certainly one of the most intriguing facets of the Expanded format is simply how open it is. Yveltal was more or less the king despite its occasional opposition, but without Archeops, I think it will be time for things to get shaken up. Though I will not be attending an Expanded Regional Championship anytime in the imminent future (though things always do change), I think that it is still important to pay attention to things and attempt to learn with everyone else so we do not have to play catch-up should we be forced to play Expanded at a local level. The massive card pool is incredibly daunting and speaking personally as a player who attempts to keep a very minimal collection, my options will always be limited.
Given the sheer size of Black and White all the way through Burning Shadows, it is not too far of a leap to assume that there are likely several combinations of cards out there that could form into a tier 1 deck with attackers and options never before seen in competitive play. I do think that cards like Donphan from so long ago could easily find the time to shine again as well as even older deck like Klinglang. Exploring this sea of possibilities is exciting and terrifying at the same time and I am incredibly curious to see if anything new is able to rise to the challenge of combating Darkrai, Yveltal, Night March and so on.
One of the concepts or moreover a general skeleton idea for decks in Expanded that I have been focused on is simply adding Garbodor GRI to any deck that previously included the Garbotoxin card. The idea is that all of these decks, at one point or another, were competitively viable and while time itself may have led to a decline in their viability and popularity, giving them the boon of an incredible, non-EX attacker may be just the trick to giving these concepts a new life in the Expanded format.
Those it’s possible that even more of these decks exist, the main ones that I have been theorizing about are Seismitoad-EX/Garbodor, M Manectric-EX/Garbodor and Sableye/Garbodor. I will save that final deck for Travis Nunlist’s next article as he was really the brains around that deck but in short, adding Trashalanche to that deck gives you a late-game win condition that is faster and considerably more reliable and Sableye’s usual MO of being annoying and eventually decking you out.
With Blend Energy, you lose very little in terms of consistency and are able to use Junk Hunt and Trashalance in conjunction. It could be argued that this deck simply combines the best two attacks in the game and lets the rest figure itself out! As for the other decks, the combination becomes a little more difficult but perhaps still worth pursuing. I do not currently have a list for the Seismitoad iteration of this idea, but here is a sample list for M Manectric that I have prepared for today:
Acid Lightning: M Manectric/Garbodor
Pokémon – 18
4 Trubbish BKP*
1 Garbodor DRX*
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
The asterisks denote a general confusion and ambivalence over which Trubbish and Garbodor one ought to play in Expanded. The most pragmatic answer for either card is simply that it does not and will not matter 90% of the time. For the former, there are so many that all seem viable to me. I am personally skeptical of the 60 HP Trash Collection, but I can definitely see a rationale where it is smart to play at least one alongside any other of the 70 HP Trubbish.
Without DCE in the deck, I think that Acid Spray Trubbish is probably your best option in this specific deck but I would lean more toward the DRX/LTR Trubbish in a deck with DCE. As for the Garbodor, this one definitely does not matter, but DRX/LTR is once again marginally better as it attacks for one less energy. Still, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who has ever used Sludge Toss.
Though I am somewhat optimistic about this list and its chances against most things, it is hard to fit everything that I want to. I would love to have a couple copies of Choice Band in the list to bolster Trashalanche’s damage and maybe that card is simply better than Nest Ball or any of the other more techy options. However, I will say that I do like Nest Ball quite a bit as this deck finds itself in the middle of a clash between the old and the new and unfortunately is unable to make use of Bridgette, Hoopa-EX or any other of our usual first turn set-up options.
M Manectric decks always look so appealing in theory but tend to leave a lot to be desired in actual practice and thus I am immediately apprehensive even though most things about this deck seem sound. I will acknowledge that I do not think this list is equip to deal with any fire deck in Expanded (though Garbodor always has the potential to carry a game depending on how the first few turns play out) but outside of this and likely some fringe options, I think that this current list is well-positioned against Darkrai, Night March and Trevenant.
Life is a Beach: Crafting Gardevoir in Expanded
Acknowledging the general confusion and overall lack of definition for the Expanded format, perhaps the real enemy or deterrent for casual players looking to transition into seasoned competitive ones is the lack of availability for Tropical Beach. Now, I know that not every deck needs this card but its price and difficulty to find definitely affects this. I strongly believe (and will continue to argue below) that if this card were readily available or printed in some sort of VS Deck like certain older cards have been, it would be considerably more played.
The only real deck that has ever made use of Tropical Beach in recent memory is Primal Groudon-GX, and while incredibly strong, Groudon has never been particularly popular because of its need for Tropical Beach. Any time I have prepared for an Expanded event, I am more the willing to take a loss to Groudon simply because I know it will not be popular because no one in my area has Tropical Beach. I understand the argument about wanting Worlds cards to be rare and exclusive, but I am not sure anyone would really argue that Tropical Beach was anything short of a blunder.
I do not believe the creative team behind the card really thought the card would be as powerful as it ended up becoming, and speaking as a player who competed at the World Championships when it was given out and have owned multiple playsets of the card (currently owning zero, as I never bought back in when my collection was stolen right before Worlds in 2014), I think the card should be banned from sanctioned play, reprinted in some capacity, or “soft reprinted” in that there will be a new card that does the exact same thing but with a different name—allowing Tropical Beach specifically to maintain its value and exclusivity. Is this a realistic expectation or simply the jealous ramblings of a player who wishes he had access to the card?
To put this conversation back in perspective, I have recently been revisiting Tropical Beach as a card for newer concepts in Expanded because, since the release of the Sun and Moon block, Stage 2 decks have finally been making a comeback—and what were the decks that relied most on Tropical Beach in the past? You guessed it—Stage 2s! I think that now more than ever many decks that do not need Stadiums (but need the time to evolve) should highly consider Tropical Beach as an option. In fact, here is the Gardevoir-GX list that I am incredibly enamored with for Expanded which relies heavily on Tropical Beach in order to set up:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
Energy – 12
I have noticed that this tends to be the case for a lot of popular Standard decks that shift slightly to Expanded, and it’s essentially that next to nothing changes about this list other than a slight adjustment to add an ACE SPEC and maybe an older supporter or too like AZ or Xerosic. This list is no exception to that trend, and it is incredibly similar to both Diego and Pablo’s lists from the World Championship. Only minor things (like the normative Octillery or Oranguru) have been swapped in order to fit Tropical Beach. I think that the opening with Brigette (or Wonder Tag for Brigette) and Tropical Beach is so incredibly powerful for any evolution deck that is has to be worth considering in a deck like Gardevoir.
Additionally, Gardevoir just has so many things going for it that I would be shocked if this list or a similar list did not perform well at Fort Wayne. You have so much HP, the capacity to knockout almost every Pokémon with relative ease, a resistance to Dark, an inherent counter to Trashalanch, and a weakness to a (mostly) irrelevant type. I think that Trevenant can pose a threat, but between thick evolution lines, Tropical Beach, Diancie being able to evolve your board (and heal off damage from Silent Fear), and the Giratina Promo, it should be fairly winnable if you survive the first couple turns. The speed of Blacksmith and Battle Compressor is a threatening, but I think Fire decks ought to remain favorable as a matchup.
There are plenty of other options that could be experimented with in the list like Korrina and Machoke, Fairy Garden, and a small Aromatisse XY line. I’m not sure if there is anything I am overlooking, but for the moment, I would 100% play Gardevoir for Fort Wayne this weekend.
I am greatly looking forward to competing once again this season, and am just all sorts of optimistic about my chances within the game and life in general. Unless various small miracles occur throughout the season, I do not think I will be able to chase the top 16 as I had initially hoped, but I will definitely be attending more events than I have in the previous two seasons. Perhaps the chase will have to wait for the 18-19 season, but hopefully I will still find a way to make it out to at least one International Event before the one in North America.
As always, if you have any questions or comments, I would be happy to answer them in the comments below or my DMs are always open on Twitter! I am not sure which Regional Championship I will be able to make my debut at this year, but I do hope that it is sooner rather than later.
Until next time!
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