The Phantom Guide

The Comprehensive Look at What Kenny Wisdom will be Playing (and Eating!) in Vancouver

Hello everyone, Kenny Wisdom here. I’m excited to be back providing regular Underground content for the first time in two years! I’ve published dozens of articles over the years, so I’ll skip the introductions and just refer you back to them if you’re not sure who I am or what I’m about.

Today I want to talk to you about the upcoming Vancouver Regional Championship. Between commentating and other life commitments that require me to travel more than the average person, I don’t get the opportunity to actually battle in many high level tournaments. So whenever one comes around that is local and fits my schedule, I always try to prepare for it the best I can. The last such tournament was Seattle Regionals earlier this year, which I managed to Top 8 on the back of an incredibly broken deck. I’m not as prepared for this event, and my deck is certainly not as overpowered, but I have high hopes nonetheless.

Because I knew pretty far in advance that I’d be able to play in Vancouver, I’ve been preparing as often as I can (which is not as much as I would like, as moving and real-life have butted their ugly heads). Between arguably unhealthy amounts of PTCGO and playing in a handful of League Cups, I think I have a pretty good grasp on the format.

As a quick aside, I want to mention that if you’re ever in a position where you don’t have the time to regularly test or attend events, you should absolutely be leaning on the wealth of event coverage and information we have today. Between SixPrizes’ new coverage portal linking to the streams of every major event, Twitter accounts like @Pokéstats_TCG collecting data from nearly every League Cup, and Pokémon’s own website providing Top 8 decklists for every Regional, there’s really no excuse to not stay informed on the metagame. Of course, nothing beats actually getting your hands on the cards and learning the ins and outs of each deck via playtesting, but sometimes that simply isn’t an option.

Going Gaga for Gardevoir

Pablo Meza did a great job of going over the current Standard metagame, so I won’t bore you with a rehash of that information. Instead, I’ll just get straight to the point and say that I’ll be playing a Gardevoir-GX deck in Vancouver, and I think you have to have a pretty good reason not to be doing the same. There’s a lot to consider with this deck, so I reserve the right to make small tweaks over the next few days, but I can’t imagine a world where I’m not sleeving up something like this come Saturday morning.

Pokémon – 18

4 Ralts BKT 100
2 Kirlia BUS
3 Gardevoir-GX
1 Gallade BKT
2 Remoraid BKT 32
1 Octillery BKT
1 Alolan Vulpix GRI
3 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Giratina XY184

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore
4 N
3 Guzma
2 Brigette
1 Acerola


4 Ultra Ball
4 Rare Candy
2 Choice Band
2 Float Stone
2 Field Blower
1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Parallel City

Energy – 12

8 Y
4 Double Colorless.

Usually I would start with a skeleton list, explain how the deck functions exactly, and then show off a few variants of the deck, including different tech cards and accounting for each possible metagame. However, Vancouver will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 48 hours away when this article is published, so I thought it best to get straight down to business. Because there are so many different ways you can take Gardevoir, I think a deep dive on this list will ultimately prove more useful.

First, let’s talk a bit about what this deck doesn’t have.


Sylveon is a card that I’ve gone back and forth on. I found some reasonable League Cup success (a pair of Top 8 finishes) early in the season with zero copies of Sylveon. That deck, while ultimately not quite where I wanted to be for Vancouver, felt very streamlined and capable of winning any match up.

I later started playing (mostly online) with a more standard-looking list, that experimented with anywhere from a 1-1 to a 2-2 line of Sylveon-GX. Sylveon variants sacrifice a few consistently slots and a bench space for a much wider range of options, as Magical Ribbons and Plea-GX can be game-winning in the right spot.

Overall, I am choosing to go with a more straightforward version of the deck, in an attempt to be as flexible as possible. This may seem contradictory, as Magical Ribbons is one of the most flexible attacks in the game, but I’m hoping that if I give up a little bit of that explosiveness, I can be overall better versus more decks in the long game.

I wouldn’t fault anyone for playing Sylveon, and under the right circumstances could be convinced to play it myself. If you’re going to go with Sylveon, I’d recommend only playing a 1-1 line, and would probably default to something similar to the Mikey Fouchet/Team X-Files list.

2 v 3 Kirlia

The two copies of Kirlia is something I go back and forth on quite a bit. I’m ultimately settling on two in the hopes that a high draw Supporter and Rare Candy count will act as suitable replacements. If you expect your metagame to have an unusual amount of Tapu Koko promos or other spread decks running around, you could go with three copies, but I think two is fine everywhere else.

Tech Pokémon

I’m pretty sold on 2-1 Octillery, and would even add a second Octillery if I thought there was room. So many Gardevoir games rely on you being able to find the right combination of Energy and Choice Band, or a timely Guzma to score a critical Knock Out, and Octillery helps facilitate those kind of draws more than any other card.

I’ve gone back and forth between three and four Tapu Lele, and I know some players who are even considering two. At the end of the day, I think three provides the right balance of consistency without clogging up your hand/bench.

Giratina could easily be a Mr. Mime or another consistency card, depending on your expected metagame. I’m expecting Greninja to be one of the most popular decks in Vancouver, so I’m preparing accordingly. I don’t love playing cards that are completely dead in most match ups, but I think Greninja is an annoying enough matchup to warrant it.

The Trainers are pretty standard, though I do think I value Brigette more than most players. In almost all situations, you want to be playing Brigette on the first turn of the game. The downside to running both copies is that it’s almost entirely dead in the late game, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take. I think you have to do everything you can to ensure the first turn Brigette every time, especially in match ups where you’re going to need to build multiple Gardevoirs/Gallades.

I really like playing with 1 Rescue Stretcher and 1 Super Rod, but I just don’t think there is room for both without making some other pretty substantial cuts elsewhere in the deck. I’ve decided to go with Rescue Stretcher, as I find it’s easier to play cautiously with your Energy than it is to recur that one important Pokémon on exactly the right turn.

I’m not in love with Parallel City, but I think it provides just the right amount of game versus decks that require heavy set up (such as Metagross), and can randomly steal games if played at the right moments and left unanswered.

I think I’d be happy playing up to 10 Y Energy in this deck. For a long time, I experimented with 8 Energy and a Professor’s Letter, and somehow, I even had a 9/1 split in the deck at one point. Ultimately, I think the format has evolved in such a way that there are more important things to put in those slots, but it wouldn’t take much to convince me to jot down a few more basics on my decklist this weekend.

I would expect a slight uptick in Enhanced Hammer this weekend, so be aware of when and where you’re attaching your Energy. Of course, all the Enhanced Hammers in the world shouldn’t convince anyone to play fewer than four Double Colorless Energy.

I’m reluctant to make any definitive statements about Gardevoir, because as you can tell, there are an absurd number of different ways you can take the deck. I could easily see a list that is five or ten cards different from this one winning in Vancouver, and ultimately being the “right” choice. With that being said, I am experienced with the deck and the format, and believe in this list.

If there’s anything I left out, or something you’re not clear on, please feel free to leave a comment on this article, or hit me up on Twitter (@kwisdumb) and I’ll do my best to get you a thorough explanation as soon as possible.

Seeing the Scene: Vancouver Tips and Tricks

Pokémon isn’t just about the cards and match points, though. For me, the most enjoyable parts of Pokémon tournaments are the things that happen outside of the convention center. I’d like to conclude this article with a few recommendation on things to do, see, and of course eat, in Vancouver.

I’ve been traveling to Vancouver for Pokémon tournaments since 2012, and it’s quickly become of my favorite cities in North America. It’s not too far from my home in the Pacific Northwest, but it’s just different enough to be unique. If you’ve never been to Vancouver, or haven’t spent a lot of time in the northwest in general, you are in for an absolute treat.

If you have a little bit of extra time on your hands in the days before or after the event, I would strongly recommend checking out the Vancouver Aquarium. I love aquariums, and seek them out whenever I travel. In my heart, the Vancouver Aquarium is second only to it’s counterpart in Boston (though I haven’t been to the Atlanta Aquarium, which I hear is unreal). It can be a bit pricey at $39/ticket, but if you can swing it, it’s absolutely worth the trip.

If you’re looking for a more frugal option, I would recommend the nearby Stanley Park. There is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of nature to see here, and as long as the weather is reasonable (not always a guarantee in the PNW, sadly), I’d highly recommend you plan to spend some time at the park.

I’m looking forward to checking out Espot, a local arcade/LAN center within walking distance of the venue. I’ve never been, but I’ve heard great things, and at worst I’m sure it’s a fun (and according to their website, expensive) way to spend a few hours.

I could easily fill my next five Underground articles with Vancouver restaurant recommendations, but I’m going to show restraint (something I certainly won’t be practicing at said restaurants this weekend) and leave you with a small handful of recommendations.

4231 Hazelbridge Way,
Richmond, BC V6X 3L7,

Ninkazu is mostly known for their all-you-can eat sushi and late night specials, both of which I’d imagine appeal to most Pokémon players, and all sane people. I’ve only ever sampled their sushi, though I’m pretty confident anything you find on their menu will impress. This place is both great for groups and offers delivery, so no matter what kind of night you’re planning to have, they can accommodate.

5300 No 3 Rd #812,
Richmond, BC V6X 2X9

Because this tournament is actually in Richmond, and not downtown Vancouver as in previous years, I’ve actually never visited No.9. The important thing you need to know is that they have an extensive Cantonese menu and are open 24 hours a day. I fully expect to have one late night/early morning meal here, and I suspect I’ll see a few familiar faces while doing so.

8391 Alexandra Rd #2140,
Richmond, BC V6X 1C3

Fried chicken is one of the best foods, and for my money, Korea does it better than anyone. If you’ve never had Korean fried chicken, please make it a point to get your hands on some Cocoru at some point over the weekend. I promise you will not regret it.

Nero Belgian Waffle Bar
1703 Robson St,
Vancouver, BC V6G1C8

This is my favorite place to eat in Vancouver, and it easily find a slot in my top ten places on the planet. Nero serves a selection of both sweet dessert waffles, and savory options. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with a soft, chewy waffle covered in ice cream and fruit, but I suppose the savory waffles are also edible. This is further away than most of the options on this list, but I promise you that it’s worth it.

Importantly, many of the places on this list are cash-only, so I’d strongly recommend you bring some amount of Canadian currency. I’ve never had a problem getting a few hundred dollars Canadian from my local bank, but I’m not sure if being so close to the border puts me at an advantage. Note that you can use your debit/credit cards at most establishments, but for local restaurants and the like, you’ll want to make sure you have cash. The exchange rate is also favorable to USD right now, so there’s not really any downside.

You may have noticed that all of these are Asian restaurants. This is mostly what you’re going to find in Vancouver, due to the high Asian-Canadian (particularly Chinese-Canadian) population. I know there are a handful of traditional Western chains within walking distance of the venue, but I implore you to step outside of your comfort zone a bit and try something new. Experiencing the culture of a city via taking in their local cuisine is one of the most fun and rewarding things you can do, and you owe it to yourself if you’re traveling from far away for this event. No one ever looks back on a trip and thinks to themselves “I sure am glad I stuck with Subway instead of trying dim sum for the first time.” That is no way to live life, and it’s certainly no way to travel. No gamble, no future.


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