Rising to the Above

Xander’s T4 Run in Vancouver, Garbodor/Drampa vs Gardevoir, and Shining Legends Thoughts

Hey everyone! My past weekend was one well spent in Vancouver. As I write this, I’m currently sitting in SeaTac waiting for my returning red-eye flight to Chicago. I’m both exhausted and excited, as the future holds encouraging prospects for Pokémon, but also other activities that are less enjoyable. Now that this weekend is past, the next few weeks lack any competitive tournament I can attend. A break like this will be quite nice—one that I look forward to so I can focus on school.

As you may have guessed, this article will be about my performance in Vancouver, but we’ll also cover the translation of Garbodor into the remaining tournaments of the pre-Crimson Invasion meta. Shining Legends is legal this weekend, bringing Zoroark-GX and other strong cards. Zoroark-GX is problematic for Garbodor, but won’t eliminate it completely. Trade (its Ability) can be handled by Garbotoxin, and Riotous Beating requires 6 Pokémon in play to 1HKO. I plan to test Garbodor against the newcomers, hopefully to some successful end.


Heading into the tournament, I was thinking about playing Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu. After Hartford’s failure, I was pretty much done with Fire decks. As much as everyone hates the word “playstyle” in Pokémon, there is some basis in the argument that playing certain archetypes leads to better success. This can be chalked up to a higher comfort level with certain decks, rather than a specific style of choice. For example, I’ve continuously performed better with M Gardevoir and Garbodor decks throughout my past two years. I have yet to make Day 2 at a Regionals or above with any other deck played. This led me to believe I should throw together Drampa/Garbodor for the tournament and see how I do. Worst case scenario, I would get some amount of enjoyment because I played a comfort deck.

Pokémon – 15

2 Drampa-GX

1 Eevee SUM

1 Espeon-GX

3 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP

2 Garbodor GRI

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Espeon-EX

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

4 Guzma

1 Brigette

1 Lillie


4 Ultra Ball

2 Field Blower

2 Rescue Stretcher

3 Choice Band

4 Float Stone


4 Po Town

Energy – 12

8 P

4 Double Colorless

This list was derived from Tord’s list from Regionals, then changed to reflect a shift in the meta. I took out the 3 Rainbow Energy for 3 Psychic because I expected more Enhanced Hammer—Igor and Xiao Xiao both played two copies in their Hartford lists. The extra few Energy also mattered for guaranteeing the T1 Energy Evolution, since an unevolved Eevee with an attached Energy is extremely unsafe and prone to KO by Tapu Lele-GX.

The next important change I made was cutting the 4th Trubbish for a 2nd Rescue Stretcher. I figured that I’d want to be using Brigette the first turn anyway, which would provide me with the 1-2 Trubbish I’d need early on. The 2-2 Garbodor split also provides reason for 3, since I never want more than 2-3 Garbodor out at a time. Necrozma-GX/Garbodor in this Expanded format and Espeon-GX/Garbodor at Worlds both needed 4 Trubbish since those mirror matches came down to it.

Nowadays, the mirror is determined by early Drampa-GX and Espeon-GX aggression while managing Item counts. Albeit another Item, the 2nd Rescue Stretcher alleviates clunky discards early on. Recycling Espeon-EX is one way to beat Gardevoir-GX, since they can run out of Rare Candy. Rescue Stretcher can also serve as a Supporter in a pinch, or give access to Drampa-GX for Big Wheel-GX.

The last two changes are more self-explanatory: Po Town in place of Choice Band, and Lillie in place of Hala. Firstly, Po Town is an amazing card and maximizes odds of a T2 Berserk for full damage. Po Town is also necessary to hit math against Golisopod-GX, Alolan Ninetales-GX, Gardevoir-GX, and Metagross-GX. Practically all Evolution decks are hindered by Po Town, since they usually play 0-1 Stadiums.

At worst, Po Town demands a Field Blower that can’t be used for Garbotoxin as the game progresses. I wish I had a 4th Choice Band in the list, despite the lack of necessity for it. I’d say that I’m used to playing with only 3 at Worlds, which may have be attributable to my resource management. I don’t know what card I’d cut for the 4th in this list, since everything has a purpose.

Finally, I replaced Hala with Lillie because it’s simply a better card. I opted to Lillie T1 instead of Brigette in times I didn’t have an Energy, but when I didn’t want to use Professor Sycamore to discard resources. I wouldn’t take it out.


Day 1:
R1: Alolan Ninetales-GX WLW (1-0)
R2: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor WW (2-0)
R3: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor LWW (3-0)
R4: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor WLW (4-0)
R5: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor WLT (4-0-1)
R6: Gardevoir-GX (Tyler) LL (4-1-1)
R7: Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX LL (4-2-1)
R8: Metagross-GX WLW (5-2-1)
R9: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor LWW (6-2-1)

Day 2:
R10: Volcanion-EX WW (7-2-1)
R11: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor LWW (8-2-1)
R12: Gardevoir-GX (Pablo) LW-ID (8-2-2)
R13: Gardevoir-GX (Tyler) WW (9-2-2)
R14: Greninja ID (9-2-3)

Top 8: Gardevoir-GX LWW (10-2-3)
Top 4: Gardevoir-GX LL (10-3-3)

  • Vs. Garbodor: 5-0-1
  • Vs. Gardevoir-GX: 2-2-1
  • Vs. Fringe: 3-1
  • Disincluded: ID

Day 1 started out perfectly, then slowly sizzled. Gardevoir-GX was the matchup that would make or break my first day because of my lack of experience. I had the perspective of my Worlds match, but both decks have diverged in fundamental strategies since then. Going forward, I plan to practice more because I noticed a small amount of misplays. This was also the case in Mexico last year—maybe I could have won the tournament in a world where I was more experienced.

My other matches that ended in a tie and a loss were due to inexperience and unfortunate luck. I chose to place 30 on each Tapu Bulu-GX with Divide-GX instead of KOing Grubbin because I was out of Choice Band, but that came back to haunt me when he N’d himself into Rare Candy + Vikavolt + Field Blower + Energy. I couldn’t recover past that turn, since he N’d me into 5 unplayable cards! I was too tilted in the second game, which caused me to make suboptimal plays and lose to myself. I could have won the game anways, but my remaining 2 Choice Band were the 5th and 6th prizes I couldn’t take.

What I take away from this tournament: Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor and Gardevoir-GX are the undisputed top two decks. I’d say Gardevoir-GX is even in a league of its own, one slightly above that of Garbodor. I’d argue that Gardevoir-GX and Sylveon-GX have the same levels of synergy of previous BDIFs, like Decidueye-GX/Vileplume or LuxChomp, simply because the deck can overpower anything. Magical Ribbon demands an N, or else the game can simply be over. Plea-GX and Twilight-GX provide options for long games against Garbodor, or for easy wins with in combination with Parallel City. The deck is extremely well-rounded and is capable of dismantling any opponent.

Because of reasons listed above, I wrote everything else off as “fringe.” Arguably, Volcanion-EX and Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX are not fringe decks; they both saw success at the previous Regionals. To this, I’d say that the meta has changed, and many players have moved on to Gardevoir-GX and Garbodor. It’s interesting to watch the group of last year’s Top 16 NA and others switch from deck to deck as tournaments go on. A majority of them played Volcanion at Hartford, while the same majority switched to Garbodor last weekend.

Interesting Matchups

Gardevoir-GX: The most important matchup. I had no experience in it during my first encounter in Round 6, which led me to getting destroyed rather quickly. After that match, Sam Chen gave me advice on how to win, otherwise I would have been clueless upon a plan of attack. The key in this match, reiterating his words, is to be patient. An overcommitment of Energy to either Drampa-GX or Espeon-GX can lose the game outright, since it’s impossible for Garbodor to do 230 damage in one turn; well, usually. Po Town and Divide-GX are great for softening targets that can later be 1HKO’d or devolved with Espeon-EX.

The first threat is Sylveon-GX. The rule is this: should the opponent ever stick a Magical Ribbon, it’s usually over. The 3/5 of an Algorithm-GX, triple Computer Search, one Energy attack usually translates into a fully loaded Gardevoir-GX and a Field Blower. I try to quickly deal with Sylveon-GX with Psybeam or try and 2HKO it with Drampa-GX immediately. Nothing can be done until it’s removed, so do away with it quickly. It’s important to put 60 on it with Espeon-GX, since it’s then possible to transition into Espeon-EX and KO it with Miraculous Shine. This will also devolve any opposing Kirlia, which is what causes problems later on in the game for the devolve strategy. Po Town is also essential for racking up small amounts of damage, or else there is no punishment for waiting on Evolutions.

From here on, I try to damage Gardevoir-GX for small amounts of damage with Trashalanche or other easy, non-committal means. 60 and 80 damage are the numbers to hit, depending on whether there is a Ralts or Kirlia underneath. Espeon-EX is the most efficient means of taking prizes, despite only taking one at a time. It’s also okay to Miraculous Shine without a knockout to devolve down to Ralts. The opponent will need another Rare Candy, or try and stall by attacking with Tapu Lele-GX as they evolve through Kirlia.

In my matches in Vancouver, the results held true. I lost games automatically with a kept Magical Ribbon, absurd amount of evolved Kirlia, or absurd draw from Gardevoir. Once those factors are mitigated, then the game can actually begin. These things happened, and I was unable to respond, during Round 6 and Top 4, my two definitive losses over the weekend.

My wins against Gardevoir came from dealing with the beginning hurdles, then being able to transition into a lead with Espeon-EX or an early Divide-GX. For example, in Top 8, albeit a disgusting win, I pulled out Game 3 because Olliver dead-drew and couldn’t keep a Magical Ribbon. It wasn’t helpful for him either that he played 0 Supporters. My game win against Pablo came from being able to map out my 6 Prizes, then play the game to take said prizes. This involved me keeping the Gardevoir-GX with 180 on it alive and using Guzma on an undamaged one. This opportunity won me the game with an Energy topdeck off an N to 1, instead of a needing more cards, such as Guzma and Garbodor.

The last avenue I took for a win involved the dreaded Espeon-EX lock. Against Tyler in R13, I managed to halt his early lead with Gallade by devolving him under Garbotoxin. N managed to equalize a game I had no right to be in based on the prize deficit. From that point, I slowly but surely planned to limit the amount of cards he could win with. Game 2 went by the same way: with Espeon-EX putting in work.

Drampa-GX/Espeon-GX/Garbodor: Like I stated previously, Item conservation is the #1 rule in this matchup. Keeping up with Energy attachments is a close #2. Both of these are necessary to win, since one leads to a destructive Trashalanche and the other leads to falling behind and succumbing to N. Like the Gardevoir matchup, it’s incredibly important to be patient. Brigette early, attach, and setup your knockouts. 3, 5, 7, and 9 are the checkpoints for Item usage. 3 Items means that Trashalanche can 1HKO each other, 5 for 1HKO on Espeon-GX, 7 for 1HKO on Tapu Lele-GX with a Choice Band, and 9 for 1HKO on all. You may feel safe with only 4 in the discard pile, but keep in mind that Tools on the field can easily be discarded.

The proper roadmap for victory involves a mix of all attackers aside from Espeon-EX. Each attacker has a niche that can turn the advantage in the game. Espeon-GX is amazing at establishing early pressure against Drampa-GX and Trubbish. Psybeam can tap a Trubbish for 60, then use Divide-GX to KO 2 Trubbish and place 20 somewhere else conveniently. Psybeam is also the best nullification for an early Drampa-GX because of Confusion and 200 HP compared to 180. Of course, be mindful of your Item usage when attacking with Espeon-GX. It can also be risky to attack with Espeon-GX without a Trubbish on the bench, since a Choice Band + Acid Spray or Psychic + Choice Band can 1HKO it.

Drampa-GX functions as a means of removing Double Colorless off of Espeon-GX or Tapu Lele-GX. The importance lies in using Drampa-GX for that purpose, then using it to transition into Berserk. Attaching Psychic to Drampa-GX can be useless compared to putting the Energy on a Garbodor, since Drampa-GX would require the Double Colorless and Choice Band to be useful later on. A better example of trading with a Double Colorless is with Tapu Lele-GX. It reliably 2HKOs Espeon-GX, and can’t be 1HKO’d back. Berserk can do 180, but that can easily be countered with a returning Drampa-GX or Espeon-GX. Trashalanche shouldn’t be hitting 170 damage, or else the game is most likely over anyway.

Aside from these two matchups, everything else is a wash. Other decks will see some play based on people’s comfort, but are unlikely to win a tournament. These other decks are also extremely vulnerable to Drampa-GX or Garbotoxin. I recommend playing Garbodor for Cups ONLY if you have experience with it, since the Gardevoir-GX matchup falls out of favor with little practice. I wish I could re-watch my Top 4 match and notice misplays I made, but unfortunately there was no stream.

Shining Stars of Shining Legends

A few days ago, I posted my list on Heyfonte to many questions about the cards changed from Tord’s Bremen Regionals list. I discussed each change made to the list there, but several people also asked my opinion of possible Shining Legends inclusions: Shining Jirachi and Shining Mew. Both of these cards are incredibly strong against certain matchups. Shining Mew could be insane in mirror—provided there isn’t a Divide-GX coming—because it can accelerate Energy easily to Garbodor or Drampa-GX. However, it’s incredibly frail, with only 30 HP. Virtually anything in the deck can 1HKO it, which starts out the Game 1 Prize behind at the cost of an Energy attachment. Keep in mind that the Energy attached to Shining Mew could have been put somewhere else, meaning that you only net +1 Energy.

Upon further inspection, Shining Jirachi is INSANE against Gardevoir-GX. I previously thought it did no damage and had 50 HP. Some player in Heyfonte informed me of the differences, to which I was greatly surprised and intrigued. With a Choice Band, Shining Jirachi deals 40 damage. Tapu Koko or Po Town can do the remaining 20-30 damage to KO the Basics underneath large Pokémon-GX. Shining Jirachi also only gives up a single prize, meaning that it can trade evenly while taking less resources. 70 HP is also the perfect number for dodging Energy Drive, Psybeam and Infinite Force with 1 Energy commitment.

Final Thoughts

I’m glad the BKT–BUS format has wrapped itself up with a bow and shipped itself to the past. I found it healthy, but lacking in diversity. Crimson Invasion hopes to bring huge changes and contenders to meddle with the format. I think Zoroark-GX of Shining Legends will become an archetype of its own. The love for the card stems from its splashability; Zoroark-GX acts as a means of a consistent 120 as well as consistency. I see it replacing Octillery in Gardevoir-GX decks. Perhaps with more OP Stage 1 Pokémon there will be a complete revival in a Stage 1, multitype attacker deck. My ideal version of this is Donphan/Yanmega/Zoroark of 2011, but I doubt that level of strength will reappear.

London Internationals is the next tournament I’ll attend because I’m already capped on League Cups for the quarter—Ho-Oh-GX/Salazzle-GX managed to gift me those, despite its failure at Hartford. In terms of the Nov. 30 Australia race, I’m half-heartedly competing for it. I’m most likely unable to attend anyway because of school. I’ll also be missing San Jose, the last tournament before the cutoff. I’m sitting at 360 points currently, which should put me in Top 16 for the time being, though. For those traveling, see you in London or beyond!


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