Hey all! Xander Pero here with another article. As the short-lived BKT-SHG format draws to a close, I’m ready to accept the end of the format as Crimson Invasion comes in. All of my ideas and testing leading up to now have involved Crimson Invasion because the set is legal for European Internationals, which I will be attending.
As noted by Travis in his article last week, all of the tournament results have been without CRI to this point. This has led to Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark-GX and Golisopod-GX/Zoroark being overhyped, although they are competitively viable decks. I think many players are hyping these decks, but ultimately believe Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX or Drampa-GX/Garbodor will win London Internationals. A recent poll in Heyfonte reflects the idea: 85 votes for Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX, 80 for Drampa-GX/Garbodor, and then 20 votes for Alolan Ninetales-GX/Zoroark. Greninja and other decks follow with lesser votes. Even though the poll shows overwhelming support for the previous BDIFs, don’t be surprised to see many other decks perform well at London. I predict Gardevoir-GX to be the most played deck, but that won’t stop others from choosing otherwise and succeeding.
As a part of the SixPrizes team, I try my best to write insightful commentary that helps you, the reader, do better. We understand it’s boring to re-read the same decks over and over again, so we try and deviate from each other in order to provide interesting content. This is balanced by us covering the decks we truly believe are the best, but that can foster repetitiveness! This is one example of what goes into planning articles that I find frustrating, but ultimately is for good reason. With that aside, let’s jump into my final thoughts before London!
As I said previously, there are no earlier tournaments than the weekend of London Internationals where Crimson Invasion can be played. The entire meta is complete theorymon. What I mean by this is that all of the decks are untested within a tournament setting. An expected % of decks is nearly incalculable, because there’s no historical evidence. The amount of Heyfonte hype posts per deck is one of the more reliable sources of data available currently. The lack of tournament results also means lists are going to be different from one player to another, since there isn’t a tried and true baseline. With that in mind, here are the decks I’m worried about facing in London.
- Zoroark-GX variants: Golisopod-GX, Counter
- Buzzwole-GX variants: Garbodor, Lycanroc-GX
- Greninja BREAK
- Alolan Ninetales-GX
I wrote the list in a rough order of which decks came to mind first. There’s an obvious popularity trend from the top to the bottom, so it’s important to reflect that with a proper deck choice. Furthermore, it’s detrimental to worry about unpopular decks that you may not ever face. Some of those decks may be top tier, but aren’t worth changing deck choice over. In a different case, Greninja is perhaps a top tier deck, relatively popular, and yet is easy to counter. Proper deck choice in a theorymon meta is a balancing act between linearity and techs.
As with all theorymon metas, counter-pick decks will emerge to try taking advantage of the previous BDIF. Registeel/Cobalion/Silvally-GX is one example of this; it utilizes Metal typing and an attacker that can easily OHKO Garbodor. Generally, these types of decks have some trouble against every other deck in the format. Silvally-GX is built to counter other decks with the Memory cards, but lacks linearity. I’d classify the Memory cards as techs to improve matchups, but they don’t contribute to the overall deck strategy. Perhaps there’s a better example of a deck that exists solely to beat another.
My recommendation for a theorymon format is to find a deck you’re comfortable with. This could be one that’s carried itself over from the last format, such as Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX, or one thats an adaptation from a previous: Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor instead of Drampa-GX/Garbodor. The alternate route is to extensively learn a new deck. I’d stray away from that without many, many, many games tested. Otherwise the list is imperfect, you’ll make mistakes, and you’ll be frustrated at yourself for playing a foreign deck.
Speaking of comfort picks, here’s mine going into London. I’ve decided to shift towards a higher Espeon-GX focus because of Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX. With a 2-2 Espeon-GX, I think the matchup improves slightly. This also makes the deck less reliant on Po Town, minimizing the devolution strategy. The current list has Po Town still, but I could also see a version that omits it entirely.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
3 Po Town
Energy – 12
I think a heavier Espeon-GX line is the way to go because it’s helpful in every matchup. The gameplan of my Vancouver version was also to lead off with Espeon-GX, but that missed approximately 1/5 of the time when either Eevee or Espeon-GX was prized. The 2-2 line reduces those odds dramatically and also means I can use Espeon-GX twice. It’s also great against Buzzwole-GX variants because of the pressure it can offer. The opponent will be forced to Acerola the Buzzwole-GX after it takes 120, or let it be a sitting duck on the Bench. Zygarde-EX is an attacker they might use instead, but that’s easily nullified by Confusion.
Even though I’ve decided to shift my focus towards Espeon-GX, keeping 1 Drampa-GX is fine. It’s still important to keep the number of attackers at 3 (2 Espeon-GX, 1 Drampa-GX.) Righteous Edge is also good in a pinch, and Berserk for dealing with Tapu Lele-GX. I’m worried that Drampa-GX might be prized, but there’s nothing to be done about that. Theoretically, Gladion could actually work in this deck because Espeon-EX and Jirachi are such important cards.
This is the same Garbodor line I played at Vancouver to good success. The 4th Trubbish isn’t a necessity, which led to it being cut from the pre-Vancouver Drampa-GX/Garbodor list. In an ideal world with 65 cards in the deck I’d add in the 4th Trubbish, but that’s not the case. Another reason why the 4th Trubbish is unnecessary is because 2 Garbotoxin should never be in play. It’s as if we’re playing 3 meaningful Garbodor and an extra one to alleviate the prize factor.
I’ve dropped down to 2 Tapu Lele-GX because Garbotoxin is in play lots of the time. There’s also little that Tapu Lele-GX does other than search for T1 Brigette or Guzma to end the game, both of which can be done with only 2 copies.
Jirachi’s main use is against Gardevoir-GX. I see it as a means of doing 80 damage for free because it protects itself afterwards. 80 damage is conveniently enough to devolve with Espeon-EX the next turn, which is usually what follows. Guzma and Max Potion are the two cards that can get around Jirachi, but that doesn’t stop it from being useful—those can be considered expended resources.
The one worry with this plan is that the opponent can use Twilight GX that turn with a Max Potion, effectively making Stardust useless. I plan to continue experimenting with Jirachi vs. Shining Jirachi or even Tapu Koko SM31. Shining Jirachi acts as a proactive way of taking knockouts instead of waiting a turn. Tapu Koko is nice for softening Gardevoir-GX for later on, but requires a Double Colorless. Flying Flip needs to go off twice to be effective as well, since 20 damage is usually inconsequential.
What I did here is find a way to fit an extra card in the list at the expense of a turn. Sometimes against Gardevoir-GX I’ll have everything I need in my hand: Energy, Tool for Garbotoxin, etc., but I’ll be lacking a Po Town. This usually happens after I play Po Town + Tool down into a Field Blower. Lusamine is great because it can recover the Stadium, but also set myself up for the following turn with either a draw Supporter or Guzma.
Another side note on Guzma: In this deck, Guzma should rarely be used to take quick prizes on meaningless Pokémon. Yes, knocking out a Ralts or the like is great, but it’s also important to deal with the active threat. Sometimes it’s on the Bench, but it’s usually staring you down from the Active position.
I’ve dropped down to 1 Field Blower in the name of space. I think the 4th Choice Band is more important because it extends itself across more matchups. Field Blower is mostly there to deal with Fighting Fury Belt in Volcanion, but I don’t expect much of that in London. Volcanion had very little success in Vancouver and hasn’t been talked about much since then.
One could make the argument that Field Blower is great in mirror, but to be honest I see it as just another Item. It’s great for huge swing turns where Trashalanche can OHKO Espeon-GX or Drampa-GX, but that can also be done with Choice Band. The 2nd Field Blower is what I’d back in if I had one more space available. Perhaps Jirachi isn’t as useful as I want it to be, resulting in a cut.
This card is so good that it’s worth it to play 4 copies. The shift in thought came to me after realizing I need to be hitting for 60 with Psybeam every time, otherwise it’s hard to take a knockout with Psychic on the following turn. 60 damage is also the perfect number for devolution against Alolan Ninetales-GX, Lycanroc-GX, Sylveon-GX, and a Candy’d Gardevoir-GX.
Oh Linus, the Great Pumpkin is real! (Unoriginal pun, yes, I know.) Anyway, Gourgeist is one of the coolest cards I missed from my article last weekend. It’s a really cool concept that revolves around managing Tools in order to take crucial OHKOs. I thought of the deck as a meme I wanted to try out at first, but Caleb Gedemer and I talked about the possibilities of a list. Here’s a skeleton:
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 31
Energy – 4
10 Open Spots
There are 10 open spots, but keep in mind we only have 12 Tools in the deck in the skeleton. More Tools and consistency will fill the final spots.
There are two paths here: Klefki or no Klefki. Klefki is really interesting because it can act as a Tool, but is also an Ability. Klefki can be recovered with Rescue Stretcher as well. The original version of the list had 0 Klefki, but the current list I have below features a full count. It’s simply that good.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 37
Energy – 4
The type of consistency I tried to add to the deck isn’t more Supporters, but more Tools and Octillery. There’s already enough Tools in the deck, but not enough draw power to draw them each turn. More Tools will increase odds of drawing them in the first place, while Octillery and Oranguru are helpful for recovering from N.
2-2 Octillery, 1 Oranguru
Octillery and Oranguru offer such good draw support at all points in the game. I’ve thought about going to 3-3 Octillery, but I also like how I save 1 spot in the list. That card I’m able to include is the 2nd Fighting Fury Belt, which is just another Tool. Zoroark-GX offers draw support, but can’t net as many cards as Octillery. Zoroark-GX nets 1 card, while Octillery nets a few. Also, there aren’t any easy discards. Every card serves a purpose.
Klefki is amazing. It’s a Pokémon that can sit on the Bench for Tools to be attached to it, or it can become a Tool. It’s versatile. The OHKO knockouts on Zoroark-GX and Gardevoir-GX require 6 Tools discarded, aka a full Bench and Tools. I’ll sometimes use Klefki as one of the Benched Pokémon I attach Tools to. In other times, it’s important to discard Klefki because they’re the only Tool that can be “recycled” with Rescue Stretcher. It’s all about finding a balance between using them as Tools, or attaching Tools from the hand and keeping Klefki on the Bench.
Rescue Stretcher is important because it’s a pseudo-Tool. It can reuse a Klefki immediately or shuffle Klefki + Gourgeist pieces into the deck.
Field Blower is important because Garbotoxin and Parallel City are issues for the deck. Parallel City hurts because it limits damage output; there aren’t enough Bench spaces to do more than 170 damage. Garbotoxin annoys us because it shuts off our draw support and Klefki. Parallel City is more detrimental than Garbotoxin it’s impossible to score a OHKO instead of improbable. Under Garbotoxin, the deck is still capable of drawing the correct amount of Tools to take a knockout.
22 “Tools” Total
I use quotation marks because some of our “Tools” aren’t Tool cards—Rescue Stretcher and Klefki are included in the count—nevertheless, they’re required to hit maximum damage.
Gourgeist’s matchups aren’t the main reason why it loses. Drawing well, the deck can favorably trade against everything. The problems arise when the deck misses a knockout or gets stuck with a dead hand.
Vs. Garbodor variants
The way you’ll lose this matchup is how quickly they set up Garbotoxin. Even if they do set it up, Gourgeist can continuously trade well with attackers. What ends up ensuing is a Gourgeist vs. Garbodor war. It’s nice that one of the Garbodor they set up must be Garbotoxin, otherwise it’s a slaughter. Drampa-GX, Espeon-GX, and Tapu Lele-GX can’t do anything to trade well with Gourgeist.
Buzzwole/Garbodor is an entirely different easy matchup. Buzzwole-GX is weak to Psychic and requires 3 Tools to be knocked out. This is insanely easy to pull off. Zygarde-EX is the other attack they’ll utilize, but that does very little damage to Gourgeist. The one Energy attack does 40 with a Strong Energy + Stadium, or 50 with Fighting Fury Belt too. In return, it’s 5 tools for a knockout, or 6 with a Fighting Fury Belt on the Zygarde-EX.
This matchup is relatively easy to gain a huge lead in, but hard to finish. The first two prizes on Sylveon-GX are very easy, but the problem arises with Parallel City + N. It’s pretty easy for Gardevoir-GX to knock out Gourgeist, so it’s important to stick a Bodybuilding Dumbbells when taking early knockouts. Those knockouts require less than 6 Tools, it’s more important to keep a Gourgeist alive most of the time.
Lastly, remember this matchup isn’t a race. There’s 6 prizes to be taken, so it’s alright to pass the turn without taking a knockout. Committing some Tools into a Max Potion or Acerola can lose you the game by running out of Tools. It’s 100% fine to pass the turn while setting up for a OHKO on the following turn.
Vs. Zoroark-GX variants
This matchup can be tricky because Zoroark-GX requires 6 Tools to be knocked out and can KO Gourgeist easily. Zoroark BKT is incredibly annoying because it trades evenly. The upside to this matchup is that Zoroark-GX decks forego swing cards: Parallel City and Garbotoxin. It should be easy to stream OHKOs every other turn. What’s more important in this matchup is to preserve Gourgeist, since those will disappear before all Tools do.
This matchup is weird because we’ll start taking OHKOs on the second turn of the game, but will fall behind near the end. A powerful Shadow Stitching + N can also reverse the game. It’s important to set up as many Gourgeist as possible before the late stages of the game arrive. Octillery is nice because it forces the opponent to Shadow Stitch rather than Moonlight Slash for a 2HKO. Bodybuilding Dumbbells is clutch for buffing up Gourgeist’s HP.
This is a relatively easy matchup because there’s only 2 Zoroark-GX and 0 Zoroark BKT. Alolan Ninetales-GX can’t do anything to a Gourgeist except Blizzard Burn. It’s scary that Alolan Ninetales-GX will take a swing turn in KOing Tapu Lele-GX, but it’s alright to return KO them back. Going even in prizes with this deck means you’re ahead.
That’s it for today! I was originally disappointed with the lack of change coming out of Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion, but upon further dissection there is more than I had thought. Buzzwole-GX and Zoroark-GX are the most notable additions. Looking towards London, Espeon-GX/Garbodor, Gourgeist, and Zoroark-GX/Counterstuffs are my top picks. I think all of these decks have an even or better matchup against Gardevoir-GX, the BDIF.
‘Til next time,
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