Hello everyone! I am finally back with another article! A lot has changed between my previous article and now, as two whole sets have been released! While I do think that Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion were both overhyped, they do bring a few useful cards to the table. In addition to the release of these sets, I do feel that the meta at Vancouver was significantly more developed than at Connecticut. Gardevoir finally had to face a reasonable counter in Drampa-GX/Garbodor, and ended up powering through it in the end.
Despite players like Sam Chen and Xander Pero tearing up swiss with Drampa-GX/Garbodor, it was not enough to stop the long awaited Gardevoir victory. However, since that event, a few new tools have been presented to the devolution strategy. Buzzwole-GX, Kartana-GX, and Shining Jirachi are all pretty strong techs for dealing with Gardevoir decks. With that being said, I am going to go over the different ways to play the beast that is Gardevoir-GX, and then I am going to discuss taking a gamble on Greninja.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 33
Energy – 12
As you probably noticed, this decklist is very similar to the “optimal” one. The only difference between the two builds is the support Pokémon included. While this list chooses to go a simpler route, using Vulpix and Oranguru to setup, the other build uses the greedier option of Sylveon-GX and Octillery. When I say greedy, I mean that the Sylveon-GX and Octillery have a much higher risk associated with them, but also have a higher payout. The positive side to having Vulpix: it is very easy to use, as it just needs to make its way to the active, and additional space opens up.
Including Vulpix and Oranguru allowed me to add an eighth Fairy Energy and the fourth copy of Max Potion. While I do sacrifice the late game bonuses that Sylveon-GX provides, I slightly make up for it with these additions. I think that the optimal list for the new version of this deck has yet to be found, so the best supporting cast is still up for debate.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
This is the Gardevoir list that had established itself as optimal before the release of Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion. At Vancouver Regionals, the last tournament before the new cards were released, the meta was essentially Gardevoir-GX and counters to Gardevoir-GX. Most popular was Drampa-GX/Garbodor that featured Po Town and Espeon-EX. This combination is generally accepted as a great counter to this Gardevoir, and I have to agree. The newer list has all the tools to beat decks that use the devolution strategy, but it feels much more fragile in the early game. I would say that in some matchups, the Max Potions do feel like win more cards, but are just too important in other matchups to remove. That being said, if you are a big Gardevoir fan, I would definitely recommend trying out the new and improved Gardevoir-GX build.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
2 Choice band
Energy – 11
I find this to be more of a mix between “optimal” Gardevoir and the new Gardevoir lists that have been popping up. While I love the heavier Field Blower count and the addition of Max Potions, I am not convinced that Alolan Vulpix and Oranguru bring enough consistency to the table. Vulpix is very easy to use, but it is also quite easy to knockout. Sylveon-GX is much more likely to get multiple attacks, and each Magical Ribbion essentially forces an N to be played. While the opponent will want to N you after you use Beacon, it is not the end of the world if they don’t in most cases.
The biggest issue I have with Sylveon-GX in lists like this is the lack of Float Stone, which means that you can usually not attack with Sylveon-GX until your second turn. The argument could be made that this is generally the case anyways, just because it is unlikely that a Float Stone is found on the first turn in addition to an Eevee and a Fairy Energy. In addition to this, Sylveon-GX is also simply better than Vulpix when going first, as you wouldn’t get to Beacon until the second turn anyways.
Another bonus to having Sylveon-GX is the Plea-GX option it provides. Twilight-GX has always been looked at as a great GX attack, but sometimes Plea-GX can devastate the opponent and really flip the tempo of the game.
Octillery’s Ability is obviously much stronger than Oranguru’s, but Octillery does have its downsides for other reasons. Octillery takes up more space in the deck, which is actually a pretty big deal, it has issues with prizing either piece of the 1-1 line, and it is much more vulnerable against Po Town strategies. Speaking of Po Town, this version of the deck was made as a pretty direct counter to the combination of Po Town and Espeon-EX that we have seen making its way into decks recently.
Field Blower removes the PO Town from the board and knocks a tool off Garbodor at the same time. This is a very strong play against the devolution strategy for obvious reasons, hence the inclusion of a third one. The three to four Max Potions that are played in this version of the deck are also very strong against the devolution package, as they help to keep at least one Gardevoir-GX at full health at all times. These Max Potions have great synergy with Twilight-GX, as you can burn through your deck and then just shuffle Max Potions and Energy back in.
I personally prefer the inclusion of the Max Potions, so I will be going through the matchups with that version of the deck.
This feels like meta-defining matchup, and it certainly was at Vancouver Regionals. The most interesting part of this is that before Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends, there seemed to be a disagreement over how this matchup played out. In my opinion, it was only slightly favored against the optimal Gardevoir-GX. Any Gardevoir-GX that played extra healing cards or a third Field Blower felt slightly favored against Drampa-GX/Garbodor.
However, the addition of Kartana-GX and Shining Jirachi to Drampa has changed this quite a bit. I feel that the new Drampa lists were pretty heavily favored against Gardevoir before it started playing Max Potions and the third Field Blower. Now that these changes have been made to adapt to the meta, I feel Gardevoir is the deck that has a significant edge because it has all the answers it could want to the devolution package. Using Field Blowers to prevent taking damage from Po Town and the option to use Abilities is just such a strong play. In addition, Max Potion helps to negate any spread damage that builds up from things like Po Town or Tapu Koko. While the new Gardevoir lists are relatively heavy on Items, Twilight-GX should make sure that Garbodor GRI is never hitting for enough damage to cause problems.
This is probably Gardevoir’s worst matchup that is actually played in tournaments at a competitive level. Outside of playing a Giratina promo, this matchup is a pretty tough one to solve. When Greninja actually sets up as usual, Shadow Stitching in combination with Greninja BREAK’s massive 170 HP is just too much to handle—not to mention cards like Enhanced Hammer and Tapu Fini-GX limiting how “big” of a Gardevoir-GX we can make.
The version that plays Sylveon-GX has a much better shot in this matchup, as pretty much every aspect of Sylveon-GX presents Greninja with at least a small problem. Magical Ribbon can help you setup well, despite not being able to use very many Secret Springs. Due to how slow Greninja is, Sylveon-GX should be able to Magical Ribbon quite a bit, especially considering it can be healed by Max Potion. Plea-GX can also get rid of two Greninjas with little effort, which really sets them back a lot.
This is one that was up for debate at first, as some people believed that Volcanion could pressure Gardevoir out of the game. As Gardevoir lists became more and more refined, I would definitely say that the matchup became increasingly poor for Fire. Sylveon-GX helps Gardevoir build up a very strong board that is well equipped to trade knockouts with Volcanion-EX and Turtonator-GX. Max Potions can help keep the Sylveon-GX alive for a longer period of time, especially if Fire tries to get the ideal situation of knocking it out with a Volcanion STS.
This matchup is a pretty interesting one. At first, I kept trying to crank out a Gallade as soon as possible and attack right away, but I kept falling just short with that strategy. It ends up leaving you with a pretty fragile board almost everytime, which just isn’t a good idea. I have found that the better strategy is to use Gardevoir to address the opposing Ninetales-GX and then take care of things like “baby” Ninetales and Zoroark-GX later in the game with Gallade.
Max Potion is certainly important in this matchup because it prevents being knocked out over the course of two attacks, and plays around Espeon-EX. Twilight-GX is even more important than usual, because of things like an opposing baby Ninetales. That is why I have found myself trying to save the GX attack for as long as possible in this matchup unless I am presented with a really good opportunity to use it a bit earlier in the game.
I split the Gardevoir decks into two different categories because I feel the matchups play out very differently. I have found that the “optimal” Gardevoir decklist struggles in the mirror match due to all of the Max Potions. Each Max Potion removes an entire turns worth of damage, which is huge in a matchup that is usually determined by board control. The opponent will never want to make a giant opposing Gardevoir-GX to knockout the Gardevoir-GX we have been poking them with, because they will set themselves to be easily knocked out in return and spend a ton of resources doing it.
This is a matchup that I think Max Potions really seal the deal in. Not only is one of the opposing attackers essentially useless due to Gallade, but Max Potions can repeatedly negate First Impressions. While the small pokes you make do after a Max Potion will usually just get answered by an Acerola, this gives you extra time to start putting energy on a benched Gardevoir-GX. Usually a Gardevoir-GX will be able to OHKO a Golisopod-GX after two turns of giving it energy. Outside of cards like Tapu Fini-GX, Golisopod will usually have no good answer for this, and this Gardevoir-GX will end up taking an additional one to two prizes.
I actually think this mirror match is super fun and pretty skillful! My general thoughts on mirror matches is that they are usually unskillful and not enjoyable. However, I think this one is one of the rare exceptions. Assuming both players setup well and have the same amount of Max Potions, I think this match usually goes very late in the game and comes down to resource management.
Twilight-GX will almost always happen on both sides of the board, and I do think that managing this GX attack is extremely important. Not only do you obviously want to get the correct ten cards back, you also need to be careful about when you use the Twilight-GX attack. Both players will be putting very little energy on their Gardevoirs, which means that small pokes with Infinite Force will be the main source of damage in this mirror. This is what makes Max Potion so good: getting the first knockout without overextending is the key to victory.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 30
Energy – 10
This is the list that Michael Long has been piloting to some impressive finishes, and I have to say that I think his list is perfect for the current metagame. Most Greninja lists struggle to have an even balance of techs and consistency, as it is difficult to do both. The removal of Guzma from this deck really opened up a lot of space in the deck for other techs, which seemingly went toward cards like Tapu Fini-GX and Espeon-EX. Each tech has certainly earned its spot in my testing, as I have been making great use of Tapu Fini-GX, Espeon-EX, and the Enhanced Hammers in one way or another.
I have found the Enhanced Hammers to be solid all around in the meta, as almost every deck plays Special Energy. They really bring the disruption that Greninja needs to the table, especially when combined with an N. As for Tapu Fini-GX and Espeon-EX, they have both been used in several situational instances. Overall, I would say that they have been especially strong against Gardevoir-GX and Golisipod-GX. To anyone that dismisses Greninja without giving it a chance due to its “inconsistency issues” I have to say that this list is worth a shot. While it does draw dead on occasion, I would say it does it just as much as most decks in the format.
I will be going over these matchups as if none of the opposing decks have a Giratina promo. Obviously, that card swings every matchup pretty drastically.
This is a matchup that Greninja players love to see! I know it sounds strange, as Greninja used to struggle with Garbotoxin. Nowadays Greninja just needs a couple turns of Abilities to secure a win, which can easily be done through Field Blower. The Enhanced Hammers are a nice tool to have against Drampa/Garbodor; removing a DCE or two can really slow them down. Greninja BREAK’s 170 HP is what causes so many problems for Drampa, as it is unable to take a knockout in one attack. Tapu Koko would be a great inclusion in Drampa-GX/Garbodor if you are worried about the Greninja matchup, as it makes for perfect math with Beserk.
On a similar note, Po Town is actually crucial in this matchup for the exact same reason. However, Evodsoda and Field Blower make it pretty difficult to rely on Po Town as a solution to this problem. One thing that I think gets overlooked in this matchup is the importance of Garbodor GRI; Trashlanche can end up hitting for quite a lot of damage. I would say that the best opportunity for a “standard” Drampa/Garbodor to win would be through taking OHKOs with Trashlanche, but that is reliant on the Greninja player drawing awkward/bad hands.
This matchup is favored for Greninja of course, but I think this matchup is much closer than a lot of people think. Volcanion can apply a lot of pressure in the early game, and will generally take at least two prizes before Greninja even does damage. In addition to this, Greninja will have to spend time hitting into the Volcanion STS that took said knockouts. Turtonator-GX with Fighting Fury Belt is the reason I think this matchup is so much better than it once was, because it gives you a way of knocking out a Greninja BREAK in one attack without using Abilities. The game usually comes down to whether Greninja can stabilize in time, which I would say happens more often than not.
This matchup seems like Ninetales-GX would be a favorite to win because of Ice Path-GX and the ability to knockout Greninja Breaks pretty easily. With either one Tapu Koko attack, or the use of a Professor Kukui, Blizzard Edge knocks out Greninja Break. However, Espeon-EX is the MVP in this matchup, and usually ends up completely wiping the opponent’s field of attackers. After just one Giant Water Shuriken on any opposing stage one, Espeon-EX will be able to devolve it for a knockout. This usually means that after one to two attacks, and two to three Giant Water Shurikens, Espeon-EX can come up and work its magic.
I have these listed together because despite the decks having very different lists, I would say that both matches play out pretty similarly. Greninja is certainly favored against both versions, and that is currently the #1 reason to play Greninja at any tournament. I talked about this matchup a bit earlier in the article, but I will go over it again a bit more here.
Ideally the opponent does not have Sylveon-GX, because that is their biggest weapon against our army of frogs. Sylveon-GX will allow them to setup very well, and also offers the threat of Plea-GX which can be pretty devastating. I think that a majority of the times I have lost this matchup, I ended up only Water Duplicating for two Frogadiers due to draws/prizes, then had these two frog evolution lines returned to my hand with Plea-GX at some point in the game.
The goal is so setup as much as possible as usual and start Shadow Stiching right away. Tapu Fini-GX will help keep opposing Gardevoir-GX in check, as any Gardevoir-GX that gets too much energy on it can just get shuffled back in. Espeon-EX is also a nice tool to have for this matchup because it can severely reduce the amount of damage/attacks needed to rid the opponent’s board of Gardevoirs and/or Energy.
Unfortunately for our homie Greninja, Golisopod-GX is an extremely efficient Grass attacker that starts attacking from turn two and has access to a lot of healing via Acerola. This causes a lot of trouble for Greninja, and generally results in a loss. While Greninja does have some tricks up it’s sleeve that can steal some wins, I would certainly call this matchup as unfavored. Greninja can use Tapu Fini-GX to remove the last Golisopod-GX off the board, but that means that Greninja has to deal with two other Golisopod-GX first. This is generally done by utilizing Espeon-EX to devolve both Golisopod-GX in the same turn.
This mirror match is sadly very boring and pretty reliant on which player goes first. Assuming no one plays Max Potion and no one prizes a Frogadier, whoever goes first gets to use Moonlight Slash to knockout an opposing Frogadier on turn three, and still get to start using Shadow Stitching before the opponent has an opportunity to take advantage of Giant Water Shuriken. Both players will end up just Shadow Stitching each other until one player runs out of Greninjas or decks out.
That is all for this article SixPrizes readers! I hope that this article will help everyone get locked in for London and prepare for upcoming League Cups. While I am not a fan of a lot of the new cards, I do like how the meta has been shaping out. I am very excited to compete at London this week, and then I will quickly transition back to the Expanded Format for San Jose Regionals. My next article will be coming out right after San Jose, so I will definitely talk about my experience at these events! Until then, feel free to come up and say hi at either tournament if you happen to be in attendance!
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