Hello SixPrizes readers! It’s Jimmy back with another article, and man do I have a lot to talk about. It has been a Poké-packed couple of months for me, so I am definitely glad to have a short break from traveling! That being said, today I am going to review my experience in San Jose, talk about London a bit, and share my thoughts on the standard format heading into Memphis. In the expanded format, I will be taking a look at two of my most played decks in recent years: Sableye/Garbodor and Night March! On the other side of things, I will review the Stage 2 powerhouses of standard: Gardevoir-GX and Decidueye-GX.
I didn’t get home from London until Tuesday, and I left for San Jose on Thursday, which left me with no time to test for the event at home. I played a few games with Sableye once I arrived at my hotel, and they were all going pretty well. No matchup felt like a poor one when I was playing against the popular decks, but I did feel the burn of Ghetsis quite a few times. This made me consider playing the Night March deck that all of my friends played, but I decided to stick with my boy Sableye as I firmly believed I would make day two with the deck. Crimson Invasion brought a few tools to the table for Sableye, and they are definitely some incredibly strong ones. Gladion, Counter Catcher, and Peaking Red Card all made their way into my list for the event, and I even made a couple other changes from my Daytona list.
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 40
1 Life Dew
Energy – 6
4/2-2 Garbodor Line
This is a very thick Garbodor line, and I feel the need to explain it. It may seem odd that I finally added a second copy of Garbodor BKP immediately after Gladion was released and included in the deck, but is because I found it very important to get the Garbodor out ASAP against decks like Zoroark-GX and Gardevoir-GX, which usually mean’t Gladion was too slow of an option. In addition to this, the second copy of Garbodor allowed me to draw into it easier if none were prized.
While this card is not essential to the lock, and is sometimes not found in other Sableye/Garbodor lists, I am a huge fan of this inclusion. I would have to say that this card was my MVP this weekend, as I lost several Game 1s, and this card allowed me to finish Games 2 and 3 before time expired. Not only does this card help speed up games immensely, but it also reduces the number of turns that the opponent needs to remain locked out of the game by Trick Shovel. Even just a couple of heads significantly lowers the amount of turns they will have to get lucky and have three playable cards in a row on top of their deck.
This card is an incredible addition, and I am definitely glad I have this card to work with instead of the Rotom Dex I played at Daytona Regionals. While it does take up your Supporter for the turn, it has a better effect than Computer Search when it is getting used. Gladion makes sure that you will never lose a game by prizing something crucial like Life Dew, Trick Shovel, or two Puzzle of Time.
I didn’t miss the third copy of this card in testing, or in the actual tournament. I really only needed them against Gardevoir-GX, but it doesn’t even play that big of a role in the matchup. Enhanced Hammer is way more important against the current meta, and it usually means that Crushing Hammer is essentially a dead card. I think I could’ve played the tournament with zero Crushing Hammer and still had the same record I ended with, 5-3-1, if not better.
This is yet another solid card that Sableye gained from Crimson Invasion. It has a lot of uses, but I would say I mostly use it after I Delinquent my opponent to very few cards, or my opponent uses a ton of cards on the first turn and I am unable to Delinquent them. In addition to this, it is nice to be able to disrupt the opponent’s hand while still playing a different Supporter, such as Professor Juniper.
This card has a couple specific uses, but you could always catch a Zoroark player holding two DCE and just win the game. I would include this card if you expect to play against a lot of Greninja, because it makes the matchup even more favorable. This card can also really help against Night March, but dedicating a whole turn to it can be pretty risky.
With the drop in popularity of Trevenant and Darkrai-EX, this card lost a lot of its value, but it could find a way back into the deck if those decks start seeing play again. Hex also became less important when I added in a second copy of Garbodor BKP, which is why I ended up removing it.
This is the one and only Trevenant counter! I would definitely include this tech if I expected to play against Trevenant decks, but Zoroark-GX has stopped them from coming out of the forest recently.
“What Went Wrong?”
I have had a lot of people ask me what went wrong, so here are a few things that caused problems for me during the tournament.
While it is unreasonable to expect to get through an Expanded tournament without being on the receiving end of a Quaking Punch, I also didn’t expect to play against decks containing a tech Seismitoad-EX in seven of my rounds. Despite having the tools to handle the Toad, including the Xerosic I added, I lost a full round because my opponent just Quaking Punched me to death in two of the games.
This was the real killer. While I only lost one full round to this card, I had to deal with it in six or seven of my matches, which made my day a whole lot tougher. Not only can the opponent ruin my start by just going first and using Ghetsis, but they can also continuously disrupt my hand after I use Junk Hunt at any point in the game. I had to deal with this pain when playing against the better Garbodor lists in Daytona, which resulted in a tie and a loss during day two.
I also think it is worth noting that these two cards will only become more and more popular in the Expanded format because they are both very helpful against Night March and Gardevoir-GX. Ghetsis is just an insanely powerful card all around, and this weekend left me wondering why it ever saw a decrease in popularity.
I have thought about it a lot, and while testing could prove otherwise, I feel it is a bad idea to play Sableye in its current form moving forward. Ghetsis causes a lot of issues, and the only way around it is to revamp the deck’s engine, which is certainly something that could work out. This could mean more Shaymin-EX for early game draw, as it counteracts Ghetsis quite nicely. Benching the extra Pokémon-EX is not a huge deal because of Parallel City.
However, while this may assist with Ghetsis going second, it won’t really help against a mid-game Ghetsis while you are still trying to establish the lock. While it may seem easy to just keep a supporter in your hand before Junk Hunting, it is not always possible. In addition to this, aggressive decks like Night March don’t care if you play a Professor Juniper and then just simply Junk Hunt again, they will just keep taking knockouts. This could mean that adding more N to the deck will help with this issue, but that is definitely something I will have to test before stating as fact.
This is the list that Peter Kica built, and all of my other friends played in the event. All of them did pretty well with the list, and it netted a whopping 670 Championship Points on the weekend. It is clear that the deck was very well positioned for the weekend, with a majority of it’s matchups being quite strong, and I wish I would have played it instead of Sableye.
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 35
Energy – 4
2-2 Zoroark-GX Line
What more could you ask for? Zoroark-GX is a solid early game attacker that can answer Trevenant and Seismitoad-EX quite well. In addition to this, the Trade Ability has a ton of synergy with the deck. It can discard Night Marchers that sometimes clog up your hand, and it makes the deck N-proof at the end of the game. While it does only draw two additional cards, that means that you see at least four cards after an N to one. Night March usually has a tiny deck that is packed with outs, which means that four is actually a relatively large number.
I played this deck at the San Jose League Challenge on Sunday, and immediately noticed how powerful Hex Maniac is in the deck. Against a couple Zoroark players, I went first and used Hex Maniac, and then for the next turn or two I would use Hex Maniac and then take a knockout. This makes it incredibly hard for them to keep up, and usually denies them access to an early Brigette. Hex can also be game winning against a few of the less popular decks, such as Trevenant, Greninja, or Archie’s Blastoise.
This card might seem like a random inclusion, but it actually makes a lot of sense. If you already have a DCE to attack with for the turn, you can Ghetsis the opponent and try to make it harder for them to respond to your KO. Also, when going first, their are some matchups where you would rather use Ghetsis than burn through your deck. Ghetsis is a similar concept to Hex Maniac, but both of them have their intended uses.
This is a fantastic inclusion in the deck! Definitely better than Computer Search in my mind. Being able to reuse a Puzzle of Time when three are in the discard is pretty insane, and can be the difference between winning and losing. Dowsing also helps to play around Karen, as it means that you have access to an extra Battle Compressor to discard Night Marchers with.
This is pretty good in Night March mirror, which I think will increase in popularity at future expanded events. Other than that, it is just a surprising way to force an EX onto the opponent’s board at the end of the game, especially against decks like Gardevoir that expect you to have to deal 230.
With Ghetsis on the rise, this probably is a good idea. The problem is that the deck is very tight on space, which makes it hard to justify removing a tech card for a potentially unnecessary consistency card. I didn’t notice the deck running out of supporters, so that is not really an issue. However, I had a slew of hands where if I had gone second and walked into a Ghetsis I would have been placed in topdeck mode immediately.
This mirror match is not one that I am a fan of, as it ends very quickly and leaves little room for strategy. The main goal is to not bench any Pokémon-EX, other than possibly Zoroark-GX, while taking a knockout every turn. When going first, Ghetsis is the ideal turn one supporter as it could prevent the opponent from taking a knockout on turn one. Even if it doesn’t, weakening their opening hand could force them to bench a Shaymin-EX in order to get things going. This is a matchup where Target Whistle would swing things in that player’s favor for sure.
This matchup is actually quite poor for Night March. Peter Kica started off Day 2 a stellar 0-3 after facing this deck three rounds in a row, which points to just how bad it is. Normally the combination of Seismitoad-EX + Karen is very manageable for Night March, especially now that Zoroark-GX can two shot a Seismitoad-EX with little effort. However, Alolan Muk makes it much harder to recover from a Karen, even with the Zoroark-GX handling the immediate threat of the Toad.
In my experience, the Seismitoad will just make its way out of the active after taking damage, and an opposing Zoroark-GX will 1HKO the Zoroark-GX Night March has been attacking with. Sure, Night March could then potentially discard a ton of Night Marchers and then take a knockout, but a second Karen will leave Night March with no resources left.
This matchup is much more manageable because Alolan Muk is out of the picture. It will play differently than the straight Zoroark matchup too, as they generally don’t play the Seismitoad-EX/Karen package and rely on Oricorio to take care of things. This means that the pace of the game will be very quick, as both players are simply racing to take 6 Prizes. Night March should make use of Hex Maniac in the early game, as it will slow down Zoroark quite a bit. This is especially true if used turn one and two, as Zoroark will likely not be able to access Brigette. Zoroark should also be looking to use Hex Maniac while taking knockouts, as it could prevent Night March from returning the KO. Not being able to use Marshadow-GX and Shaymin-EX is a pretty big deal, especially if Hex Maniac is chained multiple turns in a row. I know that this strategy is how my teammate Rahul was defeated in top four of San Jose.
This is a matchup that Joltik was hoping to march into all weekend, as it is a very favored one for Night March. Not only is Gardevoir very slow, but it is hard for them to include and make good use of Night March “counters.” Night March’s goal is to apply as much pressure as possible and take knockouts every turn, as usual. On the other side of things, Gardevoir should be setting up for either Toad + Karen or Oricorio, as just attacking with a Gardevoir-GX usually is not going to cut it. In my experience, Night March should try to keep Dimension Valley off the field, especially if the opponent does not have a Gardevoir-GX in play. This makes it so that if Oricorio is going to be used, it will need an energy to attack. In the scenario there no Gardevoir is in play, this means that Guzma will have to be used in order to Supernatural Dance. I expect to see a decrease in Gardevoir’s popularity in Expanded solely due to the very poor Night March matchup.
Despite people playing decks that had the sole intention of beating Gardevoir, the deck still had an incredibly strong showing at the event, taking up a whopping 28% of the top 32. Other than the differences in the Ralts/Kirlia choices, this decklist is close to the one that our very own Christopher Schemanske piloted to third place at the EUIC.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
This Kirlia’s attack is a lot better, and it can actually have an impact on the game in certain situations. As an additional bonus, it is weak Psychic instead of Metal, which seems to be a better weakness to have at the moment. Three is the right number of Kirlia to play because it helps to work around the devolution strategy that some decks attempt. The third copy of Kirlia also allows you to setup without using a few Rare Candy.
2/2 Ralts Split
This is nice to have against Metal decks. The version that plays all Fairy Ralts can sometimes run into trouble in the early game against Registeel, and there really isn’t too much of a downside to using a couple of the Psychic ones.
This card is what makes people call Gardevoir “Broken Deck,” and there is good reasoning why. The four Max Potions make it very hard to ever Knock Out a Gardevoir-GX, especially because they can be reused via Twilight-GX. These Max Potions are especially good against decks that revolve around the devolution strategy.
With four Max Potions, Energy become a very desired resource. The two copies of Super Rod ensure you don’t run out of Energy before you want to use Twilight-GX. Obviously Twilight will make it so that you have plenty of energy, but the Super Rods are useful before and after.
With all of the Zoroark-GX decks popping up, this second Gallade would probably put in a lot of work. It deals with Zoroark quite easily, and is not the easiest Pokémon to get Knocked Out immediately in return. It usually means that the opponent is forced to GX attack it with Golisipod-GX, but that is a pretty inefficient answer. It leaves the Golisipod-GX open to a Guzma + KO play, which would put the Gardevoir player in a dominating position.
The mirror match has actually become pretty skillful due to the inclusion of Max Potion in the deck, which is definitely a step up from how the matchup played out originally. It is hard to describe the matchup, as the games can play out a few different ways. Generally speaking, the goal is to keep a low amount of energy attached and just two shot the opposing Gardevoir-GX. Getting the first 2 Prizes is a great step to winning, as it means you have initiative in the Prize trade. This gives you the option to try and start chasing prizes instead of going with the two shot strategy, but it really depends on your hand and what resources you have left.
This matchup is pretty favored for Gardevoir, which really makes me question why this deck is getting so much hype. Sure, it worked out for Tord and he won the EUIC, but how can you ignore the fact that it is unfavored against the best deck in the format? In my mind, you can’t. Anyway, the reason why I think the matchup is so unfavored is because of Gallade. Gallade makes it so that the Gardevoir deck can knockout a zoroark for little effort, and then force the GX attack out of Golisopod-GX.
If they are unable to Crossing Cut it immediately, it will almost certainly take another 2 Prizes. Even if they manage the Gallade, it leaves the Golisopod-GX open to being Knocked Out via Guzma. This sequence of events leaves Gardevoir at just 2 Prizes, and Zoroark has no way of Knocking Out a Gardevoir in one hit. This makes it easy to take the remaining 2 Prizes, especially considering that Max Potions can continuously keep a Gardevoir-GX alive.
This certainly seems like it would be an awful matchup for Gardevoir, right? Well, I would have to say that it is no where close to an auto-loss, even with the weakness issue. We saw Christopher play this matchup twice on stream, and the matches were the complete opposite side of the spectrum. In the first match, we saw him setup smoothly and overpower Yasin with a large Gardevoir-GX. In the second match, against the finalist Zak Krekeler, we witnessed Zak setup a slew of attackers and make it too difficult for Christopher to keep up.
Psychic Ralts certainly help Gardevoir’s case, so we should be at least a split moving forward. In addition to this, some players have been including a second copy of Gallade in their lists, which would help this matchup out at least a little bit. The game plan for Gardevoir is to get aggressive with a Gallade early on, as Silvally-GX is weak to Fighting. This makes it harder for the Metal attackers to get energy on them, and could mean only having to deal with one Celasteela-GX.
I have mixed feelings about this matchup, as I saw Gardevoir players get wrecked in this matchup on stream. I then tested the matchup, and felt like Gardevoir was about 50-50 with the Buzzwole deck. It felt like the games really came down to how quickly Gardevoir was able to setup and start attacking. Gardevoir would likely be a heavy favorite in the matchup if it included a Mr. Mime. This would help to take off a lot of pressure and give Gardevoir additional time to setup. This also makes Vulpix a lot easier to use, as it can Beacon without multiple Basics being setup to get Knocked Out.
Dangerous Rogue-GX is generally how they take two of their prizes, but they somewhat struggle to take prizes otherwise once you’re setup. This makes Max Potion very valuable, as it is great for prize denial and board control. I recommend not getting out Gallade in this matchup, as getting out two Gardevoir-GX is very important, given the first one usually falls very quickly to their GX attack.
This is the list that I played at the EUIC, and ended up with a pretty disappointing 5-2-2 finish. I started feeling pretty sick about half way through the tournament, and despite being 5-0 at the time, it really overwhelmed me and made it difficult to even finish the event. I do think I would have at least made Day 2 if I wasn’t feeling so bad, but I will never know for sure. Anyway, I certainly still believe that this deck is very well positioned in the current meta, especially after seeing the results of London.
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 34
Energy – 6
2-2 Zoroark-GX Line
The main attacker of the deck! With a full bench, Zoroark swings for 120 damage. While that might not seem like much, toss on a Choice Band and add in some Feather Arrows, and Zoroark is 1HKOing a lot of opposing attackers. Zoroark’s Trade is also incredible in this deck, as it really helps you setup your Decidueyes and find energy to attack with. Without Zoroark-GX’s release, Decidueye-GX would still be long forgotten.
Zoroark has a beefy 210 HP, which survives most attacks in the current metagame. This means that Max Potion can be incredibly punishing, especially when Zoroark has the opportunity to Knock things Out in one hit after being fully healed. Decidueye-GX also has a hefty 240 HP, and I sometimes find myself Hollow Hunting for two or three Max Potions at the end of the game. When the opponent is low on resources already, Max Potion becomes even more valuable, and can allow for some pretty insane comebacks to happen.
This card is a nice inclusion in the deck, and I really think it helps the deck have smoother starts. It can simply search out a Zoroark on turn two, or help setup multiple Decidueye by turn three through evolving manually. It also gets around PO Town, which is something I was especially concerned about heading into the EUIC.
This is a necessary inclusion because of the three Max Potion that are also in the deck. I have been a huge fan of this card in the deck, and I certainly won’t be taking it out.
2 G Energy
This helps boost consistency a bit, and I think it could be worth the spot. It would mean that prizes becomes less of an issue, which is always a nice bonus. It would help to prevent the very hated Tapu Lele-GX start, which helps manage bench space better. In addition to this, having a Zorua KO’d early with the current list really limits the deck’s options, so having the third Zorua would be beneficial in that scenario as well.
This is a great answer to Buzzwole-GX, which can sometimes cause problems for our bird friend. I got the idea from Tord’s EUIC list, and I think it could be a smart idea to make the same inclusion in this deck.
This is a matchup I was hoping to hit the entire tournament, but never actually did. I tested the matchup a ton, and would say Decidueye is a clear favorite to win. Even against lists that run Mr. Mime, while I would say the games are much closer, they are still in Decidueye’s favor. Decidueye’s Feather Arrow, in combination with Tapu Koko, makes it very easy to devolve a couple Pokémon with Espeon-EX and take control of the game. While Max Potion helps prevent this, it is much harder to stop the devolution strategy than usual because of Feather Arrows. Not only can Decidueye spread out the damage very well, which makes it harder to get value from Max Potion, but three Feather Arrows can be used immediately before Espeon-EX goes in for the Miraculous Shine.
This is also a deck that popped up as the EUIC, and Tord’s list with Puzzle of Time will likely be quite popular moving forward. The matchup is definitely favored for Decidueye, despite the Zoroark deck’s incredible ability to target down Dartrix. I actually played against Magnus, who Top 8’d with the same list as Tord, and we tied because the matchup takes a long time to play out. However, I was very ahead in Game 3, and feel I would have won if we had another ten minutes.
Basically, my plan in these games was to get out 2 Decidueye, and then place twenty damage on all of his benched attackers. That way, when I hit into the Active, Acerola still results in one of his attackers being Knocked Out. He would promote a Golisipod-GX or Zoroark-GX with twenty damage on it, and then I would place an additional forty damage with Feather Arrows, leaving it to be Knocked Out by Righteous Beating immediately.
This is a deck that gained a lot of hype because of how well it did at the EUIC. While it has decent matchups against most other decks, I think that Decidueye is heavily favored against it. Being able to Feather Arrow around makes setting up KOs very easy, and Zoroark-GX can start applying pressure right away. Max Potions will be pretty helpful in this matchup, as outside of using Fighting Memory to KO a Zoroark-GX, Silvally doesn’t have a great way of 1HKOing things. Tapu Koko with a Choice Band is also a solid attacking option, as it hits a Silvally for 50 and sets up attackers on the bench to be Knocked Out.
I have not tested this matchup, and while Buzzwole techs normally don’t cause problems, I think this matchup is probably unfavored for our bird friend without the inclusion of Mewtwo EVO. The deck just seems very aggressive, and while Zoroark could normally help to relieve that pressure, it’s Fighting weakness is not helping our case here. Tapu Lele-GX and Decidueye-GX are probably the best attacking options in this matchup.
Tapu Lele can be constantly healed through the use of Max Potion while still doing quite a bit of damage with a Choice Band. If Decidueye can make it through the early game without being too far behind, it could eventually take over the game and make a comeback, but that seems unlikely given how aggressive the Buzzwole deck is. A tech Mr. Mime could completely swing this matchup, so that might be worth a spot.
That is all for today guys! Whether you are gearing up for Memphis, or just wanted a recap on San Jose, I hope that you got something out of this article! I didn’t have a whole lot of time to prepare for San Jose, which ultimately led to me picking the wrong deck, so I will definitely be testing a lot for Memphis. I like the current standard format quite a bit, as I think the format is very open at the moment. Zoroark-GX really opened up the door for a lot of support Pokémon, which allows for a lot of variety. Anyway, I will be back again at the end of the month, so I will see everyone again then!
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.