At long last, I have finally begun to compete once again. Between the middle of October and all of November, I had precisely zero events to attend which made the road to 400 Championship Points seem all the more arduous. Many of my friends and peers are already well over that initial threshold or getting very close to crossing it and yet I am not even 25% complete. Thankfully, my competitive drive is firing on all cylinders and within the early days of December, I have already tripled my amount of Play Points.
Tracking the results of the European International Championships had left many questions in my head. Had Gardevoir truly been relegated to Tier 2? Was Tord’s deck the undisputed BDIF? What place did decks like Sivally-GX/Metal and Lycanroc-GX/Buzzswole-GX have in the new meta-game? It was a lot to answer in such a short period of time!
Like many, my initial curiosity coaxed me into exploring Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX first. I played Decidueye-GX decks for almost exclusively after the release of Sun and Moon, so I knew I would have the experience needed to Feather Arrow appropriately. Though never really practicing with Decidueye-GX after losing Forest of Giant Plants, I was not surprised to see that it could have some success. In a format full of Evolutions, it seemed like a natural counter to many decks, and while much of this strength is predicated on the sheer awe of Espeon-EX, Zoroark-GX does make a good partner—albeit the pairing is little more than mashing two strong cards together.
I touched on this briefly in my last article but my list has evolved considerably since then so I would like to showcase it first before continuing:
Pokémon – 21
Trainers – 33
Energy – 6
The community’s reception for this deck (as far as I can tell) has been lukewarm at best. Many say it isn’t very good, others tend to claim that it easily should’ve won the EUIC, with others falling somewhere in between. Speaking personally, I think that I would put myself somewhere in that “other” categorization. I was underwhelmed in my initial testing with the deck, but I absolutely believe that there are hypothetical metagames where this deck is close to unstoppable.
Against many of the “anti-meta” decks coming out of London, I believe this deck to be strongly favored. Silvally-GX and its various Metal friends can do next to nothing against a heavy onslaught of Zoroark. The same can mostly be said of Lycanroc-GX/Buzzswole-GX as well, given a proper set-up and the weakness of Lycanroc to Decidueye. Things start to get much shakier when those decks are less prominent and decks like Garbodor and Volcanion begin to emerge once again. I imagine that the traditional Drampa-GX/Garbodor with lots of Po Town would be incredibly difficult for this deck, and you would likely need a much beefier Zoroark line to have a shot against Volcanion.
The biggest point of contention for this deck, however, is whether or not it should beat Gardevoir-GX. Given the traditional build for Gardevoir early this year that focused more on Sylveon-GX, I think that this incarnation of Decidueye-GX would absolutely be the favored option, but the “Broken,” or Max Potion heavy, list makes things far more interesting. It is a lot harder to stack the appropriate damage in order to swing the game with one incredible Miraculous Shine when healing (and potentially Mr. Mime) can put such a damper on that strategy.
Zoroark-GX is a danger of being slaughtered by Gallade throughout the game. I have not completely written off this matchup, but I spent a good amount of time testing it with our own Mikey Fouchet and it seemed quite even, if not slightly favored for the Gardevoir-GX player. As mentioned earlier, this point is incredibly contestable and perhaps nothing short of blasphemy for a Decidueye-GX apologist. I have talked to many who share my opinion and others who feel very strongly about the contrary and thusly, I am still eager to test this matchup in order to figure it out.
With my experience with Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX coming up somewhat lackluster, I then turned to the only major deck that I had yet to spend any amount of time with this season: Gardevoir-GX. I think one could absolutely attribute my somewhat dismal results from Quarter 1 on the brute fact that I simply refused to play Gardevoir at any of the events I was able to attend. I failed to practice with it for the 2016-2017 World Championships and the early portion of the 2017-2018 season simply because I did not own any of the cards (a poor excuse, but I was indeed quite poor before starting my new job). Thankfully, this was a very resolvable issue and equip with the missing cards, I became confident in simply not worrying and sleeving up my new pink friends.
Christopher’s list for “Broken” Gardevoir is essentially perfect and ought to be everyone’s starting point for choosing their own 60. Leading up to my first League Cup, I talked to Mikey Fouchet (a cardinal member of the Church of Gardevoir) in great length about the list and we came to agree that the only flex spot in the list was that second Gallade.
I was initially a staunch advocate of the second card being included in the list to deal with the increased threat of Metal and Zoroark-GX decks but Mikey himself was less convinced. All the card really did was make an unfavorable matchup slightly more favorable (though not enough to swing it entirely) and would be a dead card in a great many of other scenarios. For instance, you’ll never really want to have two Gallade out over any amount of Gardevoir, and so having that increased chance may be an unneeded temptation.
The two of us played back and forth with a number of options for that 60th slot and while I think a lot can go into making that final call, the best options for it are:
Gallade BKT: As proven by Christopher’s own success.
Oranguru SUM : A consistency option if either piece of Octillery is prized that has some utility as an attacker.
Professor Sycamore: Increased consistency is never bad given your deck is not in dire need of any other options.
Alolan Vulpix: See above.
Parallel City: The second stadium option is useful against almost everything but moreover, it is incredibly detrimental against Zoroark-GX that need to have a full bench in order to deal optimal amounts of damage.
Giratine Promo: Problem with Greninja? Look no further!
League Cup #1: Gardevoir-GX w/ Mr. Mime
Round 1: TOM L
Round 2: Mirror W
Round 3: Mirror WW
Round 4: Buzzswole-GX/Lycanroc-GX WW
Round 5: ID
Top 8: Drampa-GX/Garbodor LL
6th Place +25
In my initial survey of the tables and decklists being filled out, I noticed a fair amount of Decidueye-GX and Buzzswole decks floating around and decided that Mr. Mime was likely my best option as the last card for the day.
My day began somewhat dismally as I failed to notice that my name was not on the player roster and I received a round one loss. Though an unfortunate way to start the day, I was still confident that I would have no difficult making Top Cut if I could dodge the few Metal decks that were lurking about, which I was successful in doing. After playing the mirror twice, I found that I was a huge fan of this matchup as it is incredibly slow and methodical. If both players have an even speed of setting up, the game becomes a test of patience over who is willing to commit and who is willing to try and play catch up. In my first round, we played a 45 minute Game 1 and I found myself in control the whole time, as I chose to use Twilight GX much earlier than my opponent, which forced him to give up the tempo to respond after we had already begun trading attacks.
Given a perfect run in swiss, I was confident going into Top 8, but my luck was nowhere to be found in these games. Though I think this matchup is a lot harder than the community seems to be giving it credit at the moment, poor draws and poor prizes kept me from doing much of anything against my opponent but thinking back on it, I think I could have played better which may have made the difference in at least one of the games. My opponent played well and this mostly-standard Drampa-GX/Garbodor list would go on to win the whole tournament.
Round 1: Drampa-GX/Garbodor WLW
Round 2: Espeon-GX/Drampa-GX/Garbodor WW
Round 3: Zoroark-GX/Golispod-GX LL
Round 4: Sivally-GX/Registeel/Celesteela-GX WW
Round 5: Zoroark-GX/Decidueye-GX WW
Round 6: ID
Top 8: Sivally-GX/Registeel/Celesteela-GX WLL
5th Place +25
The initial third of this tournament gave me some much-needed vindication against Garbodor decks. After taking a loss to it in Top Cut the previous weekend, I had become somewhat shaken that the matchup may be a little more difficult than my peers give it credit for but with some much better draws on my side, I found that they are definitely favored for Gardevoir-GX. My Round 1 was against my exact same opponent from Top 8 last weekend, and while our matches were close, I was glad to get the runback here. Interestingly enough, I found the version with Espeon-GX to be much easier, as Psychic poses little threat against all your healing potential, and you can just keep one energy on the Gardevoir and two-shot everything—eventually, sweeping with a giant Infinite Force.
My round against Golispod-GX/Zoroark-GX was just an instance of never setting up. Between poor prizes and never finding Rare Candy, I took zero prizes between the two games and simply N’d, or got N’d, and passed. I believe this matchup to be good if not slightly favored, but sometimes your various Stage 2 Pokémon will refuse to cooperate. From here, I had mostly smooth sailing and vanquished two decks that were allegedly favorable against “Brokenvoir” and ID’d with Zak Krekeler who played an interesting Xerneas Break deck to a Top 4 finish.
Two weekends in a row, I ran smack into the one deck I needed to avoid in the Top 8, and it got the better of me here. Despite my loss, I do believe this matchup to be slightly in your favor if you have the luck of opening with any Pokémon that Registeel does not KO for one energy. Despite my meager +50 Championship Points over two tournaments, I do still believe that Gardevoir is the best deck. Over the course of longer tournaments, I have no doubt that can go 7-2 with relative ease. Some will dispute this, while many others share my opinion, but the fact of the matter is that the biggest “counter” decks are only slightly favored (at best) against you and if this is indeed the case, then there is little to fear.
The only deck in the entire Standard format that I believe should beat Gardevoir-GX is Greninja BREAK, which has its own plethora of issues. However, I have closely been following the results from League Cups over the past two weekends and will never expect there to be any majority of players choosing to play this deck. There are absolutely a handful of loyalists that seem to choose this deck no matter what but that should only make up a handful of players in a field that is the biggest its ever been.
I think that I favor Greninja quite a bit more than most of our writers here at SixPrizes, and yet I do not think I would consider it for Memphis. It strikes me much more as a deck that thrives in smaller metagames with fewer chances for its weaknesses to become apparent. That said, it does make this shortlist of my “Hot Picks“ for the weekend and while I have no personal list to offer, I do not think that you can go wrong with the established skeleton that Michael Long and Jon Eng have been thriving with all season.
Another deck worth mentioning is Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX. I understand that this deck has become somewhat of a meme within the community with various players using “Bulu” as some sort of insult or derogative label but there are murmurings of a list that has all the answers to the current format. Allegedly. At any rate, I think that this deck does have some chance to flourish in a field with very minimal Garbodor decks, and I would be highly shocked to see any Garbodor make top 32 in Memphis, so perhaps the right list is a correct play. I know that Travis Nunlist plans to touch on the deck later this week, so I will save my breath and let him convince you to “Bulu” it up this weekend.
Jimmy Pendarvis wrote on Lycanroc-GX/Zoroark-GX in his last article but it also deserves a spot on this list. I first heard about the deck from my friend and excellent player Jose Marrero, but it has picked up a lot of steam over the past weekend with some first place finishes from former 6P writers Dustin Zimmerman and Michael Slutsky. I believe that the deck functions very similarly to Tord’s Golispod-GX version of the deck where you simply have two very powerful and low maintenance Pokémon that dominate in the early game and win by taking too early of a lead for a slower deck to surmount. I am not positive whether the deck is truly an improvement on the Golispod-GX variant but perhaps if more Volcanion decks are anticipated then it would be wise to switch your backup attacker for Zoroark. For reference, here is Dustin Zimmerman’s first place list from this past weekend:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 33
1 Energy Lotto
Energy – 9
The final deck I wish to discuss is the one piloted by Zak Krekeler that I was able to take note of over the weekend. I do not have the exact list but I think what is listed below will be within a card or two. Xerneas BREAK decks, while never popular, have always been fairly powerful options. I had a couple friends who favored the deck against almost everything last format but felt that it lost a considerable amount of power with the introduction of Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion. Zak’s list attempts to use some of the new Counter cards to give the deck a better chance against any opposition and while I have not tested the deck yet, I am rather intrigued by the following list.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 30
Energy – 15
The idea of the deck is simply to use Geomancy over and over again for the first three to four turns and then take a succession of knockouts against two-prize Pokémon. The deck tends to be somewhat slow and will intentionally fall behind early on but with the introduction of both Counter Energy and Catcher, you can easily get back into the game. Xerneas BREAK thrives against Pokémon like Golispod-GX and Zoroark-GX who cannot OHKO (outside of Crossing Cut-GX) your non-EX attacker. Gardevoir-GX can be problematic if they are able to evolve very quickly but Cobalion can help that somewhat. I know the deck historically was somewhat reliant on EXP Share but I do not believe that Zak played any and thus this may be a mistake on my part.
I hope you enjoyed my article today! Being able to compete for once has me all sorts of excited and I cannot wait to see what Memphis will do to shakeup the meta-game. If I had to guess, I think that Gardevoir-GX will be able to overcome all opposition but perhaps we’ll see some amalgation of the “Broken” lists and Sylveon-GX lists.
Expanded will be our first Regional of 2018 and after seeing the combined dominance of Zoroark-GX and Night March, I am eagerly awaiting the next Quarterly Announcement from TPCI. I would not be surprised to see something new happen to the Night Marcher or some of their tools but I am confident that Expanded is still in a good position. I wish everyone the best of luck in the coming weeks and hope to have some wonderful results and observations to report on later this month.
Until next time!
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