Greetings! Since their conceptions, Garbodor GRI and Zoroark-GX have been two insanely strong cards that have always been somewhat relevant. For those of you that were in Australia or watched, Espeon-GX/Garbodor managed to resurge, piloted by Connor Pedersen, who took 1st place in the Senior Division. Ben Potter also did well at an ARG event recently with a different version that ran 3 Tapu Koko and Po Town, reminiscent of Vancouver/London lists that were teched to beat Evolution decks.
Zoroark-GX was also a dominant force last weekend, taking 1st place in Juniors and 1st in Masters. It’s interesting that Zoroark-GX is versatile enough to be paired with anything. There’s a skeleton of 4-4 Zoroark-GX, Puzzle of Time, 4 Double Colorless, etc., but the majority of the other spots are left unoccupied. Sebastian went with the classic partnership of Lycanroc-GX, while the Europeans went with Gardevoir-GX/Gallade as the partner. Zoroark-GX is broken. It’s able to be played in every deck, makes the deck more consistent, and can do decent damage. It’s incredibly unhealthy, and the goal of the following list is to show you how unhealthy it can be.
To reiterate what Jimmy Pendarvis said earlier this year: “I’m going to play Sableye/Garbodor until it gets banned.” Replace Sableye/Garbodor with Zoroark-GX, and bam, it’s applicable now!
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 43
Energy – 4
This deck is disgusting. The goal of it is to set up multiple Zoroark-GX and gradually Trade away all of the useless cards in the deck. This eventually gets you to the 4 Missing Clover combo, which nets you an easy Prize. This deck only needs to take 5 Prizes to win! Even better, there’s Greedy Dice! This card belongs in Zoroark-GX decks because it can be Traded away at no cost when it isn’t prized, yet when it is, there’s a 50/50 chance to yield an extra Prize and potentially steal a game. In today’s format, many games come down to the very end where one player is able to steal a win while the opponent is left with one remaining. This deck is designed to win in these outcomes with extra ways to take easy Prizes, including Pokémon Catcher.
The rationale behind multiple Brigette in Zoroark-GX decks is so that it’s more likely to be in the opening hand, never all copies prized, and that it’s easy Trade fodder as the game progresses. As seen in Tord’s games throughout the weekend, he Traded away cards other than Brigette a majority of the time. Greedy Dice replaces 4 of the cards in the list that would be Traded away—making no difference in the end.
One great thing about this list is that it’s very versatile. I’ve found the space for 2 Enhanced Hammer, 2 Acerola, and 2 Max Potion to give this deck a huge edge against everything that takes 2HKOs. However, these could easily be changed for cards that improve other matchups like Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX or Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX that hope to do 210 damage in one turn. Another easy inclusion is Oranguru UPR to deal with mill decks. Greedy Dice + Missing Clover take up a sizable chunk of space in the deck, but are well worth it.
The cards that are in the deck aside from the skeleton or Prize mechanics are those that severely help certain matchups. Mew-EX, Giratina XY184, and Parallel City are good examples. I expect Buzzwole-GX, Greninja, and other Zoroark-GX decks to be popular, so it’s worthwhile to run these techs. The same goes for Enhanced Hammer, another great counter to the Special Energy reliant decks circulating within the meta.
Another Tapu Lele-GX would add extra consistency and another Pokémon to boost the damage of Riotous Beating. I choose to run only 2 in the list for space reasons because I find the healing package more important. Near the end of the game, this deck is more often digging for Missing Clover than a Guzma to win. Tapu Lele-GX is usually Trade fodder when no other cards present themselves.
A single copy of Oranguru is a great way to destroy mill decks. It can infinitely recycle Energies to the point where a tie is taken. However, with the aspect of Missing Clover, it’s possible to win against mill decks by continuously recycling them and subsequently playing them. It’s important to watch out for Lighting GX, as that can disrupt the combo permanently, unless the Missing Clover can be reclaimed.
2 Tapu Koko
The 2nd copy of Tapu Koko provides a good answer to Vikavolt/Magnezone when paired with Professor Kukui or Reverse Valley. A single Flying Flip brings the HP down from 150 to 130, putting it in reach of a boosted Riotous Beating. The 2nd Tapu Koko increases the chances of starting it and adds another Pokémon to the deck.
Gladion is a card I had in an earlier iteration of the list to claim any Missing Clover that were prized. However, it quickly made its way out due to the nature of the deck: it takes Prizes quickly. If any were prized, it’s most likely that the deck would take them naturally. Gladion is also passive and contributes very little to the deck elsewhere. As a final note, Gladion could be good against mill.
Float Stone is a good card, but not good enough to make the list. I decided to add a Choice Band instead, so that no Prizes are missed due to not enough Pokémon in play. Float Stone is less effective because Pokémon Catcher is in the list, which doesn’t require a Switch when using a gust effect.
These cards are great and have an obvious purpose.
Sudowoodo + Counter Energy
This combination is something I haven’t tested, but could be worthwhile in dealing with the decks that take OHKOs. Tapu Bulu-GX, Gardevoir-GX, and Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX are the main perpetrators of this. Watch and Learn should be enough to take pivotal KOs, but it really changes how the deck is played. Early Prizes can lead to too big of a lead, effectively making Counter Energy useless. With this inclusion, it’s more important to map out the 6 Prizes than to rush to take them.
Kartana-GX + Unit Energy PML
This is something I’m testing, but I think it could be really good. This helps against mill decks by being able to retrieve Missing Clover from the Prizes or cheat Prizes even more than the deck already can! There’s no reason not to run every form of Prize manipulation possible. Kartana-GX also has a great Ability that can replace an Enhanced Hammer in the list, and also acts as another Pokémon to boost the damage of Riotous Beating.
The meta for Collinsville is fairly unknown. Many players will stick with decks from the previous format, like Zoroark-GX variants and Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX. I’m interested to see how much Gardevoir-GX/Zoroark-GX will be played; I don’t doubt its capability to be good. However, I think that Magnezone and Empoleon could give it some trouble. Greninja is also a very bad matchup, so anyone who resorts to that should have at least a few good matchups throughout the day.
Like all traditional Zoroark-GX decks, the goal is to set up multiple and go to town. I’d say that this list has matchups similar to that of Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, but is better against everything. Against Stage 2 decks, it’s possible to curb those bad matchups with the Prize stealing cards. They also make mirror matches and other decks that can’t reliably OHKO very easy. The one exception to this is Glaceon-GX, the new counter to Zoroark-GX. Without Trade, this deck can’t thin the deck and cycle to its good cards. It’s fair to say that this version has a worse Glaceon-GX matchup than every other variant.
The second deck I’ll briefly cover in this article is Espeon-GX/Garbodor. Because of the new format, I’m trying to cover these decks widely rather than in-depth. These are my top two choices by far, and it’s unlikely that I’ll end up playing anything else. I think that Espeon-GX/Garbodor may be a better meta call than what’s listed above, but I also want to have fun and test out my creation. Alas, I digress.
In a format riddled with Buzzwole-GX, Espeon-GX is incredibly strong because of Psybeam and its Psychic typing. However, one issue that arises is Espeon-GX’s Psychic Weakness. Random player Joe may add a Mew-EX to counter Buzzwole-GX, but also counters Espeon-GX in the process. It’s a good thing that Mew-EX has Psychic Weakness itself, so this game can continue to go back and forth. Garbotoxin can also shut off Versatile.
With the new set, Espeon-GX/Garbodor gains one important card: Lunala Prism. It can softly take the place of Super Rod by providing Energy acceleration late in the game to establish a checkmate scenario. Its second attack is also incredibly strong if ever powered up.
Pokémon – 17
1 Lunala ♢
Trainers – 31
1 Pal Pad
3 Po Town
Energy – 12
This list is the one based on Po Town and Espeon-EX. The meta is shifting more towards Evolutions, so it’s important to keep up with that by switching back to Po Town. Parallel City was great for dealing with Zoroark-GX—and still is—but may be outclassed by Po Town. The argument I’m still struggling with is that Parallel City requires less space and is more versatile. It can act as a soft healing method one way, but also can cripple the opposing Bench in nearly every matchup. Damage reduction is great against Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX as well.
I mention that the format is becoming increasingly dependent on Evolution Pokémon, but it’s important to realize the kind of Evolution Pokémon. Gardevoir-GX, Garchomp/Lucario, and Empoleon all attack with their Stage 2s, meaning that Po Town is effective. However, against Magnezone or Vikavolt, the 30 damage is inconsequential because the preferred means of dealing with them is Garbotoxin.
There’s nothing too revolutionary about the list, but that’s the beauty of the changes made. Cynthia is a better draw Supporter in the deck because discarding key resources with Professor Sycamore was a big problem. Double Colorless, Espeon-GX, and Garbodor are all important cards, but cannot be useful on the first turn of the game. Previously, these would get tossed away with Professor Sycamore and make the game harder to win later on.
Pal Pad is great for the deck because it acts as a 4th Guzma, but can also work as a consistency card. I think that 1 is the perfect number so that it doesn’t ruin the consistency, but is worthwhile enough to run in the first place. If I were to take out Pal Pad, I’d probably run Lusamine, a card shown in my previous iteration a few articles ago. It turned out to be less than ideal in the Po Town version, but could be great with a 1-of copy of Parallel City.
I’ve decided to maintain the 2-2 Espeon-GX to 1 Drampa-GX split for multiple reasons. Primarily, Espeon-GX is the preferred starting attacker for the deck. It’s better in the meta than Drampa-GX, which mostly serves as a way to Righteous Edge and threaten 180 damage with Berserk mid-game. With the 2 Espeon-GX, there’s also a smaller chance of both being prized or in the starting hand to prevent the T1 Psybeam. The biggest frustration for me in London was going first and starting Eevee, but having Espeon-GX in the hand with no way to reshuffle.
The 1-1 Brigette/Lillie split is also worth pointing out. In some cases, you’ll have Tapu Lele-GX in hand but no follow-up Supporter. Lillie is a great Supporter to slam T1, but also isn’t too shabby later on. I found myself using Lillie more often than I thought I would in Vancouver and London because I didn’t have an Energy in my opening hand. Like Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, it’s necessary to play one every turn, or else Espeon-GX and Drampa-GX can’t use their big attacks.
Finally, I choose to run 2 Tapu Lele-GX and would hardly consider adding a 3rd. This deck isn’t reliant on the T1 Brigette and hopes to establish Garbotoxin ASAP. I’d rather run an extra Supporter that I could play under Garbotoxin than to be stuck with a useless Tapu Lele-GX in my hand. The opponent won’t always have Field Blower, and if they notice that you’re passing, they may leave Garbotoxin intact to play around Tapu Lele-GX.
Pokémon – 17
1 Lunala ♢
Trainers – 31
Energy – 12
Very few changes have been made here.
Espeon-EX is still worth running to devolve any Stage 2 Pokémon that are put into play by Rare Candy. The main way to lose to the Stage 2 decks is by getting overrun before Garbotoxin is established. Espeon-EX is the safe way to prevent that. In this situation, it’s more useful to exhaust Rare Candies than to take knockouts with Miraculous Shine, although both are worthwhile strategies and can be used at any time.
There’s no matchup I’m incredibly scared of going into. Both versions of Garbodor are strong everywhere. This deck aims to win without tricks and doesn’t have any blaring weaknesses; it’s a good play to take to Regionals. The worst feeling one can have is walking into a round against an auto-loss with no hope. I’d say that this deck has incredibly strong matchups, as there’s relatively few new cards that displace it. The old gods of BKT-CIN can do work like Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, but I expect that and other Zoroark-GX variants to be on the downswing.
Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX is an amazingly good matchup, so long as you don’t start Drampa-GX. It’s easy to trade favorably and deal with them, but be careful not to fall into a Watch and Learn. I’d save the GX attack for Tapu Cure GX unless there’s a prime opportunity to make multiple prizes with Divide GX. Lycanroc-GX is the most scary card in their deck because of its Grass Weakness. It has the potential to take 4 Prizes by itself with Dangerous Rogue and a Claw Slash on Tapu Lele-GX. Manage your Bench by only having one Espeon-GX in play and hopefully two Garbodor/Trubbish.
Glaceon-GX, Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX, and Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX are all very favorable. These decks can’t deal with Confusion very well, and subsequently can’t take Prizes without flipping for them or wasting resources. These decks are also pretty reliant on Items and the latter two are vulnerable to Garbotoxin. One thing to note against Magnezone/Dusk Mane-Necrozma-GX is to worry about the GX attack; It can take a OHKO and keep the Energy in play. To prevent this, focus on early disruption with Psybeam and Garbotoxin. Lunala Prism is a great answer immediately after they’ve used their GX attack.
I’m really excited for Collinsville and the new Standard format. I like the changes that Ultra Prism brought to disrupting the meta by introducing strong cards like Magnezone, but also those that complement previous decks. Cynthia is great for the game in providing good shuffle draw that’s widely accepted. At the very least, it’s another playable Supporter that can increase the general consistency of the format.
As for the decks I’m going to play, I’m fairly set on either of the two listed above. I’ve kept my focus on these two decks while playing against everything new that’s come out of Ultra Prism. There’s still some final matchups to be worked out, but I’m fairly confident in bringing either to the tournament. Finally, for whatever deck you choose, make sure you’re practiced and good enough to play it for an entire day. Mental fatigue exists, and the best way to combat it is to do the practicing beforehand so that there’s less hard work to do during the day.
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