Hello everyone! Travis Nunlist here with an unscheduled piece coming off of the recent Salt Lake City Regional Championship where I managed to make it all the way to T4 in what ended up being one of the wildest experiences of my Pokémon TCG career. For those of you who read my last piece, I spent a good amount of time defending the Expanded format, claiming that it needed no ban, and that it would figure itself out. I can now confidently say that I was right about the way the meta shifted, and am really glad to see the scourge that was Zoroark-GX put in its place by a reacting meta. The championship came down to a contest of the Zoroark-GX counters, where Sableye/Garbodor was able to pull off a surprising win!
With a couple of minor voluntary changes, and one major involuntary adjustment, here is the list that got me T4 in Salt Lake City:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 35
Energy – 12
After I was done ranting about how great Expanded is, I went on to make the case for Gardevoir-GX. Despite being a deck that plays Rare Candy in the Expanded Format, I was convinced it had what it takes to take down the Salt Lake City meta. From the list in my last article, I cut the Oricorio for Giratina XY184 as I heard a lot of last minute Trevenant & Greninja hype, and expected anything Oricorio would be good against to be non-existent. I also cut the second Focus Sash for the second Field Blower, as I didn’t feel like the second Focus Sash was very effective and felt the second Field Blower would have more of an impact overall due to it just being a great card. The final voluntary change was playing one of the AOR Kirlia, as I was reminded Calm Mind is good against Trevenant BREAK before the event.
Those two changes were the changes I made to the list in the last article and sleeved up expecting to play in the tournament. By now, you’ve probably noticed the Tropical Beaches are missing, there are 3 more Y Energy than were expected, and the article is titled decklist error Gardevoir—so, I’m sure you’ve all figured it out by now. The online deck submission program for SLC was downright horrible, so I made the executive decision to write my list by hand in the morning. Unfortunately this allowed a lot more room for human error, which lead me to forgetting to write down my 3 Tropical Beach, and eventually being forced to remove them in the middle of round 5.
Before I get into the report I would like to address a common joke that has been made by many (including myself):
The deck was not better because of the loss of Tropical Beach and addition of 3 more Y Energy—the deck was simply so good for the tournament that it could find success despite my best to make it sub-optimal.
I sorely missed the extra draw, ability to bump opposing stadiums, and actually had to adjust how I played the deck in order to accommodate the changes. If I could go back and keep the Beaches throughout the entire event I absolutely would, but made the best out of the situation I had.
Round 1 vs Trevenant W 1-0
As soon as my Round 1 opponent opened Phantump, I was immediately glad that I had put the Giratina Promo into my deck. Game 1 started off a bit scary as my opening wasn’t the best, but luckily I was able to topdeck a Brigette just in time to get the ball rolling. I also had an important turn where I played Guzma to get some use out of my items and elected to go for a paralyze flip on a Jirachi-EX, getting heads and sticking it for the turn as my opponent did not play a Guzma of their own. The Max Potion was huge in this game as it was able to heal my Giratina Promo at an important time and allowed a single Gardevoir-GX to power through to the end after I used Twilight-GX and put it back into my deck. I was also able to run my opponent out of Dimension Valley with the combined use of my Field Blower and Tropical Beach.
Game 2 was in an interesting spot when time was called, my opponent had just devolved two evolutions to go down to 3 Prizes, while I had a fresh Ralts and the means to parry at 4 Prizes.
Round 2 vs Gardevoir-GX L 1-1
Of all things to see Round 2 at a Regional Championship, I ran into a mirror match. Unfortunately my list with heavy Beach was quite bad in the mirror match when they’re playing more basic energy and Max Potions than you are. To top things off I prized two of my Gardevoir-GX and wasn’t able to snag one out of the prizes until I was already too far behind. I was off to a good start in Game 2, but unfortunately Gardevoir mirrors are just too time consuming and we were never able to wrap up Game 2.
Round 3 vs Glaceon-GX/Shaymin-EX/Marshadow WW 2-1
This deck was a wild ride to play against, but unfortunately I had the perfect out to their strategy. Their goal was to play Marshadow SLG, Sky Field, Delinquent, and finally Peeking Red Card so they could leave their opponent with a 1 card hand after putting Glaceon-GX into the active. It looked to get very cheesy wins quickly, but unfortunately Oranguru SUM made this all but impossible for them to stick and Sudowoodo GRI really limited their use of Shaymin-EX, Marshadow SHL, and Unown AOR. Following up with an easy Korrina putting Gallade BKT into play gave me more than enough firepower to get out of the lock and take down the Glaceon-GX.
Round 4 vs Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute WW 3-1
Both of these games are kind of a blur because I’ve played the matchup so many times it feels almost mechanical. My opponent didn’t open especially stellar either game and I didn’t prize/draw bad. I remember being able to get a big Gardevoir-GX to pull off a 1HKO on Zoroark-GX both games which sealed the match right up. Both Gallade and Gardevoir-GX are difficult for Zoroark-GX to deal with giving you plenty of options in different scenarios. Their use of Exeggutor is huge in this matchup, and it can be rather annoying if you’re stuck trying to take it down with only Gallade in play.
Round 5 vs Glaceon-GX/Barbaracle (and myself) WLW 4-1
This matchup is probably even easier than Zoroark-GX as long as you don’t get cheesed out by the lock. Gardevoir-GX is an efficient attack against Glaceon-GX, and it’s very difficult for Glaceon-GX to do enough damage to keep up with a Gardevoir that has a single Basic Energy.
Our G1 finished very quickly which lead to use being selected for a mid round deck check. Unfortunately this is where the error was caught, and after a debate with the judge I was made to remove my Tropical Beach for 3 Y Energy. After receiving a Game Loss for the mistake I was able to go first for G3 and opened fine so I still pulled off the win. Having more basic energy was nice, but losing a Stadium out to breaking the Barbaracle lock was more painful as it made reaching for the 1HKO more difficult.
Round 6 vs Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute W 5-1
We played a long Game 1 that I end up pulling out the W in. My opponent plays Muscle Band which makes their Exeggutor much more effective against my board which was very annoying. Game 2 I prize Sudowoodo & don’t open Brigette making the game start off rather rocky & weird. Adding on top of that my opponent is constantly rushing me along making me a bit more flustered and distracted with my decision making that is taking a normal amount of time. When time is called my opponent is able to take 2 Prizes on their Turn 0, but a Max Potion during my T1 leaves him unable to take his last 2 Prizes as he draws the last card of his deck. My opponent was particularly vocal about not liking this outcome & I believe his outbursts got him into some trouble with the tournament staff.
As a side note, if you truly believe an opponent’s pace of play to be lacking you should always call a judge. Constantly badgering an opponent gets nothing productive accomplished and often causes the pace of play to slow down when these interactions are constantly being dealt with. It is also important to remember this is a children’s card game when competitive tensions flare.
Round 7 vs Zoroark-GX/Gallade WW 6-1
This matchup was much easier than other Zoroark-GX matchups as my opponent only played 1 Sky Field and focused heavily on a Maxie’s/Gallade engine. Unfortunately for him, that engine in a Zoroark-GX deck is horrible against Gardevoir, and I won both games rather quickly.
Round 8 vs Buzzwole/Lycanroc WLW 7-1
Now that I’m essentially locked I decided it was time to start planning for Day 2 and get as many points as I can. This round I’m paired against Michael Pramawat piloting Buzz/Roc deck with a Korrina engine. The Korrina engine makes the deck a little slower, but more calculated, which is probably better over all but worse against Gardevoir. A quick Gallade took down a Buzzwole-GX early and following that up with a 3 Energy Gardevoir and a Choice Band made short work of the Buzzwole-GX that had 3 energy. G1 came down to me needing to hit an energy off an N to 1 which the Oranguru/Gallade combo helped me find. G2 I opened Brigette-less to a fast start and I scoop very quickly, and G3 Michael fails to find a second Pokémon on by his second turn falling very quickly to my T2 Gallade.
Round 9 vs Drampa/Garbodor L 7-2
The final round I’m playing against Azul Garcia Griego to try and get as many points as I can for Day 2. Unfortunately for me this, is the first matchup where I really feel the pain of the lost Tropical Beaches. Azul’s 4 Parallel City meant that I was going to be at 3 benched Pokémon for the entire game, and the loss of draw with Tropical Beach made Garbotoxin that much more effective. This Game 1 ends up being very weird with a lot of awkward passing moments. It eventually comes down to me N-ing him down to 1 with only a Gardevoir-GX in play after he takes a KO with Trashalanche. I then use Twilight-GX to put all my items back into my deck. He passes, I use Guzma to KO a damage Lele to go down to 3 Prizes. On his turn he uses Teammates to Beserk my Gardevoir-GX for 150 damage. I attach a Third Energy, play another N, and take the KO. Unfortunately he draws a Professor Sycamore off the N to 1 and finishes me off with Tapu Lele-GX and a DCE. We’re barely able to start Game 2 before time is called and I lose the series 0-1.
Round 10 vs Donphan/Wobbuffet LWT 7-2-1
This is a matchup I’m upset to have tied, but it definitely helped get me focused for the rest of the day. I played a little greedy going after a threatening Donphan early hoping my Gallade/Oranguru combo would set me up for the following turn. Unfortunately my top 5 cards were all bad and I ended up digging myself into a hole the rest of the game with awkward draws. I win G2 pretty easily as the matchup is great as long as you setup, but unfortunately G3 just begins when time is called. My opponent, Daniel Altavilla, was really friendly after the match and very encouraging for the rest of the day which is always appreciated.
Round 11 vs Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute WW 8-2-1
This round is against Ryan Allred and everything goes according to plan. Red Card/Hex never does anything & all of my draws are good enough to keep me rolling. G2 I make the lame mistake of trying to use Brigette after being hit by Blockade which gets me the double prize penalty. Fortunately I was far ahead enough in this game for it to not matter, but still frustrating to have made such a simple mistake.
Round 12 vs Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute LWW 9-2-1
I’m up against a friend of mine, Caleb Geddemer, and he’s the kind of player I feel like I’ve always had some close series against. G1 he goes first and wrecks me with a T1 Ghetsis. I draw okay afterward but not well enough to keep up. After a greedy play fails to get me back into the Prize trade I scoop for Game 2. This game is very close and comes down to Caleb using Sky Return for 60 with Choice Band and a Red Card/Hex combo. I draw a VS Seeker to use Colress for 8 and needing to hit Gallade / DCE to KO his active Zoroark-GX or my Max Potion / Computer Search to heal the Gardevoir. Fortunately I hit the Max Potion and without being able to cleanup the Gardevoir the following turn he gets too far behind and I take G2. G3 I open incredibly strong to his below average start. I seal the game when I draw a VS Seeker for Guzma after a Red Card to take out his only Zoroark-GX in play, leaving him with only a Zoroark BKT to attack with.
Round 13 ID 9-2-2
Round 14 ID 9-2-3
T8 vs Drampa/Garbodor
In Top 8, I’m paired up against Igor Costa who was fresh off winning the most recent Expanded tournament with the exact same deck! Fortunately enough I’m confident in the matchup and know I can win as long as I setup fine. This matchup always feels so incredibly long and dull because of how slow it can be, but I definitely think it’s one of the most calculated matchups you have to play in order to secure the series. Game 1 I was able to setup multiple Gardevoir-GX & get good use out of both Field Blower before shuffling them back in with Twilight-GX. It took a long time to secure the W but I always felt like I was in control.
Game 2 was a little rockier, and I ended up losing to a combination of early pressure, lack of draw, and inability to piece everything together. G3 looked a lot more like G1 and I felt like I had the game locked up when I secure a KO on his only Garbodor in play with Guzma and a Gallade BKT giving me access to Premonition / Oranguru for the rest of the game. I’m 2 Prizes up when time is called and I’m able to secure a KO on an Oricorio to ensure he cannot tie the game up and I secure T4.
T4 vs Sableye/Garbodor
This series was one of the most disappointing of the day as the games were all essentially decided before they began. I opened Giratina XY 184 in the first game and Sudowoodo GRI in the third game – making it incredibly difficult to keep an attacker in the active. Having a two retreat liability that cannot attack is absolutely brutal in this matchup, and there’s not much I can really do about it. Game 2 I opened with Oranguru and was still able to make do because Psychic can knockout a Sableye. I think as long as I open something that can attack or retreat for 1 energy then the matchup becomes infinitely easier.
Congratulations again to Kaleb Sommers for showing that Sableye / Garbodor is capable of winning a Regional Championship! The list was perfect and it seemed like he had a ton of experience with the deck. I’m incredibly excited to finally get a decent placing this season and to lock up my fourth consecutive World’s Invite! Hope you all enjoyed reading this report, until next time!