What’s up everyone! It has been a few months since my last article: the podcast has taken most of my content creation time and personal things (finishing up the school year at work and getting ready for a big move) have limited my ability to write consistently. However, I am excited to write not one, but two pieces for our mini-marathon leading up to the North American International Championship.
I recently reached the 400-point threshold to secure my Day 1 invitation. It took a bit more work than expected this year, so I am relieved to finally get there. I finished in the Top 128 at Virginia Regionals with Night March (one card off the list Michael Pramawat used) and got a Top 4 finish at a League Cup with Zoroark/Lycanroc, scooping to a buddy in Top 4 so he could get a Cup win and get closer to his invite. While I only attended a few Regionals this year, I did not make Day 2 at all, so it made my climb a bit more difficult than I anticipated. I am hoping I can make Day 2 at NAIC and/or Worlds this year to help redeem my season a bit. With school out I have lots of time to test and get ready for these tournaments and I am excited to prepare.
Despite the rock-paper-scissory-y feel of the format, I have actually come to enjoy it. I think all of the decks have a pretty high skill cap and lots of games are decided on little decisions. That said, there are still games where one person high rolls and there is little the opponent can do to counter play these actions (like double Beast Ring turns). I think this time in the season is always the best, as the card pool is the widest. This opens up the most possibilities and gives the best players the biggest advantages both in deck building and properly playing around certain combinations of cards.
As I said, I have two articles for you all during this stretch before NAIC. I am happy to be the one kicking it off. In my later article I will look at Zoroark/Lycanroc and perhaps some more under the radar Zoroark decks. Today, however, I want to look at my baby: Gardevoir-GX.
Gardevoir’s history is well documented, going back to the World Championships last year. Diego won that tournament in stunning fashion, with Pablo also making Top 8 (only losing to Diego, in fact!). Coming into this season, Gardevoir was well positioned to continue its domination. During the first few months of the 2017-2018 season that is exactly what it did. It put up strong performances in both formats: my buddies Sam Chen and Pablo made Top 4 and won the two Standard autumn Regionals in Hartford and Vancouver with the Sylveon version of the deck, while it even took some Top 8 spots in the Expanded Regionals at Fort Wayne and Daytona.
Heading into the first International Championship of the year, Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends had come out, but no one really knew what to expect from it. Gardevoir was still the most hyped deck. The hype went so far that a large contingent of American players ran a janky Metal deck just to try to counter it! The other revelation in the deck was Seena Ghaziaskar’s insistence on the “Broken” version of the deck, which dropped Sylveon in favor of four Max Potion. This made the deck much stronger in the mirror match, as you could effectively play around Plea-GX and simply run the opponent out of resources by playing eight Max Potion in a game.
Indeed, this opened up a whole different win condition for the deck: you could play as an Yveltal-EX deck, hitting them hard for 30x the amount of Energy, or you could play as a Wailord-EX deck, utilizing Max Potion and Twilight-GX to run the opponent out of resources and potentially decking them! I wrote an article outlining this new variant of Gardevoir in the week leading up to the event and our own Christopher Schemanske piloted this version to a Top 4 finish.
Following this tournament, things got…dicey for Gardevoir. The format shifted significantly, with the emergence of Zoroark and Buzzwole decks. Whereas Volcanion was the fastest deck prior to Crimson Invasion/Shining Legends, Zoroark and Buzzwole became the de-facto aggro decks and they matched up much better to Gardevoir: they required less Energy to attack, had more HP, and were more consistent. Though I still maintain that Gardevoir was underplayed during the next six months, it is undeniable that its time at the top had passed.
With the release of Forbidden Light I had just assumed Gardevoir was even more dead than before: Buzzwole—already an unfavorable matchup for Gardevoir—got even stronger. However, a couple of interesting things have happened that makes me believe Gardevoir is at least somewhat viable again:
- The emergence of Malamar. Both versions of this deck are good matchups for Gardevoir. Ultra Necrozma-GX can take OHKOs on Gardevoirs, but requires three Psychics and leaves a Metal on itself after attacking. With a Fairy weakness, it is pretty easy to respond for an OHKO on it. The Psychic version needs four Psychics on a Necrozma-GX to take an OHKO, while Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX keeps three Energy on itself, making it an easy target for Infinite Force. This matchup basically comes down to if the Malamar player can get three Malamar on the board. If not, Gardevoir almost always wins.
- The de-emphasis of Lycanroc in BuzzRoc. Perhaps the Buzzwole lists will swing back to 2-2 Lycanroc after Tord’s performance at Sheffield, but the 2-1 and 1-1 Lycanroc lines we saw in Madison are a huge positive for Gardevoir. Bloodthirsty Eyes would allow the BuzzRoc player to easily target down Ralts and Dangerous Rogue was a guaranteed KO on a Gardevoir almost every game. With a thinner line, neither of these things come up as much and it becomes easier as the Gardevoir player to either play around Lycanroc or take out a Rockruff early on in the game to neutralize the threat.
- Mysterious Treasure. When Forbidden Light first came out I was focused on testing for Expanded. I had briefly discussed the idea of using Mysterious Treasure in Gardevoir with all the Psychic pre-evolutions, but did not seriously think it would be any good. At this point I had mostly played Zoroark decks in Standard for the past few months. However, once I thought about the first two points here, I thought it would be worth trying it. And let me tell you – this card makes a huge difference. I will discuss this more in depth later, but this card makes your deck way more consistent than it ever has been and is a huge addition to the deck.
With some of my justification for reviving this deck, let’s take a look at a skeleton:
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