Hola 6P! We just got done with back-to-back weekends of Expanded with Toronto and Greensboro. Both tournaments featured a lot of exciting things, and, surprisingly, both were won by unexpected decks. While Toronto featured Pikachu & Zekrom-GX as the most popular deck, Greensboro was taken over by Archie’s Blastoise featuring two other TAG TEAMs: Magikarp & Wailord-GX + Eevee & Snorlax-GX.
The Day 1 metagame breakdowns have been posted on the RK9 Labs Facebook page for each event, and it is super interesting to see the shift in decks from one weekend to the next. These are the top five played decks from Toronto and Greensboro, per their data:
- Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (43)
- Archie’s Blastoise (38)
- Lucario-GX (30)
- Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (29)
- Hitmonchan (22)
- Archie’s Blastoise (57)
- Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (49)
- Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (47)
- Hitmonchan (28)
- Trevenant (23)
Both Regionals had similar attendance (358 and 389 Masters, respectively), so it’s interesting to see how the meta changed from “unknown” in Toronto, with no BLW–TEU results available, to “explored” in Greensboro one week afterward.
Russell LaParre’s Top 8 run in Toronto with Archie’s Blastoise seems to have inspired a lot of people into playing it, as it became the most played deck, and also one of the most successful, with many of them making Day 2 and two of them making it all the way into Top 8.
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is an interesting case too, as it was hyped as being one of the decks to beat—if not the deck to beat—in Toronto, yet it managed only a single Day 2 appearance despite being the most played deck. That didn’t stop people from playing it in Greensboro though, where it had a high rate of success. This can be attributed to many things, such as chance, better lists, and, most importantly, the big drop-off in Fighting-based decks from Toronto to Greensboro.
The train of thought must’ve been this: If Pikachu & Zekrom-GX didn’t do well in Toronto, then why play something like Lucario-GX to counter it? And thus, this paved a perfect path for the deck to show up and do much better. On top of that, Zoroark-GX/Garbodor—a good matchup for the deck—also had a huge increase in popularity due to its success in Toronto, so the metagame was much more Pikachu-friendly this weekend.
Hitmonchan maintained a healthy presence in the metagame—not overwhelming, but not underrepresented either—which contrasted with Trevenant’s rise in favor. Many more players decided to give Trevenant a run after it surprisingly swept Toronto as a huge underdog.
Overall the Greensboro metagame was less diverse, as the three most decks played totaled a higher share of the meta than in Toronto (39% vs. 31%). This makes sense as there were now established lists and archetypes going into the tournament, unlike the big unknown that was Toronto.
The most popular deck in Greensboro, Archie’s Blastoise, made it all the way to the Finals, with Azul pulling off a magical comeback in Game 3 of Top 8 against our own Alex Schemanske. However, it took a Sigilyph-GX to stop him from running over the tournament.
The overall winner of the event was Andrew Martin with his Garbodor/Drampa-GX/Sigilyph-GX deck. This deck popped up in Dallas and it preserves most of the primary assets of the well-known Garbodor decks, combining Trashalanche and Garbotoxin for Item- and Ability-denial strategies, along with Special Energy disruption with Drampa-GX’s Righteous Edge.
As of writing this article, the 1st place list has not been posted yet [Editor’s Note: Andrew Martin’s list is now available here.], so this is an estimate based on what I saw from the stream, along with the previous Top 4 deck from Dallas by Blaine Hill:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 32
Energy – 11
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 17
* 2 Drampa-GX GRI 160
* 2 Sigilyph-GX LOT 222
* 4 Trubbish PLS 65
* 2 Garbodor GRI 51
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
* 1 Sudowoodo GRI 66
* 1 Oricorio GRI 56
* 1 Wobbuffet PHF 36
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
##Trainer Cards - 32
* 4 N FCO 105
* 3 Professor Juniper PLB 84
* 1 Brigette BKT 161
* 1 Colress PLS 118
* 1 Guzma BUS 143
* 1 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 Teammates PRC 141
* 3 VS Seeker ROS 110
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Super Rod BKT 149
* 1 Computer Search BCR 137
* 4 Float Stone BKT 137
* 3 Choice Band BUS 162
* 3 Parallel City BKT 145
##Energy - 11
* 7 Psychic Energy Energy 5
* 4 Double Colorless Energy SLG 69
Total Cards - 60
****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******
Drampa-GX was once mostly used for its damage output with Berserk, but it is now mainly used to deny Special Energy with Righteous Edge in order to run opposing Zoroark-GX decks out of resources. With Puzzle of Time gone from Expanded, it’s much harder to recover discarded Double Colorless Energy to keep attacking. Its GX attack, Big Wheel GX, can be useful in a pinch, but usually you’ll want to utilize Sigilyph’s GX attack instead.
The new star of this deck, it possesses very useful attributes in Expanded. The main one being its Mirror Counter Ability which reflects any damage done to it by opposing GX or EX Pokémon. This means that any Pikachu & Zekrom-GX will get immediately OHKO’d back thanks to Sigilyph’s Lightning Weakness. Powering up Sigilyph-GX to use Sonic Wing is a great way to lead in a matchup, as it presents a lose–lose situation for your opponent: If they deal with the Sigilyph-GX, they might get return–KO’d, and if they don’t, they won’t be able to win the game at all.
Intercept GX is an amazing attack as well, as it can punish greedy plays against Pokémon that end up attaching extra Energy for the [+] bonus of TAG TEAM GX attacks. 60 damage for each Energy card attached to an opposing Pokémon means only 4 are necessary to OHKO a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, or 5 to OHKO a Magikarp & Wailord-GX.
The two Garbodor in the deck combine for a disruption strategy and the lose–lose theme with Trashalanche. If your opponent chooses to be conservative and not play their Item cards, it’s as if you had an Item lock going against them. If, on the hand, they decide not to be careful, Trashalanche becomes one of the best attacks in your whole deck. On top of this, we add a layer of Ability lock with Garbotoxin. This Ability shuts off all other Abilities, including the two that were most popular at Greensboro: Blastoise’s Deluge and Zoroark-GX’s Trade. Without those two Abilities operational, those decks fall apart.
Trashalanche, on the other hand, punishes players who abuse the extremely powerful Items available in Expanded such as Battle Compressor, Trainers’ Mail, Max Elixir, and VS Seeker. Coincidentally, these cards are present in 4-of copies in most of the top decks listed above. The most popular deck of the event, Archie’s Blastoise, is a deck that—even if it wanted to—can’t limit Items. It’s near impossible to maintain a low Item count given how the deck works and the “puzzles” you need to solve in order to pull off a T1 Archie’s.
1 Sudowoodo GRI, 1 Oricorio GRI 56, 1 Wobbuffet PHF
These three tech cards help shore up some potential matchups and/or provide more disruption for the deck. Sudoowoodo is amazing at helping deal with Zoroark-GX as even if they are able to deal with your Ability lock, they then have to set up their own to shut off Road Block and be able to fill up their Bench to OHKO your Pokémon. Oricorio’s Supernatural Dance is the perfect way to counter the Battle Compressor-heavy decks such as Night March and Vespiquen, and its inclusion is not a surprise seeing how Night March won the whole thing the weekend before. Finally, Wobbuffet is a great Pokémon to lead off with in any matchup, as it turns off all non-Psychic Pokémon’s Abilities with Bide Barricade. Retreating into or starting with it on Turn 1, and then establishing Garbotoxin on Turn 2, means your opponent won’t have a chance to use Abilities at all, except for Wonder Tag or Let Loose perhaps.
2 Tapu Lele-GX
Not only does Wonder Tag allow you to set up early with Professor Sycamore or N, but it fetches Guzma and Teammates for specific situations in the mid–late game. Energy Drive is also a pretty powerful attack and can set up nice chip damage for a Trashalanche or Berserk follow-up the turn afterward.
4 N, 3 Professor Juniper, 1 Colress
Finding attackers and Energy is our goal during the first few turns of any game, and all of these Supporters help us in achieving that (although Colress is better at doing so in the mid–late game). However, N is at a 4 count because with the combination of Parallel City, N, and Garbotoxin, we have one of the most powerful comeback strategies available in the Expanded format. That combination alone is so strong that it merits running 4 Ns, as usually the early game is focused on chip damage and disruption with Drampa’s Righteous Edge or walling with Sigilyph’s Mirror Counter, and the late game is taken over by overwhelming Trashalanche KOs.
Even though Turn 1 Brigette is amazing, it’s not extremely necessary or vital for this deck. If it were vital, two copies could be run, but as it stands, T1 Brigette is sometimes a luxury more than anything. Also, the odds of prizing your one Brigette in any given game is only 10%, so most of the time you will have it available if you need it.
1 Guzma, 1 Acerola, 1 Teammates
These utility Supporters help in advancing your win conditions, but are not necessary in more than 1-of copies. Guzma allows you to target the right Pokémon in the right situation, but this deck’s disruption can sometimes be so powerful that you’re not too worried about them having a big threat on the Bench. Acerola makes Sigilyph-GX and Drampa-GX even more cost effective, but since we do not have any way to accelerate Energy, using Acerola can be tricky as it does set you back 1–2 turns of Energy attachments. Finally, Teammates can provide us with the exact two cards to respond to any threat that we are facing, but it’s also a dead Supporter in the beginning of the game, so you don’t want to play more than one copy and increase your chances of starting with it.
4 Mysterious Treasure
Most of our Psychic Pokémon are way more valuable than the others, and the discard from Mysterious Treasure is less harsh. A split of 2 Mysterious Treasure and 2 Ultra Ball could also be decent.
3 VS Seeker, 1 Computer Search
VS Seekers and Computer Search add to the consistency of the deck, by being able to reuse any necessary Supporters, especially Guzma or N, and letting us search for any specific piece we need at any given time. Computer Search was chosen over Dowsing Machine as this deck’s weakest time is the early game, so Computer Search smooths out the transition to the mid game nicely.
1 Rescue Stretcher, 1 Super Rod
The best middle ground in recovery cards as we have Energy recovery with Super Rod, Pokémon recovery into the deck with both, or immediate reuse of a Pokémon with the Rescue Stretcher. Each is great in different situations, hence playing one of each is ideal and can be searched out by Teammates in a pinch.
4 Float Stone, 3 Choice Band
The benefits of each Tool are great, as free retreat and extra damage output are always welcome, but their main use is shutting off Abilities with Garbotoxin. Don’t be scared of putting a Choice Band on Garbodor if necessary, as usually that combined with an N will be too harsh for your opponent to recover from in the late game.
3 Parallel City
Counter Stadiums are necessary in order to counter the broken Prism Star Stadiums such as Thunder Mountain ♢ or Wondrous Labyrinth ♢. These also provide a way to disrupt your opponent’s setup and even clear your Bench from liabilities in the late game such as damaged Tapu Leles or Drampas. The damage reduction half of the Stadium can also be useful in a pinch against decks like Archie’s Blastoise and Vespiquen.
4 Double Colorless, 7 Psychic
11 Energy is the bare minimum to run in this deck, and even though I’d feel more comfortable with 12, 11 should be fine and is the standard. Usually you’d see Rainbow Energy in this to activate Berserk’s bonus damage yourself, but that requires three turns (two to attach to Drampa-GX and one more to attach the Rainbow, let alone finding it). Using Rainbows also makes you more prone to stall decks as it’s much easier to remove Special Energy than basic Energy, so sticking with 7 basic Psychic is the way to go.
I’ve always had mixed feelings about this deck as, even though it is obviously very powerful, the other attackers in the deck (besides Sigilyph) felt a bit mediocre in my opinion, and did not apply enough pressure while you waited for Items to build up in your opponent’s discard pile. However, Sigilyph-GX has put the deck back in everyone’s minds and I would not be surprised to see this deck skyrocket to the top five decks played at Daytona Beach, the next Expanded Regional taking place one month from now.
The matchups for this deck are not super lopsided for or against it, and matches are sometimes defined by how well the opponent is able to keep Items in check. Nevertheless, this is what you would want to do against the top decks present at both Toronto and Greensboro:
Archie’s Blastoise: Favorable
This matchup is great for you as their best attackers, Magikarp & Wailord-GX and Eevee & Snorlax-GX, both have trouble getting past Sigilyph-GX in a clean manner without giving up 3 Prizes in return after they attack. Not only this, but it is the single most Item-dependent deck in the format, with Battle Compressor, Trainers’ Mail, Order Pad, Superior Energy Retrieval, and VS Seeker being played in 4-of copies and they are all pretty much required to make the deck work. That means even early Trashalanche is a big threat against them. On top of the Item reliance, shutting off Blastoise with Garbotoxin means they might not even be able to produce a backup attacker without Deluge to power it up.
Zoroark-GX/Garbodor: Slightly Unfavorable–Even
This is a pretty grindy matchup that is usually defined by how well the Zoroark-GX player draws after late-game Ns. Drampa-GX discarding Double Colorless is crucial here, along with establishing both Road Block and Garbotoxin to stop them from going crazy with their Trades. Usually you’ll sacrifice anywhere between 2–4 Prizes early on while you disrupt their Energy, and hoping that an N + Parallel City + Garbotoxin turn will be able to allow you to pull off a comeback and take over the board. Since it is out of our control what they draw off the N to 1–2, it’s hard to pull off the comeback sometimes if their deck is thin or they hit Double Colorless off these Ns.
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX: Favorable
This matchup is where Sigilyph-GX shines, as there is no way for them to bypass the self-inflicted OHKO when attacking into Mirror Counter. Their best bet is to try and Guzma around the Sigilyph-GX, which isn’t always easy after their initial Turn 1 outburst of resources. Another option is to OHKO Sigilyph-GX while on the Bench with Tag Bolt GX, but that requires a turn of powering yourself up, and that might be tricky as Intercept GX will easily dispatch of any 4+ Energy Pikachu & Zekrom-GX.
Hitmonchan’s main strength is continuous Ability denial with Wobbuffet, along with consistent damage every turn with Hit and Run. Unfortunately for them, Sigilyph-GX has Fighting Resistance, making it difficult to KO, while also able to OHKO pretty much all the relevant Pokémon in that deck. This same concept applies to Trashalanche Garbodor, which is at best 2HKO’d by Hit and Run, yet it likely will be able to take 2 Prizes easily every time. The deck is so cost-effective against everything Hitmonchan offers, and is not disrupted at all by the Ability lock from Wobbuffet, which makes this one of the best matchups for the deck.
Psychic Weakness is a big deal, and anytime they swing into Sigilyph-GX, not only will they not OHKO due to Resistance, but also it will break any Focus Sashes that they might have on their Lucarios. This means their attackers are underwhelming and a combination of Trashalanche plus Sonic Wing should be enough to take the matchup easily.
Trevenant can be a tough matchup for this deck, as they can realistically set up their Item lock without using too many Items, and so our damage output is a bit pitiful against them. Our best option is Drampa-GX here, trying to disrupt their Mystery Energies while eventually taking KOs with Berserk. However, their myriads of Enhanced Hammer and Counter Catcher means even getting an attack off with Drampa-GX won’t be easy at all. It’s not impossible to win, but I would definitely not be happy at all to see my opponent flip over a Phantump when using this deck.
And so, that should cover the “unexpected” deck from Greensboro pretty well! I use quotation marks because it’s not a brand new deck at all—it doesn’t even use any new Team Up cards—yet it was severely underrated going into the event, just like Night March was the weekend before.
With that, I will conclude today’s article and I hope you enjoyed it. I chose to skip Greensboro in favor of going to a Special Event in El Salvador this upcoming weekend, looking to solidify my spot in the Top 4 of Latin America this quarter for an NAIC Travel Award, and a Day 2 Worlds qualification as well. I’ll be updating everyone on how I do this upcoming weekend, so make sure you’re attentive to my Tablemon social media! Thanks for reading and until next time!
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