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Chris Fulop

Collinsville Regional Championships Report

Chris Attends His First Regional Championship Of The Season, Armed With His Trusty Gardevoir Gallade Deck. Find Out How The Tournament Went!

03/05/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

This past weekend I made the 8 hour trek down to St. Loi...Collinsville with my friend Dan to play in the Regional Championships there this weekend. I was actually really excited to play in the event for a number of reasons. First, I had a deck I was really excited to be able to play, with enough games under my belt with it to feel confident with it. I felt that the fallout from the Intercontinental Championship in Australia also led to a predicted metagame shift that should be favorable for my choice. Finally, this was the first tournament where Ultra Prism would be legal. Ultra Prism is a pretty exciting set, all things considered, and I always love the first tournament featuring a new set. As a fan of the game, it is nice to see major changes to a metagame.

With what I have said so far, I don't think it is hard to decipher that I would be playing my Gardevoir Gallade build I have been working on for months. Here is the 60 cards I decided to register for the tournament:

The big story to come out of Australia was Tord Reklev's 3rd Intercontinental win, and the incredible Zoroark Gardevoir deck he and his team brought with them. I'd played against Gardevoir Zoroark decks befre and they were actually quite bad. These builds were primarily a Gardevoir deck with a 2-2 or 3-3 Zoroark line tacked in as a secondary attacker and a source of draw power. This just led to a subpar Gardevoir list that suffered in the mirror match quite bit as Zoroark's presence left you quite soft to the opponent's Gallades. What Tord did was to take this idea and craft an innovative approach to a Zoroark deck. Here is the list he used in Australia:

 

The deck is primarily a Zoroark deck that uses Trade, Mallow and Puzzle of Time to support a Gardevoir line which it can lean on, as well as a nice re-usable toolbox. Giratina shuts down Greninja decks and Mew EX is your best answer to Buzzwole GX. You get the strength of defensive Max Potion builds of Gardevoir without having to bloat your deck with a bunch of Max Potions because your lone copy of the card is loopable with Puzzle of Times. In a really grindy game, you get unparalleled longevity because you have access to Puzzle of Time plus Gardevoir's GX attack which can get back all four Puzzle plus 6 additional cards. You get the strengths of an aggressive Zoroark deck, the strengths of a Gardevoir deck, and a flexible grindiness that neither of those individual decks otherwise provide.

Not only did Tord win the event with this deck, but the rest of his team put up great results with it as well. The deck has great matchups across the board...except it was bad against traditional Gardevoir. Zoroark itself isn't very good against Gardevoir, and they are a huge liability against Gallade. Tord's deck is also not quite as good at providing a strong enough Gardevoir presence to have any edge in the mirror in that area either. This was a fine "loss" to take as Gardevoir was just not super popular and had minimal hype going into the event.

This deck was such a breakout success that it would have a few major impacts on the metagame. First, people would pick up and play the deck. Second, people would re-consider decks that would be good against it. ( In this case, Gardevoir ) Third, since this innovation introduced a whole new approach to deck building, you have to imagine players would look for other builds to be able to exploit a more gimmicky Zoroark toolbox deck. Whatever deck that could come from that would still be weak to Gardevoir...well, Gallade...due to the fact that the mere engine of the deck requires Zoroark(s) to be in play.

Now, this normally would suggest an easily navigatable set of shifts...but Australia was the final event prior to Ultra Prism's legality, so we have to also try to incorporate what cards we could expect to see make major splashes from the new set. The big hyped cards of this set were Glaceon GX and Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma. In testing, Glaceon just felt super mediocre. It wasn't that disruptive, and it was just a good but not spectacular attacker. The general consensus amongst players I tested with was that the card felt strong but none of the decks they'd played/seen it in were good enough to be a consideration for the event. I'm not writing off the card at all, but it would take time to try and "solve" how to use it, so I didn't expect a large amount of it at the event. Plus, Gardevoir was pretty good against the card anyways, so that wasn't an issue.

Magnezone Necrozma, on the other hand, was absolutely a bad matchup for Gardevoir due to being able to pull off easy OHKOs and just generally leveraging type advantage. Dusk Mane Necrozma was just an extremely difficult return KO too because it purged itself of energy making Gardevoir's damage output particularly anemic. Luckily, Magnezone turned out to be extremely clunky and inconsistent. It struggled to set up reliably, had a tremendous amount of moving parts to it's game plan that could get disrupted, it was slow, and was weak to Ability lock. On paper it was like Vikabulu with a better sutie of attackrs.

Unfortunately, the fact that Magnezone needed Energy to be attached from hand opposed to from deck, this meant that even if you managed to get a turn 2 Magnezone out, that you'd often need to have 3-4 Metal Energy in hand too...this was not realistic. Even with Prof. Letter, it just so rarely attacked on the second turn. Even with Mt. Coronet, you still struggled to draw into a constant flow of Energy as the game went on, especially once N got involved.

Ability lock comes in the form of either Garbotoxin or Shadow Stitching. While Magnezone and Vikavolt both struggle equally against Garbodor, Vikabulu benefits from Tapu Bulu being incredible against Greninja. Greninja, with the addition of access to Cynthia, actually got a lot stronger with Ultra Prism. This is bad for Gardevoir, but luckily the Giratina promo exists. Running it lets basically any deck beat Greninja. I don't ever want to ACTUALLY play the card, but luckily it was pretty popular in Australia and Greninja also had some post-Ultra Prism hype, so I was banking on enough other people running it. I also assumed that those considering Greninja would expect the same and opt not to.

Anyways, despite Magnezone having some advantages over Vikabulu...a higher damage cap, a good Gardevoir game, and access to Dialga GX...it ended up being inferior as it just was so much clunkier and easier to pick apart. The fact Magnezone was identified as "not tier 1" was reassuring, but it was still a hyped deck and one of the showcase archetypes from the new set, so I expected some people to still play it.

Glaceon was good for Gardevoir, and Magnezone, while bad for Gardevoir, proved to be pretty poor overall. These findings made me feel pretty good about my choice. Despite the new set actually having a lot of exciting cards, it felt like most of them were just shy of being good enough to make major impacts. I'd take that, for sure.

With that evaluation under my belt, I finalized my list for the event ( At 7:30 am the morning of the tournament, of course. )

4 Ralts: I opted for all Psychic type Ralts. While I did a lot of testing with Magnezone, I knew that this set introduced a lot of really good Metal Pokemon, and Magnezone was not the only potential way to use them. Some sort of Metalbox deck could show up easily. Zak Krekeler took 2nd in London with the deck, and while it fell off the map since then, the deck would get a lot of tools now to use. I wasn't sure how to approach building it, and I didn't hear much talk about the deck so I wasn't super concerned but I did let it's potential presence linger in mind when building the deck. As a result, I didn't want to run a Fairy Ralts that would get OHKOed by Registeel for a Metal Energy. The Psychic Ralts from Breakthrough also offered 20 damage for a DCE...this is far from irrelevant because with a Choice Band you can do 100 damage vs a Psychic weak Pokemon...140 with Prof. Kukui. This comes up against Pokemon like Buzzwole and Espeon EX...vs Trubbish with Kukui...and vs Espeon GX. Oh Espeon GX. This was my biggest oversight with my build choice. Espeon Garbodor would up being an extremely popular and fairly successful deck choice for the event, and I simply did not have it on my radar. This made running all Psychic Ralts...a 60 HP basic weak to Psychic...a mistake, as it could be taken out on the first turn by Psybeam. Oops. I actually do not find Espeon Garbodor to be very good. I played against it 3 times ( spoiler! ) and even with the major Ralts handicap, every match wound up extremely close. I would, in retrospect, run some sort of split on Ralts just to vary the weaknesses.

2 Kirlia: The Psychic Kirlia is definitely the best choice still, even with the Espeon "issue" because it isn't eating a OHKO off of Psybeam. Being a flippy but powerfu Psychic attacker for a DCE is great, especially once Choice Band and Kukui come into the equation.

3 Gardevoir/2 Gallade: Just the perfect number on both of these cards, and I can't see myself ever changing these counts. Gallade is just too good of an attacker in this metagame to go below 2.

3 Tapu Lele GX: Tapu Lele is not only necessary for your consistency, letting you grab Brigette, Cynthia, N or Guzma, but it lets you get away with tech-y Supporters such as the one Mallow and the one Prof. Kukui. Both of those Supporters are a bit timing sensative, so being able to grab them is important. Tapu Lele is also actually a great attacker too! Gardevoir is a Stage 2 deck...it will always be a little bit clunky and that means having something to attack with early during slower games is important. Tapu Lele isn't a premier attacker anymore but it is much better than people seem to view it as being. It did a tremendous amount of work for me against Buzzwole and Espeon GX during this tournament. Also, with Prof. Kukui, you can actually hit for 60 against Basic Pokemon on the first turn, so you can occasionally get some stolen wins off this. ( I've beaten a few Greninja decks with this, since they run so few basics that they often do pass the first turn with just a Froakie. )

2 Remoraid/2 Octillery: I'm not running a Stage 2 deck without Octillery for draw power, and this deck is no different. I just want the additional consistancy. I'm not interested in settling for Oranguru, or gambling on a 1-1 line to save space. This line is too important. Just run the thicker line.

1 Regirock EX: Regirock is really nice because it freaks your opponent out every time you play it. Literally every time. Amusing shock value aside, it is also legitimately good for hitting key numbers with Gallade. Alongside Kukui and Choice Band you can hit for 190 damage. This lets you OHKO Buzzwole GX and Dusk Mane Necrozma. Both of these are obnoxious cards to play against. This play was easier to pull off when I ran 2 copies of Kukui, but going down to just one copy makes it less reliable...and not repeatable. I had actually wanted to cut the Regirock at first, feeling my matchups were good enough that I didn't need to be able to leverage the Guzma KOs on Tapu Leles, but then I realized that I was just an underdog in the Gardevoir mirror match. One of the big selling points of Regirock EX is that it gives you such an edge against other Gardevoir decks as you can lead off with a huge Lele KO. The matchup plays out in two different ways usually...either there is a notable start gap and one player just sets up first and leverages that pressure into a snowballed in, or you hit these game of chicken where both players try and position themself into the lead without exposing their attackers to a return KO by attaching too much Energy to their Gardevoir. By being able to lead a Gallade and threaten a 2 prize EX KO, you are able to play the second game so much better than a normal Gardevoir deck. With Octillery, you are also usually the "faster" to set up, and have an edge there as well. I debated between this card and a Super Boost Energy...another card I felt would offer strength in the mirror match. Boost wasn't bad, but it wasn't super reliable, and while you could use it for a huge damage boost, it also fed right into their damage too and almost always just ate a return KO. Regirock actually did more for the mirror match than any single card inclusion could, and I really only had one spot to be able to devote to the mirror. It also offered some strength vs Buzzwole and Necrozma as mentioned.

1 Clefairy: Clefairy is fantastic. It can be powered up in one turn with Secret Spring, and Metronome is just a monster against a lot of the format. This deck doesn't use it's GX attack often, so you can often allocate your GX use to Clefairy copying one of the opponent's.

4 Double Colorless Energy/7 Fairy Energy: This is pretty much the standard Energy count. I experimented with the Super Boost Energy, but it was difficult to actually take advantage of and if you did actually power it up, it was often a win-more card. The matchup I hoped it would shine in, the Gardevoir mirror, turned out to be a matchup where it was a double edged sword. It allowed you to get a KO but almost always led right back into a KO for the opponent.

3 Cynthia/3 N/1 Mallow. N is the best Supporter in the game. Cynthia is a vast improvement over Prof. Sycamore because it doesn't discard resources. In a Stage 2 deck, this is important. Even though Gardevoir's GX attack lets you recover resources, without any Max Potions, this deck's build is focused much more on applying pressure and winning the prize exchange. As such it does not want to take a turn off to get cards back unless it absolutely has to. Mallow is too great with Octillery and it can get you cards that are otherwise hard to search up such as Double Colorless Energy and Rare Candy. You also run a lot of thinner counts, so it lets you make sure you reliably hit what you want opposed to relying solely on raw card quantity draw to hit your stuff. You aren't quite as consistant as Tord's Gardevoir list as a 4-4 Zoroark line adds more than a 2-2 Octillery does, but this draw engine does share some similarities.

1 Prof. Kukui: I've sung Kukui's praises a bunch before about how it hits key numbers, but I haven't touched on what it does for the Gardevoir mirror yet. First, it lets your Gallade OHKO their Gallade. It isn't uncommon to lead Gallades in order to not expose a Gardevoir, so if you have "Gallade Supremacy" it cuts them off one potential avenue to approaching the matchup. More importantly, Gardevoir deals damage in increments of 30. Kukui reduces Gardevoir's 230 HP to an effective 210. This means you need only 7 "increments" opposed to 8. This is really important because you get access to 50 "phantom damage"...as in, 50 damage you get to deal, while having none of it factor into how much damage the opposing Gardevoir deals back. As such, you can actually OHKO an opponent's Gardevoir without risking them getting a return KO quite often because of it. The opponent will almost never factor this math into their game plan as well, so you have quite an edge. Kukui doesn't get quite the head tilt that the Regirock does, but lets not overlook the advantage against strong players you gain by having game plans they would never put you on. Punishing otherwise correct play is great.

3 Guzma/2 Brigette: These are pretty standard numbers for these Supporters. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

4 Ultra Ball/4 Rare Candy: Mandatory numbers. You legitimately just can't trim these. I'd run more if I could. I actually wonder what is the maximum number of Ultra Ball I would run if I could run more than 4? It is probably legitimately like 10 since it is so good with Tapu Lele and Octillery.

3 Choice Band: I see a lot of Gardevoir builds running 2 of these, and Tord only ran 1. I'm aggressively trying to match specific numbers and don't run healing, so I really want to hit them quickly and often. I've found myself wanting the 4th even, but I know better.

3 Field Blower: The deck relies on Octillery for draw so you really don't want to be Garbotoxin locked. Parallel City isn't a backbreaker against you, but you do want to have a wider bench and letting it stick in a prolonged game is a real issue. Fighting Fury Belt is a huge issue, as like I mentioned, you really care about hitting very specific numbers and thus you can't afford to let 40 additional HP stand. Because of all of these factors, I want 3 copies of the card opposed to just 2.

1 Super Rod: Without Max Potion eating up your Energy cards, 1 copy of Super Rod is fine, especially since we have Cynthia and not Sycamore now. Mallow grabbing it for you helps too. I love not having 2 Super Rod clunking up hands throughout the game.

Anyways, now that we got the list and rationale out of the way, lets see how the tournament played out.
I played the above list, and my hotel room which consisted of my friend Dan Polo, Carl Scheu and Kevin Baxter played Buzzgarb/Passimian/Passimian respectively. Dan and Carl had rough days but Kevin managed to squeak into day 2 with a 7-2 record with his monkeys.

Round 1 vs Metalbox
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After registering my deck with 4 Psychic Ralts, I THEN became aware of the Espeon Garb hype and was immediately regretting not running a split on Ralts. I felt a little bit vindicated ( results oriented! ) as my first opponent was running Metalbox. I lost the coin flip, which was of course bad news, but my draw was pretty good. She had a mediocre start, and I was able to get a KO with Clefairy and a Choice Band on a Celesteela GX and Gallades took care of a pair of Silvally GX to win the first game. The second game played out somewhat interestingly, as my opponent went out of her way to pick off both of my Remoraid before I could get out an Octillery, which REALLY stifled my draw power over the course of the game. Unfortunately, by doing this, I was able to maintain a fairly strong field otherwise, while she was also running out of Guzma for use of closing out the game later on. By the time she got my Remoraids down, I got a KO on her attacker ( Again, Celesteela ) and her field was left without Energy. She had to transition to Registeel to rebuild which took the pressure off and I was able to draw just well enough without Octillery to be able to navigate the win.

Win, 2-0.

1-0 Record

Round 2 vs Gardevoir
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I won the die roll, and I wound up with a really strong start. I get the first KO with a Gardevoir, and my opponent just kind of attacks back into it and the game really snowballs as I am able to just get more stage 2s and energy into play while staying ahead on prizes.

The second game was frustrating. I get a decent start, although my opponent's is objectively better as he got to go first. The game falls apart entirely as I get N's into a six card hand of all Field Blower, Stage 2 Pokemon and Brigette. I basically make no forward progression for 3 turns and my Gardevoir goes down and I concede to hopefully be able to win the third game.

Game was even worse, as I open with a Tapu Lele and see 6 addition cards of...Gallade, Gardevoir GX, Gardevoir GX, Kirlia, Rare Candy, Super Rod. I draw. Kirlia. Pass. My opponent Brigettes and attaches a DCE. I draw...Field Blower. I pass, as my opponent gets out an Octillery and a pair of Gardevoir after Cynthia. I'm basically checked out at this point, as there was like 15 minutes left on the clock, and my hand is non functional against a god start. I didn't realize until it was too late that my opponent went on to play a second Supporter for the turn, a Prof. Sycamore. I call a judge over, and luckily we can rewind the damage done by the Sycamore as no searching or anything had happened and all of the cards were easily rewound. I feel bad I didn't catch it as it happened, but I was pretty resigned to the game being over and wasn't paying a tremendous amount of attention. I feel like my opponent was also just kind of rushing through it all too because of my quick passes, and do not feel for a moment that there was any malice in his play. ( He was really pleasant to play against the whole round, actually. ) The judge comes over and after a brief discussion with another judge, issues my opponent a prize penalty...an Evosoda. Yay. I actually end up drawing a Cynthia for the turn, and it gets me a pair of Ralts to bench. The game continues a few turns and I actually get a KO on a Kirlia with 2 energy off of a Guzma, and we both of 3 prizes left ( due to my free prize ) when time is called. Neither of us are in a position to actually take 3 prizes in extra turns and it ends up being a draw. We did not get any time extension for the judge call which took 2-3 minutes, which is something I really disagree with even if it has been handled that way for awhile now. It absolutely could have factored into this game's result. That said, untimed, my opponent likely wins this game, but it was not with any level of certainty after the Kirlia KO as he had a Gardevoir in play with a DCE and a Fairy against my Gardevoir with a lone Fairy. I doubt he could have gotten a KO that turn, and if he did, he'd have been fully loaded and I could have maybe gotten the return KO. Had the game been locked in his favor to win, I would have conceded. I don't feel bad about taking a prize penalty, he played two Supporters, that is appropriate. I DO feel bad that we only got 47 minutes for a match, because we should have had a time extension if it was up to me. I was still content getting a draw out of that match after how badly my deck drew to put me into that position.

Draw, 1-1-1

1-0-1 Record

Round 3 vs Zoroark Lycanroc
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I hadn't met or played my opponent before but I recognized his name from tournament results and knew he was a good player. He was on Zoroark Lycanroc, which was a matchup I felt really confident about. I get a turn 2 Gallade for a KO on a Zoroark GX, and have a Kirlia benched. Kirlia eats a KO, but I'm doing alright...I felt like I was strongly favored, until I get N'd and manage to draw nothing for about 4 turns and lose. I only got the one Gallade out, and no Gardevoir or Octillery this game. It is really difficult to be able to complain about my draws when I get a turn 2 Gallade KO on a Zoroark, but the rest of the draws for the rest of the game were pretty rancid. My opponent played really well ( as close to optimally as I could tell ) to take advantage of my draws too, so props to him too.

Game 2 I again get a kind of good start, but I struggle to get a bench full of Ralts, and he is able to pick off all my under-evolutions and I couldn't really get anything going beyond my first attacker which eventually goes down. Again, a really well navigated game plan by my opponent, but another frustrating way for the matchup to play out for me as well.

Loss, 0-2

1-1-1 Record

Round 4 vs Golisopod Zoroark Leafeon
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I get paired against a Golisopod Zoroark deck that I find out later has a 2-1 Leafeon GX line added to it. I draw fairly well game one, and I like this matchup in the first place. My opponent's draws did not cooperate, and he missed some attachments and really just struggled to set up as his Trades didn't yield a whole lot. I watched as he cycled through a lot of his cards and his build seemed pretty standard beyond the Leafeon, but the sequencing of his draws did him no favors.

Game 2 he opens with an Eevee, opting to go 2nd...his luck continues, as he attaches a grass Energy and...finds his Leafeon EX is prized. My draw this game is exceptional, and I don't think it would have made a huge difference, but missing the Leafeon really hindered his game.

Win, 2-0

2-1-1 Record

Round 5 vs Espeon Garbodor
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This was a demoralizing match, not because of how the games played out but because I played an absolutely miserable first game. I just took a bunch of gambles to try and set up and leave myself extra vulnerable to Garbotoxin when I had no reason to, and it absolutely backfired. I have no idea why I'd take those lines in retrospect, and this was the first time I felt I've just horribly butchered a game in a long time. I get stuck draw passing to his turn 2 Garbodor and quickly concede so I can try to win games 2 and 3 to avoid being eliminated from day 2 contention.

Game 2 my opponent gets turn 2 Garbotoxin a 2nd game in a row, and my hand isn't very good. He gets really far ahead, but he had to put a Choice Band on his Garbodor and I saw he had 2 cards in hand and did not play a Supporter on his turn. I Guzma Garbodor active and hit it with Tapu Lele for 40 for a few turns...then pass while I develop and he fails to have a Guzma to get his Garbodor free, and by the time I get the KO my field is fantastic and I win comfortably from there.

The third game was interesting, because he got his third consecutive turn 2 Garbotoxin, which is...not statistically likely, but sure. I end up relying heavily on Tapu Lele to do heavy lifting and keep the game close. I struggle to find Field Blowers, and the game comes down to us N'ing and who can draw out of them better...my opponent's last few turns had some pretty strong draws...nothing unreasonable, but none of the N's managed to stick well, and they usually do hinder Garbodor decks pretty well. I needed a stumble and didn't get one, and lost a fairly close game despite not really setting up particularly great. I actually feel like this matchup is fairly close, even with poor Ralts selection.

Loss, 1-2

2-2-1 Record

Round 6 vs Espeon Garbodor
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This is the point in the day where I really struggle to remember specifics of this match. I was a bit resigned after taking my 2nd loss the prior round, and I ( SPOILER! ) played 3 matches against Espeon Garbodor and things started to blur. It went to 3 games, and I remember the third game being really close. I won both games I got to go first, surprising, right?

Win 2-1

3-2-1 Record

Round 7 vs Buzzwole Garbodor
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Well, I get a third straight Garbodor deck, and I really feel like this is just a superior deck to Espeon Garbodor. At the very least, it was a more dangerous deck for me to play against. It applies a lot more pressure, and has an overall larger damage output. Buzzwole is just a better Pokemon than Espeon GX, and if they fail to get a timely Garbodor out, or I draw my Field Blowers well, I still have to worry about Buzzwole's raw power.

My opponent gets a pretty good start, and I get a chance to try and use my Clefairy. I manage to both put a Trubbish to sleep, and it actually stays asleep. My opponent is unable to break the sleep, and is now left with a Buzzwole GX with a Strong Energy and a Fighting Energy on the bench. I Guzma it, and Metronome Absortion GX for the KO. My opponent fails to find a Strong Energy, and was running Choice Band over Fighting Fury Belt, and was unable to KO the Clefairy. Once Choice Band and a Knuckle Impact later and Clefairy takes down a second Buzzwole. That more or less locks up the first game.

The second game my opponent has a pair of Buzzwole and a pretty poor start. He never benches a Trubbish, and as a result I am able to set up smoothly. Without Garbotoxin, this matchup is pretty favorable, and I was able to win a second fairly non-competitive game in a row. It wasn't the best way to win a match of Pokemon, but after how many poor draws I had seen myself previously, I'd take it.

Win, 2-0

4-2-1 Record

Round 8 vs Vikabulu
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I go second this round, but luckily I quickly see that he is on Vikabulu, which is a pretty good matchup for me. I hadn't logged as many games against lists which ran FC Mew...which he did...and that card does offer up a bit of an additional challenge. Forcing me to take only 1 prize for a KO on their attackers opposed to nice clean GX KOs makes the matchup grindier, which lets them leverage their superior energy acceleration even more. They still really struggle to OHKO a Gardevoir GX, though. The addition of Clefairy in the deck also allowed me to leverage a one prize attacker against a Tapu Bulu myself. Gallade, Choice Band and the lone Prof. Kukui can also do the same. Luckily for me, I get a turn 2 Gallade, Octillery and Kirlia out and my opponent misses the turn 2 Vikavolt. I draw about as well as possible this game, and win comfortably.

The second game goes a bit worse, as my draw isn't perfect and my opponent sets up a bit better. Still, I set up reasonably well and my opponent isn't really able to leverage Mew at all this game and as a result even going second and giving up the first KO I wasn't really in a ton of danger this game either. It was a nice change of pace from a gauntlet of Garbodor decks.

Win, 2-0

5-2-1 Record

Round 9 vs Espeon Garbodor
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I have had some really poor luck with my round 9 matches at Regionals/Nationals the past few years. I was hoping to buck that trend this time, as I believe with a win I would end up in top 64. Due to my overall Championship Points and my lack of desire to keep traveling to events, I didn't really care too much about the points, and I was already eliminated from Day 2 contention, so I was mainly playing to try and earn the top 64 pack payout and to help Kevin's fantasy draft. ( poor sap drafted me for his team. )

Things start off as predicted, as I open a Regirock EX and a poor hand. I have an Ultra Ball, for a Tapu Lele, but no where to go with it if I were to grab a Brigette. I end up taking a Cynthia, attaching a Double Colorless Energy to the Tapu Lele, and playing it. Regirock ends up doing a remarkable job of being a wall, before it dies and I transition into attacking with Tapu Lele. I end up somehow grinding out a really long game with Tapu Lele doing most of the heavy lifting before I am finally able to get out a Gardevoir GX at the very end. I have no idea how I won this game, but I won't complain.

The second game results in another turn 2 Garbotoxin ( He had it the first game too. ) and this game goes south very quickly as I don't see a Field Blower. If I had one, I had Octillery available on the second turn. I draw blanks for a few turns and concede with the hope of being able to actually finish game 3 and try and get the match win. If I was grinding points out, I probably try to extend this game and force a draw.

The third game wound up really competitive. He again gets a turn 2 Garbotoxin, but I have enough draw power to wor around it. He takes an early lead, which is just natural in this matchup, but I am able to keep the gap minimal. We both end up at 4 prizes, and my set up is pretty solid at this point. We both start playing N, while under Garbotoxin, and I just really need my opponent to hit a weak hand off of one of his. These Garbodor decks are notoriously weak to randomly dead drawing off of late game N, and I actually opted against playing Field Blower to try and take advantage of that. I get to 1 prize to my opponent's 2, when time is called. I have 2 turns to hit a Guzma, but fail. My opponent had no cards in hand, and needed to hit a Guzma on his last turn to win, and draws it to take the win opposed to the draw, for another disappointing 9th round match for me.

Loss, 1-2

5-3-1 Record

I actually don't know exactly what place I wound up in, as I left before standings went up to go get food at the adjacent Mexican restaurant which I had fallen in love with since the night before. I was a bit disappointed overall with my performance for a couple of reasons. First, I felt I had some pretty poor draws and some overall negative variance. I am not bitter about that. It is out of my control, and something you learn to deal with when you do this long enough. I actually mulliganned 20 total times over 9 rounds...details I left out of the round by round review, but with 11 Basics in the list, that was absurd. These are all things I can't do much about.

What I can be disappointed in are my play in round 5, and my oversight regarding the popularity of Espeon Garbodor. I should have had at least some inkling of it's popularity going into the event. I could have made a few simple changes. A split on Ralts would have been an easy shift. Also, I was considering going with 4 Cynthia and 2 N instead of 3/3. N is better in most matchups, but I feel good against non-disruptive decks in the first place. Cynthia is better when dealing with mid and late game Garbotoxin. It would also help somewhat against Greninja, although I am also unsure if it would make enough of a difference.

I would have played the same deck again, maybe with a few tweaks, in hindsight. I played against a shockingly low amount of Zoroark decks despite the fact they were extremely prevailant. The "surprise" deck of the format was Zoroark Weavile, a deck I am just not impressed by. It is also not good against Gardevoir. I did like the build Natalie Shampay used to take 2nd place at the event though.

 

I am a big fan of reducing the Garbodor line down to just the Garbotoxin one. This lets you avoid having to play Rainbow Energy which in turn lets you run all Fighting Energy and Max Elixir. Natalie took it one step farther with a 2-2 Carbink BREAK line, which is also only reasonable if you run enough actual Fighting Energy.

She ran 1 Zygarde EX as an additional attacker primarily because it has a different weakness than Buzzwole while still being very powerful. Other interesting choices are to only run a pair of N. I mentioned before how Garbodor decks are notorious for self destructing under N, and Natalie adjusted this list accordingly. In place of a potential 3rd N, there is a Lillie. Lillie is a great turn 1 Supporter, clearly, but it doesn't get enough credit as being a viable draw Supporter throughout the game as well.

Finally, there are 0 copies of Brigette in this build. Instead of her, there are 2 copies of Nest Ball. I'm a fan of not having to use my first turn to use a Brigette. This isn't too different from the engine that we've seen in Vikavolt builds recently. I think it is a pretty good fit for this deck. You do care about getting specific Pokemon on your bench, but you don't need the wide berth of Basics that a Zoroark deck wants.

There are a few decks I wanted to go over to close out this article. First, the Passimian deck that Carl Scheu and Kevin Baxter used.

 

This is certainly a very interesting deck. The deck's sole purpose is to absolutely abuse Zoroark GX decks. Passimian is able to really destroy the Fighting weak Stage 1 Dark Pokemon which is present in such a large portion of the metagame. Passimian does 10 damage, plus 30 more damage for each Passimian on your Bench for a Double Colorless Energy. ( or a Counter Energy if behind! ) This gives you a "base" damage of 100, but against Evolved Pokemon, you deal far more damage due to the new Ultra Prism Passimian. This card boosts your damage output by 30 for each copy benched, so you can hit up to 190 off of this. Toss in a Choice Band against EX and GX Pokemon and you hit 220. Need to hit 230 for that Gardevoir GX? Regirock EX gives you that last 10 damage. This requires a lot of moving parts to come together but it is absolutely doable.

One of the riskiest parts of this deck is that you only run one copy of your actual attacker. Since you really want to reap the rewards of the damage boosting Passimians, you run 3 of them. This gimmick is only viable because you run 2 Gladion which can pluck your attacking monkey out of the prizes if it wins up there. Getting it back isn't too difficult because you run 4 copies of Rescue Stretcher and 4 Puzzle of Time. On top of this, you run a Mew from Fates Collide. This deck would potentially struggle against Buzzwole GX if it wasn't for the Mew, who preys upon it through type advantage.

Against decks with a lot of higher HP Pokemon, Tapu Koko comes in handy. While not really tier 1 decks at the moment, Metagross GX and Decidueye GX fill their bench with Pokemon that exceed 230 HP and the extra spread damage makes cleaning up a lot easier. It also works really well with Counter Energy, as you can put a bunch of damage in play while setting up your deck to take advantage of it and Counter Catcher. When I first heard that Carl and Kevin were seriously considering playing a Passimian deck, I assumed it would be a really aggressive build of the deck since I remember rough builds of the deck prior to Ultra Prism. In actuality, the deck isn't super aggressive because it usually takes time to get everything in play, and not every deck is about OHKOs. Your Zoroark games generally are pretty easy to navigate, but in the few games I've played since Collinsville with the deck I've found it difficult to play and I am glad I didn't audible to it at the last minute.

The one thing I really do love about the deck is how well you can get away with running thin numbers on the Pokemon. Between Gladion liberating cards from your prizes, and Puzzle of Time paired with 4 Rescue Stretcher, you can really reliably have access to your single copy of cards. I love being able to get away with a 2-1 Octillery line, for example. That being said, I feel like the deck is missing just a bit and isn't quite competitive enough to be where I'd want it to be to play. Kevin managed a 7-2 record to make day 2, but everyone else who played it did fairly poorly. Still, it is a really, really fun deck to play and it does prey on the most popular card in the format, so if you feel like mixing it up it is a fun alternative to some of the old standby decks.


Next up, I had a pretty gimmicky deck I tried to test going into the event. Tord's Zoroark Gardevoir deck gave me some inspiration to be slightly greedier. I like the idea of using a consistant Zoroark deck to also power out stronger late game options. I've also been obsessed with trying to find a home for Dialga GX. Gardevoir and Gallade are great attackers, but Magnezone and assorted Metal friends are a bit stronger once you set them up. The big difference here is that if you were to cut the Gardevoir line and add a Magnezone, Dialga GX and Dusk Mane Necrozma GX, you also need to make some adjustments to the Energy line because Tord's list got away with playing very few Energy. You have to make some compromises in terms of versatility but in turn you get a bit more raw power. I wasn't sold on the deck enough to really consider it for Collinsville, but it was interesting enough that I'd like to test it further going forward. Here is the final result for what I had worked on.

 

You have to settle for a thinner Magnezone line, but that hasn't been much of a problem for me so far. You have to be a bit more conservative about your bench space allotments, as Magnezone takes up a bench spot and you also need your attacker. You also need a means by which to actually see enough Metal Energy over the span of a game. Between Prof. Letter, Mt. Coronet, Mallow, Trade and Puzzle of Time, you'd be surprised how much you can do with only 4 Metal Energy in the deck. The big advantage is that you can reliably Mallow for multiple Energy cards now. Piecing everything together is surprisingly reasonable.

One of the problems the deck does face is that you do end up really crunched on resouces. A lot of the numbers are at their thinnest possible counts, and you are relying a lot on Mallow and Puzzle of Times. You really have to be stingy with your Puzzles in particular as they are strained, doing a lot of heavy lifting. One thing that wasn't apparent at first in Tord's Zoroark Gardevoir list is the importance of Gardevoir's GX attack. Being able to get 10 cards back in that deck really did make a big difference and it is a great safety net for games where you do have to overextend.

There is a very reasonable chance this deck can get by with a thinner Zoroark presence...probably a 3/3 line...in order to get a bit of space. The deck feels really consistant setting up, and it is really powerful once set up, but it has been stumbling because of some of the minimalist counts. I honestly feel like there is a viable 60 card deck for this archetype, but I've yet to get there with it. For people looking for something to try and improve upon, this is a reasonable starting point. The upside for the deck is also extremely high.

While the big message out of this Regionals was that the old guard of archetypes were still King, that isn't to be too depressing. If you look at past big events where a new set debuted, they were often ruled by what players felt comfortable with. You rarely had aggressive innovation because even if the decks were promising, it is safer to go with a comparable deck that is proven and refined. I'd be surprised if some of the new cards didn't make a splash going forth. Until next time!

[+24] okko


 

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