Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

A Closer Look at the Daytona Regional Finalist Decks and my Top 5 Favorites from Shining Legends

Jose analyzes the finalist decks of the Daytona Regional Championships. He also gives his top five favorites from the new Shining Legends set.

10/17/2017 by Jose Marrero

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Hola 60cards readers! I'm back again, with another article, this time discussing the finalist's decks of the Daytona Regional Championships as well as going over my top five Shining Legends favorites. First, I'd like to give a shout-out to ARG teammates Jon Eng and Grant Manley on their Top 8 finishes, respectively. When it comes to Ryan Sabelhaus, he refuses to lose in the finals of a Regionals. I've once been on the wrong end of this, which funny enough was at his first Florida Regionals win. This man has won five Regional Championships in Masters. Ryan now ties Israel Sosa with five wins apiece. However, Michael Pramawat still holds the crown for most Regional wins in Masters, as far as the US goes, with six. It'll be exciting to see if either Ryan or Israel can ditto Michael before he achieves his seventh win. Bob Zhang was the runner-up at Daytona Regionals, who actually was undefeated until the finals. It was a blast seeing Bob just run through player after player. He finished Day 1 with an outstanding record of 8-0-1 and Ryan finished with a record of 7-0-2.

Finishing Day 1 with such a strong ending put Bob in prime contention of making Top 8 as well as Ryan. Bob didn't stop there, as Bob continued his dominance finishing 1st seed going into Top 8. There he faced off against 1st year Master and newly ARG sponsored player Jon Eng, where he was able to take Jon down and move on to Top 4. Next, Bob had to go up against last year's only two-time Regional Champion Azul, who piloted the same 60 as Ryan. Bob next met Ryan in the finals after Bob's 2-0 victory against Azul. Bob had just defeated back to back Necrozma-GX/Garbodor decks and then faced it once more against four-time Regional Champion, Ryan Sabelhaus. Both games were fairly even, as the matchup was probably 50-50 at best for both players. Ryan, who never gave up after his teammate was taken out in Top 4, gave it his all and prevailed, claiming his 5th Regionals win and made history once again. 

With that said, let's see what all the fuss is about and jump right into Ryan's first place winning deck, Necrozma-GX/Garbodor.


This list was piloted by many top players, including Ryan Sabelhaus, Brad Curcio, Azul Garcia, Russell Laparre, Rahul Reddy, Kenny Britton, Santiago Rodriguez, and a few others. I was in the room when they were deciding on the last-minute changes to the list, I should’ve realized then that I should have played the deck. I blame Azul because we tested a few games and my Seismitoad-EX/Golisopod-GX deck bested him 2-0, so my confidence spiked and I didn't switch decks. I believe that aside from Kenny Britton, everyone who piloted the list was in Top 64 or higher. The only reason Kenny didn't make Top 64 or better was that he played Rahul in the win-and-in so one of them had to unfortunately miss the cut. Brad bubbled out of Day 2 with 20 points due to his ID last round, which was also unfortunate. As you can see, this list has a lot going for it and that's why it did so well. Starting with the Pokémon, Ryan and the others played a 4-3 line of Garbodor. I believe this line is standard in this type of build. You want to use only Tool Drop Trubbishes so you can abuse Dimension Valley and attack for a single Psychic Energy to take cheap KOs or set up KOs for later. One Garbotoxin and two Trashalanche is the ideal way to go because you want to be able to fit other attackers.

Three Tapu Lele-GX is a no-brainer since this deck plays a hefty amount of supporters, with many of them being one-ofs. Now, the inclusion of Necrozma-GX is what makes this deck a force to be reckoned with. With Dimension Valley, you can use Black Ray GX for just a Double Colorless Energy. This means you can use Black Ray GX any time you want, which makes it difficult for your opponent to play around it. Drampa-GX almost didn't make it into the deck, but Brad was so insistent on keeping it in, as was Azul. They realized Berserk and Big Wheel GX were too good not to have the option of using. Now, Mew's inclusion was mainly due to Drampa-GX. Ryan and the others decided to add Mew because, with Dimension Valley, Mew can copy Drampa-GX's, Berserk for a Double Colorless Energy, which can surprise players with a one-hit KO. Not only that, Mew can copy Oricorio's attack Supernatural Dance for free, which was very useful against Night March. Mew can do the dirty work while Oricorio is kept safe on the bench. By doing so Mew essentially makes it as if you played two Oricorio. Mew gave the deck so many options, so I'm pretty sure it had to be the MVP in a lot of matches. Lastly, Mimikyu was another new addition. It also gave the deck even more options since it can too abuse Dimension Valley, making it's Copycat attack only require one Psychic Energy. Copying Golisopod-GX's First Impression can also be clutch. However, Mimikyu can't copy GX attacks, though a lot of times that's okay. Mimikyu can also copy Turtonator-GX and Ho-Oh-GX, and can one-shot them both with a Choice Band with their own attacks. The rest of the list is pretty straightforward, but I'll go over some of the one-of supporters anyway. Teammates makes this deck more consistent because you're using low hit point attackers, so Teammates will come in handy most times. Acerola can be clutch to pick up Necrozma-GX or Drampa-GX after they have attacked or even Tapu Lele-GX. Ghetsis in Expanded can win games out of the blue, especially early on. The deck didn't have Rainbow Energies at first until they added Mew because Mew plus Drampa-GX can do wonders. I knew this list was very good and I regret not playing it in the long run.

Other card options


Brad Curcio won a League Cup with this card in his Necrozma-GX/Garbodor list, which I discussed in my last article. He and others decided to drop it for a more useful card. Still, Turtonator-GX can help against Golisopod-GX, which was one of the deck's tougher matchups. I know Jon Eng kept it in his Top 8 list as well as Gabe Cherniske in his 17th place list.


Jon also played Seismitoad-EX in his top 8 list. You never know when a surprise item lock can be game-changing. Plus, Ryan played Choice Band and Double Colorless Energy anyway so why not add Seismitoad-EX? It can still be useful against Night March even though Oricorio is more effective in the late game.

Oranguru SUM 113:

Gabe's 17th place list ran a copy of Oranguru. If you are against a deck that doesn't need Garbotoxin then Oranguru can come in handy so you're immune to N.

Wobbuffet PHF 36:

Again, Gabe played a copy of this card as well. Wobbuffet doesn't stop you from getting a turn one Brigette so why not? If anything, Wobuffet can slow other decks down that rely on abilities that aren't Psychic types. You can then transition over to Garbotoxin once it's time to attack.

Giratina Promo:

Useful against Trevenant and Greninja BREAK decks. Trevenant, as many saw, was beating most of the Necrozma-GX/Garbodor players. Having Giratina will surely make the matchup in your favor.


The deck plays three stadiums and if you're attacking with Trashalanche or Drampa-GX then sometimes you won't need Dimension Valley. This is where Delinquent can steal games, by deleting your opponent's hand down to zero or forcing them to discard more items to fuel Trashalanche.

Muscle Band:

At first, Ryan and the others were contemplating whether or not to go with Muscle Band over Choice Band, or a mix. In the end, they decided to go with only Choice Band for the extra 10 damage. However, Muscle Band automatically adds 40 damage for Tool Drop.

Super Rod:

If Rainbow Energies weren't in the deck, I would think Super Rod would have made the list over 1 Rescue Stretcher. However, Ryan only played four basic energy, so it's likely that they won't be in the discard often, and Rescue Stretcher's first effect is necessary to stream Garbodors.

Mystery Energy:

Literally every Pokémon in this deck can use Mystery Energy aside from Drampa-GX. Everything would have free retreat aside from Garbodor having 1 retreat cost, so Mystery Energy can be pretty sweet in this deck. Actually, Ryan first had the deck built with Mystery Energies until he worked on the list with Brad, Azul, and others.

Trevenant BREAK

Bob surprised everyone after his 8-0-1 finish day 1 with a typical take on Trevenant BREAK. Bob didn't play anything too spicy other than three cards: one Head Ringer, a Captivating Pokepuff, and a Karen. With decks being more heavily based on GX Pokémon, I'm unsure why Bob played the Head Ringer. Even if it's useful against Shaymin-EX loops you have multiple N, which shut that game plan down. I guess against Darkrai-EX it could be very useful. However, the top Darkrai deck in Daytona was the variant without the EX and strictly the GX only as the main attacker, which Head Ringer has no effect on. As for Captivating Poke Puff, I can see it being extremely clutch to force your opponent into benching Tapu Lele-GX or a heavy retreat cost Pokémon. The addition of Karen threw me off because Trevenant BREAK decks usually have an easy time against Night March. Then again, Karen can help win more in that matchup, while still being useful against Vespiquen/Flareon, which Andrew Wamboldt started 5-0-0 and finished 6-2-1 with.

I will say, though Bob didn't include cards to help some of his matchups. He did however, keep the deck very consistent, which is probably why he went so far. Focusing on the turn one item lock and nothing else is what makes Trevenant BREAK as a whole so powerful. Silent Fear is all the deck thrives on, which is probably why Bob didn't play Necrozma-GX. Xerosic is needed in case your opponent got a tool on Trubbish before you got Trevenant on board. This way you can Xerosic off the tool and keep the lock going. I like that Bob kept Bursting Balloons in the deck, because you need that extra 60 damage to hit bigger numbers to take faster KOs. That way your opponent has less time to set up any type of threat. You want to put pressure on your opponent right away and keep it going as long as possible. Overall Bob's list is solid and the consistency it brings to the table is why Bob went so far in the tournament.

Other card options

Necrozma-GX + Double Colorless Energy:

It was honestly surprising to see Bob not running Necrozma-GX. You would think every Trevenant BREAK deck would play at least 1 copy...But nope, Bob thought otherwise, and played the deck to focus strictly on permanent item locking the opponent. It makes sense, because why would you ever want to break the item lock anyway? Bob going undefeated until the finals should corroborate this, as well as why you don't need Necrozma-GX, although it would have been very useful against M Rayquaza-EX. Bob probably knew the deck would be slim to none and in the end it paid off, and his gut feeling was on point. There's no need to play Double Colorless Energies if you aren't playing Necrozma-GX. Otherwise, you should because Dimension Valley allows a Black Ray GX attack for just a Double Colorless Energy, essentially one energy attachment, which can be used anytime. Bob added one copy of Silent Lab, which makes sense if you want to shut down Giratina or Tapu Lele-GXs from getting a Hex Maniac, Guzma, or Lysandre.

Wobbuffet PHF 36 + Mystery Energy:

Wobbuffet can still be useful even though Tapu Lele-GX gets around it. Everything can abuse Mystery Energy in this deck aside from Shaymin-EX. If you open with Tapu Lele-GX you get to keep the energy for later. However, if that energy were a Psychic Energy instead and you open with Shaymin-EX you can still get the turn one Trevenant. Mystery Energy only really matters if you're running Wobbuffet, because it can't retreat for a single Psychic Energy.


Another supporter option to discard energy, except Plumeria can discard any energy on the opponent's field not only the active. Plumeria is basically Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic combined, where you can discard the active Pokémon's energy or a benched energy, where it can also be a Special Energy. The only downside is that you have to discard 2 cards in order to use Plumeria.


There are times when this deck asks for a lot so having Colress potentially netting you all the pieces you need can be great. Finding that clutch Bursting Balloon when needed most, or a BREAK as well as Dimension Valley can be game-changing. Usually, when Trevenant misses a beat they are likely destined to lose that game.

Crushing Hammer + Enhanced Hammer:

Energy removal in Trevenant decks has always been a pain for players. Bob thought differently and went with his own approach, and decided to not include any aside from 1 Team Flare Grunt and Xerosic, which should be staples in the deck either way. By having Crushing Hammers they would make the Dark matchups a lot better. They're great basically against anything because denying the opponent from attacking while under item lock can be stressful.

Rescue Scarf:

Bob did run both Karen and Super Rod, which is probably why he didn't care for Rescue Scarf. The added damage Bursting Balloon provides was most likely needed to hit those extra numbers, especially against Darkrai decks where you definitely need Bursting Balloon to go off to have a chance against them.

Weakness Policy:

Darkrai had a solid showing at Daytona Regionals. Bob only ran 1 copy of Team Flare Grunt as his source of Basic Energy removal. Dark decks would surely scare me if I weren't running Weakness Policy. Bob only played against 2 Dark decks out of 17 rounds. He actually beat both, which is crazy to think about by looking at Bob's list. He did play three copies of Bursting Balloon as I mentioned, which had to make a huge difference in the matchup. Still, I would not have guessed that he took both of them down.

Float Stone:

By adding Float Stones, it'll make for easier turn one Trevenant's should you not open with Phantump. If for some reason you don't have the energy attachment to retreat, then it's likely that you possibly have the Float Stone instead. Either way, you have to have Dimension Valley should you not open with Phantump to get the turn one Trevenant and item lock going.

Nest Ball:

Getting out multiple Phantump is key. Nest Ball allows this while having zero drawback.

Red Card:

Reducing your opponent's hand size down to 4 while item locking them will surely put them in a troublesome situation. Not to mention, Red Card in conjunction with Delinquent can be devastating for the opponent.

Top 5 Shining Legends Favorites

1. Zoroark-GX

Easily my top choice from the new Shining Legends set. Zoroark-GX has a lot going for it. Not only is it a Stage 1, but it has a phenomenal ability called Trade, which lets you discard a card from your hand to draw 2 cards. Right away, this card can be splashed into any deck simply for its ability alone. It doesn't stop there as Zoroark-GX's, Riotous Beating takes a Double Colorless Energy, making it more versatile. This means any deck using Double Colorless Energy can take advantage of Riotous Beating. While Riotous Beating only caps at 150 damage if you include Choice Band, it's still solid damage for a Stage 1 Double Colorless attacker. Now, its GX attack Trickster GX is more situational because it takes 2 Dark Energy. This attack would only really be used if you revolve your deck more on Zoroark-GX as the main attacker, instead of it being a tech. Four decks that can take advantage of Zoroark-GX while staying consistent and strong are:




Alolan Ninetales-GX

All these decks abuse Double Colorless Energy, which will make Zoroark-GX a great inclusion. Its Trade ability can help put Water Energy in the discard for Aqua Patch. At the same time, Trade can help dig for extra cards, while making you less immune to N.

2. Raichu-GX

Raichu-GX is second on my list because honestly, the Shining Legends set doesn't have too many relevant cards as it's a smaller set compared to what's coming in Crimson Invasion. Raichu-GX's attack Powerful Spark dittos that of Darkrai-EX's, Dark Pulse. This is because both attacks require a Double Colorless Energy to do 20 damage for each of their respective energy typing. However, Raichu-GX is a Stage 1 attacker while Darkrai-EX is a Basic. Because of this, Raichu-GX was given an extra attack, more specifically a GX attack. To fuel Powerful Spark you can play cards such as Max Elixir and the new Raikou, which I'll get into next. As far as Raichu-GX's, Thunder attack goes, it can do 190 damage with a Choice Band. Great for taking one hit KOs on most relevant EX and GXs. However, Thunder has recoil, which does 30 damage to Raichu-GX. Still, with a solid 210 hit points, using Thunder to take KOs will be well worth it in the long run. Now, its GX attack, Voltail GX does a solid 120 damage and paralyzes your opponent's active Pokémon. This GX attack doesn't seem all that great, although it does more base damage than Lapras-GX's GX attack, Ice Beam GX. With Acerola and Guzma being in every deck, it's hard to believe that Voltail GX will ever stick.

3. Raikou

This card mimics Yveltal's Oblivion Wing, where Booming Thunder does 30 damage just like Oblivion Wing. They have the exact same effect as well, except for a different energy type. Raikou grabs a Lightning Energy while Yveltal grabs a Darkness Energy. Both attacks take just a single Energy. Raikou can be combined with the new Raichu-GX I discussed above, which will likely be its strongest partner for now. I love when Pokémon creates new decks as their own archetype, where you can easily find combos that work well together. Booming Thunder can set up KOs, which is particularly useful since Raikou only gives up 1 prize should it be taken down. If you use Booming Thunder with a Choice Band, then doing 60 damage a pop while setting up more energy will be troublesome for your opponent. Raikou is overall a solid card, which will surely see play in decks that thrive on Lightning-based attackers.

4. Hoopa

Now, this card mimics Alolan Ninetales's ability, Luminous Barrier, which is the main focus of the card and also why it's on my list. However, Hoopa is a Basic, Dark-type unlike Alolan Ninetales, which is a stage 1, Water-type. Some other small differences are that Hoopa has 10 more hit points than Alolan Ninetales but one more retreat cost. They do have a similar attack though. Hoopa's attack, Super Psy Bolt, has an 80 base attack and takes a Dark and a Double Colorless Energy. In Alolan Ninetales's case, a Water and Double Colorless Energy do the exact same damage. I've been a fan of Alolan Ninetales for some time now, strictly for its ability, so I wouldn't be surprised to play Hoopa myself in a deck in the near future. You can even power Hoopa up in a single turn because all you need is a Max Elixir and a Double Colorless Energy. However, I'm unsure of what deck you would even play Hoopa in. Maybe it would be useful in conjunction with Zoroark-GX or something along those lines that use both Dark and Double Colorless Energy. More and more decks are starting to rely on GX Pokémon because every new set has been based on GXs, otherwise why print Alolan Ninetales and Hoopa? Eventually, Hoopa will have its place in the meta as it starts to shift as Alolan Ninetales does now.

5. Shining Mew

When I first saw this card, I thought it wasn't that great. This is because I clumsily thought Shining Mew's first attack, Legendary Guidance, only counted Basic Energy. However, after reading it again I realized the card says "Energy cards." For a single Psychic Energy, Shining Mew can attach 2 Energy cards from your deck to any of your Pokémon in any way that you like. This means you can attach Special Energy, such as Rainbow Energy, and Double Colorless Energy. Using Legendary Guidance on your first turn can assist with setting up multiple attackers, which is why Mew may see some play. However, Mew in general, does have a couple downsides to it. First off, Mew only has a measly 30 hit points, which can be KOed by pretty much anything. Secondly, Shining Mew's attack Legendary Guidance specifically has a Psychic Energy cost. This downside may not be too bad since you're likely going to be playing Rainbow or Psychic Energy anyway. However, one upside Shining Mew has that's not involving its attack is that Shining Mew has a free retreat cost, which makes it flexible when opening with it. Shining Mew is the most expensive Shining from the set. If you pull it, and you are not likely to use it anytime soon, I would recommend getting rid of it as soon as possible before its price drops.

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on the finalist decks of the Daytona Regional Championships, and my top 5 Shining Legends favorites. Ryan's deck will definitely see a huge increase in play after his Daytona win. The deck is super consistent, and the fact that it has many options will keep the deck on the radar. Not to mention the fact that Azul also piloted the exact same list to a Top 4 finish.

Although Trevenant BREAK took second place, I still feel that it won't see much play after Bob's crazy run with the deck. Honestly, a lot of players refuse to pilot Trevenant BREAK. It takes a lot of patience and players just hate the deck in general because of how fragile it can be. However, it can still be a force to be reckoned with if you don't prepare for it. Maybe we will see players adding Giratina back into their decks to help combat Trevenant BREAK. Personally, I wouldn't bother teching for it unless you know for sure there will be a decent amount played, and only if the tournament you're attending is small compared to a Regional. Out of all the Shining Legends cards, Zoroark-GX will easily be the most played card for good reasons, which I've discussed above, so pick up your playset before they jump further up in price.

If you want to help support my team, be sure to check out Team ARG's Pokémon page on Facebook: "Team ARG Pokémon-TCG." There you can keep up to date with all the players on the team and we recently added three new players. My Twitter handle is down below if you want to follow me.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook. I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As always, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, don't hesitate to give me ideas down below, and I'll consider them. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!

-Twitter @Jose_MarreroTCG

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