Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Broken Deck: The Secret Before London

Zach goes through the secret deck heading into London! This article is a must-read!

11/14/2017 by Zach Lesage

This article brought to you by The best place to get your Pokémon singles!


I Got the Ghaz’

Hey 60Cards readers, what have you been testing for London? Is it the best deck in format? Is it busted? Is it broken? Busted… Broken… Broken? Busted?… If those words sound familiar, you most likely have come across a Seena Ghaziaskar private message! Now before I get started with this article, I want to explain why this article is relevant and how this article has the possibility to seriously change the outcome of London Internationals. It all starts with a fantastic deck builder and player, Seena Ghaziaskar, messaging many top players spreading a secret deck that is pure gas. Secret decks have always been part of the game since the beginning of competitive play, but it is rare for them to have such a unified checkmark from some of the best players in the game. This article will go through the story of Ghaziaskar at Internationals, discuss the state of secret decks in the game, and go through the actual secret deck for the tournament. Before we get too far along in this game-breaking story, let’s show some credibility to Ghaziaskar.

Seena Ghaziaskar

Age: 28

Hometown: Columbus, OH

Years Active: 2001-2009, 2017

Notable Accomplishments:

1st Place US Nationals 2005

Top 4 Place US Nationals 2006

Top 16 Place US Nationals 2009

1st Place Origins Special Event 2017

1st Place Regional Championships 2005

1st Place Regional Championships 2006

Top 8 Place Regional Championships 2017

As you are reading, your jaw may have dropped while wondering how a player could have so many strong accomplishments in the game over a long period of time. Well, you would be correct to think that Ghaziaskar is one of the greatest players to have ever played this game. You may also want to know that he is currently banned for an indefinite amount of time. That being said, I do know what happened and I would like to share his story with you. Whether you believe Ghaziaskar has been properly punished with his ban or that you think he should be allowed to play Pokemon at some point in the future, he has built the deck that most top players are considering for London.

The Story

This story is based on what I have observed in person, from what Ghaziaskar has told me, and from other credible sources who have explained this story. This story does not represent my beliefs as a player nor does it represent the beliefs of 60Cards. This portion of the article is merely a representation of Ghaziaskar’s story for those who have yet to hear it or for those who have forgotten about it over time. 

As Ghaziaskar was happily sitting at table one during the 2017 North American International Championships, you can tell that he has achieved something dear to him. He had just obtained his invite to play in the 2017 World Championships. Now, to a player of Ghaziaskar’s caliber, a World Championship invite normally wouldn’t mean much, but it is notable to add that he has taken many years off from playing competitively. No matter if he wins out, ties out, or loses out, he will have enough Match Points to place within an amount of Championship Points to make it to Worlds! Or so he thought. As he was setting up to play his opponent, judges quickly crowd over him and ask to perform a deck check. Like any player in any tournament, Ghaziaskar quickly felt his heart sink… 

Now this is not to incriminate anyone, but I personally believe that every player has fears when getting deck checked - similar to getting pulled over my a police officer, we always fear for the worst. Did he write out his deck list properly? Was he missing a card? Did he some how gain an extra card? How were his sleeves looking? He had just sleeved up in brand new Dragon Shields that morning… Clear Dragon Shields… 

… And like that, Ghaziaskar was out of contention for the 2017 North American International Championships and had lost his invite to the World Championships. Ghaziaskar was promptly disqualified based on the judges stance on his use of clear sleeves. As most players should know, Pokemon cards get damaged by playing them and will have slight edge wear from playing in tournaments. Furthermore, there is a possibility of using the differentiation between wear on cards to gain an unfair advantage. That being said, Ghaziaskar has apologized for his ignorance by playing clear sleeves. He has stated that it was a careless decision, but he doesn’t believe that he gained an unfair advantage. Nonetheless, as stated earlier in the article, he is banned for an indefinite amount of time based on the beliefs of TPCI.

This is where the story and the reign on Ghaziaskar should end right? Nope, not at all, he still plays the game… online, on PTCGO. Despite being banned, Ghaziaskar continues to play test for reasons that many people can only speculate on. Maybe its based on his competitive pride? Maybe its based on his yearning to help other players? Maybe he just wants a chance in the lime light again? Whatever the cause may be, he has created ‘the play’ for London; the deck that most top players are considering for the tournament. 

Ideology of Secret Decks

Do you know what the deck is? That is, you may not even understand what players are hinting about. Well, if you aren’t able to field through cryptic inside-jokes between top players, you wouldn’t be able to know. As much as the consensus between top players is that Ghaziaskar leaked the deck to too many of us, the general player base has no clue on what this deck is. Here is an example of an inside joke made by my friend and fellow Pro Play Games teammate Daniel Altavilla in a Facebook Group:

This is not to take a stab at top level player or to showcase any particular player who has kept the secrecy of this deck. It is a mere look into the secrecy of the game at this particular point heading into one of the most important tournaments of the year. I do believe though that sharing the deck list and my thoughts about this secret deck should be useful to everyone going to London. It will take away the level of secrecy and possibly change the outcome of the tournament entirely.

Here is the deck:

Broken Deck

If you notice anything different about this list, you would be correct. It doesn’t play the standard Sylveon-GX line and it also plays four Max Potion. This sways how the deck is played when compared to other Gardevoir-GX decks in the format. I will explain all of the differences between this deck and standard Gardevoir-GX lists below in the Card Analysis section. I will be omitting a match-up section due to Gardevoir-GX being a prevalent force and well covered concept online.

Card Analysis

Going through this deck, there are cards such as Professor Sycamore and N that are mainstays in almost every competitive deck list in the format. I will be omitting them from this section to avoid any amounts of repetitive or useless information in this article.

Three Gardevoir-GX

This count in the deck has been viewed as ideal since the inception of Gardevoir-GX and I don’t view that as game changing. Secret Spring is a strong Ability because it follows my personal rule, if it breaks a rule of the game, it is most likely good. That being said, Gardevoir-GX breaks the rule of attaching a single energy per turn and allows you to promptly attach another Fairy Energy. Notably, Secret Spring is a stackable Ability, meaning that you can use multiple Gardevoir-GX to attach multiple extra energy per turn. Secret Spring alone is enough to make Gardevoir-GX a viable card in the current meta game, but we have to continue to look at what else the card has to offer. Looking further, Infinite Force is an attack that reads as its name describes, it can forcefully hit for an infinite amount. Gardevoir-GX can be an absolute beast when it has enough energy attached and can actually Knock Out any threat. Let’s check out how it can Knock Out some of the most popular Pokemon heading into London:

Shining Mew 30 HP = one energy needed (with or without them have having an energy)

Zorua 60 HP = two energy needed (assuming they haven’t attached an energy)

Frogadier 70 HP = two energy needed (assuming they used Water Duplicates)

Garbodor 120 HP = three energy needed (assuming they used Trashalanche)

Drampa-GX 180 HP = two or three energy needed (assuming they used Berserk and depending on whether you have access to a Choice Band)

Buzzwole-GX 190 hp = three or four energy (assuming they used Absorption GX and depending on whether you have access to a Choice Band)

There are obviously countless other Pokemon available in the format to Knock Out, but these are some of the most common Pokemon and they all have different amount of HP. The best kept secret about Ghaziaskar’s list is that the deck focuses on using Twilight GX to run your opponent out of resources while providing chip damage from Infinite Force. The goal is to follow this finite loop in the game to tire out your opponent’s resources:

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your first Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your second Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your third Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your fourth Max Potion to heal damage.

Now it is completely understandable that you may not have access to all of your Max Potion each game, and that is completely fine. You just need to take away one of those steps. However, if you thought the finite loop has completed, you would be quite wrong! You can use Twilight GX to repeat this strategy again:

Use Twilight GX to recover multiple copies of Max Potion, Professor Sycamore, and other cards you believe you need for the rest of the game.

Use your fifth Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your sixth Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your seventh Max Potion to heal damage.

Attack with Infinite Force with limited energy attached.

Use your eighth Max Potion to heal damage.

So looking at this rinse and repeat strategy, you should be able to have more resources to attack and recover than your opponent. If you are wondering how to get all of your Max Potion in play before starting this cycle, you can use Oranguru’s Instruct in combination with Gallade’s Premonition to gather the proper cards you need.

One Gallade

As stated above, Gallade is going to be used as your way to draw cards that you need when you need them. Alternatively, Sensitive Blade can be used to provide chip damage versus Pokemon with a large amount of HP or it can be used to OHKO a Drampa-GX! It is quite often tough to set up two Gardevoir-GX and a Gallade due to evolution logistics and board state management, but it is possible with the support surrounding the deck.

Three Kirlia and Four Ralts

While Ghaziaskar hasn’t gone into the full details of which Kirlia and Ralts he prefers, I feel like I can step in here to add in some valuable insight. If you look at my list, I decided that the Fairy Kirlia is the better option because it doesn’t have a targeted Weakness of Psychic. Now, you may be wondering why I would put all of my eggs in the Metal Weakness basket, and it is as simple as Metal is going to hurt Gardevoir-GX the same as a Kirlia. That may not read as convincing as it sounds in my head, but it adds a strong opinion to the deck. If you had the Psychic type Kirlia, it is possible to make your Garbodor matchup worse while your Metagross-GX matchup would stay the same. I play the “Mumble” Fairy Ralts for similar reasons, but it is more for the additional damage. It isn’t news that the ‘Draining Kiss’ Fairy Ralts is the most popular, but how does the additional healing provide anything positive to the deck? Quite frankly, Ralts has a low amount of HP no matter what you do to it so I enjoy the extra damage possibility from Magical Shot. Magical Shot can potentially attack an EX/GX Pokemon for 50 damage with the addition of Choice Band and that extra 10 damage may end up being the game winning move. However, don’t let my pipe dream of a play let you believe that attacking with either Kirlia or Ralts is going to take precedence over the main strategy of the deck. 

Two Alolan Vulpix

This card was once a staple in Gardevoir-GX decks, was taken out for the now popular Sylveon-GX line in most lists, and it has made its return in Ghaziaskar’s list. I am not sure why players have given up on this card so quickly. Using Beacon to search out any two Pokemon in your deck is a great attack - and it’s only better knowing it costs zero energy to use. When I went to Daytona Regionals earlier this year, I stayed with my testing partner and fellow Pro Play Games teammate Hunter Butler and he showed me other strengths of this card. It is actually possible to use Icy Snow with a Choice Band to hit a Pokemon with a Water-type Weakness for 100 damage. Most of the time, Fire Pokemon are easier to Knock Out with a Gardevoir-GX, but I did want to let everyone know that this move is possible.

One Oranguru

Whether you're using Instruct to draw a few cards at various points during a game, or drawing right after your opponent plays N to limit your hand, Oranguru is going to be your go-to Pokemon for draw support! Psychic is also a fairly efficient attack on a single-prize card Pokemon that does some decent damage, especially in mirror matches. In this deck, Oranguru can be used to gather Max Potions after using Gardevoir-GX’s Twilight GX attack. If you think that this idea isn’t going to work, think again! If you use Twilight GX after playing all cards that are useless to your late-game strategy, you will have the ability to draw into the cards you specifically want. This is even more compelling in combination with Gallade’s Premonition Ability which really allows you to secure the cards you want, when you want them.

One Parallel City

You may be wondering where Ghaziaskar’s Sylveon-GX is with the inclusion of Parallel City in this list, and that is why he is considering adding it in! I personally try to have a Stadium card in most of my lists, and in the current Standard format, Parallel City seems to be fairly strong on both sides, depending on your situation. You can limit your opponent’s side of the field to only three Benched Pokemon, which can completely stop them in their tracks when it comes to playing down Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX or other important attacking Pokemon. You can also use the other side of Parallel City to reduce damage taken by popular Pokemon in the metagame right now such as Greninja, Volcanion, and Golisopod-GX! The true last use of Parallel City is to reduce your own bench, freeing it of weaker two-prize Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX or damaged Gardevoir-GX.

Four Max Potion

Ghaziaskar’s main strategy in the deck! Since I have outlined the play a few times throughout the article, I don’t need to go into too much detail regarding Max Potion being warranted in the deck. However, Max Potion can have other uses besides repeating its use in combination with Twilight GX. Max Potion can be used versus spread damage to null their effects at the source. I’m certain that if you have been a Gardevoir-GX player for a while, you must have fallen victim to the dreaded Espeon-EX and Po Town strategy. Rest assured, you can promptly heal your evolved Pokemon to avoid Miraculous Shine taking multiple Prize Cards at once.

Four Rare Candy

We need a way to get Gardevoir-GX and Gallade up and running very quickly and Rare Candy is currently the best way to accomplish this! With the deck being based around Brigette and Alolan Vulpix, we can quite often get a few Gardevoir-GX set up on the second turn! Ghaziaskar wanted to maximize his deck between being quick and being consistent so he included three Kirlia and four Rare Candy in his list. 

Three Field Blower

This card is really our answer to Garbodor’s Garbotoxin shutting off our Secret Spring mid-game, lowering our damage output. With the high chance of playing mirror matches at London, Ghaziaskar has decided to include a third Field Blower to take care of opposing Choice Bands. Field Blower can also be used to get rid of pesky cards such as an opposing Parallel City, a Po Town, or even Pokemon Tools such as Float Stone. 

Two Super Rod

With this deck having a focused approach with Max Potion, you will often have more Fairy Energy in your Discard Pile than most other Gardevoir-GX. That being said, Max Potion and Super Rod go hand-in-hand to make sure that you always have a supply of Fairy Energy to use with Secret Spring to bounce back into games. Furthermore, with Twilight GX being a pivotal strategy in this deck, you can retrieve Super Rod to continue the strategy of reusing Max Potions.

Two Choice Band

This card is as simple as dealing an extra 30 damage to EX/GX Pokemon. Infinite Force's damage is partially dependent on the number of energy your opponent attaches, it is often helpful to slap on a Choice Band to do an extra 30 damage out of nowhere. This trick can either turn otherwise unavailable Knock Outs into OHKOs, or lessen the amount of energy a Gardevoir-GX needs to get a KO, freeing up energy that can then be attached to your other Pokemon. The most interesting fact about this card is that it won’t get discarded when you use Max Potion to heal your Gardevoir-GX. 

Possible Card Changes

As with almost any deck, players will often go through thought processes to make changes on what can make a deck better. Ghaziaskar said he has been tweaking the list with players including, but not limited to Daniel Altavilla, Benjamin Pham, Michael Pramawat and a few others. That being said, this conglomerate of a solid testing team should have the list to an ideal state and the list may or may not utilize the following additions that Ghaziaskar is still testing for the list. 


This card is used as an answer to one of Gardevoir-GX’s toughest matchups: Greninja BREAK! Giratina is able to shut off their Giant Water Shrunken with Devour Light and can slow the Greninja player to a halt as just a single-card inclusion in the list. Ghaziaskar hasn’t fully explained where the cut would come from, but thats where I feel I can add my professional opinion. I think that possible cuttable cards from the deck include one Rare Candy, one Kirlia, one Max Potion, and one Field Blower. That being said, most of these cards make the deck more consistent and we have no way to predict the amount of Greninja BREAK decks that are expected to show up at London. If you do have a hunch that Greninja will be there to ruin your day, I think this is a fine inclusion in the list.

Counter Catcher

As a player who always enjoys trying out new cards, I think this card may eventually make it into the list. With the strategy of doing chip damage with Infinite Force and using Max Potion to heal, it is quite possible to give up a Prize Card or two in the process. This is the perfect reason to include a card such as Counter Catcher, which punishes your opponent for being greedy with drawing Prize Cards against you. Furthermore, you can always shuffle this card back into your deck with Twilight GX to maximize its usage throughout a game.

One Sylveon-GX and One Eevee

I think this inclusion is most likely the inclusion that will not be included in the final London list and for good reason - it takes up too much space! The deck already performs at an incredibly consistent rate, so why would we want to add this into the list? If your thoughts immediately went to Plea GX, I think that thought should specifically make this addition a bad idea for the deck. As much as I enjoy the Plea GX play with a Parallel City, this deck focuses on using Twilight GX to recycle Max Potion back into the deck. I would caution against using this card in this list.

Overall, these are the cards that Ghaziaskar personally messaged me as possible changes to his list. They were not in the list as of this writing and they may not make it into the finalized lists of players going to London. However, I wanted to make sure they were noted to allow for full transparency going into London. Speaking about London, I am flying there tomorrow, as of this writing, to compete later this week in the International Championships.

Across The Pond

Well, as I finish writing this article the Monday before London, I can’t explain how exciting I am to have been able to deliver such an interesting piece before the big event. I would like to thank Seena Ghaziaskar for allowing me to write about his deck list for a major article website and I believe it proves that he has nothing to hide. I know he may not have the acceptance of the general playing public, but I do think we should continue to look for any and all resources when preparing for a tournament. I do wish Ghaziaskar the best as he continues to appeal his ban and I think we will see him playing the game sooner than later; at an actual tournament, that is.  

As for me, I haven’t fallen into the hype of Ghaziaskar’s list because I picked my deck out weeks ago. I am currently playing Golisopod-GX/Gumshoos-GX/Latios, akin to the list from my Hartford article here, and I don’t believe much can change my deck choice at this point. I am solely picking my deck based on my assumption that the majority of local players in London will continue to follow Tord Reklev in the ways of Drampa-GX/Garbodor. That being said, I am very comfortable in that matchup along with most of the matchups I expect to face heading into London. Either way, feel free to follow me on my Twitter: zlesage_pokemon to see if there are any changes to my lists. I am personally excited to see the results of the London International Championships and hopefully I will continue to ride the wave on top of the competitive spectrum. I wish everyone the best of luck who is living out their dream trying to compete for a World Championship invite or for those who are loving and supporting the game from a casual standpoint.

I will see everyone at the 2017 European International Championships, if you haven’t met me in person or if we have just briefly met, feel free to actually introduce yourself to me because I love knowing everybody. Thank you for all of the support, I truly appreciate everyone who take the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60 Cards.

-Zach Lesage

[+15] okko

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