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Zach Lesage

Return from Europe and Some Expanded Plays

Zach goes over his experience at the European International Championships in London and showcases some new decks in Expanded!

12/11/2017 by Zach Lesage

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Returning from London

Hey 60cards readers, I want to share my experience with you! I also would like to showcase some of the better decks in Expanded right now, because I feel Standard is being talked about heavily! I know that San Jose Regionals has come and gone, and the next Expanded Regionals isn't until Dallas in January, but Expanded is often not explored enough! With the release of Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends, I am sure there are plenty of decks worth discussing that might not see some play this weekend. With all of that being said, let me briefly go over my London experience, showcase the deck I played, and dive into a great Expanded deck.

My EUIC Report

After going back and forth with my friend, Dakota Gillanders, on if we were going to attend London, we opted to go for the first time! I had quite a bit to prove with my brother, Jay Lesage, being the runner-up in Masters last year. My goal was to squash his record to become Champion. I put in a lot of testing heading into this event, and ultimately found myself looking back at my Golisopod-GX/Gumshoos-GX deck from Hartford! I predicted most of London correctly; Tord Reklev won the event with Golisopod-GX, so I wasn’t too far off. Overall, I am fine with my results and can only grow as a player going forward. Here is how my tournament went:

Round One versus Zoroark-GX/Zoroark BREAK WW 1-0-0

Round Two versus Golisopod-GX/Garbodor /Garbodor  LWL 1-1-0

Round Three versus Greninja BREAK WW 2-1-0

Round Four versus Drampa-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor WW 3-1-0

Round Five versus Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX LL 3-2-0

Round Six versus Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX WLW 4-2-0

Round Seven versus Drampa-GX/Garbodor/Garbodor WW 5-2-0

Round Eight versus Greninja BREAK WW 6-2-0

Round Nine versus Silvally-GX/Zoroark-GX LWL 6-3-0

Similarly to Daytona Regionals, I lost my win-and-in and placed 81st. This was an especially hard loss, because I lost my game on stream for thousands of viewers to watch. There were a few factors for some minor misplays in my game and sleep deprivation likely was the cause. My goal as a competitive player moving forward is to treat tournaments more seriously, and that can mean making some sacrifices. I can often look back at the people who I roomed with in Daytona and can take some notes from that. Specifically, my teammate Phinnegan Lynch decided to go to sleep the night before Daytona early while the rest of us partied until the wee hours of the morning. If I ended up sleeping at all the night before London, I believe that the level of my play would have been higher, and perhaps I would have won my last game. At the end of the day, it is beneficial to take an objective glance in hindsight to see exactly how you can grow as a player.

For those who are curious to see how my deck looked like going into the event, this is the list that I played:

Golisopod-GX/Gumshoos-GX Deck (Standard)

Similar to article that I posted before London, I stayed true to my word and ran an almost exact decklist. After taking with Xander Pero when testing the day before the event, I decided to cut my second Latios and add in a seventh Grass Energy for the main event. This was to gain some more energy-rich hands during my games, something I had been struggling with in testing. Looking over the Gumshoos-GX, these are the reasons:

Gumshoos-GX  210 HP (C)

Gumshoos-GX is a bulky Stage One Pokemon due to it's decent HP that can withstand a few blows from most opposing Pokemon. It doesn’t have much of a type advantage, but that doesn’t matter for its uses in this deck.

Ability: Search the Premises

Once during your turn (before your attack), you may have your opponent reveal their hand.

While this ability doesn’t sound like much, you can use it to look through your opponent’s hand whenever you like. Does that not sound busted? Ok, level with me here for a moment while I explain how this can quickly become game altering. You have a Professor Sycamore and N in your hand; your opponent may or may not have the win next turn. Without using Search the Premises, your opponent actually does have game in hand. If you play Professor Sycamore, you will lose. That being said, you need to rely on your player instinct and reading your opponent - unless you can use Search the Premises to solve your question immediately. As a competitive player, I would like to think that I have a strong intuition when it comes to guessing what my opponent might have in their hand, but I am merely human and can make mistakes. Gumshoos-GX in testing has saved me from making massive misplays when properly planning my turns, and that has improved my win-loss ratio. While the Ability is only transparent information, do not take an Ability like this for granted, it can often win you more games than you think.

(C) (C) (C) Headbutt Bounce 100

A vanilla attack, but a somewhat useful attack with a little bit of math behind it. Based on my above list, I can use Tapu Koko’s Flying Flip to hit a Tapu Lele-GX for 20 damage, attach a Choice Band to Gumshoos-GX, play a Professor Kukui to hit for a total of 170 damage. While situations such as this are often overshadowed by the sheer power of Golisopod-GX’s First Impression, every game is not the same. For example, what if you have an excessive amount of Golisopod-GX prized and you need to draw them very quickly to win the game, maybe it’s time to look outside of the box. In all of my years playing the game, I can say that I have won a few games by using lesser-used attacks in my decks, games that I otherwise would have lost. Whether or not you are providing chip damage for a large KO or have an elaborate plan to KO the correct Pokemon, different attacks can accomplish that task.

(C) Gumshoe Chance GX 10+

This attack does 50 damage times the amount of Energy attached to your opponent’s Active Pokemon. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

Ok here is where the card gets interesting, and it is the main reason why I play this card in the deck. I want to go over some quick Gumshoe math that can make all of the difference when playing a game:

zero energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 0) = 10 damage

one energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 1) = 60 damage

two energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 2) = 110 damage

three energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 3) = 160 damage

four energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 4) = 210 damage

five energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 5) = 260 damage

six energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 6) = 310 damage

seven energy = 10 base damage + (50 x 7) = 360 damage

While zero, one, and two energy will have have a hard time to Knock Out anything, three energy on the Defending Pokemon is where the card can start stretching for some large Knock Outs. 160 damage + a Choice Band is 190 and the math can quickly add up when factoring in Professor Kukui or previous damage from a Latios or Tapu Koko. 190 damage is enough to KO popular Pokemon such as Tapu Lele-GX, Buzzwole-GX, and Drampa-GX. Looking at the next notch up, at four energy, it is quite possible to OHKO a Gardevoir-GX with a Choice Band, doing 240 damage in total. Gumshoos-GX, in this deck, is meant to make opposing Gardevoir-GX players make decisions on when they want to attach their energy to Gardevoir-GX. On average, it will take five energy and a Choice Band to Knock Out a Golisopod-GX that just used First Impression, which means Gumshoe Chance GX can OHKO them back for a single energy. Anything past four energy is usually a confirmed Knock Out; Pokemon just don’t have that much HP!

Weakness: (F)x2 

Resistance: N/A 

Retreat Cost: (C) (C)

The Weakness is quite a bit unfortunate because Zoroark-GX will eventually get hated on by Buzzwole-GX, but it is fine for the moment. Gumshoos-GX also has a fairly heavy Retreat Cost so make sure to keep a Guzma in hand for this one (or at least a Float Stone)

Unfortunately for me, my idea of playing Gumshoos-GX felt outdated all day, because I ran into very few circumstances on where it was useful in games during the event. I did face a single Gardevoir-GX deck, but my Gumshoos-GX was quickly played around by them using Gallade against me due to its type advantage. Going forward, I am planning to drop the Gumshoos-GX to follow suit with this list right here:

Golisopod-GX/Octillery Deck (Standard)

Looking through the deck, this deck is nearly identical as the Golisopod-GX/Gumshoos-GX deck that I played in London, except it doesn’t play Gumshoos-GX! I think going forward, the additional support of the larger Octillery line will allow the deck to become more consistent. You may be wondering if Octillery is better than Zoroark-GX and the answer is a hard maybe! I think the answer is decided on the playability of Buzzwole-GX moving forward due to the higher chance a Zorua has of being OHKOd! The point is mostly moot; the difference between OHKOing a Remoraid and Zorua is a Strong Energy, but at least it is something extra to keep you safe! Overall, I would recommend trying this list at League Cups. However, if your League Cups in your area are not Standard format, let’s look at some of the cards from Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends to see what was added into the Expanded card-pool:

Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends in Expanded

I have already gone through some of these Pokemon in depth in this article, so here is the list of Pokemon that should see some play in Expanded (at least eventually):

Pokemon

Buzzwole-GX CIV

Celesteela-GX PR

Chimecho CIV

Gourgeist CIV

Guzzlord-GX

Hoopa CIV

Kartana-GX CIV

Latios SHL

Magikarp CIV

Pheromosa-GX PR

Shining Jirachi SHL

Shining Mew SHL

Shining Rayquaza SHL

Silvally-GX SHL

Spiritomb SHL

Stunfisk SHL

Xurkitree-GX PR

Zoroark-GX SHL

Trainers

Counter Catcher CIV

Damage Mover SHL

Fighting Memory CIV

Gladion CIV

Peeking Red Card CIV

Psychic Memory CIV

Energy

Counter Energy CIV

Warp Energy SHL

Those are the cards that have the most potential to see some play in upcoming Expanded tournaments. All of these cards are the best cards from the sets and could end up being part of an older deck or a new archetype going forward. I think Zoroark-GX will be the best of them all, so let’s check out my Expanded Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk deck list:

Zoroark-GX/Alolan Muk Deck (Expanded)

This deck functions very similar to a M Rayquaza-EX deck, you want to load up your Bench and start swinging for some large numbers. I go through individual strategies throughout the whole card explanations section, so I do not include a match-up section. If you read through each card explanation fully, you will quickly be able to learn what attacks are beneficial versus most decks and what attacks are more specialized in certain match-ups. I find most match-up sections to be inaccurate or biased because not many players put in the effort to test the match-ups enough to find proper play through data.

Card Explanations

I will go over cards in the deck list to explain how they should work in a real-life setting! Not all cards are included, such as Brigette, because it is literally included in every competitive deck!

Four Zoroark-GX

The main attacker of this deck and the consistency backbone of this deck; two for one! I think this card is quite important going forward so let’s check out this card in a little bit more detail:

Zoroark-GX 210 HP (D)

Zoroark-GX is a bulky Stage One Pokemon due to it's medium-high HP that can withstand a few blows from most opposing Pokemon. It does have a decent type advantage against some Psychic (Ghost)-type Pokemon such as Trevenant BREAK, so it can be slightly useful there.

Ability: Trade

Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard a card from your hand. If you do, draw 2 cards.

Trade makes this card splash-able in almost any deck that can warrant the space. In Expanded, we double up on the use by discarding Supporters or Darkrai-GX to get back later on in the game. You often don’t need to worry about searching for whatever you need during a game because you can use up to four Trade per turn.

(C) (C) Riotous Beating 20x

This attack does 20 damage for each of your Pokemon in play.

In this deck, this is the attack that we will be using for the most of the game. Riotous Beating, in Standard, is a mediocre attack that caps at 150 damage (not including Weakness); in Expanded, Riotous Beating can cap at 210 damage due to Sky Field. The change of 60 damage makes this card a viable standalone attacker and it can Knock Out quite a few powerful Pokemon. Let’s see how it’s damage adds up:

One Pokemon in Play = 20 x 1 = 20 damage

Two Pokemon in Play = 20 x 2 = 40 damage

Three Pokemon in Play = 20 x 3 = 60 damage

Four Pokemon in Play = 20 x 4 = 80 damage

Five Pokemon in Play = 20 x 5 = 100 damage

Six Pokemon in Play = 20 x 6 = 120 damage

Seven Pokemon in Play = 20 x 7 = 140 damage

Eight Pokemon in Play = 20 x 8 = 160 damage

Nine Pokemon in Play = 20 x 9 = 180 damage

That being said, with Nine Pokemon in play, it is possible to Knock Out Tapu Lele-GX, Darkrai-EX, Darkrai-GX, and Necrozma-GX. With the addition of Choice Band, Riotous Beating can OHKO opposing Golisopod-GX and Zoroark-GX! 

(D) (D) Trickster GX

Choose 1 of your opponent’s Pokemon’s attacks and use it as this attack. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

While we can’t use this attack in this current iteration of the deck, it is notable to add that this attack is also quite strong. Having the option to use some of the following attack can be quite useful:

Drampa-GX’s Berserk for 180 damage with a Choice Band

Golisopod-GX’s Crossing Cut GX for 180 damage with a Choice Band

Ho-Oh-GX’s Phoenix Burn for 180 damage

Tapu Fini-GX’s Tapu Storm GX to remove a huge threat

Garbodor GRI’s Trashalanche attack to punish your opponent for playing Item cards

Gardevoir-GX’s Infinite Force to attack a Pokemon with a large amount of Energy

Greninja’s Shadow Stitching attack to block their Abilities for a turn 

Turtanator-GX’s Bright Flame for 190 damage with a Choice Band

Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine to Devolve all of your opponent’s Pokemon in play

Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX to damage all your opponent’s EX and GX Pokemon for 100 damage each

Overall, I am sure you will find an attack that you can use to great effect (if we decide to add Darkness Energy into this list).

Weakness: (F) x2 

Resistance: (P) -20

Retreat Cost: (C) (C)

The Weakness is quite a bit unfortunate because this card will eventually get hated on by Buzzwole-GX, but it is fine for the moment. The Resistance is fairly strong in Expanded with Garbodor GRI being a mainstay in that format. Zoroark-GX also has a fairly heavy Retreat Cost so make sure to keep one of your Zoroark BKT ready to switch out Zoroark-GX.

Overall, Zoroark-GX brings strong functionality to the deck in a small package, but it certainly will make a big splash in Expanded!

One Zoroark BKT

With there being plenty of playable Zoroark in format, this card seems like a no brainer to throw into the deck. Zoroark’s Stand In Ability can get us out of some sticky situations, and we can use Mind Jack to try and bait our opponent into drawing a single Prize Card. 

One Zoroark BW

Similarly to Zoroark BKT, this card can easily bait our opponent into drawing a single Prize Card too. This Zoroark has a fantastic attack, in the form of Foul Play, that can allow us to copy one of the Defending Pokemon’s attacks and use it as this attack. If you look at the list of Pokemon that I included for Zoroark-GX’s Trickster GX attack, this attack can copy all of those (and without using a GX attack).

Four Zorua

In Expanded, we can play the Zorua with Paralyzing Gaze, this adds another element to the deck. With this Zorua in our arsenal, we have the potential to save games if we are running behind! 

One Alolan Muk and One Alolan Grimer

Similarly to Garbodor BKP’s Garbotoxin Ability, Alolan Muk’s Power of Alchemy Ability can shut of Abilities from Basic Pokemon only. I like this card to shut down opposing Sudowoodo, but with any Ability-locking Pokemon, there are always more situations than what meet the eye.

One Darkrai-GX

I like this card in theory because it functions the same way that M Rayquaza-EX did at Worlds 2017! I always imagine a situation where my opponent drops a Sudowoodo out of nowhere and halves my damage output, but if i can take care of the Sudowoodo, I can seamlessly retrieve Darkrai-GX back from my discard pile. I may want to replace this with an Exeggcute, but I am not sure I want a low HP liability in the deck.

One Dragonite-EX

I refer to M Rayquaza-EX here again, because both decks run fairly similarly! I like having the option to gather Pokemon back from the discard pile because the amount of Benched Pokemon we have in play will often get countered. Dragonite-EX helps alleviate some of that stress and allows us to comfortably have a few Pokemon discarded throughout the game. 

One Sudowoodo

Whenever I play a deck that has Sky Field, I play this card to limit my opponent’s Benched Pokemon, so they do not get the same benefit that I do when I play Sky Field. This card will be especially helpful against Turbo Darkrai-EX, M Rayquaza-EX, and the mirror match to say the least. Most decks need a full Bench to have a sound strategy, and Zoroark-GX takes that to a whole other level, this card addresses that nicely.

One Oricorio

This card can effectively improve our Night March match-up! I know that there are some great Night March players such as Michael Pramawat who will disagree with me, but he is not the vast population of Night March players. Either way, between Dragonite-EX and Rescue Stretcher, this card can come back into play a few times to at least put a decent dent in their strategy.

One Computer Search

I view this as the best ACE SPEC, because you can have a dead starting hand and this card can save you; no other ACE SPEC can do that. With no other ACE SPEC having major synergy with this deck, besides Dowsing Machine, Computer Search is our best option.

Four Sky Field

This is the missing piece in Standard and the reason why this deck can function as a standalone deck in Expanded! Beyond having great synergy with Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating, Sky Field pairs up with Colress nicely too.

One Colress

In combination with Sky Field, this card has the potential to draw upwards of sixteen cards! I guess you can say we will be using this card a few times per game with VS Seeker!

One Mallow

Another card that has synergy with Zoroark-GX, see the pattern here? Mallow allows us to search our deck for any two cards and put them back on top in any order and Zoroark-GX’s Trade allows us to draw two cards. If you put these two thoughts together, we will be searching for any two cards that we need every turn with the assistance of VS Seeker!

Two Special Charge

With this deck playing only four Double Colorless Energy, I really wanted to have a way to get them back. While two copies of Special Charge may seem high, I often get weary of destructive cards such as Zoroark-GX and Professor Juniper, sometimes forcing players to discard cards they would rather hold onto.

Two Field Blower

With us having a very important Ability in the form of Trade, we want to make sure we able to use that Ability whenever we like. With Garbodor BKP being played in the popular Garbodor Toolbox deck, we do need to have an out to Garbotoxin. Luckily for us, we can make strong use of Field Blower if we don’t see a Garbodor BKP; there are more Pokemon Tools and Stadiums in Expanded than Standard!

Farewell Until Dallas

As for me, I will be taking a minor break from major competitive tournaments to focus on coaching players, writing articles, and most importantly relaxing. It can get very tiresome playing at the top of the game or even learning the ropes as a newer player; sometimes you just need to pause your Pokemon life to regroup. Now this is not to say that I don't want to be playing the game right now, I wish I could; I just have other priorities that I need to focus on.

Either way, feel free to follow me on my Twitter: zlesage_pokemon to see if there are any changes to my lists. I am excited to see the results of the upcoming Memphis Regionals, 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 Dallas Regionals in January. 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 takes the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60cards.

- Zach Lesage

[+16] okko


 

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