Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Floating Thoughts Before Toronto

Zach goes over a handful of important topics before Toronto and includes two lists after the paywalls

03/11/2020 by Zach Lesage


Hey everyone, it’s me Zach, and I wanted to let you know what’s on my mind before Toronto! I’m not planning on a certain length of words for this article, but I will cover my thoughts on the metagame, the community, and some more! I’m not sure how big Toronto Regionals will reach due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, but I think we will still hit enough for a Day Two in Masters. Anyways, I’ll try to go over each topic and address them the best I can! Thanks in advance for reading and I appreciate the opportunity to write about my thoughts!


This is not a subject that I like talking about, but it hasn’t recently been brought up by many members of our community so I wanted to add my thoughts to it. Global pandemics are not to be taken lightly and the situation is going to be different for many people. Some members of our community have elderly parents that they live with, they might be forced to work at their food service job, or they might have the freedom to work from home.

As a community, we don’t  have the right to shame organizers, players, or judges for making one decision or the other. I have seen countless posts and tweets that are shaming members - that isn’t cool with me. As the situation gets more severe with the spread of the virus, I am sure the decision will be made for most of us (read as future event cancellations) and I wish everyone the best of health in this difficult time!

The Toronto Metagame

This is something that a lot of people have talked about behind closed doors and that is how does the virus change the metagame for Toronto? If you don’t understand, lemme explain. Many players are cancelling their travel plans, including many of the best players in the game, which means Toronto will have a more diluted field. That’s not to say that Toronto doesn’t have a plethora of talented locals, we totally do, but the lack of many professional players at this event will be felt. The tournament will likely mimic local Toronto events, high amounts of ZADP and Baby Blowns, and a splash of everything else. That information might cause the few players travelling to this event to drastically change their deck for the event which means the metagame might suffer. My strategy is to go in woth a deck that I am comfortable, but I will not accept an auto loss to ZADP. Here are some of my top plays for the event...

The “Safe” Play

As most others have come to the same conclusion, ZADP is likely the best play for the event! It seems to take few poor matchups and is one of the most consistent decks ever created. I’m not entirely sure if this is 100% the exact list I am going to play (if I do decide to play it), but it is pretty close. Be sure to check it out! 

Pokémon - 15

4 Jirachi PR-SM 161

3 Zacian V SSH 138

2 Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX CEC 221

2 Dedenne-GX UNB 57

1 Mawile-GX UNM 141

1 Oranguru SSH 148

1 Phione PR-SM 220

1 Absol TEU 88

Trainer Cards - 34

2 Shrine of Punishment

4 Professor's Research

3 Marnie

4 Custom Catcher

4 Metal Saucer

4 Quick Ball

4 Switch

2 Energy Spinner

2 Escape Board

2 Cherish Ball

1 Great Catcher

1 Vitality Band

1 Big Charm

Energy - 11

9 Metal Energy

2 Water Energy

I’m still stuck on a few things like my lack of Chaotic Swell and Metal Frying Pan, but that is why I am saying my list is close. I understand what those cards offer for the list, I am just experimenting on the fringes of what is possible. I’m debating on cutting Mawile because most other players are going to play it in their list, which does a good enough job to scare away Obstagoon for me. This is the deck that I am going to play if I can’t think of anything better the night before the event! 

The “Pro” Play

After looking at the testing groups of top players and how they determine their matchup spread, I wouldn’t be surprised if the few top players attending this event gravitated towards this deck. With the talk of a positive ZADP matchup (which I’m not entirely sold on) and a solid Baby Blowns matchup, this deck seems like it could be the best play. I haven’t really put too much effort into this deck this season because I’m personally not a fan, but I do think it is an interesting play. Let’s check out this list:

Pokémon - 20

4 Malamar FLI 51

4 Inkay FLI 50

4 Jirachi PR-SM 161

2 Giratina PR-SM 151

1 Espeon & Deoxys-GX UNM 72

1 Blacephalon PR-SM 221

1 Latios-GX UNM 78

1 Mimikyu PR-SM 99

1 Espurr UNB 79

1 Mew PR-SM 215

Trainer Cards - 32

4 Professor's Research

4 Cynthia

2 Viridian Forest

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Quick Ball

4 Spell Tag

3 Acro Bike

3 Switch

2 Escape Board

1 Great Catcher

1 Ordinary Rod

Energy - 8

7 Psychic Energy

1 Recycle Energy

The biggest thing that I’m worried about is that I don’t see how ZADP consistently loses to this deck, even if you can get off a Clear Vision GX every time. On top of that, you would need to force the deck into having a better Control / Mill by adding in Stinger GX or some  Things like that. I’m also worried about Toronto locals playing Obstagoon as a ZADP counter without realizing that Mawile is played en masse right now. Malamar has always been regarded as an inconsistent deck and that isn’t going to change for Toronto, but it seems to be the deck that players gravitate towards. I have thought of it myself, but I’m not confident enough in the deck to pull the trigger on it!

Other Thoughts

There are plenty of other decks available in the format that are suitable plays for Toronto, but ZADP being the BDIF is stopping me from making plenty of plays. Mill is the deck that I want to play the most, but it can’t consistently beat ZADP. There are versions floating around with Team Yell Grunt, but I’m unsure if that is consistent enough to work. A few players have told me that they are looking into the deck that Sander Wojcik played at Malmö, but that deck seems inconsistent too!

My high roll pick for this event is Baby Blowns, but similar to Malamar, it just isn’t as consistent as I want it to be so I’m staying away from it. Obstagoon seems like a sweet pick, especially if you think you can get around Mawile, because it can beat some of the top decks in the game. Fire Box seems poorly positioned, partly due to Tord Reklev running Metal Frying Pan in his Malmö winning list, so I’m likely to stay away from that too. All of this circles me back to playing ZADP and just trying to bide through this format right now. It’s a tough format to choose a deck for so don’t worry too much about it at all. 

Toronto Bound

Thanks for making it this far! I know articles like this can ramble on a little bit, but I wanted to write what was on my mind as we approach Toronto! Worldwide health scares can spook anyone and I know that COVID-19 is no different. If you are mulling over the idea of attending Toronto or not, weigh your decision carefully, and please do not place blame on others for their decision. Whether they choose to attend or not for any reason, we need to respect our fellow community in general. As for me, I have made the decision to attend Toronto because it is local to me, I work from home, and I maintain a strong hygienic regime. I did have considerations to attend the El Salvador Special Event, but all travel for non-citizens has been cancelled, so it is out of the question for me. That being said, I will continue to monitor COVID-19 for the sake of my family’s health and make decisions on a day-by-day basis! That being said, if anyone reading this finds their way to Toronto, safe travels and best of luck in the event! If you are looking for coaching or if you wanna follow me on Social Media, check out these links! 

Social Media

Facebook: Zach Lesage

Twitter: zlesagepokemon 

Twitch: zlesagepokemon 

Youtube: Rare Candy 



TCEvolutions: Use code zach10 to save 10% off at

PTCGOStore: Use code zlesage5 to save 5% off at

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