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Ryan Sabelhaus

"Who Ruffled Your Feathers?" - A 2nd Place League Cup Report

Ryan's back and goes over his Yveltal-EX/Garbodor deck that earned him a 2nd place finish at one of the first League Cups in the United States...

12/29/2016 by Ryan Sabelhaus

Ryan's back and goes over his Yveltal-EX/Garbodor deck that earned him a 2nd place finish at one of the first League Cups in the United States. He also goes over some top deck choices for future Standard events that could perform well!


What’s happening, 60cards readers! It’s been quite a while since the last time we talked about Pokémon. I knew that I was writing a lot of content and wanted to take a little break to assure that my writing wasn’t getting repetitive, but now I’m refreshed and ready to discuss the exciting Standard format for anyone that is going to Dallas Regionals or perhaps just a Standard format League Cup. To help any players that haven’t already attended any League Cups of their own, I’ll also use the first half of this article to go over my recent League Cup that I attended in Georgia (during which I ended with a 2nd place finish). This could help to give everyone a feel for what kind of tournaments League Cups are, while also showing the strength of a deck choice that I will be covering, so it should be immensely helpful to any readers that are nearing a Standard format tournament.

After the tournament report is done, along with reviewing the 2nd place Yveltal/Garbodor deck that I piloted, we’ll discuss two other deck choices that I was considering for Dallas Regionals and other Standard League Cups. Although you’ve probably seen some of these decks before, the small differences in each build are what should set them apart. Whether it be tech cards being used in the Supporter card or Item slots, or perhaps just a heavier amount of draw Supporters to add consistency, these decks can run completely differently from other builds that you’ve seen online. Even with this format not having a multitude of decks to choose from, every option and tech card being played can have a big impact, which makes the deck-building process more important than ever.

One of my favorite things that I have done in past articles was to show thought processes for approaching each matchup during a tournament, which is something that I’ll do for this tournament report as well. Picking Yveltal/Garbodor to play in a tournament is a great choice since it’s the clear “best deck in format,” but knowing how to play each matchup can decide whether you finish the tournament with Championship Points or not.

Let’s jump into the article!

Roswell (GA) League Cup – 2nd Place Finish

Going into this tournament, I already knew what the top contenders were going to be. The format hasn’t changed much at all throughout the past month or so and we’ve had some huge tournaments occur with this same exact format (London InterContinentals, Ft. Wayne Regionals, etc.). Everyone knew the deck to beat was clearly Yveltal-EX/Garbodor, especially with the 1st-5th place finishes at the first ever InterContinental Championship. Upon arriving in Georgia, I was trying to build a list for a “Brilliant Arrow” M Gardevoir-EX/Garbodor deck that could hypothetically do very well in this format, but just couldn’t find the room to feel confident with how it looked. With 65 cards, I could easily build the deck and feel good about matchups, but the task just couldn’t be done with 60 cards. With a slightly crazy rogue deck now being thrown aside, the choice would come down to a popular archetype with some tech cards to help against certain matchups. It was either Volcanion/Entei or Yveltal-EX/Garbodor, and I inevitably ended up choosing the more consistent deck. Let’s take a look at the list I used:


Although this list probably looks very similar to some of the builds that have done well at larger tournaments lately, it’s simply because those 55-card skeletons are the best possible way to build a Yveltal-EX/Garbodor deck. The only real difference between Yveltal-EX builds right now are those 5 extra cards that are used for the tech Supporters and extra Item slots. Some decks play Trainers’ Mail to add extra consistency and hopefully to help hit Max Elixirs early and swing the board in their favor. Other builds play zero Trainers’ Mail and just add extra tech cards to help against certain matchups. This version would be the latter of the two choices and opts not to play Trainers’ Mail for more flexibility against difficult matchups.

The Olympia and Pokémon Center Lady are specifically added into this deck in an attempt to swing the mirror match. With extra healing and an ability to switch out unwanted attackers, an opponent’s attempt to trap Pokémon with their “Fright Night” ability could become pointless and invalidated with just one Supporter card. Obviously healing even the slightest amount of damage can be a big game-changing moment as well for this mirror match. Imagine a scenario in which an opponent used Evil Ball to hit an Yveltal-EX for 130 damage in preparation to use a Y-Cyclone on the following turn to preserve energy. With either Olympia or Pokémon Center Lady, they are now forced to attack with Evil Ball once again and can’t keep those precious energy cards on the board to gain an advantage later in the match. The entire game is going to be a chess match, and even the slightest wrench to throw in an opponent’s plan could result in winning the series.

Since obviously healing cards are fantastic during the mirror match, they have rightfully earned their place in this build. In addition to helping the mirror match, these healing cards also help to completely swing the Greninja matchup in Yveltal-EX’s favor. That matchup is also reliant on perfect math, as a Greninja player aims to swing for 80 damage, have a Bursting Balloon hit for 60 damage, and then swing for a final 80 damage to hit the needed 210 HP of a Yveltal-EX with Fighting Fury Belt. With any amount of healing cards being used on a Yveltal-EX, the math is completely messed up and now takes another turn or Bursting Balloon to achieve a knockout.

Team Flare Grunt was initially added in for the mirror match, but ended up working perfectly against a Jolteon-EX deck that I found in Top 8 of this tournament. With more ways to discard energy and prevent attacking, I could prevent Jolteon-EX from just running through me with a consistent 70 damage attack that couldn’t be stopped. The Escape Rope also helped during this matchup, while concurrently being a reliable switching card to get unwanted Pokémon out of the active position.

Now that we’ve gone over the tech cards and reasoning behind their addition to the deck, let’s jump into the matchups that I faced during this tournament. With around 70 players showing up for the Masters division, it was going to be a 7-round tournament that would surely need at least 5 wins to make the top cut. The League Cup was also a best of 1 series, which meant that any bad hand could spell out doom for every player in the building. There were many well-known Masters from the Southeast at this tournament, which only made sense with this being the first ever League Cup in that area. The round 1 pairings went up and I immediately had to face a friend that was playing the same deck as I. Let’s see if those tech cards would come to fruition!

Round 1: James Hart - Yveltal-EX/Garbodor (W)

Initial Thoughts: As stated in the Introduction, this will be where I discuss my thought process going into each matchup and how I plan to win the game. With any Yveltal-EX mirror, Yveltal BKT is the desired starter in the active position to punish any opponent that doesn’t have a great starting Pokémon. I planned on getting down early damage with the baby Yveltals and spreading all excess damage to the Yveltal-EX’s that he was setting up on the bench. Softening up these attackers would allow me to get easy prize cards with my Yveltal-EX, along with possibly allowing me to save extra energy by using Y-Cyclone to take these knockouts. In the end, my healing cards should be able to help mess up the math of my opponent and possibly force an Evil Ball to be used instead of Y-Cyclone.

The game began with me going first (which is huge in the mirror match) and also starting with Yveltal BKT to my opponent’s Trubbish. After attaching an energy card to my Yveltal and hitting some other basic Pokémon, the pressure was on James to start setting up attackers on his bench. Since Float Stone couldn’t get him out of the active position, there was no way for him to get anything going on his first turn. The game progressed with me taking a turn two knockout on his Trubbish and placing 60 damage on a Shaymin-EX (since he didn’t have any Yveltal-EX down), with James then using a Super Potion on his Shaymin-EX and hitting me with a Pitch-Black Spear of his own. I managed to draw into my Olympia and switched into a Yveltal-EX to hit the knockout and wipe the board of energy, which ultimately ended the game a few turns later.

(1-0-0) 3 points

Round 2: Rainbow Road (W)

Initial Thoughts: When approaching the Rainbow Road matchup, the most important cards to use are going to be Enhanced Hammers and Parallel Cities. When these cards are followed by an N, they can swing the matchup completely into Yveltal-EX’s favor. As with many other matchups, Yveltal BKT is the preferred starter to punish any bad starting Pokémon on the opponent's side. Different from the mirror match, I usually like to start this game by using Lysandre to bring up heavy retreat cost Pokémon-EX to Pitch Black Spear without repercussion. This strategy forces an opponent to find one of their possibly two switching cards to escape the damage coming down, which isn’t very easy to accomplish and may force them to waste resources.

Once they have established a good board with plenty of Pokémon down on their bench, the time has come to hit them with an Enhanced Hammer + Parallel City + N combo to slow them down for a while. If they can recover from the first combo, you just have to wait until an opponent gets set up again before hitting them with the same exact combo later on. It’s very difficult to consistently find ways of hitting for 210 damage after the first Parallel City, nonetheless after the second one.

This game was extremely close and came down to the very last couple of turns. I didn’t start with the Yveltal BKT and was forced to set up some attackers behind a Trubbish. My opponent got off to a decent start, but ended up going through some resources early in the game that he didn’t want discarded that quickly. The main card that he lost was his Super Rod, which needed to be discarded off a Sycamore to keep the tempo of the game. This would end up costing him later on in the game, as the second Parallel City + N combo left him without a big attack for a turn (only mustering up 130 damage with his Xerneas). I drew into an Enhanced Hammer and discarded his 3rd Double Colorless energy, along with 7 Fairy energy in his discard pile. With only one more fairy energy to use for this game, he stated that he didn’t have enough energy to attack anymore and flipped over his last 3 prize cards to show the 4th Double Colorless energy. With the Super Rod, my opponent could have had a chance to win the game through shuffling in some Fairy energy and helping to hit some more Max Elixirs, but that’s just how the game goes sometimes.

(2-0-0) 6 points

Round 3: Yveltal-EX/Garbodor (W)

Initial Thoughts: I had the same mental strategy as I had with the first round. Try to start with early Pitch Black Spears and get good use out of my healing cards to swing the matchup.

This round was played on stream, for anyone that was watching, and was another close game. My opponent went first and began to set up some attackers on the bench, while I used my first turn to do the same thing. At some point during the opening of the game, I had his Trubbish stuck in the active position with an Yveltal BKT keeping it locked there. This allowed me an extra turn of not taking damage, which was followed with a Garbodor coming down on my side of the board and a knockout taken from my Yveltal with a Fighting Fury Belt. With first damage and first knockout taken, the pressure was on me to keep the tempo going and to keep bringing up attackers. My opponent hit both of his Enhanced Hammers at very fortunate times to set me back a good amount, but I ended up pulling the game out in the end through a crucial knockout on Yveltal BREAK, which was holding almost all the energy that he had on his board. Without attackers that had enough energy on them, my Yveltal-EX could finish the rest.

(3-0-0) 9 points

Round 4: Yveltal-EX/Garbodor (W)

Initial Thoughts: This is getting a little ridiculous with 3/4 of my matches being the mirror so far. Well at this point in the day, I’m very confident in the mirror match and knew exactly what needed to be done to achieve victory. It would be crucial to set up an early Yveltal to put pressure on my opponent, while using those healing cards to swing the game.

My strategy didn’t work AT ALL for this game. I was drawing poorly, along with my opponent, which resulted in both of us just setting up attackers and not initiating. Neither of us had Supporter cards and didn’t want to start the fight, which would put damage on our only attackers that we had drawn into. Eventually my opponent used a Delinquent to discard the only card I had left in my hand, which was just a Pokémon Center Lady. I got very lucky and drew right into an N off the top (which always seems to happen after a clutch Delinquent). With the first supporter card being drawn by me, I was able to attack first and get initial damage down on his Yveltal-EX on the bench. The fortuitous N that helped me out of a dead hand also apparently didn’t get the memo for my opponent, who still couldn’t draw into any good Supporter cards to help with setting up. A large Yveltal-EX could finish up the rest of his board and take the game for me.

(4-0-0) 12 points

Round 5: Connor Finton - M Gardevoir-EX STS (L)

Initial Thoughts: Well, I wasn’t planning on playing against this today. While playing against M Gardevoir-EX plenty of times during my Orlando Regional Championship run with Darkrai/Giratina/Garb, I realized how reliant this deck is on abusing abilities. With a quick Garbodor and another Trubbish on the bench as a security net, the game should progress with my Yveltal-EX winning battles through the use of healing cards on my side. Although Connor did play two copies of Fairy Drop in his list, the games would at the very least be close. The initial plan for this matchup would be to set up behind an Yveltal BKT and force my opponent to skip a turn through having to mega-evolve. Getting the extra damage on his board would surely help to soften up those big attackers and make knockouts more accessible to my Yveltal-EX.

This game was another streamed match, but didn’t end up going in my favor. Connor set up beautifully on the second turn of the game. Through using a good amount of abilities and Shaymin-EX to draw through his deck, Connor was able to hit a Hex Maniac to mega-evolve through my “Fright Night” ability and then swing at me for 130 damage. I had attached a Fighting Fury Belt to the active Yveltal and could survive the attack, but would be instantly knocked out once my turn ended and the Hex Maniac wore off. This let Connor have a fresh swing at anything that I brought into the active spot, which allowed him to knock out any Pokémon (since I didn’t have a Garbodor down and he could repeatedly abuse Rattata to smack off my Fighting Fury Belts). I ended up losing this game a couple of turns later, knowing that if we faced again, I needed to get down Garbodor immediately to avoid that situation from happening again.

(4-1-0) 12 points

Round 6: Greninja (W)

Initial Thoughts: With the extra healing cards and Enhanced Hammers to deal with their Splash Energy, I would legitimately say this matchup is almost unwinnable for the Greninja players. Obviously if no Garbodor hits the board and Greninja can abuse abilities, they can win, but Yveltal-EX/Garbodor has about 4 turns to get down the Garbodor. With abilities being shut down, Yveltal-EX can just hit for huge damage without any consequences and can take almost every prize card. There is no need to find Yveltal BKT, as they just don’t do enough damage to finish the game off quick enough. With the added healing to keep attackers alive, the matchup is a fantastic one to see in the “win-and-in” round of this tournament.

There really isn’t much to say about this round, aside from my opponent hitting some unbelievably bad luck in a terrible matchup. After hitting his Talonflame for an Evil Ball on my first turn of the game, my opponent attempted to use Water Duplicates with his Frogadier. He actually FAILED the search, with one being in his hand and the other two being prized. Unbelievably bad luck on his part and there was nothing he could do to stop my Yveltal-EX.

(5-1-0) 15 points

Round 7: Volcanion (ID)

Initial Thoughts: I knew that this round was going to be an intentional draw to assure that both of us made it into the Top 8. For Volcanion in general, the matchup is based almost completely off getting down a Garbodor immediately and shutting down their abilities. Their deck will attempt to knock out the Trubbish to avoid this from happening. Either attacker is usually fine against this matchup and can be decided based on what has been drawn, but the entire matchup usually just rides on whether a Garbodor comes down and stays in play to shut down their abilities. Yveltal-EX/Garbodor has a good advantage over Volcanion, so I was happy to see this deck make it into the top 8 with me.

(5-1-1) 16 points

So, the Top 8 got finalized and I saw that I was playing an absolutely terrible matchup in the first round of top cut: Jolteon-EX/Pidgeot-EX/Garbodor. That is NOT what I wanted to see!

Top 8: Austen Vance – Jolteon-EX/Pidgeot-EX/Garbodor (WW)

Initial Thoughts: I’ll be completely honest, I never really planned on facing this deck and didn’t really have a good game plan at first. I was just aiming to use a clutch Escape Rope to take a knockout on his Jolteon-EX, while annoying him with Team Flare Grunt and Enhanced Hammers to discard his energy. Basically, just try to make his life difficult and prevent attacks from his Jolteon-EX while setting up a huge Yveltal-EX to swing the game.

Game one: My plan worked well during the first game, as I setup a huge Yveltal-EX with 10 energy on it to do the dirty work. While this was being setup, I had to assure that he wasn’t using any Lysandres to hit me for damage and ruin my plan, which was done through just discarding his energy and forcing him to use drawing Supporters to find extra energy. Austen also drew poorly off some late game N’s and missed an attack with Jolteon-EX after energy removal, which allowed me to take a big knockout and win the game.

Game two: The second game was bad for Austen, who couldn’t seem to draw into anything at all. He ended up using Swift to take a knockout on a big Yveltal-EX, along with stalling a long amount of turns with Pidgeot-EX’s and Max Potions. After enough energy had hit the board, my Yveltal-EX could sweep and win the game while Austen struggled to find his last Double Colorless energy to lock me in with Jolteon-EX. Definitely lucky in these games, but the matchup isn’t unwinnable at all. Energy denial can be very strong when paired with some late game N’s.

(6-1-1) 19 points

Top 4: Connor Finton – M Gardevoir-EX STS (WLW)

Initial Thoughts: Well, I’ve already faced this matchup and it was my only loss for today. This match was once again streamed and was the first signs of how sleep-deprived I was that day, with myself making some careless mistakes. I knew what I needed to do to win, with a central strategy on getting out as many pieces of the Garbodor line as fast as possible, while also slowing down Connor with an Yveltal BKT to force him to skip a turn through mega-evolving. Let’s see how it went this time.

Game one: The first game didn’t go Connor’s way at all. He couldn’t draw into anything after an early N left him without Supporter cards. I started to just hit huge damage with a Yveltal-EX and completely forgot about trying to get down a Garbodor. I was so focused on how much I was winning the game and how badly Connor was dead-drawing, that I just didn’t realize I could evolve one of my Trubbish on the bench that had a Float Stone attached. Connor finally hit a Supporter card and blew up that turn to almost bring himself back into the game. Unfortunately for him, I came out of my stupor and evolved into Garbodor to shut down any chance of him coming back.

Game two: The second game was the complete opposite, with Connor drawing very well and myself missing some energy attachments. I was able to get down one Trubbish on the first turn, but it was knocked out immediately and I was in a terrible position. After a couple more turns of Connor abusing abilities and hitting everything he needed, we moved into a game 3.

Game three: During the third game, I was drawing well and found both of my Trubbish on the first turn. They both would evolve into Garbodor and ruin any chance that Connor had of using his abilities. Without abilities, Connor couldn’t hit for max damage or discard my Fighting Fury Belts, which is a battle that isn’t in his favor. Yveltal-EX were able to win the game after some healing cards made math a little more difficult to knockout my big attackers with Fighting Fury Belts.

(7-1-1) 22 points

Finals: Ahmed Ali – Volcanion/Volcanion-EX/Entei (LL)

Initial Thoughts: I was happy to see that the other top 4 match being played was Greninja vs. Volcanion (as both matchups are good for me). With Ahmed making it to the finals, I knew that the matchup would completely revolve around getting down Trubbish fast and shutting off his abilities to prevent my attackers from being knocked out in one-hit.

Game one: The first game went terribly, as I could only draw into a Trubbish and an Yveltal with no supporter cards. Both were knocked out in the first 3 turns as I failed to hit a draw Supporter card. Hopefully the next game would go a little better.

Game two: For the second game, I couldn’t seem to find a Yveltal-EX and was stuck with just one Yveltal BKT to attack with. On the third turn of the game, I had to use a Sycamore to discard ALL FOUR Double Colorless energies in my deck, which put me at a huge disadvantage. There was almost no way of coming back into the game without my best energy cards to fuel up my attacks, while I also couldn’t find Garbodor to shut down his attacks from taking instant knockouts.

(7-2-1) = 2nd Place

Thoughts on League Cups

Obviously, I may be a little biased from doing well at my first League Cup, but I loved the tournament and it felt very much like City Championships. Without any marathons to earn massive amounts of Championship Points, these League Cups are crucial for earning invites to play in the World Championships. With a best-of-1 format as well, they force players to use consistent deck choices and help to avoid losing to strange decks with even weirder tech cards, as those players usually won’t be able consistently setup and perform well. Remember to take these events seriously, as you only get so many during each quarter of the Pokémon season

Other Deck Choices for Dallas Regionals/League Cups

Since we’ve had the same Standard format for a good amount of time and no new sets have entered to mix up deck choices, I’ve held the same couple of favorite decks. Obviously Yveltal-EX/Garbodor would be the best possible deck to choose, as it is the most consistent and can realistically beat any deck that it faces. My other top choices for Dallas Regionals and League Cups?


This is almost a 60-card replica of the deck that beat me in the finals of that League Cup, with just one change. This card difference is taking the third Trainers’ Mail and adding in a third Energy Retrieval, as just playing two copies is a little too scary for my liking. Volcanion decks have been discussed in other recent articles if you don’t understand the premise of the deck, but this build is different in that it’s all consistency with a tech Entei to swing some sketchy matchups. Rainbow Road and M Rayquaza-EX now become much easier with a non-EX attacker that can hit up to 180 damage for just two energy cards, which doesn’t even include the Steam-Up ability to further any damage output. Volcanion is a strong and consistent deck choice that has been near the top of tournament placings at every major Standard format tournament this year. Expect some strong placements out of Volcanion at Dallas Regionals.

M Gardevoir-EX/Xerneas

As I was talking about before, I’ve been trying to get “Brilliant Arrow” M Gardevoir to work with just about everything I can think of. There wasn’t enough room in the deck to fit an entire Garbodor line, so I decided to just go with two copies of Hex Maniac. When the deck sets up properly, it can run right through an Yveltal-EX/Garbodor deck, while also sporting some even to positive matchups with other top contenders in the format (Volcanion, Greninja, etc.). It does struggle very much against anything that can hit for big damage without abilities (M Rayquaza-EX and Rainbow Road), which makes it a little risky of a call for Dallas. If you were looking for a low-profile deck that could do well with the right matchups, this is one of my personal favorites.


It’s good to be back for 60cards and writing to everybody after my short break! I’m a big fan of the current Standard format and love how the tournaments have been playing out so far. Even though Yveltal-EX/Garbodor has won almost every big event so far, it’s been a skilled player that has been piloting a very refined list to victory.

Hopefully this article has given a little insight into how League Cups are going so far, along with showing how similar they are to City Championships of the past. Placing at these events is certainly crucial to getting an invite to the World Championships so make sure to head out and find some League Cups near you. I’ll be in Dallas and Athens for anyone that is attending, along with most League Cups that are happening in North Carolina and South Carolina. Can’t wait to see everybody there and thanks for reading my article! Feel free to message me with any questions or comments that you may have.

-Ryan Sabelhaus <3

[+11] okko


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