Experts' corner

Draydon Davis

Locking Down Dallas Regionals

Draydon Davis discusses in detail his top four finish at Dallas Regionals with Zoroark-GX/Garbodor.

02/06/2019 by Draydon Davis

Hey, 60 Cards Readers! I am Draydon Davis, and this is my first article for 60 Cards. I've been playing for seven years, and now am a second-year master. This past weekend decided to fly to Dallas Regionals, my first event outside of Ontario, Canada. After all, was said and done, I came out of the event with a top four finish. 

I knew from the start of my testing that I would be playing Zoroark-GX. Zoroark-GX is a card I have played a lot this season, and I knew that because of Sky Field in the Expanded format, there were almost no decks that Zoroark-GX couldn't trade with.

I chose to play the deck with Garbodor because the combination of Garbooxin, Red Card, and Delinquent (or using Guzma to pressure down threats), while hitting for a one hit knockout every turn, allows you to stream your attacks much more consistently than your opponent.  




Card Explanations


4 / 4 Zoroark-GX SHL

Of course, I decided to play four Zorua, and four Zoroark-GX. This simply gives you the most access to them throughout the set up portion of the game. I also decided not to play any non GX Zoroark. This is becuase in my testing I felt that I'd almost always rather have an additional Zoroark-GX in play than a non GX Zoroark to try to swing the prize trade. The deck really doesn't decide games often by trading knockouts one after the other. The deck wins games by taking knockouts with Zoroark-GX while trying to disrupt the opponent enough that they miss knockouts. 


2 Garbodor DR / BKP

I briefly considered only playing one Garbotoxin Garbodor, and one Alolan Muk. However, I think it is just very safe to play two Garbodor. If you only play one you can lose many games by simply prizing one or not drawing into it early enough. I decided not to play any Trashalanche Garbodor because I did not feel it was very effective. I expected to play against a lot of other Zoroark-GX decks, as I did, and the card generally takes too long to hit for knockouts against other Zoroark decks. playing Trashalance Garbodor and Psychic Energy also just makes your deck less consistent, and the deck's ability to consitently turn off and on abilities, take one hit knockouts, and disrupt your opponent's hand is the most important factor in almost every game.


1 Trubbish DR

I chose to play this Trubbish because it was the only 70HP Trubbish I could actually attack with. I felt that even with the Garbage Collection Trubbish I would still lose just as many games to good Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX players. The matchups that I felt which Trubbish I played would make a bigger impact on were Buzzwole and Trevenant BREAK. These were the two matchups outside of Seismitoad-EX that I was the most worried about and it felt like an easy way to improve those matchups slightly. I only chose to play one Trubbish because I almost only ever needed to have one Garbodor in play, and Ditto Prism Star virtually allowed me to still have two outs to Garbodor in play at the same time.


2 Klefki STS

Klefki allows you to turn off abilties during your opponent's turn and turn them back on during your turn. I decided to play a second Kleki, largely for consistently. The other reason I chose to play the second Klefki was for Sudowoodo. Basically, you turn off Sudowoodo with Klefki, then bench a new Klefki, that way your bench isn't locked down going back into your turn when Sudowoodo comes back into effect, which without a Klefki on bench would force you to commit a tool to Garbodor. I've seen a lot of players using Bursting Balloon for this but Klefki allows you to have more outs to basic Pokemon to take knockouts, and is not stopped by item lock. You also have more ways to search out Klefki than Bursting Balloon, and can reuse Klefki with Rescue Stretcher.


2 Exeggcute PLF

Two Exeggcute is definitely the minimum count for the deck. The card is incredibly valuable. The expanded format is very resource intensive, and using Exeggcute for Ultra Ball and Trade allows you to thin out all of the dead cards from your deck while conserving all of your resources. Of cours,e Exeggcute also allows you to hit the basics you need to take one hit knockouts with Zoroark-GX consistently, especially when an opponent's Sudowoodo is forcing you to discard four of your basic Pokemon every turn.


2 Shaymin-EX ROS

The deck is actually very combo based. You often have swing turns where you need to draw a large combination of cards. You want to hit the proper supporter, the basics / tool you need to take the knockout, the Red Card to force hand advantage, and a tool for the abiltiy lock. Shaymin very simply allows you to dig a little bit deeper on pivotal turns. Overall, two Shaymin-EX was the right number, I rarely needed an additional Shaymin-EX and I often was able to get utility out of the both. 


2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI

Two Tapu Lele-GX was definitely the right count to give me access to the right supporter at the right time. Playing two Guzma and two Tapu Lele-GX allowed me to discard one Guzma, and keep the other in the deck, giving me consistent access to the card whenever I needed it. 


1 Ditto Prism Star LOT

Ditto was a key consistency card throughout the event, giving me a fifth Zorua, a second Trubbish, and the versatility to evolve into a Zoroark-GX or a Garbodor. The only weakness of Ditto was that my opponent's could turn it off with ability lock, which was definitely relevant in many matchups. However, the consistency Ditto provided was definitely worth the risk. Particularly because it provided a much needed additional Zorua when I may have prized one too many.


1 Sudowoodo GRI

Sudowoodo was very important in a lot of matchups. The obvious strength is against other Zoroark-GX decks. Particularly in the mirror, your opponent typically needs to turn off your ability lock, then turn theirs back on, and hit the necessary cards to knock you out. Combine this with cards like Red Card and N and it becomes very difficult for your opponent to respond to your set up. Sudowoodo can also be an effective way to bench lock against Zoroark-GX/Peeking Red Card and Blastoise.


1 Wobbuffet PHF

Wobbuffet was primarily for the Blastoise matchup. It made for a very effective tech card. The idea is that you shut down Deluge until you draw into a combination of Guzma, Garbotoxin, and a knockout on Blastoise. Then you either knockout blastoise and Garbotoxin the opponent, or you hit a Wailord & Magikarp-GX that is close to being powered up to neutralize the threat of its high HP. I decided to play Wobbuffet over Mr. Mime because the Mr. Mime really felt like it did nothing in the matchup. Mr. Mime stops Towering Splash GX but a 300HP Pokemon that takes one hit knockouts on Zoroark-GX is really bad for the deck regardless. In addition to being strong against Blastoise, sending up Wobbuffet also made it difficult for Vespiquen to hit Maxie for Gallade. It also allowed me to slow down opponents when I was having a rough start, allowing me to get back in to the game many times. Finally, I was able to use Wobbuffet against the Sceptile-GX/Vileplume deck to give myself access to items and slow down their set up by shutting down Sunshine Grace, Energy Evolution, and Almighty Evolution.


3 Colress

I considered cutting one Colress for a Professor Sycamore or a second N to be stronger in the early game. However, as soon as one player begins to set up, Colress becomes an effective enough draw supporter to get you out of a dead hand, and it is incredibly valuable in the mid to late game. Ultimately the card is too strong to swap out for a card that is sub optimal through the majority of the game.


1 N

N very simply always has and always will be an important disruption option for decks. Garbotoxin plus an N to one or two cards is an incredibly strong combination that can single handedly win games. N is also a strong option for getting out of a dead hand if you prize Brigette.


2 Guzma

I play the second Guzma to draw it more consistently under item lock, provide early pressure more consistently, survive a Get Lost from Girafarig, and have an out to the card through both VS Seeker and Wonder Tag.


1 Delinquent

Not only does Delinquent allow you to leave your opponent with no options if they play their hand down to three, but it still allows you to force your opponent to burn resources when they have a hand size of four or five. Delinquent is obviously very strong in combination with Red Card as well to try to force draw support outs from your opponent's hand before making them burn cards. Often the opponent also needs a variety of cards in the same turn to pull off a return knockout, so putting them down to one or two cards off of a Delinquent and shutting off their abilities with Garbotoxin can make it near impossible to draw all of them, particularly if one of the cards they need are Guzma, preventing them from digging out all of the cards they need with a draw supporter.


1 Brigette

I know a lot of people promoted a second Brigette in the deck, and there is certainly merit to it; however, the combination of Pokemon Communication, Battle Compressor, and Set Up, allows you to usually get out enough basics even without Brigette, and the odds of prizing Brigette, even with only one, are very low. Overall in the six games that I wanted to Brigette on the first turn, but had prized it, I only lost one.


4 VS Seeker

I see people cutting a VS Seeker here and there but I think all four VS Seeker tend to be important. Even with four, they often are not expendable. VS Seeker is simply a very strong way to give yourself options throughout the game, which is why I played the maximum count.


4 Ultra Ball

Ultra Ball is simply one of the strongest and most important consistency cards in the game. I don't think many decks in the format can afford to go below four Ultra Ball. It is a staple consistency card and if you could play a fifth in the deck you likely would. It is worth noting that Exeggcute even nullifies the already minimal draw back of the card.


2 Red Card

I've mentioned Red Card once or twice already and it is really what pushes this deck over the top. I see so many lists only playing one Red Card and it is simply a mistake that is likely to lose you a lot of games. The point of this deck is card advantage, you use Colress, Trade, and the efficiency of Riotous Beating, while locking your opponent out of their options by leaving them with simply not enough cards in hand to make any sort of game plan come to fruition. The combination of Red Card and Garbotoxin make any matchup winnable and give the deck a lot of comeback potential because you can simply take a knockout, put your opponent down to four cards in hand, and ability lock them. It is very hard for any deck to respond to that, and with two Red Card you can do this consistently and at multiple occasions in a single game.


2 Rescue Stretcher

The second copy of Rescue Stretcher comes back to surviving Sudowoodo over and over again. This way you are unlikely to run out of basic Pokemon, it is harder for your opponent to pressure things like Garbodor or Sudowoodo off the board, and you can have an additonal out to Ability Lock if you have a Klefki in the discard pile. You use both Rescue Stretcher in a lot of games, typically you use one to grab a Zoroark-GX or shuffle a few basic Pokemon back in to the deck, and then use the other to grab a single Klefki just to chain your combo at some point in the game. The second stretcher also becomes an additional out to turn one Brigette or digging out Zoroark-GXs when combined with Battle Compressor.


2 Field Blower

Field Blower is in the deck mainly for Garbotoxin, but of course, the card sees a lot of value against decks like Primal Groudon for Tropical Beach, Lucario-GX for Focus Sash, and Blastoise/Magikarp & Wailord-GX for Choice Bands. For a while I was testing with one Field Blower and one Faba; however, I expected to play against a lot of other Zoroark-GX/Garbodor decks and it simply felt too valuable to be able to Field Blower off of Garbodor, and still be able to play a Colress or Guzma for the turn, especially when you may be reliant on abilities to get a tool on to your Garbodor with Klefki.


1 Pokemon Communication

Pokemon Communication doesn't ever feel like a broken card, but it just seems like an essential consistency card. You almost always have a Pokemon in your hand, and if not you can use Exeggcute's Propogation to get one. Pokemon Communication really just helps the deck run more smoothly, and get going faster.


1 Special Charge

Special Charge is simply an essential, it is very easy to expend four Double Colorless Energy in a single game, especially with cards like Drampa-GX, Sceptile-GX, and Faba seeing play.


1 Dowsing Machine

There are so many cards in the deck that you would like to get an additional use from in the game, which makes Dowsing Machine a very important resource in any matchup. The sheer versatility that Dowsing Machine gives you makes it an easy inclusion in the deck. I really don't think I could justify switching it for a different Ace Spec.


2 Choice Band

Choice band is clearly necessary to hit that perfect 210 damage mark. A third Choice Band would definitely make some games easier to play, but the deck runs fine without it, it doesn't swing any matchups, and it in most cases it feels like a luxury card.


2 Float Stone

I played around with only one Float Stone for awhile, but it forces you to lean on Klefki far too much, and you really don't start with a decent Pokemon often enough to justify not needed it to get out of the active. It is also worth noting that it is typically a safe decision to attach Float Stone to Garbodor against other Zoroark-GX decks since you have a lot of outs to draw more cards, or sometimes simply don't need to draw more cards if your opponent fails to formulate a response under Ability lock.


3 Sky Field

A fourth Sky Field would be a lot like a third Choice Band in that in most games you will not need it, and it's really just a luxury card. Additionally, it tends to be a dead card against other Zoroark-GX decks.


2 Battle Compressor

Battle Compressor is a very important tool for this deck. It allows you to thin out dead cards and gives you quick access to one of Supporter cards, giving you many more options with VS Seeker throughout the game. The card also gets your Exeggcutes into the discard pile which allows you to burn less resources with Trade and Ultra Ball throughout the rest of the game. Lastly, Battle Compressor turns cards like VS Seeker, Rescue Stretcher, and Dowsing Machine into immediate outs for the cards that you are digging for, the most relevant example of this is on the first turn where it turns all three of those cards into ways to hit your turn one Brigette.


4 Double Colorless Energy

This is pretty self-explanatory, you attack for two Colorless Energy and want to have as much access to Double Colorless Energy as you can, as early as you can. 

Other Options


Oranguru UPR / Bunnelby PRC

Bunnelby and Oranguru both serve the same general purpose, to cycle enough resources back in to your deck to close games against decks that are trying to run you out of resources. The two cards can both do this fairly effectively. The difference between the cards is that Oranguru has a bit more HP which makes it harder for the opponent to deal with and allows you to get more uses out of it. Bunnelby on the other hand gives you the option to mill your opponent. Decks like Zoroark-GX/Seimitoad-EX can thin their deck a lot, and even in mirror matches you can catch your opponent with only two cards in the deck, this allows you to suddenly steal the game out of your opponent's hands.


Trubbish NVI

This Trubbish is also able to somewhat recycle your resources, however since it puts the card to the top of the deck, your opponent has the option to burn it again with Team Rocket's Handiwork, and one card really isn't that strong. I think the more important thing to note here is how strong I feel a second Trubbish would be. The deck would just feel a lot safer with a second Trubbish since if you have one prized, you can just get completely locked out of your Garbodor by an Alolan Muk. Even if your Trubbish isn't prized you can be locked out of the game by a deck like Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX which can hunt down your trubbish and lock down Ditto with Alolan Muk in the same turn. 


Exeggcute PLF 

A third Exeggcute was very strong in my testing and was a last minute cut before the League Cup the weekend of the event. I felt satisfied with only two and really wanted the space for another card; however, three exeggcute is something I could definitely see myself going back to. When you prize an Exeggcute this allows you to still use Ultra Ball and Dowsing Machine for free, as well as having a bit more flexiblility to bench an Exeggcute to extend for a knockout. Additionally, having three copies in the deck simply makes it a lot easier to survive Sudowoodo, and can save you from benching Pokemon that serve as liabilities on your bench like Shaymin-EX.


Zoroark BKT

Zoroark can feel very strong in the mirror match; however, in my testing, I almost always wanted an additional Zoroark-GX instead. It is a great option to be able to skew the prize trade; however, in the majority of games, you don't want to give up the additional consitency you get from each Zoroark-GX in play.


Pokemon Ranger

Pokemon Ranger has a few niche uses like surviving Giratina-EX's Chaos Wheel or Chimecho's Bell of Silence, but obviously, the main use is against Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX, which is easily your worst matchup. Pokemon Ranger makes the matchup slightly in your favour, allowing you to simply break the lock, play down all of your resources, burn through some dead items, pull back Pokemon Ranger with VS Seeker, and take a one hit knockout. It is worth nothing that this still doesn't just win you the matchup every time as Hugh makes Pokemon Ranger a lot harder to use. The strategy used to be to hold out until you drew into everything that you needed, then play them all at once. With Hugh your opponent has the option to continue burning your resources as you wait to draw into the combo you need, and it may even force you to discard some of the combo pieces you need to take the knockout. To play around Hugh you still have to go heavy on Garbotoxin and Red Card in the early game as much as possible and get very agressive to try to take early prize cards. The less resources you need to take your final prize cards with Pokemon Ranger, the easier it is going to be for you to win.  

Tournament Report

Now that you know why I picked the exact sixty cards that I did, I'll give you a quick run down of my matches and comment briefly on some of the more memorable games.

Round 1 WW VS Bryce Seiler w/Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX

Round 2 WW VS Caleb Patton w/Zoroark-GX/Garbodor

Round 3 LW VS Daniel Altavilla w/Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX

In game two I managed to disrupt my opponent early game with Red Card and Garbotoxin, giving me the time to knockout a Tapu Lele-GX, an Articuno-GX, and a Zorua, before my opponent was able to start the lock. Later in the game, my opponent recieved a double prize penalty for drawing an extra card which finished game two.

Round 4 WLW VS Joel Ronquillo w/Lucario-GX

This is a matchup a lot of people feel is favorable for Lucario-GX, but both players are trading one hit knockouts, while Zoroark-GX/Garbodor puts on the disruption, giving it the advantage. The game I lost, I lost to being benched out under dead draw. 

Round 5 WLL VS Ben Osborn w/Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX 

I lost this match in game three when my opponent pulled up an Exeggcute and locked it in the active for three turns with a Seismitoad-EX, setting up behind it. I couldn't draw into my second Guzma during that time, and couldn't advance my board state with a hand full of items, allowing him to push a big lead on to me.

Round 6 L VS Rudy Vargas w/Sceptile-GX/Vileplume

Round 7 WW VS Brent Stokes w/Gardevoir-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX

Round 8 WLW VS Jeffery Garza w/Zoroark-GX/Garbodor

Round 9 WLW VS Ely Greenfeld w/Vespiquen

Going into day two at 6-2-1

Round 10 LL VS Joe Ruetigger w/Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX

Round 11 LWW VS Connor Finton w/Primal Groudon-EX

I lost game one of this series because I opened Wobbuffet and could not set up anything behind it. In games two and three I knocked out Wobbuffets over and over again. When my opponent would bench a Groudon-EX, I'd hit into it with Guzma before it could evolve, that way if it ever came up I could knock it out with an Energy Drive. Even when a fresh Groudon-EX would come up, I'd burn the stadium with something like Field Blower, disrupt the opponent with Red Card or N, and hit with Energy Drive. 

Round 12 WLW VS Andrew Scott w/Zoroark-GX/Garbodor

Round 13 WLW VS Ross Cawthon w/Vespiquen

Round 14 WLW VS Jose Marrero w/Blastoise

Round 15 WLW VS Hale Obernolte w/Blastoise

Going into top 8 at 8th seed 11-3-1

Top 8 WLW VS Kyle Pallman w/Blastoise

Top 4 WLL VS Dean Nezam w/Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX

This series I was on stream and just had slower starts than the rest of the event unfortunately. 



Zoroark-GX/Garbodor - Even

I say this matchup is even because obviously, it's the same deck; however, this list is actually built with the mirror in mind. If your opponent has tried to play the Trashalanche Garbodor, I believe that you have a noticeable advantage from consistency. Your game plan in this matchup is to get out Trubbish and Sudowoodo on turn one. You want to limit your opponents options as quickly as possible. Then, you take a turn to simply lock down your opponent with Red Card and Garbotoxin with Klefki, and take a big knockout. You finish by streaming ability lock and taking a knockout on the most relevant threat every turn. Some neat things you can do in this matchup are hunt down your opponent's Garbodors under Sudowoodo lock, and bait out your opponent's Field Blowers by putting one tool into play during the set up phase. The most valuable resources in this matchup are Choice Bands, Field Blowers, and Red Cards.


Zoroark-GX/Seismitoad-EX - Unfavoured

I mentioned this earlier when talking about Pokemon Ranger, but the main goal in this matchup when you don't have Pokemon Ranger or Oranguru / Bunnelby, is to just be as agressive as possible. Ability lock aggressively, Red Card aggressively, and take as many prizes as you can before your opponent turns on the lock. An interesting option in this matchup is to play Colress or N, then withold from using Trade, to keep Double Colorless Energy out of your hand to protect yourself from Team Skull Grunt. The most valuable resources in this matchup are Double Colorless Energies, Sky Fields, and Guzmas.


Drampa-GX/Garbodor - Favoured

This matchup is one where you need to be very patient. If you don't play down cards like Sky Field and Double Colorless Energy, your opponent can't burn those resources. In this matchup, you want to hold out until you have everything in hand that you need to take a crucial knockout before playing any of the cards. It is also important to thin out dead cards and conserve draw supporters to improve your chances of drawing what you need off of a late game N. Another mistake people often make in this matchup is using Field Blower on Garbodor to draw extra cards. If you use Field Blower without knocking out the Garbodor, your opponent can simply turn the lock back on with a new tool. It is better to knock out your opponent's Garbodor over and over again to keep it out of play. Your opponent only has so many ways to recover their Garbodor and if they keep evolving the Trubbish into Garbotoxin Garbodors they will eventually not have a lot of outs to Trashalance Garbodor. By following this game plan you prevent your opponent from getting value out of Ns, getting value out of Parallel Cities, putting on the pressure with Drampa-GX, and hitting good numbers with Trashalanche, which are all of the ways in which your opponent is trying to win the matchup. The most valuable resources in this matchup are VS Seekers, Double Colorless Energies, and Sky Fields.


Blastoise/Magikarp & Wailord-GX - Even

So this matchup is very simple. You want to put Wobbuffet into the active before your opponent gets more than three energy on a Wailord. Then you lock them down with Garbotoxin, and play Guzma to knockout Blastoise, or play Guzma to hit into a Wailord that is close to attacking. If your opponent benches a two prize Pokemon like Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX, you can also win the game by taking a two hit knockout on a Wailord for three prizes, then finshing with a knockout on a Shaymin-EX or Tapu Lele-GX, and a Blastoise. It is worth nothing that if your opponent goes first and manages to get four to six Water energy on to their Wailord, it is still worth going into your Wobbuffet to give you a turn to evolve your Zoruas before your opponent uses Towering Splash GX. An interesting way to take games in this matchup is to save your Field Blower for your opponent's Choice Bands, that way they are trading two hit knockouts for two hit knockouts against your Zoroark-GXs. Blastoise can also be very susceptible to Delinquent, as they often need to play their hand out to advance their board. The most valuable resources in this matchup are Field Blowers, Klefkis, and VS Seekers.


Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX - Favoured

This is probably the matchup where your deck just does its basic game plan the most often. You simply want to take knockuts on whatever the biggest threat is, and disrupt your opponent with Sudowoodo, Garbodor, and Red Card. Of course you need to be mindful of Mind Jack Zoroark but usually, you are going to have to extend for the full bench knockouts anyways, then just disrupt your opponent so that you take prizes faster and more consistently than they do. Interesting options you have in this matchup are to pressure their Alolan Muk line to force them to stay at four benched Pokemon, and to hold off on playing Double Colorless Energy and Choice Band when you do not need to, to take away their option to run you out of resources with Faba and Bunnelby / Oranguru. The most valuable resources in this matchup are Red Cards, Choice Bands, and Rescue Stretchers. 

Closing Thoughts

This concludes the run down of my thoughts while going into and participating in the Dallas Regional Championships. I have not yet started testing the expanded format with the addition of the new Team Up set; however, my initial reaction is that it will not change much. Dangerous Drill is an interesting new option for the deck, but I don't think that being able to remove a special energy will be enough to replace the consistency of Field Blower in a meta dominated by Garbotoxin. 

If you have any questions feel free to contact me on Twitter @Flying_Corpses or on Facebook. 

Next up for me is Collinsville as I try to ride the wave of this new found success. See you there! 

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