Reporting Back from the London Pokemon International Championships
Hello everyone and welcome to another article for Flipside Gaming. First off I want to apologise for the lack of content I have been able to add to the website over the past few weeks, University work has been at its peak for the term leading up to this past weekend and unfortunately I haven’t had the time to be able to write an article I thought was worthy of publishing. Due to this I decided to wait until my Uni schedule had settled down and the European International Championships had passed in order to have a good solid topic of conversation.
With that said, and the fact there will be articles all about Tord’s fantastic second Internats win all over the place over the next few days, I would like to save my discussion and analysis of Tord’s list for my next article and in fact take a look at my own journey the weekend with Gardevoir-GX that lead to me getting 68th place in the largest event Europe has seen to date. I also want to take a look at the differences between my own list and the infamous “Broken” list that received a lot of talk and play over this past weekend.
Leading up to the event I was pretty panicked about what to play, testing huge amounts of Buzzwole variants, Drampa Garbodor and Golisopod Garbodor. I was almost certain I wouldn’t be playing Gardevoir simply because it had such a huge target on its head going into the event, knowing that everyone and their dog would know exactly what to do in the matchup to win. However, it wasn’t until the Wednesday before the tournament that after playing Gardevoir on stream (links below) for around 3 hours overall I realised that it was in fact just an incredibly strong deck, whether it had a target on its head or not. I was set on 58 cards within the deck which gave me the Thursday whilst travelling down to London to decide on the last 2 slots.
Most of the list is fairly standard and there aren’t too many crazy decisions but there are definitely a couple of points I’d like to address about the list that may seem like glaring omissions or weaknesses of the deck.
No Mr. Mime:
Mr. Mime seemed to be an auto inclusion leading up to London as Buzzwole looked like it was going to be a dominant force coming into the metagame. However, both the more I tested Buzzwole itself and against Gardevoir mirrors, the less value I seemed to find Mime had. Buzzwole seemed to struggle against Garbodor archetypes on the whole which reduced the power level of the deck, meaning that I expected to see no more than 1 round of Buzzwole on the day. This along with the fact that against Buzzwole, taking up a slot on the bench with Mime meant that there was often 1 less Ralts on the board, leading to you being less vulnerable to the snipe damage but more vulnerable to Guzma since they could leave you with 1 less Ralts on the board that you would usually have. When then factoring in the fact the card was completely dead in the mirror, I decided I’d take the risk and cut the Mime in favour of another tech card. This meant I was naturally a little weaker to Tapu Koko and Latios but again I felt the overall value of the card wasn’t particularly high. It turns out on the day I didn’t see a single Buzzwole and was never Flying Flipped, so am super happy with this last minute decision.
Oranguru over Octillery:
Octillery has become an incredibly good draw option post rotation without Shaymin in format anymore and both the Beacon version and the Sylveon versions of Gardevoir often included this draw option as a late game N counter. However, the 1-1 line always meant that prizing one piece of the line was often very painful. Having to expend an Ultra Ball for the Octillery too was also often a resource you wanted to save for Gardevoir or Tapu Lele. The fact Sylveon evolves through an ability/Energy attachment means that the resources required to get this Stage 1 out are far less than the Octillery line, which is why I decided to keep the Sylveon-GX line in. However, despite only netting up to 3 cards per turn, Oranguru was a good replacement for Octillery, whilst also being a decent back up attacker and saving me a slot on the whole, again which went towards a consistency card.
Double Potion, Double Parallel:
My mirror techs for the day were 2 copies each of Max Potion and Parallel City. With the hype backing the infamous “Broken” deck beginning to leak and the list being revealed to be Gardevoir with 4 Max Potions, I decided to take a look back at the older lists me and Joe Bernard had initially made of Gardevoir and tried to mimic the build with 2 Max Potion from way back before Worlds 2017. Max Potions and Acerolas were constantly flipped in and out of the list in various counts but finally I settled on the Potions build in order to still have the utility of being able to use a Supporter in the same turn. This meant that I was sacrificing some energy in a lot of scenarios in which Acerola wouldn’t, but my general strategy of the deck at this point changed into trying to 2-shot things with 1-2 Energy rather than go for big KOs in the mirror, overcommitting to singular attackers that would just be responded on. The second copy of Parallel City also was useful, not only for prize denial in the late game but for disruption in the early game. With 2 copies, it meant I was often the first person to get Parallel down in the mirror, sometimes even on turn 1 which really hurt opposing turn 1 Brigettes. This was useful in more than just the mirror but definitely helped in the mirror the most.
Round 1: Mewtwo-GX/Lunala-GX – Christina Podzimkova (2-1)
Considering this was the least meta archetype of the 9 I faced during the day, this was without a doubt one of the more nerve-wracking series. My initial opening hand was a singular Tapu Lele-GX and nothing else in sight so I lost a very quick game 1, but games 2 and 3 were much better set up wise. I was able to get a Turn 2 Sylveon both games and my opponent used Mewtwo’s GX attack to KO the Sylveon immediately too. This meant that for the rest of the game there were no real attackers for my opponent to use, leading Gardevoir to just overpower anything for the rest of the game.
Round 2: Silvally-GX/Metals – Anthony Vale (2-0)
When my opponent turned over the Registeel to my lone Ralts, I knew this may be where the day started to go downhill. Obviously this was a pretty unfavourable matchup but the fact that Silvally is weak to Fighting means that Gallade can get serious value in the matchup. Tapu Lele and Gallade are by far the best attackers in the matchup and that was what I had to focus on overall. Lele can deal a huge chunk to Celesteela-GX and Gallade can also 1 shot a Magearna with a Choice Band so knowing this I had to just manage my attackers well and avoid setting up Gardevoir-GX unless this led to me winning the game on the same turn.
Round 3: Silvally-GX/Metals – Grafton Roll (2-0)
The second Metal matchup on the bounce, I didn’t feel that I could do much more than in the previous round in order to try and overcome this inherently bad matchup. This game was streamed so I won’t go over too much as the video is on both Twitch and Youtube for you guys to watch but inherently I think Grafton got pretty unlucky overall as whenever he N’d me I was able to at least draw out of this somewhat and try and find what I want to continue staying in the game. Again Tapu Lele and Gallade were by far the MVPs of the day and really helped me throughout the series. I felt super bad for Grafton after this but at the end of the day luck is a part of the game and he played as best he could given how well I was drawing.
Round 4: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX – Ulisses Marques (0-2)
As mentioned earlier, the overall strategy for me in the mirror was to try and tank hits and get value out of Max Potion as much as I could to try and outlast the damage of opposing Gardevoirs or force them to overcommit in order to be able to expend less energy taking them down in response. However unfortunately for both of these games I managed to have both of my Max Potions in the bottom 10 cards of the deck, meaning I never really had the outs to the mirror match. I feel I played the matchup overall pretty well but unfortunately without the Max Potions, I was often on the back foot overall.
Round 5: Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX – Tord Reklev (0-2)
This was the first time I had ever played against Tord and I knew whatever he would be playing it would be a difficult game. I expected to be seeing Drampa-GX/Garbodor deck but he instead brought the combination of Zoroark-GX and Golisopod-GX to the table which on reflection have found to be a fairly even matchup. However unfortunately in my first game with him I started with a lone Ralts and never got much more set up than that. This meant that I didn’t really know what to expect going into game 2 and fell flat on my face when seeing his double Enhanced Hammer/4 Puzzle of Time combo, pretty much guaranteeing I could never keep a Double Colourless Energy on the board. This led to a pretty speedy 2-0 from him, expertly showing why he is a deserving double Internats winner, navigating the matchup perfectly.
Round 6: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor – Tony Richer (2-0)
Initially, back when I played Gardevoir in Bremen, I felt Golisopod-GX/Garbodor was a pretty unfavourable matchup. But after testing with the deck itself I found it often loses to its own board set up in the later stages of the game as the deck has no real reliable draw engine. With that said, in both of these games my strategy was to let my opponent go ahead and take a few prizes, whilst setting up two relatively big Gardevoirs that would be able to deal around 180-210 damage each. Then, in combination with a late game N and Ability lock from their own Garbodor, I would try to take 3-4 KOs before they could draw out of their own Ability lock. This worked perfectly in the first game, I went down 5 Prizes, and then N’d my opponent whilst he had Garbotoxin online and proceeded to hope that I could take all 6 of my own Prizes before he found a Guzma or Field Blower as well as out to Tapu Lele-GX. I went for the same stragegy in the second game and whilst he only had taken 4 Prizes this time, I managed to set up 3 Gardevoirs and took advantage of Max Potion in order to avoid losing my last 2 Prizes.
Round 7: Ho-oh-GX/Salazzle-GX – Samuel Saunders (2-0)
A friend from my local league, I wasn’t sure what Sam was playing but I knew it would be a fun game either way. Unfortunately for him, Fire variants are definitely one of my stronger matchups, and I was able to set up a Gardevoir pretty quickly to respond to his first turn Kiawe in both games. This accompanied with some pretty rough draws from him meant that he could never really set up a situation where Salazzle-GX was strong enough to do much damage and therefore I was able to deal with his Energy stacked Pokemon pretty quickly overall.
Round 8: Metagross-GX/Solgaleo-GX – Jose Marrero (0-2)
The most autoloss of autolosses, in the past this been winnable with the inclusion of Sylveon-GX to Plea away Metagross/Metang once they have set up but Jose was also playing a Magearna-EX that prevents all effects of attacks to anything with a Metal attached to it, meaning Plea does absolutely nothing to his board at all. This series pretty much went as expected with that in mind and as soon as a Metagross was established it was pretty much impossible to win from that point. It was great meeting another established US player though.
Round 9: Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX – Sameer Sangwan (2-0)
My win-and-on to top 128 was another Gardevoir mirror and this went exactly how I was hoping it would overall. I had tested the mirror a lot as I have mentioned and this time I was able to find my Max Potions when I wanted them which really helped overall. Unfortunately, my opponent wasn’t able to draw particularly well overall either which definitely aided my win but that is one of the risks of a Stage 2 deck and after experiencing it myself easrlier on the day I could understand his frustration. However, I do feel I knew the matchup well and navigated it to the point where I feel the win was deserved nonetheless.
The final thing I want to talk about today is the future of Gardevoir on the whole. As you can see I played against 3 decks throughout the day that aimed to specifically counter Gardevoir, both the old school style build and the “Broken” build, as well as second place going to a Metal based deck too. Despite it only finishing in the top 4 in London, I think that Gardevoir still remains the best deck in format, and minor changes such as a second Gallade and third Max Potion actually keep the deck competitive with each of the other top tier archetypes right now, such as Golisopod Zoroark and Silvally Metal. I think the heavy Max Potion build is on the whole a slightly stronger deck than the Sylveon version and personally for the next few League Cups I play, I will be trying out this version of the deck to see in comparison which I prefer. Besides, with all this Metal support coming out in Ultra Prism, I want to make use out of my Gardevoirs before they find their home in in the back of my binder come February!
Thanks for reading about my weekend in London, hopefully I have provided a little more insight as to playing Gardevoir and my thought process behind my decisions. Apologies again for the lack of content over the past few weeks but like I say unfortunately the real world took over a little bit so had to hang back on Pokemon for a while but hopefully I’ll be back into a good routine now! Make sure you check out Omnipoke for all the latest updates post-London, we stream at least once a week and aim to upload a couple of videos a week too!
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