Hello Pokémon fans, welcome to the first of many articles for Ludkins Collectables on the competitive side of the ever-growing and expanding Pokémon Trading Card Game! Here I'll share with you my run to Top 4 at the Cataclysm Games League Cup with Espeon GX/Garbodor and my thoughts about the deck going
Firstly a brief introduction about myself. I've always been a fan of Pokémon since watching the very first episode broadcast in the UK during the late 90s, and when the popular mobile game Pokémon GO came out in July 2016 my Poképassion was reignited, and I've pretty much since been obsessed with everything Pikachu!
My love for Pokémon has even gone as so far that I've started my own YouTube channel and Facebook page, co-organised charity events for local Pokémon GO players, judged as a professor at Birmingham Regionals, and as of last week I've begun to host a weekly Pokémon League right here in (sometimes) sunny Eastbourne!
I first started competing in the small and local Pokémon TCG events in the south of England since last November, and I decided to go straight in at the deep end by having my first big event being the International Championships at the ExCeL Centre, London just before Christmas. Needless to say I was out of my depth a bit and I think I was pleased finishing with five wins at the end of the day with my first competitive deck, Volcanion EX!
Fast forward to July 2017, I've competed in a three further large events and half a dozen League Cups, with the most success coming in those smaller local tournaments, having won one and placing second three times, all with a similar Volcanion EX deck. Despite not having any success at the larger Regional and International events, I was thrilled to have earned just over 200 Championship Points (CP) in my debut season, knowing that if I kept improving and raising my game, I would stand a good chance to earn a place at the Pokémon World Championships in Memphis, USA next August.
Cataclysm Games League Cup Report - 10/9/2017
September rolled around and due to work and other commitments I've only been able to attend Liverpool Regionals and one League Cup, both of which I performed poorly at. Despite not performing well with my Greninja BREAK deck at the Mad for Miniatures League Cup in Truro, I enjoyed thoroughly playing with a new deck and was keen to not be so reliant on Volcanion, so I decided to bring a deck that has proven itself recently at many tournaments to my next League Cup in Gillingham, Espeon GX/Garbodor.
Thanks to my PlaySkape Games teammate Ryan Northcott, I had plenty of time to practice and get the feel of the deck on the run up to the Cup. The beauty of the deck is that it takes advantage of a lot of decks that rely on heavy item counts (Trashalanche Garbodor which does more 20 damage times the amount of items your opponent has played) and abilities (Garbotoxin Garbodor which turns off abilities when a tool is attached to it), which is quite a large part of the tournament meta at the moment, with decks such as Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt, Metagross GX and Volcanion EX/Turtonator GX being very popular.
Round 1 vs Ryan Northcott (Gardevoir GX/Sylveon GX) – LWD
Just my luck, the first League Cup both myself and Ryan compete in together this season and we end up being paired against each other in the first round despite there being 24 Masters! Ryan was playing his own version of the popular and newest “best deck in the format” Gardevoir GX deck that used 2 Sylveon GX's to help search for cards at the start with the Magical Ribbon attack, making it tougher for your opponent to stall/Guzma lock you in the active with the Fairy Garden stadium, and using Sylveon's Plea GX attack to bounce back two benched Pokémon to the opponents hand, slowing them down.
From testing together, we both knew each others decks inside-out and like often in testing, our match was extremely close. I can't remember the exact details but we exchanged games before time being called in the third game with us both at around 3 prize cards left each. A draw was definitely not the worst thing for us!
Round 2 vs Matthew Hall (Gardevoir GX) – LL
For Round 2 I was paired up against Matthew who was playing in only his second tournament. Despite this, and being visibly nervous, he played the deck extremely well for a newer player and ended up taking a long first Game 1 where we ended up in a top-deck situation with 1 prize left each.
I knew I had to play quickly to have any chance to win two games in the time left on the round so I stupidly shortened my usual shuffling routine. This punished me big time in the next game as after my opening usual deck search, I noticed that both my only two Trashalanche Garbodor were in my prize cards! I wasn't able to take enough early KO's with Espeon GX and quickly lost the game.
Round 3 vs Simon Smith (Gardevoir GX) – WW
Now being at a 0-1-1 record, I knew that I needed to win my next three games to stand any chance of making the cut (Top 8 players) so I was slightly relieved when my third round opponent, Simon Smith, had admitted during the first game that he submitted a pre-rotation list and was running somewhere in the region of 15-20 fairy energies in the deck after having to replace out-of-format cards. Despite this, he managed to set up decently in the first game and almost won just on the strength of Gardevoir GX and the draw support from Octillery alone. Game 2 was a much smoother affair for me and I was happy to at last have my first win on the board.
I had a nice chat with Simon during the game and I was thrilled to hear that his son, Freddie Smith, is currently the number one Junior in the world on CP, and had already earned his invite for the 2018 World Championships! An incredible achievement considering the season is barely two months old!
Round 4 vs Azeem Lone (Metagross GX) – LWW
I had yet had the chance to test Espeon GX/Garbodor against the powerful Metagross GX deck so I had no idea what to expect coming in to this match against strong London-based player Azeem. Thankfully I knew that Metagross GX relies heavily on its Geotech System ability to attach multiple energies so getting out Garbotoxin Garbodor helped initially, however multiple counts of Field Blower and Max Potion helped him greatly and he managed to take a very very close Game 1 right at the end.
I can't remember exactly what happened in Game 2, but he was unable to Brigette for his Beldum's and I took it quickly. In Game 3 he had another awful start, wasn't able to get a turn 1 Brigette and I was able to use Tapu Lele GX to donk him and complete the reverse sweep after he left an energy on Alolan Vulpix after being able to find any Pokémon for his bench.
Round 5 vs Seb Symonds (Xerneas BREAK) - WLW
From being 0-1-1 down earlier, I now just required one more win to make it into the top cut. Unfortunately Seb a multiple Worlds player and member of Team Athena stood in my way with his scary Xerneas BREAK deck which I hadn't faced at an event before. I was extremely fortunate that he was playing a version without Field Blower or Fairy Garden so I was able to put down an early Parallel City to limit his bench space, and Garbotoxin Garbodor to stop him using Tapu Lele GX's Wonder Tag ability to get crucial supporters.
I won Game 1 easily by setting up well, he won Game 2 easily by setting up well. Game 3 I was fortunate again to get an early Parallel City reducing his options and using Espeon's Divide GX attack to spread damage around on his Xerneas's helping with Psychic KO's later in the game. In the end Game 3 was a comfortable win for me and I was thrilled to have finished swiss with a 3-1-1 record and to have made it into the top cut. I was guaranteed my first CP of the season!
Top 8 decks after the five swiss rounds:
1 - Anthony Horn - Espeon GX /Garbodor
2 - Matthew Hall - Gardevoir GX
3 - Bolly Olufon - Ho-Oh GX / Salazzle GX
4 - Karl Blake - Xerneas BREAK
5 - Alex Dao - Xerneas BREAK
6 - Scot Symonds - Xerneas BREAK
7 - Stephen Kent (Me!) - Espeon GX / Garbodor
8 - Max Fox - Greninja BREAK
Top 8 vs Matthew Hall (Gardevoir GX) - WLW
As often happens in League Cups, I ended up facing an opponent I played earlier in the swiss rounds, and this time it was Matthew again with his powerful and consistent Gardevoir GX deck. I can't remember much of the first two games except that we both drew pretty awfully and they were quite close.
In Game 3 I made a huge mistake by attaching Choice Band to the wrong Pokémon when I could of got a KO on the active Tapu Lele GX with my Sylveon GX. Thankfully this wasn't punished but the match went right to time due to this error, and I was fortunate to be just ahead on prizes after we played our three additional turns.
Top 4 vs Bolly Olufon (Ho-Oh GX/Salazzle GX) – LWL
After the awful start to the tournament, every win now felt like a bonus and I was excited to play against a deck that didn't use fairy Pokémon for a change! Alongside Espeon GX and a few others, I have also been testing with the new Ho-Oh GX/Salazzle GX deck and I was looking forward to the match against another strong London player Bolly, who had recently beaten me at Liverpool Regionals.
Despite pile shuffling twice, I had possibly my worst ever competitive Pokémon opening hand and was forced to Professor Sycamore away three Double Colorless Energies (DCEs) to give me any chance to win that game. Two turns later Bolly uses an unexpected Enhanced Hammer to discard my only other DCE from my Espeon GX and he won that game easily. Game 2 I set up very well and took crucial early KO's with Guzma and a very well fed Garbodor.
Game 3 was extremely close and despite me feeling like I was in a very good place, the game went right down to the last couple prize cards and a top decking situation where I was unable to get enough Garbodors out to attack with and my opponent smashed me with a use Salazzle GX attack to win game and match. I found out next day that Bolly had gone on to beat Greninja in the final to win the whole Cup so I wasn't too sad that I lost to the champion playing my favourite new deck!
Overall I'm extremely pleased with how the Espeon GX/Garbodor deck performed throughout, despite being swarmed with slightly unfavourable Gardevoir GX match-ups during the day. The only change I might make if I was to play the deck again is possibly bringing in another Trashalanche Garbodor in place of the second Garbotoxin one. I did find myself missing it more than I was expecting, but almost guaranteeing a Turn 2 or 3 ability lock with having two Garbotoxins in the deck is never a bad thing in a heavy Tapu Bulu/Metagross/Volcanion meta.
Going forward, at least until the Garbotoxin Garbodor rotates out of the standard format next September, I feel that many decks will continue to utilise these powerful trash Pokémon, and that the Espeon GX version, alongside the Drampa GX and Golisopod GX varients, will remain powerful forces in the meta and will definitely take a few placings top cut placings at the upcoming Regionals and the huge International Championships in London this November.
Big thanks go out to team Omnipoke for the Espeon GX/Garbodor list which I played this tournament, Ray and the staff at Cataclysm Games for hosting an excellently smooth and well-organised League Cup, and teammate Ryan for accompanying me and the long hours of testing leading up to this event.
With 32 CP on the board, and still another 218 required to qualify for Worlds, there is no time for rest as I focus my efforts on the big Bremen Regionals in Germany this weekend, where I'm aiming to finally take the next big step as a competitive Pokémon player and earn some points at an event larger than a League Cup! I'm still uncertain which deck I will be playing, but its comforting to know that I can play, and get some results with a deck other than Volcanion EX!
If you enjoyed reading this article as much I loved writing it, please do check out my PlaySkape Games YouTube Channel where I do event reports, unboxings, PSA returns and more, as well as my Facebook Page where I post regular updates and photos from my travels, as well as the latest and exciting Pokémon TCG news! Until next time Pokémon trainers!
Stephen Kent ~ PlaySkape Games
Espeon GX / Garbodor Standard Format Deck List:
## Pokémon - 18
* 3 Eevee SUM 101
* 1 Tapu Koko PR-SM SM30
* 3 Espeon-GX SUM 61
* 3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
* 4 Trubbish BKP 56
* 2 Garbodor GRI 51
* 2 Garbodor BKP 57
## Trainer Cards - 30
* 4 N PR-BLW BW100
* 2 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 4 Professor Sycamore BKP 107
* 2 Brigette BKT 134
* 2 Field Blower GRI 125
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 2 Parallel City BKT 145
* 3 Choice Band GRI 121
* 4 Float Stone BKT 137
* 4 Ultra Ball FAC 113
## Energy - 12
* 4 Double Colorless Energy
* 8 Psychic Energy