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Pojo's Pokemon Site - MonsterOfTheLake's Lake - Dearth of Dark and Metal in HP-On Pojo's Pokemon Site - MonsterOfTheLake's Lake - Saga of Sets
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MonsterOfTheLake's Lake

08-31-2010
The Era of Gardevoir

"The success of the deck stemmed from the fact that two powerful stage twos each evolve from the same stage one. This leaves the deck with enough space to fit everything it needs: counters to Crystal Beach & Cessation Crystal (in 2008), Claydol, and another stage two line (such as DP Dusknoir, or in 2010, Nidoqueen or Machamp), which is easily accessed with Gardevoir's Telepass. After taking out whatever threat it faced with Gallade's Psychic Cut, the remainder of most games involved hand disruption (either Team Galactic's Wager or Judge) with a simultaneous Psychic Lock. Without Cosmic Power, decks struggled against this attack, and would not be able to develop enough responses to the Gardevoirs which continue to evolve easily through Telepass." -- Jason "Ness" Klaczynski, 2006 & 2008 World Champion

"Gardy was thought of as a dead deck when DCE came out. But when a card is that good, testing and the results you get with it will always be positive." -- Michael Pramawat, 2010 Worlds Runner-Up

"No deck in a long time has consistently had an out vs literally every single deck: a Turn 2 Psychic Lock and disruption can and will literally win any game." -- Mikey Fouchet, 2008 US Nationals 3rd Place

"Never has there been a deck that has caused more "scoops" on its second turn of the game." -- Sebastian Crema, 2009 Worlds 7th Place

"I hope this card burns in hell" -- Kyle "Pooka" Sucevich, 2009 US National Champion

"Gardevoir showed how strong it was by adapting to three different formats and being dominant in all of them. It's unlikely that we'll ever see another card that strikes as much fear into opponents as this one." -- Kyle "Pooka" Sucevich, 2010 US Nationals 3rd Place

"Gardevoir truly showed how good it was when it carried Michael Pramawat, former winless competitor and sportsmanship award winner at Worlds 2004, to a second place finish in this year's World Championship. If that's not impressive, I don't know what is." -- Kyle "Pooka" Sucevich, Quotation Machine

"Telepass me a glass of the good stuff" -- Martin Moreno, 2006 US National Champion

"Gardevoir/Gallade is the winningest deck in the cumulative history of all modified formats." -- John Kettler, founder of HeyTrainer

"Never break the lock" -- Omar Izaguirre, 2009 Florida Regional Champion

Diamond & Pearl: Secret Wonders was released in November 7th, 2007 in the United States. Unlike the Japanese releases, the US (and the rest of the world) received Gardevoir, Gardevoir Lv.X and Gallade in one set. The synergy was obvious: two amazing Stage 2s, both able to attack with Psychic Energy despite being different types, and both evolving from the same line. Gardevoir being able to support both consistency and denial, while having a ready main-hitter in the exact same line, was simply amazing.

Long story short, Gardevoir -- no longer Modified-legal beginning September 1st -- ended up winning the 2008 Worlds and almost nearly did it again in 2010, with Michael Pramawat of the US losing to Japan's Yuta Komatsuda on Game 3 on two topdecks in a very close final. In the 2008 US Nationals, the top 4 decks in masters were three Gardevoirs and a solitary Torterra. The deck won numerous SPTs, Regionals, and Nationals. Even more amazingly, it did this over a three-year period.

How did Gardevoir manage to keep winning, despite a power creep that saw the introduction of cards doing 60 or more damage for a single Energy? Didn't people finally figure out how to play against it by 2010, almost three years after its release?

Gardevoir SW, the heart of the deck, only had 110 HP, and its lone attack did an increasingly pitiful 60, which went from being reasonable in the 2007-08 format to downright low by 2009-10. However, the effect of Psychic Lock ended up dominating various formats. This dominance is explained mostly by the "engines" of decks during the period -- unlike a Holon engine, or Professor Oak/Computer Search/Item Finder based trainer line, the draw power from 2008 to 2010 was mainly handled by Claydol GE and Uxie LA, both utilizing Pokémon Powers in order to draw cards. Thus, Gardevoir's Psychic Lock had a brutal denial effect on the opponent, locking their draw and leaving them reliant on topdecking the cards they need.

This article will look at the various variants of the deck that popped up over the three formats the deck existed.

Gardevoir SW
The card that made it to two Worlds finals

2007-08: Season of Gardevoir


Gardevoir was, as mentioned above, released in November 2007. Thus, the first competitive tournaments that the deck would see play in were the City Championships in winter.

Absol SW The very first variants of the deck were vanilla Gardevoir/Gallade and a version that added Absol SW to the mix, aiming for extra disruption with Absol's Baleful Wind. In a metagame of Blissey variants, Magmortar/Typhlosion, Feraligatr and Honchkrow/Absol, Gardelade proved its dominance in its very first tournaments, taking over 75 1st Places (Blissey variants were the second winningest, with a mere 19 wins). Gardevoir had hit the scene, and with some aplomb.

States (S/P/Ts) saw the first true Psychic Lock Gardevoir variants -- Florida calling the version "Plox," much to the vexation of some -- hit the metagame. These Gardevoir lists were more focused than the Cities variants, with consistency and an early Psychic Lock (which would be kept up until the end of the game) being the main goal. The main tech for the S/P/Ts was Blastoise d, for the mirror match-up and handling Gardevoir counters (Psychic types that threatened a quick knockout, such as Banette SW), with its Shield Veil Poké-Body getting rid of Gardevoir's dangerous +30 Psychic weakness.

Furret SW For consistency, even though Claydol GE -- the draw engine of almost every single deck in the past three formats -- had already been released, most Gardevoir variants went with Furret SW. Despite being a Stage 1, its costless Keen Eye attack warranted its inclusion: Searching your deck for any two cards and putting them in your hand. In the mirror match-up, Furret also allowed you to set up under power lock, with Keen Eye not being affected by an early Psychic Lock.

Pachirisu GE, Rare Candy, Celio's Network, and Double Rainbow Energy were maxed in almost all builds for consistency, along with 2-3 Steven's Advice. 3-4 Team Galactic's Wager would ensure a stronger lock. 6 Psychic Energy, 3 Scramble Energy, and 4 DRE would be the default Energy line, along with a few Fighting Energies in most builds.

A tech utilized during the S/P/Ts was Feraligatr MT. Despite the apparent lack of synergy, the idea behind it was to counter the popular Magmortar. It was soon abandoned afterward, although its impact would last: the 1/0/1 Feraligatr line would be the first of many 1/0/1 Stage 2 Techs that appeared in Gardevoir lists over the seasons, such as Dusknoir DP and Nidoqueen RI.

By Regionals, Gardevoir was undisputably the best deck in the format, and it became a matter of whether play or counter Gardevoir. Magmortar was heavily diminished, and Banette started seeing heavy play by players who didn't want to play such a dominant deck.

Jirachi ex Regionals saw the introduction of Dusknoir DP and Claydol GE into Gardevoir variants, virtually all emphasizing an early and consistent Power Lock. Pachirisu was cut to 3 in some builds, for the inclusion of Tauros CG -- which featured an inferior 2-Basic Call For Family attack, but had a Pokémon Power that discarded the Stadium in play, to get rid of the troublesome Crystal Beach that started seeing heavy play.

Eric Craig won Florida Regionals -- one of the toughest metagames in the US -- with a Jirachi ex in his Gardevoir list, a future inclusion in almost every single Gardevoir list later in the year. Jirachi ex's Shield Beam was effectively a cheaper Psychic Lock, allowing Gardevoir to set up the power lock even earlier and more consistently. Its Psychic type and lack of weakness made it amazing in the mirror match-up, which were based not on getting Gallades to one-shot the opposing Gardevoirs, but building as many Gardevoirs as possible, and keeping up the Psychic Lock. Giving your opponent a turn in the mirror was a huge liability, and Gallade was thus reserved for other match-ups, with the mirror based on Psychic Locks and Shield Beams.

Past Regionals, Magmortar was dead, and Gardevoir was unrivaled. The arrival of Majestic Dawn had intrigued many, with Leafeon Lv.X and Glaceon Lv.X leading to talks of a new Eeveelutions archetype. However, it would be Empoleon MD that would ultimately become an archetype.

For Gardevoir, Majestic Dawn offered consistency, in the form of Call Energy. While Pachirisu's Call for Family and Smash Short were highly effective attacks, attaching an Energy on Pachirisu would mean a later Psychic Lock. With Call Energy, starting with a Ralts and a Call Energy threatened a Turn 2 Psychic Lock or Psychic Cut, thanks to Double Rainbow Energy.

In Nationals, Gardevoir was intensely dominant. Empoleon MD, while having the ability to increasingly build damage on multiple targets with Dual Splash and get multiple knock-outs, simply could not beat Gardevoir in 30 minute rounds. The rogue Blissey/Banette (endearingly called "Sausage") got as far as 12th Place (Jimmy Ballard), Colin Moll's Torterra even made Top 4, but the rest of the cut was dominated by Gardevoir.

Cessation CrystalNationals saw a new variant of Gardevoir, utilizing Cessation Crystal, which allowed the deck to attack with Gallade, while still keeping a lock. The downside of this would be locking your own Powers, leaving you crippled as well. Despite this, the deck was successful: Mikey Fouchet got 3rd Place in Masters with such a build.

The winner was Gino Lombardi, who got 2nd to Eric Craig in Florida Regionals. His Gardevoir build was focused on the mirror, with a tech Breloom SW. Breloom SW's Homing Uppercut, doing 120 damage to any Pokémon with no Retreat Cost, comboed with both Phoebe's Stadium and Moonlight Stadium, both of which would give Gardevoir free Retreat.

Then came Worlds.

Due to Gardevoir's stranglehold on the metagame, PUI enacted a measure that would extend rounds to 40 minutes. Gardevoir, which never needed to pick up 6 Prizes, but could simply keep up a strong lock all game and win by a prize or two, was the clear target of this round limit increase.

Jolteon* Not only was Gardevoir hurt by this the longer rounds, they also benefitted Gardevoir's main rival: Empoleon/Bronzong. Empoleon could now spread more damage, and Gardevoir simply could not deal with an early Dual Splash, which would quickly add up to multiple knock-outs. Bronzong MD could survive a Psychic Lock, and keep the spread going. Overall, Empoleon/Bronzong would finally be a deck that could not just keep up with Gardevoir, but beat it.

However, despite Alex Brosseau going undefeated in both the Grinder and the Swiss rounds with Empoleon/Bronzong, he'd lose in Top 32, John Silvestro would lose to Jason himself in Top 16, and Jimmy O'Brien would Top 4 with the deck. Empoleon/Bronzong, despite being equal to or better than Gardevoir, would not even make it to the final. "Meatloaf" (Leafeon Lv.X/Magmortar SW), a rogue played by several players, would bomb horribly. Blissey variants would turn out to do well, due to Gardevoirs focusing more on mirror rather than defend against Cessation Crystal and Crystal Beach.

Ultimately, the winner would be Jason "Ness" Klaczynski, who'd become the first two-time World Champion, with Gardevoir. I'm not going to go into detail about his build, as you can read his excellent report on Pojo. Overall, his build would combine consistency with defense against Gardevoir counters, and have the upper hand in mirror, covering all his bases and earning him a World Championship.

2008-09: End of Gardevoir?


After Worlds 2008, it was assumed that Gardevoir would be done. After all, it would lose DRE and Scramble Energy to the rotation, alongside Jirachi ex, Celio's Network, Steven's Advice, and various other cards.

Double Rainbow Energy More importantly, the new Legends Awakened would bring forth a power creep. While Psychic Lock was never about the damage, Gardevoir's 60 damage for three Energy went from reasonable to awful with the loss of DRE/Scramble and the introduction of a new breed of attacks, where 40-60 damage for a single Energy became commonplace. Kingdra LA would be the harbinger of this fast damage, and for the Autumn BRs, Gardevoir was let go of.

After the release of Stormfront, Gardevoir's death seemed even more certain: there were many new archetypes, including Dusknoir, which would hit Gardevoir for its Weakness, while remaining safe from a return KO by its Weakness to Dark, rather than Psychic.

Despite all this, a new variant of Gardevoir took hold: Gardevoir/Gallade/Weavile, GGW for short. Using Weavile SW for both energy acceleration and damage increase and Poké Healer + to heal, this new variant tried to keep up a lock like the previous season, with the added benefit of an 80 damage Psychic Lock (using Weavile's Darkness Engage), rather than the rather low default of 60. It won a few Cities, but was nowhere near as dominant as it was the previous season's Cities.

Then came Platinum, and S/P/Ts. Platinum brought forth the SP mechanic, and S/P/Ts were dominated by Dialga G, Palkia G, and Toxicroak G. However, Gardevoir/AMU managed to win in Utah, the solitary States win for Gardevoir.

Regionals saw SP decks, Machamp, and Gengar win. Florida Regionals was once again won by Gardevoir, the GGW/Healer variant winning out in a field of SP and Gengar.

Nidoqueen RI The release of Rising Rivals gave Gardevoir a new Stage 2 Tech: Nidoqueen RI. Gardevoir could now heal even more damage, and Nidoqueen RI would double up as an attacker, being able to dish out a massive 40 for P, and even more with its second attack. In addition to Nidoqueen, Upper Energy provided Gardevoir with some much needed energy acceleration: although Weavile was fast enough, being forced to run Darks would make it harder to be consistent. Gardevoir regularly played from behind, and Upper Energy would fuel Gardevoir, Gallade, and Nidoqueen alike.

Despite this, Gardevoir was not a huge success at Nationals 2009. SP decks, and the new Flygon, were simply too strong. Gardevoir was good, but firmly in Tier 2.

Worlds saw a complete rogue -- former Pojo writer Steven Silvestro's Beedrill/Luxray GL -- win out over a field of Flygon/Machamp and SP decks. Gardevoir, so dominant in 2008, didn't even top 4 at Nationals or Worlds in 2009.

2009-10: End of an Era


Gardevoir remained a rogue for the first part of the season. Battle Roads and Cities featured various SP decks and Gengar, neither a particularly favorable matchup to Gardevoir. Luxchomp (Luxray GL/Garchomp C) slowly but surely became one of the best decks in the format. Nevertheless, Gardevoir won a few Cities, with the new Spiritomb AR taking the role of Pachirisu GE from 2008 as the starter.

Double Colorless Energy Then, HeartGold & SoulSilver was released. Gardevoir finally received the energy acceleration it had been begging for since August 2008: Double Colorless Energy. Upper Energy was not good enough; DCE would be.

Come S/P/Ts, Gardevoir -- now with DCE -- went on to win a few States, while Luxchomp dominated both the top tables and 1st Places. Luxchomp was undisputably the top deck, with Gengar, Gardevoir, Jumpluff and Gyarados battling it out in Tier 2.

Regionals -- ran in the same format, with no new set coming out after S/P/Ts -- proved interesting for Gardevoir. Luxchomp remained supreme, but the best record in Regionals went to Michael Pramawat, who went 12-0 with Gardevoir/AMU in Pennsylvania in a field of Luxchomp, Jumpluff, Donphan, and Gyarados.

Unleashed, on paper, both helped and hurt Gardevoir: Judge was a better Team Galactic's Wager, depending on your point of view (and RPS skill), but Entei/Raikou Legend could potentially wipe out the board, given Gardevoir's bench being filled with low HP Pokémon with Powers.

Judge Gardevoir would go on to do well at Nationals, with ERL ending up more powerful on paper than in play. Mikey Fouchet, the highest ranked Gardevoir at the event, would only lose to Kyle Sucevich running Dialga in Top 16, Gardevoir's worst match-up when teching Drifblim FB.

There were two major variants of Gardevoir at Nationals: straight Gardevoir, with 3-4 Spiritomb, Claydol and Mewtwo Lv.X/Dusknoir, and Gardevoir/AMU, running no Claydol but featuring an AMU lock and Mesprit Lv.X to unleash heavy damage. Nationals would establish straight Gardevoir with 3 Kirlia, 1-1 Claydol and 1/0/1 Machamp as the best possible variant, with the 3rd Kirlia allowing Gardevoir to get around Gengar's trainer lock and Machamp improving the Dialga/SP/Sableye match-up.

Worlds 2010 would be the last competitive tournament where Gardevoir would be legal. Gardevoir went into the tournament a strong contender, with a metagame of SP variants, Gengar, and Gardevoir itself.

The final, featuring Luxchomp with Dialga vs Gardevoir, was notable. After all, this was the 2nd Worlds Final that Gardevoir had gotten to. Michael Pramawat, running Gardevoir (with 2 Kirlia), won Game 1, but would go on to lose the next two. Gardevoir, which almost became the first deck to win two World Championships, would fall just short.

Conclusion

In the end, Gardevoir made a huge impact in the game. It won Worlds, and almost won a 2nd one as well. It introduced Power Lock as a brutal form of denial (Jirachi ex was printed earlier, but was not in a deck until Gardevoir arrived). The deck was undisputably the best deck in the format in the 2007-08 season, and was one of the better choices at 2010 Nationals and Worlds. Gardevoir SW is one of the best cards ever printed, and decks that featured it managed to do well over a three-year period. The concept of locking Powers had been present as early as the Fossil set, with Muk stopping Powers for everyone, but until Gardevoir arrived there hadn't been a deck that could actively lock the opponent's Powers, while being able to use them yourself. This sort of denial was unprecedented: It wasn't just sheer hand disruption, it was a complete denial of Powers for an entire game. Being legal in the same period as Claydol GE and Uxie LA, Gardevoir had an innate advantage over decks that relied not on Trainer cards for drawpower, but Pokémon Powers, and it proved its dominance by featuring in two nonconsecutive World Championship Finals.



There we go. Take care, and stop playing Gardevoir -- it's rotated out.


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