Taking Out the Trash — How I Made Top 8 with Sableye / Garbodor at San Jose Regionals

Hello everyone! Alex back at you with a simple, yet surprisingly long article about my tournament in San Jose. Nothing too fancy, just giving the people what they want to hear!

Target audience. Those two words alone scare the living daylights out of me. The Pokemon community is so divided based off skill level, that it makes it almost impossible to write an article without offending someone. People are always either going to be looking for more, get bored with your article, or tell you that you’re an idiot because you’re saying things that they already know.

That’s why today I’m glad to give you something that I know 100% of people will enjoy, a tournament report on my weekend at San Jose. I don’t have to worry about competitive players giving me grief on a list that they deem “uncompetitive,” nor do I have to worry about writing thoughts down about a World Championship format that a good portion of you aren’t going to. Instead, just good, honest advice on a deck that is one of the best in the format, but hard to pick up and win with.

This is also going to be a lot of fun for me to write as well! Ego aside, I’ve actually written a lot on Sableye / Garbodor in the past. However, a lot has changed from then until now, so I can’t wait to compare the articles and see my growth in this subject matter.

For those of you who haven’t looked at the tournament results yet from San Jose, I managed to get fifth place with my most recent Sableye / Garbodor list. In Swiss, I was undefeated, going into round 12 with a 10-0-1 record. My last three matches were either an intentional draw or a scoop to finish out my day at 10-1-3 as the first seed going into the Top 8. A quick 0-2 loss to Kenny Britton in the first elimination game cut my tournament short, resulting in the aforementioned fifth place finish.

But before I go into the matches I played, the thought process behind my card choices, or anything else you’re actually here to read, I should probably show you my list.

Sableye / Garbodor

Pokemon (11)

4x Sableye (DEX #62)2x Garbodor (BKP #57)2x Trubbish (NVI #48)2x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77)1x Latias-EX (PLF #85)

Trainers (43)

4x Professor Sycamore (XY #122)2x N (NVI #92)2x Lysandre (FLF #90)2x Team Flare Grunt (XY #129)1x Xerosic (PHF #110)1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)1x Pokémon Center Lady (FLF #93)1x Delinquent (BKP #98)1x AZ (PHF #91)1x Team Rocket's Handiwork (FAC #112)4x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)3x VS Seeker (PHF #109)3x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)3x Ultra Ball (DEX #102)3x Crushing Hammer (EPO #92)2x Trick Shovel (FLF #98)2x Float Stone (PLF #99)1x Target Whistle (PHF #106)1x Tool Scrapper (DRX #116)1x Enhanced Hammer (DEX #94)1x Super Rod (NVI #95)1x Life Dew (PLF #107)1x Team Aqua's Secret Base (DOC #28)1x Parallel City (BKT #145)

Energy (6)

6x Darkness Energy (BLW #111)

Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times over: there is no such thing as a perfect list. However, this is as close to perfect as I’ve personally ever come. The common question you get asked after a deep run in a tournament is “If you could make any changes to the list, what would they be?” Honestly I can’t think of any outside of Team Rocket's Handiwork.

Team Rocket’s Handiwork is not the world’s most important card in the list, but it’s necessary for any tournament where you’re going to play a best two out of three. The biggest issue that a lot of people point to with this kind of deck is how slow it is, and how it will tie a lot of games. I think that if you play fast enough, you can squeak out game threes with ease with Rocket’s Handiwork. Picture this scenario, you play a semi long game one at 30 minutes of length. Game two you get rolled in 10-15 minutes. Now you only have about 10-15 minutes more to finish up a game three. One of two things then happen.

  • Your opponent will try to agro rush you down, playing multiple Professor Sycamore and other drawing cards to burn through their deck and win before time is called. In this case, Team Rocket’s Handiwork will help them plow through their deck. Prize denial is fairly easy, and only one or two Life Dew attachments are needed for games like this. Junk Hunt will target VS Seeker for Handiwork and maybe a Crushing Hammer to keep them at bay.
  • Your opponent accepts the tie and goes into stall mode, drawing and passing, maybe playing an Energy here and there. In this case, Team Rocket's Handiwork gives you a fighting chance of milling. It’s not a perfect solution, but if you draw, Handiwork, and Junk Hunt right away, you can finish a game in 10 or 15 minutes. Don’t forget to threaten a judge call!

So yes, Team Rocket’s Handiwork is needed if you’re going to finish a best two of three. In all my rounds in San Jose, I only went to time twice (1-0-1 in those games) and actually managed to win two game threes in my rounds. I thank Team Rocket’s Handiwork for that.

It’s also nice if you’re feeling a bit lucky! We all know that Sableye / Garbodor is about denying resources, Energy, and fun. A double heads flip on Handiwork can yield incredible results if you mill the right stuff. I can’t remember exactly who it was against, or if these were even the right cards, but one of the few double heads I hit I milled a Double Colorless Energy, two VS Seeker, and a Professor Sycamore. Mind you stuff like that doesn’t happen all the time, and you seem to hit more double tails than double heads, but the point still stands.

In best of one games, I say dump the card. Yeah I know, I just went into this whole big thing about how it speeds up games. But one big thing people don’t realize, is that it’s fairly easy to win games in under 30 minutes, you just have to play with the appropriate pace. Here, I would cut it for another consistency card, probably a third N, a fourth Ultra Ball, a third Shaymin-EX, an Ace Trainer, or a Jirachi-EX. A lot to consider, but it is always tricky to decide on counts and techs for this deck.

Speaking of techs, another one I was always asked about was Latias-EX. This was a tech that we had included in our Vileplume Toolbox deck down in Arizona, and one that TJ Traquair included in his Top 8 Sableye list. It’s mainly for the Trevenant matchup. The idea is, that since they can’t hurt you with Trevenant, their only way to deal damage is to retreat into Wobbuffet or Mewtwo-EX, thus breaking the Item-lock and letting you go wild. And by wild I mean benching and attaching to a Trubbish so that you can evolve into Garbodor. My buddy Ben and I both played the same 60 cards down in San Jose, and we were a combined 3-0 against Trevenant in the tournament, so this tech works.

The last card that seemingly got the most attention is Pokémon Center Lady. Fans of this deck might remember Hypnotoxic Laser being teched into Sableye decks back in last year’s Cities format to help deal with the mirror. That’s not why we played Pokemon Center Lady though. We played it for the Greninja matchup. Originally, we had planned to go with Parallel City plus Ace Trainer as our way of dealing with Greninja, hopefully disrupting their hand enough to have them draw dead. However, Center Lady proved to be a better deterrent, as with Parallel City, Greninja only deals 60, assuming no they have no Muscle Band. This allowed us to create a semi-infinite loop to stall early game against Greninja. The idea was never my own, as credit is due to Grant Manley for suggesting this. Although I never played against the deck, Pokemon Center Lady would have helped me against Accelgor / Wobbuffet as well.

Other than that, not a lot of questions were asked about the list. The card I used the least was Hex Maniac. Its inclusion is for Archeops, as Ability-lock is super important in the Maxie’s Yveltal matchup. The couple times I played against a Maxie’s deck, my opponent opted to go for the turn one Gallade. I think this is a mistake in the matchup since having free Retreat with Darkrai-EX or Keldeo-EX is very important, but then again leaving a two Retreat Archeops on the field is quite scary. You’re almost better off not playing Maxie’s. Players seem to think Premonition is important in that matchup, but between Team Rocket's Handiwork and Trick Shovel, you’re going to make their Premonitions quite useless. In either case, Hex Maniac is definitely something we considered dropping. It would give you a worse Trevenant and Vileplume matchup, but those matchups can be corrected with other things.

Most of the list is fairly straightforward otherwise. Every card makes sense with how the deck is supposed to run. The relatively low counts of Puzzle of Time and VS Seeker are there to cut corners and make room for important counts and techs. As fun as it is to tech this deck out, I think consistency needs to be at an all-time high, since once the game state gets out of control, it is very difficult to get it back. Two Trick Shovel is necessary, as prizing your one and only can cause problems down the stretch of the game. And before you ask, yes, I did Trick Shovel myself successfully once during the tournament.

So moving on from the list, I feel like going over all of my matchups should help explain how I was able to go undefeated, while at the same time give you an idea on how to play against certain matchups. It’s quite strange, no matchup is really all that great for Sableye, but then again there are no real auto losses either.

Tournament Report

Round 1: Win, 2-0 Against Ian Cabacunhan with Greninja

So right off the bat I flip over a Sableye and he flips over a Froakie. Great, this is how my day is going to start. In terms of the short list of decks to dodge, Greninja was public enemy number one. However, my fears were quickly dashed when he leaned over and said, “Can I read what Sableye does?” This was his first major tournament and he was about to learn the history of the game, and what Sableye did. Nice kid, I loved playing against the guy, he just didn’t really know what Sableye / Garbodor was supposed to do. Game one was the close one. He was able to get out three of his four Greninja after using Water Duplicates for the full value. I managed to hit a Trick Shovel on a Greninja early and was able to lock the final Frogadier in the Active. He played both Sacred Ash and Super Rod. Both times he shuffled the final Greninja back in I was able to Shovel it later.

Round 2: Win, 2-0 Against Peter Kica with Night March

I figured I was going to be able to play two or three rounds against newer players before I started to hit the big names. I was wrong. Peter is definitely one of the top U.S. players. His name is forever linked with Night March, so I knew I was going to have a tricky time. If I prized my Life Dew, it was going to be all over, as the matchup comes down to Prize denial and Double Colorless Energy denial. Can he take around nine Knock Outs before I can hammer off around nine Energy? Again, game one is the one to talk about, as I was able to hit a turn one Trick Shovel on a Double Colorless, followed up by a turn two Shovel onto another Double Colorless. Pokemon is a third how you build your deck, a third how you play your deck, and a third luck. That last component seemed to help me big time against Peter. I will be the first to admit I got lucky against him and in this tournament, but I’ll take that over being good any day of the week.

Round 3: Tie, 1-1 Against Russell Laparre with Zygarde-EX / Carbink BREAK

Again, no easy or free wins for Alex in the early parts of the tournament. During round two, I was sitting next to Russell, who was playing against Zane Nelson’s Sableye / Garbodor and crushing it. Mind you Zane’s build was vastly different from mine, but it still looked it was going to be an uphill battle. Carbink was definitely a deck that no one really expected, so I had zero practice of the matchup. Sableye is all matchup dependent. I also learned that Carbink BREAK can Diamond Gift to itself, making it very hard to keep Energy off the field. Game one Russell had to pitch a Zygarde-EX early on. Thankfully, my Target Whistle wasn’t prized, and I was able to stick it in the Active and get some clutch Shovels during the mid-game. His last VS Seeker was prized in the end, meaning he lost a very long game one. Game two he stomped me hard, and game three started as time was called. In the end, I came away with the knowledge that I would rather play against Greninja than Carbink.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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