Hooked and Baited — Gyarados and Vikavolt for U.S. Internationals

Hey there PokeBeach readers! Since I’ve last written, Drampa-GX / Garbodor has cemented itself at the top of the meta, as most people expected. With Drampa / Garbodor dominating the format, the format has shifted to a more slow and diverse meta, allowing cards that would previously be unplayable to rise to the top of the metagame. Today, I’ll be talking about two decks that evolve: Gyarados and Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX. I still can’t believe I’m writing this — it’s been years since I’ve been able to talk about viable Evolution decks. Without further ado, let’s get right into it!


The first deck I’d like to talk about today is my personal favorite deck in our current format: Gyarados. With the decline of Decidueye-GX from the BDIF to a borderline Tier 1 / Tier 2 deck, a favorable Drampa-GX / Garbodor matchup, as well as the release of Choice Band and Rescue Stretcher, I believe Gyarados is the sleeper best deck in the format. It reminds me a lot of Night March from last year; it’s a very high skill cap deck that can be absolutely unstoppable when played perfectly. Let’s take a look at my current list for the deck.

The List

Pokemon (12) Trainers (44) Energy (4)
3x Gyarados (AOR #21) 4x Professor Sycamore (BKP #107) 4x Double Colorless Energy (EVO #90)
4x Magikarp (EVO #33) 2x Teammates (PRC #141)
1x Octillery (BKT #33) 1x N (FAC #105)
2x Remoraid (BKT #32) 1x Lysandre (AOR #78)
1x Shaymin-EX (RSK #77) / Tapu Lele-GX (GUR #60) 1x Hex Maniac (AOR #75)
1x Mr. Mime (GEN #52) 4x VS Seeker (RSK #110)
4x Puzzle of Time (BKP #109)
4x Rescue Stretcher (GUR #130)
4x Dive Ball (PRC #125)
4x Choice Band (GUR #121)
3x Ultra Ball (SM #135)
3x Trainers' Mail (RSK #92)
1x Level Ball (AOR #76)
1x Float Stone (BKT #137)
1x Escape Rope (PRC #127)
1x Town Map (BKT #150)
1x Special Charge (STS #105)
4x Team Magma's Secret Base (DOC #32)


As you can see, my list is pretty straightforward. I’ve invested almost all of my deck space towards consistency, maxing out almost every single card I play. Let’s break down why I play each card.

Card Explanations

4-3 Gyarados

Obviously, I run four Magikarp, as they’re the backbone behind my entire strategy. Three Gyarados is more than enough evolutions with four Rescue Stretcher and eight Pokemon search cards, which frees up a slot in the deck.

2-1 Octillery

Besides Gyarados (duh!), Octillery is probably the most important card in your deck. Without Octillery, Gyarados can really struggle off late game N, as well as not always hitting all of the pieces you need to ensure an attack each turn. Octillery covers this weakness, giving the deck some much needed draw. I play a 2-1 line because you always want Remoraid out as soon as possible, and having two means that I’ll almost always have one in my deck, even if one is prized. However, I don’t need two Octillery, as I can always access the one copy I need thanks to Town Map and Rescue Stretcher.

Shaymin-EX / Tapu Lele-EX

This is the only slot in the entire deck I’m not absolutely sure about. I’ve been playing Shaymin-EX in my list since Guardians Rising came out, as I believe Gyarados values the extra card draw more than it does the ability to search out a Supporter. However, I’ve seen and talked to many top players who have favored Tapu Lele-GX in this slot, so I figured it was worth mentioning here for the reader to decide which they prefer playing.

One Mr. Mime

Ok, I’m going to spend a bit talking about this card versus Machoke, as I’m surprisingly very passionate about this subject. There is absolutely no reason to play Machoke over Mr. Mime in Gyarados. None. Mr. Mime helps against Tapu Koko and Spinda, the two biggest techs against Gyarados. Machoke, which is a clunky Stage 1 that you would have to devote two Ball searches to instead of one (two Ultra Ball) as well as the extra space in the deck, only helps against Azelf and Espeon-GX. Azelf hasn’t seen play since Sam Chen won Seattle Regionals, Espeon-GX is just an objectively worse version of Drampa / Garbodor or Drampa-GX / Zoroark, and all of Machoke’s other uses (Greninja and Decidueye mainly) are already poor matchups that are not significantly swung by playing Machoke. So in conclusion, there is never a reason to play Machoke over Mr. Mime, as the extra spot and consistency gained by not playing Machoke are far more valuable than the few relevant tech cards that Machoke blocks over Mr. Mime.

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