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Phoenixfire712 @@phoenixfire7127 Monday, January 8, 2024

GLC - 2023 Year in Review

2023 was a very important and exciting year for GLC! Even with the sunset of our beloved PTCGO client in June, that did not stop the online and local GLC scenes from growing. In many ways, the sunset of PTCGO only increased the dedication and time that many players and streamers put into the format. 

First things first, a shoutout and special thanks to all the tournament judges, Twitch streamers, and players who put a lot of work into promoting this wonderful format this past year. We couldn’t do this without you and your continued support of the GLC format and its players! 

Let’s start off by mentioning a few of the most impactful cards that were released this year.

Most Impactful Cards

Zamazenta, Kyogre, Lucario, Luxray, Entei, and Veluza are all amazing attackers in their respective types. Entei and Lucario breathed new life into fire and fighting and helped to make each type become much more viable than before this year.

Skwovet saw some play when it came out with Bibarel, but Skwovet didn’t peak in strength until recently. Some new deck building innovations in the Turbo Energize Colorless archetype have led to the Skwovet being played in several different variations of Colorless decks with the Instruct Oranguru, making up the most powerful and consistent early game draw engine in GLC. 

Baxcalibur provides another alternative to Blastoise and Frosmoth, allowing players to pick and choose which type of energy acceleration fits the best in their Hydro Pump Water decks. 

Tinkaton and Xatu are both great draw engines in psychic. Xatu also accelerates energy, and Tinkaton is a very strong attacker. Xatu is especially strong because it evolves from the Delta Plus Natu, providing a way to take a double prize on a low HP Pokemon and clean up knockouts.

Revavroom is an amazing draw engine with Magnezone as energy acceleration, and its release led to the creation of an entire new metal archetype known as Metalzone. With Revavroom, Metal decks gained an essential draw engine to help set up Magnezone and power up big, tanky attackers such as Zamazenta, Dialga, and Heatran.

Iono added another disruption option in addition to N and Marnie, and Arven is a very powerful search supporter in combination with tools like the new TMs and Luxurious Cape. Artazon is a great consistency option for any GLC deck and is stronger in certain archetypes than others. Therapeutic Energy is terrifyingly strong with Snorlax, an already busted attacker.

Each of the 4 TMs released so far is broken in its own way, but I only put the two most impactful so far in this shortened list. The Evolution TM is the most straightforward in how it’s incredibly powerful, being able to set up multiple stage 2 Pokemon in the first couple turns of the game. Turbo Energize was originally slept on before its release and often seen as the worst of the 4 TMs, until decks like Turbo Colorless, Guzzlord Dark, and Turbo Raikou tore up the online metagame utilizing this game-breaking energy acceleration tool.

Luxurious Cape changes how decks are built and played, and adds a lot of nuance to the format. It leads to interesting gameplay, comebacks, and makes some decks more viable than they were before. In my opinion, this card is one of the healthiest cards for the GLC format that has been released in a while.

Evolution of the online metagame in 2023

At the beginning of the year we saw the release of the set Crown Zenith, a relatively unimpactful set for Standard, but game-changing for GLC. Zamazenta, Kyogre, and Mewtwo were all especially strong attackers released in that set, with Kyogre making the largest “splash”. For a time, Kyogre hurt the playability of certain types such as Dragon and Fire because it could snipe support Pokemon like Dragonite and Charizard while they were on the bench. 

In early February and March there was a rise in the power and popularity of decks such as Pokestop Coalossal, Lost Zone Psychic, Metalzone, and Turbo Dark. Pokestop Coalossal saw a lot of success because of its high skill ceiling and huge comeback potential.

While Lost Zone Psychic saw its first iterations and tournament success in late 2022, it really took off in popularity when it won Season 2 and showed its strength as one of the best decks in the format!

After the release of Therapeutic Energy, Archeops Colorless hit its peak strength and dominated the online scene. Several decks began to be built around countering it such as Bastiodon Metal. One of the best strategies to counter decks such as Archeops was to outspeed them by setting up and attacking faster. This led to a rise in popularity in turbo decks and item-based builds.

With the hype surrounding successful item-based decks, Pokestop decks started popping up all over the place towards the middle of the year. Some turned out to be top meta contenders like Extreme Speed, Lost Zone Water, and Turbo Garbodor. Extreme Speed especially revitalized Fire as a type and brought it back into top meta contenders with its speed, consistency, and high skill ceiling.

Even with the strength of Archeops Colorless, it was defeated by its relative inconsistency and the evolution of the online metagame as it rose to counter the threat. Turbo Dark triumphed over Archeops on its way to win Season 3!

Following the Pokemon Research Lab ban, Colorless decks took a decline in strength and popularity for a short time while the Paradox Rift meta developed. Each of the TMs and Luxurious Cape made an impact on the metagame and caused a large shift in deck building and gameplay strategy.

Then, the new boogeyman Colorless deck was discovered: Turbo Energize Snorlax. One of the fastest and most consistent decks in the format with the Skwovet/Oranguru draw engine, it dominated the online scene as much as Archeops did before the Lab ban. 

It came down to the finals of the Async League, with Turbo Energize Snorlax and Porygon-Z Slaking facing off in a Best of 3. A top online player for a very long time, Geffrey won 2-0 with Porygon-Z Slaking to become the Season 1 Async League Champion! He showed that the most important metric in GLC is longtime experience with and mastery of your chosen deck!

We have yet to see where the meta goes from here, but I am sure that it will be exciting! Paradox Rift was one of the most impactful sets in the GLC format’s history, and the meta is still developing with new decks and strategies being created every week.

CBW Milestones and Awards

This past year, the CBW deck builder was created! Right now there are 1000+ decks on the website, including both private and public decks!

Congratulations to our Hall of Fame entrants in 2023!

The Async League had its first season champion at the tail end of 2023!

Most Popular CBW Article From 2023

The article for Turbo Dark got the most views in 2023, with over 3000 views! 

Honorable mention to Turbo Fairy with over 2300 views!

Top deck of 2023: Archeops Colorless

List credit: Andre Castela

Here it is, one of the most feared and hated GLC decks of all time. This deck is the most controversial deck in the history of GLC to date because of how unwinnable playing against a turn 1 Pokemon Research Lab for Archen and Aerodactyl felt. Dominating online events and local tournaments alike, Archeops had a 65% win rate in online tournaments for months, even during the PTCGO era. 

After the recent Pokemon Research Lab ban in November because of this deck, Archeops hasn’t seen much play recently. It’s been somewhat outclassed in consistency by Turbo Energize Snorlax, the new boogeyman target for Colorless criticism. The Lab ban appears to have fixed the problem that was Archeops Colorless, but only time will tell whether Colorless is balanced as a type in GLC with the three double energies.

Most Creative Deck of 2023: Dusk Buddies

List credit: Watto

So many new creative decks could be featured here, but I can only pick one for the spot. Dusk Buddies is such a cool deck to see do so well in online tournaments recently. The deck is similar to classic psychic spread lists in that it plays Blacephalon, Azelf, Meloetta, and Mismagius, but it has some very spicy things up its sleeve. Dusk Stone, the namesake of the deck, is an item card that allows you to search for a Mismagius or Chandelure and put them onto one of your Pokemon to evolve them, even if it is Misdreavus or Lampent’s first turn in play. 

Unlike more traditional psychic spread lists, this deck can easily pivot between full board spread and targeted damage. In psychic, Wobbuffet is usually used to stall ability decks early game and doesn’t have much use mid-late game. In Dusk Buddies, Chandelure allows you to consistently take knockouts with Wobbuffet and keep the ability lock up much longer. 

If you haven’t given this deck a try yet, I highly recommend it. It’s a lot of fun to play and very strong, able to take down top meta decks that have low HP liabilities on their bench like Skwovet, and decks that rely too much on their abilities. 

Best Innovation in 2023: Skwovet/Oranguru Draw Engine

List credit: PhoenixFire7127

Colorless was known as one of the best types in the format for a long time, and peaked in how much it warped the meta with Archeops. It has access to the most draw support in the format, with a plethora of stage 1 draw support options between Pidgeotto, Cinccino, and Bibarel. 

Until recently with the release of Paradox Rift, Skwovet saw a niche amount of play and Instruct Oranguru even less, let alone together. I saw their potential to be used together and tried them out with powerful cards like Mallow and Rotom Phone with my Turbo Energize Colorless list in a couple online tournaments. Since then, this draw engine has been popping up all over the place in various different archetypes of Colorless, anything from Turbo Slaking to Colorless Spread. 

Part of the reason the draw engine works so well is that both Skwovet and Oranguru are basics, which allows them to be used on the first turn of the game with search cards like Battle VIP Pass. Skwovet conserves late game resources like Reset Stamp and Hex Maniac to the bottom of the deck to save them for later, and if Bibarel is also in play you can draw up to 9 cards each turn using just abilities. This huge amount of draw allows you to pull off aggressive Guzma and Hex plays on back to back turns very consistently, and recycle attackers with Raihan and Mela.

Top performing player: Geffrey

One needs only to look at his tournament record over the last year and a half to know that he’s a very consistent top player, with one of the best online win rates and a lot of tournament wins. He also won the first season of the Async League finals this year. I’m confident in saying that Geffrey is the best online GLC player from 2023 based on his record, his consistency, and his top placements.

Closing Thoughts

2023 redefined the GLC format in more ways than one. Amazing new cards, creative new archetypes, and a constantly shifting metagame to mix things up. More people are learning and playing the format every day, GLC will only continue to grow. Thanks for tuning in to this overview of GLC in 2023, and here’s to an even better 2024!