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JeoshuaObladi @JeoshuaObladi Saturday, November 26, 2022

Gym Leader Challenge; Beginnings in Review

For GLC fans, this year was full of surprises, each set seemed to bring more and more to the format. Cards like Machamp from Lost Origin or PoGo Charizard most likely wouldn't find a home in standard, but in GLC they stand out as pillars showing their value and helping many types to compete among the best. Experimenting, I think we've reached a point in the format where everyone has at least a couple of strong variations as a choice and the best supported have shown off even more multiple ways to win a game, plan strategies and build a team.


Water, for choosing one of the best, thanks to its efficient engine, can create variants after variants and true and personal archetypes even with apparently minor cards. Let's just look at the Swim Freely or Waterstorm archetypes that have nothing to envy from other variants of the type, or as gradually the idea of Water Control/Mill has been fortified during the year thanks to the release of Floatzel, Golduck, Gyarados and Kingdra - cards that go well together leading to a loop strategy. Certainly not to forget the impact that H. Basculin and both Basculegion had, becoming very important pieces for the purposes of setting and strategies.

Irida has consolidated the precise search for cards, and how Manaphy has brought even more solidity bench protection. All this has ensured that Water remained among the best types, always updated on the meta and with various strategy choices until the recent ban of Amazing Kyogre. Dutiful. And we haven't talked about cards that still have to see more games, but that have shined on some occasions like PoGo Blastoise and Slowbro, or Brilliant Stars Empoleon, but also others that are simply not yet exploited and that will remain a strong option for years to come: I'm obviously talking about Wailord.

All types now have one more option available with Gloria to set up basic Pokemons together with Brigette and Sonia, and Hisuain Heavy Ball has established itself as a staple in almost every list. The release of Arezu, even if it has fallen short of expectations and perhaps seen little play, gave a universal way to find 3 evolution Pokemon. Always looking at the basic settings and Pokemon researches picture, the card pool has been enriched with Feather Ball and Capture Aroma which, even if "minor" cards, could be excellent in different lists. And finally we saw the Dragon type get a card like Lance with the latest Silver Tempest set, which with all the previous releases between Garchomp, Druddigon and Regidrago completely transformed the type from inconsistent to solid, even bringing it among the best 3 of the format with the highest win rate.

Of course, the potential was already there, but it definitely had improvements where it was most needed, especially in the coherence of the energy cost for attacks. There is little to say about dragon, perhaps the best evolution of a type since the beginning of the GLC with, however, only a few variants at its service.


Colorless ended 2021 among the best: Crazy Code and Slaking immediately had their important share of the meta split with the first Classic Grass then becoming Old School due to the ban of the Forest of Giant Plants and Amazing Trump Lighting, also nerfed due to Lysandre Trump Card, and immediately got off to a great start with Brilliant Stars earning a better Minccino and Industrious Incisors Bibarel, as well as an additional double energy (Double Turbo Energy), and a way to heal and recover a Pokemon with Cheren's Care.

Then continuing in Astral Radiance, Ursaluna has seen little space due to the presence of Slaking, but has seen recent play in control. With the Pokemon Go set brings Ditto, Block Snorlax and Ambipom as nice options for different strategies, but the strongest impact definitely came from Lost Origin's Snorlax, a real one hit knockout beast that is difficult to take down, and Gift Energy which improves the choices in the energy department. As much as I experimented with Silver Tempest, the archetype spread with Spinda, H. Braviary and Archeops definitely encouraged the archetype to dare.


Before talking again in particular about the various types, it is right to dwell on some stadiums and items that are taking root in GLC: Pokéstop, Trekking Shoes and Gutsy Pickaxe come to mind which led us to experiment with turbo versions which we will then see specifically for the various types, but also universal setup cards like Jubilife Village or an annoying stadium like Lost City against combo decks that rely on single attackers. Finally, Pot Helmet is a universal tool for preventing 30 less damage, rewarding cards like Torterra or Dragapult with the life necessary to escape KOs, but also by saving weak supports on the bench from snipers.


Let's get rid of the best types immediately and talk about Grass: after the ban on the Forest of Giant Plants in mid-January, the first immediate opinions were disastrous, some said it would not have survived and was going to be relegated to the second tier, but the grass leaders believed in Grotle and Torterra coming out together in Brilliant Stars and they were right because like spring it blossomed again. Replacing Shiinotic with an identical ability, it also gained the protection of the nature of the continent Pokèmon, a colossus paired with Leavanny that alone can keep the deck standing, helping you in setting up with Grotle and hitting hard when necessary probably surviving the OHKO ensuring you at least 2 prizes and a tempo earned. Special mention for Cherubi who prevents the effects of the attacks saving himself from the damage counters of Mew and Blacephalon allowing a more peaceful setting to more aggro versions of the type.

Astral Radiance then dusts off the old Bug Hunch Kricketot with the release of Swelling Tune Kricketune, obtaining an another good starter in the search for 3 grass Pokémon and an ability that gives +40 HP. Anyone who has played against Yoshi will have seen Shaymin's Encouraging Gift turn one, pulling out any 3 cards from the deck which certainly means a strong T2 with rare candy and boss possibilities. The spread and aggro variants also benefit from the first printed Hisuain Lilligant, nice for hit & run plays, a new Combee useful for setting and a fun fast attacker, while underused, like Yanmega. The Pokemon Go set offered an excellent piece like Venusaur to Grass Control, but the best arrives with Beautifly in Lost Origin, a card still underplayed but which offers a decisive boost for quick variants and has revived the archetype of Jumpluff and Decidueye. The presence in the set of that crazy kamikaze Shiftry is another surprise for Grass, as well as Dustox that confuses and poisons x8 which will perhaps one day have something to say. The year ends for grass in Silver Tempest with a formidable offensive like Sunflora capable of knocking out even the biggest tanks in format - an excellent buddy for Eldegoss and Cherrim. Grass, despite a few tears at the beginning of the year, did not miss anything and reinforced all his departments.


Psychic is among the best in search for Pokémon in format with Mysterious Treasure and Fog Crystal in his pockets and is also definitely among the best in terms of options, variants and strength. Now if we look at the 2022 report, he certainly gets the solidity and precision of Gallade in Astral Radiance with a good Ralts and with the ideal Kirlia just released in Silver Tempest that adds another Gardevoir to the already excellent two available, plus another good option for choosing the best Ralts.

The spread arsenal is graced with Lost Origin and Silver Tempest sets and Tzubi's Lost Zone Box list amazes everyone by combining Comfey, Sableye, Banette and Gengar together with Pokéstop, Colress' Experiment and Lost Vacuum to arrive at the desired strategy, silencing those who doubted that such particular strategies could exist in a singleton format.

Mismagius, especially, then Mimikyu, Spectrier and Reuniclus are also solid additions to the spread archetype and see some help for Control in the recently released of Hypno and Meowstick. Psychic can play well with Furisode Girl by promoting Wobbuffet or a Phantump with ascension in Trevenant. Also noteworthy are nice archetypes such as the Cafè Master with Alcremie and aggro variants with the PoGo Lunatone. In short, with many pearls here and there psychic was able to create new archetypes from turbo variants with spread based attackers and renew himself while staying in the meta thanks to the precision of Gallade, who with the right build, gave a lot of battle to counter Kyogre in full force strength during the summer, the best to succeed in the enterprise together with Dragon.


One of my favorites is definitely Fighting, and oh my how strong is Fighting! Imagine he had draw support… Since February he has done nothing but get one card better than the other: heavy hitters like Flygon and Lucario in Brilliant Stars, a Rampardos that deals 240 for the fossil variant, and H. Arcanine synergistic with Coalossal in Astral Radiance. Then Lost Origin does the rest giving completely an archetype to study like Lost Zone with Barbaracle, Stonjourner and Lost City, a fantastic setting Carbink and the best Machamp that fighting could wish for. Finishing the year in Silver Tempest with a very personal archetype like Claydol which forces you to play without supporters or with a way to get around the limitation, and I must say that despite the inconsistency, due to the format, restriction is very fun. Here too Pokéstop, Trekking Shoes and Gutsy Pickaxe have made their scene by trying their best to make things go the right way. This is an archetype that will only have to gain in the future with releases of draw items.

Cavern Tackle Terrakion seems like a card that, having found the right home, can give great results. I've tried it in different ways with fluctuating results, but when you manage to alternate it as you like it's really satisfying. Armaldo for Hitmonfossils becomes the best option along with Archeops and Kabutops, and Palossand gets really spiced up in Hearthquake with Runerigus fixing maths for multiple knockouts or on big Pokémons for Donphan and Whiscash. Grant and Damage Pump are other additions to the latter archetype and to the type in general. Definitely one of the types that has gained the most ground on tier 1s by getting new archetypes and various improvements in already existing builds.


For a long time fire has been a type with flaws such as lack of damage and difficulty in charging and cycling its attackers. A bit disadvantaged by the meta dominated by water, it saw a little help in Brilliant Stars with the Moltres + Magma Basin combo, very good to help prepare your attackers with less effort and Kindler almost unused, perhaps due to randomness, but which can bring important pieces. But it is with Pokémon Go that fire gets its spearhead thanks to Charizard: the box, doubling the energies. While suffering perhaps against ability lock, but it has access to Heatmor enhanced more easily through a Welder or Blacksmith + assignment or via Magma Basin.

The Incineroar line promoted in Silver Tempest had little time to show up, but promises a lot with healing strategies via Max Potion, then Rapidash which can open up to more aggro builds and an excellent Fennekin who will search for a supporter in the deck by an attack. Not much, but the right cards that allowed Fire to make the leap in quality he deserved.


Few types left yet to be analyzed in brief. Metal makes a circular year where he opens with a now staple Heatran and closes with a Klinklang that facilitates loading the first one, in the middle of Astral Radiance a Magnezone gives life to an archetype all of him and Adaman brings Mount Coronet back into discussions between players. In my curious research to enrich the statistics for the site, I came across a very particular metal list which could see a trap companion in the Lost Origin’s Stunfisk. Finally, Metagross comes out to facilitate Stage 2 plays in Silver Tempest with Emergency Entry which benches himself directly if you draw him per turn. An easy combo with Amazing Jirachi or Mallow, and brings with it a solid attack with efficient energy cost.

Dark and Lightning

As tailights in my opinion, Dark and Lighting and especially this last one had very little gain. If we look really closely, perhaps Lighting only had the Brilliant Stars Electivire which brings with it at times some weaknesses or better choices and if we really want to, let's save Luxray, which however already has many other attractive options in previous releases and to come. Maybe Furisode Girl for Zapdos? But nothing more than that relevant. At least dark in its little has seen releases of spread and poisoning with Absol, Overqwill and Raticate, a really evil strategy with Silver Tempest's Crobat. A prominent and quick to set up attackers for a lot of damage like Mightyena and Toxapex, a call for family x2 in Inkay but especially the card that everyone wanted in Liepard, with that fantastic ability "Trade" known years ago with Zoroark GX. Surprisingly we also mention again Furisode Girl for this type which can exploit it to ascend in G. Weezing or donk with Hoopa.

In Summary

Summing up after almost a year and a half from the beginning of the format, we can say that it was a great first year of testing for the GLC and it showed that it knows how to adapt to the times even with very particular strategies, becoming much more than a casual format of the Sunday, showing itself increasingly intelligent and capable of bringing meta changes and trends without creating large differences in power between the contenders. More and more variants take hold and are discovered and more and more are played every day. Without going too far, the Kyogre ban seen now was a godsend and I hope it gives the right courage to players to shine creative and diverse builds that have not had the opportunity to compete for greater causes.

GLC could not start better and over time it will get richer and richer in cards and will see us racking our brains to try to guess which of the different Gardevoirs our opponent is playing. It is more and more a timeless format, like I still hope will be the PTCGO, because not having the possibility to play in Live with the whole card pool will be totally useless and, quite frankly, I don't like Live in any of its aspects. I hope you enjoyed this recap, I also found it very fun to write it to get a better picture of the evolution of the types during the year. Well, I've drawn a general picture to better understand a point of the GLC, but you know what I'm telling you that made it even more confusing to me and therefore even more intriguing. We really don't know who will win a tournament in the end because GLC is as unpredictable as nature, hiding in itself multiple forms of beauty. Horizons to pursue and abysses to explore and not simple peaks to reach. GLC has no limits and we may have to come to the alarming conclusion that GLC is smarter than we are.