Hello readers, my name is Arlo Neel and I am an active competitive Pokemon TCG player in the United States. Recently, I have joined the Nerd Rage Gaming national team, and achieved a Top 4 finish in Greensboro, NC last season as well as a couple other strong finishes. In my first article here for The PTCGO Store, I will be talking about my favourite deck in the expanded format, Zoroark GX/Garbodor leading into Richmond regionals. This is a popular expanded deck that I've spent the most time playing throughout my Pokemon TCG career, and also the deck I’ve had the most success with. Even with a huge array of new powerful Tag Team GX Pokemon being introduced into the expanded meta as well as very powerful control cards in Reset Stamp and Lt. Surge’s Strategy, I still believe Zoroark/Garbodor is in a prime position to take the expanded meta by storm once again.

What all has changed in the expanded meta?

To answer that question, more than a lot has changed. Since the last expanded regional event in Hartford, CT dating back to May 4th, 2019, we haven’t had any regional results including two of the newest sets added to the format in Unbroken Bonds and Unified Minds (both sets are available for online game - Pokemon TCG Online). Both of these new sets have had some of the most game breaking and meta defining cards in the standard format and that does not change for the expanded format. To name a few new toys we get to mess with here are the best cards from these new sets entering into the expanded format: Dedenne-GX, Welder, Reshiram and Charizard GX, Gardevoir and Sylveon GX, Honchkrow GX, Lt. Surge’s Strategy, Mewtwo and Mew GX, Rowlet and Exeggutor GX, Raichu and Alolan Raichu GX, Cherish Ball, Reset stamp, etc. These new cards give the expanded format a new look and will cause a drastic change from the Rayquaza GX vs Trevenant BREAK matchup we saw in the finals of Hartford regionals. Before we get into why Zoroark/Garbodor is still a great contender in the expanded format, here is my current list for the popular archetype. Shout outs go to Christain Franco for his help with the list.

Zoroark GX/Garbodor


  • 4 Zorua DEX
  • 4 Zoroark GX SLG
  • 2 Trubbish NVI
  • 1 Ditto Prism Star LOT
  • 2 Garbodor BKP
  • 1 Garbodor GRI
  • 2 Exeggcute PLF
  • 2 Klefki STS
  • 1 Shaymin EX ROS
  • 1 Tapu Lele GX GRI
  • 1 Dedenne GX UNB
  • 1 Oricorio GRI


  • 2 Colress
  • 1 Brigette
  • 1 N
  • 1 Sycamore
  • 1 Guzma
  • 1 Lt. Surge’s Strategy
  • 1 Iris
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 4 VS Seeker
  • 2 Float Stone
  • 2 Choice Band
  • 2 Cherish Ball
  • 2 Field Blower
  • 1 Red Card
  • 1 Battle Compressor
  • 1 Super Rod
  • 1 Rescue Stretcher
  • 1 Dowsing Machine ACE SPEC
  • 3 Sky Field


  • 4 Double Colorless Energy
  • 2 Basic Psychic Energy

About the list:
The list is pretty generic in its own right but the counts are a little different this time as the deck has to focus more on ability lock. This is because a very fast and efficient ability lock can be very detrimental to your opponents setup and is especially important to slowing down Mewtwo and Mew decks, Archie’s Blastoise, and opposing Zoroark GX based decks. This also pairs with a thicker Garbodor BKP line because having the Garbodor in your prize cards can ruin your deck’s main strategy and comeback potential. 

Lt. Surge’s Strategy also deserves a slot in the list because being able to use for example both N and Guzma in the same turn is too game changing not to include. It is more importantly used to abuse the power of Iris which helps with numbers Zoroark GX and Trashalanche Garbodor cannot hit without it. With Vs Seeker being available in the expanded format, the use of Lt. Surge becomes a lot more worth it when compared to its use in the standard format. Having heavy copies of Vs Seeker as well as the individual supporters themselves makes it easier to find the triple supporter in one turn combo when compared to having very limited search and discard availability in the standard format.

Oricorio is in the list because Night March is a deck players will have to respect going into Richmond this weekend. The deck at recent expanded league cups has seen a lot of success at the hands of good players. Oricorio is also useful in many other matchups including the Zoroark/Garbodor mirror as in the mirror match there is a lot of discarding bench Pokemon by removing Sky Field since Zoroark GX’s are going at it for the full 210 attack and Field Blower is being used to remove the opponent’s Garbotoxin effect already. Its overall not a bad card to include even if you don’t hit any Night March decks as it’s a good attacker in it’s own right. 

Possible Card Inclusions

Mew (UNB) - This card deserves a spot in the deck if you are expecting a lot of Pikachu and Zekrom GX decks, and Mewtwo and Mew GX decks including Alolan Marowak GX. In this current expanded meta game, I feel like those two reasons won’t be relevant enough to warrant a spot for the card. A bench barrier card was needed in earlier expanded formats last year because Archie’s Blastoise decks aimed to hit a Towering Splash GX using Magikarp and Wailord gx early on in the game to wipe out your basics before you even have a chance to evolve. With the inclusion of Espeon and Deoxys GX, Archie’s Blastoise lists are becoming more focused on using Cross Division for the full effect to wipe your board. Mew cannot stop that so for right now, Mew isn’t needed but could be depending on how the metagame changes leading up to both Richmond and Portland.

Reset Stamp (UNI) - This card is similar to Red Card in its function in this deck but it is less strong early game, but very strong late game. Not having to use a supporter card for around the same effect as N is very good, but I prefer having early game hand control in multiple Red Cards over a Reset Stamp currently. Also with the inclusion of Lt. Surge in the list, having to use N as your only supporter for the turn can be less detrimental as you also have the option to use an additional draw supporter or Guzma to keep your comeback game rolling.

Cobalion GX (TEU- This card is great for it’s GX attack when going against the Archie’s Blastoise matchup as the GX attack buys you a turn so you have a turn to evolve all of your basics before Archie’s can get off Espeon Deoxys’s GX attack. Cobalion GX is not a current inclusion in my list because I don’t find it very likely to find it when you need it and it isn’t too great against any other matchup in the field. If you feel like you are going to hit a lot of Archie’s in your expanded tournament, cut 1x Klefki and 1x Choice Band and add in the Cobalion GX and a 3rd copy of Float Stone. Adding in a 3rd copy of Float Stone makes it more likely you’ll find it early game in order for you to retreat into Cobalion GX.

Marshadow (UNB) - This card is mostly good for having an extra out to your opponent trying to stick a Power Plant against you early and late game. It is also great against the Buzzwole/Garbodor decks as Marshadow’s Red Knuckles attack can OHKO an opposing Buzzwole with a single colorless energy making that matchup a lot better. If you feel like you are losing games to Buzzwole/Garbodor or Power Plant sticking, remove 1x Field Blower from the current list in place of the Marshadow as they serve similar purposes.

Zoroark/Garbodor’s Place in the expanded format and popular matchups

Mewtwo and Mew with Vileplume (AOS): Favored

This matchup can get a little complicated thanks to Vileplume’s ability early game not giving you access to your item cards in order to set up your Garbodors’. Your main strategy in this matchup is to set up Garbotoxin Garbodor to stop all of the deck’s abilities including vileplume and Mewtwo and Mew itself. Without their abilities, their deck cannot function nor can they attack you which makes the matchup quickly turn into your favor. Trashalanche can easily turn into an OHKO late enough in the game if they do not manage their item card usage carefully. Weakness also plays into effect here as Mewtwo and Mew can get knocked out with only 7 items with trashalanche. Overall this matchup is very favored. Just get Garbotoxin rolling, watch out for Mewtwo and Mew’s ability to use BKT Mewtwo EX’s Damage Change attack, and set up Trashalanche Garbodor for an easy OHKO to seal up the game near the end.

Night March: Favored

This matchup is decently favored because Oricorio can take a lot of prizes at once since Night March relies on having a lot of Pokemon in the discard pile in order to take big knockouts on your Zoroark GX. This matchup can still be a little tricky at some times because if Night March draws well enough they can take 6 prizes very fast. That's why it is still important to play N and ability lock them so they have less of a chance of drawing exactly what the need. It is also good to Field Blower their pivot Pokemon with a Float Stone on it so they have to dig for more to switch their Night March attacker into the active. Zoroark/Garbodor with Oricorio should not struggle at all against Night March but you do have to wisely place Oricorio damage and disrupt their hand and board as much as possible.

Archie’s Blastoise: Favored

Even without the Cobalion GX inclusion, this matchup is still decently favored for you. Trashalanche Garbodor can hit for weakness against Mewtwo and Mew GX and score one OHKO sometimes two if you have a backup Trubbish out on your bench. Activating Garbotoxin when paired with an N late game can also cripple their board state and stop them from not being able to attack for a bit while you run them over with Zoroark GX or Trashalanche Garbodor. The part about the matchup that makes it tricky is Cross Division GX on Espeon and Dexoys GX. Before you get to evolve your Zorua, Trubbish, and Ditto Prism Star Pokemon they can wipe them out with the GX attack which they can easily reach early game with Blastoise’s explosive Deluge ability. You can make this threat a lot less crippling by not over benching and saving cards like Rescue Stretcher and Brigette outs so you can attempt to set up your basics again the following turn. My advice is to only bench one Zorua and one Trubbish as even if they decide to not Cross Divide GX, you can bench another Zorua and another Trubbish the following turn while also evolving the basics you benched last turn. If you let them get 3 prizes with Cross Division GX early game, it can be really hard to come back. Limiting the amount of basics you bench early game against them can be your best strategy to surviving Cross Division GX.

Turbo Dark: 50-50

Turbo Dark is the deck to play in the expanded format if you are looking to go for a very fast and aggressive deck. The deck does not have much it can do to outplay your opponent, but it hits hard really fast without having to dump a bunch of items into the discard early which can be quite troubling for Zoroark/Garbodor if the deck cannot get a good response in time. In this matchup in particular, Iris can really help hit those numbers Zoroark GX cannot reach without it. When either paired with Lt. Surge to use Iris twice once your opponent has taken 2 prizes or if they have taken 4, Iris adds 40 damage to Zoroark’s maxed 210 damage with a Sky Field full bench and a Choice band. With the additional 40 damage, Zoroark GX can now hit 250 which is exactly how much HP Zoroark and Greninja GX has. That play can swing the matchup in your favor at the right time as long as you aren’t getting immediately OHKO’d the following turn. Good ‘ol faithful Garbotoxin with N also really helps slow down Turbo Dark so you can catch back up and take some knockouts without a guaranteed solid response. Trashalanche, despite it not quite reaching consistent OHKO numbers, is still a great attacker as it deals some chip damage while also providing a one prize attacker which skews the prize trade in your favor. This makes it so Turbo Dark, without a timely guzma, has to take 7 prizes and can get N’d to one which drastically lowers theirs odds of finding what they need at the right time. All in all, this matchup is based upon how fast they can go without dumping tons of items, and how fast you can respond to their onslaught of darkness Pokemon.

Zoroark GX/Control: 50-50

This matchup is quite complicated in its own right as Zoroark/Control has a lot of ways to try and disrupt you before you can draw 6 prizes. Their general game plan against an opposing Zoroark GX based deck is to try and lost zone/discard all of your energy before you can take all 6 prizes as your own Zoroark’s stop them from being able to hand lock you. Your best option against this matchup is to hit as hard as possible and as fast as possible with full 210 Ritous Beating attacks on their Zoroark’s as well as hitting them with hand refreshes in Red Card and even N with Garbotoxin in effect to try and make them miss their energy removals. Important things to note in this matchup is to not bench too many Pokemon that can be stuck in the active and try to save as many Float Stone and Guzma outs as you can. Trubbish’s attack is also quite useful in certain situations as it can get back a vital resource with Garbage Collection, but do be careful as most Zoroark/Control lists play Team Rocket’s Handiwork so only use that attack if they have to play another supporter that turn or you feel like you are safe to do so. Klefki is your best friend in this matchup as it allows you consistently lock abilities while still being able to use your own the following turn. This is one matchup you shouldn’t expect to hit multiple of, but should still test against and get a feel for how the matchup is usually played out as you will eventually play one no matter which stage you are in the tournament.

Buzzwole/Garbodor/Power Plant: 50-50

This matchup is pretty straightforward in which Buzzwole/Garbodor attempts to disrupt you as much as possible with an early Let Loose and Power Plant to hope you dead draw. Zoroark/Garbodor plays 3 Sky Field and double Field Blower so your outs to draw out of that is pretty decent. Without those gimmicks coming into play, the matchup is pretty good as long as you don't overextend on items and can stick them with an N + Garbotoxin in the late game so they can’t Abyssal Hand with Octillery to refresh their hand. Trashalanche also pulls a lot of weight in this matchup as you can easily OHKO anything in their deck as well as provide yourself with a one prize attacker. Most of the time you attack with Zoroark GX with Sky Field to one shot their Buzzwole outside of the oncoming SledgeHammer turn. Without Shrine of Punishment or Beast Energy, they cannot ever OHKO your Zoroark GX outside of Sledge Hammer turn and multiple Strong Energy attachments so you can safely pick off their Buzzwoles.

Sableye/Garbodor: Very Unfavored

This matchup is almost unwinnable for Zoroark/Garbodor unless Sableye/Garbodor cannot set up in time. Sableye has easy ways to hand lock you late game with Reset Stamp and their own control of Garbotoxin. Throughout the game they try to remove a majority of your already very few energy cards. The best you can hope to do is Red Card them on turn one, and Red Card them again when you are about to go down to two prizes and hope they cannot get to the lock in time. I wouldn’t expect to hit more than one Sableye/Garbodor deck in day one of Richmond as the deck has a very high skill cap, and is deemed as generally inconsistent/inferiror when compared to its counterpart Zoroark GX/Control.


Overall Zoroark GX/Garbodor will see a lot of success going into Richmond based on its powerful combos and ability to control your opponent's hand + use of abilities. It has decent matchups against all the Mewtwo and Mew GX decks, Archie’s Blastoise, and Night March decks that I would expect to see a lot of going into the regional. If you plan on attending Richmond, I would definitely test and consider Zoroark/Garbodor before deciding on your deck choice for the event.

Thank you all for reading my article on Zoroark GX/Garbodor here on The PTCGO Store! I hope you all learned something and that this information will be helpful in your future testing sessions, and when deciding what to play for the event. Best of luck to all attending Richmond and I will see you next time in my next article. Shout outs go to Christan Franco for all his help on the list, and matchups, and my team Nerd Rage Gaming for all their support.

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