With or Without You

See the stone set in your eyes
See the thorn twist in your side
I wait for you
Sleight of hand and twist of fate
On a bed of nails she makes me wait
And I wait, without you
With or without you


I’ve had a ton of success with the Golisopod GX Garbodor deck I mirrored from Azul Griego’s 2nd place finish in Memphis, and I will definitely say that it stands at the top of the list of decks in consideration for Collinsville.  As I look at the price of Tapu Lele GX, however, and swallow hard at the thought of the cost of two of them, I decided to see if I couldn’t make the deck work without Lele.

Plus – if you missed this from my statistical analysis from the other day – I actually beat decks that play Tapu Lele GX 56% of the time in the month of December.  Of course, you have to factor in that I play Tapu Lele GX myself in almost all of my decks, so that kind of explains the number.  Overall, I won 57% of my matches in December, so winning 56% against Lele is actually a little lower than my average.

But anyways, this was definitely worth trying out, so I built a Lele-less list and played twenty matches with it:

I actually ended up going 14 W 6 L with no Tapu Lele GX in the deck; however, I only went 2 W 3 L against meta decks (the pendulum has swung – a week ago every deck I went up against was a meta deck, even in matches where my opponents had the advantage, they still weren’t playing meta decks… although I did go 5 W 1 L in matches where my opponent had the advantage).

Still, a 70% win ratio is only a little less than the 77% win ratio I averaged with the two Golisodor decklists I posted last week, so I decided to investigate a little more.  I chose Michael Pramawat’s Memphis winning list and just tweaked it a little bit:

I went 13 W and 7 L with this decklist, but again 2 W 3 L against meta decks.  I do not have a control group of games to directly match this against (I didn’t play twenty matches with this decklist including Tapu Lele GX), but I can definitely tell you that this deck really misses Tapu Lele.  Honestly, both lists felt like they had a “hole” in the deck.  Every time I got an Ultra Ball (oh especially on turn 1), I would instinctively go to look for Lele.  Playing Ultra Ball for a Rockruff or Zorua gives you such a melancholy, unsatisfying feeling, like reaching into a cookie jar and realizing it only has one cookie left in it… and it’s a dried, stale oatmeal raisin rock from last week.

There is no question in my mind that I would have won more games with Lele in both decks.  I would have won more matches overall and more against the meta decks I fared poorly against.  I might have lost a game or two because of the prize tradeoff – if you watched any of the streams from Memphis you know that 170 has become the new 110 – but I’m sure the net improvement would have been at least plus one or two… and maybe even three or four.  I don’t think there were many games where I wouldn’t have played Lele if I didn’t have the chance.

The good news is that if you are bumming around on PTCGO, you can still win a lot of matches without Tapu Lele.  Take heart with that, new players and players who smart with their money.  For PTCGO, you don’t need Lele.  For Collinsville, unfortunately, you’re going to need to invest in this ancient Hawaiian spirit butterfly.


  1. I agree with your analysis. If you remember from my channel I made lots of decks without Shaymin EX. You can make winnable decks without Lele. I think it depends on what you replace Lele with and what the deck is.

    For instance if you have a deck with a lot of stage 1s, you may want to consider Octillery. 3-4 Brigettes, 3-4 evosoda, should net you a second turn Octillery a majority of the time. But if you’re deck isn’t reliant on stage 1s, then Octillery may not be a good consideration. Also you should think about what your hand will look like. You should have cards you use fairly often, so that you can use Octi’s 5 card draw at it’s maximum. You wouldn’t want to add something like Hau or Kukui into a deck like this, rather N, Judge, Sycamore, etc.

    Looking at your second deck, I think this is where it fails. You don’t really have enough cards that’ll net you Zoroark GX. You’re relying on 4 Ultra balls to get you GX, and only 7 to get you a Zorua.

    When you don’t have Lele you’re really desperate for draw, so you have to do overkill. You no longer have the luxury for 4 POT and the Energy Loto. Even the Kukuis might be chucked. I would throw these out for 3 Brigettes and 4 evosoda.

    But then you see the choices you have to make without Lele. So that shows you how important that card is!

    1. Totally agree – Lele gives so many more choices, more options. The more options you have, the more likely you are to win.

  2. Pretty much most meta decks in a nutshell: Lele is needed to pull things off efficiently. In your Golisopod Gx build you have Lele and you have Super Scoop Ups to help do a bevy of things, one of which involves taking a chance at Scooping up Lele when you might not have access to an Ultra Ball late game due to getting N’ed here and there. In other meta decks such as Metagross and Gardevoir, you can also compare Lele to Hoopa EX at it’s prime: you didn’t have to run Hoopa back in the day, but in terms of thinning out the deck, he was incredibly strong. Just take Mega Ray: Hoopa into Shaymin and two other EX’s, then Skyfield, then more Shaymin….Lele’ing for Brigette is the strongest start you could have with many decks nowadays! Sure it doesn’t thin out the deck as fast as the meta of years past, but its there in all its presence as the Swiss-Army Knife any deck would love to have for any situation.

    On the Budget level of decks (for the more casual of players), Lele is definitely strong but the price tag can definitely be a turn off. Still, in some decks it can be ran without it just fine (with a bit of risk of course), while in other builds it might actually be more of a liability than anything else.

    On my end I’ve tried an Arbok Build that I found on youtube not long ago. Now that deck has a load of trouble in my opinion: Arbok’s Hp not being on par with the likes of Baby Golisopod and Bewear, who both have damage reducing abilities, the attack not doing enough damage to make it a significant threat to decks on the Meta level, and then the biggest hassle: bench space. Servipers need to be on the bench for the poison condition to be at it’s best. In the build you have a 4-4 Arbok line, 3 serviper, Necrozma to weaken Ex and Gx pokemon, Lele’s of course, and Oranguru. Maybe if Skyfield was in standard the deck would have been okay, but in standard this build just doesn’t flow in my opinion, due to the fact that you have to play Brigette, you have to drop snakes down, and if you want Necrozma down, that’s another spot taken up. Recently I’ve taken a liking to Arbok as a pokemon. Don’t know why, but he’s neat (love the design, maybe because I grew up since Gen 1). Regardless, this type of build is best delegated to expanded, where you have LazerBank and of course: Vs seekers, AZ, Shaymin, etc. in standard, perhaps Lele can be removed, but Arbok is just outclassed by more budget friendly options (Golisopod just hits and inflicts about the same damage Arbok would leave behind with less setup) but….I’m so getting off point XD

    Anyways, a deck that I found performing surprisingly well without Lele was Machamp GX. Granted, it doesn’t do as well as it did when Buzzwole, Lycanroc, and Golisopods weren’t running as rampant by the majority, but the deck itself can flow pretty well if the right cards come into play, which isn’t so hard to pull off. Basically it’s more of a comeback deck in that you will lose Pokemon early game, but you won’t lose two prize attackers. Not having Lele will always be risky and prone to scoops, but for a player starting off, its a good beginners deck that’s affordable and fun.

    In terms of strategy, Brooklet Hill, Ultra Ball, and Rescue stretcher will be your methods of getting out your Pokemon and recovering your discarded mon’s as well. Carbink Break is there for acceleration when needed, Rare candy for faster evolutions, and Octillery becomes the main draw engine of the deck. As for the main attacker of the deck, Machamp Gx is often looked down upon for the seemingly low damage output, but three things make it shine here: it’s high HP, strong energy, and Choice Band. Once you get a Machamp up, it will not be easy to take down. Golisopod, Buzzwole, Gardevoir, and Tapu Bulu will more often than not 2 shot him, while Machamp can fight back hard against these pokemon, especially basics (such as Tapu Lele with Choice band and Strong energy, and Fighting weak pokemon such as Zoroark and Drampa). And the Gx attack, though weak by most people’s standards, can still take decisive wins if used on the right pokemon (such as a Gardevoir Gx with a lot of energy on it).

    Now when piloting the deck you have got to be conscious of where you attach your energy. Yes Carbink is a good energy accelerator, but you have to focus of setting up your Machamp and getting an energy on your attackers as the game goes on. Keep in mind that the deck does not have Float Stones, which means Guzma will have to be your means of retreat, but as long as you’re setting up, don’t worry about Octillery getting knocked out: just keep thinking of what you want to do next.

    And Machoke is a lifesaver when facing Koko, Ninetales, and even Buzzwole, since his bench protecting ability helps prevent any softening up plays that can lead to a loss. Just a thought.

    Ultimately, it takes more strategy to work with this sort of deck, but when you take your wins, you get that warm sense of accomplishment. Here’s the decklist (courtesy of LordFrieza26 on YouTube):

    ****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

    ##Pokémon – 17

    * 2 Carbink BREAK FCO 51
    * 2 Carbink FCO 50
    * 4 Machop EVO 57
    * 2 Machoke GRI 64
    * 3 Machamp-GX BUS 135
    * 2 Remoraid BKT 32
    * 2 Octillery BKT 33

    ##Trainer Cards – 31

    * 3 Professor Sycamore STS 114
    * 4 Brooklet Hill GRI 120
    * 4 N FCO 105
    * 2 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
    * 2 Shauna FCO 111
    * 3 Choice Band GRI 121
    * 3 Guzma BUS 115
    * 4 Ultra Ball SUM 135
    * 2 Field Blower GRI 125
    * 1 Professor Sycamore PHF 101
    * 3 Rare Candy SUM 129

    ##Energy – 12

    * 4 Strong Energy FCO 115
    * 8 Fighting Energy BLW 110

    Total Cards – 60

    ****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online http://www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******

    So my long rambling aside, what can I say about Lele….If you are somebody that is wanting to enter the competitive side of Pokemon and are willing to put in the work for the cards, the travel, and the endless playtesting to come: Invest in your Lele’s, in all your key cards that are universal in most builds, especially if you’re playing in Standard. It is far too powerful not to use, and while there may be the slight chance of future Pokemon cards coming out that may help lessen the reliance on Lele, you should still pick your playset up if you can.

    Don’t get discouraged if you cannot afford Lele’s at this time, just be patient, save up, and just have fun with the game. Play expanded if you’d like (since Vs Seekers and Shaymin are available to you, among other classic cards from years past). If you are a casual player and want to win with a Lele-less deck in standard, do your best. Just do what you love so long as you’re enjoying yourself, no discouragement if you take loses, just play on: find that deck you can pilot with your eyes closed (figuratively speaking). And for those that want to have fun with competitive decks, but can’t afford them (and won’t play in tournaments): pick yourself up a Championship deck, be it from 2017, 16, and so on. They aren’t tournament legal, but they are replicas of decks that were played by finalists and renowned players from the previous formats. Its a great way to get a grasp of the game in real life while fiddling with it til you go for the actual cards themselves.

    As for a very random note: Battle Arena decks. When Pokemon releases these products, take into consideration these sets to help you get the cards that you need quicker, whether it be for Standard or Expanded.

    And to you Mr. 21Times, thank you for another fine article!

    1. Thank you, Juan, for that excellent response. I don’t know about Arbok, but I’ll give your Machamp deck a shot.

      1. You’re welcome! You don’t have to try it out since the meta has kinda changed since the rise of the Crimson Invasion’s powerhouses so Machamp might have lost some viability (and psychic will always be a hindrance). And major precaution: I’m not sure if any improvements could be made to it readily, but I would at least keep the Pokemon line intact (in the past I made an honest effort to try the other Machamp out there…and it wasn’t so effective). Lele could work, (maybe a 1 of for emergencies), but for the build I grew accustomed without her since it would’ve been an easy 2 prizes taken from my opponent in many of the games I’ve played.

        And I do apologize for going off track again in my comment (I got lost in all the thoughts and typed away). As for the Arbok: definitely do not try it. I’m honestly waiting for a strong pokemon to take advantage of Serviper and if it could be a Toxicroak GX or someone along those lines, Poison could take off. Now if they ever bring back Hypnotoxic Lazer….that could get nasty.

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