Exploring the Gym Leader Challenge Format!
Good morning Trainers! What we’re about to talk about today is an explainer on something that has gotten a lot of hype lately, most of it due to avid YouTuber and content creator Andrew Mahone. He has been a very big advocate for the Gym Leader Challenge format (sometimes noted as the GLC format), which I’m unaware of its origins however I do know that the Tricky Gym gentleman himself has popularized it to the point where other content creators such as AzulGG have picked up the format and it seems to be a lot of fun. We’re going to go over what the format actually is, a deck concept to get your feet wet, and in doing so I hope you’ll be able to see why this is such a uniquely fun format that has a lot to offer in terms of versatility and game tempo. Let’s take a peek at one of my favourite formats as of lately, the Gym Leader Challenge format!
I booted up my Pokemon Trading Card Game Online app, loaded up some PTCGO codes, and then traded those Pokemon online codes to trade for the decks in this article. I was very excited, and it honestly didn’t take that many PTCGO codes to make the decks. If you’re looking to buy some codes, we sell them here on the Buy PTCGO Codes store, and I highly urge you to check out our competitive pricing and swift delivery!

Let’s talk about the Gym Leader Challenge format today.

Rules of the Gym Leader Challenge (GLC) Format:

Only one type of Pokemon in your deck
No Rule Box Pokemon; e.g. V, GX, EX, TAG TEAM, Prism Star, BREAK Pokemon
The format is Black & White on, meaning all cards in the Black & White block, XY block, Sun & Moon block, and finally the Sword and Shield block.
The regular Expanded bans do NOT apply, meaning you can play Chip Chip Ice Axe, Lysandre's Trump Card, Lt. Surge's Strategy, Forest of Giant Plants, and many more you wouldn't usually be able to play in the Expanded Format!
And finally, one of the most important rules, you cannot have more than one of every card in your deck except for Basic Energy, even if the cards have different attacks; same name, same card!

Mono Water Deck List

  • Pokemon - 18
  • 1 Lapras TEU 31
  • 1 Mudkip CES 32
  • 1 Marshtomp CES 34
  • 1 Swampert CES 35
  • 1 Remoraid BKT 32
  • 1 Octillery BKT 33
  • 1 Snom SHF 29
  • 1 Frosmoth SHF 107
  • 1 Sobble SSH 55
  • 1 Drizzile SHF 99
  • 1 Inteleon SSH 58
  • 1 Squirtle BCR 29
  • 1 Wartortle PLB 15
  • 1 Blastoise PLS 137
  • 1 Staryu BKP 25
  • 1 Starmie EVO 31
  • 1 Wailmer VIV 31
  • 1 Wailord VIV 32
  • Trainer Cards - 30
  • 1 Brooklet Hill GRI 120
  • 1 Ball Guy SHF 57
  • 1 N FCO 105
  • 1 Super Rod DRV 20
  • 1 Rough Seas PRC 137
  • 1 Sonia RCL 192
  • 1 Professor Juniper PLF 116
  • 1 Professor's Letter XY 123
  • 1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
  • 1 Timer Ball SUM 134
  • 1 Dive Ball PRC 161
  • 1 Marnie SSH 200
  • 1 Tate & Liza CES 148
  • 1 Nest Ball SUM 123
  • 1 Stadium Nav UNM 208
  • 1 Evosoda XY 116
  • 1 Ultra Ball SUM 161
  • 1 Boss's Orders RCL 189
  • 1 Guzma BUS 115
  • 1 Colress PLS 118
  • 1 Float Stone PLF 99
  • 1 Cynthia UPR 148
  • 1 Brigette BKT 161
  • 1 Rare Candy PLB 105
  • 1 Energy Recycler FLI 143
  • 1 Hex Maniac AOR 75
  • 1 Quick Ball SSH 216
  • 1 Capacious Bucket RCL 156
  • 1 VS Seeker PHF 109
  • 1 Level Ball NXD 89
  • Energy - 11
  • 11 Water Energy SMEnergy 3

Our Pokemon

1-1 Starmie – Starmie is a great support Pokemon that can aid you with getting energy from your discard pile to your hand. It has a lot of synergy with other Pokemon in your deck such as Swampert, Frosmoth, and most importantly Blastoise! This is a card which can theoretically give you infinite energy access throughout a game, so it’s vital to our strategy (especially when you need to power up six attackers in some games).

1 Alolan Vulpix – This card became very popularized when Metagross-GX had first come onto the scene, and stuck around in that format ever since. Being able to push Vulpix into the active and attack with Beacon for free will allow you to search out your mainstay Pokemon like Blastoise or Inteleon Vuplix is too valuable of a resource in Water decks to not play.

1-1-1 Blastoise – This is one of the reasons why Water is so powerful, and it is one of a few ways that we can accelerate energy onto our Pokemon. Blastoise has a decent attack however it isn’t efficient and doesn’t hit magic numbers. Most Basic Pokemon in this format have 130ish HP so being able to hit those numbers is important! With Blastoise, we can’t get there efficiently, unfortunately. However, this Pokemon can fuel up our other slew of attackers of whom can definitely hit those magic numbers.

1-1 Frosmoth – Another way to accelerate energy onto our Pokemon, Frosmoth offers a quicker option that doesn’t require getting a Stage 2 into play. This quicker acceleration does come with the caveat that you can only power up benched Pokemon, which means we can’t throw energy onto the active. This isn’t too hard considering the wide range of mobility cards we play to move our attacker from the bench to the active. This 1-1 line is a strong option to have, especially when ‘Stoise is prized.

1-1-1 Inteleon – Yet another consistency Stage 2 that can help us search out many of our 1-of Trainers, but also possesses some strong attacks on the Inteleon. Inteleon can finish off Pokemon once they hit the bench after a big hit, or help to soften up threats on future turns.

1-1-1 Swampert – Swampert can aid us in setting up our Pokemon by allowing us to draw cards; we can have infinite cards to discard by setting up Starmie and consistently discarding energies with Power Draw. Swampert can attack for solid numbers and effectively do infinite damage, so this is one of our heaviest hitters in the deck. Swampert also has a different weakness which is key in certain matchups.

1-1 Octillery – By now you can see that Water is such a powerhouse archetype because there are so many consistency Pokemon available (that can also put some heavy attacking pressure on our opponent’s side of the field). Octillery’s Abyssal Hand can refresh our hand up to five and unlock options to draw our many 1-ofs in the deck. We don’t usually attack with Octillery, but it can be nice to trap something in the active with its attack.

1-1 Wailord – This Pokemon boasts an insane amount of HP and a relatively efficient when paired alongside either Frosmoth/Blastoise to accelerate energy onto it. Wailord can easily trade with other decks, usually taking 2-3 Prize Cards before hitting the discard pile. This is our main attacker as it is just a huge hurdle for the opponent to get over.

1 Lapras – A strong basic attacker that can be powered up efficiently with Frosmoth/Blastoise.

Our Trainers

Ball /Pokemon Search Cards

Quick Ball
Ultra Ball
Dive Ball
Timer Ball
Level Ball
Nest Ball
Evolution Incense
Ball Guy

These cards are all 1-ofs that will help us to find key Pokemon in our deck. They’re essential to having a strong board state and eventually getting our thin Pokemon lines up and running. Our wide variety of cards means we will have options for any occasion.


Gust Cards


Simple concept, very powerful. Especially when you know your opponent only can play 1-ofs in their deck, taking out threats on the opponent’s side is so important.

Draw Supporters

Professor’s Research
Tate & Liza

This list is a little light on draw Supporters but I think that’s alright given how many consistency cards there are in this deck in the form of Pokemon. Once you set up Octillery, you’re pretty much good to go. That, and there are so many good Supporters in this deck that you want to play that aren’t draw-based. Here’s a few interesting cards we play in this deck that are interesting points of conversation:

1 Hex Maniac – Traditionally a banned card in expanded, Hex Maniac makes a return in this format where it is quite balanced. With VS Seeker, you can have access to two of these pivotal cards per game. Let me tell you: they are game-breaking when timed correctly!

1 Rare Candy – We have a plethora of Stage 2 Pokemon, this just makes it easier to get them into play. It also helps getting out a Stage 2 when you prized your Stage 1s.

1 Super Rod – A vital card to recover Pokemon that are 1-ofs.

1 Rough Seas – Stadiums aren’t the most popular thing in this format, so having a copy or two of a viable Stadium can change the tides of any game. Being able to stick a Stadium card of preference in play is amazing and not to be underestimated!

1 Brooklet Hill – Almost like a Ball Card, but it sticks in play and can bump an opposing Stadium from play. Both Brooklet Hill and Rough Seas are searchable via our copy of Stadium Nav.

1 Float Stone – A very vital card for mobility, this and Guzma are really the only switching options we play in this deck. You can get away with these counts since Starmie can retrieve energy, and Blastoise can attach as many energy as you like, meaning you can retreat infinitely throughout the game without much of a drawback.

1 Energy Recycler – Some games, Starmie gets KO’d, is prized, or you just need to get your energy out of the discard pile. That’s why we play Energy Recycler – it’s your one-stop-shop for everything energy related.

11 Water Energy – These 11 copies of basic Water Energy are clutch because you can search them out with Professor’s Letter, or Capacious Bucket. They can be retrieved via Starmie as well which is a huge plus. I’d consider playing a copy of Splash Energy or Wash Energy because they are both great inclusions in their own right.


This format is a labor of love from the people who love to play this game the most; every single match is just played in the spirit of Pokemon, and it really shows how creative people can get in the middle of a pandemic. I would suggest trying this format out with your friends and I’d consider trying out different types of decks (as well as different types of cards). The whole expanded format is your oyster, so choose your slots wisely! The decks discussed in this article require some new stuff from Chilling Reign, as well as some old stuff from previous expanded expansions, so you should check out our shop for your PTCGO code needs. I’d suggest nabbing some Pokemon TCG Codes Online and building some GLC format decks online because this format will only get more popular as more online tournaments are released for it. Until next time, have fun!

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