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Sablelock was widely regarded as the best deck in the format during the second half of the 2009-2010 season. Among many other tournament victories with the deck, a Sablelock player, Con Le, was the winner of the 2010 United States National Championships. Sablelock was played for its disruptive capabilities, ability to donk, and ease of setup. Many cards in Sablelock were rotated prior to the 2011 United States National Championships; the deck is no longer legal for competitive play. An alternative variation of Sablelock, dubbed Chenlock, relied heavily on Smeargle utilized Blaziken FB and Blaziken FB LV.X as alternative attackers.
The ideal start for Sablelock was, as the name suggests, Sableye. Sableye's Overeager Poké-Body allowed the player to always go first when starting with it, except against another Sableye. Going first, although it prevented the player from using Trainer cards, Supporter cards, or Stadium cards, allowed Sableye to either knock out the opponent's Active Pokémon with Overconfident or use Impersonate to use whatever Supporter they chose. Overconfident cost only one energy. With a Special Darkness energy, it reached 50 damage, enough to knock out many Basic Pokémon. Crobat G could often be played to do an additional 10 damage with its Flash Bite Poké-Power. Sablelock occasionally won by knocking out the opponent's only Basic Pokémon on the first turn. However, if a knockout was not possible, Impersonate was used. Generally, the Supporter chosen was a Cyrus's Initiative to decrease the opponent's options early in the game, but if Sablelock was subject to a bad start, Pokémon Collector and Cyrus's Conspiracy were common choices.
After the first turn, Sablelock attempted to lock down the opponent by limiting the cards they had in hand through Cyrus's Initiative, Judge, Giratina, and Power Spray. Judge and Giratina's Let Loose Poké-Power functioned in essentially the same way, dropping the opponent's hand size to four cards. Chatot G could rearrange the top four cards of the opponent's deck so that he or she could not draw into useful cards and recover from the lock. While limiting the opponent's options, Sablelock aimed to snipe the opponent's bench and knocks out their Basics for cheap prizes using Honchkrow G and Garchomp C LV.X.
Sablelock had a strong engine in Cyrus's Conspiracy. Cyrus's Conspiracy allowed the player to search his or her deck for one Supporter card, one Trainer card with Team Galactic's Invention in its name, and one Basic Energy card. This meant that the Sablelock player could usually keep his or her hand stocked with useful Supporters, keep up a high level of disruption with Power Spray, and always have the Energy necessary to attack. Uxie was a critical part of the deck because it provided a powerful drawing ability in its Set Up Poké-Power. Early in the game, Sablelock often ran low on cards. Set Up replenished the hand by allowing the player to draw until he or she had seven cards. Uxie could later be leveled up into Uxie LV.X for extra drawing with its Trade Off Poké-Power and a powerful attack in Zen Blade.
- Sableye - Sableye was used to take early knockouts with Overconfident and for earlygame setup and/or disruption with Impersonate.
- Garchomp C LV.X - Garchomp C LV.X provided a powerful attacker that could do 80 damage to any opponent's Pokémon for only with Dragon Rush. This cost was generally covered by Energy Gain and one Double Colorless Energy.
- Honchkrow G - Essentially a weaker but more consistent version of Garchomp C LV.X, Honchkrow G could do 40 damage to any Pokémon in play with damage on it for with Target Attack. If a Sableye start was not possible, Honchkrow G could also assist the Sablelock player's setup with Honcho's Command.
- Honchkrow - Honchkrow was the deck's heavy hitter. It was used to knock out an opponent's Active Pokémon, whereas Garchomp C LV.X was typically used to attack the bench. It was initially used in the deck as a counter to Machamp, a tremendous threat to Sablelock.
- Uxie - Uxie was a one-time-use support Pokémon, allowing the player to draw extra cards with its Set Up Poké-Power.
- Cyrus's Conspiracy - As described above, Cyrus's Conspiracy was the deck's most important searching Supporter card.
- Cyrus's Initiative - Cyrus's Initiative was commonly used through Sableye's Impersonate to limit the opponent's cards in hand early in the game.
- Poké Turn - Poké Turn allowed the Sablelock player to scoop up any Pokémon SP and return it to his or her hand. This effect was often used to allow the usage of Dragon Rush two turns in a row by scooping up Garchomp C LV.X; to use Crobat G's Flash Bite multiple times; or to rectify a bad start such as Chatot G.
- Power Spray was used to prevent the opponent from using Poké-Powers to set up early in the game. Power Spraying an opponent's Set Up could be devastating if the opponent had few cards in his or her hand.
- Energy Gain was used to power Garchomp C LV.X's Dragon Rush, and the attacks of other Pokémon SP, more efficiently.
- Double Colorless Energy - Double Colorless Energy was vitally important to Sablelock, as it provided an inexpensive way to power up Garchomp C LV.X's Dragon Rush and Honchkrow's Riot attacks.
- Chatot G - Chatot G's Poké-Power, Disrupting Spy, let the user look at the top four cards of the opponent's deck and put them back in any order. This generally allowed the Sablelock player to force the opponent to draw poorly, furthering the extent to which his or her setup was disrupted. Chatot G could use its free attack, Search and Escape, to search the deck for a trainer card and also putting Chatot G in the deck.
The deck list appearing below is not official; it is meant to represent an average build of the archetype, not specifically constructed for any regional metagame. Being that this is merely an archetype, a player may wish to change any part of this deck when building his or her own version.
Possible Tech Cards
The following cards are often used in Sablelock in place of certain cards included in the above list.
- Blaziken FB and Blaziken FB LV.X - Although Blaziken FB LV.X was used exclusively as an additional attacker, Blaziken FB had the potential to assist with Sablelock's disruption goal. With its Luring Flame attack, Blaziken FB could bring up an opponent's benched Pokémon to the active spot. The ability to remove the opponent's starter from the active position and bring up a weakened attacker or support Pokémon from the opponent's bench proved greatly valuable in Chenlock variants of the deck.
- Smeargle - After its release in the Undaunted expansion, Smeargle became almost a staple in Sablelock variants. Two to three copies of the card were used for its Portrait Poké-Power, which often allowed the deck an extra Supporter card play each turn. Smeargle is not included in the above list, as its inclusion in the deck came after the height of Sablelock's popularity.
- Mewtwo LV.X - Mewtwo LV.X provides a way to easily beat other decks based on Pokémon SP. Its Poké-Body, Psybarrier prevents it from being damaged by Basic Pokémon.
- Azelf - Azelf's Time Walk Poké-Power can be used in the event that an important Pokémon card(s) is prized. The above build does not use Azelf because it runs two of most critical Pokémon, such as Garchomp C LV.X and Honchkrow.
- Slowking - Slowking's Poké-Power, Second Sight, lets the user look at the top three cards of the opponent's or user's deck and put them back on top in any order. This is very similar to Chatot G's Disrupting Spy. However, it can look at the top cards of both decks and can only look at the top three cards. Slowking can take up bench space and can't be picked up by Poké-Turn like Chatot G can but it can look at the top cards of the opponent's deck every turn so the user can disrupt, unlike Chatot G which has to be picked up in order to use its Poké-Power again.
- Cyclone Energy - Cyclone Energy fits in with the concept of disruption, since it forces the opponent to change their Active Pokémon and, as a result, their attacking pattern.
- Aaron's Collection - Aaron's Collection can be used in place of Palmer's Contribution. Although it does not allow the Sablelock player to retrieve as many Pokémon and Energies from his or her discard pile, they are placed into the player's hand rather than shuffled into their deck.