First and foremost, apologies to everyone who was rightfully expecting another article to be out before the 21st. I had a load of real life issues to be sorted out (I’ll spare you the details), but as a result we weren’t able to get an article out in time for San Jose’s Expanded Regionals.
So with your permission instead of trying to catch up to a ship that’s sailed I would like to move on to London Internationals and what its results mean for the next Standard tournament (Memphis Regionals).
London Internationals was the first big test: what people would play with spicy prizes on the line with the two new big sets, Crimson Invasion and Shining Legends. My own prediction was that we would see a lot of the same old decks (Gardevoir, Garbodor, Volcanion) with Zoroark-GX splashed in as a techable option to increase consistency, though I also thought the new Metal Pokémon could make a showing if any new deck would.
Obviously the results were a bit more diverse than that. As always, you can see the detailed results here.
Zoroark/Golisopod was by far the most successful deck, taking 1st, 8th, 9th, 20th, 23rd and 24th place (as well as 35th, 57th and 62nd). Gardevoir only had one spot in the Top 8 (3rd place), but it was also all over the Top 32 once you go below the Top 8 treshold.
Much unlike during the rest of the season, Garbodor decks were nowhere to be seen other than a few Golispod/Garbodor appearances, the first “old” Garbodor appearance being in 37th place as Espeon GX/Garbodor. However, it is worth noting that Golisopod/Garbodor did win the Senior division.
Volcanion managed to get into 7th place and nowhere else in all of the Top 32, though again there’s a lot of them in that Top 64 range, showing that the deck is still played but so far incapable of reaching Day 2. This is probably the reason Decidueye/Zoroark performed as well as it did, making it to 10th, 12th, as well as 4 other spots in the Top 64, even though Decidueye was generally thought of as done for after the rotation of Forest of Giant Plants.
Buzzwhole made more of an impact than I thought it would, reaching 5th and 6th place when paired with Lycanroc GX, but it also made other appearances like with the Decidueye in 10th place, with Silvally in 27th place, Garbodor in 36th and Zoroark in 56th, showing that the Pokémon does have potential. Especially now that Psychic weakness seems to be less of an issue, I think Buzzwhole might be around to stay for a bit.
That’s a quick sum-up of what the results table shows us. I’d now like to take a look at the most successful decks in more detail, see what’s probably going to be done with them and against them in the near future and whether they’ll remain good plays or not for Memphis.
We can’t talk about London without mentioning this concoction of Tord Reklev’s. He and several friends of his playtested this deck heavily and got into the higher rankings, including the highest possible, as a result.
The winning list breaks a bit with Tord’s last well-known list of Drampa/Garbodor (also known as “4 of everything ever) in that it’s a bit more teched out, which gives some very interesting points of discussion.
Here’s the whole thing:
Pokémon – 20
4 Zorua SLG
1 Zoroark BKT
1 Mr. Mime BKT
3 Wimpod BUS
1 Tapu Koko PR-SM
1 Mewtwo EVO
3 Tapu Lele-GX
Trainer Cards – 33
2 Professor Sycamore
4 Puzzle of Time
4 Ultra Ball
4 Field Blower
2 Choice Band
2 Enhanced Hammer
Energy – 7
4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Grass Energy
Total Cards – 60
The core of the deck is Zororark-GX. At first sight its attack doesn’t make it seem like it’s worth basing a deck around: it caps at 120 damage before Choice Band and other modifiers, so against most of the format it’s going to be trading 2HKOs. However, the other properties of the card are so good that it all works out.
Trade gives the deck a massive boost in consistency, which in itself is a huge boon but it also makes up for the lack of raw power. It’s perfectly okay to trade 2HKOs with most of the format if you’re also able to consistently draw into Acerola, because then your 2HKOs are eventually going to get KOs while your opponent will be denied prizes. It also lets you use Guzma more easily, picking off things you weakened before, while also letting you hide a damaged Zoroark on the bench.
This all wouldn’t work as well if Zoroark wasn’t able to attack without a single Double Colorless attachment, of course. But because it can, it can also be partnered with just about any partner.
The partner of choice here is Golisopod for a couple of reasons:
It synergizes well with the high amount of Guzma and Acerola you play and are able to play during a game
It hits for weakness on Greninja, one of the few things that Zoroark has a bit of an issue with once it’s set up
It does not require much investment energy-wise, only needing a single Grass attachment to do its thing
It has a powerful GX attack that can be used with Double Colorless Energy
It can deal fairly well with Fighting Pokémon that Zoroark is weak to: Lycanroc is weak to Grass, Gallade can be OHKO’d by the GX attack or 2HKO’d otherwise, and it can 2HKO Buzzwhole
That’s the core of the deck, but there’s a lot more intricacies to explore. Zoroark’s Trade opens up a whole new avenue of deck building that was not previously possible due to the lack of consistency. Instead of having to discard or shuffle in your hand all the time, you can get to a point where you can stockpile resources into your hand. Due to this, the deck can get away with only playing 2 Professor Sycamore.
It also opens up the possibility of playing Puzzle of Time, since you’re more likely to draw into a pair of them if you’re increasing your hand size. Thanks to Puzzle of Time, Zoroark will almost always come out on top in a war of attrition where both players are just 2HKOing each other turn after turn, since no other deck has more than 4 Acerola at its disposal.
The other part of Trade (the discard 1 card part) is also helpful. It lets the deck play a bunch of cards that are only good in certain matchups or certain points in the game and discard them at will. This is what brought Tord to the inclusion of a massive 3 Brigette, never having to deal with prizing his only copy and often being able to straight up play it from his hand without even having to bench a Tapu Lele. Including all Ultra Balls and Tapu Leles, the deck has a massive 10 outs to a turn 1 Brigette, which is crucial for getting out the basics before evolving them into Stage 1s.
For similar reasons he can play 2 Enhanced Hammer, using them to full effect against Gardevoir or Fighting decks to get rid of Special Energy, or just Trade them in for 2 better cards against a deck like Volcanion. When watching Tord on stream, I also saw him ditch one of his 4 Field Blower a lot. Field Blower in this case was mostly a way to get rid of Po Town so that his Pokémon didn’t get reduced to 180 HP upon evolving as well as a counter to Fighting Fury Belt, but when that’s not applicable you can of course discard those too. The combination of ditching cards you do not want and always being able to draw 2 cards with an ability makes it almost impossible sometimes to draw dead off an N.
Other techs in the deck include:
Mr. Mime, to prevent the snipe damage from Ninetales-GX, Tapu Koko and Buzzwhole.
Tapu Koko, a pivot to switch into between Acerolas that can also set up future KOs. The most notable example is that putting 20 damage on a Tapu Lele leaves it at exactly 150 HP, enough for a Choice Band First Impression, Choice Band Riotous Beating or naked Crossing Cut GX.
Mewtwo, a safe Pokémon to use against Buzzwhole and both Espeons as it hits them for weakness. It can also sometimes combine for a 2HKO on a random GX, depending on their HP and your number of Choice Bands.
Zoroark BKT, another single-prize attacker that can deal up to 190 damage if your opponent is foolish enough to fill their bench. You should generally prioritize Zoroark-GX and get as many Trades online as you can, but sometimes it can come in clutch. It can also help a stranded Golisopod escape the active position with Stand In. The deck does not play Float Stone though, so usually if you want Golisopod to go back and forth it’s easier to make use of Acerola, Guzma and Tapu Koko.
And again, in games where they’re not relevant, they can just be discarded, meaning the only real price you pay for including them is the deck space. But you might be able to tell that there was plenty of space in the list overall, given the 3 Brigette and 4 Field Blower.
Going forward, I think this deck will be a go-to safe play for a lot of people: it will be “deck A”, and it will take a bit of time to see whether it can hold that position. Decks in London already seemed to be somewhat teched against Zoroarks, though not as much as they could be. For example, not all of the high-placing Gardevoir played 2 Gallade. I think 2 Gallade will be the standard going forward and that will make things a little tougher, but you have to remember that Gardevoir will still be a frail Stage 2 deck going forward that an aggressive deck like this can take advantage of, at least in 1 game in a best out of three.
There were already several Fighting-based decks near the top. The Silvally decks already played 2 Fighting Memory. The deck’s (arguably) easiest matchup, Garbodor variants, were missing in action. The only real thing that I think is going to change is that Volcanion decks are going to pick up in play a bit: they are capable of circumventing the constant healing and retreating through Acerola and Guzma with straight up OHKOs. Golisopod GX wouldn’t dare to show its ugly face against a Fire deck in most circumstances, and Zoroark can be OHKO’d by a Turtonator or Ho-oh given enough Steam Ups.
All of this speaks in Volcanion’s favor, while it’s also reasonably strong against the rest of the field, especially the Metal and Decidueye decks. Gardevoir remains a tough matchup but people are trending away from playing Sylveon, and therefore the Parallel/Plea GX combo that is so devastating to Volcanion. Another troublesome matchup for Volcanion, Garbodor, seems to fall out of favor. So if anything I think things are looking up for Volcanion decks from here.
The rest of this article is available to Premium Membership subscribers only.
If you’d like to learn more about the Premium Membership program and sign up for just $6 a month, please click on the banner below!