Hola 6P! After quite a weekend in London, where we had Crimson Invasion show its true colors and how good of a set it actually is, we now have San Jose on the horizon for this weekend.
Our Expanded format somewhat mirrors Japan’s format and thus, based on what was reported by PokéStats back in September, we’re heading in to a Zoroark-GX dominated format. Not that our Standard is any different though, as we saw Zororark-GX based decks do really well in London.
Zoroark-GX can easily be included into any deck, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see decks such as Night March, Vespiquen and Golisopod have a strong showings with Zoroark-GX as their main support Pokémon. We could also see more Zoroark-GX heavy decks such as a Toolbox version (with Necromza-GX, Tapu Koko, Alolan Vulpix, Mimikyu, etc.) or paired with Lycanroc-GX in order to have a direct response to Zoroark itself.
No matter what, I’d venture to say that, at the very least, 50% of the Day 2 decks in San Jose will have Zoroark-GX in them. Having said that, Buzzwole-GX, Silvally-GX and Gardevoir-GX are also some of the decks I’d expect to have a presence in the metagame, solely because of how much success they enjoyed recently in London.
With such a wide pool of cards and viable decks in the format, it’s hard to narrow down a deck choice. With so little time between London and San Jose, and my last Expanded venture being all the way back in September at Ft. Wayne, I won’t be giving you the end-all, be-all play for the Regional. I will however, go over the 3 decks I’m considering the most, following the logic I used for Ft. Wayne, which was also right after Worlds. These include two Zoroark-GX variants (Lycanroc-GX and Golisopod-GX) and one very straightforward Gardevoir-GX deck.
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Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX as a concept has been very appealing to me for a while now, because the Trade Ability provides draw and Bloodthirsty Eyes allows you to target any Pokémon you need. On top of this, you are still able to play a Supporter. Any other deck would have to utilize one in order to get any of those effects, so those assets plus the cost effective attacks make it so that it seems like an overall great strategy. The deck I was trying out in Standard, but ultimately dropped, was very similar to the Japanese 2nd place list used by former World Champion, Shintaro Ito (once again, credit to PokéStats for their article and deck info).
However, in Expanded, I actually don’t have any restrictions on the deck, and can actually add onto it other cards such as Colress and Exeggcute PLF, allowing the deck an infinite loop of draw. Exeggcute also offers an easy discard/extra Basic every time your Sky Field gets bumped and you put another into play.
The deck is, of course, much stronger than its Standard counterpart solely because Sky Field actually lets Zoroark-GX get to some crazy high numbers: 210 to be exact, with a full Bench and a Choice Band. Having this OHKO potential for a single DCE, on top of a great card advantage Ability, with the possibility to choose who you end up attacking? This is by far my favorite deck going into San Jose. The other advantage of Lycanroc-GX is the Weakness advantage you gain over other Zoroark based decks. One counterpoint to this, however, is that Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX is also a deck that will probably appear. Thus, Golisopod-GX is able to take on your Lycanroc without too much trouble.
With the very limited time available to me between coaching, London prep and just day to day life activities and chores, here’s the potential list I’ve settled on so far for the deck:
Pokémon – 22
2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI
Trainers – 31
Energy – 7
Sudowoodo, I believe, will be a staple now—not only to counter Zoroark, but also to keep Zoroark mirrors in check. Lycanroc-GX versions of the deck actually have an easier time dealing with opposing Sudowoodos, which is another big selling point for me.
The energy split is weird, and it’s purely based off of Shintaro’s list. Strong Energy hasn’t been particularly useful in hitting any specific numbers, and I think just going with 3 Basic Fighting so that you potentially power up a Zoroark with 2 Fighting could simply be more solid.
The next Zoroark-GX deck I’m considering heavily for the event is a variant off of Tord’s winning Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX list from London. Adapted to Expanded of course, with techs like Sudowood over Mewtwo and Mr. Mime, in order to better deal with the Expanded metagame with heavy Zoroark-GX.
The list trades away the heavy Supporter use for VS Seeker’s, as it gives the deck even more flexibility, albeit making it weaker to Item Locking strategies. Many people have disregarded Trevenant as Zoroark-Gx is now a thing, but I don’t think Zoroark-GX is that good against it as Trevenant decks are usually filled with Energy denial cards and Zoroark is very reliant on DCE.
Float Stones come back into the deck for this very reason, although I could see myself dropping them for the extra Zoroark-GX and an extra Brigette if they don’t prove useful enough. The rest of the deck is pretty straightforward and now you have the amazing Golisopod-GX as an attacker, along with Sky Field + Zoroark-GX to compliment that.
Here is how my current list looks like, with 1 Exeggcute being my top priority to include into the deck but I’m genuinely at a loss as to what I could drop for it:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 34
Energy – 8
One great thing about this deck is its inherent advantage against the Lycanroc we might see pop up to counter Zoroark-GX, as it’s a very easy KO with First Impression. The downside is that Sudowoodo could potentially cause more harm than good: it’s not as easy to deal with since you have to actually use a Guzma to take it out.
Oricorio is another tech that is clearly missing from the list. However, Golisopod-GX + Acerola can be very tough for Night March to deal with. Not only that, but Armor Press is an amazing attack to make sure your Golisopod can’t be OHKO by pretty much anything, and a Choice Band’d First Impression can easily take down the Marshadow-GX trying to prey on the Zoroark. This is the reason why Oricorio didn’t quite make the cut, but if there’s a lot of Night March in the room, it could easily be included back into the deck.
The last deck I wanted to touch upon is Gardevoir-GX. I made what some would call a lapse in judgement before London and decided to give Greninja one last chance to redeem itself. It clearly didn’t work out, although objectively I was one energy away from having a very, very good chance at making Day 2.
Having not trusted Gardevoir-GX in London, I might be ready to give it a go in Expanded, especially after seeing it post some good results getting quite a few Top 32s in Daytona, and even a Top 8.
The Top 8 list is as close as possible to what I would like in such a deck, as it even has the Comfey GRI to protect from Hypnotoxic Lasers and even Malamar-EX’s Ability. No Max Potions in Expanded as of yet, though after seeing their success in London, they are definitely enticing.
So far, this is the list I’ve sleeved up. It has the trademark 2 Brigette, and it should play very similar to a Standard Gardevoir-GX deck, except for the fact that now you have access to Teammates, which is one of the cards I was always sorely missing since the format rotated.
Pokémon – 18
3 Gardevoir-GX BUS
3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI
Trainers – 30
Energy – 12
The list is actually extremely close to the Worlds winning list, except it includes Colress and Computer Search, two of the best cards from the BW block. Having VS Seeker to chain Acerola or Teammates makes the deck that much stronger and is probably one of the reasons it can still compete in this extremely fast-paced metagame.
With the huge amount of Zoroark-GX expected in San Jose, I wouldn’t be surprised to see myself include a second copy of Gallade. Why wouldn’t we want to have an easier time OHKOing what’s looking to be the most popular card in the format? Finding the cut for that would be quite tricky, but I think the Comfey might be it?
Comfey protects you from Special Conditions ruining your day, but most importantly, it protects you from Darkrai-GX easily OHKOing your Gardevoir with a GX attack. Although getting a Basic out can’t be compared to getting a whole Stage 2 out, forcing Turbo Dark to deal with 2 Gallade instead of just 1 just seems like an impossible feat as long as you’re not dead drawing.
Note that these are definitely amongst my top 3 choices for the tournament this weekend, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t end up using Night March or Turbo Turtles or even Garbodor Toolbox. Those are just decks I’m keeping in the back of my mind for now, and the very limited testing time I have between each tournament will be dedicated mostly to the above 3. If none of those post the results I expect them or I’d like them to, I could just as easily default to an easier to pilot deck.
Moving on to a different subject, I definitely realize San Jose will be one of the smaller Regionals based on accessibility and also it being Thanksgiving. In Mexico we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and it’ll be my first time doing something special on such an occasion so I’m looking forward to that!
The next Regional after this one is Memphis and that is definitely going to be a completely different story. It’s centrally located, many people will have holidays by then and the tournament is looking to be one of the biggest ones yet! VIP Stages, Pro-Team battles and the Regional itself are but few of the amazing activities going on that weekend. It’s also the next big Standard tournament after London and the huge splash of innovative decks that came out of Crimson Invasions + Shining Legends, where before both sets were regarded as potentially the weakest of the SM block.
Your guess as to how the metagame will shift is as good as mine, but I think there’s an even less clear ‘tier list’ now than there was right before the new set hit. Decks comprising Gardevoir-GX, Golisopod-GX, Zoroark-GX, Silvally-GX, Buzzwole-GX etc. are all currently viable and there’s a lot of room for creativity, not only in Pokémon included in decks (as exemplified by Zakary Krekeler’s 2nd place Silvally deck with Kartana-GX, Celesteela-GX and Genesect-EX) but also in the specific draw engines for certain decks (as shown by the first place 3 Brigette 2 Professor Sycamore engine).
The top 3 performing decks from London could arguably be our next “top 3 decks” of the format. We’re at an impasse that reminds of Worlds where we had a potential love triangle: Gardevoir > Fire decks > Metagross > Gardy, except now it’s a lot more blurry with Golisopod-GX / Zoroark-GX on paper struggling against Gardevoir decks that contain 2 Gallade, but still being able to beat them based on consistency and an immense amount of early pressure. Silvally decks could start teching Reshiram to deal with Golisopod, as the only viable way to OHKO it is a Crossing Cut GX—that’s only possible once.
Volcanion or Fire decks in general are also in very awkward spots where they’re potentially very good against Golisopod and Silvally decks, but outright awful against Gardevoir, as always. Silvally-GX doesn’t necessarily help the archetype too much, although the permanent free retreat is, of course, a very welcome addition to the deck. Other viable decks include Greninja, aggro Buzzwole Toolbox, and Decidueye variants, which have enough tools to get around the top decks as well.
Garbodor is definitely the biggest loser with Crimson Invasion, despite Puzzle of Time seeing more play. We now have huge HP Stage 1 attackers that can easily one-shot Garbodor and its companions, along with the ever-present Gardevoir decks which now have a direct response to the ‘Devolution package’ with the heavy Max Potion use.
To sum up, Standard is a huge mess, and just based on hype, Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX is enemy number 1 now over Gardevoir. A lot of decks that could potentially try and deal with that deck would probably not have a great Gardevoir matchup, so heading into Memphis, we could easily see a metagame just as, if not more, diverse than what we saw in London, with newer strategies even more refined.
So, those are my current thoughts post London and pre San Jose/Memphis. I’m sorry if I disappointed some of you with my deck choice for London, but if I don’t whiff my energy to Water Duplicates against Teodor (who made it all the way into Top 8), I’m fairly certain I had a great chance at advancing to Day 2. Granted, so much Golisopod and Decidueye would’ve made for a miserable Day 2 I reckon, unless I managed to skillfully get TOM to pair me against all the Gardevoir and Fighting decks. However, it definitely would’ve been nice to walk away with even Top 128 points rather than the abysmal 298th place. Guess I’ll have to wait until next years International to try and redeem myself.
Muchas gracias once again for reading my article. I hope to see many of you in San Jose, and I’d like to wish you a happy Thanksgiving if that’s what you’re celebrating today! Until next time!
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