Bug Catching

Xander’s Comprehensive Guide on Golisopod/Zoroark and its Matchups for Memphis

Hey all! Welcome back to another article, this time focused on Golisopod/Zoroark. Coming out of London, I’ve found myself in love with the deck because of its linearity and raw power. The deck can’t take 1HKOs on big Pokémon-GX like Gardevoir, but it’s great in securing 2HKOs and trading favorably with Acerola. Another draw to the deck is its capability to run through the deck and discard select cards with Trade, almost like a deck-building game. These reasons are purely personal assets that adds a sense of enjoyment to the deck.

Adapting the Standard List

Pokémon – 20

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Zoroark BKT

3 Wimpod BUS

2 Golisopod-GX

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Tapu Koko SM31

1 Mewtwo EVO

1 Mr. Mime BKT

Trainers – 33

4 N

2 Professor Sycamore

4 Guzma

3 Brigette

3 Acerola

1 Mallow


4 Ultra Ball

4 Puzzle of Time

4 Field Blower

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Choice Band

Energy – 7

3 G

4 Double Colorless

Posted above is the winning list, no surprises here. The skeleton of the list is near perfect, with the only discrepancies in the list being tech cards. These are inherently fluid and changeable based on the foreseen meta. Here’s the list of cards I’ve considered cutting:

All of these have specific uses, yet are unimportant in regard to the deck’s strategy. I’ll find myself discarding these with Trade in any matchup other than the one they’re intended for. A majority of the time cards like Mallow or the 4th Field Blower end up being too slow and are tossed in hopes of finding Choice Band, Energy, or Acerola.


Mewtwo’s only use is against Buzzwole-GX. It hits for 80 without a Choice Band—enough to finish off with First Impression. It’s not about taking huge tempo swings with Mewtwo, but about being able to threaten with a non-GX attacker. Golisopod-GX can’t trade favorably with Buzzwole-GX because Buzzwole can KO any Benched Zorua. It’s then impossible to draw into Acerola because our engine has been shut off. Yet, we’re forced to use Acerola to stay relevant, otherwise First Impression will only hit for a meek 30-60 damage.

In my current list, the Mewtwo has been taken out for a Float Stone. I have an explanation on that later, but for now, I can’t find a reason to keep Mewtwo just for one matchup. I think that I’ll run into 0-2 Buzzwole decks on Day 1 of Memphis, those of which I have a chance of winning without it anyway. It doesn’t provide a huge percent matchup swing like Giratina PR does against Greninja in other decks.

Mr. Mime

This is also a card whose only use is against Buzzwole. I haven’t done enough testing to see which is more important, but I’m set on including at least 1 of the 2 in the final list. I’d like to include both because Mr. Mime and Mewtwo work well in conjunction and lose their capability to succeed without both present. With just Mewtwo, it’s easy for Buzzwole to Acerola and be efficient with their damage, usually doing a 50-30 split. With just Mr. Mime, Buzzwole can load up to 3 Energies risk-free and take 1HKOs.

However, I worry that if I retain both copies, they may end up being extremely useless throughout the day. 1st Float Stone, 4th Acerola, and 4th Brigette are examples of cards I’d love to play, but ultimately would come at the cost of the Buzzwole matchup. With Buzzwole taking 2/8 spots in London, I fear that it’ll continue to be played—as it should be.

Field Blower

Field Blower is more used as an out to Parallel City than a Garbotoxin counter. There’s no stopping the death of Garbodor, which may provoke lists dropping down to 3 Field Blower. I think this is a huge mistake, only because of Gardevoir’s presence in the meta. The deck could survive with just 3 against all else, but in that matchup it’s necessary to remove Parallel ASAP and re-establish a board.

Field Blower is great for removing pesky Choice Bands that increase chip damage. Infinite Force for 90 is more troublesome than for 60, obviously. The same is true with Jet Punch for 80 instead of 50, etc. What Choice Band does is force an Acerola without it truly being necessary. It’s also great for removing Fighting Fury Belt on demand against Volcanion.


Mallow smooths over the rough starting hands without Energy, Golisopod, etc. Aside from that, it has 0 use. I’d even go so far as to call it a win-more card past the first 2 turns of the game; in any close game, I’m be forced to use Guzma or Acerola each turn. Nothing is detracting Mallow from being a good card, but it’s not as good as Acerola or Guzma.

Potential Inclusions

Float Stone

Float Stone is great for maintaining Energy attachments, chaining First Impression, and keeping options open after your attacker is Knocked Out. Without Float Stone, it’s sometimes necessary to retreat a Zoroark-GX or Tapu Lele-GX with a Double Colorless to hit 120 with First Impression. Float Stone fixes this problem only some of the time, but enough to where it matters.

It also alleviates bad luck when missing attachments that would otherwise be spent retreating, not to mention the fact that it’s a good card in general. It simply adds too much utility not to dedicate some space to it, whether it be to secure a T2 First Impression or using it with Puzzle of Time to grab the winning cards.

4th Brigette

A 4th Brigette could be added for the sake of consistency. I won’t delve into the percentages, but it improves them. What’s neat about a high Brigette count in this deck is that they can always be thrown away later with Trade. There’s no “dead” card in the deck because it can always be exchanged for others. Zoroark-GX has an edge over Octillery or Oranguru in this sense because it can choose to remove cards from the hand—reminiscent of Claydol from Great Encounters—then draw some as well.

4th Acerola/1 Max Potion

Either another Acerola or Max Potion would improve the mirror match a little bit. Essentially, that comes down to whoever can set up the most Zoroark-GX—that player has the best chance of drawing Acerola consistently. It comes down to a war of attrition, meaning that a single awkwardly discarded Puzzle of Time could lose you the game.

The argument for Max Potion over Acerola is that you can use it on the same turn as Guzma. The ideal scenario with this is when you’ve attacked with Zoroark-GX for a Double Colorless, followed by an Enhanced Hammer + First Impression/Riotous Beating. The opponent just used Acerola to scoop up their attacker and lay the Basic on the Bench again, to which you can use Guzma + Max Potion to gain a turn of tempo.

Dissecting Matchups


As I see it, there are many matchups that reside in “50-50 land.” These are the matchups where a single mistake can determine who wins the game, but also means that the player that makes no mistakes (or fewer than the opponent) will win the game. This theory only applies in a vacuum, but is a rough representation of what matchups should be on paper. This can be applied toward all matchups, such as “dead-draw factors” in matchup calculations, although frivolous in a sense. Anyway, there are plenty of matchups that you may face in a tournament, but few of them will be as intricate as the mirror match or Gardevoir.


Ah, here we go. I think this matchup is the one that requires the most explaining in order to defend my stance. In my opinion, it’s close to 50-50, yet can very easily sway to either side depending on the first few turns. Rare Candy for Gardevoir, or Guzma for Golisopod/Zoroark, are the cards required to swing the early turns. An early Brigette is important for both sides; early Energy attachments are nice too. I’ll be talking about this from the Golisopod/Zoroark side—otherwise I’d need an entire article to cover this matchup!

Generally speaking, the goal is to Brigette, ultimately ending with 2 Wimpod and 2 Zorua in play. Any other Basics will be eventually be discarded by Parallel City. On that note, it’s important not to bench any Tapu Lele-GX, at all costs. It’s easy for the Gardevoir player to Guzma + Parallel City the Tapu Lele-GX, forcing a discard on Golisopod-GX or Zoroark-GX. You’re forced to discard the Zoroark-GX because continuously streaming Golisopod-GX is more important. Unfortunately, the discarded Zoroark-GX means one less Trade, therefore 2 less cards to dig through every turn. Parallel City is annoying—even more so than Gallade.

After the first turn, it’s all about setting 2 Golisopod-GX in play. This way you don’t require Float Stone to continuously hit for 120 after an Acerola. If one’s prized, you’re at a severe disadvantage and will have to interchangeably attack with Riotous Beating when it’s safe to do so. 2 Golisopod-GX in play means that it’s safe to advance ahead on Energy attachments, meaning that you’ll have 2 Energy in play per turn instead of 1. This is because you’ll scoop up a Grass from the Active, promote an already loaded Golisopod-GX, then bench Wimpod + Grass.

It’s important to establish multiple Zoroark-GX, otherwise the Gardevoir player can find a Max Potion more easily than you an Acerola. Acerola takes up the Supporter for the turn, while Max Potion can be used in conjunction with Guzma or Professor Sycamore. This is nice in the sense that it’s an Item, but also doesn’t retain the Energy. This can play a part if Gardevoir misses Y Energy for a turn, allowing Golisopod/Zoroark to take a free Guzma.

A potential downside to setting up multiple Zoroark-GX is the threat of Gallade. I personally don’t think it matters much, because the first Gallade is very easily dealt with. Gardevoir’s strategy is not to outspeed Golisopod/Zoroark by taking quick prizes with Gallade, but is to outlast it with Twilight-GX and Max Potion. Gallade is actually a false mirage that leaves the Gardevoir player extremely vulnerable once Octillery is sniped.

Golisopod/Zoroark is a faster deck than Gardevoir. It’s very common to take a quick 1-2 Prize lead off of weak Pokémon like Ralts, Alolan Vulpix, or Octillery. That being said, it’s very possible for Gardevoir to stabilize and overcome the initial deficit. 2 Super Rod is important for reviving Ralts/Octillery, and Parallel City the same for limiting Golisopod/Zoroark’s damage output, using either side! Parallel City is annoying when Gardevoir removes Tapu Lele-GX from the Bench, but also forces a Field Blower or Choice Band to keep taking 2HKOs. While I encourage using Guzma to take easy Prizes, it’s also necessary to force the chain of Max Potion.

Thin your deck—seriously. There are very few cards worth keeping. Here’s a short list I’ve comprised of cards worth keeping, while the rest should be tossed ASAP: Zoroark line, Golisopod line, Guzma, Acerola, N, Puzzle of Time, Field Blower, (Float Stone,) Energy. (Enhanced Hammer and Choice Band are cards I wouldn’t discard with Trade, but aren’t of utmost importance either.) These cards are all that’s required, and may even become useless in some situations. The 4th Double Colorless and Zoroark BKT are worth discarding sometimes too, depending on the situation. It’s all a matter of what the board state looks like.

The Debate: Octillery Priority

To chase or not to chase? That, is the question.

There’s been a huge debate going on in this matchup on whether or not to KO Remoraid/Octillery ASAP. I think it’s largely a case by case basis that depends on the amount of Ultra Ball in discard, hand size, amount of Stage 2s in play, etc., but is also a priority in the matchup. One advantage I’ve discussed as the Golisopod/Zoroark player is the stronger consistency on my side of the board, so long as Octillery is KO’d. It’s then possible to win through N, opening up another win condition.

My line of importance for targets is as follows:

  1. Kirlia
  2. 1st Ralts KO
  3. Remoraid/Octillery
  4. Alolan Vulpix

In most cases, it’s always right to take out Kirlia. It’s the biggest threat of a Stage 2, meaning the first instance of pressure put upon you. The removed Kirlia may set them back an entire turn if they miss a Rare Candy, giving you a free Prize. Next on the list is the first Ralts, which is what I would go for on the second turn of the game. At this point I find crippling the amount of Stage 2s coming into play more important than the Octillery. Then again, if my opponent has a very small hand size, I may target down the Remoraid because it will that much more effective in the following turn. As Alex mentioned in his post-London article, don’t target the Remoraid aimlessly: take it out safely without allowing more problematic Stage 2s to come into play.

Mathematically speaking, Gardevoir has 8 total Max Potion while Golisopod has access to 7. Theoretically, Gardevoir should then outlast Golisopod, but keep in mind the early prizes taken by Golisopod. Also, Gardevoir requires a turn to use Twilight-GX, essentially reducing the 8 to a 7. All of the reasoning stated above is why I think the matchup is even, if not favored for Golisopod/Zoroark.

Mirror Match

Once again, this matchup is a war of attrition. It’s important to set up multiple Golisopod-GX for the same reasons as above, but also focus on setting up Zoroark-GX first. One or two Enhanced Hammer used will be detrimental, but the extra draw support from multiple Zoroark-GX will outweigh the initial losses. The goal to this matchup is to dig through your entire deck as much as possible, while continuously playing Acerola/Guzma as fit. Either strategy can be employed, but the proper path should be determined based on who has an earlier lead. I think it’s smart to Guzma Zorua early on, crippling their consistency. However, also know that you should always focus on an Acerola war if you started off ahead in that department. By continuously using Acerola, you force your opponent to do the same, trapping them to where you will eventually take 2 Prizes per Guzma.

Benched Tapu Lele-GX are also a burden in this matchup because it’s an easy target. Crossing Cut-GX can take it out for 180—2 Prizes in a single turn! These types of checkmate scenarios can occur with multiple Guzma, such as taking out a Zorua/Wimpod on the Bench as a 4th Prize, then having 2 Golisopod-GX up with a G Energy. At this point, you already know the opponent has Double Colorless + Choice Band + Guzma, otherwise they wouldn’t have made that play.

Deciding whether to use Acerola or Guzma in a turn is the main decision in the matchup. Yes, Acerola practically forces the opponent into reciprocating, but so does using Guzma. If you think about, the game is practically a game of follow the leader…but the follower tries to overtake the leader at the end.

The Case for Guzma

Guzma should be used for clocking the opponent; setting up a checkmate scenario over 1-2 turns. Guzma values itself as 1 Prize per turn, similar to how hitting the Active Pokémon twice will gain 2 Prizes per 2 turns. They come out to be the same mathematically, but Acerola can break the second chain. In a game where both players set up, Guzma is what finishes the game.

The Case for Acerola

Acerola will continuously force the opponent to do the same, unless they choose to Guzma your Wimpod, therefore breaking yours. At this point, you can Guzma their damaged attacker and KO it for 2 Prizes, giving yourself an advantage. Acerola will force another Acerola, so use that as a plan whenever you’re leading that war. If that’s not the case, you may want to try breaking their chain with Guzma, or else you’re stuck. It may be possible to force them to Puzzle of Time for something other than Acerola, which happens when you switch up your plays.

Zoroark BKT plays an interesting part in the mirror match because it does damage, forces an Acerola, but then is KO’d. You may think that them taking Prizes is a bad thing, but it also forces them to use an Acerola to take a single Prize rather than do 120 to a Golisopod-GX. This matters later on in the game because of a 7 Prize game. Furthermore, if you see your opponent with a full bench of GX’s and yourself with even Prizes, it’s pointless to diverge from Acerola.

Overall Matchups

Here’s how I would consider Golisopod/Zoroark’s other matchups:

Favorable: Greninja, Gardevoir/Sylveon, Silvally/Metal

Even: Mirror, Brokenvoir, Buzzwole/Lycanroc

Ever so slightly unfavorable: Volcanion, Zoroark/Decidueye, Vikabulu

Arguments can be made for or against slight changes to this table, but to be honest, it’s so close that it really doesn’t matter. There’s at most a 5% jump from each tier to the one above or below it. The deck doesn’t have auto-losses, but it certainly doesn’t have auto-wins either.


Don’t get mad at the clock in Memphis!

Thank you all for reading! I’m looking forward to testing Golisopod/Zoroark even more for Memphis. Other top picks of mine are Buzzwole/Lycanroc and Zoroark/Decidueye, but also Brokenvoir. Because of Memphis’ insane size, a deck that will go 7-2 is required. This makes me want to play faster decks, or extremely slow ones like Brokenvoir that can 1-0 the opponent. Be sure to keep that in mind when choosing a deck. Memphis is only 10 days away, and I hope to see you all there.


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