Hello SixPrizes readers! I have been playing a ton of Pokémon recently, as I traveled to three Regional Championships in the month of March. They were a lot of fun despite my underperformance recently, and I am looking forward to Salt Lake City Regionals in May! Until then, I will be attending League Cups and getting as comfortable with the Expanded format as possible. Lucario-GX’s release certainly made Portland a bit more interesting than Charlotte, and it should shake up the expanded format a bit. Let’s kick things off with a look at the Standard format, and the decks I played at Charlotte and Portland.
Looking Back at Standard
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 34
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 7
I have always been a fan of the consistency Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX brings to the table, and I have liked its matchups as of late. Having a chance to win a majority of your games is a very nice feeling, as you almost never brick and its auto-losses are not very popular.
My list might seem a little strange, so let me talk about why I chose these sixty cards. Going into the weekend, I wanted to be favored in mirror match and Buzzwole/Lycanroc because I thought they were the best two decks and expected them to be the most popular. With three Acerola, a Pal Pad, and a Max Potion, I had all the tools I needed for the mirror match. I had played the mirror match and felt comfortable playing around Sudowoodo, and the healing usually resulted in me outlasting my opponent.
I played a Mew-EX and a Mewtwo to be as prepared for Buzzwole as popular, and I certainly felt favored in the matchup. Even against the Buzzwole list that my teammates played, which featured two Mew FCO, I still felt like I was the favorite. I definitely sacrificed in other areas to make these matchups as strong as possible, though. Without Sudowoodo, the Necrozma-GX matchup is significantly worse, and the Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt matchup is even at best. Additionally, Sudowoodo is quite good against Fire decks, so I would have a lower chance of beating those if I had ran into them.
I have to say I had somewhat of a weird tournament, as a majority of my matches were against Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX. I knew this deck was being talked about, but I was surprised to see how popular it was at the event. Funnily enough, I played against zero Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX and zero Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX.
Pokémon – 9
Trainers – 37
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 14
Headed into Portland, it was pretty clear that Buzzwole and Zoroark were the decks to beat in the Standard format. They were incredibly popular in Charlotte, and performed quite well overall. In addition to this, Lucario-GX was released one day before the tournament, and I was absolutely correct when I thought it would be played. This lead to me wanting a deck that could beat all three of those, and I had been wanting to play Sylveon the week before at Charlotte.
Sylveon is incredibly favored against most Zoroark decks, with Oranguru being the only tech card that can change that. Buzzwole is another favorable matchup for Sylveon due to Bodybuilding Dumbells and Counter Catcher, which stop them from taking KOs. Finally, Lucario is an efficient attacker when it comes to Prize trades and quick KOs, but it really doesn’t handle Sylveon very well. It is hard to 1HKO a Sylveon-GX off the bat, and cards like Bodybuilding Dumbells and Parallel City make it even more difficult. Similar to Buzzwole, most Lucario decks this weekend weren’t playing Field Blower. Parallel City makes bench management borderline impossible, and usually results in the discarding of Regirock-EX.
N is played in high counts in most Standard lists, but it is the opposite with Sylveon. A majority of lists I have seen recently only play one copy, and that is for good reason. The deck has a ton of different disruption Supporter options, so N is not being spammed every turn. In addition to this, Pal Pad and Puzzle of Time make recovering the copies of N you play quite easy. At the beginning of the game, simply having a Fairy Energy is usually enough to get things going.
I chose to play the “extra” copy of N just because I felt it made the deck run a little bit smoother. Never having to use Gladion or Lusamine for N is fantastic, and drawing into N more frequently is also nice. I especially enjoy having the N in my opening hand because it increases the likelihood that I find a Fairy Energy and another benched Pokémon. Additionally, getting a fresh hand of six right before your first Magical Ribbon really opens up your options.
Having two of these essentially gives you infinite time to deckout the opponent, assuming they don’t take 6 Prizes first. This means Lusamine will shine against decks that can withstand a lot of your disruption and drag the games out. This includes decks with Gardevoir-GX, Oranguru, or other mill decks. Overall, Lusamine is actually not as insane in Sylveon as you might think. It is a very slow card that can really only be used in specific situations. If you have enough breathing room in a game to get a bunch of value out of Lusamine(s), you have probably already won that game anyway. However, despite my somewhat lackluster opinion of the card, it is too important for those longer games. This means that while it isn’t always great, Lusamine is a necessary inclusion in the deck.
While this card is pretty underwhelming in some matchups, there are other spots where it will shine. Against any decks with high damage output, you’re going to be grateful that this card is in your deck. Bodybuilding Dumbbells is the absolute key to beating Fighting decks, as Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX will usually 1HKO Sylveon otherwise. Additionally, Dumbbells gives you a slightly better shot against unfavorable matchups such as Fire decks or Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt. I chose to play two copies of this card because the decks it is good against are the same decks I expected to be popular in Portland. While I wouldn’t be super ready to remove one, I could see only playing one copy of this card if the meta shifts severely heading forward.
I firmly believe that this card is underrated right now, and should be talked about more when building slower decks. I agree that Pal Pad doesn’t have a place in the current aggressive decks, such as Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX. However, in decks like Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX, and perhaps even Garbodor decks, Pal Pad should be tried out more often. The late game presence that Pal Pad provides is pretty significant, and I think that get’s overlooked in most cases.
In Sylveon, Pal Pad is an absolutely insane inclusion, but I think this is the one deck where most people are aware of that. Magical Ribbon has a ton of synergy with Pal Pad, and so does the fatigue strategy that Sylveon puts into place. You can shuffle in key disruption supporters with Pal Pad, while still using a supporter for the turn, and then grab a supporter or two with Magical Ribbon to prepare for future threats.
I originally thought that one copy of this card would suffice, but ended up changing my mind after a few games with the deck. After adding the second copy, I was convinced I had made the right decision. The second copy made it a lot easier to find when I was in a tough spot and needed to pull off a Plea-GX, and it avoided the prizing issue. Double Colorless Energy is not only useful for pulling off a Plea-GX, but it can be used in multiple other situations too.
Retreating Hoopa using a Double Colorless Energy is something I did multiple times over the weekend, and it wasn’t in spots where I felt like I would win regardless. Getting out of the active immediately sometimes felt very dire, and I am glad I was able to do it.
Additionally, using Fairy Wind is something I think people overlook when playing with or against Sylveon. Fairy Wind only does 110 damage, but that’s enough to serve its purpose. It would definitely be substantially better if it did 120, as it could that 1HKO Oranguru, but no one is perfect. Using Fairy Wind to pressure Oranguru is still a great idea, and it is a strategy I found some success with over the weekend. In some situations against Buzzwole, using Fairy Wind to pressure the only threat on the board is a very reasonable play.
I absolutely should have played these cards in Portland, and I will almost certainly include these cards in any Sylveon list moving forward. I still think three spots is a lot to commit to this combo that is somewhat of a gimmick, but this inclusion can make all of the difference. Gardevoir-GX is a great way to deal with Oranguru, which is otherwise extremely frustrating. Twilight-GX is a fantastic attack that I really underestimated, and it can certainly be the difference maker in some of those long, grindy games.
As for why I didn’t play Gardevoir-GX in my Portland list, the answer is simple: I didn’t get to test the deck enough. My original list was all theory, and then I made a couple changes by playing a few games and comparing lists with the ones that had seen success recently. If I had been more prepared, and played more games, I wouldn’t have underestimated Gardevoir-GX. My thinking was that starting lone Ralts means a loss is incoming, and I wanted my deck to be as consistent as possible. While my thinking wasn’t incorrect, those concepts shouldn’t have been enough to make me exclude the Gardevoir tech.
Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX – The New BDIF?
The release of Lucario-GX might finally shake up the Expanded format! Sure, the best Lucario deck may end up being Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX, but we will at least be playing with some new cards. I definitely think that this powerhouse of a card has a ton of potential in both formats, so today I will take a look at the most anticipated combination. Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX will certainly have a great matchup against the other Zoroark decks because of how efficient Lucario is. It should also be pretty easy to find a Lucario and a Strong Energy off of a Colress, which makes you a bit more resistant to the ever so popular Hex Maniac.
I am excited to get started on my testing for Utah, as I am very curious to see how the Drampa/Garbodor vs Lucario/Zoroark matchup plays out. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the list I plan on testing:
Pokémon – 22
1 Alolan Muk
Trainers – 31
1 Red Card
3 Sky Field
Energy – 7
This is a card that I had seen being cut from lists previously, but I think that this is a really nice tech in the current metagame. It is certainly very strong against opposing Zoroark decks, as 1HKOing them with a non-EX attacker is pretty sweet. Additionally, I consider Zoroark BKT a pretty important tool against Drampa-GX/Garbodor. No, I don’t think it’s an attacker you’ll use every game against Drampa, but I do think you will notice its impact if you give it a try.
First of all, Zoroark can really punish the overbenching of Pokémon that can happen due to Sky Field. This can mean 1HKOing a Drampa-GX, which you can do if the opponent has just five bench Pokémon. Zoroark is also nice in the matchup because it trades one for one with Trashlanche, which is a poor trade off for a deck that aims to outlast the opponent. Additionally, Zoroark can take the KO even under Parallel City or Sudowoodo, which is something that shouldn’t be underestimated.
I am a huge fan of Evosoda right now, mostly in Zoroark and Lucario decks, but in expanded I believe Pokémon Communication outclasses it in some decks. This is one of the decks where I find that to be the case, and that is due to the high Pokémon count. It is sometimes annoying to have to have a Pokémon in hand to get rid of, but the pros outweigh the cons in the comparison between these two consistency cards.
My favorite part of Pokémon Communication is the small consistency boost it gives you on the first turn. Not only are you more likely to find that highly sought after Brigette on turn one, but you are also more likely to get down a few basic Pokémon the old fashion way after a different Supporter. Another thing I noticed about Pokémon Communication is how versatile it is throughout the game, as you can find crucial tech Pokémon or a Zorua with it.
I have mixed feelings about this count, as I am sure most players do when they are sleeving up decks for Expanded. VS Seeker is obviously a powerful card, but their is good reasoning behind the low count of it. First of all, lowering the amount of items in your deck is always nice, as it make you less susceptible to Garbodor GRI and Ghetsis. Additionally, removing a couple VS Seekers also makes your early game consistency a bit better, as the extra space lets you fit cards such as Pokémon Communication. Speaking of early game consistency, VS Seeker is a lot less useful early on in decks that don’t play Battle Compressor. All of these details made including “only” two copies of VS Seeker in my list an easy choice.
This is a tech that has become incredibly popular in the expanded metagame recently, and that is rightfully earned. Red Card is a very strong card against Zoroark decks, especially when combined with Hex Maniac. I would also call this deck the favorite in pretty much any game where it goes first, and uses both Brigette and Red Card.
This is not something we have seen in most Zoroark decks, but I would label this build as a special case. While I only have one in my current list, I am fully prepared to toss in a second copy if it feels necessary during testing. Lucario-GX is pretty reliant on pulling up weak targets, such as Zoroark-GX or damaged Pokémon-GX. It is very easy to access Guzma in expanded, but prizing it could be costly, so that is something that should be taken into consideration.
2nd Field Blower
I consider Drampa-GX/Garbodor to be the current BDIF, so when I test other decks, I usually test against Drampa first. If things don’t go well, I am willing to just play Drampa-GX/Garbodor until the end of time. That being said, if my opening testing against Drampa doesn’t go too hot, I will absolutely be slapping a second copy of Field Blower into the deck to see if it helps.
That is all for this article everyone! I hope you enjoyed reading about my experiences at the recent Regional Championships and my take on the newest Zoroark deck. If everyone is as excited as me to play with Lucario, then a refined list should certainly come out before Salt Lake City. If my testing goes well, you will likely be reading about an updated list in my next article. Until then, I wish everyone success at upcoming League Cups!
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