A Two-Headed Problem

Jimmy’s Analysis of Top Decks for Brazil Standard and Salt Lake City Expanded

Hey everyone! I am back with yet another article, and I am here to talk about some more Standard and Expanded Pokémon! I have been doing a decent amount of testing, and let me tell you, finding a deck that beats Zoroark and Buzzwole is not the easiest of tasks. This has led me to fall back on some of my old favorites in recent testing, and I have been working on refining the lists and getting some practice in.

I have been pretty let down by Lucario-GX, and some people probably feel similarly to me, as it was an extremely hyped card. It is not a bad card by any means, but I was expecting it to be much more dominant than it is currently. Maybe I got my hopes up, or maybe Standard just isn’t the place for it right now. With that being said, I have been focusing on Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX, and Greninja in my testing for Brazil. All of the decks have a lot going for them, and they all feel like they have a decent shot against most of the format.

I prefer to take decks like those that have a wide array of close matcups and try to outplay my opponent, as opposed to decks that have several positive matchups and a few poor ones.

As for the Expanded format, while I haven’t been playing much due to Brazil being so soon, I did watch a lot of the Sindelfingen stream. I was not surprised by most things, but Sableye/Garbodor did make it all the way to the top four, and Tord did not play Drampa-GX/Garbodor. Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute was the most popular deck by far, and it performed very well, with it taking up three of the top four spots.

Without further ado, let’s get into the swing of things by taking a loom at my favorite decks in the Standard format.

Standard Format

Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX

Pokémon – 16

3 Buzzwole-GX

2 Lycanroc-GX GRI

2 Rockruff GRI

2 Octillery BKT

2 Remoraid BKT 32

1 Sudowoodo BKP

1 Oricorio GRI 56

1 Mew FCO

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Regirock-EX

Trainers – 30

4 Guzma

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Cynthia

2 N

 

4 Max Elixir

4 Ultra Ball

4 Choice Band

3 Float Stone

 

3 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 14

10 F

4 Strong

Mr. Consistent

This is one of the most straightforward decks in standard at the moment, as it is just a highly aggressive deck that aims to take easy knockouts as soon as possible. Buzzwole is a fast, efficient attacker that can take KOs while placing damage on the bench to setup more KOs for the future, so it is no surprise that it is considered one of the best attackers available currently. Despite the extremely popular Mew-EX and sometimes Mewtwo techs, this deck is still in a great spot right now. The deck is certainly a bit different than it was earlier in the year, as it now has Cynthia and a couple of countermeasures to those pesky Psychic Pokémon I just mentioned. I would definitely give this deck a try at your upcoming League Cups!

Card Choices

Oricorio GRI

This tech was popularized by Alex Schemanske at Charlotte Regionals, where he showcased just how good the card can be. Not only is it an excellent counter to Mew-EX, needing just an energy and a Choice Band to take 2 Prizes, but it is also a pretty solid attacker in the mirror match. Doing 120 to a Buzzwole for just an energy and a Choice Band is fantastic considering it is very difficult for the opponent to 1HKO the Oricorio in most cases. Some of the time when they do, it will leave them in a vulnerable position that can push you ahead in the Prize trade.

Mew FCO

Mew functions similarly to Oricorio in the sense that it also just needs an energy and a Choice Band to 1HKO a Mew-EX. Additionally, Mew has free retreat and can copy Knuckle Impact, which means you have a powerhouse non-EX attacker in your deck. This tech is great against Mew-EX, mirror match, and 1HKO decks such as Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt.

Potential Inclusions

1-2 Energy Switch

I played two of these at Australia and they were pretty useful in a few situations. However, they obviously take up space in the deck and feel unnecessary at times. If you feel that energy management is becoming an issue in your games or any given matchup, I would recommend trying to fit one or two of these in the list. Playing just one makes it hard to search out, but the draw power of this deck is pretty insane, which makes it somewhat easy to find the Energy Switch at a point in the game where it is at least a little useful.

Lycanroc BUS

This is only for the Hoopa matchup for the most part, but I’m sure you will find yourself using it for more than just that if you play enough games. Hoopa has a hard time KOing this Lycanroc, as they usually have to two shot it. The issue with that plan is that Lycanroc will almost always be able to 1HKO a fully-charged Hoopa as the opening maneuver, which means that the Hoopa deck will then quickly have to power up two more attackers to get the Lycanroc off the board. This is certainly not an easy task, and this scenario will often result in Lycanroc taking an obscene amount of prizes. From there, you have Mew, Oricorio, and Rockruff to take your remaining prizes, which isn’t as hard as you might think because the opponent should be relatively low on resources at this point, and any non-Hoopa Pokémon that hits the board is an easy KO.

Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX

Pokémon – 21

4 Zoroark-GX

4 Zorua SLG

2 Golisopod-GX

3 Wimpod BUS

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Mew-EX

1 Mewtwo EVO

1 Tapu Koko SM31

1 Sudowoodo BKP

1 Oranguru UPR

Trainers – 31

4 Guzma

3 Brigette

3 N

1 Acerola

1 Cynthia

1 Mallow

1 Professor Sycamore

 

4 Puzzle of Time

4 Ultra Ball

2 Field Blower

2 Evosoda

1 Max Potion

2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone

 

1 Parallel City

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

3 G

1 Counter

Why the Hype Died Down

A couple months ago, Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX was somewhat of a dominant deck that was somewhat popular at any given tournament. This felt especially true at St. Louis and Charlotte Regionals, where it was one of the decks to beat heading into the event. As of recently, it seems that Lucario-GX has scared people off of the deck, as it had a relatively minimal showing in Portland and my local League Cups. While Lucario is certainly a threat, I wouldn’t label Lucario as a widely popular Pokémon right now, and it is certainly a managable foe. This leaves room in the metagame for the deck to make a return, so I have been fiddling around with a few lists to see what I like the most. I decided on one that has much less healing than some of my previous lists, but has a few more tools in the shed.

Card Choices

3 Wimpod

It might seem a little weird to explain playing three Wimpod, but I have played with two in the past, and I have posted a list here with two in the past. The reason why this count fluctuates is that the necessity and strength of Golisopod-GX is determined by the metagame. Currently, I deem Golisopod-GX as very important due to the high presence of Lycanroc-GX.

Sudowoodo

This tech is another one that frequently finds its way in and out of my list, and that is also because it is somewhat metagame dependent. Right now, Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt is at an all time high in terms of popularity and quality, which makes the Sudowoodo absolutely worth it. Additionally, Sudowoodo is great against Buzzwole and Zoroark decks, which are also highly represented in the meta.

Oranguru

Oranguru is not a card I have ever had in this deck when I played in a tournament, but I consider it to be a very strong tech at the moment. First of all, it is a fantastic answer to Hoopa and Sylveon decks, which struggle to kill it and can’t stop you from simply shuffling back in tons of relevant resources. Oranguru is also great at the end of games when your resources are running low, as you can simply N the opponent and then use Resource Management to shuffle in crucial cards.

Max Potion

This helps make up for the low Acerola count, and is much easier to use than an Acerola because it doesn’t take up your supporter for the turn. I have always been a big fan of Max Potion in this deck, and now is no exception. It can let you make some sick plays in combination with Puzzle of Time, Guzma, or Acerola, where you can either heal multiple Pokémon, or heal a Pokémon and take care of a threat on your opponent’s bench.

Potential Inclusions

2nd Mew-EX

Mew-EX is a great tech Pokémon at the moment, as it takes up minimal space in the deck, it’s easy to use, and it can deal with multiple threatening Pokémon. What I mean by that is Mew-EX is a great answer to both Lucario-GX and Buzzwole-GX, which means you get a ton of value out of having the card in your deck. Having two in your deck makes it much easier to find, which means you’re more likely to attack with it early. Additionally, having the second copy makes it easier to use Mew-EX multiple times throughout the game, which is not something that should be underestimated right now.

2nd Acerola

I would likely only make this inclusion if i expected a lot of mirror match or other 2-shot based Zoroark decks. Otherwise, it isn’t an extremely useful card, and the list already has a decent bit of healing options in it. Decks like Tapu Bulu that aim to 1HKO you leave you with very little room to get value out of the Acerola, as they will almost always be 1HKOing whatever they attack. Agressive decks like Buzzwole also make it hard to use Acerola for multiple reasons. The aggression Buzzwole brings to the table usually requires an immediate response, which is hard to do a lot of the time if Acerola is your Supporter for the turn. Buzzwole also 1HKOs your attackers a lot of the time, which makes Acerola a bit hard to use even if you could afford to.

2nd Parallel City

Parallel City is pretty strong against a lot of decks, so a second copy of this card is probably the inclusion I would like to make the most. I only have one copy in the deck currently because of how tight the list is, but if I deem it important enough, I will have to find a spot for it. Parallel City limiting the opponent’s bench is great against most Zoroark and Stage 2 decks because it heavily disrupts their setup, especially if you find it earlier and/or use it in conjunction with taking a knockout. Facing it the other way can be useful too, as limiting Tapu Bulu-GX’s or Greninja’s damage output can slow down their gameplan quite a bit.

Greninja

nintendobserver.com

Pokémon – 20

3 Greninja BREAK

4 Greninja BKP

4 Frogadier BKP

4 Froakie BKP

1 Starmie EVO

1 Staryu BKP

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Espeon-EX

1 Tapu Fini-GX

Trainers – 30

4 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Cynthia

 

4 Evosoda

4 Ultra Ball

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

3 Choice Band

 

3 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 10

6 W

4 Splash

The Greninja Effect

Since the release of Breakpoint, Greninja has always had a negative connotation associated with it, and labeled as an extremely inconsistent deck. Sure, it does brick some games, but I believe people heavily exaggerate the deck’s issues with setting up. My list doesn’t even run as much draw support as the decklists that have seen success recently, and I haven’t even noticed a difference so far. I would absolutely not let some of the comments you may have heard about this deck’s consistency stop you from giving it a shot, as it is very strong in the current Standard metagame.

Now, to address the elephant in the room: Giratina promo. It certainly sucks when you sit down at a League Cup and your opponent Brigettes for the despised Giratina, and I know the feeling. This is why for League Cups, it requires somewhat of a sneaky mindset to settle on Greninja. I certainly wouldn’t go around broadcasting that you are ready to play Greninja that day, as it could lead to a couple extra Giratinas making their way into some decks.

Additionally, I wouldn’t force myself to play Greninja if I thought that their were too many sketchy matchups, as Greninja certainly isn’t always the play, and this is especially the case if Giratina frequently sees play in your local meta. One final note is that, in some cases, your matchup is so good that a Giratina will not stop you from Shadow Stitching your opponent out of the game. Some Zoroark decks will still lose to you despite having the Giratina promo, just because of how insane Shadow Stitching is against them. Additionally, Espeon-EX and Choice Band help to make up for a lack of Giant Water Shuriken damage, and Enhanced Hammer can sometimes prevent them from attacking.

Card Choices

Espeon-EX

I haven’t been a fan of this card in the past, but I consider it to be quite good right now. The presence of Zoroark-GX and Lucario-GX decks make it easy to get value out of in any given tournament. On another note, Espeon-EX is the ultimate comeback card, as it can turn literally any game into a win if you can get enough damage on the right Pokémon.

Tapu Fini-GX

Tapu Fini will absolutely not be used every game you play, even in the matchups it is in here for, which makes it somewhat of a weird tech. However, you will certainly miss having this card around in some of your games against Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, which is where this tech shines. Being able to shuffle in a fully powered Buzzwole-GX is insane, especially when you have Enhanced Hammers to further keep energy off of the opponent’s board. Tapu Fini does give up 2 Prizes which can make it somewhat of a liability in certain situations, but it is also somewhat hard to KO. I would say the risk is worth the reward with this one for sure.

2 Field Blower

I have always been a fan of getting greedy and cutting these from the deck in favor of more Enhanced Hammer and/or more consistency, but I have finally been testing more with lists that have them included. Obviously, I noticed a drastic improvement against Garbodor decks, which were previously unwinnable, but are now favorable. I also had more situations than I expected where removing a “random” Tool or Stadium was relevant, such as removing a Float Stone from their Active Pokémon or getting rid of a Parallel City to open up bench space.

2 Enhanced Hammer

I love Enhanced Hammer as a card, and I think pretty much everyone would agree that it is an incredible inclusion in Greninja. I usually favor playing a higher count of this card due to how good it is against Zoroark, but with 3 Choice Bands and Espeon-EX, I feel confident only running two.

Potential Inclusions

3rd, 4th Cynthia

If you find yourself struggling to get a Supporter at the beginning of the game, or simply not finding them continuously in the mid-late game, I would recommend adding a Cynthia. This will definitely increase your consistency, and Cynthia is a great supporter in Greninja to help manage resources. Another option, regardless of whether you decide to remove a card for a Cynthia, you can also remove a Professor Sycamore for a Cynthia. This will make it easier to manage your resources, but sometimes only drawing six can be a pain. The deck also has its fair share of useless cards once it sets up, and I like being able to discard them with Professor Sycamore as a way of thinning my deck.

3rd Enhanced Hammer

I would add this if Special Energy becomes more prominent, or a deck that is reliant on Special Energy starts giving me trouble. Having more Enhanced Hammers makes it so that you can use them repeatedly, which can allow for some pretty insane comebacks. When used in conjunction with Shadow Stitching, it can be hard for the opponent to keep attacking. Even if they do, Greninja’s beefy 170 HP makes it quite difficult for the opponent to take 1HKOs, which is obviously a losing path for the opponent.

4th Brooklet Hill

If for whatever reason the Field Blowers find their way out of the deck again, whether that be a meta call or just for testing purposes, this card should absolutely make its way in. Having only three Brooklet Hill as an answer to Parallel City is a recipe for disaster, and will absolutely lose you a handful of games over the course of a lot of testing or a long tournament. Having the fourth Brooklet Hill also makes you a bit more consistent which is a nice bonus. The first few turns of Greninja are always the scariest, and Brooklet Hill is a card I love to see in my opening hand.

Expanded Format

Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute

Pokémon – 19

4 Zorua DEX 70

4 Zoroark-GX

1 Zoroark BKT

1 Seismitoad-EX

3 Exeggcute PLF

3 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Sudowoodo GRI

 

Trainers – 37

3 Colress

2 Brigette

2 Hex Maniac

1 Guzma

1 Ghetsis

1 N

 

4 Puzzle of Time

4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

2 Battle Compressor

2 Red Card

1 Field Blower

1 Pokémon Communication

1 Rescue Stretcher

2 Float Stone

2 Choice Band

1 Computer Search

 

3 Sky Field

Energy – 4

4 Double Colorless

The Most Powerful Deck in Expanded

By now you should know that I am a huge fan of Drampa-GX/Garbodor in Expanded, and while I think that deck was/is the best deck, I would have to label this one as the most powerful. It is an incredibly consistent deck that usually obtains pretty explosive starts, aiming to disrupt the opponent with cards like Red Card, Hex Maniac, and Ghetsis, all while taking quick prizes with Zoroark-GX. In fact, Zoroark decks like this have shaped the entire format in Expanded since the release of Shining Legends.

The only reason Drampa/Garbodor is even played is due to how good of a matchup it has against most Zoroark decks, which just goes to show how strong this deck is currently. In terms of the list I have included in this article, it is very close to the lists that were used by Pedro Torres and Isaiah Williams in Sindelfingen this past weekend. I like focusing on consistency in most cases, and that was certainly done here. Additionally, the remaining slots all went toward gaining an edge in the mirror match, which I think was a great call. Moving forward, this is likely how I would build my deck going into Utah, because I definitely expect a ton of Zoroark decks to show up.

Card Choices

3 Exeggcute

The list used to play four, but it seems that most players have been slimming it down to three in order to free up space in the deck for valuable tech cards. Only having three seems very fine, as you will still be able to get incredible amounts of value out of them if one is prized. As for putting them on the bench, I feel you will rarely notice the difference between having the 3 Eggs or 4, as getting the trio back is almost always going to allow you to get the knockout anyway.

2 Hex Maniac, 2 Red Card

These are great tools in the mirror match, as basically the only way to stop the opponent from doing literally whatever they want is to use Red Card and Hex Maniac in the same turn. If the opponent doesn’t Hex Maniac you in return, odds are you will be able to chain Hex Maniac for the rest of the game. I know that may sound a little insane, but it is just true. Games where this happens are extremely brutal, and will result in a win an incredibly high amount of the time.

Having two of each of these is very nice because it makes them much easier to find, prevents Prizing issues, and allows you to easily pull off the combo multiple times in a game. Red Card is a great card individually if used at the right time, such as turn one after a Brigette, or later in the game after a Colress. Hex Maniac is mostly used against Zoroark-GX, but their are a few other decks that can’t do much about a Hex Maniac chain, such as Volcanion and Archie’s Blastoise.

1 Pokémon Communication

This definitely seems like a random inclusion, so if that is what you are thinking, I was right there with you. I instantly wanted to make room for a second, but it is so hard to do that because of how tight the list is. I ended up just sticking with one, but we will see if I am able to get a second copy in here. Perhaps I will end up not liking even the one copy, but it seems great in theory.

This definitely isn’t the first deck in Expanded to run the card, as we have seen it in most Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX lists. The deck plays a ton of Pokémon, and this increases your consistency a bit. It is better than Evosoda because you can get any Pokémon, as opposed to just a Zoroark-GX. This makes the card a lot easier to use, as you can play it on turn one or in the late game when you’ve already evolved all your Zoruas. Pokémon Communication can lead to a turn one Brigette, or let you grab that extra basic Pokémon to take a KO with Zoroark-GX. It can also just grab a Zoroark-GX like Evosoda, so I would have to say Pokémon Communication takes the cake here.

Potential Inclusions

1 Exeggutor PLF or 1 Bunnelby PRC

I lumped these together because they have a similar purpose, but both have additional bonuses in different situations. Both of these cards are to beat mill decks, mostly the infamous Wailord-EX deck that players love to hate. Fortunately enough, Wailord-EX loses to a single card, as they will literally never beat you if you get either of these techs onto the board. Their goal is to deck you out using disruption Items and Supporters, which will never work if you are shutting off their Supporters or constantly shuffling cards back in.

With Exeggcutor, you beat Wailord-EX, of course, but you also gain the additional bonus of being able to Blockade in the mirror match to deny your opponent Hex Maniac or Colress, which I have seen be incredibly strong.

Despite Oranguru shuffling in three cards, Bunnelby is still better because you are going to beat mill decks regardless and it has the added effect of being able to mill the opponent. When shuffling cards in against other decks in random situations, you shuffle in one less card with Bunnelby, but you get to randomize your deck as opposed to these good cards being placed on the bottom. Additionally, two cards is usually enough to put back whatever you are missing to win the game.

It is a close call between Exeggutor and Bunnelby, as they both have their own advantages, so I would say it is personal preference currently. My opinion could change if I found myself using Exeggutor in miror match more than I did last time I played with the deck, or if the meta shifted in a way that favored one of these two techs.

2nd Guzma

Finding your one copy of Guzma will almost never be a problem due to the drawpower and search options of this deck. You have an incredibly high number of ways to search it out or retrieve it from the discard. This leaves the one issue it actually has left on the table, which is Prizing it. You are an insanely fast deck and can absolutely just KO whatever they have active, but prizing the Guzma prevents you from targeting down more desirable Pokémon to knockout. I would recommend adding a second copy of Guzma if you find yourself struggling to find it, feel it is especially strong in a matchup you expect to play against, or don’t feel taking the risk of Prizing it is a smart one.

Karen or Oricorio GRI 56

These are techs that are only for Night March, which has been somewhat absent recently. Night March has always found its way back into the picture before, so don’t be surprised if it does it again. If you expect to play against Night March or Vespiquen decks, I would definitely consider adding in one or both of these techs. Karen is a bit easier for the opponent to recover from, but the list already has Seismitoad-EX in the deck, which makes it an easy inclusion and it will certainly have at least a decent impact against Night March.

As for Oricorio, it is the stronger option in my eyes, and it can win games against other Zoroark decks by taking a KO on something like a Shaymin-EX for game. However, I have seen arguments against Oricorio, saying it is easy to play around. That being said, I recommend testing both options and seeing which one you like better before you make your decision. If Night March is going to be insanely popular at a League Cup or something, it might be time to pack in both.

A Quick Note On Sableye/Garbodor

squirtledogg.tumblr.com

At the beginning of the season, Sableye/Garbodor was my favorite deck to play with by a long shot across both formats. Sure, it had its problems, but I always felt like I had a chance to win the game I was playing, no matter how bad things were looking. The deck is extremely punishing of mistakes, and was at its best the first time I played it, just because none of my opponents really knew how to play the matchup.

While it certainly took a high level of play from Cristian Sarnataro to make it all the way to Top 4 this weekend with his version of the deck, I would have to assume that the lack of Expanded events there allowed him to easily take everyone by surprise. Players were almost certainly not prepared for the matchup, and he took advantage of that with a good meta call.

That being said, despite the deck’s success over the weekend, I don’t think the deck in its current form is a good call heading into Utah. A higher percentage of players will be more familiar with Sableye, and the deck struggles against most Zoroark lists. Red Card, Ghetsis, and Seismitoad-EX are all cards that are hard to deal with, to say the least. If I were to play Sableye/Garbodor, I feel it would have to be a more streamlined version of the deck that plays less disruption cards and focuses more on forcing Item use from the opponent. This means that I would be attempting to take 6 Prizes in most of my games, as opposed to slowly decking my opponent out.

This would certainly make the deck less Item based, which would make it a lot stronger against Ghetsis, Seismitoad-EX, and Red Card, all of which I mentioned as major issues earlier. Additionally, the deck would be considerably more consistent due to additional draw support. This all sounds great in theory, but the real question is if the deck will actually function like I want it to. Garbodor is certainly a great Pokémon in Expanded, and works very well with Parallel City and Garbodor, so I definitely have a lot of faith in it. Sableye has a lot lower HP than some of Garbodor’s other partners, which makes it seem like it wouldn’t force a ton of items out, but with multiple Enhanced Hammers and Parallel City, it could be enough to go the distance. I will likely start working on this after Brazil, which means I should have some sort of an update for y’all in my next article.

Conclusion

That is all for today everyone! I hope that my dual format articles have been something that you enjoy, as I have been trying my best to offer something for everyone here. I personally have been focusing on Brazil, but I know that for a lot of people the next major tournament is Salt Lake City which is Expanded. Hopefully the Standard portion got everyone ready for upcoming League Cups or the Latin American International! If you are just focusing on Expanded, I would absolutely recommend getting some games in with Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute and Drampa-GX/Garbodor! I feel those are the best decks in the expanded format, but there could definitely be some room for innovation this time around.

Anyway, I will be at a majority of the major tournaments happening soon, if not all of them, so feel free to come up and say hi!


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