Hello everyone! I am back with another article after a few Pokémon-packed weeks! Not only did I travel to Brazil for the Latin America International Championships, but I then came right back and left for Utah Regionals. The events were definitely a lot of fun, and I actually have Toronto Regionals this weekend too! I think Buzzwole has somewhat proven itself as the king of the current Standard format, and the epic Drampa vs. Zoroark battle continues to rage on in expanded. With that being said, we are going to take a look at what decks I chose for the past couple events, and how that worked out for me. Then we can take a quick peak at some of my favorite cards in Forbidden Light! Without further ado, let’s get started.
A Standard Affair in São Paulo: Buzzwole
R1 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI WW
R2 Ho-Oh-GX/Kiawe WW
R3 Zoroark-GX/Glaceon-GX WW
R4 Espeon-GX/Garbodor WW
R5 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI WW
R6 Zoroark-GX/Lucario-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI WLW
R7 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI ID
R8 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI ID
R9 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI WW
R10 Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI WW
R11 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor WLL
R12 Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt SUM WLL
R13 Magnezone UPR/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX LWL
R14 Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX WW
9-3-2, 15th place
Pokémon – 16
2 Rockruff GRI 73
2 Mew FCO
Trainers – 30
Energy – 14
Headed into this event, I knew that I wanted to play something consistent. I also prefer playing decks that have a chance against everything, as opposed to just a couple good matchups. This left me deciding between Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX and Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX. Both decks fit what I wanted, but I felt Buzzwole was just a stronger deck when I was doing my final testing. Additionally, I have never been a huge fan of Zoroark mirror matches, and by playing Buzzwole I was able to avoid those from the start.
When I say that I felt Buzzwole was the stronger deck, I mean that it was simply winning more games. Golisopod/Zoroark sometimes struggle to close games when they are quite close, and it didn’t have the greatest winrate against Buzzwole. Another thing that lured me to Buzzwole was its great matchups against the Stage 2 decks, Tapu Bulu-GX/Vikavolt, Magnezone, and Gardevoir-GX. Other than Tapu Bulu-GX, these are decks I wouldn’t really expect to play against in the United States, but they are certainly ones that have become somewhat popular in Brazil.
Once I decided on playing Buzzwole, I just had to decide on the final list. I did quite a bit of testing the day before the event to get a better feel for the deck’s current matchups, and didn’t feel the list needed to change much. Mew was strictly better than Oricorio, so we removed Oricorio for a second copy of Mew. On a similar note, we felt that hitting Max Elixir was the most important part of the deck, so we removed a Strong Energy for yet another F Energy.
In my previous list, I had an Oricorio and just one copy of this card. In testing leading up to Brazil, I kept seeing that Mew was better in almost every situation, with Oricorio only being better against Garbodor decks. Mew is easier to use because you don’t have to have a stadium in play, and being able to do thirty damage to a bench Pokémon is nice as well. More importantly, having multiple Mew to copy Sudowoodo’s Watch and Learn against Tapu Bulu-GX and Necrozma-GX was game changing.
The four copies of this card go hand and hand with the attacker we just talked about, Mew. A Mew with a Choice Band easily takes care of a threatening Mew-EX, which used to give this deck a ton of problems. Choice Band also makes it a lot easier to KO a damaged Zoroark-GX in the late game, which proved useful throughout the tournament.
While it would be nice to have four copies in the deck, I valued the other cards in this list a bit more. Float Stone is certainly a great card to ensure early pressure, but with 3 Buzzwole-GX, 2 Mew, and 3 Float Stone, odds are you won’t be getting stuck very often anyway. Managing these Float Stones throughout the game is very easy, especially with multiple free retreaters in the deck, so it is really just a matter of not getting permanently stranded in the end game. With four Guzmas in the deck, this is something that will rarely happen, so I hardly consider it a real concern.
The night before, we decided to remove a Strong Energy for a F Energy to improve the odds of Max Elixir. This may seem like a big sacrifice, but I never really missed the damage boost during my games. The only Pokémon I consistently needed a Strong Energy to KO were Rockruff in the early game, and with three Strong Energy still in the deck, I didn’t whiff much anyway.
If you plan to play against a lot of Garbodor decks, I would recommend including a Field Blower. In a blind metagame I don’t consider this card worth it because it is only relevant when trying to navigate through Garbotoxin, but it definitely does a good job of doing that.
Getting Salty In Utah: Drampa
R1 Night March WW
R2 Lucario-GX/Octillery BKT WLT
R3 Drampa-GX/Garbodor WW
R4 Gardevoir-GX WW
R5 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute PLF LWT
R6 Trevenant BREAK WLT
R7 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute PLF WLW
R8 Glaceon-GX/Tapu Koko SM30 WW
R9 Night March ID
8-2-4, 13th Place
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 35
Energy – 9
Like I said before, I like decks that have a chance against everything, which is certainly an aspect Drampa-GX/Garbodor brings to the table. Not only does it feel like I could win almost any matchup, but the deck also boasts a pretty strong Zoroark-GX matchup. This is one of the most appealing things a deck can have in Expanded due to the strength and popularity of Zoroark in expanded. Some other decks I expected to see at the tournament were Trevenant, Greninja, Glaceon, and a bit of Drampa itself. Drampa has pretty solid matchups across the board, and I tossed in a Giratina Promo for good measure.
This left me feeling pretty confident the night before, and once again, I just had to decide on the exact list. After thinking about it for quite a bit with my friends, we decided to remove a Trubbish PLS for a Trubbish BKP to improve our chances against aggressive Buzzwole-GX decks. This was a very minor change, and while it didn’t seem to have much of an effect on my tournament run, I would still reccomend playing this selection of Trubbish in the future. If you expect to play against a lot of Night March or Primal Groudon, the Trubbish PLS is important enough where I would put it back in the deck.
Another change we decided to make was removing the second copy of Acerola for a fourth Parallel City, which is a change I was very pleased with come game day. Parallel City is fantastic in a slew of matchups, especially against Zoroark-GX, so I got a ton of use out of them. On the morning of the tournament, the 60th card was still up for debate, and the final options were Giratina and the second copy of Guzma. Everyone likes free wins, so naturally we sleeved up the Giratinas after deciding that the BREAK decks would be popular enough to get value out of it.
This Trubbish wasn’t included in my previous list, but it made the cut for this event. Acid Spray can be useful occasionally, and Tool Drop is only very useful against Night March and Groudon. This was cause for the removal of one Trubbish PLS for one Trubbish BKP, just to open up options. Using Acid Spray with a Choice Band in the early game is strong against Buzzwole-GX, as it requires minimal resources, forces a response, and sets up the KO for a future turn.
The night before, we decided that Greninja and Trevenant were both going to see some play. While Greninja was already a very winnable match, it certainly wasn’t a cake walk. As for Trevenant, the matchup was actually much scarier than expected. The expected popularity of these two decks made Giratina an easy choice come game day, so I removed the second copy of Guzma for it. I ran into three Trevenants throughout the day, but sadly Giratina was prized in over half of the games I played against it. Overall I would say a 2-0-1 record against Trevenant made the Giratina worth it, especially because I don’t think I ever had the Giratina in hand when I really needed a Guzma.
This may seem like overkill, but with Zoroark-GX being as strong and popular as it is, this is just necessary. This makes sure you draw into it when needed, which was sometimes a problem before, and can use them a bit more freely. Parallel City is pretty useful all around in expanded, so it is not like these were just dead cards in other matchups. In fact, the Drampa-GX/Garbodor mirror match is largely determined by who can win the stadium war.
Having some sort of Berserk activator is a must in this deck, and Rainbow Energy is by far and away the easiest to include and the easiest to use. Simply taking out a P Energy from the very first attempt at an expanded Drampa/Garbodor list allowed for this inclusion, which means nothing substantial was lost. Additionally, putting ten damage on a Pokémon is almost never going to hurt you in the long run, so it can be used even in spots where Berserk is not going to happen.
This card is pretty good in the mirror match, which is honestly the highlight of the card in the current Expanded meta. Additionally, Oranguru improves your chances of beating mill decks by quite a bit. You may read those last two sentences and think Oranguru is a no brainer, but based on the decks that I played against at the last two Expanded regionals, Oranguru wouldn’t have helped much.
For the metagame in Utah, having multiple Guzma wasn’t very important at all. This is in the sense that there wasn’t really a matchup where Guzma played a key role. However, I could see that changing in the future, which would result in the second copy of Guzma going right back in the deck. As things currently stand, the only issue with the singleton copy is prizing it.
Acerola felt a lot like Guzma, in the sense that it wasn’t hugely important and can be reused if needed. Sure, in some situations prizing it sucked, but so did drawing clunky hands full of utility supporters. Acerola is very strong against Trevenant and Glaceon-GX, but I didn’t really have trouble in those matches anyway.
Favorite Cards from Forbidden Light
These are the cards coming out of Forbidden Light that I think will have the biggest impact on competitive play. Some cards are merely just additions to some pretty strong decks, while others aim to become an entirely new archetype. It should be interesting to see just how good these cards are, and what combinations players can come up with.
This card will be played in every deck that plays Ultra Beasts because it only has positive effects. Sure, you can only play one copy, but it is still a very strong card with no downside other than it being somewhat difficult to draw into. I will definitely be tossing this card into Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX right off the bat, but I definitely expect other Ultra Beasts decks to be perfected by some innovative players.
This is the card everyone is talking about! They do have a good reason though, as this card is incredibly strong. Getting two energy out of your deck and putting them straight onto an Ultra Beast is a very good effect, and gives decks a lot more comeback potential. When combined with Max Elixir and normal energy attachments, it makes it very easy to power up enough attackers to take your remaining Prize cards.
This card does have its “issues” though, so it won’t always feel great to have it in your hand. First of all, having Beast Ring in your opening hand is going to feel incredibly bad because it is useless for the early turns of the game, and this could result in it getting discarded. A personal concern I have for Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX is the current energy counts in the deck. Some lists still play as low as nine, which I am pretty confident is just too little now that Beast Ring is coming out. I expect the Basic Energy count to be higher, with eleven being the minimum. Additionally, I expect three Strong Energy and one Beast Energy to be in every Buzzwole-GX list.
I don’t know about other players, but I am more excited about this card being played in the Expanded format than the Standard format. Zoroark-GX is by far the most popular Expanded Pokémon, and this bad boy is a great answer for that problem. After your opponent KOs a GX, you can use Buzzwole to KO a Zoroark-GX for just one energy. The opponent then has to spend their time KOing a non-EX/GX, which is great for you in terms of the Prize trade. Buzzwole-GX decks are very aggressive, so it is likely you took a prize or two before that first Buzzwole-GX got Knocked Out. With a couple Max Elixir tossed onto this, taking your 6 Prizes should happen pretty quickly. In the Standard format, Buzzwole is still a solid card that we should see in most fighting decks. It is a great answer to Quad Hoopa, and still deals with Zoroarks quite nicely.
Yet another addition to the already powerful Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX deck. If you’re familiar with Regirock-EX, than you will know just how good Diancie is. Diancie is a non-EX Bench-sitter that has the same effect as Regirock-EX, except it boosts the damage by twenty instead of ten. This will make taking KOs in the early game even easier, as even basics with 70 HP are no longer safe. I expect this card to simply replace the tech Regirock-EX, but other people have suggested a 1/1 split between these two Bench-sitters. That brings me to my counter argument: there is not enough space on the bench or in the deck to play both of these cards.
The new Eelektrik, except for Psychic Pokémon. This is a card a lot of people are excited about, and I am too! Once per turn, Malamar allows you to attach a P Energy from the discard to one of your benched Pokémon. This is a great effect that not only provides early game energy acceleration, but it also allows for continuous attacks throughout the game. Players have been speculating that Malamar should be paired with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX from Ultra Prism, and Ultra Necrozma-GX from Forbidden Light. I definitely think Malamar is a great Pokémon in the standard format, and I can’t wait to figure out the best version of the deck.
This is a card that will replace Ultra Ball in some decks, as it is just a cheaper Ultra Ball when trying to find a Psychic or Dragon Pokémon. In other cases, both Ultra Ball and Mysterious Treasure will be played, which should allow for some pretty consistent decks. I think that Malamar will absolutely be playing four Mysterious Treasure, but I could also see a couple Ultra Ball being included in the deck if space allows for it. Mysterious Treasure being able to find Tapu Lele-GX makes it pretty flexible, so it definitely has a place in a lot of decks.
This is by far and away my favorite GX of the set, and I think it is easily the most playable GX of the set. Despite requiring a P Energy and a M Energy to attack, this is still going to be a a strong attacker. The attack everyone is excited about is its first attack, which does twenty damage base, and an additional eighty damage for each P Energy you discard from Necrozma. It has an interesting GX attack, but I don’t think it will be used much when playing with Malamar. Its GX attack, Sky-Scorching Light-GX, does sixty damage to all of your opponent’s Pokémon, which does setup for a nice Espeon-EX play in some cases. However, I don’t think we will see Espeon-EX being played in Malamar, so that will have to be a concept for another day.
That is all for today everyone! I hope you enjoyed hearing about my recent tournament experiences, and my analysis on why Buzzwole and Drampa are the best in the game. If not, maybe you got off to a strong start by taking a look at my favorite cards from Forbidden Light!
These next few weeks are pretty important, as the new set will be legal for a few major events. It should be interesting to see how the new metagame shapes up, especially because some of the best decks are supposed to be easily countered by some of the new cards.
Anyway, I will be in Toronto this weekend to wrap up the current standard format, and then I will be figuring out the new format to get ready for Roanoke, Mexico City, and Madison Regionals! If you happen to be at any of these events, please feel free to come up and say hi. If not, good luck cracking the new format and good luck at any League Cups you may attend.
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