Hey everyone! I’m glad to be writing another article, this time on the Standard format heading into Madison and beyond. There’s plenty of time to prepare for NAIC and any remaining events you may be attending.
Also in the line-up of topics to discuss is a recap of Roanoke Regionals. To say the least, I did not do very much preparation for Expanded. My goal heading into the remainder of the season past-Brazil was to get pity points and a finish at NAIC so that I stayed in Top 16. My plan was destroyed the week before because I played Gourgeist in Mexico and ended with a stunning 3-3 record. My safety net of points I created after Brazil had decreased plenty because of that poor finish and my absence at Salt Lake City and Toronto.
The preparation I can claim doing was reading articles of other writers here and at Some1spc. The Buzzwole list I played was derived from Christopher Schemanske’s and Russell LaParre’s posted last week. Reading articles and updating myself on the meta is one of the most time-efficient ways that I “practice.” I use quotes because it’s a different type of preparation—choosing what deck should be played—as opposed to learning how to play a deck. For those of you like myself who have other priorities like school or a busy job, this is a great way to choose the right deck, and more importantly the right list.
However, this does not wholly replace practicing with the deck that you play. You need to have some understanding of the deck or else you’ll lose regardless.
Here’s how the tournament went for me:
Pokémon – 13
Trainers – 34
Energy – 13
1 Beast ♢
R1 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (2-0)
R2 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute (1-2)
R3 Donphan PLS (2-0)
R4 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute (2-1)
R5 Quad Seismitoad-EX (2-0)
R6 Trevenant BREAK (2-0)
R7 Turbo Fire (2-1)
R8 Trevenant BREAK (2-1)
R9 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute (2-1)
R10 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (1-1)
R11 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (2-0)
R12 Trevenant BREAK (0-2)
R13 Buzzwole FLI/Landorus-EX BCR (2-1)
Top 8 Buzzwole FLI/Landorus-EX BCR (2-0)
Top 4 Zoroark-GX/Exeggcute (2-0)
Finals Wailord-EX (2-0)
There isn’t anything unconventional about this list. The 1-1 Octillery came from Russell’s list, which I opted for because the 2-1 seemed weird. I didn’t think I would have enough time to set up Octillery in most games, nor was it as important to do so in Expanded because of Korrina and Colress. Another cool card was Scramble Switch which had a wide range of uses from resetting Knuckle Impact to switching the Energy off of a useless Buzzwole FLI. I wouldn’t play Computer Search because there isn’t an important card to be searched for that can’t be searched somehow else. The other neat split was 3 Max Elixir/3 Beast Ring from Christopher’s list. I loved the 3rd copy of Beast Ring so that any unlucky Prizes or discards wouldn’t cost me a game.
There weren’t many matches that I thought were super interesting. The matches I won were ones in which I did Buzzwole things; the ones I lost were ones in which I didn’t. I was able to dictate my own matches based upon how well I played rather than if I drew the perfect combo. Obviously, some matches are out of control because of bad hands, but I truly think that Buzzroc is the most linear, efficient, and consistent deck in both formats. I always felt like I was in control of the pace, and that I would lose if I messed up or if the opponent drew the right cards. This could be seen against James Arnold in R13 and Top 8. I felt like I hadn’t locked down a surefire strategy against him in R13, but by Game 2 I knew how to handle his deck.
The matchup against Trevenant is difficult without Zygarde-EX because every attacker is inefficient. It’s important to get down a Muscle Band on a Buzzwole early because the extra 20 damage adds up enough to KO the first Trevenant BREAK. Bloodthirsty Eyes is the most efficient way to break Item Lock because it can target a Phantump while playing a draw Supporter in search of Beast Ring and Max Elixir. My strategy was to cycle attackers and target Energy attachments so that one Trevenant couldn’t overrun my field. I never had the opportunity to attack with Diancie ♢ but it could be worthwhile if it isn’t too damaged.
Moving forward, I’d say that Buzzwole is the BDIF in expanded. An Oricorio or Zygarde-EX could be worth adding if Night March and Trevenant resurge, but thankfully none of that matters. Like many, I am excited to be playing Standard again. It even felt like I was playing it this weekend!
Due to the recent release date of the set, there haven’t been many tournaments of its format. The two Mexico SPEs are the best representation of what it’s like now. In Mexico City, Malamar/Necrozma-GX took both 1st and 2nd handily. There was a Zoroark-GX/Garbodor that lost to one in Top 4 as well. In Cancun, Zoroark-GX variants took 1st and 2nd, one Lycanroc-GX and one Golisopod-GX. This was probably because those players meta-gamed against Malamar, the dominant deck on the previous weekend. This was an extremely closed sample and I expect the meta to be different elsewhere. The tournament will also be much larger, hence making meta-gaming near impossible.
Buzzroc seems to have fallen out of favor due to its proclaimed close matchup against Zoroark-GX and unfavorable matchup against Malamar. I don’t know where it fits, but it’s hard for me to believe that its matchups haven’t improved since Forbidden Light released. Buzzwole FLI, Diancie ♢, and Beast Ring are so good that they should be able to offset the deck’s weaknesses by the addition of raw power. There’s also an easy way to counter Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX: adding non-Psychic weak Pokémon like Zygarde-EX. This was successful for Dyego in Brazil before FLI was released, and certainly can work again.
Because of my success with the deck in Expanded and its potential in Standard, I really want to test it for Madison. If I can get the deck to be 50-50 with Malamar, then it’s a good enough play for me. I assume that Zoroark, Buzzwole, and Malamar decks will form somewhat of an ABC meta with other decks fitting in as well. I know some Greninja decks have been working, both GX and regular. I’m interested to see how Madison pans out because it’s the first major American Standard tournament with the new set. However, this differs from most because there has been a few weeks since FLI was released, unlike the usual release the Friday before a major tournament.
Pokémon – 15
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
1 Beast ♢
This is the list I like the most right now. It’s fairly traditional but also has a couple differences from other Buzzwole lists posted so far. I think that Oricorio has a spot in the deck for Buzzwole mirror, KOing Mew-EX, and in giving early aggression against Malamar. It’s the better secondary one Prize attacker now that Sudowoodo BKP has made its way out of the list. The other interesting choice is my 9-4-1 Energy count, which differs from the 9-3-1 in Expanded. I decided to opt for the 4th Strong over another Max Elixir, a Super Rod, etc. because it’s a strong damage modifier. It makes it much easier to KO an Inkay on T1 with Jet Punch and to take OHKOs with Sledgehammer. I like it better than the 10th Fighting Energy because it’s more important than the potential gained Max Elixir hit.
A Super Rod would be a nice addition to the list, but I see it less necessary in here than it is in Expanded. In both formats, it’s great as insurance against bad discards and in increasing the probability of Max Elixir later in the game. However, Korrina is legal in Expanded, making it much easier to search out. If I need to shuffle a Pokémon back in, I need to first draw into the Super Rod then have a means of getting the other Pokémon. It’s much easier to do this in Expanded by searching for either piece directly, and with better draw support in the form of Colress.
A 4th Max Elixir would be a nice option as well, but I don’t see it at all necessary. There’s also diminishing marginal returns once each Elixir is played. My theory is that if I play 3 or 4, I’ll usually miss 1-2 in either scenario. Unlike Elixir decks of the past, it’s not needed ASAP and isn’t integral to the strategy. Beast Ring compensates for the omitted Max Elixir.
One idea that I haven’t tested is Sudowoodo GRI. It might seem odd to include it without Sky Field in format, but it has a good use against Malamar decks. Their Bench space is much more limited than yours, the Buzzwole player. Theoretically, they want 2-3 Malamar, an attacker, and will likely have a Tapu Lele-GX somehow. Regardless, their Bench tends to fill up with 4-5 Pokémon and leave no room for another. My point here is that if they leave an open space and have no Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX on the board, it’s likely that they will power it up in one turn from the hand. Sudowoodo GRI could completely stop this and win games if the opponent isn’t careful. Likewise, this is also good against Zoroark-GX by preventing key Mew-EX turns or in general use throughout the tournament.
One experiment I’d like to try is a version of James Arnold’s deck in Standard with a few tweaks. He played Buzzwole FLI/Landorus-EX to a Top 8 finish, ultimately losing to me. This deck has the potential to work in Standard with a greater focus on Buzzwole FLI and Beast Ring. I think that a key engine missing from his list was Octillery because it allowed me to simply win games by forcing him to an odd Prize number so that his single Prize attackers didn’t matter. Swing Around is just barely a good enough attack for this deck to work. In theory, it should have a better matchup against Malamar yet retain the same strength against Zoroark because it can trade evenly.
Zoroark could be a good meta call if hype around Buzzwole continues to stay low. Zoroark is very favored against Malamar because its attackers are less efficient than it. Acerola and Parallel City are both very strong because it allows for free damage against their 2HKOs and in crippling their Bench. Zoroark is favored against both variants of Malamar: Necrozma and Ultra Necrozma. There are many variants of Zoroark to try: Golisopod, Garbodor, Lycanroc, and even concoctions involving Beast Ring, but I think that the only viable version is Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX. All other versions are incredibly weak against Buzzwole because they cannot deal with either Jet Punch or with Lycanroc.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 353 N
Energy – 7
This is the angriest Zoropod I could build. I’ve included as many anti-Buzzwole cards as this deck should need to succeed and included all of the good cards against Malamar. There are several changes that are worth noting as a result of the meta shift. I’ve cut Tapu Koko and Oranguru entirely, buffed the consistency and Mallow count, included more tech Item cards, and increased both Tool counts. These changes are directly made in order to help against Buzzwole and Malamar at the expense of other matchups. Instead of looking at the changes collectively, it’s best to look at the careful substitutes I’ve made since my previous list I used as a control. For convenience, here’s the list I based this off of:
Pokémon – 20
Trainers – 33
Energy – 7
-1 Tapu Koko +1 Float Stone
Tapu Koko is hard to use and isn’t good when it isn’t started with. It’s usually best to grab a different Basic and hope to draw into it later. The extra Float Stone provides the same amount of mobility with the added benefit of an extra Bench space.
This is a step away from the greedy side of the deck into a more consistent version. It’s super important to evolve all of the Zorua into Zoroark-GX ASAP or else they’ll fall easily. In this meta I wouldn’t go back to 3 Brigette if the Evosoda are useless. (I preferred the opposite before FLI.) The Oranguru can be added back in if people continue to play Zoroark-GX/Garbodor or if many Zoroark-GX decks are popular. However, I don’t recommend it because it’s very difficult to establish the lock without Enhanced Hammer and other limiting cards that there isn’t space for.
This is a change that worsens the Zoroark mirror but improves matchups in general. The Mallow is very good for searching out the Mew-EX combo against Buzzwole. The added 1-of Items in Counter Catcher and Rescue Stretcher are also great to search out with the additional Mallow.
This is the smallest change that slightly increases the percentage of drawing a specific card on a turn. This is a step away from greediness towards improving the Buzzwole matchup.
I added the Rescue Stretcher because I think it’s more important to stream Mew-EX against Buzzwole than to try and disrupt the Energy. The Enhanced Hammer is less useful because I think that Zororoc is completely dead. That variant has no chance of beating Buzzwole and is past its time.
This is one of the changes that slightly shifts how matchups are played. Now that Malamar decks are running Parallel City, you’d think that cutting the Field Blower is unwise. On the contrary, the Choice Band is good enough to KO Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX under Parallel City and helps in taking KOs elsewhere. There’s less of a reason to worry about Marshadow-GX because Golisopod-GX can easily OHKO it with First Impression and a Choice Band.
This change is made because Counter Catcher adds options to the deck and is usable under Mallow. The one problem for Zoropod against Buzzwole is that Octillery is extremely annoying because it makes any and all N useless in disruption. Once again this shift is away from greediness and instead towards pursuing a better oriented Zoroark deck vs. the current meta.
I hope you all are as excited for the end of the season as I am. It’s always fun to attend Madison Regionals, as I love Jimmy and all that he does for the community. Afterwards, there are plenty of foreign Regionals and Special Events to view (or participate in) leading up to NAIC. From there, there will be nothing but an onslaught of preparation and fun leading into the final two tournaments of the year. I, for one, am glad that I have less stress on my back because of the huge leap in points from Roanoke. There’s certainly no reason to hold back now though; my spot may be taken if I slack off.
As always, I hope to see you all at upcoming events. I talked with several people I hadn’t met before in Roanoke and it was definitely worth the time to meet, chat about Pokémon, and even how you’ve been doing throughout the day. These little interactions are exactly what I love about the community and makes it enjoyable to keep playing every weekend that it’s possible.
‘Til next time,
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