The Local Loser

A Reflection on League Cups and Look at Buzzwole/Garbodor

Hey, everyone. We’re in the awkward period between the final Regional, Madison, and NAIC. However, there are a few weeks of SPEs and Regionals outside of the U.S., namely Mexico. A few of us at SixPrizes will be in attendance as we chase the final points possible for T16. After these next two weekends, there’s a free weekend (thankfully). There are only a few remaining Cups on that Saturday before the season draws to a close at NAIC.

For me, this past weekend resulted in a collective 1-4 record over the course of two League Cups. I’ll cover both of my deck choices and analyze why they failed. Later, there will be an insight into Buzzwole/Garbodor, the most well-rounded deck in Standard at the moment. It defines the RPS meta and has a strong core strategy.

Cup #1: Niles, IL

Pokémon – 12

3 Buzzwole FLI

2 Buzzwole-GX

1 Rockruff FLI

1 Lycanroc-GX GRI
1 Remoraid BKT32

1 Octillery BKT

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Diancie p

1 Regirock-EX


Trainers – 34

4 Professor Sycamore

4 Guzma

3 N

1 Cynthia


4 Ultra Ball

4 Max Elixir

3 Beast Ring

1 Field Blower

1 Super Rod

3 Choice Band

3 Float Stone


3 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 14

9 F

4 Strong

1 Beast p

I decided to play Buzzwole/Lycanroc because it performed well for me in Madison and I wanted a deck I knew how to use. I didn’t think anyone would play the mono-Psychic Malamar deck with Mewtwo SM77 either. What resulted from this safe choice was a quick 0-2 drop, then a trip to Chipotle and a local bubble tea place. It was pretty demoralizing, seeing how I could go from a very good weekend to a bad one with the same deck. The few card changes weren’t the reason why the deck failed, it was just bad luck or bad matchups, or even a questionable play in a spot.

My Round 1 was a sad Buzzwole mirror where we both had relatively slow starts. He played multiple Guzma on the first few turns which set me behind because I didn’t have a Float Stone or Guzma. Midway through the game, I Professor Sycamore’d into all 3 Beast Ring, no Float Stone, and no draw Supporter. Once I did eventually find another Professor Sycamore, I couldn’t play it—I’d lose because I’d have 0 Beast Ring. Unfortunately, he had insane Jet Punch math at the start of the game on my Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX. He had a turn where he went from 5 to 2 Prizes with nothing I could do to prevent it. I then needed a Float Stone and a modifier off of a Professor Sycamore to win with Dangerous Rogue-GX, but missed it and lost.

Round 2 was vs. Greninja. There’s not much to say here other than that this version of the deck is way worse against it than traditional Buzzwole/Lycanroc. It’s less likely to start with Buzzwole-GX, the deck doesn’t have 4 Float Stone, and the Lycanroc-GX line has been thinned. Moving forward, I think it’s necessary to add a Giratina XY184 for the matchup. It’s incredibly difficult when Greninja sets up.

-1 Rockruff, +1 Regirock-EX

The addition of the 2nd Rockruff was a final Friday night decision before Madison. In my games there, it wasn’t particularly useful, but the Regirock wouldn’t have been good either. I chose to include it for the Cup because I wanted to test it in a tournament. Moving forward, I think it’s worthwhile to run for Swing Around math. It’s important to 1HKO a Buzzwole with Swing Around, so the extra 10 matters against the 130 HP.

-1/1 Octillery, +1 Field Blower, +1 Max Elixir

These two cards were also things I wanted to try. Christopher and I talked about Field Blower beforehand with the goal of improving the Buzzwole/Garbodor matchup. Even though I didn’t play against any, it’s definitely correct to include one. Buzzwole/Garbodor has performed well at Cups and will make a strong showing at NAIC. The 4th Max Elixir is a component of Igor’s list from Madison that I didn’t play. I always felt that 3 was enough to get me through the game. However, I see the strength in 4-of drawing them early on in the game. It increases the threat of Dangerous Rogue-GX out of nowhere and increases the probability of a T2 Swing Around. The 4th Elixir is very good in mirror for those reasons. Overall, these changes were made so that I could have a feel for them in the deck. The deck will succeed or fail based on other measures, not the final cards in the list.

Future of Baby Buzz

Given the oncoming meta shift of anti-Buzzwole, I think that it’s safe to say that the deck is back in check. New Malamar lists that run 1-2 single Prize attackers are a much more difficult matchup than it was before. Buzzwole was able to defy RPS before, but it will be unable to after Malamar lists tech further for Buzzwole. The introduction of Mewtwo SM77 improves that matchup and worsens the Malamar vs. Zoroark matchup.

Cup #2: Buffalo Grove, IL

Pokémon – 19

3 Froakie FLI 22

1 Froakie BKP

3 Frogadier BKP

1 Frogadier FLI

4 Greninja BKP

3 Greninja BREAK

1 Staryu BKP

1 Starmie EVO

1 Tapu Fini-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 30

4 N

4 Cynthia

3 Professor Sycamore


4 Ultra Ball

3 Evosoda

2 Enhanced Hammer

2 Field Blower

2 Super Rod

1 Counter Catcher

2 Choice Band


4 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 10

6 W

4 Splash

The list above is Christopher’s from Madison with one Bubble Froakie BKP. On that day, I decided to venture into frog land, and per usual, I miss points. In the 3 Rounds I played that day, I faced 2 Greninja decks—one with 2 Max Potion and the other with 3—and a Malamar deck with Giratina XY184. I won against one Greninja but had no hope against the other. I was hit with an early Parallel City by the Malamar deck with a Staryu and Tapu Lele-GX stuck on my Bench. I eventually removed it, but was unable to set up multiple Greninja.

Froggy Future

The future of Greninja is dim. Mewtwo SM77 + Giratina XY184 destroys the deck, Zoroark-GX can add a Giratina XY184 if it wants, and so can Buzzwole. Overall, it’s a nice anti-meta pick, but I’d rather resign myself to a different form of Ability lock: Garbotoxin. I want to experiment with a version that focuses more on Greninja-GX because that evades the counter. It would be something similar to Latios/Greninja-GX, but would include Greninja BKP and Frogadier BKP for Water Duplicates.


After messing around with the deck, I’ve come to the realization that it’s super strong. Garbotoxin, without its sidekick Trashalanche, really simplifies the game. As a concept, it removes complexity from other Abilities and forces the raw Pokémon to fight. This complements both Buzzwole-GX and Beast Ring super well, because as cards, they’re probably the strongest in format. Jet Punch is the best early attack and Knuckle Impact can take 1HKOs. Buzzwole FLI makes it even better. Nevertheless, here’s the list that Ian played to T4. His and Wes’ list were only different by two cards: Choice Band and Professor Sycamore for Random Receiver and Hala.

Pokémon – 11

4 Buzzwole-GX

2 Trubbish BKP

2 Garbodor BKP
1 Buzzwole FLI

2 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 36

4 N

4 Cynthia

4 Guzma

1 Lillie

1 Professor Sycamore


4 Nest Ball

3 Mysterious Treasure

4 Beast Ring

3 Order Pad

4 Fighting Fury Belt

4 Float Stone

1 Choice Band

Energy – 12

7 F

4 Strong

1 Beast p

The list features an unorthodox ball count, but it works well for the deck. Rarely would one need to Ultra Ball in place of Mysterious Treasure, and the extra card saved is useful when there’s no self-sufficient Ability like Trade, Abyssal Hand, or Psychic Recharge. Like most Garbodor decks, the list is incredibly streamlined. This list runs fewer Supporters than Espeon/Garbodor, but makes up for it in card efficiency and Order Pad. It’s also less necessary to play Supporters once Beast Ring is in the hand, since it’s a matter of drawing them anyway.

The deck’s general strategy is to manually load up a Buzzwole-GX as early Jet Punch damage is applied. A key number for the deck is 170, the typical amount for Knuckle Impact later in the game. It’s important to tag any GX with more than that amount of HP or else it’ll be more difficult to 1HKO later on. Likewise, it’s sometimes possible to get a 1HKO with Sledgehammer with the Choice Band. I choose to run it because it can happen enough to where it matters. Similar to the 1 Froakie BKP, it’s worth the option. I prefer to have the 4/1 Fighting Fury Belt/Choice Band split because I don’t want to compromise the FFB count; it’s very relevant to have it against Buzzwole-GX or Ultra Necrozma-GX early.

Potential Cuts/Inclusions

With a very streamlined deck, there are few cards to be cut. Most of the deck’s slots are dedicated to consistency, and for good reason. The high copy of search cards, Beast Ring, and Order Pad make each game smooth, unlike Buzzroc, which tends to draw very awkward hands.

-Professor Sycamore/Choice Band, +Hala/Random Receiver

These two are the obvious cuts, as they are the differences in Wes’ and Ian’s lists from Madison. As stated previously, Wes ran a Random Receiver and a Hala in place of these. They both stuck with 10 draw Supporters, but interestingly, Wes chose to solely include shuffle draw. Energy discarded from Professor Sycamore can really dampen the effects of Beast Ring because there’s only 7 Fighting total.

+1 Order Pad

A 4th Order Pad would increase the consistency and capability of the deck to do more things. Yes, it’s vague. Order Pad acts as a lubricant to the engine, allowing the player to find specific pieces needed. It’s actually a really strong card that would find its way into other decks if there was space. Most recently, it was used in Jurassic Park to find Unidentified Fossil and Rare Candy.

+1 Fighting/Super Rod

Another F Energy or Super Rod is something I would be a fan of in order to prevent Energy problems. Sometimes, 2+ Basic F Energy are prized, severely limiting the potential of Beast Ring. Another Energy would simply reduce the likelihood of losing because of it. The Super Rod would be harder to draw, but also creates an opportunity for reshuffling Garbodor pieces if they fall early.

+1 Field Blower

Field Blower could be useful in this deck for mirror and in removing Parallel City. The deck lacks a way to interact with Stadiums, so I can see how an early Parallel City might hurt, especially if a Lele was played/started with. Fighting Fury Belt is amazing in mirror, and likewise, removing them is amazing. It’s possible to search it out with Order Pad when necessary as well.


The most important rule to live by with this deck is to set up an early Garbotoxin. Ability lock is what makes this deck better than Buzzwole/Lycanroc against everything. Against Malamar, Buzzwole-GX becomes much safer because they can’t use Psychic Recharge. Against Zoroark-GX, Mew-EX is shut off. And lastly, against Buzzwole/Lycanroc, Octillery, Diancie p, and Lycanroc-GX are shut off. There are numerous other utilities against non-RPS decks like Greninja, Volcanion, Lapras, and Passimian.

When facing Buzzwole/Lycanroc, specifically the 3 Baby Buzz version, it’s important to load up a Buzzwole-GX to start. The initial plan is to get a T2 Garbotoxin and attach Energies to the same Buzzwole-GX every turn. It should have a Fighting Fury Belt on it, too.Your early Jet Punch damage should be poking Buzzwole-GX or Rockruff for 30 at most. Meanwhile, dig through your deck in search of Beast Ring, Energy, and N. The goal is to use 1-2 Beast Rings, N, then Sledgehammer all under Garbotoxin. This is specifically the strategy I used against James, and it’s highly effective. With Garbotoxin online, the Octillery is useless.

Don’t worry about going down to 4 Prizes into Sledgehammer. You should have an active Buzzwole-GX that just used Absorption-GX or Knuckle Impact to KO their Buzzwole-GX. If they decided to lead with Buzzwole FLI, the strategy remains the same, but you’re a lot safer. Continue to attach to the same Buzzwole-GX and go for the first Guzma. They won’t have any residual Jet Punch damage down, meaning your next few Buzzwole-GX will be unstoppable. The main difference between the lists is Fighting Fury Belt, which is extremely hard to deal with. Under Garbotoxin, it’s impossible for a Buzzwole-GX to do 230 without more than one Special Energy.

At this point, you’ll be at 3 Prizes and they’ll be at 3 as well, assuming you both traded Sledgehammers. Because you play more Beast Ring and draw Supporters, your deck is more consistent under Garbotoxin and can put Energy into play faster. It should be an easy finish from here, but be wary of Dangerous Rogue-GX. A clean Lycanroc-GX is hard to deal with if you omit Choice Band from the list.

Malamar and Zoroark matchups are relatively the same. When going second against either, your main goal is to retaliate their KO on your Buzzwole-GX. This sets them down to 4 Prizes into Sledgehammer. It’s unlikely you can take a KO with this unless you were lucky in drawing Choice Band. However, using Absorption-GX with Garbotoxin is just as good, so long as you Beast Ring to another Buzzwole-GX as well. This way, if they happen to draw Field Blower and load up another Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX, you’ll be prepared with a Knuckle Impact. Regardless of whether Sledgehammer is swinging for the extra damage, it’s still a strong stall Pokémon and chips damage for Knuckle Impact later on.

Both matchups are different if they target Trubbish first. For Malamar, this is 100% the correct play to make, as there is no way for you to retaliate. This also makes them go to 3 Prizes after KOing a Buzzwole-GX. When this happens, it’s pretty difficult to come back from. Your best hope is to set up another Trubbish/Garbodor and win with an N later on. Against Zoroark, you should be fairly safe if this happens because they cannot reliably 1HKO you without Mew-EX. Dangerous Rogue-GX is the biggest threat against Zoroark/Lycanroc; Trashalanche is very impactful in Zoroark/Garbodor. There’s little reason to play unwarranted Items vs. them because their only way to win is with Trashalanche. Waiting to draw into Trubbish or Buzzwole-GX manually is fine as long as you begin attacking with Jet Punch.


There are some drawbacks to Buzzwole/Garbodor over Buzzwole/Lycanroc or a different Standard deck. For one, there’s only one strategy that it can perform: Jet Punch, get KO’d, Beast Ring, Garbotoxin. Mainly, there’s only one attacker in Buzzwole-GX. Its linearity is one of its strengths, but also its major weakness. A smart player is able to dissect your position and plan accordingly, sometimes passing the turn rather than activating Beast Ring. The deck is very susceptible to N after gaining a large lead. If you take 3-4 early Prizes with the first Buzzwole-GX, it’ll be very difficult for you to recover from an N to 2-3 under your own Garbotoxin.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc has Buzzwole FLI, Buzzwole-GX, and Lycanroc-GX to attack with, as well as additional damage modifiers that make Buzzwole FLI more useful. In this deck, it can only act as an intermezzo between the first and second Buzzwole-GX. It’s also very easy to ignore, meaning that if the opponent can KO the second Buzzwole-GX—circumventing Buzzwole FLI—you’ll probably lose. The deck is overly reliant on Beast Ring because it doesn’t play Max Elixir. Even if you wanted to add some, the deck doesn’t run enough basic F Energy for it to be likely to hit one.


Buzzwole/Lycanroc was the best deck in RPS, but now has no more tricks up its sleeves to deal with Malamar’s new techs. I think that a Dragon Malamar list with a Mewtwo SM77 and Giratina XY184 is the deck to beat at the moment because it can do somewhat well against Zoroark-GX too. I have yet to test (or even build) the deck, so I’d look at Brit’s recent articles for a good list. I think the Garbodor/Zoroark deck has plenty of merit too, as I built it on PTCGO without knowing of his exploration with the concept.

The meta feels pretty boring and dumb right now, but it should normalize for NAIC. I doubt there will be any insane rogue decks, because it seems like everything has been discovered. I doubt that there’s an underrated promo card I can throw into a meta deck and crush with, as was the case last year with Ditto XY40. The trials of Trevenant BKP and Mesprit FLI go to show the number of ideas being circulated within the competitive community. At about the same time as Seagrove put out his video on the deck, it was going around in a chat I’m in too. There’s plenty of innovation happening, and I’m excited to see where it heads.


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