The Green Giant

Golisopod/Zoroark’s Return to Prominence and Malamar’s Mexico Resurgence

Hello 6P! Welcome back to a new article! The weekend just passed and we’re celebrating two things. One, I won one of my local SPE’s, after two Top 16 placements in the previous installments, which felt really good. I used Golisopod/Zoroark for the tournament, despite the assumed bad match up against Buzzwole/Lycanroc, but I’ll get into more on that later. Two, we’re back to number 2 in the Latin America ranking, sitting pretty comfortable at 1495 CP.

After a rocky 2018 year, it’s genuinely a big relief to have a 500+ CP point gap between me and 5th place, which means (assuming the Travel Awards and Stipends work the same) I should be good to go in terms of earning two Travel Awards: Day 2 for Worlds in Nashville and the upcoming EUIC wherever it is held. I’m hoping it’s not London again, but if it is then I’ll be happy to go back! I’m genuinely happy to be in this position. I was hoping it wouldn’t take me all the way until June to get there, but the miserable results I’ve had in the second half of the season are the reason why it took this long.

With that small blurb on my status ranking wise out of the way, let’s get to the meat of the article: how did I come to the conclusion that Golisopod/Zoroark would be a good play for the Special Event?

Mexico’s metagame is usually very separate from the US and the two previous SPE’s all had high amounts of Malamar. In the first SPE, I also played Zoroark and I lost to Buzzwole round 1. Granted my list was definitely suboptimal, as I used Garbodor as the pairing and a single Lycanroc just demolished me.

However, this time around I decided on Golisopod as the partner in order to insure that I had one energy responses to the threats with double Mew-EX for the Psychic weak attackers, and Golisopod-GX for Lycanroc. The issues I ran into at Madison against Buzzwole when playing my Lycanroc/Zoroark deck were: 1.) My answer to Lycanroc was my own Lycanroc which required two turns to get ready and 2.) Mewtwo only trades 2 shots with baby Buzzwole and can be played around by keeping less than 3 attachments on Buzzwole-GX.

Now, with double Mew-EX and Golisopod-GX, it was going to be a trade of 1HKOs every time. However, I have the added consistency of Zoroark-GX naturally included into the deck, which allows me to Trade and thin the deck and Mallow and Double Puzzle for the necessary resources. Ideally this would allow me to keep ahead in the game vs Buzzwole, and seeing the results from Sheffield (two Zoroark decks in the finals, one Lycanroc, one Golisopod), it seems like I was not the only one to come to this conclusion and apply it successfully.

Here’s my winning list from this weekend:

Pokémon – 19

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

3 Wimpod BUS

2 Golisopod-GX

3 Tapu Lele-GX

2 Mew-EX

1 Tapu Koko SM31

Trainers – 34

3 Brigette

3 N

3 Guzma

2 Acerola

1 Cynthia

1 Mallow

1 Professor Kukui

1 Professor Sycamore


4 Puzzle of Time

4 Ultra Ball

3 Field Blower

2 Enhanced Hammer

1 Counter Catcher

1 Evosoda

2 Choice Band

1 Float Stone


1 Parallel City

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 G

Granted, this event was on the smaller side, with only 36 Masters. However, out of those 36, I had to play against Caleb Gedemer, currently second in NA rankings and third in the World; Gustavo Wada, first place in LATAM; and our very own Christopher Schemanske, another Top 16 racer. The event was small but had at least 10 or so Day 2 Worlds competitors, so highly concentrated in competition. Also worthy of note, in the “poor locals that get points taken away” debate: only 2 of the out-of-region Day 2 invite chasers made it into Cut.

My matches were the following:

Round 1 – Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI LWW
Round 2 – Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX WW (Gustavo Wada)
Round 3 – Necrozma-GX/Malamar FLI WW
Round 4 – Necrozma-GX/Malamar FLI WLW (Caleb Gedemer)
Round 5 – ID
Round 6 – ID
Top 8 – Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor WW (Christopher Schemanske)
Top 4 – Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX WW
Top 2 – Necrozma-GX/Malamar FLI WW (Caleb Gedemer)

Overall, the deck’s consistency carried me throughout a lot of games, as thanks to Trade, you’re likely to have the resources you need at the right time. Mallow also aids in that, and I’m genuinely considering a second Mallow because of how good it is. I will now go over the more specific choices for the deck:

2 Mew-EX: As mentioned above, Mew-EX is the best answer to Buzzwole in my opinion. Mewtwo EVO is very solid as a standalone Pokémon and a great starter, but it just doesn’t pack the necessary punch due to its reliance on energy attached to opponent’s Pokémon, which they can plan around and control.

The lack of Mew FCO or Oricorio GRI in Buzzwole decks now means their only realistic answers to a Mew-EX are:

1) Sledgehammer (if at 4 Prizes)
2) Using up a Beast Ring (if at 3-4 Prizes)
3) A powered up Lycanroc-GX
4) The combination of Beast Energy + Choice Band + Diancie p + Regirock-EX on a Buzzwole or Buzzwole-GX

In each scenario though, the following can be done:

1) You can sometimes play around Sledgehammer by taking 1 and then 2 Prizes.
2) Using a Beast Ring just to KO a Mew-EX is a great trade of resources in your favor.
3) You have Golisopod-GX to 1HKO their Lycanroc-GX.
4) This combination of cards is not easy to achieve due to the inability to specifically search for Beast Energy at the right time.

3 Guzma + 1 Counter Catcher: This was something I included after playtesting with Gustavo Wada the day before the event. We talked through the benefits of Counter Catcher over 4th Guzma, and it made sense. Being able to play that plus N on the same turn is the equivalent to Lycanroc-GX using Bloodthirsty Eyes + N or equivalent to playing 2 Supporter effects in one turn. Add Trade on top of that as a draw effect and you have the perfect recipe to find what you need, when you need it.

There was genuinely never any instance where I needed the Counter Catcher to be Guzma. While that may have been true on the day, I’d expect that to happen eventually but it’s something I’m willing to work with given the benefits of having the Counter Catcher in the deck.

1 Professor Kukui: We all know baby Buzzwole is all the rage right now, and unfortunately both Golisopod’s first attack and Zoroark both cap at 120 damage in Standard. Choice Band doesn’t help in reaching for that 130 magical number, so that’s where Professor Kukui comes in.

It also helps both of these attackers reach 170 damage, which is enough to 1HKO a Tapu Lele-GX, and it allows Golisopod-GX to hit above the 180 threshold, to potentially 1HKO the 190 HPers such as Buzzwole-GX, Ho-Oh-GX, etc.

I believe those are the only cards that were out of the norm adaptations to the current meta or improvements overall to the deck. It’s interesting to see Zoroark be successful at the Special Event in Mexico City and also at the Regional in Sheffield on the same weekend.

The metagame in Sheffield, or at least the spread of decks in Top 32, was pretty interesting to say the least. Lots of presence by the top 3: BuzzRoc, Malamar and Zoroark, with different versions and adaptations. Also some stand alone decks such as Lapras, Sylveon, BuzzGarb, and GoliGarb made an appearance. All of this indicates a healthy meta in my opinion, with lists still being perfected in this Forbidden Light metagame.

The Rock – Paper – Scissors feeling is still there, of course, but it does seem like Malamar is lagging behind a bit from Buzzwole and Zoroark decks. Having said this, I did face Caleb’s Psychic Malamar deck, which honestly surprised me at how good it ran, and also how well equipped it was to deal with Zoroark decks. He shared his list on his Facebook page, and it’s as follows:

Pokémon – 18

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Hoopa STS

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Clefairy EVO

1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

1 Giratina XY184

1 Marshadow-GX

1 Mewtwo-GX

1 Necrozma-GX

Trainers – 32

4 Guzma

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Cynthia

2 N

1 Brigette


4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

3 Max Elixir

2 Field Blower

2 Rescue Stretcher


3 Float Stone

Energy – 10

10 P

This list applies all the concepts that I had been discussing with my friends regarding how Malamar needed to adapt in order to keep up with the meta.

First off, non-GX attackers. Malamar started lagging behind Buzzwole because it adapted to a heavy baby Buzzwole count in order to trade more efficiently. I was a personal fan of Mewtwo Promo more so than Hoopa, but the numbers Hoopa hits for are actually really good. The spreading of damage can potentially help set up easier 1HKOs for Necrozma-GX or Dawn Wings’s GX attack, specifically 20 on a Rockruff for a follow up 190/180.

Hitting for 130 also means that Zoroark is getting 2HKO’d despite resistance, along with any other Stage 1 GX. However, this 110-130 number is also great when paired with Black Ray-GX, as it allows you to finish off various Pokémon with just one attack. Basically, trading 1 for 1 or 2 for 2 is fine, but 2 for 1 is never good. Hoopa, Clefairy, and even Giratina can be great attackers to make sure you’re never put in a disadvantage.

Next up is a solid answer to an active Zoroark in Marshadow-GX. The Fighting typing is obviously great, and having Dawn Wings Necrozma in the discard pile is the ideal combination. Not only to copy its attacks to conserve energy, but also to not have it be a 2 Prize liability against Zoroark-GX.

Necrozma-GX and Mewtwo-GX are hard hitting Pokémon, whom can answer Lycanroc-GX but also deal with other things thanks to the spread options from Hoopa. Well placed 20s can make it so that Necrozma-GX only requires 3 energy to 1HKO rather than 4, and that’s a huge game changer. Finally, Clefairy gives you the versatility that Mimikyu doesn’t with all the restrictions, so despite having 40 HP, you’re using it to trade favorably—and not for its longevity.

The rest of the list is pretty consistent, and I love the 4/4 Malamar line. I can’t understand how people think 4/3 is acceptable whatsoever, as the heavy discarding with Professor Sycamore, Mysterious Treasure and Ultra Ball and a potential prize means access to only 1 Malamar in a game, and that is for sure going to lose you a match or two. 4/4 is 100% the way to go no matter how you’re trying to build the list.

The only other stand out about the list is the 2 Rescue Stretcher, and they make sense with all the ‘singles’ of the GX pokemon. Having the right one for any given situation is crucial, and Prizing issues notwithstanding, this is the best way to not commit to 2 copies of each, while giving you flexibility and recovery options.

The only thing I would love to see is a 4th Float Stone in the list, as a lot of plays rely on responding with something freshly benched, most of the time a GX attacker. By leading with Hoopa and only setting up Malamars early on, you can deny your opponent from taking 2 Prizes early on, and you can time your GX attackers to have them be as efficient as possible.

I’ll be going more in depth on this deck once the NAIC deck marathon hits, and exploring more in detail the advantages of each non-GX attacker available and the Choice Band/Fighting Fury Belt/neither debate.

To finish up this article, I want to touch upon the final tournament before NAIC: Mexico City Regionals. I haven’t had a weekend without playing Pokémon since the LATAM IC back in April. It’s been a very intense 2 months of playing, and I can honestly say I’m burned out.

I love competing, I love traveling, but this season was definitely too much. I don’t know what will fix this, a BFL, no BFL, more events, less events, etc. What I do know is that it is completely up to me to determine how I go about next season, and my plan is to not be so intense.

I’ve come to the decision that the difference between an $1000 stipend or a $2500 travel award is not worth this level of exhaustion from me. Time is something I value over anything, as it’s so precious and limited. As I’m trying to formulate my plan for next season, I wanted to look back at everywhere I went and everything that happened during the season.

So far, it’s looking like I’m going to impose a 1 major event per month limit for me. Dedicating 1 weekend to traveling per month, and another 1 for Cups, seems like a reasonable balance between Pokémon and non-Pokémon activities. I will also be prioritizing Internationals thanks to the stipends, but also Standard format events over Expanded. It was no surprise to me after reviewing my season that most of my good performances this season were in Standard, which is not only a healthier format, but also the one that for one reason or another, you end up practicing the most. And obviously, more practice means better results.

I will actively be avoiding Expanded next season, except for Dallas and perhaps Anaheim simply due to ease of accessibility, but I will definitely choose not to attend certain Regionals despite the amazing organizer or location, simply because of that. This goes hand in hand with Christopher’s article yesterday analyzing attendance, and it’s a conclusion I came to after seeing the amount of time required to prepare adequately for both formats. I know I can do it but I’m just choosing not to. This will really help in this life balance that I’m trying to work on for the following season.

And that will wrap up my article for today! I’m looking forward to next weekend, then NAIC, and I will be giving my best at both events as always. Winning this past weekend was a confidence booster I really needed, and with that out of the way, I’m looking forward to defend my home turf and then compete against the best in the world one last time before the World Championships! Thanks for reading and until next time!

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