The Rock of the Cycle

Examining the Meta as a Cycle and Buzzwole/Lycanroc as a Future Play

Hello, everyone. It’s Isaiah Williams writing this article from Mexico City. I have spent the last week here to attend both the Mexico City SPE and Regionals. Within this week, I have put myself under a strict metagame testing regime. It was brutal to endure countless hours of dead-draws and watching Caleb Gedemer hit Guzma in every N to 2, but alas, I persevered. Now I am here to enlighten you on what “the play” is for Mexico City Regionals. It is whichever deck you are good at.

A Metagame Expansion?

This may be something that you have heard before, but I think that this is especially prevalent in the current meta. Right now, our meta is dominated by three archetypes—Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, Malamar, and Zoroark-GX. This is quite a rock/paper/scissors format. We see this given the recent Regionals results. We started with a Zoroark dominant meta at the beginning of the year. Then we saw an insane spree of Buzzwole victories from Charlotte Regionals to Madison Regionals. We then, unexpectedly, saw a recent ZoroRoc win at Sheffield regionals. What caused such an upset in this Buzzwole dominant meta?

The obvious answer to me is that the new Malamar archetype— Malamar/Mewtwo(Hoopa)—was introduced into the meta. With little time to truly test this matchup, Buzzwole players in fear of their psychic weaknesses opted to play other variants. This gave Zoroark a swift window of opportunity to rise to the top, leaving us with this triangle of decks at the top.

“The Play”

Picking a deck to play going into a Regional is already quite the task. Picking a deck to play when you know that, no matter what deck you end up playing, you will be facing 2-3-of a matchup you know is already not in your favor, is a serious challenge. How possibly can we manage to go far in a tournament if we start the tournament X-2? The trick is to turn your unfavorable matchups into favorable ones.

We do this by becoming extremely experienced in that specific matchup, to the point where you feel you can probably beat around 50% of your bad matchups, in the triangle with just your knowledge in the matchup. You need to know your deck in order to be successful. Honestly, in this meta, the matchup does not play out the way you think it will. Knowing how to take advantage of board state and resource counts really allows either side of a matchup to win. In my opinion, the best any deck can be favored among the trifecta of decks is 55-45. So, no pun intended, put all of your cards in one deck and become a god at playing it.

For me—even though I am normally a Zoroark-GX player—I have recently found that I really enjoy the play style of Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX. So today, I am going to talk to you guys about my ideas on the deck, and share what is likely to be the list I play going into Mexico City Regionals.

Pokémon – 15

2 Buzzwole FLI

2 Buzzwole-GX

2 Lycanroc-GX GRI

2 Rockruff FLI

2 Octillery BKT

2 Remoraid BKT 31

1 Diancie p

1 Regirock-EX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainers – 31

4 Guzma

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

1 Cynthia


4 Ultra Ball

3 Beast Ring

3 Max Elixir

1 Super Rod

3 Choice Band

2 Float Stone


3 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 14

9 F

4 Strong

1 Beast p

Why I Like the Deck

Buzzwole.dec has a pressure that I have not seen in all 8 years of playing Pokémon. It’s able to literally take 6 Prize cards by Turn 4 if running well enough. Going 2nd against most decks is almost a guaranteed Prize assuming a decent hand. The deck also has so many options and plays that you can often catch your opponent off guard, especially with Lycanroc-GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes, and Octillery’s draw power with Abyssal Hand. Nothing your opponent has in play is safe. In a way, it is a highly disruptive and controlling deck, in that you tear down your opponents set up by quickly killing whatever key pokemon they put into play.

This deck already sounds extremely intimidating as is, but we haven’t even mentioned what is most powerful about the deck. In scenarios where you do happen to fall behind from bad draws or your opponent finally gets the footing to take Prizes, you have insanely powerful comeback plays like Buzzwole’s sledgehammer and Beast Ring. To me, this deck honestly has everything a deck could ask for.

The Counts

“Only 2 Baby Buzzwole?”

Recently, we have seen some players have great success with 3 Buzzwole FLI in their lists, but in my opinion, that is because players have not figured out how to play around it yet. Forcing your opponent to take 6 actual KOs is of course a very strong strategy, however there is a reason we moved from a non-GX meta to a GX meta by choice. It is simply because Pokémon-GX are inherently better.

By playing with the Buzzwole FLI version, you lose an insane amount of pressure in the mid to late game which is often necessary to close the game. The 30 damage snipes (of Buzzwole- GX) are quite significant in taking tactical multi-Prize turns, which can be what wins or loses you the game very frequently. Keep in mind that we are still playing 2 Buzzwole and Super Rod so it is quite easy to mimic the non-GX board state for the first few turns to force your opponent to go down to 4 Prizes and activate Sledgehammer.

With this cut, we have the space in the deck to have a much stronger and consistent mid to late game with thicker stage 1 lines. In conclusion, more than 1 baby Buzzwole is definitely good, but 3 is overhyped.

2-2 Lycanroc-GX/Octillery

We have seen risky cuts to the stage ones that are pillars of the deck in top level play as of recent. Some people playing 2-1/1-1 lines of both Lycanroc-GX and Octillery. I believe these cuts really take away from the concepts that make Buzzwole.dec so good, and that is its speed and control. In a meta where matchups are so close and skillful, I feel like these are features of the deck that you need to be able to rely on at any given moment.

3-1 N/Cynthia

This split is the optimal split in my opinion. Buzzwole.dec is extremely powerful due to how disruptive its speed and KOs can be. If you are able to constantly N your opponent as you make plays and trade KOs, you will come out on top due to your superior hand control. This works especially well due to your Octillery’s potential when you are low hand sizes.

2-3 Float Stone/Choice Band

I originally had a 3-3 split in the tools but decided to make the difficult cut for the 2nd Octillery. I debated between cutting the 4th Guzma or the 3rd Float Stone. Ultimately, I decided that 4 Guzma is better because it reinforces that idea of pressuring your opponent in the early game while still being able to provide the retreating effect of a Float Stone. Deciding to cut the Float Stone over the choice band also is a decision made with this same aggressive philosophy in mind.

3-3 Beast Ring/Max Elixir

A lot of people have debated over what the right split of Beast Ring and Max Elixir is. Max Elixir is a much more aggressive energy accelerator to pull off strong early game plays, while Beast Ring is a slower, but much more powerful and game swinging energy accelerator. Normally, I would say to stay pure and play toward the early game aggression, since that is the decks strength, but beast ring is just too powerful of a card. You need to be able to reliably draw them on the two turns you are at 4 and 3 Prizes. I think the 3-3 split is a good compromise to being able to consistently pull off both purposes of the cards, and the testing so far has shown this to be the case.

1-1 Diancie p/Regirock-EX

I include Regirock-EX along with the Diancie in this list because they are so crucial to keeping tempo in games. Having both in play allows baby Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX to hit good numbers against multiple things. Hitting a Zoroark with Jet Punch/Sledgehammer with Diancie and Regirock-EX and Choice Band and Strong Energy is a 1HKO. The same goes for 1HKOing a Lycanroc-GX with Sledgehammer when your opponent is at 4 Prizes. It is also amazing for killing 60 HP Inkay and Remoraid when you just cannot find the Strong Energy. You’ll find that doing that extra 10 damage comes up so often in each of your games. Even though it is a 2-Prize EX, Regirock is needed for the deck.

The Matchups

Mirror – 60/40

If you’ve followed this article correctly and have decided to play Buzzwole.dec, then you should be a god at piloting this deck. One of the qualifications of understanding a deck at its fullest potential is being quite confident in the mirror match to the point where you can out-maneuver someone else who has not put as much time into it. This is why this matchup is 60/40.

The main thing you should avoid in this match is putting yourself to 4 Prize cards. The pressure that a 1HKO Sledgehammer provides is momentum swinging and should be avoided at all cost. Luckily, Buzzwole is quite good at pulling this off due to its ease at killing low HP 1-Prizers. Kill a Remoraid or Rockruff and then begin taking GX KOs. If your opponent is playing only non-Pokémon-GX against you then outplay that strategy by setting up two Pokémon who can die simultaneously with a Jet Punch. This will take you from 5 to 3 Prizes effectively preventing the Sledgehammer activation.

If you are able to outplay your opponent well enough, you can actually set up a Jet Punch double KO on a Pokémon-GX and a non-Pokémon-GX or two Pokémon-GX skipping you straight to 2 Prizes. This avoids both the Sledgehammer activation and the Beast Ring activation, essentially securing you as the victor of the match. Keep in mind to try to avoid benching Pokémon-GX early so that your opponent is forced into going to 4 Prizes and your Sledgehammer/Beast Rings go into effect.

Another tip in winning this matchup is actually to kill the Diancie early as your 1st Prize with an early Dangerous Rogue. This might seem like a lot for a 1-Prizer, however, you will find that your opponent has a very difficult time hitting the numbers necessary to keep up with you in trades, and it fulfills the requirement of going to odd Prizes.

Malamar/Non-GX Attackers – 45/55

This matchup is definitely your hardest one, but it is also definitely winnable. You should take advantage of Malamar’s clunky starts and apply significant pressure on Inkay with Buzzwole or Buzzwole-GX. Make them have to have the turn 2 attack. If they miss the attack—which they often do—then you should find yourself up 3 Prizes before they even get an attack off. This makes way for quite an easy Prize exchange with Beast Rings to finish the game, especially given their decimated board state due to the repeated KOs.

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX – 55/45

Historically, Zoroark-GX variants have had a hard time dealing with Buzzwole and this is definitely still the case. This does not mean that you can easily lose this matchup with one whiff or one wrong energy attachment. Be on the lookout for anything suspicious like Shaymin/Counter Energy and play around it if you find out they do play it. In this matchup specifically, you want to target down the Zoroark player’s energy if they have more than 2 Zoruas down. If 2 or less, you kill their Zoruas and Zoroark-GX to cripple their draw power and watch as they whiff every big KO with only 1 or no Zoroark-GX in play.

Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX – 55/45

This matchup is very similar to the ZoroRoc matchup in that you want to cripple their draw power by taking 1HKOs on Zorua and Zoroark-GX. If your opponent only has one Wimpod down, then kill that Wimpod and sweep with a Lycanroc-GX. If they have more than 2 Wimpod, it is probably in your interest to target down their Zoruas and, in the words of Danny Altavilla, “turn them into a bad Golisopod-GX deck.” Your opponent will continuously whiff KOs while you take easy one shots with Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX.

You might notice how close my overall matchup representation is. Well, that is because I honestly believe this is the case in the current meta. Even with how powerful Buzzwole-GX is, decks in the meta have adapted to have a gameplay against it. This makes almost every matchup quite skillful. So, make sure you have acquired that skill before deciding on that deck.


Play what you are comfortable at piloting, and outplay your opponent in each round. The overall meta has many very close matchups, so take advantage of this by knowing what to do when your opponent does not. If you are completely lost and have no inclination toward any one deck in the meta, I advise picking up Buzzwole.dec right now and dedicating yourself to it. Learn what to do in every scenario and with every hand. This will give you the best chance at going far in Mexico City, and any tournament you play with the deck from here on out.

I just want to thank you guys for reading through my second article here on I love being a part of the team and working with such amazing people and players. It is such an honor to provide content for you readers and to assist your gameplay in anyway. If you have any comments or questions please feel free to come talk to me whenever you see me at events. I am always open to new ideas or perspectives. Until next time, good luck in Mexico City Regionals and any tournament you may be competing in.

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