Hello everyone. Ben Branch-Trevathan here with a top eight Worlds report. I am a junior in high school and I started playing last September. Last season, I earned 652 CP, with my first big placement being top thirty-two at NAIC. And now here is the tale of how I took Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX to a fifth place finish.
Pokémon – 152 Buzzwole-GX
2 Remoraid BKT
Trainers – 32
Energy – 13
1 Beast ♢
This is the list I used day one. I chose to play Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX as I felt it gave me the best shot at finishing a set in fifty minutes—an appealing feature given the rigor of the World Championships. There is not much to say about it, since it was fairly conventional, except for the fact that it was optimized for the Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX mirror and the Rayquaza-GX matchup. As such, I cut back on counts that did not affect these matchups, specifically Brooklet Hill and Float Stone. In this respect, the deck functioned as planned, though I did not end up playing against any Rayquaza-GX on day one.
R1 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (2-0)
When my opponent flipped over a Buzzwole-GX and a Remoraid BKT, I was immediately relieved. As previously noted, this was a matchup I was fairly confident in.
In game one, I used Buzzwole FLI to two-shot my opponent’s Buzzwole-GX and I set up a Rockruff for the following turn. He then retaliated with a Sledgehammer of his own onto my baby Buzzwole. I was then able to Beast Ring onto Buzzwole-GX, before using Lycanroc-GX to Dangerous Rogue his only Rockruff. From there, the game spiralled out of his control and I managed to finish a clean game one.
In game two, he took an early lead similar to mine in our prior match. Nonetheless, I was able to play all three Beast Ring on a single turn, enabling me to overrun him with a sheer variety of attackers.
At this point, some of the initial nerves I encountered before the day began faded and I felt prepared to compete.
This was a matchup about which I was initially concerned. However, after practicing several matches versus the deck on Thursday, I devised a fairly simple gameplan. Ideally, the Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX player will trade Buzzwole FLI attacks with their opponent until the Sledgehammer turn, at which point Lycanroc-GX should be used to target their opponent’s Garbodor GRI and end the game.
In game one, this strategy worked perfectly, as my opponent was forced to choose between the building threat of Lycanroc-GX on the bench and that of Buzzwole FLI in the active. Eventually, the increasing pressure became too much for him, and I was able to Claw Slash three consecutive Garbodor GRI.
In game two, I prized a 1-2 Lycanroc-GX line and was therefore unable to threaten the same endgame I had previously. My misfortune was somewhat negated though by my opponent’s inability to find energy throughout the game. To worsen matters, I was able to prevent him from benching more than two Trubbish BKP at a time, which allowed me to eventually overwhelm him in the late game.
My next encounter with this deck went less smoothly, as my opponent seemed to play a more consistent list than my previous opponent, opting for a split of Brooklet Hill and Shrine of Punishment.
In game one, I failed to stream the Buzzwole FLI attacks in the manner I sought and was unable to utilize a turn of Sledgehammer due to starting Buzzwole-GX. Moreover, my opponent capitalized upon my slow start, hunting Rockruff FLI and Remoraid BKT on my bench. I fell a few turns later.
In game two, my opponent seemed to suffer a series of dead hands. He continually promoted his Octillery BKT with a Float Stone before retreating to either a Trubbish BKP or Remoraid BKT. In the end, it was not much of a game, and I won by benching him out within fifteen minutes.
In game three, with little time remaining, we agreed to determine the match outcome by the remaining prizes when turn three ended. However, when this time came, we were both at three prizes. The match was a tie.
R4 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (2-0)
I will not comment much on this matchup, as I have covered it previously, but in general the player with the best bench wins. As such, it is often the correct play to hunt your opponent’s Remoraid BKT and Rockruff FLI as opposed to their Buzzwole-GX or Buzzwole FLI.
In the first game, my opponent was unable to keep a Remoraid BKT on board because I used Guzma to knock one out on consecutive turns. My opponent was then able to setup a double knockout with Jet Punch but I was able to retaliate with Sledgehammer putting me at two prizes. Seeing a Rockruff FLI already on my bench with an energy, he scooped.
In game two, my opponent went first and drew for turn before attaching a Choice Band to his active Buzzwole-GX and passing. Over the next two turns, I knocked out his Buzzwole-GX with a Buzzwole FLI, leaving him with no bench.
At this point, there were six players with a 3-0-1 record, and though two of us had played prior, we believed it was safe to ID the next two rounds. We failed to account, however, for any 2-0-1 players moving upward. This choice would end up hurting two of us later.
Regardless, my opponent was kind and courteous and we agreed to ID.
After accepting an ID round five, being downpaired felt like a punch in the gut. Much to my relief, I ended up making day two nonetheless. I do not want to say my opponent this round played badly, but he made some frankly peculiar decisions throughout our two games.
In game one, I opened Buzzwole FLI to his Drampa-GX. Going first, I attached a Strong Energy and Choice Band to my active, expecting him to retreat the Drampa-GX on the following turn. I then played Professor Sycamore into a nearly unplayable hand, excluding a Beast Energy Prism and a Brooklet Hill. I then used Brooklet Hill to retrieve my Diancie Prism. On his turn, he benched an Eevee SUM and a Trubbish BKP, used and then failed Energy Evolution, attached a Float Stone to his Trubbish BKP, attached a Weakness Policy to his Eevee, and finally passed. I’m not sure if his nerves got to him or if he in fact thought this was the correct series of actions, but regardless, he asked to take these moves back midway through my second turn. From there, I was able to take control of the game, eventually leaving him with three Tapu Lele-GX on the bench, at which point he conceded.
Game two was less memorable, but I recall playing several draw supporters in a row to little effect, each time leaving me with a collection of basic Pokémon and energy. He won a few turns later.
With no time remaining for a third game, we agreed to ID. I found it odd that my opponent would offer the ID, since any outcome except a win would eliminate him from day two—a fact I made sure he was aware of—and yet he still offered it. In any case, I did not hesitate in accepting and I was guaranteed for day two.
Pokémon – 15
2 Remoraid BKT
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
1 Beast ♢
I chose to stick with Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX due to my comfort with the deck. But unlike my list from the first day of competition, this one was anything but generic. I upped my Brooklet Hill, Float Stone, and Rockruff FLI counts for a better Zoroark-GX matchup. Furthermore, with the list and advice of Israel Sosa, I included two Double Colorless Energy and a Supporter lineup designed to optimize their usage. These changes were supremely helpful in the early rounds of day two, and were unexpectedly useful in a few niche matchups.
R1 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (2-0) Yuta Ozawa [JP]
When I saw that I had been paired against a Japanese player, I assumed I would be playing versus some variant of either Zoroark-GX or Buzzwole-GX. My hunch was correct, and to my relief, my opponent flipped over a Zorua SLG to start game one.
Early in our first game, it became clear my opponent was suffering suboptimal draws. He opened his turn by using Nest Ball for a Trubbish BKT and then playing Professor Sycamore, discarding a Parallel City and a Puzzle of Time. He then passed. On my turn, I was able to bench one Remoraid BKT and two Rockruff FLI, Max Elixir onto a Rockruff FLI, and Cynthia before using my active Buzzwole FLI to knockout the Zorua SLG of my opponent. He used a Garbodor GRI on the following turn to knockout my Buzzwole FLI. But it was not enough to mount a comeback, and I was able to clean up the game with a single Lycanroc-GX in the next few turns—fortunately without revealing the Double Colorless Energy within my deck.
From the outset of game two, I realized that I faced an uphill battle. I started Buzzwole-GX, and was only able to bench a Rockruff FLI, Max Elixir onto it, and attach active before passing the turn. On the next turn, being his second, my opponent found three Zoroark-GX, evolved into Garbodor BKP, and used Delinquent to leave me with zero cards in hand. Luckily, I found a Cynthia off the top on my turn, but the setup that followed was fragile at best. Ultimately, he was left with one prize, and I with two, as I had been able to find a pair of Beast Ring after he knocked out my Buzzwole-GX. On his last turn, my opponent was forced to Field Blower his own Garbodor BKP’s Float Stone, allowing me to use Abyssal Hand on the following turn. Nonetheless, I contemplated scooping, facing two Garbodor GRI. I decided against it as I had a win condition in my benched Rockruff FLI. With two cards in hand, I used Abyssal Hand for three and found a Strong Energy, a Choice Band, and a Guzma. With an energy already on the Rockruff FLI, and my Diancie Prism on bench, I attached the Strong Energy and Choice Band to the Rockruff FLI, played Guzma onto my opponent’s Zoroark-GX, and used Surprise Attack. Heads.
R2 Zoroark-GX/Control (2-0) James Cox [AU]
Just as in my previous round, I felt I had a good idea of what my opponent was playing after seeing pairings. However, in this case I was wrong, and instead of the Buzzwole FLI or Trubbish BKP I expected to see upon my opponent’s first turn, I instead saw a Zorua SLG and a Slugma CES.
In game one, my opponent opened with a fairly strong hand, establishing three Zorua SLG, the Slugma CES I mentioned prior, and a Parallel City plus Delinquent play, leaving me with one due to the fact I started with two Rockruff FLI and a Remoraid BKT. Going into my turn, I was forced to Cynthia immediately. However, I was blessed with an amazing hand on the other side of the Cynthia, and I was able to Brooklet Hill for my third Rockruff FLI, Max Elixir onto both benched Rockruff FLI, attach a basic Fighting energy to one of them, and hold the Lycanroc-GX and Professor Sycamore left in my hand—knowing I was relatively safe from a Delinquent play as he had managed it the turn prior.
On his turn, he evolved all three of his Zorua SLG and his lone Slugma CES before using Riotous Beating to knockout my active Rockruff FLI. On the following turn, I was able to evolve both of my remaining Rockruff FLI, play Professor Sycamore, and attach active, enabling me to Claw Slash his active Zoroark-GX for two prizes. On his turn, he promoted Tapu Lele-GX, played Team Flare Grunt, and used Energy Drive for 80. At this point I had a fairly unplayable hand, disregarding the Double Colorless Energy and Float Stone I had, so I simply used Dangerous Rogue to remove the Tapu Lele-GX. My opponent responded by using double Puzzle to find Team Flare Grunt and Parallel City and played both. Subsequently, he used Counter Catcher onto my Buzzwole-GX, and then retreated into Oranguru UPR to use Resource Management. After top-decking Guzma, I promptly revealed both it and the Double Colorless to my opponent—much to his surprise.
Due to the nature of my opponent’s deck, we had a mere ten minutes remaining after setting up for game two. It soon became obvious that we would not finish this second game, and eight minutes later, time was called. We both had four prizes remaining, but I had no GX Pokémon on board, while he did. After realizing he had no way of winning and I did, my opponent scooped.
R3 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (2-0) Adam Omarali [CA]
This time, I had no way of predicting what my opponent was playing. I had played Adam before though and knew him to be a talented player.
In game one, my opponent was able to set up several Zoroark-GX on turn two, allowing him to Enhanced Hammer the Strong Energy I attached to my benched Rockruff FLI on my first turn. However, due to a Max Elixir and a second Strong Energy, I managed to Dangerous Rogue his active Zoroark-GX on my next turn. He responded by playing an additional Enhanced Hammer, and then swinging into my Lycanroc-GX. I then attached a Double Colorless Energy active, played Max Elixir onto a new Rockruff FLI on the bench, and used Claw Slash, removing his Zoroark-GX. For the second time that day, my opponent was visibly surprised by my inclusion of Double Colorless Energy. After he used a Tapu Lele-GX to finish off my Lycanroc-GX, I used Sledgehammer for knockout.
In game two, he opened with a less than ideal hand, starting Oranguru UPR and benching two Zorua SLG and a single Trubbish BKP before playing Professor Sycamore and passing. I started my first turn by attaching a Float Stone to my active Remoraid BKT and a Beast Energy Prism to my Buzzwole FLI, next using Tapu Lele-GX to find a Cynthia, and then playing Brooklet Hill for a Rockruff FLI on the other side of Cynthia. Upon searching my deck with Brooklet Hill, I discovered that I prized both Lycanroc-GX. Even so, I opted for retrieving the Rockruff FLI, since I felt that between the prize I would be taking that turn with Sledgehammer, and the subsequent prizes I may take, it was the optimal choice.
After knocking out my opponent’s Oranguru UPR, I was rewarded for my choice, as I found one of the prized Lycanroc-GX. On his turn, my opponent found no Zoroark-GX, and decided to retreat into Tapu Lele-GX and pass after playing a Cynthia. I evolved my Rockruff FLI with the Lycanroc-GX I had found, used Bloodthirsty Eyes to target one of the Zorua SLG on his bench, and attached to Lycanroc-GX, before using Sledgehammer to take another prize. On his turn, he found a Zoroark-GX, but I responded by deploying Guzma to remove it with Dangerous Rogue following an energy attachment. I made the mistake of benching a Buzzwole-GX on this turn and my opponent punished my poor play by using a Guzma of his own to dispatch it with Trashalanche. I emptied my hand using two Ultra Ball, utilized Abyssal Hand for five cards. It netted me a Guzma and Diancie Prism, which enabled me to Sledgehammer his Tapu Lele-GX for the game because the Buzzwole FLI still carried a Beast Energy Prism.
R4 Greninja BREAK (1-0) Brennan Kamerman [NL]
After having been seated next to Brennan in the previous round, I had some idea of his techs. I knew he played a high count of Enhanced Hammer—I would quickly learn that number was three—as well as no Max Potion or Counter Catcher. This knowledge let me more confidently coordinate Jet Punch damage, as I knew that he lacked any method of removing it.
In game one, I took an early lead by removing his only Froakie FLI from the board with a Guzma plus Jet Punch play, placing thirty damage onto his benched Staryu. On the following turn, he found two Froakie FLI and a Splash Energy for Staryu. In the next two turns, I was able to pick off several prizes, yet I had been forced to play only Special Energy up until this point, facilitating a triple Enhanced Hammer turn from my opponent. On my turn, I could only Max Elixir onto a Buzzwole FLI and pass, as I had no energy to attach in hand, nor a way to find one. Subsequently, while under Shadow Stitching, I made a detrimental error by using Ultra Ball, discarding a Professor Sycamore and a Choice Band, to find Octillery BKT. Though my opponent stopped me from using Abyssal Hand in time, I had left myself with a zero card hand. Deflated, I passed the turn.
The following circumstances are regrettable, to say the least: without either of us noticing, my opponent had neglected to take the second prize he was entitled to after knocking out my Buzzwole-GX. After playing an N, he—and then I—realized, and as a result he received a double prize loss. As a result, I won the game—though not deservedly.
We had little time remaining for a second game, and as time was called with both of us sitting at six prizes, my opponent conceded.
R5 Greninja BREAK (2-0) Abijah Jong [CA]
After seeing the pairings for this round, I was disappointed. Abijah is a good friend and to play him under such circumstances was unfortunate. Nonetheless, we agreed it was too early to ID and decided to play it out.
In game one, I went first, receiving six additional cards due to Abijah’s mulligans. I began my turn by attaching a Fighting Energy to my active Rockruff FLI and playing N. After the N, I was able to bench a Remoraid BKT as well as a Buzzwole FLI, leaving me with a Double Colorless Energy, a Lycanroc-GX, and a Professor Sycamore, among several other cards. On his turn, Abijah immediately played an N, attached active, and used Rain Splash. I evolved Rockruff and attached the Double Colorless Energy for game. Much to my surprise, given that he had sat next to me for three rounds, Abijah was unaware of the Double Colorless Energy in my deck until this point.
In game two, it was much of the same, except this time he started with two Froakie FLI. Nonetheless, two Jet Punch and one Guzma later the game was over with just about forty minutes remaining in the round.
I felt bad for Abijah, as he never had an opportunity to play a “real” game, and under different circumstances it could have been he that was able to double ID into cut. Per contra, I cannot feel too bad for him, as he still had an amazing season, placing second at Toronto regionals and top 32 at Worlds.
R6 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor (ID)
Once seated, my opponent offered the ID. I said I would consider it. Some events transpired, but in the end, I agreed to ID, as I figured I was safe even if I lost the next round.
R7 Greninja BREAK (ID) Matthew Campbell [US]
I was initially nervous after being downpaired to a 5-1-0 player. Fortunately, my opponent understood that an ID guaranteed him top eight given my win rate at 5-0-2. Smiles abounded, as both of the neighboring tables also ID’d.
Standings went up. I was second seed. I was elated. Though I knew I had a difficult matchup ahead—Banette-GX/Garbodor—I nonetheless believed I had a decent shot versus Magnus Pedersen’s deck. Connor Pedersen had played him in Swiss, and was willing to divulge Magnus’ techs, as Connor had a vested interest in avoiding the matchup. So, I knew he played Jirachi XY67, Wobbuffet PHF, Buzzwole FLI, Drampa-GX, and Parallel City.
Top 8 Banette-GX/Garbodor (0-2) Magnus Pedersen [DK]
In game one, I went first. I opened with two Professor Sycamore, two Guzma, two Fighting Energy, and an active Buzzwole FLI. I chose to use Professor Sycamore, but the blow of the discards was catastrophic. Off of the Professor Sycamore, I found a Brooklet Hill, a Diancie Prism, a Rockruff FLI, a Double Colorless Energy, a Float Stone, a Cynthia and an N. I opted to bench the Diancie Prism and Rockruff FLI, Brooklet Hill for Remoraid BKT, and attach the Double Colorless Energy to Rockruff FLI. On his turn, Magnus used Mysterious Treasure for Tapu Lele-GX, before using Wonder Tag, failing it, and using a Professor Sycamore from hand. It seemed to me he had realized that he prized his only Brigette too late and neglected to use Brooklet Hill to check for it. Regardless, he found two Trubbish BKP and a second Shuppet CES to complement the one he had started with.
On my next turn, I attached a Float Stone to Remoraid BKT and used Cynthia to find a Lycanroc-GX, a Strong Energy, and an Octillery. I evolved into Octillery, used Bloodthirsty Eyes to target one of his Trubbish BKP, and placed the Strong Energy onto my active Buzzwole FLI in order to take the knockout, forgetting to use Abyssal Hand for one. Magnus promoted Shuppet CES and immediately played N. Off of his six, he found a Float Stone but neither an energy nor a Banette-GX, so he retreated into Tapu Lele-GX and passed.
Off of my five, I found a Guzma and Fighting Energy and I utilized both to Claw Slash his remaining Trubbish BKP after using Abyssal Hand for one and using Brooklet Hill for Rockruff. Magnus appeared visibly shaken, but after topdecking an N, he looked relieved. He found a Rescue Stretcher for Trubbish BKP, a Banette-GX, a Rainbow Energy, and a Jirachi PRXY that he chose to use on my Lycanroc-GX.
I responded by using Ultra Ball to deploy my last Lycanroc-GX to Bloodthirsty Eyes his Tapu Lele-GX, attaching a Strong Energy to my active Lycanroc-GX, and utilizing Abyssal Hand to little effect. After I attacked with Dangerous Rogue, Magnus quickly promoted his Banette-GX, evolved his Trubbish BKP
into Garbodor BKP, and played an N. At the time, I believed he had two Tool cards remaining, assuming he prized none, but in reality he had one remaining. Nonetheless, off of his N he received a Psychic Energy for Banette-GX and a Choice Band for Garbodor BKP. Off of my two, I found two Beast Ring, and was forced to pass. From there, my control over the game vanished, and Magnus cleaned up six prizes in a matter of minutes.
Game two was largely a repetition of our prior game. I went first, opening with six out of seven cards from my hand in game one, dropping the second Professor Sycamore for a third Fighting Energy. I once again chose to use Professor Sycamore, but the blow of the discards was, once again, catastrophic. I do not remember much of the remainder of game two, as I had just lost my first game of the day, and after thirteen rounds I was fairly exhausted. I can tell you that it played out in a similar manner to game one, as I went ahead early only to be locked out by N plus Garbotoxin. I knew this would be a challenging matchup, but nevertheless, I took the loss hard.
I congratulate Magnus on the big win. He designed an innovative deck for the competition and played extremely well throughout our two games.
Overall, the deck preformed as I would have liked and I feel it was a strong call for the expected day two meta.
And I’m proud of my fifth place finish. I take some solace in thinking that if I had to lose, at least I lost to the eventual World Champion.
Finally, shoutouts: I’d like to thank Rahul Reddy for coaching; Israel Sosa for the list I used day two; Luca Michelucci, Rowan Stavenow, Abijah Jong, Raymond Long, and Zachary Cooper for a great season; and lastly, Christopher Schemanske for accepting this article. If I have forgotten anyone, my sincerest apologies.