Hey there everyone, I am very excited to be bringing you my first article in the new rotation of the Pokémon Trading Card Game! I have been putting in a lot of testing, and I am very optimistic going into this new season. I feel as if my optimism has inspired the ideology behind the lists I have tested. Whenever rotation happens, it is easy to focus on the negatives. We lose those cards that seemed to always have our backs when we needed them the most—like going turn one Brigette for all of your Basic Pokémon. However, when cards like Brigette are no longer available as the clear best turn one option, it opens the door for alternative approaches.
Today, I am going to talk a bit about one of those alternatives that I believe is to be best fit for our current format. I call it the “Turn Two Meta.” Then I will talk about the deck that I have put a lot of time into and feel as if it plays very well into the Turn Two Meta concept. So let’s get right into it.
Turn 2 Meta
In our previous format, Brigette was the obvious answer as the best opening Supporter to play most decks—spare Buzzwole decks—due to its overall reliability. Being able to consistently get out three Basic Pokémon on your first turn was just an offer we couldn’t refuse. However, Brigette still had its limitations. The normal turn went something like Ultra Ball for Tapu Lele-GX, Wonder Tag for Brigette, and pass after using Brigette. This would leave us with only 4 cards in our hand assuming that we didn’t play any other basic Pokémon/Stadium/or Energy. Often, going for a turn 1 Brigette meant trusting the entire course of your turn 2 on the random 6 cards that a turn 2 Cynthia would provide.
In this meta, we find ourselves in a slightly different situation. Instead of using Ultra Ball for Tapu Lele-GX in these opening turns, I find myself grabbing the Basic Pokémon I need and using my draw supporter—whether it be a Cynthia or Lillie or whatever—to further advance my board state with things like more Basic Pokémon or Energy attachments. Since I am playing a draw Supporter in my opening turn, I am given a whole extra hand’s worth of cards to use that I normally would not get to use when going with the old Brigette meta.
This means that I am more likely to find my Zoroark-GXs even though I have less Zorua in play, or I am more likely to find the turn one energy attachment for decks that need it, or I am more likely to find the turn two Rare Candy I need to evolve my Grubbin into a Vikavolt. When we look at the game in this way, it becomes clear to me why decks like Vikavolt/Rayquaza-GX and Zoroark/Lycanroc-GX are so successful. They are both decks that really do not need an extreme amount of Basics down in the 1st turn of the game, but very greatly benefit by having the additional cards to work with.
In summary, the goal of this format is to heavily play toward your turn 2 board state. Doing so will allow you to still take KOs and apply the pressure you need even though your board is not flooded with Basics from a turn 1 Brigette. Now that we are looking at our format in this way, we will be able to more effectively build our list to adapt to this environment and formulate a game plan in mind while in game. With that, let’s dive right into a deck that greatly benefits from the almost guaranteed energy attachment that the Turn 2 Meta provides—Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX.
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 34
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 8
So it may not be apparent, but this deck is heavily prioritizing taking consistent 1HKOs throughout the game. I’ll get into this more later in the Counts and Matchup sections. Some may consider this list to be pretty teched out, but I think that Zoroark in this meta can afford to be. Before we often needed to very heavily prioritize draw Supporter counts in our list so that we could get our relatively dead hand after we Ultra Ball for Brigette on turn 1.
Now, however, we do not need to be as worried about this since we are dedicating our turn 1 Supporter to a draw Supporter for the majority of the games. That in combination with each Zoroark-GX or Timer Ball you draw being an out gives you a much easier time in not dead drawing on this turn. So this means we can fill out the rest of the deck with different tech cards that help out different matchups. With a few games of testing this exact 60, you’ll quickly see what I mean by this as your turn 2 beginning hand is normally always much better than the previous format’s ZoroRoc turn 2 hand. Ok, now let’s talk about how we are going to use these counts.
This is what really ties the whole deck together to be extremely powerful. Almost everything in the meta is 1HKOable by a few Flying Flips, a Choice Band, and a Kukui. Things like Tapu Lele-GX and Rayquaza-GX are very easily KOable by this. And if you are able to get 2-3 Flying Flips off, then even Zoroark-GX or Golisopod-GX can get 1HKOed by your Zoroark-GX.
Tapu Koko also is great as an opener given its free retreat and ease to use in the super early game with the right hand. Sometimes your opponent won’t have an out to stop you from getting 2 Flying Flips on their full-bench board before anyone takes a single Prize. From there, the game becomes much simpler in hitting the cards you need. Tapu Koko can also be a great clean up tool that sets you up for another KO on the following turn.
This count may seem low but as we talked about earlier, we do not need them as much as we used to due to the fact that our turn 1 Supporter is a draw Supporter instead of a set up Supporter. Also, going pretty low in Tapu Lele-GX counts in favor of Supporter counts allows you to free up bench space, which is very important in a Zoroark-GX deck. This is simply the most optimal thing to cut in favor of more techs.
In contrast to the cut to 2 Tapu Lele-GX, we have a highly consistent Pokémon search engine. With the 4-4-3 line of balls, we are able to reliably search out the Basics and Evolutions we need to get our Zoroark-GXs going and get us the cards we need for the situation. Prioritizing Trade over our draw Supporters is how we stay consistent in this format while still being able to keep pace in 1HKOs. This is to very much take advantage of the hand size advantage we find ourselves in on our 2nd turns this format as compared to last format.
1 Dedenne (Buzzwole/ Diancie)
Dedenne plays super well into the theme of this deck as we are able to very easily use it with our heavy counts of Tapu Koko. With all of the hype Rayquaza-GX/Vikavolt is getting, this card can very heavily swing the matchup into your favor. Also remember that against Ultra Necrozma, a Dedenne with a Choice Band and Kukui can 1HKO. These neat tricks can often be the deciding factor on if you win or lose a game.
I also want to take a moment to talk about Buzzwole and Diancie p. In this meta, I feel as if Buzzwole lacks the tools it needs to be useful in today’s meta. In previous formats we had Float Stone which allowed us to easily use Buzzwole in the early turns, however, now this no longer an option—making Buzzwole much less useful. That’s not even to mention that you are wasting an Energy attachment on a Pokémon that can be easily Guzma’d around and then becomes no longer effective.
Judge is in the deck as an important counter to Metagross-GX and Rayquaza-GX. You need it for the turn they Tempest-GX or Algorithm-GX. Otherwise, games can get out of hand with how easily they are able to set up.
This card is essential in the Zoroark Matchups. The thing is that, in this format, we no longer have Float Stone, which, in turn, means that we no longer get free pivots once a Pokémon gets Knocked Out. Enhanced Hammer essentially makes it to where your opponent will constantly need to find the Energy attachment they need and a way to move their Pokémon out of the Active. A Zoroark deck with Enhanced hammer in their list versus one without Enhanced hammer is in the clear advantage in my opinion. It also provides additional utility in getting rid of Beast Energy or Rainbow Energies in fringe matchups.
I have found the 1 Lillie and 1 Apricorn Maker to be effective in providing me the necessary t1 situational outs that I need. With 1 of each, you can look at your opening hand and analyze the situation on if you need to use Tapu Lele-GX to search out either of these cards. It just makes it to where you always have a gameplan with this many options.
Mirror Match 55-45
I think the approach this ZoroRoc list is taking gives it a definite advantage in the Mirror. You are fulling teched out with the 2 Enhanced Hammer, 3 Guzma, 1 Pal Pad, and 1 Acerola to help the matchup already. On top of that you have 2 Tapu Koko that you can weave in between Acerolas and KOs to set up easy KOs on opposing Zoroark-GX or Lycanroc-GX. Not to mention: each Flying Flip sets up a Tapu Lele-GX for a 1HKO with a full bench/Choice Band Riotous Beating. Just consistently set up and look for 2 prize 1HKOs on the board while powering up a Lycanroc-GX to sweep. Normally the play was to keep their fighting energy and/or Rockruff off the board. But with this Strategy, Lycanrocs become much less scary now that we can continuously 1HKO them with more than a Dangerous Rogue GX.
This is a very skill based matchup. Your opponent has Golisopod-GX which has the ease of one shotting Lycanroc-GX with a single energy. You, however, can one shot their Zoroark-GX with two energy on a Lycanroc-GX, and one shot a Golisopod once with Dangerous Rogue GX. Just keep applying pressure while setting up a Lycanroc-GX. Multi Switch is a great card in this matchup because they have a hard time KOing a Zoroark-GX which you can Multi Switch from to get a Lycanroc-GX going in one turn.
You can also do cute plays to likely get two Flying Flips off. You Guzma/ Lycanroc their Golisopod with a single energy and flying flip. Often they either have to waste their GX attack on your first Tapu Koko and waste their attachment or have to put themselves in an awkward situation by Guzmaing out of it. Then you would get to Flying Flip again since they did not kill your Tapu Koko.
This matchup is very favored given the general strategy of our version of ZoroRoc along with the Dedenne tech. We can so easily KO Rayquaza-GX with a single Flying Flip into Choice Band/Devoured Field/Riotous Beating. Then we can follow up that turn with a Mallow into Dedenne/Choice Band. Finally, end the game with a Dangerous Rogue GX. Excluding very bad draws, this matchup should be free every time.
Buzzwole Forbidden Shrine.dec 45/55
In my testing, it seems like Lycanroc-GX/Zoroark-GX has a bit of trouble against this deck but can still win. Between your utter control of what you kill in the active position and Acerola/Enhanced Hammers, you can generally just outlast the deck. Kill their draw Pokémon first (Magcargo/Oranguru) so they have a very hard time hitting the cards they need. Then you can do clever plays like skipping Sledgehammer turn with a double KO with Flying Flip. Between Tapu Koko, Devoured Field, and Kukui, you should never miss a KO. This applies a ton of pressure to the deck even if you both do draw decently well.
If you see a Weavile, just outplay the damage by having board states with very little GX in play by not evolving Lycanroc-GX or extra Zoroark-GX. Save your Devoured Field when you can to counter the Shrine of Punishment.
Things with Hoopa 100/0???
I have played this matchup a handful of times. Each time I end up winning the same way: I literally just Flying Flip 6 times. Hoopa.dec cannot one-shot your Tapu Koko. So between 4 DCE, 2 Tapu Koko, Rescue Stretcher, Acerola, Pal Pad, and Enhanced Hammer, it is quite easy to get a Tapu Koko active for 6 turns. Make sure to try to stall their attacks like going Lycanroc-GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes up an Oranguru and then Enhanced Hammer the energy in play. The matchup should be very easy.
In review of the matchups, it seems that ZoroRoc is well positioned in the current meta and is definitely one of my top choices going into Philadelphia Regionals. I like that the deck has a very solid game plan against every deck in the format.
Well that is all I have for you today, guys! I hope I could inspire some of you to pick the deck up and have helped direct others toward the right path on how decks should be designed. I just wanted to update you guys on how Worlds went. I ended up playing ZoroControl with no Magcargo. During Day 1, I went 5-3, losing my win and in to Day 2. My 3 losses were all BuzzRoc and I knew I lost to the deck because I cut Weakness Policy the night before in favor of other techs. This was definitely a mistake on my part as they would have been extremely useful in my 3 losses. The next day, however, I put the Weakness Policy back in and went 6-1-1 to a 19th place finish at the Nashville Open. So overall, it was a successful weekend.
I think that this new meta is very interesting and I am ecstatic to see what people are able to come up with for Philly. I am going to be there so be sure to say hi! Alright guys, well until next time, good luck at Philadelphia Regionals and good luck at your future tournaments.
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