The Top of the Times

Looks at Zoroark/Golisopod, Zoroark/Lycanroc, Buzzwole/Shrine, and Empoleon/Swampert for Memphis Standard

Hello SixPrizes readers! I am back with another article on the standard format, and have quite an update on the state of the format from my last article. Philadelphia has come and gone, and the format is really starting to shape up and become understood. Philadelphia was the first Regional Championships of the year, so I wanted to play something consistent and I tend to prefer to decks that have close matchups against everything, as opposed to really polarizing matchups. This left me looking no further than trusty Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, which I did end up playing. However, the list went through quite the set of changes before the tournament, so at least it was a bit of a spicier deck choice.

I had a lot of fun at the first major event of the year, and picked up a whopping eighty points with my ninth place bubble. While I am pretty disappointed with the result, I am glad that I got a decent start on earning a stipend to the EUIC. With that being said, I will be going over Zororoc today, along with Buzzwole/Garbodor, Zoroark-GX/Golsiopod-GX, and Empoleon. Yes, that is correct, Empoleon. Without further ado, lets kick things off with a look at the Zoroark deck I played in Philadelphia.

Looking Back at Philadelphia

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX

Pokémon – 19

4 Zoroark-GX

4 Zorua SLG

3 Lycanroc-GX GRI

4 Rockruff FLI

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Diancie p

1 Tapu Koko SM31

Trainers – 33

4 Judge

2 Lillie

2 Professor Kukui

2 Guzma

1 Cynthia

1 Acerola

1 Mallow

 

4 Great Ball

4 Nest Ball

4 Ultra Ball

3 Choice Band

1 Multi Switch

1 Pal Pad

 

3 Devoured Field

Energy – 8

4 Double Colorless

4 F

Card Choices

4 Rockruff, 3 Lycanroc-GX

This thicker Lycanroc line is something I have really liked in Zororoc. It makes the deck noticeably more consistent and lets the deck be as aggressive as possible. You always want at least one Rockruff on the field turn one, preferably with an energy attachment. With four Rockruff and so many ball cards, getting basics in play usually isn’t a problem. Three Lycanrocs are actually used in some games due to the low Guzma count and lack of hand disruption options, so that isn’t something I would overlook either.

Diancie p

This card was a last minute addition to the list, but I sure am glad the card made its way into the deck. Diancie seemed unnecessary before I actually gave it a try, but including it in the list paid off in a bunch of different situations at Philadelphia Regionals. Diancie allows you to Claw Slash most Pokémon with ease, which allows you to use Supporter other than Professor Kukui. Diancie also makes it even easier to take a crucial KO with Dangerous Rogue-GX, as you now have three different damage modifiers at your fingertips.

Tapu Koko

This was likely the card I disliked the most in the list. It is an amazing starter, mostly due to its free retreat and high HP. Having this as a Bench-sitter is also nice for Guzma purposes, which did matter a few times. Flying Flip is not something I took advantage of over the weekend, as I just never had it when it seemed like a good idea. I would contribute this to Flying Flip being very situational, not because of a lack of availability. Tapu Koko was originally in the deck because of Flying Flip and it being a good starter, but stayed in the deck because of Dedenne. When we removed Dedenne, we thought about removing the Tapu Koko with it, but thought we would squeeze more value out of it than we did.

4 Judge, 2 Lillie, 1 Cynthia

Yes, this is a pretty crazy supporter line. Admittedly, it was not once I expected to play either. The four Judge was thought of Friday night, and seemed pretty good in the few games it was tested, so I went with it. The theory behind it is that Zoroark is a consistent deck with a linear gameplan, so you can win a lot of games by just being really aggressive and disrupting the opponent. The judge are especially strong against cards like Rayquaza-GX and Alolan Vulpix, which saw a fair share of play. I was a big fan of the hand disruption over the weekend, but I think I would remove a Judge in favor of a Marshadow, just to have some more flexibility.

The two Lillies were included because of how powerful they are on turn one, and you can often get your hand low enough for it to be real draw power at some point in the game. The Cynthia was included because the deck needs a shuffle draw supporter that doesn’t shuffle the opponent’s hand in. Obviously, shuffling your opponent’s hand in is not something you always want to do. Additionally, you can not always dump your hand low enough for Lillie to be effective. Having the different supporter options was great, and made operating the deck a whole lot smoother.

4 Great Ball, 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Nest Ball

This was all new levels of consistent, even in comparison to my previous lists that played three or four Timer Ball instead of the four Great Ball. The Great Balls are a nice inclusion because they help find basics on turn one and help thin your hand for Lillie, while Timer Ball can really clog up your opening hand and slow things down a bit. Timer Ball also requires the use of a coin to get anything out of it, and while it does have the upside of getting two Pokémon, you can also end up with nothing. That being said, I feel like a lot of the time that I was using Timer Ball, I really only needed one heads.

The Great Ball gets you a Pokémon a large portion of the time, and usually it’s a useful one. Later in the game Great Ball is a great way to thin your deck, as it can grab a Pokémon and stop you from drawing it off of Trade. Timer Ball can do this sometimes too, but your usually running pretty low on evolution Pokémon left in deck. The four Ultra Ball and four Nest Ball is definitely nothing special, pretty much the staple lineup in a few decks. This heavy ball count made getting basics in play a piece of cake, and allowed for some very smooth starts.

Pal Pad

This card is a fantastic inclusion for the late game, and I have been a big fan of all the options it brings to the table. A lot of supporters in this deck are useful for closing the game, such as Guzma or Professor Kukui. These cards are also played in low counts, but Pal Pad makes up for that by being a great supporter recovery card. Pal Pad is great for resource management, and really helps navigate some of the trickier situations you might run into. Pal Pad allowing for the reuse of Acerola has been great against spread decks, and can make all the difference against Shrine of Punishment decks sometimes.

Potential Inclusions

Marshadow

This should probably just replace a Judge. It was something we considered the morning off in the final moments before deck submission, but ultimately decided against. It is not something I have ever tried, but at the end of the day it is a Judge that is easier to access and squeeze into your turn. It does take up a bench spot, but that will rarely be a problem. The true downside to the card is that it is a pretty terrible starter. When going first, having any Pokémon that is not Tapu Koko, Rockruff, or Zorua is a real pain to deal with. The only way to use a real attack on turn two is to either use Guzma or manually retreat. Manually retreating is pretty unrealistic as that means you aren’t really working to setup a Lycanroc-GX, which is generally the key to winning.

Guzma is not a bad solution at all, but you don’t always have the necessary cards to pull off a Guzma play on turn two. Going second, starting the Marshadow isn’t as bad because they do have the potential to simply KO it before it matters, which essentially just turns it into a shield. However, that really isn’t that likely of a situation. Your opponent can simply Guzma around it, which leaves you with a Bench-sitter in play that didn’t do anything for you. Additionally, not all decks attack turn two, which would result in the Marshadow just being in the way again. The inclusion of Marshadow does make me want to keep Tapu Koko around though, because I don’t want to add a bad starter and remove a great one in one go.

Weakness Policy

This is a card that I played with quite a bit before Philadelphia Regionals, and it certainly wasn’t bad. It didn’t always seem to make a difference though, as you can’t always put a policy on every Zoroark-GX and other times the opponent would still win even if they had to 2HKO the Zoroark-GX. The Weakness Policy also seems somewhat decent in the Zororoc mirror, but I don’t think it plays as big of a role as one might think. That matchup feels a lot like whoever takes over the game with a Lycanroc-GX will just win, regardless of the inclusion of Weakness Policy in either player’s deck. I would say that Weakness Policy took a huge hit in Philadelphia though, as Caleb’s winning list had a Field Blower in it.

Field Blower was a great call for the weekend and I would have played it in baby Buzzwole too, so I somewhat expected that other players would too. Moving forward, this makes Weakness Policy and other tech tools a lot worse because they can just get knocked off by Field Blower and not make even a slight difference in the game. Magcargo makes finding the Field Blower incredibly easy, so the player just needs to go grab it when they find a good turn to use it.

Dedenne/Tapu Lele

The deck doesn’t really feel desperate for a Rayquaza counter, as it already has a great chance against Vikavolt with the current list. Judge makes it pretty difficult for the opponent to setup and find everything they need, so you can capitalize on that and start to take prizes. You still have 1HKO potential with the Professor Kukui and Devoured Field combination, granted that does need to be done with a Pokémon-GX and requires more cards. The Rayquaza counter might be more necessary if I expected to play against a lot of them, but I honestly don’t. I think people are starting to realize that Shrine of Punishments and Garbodor are hard to deal with, and that their are more consistent decks out there. At Philadelphia, I expected Rayquaza to be pretty popular, but do perform poorly because it has bad matchups. I would say this was pretty accurate, and I only played against one Rayquaza deck the entire tournament. These cards do also put in work against Ultra Necrozma-GX and serve another purpose occasionally, but neither of those things are very common and don’t warrant a card’s place in a deck.

Baby Buzzwole/Shrine of Punishment

This is a look at Caleb’s winning list from Philadelphia. It was a strong choice for the event and I’d play something really close to it if I were to play it at an event in the future. I played this exact sixty at a League Challenge this week and the deck felt strong, it had a lot of options available. Anyway, congrats to Caleb and let’s take a look at the list.

Pokémon – 17

4 Buzzwole FLI

2 Garbodor GRI

3 Trubbish GRI

2 Magcargo CES

2 Slugma CES

1 Weavile UPR

1 Sneasel UPR

1 Diancie p

1 Oranguru SUM

Trainers – 34

4 Lillie

4 Guzma

2 Cynthia

2 Professor Kukui

1 Judge

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Nest Ball

3 Acro Bike

3 Choice Band

2 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch

1 Field Blower

 

3 Shrine of Punishment

Energy – 9

4 Rainbow

2 F

1 Beast p

1 Unit FDY

1 Counter

Card Choices

1-1 Weavile

This was a very smart inclusion and I have been liking it in my games so far. The deck is just an aggressive toolbox that aims to take 6 Prizes in whatever way possible, and having the Weavile option makes it even harder for your opponent’s to navigate the matchup and stop you from taking prizes. Weavile is especially strong against Ability reliant decks like Psychic Malamar, which is otherwise one of the scarier matchups.

4 Lillie, 2 Cynthia, 1 Judge

This is simply the correct Supporter line for the deck, it just makes a lot of sense. When playing a Cynthia mid game, you are often only in need of one crucial card, which Lillie can guarantee when Magcargo is in play. Early game, Lillie is usually better, at least on turn one, and having four copies makes it a lot easier to find. The Judge is great as a single copy because it is just another thing that you can grab with Magcargo to impact the game with. Judge can be used in crucial spots, such as after your opponent uses Tempest-GX or Algorithm-GX. Without Judge, those spots are a lot harder to manage, but Judge changes everything, even as a singleton copy.

Field Blower

I talked about this a little earlier in the article in reference to Weakness Policy, but I wanted to touch on it here again. I think it was a great tech for Philadelphia, a tad ahead of the curve even, and will remain a solid inclusion moving forward. It has a few different uses, some of them more important than others. Most importantly, Field Blower is the perfect answer to Weakness Policy, it makes it borderline worthless to play honestly. Field Blower is also great for getting items in the discard for Trashlanche, which can mean the difference between taking the KO or not. Counter Stadiums are also pretty popular right now, and while none of them really hurt this deck, Field Blower can be used to remove their stadium on a turn where you don’t have or don’t want to play shrine down.

1 Unit Energy, 1 Counter Energy

The Unit Energy is a no brainer because of the Weavile tech, I have been a fan of it thus far. Counter Energy I am not sold on whatsoever, I am not a fan of situational cards that rarely change the actual outcome of a game. Counter Energy really only seems to be a worthwhile inclusion because it lets you Swing Around, otherwise Unit Energy seems like it would be a better inclusion. This deck is usually not trailing on prizes, which is really what makes me so iffy on the Counter Energy. It feels more fancy than practical, and while I might be wrong, this is a card that I will have my eye on in future testing.

Potential Inclusions

2nd Sneasel

This inclusion is to further your chances against Malamar decks. I say Malamar decks because Weavile is obviously used to counter ability reliant decks, and Malamar is really the only one you would otherwise struggle with. Having two Sneasel makes it so you can setup back to back Weaviles, which will result in back to back KOs in the right matchup. You can technically setup three Weaviles in a row, but that requires a bit of luck and is more of a bonus. Having the extra basic is both good and bad. It is good because you do want to setup multiple attackers as soon as possible and makes your board really strong. On the other side of the coin, having the extra basic is a bad thing because it makes it harder to start baby Buzzwole, which is the optimal starter. With only one copy of Switch in the deck, this is issue is slightly magnified. Overall, I would say the second Sneasel is likely worth it because of the Malamar hype.

4th Acro Bike

The issue with this inclusion is how tight the decklist is, and that reason is almost certainly the only reason why it isn’t already in the list. If you find yourself struggling to setup consistently, which I have been somewhat, I reccomend adding the fourth copy of Acro Bike. It makes getting Magcargo out on turn two a whole lot more relevant, and can let you play a supporter right away. It is also further reach in the early game, which is nice for finding energy and Guzma.

Looking Ahead to Memphis

Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX

Zoropod is another deck that seems to have a shot against everything, which is why I want to give it a try. I was a big fan of the deck last year, but actually haven’t played much Zoropod in the new standard format. I was thinking about decks that could handle shrine decks, Malamar, and Zororoc and Zoropod seemed like it might be able to do that. This is the list I built and plan to try when I get a chance.

Pokémon – 18

4 Zoroark-GX

4 Zorua SLG

2 Golisopod-GX

4 Wimpod BUS

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Tapu Koko SM31

1 Dedenne FLI

Trainers – 5

2 Lillie

2 Cynthia

1 Judge

2 Acerola

2 Professor Kukui

3 Guzma

 

4 Great Ball

4 Nest Ball

4 Ultra Ball

1 Field Blower

3 Choice Band

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Pal Pad

1 Weakness Policy

1 Enhanced Hammer

 

3 Devoured Field

Energy – 7

4 Double Colorless

3 G

Card Choices

4 Wimpod

I hope that I have stressed how important getting basic Pokémon in play on turn one is in the new format, and if I haven’t already convinced you, I will give it another try now. Getting multiple Zoruas and at least one Wimpod in play is the ideal turn one. This gives you the most options for turn two, which is also another important turn. Playing four Wimpod makes starting one of these crucial basics more likely, which makes setting up even smoother. Simply drawing into a Wimpod is really nice because than you can use your search cards to find Zoruas and get setup. Having four of these is nice because it is a great starter due to its free retreat, and can be accessed via Great Ball more often.

Weakness Policy

I am not sure about this tech because of the potential popularity of Field Blower, which makes this tech feel a whole lot worse. This is likely the first card I would remove from the deck if a different card seemed like it should be in the deck. If Field Blower isn’t played moving forward, than I like the sound of this inclusion.It would do wonders against the ever so popular Fighting Pokémon, Lycanroc-GX and Buzzwole.

Enhanced Hammer

This is a card that I keep wanting to put in every deck honestly. Well not literally every deck, but decks that can access it easily, such as Zoroark and Magcargo. I keep thinking one or two Enhanced Hammer could be good in Zoroark decks, and that a tech Enhanced Hammer might even be strong in the Buzzwole/Garbodor deck because of the Magcargo. Special Energy is decently popular at the moment, and no one is playing Enhanced Hammer right now, which also means most people aren’t playing around it either. I think about moments where you can KO an active Buzzwole and Enhanced Hammer off of a benched attacker such as Garbodor. This seems good and bad at the same time. I set them back an energy attachment which can matter if their draws are awkward. I do remove a Rainbow Energy from play in this situation, which can make a difference if their running very low. However, sometimes I think that them finding a new one isn’t that big of a deal and won’t really effect them. Additionally, Enhanced Hammer is in fact an item card, which I usually want to avoid playing against Garbodor decks. I only have one in the list right now because of space issues and a lack of confidence in the card. If I play games with the deck and it seems impressive, I will almost certainly be trying a list with 2-3 of these in it and see how they impact my matches.

Potential Inclusions

Magcargo or Mallow

I lumped these together because Zoroark decks really only have room for one. Magcargo honestly seems like the better option for this deck, which is weird because I think the opposite when it comes to Zororoc. I think it is mostly because Lycanroc can be used instead of Guzma, which makes playing Mallow fine most of the time. However, even in that deck, I should probably give Magcargo a try. I plan to try Magcargo in both versions of Zoroark and see where I stand. That will allow me to decide which one of these would enter the deck first and might even result in some minor changes to Zororoc.

Empoleon/Swampert

This is a deck I haven’t tested and built hours before writing this article, so I won’t go to into detail on it. The story behind me giving this deck a try is that I lost to it at a League Challenge and that put the deck into my head. It seems decently positioned in the meta, and I wanted to build a really consistent list for the deck and see how it would fair against the meta. This is what I built when I took a look at the deck earlier, and this is the sixty I will start with when I give the deck a try in actual game play. I am worried about its matchups against things like Zoroark-GX and Vikavolt so I think I will start with those matchups first. Shrine decks seem like a great matchup for our penguin friend, as Empoleon is a very efficient non-GX attacker with high HP. Anyway, look out for an Empoleon update in my next article. I don’t have a ton of confidence in the deck, but I like to leave no stone unturned.

Pokémon – 17

4 Empoleon UPR

1 Prinplup UPR

4 Piplup UPR 32

2 Swampert CES

1 Marshtomp CES

4 Mudkip CES 33

1 Alolan Vulpix GRI

Trainers – 34

4 Lillie

4 Cynthia

3 Guzma

 

4 Ultra Ball

4 Nest Ball

3 Great Ball

4 Rare Candy

2 Aqua Patch

2 Choice Band

1 Rescue Stretcher

 

3 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 9

4 W

4 Counter

1 Super Boost p


That is all for this article folks! I am glad that I got to squeeze a fun deck into my competitive article, with it being a deck that I genuinely believe is worth my attention. I hope that my look at the tried and true decks provided some insight as to why they are so strong, and why Zoropod is well positioned at the moment. I will be attending all the League Challenges and League Cups in the Orlando area in an attempt to work toward a stipend and top sixteen at the end of the year. In terms of big events, my next big one is Memphis Regionals, which I will follow up with Portland Regionals just a few weeks after. I am excited to try the new Expanded format, it feels wide open and fresh, so I have some pretty high hopes for it.

In previous years, I have always favored the Standard format to some degree, and I think that Portland has potential to at least temporarily change my opinion. While I don’t hate the Standard format, it folds in comparison to previous years. The loss of N really hurts, even if N had been legal for a very long time. Anyway, I will be trying my best to crack the standard format before Memphis, as I think a lot of people are likely trying to do. If you’ll be at Memphis, feel free to come up and say hi! Otherwise, I will be back with another article next month.


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