Gas for the Fire

Thoughts on My Winning ReshiZard List, What to Change, and a Meta Counter (Zoroark/Slowking) for Madison
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ReshiZard ran hot for me in São Paulo, but it could use tweaks for Madison…

Hello 6P! I’m back for another article where we discuss all things Pokémon! You might’ve heard that I won the São Paulo Regional Championships with Reshiram & Charizard-GX! I’ll be honest and tell you I was ecstatic for that win. Not only has it been over a year and a half since I last won a Regional (Vancouver, Oct 2017), but I also did it in my own region!

In the past, I’ve been heavily criticized for being part of the Latin America rankings, rather than the North America ones. We live in a globalized society, and the game encourages travel and a global mindset, as evidenced by International Championships replacing National ones. I still see people arguing over whether events should be region-locked, and I find it ridiculous. Having said that, outside of Internationals, I had never participated in a Regional outside of Mexico, USA, or Canada, so I was excited for the challenge. Of course, I’ve played in the last three LAICs in São Paulo, and I spent some time living there back in 2014. I’m very familiar with the region and quality of the player base, and the Regional was also the highest attended compared to the other two that weekend, Sydney and Santa Clara.

The last three times I was in São Paulo, I only managed to get CP once with a measly Top 128 result at the second LAIC, so that had me a little nervous about going. I don’t like being superstitious and I understand how variance works. Nevertheless, the day before, I was really struggling to decide between playing Reshiram & Charizard-GX and Weezing. Thankfully I stuck with my gut and I was able to win the whole thing with a Jirachi-based build of ReshiZard.

Thoughts on ReshiZard, Post-Victory

Overall I was super happy with my list and my choice, as, outside of winning, the reliability of 4 Jirachi TEU and 4 Kiawe + 4 Welder was unparalleled. My deck performed the same thing over and over super reliably, especially in a Best-of-3 setting. This is 100% supported by the fact that I went 6-1 (13-4 in individual games) in the mirror match. I could tell people were overteching and using inconsistent ReshiZard decks, which made me look forward to facing off against what I felt were super favorable “mirror” matches.

The deck was also incredibly fast at either winning or losing, which meant I was done with many rounds within 20–30 minutes, and some went as quickly as 10 minutes for both games. This meant my only ties during the day were the 2 IDs I took, one to guarantee Day 2 in the 9th round, while the other was to guarantee Top 8.

What to Change

Just as Pikachu & Zekrom-GX worked out very nicely for me, it seems like the newest TAG TEAM on the block will end up being my deck of choice for the foreseeable future. As I am writing this, I am actually still unsure whether I am making it to Madison or not, as I am kind of burnt out from all the travel. My recent string of results is definitely motivating though, so we’ll see. However, I’ve been continuing to practice since my win, and have made a couple of changes to my ReshiZard list in order to accommodate the shift in the meta I expect, which will probably be

I found it hard to justify cutting much in my list, as it felt like I was making it less consistent and worse, but, in order of importance, I did feel like I needed at least one answer to Vileplume BUS (Stealthy Hood) and one answer to Water (Eevee & Snorlax-GX).

Aside on Turto

A lot of people have also questioned my inclusion of Turtonator, but I feel like that is because they haven’t played with the deck enough. The fact that Turtonator’s Explosive Jet attack doesn’t have a damage cap makes it a great follow-up to Reshiram & Charizard-GX in the mirror match, along with being extremely cost-efficient versus other TAG TEAMs. Heck, I’ve Kiawe’d onto a Turtonator on Turn 1 over a Reshiram & Charizard-GX, as it accomplished basically the same thing, threatening a OHKO the following turn.

Updated List

If Madison was tomorrow, this is what I’d have locked into my registration:

Pokémon (15)

3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX

1 Miltank CIN

1 Turtonator DRM

1 Volcanion UNB

4 Jirachi TEU

2 Marshadow SM85

1 Dedenne-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

Trainer (33)

4 Kiawe

4 Welder

3 Guzma

 

3 Acro Bike

3 Fire Crystal

3 Nest Ball

3 Ultra Ball

2 Switch

1 Escape Rope

2 Choice Band

2 Escape Board

1 Stealthy Hood

 

1 Heat Factory p

1 Viridian Forest

Energy (12)

12 Fire

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 15

* 3 Reshiram & Charizard-GX UNB 194
* 1 Eevee & Snorlax-GX TEU 171
* 1 Miltank CIN 78
* 1 Turtonator DRM 50
* 1 Volcanion UNB 25
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 2 Marshadow PR-SM 85
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Welder UNB 214
* 2 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Kiawe BUS 144
* 3 Fire Crystal UNB 231
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 163
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 3 Acro Bike CES 178
* 3 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 1 Stealthy Hood UNB 186

##Energy - 12

* 12 Fire Energy BUS 167

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73474 ******

The gameplay and plan of the deck doesn’t change at all; we simply have extra options to deal with the expected shift toward tougher-to-beat ReshiZards and Water-type decks. Even with Eevee & Snorlax-GX, the Quagsire/Naganadel matchup is as close to an autoloss as you’d expect, though double Let Loose could cause them to brick so you sneak in a win.

Even though Vileplume saw success this past weekend, I doubt it will continue into the next one. Not only is it easily countered by something like Stealthy Hood or a 1-1 Flareon-GX or Jolteon-GX line in their respective archetypes, but the bigger presence and results it puts up, the more people will test versus it and become great against it. This is true for a lot of Stall decks. They tend to do their best when they’re unexpected and people don’t tech or practice against them. However, I feel as though every single Fire- or Lightning-type deck to show up at Madison will be ready, and Vileplume-based decks, both Stall and Aggro, will simply fall short.

Meta Counter: Zoroark/Slowking

My second pick for Madison would be a sort of “counter meta” Zoroark-GX deck. With a 2-2 Slowking line and 1-1 Alolan Muk, you have the top two decks covered pretty well, in theory, as these deal with ReshiZard and ZapBeasts respectively. São Paulo and Sydney saw a big number of Zoroark-GX decks have success, but Santa Clara had barely any Zoroark-GX decks in Day 2. I’ve seen lists that feature up to five different Stage 1 lines, which is, in my opinion, way too much and inconsistent. I prefer a more straightforward list that is focused on beating the top two decks and maintaining consistency.

Pokémon (20)

4 Zorua SLG

4 Zoroark-GX

2 Slowpoke LOT

2 Slowking LOT

1 Seel UNB

1 Dewgong UNB

1 Alolan Grimer TEU

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Ditto p

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainer (32)

4 Lillie

3 Guzma

2 Acerola

2 Judge

1 Cynthia

1 Professor Kukui

 

4 Nest Ball

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Ultra Ball

1 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

3 Choice Band

 

1 Brooklet Hill

1 Devoured Field

Energy (8)

4 Double Colorless

4 Triple Acceleration

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 20

* 4 Zorua SLG 52
* 4 Zoroark-GX PR-SM 84
* 2 Slowpoke LOT 54
* 2 Slowking LOT 55
* 1 Seel UNB 44
* 1 Dewgong UNB 45
* 1 Alolan Grimer TEU 83
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Dedenne-GX UNB 195

##Trainer Cards - 32

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 1 Brooklet Hill GRI 120
* 2 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163
* 1 Devoured Field CIN 93
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 3 Guzma BUS 143
* 3 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Professor Kukui SUM 148
* 4 Pokémon Communication TEU 196
* 2 Judge LOT 209

##Energy - 8

* 4 Double Colorless Energy GRI 166
* 4 Triple Acceleration Energy UNB 234

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=73474 ******

With this list I’d feel extremely confident that I’d be walking into Madison with favorable matchups versus the top two decks from the previous round of SUM–UNB Regionals.

Card Choices

Pokémon

  • 4-4 Zoroark-GX gets us going at all points in the game, and is the best way to reliably get the deck to find the right cards at the right time.
  • 2-2 Slowking LOT is our best bet to deal with Reshiram & Charizard-GX in one hit, and keep that threat in check.
  • 1-1 Dewgong UNB means we have the potential to soften up or finish something on the Bench. It’s also useful in the mirror to snipe double Zorua or versus to snipe double Inkay.
  • Finally, 1-1 Alolan Muk SUM means we can delay those Zapdos decks and stop other Abilities like Jirachi TEU’s Stellar Wish, Ditto p’s Almighty Evolution, Tapu Koko p’s Dance of the Ancients, Miltank CIN, Marshadow SLG, etc.

Our own Ditto p means getting all of these out is more reliable, and Tapu Lele-GX and Dedenne-GX add to the consistency of the deck overall.

Trainers

The reliability of 4/4/4 Nest Ball, Ultra Ball, and Pokémon Communication has become the standard for Zoroark-GX decks. 4 Lillie round us out in trying to have explosive Turn 1s where we fill up our Bench and are able to keep momentum going into the second turn with multiple Zoroarks and a lot of resources.

3 Guzma allow to make sure Slowking and Zoroark-GX are being used as efficiently as possible, while 2 Judge help in ensuring that after we get a big KO, our opponent’s chances of responding are low. The 2 Acerola are necessary to make sure that Zapdos decks can’t hit the finish line against us, while Cynthia is overall decent draw and the Professor Kukui can help us hit key numbers along with the Devoured Field.

Three ways to counter Power Plant (2 Stadiums + Field Blower) has been enough in this meta as no deck is committing to 4 Power Plant, so anything above that is unnecessary.

Mallow is the card that I’ve been finding myself wanting more and more and I believe 1 Pokémon Communication could be the card to replace. However, as of writing this, all the games I’ve played have been with without it.

Energy

Triple Acceleration Energy is a blessing for Zoroark-GX, and gives you so many more outs to attacking. I can’t count the number of times I used Zoroark-GX in the past and fell behind because I couldn’t find an Energy to start attacking or follow up.

Matchup Spread

The format is wide open, and I feel like you have to accept some bad matchups when picking a deck, as nothing can beat everything out there. This decks fits that bill in that it has has an extremely solid matchup against the top two decks—including all versions of ReshiZard up until now and ZapBeasts—but might be a bit iffy against others.

ReshiZard: Favorable

You have to power through the Eevee & Snorlax-GX if they’re using it, but it’s not impossible and Tapu Lele-GX is a very decent attacker against it to set up the 2HKO without risking a Zoroark-GX, while also forcing them to GX. than that, Slowking is your best friend and the mere presence of it might force them to Kiawe only 2 Energy onto a ReshiZard, or split their Energy until they’re ready to go all out.

The 2-2 Slowking line + 4 Triple Acceleration + Ditto p + 3 Choice Band should be enough to carry you through this matchup most of the time.

ZapBeasts: Favorable

Zoroark’s high HP and plus Alolan Muk plus Acerola is the way to go, and the extra reliability of Triple Acceleration Energy means you’re almost never going to miss a beat, with the pressure starting on Turn 2. As long as you manage to stabilize and not give up too many Prizes before the Sledgehammer turn, this one should be good for you. The more dedicated Zapdos/Fighting decks might be a bit trickier but not impossible as Alolan Muk puts in work against these decks.

PikaRom: Unfavorable

Even with Bench Barrier Mew, I don’t think this is close to even. Zoroark-GX needed a Fighting-type partner before to be able to deal with this deck’s raw strength, but now with the focus being on countering ReshiZard, it’s just not viable to include one. With that, we have no way to deal with a in one hit, while one alone can overpower 1 or even 2 Zoroarks. This is a bad matchup I’d be willing to accept going into Madison, since the deck feels underwhelming when compared to ReshiZard and ZapBeasts.

Weezing: Favorable

No matter if they have Larvitar LOT 115 or not, as long as you are able to evolve most of your Pokémon on your second turn, you should have no trouble finishing off this deck. Its damage output isn’t quite there and it relies on preying on Basic-based decks, which this isn’t. Psychic Resistance, extra reliable attacks with Triple Acceleration Energy, and 2 Acerola make it hard for this deck to keep up.

QuagNag: Even

This matchup is weird in the sense that they can easily respond to your attacks, but so can you, and usually you will gain an early advantage on them. Onix LOT and Quagsire UNB are the big enemies here, and Alolan Muk is great to stop their Oranguru and try and make them whiff attacks. A 2nd Field Blower would help in pressuring their Wishful Batons the whole game, but using Slowking is a good idea as it can OHKO their attackers while being a non-GX. An early Dewgong can also wreak havoc on their Bench, especially if you’re able to promote something like their Oranguru while using Dual Blizzard.

Stall Decks (Hoopa/Regigigas/Lucario & Melmetal-GX): Unfavorable

Stall decks have always boasted a good matchup versus Zoroark-GX decks, and even if we had Oranguru, I don’t think the deck would be able to cope. Zoroark relies on early pressure + Judge to do the trick, but not having a way to OHKO Regigigas anymore means they can effectively wall Zoroark-GX for a while, while removing all of our Energy in the process. This is why I didn’t even bother putting Oranguru in here, though I guess Oranguru might help you turn this loss into a tie somehow.

Shedinja Decks: Even

These are super weird decks that I don’t think will be a big part of the meta, but they did make Top 8 in Santa Clara, so it is worth practicing against them. Early pressure plus Field Blower is your best friend, and if this is actually something you’re worried about, a 2nd Field Blower would be a huge addition. It would become essentially an autowin if you decided to include Oranguru UPR as well.


That should cover the main spread of decks to expect at Madison this weekend. It would be hard for me to justify using a deck other than the one that so dominantly won a Regional for me just two weeks ago, but the Zoroark-GX deck is what I have sleeved and practiced with a bunch, just in case.

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading! If I do end up going to Madison, I hope I get to see some of our readers there, and if not, I hope you enjoy the last North American Regional from home as we start gearing up for the NAIC in Columbus. Until next time!


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