Professor Sycamore, Meet Vikavolt — a Traditional Take on Tapu Bulu-GX
Most Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX decks are not playing Professor Sycamore. Check out Caleb Gedemer's personal list and find out why you should be playing Professor Sycamore, and much more!
10/31/2017 by Caleb Gedemer
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Crimson Invasion comes out in under a week, and everyone is hurrying to pick up new cards to fit into preexisting archetypes. One deck that doesn’t need fixing or new additions is Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX. While Venusaur from Shining Legends may make a solid inclusion as I’ve mentioned in my past articles, I’ve found it’s something that isn’t needed, and is more of a luxury. Before I get any further, I’d like to address one of the biggest issues I’ve had with Vikavolt lists over the past six months or so: a lack of a full set of Professor Sycamore. The defense of this obvious inclusion has been rather anecdotal, and I am not convinced.
The most often used selling point for the low count of Professor Sycamore is that this deck “doesn’t need anything but Vikavolt out in the late game”. This is glaringly false, as I for one would love to have a Grass Energy or two that I’ll need to attack with! Nature’s Judgement is the most important thing about this archetype, and the frequency at which you’re able to use it determines a pilot’s success. Without having another Grass Energy for your next turn to set off another attack, you’ll be stuck with a Tapu Bulu-GX with just two of the three energy it needs to go off.
Professor Sycamore will allow you to dig for the energy you need late game, as well as Field Blower when you’re facing off with decks using Garbodor with Garbotoxin. Playing consistency Supporters in a clunky stage 2 deck is necessary, and I think those that go without them are crazy. While I may not be a Vikavolt player by definition, I’ve used the deck once in a tournament, a Regionals, and took home a 6/1/2 record. I bubbled out of the second day, but was still satisfied with my result overall.
If you want to draw a comparison to Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX out of the past, it’s rather similar to Night March. The deck aims to set up a Vikavolt (discard numerous Night March Pokemon) as quickly as possible, and then churn back-to-back-to-back two prize knockouts to win the game, if possible. It’s kind of a boom or bust deck like Night March can be sometimes. In short, if you’re looking to do lots of damage and manage your most important resources (energy cards) carefully, you’ll love this deck!
If there’s one deck that’s never gotten the respect it deserves, it’s this one. I’ve heard things from “I don’t even own Vikavolt” to “it’s the most clunky deck I’ve ever played”. If you ask me, Vikavolt with Tapu Bulu-GX has been slept on for long enough, and I think it’s a fine time to share my list as well as the success I’ve been having with it in the Standard format. Are you ready to be the next Bulu Guru? Let’s go!
Table of contents
Want fifty set in stone cards to start off with when trying to build Vikavolt? Here you go!
Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX / Skeleton
- 3x Tapu Bulu GX
- 3x Grubbin
- 3x Vikavolt
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Tapu Koko
- 1x Oranguru
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 2x Skyla
- 2x N
- 2x Guzma
- 1x Brigette
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Rare Candy
- 3x Choice Band
- 2x Field Blower
- 1x Heavy Ball
- 1x Energy Recycler
- 7x Grass Energy
- 4x Lightning Energy
You obviously want three Tapu Bulu-GX starting off, it is your main attacker and all. Vikavolt and Grubbin should always start at three apiece, and Charjabug is not necessary. I do like it for defense against Espeon-EX and Miraculous Shine, as well as the times where you don’t get the second turn Vikavolt, so there is merit there to play it. You need at least two Tapu Lele-GX in nearly every deck you play these days, and I think Oranguru is a must in this deck as well. When you get dropped down to low hand sizes from N, Oranguru can help you draw into a Supporter or an energy to get things rolling smoothly again. Tapu Koko is necessary in any Tapu Bulu-GX deck as well, as it sets up one-hit knockouts on popular Pokemon like Gardevoir-GX after just one Flying Flip. Nature’s Judgement can do 210 with a Choice Band, so the 20 damage from Flying Flip turns out to be super clutch!
The optimal Supporter count in my testing is a line of Brigette, Guzma, N, Professor Sycamore, and Skyla with increased counts of some of them. I do think you need at least two of some of them, as you can see in the deck list. While I have played extensively with a lower count of Professor Sycamore in the past, I’ve always went back up to four. I would run into all kinds of problems with less than the maximum of four copies, and think it’s foolish not to run the same number yourself.
Four Rare Candy and four Ultra Ball are must-haves in any stage 2 deck, as they allow you to have higher odds of getting your stage 2 Pokemon into play as soon as possible. You want at least three Choice Band in any deck like this in the Standard format, since there are plenty of Pokemon that it allows you to take one-hit knockouts on with Nature’s Judgment, like Golisopod-GX, for one.
Field Blower is self-explanatory, as it is for removing Tools for Garbodor with Garbotoxin, and can also take off Fighting Fury Belt to let you take one-hit knockouts. Heavy Ball is a must in this deck as it greatly improves your consistency. Energy Recycler goes hand in hand with the heavy energy loss you incur from repeatedly removing your own energy to do full damage with Nature’s Judgement.
Starting with seven Grass Energy and four Lightning Energy is an awesome way to begin messing with energy counts in this deck. I’ve gone no lower than four Lightning Energy, and very briefly tried six Grass Energy but that was really bad, and I wouldn’t recommend it. Now with this type of a skeleton to go off of, you should be able to start solidifying your own list for Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX!
Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX
- 3x Tapu Bulu GX
- 3x Grubbin
- 3x Vikavolt
- 2x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Tapu Koko
- 1x Oranguru
- 1x Mew
- 1x Clefairy
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 3x Skyla
- 3x N
- 3x Guzma
- 1x Brigette
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Rare Candy
- 3x Field Blower
- 3x Choice Band
- 2x Heavy Ball
- 2x Energy Recycler
- 1x Nest Ball
- 1x Float Stone
- 7x Grass Energy
- 4x Lightning Energy
3 Tapu Bulu-GX
This is the second most obvious card in the deck, and without it, you wouldn’t be doing much attacking! Four Tapu Bulu-GX is a consideration, but I’ve never had a problem with three. You take prizes so quickly that even if one or two are prized that you can fetch them out of there in no time at all. I think three is certainly the correct number when it comes to Tapu Bulu-GX in this archetype.
3 Grubbin and 3 Vikavolt
Three Grubbin is an industry standard, as is three Vikavolt. Most lists use one Charjabug, however, which is something lacking from my list. While I’ve played with it quite a bit in the past, since removing it I haven’t noticed much of a difference. The games where you don’t get a Vikavolt out quickly are the ones that you generally lose, and that being said, when you have to put down a Charjabug you’re usually fending off a loss at that point already. The best games you can play are the ones where you get a Vikavolt down right away on your second turn and start pounding away at your opponent’s Pokemon. I don’t think Charjabug is needed and there are better cards to play.
2 Tapu Lele-GX and 1 Oranguru
For support Pokemon, two Tapu Lele-GX has always done the trick for me. While a third could be nice for the times that you start with one and prize the other (very infrequently), overall, I think it is a bog in the list and something that is unnecessary. You usually run with a more packed Bench anyways, usually consisting five of the following: one or two attackers, Oranguru, one or two Tapu Lele-GX or one or two Vikavolt. As you can see, there really isn’t space to have three Tapu Lele-GX in play, so if you’re not going to use that many in a game I’d rather find space for other things, like Oranguru, the next card in the support Pokemon section! Instruct is invaluable in this deck and will save you after late game N from your opponent frequently.
1 Tapu Koko, 1 Mew and 1 Clefairy
These are my tech Pokemon, and I love each and every one of them dearly. Tapu Koko is obviously in the deck for its Flying Flip, which softens up many of the bigger HP Pokemon in the format for “one-hit” knockouts with Nature’s Judgement. Mew can copy any attack of Tapu Bulu-GX if you have Tapu Bulu-GX on your Bench which is super awesome. Using a non-EX/GX Pokemon forces your opponent to take it down only for one prize. It’s a great change of pace in a tight trade, and can get you ahead on prizes. Clefairy is specifically for the Gardevoir-GX matchup, but it has use in the mirror match, and other random matchups too. If your opponent is playing Gardevoir-GX and loads up for a big Infinite Force attack, you can swing right back by using Metronome to copy Infinite Force and take a one-hit knockout of your own. Since it is generally advantageous for you to discard your energy from a Tapu Bulu-GX when using Nature’s Judgement, your opponent will often be forced into a position like the one I just mentioned and have to overinvest into a single Gardevoir-GX. Taking a one-hit knockout on that big threat should swing the game in favor, if not win you it outright. All of these techs have their place in the deck and as non-EX/GX Pokemon, I’m a huge fan.
4 Professor Sycamore, 3 Skyla, 3 N and 1 Brigette
The consistency Supporters of this deck are crucial as I’ve been talking about this whole article. More than anything else, you want to be playing Professor Sycamore! Without it, you will lose to late game N drops, miss your crucial energy and items you need, and kick yourself for not playing it. A full set of them is necessary, and a nearly full set of Skyla and N is very strong as well. Skyla can find any Trainer card in the deck, and pairs perfectly with the strategy of optimizing your chances of getting a turn two Vikavolt into play with Rare Candy. Many times, you have a piece of the puzzle already and just need to fetch something like a Heavy Ball for Vikavolt, or a Rare Candy outright. In Garbodor matchups, using Skyla for Field Blower is quite nice, too. N is an integral part of this deck’s success when you don’t want to discard a hand full of resources, and it’s also nice against Gardevoir-GX decks with Sylveon-GX. One way Gardevoir-GX can swing things in your opponent’s favor is by using Parallel City and then Sylveon-GX's Plea GX attack. This usually lands you with a field absent of Vikavolt, and you’ll be put in an extremely weird position. A lot of the time from there it will be easy for your opponent to play a Guzma to pick off a Vikavolt if you manage to set another up. Playing N to shuffle away your opponent’s outs to that option from Magical Ribbon is very nice and with three of them you’re sure to have it when you need it. Brigette is a must in pretty much everything these days, and this deck is no exclusion. It’ll find you the Grubbin you desperately need on your Bench early, as well as an attacker, in most cases.
For Connecticut Regionals I played four Guzma, but one less N. I’ve made the switch to three of each mainly because of the Gardevoir-GX matchup like I just mentioned. Three Guzma is really all you’ll ever need in a game, I just played four because I wanted to hit them right away and start taking two prize knockouts from Pokemon-EX/GX.
4 Ultra Ball, 2 Heavy Ball and 1 Nest Ball
I love this “ball” lineup! Four Ultra Ball is a no-brainer, and Heavy Ball makes a lot of sense too. I like having two of them to draw into it more often in the early game, again playing into that turn two Vikavolt game plan. Nest Ball is for the times you don’t have the option to Brigette on your first turn and just want to Skyla for Nest Ball instead. My favorite target with it is usually Grubbin, although it can find you any of your main attackers as well, which is always a plus. I want my list for this deck to get the second turn Vikavolt nearly every game, and this lineup of consistency cards has a lot to do with my success in doing so.
4 Rare Candy
Again, I want to focus on getting as many Vikavolt out on my second turn over the course of all of my games. Having a full set of Rare Candy increases your odds of starting with one, and then you’re just two cards (an out to both Grubbin and Vikavolt) away from having the Vikavolt in play.
3 Field Blower
This card makes a big difference and I don't see it in many lists. Three Field Blower is the difference between a negative matchup against Garbodor and a positive one. While the positivity is just ever so slightly, three Field Blower is enough to get you there. Garbotoxin is the bane of this deck’s existence, and eliminating that threat by removing tools is just what the doctor ordered. I have a great record against Garbodor decks in both tournament play as well as testing with this count.
3 Choice Band and 1 Float Stone
This tool count probably seems a little wonky upon first sight! Three Choice Band is as low as I would go with the card, and I do want four. A single Float Stone is because I think this deck does need a “hard” switching card outside of Guzma, and Float Stone is my favorite card in that department. Having a switching card is mainly for the times that your opponent uses a Guzma to pull up a Pokemon that you don’t usually attack with to stall. In response, you can just use a Skyla to pull out the Float Stone and switch! I like that Float Stone doesn’t go straight to the discard pile like Escape Rope and Switch, and also stays in play for what could potentially be multiple uses. An extra copy of both of these cards could be solid, most certainly.
2 Energy Recycler
One of these is enough, but two is better. With two, you can more aggressively attack with Nature’s Judgment, or even Vikavolt with its Electro Cannon! Discarding a lot of energy can add up with this deck, and I love having two Energy Recycler for times where you either have to discard one, or even prize one. The added aggression you can pull off by having two is marvelous as well.
7 Grass Energy and 4 Lightning Energy
This is the optimal energy count for this deck. Five Lightning Energy has its moments, but I would much rather play the second Energy Recycler (which I think you need if you cut an energy). I’ve had a problem with having four Lightning Energy only once, and that was a game where I prized two of them and those two ended up being within my last few prizes. Try this count out for yourself, I was skeptical at first, but it has definitely grown on me!
Tapu Thunder GX is incredibly useful against Gardevoir-GX builds. Aside from that, though, the card doesn’t have much use in other matchups. It can do a solid 130 damage over and over with Sky-High Claws, but that damage falls short of knockouts against most other relevant decks. I prefer Clefairy as a hard tech for Gardevoir-GX decks, but Tapu Koko-GX is a close second.
More Tapu Lele-GX
As mentioned a bit earlier, I don’t like playing more than two Tapu Lele-GX in this deck. It is an option though, so if you find yourself favoring a higher count, making room for an additional copy is a solid option to consider.
Playing a single copy of Charjabug for the times you don’t get the Rare Candy play off on your second turn is a strong option to have available. I made the argument that most games that you don’t get the second turn Vikavolt are going to be rough anyways, so much that this card isn’t worth it, earlier. If you have found the opposite, this card is worth serious consideration.
Switch and/or Escape Rope
These are alternatives to Float Stone and while I do think they are inferior, they have some merit in certain situations. Sometimes, if you have a tool card attached to a Tapu Bulu-GX that you have active already, then you’re not going to be able to play a Float Stone on it. Having a way to just drop back to the bench and get out of a sticky situation can be something desirable from time to time. Either of these cards can do the trick with that, so keep them in your thoughts.
More Field Blower
A fourth Field Blower? You might think I’m crazy! Garbotoxin is a huge deal, and having a full set of Field Blower is something to seriously consider. I’ve played Metagross-GX extensively at League Cups and with that deck being very reliant on abilities I have come to love four Field Blower in the deck. The same thing goes for this deck, since Strong Charge is so incredibly important. If Garbotoxin didn’t exist, Garbodor decks would have no chance against Vikavolt. The point here is that with four Field Blower the matchup is hard to lose. It’s something to consider if you’re having a hard time dealing with Garbodor decks.
More Choice Band
A fourth Choice Band would be a nice inclusion. As mentioned earlier, Golisopod-GX has 210 HP, and Gardevoir-GX is down to 210 HP remaining after one use of Flying Flip. With 210 damage being such a huge number to swing for, it makes sense to play as many Choice Band as you possibly can. If you feel you need four to improve specific matchups I say to go for it.
Fighting Fury Belt
This card is a counterpart to Choice Band and is generally worse when comparing the two. Fighting Fury Belt does have merit on a Tapu Bulu-GX, though, especially against Volcanion decks. If your opponent is unable to remove the tool, you’ll likely survive multiple attacks and be able to take that many more one-hit knockouts. It’s also particularly useful to boost Nature’s Judgement up to 130 without having to discard energy, which is the exact number necessary for a one-hit knockout on a baby Volcanion. Gardevoir-GX can also struggle even more to hit for 220 damage if you have a Fighting Fury Belt attached, which can buy you some very valuable time. It’s a card to consider when you’re looking to beat specific matchups, but I think Choice Band is better overall.
Alolan Ninetales-GX | Favorable
Your opponent’s main attacker has 210 HP and Nature’s Judgement can swing for 210 damage with a Choice Band. That perfect math is going to be critical to your success in this matchup and as long as you’re able to take one-hit knockouts when it matters most. With some Alolan Ninetales-GX builds playing Espeon-EX, just be sure to not discard all of your Rare Candy. That way, you’ll have one or two left for the late game if your opponent uses Miraculous Shine to put your Vikavolt back into your hand.
Playing around Alolan Ninetales is simple, since you have Oranguru and Vikavolt as options to attack with when you’re forced to knock it out. Additionally, you can just use Guzma to move around it and avoid it altogether. While Alolan Ninetales is easy to knock out, you need to remember to be cautious with your energy consumption and not discard too many of them. Vikavolt for one is a costly attacker, so discarding energy with Electro Cannon can be taxing. With two Energy Recycler it shouldn’t be a huge issue, but caution is always advisable.
Your opponent may very well be playing Zoroark-GX as well, and while it’s a solid attacker against most decks, Tapu Bulu-GX can dispose of it just as easily as Alolan Ninetales-GX. 210 HP is a laughing stock with Nature’s Judgement + a Choice Band doing 210 damage, so it shouldn’t be a big problem. All in all, you trade much more efficiently than your opponent when it comes to your attacks, so as long as you can set a strong tempo you should be in great shape to win.
Buzzwole-GX | Slightly Favorable
While Buzzwole-GX is certainly a strong card, I don’t think anyone knows its best partner yet. This matchup could be anything from Garbodor to Zoroark-GX at this point, so I’ll try my best to summarize all the potential options. For starters, Buzzwole-GX has 190 HP, so Nature’s Judgment will need a Choice Band to take a one-hit knockout. This isn’t an issue, unless your opponent is playing Garbodor as well. Garbotoxin can create some issues, and potentially allow your opponent to use Jet Punch a few more times than you’d like him or her to do so. Jet Punch is particularly troubling because it can set up easy knockouts for your opponent. After just two uses, your opponent will only need you to have played six Items for Trashalanche to take a one-hit knockout.
The Zoroark version benefits greatly from Jet Punch as well, although without the added bonus of ability lock, you should sweep your opponent pretty quickly. Tapu Wilderness GX is very strong against Jet Punch, so if you find yourself with a heavily damaged Tapu Bulu-GX on your bench you can find an opportunity to use the GX attack and heal everything off. Without Jet Punch setting up knockouts, your opponent will struggle to take prizes.
Much like against Alolan Ninetales-GX, this matchup (regardless of the version your opponent is playing) is going to be determined by how swiftly you are able to take one-hit knockouts. When facing against the Garbodor variants you’ll have to be mindful of your item usage, so keep tabs on that. Overall, this can be tricky, but you should come out on top.
Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX | Favorable
Forest of Giant Plants being removed from the game really hurt Decidueye-GX. However, it’s still hanging around near the back of the pack. Feather Arrow is still an amazing ability and it’s simply too good not to see play. Tapu Bulu-GX is just a faster deck, though, and can handle it fairly easily. The best part is that Tapu Wilderness GX can heal the damage that your opponent builds up on your Tapu Bulu-GX. Tapu Koko is what your opponent will likely lead with, but the little spread damage that it can do with Flying Flip won’t be any match for the one-hit knockouts that you’ll reciprocate. As long as you attack early and often, you should win this matchup.
Garbodor / Drampa-GX | Favorable
Garbotoxin is scary, but not unbeatable. Three Field Blower is the key to success in winning this matchup. Your opponent will likely lead with Drampa-GX and start setting up Garbodor on his or her Bench. A turn two Berserk for 180 damage along with Garbotoxin in play is very daunting, but if you can fire back with a one-hit knockout of your own on that Drampa-GX you should be able to snowball your way to victory. A Berserk for that much right away is very unlikely, though, so don’t be too nervous about that happening.
The biggest thing to remember going into this matchup is to be as aggressive as possible. If you get an early lead against a Drampa-GX deck, it will be hard for your opponent to load up other attackers and get back into the game. Garbodor with Trashalanche always remains strong, of course, but if you play your items carefully it shouldn’t become too big of an issue.
Berserk can do 180 with a Choice Band, as I said, and that’s the biggest threat. Eliminate Drampa-GX and it’ll be smooth sailing from there. A quick Vikavolt is what you should be hoping for in any matchup, but against anything with Garbotoxin it’s even more crucial. If you can get to use Strong Charge before your abilities are locked, that’s two Energy that you would otherwise not have, and it’ll save you the use of a Field Blower down the line. If you can Field Blower effectively and get your abilities back, this matchup should be a breeze.
Garbodor / Golisopod-GX | Slightly Favorable
Going into Connecticut, this was the deck that I expected the most of. It was getting hyped from all over, and I wanted to make sure I could beat it if I was going to play Vikavolt. After lots of testing, I concluded that it ranged from even, to slightly favorable. The games you lose are the ones that you can’t find Field Blower when you need it, or if your opponent is able to target and attack your Grubbin before they are able to evolve into Vikavolt.
Golisopod-GX has 210 HP, so Nature’s Judgement will do the job with a Choice Band. If you can stream one-hit knockouts, your opponent won’t be able to respond, and you should win. Garbodor with Garbotoxin is obviously the biggest issue, and three Field Blower helps out a lot with that.
Trashalanche is another concern, but most lists don’t play that many, so you can be a little more aggressive with your items than usual against Garbodor variants. Even if Trashalanche becomes an issue, by that point in the game you’re usually ahead by a large margin and you'll be able to seal victory by simply taking all of your prizes. I don’t mind facing this matchup, but it can be a little nerve wracking.
Gardevoir-GX | Even
This matchup got closer and closer as Gardevoir-GX lists got better and better. The biggest problem is the fact that your opponent can combine Parallel City and Plea GX into a deadly one-two punch. It not only constricts your bench and forces you into weird situations, but will almost always pick your Vikavolt back up into your hand. When that happens, it’s hard to come back since it’ll take at least two turns to get a Vikavolt back out.
The normal strategy is to open with Tapu Koko and use Flying Flip. Once that’s done, each Gardevoir-GX your opponent has will be in range of a Nature’s Judgment knockout with a Choice Band. If your opponent staggers his or her progression of Gardevoir-GX by holding a Ralts when he or she sees Tapu Koko, then you can be put in a weird position where one Gardevoir-GX isn’t in “one-hit” knockout range of Tapu Bulu-GX and its attacks. Max Potion can be a problem if your opponent plays that for the same reason: Tapu Bulu-GX can’t do 230 damage (unless you play Professor Kukui which is bad).
To avoid Plea GX becoming a problem, N is crucial to shuffle away any Magical Ribbon cards that your opponent pulls out of his or her deck. Additionally, if you can simply knock out the Sylveon-GX on your second or third turn, you opponent probably won’t even have time to pull of the combo. From there, you should be in a good position to win since your Vikavolt should stay in play for the long haul. This is your hardest matchup in the top decks of the metagame, but it is winnable.
Greninja BREAK | Favorable
You’re Grass type, they’re weak to Grass Pokemon. There’s not much else to say, except for the fact that your opponent can still win, so don’t get too cocky when you find yourself paired up against a Greninja BREAK deck. Shadow Stitching if used at the right time can catch you off guard and stop you from churning the attacks you need to use in order to win the game. It is essential that you get to use at least one Strong Charge before your opponent uses Shadow Stitching for the first time, so put everything you’ve got into getting a turn two Vikavolt. If you can get two Tapu Bulu-GX completely powered up, there’s almost no way you can lose. The other problem is to watch out for your heavier retreat cost Pokemon getting trapped in the active spot, so having a way to switch out with either Float Stone or Guzma is important. As long as you don’t get super unlucky, you should win this almost every time.
Ho-Oh-GX / Salazzle-GX | Favorable
This is another matchup where your opponent’s Pokemon’s Weakness plays a large part. Ho-Oh-GX is weak to Lightning type Pokemon, so your Tapu Koko can have a field day. While it’s not as strong, Vikavolt can, too. Your opponent will probably not be attacking with Salazzle-GX unless he or she is in a position to win the game, and that being said, you probably won’t have to worry about it then. Turtonator-GX your opponent’s backup option in this matchup, instead of Ho-Oh-GX. It doesn’t tote a Weakness to Lightning Pokemon, which works out better for your opponent. Tapu Bulu-GX can still knock it out in one hit, so that’s not too big a problem, though. Overall, this matchup is hard to lose, so as long as you can start attacking for one-hit knockouts quickly, you’ll be signing win on the match slip.
Metagross-GX | Unfavorable
This is your absolute hardest matchup, and I had the misfortune of facing three of them in Connecticut, fancy that! I ended up going 1/1/1 against them, somehow, but just barely squeaked that record out. I don’t have any beautiful ideas for you other than to use Flying Flip as many times as you can. I like to use Mew to copy Flying Flip to start off, and then use Tapu Koko itself to attack right after. That gives you as many opportunities to use it as possible, which can work out nicely. By using Flying Flip frequently, you’re trying to set up the option to take Metagross-GX down in one attack Nature’s Judgement. You’ll need to land two Flying Flip attacks in order to do this, which can be pretty tricky. Most Metagross-GX lists play three or four Max Potion, so the damage won’t always stick.
In addition to using Flying Flip, I aim to use Vikavolt as my main attacker if I can’t take one-hit knockouts with Tapu Bulu-GX. Electro Cannon deals enough damage to take two-hit knockouts on Metagross-GX, and Vikavolt can survive a hit from a Giga Hammer, thanks to its Resistance to Metal Pokemon.
While all of this usually isn’t enough to pull out wins, it is possible. With a bit of luck, maybe you can pressure your opponent by taking knockouts on Beldum and Metang before they evolve and take a cheap win like that! While you shouldn’t be happy about the matchup, just know it isn’t completely unwinnable.
Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX | Even
The mirror match depends greatly on who goes first. By going first, you have the first opportunity to get a Vikavolt down on your second turn, and with it, attack and take a knockout to get ahead on Prizes. This matchup is completely a trade of attackers, and your entire engine is practically built-in since Vikavolt takes energy right out of the deck with Strong Charge. This makes finding openings to play N and ruin your opponent’s draws nearly impossible. For this reason, it is essential to stay ahead in the Prize race, and make the most of your non-EX/GX attackers. Clefairy, Mew and Vikavolt can all take one-hit knockouts on opposing Tapu Bulu-GX and that way you can protect your own two prize baring Pokemon. The first one to take all six wins and hopefully you can set the pace of the game and do just that.
Volcanion | Slightly Favorable
Getting a quick Vikavolt is essential to winning this matchup, since by the third or fourth turn of the game your opponent is usually ready to start attacking with his or her big attackers. Those big attackers, Ho-Oh-GX, Turtonator-GX, or Volcanion-EX, can take one-hit knockouts on your Tapu Bulu-GX. You’re going to want to rush your opponent by taking one-hit knockouts of your own, which is pretty simple with all the options you have available to you. Volcanion decks don’t have a way to recharge the energy that they lose after one of their attackers is knocked out without attacking or playing a Kiawe. That said, you can get ahead on turns where your opponent isn’t able to take a return knockout on your own attacker. Don’t forget that Clefairy can take one-hit Knockouts on Ho-Oh-GX or Turtonator-GX in this matchup as long as it has a Choice Band attached! Using your non-EX/GX Pokemon is critical to making a comeback if you happen to fall behind on Prizes. I don’t mind facing this matchup at all and usually think I’m going to win it.
Zoroark-GX | Slightly Favorable
This section is going to be similar to the one on Buzzwole-GX and that’s because Zoroark-GX hasn’t exactly defined itself as a particular archetype yet. I’m going to define it as a toolbox sort of deck for the purposes of breaking down this matchup, particularly with Drampa-GX and Po Town, similar to the deck with Zoroark BREAK that saw a lot of success in the later stages of last season. Starting off, your opponent is likely to lead with Drampa-GX. This is no problem for you since your opponent isn’t going to have Garbodor with Garbotoxin, you’ll be able to run wild and take one-hit knockouts freely. The only foreseeable problem is if your opponent plays Zoroark BREAK and uses Foul Play for a single Darkness Energy. That way your opponent can copy your own Nature’s Judgment and take one-hit knockouts of his or her own. Zoroark BREAK isn’t very popular anymore, though, so this is unlikely. As I’ve mentioned in other matchups that play Zoroark-GX, its 210 HP stands no chance to the power of Nature’s Judgment and you should easily sweep your opponent off his or her feet.
Vikavolt / Tapu Bulu-GX is an awesome deck, one that doesn’t get enough credit from top players. I’ve grown very fond of the deck myself and try to play it whenever possible. It has a great array of matchups and is well poised for any Standard Format tournament in the near future. I hope you give the deck a shot yourself and see why I love it so much. See you next time and as always, good luck and take care!
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