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Caleb Gedemer

¡Ganando en Colombia! — Gedemer's LATAM Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX Adventure

Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX is one of the best Standard format decks. Caleb used it to win the Colombian Special Event a couple weeks ago! Find out what makes the deck so good in Gedemer's latest piece.

04/17/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

This season’s North American Top Sixteen race has been like no other. “Pay-to-play”, as some have called it, has created a theme amongst top players to race each other head-to-head in Championship Points. North Americans generally have some of the easiest travel accommodations with easy-access airports and more events they can attend in general. These conditions have created a bizarre situation where I found myself planning a trip to Bogotá, Colombia.

To preface my thoughts regarding backlash concerning my attendance of this event, I think it’s said best with this frank statement: “hate the game, not the player”. When presented with an opportunity to play Pokemon, I’m going to go. Clearly, the Championship Point structure this season is very rigorous, and creates a situation where economically deficient players may not be able to attend as many events as others. This might create a situation where the Top Sixteen players in North America don’t end up being the absolute best sixteen players, but so be it. With every season comes another challenge to learn and grow from. I personally think that best-finish-limits should be instituted once more in some capacity, so perhaps we’ll see that cap come back next year.

Traveling to foreign tournaments have a lot of misunderstood connotations. You would think that foreign players may be upset that outsiders are attending “their” events, but such is life. I was very pleased to get to meet and play so many interestingly unique players at this Special Championship. This event doubled for me as a chance to get Championship Points as well as the opportunity of a lifetime to visit another beautiful country and play the game I love within its limits.

As the proud owner of a 2014/2015 season 37th rankings finish; 2015/2016 22nd; and 2016/2017 21st, I told myself going into this tournament season that I was going to go to quite literally every Regional or Special Championship that I could for under 650 USD. The past few years I have burnt out part-way through the season and not attended the number of events that I should have, that, or I had lackluster National Championship finishes that caused my ranking to plummet out of the Top Sixteen.

In any case, Colombia was a great opportunity to get some extra points and potentially make a run at the Top Four ranking for some extra travel allowances. I booked my trip February 26, over a month before the event, and was excited to play some Pokemon in a Latin American country, something I have never had the pleasure of doing until this tournament. My friend Charles Randall would be joining me as a fluent Spanish speaker so that I wouldn’t be hopelessly lost in my journeys.

Going into this event I thought the best, safest play would be Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  with appropriate techs to beat matchups that I would otherwise be unfavored in. This event had a lot on the line for me and came with a lot of risk. If I were to miss points it would defeat most of the purpose of my travels and leave me where I started, albeit a start that still rested safely within the middle of the Top Sixteen rankings.

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  has morphed in many ways thus far this season, and I’m excited to bring you my latest list in this piece along with some more in-depth analysis of my experiences playing the deck most recently. Let’s get started!

List

Explanations

4 Zoroark-GX SLG 53

Four of these is going to keep you drawing cards for the length of the game. I prefer four Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  as to a single copy of Zoroark (BKT; 91)  because the consistency of Trade is so valuable. I have never found many spots where I would willingly sacrifice one of my Zorua to become an easy Prize versus just playing it safe with Zoroark-GX.

4 Zorua SLG 52

These( Zorua (SLG; 52) ) are the best Zorua for the deck since you don’t run Darkness Energy! Four of them is critical so you don’t Prize some and lose games because of that and your ultimate perfect world goal is to get out four Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  (albeit this doesn’t happen very often).

3 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60

Three Tapu Lele-GX improves your mid game as opposed to running four Brigette and two Tapu Lele-GX. I’ve gone back and forth on these counts but I’m settling at three and three with this deck for now at least. Having extra Pokemon for your Bench is a great thing to have going on as well.

2 Lycanroc-GX GRI 74

You don’t need more than two Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  almost ever, if you do, you can use Puzzle of Time to get it back. Your board should be prioritizing Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , so the need for Lycanroc-GX becomes lesser. You use it as a utility card more so than an attacker, although it is an amazing attacker that you still do use most games.

2 Rockruff TK-Lycanroc 14

These Rockruff are crucial to giving yourself a chance to attack against Hoopa, and they’re also awesome to take down opposing Zorua as well as give you a chip damage outlet against higher HP Pokemon that you don’t immediately want to attack with a Pokemon-EX/GX.

1 Rockruff GRI 73

Corner has been instrumental in many wins that I’ve had. Be it Greninja BREAK to lock up a Pokemon that can’t attack or to just buy yourself some time against a deck playing something like Tapu Koko, Corner is a surprisingly strong attack that will leave some opponents on the rocks if you use it at the right time.

1 Oranguru UPR 114

I love this card because it gives you favorable matchups against both Hoopa and Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) . Against Hoopa, you set up a lock with Acerola since your opponent can’t hit for 120 damage with any of the Pokemon that he or she plays! You use Resource Management to put Acerola and two Puzzle of Time on the bottom of your deck and then if you’re low enough on cards you’ll be able to get them back right away with Trade. You can continuously Acerola your Oranguru and heal it while switching with whichever Pokemon you have down that has your Float Stone. If your opponent uses Guzma to attack something else, then you can just Acerola that Pokemon. If your opponent decides to use his or her own Oranguru, then you can knock it out with Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Acerola it after, and get back to using Resource Management. You can do much of the same against Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) , but Oranguru and its use is much clearer. It’s in the deck to recover you resources to keep attacking against the disruptive tactics of Sylveon GX (GRI; 92) , which is super nice. You can even use Profound Knowledge to Confuse a Sylveon-GX and force your opponent to flip to even attack. A stream of solid attacks should beat a Sylveon-GX deck every time, so don’t sleep on this card.

1 Mewtwo EVO 51

This is part of a two-card combo against Buzzwole-GX decks. Mewtwo is a solid hitter for just a Double Colorless Energy and it even helps against Garbodor / Espeon-GX as well! It’s fetchable with Brigette, whereas Mew-EX isn’t, which is incredibly useful in the early game. It has use against other matchups as well to give you a non-EX/GX Pokemon which is invaluable as well.

1 Mew-EX DRX 46

This is your counter to Buzzwole-GX and Lucario-GX in the form of one-hit Knockouts! You can copy Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  to use Riotous Beating and mow down opposing Psychic-weak Pokemon. It’s a great way to trade Prizes with decks that are weak to it and I love the package of it and Mewtwo in Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks.

3 N

I used to run three Cynthia and two N, but I’ve opted to switch up to three N because it’s such a big part of your game plan in close matchups. Having Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , you’re able to put yourself to lower hand sizes just to disrupt your opponent. N has been extremely instrumental in many of my comeback wins including at least two in my Colombian victory.

3 Guzma

I bumped this up to three to give myself a better shot at beating Lucario-GX decks. The goal of that matchup is to ignore Evolved Lucario-GX and instead opt to just knock out Riolu before they Evolve. In doing this, you can deny your opponent their main offensive track. Not having to use Puzzle of Time to retrieve Guzma is very nice and having a set of four of them usually allows you to save those recovery plays for more unique cards.

3 Brigette

Three Brigette gives you a great chance to start with it on your first turn which leads to greater winning percentages for a deck like this. In the late game they can be Trade fodder which isn’t the worst thing in the world by any means.

2 Cynthia

As mentioned in the N section, I’ve found that two Cynthia is the right count. It’s a solid refresh of six cards which is going to help you out quite a bit. N should be given priority, though, as mentioned, so this is the proper count.

1 Professor Sycamore

Discarding junk cards like Brigette in the late game is super nice, and just giving yourself better outs when trying to be aggressive is super nice. I like using Professor Sycamore off Wonder Tag whenever I have no cards in my hand so that’s nice as well. Professor Sycamore is misunderstood in Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks since most players think it will be disadvantageous to discard resources, but sometimes those discards are what get you to the cards you really do want. Sacrifices need to be made sometimes!

1 Professor Kukui

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  can one-shot Tapu Lele-GX with the damage modification of Professor Kukui and Choice Band! A play you will make in many matchups is to Professor Kukui and then use Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  to Bloodthirsty Eyes up a Tapu Lele-GX and score a one-hit Knockout. Doing this buys you a solid two Prizes most games which is super cool. Professor Kukui can make a variety of other numbers reachable like with your Mewtwo!

1 Mallow

Fetching two cards from your deck with Trade is pretty good! Mallow is incredible to pull off Multi Switch plays and get key cards like Mew-EX in Buzzwole-GX and/or Lucario-GX matchups. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  should always be playing at least a single copy of Mallow in the Standard format

1 Acerola

This card is a must to unlock the Oranguru loop options and in Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  mirrors. You’re going to want Acerola against Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Golisopod-GX to give yourself comeback potential. While you can’t by any means out-heal your opponent, Acerola is able to give you time to build up a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  or a combination play that can ultimately get you ahead on Prizes.

4 Ultra Ball

Y’all are gonna want all of these to improve your opening with Brigette chances and to improve overall consistency in general!

4 Puzzle of Time

Recovering things from your discard pile is part of the reason that Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  is such a strong card in combination with Puzzle of Time! Techs, Energy, and more are all able to be recovered in no time.

2 Field Blower

Garbodor is tough with two Field Blower, as is Parallel City removal, so stepping this count to three can be a good idea. I have made this list to be generally even or favorable against almost every deck, so a single Field Blower was one of the cuts that had to be made to make everything fit.

2 Choice Band

Two of these is all you need to boost your damage output when you want to and to help you hit the numbers. Sometimes you may find yourself using Puzzle of Time to retrieve it, but that’s no big deal at all!

1 Multi Switch

I was a skeptic to this card until I played it recently. It is absolutely amazing and quite literally won me at least seven of my games in Colombia. It is incredible to power up a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  out of nowhere and get big one-hit Knockouts off when your opponent least expects it. Saving Energy in general is amazing and this card helps you do that.

1 Float Stone

A single switching card in the form of Float Stone is great for this deck. Without it, Multi Switch isn’t as valuable since you will have to pay to retreat your Pokemon sometimes! Float Stone can give you a way to pivot your Pokemon after a Knockout and give you time to react. Having a card like Float Stone makes any deck more versatile so it’s a worthwhile inclusion in Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks for sure.

1 Evosoda

This card is pretty solid just as an addition to your consistency. Having two would be nice, but it’s not exactly realistic. I would rather have this instead of Timer Ball or some other nonsense where randomness will decide your fate. Olivia has also been a consideration in this slot, but I think it’s too slow for games where you want to get more than just a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  or two off your Supporter for the turn.

3 Parallel City

Here’s where the deck gets spicy! I love Parallel City in this deck as it fulfills a requirement with Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  to make the deck have a dimension that other decks don’t. Being able to use Bloodthirsty Eyes and then limit your opponent’s damage can effectively cripple his or her entire board at once. Sure, decks might be playing a higher Field Blower count, but it’s more about discarding your opponent’s Bench down to the point where it becomes hard to maneuver. This deck preys on countering cards that are good against it, so like against a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Golisopod-GX deck if you target the Wimpod and have Parallel City down, your opponent might not even have another Wimpod in play to counter you! These copies are amazing, and I even played four of them in North Carolina for Regionals back in March!

4 Double Colorless Energy

Jeez, you better have four of these in your Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  deck!

2 Strong Energy

I love a split of two Strong Energy and two Basic Fighting Energy. Strong Energy lets you take down Tapu Lele-GX with Claw Slash among other plays, as well as pushing Dangerous Rogue GX to new heights occasionally.

2 Fighting Energy

This is nice to have an off-Special Energy card to counter Enhanced Hammer some. You don’t want to be completely defenseless against Enhanced Hammer and let it walk all over you. Fighting Energy is also great to put on Oranguru to use Resource Management. I am very confident this is the optimal split of Energy for this deck and I’ve put a lot of games into testing the count. I don’t think you should go any lower than this because I’ve worked my way down from a higher count to this as it is.

Report

Round One versus Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX / Octillery / Sudowoodo / Tapu Lele-GX

My first game started rough. I had to mount a comeback chipping away with Mewtwo. I had Mew-EX in my Prizes, so it was tough to get one-hit Knockouts going. In this matchup you want to prioritize getting Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  powered up because it can usually take a handful of Prizes. Obviously, Mew-EX and Mewtwo are worthy adversaries as well. To get Lycanroc-GX going this game, I used Multi Switch from a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  to my Lycanroc-GX and ultimately used Dangerous Rogue GX to win. The second game was much more one-sided as I had access to Mew-EX and was able to effectively trade Prizes with it as well, taking down two Buzzwole-GX, and finally winning the game with a Professor Kukui Knockout on Tapu Lele-GX using Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  and Riotous Beating with a Choice Band.

2/0; 1/0/0

Round Two versus Oranguru / Tapu Bulu-GX / Tapu Lele-GX / Vikavolt

This matchup is shaky, but you can win if everything goes right for you. I started powering Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  up and it paid off. I was able to use Dangerous Rogue GX for two Prizes, Claw Slash for two Prizes on a Tapu Lele-GX, and finally a Riotous Beating coupled with Professor Kukui and a Choice Band for the last two on a Tapu Lele-GX. The second game was a wash because of my Parallel City limiting my opponent’s Bench and I was able to effectively deny Vikavolt the entire game! I knocked out all the Grubbin before they Evolved.

2/0; 2/0/0

Round Three versus Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX / Mew / Octillery / Oricorio / Sudowoodo / Tapu Lele-GX

This ended up being my closest match all day where my opponent got off to a very quick start. I found Mew-EX to be in my Prizes once again, so I was stuck using Mewtwo to do the heavy lifting. I scraped together four Prizes using Mewtwo, Tapu Lele-GX, and Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , and won the first game off a Multi Switch play to power up Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  and win the game. The second game was even more rough for me. I was able to use Mew-EX this time, but I wasn’t able to get many Zoroark-GX out. On the second last turn of the game my opponent played an N and I drew a Puzzle of Time and a Guzma. Drawing Field Blower for my turn, I used Trade to get rid of it and drew the perfect two cards: Double Colorless Energy and Puzzle of Time. This completed the combo for me and I was able to get Multi Switch back from my discard pile and get another game-winning play off with it. Thus far Multi Switch had certainly been the most valuable card for me!

2/0; 3/0/0

Round Four versus Intentional Draw

The first of my two ties, this was advantageous to land me in the Top Eight and secure Championship Points!

3/0/1

Round Five versus Intentional Draw

This absolutely guaranteed Top Eight placement and I gave me some time to reflect and catch up on the decks others were playing to properly prepare myself for the elimination rounds ahead.

3/0/2

Top Eight versus Golisopod-GX / Mew-EX / Tapu Koko / Tapu Lele-GX / Zoroark-GX

The first game I had in my hand the whole time. Having three Parallel City and type advantage always helps. In this matchup you want to target down Wimpod before it Evolves to deny your opponent their own Weakness advantage on your Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) . It can be a war of attrition at times and in other games it can be a blowout. This time around it was more of a blowout, in which I was able to deny Wimpod the entire time and then sweep with Lycanroc-GX in the late game once the threat of Golisopod-GX was gone. The second game was much more drawn out, and my opponent even got lucky enough to take down two Lycanroc-GX for four Prizes just like that! I was on the back foot and hit my opponent with a flurry of N as well as Acerola to deny Prizes. You’ll never beat Golisopod-GX by winning the healing war, but you can stay in the game long enough to get ahead by trying it your own way. I held on just long enough to build a turn in which I used two Puzzle of Time to get back Lycanroc-GX and Professor Kukui, then bring up a Tapu Lele-GX with Bloodthirsty Eyes and use Riotous Beating with a Choice Band for the game. I didn’t expect to win that one, but I made it happen.

2/0; 4/0/2

Top Four versus Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX / Mew / Octillery / Oricorio / Sudowoodo / Tapu Lele-GX

My opponent drew miserably in both of these games but the first ended up being close. He didn’t have much but just a Buzzwole-GX and some Energy can get you there sometimes. Luckily, though, I found Mew-EX to kick it to the curb and was able to keep the pace up without losing. The second game he opponent with a lone Regirock-EX and passed a few times and after a coupled turns I had used Energy Drive twice to win the game.

2/0; 5/0/2

Top Two versus Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX / Mew / Octillery / Sudowoodo / Tapu Lele-GX

The final match was against another Buzzwole-GX, but I hadn’t dropped a game to the deck, so I felt great about it. My opponent opened up decently, but I had responses to the Rockruff threats looming on his Bench. Using Energy Drive to knock out a Rockruff with an Energy is a great response! Remember that Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  is the biggest threat in this matchup and winning or losing is going to depend greatly on how well you can address it. I got out a whopping four Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  in this game, so I basically had access to all the cards in my deck this time around. I eventually got out a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  and went to down, finishing it off. The second game I wasn’t able to Brigette and had a rough go at it starting off. Whenever you have rough starts with this deck then it’s time to focus on Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) , since your Fighting-weak Zoroark-GX is going to be way too big of a liability. I did just that and scraped together a few Prizes with Claw Slash and Dangerous Rogue GX. I limited my Bench so that an opposing Dangerous Rogue GX wouldn’t knock me out, and once the threat of Zoroark-GX Knockouts was gone I began to build them up. My opponent was down to just a Sudowoodo with an Energy after I knocked out a Buzzwole-GX with Mew-EX, and it was down to the wire. I had used an N to put him at just two cards, so I was feeling good. Without Octillery down he didn’t have a way to draw more cards, so he simply used Watch and Learn for just 90 damage, not enough to take down Mew-EX. From there I used Acerola to deny the Knockout on Mew-EX and just attacked with a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . He still had nothing, and I won the next turn!

2/0; 6/0/2

Matchups

Buzzwole-GX Decks

Mew-EX and Mewtwo are your friends! Focus on getting a Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  up and running and use Parallel City to limit your opponent’s consistency options by removing Octillery.

Garbodor Decks

A third Field Blower can do wonders against these decks, but you won’t always need it. Remember that Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  rolls ride against Garbodor in general and it’s very hard for a Garbodor player to compete with its raw consistency if you set up effectively.

Zoroark-GX Decks

Focus on taking down everything that’s not Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) . The things that are paired with Zoroark-GX are what give you problems, so eliminating those threats will give you higher winning percentages. Taking down Zoroark-GX should be your endgame, as you can sweep with Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  after all the other threats have been eliminated.

Everything Else

This deck doesn't have an extremely poor matchup. You can run with pretty much everything, you just need to focus on your win conditions. Think about what you can do, can you use Parallel City to deny your opponent’s setup? Can you rely on late game N drops to get ahead? Should you prioritize powering up Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  in a certain matchup? This deck becomes easier and easier to play with lots of practice and I can confidently say that you shouldn’t feel out of any matchup you play in. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc-GX finds ways to win!

Conclusion

I enjoyed my time in Colombia. The players were friendly and happy to play with my friend Charles and me! The cultural experience was exquisite and remarkable, I love playing with foreign players, it’s a very rewarding experience. I’m glad I went and got to see some sights that I would never have otherwise laid eyes on! I think Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  is the best deck in the Standard format and it’s currently my frontrunner for the Latin American International Championship. I wish you the best of luck, and until next time, thanks for reading, take care!

~Caleb

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