Standard Lapras-GX — The Format's Dark (Sea)horse
Confused why Caleb Gedemer played Turbo Lapras-GX at a major event recently? It could have gone better, but there are still many things to be said about the deck.
05/22/2018 by Caleb Gedemer
Yes, I played Turbo Lapras GX (SUM; 139) for a Special Championship event on the nineteenth of May. It did not go as planned, even though I had expected to have great matchups all around, including against the two best decks: Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) and Malamar. I had limited time to prepare for this event, but in the games I had played, Lapras GX (SUM; 139) seemed like the best answer to the format. I trust my teammate Rukan Shao’s judgement, and he gave me the go ahead to play this deck, using his heavily tested list. I can’t say with absolute certainty that deck should be written off, it still is an answer to the aforementioned decks, but it might need more tweaking. While it might be able to naturally outpace other decks in a perfect scenario with both Aqua Patch and Max Elixir at its disposal, the unfortunate situation of falling behind on the “trade” of Energy attachments really does the deck in. Take a look at my rounds…
Starting well, I felt great about the event. My third round was insanely close, with me holding the cards to win the game on my next turn if my opponent didn’t draw a Professor Sycamore with no cards in hand… That disheartening loss pitted me up against another Buzzwole-GX deck, this one, though, handled my Lapras GX (SUM; 139) deck with ease. Beast Ring completely outpaces Lapras-GX if used correctly, and if you miss a beat you are quite literally done for. The baby Buzzwole wreaks a Lapras-GX with Sledgehammer for a one-hit Knockout as well if it has the right damage modifiers (Beast or Strong Energy along with a Choice Band and Diancie Prism Star in play). You need to get ahead, and stay ahead, with the Lapras-GX deck, which can be very difficult sometimes. Setting up two Lapras-GX is usually simple, but finding Choice Band to finish off 190 HP Pokemon-EX/GX Knockouts is difficult sometimes, especially against the Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) decks. If your opponent can use Guzma in consecutive turns if you’re fumbling to set up, you will essentially lose the game right there.
Again, the “upside” of a Lapras GX (SUM; 139) deck versus the many other Max Elixir-based decks in the format is the fact that you have access to both Aqua Patch and Max Elixir, giving you a much better early pop when it comes to Energy acceleration. Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) needs to wait for you to take Knockouts before Beast Ring becomes effective, so Aqua Patch has a leg up in that regard. In any case, this deck does have potential, and I do think it’s a deck worthy of discussion because there will still be those that choose to play it at events. Let’s begin!
- 2x Remoraid
- 3x Lapras GX
- 2x Octillery
- 2x Manaphy EX
- 1x Volcanion Prism Star
- 1x Tapu Lele GX
- 1x Hoopa
- 4x Professor Sycamore
- 4x Guzma
- 2x N
- 2x Cynthia
- 1x Lillie
- 4x Ultra Ball
- 4x Max Elixir
- 4x Choice Band
- 4x Aqua Patch
- 1x Nest Ball
- 1x Field Blower
- 1x Energy Switch
- 3x Brooklet Hill
- 13x Water Energy
Three Lapras-GX SUM 35
Four Lapras-GX would be very nice. It would increase your odds of starting with it, and give you better options for the games that you land one in your Prizes. When up against decks with Parallel City, you may be forced to part with a Lapras-GX from your Bench sometimes, an incredibly rough situation. Three is the minimum you could ever play, but there is serious merit to a fourth and it’s something I’m considering making moves to.
Two Remoraid BKT 32 and Two Octillery BKT 33
The good old sushi master is a staple in this deck and with two of each of its pieces you’ll be sure to have a great chance of getting it out each game. You can plow through your deck extremely quickly with Collect, Professor Sycamore, and Abyssal Hand, so getting Octillery (BKT; 33) going as soon as you can will aid you in powering up multiple Lapras GX (SUM; 139) as soon as possible.
Two Manaphy-EX BKP 32
This is the main source of switching for this deck. Blizzard Burn stops a Lapras GX (SUM; 139) from attacking on your next turn so having Manaphy-EX as a way to switch things around and keep attacking is a necessity to the deck’s functionality. I could see cutting one for something else, and perhaps even making room for Float Stone so you don’t have to invest a Water Energy onto a potentially dead Pokemon just to Retreat.
One Volcanion Prism Star FLI 31
This card from the new set single handedly breathed new life into this extinct archetype. Jey Geyser gets a Water Energy in your discard pile so you can Aqua Patch, and more importantly, Sauna Blast sets up Knockout math on Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , something that used to be extremely cumbersome for poor Lapras GX (SUM; 139) . Spreading 20 damage to each of your opponent’s Bench Pokemon gives Lapras-GX the perfect opportunity to follow that up with a Blizzard Burn for 190 with a Choice Band for a “one-hit Knockout” on a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , or anything else with 210 HP for that matter. Sauna Blast does some serious damage in of itself, so it’s a formidable attacker with some hefty HP, all the things wanted in a non-EX/GX attacking option for this deck.
One Tapu Lele-GX GRI 60
Similarly to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) decks, a single Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) does the trick. You don’t have that much Bench space in this deck since you want to be constantly accelerating Energy to your Pokemon and you also need room for your support Pokemon in Manaphy-EX, Octillery (BKT; 33) , and Volcanion Prism Star, but Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) is still nice to have so you can smooth things over in games where you desire to turn your Ultra Ball cards into outs to Supporters.
One Hoopa STS 51
This is a tech for Buzzwole-GX decks. Hyperspace Punch can do 100 damage for just a single Water Energy to a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) if you have a Choice Band attached, a pretty awesome number to be able to hit. Better yet, you get to hit two targets, so you can do 20 to a Rockruff or Lycanroc-GX to set it up for a Blizzard Burn Knockout, doing 190 to finish it off. This Hoopa is pretty awesome, and I’ve really liked it overall. The only problem I had in the Mexican Special Championship was finding it, so I didn’t get to use it as much as I would have liked against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) variants.
Four Professor Sycamore
The main draw Supporter for this deck, it serves as an amazing way to put Water Energy into your discard pile for use with Aqua Patch later on. Not only that, but this deck is designed to blow through your cards quickly to power up multiple attackers and rush your opponent to have an answer. Professor Sycamore is the best way to draw large numbers of cards in the Standard format right now so I believe in the count of four for this deck.
You want ways to “recharge” your Lapras GX (SUM; 139) after a Blizzard Burn, and Guzma is one way of doing that since you get to switch your Pokemon around. If a Lapras-GX is not taken down in one hit, you can pretty reliably use Guzma to immediately take another two-Prize Knockout elsewhere on your opponent’s board. Having four copies gives you better odds of drawing into them and keeping the pressure pumping.
N is still a great card, even for a fast deck. Since you have Octillery (BKT; 33) to refresh your hand after a lower-sized N, you want at least two copies to serve as a way to set your opponent back in a pinch. I like this count, and it’s a pretty customary one at that as most Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) decks opt to do the same. If you haven’t noticed, the structure of this deck is shaped closely after the core of a Buzzwole-GX build, and it works very well that way.
Another strong draw Supporter, I like Cynthia for the times you don’t want to part with important resources like Aqua Patch (if you can’t immediately use it). Somewhere around eight draw Supporters in a deck like this feels like the optimal number, and two copies of Cynthia completes that quantity.
I don’t like Lillie in this deck, and I want to take it out. The idea is to pop off even more on your first turn, but in order to do that you usually have to have an Ultra Ball, multiple Water Energy, copies of Aqua Patch and/or Max Elixir, and a Lapras GX (SUM; 139) , or an out to one on your Bench. That is so incredibly much to ask for and I haven’t pulled it off many times in reality. I don’t think you need another draw Supporter in its place, even, so I would try to fit in a more niche card, like Float Stone, perhaps, in its place.
Four Ultra Ball
You want as many ways to get Water Energy in your discard pile for use with Aqua Patch as possible, and Ultra Ball does just that. Not only that, but it’s an out to a Supporter ( Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) ), and serves as a way to draw more cards with Octillery (BKT; 33) and its Abyssal Hand! Play four of these, you won’t be disappointed.
Four Max Elixir
Energy acceleration is this deck’s forte in this format, so maxing out on Max Elixir is a must.
Four Choice Band
Giving yourself the best odds of repeatedly taking down things like Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) in one hit is absolutely necessary. Four Choice Band does just that, so I wouldn't switch this up. Some of my testing partners tried a split of Fighting Fury Belt in addition to Choice Band, but that yielded lackluster results.
Four Aqua Patch
Again, Energy acceleration is what gives this deck a chance. Having as many Aqua Patch as you can is needed to keep your attacks flying off the handle.
One Nest Ball
More Basic Pokemon search is nice to have. Nest Ball is your only way to find Hoopa other than Ultra Ball, so playing it simply for that utility is a great choice right away. Often times you just want more Basic Pokemon down on your first turn, so giving yourself another opportunity to do that in addition to Brooklet Hill and Ultra Ball is a splendid option to have.
One Field Blower
Field Blower is a very useful card in so many different situations. Need your Abilities back against a Garbodor deck? Boom, there you go. Want to remove a Fighting Fury Belt to take a one-hit Knockout? Field Blower is your card. Getting rid of debilitating Stadiums like Parallel City is another option, I just like the overall utility of this card in a vacuum.
One Energy Switch
This isn’t quite an “Energy acceleration” card, but it serves a similar purpose. You can keep your attacks going even in situations where you had to sink an Energy onto something you don’t normally attack with earlier to Retreat, or something like that. Energy Switch can power up a Lapras GX (SUM; 139) out of nowhere, and it’s also particularly useful to use in conjunction with Aqua Patch or Max Elixir to your Pokemon on the Bench as you can then move it to the Active. It makes it so you don’t necessarily have to have your attacker of choice in the Active spot, and it’s overall a very strong card in a deck like this.
Three Brooklet Hill
Brooklet Hill finds every Pokemon in your deck aside from Hoopa and Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) , Tapu Lele-GX of which you wouldn’t want to find with it anyways… Brooklet Hill pairs well with your Energy acceleration cards and makes it so you don’t have many times where you won’t be able to play one because you don’t have a potential attacker on your Bench. It’s a very pivotal card to your consistency and makes this deck flow, getting both your attackers and your support Pokemon, like Remoraid which then can become Octillery (BKT; 33) !
Thirteen Water Energy
Starting at twelve, I have moved up to thirteen Water Energy. Adding another only improves your Max Elixir odds, and it gives you better chances to have a Water Energy and a discarding effect in your hand at the same time (like Professor Sycamore or Ultra Ball) to activate Aqua Patch. Some lists have gone as high as fourteen Water Energy so having thirteen has felt like a safe middle ground.
I think that playing four Lapras GX (SUM; 139) is a small luxury, but a necessary one. Float Stone feels needed for a little boost in situations where attaching an Energy to a useless Pokemon (like Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60) ) is undesirable. Manaphy-EX is only okay overall, I think I would play one. Lillie is very bad, I think you can just take it out for something else (not a Supporter). The Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) matchup is not as great as thought to be, Beast Ring starts out-trading you quickly with Energy attachments and baby Buzzwole wreaks you with the proper damage modification. In conclusion, would I play the deck again? Probably not, the chances are extremely close to no, never again.
Buzzwole-GX Decks | Slightly Unfavorable
This matchup felt better in testing than it did in the tournament. The idea is to start the Prize trade with a Lapras GX (SUM; 139) equipped with a Choice Band and one-shot a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) . From there, you need to keep up the Pokemon-EX/GX Prize trade by taking down more and more Buzzwole-GX. If you so choose, generally for the times you have a slower start, you can utilize Hoopa to Hyperspace Punch a Buzzwole-GX for two-shot damage. The only risk you run in doing that is if your opponent has a gust effect to pull up one of your two Prize Pokemon and gets ahead in the trade.
Playing to the tune of non-EX/GX Pokemon, Volcanion Prism Star also has merit in this matchup to deal out two-hit Knockouts while only giving up a single Prize. The best part about it as an attacker, though, is that your opponent will need to use a big attack (like Knuckle Impact) to clear it from your board. That said, you can get ahead in a turn like that since it will cost so many resources to knock out just a single non-EX/GX Pokemon.
Randomly, you can use Octillery (BKT; 33) to Hug and win the game via deck out if your opponent has spent more than three Guzma and has three or more Prizes remaining (provided you have another way to gust up an immobile Pokemon, like Octillery (BKT; 33) ). Overall, this matchup comes down to a Prize race. You can use your Ice Beam GX attack to get your opponent stuck for a turn potentially, especially if you pair it with N, which will be pretty hard for your opponent to recover from.
Garbodor Decks | Slightly Favorable
Collect is your best friend in this matchup. Using it on repeat will save you some Item usage, and you’ll have valuable turns to keep drawing more cards to set up an explosive turn. Using Hoopa against Espeon GX (SUM; 61) is very nice, as it can set up one-hit Knockouts for Lapras GX (SUM; 139) , and deal a super solid 100 with a Choice Band if you have it! Once you take the Prize lead, you can afford to go crazy with Items if you’re ahead on the trade. Without access to Abilities, it can be awkward to keep attacking with Lapras GX (SUM; 139) . You’re going to need to get the best value you can out of each and every Guzma, and save your Field Blower for when you really need it! Ice Beam GX and an N in the late game should get you a Knockout on your next turn almost every time, so keep that in your gameplan to finish things off.
Gardevoir-GX | Unfavorable
There’s been talk that Gardevoir-GX might make a comeback because it seemingly does well against Malamar. I’m not convinced, as it takes a hard loss to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) decks from what I’ve tested. Gardevoir-GX can handle Lapras GX (SUM; 139) pretty easily, unfortunately, as it only takes three Energy and a Choice Band to take down a fully loaded Lapras-GX. Your outs include using Hoopa and Volcanion Prism Star to spread damage and hopefully take multiple Knockouts, using Ice Beam GX to take down a Gardevoir-GX, and even just simply outpacing a Gardevoir-GX deck, something you can certainly do since it is on the slower side of things!
Greninja BREAK | Unfavorable
This matchup is really bad, Shadow Stitching dismantles your deck, and most importantly, stops Manaphy-EX. This said, you’re going to get trapped in the Active spot quite a bit and won’t have many options. Ice Beam GX will definitely get you a Knockout when you choose to go for it, but without Fighting Fury Belt, you won’t be able to one-shot Greninja BREAK with Blizzard Burn. Your only hope will be to go in at rocket speed and take as many Knockouts as you can to hopefully stop the Greninja BREAK player from fully setting up. Volcanion Prism Star can set up Knockouts for Blizzard Burn, but that’s a lot to ask for if you still need to set up multiple Lapras GX (SUM; 139) . This matchup is doable just like Gardevoir-GX, but it’s pretty difficult to consistently win it.
Greninja-GX | Slightly Unfavorable
The new Greninja-GX spread deck with Latios and such is getting some major hype lately. People love Greninja-GX, and this deck is said to have a lot of favorable matchups, so it could see a lot of play. Poor Lapras GX (SUM; 139) needs to use Guzma to take down frog pieces before they Evolve to have a fighting chance, because it’s simply too inefficient to trade Prizes with non-EX/GX Pokemon like Latios or Tapu Koko. Once Greninja-GX comes out to play, Haze Slash is pretty strong and can two-shot a Lapras-GX, all while saving a Greninja-GX from a Knockout if your opponent decides to shuffle the Greninja-GX back into the deck. Ice Beam GX again is very strong to stop that from happening, but a Guzma or Super Scoop Up can reset the clock and get that Greninja-GX out of harm’s way. The damage modifiers from the Abilities of Frogadier and Greninja-GX can set up Haze Slash Knockouts to make matters worse, so this matchup is an uphill battle over all. Against tough matchups it’s always wise to use your non-EX/GX Pokemon of Hoopa and Volcanion Prism Star first, making your opponent burn resources to take out less valuable Pokemon in the long run.
Malamar Decks | Slightly Favorable
You have a faster deck in the short run, and you need to try your best to capitalize on that. You can trade evenly by taking out Pokemon-EX/GX once your opponent starts going in with them, you just need to get a consistent flow of Energy going. If you can set up three fully powered Lapras GX (SUM; 139) with Choice Band and also take the first two Prize Knockout, you should easily win as long as you don’t skip a beat. In the long run, however, Malamar do get set up and your opponent has an “easier” time taking Knockouts. Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX can use Moon’s Eclipse GX to get a turn of immunity from your attacks, and in this situation a card like Escape Rope could be very useful. Guzma will be a must once Moon’s Eclipse GX hits, otherwise your opponent will have a turn to get back into the Prize trade if you were ahead. You shouldn’t have much of a problem finding the Guzma, though, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that stipulation, just be prepared for it to hit and always target down the Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX prematurely if you can!
Zoroark-GX Decks | Slightly Favorable
Volcanion Prism Star helps this matchup so much. The 20 damage spread to your opponent’s Bench from Sauna Blast sets up perfect Knockouts for Lapras GX (SUM; 139) against a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) with a Choice Band attached in conjunction with a Blizzard Burn. Once you can churn out those big Knockouts, your opponent won’t be able to keep up with you as you are just a faster deck, attacking with a Basic Pokemon. Golisopod-GX versions of Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) obviously give you a much harder time, but those versions are on the back foot of the format right now, waiting to adapt. You can even beat those, too, if you can set up Knockouts on the Golisopod-GX itself. Without Volcanion Prism Star, this matchup was a whole lot worse, so I’m happy the card was printed!
Lapras GX (SUM; 139) is seriously the dark horse of this format. If it runs hot, it’s probably going to win every event it’s played at. The Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) matchup leaves something to be desired on average, so I’m not too convinced of its viability going forward. I had my time in the sun with the deck, personally, and I can’t see myself playing it again anytime soon. It’s a deck worthy of discussion, though, and something that hasn’t been covered in ages. I hope you liked this piece, try the deck out for yourself and see what you think, perhaps there’s something else out there to make the Buzzwole-GX better yet. Until next time, the best of luck to you in all you do!
Octillery (BKT; 33)
Espeon GX (SUM; 61)
Lapras GX (SUM; 139)
Tauros GX (SUM; 100)
Drampa GX (GRI; 115)
Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57)
Kartana GX (CIN; 70)
Dusk Mane Necrozma GX (UPR; 90)
Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)
Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)
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