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Caleb Gedemer

The Fate of Zoroark-GX — Time To Move on in Standard?

Do you like Zoroark-GX? This article is packed with thoughts about its future in Standard and a new way to play the deck. You need to check this out!

06/20/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

I like Zoroark-GX a lot. Trade is awesome, Riotous Beating is awesome, its potential partners can be awesome… Going into Madison, Wisconsin Regionals I wanted to play Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX. I didn’t see Golisopod-GX as a huge component of the deck anymore, though, I saw it almost strictly as a tech for opposing Lycanroc-GX. Tried as I might, I threw in techs of all kinds to attempt to curb the onslaught in the Buzzwole-GX matchup. Latios, Mew-EX, and/or Mew-EX were all worthy adversaries, but unfortunately, even a package with all three of those and Golisopod-GX wasn’t enough to consistently win the matchup. I almost turned my head from the Buzzwole-GX matchup entirely, saying, “Well, you know what, I’ll just take the loss!” That would have been a horrible idea, and if I had gone through with that I’d have played Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX, which I firmly believe to be the best Zoroark-GX deck in the current metagame, albeit the one with the worst Buzzwole-GX matchup besides something abysmal like Zoroark-GX / Weavile.

Let’s summarize all of the Zoroark-GX in existence quickly, using their matchups against Buzzwole-GX as an indicator of what hope they have left…

  • Zoroark-GX / Garbodor: Slightly Unfavorable to Even
  • Zoroark-GX / Gardevoir-GX: Unfavorable
  • Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX: Unfavorable to Slightly Unfavorable
  • Zoroark-GX / Greninja-GX: Slightly Unfavorable
  • Zoroark-GX / Lucario-GX: Slightly Unfavorable
  • Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX: Unfavorable to Slightly Unfavorable
  • Zoroark-GX / Trevenant: Even to Slightly Favorable

I already asserted that Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX is hands down the best Zoroark-GX deck against the rest of the non-Buzzwole-GX decks out there. This said, I think the deck should take out Psychic Pokemon techs to make the deck better overall and just capitalize on the good matchups that it does have. As for the rest of the Zoroark-GX decks, if you’re playing it you better have a good reason for it, like thinking it can beat Buzzwole-GX. As far as I’m concerned, Garbodor and Trevenant are the only reasonable partners to do just that. The rest of the builds out there are destined for failure, and should decrease in popularity, as well as strength, each day.

Aside on Greninja BREAK

Zoroark-GX has struggled against Greninja BREAK throughout this season. Greninja BREAK, while on the upturn going into Wisconsin Regionals, should be on the downturn now. Malamar decks playing Giratina and Mewtwo create an unwinnable situation for a Greninja BREAK player where he or she has to use Shadow Stitching six times to just knock out a Mewtwo. Not only that, but the matchup Greninja BREAK has against Buzzwole-GX leaves something to be desired itself, as Buzzwole-GX has become considerably more powerful with the release of Beast Ring. Try as you may, Giant Water Shuriken can play around Beast Ring by giving you multiple Knockouts in a turn, but it’s very difficult to pull off and simply unrealistic to do on a regular basis. All this said, I don’t think Zoroark-GX has many bad matchups outside of Buzzwole-GX, and that’s where we’ll begin the meat of this piece, looking at the ways Zoroark-GX can beat Buzzwole-GX…

Some Risks

Enter Garbodor and Trevenant, these may seem like weird partners for Zoroark-GX, but you’d be surprised. Garbodor comes as a packaged deal, including both Standard format legal Garbodor cards, Garbotoxin, as well as Trashalanche. Trevenant, baring Nervous Seed and Energy Press, is a clunky, but strong option against Buzzwole-GX decks. Not only does Energy Press equipped with a Choice Band one-shot a Buzzwole-GX, but it even slows down your opponent from attacking. Against the regular Buzzwole, you already have the one-hit Knockout and again, you can slow your opponent down from attacking with your Ability. Your Ability is what makes this a strong concept: you do have the time to put down multiple Energy attachments on your Trevenant since you’ll be slowing your opponent.

Of these I prefer Trevenant right now. I flopped at a League Cup event with Zoroark-GX / Garbodor, and while I think it can hold its own against Buzzwole-GX, it struggles to convincingly beat anything besides Malamar, and even that can get tricky if you draw poorly, as you often do (there are so many moving pieces to the deck that you won’t always have what you’d like).

I’m going to focus on Trevenant as a partner, since I’m very displeased with Garbodor right now. While I think it’s a formidable partner, it’s too easy to play around and doesn’t provide you much outside of the Buzzwole-GX matchup. It inherently makes you play a certain way, a way that makes you much worse off against other decks. Lycanroc-GX is a huge problem for it too, and while Trevenant isn’t much better in either of those categories, it’s very strong against Malamar and can hit Lycanroc-GX just enough to put it into two-hit Knockout range.

Trevenant brings a surprise factor to the table as well, surprising an opponent with an irregularly used Pokemon that not everyone is familiar with. You can play the Trevenant with Poltergeist, too, so you can get type advantage against Lycanroc-GX itself, as well as other random Pokemon that happen to be weak to Grass. The deck can even make use of Kartana-GX, as Trevenant is able to be used with Unit Energy LPM, which also activates Blade GX.

Most decks in this format happen to attack with Basic Pokemon, giving even more fuel to Trevenant and boosting the power of Nervous Seed. Zoroark-GX on its own is quite strong, and as we all know, as long as you’re not paired against a Fighting deck, you should be in for a good time, or at least an even matchup. Let’s hop to it now and take a look at the list!

Explanations

Four Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  and Four Zorua SUM

Maxing out on Zoroark-GX again feels good. The only thing I would consider is playing a Zoroark with Mind Jack as another option. To make space for it, the best cut would probably be a Zoroark-GX itself, otherwise this is perfect. You are going to want to try not to put your Zoroark-GX down against Buzzwole-GX decks, as it turns into easy Prizes very quickly.

One  Kartana GX (CIN; 70)

A nice tech in general, Kartana-GX can immediately net you a Prize if you want it with Blade GX, and Slice Off is a great Ability in mirror matches and against decks that rely heavily on Special Energy. Gale Blade is neat as well to return your two Prize liability back to the deck and do some decent damage while you’re at it. If you have a Choice Band down you can do 100 damage, nothing to scoff at. The only downside is having to attach two Energy to get to that point, but in a pinch, it’s doable.

One  Mew EX (DR; 120)

The first of the Buzzwole-GX counters in this deck, Mew-EX takes one-hit Knockouts with ease by copying Riotous Beating. Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX can be easily one-shotted with it, so it’s a nice fallback option for games where you don’t get Trevenant powered up quickly enough. It can also be used to take a one-hit Knockout on a Necrozma-GX against Malamar decks.

One  Mewtwo (EVO; 51)

To the same note as Mew-EX, Psychic is a strong option in general, and with a Choice Band can one-shot a Buzzwole-GX when it has three Energy attached to it. It can be used to chip away at bigger threats that you can’t as easily one-shot, and serves as a decent one-Prize attacker when you want it.

Three  Phantump (BKP; 64)

The Phantump with Ascension has slightly less HP than the Grass type Phantump, but it comes with a nice Resistance to Fighting and can slap a Trevenant down with Nervous Seed immediately, making it incredibly hard for your opponent to attack if he or she is using a deck with Basic attackers.

Two  Trevenant (BKP; 65)

These are your best options against Buzzwole-GX, and again, they are pretty nice against Malamar too. If your opponent relies on Basic Pokemon, then Trevenant should be your first priority. This is the best counter to Buzzwole-GX that Zoroark-GX can play right now, so I highly recommend this list, and this deck right now. Two gives you just enough to take Buzzwole-GX on without running out of attackers.

One  Trevenant (GRI; 7)

This guy is simply a type advantage tech, and for when you occasionally want to go for a large Poltergeist (not always guaranteed, but you may look at your opponent’s hand and see ten cards; the time may be right). That all said, you’re not going to use it every turn and one will do the job for the times you do want it. You have Puzzle of Time to get it back if needed, so there’s no reason to want more than one.

One  Trevenant BREAK (BKP; 66)

The extra HP of Trevenant BREAK can often be useful, as can Silent Fear. When you want to set up easy Riotous Beating Knockouts, Silent Fear is there to save the day! If you want to turn your Trevenant with Poltergeist into a Psychic type for whatever reason, here you go as well. This card has utility and plenty of reasons to be played, but it’s a card that could be taken out if space dictates it. You won’t use it every single game so again, the necessity isn’t quite there.

Three  Tapu Lele GX (GRI; 60)

Generally the average count in Zoroark-GX decks, three Tapu Lele-GX is great. Three gives you a means to find them in all stages of the game, but there’s one little change you could make to give yourself more options… Mysterious Treasure can find more than just Tapu Lele-GX, but also your Psychic Pokemon like Trevenant itself! In doing this you also take away a Pokemon you don’t want to start with, so there are quite a few positives about this switch. Downsides, however, do exist, and you may be at a disadvantage in games where you land a Tapu Lele-GX in your Prizes, or have to play two quickly and long for the third in the late game. For now I’m keeping the count at three, but I’ve been messing around with split with Mysterious Treasure from time to time.

One  Enhanced Hammer (DE; 94)

A generally useful card, Enhanced Hammer is mainly for Zoroark-GX mirror matches. Adding more copies would improve it more, giving you an even better chance. Enhanced Hammer is a very useful card in a variety of matchups other than Zoroark-GX, and can even increase the annoyance of Nervous Seed for your opponent, making him or her attach more and more Energy to a Basic Pokemon to attack.

One  Evosoda (XY; 116)

Getting those Evolutions is a must, and Evosoda can do that for you. More copies would increase your consistency further, but a single copy does the job for now. I always like to add more and more consistency to my decks, but sometimes you just need to run a few less to fit everything that you want.

Two  Field Blower (GRI; 125)

I usually opt to cut corners and run two Field Blower in Zoroark-GX decks. While two reduces your matchup percentages against Garbodor decks, I still believe you are favored overall. A third Field Blower would also be nice against Parallel City, but Parallel City play has decreased, making the need for larger Field Blower counts less.

One  Multi Switch (GRI; 129)

Powering up a Trevenant “in one turn” is really nice. If you already have an Energy on a different Pokemon and want to give yourself a means of using Energy Press all in one turn, this is your card! Multi Switch was a staple in Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX, a different Zoroark-GX deck wielding a two Energy card attacker, and I believe this deck wants to go by the same philosophy, playing a Multi Switch as well.

Four  Puzzle of Time (BKP; 109)

Zoroark-GX decks love Puzzle of Time and this one is no different. Trade builds you big hands where you can get discarded cards back and having Puzzle of Time as an option is fantastic. Puzzle of Time makes Zoroark-GX decks even better than they already are.

Four  Ultra Ball (DE; 102)

Playing the most Ultra Ball you can is going to improve your consistency. Thinning out your deck is important and these also help you do that!

One  Acerola (BUS; 112)

Acerola is a generally useful card in Zoroark-GX decks, and you can even reuse it with Puzzle of Time. Staving off Knockouts helps you in a variety of matchups, especially in mirrors.

Three  Brigette (BKT; 134)

Giving yourself the best chance of opening with the first turn Brigette is a great idea. Three increases your odds significantly and it’s generally the accepted count of Brigette in most Zoroark-GX decks. I have used three in the past and really liked it.

Three  Cynthia (UPR; 119)

Not having to discard your resources like Puzzle of Time is ideal for this deck, and Cynthia helps you do that. I have been trying three copies instead of two and three N lately and really liking it! This format is one where N ramps up in power in the late game, and it’s something you don’t want to use very often early on, making Cynthia a better choice starting off. This count has seemed pretty good!

Three  Guzma (BUS; 115)

This has been the go-to count of Guzma in Zoroark-GX decks for quite a while now. If you ever need more copies or have to discard one or something, you can recover it with Puzzle of Time. Guzma is essential to taking smaller Prizes and finishing off bigger ones too. Zoroark-Gx doesn’t always take one-hit Knockouts and you’re going to need a way to clean things up.

One  Mallow (GRI; 127)

Trade can draw you the two cards you select with Mallow immediately, making it a must-have in almost every Zoroark-GX deck. Hand-picking strong cards that you want to draw is wonderful, and does lots to improve your consistency.

Two  N (FCO; 105)

As mentioned earlier, N is still very strong for this deck, but in moderation. It can be nice to setup easier Poltergeist Knockouts by giving your opponent a random hand that could contain what you need to take a Knockout!

One  Professor Sycamore (XY; 122)

I say it a lot but I still like a single copy of Professor Sycamore in Zoroark-GX decks for the times that you want to dump a bad hand. Thinning cards out that you don’t want has to do a lot with a deck’s consistency so you’re going to want to make sure you can prepare yourself for the long game with a steady flow of strong cards.

Two  Choice Band (GRI; 121)

Really all you need, Choice Band is instrumental in taking one-hit Knockouts with Energy Press and generally useful in many other situations as well. Choice Band is a staple in almost every deck so this isn’t something that you want to exclude, especially in Zoroark-GX where you are certain to benefit from more efficient ways to deal bigger damage.

Two  Float Stone (PF; 99)

Having more ways to pivot into a Pokemon you’d like to attack with is ideal, especially against matchups like Buzzwole-GX. Float Stone is also nice to give yourself more opportunities to avoid Knockouts and get more attacks off.

Four  Double Colorless Energy (ND; 92)

C’mon, this one is obvious… Zoroark-GX takes two Colorless Energy to attack and this fulfills that.

Four  Unit Energy LPM (UPR; 138)

You want to play Unit Energy LPM to make use of Kartana-GX as well as Trevenant. It diversifies your options and playing four gives you better chances of having one to attach to your Phantump early to start powering up Energy Press. Playing a Pokemon that takes multiple Energy to attack without a means of acceleration is always annoying, but this deck can make fit and having Multi Switch can speed things up occasionally as well.

Matchups

Buzzwole-GX | Even to Slightly Favorable

Nervous Seed really screws with your opponent’s strategy. Not only will he or she have to load more Energy onto his or her Basic Pokemon, but he or she will have to think twice before attacking at all. The more Energy attached, the easier it is for Energy Press to take a one-hit Knockout. The idea here is to get as many Trevenant powered up as possible before you activate Beast Ring and from there just go in with Energy Press. A Trevenant BREAK down can make it even harder for your opponent to take a Knockout when even given the opportunity, as it effectively gives you 180 HP counting your resistance. The games you lose are ones where your opponent overwhelms you with baby Buzzwole and Beast Ring, powering up some Swing Around attacks that go the distance. You can try to disrupt your opponent to give yourself more time by using Kartana-GX and Enhanced Hammer effectively. Acerola can be nice as well to avoid Knockouts, and Mew-EX and Mewtwo are also awesome to deal with overloaded attackers from your opponent if you fall behind. Trevenant with Poltergeist is your audible when Lycanroc-GX comes to play, and remember you can use N to give your opponent a random chance of being knocked out. You only need to hit three Trainer cards when you have a Choice Band attached, so it’s not that hard to pull off with most decks running thirty or more Trainers. You can win this matchup, just stick with it. Having a small Malamar line should make it even better, but I think that’s too cute for the most part.

Malamar | Slightly Favorable to Favorable

Again, this matchup is somewhat similar to that of Buzzwole-GX. Your opponent is fully reliant on Basic attackers, making it even easier, and giving you amazing value out of your Trevenant. Energy Press can take a one-hit Knockout on anything that’s weak to Psychic, and forcing your opponent to put yet another Energy down to even attack is stellar. Zoroark-GX can deal with Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX if your opponent goes that route, and everything else you can handle with Trevenant. The only problem is if your opponent manages to outpace you with quick attacks, eliminating your Energy sources and preventing Trevenant from attacking, but as long as that doesn’t happen you are favored.

Zoroark-GX | Slightly Unfavorable

The mirror match is a bit unfortunate since you’re devoting so much deck space to an attacker that does nothing against opposing Zoroark-GX decks. Trevenant is an awful option, and while the one with Poltergeist is okay, it’s not going to give you a favorable share to the matchup. Your hope is to stick an N at some point and use Kartana-GX and Enhanced Hammer to disrupt your opponent. Acerola can be used to deny your opponent Prizes, and you’ll have to rely on clever play, Knockout avoidance, and maybe even a Blade GX to finish things off. Take Prizes while you can and keep avoiding Knockouts for as long as you can!

Old Reliable with a Twist

Synopsis

My friend Byron Williams showed me this deck and it was incredibly inquiring. This deck tries to do it all, and often, it can! You blend some of the things that makes Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX great with a Zoroark-GX deck, and it’s magic! Latios and Mewtwo are very strong Buzzwole-GX counters that are very hard to deal with, and more importantly, they set up Knockouts for Lycanroc-GX which is your main attacker, still. Zoroark-GX is included as support and as an option to get Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX knocked down as well as other threats that are easier to cope with than with a Lycanroc-GX. Having some Energy efficiency is nice and Zoroark-GX is on the job. One of the nicest things is that you play Double Colorless Energy, allowing Lycanroc-GX to Claw Slash much easier and you’ll almost always be just a Max Elixir away from a Claw Slash. This is a cool concept that I haven’t been able to test as much as I’d like but it’s very interesting. I think that it can give you a strong chance of beating every deck, as you can find the right balance between consistency and techs as far as beating Buzzwole-GX. Lycanroc-GX is one of the best cards in the game and it’s a shame it doesn’t have a solidified home right now, maybe this deck will be right for it!

Conclusion

Zoroark-GX is one of my favorite cards of all time. It was extremely disappointing for it to begin to drift off into the back of the pack as far as decks go, but I guess it was time. The Fighting type dominance that has begun with the release of Forbidden Light is much too much for Zoroark-GX to consistently handle and it’s time to turn towards new Zoroark-GX concepts that are strictly built to beat Buzzwole-GX. I think Trevenant may be the best way to do that currently, but I also am very interested in this Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX hybrid deck. As I’m writing this I am in Mexico, preparing for a Special Championship tournament. I will be hanging out here for a couple weeks, playing in the Regional Championship the week after! Maybe I will use one of these decks, it’s a little to early to decide right now though. Talk to you all later, take care!

~Caleb

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