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Caleb Gedemer

Lycanroc-GX / Zygarde-GX — Breaking Down a Successful Rogue

In the Oceania region this deck continues to place well at events. Let's see what it's all about!

07/03/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Sometimes decks we don’t understand do well at tournaments. Sometimes they do well consistently… Lycanroc-GX / Zygarde-GX is one of those decks, a deck that isn’t quite understood by the public. I’ve set out to understand it myself, starting off with a list that’s gotten second place at two Oceanic events. Here is a list of this deck’s accomplishments, there aren’t many, it’s still a deck that’s pretty well under wraps!

The deck is pretty simple, pound off big attacks with Zygarde-GX and use it as your Buzzwole-GX-esque attacker starting off. The deck uses numerous damage modification cards to boost your damage output with Cell Connector, and Land’s Wrath should almost always take a one-hit Knockout with all of the ways you play to boost your damage output. The biggest draw to this deck for me is the fact that it’s finally a Fighting type deck that “wants” to play Double Colorless Energy. This allows you to use easier Claw Slash attacks with Lycanroc-GX, and even use Mewtwo as a tech attacker to counter Buzzwole decks!

I don’t like Oranguru at all, but this deck has seemed to have limited space for fitting Octillery in. Scorched Earth does serve as a way to draw cards and defend yourself against N, so I concur. This deck has many cards that are immediately playable so it draws quite well on average since you can thin out so many things immediately. The variety of attackers and their inherent power level makes this a strong deck that does have a place in the metagame. Let’s explore it further!

Thanks to Rukan Shao for this awesome list!

Card Explanations

Three Zygarde-GX

As your main attacker, you’re going to want to play three Zygarde-GX to start off. Its hefty 200 HP makes it hard to knock out and you can do some serious damage while you’re at it. Cell Connector is where Zygarde-GX really shines, as it can power itself up quickly and get a Land’s Wrath or Verdict GX off. Both of those attacks are extremely powerful and can decimate most decks if you pop one or the other off with ease. Cell Connector can even attach Strong Energy, so there’s no doubt that you’ll be hitting for big damage, taking down most Pokemon in one attack with this beast.

Two Rockruff

The best Rockruff has 70 HP and while it doesn’t have a reliably strong attack, it has a better chance of withstanding an attack from something as meager as a Tapu Lele-GX in the early turns. Usually larger HP Basic Pokemon have been better, and this Rockruff is no different. Playing two is solid and gives you a nice chance of getting at least one Lycanroc-GX down each game.

Two Lycanroc-GX

To the same tune as Rockruff, two Lycanroc-GX gives you a nice chance of using at least one a game and it makes all of your opponent’s Pokemon have to fear the threat of a Bloodthirsty Eyes. Lycanroc-GX is a great attacker in this format and this deck wants to have a slightly thicker line to make use of it effectively each game.

One Tapu Lele-GX

Every deck should have a Tapu Lele-GX. I know Tord Reklev bucked that trend recently at a Regionals, but using his list it feels really bad. I like his list otherwise, so no offense there, I just think that the upside to making your Ultra Ball plays into draw Supporter outs is much too much to pass up on.

One Regirock-EX

Every damage counter matters, and it does particularily for Land’s Wrath. You start off at 130, go up to 140 with Regirock-EX, and then Diancie Prism Star and a Choice Band can bump that all the way up to 190, enough to take a one-hit Knockout on a Buzzwole-GX. This card has merit elsewhere, but this is one of the main draws to its use: getting the one-shot on a Buzzwole-GX.

One Oranguru

I don’t like this, but I haven’t had the courage to make room for Octillery just yet. Instruct is always nice in the late game to offset low N sizes, but Octillery is consistently better throughout the entirety of a game.

One Mewtwo

One of the neat perks of playing this deck, Mewtwo is a non-EX/GX attacker designed to give you an advantage against Buzzwole decks. You can actually even play it, unlike in Buzzwole decks themselves, due to the synergy of Zygarde-GX and Double Colorless Energy. Mewtwo is solid against most decks just on its own, so it’s not entirely for Buzzwole decks, making it a nice inclusion no matter what.

One Diancie Prism Star

Damage modification is the name of the game for Fighting decks these days, and if you’re playing Regirock-EX as it is, you’re going to want Diancie Prism Star in addition. The boost of 20 damage to attacks is insane, and can lead to much easier Knockouts.

One Buzzwole

Sledgehammer is too good for almost every Fighting deck not to play. You want to lead with Zygarde-GX in this deck to begin with, and by the time your opponent knocks it out he or she will have four Prizes remaining. This will activate the damage boost from Sledgehammer and give you a very nice boost.

Four Professor Sycamore

The best draw Supporter in the game, it helps this deck by discarding Energy so you can then use Cell Connector to reattach them. I say it a lot, but Professor Sycamore not only draws you seven new cards but it discards what was in your hand, in turn “netting you more than you otherwise would” with something like Cynthia since your old hand goes back into your deck.

Three Guzma

With two Lycanroc-GX to use Bloodthirsty Eyes with, three Guzma does the job. A fourth would always be nice, but since this deck can almost always one-shot whatever your opponent has in the Active spot there is less of a need for it.

Two N

N is still a great disruptor for every deck. I like to play at least two copies in most decks for that reason. Three would be less strong in this deck than it is in a build with Octillery, so if you were to make the move over to Octillery then more N would be very nice to have.

Two Cynthia

Another great draw Supporter, playing as many ways to draw as possible will be pertinent to boosting your consistency. More of these would be nice, but concessions have to be made to fit other useful cards.

One Lillie

I hate Lillie in most decks, and I don’t think I like it in here, either. This space should probably just become another Guzma, or even become one of the spaces to fit in an Octillery. Lillie is too hard to get a good return out of starting off, and you often have to use Tapu Lele-GX to find it, which is just fancy and unnecessary. I’d almost always rather use a different Supporter in any other scenario outside of the first turn, too.

Four Ultra Ball

Nice for discarding Energy to accelerate with Cell Connector, you can also use Ultra Ball to simply thin your deck and get rid of useless cards you won’t want in the late game. Finding Pokemon is obviously a necessity of every deck, so Ultra Ball is the best card there is to get more since it also doubles as an out to Tapu Lele-GX so you can Wonder Tag for Supporters and keep the consistent flow you’re hoping for going.

Four Max Elixir

With bigger Energy requirements you’re going to want as many Energy accelerants as you can get, and Max Elixir is the best one this build can play. With ten Fighting Energy you have a very strong chance of hitting the Max Elixir drops and getting those big guys ready to go is super important. Lycanroc-GX can come out of nowhere as well if you hit a Max Elixir on a Rockruff, Evolve, and then attach another Energy.

Four Float Stone

With many bulky Pokemon in this deck you’ll want a lot of ways to move them around. Float Stone fits that bill and gets you out of the Active when you want to push something else up. It remains to be seen if you really want this many, I could definitely see going down to three to make space for that Octillery line I keep talking about!

Three Choice Band

Choice Band makes numbers easier to hit and Knockouts are the name of the game. Three is a nice number, although arguments could be made for a fourth. I don’t think that’s necessary so I’ll be kicking it with three for now as the count has been fine in testing.

One Nest Ball

A supplement to Brooklet Hill, since you have Scorched Earth and don’t necessarily want to replace it with a different Stadium, Nest Ball can be used to just get a Basic of your choosing and it also serves as a way to get Mewtwo or Oranguru down, two Pokemon you can’t even get with Brooklet Hill.

Two Scorched Earth

Yet another way to discard Fighting Energy to get things going with Cell Connector, Scorched Earth is a nice way to draw cards and execute your early game strategy. I like it as a consistency boost and a way to thin your deck.

One Brooklet Hill

This could just become another Nest Ball, I’m not really sure you even need it. Brooklet Hill is almost always good for Fighting Decks, getting you the attackers or support Pokemon you want at any time. As a Stadium you can potentially get more than one Pokemon with it over the course of multiple turns, making it marginally better than Nest Ball on average. Again, the downside to having two different Stadium cards is picking and choosing which you’d rather have in play at a time, and sometimes that will be a very hard decision to make.

Ten Fighting Energy

This feels like the right number since you want to draw into Fighting Energy so you can discard them in a variety of ways or so you can give yourself better chances of hitting Max Elixir. It’s never bad to have a surplus of Energy as well, so I’m all for playing a higher count of these.

Four Double Colorless Energy

These are incredibly great for this deck and you will want each one. Lycanroc-GX, Mewtwo, and Zygarde-GX itself all benefit from Double Colorless Energy and can power up attacks much easier with its use. Four gives you good odds to draw into it early and often so that you don’t miss a beat during the game.

Two Strong Energy

It might seem odd to play so many Energy, but as I’m sure you know, Strong Energy is also super nice for fighting decks to have. Numbers are everything and you can boost them up quite a bit with the use of Strong Energy. I particularly like it on Lycanroc-GX so you can boost the power of Claw Slash to the point of taking one-hit Knockouts. One you burn your GX, then it is certainly harder to hit for as much so having more ways to do big damage is always welcomed.

Options

Octillery

I’ve talked about it all throughout this article, I really like Octillery in Fighting decks and this one is no different. Some of the cuts that come to mind are the following: Oranguru, Lillie, Float Stone, and maybe even a Fighting Energy. The boost you get from having Abyssal Hand is unparalleled, so fitting it in is something to seriously consider.

Bonnie

This deck isn’t built to chain Bonnie so I wouldn’t recommend it. It makes more sense in a Zoroark-GX / Zygarde-GX deck, but that’s not what I’m here talking about today.

Super Rod

Putting your Energy back into the deck and recovering pieces of your Lycanroc-GX line is very nice. With so many Basic Energy already, though, I think this would be more reserved to getting Pokemon back which might make Rescue Stretcher better in turn.

Matchups

Buzzwole; Even

In this matchup you have a lot of options. Mewtwo is a fallback if your opponent pops off too hard, and Zygarde-GX is great to hit for two-hit Knockouts early, and then one-hit Knockouts late. Cell Connector can easily two-shot any Pokemon in a Buzzwole deck, and while you use it you can set up easier Knockouts. Land’s Wrath will almost always take a one-hit Knockout with all the damage modification you have access to. Verdict GX can get you a Prize advantage, which is pretty nice. Lycanroc-GX is also very strong, giving you another one-hit Knockout threat that can’t be easily one-shotted. You have so many options in this matchup and you can stagger the Prize trade so that you don’t take Knockouts until you’re ready to face the flurry of Beast Ring drops that are sure to follow.

You’re more efficient with attacking in the early game since you can push out big attacks with the assistance of Double Colorless, something Buzzwole decks can’t say they can do. They are more reliant on Max Elixir in the early game and then Beast Ring once it’s activated. Double Colorless Energy would be played in Buzzwole decks if only Buzzwole or Buzzwole-GX could use it as part of their attack cost. Unfortunately, Zygarde-GX is the better partner and like I said, it serious boosts the quick pressure this deck can put out.

Limiting your Bench space is an idea to keep Lycanroc-GX in check, and always be mindful of opportunities you may have to take a single Prize to play around the damage boost of Sledgehammer. When two Fighting cogs go head to head it’s usually more about who can apply the best early pressure more than anything. Mewtwo is your scapegoat to protect you in situations where things go awry.

Malamar; Slightly Favorable

You can trade Prizes and attacks decently with Malamar. Your opponent has no good way to take one-hit Knockouts on a Zygarde-GX in the early game unless he or she runs insanely hot with Max Elixirs and powers up a Mewtwo-GX or Necrozma-GX. From there you ought to power up multiple Zygarde-GX so that you can stream Land’s Wrath attacks to sweep things up. Mewtwo is a nice way to address a Necrozma-GX that’s getting powered up, or even a Mewtwo-GX following a big attack. You can knock down Malamar before they Evolve by using Bloodthirsty Eyes to drag them up and then Cell Connector for a one-hit Knockout, impeding your opponent’s setup.

Your Buzzwole can keep the Prize trade in your favor once your opponent knocks out a Zygarde-GX, keeping you on pace to come up ahead at some point. I think another Guzma would be beneficial in improving this matchup since you’d much more easily be able to knock out Inkay and/or Malamar to slow your opponent down and prevent him or her from executing his or her strategy. If you can power up enough Land’s Wrath attacks, then you can very reasonably trade Prizes with your opponent without even worrying about pulling the reins out from underneath them by taking down their support Pokemon.

The biggest plus to this matchup is your 200 HP, which is super hard for Malamar decks to hit, especially with the way that they have changed to playing mostly non-EX/GX Pokemon which can’t always take one-hit Knockouts. If you can run your opponent down in the early game with pressure you should almost always have the advantage. Your speed and damage output is just unmatched by a slower Malamar deck with less powerful attackers.

Zoroark-GX; Favorable

This is your easiest matchup, as you just completely go off on your opponent’s Weakness and inability to handle high HP Fighting Pokemon. Zygarde-GX has 200 HP and the only Zoroark-GX partner that can one-shot it is Golisopod-GX. With Golisopod-GX dying down, you’ll be smooth sailing, even if you face it as you can eliminate your opponent’s Zoroark-GX and make him or her just be playing a crummy Golisopod-GX deck. Lycanroc-GX is a lot for a Zoroark-GX deck to handle by itself, and Zygarde-GX pops off quickly.

Buzzwole you can throw in to address a Zoroark-GX after your opponent takes two Prizes. You’re a little more dependent on Max Elixir in this deck in this matchup than you are as a Buzzwole deck, but you make up for that by not having an achilles heel of Psychic Weakness, making your opponent’s Mew-EX and Mewtwo useless. A Cell Connector with Diancie Prism Star and Regirock-EX in play along with a Choice Band attached gets you a one-hit Knockout on a Zoroark-GX immediately, which is incredibly strong.

You can try to take down Wimpod right away in matchups where it matters to avoid your opponent going wild with Golisopod-GX, too. If Golisopod-GX does present itself, you can either use Mewtwo or Tapu Lele-GX to chip away at it to eventually take a Knockout. Lycanroc-GX, if available, can also use Dangerous Rogue GX to one-shot a Golisopod-GX if you still have access to it. Using Verdict GX on a pivotal turn can prevent a Golisopod-GX from even becoming a threat as well. There’s a lot of maneuverability in this matchup simply based around that you have the type advantage over your opponent.

Its Place

This deck is a huge sleeper in the game right now. I wonder when someone outside of Oceania will pick it up and take it far. It is incredibly oppressive for Zoroark-GX to counter when you smack for such large damage right away. Buzzwole decks trade decently against it but it comes up even in the end because of Verdict GX and your ability to accelerate extra Energy in the early turns. This deck seems very well positioned against the rest of the field and could be a great counterplay for upcoming tournaments.

North American Internationals Stuff

This year’s North American Internationals is going to be the biggest tournament ever by most people’s predictions. Many players will have their eyes set on an invite and be doing everything they can to achieve that accomplishment. For players trying to finish in the Top Sixteen leaderboards, this event will be incredibly important to lock up that ranking and book them for a free entry to day two of Worlds.

Metagame

I think that Buzzwole will be the most played deck, as it is the best deck overall. Malamar always seems to be played by less-skilled players simply to counter the best deck. Zoroark-GX is reserved more for better players that think they can still have a solid chance against Buzzwole, something I don’t feel the deck has. Buzzwole is by far the best deck overall, and a thicker Lycanroc-GX line is the key to success against Malamar decks. Zoroark-GX becomes a good play if you expect Malamar to outweigh Buzzwole decks in terms of play. Overall, I suggest that everyone that asks to just play Buzzwole. It’s the best deck by far and has the best overall matchups. It can beat anything and I personally always try to stick with the best deck when one presents itself.

Tips for First-Timers

This tournament is usually a two-flight event, with basically two Regional Championship events happening simultaneously on each side of the venue. At the end of the day the top thirty-two from each side are meshed into one day two event. From there they play down to the Top Eight and finally, the winner. This can be super daunting for someone newer, but my best advice is to take it one round at a time. Don’t have a goal in mind and simply do your best on a round-by-round basis. You can’t ask for perfection starting off, so don’t expect it. Goals are roadblocks from achieving what you really want, just do your best and put forth your maximum effort each round. Goals are just dreams with deadlines, get after it.

Conclusion

This deck is a nice pick for someone trying to find a deck that has a solid chance of beating everything. Its unique design allows it to fly under the radar and most players won’t expect it. Zygarde-GX is an extremely powerful attacker and does very well against Zoroark-GX so that makes it a very card on its on. Lycanroc-GX is still the best card in the game in my opinion and any deck paired with it is immediately strong by default. A free gust effect on your opponent’s Pokemon is just too much for many decks to handle right now. Dangerous Rogue GX is also a great attack that makes your opponent think twice before making what would normally be an optimal play and strategies like that can give you a natural advantage in many matchups. I’m gonna take off now, good luck out there, take care!

~Caleb

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