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Caleb Gedemer

"Woah, Lot of Items You've Got There" — Zoroark-GX / Garbodor Revamped

Time for Zoroark-GX / Garbodor to take its place as the best deck in the format Is there anything it can do to better adapt for the coming Celestial Storm?

07/28/2018 by Caleb Gedemer

Stéphane Ivanoff won the North American International Championship with a very standard Zoroark-GX / Garbodor list, a deck that many players, myself included, wrote off before this event. This deck was slept on to epic proportions going in, obviously, and going forward I think that’s going to change. Garbodor has been written off in Standard for a while and it’s a hard card to play around having to incorporate Item limitation as well as Ability usage. Zoroark-GX is a fan favorite and almost everyone loves playing it. I think this is the deck to beat going into Worlds. Buzzwole decks died down in this event so that will be a very important trend to monitor going into Worlds. If Buzzwole can’t recover from its positioning right now than I think we will see some major changes for Worlds, including Zoroark-GX dominance, making it the deck to beat in general.

While Ivanoff didn’t deviate from the tried and true approach to playing Zoroark-GX / Garbodor, moving forward there are some important changes that I think should be made to shore up your matchup against opposing Zoroark-GX decks, something the Garbodor variant has struggled against in the past since Zoroark-GX decks can play around both Garbodor quite easily.

Keeping Buzzwole down has everything to do with this deck’s continued success and the release of Rayquaza-GX should only prevent Buzzwole from coming back. The biggest thing to be aware of here is that Trashalanche is only getting better with the release of Celestial Storm. Rayquaza-GX is all the rage and it simply cannot beat a Garbodor with Trashalanche, trust me, I’ve tried just about everything. The unique randomness of Stormy Winds makes it so that you’ll never know if you’re going to discard Items, or something that else you’d rather be relieving yourself of…

While Garbotoxin is inherently strong I’ll be sharing my own take on the deck, which may or may not be playing that specific Garbodor, even. There is a different approach you can incorporate to improve some very important matchups that is better overall based upon my testing so far. As of now I think this is my play for Worlds, so you better believe this is going to be worth the read.

I want to start this piece with the original list, the one that Ivanoff used to great success, and talk about my progression away from into this new blend of a deck that I think will be primed for big success come Worlds. That’s enough talk, let’s get right to it… Enjoy!


Four Zorua SLG

You always want four of these little guys in every Zoroark-GX deck.

Four Zoroark-GX

I’ve messed with lower counts of Zoroark-GX in this deck but that deviates from the entire concept here, to consistently set up and punish your opponent in a variety of different ways, including, but not limited to, Ability lock and Item use. Riotous Beating is a formidable attack, one that you will also frequently use in hopes to soften things up and address lower HP threats like an opposing Zorua, for instance.

Three Trubbish BKP

This has felt like the right count of Trubbish for some time. You don’t prioritize Garbodor over Zoroark-GX in this deck, even though it is equally important, and Zoroark-GX thrives with multiple copies on your Bench. That being said, when you’re prioritizing finding Zorua early as opposed to Trubbish, you’re not even going to have the Bench space to throw more than two Trubbish down at a time. With a Rescue Stretcher in the deck you don’t need more than three as you’ll have a spare (in case of an early Knockout or Prizing) as well as that Pokemon recovery with the Rescue Stretcher.

Two Garbodor GRI

The same sort of thing applies here, although a third Garbodor would be nice. In its place, however, I would almost always play a second Rescue Stretcher and that quite frankly isn’t necessary. Two Garbodor is really all you need since you’re going to be turning your Trubbish into the Garbodor with Garbotoxin much of the time. The two spare Trubbish that you’ll have if you do complete that Evolution can be Evolved into Trashalanche.

One Garbodor BKP

I don’t currently play this in my own list, which I’m going to cover later, but Garbotoxin can be instrumental in beating mirror matches against other Zoroark-GX decks and other Ability-based decks. The best thing about Garbodor is that it’s randomly good against the unknown… Most rogue decks that pop up are almost always Ability-based so having a way to shut that down is always super important. Malamar decks become super easy with the inclusion of this trash heap, as well as other decks like Gardevoir-GX becoming a little easier. Regardless, there are a lot of decks this is good against but it can be destructive to your strategy… I think there is a better way to beat opposing Zoroark-GX decks, and I’ll cover that shortly.

Three Tapu Lele-GX

I would always play more Basic Pokemon in this deck before playing more copies of Brigette and while I would like another Brigette, three Tapu Lele-GX is incredibly important. You can find all of the Supporters you play as well as the standard first turn play: Brigette. Tapu Lele-GX doubles as a solid attacker in a pinch, dealing 40 damage right off the bat for a single Double Colorless Energy. It’s often your best answer to a Lycanroc-GX, a scary Pokemon that this deck can struggle to deal with. I think I would play a fourth Tapu Lele-GX before playing another Brigette in this deck since it’s always nice to have more Basic Pokemon to do more damage with Riotous Beating.

One Latios

I don’t like to think of this as a Buzzwole counter, because it’s not. Lagoon Flight can, however, one-shot a Buzzwole with Sledgehammer making it a decent option if you have an opportunity to get two attachments down to power up Lagoon Flight. Break Through is okay, but that’s about it. If you have the luxury of using it to “set up Knockouts” then you’re playing a game you were already going to win. It can do 60 to a Buzzwole, sure, but that’s a three-hit Knockout if you use Break Through exclusively to take it down… That’s horrible! I am not a big fan of this card, obviously, but it’s probably better than other options like Mewtwo since it can set up decent math in other matchups like hitting a Tapu Lele-GX for 30 and then finishing it off with a Zoroark-GX equipped with a Choice Band. I’d pass on this card, personally, and it’s something I exclude from my personal list, which again, we’ll get to shortly.

One Kartana-GX

Slice Off is a nice way to discard even more Energy, but I’ve shifted towards using more Enhanced Hammer myself. Blade GX is the draw to this card, giving you a reasonable GX attack that you can use to finish off a game or swing the tempo in your favor. I’m not the hugest fan of Kartana-GX, though, as a Pokemon-GX it’s giving up two Prizes, has lower HP at 170, and comes with a cost of playing Unit Energy LPM, which is inherently weak to opposing Enhanced Hammer. In my list I skip this tech.

Four N

Garbotoxin and N can be a win condition in the late game of most games so having four of these on tap is going to pay off big often. N is generally strong in Zoroark-GX decks just because they fall behind frequently and putting your opponent at a lower hand size will undoubtedly help you out.

Three Guzma

Guzma is an amazing Supporter in every deck and this one is no different. You want to eliminate big threats like Lycanroc-GX before they surface so having extra outs to taking them out before they come up is always great. I played two Guzma in my North American International Championship list of Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX and wasn’t extremely thrilled with it always, I like to decide on the edge of caution and consistency is king, so try to keep your Guzma count at three unless you’re desperate to fit something else in.

Two Brigette

This is a little skimpy for my taste, but it makes a little more sense since this is a Garbodor deck in nature and Brigette won’t be your first turn Supporter of choice every game. I like two for sure, since it helps you against bad Prizes, but I would certainly love a third, something I fit in my own list.

One Professor Sycamore

Zoroark-GX decks like to retain their cards in hand for the most part but Professor Sycamore is still great to thin out bad cards and get them out of your deck when you no longer need them. The hard draw is especially useful when you’re digging for a specific card and I highly recommend playing one of these in every Zoroark-GX deck even though it might seem counterintuitive with your Puzzle of Time conservation efforts… Occasionally it’s okay to discard a Puzzle of Time when you need to overextend to find a card you want!

One Cynthia

A different shuffle-draw Supporter alongside N is nice. When you have a read that your opponent’s hand is bad and you don’t want to play an N then you can Cynthia instead (if you don’t want to discard your own hand with Professor Sycamore). Having a way to consistently get six cards always is great, I like a single Cynthia in every Zoroark-GX deck.

One Acerola

I haven’t liked Acerola in most Zoroark-GX decks for a while now but it is solid in this one. Having it allows you to dodge Knockouts in Zoroark-GX mirrors, something you can struggle with, and it gives you another way of switching (when you have a damaged Pokemon). This deck likes to have a full Bench of important Pokemon and when it gets clogged you can Acerola to pick something up like a Tapu Lele-GX to make space for more important Pokemon!

Four Ultra Ball

Every Zoroark-GX deck should always have four Ultra Ball, there is absolutely no excuse as it gets all of the Pokemon in your deck, and most importantly, the Zoroark-GX themselves so you can get to using Trade and plowing through your deck.

Four Puzzle of Time

Getting stuff back from your discard pile is broken and these should be in every Zoroark-GX deck, too, no excuses.

Three Float Stone

A slightly higher count of Float Stone in comparison to other Zoroark-GX decks gives you maneuverability to discard your own Tool off Garbodor to reactivate your Abilities. Having an “extra” Float Stone lets you do this play more often with less risk of finding another Tool. The pivots that the Float Stone create are very nice to have and will get you the attacker you want most into your Active quicker.

Three Field Blower

Bursting Balloon is bad and having a higher count of Field Blower serves the same purpose in conjunction with a heavier Tool count. These are obviously also nice in Parallel City wars, as that can be a defining factor in Zoroark-GX mirrors. They also double as a way to increase your damage output with Trashalanche by getting those extra Items into your opponent’s discard pile.

Two Choice Band

The more Tools the better, and obviously Choice Band is a great card by design to just boost your damage output to the point where you can more easily set up Knockouts. There are many situations where Choice Band comes up, you just need to look for them. Zoroark-GX with a Choice Band a full Bench does 150, which you can then follow up with a hit from Tapu Lele-GX for a Knockout which wouldn’t otherwise be possible against a 210 HP Golisopod-GX with a single Energy, for example.

One Rescue Stretcher

When you have a thinner line of an integral Pokemon to your deck it’s nice to have a Rescue Stretcher to piece that Pokemon and its line back together. This is applicable to Garbodor for this build and I love having a Rescue Stretcher for better flexibility.

One Mysterious Treasure

Doubling as an out to Tapu Lele-GX, Mysterious Treasure grabs pieces of your Garbodor line and also serves another great purpose, all in one! I like a single copy and I think I would play another Evosoda before adding another one of these, but it’s a great card all the same.

One Evosoda

To the same light as Mysterious Treasure, while this can’t find Tapu Lele-GX, it shores up your consistency by finding Zoroark-GX or even Garbodor! I really like Evosoda in Zoroark-GX decks and wish there could be more, but space is limited. Sometimes past a certain point consistency has diminishing returns anyways, so this count is fine.

One Enhanced Hammer

This is too low for my taste, and your Zoroark-GX matchup will suffer because of it. While Enhanced Hammer isn’t as useful against most other decks, it’s incredibly important against those mirrors. It can be strong against Buzzwole as well, providing a way to get Beast Energy Prism Star or Strong Energy removed from your opponent’s Pokemon.

Two Parallel City

Great for Parallel City wars and discarding your own damaged Pokemon, Parallel City is a great inclusion as a two-of in this deck. Limiting your opponent’s Bench is always great for Zoroark-GX decks since they can put on so much pressure when an opponent is limited. The utility it brings for “healing” by limiting your own Bench is stupendous also.

Four Double Colorless Energy

Zoroark-GX needs to attack, and so does Tapu Lele-GX. Acid Spray on Garbodor is slept on, too, and it’s a great way to address Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX. I use it in that matchup very often so I would recommend playing all four of these to make sure that you can get those big attacks off.

Three Unit Energy LPM

Filling the requirement of Trashalanche and other various Pokemon, Unit Energy LPM is super useful for this deck to play at least three copies of. A fourth would be great for consistency, but you do have Puzzle of Time to get more back if needed. Kartana-GX makes it happen with these, and that’s why it’s played over Psychic Energy.


One Oranguru UPR

Here’s how you improve your Zoroark-GX matchup drastically. Oranguru recycling Enhanced Hammer and healing cards is the key to winning those super important mirrors. I’ve borrowed the concept from Tord Reklev’s Zoroark-GX control deck, something I covered last time I wrote for you. I have found this inclusion to be brilliant, even in this deck, and I am very confident in its inclusion. Moving forward I expect Zoroark-GX decks to become steadily more popular and Oranguru will get you wins easily against all of those matchups when combined with disruption and healing.

Zero Garbodor BKP

Let’s kick this off with a general list of the decks in the format…

  • Buzzwole Variants
  • Garbodor Variants
  • Gardevoir-GX
  • Greninja BREAK
  • Hoopa
  • Malamar Variants
  • Rayquaza-GX Variants
  • Sylveon-GX
  • Yveltal BREAK
  • Zoroark-GX Variants

Of these, Gardevoir-GX, Greninja BREAK, Hoopa, Malamar, and other Zoroark-GX decks are those affected by the exclusion of Garbotoxin. Does this matter? I think it mostly matters against Malamar and Zoroark-GX, however, I think those are already mighty fine matchups, especially with the addition of Oranguru in the case of Zoroark-GX. Of the rest, they are major outliers, decks that don’t get played often. I would play Garbodor with Garbotoxin if you’re scared of the unknown. It can get you cheap wins from Ability lock alone, so it’s definitely the sixty-first card, if you will, on my palette right now.

One Team Flare Grunt

Extremely useful against a menacing Lycanroc-GX or even a deck that simply plays Basic Energy like Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX, this will get you an edge when you’re not supposed to have one. Most decks won’t expect Team Flare Grunt to come down, but as a guaranteed discarding effect it will be more than worth the spot in your list to make sure that you can deal with those annoying Basic Energy. I could see even playing another one of these, or perhaps a Plumeria, to serve the same purpose but be a little more multi-purpose with reach for discarding Energy on your opponent’s Bench.

Three Enhanced Hammer

Beating Zoroark-GX is worth the commitment to Energy denial that you invest in with these. Three Enhanced Hammer and Oranguru to recycle them is far too much for a Zoroark-GX deck to handle, and your opponent will quickly fall behind and eventually run out of Energy.

Two Float Stone

Since I’m not playing Garbotoxin having one less Float Stone makes sense. On top of that, I’ve even found two Float Stone to be fine even with that Garbodor still in the deck. It might seem weird, but it works.

One Max Potion

The denial package is complete with an extra healing card. Max Potion makes Oranguru even better and you can constantly loop it with healing now. It will be hard for your opponent to attack in general with all the disruption you have, but it will be even harder when you add in healing that can prevent your opponent from making much headway even when he or she does get to attack.

One Counter Catcher

I love Counter Catcher in Zoroark-GX decks, and I think it should be in this one too. This version has an even greater tendency to fall behind on Prizes, and in doing so you can activate Counter Catcher for good effect. Pushing up a value Pokemon of your choosing it and getting a crack in is always good, and you can stop your opponent before he or she takes too great of a lead. These sorts of comeback cards are almost always good, it’s just a matter of if you can fit them into your list, which I have!

One Choice Band

Choice Band is very abysmal in this deck, although I would still play a single copy to boost your damage in a pinch. You can recover it with Puzzle of Time if you ever encounter a situation where you want another, so have no fear!

One Reverse Valley

I like this for extra aggression against Buzzwole decks and it’s randomly good against a variety of outliers. 130 HP is no problem for Zoroark-GX to hit with this addition, it’s also nice to have a counter Stadium to opposing Parallel City. Overall, this is a cut, though.

Three Psychic Energy

I opt for these over Unit Energy LPM because Enhanced Hammer can no longer damage you effectively. The disruptive Zoroark-GX deck because a lot easier to beat with Basic Energy, and that’s what these are specifically great for. I’m a big fan of Basic Energy in this deck and prefer them when possible. Of course, Kartana-GX is a nice Pokemon to have, but it’s an extra space in your list once you take it out and Psychic Energy has its benefits.

Other Considerations

So all in all I am very satisfied with my current list. I’ve messed with Delinquent, yielding lackluster results, and a few other disruption tactics. While the tried and true Zoroark-GX / Garbodor still exists, there’s not much that can make its matchups better than they already are without altering the list like I have. The new Celesteela from Celestial Storm is awful in that deck, you do have Unit Energy LPM, so don’t try that, as is Copycat (also tried). I like this version much more because it capitalizes on the matchups that you are more prone to struggling with and gives you much higher winning percentages while keeping most of the core of the deck intact. The one thing I’m very much on the fence about is the exclusion of Garbotoxin, and that’s something I’m looking into adding back once more just to be safe. Celestial Storm doesn’t add much more for this deck, so I don’t think it’s worth dwelling on it much more. Time for matchups!


Buzzwole: Even

This is your most difficult matchup. I do not think that Latios, Mew-EX, or Mewtwo give you an edge in it. Instead, your game plan should be to use Acid Spray as much as possible starting off. From there, Lycanroc-GX is slowly going to be built up and you will have to rely on one of the following: Trashalanche is doing a ton; you are able to soften it with an attack beforehand; your opponent attaches a Special Energy that you can use Enhanced Hammer on; or simply two-shot it with different Garbodor. All of the aforementioned scenarios are unlikely, and that’s why this matchup is so difficult. A Lycanroc-GX with all Basic Energy is almost impossible to deal with, you will need your opponent to slip up. Of course, other conditions do exist with your opponent’s deck being less consistent than yours. With Garbotoxin, you can more reliably count on your opponent bricking.

Malamar: Favorable

Zoroark-GX has a nice time with Malamar, Parallel City, your Resistance, and high HP all make it favorable from the start. On top of that, Malamar plays quite a few Items and some of its best attackers are weak to Psychic (Mewtwo-GX, Necrozma-GX, etcetera). If you put Garbodor with Garbotoxin back in then this matchup gets even better, but either way I think you’re favored. You can heal your Pokemon up if your opponent is playing Shrine of Punishments or focusing on a Black Ray GX spread strategy with the baby Tapu Lele. I feel comfortable in this matchup every time, regardless of the list.

Rayquaza-GX: Highly Favorable

So, I bet you’ve heard that Rayquaza-GX loses to Trashalanche… Whoever told you that is exactly right! Trashalanche eats Rayquaza-GX alive and there’s almost nothing it can do about it. I like the deck myself, and whichever way I play it it just cannot win. Stormy Winds discards the top three of your deck and that random aspect makes it nearly impossible to gauge a strategy where you can limit your Items. Sure, you can choose not to use it, but then you lose to, well, anything that’s just attacking you for two-hit Knockouts! You can’t compete without Stormy Winds, you’re just too slow. So in conclusion, save your Puzzle of Time and Rescue Stretcher to chain Trashalanche attacks, and focus on Prize-trading and focusing on consistency.

Zoroark-GX: Favorable

Mirrors are very easy with the Oranguru package. The Double Colorless Energy denial is too much for Zoroark-GX decks to handle, and even Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX can’t keep up with its dependance on Strong Energy to attack. Now the variance here comes in the form of the ambiguity you face going into these matchups regarding your opponent’s list… Your opponent could be running more Basic Energy than you expect, and that’s where Team Flare Grunt comes in. If you can completely eliminate a two-Energy attack at the root, then you should be in good shape to win, even if your opponent gets a couple hits off. Lycanroc-GX is a menace, but you have the tools to work around it and come out on top of this matchup consistently.


Zoroark-GX / Garbodor is the best deck in the Standard format considering its recent placements and it will be the most popular deck at the World Championship per my estimation. I am going to be focusing most of my testing on the deck in the coming weeks, trying to better the matchups even still and come to a more solidified list. Until my next article folks, take care, catch ya later.


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