Experts' corner

Daniel Altavilla

"Stephane's Deck Plus a Grimer" - Collinsville Regionals Report + Standard Moving Forward

Danny goes into detail on his Collinsville Regional experience and discusses the future of Standard + his play moving forward.

03/20/2019 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey there, my beautiful 60Cards readers, we have just returned from the Regional Championship in Collinsville, Illinois where I was able to go 9-0 in Swiss rounds Day 1 into 2nd place, losing to fellow Dead Draw Gaming teammate and fellow 60Cards writer Zach Lesage. It felt bad not having any options in my Finals game because of how poor the matchup is, but Zach winning the event was amazing and I am so proud of him. Today I wanted to recap my Collinsville experience, share the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) / Lucario GX (BW; 100) list I played, and try and give some detail on games to go a bit more in-depth on the deck. I think it will be interesting to see how the tournament played out for me to not only get a feel for the deck and how to play it but to absorb my words and gain info on matchups and some of the deck’s general interactions. This is always a great way to understand a deck a little bit better. 
 It has been a pretty busy couple of weeks going straight from the Oceania International Championships into Collinsville Regionals, with no true break in between, and even tougher so to figure out a deck that could perform well in the event that wasn’t the same deck I had just played in Australia. Bouncing ideas around from Malamar to some subtle Zapdos changes that would help with the evolving meta, we ended up just playing Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX/Lucario-GX. It was the only deck that could handle such a wide-open meta, and it had some great matchups, albeit some awful ones too. It seemed appropriate to tech  Sudowoodo (GRI; null) into the deck to deal with Malamar (FLI; 51) , but we ended up just cutting it and hoping we could outplay Malamar. Besides that, we thought we had a strong matchup against the meta spare the Ultra Beast GX decks like  Blacephalon GX (LT; 52) and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 57) , and with those being so unpopular the week prior along with having a ton of poor matchups, it seemed obvious that ZoroRoc was yet again the play. Here’s the list we went with:

My Collinsville Regionals Experience

 When going into Collinsville, I did not have high expectations. I just came off of a top 8 in Oceania, and my confidence and self-esteem were telling me that consistency has never been my strong suit and that I’d manage to find myself hitting awful matchups or dead drawing left and right, and I was very nervous about playing a non-Control Zoroark-GX variant in an event. It was the first time I actually tried things on the Zoroark-GX side, and it was pretty nice being able to attack freely, have a huge hand capable of whatever combos I want, and to have options against any deck but just have to play into my opponent’s outs to see if I can squeak a dub out. It was very powerful, and when Zoroark-GX is a strong play for any given event, I’d highly consider it moving forward. With that aside, let me go a bit into detail with my rounds. 

Day 1:

Round 1 – Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar – WW – 1/0/0
 This round was a pretty good way to start the event. My opponent was pretty nice, but got fairly nervous which I think ended up giving me the advantage, because they played down too many non-Inkays which I was able to benefit from by KOing Malamars. Game 2 ended up just being a poor draw for them which put me ahead in Prize trade and made it impossible for any sort of comeback.


Round 2 – Spread Malamar/Attackers – WW 2/0/0
 I pretty much had the same situation in this game, where I played into my outs and KO’d Malamars hoping for my opponent to eventually whiff. There was a lot of spread happening, but this opponent was replacing KO’d Inkays/Malamars with non-Inkays/Malamars which ended up just board locking them out of streaming attackers, which saved me in both games. Game 2 specifically, my opponent preemptively benched a second Tapu Koko in anticipation of the first being KO’d, which just allowed me to ignore both of them for the whole game and just attack Malamars. This set up a situation where eventually my opponent had 0 Malamar on board and only had one Bench space open, which was impossible to recover from. I would have lost if even one slot was left open, because of a double Inkay bench which would have allowed for a Damage Swap from Tapu Lele Promo.

After the first two rounds, I felt lucky to have made it out unscathed, and really started regretting not running a Sudowoodo GRI which I was so close to putting in the deck. At this point it was obviously too late though, and I just wanted to take it a round at a time and hope for the best.

Round 3 – ZoroDeciTales – WLW 3/0/0

This round was like any Zoroark-GX mirror, but they cannot deal with both Lycanroc-GX and Lucario-GX at the same time. My opponent was very good and was able to bring it extremely close, and a Game 2 dead draw on my end didn’t help very much either. It was a slobberknocker where I would take a KO, my opponent would spread Feather Arrows turns ahead to set up KOs, and I ended up only winning because they needed to find Guzma off of one Trade and obviously didn’t. (It was prized anyways.)

Round 4 – Passimian/Tapu Koko/Magcargo – WW 4/0/0

I went into this matchup thinking it would be a tough round because Passimian is just a very scary deck, but I ended up winning by just setting up Muk and constantly KO’ing the Magcargos with Lucario or Lycanroc. This made a retaliation impossible because Passimian’s Ability was shut off, meaning that Zoroark-GX was the only thing that could get KO’d on my board, and if I could just Judge whenever my opponent finally built up a hand I could force them to need combos without having their Engine in play, which is simply too difficult for the deck to accomplish.

Round 5 – Vileplume/Alolan Ninetales/Hoopa Stall – W 5/0/0

This round ended up falling into my favor pretty quickly. I saw my opponent piloting the deck earlier in the day, so I knew my gameplan right away: Resource Management back a Judge, play the Judge over and over to try and kill their hand, then sneak in a Profound Knowledge here and there until I could win. In hindsight, I don’t think that strategy actually works that well because Vileplume at some point just prevents you from doing anything, but it worked out because my opponent dead drew Game 1 and I took the dub, meaning from this point on in Game 2 I could Resource back Judge infinitely and just take the game to time because there was no win condition available for my opponent besides Virizion-GX their entire board into lone Vileplume and prevent me from attacking again, but I don’t think they even ran Virizion-GX because this play never happened.

Round 6 – Zapdos/Jirachi – WW 6/0/0

This round was streamed, and you can watch it at . It was a pretty close game 1 into a rough game 2 for my opponent, but the matchup was so in my favor that I don’t think it would have been an issue if we played out the full game 2.

Round 7 – Malamar/Ultra Necrozma-GX – WW 7/0/0

This round was perhaps the most positive variance I received throughout the entire event. I went first, benched Grimer, and my opponent played a Guzma because of a poor hand, promoting my Grimer. Then they used Stellar Wish, and this allowed me to hit the Jirachi for a KO with Grimer. This put me in the prize lead to the point that I was able to just two shot a GX, KO a Malamar, and then Dangerous Rogue another GX, but it didn’t even get that far because of dead draws on their end. Game 2, I actually just started the Grimer and Double Colorless. Both times my opponent needed to simply flip heads on sleep and didn’t which singlehandedly won me the game.

Round 8 – Zapdos/Jirachi – WW 8/0/0

I played against Andrew Mahone this time around, and he was on a tear with his Zapdos list at this event. It took some pretty godly draws on my end to squeak this series out, and Andrew played very well to be able to keep the game so close even under my alolan Muk.

Round 9 – Turbo PikaRom – WW 9/0/0

I played against Jose Marrero, the PikaRom master himself, and he ended up bricking a couple times which obviously managed to put me very far in the lead. He could not handle the pressure of the Fighting Pokemon, but I think his list was fairly teched out for Zoroark-GX variants and had he drawn a bit better this round would have been pretty scary.

At this point I am absolutely elated to be 9/0/0 for the first time in my career, having a handful of 8/0/1 and 8/1 finishes, but never quite going all the way like this. It is a pretty cool accomplishment even if it is transient, and I was mostly just happy to only have to go 2/3/1 the next day to make the bubble record for Top 8.

Round 10 – Zapdos/Jirachi – WLW? 10/0/0

This was Mahone again, and it was even more of a nailbiter than the first day. I think he took a game off me but it’s a little blurry now, but he definitely brought it ridiculously close. The main issue here was that the Tapu Koko-GX came down early enough to pressure me pretty heavily, and the deck kind of just came together the best way it could for him to deal with my turns. Both of these series were probably my favorite of the event because it challenged us both fully and the games were very back-and-forth.

Round 11 – Malamar/Ultra Necrozma-GX LL 10/1/0

This was the first loss I was handed at the event, and boy was it handed. I got completely destroyed in these games, the way it probably should have been in the 3 matchups the day prior, just because Ultra is too much to deal with and the deck is just max consistency, and with no mistakes like board locking themselves it proved too difficult a matchup.

Round 12 – Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX WLL 10/2/0

 These games were really neck and neck, and my opponent was a worthy adversary. The matches came down to whether one of us would whiff a combo at the right time and sure enough it ended up being me, so I took my second loss of the event – in a row! It was a pretty scary first half of the day.


Round 13 – Zapdos/Jirachi/Ultra Beasts LWT 10/2/1

This round I legitimately just got completely outplayed. My opponent held combos in hand for turns and I assumed they didn’t have options and based on what they were doing it wasn’t enough pressure that I expected anything to happen, then a Sledgehammer turn happens out of nowhere and I got destroyed. Game 2 was a bit better because I did what my deck is meant to do against Zapdos, and Game 3 was a very thought-provoking series of events that ultimately forced us both into a tie.

Round 14 – Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar WW 11/2/1

There were some pretty bad beats for my opponent here, with them completely dead drawing two games in a row. Nothing to report really, but it was nice to at least be able to have variance on my side going into this round and give me the 34 points I needed to make bubble for top cut.

Round 15 – Zach Lesage ID 11/2/2

 I tied with teammate and fellow writer Zach Lesage in the last round to put us both into cut. This was an amazing feeling after the shaky beginning to my day.

Top 8 – Drew Cate – Zapdos/Jirachi/Ultra Beasts WW 12/2/1

These games were over in quite literally 15 minutes. Completely unlike the first series we had in Round 13, I was able to set up flawlessly and my opponent struggled to get much going, which led to me just double Benching them and moving on with the event. It was unfortunate to not have a more thrilling series, but I could not complain.

Top 4 – Pablo Meza – PikaRom Toolbox WLW 13/2/1

This round was streamed, so if you refer to the link from Round 6 you can watch it. I made some questionable plays because I had a different idea of how the matchup was supposed to play out but ended up winning anyways by just playing into my outs.

Finals – Zach Lesage – Blacephalon-Gx/Naganadel LL 13/2/1 2nd Place

This Finals was fully going to Zach. I could potentially Corner stall him into his imminent deck out by using Guzma on Marshadow three times, because he only ran three copies of Guzma and I had access to 4 and Bloodthirsty eyes, but his Let Looses didn’t even get me far enough to consider this play. Still very stoked for my teammate and buddy Zach though, and if you want to watch this you can refer to the aforementioned link.

That was my event, and it was full of a mixture of strong play all around with a ton of variance as well, which I guess describes the entire game but this was just heavier than normal in all cases. A very strange event to say the least, but I’m happy with the result and very happy for Zach.

The Future of Standard

 For Standard moving forward, I think League Cups are going to be full of Malamar and Lightning decks. Players love to play the new fresh decks, and Malamar changed enough to make it a fan favorite, with lightning being so fun and so good that it will most likely be the most played deck at any given Cup. I think Zoroark-GX will fall out of favor a lot in a more concentrated local meta, where perhaps you are more in control of what you could see and you tech accordingly. More of the Regigigas stall decks have popped up and will continue to see play because it is so easy to pick up wins and people don’t have anything to lose at Cups compared to a Regional that you have to travel and spend big bucks on.


 There are no real new archetypes that could pop up, but people may still try to get creative. I’d like to close the article out by throwing out the deck I won a league cup with recently and will continue to play at league cups because of it’s consistency – Zapdos/Jirachi. I’ve started to realize that what you play at cups rarely ends up being important and it is a mixture of your best of 1 consistency and your quality of play that will determine it all in the end, so I’m fine sharing what I’ll play for the rest of the Standard cups.

My Standard League Cup Play Moving Forward

The raw consistency and options this deck offers against so many decks is too much to pass up, and I think it will just win games for this alone and even if you drop a round to a deck like Regigigas stall or something, as long as you take it a round at a time and do your best in each individual game the consistency will carry you into single elim. At this point you have more than likely locked in CP already, and matchups will likely determine your final placement from this point on. Something admirable about Zapdos that makes it so safe for Cups is that in best of 1, you don’t want to have to deal with a turn 1 Let Loose, so starting Jirachi will mitigate that a decent amount of the time. 
 Zapdos also just has really strong options against any deck. You can chase down Basics, get a big KO out of nowhere with Tapu Koko-GX, rack up damage with Shrine of Punishment to compensate for your low damage output, or even attack with Tapu Koko Prism Star or Oranguru SUM to also get some damage in there. The deck reminds me of Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX from last season, where you really don't miss a beat in pressuring and taking KOs, but it is also different and even more consistent in the sense that Jirachi is digging through 5 cards at a time which is better than Trade in a way because you still plus 1 card but have more options to pick a card. Obviously Trade is the easier and better ability, but with Stellar Wish being on a basic and being usable from turn 1, it makaes for a very strong ability that gives you plenty of early options. You then have the exact same attack effect as First Impression, but again on a basic that has synergy with both of the Kokos and can use Electro Power and Thunder Mountain Prism Star. 
 The deck is just very strong and it is somewhat of a toolbox deck. It rewards strong play and allows you to actually play the game a lot of the time because of how consistent the deck is. Also, your turn 1 Lillie odds are amazing because you can start Jirachi and see 5 extra cards to try and find the Lillie. I am absolutely in love with this deck and can't see myself playing anything else for the time being. 

That is all for this article folks, thanks for sharing in my Collinsville experience and it will be beneficial to try and pull info out of the synopsis, even if the biggest thing to take from this is that if you play into your outs as a Zoroark-GX deck, it is more likely for you to come out on top because you literally have Trade. It will be exciting to see how an entire month of Expanded events will play out now, even if it is going to be the most aggressive format we have had in years, and it will also be interesting to see if the Standard meta develops any further than it already has. Either way, I’m going to have to stick around to find out! Until next time,

Danny Altavilla

[+27] okko


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