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Bert Wolters

Killing the Buzz - How to beat Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX in Standard

Bert goes over how to counter one of the biggest decks in the standard format: Buzzwole-GX/Lycanrock-GX.

03/09/2018 by Bert Wolters

Do you have a problem with strangely buff mosquitos? Are wolves causing trouble for your poor foxes? Are you sick of seeing your metal lions losing to a tree? Then this might be the article for you!

Introduction

 

Hello readers, Bert here, coming to you with an article on how to beat Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX (BuzzRoc) in standard. If you have been watching the result of tournaments in the past two months you would see this deck consistently at the top. With a first place at Leipzig Regionals, 2 top eights at Sao Paulo Regionals, 4 top eights (including a second place finish) at the Oceania Internationals, 3 top eights at Malmo Regionals and 2 top eights at Collinsville Regionals, there is no doubt that this deck is one of the top contenders in the format and it shows no signs of slowing down. My opinion, and I don’t think it’s that controversial, is that BuzzRoc is the best deck in the format. Its early aggression and great typing gives it great matchups across the format, especially against the other top contenders in the format: Zoroark-GX decks. So if you want to do well at an upcoming standard tournament, you will need an answer against this deck. But how do you beat BuzzRoc?

Analyzing the Deck

 

Well to beat the deck I think it’s important to first know how the deck works and what its strengths and weaknesses are. Luckily for you I’m just the guy for the job! I won Leipzig Regionals, got top 8 at Malmo Regionals and won a League Cup with the deck, so you could say I’m experienced with it. Let’s start off with a list. This is the list I used at Malmo Regionals and it contains pretty much all the cards you could expect from a BuzzRoc list:

The strategy of a BuzzRoc deck is to take some early cheap prizes using Buzzwole-GX and then creating such a board state that it is able to take the last 3 to 4 prizes using big attacks. Early on Buzzwole-GX, with the help of Regirock-EX and Strong Energy is able to take out many of the weak 60 HP basics in the format to get a quick lead. Helping with this are the 2 Lycanroc-GX and 4 Guzma, giving you so many outs to gusting effects that you can almost always target those basic Pokémon, even if they are hiding on the bench. During this you can power up threats on bench, by using Max Elixir, for big hits for when your opponent is able to get a strong Pokémon out. For this we are looking at Lycanroc-GX its GX attack and Buzzwole-GX its Knuckle Impact, which can KO any Pokémon with the help of Strong Energy and Choice Band. But also Sudowoodo can be useful for this, especially for countering Pokémon like Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX and Tapu Bulu-GX. Octillery is also crucial for this deck, as it lets you play Guzma and still draw cards, it protects you from N and its extra draw adds even more aggressiveness to the deck.

The Weak Points

 

Reliance on Octillery

It doesn’t seem very appealing to deal with a Remoraid or Octillery, when there is a Buzzwole-GX smacking your Pokémon. But if you’re able to take it out without taking too much damage yourself, it is definitely worth it. Without their Octillery in play you will often find BuzzRoc players whiffing crucial cards for knockouts and them not being able to close out a game after a late game N. This by no means guarantees you will win the matchup, but without Octillery they will have to rely more on luck to close out games, which is helpful for you.

Charged Pokémon on the bench 

Often it is not the active Buzzwole-GX which is going to lose you the game, but the Buzzwole-GX or Lycanroc-GX (potentially still a Rockruff) being charged on the bench. If you are able to neutralize these threats before they come out, there is a high chance the BuzzRoc player runs out of steam before he’s able to take his last prizes.

Weakness

Okay, so this is a really obvious one, but certainly not less important because of it. BuzzRoc has two big weaknesses: Buzzwole-GX weakness to Psychic and Lycanroc-GX weakness to Grass. A quick Psychic type can hold back some of Buzzwole-GX its pressure and KO a Buzzwole-GX before it’s able to get a Knuckle Impact off, neutralizing Buzzwole-GX’s early game pressure. And a strong Grass type can provide an answer for when you get hit by Lycanroc-GX’s GX attack.

Reliance on easy early game knockouts

BuzzRoc heavily relies on early game pressure to take the first two prizes. Therefore if you are able to prevent (some of) the early game knockouts you will have a better chance at beating BuzzRoc.

How to Target the Weak Points

 

Reliance on Octillery

This one is pretty easy in theory: knockout the Octillery and N the BuzzRoc player to a low hand size. However I do want to add a nuance here: If you only focus on the Octillery and let the Buzzwole-GXs and Lycanroc-GXs do what they want, you still might lose, so analyze your opponent’s board state before deciding to do this. If they already have a Buzzwole-GX with 3 Energy and a Lycanroc-GX with 2 Energy and only 4 prizes remaining, it might be more important to target those first. Another option to neutralize the Octillery is to play Garbodor (BREAKpoint) to shut off Octillery (and Lycanroc-GX as a bonus). This is also a very strong option as BuzzRoc decks tend to play 0 to 1 Field Blowers and therefore have very little outs to Garbotoxin.

Charged Pokémon on the bench 

The strategy to combat this is to target the Energy. The more Energy you are able to clear of the board, the better. Knocking out a Rockruff with an Energy is always a good and easy way to do this, as it removes an Energy and also removes an option of Dangerous Rogue GX. And removing Buzzwole-GX with two or more Energy is always great. Another option is to remove the Energies from those Pokémon and that will lead to my first recommended techs:

Enhanced Hammer: Enhanced Hammer is a great card in this matchup and works against a lot of other matchups as well. A well placed Enhanced Hammer plus a knockout can lead to a BuzzRoc player to be left with little to no Energy in play and thus no way to respond. A smart BuzzRoc player however knows which decks tend to run Enhanced Hammer and will try to play around it. This is not always possible though, so Enhanced Hammer will always have a use against BuzzRoc, but it might not always win you the game.

Another tech I want to point attention to is Plumeria. Plumeria gives you assured removal of one Energy, whether it’s special or basic and can definitely tip the scales in your favor. I would only recommend this in a deck with a lot of draw Abilities, like Zoroark-GX decks, as the steep cost of two discards and it being a Supporter card would hurt too much in other decks.

Weakness

There are a wide arrange of Psychic type Pokémon to choose from to counter BuzzRoc, I will try to mention the most useful ones:

· Mew (Fates Collide): Mew is a kind of limited option to counter BuzzRoc decks as it can only be used in decks that have basic Pokémon as their main attacker. It would also only be useful if those basic Pokémon didn’t already OHKO Buzzwole-GX, for example it wouldn’t be useful in Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX as Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX already one-hits a Buzzwole-GX. Mew is also very frail and can be knocked out by a Buzzwole-GX before it can even be used. Therefore I would recommend only using Mew in decks where it also has other uses, for example in VikaBulu, where it is good in the mirror match, and in Passimian, where it is used to use Passimian’s attack for more damage.

· Mew-EX: This is the high risk/high reward option for countering BuzzRoc. It is very risky to run this card, as starting it in any of your other matchups usually means it will give up two free prizes somewhere during the game. It is however very strong against Buzzwole-GX: You are almost always going to get the one-hit knock out on Buzzwole and if you are able to get it off in the early stages of the game you can hinder the set-up of the BuzzRoc deck immensely. A BuzzRoc player can anticipate the Mew-EX by charging their Lycanroc-GX or a Mewtwo, so be prepared for that. I would recommend using this card in Zoroark-GX decks to counter BuzzRoc as they need a powerful BuzzRoc counter to overcome their generic weakness to the Fighting type deck.

· Mewtwo (Evolutions): Mewtwo is the low risk/medium reward option for countering BuzzRoc. This card definitely has its uses in other matchups, where it can be a strong, non-GX attacker and is therefore low risk to run. But in contrast to the previous two cards mentioned it cannot knock out a Buzzwole-GX in one hit, unless the Buzzwole-GX has 3 Energies and it has a Choice Band. This makes it a bit of a weaker counter than both of the Mew, but it does force your opponent to play more careful with how they attach their Energy. It can also give some early game pressure to Buzzwole-GX as it can easily two-hit it and it is difficult to deal with for the BuzzRoc player. I would recommend this card in BuzzRoc decks themselves for the mirror match and in decks that run DCE, but don’t want to run the risk of playing Mew-EX, like a Glaceon-GX deck.

· Latios (Shining Legends): A Latios with a Choice Band can two-hit knockout a Buzzwole-GX while putting pressure on Rockruff and/or Remoraid on the bench. A quick Latios can be a real nuisance for a BuzzRoc player to deal with, but I do feel it is weaker than Mew-EX and Mewtwo. Therefore I would only recommend it if it synergizes with your deck, for example if you’re playing a spread deck or if you can use it to set up knockouts for your other attackers like in a Golisopod-GX deck.

· Garbodor (Guardians Rising): Garbodor is a great Buzzwole-GX counter, as it can KO a Buzzwole-GX using Trashalanche with a Choice Band with only 4 items in their discard pile. You could even use Acid Spray with a Choice Band to secure a KO without having to worry about the amount of items played. It also limits the BuzzRoc player in how many items they can play, which slows down the deck. Especially having to be careful with how many Max Elixirs you play can be hurtful for BuzzRoc. The downside of Garbodor is of course that it is a stage 1 which needs a specific Energy to attack, so it can’t be splashed in to any deck. However if you are playing a Garbodor (Garbotoxin) deck, I would strongly urge you to play at least one copy of this guy and a couple of Psychic or Rainbow Energy, as it will greatly improve your BuzzRoc matchup.

The pool of Grass types to choose from to counter BuzzRoc isn’t as big unfortunately, but here is what I got for you:

· Shining Genesect (Shining Legends): The only (sort-of) versatile Grass type attacker is Genesect. If you are playing a deck with Rainbow Energy and Double Colorless Energy and you find yourself having trouble with the Lycanroc-GX part of BuzzRoc, you can choose to run this card. Using its Ability you can move a Rainbow from one of your other Pokémon to Genesect and then you can attach a Double Colorless to power it up in one turn. Attach a Choice Band and you’ll be able to one-hit a Lycanroc-GX. This is probably to situational, but I thought it was worth mentioning

· Shaymin (Shining Legends): This would be your go to card in a Counter Energy deck, as it can knock out a Lycanrock-GX using only a Counter Energy, as long as your opponent took a knock out last turn. So play it if you are playing a Counter Energy deck, in other decks it is too hard to get out and it is therefore not worth playing.

· Golisopod-GX: Okay, so this card isn’t splashable at all, but it is definitely the best Lycanroc-GX counter in the game. As long as it was on the bench this turn it will one-shot a Lycanroc-GX for only one energy. It is also pretty decent against Buzzwole-GX as the Acerola’s usually accompanying it in the deck will negate the spread damage it does. But be sure that if you are running a Golisopod-GX deck, that you are definitely running one of the aforementioned Psychic type counters to check a fully charged Buzzwole-GX.

Reliance on early game knockouts

One way to counter this strategy is to limit the bench damage Buzzwolle-GX gets to do. This can prevent the BuzzRoc player from being able to take double knockouts and taking a big lead early on. Cards that can help with this are Magnemite (Ultra Prism 81), Mr. Mime (Generations) and healing cards like Max Potion. In my opinion these cards work best in decks with 60 HP basics that won’t always be able to evolve them on turn two, examples include Magnezone, Gardevoir-GX and Garchomp decks. Playing these cards would prevent the BuzzRoc player from destroying you set-up and taking an early lead, which gives you enough room to build up your strong attackers and overpower them in the mid and late game.

Another way to counter this strategy is to just not play any weak basic Pokémon. Fast decks that don’t run any basics under 100 HP, like Volcanion and Ho-Oh-GX/Kiawe decks usually give BuzzRoc a fair amount of trouble. The early game attacks off Buzzwole-GX are often outclassed by attacks of Volcanion, powered up by steam up, and Ho-Oh-GX after a Kiawe, leading to unfavorable early game trades for the BuzzRoc player. And in the mid and late game their attackers are often as strong as BuzzRoc’s. The one thing that is inferior to BuzzRoc is the draw, as Octillery gives BuzzRoc more options than the Oranguru typically run in those decks.

Decks to Counter BuzzRoc

 

Now that we went over how to counter BuzzRoc let’s go over some decks that can incorporate these strategies:

The ‘I don’t care you’re playing a fighting deck, I still want to play Zoroark-GX’: ZoroPod

60/40

Sure…

It’s kind of weird you want to run a card that is obviously weak to BuzzRoc, but it’s a fun card to play with, so I understand.

In my opinion all Zoroark-GX decks (being played now) have a 40/60 or worse matchup against BuzzRoc, except for one. I think Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX, if built and played correctly, has a positive matchup. Here is the list I would propose if your goal is to beat BuzzRoc:

This deck targets all of BuzzRoc’s weak points pretty effectively: It plays 4 Guzma making it very likely that you will be able to pick of an Octillery or a Rockruff with Energy of the bench. It also targets Energy on the bench by playing both Plumeria and Enhanced Hammer. And it hits BuzzRoc for weakness with both Mew-EX and Golisopod-GX. The only kind of weak point is preventing them from taking early game knockouts. BuzzRoc is going to get 1 or two easy prizes of knocking out Zorua in the early turns. However they should not be able to get a double knockout with their spread damage as this deck has enough outs to prevent that with either Max Potion or by evolving with cards like Evosoda and Ultra Ball. I’ll quickly go over some of my card choices:

Mew-EX over Mewtwo – I feel playing Mew-EX over Mewtwo tips this matchup from being roughly even to being in you favor. A quick Mew-EX can put a stop to the early aggression from BuzzRoc and leads to them having to find a response to it. This often will be a Lycanroc-GX, which you can then counter with your Golisopod-GX, leaving your opponent with not much left and putting you in the lead to close out the match.

1 Mallow – Mallow can be a great help in getting out Mew-EX early on and is therefore a great inclusion for the deck. It changes the method of getting Mew-EX out from hoping to get lucky of your draw supporter to just needing a Tapu Lele-GX and a Trade.

1 Plumeria – As mentioned before, smart BuzzRoc players can play around Enhanced Hammer by putting mainly basic Energy on the field to power up their late game sweepers, but there is no playing around Plumeria. A well timed Plumeria plus a knockout on the active can destroy the board of a BuzzRoc player and make them unable to take the last prizes.

2 Evosoda – 2 Evosoda gives you higher odds of getting your stage one’s out, improving your consistency and this also helps with preventing BuzzRoc from taking double knockouts.

1 Enhanced Hammer – Useful for removing Strong Energy to keep the amount of Energy in play low for BuzzRoc. Also very useful in other matchups for removing Double Colorless Energy. I chose to play the Plumeria over the second Enhanced Hammer as I think it will be useful more often in the BuzzRoc matchup than the second Enhanced Hammer.

1 Max Potion – Can be used to prevent BuzzRoc from taking a double knockout with the spread damage. Can also be used to remove spread damage to mess with KO set-ups BuzzRoc tries to make with Jet Punch, followed by a big attack.

1 Rescue Stretcher – Maybe an odd card in this list, with already Puzzle of Time to recover cards from the discard, but I think this card can be very useful in the BuzzRoc matchup. It can be used to get your one-off Mew-EX back from the discard pile, without having to rely on your Puzzles and it can also be used to get back some of your basics that were knocked out in the early game by Buzzwole-GX.

Game plan against BuzzRoc

As in any matchup you want to start off with a Brigette to get at least 2 Zorua and 1 Wimpod into play. A 3rd Zorua is usually preferred over a 2nd Wimpod as you can expect on Zorua to get knocked out during your opponents turn and you need your draw throughout the game. Attacking with Tapu Lele-GX at this point is not a bad idea as it can put some decent damage on a Buzzwole-GX, without being in too much danger of getting knocked out itself. From there getting a quick knockout on the Buzzwole-GX is important. Also try to get a second Wimpod into play, otherwise a Lycanroc-GX using its GX attack to knock out your only Golisopod-GX can run rampant on your field. If you’re able to do this, you should be able to take your last few prizes on one more GX and then win the game.

The Weakness Warriors: Golisopod-GX/Garbodor

65/35

The old favorite, first popping up at the 2017 World Championships piloted by the Japanese players and having success at the start of the season saw a decrease in popularity in the past few months. However with the release of Ultra Prism and Cynthia this deck got a boost, as consistency, especially late game, was always an issue for the deck. It is also helped by its positive matchup against BuzzRoc and that’s why we are looking at it here. This is the list I would propose you play in a BuzzRoc heavy meta:

Again this deck definitely targets the weak points of BuzzRoc: The Garbotoxin Garbodor shuts off Octillery and Lycanroc-GX, lowering the consistency and the aggressiveness of the BuzzRoc deck. It can target Energy using the 1 Enhanced Hammer. It hits for weakness with Golisopod-GX, Trashalanche Garbodor and Mewtwo. And it doesn’t give up any easy prizes, as it has no basic Pokémon under 70 HP and no GX Pokémon weak to Fighting (excluding Tauros-GX, which most of the time shouldn’t be used in this matchup). Now let’s go over some key cards:

Golisopod-GX – The main attacker in the deck matches up pretty well against Buzzwole-GX and even better against Lycanroc-GX. Your one Energy attack can easily two shot a Buzzwole-GX, while their one Energy attack can’t. When the damage from Jet Punch does get to high, you can use Acerola to heal completely and bring up a fresh Golisopod-GX. Knuckle Impact is scary as it will often knockout a Golisopod with some Jet Punch damage, however this deck has an answer for that:

Mewtwo – Mewtwo is the (early game) Psychic attacker of choice in this deck, as Mew-EX doesn’t work in this deck, because of Garbotoxin. Mewtwo is great for punishing a Buzzwole-GX with too many Energy or to pressure a Buzzwole-GX at the start of the game.

Garbodor (Guardians Rising) – Your late game sweeper in most matchups and it’s no different in this one. With only 5 items in the opponent’s discard pile this card already one-hits a Buzzwole-GX. This will happen faster than you might expect as a BuzzRoc player has to play items to get something going while being pressured by Golisopod-GX and Mewtwo. This makes this card a very potent attacker in the BuzzRoc matchup.

1 Tauros-GX – Tauros-GX doesn’t really help in the BuzzRoc matchup, as it will be knocked out quickly because of its weakness, however more players are playing this card for its utility in other matchups. It can be found easily in the first turns using either Brigette or Heavy Ball and it gives this deck some early game pressure, being able to knock out Pokémon like Zorua and Ralts. It is also very good in the Zoroark-GX matchup as it forces the Zoroark player to play around it or to get knocked out by a Mad Bull GX attack.

10 Draw supporters – The release of Cynthia gives this deck the option of running more than 8 draw supporters, giving it the extra consistency it needed. 10 seems like a good number for now.

Pal Pad – Another card from Ultra Prism that gives this deck some added consistency. Pal Pad allows you to shuffle Supporters back into your deck to give yourself more outs to hit the supporter you need to close out a game.

1 Field Blower – I have also seen lists without any Field Blower, but I think this card deserves its spot in the deck. It does not only remove annoying Tool cards (or Stadium cards, like Parallel City) from play, but in doing so it also boosts the damage output of Garbodor, getting crucial knockouts you might have otherwise missed.

Game plan against BuzzRoc

The game plan against BuzzRoc is fairly similar to your game plan in other matchups. Get a fast First Impression of, while shutting of abilities with Garbodor. Continue using First Impression using cards like Acerola and Guzma and be ready to counter a big Buzzwole-GX with your Mewtwo and then take the last few prizes using your powered up Trashalanche attack.

Fighting Fighting with Fire: Ho-Oh-GX/Kiawe

55/45

This is one of the most aggressive decks in the format, hitting for 180 or more damage using Ho-Oh-GX’s Phoenix Burn attack from as early as turn 2, after a turn 1 Kiawe. It has been performing pretty consistently, making day 2 of every major tournament in 2018. And it is not a deck I like to face when playing BuzzRoc. Let’s look at a list:

This deck differs from how it beats BuzzRoc from the two decks discussed before: The only weak point it targets is preventing early knockouts by playing no low-HP basics. It can get away with this because of its aggression, which matches and sometimes even exceeds BuzzRoc’s. Because of this I feel it has a positive matchup against BuzzRoc. The list is pretty standard, but I’ll go over some of the card choices:

4 Tapu Lele-GX – This gives you a lot of outs to the turn one Kiawe. It is preferred over the 4th Kiawe as Tapu Lele-GX is also great in the late game to search the game winning Guzma.

1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX – This card combined with a Float Stone can reset Ho-Oh-GX’s Phoenix Burn attack, without using Guzma, and thus allows you to hit the your opponent’s active two turns in a row with the same Ho-Oh-GX.

Max Elixir – The list that made top 8 in Malmo opted not to play Max Elixir, but I feel it’s needed in the deck. It helps you to keep up with BuzzRoc if they’re hitting their Max Elixirs and it can help you recover from missing the turn one Kiawe.

Game plan against BuzzRoc

The strategy that’s most effective against BuzzRoc is to go first, unfortunately this is not in your hand. The overarching strategy is to get as many Energy into play as fast as possible and to use your attackers and Guzma’s to remove BuzzRoc’s Energy. This is obviously easier if you go first but can also be done when you go second, only then BuzzRoc often has the Energy advantage. Be careful of not playing into Dangerous Rogue GX and watch out for an early Absorption GX removing most of your Energy. Some BuzzRoc decks also include a Sudowoodo, which is also dangerous if it’s able to copy Phoenix Burn, so watch out for that. 

Conclusion

 

Of course these are not the only decks in the format that can beat BuzzRoc. Other decks, like Espeon-GX/Garbodor also have a positive matchup against it, but, from looking at tournament results, I feel like the decks I mentioned perform better in the meta overall and are therefore a better choice.

In conclusion, I feel that BuzzRoc is the best deck in the standard format at this time, but it is definitely not unbeatable. I pointed out the weak points of the deck and gave you three lists that can target those weak points and in my opinion have a positive matchup over BuzzRoc. I hope this helps you in building your deck for your next standard tournament and this helps you in performing better against BuzzRoc.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter @PokeBert1, where I talk about my tournaments and usually post my lists after a tournament. Also feel free to message me there if you have any questions.

Thanks for reading!

[+19] okko


 

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