Experts' corner

Chris Fulop

A Forbidden Spotlight On Madison

Madison Regionals Left Standard With A Best Deck And A Few Fun Surprises! PLUS! A Bad Deck!

06/08/2018 by Chris Fulop

Hello again everyone!

There have been a number of major tournaments since I last wrote an article, so I have a lot to discuss! I also want to examine a deck I put a lot of time and effort into the past month or so that ended up actually being a bit of a bust, to my chagrin. I still feel that there is something to the concept, and have not given up on it yet. Beyond that, there is still a lot to be learned even in failure.

Virginia Regionals is in the books, and it was won by Xander Pero using a Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) deck. It is pretty telling when a deck that is dominating Standard ( Spoiler ) is also taking down an Expanded Regionals. I don't find this particularly surprising though. Buzzwole had a big target on it's head going into the event as the expected "best deck," and it delivered. Coming in second was Wailord, of all things. I did not get to watch the Finals play out, but that matchup feels really poor for Buzzwole, so congratulations to Xander for being able to navigate the match into a win.

In my last article I mentioned I was personally a fan of Trevenant, as it is strong against Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  while its weaker matchups were likely going to get pushed from the metagame due to Buzz's presence. Pretty much all of this happened, and Trevenant managed to place 8 players into the top 32. In addition, it put 3 copies into the top 8, although they all lost in the Quarterfinals. I know one fell to Ryne Morgan's Zoroark deck, and I believe another fell to Wailord.

Looking over the lists from the top 32, I actually still prefer my list from my last article over the ones which placed at the tournament. That said, of the lists played, I like Charlie Lockyer's the most. ( Matthew Whitted also made day 2 with a very similar list, opting for a 3/1 Cynthia/Sycamore split opposed to Charlie's 2/2. )

I like the addition of Guzma (BUS; 115) ! I've been a big fan of Counter Catcher in the deck, and Guzma is a less conditional source of the effect that can be searched for with Tapu Lele-GX and re-used with VS Seeker. As I tested my list with Counter Energy and Counter Catcher, my opponents started to adapt and actually bench Exeggcutes to "gift" me prizes to keep the prizes tied. I was certainly still thrilled with that result, but having Guzma feels really strong. I also really like his choice to play a heavier count of Ultra Ball alongside the mandatory set of Mysterious Treasure. Admittedly, discarding cards is very far from free in this deck, but being able to grab a Tapu Lele puts Ultra Ball above its competition. You want at least 2 copies. I still prefer at least some amount of Counter Energy in this deck, but otherwise I am really happy with this list.

I don't want to dwell too much on Expanded though, as things are really starting to heat up in Standard right now. The Regionals in Madison, Wisconsin took place this past weekend, and the results are very, very telling. The Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  hype is very much well deserved. Previous tournaments, including Special Events, suggested that Malamar (FLI; 51) /Necrozma decks were at the forefront of the metagame. ( Both builds using normal Necrozma, and Ultra Necrozma had a lot of success. ) I was a little surprised by this because while I did assume that Malamar would be a tier 1 deck, I didn't expect it to have such a strong showing out of the gate. In Madison, it was very clear cut that Buzzwole was far and aware the best deck.

First Place: Buzzwole

Igor Costa won his 1522636th Regional Championship ( and 3rd this year! ) with the following list:

This is quite a bit different than the initial "Stock" list for Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) /Beast Ring going into the event, although you wouldn't realize it by looking at the Trainers. The Energy is a bit interesting, in that Igor went with a very high FIFTEEN Energy cards. Prior to the printing of Beast Energy, the norm was to run 10 Fighting Energy and 4 Strong Energy due to Max Elixir. Now, the norm is to run 14 Energy, either trimming the 10th Fighting for the Beast Energy, or by actually going down to 3 Strong Energy ( effectively upgrading a Strong ) in order to keep the Elixir odds in tact. Igor just bumped the Energy count up by one, which I do like. There are some cards he skimped on to fit it that I may not be happy about, though.

Before touching on the Pokémon, which is where the real innovation is, I want to briefly touch on the Trainers. This is an extremely standard assortment of cards, with the only change from the expanded being cutting the 4th Choice Band from the list. This feels totally fine to me. 4 was bordering on overkill, and the deck usually does enough damage that it is either safely one hitting a Pokemon, or two hitting it. Choice Band does bump a two hit KO into a one hit every so often, but probably not enough to justify the 4th anymore. The Pokémon selection impacts this decision as well.

The BIG change here is that Igor ( and a lot of other to players at the event: Caleb Gedemer. Joey Ruettiger. Jimmy Pendarvis. Michael Pramawat. Xander Pero. Sam Chen. Ryan Sablehaus.) only ran 2 Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) ! On top of this, the lists ran 3 baby Buzzwole! This is a major shift from the approach a traditional build takes. On the surface, it is easy to write off Buzzwole as a tech attacker exclusively used when the opponent drops to specifically 4 Prize Cards. Buzzwole is a lot stronger than that though. It is a 130 HP one prize attacker that deals 30 damage for one energy as it's FLOOR. While you don't get the bench damage like you do off Jet Punch, it's base damage is the same. As is the case with Fighting Pokemon in general, you get all of the bonus damage from your Energy cards, as well as Diancie Prism Star, and in this case, Regirock EX as well. Buzzwole is very good at two hitting bigger Pokemon. Think of it along the lines of baby Volcanion.

Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) 's second attack is also potent! It is clearly worse than Buzzwole-GX's bigger attackers, but it can be powered up wit Max Elixir and Beast Ring just as easily. Assuming you have a Strong Energy, Diance and Regirock, and a Choice Band on it, Buzzwole is doing a base 160 damage! If the Energy is a Beast Energy, that is 170. This is BEFORE any coin flips, where you can get up to 40 additional damage. Yes, Buzzwole GX does more damage, but Buzzwole only gives up one prize card! You can leverage a favorable prize exchange game here easily. Even in scenarios where Buzzwole may come up slightly short on one hit KOs, it will leave something crippled for Jet Punch later on in many cases.

There are really only 3 decks at the moment: Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , Malamar (FLI; 51) , and Zoroark/v. ( The 4th best option would be Greninja. ) Buzzwole is already favorable against Zoroark. When dealing with the mirror match and Malamar (FLI; 51) , often times the game devolves into a series of OHKOs between GX cards. Since you really only have to worry about these decks, inbreeding Buzzwole a bit to focus on having a strong game with one prize attackers is worth it. I would not be surprised at all if this shift played a major part in pushing the Buzzwole decks overtop of the Malamar decks.

Igor went very dangerous with his Stage 1 Pokemon lines here, but that doesn't surprise me one bit since he was well known for his 2/1 Garbodor line in previous seasons. He ran a 1-1 Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  line and a 1-1 Octillery line, which I guess is the price you pay to fit the 15th Energy and the Regirock-EX. I'm honestly not convinced Lycanroc is even mandatory in these decks anymore, as I feel like people have just kept the deck fairly similar to the pre-Forbidden Light Buzz Roc builds. I am not against the cards, I just think the deck has enough raw power that it may not be needed.

Back to Basics Buzzwole

While most of the top placing lists embraced this new baby Buzz game plan, Will Mantho, the number one seed at 33 points going into round 14 of the tournament ( I believe he entered Top 8 as the top seed but cannot confirm this. ) ran a very stock list of Buzz Roc.

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