Experts' corner

Jose Marrero

Back-to-Back League Cup Wins in Both Standard and Expanded

Jose analyzes his back-to-back League Cup wins in both formats.

01/19/2018 by Jose Marrero

Two Winning Decks

Hey there, 60cards readers! I'm back once again with another article; I'll be examining the two decks I used to win back-to-back League Cups in both the Standard and Expanded formats. First, I'd like to start things off with my most recent League Cup win in the Standard format with Peter Kica's Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX list. I had seen that Peter posted his list on Twitter and the night before the League Cup I was fairly certain I was going to play Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX. After doing some research and remembering my local meta, I felt that playing Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX wasn't quite the play after all, especially when it was coming off a fresh Regionals win. I knew most players would have that deck on their radar and were ready to counter it. Now, there aren't too many counter decks to Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX, though I knew players like playing Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX in my area, especially since it won the last Standard League Cup.

I decided to give Peter a message the night before the League Cup and talk to him a bit about the deck and why he played certain cards. Ultimately I agreed with everything Peter said, and decided to essentially YOLO it and play his exact same 60. Mind you, I never played the deck in my life nor on PTCGO, so I decided to wing it. In the end, my deck choice paid off. I've played against Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX a number of times, so that's why I felt comfortable playing it because I knew it's strengths and weaknesses even though I never played the deck before. You don't necessarily have to play a deck to know how it works as I've proven and I'm sure many others have as well. A lot of it comes down to common sense and knowing what the deck can and can't do and if you play against a deck enough times you can master it without playing a single game with the deck. 

Next, I'll transition into the Expanded format where I won a League Cup with Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX. The list I used was three cards shy of teammate Jon Eng's Top 16 San Jose list. My area had two Expanded League Cups back to back. At first, I was pretty sure I'd play Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX because it's still phenomenal in Expanded. I had been testing Trevenant as well. The night before, Trevenant kept giving me problems so I dropped it. I also did not want to play the Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX mirror all day so I dropped it as well. Eventually, I stumbled upon Jon Eng's Top 16 San Jose list and decided on Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX because it can stand up against Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX. I too messaged Jon about his list and went from there. There were a couple cards I wanted in the deck such as Ghetsis and Hex Maniac, so I added those in. These League Cup wins now put me at a solid 430/400 CP. This invite makes my 6th consecutive which is awesome.

With that said, shout out again to Peter Kica and teammate Jon Eng for helping me cap my League Cups for the second quarter.

The Beetle and the Guardian Deity

Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX Standard

4-0-3 Vikavolt

Most lists play either a 3-1-3 or 3-0-3 line of Vikavolt. However, with the absence of Brigette, it's best to play four copies of Grubbin--this way you Lillie into them or start with one if you have to. Vikavolt can be used as an attacker as well if you have to because it can do 180 damage with a Choice Band. That's enough to one-hit KO a Tapu Lele-GX. Even the base 150 damage can take out smaller Pokémon if needed. Its Strong Charge ability is the bread and butter of the deck and without it, the deck doesn't function. Its how you power up Tapu Bulu-GX for lethal KO's. 

4 Tapu Bulu-GX

Tapu Bulu-GX is the main attacker of the deck. Another smart thing Peter did was playing four copies of Tapu Bulu-GX. This makes perfect sense because the deck doesn't play Brigette meaning you will have to Lillie into them on the first turn. By playing four means you are more likely to open with one as well. Its Nature's Judgement attack is what you use the most because it can do 180 damage or 210 with a Choice Band consecutively. Tapu Wilderness GX is situational for when you believe you will be KO'd next turn. You can even use it to one-hit KO a Pokémon while saving the energy for next turn to use Nature's Judgment.

1 Oranguru

I liked the idea of Oranguru over Octillery or Zoroark-GX as the deck's means of draw because it's easier and faster to get out. You can also use it as an attacker if needed, unlike Octillery.

4 Guzma

I can see going down to three Guzma, though four felt nice because you could afford to toss a couple away if you had to, since you know you play four anyway. 

2 Lillie

Peter chose to go with Lillie over Brigette. You may think that's odd until you try the change yourself. Lillie makes it so that you have a more playable hand on the first turn. Whereas if you have to Brigette, then you may not have anything after that and may just have to opt to N and pray you draw what you are looking for. At least with Lillie, you net eight cards instead of six with N.

2 Skyla

Great card for searching out Rare Candy, Choice Band, and Heavy/Ultra Ball. These cards are what you most likely will be using Skyla for, depending on the situation.

4 Rare Candy

Even if you played Charjabug you would still want to play four copies of Rare Candy. Once you find Rare Candy and Vikavolt, it's clobbering time.

4 Choice Band

Another card you absolutely have to play four copies of. You want to make sure you have 210 damage ready at your disposal when needed most. You can Skya for Choice Band if you need to. Making sure you one hit KO Zoroark-GX, and Golisopod-GX is crucial to the deck's success.

2 Field Blower

If you expect a fair amount of Garbotoxin, then I recommend you at least go up to three Field Blower. Parallel City and Fighting Fury Belt can be annoying as well.

2 Heavy Ball/1 Nest Ball

I felt this count was solid. Nest Ball gives you Grubbin, Tapu Bulu-GX, and Oranguru while Heavy Ball nets you Tapu Bulu-GX and Vikavolt.

2 Energy Recycler/1 Super Rod

This count was perfect and Peter was smart to add in the Super Rod, I rarely had to discard them because of Lillie and N. The opponent doesn't expect three ways to get back energy until now. You shouldn't have trouble getting energy back with two Energy Recycler and a Super Rod.

Other card options


A lot of decks in Standard rely on Special Energy making Xurkitree-GX effective. However, I'd much rather just one hit KO most Pokémon which is why I prefer the Tapu Bulu-GX route. Lighting GX is pretty cool but let's be honest it's nowhere near as good as Tapu Wilderness GX.


If you don't like Oranguru or Octillery then Zoroark-GX is another draw engine you can go with. You will definitely want to play Brigette if you go this route. Realistically you can Mallow for a turn two Vikavolt, though I think Peter's build is more effective in achieving that.

Mew FCO 29

Great card against the mirror and Buzzwole-GX, though I feel it's unnecessary and can be a liability with its low hit points.

Octillery BKT 33

Peter decided to go with Oranguru over Octillery. I like this because you can get Oranguru anytime you want and by playing Oranguru you have more cards you can play around with since Octillery is a stage 1. You can also Nest Ball for a quick Oranguru if you want to.

Tapu Koko Promo

Flying Flip can setup KOs against Gardevoir-GX because now you can do 210 to finish them off not needing Professor Kukui. The free retreat can also come in the clutch as well as it's Electric Ball attack if you are just trying to KO something small and not care about the one prize trade.

Clefairy EVO 63

This card can be great in the mirror because you trade one for two prizes and even against Gardevoir-GX because you can copy Infinite Force for a potential two prizes.

Charjabug SUM 51

If you have to rely on Charjabug then you are doing it wrong because most times if you don't get a turn two or three Vikavolt you are going to be in a rough spot. The only deck that plays Espeon-EX is Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX, which seems to have died down a bit anyway.


I almost dropped one Lillie for a Brigette but then I said, eh, I'll just play Peter's same 60 and see how it goes. Honestly, there was probably only one time where Brigette was better than Lillie. I didn't really miss Brigette at all because Lillie gives you eight cards on the first turn and it's likely that you will find a Grubbin or two anyway. Plus your hand is now more playable with other cards because you filled your hand to eight. I think I only missed a turn two Vikavolt once or twice and one time was because I didn't get a turn one Grubbin, though I still won that game.

Professor Kukui

My area doesn't like Gardevoir-GX that much so I decided against Professor Kukui, though its effective against Buzzwole-GX as well. If you expect a lot of Gardevoir-GX then you might want to add a couple Professor Kukui or simply chose a different deck to be honest.

Float Stone

There may be times where you need a free retreater in case your attacker was KOed and you don't already have an energy on a one retreater or another Tapu Bulu-GX on the bench. These scenarios are pretty rare which is why Peter likely didn't play any Float Stones. You can Guzma into an another Tapu Bulu-GX if you have to.

Brief tournament report

Round 1- Decidueye-GX/Zoroark-GX: W

Round 2- Justin Lambert - Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX: W

Round 3- Tony Santos - Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX: W

Round 4- David Cooper - Golisopod-GX/Garbodor: ID

Round 5- Aaron Rucker - Greninja: W

Round 6- Brandon Salazar - Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX: ID

Top 8- Tye Pellecchia - Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX: WW

Top 4- Peter Nemeth - Volcanion: WW

Finals- Brandon Salazar - Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX: WLW

Final record- 10-1-2

The Arthropod and the Fox

Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX Expanded

4-3-1 Zoroark-GX

This is the deck's main source of power, though Golisopod-GX can be more powerful in the right situation. I know Jon Eng's list ran four copies of Zoroark-GX, though I felt like three was fine when playing the deck. Trade and Riotous Beating are what makes Zoroark-GX such a versatile card. You can literally put Zoroark-GX in anything and make it work if you try hard enough. In this build, however, your damage is limited because it doesn't play Sky Field. This is okay because you can just let the opponent play theirs down and if they do you can Mind Jack for a lethal KO. Stand In in conjunction with First Impression is nice, though most times you are likely going to want to Acerola and deny prizes.

3-2 Golisopod-GX

Similar to Standard, a thin line of Golisopod-GX is all you really need and is the deck's secondary or main attacker, depending on the matchup. You can use Acerola to heal and reuse them if needed. First Impression and Crossing Cut GX are great attacks. Armor Press can be more effective depending on the situation, for example, against Night March. Reducing 20 damage next turn can be crucial for denying a one-hit KO and fueling Oricorio even more. Its Grass typing helps against Lycanroc-GX, Seismitoad-EX, and even Wailord-EX.

1 Mew-EX

The only reason I added Mew-EX was because at my League Cups I knew there were multiple players playing Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX even in Expanded. Mew-EX is cuttable for Dallas because that's a bigger field than just a League Cup and plus Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX isn't popular in Expanded. I'll likely drop it for something else before Dallas comes around.

1 Exeggcute PLF 4

Being able to use Ultra Ball or Computer Search for just one card is too good to pass up. You can also freely use Trade and not have to discard any resources if you don't want to because you can keep getting back Exeggcute after each Trade.

1 Sudowoodo GRI 66

This card is needed so that opposing Zoroark-GXs don't steamroll you. It will come down to a two-shot war and whoever has more Acerolas. If the opponent plays Alolan Muk then you have to either take it down quick or play around it. Once the opponent takes a KO on your Zoroark-GX or Golisopod-GX because of Alolan Muk then you revenge KO them with Mind Jack and go from there. You can also Armor Press because they can't one-hit KO you even with a full bench.

1 Oricorio GRI 56

This card is the deck's main answer to Night March or Vespiquen decks. You have to use Supernatural Dance at a good time or else it won't be as effective. There are two scenarios where Oricorio shines the most. First, if you can take multiple KO's on the same turn. Secondly, to make it so that the opponent only has non-Night Marchers on the field this way they need a Float Stone or Guzma to have a response back. Don't forget, you can use Supernatural Dance for free if the opponent has Dimension Valley in play. 

2 Professor Sycamore

Similar to the Standard build, you don't want to have to discard too many resources--mainly Puzzles of Time. This is particularly why the deck plays just two copies of Professor Sycamore. More so now, since VS Seekers can get them back anyway.

2 N

I think two N is fine because you can just use Tapu Lele-GX to find the first one, and from there you just use VS Seeker, or Puzzles of Time if you need to use another.

2 Brigette

I know Jon Eng's list ran three Brigette, though I feel like two is enough. I wanted that extra spot to be another supporter so I added in Hex Maniac. I wanted to have plenty of turn one supporter options, so I added in Hex Maniac and Ghetsis. You have to choose wisely on which is best to use on the first turn.

2 Guzma

The deck plays four VS Seekers so you don't have to play four Guzma anyway like in Standard. This way you now have more ways to use Guzma.

2 Acerola

Most Zoroark-GX builds play one copy of Acerola meaning you have the ability to out heal them if you use your Puzzles of Time wisely. I can even see going up to three Acerola because this build doesn't play Sky Field meaning you are going for two shots anyway.

1 Colress

I know Jon Eng ran two Colress in his build. I decided to cut one for Ghetsis for two reasons. If you open with Colress it's usually not good. I can open Ghetsis and hopefully steal a game. Ghetsis is essentially a draw supporter anyway if you really think about it and plus It'll be rare for you not to get at least one card off of it.

1 Ghetsis

I know Jon Eng's Top 16 list from San Jose didn't play this card. Ghetsis is more of a luxury card than anything and it can steal games on the first turn if lucky enough. Still, I maybe used it once or twice in the both League Cups I played. Now, this is because I either had to get Brigette or I didn't have access to Ghetsis going first. There were times where I wish I had opened with a way to Ghetsis on the first turn but I just didn't have it. Another thing about Ghetsis is that it doesn't always have to be effective on the first turn because a well-timed mid to late game Ghetsis can be devastating for the opponent as well. Still, for now I'll keep it in because it can cripple Sableye/Garbodor.

1 Hex Maniac

This is another supporter that Jon Eng's Top 16 San Jose list did not play. Trevenant has now been seeing more play and it may see a resurgence in play at Dallas Regionals. Hex Maniac not only is effective against Trevenant but a well-timed Hex Maniac can be crucial for the opponent. A lot of decks are relying on Trade and Shaymin-EX, so having Hex Maniac shutting those off can be detrimental.

1 Mallow

I prefer Mallow over Teammates because Mallow can immediately get you the two cards you need. Whereas Teammates you have to wait to be KOed. The only downside to Trade over Teammates is that Trade can be stopped with Hex Maniac or Garbotoxin, though I still think Mallow is the more effective card.

4 VS Seeker

Obviously, in Expanded you can now use VS Seeker and in most cases, you are going to want to play four. This way you can now trim down your supporter counts and go from there. You can use Guzma, and Acerola a handful of times if you have to.

4 Puzzle of Time

Too good not to play in this deck. Having the option to reuse resources such as your one-ofs is nice to have. If you need that second or third Field Blower or Enhanced Hammer is where Puzzles of Time truly shines.

2 Choice Band

This deck you are likely two hit KOing Pokémon meaning you don't need as many Choice Band because it doesn't give you that much of a damage boost in this build. The only relevant attack is Crossing Cut GX so you can do 180 damage. You can only use it once though and the only other relevant attack is Mind Jack. You can always use Puzzles of Time if you need to get them back.

2 Float Stone

Even though the Standard builds of Golisopod-GX/Zoroark don't run Float Stone you need them in Expanded for sure. This is mainly due to cards such as Hypnotoxic Laser. Having a Float Stone on the Mind Jack Zoroark gives you more flexibility for when you alternate between attackers. Making sure you refresh First Impression is important as well.

1 Enhanced Hammer

Unlike in Standard, this deck plays just one copy of Enhanced Hammer. This is because in Expanded there aren't as many decks that rely too heavily on Special Energy and also because Expanded gives a wider range of cards means you have to make room for non-standard cards.

1 Field Blower

You still need to have at least one Field Blower in Expanded because there are still Garbodor decks out there. Also getting rid of Tools and Stadiums such as Fighting Fury Belt, and Parallel City can be crucial.

1 Rescue Stretcher

Getting back Oricorio, Zoroark-GX or whatever Pokémon you need at the time straight to the hand can be crucial at times, so that is why Rescue Stretcher triumphs over Super Rod in this build. 

1 Computer Search

When playing a deck that plays Double Colorless Energy it's usually wise to play Computer Search unless it's a deck like Night March. Being able to search out energy or whatever card you want is why Computer Search is the best Ace Spec for most decks. With Exeggcute you only have to discard one card to use it. If you need a Grass Energy then you can search it out as well.

Other card options

Seismitoad-EX + Karen

The deck plays Oricorio to combat Night March, though I believe the combo above is more effective because Item lock can deny their Battle Compressors and Puzzle of Time. You have to play differently when playing Oricorio. Armor Press and Mind Jack are how you want to combat Night March. This way you force them to discard more Night Marchers so that Oricorio can be more devastating for them. If you go with Zoroark-GX then they will just use Marshadow-GX meaning they don't need as many Night Marchers in the discard.

Zoroark BLW 71

Its Foul Play attack can be game changing in certain situations, though I don't think it is a necessity in this build. Being able to copy an opponent's GX attack such as Dangerous Rogue GX can be great and all, however, Golisopod-GX handles Lycanroc-GX pretty well anyway. Crossing Cut GX is too good to pass up on and Mind Jack is needed to help combat LonZo and Night March while Foul Play doesn't help much in those matchups.

Tapu Koko Promo

Great card if you expect Gyarados decks to see more play after it's success at San Jose Regionals. Flying Flip in conjunction with Hex Maniac will cripple them and make for an easy win. Oricorio doesn't help as much because they can just play around it and use Rescue Stretcher to put back their Pokémon. The free retreat Tapu Koko provides is also great in case you can't find a Float Stone to go into after you Acerola or Guzma.

Battle Compressor

Getting Supporters and Exeggcute into the discard pile is nice so you can have targets with VS Seeker and having Propagation means that you don't have to discard as many resources. 

Special Charge

Honestly, if you use Double Colorless Energy wisely you shouldn't need Special Charge. Let's not forget the deck also plays three Basic Energy. Golisopod-GX thrives on its first attack, First Impression meaning it doesn't care for Double Colorless Energy most times.


This card helps find your evolutions more consistently, though I don't think they are a necessity in this deck.

Brief tournament report

Round 1- Buzzwole-GX/Landorus-EX/Lycanroc-GX: W

Round 2- Charlie Kerr - Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers: W

Round 3- Franco Llamas - Night March/Zoroark-GX: W

Round 4- Bret Burns - Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers: ID

Round 5- Darian Nigro - Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers: ID

Top 8- Isaac Milaski - Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers: WW

Top 4- David Cooper - LonZoroark-GX: WW

Finals- Bret Burns - Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers: Opp scooped because we all wanted to leave early for new years and plus I had bested every Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX/Lasers I faced anyway.

Final record- 7-0-2

Closing Thoughts

That will conclude this article on my back-to-back League Cup wins in both formats. Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX has been getting a lot more play lately due to players like Peter Kica. From playing the deck for the first time it's no wonder it's a force to be reckoned with. The deck is extremely powerful once you get a Vikavolt on the board. From there it's just hitting and finding Choice Band when needed most. I wouldn't be surprised if there were a swarm of them at the Oceania International Championships in Sydney, Australia come next month. First, comes Dallas Regionals at the end of the month, though it's in the Expanded format. I personally think Golisopod-GX/Zoroark-GX is one of the strongest deck choices for it. Especially after the hype Seismitoad-EX/Zoroark-GX has been getting lately. If you see me in Dallas, don't be shy, and come say hello. If you are playing in the main event, then I hope the best for you.

If you want to help support my team, be sure to check out Team ARG's Pokémon page on Facebook: "Team ARG Pokémon-TCG." There you can keep up to date with all the players on the team. My Twitter handle is down below if you want to follow me.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook. I'll be sure to get to them as soon as possible.

As always, if you enjoyed reading this article, then please consider giving it a thumbs up. If you want to see a specific type of article or topic next time, don't hesitate to give me ideas down below, and I'll consider them. As always, keep an eye out for more articles to come. Until next time!

-Twitter @Jose_MarreroTCG


[+15] okko


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