Experts' corner

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Zach Lesage

Mosquitoes, Garbage, Foxes, and Dogs - This is Pokemon!

Zach goes over his recent success in Standard and his current play for Dallas Regionals!

01/24/2018 by Zach Lesage

Two Formats - What’s Good

Hey 60 Cards readers, I hope you have enjoyed all of your Holidays and that you had some time to play test some Pokémon! The next major tournament will be in Dallas, Texas and it is an Expanded tournament; luckily for us, we can quickly look at the San Jose, California results from November. In this article, I will briefly go over two interesting concepts; one in Standard and the other in Expanded. Both of these concepts are extremely strong in their respective format and are great choices heading into your next event. While it is fun to create interesting decks, sometimes it is best to pick one of the format front-runners and just run with it - no looking back! Let’s jump into some Standard talk right now:

Table of contents

Two Formats - What’s Good

Standard Talk - League Cups and Australia

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor Standard List

Card Explanations

Expanded Talk - Dallas

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX Expanded List

Card Explanations

Dallas: Here I Come

Standard Talk - League Cups and Australia

So whether you are heading to Dallas or not, you are probably playing at League Cups and they are likely being played in our Standard format. After Memphis, the meta game has taken a turn for Zoroark-GX decks, Greninja BREAK, Buzzwole-GX decks, Golisopod-GX decks and I have recently seen an upswing of Xerneas BREAK decks having success. The standard meta game feels heavily diversified, but that doesn’t mean newer decks can emerge. After talking to my friend Frank Percic, I decided to use his Memphis Regional list for Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor to try my hand at a local League Cup. While I ended up bubbling at 9th place, I still got points and successfully earned my invite to Worlds! Let’s look at the list that I played at the League Cup right here:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor Standard List

 

Card Explanations

I will go over cards in the deck list to explain how they should work in a real-life setting! Not all cards are included. Cards such as Ultra Ball will not be mentioned because they are included in almost every competitive deck!

Three Buzzwole-GX

Buzzwole-GX is a Basic Pokémon with plenty of HP that can withstand a few blows from most opposing Pokémon. It has a decent type advantage over some fairly popular Pokémon such as Drampa-GX, Tapu Koko, Zoroark-GX and Sylvally-GX. Some of those Pokémon are Evolution Pokémon, meaning that Buzzwole can do some extra damage to their Basic forms such as Zorua and Type: Null too! In this deck, we will mostly be using Buzzwole-GX for its Jet Punch attack. Jet Punch pays homage to Landorus-EX from Boundaries Crossed and this attack stays true to the original strength of that card! As I stated above, this card has the power to Knock Out Pokémon such as Zorua in only one hit! However, the card does not stop its rampage there; it can often do much more. With damage modifying support such as Fighting Fury Belt and Strong Energy, it is possible for Buzzwole-GX to Knock Out many other Pokémon for a single Energy. Let’s look at some quick math:

Let’s look at some quick math:

Jet Punch base damage = 30 damage to the Active Pokémon in total

Attach a Strong Energy = 50 damage to the Active Pokémon in total

Attach a Fighting Fury Belt = 60 damage to the Active Pokémon in total

Attach another Strong Energy = 80 damage to the Active Pokémon in total

This deck focuses on doing chip damage over and over instead of focusing on Knuckle Impact or Absorption GX.

Two Garbodor GRI 

This card functions as a back-up threat against our opponent to wait and see if they play enough Items to fall into a Knock Out from Trashalanche.

Two Garbodor BKP and Four Float Stone

Garbodor BKP is used to combat many different Pokémon in the format that have some worry-some Abilities. Here are some of the most common Pokémon with Abilities that you will see in your League Cups:

Octillery BKT

Gardevoir-GX BUS

Oranguru SUM

Tapu Lele-GX GRI

Alolan Ninetales BUS

Hoopa SLG

Mr. Mime GEN

Volcanion-EX STS

Zoroark-GX SLG

Zoroark BKT

All of these Pokémon have Abilities that can win entire games on their own so being able to shut them off with Garbotoxin is going to be a huge deal. If you look at the most popular archetype, Gardevoir-GX, you can shut off their Ability to draw, their Ability to attach extra Energy cards, and their Ability to search their deck for Supporter Cards. Well, what is left? They can attack with a moderately useful Infinite Force on a Stage 2 Pokémon. That being said, Garbodor BKP wins games through its hard lock on your opponent. We play four Float Stone in this deck to 

One Espeon-EX

As with most decks that have a spread aspect, De-Evolution will always be a popular option in the deck. That being said, Espeon-EX is the best vessel for De-Evolution in the game right now. Espeon-EX De-evolves all Pokémon on your opponent’s board which means you can do some solid chip damage with Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch attack, apply spread damage, and use Espeon-EX to possibly take multiple Prize Cards.

Two Parallel City

This card can be used to limit our opponents Bench in match-ups such as Xerneas BREAK or we can use it to discard heavily damaged Pokémon on your Bench.

One Lillie

With the limited selection of support we have in the current card pool, Lillie is often the ninth draw Supporter in most decks that need a boost in consistency.

Four Fighting Fury Belt and Four Strong Energy

In our current Standard format, cards such as Field Blower are often not fully utilized because they are currently being played at minimal counts. This is a huge plus for passive cards such as Fighting Fury Belt because it means the card will stick on our Pokémon for more turns. In this deck, we are using the Fighting Fury Belts more for the extra HP - the ten extra damage is a more of a side effect. However, with four Strong Energy, we can often do enough damage to get in a 2HKO or 3HKO on some popular Pokémon.

Expanded Talk - Dallas

I have been testing for Dallas for over a month now and it has been a headache to say the least. I have gone full circle now, Zoroark-GX decks, random lock concepts, and now I have fallen back into playing Zoroark-GX decks again. The format has revolved around Zoroark-GX, ever since the release of Shining Legends, and there are very few notable cards to stand in its opposition. These cards are:

Ninetales PRC - To block Stadiums

Sudowoodo GRI - To block large amounts of Benched Pokémon from being played

Barbaracle FCO - To block Special Energy

Lycanroc-GX GRI - To Knock Out Zoroark-GX

Alolan Muk - To block Abilities of Basic Pokémon from being used

In my Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX deck, I actually use a few Zoroark-GX counters to make the deck have a decent match-up versus most Zoroark-GX based decks. The biggest issue is, most Zoroark-GX decks are taking the same idea as me and they are also including many of the same counters that I included in my own list. This is the new deck on the block and it takes the resemblance of a consistent M Rayquaza-EX deck mixed with some crazy techs! Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating creates waves in this deck by combining with Sky Field to do massive amounts of damage! With Sky Field, the deck can do 180 damage and can do 210 damage if you have a Choice Band attached. At this point, we also need to recognize that Zoroark-GX can use its Trade Ability over and over to draw important cards from the deck. Furthermore, between having all of these techs and Zoroark BLW, you have many different attacking options that you can use at your own will throughout the game. Did I mention Alolan Muk yet? The Alolan Muk in his deck allows you to block all Abilities from Basic Pokémon - something that is recommended only after you have a few Zoroark-GX on your board. Overall, this deck is powerful, has locking capabilities, and the deck is extremely versatile. Let’s check out my list right now:

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX Expanded List

 

Card Explanations

I will go over cards in the deck list to explain how they should work in a real-life setting! Not all cards are included, such as Professor Juniper, because it is included in almost every competitive Expanded deck!

Four Zoroark-GX

The main attacker of this deck and the consistency backbone of this deck; two for one! I think this card is quite important going forward so let’s check out this card in a little bit more detail:

Zoroark-GX 210 HP (D)

Zoroark-GX is a bulky Stage One Pokémon due to its medium-high HP that can withstand a few blows from most opposing Pokémon. It does have a decent type advantage against some Psychic (Ghost)-type Pokémon such as Trevenant BREAK so it can be slightly useful there.

Ability: Trade

Once during your turn (before your attack), you may discard a card from your hand. If you do, draw 2 cards.

Trade makes this card splash-able in almost any deck that can warrant the space. In Expanded, we double up on the use by discarding Supporters or Darkrai-GX to get back later on in the game. You often don’t need to worry about searching for whatever you need during a game because you can use up to four Trade abilities per turn.

(C)(C) Riotous Beating 20x

This attack does 20 damage for each of your Pokémon in play.

In this deck, this is the attack that we will be using for the most of the game. Riotous Beating, in Standard, is a mediocre attack that caps at 150 damage (not including Weakness); in Expanded, Riotous Beating can cap at 210 damage due to Sky Field. The change of 60 damage makes this card a viable standalone attacker and it can Knock Out quite a few powerful Pokémon. Let’s see how its damage adds up:

One Pokémon in Play = 20 x 1 = 20 damage

Two Pokémon in Play = 20 x 2 = 40 damage

Three Pokémon in Play = 20 x 3 = 60 damage

Four Pokémon in Play = 20 x 4 = 80 damage

Five Pokémon in Play = 20 x 5 = 100 damage

Six Pokémon in Play = 20 x 6 = 120 damage

Seven Pokémon in Play = 20 x 7 = 140 damage

Eight Pokémon in Play = 20 x 8 = 160 damage

Nine Pokémon in Play = 20 x 9 = 180 damage

That being said, with Nine Pokémon in play, it is possible to Knock Out Tapu Lele-GX, Darkrai-EX, Darkrai-GX, and Necrozma-GX. With the addition of Choice Band, Riotous Beating can OHKO opposing Golisopod-GX and Zoroark-GX!

(D)(D) Trickster GX

Choose 1 of your opponent’s Pokémon’s attacks and use it as this attack. (You can’t use more than 1 GX attack in a game.)

While we can’t use this attack in this current iteration of the deck, it is notable to add that this attack is also quite strong. Having the option to use some of the following attack can be quite useful:

Drampa-GX’s Berserk for 180 damage with a Choice Band

Golisopod-GX’s Crossing Cut GX for 180 damage with a Choice Band

Ho-Oh-GX’s Phoenix Burn for 180 damage

Buzzwole-GX’s Knuckle Impact for 190 damage with a Choice Band

Tapu Fini-GX’s Tapu Storm GX to take away a huge threat

Garbodor GRI’s Trashalanche attack to punish your opponent for playing Item cards

Gardevoir-GX’s Infinite Force to attack a Pokémon with a large amount of Energy

Greninja’s Shadow Stitch attack to block their Abilities for a turn 

Turtonator-GX’s Bright Flame for 190 damage with a Choice Band

Espeon-EX’s Miraculous Shine to De-Evolve all your opponent’s Pokémon in play

Necrozma-GX’s Black Ray GX to damage all your opponent’s EX and GX Pokémon for 100 damage each

Overall, I am sure you will find an attack that you can use to great effect (if we decide to add Dark Energy into this list).

Weakness: (F) x2 

Resistance: (P) -20

Retreat Cost: (C)(C)

The Weakness is quite a bit unfortunate because this card will eventually get hated on by Buzzwole-GX, but it is fine for the moment. The Resistance is fairly strong in Expanded with Garbodor GRI being a mainstay in that format.

Overall, Zoroark-GX brings strong functionality to the deck in a small package, but it certainly will make a big splash in Expanded!

One Zoroark BLW

This card can easily bait our opponent into drawing a single Prize Card too. This Zoroark has a fantastic attack, in the form of Foul Play, that can allow us to copy one of the Defending Pokémon’s attacks and use it as this attack. If you look at the list of Pokémon that I included for Zoroark-GX’s Trickster GX attack, this attack can copy all of those (and without using a GX attack).

Four Zorua DEX

In Expanded, we can play the Zorua with Paralyzing Fear; this adds another element to the deck. With this Zorua in our arsenal, we have the potential to save games if we are running behind!

Two Lycanroc-GX and One Guzma

Lycanroc-GX and Guzma can both be used to gust up one of our opponent’s precious Pokémon so that we can seamlessly Knock it out. Lycanroc-GX can be a strong attacker in the form of Dangerous Rogue GX, an attack that Knock Out any Pokémon if our opponent plays enough Benched Pokémon. Claw Slash can also effectively Knock Out either a Zoroark-GX, something that will be a catalyst to your success at Dallas Regionals. You may be thinking that it is hard to power up a Lycanroc-GX and it is unfortunate that we need to attach twice to this Pokémon. The biggest benefit is the possibility of our opponent not being able to return KO our Lycanroc-GX. With this deck focusing on OHKOing whatever our opponent sends up, we want to have access to Guzma to bring up whichever Pokémon we want to stay in the Active position. We also use Guzma as a way to work as a pseudo-switching card and that is how we can get away with only running two Float Stone. If we need to directly Knock Out an opposing Pokémon, we can use Lycanroc-GX’s Blood-Thirsty Eyes to get the job done.

One Alolan Muk

Similarly to Garbodor BKP’s Garbotoxin Ability, Alolan Muk’s Power of Alchemy Ability can shut of Abilities from Basic Pokémon only. I like this card to shut down opposing Sudowoodo, but with any Ability-locking Pokémon, there are always more situations than what meet the eye.

One Alolan Grimer

As this deck plays only one Alolan Grimer, this one is the better choice because we can possibly Poison our opponent’s Active Pokémon.

Three Tapu Lele-GX

This card can help us getting an early game start by nabbing a Brigette or it can be used as a simple Benched Pokémon to do extra damage with Riotous Beating.

One Sudowoodo

Whenever I play a deck that has Sky Field, I play this card to limit my opponent’s Benched Pokémon so they do not get the same benefit that I do when I play Sky Field. This card will be especially helpful against Turbo Darkrai-EX, M Rayquaza-EX, and the mirror match to say the least. Most decks need a full Bench to have a sound strategy and Zoroark-GX takes that to a whole other level, this card addresses that nicely. With decks such as ‘LonZoroark’ and Turbo Darkrai-EX being successful in Expanded, we need a card that can combat decks that abuse Sky Field. Sudowoodo does just that and will take the focus off of your more important Pokémon as your opponent is forced to try and Knock Out your Sudowoodo.

One Exeggcute

This card has a dual functionality; It can allow you to use Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability for free over-and-over or it can be used as a Benched Pokémon to do more damage for Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating attack.

One Oricorio

This card can effectively improve our Night March match-up! I know that there are some great Night March players such as Michael Pramawat who will disagree with me, but he is not the vast population of Night March players. Either way, between Dragonite-EX and Rescue Stretcher, this card can come back into play a few times to at least put a decent dent in their strategy.

One Computer Search

I view this as the best ACE SPEC because you can have a dead starting hand and this card can save you; no other ACE SPEC can do that. With no other ACE SPEC having major synergy with this deck, besides Dowsing Machine, Computer Search is our best option.

Three Sky Field

This is the missing piece in Standard and the reason why this deck can function as a standalone deck in Expanded! Beyond having great synergy with Zoroark-GX’s Riotous Beating, Sky Field pairs up with Colress nicely too.

Two Colress

In combination with Sky Field, this card has the potential to draw upwards of sixteen cards! I guess you can say we will be using this card a few times per game with VS Seeker!

One Pokemon Ranger

With cards such as Seismitoad-EX and Giratina-EX running around, playing a single Pokémon Ranger seems worth it at this time.

One Hex Maniac

Similar to Colress, this is another one of our tech Supporters in the deck and can also be used multiple times in a game with an accompanying VS Seeker. This card is especially great on the first turn to shut off your opponent from using a plethora of set-up Pokémon such as Tapu Lele-GX, Shaymin-EX, Jirachi-EX, and Hoopa-EX. Hex Maniac is not without its niche uses, it can quickly stop a Gardevoir-GX from using it’s Secret Spring Ability or allow you to use Items for a turn against a horrifying Trevenant facing you down.

One Acerola

Acerola can be used to either heal a Pokémon when it is in danger of being Knocked Out or it can be used as a way to preserve Energy.

Four Puzzle of Time

This can be used to get back whatever you want - it is even easier to draw into when you can use Zoroark-GX’s Trade Ability up to four times per turn.

Two Choice Band

This deck has a hard cap of 180 damage without Choice band and it can do 210 damage with Choice Band. As we rapidly approach a Zoroark-GX meta game in Dallas, we need to be able to do 210 damage to OHKO opposing Zoroark-GX.

One Special Charge and Four Double Colourless Energy

With this deck playing only four Double Colorless Energy, I really wanted to have a way to get them back. While one copy of Special Charge may seem low, this deck plays four Puzzle of Time to get back whatever we like. I often get weary of destructive cards such as Zoroark-GX and Professor Juniper, sometimes forcing players to discard cards they would rather hold onto - but we have enough recovery cards to keep our cards from being discarded for the whole game. With this deck playing all Special Energy, we can use Special Charge to get back the Energy in our discard pile when we need it.

One Field Blower

With us having a very important Ability in the form of Trade, we want to make sure we able to use that Ability whenever we like. With Garbodor BKP being played in the popular Garbodor Toolbox deck, we do need to have an out to Garbotoxin. Luckily for us, we can make strong use of Field Blower if we don’t see a Garbodor BKP; there are more Pokémon Tools and Stadiums in Expanded than Standard!

Dallas: Here I Come

I hope that you enjoyed my take on the current Standard and Expanded metagame and I invite you to explore many different decks as we head into Dallas. Speaking about Dallas, I have registered for the tournament and booked my flight! While it often goes unsaid, a key factor in playing in events is actually planning for them. If you put your mind into playing in an event, you will start taking each event seriously within its own right! For any of my upcoming articles, they will be all about Expanded heading into Dallas so get excited for new content coming from me soon!

As you may or may not have known, I have taken a brief break from the game after London to relax and I am super excited to play in Dallas. It was getting very tiresome playing the game at a top level; the travel was expensive, I was losing sleep, and I would frantically force myself to play test. During my minor break from major competitive tournaments, I started on focusing my efforts into coaching players, writing articles, and getting myself together. Sometimes you just need to pause your Pokémon life to regroup - this is regardless if you are a newer player trying to catch a wave or a seasoned veteran who grind tournaments weekly. Now this doesn’t mean that you don’t want to play, but you need to clear on your self-reflections, realize what you want out of the game, and make sure you are making wise decisions. It feels great to be back with many planned tournaments heading into 2018! And after a strong League Cup performance, I have already earned my invite to the 2018 World Championships in Nashville, TN in August - hopefully I will see you all there!

Either way, feel free to follow me on my Twitter: zlesage_pokemon to see if there are any changes to my lists. I am personally excited to see the results of the upcoming Dallas Regionals and hopefully I will continue to ride the wave on top of the competitive spectrum. I wish everyone the best of luck that is living out their dream trying to compete for a World Championship invite and for those that are loving and supporting the game from a casual standpoint. If you haven’t met me in person or if we have just briefly met, feel free to actually introduce yourself to me. I love knowing everybody. Thank you for all of the support, I truly appreciate everyone who takes the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60 Cards.

- Zach Lesage

[+18] okko


 

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