Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

Buzzwole-GX: A Peek into my Deck Building Process

Zach goes over his deck building process for Buzzwole-GX and includes two Ultra Prism lists for Buzzwole-GX.

02/20/2018 by Zach Lesage


I was somewhat conflicted into what I was going to write heading into this article, but I ultimately decided that it is helpful to peak into my process for deck building to display how a deck can grow into something magical. In this article, I will go over the steps that I took to make Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor and where it ultimately ended up. I will also go over how the deck looks like in our new Ultra Prism format as we head into League Cups this weekend. Let’s see how this all started:

The Start


I began experimenting with Buzzwole-GX instantly after the release of Crimson Invasion because it was similar to Landorus-EX from Boundaries Crossed. While the nostalgia of cards does get mentioned sometimes, it is something that can easily be overlooked by newer players. As a veteran player since 2006, I can often look at a card, compare it spiritually to other cards, and quickly make a verdict on the playability of that card. Now this isn't a skill that any player who starts today can pick up, but you can get a head-start by having a library of deck lists that you won’t update to see the growth of a deck. I keep digital copies of all of my decks and categorize them by my main strategy and by the year they were created. This might sound like a headache to some, but it is one of the ways that I can always see where my decks have grown and a way for me to recap older ideas as I press forward.

Interestingly enough, I wrote about a Garbodor version of the deck and a Carbink BREAK version of the deck back in Novemever. I will notably add that these versions of the deck were separate, look nothing like my current list, but they were the groundwork for my current iteration nonetheless. Let’s see how these lists looked like so we can see how they have evolved over time:

Buzzwole-GX/Carbink Deck (November)

In this deck, I opted to include “Safeguard” Carbink for no apparent reason, but there was also no current reason to include the “Energy Keeper” Carbink at the time. This deck was also built in a format where “Trashalanche” Garbodor was a threat which made Zygarde-EX seem like a decent fit in this deck. While this deck looks fine on paper, it played out like cluster of ideas that all seemed fine, but it was too messy for me to continue testing. When I am building a new version of a deck, I keep a catalogued version of every iteration I have made of a certain deck to look back upon for inspiration. Let’s look at my Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor deck from November:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor Deck List (November)

This deck, upon revisiting it again, seems better than I realized when I first created it. It still has the same issues of being a Buzzwole-GX deck in a Garbodor based format, which is why I made the same mistake of adding in a Zygarde-EX in this list to counter Psychic decks. One thing that I do want to make clear when building a deck is that adding a single card into your deck will rarely counter a complete deck. To elaborate, “Trashalanche” Garbodor won’t be strong versus the single Zygarde-EX in this deck, but what happens after that? Zygarde-EX is not an invincible card and will eventually get Knocked Out at some point or another, this is when the match-up will resume as usual. It is often better to accept a bad match-up than try to tech for everything in the entire meta game. Either way, this deck provided groundwork for the deck that I played in Australia, so I have to be thankful for making some deck building mistakes a few months back.

Getting Closer to an Ideal List


After the results of the London International Championships, I ended up becoming inspired to make Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX one of the best decks in Standard. I thought that this deck, at the time, would be the best Buzzwole-GX variant and that Lycanroc-GX would become the best answer for all of the Psychic-type Pokemon that would stand in my way. I have personally shaped up the meta game by being responsible for cards such as Sudowoodo being standard in Buzzwole-GX decks, Regirock-EX counts, and the general list for the current Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX list. While I think there will be changes to the list heading forward, Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX has a well tested base list available almost anywhere. This is the list that I came up with in December:

Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX Deck (December)


As you can see, this list is very similar to the list that many top players from North America played in Sydney. While my list is slightly different, this list has laid out the groundwork for the deck that we use today. Over time, the second Sudowoodo has not been necessary, the Rockruff in the deck changes to suit the meta game, and Regirock-EX counts fluctuate based on what Basic Pokemon needs to get Knocked Out by Jet Punch. I will note that Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX is a strong deck if you need to get Championship Points at any event so I would consider playing it at League Cups if you haven't settled on a deck heading into the event yet. Another list that was perfected by my friend Frank Percic heading into Sydney is the Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor list below! After talking to Frank on the phone for hours while I was franticly going over what deck to play at a League Cup, he sent me a list close to what I have posted here:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor Deck (January)

While I still have issues with this list, I still think that the deck got me to the point of exploring “Garbotoxin” Garbodor in Buzzwole-GX and exploring the other strengths found within this deck. The issues that I continue to have with this list are list exploitive if anything. I am used to a play style in Buzzwole-GX decks that allows me to use Knuckle Impact and Absorption GX quickly in a game to draw Prize Cards early while my opponent tries to set-up their board. I also found that this deck can find itself in odd scenarios where you won’t be able to use Trashalanche or that you may use Jet Punch for too many turns. My mindset may not allow me to play this deck perfectly, but it is a strong deck nonetheless and got me the final Championship Points I needed in order to make it to Worlds 2018 in Nashville, TN. 

Putting it all Together

At this point in time, I decided that I half loved Percic’s deck and I half loved my original concept of Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX deck so I thought I would create a monster between the two. While I didn't end up playing this deck like I originally thought I would, it did lay out a list that was closer to the list that I played in Sydney. This is why it is wise to test out different decks, different variations of decks, and to not be afraid to fail when trying something new. If you have looked at all of the decks in this article so far, you would see that it has taken me at least four vastly different Buzzwole-GX decks to get to this point in time. In total, this article has eight different Buzzwole-GX lists that have all been viable or have all been theory for the next list. One of my favourite aspects about Pokemon is the evolution of players, lists, and the meta game heading each tournament. The below list is an evolution of concepts I have worked on since the release of Crimson Invasion:

Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc/Garbodor (February)

This deck is vanilla, yet it is quite complex at the same time. It functions as a normal Buzzwole-GX /Lycanroc-GX deck, but it also adds in a lock component with Garbodor. With the lock component, we can stop some overbearing Abilities from allowing our opponent to set up, which can buy us some time to get our board set up. Interestingly, we can use our own Field Blower to turn off Garbotoxin in a pinch if we want to use a strong Ability such as Lycanroc-GX’s Bloodthirsty Eyes to bring up an important Pokemon. With the flexibility of the deck, you should be able to embark on a path to victory and switch up your gameplay many times throughout any particular game. While I still think highly of this deck, the result of Leipzig Regionals and some surrounding buzz made me think more of mill decks as we proceeded forward into Sydney. At the end of the day, if you are ever unsure about your deck list or if you need some help, it is always worthwhile to rely on your friends.

Inspiration from my Friends

Another way to improve your game is to expand your list of contacts in the game and become part of a testing circle. In the past, I was somewhat of a soloist player beyond those closest to me in the game, and I have grown to share ideas with many of the greatest minds in the game! Whether you are a new player who wants to take League Cups by storm or a well-rounded player who wants to up their game, networking can take you there. If you feel like you are in an infinite loop or stuck in the game, you need to move on from what you are doing - friends can help you get past that. Well, new friends that is; always try to move up when you are branching out as a player. To elaborate, if you always test with your circle of friends who can barely Top 8 a League Cup, you won’t be able to improve as a player. As soon as you branch out and pick the brains of a seasoned player who regularly does well at Regional Championships, you will see an improvement, because you need to fill in the divide between your level and theirs. Don’t be afraid to make conversation with people, it is a skill that can be applied even outside of Pokemon! This is something that I took to heart and relied on when testing for the 2018 Oceania International Championships. I messaged my network of Frank Percic, Hunter Butler, and Danny Altavilla in order to get my list perfected before the event. While we don’t always agree because we are our own competitive player, we did settle on an interesting list heading into the event:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor/Carbink BREAK Deck (Sydney List)

Some of the cards in this list are underplayed cards, but the ultimate goal heading into to Sydney was to try and beat the meta game. I had a hunch that strong players were going to settle on Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX and I heard of the Gardevoir-GX/Zoroark-GX hype heading into the event. I found that this list handled issues I had with the deck originally and could thrive in the meta game that I thought would be in Sydney. My meta game theory was fairly correct and I ended up making Day 2 in Sydney with this exact list! Here are a few explanations for some of the more obscure cards in the list:

One Carbink BREAK

This card is more of an auxiliary add into the deck because I wouldn’t play this card if I didn't have “Energy Keeper” Carbink in the deck already. Carbink BREAK can be a great attacker in the late game especially if you have “Garbotoxin” Garbodor locking your opponent down and you just played an N to bring your opponents hand down to a single card.

One Carbink “Energy Keeper”

This card is the most valuable card against mill decks such as Sylveon-GX and Hoopa/Wishiwashi-GX. I have rarely attacked with this card, but it guards your Energy on field nicely.

Three Scorched Earth

This card was likely the most obscure card played at Sydney, but it was a strong addition to my deck. The premise behind this card is to have another way of drawing cards when you have “Garbotoxin” Garbodor in play. While that strategy in particular didn’t always work, this card did allow me to draw extra cards in most games and had some decent synergy with Carbink BREAK when I needed to use that card.

Three Fighting Fury Belt

This card answers Mewtwo EVO fairly well because a Mewtwo with a Choice Band attacking a Buzzwole-GX with three Energy attached only does 220 to the Buzzwole-GX.

Two Enhanced Hammer

While most cards have a bit more strategy to them, this card only functions if your opponent plays any Special Energy in their deck. Every deck doesn’t play Special Energy, but it is satisfying to take away opposing Energy from time to time.

Eleven Fighting Energy and One Super Rod

My goal with this count of Energy was to make sure I had enough Energy for Max Elixir to hit Energy more often, be able to use Scorched Earth when necessary, and to have the option to use Carbink BREAK.

Updating Buzzwole-GX with Ultra Prism

While this article will not be posted in time for Collinsville Regionals, we are entering a fresh new format that allows us to update our lists. At a first glance, we don’t have a lot of Buzzwole-GX options that come directly out of Ultra Prism, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we don't have other unexplored options as the format grows. It is obvious to most decks that cards like Cynthia and Pal Pad will be strong additions to their respective decks, but what can we do besides that? Let’s look at some emerging decks from Ultra Prism:



Alolan Dugtrio/Starmie

Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX/Magnezone



One common theme present in all of these emerging concepts is Evolution Pokemon. After consulting with my fellow Pro-Play Games/Ultra PRO teammates Danny Altavilla and Hunter Butler, we decided that Po Town seems like a strong stadium going forward. With that in mind, we came up with this list:

Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor (Ultra Prism)


This list is similar to the Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor deck that I played in Sydney, but it has a few more tricks inside the deck. Here are some explanations of those cards:

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. If you use Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch versus a Gardevoir-GX that has used Rare Candy to Evolve from a Ralts, you can now De-Evolve it for a Prize Card if they Evolved with your Po Town in play. Espeon-EX De-evolves all Pokémon on your opponent’s board which means you can do some solid chip damage, apply spread damage, and use Espeon-EX to possibly take multiple Prize Cards.

Three Po Town

Po Town ultimately crushes Evolution based decks that have been popular as of Ultra Prism. This card works incredibly well with Buzzwole-GX’s Jet Punch attack to get some extra damage on the board.

Three 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 Pokemon 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 Pokemon.

One Pal Pad

Sometimes we want to shuffle in some Supporters such as Professor Sycamore, Guzma, and Cynthia late game to make sure we have what we want after our opponent uses an N against to lower our hand size. We can also use Acerola in this deck twice which can be game altering if we can “find” it once again.

While I have seemingly lost interest in Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX, that is far from the truth and I have an updated list below for everyone to check out:

Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc (Ultra Prism)

This list has had only minor cosmetic changes, but I think they are for the best. After talking with Igor Costa in Australia, he changed my mind on the best versions of Remoraid and Rockruff that are played in this deck. He explained that if you have a Rockruff with Corner in your deck, you can lock your opponent into the Active position if Rockruff was the only Pokemon you have in play. This makes sense when playing against popular Pokemon such as Octillery or Garbodor that can’t attack in most decks that they are included in. I wanted to make sure that this strategy was viable heading forward in this deck and that I included the Remoraid with Wild River to make sure I would have another way out versus this strategy. I also decided to add in Fighting Fury Belt in this deck because it seemed right heading into the current meta game, but that may quickly change back into Choice Band as we head forward.

Closing Thoughts

I hope that you enjoyed my take on the current Standard meta game and I invite you to explore different concepts as we head into Collinsville Regionals. Speaking about Collinsville, I have registered for the tournament and I am driving to the event! 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 it’s own right! For any of my upcoming articles, they will be all about Expanded heading into Costa Mesa 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 major events again. 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 Pokemon 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! After my week in Australia, I am going to try and acquire a Top 16 placement to receive a Day 2 invitation to Worlds. 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 League Cups and hopefully I will continue to ride the wave on top of the competitive spectrum. I wish everyone the best of luck who is living out their dream trying to compete for a World Championship invite or for those who 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 because I love knowing everybody. Thank you for all of the support, I truly appreciate everyone who take the time to read one of my articles and for supporting 60 Cards.


[+18] okko


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