Experts' corner

Zach Lesage

De Regreso de la Ciudad de México - New Standard

Zach goes over three fantastic decks as we approach Madison Regionals this weekend!

05/29/2018 by Zach Lesage

Airport Chillin’

What’s up, 60 Cards readers? I am here at the Mexico City International Airport writing my article after playing in their Special Event this past weekend. In this article, I will showcase three of the best decks from the new Standard format, explain their strategies, and go through my personal tournament report for the event. This article will help you pick a deck as we approach League Cups and Madison, Wisconsin Regionals, so be sure to pay attention. With that being said, we have plenty of ground to cover so I am going to jump into the decks that are in the new Standard format:

The New Wave

While most players in North America took a much-needed break, a large portion of the top players decided to fly to Mexico City, Mexico to play in a Special Event. For those of you who are unsure of this type of tournament, here is what poké describes a Special Event as:

‘In addition to the regular events in the Championship Series schedule such as Regional and International Championships, Pokémon Special Events give Pokémon TCG and video game players more chances to earn Championship Points. Prizes are often awarded also, at the discretion of the event organizer.

All players in good standing are welcome to participate—there are no qualifications or residency restrictions at any Special Event. Pokémon TCG players need to bring their own 60-card deck that matches the format listed below. Pokémon video game players must bring their own game, system in the Nintendo 3DS family, and a legal team.'

That is a typical tournament description for most events, but the kicker is that Special Events provide the EXACT Championship Point structure as a Regional Championships. Yup, that’s right: 200 CP for first, 160 CP for second, 130 CP for Top 4, 100 CP for Top 8, and 80 CP for Top 16. With the typical attendance of Special Events being much lower than a Regional Championships, attending these events can be a great way to pick up some much-needed Championship Points. Furthermore, Europe had their own Special Event going on at the same time in Tours, France which allowed us to peak into the future of Standard with the new Forbidden Light cards. Based on all of the results seen online from both Mexico City and Tours, these are the decks that did well:

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  /  Malamar (FLI; 51)
Naganadel GX (FLI; 121)
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)
Greninja GX (FLI; 120)  / Latios
Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  /  Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Espeon GX (SUM; 61)  / Garbodor / Garbodor
Greninja BREAK (BKP; 41)
Tapu Bulu GX (BW; null)  /  Vikavolt (SUM; 52)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Garbodor / Garbodor
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51)  
Gardevoir GX (BUS; 93)

Beyond a few of these decks seeing play once, most of them can be compiled into one of three categories: Malamar (FLI; 51) , Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , or Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  variants. It is in my testing results that I have found that these are the front runners of the new Standard format and that all decks / techs will revolve around these archetypes.

Malamar Variants
Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  /  Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)
Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  /  Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)

Buzzwole-GX Variants
Straight  Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)

Zoroark-GX Variants
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Garbodor / Garbodor

If you are not playing one of those decks, be prepared to have an answer to them in terms of Weakness, Resistance, and / or tech cards. I don’t foresee an upcoming major event where those decks lose; or at the very least, don't place highly in that given event. To go off onto a completely different subject, I will go through my personal tournament report before going into some of the juicy deck lists that are available after that.

Mexico City Special Event Tournament Report

While I normally don’t include tournament reports in my articles, I feel that my journey to Mexico City can provide plenty of information about the stresses that accompany players heading to events. While it may seem like every trip is taking an Uber from your house to an airport, flying to a new city, Uber from the airport to your hotel, playing in the tournament, and heading home -- sometimes they are a bit different from time to time. I’ll start at the beginning:

So for the past few weeks, fellow 60 Cards writer and newly crowned Toronto Regional Champion Daniel Altavilla has been staying at my house to play test with me. It’s been awesome because we can consistently bounce ideas off of each other, learn each other's strategies, and enjoy the company as well. We decided, relatively late for us, both to attend the Mexico City Special Event to get some much-needed Championship Points in this insane race for a Day 2 invitation to the 2018 World Championships in Nashville, Tennessee. During the week, we tested many concepts: Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) , Attacking Hoopa, Goomy, straight Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104) , Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51) , Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51) , and a few others that I have probably forgotten about. We tested as much as possible during our short time from booking flights to our departure date.

The night before we were going to leave, Danny was seemingly able to convince me to stay up all night, test until 4 AM, and then head to the airport around 5AM for our early 8 AM flight to Mexico. While I wasn’t comfortable doing this, I reluctantly decided that I could sleep on a plane and if I got my bag packed in case I fell asleep, I would be fine. We tested until 3 AM, decided that we were no longer making sense, and I packed the rest of my stuff so I could just wake up and leave for the airport. This is where the story takes a dark turn...

I wake up at 6:15 AM out of nowhere and I see light coming through my bedroom window, I instantly think that I am screwed and check my phone. Where did my alarm go for 4:30 AM? Can I still make it to the airport that is usually an hour away from my house? While all of this is happening, I am screaming for Danny to wake up, he realizes that we are likely missing our flight, but we persevere on to at least have a chance. We gather everything into my car and I am taking this flight to heart because I don’t want to lose 500$ because I slept in. I crush the drive as fast as humanly possible (not wanting get pulled over), check my car into valet parking at the airport out of necessity, and made it to Toronto Pearson International Airport in about 30 minutes. Danny and I dash through security, customs, and we ultimately make our flight.

This has been a lesson learned that everything planned is not always going to work out. When planning for an event, it is wise to set alarms, prepare yourself, and do the best you can do to adhere to times. While Danny and I were lucky to get on our flight, preparing ourselves to get from our house to the airport would have been a better plan. Planning and getting to tournaments can easily be one of the more important parts of the game because of the stress associated with travelling. Anyways, enough life lessons, let’s get back to my report...

After making it through security and customs, I finally madk it on to the plane with time to spare. After flying to Mexico City, Danny and I are reunited with another 60 Cards writer, Caleb Gedemer and our friend Ryan Allred. We make it to our hotel, buy some delicious Mexican snacks, order pizza (it was awful), and I watch some of the others test. After my long day of almost missing my flight, a five hour flight, and snack binging -- I decided to go to sleep. I value sleep as a competitor player because I feel better the next day, I am more focused, and I often play better in the later rounds of the tournament. The next day I woke up, got to the venue, said hello to the geese at the venue (THERE WERE GEESE AT THE VENUE!!!!!) and wrote out my deck list. After writing out my list, I re-sleeved my deck and got ready for the tournament...

Tournament: Mexico City Special Event
Division: Masters
Format: Standard with Best of 3
Rounds: 6 with a Top 8 playoff
Players: 56
Deck: Turbo  Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)

Round: 1
Opponent: Grecia Arenas
Deck: Zoroark-GX / Glaceon-GX
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 1-0-0

She was a newer player and she was eager to learn more about the game. Unfortunately for her, I am a qualified player who realized that this is an awful match-up for her and used that to my advantage. She did eventually nab a few Prizes with a Mew-EX, but it wasn’t enough in the quick games that we played.

Round: 2
Opponent: Rahul Reddy
Deck: Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Necrozma-GX / Malamar
Match Result: LWL
Record Result 1-1-0

I looked at the pairings and was fairly upset that I was playing against a strong player playing a deck that on paper beats mine. I almost won game one due to Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  having an insane Prize Card trade, but he eventually got out of it. Game two I won because I used Regirock-EX to attack and I also used Buzzwole to attack with a loaded Swing Around. Game three I lost in a few turns because Reddy drew fairly hot!

Round: 3
Opponent: Adrian Flores
Deck: Ultra Necrozma-GX / Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Malamar
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 2-1-0

This match-up went fairly well because I kept on bringing up Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  to stop him from effectively using Malamar (FLI; 51) . He could have just attached a Float Stone to get around this, but it didn’t happen either game.

Round: 4
Opponent: Caleb Gedemer
Deck: Lapras-GX / Volcanion Prism Star
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 3-1-0

I played against a fellow 60 Cards writer, Caleb Gedemer, and I ended up drawing well in a favourable match-up. Caleb always needed to hit a Choice Band and an Energy manipulation card to get back into the game. Unfortunately for him, he never got what he needed and I always had everything to combat the little he put up.

Round: 5
Opponent: Marcos Erik Hernández Butrón
Deck: Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX
Match Result: WW
Record Result: 4-1-0

The issue in this match-up is that my opponent needs to utilize Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  all while I can use that knowledge to play around that strategy. In essence, I used Jet Punch quite a few times while setting up a fortress behind my Active Pokemon.

Round: 6
Opponent: Eder Jarillo Soto
Deck: Gardevoir-GX / Sylveon-GX
Match Result: Intentional Draw
Record Result: 4-1-1

After this game, I felt confident that I would make the Top 8 playoff, because I played against two strong players, Reddy and Gedemer, and my last few opponents must have had great resistance because I was at Table 3 during my last round. Unfortunately, I bubbled Top Cut after a round of awkward ties and wins to miss out on the opportunity to play further in the tournament. I am not going to lie, I felt defeated because my last round opponent would have been a positive match-up for me, but I was greedy with a tie. However, I didn’t foresee the bubble and saw an instant way for me to automatically gain the precious 100 Championship Points that would come with making Top 8. Oh well, as a professional player, I had to recoup my composure quickly and be grateful for the opportunity that I had to play in this event. I still gained another 80 Championship Points which propelled me back into the Top 16 passing fellow 60 Cards writer Jose Marrero and Zak Krekeler. I’m sure you must be wondering how my list looks and don’t worry, I gotchu fams...

Buzzwole-GX Deck

Strategy and Deck Thoughts

While I wrote about this this deck to great extent in a past article (check it out!), I did change out a few cards from the list that I had posted in that article, namely Order Pad, because I found in my extensive testing that it just couldn’t stand up to the format right now. There are a few weird inclusions in this deck such as a copy of Regirock-EX to do some extra damage and the pronounced amount of Energy in the deck. The goal of this deck is to out speed opposing decks, have a consistent playing field with plenty of options, and to overwhelm your opponent with your mid-game push of multiple Pokémon that are powered up. I have found that Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  slows this deck down because it is another ‘combo-piece’ that clunks up when you need it the most. Yeah, I get that it’s cool to bring up whatever you want with Lycanroc-GX, but that can also be achieved by playing a Guzma. Furthermore, Dangerous Rogue GX has also taken a bit of a fall in power level due to the release of Beast Ring because Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  can a similar amount of damage slightly easier now.

During the game, you can use Jet Punch in the early game to do some solid chip damage to their board and to take an early game lead. This tactic can force our opponent to scramble to keep up while you chip away at their Baird and start to power up your other Pokémon. During the mid game stretch, you can use Beast Ring once they activate it by drawing two or three Prize Cards. Once your Beast Ring is activates, you want to use as many copies of that card as possible by utilizing your draw Supporters, using Abyssal Hand, and preparing your hand before your opponent activates it. The goal is to spread your Energy around so that you can corner or check-mate your opponent by overpowering their Pokémon with your board state.

For changes that I have been pondering on over the last few days and I have been making the push to cut the second Buzzwole FLI from the deck for a Float Stone. While the third Beast Ring may end up being the cut for the Float Stone, I remain unsure that I actually want to give away the third copy of Beast Ring. Another card that I have been wanting to put back into the list is Sudowoodo BKP because it allows me to have Pokémon that can attack for either one, two, or three Energy (Buzzwole FLI, Sudowoodo BKP, and Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  respectively). Lastly, the only other change that I am planning to try going forward is cutting one Octillery / one Remoraid for two copies of Pokémon Catcher to mimic Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)  because that card is absent from this list.

Ultra Necrozma-GX / Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Malamar Deck

Strategy and Deck Thoughts

This is the newest deck coming straight from the results of the events in Mexico City, Mexico and Tours, France which means that we may or may not be dealing with a prototype list. While I have worked hard on the above list with multiple other players, the archetype is new enough that it has time to grow as it gains tournament experience. The biggest question circling the player base is which variant of Malamar (FLI; 51)  to run and my answer is it depends on the meta game. In Mexico City, it was a much better play to run the Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)   Malamar (FLI; 51)  variant due to the impeding hype of Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  heading into the event. On the other hand, if Buzzwole GX (CIN; 104)  is forced to take a back set due to the hatred it faces in a meta game, it might be better to run the Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  variant. As you can see, we might have a debate until these cards are rotated out of Standard.

The strategy to this deck is to appropriately determine what the math is for your Pokémon to Knock Out opposing threats and prepare your board to complete that feature. While this sounds like a typical hush statement, it really isn’t, it’s more of a ‘you do what you need to do in any situation’ statement. Look at it this way, if you need to hit a certain amount of damage against a Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  deck, are you going to attack with Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  or Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) ? In most cases, you want to attack with an Ultra Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  to avoid Weakness, discard the correct amount of basic Psychic Energy, and prepare your Bench if your Ultra Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  becomes threatened. The best thing about this deck is that you can have a Pokémon Knocked Out, use a Mysterious Treasure, power it up with Malamar (FLI; 51) , and jump right back into the attacking action! There is another variant of this deck though, it doesn’t include Ultra Necrozma-GX, but it includes Necrozma-GX...

Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX / Necrozma-GX / Malamar Deck

Strategy and Deck Thoughts

This variant of the deck is the list that fellow 60 Cards writer Daniel Altavilla piloted at the League Cup after the Mexico City Special Event to beat fellow 60 Cards writer, Caleb Gedemer, in the finals. While it’s is usually a case of who cares about League Cups, but Altavilla played against three Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks! For those of you who don’t know, Zoroark-GX is Darkness-type and Dawn Wing Necrozma GX (BUS; 63)  has Weakness to Darkness-type! That being said, Altavilla had a gauntlet to run through at this League Cup and proved that this deck really has no boundaries thus far. That being said, this seems like the correct list and the correct deck to play in an open field. While this deck may end up getting targeted as Zoroark-GX decks learn to grow and to adapt to this new format.

As for the strategy of this deck, it follows a similar suit to the above Ultra Necrozma GX (FLI; 127)  / Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63)  / Malamar (FLI; 51)  Deck because the decks core is extremely similar. One of my favourite plays in this deck is to attach a Float Stone to a Dawn Wings Necrozma GX (UPR; 63) , Retreat, use Psychic Recharge a few times, and use Invasion to bring up our fully powered up Pokémon. While a strategy like that is often seen as an easy play, you would be surprised at how many players overlook simple plays such as that. Altavilla told me a story about one of his games,
his opponent started off quicker than himself, he used Moon’s Eclipse GX, and his opponent attacked directly into the immunity. His opponent didn’t pay attention and he used this to his advantage to eventually win the game. While this is somewhat related to the strategy of the deck, it can also allow you take a look into the ruthlessness of a competitive player. This is not meant to be a stab at Altavilla, it is meant more as a way to showcase his success at playing the game at the upmost degree. Anyways, this deck is likely the highest on my list for wishful plays heading into Madison Regionals because it is super consistent with its inclusion of four Mysterious Treasure and four Ultra Ball. Either way, give this deck a spin try it out this week and hopefully it takes you to the top in Madison.

Back in the Six

Well, I hear my zone calling or at least I think so in my limited understanding of Spanish at this airport...In about five hours I will be back home in Toronto or as it is sometimes called, The Six. This article has been a blast to write and I hope that the information in this article was an interesting read as we rapidly approach the final leg of the season. I can not describe how exhausted I am from travelling from São Paulo to Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City to Toronto, Toronto to Mexico, and now home... FOR TWO DAYS! Yup, my adventure never ceases to end as I am looking at my itinerary to go to Roanoke, Virginia for my fifth major event in a row. The weekend after, the weekend after that, the weekend after that, the weekend after that, the weekend after that, and the weekend after that are all seemingly booked for events for myself so I’ll just list it here:

April 26 - April 27
Roanoke, Virginia Regional Championships

June 2 - June 3
Madison, Wisconsin Regional Championships

June 9 - June 10
League Cups in the Greater Toronto, Ontario Area

June 16 - June 17
Mexico City, Mexico Special Event

June 23 - June 24
Mexico City, Mexico Regional Championships

June 30 - July 1
League Cups in the Greater Toronto, Ontario Area

July 5 - July 8
Columbus, Ohio North American International Championships

As you can see, I am out there doing my best to find compelling content to write about all while chasing my goal of being one of the Top 16 best players in North America. In all of this travelling, I have made many new friends so feel free to chat with me at any time. I always enjoy talking to new players, people from around the world, and aspiring Pokemon trainers! For updates on my travel plans, tournament schedule, premium deck lists, strategies, and my most recent articles, feel free to check out and follow my professional Pokemon Twitter @ zlesage_pokemon. Also, remember to give this article a ‘like’ to let me know what you thought of this article - it gives me the motivation needed to write! Thanks for supporting 60 Cards, reading my articles, and watching me grow as a player!

Until next time,


#TeamCartaMagica #PlayPokemon #Pokemon #60Cards


[+19] okko


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