Hey readers, Kian here to provide updates and insights on preparing for Dallas. At the last expanded Regional I played Zoroark/Garbodor, using a similar list to what Justin Bokhari posted in his last article on Some1s PC. I started strong at 4-0 but then ended 5-3-1. I misplayed my 5th round and lost against two mirrors in the last couple of rounds. I still earned points and I am now pretty close to the invite requirement. The deck I chose to play was fine and I do not regret it at all. Zoroark/Garbodor is a very good deck and should see a decent amount of play at Dallas

I would like to say that expanded is in a rough place right now. I think Zoroark decks are still too powerful. I think going first is still too much of an advantage. The first person to get the Garbotoxin set up, or the first player to get the Red Card/Marshadow + Delinquent has too much control. These are just a few things I’ve always hated about expanded. Ghetsis and Hex were too good turn one, now there’s Marshadow + Delinquent. I do hope for some more bans to try and restore some balance. I’ve spoken with others on how TPCI should just get rid of expanded, but I do not think they will since that kills a fair portion of the market. So, my suggestion would be to ban Zoroark-GX and Lusamine. I’d maybe ban Marshadow too since it’s pretty ridiculous playing it turn one and winning the game because your opponent drew dead.

For expanded currently, it’s all about beating Zoroark variants. Three of the best decks in expanded are Zoroark decks: Zoro/Control, Zoro/Garb and Exodia (Zoroark/hand control). Even with the threat of fighting decks still looming, Zoroark variants still stand tall. I also want to quickly mention that Wailord & Magikarp-GX will be legal for Dallas. This card will definitely see play in Archie’s Blastoise and maybe some other control decks.

I still think a well-made fighting deck is the best way to counter Zoroark. Connor Pedersen made top 8 at Anaheim Regionals with straight Buzzwole. I started with a list very similar to his when I began testing after Anaheim Regionals. Connor is an excellent player and I am not surprised he was one of the only Buzzwole players to do well at this event.

I.Buzzwole
II.Card Explanation
III. Possible Inclusions
IV.Matchups
V.Standard Cups
VI.Malamar
VII.Blacephalon
VIII.Conclusion

 

 Buzzwole

4 Buzzwole
2 Buzzwole-GX
1 Carbink (Energy Keeper)
1 Carbink BREAK
1 Diancie Prism Star
1 Sudowoodo
1 Zygarde-EX
1 Oricorio (Supernatural Dance)
2 Beast Ring
1 Computer Search
1 Field Blower
1 Energy Lotto
1 Nest Ball
1 Rescue Stretcher
4 VS Seeker
3 Brooklet Hill
1 Acerola
1 Colress
3 Cynthia
3 Guzma
4 Korrina
2 N
2 Professor Sycamore
2 Float Stone
1 Muscle Band
2 Choice Band
8 Fighting Energy
4 Strong Energy
1 Beast Energy


Card Explanation

4 Buzzwole / 2 Buzzwole-GX

I’ve been liking the max count of Buzzwole because it is just an excellent attacker versus Zoroark. The prize trade is very strong and it is extremely annoying for your opponent to have to knock out three of these and still be in Beast Ring territory. Buzzwole-GX is still a two of in this deck because of how strong Absorption GX and Knuckle Impact are. Jet Punch is also crucial in this to set up easy knockouts for Buzzwole.

 

Zygarde-EX

This is a bit of a tech card in here and offers a different weakness than psychic. This makes it a viable option versus Trevenant because of how it can tank hits and heal itself. Another great thing about running this card is that it can KO a Zoroark-GX in one hit. Finally, most of the attacks in this deck are either 1 or 3 energy, so it’s nice to have something in between.

 

Sudowoodo

You need this card versus Skyfield Zoroark Variants and Rayqauza as it is a major hindrance to their set up. In these matchups, I would try to get this guy out ASAP so my opponent cannot start streaming Shaymin-EX and Marshadow. This card is very easy to search out thanks to Brooklet Hill and Korrina. I have actually been using this in pretty much every matchup as most decks rely on having certain Pokémon on the bench; being able to restrict this means Sudowoodo can just annoy a lot of decks.

 

1-1 Carbink

Carbink is mainly here for matches against energy denial decks. Most Zoroark decks will try to run you out of your energies, and the regular Carbink protects you against that, as your opponent will not be able to use cards like Plumeria or Crushing Hammers. Carbink also allows you to recharge your board and set up attackers.

 

Oricorio

Vespiquen just got second at Anaheim and so it is reasonable to want to include a counter for this match up. Buzzwole can win you the matchup providing you can keep up the trade with them. Oricorio simply makes the matchup much better.

 

4 Korrina

Korrina is very good in this deck since you run various trainers. We also do not run Ultra Ball, which means Korrina is one of the primary search options. Korrina is a great way to search for Beast Ring when you need it instead of just trying to draw into it.

 

Energy Lotto

This card just makes Korrina even more versatile. A lot of time all you need is a single attachment for the turn one attack. You are very likely to hit an energy with Energy Lotto since you will have around 11-13 energies in the deck. This card is definitely better than Professor’s Letter because it can also grab special energies.

 

Nest Ball

This is here so that you can find Oricorio without having to use Computer Search. You will also have some hands where you just want to get two basic Pokemon off of a Korrina.

 

Rescue Stretcher

There are some games where you want to have just one more Buzzwole, Carbink, Sudowoodo or Oricorio. You obviously want to reuse cards such as Oricorio and Sudowoodo against Vespiquen and Zoroark respectively. The utility of this card is great in this deck because you can easily search it out with Korrina.

 

3 Cynthia / 1 Colress / 2 N / 2 Professor Sycamore

This deck runs a heavy draw supporter count to help maximise consistency. When I first saw the original list for this deck I was surprised that there were this many supporters included because there is already 4 VS Seeker. Despite this I do think a heavy draw supporter count is necessary because we don’t play Ultra Ball or Tapu Lele-GX in this deck.

 

Cynthia is the most consistent draw supporter in this deck because Professor Sycamore can be costly, N can be mediocre mid to late game, and Colress can be poor early game. Cynthia does not have any of these drawbacks, which is why we play a higher count.

 

3 Guzma / 1 Acerola

There was originally a Lysandre in here, but I opted for a 3rd Guzma instead as it’s better in the Zoro Control matchup. The strategy of Zoro Control is to bring out high retreat cost Pokémon and lock them in the active with Seismitoad. Guzma helps get around that by allowing you to switch into a Buzzwole and take a KO on their Zoroark-GX.

 

I do like Acerola in this deck because it lets you repeatedly tank with a Buzzwole GX. With 4 VS Seeker you can reuse it multiple times.

 

2 Float Stone

There were three copies of Float Stone in here originally, however I feel like two is fine since we have 4 Korrina to search them out when necessary.

 

2 Choice Band / 1 Muscle Band

Muscle Band is very useful when trying to KO non GX/EX Pokémon i.e. Trubbish. Grabbing Muscle Band and Diancie off Korrina is very help because it allows you to do 70 damage without needing a special energy.

 

8 Fighting Energy / 4 Strong Energy / 1 Beast Energy

You don’t need to run a lot of basic energy since there is no Max Elixir in this list. 8 is a fine count for consistency and getting max use of your Beast Ring.

 

Possible additions

 

3rd Beast Ring

There are only a few cards I would consider adding to this deck. The one I am most leaning towards is a 3rd Beast Ring. I think for the most part the list is fine and consistent. Zygarde-GX may be cuttable because I think Trevenant is going to fall completely out of the meta, so we don’t need to worry as much about psychic attackers.

 

Landorus-EX

Landorus-EX is another card I would consider in here, but I do not think it’s needed anymore since there are more water Pokémon in the current meta (Archie’s and Seismitoad-EX). This card would really be for any psychic decks because it has water weakness.

 

Teammates

Another card I am considering is Teammates. Sometimes Korrina is just not as useful mid to late game since you already have Brooklet Hill to search for Pokémon. At that point you’d just be using Korrina for searching trainers, whereas Teammates can get you more. The added bonus is that most of the time your opponent will only be KOing one prize attackers, which makes Teammates even more frustrating. Being able to grab 2 Beasts Ring can be incredibly strong. The down side of this card is starting with it as it is not ideal at this stage of the game. The 4 Korrina are just too useful for me to reduce this, and I’m hesitant to cut a consistency card for it.

 

Lycanroc-GX

One thing I have not tried yet is a 1-1 Lycanroc-GX line in here. It gives the deck a different element and threat by having a great ability in Blood Thirsty Eyes and a better GX attack in Dangerous Rogue. I find Absorption GX to be mediocre in this deck and having Lycanroc-GX would be super useful.

 

Russell suggested to try out Zygarde-GX and DCE, but I honestly think Carbink is just better.

 Matchups

 

Zoroark / Garbodor

You want to put pressure on early by knocking out two low HP basics and sticking Sudowoodo on your bench. Leading with either Buzzwole is fine. I would try to KO either Trubbish or Ditto Prism so that you can deny their Garbotoxin and prevent the one shot from Riotous Beating thanks to Sudowoodo. Mid game you want to make sure to get off a big Sledgehammer KO whilst attaching energy to a benched baby Buzzwole with Beast Ring. Always remember that with cards like Garbodor, N, and Red Card, they still have a great way to come back at you. You just want to put yourself in as solid a position as you can so you can weather the storm when it hits.

 

Zoroark / Toad

I find this matchup to be quite close, largely due to their powerful lock. I would just be careful of what you bench in this matchup because their win condition is pretty much trapping a high cost retreater in the active. I would not bench Sudowoodo in this matchup because it hurts you more than it hurts them, after all they are not a Skyfield deck. I would also be very careful of benching Diancie, only doing so if you have a Float Stone ready to attach or desperately need the extra to take a KO.

 

So how the matchup sometimes goes is their deck may stumble early, allowing you to be able to take a knockout or two. From that point you want to set up Carbink BREAK and/or Buzzwole with three energies. With a strong bench and Guzma, you should be able clean up by KOing multiple Zoroark-GX. You should VS Seeker for Guzma whenever the lock breaks. Your opponent cannot afford to be at four prizes. 120 base damage Sledgehammers for one energy is very difficult for them to deal with since you can easily navigate round the lock thanks to playing 3 Guzma and. I would also save the Rescue Stretcher for the Carbink line just in case they try to deny you from recycling energies. If you Rescue Stretcher back the Carbink, they cannot afford to KO it again because they risk activating Sledgehammer and Beast Ring.

 

The worst thing that happens in this matchup is when they successfully trap something and mill away precious resources with Team Rockets Handiwork. If they are able to discard Guzma and energy off handiwork, it can get really ugly. It is quite a long fought out game because they never deck out thanks to Tirtouga and Lusamine. I really want to test this matchup more.

 

Zoroark / Hand Control (Exodia)

First of all, you really want to go first in this matchup. If they go first, they are just going to try to strip your hand down with the Marshadow/Red Card + Delinquent + Peeking Red Card combo. If you go first, I would make getting Sudowoodo a priority. A turn one Sudowoodo can severely hurt their set up because they cannot play down as many Marshadow and/or Shaymin to get the Delinquent. This really reduces their chances of cheesing you out the game. This matchup basically comes down to whether you get to actually play the game or not. If you get to set up and attack, you are most likely going to win. It’s also great how our list plays a lot of draw supporter to top deck out of the lock.

 

Like the Zoro Garb matchup, their way of getting around Sudowoodo is setting up Muk. If you are able to kill their Muk, then you cap their Riotous Beating to 100 damage. I’d say make sure to keep your Rescue Stretcher in case they chase down your Sudowoodo.

 

Rayqauza-GX

Similar to the Exodia matchup they are going to try to make your starting hand worse with the turn one Marshadow. The good thing is that they do not have Delinquent and Peeking Red Card. A lot of Rayquaza decks run Skyfield, so Sudowoodo is excellent in this matchup as they can’t bench lots of Marshadow, Ho-Oh-EX and Shaymin-EX. They also do not have an out to Sudowoodo besides knocking it out because they do not run Muk or Garbodor.

 

Getting a turn one Sudowoodo is very crucial to slow them down. In this matchup your aim is to trade your Buzzwole with their Rayquaza – the big problem with this is Fighting Fury Belt. This makes it a lot harder to KO their Rayquaza. You really want to get good value from your Field Blower by discarding two Fighting Fury Belt. A good player will stagger their tool attachments, so puling this off might be tricky. Should this fail you can always hope that they discard Fighting Fury Belt with Stormy Winds. If you can dodge Fighting Fury Belt, Buzzwole should trade very well with Rayqauza.

 

Rayqauza decks now also play Zeraora-GX, which is weak to lightning making it really easy to KO. Buzzwole-GX is also a useful attacker should you need to get around the Fighting Fury Belts.

 

Lucario-GX

You want to KO their Riolu early with some combination of Diancie, Strong/Beast Energy and/or Muscle Band. If you’re using Jet Punch the 30-bench damage on another Riolu really helps in the future, as it puts Lucario-GX at 180 HP. What you want to do is either one shot Lucario-GX or put 30 damage on it, that way you can avoid giving them a powerful Cantankerous Beatdown.

 

You definitely want to use Sledgehammer whilst setting up a benched Buzzwole-GX with Beast Ring. One thing to try and do when against other fighting type decks is KO Diancie. This can help massively by limiting their damage potential.

 

Israel should know this match a lot better than me since he has played it more often. Go and check out his article if you haven’t already to see his explanation of the matchup.

 

Vespiquen

I think this matchup is fine because you have 4 Buzzwole and 1 Oricorio. You can lead Buzzwole-GX and apply pressure with the spread damage from Jet Punch – this will also set up cute Oricorio plays. Your opponent will have to dig pretty hard to get a turn two KO against Buzzwole-GX. Over the course of the game you want to trade Buzzwole for Vespiquen and Flareon. Then you want to try to take double knockouts with Oricorio. Your Rescue Stretcher is vital in this matchup in order to reuse Oricorio. At most you only want one GX/EX on the bench, so you don’t give up an opportunity for your opponent to take a prize advantage.

 

Vespiquen is one of my top plays for Dallas since it can beat Zoroark-GX, which is currently the top priority for every deck in expanded.

 

Zoroark/Golisopod

This matchup is pretty close if they run Muscle Band, as this allows First Impression to hit for 140 to OHKO your Buzzwole. You’ll probably also need Buzzwole-GX in this matchup to knockout their Golisopod-GX since it’s hard to take a KO with baby Buzzwole.

What you want to do is get out an early Sudowoodo to restrict their Skyfield. As with other Zoroark variants, this version runs Muk to get around Sudowoodo, so I would try to KO their Ditto Prism to avoid them getting it out, failing that you’ll have to try to KO Muk which is much bulkier.

 

At least in this version of Buzzwole we do not run Lycanroc-GX, which is weak to grass. Golisopod decks don’t usually run a psychic counter for Buzzwole, which makes this match up a little simpler.

 

Before I stop talking about Expanded I also wanted to note that I think Magikarp & Wailord-GX will see play. Yes, it is actually legal for Dallas. It has a whopping 300 HP and very good attacks in Super Splash and Towering Splash GX, the latter of which is actually very scary for a lot of decks. I would consider playing Mr. Mime in decks that play low HP basics, like Lucario-GX and Zoroark/Garbodor.

Standard Cups

We still have around a month of standard left before the new set drops and enters the rotation. I played Regigigas Mill at my last cup and did pretty terrible. I did not account for the fact that I could not reliably win games in 30 minutes. Now I want to present two decks that I wish I had of played – Malamar and Blacephalon. These are the two decks I’ve been liking the most because of their sheer consistency. I’m going to go over these lists and what changes I’ve made, but I do not want to go into too much detail because they have been covered heavily since the beginning of this format. First, I’m going to revisit Malamar. This version showed up right at the beginning of the season and is still proving to be strong in the current meta.

 

  1. Malamar
4 Inkay
4 Malamar
2 Necrozma-GX
2 Giratina
1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX
1 Marshadow-GX
1 Chimecho
1 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Marshadow
1 Ditto Prism Star
4 Lillie
4 Guzma
4 Cynthia
1 Friend Ball
4 Mysterious Treasure
1 Rescue Stretcher
4 Ultra Ball
3 Switch
2 Choice Band
4 Acro Bike
11 Psychic Energy

 

I really want to give credit to Edwin Lopez who created the foundation of the list. He has been playing this deck since Philadelphia Regionals and has had great success with it. Now this version of the deck has not really changed too much. I think it’s always been a very consistent deck and people seem to be discounting it. I think its consistency is what makes this is an excellent choice for play at League Cups. 4 Lillie, 4 Cynthia, 4 Acro Bike, 4 Mysterious Treasure and 4 Ultra Ball. The most important aspect when considering what to play for a successful League Cup is does it reliably sets up in a best of one? Well this deck does thanks to having a ton of draw power, which is very appealing to me.

Alolan Muk has been seeing a lot more play in decks like Zoroark and Blacephalon, which seriously restrict the effectiveness of using Marshadow-GX. To deal with this we use 2 Necrozma-GX, as well as 2 Giratina and 1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. Since we are playing fewer single retreat cost Pokemon, we should choose Switch over Escape Board.

Ditto Prism essentially function as a 5th Inkay, which is super important in this deck since you really want to get 2-3 down turn one and keep at least 3 Malamar set up throughout the game.

I think Chimecho is very good right now because it hurts the set-up of common evolution decks like Gardevoir/Alolan Ninetales/Swampert and Decidueye/Zoroark/Alolan Ninetales deck.

Matchups wise i think it has a very solid spread against the meta. Against Blacephalon, you can trade Necrozma-GX for Blacephalon-GX. If you fall behind, you can just use Moon Eclipse GX to catch up.

Against Zoroark/Decidueye or Gardevoir/Swampert, you just use Chimecho until it gets knocked out, giving you so much time to set up. When the locks breaks, you want to use Marshadow for Let Loose because this will further interrupt their set up giving you even more time to get ahead.

Against Granbull and Lost March, the two copies of Giratina really shine. Never bench a GX Pokémon in this matchup because they will definitely take advantage of it. Against Granbull you want to knockout their Magcargo, so they can eventually miss emptying their hand for a full force All Out. If you ever take the lead in these matchups you’ll probably win, since Giratina one shots all of their Pokémon and can constantly recycle itself

One piece of advice for playing this deck is bench management is huge – your goal is to have 3 Malamar in play and over benching can just lose you the game. I’ve seen players limit themselves to having only 2 Malamar in play.

 

Blacephalon

 

The next deck I want to cover is Blacephalon. This deck is a tier one deck in standard and will be for quite some time. I was not really a fan of this deck at first since it was pretty linear and brain dead, however recently it has begun appealing to me because of how consistent it is, in a similar way to Malamar.

 

4 Blacephalon-GX
3 Poipole LOT
3 Naganadel
1 Ditto Prism Star
1 Alolan Muk
1 Tapu Lele-GX
1 Marshadow
2 Lillie
3 Guzma
4 Cynthia
2 Energy Switch
4 Ultra Ball
4 Mysterious Treasure
4 Beast Ring
3 Acro Bike
1 Heat Factory Prism Star
2 Ultra Space
1 Beast Energy
16 Fire Energy

 

This is the list I’ve been testing. The non-standard things about this deck are the Ditto Prism, Alolan Muk and Acro Bikes. I really like the 1-1 Muk to give this deck some form of control. It’s very good versus Granbull to shut off Oranguru, and as mentioned earlier it can disrupt Malamar since they rely on quite a few basic Pokemon with abilities.

I had two Sophocles in here originally but I felt that they were underwhelming. I just put in 3 Acro Bikes and they have been great – they help discard fire energy and dig harder for Beast Rings.

 

VIII. Conclusion

I’ll be at Dallas and will be hoping that I can at least get some points to keep up with my pursuit of an invite. If the tournament was tomorrow I’d probably play Zoroark/Garbodor with Ranger or Buzzwole.

 

Standard wise I’d probably suggest playing either of the decks I talked about above. With half of the season pretty much done I would like to bid good luck to those who are still gunning for the invite. In the meantime, I’m going to be looking forward to the next set.

-Kian