Hey Readers, Kian back. Today I am going to be analyzing the relatively new Standard format and some Zoroark Variants. There have been a couple of Regionals/Special events here and there and the format has shown that has been refreshed. I have been testing this format for about a month and it is completely different from the previous Standard format. The Malamar deck is a new force, Buzzwole gained great cards and there are more ideas for rogue options. From my testing and the results that have happened over the last couple of weeks, it is pretty obvious that Malamar decks are very strong and that it is not a Buzzwole dominated format. As expected, Buzzwole was the deck to beat going into this format because of its previous dominance in the STS-UPR format along with its additions in Forbidden Light. This made Malamar an excellent play in the beginning because it is pretty much the only deck that can beat Buzzwole. I still feel like Buzzwole is a ridiculously powerful deck and it pretty much beats everything that is not Malamar. Even in my testing, Buzzwole still has a shot versus Malamar. Now that the Meta introduction is over, let’s move onto the Zoroark decks.
The other decks in the format are being covered by other authors and I have been pretty much the Zoroark Connoisseur. This whole season, I have been playing Zoroark at every major event since it came out. I love the card so much because it is just pure consistency. It gives me so many options. Zoroark decks are in a weird spot in the current Metagame. It is still a consistent and viable deck however it is not the dominant force it once was. The biggest aspect that hurt Zoroark in this set is how Buzzwole decks just got stronger. Beast Ring, Buzzwole FBI, Diancie, Beast Energy and even the new Rockruff just make their Zoroark matchup so much better.
Buzzwole FBL is just an annoying card for Zoroark decks to handle because it can one shot Mew EX, Mewtwo and Zoroark. It is also just very annoying to knockout a 130hp one prize attacker. Even without the Sledgehammer requirement, Buzzwole can still be a threat with its second attack, Swing Around as it can one shot Zoroarks. Beast Ring is an incredible card that makes Buzzwole GX way too powerful. Beast Energy and Diancie gives Zoroark trouble because if a Buzzwole GX has a Choice Band, Beast Energy and a Diancie on the bench, then they can just one shot a Zoroark. This combo doesn’t happen in every game but it can be a huge play for Buzzwole which they did not have before. I think it is pretty much impossible to make Buzzwole a favorable matchup for any Zoroark variant. The good thing is that Malamar can decrease Buzzwole’s play and give Zoroark a better shot at winning. Zoroark variants also have excellent matchups against Malamar decks. It is kind of a Rock/Paper/Scissors format as of now but hopefully, that will change later. My thought process for making Zoroark a viable deck for Madison is having a great Malamar matchup and an acceptable Buzzwole matchup or you take a risk and try to dodge Buzzwole completely.
Through my extensive testing with many Zoroark decks, the Buzzwole matchup is just too hard. Even testing with Zoroark/Garbodor I feel like the matchup is slightly unfavorable. The reason is that Buzzwole can just play around Trashalanche in the early game while they use Jet Punch with few Items. I’ve found that Lycanroc continues to be very annoying because it is very hard to knockout. With Malamar’s dominance for a couple of weeks, we can see the amount of Buzzwole declining in play. For Madison, I would probably not play Buzzwole because I think there will be too much Malamar. The deck is incredibly strong and can do well but I just think it is too big of a risk because Malamar is very popular. The projected Metagame can give Zoroark a great opportunity to do well this weekend. I think it is plausible to hit twice as many Malamar decks as Buzzwole decks.
I feel like this is the best all-around Zoroark deck because it beats Malamar easily while maintaining a winnable Buzzwole matchup. This deck has had success in the last format where it took a Top 8 and Top 16 finish at the Brazilian Internationals as well as 2nd/3rd place finishes at Toronto Regionals. The reason why this Zoroark deck is best suited for the current Meta is that Garbodor is excellent against Malamar and Buzzwole. Garbotoxin and Trashalanche are pretty problematic for Malamar since they rely on Abilities and use a high number of Items. Trashalanche is a great attacker vs Buzzwole since it is a one prize attacker that can trade well and one shot Buzzwole GX.
This deck functions as a Zoroark deck and Garbodor deck, you still use Trade a lot but there are also points in the game where you have Garbotoxin established. Your opponent can also use Field Blower on your Tool to reactivate your Trade. You can also use your own Field Blower to reactivate Trade as well. That is why I chose to run three copies to give me that option. You also want to constantly make the game very hard on your opponent through the use Kartana GX, Parallel City and Garbotoxin. With all of these restricting cards, you can force your opponent to use more Items for your Trashalanche. The decklist I’m using is inspired by Frank Diaz’s and Gustavo Wada’s lists from Toronto Regionals.
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
- 3 Unit Energy LPM
It is weird not including a 4-4 Zoroark line in a Zoroark deck but the thing is that this deck is a hybrid of Zoroark and Garbodor. Having bench space for three Zoroark is pretty tough when this deck runs other Pokémon to set up. This deck can still function like Zoroark and most of the time this deck should have two Zoroarks out giving it the consistency it needs. I still think a 4-4 Zoroark line is fine but space is an issue. Zoroark also covers Garbodor’s Weakness for this deck. I think the main reason why you cannot make this a straight Garbodor deck is because Dawn Wings Necrozma would sweep it. Zoroark GX gives you a great answer towards Dawn Wings Necrozma.
This line is a little weird but has been fine in my testing. The most common line I have been seeing is 3-2-1. I value having more Trubbish down early and keeping them coming into play versus Buzzwole and Malamar. I always want two on board to set up Garbotoxin or multiple Trashalanche. I feel like two Trashalanche Garbodor is enough because you can just recycle them back with Rescue Stretcher or Puzzle of Time. One Garbotoxin is fine as long as it is not prized. This deck does not outright rely on it but it is a very good card in the deck and it can be bad if it is prized in certain matchups.
Dusk Mane Necrozma
Not many people know that this card even existed! I noticed it in Gustavo Wada’s 3rd place list from Toronto and I was very intrigued. It’s first attack; Dusk Shot allow it deal 60 damage to a GX/EX anywhere on the board for a single Metal Energy. This deck runs three Unit Energy so this deck has the necessary Energy to use this card. I feel like this has great value because this deck does not really one shot and usually two shots. This is where Dusk Mane Shines, the ability to set up some knockouts is very crucial for this deck. The second attack is very hard to power up but can be useful if you ever get the chance to. In my games so far I have never used the second attack.
This card gives great utility to the deck. Having the option to remove a Special Energy is very nice. It is basically a searchable Enhanced Hammer. This deck also does not really use a GX attack other than Tapu Cure. Blade GX can be very strong since this deck does have to work for its prizes.
I felt like this deck needed another Buzzwole counter and this is the best one for now. I feel like Mew EX is too fragile and gets revenge KO’ed too easily. Mewtwo is bulky and can take hits from Jet Punches. You can get great value from this card since it can OHKO a Buzzwole. This is also a nice attacker versus Lycanroc because it can help deal decent damage to it.
I was thinking about running two of these and running some Mysterious Treasure to give me the same sort of consistency. I thought that running three Lele was excessive but I was wrong during my testing. Consistency most of the time is never wrong. I feel like this card is just too essential and having more outs to a turn one Brigette is always good.
This number is of draw Supporters may seem a little bit high for Zoroark but keep in mind that this is also a Garbodor deck. You will not always have access to Trade therefore you will need more draw Supporters to advance your board state. I’m trying to figure out if I should run 2/2 Sycamore/Cynthia or 1 Sycamore/3 Cynthia. I like having Cynthia because I value retaining resources like Puzzle of Time but having Professor Sycamore to aggressively dig is very crucial. Three N has been perfect in my testing, if you ever need to use more than three, you can just Puzzle them back.
This has been a regular inclusion in Zoroark decks for a while. This deck does not one shot very often and having other strategies to win is something this card can help the deck do. Healing can be very good in a lot of situations. This decks bench space can get clogged a lot and Acerola can help clear up bench space.
I would like three of these but I think that would be a luxury. This deck runs a lot of Basic Pokémon so it can survive without a turn one Brigette.
I’ve always been a fan of this card in Zoroark decks because it gives you that small bit of consistency. This card also allows you to evolve Trubbish too. Like I said earlier, consistency is never bad.
I feel like this count is fine when you run Puzzle of Time. You just have to be careful when discarding Guzma with Trade. This deck is not really aggressive so you will not always need three copies.
As a Garbodor deck, you want four of these to combat every Field Blower. Having four copies gives you great flexibility to switch between attackers. Having more outs to get out an early Dusk Mane Necrozma is very strong.
Three copies is the perfect count in my opinion. Opposing Parallel cities are very annoying and this deck needs the bench space. There are often instances where you want to Field Blower your own Garbotoxin to reactivate Trade. Field Blower is also just a great card. Having three copies can be very annoying for your opponent’s board.
This card is by far the strongest Stadium in the format. This deck needs multiple ways to disrupt the opponent and this helps a lot. A lot of decks in the format also rely on large benches. Look at how Malamar decks need two to three Malamar and attackers. Buzzwole decks need Diancie, Rockruff/Lycanroc, Octillery and multiple Buzzwole in play. I feel like this card is ridiculously impactful and can swing any game. This deck also hates to get hit by an opposing Parallel City and the best counter to that is having your own Parallel City.
This deck runs so many Pokémon that you want the option to retrieve some back. Getting back crucial Pokémon like Garbotoxin or anything you need in a pinch is very nice. Retrieving Pokémon without having to use Puzzle is a very nice way to save them for more important resources. One play I like with this card is that in the later stages of them game, you can draw your whole deck and Stretcher back three Pokémon to not deck out. All in all, this just an excellent card to have in the deck.
I feel like this count is fine. If you manage them correctly a fourth copy is not needed. Even if you need a fourth, you can just Puzzle of Time them back.
This deck is incredibly flexible and there are so many ways to change it and add cards in.
I think this change is perfectly fine because having more Zoroark in play is always good. In a Malamar dominated field, you want more Zoroarks in play. Like I said earlier bench space and deck space are tight and I do not think this is entirely needed.
Now I feel like this card makes the deck different. You would need to change the counts of a lot of cards to include four copies of this. I do like this card but you would need to run four of them to make it work. The card does have a cool interaction because you can allow Garbotoxin to activate just during your opponent’s turn if you attach this to a Garbotoxin at the end of your turn. The downside is that it is not permanent. In this current format, I do like having Tools that stick to Garbotoxin because I can just remove them with my own Field Blower or have my opponent do it for me. In order to make space for this card, you would probably have to cut down on Float Stones and Field Blowers.
3rd Trashalanche/ 2nd Garbotoxin
I feel like these cards would just be luxuries for this deck. I would rather be playing another Stretcher than more copies of these cards.
1 Enhanced Hammer
I do like this card a lot but I would rather have space for more consistency or more impactful disruption cards like Parallel City and Field Blower.
I feel like this card is actually one of the best cards in Forbidden Light and a better Ultra Ball for Psychic and Dragon Pokémon. I think I would probably run this card if I was running an exclusively Psychic focused deck. I value EvoSoda more because I want to see turn two Zoroark GX more often. Maybe through more testing this card can be included but I think EvoSoda is better for now.
Necrozma Malamar 75/25
The straight version of Malamar is definitely its easiest matchup. Both of their main attackers are weak to Garbodor and Zoroark. Zoro/Garb also has other restrictive control factors in Parallel City and Garbotoxin. I’ve also found Trashalanche to be a great attacker as well in this matchup since their deck uses a good number of Items. I feel like a big factor in this matchup is Parallel City. ZoroGarb should be better equipped to deal with Parallel since this deck has three Field Blower and Trade to find them. Malamar decks need to find one of their two Field Blowers to get rid of your Parallel City. So in general, you should be more likely to win the Stadium war and stick Parallel City against them. There are so many ways to win this matchup since you run a number of cards and strategies to beat them. So all in all just play to your best options and this matchup is a breeze.
Ultra Necrozma/Malamar 60/40
This matchup is much closer because they have Ultra Necrozma. Ultra Necrozma simply just hits harder than regular Necrozma GX and is a lot harder to knockout. The matchup is still favorable enough for you to use the same principles from the straight version of this matchup. You may want to lean more on Garbotoxin so they have less of an opportunity to power up Ultra Necrozma. Malamar decks still run a high number items from Mysterious Treasure, Max Elixir or Beast Ring so it is possible to knockout Ultra Necrozma with Trashalanche.
Even with Garbodor, I find this match to still be very tough. The Buzzwole player can just use Jet Punch and keep their Item counts low. Buzzwole FBL is extremely annoying because it is a one prize attacker. Lycanroc is still very hard to deal with it because there is no way to one shot it outside of the opponent having a lot of Items in their discard pile. There are still some small tricks you can do here and there like doing 80 damage against Buzzwole GX with Trubbish plus a Choice Band using Acid Spray. This matchup is still very winnable just tough. The goal is to make the match very difficult on them through Parallel City and Garbotoxin.
Concluding with Zoro/Garb I think it is a great all-around play. It has the tools to beat Malamar decks hard and has an acceptable Buzzwole match-up. The strategy is all around control and grindy. I love this sort of deck and I think it can do well in any tournament setting in this format.
Transitioning to the next part of the article I am going cover an older deck that has seen success in the past and current formats. Zoroark Lycanroc is a deck that I have always liked because it is a consistent deck with a lot of options. Like Michael Pramawat said, this deck is like LuxChomp. This deck has a strong matchup against Malamar because of type advantage, its control and pure aggression. I’ve always felt like Lycanroc gives you a great advantage in any Zoroark mirror. The typing advantage against the opposing Zoroark and the GX attack gives you great options for Zoroark mirrors.
This deck has also gained new cards from Forbidden Light with Buzzwole and Rockruff improving it. I cannot stress enough about how crucial a Rockruff with 70 hp is. Surviving two Jet Punches and not getting knocked out from an Energy Drive is so huge. You can safely attach a Fighting or Strong Energy to a Rockruff and feel safe.
- 4 Double Colorless Energy
- 3 Strong Energy
- 2 Fighting Energy
The list is relatively the same from older traditional lists and cards can be changed to your liking. I do not think I really have to give a great explanation for the card counts in this deck since this has been covered quite a bit and has been played since Crimson Invasion came out. My thought process on why this deck is a great play for Madison is because of the decrease in play of Buzzwole. I feel like this deck has tremendous matchups across the board, great matchups against Zoropod and Zoro Garb because Lycanroc puts in work versus them.
There are not really a whole lot of cards I would add to this other than more counts of Field Blower and Timer Ball. One other inclusion I thought about is adding a Diancie Prism Star. This can allow the deck to hit better numbers with Buzzwole and Lycanroc GX. The downside is the card takes up bench space. I would love to include Rescue Stretcher to allow me to be more reckless with my Pokémon discards but it’s more of a luxury. I’ve seen three Parallel City in this deck but I just think that is excessive. With Puzzles, two copies should be fine.
Malamar (Straight) 70/30 Ultra Necrozma 60/40
Like the ZoroGarb matchup you hit for Weakness on their Dawn Wings and you constantly pressure them. Dangerous Rogue GX deals well with Necrozma GX. The biggest key in this matchup is just sticking Parallel City to limit their options. They just have a very hard time to one-shot Zoroark GX because they need four Energies with Prismatic Burst. With Parallel City they should struggle to establish multiple Malamar to consistently use Prismatic Burst.
The Ultra Necrozma matchup is a bit harder because they hit numbers at an easier rate with Beast Energy and Choice Band. You still want to use the same plays in this matchup as the straight version. Save Dangerous Rogue for Ultra Necrozma, pick off Dawn Wings and other small stuff with Zoroark.
I tried everything I can do to make this matchup close to even but I just think it is impossible. The new tools they have acquired further widened the gap for this matchup. I think the most annoying attacker in this matchup is their Buzzwole FBI. You have no great way to knock it out and it is one prize attacker. I think the best way to play around it is to simply ignore it and try to use Bloodthirsty Eyes to pull up something and use Dangerous Rogue to get rid of Sledgehammer’s effect. You do not want to be knocking out more than two single prize attackers.
You have tools in Mewtwo and Mew EX to make the matchup somewhat bearable. It’s also worth noting that you can copy Dangerous Rogue GX with Mew EX if your opponent ever ignores Mew EX. I also like getting down as many Zoruas as I can in this matchup so they aren’t picked off easily. You can usually Brigette for three Zoruas while using the opposing Buzzroc player’s Brooklet Hill. Overall you need some stuff to go your way in this matchup for a chance of winning. Like I said earlier, this deck should be on the decline for Madison because of Malamar’s dominance. It is very possible to hit only one to three Buzzroc throughout the tournament.
That is going to be all with Zororoc, I feel I do not need to go to in depth about it since the deck has been around for a while and the list is relatively similar to older ones.
My deck choices for Madison would probably be Ultra Necrozma Malamar or Zoroark Garbodor. If I feel risky and expect a significant decrease in Buzzwole, then ZoroRoc is an excellent play. I like playing safe however, so I would probably have to put a lot of thought into it to run this deck. ZoroGarb seems like a safe option because it has solid matchups across the board and is a very versatile and controlling deck.
Another deck I wish I could have written about is Greninja Joey Ho won Melbourne Regionals with a very interesting Greninja BREAK/Greninja GX deck. I found this very interesting as he included the Break and the GX. Sadly I’ve had no time to test this deck. I feel like Greninja is very well positioned for Madison because it has very good matchups against Malamar and Zoroark variants. Even its Buzzwole matchup isn’t too terrible. Finding a new list to build it off can be hard because incorporating the new Frogadier and Greninja GX changes the deck a lot.
I love having new formats and I hope I can see more creations from Madison and here on out. As always thanks to all you guys who support Some1sPC! Until then, see you guys next time!
Edited by Neil Essymer