Hey all! It’s been awhile. I am back from Portland Regionals and had a fantastic time. Portland is a great city and it was definitely some of the most fun I’ve had at a tournament even though I had a poor performance. Looking back, I was pretty shocked to see how much the Metagame changed from Charlotte to Portland. In this article, I am going to reflect on my tournament, analyzing how Standard keeps shifting and going over some decks I would play for upcoming League Cups.

Portland Report

When I was heading to Portland, I was pretty lost on what to play. I knew Buzzroc was a pretty safe choice, but I really disliked playing Max Elixir decks. I felt like I had to run really hot throughout the tournament do well. My playstyle is normally something consistent and playing with variables I have more control over. I also felt Buzzwole was a pretty targeted deck meaning that there would be counter decks. I saw my roommate Peter Kica rolling with his Bulu deck again convincing Alex Hill and Azul to play it. Personally, I hate playing Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt because I brick everytime I play it. I quickly removed that as an option.

I read Olliver’s article about Lucario/Lycanroc and I was very intrigued. I was testing Lucario GX all day and I found it to be very good while messing around with a lot of different variants. I ended up going with a Zoroark/Lucario deck because I have been playing Zoroark GX for the majority of the season. I was drawn towards the consistency that Zoroark provided which lead me to dismiss the strengths of the other Lucario variants. Here is the list I played alongside my matches:

R1 Buzzwole/Lycanroc WW 1-0
R2 Lucario/Zoroark/Lycanroc LWW 2-0
R3 Lycanroc/Zoroark LWW 3-0
R4 Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt (Alex Hill) LWL 3-1
R5 Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt LWW 4-1
R6 Lucario/Buzzwole/Octillery LWL 4-2
R7 Lucario/Lycanroc LL 4-3

Zoroark GX/Lucario GX

Pokemon (19)

  • 4 Zorua
  • 4 Zorark GX
  • 4 Riolu
  • 2 Lucario gX
  • 1 Mew EX
  • 1 Mewtwo
  • 3 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers (33)

  • 4 Guzma
  • 3 N
  • 3 Brigette
  • 2 Cynthia
  • 1 Mallow
  • 1 Professor Kukui
  • 4 Puzzle Of Time
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 3 Field Blower
  • 2 Choice Band
  • 2 Evosoda
  • 1 Enhanced Hammer
  • 1 Float Stone
  • 1 Rescue Stretcher
  • 1 Parallel City

Energy (8)

  • 4 Double Colorless Energy
  • 4 Strong Energy

I started off my day pretty well, but then started to sputter out midway. I remember making a crucial misplay versus Ben Potter in Round 6 where I thought Sudowoodo can copy Lucario GX’s attack for knockout, but I forgot Sudowoodo needs to have damage on it to be able to utilize Cantankerous Beatdown GX. I ended up targeting the Sudowoodo foolishly. I could of used Lucario’s GX attack to knockout his only Buzzwole with Energy in play and win the game the following turn. I could have been 5-1 but dropped to 4-2 because of a dumb mistake. But hey, that’s what happens when you’re not familiar with your deck sometimes. It is also my fault that I did not really test my deck that much. Since I knew Zoroark so well, I did not really master the other part of my deck.

Round 7 I played against Olliver’s deck, Lucario/Lycanroc. I remember just getting dominated. My opponent went after my Zoroark GX’s with Guzma’s and Bloodthirsty Eyes. When my deck does not have Zoroark in play it struggles very hard. Due to my list only running one Mew EX and one Float Stone I had a hard time responding to Lucario’s. I found the matchup to be very hard with the list I had.

I was 4-3 at this point and decided to drop, I just lost faith in my deck because I did not feel like the list was correct. The top 64 Points/Packs did not really matter to me so I just went and relaxed. It felt great just hanging around instead potentially wasting my time playing out the last two rounds with a sub-optimal decklist. Learning from this experience, I should stop going into these tournaments with little practice. I should have practiced my deck more to find the optimal list and to be more familiar with the technical play. In the past, that has always worked for me. I’ll learn from last weekend. I just want you guys to learn from my mistakes. Practicing makes a huge difference in tournament performance,

After looking at the results from Portland, I noticed that Jake Morgan did very well with Lucario/Zoroark. His list is close to perfect if not perfect and shows you how much he practiced to find the correct counts. It is not too surprising to me that Zoroark can still do well in this Meta full of Fighting decks. It’s funny to me that the best performing Lucario deck was a Zoroark variant when most of the Fighting decks that Day 2 were using the Brooklet Hill/Octillery version. It just goes to show you that Zoroark GX is still a great card that can work in any Metagame.

Jake Morgan’s Top 4 list Zoroark GX/Lucario GX

Pokemon (20)

  • 4 Zorua
  • 4 Zorark GX
  • 3 Riolu
  • 2 Lucario GX
  • 2 Mew EX
  • 1 Mewtwo
  • 1 Regirock EX
  • 3 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers (32)

  • 3 Guzma
  • 3 N
  • 3 Brigette
  • 3 Cynthia
  • 1 Mallow
  • 4 Puzzle Of Time
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 2 Field Blower
  • 3 Choice Band
  • 2 Evosoda
  • 2 Float Stone
  • 2 Parallel City

Energy (8)

  • 4 Double Colorless Energy
  • 4 Strong Energy

Analyzing Jake’s list shows that it was very prepared for Fighting decks. Two Mew EX and two Float Stone is super to important in the current Meta. Higher counts of these cards help deal with opposing Buzzwoles and Lucario’s. I realized halfway through the tournament that I needed more copies of these cards in my deck to make the Fighting matchups better. I also did not play Regirock EX. This card makes a huge difference in the Bulu matchup because you can set up Knockouts with Choice Band+Strong Energy+Regirock. Double Parallel City is super strong because it just gives you control versus a lot of matchups. Parallel City can also deny an opposing Mew Ex from knocking out your Lucario. Another aspect I like about Jake’s list is the 3rd Cynthia. I always like consistency in decks in general and having three copies is something I wish I added before the tournament.

Now let’s look at some possible additions for Lucario/Zoroark. The Meta is constantly evolving and a couple of cards can make a huge difference in some matchups.

Possible Additions

Lucario FCO 47

This card does 40 damage for a single Fighting Energy. The reason why you would want to include this card is for the attacking Hoopa deck. If you did not know, there was a quad Hoopa deck that did very well at Portland. Lucario/Zoroark pretty much loses to that deck without a counter. With a Strong Energy, Lucario is one shotting Hoopa’s. You do not really need to worry about Fighting Fury Belts as long you conserve your Field Blowers. Realistically a Lucario can take care of two Hoopas. Even if they get a knockout, you can use Puzzle of Time to get it back.

Oranguru UPR

Duuuhh! Sylveon just reemerged this weekend. I hate having a bad matchup to Mill decks and I’m leaning towards including this card into the deck. I honestly might just include this card into all my decks that have bad Mill matchups. I am heavily considering playing it in every tournament from now one because I have been seeing Mill everywhere. This card is just good in general and will not be useless all the time. Shuffling back resources can save a game sometimes. Russell has a detailed analysis in his Golisopod/Zoroark article for using Oranguru in non-deck out matches, so definitely check that out if you want to know how to use Oranguru properly.

Acerola/3rd Field Blower

These cards improve the Espeon/Garbodor Matchup. Only having access to two Field Blower is very suspect against Garbodor variants because they can be very hard to find. Acerola is also very good against Espeon/Garbodor. Espeon/Garbodor is a deck that has a very low damage output. Their deck can really struggle to deal damage versus Zoroark GX and if you fully heal a Zoroark, you can swing the momentum of the game. You also play it to heal off the Espeon’s confusion damage. In general, both of these cards are just good overall, they can definitely help you in other matchups.

If you want to make a cut for any of these techs, I would suggest dropping a Parallel City and/or Cynthia. I love having more copies of those cards, but you have to make space for techs to not lose to those certain decks.

I still think this deck very good. Even though I did not do well with it, I still like it a lot. Like I said, my list was not very good for the tournament. This deck is excellent for Cups because Zoroark is very consistent. With the right techs, this deck deals with anything in the format.

Lucario/Buzzwole

Here is the next deck I’m going to cover: Lucario/Buzzwole. This deck had a solid performance taking multiple spots in Day 2 of Portland. This feels like one of the more slept on decks because of how Buzzroc and straight Lucario have taken the spotlight as the best Fighting decks. I was very intrigued with this deck when I played against it. I find it very cool how much power the deck can generate compared to a standard Buzzwole/Lycanroc deck. With Lucario attacking for a single Energy, the deck is able to load up more Energy on Buzzwoles. The Elixirs also allow you to load up Riolu so you can threaten your opponent with Cyclone Kick.

I am basing the list off of Ben Potter’s and Ross Cawthon’s lists from their Day 2 finishes.

Lucario GX/Buzzwole GX

Pokemon (19)

  • 3 Buzzwole GX
  • 3 Riolu
  • 2 Lucario GX
  • 2 Remoraid
  • 2 Octillery
  • 2 Regirock EX
  • 1 Oricorio GRI 56
  • 1 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers (32)

  • 4 Guzma
  • 4 Professor Sycamore
  • 1 Cynthia
  • 1 N
  • 1 Lillie
  • 4 Max Elixir
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 3 Choice Band
  • 3 Float Stone
  • 1 Field Blower
  • 1 Super Rod
  • 3 Brooklet Hill

Energy (13)

  • 9 Fighting Energy
  • 4 Strong Energy

The main core deck is very similar to Buzzwole/Lycanroc so the most of the list is self-explanatory from older lists.

3 Buzzwole GX

The main attacker of this deck. Three is perfectly fine is since you have a side attacker in Lucario GX. You will likely utilize all of Buzzwole’s attacks. In my testing I find this version to use Absorption GX more often than other Buzzwole decks because you often do not use Lucario’s GX attack.

3-2-1 Lucario GX

A 3-2 line has been perfect in my opinion. I know Ben Potter played two Riolus but I noticed they can get picked off or prized. A third copy seems to be correct in my opinion to deal with those bad scenarios. Like I stated earlier, the attacking Hoopa deck is something you should prepare for.  Lucario FCO is a solid counter to that deck.

2 Regirock EX

This has already been covered in decks such as Buzzroc, but obviously, this is just for hitting the right numbers. Two copies help power up Lucario GX’s attack to one shot potential.

1 Oricorio GRI

You need a counter for Mew EX since both Lucario and Buzzwole are weak to Psychic. Oricorio counters Mew EX very well since it is a single prize attacker. This card is also excellent in Buzzwole mirror since it can takes multiple Jet Punch hits from opposing Buzzwole.

4 Sycamore/1 Cynthia/1 N/1 Lillie

There is only one N in the list since this deck is looking to go for the lead in the prize trade. N does not help at all mid to late game. Having five reliable hard draw Supporters should help to advance your board state. This deck only plays seven draw Supporters, so you’re likely to use Wonder Tag turn one to start you up. Lillie is nice because you can draw up to eight cards which is better than a turn one Cynthia or a costly Professor Sycamore.

1 Field Blower

This is just for Garbodor and Fighting Fury Belts. I feel like this card is needed in the current Meta since players last weekend exposed Buzzwole decks for not running Field Blower. This is the reason why the attacking Hoopa deck and Garbodor did very well last weekend.

Possible Additions

Professor Kukui

Similar to Regirock EX, hitting the numbers to one shot can be game-changing. This card enables us to one shot higher HP Pokemon such as Buzzowle and Lycanroc.

4th Brooklet Hill/2nd Cynthia

More consistency is never bad and opening with Brooklet Hill is always super nice because it enhances your early game set up. The same reasoning goes for Cynthia, more Supporters are always good for the deck.

Rescue Stretcher vs Super Rod

I’m keeping Super Rod as of now, but I don’t dislike Rescue Stretcher. Sometimes you are forced to discard Lucario GX early since you want to save Aura Strike for a better time. Stretcher allows you to retrieve Lucario into hand whereas with Super Rod, you need to find Lucario again. The reason I prefer Super Rod is because I value the Energy. Shuffling back three Fighting is huge for Elixir decks. This deck also uses Professor Sycamore pretty aggressively and Super Rod is needed to recover from those costly discards.

Matchups

Buzzwole/Lycanroc 55/45

I always find that the Buzzwole deck that gets more Energy in play is the one that wins. The cool thing is that Lucario can knockout a Buzzwole with double Regirock  EX+Strong+Choice. Because Lucario can attack with a single Energy, you can focus on attaching the rest of your Energy onto Buzzwoles. This deck also deals with Oricorio and Mew quite well. Lucario can just one shot an Oricorio if they decide to attack with it.

Lucario/Zoroark 55/45

I feel like this matchup comes down to whoever can take the first two prizes and not miss a beat. They are going to try to abuse Mew EX. The good thing is that this deck runs Oricorio to deal with that. You also want to target their Zoroark GX with Lucario. Their deck struggles if they have less Zoroark in play. Another strategy I like to do is to try to take multiple Jet Punch knockouts on Zoruas. This can be very crucial because it means you only need two GX/ EX-knockouts for the rest of the game.

Espeon/Garbodor 40/60

I thought this matchup was actually near an auto-loss, but it was not as bad I thought. You can conserve Items and try pressure their board. If you are able to knock out an Espeon GX early with Buzzwole, it is very possible to win. Even early Jet Punches while conserving Items can go a long way. Trashalanche is very problematic because it can sweep you. Targeting down Trubbishes with Jet Punch+Strong Energy+Double Regirock EX can deny the opponent from setting up Garbodors.

Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt 50/50

I found this matchup to be very close to even. What you want to do is to set up your board and be as aggressive as possible. Lucario can one-shot Bulu’s with Regirock+Strong+Choice Band. It just comes down to whoever misses an attack. Obviously setting up Octillery is important to continue to advance the game. You could also find weaknesses in their board. They have to discard all of their Energies for Nature’s Judgement which means they are constantly relying on Vikavolt. You can make smart plays and kill their Vikavolts if they only have one in play. I also pretty much just use Absorption GX for this matchup. A Bulu player should never be able to activate Lucario’s GX attack for one-shots. If your Buzzwole is able to use Abpostion GX and Knuckle Impact, then you should be able to beat them. All in all this matchup is very simple and straightforward, just set up and take knockouts.

Hoopa 60/40

With Lucario FCO this matchup is a lot more workable. You can still lose, but I think it is a favorable matchup. Lucario’s Beatdown with Strong Energy one shots a Hoopa. You can even just knock them out with two Regirock EX and a Fighting Energy. What you want to do in this matchup is try to set up all of your Riolus. Your Lucario FCO can get knocked out, so it is important to conserve your Super Rod to get it back. Overall if you play smart, this matchup should be fine.

Greninja 55/45

Buzzwole can pressure down a Greninja player’s board early from double knockouts with Jet Punch. Loaded up Buzzwoles can deal with Greninja and Greninja Breaks. One huge thing in this matchup is that Riolu has 70 HP! This means the Greninja player cannot pick off Riolus with Giant Water Shuriken. Even if the Ninja player hits a Riolu for 60, that means they may be activating Lucario’s GX attack. Be wary of Tapu Fini GX in this matchup. Greninja lists have been including this card to deal with big threats.

Sylveon 55/45

I feel like if you can load up Buzzwole early, you can win very quickly. It is very realistic to Absorption GX and then follow up with a Knuckle Impact for four prizes. You can Jet Punch Sylveon GXs to set up knockouts for Lucario GX. This is where Super Rod shines in this matchup. Their goal is to run you out of Energy but you have 13 Energy plus Super Rod so you realistically have access to sixteen Energy. One tip is to make sure to attach to your benched Buzzwole because its Energy will not get removed by Team Flare Grunt. You want to power it up on the bench then Float Stone retreat into it when you’re ready. It is also worth noting that you need to save your Field Blower to remove their Body Building Dumbbells.

How standard has shifted and how it may shift going forward.

Xander Pero made an excellent Meta call and played Espeon Garbodor. Everyone knew Buzzwole was going to be very popular because of its dominance in Charlotte. Lucario GX released for Portland and was expected to see play. Espeon was a very good call because it can beat both of those decks. With the popularity of both Lucario and Buzzwole, it was natural to think that Zoroark would see a decline. Zoroark is a hard matchup for Espeon, so that was one less difficult matchup Xander had to worry about.

The next two decks that did well were Hoopa and Sylveon. Many of the top decks prior to the tournament did not run strong non GX attackers to combat Hoopa. Hoopa was normally played as a Mill deck, which means it can lose to Oranguru UPR, but the attacking version can beat that tech. This deck was an excellent play for the weekend since it punishes players for playing GX/EX reliant decks. I believe players will adapt and start running counters to this deck and I know I will!

Sylveons popularity was a shock to me this weekend, I did not really expect it to be that popular. A lot of good players played the deck and took it to great finishes. I think this deck is very hard to play because Magical Ribbon can be a complex attack to use properly. It has great matchups across the board. I’m not too sure how popular this will be, but I will probably playing Oranguru UPR in my decks to try to beat this deck.

How Standard may shift forward

With the popularity of Garbodor, I think decks such as Zoroark and Gardevoir are very well positioned for upcoming League Cups. Zoroark lists with at least three Field Blowers and a copy of Acerola should do well versus Garbodor decks. I even think ZoroPod is still solid going forward because it can abuse Acerola against Espeon/Garbodor.

I think Gardevoir (Brokenvoir) is very well positioned in the Meta right now. The deck can beat Sylveon Mill because of Twilight GX, Destroy Tapu Bulu because of Max Potions/Parallel City, beat Hoopa with Gallade and beat Garbodor if built correctly.

Olliver covered Gardevoir in his last article explaining some concepts of the deck. I don’t need to do that much breakdown since he has it covered.  So here is the link:

Living Lycanroc Star – Gardevoir, Ho-Oh/Salazzle, and Lucario/Lycanroc in Standard

I’ll just post my list because it is different

Gardevoir

Pokemon (18)

  • 4 Ralts
  • 2 Kirlia
  • 1 Gallade
  • 3 Gardevoir GX
  • 3 Tapu Lele-GX
  • 2 Remoraid
  • 1 Octillery
  • 1 Alolan Vulpix
  • 1 Mewtwo EV0

Trainers (32)

  • 4 N
  • 2 Brigette
  • 3 Guzma
  • 3 Cynthia
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 4 Rare Candy
  • 2 Max Potion
  • 3 Field Blower
  • 2 Choice Band
  • 1 Super Rod
  • 2 Parallel City

Energy (11)

  • 4 Double Colorless Energy
  • 8 Fairy Energy

I’ve pretty much just added a 3rd Field Blower to combat the Garbodor Matchup. I went for the heavy Max Potion version because I think it is very strong against the following decks: Buzzwole, Espeon/Garbodor and Vikavolt. I really like Double Parallel City because it provides a lot of control. It’s very strong against Buzzwole, Lucario and Zoroark decks since those decks like to occupy a full bench.

Like I said this deck beats Sylveon pretty easily because you have Super Rod and Twilight GX. As long you play conservatively, the matchup is very easy. Hoopa decks are very easy to beat as long you can get Gallade out. They have no way to one shot it, so you can just abuse Max Potion and mow through their deck.

I think Lucario variants are easier to beat than Lycanroc focused decks because you can just load up a big Gardevoir and one shot them. The Buzzwole variants can still be hard to beat but I do not think any Lucario variants are bad matchups.

There is some stuff you can mess around with this list. An 8th Fairy Energy, Sycamore, Giratina Promo, Rescue Stretcher, 3rd Kirlia, Evosoda/Timer Ball and or 2nd Gallade. You can cut a Parallel City or Field Blower depending on the Meta.

Here are some new matchups:

Espeon/Garbodor 60/40

Since we play three Field Blower, we have reliable access to our Abilities. When you think about it we can have access to six Field Blower because of Twilight GX. One key in this matchup is that hitting Espeon GX with Lele is very strong. It very difficult to one shot an Espeon GX sometimes so our best route is two shot it. You can Energy Drive to set up a two-shot then retreat into a Gardevoir to finish off a KO on Espeon. Max Potions are also very good in this matchup because their deck has a very low damage output. Make sure you time your GX attack correctly! If they have a Trashlanche established Twilight GX just nullifies it.

Lucario variants 50/50 to 60/40

I found this matchup to be fine. There are a lot Lucario variants running around so I categorized them all together. The good aspect about Lucario GX is that you cannot really hit into it because of their GX attack. Gardevoir plays around that by just one shotting it. The goal here is to just set up a giant Gardevoir to overwhelm the Lucario player.

Conclusion

The two current decks that I like right now are Gardevoir and Lucario/Buzzwole. I feel like Gardevoir is very well positioned in the Meta. Lucario/Buzzwole is a hard-hitting consistent deck. That’s about it guys, I’ll hopefully be grinding some League Cups in the downtime. I love how Standard is looking right now. An evolving format with so many different decks. This is one of the better formats I’ve played in years. If you guys need help for League Cups, let me know! Good luck to those that are chasing your invite! See ya then!

-Kian