Hey there again Some1sPC’s readers!
NAIC took place a few weeks ago and today I came to talk a little bit about what happened that weekend. Moreover, by the end of the article, I will talk about the deck I played at the event, but not in too much depth otherwise this article is going to become more like a book! I ended up playing Hoopa SLG/Latios/Mewtwo EVO. It is a quite fun deck that started out as some sort of joke but eventually became quite a strong deck against the metagame.
The tournament took place from July 6th to July 8th in Columbus, Ohio, at the Greater Columbus Convention Center where we had a grand total of 1534 players in the Masters Division, in which were divided in two flights – blue and orange flights. Each flight had 9 rounds that consecutively would turn into top 32 or X-2, whatever was greater. Then, 64 players would play at day 2 with an extra of 6 rounds
TOP 8 ended up like this:
1. Stéphane Ivanoff: Zoroark GX/Garbodor
2. Tord Reklev: Zoroark GX
3. Jimmy Pendarvis: Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX
4. Adam Hawkins: Malamar/Psychic
5. Ryan Antonucci: Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX
6. Edward Kuang: Malamar/Psychic
7. Fabien Pujol: Zoroark GX/Garbodor
8. Aaron Tarbell: Yvetal Break/Hoopa
In this article I will take a look at the most played decks in top 64, which also shows the most prevalent decks in the tournament.
As we analyze this tournament’s top 64, we have the following played decks:
Before NAIC, I already had the conviction that the amount of Zoroark would be very similar or even greater than Buzzwole — a deck that everyone thought that would be the main one in that tournament. I think of this meta as a triangle, with Zoroark / variants, Buzzwole / variants and Malamar / variants, but, personally, from all of those, Zoroark stands out more. My only surprise in this tournament was the large amount of Buzzwole GX / Garbodor. I particularly find the deck very inconsistent and easy to dribble, but I’ll talk more in depth about each relevant deck we’ve seen in the tournament, analyzing everyone’s points, and in the end it will be possible to see why the Zoroarks / variants excelled.
Zoroark GX Variants
In large tournaments, what people are looking for or should look for when building a list is consistency. A list that has the least chance of opening with dead hands, that can play the 9 rounds, or at least most of them, the way the deck was made to perform.
In Zoroark decks, this consistency comes from basically being able to set it up easily by playing 3 to 4 Brigette, also by Zoroark’s own ability (Trade) that promotes card versatility and control even from the discard pile since you have access to Puzzle of Time in key moments. This is a very big advantage against all meta decks.
● Zoroark GX/Golisopod GX.
It was the most prevalent variant in TOP64 and I believe that the reasons are clear to everyone.
Golisopod GX is a great partner for Zoroark. Its weakness is good for the current metagame, it can deal good damage for only one energy. It has a whopping 210 HP. Also, it deals very well with one of the biggest threats of Zoroark GX Lycanroc GX. Crossing Cut-GX is very powerful against any deck that has EX / GX because it can get to 180 damage with a choice band. Most of the lists I saw played counter catcher, which makes this deck much stronger, by plays like Counter Catcher + N. I particularly like the version of Zoroark GX / Lycanroc GX because I feel better using this deck, but I have full conviction that Golisopod GX is the best partner for Zoroark for sure. Jimmy Pendarvis ended up getting to the top4 with the deck. What I found interesting in his list was the rainbow energy. From what I read about the deck this allowed him to be able to use Tapu Lele’s GX attack, which in the mirror is very strong, or even the opponent’s Lycanroc GX’s GX attack. In my head it seems very difficult to use it, especially Dangerous Rogue GX, since it takes two energies, and the deck does not have any type of energy acceleration or even energy switch / multiswitch.
The deck has a lot of control over items, and can deal well against Garbotoxin by using 2-3 Field Blowers and being able to reuse them when needed through Puzzle of Time. The HP of Zoroark + Resistance are also good weapons against the Trashalanche Garbodor. So, I think it’s a good choice against Zorogarb.
Because of Lycanroc GX’s own weakness, and because it has more features to handle Zoroark mirrors like Acerola / Max Potion or even Oranguru ULP, I think it’s also a good choice against Zoroark / Lycanroc. Against Buzzwole, in addition to everything that has already been said, cards like Acerola / Max Potion / Mewtwo EVO are essential to being able to handle the large amount of Babybuzz. Mew EX is also very important in this match to get a quick knockout. I still find the version with Garbodor much easier because, with 2-3 field blower, you can cope well with Garbodor, since Jet Punch in this version is not as strong as in the version with Lycanroc GX, which threatens a possible knockout to Zoroark GX. This makes them more susceptible to Acerola / Max Potion, or even Mew EX, if the Garbotoxin is not activated. Another very good matchup for the deck is Malamar and its variants. This is especially true because of Zoroark’s HP + the resistance, which makes it difficult to knock Zoroark out in just one hit. The only one who can get this knockout is Necrozma GX, but it would take 4 energies, which is not an easy job, and it may end up being knocked out by the Golisopod GX’s Crossing Cut GX, or even the Mew EX before getting the required energy. Also, Zoroark itself can knock out Dawn Wings Necrozma GX without much difficulty (through weakness). Other versions of Malamar, such as with babies (Hoopa STS, Giratina Promo, Lunala prism, Giratina prism, Mewtwo SM77). Mewtwo GX becomes very fragile against any opponent using Mew EX or even Mewtwo EVO. Marshadow GX can become a threat by copying Dawn Wings Necrozma’s GX attack, but with counter catcher / guzma it’s possible to deal with it very well. In cases where the opponent cannot copy the Dawn Wings GX attack, Zoroark GX itself with choice band attached or even Golisopod’s GX attack can deal with it.
The version of Malamar / Ultra Necrozma GX can do better than the psychic version, for getting knockouts with greater ease. Even if the deck is a bit slower, especially the Beast Ring versions, it is a well-played game if Zoroark cannot deal with the Beast Ring. But, if Zoroark manages to take only one Beast Ring turn, and the opponent cannot find at least two of them, it’s much more difficult. Again, it’s a much slower deck than the Zoroark decks, as well as being much more inconsistent which is already a drawback.
● Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX
The second most prevalent variant of Zoroark in the TOP 64.
No doubt it’s my favorite variant. I love how the Lycanroc GX is versatile and manages to take the game on its own on many occasions especially if compared to other versions of Zoroark GX. Of course, Golisopod GX is a threat, but if you can deal with wimpod fast you put yourself in a very good position in the game. If you run Babybuzz in the list, you can trade well against the Zoroark GX decks, even if they have Golisopod GX. I believe that the lists will change according to the priority of each player. I got to test the list I posted here at the NAIC’s week for some time before the tournament because I figured I would play against many Zoroark decks. But, during the tournament I saw some people using latios, I imagine it was a counter for the Buzzwole decks, but I do not really feel the need for it in the deck.
Against Buzzwole GX / Lycanroc GX I believe the deck plays well especially if you run Acerola / Max Potion to be able to cope with Babybuzz at the beginning of the game, while your Lycanroc is in the making. The Garbodor version is easier to handle because you have enough resources to deal with Garbotoxin and even Trashalanche, same thing goes for Zoropod.
I also believe that this version can play well against Zoroark / Garbodor since, Lycanroc GX often can withstand at least two hits and can easily knock out Zoroark. If you can get two Lycanroc GX in the match, without having exaggerated items usage you can easily swing the match in your favor.
Against Malamar decks it’s the same thing as Zoropod because, the deck has all the resources to deal with all the attackers of a Malamar deck. The only difference for me is that it becomes more difficult to use Lycanroc GX from the moment the opponent has Mewtwo GX since, its GX attack can knock out Lycanroc. Still, it’s not the end of the world, as the Mewtwo EVO + Choice band or even the Mew EX can handle it. Marshadow GX is one of the few chances that the Malamar deck has against any Zoroark deck if it is possible to copy Dawn Wings GX attack, but Lycanroc’s ability + guzma can deal with this without major problems.
In my testing sessions the Ultra Necroma version was worse off against Zorolycan than against Zoropod. This is because of Lycanroc’s GX ability to deal with an Ultra Necroma without much difficulty. In addition, its ability is very important to be able to bring Ultra Necroma from the bench, which will probably be “recharging” its energies.
● Zoroark GX/Garbodor
It is the variant that I like the least, but it is a must say in this article since Stéphane Ivanoff won the tournament with it and Fabien Pujol got TOP 8 with Stéphane’s same 60-card deck.
Watching his matches, the deck was perfect … When I tested the deck, it was nothing like that. Playing with this deck, I always had trouble finding the right cards to be able to get garbodor and Zoroark at the same time. With this deck I like float stone instead of bursting balloon. In the version with bursting balloon you find yourself wasting your puzzle of time on bursting and in a mirror the priority has to be Parallel City / Acerola … I like the float stone because it gives you more stability in the game, since you can choose when the garbotoxin goes active. Even so, I believe it is the worst version of Zoroark, especially when it comes to the mirror match. Though the deck has great features to deal with opponent’s Zoroark (Garbotoxin + N + Parallel City), I feel like it’s not enough. Most Zoroark lists use 2-3 Field Blowers, in addition to not discarding many items, which makes it difficult to use trashlanche.
In the finals, he ended up winning against Tord Reklev, with a totally different Zoroark deck. In the first game he ended up winning because Tord’s deck uses a great amount of items, and with that the Trashalanche gained gallows. But as I mentioned above, I believe that most Zoroark decks can have control of the items in the disposal, so the Trashalanche is not a big problem. That being said, the opponent can focus on dealing damage and getting knockouts on the Zoroarks, or even on the Garbotoxin.
Against Zoropod I believe the best thing is to be able to activate the Garbotoxin as quickly as possible along with the N and parallel city to prevent your opponent from getting their board set up. However, cards like counter catcher can make you suffer a little since it is not very difficult to knock out garbotoxin.
For me, the worst match on the deck is Zororoc. Zorogarb needs to rush after Rockruff so they do not become a threat while also being able to get down Garbotoxin and parallel city. In the Zoroark / Lycanroc lists that only play special energies (Double and Strong) I believe that it is easier to handle since you can disarm Lycanroc. Without strong energy, it cannot knock out Trashalanche, which facilitates the knockout to Lycanroc. So, the deck always has exits and manages to turn well, but I do not find this version as consistent as any other Zoroark.
Stéphane’s list used the Latios and that makes the matchup against Buzzwole more favorable, even more so because it uses Unit Energy. Besides the deck suffering from weakness and especially with Trashalanche, most of the lists do not use field blower, which makes the Garbotoxin very strong by stopping Abyssal Hand and Bloodthirsty Eyes. Lycanroc may be the only saving grace in the matchup, as long as the opponent does not spend too many items for free and hunts fast for Trubbish instead of Zorua, even though it seems tempting. Buzzgarb is a very good match for simply not having Lycanroc GX. The deck depends on items (Beast Ring) and the amount of GX attackers is much higher than non-GX. Most of the lists I saw only used a copy of Babybuzz. So I think it’s the best matchup for the deck.
● Zoroark GX
The deck that surprised me most in this tournament. How can someone play with a Zoroark-only deck against a metagame full of Buzzwole? It sounds crazy, but the people who played the deck said that games are 50-50 against Buzzwole and that Weakness Policy can handle it. I did not get to test the deck much, but from what I tested, it was very difficult to get a Weakness Policy on every Zoroark on the field and I would always have a Zoroark that became too vulnerable. The deck is very well thought out and has a great advantage against any deck of the format. You can choose to get prizes, make plays to discard energy, use Deliquent, Oranguru — things that can end up leaving your opponent with no resources. Reading the game, often times can be complicated. Playing the deck I had a lot of difficulty with which way to choose, because if the path chosen is not right, I do not think it will be possible to win the game in any way later. The deck really abuses Oranguru ULP, so most of the time you can guarantee a Zoroark knockout, but the best option is to play guzma and use Resource Management. It really was a deck well thought out, and that plays well played against any version of Zoroark.
Buzzwole GX Variants
When the Forbidden Light collection came out, Buzzroc became a totally unbalanced deck in the first few months. The deck was dominant and almost no deck in the format could win against it, not even Malamar decks. It is possible to easily deal with Buzzwole who has weakness to Psychic as there are some good Psychic Pokémon in the format that can be used in any deck like Mewtwo EVO and Latios SLG. On the other hand, it is very difficult to deal with the Lycanroc GX, its weakness to Grass makes it great and only has a bad time against Golisopod GX in the format, which is popularly used along with Zoroark GX, which has weakness to Fighting types, which ends up not being enough.
With that in mind, the main match that Buzzroc players needed to worry about is the mirror match, since Buzzroc was an above average deck, it would be normal to face a high number of mirror matches in a tournament. It was then that Buzzroc decks adapted to face the mirror match and started using three to four copies of Baby Buzzwole and only one or two copies of Buzzwole GX. With this change, the deck played better against mirror and suffered less for the large number of psychic Pokémon present in the metagame.
Although this change makes tons of sense in the Buzzroc deck, I also believe that the Buzzroc is easier to counter. There were a few ways to do that and players just had to figure them out. At NAIC we saw some solutions like Yveltal Break, Mewtwo EVO and Latios SLG combined with Acerola or even Weakness Policy, since Buzzroc lists do not usually use Field Blower. In addition, when trading Buzzwole GX for Baby Buzzwole, Buzzroc deck loses some of its aggressiveness and becomes a slower deck with lower damage and longer matches. Needless to say, Buzzwole GX’s Jet Punch attack far outweighs the opponent’s Baby Buzzwole’s Sledgehammer. The 30 damage on the bench from Jet Punch opens doors to a range of possibilities and multiple knockouts. The same goes for Knuckle Impact, which knocks out virtually everything in the format while Baby Buzz’s Swing Around offers a high but insufficient damage to do one hit ko in many cases. In addition, when a Buzzwole GX is knocked out, Beast Ring is activated, allowing the deck to continue to further pressure the opponent. In short, Buzzroc focused on Baby Buzzwole is super suited to be in the format and I think it’s the right way to go, but the deck slows down and deals less damage, causing the opponent to have more time in the game and this opens doors for Buzzroc to be controlled by the opponent. If before Zoroark GX decks had no chance of winning against Buzzroc due to strong pressure from start to finish, now the Zoroark GX decks can play much better. By offering extra turns, Zoroark GX decks can do their setup and find key cards to turn the match in time like Counter Catcher, Enhanced Hammer, Field Blower and N.
Lastly, I would say that I have trouble finding draw Supporters in the Buzzroc deck and I do not like the deck being so dependent on Octillery. One of the reasons I set Buzzroc aside was the amount of games I lost through bad hands and dead draws. It even looks like it was using a Greninja deck, which when spinning has the ability to do incredible things and win against any deck of the game, but its constant stalling makes the deck not reliable enough to play in such an important tournament. It’s horrible to study a deck for so long and then get in the tournament and lose because you had bad hands that leave you unable to put into practice everything you studied.
This Buzzwole variant allows you to enjoy the maximum potential of the very strong Beast Ring and N. This is enough to make this variant one of the main decks of the format, especially if Beast Ring and N are used together in the same turn. This makes an extremely strong combination that’s capable of turning the path of any match. Like every Garbodor deck, it’s a slow deck and has consistency issues though, the deck uses many draw supporters. In the same way that you can complicate your opponent’s life, at one time or another your own Garbodor will also disrupt you. The whole deck revolves around Buzzwole GX and its Beast Ring, so the strategy of the deck becomes quite linear. Use Jet Punch at the beginning as much as you can so that later you can use your Beast Ring and knock out anything with Knuckle Impact. The deck is just not as linear as I said before, Jet Punch opens a series of possibilities because the attack hits 30 on the bench, are practically two attacks (although weak) on your opponent. By choosing the Garbodor variant, the deck relinquishes the incredible ability of the Diancie Prism Star and the Jet Punch, which is the only attack in the deck at the beginning of the game, ends up not being so destructive. Another difference of this variant is that in this deck you play Fighting Fury Belt instead of Choice Band. It is clear that the purpose of the Jet Punch in this deck is not to get knockouts, but only to deliver damage to the table so that Knuckle impact damage is
enough to knock out anything, while the Fighting Fury Belt increases Buzzwole GX’s HP to 230 hp, making its own knockout difficult.
All the extra spaces in the deck are dedicated to consistency. That’s why the deck has plenty of energy, supporter, balls and even order pad. Many players complain that order pad is a coin flip card and so this is a card that should not be taken seriously, or even the entire deck of BuzzGarb should not be taken seriously because it depends on Order Pad. I can say that the deck is not dependent on the order pad. The deck has enough features to work even if you miss all of your order pad, but if you hit, of course, the deck will work much better. Sometimes you’ll find yourself deploying the order pad to win a match, but on the flip side, you would not have the slightest chance of winning without that card in those cases.
I do not particularly like the deck. But, it’s not because of inconsistency, I even find BuzzGarb more consistent than Buzzroc. I do not like the deck being so linear and being weak to Psychic, allowing decks like Malamar or techs like Mewtwo EVO to become a big problem. I do not like the beginning of the game to be so slow and with little aggression, I think this gives time for the opponent to plan their setup and prepare better for the end of the game, which is when the deck really shines. Jet Punch should put more pressure on the opponent, wherein the ideal world Buzzgarb deck can get two prizes cards before going with all-in with Knuckle Impact. I also do not think Garbodor is as strong in the format to give up other powerful cards as Diancie Prism Star and Lycanroc GX.
I understand that Garbotoxin is a strong ability and it brings surprising results. It is common to use N and the opponent to lose turns later by not drawing anything relevant to dribble the Gardodor, but at the same time the Diancie Prism Star allows you to reach surprising numbers and Lycanroc GX is one of the safest Pokémon of the format. It has an ability that also brings unexpected results, has two great attacks and has a weakness that is not exploited by almost anything in the format other than Golisopod GX.
In addition to the two most well-known versions of Malamar, the version with only Psychic energy and Necrozma GX and the version with Metal energies and Ultra Necrozma GX, there were other versions of Malamar at NAIC. Malamar alone offers the opportunity to use several different Pokémon because of its ability, which allows extra energizing in the turn when there is energy in the discard pile. Pokémon that were completely unviable or even titled as bad became playable and good thanks to Malamar. Knowing this, a new variant of Malamar appeared. Basically, it’s a Malamar deck with non-GX attackers. I am generalizing this latest version of Malamar to make it easier to do the analysis, since this variant has many iterations, it can be combined with Pokémon GX, it can be combined with Rainbow energies and attackers who are neither Psychic like Sudowoodo BKP and Shaymin SLG, and can even be combined with Shining Lugia, as player Nick Capobianco did and reached 30th place in the competition. All these variants have their positive and negative points that I will explain later.
● Psychic Malamar (Based on: http://limitlesstcg.com/decks/?list=1198)
Undoubtedly it is the variant that is most successful in the metagame. It can beat Buzzroc and BuzzGarb most of the time, has bad matches against Zoroark GX but far from being an autoloss and it also manages to have balanced matches against the other versions of Malamar. This variant stands out for the consistency and the range of options that the deck offers. The Necrozma GX offers unlimited damage and has a GX that is situational but can be interesting against Zoroark GX, the Dawn Wings Necrozma GX in addition to its ability, which makes the deck much more fluid, is weak to Darkness and resistance to Psychic which is great against Buzzwole decks and does not take on the weakness of other Malamar decks. We have Marshadow GX which clearly is a good answer for Zoroark GX, but that truly is a much better card than it actually looks and we have Mewtwo GX which has a very interesting GX attack that serves mainly to knock out Lycanroc GX. Mewtwo GX can also help navigate complicated situations, such as knocking out a Hoopa SLG or even knocking out Dawn Wings Necrozma GX from the opponent even after it has used its GX attack and had been immune to damage, as the Mewtwo GX attack denies any effect on the opponent’s Pokémon. Finally, I find it necessary to run one (or two if possible) non-GX Pokémon in the deck to help in the exchange of prizes and to win against decks focused on Hoopa SLG. Some options are Hoopa Psychic STS, Lunala Prism Star, Giratina Prism Star, Mimikyu, Mew FCO, Mewtwo Promo, Baby Dawn Wings Necrozma and Giratina Promo. The Hoopa STS is certainly my favorite, its 130 HP is high enough not to be knocked out by Zoroark GX, its first attack can be used early on and is much better than it looks, it makes a lot of difference in the math of some matchups and its second attack hits 130 which is enough damage to knock out any Pokémon in two hits.
● Ultra Necrozma Malamar
o Standard Variant (Based on: http://limitlesstcg.com/decks/?list=1198)
We have two versions within this variant. The first variant is basically an adaptation of a conventional Psychic Malamar deck. Trade Necrozma GX, Marshadow GX and Mewtwo GX for three copies of Ultra Necromax GX, exchange some Psychic energies for metal energies and then we’ll have a different variant. Of course, again I am generalizing, but basically these would be the main differences. Ultra Necroma GX theoretically manages to do the same work that Mewtwo, Marshadow and Necrozma would do. It can knock out Lycanroc GX, Zoroark GX and anything high HP which is the main purpose of these three Pokémon. Yet, these three Pokémon possess unique features that can make a difference in situational moments, so to say that Ultra Necroma GX does the work of three Pokemon at once would be unfair. But, after all, what is the biggest advantage to use Ultra Necrozma GX? Its attack is so good that it ends up being useful at almost every moment and there is not the slightest problem of putting in down on the bench or starting a match with it as it has 190 HP and its weakness to Fairy virtually does not exist in the current metagame. Unlike the Psychic version, you do not want to have a Marshadow GX on the field against Buzzroc, you do not want a Mewtwo GX in the field against Zoroark GX and you generally do not want Necrozma GX in the field since you can have an improved version of it.
Oh you ask me if the Ultra Necroma GX is so good, why is the variant with it not the best? Well, the biggest problem mentioned by the players about this variant is finding the Metal energies that the Ultra Necromax GX has to have in order to attack. It really is a problem, but I always thought it could be solved. To be honest, I never saw it as such a problem. I do not think the deck is a worse variant because of that. I think the main problem with this variant is that Necrozma GX cannot perform the same functions as Mewtwo GX, Marshadow GX and Necrozma GX with the same quality in certain matchups. Against Buzzroc, Mewtwo GX is better because in addition to knocking out the Lycanroc GX, the next turn it stays energized and can knock out a Buzzwole in sequence without relying on Dawn Wings Necrozma GX and Malamar. Otherwise, your other two attacks can be used early in the game without the need for setup. Against Zoroark GX, Marshadow GX has the ability to copy Dawn Wings Necrozma GX’s GX attack and this could mean getting four prizes and knockout two GX Pokémon in two turns with Marshadow GX, which would be pretty much enough to get the win. Necrozma GX is actually a worse Necrozma GX, but it is more consistent to use only Psychic energies.
o Beast Ring Variant (Based on: http://limitlesstcg.com/decks/?list=1162)
The other Ultra Necroma GX / Malamar variant is the one that I really think shows how Ultra Necroma GX is best used and has the most potential, the version focused on Beast Ring. This variant slightly worsens the consistency of the deck to achieve a better matchup against Zoroark GX, but ends up making the game a little worse against several other popular decks. In this version, the deck is not so dependent on Malamar to get the energy attachments and that is why it can play against Zoroark GX. As we all know, it’s easy for a Zoroark GX deck to hunt for Malamar throughout the game and the only way to beat a Zoroark GX deck is by knocking it out in just one hit. Ultra Necroma GX is the best Pokémon in all Malamar variants to do this job, since it manages to knock out a Zoroark GX with only 3 energies (one metal and two psychic) + Choice Band. It is virtually guaranteed that it will not be knocked out from a single hit for practically anything that your opponent might play alongisde Zoroark GX, with Lycanroc GX being the scariest partner in our eyes. The problem with Necrozma GX is that it needs energies and to get energies it needs Malamar. Without Malamar, Ultra Necrozma does nothing, unless you play four copies of Beast Ring in the deck. Beast Ring allows you to power the Ultra Necroma with ease without the need of Malamar and Dawn Wings Necroma GX on the bench which makes Zoroark GX’s life much more difficult and makes the game much more playable. However, it is never guaranteed that you will find Beast Ring at the right time, even more so with a deck with limited spaces and no card-drawing capabilities like Octillery in Buzzroc decks. Because of this, it is not guaranteed that you will win against Zoroark GX decks even if you play with this version which is not severely punished by the Zoroark GX deck. When building a deck so focused on Ultra Necroma and Beast Ring, the strategy becomes much more linear and without great varieties of resources. This is never good and your opponent can adapt themselves to prevent your very few paths to the victory. As I said before, Ultra Necroma GX really has a high enough power on itself to handle different matchups, but for it to work it takes a lot of effort that can be overshadowed by a good ole N, for example.
● Non GX Malamar Variant
Malamar Shining Lugia (http://limitlesstcg.com/decks/?list=1199)
Malamar with 4 non GX (http://limitlesstcg.com/decks/?list=1206)
This is a variant that is not very well-known in the competitive environment and may surprise opponents. The matchup against Buzzwole variants becomes much better in general. Against Malamar variants, the deck also gets better, but the match against Zoroark GX ends up getting worse. During the NAIC famous players like Ross Cawthon and Pablo Meza used a version of Malamar in which they used four Hoopa STS. Against Buzzwole the game is much better because the non-GX attackers are very difficult to deal with and when they are knocked out they only offer a prize. The only chance Buzzroc has to win is using Lycanroc GX, which can be knocked out in two hits by attackers like Hoopa STS. Buzzwole GX and Baby Buzzwole have a hard time knocking out Hoopa STS while Hoopa can easily knock them out in single a hit. Against Malamar variants, the situation is similar to Buzzroc’s matchup, where the opponent is limited to using Dawn Wings Necrozma GX or Ultra Necroma GX, which are knocked out in two hits while other attackers like Marshadow GX, Necrozma GX and Mewtwo GX are severely punished by weakness to Psychic. Already against Zoroark GX the situation is complicated even more. Hoopa STS has 130 HP and has resistance against Zoroark GX and its attack deals 130, however it will cause 110 damage to the Zoroark GX due to resistance, but that is still enough to knock out Zoroark GX in two hits. At best, Hoopa STS has an advantage over Zoroark GX as they both need two hits to knock out each other while one is not GX / EX and the other is GX / EX. But the reality is not like that. As said before, for a Malamar deck to win against Zoroark GX, it is necessary to knock out a Zoroark GX in one hit, otherwise, Zoroark GX can retreat, heal and use Guzma to knock out Malamar. These variants of Non-GX-focused Malamar do not have this specific Pokémon that knocks out a Zoroark GX in one hit, so the strategy is to always try to knock out in two hits and that does not work. Whether Shinning Lugia or Hoopa STS, whenever the Malamar player hits a Zoroark GX and does not knock it out, the opponent will probably do everything to use Guzma and knock out a Malamar. In Malamar decks you usually have no draw cards and access to Guzma is more complicated. This will happen repeatedly until you get to the point where you do not have Malamar on the bench. When that happens, then the Zoroark GX player will start knocking out Hoopa STS and picking up the remaining prizes.
Why did decks featuring Hoopa SHL/Yvetal Break end up doing so well?
I believe the metagame was very consolidated and, at least for me, it is easier to create that deck that deals with three specific. Hoopa SHL is very good with Zoroark GX decks, simply for the fact that many people are not using Oranguru ULP and they do not play non-GX / EX Pokemon to deal with. Against Buzzwole, Latios / Mewtwo EVO can deal with the Baby Buzz and even with the GX Pokémon in general. Yvetal Break has a nice resistance and HP to deal with Buzzwole, even more when you pair it up with Latios/Tapu Koko that can strenghthen Yveltal’s attack which will later help get knockouts on a Lycanroc GX, for example, which is one of the deck’s biggest threats if you can’t get a Hoopa out in time. The matchup against BuzzGarb is quite boring, but still winnable if you can deny Beast Rings. Latios and Yveltal Break are clutch in this matchup.
I believe that the worst matches for this deck should be against Malamar / Babies (Hoopa STS, Giratina PR, Shinning Lugia) as you have one prize attackers that can deal with all deck attackers. Another hard matchup is against a Zoroark GX deck like the one the guys from Team Limitless were playing, because you have limited resources (energies) and they can keep recycling energy denial cards to disrupt you. Also, Oranguru ULP is a pain, since you do not have the resources to deal with it. You can get a draw off a match, but winning is quite impossible.
I ended up playing with a Hoopa SHL / Latios / Mewtwo deck and finished the tournament 6-2-1. The list I used is already posted on my twitter. Follow me there, I always post my lists: @nathgf! The deck idea came about because my boyfriend, Gabriel Semedo and I were tired of playing Zoroark / Buzz / Malamar. He wanted to play a League Cup with something different and ended up choosing Hoopa. We tested it a few times and the deck turned out well. It turned out he won a League Cup and made top four in another one if I’m not mistaken. I was away for a week traveling and with the help of Gustavo Wada, they came up with the list that we used in the tournament. I confess, it was really fun to use this deck in the tournament! I do not remember very well all the matches, but I know that my defeats were Buzzwole / Garbodor with Prism Energy and Trashalanche and a Zoroark GX / Golisopod GX with Oranguru ULP + Tapu Koko. Oranguru makes the game very bad for us, I do not see a way to win, unless I play cards like Lusamine / Team Rocket’s Handiwork. I ended up tying against a Buzzroc too. My victories I remember were: Espeon / Garb, Zoroark GX / Golisopod GX, Ultra Necrozma / Malamar, Buzzwole GX / Garbodor, another Zoroark GX / Golisopod GX and another Buzzwole GX / Garbodor. I believe that was it, but I do not remember for sure. The deck is a lot of fun! It’s a shame I lost against a single card, which was Oranguru ULP.
Sorry for writing so much. I think I got a bit excited.
I hope you all like it! Any comment and criticism please leave in the comment section. 😉