Worlds is over and we’re already back into the grind. I had a great time at Nashville and it was a memorable experience. So, I want to go over my worlds tournament report and talk about two decks that I have been heavily testing for the new format in Rayquaza GX and Zoroark/Lycanroc.

For Worlds, I did not overthink my deck choice and went with Buzzwole/Lycanroc because the deck tested very well for me. I also went with it because the deck did not tie very much compared to Zoroark decks. This ended up being true since I only had one match go to time the entire weekend. I had decided on my deck about four or five days in advance which helped stop me from making a last minute or day before deck decision. I really just wanted to focus on consistency so I could play as many games as I could.

My list was very simple, ordinary and consistent. I went with no Field Blower because I would have had to run two copies to make it work. Finding two cards to cut for Blower was hard and probably would have made the deck a bit worse. I went with four Max Elixir and two Beast Ring to put further emphasis on consistency. I really disliked opening Beast Ring so I upped the Elixir count to be more aggressive. The four elixir also complimented Lycanroc well since Claw Slash became a much better attack in the metagame.

My Day One match-ups:

R1 Buzzroc WW
R2 Rayquaza WW
R3 BuzzGarb/Shrine WW
R4 Zoro/Garb LWL
R5 BuzzGarb Shrine LWL
R6 Buzzroc WW
R7 BuzzGarb Shrine WLW
R8 Buzzroc WW

I started of well going 3-0 then took two straight narrow losses to put me at 3-2. It felt bad during that stretch, but I just took it one game at a time. After that, I won three straight to overcome my bad beat and made day two which was exciting for me. I’ve had day two invites in the previous three seasons and it felt great to fulfill a new challenge by earning day two through day one.
For the next day, I was thinking over my deck decision and was wondering if I should switch to Zoroark/Garbodor. It was a deck I was testing extensively and I knew I could pilot it well. I built it as a second option and sleeved it up just in case I wanted to play it. Right before I went to sleep I wrote out the same Buzzroc list from day one. That morning, two minutes before the player meeting, I added Zygarde EX to the deck because a lot of others told me it would be great for the metagame. I ended up cutting the second Octillery because there was not really any other cut that made sense. I went for a more greedy cut since I knew I  would need some luck to do well in this tournament. In the end, Zygarde EX was great for the tournament and I am glad I ended up running it.

My Day Two match-ups:

Magnezone LL
Zoro/Garb LWL
Zoro/Garb WW
Buzzroc/Shrine WW
Buzzroc/WW
Banette/Garb LL
Buzzroc WLW

4-3

I started off day two pretty poorly with two straight losses. It was frustrating bricking versus Magnezone since I knew I could beat it if I could play draw supporters. I then lost to Stephane Ivanoff who is a master at playing Zoro/Garb. His counter Catcher got me in our set and he was just excellent at piloting his deck. After an 0-2 start, I rallied back to 3-2 feeling hopeful that if I went 4-2-1 or 5-2 I could get some prizes. Round 6 I played against Rahul Reddy and both games I had control until I lost to the Garbotoxin/ N combination and could not close either game out. It was a little disheartening, but those games were pretty much outside of my control. After my 3rd loss, I knew I was pretty much out of the running for getting prizes.

Looking back, I feel like I did the best I could and I don’t regret my deck decision. It did kind of sting to miss Top 32, but I had a great time regardless. Making day two gave me more confidence and I can still make myself better as a player by reflecting on this weekend. World’s was also incredibly fun and hanging out with everybody was what really made the weekend worth it.

SM-ON

Looking on this to new format, we’re going to see a major shift in how decks are built. Losing Sycamore, N and Octillery will shift how decks are built. With Sycamore being rotated, decks cannot be as aggressive or dig so hard. With N being gone, we have to play cards like Judge and Marshadow SLG for disruption. Also, attacks like Magical ribbon and Algorithm GX and Supporters like Steven’s resolve become more powerful since there is no N in the format. Decks will not have the same consistency with Octillery being gone. Along the same line, the loss of Float Stone is actually going hurt a lot of decks such as Buzz Roc and Malamar.
I also love that Garbotoxin and Parallel city are gone. I’ve always felt like Parallel city was too broken and killed a lot of Archetypes. The same goes for Garbotoxin, the card was just ridiculous and was too broken with its main partner Trashalanche. I feel like with these two cards rotating, we will see a lot more archetypes rise. We already seeing decks like Gardevoir and Metagross resurging.

Here are the following decks that I think are going to be relevant in the upcoming format:

Metagross
Gardevoir/Sylveon
Malamar Straight
Ultra Necrozma/Malamar
Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt
Buzzwole/Lycanroc
Zoroark/Lycanroc
Zoroark/Greninja
Zoroark/Gardevoir
Zoroark/Garbodor
Zoroark/Decidueye
Rayquaza

Now, I’m not sure if all of these decks are good and this list should slim down as the format evolves and we see which of these decks are good. Zoroark is still going to be really strong because of its inherent consistency and flexibility and I feel like Zoroark will probably good until it gets rotated. Decks like Metagross, Gardevoir/Sylveon and Vikavolt are a lot stronger now that the cards that harmed them are gone. I think Buzzwole/Lycanroc is still relevant, but the rotation did hurt it a lot. Malamar will be a very good deck since it can played in so many different ways and has good consistency thanks to Mysterious Treasure. Also, with Parallel and Toxin rotating, it will have a lot more freedom to do whatever it wants. I also think that Bulu decks will pop up again since it pretty much only lost Sycamore and the deck can replace Skyla with Volkner.

Rayquaza GX

The first deck I really wanted to try in the format is Rayquaza GX. The deck outperformed my expectations at worlds. I did not expect to take three Top 8 spots in a field full of BuzzGarb shrine and Zoroark/Garbodor. The main thing the deck has going for it is consistency and power. Tempest GX and just going through your deck makes the deck very consistent.

This deck lost Max Elixir, Professor Sycamore and Float stone. These are big losses and will certainly hurt the deck going forward. At the worlds Championships, a number of players chose not to include Latias Prism Star. I was very on and off the card and I agreed you did not really need to run the card in that format. Now, I think you have to Latias Prism Star to make up for the loss of Max Elixir. I also think you need Wishful Baton to compensate for the loss of Max Elixir. Losing Float Stone does hurt, but there are alternatives such as Switch, Escape rope or even Tate and Liza. Here is the list that I have been extensively testing.

3 Pheromosa

This card serves multiple purposes Free retreat, Beast Ring Target and it has a potential closing attack. Losing Float Stone was big as I said. The main reason you ran Float Stone was to retreat into your attacker quickly. Pheromosa can perform very similarly to what Float Stone did for this deck. Retreating right into Rayquaza GX or Latias is super convenient for this deck. The second reason why we run this card is that it can use Beast Ring. With the loss of Max Elixir, Beast Ring serves as a replacement that gives this deck more power.

1 Marshadow

We saw this card played in two of the three Rayquaza GX decks that got Top 8 at worlds, I feel like this card is even more powerful With N being rotated. The reason why this card good too is that you can play it turn one and can force your opponent into a mediocre hand. This deck should draw out of a four card easily since there are outs like Ultra balls, Mysterious treasure and even Tempest GX.

1 Tapu Lele GX

One copy has been fine in my testing. You cannot really afford to bench two of them most of the time anyway. This deck also just runs one copy in here so it is less likely to start if than if it were to run two of them.

4 Cynthia / 2 Lillie

With the loss of Sycamore, we need to find replacement draw supporters in this deck. I’ve always liked Lillie in this deck and I feel like two is a good count to have. The strongest Draw supporter that replaces Sycamore is Cynthia, I opted to run four in here. Cynthia has been a fine replacement in my testing. You run so many burnable cards that you still get good value off Cynthia. The downside is that you can’t discard energy as efficiently like you did with Sycamore.

4 Mysterious Treasure / 3 Ultra Ball

Mysterious Treasure is obviously a must for this deck. There’s no question that four should be in here. Three Ultra Ball has been a fine count for more outs to search for this deck. Just having seven Pokemon to search cards gives more consistency than other decks that cannot run Mysterious Treasure effectively.

4 Acro Bike

This card is just more consistency and has synergy with this deck by discarding energy. Using Acro Bike first to discard an energy sets you up reliably get an energy off for Stormy Winds.

3 Wishful Baton

Like I said earlier, you tend to rely on this card more now that Max Elixir is gone. This card obviously helps maintain energy on board. Less decks are running Field Blower since Parallel and Toxin are gone which means Baton can stick more often.

3 Beast Ring

This is strictly for Pheromosa since it is the Beast Ring target for this deck. I chose to run three copies so I can likely hit it for the “Beast Ring turns”. You only really need to use one over a course of a game to boost up your damage output. You’re also likely to discard one or two off Stormy winds so I would not really worry too much if they get discarded.

3 Rescue Stretcher/2 Pal Pad

Recovery, Recovery, Recovery!! This deck needs to use Stormy Winds every time to maintain energy on board. To make up for the discards I chose to include these five copies of these cards. Stretcher recycles Rayquaza’s each time they get knocked out. Pal Pads have been testing fine since this deck can bad have supporter discards from Stormy Winds. There only six draw supporters in this deck so it is imperative sometimes to shuffle back some.

1 Switch/1 Escape Rope

With the loss of Float Stone, this deck still needs a way to have a non-supporter way to move Rayquaza GX out of the active position. I chose to run a split of these two cards. Both cards are situational for their uses but they still do the job.

8/8 Energy

7/7 energy count was typically the norm from the previous format. I went 8/8 so I can see more energy to discard them. You have a higher chance of discarding an energy with Stormy Winds or Acro Bike. I used to run Super Rod in the previous format to recover energy late game. Even with 14 from the previous format, I still ran out of late-game attachments if I did not get to use Super Rod. This deck also relies on using Dreamy Mist early on, you just want to see as many energy discarded so you can get great value off Dreamy Mist.

Potential Inclusions

Devoured Field

The extra math is very helpful against the following Pokemon: Buzzwole, Buzzwole GX and Metagross GX. A way to hit higher numbers can make a big difference in these matchups

Champion’s Festival

I heard this card was played in Rayquaza GX decks at Worlds. I thought it was a bit of a clever tech to combat decks that run Shrine of Punishment. I’m not sure if it is even worth space to include in this deck since you would probably have to run 2-3 of them to make it work. This decks style is just to be aggressive and hard-hitting which, makes the healing strategy a bit redundant.

Field Blower

Since Garbotoxin and Parallel City are gone, this card is not as needed as before. However, it can still be good to combat cards like Wishful baton, Choice band etc.

Choice Band

Similar to Devoured Field, this is played strictly for Numbers. It can allow Pheromosa to one shot Pokemon like Zygarde GX, Lapras GX and Lycanroc GX. Even hitting more against Rayquaza is useful too.

If I were to make any cuts for now, I may thin down the Pheromosa and Beast ring line for these potential inclusions.

Matchups

Zoroark Variants

If a Zoroark deck does not have a way to one shot a Rayquaza GX multiples times. They will get run over. Golisopod GX and Lycanroc GX can only one-shot Rayquaza one time. They will struggle with the next Rayquaza’s because their attackers will get out traded from the one-shots. As the Rayquaza Player, you typically just to set up behind Latias and try to establish energy on the field. After that, you’re typically just trying to take three GX knockouts after you’re done setting up.

Zoroark/Gardevoir is a bit harder, but can be beatable since they are a slow deck. If you can maintain the prize lead and attain eight energy, this matchup is still fine. The Garbodor variant is still probably the toughest matchup since this deck runs a lot of items. If you somehow set up with under eight items, then that matchup becomes very winnable.

I think the spread variants of Zoroark in Decidueye or Greninja can be hard to deal with. Both pokemon have massive HP and can skip your Batons by using their ability for knockout. Their ability also can set up Zoroark GX to be a good attacker because it allows them to knockout Ray much faster. I would just try to set up a bunch of energy in this matchup in preparation that you probably will not get to use Wishful Baton too much in this matchup.

Malamar

This Matchup has been close for me, but it depends on the variant. Rayquaza is a tad bit faster and more consistent than Malamar variants. Another question is whether or not Malamar decks are going to run field blower or not and whether they can hit them at the right time to remove your Wishful Batons. More than likely, you will get ahead and they will respond with Moon Eclipse GX. The turn they Moon Eclipse, you want try to use Guzma or Escape Rope to achieve a knockout. If they are running a more GX focused version the matchup becomes is easier. I think where this matchup can be problematic is if they are running Lunala Prism Star or a version focused on Shining Lugia and Shrine of Punishment. Lunala Prism can easily one shot Rayquaza GX and leave the prize trade in their favor. This matchup just depends on what type of variant the Malamar player is playing.

Metagross

This matchup can be a bit hard. They can one-shot Rayquaza’s with Choice Band and have a massive amount of HP. You need nine energy to knock out a Metagross. You basically just want to set up behind Latias and be the first one by knocking their Metagross’s. You hope they cannot set up a 3rd and 4th one too. I think it is a good point to save your Marshadow for when they GX. You can not allow them to keep their Algorithm and it will probably lose you the game if you let them keep it. A turn one Marshadow can be good against Metagross, but you need to save it for that turn.

Gardevoir/Sylveon

This matchup is pretty rough because of the typing. It is winnable if you get the chance to out-speed them. You basically want to set up a bunch of Rays with energy and eventually Marshadow them at a well-timed spot. You want to knock out their Sylveon GX and Let Loose away their Magical Ribbon. If you can, then you can attain a good position from that swing. Wishful Batons and Beast Ring are very important to maintain energy and knockout Gardevoir GX.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc

What I try to do in this matchup is to try to knockout Diancie for my first prize. Then, knock out a GX Pokemon to go from five to three prizes. You always want to do this to play around Sledgehammer. Killing Diancie is also good because then their deck becomes a lot weaker without the damage boost. You pretty much want to get ahead and then it becomes a knockout war. Rayquaza is a bit faster so you should be able to lead the game more often.

Vikavolt

You are faster in this matchup and you should be able to just take GX knockouts faster. Marshadow is very good against them turn one since they can draw more bad cards in their four card hand since they are a stage two deck.

Zoroark/Lycanroc

 

Now as you can see this list is very techy. I got the idea of Unit Energy FDY from a Japanese list I saw a while back. I thought it was clever that it can fulfill Lycanroc’s attack cost and also run techs like Tapu Lele and Hoopa.

4-4 Zoroark/3-2 Lycanroc/3 Tapu Lele

These counts have always been standard with this deck and I feel like there is no need to change it. With stretcher, you do not really need a big line of Lycanroc. 4-4 Zoroark and three Lele is for max consistency.

1 Diancie Prism Star

With Strong energy rotated, you still want ways to increase Lycanroc GX and Buzzwole attack power. With Parallel City gone, you should be able to bench this and keep it on board for the most part.

1 Buzzwole

I feel like this is just a strong one prize attacker against Zoroark variants. If you can make your opponent take two prizes first, then this can take some great, cheap, knockouts.

1 Hoopa

Since we run Unit Energy I feel like this a solid inclusion to wall those decks that just run heavy GX Pokemon in there deck. We run Multi-switch to pull this out of nowhere.

1 Oranguru

To compensate for the loss of Puzzles, this is a good substitute to replenish Double Colorless energy. I feel like this card is just fundamentally broken regardless and shuffling resources is excellent.

1 Tapu Lele UPR

This is just a tech for Rayquaza. Psywave equipped with Choice Band can knockout a Ray GX for a single Unit Energy. This just sways that matchup in your favor since prize you are trading two for one.

1 Deoxys

This just for the Buzzwole matchup. This card is essentially the same as Mewtwo EVO. Everyone knows but with Choice Band, Psychic knocks out Buzzwole GX for a clean one-shot.

3 Cynthia 2 Lillie

This are just you consistency draw supporters. Zoroarks deck never relied on Sycamore so its draw engine never really got impacted. This deck uses turn one Lillie more than ever than before.

2 Judge

Without N, this deck needs some sort of disruption. I feel like this deck can use this card well since it can use trade right after using Judge. This deck can also spam this card since its find it very easily

1 Mallow

This has always been a standard card in this deck and just searching for any two cards essentially is very strong.

1 Professor Kukui

This just to hit for number since this deck does need that extra damage output sometimes. The classic choice band + kukui riotous beating on Tapu Lele GX is always a common knockout with this deck. You will see other math occurrences for this card and this can just use it very well.

2 Acerola 3 Guzma

This card I have liked since because it makes the deck more defensive. I mainly put this for Zoroark Mirrors and Metagross. Also with Parallel being to get rid of benched pokemon you have another way of clearing your benched pokemon.
This deck has never needed four Guzma since it can use Lycanroc GX. I feel like three is a good count and you have pal pad to reshuffle some back in.

4 Nest Ball 3 Ultra Ball 2 Timer Ball

With Brigette gone, I just went for a heavy nest ball approach. My game plan is pretty much going for a t1 Lillie while trying to find as many Nest Balls as I can. Three ultra balls is a bit weird. Four is still good but three has been for me. You cannot really afford to use this card all the time since this deck can use Puzzles anymore and discarding card does hurt. Timer Ball is the replacement for Evosoda but this deck did run timer ball over Evosoda to search out Lycanroc.

1 Multi-Switch

Powering up an attacker in a pinch is just very strong since this deck runs so many different attackers. This card is certainly weaker than before since Puzzle is gone which means you can reuse it unless you use Oranguru. Also losing float stone does remove this plays you did before with this card.

1 Rescue Stretcher 1 Pal Pad

These are cards that compensate for the loss of Puzzle of time. Ive always been a big fan of rescue stretcher since it allows you trade pokemon more freely. Pal pad is just nice since you shuffle back in Guzma’s, Acerola and even Kukui. You find your supporter again easier since this deck does dig through the deck efficiently

1 Escape Board

This a replacement for Float Stone. I usually attach this to Tapu Lele GX so I can have a pivot for the game into Buzzwole FLI or for Tapu Lele UPR for different matchupss.

3 Choice Band

Three is needed in my opinion since you cannot Puzzle them back like before. This deck needs that extra damage boost and high count is great for this deck

4/3/1 Energy

I chose to run one fighting energy just play around Enhanced Hammer. A Lycanroc with a fighting should be safe be able to attack safer when it cannot be enhanced Hammered.

Potential Inclusions

1-2 Enhanced Hammer

I feel like this card is great in mirror since DCE are more precious than before. They cannot be Puzzled back which makes hammer just better than before. You can just go for an energy denial strategy which Oranguru.

Apricorn Maker

I need to test card more but I have been favoring turn one Lillie more. If can I two Zorua down, I feel like I do not need to Apricorn Maker. I feel like this is just to slow to use after turn two.

I still am going to test list more and see if any of the techs are worth it or now. This deck very flexible and i want to try other things in here.

Matchups

Zoroark Variants

Lycanroc has always been a great attacker in Zoroark Mirror. Buzzwole FLI is also excellent in Zoroark of they fall into it. If I were to gameplan, My goal would just try to GX their side their partner (Shiftry/ Decidueye/ Gardevoir/ Greninja / Golisopod etc) and Claw Slash one or Two Zoroarks. Just having the ability to pressure and one shot Zoroarks is too good.

Malamar

With the loss of Parallel city, I feel like matchup did become a little bit closer. I feel like it is still a relatively fine matchup because Zoroarks typing. It is worth noting that Malamar decks are packing Marshadow GX. You want save your Deoxys to counter Marshadow because Psychic one shots them. What I would like to do is just go after than Malamar repeatedly. They cannot really afford to bench dawn wings and such. You have typing advantage on Dawn Wings because of Zoroark. You have typing advantage on Mewtwo GX, Marshadow GX and Necrozma GX from Deoxys. If they are playing Ultra Necrozma, you can save your dangerous rogue on that. For the most part, as long you can take a lead, this matchup is fine. You have good responses to all their attackers and you are a quicker and more aggressive deck.

Rayquaza GX

This is why I added in the Unit Energy and Tapu Lele UPR. If are able to use Tapu Lele two times in this matchup, you win almost every time. Even using it once is very good.

Metagross

I feel like this matchup is a little bit favored but I’m not completely sure if Metagross decks running Dusk Mane Necrozma GX or not. That lists that I have been seeing are just running Max consistency and Metagross focused. If they are not running Dusk Mane, they have no way to one shot a Lycanroc or Zoroark. If you have that information on their deck, then you can keep using Acerola over and over outpace there Max Potions. With two Acerola, Pal pad and Oranguru UPR, I feel like this strategy can definitely work.
Something that happens in this matchup is you can just overwhelm them early one by pressuring their Beldum and Metang. With Lycanroc you alot more aggression than other decks. Another thing to note in this matchup is you want to definitely use judge when they algorithm GX. There two copies in here and you should not have too much trouble finding it with Tapu Lele GX and Zoroark GX.

Gardevoir/Sylveon

Similarly to the Metagross matchup, Using Judge on their Magical ribbons is imperative. They have a good chance of bricking of a four card hand since they are a stage two deck, If you can manage to knockout a Sylveon and use Judge, then you can disrupt them pretty well, Other than that, you want to keep pressuring Kirlia and Ralts. With Brigette being gone in the format, its alot harder for Gardevoir to lay down three ralts.
Over the course of the game, there Gardevoir can GET big, How you would to counteract this is using Deoxys, Fairy Lele or Buzzwole FLi to try to shot it with One prized attackers. I found this strategy to helpful to slow the game. Dangerous Rogue is also excellent if they have four bench spaces which they more than likely they will have since they need keep benching ralts. Overall I think this matchup is a little bit favorable but can go wrong if they get Magical Ribbons off and huge Gardevoirs.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc

Like I said earlier, I think Buzzwole Lycanroc is a significantly worse deck than before. They can really go aggro Lycanroc GX which has always been great against Zoroark decks. There deck focus more on attacking with Buzzwole GX which means Deoxys excels in this matchup. You’re Lycanroc can match there’s which also great. I would try always knockout Diancie first I was playing any deck against Buzzwole Lycanroc. I feel like without Diancie there deck is significantly weaker. I said this sequence before but knocking out Diancie then a GX pokemon is a just great plays for multiple reasons. I just think Zoroark decks can beat up Buzzwole more than before since rotation hurt Buzzwole a lot’

Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt

This has always been a sketchy matchup for Zoroark/Lycanroc. Their deck does not really lose much from rotation and losing Puzzles does hurt. I do think its winnable but if they get going, there is nothing you can really do. There are some occasions where they can only bench one grubbin going second which should give you an advantage to keep pressuring them. Sometimes Bulu decks can stumble since they are a stage two deck which means you can steal some games here and there. I think there some prize planning you can from Using a Dangerous GX on a Bulu, knocking A Lele with A KukuiI play, and maybe killing two singles prized attackers. There also a neat math play in this matchup where you can go Claw Slash+Diancie+Choice Band+ Kukui for a one shot on a Bulu. You can run Devoured Field to do this with Zoroark also but I think it would only help for this matchup. Overall, if they stumble you can have a solid chance of winning if they just run hot, it is very hard to beat.

Conclusion

I’ve been liking there two decks a lot in testing alongside with some Malamars decks I’ve been working on. I feel like this format is a bit refreshing and it is great that we do not have deal with cards like Garbotoxin and Parallel city killing a bunch of archetypes. This format will definitely evolve as the months go by and we will what narrows downs. I feel like Zoroark and Malamar variant should relevant decks for until they rotated since they are just too strong. It was a pleasure doing this article and I felt very good about writing this one right after worlds because of excitement I have felt since testing a new format. Thank you, readers, for supporting us, we appreciate everyone one of you. If you ever have any questions feel free to message me on Facebook or twitters. I am always glad to help!

Kian