Hello trainers! My name is Jimmy Taylor and this is my first article for Dead Draw Gaming! I am a member of the DDG AM team and have been playing Pokémon for about a year now and have experienced a few big successes in my short time playing, including top 4 at Dallas 2017! Today I am going to be showing you the Zoroark/Lycanroc list that my friend Poet Larsen and I have been playing a variant of it since December; also doing a small tournament report from Portland. Some notable finishes with the list have been: me- top 32 in Portland, Poet Larsen top 16 in Portland, and Caleb Gedemer winning the special event in Columbia with the list. Here is the list from Portland.
4 Zorua (SLG-52)
4 Zoroark GX (SLG-77)
2 Lycanroc GX (GRI-74)
1 Mew EX (LTR-RC24)
1 Mewtwo (EVO-51)
3 Tapu Lele GX (GRI-60)
1 Rockruff (GRI-73)
2 Rockruff (PR-SM06)
2 Strong Energy - Special
4 Double Colorless Energy – Special
2 Fighting Energy - Basic
My friends and I all got to Portland pretty early during the day and we were all kind of all over the place on what deck to play. We anticipated a ton of Lucario variants because it was the first weekend the card was legal; with that in mind, Zoroark seemed to be like a bad play for the weekend. After testing various different decks that day, Poet and I came to the conclusion that parallel city absolutely wrecks Lucario variants. The deck that abuses parallel city the best is hands down Zororoc, so we both stuck to what we knew best and played the deck. As it turns out that was a pretty good call. We both ended up having a fantastic day 1 both finishing with records of 6-1-2 both getting into day 2. Sadly, I don’t remember in detail all of the matches I faced in Portland, but some interesting information about matches/statistics I do remember.
- Didn’t lose a single match to buzzwole lycanroc-(Kill rock ruff the second you see it)
- Had mediocre results against Lucario. 1-1-1 (should’ve been 3-0) A misplay occurred that caused a tie, and my opponent hit detect 5 turns in a row when I had game on board LOL
- Quad hoopa is a miserable matchup that can be fixed by teching the new oranguru
- Vikavolt Tapu Bulu is an unfavorable matchup that can be won by cool disruption plays the deck has access too.
Day two ended up going pretty terribly for me sadly; however, my friend Poet ended up getting 9th place. We both loved the deck and think its in a great position going forward.
The list is designed to have cards/techs for almost every matchup. This specific list doesn’t have just dominating matchups in its favor; however, it has almost 50% matchups across the board. With that in mind, this is a good deck to bring into an unknown meta. If you are expecting certain decks are more popular for a particular tournament, its very easy to switch up a few cards in the deck to counter the decks you would expect to face.
Here are some tech options:
Sudowoodo: Helps against Duskmane, Solgaleo, Bulu/ weird OHKO decks, gives us another attacker to one shot Zoroarks as well. Easy to abuse with Multiswitch.
Enhanced hammer: With the increase in Greninja and Zororoc mirror matches this could come in handy
Oranguru: If you see any mill in the room make sure this is in your deck! Otherwise the only way to beat it is to pray for the donk.
Giratina promo: With the Greninja gaining popularity again, this might have to be included in lists going forward
Field Blower: Adding a third blower helps with garbotoxin decks and also dealing with opposing parallel cities which can be back breaking depending on the matchup
Devoured Field: If you are expecting more Greninja, or other decks that have Pokemon with 130HP or even 150(with the help of Professor Kukiu) this could be another option to help achieve OHKOs and take prizes easier
Why Parallel City
One of the most defining aspects of the list is the addition of three Parallel City. Some argue that it isn’t needed as it reduces your dangerous rouge damage, others believe the disruption and ability to hinder our opponent’s setup outweighs the drop in Dangerous Rouge damage. In this section of the article I would like to explain why every Zororoc deck in standard should be playing Parallel City, and why the trade-off of less reliable damage for Dangerous Rouge is worth the disruption that Parallel offers.
I’d like to argue that Parallel City gives Zororoc three major options throughout a game: denying/reducing the effectiveness of a turn 1 Brigette or turn 1 setup, preventing your opponent from fulling setting up or using the support Pokemon in their deck, this includes cards like Octillery, Gardy/Gallade, Lycanroc, and Golisipod, and lastly, being a key card in one of the most damaging combos in the game, Bloodthirsty Eyes, Parallel City, and N all at once. After highlighting all these attributes, I hope I convince you why Parallel City is a necessity in Zororoc.
The first point starts from the very beginning of the game. Going first, if you get that turn 1 Parallel City down on your opponent, the game can be sealed right there. This is especially the case for Brigette reliant decks such as Zoroark, Gardevoir, Bulu, and Zoroark/Lucario. Without an answer, Parallel can immediately put your opponent behind when trying to setup their board state. It also gives you a way to bump away decks abusing Brooklet Hill like Greninja, Buzzroc, BuzzCario, and Fire.
After turn 1, Parallel still offers you the ability to deny your opponent a proper setup. In all matchups it forces them from setting up multiple attackers, or multiple support pokemon. Against something like Zorocario, it gives you the option to keep them at two Zoroarks and a Riolu, or against Zoropod, it confines them to roughly the same setup with Wimpod instead of Riolu. This is incredibly important for Zororoc to find success. Reducing those decks down to one support Pokemon makes it an incredibly easy to target down that side pokemon, the Riolu or Wimpod, with one of three Guzma’s in our deck, or one of the Lycanroc’s we have. This strategy would not be nearly as effective if the opponent had access to multiple Riolus/Wimpods AND multiple Zoroarks. Our opponent becomes stuck in a difficult position.
You might agree, sure Parallel City hurts Zoroark decks, but what about the rest of the field? Zoroark has become less of a dominate force, what about all the other options out there like Bulu and Buzzwole? This brings me to another of my points. What I consider to be the most damaging combo in the game, Lycanroc’ing up draw support Pokemon+Parallel City+N against any deck. One of the greatest benefits of Zororoc is its consistency. With so many Zoroarks on board, you are constantly burning through your deck and thinning it out to exactly what you need for the end game. This reduces the effectiveness that late game N’s cause to you, giving you yet another advantage against any non-Zoroark deck. The most significant aspect of this combo is the potent ability it has in forcing your opponent to go into top deck mode while you have access to multiple Trade’s and a thinned-out deck. Add to the fact that you can use Bloodthirsty Eye’s to bring up a support pokemon, specifically Octillery, Zoroark, or Oranguru, and play the N at the same time makes the combo even more damaging. The nail in the coffin though is Parallel City. Killing their draw engine and giving them a small hand size hurts but forcing them to work with a smaller bench puts them so far behind. It reduces the number of attackers they can setup, and forces them into an awkward situation if they have to bench Tapu Lele Gx to get out of the situation.
(Note, this combo doesn’t work against every deck and in all situations. Some variations will also work. This is mainly case when playing against Vikabulu).
When you Lycanroc up something like Octillery, N your opponent to 2-4 cards, and Parallel them down to kill off any other support they may have, it becomes difficult for almost any deck to get the resources they need to win the game. When decks like Lucario, BuzzRoc, or Gardy get N’d down with no Pokemon draw engine, it’s very easy for them to whiff and lose a ton of pressure. That’s when Zororoc rolls them over and steamrolls through almost any setup. The heavy disruption that is offered by Lycanroc, Parallel, and N allow for Zororoc to clean up any setup. The deck can get ahead and win with the opponent having a slow setup, or it can win by disrupting your opponent in the late game, causing them to miss key card combinations to finish the game. Parallel City lets you control your opponents board the entire game. That effect is further amplified by the addition of Lycanroc and N. This combo is why I believe the trade-off in Dangerous Rouge damage is worth it. Not having access to this combo means Zororoc can be more easily over-run by an opponents quick start, and means that the full potential of Bloodthirsty eyes isn’t realized when your opponent has the ability to bench more than one of that pokemon.
Hopefully that gives solid reasoning for why I think Parallel City is needed in Zororoc. I’d be happy to talk with anyone 1-on-1 if they are interested in discussing the topic more! Next, lets move onto the matchups for Zororoc.
An important thing to note when looking at match ups for Zororoc is that almost every match up is around 50-50. This is because almost every match up requires a lot of skill and is not as straight forward as other decks like Buzzroc. In general, if you play every match up just right, you rarely lose. However, any misplay, and the deck will severely punish you. I highly recommend testing quite a bit with the deck before you take it to a tournament.
Greninja- 45-55, slightly their favor but still very winnable.
This match up is reliant on how well Greninja manages to setup. If they brick, or have a somewhat slow start, you easily take over the game and get them too far behind to make that late game N, stitch, enhanced combo effective. If they do manage to get up and running smoothly, then the game becomes tough. It is important to get a Lycanroc up as soon as possible in this match up and thin your deck out as much as possible so you can consistently get your strong’s/Kukui’s when you need them.
This match up is where triple Guzma and the combination of Mewtwo and mew become incredibly important. By having Mewtwo and mew in the deck you can handle Buzzwole relatively easily. The main problem is if Buzzroc gets a Lycanroc up. This is where three Guzma’s come in clutch. With three, it’s easy to Guzma pick off any Rockruff that they drop on the bench. Parallel City also helps in reducing their bench down, meaning they will typically only have 1 Rockruff down at any one point. A very manageable situation. In this match up you want to kill any Rockruff with fire and clean up with late game N’s and Mewtwo/Mew.
This is one of Zororoc’s more annoying match ups, requiring a ton of skill and proper Parallel City management to win. The biggest aspect of this match up is knowing how, and when, to use Parallel city. Going first, you want to try and get the turn 1 Parallel down, preventing them from benching more than one Grubbin. In general, my rule is if they have only one Grubbin or Vikavolt down I keep Parallel on them and try to kill that Grubbin or Vikavolt, otherwise I parallel myself to prevent KO’s. If you can pick off the Grubbin or Vikavolt, the game becomes abusing the Parallel City + N combo to deny their response to you. Otherwise look to trade attacks, using Acerola to win out on the 2hko battle. Kicabulu is the easier version to play against, the Octillery version is much more difficult to handle if they setup. Its hard to give explicit “do this” advice for this match up as its incredibly situational and based on the momentum in the game. I can only recommend practicing this match up a lot and knowing when to change the position of Parallel City.
I consider this match up to be favored towards Zoroark because of its resistance and how consistent Zoroark is in all stages of the game. While garb can throw a wrench into Zoroark’s plans, if you just draw somewhat well the match up isn’t difficult. A third blower makes garb even less effective, but cuts had to be made in the deck for other cards. Some people swap out a Parallel City for a third Blower to help make the garb match up even better. This is definitely an option to switch, but I personally don’t think is totally necessary. In general, you want to get a Zoroark up and running to start 2hkoing everything. At the same time, try setting up a Lycanroc in the background to handle any potential Drampa’s or Tauros’ they may bring up.
Some argue this match up is favored for Zoropod, I believe it’s quite the opposite. Here the strategy is to get Parallel City to stick and constantly take out Wimpods on the bench until your opponent whiffs a turn of benching a Wimpod. Once they do, hit the Golisipod. From there they’re forced to either Acerola, thereby giving you another Wimpod to take out, or they will have to let the Golisipod go down. Once you take the Golisipod down, swap to Lycanroc and clean up two quick Zoroark kills. This match is defined by following the process above. Once the Golisipod is cleared from the field, the match up swings massively in your favor. If there ever is a situation where a Golisipod gets resolved, it is imperative to be extremely careful not to set up your own Lycanroc or you can get punished.
This match up is heavily dependent on if they get Gallade up turn 2, and if you can respond to that Gallade with a Mewtwo. If they get the turn 2 Gallade Guzma, the game becomes difficult. Otherwise, Parallel City, Lycanroc, N is your best friend. Focus on picking off Ralt’s until they miss a turn of benching one. From there, switch to Lycanroc and clean up the Zoroarks. To deal with Gallade you want to find Mewtwo and Professor Kukui to land that quick OHKO. For Gardy you want to just poke at it with Zoroark, and Dangerous Rouge if they do happen to bench 4-5 Pokemon. It’s a scary match up because of Gallade, but Zororoc is more consistent and can pick off plenty of Ralts and heavily disrupt their damage and setup through the killer combo of Parallel+Lycanroc+N.
Mirror-50-50 with parallels, 60-40 if they don’t play parallels
The same parallel city mirror is pretty much who goes first. If they don’t play Parallel City, then you are at a huge advantage. In general, focus down any Rockruff that is benched. Once they are cleared, swap from Zoroark to Lycanroc and clean up any Zoroarks for your last 2-4 prizes.
I lump Solgaleo, Metagross, Magnezone, and speedy Dusk Mane all together because the general strategy against all of them are relatively similar. If they get a hot start then the matchup becomes relatively difficult. But, with Parallel City, Lycanroc, and N, as well as your own consistency with Zoroark, it is incredibly difficult for them to do that. It is very easy to pick off their support Pokemon, like Magnemite, Octillery, or Oranguru, knock off a stadium of theirs with Parallel City, and N them down to small hands. The general clunkiness of metal decks makes that combo even more effective.
I will note that against Speedy Dusk Mane, with Solgaleo Prism, max elixirs, and Dusk Mane Necrozoma, you don’t want to take the first prizes. You want to poke their attackers first and force them to take the first few prizes. This denies them the ability to use their GX attack, and allows your late game N’s to be devastating. They will be forced to overextend, and 99 times out of 100 whiff the final cards they need to close out the game.
Parallel city and Mewtwo are great in this match up. Its pretty much get the first hit on their main attacker and get your late game N’s to stick. Most fire decks, either Volc or Ho-oh, are relatively inconsistent and struggle a lot with late game N’s and Parallel City’s. 95% of the time you want to be paralleling them down to 3, not reducing their damage.
Hoopa- 25-75 without Oranguru, 80-20 with Oranguru
When I got paired up against this matchup twice in Portland I had no idea what to do. I hadn’t tested the matchup or knew what was even in the decklist, which was poor testing on my end. After testing the matchup, I’ve found how you handle the deck. Without Oranguru the goal is to use Mewtwo, Acerola, and Puzzles to trade hits and grind through the Hoopas. If they bench anything else, like Giratina, Oranguru, or Mewtwo, try to kill them with a Zoroark. Those are quick and easy prizes that don’t require you to use a non-GX attacker.
With Oranguru the match up becomes significantly easier. You have two options with the monkey: 1) you can loop them out of the game by thinning your deck down to Acerola and double puzzle, eventually decking them out as they can never one shot anything, or 2) get back Acerola and puzzles to be able to spam Mewtwo+Acerola against them. Either strategy is incredibly effective. With the monkey this match up becomes one of your worst to one of your best.
Sylveon- 10-90 without Oranguru, 55-45 with Oranguru
Without Oranguru you must hope and pray they dead draw, otherwise the game is pretty much unwinnable. Without the monkey, this is by far your worst match up. With the monkey the match up becomes slightly favorable, but still not free. Make sure you kill any Ralts that get benched and try to use Acerola to keep your monkey alive as much as possible. The best strategy isn’t to loop Oranguru against them, but instead to get you resources back to continuously attack them. Its an incredibly grindy match up, but you typically win if you properly manage your energies and puzzles. Interchange between attacking into the Sylveon and getting resources back with Oranguru.
This matchup plays like Zoropod, get the Parallel City’s down and kill off Riolu’s. Instead of hitting into Lucario, pick off the Riolu’s until they whiff a turn of benching one. Once they do, drop your Mew Ex, Parallel City them down and slap down the N. After you kill the Lucario, swap over to Lycanroc and clean up any last prizes from Zoroarks they have on their bench.
This matchup is also similar to ZoroCario, but instead of finishing off with Lycanroc, you want to sweep with exclusively Mew Ex. You want to Parallel City them down, force them to discard those Regirock’s or Buzzwole’s, and pick off those Riolu’s and N them. If they get an Octillery up, pick that off before you pick off the Riolu’s. Its important you do that because it makes the late game N’s really hurt, making it even easier to sweep with Mew Ex. You’ll fall behind in prizes in this matchup, but don’t stress about that. If they ever decide to attach a second energy to Lucario, drop the mew ex and kill the Lucario right away.
Zoro/Lycanroc/Cario- 60-40 (They’re clunkier than Zoro/cario)
This matchup is heavily favored because of how devastating Parallel City is against them. The deck runs lines of multiple Pokemon, and Parallel City forces them to not get access to all of them. The strategy is the same as Zorocario, it’s slightly better because they tend to struggle more with Parallel City’s compared to the other Lucario variants.
Straight Gardy- 45-55
This matchup is heavily reliant on if they pop off or not. If they get that turn 2 Guzma gallade, its difficult, otherwise picking off Octillery and getting the N’s + Parallel City’s to stick will win you the matchup. Try to pick off as many Ralts as you can. The more you get, the better. It’s also extremely difficult to deal with a resolved gardy. If a gardy is resolved try and kill the octillery and go for the two-shot game while putting as few energies as possible on the attacking pokemon.
This was a quick overview of how Zororoc handles the more popular decks in the current meta game. Going forward with Forbidden Light coming out the deck seems to be in a weird position. It definitely has the potential to still be a major contender in the metagame because of parallel city to help handle the anticipated large amount of Malamar Mew decks; however. The new buzzwole beast ring decks might cause more problems. Lists can always be adjusted and the metagame always changes. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed learning some of the ins and outs of one of the current best decks in standard.
(I wrote an extra paragraph after the original edit to add some Forbidden Light notes, enjoy!)
With forbidden light coming out soon the game is going to drastically change. Buzzwole Lycanroc is already the best deck in the format and the new pack makes it even more consistent and powerful. The problems that Zoroark Lycanroc had with the deck in the past was that we didn’t have a solid answer to a resolved Lycanroc now we also have to deal with the new baby Buzzwole and beast ring. With all of these new cards added to an already unfavorable to 50-50 match up, Zoroark Lycanoroc might have to switch its strategy going forward. Some new things to consider adding to the deck are:
- Continue the parallel city plan. The new buzzwole decks are more reliant on bench space than they were before. Adding diancie prism star to the deck gives the deck access to scary one shot potential against us with a single energy and other combinations. The parallel city plan also helps us demolish the new malamar decks that will certainly be popular.
- Add additional psychic attackers. Mew ex is still very good; however buzzwole decks can respond and take a quick two prizes very quickly, so this might not be the best option anymore. From my first games of testing I have been liking 2-3 mewtwo to help put some damage on opposing buzzwoles and lycanrocs to ohko them or help set up a two shot for the next turn.
- More than ever this matchup is going to be about board/hand control. Killing their octillary and trying to n them out of their good hands is going to be crucial. They are more than likely always going to take an early lead against us, so n is going to be crucial.
These are the first impressions I am getting from my play testing. One important thing to also note, is the fact that one of zororocs worst match ups is probably going to be on the decline which is Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt. With the new decks coming in and some old decks fading out, Zororoc seems to be in a weird position. With a bad match up/slightly unfavorable to Buzzwole Lycanroc but favorable match ups against the majority of other decks it could be a good pick for upcoming tournaments. As of now the archetype is one of my favorites going into Madison, but with a little over two weeks away and lots of play testing time things may change.
See you all in Madison!