Hi everybody, my name is Cameron Shenoy and I am fairly new to the Pokemon Trading Card game, having only started in June of this year. I've learned a lot in that short time span and I wanted to share a deck I worked on for the European International Championship (EUIC) with you! Let's hop straight in.
Buzzwole GX/LycanrocGX/Zoroark GX
Pokemon -20 Trainers - 29 Energy - 11
2 Tapu Lele GX GRI 60
2 Buzzwole GX CRI57
4 Rockruff Promo SM06
3 Lycanroc GX GRI74
3 Zorua BKT89
2 Zoroark GX CRI53
1 Zoroark BKT91
1 Espeon EX BKP52
1 Mewtwo EVO51
1 Giratina XY184
Trainers - 29
3 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
3 Choice Band
3 Float Stone
2 Field Blower
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Parallel City
Energy - 11
4 Double Colorless Energy
3 Fighting Energy
4 Strong Energy
4 Rockruff Promo - 3 Lycanroc GX
The promo Rockruff was used because of the 30 to 60 damage it could do with a Strongf Energy and Choice Band. The deck doesn't have a lot of ways to OHKO GX Pokemon so the deck relies on early pressure and if the deck can't get Buzzwole or Zoroark out early Rockruff is the next best early attacker. Plus, with Guzma being a 3-to-4 of in most decks, Corner can be irrelevant in most situations.
Relevant Numbers With Strong Energy
-Puts Tapu Lele in Range of a Claw Slash and Riotous Beating.
-Puts Garde at 200, allowing you to KO with Dangerous Rogue with only 4 Pokemon on opponents bench.
The deck is focused on Lycanroc with it's Lysandre-like ability and Zoroark's "Professor-Sycamore-lite" ability, both of which allow you to have the power of a Supporter while not actually playing one. This allows you to keep up the pressure while being able to still use cards like N to disrupt Beacon and Magical Ribbon. Dangerous Rogue is also one of the only ways to deal with beefy GXs quickly.
2-1 Zoroark GX/Zoroark
There was less off a focus on Zoroark initially because I expected Gardevoir to be everywhere and Gallade can take 3-4 prizes quickly. Baby Zoroark was to help with Volcanion and pesky pokemon like Hoopa and Alolan Ninetales.
Without this card your chances against Garde go down. Your opponent will likely start using Rare Candy to evolve once they start feeling your pressure. Try not to reveal it early and you can catch them off guard later in the game.
This card was definitely a co-MVP and helps against some of the decks biggest struggles. I'll just copy and paste my response to someone commenting Mewtwo is bad on Tord's decklist post.
"Buzzwole, Espeon, Gallade, Gardevoir, and Volc are either weak to it or typically have 3+ energy attached. Gardevoir needs 6 energy or 5 energy and a band to KO goli, 5 or 4 and a band to KO Zoroark. Thats 130 damage at a minimum with Band. This deck is not predicated on OHKOs. Mewtwo either sets up or finishes knockouts while only giving up 1 prize. It seems awkward at first until you see it in action. It also eats Latios for breakfast which is the other splashable Psychic card people are trying to counter Buzz. It also doesn't get knocked out by Fairy Wind like Latios."
Lycanroc and Golisopod with Zoroark have similar playstyles with slightly differing matchups, so the reasoning for the inclusion is relatively the same.
Play it or take an autoloss to Greninja. I played 3 Ninjas at the EUIC, my most played matchup on the day, 0 at the League Cup.
The deck needs specific cards in certain situations to get the knockout. Mallow accomplishes that with Zoroark GX and this is arguably your best card once you get set up.
The other co-MVP of the deck helps keep opposing decks in check and if you can draw it before Gardevoir players then you are doing good. The one thing to be wary of is the card severely lowers the damage output of the Dangerous Rogue attack so remember to plan the next few turns accordingly especially against Gardevoir.
I started off 3-1 and was feeling good in round 5 when my opponent, Zapdos TCG, flipped over Froakie. However, I used Trade under Shadow Stitching which led to a delay that cost me the win in the end. From there small mistakes on my end cost me. Being jet lagged definitely didn't help my decision making, which led to too many ties in the end.
London League Cup
The next day I decided to change the deck to be similar to the Golisopod Zoroark deck that Tord Reclev, Benjamin Behrens, and friends used to great success. -1 Rockruff -1 Lycanroc GX -1 Zoroark -1 Choice Band +1 Zorua +2 Zoroark GX +1 Acerola I decided to cut a Choice Band over Giratina as I played 3 Greninja the day before. Which was probably a mistake as Greninja was all but absent from the League Cup. The deck was much more consistent and the third Acerola made it much easier to draw into them even if I had to Sycamore or Ultra Ball one away in the early game. If you happen to open with only one Lele or Ultra Ball and a Zoroark GX you can go into Brigette with the comfort of knowing you can play down the Zoroark next turn and draw into more cards even without a draw supporter. The Lycanroc count only burned me once in round 8 when prizing both cost me the game. I went into round 8 with a record of 5-1-1, but I didn't do well the last 2 rounds with me ending 5-2-2.
Gardevoir (40-60 against good players, 45-55 against bad players, ask for a saving grace from God if they play Broken Deck)
The matchup is drastically different depending on the player piloting the deck. Starting Buzzwole also helps immensely as you can start pinging early while Bloodthirsty Eyes and Strong Energy can set up knockouts on Ralts and Kirlia. The problem arises if Multiple Gardevoirs get set up as you can only Dangerous Rogue GX one and you will struggle to take down the others without Espeon EX. The addition of multiple Max Potions just makes this matchup worse as they will wipe away your two shot, laugh, and then proceed to destroy you with their energy acceleration that you oh so envy and despise . Gallade can also be a pain to take out and a Buzzwole ping and a Psychic attack from Mewtwo is likely the most efficient and easy way to deal with it. I only played 4 Gardevoir over the course of the weekend, and I ended up with a 2-2 record against the deck. The Gardevoir matchup can come down to whether you are lucky which can definitely turn people away from the deck.
Drampa Garb 65-35
This match up is the whole reason I chose to play this deck as Drampa Garb was touted as a close second behind Gardevoir in terms of best decks in format. The only potential problem is Espeon GX , but a quick Dangerous Rogue or Mewtwo can easily take care of the Psychic Kitty. Lycanroc Buzzwole rarely goes through items which can lead to 1-3 items in the discard pile leaving the opponent with little to no options once the Espeon GX goes down. Sadly I only played one Drampa Garb the entire weekend.
Golisopod Garb 55-45
The first question people typically ask when I tell them about the deck is, how do you deal with Golisopod? The answer is Zoroark, Buzzwole, Acerola, and Parallel City. You can match tempo with Golisopod and are less likely to brick in the late game. Once again, low item counts make Trashalanche less efficient in the late game. Be sure to keep one Rockruff in the bench as Bloodthirsty Eyes can help pull up weakened Golisopods on the bench. However, make sure you're taking a knockout as you may be giving up 2 free prizes later in the game. Once again, this matchup is another reason I played the deck but I played a grand total of zero over both events.
Golisopod Zoroark 50/50
This matchup is awkward for both sides. Lycanroc beats Zoroark and Golisopod wrecks Lycanroc. Parallel City is your advantage but Enhanced Hammer is theirs. Early Buzzwole aggression is how you can get your opponent to burn Acerolas in the early game. Against Zoroark variants I see too many players target Zoroark GX early to get easy prizes and then fall behind. Zoroark GX is an absolute non threat as players aren't going to commit their one energy attachment per turn on something that two shots to your one shot. Leave the Zoroarks on the bench and focus on the Wimpods and Golisopods. Zoroark GX is the easy final 2 prizes to end the game.
With a lot of practice against this deck you can easily turn this matchup into 50-50, but the playstyle is much more defensive. If you try to prize race them early YOU WILL LOSE. Buzzwole is key to setting up multiple knockouts, and Parallel City can help keep all your attackers alive if they can't find the Field Blower. Don't get baited into using your blowers early as reaching knockouts becomes much harder with Fighting Fury Belt. Save your Dangerous Rogue for their Turtonators. If they hit multiple Max Elixers early you might be in trouble in trouble.
Decidueye Zoroark (50-50 against good players and Max Potion, 60-40 against bad players and no Max potion)
Similar to Gardevoir, this deck has a very high skill cap so those at the upper echelon are better suited to handle the pressure. The inclusion of Max Potion causes problems but you can also Acerola their pings to keep it relatively even. If you lose your Zoroarks then you can struggle in the late game to close out when they N you.
Greninja (20-80 without Giratina Promo, 55-45 with)
Strong Energy with Claw Slash is good. Giratina Promo is better.
Silvally Variants (60-40)
You're faster and have type advantage unless the happen to run both Memory tools and happen to draw the right one at the right time. Dangerous Rogue the Celesteela GX if they're running Metal, Strong Energy mitigates the resistance.
Buzzwole Zygarde Garb (45-55)
Zygarde is the absolute bane of your existence. Wait for them to realize that, let them attach multiple energies, Dangerous Rogue, then laugh when they have no more energy and sadly place a single energy on Buzzwole to start hitting for 30 while you're ahead because you've spread out your energy. Then cry if the player is good, realizes this strategy, and just plays Zygarde and Garbotoxin. My friend, Ryan Turner, played against 8 Buzzwole Zygarde Garbodors in his first 14 rounds of EUIC and the League Cup. In his opinion it was winnable but very, very annoying.
This card will make a big difference against Mirror and Golisopod Zoroark as the matchups typically come down to who draws into their Acerolas and who doesn't.
Can potentially slow down Gardy, but good players will play around this and that can make it underwhelming.
My initial list actually started with 3 Brigette as the deck needs a strong start and this all but guarantees your set up. Easily discarded with Trade but was cut for space. If you can fit it you won't regret it.
2nd Parallel City
This will help your chances of drawing it which will help you beat Gardevoir to getting it out. Makes it more likely to stick against Volcanion and can further swing that matchup. Similar to the 3rd Brigette, it's nice but can be hard to fit.
4th Fighting Energy
The deck is similar to Drampa Garb in that you need to be placing an Energy every turn. If you whiff on early turns it can be devastating. Play this over the Giratina Promo if you don't expect Greninja.
You would likely cut another Professor Sycamore which could potentially lead to more bricks in the early game. However, running 3 Brigettes and 2 Mallows is arguably the most explosive build. I did not run this in the initial list as I only ran 2 Zoroark GX. I haven't tested this with 4 Zoroark GX yet but in theory it should just make the combo easier to pull off consistently.
Ingmar Hagen, Fredrik Mikal Wold, and Teodor Skjæveland's Buzzwole Lycanroc Deck
Pokemon - 16
4 Buzzwole GX
2 Lycanroc GX
1 Zygarde EX
1 Regirock EX
1 Tapu Lele GX
Trainers - 31
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Ultra Ball
4 Max Elixer
3 Choice Band
3 Float Stone
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Field Blower
3 Brooklet Hill
Energy - 13
9 Fighting Energy
4 Strong Energy
I first saw Teodor play this list when I was between rounds at the League Cup when he was on stream. I think it all hit me at once what I had done wrong and what he and his group had done right. Buzzwole Lycanroc is a deck predicated off early rush down that stops players from ever stabilizing. My build topped out at 5th gear half throttle. This build was 6th gear petal to the metal and seemed to have at least a 50/50 against Garde, if not better. Max Elixers gives the deck the needed energy acceleration to keep pressure on Gardevoir, while more Fighting Energy and no Double Colorless Energy made the deck less susceptible to Enhanced Hammer. I actually liked Brooklet Hill for the deck since I played so many Greninjas in the main event and thought it was such a useful Stadium to usr. I had only strayed from Brooklet Hill as I was wary of the Volcanion matchup and helping them get to their Steam Ups. I should have realized the threat was Gardevoir and that Garbodor would preform below par because of its matchups. I played Drampa Garbodor in Vancouver to a day 2 berth, and had started to drift from the deck when I realized Zoroark was a problem for the deck. I hoped people would stick with a safe pick like Garbodor going into untested waters and perhaps that just happens to be the wrong meta call.
I haven't tested this deck since I am still in London at the time of me writing this piece, but it is something I plan to test as one of my options for an upcoming League Cup back home in the Bay Area. Just at first glance I suspect the deck might struggle against Golisopod variants more than my build, but I may just be making the same assumption others had about my build.
Congrats to Tord Reklev, Benjamin Behrens, and that whole group for their accomplishments at the EUIC. Ryan Turner, the other player I worked with on the deck, is friends with Benjamin Behrens. While they had tried out my decklist they had also been telling Ryan about theirs and saying we should play it. I feel Golisopod Zoroark and Buzzwole Lycanroc Zoroark have similar strengths with the former having more flex spots due to less Pokemon and Energy commitment. This led to space for Enhanced Hammer, Puzzle of Time, more Field Blower, baby Zoroark, third Tapu Lele GX, and the third Brigette. All cards I had tested but had eventually cut due to problems with space. This made their build more flexible, adaptable, consistent, and stronger heading into the late game.
I still recommend this deck for all players to test. I believe it will have better matchups once Gardevoir GX leaves the meta. Hi Solagaleo! Until then it can be a fun League Cup deck with the potential to do well at a Regional if a player is willing to learn the nuances of the deck. It is similar to Drampa Garbodor in that you need to plan far ahead and micro-decisions in the early game will drastically affect the late game.
Gardevoir may still be the best deck in format, but Shining Legends and Crimson Invasion performed well above expectations. It was easy to see the potential in a few cards from those sets. Coming up with a competitive decklist was always going to be a challenge on such short notice, so congratulations to those who were able to do so. Hopefully, this will help reinvigorate the community after Vancouver had all but sapped the creativity and excitement from the format.
Thanks to the guys at Dead Draw Gaming for letting me post this article.
All the best,