ZoroCargo — The King of the Format

What’s up guys! This is Grant and I am extremely excited for the upcoming 2018 World Championships. Recently, I attended the ARG Invitational, which is the only major event to have used Celestial Storm so far. While this competition was only about on par with past State Championships (or even a large League Cup) in terms of competition, it did offer a glimpse into the upcoming Worlds format. While I realize the majority of players do not have Worlds invites, there are still League Cups and the Nashville Open in the Standard format before the rotation occurs. Since I’ve invested all of my free time into the pre-rotation Standard format, I won’t have anything for those of you looking towards next season. Today I’ll be going over some of the stuff that came up at ARG, and I’ll also look at Zoroark-GX  / Magcargo in more detail. I’ve put more time into ZoroCargo than I have into any other deck in the format, and I believe it to be the undisputed BDIF, as well as potentially the best deck of all time.

For reference, here’s the final standings from the ARG invitational.

Zoroark / Garbodor was the most represented deck in Top 16, claiming five spots. It was also one of the most popular decks at the event overall. This is the deck that just won the NAIC and it is an incredibly solid deck overall, so it’s no surprise that the deck showed up. Additionally, ZoroGarb is difficult to counter and it’s also difficult to play around, so I expect it to be incredibly popular at the upcoming World Championships. However, it was unable to advance past Top 8.

Zoroark / Magcargo only had two representatives in Top 16, yet they placed first and second. As I said earlier, ZoroCargo is the BDIF and it has a decent shot at beating just about everything. Isaiah Bradner, the winner of the event, had a bye in Top 16 because his opponent had to leave, but he was still able to overcome Gardevoir-GX, Buzzwole, and the mirror in order to win. In my opinion, Isaiah had the most difficult bracket even with his bye. Jon Eng had to make it through Rayquaza, ZoroGarb, and Buzzwole in order to make it to finals. ZoroCargo is a disgustingly good deck. Both of the finalists fought through so-called 50-50s and even supposed unfavorable matchups throughout the entire tournament and still came out on top.

Buzzwole didn’t gain anything from the new set but it definitely isn’t going anywhere. In my opinion, Buzzwole is not a great deck, but the only two in Top 16 made it into Top 4. Both Buzzwole decks lost to ZoroCargo, which is indicative of its unfavorable matchup. While this is an unpopular opinion, all of my testing (and this tournament) have shown ZoroCargo to be favored against Buzzwole.

Gardevoir-GX had one spot in Top 8 and it seems like a fairly promising deck due to its matchups. When it sets up, Gardevoir is clearly favored against Rayquaza-GX and ZoroCargo. It goes about even with ZoroGarb and is unfavored against Buzzwole. Gardevoir is somewhat inconsistent, at least compared to Zoroark. I don’t want to risk playing it.

Naganadel-GX / Stakataka-GX somehow made it into Top 8. I have no idea how that happened as that deck has terrible matchups. I thought Naganadel was a solid play for NAIC, but much has changed since then.

Buzzwole / Garbodor and Zoroark-GX / Counters are some interesting decks that snuck into Top 16. They are worth being explored in my opinion, though neither advanced past Top 16.

Finally, the new kid on the block, Rayquaza-GX, was perhaps the most popular deck at the event. However, only three made it into Top 16, and none made it mast that. The most popular version of Rayquaza ran Beast Ring, Pheromosa-GX, and Xurkitree-GX. A few others ran Wishful Baton and even Garbodor. The Beast Ring version is the best. Beast Ring offers needed mid-game Energy acceleration. Xurkitree is handy on occasion. Pheromosa ends games efficiently with Beauty GX. Unlike Rayquaza, Pheromosa doesn’t require maintaining a board of seven Energy. Rayquaza is extremely high maintenance and it is also very RNG-based. The deck is undoubtedly very strong, but I will definitely not be running it. It also loses to Sylveon-EX, despite what Ray players will tell you.

While it is impractical to predict the Worlds meta based off a single medium-sized event, I actually think that the Invitational meta is a fairly accurate depiction of what Worlds is going to look like. We’ll see lots and lots of Zoroark, with healthy amounts of Rayquaza and Buzzwole as well. These three variants are the best decks right now. Malamar is 100% dead. Ultra Beasts aren’t good enough to take on Zoroark. Gardevoir seems decent, but it is not very popular right now.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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