This Standard format was weird. Latin American International Championship kicked off with Sun & Moon through Lost Thunder, and that is where Zoroark-GX / Control won the event. The format immediately moved to counter it. Let’s look at some history:
Phase One: Zoroark-GX / Control
Approaching Brazil Internationals, a few new decks had risen from Lost Thunder. New contender, Blacephalon-GX, was a threat. Zoroark-GX decks came in with the addition of Ditto Prism Star. New one Energy attacker, Granbull, was whispered about but uncertain of success. There were a few other outliers like Malamar with Spell Tag. My testing group and I developed a Zoroark-GX / Control deck that would take the field by surprise, and the first tournament of the new format with an uncertain metagame looked like the perfect time to test its mettle. We had a Blacephalon-GX list with Energy Switch in it, but didn’t think anyone would pick up on that addition so soon. With that in mind, the Blacephalon-GX matchup was favorable and in we went with another control deck. Daniel Altavilla won the event and I got Top 8, so the results turned out great. The problem is that the format shifted greatly going into the next week to counter the deck. I think this deck is solid and while I am weary to play it, here’s an updated list:
This is a hybrid of both control and an attacking Zoroark-GX deck. While you keep the elements of control to dominate games and confuse your opponent, you have attacking options for the matchups you need them most against. The problem matchups are primarily Blacephalon-GX and Buzzwole-GX. As such, Shrine of Punishment and an attacking package with inclusions like Giratina, Professor Kukui, and Choice Band have been added to give yourself a shot by attacking Blacephalon-GX for Knock Outs and taking six Prizes. I have added Weakness Policy which helps against the recent uprising of Buzzwole / Shrine of Punishment. While this Standard format may be coming to an end, I don’t think it was fully figured out. The format has shifted so much and many outlier decks can win games from the power of a turn one Marshadow and Let Loose. This deck is the most controlling deck in the format; it has great shots against most decks and is far off from the original control deck. I hope this helps if you’re looking to play something similar. When in doubt, play control like we did in Brazil!
Phase Two: Gardevoir-GX
Going into Virginia Regionals, we were uncertain of what to play and planned on using something with Decidueye-GX until the final hour before sleep. I whipped out Robin Schulz’s crazy Gardevoir-GX deck on PTCGO and crushed Blacephalon-GX and Buzzwole-GX decks left and right against Jimmy Pendarvis. We were all convinced with limited testing, sleeved it up, and went to bed. Ironically, I did the worst of anyone, drawing badly and dropping from the event in my worst Regionals finish to date. Pendarvis won the entire event though, running absurdly hot. This is a deck that, if it draws well, you will win every game. However, the games you don’t will be ugly. It was a good pick for the weekend because it had a good matchup against the upcoming Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX / Zoroark-GX decks that did well in Brazil. It also had good matchups against control, Blacephalon-GX, and Buzzwole-GX. The other option that weekend would have been Decidueye-GX / Alolan Ninetales-GX / Zoroark-GX, but with a lackluster Gardevoir-GX matchup and hype rising for that archetype, we ruled it out.
This deck hasn’t changed much because the original list was that good. It’s “boom or bust” with a high skill ceiling, but a low floor. You can either run hot or draw dead and get destroyed left and right like I did. You have options for every matchup but it’s a deck that’s completely based around Stage 2 Pokemon, so it’s hit or miss. The addition I like the most is the second Timer Ball in an attempt to make the deck more consistent. Unfortunately, that’s a flip-based card and can be hit or miss itself. This is a deck that’s going to benefit a lot from Team Up with the release of Pokémon Communication. This deck was a counter play to come back from Brazil after control was, once again, at the top of its game. Going forward, play this deck at your own risk; it’s top tier if you draw well. You have been warned.
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