Who is in Control? Analyzing LAIC results and Choosing a Deck for Roanoke

Luke Morsa
November 21, 2018
0 Comments

Hello trainers! With LAIC now behind us, the next major tournament is this weekend November 25th in Roanoke, Virginia. LAIC’s results are very influential in formulating a projected metashare for Roanoke Regionals. The meta is still fresh due to our massive new set Lost Thunder, but there are likely to be trends that carry over from LAIC.


Zoroark Control

Zoro ControlDaniel Altavilla Zorua (52) Zoroark-GX Oranguru Ditto Prism Star Slugma (23) Magcargo (24) Alolan Muk (58) Articuno-GX Sableye (80) Tapu Lele-GX Professor Elm's Lecture Cynthia Plumeria Team Skull Grunt Guzma Acerola Gladion Ultra Ball Timer Ball Crushing Hammer Enhanced Hammer Counter Catcher Rescue Stretcher Pal Pad Max Potion Switch Lysandre Labs Double Colorless Energy Rainbow Energy

 

Zoro control has resurfaced with new strategies and new cards to make up for old components lost to rotation such as Puzzle of Time, Team Rocket’s Handiwork, and Team Flare Grunt. Oranguru is now the main source of recycling cards from the discard pile. Pal Pad was also used in lists at LAIC to recycle important supporter cards like Acerola, Plumeria, and Team Skull Grunt.

Winning the tournament and taking 3 of the top 8 spots, it’s safe to say that this was a very dominant deck that was previously off the radar for this format. In the weeks leading up to LAIC there was an article on Pokebeach with a Zoroark Control list and I also caught some of Isaiah William’s twitch stream where he was testing a Zoroark Control list. These lists were fairly different and I imagine these were early versions that later turned into the finished product that won LAIC.

I am finding it difficult to say whether or not Zoroark Control is tier 1 due to only having one tournament in SUM-LST to go off of. Having a soft spot for control variants, I’m surprised to not be so thrilled with the deck. I believe it was built and piloted by some of the best players that attended the tournament which is a large factor of its success. Another factor is that it is a very reactive deck that is likely much stronger when nobody is preparing for it. It attacks the format from a different axis than a lot of the hyped decks and it was enough to take the tournament. 

Strengths

  • Consistent and heavy draw power due to Zoroark-GX
  • A large amount of energy removal which allows it to remove energy faster than most decks can accelerate it.
  • Oranguru’s Resource Management can “loop” healing and energy removal cards so that your opponent decks out before taking 6 prizes cards.
  • Heavily favored vs decks that play only special energy cards.

Weaknesses

  • Decks that can one hit KO Zoroark-GX and/or Oranguru.
  • Fighting type decks due to weakness and inherent aggression.
  • Decks with card recovery such as Oranguru and Gardevoir-GX.

Popular Decks for Roanoke

There are 3 reasons that I do not expect Zoroark Control to be anymore than 5% of the day 1 meta at Roanoke: 1) the deck is difficult to play and daunting to pick up with a week to prepare, 2) it’s less effective due to players being prepared or at least knowledgeable of the winning list and how it functions, and 3) the mirror match is rather intricate and needs to be teched for.

That being said, I believe that Blacephalon/Naganadel, Granbull, Zoroark/Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales, Buzzwole variants, and ZoroRoc will all be popular. If the player base respects how much Buzzwole-GX is being expected, then Malamar variants can easily become popular as well.


Blacephalon/Naganadel

 


Notable Favorable Matchups:

  • Zoroark Control (If Blacephalon is playing 2-3 Energy Switch)
  • ZoroRoc

Notable Unfavorable Matchups:

  • Malamar variants
  • Granbull

Blacephalon/Naganadel is appealing to play due to its ability to hit high damage with relative ease, its simplicity, and its favorable Zoroark-GX matchups.

Granbull

 

Notable Favorable Matchups:

  • Blacephalon/Naganadel
  • Malamar variants

Notable Unfavorable Matchups:

  • ZoroRoc
  • Zoroark/Decidueye/Ninetales

Granbull is a deck that is difficult to pilot as it plays much unlike any other archetype. It is susceptible to any deck that can target the Magcargo, Oranguru, and sometimes Zebstrika that sit on the bench. However, it is very good versus any GX based deck that cannot target down the draw support due to Granbull being a one prize Pokemon that swings for 190 with a Band on turns you successfully get your hand down to zero.

Zoroark/Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales

Notable Favorable Matchups:

  • Malamar Variants
  • Buzzwole Variants

Notable Unfavorable Matchups

  • ZoroRoc
  • Zoroark Control

Decidueye has favorable matchups to Buzzwole-GX variants, which I expect to be the most popular decks in Day 1. It is also favorable against Malamar variants which are a natural response to the expected surplus of Buzzwole-GX variants. I think Buzzwole is probably the most important deck to be prepared for at the moment, but Decidueye is not far behind.


Buzzwole/Alolan Ninetales & Buzzwole/Alolan Ninetales/Lycanroc

Notable Favorable Matchups:

  • ZoroRoc
  • Zoroark Control

Notable Unfavorable Matchups:

  • Malamar Variants
  • Zoroark/Decidueye/Ninetales

Many players will be happy to see Buzzwole-GX as one of the best plays for Roanoke since many became familiar with it last year and the strategy of the deck has not changed very much. Buzzwole-GX is still very aggressive towards Zoroark-GX variants, usually hindering their set up by picking off Zoruas which stops them from evolving into their draw support and attacker at the same time. WIth Alolan Ninetales-GX (LST) and Lycanroc-GX (GRI) lines, the matchups with Malamar variants have improved, but are still unfavorable.

Zoroark/Lycanroc

Notable Favorable Matchups:

  • Malamar Variants
  • Granbull

Notable Unfavorable Matchups:

  • Buzzwole Variants
  • Zoroark Control

ZoroRoc is another deck that players have grown accustomed to and will fall back on as a safe deck choice when nothing else appeals to them. ZoroRoc took the most Day 2 spots at LAIC this past weekend. I expect it to have a large showing in Day 1 at Roanoke, but its Day 2 conversion rate will likely depend on the amount of Buzzwole-GX in the field.

Potential Sleeper Decks

Gardevoir-GX/Alolan Ninetales-GX (LST)/Solgaleo-GX (SM104)/Swampert

Robin Schulz (Our reigning World Champion) took this new Gardevoir build to a Day 2 finish at LAIC. Although this deck looks liable to slow starts and clunky hands due to multiple Stage 2 lines, Alolan Ninetales-GX is an invaluable tool for making sure your Pokemon and Rare Candy end up in your hand at the same time to accelerate your evolutions.

Sceptile-GX/Sceptile (CST)/Lurantis (Promo)

Sceptile-GX is favorable against Buzzwole variants and Blacephalon/Naganadel due to Sceptile CST preventing damage from Ultra Beasts to any of your Pokemon with Grass Energy attached. However, the deck is very clunky, has a handful of questionable matchups, and I doubt it can perform well enough over 9 rounds to make Day 2. Maybe if a Sceptile player hits all Blacephalon/Naganadel and Buzzwole matchups they can make day 2, but even then it’s possible to lose those matches if the deck never sets up.

Zoroark-GX/Banette-GX/Weavile

Popularized by Rahul Reddy and Xander Pero, they both piloted this archetype to Top 128 finishes along with Sam Chen at the LAIC. Banette-GX seems really well positioned versus all of the expected Buzzwole and Malamar, but I’m not positive it even has a positive matchup against Buzzwole anymore. With the addition of Alolan Ninetales-GX as both an attacker and search support, many of Buzzwole’s bad matchups have become closer to 50/50s.

My Top Choices

As of Wednesday Nov 21, my top choices are Zoroark/Decidueye/Ninetales, Buzzroc/Ninetales and Koko/Weavile spread which I wrote about in last week’s article. I’m tempted to say one of my top choices are ZoroRoc as it’s one of my favorite decks and I can pilot it at a high level, but I don’t want to play Zororoc into a field of Buzzwole.

Decidueye is one of my top choices because of its matchups versus Buzzwole variants and Malamar variants. Also because of its oppression once set up. I am comfortable with the deck and I enjoy the amount of options the deck has with Feather Arrow, Alolan Ninetales’ search, and Ninetales’ spread damage. Below is the link to my deck profile on my build of Zoroark/Decidueye/Alolan Ninetales.



 

I enjoy the Lillie Nest Ball engine, but if I need space for tech items such as Enhanced Hammer I may go back to the Professor Elm’s Lecture engine. Enhanced Hammer is important for keeping early Special Energy attachments in check in the Buzzwole and ZoroRoc matchups.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc/Ninetales is probably the least likely out of my three top choices that I will play due to my lack of testing with it and the fact that it probably has the biggest target on its back right now due to everyone hyping it up as the play for Roanoke. I like the various attackers that the deck has and the consistency that Alolan Ninetales-GX adds, so i could probably be convinced to practice with this deck overnight and play it.

Hopefully my analysis of the meta has made choosing a deck easier for you. I normally don’t decide until the night before the tournament what I am playing, but I will be very surprised if I end up playing something that is not one of the three choices I listed. Good luck everyone!

Related Posts