Zoroark-GX in Forbidden Light Standard
What’s up fellow Pokemon trainers!? We are finally done with expanded format for this season, and now we can focus on the standard format which will be our format for Madison Regionals and NA Internationals.
So today I will be talking about a couple of different ways to play one of our strongest cards in standard, Zoroark-GX! Zoroark-GX decks have been at the top of Standard Format for about 6 months now. With the release of Forbidden Light, we have gained 2 new Malmar FLI archetypes, Necrozma-GX BUS / Malamar, and Ultra Necrozma-GX / Malamar. We also have gained new tools to make Buzzwole-GX CRI even stronger.
Zoroark-GX decks however, did not gain very much with the new set. With the inherent versatility and consistency that Zoroark-GX archetypes have, I believe that they will still have a place in the standard meta. I think that Zoroark/Lycanroc, Zoroark/Lucario, and Zoroark/Garbodor are all well positioned for the upcoming standard format of BKT-FLI. Out of these, my two favorites are Zoroark/Lycanroc and Zoroark/Lucario because both decks have early game one-shotting potential on opposing Pokemon-GX. Zoroark/Golisopod has, in my opinion, fallen off because of its lower damage output and Acerola loop being a less viable strategy due to more powerful attackers being in the format. In this article I will be discussing Zoroark/Lycanroc and briefly covering my Zoroark/Lucario list, two of my top choices for Madison Regionals (if I was going), upcoming cups, and NAIC.
I won’t be going into detail on every card in the list since the deck has been analyzed for several months, but I will be talking about some different counts and unique inclusions.
I originally was not on the baby Buzzwole hype, but I’ve done a lot more testing with it and against it since Forbidden Light’s release and I agree with the masses that the card is very strong. It is still situational however, so always try to make the most of an opportunity on the board to force your opponent into going to 4 prizes. It has been helping me against other Zoroark-GX decks, Buzzwole-GX decks, and Malamar variants. Since this is most of the meta, I value the card very highly and I don’t think that I would replace it with another tech.
Mew-EX is an obvious inclusion to Zoroark-GX decks because of its ability to one-shot an opposing Buzzwole-GX by copying Riotous Beating. It is also good against Necrozma-GX BUS as you can one-shot that as well. Mew-EX allows you to go aggressive against Buzzwole-GX which is invaluable against the most aggressive deck in the format. Mewtwo EVO is a nice one-prize attacker against Buzzwole-GX and Necrozma-GX BUS after it uses Black Ray-GX and leaves its energy attached.
This can be substituted for Evo Soda if you are not a fan of the coin flip risk, but Timer Ball puts the cards to your hand which means that you can search out a Lycanroc-GX GRI and use its Bloodthirsty Eyes ability which you could not do with an Evo Soda.
This can easily go up to 3 if your area has a lot of Garbotoxin Garbodor decks in the meta, but I think that 2 is a safe number. It is also good for removing opposing parallel cities.
Parallel City is very good against Malamar variants because they need to have multiple Malamars on their bench. Reducing their stadium is a huge bother for them and it can allow you to disrupt them enough to win because of it. They will potentially miss knockouts if they cannot accelerate enough energy to their attackers. If you cut anything from the deck, consider adding in a 3rd Parallel City if you are having a hard time against Malamar decks.
Keep in mind that this is an aggressive deck. You play 4 Puzzle of Time, so you should still be attentive of your resources but also know when you can afford to lose cards that you can get back later.
VS Buzzroc 50/50
In my testing, this matchup is very close due to our Mew-EX and Mewtwo EVO. I know that many will argue that it is favored for Buzzwole, but I don’t agree with that. At worst it is 45/55 for this list. You want to start taking 2 prize knockouts on turn 2 and from there it will likely be a back and forth prize race. You have 4 Pokemon that are able to take one hit KOs on your opponent’s GX pokemon: Lycanroc-GX, Mew-EX, Mewtwo, and Buzzwole. Buzzwole’s Sledgehammer attack does 120 base damage if your opponent is at 4 prizes, so if there is something that it can oneshot when your opponent is at 4 prizes, you should make reasonable attempts to take 2 prizes with it on that turn. Some relevant numbers that Sledgehammer can hit when your opponent is at 4 prizes are 170 (Base 120 plus Choice Band plus Strong Energy) and 190 (Base 120 plus Choice Band plus Strong plus Kukui/2nd Strong). If your opponent benches a Lele, that is usually a great target for baby Buzz. If possible, it is best to save Dangerous Rogue-GX for knocking out an opposing Lycanroc-GX, as we have nothing that hits Lycanroc-GX for weakness and Lycanroc-GX can quickly run through our Zoroark-GX’s if we leave it unchecked.
VS Necrozma-GX/Malamar 55/45-60/40
This is the easier of the two Malamar decks for Zororoc to beat and I will explain why. Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX is a pertinent part of their deck because of its ability Invasion which allows the player to bring it up from the bench, effectively giving their entire board free retreat as long as there is a float stone on the Dawn Wings. Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX is weak to Dark, so your opponent can either not play down one of their important cards, or they play it down as usual and give you an easy two prizes. Not only that, but Necrozma-GX is weak to psychic and takes collateral damage from our Buzzwole-GX techs Mew-EX and Mewtwo EVO. Oftentimes our opponent will be forced to use Blackray-GX to set up KOs on our board, leaving their Necrozma-GX with 3 energy and vulnerable to a oneshot KO from Mewtwo EVO.
VS Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar 45/55
Ultra Necrozma-GX has an easier time oneshotting our Pokemon than Necrozma-GX does. Ultra Necrozma-GX can OHKO our Lycanroc-GX for 1 metal and 2 Psychic energies, and can OHKO our Zoroark-GX with either 1 Metal, 2 Psychic, and Choice Band or 1 Beast Energy and 2 Psychic. While it is knocking us out more efficiently than Necrozma-GX, it also does not have a weakness that we can take advantage of. If we are ever oneshotting an Ultra Necrozma-GX, it will be with a Dangerous Rogue-GX or a very buffed up Sledgehammer from our Buzzwole. Normally, the way you win this match is by taking knockouts on a Tapu Lele-GX, an Ultra Necrozma-GX, and a Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. Like I implied earlier, save your Dangerous Rogue-GX for Ultra Necrozma-GX. That will be 2 prize cards down, 4 to go. From here, if you have a turn where your opponent is at 4 prize cards, try to knockout their Tapu Lele-GX (if they have one benched) with a Sledgehammer from baby buzz. Your final KO should be on a Dawn Wings with Riotous Beating since it is weak to dark. I make this sound very simple, but you will need to do this hastily because their Ultra Necrozma-GX will likely be knocking out anything it wants to. You are at a disadvantage on damage output, but they are less consistent than you. A late game N followed by knocking out their attacker can often put them i an iffy position since they run either no pokemon draw support or just an Oranguru SUM.
This deck is built similarly to Zoroark/Lycanroc, but is played quite differently. This is a combo based deck, the combo being to evolve Lucario-GX, attach a Strong Energy and Choice Band, bench Diancie Prism, and hit for 190 damage! Because of Diancie Prism being available to us, this deck can hit the beautiful number of 190 damage consistently. We play a very streamlined list to make it so we have a lot of outs to draw into the cards we need. The goal is to set up 2-3 Zoroark-GX, a Diancie Prism, and a couple of Riolu. With 4 Choice Band, 4 Strong Energy, 4 Ultra Ball, 2 Evosoda, 4 Puzzle of Time, and Mallow, you should be able to reliably draw into your combo pieces. Just like ZoroRoc, we have multiple Pokemon that can oneshot our opponent’s Pokemon-GX. We have Lucario-GX which can hit for 170 and 190, very important numbers. Buzzwole, which I covered earlier and informed that it can hit 170. It can realistically hit 190 because this deck has Diancie Prism boosting our fighting type attacks by 20. And lastly, we are again playing Mew-EX to oneshot Buzzwole-GX and Necrozma-GX. The matchups are fairly straightforward: if you can hit your combo pieces starting turn 2, you should do well. Necrozma-GX/Malamar is the harder matchup of the two Malamar variants for this deck, as your Lucario-GX is weak to Ultra Necrozma-GX and Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX. But, regardless of the type advantage, Zoroark/Lucario is built to be able to take 6 prizes in 3 attacks against most meta decks.
I hope that this article has caught you up on Zoroark-GX’s place in the current standard meta. If you take anything from this, know that Zoroark-GX is still an amazing card with a great draw ability and a good attack, but I think it will be mostly used for its draw power while its partners like Lycanroc and Lucario and techs like Mew-EX and Buzzwole FLI do the heavy lifting. As many of us grind out the end of the season for our World’s invites, good luck and remember to have fun!
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