Hey guys, Phinn again, back with some more weird decks. Seems like the last two articles about Zoroark were very well received. Literally half of the players at my last League Cup were using Zorokark Umbreon, and in Finals was my new friend Frank Percic and I played a mirror. However after winning the Cup I felt like there was not a whole lot for me to do with Zoroark anymore. Now that the deck has won a Regionals, I feel it would not be a safe play for Nationals.
Instead, I have come up with a couple options that do a great job of countering Zoroark, as well as Vespiquen. To me, these are now the two best decks in this format. One could argue that Garbodor should also be in that category because of the sheer numbers it still sees, but frankly it loses to the other two best decks, which leaves it in Tier 2.
The two archetypes I have been working on are Darkrai/Yveltal/Muk, and Vespiquen/Gallade/Herdier. These two decks aren’t really new archetypes – more like revised variants of already popular decks. This article is going to focus on these two decks, and how they counter popular archetypes. But to explain why these decks counter Zoroark, Vespiquen, and Garbodor, we must understand what weaknesses these decks each have.
Vespiquen: Exploitable weaknesses
Vespiquen relies very heavily on Basic Abilities. Between Oranguru, Unown, Kelfki, Shaymin EX, and Tapu Lele, the deck sits on 11 Pokemon using such Abilities. Most of why Vespiquen stays consistent with draw power and damage output is because of these cards. If the Abilities are nullified, Vespiquen turns into an inconsistent and resource-starved deck. The main counters to basic abilities are Silent Lab, Alolan Muk, Garbodor, and Hex Maniac.
The more obvious and commonly exploited weakness is the deck’s reliance on having Pokemon in the discard pile. Oricorio is a now common addition that takes big advantage of this flaw. Karen is the other main option. The only real reason this is a flaw at all is because these counters exist. If Karen and Oricorio were not in the format, Bees would have no issue with this number of Pokemon discarded.
Resource conservation is a huge flaw that this deck carries. I maintain that Acro Bike is The Black Plague form of a Pokemon Card. A Vespiquen player can be maintaining a perfectly healthy game, then Acro Bike into their last two VS Seekers and immediately lose the ability to finish out the game. I have seen this happen, and experienced it many times. A strategy that can get rid of resources can do well against bees for this reason.
Zoroark: Exploitable weaknesses
Mind Jack does 10 damage to the defending Pokemon if there are no benched Pokemon. If there is a deck that can find a way to remove benched Pokemon from the equation, Zoroark may struggle with it. This is easier said than done because Drampa’s Berserk can one-shot when this strategy is tried, however if there is a field of just two Pokemon (especially Pokemon that can swiftly deal with Drampa), then Zoroark will struggle. The best example that I can think of is Yveltal EX and Tapu Lele. Evil Ball one-shots a Zoroark with ease, and can two-shot (or one-shot) Drampa. Lele can do the same, but a little bit less efficiently, which is fine considering the card is ridiculously strong and present in basically all decks.
The Fighting Weakness is the most problematic aspect of Zoroark with all of the deck’s attackers sharing the Weakness. Even for the Umbreon variant, the Weakness is the same. The best fighting attacker is probably Gallade. For a Double Colorless, anything other than Tapu Lele can be KO’d in one hit. Premonition is also an amazing ability that helps any deck. Zygarde GX and Lycanroc GX are other options.
Garbodor: Exploitable Weaknesses
This deck’s obvious issue is its reliance on the opponent discarding item cards. If there is a deck that runs 15 items or fewer, it most likely will beat Garbodor. There is Drampa to combat this issue, but in general this one attack is not going to be enough. Other Garbodor decks do a good job of countering Garbodor because they generally run fewer items and a higher N count to keep items in the deck and out of the discard pile.
This is more for the Espeon variant, but the deck has a Weakness to Psychic types. Unfortunately, most Psychic-type attackers are also weak to Psychic, so this counter can be a little hard to use. Again, other Garbodor decks can pull this off best because Espeon can one-shot Garbodor and take very little damage by avoiding discarding items.
The Drampa version is also pretty reliant on the dragon, which means fighting types will have a good advantage against this version of the deck. As I said before, Gallade, Lycanroc GX, and Zygarde EX are the best fighting types to use at the moment. The great thing about each of these attackers is that they require less items to be played in a deck, or at least allow you to play less items in a game. Gallade will put items where they cannot be discarded while Lycanroc allows for less VS Seeker to be play because of Bloodthirsty Eyes. Zygarde is a very self sufficient card because it is so bulky. When a Pokemon can heal itself with a high HP, less items need to be played to set up other attackers.
Now that we understand how to counter these three decks, it will become a little more obvious why the list you are about to see works well to counter them. The Basic Ability lock shuts down Vespiquen, Yveltal EX hurts Zoroark, and Darkrai’s Psychic resistance makes it hard for Garbodor to deal with.