It is my premature prediction that Zoroark, Garbodor and either Glaceon or Fighting/stuff will be the top three decks for Costa Mesa. This article is predicated on that prediction and is here to give meta options for the event. All four of these seem great to me thus far, which is unusual because I normally can find at least one top-tier deck that I dislike. Playing the meta is a good idea right now. For the most part currently, the aggregate of other archetypes is a slush pile of tier three nonsense.
Emphasis on ;for the most part’; there are some ideas that I still value as options, like Night March or maybe Dusknoir Koko. But as for all Seismitoad variants, Eels decks, Volcanion variants, Groudon and other decks in this realm, I think they are in the tier three pile. This view that we have an extremely diverse top tier meta in Expanded is no longer legitimate. Standard probably has a more diverse meta than Expanded now.
This is why I am focussing my attention on Zoroark, and the decks that beat Zoroark.
This article has lists for Zoroark, Garbodor Sudowoodo, Glaceon, and Night March.
I’ll start with Zoroark.
|Pokémon – 20||Trainers – 35||Energy – 4|
|4||Zorua (Paralyzing Gaze)||2||Brigette||4||Ultra Ball||4||Double Colorless|
|4||Zoroark GX||2||Colress||4||Puzzle of Time|
|1||Zoroark (B&W)||1||Professor Sycamore||4||VS Seeker|
|3||Tapu Lele GX||1||Guzma||2||Choice Band|
|2||Shaymin EX||1||Acerola||1||Float Stone|
|1||Grimer||1||Hex Maniac||1||Special Charge|
|1||Sudowoodo (GRI)||1||N||2||Battle Compressor|
|1||Seismitoad EX||3||Sky Field||1||Field Blower|
This is Riley’s list, but without the Ranger and one Sycamore in it’s place. More draw is going to make a big difference in the Glaceon matchup, and Ranger is a fine cut considering how little Seismitoad we should see. Even if Toad is played, I’m pretty sure this deck can beat it without Ranger. Sycamore is helpful in those scenarios where you actually don’t have a huge bench, for when things aren’t going ideally.
It’s the BDIF; what actually counters it?
I have tested this deck against everything that supposedly counters it, and nothing can consistently beat it, other than Glaceon. If this deck is built a little bit different with higher counts of Colress and Brigette, then I could see it beating Glaceon; as the list is now, the Glaceon MU is approximately 20/80. Other than Glaceon, some players think Garbodor beats it, but in reality, it’s about a 60/40 in Zoroark’s favored (assuming it’s the top 8 Garbodor list). There’s a reason Garbodor had three top 8 placements and all lost to Zoroark variants. Needless to say, I do not consider Garbodor a counter if it’s built the way the top 8 list is.
Mirror is probably the most important matchup to beat going into Costa Mesa because it will be the most prevalent. One addition that makes the matchup a little earlier is a Stand-In Zoroark. Remember that it one-shots a Zoroark GX if they have a bench of seven or more (or six if you have Choice Band). The way I see it, mirror is a slugfest where you each one-shot each other while trying to stunt the opponent with Hex and Red Card. If you have more one-prize Pokemon you have an easier time coming out on top. Other counters for mirror that I like are a Sudowoodo (Watch/Learn) with a Counter Energy, Counter Catcher, and of course, Red Card.
Counter Catcher has been largely looked over, but the card has tons of merit in mirror because it allows you to Hex and bring up a two prize Pokemon in the same turn. Is that better than Red Card and Hex? Depends on the situation for sure, but having both in the deck is deadly. I am a bigger fan of these pseudo-Supporter items than of a strategy involving Sudowoodo and a Counter Energy.
Fighting decks are sort of an issue, but aren’t too bad. The reason for this is that you can one-shot them right back after they one-shot you. If it’s Buzzwole or Lycanroc that has taken a KO, you easily Foul Play and take a one-shot with a one prize attacker (Zoroark B&W). If fighting is going to be successful it has to be with one-prize Pokemon. Andrew Mahone likes Lucario because it cannot be Foul Played like the other attackers, but to that, I would argue that I can still dish 180 with Righteous Beating pretty easily. Fighting decks only beat Zoroark consistently if they can utilize attackers like Sudowoodo (BKP) or other one-prize fighting attackers. NVI Terrakion is very underrated right now and I talk about why I like it later, in the Garbodor section.
Knowing this, how should the list change?
I think one of the most obvious adjustments Zoroark could make, is playing more supporters. This is going make Glaceon easier to handle, Trashalanche less of a problem, and Red + Hex less painful. As I said, I have already added in a Sycamore, but a third Colress makes a lot of sense to me as well; maybe a third Brigette.
We want to find overlap with techs to get the most out of our slots. Analyzing a card like Stand in Zoroark, I certainly see use against mirror, and it could be good against Garbodor, but it doesn’t do much of anything against Glaceon. Against Fighting, it could be decent for KOing opposing one-prize attackers. Hard to say if it’s worth the spot, but I’m learning towards saying it is.
How about a Counter Catcher? Well that certainly will be helpful in mirror, against Fighting decks I see a lot of potential, and against Glaceon it could get you out of the ability lock by scooping up any Pokemon that doesn’t have Freezing Gaze. In general, Counter Catcher seems like a solid card. The effect is strong card because it gives you a boost when you’re behind. Cards that help when you are losing are my favorite additions. Cards that help when you are winning are not as important since you’re going to win anyway. But if you can find a card that gives you a shot when it looks like you’re going to lose, that can make a huge difference. So it ends up not seeing a ton of use (because hopefully you’re winning a lot), but when you do use it, it can make a big difference.
Both Battle Compressors are very important. I have a hunch that players will want techs and cut the compressor(s) for them, but this is an awful idea. Two is the way to go because it makes every stage of your game more consistent. You get more T1 Brigette with the Compressor/Seeker combo, you get more T2 Colress with the same combo, you don’t draw into as many dead cards in the mid game, you Trade for free almost immediately, and it lets you draw somewhat well even under Garbotoxin lock. Cutting compressor is going to hurt the Glacen and Garbodor matchups, but will also hurt the deck’s overall power. Sometimes the best thing you can do to a list is leave it alone. In fact, this is the case a big part of the time; I believe that about 75% of the changes players make to lists they find end up making the deck worse.
There is a lot that I like about Riley’s list, and little that I feel can actually be cut. This is why I left the list only one card different, because with the current sets legal, there is almost nothing to change. But a couple changes you could go for, is dropping the Night March counter cards. There were only five Night March in top 64 at Dallas, myself included. I did the best out of the Night march players and I can say with confidence that the deck does not feel comfortable in a meta full of Riley’s Lonzo. I currently believe this list beats Night March more than it loses to it and I do not think players will continue to use Night March after seeing how it did not perform too well at Dallas. This is exactly why we might be able to cut out the Night march Counters. If nobody players Night March, there’s no need to counter it.
I’m also Skeptical of Ghetsis. I think the card is good, but that Hex is much much better most of the time in this meta. Against Garbodor and Fighting decks Ghetsis does little, and against Zoroark you want to Hex far more than you want to Ghetsis. Ghetsis is mostly good against Night March and as I said, I don’t think we’ll see a lot of it. Maybe we’re better off with two Hex and no Ghetsis?
Here is a prototype list that uses what I’m talking about. Keep in mind that this list is all theory at the moment and has not been tested yet.