Pokemon TCG - League Challenge Report with Zoroark/Gyarados 20190119
Author: Kaiwen Cabbabe Date Posted:19 January 2019
League Challenge Report with Zoroark/Gyarados
Good day all curious and benevolent readers, and welcome to the first of hopefully many posts, recounting and ranting about the game we all love: Pokemon. A little about myself; my name is Kaiwen Cabbabe, I’ve been playing the game since 2012 and am a former Senior Division 2013 Pokemon World Champion. I play in the Oceania region and this past weekend I was successful in obtaining my invitation to the 2019 World Championships and am at 267/250 points. I entered a small 15-player League Challenge on Saturday this past weekend and was able to place third with one of my favourite decks of the current format: Zoroark/Gyarados.
4x Zorua (SM promo)
4x Zororak GX
2x Tapu-Lele Gx
3x Magikarp (Crimson Invasion)
1x Magikarp (Dragon Majesty)
2x Gyarados (Burning Shadows)
1x Oranguru (Ultra Prism)
1x Ditto Prism Star
1x Alolan Muk (Sun and Moon base)
4x Professor Elm’s Lecture
2x Professor Kukui
2x Enhanced Hammer
4x Ultra Ball
4x Timer Ball
3x Choice Band
1x Max Potion
1x Rescue Stretcher
2x Pal Pad
2x Devoured Field
4x Double Colorless Energy
Reasonings on the List
My initial thought was to play Zoroark/Lycanroc for the tournament, but what lured me to playing the Gyarados variant was the ability for the deck to switch gears instantaneously throughout the game. You have the option to play a slow, control game with Oranguru, Pal Pad and looping Acerola whilst removing your opponent’s energy via Enhanced Hammer and Faba, but you can also go aggressive and take big one-shot knockouts with Gyarados or Zoroark with damage modifiers such as Choice Band/Devoured Field/Kukui. My list deviates from the standard that was piloted by Philip Schulz, specifically with the additions of Devoured Field and Faba. The former is used as a way to easily hit 130 to KO Naganadel in the Blacephalon matchup and to act as a counter stadium to remove cards like Heat Factory and Shrine of Punishment. The latter is used primarily in the Zoroark mirror match, where I found one of the most optimal strategies is to either remove energy to gain tempo, or in the Zoroark/Gyarados mirror match to remove all energy from the game completely such that they can never attack. Due to Oranguru being able to recycle special energies if we are trading one-for-ones with Enhanced Hammer, the Faba is able to remove them from the game completely, is recyclable by Pal Pad, is searchable by Lele and can also remove tools which this deck was originally uncapable of doing.
In terms of matchups, I believe this has a solid spread against the most popular decks in the format:
Vs Zoroark Mirrors – the ability to Acerola loop more than your opponent is invaluable and you always have tempo with numerous ways to remove Double Colorless Energy from the field
Vs Blacephalon – Gyarados makes this matchup a near autowin. Two magikarp in the discard allows for a one-shot. Activating Beast Ring in this matchup is a non-issue since you trade two-for-ones per Gyarados.
Vs Gardevoir – this matchup is quite tricky, however if you can KO one Gardevoir with a Gyarados and a Choice Band the tempo is usually too overwhelming. Looping Enhanced Hammer and Faba with Oranguru can also slow them down enough to gain sufficient tempo in a matchup that can get out of hand easily.
Vs Malamar – I believe any Zoroark deck has an advantage against Malamar as they are usually pressured to Chimecho early. If they cannot lock you out of playing your evolutions, the continual barrage of attackers and OHKOs is usually too overwhelming for Malamars and their attackers to handle. However, playing around Dawn-Wings Necrozma’s GX attack is important to ensuring you don’t lose tempo in the matchup.
Vs Buzzwole – this matchup is admittedly quite difficult but it is almost non-existent in my metagame. However, most matchups depend on how much value you can gain from an attacking Gyarados and how much you can slow down their energy attachments if they are forced to attach Unit Energy early such that you can gain tempo and stabilise.
Round 1: vs Zoroark/Glaceon (T)
Game 1 - This matchup is quite difficult, however my opponent dead drew and I was able to steal a quick win.
Game 2 – my opponent was able to setup completely with Magcargo and the Glaceon’s were too difficult to handle. I was able to lock up the board by removing all my opponent’s Double Colorless Energy with Enhanced Hammer, however he was able to use Acerola on his active Glaceon GX, bench an Eevee, attach and evolve into Glaceon again and use Aqua Patch which basically negated my previous turn. This tempo swing was gruelling and I lost a well-fought game. We did not have time to begin a game 3 and thus tied the round.
Round 2: vs Gardevoir (W)
Game 1 – my opponent did not open Professor Elm’s Training Method and was always one turn behind evolving. I used this advantage to KO his basics before they evolved and took a quick game.
Game 2 – I was unable to keep up with multiple energy on two cycling Gardevoir-GX and whiffed a crucial DCE attachment to a Gyarados to one-shot a Gardevoir-GX with three energy. I scooped to save time for game 3.
Game 3 – I opened Magikarp and set up with Elm. My opponent took the bait and KO’d my fish, which allowed me to get a turn three Gyarados setup with a Choice Band hitting for 230 which KO’d his Gardevoir. He was unable to respond to the Gyarados and I took another two prizes on another Gardevoir the next turn and he scooped knowing it was too difficult to stop its rampage.
Round 3: vs Zoroark/Lycanroc/Weavile (W)
Game 1 – we traded Acerola and I kept removing his Unit energy on his Lycanroc. Eventually I setup a Gyarados on a Ditto with four Magikarp in the discard pile and Decided to go aggro which KO’d a Zoroark in one-hit. The tempo swing was unmanageable for my opponent and he never recovered.
Game 2 – the same thing happened as in game 1, however he opened Giratina which made his game extremely awkward.
Round 4: vs Gaskan (Malamar) (T)
Game 1 – this was an odd game, where I felt ahead the entire game. However, I Judge’d my opponent in hopes that if I KO’d my opponent’s active Marshadow GX I could just disrupt him from getting a followup knockout and I’d be able to win. However, my opponent was able to draw an out to a Marshadow GX and I was unable to find the last Double Colorless Energy I needed to win. Despite feeling ahead the entire game, the Dawn-Wings GX attack swung the entire game for me and I lost a game my opponent had no business in winning.
Game 2 – I was locked out early, but luckily was able to KO his Chimecho with a Devoured Field topdeck and I was always one prize ahead in the race. The Dawn Wings GX attack reared its ugly head again, but I attached my DCEs prior to using disruption which allowed me to find easier outs to close the game out which won me the game.
Game 3 – he was locking me with Chimecho, but as he was about to go aggressive, time was called and we ended it in a tie.
So whilst not a spectacular tournament ending 2-0-2, I was able to place third with the top four being:
I netted an extra 10 championship points and a nice 3rd place Challenge promo!
I think Zoroark/Gyarados is a solid play in future tournaments in this current format, however with the new set just on the horizon it may be overpowered by many tag-team strategies. Only time will tell though!
Thanks for reading my first entry, please check back for my Team-Up set review next week ☺
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