As soon as the (Generations-like) set Shining Legends was leaked and all cards were available, Zoroark GX instantly stood out from all the other cards in the set by a large margin. Not only is it the best card of a (relatively small) set, it is also one of the best GX cards we have had in a while. Golisopod GX actually came out in the set before Shining Legends, which is Burning Shadows. The star of Burning Shadows was and still is Gardevoir GX by a mile. However, thanks to the arrival of Zoroark GX, Golisopod GX has been stealing a lot of Gardevoir GX’s shine, and will most likely continue doing so.
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Playing this deck, a player from Norway named Tord Reklev won the huge International tournament in London not too long ago, and fellow countryman Benjamin Behrens got top 8 at Memphis Regionals with this deck recently as well.
Benjamin was so kind to explain a bit about the deck and to share his experience playing it at Memphis Regionals in a short interview. He also gives some general advice to the Pokéspot community.
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The archetype: Zoroark GX
Zoroark GX is quite frankly an exceptionally good card. It is so good because its ability allows you to draw cards, but it also has a very decent attack as well. Where most decks use Pokémon like Octillery or Oranguru on the bench solely for drawing cards, Zoroark GX can do that for you just as effective with its ability ‘Trade’. Furthermore, thanks to its attack ‘Riotous Beating’ it can act like the main attacker at the same time. Another great feature about the card is that for a stage 1 Pokémon, Zoroark GX is also fairly tanky with a respectable amount of 210 HP. High HP is extremely important for this deck as you will soon find out when the strategy is discussed in more detail further along in the article.
Its GX attack also has potential, but due to the fact that Golisopod GX is in the deck and thus only grass energy is played combined with DCE, it will never be called upon in this deck. Lastly, the keyword that defines this card is amazing ‘consistency’. As Benjamin explains, consistency is the most important thing in the game, and this card provides it to the fullest mostly because it combines drawpower and a great attack into a single card.
The Second Attacker: Golisopod GX
Even though Zoroark GX is the star of this deck, It couldn’t shine as much as it does without the help of Golisopod GX. You will be switching out your Zoroark GX lots of times during the match. Therefore, having Golisopod GX being able to attack with 150 damage out of the blue (including a Choice Band) puts a lot of pressure on your opponent. Furthermore, it is also a stage 1 Pokémon as is Zoroark GX, and both share the same amount of HP as well. Honestly, ‘Armor Press’ isn’t a very amazing attack and won’t be used often.
The GX move however, may doesn’t look like much, but being able to switch to a fresh Zoroark GX for next turn is actually a nice gimmick to have. Lastly, with a Choice Band this attack hits for 180 damage, which knocks out most basic GX Pokémon in a single hit.
Decklist Benjamin Behrens (top 8 place Memphis Regionals)
The main strategy of this deck is to knock your opponent’s Pokémon out in two hits. The moment you have taken some damage you will start using the Acerola to bring back your Pokémon, remove the damage counters completely, and bring out a fresh new Pokémon to start attacking with again. Thanks to this recycling method the only way your opponent will get prize cards is to try and one-shot your Pokémon. However, with the high amount of 210 HP, this is not an easy task for most decks. Moreover. thanks to Zoroark GX you will be able to consistency draw the cards that you need and discard that cards that you don’t need for the matchup. So, not only does it provide draw support, it also helps you to thin out your deck which improves the chance of drawing into cards you do need.
As mentioned earlier, Benjamin Behrens got top 8 at the biggest Regionals in history held at Memphis. The following video is him playing against Decidueye GX / Zoroark GX at the regionals tournament in his last game that guaranteed him a place in the top 8.
Now is the time to explain the deck’s strategy in a little bit more detail. The most important cards in the deck will be discussed individually both on their role in general and also for this specific deck.
You will want to have as many of these as possible in play simply to guarantee you to be able to draw cards consistently. Moreover, filling up your bench will also guarantee the fact of Zoroark GX being able to knock out your opponent’s Pokémon in two hits.
Golisopod GX is so good in this deck because you will be switching your active constantly. Therefore, it can attack for 120 damage for a single energy quite often. Being a stage 1 Pokémon, it is quite easily set up thus getting it back with Acerola and having another one ready to attack again is a breeze.
Really helps increase the odds of getting that essential first turn Brigette. Furthermore, it helps grab Guzma when necessary to get some more control in the game and pick out your priority targets first. Come to think of it, any supporter in this deck can be very important at different points of the game, making Tapu Lele GX that much more essential.
Can take advantage of a huge bench on your opponent’s side and is very versatile because of its ability to become the active Pokémon when needed. This Pokémon can hit high numbers of attack damage but will only give away onze prize card when taken down itself. Therefore, if your opponent has a full bench, definitely consider playing this card over a Zoroark GX because the damage is equal, but the risk is somewhat lower.
This card is like Zoroark, a very good card in general, or maybe even a little bit better. It has free retreat, so switching to a Golisopod GX can be done in no time. Additionally, the bench damage it can do could be that little bit of damage that can win you the game in the end. Thus, especially as a starter Pokémon it can really be the most valuable.
Can help a lot against Psychic matchups due to weakness. All it needs is a DCE and is therefore used in lots of decks just to deal with the Psychic decks in the meta.
A first turn Brigette is essential in this deck to set up in time. You will need as much Zorua and Wimpod on your bench on the first turn as possible. That way, you can start evolving for multiple Zoroark GX and Golisopod GX in an early stage of the game. Brigette allows you to place three basic Pokémon on your bench right off the bat.
A good card to have and maintain control of the game. Moreover, it works exceptionally well with this deck because you can switch out a priority target from the opponent’s bench to the active, but you can also move in that Golisopod GX for 150 damage for a single energy as well. This allows the deck to really reach high damage numbers very quickly. Therefore, you should always play four of these.
Without this card the deck wouldn’t be tier 1. Thanks to Acerola, you can really make use of the Golisopod GX’s cheap attacks. Moreover, because you can provide your Pokémon with sufficient energy within a single turn, it won’t hurt you at all when you use it. Most decks will need some time te set-up the Pokémon they had just taken out of play with Acerola, but this isn’t the case for this deck.
Because your Pokémon can be provided with energy to attack so easily, playing at least one Max Potion is just a must. Especially when you can use it unexpectedly, because it can really disrupt your opponent’s strategy and consequent plays if your Pokémon suddenly heals off 200hp in a late-game -scenario.
Getting rid of those choice bands and other tools will make it that much harder for your opponent to take out your Pokémon in one hit. This is essential because you have so much survivability with the Acerola plays, that taking this option away from your opponent is very important. Additionally, Garbodor can remove abilities from the game when it has a Pokémon tool attached to it, removing this is essential against this matchup. Lastly, Field Blower also removes Parallel City which potentially disrupts your play quite a bit. Playing 3 to 4 copies of Field Blower is therefore the best.
As mentioned earlier, this deck has won a recent (Dec 16) Internationals at London, but it also got 1st place at; Turin Regionals (Dec 16), Brisbane Regionals (Dec 16), 8th place at Memphis Regionals (Dec 16), 14th place at Sao Paulo (Jan 27) and 8th place at Leipzig Regionals (Jan 27).
One might suggest that according to these results, it is one of the strongest decks in the format at the moment this article is published. Although there are more decks that are very strong too, this deck is definitely amongst the strongest ones out there right now, and will most likely remain so for a long time, as Benjamin claims. As always, when a deck is the big winner at several tournaments, it will be targeted and countered massively. Therefore, the deck will get some more resistance with upcoming tournaments in the future. However, it isn’t that easily countered so it will most likely keep getting good results at future tournaments even though its popularity is rising.
Now it is time to see how the deck fairs against the other tier 1 decks out there in the current meta. It must be noted that this deck doesn’t have much autowins or autolosses as every matchup is pretty much 50/50. However, being as how strong the deck is one might suggest that it has a little favor against all the 50/50 decks listed nonetheless.
Metagross GX – 80/20
This deck fairs quite well against this deck because Metagross GX is not able to one-shot your Pokémon. Therefore, with the recycle technique, you can keep your Pokémon alive after taking one hit which is why this matchup is in favor to Zoroark GX. If Solgaleo GX is included in the deck, the percentages are 65/35.
Volcanion EX – 40/60
One of the toughest matchups you could encounter mostly because Golisopod GX has weakness to fire. However, your Zoroark GX can fair quite well against Volcanion EX, so just avoid using Golisopod GX and you do stand a chance.
Gardevoir GX 50/50
Both are strong decks that are quite equal to each other.
Buzzwole GX 50/50
Both are strong decks that are quite equal to each other.
You don’t play that many items and you also have the magic numbers in favor for both HP and attack points, usually should be a win.
Lycanroc GX 50/50
Both are strong decks that are quite equal to each other.
Tapu Bulu GX GX 55/45
The attack numbers and HP are slightly in your favor for this matchup.
This is where significant changes to the deck itself or its place in the meta will be communicated. Often this happens when a big tournament just ended or a new set just has released.
Release Ultra Prism Glaceon GX (Feb, 4)
As mentioned in the interview with Benjamin, although it is yet to be seen how strong this card actually is, it is deemed a counter against Zoroark GX or any ability dependent strategy in the game. Glaceon GX can cancel out your abilities making it very hard to maintain a consistent flow not being able to use the ability ‘Trade’. The only downside is that it has to be in the active spot, so it can be taken out more easily than if it were on the bench. Furthermore, its damage is decent but not downright amazing, so it should not win against decks that do not dependent on abilities, therefore balancing out the usage of Glaceon GX dramatically.
Note: A forum topic about this deck profile can be found here