Zoroark, the Surprising Counter to Sylveon
Welcome to the dawning of the mill counters in the 2018-2019 completive Pokémon scene. As of 9/30/18, Sylveon just had its best showing in a while, if not ever, with it winning Frankfurt Regionals. Per etiquette following a mill deck winning a tournament, I am here to provide a short, competitive, and fun answer to the potentially overwhelming strength of Sylveon.
This last weekend I had a nice enough experience playing Sylveon in some smaller tournaments, and a few home town Indiana players have also been experiencing tears with the deck. In my short experience with the deck, one match seemed to stick with me much more than some of the others. In this round, I was going second into a match against Zoroark Golisopod. His first turn was seemingly average, with him starting Zorua and playing apricot maker to produce two more Zorua, and then pass with no energy attachments. As Sylveon, I started the Eevee and an energy, a few hammers, an Acerola, and a Max potion, so per the typical start, I Energy Evolution and Magical Ribbon. My opponent proceeds to evolve into two Zoroark, and play a Tapu Lele GX for Judge. After the Judge, he Trades into energy, a basic Pokémon, and choice band to deal 110 damage. At 110 damage, Sylveon is liable to be knocked out on the following turn even with a Bodybuilding Dumbbells, so off of the 5 cards the Sylveon has on the next turn; two of them have to be energy and Max Potion to stay in the game or another Eevee to turn into a Sylveon. These combinations were not in my hand, so I lost.
Now, part of this seems like bad luck, but truthfully, a deck that can two hit knock out a Sylveon, play well off of judge, and play enough judge likely has an easy enough time with a deck that is designed to beat one of the best decks in format, Zoroark, and needs to do so to have a strong performance in big tournaments like Regionals. From this, we can assume high counts of judge effects can allow one of the current best decks to compete with the newfound counter, and if we can make a good deck beat a counter, we are not forced to play a bad deck that beats the counter (such as Magnezone).
If a deck like Zoroark adapts to play heavier judge counts, the rest of the deck should be formed around making Judge even more effective, because if three/four judge was good enough in the deck, lists would likely be playing it already and placing with it, or at least Sylveon should not have performed as well against the Zoroark heavy field in Frankfurt. With this I have opted to have a Bannette line, so the deck can get value out of playing high supporter counts, even if the extra judge are traded away in other match ups.
The other way to abuse judge is to use it while impacting the board position of the opponent. For this, I have opted to put a 1-0-1 line of Porygon Z, much like that of an underperforming Zoroark list in Frankfurt. This is because: 1. Porygon Z shores up Stage 2 match ups. 2. The deck abuses extra supporters like Mallow due to both being able to find Porygon Z pieces and add damage to Bannette GX’s attack. 3. You can Porygon Z a lone Sylveon into and Eevee to steal a game or devolve a Gardevoir to take away Secret Spring and Twilight GX from the Sylveon deck.
Here is my Spice:
1-0-1 Porygon Z
2 Tapu Lele GX
----- 15 – 33
2 devoured field
2 weakness policy
4 nest ball
2 great ball
4 ultra ball
3 choice band
1 pal pad
1 rare candy
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