Tribute to Time

Worlds ’16 in Retrospect, Steam Siege Expanded, and Standard without Night March
competitors stadium entrance
Worlds is a spectacle to behold.

There’s always something special in the air at the World Championships. The number of conversations happening around me that I haven’t the slightest prayer of understanding, the extra legion of staff meant to close that barrier, and the spectacle of opening and closing ceremonies all combine to create a truly unique and powerfully memorable experience.

Today, I’m going to intersperse a lot of topics amongst each other. Worlds, of course, is the preeminent headline in the community. Beyond that, though, next season is closer than it appears. As of now, we don’t quite know for certain if either of the two formats — Standard or Expanded — should be more greatly emphasized, so I’m going to look at both. Since I was last with you, TPCi announced partially the details of next season. Right now, this thread is the most comprehensive compilation of Regionals dates and information we have. I’m hopeful that by the time I’m next with you, in early September, there’ll be a clearer picture of each format’s immediate relevance.

Near Term: Implications of a New Structure

path road journey
This season: choose your own adventure.

Currently, the primary concern is whether or not League Cups will begin to take place prior to the first Regionals in October. If they do not, each individual player’s format priority is going to vary based on proximity to a given early-season Regional event. If format-varying League Cups are going to commence in September, the dilution of the two formats will only be further exacerbated. My suspicion is that our upcoming structure will enable a player to specialize in one format, much like Magic’s balance between its formats allows a player to specialize in one format or another and still see success in the competitive circuit.

What does that mean for the future in Pokémon? My guess: TPCi will set the Day 1 World Championship invite bar at a level conducive to a player being able to concentrate on one format all year while attaining an invite. Meanwhile, incentives such as Travel Stipends (to Continental/Zone Championships) and Day 2 Invites seem like TPCi’s way of incentivizing a portion of the playerbase to participate in both formats. In this way, an opportunity exists for newer players to enter the game at its highest level while providing an extra challenge — a second format — to those who seek a higher reward. The entry barrier for Expanded events can’t be ignored, but if Standard provides a route to the game’s highest level, that barrier’s negative effect is significantly mitigated.

In one encompassing infrastructure, Play! Pokémon’s highest echelon of play will be well accessible at appropriate levels to new players, old veterans, those with limited time, and those with abundant resources. If there’s a higher goal for an organized play structure to attain, I’d be curious to hear your take on what form it takes.

As much as I’ve been a detractor of some of Organized Play’s evolutions over the last couple years, I think the final form may well be worth the growing pains of years past (more, however, on “growing pains” later).

One effect: there’s going to be a bit of a problem for Underground authors — while there will be efforts to coordinate discussion such that neither format is being left completely in the cold, we also aren’t going to be able to cover each and every concept available in both formats. For that reason, it’s going to be all the more important to keep in mind: feel free to reach out with questions about content and non-content alike. Of course, we may not all be able to answer all questions equally — for example, my current intent is to prioritize familiarity with BLW–STS over PRC–STS — but I assure you inquiries and suggestions/requests are always welcome.

In Retrospect: World Championships 2016

This year, Worlds had a very different feel due to the circumstances around it. Marriott Marquis San Francisco was a unique venue for the event, and it clearly didn’t work in all regards. I did not have the weekend I would have liked, having my worst tournament in a long time. Not making Top 32 last year was a disappointment, but falling short of Day 2 altogether this year was a different level of feeling altogether. I’d like to talk today about my deck choice, my day, and some thoughts on the happenings of Worlds this year as a whole.

Choosing Greninja: Mad Methods

You may remember my last article, post-Nationals, in which I described the spreadsheet model my friends and I often use to assist in deck selection at major events. In this case, we eschewed the model in favor of a simple goal: beat Trevenant, have a good Waterbox matchup, and have at least a slight edge against Night March. In a tournament where we needed 6 wins, it made sense to simply find the deck that beat the 2-3 things we thought we’d see the most of, which is what happened here.

While I fundamentally believed that Night March would be the most played deck in the room, it also would inevitably be the most countered. For that reason, I supposed that many high-level players would stray from Night March, meaning that natural forces would relatively eliminate it from the upper tables by Round 3 or 4 — through a lack of elite-level play and natural resistance of being the deck-to-beat. This was why I was comfortable with a deck featuring a narrow advantage rather than wanting a sizable advantage over the most hyped deck in the format.

Trevenant, though, was something I wanted a good matchup against. It was the most natural counter to Night March, and had seen success at Nationals, so it figured to see sizable representation at Worlds. Similarly, the myth of Pokémon Ranger eliminating Waterbox was something I never really subscribed to. Ranger is simply an underwhelming counter to Seismitoad. In fact, I’m not convinced that I would’ve played a copy of Ranger had I elected to pilot Night March — and I don’t think I was alone in that feeling.

Vespiquen/Vileplume was also a consideration, but not of significant stature in our decision process. Other than that, we generally felt that the rest of the field would be a small factor in our day.

. . .

Greninja entered the decision-making process a bit before we arrived at Worlds, and was one of the two decks I was seriously considering heading into my trip to San Francisco. The other, Zoroark BKT/Yveltal XY with a heavy Red Card + Delinquent emphasis, simply lacked an attacker I felt comfortable with. Zoroark’s damage being controlled by the opponent to a large extent is something I’ve never been comfortable with. Alex Hill discussed the exact decision and list formation on Tuesday, so I’ll mostly leave that to him. For reference’s sake, this was what we ended up with:

kpiplup greninja worlds 2016

One concern that was raised regarding Greninja in an environment like this was the matter of time. Truth: 50+3 is insufficient to consistently play three full games of Pokémon at an average player’s speed. In order to make this work, I knew I needed to play quickly and be willing to scoop early, especially in Game 2. I have exactly 7 unintentional draws in more than 270 matches this season, so I wasn’t exactly worried about my tie rate. Naturally, I’m sure you can already envision what’s to come …

Kaleidoscopic Fluctuation: Froakie’s Plight

A kaleidoscope, in simplest form and terms, utilizes a mirror and various beads and other objects to generate a pattern of light. By definition, when an aspect of the kaleidoscope is altered or the angular perspective from which you observe its inner workings is varied, the end result of what the eye perceives changes. In a similar way, while I may have seen the metagame and my deck’s chances in one light, the reality of Greninja’s inherent inconsistency (Stage 4s) and universal vulnerability (Hex Maniac) shifted the paradigm unfavorably.

To start exploring this principle, here was my debacle of a day:

Worlds 2016 // Day 1 // 476 Masters, 8 Rounds, 18 Match Points to Advance

R1: Zoroark (LWT)
R2: Night March (LWL)
R3: Yveltal/Darkrai (WW)
R4: Night March (LL)
R5: Night March (T-WLL)

Final: 1-3-1 (Drop)

To say the least, I had an unfortunate run.

Between Alex and I, our rate of Talonflame starts ended up a bit below the rate at which we could reasonably expect to see such a result. His 78% Day 1 rate compared to my dismal 28% occurrence certainly influenced the contrast in our performances to some degree. When a significant factor in our input was changed, our experiences varied widely.

froakie hmm bluekomadoribluekomadori.tumblr.comThe same became true of my starts — this section’s name is in reference to the number of games in which my lone Froakie either came extraordinarily close to falling, or, actually did succumb to a quick knockout (shout-out to my Round 4 and his Super Scoop Ups to counter Bubble …). As you may be aware, you lose in Pokémon when you don’t have any Basics. I know, I know — startling insight.

That’s certainly not a shot at Alex’s or reference to his luck, but an indictment on the fragility of the deck’s tendencies at large. I haven’t done the math as to how the Day 1 performance was as a group, but I know for a fact that it fell well short of the success we experienced last year or at a number of other events throughout the season. My feeling on Greninja at this point: at heart, the strategy is something that will never be a reliable contender like Night March has been this season or LuxChomp served as during its time.

Simply, by the time you dedicate a quarter of your deck to a single Evolution line whose mechanism of damage output can be countered by a splashable Supporter card, you invite both fundamental setup issues and fundamental executional flaws into the equation. The deck sometimes simply fails to get going.

Back to the problem of running out of Basic Pokémon. I don’t normally notate my tournament results in the form used above, preferring a simple numerical display (0-2) vs the more detailed “LL.” You may have noticed a bizarre “T-W” in my final round. What might that be? Something you don’t see every day in tournament play:

kpiplup worlds 2016 round 5 tie
You know you’re having a rough day when nobody cares about photography at the table.

Why, yes, that would be an empty Bench on my side of the board. And, naturally, I do happen to have 1 Prize card remaining. Since my opponent lacked any way to remove Bursting Balloon or disrupt my hand — and possessed the knowledge that I could Giant Water Shuriken for the win on my following turn — a rarity occurred: Sudden Death! Since we both achieved one win condition at the same time, a 1-Prize game commenced to decide the winner of Game 1.

Somehow, I won said game. I opened Talonflame, went first, and got the crucial N to 1. I had one turn of freedom before my opponent was able to Ultra Ball for a Shaymin. Miraculously, he was unable to come up with the resources to take the Prize and I utilized my Aero Blitz to acquire a Rare Candy + Greninja + Wally + Water dream hand to take the game.

Due to Game 1’s extended length, I was compelled to scoop Game 2 on his second turn of the game due to the removal of my only Froakie from the board. Game 3 simply further reinforced the notion that I’d probably made a poor judgement call in deck selection.

At that point, I dropped from Worlds for the first time in my career. Quite frankly, the environment was cramped, miserable, and full of dysfunction. With nothing left to play for, a nasty headache, and my brother + friends to aid in Day 2 deck selection, it was the best choice I had.

And, That’s All Folks: Day 2 Observations

As you know by now, despite a brutal series of games in my hotel room Friday evening (Greninja: 2 wins; other decks: 10), Sean and Alex elected to stay the course. It’s hard to know what could’ve been if Alex’s day hadn’t been prematurely foiled by Sceptile, but that’s Pokémon — and especially Worlds — in a nutshell.

My brother played the aforementioned Zoroark deck to a Top 32 finish in Seniors. Wasn’t ideal, but certainly nothing to be upset about. I tend to believe that the deck lacked a fundamentally solid attacker that would’ve compelled me to play it, but in the end, was solid overall.

As for the winning decks, while M Audino was a solid meta call for the event, I don’t see its success persisting past this weekend. New Standard features a relatively un-countered M Rayquaza-EX, which totally outclasses it, and Expanded provides Yveltal and Xerneas the tools to dismantle it with relative ease. Simply not enough damage for the investment.

I’m not going to pretend to understand Jesper’s run in Seniors. The deck seemingly has an excellent time with Night March and Seismitoad, but how he beat Trevenant in Top 4 is something I’m never going to understand. While Yanmega could be intriguing in the Standard future, I think the finals match was testament to the card’s inherent clumsiness — did you see how difficult it was to dispose of a Grass-weak EX that does 30 damage? If nothing else, the inefficiency of its damage output is something I see proving a problem in a format that figures to be dominated by Mega Evolutions. Vespiquen may fare a bit better, but by the time Standard sees play this year, Karen will finally have made its way into the game. A daunting path forward to say the least.

Finally, in Juniors, I do believe Darkrai/Giratina is an intriguing concept for the time ahead. I’ve liked the deck, being among the first to pilot it publicly at Origins earlier this year (and I even considered it for Worlds this year), but the release of Pokémon Ranger is a seemingly significant issue. The only possibility I see for salvation: a player cannot utilize both Pokémon Ranger and Hex Maniac in the same turn. This means that, so long as Sky Field isn’t in play, a M Rayquaza player will be unable to remove a healthy Giratina-EX in one turn. This interaction may lead Giratina-EX to success in the future, and Dark certainly serves as a natural partner.

Notations on Organization: Where Worlds Fell Short

crowd rush 16-9
There was an unexpected influx of VGC competitors.

Anyone who’s been to a particularly poorly run event can recognize the signs from the beginning. Early event disorganization, a lack of clear communication, and venue problems are the trio that tend to compose a poor experience waiting to happen. Unfortunately, the World Championships in the 20th anniversary year of Pokémon will make history, but not for the right reasons.

I’m not here today to tell you why this was the worst event I’ve ever attended (it was far from it) or anything of that nature. That’d be a disservice to the folks that put everything into making the event work as well as possible and generally non-productive. Instead, as we look toward next year, I’d like to go through my thoughts on what caught this year’s event up in the weeds and hopefully expound on what you as a competitor at any level of event can do to safeguard yourself from trouble (obviously, some of these issues aren’t going to be applicable to such a resolution).

To start: in defense of the OP division at TPCi, the constant “rent a bigger venue!” plea I’ve heard is not a meaningful battle cry. At heart, invite quantity projections that missed their mark appear to have been what landed us in this mess, but in a way that most TCG players won’t have considered: Video Game Masters.

. . .

In 2015, around 160 Masters received invitations to compete at VGC Worlds. That’s including Day 2 invites and awarding a generous quota of 20 for Japan + Korea. That number has generally been fairly constant over the last few years.

In 2016, the first year that VGC has used the Championship Point threshold system that the TCG has employed since 2013, over 700 Masters worldwide attained D1/D2 Video Game invites — without even considering JP + KR. In Latin America alone, over 250 people achieved the threshold. A grand total of 420 players exercised those invitations on Day 1, with 32 more receiving Day 1 byes.

If 2015 had employed 2016’s invite structure, a total of 199 players would’ve been invited to compete. While TPCi likely accounted for a modest increase in that number, I don’t think anything this extreme was expected. Even if TPCi anticipated the number of invites to double, such a projection would’ve fallen short — by almost 400 players! Considering San Francisco’s relatively high cost juxtaposed with past Worlds cities, even if they anticipated a bump in invites, a nearly-fourfold increase in attendees would’ve been outside of anyone’s imagination.

Unfortunately, usable data doesn’t publicly exist for the year-over-year change in TCG invites when we changed from a Top X system to a CP threshold. While I can look at 2015’s VGC CP totals and have a rough estimate of the number of players that would’ve passed the invite threshold, the TCG CP structure changed entirely from 2012 to 2013, so there’s not a remotely apt comparison to make. However, I don’t doubt that TPCi had the ability to consider that data (by converting 2012 CP to 2013 CP), and I’m sure it was taken into account.

All of this is to say: while it’s a nice sentiment, “rent a bigger venue” is a lazy response to a problem that nobody could’ve foreseen.

. . .

In 2013, TPCi’s Organized Play team publicly acknowledged a directive to make invites relatively plentiful to accommodate the fact that a very large venue had been acquired (the Vancouver Convention Centre). Empty rooms are bad PR. Imagine how bad it would’ve looked in 2013 if there had been a huge room with nobody in it — not to mention how it would’ve reflected on the individual responsible for the capital expenditure. In 2016, either a venue was procured and invite targets were set based on that venue or a venue was selected based on invite targets. Which of the two is irrelevant: either way, when something goes as drastically amiss as that calculation, bad things are inevitably going to happen.

No business can be run in fear of what could happen. Proper course is to analyze what should happen — or, what will happen in the majority of circumstances — and plan based on that calculation. For that reason, I’m unsympathetic to the argument that a larger venue was necessary.

For those who attended, you’ll know that Ballrooms Golden Gate A and B were used for VGC Juniors, Seniors, and Masters Flight B; Golden Gate C was used for Pokkén Tournament; and the stream, TCG, and VGC Masters Flight A called the Yerba Buena Ballroom home. My suspicion is that VGC was supposed to be contained in Golden Gate A/B, but when invites drastically exceeded expectation, it necessitated squeezing part of the event into the Yerba Buena room with TCG. In totality, this resulted in a venue that was thoroughly overloaded with players — and a ripple effect that resulted in the experience that many found less-than-excellent at Worlds this year.

  • Nobody would deny that the morning of Day 1 was ugly. Pokkén Tournament and VGCers that weren’t budgeted to be in the TCG hall crowded in for Opening Ceremonies, which led to the Fire Marshal having a bit of an issue that resulted in a painfully lengthy delay in the day’s proceedings. My advice to players in the future, should we ever face such venue restrictions again: be early.
  • Check-in was, at best, messy. For one thing, a lack of clear communication from TPCi prior to the event meant that the Guest Badge drama became a matter of significant confusion — a ripple effect that only exacerbated check-in’s woes. Check-in has only been this bad one other year in my time playing the game, and not coincidentally, it was the other year that featured a less-than-sympathetic venue staff and a huge influx of players: Vancouver in 2013. I have faith this won’t be as much of an issue in future years, but if it is, I can tell you that we waited around 20 minutes total after showing up around 7:15 pm Thursday. It did cost us a chance to attend the Giants game, but it also saved us hours in line.
  • Stream was a problem in various respects and from varying perspectives. For one thing, viewers at home were subject to an erratic schedule for the stream: sometimes, strange things happen when you run events in places with unique regulations. For competitors, it seemed to be a constant that the rest of the event was waiting 10+ minutes for the conclusion of the streamed match almost after almost every round. Hopefully in the future the pairing-to-stream turnaround can be made as close to zero as physically possible.

Whether you attended Worlds or watched from home, I’d love to hear your thoughts on anything I wrote here or anything else pertaining to the event.

In 2017, if the event is once again at a hotel (as I suspect), I hope that the playerbase at large is willing to look past this year’s failures and at least give that venue a chance. Obviously, this was not ideal for attendees, but it also wasn’t TPCi’s ideal reality either. Hopefully the future leads to better things.

Assessment of Afterthoughts: Final Musings

Worlds is now in the rearview mirror, and with it goes any vestige of the 2015-2016 season. I’m bothered by a rough performance this past weekend, but as a whole, I know I was a matter of one or two games away from a Day 2 invitation, so I can’t be too upset about the year. As always, it’s great to be a part of a community that is largely comprised of good people, and I look forward to what may lie in the months ahead. Special Worlds congratulations to Sam Hough for his run with a crazy deck and regrets to Jon Eng for his opponents (opponents) once again being the difference between Top 8 and also-ran.

Thinking Ahead: Steam Siege Expanded

surf ninjas
Ninja Boys and Water decks in full effect. ?

Quite frankly, Steam Siege doesn’t move the needle too much in terms of Expanded. Ninja Boy will probably have some impact, as it’s too inherently powerful an effect to simply fall by the wayside. Pokémon Ranger will probably limit the influence of Jolteon-EX in the format, and Special Charge will find a decent niche. Other than that, though, Volcanion will likely suffer from Seismitoad’s prominence in the scene and none of the other Pokémon seem to ooze potential.

Something to note for players of both formats is the timing of Karen’s release. We’ve learned that the Battle Arena Decks featuring Keldeo-EX and Rayquaza-EX DRX releasing September 21st will feature Karen. By consequence, Karen will become legal in both formats on October 7th. This means that players at the Arizona Regional Championships (on October 1st) will be stuck with Night March, but the later events in Florida and Philadelphia will feature entirely different metagames. My personal first concern is the Karen-less format of Arizona, so that’s what I’m going to be working with today.

Ahoy! Archie’s Blastoise

Pokémon – 16

2 Blastoise BCR

3 Keldeo-EX

1 Wailord-EX

2 Articuno ROS 17

1 Victini LTR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Jirachi-EX

3 Unown AOR

1 Exeggcute PLF

Trainers – 34

2 Archie’s Ace in the Hole

2 Professor Sycamore

1 N

1 Lysandre

1 Hex Maniac


4 VS Seeker

4 Battle Compressor

4 Superior Energy Retrieval

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

2 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Computer Search

1 Float Stone


3 Rough Seas

Energy – 10

10 W

The last couple of sets have changed Standard’s Trainer lineups significantly — but mostly through reprints. For that reason, this list is scarily similar to the one I employed almost a year ago for Houston Regionals. Fighting Fury Belt is a big boon to this deck, though, as it allows more durable plays with Keldeo and even Wailord, while having the dual function of allowing Articuno to hit odd numbers of damage.

Few changes; the meta abides.

Something that started to crop up during Spring Regionals was Jolteon-EX as a tech in Archie’s, mostly as a Night March counter. With Pokémon Ranger on the scene, I don’t think such a tech has much potential to succeed, but once Karen is released — and Night March bites the dust — I could see Jolteon-EX fitting well in here.

Unown vs Acro Bike is a debate that continues to rage, and currently I favor the Pokémon-based approach for greater flexibility in achieving the Archie’s and resiliency against Item lock. That said, starting Unown is far from fun, and the extra “dig” Acro Bike offers can’t be minimized. I’m definitely going to try both options, and I encourage you to do the same.

As it is, the goal of this list is to manage Night March with a combination of Articuno (hence the Victini LTR, as I strongly dislike my chances in game being totally reliant on hitting coin flips; Victini helps mitigate this risk) and Wailord, things like M Manectric and Primal Groudon with the beatdown of Keldeo, and Yveltal with a combination of both strategies. Rainbow Road — which we’ll talk about momentarily — is an interesting matchup, and the offensive-Wailord once again plays a significant role. Xerneas helpfully has 120 HP, meaning High Breaching can deftly dispose of the fairy. When you’re not doing that, Lysandre to target down weak (or even not-so-weak) EXs is an ideal approach.

I think Archie’s Blastoise is going to be primed for success both now and to come. It takes advantage of the metagame we saw developing at the end of Spring Regionals, and I could see it doing some damage this fall.

ROYGBIV: Rainbow Road

Pokémon – 15

4 Xerneas BKT

3 Ho-Oh-EX DRX

2 Yveltal-EX

1 Cobalion STS

1 Keldeo-EX

1 Hoopa-EX AOR

1 Jolteon-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

Trainers – 32

3 Professor Sycamore

2 Ninja Boy

1 N

1 Lysandre


4 VS Seeker

4 Battle Compressor

4 Ultra Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

2 Energy Switch

2 Fighting Fury Belt

2 Float Stone

1 Sacred Ash

1 Computer Search


2 Sky Field

Energy – 13

4 Double Colorless

4 Y

2 M

2 D

1 L

It’s a tight list, but 8 types is enough to Knock Out even a clean Wailord-EX. I don’t really think you even need more than 6 in a most games, but insurance against bad Prize cards is always good. Cobalion is probably the most immediately strange feature of the list, but its first attack is a highly functional Night March counter and the second good for finishing off Shaymin or other weak EXs at the end of games. Otherwise, Jolteon looks a little weird (especially with 1 L Energy), but it’s useful more as a natural Free Retreat option — especially when you consider the options it presents with Ninja Boy to counter Lysandre stalling. A Ninja Boy-aided T1 Flash Ray would be amazing as well.

Yveltal works very well with Ninja Boy too. You can now Rebirth, Ninja Boy, attach a Double Colorless, and suddenly be hitting for a lot of damage with something that has a bit more durability than Xerneas. I also wouldn’t want to be the Trevenant BREAK player sitting across from such a turn 1.

This deck has the ability to cover a broad swath of potential issues, which is what makes it interesting to me. Aside from the obvious type coverage, it has a 1HKO option (Xerneas), a sturdier/Energy conservation-enabled option (Yveltal-EX/Y Cyclone), and disruption utilities (Cobalion, Jolteon-EX). Moreover, it has non-EX attackers to provide an edge against decks reliant on EXs. These are all factors that can create a potential winner.

An AZ is probably the 61st card, but I truly don’t know what the cut would be. It might be most worth investigating how much Fighting Fury Belt assists in Xerneas’ survival and its ability to hit for important numbers. They might be the easiest cuts in the list at this early stage.

Overall, this is something I want to dedicate a lot of time to testing based on the aforementioned inherent strengths. The list is likely to require a bit (or a lot, depending how things evolve) of tweaking, but I think the concept will be sound.

Inversion: Standard without Night March

xerneas bkt 16-9
With Night March gone, Standard has new life.

Fundamentally, Night March’s removal from Standard is going to make it a more fluid and functional format. Immediately, the specter of no Tool removal becomes an interesting issue. Garbodor, obviously, can become a formidable foe when uncountable.

Something else notable regarding Garbodor: with Bursting Balloon and Klefki STS, it’s technically possible to maintain a one-sided Ability lock the entire game. Between Eco Arm and Super Rod, it’s possible to keep a stream of lock moving. Possible and worthwhile are two different things, of course, but it’s an interesting idea I thought was worth mentioning.

M Rayquaza (and Megas in general) figure to dominate the early stages of this format. Without a certain set of tiny Pokémon around to crush Psychic/Lightning-weak dreams, M Mewtwo and M Rayquaza both figure to have an interesting impact on the metagame. Garbodor BKP (or, the threat of him) figures to keep Greninja BREAK at relative bay early on, which opens the door for a lot of combinations to be considered. I’ve not done any testing at all since returning from Worlds, but these are two decks I’m going to start with:

Pokémon – 16

4 Xerneas BKT

2 Volcanion-EX

1 Jolteon-EX

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

3 Pawniard STS

3 Bisharp STS

1 Mew FCO

Trainers – 30

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

1 Ninja Boy

1 Giovanni’s Scheme


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Max Elixir

3 Exp. Share

2 Trainers’ Mail

1 Float Stone

1 Super Rod


2 Sky Field

Energy – 14

10 Y

4 Double Colorless

A lot of people asked me to consider Rainbow Road here, but this deck’s viability is probably waiting on the format’s further evolution in November. Without it, it lacks any semblance of answer to M Mewtwo-EX. However, if I were building this deck today, this is how I’d do it. Volcanion and Bisharp allow your type quota to add up quickly, and Exp. Share allows you to have some way of chaining Xerneas. Mew provides an extra type as well as serving as an extra attacking option.

That aside, however, I believe this is a more interesting Xerneas deck for the future:

Pokémon – 15

4 Xerneas STS

3 Xerneas BREAK

2 Regirock XY49

3 Giratina-EX AOR

2 Shaymin-EX ROS

1 Lugia-EX AOR

Trainers – 31

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Ninja Boy

2 Lysandre


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

3 Trainers’ Mail

3 Exp. Share

2 Super Rod


4 Fairy Garden

Energy – 14

10 Y

4 Double Dragon

The deck figures to play a lot like Darkrai/Giratina of the past Standard format, except that Max Elixir is replaced by an attack and the damage figures to add up a lot more quickly. I’d like to consider Max Elixir, and a future list may, but for the moment I don’t think there’s space to justify it when it and Geomancy create a bit of a conflict.

giratina-ex aor 93
Menace to Megas everywhere.

Giratina’s Renegade Pulse figures to play well in the upcoming format, as M Evolutions could easily dominate the scene. One particularly notable dilemma faces M Rayquaza players: Giratina-EX both prohibits the placement of Stadiums and the act of M Rayquaza attacking it as a M Evolution. Pokémon Ranger removes the former, and Hex Maniac the latter, but you obviously cannot play both in one turn. This is where I think the deck’s strength might lie: being able to put other decks in a bind that, without Battle Compressor and the untempered consistency of last format, will be harder to get out of.

Renegade Pulse should profit from that consistency deficiency, as M Evolution variants will have a harder time locating Hex Manaic, but more importantly, Chaos Wheel accentuates the natural slowing-down of Standard. It’s my current thought that Special Energy (and, by extension, probably Enhanced Hammer) will play a significant role in the upcoming format. Preventing Special Energy attachments ought to only intensify the natural level of slowness that figures to descend upon the next format.

One option to consider would be Klefki STS, but with Giratina providing decent coverage against Megas, I don’t think it fits here. Otherwise, another Dragon like Hydreigon-EX or even Tyrantrum-EX could be considered as an option. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Latios-EX works here (or in this format), as much as I’d like it to.

I can’t say I planned almost all of the decks in this article to be about the Life Pokémon, but I hope it’s clear that I think it has a lot of potential for the future. Standard is going to be a weird — and probably relatively poor — format, as are most Fall Standard formats. The upside: there’s usually a very defined metagame to take advantage of. The flip side of that coin? There’s only one Standard event, Florida Regionals (in mid-October), before the November expansion (Evolutions), which means that “defined” metagame won’t be very defined at all. Fort Wayne could be an interesting predicament, depending on how the November set shakes out, but by Dallas (in December) we should have a very clear expectation of what to expect from PRC-on for the rest of the year.

Ebb and Flow: The Past and The Future

With that, we come to the end of today’s adventure. I’ve covered a lot of ground in a lot of places, so let me know if any questions arise. As I mentioned at the outset, Worlds is one of my favorite experiences every year, and even though the result was lacking, this year was no different. I’m cautiously optimistic about the season to come and hope the future holds good things for the future of the game. Now more than ever, though, I’m reminded that true value isn’t present in experiences, but the people those experiences are shared with — and that’s important.

I’ll be back early in September with a closer look at Expanded. If in the interim there’s anything you’d like to ask about this article, suggest for the next article, or want to discuss in general, feel free to reach out on the forums.


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