Hello SixPrizes, it’s Grant here and I’m excited to be writing for you guys once again. I have noticed recently that the new Standard format has garnered a ton of attention within the past month, even with the Expanded Phoenix Regionals being the only large tournament since Worlds. I’ve had a lot of fun messing around with Standard, and some of my odd ideas have panned out thus far. Now it’s time to get serious, as Orlando Regionals is not far away. This tournament will be the first major event to use the new Standard format, and the stakes have never been higher with such large cash prizes on the line.
Today I’ll be going over the Standard format exclusively. We do not have many conclusive results with which to shape a tier list, but through testing, social media, websites, and League Challenge results I believe I have a solid idea of what will soon become the established metagame. I want to share a tentative tier list as a frame of reference for Standard. This will help explain why I think certain decks are incredibly important and it may explain some of my deck or tech choices. As always, your deck must have good matchups and consistency in order to be competitive. The tier list will help show which matchups are crucial to focus on.
I am also going to analyze some of my favorite decks that I’ve been playing with in the new format. All five of these have proven to be incredibly strong in testing and I would consider them top plays for Orlando Regionals and any other Standard tournaments you may have in your area. I won’t go in depth on every single matchup, but I will talk about some key points of the interesting matchups. Some of my picks are decks you’ve seen before with a twist, while others are new rogue concepts that are waiting for their chance to dominate. Let’s get into it.
- Mega Scizor (ref. 1, ref. 2)
- Vespiquen (ref.)
- Mega Rayquaza (ref. 1, ref. 2)
- Greninja (ref. 1, ref. 2)
This is an ordered tier list, so I expect Mewtwo to be the most popular deck at Orlando Regionals. It already seems to be popular at League Challenges, as every other post on Virbank is something like “Obligatory I won my LC with Mewtwo 15/500.” It is a solid deck that has seen a lot of coverage, and it performed well at the Alter Reality Gaming (ARG) event in Oklahoma City. Rainbow Road is close behind Mewtwo. Rainbow Road is an obscenely powerful deck and it has received a great deal of justified hype. Just recently I hit for 290 damage on turn 1. The deck is even stronger than Night March was, but not as consistent.
Volcanion also stood out at the ARG tournament. It is another top-tier threat that many decks have a hard time dealing with. It seems like the safe, consistent, and boring play for Standard. Yveltal/Mew has gotten some attention too. Dark has been relevant for over four years straight now, and this time it focuses on Yveltal BKT. It seems to have a slew of favorable matchups as well as two top 8 placements at ARG. The other decks are all respectable in their own right but they have glaring weaknesses that hold them back to Tier 2. They have not gotten as much hype as the Tier 1 decks. Greninja has recently done well in Expanded, but we don’t have much of an indication of how well it will do in Standard.
The BDIF: Rainbow Road
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 33
Energy – 13
While Mewtwo may be the most popular deck, Rainbow Road deserves the title of BDIF. It’s just so strong and its matchups are fantastic for the most part. This is my current list for Rainbow Road and it is coincidentally almost identical to the one I posted in my last article.
The only card that has changed is the fourth Ultra Ball, for which I cut Pokémon Ranger. Flygon-EX is enough of a Jolteon counter and Giratina isn’t threatening at all, so I decided that there was no use for Pokémon Ranger. Ultra Ball is too important to not run four of. Another change that I am debating is to add a third N for consistency in the early game. I don’t run all that many consistency cards so another N would help. I would cut either Celebi or Umbreon-EX for it.
Something that interests me is just how most people prefer a different version of Rainbow Road. The typical list floating around runs Exp. Share, Galvantula STS, and Bisharp STS. This version is not optimal whatsoever. Rainbow Road is a phenomenal play in Standard, so don’t ruin it by making it more clunky than it needs to be. Double Thread and Retaliate plays are cute, but honestly you don’t use them often nor do you need them. In all fairness, Exp. Share is not a terrible option. The deck doesn’t need Exp. Share with Max Elixir though.
Fighting Fury Belt is my preferred Tool because it greatly improves your matchups against Greninja and Volcanion. It also helps Xerneas survive Evil Balls from Mew FCO and Yveltal-EX. I explained all of my card choices in my last article, so feel free to check that out if there’s anything you’re curious about. I only run one Lysandre because most of the time you are content with blasting whatever is Active. I mentioned that I would consider cutting Celebi or Umbreon-EX. They have both been incredibly useful at times, but I just wonder if either would be better off being another N.
- Mega Mewtwo … 70-30
- Mirror … 50-50
- Volcanion … 70-30
- Yveltal/Mew … 30-70
- Mega Scizor … 25-75
- Vespiquen … 60-40
- Mega Rayquaza … 75-25
- Greninja … 80-20
Rainbow Road may not be the consistency machine that Night March was, but its matchups are excellent. Mewtwo seems like it should be closer, but testing showed that it is not much of an obstacle. You must play intelligently so as not to be overly affected by Parallel City. In case you need a turn to recover from an effective Parallel City play, Umbreon-EX or Jirachi can buy you that time. Xerneas has an easy time KOing M Mewtwo-EX, which makes for a favorable Prize exchange. You typically gain 2 Prize cards per attack while the Mewtwo player gains only one.
As for the mirror, my list doesn’t have anything that would really help or hinder it. The mirror is still basically even. While Bisharp is an effective attacker for your opponent, I’d argue that it doesn’t swing the matchup and that my list is a tad more consistent without Stage 1 lines.
Yveltal is favorable if they run a lot of Pokémon-EX, but Rainbow Road struggles with the Fright Night-focused version. You have to try and avoid benching your own Pokémon-EX, as Fright Night and Lysandre can cause serious problems. I play only one Lysandre and no Escape Rope, so it can be difficult to retreat out of Lysandre stalls.
Vespiquen is slightly favorable due to your speed. You also have Jirachi to use if needed. Greninja is highly favorable with Fighting Fury Belt. It’s so difficult for Greninja to take just 1 Prize against a 160-HP Xerneas, while Rainbow Force takes knockouts turn after turn. Rainbow Road is also much faster than Greninja. Rayquaza is the only matchup that I haven’t actually played, so the 75-25 ratio is purely conjecture.
The Meta Call: Mega Scizor
Pokémon – 14
Trainers – 36
Energy – 10
This is basically your standard Scizor deck with Weavile instead of Garbodor. Garbodor is clunky and nearly useless. Weavile, on the other hand, actually puts in so much work. I said that Scizor was a Tier 2 deck, yet I still think that it could be the play for Orlando and an all-around solid deck in Standard. Its matchups are so polarizing and its gameplan is rather linear so it does not take a ton of skill to play.
Scizor is a solid, constant, pestering deck that simply hits for 120 over and over while playing disruptive cards. This strategy works against most of the meta. It is a tanky deck, but it is best to play it fairly aggressively. That is why I run four Sycamore and four Mail. That’s really all you need to know about the deck as a whole, so let’s look at some of the cards.
Hoopa is amazing. I don’t know if it is absolutely necessary, but it makes the deck run as smooth as butter. If I start with Cobalion, the first thing I want to do is use Ultra Ball for Hoopa for two Scizor and a Shaymin. Hoopa can also fetch Megas and Magearna if you need them at the time.
Magearna is a neat tech that you can run when you aren’t playing Garbodor. Its Ability blocks things like Stardust, Bubble, and Damage Change. It has some more obscure uses as well that randomly come up while playing which are neat to behold. All effects of attacks are nullified against a Scizor with a Metal Energy. I can’t say that it is absolutely vital to the deck, but Scizor does have some space to work with. Magearna is a worthwhile use of one of those spaces.
1-1 Weavile STS
Weavile is fantastic in this deck. Weavile’s Ability allows you to move your Tools around as you choose. This means you only really need one of each Tool, but I run two of each for accessibility. One Scizor Spirit Link can be shared between two or even three Scizor while the Megas can enjoy the benefit of Assault Vest. Having just one Float Stone in play essentially grants access to infinite Switches. You could try running some other Tools in this deck, but I haven’t found anything else to be groundbreaking.
This deck abuses the fact that there is no viable form of Tool removal. You want to slap down all of your Tools whenever you draw them, and you always have the opportunity to redistribute them as you see fit. Your opponent cannot do anything about it. Let’s be honest, how often are they going to spend their turn Lysandre-KOing Weavile? As long as you are smart about your Tool placements, they should have no incentive to do that. I don’t think that a 2-2 line of Weavile is needed. I’m fine with running the risk of prizing a piece.
Cobalion is just an alternate attacker that is also a non-EX. Revenge Blast is good for taking KOs that Scizor is unable to near the end of the game. If a Weavile piece is prized, you can use Cobalion as a 7th Prize. If your opponent Knocks it Out it doesn’t matter because they still have to get through three Pokémon-EX to win the game. Cobalion’s Quick Guard isn’t a terrible option when you’re in a pinch. Starting with Cobalion is great too.
Scizor is weak when it comes to raw damage, but these disruptive cards make up for that. They also combine with Iron Crusher to create a wall of Energy denial that works so well in this format. Crushing Hammer doesn’t take up the Supporter for turn, while Team Flare Grunt can be accessed consistently with VS Seeker so long as it ended up in the discard at some point.
- Mega Mewtwo … 80-20
- Rainbow Road … 75-25
- Volcanion … 5-95
- Yveltal/Mew … 40-60
- Mirror … 50-50
- Vespiquen … 60-40
- Mega Rayquaza … 75-25
- Greninja … 30-70
Scizor boasts highly favorable matchups against the two most popular decks and that is why I see so much potential in it. The problems start when you get to the third most popular deck. The Volcanion matchup is just a joke. There’s no realistic way to win. Yveltal/Mew can also get a bit tricky. That is a matchup where I concede that Garbodor makes a difference, though Assault Vest helps too. Does Scizor’s wacky matchup trade-off make it worth playing? That’s up to you.
Opposing Scizor decks have Garbodor and possibly Enhanced Hammer, while you have more consistency, Energy disruption, and Cobalion. The Vespiquen matchup is funny because of Klefki. In order to play around Klefki you must be crafty with Lysandre, Float Stone, and baby Scizor’s Gale Thrust. Assault Vest and Shield Energy make life difficult for the Vespiquen player.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 38
4 Bursting Balloon
Energy – 5
Yanmega turned out to be a much better deck than I was expecting it to be. It doesn’t do heavy damage, but it attacks for free. I do run some Energies so you don’t fold to Garbodor, but for the most part you will be attacking for no cost. This niche is incredible and it makes Yanmega a viable deck. It is extremely easy to regulate your hand size to four every turn, so you will always be able to attack with Assault Boom or Barrier Break. Bursting Balloon and Ariados add damage to make Yanmega even more threatening.
The strategy of swarming Yanmega is simple, but the deck is also difficult to play optimally. You must always pay attention so that you end your turn with four cards in your hand in order to attack with Yanmega. Since you don’t need many Energy cards, the deck has a lot of space to devote to consistency. I run lots of draw and search cards so that I hopefully don’t run into consistency issues without Shaymin.
1-1 Ariados AOR
Ariados is important because it allows Yanmega BREAK to 1HKO Shaymin-EX. Assault Boom isn’t effective because Shaymin don’t typically carry Tools. The Barrier Break with Poison deals exactly 110 damage. This makes it so that your opponent can’t Shaymin loop for the win. Additionally, two phases of Poison + Bursting Balloon + Barrier Break is 180 damage, which is a magic number on most Pokémon-EX.
2-2 Octillery BKT
You often hear jokes about how inferior Octillery is to Shaymin, but in this case Octillery is actually better than Shaymin. Octillery provides consistent drawpower which is used throughout the game to regulate your hand to 4 for Yanmega. All you have to do after using Abyssal Hand is play one card and you are good to go. Octillery is crucial later in the game, as it allows you to always draw out of N.
4 Bursting Balloon
Bursting Balloon is an excellent way to boost the deck’s damage output. Yanmega isn’t exactly killing things with one attack, but Bursting Balloon often creates tricky situations for your opponents. As with any deck using Balloons, you want to be clever with how you use them. A perfectly timed Balloon can steal a game in the right situation. As I mentioned earlier, the Balloon + Ariados math is perfect.
Revitalizer is simply the best form of recovery for this deck. It lets you take a 1-1 line of Yanmega straight from the discard to your hand. With Forest in play, it basically just revives Yanmega and puts it in play. You can also recover any BREAKs that you may have had to discard early on.
4 DCE, 1 Grass
I run some Energy cards in order to deal with Garbodor. While the deck can completely function without them, it would lose terribly to Garbodor. With two Energies on Yanmega, it can 1HKO Garbodor with either Assault Boom or Barrier Break. Either that will be the only Garbodor you have to worry about, or another one will come into play to negate your opponent’s 7-Prize advantage.
I wanted to run 5 total Energy cards, and the fifth one I chose was Grass so that I could use Ariados’s Impound. Impound effectively dispatches Garbodor, but it gives you some time to set up other things while you do so. Impound, for a Grass and a Colorless, deals 30 damage and blocks retreating. This can come in handy against many decks that rely on Float Stone for retreating their Bench-sitters.
- Mega Mewtwo … 40-60
- Rainbow Road … 65-35
- Volcanion … 40-60
- Yveltal/Mew … 80-20
- Mega Scizor … 55-45
- Vespiquen … 60-40
- Mega Rayquaza … 20-80
- Greninja … 50-50
While I have played with the list and tweaked it considerably since its inception, I have not tested its matchups as much as I tested with the other decks. That said, I have played a decent amount of games to understand the matchups, but take the exact numbers with a grain of salt. Anyway, Yanmega’s matchups are decent. It has some big unfavorable ones but they are salvageable and can easily go either way. If you want to play something that gives you a lot of potential to outplay your opponent, Yanmega is your deck.
Mewtwo is unfavorable just because of Garbodor. Damage Swap is quite annoying as well. Rainbow Road is favorable because there’s all sorts of Balloon and Ariados math shenanigans that you can do. You can also lock a Pokémon-EX with Impound and take 2 Prizes that way. On top of all that, you trade knockouts more efficiently and consistently than Rainbow Road does. Volcanion is a weird matchup that can go either way. It can really just come down to who draws better sometimes.
Yveltal/Mew is easy because you don’t run any Pokémon-EX for them to pick on, and Yveltal-EX doesn’t exactly do much against a Pokémon that doesn’t use Energy to attack. Scizor is close because of Garbodor, but ultimately they are unable to 1HKO Yanmega, meaning that it takes them too many turns to win. Yanmega would probably beat the Weavile version every time. Vespiquen is too slow. Mega Ray destroys this deck. It has Hex Maniac, speed, and bulkiness. Greninja would be favorable but Shadow Stitching is just so annoying to deal with.
The Box of Tricks: Raichu
Pokémon – 27
Trainers – 29
Energy – 4
I love this deck. Use Circle Circuit religiously until you have enough Pokémon in the discard to start annihilating everything with Bee Revenge. Everything else is for kicks and giggles. The more Pokémon you have, the more effective Raichu and Vespiquen are. There are two main weaknesses of this deck: its reliance on Shaymin and its vulnerability to Parallel City. Karen is not really a problem because I am perfectly content with using Raichu all game.
This deck wins by hitting hard. Like Yanmega, the strategy is simple, but the gameplay is quite in-depth. I’ll go into the Supporter decisions later, but suffice to say you have to think quite a bit about how you’re going to use them. It is important to make a plan of exactly how you are going to take 6 Prizes and to stick to that plan.
Against EX-based decks, Golbat + Circle Circuit for 160 is good for 2 Prizes, and maybe four if you’re lucky. Your other 4 Prizes should come from Lysandre plays. Against non-EX decks, try to trade as consistently as possible while picking off Benched Pokémon-EX when the opportunity presents itself.
4-4 Raichu GEN
Raichu is the main attacker. Circle Circuit is a surprisingly strong attack that costs only a DCE. It does 20 damage for each Pokémon on your Bench. Sky Field is the obvious partner here. With eight Pokémon on your Bench, Circle Circuit does 160 damage! But that’s just short of 1HKOing Pokémon-EX, which is why we have this sneaky guy over here.
2-2 Golbat GEN
Golbat is the perfect partner for Raichu. Sneaky Bite adds that 20 damage that you so desperately need for Circle Circuit to 1HKO Pokémon-EX. And that’s actually the only reason it’s included. Crobat unfortunately wasn’t reprinted in Generations, so it isn’t legal in Standard anymore.
2-2 Vespiquen AOR 10
Vespiquen is used for late-game insurance. It hits incredibly hard at the end of the game, when most of your 27 Pokémon are discarded. It also is a Grass-type, which is handy for smacking random Grass-weak Pokémon such as Greninja BREAK.
These cards are actually quite important in specific matchups. Flareon is used against Scizor while Vaporeon is used against Volcanion. Don’t discount Vaporeon in the Rainbow Road matchup, as you may need it for a Lysandre play on Volcanion-EX.
When I initially made this list, I found myself wanting just a few more Pokémon for Raichu and Vespiquen. Klefki was an easy tech to include. It is just used to slightly improve the matchup against any Mega Pokémon. Similar to Bursting Balloon in other decks, you need to pick and choose the opportune moment to use Klefki’s Ability. Remember that if Garbodor comes into play while Klefki is still on your Bench, it becomes useless.
Mew is a wrecking machine against Mewtwo when Garbodor isn’t online. Mewtwo is one of the more difficult matchups, so Mew is a worthwhile tech. Unfortunately, it is completely useless when Garbodor is in play, so try and get a cheap KO or two before Garbodor comes out.
Traditional lists would probably use something like this regarding Supporters: 4 Sycamore, 2 N, 2 Lysandre, and 4 VS Seeker. However, that directly hits the consistency of the deck. It is clunky enough with all of those Pokémon in there, so I didn’t want to have any dead cards early game. Just because VS Seeker is a staple doesn’t mean it needs to be mindlessly included in every deck. If you don’t have any tech Supporters, then perhaps this way is better. After all, I can still use every Supporter in here with relative consistency thanks to the counts of four and Shaymin-EX’s help.
I run four Lysandre because it is an integral part of the deck. At the end of the day, Raichu can still fall short on a lot of KOs, so you often need to Lysandre a Shaymin-EX and KO it. The synergy between your own Shaymin-EX and Lysandre is awesome. You can effectively use a draw Supporter and Lysandre in the same turn. Most of the Prize cards taken with this deck are accrued via Lysandre plays. Fun Fact: You only need to have three Benched Pokémon to 1HKO Shaymin with Circle Circuit.
- Mega Mewtwo … 50-50
- Rainbow Road … 55-45
- Volcanion … 80-20
- Yveltal/Mew … 65-35
- Mega Scizor … 50-50
- Vespiquen … 50-50
- Mega Rayquaza … 95-5
- Greninja … 50-50
The Mega decks are only 50-50 if they run Garbodor. If they don’t include Garbodor, the matchups improve dramatically. Klefki, Mew-EX, and Flareon are incredibly helpful in their respective matchups so long as Garbodor is not in the picture. They can still be used before Garbodor comes out though. Rainbow Road is slightly favorable because Raichu has a slightly easier time exchanging knockouts. While Raichu and Vespiquen are both Stage 1s, Xerneas takes quite a few Energies to attack and Rainbow Road runs less actual attackers than Raichu does. Vaporeon makes the Volcanion matchup a breeze.
Yveltal/Mew is favorable because of the notable type advantage. Sky Return is a great attack to use in that matchup because it is capable of clearing Pitch-Black Spear damage as well as 2HKOing Mew. Vespiquen is even, as it is almost a mirror match. Mega Ray is virtually impossible to lose against due to its Weakness and lack of counter Stadiums. Greninja is a very close matchup. It can really go either way. Giant Water Shuriken is hugely effective against this deck, but Moonlight Slash cannot 1HKO Raichu or Vespiquen. While this deck possesses a plethora of 50-50 matchups, its lack of unfavorable ones makes it an enticing play.
The Outlaw: Houndoom/Bunnelby
Pokémon – 7
Trainers – 46
Energy – 7
In Alex Hill’s most recent article, he discussed the thought of a Houndoom-EX mill deck in Standard. Houndoom is one of the most linear cards in the format. For a R Energy, its Melting Horn discards the top two cards of your opponent’s deck. For the purpose of this deck, that’s all you need. To be fair though, Houndoom has a second attack that deals 50 damage for two Fires and brings a Fire from your discard to your Bench. This can 1HKO Vespiquen and Mew.
Anyway, the idea is to pair Houndoom with disruptive cards in order to deck your opponent out. There is less room to play around this type of disruptive deck because Houndoom is actively discarding resources as opposed to Wailord’s passive mill. Relentless Melting Horns put your opponent on a timer which usually runs out before they can collect all 6 Prizes. All of the disruptive cards are there because they prevent your opponent from effectively dealing with Houndoom. I wanted as many disruptive cards as possible while retaining what consistency I could.
Alex said that this deck was good for beating Mewtwo, Rayquaza, and Dark, but that it was too risky because of its other matchups. I have a list that somewhat fixes that. The observation that most of the Standard format is too susceptible to Energy denial is spot-on. The decks that aren’t vulnerable can be mostly countered by Silent Lab.
Houndoom is the main attacker, and it is quite bulky with Assault Vest and Max Potion. Melting Horn is what you want to be using every turn when Houndoom is Active. Mill away your opponent’s hopes and dreams. Usually the most important cards to discard are Energies, but of course what you discard all comes down to luck. I run four because you always want to use three of them in a game, and you usually won’t take Prizes. A Houndoom that gets prized will stay prized, so it is too risky to run only three. I also want to maximize my odds of starting with Houndoom.
Please never play down both copies of Bunnelby in a game. It is only used as a 7th-Prize attacker so your opponent gains virtually nothing from Knocking it Out, as they still must KO three Houndoom. I only run two for the same reason I run four Houndoom, in case one is prized.
Shaymin is only a consistency crutch in this deck. It increases your total draw cards by making Ultra Ball a source of drawpower. If you can help it, never play down Shaymin! Only use it if you need to draw cards to get out of a dead hand. It is worth running in the deck, and hopefully you can use Sky Return if you get stuck starting with it.
Handiwork seemed like an unnecessary gimmick at first, but it has proven its worth. Not only does it serve to mill your opponent faster, but it can also get rid of resources the same way Melting Horn can. It is a flippy and luck-based card, but it goes well with the deck. It is great to be able to use Handiwork during stagnant times in the game where you don’t have any other Supporter that you want to use.
These serve to make Houndoom tanky so that it can withstand more attacks and fire off more Melting Horns. Max Potion and Assault Vest are important cards in the deck. Assault Vest makes it so that Houndoom has an easier time withstanding attacks such as Rainbow Force, Psychic Infinity, and Evil Ball. Max Potion combos well with this longevity by healing the damage off and making it take twice as long for opponents to actually Knock Out Houndoom.
Silent Lab dramatically improves your matchups against Volcanion and Rainbow Road (with Carbink). Lab shuts off Steam Up so it takes forever for baby Volcanion to KO Houndoom. It also shuts off Carbink’s Energy Keeper which could easily nullify this deck otherwise. Silent Lab also notably shuts off Fright Night and Set Up.
- Mega Mewtwo … 65-35
- Rainbow Road … 60-40
- Volcanion … 40-60
- Yveltal/Mew … 40-60
- Mega Scizor … 75-25
- Vespiquen … 70-30
- Mega Rayquaza … 65-35
- Greninja … 5-95
Volcanion and Yveltal are still very winnable matchups. How favorable or unfavorable they are varies based on how your opponent plays against Houndoom. If they know how to play the matchup from the get go, you will be facing an uphill battle. However, if they don’t know exactly what to do, the matchups become favorable. Greninja is an auto-loss. The most feasible way to beat it is for them to dead-draw, flip tails on Bubble, and die to two Grand Flames. You really may as well scoop and go get food if they start with Talonflame.
The other five decks in the list can be beaten by simple Energy denial without too much trouble. Hammers, Flare Grunts, and Lysandres can slow them down enough to deck them out with Melting Horn. You still have to be clever while playing, as no matchup is an auto-win for this deck. If an opportunity comes along to take a free 1HKO with Grand Flame while recovering a R Energy, it is usually the correct play. Of course you usually want to just use Melting Horn every single turn.
Right now, these are my most tested and promising ideas for Orlando Regionals as well as Standard in general. I do like this format, though with so much diversity it seems impossible to find a deck with favorable matchups across the board. I briefly tried out a Vileplume toolbox deck in an attempt to do just that, but it was inconsistent and it imploded frequently.
I hope you guys liked this article! These lists may be a bit odd but they certainly work. Good luck to all of you aiming for the 500 CP needed for Worlds! I’m sure this year will be interesting and competitive with tons of surprises along the way. Let me know any thoughts you have on the article, and thanks for reading!
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