What’s on the Rise?

Junior/Senior Metagame Analysis for Guardians Standard
Seattle: Regionals Stop 1-of 3!

Hey everyone! I hope you’re just as excited for the last few Regionals of the year. All 3 of the remaining North American Regionals are going to be Standard and featuring the new Guardians Rising set. If you’re going to several of them, it will probably be a welcome change to only have to prepare for one format! Even if you’re only going to one, everyone else is focusing on preparing for the same format and you’ll have plenty of results to look at once Seattle and Wisconsin happen. Plus, it’s the same format as the North American International event, so it’s well worth learning in depth!

For starters, I’ll be going over the Standard results from the most recent PRC–SUM events to look for any trends in the Junior and Senior divisions. As the PRC–GRI Regionals happen, I’ll update this article with those results and updated recommendations for each division. Look for those updates to be announced on the 6P Twitter and Facebook pages!

For now, here’s the current state of the Junior/Senior metagame:


Standard Top 8 Totals (PRC–SUM)

  • 7 M Rayquaza
  • 6 M Gardevoir PRC/Xerneas
  • 5 Decidueye/Vileplume
  • 5 Turbo Darkrai
  • 4 M Mewtwo/Garbodor
  • 3 Volcanion
  • 3 Darkrai/Giratina
  • 1 Water Toolbox
  • 1 Yveltal/Garbodor
  • 1 M Alakazam
  • 1 Vespiquen
  • 1 Lycanroc/Carbink
  • 1 Lapras
  • 1 Lurantis/Vileplume
  • 1 M Gardevoir STS

Juniors Top 8 decklists for all events can be found at this link (the 5 PRC–SUM events were Anaheim, Oceania, Salt Lake City, Latin America, and Roanoke).

There is a very clear set of top decks in the Junior division. However, it’s more interesting to see how the metagame developed over the last 3 months and why those top decks got played when they did.

M Gardevoir/Xerneas has been a favorite of Junior players since Dallas Regionals this year, and I think a lot of them played it early in the PRC–SUM format because it was a “comfort pick”. Even though there were new cards available with the release of Sun and Moon, they were unproven in the metagame. Thus, Junior players stuck with what they knew until they had a better handle on the new cards.

Since Gardevoir was seeing so much play early, M Rayquaza seemed to become the counter deck for a Regional or two. Rayquaza’s speed easily deals with the somewhat lengthy set up phase that Gardevoir needs to go through. It was also a good pick against the Turbo Darkrai decks that have always seen play in Juniors.

Once the format started to develop more in the Masters division and decklists for top decks were more readily available, we saw more and more Juniors pick up Decidueye/Vileplume. I also think that the time gap between when it saw play in Masters and when it saw the same level of play in Juniors would have allowed parents, siblings, and older friends/mentors to learn a deck like Decidueye. They could use this time to train a Junior to play it or at least have the Junior play a ton of practice games on PTCGO before piloting it in a major tournament.

The rest of the decks that have done well in Juniors are either anomalies (Lycanroc, Lapras) or are just consistent, hard hitting decks (Volcanion, Turbo Darkrai). I wouldn’t read too much into these other, other than to say that Juniors typically prefer the aggressive decks over control decks like Lapras or Vileplume builds.


I’m not going anywhere!

I think we’ll see a lot of Juniors stick with Decidueye/Vileplume in the next few weeks. Many of them put in a lot of time to learn the deck at the end of the PRC–SUM format and probably feel comfortable with the deck now. As such, I’d want to give a Junior player a deck with multiple Hex Maniac to stop Decidueye in its tracks.

Sylveon is a great counter to Decidueye as you can search out a Hex Maniac every turn with its attack. In theory, you can grab Hex + VS Seeker on one turn, play the Hex on the next turn, VS Seeker on the same turn to get the Hex back, then grab a VS Seeker with the attack so you can keep the cycle going. Puzzle of Time even helps to extend the chain further! Just be sure to have your Junior player practice with the deck before they bring it to a tournament, there are a lot of decisions to be made every turn.

Otherwise, Garbodor GRI is a great play for any Junior. It’s going to be especially strong in the first few weeks of the new format as players are still learning the best ways to combat it. Any unprepared player will likely play too many Item cards and inadvertently increase the damage of their opponent’s Trashalanche attack. A skilled Junior will be able to use this to their advantage and potentially sweep their opponent with ease.

Conservative use of Item cards is an important thing to have any player practice before they compete in the PRC–GRI format.


Standard Top 8 Totals (PRC–SUM)

  • 8 Decidueye/Vileplume
  • 6 Yveltal/Garbodor
  • 5 M Mewtwo/Garb
  • 4 Turbo Darkrai
  • 3 Volcanion
  • 3 M Rayquaza
  • 2 M Gardevoir PRC/Xerneas
  • 2 Decidueye (No Vileplume)
  • 2 Lapras
  • 1 Lurantis/Vileplume
  • 1 Vileplume Toolbox
  • 1 Rainbow Road
  • 1 Zoroark/Yveltal
  • 1 Xerneas BREAK/Giratina

Seniors Top 8 decklists for all events can be found at this link (the 5 PRC–SUM events were Anaheim, Oceania, Salt Lake City, Latin America, and Roanoke).

Decidueye and Garbodor seem to be the two main threats in the Senior division. Interestingly, the high amounts of Garbodor that saw play probably wasn’t in response to Decidueye’s dominance. Decidueye actually only picked up steam near the end of the PRC–SUM format in Seniors with 4 Top 8+ placements in Roanoke a few weeks ago. Garbotoxin just helps to deal with the format as a whole. I can see why a skilled Senior player would be drawn to a deck like Garbodor that has the tools to deal with a large chunk of the meta.

Similarly to Juniors, we saw a lot of Decidueye in Seniors but not so much at the beginning of the new format. I’d guess that practice with the new deck idea isn’t the problem in this division, but instead they are more apt to follow after the Masters players. This will be important to keep in mind when picking a deck.

Otherwise, there were a ton of other decks played. The underlying theme in Seniors seems to be aggression. Darkrai, Volcanion, Rayquaza and Gardevoir are all about hitting for as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible. They all have different strengths and weaknesses in different metagames which account for the diversity among these picks.

I wouldn’t expect a ton of “lock” or “control” concepts in Seniors as we move forward. Decidueye/Vileplume fits more into the aggression category, and Garbodor builds are really just aggression with the option to stifle a difficult to handle strategy. Vileplume Toolbox and Lapras saw very limited play in the division which doesn’t surprise me. Most Seniors probably just don’t enjoy playing those types of deck.


This time, I’m attacking!

As a natural counter to the aggressive decks that see a lot of play in Seniors, I would recommend Garbodor/Tapu Lele as the top pick to play in the division. For a tournament like Seattle, I don’t think the meta will shift away from the previous iteration enough. Garbodor should be able to capitalize on any decks that try to be too aggressive. Two techs that I would add are Wobbuffet and Espeon-GX. Wobbuffet will give you an even easier time dealing with any Decidueye builds that carry over from the PRC–SUM format. Espeon is a great way to deal with the Garbodor mirror, requiring very few items to be discarded to get it online while you 1HKO or 2HKO Garbodor and Tapu Lele with ease.

Otherwise, I’d definitely want to play a deck that beats Garbodor GRI if I were a Senior. Garbodor-focused decks have dominated the Masters division this past weekend, routinely taking 4-6 Top 8 spots in League Cups and even European Special Events. As we saw above, the Senior division tends to mirror the Masters division, so I’d expect to play a handful of Garbodor variants in Seattle (and at every tournament moving forward).

Update for Madison (6/1/17)


Hey everyone, sorry I couldn’t get to this update earlier. I was waiting for more information that never seemed to materialize and decklists that haven’t been posted yet.

I wasn’t actually in Seattle so I don’t have as much information about the Junior or Senior fields as I would like to. However, I do know that Garbodor GRI decks were similarly popular in the younger divisions as they were in Masters. This shouldn’t be much of a shock as Garbodor basically swept League Cups the weekend before and most of the community seemed to be talking about it.

Past that, I don’t know what else saw a lot of play. I didn’t get the feeling that there was a real effort in any of the 3 divisions to counter Garbodor, which could be useful information moving forward. While I personally wouldn’t want to play Garbodor in Madison this weekend, I know that many players will and will do well with it.

So, what should a Junior or Senior play this weekend? The format is wide open but here are my top picks and lists:

If you’re looking to build a Garbodor list (whether to play or test against), you have a few options. Brad Curcio made Top 4 with a really straightforward Drampa-GX/Garbodor list that I quite like. It would be a great choice for a strong player who just likes beatdown style decks without a lot of flair.

The other option is Sam Chen‘s winning Drampa-GX/Garbodor list. This one has a few more options and is harder to play, but more rewarding.

Pokémon – 16

4 Trubbish BKP

3 Garbodor GRI

1 Garbodor BKP

2 Drampa-GX

1 Tauros-GX

3 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Azelf XY142

Trainers – 33

4 Professor Sycamore

4 N

2 Lysandre

1 Ninja Boy

1 Hex Maniac

1 Pokémon Fan Club


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

3 Float Stone

3 Choice Band

2 Rescue Stretcher

1 Super Rod

1 Field Blower


2 Team Magma’s Secret Base

Energy – 11

7 P

4 Double Colorless

The only real change I would make to this list is to swap out the Azelf for the new Tapu Koko promo. This new addition is basically the same as Azelf but it has free retreat and doesn’t require your opponent’s Pokémon to have damage counters on them already to hit them with the spread attack. It does attack for a DCE where Azelf only needed a Psychic, but the benefits are worth this tradeoff.

The other decks I would recommend trying out are decks that beat Garbodor. Jeffrey Cheng’s 2nd place Vespiquen list is a great option for doing just that. It doesn’t rely on benching EXs or GXs as much as Garbodor does, so you almost always win the Prize trade. You can also choose when you want to play Item cards, waiting to use them until you can attack and begin the prize race when you’re ready to. Sequencing, or, playing your cards in the perfect order, is incredibly important with this deck so I’d recommend that younger players get some good practice in before choosing to pilot Vespiquen.

Israel Sosa got Top 8 with a Water Toolbox deck that could be a fun choice as well. Although he lost to Sam Chen’s Garbodor in Top 8, he must have beaten at least 5 throughout 14 rounds of Swiss. It has a lot of options, similarly to Sam’s Garbodor list, so it could be a good pick for a younger player who likes to have different routes of play for every game.

Lastly, I’ve been playing around with an Alolan Ninetales-GX deck that I quite like, as it absolutely obliterates Garbodor. I got the idea and the base list from Ben Sauk, a very strong player from the Eastern side of the USA who won the Nick Bailey Open 2 (League Cup) in Ohio. With Brooklet Hill and Alolan Vulpix to search out your Pokémon, and enough Energy cards and Supporters to sustain yourself, you don’t usually need to play many (if any) Items to set up. It’s a very straightforward deck and I’ll leave you with my list below!

Pokémon – 13

4 Alolan Vulpix GRI

3 Alolan Ninetales-GX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Manaphy-EX

1 Glaceon-EX

1 Sudowoodo GRI

1 Oranguru SUM

Trainers – 35

4 Professor Sycamore

3 N

2 Lysandre

1 Brigette

1 Professor Kukui


4 VS Seeker

4 Ultra Ball

4 Aqua Patch

3 Choice Band

2 Field Blower

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch

1 Escape Rope


3 Rough Seas

1 Brooklet Hill

Energy – 12

8 W

4 Double Colorless

Update for Mexico (6/6/17)

Welcome to the City of Mexico!

Thankfully, I have far more information about the results from Wisconsin than I did about Seattle (which you can check out the results from at these links: Juniors, Seniors). Thank you to the many parents who helped me to gather these results! Here are the Top 8 decks from each division in Madison:

Madison Juniors Top 8 (PRC–GRI)

  • 2 Drampa/Garbodor
  • 1 M Rayquaza
  • 1 Greninja
  • 1 Lurantis-GX/Tapu Bulu-GX
  • 1 Lycanroc
  • 1 Vikavolt (not currently sure what it was partnered with)
  • 1 Umbreon-GX (not currently sure what it was partnered with)

In Juniors, I’m told that Drampa/Garbodor and Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu decks were heavily played. Drampa has taken two of the Top 8 spots in both Regionals in Juniors thus far, so I definitely would be trying to counter that if I were playing in the division. Leave the Special Energy at home!

Madison Seniors Top 8 (PRC–GRI)

  • 3 Drampa/Garbodor
  • 2 Volcanion
  • 1 Metagross-GX
  • 1 M Rayquaza
  • 1 ???

Unfortunately I don’t have all of the results from Seniors but I think this paints a pretty clear picture of the division. Drampa was similarly popular in Seniors, and Volcanion is starting to see play there. Seniors seem to be gravitating more closely to the Masters metagame where I had been predicting that Volcanion would be big for days leading up to the event, and Metagross also saw play.

The format is still pretty wide open, and it’s hard to give any recommendations on decks. I wouldn’t yet be willing to take the bet that Garbodor might see a dip in play, so I’d still be picking a deck that beats it. There are a ton of different decks that can do that, especially if you look at the Masters Top 8 from Madison. Decks like Metagross-GX, Volcanion, Vespiquen, and Zoroark all got to Top 8 in Masters only because they were able to beat Garbodor. I’m not particularly sure what other decks I would want to beat, but wouldn’t want to take a loss to Garbodor or Volcanion (effectively ruling out Grass/Metagross decks).

The last thing I’ll leave you with is a few new decklists which you might want to try out for Mexico, Origins, or League Cups:

Azul’s Top 8 Volcanion

Pram’s 1st Place Vespiquen (better against Grass and Fire decks than Jeffrey’s)

Either of these decks (or any of the ones I mentioned above) would be great picks for almost any potential metagames, especially while Juniors and Seniors seem to have no reason to play Oricorio or Karen.


Good luck to everyone as you try to earn the last available CP for this year! I’ll be back a few times in the upcoming weeks to keep you updated, so stay tuned for that.


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