Hello SixPrizes readers! I have been playing a lot of Pokémon lately, so I definitely feel like I thoroughly understand the meta. With that being said, I must bear the unfortunate news that I don’t think Shining Legends or Crimson Invasion will have a huge impact on the metagame.
A lot of the cards in the set are so close to being great additions to a few different decks, but fall just short. I have seen Miltank included in Gardevoir, but I don’t think it is a card that is easy to make consistent use of. In terms of new decks, I also think Buzzwole-GX and Zoroark-GX are pretty overhyped. While I think both cards are strong, they just don’t fit well in the meta. Buzzwole-GX is heavily hindered by its Psychic weakness and the availability of Mr. Mime BKT. Zoroark-GX’s Ability is very impressive, and its attack is certainly not bad. However, Gallade BKT runs the deck over with ease. I do think that some other cards have potential to be good down the line, but I think most of them will not be immediately successful.
This means that I will be talking about some of the more established decks today—Gardevoir, Drampa/Garbodor, and Volcanion! Without further ado, let’s kick things off by taking a look at the “optimal” Gardevoir deck list.
You may have noticed that I referred to this Gardevoir list as the “optimal” one, and that is for good reason. Since Gardevoir’s release, Team X-Files has seen great success at Regional Championships using these sixty cards. While normally I would argue that there is always room for innovation and improvement, I feel this combination of sixty cards is correct right now.
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 29
Energy – 12
When I first saw a Gardevoir list with only three of these, I thought it was crazy. Professor Sycamore, for as long as I can remember, has been the main draw power of almost every deck. While that is still the case, the Standard format has introduced Octillery, which can help draw through the deck. Having two Brigette also makes Professor Sycamore significantly less sought after as an early game Supporter. In addition, frequently using Professor Sycamore can result in valuable discards, which can hurt badly at certain points in the game.
Twilight-GX acts as somewhat of an insurance policy for the deck, but it is not always the easiest play to make. It is a very slow maneuver, as it puts you behind a turn in terms of attacking. In addition to this, sometimes a necessary Plea-GX can eliminate the option for a late game Twilight altogether, which makes resources even more precious.
Obviously, using Acerola on a Gardevoir-GX with a couple Energy is a huge tempo swing that can win you the game on its own. It can also be reused with Twilight-GX, which brings an additional heal to the table for games that go long. Having Acerola in the deck also forces an opponent to make plays with it in mind, which is a nice benefit of running a card that is so situationally powerful.
I like this card over the Rescue Stretcher that some people have played. While the Super Rod is a little less “consistent” and does not offer immediate gratification, I still think it is the better option because it can recover Energy. I frequently find myself using Super Rod to simply shuffle in Energy at the end of the game, which Rescue Stretcher can not do.
This card was not super popular at first, but I would currently consider Parallel City a mandatory inclusion. Parallel City can be used to remove damaged Pokémon from your bench in the mid-to-late game, which can be useful. In another fashion, Parallel City can be used to slow down an opponent, limiting their bench. This card has a ton of synergy with Plea-GX, and I think that is something that was overlooked at first. This card also had a very strong effect against the Volcanion decks in Hartford, as they only played one copy of Field Blower (and no counter Stadium).
I personally feel as if Super Rod is currently the superior choice, but I would have to agree that it is up for debate. I also think that the better option probably depends on the rest of the deck list and metagame.
4th Tapu Lele-GX
This would be for additional early game consistency, but I am unsure if it is necessary. I consider it a luxury card, as I feel it would never be worth removing a card from the deck for it.
This would also be for consistency, but I’m going to toss it in the same category as the 4th Tapu Lele-GX. While it is nice in theory, I am just not sure how practical it actually is. Removing a card for it just seems difficult.
Tapu Koko SM31 is picking back up in popularity, and we have some new bench hitters joining the club. Most notably, Buzzwole-GX is a very aggressive card that can be devastating to any Stage 2 deck. I think that Mr. Mime should be in the back of everyone’s mind, as it could end up being a necessary tech heading into London.
This list is almost identical to what Tord Reklev saw some success in Europe with, and is the exact list I chose to use in Vancouver. While I did have some unfortunate games in the mirror, I still think the deck was a great call for the event. Brad Curcio, Azul Griego, and Sam Chen all made it to Day Two using the same sixty cards, which shows the deck was strong. Moving forward, Drampa/Garbodor will continue to be a top contender. Shining Jirachi SHL has potential in the deck, but for now I am sticking with the tried and true Espeon-EX.
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 32
4 Po Town
Energy – 12
1-1 Espeon-GX Line
I really like this for the mirror, especially if the opponent does not have an Espeon-GX of their own. It is something that should only be used in the early game, else it becomes a free two prizes for an opposing Garbodor GRI. Espeon-GX applies a lot of pressure despite not doing much damage. The Confusion is what makes it so powerful, as Confusing the opponent’s only threat can stop them from doing much of anything. Moving forward, I would like to see Espeon-GX remain in the list because it keeps Buzzwole at bay while retaining its previous uses.
4 Po Town
While Tord and some other players had success with only 3, I think 4 is mandatory in this meta. It is an incredible card against Stage 2 decks, and is necessary for beating Golisopod decks. Drampa-GX’s Berserk can KO a Golisopod that took damage from Po Town, which is infinitely better than having to two shot a Pokémon that abuses Acerola. I also think that I want to remove the Rainbow Energy from the deck, which would make Po Town the only Drampa-GX activator left.
Pokemon ParadijsThese cards seemed reasonable before I actually played with the deck, but they were not impressive in testing. At the same time, I didn’t feel comfortable removing them from the deck altogether. I decided removing them was risky because Po Town is not always easily accessible. After playing more with the deck and seeing other people cut Rainbow Energy, I think they should probably be removed. An extra advantage of this: the player with more Special Energy in their deck will be at a slight disadvantage in the mirror.
1-2 Tapu Koko SM31
I do like Tapu Koko in this deck! My main issue: space. Including it means that Espeon-GX likely has to be removed. I think that Tapu Koko blows out Stage 2 decks, as even getting off one or two spreads makes the game easier. Tapu Koko’s free retreat is a nice bonus, as it makes Guzma easier to use in the early game. It’s also extremely strong vs Greninja because it lines up perfectly with Drampa-GX’s Beserk.
I am not sure which one of these is better, but I know they both have ups and downs. I would start by testing Lillie, just because it is easier to use to good effect. However, Tord had success with Hala, and I have seen other people using it as well, which could mean that these players have found Hala to be better. This is another thing I will be trying out.
Shining Jirachi SHL
I finally said a new card might be worth playing! I have not gotten a chance to try this bad boy out, which is why I don’t have it in my list already. I have seen players playing Shining Jirachi over Espeon-EX, playing Jirachi along with Espeon, or choosing to stick with the Espeon. I’ll be testing the various options, but am not sure yet which is best.
This is the updated version of the list that my friends and I played in Hartford. While the changes made were few, I can honestly say I have found the second copy of Field Blower to make an incredible difference. It’s most effective against the newly-popular Drampa-GX/Garbodor. In addition, the second Field Blower has been helpful against Gardevoir-GX. Not only is Parallel City problematic for Volcanion if it persists for a few turns, but removing Choice Bands can also be very clutch too.
Pokémon – 12
Trainers – 33
Energy – 15
This is not something I’m happy about, as I am a huge supporter of playing four of these. I felt as if the 2nd Field Blower really needed to be included, and I ended up cutting the 4th Volcanion STS for it.
I still think this card is a nice inclusion in the deck. With an aggressive start, you can easily pull of a Lillie for the full eight cards. This means that you not only got to draw an extra card, but you did it without using a Professor Sycamore. This gives you more Sycamores to use for the rest of the game.
While this inclusion might seem out of the ordinary, it is currently one of the best techs to have in Volcanion. If other decks had the space, I would include Enhanced Hammer in them too. I have tried them in Golisopod to decent success, but other than that, they are just too hard to fit. Enhanced Hammer is very useful against two of the best decks in the format—Gardevoir and Drampa/Garbodor—and has other situational uses.
4th Baby Volcanion
I have loved having it at the few tournaments I have sleeved up Volcanion for. I think that applying early pressure is one of the most important things to do with the deck, and that is completely reliant on getting baby Volcanion attacking ASAP. It pained me to cut the 4th one for the 2nd Field Blower, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut a Fire Energy, which was my other thought.
With additional testing, I could see that turning out to be the better choice, but I certainly recall the horror stories of whiffing a crucial Fire Energy in Connecticut. While fifteen is definitely a lot of energy, especially with Super Rod in the deck, finding them on the first couple turns is simply essential.
This helps with attacking in the early game, but also provides mobility throughout the mid-to-late game, which can make all the difference. Having to retreat a Volcanion-EX with a Fighting Fury Belt on it is the worst feeling in the world, and adding a Switch would help to prevent that. The additional Switch can also be used in conjunction with Guzma if no Float Stone have made their way to the bench yet.
I have been thinking about this card’s potential in the deck for awhile, but I still haven’t gotten to try it out. I think that it could act as a tempo swing, which would be very good against decks like Gardevoir. However, it also seems like a very situational card because you would need to survive an attack and then have it ready immediately. Another bad thing about the Acerola: it does not have nearly as much synergy with your deck when Ability locked by Garbodor BKP. I do like that Acerola can also act as a switch effect, but I am not sure that makes it worth the spot.
That is all for today everyone! I enjoyed expressing my thoughts on the current state of Standard, and I hope it got everyone in the zone for London. London will be my next big event, and I am hoping to finally Day Two a standard tournament this year. It was very frustrating falling short at both Connecticut and Vancouver, but I know I can start performing better if I keep putting the effort in. I will be back again next month with another article, peace!
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