Hello everyone, it’s the other Schemanske today, writing to you for the first time ever! I’m going to attempt to explain the meta that was Melbourne, what led me to play Metagross for the first major event of this exciting new format, and Metagross’ matchup spread. I put quite a bit of time this week into testing Metagross, as well as some rather obscure concepts which ranged from a Guzzlord/Zoroark deck to an awkward form of Hoopa SLG. During this testing it became quite clear that Stage 2 decks are incredibly strong due to a large amount of item cards that help Stage 2s quite easy to set up fairly early into the game. Initially, my goal when testing for this new and unknown format was to find an archetype that could deal with the high HP Stage 2s, but still keep up with the faster decks such as Rayquaza and Zoroark.
Attempting to Break a New Metagame
Generally, when I test for new formats, I will always attempt to find a way to beat nearly everything that I expect to see at an event. This is what led me to try some rather odd concepts, but due to a lack of time because of lost baggage, I was unable to make much headway into breaking the meta. I wanted to play some new concept that could win me Melbourne’s Special Event, but I either did not have the physical cards with me, or the deck would contain some glaring flaw that turned me away from it. A combination of these factors is what led me to build a few different Metagross variants and test them against the metagame that I expected. This testing led me to a Metagross/Solgaleo deck that in theory had a positive match up against my expected (I was very wrong) metagame, which included a large amount of Metagross, Zoroark, and Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu, with the occasional Rayquaza and Gardevoir thrown in.
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 33
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 10
Metagross was one of the decks that lost very little from rotation, but what it did lose completely changed the Supporter and Item choices in the deck. In the past, Brigette was easily the best option for setting up early game, so with the loss of Brigette, lists were forced to play the Nest Ball/Lillie engine. The ability to easily get a Metagross-GX out on turn 2 is what made the deck so alluring to me, due to the fact that once you have one, you can Algorithm GX to set up 2-3 more Stage 2s. In the past, N was able to disrupt the Algorithm fairly easily. Now, however, Judge and Marshadow are the only options to negate my Algorithm GX.
2-1-2 Solgaleo GX
I opted to play a heavy Solgaleo line due to the fact that I assumed the Metagame in Melbourne would be full of Metagross-GX and Zoroark-GX, both of which are entirely/nearly impossible for Metagross-GX to one shot. Solgaleo also has an incredibly versatile and essential Ability in the form of a switch, something this format current lacks much access to.
1 Dusk Mane Necrozma
I was initially very skeptical of playing a Pokémon with a Retreat Cost greater than 1 because my goal was generally to Algorithm GX on turn 2. In practice though, Dusk Mane Necrozma proved to be a card that won me multiple matches during the event because of its ability to take knockouts on Zoroark-GX and Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX that had already taken a hit from Metagross. This card also provided a counter to Hoopa SLG.
Due to the lack of Brigette, Nest Ball became the best option to search out Beldum and Cosmog early in the game. I opted to play the 4th Nest Ball over something such as the 4th Order Pad simply because the Nest Ball does not rely on a coin flip.
On the topic of Order Pad, this is a card that has found its way into a number of decks recently. Order Pad offers the ability to find the second piece of the Rare Candy/Metagross play, but with the risk of flipping tails and gaining nothing. Volkner is basically just an Order Pad that is searchable with Tapu Lele-GX and cannot fail to find an Item.
Most decks are currently playing at least 3 Choice Band, but my Metagross list only played 1. This is because Field Blower has become all but obsolete in everything other than Garbodor variants, so there is little risk of it being discarded. The other reason for playing 1 is that Solgaleo-GX hits for 230 already, so the only match up where it helps all that much is in the mirror match.
1 Heatran UPR or 1 Registeel CES
I only mention these two cards as options to counter Hoopa SLG, because after my experience in Melbourne, I believe that Hoopa has a place in the current metagame. Both have the ability to knockout a Hoopa every turn for a cost of 3 energy.
1 Lightning Energy
“But Alex, why would I want to play an Energy that can’t be recycled by Geotech System?” Well, after playing far too many games with Metagross, I can confidently say that the amount of times I had a Volkner for the Rare Candy to a second Metagross, but did not have an Energy in hand to be able to attack, easily outnumber the number of times having the Lightning over a Psychic energy would have hurt me. In short being able to search an Energy card is very powerful.
2-3 Mt. Coronet
During one of my matches in Melbourne one of my opponents played down a Mt. Coronet and I think it benefited me far more than him during our game. It allowed me to have only 2 Metagross-GX in play and still be able to Guzma for a knockout rather than play a draw supporter to find a third energy. Mt. Coronet also provides a counter to Shrine of Punishment and other Stadiums that may see play.
I mention this as a way to play less items when faced with a match up that involves Garbodor. Trashalanche can be game ending if you have to play down 12 or more Items during the course of the game. The second Metang would allow you to hold another item in the form of the Rare Candy you didn’t play on that Beldum
In theory, once you have set up 2-3 Metagross-GX and a Solgaleo GX, there is very little that can even stand against the deck. Metagross/Solgaleo has a decent spread of good matchups, including most Zoroark variants, Malamar, Zygarde-GX, Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu-GX, Gardevoir-GX, and other Metagross decks. There are a few matchups, such as Hoopa and Zoroark/Garbodor, that I feel come down to whoever goes first, sets up first, or are simply 50/50. There are also a couple matchups, such as Vikavolt/Rayquaza, Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, and Ho-Oh/Kiawe, that are likely unfavored, but are still very winnable.
This is a matchup where knowing how to manage bench space is a vital aspect of the game. Solgaleo-GX is key in this matchup, but if your opponent manages to remove all of your Cosmog from play, Dusk Mane Necrozma becomes your out to winning the game. If possible, I bait Lycanroc’s Dangerous Rouge GX by putting down a Tapu Lele as my third benched Pokémon, essentially giving up 2 Prize cards for the freedom of benching 5 Pokémon. In an optimal game Metagross’ board state would be three Metagross-GX and a Solgaleo GX, but this doesn’t happen very often for obvious reasons. I find that once my opponent has used their GX attack, the game is decided. If they manage to knockout all but 1 Metagross-GX, they likely win the game, but if I am left with 2 or more Metagross-GX, I will most likely win.
I feel that this is quite possibly my strongest matchup because they have no way to one shot any of my attackers. Once again Solgaleo is an important part of winning the game because it can take a knockout every time it attacks, and not be threatened in return. The only reason I don’t give this matchup (or any other) higher than a 70-30 is because of Metagross’ inherent inconsistency.
Psychic/Malamar 70-30, Ultra Necrozma/Malamar 55-45
The Psychic based Malamar matchup is hardly worth mentioning, as they have almost no way to handle a Metagross-GX that spams Max Potion. On occasion they may manage to hit for 260 with a Necrozma-GX, but it’s fairly easy to come back from that. The Ultra Necrozma/Malamar matchup is one that comes down to how well they draw. If they draw well the best option is likely leading Dusk Mane Necrozma to soften up any Ultra Necrozma that hits the field. The best way to handle this matchup is to play Judge on the turn/turns that they will have access to Beast Ring on. Failing this, hope that they don’t manage to knockout back-to-back Metagross-GX.
My opinion on this matchup is based more upon conjecture than practice because I have only played this matchup once. I found that as long as I didn’t dead-draw, I had no problem winning by targeting down my opponent’s Rockruff and Lycanroc. Once again, Solgaleo is an important part of this matchup because of Zygarde’s high HP. I found that once my opponent used his GX attack, I was never threatened again and was put in a nearly unloseable position.
Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu 65-35
This is another matchup that Metagross is extremely favored in, but can still lose to drawing dead. The game plan is pretty linear: One shot Tapu Bulu with a Metagross with a Choice Band, and if for some reason they play Aether Conservation Paradise, Solgaleo becomes your best attacker again. Algorithm GX is a very good way to set up in this matchup because they likely don’t play a Marshadow SLG, and may opt to set up a Vikavolt with Volkner rather than Judge.
In theory Metagross should never lose this match up right? Wrong. It turns out that Sylveon-GX is pretty good, and my list doesn’t play a fast way to knock it out. Plea GX is also an attack to be wary of, because it can basically set you back to square one if you’re not careful. In this match up I favor finding 4 Beldum as fast as possible, leading with Dusk Mane Necrozma to knockout the Sylveon. This is a matchup where the Stage 1s, Cosmoem and Metang are very good, because they prevent Plea GX from completely ending your game. The best way to win the matchup is to take the first GX knockout, and leading Solgaleo-GX if they have enough turns to set up multiple 6 energy Gardevoir-GX.
Metagross (No Solgaleo) 60-40
It’s a mirror match. Set up first and you win, set up second or less effectively, and you’re fighting an uphill battle. When using Algorithm GX, grab a Judge so you can disrupt their Algorithm GX. Solgaleo is very good, but remember that you still need your Choice Band to take 1-shots.
Hoopa SLG 50-50 and Hoopa Weavile 40-60
If you’re unlucky enough to get paired against a Hoopa deck, you’re in for a long, grindy game. The best way to deal with this matchup is to set up 3 Metagross-GX, a Metang, and a Dusk Mane Necrozma. There are two ways to go about this match up: Either you hit for 100 with Dusk Mane Necrozma a lot while spamming Max Potion, or you allow them to go down to 1 Prize card while you Guzma any non-Hoopa Pokémon they happen to bench. After they get to 1 Prize, you can theoretically sweep the rest of the game with Dusk Mane Necrozma, hitting for 200 every turn. If the Hoopa deck plays Weavile, you’re likely in for a much harder time, but you can handle if by using Guzma on the Weavile or Sneasel whenever they’re benched.
I found out that when both decks draw decently well and both players are of the same skill level, the game literally comes down to whoever goes first. Yes, in theory the Metagross player can mitigate their Item usage and prevent Garbodor from using Trashalanche for major damage. This matchup also comes down to if you can get Solgaleo-GX out along with multiple Metagross-GX and maintain a somewhat steady stream of Max Potions—and you have to do all of that without using 12 or more Item cards. The best method of winning this matchup is targeting down the Garbodor and Trubbish before they become major threats.
This is a matchup where, unless you set up and take a knockout by around turn 3, you’re going to lose. They are simply too fast for a slower deck like Metagross to keep up with unless we draw very well. The game plan for this match up is a turn 2 Algorithm GX that doesn’t get disrupted, into 2-3 more Metagross-GX, at which point you can simply trade back and forth if they even manage to knockout a Metagross-GX. Another option, if they Tempest GX on their first turn, is to Judge and hope they don’t draw anything.
Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX 30-70
This matchup is highly unfavored because their deck requires only 1 Stage 2 to function whereas we require at least 2 to do much of anything. Another problem is that we are unable to hit for more than 180 with Metagross-GX, and Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX has 190 HP. The best way to win the game is wait for them to Meteor Tempest once so they cannot use their GX attack, and Guzma the Magnezone for a knockout. If they get another one out, do it again, and once you’ve accomplished this, use Solgaleo-GX to take knockouts on their GXs.
An Overview of Melbourne and the New Metagame
I obviously had the unique chance to experience the first Tier 2 event of the new format firsthand, and in truth the metagame that I witnessed left me quite shocked. I had not even considered that Magnezone would be such a strong contender, or that I would see so much Weavile/Hoopa. I managed to play against 6 unique decks out of 7 rounds, and for the most part they went as would be expected.
R1 Zygarde/Lycanroc (2-1)
R2 Rayquaza/Vikavolt (2-1)
R3 Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu (1-2)
R4 Hoopa Weavile (1-2)
R5 Zoroark/Garbodor (2-0)
R6 Dusk Mane Necrozma/Magnezone (2-1)
R7 Zoroark/Garbodor ID
Final: 4-2-1, Top 32.
“But Alex, you said Vikavolt/Tapu Bulu was a good match up, and that Dusk Mane/Magnezone was really bad for you.” Yup—I did say that, but that brings us to what I believe is the greatest flaw with Metagross as a deck: It’s inconsistent. 6 out of the 8 individual games I lost were due to me never really playing the game. I drew passed into a loss 4 times, and prized 3 Beldum twice. This is the greatest flaw with any of these Stage 2 based decks, they all risk never setting up for the chance to just steamroll the games that the do set up.
My Thoughts on the Metagame Going Forward
I don’t actually know how much the results in Melbourne will affect the metagame going forward, simply because there were so many different decks played to the event. Although this may be true, it appears that Vikavolt/Rayquaza and Zoroark/Lycanroc have come out on top this time. It appeared to me that the players were overly prepared for things such as Metagross, which would account for why there wasn’t all that much played (to the best of my knowledge) and why it didn’t do all that well.
However, going forward I believe that Metagross is in a strong position, likely due to the fact that it hasn’t seen the results that many expected. This fact provides Metagross-GX the opportunity to do well in what may become an underprepared metagame, because it will no longer be the most hyped deck. With another event so close already, I believe that the metagame will still be somewhat unknown, but here’s what I believe it will be: Rayquaza/Vikavolt; Zoroark with Garbodor, Lycanroc, or Golisopod; a lesser amount of Magnezone, Metagross and Malamar; and a low amount of decks such as Ho-oh GX, Hoopa SLG, and Zygarde-GX.
That’s all from me today; thanks for taking the time to give this a read, and I wish you all the best in Pennsylvania. I’ll see some of you there, so feel free to stop and ask me any questions you may have, and I’ll do my best to answer. I’ll see you all next time.
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