Hello 6P! I am back with another article for you guys as we are heading into the next series of Regional tournaments: Frankfurt, Memphis and Portland! There’s also (maybe?) a Special Event in Chile, but I don’t have too much information about that. The first 2 are Standard, and just as we saw the metagame evolve from the Australian SPE, to the Brazilian Regional, and then on to Memphis, I expect to see a similar trend in the following weekends.
We went from Australia and their heavy GX decks dominating, to a Brazilian heavy Shrine dominated metagame, and then finally to Philly which had a mix of both, but lots of anti-Shrine cards in the GX decks. Dhelmise CES made an appearance, heavy Devoured Field Play along with Banette GX in Zoroark decks featured in the Top 8 as well. However, Buzzwole/Garbodor still reigned supreme.
I went over what happened at Philly in quite a lot of detail in my previous article here. But the question remains, if we attempted to counter Shrine decks, yet they were still successful, what happens now? I think the answer and my prediction for Frankfurt this upcoming weekend is: take the counters a step further. What does this mean? I think we’re going to see a bump from 2-3 Dhelmise in VikaRay decks. I think we might see copies of Field Blower pop back up in Zoroark, along with perhaps a 3rd Acerola. I think 3-4 Weakness Policy in Zoroark is not a Farfetch’d (ha!) idea at all.
All of these are the next layer of counter measures a deck needs in order to overcome the Shrine decks, and I want to show you guys where I’m at with my current lists for my top 2 picks for Memphis as of today, along with a couple other decks that I have been theorizing that I feel could have an ok chance against the current meta but are not as proven.
What I was playing before Philadelphia was only a few cards from what got Top 8 and won in Australia. However, to my biggest surprise, both lists were missing Steven’s Resolve. I’m really in love with the card as I talked about in my previous article. Other than that, I’ve switched out to playing 3 Dhelmise and 3 Rayquaza-GX, rather than a 2/4 split respectively. Here’s what the list currently looks like:
Pokémon – 15
3 Dhelmise CES
Trainers – 31
Energy – 14
I made that change for a couple of reasons. First, usually 2 Dhelmise is enough to carry you through a game against the Shrine decks. However, if you prize one, it can be tricky to pull it off with just 1. The other reason is, starting Rayquaza-GX or worse, Tapu Lele-GX is really bad against those decks. If you ever find yourself benching two GX Pokémon, that’s usually game over. So a 3rd Dhelmise not only has you covered for the most part on the prizing issue, but also decreases the chances you start a GX and you actually start a Dhelmise.
The first attack is nothing to scoff at and can actually be a very valuable asset to buying you enough turns to setup a Vikavolt, as Buzzwole’s damage output early on is rather low, especially without the 1-of Beast Energy, and thus the heal 30 damage can buy you another turn to set up the Vikavolt and get you going. In my testing, this has allowed me to have a very positive winning record against Shrine decks, when I don’t start a GX Pokémon. If I do however, and am forced to bench another one to complete my set up, then it’s usually game over.
A Shining Lugia could be considered over the third Dhelmise, and might actually be better due to the fact that it takes so much more effort to get a KO on it even on the Sledgehammer turn. However, the constant energy discard is what puts me off the card, though it has already shown success as a Vikavolt deck with 3 of these got Top 16 at Philadelphia.
I really like Zoroark-GX at the moment due to how slow the format is and therefore how powerful the Trade Ability becomes. Miss Professor Sycamore? Well, triple Trade is almost as good. But the whole point of non-GX Buzzwole is to act as a counter to this sort of deck, and thus we need to prey on the fact that it only runs 0-1 Field Blower and utilize 2HKO’s to the best of our ability in order to beat the Shrine decks in their efficiency.
How I’m trying to accomplish that is by playing 3 Devoured Field, 3 Weakness Policy and 3 Acerola. All of these cards facilitate your chances of not only OHKOing Buzzwole, but also preventing it from KOing you. Before Philadelphia I would’ve told you this was too much of a commitment to countering such a deck, but the reality is, Shrine decks ARE the meta now, and thus GX decks require an important response to this if they are to remain competitive.
So this is where my list stands as of today:
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 36
1 Pal Pad
Energy – 8
I love having Trade and Bloodthirsty Eyes because they allow me to get by with not playing a Supporter in some turns, therefore saving resources for the late game. Diancie is a must in order to give Lycanroc the KO on Buzzwole without Professor Kukui. Other than that, we have the cards I mentioned above as a commitment to beating Shrine decks, and the Weakness Policy are also useful against opposing Zoroark/Lycanroc decks, as well as Zoroark/Golisopod if that pops up again for some reason.
The final noteworthy thing about this list is the complete lack of Timer Ball, replaced by the much superior Great Ball. Objectively both cards have their pros and cons, but I’ve sworn myself off of playing Timer Ball ever again, but I guess I can always play PokéBall instead?
Those 2 decks are my super safe picks for Memphis, pending the results of Frankfurt of course. However, I’m sure most of you are here for the spicy lists and so, here I present to you 2 concepts I’ve been toying around with a little bit, as potential ‘what ifs’ for Memphis if I’m feeling bold enough:
Scizor-GX is a card that has caught my eye for a while, and I think the meta is just ripe for it to make an appearance at the top level. Why is that?
First off, the only Fire Pokémon seeing any relevant play in the metagame is Magcargo, and never as an attacking Pokémon. Therefore, it’s essentially not weak to anything at this point. Secondly, the format is currently based around cheap small attacks between Shrine and Zoroark decks, rather than OHKO’s. This is where Scizor-GX will always win, in a punch for punch trade, the 30 damage reduction from Steel Wing means Buzzwole is dealing 0 damage without Diancie, 20 with it, and 50 with Diancie and Beast. Factor in the Metal Frying Pan however, and you’ve got an unkillable GX. Granted I have no way to counter Shrine in the following list, but I haven’t found it to be necessary.
Whilst Buzzwole and Garbodor both struggle to deal any significant damage, Scizor-GX is 2HKOing and perhaps OHKOing if he has enough damage on him, and to top all of that, we have a total of 6 energy that could be possibly used to power up our own Garbodor and follow up on the favorable trades ourselves in the late game. This is what my current prototype list looks like, and with the few games I’ve played so far, it has worked out pretty well:
Pokémon – 17
Trainers – 29
Energy – 14
4 Unit LPM
The deck plays out as a Scizor-GX build, and tries to never miss an energy drop to ensure that you can get a stream of Scizor-GX’s attacking, whilst the Items slowly build up for your opponent and you finish them off with Garbodor.
The list attempts to be super consistent with a total of 11 draw Supporters plus 2 Tapu Lele-GX, but I do have a Magcargo version in mind similar to the Regional winning list, which could also be quite consistent. This is what that version looks like, but this is one is untested so far:
Pokémon – 18
Trainers – 29
Energy – 13
4 Unit LPM
Either versions goal is the same, swing with Scizor-GX early and prevent your opponent from barely damaging you with Steel Wing and Metal Frying Pan. You could definitely play the deck without Garbodor for sure, but I really like the extra layer of options and soft disruption it adds to the deck.
From the testing I’ve done, both Shrine decks and Zoroark decks really struggle against this, because their damage output is so low compared to yours. However, it is no secret that this deck would have a very hard time dealing with decks such as Vikavolt/Rayquaza-GX, Metagross-GX/Solgaleo-GX or Magnezone/Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX which can reach up to some very high numbers and not care too much about your damage reduction.
The Dhelmise is in there to make sure that Steel Wing hits for 90 damage each time (2HKO on things like Rayquaza-GX, Tapu Bulu-GX and Tapu Lele-GX) and also allows Cross Cut-GX to be a OHKO on Zoroark-GX or other 210 HP Pokémon as long as you’re damaged enough. It’s not a perfect counter deck to the meta by any means, but if you hit the right string of matchups, I do think this has a good chance of doing well in the correct metagame.
Coincidentally enough and in the same vein as the Scizor deck, the combination of high HP and damage reduction is present in this deck but in a different manner. With Naganadel-GX you have a huge HP Pokémon that naturally reduces damage thanks to the benched Stakataka and can easily OHKO Buzzwole and Garbodor. You also have a great consistency tool in Ultra Space whilst being a counter to Shrine at the same time, and allows you to set up without much pressure in using Item cards.
All of this gives you a nicely wrapped up package that is just screaming Shrine counter in my opinion, with the added benefit of Stakataka becoming an effective tool to counter the Malamar Shrine spread decks as well. To add to this, you get the possibility to run Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX and Beast Rings for OHKO potential, along with the non-GX Dusk Mane to set up some great numbers vs GX decks as well.
This is the current list I’ve been using to decent success, even against Zoroark-GX!
Pokémon – 14
3 Dusk Mane Necrozma SM124
Trainers – 35
Energy – 11
1 Beast ♢
The biggest issue with this deck is the glaring lack of Pokémon draw support, aka Zoroark-GX, Magcargo, Oranguru or Tapu Lele-GX. That makes it so you end up hitting a brick wall sometimes, but when the deck flows well it’s a beautiful sight to see.
The lack of Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX is noteworthy here because even though it is a good option to run it, I’ve preferred the slow and steady approach with this deck against GX decks. You try leading with non-GX Dusk Mane which is always complicated for Zoroark decks to take out, and you make it even more longevous with the use of Max Potions. After you’ve spread some damage, a powered up Stakataka-GX or Nagandel-GX can definitely finish off the job for you.
In the Shrine matchup, Naganadel takes over from Dusk Mane and as long as you limit your Item cards, Garbodor isn’t that big of a deal. If each of your GX attackers is taking 2 prizes, you’re already trading evenly, but if at any point you take 3 with one of them, that puts you in a fairly solid lead.
And just like the Scizor-GX deck, this deck struggles against anything that can OHKO it, aka Vikavolt, Malamar and Magnezone decks. Perhaps these 2 decks are only suited for a very centralized League Cup, but as mentioned before, the matchups you get at Regionals could mean you either make it big by hitting Shrine and Zoroark decks, or fail as you get OHKOed by Rayquaza’s.
And so, that will conclude my article for the day. I hope you guys enjoyed reading my thoughts on the meta and my picks/considerations for Memphis. It’ll be interesting to see what happens at Frankfurt this weekend, as that will likely impact heavily on Memphis. Until next time!
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