Standard’s Standard Bearers

A Look at Blacephalon and Decidueye as Standard Moves Through Lost Thunder

Hello again readers, today I’m going to be bringing you my thoughts on the current standard format. Normally, I would be talking about expanded, but my opinions on it pretty much consist of “Zoroark is pretty darn good.” and “I swear to never play Trevenant again.” With those thoughts in mind, let’s get into the rather well developed standard format.

The “Best” Decks

Standard is made up of 3 different archetypes: Control/Walls, Attach energy and kill stuff, and Stage 2 Decks.

Attach those Energies and win the Game

Of these three categories, the “attach energy and kill stuff” archetype seems to be the most prominent right now. This category contains decks like Buzzwole/Ninetales, Blacephalon, and the odd Rayquaza. What do all of these decks have in common though? Well, they all lose to Zoroark/Decidueye/Ninetales. I have been toying with DeciTales recently, but I don’t really like it much. I recently encountered the attacking Steelix deck that saw success in Harrogate, and I was quite surprised at its strength. Granted I beat it rather soundly because I was playing DeciTales, but it still wowed me. If I had to pick one of these decks to play in my next standard event, it would probably be Blacephalon.

Pokémon (16)

4 Blacephalon-GX

3 Poipole FLI

3 Naganadel LOT

1 Naganadel-GX FLI

2 Marshadow SLG

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Ditto p

Trainer (28)

4 Cynthia

3 Guzma

2 Hala

1 Lillie

1 Sophocles


4 Beast Ring

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball DEX 102

2 Energy Switch


2 Ultra Space

1 Heat Factory p

Energy (16)

15 R

1 Beast p


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Blacephalon-GX LOT 219
* 3 Poipole FLI 55
* 3 Naganadel LOT 108
* 1 Naganadel-GX FLI 134
* 2 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154

##Trainer Cards - 28

* 1 Heat Factory p LOT 178
* 4 Beast Ring FLI 102
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 2 Hala GRI 143
* 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 2 Energy Switch CES 129
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Sophocles SLG 65
* 4 Cynthia UPR 148
* 1 Lillie UPR 151
* 2 Ultra Space FLI 115

##Energy - 16

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 15 R Energy EVO 92

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This list is pretty close to optimal in my opinion, but I am aware that quite a few people don’t like Hala in the deck, which is understandable. The list is basically just the one I played to get 9th in Virginia with Alolan Muk and Naganadel-GX added in as techs for certain matchups. As I said earlier, I feel that Blacephalon is one of the best deck choices in the game currently, and I would feel relatively confident in my ability to win a TCG Challenge or a League Cup with the deck, assuming the meta isn’t insanely diverse. 

Card Choices

3 Poipole FLI/1 Ditto Prism

I had originally shied away from Ditto because I could not find a cut for it, but I have had to bite the bullet and accept the fact that ditto is basically a Poipole that cannot be searched with Ultra Space or Mysterious Treasure. I have also elected to play the FLI Poipole over the LOT one, simply because I prefer the potential to do enough chip damage with poison to where Blacephalon takes one less Energy to take a KO. This is entirely a matter of personal preference, because there is certainly an advantage gained by knowing what each of your Prize cards are. 

1 Alolan Muk

I was finally convinced on playing Muk when I was Let Loosed out of the Game 5 times in a row. Of course this is also a tech for Granbull and even any decks that play Ditto Prism. It also gives us the added bonus of making our opponents dead-draw more often because they are unable to use Tapu Lele-GX. Muk also conveniently turns off Shuckle-GX which can occasionally just run us over if we’re not careful.

1 Naganadel-GX

This is a card that I had completely overlooked when building my list for Virginia, but in retrospect it is a great counter for the Wall decks that popped up in that event. Being able to Stinger-GX yourself down to 3 Prizes has two benefits. The obvious one is that you just took 3 Prizes for one attack. The slightly less obvious benefit is that you just turned on Beast Ring. With most all of your Energy left and the ability to Beast RIng, it is insanely easy to close out the game against Wall decks. 

2 Hala

So, this is a card that my testing partner, Wes Hollenberg, has always loved, and he finally found somewhere that it was actually good. I was astounded by how often I managed to Hala for 7 rather than be forced to draw only 4. In Blacephalon, we generally use our GX attack very early, so the risk of drawing 4 cards with Hala is mitigated greatly. Most people seem to prefer Sophocles or more Lillie over Hala, but I’ve found both of those cards to be quite lackluster.

Potential Inclusions

4th Poipole

I really want someone to find a spot for this card, as I have been unable to justify cutting anything else from the list. 

More Supporters

Blacephalon is incredibly prone to dead-draws, mainly due to the fact that we play 16 Energy cards. If you feel the need to add more consistency, I would add another Lillie or two.

3rd Energy Switch

I originally played 3 and it was incredibly strong. However, the 3rd copy fell to the addition of the tech Pokémon. I haven’t missed it too much, but having the extra out would be incredibly nice. 

The Matchups

Zoroark Variants: Favored

I’ve found these to be relatively favorable and could sit down against one with a fair amount of confidence that I will win. The biggest thing to do here is take the early lead and never lose it. Zoroark generally cannot stream KOs as easily as we can, so taking the lead isn’t incredibly difficult. Once they activate Beast Ring it becomes imperative that we find as many as possible and get enough energy in play to finish the game if we get our hand disrupted. 

BuzzTales: Even

I’ve played way too many games on both sides of this matchup, and for whatever reason whenever I play it in an actual event, I end up winning the game no matter what side I’m playing. This is likely because I always managed to get myself down to 4 Prizes before my opponent. I cannot stress how important it is to be the last player with access to Beast Ring. This is to say, we must go down to 2 Prizes before our opponent does, or we will lose the game in all likelihood. Our best out to this is to use Naganadel with Beast Energy to take the first 2 Prizes with no GX in play.

Gardevoir: Even to Unfavored

This matchup entirely depends on how fast both players get set up. Going first here is a huge part of that, because Gardevoir is very vulnerable to Let Loose early in the game. The Gardevoir themselves generally are not our problem here. Rather it is the Swampert that provide draw and a 1 Prize attacker for them. If possible, target down the Mudkip before they can evolve into the monster that is Swampert. Naganadel-GX can also be very strong here, providing us with an attacker that isn’t weak to water and only uses 1 energy to attack.

DeciTales: Even to Unfavored

I have also played both sides of this matchup much too often. I’ve found that it entirely comes down to a combination of the coin flip and if they can skip the Beast Ring turn. Our main goal here should be to target down the Decidueye-GX, because it severely harms their ability to skip Beast Ring. Taking out the Ninetales-GX is also quite important, but less so than the Decidueye. Basically, just take 6 Prizes as fast as possible, because every extra turn the game goes on decreases your chances of winning exponentially.

Wall Decks: Favored

I basically detailed the game plan here when I talked about Naganadel-GX, so just refer up to that section for this matchup. 

The Stage 2 Decks

This is the group of decks that I believe to have the greatest ability to win in a best of 3 setting. I would include Gardevoir, DeciTales, Sceptile, and any Solgaleo deck that anyone can cook up. Of these decks, I feel that DeciTales has the most potential to just win events, due to its incredibly strong matchup spread. I have recently played this in 2 League Cups and did somewhat well with it, finishing 2nd and 9th. I can honestly say that if I had actually known what I was doing, I probably would have won the first Cup.

Pokémon (22)

3 Zorua SLG

3 Zoroark-GX

3 Rowlet SUM

3 Decidueye-GX

3 Alolan Vulpix GRI

2 Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Alolan Muk SUM

1 Ditto p

1 Yveltal-GX

Trainer (30)

4 Cynthia

3 Guzma

3 Professor Elm’s Lecture

1 Acerola

1 Judge UL 78


4 Ultra Ball DEX 102

3 Rare Candy UL 82

1 Counter Catcher

1 Enhanced Hammer

1 Field Blower

1 Max Potion

1 Rescue Stretcher

1 Switch

1 Timer Ball


2 Choice Band

2 Counter Gain

Energy (8)

4 Double Colorless

4 Rainbow


Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 22

* 3 Zorua SLG 52
* 3 Zoroark-GX SLG 77
* 3 Rowlet SUM 9
* 3 Decidueye-GX SUM 12
* 3 Alolan Vulpix GRI 21
* 2 Alolan Ninetales-GX LOT 132
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
* 1 Alolan Muk SUM 58
* 1 Ditto p LOT 154
* 1 Yveltal-GX FLI 79

##Trainer Cards - 30

* 3 Professor Elm’s Lecture LOT 188
* 1 Acerola BUS 142
* 1 Rescue Stretcher GRI 130
* 1 Switch CES 147
* 4 Ultra Ball DEX 102
* 1 Timer Ball SUM 134
* 1 Counter Catcher CIN 120
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Judge UL 78
* 4 Cynthia UPR 148
* 2 Counter Gain LOT 170
* 2 Choice Band GRI 121
* 3 Rare Candy UL 82
* 1 Max Potion BKP 103
* 1 Enhanced Hammer GRI 162
* 1 Field Blower GRI 163

##Energy - 8

* 4 Rainbow Energy CES 151
* 4 Double Colorless Energy PHF 111

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: ******

This is the list I played at the Cups, the only difference between the two days being I switched from Magcargo to Alolan Muk. That choice was more of a local meta call, but the Muk was actually very strong during the second Cup. The list is essentially the one that Clifton Goh played in Brisbane. I was incredibly inexperienced with the deck and definitely should have played more games with it than I did. Oh well, too late now. If you do decide to pick this deck up, put as much time into testing it as you can. 

 Card Choices


This card literally only pulled its weight in games that I played for fun after the rounds were done. It might be good, but I saw more use out of Sonic Evil than its GX attack, which should tell you all that you need to know. If I had to do it again, I would probably cut this from the list.

1 Alolan Muk

I chose to include Muk over Magcargo because of the local meta, which consisted of around 15 different decks amongst 24 players. That is to say, there was literally no meta. Muk provided more outs to winning against the random decks that I could see than Magcargo did. For instance, I beat an Attacking Steelix because I shut off his draw support. It would have helped against Granbull as well, if I had hit one.

2 Counter Gain

My favorite card in LOT is back. This definitely had an impact on what deck I chose to play at these cups. I chose to play the second one as a form of insurance against prizing the single copy, however, I think I used Trade to discard the extra copy in literally every game I played. The theory behind playing Counter Gain is sound, but I just never needed it, or I was losing to the point of not having a hope to win the game.

Potential Inclusions

Ninetales-GX GRI

I would include this as an alternate attacker against things like Blacephalon. Having a water type attacker that can do snipe damage is quite strong in general, and Ice Path-GX is nothing to sneer at. 

Marshadow SLG

One of my favorite, and least favorite cards in the game right now. I cannot even count how many games I’ve just won on turn 1 with a Let Loose. The only reason I don’t just cut the Judge and add Marshadow is the fact that bench space is a major problem in this deck.

Weavile UPR 

The one thing this deck lacks is a 1 Prize attacker. Weavile is a relatively splashable into most decks now because of Ditto Prism. I would probably cut the Muk or Yveltal-GX for it.

1 Pal Pad 

My greatest grievance with this list was that I could only use Acerola once without using Hollow Hunt-GX as my GX attack. Recycling Acerola and Judge feels too good to pass up, so I definitely want to find space for them.

The Matchups

I’m actually just going to just give a list of good matchups and then go into details on the bad matchups. I’m doing this because the game plan for all of the good matchups is almost always the same thing.

Good Matchups: 

Blacephalon, BuzzTales, Granbull, Attacking Steelix, Lost March, Malamar, and Sceptile are the ones that come to mind as favorable. Basically, just set up 2 Decidueyes, snipe the support Pokémon or take big KOs on attackers. Skip Beast Ring where is matters, and set up Muk when necessary.

Bad Matchups:


This is based upon what I’ve seen other people say, and what I’ve seen from match results. From what I can tell, Gardevoir can just outspeed us and become too much to handle with the extra healing that Solgaleo-GX provides. The best advice I can give here is to target down that Cosmog like your life depends on it. Targeting down the Ralts/Gardevoir then becomes your biggest priority because Gardevoir is the only Pokémon that can 1HKO us.


By no means is this matchup unwinnable. However, Lycanroc provides a major obstacle for us. Their single Lycanroc can take at least 4 Prize cards before we can KO it. That’s without factoring in the fact that they can potentially Enhanced Hammer the Energy that we attach to Decidueye in an attempt to 1HKO it. The best course of action here it to Feather Arrow the Lycanroc-GX twice and use Yveltal-GX to 1HKO it. However, that does not provide an answer of what to do if the second Lycanroc appears. At that point, our out to winning the game would be our single Enhanced Hammer which slows down the Lycanroc by one turn if we’re lucky.

Wall Decks:

I’m not actually certain that these are unfavored, but I think our ability to win depends on if we play Muk, get 3 Decidueye into play, and Judge optimally. Muk handles any nasty Hoopa that show up, and 3 Decidueye force our opponents to heal much more often than the would like.

Wall Decks (the Archetype)

Now I’m going to talk about the Wall/Mill decks that have been popping up recently. I actually think this is the archetype with the most potential to just run through a Cup if the locals are not prepared. These would be the decks such as Steelix/Regi Walls, Magenium/Rhyperior, and Zoroark Control. Of these three, I am most intrigued by the Magenium/Rhyperior deck. Our very own Pablo Meza actually covered this deck on his channel, and I wouldn’t change a thing about the list. So go check that out for an analysis of the deck. I would have talked about it here, but I am 100% clueless about the decks intricacies and matchups.

Final Thoughts

That brings me to an end for today. I hope this has been an informative read and that you all can find success in any Standard events that you might attend before Team Up is released. I feel that this current format has been almost completely solved in that I don’t see any new concepts emerging past what we already have. Anyway, I’ll see you all soon, whether it be through 6P or at an event. As always, feel free to send me a message or approach me at an event with any questions. Until the next one.

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