Hello again readers, I’m back with another piece on the Standard format (SUM–TEU this time) and what I will likely be playing for Collinsville this coming weekend. If I remember correctly, the expected meta that I described in my previous article was accurate when looking at the three most represented decks. However, I, along with many others, completely ignored the threat that was Zapdos/Jirachi. I was caught almost completely by surprise, to the point that the first time I realized Zapdos was a threat was Friday morning, after being asked for an Energy Loto by a top player.
SUM–TEU as a Whole
I was rather unsure of my feelings about the new format. On one hand, I was, and still am, very excited to be able to play a format that isn’t the travesty that the previous Standard format was. On the other hand, I don’t know that I like the changes that Team Up brought. It seems to me that games are almost always decided by Turn 2 with very little chance to come back once you fall behind in many matchups. For instance, the Zapdos mirror match is the first matchup that I believe it is actually correct to choose to go second, which allows us to take the first Prize card. Barring any bad draws/misses by the player who took the first Prize, it is literally impossible to lose as soon as the first Prize is taken. I don’t like this interaction, because the match is essentially decided on the first turn of the game.
I initially said that I thought Jirachi wasn’t a great card. I was unequivocally wrong. The Jirachi engine has completely revolutionized how the game is being played, and I’m not quite sure that I like how strong it actually is.
Oceania Internationals Results Analysis
Coming out of OCIC, there are three decks that I’m currently striving to beat for Collinsville: Pikachu & Zekrom (referred to as “PikaRom” throughout the article), Zoroark/Lycanroc, and Zapdos/Jirachi. Of these three, Zoroark/Lycanroc is the one that holds the most relevance when I’m choosing what to play. This is because the other two decks require Jirachi—which has skyrocketed in price and may be unattainable for some—and/or require a lot of luck and skill.
I’m in favor of the Jirachi-based PikaRom list that was brought by a few Europeans and Americans, but the Turbo PikaRom list that Jose used to finish Top 4 definitely has its own merits, mainly the favorable mirror match.
If Collinsville was tomorrow, I’d be picking up Jirachi/PikaRom again, simply because it is the deck I am most comfortable with. Zoroark/Lycanroc is a deck that I’m considering testing in the next few days, due to its strong matchup against PikaRom and Zapdos, along with a mirror match that isn’t a massive joke. However, the most represented deck by far, Ultra Necrozma, is another deck that I am actually heavily considering because it is able to handle almost every matchup aside from Zapdos.
Absol TEU is a card that I missed when going through the set, and that is likely what cost me multiple wins throughout OCIC. Had I been aware of how common Absol would end up being, I would have built my list around it, which is manifested in heavier switch counts. I’m going to be very interested to see how the meta shifts from what we saw in Australia. I personally think, and hope, that Zapdos will fall out of favor soon.
Ultra Necrozma for Collinsville
Despite a lack of high placements in OCIC, I think Ultra Necrozma is one of the decks that has the greatest potential to secure CP this weekend. If I have a good enough list, I think it is very likely that I can win almost any matchup. I think this sort of list ends up being something with 2 Giratina, more Switch, and less gimmicks than what I played in Oceania.
1 Beast p
****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******
##Pokémon - 18
* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 2 Ultra Necrozma-GX FLI 140
* 1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX TEU 53
* 1 Marshadow-GX BUS 137
* 2 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 155
##Trainer Cards - 31
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 2 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 4 Cynthia UPR 119
* 3 Guzma BUS 115
* 1 Acerola BUS 142
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 4 Switch CES 147
* 2 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 2 Beast Ring FLI 102
##Energy - 11
Total Cards - 60
****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72523 ******
2 Giratina LOT: I found that I would be able to take Zapdos down to the last Prize with only one Giratina, which I prized in over half of my games against Zapdos. I figure that if I manage to stream Giratina without being forced to find a Switch, I should be able to win the matchup if I draw somewhat well.
1 Gengar & Mimikyu-GX: I was skeptical of playing a card that essentially loses the Zoroark matchup if I ever started it. Throughout 9 rounds, I was literally never punished for playing it, and it certainly pulled its weight. The theory behind it is to use Marshadow-GX to copy Horror House-GX to skip an opponent’s turn. After that, especially against PikaRom, we can attack with either Poltergeist or Shadow Impact to KO a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX. The power of basically skipping an opponent’s turn is way too powerful to not play.
1 Acerola: Almost all of the Australian players played a copy of Acerola to my knowledge, and in retrospect, I wish I had as well. Acerola could help us get out of that sticky situation where we have a Tapu Lele-GX in play and a Zapdos deck attempts to 2-shot it. It is also another switching card in theory, but that may not be all that relevant.
4 Switch: Absol makes the Jirachi + Escape Board combo essentially useless. Instead of cutting Jirachi, I decided to cut the Escape Boards. This is another step in the right direction to beat Zapdos/Jirachi.
Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX: I played this in Oceania, and I really liked it. However, I don’t think it’s much more valuable than anything else right now. Escape Rope and Lycanroc-GX are much too common currently, and Jirachi also allows players to find Guzma much easier. If Blacephalon-GX or Rayquaza-GX make a comeback, then it may be worth including a copy of Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX.
Tapu Koko SM30: Another card that saw play in many Ultra Necrozma lists that I opted to not play. In theory, Flying Flip allows us to play to the spread aspect of our deck. It also provides a pivot Pokémon, but I would usually rather use Jirachi anyway.
Escape Rope or Escape Board: I haven’t played enough games without Escape Board to know for sure if 4 Switch is enough to close out games. If I find that it isn’t enough, I will be including at least 1 extra switching card in my list.
Wondrous Labyrinth p: In theory, all we need is one turn to retake the lead against Zapdos/Jirachi. It’s certainly possible for us to stick a Wondrous Labyrinth for at least 1 turn if we manage to find it and Marshadow SLG in the same turn.
The Matchup Spread
I think Ultra Necrozma actually has one of the best overall matchup spreads in the current format. This comes from the fact that it can reasonably counter any weird techs and decks that our opponents throw at us.
By the time we had finished testing, we were consistently beating PikaRom with our list. However, this was an older PikaRom list that I would argue is less good. The Zapdos-spam PikaRom lists prove to be much more challenging, which is likely relevant going into Collinsville. If our opponent starts Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, then the matchup becomes incredibly favored due to the Horror House-GX into another attack with Marshadow-GX. Once we take that big of a Prize lead, it becomes very difficult for our opponent to come back, and we can close out the game using Giratina and Ultra Necrozma. The best advice I can give here is to avoid benching Tapu Lele-GX and to be careful with your Malamar. If you allow your opponent to Full Blitz with only 1–2 Inkay in play, there is a very high risk of a Tag Bolt-GX crippling us.
Our number one goal in this matchup is to remove any out to Alolan Muk from our opponent’s field (e.g., Ditto p or Alolan Grimer). Alolan Muk slows us down quite a bit by turning off Marshadow-GX and Jirachi. Once that threat is dealt with, we need to close out the game without giving up too many Prizes. Beast Ring is essential to this game plan, because their strategy is likely the targeting down of our Malamar. Another advantage we have here is the inability of Zoroark/Lycanroc to 1-shot an Ultra Necrozma aside from a GX attack. Because of this, we can be reasonably certain that if we use Ultra Necrozma to attack, it’s almost always going to be switched out with Guzma or KO’d with a GX attack. That almost gives us a sense of security in a sense. We’re usually trading Prize cards very well due to our opponent’s lack of damage output, which allows us to close out games faster than our opponent. This is a matchup where it’s vital for us to find as many Inkay as possible on Turn 1, otherwise we can be overwhelmed due to a lack of Energy acceleration.
Psychic Malamar: Favored
Our opponent may have more different attackers than us, but that does mean they’re going to beat us. This is a matchup where Sky-Scorching Light-GX allows us to take multiple Prize cards in one turn. Basically, we need to stack damage counters placed by Distortion Door on opposing Malamar and Jirachi to the point that we can win the game or cripple our opponent with a single attack. The matchup gets even better if we win the coin flip, or our opponent starts a Pokémon-GX that is weak to Psychic.
The rising star coming out of OCIC is most certainly a major threat to us. I would suggest playing our own copy of Absol TEU, but the lists we would be playing against almost always have access to a Switch or a Guzma anyway. Simply put, Absol is useless in Malamar. Don’t play it. Anyway, our goal in this matchup is to set up a Sky-Scorching Light-GX to take our last 2 Prize cards. We lead with Giratina in this matchup, and force them to either KO it or Guzma around it. This is the matchup where I think the second copy of Giratina and the Acerola come into play. Acerola is the opportunity we need to swing the Prize trade back into our favor, and the second Giratina gives another out to a single-Prize attacker.
I think that covers most of the matchups that will be seen in Collinsville, and that genuinely surprises me. Looking back at the 18 rounds of Pokémon I played in OCIC I hit 7 PikaRom, 4 Zapdos/Jirachi, 3 Zoroark/Lycanroc, 3 Ultra Malamar, and 1 Vikavolt/Rayquaza. I didn’t realize how bad the lack of diversity in the meta actually was until now. To me at least, people all flocked toward the shiny new deck or back to their precious Malamar (I still hate Malamar with a passion). Granted, I can understand why so many players decided to play Ultra Necrozma. On paper, it has such a great matchup spread that it seems stupid to not play it. However, with Zapdos being such a great threat, it’s very possible that people avoid playing Malamar for now.
I can’t say all that much about Zoroark due to the fact that I’ve literally never pulled the trigger on playing Standard Zoroark in a major event. From what I can tell, Stéphane Ivanoff pretty much nailed a perfect list for the deck. (See Stéphane’s 2nd place list.) The only thing that I believe needs to be changed about his list would be the inclusion of an Alolan Grimer. I also want to mention the possibility of playing a Lycanroc-GX TEU in the deck as well. Henry Brand blew my mind with it multiple times, and during the League Cup, I would have lost games if my opponent had opted to play it.
Again, I think that the creators of this list have pretty much nailed it. (See Rahul Reddy’s 12th place list.) The only inclusion I would want to make to the list that saw so much success would be a Rescue Stretcher. This would allow us to play the Zapdos strategy almost exclusively, and allow us to recover from a nasty Ultra Ball. I have yet to test this against Stéphane’s list, but I would imagine that to be a little difficult for us to win. If this is true, there might be merit to adding Weakness Policy into the deck despite the potential Field Blower.
With Collinsville right around the corner and the 3rd Quarter just starting up, I expect to be quite busy in the coming weeks. If you’re going to Collinsville, I strongly urge you to play some games with each list here and to become familiar with them. I expect people to play ~58/60 cards from Stephane’s list, so knowing how the deck plays is incredibly beneficial to you, even if you choose to play something else. The PikaRom list is what I believe will become the new standard for the Archetype, which makes testing it just as beneficial as Zoroark. Finally, Ultra Necrozma is the middle ground here. It can beat everything, but it does not take any extremely favored or unfavored matchups against anything. Simply put, it is the safe play.
Going forward I fully expect some new and interesting deck to emerge, but I do not yet know what it is. Jolteon-GX is currently looking like the card that might cause some trouble in Collinsville, but I might be incorrect about that. Then again, that could just be the fact that I refuse to buy them speaking. Moral of the story? Be ready for some truly janky decks to appear this weekend. And as always, be prepared for a control deck to appear. If we look at the past, a wall/control deck emerged directly after LAIC, and it seems likely that it could happen again. Hoopa SLG seems to be a card that could have a major impact on the format, and I am genuinely surprised that nobody tried to make a Hoopa/Zoroark-GX/Black Market p deck work.
Anyway, I’m going to stop this here. PikaRom is pretty darn good, Ultra Necrozma is safe, and Zoroark/Lycanroc beats a lot of stuff. I’ll see some of you in Collinsville this weekend. As always, feel free to PM me or walk up to me at events with any questions you might have. I’m always happy to answer things that I know. Until the next one.
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