The Meta Map — Making Sense of the New Standard Format

Hello everyone! This is Grant Manley here again, this time with an article pertaining to the future rather than the past. I haven’t gotten to test much of the new Standard format yet, so I won’t have any crazy exciting lists for new decks. Instead, I will look over each deck that is affected by Guardians Rising and give a general analysis on its strengths and weaknesses. The previous format was dominated by Decidueye-GX, Volcanion-EX, and Darkrai-EX along with some M Rayquaza-EX and M Mewtwo-EX. With the release of Guardians Rising, it seems that the format is now wide open. Most of the top decks have been severely nerfed in some way.

Decidueye is weakened because Sylveon-GX beats it pretty badly and Volcanion-EX (a shaky matchup for Decidueye) is stronger now with Turtonator-GX. Additionally, Drampa-GX and Garbodor are not fun for it to deal with. Turbo Dark is weakened by Field Blower, which removes Fighting Fury Belt and Exp. Share. Mega Ray gets wrecked by Sudowoodo and Mewtwo will be destroyed by Garbodor. There are lots of decks worth looking at now. First, I will go over the previously established decks and talk about their chances in this brave new world. Then I’ll look at some new interesting ideas and discuss just how good I think they will be.

Decidueye / Vileplume

DeciPlume has been the dominating factor in Standard for quite some time. I have always disliked this deck tremendously, and I am hopeful that Guardians Rising has enough Grass-hate to dethrone it. This deck still works, as Decidueye-GX is just an insanely strong card. It has a ton of HP and three incredible attributes. Decidueye decks have found ways to deal with Volcanion in the past, so I doubt that Fire will be a major deterrent by itself. I’m sure that Decidueye players will not like dealing with the new and improved versions of Volcanion, but that doesn’t mean that Grass will die.

The introduction of Sylveon-GX is also quite unwelcome for Decidueye. I imagine that some Sylveon decks will function a lot like Quad Lapras-GX, and not being weak to Grass makes the matchup quite lopsided in Sylveon’s favor. Decidueye can take the loss here, and just hope to get lucky by going first and getting a triple Feather Arrow donk. You could also try out Espeon-EX, but I doubt this inclusion would turn the matchup enough to warrant a spot.

Perhaps the most interesting matchup for Decidueye is Garbodor. I don’t think Decidueye needs to play down too many Items to set up, and being an Item-lock deck, doesn’t include copious amounts of Items anyway. With five Items discarded, Garbodor deals 100 damage, which is only a 3HKO. This trade is in Decidueye’s favor, as two Feather Arrows plus Razor Leaf is a OHKO on Garbodor. The most interesting element of this matchup is against those who choose to run Drampa-GX with Garbodor. Drampa discards a Special Energy with its first attack, despite only doing 20 damage. The Decidueye player is forced to run the version with Basic Grass Energy to have any hope whatsoever against Drampa. Drampa can also use Big Wheel GX to draw plenty of cards while Item-locked. I think the basic Grass version of Decidueye can go at least 50-50 against Drampa / Garbodor, but this is something I’ll definitely have to test.

One version of Decidueye / Vileplume is including Alolan Ninetales-GX. This is just bad and I don’t know why it is a thing. It may do well at a few events here and there but I think the old version is superior. If you want to snipe, use Meowth. Sure, it has less HP than Ninetales, but its advantages outweigh that. Meowth only takes up one or two spots in a deck as opposed to four. It only gives up one Prize card, and it is a Basic. DeciPlume is clunky enough as is, it doesn’t need more evolution lines.

One thing worth mentioning is the new Sableye. For a Dark Energy (or a Rainbow Energy), Sableye prevents your opponent playing Supporters for the next turn. This effect is interesting combined with Vileplume. It can stall for a couple extra turns of Feather Arrow damage. I do not know if this card is worth playing though, and I don’t expect it to be very popular. It is too easy for the opponent to KO it.

Strengths

  • Turn one Vileplume is still ridiculous
  • Decidueye-GX is a powerful card and difficult to deal with
  • It has less of a target on its back than it did previously
  • Always has a very real chance of stealing wins against so-called “bad matchups”

Weaknesses

  • Sylveon-GX destroys it
  • Volcanion-EX is probably going to be popular, and it is even stronger now with Turtonator-GX
  • Drampa-GX is annoying
  • The deck is still very clunky and consistently needs various pieces to fall into place

Verdict

DeciPlume is not dead. It is still a decent deck. It won’t be nearly as popular as it was, so I don’t think it is something that you need to go out of your way to prepare for. Is it the play for Seattle? No. Don’t play this deck for Seattle. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one or two in day two of Seattle, though. It is definitely weaker with the new set, but I just don’t see it dying. Not yet.

Volcanion

Volcanion clearly has the most to gain from the new set. Remember when I was listing how all of the meta decks got wrecked by Guardians Rising? Volcanion was the one that I didn’t mention, and for good reason. The new set doesn’t do much to hurt Volcanion. The major problem for it is Aqua Patch, and Aqua Patch decks don’t seem like the strongest options out there right now. Thanks to Steam Up, Volcanion can still trade Prizes with Water decks. Fire versus Water is less of a type-advantage game and more of a behemoth slug-fest until one of them misses a beat and loses all of the momentum. So you see, Volcanion doesn’t lose much.

Volcanion does have a lot to gain though. I’ve mentioned Turtonator-GX in particular. Turtonator gives Volcanion a ridiculous GX attack that accelerates a ton of Energy to your powerful attackers and challenges your opponents to deal with your board. Its first attack, Shell Trap, gives Volcanion decks a potential answer to Jolteon-EX and Araquanid. And of course, Turtonator can just blow everything up with a Steam Up-assisted Bright Flame attack. Volcanion can also make great use of Field Blower. Field Blower helps Volcanion against Garbodor in particular. It also removes Choice Band to make it harder for opposing Pokemon to OHKO Volcanion-EX or Turtonator-GX. Another tech that Volcanion players might include would be Sudowoodo. Sudowoodo effectively fixes the previously unfavorable M Rayquaza-EX matchup, so it is worth consideration.

I expect all Volcanion decks to include at least one Turtonator and one Field Blower. Some might play two of either. Volcanion will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming format.

Strengths

  • The deck is powerful, being able to easily OHKO any Pokemon
  • Arguably the most consistent deck in the format
  • Incredibly fast thanks to Max Elixir
  • Becomes even better with Turtonator-GX and Field Blower
  • Manageable matchups against just about everything because of Sudowoodo beating Rayquaza and less M Mewtwo-EX decks around

Weaknesses

  • Aqua Patch might make Water a threat
  • Still weak to Ability-lock even with Field Blower being a soft counter to Silent Lab and Garbodor
  • Has a tough time dealing with Greninja, which might become popular again

Verdict

Volcanion is going to remain a Tier 1 deck. It is incredibly strong right now. I will make a bold prediction and say that at least five will make day two in Seattle. Should you play it? Honestly, probably. It’s a good play. Take the loss to Greninja, accept the weird matchup to Aqua Patch, and just try and beat everything else. Volcanion can handle Garbodor, Sylveon-GX, and most of the other new stuff fairly well. Tech a Sudowoodo if you want to beat Rayquaza.

Turbo Dark

Poor Turbo Dark. Volcanion was already an iffy matchup, and that deck just got insane. Additionally, almost every deck will run Field Blower, which just about destroys Turbo Dark. Exp. Share was crucial to this deck’s success, and Field Blower can easily remove it for good. Turbo Dark traditionally plays tons of Items in order to get going, and Garbodor will punish it for doing so. If the Turbo Dark player tries to play slowly and conservatively, the Garbodor player can overrun them with Drampa-GX (which will likely be packing Choice Band).

Unfortunately for Turbo Dark, it just doesn’t have much to gain until the new Darkrai-GX comes out. And even that may not be enough to breathe life into this dying archetype. Turbo Dark has issues with the new meta, especially with Field Blower and Choice Band running rampant. Is the deck dead? I think so, but I could be proven wrong.

Strengths

  • Fast
  • Consistent
  • Can beat Greninja… maybe

Weaknesses

Verdict

Some people might still play this deck because of how strong it was in the previous format. I advise you to not play it. There won’t be too many in Seattle, and I predict one at most will make day two. Turbo Dark is incredibly weak right now, and it has no real good matchups.

Mega Rayquaza

Mega Ray seems to be going under the radar at the moment, and I imagine it is just the fear of Sudowoodo that might stop players from going with Ray. Aside from Sudowoodo, Rayquaza is incredibly poised going into this new format. It gains consistency with Tapu Lele-GX and Rescue Stretcher, and it can also make great use of Field Blower. Field Blower is amazing for this deck as it removes annoyances such as Silent Lab, Parallel City, and Garbodor‘s Garbotoxin. The deck is stronger than before, just like Volcanion. Rayquaza also has great matchups. It can beat Sylveon, Greninja, and Volcanion, though it might struggle with Drampa / Garbodor.

The main thing going against Rayquaza is Sudowoodo, and Sudowoodo may very well turn out to be unpopular. With what little hype Ray is getting, many players may exclude the Fake Tree altogether. Even against decks with Sudowoodo, Rayquaza still has a chance. Hex Maniac removes its Ability for a turn, which can allow you to get a clutch KO. Inevitably, Ray will have to KO the Tree at some point. Once that happens, if the Sudowoodo player whiffs a way to get it back, Ray might run away with momentum from there. Sudowoodo is an effective counter to Rayquaza, but it sure is a fragile one.

Strengths

Weaknesses

  • Can struggle against Drampa-GX and Garbodor
  • Weak to Sudowoodo
  • Lots of moving pieces, so the deck can feel clunky and awkward at times

Verdict

Mega Rayquaza is actually an incredibly strong play right now. It can abuse Hex Maniac quite well, which is highly effective against nearly ever top tier deck. I definitely recommend playing or at least messing around with Rayquaza, it seems like a great deck in this new format. I don’t expect it to be too popular in Seattle, but I wouldn’t be surprised if three or more made day two. Sudowoodo is definitely annoying, but I wouldn’t worry about it enough to disregard Rayquaza.

Mega Mewtwo

Mewtwo seems to have fallen off altogether thanks to the insane about of Garbodor hype. I don’t have much to say about Mewtwo. It beats Volcanion, Greninja, and Rayquaza. It loses to Sylveon and Garbodor. Mewtwo is too risky of a play in my opinion. I don’t think it is good. You could run the Trashalanch Garbodor with Mewtwo, but at that point I think you are better off running Drampa / Garb.

Strengths

Weaknesses

Verdict

I expect everyone to abandon M Mewtwo-EX, and I recommend that you do the same. I will be surprised if anyone plays it in Seattle, let alone makes day two. I do have to give credit where credit is due though, it could turn out to be a strong meta call in a field of Ray, Volcanion, and Greninja.


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