Hello PokeBeach goers! It’s only been a couple weeks but I’m back again for a last minute Standard Cities update. Even though it has only been a short time since my last article, I have plenty of new content to share with you. Players are continuing to top cut with my Lucario-EX / Hammers deck, which is both exciting and encouraging, but this year’s City Championship metagame has shifted so quickly, at least in Northeast Ohio, that one deck rarely remains the optimal play for more than a weekend. The openness of the Standard format has forced me to test and adapt more so than I have during any previous season. This has proven to be both frustrating and exciting. I have more high caliber decks at my disposal than I have ever had before, but recently my dilemma has been selecting the right one!
Facebook recently reminded me that it was a year ago on January 3rd that I won my first and only City Championship of the 2015 season with Landorus-EX / Crobat. A lot has changed since then. I’ve become a better deck builder and I am far more versatile as a card player. Last year, I earned 110 Championship Points with Landorus / Crobat in the final three weekends of City Championships to round out my four City finishes. The deck was so far under the radar that it remained a potent play all the way until February where I was able to win the St. Louis Regional Championship with it. As I search for my last two City finishes in the final two weekends of City Championships, I can’t help but wonder if I can find a deck like Landorus / Bats to get me there. Maybe there isn’t one magical deck? Maybe Lucario / Hammers is it? After all, I have top cut two of the three tournaments that I have brought it to. There is a possibility that the elusive deck is still on the horizon. But maybe, it’s right at the end of this article.
My girlfriend, Kirsten Sprague, was able to breeze through swiss at Streetsboro, Ohio’s City Championships at 4-0-2 with a Seismitoad-EX deck that she and my friend Justin Boughter thought up. The list was rough and totally untested, but she didn’t drop a single Prize in swiss. Unfortunately, she lost her Top 8 match because of some poor luck to my own Lucario / Hammers deck piloted by a good friend of ours, Nicholas Bailey. Even so, her performance in swiss was very impressive, and things could have easily gone her way in top cut. Similarly, Justin’s friend Nicholas Baker was able to take a Seismitoad deck using the same concept all the way to the finals of North Olmsted’s City Championships before losing to some bad draws in the final match. I’m confident that this deck has so much potential that it could very well flip the entire Standard format on its head, reverberating all the way to States and possibly even Expanded. So make sure to stay tuned till the end in order to check it out!
M Rayquaza-EX / Milotic
My obsession with growing as a card player has lead me to some weird places this season. I’ve intentionally put Night March on the back burner despite its success in Standard because I know that continuing to play it will not make me a better player in the long run. If I want to improve my game, I need to be playing as many decks as I can get my hands on. With seven City Championships to go last Saturday, I felt like I could take a risk by piloting M Rayquaza-EX. It was a deck I messed around with briefly in testing and wanted to try simply because I had never piloted a M Pokemon-EX deck in a tournament before. Unfortunately, my run was not very hot! But it was a learning experience for sure. Luckily enough, my friend Justin Boughter was able to pilot my deck to a Top 4 finish before ultimately losing to the Seismitoad deck I’m featuring at the end of my article! So this idea does have some merit to it. M Rayquaza-EX has the explosive ability to outrun and out swing any target in Standard if the metagame isn’t prepared for it. And with Milotic on the Bench, we can recycle resources to get back what we need for each matchup!
Even though this list is missing the Colress that helps the Expanded version establish board positioning mid to late game by drawing a massive amount of cards, this deck is still valid in Standard. M Rayquaza-EX has been seeing some success lately, but I worry about its longevity given the rising popularity of Raichu and disruption decks. I won’t dwell on this list long because truthfully, I don’t think it boasts the best all around matchups in the current metagame, but I thought I would share it with you all considering my friend was able to net a Top 4 finish with it at a City Championship!
Strengths / Weaknesses
There are a couple glaring weaknesses for a M Rayquaza-EX deck in Standard right now: Parallel City and Zoroark. Get just a little too Bench-happy with your Sky Field and Zoroark will be trading favorably with your Rayquaza. It’s not too difficult to watch your Bench when playing against an Yveltal / Zoroark / Gallade deck, however, when playing against something with a little more HP, like M Mewtwo-EX, balancing your Bench while trying to trade with a M Pokemon-EX can be quite the chore. And, of course, there’s Parallel City. Parallel City is the primary reason I include Milotic in my list. Milotic’s Ability, Sparkling Ripples, allows you to refill your Bench after a devastating Parallel City by reusing Sacred Ash to recycle Pokemon back into the deck. Jirachi helps us a little bit with decks like Giratina-EX, Night March and Seismitoad-EX, but these decks can still be an issue despite the inclusion.
M Rayquaza-EX excels against Entei, most M Pokemon-EX decks, Manectric-EX / Bats, and Lucario-EX / Bats. Rayquaza has the ability to outspeed and out-trade any Pokemon-EX centered deck. Because of its raw speed, Mega Ray can beat anything that doesn’t have the best start either. Not many decks can threaten big turn OHKO’s as quickly and effortlessly as Mega Ray can, so if there is any reason to play the deck, that’s it!
Lucario / Bats
Despite my bias towards Lucario-EX / Hammers, Lucario / Bats remains a popular choice amongst competitive players and continues to top cut events. I’ve messed around with my list quite a bit and I have come up with something that is consistent while living up to my expectations for a powerful and versatile Bats deck. Hawlucha is simply a great card, capable of easily closing out games on opposing Shaymin-EX. Bats occupy a sturdy foothold in the format because of Night March’s everlasting popularity along with Gallade and M Mewtwo-EX‘s Weakness to Crobat‘s Skill Dive attack. Lucario, once set up and rolling, can topple most Pokemon with ease. With the addition of a single Landorus, this deck has the options it needs to be a top threat in Standard.
This list is packed to the brim. Admittedly, I have been a little greedy here, but it works. With a thick 4-4-3 Crobat line, the focus of this deck is getting multiple Bats into play and recycling their damage with Super Scoop Up and AZ. I took a few pointers from Manectric-EX / Bats when constructing this list, opting to include a full play set of Trainers' Mail which has become the norm in these types of decks. Unsatisfied with Korrina‘s ability to set up multiple Crobat, I have limited her inclusion to two copies which has been just fine. Korrina is a good option to have, but shouldn’t be the bedrock of a Bats deck. Selecting one Fighting Pokemon and one Item card just doesn’t flood the playing field with Bats like the deck needs to. Instead, we choose to rely on burning and drawing with Professor Sycamore, Trainers’ Mail, and Shaymin-EX like most Standard decks nowadays. Super Rod gives us the flexibility to throw Bats and Energy back into the deck should we lose them with Sycamore and Ultra Ball early on.
Strengths and Weaknesses
This deck just won’t budge in Standard because of its excellent typing. The only deck that outright counters Lucario-EX / Bats is Wobbuffet / Bats, which sees fringe play at best. Lucario / Bats has a good showing versus Night March, Vespiquen, Raichu / Bats, Magnezone, Manectric-EX / Bats, and M Manectric-EX. Additionally, the deck can hang with your random Seismitoad-EX or Gallade deck thanks to the multiple attackers at its disposal.
Lucario / Bats can also be its own worst enemy. I was able to beat two Lucario / Bats decks with Lucario / Hammers last Sunday, which is a shaky matchup for Lucario / Hammers, because my opponents could not draw the resources they needed while my deck ran smooth as ever. Like many decks in Standard, consistency can be an issue here. And although this list is super tight, I still want to add a bunch of cards. I would love to fit a third Hawlucha, more Level Ball, a Professor Birch's Observations to shuffle draw, and a Startling Megaphone to help with the deck’s Entei matchup. At the end of the day I have decided to stick with the two copies of Enhanced Hammer because it doesn’t make much sense to play Fighting if you’re going to be swinging into Flash Energy all day.
Toad / Card
This deck will be the deck that people hate to play against in the Standard format. Think new-age Seismitoad-EX / Garbodor, without the Garbodor. But not for long! Ability-locking Garbodor is being reincarnated in our next set so the Trash Heap could very well make a resurgence here. But to be honest, it may not be necessary. With a turn one Red Card / Silent Lab combination, most decks will be down for the count, unable to draw out of their hand. Combine that with a turn one Quaking Punch induced Item-lock and you have one completely infuriating deck to play against. With a plethora of Energy denial, Head Ringer, and healing in the mix, you’ll be lucky if your opponent doesn’t flip the table on you. Seismitoad counters are at an all time low in Standard right now. Night March has established itself as the Battle Compressor deck of choice over Vespiquen while cards like M Sceptile-EX and Primal Groudon-EX are seeing nearly zero play. Jirachi, while an excellent card, has been axed from people’s list in favor of more relevant techs like Startling Megaphone or Enhanced Hammer. Now is the time for Seismitoad to rear it’s ugly face again. So welcome all you trolls, all you haters of fun. I present to you, the most poisonous deck in Standard.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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