The state of the current meta is becoming, once again, centralized. This is all thanks to PokeBeach’s legendary John Kettler whom debuted a new toxic deck (Vileplume / Decidueye-GX), in Anaheim Regionals and became notorious in St. Louis Regionals. Decidueye has taken the top tables by storm. It appeared at the Oceania Intercontinental Championship in full force, flooded local League Cups across the United States, and is a common point of discussion among top players. Each new piece of literature in the recent weeks has that central theme of destroying Decidueye as it is popular with players because it is a high skill cap, low skill floor deck, like Night March. This means it does not take much skill to be fairly effective with the deck because you have Vileplume which can win you matches all on its own. However, when playing against high caliber players who have teched against and practiced for the deck, you must understand the ins and outs of Decidueye to pull out a win. My intention in writing this article is similar to the aforementioned literature where I present to you decks that I believe have a very strong chance of beating Vileplume / Decidueye for your upcoming League Cups and Regional Championships in the Standard format.
Vileplume / Decidueye-GX
In order to effectively combat Vileplume / Decidueye-GX, you must first understand the strategy of the deck, which is true of most matchups. If you have not had the pleasure or pain of being on the giving or receiving end of this deck, it goes like this. You try to set up as many Decidueye-GX as possible before setting up Item-lock, and then pull up Pokemon with heavy Retreat to the Active slot while damaging threats around them. Optimally, you want to be able to Knock Out the immobile Pokemon in the Active slot on the same turn you eliminate the immediate threat that they have built on the Bench. The tactics that VD can employ to slowly rip apart its opponent’s decks are highly frustrating. Earlier versions of the deck tried to focus on the cheap, single attachment attackers Tauros-GX and Lugia-EX, but the meta has shifted to where Beedrill-EX and Jolteon-EX typically replace Tauros-GX. Though these are not the most powerful attackers in the game, the pressure of Decidueye’s Feather Arrow while being forced to maneuver around Item-lock gives the attackers the time they need to close out the game. VD, like Seismitoad-EX / Hammers and Accelgor / Trevenant in previous formats, just tries to put your opponent on a six Prize clock while locking them out of plays that their deck is normally accustomed to. Even though they were some of the best decks of their time, they were never unbeatable as they had exploitable weaknesses. For instance, Seismitoad / Hammers was defeated by attackers that had high mobility and attack-based acceleration. Accelgor / Trevenant fell flat on its face when paired against anything that had recovery from Special Conditions like multiple Keldeo-EX and Virizion-EX.
As mentioned before, Standard lists have changed quite a bit since Melbourne in my local meta. It really hasn’t changed much as the Supporter line, and the draw line stays pretty much the same. This list is based off of Alex Hill’s list but with a Jolteon-EX for Tauros-GX and Rainbow Energy in the place of Grass Energy.
Vileplume / Decidueye’s Weaknesses
After hours of testing, building, and discussing VD with several of my peers, these are the weaknesses that I have found to be fairly exploitable with the cards available to the meta.
This weakness is probably the most obvious of them. Cards that can take advantage stopping Feather Arrow and Irritating Pollen in this format are Wobbuffet, Garbodor, Hex Maniac and Silent Lab (kind of). On the first turn of the game, the deck relies on abusing Shaymin-EX’s Set Up Ability to draw enough cards to find Stage 2 lines. Without Shaymin-EX the deck is limited to its initial seven cards, Professor Sycamore and Trainers' Mail to find Forest of Giant Plants and draw the correct Pokemon in the correct order to stack on top of each other.
Wobbuffet is the only card, going second, to completely put an end to this. This is why we saw the rise of Wobbuffet in decks like M Mewtwo-EX / Garbodor and Espeon-GX / Wobbuffet. If you go first, getting a Trubbish with a Float Stone is a high priority because you can just evolve into Garbodor when you find it. The next best thing is starting with a Hex Maniac in your opening hand as it almost guarantees you’ll have another turn of Items to set up with. Silent Lab, while great against Shaymin, does nothing to stop the two towering Stage 2s.
Limited Switching Options, No Status Removal
Aside from two Float Stone, the deck has no free retreating option. Special Conditions, like Lapras-GX’s Ice beam GX, Espeon-GX‘s Psybeam, and Darkrai’s Abyssal Sleep, are impossible hurdles to climb and the player must resort to a coin flip to attack through Confusion, or just forgo an attack in the other two cases.
Typically, Lysandre stalling doesn’t work against VD, as they can stack damage on your side with Feather Arrow. But if you are playing something that heavily damages the Bench, like Yveltal, you can do 120 per turn completely outpacing their Decidueye-GX damage.
Low Damage Output
Spread damage decks like Decidueye-GX are able to hit anything they want, but not for a lot. The low damage output is really only acceptable with Item-lock. If you have a deck that completely overpowers Decidueye / Vileplume, going first is nearly an autowin. M Mewtwo-EX, Volcanion-EX, and M Rayquaza-EX are decks that come to mind to fulfill this role. Being able to just stream Knock Outs completely disrupts this deck.
Denying them their Item-lock also can exploit this weakness. If your deck or position doesn’t just outright out damage the deck under Item-lock, try to scheme to take out the Vileplume as a Hail Mary. Setting up a Marowak in play against a Seismitoad-EX makes the matchup feel like a joke; obliterating Vileplume while up against VD feels the exact same way.
Low Energy Count, Reliance on Special Energy
In the version of the deck I posted, Shaymin-EX and Lugia-EX are the only cards in the deck that can attack for one attachment so playing non-Item based Energy denial works. This means using cards like Jirachi, Raticate and Team Flare Grunt. A good example is the Lapras-GX deck. My colleague Eric Gansman is currently working on a complete guide to Lapras that should be posted soon. Even though Lapras-GX is weak to Grass, the deck succeeds even under Item-lock because it can draw with Collect and disrupt with Supporters.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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