Although it has only been a month since my last PokeBeach article, it feels like the Standard format has aged a year! The Guardians Rising expansion isn’t even out yet, but we’ve seen some fairly dramatic shake-ups over the last month of the competitive Pokemon TCG. League Cups are still raging, and in only a few days we will have our first Standard format Regionals in the United States since Anaheim!
What’s hot right now? What’s not? In today’s article, we’ll go through the state of the Standard metagame as it exists right now: the top decks, the current trends in techs and more, revived decks, and some ultimate recommendations on what might be good choices. We’ll then look at the tournament itself, and consider the state of the Standard metagame.
The Standard Metagame
Thanks to Decidueye-GX / Vileplume, the Primal Clash through Sun and Moon format has been warped to an almost laughable degree. Below, we’ll address Decidueye / Vileplume’s status as a top contender, the way Ability-lock has warped the metagame, the decks that have risen from the ashes thanks to Ability-lock, and what I ultimately see as the top contenders for the remaining major Standard tournaments this month.
Decidueye / Vileplume is Still Strong, But its Weaknesses Are Now Heavily Exposed
Since its wins in Europe, its runner-up finish in Collinsville, and its all-but-victorious domination of the Melbourne, Australia International Championship, Decidueye-GX / Vileplume has defined the way we play Standard. The Item-locking, sniping monstrosity demands players to run at least a couple hate cards dedicated specifically to counter it, to the point where “Quad’ decks like Lapras-GX are deciding to be “Quint” decks and run a counter tech to Decidueye in Wobbuffet.
Ability-lock is a big enough concern for the deck all on its own, so it will be addressed later. However, many players are now employing other methods of handling the Ghost Owl.
From Team Flare Grunt and Team Skull Grunt, to Jirachi, to Crushing Hammer and Enhanced Hammer, players have seen an upward trend in countering Decidueye by exploiting not only its low Energy count, but the linear way in which it recovers discarded Energy cards via Hollow Hunt GX. Thanks to these cards, decks we would otherwise assume as being utterly incapable of beating Decidueye, such as Lapras-GX, actually put up a good fight, and in some variants may sport a positive matchup against it!
At this point, I would rate Energy Removal as an A in countering Decidueye, but it needs to be run in the right list, with the right ways to get it out. You also can’t just run a single copy of Team Skull Grunt and bank on drawing it at the exact time it’s needed!
A Return to Olympia in Everything
After the Orlando Regionals, we saw everyone and their mom running Olympia in decks. Naturally many people felt that it was a useful, but not necessary inclusion, especially outside of decks with Garbodor, so they began to cut it in their lists. Now with the advent of Decidueye-GX / Vileplume, people are running it again en masse, and sometimes in quantities of two!
Olympia is useful against Item-lock, and in fact makes the difference in a number of games, especially versus variants utilizing Beedrill-EX to Scrapper-discard your Float Stone on Garbodor. But unlike a good Energy denial list, which can win the matchup all on its own, I would not expect Olympia to win you the game by itself — you actually have to have a cohesive deck with at least an even Decidueye matchup to do that!
I give Olympia’s splashability factor an A, and its usefulness in other matchups an A, but its overall influence in the matchup a C.
Decidueye-GX’s Razor Leaf, the attacks of the various tech Basics, and Feather Arrow rarely do a whole lot of damage. That is why some sort of consistent healing can make an incredible difference on the matchup. Here’s one of my rogue concepts I was testing earlier in the lead-up to Salt Lake City.
Lurantis-GX / Eeveelutions
This variant of Lurantis-GX was designed specifically to combat Decidueye-GX / Vileplume. Using a combination of the Lightning or Aqua Effects to alter Lurantis’ typing to be compatible with Rough Seas, as well as constant Solar Blades, Lurantis becomes a formidable tank against several otherwise difficult matchups. Also, since every Pokemon in the deck is either part of the Lurantis line or has less than two Retreat, I run zero switching options. It’s risky against cards like Trevenant-EX, but that’s fine with me! I also have a couple matchup-specific cards: I run the Effect Eeveelutions to give me a variety of better matchups versus Decidueye-GX, Yveltal, and M Rayquaza-EX, and a combination of Aqua Effect Vaporeon and Weakness Policy makes this the most surprisingly powerful variant of Lurantis against Volcanion to date.
To be clear, this deck has several matchups it struggles against. I question its Garbodor matchups without a Beedrill-EX, Tauros-GX can be a pain if you don’t hit Professor Kukui at precisely the right time, and both variants of Darkrai-EX still feel like they need to be teched against. However, this list can be quite effective in a very specific metagame, so give if a shot on the Pokémon Trading Card Game Online if you’d like to frustrate some Decidueye players!
The Rough Seas / Eeveelutions concept is only one of several healing choices. There’s Olympia yet again, as well as Pokémon Center Lady. Overall, I would rate healing’s effectiveness against Decidueye as an A, but its applicability to other top-tier matchups as a C.
Last but not least was the obvious, and economically most successful answer to the plague of Decidueye that was at Melbourne, and that’s simply running a good Fire deck. Nobody can ever say again that “Volcanion can’t win,” because it in fact won an important tournament! But I would consider this victory an isolated incident stemming from the incredibly warped metagame thanks to Decidueye-GX. I’ve also never seen that matchup to be so good for the Volcanion player that it would normally justify selecting Volcanion as your deck choice. Even with 100% optimal play, Volcanion still has to go face-to-face with Lugia-EX shielded by the ugly Allergic Pollen of Vileplume!
Things are only getting worse here in the U.S. for Volcanion. The Ability hate meant to defeat Decidueye / Vileplume indirectly hurts the Ability-reliant Volcanion as well, and several of Volcanion’s hardest matchups — M Mewtwo-EX, M Gardevoir-EX, and M Rayquaza-EX — are all seeing a comeback! Given the current climate, I would not have high hopes for Volcanion in most metagames, and would rate relying on type advantage alone to be a failing strategy; a D in solving the Decidueye threat.
So with all this hate in the metagame, what’s my current version of Decidueye-GX / Vileplume? Essentially it is the exact same list I posted in my last article, but with a Beedrill-EX. With the rise of both Wobbuffet and return of Garbodor, I wanted a card that would supply much harder hate to the idea of attaching Float Stone to facilitate Ability-lock, and so Beedrill-EX became my go-to attacker for that purpose. It’s also situationally helpful against the whole lion’s share of returning Mega decks.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
If you'd like to continue reading, consider purchasing a PokeBeach premium membership! If you're not completely satisfied with your membership, you can request a full refund within 30 days.
Each week we post high-quality content from some of the game's top players. Our article program isn't a corporate operation, advertising front, or for-profit business. We set our prices so that we can pay the game's top players to write the best content for our subscribers. Each article topic is carefully selected, goes through multiple drafts, and is touched up by our editors. We take great pride in our program!