Hi there PokeBeach readers! I just got back from an exciting vacation at the Pokemon World Championships in Anaheim California! Worlds was yet again a stellar time. It was fantastic to see all my friends from around the country again. I was even able to hang out with our very own PokeBeach webmaster Jon Sahagian (who is a highly reputable card borrower, I may add)! Disneyland was a blast, and I got to spend Wednesday hanging out with Chris Derocher and Alex Hill at the most magical place on Earth. Thursday, however, I turned my attention to Worlds.
The main event was packed with tension — from the unforgettable Froakie deck-out in the Seniors finals, to Diego Cassaraga’s incredible resource management in his finals series, many high-profile matches came down to the wire. After such a memorable Worlds, where does that leave us for next season?
For some of us, the 2017 – 2018 season has already started. There have already been Regionals in the U.K. and in Anaheim for the upcoming season, and even though Worlds placements this year didn’t count for points toward next season, the tournament provided lots of information to analyze. Most notably, of course, was how players utilized the cards from our newest set, Burning Shadows. In this article, we will be covering the future of the top placing decks from Worlds, including list modifications and techs that reflect the rotation, with a little Disney / Anaheim inspired twist. I will dedicate the last bit of this article to one of the decks I’ve been playing in preparation for Ft. Wayne Regionals.
A Whole New World(s)
Releasing a new set just before Worlds creates an interesting and exciting environment for players and spectators. Burning Shadows had a number of cards that saw significant play over the weekend. Many unique decks were played at the World Championships and a number of them went on to do quite well. Even though every deck in Top 8 included Garbodor or Gardevoir-GX, there was enough variance between lists to have different strategies.
It is always cool to see newly released cards perform well at their first major tournament. Pokemon designed their most recent set, Burning Shadows, well and created strong, but not necessarily overpowered cards. Pokemon nailed the GX mechanic and the GX cards took a strong grasp of the format without completely invalidating Mega Pokemon,Pokemon-EX, and strong non-EX Pokemon like Greninja or Vespiquen. As we will see though, the top performing decks from Anaheim were entirely based off Pokemon from the Sun and Moon block of cards. Before we look at the archetypes in the Top 8 and their modifications for after rotation, let’s take a look at the most notable cards that are leaving our format.
Let it Go
Let it go, let it go. Can’t hold these cards back anymore (from rotation). Much like Elsa’s soaring ballad, it is time for rotation to finally slam the door on a number of key cards. These cards had major impact at Worlds and I’d like to take a minute to outline the impact their absence leaves in the format after rotation.
This is a card I will not be sad to see leave the format. Though it provided a large amount of versatility, it also allowed players to be lazy in game. It’s absence will force players to conserve resources better, which will always lead to more skillful players performing better than their resource wasting counterparts. Being forced to weigh the cost benefit of playing N over Professor Sycamore in an opening hand can only be good for the health of the game. Micro-decisions like these now have game-changing consequences, and in our new format players that can navigate these decisions will always have a clear edge.
Additionally, the loss of VS Seeker will cause Garbodor to lose a step. Most decks in format played four VS Seeker, but now decks will need to include extra Supporters to supplement the standard count of four Professor Sycamore. N counts should rise and the standard Guzma count should rise to at least three in non-Gardevoir decks. Supporters like Wicke and Psychic's Third Eye may very well see play to account for the loss of VS Seeker, though I think it’s much more likely to see players max out on Tapu Lele-GX before including any additional Supporters beyond Sycamore, N, and Guzma.
Gyarados was never a Tier 1 deck, but it always had the capability of going undefeated if the decks it faced didn’t run counters. With so many players running Tapu Koko, and Gyarados’s propensity for drawing poorly, it simply wouldn’t be able to keep up. On the other hand, a heavy-hitting, stand alone non-EX/GX deck is no longer viable in this format.
One of my favorite cards ever printed, I will be sad to see this deck leave the Standard format. I feel that Vespiquen has a ton of potential in this format, but sadly, it will never have its chance at seeing play beyond Expanded for the foreseeable future. With type coverage in Flareon / Vaporeon, the deck could be built to trade favorably with Golisopod-GX, or Volcanion-EX. It could even tech Pokemon like Machoke or Garbodor to take care of threats such as Decidueye-GX. There’s some untapped potential in the current format, but for Vespiquen lovers, it’s time to “Let It Go.”
Forest of Giant Plants
Despite what Decidueye-GX players might hope for, the grass bird is officially dead. There are still a handful of people who will attempt to save Decidueye by swapping Forest slots for Rare Candy, but the resulting deck simply isn’t the same. The speed that Forest gave to the Grass-based evolution deck will be difficult to replicate. In the future, Decidueye could see play as a 1-0-1 tech in a Stage 2 deck like Gardevoir-GX to get cleaner KOs much like how Kingdra was used in past formats, but it’s time as a stand alone deck is over.
Zero to Hero (Just Like That)
Golisopod-GX proved to be one of the top up-and-coming decks from Worlds. Why did anyone ever doubt that 120 for one Energy would be good? Combined with Acerola, the deck hits like a truck from its second turn and on. For me, it was easy to disregard the potential of this deck because of its poor matchup against Espeon-GX / Garbodor which I used as the barometer for a successful deck. If a deck couldn’t beat Espeon / Garbodor, then it probably wasn’t worth playing. If the Espeon list plays a Flareon (which most did for a drastically improved Decidueye-GX / Vileplume matchup), then they can OHKO a Golisopod-GX and obliterate the tank strategy that this deck relies on to win.
Since Espeon / Garbodor was a consensus Top 5 or higher pick for Worlds, many players never saw Golisopod becoming a serious contender. Lists of Golisopod that I did see before Worlds combined it with Decidueye-GX to create a bizarre franken-deck of cards whose only real synergy was that they could both evolve with Forest of Giant Plants. Naoto and Sho’s versions of the deck proved that Golisopod’s performance was no fluke.
I prefer Naoto’s deck because of it’s more consistent Pokemon lines. Where Sho chose to run three Trubbish and three Wimpod, Naoto opted for four of each Basic which seems like the best counts for your two main attackers. Sho had the benefit of being able to add Magearna-EX and Drampa-GX which likely helped him against Espeon / Garbodor and other Drampa decks. However, cutting back to three Trubbish seems like a cardinal sin as Garbodor is your main sweeper and is generally a good threat to build up on the Bench at any point in the game. For the sake of future deck considerations, let’s consider how Naoto’s deck might evolve for next format.
Above is the list Naoto used to garner a 2nd place finish at the World Championships in Anaheim. Let’s take a look at what the deck is losing from the rotation.
Every single Pokemon remains in the format from this list. So, if it isn’t broke, why fix it? Well, because a card like Oranguru or Octillery could go a long way to improving the consistency of the list because of the loss of VS Seeker. With four Float Stone and a higher Guzma count, the Retreat Cost of two on these two Pokemon not much of a liability. Post-rotation, I would add two more Tapu Lele-GX as it is a decent enough attacker in the deck for Knocking Out a Pokemon that Golisopod-GX didn’t, or for applying early damage for Golisopod-GX to follow up on.
We lose VS Seeker which is a big loss for a deck like this. Golisopod, more than most decks, relies on alternative Supporters like Acerola and Guzma to activate Golisopod-GX’s effect on it’s first attack. Thus, going forward, Golisopod will need to up the counts on it’s non-setup Supporters. Since Guzma is generally more useful than Acerola at taking Prizes and activating Golisopod’s attack for boosted damage, Guzma should likely be maxed out before using additional deck slots on Acerola.
Slightly less important, we also lose Hex Maniac and Teammates to rotation. Hex Maniac is not a significant loss as we also lose Vileplume which was the main reason to include Hex in the first place. Teammates is a consistency card that saw more play later in the season as people realized the effectiveness of grabbing specific cards. Even in aggressive decks like Drampa / Garbodor, Teammates was beneficial for being able to trade KOs. There isn’t an adequate replacement for Teammates, so an additional support Pokemon will take it’s place.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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