Judgment Returns — Tapu Bulu-GX / Vikavolt in Standard
I can’t let a deck go. I played Tapu Bulu-GX / Vikavolt last season at Madison Regionals, the first Regional where it was legal. I took the deck to a Day 2 finish at the North American International Championships, too. I swore off the deck for this season, playing Drampa-GX / Garbodor for most of it, but with how underwhelming Drampa-GX / Garbodor is now, it only makes sense that I look at other options.
Speaking of Drampa-GX / Garbodor under-performing, this cracks the metagame right open for Tapu Bulu-GX to shine. Garbodor‘s Garbotoxin Ability killed Vikavolt by shutting off Strong Charge hard, which Bulu needs to continue to take OHKOs. With this deck seeing far less play, I see an opening for Bulu decks to emerge once more. Not to mention, most of the more powerful Pokemon in the format have 210 HP: Silvally-GX, Golisopod-GX, and Zoroark-GX are all within the range to get Knocked Out with one Choice Band-boosted Nature’s Judgment. Add in Tapu Bulu-GX’s lack of Weakness and phenomenal ability to trade two-hit Knock Outs with its GX attack, and you’ve got yourself an excellent attacker in the current metagame.
There are some poor matchups too, which I will cover later, but Tapu Bulu-GX / Vikavolt has a bigger opening than it may have ever had before. This deck is one of a few that I’m considering for local League Cups as well as Memphis Regionals. In this article, I’ll cover my idea of what the Memphis metagame will be, and explain in detail why Tapu Bulu is great in that context.
My Personal Tier List
Many of our writers have tackled this subject, and I’ll try to spare you the details. This is my personal tier list for decks currently:
- Brokenvoir (Gardevoir-GX with four Max Potion)
- Decidueye-GX / Zoroark-GX
- Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX
- Buzzwole-GX / Lycanroc-GX
- Other Gardevoir-GX variants (such as with Sylveon-GX)
- Volcanion-EX / Turtonator-GX
- Silvally-GX / Celesteela-GX
- Tapu Bulu-GX / Vikavolt
- Drampa-GX / Garbodor
- Everything else
There are some decks that you can easily argue to be tier one, but this is my general perception of the metagame based off of matchups against other decks as well as the overall perceived strength of the deck. Zoroark-GX is turning out to be a format-defining card, and is erasing some of the flaws of Standard, such as a lack of draw power outside of Supporters.
Most people have come to the consensus that Gardevoir-GX is the BDIF currently, with the Max Potion variant having the most strength due to its attrition and usage of Gallade, which handles almost all of this deck’s bad matchups.
Decidueye-GX / Zoroark-GX is so good in the hands of the right player, it’s unbelievable what it can accomplish. Being able to put damage down on a whim, as well as having access to Zoroark-GX’s draw engine, puts it ahead of so many other decks. Our own Caleb Gedemer covered this deck in his most recent article, so be sure to check that out.
Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX is so incredibly consistent that it’s hard to not put it in tier one. The deck trades better than anything I’ve seen in a long time. Only having to get out Stage 1 Pokemon make this deck hit early and often. It also benefits from having a sustainable draw engine in Zoroark-GX’s Ability, Trade. This lets you play Acerola and Guzma with no problems at all.
I placed most of the current archetypes in tier two, including the one I’m going to talk about in this article. This isn’t a dig against any of those decks, it’s simply that they all have some sort of flaw, or have a rough time against at least one of the tier one decks. These decks are also relatively unproven right now. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Zach Lesage’s prediction in his last article of Buzzwole-GX performing phenomenally at Memphis due to the amount of Zoroark-GX decks that will see play. I also see Volcanion-EX picking up steam as well (no pun intended).
Tier three has some decks that have been successful in the past. Drampa-GX / Garbodor used to be definitively tier one! However, hitting 180 damage on turn two isn’t impressive anymore. In addition to that, playing around Garbodor is pretty easy in Standard. Also, not every deck is crippled by Garbodor with the Garbotoxin Ability. Metagross-GX is still good, and may be tier two if you pair it with Solgaleo-GX. Similar to Drampa-GX, hitting 180 with Giga Hammer isn’t relevant anymore, and playing a high Max Potion count isn’t too special either, since Gardevoir-GX does the attrition game so much better.
Tapu Bulu-GX has a huge opening in this meta, and with a more proven track record, it can easily become tier one. In my personal testing, I’ve been smoking the tier one decks. One criterion I use to determine how good I think decks are is their track record in tournaments. To be honest, Tapu Bulu-GX has a relatively small amount of day two results. This can change, however, and I expect it to in Memphis.
Updating the Deck
So I’ve gone over some of the advantages of this deck, as well as the metagame that it’s going to play in. I took my old list and modified it to fit the needs of the current format. Here is my updated list:
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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