Down Under Analysis — Looking at the Standard Team Up Metagame from OCIC

I didn’t perform as well as hoped for in Oceania; starting 5/1/1, I finished 5/3/1 in disappointing fashion. Isaiah Williams won the event with Zapdos, the same 60 I played, so there was still much to celebrate. While I didn’t perform like that, I still was there, observed the metagame, and have thoughts to share on the Zapdos deck as well as the rest of the stuff that was played around it.

Day Two Results

Final Top 8 Results

  • 1. Zapdos
  • 2. Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX
  • 3. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
  • 4. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
  • 5. Zapdos
  • 6. Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
  • 7. Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX
  • 8. Zapdos

In order of popularity, I expected the following decks: Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX; Lost March ; Zapdos; Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX; Pikachu & Zekrom-GX; Malamar / Necrozma-GX; Blacephalon-GX. Personally, I faced one Blacephalon-GX; one Celebi and Venusaur-GX; one Passimian / Tapu Koko; two Pikachu & Zekrom-GX; and four Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX. These predictions line up pretty well in comparison to the actual results and in contrast to what I played myself. It’s clear to see that Team Up shaped the metagame unlike any set has in recent memory. The biggest surprise to me was how quickly Lost March was eradicated from the format. While it can certainly go head to head with most decks, its Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX matchup was one of the hugest reason it saw no spots in day two. Sky-Scorching Light GX is extremely difficult to handle and creates a sticky situation for a deck that did gain a lot from the set. I didn’t expect it to get countered out of the game so quickly, but hey, it happened.

Thoughts

The Standard format condensed super quickly. By my count, there were nearly 20 viable decks going into the event, but afterwards I’m very confident in saying there’s only about seven that are going to be left standing moving forward. I underrated Pikachu & Zekrom-GX as a deck quite a bit going into Oceania and while I’m still not sure of it, lots of great players used the deck and performed extremely well. Most intriguing, though, is Jose Marrero’s insanely fast list with Multi Switch. I’d been running a list with just four Energy Switch, but on top of that Marrero opted to use Multi Switch as well. I really like this and it boosts your first and second turn Full Blitz percentages, which should be the goal of this deck. While I thought this deck would be adequately countered for the event, a few decks might need to adjust a little further, particularly Malamar (Marshadow-GX). The other “problem” that remains is that a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX deck can gas just about anything. A super powerful turn one followed by a turn two Tag Bolt GX can absolutely trash even the most non-GX of decks by eliminating their setup in one fell swoop.

Zapdos doing well wasn’t a surprise to me once I played enough with the deck. It was extremely powerful and simple. Simple strategies are the hardest to thwart. I believe the Zapdos list we used was the optimal version of the deck and while there were some other cool lists that featured things like Buzzwole and Rainbow Energy, the straightforward list built for consistency has my vote. After playing Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX too many times last year I experience a great deal of dread every time it resurfaces; I’d rather never play it again. It has popped up again and while it hasn’t really gained much other than Pokémon Communication, it remains one of the very best decks. This is mainly because Fighting-type decks have sunk back into the deep; Buzzwole-GX cannot handle over half of the metagame, making it one of the worst possible choices there is for upcoming tournaments. With Fighting gone, Zoroark-GX again has a chance to thrive and Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX is the best version of the deck in Standard right now. It pairs aggression with consistency and can outlast many decks with draw from Trade. Alolan Muk is a great tech in the deck and improves many of its difficult matchups to the point of being winnable.

While it didn’t make Top 8, Malamar / Ultra Necrozma-GX solidified itself as a top tier deck after a great day two performance. Non-GX attackers and big hitters pair well together and this deck takes Giratina and Ultra Necrozma-GX into a neat blend of power and versatility. It has tons of space for techs and improves upon straight Malamar deck’s bad matchups and should remain a top contender for some time. Finally, I didn’t expect Blacephalon-GX to completely die all at once, but it did. With two copies in day two it didn’t bomb per se, like Lost March, but it performed awfully once in day two. Its matchup with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is horrendous, as is its matchup with Zapdos. With so much stacking against it I don’t think it will be succeeding in tournaments anytime soon so its hardliners will have to move onto other decks. I feel like you may still run into one a tournament as it was formerly a fan favorite deck with many players that mained it; perhaps they won’t move on themselves.


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