Run of the Mill – Control and Mill in Standard
Hello PokeBeach readers! I’m back once again, this time with an article about a couple decks in the Standard format!
As we wrap up Players Cup III, we’re starting to see more unique decks emerge — but at the same time, the same reliable decks still continue to pull themselves to the top. Of the current top five players globally, four are playing typical meta decks. Number one played 50 keys with Centiskorch VMAX, a deck featured in multiple PokeBeach articles previously, including my own Looking Forward – Analyzing the Structure of the Players Cup III. I’m not certain what number two played, but I’ve heard from people that played against them that they spent a substantial amount of time playing Blacephalon. Number three I’ll get to later — that’s the atypical one. But number four played the tried and true Pikachu and Zekrom-GX for all 50 of their keys, and fifth place played half of their keys with Centiskorch VMAX and the other half with Pikachu and Zekrom-GX.
Based on these results, much like in Players Cup II, Pikachu and Zekrom-GX and Centiskorch VMAX are the two strongest decks going into the second phase. However, I think the window is more than large enough for a lot of decks that didn’t hit the top of the leaderboard. Notably, I recently gave Eternatus VMAX another chance after despising the deck for a while, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I liked it. And then, of course, simply by its inherent nature, you can never write off Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V.
Now, as promised, I want to look at the deck that made third place. As of writing this, third place on the leaderboard is occupied by control, stall, and mill aficionado Sander Wojcik. To no one’s surprise, Sander spent all 50 of his keys playing a control deck that he’s been iterating for much of the Team Up-on format, and it’s undeniable that his deck has an immense amount of potential.
During the first half of 2020, in the Ultra Prism-on format, most control decks opted for one of two strategies: hand lock with a combination of Reset Stamp, Mars or Jessie and James, and Chip-Chip Ice Axe, or aggressively using Bellelba and Brycen-Man and Lt. Surge's Strategy to mill as many as six cards per turn. Then, with the rotation to Team Up-on, control lost a lot of its critical tools, including Oranguru and Mars. Around the same time, Bellelba and Brycen-Man was banned in Standard for its milling potential. As a result, control has been left with only one main strategy: slowly burning the opponent’s resources while you establish a combo to lock them out of attacking. Then you can slowly establish a primary win condition, usually a deck-out strategy, while removing all your opponent’s Energy.
I find these archetypes especially strong in the current Standard format — since decks tend to be so fast, they’re more vulnerable to running themselves out of resources, and thus they’re more susceptible to the slow mill strategy. Slow mill can be scary to play in the Players Cup Qualifier phase due to the short match timer, but I think it has a lot of potential for the upcoming second phase. (I also think there is one other way to consistently win by deck out, and that’s with Mega Sableye and Tyranitar-GX. I’ll get to that later on.)
Without further ado, let’s get into the Sander-style control list!
As I mentioned, Sander took this style of control deck to the top of the leaderboard, amassing an astounding 154 Tournament Rep. The strategy’s actually pretty simple: In the early state of the game, you want to start building up a large assortment of cards in your hand via Zacian V or Snorlax. Throughout the game, you’ll have several ways to increase the opponent’s Active Pokemon’s Retreat Cost, such as Galar Mine, while repeatedly using Alolan Muk to discard their Switch and Scoop Up Net. Eventually, in the final stages of the game, you will use Boss's Orders and Reset Stamp to trap something like a Dedenne-GX in the Active Spot, and then start looping Crushing Hammer to keep it there. At this point, it’s nearly impossible for your opponent to move the stuck Pokemon, so you can take your time removing the rest of your opponent’s resources until they run out of options and you win the game!
My Changes From Sander’s List
Sander posted his deck list on Twitter, and I think it borders on perfection. However, I removed one Jirachi and one Erika's Hospitality in favor of a second Snorlax and a fourth Cynthia and Caitlin. These changes are largely down to personal preference. I have never particularly been a fan of Jirachi in control decks, instead opting to use more consistent draw packages or more tech cards. In this particular deck, I’ve prioritized the draw with Snorlax — but still, I can’t deny that Jirachi has its uses. It makes drawing into Scoop Up Net easier, and also lets you shuffle your deck after losing a huge hand to a Marnie.
As for Cynthia and Caitlin, this is more of a drastic change from Erika’s Hospitality than Oranguru is from Jirachi, but it makes sense. One aspect of Erika’s Hospitality that has always bothered me is the fact that you can only have four other cards in your hand when you play it. In a deck like control, you build up your hand far too much with cards like Zacian V and Snorlax, and at that point you simply can’t use Erika’s Hospitality at all. This drove me to switch it to a fourth Cynthia and Caitlin. Cynthia and Caitlin can more reliably draw cards and has the added bonus of being able to get back your Supporter cards — and with so many critical Supporters, that’s extremely valuable in this deck.
As per the control deck norm, we play two Munchlax. In this particular control deck, the card isn’t just a convenience — it’s essential for the deck to function. As I highlighted earlier, the rotation to Team Up-on caused Oranguru to leave Standard, and as a result, we were left with very few good options to recover resources. There’s Excadrill, but Excadrill has its own fair share of problems. Apart from that, we only have mediocre cards like Dhelmise or Xerneas, both of which only get one card back from the discard pile. Sacrificing a potential Prize card for just one card from the discard pile isn’t remotely worth it.
As a result, we look to Munchlax. Thanks to its Ability Snack Search, we are able to constantly recover resources while leaving a bulkier Snorlax or Zacian V as our Active Pokemon — or better yet, a Lillie's Poké Doll to deny the opponent a Prize card entirely. Oftentimes, a key strategy in this deck will be to keep getting back Lillie’s Poke Doll with Munchlax in order to stop the opponent from ever taking a Prize card! This strategy doesn’t always work, of course — it has a 50% chance of failing on any particular turn due to Munchlax’s Ability — so we play other cards to make the strategy safer and more consistent.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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