Thoughts On The Metagame — Top 10 Standard Format Decks

Hello PokeBeach readers! For this article I’m not going to go through any specific deck. Instead, I’ve decided analyze the main decks in the Standard format metagame, exploring the strengths and weaknesses of each deck.

It’s been more than a month since the launch of the Evolving Skies, and I felt that the format has been quite explored. I thought it would be a good idea to analyze in detail the decks that make up this metagame to understand where each of them are positioned. Some decks that were considered the best of the previous format such as Eternatus VMAX and Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX have been lost in the shuffle, both because of cards no longer in the Standard format and due to changes in the metagame. Meanwhile, several other decks have started to emerge, many based on the Inteleon line, which provides power and consistency for Pokemon that needed a little help to really shine in competitive play.

In this article, I’m going to do a brief review of 12 decks, which shows how interesting this format is and how creative players are.

Why are Eternatus VMAX and Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX not good?

Eternatus VMAX

Pokemon (22)

4x Eternatus VMAX (DAA #117)4x Eternatus V (DAA #116)3x Umbreon VMAX (EVS #95)4x Umbreon V (EVS #94)4x Crobat V (DAA #104)2x Galarian Moltres V (CRE #97)1x Qwilfish (CRE #101)

Trainers (29)

4x Professor's Research (CPA #62)3x Marnie (SSH #169)2x Flannery (CRE #139)2x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Great Ball (SSH #164)4x Air Balloon (SSH #213)2x Energy Switch (BLW #94)4x Tower of Darkness (BST #137)

Energy (9)

9x Darkness Energy (DP #129)

There are two major problems that prevent Eternatus VMAX from shining in the metagame, which are Path to the Peak and a Weakness to Fighting-type Pokemon. These problems are compounded because Weakness Guard Energy is not longer in format and the deck doesn’t have any Stadium options to defend against these threats.

It’s impossible to play without Stadium cards because Path to the Peak stops you from putting eight Pokemon onto the Bench or using Crobat V to draw cards. The best Stadiums in my opinion are Galar Mine and Tower of Darkness, with the most popular Eternatus VMAX lists developing their strategies around either Stadium. The version with Galar Mine has Hiding Darkness Energy, Liepard V to remove your opponent’s Air Balloon, and four copies of Switch to stop your opponent from retreating (while you don’t suffer as much). I prefer the version with Tower of Darkness as it is more consistent. I particularly like the Supporter Flannery to help remove your opponent’s Stadium cards. Against a deck with four Path to the Peak, I believe that only four Tower of Darkness is not enough and despite being a Supporter, Flannery can save you when necessary. If it’s not needed,  it can be discarded with Tower of Darkness to draw two cards.

There is not much that can be done about Eternatus VMAX’s Fighting-type Weakness. The best way to get around this is to attack with another Pokemon, but Umbreon VMAX and Galarian Moltres V doesn’t come close.

Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX / Alcremie VMAX

Pokemon (16)

4x Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX (CRE #75)4x Shadow Rider Calyrex V (CRE #74)2x Alcremie VMAX (CPA #23)2x Alcremie V (CPA #22)1x Galarian Articuno (EVS #63)1x Cresselia (CRE #64)1x Crobat V (DAA #104)1x Eldegoss V (RCL #19)

Trainers (31)

3x Marnie (SSH #169)3x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)2x Professor's Research (SSH #201)2x Bird Keeper (DAA #159)1x Phoebe (BST #130)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)4x Fog Crystal (CRE #140)4x Air Balloon (SSH #156)4x Training Court (RCL #169)

Energy (13)

13x Psychic Energy (RS #107)
The purple horse has gone from undisputed BDIF in pre-rotation to a questionable deck in the current Standard format. The deck wasn’t able to adapt to the new format after it lost Gengar and Mimikyu-GX and Marshadow. Nowadays I find Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX inconsistent — as much as I draw a lot of cards per turn, it still seems like it’s not enough to make the strong play I want.

Just like every deck loaded with Pokemon V reliant on Abilities, Path to the Peak becomes a big problem, so it is necessary to play a Stadium and/or Pumpkaboo to discard Path to the Peak from play. The best Stadium for the deck is Training Court, as Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX is a deck about playing as many Psychic Energy cards through Underworld Door to gain power and consistency. Even with four copies of Training Court, you won’t always be able to escape Path to the Peak. Plus, Pumpkaboo is bad compared to Marshadow, as Pumpkaboo doesn’t leave the field when activating its Ability. If you want to get rid of your Pumpkaboo, you will need to use Scoop Up Net.

Another factor behind Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX’s drop in popularity is Umbreon VMAX. In addition to Knocking Out the purple horse with one attack, it has the power to pull any of your Pokemon from the Bench to the Active Spot with its Ability. Even if you use Alcremie VMAX to hit Umbreon VMAX, the opponent will hardly be forced to attack Alcremie VMAX. If you choose not to play Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, you won’t have sufficient Energy to attack with Alcremie VMAX.

It’s a good deck, but I doubt if it has the competitive power needed to survive in the metagame. I also think it’s necessary to find a way to deal with Umbreon VMAX. In one of my articles I mentioned Celebi V as a possibility, but Leafeon VMAX with Shadow Rider doesn’t seem like a bad idea either.

My Top 10 Standard Format Decks

10. Victini VMAX

Pokemon (8)

4x Victini VMAX (BST #22)2x Victini V (SSH #25)2x Victini V (BST #21)

Trainers (38)

4x Professor's Research (CPA #62)4x Marnie (SSH #169)4x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)4x Team Yell Grunt (SSH #184)4x Pokégear 3.0 (UNB #182)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)4x Crushing Hammer (SSH #159)2x Fan of Waves (BST #127)4x Path to the Peak (CRE #148)

Energy (14)

10x Fire Energy (RS #108)4x Heat Fire Energy (DAA #174)

I think it’s amazing that this deck works and gets good results. I’m glad it does. The list is so different from other decks in the format and reminds me a lot of the Green's Exploration decks we had in previous formats because the strategy is similar. This is the only deck in my top 10 that doesn’t need any Ability Pokemon, which makes this Victini VMAX build more special, as well as being the only popular Fire-type deck in the format. The idea is to setup a Victini VMAX with two Energies, while using all the disruptive resources we have to delay the opponent’s game to the point that it is as slow as yours. When that happens, Victini VMAX will shine because it can do a lot of damage needing only a few cards.

I really value a list as differentiated and creative as this one and it shows that deck building in Pokemon TCG has no limits, but it does have several flaws. Its Water-type Weakness makes matchups against Suicune V / Ludicolo and Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX bad. In addition, the deck is inconsistent even though the list has 16 Supporters. Every time your opponent uses Marnie, it’s anybody’s guess whether you’ll get a new playable hand. If your hand doesn’t turn out the way you need it, you don’t have much of a way out as there’s no Drizzile or Crobat V for you to get out of a difficult situation.

Another Pokemon that has similar characteristics to Victini VMAX is Dragapult VMAX . If you want to replace Victini VMAX with Dragapult VMAX, you will have another interesting deck in a similar style — in the same way that Victini VMAX would play smoothly with Inteleon too. It is possible to explore several other builds with Victini VMAX, such as a more aggressive version like how it was used in previous formats.

9. Zacian V and Zamazenta V

Pokemon (9)

4x Zacian V (SSH #138)2x Zamazenta V (SSH #139)2x Oranguru (SSH #148)1x Crobat V (DAA #104)

Trainers (39)

4x Professor's Research (CPA #62)4x Marnie (SSH #169)4x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)2x Raihan (EVS #152)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Rotom Phone (CPA #64)4x Switch (BLW #104)1x Air Balloon (SSH #156)4x Metal Saucer (SSH #170)3x Cape of Toughness (DAA #160)1x Tool Scrapper (RCL #168)4x Crystal Cave (EVS #144)

Energy (12)

12x Metal Energy (DP #130)
This deck is basically an updated version of Zacian V / Lucario and Melmetal-GX, which lost important cards like the Tag Team Pokemon-GX and Metal Goggles. The advantages that the deck had in the past remain and now Crystal Cave and Cape of Toughness give this deck its defensive power, which despite not being as strong as before, still has its value and helps a lot. The deck’s offensive power gained new reinforcements and improved its consistency. Zacian V and Zamazenta V can start to attack faster, without having to use Intrepid Sword as much.

Zacian V is still a great attacker and can knock out any Pokemon V from turn 2, while Zamazenta V still causes headaches to your opponent’s Pokemon VMAX decks. Path to the Peak is a big problem for the deck but thanks to the four copies of Crystal Cave, it’s possible to deal with this Stadium. As much as this deck’s consistency has improved, it relies on Intrepid Sword and even with four Crystal Cave, a Marnie combo plus Path to the Peak can be devastating and crash your game.

8. Sylveon VMAX

Pokemon (23)

3x Sylveon VMAX (EVS #75)3x Sylveon V (EVS #74)2x Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX (BST #170)2x Rapid Strike Urshifu V (BST #87)2x Blaziken VMAX (CRE #21)2x Blaziken V (CRE #20)2x Octillery (BKT #33)2x Remoraid (BST #36)2x Rayquaza VMAX (EVS #111)2x Rayquaza V (EVS #110)1x Zeraora V (CRE #53)

Trainers (25)

4x Professor's Research (CPA #62)4x Marnie (SSH #169)2x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)3x Ribbon Badge (EVS #155)4x Tower of Waters (BST #138)

Energy (12)

4x Rapid Strike Energy (BST #140)4x Spiral Energy (CRE #159)4x Capture Energy (RCL #171)

The main feature of Sylveon VMAX is to have attackers of many different types, which coincidentally are the right types to attack for Weakness in this meta. For example, against Zacian V you use Blaziken VMAX, against Jolteon VMAX and Eternatus VMAX you have Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and against an opponent’s Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, you have Sylveon VMAX.

The deck’s weakness is in its initial setup. With five Evolution lines in the deck, it’s normal for you to have a little difficulty setting up in some games. Also, Sylveon VMAX lists are dependent on Special Energy, some more and some less, but cards like Crushing Hammer and Fan of Waves can cause serious problems. However, the deck does have Blaziken VMAX to attach Energy cards from the discard pile.

7. Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX

Pokemon (21)

4x Suicune V (EVS #31)3x Ice Rider Calyrex V (CRE #45)3x Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX (CRE #46)4x Sobble (CRE #41)4x Drizzile (SSH #56)2x Inteleon (CRE #43)1x Inteleon (SSH #58)

Trainers (32)

4x Melony (CRE #146)2x Marnie (SSH #169)2x Professor's Research (CPA #62)3x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)1x Raihan (EVS #152)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Level Ball (BST #129)4x Evolution Incense (SSH #163)3x Capacious Bucket (RCL #156)2x Scoop Up Net (RCL #165)1x Escape Rope (PRC #127)1x Air Balloon (SSH #156)1x Path to the Peak (CRE #148)

Energy (7)

7x Water Energy (RS #106)

There is a lot of similarity between Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX lists and Suicune V / Ludicolo lists, the only difference being the omission of Ludicolo for the ice horse. The advantage of using this Pokemon is that it can help Suicune V against its biggest weaknesses, which are Jolteon VMAX and Pokemon that can Knock Out Suicune V easily such as Single Strike Urshifu V. The idea of ​​the deck is to start the game with Suicune V while you setup your Sobble and Ice Rider Calyrex V. After your Suicune V is KO’d, it’s time for Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX because with 320 HP and an attack that deals 250 damage with two energy, it’s basically a stronger Suicune V.

This is a safe list to play, with no big bad matchups except Zacian V and Zamazenta V. No matter what deck you’re facing, you have strong attackers that hit fast and with two different Weakness, you can choose the most suitable Pokemon for the matchup. Unfortunately, the deck is slightly more inconsistent compared to Suicune V / Ludicolo, mainly because Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX needs to use Melony every time it wants to hit 250 damage, but even so it’s not such a big problem.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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