Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be bringing you all another article! Last time I talked about the return of Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX in the Standard format with reference two different variants of the deck, one with Mewtwo VSTAR and one with Solrock. Since then, Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX has seen some moderate success in the online tournament space, putting up decent results with many Top 8 finishes. However, the deck is still far from achieving its former glory: being the borderline uncontested best deck in the format. Speaking of the online tournament space, that is where we are seeing the Pokemon GO expansion fully develop leading into the World Championship later this month. As of right now, the meta is pretty significantly different from how it was at the North America International Championship, so how about we take a look at the complete Standard format metagame?
A Brief Meta Snapshot
In the months since the North America International Championship, the meta has shifted a fair amount, partly due to the community’s reaction to the results of that event, but also due to the release of the Pokemon GO expansion in early July. In order to discuss the meta in full, though, we must first start with a map of the meta, which I will put in the form of a tier list.
When I make a tier list for Pokemon, I generally break it down into several tiers, but for the sake of this article, I will be focusing on my uppermost tiers, Tier One and Tier Two. I prefer to omit an “S Tier” or “Tier Zero” because I think that term should be reserved for only the most dominant of decks, such as Zoroark-GX in the 2018 Expanded formats. To me, Tier One represents the top decks of the format — the decks to beat, so to speak. Decks in Tier One are typically the decks at the front of everyone’s mind when they are preparing for a Pokemon TCG tournament. On the other hand, Tier Two decks are the decks that are a little less popular, but are able to prove that they are powerful through consistently strong results, even if they are unable to put up several Top 8 finishes at a single event like a Tier One deck typically does.
- Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX / Bibarel
- Mew VMAX
- Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX / Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR
- Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR
- Arceus VSTAR / Mewtwo V-UNION
A lot of this tier list should come as unsurprising to most players, but some of the other placements may seem a bit questionable. I am going to address each of these decks at least briefly, so be prepared!
First, Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR / Inteleon is far and away the best deck in Standard right now. The deck can easily handle almost anything the format throws at it, not even consistently taking losses against decks that should be favored. Between its nearly unmatched aggression, explosive game plan, and one of the strongest late games in the format, it should be easy to see why Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR is the number-one deck in the game right now.
Next on our agenda is Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon, which has one of the most straightforward game plans in the format right now. It pretty much entirely relies on looping Cheren's Care in order to slowly beat down the opponent with Trinity Nova each turn, and unlike many decks in the format that like to win the game quickly, Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon prefers to see the game last longer in order to maximize the value it gets from Cheren’s Care. I am not a huge fan of this deck myself, as I have found it a bit frail against Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, as well as fairly boring to play, but I do think the deck is strong if it can execute its game plan properly. Additionally, the deck is flexible, and can fit in Radiant Charizard and more Choice Belt to shift to a more aggressive game plan rather than focusing on attrition.
You may have noticed the asterisk next to Mewtwo V-UNION / Miltank. I put it there because, while Mewtwo V-UNION has the matchup spread of a Tier One deck, it is not nearly as popular as the actual Tier One decks. Many players avoid playing it due to a fear of tying, as the deck is prone to taking 25 minutes or more to win a game. With that said, the deck is extremely strong, with solid game plans against almost every other deck in the game.
Moving into Tier Two, we see Azul Garcia Griego’s North America International Championship–winning Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX / Bibarel deck. This deck has fallen a bit out of favor since Azul’s big win, but the deck is still strong for all the same reasons. As always, the combination of Marnie and Path to the Peak proves to be a powerful means of slowing the opponent down, while your deck, which has very basic needs when it comes to setting up, is able to continue doing what it needs to do while feeling minimal effects from its own Marnie.
Mew VMAX is an oddity in the Standard format. The deck did not really lose anything per se, but as more Pokemon VSTAR enter the format, the format has started to catch up to Mew VMAX’s power level, turning the deck into a fairer choice than it was in the Fusion Strike format. Still, the deck is in a decent spot, with the potential to beat the opponent down with consistent aggression and the potential to win games against some of the highest-HP Pokemon in the format, such as Mewtwo V-UNION and Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, through one-hit Knock Outs. Just hit an out to a Stadium card after a Roxanne–plus–Path to the Peak combo and you should be in great shape!
Speaking of Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, pairing it with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR has started to become more popular lately, largely thanks to the lower HP of the average Pokemon VSTAR. An Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX with a Choice Belt can make quick work of multiple attackers, where other decks struggle to chain together so many Knock Outs. Unfortunately, this deck can sometimes struggle with consistency, but it is one of the most powerful decks in the format if it can get itself off the ground.
Next, we see one of the more strange choices to include on my tier list: Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR. Many players would claim that this deck is much worse than Tier Two, and in some ways they may be right. However, I think this largely stems from the deck’s inconsistency rather than any true failing of the concept, much like the old Greninja BREAK deck. Star Chronos remains one of the strongest attacks in the game, and taking advantage of it is quite easy in the current metagame, filled to the brim with Pokemon V that it can easily Knock Out. In my opinion, Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR is also an incredibly strong play for the World Championship because the deck’s games go extremely fast, making ties an extremely rare occurrence — perfect for Day One in particular.
Finally, the last deck on my tier list may come as a bit of a shock. I mean, Arceus VSTAR with a partner is very typical right now in Standard, but partnering it with Mewtwo V-UNION, a card best known for its stall abilities? How does that work? Well, allow me to explain this in depth with the remainder of this article.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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