Meta Review for Worlds
Hello everyone! The current Standard format is in an interesting place right now. With no major events taking place in July, there is a month and a half between NAIC and Worlds. This results in a bit of a lull in competitive play, although there are still online Limitless tournaments and the release of the Pokemon GO set to keep players involved.
I touched on the state of the meta in my last article — that is, the format is almost solved. This is due to the top decks being incredibly difficult to counter, which results in a meta that has developed and stabilized much more quickly than usual. Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Arceus VSTAR have established and maintained their stranglehold on the meta because they are extremely powerful, consistent, and well-rounded. It’s hard to imagine any deck being better than them, or even being able to beat them consistently.
There are a host of other decks that see middling play. Mew VMAX has sunk significantly in terms of success, but still sees play consistently. Other decks, such as Blissey V, Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR, and Duraludon VMAX, see fringe play from time to time, and they can perform well given a good run. Online tournaments show us off-meta decks that can snag a top finish here and there, but there aren’t any rogue decks that are worth writing home about.
That said, after playing this format quite a bit, there are a few things I want to point out and discuss. If you plan on playing in any competitive environment for the foreseeable future, a strong understanding of the meta is important, to say the least. This can help you make an informed deck choice and be knowledgeable about your matchups. I won’t be talking about just one or two specific decks today, but instead giving a commentary on all of the main players.
I’ll be ranking the decks as well. Each of these decks can win a major event given the right circumstances, so while the rankings are based on my informed opinions, they aren’t necessarily set in stone. These rankings are my perceived power level of the decks considering the meta surrounding them. Popularity or Tier List rankings would look quite different (though I will still discuss the popularity and threat level of each deck).
9. Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX
Duraludon has had middling popularity for its entire existence. It was written off by several competitive players, myself included, but then it surprised many of us by winning Milwaukee Regionals. However, even after winning that event, it more or less dropped off the face of the earth for NAIC. It has since returned to its middle-of-the-road status in online events.
The biggest problem that Duraludon faces is its poor Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon (AI) matchup. Previously, Duraludon was gatekept out of the format by its miserable Mew matchup, but as Mew declined, AI popped off in popularity. The combination of these two poor matchups is the sole reason that Duraludon is ranked last among the meta decks. I consider the deck to be unplayable as a result.
However, if you somehow dodge those two matchups, this deck looks insane. Its biggest strength is its Palkia matchup, which is not an auto-win but is still solidly favored. Palkia’s popularity is on par with AI, so having this matchup is quite good. Duraludon is a strong deck on its own, and it’s very difficult for most decks to take down two Duraludon VMAX with healing cards mixed in. Because of this, Duraludon is an anti-nonsense deck that naturally beats most miscellaneous things you’ll run into. If you ever find a tournament where you don’t expect much Mew or AI, Duraludon is the play.
I don’t expect Duraludon to be popular going forward, so I would be willing to take a loss to it. If I do run into Duraludon and am not prepared for it, I’ll chalk it up to bad luck.
8. Blissey V
Blissey is a strong deck, and despite its low ranking, it has the potential to do well in any event. It’s only ranked low because the other decks in the format are so good. Blissey’s biggest weakness is that it has a near auto-loss against Flying Pikachu VMAX, which remains a force in the meta after it won NAIC. Blissey also gets trounced by any deck containing Starmie V, which can coincidentally be played by both of the top two decks in the format. Fortunately for Blissey, Starmie has been removed from most decks — it may linger in some Palkia lists but won’t be seen in AI anymore. Blissey had the biggest target on its back at NAIC, following its performance at Milwaukee, but that target has since disappeared.
Blissey destroys AI, and that is a huge point in its favor. It’s also decent against Palkia and Mew. It can run circles around Palkia players who don’t know the matchup, but if they have Starmie, that advantage is offset. It loses to Duraludon, but that may not even be worth mentioning. Aside from that, Flying Pikachu, and Starmie, Blissey has the ability to beat everything while remaining a powerful deck at its core. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Blissey do well, as it has a reasonable chance of sneaking past its bad matchups.
Blissey isn’t popular enough to worry about during deck selection. It is good enough to play, but I think many other decks are just better options.
7. Flying Pikachu VMAX
This is probably the most controversial placement on my list. I don’t think this deck is great in the current meta. It did just win NAIC, but it had a lot of good luck and was piloted by one of the best players — if not the best player — in the world. In my opinion, this deck is just an inferior version of AI, but that deck is so good that even a lesser version of it is quite strong. While the deck does have Flying Pikachu to solve a few matchups, it operates similarly to AI with Trinity Nova and Cheren's Care spam strategies.
Flying Pikachu was incredible when Regigigas and Blissey roamed the lands, but it still has utility for its primary enemy, that being Palkia. The deck goes positive against Palkia, but the matchup is surprisingly contentious for what is supposed to be an example of a hard counter. The Mew matchup can go either way, and is completely dependent on their draws under Path to the Peak, so there’s not much to say about that one.
Flying Pikachu’s biggest weakness is its matchup against AI, especially with AI being at the peak of its popularity. In this matchup, it truly is an inferior version of AI. As long as both decks are able to stabilize, the matchup becomes a resource war that AI always wins. However, Flying Pikachu can still eke out a win through early aggression.
I would not feel comfortable playing this deck, but it is certainly a solid deck that many players continue to use. Its surprise factor has worn off and its anti-meta characteristic along with it. Due to its continued popularity, you should be prepared to face it regardless of how good you think the deck is. I would rather not play a deck that loses to Flying Pikachu, and would only consider doing so if my other matchups were incredible.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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