Experts' corner

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Daniel Altavilla

I Am > I Buzz + Meta Discussion

Danny goes over his OCIC play and discusses the expected meta.

02/13/2019 by Daniel Altavilla

Hey there 60Cards readers, we left off discussing some Expanded format and messing around with Hitmontop (LT; 113) . I think Hitmontop (LT; 113)  was still a very good play, but I couldn’t allow myself to hop off of Zoroark GX (SLG; 77) / Seismitoad EX (FRF; 20) just yet after seeing fellow writer Jimmy Pendarvis’ results with the deck. Hitmontop (LT; 113)  still has plenty to offer in Expanded, and Team Up adds to those options, so I can’t see myself going into the next Expanded event without heavily testing and considering Hitmontop (LT; 113) . Then, we discussed Malamar (FLI; 51)  in Team Up. While I can see Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Marshadow GX (BUS; 80)  being a very strong play in the current Standard format, I think there are still some decks that have very differing matchups that are worth considering alongside Malamar (FLI; 51) . This article will go over the set as a whole, try to come up with the meta we will see in Australia, and then share the deck I feel has the best chance going into the event.
 With the release of the Team Up set, there are plenty new toys for a lot of decks to start messing around with. Control gains a bunch of options, aggressive decks are at an all-time high right now, Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  finally feels in check, and there are viable Basic, Non-GX, GX, Stage 1, Stage 2, Ultra Beast, etc. decks right now. This is relevant because most archetypes have some amount of viability which means we will see people playing whatever they like and whatever feels right and there will be a ton of decks to deal with. The importance of this is that now we have to play well, draw well, and hit good matchups which could be said about any format but this format is feeling closer to that of Expanded where decks are hitting like trucks and very consistent, and there are so many viable decks that it really will get interesting seeing what does well one week and then falls out of relevancy the next.
 For those who are without the slightest semblance of an idea of a meta, do not fret. I want to establish what I feel the meta will look like going into Australia, because it is important we are on a similar page while you read this article, and I’m sure people are still as lost as I was day 1 of testing SUM-TEU.

Table of contents

Oceania Top Ten

In no particular order, I think the top ten decks we will see at the event are Blacephalon GX (LT; 52) / Naganadel (LT; 108) , Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) , Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 162) , Zapdos (TM; 40) / Jirachi (TM; 99) , Tapu Koko (BW; 31) / Passimian (SUM; 73) , Malamar (FLI; 51) / Marshadow GX (BUS; 80) , Lost March, Granbull (LT; 138)Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 159) and Buzzwole (FLI; 77) / Weavile (UPR; 74) / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) .
 This list of decks covers most of what will exist in Australia, any other decks being either too fringe to mention or just not strong enough in this new meta to coexist alongside these ten.

Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  and Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  are within their own echelon of aggression, but are both glass cannon decks. I think they are very similar, with Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  offering consistency and a less relevant weakness, while Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  offers faster and heavier aggression without having to rely on a Beast Ring (FLI; 102)  turn. I think I admire Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  for being able to switch between a single prize deck and a heavy-hitting GX deck, but I see the allure in Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33)  and currently consider it to be the “deck to beat” going into the event because it is new, fresh, and good. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  is the same as it ever was, though I’d advise to wait at least one event before picking it up so you can have a better idea of what tech cards to put into it. Zapdos (TM; 40) , Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  and Granbull (LT; 138)  all share the same strong qualities – they only give up one Prize, they are pretty fun to play, and they really beat up on the GX decks. The issue they have is that Tag Team Pokemon may have too much HP for them to deal with, and every single prize deck vs single prize deck matchup is an awful time for both parties.

                          

 

Malamar (FLI; 51)  / Marshadow GX (BUS; 80)  is more than likely the best deck in the format, being the only deck that can flawlessly spam an Attacker every turn, and having more support than it knows what to do with. While I’m not sure if Malamar (FLI; 51)  is the best option for Australia any longer, I think it is still a very strong deck and see no reason for people to not play it besides the abysmal Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  matchup and how inconsistent the deck can be at times. Tapu Koko (BW; 31) / Passimian (SUM; 73)  is a very strong single prize deck, but it may be behind the times as the Tag Team decks are going to give it a run for it’s money. It boasts a very favorable matchup against half of the top tier decks, and similarly it cannot beat the other half. This is a risky deck that can be rewarding with the right matchups, and Australia may be a better time than ever to play it because it will be a fairly blind meta and some of the bad matchups might not show up in concentrated enough numbers to completely rule the deck out. While I think Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Control is unplayable in current standard (don’t quote me in case I play control again, I swear at the time of writing this it is awful!), Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1)  is a pretty solid substitute, being somewhat of a control deck that is very consistent, hits hard, heals any damage it takes, and has the longevity to outlast literally any non-Fire deck.

 Be my guest in taking my thoughts and making something out of them, this is where my testing has left me and I’m confident that I have a pretty good understanding of what this meta will be. With that being said, I will go ahead and jump right into Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Weavile (UPR; 74)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  and why I think it is clearly the play for Australia.

BWS 4 OCIC? K.

After touching up on the above section, I’m sure you are still a bit lost on “the play”. It seems that no deck truly has an answer to enough of the meta to feel good about any one particular deck, and that tech options can only go so far in upping Matchup percentage. When faced with a conundrum such as this one, it seems that the best possible option is to just pick your losses. Tell yourself, “I’m okay with an awful X matchup, for Y reasons.” When you do this, it becomes very clear which deck is the best choice. While it may be confirmation bias, this is still enough to give you a calculated decision on what deck to play, which then gives you time to test the ins and outs of the deck and work on tech options. From here, we have a functional deck that beats what you want it to beat and loses to what you want it to lose to. Everything else is determined by skill, matchups, and luck.

So far in my own testing, I think Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Weavile (UPR; 74)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  is the deck with matchups I’m cool taking Losses to. For example, I think the Zapdos (TM; 40)  hype is overshadowed by Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) , so a deck that might not be very strong against Zapdos (TM; 40)  is fine for me. I think Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1)  is a very strong deck, but I think it is somewhat inconsistent and too linear for a lot of people to actually play. Lastly, I think Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74)  will be heavily played, because plenty of strong players in the game like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  and in a blind meta people will default to the deck, especially because it is already strong against most of the archetypes we have gained out of the new set.
 This brings me to my play being a Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  single prize deck. I think Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  cannot handle baby Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  and Mr. Mime (TM; 66)  TEU in the same deck together, and I simply cannot see Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1)  or Zapdos (TM; 40)  being played heavily enough for my tournament to suffer because of my deck choice. There are still some clear issues for Buzzwole (FLI; 77) , so I started the deck as Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Magcargo (CLS; 24)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  with a few open slots to make a sort of “skeleton” for the deck. I quickly put in a heavy Weavile line, because I expect players to rely more on Abilities than they have in the past and I would like to punish them for doing this. The deck quickly became Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Weavile (UPR; 74)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) . It was a quick stream of consciousness that led me to such a deck, so hopefully if you don’t end up playing this deck for Australia you at least learn something from the process I laid out. Either way, here is the list:

3 Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  FLI

  Buzzwole (FLI; 77) is the main attacker of the deck, and you really want to have a Sledgehammer turn every game. Besides the Sledge turn, Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  still applies two-shot pressure, and 130 hp is a bit of a hurdle for decks that can’t afford to trade one prize for two all game. Whenever you have a free attachment you almost always slap it on Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  to threaten a Swing Around.

2 / 2 - 2 / 2 Weavile (UPR; 74)  /  Sneasel (CLS; 86)

 The double 2 / 2 split is oddly specific, but I like having Sneaky Smash as an option for turn one. Sneaky Smash will punish people heavily for attaching turn one, which is nice to have if you had to start a Sneasel (UPR; 73)  or if it will buy you another turn to get set up. The other Sneasel (CLS; 86)  has Beat Up as a desperation attack or for the Dark-weak Giratina (LT; 97)  LOT or Gengar & Mimikyu GX (TM; 53) , for when you really need to attack but don’t have a Weavile (UPR; 74)  as an option. You can attach to Sneasel (CLS; 86)  early then decide to attach again and use Beat Up, which is just a solid option. The Evil Admonition Weavile (UPR; 74)  is going to punish Abilities in the game by hitting heavy numbers, and the Rule of Evil one will punish Ability-based Bench sitters like Jirachi (TM; 99) , Magcargo (CLS; 24) , Oranguru (SUM; 113) , etc. which is fine when you are playing a deck that is conscious of it’s own Rule of Evil and your opponent is not expecting it. This will allow you to catch up in prize trade, set up KOs and apply a ton of pressure for a small cost.

2 - 2  Magcargo (CLS; 24)

  Magcargo (CLS; 24) is the deck’s engine. You can Smooth Over and then Instruct, Lillie (UPR; 125) , Judge Whistle (TM; 194)  or Professor Kukui (SUM; 128)  into whatever you want. Magcargo (CLS; 24)  allows you to play a deck that is so seemingly all over the place by making it cohesive. No, that wasn’t a snail joke.

Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)

  Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74) lets your Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  hit heavier numbers when paired with Beast Energy Prism Star (FLI; 117) , Professor Kukui (SUM; 128)  and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) . Diancie Prism Star (FLI; 74)  is a staple in the deck, and can be your ticket out of the Tapu Koko (BW; 31)  matchup by buying you a couple turns.

Oranguru (SUM; 113)

 Instruct is not necessary for Smooth Over to work in the deck, but it is a strong bench sitter that you can reuse unlike the other options in the deck and you want 1 because your opponent is usually not going to target your Oranguru (SUM; 113) , so when they do you just Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130)  it right back and continue.  

Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)

  Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154) is going to be played in this deck every time. 2 separate Evolution lines means Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)  just helps you to get either one going, so it deserves a slot in the deck.

1 Granbull (LT; 138)  LOT

  Granbull (LT; 138) is going to give us a 2nd Sledgehammer turn, and is going to let us pressure GX decks when Weavile (UPR; 74)  and Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  won’t cut it. If I had a Garbodor (GRI; 51)  GRI line in the deck I would say to leave Granbull (LT; 138)  out, but because we have a 4-4 line of Weavile (UPR; 74)  and no other Stage 1 besides Magcargo (CLS; 24) , the Granbull (LT; 138)  fills the gap for a heavy hitter and doesn’t require anything ridiculous to work, just a 0 card hand. This card truly completes the deck in the same way condiments would complete a sandwich, it feels like something is missing without the Bull.

                         

1 Mr. Mime (TM; 66)  TEU

  Mr. Mime (TM; 66) is in here to spite Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  decks. I absolutely cannot stand people running hot enough to Acerola (BUS; 112)  loop with 2 unevolved Zorua (SLG; 52)  on bench only using one Trade a turn, so Mr. Mime (TM; 66)  forces your opponent to play the game, where usually this deck has the upper hand. I’d even go as far as to say that I think Mr. Mime (TM; 66)  makes Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  an autowin for this deck. You also collateral Golisopod GX (BUS; 17)  decks and any of the annoying Lusamine (CIN; 96)  Stall decks, so that is really sweet.

Supporter Line

 I think 4 Lillie (UPR; 125)  is necessary in this deck because when you explode turn 1 you have the most options for turn 2 which for a Smooth Over deck means you are good to go for the remainder of the game. 3 Guzma (BUS; 115)  is fine with Rule of Evil to clean up KOs you may have missed and Guzma (BUS; 115)  numbers have dropped since the beginning of the season because of everybody attacking so often, making it less and less useful. 1 Cynthia (UPR; 119)  / 1 Judge (FLI; 108)  would be 2 Cynthia (UPR; 119)  if you ran Acro Bike (CLS; 123)  over Judge Whistle (TM; 194) , but I like having 3 VS Seeker (PHF; 109)  for Judge (FLI; 108)  in the deck, because on every big turn you have, if you can afford to Judge (FLI; 108)  and they can’t respond after the Judge (FLI; 108)  you usually just win. Imagine 2 Sledgehammer turns in a row! Cynthia (UPR; 119)  is the better Supporter between the two though, but only because on turn 1 it gives you more things to work with. Professor Kukui (SUM; 128)  replaces Strong Energy (FRF; 104)  in last format’s iteration of this deck, and draws your top card +1, so it is a very good Supporter for this deck.

4 Ultra Ball (FLF; 99)  / 4  Nest Ball (SUM; 123)

 The Ball lines are pretty ideal and simple: consistency and necessity. The deck could run Pokemon Communication (TM; 152) , but usually I’m happy with whichever one of these I am given and don’t often have to go out of my way to find Pokemon anyways, so when you are granted a Ball card off of natural draw you are usually fine.

Judge Whistle (TM; 194)

I explained this a bit above, but you want to be able to spam Judge (FLI; 108)  when you can and you also really want to draw your top card. I Acro Bike (CLS; 123) ’d into the 2 cards I needed for turn so many times that I am done and I think Judge Whistle (TM; 194) is just the gift from the Gods that this deck needed. The only sad part is that you see one less card in the early turns when you are dead drawing, but I think the deck is consistent enough to get past this point often.

Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130)

Recovery is key, most decks are going to be fine with 0 - 1 Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130) , but a deck that relies so heavily on Bench sitters is going to need two of these babies.

Field Blower (GRI; 125)

  Field Blower (GRI; 125) lets us discard Spell Tag (LT; 190) , Bodybuilding Dumbbells (BUS; 113)  and Weakness Policy (BUS; 126) , so while it is more niche than it has ever been, it is still a solid 1-of to have with a ton of potential value.

Switch (CLS; 147)

  Switch (CLS; 147) is just going to help us get out of the Active position, which is usually just because sometimes people will bring up Magcargo (CLS; 24)  and pass to try and buy a turn. Switch (CLS; 147)  has plenty of value, so deserves the spot.

Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)

 This card is fine at a 2-of because it is usually just a PlusPower. If it stays in play for longer than a single turn, it is very strong, but usually your opponent will hold Stadiums when they see your deck.

4 / 4 / 1 Rainbow Energy (CLS; 151)  / Unit Energy FDY (FLI; 118)  / Beast Energy Prism Star (FLI; 117)  

This energy line is going to be ideal because it is straightforward and consistent, charging up your 3 main attackers while still giving you the option to attack with Magcargo (CLS; 24)  if you need to.

Matchups

 Single-Prize attacker decks: 30-70 to 60-40

I want to bunch up all of the Single Prize attacker decks into one because there are just so many of them right now. I think decks like Malamar (FLI; 51)  and Granbull (LT; 138)  have too many necessary Bench sitters to deal with Rule of Evil, so this deck makes short work of them. The Tapu Koko (BW; 31) -based decks are a very poor matchup, but you can come out on top if they whiff for a couple turns, and Zapdos (TM; 40)  can be won with Rule of Evil shenanigans but is a pretty poor overall matchup. Lost March is a wash now because they are playing Emolga (TM; 46) , so they have plenty of options for Bench sitters against your Rule of Evil, and you can get the first KO with a good enough starting hand. The issue for Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  variants was always that the deck couldn’t handle the other one-prizers very well, but now it at least has some solid options.

Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 74) : 70-30

 I know I said the matchup was an autowin above, but to put a realistic number out there 70-30 seems like a solid fit. Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  is so consistent and this deck so iffy on consistency that Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)  will definitely sneak in wins, but I think the matchup is abysmal if Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  sees itself set up. Usually you just pressure until Sledgehammer turn and then clean up with weaviles. Mr. Mime (TM; 66)  is a strong boon for the matchup as well.

Pikachu & Zekrom GX (TM; 33) : 60-40

 This matchup is only rough because your opponent will skip your Sledgehammer turn and will attempt to KO any Magcargo (CLS; 24) , Slugma (CLS; 23)  or Ditto Prism Star (LT; 154)  on board at the same time with Tag Bolt GX. If your opponent slips up a bit or if your response is strong enough, you will win. I’d advise chilling out for a couple turns and setting up an extra Magcargo (CLS; 24)  so you don’t get caught off guard by the GX.

                           

Blacephalon GX (LT; 52)  / Naganadel (LT; 108) : 60-40

 I wish I could say this matchup was any easier, but I’d be lying. The deck has Naganadel (LT; 108)  issues for sure, but if you make it through the Naganadel (LT; 108)  unscathed you will have an easy time against Blacephalon GX (LT; 52) . Usually Granbull (LT; 138)  will clean up a couple Naganadel (LT; 108)  alone, so you want to consider this in set-up phase to try and accommodate multiple turns of All Out.

Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1) : 20-80

I don’t think this deck can provide immediate enough pressure to deal with Celebi & Venusaur GX (TM; 1) , so even if they start off with a dead draw they can get out of it before losing. Your only ways to win this matchup are to spam Judge (FLI; 108)  into Attack until they whiff heal, or to catch them with a hand bad enough to grant you victory before they draw out of the situation.

 That’s the scoop on the deck, complete with Matchups and explanations of why I play what I do. Take this and run with it, I’m excited to see how the deck evolves from this point forward!

Conclusion

 The Top Ten list I mentioned above is a good start for decks to have built to test as or against going into Australia, and Buzzwole (FLI; 77)  / Weavile (UPR; 74)  / Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)  is my current frontrunner for the event. I hope I will have inspired anybody to at the very least follow the deck-picking method I offered, as it really helps to clear a path in your testing. Thanks for reading, and as always check out Dead Draw Gaming, the TeamDDG Youtube channel, and contact me about coaching inquiries! Thanks so much for reading and until next time,

 - Daniel Altavilla

[+29] okko


 

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