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Franco Takahashi

"Jumping Into The Trend" The 3 Popular Decks Post Anaheim Regional and St Louis Regionals

Anaheim Regional is over and Melbourne is getting closer. The meta is starting to shape a form...

03/08/2017 by Franco Takahashi

Now that Anaheim Regional is over and Melbourne is getting closer. The meta is starting to shape a form, Franco decided to take a look at 3 of the most popular decks in the current format and decided to share his thoughts on them taking a close look to each deck.

Introduction

Hello 60 cards readers, this is Franco again.  Now that Sun and Moon was released and Anaheim Regionals is over, I figured the meta is starting to form a shape so I decided to choose 3 decks in the current meta that were mostly played overall and go over them with their characteristics of their strong point and weak point.  There are other decks that are in the meta and performing really well as well but I figured these 3 decks are a well representation of the current meta so whether you are new to the game, or been playing around for a while in the game, hopefully this article can help you to understand what some of the most popular decks in the current meta are and is capable to do.   Also I’ll be posting some of the lists that made Top 8 from Anaheim regionals as reference since I figure most players will be using those lists as a base, it’ll be more likely to encounter to play against decks that were based off from the Top 8 list so I’ve decide that it’ll be a good reference for the readers. Hopefully this article can help you guys out one way or another.

Darkrai EX

This deck is most likely the most played deck in the current standard format, and I will say it is known as the “safe play” in the current meta at the moment like many of you guys may already know.   The deck functionality is quite simple, you utilize cards like Max Elixirs and Oblivion Wing Yveltal to accelerate basic dark energies on board so Darkrai EX’s attack Dark Pulse does more damage until it begins to hit for 180 damage or more.  In addition to Max Elixir and Yveltal that helps the deck to accelerate energies, there are cards EXP Share and Fighting Fury Belt which helps to keep the energies on board.  Due to the fact that there are no trainer card that can practically allows you to remove tool cards from your opponent’s pokemon, it becomes very annoying to play around EXP Share and Fighting Fury Belt which is why the deck is strong in standard format. In addition to this,  Darkrai EX is weak to fighting type, but in the current standard format there aren’t much viable fighting type in the meta that can consistently perform at events.  Passimian can potentially knockout a Darkrai practically but it requires that none of the Passimians to be prized, and if the defending Darkrai has Fighting Fury Belt, then it also requires for Passimian to have some sort of damage output boost like its own Fury Belt or Professor Kukui to knock it out in one shot.  In addition to those factors, Passimian in general is quite of fragile deck having issues versus other deck consistently such as Mega Mewtwo Garbodor, Item lock deck, and many more, thus why Passimian decks doesn’t seem to have a strong presence at events. Another deck that deck that have weakness advantage to Darkrai is Carbink Zygarde; however since Carbink and Zygarde share the same grass weakness which is crucial since Decidueye, Lurantis, and Vespiquen are showing a strong presence in the current meta that is a very risky play to play Carbink Zygarde at major events and as a result, fighting types are not very common due to those factors.  Another great strong aspect about Darkrai is that it only requires 2 energy to attack with Dark Pulse which is very easy with all the energy accelerations cards you play in the deck, this also helps against match up against Yveltal EX and Mega Mewtwo EX Y since it forces your opponent have more energy attached in order to do a massive amount of damage to Darkrai EX. So having a decently bulky Basic attacker that can attack for high amount of damage with low cost seems to be the reason why this deck is doing successful at events overall.  Also since Oblivion Wing can chip in some damage along with the energy acceleration as a non EX basic with 130 HP makes the perfect partner for Darkrai EX. 

Despite of how consistent the deck is, the deck also have some characteristics where sometimes it doesn’t hit high enough to one shot an EX pokemon right away, so it requires few turns to chip off some damage while accelerating with Yveltal or doing the two shot knockout with Darkrai EX.  Those early turns can become a threat for Darkrai decks sometimes like against Mega Rayquaza or any other decks that can knockout Darkrai EX quicker before Darkrai can apply pressure.  The deck generally tends to struggle versus decks like Mega Rayquaza or Mega Gardivor, but it is not an auto lose for Darkrai either since both decks rely heavily on abilities, if Silent Lab stays out on field the field, the match up oftentimes swings towards Darkrai in the long run, however since it is a matter of stadium war issue, it is not guaranteed that Silent Lab will remain on the board most of the time at the right time, thus why those matchups are tricky for Darkrai users.  In addition, since the deck does not hit for 180 or 220 damage right away, often times it becomes tricky for Darkrai players to play around Tauros GX as well.  However, since the deck plays decent amount of Escape Ropes and Lysandre that Tauros GX can give Darkrai a hard time sometimes, but it is not necessary the perfect counter tech for Darkrai either.  None of the less, the deck is very consistent and have a well round match up with most decks in the current meta which is why it is shown statistically its number at the moment.

Mega Mewtwo EX/Garbodor 

Mega Mewtwo is a deck that have been sticking in the meta one way or another since the beginning of the season.  Like I’ve written in my past articles, the deck have a consistent match ups with most of decks in the current meta, and Psychic Infinity is a very strong move along with Damage Change that have  shown many successful showing at different events including at Japanese events as well.  The deck’s characteristic is quite simple, Mega Mewtwo’s Psychic Infinity applies a very fast and strong pressure to your opponent’s pokemon;  since it is a Mega Pokemon, it has 210 HP and it allows you to use Mega Turbo for energy acceleration which it helps to do more damage with Psychic Infinity and if Shrine of Memories is on board, it will allow you to use Damage Change as well, allowing Mewtwo to move off all the damage counters to your opponent’s defending pokemon.  Since there are no tool removing trainer card in the current standard format, Garbodor makes a good partner for Mega Mewtwo as well since Mewtwo doesn’t heavily rely on abilities and shutting down your opponent’s ability will benefit Mewtwo from preventing your opponent to pull tricks against Mewtwo and slowing their set up is very useful.  Since Mewtwo knows Damage Change, if Shrine of Memories is in play, it puts your opponent into an awkward spot where your opponent is forced to either one shot the Mewtwo or put specific amount of damage so damage exchange won’t knock you back.  With the release of the Sun and Moon set, since Anaheim regionals I have seen that many Mega Mewtwo decks begins to add a 1-1 line of Espeon GX as well.  With the addition of Espeon GX, Mewtwo decks were able to gain few additional options in their deck.  With the release of Energy Evolution Eevee, it is very easy to get Espeon GX out into play, the attack Psybeam is a nice attack for low cost hitting for 30 and confusing your opponent can sometimes swing the match under desperate scenarios; its attack Psychic is a powerful attack dealing 60+30 more damage for each energy the defending pokemon have attached so just by having 1 energy, Psychic will do at least 90 damage which is a nice damage output number.  Since Psychic attack hits for weakness unlike Psychic Infinity, Espeon GX will give you nice advantage against mirror match allowing you to one shot their Mewtwos practically, and your opponent is forced to attach 4 energy to M Mewtwo EX to one shot back the Espeon GX which that scenario can also benefit you since now your own Mega Mewtwo only needs 3 energy to revenge knockout that Mega Mewtwo as well.  Furthermore, the GX attack Divide GX is a useful attack overall allowing you to pick up couple knockouts under the right board scenario, and you can target your opponent’s bench damaged pokemon without having to use Lysandre, and it can bypass cards like EXP share since it was placed damage counters and not damage from an attack.  Despite Mewtwo decks already fair amount of Float Stones already, the fact that Espeon GX only have 1 retreat is still nice allowing you to switch attackers easily also.  Similar to Darkrai, the deck is fairly consistent and has a good match ups overall against a lot of the deck.  

However, just like any deck Mewtwo also have a characteristic where since it is a mega evolution deck, it is a like a stage 1 deck that also requires cards like Spirit Links and fair amount of Mega Turbos which it can clunk in the hand sometimes at the very beginning of the game.  In addition to this as I mentioned before, the deck also can have hard time dealing with any attackers that can practically one shot Mega Mewtwo such as Mega Gardivoir, Espeon GX, Mega Rayquaza, Mew EX, Solgaleo GX and other techs.  Yet it showed a very strong showing at Anaheim regionals and having Garbodor as a partner even helps you to matches with abilities like Decidueye and Vileplume which is growing in the meta, and so far the deck is continuing show its strength till this day and still remaining in the top chart of the meta so far.

Vespiquen 

Vespiquen was a deck that earned its spot in the meta ever since the card was released.  Its capability to hit for mass amount of damage late game for Double Colorless Energy is very strong for a stage 1 non EX pokemon that have a free retreat cost.  Since the attack Bee Revenge is an attack that does more damage for any pokemon in the discard, the deck is quite flexible to change its content and techs based on the meta, therefore the shape and vairent of Vepiqune deck have been changing overtime.  The most recent known Vespiquen variants are Dylan Brian’s Vespiquen/Zebstrika variant which it was before the release of Sun and Moon, and the other variant is Rahul Reddy’s Vespiquen/Zoroark/Effect Eevelution variant that performed well at Anaheim regionals which it was played with Sun and Moon expansion.  Since I personally think the Vespiquen/Zoroark Eeveelution variant was well made and it was designed more towards the current meta so I’ll focus into that variant in this article. 

The primary strength of Vespiquen is to take advantage on prize trading against your opponent, since most of the attackers in the deck are non EX pokemons, this allows you to fallback a little early turns to regain control of the board mid game on.  With the release of cards like Lurantis GX and Decidueye GX that has over 200 HP, it is very difficult for Vespiqen to handle it on its own; however utilizing the effect eeveelutions like Jolteon, Vaporeon, and Flareon will help Vespiquen players to hit for weakness and allows you to pick up knockouts quicker and easier.  Zebstrika was a very useful tech to knockout Pokemons like Mega Rayquaza and Yveltal, however despite that those decks are still in the meta, Zoroark seems to be a more versatile tech for Vespiquen allowing you to do more damage overall quickly in most of the matchups unlike how Zebstrika’s damage is very against a specific opponent.  Since Zoroark is also a stage 1, Zoroark will earn the benefit of the effect abilities from the Eeveelutions as well.  As stadium choice, Vespiqne generally run a low count on stadium due to the fact that it plays heavy amount of Pokemons and trainer cards to keep the deck consistent so generally Vespiquen players plays 1 or 2 stadium cards in their decks.  The type of stadiums is generally either Forrest of Giant Plant, Parallel City, or Faded Twon.  Forrest of Giant Plant have a good synergy with Vespiquen allowing you to evolve the combees right away for potential donk or get an immediate attacker on board combining with Revitalizer.  Parallel City is very good to discard your own bench pokemons such as Shaymin EX and other evolution pokemons to prevent from your opponent to take additional prizes or to increase the damage output for Bee Revenge.  Faded town is a very situational stadium, however it is very effective against Mega Evolution decks to put those damage counters to mega pokemons ahead of time to help with the knockouts and same with Forrest of Giant Plant, it also helps to break your opponent’s Parallel City as well.  Another strong key tech in the deck is Mew EX.  Mew EX is a important tech in the deck since it is a Basic Pokemon that can copy Bee Revenge or other attacks, it can bypass Glaceon EX’s Crystal Ray’s attack, and because it is a Psychic type it can also hit Mega Mewtwo EX for Weakness allowing you to pick up early knockouts which it is very helpful for Vespiquen since Mewtwo can Damage Change and Vespiquen needs to wait several turns to discard enough pokemon to one shot the Mega Mewtwo.  In addition to this, Mew EX is also helpful against Giratina EX since Mew EX have 120 HP, even a Fury Belted Giratina cannot one shot the Mew EX which it can give a fighting chance against deck like Darkrai Giratina.  Tauros GX is also a nice tech in the deck allowing you to wall early game against decks like Darkrai EX where they can try to damage the Tauros and potentially knockout and EX through its Mad Bull GX attack or simply apply pressure with Horn Attack and discard pokemons for Vesipuen in the back.  As for Draw engine, the most common draw engine in the deck is approximate of 3 Shaymins with Oranguru for late game to reduce the dead draw from N.  The other variation is a thin line of Shaymin with 2-2 line of Octillery for preventing the late game dead draw from N as well.  The pros of Ocitillery is that it allows you to draw until you have 5 cards in hand so it is stronger draw than Oranguru, however Octillery is a stage 1 therefore it requires sometime to search for Remoraid and hit Octillery to evolve it and it takes more slots in the deck as well.  On the other hand, Oranguru is a basic pokemon which is easier to play, and its attack Psychic allows you to hit Glaceon EX and it is simply a nice alternative option to have it as an attacker under the right circumstances as well.

The deck is very versatile yet fragile early game, and because the deck is fragile and contains different types of cards such as cards that allows you to discard, it requires quite a lot of resource management skill.  Overall the deck does fairly well against most deck in the meta, however the deck is not invincible either.  Because Vespiquen decks only plays Double Colorless Eenergies as their only energies in the deck, Giratina EX’s Chaos Wheel is a major thread for the deck denying you from playing special energies from your hand.  Also if you are not playing any basic attackers such as Mew EX, Tauros GX, or Oranguru, or even Pokemon Ranger, it can struggle to Glaceon EX as well. Another Pokemon that Vespiquen tend to struggle is Umberon GX;  sine Umbreon GX have 200 HP, and it can use Shadow Bullet fairly quickly, Vespiquen have trouble dealing with the quick 90 damage to the active and 30 damage to the putting a big pressure to the bench which eventually the Umbreon player will pick a crucial knockout for prize trade advantage, or disrupt the Vespiquen player’s set up.  Another counter card which is a threat to Vespiquen is Karen.  Vespiquen also tends to struggle against Decidueye Vileplume as well since Vespiquen decks does not have a heavy line of supporter cards, and Decidueye GX’s Feather Arrow can snipe Combees easily as well that makes a difficult match for Vespiquen if they set up fast.  One of the major reason Vespiquen was able to perform well at events was because not many players played Karen in their deck, since Karen is a very situational card and can also benefit your opponent sometimes as well so it is a card that players will generally opt out to play in their decks, however Karen is a very effective card against Vespiquen mid game on since there’s no card like Battle Compressor in standard format, it becomes difficult to discard all those pokemons again, thus why Karen is a good way to counter Vespiquen.

Conclusion

As a conclusion,  there are many other deck that are performing strong in the current meta after Sun and Moon expansion was released such as Darkrai/Giratina, Decidueye/Vileplume/Lugia/Tauros, Yveltal/Garbodor/Tauros, and other decks.  But I figured I decided to choose these 3 major decks and go over since they are the type of decks that represents the current standard format at the moment, and they were also played in a significant amount in the meta as well so those were the reason behind the deck choices.  Darkrai is a deck that have a good match up with many decks in the meta since it is a basic attacker that is bulky with Fighting Fury Belt and it can swing for a lot of damage mid game on for a low cost of 2 energies and have few weakness that have showed a strong performance at the recent events.  Mega Mewtwo is a deck that is still in the top tier meta since the beginning of the season Psychic Infinity and Damage Change still been one of the best attacks in the game and now with the release of Sun and Moon, it gained additional support like Espeon GX improving itself and still proving to be one of the top tier and a good performance in the current meta.  Vespiquen is one of the deck that was in the meta ever since its card release but it momentary faded away after the release of Karen, but since Karen wasn’t heavily played among players, it managed its way back into the meta with its diverse techs and support pokemons like Zoroark, and Effect ability Eeveelutions providing Vespiquen a good match ups against a lot of the decks in the current meta.  So far this format is very match up based and not much time have been since the release of Sun and Moon, therefore the meta might change/shift again over time or a new archetype might appear into the meta based on the current meta situation.  Overall thank you very much for reading my article, and stay tuned to my next article and feel free to check our Youtube channel The Chaos Gym as well, and as usual feel free to say hi to me if you see me at event, till then see you guys until next time!

Franco

[+11] okko


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