02/14/2018 by Tate Whitesell - PokeStats
Hello 60cards readers! The 2018 Oceania International Championships just concluded, and we are now entering a new iteration of the Standard format, with Malmö and Collinsville Regionals not far away. Ultra Prism (UPR) is bringing an assortment of new decks with competitive viability: Metal, with the obvious combo of Magnezone and Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX, could be a tier 1 deck, but Glaceon-GX and Leafeon-GX could be just waiting for the right list to take them to a high finish as well. The set also introduces several solid non-EX/GX decks, which have been largely absent from Standard in recent months: Garchomp, Empoleon, and Alolan Dugtrio. On top of all those, almost all existing decks get the new Supporter Cynthia to work with, and decks like Greninja and Passimian also receive buffs from the new set.
I’ll talk about some expectations for the new format in the second part of this article. To start things off, I’m going to recap Oceania and give you guys some of the most interesting statistics and observations from the event. And for fun, at the end I’ll present my current list for my favorite new deck (though sadly not the best new deck), Garchomp/Lucario.
1. Deck appearances on stream
Buzzwole-GX/Garbodor - 3, 1-1-1
Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX - 11, 4-4-3
Gardevoir-GX/Sylveon-GX - 1, 0-0-1
VikaBulu - 1 - 0-0-1
Volcanion - 3, 1-1-1
Zoroark-GX/Gardevoir-GX - 8, 5-0-3
Zoroark-GX/Golisopod-GX - 6, 1-4-1
Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX - 3, 0-3-0
Only eight different archetypes appeared on stream throughout all 19 stream matches (two Swiss rounds featured two matches on stream). 38 decks on stream, 8 archetypes. This was a pretty “solved” format and the only archetype that was the only one of its kind to make Day 2 was Hoopa stall (9th-place finish under Roland Allen).
Unsurprisingly, of the decks that were featured in more than one stream match, only Zoroark-GX/Gardevoir-GX — the deck that won the entire tournament — went undefeated, with a 5-0-3 record. Although the creators of the deck (Tord Reklev and the Limitless team) were on record as saying Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX was an “autoloss,” they actually went 4-0 vs. BuzzRoc on stream, which is absurd.
Speaking of BuzzRoc, although the deck was “the play” for the top-ranked American players at the tournament, it went a measly 4-4-3 on stream. Michael Pramawat summed up why:
(I, for one, eagerly await to see what Pram’s “more interesting deck” could be!)
2. Volcanion continues a hot streak
As pointed out by the casters, Volcanion has made Top 8 at every International, and the streak did not end in Oceania. Corey Godfrey piloted the deck to Top 8 where he lost to the eventual champion Tord Reklev in what was likely a bad matchup.
Volcanion has also made Day 2 at every Standard Regional so far this season. In 2016-17, it made Day 2 at every Standard Regional for the entire season, according to the PokeStats database. The deck may not win trophies very often, but it has been extremely consistent at putting players in the money since it was released prior to Worlds 2016.
3. Stall decks regressed
People actually began to counter stall decks in some ways in Oceania. A few Buzzwole/Lycanroc or Zoroark/Lycanroc players included a Lycanroc BUS 75 to serve as a non-EX/GX attacker that could OHKO Hoopa — or Xurkitree, with a Choice Band. Other Buzzwole/Lycanroc or Buzzwole/Garbodor players went for Carbink FCO 49, whose Energy Keeper ability protected precious Energy from Crushing Hammer/Enhanced Hammer/Team Flare Grunt/Plumeria.
Stall might be a less effective deck moving forward with Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX one-shotting Wishiwashi-GX, Celesteela-GX, and Regigigas, and Hoopa falling to non-EX/GX decks like Greninja, Garchomp, Empoleon, or Alolan Dugtrio. The only stall deck I could see being solid in the upcoming format is a Wobbuffet-based deck. There is an argument to be made that Sylveon-GX could succeed, but if Metal does become big, I doubt Sylveon can keep up.
1. Don’t count out Volcanion
Volcanion has probably been the most consistently good deck during the entire two-year stretch I’ve been running PokeStats. To see what I mean, check out its meta progression chart for most of the 2016-17 season (a few tournaments at the end of the year are left out, but Volcanion was still present at them too):
Volcanion did not miss Day 2 at a single major event in the entire season after its release at Worlds 2016. It is also the only deck to have made Top 8 at all six International championships so far. The deck has changed with new partners like Turtonator-GX and Ho-Oh-GX, but it always manages to adapt, and the core combo of Volcanion STS and Volcanion-EX is just very powerful.
Volcanion adds another good matchup to its plate with the rise of Metal (although Metal certainly has tricks to beat it), and one of its worst matchups — Gardevoir-GX decks — may see far less play. However, Water decks are returning big time with Glaceon-GX, Greninja, and Empoleon. One of the biggest stories I’m going to follow at St. Louis and Malmo is if Volcanion shows up and, if so, how it is built. If its diehards do decide to play it, I think Enhanced Hammer finds its way back into the list since those three big Water decks play Special Energy as a core part of the strategy (either Splash or DCE). It will be interesting to see if Volcanion has finally reached the end of its competitive viability in Standard or if it will just evolve once more to tackle the new meta.
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