Experts' corner

Dustin Zimmerman

(Re)setting the Standard

With London now behind us, what does this mean for the future of the Standard format? Dustin shares three unique decks.

11/23/2017 by Dustin Zimmerman

Hello everyone! London has at last come and gone, and with it we are left with a more solid grasp on what incredibly interesting decks the standard format has to offer. Crimson Invasion brought us a handful of new archetypes like Silvally-GX and Buzzwole-GX, and the continued domination of Zoroark-GX was made clear when Tord Reklev miraculously came home with yet another International victory. Among those decks, Gardevoir-GX and Volcanion remained as high-tiered as expected.

If you’re anything like me (not going to San Jose Regionals), you’re taking in all of this new information and wondering how it could influence any upcoming Standard League Cups that are just around the corner. Will players elect to play near-identical lists of the top competitors? Will they simply customize their favorite lists with something new they saw in London? Or will they take everything a step further and attempt to find a new answer that can hold it’s own against the decks of the upper echelon?

The route I take is typically a combination of the second and third options I listed. I value coming up with unique ideas that might catch others by surprise, but of course I also want to build a viable competitive deck. Today I’m going to take you through exactly how I plan on using the information from London and apply that to some standard League Cups I will be attending this upcoming weekend. I’ll look at three entirely different decks, talk through the interesting cards, and analyze how I think their matchups against major decks will play out.


As soon as I began watching streamed games on Friday and Saturday, I noticed that players we’re treating Zoroark-GX as much more than a mere 2-2 line in hopes of added consistency (which is what I had personally anticipated). No, Zoroark-GX was the deck, and excluding Seb Symonds pure darkness variant, Golisopod-GX came out ahead as the partner of choice. This of course shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. With enough Zoroark-GX in play, you essentially become “N proof”. Meaning you can spend an entire game thinning your deck of unwanted fodder, then when you finally are N’d to 1 or 2, not only do you have higher concentrations of what you actually need to finish out the game, but you can continue to dig for them with Trade.

In short, Zoroark-GX is exactly as good as we expected and therefore heavily played.


Furthermore, in an attempt to combat what became known as “Broken Deck” made public by Zach Lesage’s article, many good players took it upon themselves to craft a list featuring Metal type attackers. After all, Max Potion is rendered irrelevant when you’re swinging for OHKO’s on opposing Gardevoir-GX’s. Ultimately, all five decks in the Top 32 of London that featured Metal were paired alongside Silvally-GX.

So if you’re keeping score, that’s two extremely popular decks that feature GX Pokemon weak to Fighting. And because players are smart, four Buzzwole-GX variants also found their way to the Top 32 as well.

Now the question remained—what do I do with this information? What could I possibly bring to my standard League Cups that could help me walk away with 50-100 CP? I thought and thought and thought, and came to some conclusions:


  1. People will play Tord and Zak’s decks, or seek inspiration from their lists heavily.

  2. Each of those has a prominent weakness to Fighting.

  3. Buzzwole-GX is fine and good, but lacks good OHKO potential even against Pokemon that are weak to him (as doing so requires a huge three energy investment). Plus, I didn’t see a good answer to Gardevoir-GX. The spread strategy falls short in my opinion against multiple copies of Max Potion.

  4. Metal is very good. Being able to OHKO Gardevoir-GX with relative ease is crucial.

  5. Enhanced Hammer is an effective strategy against all top-tier decks (excluding Volcanion and Greninja), as seen from Tord’s winning list that played two copies alongside four Puzzle of Time.

  6. Drampa-GX/Garbodor decks underperformed, which could be a good thing for Buzzwole-GX. Though if they do show up again, it’s worth noting that Drampa-GX is also weak to Fighting.

  7. Despite lack of play, Hoopa SLG should be a great card against all top-tier decks. 


I tossed these factors around for a bit and came up with what I believe to be some great plays for League Cups here in the fallout of this major tournament, just keep in mind I’m writing this article only two days after European Internationals has ended. Let’s have a look.



To begin the skeleton for this list, I simply took Teodor Skjaeveland’s Top 8 list. Giving credit where credit is due! The reason I won’t be playing his exact list is because there were some card choices that I didn’t particularly care for. The Lycanroc-GX seems good on paper, but between four copies of Guzma and Buzzwole-GX’s inherent ability to target the bench, it’s just a “win more” card to me. I also found the Max Elixir to be a feeble attempt to compensate for the high cost of Knuckle Impact. The card works for Volcanion, but that’s in conjunction with the non-EX Volcanion for added early-game energy acceleration (and not solely Max Elixir). I want to OHKO Zoroark-GX and Silvally-GX, and I don’t really want to rely on luck to do so.

Enter: Crabominable


I’ve already removed a 2-2 Stage 1 line, so this had no problem making it’s way into the list. I love this card so much because it can apply immediate and reliable pressure. Any single energy attachment, a Choice Band, and you can say goodbye to two of the most popular aforementioned Pokemon in the format. With a Strong Energy, you only need Regirock-EX and no tool. Such easy damage for such a low investment. This is the exact same reason Golisopod-GX sees play. Even against Pokemon not weak to Fighting, swinging into something that has taken previous Jet Punch damage could yield you some nice KO’s. The secondary effect is largely negligible, because if my opponent was forced to damage Crabominable without taking the OHKO, I’m probably winning or at least in a position to take a comfortable prize trade.

Something neat: Just between you and me, a Tapu Lele-GX that has taken a single Jet Punch can fall to a Gusty Hammer with Strong Energy + Choice Band + Regirock-EX.

“Okay,” you might be thinking, “so what’s your answer to Gardevoir-GX?” Which is an entirely fair point. For this, I have looked to Tord’s winning list. Specifically, the strategy of matching their tempo with energy removal (via Enhanced Hammer) and also trying to outpace their Max Potions by you yourself healing away any chip damage (via Acerola). So I’ve added two of each with the spots that I gained cutting the Max Elixir, and I find them to be very nice additions.

I’ve also added a Lillie, because any deck that doesn’t need to Brigette on Turn 1 should have this supporter as an alternative. And with my now three extra tech supporter cards, I added a second copy of Tapu Lele-GX. When adding new cards to an existing list, it’s important to not just make room for your additions, but to understand how they will influence the overall flow of the deck, and consider things you may have originally overlooked.

Other considerations:


1-2 Fighting Fury Belt

Despite not making the above list, this card allows for some very useful math. Jet Punch + Strong Energy + Regirock-EX + Fighting Fury Belt is an OHKO on Trubbish, Frogadier, and Wimpod, plus a 2HKO on Volcanion and Registeel. Not to mention, the added HP boost gives you an even bulkier Buzzwole-GX to sit behind. If you don’t anticipate a heavy amount of Gardevoir decks, a few copies of this could replace Enhanced Hammer.

1 Professor Kukui

Now if you really like the idea of hitting 70 damage with Jet Punch, a Kukui can get you there without needing the Regirock-EX or Fighting Fury Belt. It can also take the place of either Choice Band or Strong Energy when trying to OHKO Zoroark-GX or Silvally-GX with Gutsy Hammer. You just need two of the three cards.

1 Giratina PR

I watched Teodor’s loss against Michael Long in Top 8, where Greninja once again proved it’s capability to overcome a challenging obstacle and pull out some overwhelming victories. Though I believe this list is much better against that matchup (Crabominable can take quick KOs whereas the Lycanroc-GX could not, Enhanced Hammer can remove early Splash Energy, and Acerola can remove heavily damaged Pokemon from play), consider this card if you’re truly afraid.

1-2 Max Potion

Any deck featuring bulky one-energy attackers should at least consider this card. It will always upset an unsuspecting opponent.




You’ll find this deck to be very similar to the deck Grafton Roll piloted to an 11th place finish in London, but combined with the spirit of a list that Travis Nunlist posted two weeks ago on SixPrizes. At it’s core, it takes obvious knowledge and combines it into one deck. Zoroark-GX = good. Silvally-GX with Metal Pokemon = good. What’s there to argue about? The biggest difference here is the inclusion of Counter Energy, and by extension a handful of otherwise unplayable Pokemon that can take advantage of them. It opens the door to a little more flexibility in how you can choose to adjust your list for your unique local metagame. Or for this article, what I expect the general metagame to be in the fallout of this past major tournament.

Since we should all know the core concept and strategy of the deck by now, there’s no need to remind you what Registeel does or anything like that. Instead, I’ll just point out the lesser-seen cards and their functionality against various decks.


1 Cobalion STS

While not a major surprise to see in a deck that features basic Metal energy, it’s worth noting that with Counter Energy you can swing the game with a huge unexpected Revenge Blast. If an opposing Gardevoir player has taken just three prize cards, it’s an OHKO (two if you have a Choice Band attached). Even without Counter Energy, you can still pose the threat by nonchalantly attaching a single energy to it on a previous turn. It’s unlikely that they’ll play Guzma to target it down because it’s an odd prize and you’re sure to have greater threat in play anyway. Plus, it’s good against Pokemon not weak to Metal too! If your opponent has one Prize remaining and you have two, you can swing for a quick 180 to win the game against most EX/GX’s.

1 Reshiram SLG

Not only have Pokemon weak to Fighting increased in popularity, but sort of unexpectedly—so have the Pokemon weak to fire! I speak of course about Golisopod-GX and Registeel. This is a direct answer to them. The first attack, Outrage, is a copy of the classic Reshiram BW that dominated so many seasons. At first it seems underwhelming, but it excels in providing chip damage while acting as a wall. First Impression and Riotous Beating (sans Professor Kukui) come up just 10 damage short of an OHKO, meaning either they have to work on finding a new target, or you will respond with a massive 140 damage for just a DCE. This easily OHKO’s the boys weak to fire, and even puts you in range of knocking out a clean Tapu Lele-GX with just a Choice Band. Or how about this one: you Outrage for a simple 40 damage against an opposing Registeel. If they choose to Turbo Arm, now you can hit back for 100 damage and the KO. This can be a major annoyance for someone struggling to properly set-up their board position.

Scorching Breath in conjunction with Counter Energy remains a threat to keep away any opposing Golisopod-GX looking for cheap KO’s. If at any time over the course of the game you’ve managed to attach a basic metal to the Reshiram, you’re now a single attachment away from a huge shift in tempo against the deck we all just saw win London Internationals.

1 Sudowoodo BKP


Fellas, Watch and Learn + Counter Energy should terrify most opponents. It’s a two-card combo return OHKO on some of the most popular Pokemon in this standard format. Two cards means Mallow + Trade gets you there. Riotous Beating? Same. Turbo Drive? Same. If you at all expect people to copy and play what did well in London, play this card. And did you notice how there’s no restriction against using GX attacks (like there is on Mimikyu)? This means that if you haven’t used your own yet, you could take advantage of others. Twilight GX? Ah that sounds good, don't mind if I do!

Something neat: This is a BIG stretch, but I might as well point it out. Watch and Learn + Counter Energy + Metal Energy + Choice Band against an opposing Gardevoir GX with four energy attached means that you can respond with your own Infinite Force for an OHKO. Wow!

Okay, so we have some techs in the form of one (or two) card copies. As we all know, problems could arise if you ever have to discard them prematurely with Professor Sycamore, prize one, or you simply cannot find the one card you need at the right time. To really make sure that this deck can remain flexible and consistent, cards have been added to combat each of these problems.

  • Four Puzzle of Time can increase the likelihood that you are able to utilize tech cards such as Enhanced Hammer or Sudowoodo more than once (or at least once if they had to be discarded early game).

  • If you’ve studied your deck and deduced what is in your prize cards (as all good players do), the one Gladion becomes a great supporter to have in your arsenal. In addition to grabbing the cards you play a single copy of, think of it as a sort-of “Mini Teammates.” For instance, know for a fact that there’s a Silvally-GX is your prizes and you absolutely need one this turn? Skip the luck of a draw supporter and instead just grab it directly!

  • Mallow is common in Zoroark-GX builds, and for good reason. Use the one copy to grab that Counter Energy or Fighting Memory, no sweat.

1 Keldeo SLG

It’s quite possible that people will show up at League Cups with hoards of Volcanion. It’s an already popular deck that holds up well against the field. If you see some around, add this card. Counter Energy + Resolute Blade will take an OHKO on Volcanion-EX and Turtonator-GX so long as they have four benched Pokemon. If you have a Choice Band, this number drops to two (for the former) and three (the latter).

1 Tapu Koko PR

This tech isn’t just to use Flying Flip (which you could do easily and it would be cool). Rather, the addition of a Tapu Koko would be for the surprise Counter Energy + Electric Ball strategy. Both Ho-oh-GX and Celesteela-GX are OHKO’d in this fashion.

1 Special Charge

Even with four Puzzle of Time, you may want even further assistance in recovering the five special energies, which as you may have guessed play a pretty crucial role in operating the deck.

Quick note before moving along: Don’t be afraid to fall behind on prizes when playing the deck. I know this should be obvious, but it’s been a while since any of us really wanted to do that in a game and thus a hard habit to break. Play conservatively, establish a board position, and don’t overextend for unnecessary prize cards when a return KO from your opponent would leave you with nothing. If you do find yourself at a comfortable pace and actually winning, at that point it’s okay to abandon the Counter Energy strategy. You have the regular crew (Silvally and Zoroark) to keep you going.




With my last article, I ended by showing you my best Golisopod-GX list and how I might tweak it in anticipation for London Internationals. Now that the tournament has passed, I feel now would be a good time to revisit the deck and build a list that addresses what did do well, and thus should continue to do well in standard. It being my pet deck, I still think it’s a pretty good play for all of the reasons I mentioned last month. Though I do admit I’m biased. To get a much better understanding of the deck I’m about to talk about, check out my last article from a month ago! If I can’t convince you that it’s better than Tord’s winning list, I would at least like to pique your interest and have you give it a shot in your playtesting.

The most notable difference is the inclusion of a 2-2 Zoroark-GX line. I can’t ignore the facts, the card is simply unparalleled in adding consistency. Whereas before these spots were reserved for draw in the form of Octillery or Oranguru, one must succumb to what is tested and true. An added benefit is being able to pull my crazy techs (like Multi Switch) out of the deck with Mallow + Trade. Also the four Rainbow Energy means if I’m lucky enough, I can even use Trickster GX!



Moving along, you will notice two copies of Hoopa SLG. As far as I know this card failed to see any success, and if I’m being honest... I don’t get it. Why not? Nearly every popular deck attacks primarily with an EX or GX Pokemon, anything else is usually for supplementary purposes like spread damage (Tapu Koko) or setup (Registeel, Volcanion). Now I know that I should expect four Guzma in every deck, but that’s fine. It keeps the Hoopa alive and forces their supporter for the turn when they could have otherwise drawn cards. I also know that Garbotoxin exists, and that’s fine! You have other attackers in that case. I promise, despite how many legitimate answers there are to Hoopa, it’s very very annoying to deal with and thus has warranted two spots in my list. Just hang back and swing for 80-110 damage.

As for dealing with the best answer to Hoopa, Gallade, I have a strategy. Begin by playing normally as any standard Golisopod-GX deck would, all the while trying not to indicate that you in fact play Hoopa. This should lead most players to evolving all of their available Ralts into Gardevoir-GXs. When they do play the Gallade, try to knock it out with a Crossing Cut GX and switch directly into the now newly benched Hoopa. At that point, they shouldn’t have a good response barring a Guzma (they’ll likely Twilight GX back resources). From then on, any Ralts that are played should be Guzma’d and OHKO’d with Hoopa itself. Just do your best!

Some other new cards not seen in my previous list are the Sudowoodo (the utility of which explained above) and an Enhanced Hammer. The latter is to help further assist the inevitable Gardevoir matchup as much as possible. Again, this is a strategy I am borrowing from the success of many top decks in London. Four of the players in Top 8 ran two copies (Tord, Michael, Eemeli, and Magnus).

Other considerations:


I mentioned a lot of potential tech cards when I previously talked about the deck, and some I’ll mention again. The difference is now I actually have the addition of new found tournament results and evidence to support their inclusions.

1 Magearna-EX STS

To quote myself: “Magearna-EX is a really nice way to punish a Gardevoir-GX that has overextended into taking an OHKO on a fresh Golisopod-GX. Assuming you already have a DCE or Rainbow Energy somewhere in play, an attachment plus a Multi Switch allows you to immediately retaliate with your own OHKO. Occasionally, Mystic Heart can even protect anything with a Rainbow Energy attached from an opponent’s annoying desperation strategy. Including but not limited to: Jirachi’s Stardust, Drampa-GX’s Righteous Edge, Froakie’s Bubble, or Sylveon-GX’s Plea GX."

1 Mew-EX PR

Did anyone else remember this card was legal in standard? I can see it being really good against Buzzwole-GX or even Gallade. Just copy your own First Impression for a quick 240 damage. It’s very likely you’ll be OHKO’d in return, which is why I’m hesitant on the addition. It would take some further testing to figure out whether or not the prize trade is worth it. If you’re in a rough spot and haven’t amassed a good board position, don’t forget you can use your opponents attacks too. I’m looking at you, Alolan Vulpix.

1 Energy Lotto

Don’t laugh. I have been in countless positions where all I need is the one Rainbow Energy or the one DCE and I just whiff, losing tempo and sometimes the game. While Mallow + Trade can certainly remedy this, an Energy Lotto in the place of the third Grass Energy might be even better (I just haven’t tried it yet).

(+)1 Brigette

As it stands currently, this list only plays “14” outs to a good turn one supporter (I am omitting Mallow from the count). In order to meet one required bullet in Tord Reklev’s “Keys to Deckbuilding”, an additional Brigette (and thus a 15th out) could find its way into the list. If you ever draw into them mid to late game, simply Trade them away.

1 Special Charge

With all of this talk on how Enhanced Hammer is doing well, I fully recognize that others may follow suit. As Golibox isn’t immune to this trend, I’ve considered some recovery on my end as well (especially since I do not play Puzzle).


Disclaimer: I’m not trying to say the three decks listed above are in any way “better” than the decks and lists that players have actually piloted to a strong finish. What I will stand by is that they are legitimate, competitive, and worth testing in their own right. All of this is an exercise in taking what we do know (the trends and results from London), and using that to our advantage when building decks.

If you’re not able to attend San Jose Regionals, don’t worry! I’m right here with you in the standard format. What’s important now is to start playtesting as much as you can in preparation for League Cups (and a bit further down the road—Memphis Regionals). The European International Championships gave us a great sample size of decks and lists to reference, all of which can be found on incredible sights like

Even what I’ve shared today doesn’t resonate well with you personally, I at least hope that you can take inspiration from something you read and use it to your advantage. As for me, you can find me in Indianapolis this weekend inevitably playing one these decks. It also goes without saying that I’ll be looking to my friends in TeamNLG to help me further concept and develop these decks to a point where we feel satisfied.

The Pokemon Trading Card game evolves every single day. In order to achieve continued success, one must constantly adapt and be one step ahead of everyone else. Learn from the successes and the mistakes of others, and use accessible knowledge to your advantage.

Thanks for reading, I’ll see you next month in Memphis!




[+11] okko


Thank you for your time. Please leave us your feedback to help us to improve the articles for you! 





Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to see the latest stories. 


Pokémon and its trademarks are ©1995-2018 Nintendo, Creatures, and GAMEFREAK. English card images appearing on this website are the property of The Pokémon Company International, Inc. 60cards is a fan site. Our goal is to promote the Pokemon TCG and help it grow. We are not official in any shape or form, nor affiliated, sponsored, or otherwise endorsed by Nintendo, Creatures, GAMEFREAK, or TPCi.



Welcome to our Pokemon Community Portal. Have a look around and enjoy your stay!