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.

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