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"Exploring the Dark Side of the (Sun &) Moon" - Changes in the Standard Format

Caleb Gedemer

"Exploring the Dark Side of the (Sun &) Moon"

Changes in the Standard Format

Introduction

Hey Dead Drawers, Caleb back once again today. I recently took home a victory at a Standard format League Challenge. While this is by no means a significant accomplishment, it shed some much needed light on the format that I haven’t been playing very much lately. I tried my very best to “not care” about this event, but being the try-hard that I am, I caved, and spent a few hours cramming to try and figure out the best deck to play for this little League Challenge.

 After some deliberation, I built a turbo Darkrai-EX deck at the last second before going to sleep, and sleeved it up with no testing. I figured my new buddy Tauros-GX would fit nicely in the deck, so I threw him in with a Ninja Boy to see how he would work.

 As of late, the Regional Championship in Anaheim, California recently wrapped up. That event showed us a few new things, along with much of the same. Today you’ll be reading up on what I think about Standard so far with the new format!

Our new Standard format...

The Best Decks

 

Darkrai-EX (with or without Dragon Pokemon-EX)

I’ve been a frequent user of this deck ever since its success in Georgia at a Regional Championship earlier in the year. The hard-hitting nature of Darkrai-EX, along with beefier HP, is very attractive for me and when you throw in a solid non-EX/GX attacker (eg. Yveltal) that can make your opponent take “seven prize cards”, that just sweetens the deal. After this deck took both placings in the finals of Anaheim, that confirms that it can still hit the one-hit knockout numbers against M Pokemon-EX and won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Here comes a big Dark Pulse!

 

While this deck may seem perfect, it isn’t, and sometimes you can fall victim to poor opening hands which completely hinder your setup. This especially applies when you are facing a faster setup deck like Volcanion, and that player can take a knockout on your Yveltal before you have a chance to fill your board with Darkness Energy. Hitting Max Elixirs may seem like a luxury in many decks, but for this one, it’s a necessity. To keep up with the pace of the rest of the decks, you need to be able to take knockouts from as early as sometimes the third or fourth turn. Likewise, by the second turn, you should be hitting for at least 90 or so damage to keep up.

 

As far as match ups go, non-EX/GX Pokemon can cause big problems, since you can’t always keep up the prize trade with your Darkrai-EX attackers. Fighting decks, as unpopular as they may be, are a problem too, but that usually isn’t something you should worry about. M Rayquaza-EX decks can take the cake against Darkrai-EX, so that’s a final point of concern.

 

Pokemon -- 9

Trainers -- 39

Energy -- 12

2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1 Tauros-GX SM 100

4 Darkrai-EX BKP 74

1 Yveltal XY 78

1 Hoopa-EX AOR 36

3 Escape Rope

4 Max Elixir

4 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

3 Silent Lab

1 Hex Maniac

1 Lillie

2 Lysandre

2 N

1 Ninja Boy

1 Professor Kukui

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Exp. Share

2 Fighting Fury Belt

1 Float Stone

12 Darkness Energy

 

List credit to Caleb Gedemer

Quick Thoughts on the List

I’ve been playing turbo Darkrai-EX decks in Standard for a while now, and have a great understanding of them. With the release of Sun & Moon, the deck got a bit better with some of the new cards. I love Tauros-GX in here as a complimentary attacker, and even as a Pokemon to stick in the Active spot while you power up your Darkrai-EXs. Lillie is a decent card and takes place of what was formerly a third N, while Professor Kukui ramps this deck’s damage up even further. Other than that, a lot of this list is what you’re probably used to seeing. Try this out and see if there’s any changes you would make for yourself!

Run and hide!

M Mewtwo-EX (64) / Garbodor

My first favorite deck of the season, and it hasn’t even changed much since its inaugural Top 8 at Florida Regionals. The huge HP of M Mewtwo and its powerful Psychic Infinity aren’t going anywhere soon. To make it even better, though, some played Espeon-GX in Anaheim to bolster Mewtwo’s match up against Giratina-EX, as well as lower-HP Pokemon that are played in decks like Vespiquen. Mewtwo thrives in meta games that consist of lots of M Rayquaza-EX, Vespiquen, and even Volcanion.

 

Mewtwo can be sort of inconsistent, and that’s where its losses usually come from. Fields that centralize on M Gardevoir-EX make things very hard, too, and after the results of Anaheim, I could see that changing soon. Garde is the biggest reason to steer clear of playing Mewtwo, because try as you may, you won’t be able to find a Pokemon that you can play that will beat it.

Going forward, like I said, I expect Garde to find its place atop the charts again, as has been the recurring theme so far this season in the Standard format, and in that, Mewtwo will once again become more of an outlier. Until then, you should always consider Mew’s clone as a great choice for any Standard event.

 

Pokemon -- 15

Trainers -- 34

Energy -- 11

1 Eevee SM 101

1 Espeon-GX SM 61

2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1 Hoopa-EX AOR 36

4 Mewtwo-EX BKT 62

3 M Mewtwo-EX BKT 64

2 Trubbish BKP 56

1 Garbodor BKP 57

4 Mega Turbo

1 Super Rod

2 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

1 Parallel City

2 Shrine of Memories

2 Lysandre

3 N

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Float Stone

4 Mewtwo Spirit Link

4 Double Colorless Energy

7 Psychic Energy

 

List credit to Travis Nunlist

Quick Thoughts on the List

This list is pretty similar to that of Igor Costa’s Top 8 list from the Texas Regional Championship this season. However, there are some very tiny changes. A single copy of Trainers’ Mail and a Hex Maniac were taken out in favor of a 1-1 line of Espeon-GX, which is pretty nifty. M Mewtwo-EX historically has had a hard time with non-EX Pokemon, specifically Yveltal with Pitch-Black Spear. Espeon-GX can serve as a solid backup attacker that deals with Vespiquen, Yveltal, and even Giratina-EX effectively. Going forward, I would continue to play Espeon, especially for its use in the mirror match. Mewtwo lists have become more of a refined art, as you can see, so not much wiggle room exists in the deck’s building process anymore.

High flyin'.

M Rayquaza-EX (76)

Here’s a deck that I’ve grown to at least appreciate. I’ve despised M Rayquaza-EX for ages, but with the way the meta game has shaped up, it does have a lot of great match ups, I will admit that much. Many decks cannot match the quick attacks and high HP of M Ray, and struggle to not only take knockouts, but to set up at all since the pressure comes in fast.

This deck, too, like other M Pokemon-EX decks, can tend to be on the inconsistent side of things. Now this is going to be a huge list, but there’s a lot of other problems this deck has. Its match up against anything with Parallel City is risky, and Parallel along with a Garbodor is pretty much all someone needs to secure a win against it. Energy removal effects are a disaster for Ray, too, and non-EX/GX decks like Vespiquen roll tide against it, too. All these deterrents are enough for me to avoid playing this build, but if you can dodge all of that, I suppose you can still do well at an event as others have before you.

Of all the “top decks”, I think M Ray is by far the most exploitable, and most frail. It’s a combo deck, which means many things need to happen for it to set up. If just one piece is missing, then the cookie can crumble. Likewise, many different strategies can counteract those combinations, like using Garbodor to stop Hoopa-EX, and Shaymin-EX, and Parallel City just dropping a M Rayquaza-EX player’s bench to an unworkable size. I would consider this deck only if you know exactly what you’re expecting to face in a tournament.

 

Pokemon -- 16

Trainers -- 36

Energy -- 8

1 Dragonite-EX EVO 72

3 Rayquaza-EX ROS 75

3 M Rayquaza-EX ROS 76

4 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1 Jirachi PR XY67

3 Hoopa-EX AOR 36

1 Volcanion-EX STS 26

1 Escape Rope

3 Mega Turbo

4 Puzzle of Time

3 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

4 Sky Field

1 Brock’s Grit

1 Hex Maniac

1 Lysandre

1 N

3 Professor Sycamore

1 Skyla

2 Float Stone

3 Rayquaza Spirit Link

4 Double Colorless Energy

4 Fire Energy

 

List credit to Michael Del Rosario

Quick Thoughts on the List

I do like Puzzle of Time in M Rayquaza-EX decks, since it brings a recovery dimension to a deck that is otherwise punished severely for losing resources quickly and getting in tricky spots where an opponent plays cards like Parallel City. Likewise, I love Volcanion-EX and its spot in this list, since it serves as a solid Bench-sitter Pokemon, and Steam Up is amazing to activate Mega Turbos. A few things could be talked over, like Jirachi, Brock’s Grit, or even the Skyla. Test this list out and see if you’d change anything!

"Buzz, buzz."

Vespiquen

After the bees were hyped going into the season, they saw a huge decline in play, as well as results. However, since Georgia Regionals, they have burst back out of the hive and have topped dozens of events. Why? Well, for one, some of the game’s best players are sleeving Vespi up, time and time again. Lists have become more refined, and players continue to not play Karen, although it has risen in popularity slightly in the past few weeks.

Vespiquen hits for one-hit knockouts, while most other decks in Standard go for two-hits. The early game for Vespi can be hard to navigate, and less experienced players with the deck can screw things up. When you’re playing a deck that tries to attack with, for the most part, just a Stage 1 attacker, I can totally see that level of difficulty. Revitalizer can make up for that, somewhat, though.

I’d be wary playing this deck, too, going forward. Karen is sure to be discussed more, at the least. Aside from obvious problems, Vespiquen is a deck where you are going to have to grind away the whole match to get things done. For some that may sound exciting, but to others with less patience, that doesn’t sound all too appealing. As you can tell, I’m not the biggest fan of Vespiquen in the Standard format. It’s a solid choice, but risky.

 

Pokemon -- 28

Trainers -- 28

Energy -- 4

1 Oranguru SM 113

3 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1 Tauros-GX SM 100

2 Zorua BKT 89

2 Zoroark BKT 91

2 Klefki STS 80

4 Combee AOR 9

4 Vespiquen AOR 10

1 Mew-EX DRX 46

4 Unown AOR 30

2 Eevee AOR 63

1 Vaporeon AOR 22

1 Jolteon AOR 26

4 Acro Bike

2 Revitalizer

2 Special Charge

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Forest of Giant Plants

2 Lysandre

2 N

4 Professor Sycamore

2 Float Stone

4 Double Colorless Energy

 

List credit to Rahul Reddy

Quick Thoughts on the List

Like M Mewtwo-EX decks, Vespiquen lists have been refined in many ways, but only the Trainers and Energy (with the except of Stadium cards). Other than those two categories, the Pokemon lineups that players have used tend to differ quite dramatically. I am a big fan of this list, and like the inclusion of Jolteon and Vaporeon to address Pokemon that are weak to those corresponding type changes. I’m skeptical about the inclusion of Oranguru, and would have to personally see it in action to see if it warrants a spot. Other than that, this list looks fantastic, try it!

"Please don't hate me, Caleb."

Yveltal / Garbodor

I really hate this deck too, but that’s just me. I know it’s great, I know it has fantastic match ups all around the board, but the hands I draw with it sometimes, yikes. After a short lack of results, Yveltal popped up again in Anaheim with another Top 8 for its decorated resume. The addition of Tauros-GX to the deck has cranked up the heat, and along with Ninja Boy, can catch players off guard and fills the role of a big attacker in a pinch for the deck.

An Yveltal deck sometimes only needs Energy cards to win games, and that’s why it’s been so good for so long. However, it runs very close with the rest of the pack in Standard, and that’s another deterrent from the deck for me. All of the M Pokemon-EX decks, Gardevoir, Mewtwo, Rayquaza, etcetera, have close to even match ups with the deck, and can blow it away if they get going fast enough. Vespiquen decks can take a set of games if everything goes well, and I am a firm believer that Darkrai-EX decks are favored in most games against Yveltal. With all this in mind, it just doesn’t make sense to me to play a deck that has a limited upside, and tends to be more on the “safe” side of things.

Once again, don’t get me wrong, I can’t argue with results. Yveltal is the winningest deck in Standard this season, and I see no reason why that should stop, I just don’t like it. If you’re personally comfortable with the deck, I would definitely check it out and consider it as a choice for every event you attend. Yveltal seems like it’ll never go out of style, so I guess I’ll keep complaining about my luck with it until it does.

 

Pokemon -- 12

Trainers -- 35

Energy -- 13

2 Shaymin-EX ROS 77

1 Tauros-GX SM 100

1 Yveltal BKT 94

4 Yveltal-EX XY 79

1 Mewtwo EVO 51

2 Trubbish BKP 56

1 Garbodor BKP 57

2 Enhanced Hammer

4 Max Elixir

1 Super Rod

2 Trainers’ Mail

4 Ultra Ball

4 VS Seeker

2 Parallel City

2 Lysandre

3 N

1 Ninja Boy

4 Professor Sycamore

3 Fighting Fury Belt

3 Float Stone

4 Double Colorless Energy

9 Darkness Energy

 

List credit to Jimmy Pendarvis

Quick Thoughts on the List

I really do hate Yveltal, but I do like the inclusion of extra consistency cards that Jimmy always seems to include in his Yveltal lists. Trainers’ Mail helps smooth things over (maybe not for me), and gives the deck an extra explosive dynamic. I’m not personally sure if Enhanced Hammer deserves two slots in this deck any more, maybe just one, but other than that, things are looking great. Mewtwo is obviously a counter to its big brother, M Mewtwo-EX, but it can be cut for something like a Delinquent, perhaps. Tauros-GX makes this deck a whole lot better, and it’s something you should test out.

 

The Play

Turbo Darkrai-EX is absolutely the best deck for any upcoming event, there is no doubt in my mind. I have the more experience with it than any other Standard format deck, and it has everything that I am looking for. I normally like to vary my deck choice, but when I start playing the same deck over and over, then you know that I’ve found something I really like. Darkrai can literally beat anything, which is fantastic. Don’t believe me? Ask me about how I beat two Carbink BREAK decks back to back in the quarterfinals and finals of a League Cup on my way to a first-place finish. ‘rai has it all: consistency, power, and speed. You can’t go wrong with this deck; it’s even fairly simple to play!

Conclusion

Well, that’s a wrap for today. If nothing less, Sun & Moon spruced up Standard just enough that the boringness of playing against the same decks every round is a little more vibrant. I have played in a few smaller Premier Events so far, and have really enjoyed my time competing. The format is looking great, and there are a lot of different decks that can do well. Catch you next time, and good luck at any upcoming events you plan on attending!

Take care!



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