London EUIC – a look back and beyond

Welcome everyone!

With London behind us and further tournaments approaching, among them what seems to become the biggest Regional Championship of all time, I think it’s time to take a renewed look at the format and its decks. A lot has changed since my last article, most notably the rise of Zoroark and fall of Garbodor. Instead of being the Gardevoir against Garbodor face-off most people expected, London turned out much more diverse and got dominated by a bunch of completely new archetypes.

Let’s first take a look at my own London experience.

London Report

In the days leading up to the tournament I started leaning towards Golisopod a lot. The list with Zoroark I posted was putting up solid results against Gardevoir, and the teched out Golisopod Garbodor list that a lot of Germans ended up playing seemed like a good pick as well.

At that point Philip was already quite confident in his Drampa Celesteela Garbodor list. I wasn’t as big of a fan of it, but still kept it in my mind as a back-up plan and got convinced it would be a better play than the Espeon version.

Two days before leaving for London we talked with Tord and exchanged our ideas, during which he brought up the quad Zoroark with Golisopod concept that he was very confident in. I liked it a lot and acknowledged it to be superior to the GoliZoro deck I’ve been testing. After playing some games against Gardevoir and seeing it hold up well, it instantly became my favorite pick for the tournament.

On Thursday I talked some more with Tord and Benji who were still super convinced that the deck’s the play, so I didn’t see a reason to not go with it as well. They mentioned adding Mewtwo, and it made a lot of sense, but I felt uncomfortable cutting the 4th Grass Energy that has been in the deck for the whole time during the one day I got to extensively test it, so I decided to remove the BKT Zoroark instead, as I don’t think I even used it once.

In hindsight, I think this was a fine decision for the day. I didn’t miss the Zoroark at all while the additional Energy made some games easier. For the future, I’d probably put it back in though. The situations of its usefulness didn’t occur during my tournament, but I’ve still seen a lot more of them by now, and some seem important enough. E.g. I’ve played a lot more Gardevoir ever since London, and them being able to OHKO Gallade with Zoroark if I have a full bench is quite relevant.

The tournament went like this for me:

“Guzma, First Impression”

R1 Golisopod Octillery WW
R2 Drampa Garbodor WW
R3 Gardevoir Sylveon LWW
R4 Volcanion LWT
R5 Buzzwole Lycanroc LWW
R6 Decidueye Zoroark LWW
R7 Zoroark Golisopod WLT
R8 Golisopod Zoroark WLW
R9 ID
6-0-3 Day 1

R10 Golisopod Garbodor WW
R11 broken Gardevoir WW
R12 Silvally Metal LL
R13 Decidueye Zoroark Buzzwole LWL
R14 broken Gardevoir WLT
8-2-4

The first day started off well with two quick wins against favourable matchups, then a much closer series against Gardevoir where I was struggling a lot but was ultimately able to win thanks to Mewtwo. The fourth round featured two close games against a regular Volcanion list, both came down to the last prize, and didn’t leave much time for a third one.

In round 5 I was swiftly overrun by Teodor’s Buzzwole deck in the first game, but managed to bring it back, once again thanks to Mewtwo. The following match was the streamed one against Gustavo, where I benefited from him not being able to set up at all in games 2 and 3.

Round 7 had me play the mirror against Magnus, ending in two long games and the appropriate tie. Round 8 almost ended in a tie again after I failed to concede the second game in time, but I was barely able to close out the match against the puzzle-less mirror in the third turn of timeout, phew!

At this point I was almost guaranteed for Top 32 already, but decided to call it a day anyway and took the ID against my friend Marc.

We ended up getting paired against each other again at the start of day 2, this time playing it out. Game 1 was close and could have ended either way, but in the second one my matchup advantage really showed and resulted in a convincing win. The second round against Alex went equally well for me, he drew very poorly, and I was able to simply Guzma something up every turn without much to worry about.

From there on everything went downhill though. First, I suffered what’s probably the most frustrating loss in a long time against Zak’s Silvally deck, and then got my Top 8 dreams buried by a perfect Decidueye setup in the third game of Round 13.

The last round was a fun match against Michael’s Gardevoir deck, but ended in a tie and with both of us bubbling out of Top 16, oh well.

In the end I was a bit sad that couldn’t make it further even though having what felt like the best deck for the tournament, but Top 32 is still a success nevertheless! It leaves me just shy of Top 4 in Europe, but I hope I’ll be able to make it to Sydney anyway for the second IC of the season.

Post London – Is Decidueye good?

Coming off a solid finish in London and after seeing Tord win again, I was motivated and jumped straight into testing when back home. The first deck that caught my interest was Decidueye Zoroark. Seeing players like Igor and Gustavo pick the deck, as well as taking losses to it myself, renewed my belief in its potential, and I also saw it as a potential counter to the winning deck.

However, after testing it for a few days and getting in about 50 games, I dropped it as an option for my upcoming League Cup. While it does certainly have its strong points, it just felt overall a lot weaker than the other options.

The main problems I had were the following:

  • The “Brokenvoir” matchup. Max Potions make the devolve approach almost non-viable, and the deck doesn’t have a good attacker for the matchup. Zoroark gets demolished by Gallade and there’s no good way of dealing with it besides using a new Zoroark and some Feather Arrows, and hoping they can’t get up a second one. I tried the Buzzwole version, and it seemed better because Buzzwole is actually a viable Pokemon to use against Gardevoir, but even then, it just feels unfavoured. Parallel City is also a big annoyance.
  • The Greninja matchup. I’m not sure how one is supposed to beat them besides getting lucky and somehow setting up two attacking Decidueyes that manage to carry through the game. Shadow Stitching combined with Enhanced Hammers shuts the deck down quite well.
  • Zoroark/Golisopod doesn’t seem to be the favoured matchup it should be. Instead, it just comes down to set-up. If Decidueye manages to get up two big owls quickly enough, then sure you win, but if you whiff Candies for a bit and they Guzma the Rowlet or Dartrix away, it’s their game.
  • Other decks like Volcanion are beatable, but not favourable, so might as well just play Zoroark Golisopod instead. Fighting decks are also harder to deal with due to the lack of a proper non-weak attacker.

In the end I just didn’t see enough advantages anymore and instead a lot of holes, so I turned my attention away from it.

Week after – League Cup with Gardevoir

With a League Cup approaching, and them being rather rare around our area, I needed a good and reliable deck to take home some points.

The first thought would obviously be to just go with Zoroark Golisopod again, but I also have a high opinion of Gardevoir aka broken deck, and thought playing that would give me a bit more control over the matchup against other Zoroark players. For the record, I don’t think it is particularly favoured for Gardevoir, but I do think that the Zoroark Golisopod player must play perfectly for it to be close (and who besides Tord can do that consistenly), which made me confident in being able to take mostly wins there.

Also, any hard counter to Zoroark, like Sylveon Mill or a Crabominable deck, gets completely destroyed by Gardevoir, so that’s a nice bonus for a tournament the week after London.

The go-to list now is of course Christopher’s Top 4 London list, and after testing it for a while, I didn’t see a reason to change anything except for adding a 2nd Psychic Ralts and a single Fairy Kirlia over the 3rd Psychic one. I would like to have a 2nd Remoraid, but don’t know if it’s worth it over other cards, so for now would just leave the list as is.

The League Cup went smoothly, I finished Swiss with a 3-0-2 score after beating VikaBulu, Ninetales and Gardevoir, and tying to Zoroark Golisopod and Mirror. In Top 4 I won a close series against the ZoroPod, and then won the Finals against a Zoroark Buzzwole.

The deck really does feel insanely strong, and will remain a good option for all upcoming tournaments in this format.

Outlook for the future

So now as we’re heading towards Memphis and Turin, how do the known decks change and what’s the play?

Based on London, our tier list looks something like this:

Tier 1
Zoroark Golisopod
Gardevoir

Tier 2
Buzzwole
Silvally
Greninja

Tier 3
Volcanion
Decidueye Zoroark
Zoroark Fighting
Garbodor decks

Zoroark and Gardevoir seem to be the best decks by a significant margin. Both have ways to deal with every deck below them and thus no real bad matchups outside of some wacky hard counters. In addition, both require a lot of skill to pilot perfectly in my opinion. It’s hard to believe the format is already “solved” after only a single big tournament, so we might still see some shifts, but I believe both decks will be good and safe choices no matter what. A rapid fall like what happened to Garbodor is hard to imagine.

While I mentioned that I wouldn’t change anything about the typical Gardevoir list, there will probably be some minor changes to Tord’s winning deck. A lot of players are cutting the 4th Field Blower in favour of a 4th Acerola to increase their odds in the mirror a bit, and I think that’s a very reasonable decision. Other cards that could maybe get added to help in the mirror are Max Potion and Professor Kukui. Max Potion can bail you out when you whiff the Acerola, or enable to heal and Guzma in the same turn, while Kukui can help the little Zoroark reach 210 damage for a OHKO.

I would however be careful with removing techs like the Mewtwo or Mr. Mime, both add a lot of value to the deck and drastically impact certain matchups.

Greninja is in an interesting place, as it’s one of the only decks that has a favourable Gardevoir matchup, at least as long as they don’t tech the Giratina promo. It can also hold its own against Zoroark, especially when adding back Espeon-EX into the deck. Its worst matchup, Golisopod Garbodor, is taking a step back at the moment. All that makes me believe that Michael’s success in London can be replicated, but problems like the existence of Giratina remain.

Buzzwole and Silvally are two new archetypes that saw a good amount of success in London. Unfortunately, I personally have close to zero experience with either of them, so I can’t give you much insight here, but especially the Buzzwole Lycanroc deck has impressed me and I could see that becoming an important contender as the format progresses.

As for the decks listed under Tier 3, I don’t think either will become a dominant force as all of them have clear problems, but they should remain at least somewhat relevant as they also have some good traits. Garbodor is an interesting one, it’s really good against almost everything non tier 1, but stands little chance against Tord’s deck. It will be interesting to see whether it can make a comeback in some way. Writing off the most format wrapping card of the past 6 months seems foolish, but then again losing to what may be the most popular deck going forward is a pretty good argument to stop playing it.

And with that I’ll leave it for today, hope you enjoyed this shorter article! Standard is in a pretty good place right now in my opinion and I’m excited to compete in more tournaments soon.
I’d also like to say thanks for all the support and kind words on my previous article!

Until next time,
Robin

5 Responses

  1. Richard

    Thanks what happened v Zak? That’s an interesting matchup and I’m surprised you lost 2-0. Bad setup?

    Also, do you like Celesteela as a card?

    thanks!

    1. Robin Schulz

      It’s not a bad matchups, but I wasn’t very familiar with it, approached the first game wrongly and didn’t draw well enough to do what I wanted. I would have won the second one and had win in hand, but didn’t pay attention and put down the wrong card (where I should have just revealed my hand instead of slamming it down) which I was then forced to play, resulting in the loss. Definitely very avoidable and thus frustrating loss, and sadly ended up being the turning point of my tournament, but we learn from those.

      I like Celesteela, and think it’s very good in the deck Philip played, but Zoroark counters that quite well right now, and once the next set hits, Celesteela will probably be outclassed by the newer Metal Pokemon.

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