Welcome back Flipsiders! This week I am guiding you towards getting Championship Points in the remaining month of Standard Q2 League Cups. I believe I have the 3 decks that have the best success rates for getting CP and even winning League Cups. I’ll also be going over the SUM-LOT Tier List for the final time, as the next time I analyze a tier list for standard it will include Team Up.
Tier 1 (ordered)
Tier 1.5 (ordered)
Tier 2 (not ordered aside from the top two)
Regigigas/Shuckle/Hoopa & Other similar Stall Variants
Tier 3 (not ordered)
This tier list will be used throughout the article to help us gauge the matchup spread of our Tier 1 decks and help you decide which one is the best choice for your League Cups. Of course since League Cups are much smaller than a Regional Championships and oftentimes will consist of players you know or your friends know, you can usually make a somewhat accurate prediction of what your League Cup meta will consist of. So for example: even though I have Zororoc in Tier 1, you wouldn’t need to take it into consideration when choosing a deck if literally nobody at your League Cup is going to sleeve up Zororoc. This is much different than selecting a deck for a Regionals since at larger events almost every deck imaginable will have some sort of representation.
Blacephalon is fairly consistent, extremely linear, easy to learn, and quite powerful. Marshadow Let Loose naturally fits into the deck due to Mysterious Treasure being a staple search card, so you get the added draw power and disruption of this card that is seeming to take over the current standard meta.
MATCHUPS FROM BLACEPHALON’S PERSPECTIVE
Psychic Malamar Unfavorable
Decidueye/Zoroark/Ninetales Even to Slightly Favorable
Granbull Very Unfavorable to Unfavorable (with Alolan Muk)
Ultra Necrozma Unfavorable
Regigigas/Shuckle/Hoopa & Other similar Stall Variants Unfavorable
Gardevoir/Swampert/Ninetales/Solgaleo Slightly Favorable (based on Let Loose sticking and drawing into Beast Rings)
Lost March Unfavorable
Spread Malamar Very Unfavorable
Sceptile-GX Very Unfavorable
Buzzroc Ninetales Slightly Favorable to Favorable
Vika Ray Even to Slightly Favorable
Vs. the decks I have deemed to be the top 5 of our current meta, Blacephalon has 1 Favorable, 1 Mirror, 1 Even to Slightly Favorable, and 2 Unfavorable matchups. Adding in the Tier 2 decks mostly brings bad matchups for Blacephalon. Blacephalon finds itself in Tier 1 due to its inherent power that is almost unstoppable if their set up is not hindered. A League Cup meta that would be appealing for Blacephalon would be one with Zororoc, Decidueye, Gardy, Buzzwole, and Blacephalon taking up a lot of the meta while Malamar variants and one prize attacker decks are less popular.
Ditto Prism Star and Alolan Muk
Ditto Prism is effectively a 5th Poipole and also the only way in this list to evolve into Alolan Muk. Alolan Muk is useful Vs. ZoroRoc using Giratina LOT for it’s Distortion Door damage, Vs. Malamar variants using Giratina LOT, Buzzwole and Buzzwole-GX decks using Diancie Prism Star, and can help Vs. Granbull by shutting off their Orangurus’ Instruct.
Sophocles Vs. Sightseer
I originally favored Sightseer for its potential to draw 5 cards if you empty your hand, but Sophocles has proved to draw more cards on average due to additional card draw with Heat Factory and also because you may have cards like Beast Ring, Marshadow SHL, and Guzma that you don’t want to discard with Sightseer.
Since the list already plays Mysterious Treasure naturally, Marshadow is an easy inclusion. The Let Loose ability is great against any deck using Beacon Alolan Vulpix like Decidueye or Gardevoir and in general it can put your opponent into bad hands effectively allowing you to win games that you had no business winning.
ZoroRoc needs little introduction as it has been viable in standard for more than 12 months at this point. It always finds a way to adapt to the format, and stays in tier 1 due to this adaptability in addition to its consistency and aggression.
MATCHUPS FROM ZOROROC’S PERSPECTIVE
Psychic Malamar Slightly Favorable to Favorable based on ZoroRoc techs
Blacephalon Unfavorable to slightly unfavorable based on ZoroRoc list
Ultra Necrozma Even
Buzzwole/Friends/Shrine Slightly Unfavorable
Regigigas/Shuckle/Hoopa & Other similar Stall Variants Very Unfavorable
Gardevoir/Swampert/Ninetales/Solgaleo Slightly Favorable to Favorable
Lost March Unfavorable
Spread Malamar Favorable
Buzzroc Ninetales Unfavorable
Vika Ray Slightly Unfavorable
Much like Blacephalon, a lot of Zororoc’s poorer matchups lie within the lower tiers. Use this matchup list alongside the tiers to assess the League Cup meta you are going into.
1 Alolan Muk
Throughout these 3 deck lists, you might notice a trend. They are all playing Marshadow SHL (spoiler for the next one) and they either play Alolan Muk or in Malamar’s case is negatively affected by Alolan Muk. Alolan Muk is very good Vs. Granbull and any opposing Sudowoodo GRI that would limit our own bench space. Alolan Muk isn’t usually good in the ZoroRoc Vs. Malamar matchup since you want to utilize Sudowoodo’s ability.
I think that Psychic Malamar has been criminally underrated since Lost Thunder came out due to its poor Decidueye and Gardevoir matchups. Gardevoir is on the come down, especially in best of 1 tournament structure. Decidueye has several bad matchups like ZoroRoc and Granbull and even more iffy matchups that can go either way like Buzz Garb Shrine and Blacephalon. Neither of these are unwinnable for Malamar due to Malamar’s very high damage output and the annoyance of Chimecho’s Bell of Silence early game. Let’s take a look at my approximation of its matchup spread.
Matchups from Psychic Malamar’s perspective
ZoroRoc Slightly unfavorable to Unfavorable
Psychic Malamar Mirror
Ultra Necrozma Even / Dependent on Let Loose
Regigigas/Shuckle/Hoopa & Other similar Stall Variants Favorable
Passimian Unfavorable to slightly unfavorable
Gardevoir/Swampert/Ninetales/Solgaleo Slightly Unfavorable / dependent on Let Loose
Lost March Favorable
Spread Malamar Unfavorable
Buzzroc Ninetales Favorable
Vika Ray Favorable
Malamar usually has a comfortable matchup versus one prize attackers since the Malamar can cycle Giratina turn after turn while the opponent has to retrieve attackers or preemptively set them up. Malamar is also favorable or even versus every other basic GX attacker deck like Buzzwole-GX (due to weakness and the ability to play from behind), Blacephalon-GX (due to 180 HP being perfect for Moon’s Eclipse to swing into after going behind on prizes and being able to efficiently deal with the Naganadels), and Rayquaza-GX (for similar reasons to the Blacephalon-GX matchup). I’d like to make a special mention here to Edwin Lopez and Jason Annicchiarico for conversing with me about this archetype as they both had valuable input on the lists and matchups.
I think that Malamar has one of, if not the best matchup spread right now. Buzz Garb Shrine is on an incline of play right now, and Blacephalon is ever popular due to its combination of inherent power and low skill floor. The consistency of Malamar is a strong reason to play the deck, as I believe that you have the ability to win or lose matches based on your own playing more than a lot of the other decks will allow.
I made a few changes from Jason’s 14th place Roanoke Regionals list. The changes made were -1 Switch for +1 Escape Rope, -1 Marshadow for +1 Tapu Lele-GX, and the suggestion to consider dropping 1 Giratina LOT for 1 Giratina Prism.
3 Switch / 1 Escape Rope
I have been a fan of 1-2 Adventure Bag and 4 Escape Board instead of Switches and/or Escape Ropes as the Adventure Bag allows you to thin your deck by two cards each time. I recently became fond of Jason’s list from Roanoke Regionals for a few reasons. The Switches work better with the Pokemon lineup here as Necrozma-GX and Giratina LOT can easily get stuck active early and give you a clunky start. Switch is also better than Escape Board versus stall decks as some of them play Mount Lanakila which increases the retreat cost of all basic Pokemon in play. Escape Rope is only good in the mirror match to help get around opposing Moon’s Eclipse GXs, and create potential for an Escape Rope into Guzma play on the Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX.
1 Ditto Prism Star
This is only here to act as a 5th Inkay and I like it more and more as time goes on. Most games that I lose could have been won if I had set up an extra Inkay turn 1. This increases your count of Inkay which directly helps the deck evolve and set up more consistently.
2 Giratina (Consider 1 Giratina Prism)
Giratina is an extremely effective attacker vs other 1 prize attackers as you can use Distortion Door to always get your Giratina back to the bench and put extra damage on the opponent’s bench in the process. The problem lies within the fact that you must place 4 damage counters on one of your Pokemon when you use Giratina’s attack. This is fine versus attackers like Granbull or opposing Giratinas that are going to OHKO your Tina anyway, but against spread variants or weaker attackers like Deoxys, this helps your opponent. Giratina Prism is a great tech for the mirror match as it has 160 HP and swings for 160. This means you will be KO’ing opposing Tinas and Deoxys while your opponent will need to either two-shot Tina Prism or use a GX Pokemon to OHKO it, both being advantageous situations for you.
Season 2 of League Cups runs until February 14th, so there is still plenty of time to earn CP for this quarter. Hopefully my analysis and reasoning for these lists, matchups, and tier lists can help you make an educated choice and find success at Standard League Cups. Let us know if you end up taking down a cup with one of the decks discussed!