What’s good with it, Some1sPC readers! Roanoke Regionals just passed and we were struck by the impact of Lost Thunder, which showed off just how strong Alolan Ninetales GX, Unown (Hand) and Blacephelon GX are. In this article, I’m going to dive into how I believe the meta will start to develop and go over a few decks I’ve used, including a deck I used to win my local League Cup, Empoleon/Swampert. Let's get started!

State of Standard

Overall, this format isn’t that bad. Even after having a tough run at Roanoke Regionals with Solgaleo GX/Swampert/Ninetales GX, I chalked up my poor performance to some weird variance hitting 3 Shrine spread decks and bad tech choices. Instead of thinking, “This format is trash!” I definitely had a few turns where I believe I could’ve played a bit faster and ended up winning on the last turn of time instead of being just a single turn short. Thus making my 3-2-3 drop more of a learning experience to always play a stadium, as even if Shrine of Punishment Spread isn’t that strong right now, people will still play it. Here’s my issue with Standard:

Marshadow (Let Loose) is becoming one of the dumbest cards to interact with. If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably seen my sarcastic insulting rants about VikaRay and Marshadow. This feeling and thought process hasn’t changed. You can swap out VikaRay for Blacephalon and you’re basically staring at the main problem with this format. A deck that can snowball a lead far too hard and present an opponent with 0 options to make a comeback outside of playing niche cards that can bench snipe just to conquer some kind of turn to avoid Beast Ring. Combine that with a 1 prize, bench ability, that is searchable by 8 cards in your deck (Mysterious Treasure/Ultra Ball) that can turn even your worst matchup into a 2 turn game, simply because your opponent didn’t find any form of draw from 5 cards. Marshadow is ridiculously awful card design and makes for some of the worst interactions I’ve witnessed, experienced, and created in this game. Onto the next problem!

There is a huge lack of a comeback potential in this game. Extremely powerful consistency/draw cards like Zoroark GX, Vulpix/Ninetales GX, Swampert, and Magcargo only snowball the game further out of a player’s control. This is further pushed by the random factor of going first which has felt even more imbalanced than I’ve noticed at any point in the game in the past few years. “Well what about Judge or Marshadow?” Don’t get me started on Marshadow, but Judge is a decent argument. I honestly think the current top tier decks can all come to the point where when you finally get to Judge your opponent, it honestly doesn’t matter if you put their hand at 4. They’re going to use their Pokemon draw engine to find whatever they’re missing, you wasted a supporter for your turn instead of Guzma, and putting them to 5 in hand (after draw) just isn’t the same as getting N’d to 1 or 2.

To add to my comment about “going first feeling more imbalanced than ever,” I think this is supported not only by the draw engines I listed above and Marshadow’s turn 1 Let Loose, but on the sneak, Guzma. If you went first and opened Professor Elm/Lillie, Guzma, and an Energy you probably just completely sealed your opponent’s fate. Previously you needed to hit Draw Supporter, Energy, Lysandre, and Float Stone to just kick your opponent’s starting setup in the face. That 1 less need, that extra switch effect is just so ridiculously powerful in Guzma that it’s sneakily ruining games. I think I feel these effects even more now due to the variety of Pokemon played in each deck I’m piloting and the gained strengths of Stage 2s. Say I go 2nd and open a Basic I don’t want like Tapu Lele or Oranguru then use Professor Elm’s Lecture to grab 1 Vulpix, 1 Ralts/Zorua/Cosmog/Rockruff, and 1 Mudkip/Slugma. I now need to have an Energy to retreat into the Vulpix, hope it doesn’t get KO’d unless I hit another, and be at the mercy of using Beacon for the tough decision if my opponent is going to KO my benched draw or my attacker. Maybe it's the inherent problems with the meta and how we’re pushing it but it just makes Guzma seem that much more insane as a card. I also believe this adversity and tough decision making is why these Stage 2 decks are so ridiculously hard to pilot when you have an awkward start. Many players just fail to find success with these intricate Stage 2 builds due to these misplays.

With that horrible rant out of the way, let's get into the deck!

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