Hey guys! My name is Justin Bokhari and I’m very excited to be contributing to Some1spc today. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a master player from New Jersey. My brother, sister and I have been playing the Pokemon TCG competitively since 2008. I don’t like boasting about myself, but I feel that I should give some of my background and history within the game. I was very active between 2008 and 2012. During this time I got Top 16 and 32 at Worlds, Top 32 at Nationals, won NY States and had several top cuts at Regionals. I ended up taking a little break after the 2012 season and came back during the 2015-2016 season. Since then I have won NJ States, made day 2 of Worlds in 2016, made Top 32 at the London 2016 IC, and have made day 2 at 11 Regionals. Many of you might have also heard of my brother, who won worlds in the Senior Division last year. My family has been involved in the game for a long time and I believe we have the experience of competing at the highest level. I hope to share that experience with you all today.

In this article, I’ll be addressing the rotation of the Standard Format and provide insight into a deck that I believe to be strong heading into Philly Regionals.

Table of Contents

The New Standard
Initial Thoughts
Buzzwole/Lycanroc
Conclusion

The New Standard

If you hadn’t heard yet, we just had a major rotation happen in the Pokemon trading card game. The Standard Format is about to go through a shakeup. Some of the major cards we lost are Sycamore, N, Bridgette, Puzzle of Time, Max Elixir, Octillery, Float Stone, Super Rod, Garbotoxin Garbodor, Mew EX, Strong Energy and Parallel City. As you can see, a lot of polarizing and format defining cards are being rotated out. I’m going to go over how losing these powerful cards impacts the format today and give some potential replacements for these cards.

1. Professor Sycamore

Ah, everybody’s favorite instant draw supporter. I think every deck last year played at least one Sycamore and for good reason. The ability to draw seven cards while potentially thinning your deck was a very strong combo. The loss of Sycamore will cause a lot of decks to slow down and will open the door for other draw supporters to see play.
Lillie saw some play last format in decks like Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt and Buzz Garb because those decks wanted to see as many cards as possible turn one to pull off their respective combos, but outside of that, it wasn’t played very much. I believe that all decks, outside of Zoroark decks, will begin to run heavier counts of Lillie. Lillie turn one is still very strong and without Sycamore this is your most efficient way to draw cards.
I also believe that TV Reporter and Sophocles will begin to see play. It is hard to use Lillie efficiently throughout the game because your hand size might get stuck. This is where TV Reporter and Sophocles come into play. Both cards allow you to draw cards and potentially thin your deck of cards that might not be useful for the match-up. I personally like TV Reporter over Sophocles because you get to draw your cards first then discard. This lets you see your whole hand before you decide what you want to discard.
Lastly, I believe Hala should be played in decks that can utilize its GX attack early. If you can use your GX attack early, Hala is just a better Cynthia.

Possible replacements: Hala, Copycat, Lillie, TV Reporter

2. N

It has been quite a while since N wasn’t in the format. This card is one of the most powerful disruption cards ever printed and the format will change quite a bit without it. No more will you have to worry about getting N'd to one and losing the game because of it, but that also means that you can’t do the same thing to your opponent. Without N, I believe decks lose a lot of their comeback potential. Now if you fall behind, the best hope you have of disrupting your opponent’s hand is Judge. Most decks can still function and have the desired cards they need at four cards. Outside of Judge, the only real forms of hand disruption are Ilima and Marshadow. Because of this I believe decks will begin to take one of two approaches, decks will either play heavy Judge or Marshadow in hopes of Judging or Marshadowing their opponents out of the game turn one or they’ll play zero copies of these cards and just focus on a heavy draw engine so their deck can combat this strategy.

Possible replacements: Judge

3. Brigette

Brigette was the main basic search card for most Stage 1 and Stage 2 decks. Without it, most decks will have to go to a ball search engine or use Pokemon Fan Club. Pokemon Fan Club is still in the format, but I personally never liked the card. I think it is more efficient to just Ultra Ball or Nest for a basic and play another supporter rather than using Fan Club for the turn. I believe most decks will begin to transition to a more ball oriented engine to search out basics. I think a common engine will look something like four Ultra Ball, three Nest Ball, and X number of Mysterious Treasure depending on if you run psychic Pokemon.

Possible Replacements: Apricorn Maker, Nest Ball, Pokemon Fan Club

4. Puzzle of Time

Another one of Zoroarks major tools is getting rotated. After Tord introduced the engine during the London IC last year, almost all Zoroark decks began to run the puzzle engine and Zoroark decks never looked back. Without the puzzle engine, Zoroark decks won’t be able to abuse one-ofs efficiently. They can still get them back by using Oranguru’s Resource Management attack, but it won’t go immediately to the hand. This will force Zoroark decks to run multiple copies of cards to make sure they have it when they need it. I also think this will force all Zoroark decks to play Resource Management Oranguru so they can reuse their resources.

Possible Replacements: Oranguru (Resource Management)

5. Max Elixir

One of the best energy accelerators used last format. This card helped aggressive decks set up attackers and overwhelm opponents. Without this card, the best item energy accelerator is Beast Ring. Decks like Lapras and Buzzwole become slower and have to be built differently. For example, Buzzwole will now have to play a heavier Beast Ring and Buzzwole GX line so it can get the most value out of Beast Ring turns.

Possible Replacements: Beast Ring

6. Octillery

Everyone’s favorite hand refresher is no more. This card was the best auxiliary draw support Pokemon outside of Zoroark. Losing Octillery will slow down non-Zoroark decks. Decks like Buzzwole will have to play more draw supporters to compensate for lack of Octillery.

Possible Replacements: Oranguru (Instruct), Zoroark GX

7. Float Stone

The loss of Float Stone removes a lot of the mobility most decks had last format. Every deck that didn’t run solely free retreaters ran Float Stone. Decks will now have to utilize cards like Tate and Liza, Escape Rope and Escape Board to have some sort of mobility. Decks that have only one retreat Pokemon can still get the same effect of Float Stone by using Escape Board. Some other decks like Malamar can make up for the loss of Float Stone by playing Altar of the Moon. Altar of the Moon allows Pokemon with psychic or dark energy attached to it to have two less retreat. So, even though Float Stone is a major loss, there are ways to compensate for its loss.

Possible Replacements: Tate and Liza, Escape Rope, Escape Board, Altar of the Moon

8. Super Rod

Super rod was one of the best recovery cards utilized last format. Most decks that didn’t play Puzzle of Time at least played one Super Rod or Rescue Stretcher. We still have recovery cards like Rescue Stretcher and Energy Recycle System, but no item that combines the two effects like Super Rod.

Possible Replacements: Rescue Stretcher, Energy Recycle System

9. Garbotoxin Garbodor

The strongest form of ability lock last format can be put away for an Expanded day. Garbotoxin Garbodor was a format-defining card. The power of the card was showcased at the World Championships this year. Without Garbotoxin, decks that relied on abilities can drop their Field Blower counts. Ability decks no longer have to fear the Garbotoxin/N to a low hand combo. That said, I'm not to saying that ability lock is no longer playable in Standard. We still have Glaceon GX, Slaking, and Alolan Muk. However, these cards each have their own weaknesses and don’t offer the same versatility as Garbotoxin. I believe decks that are more ability heavy will begin to see more plhttps://www.flipsidegaming.com/collections/sun-and-moon-base-set/products/sm1-58-alolan-muk-sun-and-moon-baseay as Philly Regionals approaches.

Possible Replacements: Glaceon GX, Slaking, Alolan Muk

10. Mew EX/Mewtwo

Mew EX really only saw play as a counter to Buzzwole in Zoroark decks. Mewtwo was played for similar purposes, but also served as an efficient one prize attacker in general. We still have Deoxys from Celestial Storm which, is just a Mewtwo reprint with one retreat and ten less hp.

Possible Replacements: Deoxys (Psychic)

11. Strong Energy

If you couldn’t tell already, Buzzwole is losing a lot of its tools, but I don’t think that makes it obsolete. Without Strong Energy, Buzzwole loses some of the early game pressure it used to put on decks. Stage 2 decks like Gardy and Metagross don’t have to worry as much about their basics getting Jet Punched or Sledgehammered in the early game. Buzzwole can still hit their one copy of Beast Energy, but it is very unlikely they find it turn one. I also believe that the loss of Strong Energy cripples the baby Buzz/Garb deck. Without strong, baby Buzz can’t put the same early game pressure that it put on last season. The deck will have to replace the baby Buzz with Regirock or I don’t think the deck will be able to function next format.

Possible Replacements: Professor Kukui

12. Parallel City

One of the most broken cards every printed. The versatility and control this card provided was insane. Decks will no longer have to worry about their bench being restricted or having their opponent Parallel away potential knockouts. One deck that gains a lot from this card being rotated is Malamar. Malamar always struggled when it got Paralleled because it usually needed two bench spaces for Malamar and one for a backup attacker. If you ever had to bench a Lele, your bench just became cluttered. Now, Malamar can utilize the five bench spots with no restriction. Zoroark decks also benefit from Parallel City being rotated. Zoroark mirrors usually degenerated into Parallel City wars. Whoever could stick the first and last Parallel City usually won the game. Now, Zoroark mirrors will be more about who can utilize their healing cards more efficiently. Without Parallel City, decks like Tapu Bulu/Vikavolt don’t have to run Field Blower because they’re not afraid of either Parallel or Garboxtoin.

Possible Replacements: None

Initial Thoughts

As you can see Standard is in for a major shakeup. My initial thoughts, after testing, are that the format is significantly slower. Without a healthy depth of draw supporters, most decks will struggle to initiate their early game plan. Supporters like Lillie and Copycat just aren’t as strong as Sycamore or N and a lot of games will just end because you couldn’t draw your cards. This is why I believe that Zoroark is still good. Trade is one of the best abilities ever printed and you can still find the cards you need with the Mallow/Trade engine.

Another card that will see more play is Judge. Turn 1 Judge or Marshadow are now the best forms of disruption. Most decks aren’t equipped to handle being set to four cards at the beginning of the game. We saw the power of this displayed at the World Championships with many of the Rayquaza decks running Marshadow. I believe most decks will have to run at least 10+ draw supporters or a heavy Treasure and Lele line to try and give themselves the best chance of drawing out it. If both decks are allowed to set up, then most games will be played from the board. What I mean by this is that since there isn’t really any good form of disruption outside of turn one, most players will usually get to keep their hands and play with the cards they're given. Players can now map out their game plan of taking six prizes without the fear of getting their hand N'd away. Most games will usually come down to who can use their attackers more efficiently. Whoever can force their opponent into taking the most prize cards will usually win the game.

Lastly, the loss of Bridgette is a major loss for Zoroark decks. When I initially began testing Zoroark, I tried Pokemon Fan Club in place of Bridgette. I found Pokemon Fan Club to be pretty underwhelming. I just always wanted to be playing another draw supporter rather than Fan Club. I then moved to a heavy Nest ball and Ultra Ball engine and found I liked that better. Once Zoroark decks set up, they’re just as consistent as they were last format. Between Trade and Mallow, you can find what you want when you need it.

Standard is about to be slower than it has been in a quite a while. Decks will struggle to set up and even when they do they still might miss critical pieces because of the lack of strong draw supporters. Some decks, such as Rayquaza, will struggle to make the transition. However, I believe some decks can make the transition without being affected too much. One of those decks is Buzz/Roc.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc

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