Hey readers. Kian back, once again. Today I am going to cover standard and I’m going go over Vikaray, Malamar, and take a look at a new deck popping up, Empoleon Swampert. I do like the current standard format right now but there are some flaws with it. First, I think going first is a significant advantage in certain matchups. Second, there is not really any great comeback because of the lack of N. This means game pretty much snowballs and maybe decided pretty early. Other than that I’m glad there are not really any oppressive cards like Parallel City that are bad for the game.

The current format is revolving around the Shrine of Punishment decks. Caleb Gedemer played an excellent list for his win and it has become the deck with the most Buzz. I do think the deck is excellent but I do not think the deck is the best deck. Players and decks will continuously adapt to beat it and needing to adapt is key to winning.

The decks I like the most right now is Vikavolt Rayquaza and Malamar. I won a cup with a version with two Shining Lugia because I did not own any Dhelmise at the time. My list was very similar to Isaac Mileski’s/Jose Marrero’ list. I think VikaRay’s high power is the reason why its one of the best decks in the format. I really like the inherent consistency with Tempest GX and how the deck utilizes Volkner. I do think the deck fairs well versus shrine deck if built properly and added with more one prized attackers.

For Malamar I love the deck’s consistency and power. I modeled my list after Rukan’s second place list. The deck just runs incredibly smooth and is very well rounded. The deck no bad matchups and has a variety of options to deal with anything in the meta.

Here is my current Tier List for Standard:

 

Tier One

Buzzwole/Garbodor/Shrine

Rayquaza/Vikavolt

Malamar

Zoroark/Lycanroc

 

Tier Two

Buzzwole/Lycanroc

Zoroark/Golisopod

Swampert/Empoleon

Zoroark/Decidueye

Metagross

Magnezone

Lapras Quagsire

Beast Box

I personally like all the tier one decks right now. All of them are strong in their own way and fairly consistent decks. Right now, I would not play the Shrine deck for Memphis because I think it will have a huge target on its back. Decks will adapt which make it harder for it to do well.

I haven’t really tested some of the tier two decks. Lapras/Qaugsire is something that I have heard about but I haven’t tried it. Decidueye Zoroark can interesting because of how Decidueye is good against Shrine decks. All the others ones, I don’t really have much testing with.

Now moving onto Rayquaza, like I said earlier I think this decks power potential is very high. I do like how the deck runs even though it is a stage two deck. Tempest GX and Volkner really make the deck run smooth. Let’s get into my list. 

Rayquaza GX

 

 

All credit goes to Isaac, Jose, and Franco for constructing such a good list. I won a league cup with Vikaray two weeks ago and ran no Dhelmise or Mysterious Treasure. Those are cards I should have definitely ran before, I knew definitely think more Volkner is correct. I also agree with going down to three Cynthia as I found Volkner to be incredible all the time since there are so many pieces for this deck. Getting a 2nd Vikavolt out or finding a timely Energy Recycler is huge.

I made two changes to their list to adapt a little bit for the current meta. The change was cutting a Rayquaza GX for Shining Lugia. The Shrine of Punishment decks are very popular and I want to make the matchup as easy as possible. The reason behind including a Lugia over a 2nd Dhelmise is to give you more options to attack with. Lugia tanks well versus Baby Buzzwole which can make a difference in a matchup sometimes. If they want to one shot it with Sledgehammer, they need to use Kukui or Beast Energy to knock it out meaning the 2nd Lugia would hold value over the Dhelmise by having resistance.

I added a Zekrom from Dragon Majesty because it is useful as well versus shrine decks and potentially mirror. Bolk Strike deals 150 and with Choice Band, that math can versus mirror and any other matchups to swing the prize trade. I really disliked cutting the 2nd stretcher, but there was not really any other cuts besides cutting a Pokemon or Choice Band. I never really liked the idea of three Rayquaza GX because I think it limits your potential in the matchups where you would need four. I think running one Choice Band is fine if you cut Zekrom. Zekrom feels less useful if you were to run 1 choice band so in its place I would add a 2nd stretcher.

Matchup-wise, I think the deck has a great spread. I think it is very Favorable against Zoroark Variants (Going first makes a huge difference in these matchups). The deck has a very close matchup versus Shrine decks. If you can keep GXs out of play and limit your item to under seven, you should be able to sweep them to ease. Dhelmise, Lugia or Zekrom should survive everything outside the Sledgehammer turn. If you can manage those two factors, then the matchup is a breeze.

I think Malamar is actually the toughest matchup for this deck. Malamar decks obviously trade well with you because they can power up Necrozma GX with ease. Their deck also tends not to have a lot of GX’s in play to target. The main factor why I think this matchup favors Malamar is Moon Eclipse GX. If they use this GX attack well, they pretty much swing the momentum back in their favor. And if they Moon Eclipse GX without any GXs in their bench, they should be able to regain the lead and keep it. This just a very snow bally matchup because of the lack of disruption tactics.

Deck Sequencing

I want to touch on the sequencing in this deck. This deck is a relatively easy to play but there are some complexities of playing the cards in the right order. The first thing I want to cover is whether you should Strong Charge before or after your draw supporter. Let’s say if you already have an energy in your hand, with that you should strong charge first then play your draw supporter so you a lower chance of drawing energy off your supporter. If you do not have an attachment, then you should play your draw supporter first to have a higher chance to hit an attachment. Then you should use Strong Charge right after. This sort of sequencing lets you hit your Max potential for energy for that turn.

The second sequencing component I want to cover is Stormy Winds+X. Stormy Winds can be weird to use but there is a correct order to use it. If you need to dig for an energy and you have none in the discard, you would want to Stormy winds before you Strong Charge to have a higher chance to hit an energy to the discard.

Here’s another situation. Let’s say you need Energy Recycler to recover energy. You would want to Volkner for Recycler then use one or two Stormy Winds, then use the Recycler to gain access again for Strong Charge. Stormy Winds can sometimes lose you the game if discards precious resources, Especially energy recycler. This why Volkner is really good so you can target the trainer you need so it does not get discarded by Stormy Winds.

So basically when you play this deck, you just want to think of what card you should play in order. Think wisely because little things do matter with this deck.

That’s all for Rayquaza, the deck has been covered enough everywhere. Let move on to Malamar.

Malamar

 

This my version of Malamar. This would probably my play if I had to play in a tournament tomorrow. Like I said, this deck very well rounded, consistent, and has a good matchup spread. I like how Rukan utilized Marshadow GX in this deck to give the deck more bench space and versatility. Benching Dawn Wings is not that great because Dark Flash is pretty weak in a lot of matchups. Marshadow lets you Moon Eclipse and Prismatic Burst so you do not have to bench Necrozma GX meaning your bench should be relatively free to maneuver with. 

I made some modifications of my own by adding Nest Ball and an 11th energy. I really did not like Friend Ball because I found it too situational. During testing, I found myself wishing friend ball was nest ball numerous times. I do understand friend ball’s merits, but I prefer a more reliable card. I still think friend ball is fine to run either way. The second change I made was cutting an escape board for a 11th Psychic energy. I like the escape board but I found four to be a little excessive. I think three fine because field blower is scarcely played right now.

Other than that, I found Rukans list to very good and smooth. This deck is just very smooth, consistent and well rounded. It is definitely one of my favorite decks of the format.

 

Empoleon/Swampert

Here is the nest deck I wanted to cover; Empoleon/Swampert. This has been picking up a little steam and has been a deck to keep on the radar for. Drew got second place at a massive cup in California showing us that the deck is no joke. I got the list from Drew started playing it. I actually like the deck a lot and I think it is good. The idea behind this deck that is a one prized focused deck based around Empoleon as an attacker and Swampert as draw. Swampert functions exactly like Zoroark.

 

Swampert/Empoleon

Energy (10)

 

Drew’s list as one less Stretcher for The 4th Empoleon and underground expeditions instead of Volkner. I do think this deck needs two rescue stretcher and we all agreed upon that. Second, I found that deck wants to get Rare Candy Swampert As soon as possible, so I put Volkner to help with that.

3-1-3 Swampert

This is the draw engine for this deck, once you get one out, the deck runs very smooth. With the lack of hand disruption, your hands get huge and you can start evolving a lot of Pokemon. Getting two out is ideal because you will go through your whole deck very fast.

Hydro Pump is actually a solid attack for this since there three ways to power it from counter energy, Aqua Patch, and Super Boost Energy. It is possible to hit someone hit knockouts between those, Kukui, and choice Band

4-2-4 Empoleon

The main attacker of this deck. Total Command can max out at 200 damage without damage modifiers if both sides have a full bench. The deck feels very strong. A Lot of decks right now need to occupy full benches too because their decks have to in order to run efficiently. Zoroark obviously needs to have a large bench. Shrine decks need a lot of pieces in play so they will have a large bench as well. Malamar decks also tend to have a large bench as well since their designs typically require it. This is why I think Total Command is hard to play around for certain deck since their decks are designed to have large benches as well. Even if the opponents tries to play around it, you can still achieve one-shots with Professor Kukui.

The attack is very easy to power up since you pretty much use counter first and Aqua patch after. I have never used Whirlpool in testing but it can be useful if it is the right play. A lot of decks right now are energy intensive so I do not think it is useful in the current Meta.

Four Piplups in standard since you want to set up multiple Empoleon’s. Two Prinplups has been very good since we evolve more stage twos outside of the four Rare Candies.

I run a metal Empoleon deck just for the Sylveon Matchup. Sylveon does not fill up their bench which means the water one will never one-shot them. The metal Empoleon can easily one shot a Sylveon. I do not think running a Metal Empoleon hurts this deck too much because you rarely aqua patch your first Empoleon. You typically use Counter Energy for Empoleon’s then attach water when Counter Energy is not useable. This Empoleon can help in certain situations against lightning Pokemon where the water one is. Surviving a Vikavolt can be useful.

2 Alolan Vulpix

This is your set up card to help you evolve Piplups and Mudkips. This card synergizes very well with this deck because you can search with Brooklet Hill and can attack right away when you retreat away from a water energy or have the single copy of switch of your hand. You also do not really care about Vulpix getting knocked because you want to activate counter energy.

4 Cynthia 2 Volkner

I think Cynthia is the best draw supporter for this deck. I tried Lillie, but this deck cannot really thin hands without Ultra Ball or Mysterious Treasure. Cynthia is by far the strongest Draw Supporter for this deck.

For Volkner, as I stated earlier, this deck needs to see Rare Candy as soon as possible to set up Swampert. Between Brooklet Hill and Beacon, you need more ways to find the middle piece which is Rare Candy. I’ve been liking Volkner a decent amount in testing.

4 Brooklet Hill 3 Nest Ball

This deck wants to be as consistent as possible with its starts. When this deck does not open brooklet hill, it feels terrible because of the potential lack of set up. For this reason, Four Brooklet Hills are in here.

Three Nest ball is just added consistency since this wants to be set up as well as possible. You do want more just a Brooklet in your opening turns.

The great thing about this deck is that Power Draw can just toss away the extra Nest Ball and Brooklets when you do not need them anymore.

2 Choice Band 2 Professor Kukui

Your Basic damage modifiers. In the current format, two Choice Band is perfect for the Meta Right now since it is not a GX focused Meta. Three can be necessary later but two gets it done.

The Kukuis are very good since it can increase your damage Potential. Like Zoroark decks, this deck can use Kukui very well because of Power Draw allowing you to pull combos.

3 Aqua Patch

You need to power up Empoleon when you cannot use Counter Energy anymore. This card is just very good in this because Power Draw already discards water. You can also power up Swampert since Hydro Pump is a solid attack. Whenever I have leftover energy where I do not want them on Empoleon, I usually load a big Swampert as a potential game closer.

2 Rescue Stretcher

An essential card for this deck, this helps you stabilize your board as the game goes on. Two allows you to be more reckless with Power Draw as well.

1 Switch

I’ve been liking the one switch because it allows you for more flexibility. It does help with Aqua Patch if you to power up an attacker in one turn. There are a lot of Heavy retreat Pokemon in this deck which I like running at least one copy of this is fine.

3 Guzma

Not much explanation. Like the use for the switch, this deck has heavy retreaters and the switch effect helps a lot.

5 Water

I found this count to be consistent, I hit it enough to turn one to retreat for Vulpix. Running a lower count just make aqua patch worse as well.

3 Counter Energy

Another essential card for this deck, this deck a comeback deck and utilizes this card very well. You’re likely going to Sacrifice one or two Pokemon Before you start attacking with Empoleon.

1 Super Boost Energy

I love this card in this deck. This usually has three to four Stage twos out so this card most likely can be used. This card just makes Swampert a powerhouse. Hydro Pump can do massive damage between Aqua Patch and Super Boost Energy. This card is just powerful when you can use it properly.

Potential Additions

Steven’s Resolve

Drew was pitching this card to us, and I understand the logic behind because it helps you search for rare candy. The reason why I do not like this card very much because it doesn’t really help your turn one set up. You cannot dig for brooklet hill or nest ball with it. You would also have to run 3 to 4 copies it this card to warrant since you cannot run Tapu Lele GX in here.

Pal Pad

I would like this card in here since having more Kukui and Guzma can be very good for the late game. The draws through itself, so finding the supporter you recovered should not be hard at all.

Great Ball

A different consistency card that can be played in this deck. I think there so many basic pokemon search card here that I would rather run the two slots for timer ball instead of hitting more basics off Great Ball.

Matchups

Malamar

I think this matchup is favorable because their one prize attacker cannot really answer your stage twos well. Their best answer is Mimikyu since it can one-shot Empoleon. Your counter-strategy to that is to attack with Swampert since copycat is pretty suboptimal when copying Hydro Pump. When they are not using Mimikyu, they need to use Necrozma GX to knockout your stage twos. That what you would want though, when they bench GXs, your chances of winning the game go up higher. 

Buzzwole/Garbodor/Shrine Punishment

This is the easiest matchup for the deck because they cannot really one-shot your stage twos. Their shrine of punishments is useless as well. Their best way to knock out a stage two is using Sledgehammer when you have four prizes. Even then, they need a Beast energy or Kukui to one shot a Swampert or Empoleon. They need you to have to have 8 items in the discard so that their Trashalanche can knockout your stage twos. It is fairly easy to conserve items in this deck as you can Power Draw non-items and grab Pokemon off Beacon. You are able to have you Stage Twos take hits and take multiple knockouts, then you pretty much win the matchups.

Rayquaza/Vikavolt

I think this matchup up is pretty close if the Ray player knows what they are doing. They should not be using Rayquaza GX since it does not trade well with Empoleon. What they should be doing it setting up Multiple Vikavolts to deal with your Empoleons and Dhelmises for your Swamperts. The Rayquaza player has to be running really well to hit multiple Vikavolts however. Also, Dhelmise Guzma Swampert maybe worth it for them if they are ignoring Empoleon. I think where you win this matchup is just picking up GX knockouts because they will probably have to bench a Lele, or Rayquaza at some point. Like I said earlier, the Metal Empoleon can help in this matchup to survive Vikavolt’s attack.

Zoroark/Lycanroc

This matchup really depends on how many Judge they are running. If they are Running three to four Judge, then I think this matchup is a lot harder. If they run a small count, then I think the matchup is very good. Judge is the weakness of Empoleon Swampert. If you are able to survive the judge and set up, this matchup is very easy because their GX’s do not trade well with Empoleon. Hitting 210 if fairly easy because that is nine Benched Pokemon play plus Choice Band is a knockout. If they only bench three Pokemon, then you can pull off A kukui to achieve a 210 knockout. This matchup is all about stabilizing.

Metagross

This is the deck’s worst Matchup because it is very hard to one shot Metagross GX. With all their healing, it’s very hard to take prizes. Metagross decks should be running Dhelmise because it helps with the numbers in their deck. Dhelmise is good for them because it allows for Metagross to hit up to 160 which knocks out both Empoleon and Swampert. Is it possible to one shot them, but there needs 10 benched pokemon in play and you need hit Professor Kukui and Choice Band to hit 250 damage. If the Metagross Players is good, they will deny that play from you and will not have five benched Pokemon. Metagross decks can operate fine without a full bench. We also do not run Judge in our deck, so if they Algorithm GX, they get to keep it. All in all, there are so many things going against us in this matchup. You definitely want to avoid this matchup.

Concluding with Swampert, I really have been enjoying the deck. It feels pretty old school when you’re playing a deck without GXS/EXS and an emphasis one Stage Twos. I do think the deck is legit and I would be willing to play it at my next League Challenge or League Cup. If I had more testing, I would be maybe willing to play for a Regionals, but I’d rather play a safer deck like Malamar.

Conclusion

Standard has been a solid format and I do not think it necessarily bad, but it does have flaws in terms of lack of comeback potential and going first in certain matchups. I looked over Dragon Majesty and did not really see anything impressive outside of Lance Prism Star. I do not think that the card is that great in standard but it does sound cool in Expanded.

Speaking of Expanded, I have already been testing a lot for that format. I cannot make it to Memphis because of times constraints. Portland is my next Major events as of now. The decks I have been testing Are Zoroark/Garbodor, Rayquaza GX/Ho-oh EX, and Shining Rayquaza/Eels. I have actually been enjoying expanded a lot because the bans really opened the format. The format way less more oppressive than it used to be. My next article will be expanded and I think it a good one. I’m a better and deck builder in expanded so I am confident my testing will result in a solid article before Portland Regionals.

As always, thanks for supporting us. If any of you guys ever need help, just message me on facebook or DM on twitter. Until them, See you guys before my next article for Portland Regionals

 

-Kian