Hey everyone! The 2017-2018 season is underway and the majority of players are starting to dip their feet into the brand new Standard format. In standard, the metagame is built around the decks that saw success at the recent World Championships, and that has provided a foundation for people to copy or counter. There still hasn't been a major Standard event for the new season and that creates a lot of mystery behind the format. I've played at a few League Cups over the last 2 weeks and have explored the fresh format. It's been a bit up or down, but I've seen a good amount of success with a few archetypes. I went over my winning Volcanion list in an update earlier this week, which you can check out in my Rising from the Ashes article. In this past weekend, I changed up my deck choice to adapt to the metagame in my area and saw both success and failure. I'll go over my weekend, with the lows of Ho-Oh Salazzle to the highs with Golisopod Garbodor.

Trial and Error

Ho-Oh GX/Salazzle

Pokemon (16)

  • 3 Ho-Oh GX
  • 2 Salandit GRI
  • 2 Salazzle GX
  • 2 Turtonator GX
  • 2 Volcanion EX
  • 1 Oranguru SUM
  • 4 Tapu Lele GX

Trainers (30)

  • 4 Professor Sycamore
  • 4 Guzma
  • 3 N
  • 3 Kiawe
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 4 Max Elixir
  • 3 Choice Band
  • 2 Field Blower
  • 2 Switch
  • 1 Super Rod

Energy (14)

  • 14 Fire Energy

This is the deck I decided to play at the Winnetka League Cup in California, which had seven rounds with at least six players who have qualified for Day 2 of the Pokémon World Championships. The competition was fierce and there was a good amount of players to provide a lot of diversity in the metagame.

From as early as Round 1, my deck was off to mediocre starts. I opened turn one Kiawe to Ho-Oh GX but didn't have a backup plan since I opened no draw supporter or a Tapu Lele GX out. This was brutal and I tried to combat decks throughout the day without a hand and only my board. After starting 0-1, I ran into a Ninetales BUS and GX deck that I assumed was going to be a big problem. However, it turns out Oranguru is fantastic and I was able to deal with all of their threats. Oranguru's Psychic attack knocks out Ninetales BUS with three energy and forces them to two hit you. If they choose to attack with Ninetales GX, it's no problem as we can one shot it with Ho-Oh GX. I climbed up to 2-1 before I hit another challenge with Sam Chen's Greninja. I didn't think it was necessary to play Giratina Promo in a field that hadn't shown any Greninja decks in the past, and I wasn't completely convinced it would provide enough value in the matchup anyway. The main problem with this matchup is you're taking one prize at a time and you have to knock out six Pokémon. This is a predicament because it's already very difficult to chain attacks with the drawback from Ho-Oh GX (can't attack during your next turn), and the reward is a mere one prize. I had a decent start against Sam, but he was able to take advantage of the one prize attackers and the bumps in the road that was inevitable for me to hit. By the time I was able to will myself to three prize cards, he had multiple Greninjas in play and four prizes left. It was over at this point and I conceded. I continued playing out the tournament in hopes for Top 16, but then I hit the other major problem for Ho-Oh Salazzle which was Gardevoir GX. My opponent went first and was able to slam down a turn two Gardevoir; followed up with a turn three triple Gardevoir GX. In general, if you fall behind against Gardevoir and they have developed their board properly, it's over. I take another loss and finish the tournament 4-3.

This was an important learning experience, as I learned that Ho-Oh Salazzle has some glaring weaknesses. The Gardevoir GX matchup is rough if they have an above average start, which you can't prevent and is going to happen sometimes. Water decks are still relevant and haven't gone away. I believe Ninetales and Greninja will stay a force in this format for future tournaments. Lastly, I felt really confident in the deck's engine and consistency, which turned out to not be the case. I had some rough hands throughout the day and it didn't help that I was facing some uphill battles.

The Breakout of Golisopod Garbodor at Worlds

Golisopod Garbodor was one of the sleeper decks from Japan at the 2017 World Championships. I know many players including myself thought it was an average deck at best, and weren't afraid of its showing Day 1. Of course, to my surprise, I was slapped in the face as I played against it Round 1, resulting in a loss. It caught me by surprise because of how simple and aggressive it can be. The deck is fierce; it's super aggressive and provides pressure that most decks can't-do. It follows it up with a turn two Garbotoxin, in a format that still depends on abilities. The combination of aggression and ability lock is enough to win games outright, and it showed throughout that tournament. I think the simplicity of the deck makes people overlook it and even I thought it wasn't strong enough to be competitive. The thing is simplicity allows you to be as consistent as possible and that's one of the most underrated things in deck building. Being able to do the same thing each and every game is an advantage compared to decks like Gardevoir and Greninja, who often fail to set up the way they were supposed to. Japan introduced us to a brand new archetype and I'm grateful that it got second at Worlds. It's going to a major role player throughout the current season.

League Cup Success

This deck is a fantastic option in the current Standard metagame. After my recent struggle at the League Cup on Saturday in Winnetka, I decided to make the switch to Golisopod Garbodor the very next day. My sister Kristy Britton piloted the deck at that very same League Cup in Winnetka to a top 4 finish. She finished with an impressive 6-2-1 record and that gave me a lot of courage to try it on Sunday. The League Cup on Sunday had far fewer players, as we only had five rounds of swiss but the competition was still strong, just more condensed. From Round 1 until the Finals, I faced a good amount of Worlds players and had some very close games. The tournament went smoothly for me, as I was able to take down the League Cup and finish with a total record of 7-0-1. I had a lot of nail bitters, but the deck's simplicity and consistency allowed me to clutch out those wins. I faced Golisopod Garbodor, Drampa Garbodor, Ninetales, and Gardevoir GX throughout the day and made the correct Meta call as I avoided playing a single Fire deck. Collectively, my list went 13-2-2 and Some1sPC's Kian Amini was also able to take down a League Cup in his area with a list only a few cards off. The deck was consistent and effective, as it was able to dominate both Northern California and Southern California League Cups this weekend!

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