I think that the very first thing to do once a new set drops is assess all of the top decks from the recent past and see which of them remain relevant.
Part of this assessment involves figuring out what new cards fit into these old decks, and part of it involves measuring new powerful cards versus the old decks – you ask whether a new hyped archetype, like Gardevoir GX for a current example, is going to be too much for Old Deck A or Old Deck B to handle.
In this article, I look at the decks from PRC-GRI that I think will continue to fare well in Anaheim for Worlds and the Anaheim Open with Burning Shadows around. I am not going to post lists for any of the decks for two reasons: Pokemon.com at this point actually has become a great resource for proven-to-be-good deck lists (since top 8 lists are consistently cataloged) and Burning Shadows does not significantly overhaul most of these decks.
In no particular order, here we go:
I can see this deck making a possible comeback in Anaheim because of its matchup against Gardevoir GX. Gardevoir GX can run Hex Maniac to make things closer, but overall the weakness to Metal combined with Metagross GX’s huge HP should be too much for Gardevoir to consistently handle. Metagross GX is also very capable of beating Drampa GX/Garbodor as long as Garbotoxin is not allowed to stick and Items are managed carefully, as well as numerous other top threats that lack the means to either deal 250 in one attack or sustain an Ability lock. Another potentially attractive aspect of the deck is its relative simplicity and linearity.
Metagross is also a deck that specifically benefits from Guzma’s switch effect, as it allows you more outs to reset your attack beyond just retreating (which is sometimes not ideal or even impossible to do and then still attack).
The established decks likely to have a strong showing in Anaheim that give Metagross the most trouble are Volcanion, Decidueye GX/Vileplume and Greninja. Volcanion is a bad matchup for an obvious reason: Metagross GX gets lit on fire and taken down in one shot due to weakness. VD is difficult due to the Item lock which can beat your Rare Candies to the board, as well as the Max Potions needed to prevent KOs. Greninja has the means to Shadow Stitching away Geotech System and cannot be OHKOed outside of the use of Professor Kukui, although Magearna EX is an option to counter the former.
I don’t know if Espeon GX/Garbodor/Flareon will see a return to prominence but as you can imagine, the Flareon is highly problematic. Golisopod GX with the Eeveelutions is a deck I like a lot in theory which would also give Metagross significant issues although I don’t know if other people are considering it.
I expect Volcanion to pick up where it left off at NAIC (where Ryan Sabelhaus took the “slow Volcanion” variant to top 8 and narrowly lost to eventual winner Tord Reklev in a 3-game series) and enjoy further success in Anaheim.
The deck gains several strong cards from Burning Shadows, namely Guzma, Ho-oh GX and Kiawe, which allow Volcanion to continue evolving as a deck as it has been since its debut at last year’s Worlds. Volcanion counters a potential rise in Metagross to counter Gardevoir, has a natural edge against any kind of Golisopod variant and can compete with most of the rest of the format due to its consistency, relative speed and eventual overwhelming attack power. The deck remains probably the best Basic-focused option we have; it has been amazing all season and I don’t think this will change in Anaheim.
As far as the new cards go:
Guzma is great at resetting Volcanic Heat and it also doubles as an escape from Lysandre/Guzma stall attempts. Volcanion can’t rely completely on Guzma to allow consecutive Volcanic Heat attacks due to the fact that you don’t always want to target your opponent’s Bench, but having this option merged with a Lysandre effect (when you DO want that effect) on hand is much-appreciated. I think Olympia will probably end up cut for Guzma by many players.
Ho-oh GX is like Turtonator GX, I think, although not quite as good: a nice additional attacking option with certain advantages over Volcanion EX. Those two advantages are a different weakness – yes, Volcanion now finally has a Fire-type Pokemon with a non-Water weakness – and the ability to deal OHKOs on a lot of the EX and GX Basics out there with no help from Steam Up whatsoever. With Fighting Fury Belt, Ho-oh GX can even take down the 190 HP stuff like Lapras GX and Turtonator GX all by itself. The other attacks on Ho-oh GX are more niche but it’s nice to have them on hand, certainly, as they give the deck other dimensions that were completely lacking before.
Kiawe is another niche card but its utility on turn 1 gives the deck an undeniable boost. Before, going first with this slower version of Volcanion usually meant an attachment and a pass, but now you can end up with 5 energies on board before your opponent even gets to draw a card.
“Tapu Lele GX for Kiawe” is likely going to be a fairly common turn 1 play, if possible; I don’t think people are going to run more than one copy of the card, meaning Wonder Tag is often going to be relied upon to fetch it. I like how Kiawe gives this slower version of the deck back some of its intimidating “I can OHKO you on turn 2” power. Of course Kiawe can also be used like Nitro Tank GX at points in the game other than turn 1 if you’re in need of a boost and can’t access Power Heater/Power Heater won’t do enough for you.
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