The second Regional Championships in Europe took place over this past weekend in Dortmund, Germany. With 303 Masters playing in it, it gives us a great opportunity to see how the Standard metagame is developing and what we can expect to do well at the first Intercontinental Championships in London in a few weeks time.
The story so far
We’ve already had some major Standard tournaments, such as the Regionals in Orlando and Liverpool. So far, it hasn’t felt like there is a clear stand out deck in Standard right now, or even a consistent metagame going from event to event.
Instead, it feels very ‘rock paper scissors’ based, where there are 5-10 decks good enough to win a Regional Championships, with each one having some decks they beat easily, and others that they struggle against. The name of the game up until this point has been to try and predict what other people will play, and pick your own deck accordingly that counters those.
Number of placements in Orlando Top 32
Mega Mewtwo: 6
Mega Gardevoir: 4
Vileplume Toolbox: 3
Rainbow Road: 2
Mega Rayquaza: 1
In Orlando we saw decks that revolved around both EX Pokemon and Garbodor do best, like Mega Mewtwo and Darkrai/Giratina. These can be viewed as pretty safe plays, and it makes sense that people wanted to avoid any risks when picking their deck for the first major Standard tournament of the season. While decks like Greninja, Volcanion, and Mega Rayquaza feature, their success is limited by their struggles against these Garbodor decks. Mega Gardevoir has a pretty solid four placings, which makes sense considering it’s edge over the top two decks.
Number of placements in Liverpool Top 32
Mega Gardevoir: 7
Rainbow Road: 3
Mega Scizor: 2
Mega Mewtwo: 1
Vileplume Toolbox: 1
Mega Rayquaza: 1
Darkrai/Giratina and Mega Mewtwo dominated Orlando with 11 placements combined, yet that fell to just 3 in Liverpool. It’s not surprising that if you can play an EX deck without Garbodor (and use those spots for other cards) while ensuring you don’t suffer from ability lock, you’re going to have a good time against decks like Darkrai/Giratina and Mega Mewtwo that do play Garbodor.
Rise Mega Gardevoir, which is known for having strong matchups against both of those decks. It’s number of placements almost doubled from Orlando to Liverpool, where it rose to become the most successful deck. Volcanion was another deck that thrived when being able to use it’s abilities more freely, and also helped to keep Mega Scizor in place which otherwise beats Mega Gardevoir very easily.
The view on the metagame post Liverpool provided a base for everyone to use when preparing for Dortmund. This translated into the following results..
Number of placements in Dortmund Top 32
Rainbow Road: 2
Vileplume Toolbox: 2
Houndoom Mill: 1
Mega Gardevoir: 1
Mega Rayquaza: 1
Even though we’ve been playing in this current Standard format for months, this is possibly the most severe metagame shift to date. Mega Mewtwo had the most Top 32 placements in Orlando (six), yet has zero here. What about Darkrai/Giratina, the second most successful deck in Orlando with five placements in the Top 32? Only one here. Surely Mega Gardevoir, with four placements in Orlando and seven in Liverpool (the most successful deck there) picked up the slack? Nope, only one placement in Dortmund.
Three decks which have been hovering in the background and picking up a consistent level of success took advantage in Dortmund, with Yveltal, Greninja, and Volcanion the three top placing decks. What’s interesting is that Greninja and Volcanion both struggle considerably against Garbodor, and the majority of Yveltal decks that did well ran a line of Garbodor. The format has almost come full circle again, where you need to put Garbodor back in your deck again (which then leads the way for decks like Mega Gardevoir to rise up again).
Giratina did see play in Dortmund, but not as we’re used to with Darkrai/Giratina. This variant is straight Giratina EX with a Garbodor line, and instead takes those spots that Darkrai and the heavy energy lines would usually call dibs on, and instead devotes them to additional disruption cards like Crushing Hammers and Team Flare Grunts. While it loses the hard hitting power that Darkrai brings to the table (your damage cap is usually going to be 110 damage at best now), you can control the pace of games better, and also fare better against Fairy decks where Darkrai EX usually struggles to cut through.
I wasn’t sure if there would be a small resurgence for Mega Scizor after two players made it into the Top 8 in Liverpool playing an interesting twist on the deck. However, we can see here that the metagame in Dortmund was stacked against it, both with a lack of Mega Gardevoir and also the rising success of Volcanion and Greninja. It’s also worth discussing some of the interesting new decks that had a placement in the Top 32, and are worth considering for future events – such as Houndoom Mill, Regice/Glaceon, and Raikou.
Regice/Glaceon (with Garbodor) is a very ‘rock paper scissors’ deck, but not necessarily in the way that we’ve seen the metagame shift from Regional to Regional. It works on a simple premise that Regice stops EX Pokemon from attacking, and Glaceon EX stops evolved Pokemon from attacking, meaning most of the time you can chose one of those and completely shut down the opponent from dealing any damage to you.
Of course, there’s a big big issue with this strategy.. Pokemon Ranger. With it, it’s relatively straightforward for the opponent to continually recycle it with VS Seeker, and just win the prize trade easily. However, we’ve seen little reason for most decks to play Pokemon Ranger, and a lot have dropped it for a free spot, which can be used towards helping in the more popular matchups. We’re in a situation now where you either play Pokemon Ranger and get around pesky decks like these, or you opt to take your chances and not play it but gain an edge against most other decks out there.