In this article I provide updated lists for two of the top archetypes in Standard, Alolan Ninetales GX and Gardevoir GX, and then I explore a brand new Crimson Invasion deck designed to counter these two heavyweights while also being able to compete against the rest of the format, Silvally GX with Metal friends.
Alolan Ninetales GX/Zoroark GX
There have been multiple League Cup-winning lists for this deck posted by their pilots on HeyFonte and elsewhere on the web.
The list below is based on two that I saw from Jose Marrero and Brad Curcio:
4 Alolan Vulpix GUR
3 Alolan Ninetales GX
1 Alolan Ninetales
2 Zorua promo
2 Zoroark GX
2 Tapu Koko promo
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Espeon EX
4 Professor Sycamore
2 Professor Kukui
4 Ultra Ball
4 Aqua Patch
4 Choice Band
2 Field Blower
1 Rescue Stretcher
1 Float Stone
This deck has been elevated to the next level of potency with the simple swapping of Octillery for Zoroark GX. As good as Octillery was as a low-maintenance hand refresher, Zoroark GX is simply better for multiple reasons including its ability to attack for substantial damage when needed. Yes, you could always attack with Octillery in a Ninetales deck before since you had the Water energies but did that happen more than once in 50 games?
Trade does make you discard, which can sometimes be awkward, but more often than not there will be an unneeded card to pitch, and being able to draw no matter how large your hand grows is liberating. Sometimes with Octillery you simply had to pass on using Abyssal Hand because you could not or did not want to reduce your hand size down below 5. With Zoroark GX you just need to find a useless card to throw away.
Also, this deck has a specific use for the discarding effect of Trade: the activation of Aqua Patch. One of the most frustrating experiences with Alolan Ninetales GX is drawing an Aqua Patch along with a Sycamore and being unable to use the Patch before you ditch your hand. Trade helps you make Aqua Patch “live” more easily which gives the deck more explosive potential and helps prevent the wasting of Aqua Patch.
Tapu Koko has been in this deck since the beginning and it continues to play an important role as a one-Prize leader that can soften up an opponent’s entire board all at once, allowing Blizzard Edge to achieve a finishing blow KO later. The free retreat is appreciated as well since it both increases the odds of the turn 1 Beacon, if desired, and helps you move into an Aqua Patch-fueled attacker more quickly. Espeon EX is one of the hottest techs in general at the moment in a variety of decks for its ability to punish the use of Rare Candy and for its synergy with spreaders and snipers (of which this deck has both). It is here primarily for Gardevoir GX.
Alolan Ninetales GX is capable of competing with most of the other big decks in Standard. The ability to deal up to 210 damage with Blizzard Edge, Choice Band and Kukui with a bulky Stage 1 is good in a raw way, and due to Tapu Koko, a 210 damage attack is also capable of finishing off bigger things like Gardevoir GX.
Any kind of Fire deck naturally loses most of the time due to weakness. Gardevoir GX is not a sure thing but the combination of spread damage, Espeon EX and Alolan Ninetales GX’s removal of its own energy all give you a strong chance; Alolan Ninetales’s Safeguard can also come in handy.
Garbodor/Drampa GX runs nothing but Pokemon that can be OHKOed by Blizzard Edge and will struggle to ever OHKO Alolan Ninetales GX. Only Po Town combined with Choice Band and Berserk will allow 210 damage to be reached. Any deck that gets outright OHKOed by Blizzard Edge is going to struggle versus Alolan Ninetales GX, generally speaking, or at best have an even matchup. Any deck that cannot reliably or consistently deal 210 is also going to struggle with Ice Path GX.
One issue for Alolan Ninetales GX going forward is the hype that seems to be surrounding Mr. Mime BKT as a response to the increase in spread attacks in the format. Taking away Ice Blade and Flying Flip can be a big deal in certain matchups, and at the very least the Bench protection is a source of irritation.
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