This piece focusses on the new rapidly developing meta and how we now may have to adjust the way we predict the meta in order to find the best play. As you can read in the free section, I talk about the downside of playing decks with even matchups across the board and relate that to the new meta development. In a way, this is a sequel to my article about critiquing meta dogma because I am trying to create a different view in this piece, rather than break down the old view.
For the second half of the article, I cover fresh lists for Registeel Genesect, Zoroark Golisopod, and Darkrai Zoroark.
Golisopod Zoroark for San Jose
San Jose concluded with me feeling very proud but somewhat empty. My Golisopod Zoroark list got first in both Masters and Seniors, as piloted by Jon Eng and Connor Pedersen. I knew this was a huge accomplishment, but at the same time I was sitting at 5-2-2 because of poor play in two of my rounds. I frequently have an issue with panicking during events. I played against Kian Amini in one of the earlier rounds and counted four misplays in one game! That is of course not the norm for me, but under pressure, my level of play falls back about three years. Against Colter Decker, I similarly felt this pressure because I knew that beating him meant I could ID my next round and make day two. Again I made a strategic mistake where I did not set up a Stand In Zoroark by the late game, as I should have.
Maybe a deck having 50/50’s is actually a bad thing
In both of these matches I lost 1-0 and in both cases I was very favored until I misplayed. They were games I clearly would have won otherwise. This brings me to my first conclusion, which is that it may be better for me to play a “shotgun” deck rather than a 50/50 deck. Golisopod Zoroark was the perfect deck for 50/50s. It had very even, to slightly favorable matchups against Gardevoir, Sky Field Zoroark, and Night March. I think this is why I struggled. Because when I feel the pressure, the 50/50 turns into a very unfavorable matchup. Confidence is a huge part of the game.
But knowing this is a persisting issue for me, maybe I should play a deck with some favorable matchups and some negative matchups. I have always been opposed to the idea, but my realization is that these decks are a risk I need to take until I can figure out how to resolve this in-game anxiety. This also could very well apply to you, and I would argue it probably does. If you are not playing perfectly, you probably should be playing the more hit or miss decks (that’s why they are called shotgun decks).
With this knowledge, something like Gyarados may have been a better bet. Ahmed made top 8 with it, knowing that he only had a bad matchup against a couple less played decks, such as Trevenant. Another reason why I was against these sort of decks is because of how open Expanded is. Players can pilot so many different decks, that you “should probably just play a generally good option”. I still think that is true to an extent, but the ideas are not mutually exclusive. In other words, a deck can have raw power and be more of a shotgun deck. In fact, that is true of many of them.
My goal with the next regionals is to find a deck that fits this bill. One that has raw power and is generally strong, but has more 65/35 matchups instead of 50/50s. But as usual, I like to test these ideas on a smaller scale before I take them to a Regionals. The idea that I have for this route (in Standard) is a Buzzwole deck with techs for Gardevoir. Buzzwole is going to be very strong against Zoroark of course, but the Max Potions in Garde could be problematic. My thinking is to pair Buzzwole with Muk or Lycanroc GX, or both. Decidueye was strong with Buzzwole without a doubt, but it was not as consistent as I would have liked.
The final reason I have for this shift away from 50/50 decks is the extremely competitive atmosphere we are now in. The game has become more difficult over the last two to three years and now we have several very strong players who are working hard to play extremely well because of the money on the line. This means you cannot pilot a 50/50 deck and outperform everyone. You inevitably will hit a player on the same level or a higher level than you, and take a legitimate coinflip to see who wins. The 50/50 deck runs on the claim that it really has 65/35 or better matchups against everything if played well because it gives you the chance to outplay everyone. When you play equal to your opponent however, it is just a coinflip chance of who wins.