Before I get into the article I want to apologize for the wait…sort of. I do not think a week is enough time to actually come up with any decent lists in a new format, so I decided to take some extra time to work on these five decks. My stepdad also passed about three weeks ago which has been hard on me to say the least. I just want to make it clear that the low frequency of articles is not a regularity but an exception.
The top tier may only be Zoroark and Malamar
In a format with less consistency, Magcargo provides reliability in combination with Zoroark, Acro Bike, or Oranguru that cannot be found otherwise. There will hardly be an archetype that can be top tier without playing Magcargo or Zoroark. The only archetype that I can see being able to do so is Malamar. Malamar had issues in the last format because of Parallel City in Zoroark decks, but now that it’s gone, you can fit the number of Malamar you need on your bench and maybe even a Sudowoodo. Garbotoxin is not around to shut off Marshadow or Sudowoodo either.
When we think about other archetypes that could have potential, nothing else else seems to measure up. Rayquaza could be strong, but Elixir is gone, which is a big big hit to take. That means the only relevant version of the deck is with Vikavolt and it is not actually obvious that that’s any better that VikaBulu. BuzzRoc could work but Strong and even more importantly, Octillery, are both rotated. BuzzRoc is also not a deck that can thin cards down with any ease, which makes Lillie a lot less useful.
Our only strong draw cards are Lillie and Cythia. Decks that play high counts of cards which can thin your hand (such as Malamar) are at a big advantage over decks that do not because they can make use of a high count of Lillie. I do not mean a single copy or two of Lillie, I mean three or four. With four you needn’t play down Lele to grab it on turn one because the card will already be in your hand (not all the time of course, but a lot of the time). Throughout a game, Lillie has use when you play 4 Ultra Ball, 4 Acro Bike, and 4 Mysterious Treasure. These are all cards that can be easily played to both thin your deck and hand. That combination is very powerful because it means you both draw more cards from Lillie and draw better cards off of the Lillie, since you are thinning your deck every time you play a search card. If a deck cannot use Lillie efficiently and cannot use Magcargo well, I do not see it doing well in this meta.
We don’t need Field Blower much anymore….Right?
Field Blower at first glace is a card that seems useless. Garbotoxin is rotated and that card was one of the only major reason to play Blower. Parallel City was our other reason, but that card is gone too! So why do we really need Field Blower anymore? I cannot say for sure that it actually is needed now, but I will say that Wishful Baton is a broken card if nobody plays Blower. Rayquaza might seem like a much worse deck now, but it certainly could still see play and it may be better than some of us are giving it credit for. Stadiums in general may end up being more powerful with the assumption that Field Blower will see less play, which in turn would make Field Blower stronger again. Zoroark decks do not have access to Puzzles anymore either, which means Blower can actually do some damage by getting rid of Choice Bands.
My current conclusion is that Blower is not at all obsolete, but that it loses strength. If players are expecting no Blowers, then it becomes very strong. It’s a great one-of in any deck with Magcargo because it can be searched out at the perfect time. Cut down on your Blower counts, but don’t drop it entirely.
An overlooked aspect of this new format is that you can keep specific cards a secret to your opponent for a lot longer. For example, lets say I am playing the ZoroPod deck in this article. For game one (in a best of three) against Rayquaza, maybe I’m winning the game pretty handily and I do not necessarily need to Blower off the Baton to win the game. Game two my opponent gets the impression that I do not play Blower because I did not use it at all in game one. My opponent makes plays assuming I don’t use Blower and then I surprise them with it to take a devastating KO.
This is not the only way that kind of play can work out. With Sycamore not around to force you to discard cards, you have a high level of control over what you discard. You can hide a Deoxys against Buzzwole, or you can save an Acerola against a Zoroark variant. With no Sycamore in the format you can introduce a lot of surprises in best of threes.
Lots of articles have short descriptions of how each matchup goes and what the percentage chance of winning is. Since I am covering five decks in this article I figured I would make a spreadsheet with all the percentages for easy reference. The advantage of a spreadsheet is that is gives you a quick way to analyze what is your best option based on what you think you will see in your meta. I will update the spreadsheet and post more decks on here as the season progresses.