2016-2017 Early Season Pokemon TCG Standard Tier List


With the announcement of cash prizes for Regional Championships this season, there has been an increased interest in the Pokemon Trading Card Game with lots of new players getting into the game. Having a lot of new players means that we also have a lot of confused players trying to learn more about the competitive part of the game. One of the most requested things from new players getting into the game is a tier list to see what’s even good in Pokemon, so that’s what I’ve put together in this article.

For those not very familiar with tier lists, they’re simply a list that ranks decks based on their perceived strength. Some tier lists, such as those based on tournament results or intensive playtesting will be very accurate. Others, such as prediction based ones will often be less accurate. Remember when Garchomp/Altaria was supposed to be Tier 1? While I have done quite a bit of playtesting in the Standard format already this is still very conjecture based, so when you look at this few months from now it’s very possible something went astray in these predictions.

I’m also not a very large fan of making a hard set of tiers and think ranking the decks is far more important than arbitrary tier designations, so I will provide both these arbitrary tier designations as well as my own personal rankings for where I think a deck belongs. I will also link to some type of media content for each of the decks in the Top 10. While I won’t necessarily agree with every design choice made from the creator of the content, I’ve picked places to link to that I felt best represented the given deck out of the available media created about these decks.

Tier 1

1. Vespiquen

vespiquen_aoThe rotation of Battle Compressor left many questioning Vespiquen’s future, but early testing results show that Vespiquen will be a dominant force in the early weeks of the season. While the loss of Battle Compressor does slow the deck down a little bit, with the Abilities of Unown AOR and Klefki STS, along with discarding Trainers like Professor Sycamore, Acro Bike, and Ultra Ball, there is more than enough discarding effects to power up strong Bee Revenge attacks.

Vespiquen decks are some of the most dominant out of the get go for the same reasons they have always been great, and that is an ability to take OHKO’s on any Pokemon in the game while doing it as a non-EX that only gives up one prize card. With a full suite of Klefki and its Wonder Lock Ability, Vespiquen decks are able to slow down the game against Mega Pokemon decks, buying them enough time to power up powerful Bee Revenges to take down the high HP Mega Pokemon in one hit. As you can see from the rest of this list, Mega Pokemon decks are poised to be a large part of the format.

revitalizer-generations-70-312x441There is still an uncertainty on exactly what the best partners for Vespiquen is. Yanmega BREAK, Zoroark BKT, Raichu XY, Zebstrika BPT, and Garbodor BPT have all been popular inclusions in Vespiquen decks in the new Standard Format. Each of these Pokemon come with their own strengths and shortcomings as a partner for Vespiquen. The good news is, with Revitalizer and Special Charge you can essentially attack with nothing but Vespiquen in many games, so the alternate Pokemon lines ultimately aren’t too important to the deck’s core strength.

The deck can have some difficulty with Giratina EX decks if they get off to a fast start, but Pokemon Ranger is there to allow you to attach Double Colorless Energy, and if you get enough Pokemon in the discard pile, you can simply play a Pokemon Ranger and then OHKO the Giratina EX.

Unfortunately for Vespiquen, the Supporter card Karen releases soon, and that spells trouble for the deck. While not every deck has a good reason to play Karen, enough do that it will make up a sizable part of the meta game, and players may throw Karen into decks just as a preventive measure against Vespiquen decks, even if it doesn’t aide their own deck’s strategy in any way. The release of Karen should knock Vespiquen decks down to Tier 2, but they should still be able to have some success after its release.  Any time players let their guard down and stop playing Karen, Vespiquen decks should be in a good position to do well.

Reading Material: The Buzz On Vespiquen Without Battle Compressor – TheCharizardLounge.com

2. Rainbow Road

xerneas-breakthrough-bkt-107One of the most hyped decks headed into the new Standard format was M Rayquaza EX, a deck that uses the Sky Field Stadium and does 30 more damage for each bench Pokemon it has. This is essentially the same deck, except that you are using a non-EX attacker and actually have a higher damage ceiling, with about the same amount of setup required to get setup. The only difference is you need Pokemon of different types to boost the damage, but that is very easy to accomplish. Why anyone would have M Rayquaza EX ranked over its non-EX stepsister is a mystery.

The core of the deck is Xerneas BKT with its Rainbow Force attack, which does 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each different type of Pokemon on your Bench. If you fill your bench with 8 different types of Pokemon with a Sky Field in play you are hitting for 250 damage. However, you can actually swing above that damage number, as dual type Pokemon came out in Steam Siege, allowing you to get two types out of one bench slot.

Having a [Y][C][C] attack cost is a bit more awkward than M Rayquaza EX’s [C][C][C], but with both Max Elixir and Exp. Share in the format, it’s not too difficult to power up Xerneas’ attack.

While many players may be tempted to go an all non-EX route for this deck, playing Hoopa EX, Shaymin EX, and an assortment of EX’s like the dual type Volcanion EX, among other EX Pokemon is probably the best way to play the deck. This will make the deck much faster and consistent in its setup than a non-EX version can be. Think back to Night March last season, it was a deck that freely played multiple Shaymin EX down onto its bench in most of its games and it was the most dominant deck for most of last season. Having prize liabilities on your bench is less of an issue when you’re blasting everything for OHKO’s.

galvantula-steam-siege-sts-42This deck can be countered by Parallel City, but it’s not nearly as bad for this deck as it is for M Rayquaza EX. The dual type Pokemon give this deck an added damage output, even if it does get hit by a Parallel City. For example, if your opponent players Parallel City, cutting you down to a bench of Xerneas BKT, Volcanion EX, and Galvantula STS, you’re still at 160 damage output. Play down a Sky Field and one additional Pokemon, and you’re going to be up to 190 already. Additionally, while M Rayquaza EX can be locked out by Giratina EX fairly effectively, Xerneas doesn’t care if they use Chaos Wheel to lock a Parallel City in, as it can easily OHKO the Giratina EX because of Giratina EX’s Fairy weakness.

Viewing Material: Rainbow Road Deck Analysis and Battles! (PRC-On) – OmniPoke YouTube

3. Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX

xerneas-break-steam-siege-sts-82This is essentially a ripoff of the Darkrai EX/Giratina EX deck that popped up towards the end of last season, just swapping in Xerneas BREAK for Darkrai EX BPT. Xerneas BREAK’s attack is a little bit weaker, doing 20x instead of 20+ like Darkrai EX does, but it is a non-EX attacker, which can help the deck prize trade better. Like its predecessor, the deck uses the attachment of a Double Dragon Energy to power its attack by +40 damage, although one thing to note is that Xerneas BREAK doesn’t care about the type of Energy that is in play, so Giratina EX could theoretically be replaced by something that attached Double Colorless Energy to itself and it would have the same damage output.

The deck is able to get lots of Energy into play very quickly with Xerneas XY’s Geomancy attack, which lets you attach two Fairy Energy from your deck to two of your Benched Pokemon, as well as Max Elixir. Once these Energy are in play, they stay on the field because of Exp. Share, so the deck doesn’t lose damage output as the game goes on.

Giratina EX gives the deck an alternate attacker to be used against Mega Pokemon decks and decks that are reliant on Special Energy, such as Vespiquen decks. The deck also has good mobility with Fairy Garden as a Stadium option for the deck.

Viewing Material: Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX Deck & Battle PTCGO – Rare Candy YouTube

4. M Mewtwo EX (Y)/Garbodor

m-mewtwo-ex-breakthrough-bkt-160-312x441M Mewtwo EX (Y) is surely a power house. Its Psychic Infinity, which does 10+ 30 more damage for each Energy attached to both Active Pokemon, is a stronger version of Mewtwo EX’s X-Ball and Yveltal EX’s Evil Ball.  With Psychic Infinity, M Mewtwo EX can easily 2HKO anything in the game, and once it gets enough Energy on it (or is up against a Pokemon with plenty of Energy on itself) it will easily OHKO many Pokemon.

While Psychic Infinity is certainly strong, what makes M Mewtwo EX super strong is actually its pre-evolution, Mewtwo EX BKT.  Mewtwo EX has an attack called Damage Change, which turns this into a tank deck, allowing you to switch all damage counters on your Mewtwo EX with your opponent’s Active Pokemon. You’re able to use this with M Mewtwo EX by using the Stadium Card Shrine of Memories, which lets you use the attacks of your pre-evolutions. If you use Damage Change against a Pokemon with no damage counters on it, you will completely heal off your M Mewtwo EX. This means that anything that can’t OHKO a M Mewtwo EX might find itself in trouble very quickly as the M Mewtwo EX continuously heals itself to prevent knockouts.


There is the other M Mewtwo EX, which comes with an advantage of 230 HP compared to 210 HP, as well as an attack that does a clean 200 damage, going through all effects such as Safe Guard or Renegade Pulse, but 200 damage isn’t quite as good in a format with irremovable Fighting Fury Belts and Mega Pokemon with 210+ HP. Additionally, the attack costs [P][F][F][C] making it much more difficult to power up. While the extra HP adds to its tankiness, M Mewtwo EX (Y) is probably the way to go because it should be much more consistent. At City Championships this past season, players experimented with playing both in the same deck, so we may see some of that as well.

mewtwo-ex-breakthrough-bkt-158Recognizing the strength of Damage Change, it should be no mystery why the three decks above this one can cleanly OHKO a M Mewtwo EX.

While I’m not a fan of Garbodor in most decks, it actually makes a bit more sense in this one because without it, Mew FCO and the soon to be released Mew EX could become splashable counters to M Mewtwo EX, as they’re both Psychic type so they hit it for Weakness, and one of the two could be used in nearly anything as a counter because they both have Abilities that let them copy Pokemon’s attacks in some way.

Reading Material: To Infinity and Beyond: The Rise of Mega Mewtwo – Pokebeach.com

Tier 2

5. M Scizor EX/Garbodor

m-scizor-ex-breakpoint-bkp-77-312x441We already have two Fairy decks placed in Tier 1, and there is more to come in Tier 2, so naturally a strong Metal deck will have strong positioning in the format. M Scizor EX isn’t a spectacular attacker by any means, but it can OHKO any Metal weak Fairy Pokemon and it can 2HKO everything else (except Wailord EX).

Building on its attack, most players have chosen to build a disruption variant around the card. Iron Crusher, in addition to its 120 damage, lets you choose to either discard a Stadium card in play or a Special Energy attached to the opponent’s Active Pokemon. Players have added Garbodor, Crushing Hammer, and Team Flare Grunt to support the disruptive theme set by M Scizor’s attack.

garbodor-breakpoint-bkp-57-312x441In a format where Stadium’s and Special Energy have become so integral to most deck’s, M Scizor EX is set in a great place to disrupt some of the top decks. An underrated aspect of this deck is its capability to get rid of its own Hoopa EX and Shaymin EX’s from its bench. While most decks would be locked if their opponent got the Parallel City down first, M Scizor EX can simply discard the opponent’s Parallel City opening up the window for you to play down your own Parallel City to discard any liabilities from your bench.

M Scizor EX is by no means a dominant deck, but it does do some specific things to counter some of the best and most hyped decks in the format, and has generally solid matchups against most other decks. The one deck that it really doesn’t have an answer for is Volcanion EX which easily wins the matchup thanks to M Scizor EX’s Fire weakness.

Viewing Material: Main Deck Monday #74 Mega Scizor/Garbodor – Team Fish Knuckles YouTube

6. Volcanion/Volcanion EX

volcanion-ex-steam-siege-sts-26Headed into the World Championship, players weren’t quite sure how good this deck archetype was, but it proved itself to be pretty strong as a pair of Japanese players finished 10th and 11th with the deck in the Masters Division. In the rotation the deck lost Blacksmith, taking away from it some of the strongest Energy acceleration in the game, but with Volcanion’s Power Heater alongside Max Elixir, the deck still has plenty of Energy Acceleration options.

With Volcanion EX’s Steam Up Ability, it can hit most important damage numbers. Three Steam Up and a Fighting Fury Belt, for example, lets you OHKO anything with 230 HP or less . Volcanion can also take OHKO’s on EX’s with its Steam Artillery attack, but with a base damage of 100 damage it is a struggle for it to OHKO M Pokemon EX consistently, although it is possible.

Unfortunately, Garbodor looks to be popular, which does hurt Volcanion EX decks a little bit as Steam Up is an important Ability to the deck. However, Garbodor isn’t that detrimental to the deck as Volcanion, Volcanion EX, and Flareon EX all can easily OHKO a Garbodor, so just using Lysandre to get rid of the Garbodor is easy enough to pull off. Not every deck has such an easy time taking out a Garbodor.

There is also a lack of strong Water Pokemon in the format (outside of the dual type Volcanion EX), so losing solely to bad typing won’t really be the case for Volcanion EX. Having an easy auto win against the M Scizor EX deck, which is quickly gaining popularity, is also something working in Volcanion EX’s favor.

Reading Material: Bring the Heat with Volcanion-EX! – Pokemon.com

7. M Gardevoir EX (PRC/STS)/Xerneas BREAK

m-gardevoir-ex-primal-clash-pcl-106-312x441This deck takes on the same strategy as the Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX, but instead of going for disruption, it chooses to go for more power. M Gardevoir EX has the same style of attack as Xerneas BREAK, only it does 30x instead of 20x, allowing you to hit for bigger damage numbers than Xerneas BREAK can for the same amount of Energy. M Gardevoir EX also has 210 HP, giving it a little bit more staying power than Xerneas BREAK.

Like Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX, this deck also uses Xerneas XY, Max Elixir, and Exp. Share to create a a sustainable field full of Energy. The deck is able to go in a bit more aggressively against M Mewtwo EX decks thanks to the M Gardevoir EX from Steam Siege, which is a dual Psychic/Fairy type, allowing it to hit M Mewtwo EX for weakness. The deck typically plays one of those as a tech card for M Mewtwo EX decks.

While this variant is slightly more powerful in terms of attacking power, it also comes with a very straight forward strategy. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it also means this is the type of deck that once players solve the matchup against this deck for one of their decks they should beat it almost every time as there isn’t any neat tricks or complex strategy this type of deck can pull out to really outplay an opponent.

Viewing Material: Pokemon Cards – Mega Gardevoir EX Deck Profile! Deck Tech Thursday #18 – The Pokemon Evolutionaries YouTube

8. M Gardevoir EX (STS)

m-gardevoir-ex-steam-siege-sts-79This is one of the most consistent decks in the format as it’s able to play down Hoopa EX and Shaymin EX every turn of the game to get setup and keep its draw going. The reason it is able to do this is because it continuously replenishes them into the deck with Super Rod after discarding them with Despair Ray. Being able to discard Pokemon like Shaymin EX, which are only liabilities once on your bench, is terrific and forces the opponent to actually have to deal with the primary attacker of the deck to win the game.

One of the best attributes of M Gardevoir EX is its dual Psychic/Fairy typing. This allows it to be one of the hardest counters in the game to both M Mewtwo EX and Giratina EX. With a base damage of 110, M Gardevoir easily OHKO’s any Hoopa EX (from weakness) or Shaymin EX that you can Lysandre up, making M Gardevoir EX super efficient at taking out these common bench sitters.

Thanks to Hoopa EX, the deck easily refills its bench each turn, making swinging for 170 or 180 damage fairly easy. This may not be enough because of Fighting Fury Belt, but you can leverage Absol ROS to move damage around to try to setup a OHKO elsewhere later in the game.

The deck does currently have a problem in the Standard format with running out of steam towards the end of the game. Super Rod simply isn’t enough recovery to keep big attacks going throughout a long, tough fought game. Losing Sacred Ash in rotation certainly hurts this deck. However, the deck gets Karen soon and should be able to avoid running out of steam once it gets to play that in the deck.

Reading Material: Despair Not, Mega Gardevoir Is Here – Breaking Down Mega Gardevoir From Steam Siege – TheCharizardLounge.com

9. M Rayquaza EX (Colorless)

m-rayquaza-ex-roaring-skies-ros-105-312x441This was the most hyped deck headed into the 2016-2017 season, but the new format looks super hostile against the deck so far. This isn’t how things were supposed to be, Night March was rotating out of the format and everything was supposed to be all sunshine for Mega Ray.

I think ultimately Pokemon felt that they had made M Rayquaza EX too strong, so they decided to print Parallel City to give players a hard counter to it. Take Parallel City out of the format and all of a sudden M Rayquaza EX becomes much harder to stop. Just in the 7 decks we’ve already covered, three of them (Xerneas BREAK/Giratina EX, M Metwo EX/Garbodor, and M Scizor EX/Garbodor) almost always run Parallel City, and it’s also not uncommon to see Parallel City in Vespiquen decks. I’ve also seen players teching Parallel City into Volcanion EX decks specifically to counter M Rayquaza EX decks.

parallel-city-breakthrough-bkt-145-312x441Getting hit by a Parallel City is simply too much for M Rayquaza EX to overcome in most games. There isn’t any way, at least currently, for M Rayquaza EX to repeatedly rebuild its bench after getting hit by Parallel City. Once Karen comes out, it will be better able to recover from Parallel City, so it might start creeping back towards the upper end of Tier 2 in time for the Orlando Regional Championship.

While it may solve its Parallel City recovery problem, this is still a deck with problems. It doesn’t trade well with Rainbow Road, and while it can then counter Vespiquen decks with Karen, they can resort to playing Zebstrika to OHKO a M Rayquaza EX. the deck also has no real answer to Giratina EX decks, as they can lock Parallel City into place with Chaos Wheel, and then M Rayquaza EX needs to 3HKO the Giratina EX while playing Hex Maniac each time it attacks to knock one out if they have Fighting Fury Belt attached, or attack into it with the non-evolved Rayquaza EX, which is a losing prize trade.

I think there are also some consistency problems with M Rayquaza EX that players don’t like to talk about, but that do exist. Without Battle Compressor it’s hard to activate your Mega Turbo, especially when you only play around 4 Basic Energy. Additionally, M Rayquaza decks typically don’t play too many Supporter cards, and without Battle Compressor it can be difficult to make all of your VS Seekers live cards.

The deck struggles mightily with most of the other decks in the top tiers, but it is actually pretty good against the decks outside the top two tiers, so if there is a reshuffling of what decks constitute the top tier, M Rayquaza EX can gain some strength from more favorable matchups.

Viewing Material: Road to TCG Worlds 2017 #005 – Mega Rayquaza EX/Zoroark – Tablemon YouTube

10. Darkrai EX/Giratina EX

darkrai-ex-breakpoint-bkp-74-312x441Darkrai EX/Giratina EX hit the scene at the Origins Game Fair in June when the Michigan State Pokemon team unveiled the new deck and landed three members of their team into the Top 8 of that tournament. Liam Williams almost took the deck all the way during US Nationals, finishing 4th place, ultimately losing to Marcos Garcia’s Seismitoad EX/Giratina EX deck in Top 4. While the deck was successful at both Origins and the US National Championship, zero variants of the deck made it into the Top 32 at the World Championship and zero players actually even chose to play the deck during Day 2, which may have been a mistake with all the Night March decks that were played and a Mega Pokemon deck winning it all.

giratina-ex-ancient-origins-aor-57-312x441For those not yet familiar with this former powerhouse, the deck plays similarly to the Xerneas Break/Giratina EX deck. Darkrai EX’s Dark Pulse attack does 20 damage plus 20 more damage for each Darkness Energy attached to it. You are able to attach Double Dragon to Giratina EX to provide +40 damage, and can also use Giratina EX as a disruptive attacker. Hydreigon EX is played in the deck to give your Giratina EX free retreat when a Stadium card is in play, and it can also be used to knockout Jolteon EX. There is also an alternative variant without Hydreigon EX that chooses to play Garbodor instead.

This deck’s biggest issue entering the new Standard format is that Fairy decks are looking to be some of the best and most popular decks early on, which is going to make it very difficult for this deck to have much success. However, this is an inherently strong deck with fairly strong answers to Mega Pokemon (just not Fairy Mega Pokemon), so if the meta moves away from Fairy Pokemon, this deck should have a chance to thrive.

Viewing Material: Pokemon TCG Darkrai EX/Giratina EX/Garbodor Deck – New Rotation Decklist! – WorldRenownedHeretic YouTube

Tier 3 and Beyond

M Audino EX

m-audino-ex-fates-collide-fcl-85-312x441 (1)It was a magical weekend for M Audino EX at the World Championship as Shintaro Ito won the entire tournament with his M Audino EX. The M Audino EX was able to pull off the victory by trading prizes well with the current meta decks of the time, in particular Night March, Vespiquen, and Greninja variants among others. In the new Standard format, it doesn’t look like there will be many magical weekends in M Audino’s future. As we move to a format with bigger Basic Pokemon and tons of Mega Pokemon that can trade well with M Audino, it doesn’t seem like this World Championship winning deck will have any impact on the new season.

Greninja BREAK/Talonflame

greninja-break-breakpoint-bkp-41-312x441Things don’t appear to bode too well for the other finalist deck either. Despite losing barely any core cards in the rotation, this deck is in a very tough position headed into the new season. M Pokemon EX such as M Mewtwo EX, M Rayquaza EX, and M Gardevoir EX should provide tough matchups for Greninja as they all OHKO Greninja and its BREAK fairly easily, while having loads of HP that Greninja has to fight through.

To make matters worse, Greninja now no longer has a way to deal with Garbodor. In the previous format, Greninja decks could play either Startling Megaphone or Xerosic to re-activate their Abilities, which is no longer an option. Using Lysandre to knockout Garbodor is also not a real option as without Muscle Band, Greninja decks cannot reach the 100 damage needed to knock it out in one hit.

Most likely Greninja decks will be forced to sit on the sidelines during the early portions of the season. If we get some type of way for Greninja decks to deal with Garbotoxin efficiently they will have a good shot of finding at least a Tier 2 positioning in the meta.


zoroark-breakthrough-bkt-91-312x441Yveltal/Zoroark is another one of the core decks from last season. The deck, in its latest iteration uses Captivating Pokepuff in an attempt to fill up the opponent’s bench so it can swing for bigger damage with its Mind Jack attack. Zoroark BREAK also lets you copy your opponent’s attacks, but with so many of the best decks being built around cards that gain strength based on specific conditions (Vespiquen based on Pokemon in the discard pile for example), it can be hard to find an attack worth copying in many matchups. Variants of the deck from the second half of the season tended to be non-EX, but early season variants typically played a couple copies of Yveltal EX as well.

The current format doesn’t seem very friendly to this deck. Losing Muscle Band makes it difficult for this deck to hit magic numbers for knockouts, there are a lot of decks playing Parallel City, which could allow them to clear the bench of excess Pokemon to limit Mind Jack’s damage, and there are a lot of Fairy decks running around.

Yveltal EX

yveltal-ex-xy-promos-xy150Yveltal EX decks have been one of the most successful deck variants in the Expanded format and with Joltik rotating out of Standard, there may be some openings for them to make a comeback in Standard. Many of the Expanded versions have already dropped Hypnotoxic Laser and Virbank City Gym in favor of Parallel City and Silent Lab, both of which are still legal in Standard format. Max Elixir isn’t quite as good as Dark Patch, but its a serviceable substitute to give such a deck acceleration.

Additionally, Dark has a lot going for it, especially in the context of a Mega Evolution meta game. Yveltal BKT with its Fright Night Ability makes all Pokemon Tool cards have no effect when its in the active slot, which means if your opponent evolves into a Mega while Yveltal is Active, their turn is over. Additionally, Dark decks also have access to Umbreon EX who can take four prizes against Mega Pokemon with its End Game attack. This can turn games against Mega Pokemon into a matter of knocking out a Shaymin EX and one Mega Pokemon.

The one thing to not like about Yveltal EX is the prevalence of Fairy decks in the meta game. With resistance, it can be difficult for Yveltal EX to hit the proper damage numbers to prize trade effectively against them. However, Fairy dominance probably shouldn’t be an all season thing, and Yveltal EX is certainly a strong enough card to get back into the mix in the Standard format.

Zygarde EX Stuff

zygarde-ex-fates-collide-fcl-54-312x441I think Zygarde EX is another Standard concept that is booming with potential, but which hasn’t been thoroughly tested so people are still far off from seeing this deck in its most powerful form. I do think the Zygarde EX/Vileplume deck is probably done for with the loss of AZ, and it wasn’t even that good to begin with.

However, regular Zygarde EX builds could be quite good. A Zygarde EX with Strong Energy, a Fighting Fury Belt, and some Regirock EX on the bench can hit for some impressive damage numbers all for a single Energy. With 230 HP (with the FFB), it’s difficult to knockout, and since you made only a single Energy investment, you can simply Max Potion the damage off, similar to what we did with Landorus EX a few years ago. The deck also has access to Carbink for its Safeguard Ability to slow the game down, and Carbink BREAK to quickly setup a Zygarde EX for strong attacks. Additionally, the deck has Power Memory which adds the attack All Cells Burn, which does 200 damage, and can even go up a little bit higher with Strong Energy and Regirock EX to boost the damage output, which can make it a realistic option for OHKO’ing Mega Pokemon.

It’s early, but there’s a lot of good tools for Zygarde EX to work with, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it crack into the meta game as the season goes on.

Vileplume/Ninja Boy

vileplume-ancient-origins-aor-3-312x441This was another surprise deck at the World Championship, piloted by Sam Hough to a third place finish. His deck used Vileplume to lock the opponent from playing Item cards, limiting their access to counter cards, and then used Ninja Boy to switch between a set of attackers aimed at countering the meta game in some way, using Rainbow Energy to power up the colored costs of his Pokemon’s attacks.

This deck was primarily built around Jolteon EX, Glaceon EX, and Aegislash EX. Aegislash EX rotated out of format, so the deck doesn’t necessarily have a good out against Special Energy reliant decks any more. Additionally, the meta game shifting to be very Mega Pokemon heavy isn’t very good for this deck, as Mega Pokemon decks feature both a Basic and an Evolution, giving most of them options for dealing with both Jolteon EX and Glaceon EX.

While Sam’s deck may not port over to the new format that well, this style of deck will always be a threat. It’s success will hinge on player’s being able to correctly identify the correct counter cards they need to be playing to take down a format.

M Sceptile EX

m-sceptile-ex-ancient-origins-aor-85This deck is similar to M Mewtwo EX in that it creates a large HP cap that players will have to deal with to beat the deck. M Sceptile EX’s Jagged Saber attack heals all damage from the Pokemon that you attach Energy to, so this deck can punish any deck that is unable to take down it’s 220 HP. This attack is also much easier to use, costing only [G][C] and not requiring a Stadium Card in play like M Mewtwo EX neesd to use Damage Swap.

However, there are some downsides. M Sceptile EX’s 100 damage is okay, but it’s not overly threatening, so players will have plenty of time to get things together against this deck. This is in sharp contrast to M Mewtwo EX which can put lots of pressure on opponent’s with its Psychic Infinity which can be built up to OHKO any Pokemon in the game. The Fire Weakness is also much worse than M Mewtwo EX’s Psychic Weakness

M Alakazam EX

m-alakazam-ex-fates-collide-fcl-26-312x441Back when the Memphis Grizzlies were getting their butts whooped by the San Antonio Spurs in the playoffs this  year, Matt Barnes told reporters “We’re coming to a gunfight with spoons.” Matt Barnes obviously doesn’t have friends like Alakazam, because I think an Alakazam would do quite well in such a scenario.

This is a largely unexplored archetype, but it has the potential to be a very strong one. The deck is able to put a lot of damage on the field quickly with Alakazam EX’s Kinesis Ability, and then M Alakazam can take knockouts against high HP Pokemon fairly easily with Zen Force, which does 10 damage plus 30 more damage for each damage counter on the Defending Pokemon.

While a deck built around these two has some potential, being so Ability reliant makes it too questionable to truly recommend in the new format. To make matters worse, neither Alakazam EX or M Alakazam EX have attacks that can unconditionally knockout a Garbodor, meaning Garbodor would likely shutdown this deck completely.

Primal Groudon EX

primal-groudon-ex-primal-clash-pcl-86-312x441Primal Groudon EX enjoyed plenty of success in the Expanded format last season, establishing itself as a solid Tier 2 deck. It was even able to win a Regional Championship with Sebastian Crema winning Oregon Regionals with the deck. However, it failed to gain much traction in Standard last season, despite most of the deck being intact in that format, the most notable omission being Tropical Beach.

I wouldn’t be shocked to see Primal Groudon EX find some success this season as it has lots of good support to use. As far as Fighting type goes, it has Carbink and Carbink BREAK. Carbink gives it a Safeguard Pokemon to wall behind while it gets setup on the bench, and Carbink BREAK can be used to accelerate Energy to a Primal Groudon EX. Alternatively, players can choose to slowdown the game by playing Wobbuffet PHF, similar to the Expanded version of the deck. Wobbuffet was reprinted in Generations, so it’s still legal to be played.

As far as attack power goes, Primal Groudon EX stacks up well in this format. With a couple of Strong Energy attached, it can attack for 240 damage and knockout any Mega Pokemon in the game. It’s 240 HP can be tough to take down in a single hit, and it could potentially even play something like Assault Vest to make itself even harder to knockout.

Primal Kyogre EX

primal-kyogre-ex-primal-clash-pcl-55-312x441 (1)Primal Kyogre EX saw some success during State Championships immediately after its release, and then at US Nationals later that season, but it ended up being nearly non-existent this past season. It was way too slow for a format the involved lots of Vespiquen and Night March decks.

In the upcoming format it begins to have more potential. It’s 240 HP makes it tough to take down, meaning it will likely get to attack multiple times in many matchups. The 150 damage number is fairly strong, and the 30 snipe to EX’s builds up over the course of the game. It also gets significantly better in a format without AZ, as opponent’s can’t pick up Pokemon like Shaymin EX off their bench without attacking with them (which is a wasted attack because of Rough Seas) to avoid them being swept away by a Tidal Storm.

While Primal Kyogre EX probably can’t matchup well with speedy non-EX decks like Rainbow Road, and potentially Xerneas BREAK variants, it could be solid against other EX decks and some of the Mega Pokemon decks as it clearly outclasses some of the Mega EX’s in damage output and HP.


magnezone-breakthrough-bkt-54After the success of Emboar BLW and Blastoise BCR, it seemed as if Magnezone would be destined to be a dominant force in the meta game, but so far it hasn’t produced any significant results while those two cards were off winning the World Championship and Regional Championships shortly after being released.

Some of this is probably just a result of a weaker attacker set. Raikou BKT has Thunder Lance that does 50+ 20 more for each Lightning attached to it, which is the same attack as Keldeo EX’s Secret Sword on a non-EX, but the attack is significantly less powerful in a format where it has to take on Mega Pokemon and belted Basic Pokemon. It simply takes too many Energy to reach the damage numbers for OHKO’s against these Pokemon, and 2HKO’s aren’t good enough when you are going to be slower to setup.

pikachu-ex-xy-promos-xy124Pikachu EX has no damage cap, but at 130 HP, it is very easy to knockout, lacking the survivability of Pokemon like Rayquaza EX and Black Kyurem EX. The newly released Kingdra EX has some potential with Magnezone, but it requires Water Energy to be played in the deck which would hurt the consistency a little bit and a Fairy weakness isn’t a good thing to have right now.

If a strong attacker that uses Lightning Energy is released, this deck could have some potential to gain a place in the higher tiers, but it will always be limited by Garbodor until an easy way to deal with that is released.


This article hopefully accomplishes its goals of getting players acquainted with the Standard Format for the beginning of the 2016-2017 season. In this article we have gone over 21 decks in total, which should give you a fairly comprehensive view of the decks that you can probably expect to see at the tournaments you go to.

However, there are far more decks than just the 21 that we’ve gone over. Some of the other decks you might see are Medicham/Carbink BREAK, Entei/Volcanion EX, Machamp EX/Ariados, Typhlosion BKT, Houndoom EX/Bunnelby mill, Garchomp/Octillery, and Serperior, as well as many, many mores.

Featured Image Credit: The Pokemon Wiki

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