Howdy PTCGO Store readers! This is Isaac bringing you another article, this time on the current state of the standard format as well as my top pick going into expanded. After all the tournaments with the current standard format, it has become very defined and the same top decks continue to perform well. Malamar has picked up a large amount of success as many players are beginning to realize its potential and the large skill gap that it presents. After experiences with the Pokemon TCG format several times at regionals and cups, I’ve concluded that Pokemon Gardevoir & Sylveon GX is my favorite deck in PTCGO and has the best matchup spread. Below is my current list for the deck, card explanations, and matchups:

Pokemon - 5 
  • 4 Gardevoir & Sylveon GX UNB
  • 1 Xerneas GX FLI
Trainers - 46
  • 1 Cherish Ball
  • 4 Custom Catcher
  • 2 Energy Spinner
  • 1 Great Catcher
  • 2 Great Potion
  • 4 Pokegear 3.0
  • 3 Reset Stamp
  • 3 Switch
  • 3 Tag Call
  • 2 Tag Switch
  • 4 Power Plant
  • 3 Coach Trainer
  • 3 Cynthia & Caitlyn
  • 2 Faba
  • 4 Green’s Exploration
  • 2 Mallow & Lana
  • 2 Psychic Fairy Charm
  • 1 Island Challenge Amulet
Energy - 9 
  • 9 Basic Fairy Energ

If you guys need any cards for this deck for the Pokemon TCG Online, make sure to check out our codes right here at The PTCGO Store!

Card Explanations

1 Xerneas

Mega Lopunny & Jigglypuff GX, Lugia GX, and Xerneas GX are the three different options you have when picking another Pokemon to play. In Drew Cate’s list from Daytona, he played a Lugia GX since there were several ADPs who played the Lucario & Melmetal GX. Since not many people play that card anymore, Xerneas best fits this slot in my opinion. Especially with Malamar picking up popularity, Xerneas is very useful as you can heal all the damage that is sitting on your Gardevoir & Sylveons.

1 Cherish Ball

Playing Cherish Ball makes the most sense because we do not play the Omastar, so it can search out any Pokemon in the deck.

2 Great Potion

At Daytona regionals, Dean Nezam played two great potion and it seemed very good vs things like Malamar and ADP. Playing the Potions over Mallow & Lana for a turn seems really good as a healing out.

2 Psychic Charm

Mewtwo has been very popular at my cups so this card has been super useful. Versus Malamar, it is also good if they play the Gengar & Mimikyu GX or the Trevenant & Dusknoir GX. Blocking damage from their attacks is highly impactful on the outcome of the game.

1 Amulet

The Amulet is good in the matchups where Xerneas GX is not as useful. For example, versus Ability Zard, all of their Pokemon are capable of one-shotting the Gardevoir & Sylveon GXs.

Matchups

Mewtwo (65-35)

This matchup is favorable for the Gardeon player mostly because of the two Psychic Charms and the four Power Plant. Most Mewtwo lists just play the Reshiram & Charizard GX and some play the Greninja GX (which only hits for 130). Xerneas GX does not do anything in this matchup, but the Amulet is very useful, as it requires them to knockout 3 Gardevoir & Sylveons to win the game.

Malamar (75-25)

This matchup is extremely favorable as Gardeon plays so many healing cards as well as the Xerneas GX. The matchup does take a long time as you are only knocking out one prize Pokemon and they have to hit the Gardeons multiple times before a knockout can be taken. If the Malamar player is playing a Garchomp & Giratina GX, then it can be a bit hard since they can easily one-shot the Gardevoir & Sylveon GXs.

ADP (55-45)

This matchup is pretty close, as it has always been. As long as the ADP player is not playing a Lucario & Melmetal GX, then the matchup should be pretty simple. You can get an easy one shot on the ADP and then follow it up with a one shot on Keldeo GX, after playing down a Power Plant. The Chaotic Swell can be a bit annoying for the Gardeon player as they are force to find their Fabas when they need them. The problem with this is that ADP plays two Reset Stamp usually, so they can make it harder for you to pull off the combo.

Ability Zard (40-60)

Ability Zard isn’t a matchup I am usually worried about, but if the deck sees a rise in play, then I would consider not playing Gardeon. The Amulet does help this matchup a lot though, as you can Stamp the Ability Zard Player late game, when their deck doesn’t have many outs to it. Combined with a Power Plant, the Stamp can be detrimental to Ability Zard, so the matchup isn’t a complete autoloss.
 

These four decks have been the most popular decks we have seen at the past cups, and with Gardeon taking decent matchups versus all of them, I believe it is a good play for the rest of the time we have in the standard format before Sword and Shield comes out.
 

I know in my last article I talked about Zoroark Garbodor in expanded and how it was my favorite deck. I still believe it is a very good play for Dallas regionals, but I have recently been testing a lot of Dark Box. Dark Box has been around in the expanded format for a while, but now with most of the control decks decreasing in popularity, I believe it is very strong and a good contender going into Dallas. Below is my current list that I have, card explanations, and some important matchups that we see in expanded:

Pokemon - 16 
  • 2 Shaymin EX ROS
  • 1 Darkrai EX LTR
  • 2 Darkrai GX BUS
  • 1 Greninja & Zoroark GX UNB
  • 1 Guzzlord CEC
  • 1 Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX UNM
  • 2 Sneasel UPR
  • 2 Weavile GX UNM
  • 1 Umbreon & Darkrai GX UNM
  • 1 Sudowoodo GRI
  • 1 Dedenne GX UNB
  • 1 Mew FCO
Trainers - 32
  • 2 Battle Compressor
  • 4 Dark Patch
  • 1 Dowsing Machine
  • 1 Field Blower
  • 1 Hypnotoxic Laser
  • 4 Max Elixir
  • 3 Trainers’ Mail
  • 4 Ultra Ball
  • 4 VS Seeker
  • 3 Sky Field
  • 1 Colress
  • 1 Guzma
  • 1 N
  • 2 Professor Sycamore
Energy - 12 
  • 12 Basic Darkness Energy

If you guys need any cards for this deck for the Pokemon TCG Online, make sure to check out our codes right here at The PTCGO Store!

Card Explanations

1 Greninja & Zoroark GX

Unlike other Dark Box lists, the list I have plays multiple one-of attackers that have their specific uses versus certain matchups. The one Greninja & Zoroark GX If it is prized it isn’t a very big deal, however it is a very strong card.

1 Guzzlord

This is a new card to come out in Cosmic Eclipse that I believe is a strong inclusion in this deck. Versus one-prize attacking decks, it is extremely useful in swinging the prize trade in the Dark Box player’s favor. One matchup specifically would be versus Ultra Necrozma. The Guzzlord can one shot every attacker in their deck.

1 Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX

This card is the main attacker in any matchup where there are other GXs that cannot one shot it, such as versus Zoroark Garbodor. This card heavily swings the matchup in Dark Box’s favor as all you need to do is knockout two Zoroark GX's to win the game.

2-2 Weavile GX

Most Dark Box lists play just a 1-1 line of Weavile GX, but I believe that 2-2 is good for consistency and helps a lot versus EggRow. With the Umbreon and Darkrai GX, Mega Sableye & Tyranitar GX, and the Guzzlord, a 2-2 line seems necessary in pulling off all of these attacks. If you have to discard a piece early or prize a piece, then you still have the other pieces in your deck to work with.

1 Umbreon & Darkrai GX

This card is mainly used vs any matchup that plays other large HP attacking Pokemon. Versus Gardeon, you can take an easy one-shot early game and not let them play any trainers during their next turn. Since we only play one Hypnotoxic Laser (which is used for the Dead End GX attack on Darkrai GX), the Umbreon & Darkrai GX is a good substitute. The Black Lance attack is also very useful to snipe things like Shaymin EX on the bench.

Sudowoodo

This card is useful in several different matchups, such as mirror, ReshiRom, and even Mega Rayquaza. Mainly for mirror, it stops your opponent from popping off and attaching an absurd amount of energy Without Sudowoodo, you are likely losing the Dark Box mirror, which is very important in my opinion.

Matchups

Gardeon (50-50)

This matchup really just comes down to who draws better, assuming both players play optimally. If the Gardeon player misses their Wonder Energy, then you can clean them up with Darkrai GX’s GX attack or Umbreon & Darkrai GX’s GX attack. If they have the Wonder Energy, then you need to go for a big energy board and attack with Greninja & Zoroark GX. This is why the matchup can be draw-dependent on both sides.

Zoro Garb (65-35)

I explained this a little earlier with the Mega Sableye & Tyranitar card, but you pretty much just use the it the whole game and maybe a Greninja & Zoroark GX if it gets sketchy. Their plan is to late game play N plus Garb you and hope you do not dead draw off of it. If you thin your deck properly, the matchup should be fairly easy.

Ultra Necrozma (50-50)

This matchup tends to be pretty close, really coming down to how well the Ultra Necrozma player can stream their attacks. Benching more than one Shaymin EX/Dedenne GX is incorrect as the Ultra Necrozma can easily one-shot them. Finding your one Field Blower and one of your three Sky Field is also important since they are all outs to Silent Lab or the Garbotoxin ability.

EggRow (70-30)

Since we are playing a 2-2 Weavile GX line, their basic lock Vileplume does not do that much. I have played this matchup several times on the Pokemon TCG Online, and it is pretty easy. EggRow is naturally a slow deck and if Dark Box pops off on the first turn of the game, then it is tough for EggRow to keep up.

Mewtwo (70-30)

The 70 HP Sneasels are very important in this matchup. Many other Dark Box lists play the 60 HP one, but it is such a disadvantage in the Mewtwo matchup. You want to keep just one Sneasel on your bench at a time, so the Alolan Marowak GX attack doesn’t Lost Zone of all the Sneasels. Also, if you pull of a Dark Moon GX attack combined with a sky Field, it puts Mewtwo in an awkward position as they can only attack one energy per turn and cannot play any trainers from their hand. If you set up well, the matchup should be easy.

Conclusion

With Dallas Regionals right around the corner, I believe Dark Box is a strong play and can deal with pretty much every deck in the expanded format if it draws well. If you have some standard cups coming up, I would highly consider Gardeon as it can deal with most decks if played correctly. You can test either of these decks on the Pokemon TCG Online. If you need to purchase any codes from sets in standard or expanded, be sure to check out our selection here at The PTCGO Store. With that being said, I hope you guys enjoyed reading this article and my thoughts on the current two formats in the Pokemon TCG! This will be my last article in 2019, enjoy the holidays!