Hello everyone! Today’s article is a bit special, in that it’s not that special! No unique Stage 2 deck or trying to revive an old archetype: instead, I’m going to look at a deck that’s neither the BDIF nor a rogue concept, but one that has a spot in the top 10 since (what seems like) forever: Ice Rider. Don’t worry though, if you prefer fewer Standard articles, I have a very special guide coming out before the end of the year and I hope you’ll be as excited about it as I am!
Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX has been a good deck since it came out in Chilling Reign and even won the POG Championships 2021, the unofficial, community-ran, online “World Championships”. Since rotation, it has struggled to find dominance compared to other archetypes, but at the same time, it has never been bad either. It’s currently the eighth most popular deck of the Fusion Strike format according to the stats on Limitless, just like it was in the Evolving Skies format before. Even a new set didn’t change its place! Just like its typing would suggest, Ice Rider stands in the format like a glacier: solid, unmovable, unremarkable. That last one is a matter of opinion, though.
Since Ice Rider is not a new deck, you might have read about it already. Isaiah Bradner wrote about it back in October, before Fusion Strike came and changed the metagame.
While I recommend reading this piece (and Isaiah’s writing in general), I believe that this build is not the best one in the current format. There are good news for Ice Rider: Zacian V / Zamazenta V, once a top three deck (in popularity at least), has dropped considerably. This is great since it’s a bad matchup for Ice Rider (due to the Metal Weakness). On the other hand, the rise of Mew VMAX means that the deck needs to adapt to consider this massive threat.
My goal here is to explain what needs to change and why, how I’d play the deck now and which cards are worth including or not in the present environment.
I make no claim of revolutionizing the deck. Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX’s best partner is still the Inteleon line. Just like in many decks, Drizzile’s Shady Dealings will draw whichever Trainer cards the deck needs most at any given point, the main one being, of course, Melony. Melony is perfectly suited to Ice Rider, giving it just the Energy acceleration it needs as well as some draw power. Then, Quick Shooting Inteleon can put Pokemon closer to a KO, whereas Shady Dealings Inteleon also gives you the potential to search for more specific cards.
The differences between my list and other ones lie in the details. Here is what my current decklist looks like: