City League Top 16: Pikachu & Zekrom GX

Please find the original Japanese-language article here. Note my translation is not a perfect translation and I have rearranged and reworded some parts of the original article for clarity and readability. I have included external links to Bulbapedia for new cards. Find also some explanatory comments inside square brackets, italicised. 

Hello, it's Paul!

I would like to talk about my Pikachu & Zekrom deck which made top 16 in the Senior division [in Japan, this is for people aged 13 to 18] at the City League Chiba [the Japanese equivalent of Cups] recently.

Deck Choice

The meta was very difficult to predict for this City League, as a new set had just been released and we were short on time. Because of this, we decided that we would need to pick a deck that would be able to compete with all other decks that could be played. So, we wanted a deck that could dish out high damage relatively easily and was able to take a number of Prize Cards in one turn while having durability. I considered both Lycanroc Zoroark and Pikachu & Zekrom, but as I practiced these two decks I found that Lycanroc Zoroark was unfavoured against Pikachu & Zekrom. So, I eventually decided upon Pikachu & Zekrom as my deck.

The Concept

In thinking about what decks would be played, there were three types:
  • Hard hitting, high damage cap decks
Decks such as Rayquaza, Ultra Necrozma and Blacephelon do not really have a set damage cap. These kinds of decks are able to take one shots and take three Prize Cards from a Tag Team GX, so I thought these decks would be good in the new meta.
  •  Tank decks
New cards such as Magikarp & Wailord GX, and Celebi & Venasaur GX have huge amounts of HP and can outlast opposing Pokémon. Though these decks do not have a great matchup against hard hitting decks, we thought they would be powerful as this kind of strategy is not really well known and there would be an element of surprise.
  •   Non-GX decks
Decks such as Giratina Malamar, Lost March and Jirachi Zapdos are decks which attack without using GX Pokémon. While these kinds of decks struggle against high HP decks which have many different healing cards up their sleeve, they are advantaged against high damage cap decks so I thought these decks would also be powerful.

So, I thought the meta would be made up of these three types of decks. I thought Pikachu & Zekrom would thrive in a meta like this, as it can handle all of these deck types.

In summary, I needed to deal with:
  •          High-damage decks
  •          High-durability decks
  •          Non-GX decks
  • High-damage decks
It is possible to catch up to these decks by using Tag Bolt GX and taking four Prize Cards in one turn.  But the challenge was actually getting off a six energy Tag Bolt GX quickly. Running four Energy Switch, Tapu Koko Prism Star and Zeraora GX, you have a lot of flexibility. You can use Zeraora’s ability to retreat for free, and then Energy Switch that Lightning Energy onto your active Pikachu & Zekrom, ensuring you maximise the utility from your Energy. We built our list to try and achieve a quick four Prize turn with Tag Bolt GX.

  • High-durability decks
I thought we could deal with these decks by using Electropowers to one-shot our opponent’s Pokémon, so I did not add any specific techs. I did, however, also include three copies of Choice Band to make it easier to knock out tanky Pokémon.

  • Non-GX Pokémon decks
The main way to win in this matchup is to ensure your opponent never gets ahead of you in the Prize race. This is very important, so you should use your Max Potions wisely, after you have taken some hits from Zapdos/other Pokémon. We aimed to build this deck so it could deal with non-GX Pokémon.

This is the decklist we ended up with:

Pokémon (12)
3 Pikachu & Zekrom GX
2 Zeraora GX
1 Tapu Koko GX
2 Zapdos
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Marshadow
1 Tapu Koko Prism Star

Trainers (36)
4 Lillie
3 Erika’s Hospitality
1 Cynthia
1 Volkner
3 Guzma
4 Ultra Ball
3 Nest Ball
4 Energy Switch
4 Electropower
2 Max Potion
1 Enhanced Hammer
3 Choice Band
2 Viridian Forest
1 Thunder Mountain Prism Star

Energy (12)
12 Lightning Energy

Card choice explanations
  • Pokémon counts
The main attacker is Pikachu & Zekrom GX, of which we have three copies due to the idea that we will play two of them out in a game.

We definitely want at least one Zeraora GX out at all times in order to increase our mobility and it being a heavy hitter, so we want to run two copies.

Zapdos is our alternate attacker, and we only want two copies of it as we will never use more than two copies – we generally want to keep the number of Prize cards remaining on our opponent’s side at four or more. It is especially effective against Fighting Pokémon.

The one copy of Tapu Koko GX is effective in the mirror.

We run two Tapu Lele GX to grab the first turn Lillie and to grab Guzma for game.

I built the deck by thinking about how my opponent would take Prize Cards and adjusting my counts of each Pokémon based on that. Also, the purpose of Marshadow is against high hitting decks, in which you can play it down before your opponent goes into their Beast Ring turn. If they are able to get a Beast Ring off, more often than not they will be able to take three Prize Cards from your Tag Team GX, so this card is very important.
  • Item counts
Essentially, my reasoning is the same as what I have set out above. The one-of Enhanced Hammer is for Zoroark Lycanroc, for when your opponent gets a turn one attachment onto Rockruff. I think Zoroark Lycanroc is very strong in this meta, so I teched for it specifically.
  • Supporter counts
Pikachu & Zekrom is a deck which is strong when you are able to accumulate multiple Electropowers and Energy Switches. So, we decided to include straight draw Supporters. 

The one-of Cynthia is there to refresh your hand where your hand is dead and you cannot make use of Lillie or Erika’s Hospitality. The one-of Volkner is to grab the crucial Electropower or Energy Switch, or matchup specific cards such as Enhanced Hammer or Max Potion.

Essentially, it is a deck that tries to knock out Pokémon in one shot, so we are on the lower end for Guzmas, running only three copies.
  • Stadium counts
The strongest play for this deck is to set up Tapu Koko Prism Star in the early game and establish a board such that you can immediately set up a Pikachu & Zekrom GX by using Thunder Mountain Prism Star and Energy Switch. In order to achieve this, you need to focus on Viridian Forest. You can discard Energy cards from hand and search for an Energy card from deck, meaning you can use Tapu Koko’s ability without falling behind on Energy attachments.

The Deck in Action

This is how I went at the City League:

Round 1: Jirachi/Zapdos/Zeraora – Win
Round 2: Granbull – Loss
Round 3: Lycanroc Zoroark – Win
Round 4: Lycanroc Zoroark – Win
Round 5: Lycanroc Zoroark – Win
Top 16: Ultra Necrozma – Loss

Regarding the metagame of the City League in Chiba, Lycanroc Zoroark and Lightning variants constituted the majority of decks, and then the rest of the decks were the three different types of decks I mentioned above. So, I thought my deck choice was quite good.
There were not as many non-GX decks as I expected, so I couldn’t use Max Potion as much as I wanted to. However, because I played a build that is favourable against Lycanroc Zoroark, I was able to win all rounds against it.

That brings my introduction to the Pikachu & Zekrom deck to a close. If you have any questions, please ask me on @roki_pokeka [his Twitter].

Credit to: for the original Japanese-language article.


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