City League Tokyo Champion: PikaZek

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. Find also some explanatory comments inside square brackets, italicised.


シティリーグ東京優勝 コケコライコウピカゼク

Pokémon (14)
Trainers (34)
Energy (12)
2 Pikachu & Zekrom GX
2 Zeraora GX
2 Tapu Koko GX
2 Tapu Lele GX
1 Tapu Koko Prism Star
2 Zapdos
2 Raikou
1 Marshadow

4 Ultra Ball
4 Acro Bike
4 Electropower
3 Choice Band
4 Cynthia
3 Lillie
3 Volkner
4 Guzma
2 Acerola
2 Aether Paradise 
1 Thunder Mountain Prism Star
12 Lightning

Hello, I am Summit (@piplup_1217).

This is an article about the deck list I used to place first at the Season 2 City League in Tokyo [Note: there are 4 seasons for City Leagues in Japan –  somewhat similar to our quarters, except you can only compete in one City League per quarter. This City League was held in December last year].

Introduction

My Deck Choice

Firstly, the main reason why I settled on this deck was because I wanted to have a positive matchup against two deck archetypes: Jirachi Zapdos and spread decks. I believed they would make up a significant portion of the metagame. In the current standard format, there were some Lightning decks that I had taken a liking to. I noticed that a number of these decks included copies of Raikou. By using a combination of Raikou’s attack and Electropower, you can knock out an opposing Zapdos while charging up your next attacker. In addition, 120 HP is a good number as it does not fall prey to a Thunderous Assault with an Electropower from Zapdos.


Next, I considered Zeraora GX to be a powerful attacker, but in a meta with so many Fighting decks around, I didn't think it would be wise to base my deck around it.  I then considered Tapu Koko GX due to its lack of weakness. It can hit quite hard with the aid of Electropowers and with its GX attack. Since Tapu Koko GX is synergistic with Acerola, running it improves the matchup against Jirachi Zapdos and spread decks.

Card choices

This deck is an Electric toolbox. Your attacker changes both depending on the matchup and the state of the game.

Raikou

ライコウ

This is the foundation of the deck, as explained above. I considered running a count of three to four in order to increase the odds of opening with it, but I ended up increasing the counts of other Pokemon and kept it at two. My reasoning behind this is that you will only ever need one or two copies per game.


Zeraora GX



ゼラオラGX



Zeraora is our main GX attacker, with  both a powerful ability and attack. Where the opponent is playing an aggressive GX deck, we may use Full Voltage GX early. However, we may want to save our GX attack for Tapu Thunder, as it is unlikely that we will have five Energies in the discard in the early game.



Tapu Koko GX

カプ・コケコGX

Tapu Koko has a GX attack that is easy to set up and it has no weakness, making this card a
great attacker in a variety of matchups. Compared to Zeraora, it does 30 less damage, and has 20 less HP. So, most of the time I would prefer to attack with Zeraora. Its main purpose is against Fighting decks and for its GX attack, so I included two copies.

Pikachu & Zekrom GX

ピカチュウ&ゼクロムGX

This Tag Team GX has strong attacks and high HP. If it is knocked out, your opponent will be able to take three Prize Cards. Its attack also deals ten less damage than Zeraora – so, its priority as an attacker is low.

However, if you do not use Tapu Koko’s GX attack, you can hit for 200 (or even as much as 260 with Choice Bands/Electropowers). In addition, with its high HP, using Acerola on it can be devastating for your opponent.

While the build of this deck does not intend to use Tag Bolt GX, it can be very useful against non-GX decks, where you are able get ahead in the Prize race by taking two Prize Cards in one turn.

Zapdos

サンダー


It is a good attacker against Fighting Pokemon when you are unable to attack with Zeraora or Pikachu & Zekrom GX. If your opponent has an unevolved Pokemon on the bench, such as something that can evolve into Alolan Muk (Alolan Grimer or Ditto Prism Star), you can go for an easy knock out with Guzma and improve your odds of winning the match. Aside from Guzma, you can also use Zeraora’s ability and Acerola to fulfill the conditions of Thunderous Assault.

Tapu Koko Prism Star

カプ・コケコ♢

An explanation is quite unnecessary – the strength of this card is obvious.

It has great synergy with Tapu Koko GX.

Marshadow

マーシャドー

Marshadow is able to disrupt your opponent’s hand. It is great to use after Alolan Vulpix’s Beacon, Sylveon GX’s Magical Ribbon, Steven’s Resolve, Metagross GX’s Algorithm GX and Rayquaza GX’s Tempest GX. Your odds of winning can improve if you use Marshadow with good timing. However, you must take care that you do not Let Loose yourself where a bad hand will cause you to lose tempo. You can time your Marshadow with a turn that you take Prize Cards, or, alternatively, on a turn where you have a strong enough board that in the next turn you will not need any extra cards to play out your desired move.

Tapu Lele GX

カプ・テテフGX

Again, an explanation is unnecessary as this card is incredibly powerful. While there are other cards that can be used for draw power or deck searching, as we run many Supporter cards (and sometimes want to use Wonder Tag for something other than a draw card, such as Guzma, Acerola or Volkner) I chose to include Tapu Lele GX.

Items

Ultra Ball

ハイパーボール

This is a versatile card that can search for Pokemon while discarding cards like Lightning Energy or unnecessary cards for the matchup. It is almost as if four copies are not enough!

Electropower

エレキパワー

As well as increasing the strength of GX Pokemon’s attacks, they can be useful when attacking with Raikou and knocking out low HP basic Pokemon.

Choice Band

こだわりハチマキ

In combination with Electropower, you can knock out high HP Pokemon. Against evolved GX Pokemon, we want to conserve our Electropowers as much as possible, so we have included three copies.

Acro Bike

ダートじてんしゃ

This card is included to thin your deck. If you are lucky, you can discard Energy with it too. You can draw into Electropowers, or draw other useful cards which may save you from a tough situation. While the probability of drawing the exact card you need for the situation is obviously low, the main purpose of the card is to compress your deck. For example, you can increase your chances of drawing the card you need if you play a draw Supporter afterwards. The deck definitely runs differently with and without Acro Bikes.

Supporters

Lillie

リーリエ

Lillie is a reliable draw Supporter. Ideally, you will play it down in your first turn, but the deck is able to cut down its hand size quite easily, so you will find utility for it even later in the game.

Cynthia

シロナ

The second reliable draw Supporter. You can play out items and other cards from your hand and then have a higher chance of drawing your needed card after playing Cynthia. Although it doesn’t have great synergy with Electropower, there are turns where you just need to draw cards, and you can stay in a good position if you think about your sequencing and your board properly. While it is unfortunate if you redraw cards you had in your previous hand, the disadvantage of this is far outweighed by the advantage of drawing six cards.

Volkner

デンジ

As well as being able to search for Electropowers, it can also search for Ultra Balls and help you discard Lightning Energies you have accumulated in your hand. While this will leave you with a low hand size, you can use Lillie in the following turn to draw more cards. It also can be more useful than a draw Supporter in turns where you cannot progress the game without an Energy, even if this leaves you with a smaller hand.

Guzma

グズマ

This is a card that can often win you the game, so I ran four copies. It is also useful to take quick knock outs in the early game with Raikou or Zapdos.

Acerola

アセロラ

It is a powerful card against spread decks as well as 2 shot decks. Running this with the damage-lowering Aether Paradise is a must. It works well with Tapu Koko GX, which can grab Energies from damaged Pokemon before returning it to hand (for example, a heavily damaged Pikachu & Zekrom GX.)

Stadium

Aether Paradise

エーテルパラダイス保護区

Aether Paradise is a stadium that is synergistic with Acerola and is, in general, a powerful card. However, there is the possibility of it being discarded by a Field Blower or other Stadium, so try not to be reliant on it.

Thunder Mountain Prism Star

サンダーマウンテン♢

This is a comeback card that can be helpful in the early game which allows you to do more with less cards. It can also be used later in the game.

Energy

雷エネルギー

I tried various counts, but I found twelve to be the best after considering the probabilities of drawing Energy with Supporters or Acro Bikes and the ease of discarding Energy.

Cards for consideration

While I didn’t use these cards for this tournament, my list may change completely depending on the metagame, so this following list is for reference.

Nest Ball

ネストボール

As we are running many different types of Pokemon, and we can also find this card using Volkner, it fits well into the deck. However, in the early game it cannot be used to discard Energy like Ultra Ball, and you are unable to use the Abilities of Tapu Koko GX, Tapu Lele GX, Marshadow, etc as these Pokemon are going straight from deck to bench. I never played a match where, if I had Nest Ball, I would have won, so I did not run it in my final list. Of course, having this in your hand can open you up to a variety of plays, so if you are playing a similar deck I would recommend you do try the card out, even if only one copy of it.

Erika’s Hospitality

エリカのおもてなし

This card can draw many cards in the midgame and can draw extra Electropowers without having to play them out from your hand, unlike with Lillie or Cynthia. If this is your only Supporter in the early game, however, you will be in a tight spot compared to if you had a Lillie to draw lots of cards or a Cynthia to refresh your hand, so I decided against the inclusion of this card.

To be honest, I don’t think I thought about this card thoroughly enough, as I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare after the new set was released. During the City League, I actually thought it would have been nice to have ran one or two copies.    

Energy Switch

エネルギーつけかえ

If you make Pikachu & Zekrom GX the main attacker, you will focus on accelerating Energy with Full Blitz, and you should aim for the additional effect of Tag Bolt GX. This is much easier to achieve if you run multiple copies of Energy Switch.

My deck does not revolve around Pikachu & Zekrom GX. With the ability of Tapu Koko GX to move Energies around, I thought I would be able to survive without running Energy Switches.

Field Blower

フィールドブロアー

It is a good card and searchable by Volkner when necessary. It is useful for discarding Body-building Dumbbells and Spell Tags. I figured that you could play around Dumbbells by using Electropowers and Spell Tags by using Acerola. When I wanted to remove Stadiums, I would just play my own Stadium, so I decided the card wasn’t completely necessary.

Xurkitree GX

デンジュモクGX

This improves the matchup against the somewhat unfavourable Lycanroc Zoroark deck. It is also useless when there is an Alolan Muk in play, but this deck has many paths to knocking out Grimer/Ditto Prism Star in the early game.

By looking at the metagame, I imagined the number of Lycanroc Zoroark decks would be few at the City League, so I did not run the card.

It is also a strong card against decks that only primarily run Rainbow Energy or Counter Energy.

The Flow of the Deck

Basically, you want to use Raikou and Tapu Koko Prism Star to accelerate energy on Zeraora GX and Pikachu & Zekrom GX. However, you must still be able to respond to your opponent’s actions.

For example, against a Fighting deck such as Buzzwole GX, you want to use Zapdos as it has resistance, or Tapu Koko GX as it does not have weakness. Using Electropowers and Choice Band, you can two shot Buzzwole GX with Assault Thunder or even one shot it with Aero Tail.

In the early game, allow Zapdos to tank hits from Jet Punch and then Acerola it and repeat. You must be careful to not play down Fighting weak Pokemon, but if you have opened with one ensure you return it to hand with Acerola. You must also be careful to not go down to four Prize Cards, else you will satisfy the condition of Baby Buzzwole’s Sledgehammer.

Against Zapdos Jirachi, you should plan to target the Jirachi with Zapdos, as well as knock out opposing Zapdos with Raikou + Electropower, while still powering up an attacker. Ensure you knock out one Tapu Koko GX in one shot, and other GX Pokemon in two shots. You can also counter with your own Tapu Koko GX. Pokemon damaged by Assault Thunder can also be saved by using Acerola.

Against decks focused on Pikachu & Zekrom GX, the key is using Tapu Thunder GX. Tapu Koko GX only has 170HP, so you must ensure that Tag Bolt GX is never used by using Tapu Thunder GX on an Energy heavy Pikachu & Zekrom GX. You must also be careful of when you play sub-170 HP Pokemon down. If you can, attack with Zeraora GX, so you are able to trade two Prize Cards for three Prize Cards.

Against aggressive decks like Rayquaza, Ultra Necrozma and Blacephelon, we will want to use Full Blitz, Tapu Koko Prism Star and Thunder Mountain Prism Star. Power up a Zeraora GX and do not lose tempo. Although this can also be said of other decks, you must make sure you have a backup attacker set up at all times. It is dangerous to needlessly attack without thinking ahead just because a Pokemon has an Energy attached.

Against decks which spread damage with cards such as Tapu Koko and Shrine of Punishment, use your Acerolas sparingly and ensure you do not bench Pokemon needlessly.

Against a non-GX deck, it is important to knock out their draw power and other engines, rather than dealing with the attacker first. You must identify the Pokemon which you should target down.

Conclusion

There are many players who have recently picked up the game, and I have written my article with the hopes that it helps even one person. This deck is very meta-dependent and my list is not its final form. For example, if you are going to focus on Pikachu & Zekrom GX, there are more powerful builds. The strength of this deck lies in being able to adapt flexibly to the meta, and being able to make surprise plays. The meta changes continually and I think now this list will not perform as well as at it did at the City League.

However, this deck has many options available to it and can continue to evolve. I think that some players will play this deck exactly as I have written it out, but I implore you to change the cards more and more until you find a build that works for you. The build will depend on the meta and what kind of deck you want to play. It is difficult because even changing one card can impact its gameplay, but that is also the fun of it. I think the real fun in this game is to trial and error in this way.

I would appreciate it if you kept changing the deck yourself and enjoyed the game with your own sixty cards. 

Please find the original Japanese-language article here.


Comments