Breaking Down the Japanese Meta: SM1-SM10

Find Excel spreadsheets detailing results of City Leagues: here.

Find Excel spreadsheets with overall statistics (including standard deviation, median and mode) from Gym Leagues: here.


With the release of Double Blaze on March 1st, Japan finally had access to the third and final set that will comprise Unbroken Bonds (which the rest of the world will receive on the 3rd of May). The Japanese play our format three months in advance, giving us insight before we even receive the set. Although the release date of Unbroken Bonds won’t coincide with an International Championship like Team Up did with Oceania, its release is followed by two Regional Championships in Sydney and Santa Clara. NAIC will be in the same format, however. Hopefully the data in this article will guide you towards more refined decklists, allowing you to be more prepared for these events.

Japan hosted this format in the month of March, giving us an opportunity to observe the format. However, it must firstly be noted that their format is different to what ours will be. Certain cards (including Palace Book and Player’s Ceremony) are not, and may never be, available in English, and are used in some successful lists. Japanese tournament structure is also different: it is best of one, with a 30 minute timer where a tie counts as a loss, rather than our best of three in 50 minutes with ties. This generally means decks are more geared towards aggression, as previously control and stall decks struggled to win a game in 30 minutes. However the introduction of Unown HAND has lead the archetype to some success, recently getting 2nd at the Champions League in Chiba, as well as many other top 64 positions. It also came 2nd at the most recent Champions League in Kyoto, which, while a different format, is still relatively similar to SM1-SM10. When looking at the results for this quarter’s City Leagues, stall has achieved more top finishes than in any other format in recent history, suggesting the tournament structure is having lesser bearing on the success of stall decks .

The Japanese Championship structure is similar to the rest of the world’s. The event tiers: Gym League, Trainer League, City League and Champions League correspond respectively to: local League, League Challenge, League Cup and Regional Championships. Due to the popularity of Pokémon in Japan, Gym Leagues are incredibly common, with hundreds held each week across the country. These are heavily documented, and represent a large percentage of available data on the Japanese metagame even though the tournaments do not award Championship Points. Trainer League results are difficult to find, with very few deck lists being posted publicly. City Leagues, although rewarding the same Championship Points as our League Cups, are very serious affairs, almost always capping at over 100 players. This is because players can only attend one per quarter and are generally scarce. The format we’re covering only had seven standard City Leagues over the country. The format however, is not expected to change drastically with the release of GG End (as evidenced by the results of the Kyoto Champions League). Although the vast majority of the collated decklists are from Gym Leagues, the decklists and results from the City Leagues have been weighted much more heavily in our analysis.

Of the seven standard City Leagues of this format, we know all the top 8 archetypes, as well as 34 of the deck lists. As mentioned, due to the close proximity of the following Champions League (Kyoto, which has already passed), as well as the meta being predicted to be similar, many players have chosen not to make their lists public.




Sapporo 3rd
Osaka 3rd
Osaka 10th
Saitama 23rd
Osaka 24th
Tokyo 24th
Ibaraki 30th
Cap
72
128
128
100
72
108
100
1st
Charizard & Reshiram
Jirachi Zapdos UB
Blacephalon
Pikachu & Zekrom
Gardevoir & Sylveon
Gardevoir & Sylveon
Aerodactyl
2nd
Zoroark Lycanroc
Charizard & Reshiram
Cofagrigus
Gardevoir & Sylveon
Cofagrigus
Jirachi Zapdos UB
Charizard & Reshiram
Top 4
Pikachu & Zekrom
Blastoise
Ultra Necrozma
Charizard & Reshiram
Jirachi Zapdos
Pikachu & Zekrom
Charizard & Reshiram
Top 4
Ultra Beast Box
Ultra Necrozma
Jirachi Zapdos UB
Weezing
Jirachi Zapdos
Gardevoir & Sylveon
Blacephalon
Top 8
Charizard & Reshiram
Tool Drop
Mill
Jirachi Zapdos
Zoroark Gyarados
Whimsicott
Charizard & Reshiram
Top 8
Charizard & Reshiram
Charizard & Reshiram
Jirachi Zapdos UB
Whimsicott
Pikachu & Zekrom
Zoroark Dewgong
Zoroark Lycanroc
Top 8
Honchkrow GX
Cofagrigus
Jirachi Zapdos
Pikachu & Zekrom
Zoroark Dewgong
Jirachi Zapdos
Whimsicott
Top 8
Naga Quag
Ultra Necrozma
Ultra Necrozma
Zoroark Lycanroc
Pikachu & Zekrom
Charizard & Reshiram
Zoroark Lycanroc




As can be seen by a quick inspection of the results, the vast majority of the popular decks from the last format have remained heavily played. As mentioned in our previous article on the SM1-SM9a and SM1-SM9b formats (found here), the previous top decks were Pikachu & Zekrom, Jirachi Zapdos and Pheromosa & Buzzwole, with Ultra Necrozma, Gardevoir & Sylveon and Zoroark variants also being highly played.

However, Pheromosa & Buzzwole has decreased significantly in play. With the sheer amount of Fire support and Pokémon released in Double Blaze, it was expected the deck would struggle, primarily due to weakness, and also, to a lesser degree, power creep. Reshiram & Charizard, whether due to hype or raw power, has taken the City Leagues by storm, being the most successful deck. Whimsicott and Blacephalon are other notable new archetypes to have multiple top 8 finishes. In general, Double Blaze’s influence has stemmed more from the introduction of new decks rather than the release of further support for existing archetypes.

In total, 270 decks were compiled. The purpose of using Gym League decks and taking averages are to give people an idea of what a skeleton of each archetype should look like, as well as to see what kinds of techs players are running in Japan.

If you are interested in seeing specific decklists and statistics, there is an Excel file here containing City League top 8 decks and an Excel file here including all decks we compiled.

Some decks do not have a total of 60 cards due to glare or cards being hidden in pictures.

Decks

Reshiram & Charizard
Jirachi Zapdos
Zoroark variants
Pikachu & Zekrom
Gardevoir & Sylveon
Ultra Necrozma
Whimsicott
Cofagrigus
Non-GX Blacephalon
Weezing
Naganadal Quagsire
Mill
Blastoise
Pheromosa & Buzzwole
Celebi & Venusaur
Blacephalon
Spiritomb



Reshiram & Charizard


Pokémon
2.98 Reshiram & Charizard GX
1.22 Volcanion
0.71 Eevee
0.68 Jirachi
0.63 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.59 Tapu Lele GX
0.56 Flareon GX
0.39 Turtonator
0.37 Salazzle
0.32 Salandit
0.24 Dedenne GX
0.22 Growlithe
0.22 Arcanine
0.17 Tapu Koko
0.15 Blacephalon GX
0.12 Reshiram
0.12 Absol
0.12 Eevee & Snorlax GX
0.12 Mew
0.10 Flareon
0.07 Vulpix
0.07 Ninetales
0.05 Shining Lugia
0.05 Type: Null
0.05 Silvally GX
0.05 Ditto Prism
0.02 Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX
0.02 Slugma
0.02 Magcargo
0.02 Alolan Grimer
0.02 Alolan Muk
0.02 Miltank
0.02 Oricorio (Fire)
0.02 Victini Prism
0.02 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
Items
3.29 Nest Ball
2.68 Fiery Flint
2.41 Fire Crystal
2.34 Pokegear 3.0
2.17 Ultra Ball
2.07 Switch
1.85 Choice Band
0.73 Field Blower
0.59 Escape Board
0.51 Acro Bike
0.44 Max Potion
0.29 Escape Rope
0.29 Custom Catcher
0.27 Adventure Bag
0.27 Wishful Baton
0.24 Rescue Stretcher
0.12 Beast Ring
0.12 Potion
0.10 Moo-Moo Milk
0.07 Mysterious Treasure
0.07 Pokemon Communication
0.05 Energetic Fidget Spinner
0.02 Fighting Memory
0.02 Energy Switch
0.02 Pal Pad
0.02 Weakness Policy
0.02 Counter Gain
0.02 Buff Padding
0.02 Energy Recycler
Supporters
3.83 Welder
2.49 Guzma
2.22 Green's Search
1.51 Kiawe
0.76 Cynthia
0.66 Lillie
0.49 Acerola
0.29 Judge
0.22 Professor Kukui
0.15 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.10 Erika's Hospitality
0.05 Tate and Liza
0.02 Bill's Analysis
Stadiums
1.05 Power Plant
0.71 Heat Factory Prism
0.27 Viridian Forest
0.12 Shrine of Punishment
0.05 Altar of the Sun
Energy
13.15 Fire Energy
0.05 Rainbow Energy
0.02 Beast Energy Prism

Reshiram & Charizard GX is the poster child for Double Blaze, and is living up to all its hype. It's a relatively linear one dimensional deck, but still has many different options available to it. These varieties differ in their way to consistently get Reshiram & Charizard GX the four Energies it needs to attack. The simplest, and most common, version of the deck consists of just the Tag Team and Volcanion. This strategy combined with high counts of switching cards allows the deck to quickly get multiple energy on Reshiram & Charizard GX turn one. Another popular variant uses Flareon GX to achieve a similar result. Although not directly involved in Energy acceleration, some variants also run a Jirachi engine, which enables the deck to more consistently hit cards like Welder. This version often can still get Volcanion active on turn one. The inclusion of these engines, similar to Gardevoir & Sylveon, can force the opponent into an eight Prize game. Despite being initially hyped when revealed, Salazzle has been very unpopular in successful lists. Dependent on the local meta, the deck also may include a multitude of tech Pokémon like Turtonator, Eevee & Snorlax, Shining Lugia and UNB Arcanine.

Despite the variations of the deck having varying levels of consistency, the general absence of cards like Jirachi, Tapu Lele GX and Dedenne GX means the deck is reliant on consistency cards like Pokegear 3.0 and Acro Bikes. Non-Jirachi based builds also run maximum counts of Green’s Search. Although the deck isn’t as combo based as Blacephalon, Green’s Search allows lists to come up with tech cards that at first glance may seem out of place, but in fact are a large reason the deck is successful. Potion, and the statistically similar Moo-Moo Milk are examples of these key cards. The seemingly minor 30 damage heal combined with the Tag Team’s 270 HP means many archetypes struggle to two shot the Pokémon, in particular Zoroark. Max Potions are also used to good effect in combination with Welder, a manual attachment and the GX attack. Shrine of Punishment is also a tech card that became popular in successful City League decks. The 10 damage from the Stadium allows Reshiram & Charizard to more consistently one shot Pikachu & Zekrom GX and opposing Reshiram & Charizard GXs, and is more accessible than Professor Kukui.

High counts of Kiawe supplement Welder and support Pokémon for Energy acceleration, and is the optimal option if going first, despite the general absence of methods to search it out. Field Blower is a surprisingly common addition to the deck, and is probably used to remove Choice Helmets found in Gardevoir & Sylveon, Wishful Batons in Blacephalon and decks running weakness negating tools.

Jirachi Zapdos


Pokémon
3.29 Jirachi
2.95 Zapdos
0.90 Tapu Koko Prism
0.90 Tapu Koko GX
0.86 Buzzwole
0.76 Nihilego
0.76 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.57 Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX
0.43 Absol
0.43 Magcargo
0.38 Kartana
0.33 Eevee
0.33 Jolteon GX
0.33 Slugma
0.29 Mew
0.24 Mr Mime
0.19 Meowth
0.14 Mismagius
0.10 Hoopa
0.10 Misdreavus
0.10 Persian
0.10 Ditto Prism
0.10 Raikou (LOT)
0.05 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.05 Giratina
0.05 Tapu Lele GX
0.05 Celesteela
Items
3.95 Electropower
3.90 Nest Ball
2.62 Ultra Ball
2.48 Escape Board
2.14 Escape rope
2.00 Switch
1.86 Choice Band
1.29 Rescue Stretcher
0.52 Field Blower
0.33 Pokegear 3.0
0.24 Adventure Bag
0.14 Pokemon Communication
0.10 Energetic Fidget Spinner
0.10 Lost Blender
0.05 Beast Ring
0.05 Mysterious Treasure
0.05 Energy Lotto
0.05 Max Potion
Supporters
3.81 Guzma
3.67 Lillie
2.86 Volkner
0.48 Cynthia
0.43 Erika's Hospitality
0.19 Professor Kukui
0.19 Judge
0.05 Acerola
0.05 Team Rocket's Harrassment
Stadiums
1.00 Thunder Mountain Prism
0.76 Shrine of Punishment
0.29 Power Plant
0.10 Viridian Forest
0.05 Aether Paradise
Energy
5.29 Lightning Energy
3.05 Rainbow Energy
0.76 Beast Energy Prism
0.19 Unit Energy LPM
0.19 Fighting Energy

Jirachi Zapdos functions essentially the same as it has since the pair was released. While previously many versions of the deck existed, the Japanese seem to have settled on one particular variant with Ultra Beasts. Whether the Oceania International Championships popularised the deck, or if it came about due to natural progression, the deck now runs Rainbow Energies rather than the Basic Fightings + Beast Ring + Viridian Forest combination that was successful in SM1-SM9b. This allows the deck to branch out from just Buzzwole to the ever popular Nihilego, Kartana (Double Blaze) and, interestingly enough, Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX. Kartana gives the deck a nice pivot with its free retreat, as well as having a Prize related attack that cannot be played around by your opponent, unlike Sledgehammer or Nightcap. Its typing is also useful, giving the deck additional coverage against Lycanroc GX, as well as Water types like Blastoise GX and Magikarp & Wailord GX. Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX, a three Prize liability, is an interesting addition, as the deck runs no traditional Energy acceleration cards like Beast Ring or healing such as Acerola. It is presumably used in combination with Beast Energy and its GX attack to help overcome Prize decificets and close a game out.

The core skeleton for Jirachi Zapdos exists for all variants, with the major difference being the inclusion of tech cards. Although almost all lists include the Ultra Beast package, previous staples like Jolteon GX now only appear in around one in three decks, and Absol, one in two, signifying that players are less worried about the mirror. There were however some unique inclusions that were aimed at the mirror (more than likely a reaction to a local metagame) like LOT Raikou. New cards like Pokegear 3.0 and Mew also help questionable matchups against Alolan Muk and Spread/Pikachu & Zekrom/Ultra Necrozma respectively, although neither appeared in high counts. Mew in particular stops Pikachu & Zekrom variants from Tag Bolting for multiple Prizes in an attempt to stop Sledgehammer or Nightcap.

Zoroark variants


Zoroark Dewgong 

Pokémon
4.00 Zorua
3.93 Zoroark GX
2.07 Dewgong
2.07 Seel
1.86 Tapu Lele GX
1.29 Persian GX
1.29 Meowth
0.93 Ditto Prism
0.79 Alolan Muk
0.71 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.71 Alolan Grimer
0.57 Mew
0.57 Dedenne GX
0.29 Larvitar
0.29 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.29 Giratina
0.29 Slowking
0.14 Slowpoke
0.07 Persian
0.07 Slugma
0.07 Magcargo
0.07 Melmetal GX
0.07 Tapu Koko
0.07 Buzzwole
0.07 Kartana

Items
3.79 Ultra Ball
3.21 Nest Ball
2.43 Pokemon Communication
2.14 Choice Band
1.14 Rescue Stretcher
0.79 Field Blower
0.57 Pal Pad
0.29 Timer Ball
0.21 Escape Rope
0.21 Switch
0.14 Great Ball
0.14 Mysterious Treasure
0.14 Body Building Dumbbells
0.07 Countergain
0.07 Multi Switch
0.07 Counter Gain
Supporters
3.21 Lillie
2.64 Guzma
1.71 Judge
1.29 Professor Kukui
1.14 Cynthia
1.07 Acerola
0.71 Professor Elm's Lecture
0.21 Mallow
0.14 Erika's Hospitality
0.07 Lt. Surge’s Battle
Stadiums
1.14 Devoured Field
0.29 Brooklet Hill
0.21 Lysandre Labs
Energy
4.00 Double Colourless Energy
3.86 Triple Acceleration Energy
0.07 Rainbow Energy
0.07 Beast Energy

Zoroark Lycanroc 



Pokémon
3.64 Zoroark GX
3.55 Zorua
2.00 Rockruff
1.91 Lycanroc GX
1.91 Tapu Lele GX
0.91 Ditto Prism
0.91 Alolan Muk
0.73 Alolan Grimer
0.73 Dedenne GX
0.64 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.55 Slowking
0.45 Persian GX
0.45 Meowth
0.36 Lycanroc GX (Dusk)
0.36 Magcargo
0.36 Alolan Vulpix
0.36 Alolan Ninetales GX
0.36 Slowpoke
0.27 Slugma
0.27 Mew
0.27 Marshadow & Machamp GX
0.18 Riolu
0.18 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.18 Kyurem
0.18 Dewgong
0.18 Seel
0.09 Lucario GX
0.09 Diance Prism
0.09 Deoxys
0.09 Hoopa
Items
3.73 Ultra Ball
3.55 Nest Ball
2.00 Choice Band
1.82 Pokemon Communication
1.18 Countergain
1.00 Rescue Stretcher
0.91 Field Blower
0.73 Pal Pad
0.27 Switch
0.27 Body Building Dumbbells
0.18 Timer Ball
0.09 Counter Catcher
0.09 Mysterious Treasure
Supporters
2.55 Lillie
2.45 Guzma
2.09 Judge
1.09 Acerola
0.82 Cynthia
0.82 Professor Kukui
0.64 Professor Elm's Lecture
0.36 Mallow
0.18 Red's Challenge
0.09 Gladion
0.09 Giovanni's Exile
0.09 Team Skull Grunt
0.09 Erika's Hospitality
Stadiums
1.18 Devoured Field
0.18 Brooklet Hill
0.18 Martial Arts Dojo
Energy
3.91 Double Colourless Energy
3.00 Unit Energy FDY
1.09 Triple Acceleration Energy
0.73 Fighting Energy
0.18 Counter Gain

Zoroark (other) 


Pokémon
3.88 Zorua
3.63 Zoroark GX
2.00 Magikarp
1.88 Tapu Lele GX
1.00 Meowth
1.00 Gyarados
0.88 Persian GX
0.88 Ditto Prism
0.63 Alolan Muk
0.63 Dedenne GX
0.50 Persian
0.50 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.50 Murkrow
0.50 Honchkrow GX
0.38 Slugma
0.38 Magcargo
0.38 Mew
0.38 Alolan Grimer
0.38 Zygarde GX
0.25 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.25 Hoopa
0.13 Araquanid (Water)
0.13 Mewtwo
0.13 Diance Prism
0.13 Absol
0.13 Slowking
0.13 Marshadow & Machamp GX
Items
3.88 Ultra Ball
2.38 Pokemon Communication
2.25 Choice Band
2.13 Nest Ball
1.13 Rescue Stretcher
0.75 Field Blower
0.63 Pal Pad
0.63 Switch
0.50 Countergain
0.50 Dusk Stone
0.25 Timer Ball
0.25 Body Building Dumbbells
0.13 Counter Gain
0.13 Enhanced Hammer
0.13 Mysterious Treasure
Supporters
2.50 Guzma
2.38 Lillie
1.75 Professor Elm's Lecture
1.75 Judge
1.13 Cynthia
1.13 Acerola
1.13 Professor Kukui
0.38 Erika's Hospitality
0.25 Mallow
0.13 Red's Challenge
0.13 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.13 Bonnie
0.13 Nanu
Stadiums
1.00 Devoured Field
0.63 Martial Arts Dojo
0.13 Black Market Prism
Energy
4.00 Double Colourless Energy
1.63 Triple Acceleration Energy
1.25 Fighting Energy
0.63 Dark Energy
0.50 Unit Energy FDY
0.13 Rainbow Energy

Since its release in Shining Legends, Zoroark has changed and adapted to suit the meta more than any other deck in Standard. This is again the case in the SM1-SM10 format, where the deck has split into two distinct archetypes. It seems Zoroark no longer has enough deck space to counter all of the popular decks. It has to pick its poison. The deck is able to tech for Pikachu & Zekrom, Gardevoir & Sylveon, Reshiram & Charizard and Jirachi Zapdos, but cannot do them all at once. Zoroark Lycanroc retains its position in the meta as an inherently powerful deck, particularly going first, however in a format of big Basics, its aggression is less impactful. Whilst Lycanroc GX gives you amazing answers to Pikachu & Zekrom, it is unable to do anything of note against Reshiram & Charizard. It can however attempt to counter this deck with cards like LOT Slowking, but the combo is quite unreliable since the deck generally does not run Triple Colourless Energy in large counts. Even if it gets this combination off, due to the reliance on Ditto, it is only able to do it (at most) once.

The deck also now has access to Marshadow & Machamp GX, an amazing revenge killer against Pikachu & Zekrom and Zoroark mirrors, just needing a single Fighting Energy and Countergain. This is comparatively easier than past iterations, needing a previously benched Rockruff, a Lycanroc GX, and your opponent to have sufficient Bench, as well as using your GX move. Its sheer HP means you can either attach a second Energy after the knock out for another large attack, or Acerola it back to safety.

The other variant is completely new, relying on the newly released Dewgong and Triple Acceleration Energy. Although a generally underwhelming card, the ability to charge up a triple colourless attack in one turn enables the deck to achieve a similar result to Zoroark Lycanroc, in that it is able to hunt down unevolved bench sitters. The damage can also set up numbers in a multitude of other matchups, like Blacephalon and Zoroark mirrors. Its typing also means the variant is able to compete with the vast array of Fire decks popular in the format. Gyarados is sometimes played instead of Dewgong, sacrificing versatility for consistent damage against Fire decks.

Zoroark as a whole has become more of a toolbox. Although counts of Weavile and Magcargo have dropped significantly they have been replaced by consistency cards like Alolan Ninetales GX, Persian GX and Dedenne GX. Most lists include tech Pokémon such as Giratina, Melmetal GX, Araquanid, Persian and/or Mew, dependent on what they expect in their local metagame. Compared to Zoroark lists seen in previous Japanese formats, usage of Reset Hole Marshadow as well as Field Blower has increased significantly, signifying the increased need to counter Abandoned Power Plant. The increased Pokémon counts have meant that Trainer counts have become very streamlined, and have very few one ofs. The Lillie engine is used almost exclusively, apart from the Gyarados variant which runs Professor Elm's Lecture. Judge is chosen to be run in relatively high counts. Mallow is quite unpopular despite the deck’s need to draw cards like Countergain or Triple Acceleration Energy in critical turns. Despite Ninetales only appearing in half the lists, Unit Energy is used almost exclusively over Basic Fighting Energy (some run a singular Fighting for Viridian synergy). This, and the lack of a singular Rainbow Energy (allowing one to pull off Acerola + Muk) is interesting to note as mill is more relevant than it ever has been.

Pikachu & Zekrom


Pokémon
2.68 Pikachu & Zekrom  GX
1.73 Dedenne GX
1.68 Zeraora GX
1.36 Tapu Lele GX
1.14 Marshadow (Let Loose)
1.00 Zapdos
1.00 Tapu Koko Prism
0.82 Tapu Koko GX
0.59 Rayquaza GX
0.50 Jirachi
0.23 Marshadow GX
0.18 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.14 Eevee
0.14 Jolteon GX
0.05 Raikou
0.05 Wobbuffet
0.05 Mr Mime
0.05 Zeraora
Items
3.82 Electropower
3.77 Energy Switch
3.50 Ultra Ball
2.14 Electromagnetic Radar
1.86 Nest Ball
1.41 Choice Band
1.09 Multi Switch
0.73 Field Blower
0.59 Switch
0.36 Rescue Stretcher
0.36 Escape Board
0.36 Acro Bike
0.32 Escape Rope
0.27 Mysterious Treasure
0.14 Energy Recycler
0.09 Wishful Baton
0.05 Adventure Bag
0.05 Secret Hood
Supporters
3.14 Guzma
3.00 Volkner
2.50 Lillie
0.73 Judge
0.59 Cynthia
0.55 Erika's Hospitality
0.36 Acerola
0.23 Lisia
0.09 Pokemon Fan Club
Stadiums
0.95 Thunder Mountain Prism
0.86 Lysandre Labs
0.32 Aether Paradise
0.05 Viridian Forest
Energy
12.18 Lightning Energy
0.09 Grass Energy
0.09 Unit Energy LPM

Pikachu & Zekrom variants have remained almost unchanged since the introduction of Double Blaze, although they are significantly different to the lists in our current SM-TEU metagame. However, this is largely due to the introduction of Dedenne GX, which has morphed the deck into arguably the most aggressive in format, allowing it to consistently achieve an early Full Blitz. This aggression, and the ability to quickly Tag Bolt benched Pokémon, allows the deck to overcome seemingly inefficient Prize trades with non Tag-Team decks.

The aggression in the builds is seen by the high use of cards like Rayquaza GX and up to eight Energy switching cards in many lists. Marshadow GX, despite being generally regarded as a fragile attacker, is sometimes included for both Fighting type coverage and to be a two Prize attacker able to Full Blitz. Dedenne GX is the cornerstone of the deck, allowing the deck structure to change. Although you are only able to use one Dede Change per turn, the deck is reliant on its draw power, skimping on draw Supporter counts. On average lists are running around three draw Supporters, significantly less than SM-TEU builds running upwards of eight. The draw from Dedenne GX combined with cards like Volkner supplement this lack of draw support. Electromagnetic Radar also allows the deck to not only have more consistent ways to search out Dedenne GX and attackers, but gives more opportunities to discard Lightning Energies for Rayquaza GX and Tapu Koko Prism.

Cards like Jolteon GX and Raikous are essentially non existent, as their attacks do not do enough damage, nor progress your board state. Zapdos is still retained in the deck however, albeit in smaller counts than previously seen when the deck was more focussed on countering Jirachi Zapdos. The Jirachi based version, which previously appeared to make up at least half the variants, has essentially disappeared, with the Dedenne GX engine preferred.

Pikachu & Zekrom GX’s ability to hit 150 damage very early on is not what it used to be due to power creep. The increase in other viable Tag Team decks like Reshiram & Charizard and Gardevoir & Sylveon mean that Pikachu & Zekrom GX cannot consistently chain one hit knock outs like in previous formats. In particular, decks like Reshiram & Charizard can easily tank hits from Pikachu & Zekrom, and respond with their own one hit knock outs. Pikachu & Zekrom GX also has to be careful with how much damage it does, as it does not want to put itself into Outrage range. The introduction of Bench Barrier Mew also makes Pikachu & Zekrom slightly weaker, as it can no longer Tag Bolt for multiple Prizes. In particular this is important in matchups like Jirachi Zapdos, as it stops Pikachu & Zekrom from skipping either the Sledgehammer or Nightcap turns. The deck is also forced to waste slots for otherwise weak cards like Field Blower and Lysandre Labs so it can avoid damage negation from Gardevoir & Sylveon’s Fairy Charm Lightning, and one shots from Reshiram & Charizard.

Gardevoir & Sylveon 


Pokémon
4.00 Gardevoir & Sylveon GX
1.00 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.92 Jirachi
0.88 Misdreavus
0.88 Mismagius
0.44 Xerneas Prism
0.28 Cutiefly
0.24 Ribombee
0.20 Xerneas
0.16 Mew
0.12 Xerneas GX
0.08 Tapu Lele (Fairy)
0.04 Noibat
0.04 Lucario & Melmetal GX
0.04 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.04 Tapu Koko Prism
0.04 Oranguru
Items
3.04 Nest Ball
2.76 Pokegear 3.0
2.20 Switch
2.08 Choice Helmet
1.64 Max Potion
1.36 Ultra Ball
1.28 Field Blower
0.96 Adventure Bag
0.88 Dusk Stone
0.80 Energy Switch
0.76 Fairy Charm Electric
0.68 Counter Catcher
0.60 Escape Board
0.56 Escape Rope
0.56 Fairy Charm Ability
0.48 Secret Hood
0.40 Choice Band
0.20 Energetic Fidget Spinner
0.16 Fairy Charm UB
0.16 Super Scoop Up
0.16 Judge Whistle
0.08 Pal Pad
0.08 Fairy Charm Psychic
0.08 Mysterious Treasure
0.04 Counter Gain
0.04 Enhanced Hammer
0.04 Rescue Stretcher
0.04 Fairy Charm Dragon
0.04 Palace Book
0.04 Energy Recycler
Supporters
2.92 Acerola
2.60 Guzma
2.24 Green's Search
1.44 Judge
1.36 Mina
1.32 Cynthia
1.00 Lillie
0.68 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.60 Bill's Analysis
0.40 Diantha
0.20 Erika's Hospitality
0.20 Team Rocket's Harrassment
0.20 Pokemon Fan Club
0.16 Volkner
0.08 Plumeria
0.08 Ilima 
0.04 Lusamine
0.04 Gladion
Stadiums
1.60 Power Plant
0.96 Wondrous Labyrinth Prism
0.52 Viridian Forest
0.04 Lavender Town
Energy
9.56 Fairy Energy
0.08 Electric Energy

The Gardevoir & Sylveon archetype has changed quite drastically with the introduction of Double Blaze, more than likely as a reaction to the new Fire archetypes. As described in our previous article, the deck functioned as a control deck, using a combination of Fairy Charms, Ribombee and healing to create an impenetrable board state, while slowly building up Energies. Whereas previously almost all lists contained at least a 2-2 line of Ribombee, now the card is seen in less than 25% of lists. This may be a response to the meta, as the deck has no Charm to protect itself from Reshiram & Charizard GX, as well as a lower usage of decks that consistently have the opportunity to Guzma, like Jirachi Zapdos and Zoroark Lycanroc. However, it also might be due to introduction of Mismagius. If Mismagius is run it can force an eight Prize game, as your opponent still has to knock out two of your Tag Teams. Mismagius’ Ability also helps with consistency issues, which are always going to be prevalent in quad decks choosing to forgo support Pokémon. It also lets you extend at certain times to find key cards. With the deck no longer running Ribombee, it is also able to use the Green’s Search engine.

The other variant of the deck introduced this format runs Jirachi and high counts of Let’s Lose Marshadow, focussing on hand disruption. It does have to be careful though, as benching more than two support Pokémon enables your opponent to map their Prizes. The introduction of these support Pokémon means the deck is unable to use Green’s Search. Both variants make use of a singular one Prize attacker, often Xerneas Prism, or CRI Xerneas. Some variants also make use of Xerneas GX, whose GX attack will almost always be able to win a game, if given the opportunity to use it.

Due to having a plethora of deck space, the Item counts in the deck are very toolboxy, with low counts of many different Items and Tools to suit particular matchups. The deck gets more value out of Adventure Bag than any other deck in the format. As mentioned above, the deck has become less reliant on the Fairy Charms, as they no longer give it near perfect meta coverage. Fairy Charm Lightning still appears to be the most used, indicating that Lightning decks are still one of the most popular decks. Fairy Charm Ability is also used in around half the lists, improving the matchups against Ability-based GX decks like Zoroark and Whimsicott. Despite the popularity of Blacephalon, as well as the continued use of Ultra Necrozma, the Fairy Charm UB has dropped to almost no usage. Although not a Charm, the deck relies on high copies of Choice Helmet to allow Gardevoir & Sylveon GX to survive one shots from Reshiram & Charizard GX. Secret Hood is also included in a large percentage of lists, enabling the deck to overcome Pokémon like BUS Vileplume.

The deck retains its healing and switching options from previous formats. Acerola in particular is a very important card for the deck. Not only does it allow you to pick up the Active Pokémon after it has taken damage and moved its Energies to the bench, it allows you to switch Tools. Diantha is often used as a one of in the deck, allowing Charms to be recycled, as very few decks play multiple Field Blowers. The use of Mismagius, Green’s Search and the surviving control aspects of the deck means that some lists choose to use Lt Surge’s Battle for some particularly devastating swing turns. This can be used in conjunction with Mina, which is used in high counts in a large percentage of lists. This is of note, as the card saw almost no play in the previous format. Energy Switch is also included in some lists, enabling a surprise six Energy GX attack with a manual attach, Energy Switch and Mina.

Ultra Necrozma


Pokémon
4.00 Inkay
4.00 Malamar
2.14 Ultra Necrozma GX
1.86 Jirachi
1.71 Giratina
1.00 Tapu Lele GX
0.86 Gengar & Mimikyu GX
0.64 Marshadow GX
0.57 Tapu Koko
0.29 Mew
0.21 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.14 Dedenne GX
0.07 Muk & Alolan Muk GX
0.07 Mewtwo
Items
4.00 Mysterious Treasure
3.71 Nest Ball
3.43 Ultra Ball
3.07 Switch
2.00 Escape Board
0.86 Choice Band
0.79 Rescue Stretcher
0.29 Acro Bike
0.29 Field Blower
0.14 Pokemon Communication
0.14 Beast Ring
0.07 Adventure Bag
0.07 Max Potion
0.07 Energetic Fidget Spinner
Supporters
3.79 Lillie
3.07 Guzma
1.57 Cynthia
0.57 Erika's Hospitality
0.50 Acerola
0.29 Judge
0.14 Team Rocket's Harrassment
0.07 Tate & Liza
Stadiums
3.00 Viridian Forest
Energy
7.07 Psychic Energy
2.93 Metal Energy
0.43 Beast Energy Prism

Ultra Necrozma remains the powerhouse it has always been. Not a huge amount has changed upon the release of Double Blaze, but the deck has still seen success. Ultra Necrozma GX’s lack of damage ceiling works in its favour, being able to take one hit knock outs on Reshiram & Charizard GX with a three Energy Photon Geyser and a damage modifier.

It is also interesting that almost every Ultra Necrozma deck is running Gengar & Mimikyu GX. You can read about a successful Ultra Necrozma list at the Chiba Champions League ( here), which also goes in depth about how to use Gengar & Mimikyu GX (while a different format, as stated above, barely anything has changed for Ultra Necrozma so the strategies discussed are still sound.)

Some lists are running Mew, presumably for the mirror, the Pikachu & Zekrom matchup and decks with Dewgong. The Mew, if it can be played down at the right time, can render your opponent’s Sky Scorching Light useless. Against Pikachu & Zekrom, there are less consequences for benching cards like Tapu Lele GX or Dedenne GX. The Mew can also protect Inkays from Dewgong’s snipe damage, which could be detrimental if Ultra Necrozma goes second.

Whimsicott 


Pokémon
3.92 Cottonee
3.75 Whimsicott GX
0.83 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.58 Tapu Lele GX
0.42 Xerneas Prism
0.42 Hoopa
0.42 Alolan Vulpix
0.42 Porygon
0.42 Porygon Z
0.33 Gardevoir & Sylveon GX
0.33 Magearna
0.33 Tapu Lele (Charmed Charm)
0.33 Ditto Prism
0.33 Slowking
0.25 Jirachi
0.25 Alolan Ninetales GX
0.17 Cleffa
0.17 Slowpoke
0.08 Comfey
0.08 Diance
0.08 Xerneas GX
0.08 Sudowoodo
0.08 Absol
0.08 Porygon 2
Items
3.75 Nest Ball
3.67 Ultra Ball
1.83 Pokegear 3.0
1.00 Body Building Dumbbells
0.83 Switch
0.75 Acro Bike
0.75 Field Blower
0.67 Judges Whistle
0.67 Fairy Charm Ability
0.50 Escape Rope
0.42 Rare Candy
0.33 Rescue Stretcher
0.25 Fairy Charm Electric
0.25 Choice Band
0.17 Energy Lotto
0.17 Fairy Charm UB
0.17 Escape Board
0.17 Energy Recycle System
0.17 Adventure Bag
0.08 Enhanced Hammer
0.08 Energy Switch
0.08 Energy Lotto
Supporters
3.25 Lillie
2.08 Guzma
2.00 Judge
1.75 Cynthia
1.08 Mina
0.92 Erika's Hospitality
0.75 Diantha
0.67 Acerola
0.33 Koga's Trap
0.17 Red's Challenge
0.17 Illima
0.08 Gladion
Stadiums
1.00 Wondrous Labyrinth Prism
0.17 Mount Lanika
0.08 Viridian Forest
Energy
5.92 Fairy Energy
3.83 Double Colourless Energy
2.92 Triple Acceleration Energy
1.42 Unit Energy FDY
0.33 Rainbow Energy

Whimsicott at first glance has nothing spectacular about it, with an average main attack, a subpar GX move and mediocre HP. What it does have though, is an amazing (but luck-reliant) Ability, which forms the focus of the deck. However, the Ability being such a core feature of the deck makes the archetype very susceptible to Abandoned Power Plant. It is interesting that on average, Whimsicott decks run less than one Field Blower, less than one Reset Hole Marshadow and no Stadiums apart from Wondrous Labyrinth Prism. Perhaps this is due to Abandoned Power Plant taking effect during your opponent’s turn meaning an attack goes through regardless.

Triple Acceleration Energy also works very well with Whimsicott GX’s main attack, allowing it to hit for an additional 90 damage. It is interesting to note that for a deck that aims to deny Prizes it runs minimal healing, with under half of Whimsicott lists running Acerola.

A couple of Gym League lists have incorporated a Magearna and Charmed Charm Tapu Lele combination. This, while giving the Whimsicott player the ability to switch around Tools, can also confuse the opponent’s Active Pokémon every turn. This can mean that the opponent will need to flip two heads to be able to attack.

Cofagrigus

Pokémon
4.00 Yamask
4.00 Giratina
3.71 Cofagrigus
2.00 Marshadow (Let Loose)
2.00 Tapu Lele GX
1.86 Dedenne GX
1.00 Tapu Lele (Psychic)
0.71 Inkay
0.71 Malamar
0.57 Mew
0.57 Nihilego
0.43 Ditto Prism
0.29 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
0.29 Mr Mime
0.14 Hoopa
Items
4.00 Mysterious Treasure
3.86 Rescue Stretcher
3.43 Ultra Ball
3.00 Spell Tag
0.57 Switch
0.57 Nest Ball
0.29 Counter Catcher
0.29 Pal Pad
0.14 Field Blower
Supporters
2.57 Lillie
2.43 Guzma
2.00 Cynthia
0.57 Tate and Liza
0.29 Pokemon Fan Club
0.29 Erika's Hospitality
0.14 Gladion
0.14 Giovanni's Exile
0.14 Morty
0.14 Red's Challenge
0.14 Brock's Grit
Stadiums
3.43 Shrine of Punishment
Energy
4.86 Psychic Energy
4.00 Counter Energy
0.14 Rainbow Energy

Cofagrigus is a fun deck that has been seeing more success than last format. The idea of the deck is to discard four Giratinas with Cofagrigus’ attack every turn, allowing Cofagrigus to hit for 130 damage. The last bench spot is reserved for the next Yamask/Cofagrigus. With the eight or so damage counters from Giratina’s Distortion Door every turn and the attack damage, the deck puts pressure on the opponent. On top of this, the deck runs high counts of Spell Tag and Shrine of Punishment, allowing it to take advantage of Tapu Lele’s Magical Swap. Magical Swap can also be very useful against Alolan Muk, which completely cripples the deck when set up.

Being a non-GX deck, it runs unusually high counts of Tapu Lele GX and Dedenne GX, but this is due to Cofagrigus’ ability to get rid of them straight away. Its bulky HP combined with its ability to spread gives it a favourable matchup against most other non-GX decks, particularly Jirachi Zapdos. Some lists are also running Mew, to stop attacks such as Pikachu & Zekrom’s Tag Bolt from taking multiple Prizes at once.

About half the variants are running a thin Malamar line to help with the second Energy attachment which is required for Cofagrigus’ attack, while others are simply relying on manual attachments and Counter Energy. While Malamar allows you to more easily set up attacks, it means one less Pokémon you can discard on your bench, limiting your damage output. Both variants seem to run high counts of Rescue Stretcher, which can help with reusing Dede Charge and Wonder Tag, as well as being able to chain Cofagriguses more easily.

Non-GX Blacephalon


Pokémon
4.00 Blacephalon
0.88 Blacephalon GX
0.25 Volcanion
0.21 Jirachi
0.21 Turtonator
0.13 Eevee
0.13 Flareon GX
0.13 Reshiram & Charizard GX
0.13 Salazzle
0.08 Growlithe
0.08 Salandit
0.08 Arcanine
0.04 Ditto Prism
0.04 Alolan Muk
Items
4.00 Fire Crystal
3.75 Pokegear 3.0
3.50 Fiery Flint
2.63 Wishful Baton
2.04 Energy Retrieval
2.00 Nest Ball
1.83 Acro Bike
1.46 Rescue Stretcher
1.17 Beast Ring
0.46 Field Blower
0.33 Energetic Fidget Spinner
0.21 Custom Catcher
0.21 Energy Recycler
0.17 Switch
0.17 Ultra Ball
0.17 Escape Board
0.13 Escape Rope
0.08 Judge Whistle
0.08 Pal Pad
0.04 Choice Band
0.04 Secret Hood
0.04 Counter Catcher
0.04 Palace Book
0.04 Energy Recycle System
0.04 Adventure Bag
Supporters
4.00 Welder
3.67 Green's Search
1.13 Guzma
0.75 Lusamine Prism
0.46 Bill's Analysis
0.17 Ultra Forest Kartenvoy
0.13 Judge
0.13 Fisherman
0.08 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.04 Cynthia
0.04 Lillie
0.04 Erika's Hospitality
0.04 Looker
0.04 Gladion
0.04 Lysandre Prism
Stadiums
1.75 Ultra Space
0.88 Heat Factory Prism
0.79 Power Plant
0.17 Viridian Forest
Energy
14.17 Fire Energy
0.46 Beast Energy Prism

Non-GX Blacephalon is a new archetype that was introduced in Double Blaze. It immediately became one of the strongest decks in the meta due to its linear, consistent, sheer power, as well as having a favourable Prize exchange with most decks. There is immense synergy between Fiery Flint, Fire Crystal and Welder, and all allow Blacephalon’s second attack, which would otherwise seem average at best, to become one of the more dangerous attacks in the game. The deck however is prone to disruption and simply missing key pieces. It is ultimately a combo based deck, reliant on hitting the above cards in the right order.

The deck almost always contains just four Blacephalon and one Blacephalon GX, ensuring you have no bad starters. More importantly, the lack of support Pokémon means the deck uses the Green’s Search engine, allowing the deck to consistently find the many combo pieces it needs to attack every turn. Pokegear 3.0 helps solidify this engine by helping the deck hit constant streams of Green’s Search and Welder. It also means the deck is able to use Abandoned Power Plant, to secure already positive matchups against GX based decks like Pikachu & Zekrom and Zoroark.

The deck usually runs very high counts Wishful Baton, easing the stress on the player finding Welder each turn. However this always comes at a risk, as players tend to run heavy Field Blower counts, primarily due to the Fairy Charms in Gardevoir & Sylveon. The high usage of Jirachi, Volkner and Green’s Search enables many decks to hit these when they need to. Having only five Pokémon in the deck, the deck has a lot of space for Trainers, and runs maximum counts of all the important Items. In fact, it even runs high counts of cards like Energy Retrieval, despite the card being functionally worse than Fire Crystal, as the deck needs more than four ways to recharge its hand of Energies. The all Ultra Beast deck makes use of the previously unplayable Lusamine Prism, as you can almost always force your opponent to go down to three Prizes, as outside of starting Blacephalon GX or spread attacks, your opponent will only ever be able to take singular Prizes. Pokegear 3.0 and Green’s Search allows the deck to consistently hit the right cards at the right time, despite the lack of Tapu Lele GX.

While not an uncommon trend, the deck usually runs no standard draw Supporters, favouring searching and acceleration Supporters. Most lists usually run very little ball counts, favouring the Ultra Space Stadium for its ability to get multiple searches off. The deck usually runs a very low Guzma count, as the deck almost always needs to use Welder or Green’s Search to achieve a knock out each turn. The singular Guzma can be helpful to get crucial knock outs or to switch Blacephalon GX into the Active so it can GX to close the game. It’s interesting to note that despite being an all Ultra Beast deck, it usually only ever runs one Beast Ring, as the deck usually has more issues with discarding Energies from hand, rather than getting them on the attacker. Similarly, Beast Energy is not a staple, as it cannot be accelerated to a Pokémon, nor discarded from hand.

Weezing


Pokémon
3.67 Koffing
3.67 Weezing
1.67 Tapu Koko
1.17 Jirachi
0.83 Mr Mime
0.67 Mew
0.67 Tapu Lele (Fairy)
0.33 Ditto Prism
0.33 Blitzle
0.33 Mimikyu
0.33 Larvitar
0.33 Tapu Lele GX
0.33 Tapu Lele (Psychic)
0.17 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.17 Kyurem
0.17 Alolan Grimer
0.17 Alolan Muk
0.17 Nihilego
0.17 Zebstrika
0.17 Buzzwole
0.17 Oranguru
0.17 Hoopa
Items
3.50 Nest Ball
3.33 Mysterious Treasure
3.17 Spell Tag
2.00 Ultra Ball
1.50 Rescue Stretcher
1.33 Escape Board
1.00 Escape Rope
0.83 Switch
0.83 Energy Lotto
0.83 Counter Catcher
0.33 Enhanced Hammer
0.33 Counter Gain
0.17 Pal Pad
0.17 Timer Ball
0.17 Field Blower
0.17 Adventure Bag
0.17 Choice Band
Supporters
4.00 Cynthia
3.50 Lillie
2.50 Guzma
0.50 Pokemon Fan Club
0.50 Erika's Hospitality
0.33 Judge
0.33 Red's Challenge
0.33 Gladion
0.17 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.17 Morty
0.17 Team Rocket's Harassment
Stadiums
2.83 Shrine of Punishment
0.33 Power Plant
Energy
4.00 Double Colourless Energy
3.83 Counter Energy
0.67 Fairy Energy
0.17 Rainbow Energy

Weezing is a spread deck that was introduced in Double Blaze. Its Ability places one damage counter in between turns on all of your opponent’s Pokémon. This has great synergy with its attack, which does 40 to the Active and 20 to benched Pokémon with damage on them. While Mew cannot block its Ability, it can block the bench damage from this attack and this may be why some Weezing decks choose to run an Alolan Muk line.

Damage is also dealt through Shrine of Punishment, Spell Tag and Tapu Koko. Using these cards to spread damage means Weezing can get value for its attack the first turn it comes into play. Mr Mime is also played to stop Acerolas and the opponent taking damage off their field. This allows the Weezing player to finish off with a Magical Swap.

Jirachi is played in some of the decks, but only in low counts. Despite this, cards like Oranguru, Zebstrika, Marshadow and Pokegear 3.0 are barely played in the deck, instead having high draw Supporter counts to chain Energies. Despite it being a non-GX deck, its reliance on Shrine of Punishment means the deck cannot exploit Abandoned Power Plant.

Naganadal Quagsire

Pokémon
3.13 Articuno
2.63 Wooper
2.13 Quagsire
1.75 Poipole
1.63 Naganadel
1.50 Eevee
0.75 Vaporeon GX
0.75 Glaceon GX
0.75 Wailord & Magikarp  GX
0.75 Tapu Lele GX
0.50 Ditto Prism
0.38 Pheromosa & Buzzwole GX
0.38 Quagsire (Fighting)
0.38 Volcanion Prism
0.25 Lapras GX
0.13 Pheromosa
0.13 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.13 Tapu Koko
0.13 Palkia GX
Items
3.75 Ultra Ball
2.63 Nest Ball
2.50 Aqua Patch
1.25 Rescue Stretcher
0.88 Choice Band
0.63 Switch Buoy
0.63 Pokemon Communication
0.50 Field Blower
0.38 Body Building Dumbbells
0.38 Mysterious Treasure
0.38 Pokegear 3.0
0.38 Max Potion
0.25 Switch
0.25 Counter Catcher
0.25 Beast Ring
0.13 Pal Pad
0.13 Energetic Fidget Spinner
0.13 Wishful Baton
Supporters
3.25 Cynthia
3.13 Lillie
2.25 Guzma
0.88 Erika's Hospitality
0.75 Sightseer
0.25 Sophocles
0.25 Judge
0.13 Gladion
0.13 Professor Kukui
0.13 Lt. Surge’s Battle
0.13 Crasher Wake
0.13 Team Rocket's Harassment
0.13 Tate & Liza
Stadiums
1.63 Brooklet Hill
0.63 Viridian Forest
0.50 Ultra Space
Energy
10.38 Water Energy
1.38 Unit Energy FWG
0.25 Beast Energy
0.25 Double Colourless Energy

Quagsire has seen increasing success in the SM1-SM10 metagame, largely in part due to the popularity of Fire decks. Although it essentially achieves a similar result to the Blastoise archetype, it relies on more of a completed board state, rather than setting up multiple Stage 2 Pokémon and using a luck based Ability. Although the general fundamentals of the deck remain the same for all, there are multiple variations of the Quagsire engine, all attempting to do different things. One variant is Eevee-based, using Glaceon and Vaporeon to have control and spread options. The other is a Pheromosa & Buzzwole version, which aims to get enough Energy onto it through Quagsire, Naganadal and Unit Energies to close out the match with an eight-Energy Beast Game. The final variant is the toolbox version with a multitude of Water attackers.

All decks run Articuno in high counts. Articuno protects unevolved Woopers in the early game and serves as a solid attacker, allowing Energy to remain on board even if it is knocked out. This walling technique allows the deck to get multiple Energy on board, triggering the additional effect of one of the Tag Team’s GX moves. The Fighting type Quagsire is a new addition from Double Blaze, hitting a flat 120 damage for three Water Energy. This is perfect for knocking out Pikachu & Zekrom GXs and Zoroark GXs.

Mill


Pokémon
2.00 Hoopa
1.67 Lucario & Melmetal GX
1.11 Bronzong
1.11 Bronzor
0.89 Regigigas
0.78 Unown
0.67 Oddish
0.67 Vileplume
0.44 Girafarig
0.44 Durant
0.44 Genesect
0.33 Dragonite
0.22 Registeel
0.22 Stakataka
0.22 Articuno GX
0.22 Muk & Alolan Muk GX
0.22 Wailord & Magikarp GX
0.11 Pikachu (SM 325)
0.11 Xurkitree GX
0.11 Solgaleo Prism
0.11 Oranguru
0.11 Noibat
Items
3.89 Max Potion
2.44 Nest Ball
2.11 Crushing Hammer
1.78 Rescue Stretcher
1.78 Counter Catcher
1.78 Metal Frying Pan
0.67 Rare Candy
0.56 Secret Hood
0.44 Enhanced Hammer
0.33 Ultra Ball
0.33 Pokegear 3.0
0.33 Buff Padding
0.22 Looker Whistle
0.11 Switch
0.11 Super Scoop Up
0.11 Field Blower
0.11 Wait and See Hammer
0.11 Adventure Bag
Supporters
3.56 Steven's Resolve
2.89 Acerola
2.89 Lusamine
2.56 Plumeria
1.89 Gladion
1.67 Bill's Analysis
1.56 Cynthia
1.22 Team Skull Grunt
1.11 Lt. Surge’s Battle
1.11 Guzma
0.67 Faba
0.67 Janine
0.56 Hau
0.44 Green's Search
0.44 Whitney
0.33 Looker
0.33 Tate and Liza
0.33 Erika's Hospitality
0.33 Pokemon Fan Club
0.22 Lillie
0.11 Judge
0.11 Lance Prism
Stadiums
0.78 Wondrous Labyrinth Prism
0.67 Power Plant
0.44 Players Ceremony
0.33 Mount Lanakila
0.22 Life Forest Prism
Energy
1.89 Double Colourless Energy
0.67 Metal Energy
0.56 Rainbow Energy

As mentioned in the introduction, there has been a resurgence of mill archetypes in Japan. Although almost all of these win their games due to Unown HAND (rather than traditional deck out), the deck only became popular with the introduction Melmetal & Lucario GX. The GX attack of the Tag Team is completely game-defining and the additional effect is also easily accomplished. In conjunction with Metal Frying Pan this can create a difficult barrier for your opponent to attack through. The inability of most decks to one shot this Pokémon means it can usually be taken off the field with Acerola, if vulnerable.

Similar to mill archetypes seen the SM-TEU format, there are many different versions in the Japanese metagame. Most variants seems split on their support Pokémon, with some preferring BUS Vileplume, and others UNB Bronzong. Vileplume thrives in a big Basics format. The surge in popularity of the deck however means that most players make sure they have some out against it. Reshiram & Charizard decks are sometimes running Flareon GX lines, to make sure the matchup becomes winnable. The thick 2-3 counts also mean they aren't susceptible to plays like Lugia GX's Lost Purge GX (although this is not common at all in Japan). Gardevoir & Sylveon usually runs at least one copy of Secret Hood, rendering Vileplume's Ability useless. Lightning decks have the option of running Jolteon GX, however almost all of them choose not to.

The Bronzong variant seems to be more a localised metagame decision, taking complete autowins against Fire variants at the cost of losing Basic Pokémon immunity. In general, most of the mill lists are very streamlined, choosing to place huge emphasis on their lock Pokémon of choice plus Hoopa and Lucario & Melmetal, rather than using a toolbox approach with cards like Regigigas, Durant, Lugia GX, Articuno GX, Goomy, Shuckle GX, Noibat etc.

Unlike a recent trend in the SM -TEU Format, variants are still reliant on high counts of Energy denial cards, including an unusually high average count of three Plumeria. The deck makes better use out of Lt Surge's Battle than any other deck in the format, which is indicative by it being included in high counts in every deck. The ability to both Plumeria and Steven’s, or Lusamine and Acerola, in the same turn is incredibly powerful. It is important to point out the existence of the card, Player's Ceremony, a very rare promo card currently exclusive to Japan. In a similar vein to Tropical Beach, the card is unbelievably expensive (worth over $400 USD each), and very few people have access to a single copy, let alone multiple. The rarity of the card means that many of the lists may actually be suboptimal, and if this card existed with greater availability, different varieties of mill may exist. However, variants of the deck have still had success despite the lack of Player's Ceremony in lists, suggesting that it may potentially be a win-more card.

Blastoise


Pokémon
4.00 Squirtle
2.67 Blastoise
2.00 Blastoise GX
1.67 Alolan Vulpix
1.67 Articuno
1.17 Alolan Ninetales GX
1.17 Tapu Lele GX
0.83 Wartortle
0.17 Kyurem (Unb)
0.17 Mew
0.17 Marshadow (Reset Hole)
Items
4.00 Rare Candy
3.67 Ultra Ball
1.50 Nest Ball
1.17 Timer Ball
0.83 Choice Band
0.83 Energy Recycler
0.83 Rescue Stretcher
0.83 Max Potion
0.67 Acro Bike
0.67 Pokemon Communication
0.50 Field Blower
0.33 Judge Whistle
0.33 Aqua Patch
0.17 Choice Helmet
0.17 Escape Rope
0.17 Swift Buoy
0.17 Energy Recycle System
Supporters
3.00 Lillie
2.67 Cynthia
2.50 Guzma
1.00 Erika's Hospitality
1.00 Professor Elm's Lecture
0.67 Bill's Analysis
0.17 Red's Challenge
Stadiums
2.83 Brooklet Hill
Energy
13.33 Water Energy
0.17 Fairy Energy

Blastoise (both the GX and non-GX versions) has found a place in the meta, largely due to type advantage against the popular Reshiram & Charizard GX and Blacephalon. The strategy of the deck is to tank with Articuno in the early game, allowing your Squirtles to evolve without being targeted by Guzmas. Articuno can also be used in the late game to attack while conserving Energy, especially efficient against Fire types. Once Blastoises have been set up, the deck aims to rid its contents of as many non-Water Energy cards as possible, allowing Powerful Squall to attach many Energies every turn. The combo is then completed by using Blastoise GX’s Rocket Splash to shuffle them all back in while dealing a large amount of damage.

Pheromosa & Buzzwole


Pokémon
4.00 Pheromosa & Buzzwole  GX
1.20 Misdreavus
1.20 Mismagius
Items
4.00 Pokegear 3.0
3.80 Beast Ring
2.60 Net Ball
1.80 Choice Band
1.60 Max Potion
1.60 Custom Catcher
1.20 Acro Bike
1.20 Dusk Stone
1.00 Nest Ball
1.00 Field Blower
0.80 Counter Catcher
0.80 Weakness Policy
0.60 Energy Recycler
0.40 Ultra Ball
0.40 Beast Bringer
0.20 Enhanced Hammer
0.20 Adventure Bag
0.20 Pal Pad
0.20 Wishful Baton
0.20 Judge Whistle
0.20 Switch
Supporters
4.00 Green's Search
2.40 Acerola
2.20 Guzma
2.20 Lt. Surge’s Battle
1.00 Professor Kukui
0.80 Ultra Forest Kartenvoy
0.60 Cynthia
0.60 Lisia
0.60 Lusamine Prism
0.60 Judge
0.20 Red's Challenge
0.20 Erika's Hospitality
0.20 Gladion
Stadiums
1.40 Power Plant
0.80 Life Forest Prism
0.60 Aether Paradise
Energy
10.20 Grass Energy
1.00 Beast Energy Prism

This deck has decreased dramatically in play since the past format. Similarly to Gardevoir & Sylveon, it has embraced the power of the Dusk Stone + Mismagius engine, allowing the deck to force an eight Prize game while increasing consistency. On the flipside, however, Mismagius makes Lusamine Prism almost impossible to use, as shown by decks with Mismagius not even running Lusamine Prism.

Some decks are running copies of Weakness Policy in a feeble attempt to hold up against Fire decks, although this hasn’t seemed to help any decks place at City Leagues. Aside from this, Abandoned Power Plant is another new addition, working well in the deck as it has no GX Pokémon with abilities. The deck’s main combination of Lt. Surge’s Battle into Green’s Search is still very powerful, allowing it to take multiple Prizes with Beast Game GX.

Celebi & Venusaur


Pokémon
3.80 Celebi & Venusaur GX
1.60 Shaymin
0.40 Jirachi
0.20 Tapu Bulu
0.20 Pheromosa
0.20 Absol
Items
4.00 Net Ball
2.40 Crushing Hammer
2.20 Nest Ball
2.20 Judge Whistle
1.60 Acrobike
1.60 Pokegear 3.0
1.40 Buff Padding
1.20 Potion
1.20 Switch
1.00 Field Blower
1.00 Weakness Policy
0.80 Mixed Herbs
0.80 Enhanced Hammer
0.40 Escape Board
0.40 Choice Band
0.40 Energy Lotto
0.40 Choice Helmet
0.20 Adventure Bag
0.20 Wait and See Hammer
0.20 Moo-Moo Milk
0.20 Muscle Pads
0.20 Big Masalda
0.20 Secret Hood
Supporters
3.00 Guzma
2.20 Judge
2.00 Lillie
1.60 Green's Search
1.60 Cynthia
0.80 Professor Kukui
0.60 Gardenia
0.60 Acerola
0.40 Red's Challenge
0.40 Sophocles
0.40 Bill's Analysis
0.20 Erika's Hospitality
Stadiums
2.40 Aether Paradise
0.80 Life Forest Prism
0.40 Power Plant
Energy

7.60 Grass Energy
4.00 Double Colourless Energy

One new variant of Venusaur has emerged with the release of Double Blaze, a version which runs no Shaymins and includes Green’s Search in its stead. With Green’s Search, Venusaur is able to search for the specific healing cards it needs to outlast its opponent. It is also worth noting that in both Green’s Search and Shaymin variants, Venusaur decks are running Weakness Policy to mitigate the damage that the new Fire decks dish out.

Blacephalon


Pokémon
3.67 Blacephalon GX
3.00 Poipole
2.83 Naganadel
1.17 Tapu Lele GX
0.83 Reshiram & Charizard GX
0.33 Ditto Prism
0.33 Alolan Muk
0.17 Naganadel
0.17 Dedenne GX
0.17 Salazzle
0.17 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.17 Alolan Grimer
Items
3.00 Ultra Ball
2.83 Beast Ring
2.00 Mysterious Treasure
1.67 Acro Bike
1.17 Fiery Flint
1.00 Nest Ball
0.83 Field Blower
0.67 Pokegear 3.0
0.67 Choice Band
0.50 Rescue Stretcher
0.50 Judge Whistle
0.33 Adventure Bag
0.17 Fire Crystal
0.17 Secret Hood
0.17 Pal Pad
0.17 Energy Switch
0.17 Beast Bringer
Supporters
2.83 Welder
2.50 Guzma
1.83 Lillie
1.00 Kiawe
1.00 Cynthia
0.83 Green's Search
0.67 Sightseer
0.67 Erika's Hospitality
0.33 Ultra Forest Kartenvoy
0.17 Judge
0.17 Lisia
Stadiums
1.50 Ultra Space
1.00 Heat Factory Prism
Energy
15.00 Fire Energy
0.83 Beast Energy Prism

The deck’s strategy remains largely the same, with some decks opting to run a small count of Reshiram & Charizard. The decks that do run the Tag Team tend to run Kiawe, allowing the Blacephalon player to charge up a threat on the first turn. This forces the opponent to deal with the threat, and if they do, this triggers Beast Ring. Reshiram & Charizard GX is also a good attacker to end on, due to its attack not requiring a discard and can force an eight Prize game. Despite the continued prevalence of Jirachi based decks, Alolan Muk has not been common in successful lists.

The introduction of high counts of Welder and Fiery Flint into the deck allows attackers to be chained more easily. Draw Supporter counts have accordingly been decreased. The inclusion of Welder means Energy Switch is no longer necessary and reduces the deck’s reliance on Beast Ring. This is particularly important in matchups like Pikachu & Zekrom, which commonly aimed to skip the deck’s Beast Ring turns. The deck can now more readily afford to discard all Energy on the Active Blacephalon GX with Mind Blown.

Spiritomb


Pokémon
4.00 Spiritomb
2.00 Stunfisk
2.00 Jirachi
1.33 Marshadow GX
1.33 Mew
1.00 Marshadow (Let Loose)
0.67 Mr Mime
0.33 Tapu Koko
0.33 Hoopa
Items
4.00 Nest Ball
2.67 Ultra Ball
2.67 Electropower
2.67 Hustle Belt
2.33 Energy Lotto
1.67 Rescue Stretcher
1.33 Acro Bike
1.33 Escape Rope
1.33 Switch
1.33 Escape Board
0.67 Field Blower
0.67 Great Ball
0.67 Choice Band
0.33 Adventure Bag
Supporters
3.67 Lillie
3.67 Guzma         
2.33 Cynthia
0.67 Professor Kukui
0.67 Erika's Hospitality
0.33 Red's Challenge
0.33 Professor Elm's Lecture
Stadiums
2.67 Shrine of Punishment
0.33 Black Market Prism
Energy
4.00 Rainbow Energy
2.67 Double Colourless Energy
1.33 Dark Energy
0.67 Unit Energy FDY

The new Spiritomb from Double Blaze dishes out an additional 30 damage for each damage counter on it. Its ability allows it to place one damage counter on it per turn.

A deck has also implemented Marshadow GX, meaning it can use Spiritomb’s attack while having higher HP. With Shrine of Punishment, the damage on Marshdow can rack up, as can its output. Other lists are running Stunfisk with Electropowers. Stunfisk hits for 30 damage (though do note it can knock out a Zapdos with Electropower) and deals 10 damage to one of your own Benched Pokémon, building onto the damage on Spiritomb. Its second attack is even more synergistic, dealing 30 damage for each of your Pokémon with damage counters on it.

Lists are also running maximum copies of Rainbow Energy, as well as Hustle Belt, both which have great synergy with the concept of the deck.
Find Excel spreadsheets detailing results of City Leagues: here.

Find Excel spreadsheets with overall statistics (including standard deviation, median and mode) from Gym Leagues: here.

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