[Aichi Champions League Top 8] Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian

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.

Hi, I’m Koshi!

At the Aichi Champions League, I was second seed after the Qualifying Round and ended up Top 8 overall. This article will describe my experience. The deck I used at this tournament was brainstormed by my teammate, rimper. As we worked on the deck together, rimper will write the section explaining the deck. Here it goes!

Hi, I’m rimper. Instead of Koshi, I’ll be writing about metagame considerations and explaining the deck. Please bear with me. (I went 4-3 drop…) 

Metagame Considerations


When the setlist was released, it was obvious that Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian was incredibly strong and would find itself at the centre of the meta. I didn’t understand why Galarian Obstagoon decks performed so well in City Leagues at the beginning of the format. Now, I recognise that people who played the deck the day after the set came out were geniuses.

People began to play decks that were supposed to beat Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian, but most of these decks actually only had 50-50 matchups against it. Before the Champions League, Pikachu & Zekrom and Fire Mewtwo & Mew decks were incredibly popular. In fact, Pikachu & Zekrom was favoured against the old Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian variant.

Choosing a deck for the purpose of a Champions League is completely different to choosing one for a City League, so you must think carefully. That being said, I was quite quick in deciding upon Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian for this tournament, so I didn’t really worry too much about my deck choice.

In order to explain my thought process better, here’s the tier list I had after the City Leagues:

Tier 1:

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian
Pikachu & Zekrom
Fire Mewtwo & Mew

Tier 2:

Lucario & Melmetal Zacian
Psychic Mewtwo & Mew
Morpeko Dolls
Galarian Obstagoon
Psychic Box
Blacephalon Naganadel

Tier 3:

Water Mewtwo & Mew
Baby Blowns
Torkoal V
Baby Charizard

Tier 4:

Other decks

To be able to survive in this meta, you must be able to hold your own against Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian. Ideally, you should be able to put up a good fight against other decks as well. If you can do this, your deck will rise to the top. For example, Galarian Obstagoon and Morpeko Dolls have a good Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian matchup, but struggle against other decks. These decks did well in early City Leagues, but once Pikachu & Zekrom and Fire Mewtwo & Mew picked up steam, they disappeared into the shadows.

On the other hand, Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian is a deck that can counter the meta using its power and techs. For example, running Lysandre Labs to get around Pikachu & Zekrom’s Big Charm, or running Dusk Mane Necrozma and Shadow Box Mimikyu for Fire Mewtwo & Mew.

Incidentally, I never expected Mewtwo & Mew decks to go so deep into the tournament. I built this deck thinking that the decks to watch out for were the mirror, Pikachu & Zekrom and Lucario & Melmetal Zacian, so please don’t ask me, “How do I play the Mewtwo & Mew matchup?” 

Deck Choice


Since the format was full of Tag Teams, I considered Baby Charizard as a possibility. However, I didn’t think it was a deck that could handle ten rounds, so I decided to run the Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian deck that rimper had created.


The first Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian deck I created was fairly strong. 

Image 2

Once I learned that decks favoured against Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian actually only had about a 55% win rate, I knew I wanted to play Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian (one other deck I considered was Morpeko Dolls with two Mew).

Within Shikoku [Note: Shikoku is one of the islands of Japan, where Koshi and rimper are based], Lucario & Melmetal Zacian and Pikachu & Zekrom had become quite popular, so I decided this deck would be a fine play. Further, every deck has a rough time against the mirror, so I wanted to play a deck where I could better control the outcome of the mirror match. On reflection, I didn’t practice enough against Fire Mewtwo & Mew or Malamar, so I may have lowered my guard in relation to those decks.

Deck Explanation

Deck: Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian 

Image 1


I won’t talk about basic counts like two Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX and three Zacian V, so I’ll only talk about more interesting cards. To be honest, if you look into this deck deeply, this deck has a lot of flaws. I was planning on apologising profusely for the deck, but somehow it won and did well (even though I can’t understand why). So, in this section, I’ll be focussing on cards that I didn’t use (but should’ve).

Cards I Used

4 Crushing Hammer

I think my deck was the only one with this as a key card. This card has many uses, for example against the mirror, Pikachu & Zekrom and Lucario & Melmetal. It can also be useful against Morpeko Dolls and Galarian Obstagoon. When I first built a vanilla version of the deck, I compared it with my friend’s Lucario & Melmetal Zacian deck, which had been piloted to win an unofficial tournament in Okayama. By comparing the two decks, I came up with the idea of Crushing Hammer. At first, I was sort of messing around with coin flips, but it actually made the Pikachu & Zekrom and Lucario & Melmetal matchups favoured, so I couldn’t even joke about it. I figured that I wouldn’t be able to beat a good player with my skill alone, so I decided to rely on luck. The card can also be used against Fire decks.

3 Pokemon Catcher

I thought that running four Pokemon Catcher would yield a higher expected value when needed than running four Custom Catcher. But I am strong minded. I was playing like I had four Pokemon Catcher but I actually only had three… I’m an unobservant man. Further, at a tournament like a Champions League where you must play ten rounds, Custom Catcher is more reliable, so for people who don’t like coin flips, you can make that switch. As soon as I came back from the Aichi Champions League, I made that exact change.

1 Giant Bomb

I can only run four Crushing Hammer, so this card is for when I can’t use Crushing Hammer on the first turn going second. This is the answer for an opposing Ultimate Ray. If, in the early game, my opponent sees that they can’t knock out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX and goes after Zacian V instead, this can put me in a tough spot. By attaching this to Zacian V it can buy that crucial turn. You should remember that if Lysandre Labs is in play, you won’t be able to place ten damage counters. However, your Giant Bomb will also not be discarded after your opponent ends their turn.

4 Switch

While this isn’t a particularly strange count, some people have been running less copies so I’m putting this here just in case. Please put four in your deck, there’s no way you can run any less. Please think about this yourself.

1 Energy Spinner

This was originally a Viridian Forest. This spot was reserved for a card which would allow Jirachi to essentially search for Energy, and I thought Energy Spinner was better than Viridian Forest. I don’t think it would be a bad idea to put one more in, either.

1 Reset Stamp

I personally thought that having Marnie was enough, and, favouring consistency, ran a third Jirachi instead. However, this card can be strong so if you have space, don’t hesitate to include it.

4 Marnie

This was the strongest Supporter. It’s a lot like Let Loose. It’s also very cute.

2 Cynthia

I ran this to refresh my hand after an opposing Marnie. It can be stronger than Marnie where your opponent has guaranteed access to a Supporter. Further, it isn’t good to run your resources too thin so I reduced the counts of Professor’s Research and included Cynthia.

1 Team Yell Grunt

I included Crushing Hammer because of this card. There are many situations which can become lethal if you can get rid of two Energy in one turn. It was very useful. This slot could also have been replaced with Nita, however this card is quite restrictive in that you can only target the Active Pokemon and it must be a Basic. So I chose Team Yell Grunt instead. It’s invaluable if you can discard Energy on the Bench while knocking out the Active Pokemon.

1 Shrine of Punishment

This knocks out Tag Teams with 270HP (most relevantly, Mewtwo & Mew GX) as Brave Blade can hit for 260 + 10 damage. Originally, I had Galarian Zigzagoon in its place, but it can only be used once, and is also dangerous to play down against Ultra Necrozma. I think it’s fine to play though. I hadn’t thought of Shadow Box Mimikyu, so I regret not including that.

2 Lysandre Labs

This was great. I was discussing putting in a Faba to counter Pikachu & Zekrom’s Big Charm and Lucario & Melmetal’s Metal Frying Pan, and I thought of this. Firstly, I put just one in, and it was stronger than I could’ve imagined. Of course, it also prevents Escape Board and Air Balloon. I wanted to play this card down often, so I ran an extra copy. I was able to destroy all the Tools. I bought four of these for 100 yen and then the next week they were being sold for 700 yen, so I was lucky I bought them in a hurry. This is a necessary card for all players, so make sure you buy it.

1 Water Energy

I wanted to run nine Metal Energy and drop either one Aurora Energy or one Water Energy. I wanted to do this as I could use Altered Creation GX (without the additional effect) for one Metal Energy, a situation that came up quite a lot.

Cards I Looked Over


If you have space, I think you should include this card. However, I don’t think this card will single-handedly allow you to win the Morpeko Dolls or Galarian Obstagoon matchups.


This was originally in my deck, but I felt that even if I had taken it out and ran a 59 card deck, it wouldn’t have made much of a difference. However, whether you hit an Energy from Intrepid Sword can make or break the game, so I definitely think you should include one. Its strength will be further showcased if you run Custom Catcher. I really regret not running this.

Dedenne GX

This card can lose you the game so I didn’t run it. I also run a low amount of Basic Pokemon, so my chances of starting with it were high. You can lose the game just by playing it down. If you do want to play it, keep it to one copy. All decks in the format play Great Catcher, so Dedenne GX will absolutely be targeted down.

Galarian Zigzagoon

This is a Shrine of Punishment that can damage any Pokemon. Against V and GX Pokemon with 190 HP, they can be knocked out with Ultimate Ray while still taking advantage of the additional effect of Altered Creation GX. However, its effect isn’t continuous so if you start with it, it’s useless. More recently, players have been running Stealthy Hood to avoid it.


This is the Mewtwo & Mew GX killer. I regret not thinking of this card until afterwards. While this card is great against Fire Mewtwo & Mew decks, Psychic Mewtwo & Mew decks will simply not play Mewtwo & Mew GX, so we will see if this card is still played at the upcoming City Leagues.

Fourth Metal Saucer

I reduced my counts of Metal Saucer because I ran less Professor’s Research and it’s hard to play on the first turn. But I think it’s better to include it.

Custom Catcher

This is the better gusting option. My apologies.

Metal Frying Pan

I had this card in my deck for Fire Mewtwo & Mew and Lucario & Melmetal Zacian, but took it out the day before. Since I began to run Lysandre Labs, it wasn’t as good and I ran out of space. It’s still a strong card, and I want to put it back in.

Air Balloon

This card is good for retreating Zacian V (and Oranguru, even though I didn’t run it). Four Switch isn’t enough, so I definitely think this card could put in work. You can also attach it to your own Absol if your opponent has an Absol as well. I’m thinking maybe one Escape Board is enough, and the second could be swapped for an Air Balloon.

Lillie’s Clefairy Doll

This card is good for sacrificing when you must use Intrepid Sword or you must draw into Catchers to win. It’s good when you’re struggling to set up. I’m sad I didn’t have enough time to practice with this card. It’s probably good.

Tag Supporters

I put in Tag Calls mainly because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to search out Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX. While I think a straightforward, simple build is the way to go, Cynthia & Caitlin is still a great card.


While I considered this card for Big Charm on Pikachu & Zekrom GX and for Metal Frying Pan on Zacian V after Full Metal Wall, I opted to run Lysandre Labs instead.

Viridian Forest

While I included this originally to have a Jirachi-searchable Energy, I realised Energy Spinner was the better option. Guzma & Hala can get Aurora Energy, and there aren’t many situations where Viridian Forest would be better than Energy Spinner. Further, I hate that my opponent can use the card too. So no more Viridian Forest.



Is this even necessary? I feel like this topic has been done to death. Oh well.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian Mirror

If you play normally, go first and you will win. If you run Giant Bomb or other shenanigans, you still have a chance if you go second. If your opponent benches Dedenne GX, the game becomes a lot easier to win. Keep playing Crushing Hammer and you’ll win. If you don’t use Crushing Hammer in this matchup, I don’t know what else you can use it for…

Pikachu & Zekrom

Destroy the Big Charm attached to Pikachu & Zekrom GX with Lysandre Labs. Depending on the situation, you can use Altered Creation GX with one Energy, but be wary that after you knock out Pikachu & Zekrom GX, you’ll need to take more turns to take your three remaining Prize cards. The game largely depends on whether you can use Ultimate Ray or not, so ensure you use your Mallow & Lana effectively. Tapu Koko V is especially difficult so take care. Attach Metal Frying Pan to force your opponent to find more Electropowers.

Lucario & Melmetal Zacian

Your Energy will be disrupted, so make sure to return the favour. If you can recover even a bit of the Energy attachment tempo, you’ll be able to win. I think it’s OK to use the GX attack even with just one Energy. Playing down Lysandre Labs and getting rid of Metal Frying Pan will make your life a lot easier.

Mewtwo & Mew 

If your opponent is running a little slow, after you use Altered Creation GX with two Energy, target down Dedenne GX, but if your opponent is off to a good start it will be a difficult match. You can also win the game by using Altered Creation GX for one Energy and knocking out two Mewtwo & Mew GX with Shrine of Punishment. However, recently some decks have been running Indeedee V so this game plan may not get you the win. Even if you run Dusk Mane Necrozma and Shadow Box Mimikyu, the game will be very tight. It seems like Mewtwo & Mew decks will increase after the Aichi Champions League, so people playing Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian in January City Leagues should pay attention to the deck.

Morpeko Dolls 

You can win by using Altered Creation GX and then two gusting effects. You can also discard their Energy, making it difficult for them to attack, which will lead the game in your favour. If you can knock out Oricorio GX with Island Challenge Amulet attached with Great Catcher and Lysandre Labs, the match will become easy. In this matchup, Energy denial is key. Phione is also useful.

Galarian Obstagoon

This deck will often allow you to get down to two Prizes. If your opponent has more than just their Active Pokemon, you will have to gust around it. The main plan with this list is to use multiple Crushing Hammer and Team Yell Grunt in one turn and hope that the opponent cannot attack. When you do this, to avoid Counter Gain, play down Lysandre Labs.

Blacephalon Naganadel

You can win by using Lysandre Labs to ignore Island Challenge Amulet. You don’t need Metal Frying Pan.


I didn’t practice this matchup before the Champions League, but I thought about it afterwards. It was my first time seeing a first turn (going second) Horror House GX, and I didn’t know what to do. Personally, I find the Aurora Energy variant more difficult. You get destroyed by Garchomp & Giratina GX. If Trevenant & Dusknoir GX hits the field, start powering up Absol to attack.


You have to keep using Marnie. This might be the matchup where you need Metal Frying Pan the most. This deck doesn’t like Crushing Hammer, so use those as much as possible. There are also some situations where you don’t even need to use Altered Creation GX. While this match isn’t disadvantageous, it’s not exactly advantageous either.

From here, we will go into Koshi’s Top 8 tournament report. I think this report has such important information that it should be paywalled. This report tells us that Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian can win even against unfavoured decks, so please give it a read.

Tournament Report


I didn’t take notes on the day, and I was really tired so I can’t remember everything. Sorry for that.

Qualifying Round

Round 1: Reshiram & Charizard, W

I went first and just overpowered my opponent.

Round 2: Lucario & Melmetal Zacian, W

I was able to play down Lysandre Labs which meant I could one shot Zacian V even with Metal Frying Pan.

Round 3: Lucario & Melmetal Zacian, W

I searched out for Shrine of Punishment with Guzma & Hala so I could get rid of my opponent’s Chaotic Swell. Then, I managed to play down Lysandre Labs so I won. Crushing Hammer was also useful in this match.

Round 4: Reshiram & Charizard, W

This was a Green’s Exploration variant, so every time my opponent searched for Welder with Green’s Exploration, I used Marnie.

Round 5: Lucario & Melmetal Zacian, W

My opponent wasn’t able to use Full Metal Wall GX after I used Altered Creation GX, so I just kept pushing forward and won. As a sidenote, all my Crushing Hammers were Prized this game.

Round 6: Lapras Frosmoth, W

Frosmoth was really strong.

On my last turn I managed to play three Pokemon Catcher in a row so I won.

Round 7: Fire Mewtwo & Mew, W

I was able to slow my opponent down a little by using Crushing Hammer and Team Yell Grunt.

I attached Giant Bomb to my Active Arcues & Dialga & Palkia GX and used Ultimate Ray. Then, both my Active and the opposing Mewtwo & Mew GX were knocked out at the same time.

After that, I just needed to target down a Dedenne GX.

This was a really close match.

Round 8: Arceus & Dialga & Palkia Zacian, W

My opponent was also running a Crushing Hammer variant so this was hell.

I went first so I was able to win somehow.

Round 9: Psychic Mewtwo & Mew, L

My opponent got a turn one Horror House GX going second, and then was able to knock out my Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX. Checkmate.

Round 10: Psychic Mewtwo & Mew, W

I played down Lysandre Labs to trap a Malamar with Air Balloon attached in the Active. I used Altered Creation GX then knocked out that Malamar. Then, I two shot a Garchomp & Giratina GX for the win.

Main Round

Round 1: Reshiram & Charizard, W

My opponent’s deck was running slow, so I was able to use Pokemon Catcher and Great Catcher to knock out two Dedenne GX.

Round 2: Pikachu & Zekrom, L

My board had a Jirachi Active and a Zacian V with one Energy attached on the Bench. My opponent had a Tapu Koko V in the Active and a Pikachu & Zekrom GX with one Energy benched. I had to decide whether to set up an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX or to use Metal Saucer and knock out the Tapu Koko V with Zacian V. Since my opponent didn’t seem like they had much, I did the latter. Then, my opponent used Stadium Nav to search out for Thunder Mountain Prism Star. They used Electropower and Tag Bolt to knock out my Zacian V. I then lost because I was too far behind. This was a difficult match.



Personally, I went 4-3 at my first Champions League, with more wins than losses, but it was a disappointing result. However, since Koshi did so well, I was ecstatic. While I’m usually bad at deck building, it seems like it somehow worked out this time. Next up, I have City Leagues, so I really want to put my heart into it.


While the last match was pretty painful, I’m really happy I was able to make it all the way to Top 8. This was thanks to everyone in my team. I want to achieve greater things, so I will keep doing my best. Also, I need to fix up my hair for the next major tournament so I can be on stream…

Please find the original Japanese-language article here.