Howdy there partners! My name is Michael ‘Rokman’ Weldon and I’m writing an article as the guest Underground writer for March! I was a part of the 6P writing team in the beginning, before Underground was a thing, and I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the online community.
Over the years of playing Pokémon, I’ve garnered a small list of accomplishments: 2nd at Southern Plains Regionals 2011, 2nd Oklahoma States 2007, as well as multiple top cuts on the Regionals and States levels. I’ve also won numerous Cities and Battle Roads.
Because of my competitive nature, I’ve always been striving to be a winner; but being a part of the community, watching players grow, and voicing my opinion about decks and archetypes have always been my focus. Recently, I turned my hobby into something real: I’m in the production stage of filming a Pokémon documentary. It’s about the TCG, VGC, anime, and various products of the franchise.
While I was in Oklahoma for the State Championships, I began recording footage for the film. I have a website setup (www.victoryroadmovie.com) and a blog with updates. I have posted some photos from the footage I’ve gathered and come early April I’ll have a trailer for the film ready to go! Stay tuned!
I also have experience as a writer on my film blog, as well as screenwriting, which is what I want to do with my life alongside filmmaking.
Anyway, in this article I’m going to cover Zekrom/Eelektrik (ZekEels) variants and talk about what I played in Oklahoma, alongside a tournament report. I’ll cover the deck’s matchups and all of that jazz, so to start off, I’ve got a bare-bones skeleton list for you to take a gander at.
Bare-Bones ZekEels Skeleton
Pokémon – 10
Trainers – 18
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
20 free spots. When I said bare-bones, I really meant bare-bones…
What to do with your 20 free spots depends entirely on how you feel like you should play the deck and what your metagame looks like. The separate variants all have their own pros and cons, which I will cover. Hopefully by the end of this article, you will know what’s good or bad in this deck and how to play the list like a professional player.
Before State Championship weekend, I thought I had a great idea of the format. I had been playing with about six different people on Apprentice and of course with my Pokémon pals, in person, but I was surprised at what happened the first weekend of States. I figured the format would be very clean cut between Zekrom Eelektrik, Celebi Mewtwo, and Durant. It turns out, it was like 60% ZekEels, 25% CMT, 5% Durant, 10% random stuff.
I knew the hardest matchup for my deck was going to be beating itself, Zekeels, which has the best matchups across the board. So, I figured I could tweak a Zekeels list to beat the mirror, and have a very safe play for States. The mirror is very straight forward, essentially coming down to who goes first, with the best start. That meant a high count of Thundurus, two Zekrom-EX, and Super Scoop Ups.
From Tom Hall’s list in the ECC (he got top 8), I realized how devastating Super Scoop Up is against ZekEels. If you can pick up one Zekrom-EX, after it’s been damaged, you essentially take a turn away from your opponent and can get a more commanding lead. Zekrom-EX is also great because most Zekeel lists don’t run Terrakion, so they won’t be able to 1-shot Zek EX, ever.
I also talked to Pablo Meza of Mexico (a previous Worlds top 4 finisher), who said his 1 Thundurus EPO was the all-star in the ECC, where he reached top 8, and after the tournament he said he is going to be running 3. So, with the changes I made to my list, this is where it stands prior to the tournament.
The last of the most popular ZekEels variants is one that is just teched out to the player’s desire. Running weird stuff and trying to keep the main “ZekEels” part as consistent as possible. I feel like this is the most dangerous of the variants to play, by running a teched out list, you lose the consistency and “core” strategies of the other variants, requiring you to think on your feet in situations where you techs won’t win you the game!
These are the three most popular lists at the moment and each of them use a different combination of cards to achieve their goals. I feel like finding a soft medium between each of them is the best idea because each can serve different purposes in their respective optimal settings.
Tom Hall Style
Pokémon – 15
3 Smeargle UD
Trainers – 31
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
You’re going to need 3 Smeargle UD.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is your consistency and crutch card. By running a high count of Smeargle, you allow yourself to run less Supporter cards, because he offers you the ability to copy your opponent’s, in their hand. With Smeargle UD, you’ll want some other things to support your key player.
Smeargle is a great card, but he is high risk, high reward. Sometimes you are forced to take chances with him, hoping to hit a Supporter to keep your turn alive. Good opponents can take advantage of this weakness and Junk Arm their Supporters out of their hand, stripping you of the opportunity to draw into cards to keep the train moving.
But, Smeargle can sometimes be a genius play. Hitting the Collector, PONT, or Juniper you needed to just go all-out on somebody. If you play the right cards and hit the right Supporter in one turn, you can completely flip-flop the board control over to you.
Personally, I love Smeargle. He can get you out of binds, he can also be a win-more card, when you are in the lead, allowing you to separate yourself even further from your opponent and take a monstrous lead. It’s an all around great card, you just need to be careful in your execution of Portrait.
Super Rod is a must.
With Smeargle, it is always a possibility you could run into an awful Sage’s Training or Juniper you didn’t want to hit. Forcing you to discard necessary Pokémon that are crucial to your setup. With Super Rod, you can easily fix that problem.
This is another potential devastating con to Smeargle, where you Portrait something you didn’t want to see. This will happen, and depending on your hand, can backfire terribly. In a sense, your opponent can control this as well, stripping their hand of Supporters, leaving only a Juniper. That’s one of the things I find troubling about Smeargle; your opponent can control what you get and what you don’t get, allowing skillful players to use him against you.
Since you’re running Smeargles, you want 1 Skyarrow Bridge and 1 more Switch.
Swapping through Smeargles is the goal, using multiple supporters a turn. With Skyarrow Bridge and 3 Switches, this will be easily accomplished. You’ll also be running 3 Super Scoop Up, so you can pickup your Zekrom-EXs and even Smeargles in a pinch.
Opening first with Smeargle, Collector, and Skyarrow/Switch is always an amazing opener. In this format and this metagame, going off on somebody turn one is a sure-fire way to guarantee a win for yourself. It’s all about establishing domination and control immediately. It doesn’t matter if you have a major threat on the board, just getting a board at all can be a good thing.
Toss in the 3 Super Scoop up and 1 more Zekrom-EX.
2 Zekrom-EX is what you use to win the mirror. He is so difficult to KO if your opponent isn’t running Terrakion NVI. So, when your opponent damages a Zekrom-EX, just hitting 1 Super Scoop Up and picking it back up, effectively negating the last turn, you put yourself at a huge advantage. Especially if you went first!
Super Scoop Up is another high risk vs high reward card, much like Smeargle. Sometimes you have to land a heads in a turn to make it a good one, or else the turn can instantly turn sour, maybe even worse if your opponent has a Catcher-KO ready.
SSU is definitely a win-more card and a oh-my-god-I-have-to-hit-heads card. There will be times you can pick up a Shaymin and do some tricky stuff, but for the most part, this is a great resource to have in your deck, especially in the mirror match.
Consistency cards: Tynamo, Pokégears, Lightning, More Supporters, Catcher, etc…
You can fill in the last couple spots with some solid picks. More Supporters for the obvious reason; another Catcher because who doesn’t love Catcher? More Tynamo because they are usually picked off pretty early in most games, and an extra Lightning Energy, to support your constant Volt Striking ability.
The basic premise of this variant is to use Smeargle to fuel your drawing to get out 2 Eels and 2 Zekrom-EX. Once there, you use Zekrom-EX in your Active Spot to Strong Volt. Next turn, you Dynamotor twice to the benched Zekrom-EX, attach a DCE, play switch or Super Scoop Up, and do Strong Volt with a fresh Zek EX. Follow that up next turn the same way.
Pros of the Deck
– Smeargle allows for very creative turns. If you see a Professor Oak’s New Theory with your first Portrait, you might be able to get 2 PONTs and maybe a Juniper off in one turn, setting up a perfect board and having all the resources you need in one turn. Smeargle allows for great early game.
– 2 Zekrom-EX give you a massive advantage in the mirror match. Zekrom-EX is already a very difficult Pokémon to KO (Terrakion is pretty much the only thing that 1-shots it) so having TWO can be devastating for your opponent. If you are able to get 2 down with 2 Eelektrik, you will be able to get Strong Volts for a couple of consecutive turns. That is so hard to deal with, for any deck.
– Super Scoop Up, if you flip heads, can crush your opponent’s soul. This is what turns Zekrom-EX into a ninja, allowing him to zip in and out of battle, in a puff of smoke. After you Strong Volt, just SSU him up, play him back down and Dynamotor too him, attach a DCE, and strong volt… again. It’s so huge hitting the heads.
Cons of the Deck
– Smeargle can ruin your day. Even though he is definitely a great card, he can single handedly end a game for you off of one bad Juniper, or even an untimely N. Juniper, N, and Judge are very popular Supporters being played in many decks in the metagame. Using Smeargle can sometimes be dangerous and net you losses overall.
– Weak early game. You won’t be doing a lot of damage early in the match, this can allow your opponent to put heavy pressure on you immediately. Your best bet is to turn two (with an eel) or turn three a Zekrom-EX and kill whatever threats your opponent have going for them.
– Super Scoop Up, hitting tails, can also turn this deck inside out. Hitting heads isn’t absolutely crucial to your game plan, in all honesty, you only need to hit one on a damaged Zekrom-EX to undo one of your opponent’s turns. But if you just can’t hit a heads, and take a risk Junk Arming a SSU to try again, hitting a second tails, you are in big trouble.
Pokémon – 15
4 Thundurus EPO
Trainers – 32
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
4 Thundurus right away.
pokemon-paradijs.comThundurus is the absolute best starter in the format right now, no questions. If you go first starting Thundurus and charge? You put a mountain of pressure on your opponent before they even get to go. This means they have to question every Pokémon they put on their bench, because with a Catcher, you can KO whatever you want. Thundurus is the best starter in the game right now. 3 or 4 need to be in the deck, pretty much with any variant, in my opinion.
2 more Catcher, putting you at 4.
Like I said, turn 2 Catchers are what you want. This will be the reason you usually use a supporter, to try and pick up a catcher to get an essential KO on a Magnemite, Tynamo, Yanma, Mew Prime, Cyndaquil, whatever. It’s amazing.
With Thundurus, it’s always a good idea to have 4 Catcher in your deck because you can turn two knockout whatever you want. It’s usually what you are going to Juniper or pont to try and draw into, if you don’t have the Collector for Shaymin and Zekrom.
1 more Zekrom BLW.
After about turn 4 or 5, Thundurus isn’t going to be the all-star like he was in the beginning, you need to upgrade your attacker to something beefier, like say Zekrom BLW? With an Eviolite on him, he is a great Pokémon that can 2-shot anything in the game right now. After you pick up a few prizes with Thundurus, Zekrom is a great sweeper to pick up the last few.
PlusPower is essential for the mirror match with this variant. With PlusPower, you can catcher up an Eelektrik, throw down a PlusPower and get a KO on a crucial Pokémon on your opponent’s board. Eviolite is there for Zekrom BLW and sometimes Mewtwo EX or Thundurus himself!
pokemon-paradijs.comEviolite and PlusPower are your resource cards, making everything in your deck harder to knockout, while making it easier to knockout your opponent’s Pokémon! PlusPower is great for the mirror also, making Zekrom BLW able to 1-shot the opponent’s Zekrom BLW. With PlusPowers, Zekrom-EX can also knockout almost anything in the format.
Consistency: Pokégears and more Supporters!
Since you don’t have Smeargle or Cleffa or any of that stuff, Pokégear and more Supporters is definitely the way to go. Pokégear is great because once you use it, all of your Junk Arms can snag it back up to get you out of a rut, like a bad N or a nasty Judge.
This variant is a tad simpler than Tom Hall’s. Get a Thundurus turn 1 and Charge. For the next couple of turns, you Catcher and KO whatever you want. Eventually when Thundurus isn’t doing the job for you, you switch over to Zekrom BLW to do the job.
Pros to the Deck
– The best early game of any deck. Thundurus lets you get commanding leads in the first few turns. Charging up for a Disaster Volt or Charging energy for Celebration Wind Bolt Strikes. Thundurus basically makes the deck; without him it would be much harder to get energy into play and the discard pile. You don’t even have to have Sage’s Training as long as you start Thundurus!
– Focused and consistent. This deck doesn’t need any tricks, flips, or techs to succeed; it’s just straight up good starts and hard hitting Pokémon to get the job done. This is a very simple variant of the deck to play, and personally, my favorite version. Thundurus is quite a key Pokémon.
– Disruption and control. With the ability to snipe whatever you want turn two, you can completely cripple and disrupt your opponent’s setup and board presence. Dragging up whatever threats or support Pokémon they lay down, only to explode it with lightning from the lightning genie himself, or his pal Zekrom.
Cons to the Deck
– If you have a weak start, you are very behind. This is the worst deck when it comes to not getting a good start, not only does this deck need a good start to succeed, it also needs one to get the gears moving. If you struggle to get a charge off, get your eels out, or whatever, you will be doomed.
– Going second is awful. Going second with Thundurus and Charging is still okay, but if your opponent is able to Knock you Out turn two, you will be in serious trouble. That’s why this deck has to go first with a good start.
– The mirror is really determined by who goes first. Since you will get Knocked Out turn two in the mirror, you can’t open Thundurus going second. Your best bet is to switch to a Tynamo and hope to Thunder Wave them, because otherwise, that Thundurus will have a field day, gobbling up your Pokémon.
Teched Out Style
Pokémon – 17
2 Blitzle NVI
Trainers – 30
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 13
4 Double Colorless
You are really free to do whatever you want with this variant. I’ll cover some of the main techs and talk about where you could go with this style of ZekEels.
Terrakion is going to be in the deck.
pokemon-paradijs.comThis is the first tech you’ll see in every version of this. He is an amazing Pokémon that can be super clutch against Electric decks; it just requires careful timing and avoiding starting him! If you run Terrakion, you will want a Super Rod or Revive to bring him back if you run 1 copy. You run the risk of starting with it if do 2 or more.
Terrakion is pretty much the all-star of the format. He is an amazing Pokémon (even having an entire deck archetype to himself!) because he can single-handedly dominate Eel and lightning based decks. This makes Terrakion a major target the moment he hits your bench, so be sure to attach to him immediately, or if you have Shaymin, swap some energy to him!
Zapdos is good against Magnezone decks.
Zapdos can pick off Magnemites like it’s his job. If you can go first and turn 2 a Zapdos, you’ll easily pick off a few Magnemites before your opponent can get anything setup. Zapdos is a very situational card because he has a very small window of use. You won’t be going for Zapdos in most games, but when you have the DCE and Lightning for him turn one or two, he is your go-to guy.
Zapdos is something I haven’t been too sure about until recently. Originally, I thought he was awful because a Catcher-Disaster Volt is the same thing, if not better than a snipe for 50. But there’s more to it than that. If your opponent does something like Eek with Cleffa and stay asleep, sniping for 50 and it not waking up can be a huge deal! Zapdos is also great at picking off Yanmas. MeesieMew (Mew Prime/Yanmega Prime/Chandelure NDE 20) Is a popular deck in the metagame, where Zapdos can shine.
With an Eviolite, Zapdos can also be a tank, making Donphan Prime and Terrakion really have to avoid him. Unfortunately, Zapdos is weak to Lightning, the most popular type in the metagame at the moment. I would say if you know a lot of Donphan, Magnezone, or Mees is in your area, a 1-of Zapdos could be a stellar play!
Zebstrika is amazing against heavy Item decks.
Things like Durant, Other ZekEels lists, or even Celebi/Mewtwo decks can crumble under Zebstrika. Zebstrika’s only weakness is his low HP, and only dealing 40 damage a turn is pretty weak. He is purely an early game Pokémon to shut your opponent’s hand down before you can get a heavy hitter up.
pokegym.netWith Zebstrika, you’ll want a lot of PlusPower, and max Catcher to take full advantage of his Item lock and 40 damage. Pulling up something with heavy retreat and taking away their ability to use Switch can be an amazing play. It will take some time getting used to the ol’ BLACK AND YELLOW BLACK AND YELLOW zebra, but you shouldn’t write him off because of his low Hit Points.
The idea with this deck is to turn 2 a Zebstrika and get a lock on your opponent’s Items. Once there, you can shut your opponent down while you build up your field, preparing a Terrakion, a Mewtwo, a Zapdos, or whatever the situation requires.
Pros of the Deck
– A fast Zebstrika can spell doom for a ton of the metagame. Disconnect is such a powerful attack. If you go first and turn 2 Disconnect, that means your opponent only had one turn to use Items. If they didn’t get a good setup in that one turn, it could be game over right away!
– Terrakion is a heavy hitter that can make the mirror match heavily in your favor. I’m sure after week one, you guys saw how popular Zekeels really is, having an advantage in the mirror match is a very, very big deal. Terrakion and Super Rod means you will be able to keep a steady flow of the big guns.
– Having an answer for everything. With Zebstrika, Terrakion, Zapdos, Zekrom BLW, and Zekrom-EX, you will pretty much have an answer to everything your opponents can throw at you. Each one of these guys serve a different purpose and can really make an impact on your tournament performance. Which ones you use is everything.
Cons of the Deck
– Not very consistent. This list is a bit scattered and unfocused. It needs some ironing out in your playstyle to get the gears flowing for you. With so many options and not a very clear-cut way to get it done, you have to improvise on your feet during your matches. It’s easily the most difficult variant to play.
– Zebstrika is very frail. If your opponent can get a decent attacker on the field in the first couple turns, your Zebstrika will only be able to Disconnect a few times, which is likely not good for you. So, it’s important to be able to get your own attackers ready behind your wall of Disconnect, or else you are done for!
– Energy is sub-optimal. Having to use Fighting for Terrakion is a real bummer because that means you have less Lightning in the deck, which means it’ll be harder to get them in the discard pile, which means Eelektrik is not working at his fullest potential. It’s something you have to deal with when you play Terrakion, sometimes it’s worth it, but a lot of the time it’s a pain.
Rokman’s Oklahoma State Zekeels List
Pokémon – 16
2 Tynamo NVI 39
Trainers – 32
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 12
As you can see, I combined the strategies of Tom Hall’s and the Thundurus version into this. The deck has a huge number of options and outs as well as consistency through the roof. What my game plan is every game is to open Thundurus and charge. On turn 2 I have a few options, I can either Catcher-KO, or if I have Switch/Skyarrow Bridge, I can Collector for Shaymin and Zekrom BW/Zekrom-EX and potentially do huge damage turn 2.
pokemon-paradijs.comSome of my list choices might be slightly questionable, but I have reasons for what I did. Shaymin is incredible. I feel like without him, the deck is not at it’s fullest potential. If you go second in the mirror match, Shaymin is what allows you to swing the game back into your favor. Level Ball can also snag him up, whenever you need to use a supporter instead of collector.
Most people feel like I should drop a switch for a 4th Catcher, but to be honest, I don’t think that’s the play. Switch is a great card that can be used offensively or defensively giving the situation, it’s a very very flexible card. It can get you out of a nasty Catcher on an eel to stall, or it can net you a continuous stream of Zekrom-EX. It is also a great card to use so you can get a Smeargle off when your hand is lackluster.
I feel like a second Smeargle could be an option, but with 8 draw Supporters and 2 Pokégear, I don’t need it that often. Sure, it hurts when he is prized and it will happen, but I can play without him in most situations.
The 1 Seeker is something I have been testing and I realized in a small percentage of games, having that card alone will immediately seal the deal for the win. In conjunction with a Super Scoop Up heads, I pick up two Pokémon. One could be a damaged Zekrom-EX and the other could be a Shaymin to win it right then. I like the option of having a card that is that strong and there is a potential to be abused with Catcher to force my opponent to pick up something they don’t want.
The deck’s matchups, in my testing, have proven to be great. Its worst matchups are 50/50, things like Donphan Prime decks, heavy Terrakion lists, and sometimes a lucky Durant deck. I feel like if a deck’s worst matchup is 50/50, it’s the clear choice to play, because if you have your Pokémon thinking cap on and play properly, you can often times tilt those matchups in your favor by just playing really well.
The week before States I’ve been doing a load of testing on Apprentice, as well as in person at my local league that I run. I’ve realized a few things about my deck that I think everybody should know about this metagame and this deck in particular.
1. You will not survive with a weak start.
pokemon-paradijs.comOptimizing your deck to have the best starts possible and most frequently should be the first and foremost goal of the deck building process. This format is so unforgiving to bad starts… and a bad start going second? Yeah, that’s the worst thing that can happen to you.
Obviously Thundurus.dec has the best starter Pokémon in the game and a very strong opener, with Charge, followed up turn two with Shaymin to Zekrom BLW or Zekrom-EX for big and fast damage. This is the obvious reason why I chose Thundurus for my deck.
N.2. You have to survive a stream of
N is such a devastating card to come up against. Running high Pokégear counts and PONTs, Junipers, Copycats, or whatever is the only way to withstand the disruption of N. Not only is N in decks where it should be, like Ross variants or Magnezone decks, but it’s being played in the things where it has no business being, like Celebi, Eel, and Mew decks!
This is one of those things about this format that can shut you down; it doesn’t matter what deck you are playing, N is the biggest threat from a Supporter right now. If you ever draw a Pokégear, play it immediately so you can Junk Arm for it later, if you need to.
3. Games are often decided by Mewtwo EX wars.
Mewtwo EX is the biggest card to hit the Pokémon scene in a long time. He’s not just good, he’s not just powerful, he is necessary. The only deck Mewtwo EX doesn’t have to be in is mew variants, (because they can 1HKO Mewtwo EX themselves). “Mewtwo EX wars” is a term that’s cropped up on Pokémon TCG, it’s where two players are in an exchange Mewtwo KOing Mewtwo, Mewtwo KOing Mewtwo, and so on.
If you are too hasty with your own Mewtwo EX and attack early with it, they can respond with their own, and if you aren’t able to get another one of yours up immediately, with the energy to KO, you could be done for! It’s a safe bet to just save Mewtwo and use it until you have to. He’s a dangerous card to play down on the bench, because your opponent will be looking to Catcher-KO with their own Mewtwo for two whole prizes!
ZekEels vs CMT: 60-40
pokemon-paradijs.comCelebi, Mewtwo, Tornadus has an incredibly hard time against Zekeels. Tornadus and Celebi are all 1-shot by everything in your deck! Going first with Thundurus start pretty much means this is an easy win. Unfortunately, CMT has the tools and resources to fast and crazy donks. I witnessed with my own eyes a Thundurus being donked by triple PlusPower Hurricane from a Tornadus. Just a shame, if you ask me.
Once you’ve reached the mid-game, CMT will be very low on resources if they’ve caught up with all of your KOs. Just be ready for the Mewtwo EX wars and you should be fine. There really isn’t much of a late game in this matchup, it really should be determined by early to mid-game who will be winning this match.
ZekEels vs XTC: 55-45
This variant of Celebi, Celebi/Regigigas-EX/Mewtwo EX, is a bit tougher than CMT. This one has a very strong mid-game and Regigigas is a monster to take down. You won’t be 1-shotting it unless you have Zekrom-EX and 3 PlusPower ready to go (which will probably never, ever happen). Once you hit Regigigas-EX once, he just turned into a hard-hitting beast that can probably 1-shot any Pokémon you have on the field, including Mewtwo EX.
To take down Regigigas, you need to first Disaster Volt him with a Thundurus, who will most certainly be blown to bits next turn. With only 80 damage on Regigigas, his Raging Hammer attack can only do 130, which won’t 1-shot your Pokémon-EX. Next turn, you can use either of your Zekrom to KO the fatty for 2 Prizes! Either way, this is a hard deck to run against.
ZekEels vs Durant: 60-40
If you have 2 Zekrom BLW in your list, this should be a much easier matchup. With only 1, it can be a bit of a nail-biter. I feel like Durant is pretty much understood by everybody, certainly the people reading this article, so I won’t go into too much detail on the matchup. Essentially, you need to get a Zekrom BLW up quick, and hope they whiff on Devours. Going first helps, obviously.
ZekEels vs MeesieMew: 45-55
pokemon-paradijs.comMeesieMew is definitely your hardest matchup. The game is pretty much determined by who goes first and if they do, if they can see off Chandelure. With Chandelure in the Lost Zone, you won’t be able to play down Tynamos because they’ll be picked off in a hurry! Sure, Yanmega and Mew are easy kills with Thundurus, but they also have Terrakion, which will stomp the genie into the ground.
If you want to win this, you almost have to go first, survive the Judges/Ns/whatever they throw at you, and get your Eels out unscathed (very difficult to do). It is possible to win this matchup without Eels, but it requires the MeesieMew player to miss a lot of cards and in general get really bad draws.
ZekEels vs Eelzone: 65-35
Believe it or not, Eelzone is here to stay, probably until Magnezone is rotated out. I played this deck all throughout Cities and I was heartbroken that I had to finally put my Zones in the binder (which I promptly traded for a Mewtwo EX). Magnezone is, in my opinion, the best Pokémon in the format right now. But this format is way too fast for Stage Two Pokémon to thrive. Pretty much the only time anyone should be playing Eelzone, is if they draw really hot, all day long.
Eelzone just can’t keep up with Thundurus’ pressure. Catchers and Disaster Volts all over Magnemites and Tynamos, they just can’t deal with the Thunder Genie. It’s even worse when the ZekEels player runs Zapdos!
ZekEels vs Reshiphlosion: 75-25
Believe it or not, Reshiphlosion is also still around. There is a new variant somewhere called Techphlosion; it’s got Terrakion, Prism Energy, Lost Remover, and a slew of random cards. I haven’t actually tested against that variant, but I have played with it. It does pretty well against ZekEels, if it draws decently and can get setup. Setting up is the hardest thing for the deck because Zekeels will have Thundurus and Catchers, KOing whatever it wants.
Standard Reshiphlosion pretty much won’t stand a chance. If you ever pull off a Catcher-Strong Volt on a Typhlosion Prime, they have basically lost the game, for sure. I’d be surprised if they didn’t flip the table in frustration as well.
Oklahoma States Tournament Report
marktoon.co.ukTo start off, I wasn’t only playing in Oklahoma States, I was recording for my film there as well. So, I had to pick up my film equipment from my old High School film program. Birdville Independent School District has one of the best Media Technology programs in the country. We have equipment like the Sony XD camera, an $8,000 HD Camera that scoffs at anything you see in most high schools.
Once I picked up my equipment I went over to the friend’s house, running super late. We left about an hour later than scheduled and stopped for dinner, after driving for about 30 minutes. Turns out the driver, Casey B. (sixshooter online) left his wallet at home! Putting us back another 30 minutes! Ha!
After listening to rap music and stopping at Target to buy some Zekrom-EX tins (David W. pulled a Mewtwo EX in the packs! Awesome deal) we finally rolled into Oklahoma! Once there, we crashed in the hotel after a little bit of playtesting and buffoonery.
The tournament had a great turnout, tons of people showed up and I really enjoyed walking around the event, talking to people and recording for the film. I was happy to see all the regulars and a few new faces, the guys from Arkansas, especially. Anyway, let’s get to the Report.
Round 1 – Micah P. (ZekEels/Zebstrika tech)
He went first, and after a Juniper (Blitzle in the discard, giving me the information he plays Zebstrika) he draws into Switch, Thundurus, Energy, which allowed him to Charge. I was devastated, because I started Zekrom BLW with a trash hand.
Going second, I had to draw something to get in this game. My hand is DCE, 3 Junk Arm, Juniper, Level Ball, and some random stuff. I decide to attach DCE, Level Ball a Tynamo, and Juniper the 3 Junk Arms away. It was awful. I drew a moderate hand, but I took a huge resource dive losing those Junk Arms.
He goes, Lost Removers the DCE and Catcher KOs Tynamo. I struggle to get any board control, using this turn to try and get a setup. He goes and Shaymin’s his energy to Zekrom BLW and for three straight turns picks off my Eels and Tynamos.
I’m left with a half destroyed board, having to attach a DCE to Mewtwo EX, so I can KO his Zekrom BLW that’s been tearing up my Pokémon. He, of course, gets his own Mewtwo EX to start and effectively finish the war, because I have nothing in my hand to respond. I fizzle out and lose a tough game.
Round 2 – Eric P. (Emboar/Reshiram/Pokémon-EX)
I actually really liked this deck, I thought it was creative and a decent concept in this format. I built a concept list to show you what it looks like. This is probably how I would run this deck…
Pokémon – 16
Trainers – 31
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Pokémon Communication
Energy – 13
I feel like this deck can do so much in this format, really punishing Mewtwo Player by getting an RDL off for 3 Prizes! Naturally, the deck is almost guaranteed to fall behind because it needs Cleffa to keep refreshing its hand until you get an Emboar out.
pokemon-paradijs.comOf course, Eric didn’t have RDL or Ninetales, but did have Reshiram-EX and Eviolites. I pretty much got an amazing start, opening second with Thundurus Charge after Collector, into a Catcher KO flurry for a few consecutive turns. It didn’t look too good for him after I KO’d a Pignite, leaving him with no Tepigs.
He also ran a Victini, I’m assuming for Reshiram-EX’s second attack, because hitting tails on that is devastating to the deck because it leaves a 2-Prize Pokémon with 130 hp remaining. Which is extremely easy to do with most decks out there.
Round 3 – Alan M. (No show)
Since my opponent didn’t even bother to show up, he was dropped from the tournament, which means my resistance is pretty shot. I had a feeling after the way my first two games turned out, this wasn’t going to be a good day. Coincidentally, a friend of mine, Amalio O. Also had a no show, so we played for fun off on the side.
Fun Game vs Amalio O. (Ross/Donphan/Pokémon-EX)
He goes first, starting with Playground, I get 2 Tynamos and a Zekrom BLW. With my Thundurus active, I Charge, hoping to get a Catcher to KO a Gloom if he drops one down. He goes and evolves Phanphy into Donphan, Oddish into Gloom, and Eeks.
Now, I have a chance to really set him behind; if he doesn’t have Twins and I can PONT for the Catcher-KO on Gloom, I should be golden. My PONT is awful and I decide to get a KO on the Cleffa, since I didn’t draw Catcher.
He responds with a Donphan to the face, setting me really behind. I decide my only response will be to go Mewtwo EX and try to kill him. I play the Mewtwo down, attach DCE, Dynamotor, and come up for the first swing. He recognizes what I’m doing and starts powering up his Reuniclus BLW to KO my Mewtwo EX.
He plays down a Kyurem EX and starts swapping damage to it. He hits my Mewtwo EX again, I go and KO his Donphan, he KOs me with Reuniclus. Then, I Collector for my second Mewtwo, double Dynamotor, KO.
pokegym.netNow he is in a bad spot, he sends up his Pichu and Collectors, announcing his Mewtwo EX is prized. He can’t attack me with Kyurem EX or else that will be blown to bits. He attacks with Kyurem EX, which is powered up and hits my Mewtwo EX, taking away my DCE. After he N’s me to two, hoping I don’t topdeck the energy I need to X Ball him to death.
I draw it and that’s that.
Round 4 – Kurt C. (Durant)
I go second, again, which is excruciating against Durant, because if he gets a turn 1 Devour for 4 and I lose my Zekrom BLW, I am in huge trouble. Thankfully he has to PONT turn one, drawing into nothing but a Special Metal and Eviolite, Devouring 1 card (Catcher).
I go, and with an okay hand, have to PONT into a second Tynamo (my 40 HP one is active), a Collector, random stuff, and a Lightning. I attach the yellow energy and T-wave, hoping I can lock him up there so he can’t Devour me until I get setup. Heads!
He goes and Collectors for 3 Durant, attaches a Basic Metal to one on the bench and passes. I go and Collector for Zekrom BLW, a Shaymin, and another Tynamo. I play a Level Ball to evolve to Eelektrik and attach a DCE to Zekrom BLW. If I hit another T-wave, I will have my complete setup before he’s Devoured more than 1. Heads again!
He frustratingly hits tails on Crushing Hammer, before passing. I go and from there it’s Bolt Strike city, baby. I take prize after prize until it’s game over. T-wave Tynamo is a boss, by the way!
Round 5 – David W. (MeesieMew)
David W. is a friend of mine in Team Hooters who I playtest with and rode up to Oklahoma with. I played him last year at Southern Plains Regionals in top 16, my Luxchomp vs. his Sablelock. Anyway, as I have been all day, I go second and he gets a turn one See Off on Chandelure. That means I won’t be able to play any of my free retreating Tynamos, because a simple Flame Burst will put them to their grave.
I get a Level Ball for a 40 HP Tynamo, which is safe from Flame Burst, and I figure I can force my hand down and he won’t be able to match me, so he can’t snipe it with Yanmega.
pokemon-paradijs.comHe goes and Copycats my two card hand, sniping the Tynamo. Now I’m in a really bad spot. I eventually manually power up a Zekrom BLW while he spreads and take a few quick prizes with that, before he sends up his Mew and does Inferno Blast, putting me at 120 with Burn. My hand is really awful and I figure I should try to get a couple lucky heads and just Outrage him. I get one KO before I’m burned to death.
Then he Catchers up Zekrom-EX with DCE, Lost Removers it, and begins spreading. This pretty much spells the end for me because all I have is a hand full of Pokémon, Pokégear nets me no Supporters, and that’s it. I eventually scoop to him, reluctantly. Because now I’m 3-2 with the worst resistance of the X-2’s, I’m pretty sure I won’t even make it in.
Round 6 – Mark O. (Durant)
Sigh. I try to Tynamo T-wave like I did earlier, hitting the tails. I get a turn 2 Zekrom BLW with Shaymin and an Eel, and get two quick KOs with Bolt Strike. Before I’m able to Outrage for my third prize, he plays Rotom UD, Catchers up Eel, and snipes the Zekrom with Plasma Arrow.
I’m totally boned now, I’ve got no energy in play, Eelektrik active with no switch in hand, and no attacking Pokémon. It was an excruciating couple of turns as I squirm and try to get a board out. He eventually Crushing Hammers every energy I get into play before I fold to the ants.
I decide to drop from the tournament so I can record the last round for the film. I get some great footage and also record top cut, after making sure with all the players it’s okay.
Oklahoma States Top Cut results
Top 16 Decks
8 ZekEels variants
4 Celebi/Mewtwo EX variants
1 Donphan/Zekrom/Mewtwo EX
1 Mew/Yanmega/Zoroark/Mewtwo EX
The finals ending up being Mew/Yanmega/Zoroark/Mewtwo EX piloted by Austin C. vs ZekEels run by Alex F. Since I was recording the top cut matches for my film, I was asked to not talk about the decks and what ended up happening in the tournament.
Either way, this information leads me to believe that in Texas States, Donphan variants and QuadTerrakion decks will come like a stampede, rolling through Texas, gobbling up all the Zekeels.
States Results from the U.S.
ZekEels variants – 7
Celebi/Mewtwo EX variants – 6
Durant – 1
Quadterakkion – 1
Celebi/Mewtwo EX variants – 6
ZekEels variants – 5
Electrode Prime/friends – 1
Landorus/Terrakion – 1
Durant – 1
Mew/Yanmega/Zoroark/Mewtwo EX – 1
As you can see, the two most popular decks at the moment are Celebi/Mewtwo EX and Zekrom/Eelektrik. These two have the absolute best early game, with easy donks and knockouts from Mewtwo EX or insane pressure from Thundurus Charge. It’s all about the early game in this format, in case you didn’t realize.
I’m not surprised to see those two at the top of the winning decks. Clearly, they are the Tier one decks in the format, with everything else a shade behind them. Now that we have a defined format, I’m going to cover the metagame with a tier list.
Electrode Prime variants
I feel like Celebi/Mewtwo and Zekrom/Eelektrik are miles ahead of the rest of the format. It doesn’t matter what deck you are playing, these two can just explode, really fast, doing too much damage for anything to keep up. I’m not really sure what a deck can do to stop that, or at least deal with it, but it will take some time for the metagame to evolve.
You either need early disruption or get lucky and hope they don’t draw what they need. It’s kind of a silly way to approach the TCG right now, but it’s certainly the most realistic. Mew/Yanmega has massive disruption through trainer cards such as Lost Remover and Catcher, as well as sniping capabilities to take out key Pokémon like Celebi Prime or Eelektrik. I feel like that’s probably going to be my pick week two, but I still have some testing to do with a lot of different decks.
I know for a fact that Zekeels won’t be going anywhere, it’s still a very strong deck with a lot of flexibility. Looking back at my performance of Week 1 States, I know what changes I’d make to my deck and why.
First, I need to change my game plan away from Smeargle; he is just way too risky and doesn’t net me the amount of cards I was hoping he would. Second, Super Scoop Up is too much of a gimmick; I need to just iron my list out and be more consistent than other Zekeels to win the mirror match. PlusPower is also a great play that I missed not having. Catcher-KOing Eelektrik with Thundurus is a pretty big deal. If I play ZekEels week 2, this will probably be my list.
Pokémon – 17
2 Tynamo NVI 39
Trainers – 31
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
3 Pokémon Catcher
Energy – 12
The first thing I learned after my States performance is a deck that relies on chance is never a good thing. I have to rely on my opponent having a Supporter in hand, I have to rely I get a heads on Super Scoop Up, and I have to rely on the fact I get a good opening hand! These are the type of things you should avoid.
pokemon-paradijs.comWays you can do this is maximizing Thundurus starts by running 4 copies of the card, 4 Collector, 2 Pokégear, and 3 Switch to swap out the active if it isn’t the lightning genie. With this engine, hopefully you won’t have trouble getting turn one Charges off!
Sage’s Training is such a valuable card to have. Of course, without Super Rod it’s a dangerous play, but it can do so much for you. Putting Lightning in the discard pile for Eelektrik, netting you the draw for a Catcher, PlusPower, or even the Switch you needed for a crucial KO, it’s just a very flexible card.
I also realized, this deck can’t get the ball rolling if it doesn’t have 4 Tynamo. Against MeesieMew, you will have so much trouble if they can turn one See Off a Chandelure. Having the extra Tynamo means you can get multiples out, and if they go down, you will have others to evolve into Eelektrik.
Against Celebi/Mewtwo variants, your goal is to open Thundurus Charge, Catcher-KO Tornadus or Celebis, and try to avoid Mewtwo EX wars; getting involved in one of those is very risky if you can’t keep renewing your Mewtwo. Celebi/Mewtwo decks are kind of built to win those fights.
Against the rest of the format, you want to be flexible and adapt to whatever situation you are put in. Opening Thundurus is always a very wide opener, because it can lead you to many options. Shaymin to Zekroms or Mewtwos followed by Catchers or even just Disaster Volting for a knockout is a good game plan. It really depends on the scenario you are in.
Two decks really surprised me this past weekend, QuadTerrakion and Landorus/Terrakion really cropped out of nowhere. With Zekeels being so popular, these two clearly took advantage of the Fighting weakness and cleaned up shop! I think a lot of people who were just fed up with losing to Thundurus are going to switch over to this for week 2, in frustration. Capitalizing on the metagame shift is always a good thing to try and do.
As for what exactly the Quadterrakion deck looks like, I’m not really sure. I think it could be a good play if you see a lot of Zekeels, in my free time I’ve been testing it…
Pokémon – 4
Trainers – 43
4 Professor Oak’s New Theory
4 Heavy Ball
Energy – 13
Clearly, this deck is all about abusing Terrakion’s type and putting Eel decks to their knees. You can take cheap prizes with PlusPower/Retaliate for 30 on Basic Pokémon until one of your Terrakions fall, then you can retaliate for 90. Crushing Hammer, Lost Remover, and Catcher are all about disrupting your opponent and staying even on energy drops, because you don’t have any energy acceleration like an Eelektrik or Celebi.
pokegym.netThe biggest issue with this deck is how often you will mulligan. Of course, you only have 4 Pokémon, so it will happen very frequently. Once you front a Terrakion, the deck’s goal is to get a couple backup Terrakions out, with Exp. Share attached to the bench. With Switch, Catcher, and PlusPower, you should have no problem picking off prizes without the added effect of Retaliate.
Black Belt can come as a huge surprise to your opponent. Retaliate with Black Belt is 130 damage, add in PlusPower and you can pretty much knockout any Pokémon in the format, minus the Pokémon-EX. With enough Energy circulating around with Exp. Share, you should be consistently hitting for a lot of damage, especially when Retaliate’s effect comes in to play. Terrakion isn’t just used as a tech against Lightning Pokémon anymore; it’s a deck archetype all on it’s own!
This deck has incredible matchups across the board, taking down anything but Tornadus with Eviolites. If your opponent puts enough on their bench, you’ll be able to Catcher around the Tornado Genies and draw your prizes, but against a deck like CMT, if they just get 4 Tornadus and slap down a few Eviolites, you will be in trouble. But even then, if you hit Crushing Hammers, you can stay in that fight, for sure!
I think you should definitely give this deck a whirl, and let me know what you think of it! I’ve been looking at a few other decks for week 2-of States as well, I feel like XTC can continue doing well as long as it has its Zekeels matchup covered, it should be fine.
Pokémon – 12
4 Celebi Prime
Trainers – 34
4 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 14
4 Double Colorless
Looking at my Trainers, I feel like this is a great line-up. Two Gear for consistency, getting out of bad N’s, and running 3 Catcher, 3 Switch, 3 PlusPower as my resource cards to net me knockouts. The two N are great overall because on turn one, it’s essentially a Professor Oak’s New Theory, and in the mid and late-game, once I’ve established my board and don’t need any cards, I can N myself and my opponent before I get a crucial KO, hopefully cementing the win.
This has pretty good matchups across the board. Regigigas and Terrakion tilt the Zekeels matchup pretty heavily in your favor. As for Durant, CMT, and mirror, you should have an okay time as long as you go first and draw decently. With this list, I wanted to focus less on donking, and more into the mid to late-game, running 4 Collector over Dual Ball because I loathe flipping coins on my Basic-getting stuff. A lot of the time, I’ll need to get two Pokémon (Shaymin and Terrakion), so I can get fancy return KOs.
Unfortunately, sometimes the only way this deck can win is getting the donk. So, when I go for it, and turn one Juniper for the cards I need and whiff, it can turn out being a disaster, making the rest of the game a very up-hill battle. Hopefully I won’t run into that scenario very often, but it’s always in the back of my mind.
Pokémon – 18
4 Yanmega Prime
Trainers – 32
3 Pokémon Collector
4 Junk Arm
Energy – 10
This deck’s only weakness is a Terrakion start. Terrakion, without the 1 Switch, is pretty much game-over for this deck. The reason being, you need to See Off with your Mew in a situation where your opponent won’t be able to respond for a knockout, right away. That is pretty much always guaranteed on turn one, going first (unless you are facing Celebi/Mewtwo EX and they try to donk your Mew).
This, I feel like, is the absolute best choice for week 2. MeesieMew has good matchups across the board, only losing when it doesn’t get a good enough start. But that rule applies to every single deck archetype in the format right now; a bad start spells doom.
Crobat covers Donphan, Durant, and Terrakion decks. With Poison, Terrakion/Landorus decks won’t be able to use Exp. Share if they are Knocked Out by poison. Durant will get Knocked Out in between turns as well, Eviolite and Special metals will serve no purpose.
Jumpluff will be for the CMT decks, with a Mew, I’ll be able to 1-shot all the Mewtwo EX the deck has with 1 Mew and 1 Energy, while Yanmega can clean up Tornadus, and Terrakion for Regigigas. I think CMT variants will have a hard time drawing through Judges and Ns and if they miss a couple crucial draws, the game is yours.
I really feel like MeesieMew is a great play that can perform well, since it has such great matchups against most of the format. As long as you get turn 1 see offs, and hopefully you went first, you should be smooth sailing for the most part.
In conclusion, I feel like week one of States wasn’t that surprising. I just wish we had a slightly slower format, where if you don’t have a fantastic turn one, you’re not automatically out of it. We’ll see as the format evolves for what week two has in store. I hope you enjoyed the article!
– Michael Weldon
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.
Leave a Reply