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Shrine Zapdos, Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (Updated!), and Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar for SUM–TEU (Pre-Oceania IC Standard)
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SPE Gardy: 9th and 7th place!

Hello 6P! Or should I say “Pura Vida 6P!”? I’m fresh off a couple of SPE weekends in Mexico City and Costa Rica—the final two weekends of the SUM–LOT format. I had a ton of in both events. I decided to give Gardevoir-GX one last run. I’ve always gravitated toward that card due to how powerful it is and the success it has brought me so far. My list remained unchanged between events, though I was definitely tempted to make changes as I felt the Solgaleo-GX line included was not very useful. It proved key in a couple of games, but it was nothing spectacular overall.

Nevertheless, I finished 9th and 7th at the events, respectively, netting me +180 CP between both weekends, which hopefully secures me a stipend for Berlin. I’m just shy of the Travel Award; it feels like I’ve been on a downswing lately but I’m trying to not let it affect my mentality. I’m ready to try really hard to secure a Travel Award for the NAIC, Day 2 of Worlds, and, if the system works the same as before, the first IC of next season.

Bulbapedia

Finally, it’s time for me to focus on Team Up, and even though I won’t be going, I’m looking forward to enjoying the Oceania International Championships stream from home to take note of the best decks from the tournament! You can expect coverage on my YouTube channel immediately following the tournament.

We are mere hours away from the OIC, so I’m going to delve into what I think will do well and what has shown the most promise in my testing.

Shrine of Punishment / Zapdos

The best deck (that I wouldn’t play at Melbourne) is Shrine Zapdos. The deck has felt extremely powerful, yet it easy to prepare for by teching Alolan Muk SUM or a copy of Absol TEU into many decks. That has been the biggest issue I’ve encountered, along with tanky Celebi & Venusaur-GX-based decks. A deck such as this one can thrive in an environment that suits it, where it’s not expected and no one is playing Absol or Celebi & Venusaur. However, due to the OIC metagame being undefined, I genuinely think Shrine Zapdos is not a good call as you will run into random tech Absols and it’s hard to deal with them.

Having said that, here’s where I’m at with the list:

Pokémon (12)

4 Zapdos TEU

2 Buzzwole FLI

1 Nihilego LOT

4 Jirachi TEU

1 Diancie p

Trainer (39)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

2 Erika’s Hospitality

1 Cynthia

1 Professor Kukui

 

4 Electropower

4 Nest Ball

3 Ultra Ball

2 Escape Rope

2 Switch

1 Energy Loto

1 Rescue Stretcher

3 Choice Band

3 Escape Board

 

4 Shrine of Punishment

Energy (9)

4 Rainbow

4 Unit LPM

1 Beast p

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12

* 4 Zapdos TEU 40
* 2 Buzzwole FLI 77
* 1 Nihilego LOT 106
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Diancie p FLI 74

##Trainer Cards - 39

* 1 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 3 Escape Board UPR 167
* 4 Shrine of Punishment CES 143
* 2 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Electropower LOT 232
* 2 Escape Rope BUS 163
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 4 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 2 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 1 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 3 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Professor Kukui SUM 148
* 1 Energy Loto GRI 122

##Energy - 9

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 4 Unit Energy LPM UPR 138
* 4 Rainbow Energy CES 151

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72487 ******

Card Choices

4 Jirachi TEU: Jirachi is the best starter for the deck, and the high count of switching cards makes starting anything else a non-issue, which is great. Going second with this deck actually gives you a high chance to get a T1 1HKO on a Basic Pokémon, so it’s one of the decks I genuinely don’t mind going second with.

4 Zapdos TEU, 2 Buzzwole FLI, & 1 Nihilego LOT: Zapdos has all the synergy with Jirachi, and is a solid attacker because not many decks can play around Sledgehammer effectively. Finally, Nihilego is a solid tech in the late game as a surprise. Even if a deck is able to play around Sledgehammer, I have never encountered a deck—other than pure Spread—that could effectively bypass Nightcap as well. It’s actually easier to pull off Nightcap to close out games than it is Sledgehammer, as we run 4 Rainbow Energy and 4 Unit Energy LPM.

Trainers: Outside of the “Ultra Beasts package,” the deck is fairly straightforward with Switches, Escape Ropes, Choice Bands, Shrines, and Electropowers to make Zapdos the absolute monster that it can be.

Mr. Mime TEU: One final possible inclusion could be the new Mr. Mime in order to prevent Zoroarks from out-resourcing you by cycling through Acerolas.

(Unfortunately my cards are in the US for this weekend, otherwise I would definitely play this at a League Challenge this Saturday at my local store.)

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (Updated!)

The next deck that I would deem as extremely good (but way more difficult to counter [though people will try to counter it]) is Electric.dec. The hype is real, and I fully expect Pikachu & Zekrom to show up in big numbers in Melbourne this weekend.

Here is where I have my current Pikachu & Zekrom-GX deck as of today, after many games testing and tweaking things:

Pokémon (12)

3 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX

1 Raikou SLG

1 Tapu Koko p

1 Tapu Koko-GX

1 Zapdos TEU

2 Zeraora-GX

2 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Absol TEU

Trainer (36)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

2 Cynthia

2 Volkner

1 Erika’s Hospitality

1 Lisia

 

4 Acro Bike

4 Electropower

4 Energy Switch

3 Nest Ball

3 Ultra Ball

2 Choice Band

 

1 Aether Paradise Conservation Area

1 Thunder Mountain p

Energy (12)

12 Lightning

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 12

* 3 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX TEU 162
* 1 Raikou SLG 32
* 1 Tapu Koko p TEU 51
* 1 Tapu Koko-GX GRI 135
* 1 Zapdos TEU 40
* 2 Zeraora-GX LOT 201
* 2 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Absol TEU 88

##Trainer Cards - 36

* 1 Thunder Mountain p LOT 191
* 4 Energy Switch ROS 109
* 2 Volkner UPR 156
* 4 Electropower LOT 232
* 3 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 3 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 4 Acro Bike CES 178
* 1 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 2 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 1 Lisia CES 164
* 1 Aether Paradise Conservation Area GRI 116

##Energy - 12

* 12 Lightning Energy GRI 168

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72487 ******

I went through this deck very thoroughly in my previous article, but the list was largely untested and based on Japanese results. This new one is much more refined to my liking and playstyle, and it feels a lot more balanced.

Big Changes

1 Absol TEU: I was definitely not reliably beating Zapdos-based decks without slowing them down.

3 Nest Ball & 3 Ultra Ball: Sometimes this deck can’t afford to discard the resources in order to fulfill Ultra Ball, but it really needs to get out Zeraora-GX early, along with a backup Pikachu & Zekrom-GX to Full Blitz onto.

1 Aether Paradise Conservation Area: The inclusion of a second Stadium is mostly to have a second counter to Shrine of Punishment, as even though you won’t be winning the Stadium war, slowing it down a little is definitely important. Having damage counters spread all over your board can be detrimental, especially if you play Thunder Mountain p first in order to pull off a quick Full Blitz.

1 Zapdos TEU, 1 Raikou SLG: I reduced the amount the non-GX attacker counts to just one. These cards are important but situational. Ultimately, your main goal most games is to attack with Full Blitz as soon as possible. It’s such a powerful attack that sets up your mid–late game amazingly. Plus, the earlier you use it, the less likely it is that your opponent will be able to respond effectively, and a lot of decks succumb quickly to the pressure.

Responding to other 1-Prize attackers such as Jumpluff, Natu, or opposing Zapdos is when your Zapdos and Raikou shine, but against opposing GX attackers and the mirror match, they get in the way of the Full Blitz and Tag Bolt GX attacks that you need to pull off early on.

(If you want a more in-depth look at the deck and specific details on each card, definitely check out my previous article. Even though the list has changed, the core of the deck is the same.)

Ultra Necrozma-GX/Malamar

My final option I’d be considering if I were going to Melbourne is Ultra Necrozma-GX/. Psychic Malamar has fared much better this season; however, with the release of Jirachi TEU, the rising popularity of , and a few cards that help the deck’s consistency, it seems like the Ultra version of Malamar is now better.

Here’s my current list:

Pokémon (16)

4 Inkay FLI

4 Malamar FLI

2 Ultra Necrozma-GX

2 Giratina LOT

1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX

1 Tapu Lele-GX

1 Jirachi TEU

1 Marshadow SLG

Trainer (33)

4 Guzma

4 Lillie

3 Cynthia

1 Erika’s Hospitality

 

4 Mysterious Treasure

4 Ultra Ball

3 Switch

2 Nest Ball

2 Rescue Stretcher

2 Choice Band

2 Escape Board

 

2 Viridian Forest

Energy (11)

7 Psychic

3 Metal

1 Beast p

 

Copy List

****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 16

* 4 Inkay FLI 50
* 4 Malamar FLI 51
* 2 Ultra Necrozma-GX FLI 127
* 2 Giratina LOT 97
* 1 Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX UPR 143
* 1 Tapu Lele-GX GRI 137
* 1 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Marshadow SLG 45

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 2 Rescue Stretcher BUS 165
* 2 Escape Board UPR 167
* 3 Switch SUM 160
* 4 Ultra Ball SUM 161
* 2 Nest Ball SUM 158
* 1 Erika’s Hospitality TEU 174
* 3 Cynthia UPR 148
* 4 Lillie UPR 151
* 4 Guzma BUS 143
* 2 Choice Band BUS 162
* 2 Viridian Forest TEU 156
* 4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 145

##Energy - 11

* 1 Beast Energy p FLI 117
* 3 Metal Energy SUM 163
* 7 Psychic Energy SUM 162

Total Cards - 60

****** via SixPrizes: https://sixprizes.com/?p=72487 ******

I’ve been gravitating toward Malamar this season for Challenges and Cups, mainly because it can be both a non-GX deck and a GX deck too. With a Malamar + Giratina focus, you can keep bringing back Giratina and trade one-for-one as needed—and all the while you spread damage with Distortion Door to hit key numbers and potentially overturn a late-game Prize deficit with Sky-Scorching Light GX. The synergy is so incredible and allows you to outrun many non-GX-based decks such as Lost March or Zapdos (with a heavy Jirachi focus).

On the opposite side, once you’re up against the heavy hitters—like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX-, Celebi & Venusaur-GX-, or Zoroark-GX-based decks—you have Photon Geyser to reach up to any number you need to produce 1HKOs. Ultra Necrozma-GX is not easy to 1HKO without Weakness, so if you’re able to get 2 KOs with the same one, it’ll usually mean you win that game.

New Cards

1 Jirachi TEU + 2 Viridian Forest: Jirachi and Viridian Forest have been a huge consistency boost to the deck, as Jirachi is a much better option than Oranguru SUM and has synergy with Escape Board. Viridian Forest now makes the issue of finding a Metal Energy for Ultra Necrozma-GX to attack with almost completely void. On top of that, it’s an extra way to thin the deck and another avenue to get Psychic Energy into the discard pile.

1 Erika’s Hospitality: Erika’s Hospitality rounds out the deck with a very powerful late-game option in order to get the resources you need for a specific KO to close out a game.

3–4 new cards might not seem like much, but the expected decrease of Zoroark-GX is another reason why this deck is incredibly well positioned to do well in Melbourne.

Wants

2–3 Beast Ring: One key card that I keep gravitating back toward but haven’t found the space for is Beast Ring. Running only 1 wouldn’t be worth it, unless you played a heavy Jirachi focus. However, it could be a great card to have in a pickle, when your opponent has targeted your Malamars and you don’t have access to multiple Psychic Recharges per turn.

I don’t think it’d be possible to fit 2–3 Beast Ring comfortably without destabilizing the balance of the deck. However, I’ll definitely be keeping the idea in the back of my mind. When Ultra Necrozma-GX first came out, I was in love with playing 3–4 Beast Ring alongside Malamar. However, that was a different Standard format which had Parallel City everywhere, and keeping many Malamar on board was actually quite difficult.

A Lot to Love

I will probably end up running this deck at my upcoming League Challenge this weekend, not only due to lack of other Team Up cards until Collinsville Regionals, but also because I genuinely think it’s a solid deck.

The deck is very adaptable and that is what I love about it. It can quickly go through a lot of cards thanks to Marshadow, Viridian Forest, and the multiple Ultra Balls and Mysterious Treasures, which allow for resources to be available at your disposal most of the time. It has damage modifiers, too, in Choice Bands and Beast Energy, which can sometimes be as good as attaching an extra Energy for the turn.


There are many other options from Team Up, but I think these three are, at the very least, what you could expect to be most popular at the event. Many other updated concepts are extremely viable too, with Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX/Weavile coming to mind, as it gains a huge boost in Pokémon Communication. Lost March decks gain the Emolga engine to thin their deck more quickly and make Lost Blender and Pokémon Communication much better too. I could go on and on.

The Oceania IC stream starts this Thursday (~4:30 p.m. ET) due to the time difference. I’ll be sure to pay attention to what’s being played. Next week I will be bringing you guys an in-depth analysis of what went down at the tournament. I’m sad I don’t get to go this year, as it’s the first International Championships I will miss since they started.

Conclusion

And so, this will be all for today. Next week we will have the aforementioned analysis so that we can all be as prepared as possible for the first North American Regionals featuring the SUM–TEU format: Collinsville! I’m very excited to be competing there. I’ve made a decision to really push myself these next couple of months with traveling, in order to try and secure not only the Day 2 invite but also Travel Awards to the upcoming NAIC and the first IC of next season.

Thank you once again for reading. Make sure to leave any questions you might have or contact me on my Tablemon social media. Until next week!


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