Flying (and Swimming) Under the Radar

Dragonite/Salazzle and Dark Box (Sharpedo) for UPR-on/Worlds/DC Open
“Who’s that Pokémon?”

Hello again readers, I’m back with my second article for the month and today, I am going to be bringing you two decks that I have been testing and have found to be good. One of them is already generally accepted as good, and the other has seen surprisingly little talk when it seems so strong.

With the new format being UPR–Unified Minds, there has been a major change in how lists are built. Consistency took a major hit with the loss of all the good Ball search cards.


Pokémon – 14

4 Dratini UNM 147

4 Dragonite-GX UNM

1 Dragonite TEU

2 Salandit DRM

2 Salazzle UNB

1 Dedenne-GX

Trainers – 34

4 Professor Elm’s Lecture

4 Welder

3 Green’s Exploration

1 Lance p


4 Fire Crystal

4 Pokégear 3.0

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Rare Candy

2 Cherish Ball

1 Pal Pad


2 Giant Hearth

1 Heat Factory p

Energy – 12

8 R

4 Triple Acceleration

This is a deck that I believe has potential to break open the meta. The ability to deal 270 damage relatively easily is something that should not be overlooked. What the deck seemed to lack was a good way to draw cards, and I believe that I solved that with the inclusion of Salazzle UNB.

Card Choices

1 Dragonite TEU

This deck needs to find a Welder or a Professor Elm’s Lecture every turn, and Dragonite TEU helps to do that. Unfortunately it cannot attack, but Fast Call is more than enough to warrant the spot it takes.

2-2 Salazzle UNB

Salandit DRM is the optimal choice here because it has both 60 HP and an attack that ensures you find at least one more Basic Pokémon. Salazzle provides consistency and allows the deck to hit the cards that it needs.

4 Professor Elm’s Lecture

In an optimal world, we would be playing Lillie alongside a bunch of Items that search out Pokémon. Unfortunately, said cards no longer exist, and Lillie is much worse without them. This means that Professor Elm’s Lecture is now the optimal way to search out Basics in a deck like this.

3 Green’s Exploration

This may seem counterproductive in a deck that uses Salazzle, but it is necessary to search out Rare Candy and even Pokémon Communication to find said Salazzle. It also provides more outs to Supporters off of Pokégear 3.0.

1 Lance p

This inclusion is strong for obvious reasons. This is probably the most important card in the deck and is what you should be checking to make sure it is not prized.

4 Fire Crystal

R Energy is the lifeblood of the deck and we need to be able to recycle it easily. This is probably the most important resource in your deck and should be conserved as much as possible.

4 Pokégear 3.0

It is vital that we find our Supporters whenever we need them, and having 4 Pokégear 3.0 makes that much more likely.

1 Pal Pad

Since Welder is required for a majority of our turns, it only seems best that we manage to play up to 6 in a game.

2 Giant Hearth

I’ve opted to play these over Fiery Flint because they are able to bump your opponent’s Stadiums and still search out Energy. The biggest difference is that you only need to discard 1 card from your hand instead of 2, which is important in a deck that attempts to use Rare Candy.

Potential Inclusions

1 Dragonair DRM

Rare Candy may not always be enough, so having a copy of Dragonair may not be the worst thing ever.

1 Reshiram & Charizard-GX

This admittedly should probably be in the list, but I’m hesitant to put in something that gives up 3 Prize cards.

4 Custom Catcher

I want to find space for these because we already have a solid draw engine that would make finding the 2 copies necessary for thegust effect. Unfortunately, 4 slots is a lot and will be difficult for me to find without killing consistency.

The Matchup Spread

Obviously, we don’t know everything about the decks that will start to show up in UPR-on, but we have a pretty good idea of what the top three or four decks are going to be. Personally, I expect to see:

  1. PikaRom,
  2. Malamar,
  3. ReshiZard, and
  4. Dark Box

to be the four largest decks (in that order).

As a general rule, it is best to set up the Dragonite TEU, assuming the Lance p is in the deck. Once that is set up, feel free to sacrifice a Dratini and then use Lance p the following turn. Once you do that, you can start to run over your opponent. Of course, if the opportunity presents itself, it is best to go aggro Dragonite-GX, but that is much harder to sustain than it would be if Lance was used.

PikaRom: Favored

This matchup feels good to me because you are able to 1HKO a PikaRom easily. 270 damage is enough to deal with both a PikaRom and a Raichu TAG TEAM. This matchup is the one where it is best if you are able to find Lance in the early game because you will need to be able to have multiple attackers. Another issue you may have is the Raichu Paralysis lock because we don’t have any switching or healing cards. In this matchup, it is vital that you manage to take a KO on a TAG TEAM before your opponent manages to take 3 or more Prize cards. So yes, it can go badly if you do not set up reasonably fast.

Malamar/GiraChomp: Even

This matchup can get a bit weird because of how easily they can chain 1-Prize attackers. Fortunately, their deck is a bit slower than the average deck and can easily start a TAG TEAM GX that will give up 3 Prize cards at a time. I haven’t tested against this version as much as I have against Ultra Necrozma, which is a bit worse of a matchup. However, GiraChomp is a bit easier because they will likely be forced into a TAG TEAM at some point, and that allows you to steal the Prize lead back and swing the game into your favor. Avoid playing into a crippling GG End-GX, and you should be able to come out on top most of the time.

ReshiZard: Favored

This is by far the best matchup the deck has because you can easily 1HKO them, and they cannot 1HKO you. This is a matchup you can afford to start slower in, because they are unable to apply high amounts of pressure in the early game. Yes, you may go down on Prizes, but you will quickly catch back up after your opponent is forced to use a ReshiZard.

Dark Box: Even

This matchup is even as long as you do not play into Gigafall-GX, because of how fast you’ll burn through your deck. I personally expect Dark Box to take a back seat to the rest of the top decks in format, but I think with the right list, it is better than most other decks. In this matchup it is fairly easy to trade a Dragonite for a Umbreon & Darkrai-GX and then steal 3 more Prize cards off of our opponent at some point. Their only method of a 1HKO is through using any one of their GX attacks, so they can only do that once.

Dark Box (Sharpedo)

Pokémon – 21

4 Carvanha UNB

4 Sharpedo UNB

3 Sneasel UPR

3 Weavile-GX

2 Dedenne-GX

2 Umbreon & Darkrai-GX

1 Mega Sableye & Tyranitar-GX

1 Ditto p

1 Darkrai p

Trainers – 26

4 Cynthia

4 Lillie

2 Nanu


4 Cherish Ball

4 Pokémon Communication

4 Super Scoop Up

1 Energy Recycler


2 Dark City

1 Viridian Forest

Energy – 13

13 D

I have put quite a bit of time into Dark Box and I think I have found a list that I am comfortable with. I have not yet tested the Naganadel version of the deck, so I am unsure as to how the decks compare to one another.

Card Choices

4-4 Sharpedo UNB

The idea of basically playing Max Elixir and taking all the Energy there is appealing to me, and I personally like the blow-up potential that Sharpedo gives the deck. I have been able to get a turn 2 Dark Moon-GX often enough, and a Black Lance basically whenever I want it. Sharpedo also doubles as a strong attacker that can theoretically 1HKO a lot of threats. With Keldeo-GX seeing a bit of hype, having an attacker that can run Keldeo-GX over is always nice.

Darkrai p

I have seen lists that play this and lists that do not. This is part of the reason I am able to attack on turn 2 so often, because if I manage to find it early game, I am basically guaranteed an attack. It also has a decent attack for the Malamar matchup and an obscenely high amount of HP for a non-GX Basic Pokémon.

2 Nanu

Want to recover that Sableye & Tyranitar-GX? No problem. Want to prevent your opponent from taking 3 Prize cards off of that Umbreon & Darkrai-GX that has 230 damage on it? Nanu it into a Carvanha or Sneasel and give up a single Prize card instead. This card is absolutely insane in this deck and I’m only scratching the surface of the plays you can make with it.

4 Super Scoop Up

Unfortunately (and this is probably a good thing if we’re being honest), we lost Max Potion and Acerola and have no reliable way to heal a Pokémon. Super Scoop Up doubles as a healing card, a switching card, and a way to reset Dedenne-GX or Sharpedo.

Energy Recycle System

A well-timed Energy Recycle System can result in a Sharpedo hitting 3–6 Energy cards and can completely swing the game back into your favor.

Potential Inclusions

Mewtwo & Mew-GX + Dragonite-GX

This is something that I have gone back and forth on quite a few times when building this deck. The theory is that you can easily deal 270 damage which is enough for you to 1HKO a ReshiZard, which is currently impossible without Dark Moon-GX. I will be testing these in the deck and I encourage you to as well.

Black Market p

In theory, this card should be great in this deck. However, in practice, there are too many Stadiums in the format that are seeing high amounts of play. This means that we cannot reasonably expect Black Market p to stick even a turn, and if it doesn’t stick, then it is a wasted card. If Stadium counts start to fall, then I would consider finding a slot for this.

The Matchup Spread

PikaRom: Even–Favored

I have had multiple people give me many different opinions on this matchup, and I have personally come to the conclusion that it will go in my favor more often than not. The strategy here is pretty self-explanatory: Take 6 Prize cards before they do. If you manage to flip enough heads on Super Scoop Up, then the matchup is a breeze. If not, then you will be in for a bit of a tough time due to Raichu TAG TEAM’s automatic Paralysis. There is always the deck-out option with Gigafall-GX, but it is unlikely the match will go on long enough for this to be a reliable strategy to achieve a win. You can completely cripple your opponent by using Dark Moon-GX to KO a TAG TEAM and make them unable to play any Trainer cards for a whole turn. This usually ensures that your Umbreon & Darkrai-GX does not get KO’d, which means your Energy is preserved. Your opponent will then likely be forced to go into another TAG TEAM or, far more likely, a Zeraora-GX. If they end up using the latter, then if is easy enough to finish the game using Greedy Crush.

ReshiZard: Even–Favored

It is easy enough to win this matchup if your opponent is unable to play a Reset Stamp and then Power Plant to lock down your Weavile-GX. It is vital that you manage to get (1) as many Energy in play as possible and (2) a second attacker in play for you to stack said Energy on. It is best to use Dark Moon-GX to take the first KO against a ReshiZard because it is the only way to 1HKO the TAG TEAM, and it stops your opponent from playing any Trainer cards during their next turn. This prevents the Reset Stamp + Power Plant combo and also prevents Welder from being played. On occasion, you may outright win the game because your opponent will be unable to find another Pokémon to Bench. If they Bench another ReshiZard, it is easy enough to think that using Black Lance to set up a KO with your second attacker is a safe option. It is, unless your Umbreon & Darkrai-GX is already damaged and will be KO’d by a Flare Strike. If it is at risk of being KO’d, then you must find a way to either heal it, or use an alternate attacker to take care of whatever is in the Active Spot. If you allow your opponent to take 3 easy Prize cards, then the game is over. Force them to waste their Custom Catchers and then be unable to Welder because they will be forced to use Green’s Exploration.

Unfortunately, Dark Box does not have a way to search out Reset Stamp, and therefore doesn’t play it, otherwise that would make this matchup very easy.

Malamar/GiraChomp: Even

This matchup is very hard because your opponent essentially has an infinite stream of attackers, and has Spell Tags to negate any healing you did. This matchup is made infinitely better with Darkrai p. Even with a Spell Tag, Giratina LOT cannot KO Darkrai, which means you can Super Scoop Up and heal it, or your opponent will use a TAG TEAM. Either option is equally acceptable. If they use the TAG TEAM, it is vital that you KO it that turn because you will otherwise be unable to deal with it later, because of our lack of Custom Catchers.

Final Thoughts

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this format, and while Malamar, PikaRom, and ReshiZard are all strong decks, they are being overly focused upon by content creators everywhere. This is what led me to share these two less common decks (one more so than the other) today.

From my testing, I’ve observed a few different things about the format:

  1. Single-Prize decks are incredibly mediocre right now because of all the support Pokémon-GX have that non-GXs lack.
  2. Dark Box has access to a number of game-ending GX attacks.
  3. PikaRom is not as great as I had thought it to be. Yes, it’s good, but I do not see myself playing it to Worlds.
  4. Vileplume Stall is gone, which means the Big Basic decks can flourish freely without fear of that terrible matchup. I am actually kind of upset about this one, because it removes an element of skill when it comes to metagaming/deckbuilding for unknown formats. There is not a great Stall deck right now.

Well, that’s all I have for today. I’m certainly very excited to continue testing this format. I’ll be back next week to bring you my third and final article for the month of July.

As always, feel free to message me with any questions that you might have about anything related to Pokémon. I also now offer coaching! Either email me ( or PM me if interested.

Until the next one.

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