Hello everyone, this is Franco again. Many of you guys might already know about the recent major event that happened in Japan called the Niigata Champions League, which I believe many of you guys have already seen the decklists for some of the decks that did well at the event. However, despite that, Niigata Champions League didn’t have all of the Tag Team cards. There were many significant cards that affected the meta that will be in our Tag Team set. Then, after the Niigata Champions League, they had their City League tournament that had Tag Team GX Pokemon available, which I thought could be a nice reference and could be used as a meta forecast once the Tag Team set is released. So in this article, I’ve decided to write about how the meta changed from before the Niigata Champions League until their first City League with Tag Team GX to see how their meta has recently developed and changed, so, let’s get into it.
What is Champions League?
Champions League is one of Japan’s largest events next to Nationals; It is the same equivalent to our Regional Championships. However, since Japan is under the umbrella of The Pokemon Company (TPC) and not The Pokemon Company International (TPCI), Japan has their own tournaments and Championship Point Structures that changes every season. As a result, despite that the Champions League are the equivalent of Regionals, the tournaments are run differently, the championship point distributions are different, and the championship points earned in Japan are only valid for the Japanese invite structure only. The average attendance for the Champions League in 2018-2019 season has been roughly in the 1200’s for the Master Division players; However, we cannot forget that generally a large event like this usually hits its venue/registration cap. Therefore, if Japan had a larger cap or no cap, the attendance of these events can double, if not more. Particularly unlike the other Champions League, the Niigata Champions League also was hosting an Expanded Format Champions League at same time along with the Standard event with an attendance of 153 players, mainly because most of the players that recently started to get into PTCG from Japan’s PTCG bubble/boom started from Sun & Moon format, plus the majority of events in Japan are generally run as Standard Format, so I think that was the main reason for the attendance split between the Standard and Expanded Champions League Events.
The tournaments have 10 rounds of Swiss Pairings, and the entire tournament matches are best of 1 with the time limit of 25 minutes, and there are no ties during Swiss matches, so if the game becomes uncompleted both players will receive a loss for the match. If you lose 3 times, you’ll be automatically dropped from the event. Therefore, players are required to play at a pace to finish the game on time. In fact, for this Niigata Champions League, there was a featured match on stream where it was Alolan Exeggutor VS a Vaporeon/Glaceon/Naganadel deck and the Exeggutor player was about to take all remaining prizes, but time was called and the game was not able to finish on time, so, both players lost the match. I think the reason why Japan has all of these best of 1 and 25-minute rules is to finish the event at a reasonable hour since the event itself is a single day event and they have thousands of people at the venue, so I think those are the reasons behind for the rules. Once the 10 rounds are over, the top 16 players will be able to move on to top cut. Of course, the top cut will also be 25 minutes best of 1 as well. So players need to understand those rules and build decks based on that as well. The fact that ties lead to both players losing the match makes a significant impact on the presence of control decks, making players not want to play those since many players did not feel confident they could complete the match on time with that style of deck. Therefore, control decks weren’t something that came across the mind of the Japanese players. This factor is what made control decks a very high-risk deck to play, which also involves in the meta-prediction for your own deck selection as well of course.
The Meta Prior to Niigata:
Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX
The good old traditional archetype we have seen for a long time remained strong going into Niigata as well. Mainly due to the fact that the Zoroark decks have the ability to adapt itself to the meta by adjusting in different ways, such as teching cards like Naganadel, Weavile, Alolan Muk, and tool cards like Bodybuilding Dumbbells, for example. Despite that it has a few bad matchups, the deck was still one of the most consistent decks due to its reputation of consistency.
Blacephalon was actually one of the decks that took a step backward before Niigata with the release of Zapdos, Granbull and other non-GX decks floating around during City League. It was of the decIs that was seeing in play and getting some results in some areas, but in others, it wasn’t as heavily played either. Nonetheless, most players know the strength of Blacephalon and with the right matchups, the deck is super good, therefore, despite that, it wasn’t heavily played at one point, many players knew that Blacephalon was the safe play for many players under the right conditions.
Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX/Alolan Ninetales GX
Whenever there are Zoroark decks floating around, usually there are Buzzwoles floating around in the meta too. Despite that there were many changes with the release of Dark Order; the deck was able to win in Japan’s Elite 4 tournament going undefeated. Its attack Jet Punch is still one of the best attacks in the game and it has perfect synergy with Lycanroc as well, and with the addition of Alolan Ninetales, the deck has a better chance to be able to hit the item cards you need at the right time, such as Beast Ring, consistently. Of course, Alolan Ninetales itself is a good alternative attacker as well since it is an attacker that is weak to metal, along with attacks like Snowy Wind that deals 30 damage to the bench that can add up with the Jet Punch damage from early turns, and its GX attack is an automatic knockout to Ultra Beasts, so the deck was working wonderfully despite having few bad matchups against some GX decks. But of course, many of the non-GX decks generally had a tough time against Zoroark Variants so as a result, Buzzwole became a decent option as well, along with the fact that it also had a decent matchup against Zeraora decks. Therefore, Buzzwole was a deck that remained a spot in the prior to Niigata.
Since Giratina/Malamar won the Tokyo Champions League, you see more of the Malamar deck with Spell Tags over than the Escape Board version. But the Escape Board version with various GX pokemon is still fairly played as well. However, despite the deck having a good matchup against Buzzwoles and Blacephalons in general, Zoroark is still a popular archetype and therefore Malamar was a deck that took a step back in the Meta.
I’d say Passimian was one of the underrated decks in the meta. It had a good place in the meta where it has a good matchup against Zoroark in general and the fact that it is a non-GX deck, it was able to take the prize trade in your favor against the GX decks. In addition to that, with the inclusion of Jirachi from Dark Order, consistency was boosted as well. As a result, It wasn’t one of the most heavily played deck before Niigata, but the deck was actually able to achieve notable results during the first quarter of City League in Japan. Despite that, Jirachi helped its consistency. There are times where you can still whiff crucial key cards even with Jirachi, so that was something that players took in consideration prior to Niigata.
Zapdos/Jirachi (Ultra Beast Version)
This archetype made its debut at the Elite 4 tournament and the City League that happened on the same day piloted by Team Torchic players such as Yoneda Takuya and Sasaki Sho. The deck’s strategy is quite simple, where you utilize Zapdos as your main attacker to take your prize trade in your favor, while you have other Ultra Beast techs like Buzzwole and Nihilego to help the job little better since Sledgehammer is always a strong attack when your opponent is at 4 prizes and Nihilego can help setup the knockout and disrupt your opponent along with the choice to copy any of their attack for 1 energy if your opponent has 2 prizes remaining. Despite that the deck only plays single energy attackers, the deck ran 10 energies on average and it still has the chance to either dead draw or whiff a key card when you need, similar to decks like Passimian. Therefore, the deck had Magcargo and Jirachi to boost its consistency significantly since Magcargo allows you to get any trainer card like Guzma or Escape Rope on top of the deck so with Jirachi’s ability it’ll allow you to get a guarantee trainer card of your choice every turn, making Zapdos a strong attacker regardless of its retreat cost. All that being said, the Ultra Beast version of Zapdos Jirachi didn’t win the Elite 4 tournament (due to a dead draw), but, Takuya Yoneda was able to win the City League the same day proving the deck’s strength. But also since the deck had a very unique build/appearance then the list was eventually posted publicly, many other players began to try the deck out and came to learn of the deck’s strength. This eventually made the deck officially in the radar for the Niigata meta.
Zapdos/Jirachi (Pure Lightning Version)
Unlike the Ultra Beast Version, this version was a deck that slowly formed its own shape ever since Dark Order was released. The Lightning archetype was already in development ever since Zeraora GX and Electripower were introduced. At first, many players were trying with Zeraora GX as the main attacker and using cards like Raikou SHL and Raikou from CLS as backup attackers. Eventually, with the release of Dark Order, Zapdos became a nice tech attacker in the deck since it can swing for 1 energy for the momentum and Tapu Koko Prism Star was another huge addition into the deck, giving that extra push the deck needed sometimes for the energy attachments. However, with the appearance of the Ultra Beast Zapdos Jirachi version, the deck took a different direction and started to adopt the heavier Zapdos line and Jirachi in the deck, becoming more similar to the Ultra Beast version. The main difference from the Ultra Beast Version is that of course the deck doesn’t play attackers like Buzzwole or Nihilego, but it’s more purely focused on cards like Tapu Koko GX, Tapu Koko Prism Star, and Jolteon GX which eventually joined the deck when the starter deck was released. Due to its consistency, flexibility of attacks, and its advantage on prize trade and resource cost, this deck also started to show a lot of noticeable results at various tournaments across the nation which led to it becoming the Best Deck In Format to play going into Niigata. It was on everyone’s radar to be expected, but it was hard to come up with a deck that can beat Zapdos consistently while countering other decks as well.
Glaceon GX/Vaporeon GX
Vaporeon GX was also another deck that got onto the radar last minute. The deck plays a heavy amount of healing cards and tools like Bodybuilding Dumbbells to increase the HP of either Vaporeon GX or Glaceon GX since they are the main attacker. In addition to the tools, Vaporeon GX has the ability Hydrating Drop, which allows you to heal your active water type pokemon by 30 damage and they will stack if you have multiple Vaporeon GXs. As a result, you can make a scenario where you can make your attackers take 2 or 3 hits to KO, which can take you to a better prize trade and since popular decks like Zapdos only does 80 base damage max from Assault Thunder, most likely it’ll run out of steam at one point where the Zapdos can no longer one shot nor do significant damage since it’ll all get healed off. As for energy support for the deck, you have cards like Aqua Patch and Naganadel with Quagsire to help them get the energy stream constantly. Since the starter decks came out right before Niigata, this deck made its debut at none official tournaments and made results on those tournaments really quick, but mainly the fact that it had a nice advantage to decks like Zapdos made it appealing for many players to consider as an option for Niigata. However, the deck has some flaws. Where it is still a setup deck, you have to be able to survive the pressure and disruption you get from your opponent such as taking down the Naganadels or Quagsire from Guzma or apply damage that it’ll be a two shot with the healing included in the math and etc. Another factor was basically that the card didn’t have much time since its release, therefore not many players had enough time to come up with the ideal list that would feel comfortable to play 10 rounds in Niigata. Nonetheless, despite those factors, there were several players that end up playing Vaporeon in Niigata however none of them seemed to be able to make to the top 64 in the end.
Granbull was one of the decks that made a strong appearance in Tokyo Champions League, then proceeded to show its strength at events like LAIC and different Regionals and cups across the globe. In Japan, it had mostly the same kind of results. Despite that success, it also had a tough time facing against cards like Alolan Muk which many decks teched in Blacephalon, Zoroark, and Buzzwole. Along with those factors, the deck is very mentally tiring and it requires a lot of time and resource management skills to be able to perform well throughout a tournament. It also struggles against a good Zapdos player as well, so those were some of the reasons that Granbull was a presence at Niigata, but not so heavily.
Post Niigata Champions League:
Now that Niigata Champions League has come to an end, there were some minor surprises but many of the expected decks performed as well. In the end, Niigata Champions League was won by a ZoroRoc deck with Weavile and Alolan Muk. The deck that ended up losing on prizes in sudden death in the finals was Malamar/Ultra Necrozma with Giratina and Energy Spinners. Of course, as expected, many Zapdos/Jirachi decks were able to make it into the top 64, but mainly the pure Lightning version was what did well. What’s interesting about the Zapdos decks was that a good amount of them was a split of whether they ran Jolteon GX or simply opted to not play Jolteon GX in their deck. But in the end, there were more Zapdos with Jolteon GX that made into the top 16 cut than the ones that didn’t have Jolteon GX. Another surprise of the event was the return of Rayquaza GX decks. Despite that Blacephalon was one of the popular GX heavy hitter deck. Many players end up choosing to play Rayquaza due to the fact that it has good recovery and proved that it can also put up a fight against decks like Blacephalon and Zoroark decks since Rayquaza can swing fairly fast with a high damage, and the addition of cards like Tapu Koko Prism Star and Shaymin Prism Star definitely helped the deck to be able to hit those knockout numbers and energy stream for the follow up attacker better. And for the record, the VikaRay player that finished in Top 4 was able to dodge all the Zapdos decks to go 10-0 on his Swiss games. But of course, the biggest surprise of the event was the famous Greninja GX/Meganium deck was able to make top 16 and top 32 which it was piloted by 2018 World Champion, Shintaro Ito and his best friend Atsutoshi. Overall the tournament seemed to end in a way where the expected top tier did well, but at the same time, there were few archetypes that was able to earn a surprise appearance in top 16 as well. Now, I would like to quickly go through some of the cool features from decks that did well in the Niigata Champions League.
The Winning ZoroRoc:
The base of this deck is actually quite straightforward where the deck doesn’t have a drastically fancy tech; however, the deck is actually built in a consistent way where it plays a copy of Nanu which it allows you to replace one of your pokemon in play for a Dark-type basic pokemon from the discard pile. I find this card to be very good since you can now use Nanu to replace your bench Tapu Lele for Pokemon like Zorua, Sneasel, or Alolan Grimer and since Nanu carries over turns in play, this allows you to instantly evolve into Alolan Muk or Weavile the moment you play Nanu, if the pokemon was already in play for a turn. This is good in terms of consistency and the fact that you’re bringing the basic pokemon back also means that you can recycle your stage 1 attacker with 1 rescue stretcher as well by picking back the evolution into your hand. So despite that he plays only 1 Weavile in the deck, Nanu helps you to potentially get a 2nd Weavile easier and also helps you to setup the Weavile even if the basic pokemon was knocked out by cards like Guzma. Another cool feature of the deck was that it played Marshadow and 2 Judge in the deck, this isn’t something too fancy but a heavy count of cards that shuffle your opponent’s hand into a lower hand size have been always a good thing to see if your opponent can dead draw or disrupt their winning strategy. Aside from that, the supporter distribution is little unique, but not so weird either, where it plays the Apricorn Maker with Ultra, Timer, and Great Balls and it also plays 4 Lillie for the higher odds to have Lillie turn 1 without having to drop Tapu Lele GX unless it is needed. Also, since the deck tends to have a lot of items that burns your hand really quick on early games, Lillie also becomes a handy card that’ll let you draw a significant amount of cards, especially early game during the setup phase. I think this deck had an interesting build and it showed the world that it was able to win the Champions League.
2nd Place Ultra Necrozma Malamar
Another familiar archetype was able to get 2nd place in Niigata. The deck itself is pretty much like a traditional Malamar deck we know that contains cards like Escape Board, and Dawn Wings Necrozma. But in this deck, there were a few major key cards that helped its consistency significantly that gives you a better start, even if you start the game going second. One of these inclusions in the deck is Jirachi. Since the deck requires quite a bit of setup the early game and sometimes you can run yourself into a no supporter hand, Jirachi can help you improve your outs from dead draw or hitting key cards easier. However, I think the major inclusion and the interesting part of the deck were the 4 Energy Spinner. The main reason Energy Spinner was an excellent card in Ultra Necrozma is because it allows you to search for up to 3 basic energies if you use it on your first turn going second, which means that you can search for the metal energy for the Ultra Necrozma easier and at same time be able to search for the psychic energies to discard them early in the game which will feed the Malamar’s Psychic Recharge ability quickly and it is also thinning your deck which is nice and this allows you to be able to setup better to apply pressure to your opponent quicker, even if you start going second. Yet, even if you do not utilize its full effect on your first turn, Energy Spinner is still a useful card in the deck since you can still pinpoint search and hit the metal energy better when you need it and simply running an energy search card is a nice thing because it increases your odds to be able to hit an energy when you need it whether is for discarding purpose or to attach it manually from hand purpose along with the thinning bonus. I thought this Ultra Necrozma list was pretty unique and cool because it was built around consistency and it’s built to be able to setup nicely even if you start second as well, since the deck plays many trainer cards that can have a good synergy with Jirachi and Jirachi can help you to hit the cards you need better like Energy Spinner been one of the cards as example. The Team Rocket card is a Japanese exclusive promo that we are most likely not getting, but it is basically a Judge except both player draws 5 cards instead of 4. Since Ultra Necrozma GX is one of the cards that can hit for high number of damage, let’s see if the deck can make an appearance somewhere once the Tag Team format/meta develops little more in the near future.
I personally would say that the appearance of VikaRay was little surprising because the deck relies on setting up Vikavolt in order to for Rayquaza to be able to attack consistently and currently one of the most popular decks is Zapdos Jirachi where they can easily pick on the Grubbin to knock them out to disrupt the setup. However, the deck generally has quite a few matchups that aren’t negative and the ones that are generally decks that are GX pokemon heavy like Zoroark, Vaporeon, and etc. The addition of Tapu Koko Prism Star definitely helped the deck significantly, allowing you to be able to setup a Rayquaza without having to rely on Vikavolt for a turn which is nice in scenarios where you don’t have Vikavolt setup yet or simply to increase your damage output by 60 in the mid-game. Of course, Shaymin Prism Star is no slouch as well. Despite its low HP, it is still a non-GX attacker that can swing like a truck and it is much faster and easier to use than Dhelmise. In addition to those, I think one of the major cards that helped VikaRay this event was Lysandre Lab and Wonder Labyrinth Prism Star. Lysandre Lab allows you to shut off tools’ effects, which is actually significant for this meta since a lot of decks rely heavily on Jirachi/Escape Board combo. Shutting those effects off could slow them down for a little, plus simply being able to shut off Choice Bands is also effective and it can be clutch sometimes on certain matchups as well. But mainly I think the addition of Wonder Labyrinth Prism Star was one of the cards that were able to help a lot. As long as Wonder Labyrinth sticks out in play, all non-fairy type Pokemon needs to have an extra energy attach in order to attack, and Rayquaza itself is affected by the stadium as well but with Vikavolt on the board, it’s not a major issue for Rayquaza to accelerate to have that extra energy for the attack. However certain deck that does not energy accelerate well can struggle from this effect unless you have an immediate answer to Wonder Labyrinth. In the end, as far as I know, the VikaRay player that managed to make top 4 was miraculously able to dodge all the Zapdos decks during the event since the deck does have a bad matchup against it, but it seemed like it was able to do fairly well on the other matchups judging from the fact that there were other Vikarays that was able to make it to Top 64.
This deck was pretty much the ultimate surprise of the event. It was piloted by Shintaro Ito and his best friend Atsutoshi and both of them were able to make to Top 32 and Top 16. There’s a minor difference on their list due to their personal preferences like Atsutoshi played Porygon Z over Slaking, however, the main concept of the deck is the same. The deck is actually a very straightforward deck where it focuses around on just going through your entire deck so you can loop attack with Greninja GX every turn. Just like Shintaro himself explained about the deck, you pretty much need to focus on how to setup and go through your entire deck rather than focusing on which energy to put on which pokemon when like other decks. Of course, I wouldn’t call this deck a deck that you can just pick up and be able to pilot it perfectly either since you need to understand the deck from the roots and the tempo of its setup. Since there are many resources out there already talking about the deck, I won’t be going into detail of the deck. In case you were wondering about Lookers, the reason why Lookers is in the deck is that you can search the card with Looker Whistle which you can search it with Alolan Ninetales as well. But once you search 2 Lookers with Lookers Whistle, it means that you’ll have a supporter you can play for 2 turns secured and also it is a card that simply lets you draw with no downside to it while keeping a hand size that is bigger than 6. The most important thing about piloting this deck is basically to become very familiar with it and be able to recognize the best way to setup your board each game based on your opening hands and how your opponent could approach you. Once you got a certain board setup such as the Meganiums and Swamperts, then you need to start visualize your prize taking routes and think how you are going to exchange your prizes with your opponents as well such as counting how many turns you’ll have remained in order to take x-amount of prizes while your opponent can take them in x-amount of turns as example. Overall not much to say about the deck, it was one of the surprise deck of the event that caught many players off guard while the players that piloted this deck was some of the best players in the world as well, so I’m not so surprised by the results at Niigata after all.
With the Release of Tag Team GX Pokemon:
Not too after Niigata Champions League finished, Tag Bolt was released in Japan, along with several City Leagues which it would be like a League Cup equivalent but it’s much larger in terms of attendance in some area like Tokyo as the example. Despite that there was a very little time since the release of the set; the Tag Team GX Pokemon were able to show its strength and potentials at the City Leagues. Of course, this is the first major CP involved tournament for Tag Team GX pokemon and the meta is currently still developing and slowly shaping up so things could change from this point on but figured we can take a brief look since Tag Team will be released soon. So let’s take a look at some of the City League results:
1st Place Tapu Koko/Passimian
2nd Ultra Necrozma GX/Malamar
3rd Gardevoir GX/Zoroark GX
Despite that none of the new tag team, GX decks were able to make into the top 3 spots, there were players that played Tag Team GX cards, however many of the players also decided to play with decks that they felt more familiar since this is an important tournament to earn more championship points. In the end, Tapu Koko Passimian deck was able to win the event due to the fact that Passimian is still a strong deck due to its ability to attack for high damage for low cost and it is a non GX deck, therefore it can trade prizes in your favor as well and the Flying Flips from Tapu Koko can end up setup the future knockouts as well. In addition to this, the new hyped Pikachu Zekrom GX has the fighting weakness and currently lightning is a major archetype in Japan, so the win of Passimian isn’t so surprising in the end. The Ultra Necrozma that finished 2nd is pretty much is the same structure as the one that got 2nd place in the Niigata Champions league, the deck is very consistent and Ultra Necrozma can deal enough damage to one shot GXs and tag team GX pokemon as well so the deck was able to show its strength that even with the release of tag team GX pokemon, Ultra Necrozma can shine. Gardevoir GX is a card that many of us are familiar, its attack Infinite Force is one of the best attacks in the game which it has good synergy with the Secret Spring ability, and since many of the tag team GX pokemon requires a lot of energies for the attack which it also gets affected by the Wonder Labyrinth which feeds the damage output for Gardevoir as well. Also, Gardevoir in general plays cards like Acerola or Max Potion which it helps significantly against cards like Zapdos and attackers that can’t one shot Gardevoir which it helps you in the prize trade. Nonetheless, Gardevoir Zoroark is a deck that is very strong once the deck manages to setup but it was an archetype that hasn’t been under the spotlight lately so let’s see whether the deck can continue to sustain at some point of the meta in the future.
1st Rayquaza GX/Vikavolt
2nd Magikarp Wailord GX
3rd Lost March
4th Zoroark GX/Lycanroc GX/Weavile
The ZoroRoc deck that got into Top4 was pretty much the same structure build like the one that won the Niigata Champions League with Weavile and Nanu, which the deck was able to show that ZoroRoc can still put up a fight so far in the new meta. Lost March is, of course, a deck that goes and leaves the scene time to time, but with the release of the new set, Lost March can now utilize Pokemon Communication to setup their board slightly by returning a Jumpluff from hand into the deck to search other Pokemon, and Erika’s Hospitality is another addition into the deck can be used as a drawing power for the deck. Despite that the attackers have a low HP, Lost Marchers can swing for a lot of damage once the Pokemon are in the Lost Zone, so we shall see if Lost March will continue its existence in the new meta as well. Magikarp Wailord GX was able to finish 2nd place becoming one of the first tag team GX decks that made a success in the week of City League. The deck is actually very straight forward where you utilize the typical Naganadel Quagsire engine to accelerate energies then push them the energies to your attackers along with Aqua Patch. With the release of Viridian Forrest, you have a great synergy with Naganadel where you can discard energy to accelerate with Naganadel while you search for another energy from the deck with the stadium’s ability so you can attach it from hand or discard it for something else. Then eventually you can promote a charged up Magikarp Wailord GX that can swing for 180 and if it has Choice Band attached, it can deal 210 damage which you can now knock out a lot of stage 1 GX Pokemon. Its GX attack, Towering Splash GX attack can knockout various low HP pokemon to close the game or it can be utilized to setup for the future knockouts as well. The deck also utilize the new Articuno which it has an ability that protects your water type pokemon from supporter cards like Faba, Guzma as long as Articuno is active, and Articuno also has an attack that swings for 70 damage then moves the energies from Articuno to 1 of your bench Pokemon. Since Quagsire allows you to move the water energies, you can utilize cards like Max Potion to deny from your opponent to take 3 prizes as well which is nice. However, in the end, the winner of the Hiroshima City League turned out to be VikaRay. Based on the report, the deck was able to dodge a lot of its bad or shady matchups and was able to climb up all the way to the finals and since VikaRay can one shot a Magikarp Wailord GX with Shaymin Prism Star for weakness, it wasn’t too difficult for the deck to snag the win since Rayquaza can deal a lot of damage as well once Vikavolt is setup and Tapu Koko Prim Star helps you to setup quick for the attackers so you can start taking prizes quickly as well. Overall the winner of the Hiroshima list was very similar to the VikaRay deck that made Top 4 at the Niigata Champions League as well. So that is how the Hiroshima concluded.
1st Pikachu Zekrom GX
2nd Pikachu Zekrom GX
3rd Celebi Venusaur GX
4th Pikachu Zekrom GX
Unlike the other locations, the capital city Tokyo seemed to be dominated by Pikachu Zekrom GX. Of course the meta varies often times based on the region and it seems like many of the players in the Tokyo area decided to play Pikachu Zekrom GX since Lightning is been a top tier for a while in Japan now and there was no reason to bring it out since it has a really good synergy with Tapu Koko Prism Star to accelerate Pikachu Zekrom really fast and its first attack Full Blitz is a very powerful attack because with Elecpower it can do 180 damage or even 210 damage if it needs to do, and in addition to this it also searches for up to 3 lightning energies from the deck and attaches them to 1 of your benched pokemon, so you can instantly charge up another Pikachu Zekrom GX or something else right away as well. Not to mention that if it has 6 energies attached, Tag Bolt GX can potentially snipe a Tapu Lele GX to close the game as well. The list that won Tokyo City League also played cards like Tapu Koko GX since you can move the energies from Pikachu Zekrom GX to Tapu Koko GX then Acerola it to deny the prize taking and utilize other attackers like Zeraora GX, Raikou, and Zapdos to adjust your knockouts. The deck also plays Aether Paradise Conservation Area to make your lighting type pokemon harder to knockout as well. Overall the deck have many ways to accelerate energies and it can hit like a truck, and the fact that it was able to take 3 out of top 4 spots in Tokyo means that the card is strong and it definitely has the potential to continue its presence in the following meta so we shall see what happens. The other surprising deck that made its debut was Celebi Venusaur GX. The deck is interesting archetype is actually starting to see more in play in Japan ever since the Tokyo City League and it is currently gaining popularity slowly. The deck consists of a lot of healing cards like Shaymin, Potion, Life Forest Prism Star to heal your Celebi Venusaur GX since it has 270 HP. In addition to that, it also contains cards like Crushing Hammers and Enhanced Hammer to slow down your opponent, so the deck pretty much works like a control deck where you make your Celebi Venusaur GX difficult to knockout like a tank then you disrupt your opponent in different ways whether by energy denial, constant Judge, or with Special Conditions since its attack Pollen Hazard only deals 50 damage but you can make the defending Pokemon poisoned, burned, and confused so this is very annoying for your opponent since confusion is annoying and burn + poison damage sets up the knockout for the following turn as well so the deck seem to be quite strong despite that it lost in Top 4 to Pikachu Zekrom GX deck. Generally many of the well-known players that compete at worlds consistently are from the Tokyo area so I personally think that it was a good meta forecast since many of the players decided to play the new tag team GX decks and was able to succeed with them so.
So that’s basically how the meta has shifted in the last few months in Japan. Granted with the release of Tag Team GX just recently happening, the meta is still in the developing phase but based on the references we were able to see from their events so far, is that of course many of the already existing archetype is showing its strength that they can keep up with the new cards but the new Tag Team GX pokemons have also shown its strength on places like Tokyo and Hiroshima where it can be a very strong deck that can mark its place in the meta if it’s built right. Also despite that the new GXs came out, we were able to see that many of the decks that did well during the Niigta Champions League was able to do well under the new cards also even though we can’t forget the fact that many players decided to play with a deck that they already feel more comfortable rather than piloting a brand new archetype as well. It was also interesting to see how the meta was before the Niigata Champions League to see the spot on many of the known archetypes going into Niigata then how the meta shifted little more with the reappearance of Rayquaza decks and a slight decrease of decks like Granbull and Blacephalon. Also prior to Niigata, Zapdos Jirachi was one of the best deck in the format and it showed its success during the Niigata Champions League as well, but with the release of bulky Tag Team GX Pokemon, it seems like the deck is little struggling to knockout those big pokemon, but nonetheless the deck is a very fast and consistent deck so it is an archetype that is under many people’s radar still. Once the meta becomes more and more concrete, players will begin to study the archetype decks more and new decks are born from there as well so personally, I’m looking forward to see how the meta will shift or not shift in Japan, and if anything interesting could come out from outside of Japan once the Tag Team set is released also. Well, hopefully, this article was an interesting one to read, and hope it provided you a better vision about the Japanese meta a little better. Thank you very much for reading this far and see you guys until next time.