Hello readers, my name is Michael Catron and this is my first article for Some1sPC. With the release of Team Up growing closer and Australian Intercontinentals right around the corner, the standard meta is in a very awkward spot. Pre-Team Up we saw a meta dominated by Malamar and Zoroark/Decidueye, but I don’t think these decks necessarily have the tools to handle the new Tag Team Pokemon.
Magikarp/Wailord Tag Team was the first legal Tag Team and was able to see play at the Dallas Regional Championships a few weeks ago. We saw Magikarp/Wailord absolutely dominate Dallas, which peaked my interest in trying out some of the other Tag Teams that will be released in Team Up. Specifically Zekrom/Pikachu Tag Team.
Zekrom/Pikachu has a lot going for it as a card in general. Its Lightning typing gives it access to cards such as Electropower, which will allow for some huge one hit KOs, it also has access to Thunder Mountain Prism Star and Zeraora GX, which allow the deck to have a very smooth flow and be able to stream attackers very easily.
Zekrom/Pikachu’s attack costs 3 Lightning energy, which might seem hard to set up in a timely manner, but with Thunder Mountain Prism Star, Tapu Koko Prism Star, Energy Switch and Lisia you should be up and attacking on turn two. Once you have your first Zekrom/Pikachu attacking, you are going to want to use its attack to power up a benched Zekrom so you have multiple attackers ready to go. Your game plan in most matchups is to KO 3 GX Pokemon using Zekroms to power each other up and eventually use your GX attack to KO their active and hopefully a Tapu Lele GX they benched earlier in the game.
Here is the list I have been working with:
3 Pikachu/Zekrom GX
Pikachu/Zekrom is the main attacker of the deck and although you really only need 2 during a game, you want the third in case one happens to be prized. It is also nice to have the extra to increase the odds of starting one of your Zekrom.
2 Zeraora GX
This card is mostly for the ability but is still very important to the deck functioning as intended. We play a second so it is less likely to be prized. The ability on Zeraora allows any Pokemon on your board with a Lightning energy attached to retreat for free. This is key for getting a turn 2 attack with your Pikachu/Zekrom if you don’t start it. If you don’t start a Pikachu/Zekrom, you will have to attach to your active and retreat using Zeraora’s ability, you can then use Energy Switch to move the Energy to a Pikachu/Zekrom and attack.
Zebstrika gives the deck an extra level of draw that it really needs to that last Electropower or Energy you need to pull off a huge attack. Zebstrika is a great fit for the deck because there aren’t many cards you need to save, so being able to thin your deck in preparation for a late-game Let Loose or Judge really smooths out the deck.
Tapu Koko *
This is another card being released in the Team Up set. Tapu Koko Prism Star is almost exclusively in the deck to help get a turn 2 attack with Pikachu/Zekrom. Other than helping get a turn 2 attack, Tapu Koko isn’t that important because its attack is quite lackluster and you don’t really need to accelerate Energy once you’ve started attacking.
Ditto* and Alolan Muk
Alolan Muk and Ditto Prism Star have become a pretty common pair in decks and they happen to be pretty good in this deck too. Alolan Muk is in the deck to help with the Malamar matchup being able to shut off Marshadow GX’s “Shadow Hunt” ability and make it completely useless, giving Pikachu/Zekrom a huge advantage in the matchup. Ditto* is mostly here to act as a Grimer so you can evolve into Alolan Muk, but in the matchups where you don’t want to use Alolan Muk, it can also function as a second Blitzle that is searchable when using Lisia.
2 Tapu Lele GX
To round out the Pokemon, I’m running 2 Tapu Lele GX for the Wonder Tag Ability to help smooth out the draw and find a key Guzma or Lisia on an important turn. Tapu Lele can also be a great attacker for the deck. Using Pikachu/Zekrom to power up a Lele is a huge threat for a lot of the current meta decks.
1 Erika’s Hospitality
This deck is using a pretty basic draw engine. Lillie and Cynthia are the best draw supporters in the game currently, and drawing cards is pretty important for this deck so I run four of each. Erika’s is a new draw Supporter being released in Team Up and I feel it fits the deck pretty well. The drawback from Erika is that it relies on your opponent having a big board and you having a small hand, so it’s not the most consistent form of draw which is why I chose to only play 1.
This might seem a bit strange, considering most aggressive decks like Pikachu/Zekrom want to play 4 Guzma so they can take their prizes as fast as possible. But Pikachu/Zekrom hits so hard, it’s ok to run 3 because you are likely able to KO your opponent’s active the majority of the time. Pikachu/Zekrom’s GX attack also does 170 damage to a benched Pokemon, so you don’t always need a Guzma to knockout a specific Pokemon. 3 Guzma has felt just right throughout testing and a 4th would likely just clunk your deck and potentially cause you to whiff your turn 2 attack.
Lisia is a Supporter that doesn’t see play very often because most decks don’t run enough Prism Stars to use the card effectively. But this deck does. Lisia is a great card for this deck. It can get you a Ditto and Tapu Koko to set up for your turn 2 attack. Lisia has so many options in this deck, it really helps grab whatever you need at nearly any time.
4 Ultra Ball
Pretty standard inclusion for any deck. Ultra Ball lets you set up while also thinning your hand for a Lillie or Erikas. Overall, a great card that also allows you to set up to use your Tapu Koko Prism Star.
Electropower is the card that really pushes this deck to the next level. Being able to get Pikachu/Zekrom’s attack up to the 210 damage mark is huge and was the main reason I even started testing this deck. Electropower lets Pikachu/Zekrom hit the big KOs that it couldn’t quite hit before, with Electropower, you can KO things like Zoroark GX, Buzzwole GX and even a Decidueye GX.
3 Energy Switch
Energy Switch was an idea brought up by my friend, Isaiah Bradner, and it has been absolutely amazing. The idea is that Energy Switch lets you retreat your starting Pokemon and use Energy Switch to get the energy onto Pikachu/Zekrom and use a turn 2 attack. Not only is Energy Switch great for getting a turn 2 attack, but it can also allow you to get a GX attack out of nowhere to close out a game.
3 Acro Bike
Acro Bike is a pretty basic consistency card. As I stated previously, there aren’t too many cards you care about discarding in this deck, so the extra draw to help find Electropowers and Energy is a perfect fit.
2 Choice Band
With the inclusion of Electropower, Choice Band isn’t as important here as it is for some other decks, but is still a great boost to let Pikachu/Zekrom close out some KOs. In combination with Electropower, 2 felt like the perfect count for this deck.
2 Nest Ball
Nest Ball is another search card to help you set up during the early turns and get your Pikachu/Zekrom rolling. Overall, Nest Ball is a great consistency boost for the deck, since the majority of your Pokemon are basics.
2 Max Potion
Since Pikachu/Zekrom is a Tag Team Pokemon and gives up 3 prizes, having one get KOed is pretty bad. Max Potion provides a great way to keep your Pikachu/Zekroms going and keep your opponent from winning the game. The downside of having to discard all your Energy isn’t a big deal, either, because you can just attach them again using another Pikachu/Zekrom. Specifically, Max Potion is great versus single prize decks, because it stops your opponent from stacking damage on a Pikachu/Zekrom and eventually knocking it out. This is a deck all about winning the prize trade, so any way you can gain an advantage in doing so, you take it.
Energy Recycle System and Rescue Stretcher
These are the recovery cards of the deck. They won’t be used every game, but I feel they are needed for the deck to run as consistently as possible.
Thunder Mountain Prism Star
This card is ridiculous. I have no idea why it was even printed. Being able to use Pikachu/Zekrom’s attack for two energy and its GX attack for only 5 is insane. This card is very powerful and brings the deck to another level.
12 Lightning Energy
This should be pretty standard. The whole deck revolves around attaching Lightning so I felt 12 was a solid number.
Machoke is good tech if you expect Decidueye or spread decks. Machoke is great for negating a lot of their damage so you can win the prize trade. Other than those matchups, Machoke is pretty useless but is very helpful in the right meta.
Mr. Mime is a great tech for a meta with a lot of stall or even Zoroark decks. Negating the option of Acerola makes all these matchups a near auto-win. Although I don’t think Mr. Mime is a great tech if you are going into the event without a firm understanding of the meta.
Zapdos is a card I’ve considered including in the deck. It’s a single prize attacker that can attack for 1 Energy and deal a lot of damage. It’s pretty good in the Buzzwole match due to its Fighting Resistance. It is also great vs any deck like Granbull that relies on their prize trade to win games.
Xurkitree GX is good for a meta with Buzzwole/Shrine decks or Zoroark decks that only use Special Energy. Including a Xurkitree GX in the deck can single-handedly win you multiple rounds in the right meta. Xurkitree is a pretty solid tech for a new meta, as nobody will be expecting it, so it can likely get you a lot of free wins.
Lugia GX is a card used specifically for the Buzzwole matchup. This card is a tank, it has 190 HP and Fighting Resistance, with a Choice Band, it can hit 190 and take a big KO on an opposing Buzzwole GX. If I were going to the Australian Intercontinental, I would heavily consider adding a Lugia to my list because we’ve seen Buzzwole consistently perform in new formats.
The idea of Pikachu/Zekrom is to be a fast, hard hitting, 1 shot deck. With the ability to consistently attack on turn 2 and stream attackers from that point forward, games with Pikachu/Zekrom should last maybe 5-7 turns, as your goal is to end the game fast. Usually, you get a turn 2 attack and load up a benched Pikachu/Zekrom, then from there, find a way to weave in your GX attack and close out the game.
Against a single prize deck, the game will last a bit longer. But that’s why I play Max Potion. Pikachu/Zekrom has so much HP, it’s hard for most single prize Pokemon to take a knock out on it, so Max Potion is a great tool to keep the prize trade in your favor.
Now for the matchups
This is pretty close matchup in general but I feel Pikachu/Zekrom has a slight edge in the matchup. As Pikachu/Zekrom, your goal is to get a turn 2 attack as usual, but you also want to set up your Alolan Muk, so your opponent can’t use their Marshadow GX to take easy knockouts. From there, you are going to want to stream KOs and deny your opponent the opportunity to KO your Pikachu/Zekroms. Pikachu/Zekrom’s GX attack is great in this matchup. It can be an easy closer or it can function as a stabilizer to take out 2 Malamars in 1 attack, setting your opponent very far behind.
This matchup feels extremely favorable for Pikachu/Zekrom as the Zoroark cannot efficiently trade with the Pikachu/Zekroms. Electropower makes it very easy for Pikachu/Zekrom to hit the 210 mark and take some big 1 shots on Zoroarks or even hit 240 and one shot a Decidueye. Even if you whiff a one-shot, Zoroark just doesn’t have a great response when you retreat and Max Potion the Pikachu/Zekrom they just attacked into. Without a good way to take knockouts on Pikachu/Zekroms, Zoroark/Decidueye really doesn’t stand a chance in the matchup.
This is by far the deck’s best matchup. They have no way to deal consistent damage and you take a KO every turn, along with a GX attack that can easily swing the prize trade. Zapdos does such a small amount of damage and Pikachu/Zekrom has too much health for them to handle. Things can get a bit sticky if they have a strong turn with Jolteon’s GX attack, but you usually respond with a Guzma on one of their support Pokemon.
This matchup is pretty dependant on how the Zoroark list is built, but with the addition of Counter Gain and baby Buzzwole, it is pretty hard for Pikachu/Zekrom to handle.
The matchup usually plays out in favor of the Zoroark deck taking 2 knockouts with Dangerous Rogue and Sledgehammer, but there are a couple things you can do to try and avoid this. Firstly you can take an early prize on a non-GX Basic Pokemon, then take a KO on a GX to avoid your opponent’s Sledgehammer turn and hope to close out the game with a big GX attack. Another way you can play the matchup is to attack into a GX so that it isn’t knocked out and go straight for a big GX attack to skip directly down to 2 prizes, avoid the Sledgehammer turn, and only need to KO one more Pokemon. That being said, it is pretty hard for these either of those options to happen in a timely manner, so the Zoroark player usually comes out on top.
Wailord is a deck that tries to take a big swing turn using their GX attack, but that option is not there against Pikachu/Zekrom because it does not fill its bench with low HP Pokemon. While neither player can one shot each other, Pikachu/Zekrom is a much faster and more sustainable deck. Often in this matchup, I find my self targeting down my opponent’s Quagsires so they will have a harder time getting off their bigger attacks. You can also use your GX attack as a way to stunt your opponent’s setup by taking out 2 of their support Pokemon at once. Since Pikachu/Zekrom is so much faster at attacking than Wailord, this matchup feels extremely favorable.
Buzzwole GX/Alolan Ninetales GX 30/70
Pikachu/Zekrom’s Fighting Weakness makes this matchup extremely hard to deal with. With a combination of Sledgehammer and Beast Ring it’s really hard for Pikachu/Zekrom to keep up. The best way to approach the matchup is to hope your opponent benches a Tapu Lele GX, then go for a complete skip on Beast Ring and Sledgehammer by using your GX attack. If you can’t get off the skip, it’s really hard to keep up with a baby Buzz that can use Swing Around to take easy KOs on your Pikachu/Zekroms. Now if this is a matchup you expect to see a decent bit, you can tech in a Lugia GX, which is a great counter to Buzzwole because it can hit for 190 damage with a Choice Band and it has Fighting Resistance.
This matchup depends a bit on what version of spread your opponent is playing, but it feels pretty even for the most part. Your strategy remains the same in this matchup, just try and attack on turn 2 and keep on the pressure. Things to note are spread can play Larvitar which is what makes the matchup close. 1 Flying Flip with a tick from Shrine of Punishment, and Larvitar is hitting for a ton of damage. There’s no real way to avoid this other than using Max Potion on a Pikachu/Zekrom with 30 damage, but that usually isn’t correct and you just have to hope you can get too far ahead for them to come back. This is also a matchup where a tech Xurkitree GX would make it 100/0 because they play no basic energy.
This matchup can honestly go either way and depends on how many Beast Rings your opponent uses and how fast they set up. Usually, you don’t have the opportunity to skip Beast Ring in this matchup because of how aggressive Blacephalon is. Your goal is to just find your prizes as fast as possible and give them as little time to set up as possible. A GX attack to kill 2 Naganadel can be extremely good if your opponent is low on energy in play. If the Blacephalon whiffs a KO, it will usually swing into the Pikachu/Zekrom’s favor, but that doesn’t always happen. If the opportunity to skip Beast Ring is there, you should take it because if they cant use beast ring they can’t keep up with your fast-paced game plan.
This matchup is super easy for Pikachu/Zekrom. While Buzzwole can hit for a decent amount of damage, your goal is to use a clean Pikachu/Zekrom for the first knock out, then use your GX attack to skip Sledgehammer. After that the matchup is pretty simple. Minimize your items so Trashalanche doesn’t get out of hand and use Max Potion so your Pikachu/Zekroms don’t get knocked out. Another thing to mention is this is another matchup where a Xurkitree GX might just shut your opponent out of the game depending on their list.
Lost March 50/50
This matchup depends on how fast the Lost March player can load Pokemon into their Lost Zone. It also depends on whether the Lost March player plays Choice Band. If they don’t play Choice Band, I think the matchup is 60/40 in Pikachu/Zekrom’s favor, but if they do, it’s slightly negative for Pikachu/Zekrom. From Pikachu/Zekrom’s side, the matchup is super straightforward. Attack on turn 2 and keep attacking until your GX attack wins you the game. You can also actually attack with your Zebstrika in this matchup, as it’s easy to power up and one shot all their attackers which give you a nice prize swing.
Tool Drop 35/65
This matchup is super hit or miss because Tool Drop is a single prize deck that can one-shot your Pikachu/Zekrom, but it’s also very inconsistent and plays GX Pokemon. If the Tool Drop player draws well, it’s pretty hard to win has Pikachu/Zekrom plays no form of tool removal and they can easily take a one-shot on your Pikachu/Zekrom. Your game plan for this matchup is to be as aggressive as possible and try to force your opponent into awkward situations. If you can knock out a Genesect GX with your GX attack and knock out their attacking Doublade, it will often put your opponent into a situation where they can’t get a return knock out on your Pikachu/Zekrom.
This matchup is pretty rough. You don’t have a great way to knock out Gardevoir and the bigger pokemon on their board other than Pikachu/Zekrom’s GX attack. Naturally, your game plan is to rush them down try to steal some prizes on their Basics. Hopefully they are forced to bench a Tapu Lele GX so you can use your GX attack to snipe it. In this matchup, don’t be afraid to use your GX attack for it’s base 200 and a damage buff to knock out a Gardevoir because the snipe isn’t as relevant here. Max Potion is going to be key in this matchup because it is fairly unlikely a Gardevoir is able one-shot your Pikachu/Zekrom unless they found their Super Boost Energy.
In conclusion, if i were attending the Australian Intercontinentals or Collinsville Regional Championships, Pikachu/Zekrom would be my top pick for a deck, with an all-around great matchup spread and ability to tech for some of the shaky matchups. Although Pikachu/Zekrom is a superlinear deck, it does have a lot of micro decisions that can make the difference in a game and an optimal list, I believe could take any player to a great performance.