With Team Up being a big set in the way of Standard, it is only natural that it sees some impact in the Expanded metagame as well. With the amount of cards available in this format, it actually makes it hard for a new deck to break out. It has to compete with the likes of Zoroark GX/Garbodor, Archie’s, Rayquaza GX, Vespiquen, and Drampa GX/Garbodor. These decks were not affected by the emergency bannings of Lusamine and Delinquent too much. Saying all of this, Team Up does add some interesting cards to stake a name for itself in Expanded as a whole. In this article, I’ll go over what has been hyped up and whether you truly can believe the hype or not. I’ll also breakdown the Pikachu & Zekrom GX list that I have been testing in preparation for Toronto and Greensboro to better prepare you guys for the supposed best deck in format.

 

I.The New Hype for Expanded
II.Pikachu & Zekrom GX in Expanded
III.Conclusion

 

I.Believe The Hype, Or Leave It Behind?

 

First off, let's take a look at some of the cards from Team Up that are getting some attention from the playerbase:

Latias & Latios GX

This card is being paired with Malamar and Double Dragon energy for a pretty reliable Buster Purge each turn. You have an alternate attacker against single prize Pokemon in Giratina and have the consistency of playing four copies each of Mysterious Treasure and Ultra Ball. While it does rely heavily on Double Dragon Energy and has an inherent weakness to Garbotoxin, I think this deck will be one of the top finishers in the format heading into Regionals. It is consistent and hard hitting with a game plan in place for bad matchups like Vespiquen and Garbodor. Believe It

Gengar & Mimikyu GX

Paired with Vileplume from Ancient Origins, people are using the inherent power of Item lock in conjunction with Horror House GX to limit the playability of the opponent's deck. Using Poltergeist to deal massive amounts of damage depending on what is stuck in your opponent’s hand. Because you are doing damage based around how well your opponent plays their first turn and being weak to Zoroark (one of the cornerstones of Expanded), I don’t think it to be a strong play for the coming metagame. It’s a deck that can go undefeated in a tournament, but that would mean not playing against Zoroark GX or cheesing a way to victory in those matchups. Leave It

Hitmonchan

Who would have thought that this Pokemon of all of them out there would be getting the spotlight? We saw Buzzwole and Lucario GX take spots in the Anaheim Top 8, but Hitmonchan is reminiscent of the old Donphan deck that saw some play using it’s Hit and Run attack to switch into Wobbuffet to shut off opposing abilities like Trade and Deluge, but as a Basic. It has access to damage modifiers like Strong Energy, Diancie Prism, and Muscle Band to help set up two shots and overall prove to be a pain for most decks. It also gets access to Focus Sash, which I believe to be one of the best cards in Expanded that we have seen. The problems plaguing the deck seem to be most problems with Wobbuffet decks, consistency. If someone can solve the problem of not having a form of constant draw then the deck can do well in the expected meta. Believe It

Zapdos

The big bad of the Standard format is trying to stake it’s claim in Expanded. While it is an insane card, as of right now the only hope it has is probably in some type of Shrine of Punishment deck. I think it will be something similar to the popular build in Standard right now with some Expanded additions like Garbotoxin and Muscle Band. It is an inherently powerful card, but when everything is on that level or above in the card pool, there might just be better options. One thing that is going well for Zapdos is it’s resistance to Fighting in a format where a lot of the “counter” decks are focusing on that type. Leave It (For now, but I think with more dedicated testing it can do well)

Jirachi

There is a reason that the card is $23. The amount of consistency that it has added to non-Zoroark GX decks is insane. Now to see if that can translate over to the Expanded format is the real tough decision. Jirachi thrives in a format that has a hard counter in Alolan Muk, but can it overcome Garbotoxin? A card like Jirachi adds a boost of needed consistency to decks not reliant on Zoroark GX. Vespiquen, Night March, and other single prize decks would be able to use this as a way to combat poor early game draws and even a late game N to 1. Jirachi could even find itself in some combo type decks because of its ability to dig 5 cards deeper. A big downside to playing it in Expanded is the thought of having to play Escapee Board over Float Stone, I’m not quite sure if I want to give up that benefit even though Stellar Wish is a pretty stellar ability. Even with all of that,  I think the added consistency it adds to certain decks will make it a breakout card heading into Toronto Regionals. Believe It

Tapu Koko Prism

This will be probably the most played Prism Star card in Team Up. Its utility in decks that play lightning energy is able to give a big push in board advantage. Whether the deck is Rayquaza GX or Pikachu & Zekrom GX, Tapu Koko Prism will shine in its expanded debut. Energy acceleration has always been a valuable mechanic and the fact it is easily searchable and the only real downside is when you prize it, I don’t see why you wouldn’t automatically include it to a deck that plays Lightning Energy. Believe It

Viridian Forest

This stadium has given life to Malamar in Standard and looks to do the same in Expanded. Another useful home for this stadium is actually Archie’s, as it allows you to find that crucial energy late game or allows an easy access to just discard a card when you almost have that turn 1 Archie’s. On the opposite side of things though it is a card that the deck might just not have room for especially considering that they are already tight for space with the inclusion of Silent Lab to get around Mr. Mime and its Bench Barrier. It’s other drawback right now is that there are a ton of options to choose from when looking at stadiums in Expanded, cards like the aforementioned Silent Lab, Tropical Beach, and Parallel City. As Viridian Forest stands, it has the potential, but is ultimately outclassed in my eyes right now. Leave It

Wondrous Labyrinth Prism

Personally, I’m not a fan of using Stadiums that have no immediate impact on the board state, but this one is a little different. The power level of this card in certain matchups can be through the roof; imagine dropping this in play against a Vespiquen deck that went through their stadiums already or in a game against Zoroark where you N them down low and drop the Wondrous Labyrinth. This stadium buys turns for a deck against a good grip of the meta. A drawback is that, unless you are playing Fairy type attackers, it also affects yourself. Still the overall power level of this card is high enough to see some play against the popular archetypes. Believe It

Pikachu & Zekrom GX

Probably the most talked about card going into these couple of Expanded Regionals. Although it is already a pretty fast and efficient deck in Standard, what has been considered the best Tag Team GX to be released so far, it gets a number of old tools to work with. Max Elixir is probably the biggest contributor to the hype and allows it to get a Turn 2 Full Blitz regularly against some matchups. Flash Energy is also coming back from the bulk box with a great answer to the glaring Fighting weakness that Pikachu & Zekrom GX has as it’s downside. To tell the truth, though, this deck is very much a glass cannon. Highly dependent on the decks you face and the different techs they have but as a whole has some favorable matchups across the board. Believe It

 

Pikachu & Zekrom GX in Expanded

With all that being said, here is what my list for Pikachu & Zekrom Tag Team looks like right now:

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