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Darin O'Meara

Shedinja's on, Call That a Life Stream - Shedinja in Worlds Format

Darin goes over his spicy take on Shedinja/Zebstrika lock.

08/12/2019 by Darin O'Meara

What’s up 60cards readers, it’s your resident drum weeb back at it again with another article. Today I’m going to go over the deck I believe beats every deck in the format - Shedinja.

Shedinja has answers to every single counter that is thrown against it. It has near-autowins across the matchup board, with only a single catch I’ll go over at the end. To kick things off, here’s a list:

The Game Plan

Shedinja’s strategy is pretty simple, deny opponents prizes. However, executing that is not easy. Your turn one will almost always look the same, aiming to use Professor Elm’s Lecture to get ideally three Blitzles down, and hopefully a Nincada. Past that, you try and establish as many Zebstrikas as possible to start running through your deck with Sprint and Ingo & Emmet. Start throwing Shedinjas on Orangurus and using Resource Management to grab back whatever you need that you’ve thrown away or whatever you need to react to your opponent’s actions.

The list I’ve included has cut all the tricks and gone for straight consistency. With rotation, Shedinja doesn’t need anything cheeky like it used to. Just using Shedinja is enough to win the game since Field Blower can’t get rid of it anymore and there isn’t a reliable gust effect like Guzma. Most opponents will only be able to guarantee two prizes for themselves throughout the game with the use of Custom Catchers. It is your goal to set up before they take the other four. In some cases, your opponent may get more free prizes through the use of Lysandre Labs or another tech, but if you can execute your strategy this is fine. Here’s a breakdown of the deck card-by-card:

List Breakdown

4x Blitzle, 4x Zebstrika, 1x Ditto*

These are the biggest pieces of the combo for your deck. Whether you hit these early or not will likely decide the game. Most of the time you will want three Blitzle down on turn one, or two and a Ditto. Prioritize getting Zebstrika out, even if it means giving up a prize by forgoing establishing a Shedinja. The deck needs them to function.

4x Nincada, 4x Shedinja

We play a thick 4-4 line of Nincada and Shedinja mostly so you can try and establish one on turn two alongside Blitzles. Since Shedinja can be searched with Professor Elm’s Lecture, it may be wise to go down to three, but for now, playing four is safe. Remember that Shedinja doesn’t have to be on the bench to use Life Stream, so promoting it after a knockout basically gives you a free retreat when you activate it.

3x Oranguru UPR

This card ties the strategy together. Using Shedinja is all fine and good, but Oranguru is the part that breaks the card. Oranguru can constantly loop Shedinja through the use of Resource Management, alongside other disruption pieces or necessary cards. What you grab off of Resource Management will decide games a lot of the time. Try to picture the worst case scenario of what your opponent could have in hand, and act to counter that. Make sure even the weirdest route they could take to win is cut off. Also, make sure you are being cautious of Reset Stamp when you are using Resource Management, as if you’re caught off-guard it can lose you the game instantly. Because of this, you should be putting a Brock’s Grit back almost every time during late game. Also, although this should be pretty obvious, make sure you never have all of your Oranguru and all of your Brock’s Grit in the discard, as you lose the game if that happens. It seems like that wouldn’t happen often, but when your deck relies on discard drawing multiple times per turn, it’s something you need to pay attention to.

1x Latios-GX

This super spicy tech turns two of your autolosses into favorable matchups. The only thing you use it for is its GX attack, Clear Vision GX, which nulls your opponent’s GX attack. This means that Dark Box can no longer rely on Mega Sableye & Tyrantiar-GX’s GX attack to win, and Malamar can’t rely on Ultra Necrozma-GX or Espeon & Deoxys-GX’s GX attack. Without those outs, Dark Box and Malamar have to fight the way the other decks do, through countless no-prize Orangurus. The only problem this card serves is it’s another free prize your opponent gets in addition to their four Custom Catchers, but the card is necessary to winning those matchups and giving up the one prize (you should try and drop a Shedinja on it) is alright in the grand scheme of things.

1x Mew UNB

This is here so PikaRom doesn’t pick up another free prize. They already rush you faster than other decks due to Tapu Koko * and Zapdos, so preventing Tag Bolt GX from being able to take another free prize knockout on the bench helps a lot. I’ve noticed that the PikaRom matchup often comes down to the last one or two prizes, so preventing those from being taken is a game-winning maneuver. Psypower is also good for removing random annoyances with Psypower, like Ninetales in Blowns or tech cards like Farfetch’d TEU or Pachirisu LOT.

1x Marshadow UNB

Bumping Lysandre Labs immediately is an absolute must. Marshadow is here for another out to a Stadium discard, and a Pokemon-searchable one at that. Leaving Lysandre Labs for multiple turns can and will lose you the game, so we want outs to removing it as quickly as possible.

4x Professor Elm’s Lecture, 4x Ingo & Emmet, 4x Pokegear 3.0, 4x Acro Bike

This is your consistency setup, and it’s practically maxed out. I’ve already talked about Elm quite a bit, so I won’t rant about it any more. After you go for your turn one Elm, you want to be able to start digging as soon as possible. Because of this, we run four Ingo & Emmet. A lot of lists I’ve seen run two of these, but I feel like to be as consistent as possible, four is optimal. The top-check on the card is criminally underrated, and allows you to see six cards in your deck even though you only draw five. If you see a crucial piece, like a Zebstrika or way to get one, then you can take it, otherwise leave it.

We play four Pokegear for the same reasons we have four Elm’s and four Ingo & Emmet; consistency. The card just helps you dig further for your ideal turn one and turn two supporters. Same goes for Acro Bike, except it helps you find pieces other than supporters, like Zebstrikas, Shedinjas, or energy. We want this much digging and thinning cards mostly because there isn’t any targeted search for Zebstrika, so seeing as much of your deck as possible to draw into it is necessary.

4x Pokemon Communication

Pokemon Communication is maxed out to find Zebstrika. With 23 Pokemon, you most likely will have a way to use the card. It’s the only search the deck has for finding zebras, so having four of them is crucial. It also lets you put back things you don’t want discarded with Sprint of Ingo & Emmet, which is nice, and can find your other pieces as well.

2x Lt. Surge’s Strategy

Surge is extremely helpful. Not only is it activated for (practically) the entire game, it has a huge amount of uses. If you need to dig further early game, you can use it to Ingo & Emmet twice. Late game, you’ll use it basically every turn to use Brock’s Grit and another Supporter every turn. Getting an extra Supporter every turn is busted broken toxic gas insane.

2x Brock’s Grit

This is one of the main pieces of your end-game loop combo. Every turn you’ll want to Surge into Brock’s Grit to draw back into Shedinja the next turn. In addition, since you put six back every turn, it prevents you from losing to Reset Stamp. There isn’t much to be said about the card outside of this, its main use is for the loop.

1x Mars, 1x Faba, 1x Tate & Liza

These are your tech supporters, and there aren’t many. Usually you’d see these as two ofs, but since they’re not absolutely necessary to win the game most of the time, they were decreased to one since prizing them isn’t the end of the world.

Mars is the main card to speed up your win condition. Once you get the lock, your opponent will try and stall out for a tie by holding their hand and using Cynthia or Tate & Liza once it gets really big to refresh their deck. Using Mars over and over again prevents this from being effective, reducing their hand size over and over so they can’t use this option to buy more time.

Faba is there as an alternative Stadium removal card and a way to get cards off the board for good. Opponents may play things like Oranguru to try and recycle Lysandre Labs, so having a way to permanently remove them is good. Also, Faba is energy denial, which can slow your opponent down in a pinch.

Tate & Liza is mostly here for the switch effect since you don’t have any others. The reason we play this over Switch is since it’s also another consistency card. In a deck where you just need to set up to win, consistency is the end all be all.

1x Pal Pad

Often times you’ll find yourself burning a lot of supporters in the process of running through your deck, so Pal Pad can bring them back if you need to draw into them. In addition, Pal Pad is a great card to Resource Management late game, since you instantly draw whatever you put back with Sprint, making it a double Vs Seeker of sorts. It also lets you choose what supporters to put back after your opponent takes their turn, so you have more information on what to put back instead of just putting Supporters back with Resource Management before your opponent takes their turn.

1x Friend Ball, 1x Net Ball, 1x Mysterious Treasure

This may seem extremely light, but only because there’s already four Pokemon Communication, and these cards (usually) don’t find Zebstrika. Net Ball is here as a free Nincada search whenever the card is drawn, Mysterious Treasure is a way to discard stadiums when combined with Marshadow a Shedinja or clutch Mew search, and Friend Ball can find a multitude of things, including Zebstrika in a lot of games. Due to the popularity of Dedenne-GX, Friend Ball will be able to find Zebstrikas in a lot of games, and I’ve considered adding in a second because of this.

1x Reset Stamp

Stamp is the one card in the deck that’s used to slow your opponent down. Cards like Crushing Hammer or Chip-Chip Ice Axe were cut to max out consistency, but Reset Stamp was kept since it slows down the opponent the most when you need it the most. If the game is going to come down to the wire, and you need to buy time to find the one Shedinja to get the lock, Reset Stamp can buy that time. In addition, Reset Stamp + Mars is pretty good.

2x Sky Pillar

Not only does Sky Pillar bump those pesky Lysandre Labs, it also prevents your opponent from pinging with Mew’s Psypower, taking away yet another win-con.

2x Psychic Energy, 1x Recycle Energy

Psychic energy is our default basic energy of choice only because Latios-GX needs it for its GX attack. As for Recycle Energy, it might as well just be called Oranguru Energy. Every time your Oranguru gets knocked out, it goes right back into your hand for another Oranguru. You’ll find yourself recycling this dozens of times throughout a game; the card is just really good for the deck.

The matchups for Shedinja are pretty much all the same; the deck is mostly solitaire. The only stipulation to that is Dark Box and Malamar, where you want to use Latios-GX’s GX attack, and PikaRom, where you want to make sure you have Mew down.

The Catch

Of course, there’s a catch with this deck, one that’s even more prevalent at Worlds and the Open than at your standard Regionals. At the end of the day, Shedinja has to get Zebstrikas out early or else it will probably lose. The nature of the deck means that one game will last pretty much the entire match. At worlds, you must go X-2 or its equivalent in points to advance. What this means, is that, unless you can go X-0-3, ties are essentially losses. Furthermore, losing game one with Shedinja will usually cement you into either a loss or a tie since the deck takes so long to win a game two. Put all this together, and you see that at Worlds, you are putting the fate of the entire match on game one. With a deck like Shedinja that has to hit Zebstrikas early, if you just brick in game one, or have really bad prizes, there is little to no comeback potential. This makes it a large risk, especially when you factor in the mental toll of playing all 50 minutes each round and sheer difficulty of the deck. This isn’t as much of a factor in the Open, but is still concerning in a tournament format with no Day 2 cut.

Final Thoughts

Shedinja is still one of my top choices for worlds despite this, as if all goes right, it beats everything in the format. All of its counters get answered by something. In addition, people likely aren’t going to include a hard Shedinja tech in their decks, since either they believe their deck already beats Shedinja, they believe they will just out-consistency it, or they think they won’t run into it. I don’t expect much Shedinja to show up due to the nature of the deck, but it’s definitely a threat. There have been talks of people including Farfetch’d TEU in their decks to beat Shedinja, to which people always say Last Chance Potion beats it. This leads people to not even consider Farfetch’d, which is why we don’t even play Last Chance Potion. The only counter I can imagine that hard-counters the deck is a copy of both Oranguru UPR and Faba. I do not expect anyone to put two cards in their deck to counter a fringe play. Pachirisu LOT could be a problem if PikaRom players decide to play it, but I doubt it’ll see much play.

As some final tips for this article, make sure you don’t get caught by a Reset Stamp, constantly think of any out your opponent can have, and prioritize Zebstrika over (almost) anything else early. Shedinja requires a lot of reading the game state and reactive play. Practice it a lot, you’ll need to.


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