10/09/2019 by Jimmy Pendarvis
Hello everyone! The new Pokemon season has already kicked itself off, Atlantic City regionals has come and gone, and some players are already starting to earn their invite to the World Championships! Personally, I have gotten some decent finishes at local events, but I did not compete in the open and did not perform well at Atlantic City, so I am off to a pretty meh start. That being said, I have been testing a lot for Knoxville, including playing as many local events as possible, and hope to get things turned around! Despite my poor finish at Atlantic City using Pikachu & Zekrom, the deck did very well overall at the event, and my friend Daniel Altavilla got all the way to the top 8 with the same sixty cards I used. My biggest issue was prizing both Prism Star cards multiple times, which takes all the speed out of the deck and makes winning games much harder. I am not too torn up about it though, and am looking forward to Knoxville! With that being said, today I am going to be talking about Pikachu & Zekrom, lets get things started.
- 2x Pikachu & Zekrom GX
- 1x Zeraora GX
- 1x Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX
- 2x Dedenne GX
- 1x Zapdos
- 1x Tapu Koko Prism Star
- 4x Jirachi
- 1x Stadium Nav
- 1x Absol
- 2x Volkner
- 4x Electromagnetic Radar
- 2x Energy Switch
- 4x Electropower
- 4x Custom Catcher
- 1x Lysandre Labs
- 1x Thunder Mountain Prism Star
- 1x Reset Stamp
- 2x Pokémon Communication
- 2x Cynthia
- 1x Tag Switch
- 2x Power Plant
- 3x Switch
- 2x Escape Board
- 4x Judge
- 11x Lightning Energy
I always want my decks to be as consistent as possible, and I generally do that by being pretty picky with my techs. This is part of the reasoning for this choice, as you want to start Jirachi or find a Jirachi early, and extra Jirachi can be used for Pokemon Communication. On top of the consistency factor, the Jirachi also has incredible synergy with Judge, which is the main focus of this build to some degree. Stellar Wish can help you find Judge on your first turn, and it can help you recover from Judge as well. I am a big fan of this heavy count, and recommend trying it before you knock it.
This is probably something a lot of people would disagree with before playing with this list, but would come to agree that the lower Dedenne-GX is fine after playing a few games with it. With the high Jirachi count, board space is a problem. Having even just two Dedenne-GX on your board the whole game can really hurt you. Another thing about the heavy Jirachi count is how much space it takes up in the deck, 1-2 "extra" spots are consumed by Jirachi in comparison to other lists. To me, that is a huge consistency boost that is very under appreciated at the moment. Generally you are going to use a Dedenne early, and then you will use the other one in the late game when you are trying to make a big play of finish the game entirely. In this scenario, prizing a Dedenne is not the end of the world because you will have a chance to take it off the prizes before you never get to use it at all. The only real pain is to start a Dedenne-GX, because that means you will only be able to use one Dedenne that game, unless you take advantage of the Tingly Return-GX attack.
This is probably my favorite card in the deck! In a lot of matchups, it makes the opponent go the extra mile every turn, and really limits their options over the course of a game. It shines against anything with Jirachi, as it doesn't make Escape Board a way to move Jirachi every turn, which limit's their reach, and in Malamar's case, makes it harder to chain attackers. In combination with cards like Power Plant, Lysandre Labs and Judge, this Absol can turn into game winning disruption. Even if you decide to change up the list or play a version without Judge, I think removing Absol would be a grave mistake.
This supporter count is pretty weird, but I have been messing around with various supporter counts and this is what I have liked the best so far. The Judge gives you more control over the game, because you can disrupt the opponent pretty consistently, even in situations where they haven't started to take prizes yet. The Judge shines when going first because you can stick the opponent with a slow or dead start and just win the game off of it. Additionally, the Judge is especially strong against Pidgey control and decks that rely on Green's Exploration. To wrap up the supporter line, we have 2 Volkner and 2 Cynthia, both of which are situationally good. While in a majority of decks it would be better to pick one, with Jirachi and Dedenne providing extra reach, on top of the slow pace this deck aims to create, I have grown to be a huge fan of the split.
I decided to go over the stadium lineup because it is relatively thick, and the stadiums are an important part of the deck, and I think that will become even more true as time goes on. Power Plant is not something I would take out of this deck, it is just too strong in the current meta and pairs really well with Judge. The Thunder Mountain is incredible in the deck, and another card I would not remove. Stadium Nav is a strong card in the deck, but it is somewhat of a luxury as all it does is provide easier access to the best stadium in the deck, so if you need space, this is a card that could probably go without destroying your deck. However, I could see messing around with the Lysandre Labs counts, more on that below.
I just went over the current stadium situation in the section directly above this, but the Lysandre Labs count if something that I consider to be important heading into Knoxville. If you expect a decent amount of Gardevoir, or a small amount that will perform well, you will probably want to increase your count of this card to 2. If you expect the deck to be unpopular or perform poorly, you could keep the count the same or remove it from the deck all together. It is not strictly for Gardevoir and a single copy does not beat Gardevoir all that often, but it does help quite a bit. You also happen to collateral Malamar with every Lysandre Labs you include in your list, which is another deck that is an interesting spot heading into this weekend. Speaking of Malamar, if you are going to include a high Lysandre Labs count, you could also put in a Hoopa if you expect to play against the squid all weekend. When combined, they are great against Malamar.
This used to be a tech that was basically just for hurting Pikachu & Zekrom decks, but is now a bit more versatile. It still can help in mirror, assuming you get it down after you pop your Tapu Koko but before they pop theirs. It still shuts off Ditto Prism Star in decks where it gets used, mainly Pidgey control and Malamar, which it can really hurt if used at the right time. To wrap things up, the Wobbuffet can stop Victini Prism Star from nuking you at he end of the game a bit easier than the other attackers fire decks play. I just named a few reasons why Wobbuffet would be good in the current meta, why don't I already have it in my deck? Good question, one that is answered by a previous topic of discussion though, bench space.
This would be in a low count, just one or two, for a slight consistency boost and extra reach when hunting for a certain supporter. Heading into Atlantic City, I had one Pokegear 3.0 in my list during all my testing, but cut it the night before for the Lysandre Labs you see in the current list. While I don't recall missing the Pokegear 3.0 too much, I didn't use the Lysandre Labs either, so Pokegear 3.0 probably would have worked out for me a little bit better at that event. Moving forward, Lysandre Labs has gained a lot of value, and I am not sure scrapping it is a great idea.
I have never felt like I needed this card, but it was included in some lists at Atlantic City. It is helpful against Naganadel-GX and Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, but I have preferred the strategy of just disrupting them as much as possible and forcing them to answer my attackers.
Headed into Knoxville, Pikachu & Zekrom is primed to be one of the most popular decks in the room alongside Mewtwo & Mew, fire decks, and possibly Pidgey. Pikachu & Zekrom can be built in so many different ways, that it can adapt to a meta fairly easily. Players can also build the deck to their liking, choosing their techs and the supporter lineup as they see fit. Some stuff you could try and we might see this weekend is:
- Lists with no judge, going with Cynthia/Volkner and a heavy stamp count.
- Bill's Analysis in varying counts, likely in lists with no judge.
- Some lists will play Absol, while other lists will play Hoopa. Lists with Hoopa will probably have a higher Lysandre Labs count
- Less Power Plant and more Lysandre Labs, or just really thick stadium counts.
- A lower Jirachi count and more Dedenne or a slew of techs.
I would advise trying out any of these variations that interest you, or anything else that pops up in your mind! I have tried a lot of Pikachu & Zekrom lists, and this is the one that I like the best, but the other ones certainly have some merit too.
With that being said, looking at the potential meta and recent results, lets talk about some pros and cons for playing Pikachu & Zekrom this weekend.
- Fast, consistent deck that usually does not tie and has a chance to beat pretty much anything.
- Potential to cheese people out of games with Judge, even though Judge is just a nice form of disruption.
- Great Malamar matchup, especially with Absol and Lysandre Labs.
- No complete autoloss if built cautiously.
- Mirror matches are generally unskillful and less fun.
- Have to tech for Gardevoir or take the loss.
- Deck is expected and will be tested against.
As you can see, the deck is one that has a lot of close matchups and is pretty versatile, which is my favorite type of deck. I never want to go into a tournament with a deck that has super polarizing matchups, because that takes some skill out of the equation. I want to feel like I have a chance in every game that I play, and not worry too much about what I get paired against. This deck fits the bill for all of that, so it doesn’t have any super positive pros or super negative cons, it is just a strong deck.
While I could continue to ramble on about the little things, I have covered all of the major points I had on my mind. I always advise testing yourself as much as possible, especially with the deck you plan to play at the tournament! If you do that after reading this article, I recommend trying out some sort of Pikachu & Zekrom deck and seeing how you feel about it. If you do, you should pick up on the specifics of each matchup pretty quickly, and then you are all set. I will continue my testing all the way up until the night before the event, and while I would love to show up with something out of left field, it looks like this is going to be another normal deck for me. I didn't even notice myself, but if you look at my tournament deck choices for last year, I often played Pikachu & Zekrom when I didn't have anything special in standard, so the deck can't be too bad right? That is all I've got for today, I hope you enjoyed this article and thanks for reading! Until next time.
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