02/11/2019 by Gabriel Semedo
Hello everyone! This time I am back to talk about the most popular deck from the new Team Up collection in Japan. If you have been following the competitive scene in Japan, you may notice that the Zapdos / Jirachi deck is quite popular and has proved to be a great deck. From the first glance, the deck does not seem to be anything special, obviously there is a good synergy between Jirachi (TM; 99) and Zapdos (TM; 40) , but in the end it is a deck with a simple strategy that aims to make the Zapdos hit a minimum 80 damage from turn 1 until end of the game. So what's the reason this deck is so popular and competitive in Japan? Although Zapdos might not seem powerful enough to compete against the great Pokémon of the game like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Malamar (FLI; 51) / Giratina (LT; 97) , Decidueye GX (SUM; 12) and Alolan Ninetales GX (JP; 132) , in practice the deck shows its true values and surprises the theory, showing that a deck with a simple strategy can be stronger than it looks.
I would say a good deck needs to have these three things going:
- It has to be powerful in a way;
- It needs to be well-positioned in the metagame;
- It needs to be consistent.
In addition to these three factors, there is a fourth factor, which is not taken into consideration by large professional and experienced players, but which is considered by the vast majority of Pokémon TCG players, which is how easy it is playing the deck.
This is the factor that initiates the creation of a metagame. Let's take the Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) / Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138) deck as an example. The deck has a very strong power of its own; Zoroark-GX draws many cards, and has an above average attack for only a Double Colorless Energy; while Lycanroc-GX has an insane Ability that pulls the opponent's Pokémon from the bench and still has a GX attack that knocks out virtually any Pokémon for only two energy. In short, you have nothing to discuss, the deck has a disproportionate strength. There will not be any deck that will beat Zoroark-GX / Lycanroc-GX and there will probably be decks built specifically to beat this and other decks that set up fast and easily.
Positioning the deck in the metagame
A deck can be powerful, but if it is not suited to the metagame, it will fail. You have to be sensible and study the metagame in order to make good choices, or even create new choices. It is in this fashion that many "rogue" decks are born, due to the need to create a deck with a good positioning in the metagame capable of facing the best decks of the format. The Passimian (SUM; 73) / Tapu Koko (BW; 31) deck is a good example of metagame positioning, as it has the ability to deal with major metagame decks like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Malamar and Blacephalon GX (SM8) (JP; null) . But it's no use for the deck to be well positioned if it is inconsistent …
There is no point in using a powerful deck that is well positioned in metagame if its consistency is poor. The most famous example we have here is the old Greninja Break. The deck, in theory, always turned out fantastic, it was a strong deck and pretty much always had good positioning in the metagame, however the biggest villain of the deck of Greninja Break was himself. It was common for Greninja players to lose by not being able to develop their own setup. In the current metagame, we can put the Passimian (SUM; 73) / Tapu Koko (BW; 31) deck in a similar example. It is a deck capable of winning against big decks like Zoroark GX (SLG; 53) , Malamar (FLI; 51) , and Blacephalon GX (SM8) (JP; null) , but it often ends up losing to itself due to inconsistency.
Easy to Play
This is a factor that is very relevant for players who are starting in the competitive scene or do not have much time to prepare for a tournament. Now, for players who take the competitive Pokémon TCG very seriously, this is not a very relevant factor, at least it should not be. This does not mean that an easy-to-use deck is bad or shameful to use.
We have today two deck examples that are easy to use that are strong and consistent, which are Blacephalon-GX and VikaRay. The problem is that these two decks do not have a good position in the current metagame, with enough decks and techs that can seriously degrade those decks.
Zapdos / Jirachi is an aggressive and fast deck. The great power of the deck is in the first turns, since Zapdos is capable of knocking out basic Pokémon from 60HP to 80HP from the first turn of play. The idea of the deck is to maintain the pressure with Escape Rope League Promo (BW; 120) and Guzma (BUS; 115) to continue disrupting the opponent's setup. Other than that, the deck can knock out any Pokémon GX in two hits without problems with the help of Choice Band (GRI; 121) , Electropower (LT; 232) and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) . At times, it is even possible to OHKO with a good ElectroPower combo. Just as the Zoroark-GX / Golisopod-GX deck did a lot last season, the Zapdos / Jirachi deck has the same proposition, knocking out basic Pokémon with little HP in one hit and knocking out a Pokémon GX in two hits.
Zapdos / Jirachi / Marshadow SLG
- 3x Zapdos
- 4x Jirachi
- 1x Nihilego
- 3x Marshadow
- 4x Cynthia
- 3x Lillie
- 3x Volkner
- 4x Guzma
- 3x Ultra Ball
- 4x Nest Ball
- 4x Electropower
- 2x Electrocharger
- 2x Choice Band
- 2x Escape Rope
- 1x Switch
- 3x Escape Board
- 2x Rescue Stretcher
- 2x Shrine of Punishment
- 1x Thunder Mountain Prism Star
- 6x Lighting Energy
- 3x Unit Energy LPM
3 Zapdos TEU
This is our only attacker in the deck. For just one lightning energy its attack hits 10 + 70 if it comes from the bench to the active position, like Golisopod GX (BUS; 129) . Zapdos is strong because it can hit 80 from the first turn of play and the damage from its attack can be increased with Electropower (LT; 232) and Choice Band (GRI; 121) . Its attack can knock out even a Gardevoir-GX with 4 Electropower (LT; 232) + Choice Band (GRI; 121) , reaching 230 damage. In short, we are talking about a basic Pokémon, which can hit from 80 to 230 with just one energy.
4 Jirachi TEU
This is the Pokémon that makes the deck function as it should. Its ability lets you look at the first 5 cards of your deck and pick up a Trainer card that you find there. You've probably heard of this cool Pokémon and its Ability. Then, the Jirachi will be responsible for ensuring the deck's consistency and still look for the ElectroPower to increase Zapdos' damage.
1 Nihillego LOT
It's not a necessary tech in the deck, but I think it's a tech worth having because the deck has a very linear strategy and I think it's important for the deck to have something different that might surprise the opponent. If your opponent is two prizes away from losing, you can copy an attack from any opponent's Pokémon and use it. It is an attack that brings an unpredictable effect and is easy to use on a deck with only non-GX Pokémon.
3 Marshadow SLG
Basically Marshadow is here to draw new cards while hindering the opponent's set up, especially against the Stage 2 decks that depend on the Alolan Vulpix (GRI; 21) Beacon attack to make a good setup. It is also very useful against control decks that use multiple Steven's Resolve (CLS; 145)
Cynthia is the best draw supporter we have right now.
This is the second best draw supporter in the game.
Volkner fits this deck like a glove. The deck is quite simple to use, and all you need is an energy and an specific item like Escape Board or Nest Ball then you’re good for the turn.
This is a deck to put pressure on the opponent since the first turn and in addition it is a deck that will knock out an opponent's GX Pokémon in two hits most of times, so 4 Guzma is crucial.
3 Ultra Ball
Ultra Ball is not too important in the deck, but it is still useful to discard unnecessary cards or to grab yourself a Marshadow.
4 Nest Ball
It works wonders here since you can grab both Zapdos and Jirachi with it.
Zapdos is really strong because of Electropower (LT; 232) . If Zapdos could only hit for 80 damage it would not be very good because its damage would not be able to knock out much, just basic Pokémon up to 80HP. With ElectroPower, the math starts to work out, but ElectroPower is limited and should be used with caution.
2 Electro Charger
As said before, Zapdos is strong because of ElectroPower, so I decided to put two copies of Electrocharger (TM; 139) to ensure that we will have the strength of ElectroPower more than 4 times. Without the ElectroCharger, the opponent can easily count how many ElectroPower has already been used and can tailor their moves knowing how much damage Zapdos is capable of doing. With ElectroCharger, your opponent does not have this control, and starts making plays counting that you can still use up to 8 ElectroPower in the same match depending on your luck with coins. ElectroCharger needs to flip a coin in order to recover the ElectroPower in the discard. You flip two coins, for each heads you can return an ElectroPower from the discard to the deck, so it is most likely that you will be able to recover at least one ElectroPower from the discard for each ElectroCharger used.
2 Choice Band
Zapdos' damage is too low to knock out a Pokémon-GX in a single hit, actually without the help of Electropower (LT; 232) , Choice Band (GRI; 121) and Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) t, it won't be possible to knock out a Pokémon-GX in two hits. Choice Band ensures that Zapdos can knock out a Pokémon-GX in two hits. We also have ElectroPower on the deck, but we do not want to spend ElectroPower unnecessarily.
2 Escape Rope
Zapdos is a Pokémon that can knock down basic Pokémon from 80HP to 110HP with ease, so the opponent will avoid putting a Pokémon with low HP in the active position, but will probably put it on the bench. Escape Rope (PRC; 127) brings the possibility of bringing low HP Pokémon to the active position without needing to use Guzma (BUS; 115) while having the effect of a " Switch (BC; 135) " to bring the Zapdos from the bench to active position, activating the condition for the attack. In short, the Escape Rope (PS; 120) replaces both a Switch (BC; 135) and a Guzma (BUS; 115) with just one Item card at the same time.
It is good to keep the simple option of replacing your Pokémon, Switch (BC; 135) obviously is well synergistic with the deck, either to use the Jirachi (TM; 99) Ability or to activate the Zapdos (TM; 40) attack.
3 Escape Board
Escape Board (UPR; 122) is what makes the Jirachi so powerful because even though the Jirachi goes to sleep after using its Ability, Escape Board allows you to retreat even when sleeping. In practice you will only use one or two copies of the Escape Board, but since this card is so powerful for Jirachi, I prefer to use three copies to ensure that the Jirachi (TM; 99) i + Escape Board (UPR; 122) combo is completed as soon as possible and with consistency.
2 Rescue Stretcher
Decks focused on non-GX Pokémon need at least two copies of Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130) on the deck to ensure you do not run out of attackers during an entire match.
2 Shrine of Punishment
For now I prefer not to put many copies of Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143) in the deck, as we are still not sure what the metagame will be. I think the Zapdos / Jirachi deck already has balanced matches against Pokémon-GX decks, simply because Zapdos can knock out virtually any Pokémon-GX in two attacks. The two copies of the Shrine of Punishment in here are just to ensure that Zapdos can accomplish the mission of knocking anything out in two hits. Against Non-GX decks, the Shrine of Punishment are completely useless and considerably affect the consistency of the deck for these matches.
1 Thunder Mountain
This stadium is simply too good not to be used. In this deck you can see Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191) as an energy, that is, if you think the Zapdos deck needs ten energies to function consistently, then lower to nine energies and add the stadium as it is basically an improved energy. At least in my build, Thunder Mountain works this way, except because of the Nihilego (LT; 106) that will need the Unit Energy LPM (UPR; 138) . With other options like Jolteon-GX, Thunder Mountain becomes more important, because there you can make Jolteon-GX use any of its attacks for only one energy.
6 Lighting Energy
It is more than enough energy in order to play with this deck since you only need one energy to attack.
3 Unit Energy LPM
This energy is in the deck because of Nihilego (LT; 106) . In this deck it does not make much difference to use special energy or basic energy, because everything attacks with only one energy, so it makes no difference if your opponent uses Enhanced Hammer, Faba or anything else to remove special energies.
The Zapdos / Jirachi deck may not be the best deck in the new format, but it has everything a deck needs to be good and popular. It's an easy, relatively inexpensive, aggressive, consistent and secure deck. It is an easy deck because it has no secret, it is basically using the Jirachi's ability to pick up resources, retreat to promote Zapdos and attack. It's relatively inexpensive because Zapdos and Jirachi are pre-release promo cards, out of which neither Zapdos and Jirachi are Ultra Rare. It is an aggressive deck because it will knock out several basic Pokémon since the T1, without taking the chance of knocking out a Pokémon-GX in a single attack with the help of Choice Band and some ElectroPower. It's consistent because the deck has a super-simple setup, plus Jirachi's powerful Ability, which brings even more consistency to an already consistent deck.
Finally, it is a safe deck because we are talking about a deck with no Pokémon-GX and without an Autoloss, that is, the deck plays against any deck and without worrying about strong cards against your deck (at least for now), as per example Shrine of Punishment against decks of Blacephalon GX and VikaRay.
I think the Zapdos / Jirachi deck will be popular and will do well in the first months of the new format, after all it is a fun and easy to use deck. But over time I see this deck losing its strength and other decks can appear in the format to take away the brilliance of Zapdos / Jirachi.
That's all for today guys! I hope you enjoyed it and see you next time!
Switch (BC; 135)
Escape Rope (PS; 120)
Escape Rope (PRC; 127)
Escape Rope League Promo (BW; 120)
Decidueye GX (SUM; 12)
Passimian (SUM; 73)
Alolan Vulpix (GRI; 21)
Choice Band (GRI; 121)
Lycanroc GX (GRI; 138)
Rescue Stretcher (GRI; 130)
Tapu Koko (BW; 31)
Golisopod GX (BUS; 129)
Guzma (BUS; 115)
Zoroark GX (SLG; 53)
Escape Board (UPR; 122)
Unit Energy LPM (UPR; 138)
Malamar (FLI; 51)
Shrine of Punishment (CLS; 143)
Steven's Resolve (CLS; 145)
Blacephalon GX (SM8) (JP; null)
Alolan Ninetales GX (JP; 132)
Electropower (LT; 232)
Giratina (LT; 97)
Nihilego (LT; 106)
Thunder Mountain Prism Star (LT; 191)
Electrocharger (TM; 139)
Jirachi (TM; 99)
Zapdos (TM; 40)
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