Return of the Rat – Pikachu & Zekrom-GX Bounces Back

Hello Pokebeach readers! Since the release of Team Up, where Pikachu and Zekrom-GX made its debut as one of the first Tag Team Pokemon, the deck has had its spot in the meta. In some cases that was a dominant role, while in others it was more of an outcast. It just always seemed to bounce back when it was least expected to do so, and now matter how bleak things looked, it was never down for the count. Now, I have to be honest and say I was one of the many people who wrote this deck off when the rotation was announced. Not only was it losing Electropower and Thunder Mountain Prism Star, it was already a deck that was not performing very well at the end of last format, and the rest of the competition was heating up. This was until the past week or so, when the dominance of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX took the online competitive circuit by storm and really shook things up. It is still that same speedy Lightning deck everyone knows and loves (or hates!) but this time it comes with a few defensive tools and a wide variety of tech attackers. I would have to say this is one of the more interesting variations of the deck, and I do think it has great potential to be here for the long haul, so I thought it would be a great deck to write about! I hope you all agree with my choice because I will be going pretty in depth and focusing less on the meta as a whole, this is great news for Pikachu fans and pretty terrible new for Pikachu haters. With all of that being said, I hope you are ready for a real earful about the newest way to play Pikachu & Zekrom-GX! Lets get started by taking a look at what opened up this opportunity for the deck.

Pikarom: What Changed?

Honestly, nothing about the metagame changed in a way that opened up the opportunity for Pikachu & Zekrom-GX to succeed. In fact, I would argue that this deck would have been even stronger in earlier variations of the metagame based on how decks were being built then and how they are being built now. The Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V decks are a lot more aggressive and truly embrace the strategy of winning in just a couple turns, which leaves little room for error in the early game for any deck. On top of that, they also have Tool Scrapper now, which is definitely not something Big Charms (spoiler alert) want to worry about. Other than that, the presence of Lucario and Melmetal-GX is something that this deck would not mind getting to avoid, as this deck’s low damage output makes it not the best matchup. So, if things have not progressed in a way that is much more favorable for Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, why has it been seeing so much success in tournaments lately? I think that for the most part, the deck was just overlooked in the post-rotation format. Electropower and Thunder Mountain Prism Star rotated, which was a considerable blow to a deck that was already not getting the best results. Past that, the version that people have been playing has been built really well to combat the threats of the metagame, and is a bit more reactive than Pikachu & Zekrom decks we have seen in the past. More will be explained and discussed throughout the article, so it is time to take a look at the decklist.

Pokemon (11)

2x Pikachu and Zekrom-GX (PRSM #SM168)3x Dedenne-GX (UNB #57)1x Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX (UNM #54)1x Boltund V (RCL #67)1x Tapu Koko V (SSH #72)1x Vikavolt V (DAA #60)1x Crobat V (DAA #104)1x Tapu Koko Prism Star (TEU #51)

Trainers (36)

4x Professor's Research (SSH #178)4x Marnie (SSH #169)4x Boss's Orders (RCL #154)4x Quick Ball (SSH #179)4x Switch (EVO #88)4x Electromagnetic Radar (UNB #169)4x Crushing Hammer (EPO #92)2x Energy Switch (FFI #89)2x Reset Stamp (UNM #206)2x Big Charm (SSH #158)2x Chaotic Swell (COE #187)

Energy (13)

4x Speed L Energy (RCL #173)9x Lightning Energy (EVO #94)

Three Dedenne-GX, One Crobat V

These are the support Pokemon that every deck plays, but I wanted to go over the counts of each. Dedenne-GX has more synergy with the deck thanks to its typing, as it can be searched via Electromagnetic Radar. It is also considered the better of the two support Pokemon overall because it draws you six cards regardless of the situation, whereas Crobat V is a bit more situational. Crobat V is a nice inclusion to have because it gives you the option to use two draw support Pokemon in one turn, which can increase the speed you have in the early game and the reach you have when digging for something later in the game. As stated before, Crobat V is also situationally good because you can still draw quite a few cards while holding onto something you want to keep around. This can help save resources or set you up for a solid play on the following turn.

Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX, Boltund V, Tapu Koko V, Vikavolt V

This is the squadron of tech attackers that have made their way into the deck, all of which are good but mostly situational, and overall make up a huge part of the deck’s versatility. While Pikachu & Zekrom-GX is certainly the main attacker of the deck, each of these Pokemon has its moment to shine. Not all of them will be used every single game, but at least one of them will have an impact on every single game you play.Raichu and Alolan Raichu-GX is helpful against decks that are low on switch effects or don’t play many (or any) to begin with. In combination with Reset Stamp, along with this Pokemon’s beefy HP that can be increased even further by Big Charm, Tandem Shock can be a huge pain for the opponent to deal with. Lightning Ride GX is also a great way for this deck to do a lot of damage and end the game when it otherwise would fall short. Boltund V, while it does have a solid secondary attack that will be used sometimes, is mainly used as a way of accelerating energy with Electrify. This is a great option to use on the first turn when you otherwise won’t have much to do, something that happens often I might add. Moving on to Tapu Koko V, one of the less popular inclusions in the deck from what I have seen, is a good option when you need to do a higher amount of damage. Outside of your GX attacks or a really beefy Bolt Storm, Thunderous Bolt is your highest damage output attack. It outclasses our last attacker on the list in that regard, Vikavolt V, because it does ten more damage and its drawback is not as bad. Speaking of Vikavolt V, which does have a secondary attack that is a reasonable option for ending the game, I really only recommend attacking with this one when Paralyzing Bolt is a strong attack for the situation. This actually happens quite often, as it is a nice response to an Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX attack, assuming you can remove an energy with Crushing Hammer, because their Tag Team Pokemon will be trapped in the Active Spot and grow a bit weaker as well. You can make a similar play after a Zacian V attacks thanks to the drawback of Brave Blade.

Four Professor’s Research, Four Marnie, Four Boss’s Orders

This is the standard Supporter line for a majority of decks at the moment and that continues to be the case here. While the deck has a bunch of other consistency, I would not recommend changing this Supporter line up at all. A Boss's Orders could come out if Eldegoss V were to make its way in, but even then it would be ideal to maintain the maxed count.

Four Electromagnetic Radar

This is a card that has been in and out of Pikachu & Zekrom-GX decks since the release of Team Up, but with the speed of the format and the importance of having a solid turn one, I think that this powerful Trainer card is here to stay. It grabs you a Pikachu & Zekrom-GX and a Dedenne-GX, which is a great way to start off the game. In the late game it is essentially a more expensive Quick Ball that also thins your deck out a little bit more, but there are situations where grabbing a Dedenne-GX and an attacker is ideal as well. Having four of them increases the odds of having one on turn one, which was already mentioned as a great thing to have. Additionally, it provides some additional Marnie recovery because it means grabbing a Dedenne-GX.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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