Sword & Shield’s Climax — Crown Zenith’s Implications for Orlando

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you all! Last time, I talked about two decks that I thought were going to be strong plays going forward in the Standard format, which were Regigigas and the Lost Zone variant of Hisuian Goodra VSTAR. With the Orlando Regional Championships on the horizon and also set to be the largest Regional in history, many players, myself included, are not really sure of where to go. Both of the decks that I previously mentioned are poised to be strong plays for the event, with the former continuing to do reasonably well against most of the top decks in the format, and the latter being able to put together powerful combos to cripple other decks’ strategies from the earliest turns of the game. In the case of Regigigas in particular, while I am unlikely to personally be playing it, I think it will be an exceptionally strong play this weekend, largely thanks to the new thing on everyone’s mind: Crown Zenith.

As is typically the case, a new expansion will always shake up the format, regardless of how many cards in the expansion are expected to be impactful by those on social media. In the case of Crown Zenith, there is, objectively, not very many impactful cards, as the set is primarily a “reprint set” with the luxurious Galarian Gallery subset. However, to say that there are zero impactful cards in the expansion would also be a lie. In particular, players are heavily focused on Radiant Eternatus, Sky Seal Stone, and Zamazenta. They will also be the focus on this article.

The Three Biggest Cards in Crown Zenith

The three main cards that are expected to shake up the current metagame are Radiant Eternatus, Sky Seal Stone, and Zamazenta. Logically, I think it makes the most sense to go through these in order, starting with Radiant Eternatus.

Radiant Eternatus

In my opinion, this card is the most naturally powerful of the cards in the set. The ability to search your deck for any two Pokemon VMAX and put them into play is something that is truly unprecedented in the game’s history. The closest things like this are Maxie's Hidden Ball Trick or more recently Single Strike Style Mustard, the former of which has been banned in the Expanded format, with nearly zero chance of ever coming back. However, the biggest con to these style of cards will always be that the cards are only as strong as what they can pull out, which creates a problem for cards like Rapid Strike Style Mustard which has effectively zero good targets. But on the flip side, Archie's Ace in the Hole being able to target Blastoise proved to be so strong that it was able to win the World Championships in 2015. Radiant Eternatus finds itself in the middle of these two styles, having a strong enough card pool to catch some attention, but not so strong that the deck is deemed to be unfair. In particular, the main two targets that have attracted some attention are Duraludon VMAX and Flying Pikachu VMAX due to their ability to completely wall out some of the best decks in the format, but I will dive deeper into that archetype later. In addition to that deck, there has also been attention given to Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX, Espeon VMAX, and even Kyurem VMAX. With all of these strategies, including some that surely have not yet been discovered, Radiant Eternatus is bound to be one of the best cards in the expansion.

Sky Seal Stone

Of the three cards on this list, this card is by far the one that has received the most attention. Sky Seal Stone offers a promise of an extra Prize card during a game, which opens up many new ways to route one’s Prize mapping. One of the most glaringly obvious and popular uses of this card has been with Drapion V for the Mew VMAX matchup. With Sky Seal Stone, Drapion V can now take four Prize cards, which means that you only need to take a Knock Out on another two Prize Pokemon, such as a Genesect V, in order to win the game. For many decks, this new line of play is significantly easier than any other lines that they would have had previously, and is less of a problem than playing two copies of Drapion V. Additionally, if you play carefully, you can take the two Prize cards from Genesect V first and then take the four later, allowing you to completely skip the Roxanne part of the game, making it much easier for you to win the game. Sky Seal Stone is also expected to be impactful against Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX because it allows you to take Knock Outs on just two Pokemon instead of needing to Knock Out three. As a result, pretty much every valuable aspect of the deck is entirely negated, as the deck typically needs a minimum of six attacks to win a game, but now other decks can win in as few as four if they are playing Sky Seal Stone. Finally, Sky Seal Stone also is reasonably strong against Lugia VSTAR, as Raikou V is now able to take three Prize cards. However, this strategy is often “bait” so to speak, because even the most Prize efficient archetypes cannot consistently beat a strong Lugia VSTAR player with this particular strategy, as Stoutland V often allows them to make up for you taking the lead by getting an advantageous Prize card exchange of their own. Overall, Sky Seal Stone will likely make an impact on the format, but it is highly unlikely to make as much of an influence as many people claim that it is going to have.


The final card that I wanted to focus on is probably the one that has the community the most divided. Zamazenta is a really interesting card to find worth mentioning because, while most of the time the focus cards of an expansion have some insanely strong attack or Ability, Zamazenta is pretty much just a good card. With a non-exceptional attack and a very okay Ability, Zamazenta is one of the cards that most people would glance over as they are building decks with a new expansion. But because it happens to be in such a small set, it is getting a little more attention than one would expect. With its Retaliate attack doing 220 damage, the card is a perfect fit in Lost Zone Box decks that have been floating around as of late, as it offers both a great check to the ever problematic Stoutland V while also offering the perfect math when paired with a Cramorant attack. In addition, taking 30 less damage from attacks is perfect for the Vikavolt V matchup, which can be an issue for ordinary lists, but now becomes effectively an auto-win. There really is no better way to describe Zamazenta other than calling it an excellent all-around card and likely to make major waves in Lost Zone deck lists this weekend at the Orlando Regional Championships.

With the discussion of those three cards finished, naturally, it is time to talk about deck lists. For this article, I have decided to highlight my current Radiant Eternatus / Duraludon VMAX deck list as well as a Lost Zone variant featuring Sky Seal Stone. As of right now, I do not really have a great deck to talk about with Zamazenta, but the card is extremely splashable in Lost Zone decks, and likely to fit pretty easily into most variants of the archetype.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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