Pikachu & Zekrom-GX has seen a
resurgence in play during the Region Qualifiers and showed a bit of promise
with multiple big-name players opting for the powerful TAG TEAM. Losing the
overwhelmingly strong Thunder Mountain Prism Star
to rotation slowed the deck down by a turn for the most part, but the
addition of heavy hand disruption and the consistency of Dedenne-GX has
helped keep the deck afloat in the format. Brent Tonisson, who finished 5th at
the 2019 Europe International Championships and was the lone competitor to
qualify for the Global Finals with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX, said he
chose the deck for those exact reasons and that it allowed him to “steal” many
games throughout the tournament.
Both of these decks are at risk, though, as the
new Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage expansion could introduce even more
counters to the format before the Global Finals. It will be up to the players
during testing to see what new changes Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage brings
to the virtual table.
Support in Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage
A new expansion always brings fresh and
exciting cards and strategies to any format. But the true testament to an expansion
is how fast the cards shake up the hierarchy of the existing top decks. It will
be worth watching the stream to see if cards from Sword & Shield—Vivid
Voltage such as Coalossal VMAX,
Orbeetle VMAX, and Whimsicott can make an instant
impact in the Global Finals.
Both Pokémon VMAX show promise and could find
their own spot in the format. Coalossal VMAX capitalizes on the increase of
Fighting-type support. Being able to do up to 130 damage for one Fighting
Energy could create a major advantage against decks like Eternatus VMAX and
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX.
Orbeetle VMAX brings with it a powerful new Ability
in Eerie Beam, able to spread 10 damage to each of your opponent's Pokémon for
each Orbeetle VMAX you can rotate into the Active Spot. Orbeetle VMAX's
Fire-type Weakness might keep it on the sidelines for now, although that same
Weakness hasn't slowed down Zacian V much.
Whimsicott is a very intriguing Pokémon, as
the format has recently lacked a consistent single-Prize attacker other than
Blacephalon. Its Flying Fury attack costs just one Psychic Energy and does 10 damage
plus 40 for each Pokémon Tool you discard from all of your Pokémon. This means
with a full Bench, Whimsicott could do conceivably do 240 damage—hard to pull
off, but a fascinating thought to say the least.
Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage also introduces some new key support Pokémon into the format. The new Amazing
Jirachi seems, well,
amazing. Jirachi with the Stellar
Wish Ability was an instant staple of many decks and saw a variety of uses. But
the rotation of Escape Board limited
the flexibility of the powerful Basic Pokémon, so decks had to focus more on
ways to get out of the Active Spot with cards like Switch
and Scoop Up Net.
The new Jirachi's Ability provides a similar function to Stellar Wish: Dreamy
Revelation lets you look at the top two cards of your deck and put one into
your hand (the other one stays on top of the deck). This new Ability is definitely
not as powerful as digging five cards deep and shuffling, but since it also
doesn't make Jirachi fall Asleep afterward, it does offer more flexibility in
deck-building since you don't have to commit extra spots to its utility. It'll
be interesting to see if the new Jirachi overtakes the spot in a lot of the
decks going forward.
is another Pokémon that can draw cards, but its Gormandize Ability stands
out as a sort of one-sided Tropical Beach,
an older Stadium card that allows you to draw until you have seven cards in
hand but also ends your turn. This effect has given rise to a number of
different archetypes and control strategies in the Expanded format; only time
will tell if someone cracks the code for Snorlax in the Standard format.
One more card that could swoop in to help a
deck in need of some added consistency is Talonflame V. We mentioned it earlier as a strong potential
partner to Centiskorch VMAX. Its Fast Flight attack allows you to discard your
hand and draw six new cards, even on the first turn of the game. This in
combination with free retreat and a serviceable attack to Knock Out opposing
Dedenne-GX provides great utility to any Welder-focused deck, as most of
those decks struggled when going first in some of their matchups.
The early consensus is that support Pokémon like
these are the stars of the new expansion and show the most promise to impact
the 16-player Global Finals. The new cards bring the temptation to use them, and
the question becomes: how far off the expected plan are players willing to go? These
cards are largely untested, so for a lot of players, that decision will come
down to confidence. Players often resort back to the basics when approaching a
new format, but for some this is an exciting opportunity to shake up the field
of proven archetypes. Whether it will work is certainly worth tuning in to the
A Metagame Mystery
Whatever deck these 16 players choose to bring
to the Global Finals will drastically change the landscape of the bracket. Players
are allowed to change their decks before this round, so it will be exciting
what Pokémon each competitor turns over to start the match. For example, in the
first Pokémon Players Cup, Natalie Millar and Matthew Burris controlled the flow
of the tournament with Lucario & Melmetal-GX, which has found its
own slice of the metagame pie. One has to wonder whether the competitors in
this event will follow that lead or test the waters with a new deck. And now with
the new Sword & Shield—Vivid Voltage expansion legal, what new surprises
await our Trainers?
Find out what new cards make the most impact, and be sure to check out all the action for the Global Finals at Twitch.tv/Pokemon
and YouTube.com/Pokemon streaming Dec 11–13.
Jeremy is a Pokémon TCG competitor and commentator who has been involved in the game since 2008. Among his best finishes are Top 8 in the 2011 World Championships, and a 1st and 2nd place finish at Regional Championships. Nowadays, you can catch Jeremy casting Pokémon TCG matches from the commentary booth with a Pokémon pin on the lapel and puns at the ready. He has also been told by several people that he owns the cutest pug.