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Real life tournaments might be called off for the foreseeable future, but thanks to Pokémon TCG Online, top-level players can still compete against each other to stay sharp, and most importantly, see who’s the very best (like no one ever was). In light of the current restrictions on travel, The Pokémon Company arranged the Players Cup, a months-long competition that encompasses all the major competitive Pocket Monster scenes. At the end of August, the finalists from the trading card game portion will be duking it to crown a 2020 Pokémon TCG champion.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most popular, and most powerful, decks that have been used, and how to put them together:
Pikachu & Zekrom-GX
Average Overall Price: $94
This is one of the more widely-played decks in standard Pokémon TCG competitions right now. Based around the titular Electricity Pokémon, the deck utilizes powerful Lightning attacks and tag-teams to shock an opponent into defeat. Price-wise, it won’t do the most damage to your wallet, which makes it a good choice if you’re looking to jump into competitive play.
The main card itself is Pikachu & Zekrom-GX TEU 33, a Tag-Team card with two big Lightning attacks. This goes for around $2.79 on its own, so you can get started right at the low end. Where prices take a jump are in the other monsters that populate the deck. Jirachi TEU 99 is one, a Basic Pokémon that lets you move a Trainer card from your deck to your hand. Pricing on this is floating around $7.81 or so, and typical builds will use four to speed up getting those Trainers into play, which adds up to over $30.
Another expensive pickup is Zeraora-GX LOT 86, an Electric-type that removes the retreat cost on any of your Pokémon that have Lightning Energy attached. Zeraora has the ability to move Energy cards from your discard pile onto monsters, making it a powerful ally in the circulation of Energy for the $11.77 it tends to cost right now.
Beyond these, the rest of the build is cheap and cheerful. The highest you’re likely to pay for any of the Trainer cards is the $3.00 for Thunder Mountain Prism Star LOT 191, a Stadium card that further reduces the Energy cost of Lightning types. Professor’s Research SSH 178 can reach up to $2, whereas others, like Electromagnetic Radar, Escape Board, and Reset Stamp, are all below a dollar and very common.
Average Overall Price: $191
This is a Dark-based powerhouse from the Darkness Ablaze set, which just came out in August. Using this deck puts you right at the forefront of what’s happening in standard, and nabs you a few rares that should keep their value for the foreseeable.
A few variations of the titular alien-dragon are available, and most builds use the Basic and VMAX versions together. The cheaper of the two is Eternatus V DAA 116, running at just over $4 right now, giving you a big-hitter that can deliver over 120 damage in a single attack (or 240 damage if your opponent’s Pokémon is a VMAX). Nearly four times more expensive, the $15.54 Eternatus VMAX DAA 117 might seem overly pricey, but its strategic worth more than matches the going value. This iteration of the monster allows you to have up to eight Pokémon on your bench, provided they’re all Dark types. Thankfully, the rest of the monsters are just that.
Absol TEU 88 is one such inclusion, who ups your opponent’s retreat cost, then has a damage modifier based on the amount in said retreat cost, that can run you around $6.39 or so per single. Crobats are used, too – Crobat V DAA 104 is the cheaper option, at $18.62, that lets you draw until you have six cards in your hand the turn you put it on the bench, with a 70-damage attack that poisons the opposing monster. Crobat V DAA 182 is around 10 dollars more for the same thing, but if you’re looking for selling or trading fodder, it’s worth investing in one or two in addition to the cheaper option.
The Trainers are easier to find. A couple of Marnie SSH 169s, that cause a redraw between you and your opponent, will cost you about $1.44 each, sometimes fluctuating up to over $2. A special Energy is sometimes used, Capture Energy RCL 171, that gives a Colorless Energy, and lets you place a Pokémon from your deck onto the bench. It’s cheap, cheerful, and useful, so picking up one (or more) of the common four-packs, that cost around $4, is a wise investment for this deck and anything else you may want to build from its parts.
Average Overall Price: $45
Since the latest Pokémon TCG expansion Darkness Ablaze has just arrived, we won’t see the full effect on the meta for a while yet. That said, some decks have already been designed to take advantage of what the third booster set in the Sword and Shield TCG series is bringing to the table. This is one such build, and a comfortably affordable one to get a leg-up on where standard play is heading.
The pivotal monsters here are Silvally-GX CEC 184 and Dedenne-GX UNB 57, who’ll take a pretty penny to put together. Silvally’s at around $9.15, depending, and for the bones of a 10 dollar bill, you get the useful power of filling out your hand with five cards at the start of your turn, and a couple of hefty attacks. Dedenne is cheaper, at $6.63, and you can discard your hand and redraw six cards when it comes onto the bench, alongside a GX attack that’s useful in a pinch
Boss’s Orders RCL 154 is among the Trainers, letting you swap out one of your opponent’s benched monsters for their active, costing up to $10 depending on the market. Professor’s Research SSH 178 is another potentially difficult Trainer to get, that lets you draw seven cards, priced at between $1 and $5.
The Darkness Ablaze contributions to this list are the titular Galarian Sirfetch’d and his Basic version Galarian Farfetch’d, which cost next-to-nothing due to being brand spankin’ new and coming in a theme deck. Galarian Farfetch’d RCL 94 is a sturdy attacker that can do up to 40 damage using Rock Smash, and Galarian Sirfetch’d RCL 95 could turn out to be a real break-out star. Sirfetch’d has Meteor Assault, which does 180 damage for one Fighting energy and two Colorless. The move can’t be used again unless Sirfetch’d is switched out of active and back in, a simple enough turn-around if you find the right cards. For now, the beaked brute is at just $2 as a single, a steal for the strength it brings.