The Pokémon TCG Meta Snapshot is an article that aims to encapsulate the state of the meta for a given 1 month period.
The Pokémon TCG Meta Snapshot also aims to rank decks in a somewhat lesser tier system. The tiers that we will use are as follows:
Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops based on Limitless Online Tournament Platform deck spread and/or at least WIN a big official event once (Regionals, Internationals, or Special Event).
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops are based on the Limitless Online Tournament Platform deck spread.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. Can also include decks that can potentially top but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the local level, but cannot top an event.
Tops = 1st - 8th place.
This article is written based on the Crown Zenith format.
Item lock is having a rough ride in this format. However, there’s a deck that is still quite viable which is Vikavolt V. You can easily item lock your opponent in your first turn if you are going second because you can easily use Melony to accelerate your second energy. Besides item locking, you can also do some burst damage with its second attack dealing 190 damage which is quite enough if you already dealt some damage before.
Table of Contents
We start with the star of this deck, Vikavolt V. After we are rotating into the Sword and Shield era only, the deck somehow is lost in the radar being overshadowed by the other decks that have more firepower. But in recent months, people starting to look back at this card and think, “This might work!”. So, here we are, the Vikavolt V deck's successful run in recent tournaments really hype up the TCG scene because not only do we get to see Item lock being popular again, but we get to see so many deck variants that can win the tournament.
Now, let’s take a look at the card itself. It is a Lightning-type Pokemon so Speed Energy can be used to get an extra draw. It has 210 HP which is quite low in today’s standard because it is prone to OHKO where 220 damage is somewhat the minimum barrier in order to not get KO by the likes of Lugia VSTAR, Mew VMAX, or even Zacian V with its 230 damage. It also has the weakness of Fighting-type Pokemon so Pokemon like Galarian Zapdos V or Urshifu VMAX (both Single & Rapid Strike) can easily knock you out. But because Fighting-type Pokemon are not that popular right now, your main concern will be staying alive when getting hit by pure big damage. That’s where the Cape of Toughness comes in. You can easily increase your Vikavolt V’s HP by 50 by attaching Cape of Toughness to Vikavolt V so you can have a bigger HP base and survivability. I think this is the answer for Vikavolt V's survivability and you may also try to use Lake Acuity too but you need to beware because you can make your opponent benefit from it too.
Then, we look at where the fun part is, its first attack, Paralyzing Bolt. It has 2 energy as its attack cost where 1 of them is Lightning and 1 of them is Colorless. This can be very easy to meet if you have access to Melony. Then, its attack effect is very simple yet so sinister that you will prevent your opponent from playing any Item card. This is very sinister to do to your opponent yet very beneficial to us because right now almost all of the viable decks rely on Item cards. If your opponent can’t use any Item cards, this means that your opponent can’t set up their board properly and you can just continue locking them in the following turn. However, you only deal 50 damage which is small by today’s standard. But because you will be locking down your opponent, attacking bit by bit is not a bad way to chip down your opponent’s HP. However, if you want to go for burst damage, you can go use your second attack which has way more damage than its first attack.
The second attack, Super Zap Cannon, can do 190 damage with 2 Lightning Energy and 1 Colorless. It is an okay damage and I think if you already attacking so much using Paralyzing Bolt, using Super Zap Cannon can easily knock out your opponent because mathematically if you already use Paralyzing Bolt 2 times at the same Pokemon, you can knock almost any Pokemon VSTAR except Regigigas VSTAR. Then, if you already use Paralzing Bolt 3 times at the same Pokemon, you can easily knock any Pokemon VMAX. I think this can be a great attack because your opponent can be in a very late spot to retaliate because of the Item lock on the previous turns. However, even though you can do a big damage, there’s a downside to this attack where you need to discard 2 energy attached to your Vikavolt V. I think this is beyond reasonable because you can just discard 1 LIghtning Energy and 1 Water Energy then just use Melony the next turn to start Item locking again. I think this is a very great attack to synergize with your first attack.
Overall, Vikavolt V can be a very troublesome Pokemon to your opponent. It can easily lock your opponent from playing any Item card yet it can also do some decent damage. Sadly, Vikavolt V will be rotating out of the format very soon. But fear not, we will be having Banette ex as the substitute for the Item locking Pokemon. However, in Japan, we still have yet to see the best performance of Banette ex. I really hope we get to see another deck like Vikavolt V very soon because I think the format is not complete if we don’t have any disruption/control deck.
Up next, we have Mew. At the first of its release, people seem to hype it because its ability is quite similar to Jirachi but you can only take an Item card from its ability. However, over time, people seem to find that Mew is too different from Jirachi because it is not as versatile as Jirachi in terms of searching cards. Over time, Mew gains some sudden popularity due to people playing a ‘Turbo’ gameplay by incorporating Mew and Scoop Up Net. This kind of gameplay turns out to be a great thing for Vikavolt V player because you can now search for multiple Item cards by playing multiple Mew and play Melony to have a ‘Turbo’ acceleration so you can use your ‘Paralyzing Bolt’ in your first turn.
So far, Mew has its ups and downs in the current format because its ability is not as strong as people thought. As for post-rotation, I don’t think it will get any better because people will just go for the Lost Zone engine as it has better support with Colress’s Experiment, Cramorant, and Sableye. However, I think at some point in the future, there will be some decks that utilize Mew again because I don’t think Pokemon will just abandon that kind of engine as it becomes the highlight of the ‘Celebrations’ set.
As for how many copies you want to bring. I think bringing 2 copies will be the bare minimum and you may find a lot of inconsistencies if you only play 2 copies. But still, there are some decks out there that try to play with only 2 Mew yet they also play Diancie as their backup. But I think the safety net is around 3-4 copies because you want to at least start using Mew so you can start using its ability right away.
Then, we have our main supporter card, Melony. But why Melony? Because Vikavolt V’s first attack has a Colorless attack cost and you need to item lock the opponent quickly, the only energy acceleration we have that can do that is Melony. We can easily fill up Vikavolt V’s attack cost in a single turn while manually attaching the Lightning attack cost and using Melony at the same time to accelerate Water Energy from the discard pile to Vikavolt V. I think this is a very great combo that can be applied to not only Vikavolt V but to some Water-type Pokemon too because they can do this combo as well so they can play some high attack cost Water-type Pokemon to attack.
Not only Melony is useful to accelerate energy, but Melony is also a great way to draw cards. With only 3 cards drawn, I think this is not the greatest drawing power that we have right now. But if you combine it with the energy acceleration, this card somehow can be one of the most important supporters for some decks because you can easily accelerate your opponent while also drawing cards which is beneficial to you.
As for how many copies, because Vikavolt V deck somehow rely on Melony, I think bringing at least 3 copies is a must because you want to make sure that you can Item lock your opponent as fast as you can even when you are in your first turn going second. As for going forward, Melony still survives the rotation so you can experiment with the cards more. However, you need to remember that Melony only accelerates energy to Pokemon V.
Besides Vikavolt V and Mew, there are some Pokemon that can easily help them set up or even be a substitute attacker. Here are those Pokemon:
First, we have Raikou V. I think this is a very perfect choice if you want to play a Lightning-type deck because of how versatile Raikou V is. Its ability is a simple draw yet very useful in this kind of deck where you don’t have too many strong draw engines. However, you need to remember that you need to be on the active spot in order to activate your ability.
Then we look at its attack. It has a relatively cheap attack cost because that 1 Colorless can easily be filled using Melony in a single turn. However, the attack requirement for you to maximize your damage is depending on the quantity of both your and your opponent’s Benched Pokemon. If your opponent plays a tank/wall deck, it is quite likely that your opponent plays less Benched Pokemon. Hence, you will have lower damage output than usual. But right now, I think unless you meet Arceus VSTAR/Duraludon VMAX deck, you will still be in quite a good spot to fully maximize Raikou V’s attack.
As for how many you want to bring, I think even 1 copy of Raikou V can make a huge difference in this kind of deck because you can easily do big damage while also drawing cards. You can also utilize Sky Seal Stone or Forest Seal Stone on Raikou V because it is a Pokemon V.
Then let’s also take a look into Lumineon V. Lumineon V can be a very crucial Pokemon because we can easily use Lumineon V’s ability to search for a supporter especially Melony in the early game. Also, because in the Vikavolt deck, you will likely bring Water Energy, you can try to attack using Lumineon V to make Lumineon V come back to the deck. However, you need to beware that Lumineon V has a low HP for a Pokemon V and it can easily get knocked. Besides that, I think Lumineon V is a very great substitute for our good ol’ friend Tapu Lele-GX. So, I think having at least 1 Lumineon V is a must even if you don’t put it in your deck because at some point if you constantly test many decks, you may need 1 copy of Lumineon V.
Last but not least, let’s not forget Radiant Greninja. It can be a very great draw Pokemon because you can discard a Water Energy so you can activate Melony in your first turn going second. In terms of prize cards, Radiant Greninja is only a single-prize attacker so you won’t be in a big problem if it's getting knocked. But still, you will lose your draw power and may be in a tight spot if you don’t have a big draw power. Scoop Up Net is also available to Radiant Greninja, so you can easily ‘abuse’ its ability more than once.
I think this card will going to be more important if we are going to post-rotation because we will be losing some of the exact searchers so every bit of draw power will be very appreciated. As for how many copies you can bring, since you can only bring 1 Radiant Pokemon, I think it is what it is and just make sure you don’t prize it or get knocked early.
Other Things to Consider
Not only Pokémon but there are 6 cards that can make the Vikavolt V deck a very strong deck right now. Let's take a look!
Scoop Up Net
The first card in this section will be Scoop Up Net. I think we are already very familiar with this card because of how this card makes Lost Zone decks and Mew engine really powerful. You can easily put back your non-V/GX Pokemon to your hand which is very helpful if you are stuck in the active and want to put one of your Benched to the active spot. It is also an Item card which you can pick up using Mew’s ability so it is a great card in the Vikavolt V deck. However, because Scoop Up Net has a D regulation block, we won’t be seeing it in the next regulation as it will be rotated out. But still, you gotta use it while you can.
I think this card is very powerful and its usage can make new gameplays resulting in a ‘big brain’ play. I think even when this card is rotated out, Scoop Up Net will surely have a place in the Expanded format. In the Vikavolt V deck case, this card is very useful for scooping up Mew or just simply ‘abusing’ Radiant Greninja’s ability so you can draw more cards. Bringing 4 copies of Scoop Up Net is the go-to number when you play the Vikavolt V deck. But somehow people try to play with only 2-3 copies of Scoop Up Net.
The deck is not complete with this card. Why? Because Mew’s ability can search this card which is an Item card and you will need every bit of help of draw power so Trekking Shoes will be your choice. It works quite similarly to Acro Bike but instead of looking at 2 cards, you can only look at 1 and decide whether you want to discard that card or not. I think this card is somewhat strong in the current format if you can draw a good card. But if you somehow fail to dig the cards you want, it can end up quite horribly. But still, thinning your deck is often not a bad choice. You can also use Trekking Shoes to discard a Water Energy so you can activate your Melony which is a great thing to do.
But how about rotation? Trekking Shoes has an E Regulation Block so Trekking Shoes will not be going anywhere in this rotation so you can still use it. I think this card is very versatile and you can try to experiment with this card. Maybe, you can try to save up to 4 copies of Trekking Shoes just to broaden your card alternatives when building your deck. As for the Vikavolt V deck itself, I think the amount you play is up to you because I have seen a player not play any Trekking Shoes and another player just straight-up play 4 copies of it. I think it goes back to your preferred setup.
Battle VIP Pass
The Vikavolt V deck is not complete with this card. Battle VIP Pass may easily help you build up the board in your first turn, making it a highly strong card in various strategies. While Vikavolt V has difficulty drawing cards (Mew is searching not drawing), cards like Battle VIP Pass can be used to set up your board on your first turn if you missed out on your drawing cards or searcher cards. But, keep in mind that the Battle VIP Pass cannot be played if you are already on your second turn, making the card useless for the rest of the game. But don't worry, because you have so many discarding options, including Ultra Ball and Quick Ball, you may simply discard your unused Battle VIP Pass instead of your crucial cards. So, having multiple copies of this card is recommended in the Vikavolt V deck. Even if you don’t play the Vikavolt V deck, having 4 copies of Battle VIP Pass at stand-by is better than nothing because you can get creative in your deck building as you have more available options.
Forest Seal Stone
Forest Seal Stone is one of the new cards that have a phenomenal effect because you basically get a free search using this card. Then, because there are no Pokémon VSTAR in the Vikavolt V deck that uses VSTAR Power, you can use this card as much as you like. This is an excellent card for the Vikavolt V deck because they occasionally need a precise searcher in certain situations. Also, because this is a Trainer card, Path to the Peak has no effect on it, so you can use it whenever you play it. Nevertheless, you must attach it to a Pokémon V in order to utilize it; if you attach it to Mew or Radiant Greninja, you will not be able to use it.
I think this is a very great card in the Vikavolt V deck because it increases the consistency of the deck. So far, some decks bring 2 copies of the card because you can only use VSTAR Power once. However, even if you only bring 1, you can easily search them using Mew’s ability and bringing more will just take up the space for other cards.
Besides drawing Trainer cards, we can also try to utilize gusting cards like Cross Switcher. This can be easily utilized in the Vikavolt V deck because you will be playing Mew and searching for an Item card will be easy. However, you need to remember that in order to play Cross Switcher you need to play 2 cards at once. You also switch your Active Pokemon with your Benched Pokemon too so Cross Switcher will play similarly to Guzma. I think this can be a game changer because you are not using your supporter slot to play Boss’s Orders and instead play Item cards which can be played infinitely unless stated. As for how many copies, it is quite obvious if you want to play Cross Switcher, you need to bring all 4 copies of it because you need all the chances you have to draw it. If you don’t want to play Cross Switcher, I think you can try to play Pokemon Catcher to reduce your deck space. But flipping coins to gust your opponent may not go very well if you have a stroke of bad luck.
Lightning-type Pokemon is not complete without this special energy. Speed Energy is a very great addition to almost any Lightning-type Pokemon because it can help you to draw 2 extra cards if you attach the Speed Energy to a Lightning-type Pokemon. In the Vikavolt V deck, this can easily help you to draw more cards because you are quite limited in drawing power besides drawing supporter and Radiant Greninja. You also fill up your Lightning-type attack cost so it’s also a win-win situation.
However, the sad thing is that Speed Energy will rotate out and you will lose the drawing power some decks need. But because you still have Radiant Greninja, I think you still have some ways to draw although you won’t be drawing as much as now.
Now, all we talk before is how the deck is very sinister when locking down the opponent. But how is the deck's actual performance in big tournaments? Let’s find out!
First, we will look at the Regional San Diego winner, Gibson Archer-Tang. Here is the decklist:
First, we look at the Pokémon list. Of course, as the title of this snapshot, Vikavolt V is present with only 2 copies. I think this is reasonable because you only need 1 Vikavolt to start your Item lock. Then, Gibson plays Raikou V as the secondary attacker while also playing Zapdos from Pokemon GO to increase Vikavolt V or Raikou V’s attack. Mew is also being included in the deck and at 4 copies to ensure that you can find it easier and quicker. Radiant Greninja, Crobat V and Lumineon V are also in the deck to be the supporting Pokemon while Galarian Zigzagoon is also present so you can do a small 10 damage to the opponent where sometimes it is more than enough to take a knockout. However, there’s a very unique Pokemon that is included by Gibson. Ditto V is being played here because I think it can be used as a recycling Pokemon when 1 of your Basic Pokemon V is knocked and you can use your Ditto V’s ability to swap it. Drapion V is also being played and it’s an obvious choice because Mew VMAX is still highly played and popular. Last but not least, the ‘spicy’ thing in this deck is Aerodactyl VSTAR. It can be a very annoying card because you can easily lock your opponents such as Lugia VSTAR, Mew VMAX, or any other Pokemon V because its VSTAR Power allows you to be a ‘Path to the Peak’ to your opponent. This can be very disruptive if you manage to pull things off in your early turn because most of the time, your opponent won’t have the time to retaliate as you will also do an Item lock to your opponent. If you ever face this kind of deck and they manage to pull things of like that, I think you might as well just surrender because things can go very bad if you don’t have your answer in 2-3 turns. However, things may not seem to be that bad if you play the Lost Zone box because the only thing that’s stopping you will be the Item lock and Aerodactyl VSTAR’s VSTAR Power won’t affect you. I think this is a very ‘spicy’ tech that you can pull off because you may really lock your opponent
As for Supporter cards, Gibson only brings Melony, Judge, and Boss’s Orders. Melony is quite an obvious choice here because you can easily accelerate Water-type energy so you can do a turn one Paralyzing Bolt while also drawing 3 more cards. Judge is also a solid supporter where you can disrupt your opponent’s hand and unlike Marnie, you can disrupt their Top Deck strategy because Judge requires you to shuffle your hand. I think this is a great choice because you can use it anytime and not get limited to prize cards remaining like Roxanne. Then, the obvious choice for gusting is none other than Boss's Orders I think the choice is quite straightforward and the purpose of Boss’s Orders is as simple as that. You also have Cross Switcher so you can reduce the count of your Boss’s Orders in order to make space for the other cards. In my opinion, the Supporter cards selection is a great one and I don’t think many people will try to change it except by adding Roxanne or Serena.
Now we look at the searcher cards that Gibson brings. As you guys can see, Gibson plays 2 copies of Battle VIP Pass which I think that Gibson is not prioritizing too much on it. Then, Gibson plays 3 copies of Quick Ball and Ultra Ball which I think is perfectly reasonable because you need to make space for other cards as well. Last but not least, Gibson plays a Hisuian Heavy Ball. I think this is a great card to have in decks like this because you play a thin line of Pokemon cards where sometimes you can’t afford of having them prized. Hence, Hisuian Heavy Ball is being played in decks like this by Gibson.
Then for switching cards, Gibson plays 4 copies of Cross Switcher while also having 1 copy each of Switch Cart and Escape Rope. For Cross Switcher, I think this can be a great way to gust your opponent while also moving out your Mew after you use its ability in case you missed out on Scoop Up Net or other switching cards and can’t afford to retreat. Yes, you may be thinking it will be quite hard having 2 Cross Switcher at a time. But because we can use Mew’s ability to search for Item cards, I think the possibility of having 2 Cross Switcher at a single time will be easier. Also, if you can’t or don’t want to use it in your turn, you can just use it as a discarding material for Quick Ball and Ultra Ball. Then, Gibson still brings Switch Cart and Escape Rope because I think they both still do the job well and we can’t rely on Cross Switcher all the time. So by having Switch Cart and Escape Rope, we can still rotate our Pokemon on certain occasions. Last but not least, Gibson plays Air Balloon because Scoop Up Net can’t scoop all of your Pokemon and you need a card to retreat. That’s where Air Balloon comes in to help you retreat your Pokemon, especially Pokemon V.
For the other cards, Gibson brings 1 Forest Seal Stone because it is not always your go-to VSTAR Power as you sometimes will use Aerodactyl VSTAR’s VSTAR Power. So I think it is perfectly reasonable in bringing only 1 copy of Forest Seal Stone. Then, Gibson brings 4 copies of Scoop Up Net to scoop up Pokemon such as Mew, Galarian Zigzagoon and Radiant Greninja. I think this will be the go-to number if you play cards such as those mentioned before. Next, Gibson also plays Trekking Shoes to help Gibson to dig more cards. Last but not least, Gibson brings 2 copies of Energy Search. I think these will be your go-to cards if you want to have a successful first turn Melony because you can either search for a Lightning Energy card or a Water Energy card.
As for the stadium cards, Gibson only brings 1 copy of Training Court. I think this is still beyond reasonable because not only you can still recycle cards using Melony, but your Pokemon also is not using a lot of energy to attack unless a specific situation arises.
That’s it for Gibson's decks. I think this is a very solid deck where Vikavolt will be your main locking mechanism and Aerodactyl VSTAR also helps the deck to be more disruptive by also locking up the abilities of your opponent’s Pokemon V. I think this deck is very strong in terms of locking mechanism and hence the deck wins in San Diego. Congratulations!
Next, we have Alex Schemanske who got 8th Place in Regional Knoxville. Quite Similar to Gibson, Ales plays almost quite the similar Vikavolt V/Aerodactyl VSTAR deck. Here is the deck:
Overall, Alex plays almost exactly the same 60 as Gibson as the list itself is quite limited in card pool and even with that limitation, the deck still works fine. However, there are 3 different cards in Alex’s deck that differs from Gibson’s. First, Alex plays Marnie which I think is to have more disruption options as I still think this is reasonable because playing both Marnie and/or Judge gives you the same disruption although in a quite different way. Also, it can be a better choice if you go with the same card all the way. Then, the second card will be the new card, Sky Seal Stone. I think playing Sky Seal Stone can be your way to quickly take more Prize cards as you are facing decks like Lugia VSTAR or Mew VMAX, you can take advantage by using it to take more prize cards so you can keep up with their fast pace. Last but not least, Alex plays Lost Vacuum in order to pick off the enemy’s Tool card or to bump out the active Stadium card because sometimes it can be incredibly messy if your opponent plays a card like a Path to the Peak.
I think the deck itself is already strong because even with multiple sets released, the card still holds pretty well. We also see that Alex also includes a brand new card from Crown Zenith, Sky Seal Stone, to further improve the deck. Overall, I think the deck is very strong in terms of Item locking and you just need to find your perfect 60 because it may not be the same as the 2 mentioned above.
The last example will be from Mateusz ?aszkiewicz who got won the Regional Stuttgart back in December using the Vikavolt V deck but paired with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR. Here is the decklist:
The Pokémon composition that Ryan brings is quite similar to Gibson’s and Alex’s. However, Mateusz also brings Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR as another attacker for the deck. I think this deck is more of a Turbo Palkia rather than a Turbo Vikavolt because Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR itself can be a great attacker. However, because there’s Vikavolt V in the deck, why not discuss it too?
As for the other cards besides Pokemon, Mateusz actually plays quite similar Trainer cards with Gibson and Alex where the only difference is the amount for each card. For example, Mateusz decides to go for a full copy of Battle VIP Pass and Trekking Shoes while reducing the number of Quick Ball and Ultra Ball. Mateusz also plays 2 copies of Lost Vacuum which I think is a great choice because Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR’s VSTAR Power is an ability and it can be troublesome if you can’t use it. However, there’s a new card that we don’t see in other decks which are Echoing Horn. Echoing Horn is a great choice in this deck because you can use Echoing Horn and gust the opponent so you can take an easy knockout using Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR or Raikou V because both Pokemon have the highest damage potential. Other than that, I think this is a very great deck that utilizes Vikavolt V to a very great extent. It is just sad that Vikavolt V will be rotating out of the format soon.
Now we come to the tier conclusion. I think with all of the achievements winning Regionals and multiple tops we can say that Vikavolt V decks have their place in the top-tier meta. However, some people will disagree because this kind of deck is supposed to be a rouge deck that will become the underdog of the meta. I myself agree with that opinion as the deck itself requires you to have an element of surprise by locking down your opponent.
But, it is what it is and based on the achievement and very amazing performance of the deck, the deck will be a Tier 1 deck. But still, I think some people will agree that this deck is a Pseudo Tier 1 despite its achievement in recent tournaments. I just hope that Banette ex will get to perform better so we will see very strong Item locking decks all the time in any format.
What do you guys think of the Vikavolt V deck? It has a very strong locking mechanism and if you combine it with another Pokemon such as Aerodactyl VSTAR, you can create a nightmare for your opponent. You can also combine it with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR to make a Turbo Water/Lightning deck that has a powerful attacker yet a sinister Item lock Pokemon. Comment down below to share your thoughts!
This is an ongoing project on pokemoncard.io and I really appreciate all the feedback. I plan to do this on a monthly basis so you can at least grasp what is happening over the month and I think it is a very safe cycle time considering that our set is not released once a month so you guys can still see how the format goes.
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There may be some mistakes and missing points of review in this writing. Please kindly comment to share your correction and point of view too.