Hey, I’m Jack Millar, a Pokémon TCG player from Australia and I recently won the Pokémon Players Cup Finals. Another Australian player, Matthew Burris also used the exact same anti-meta deck as me and placed second, so the tournament was a huge success for us! In this article I will go over how we created the deck, which you can use on Pokemon TCG Online as well, how we thought the matchups played out heading into the finals and how my rounds went.

Creation of the Pokemon TCG Deck

When it was revealed that the finals would be played using the post rotation format, Matt and I immediately started looking at the big cards from the new set, Centiskorch VMAX and Eternatus VMAX. Our early testing led us to consider playing a very simple and straightforward Eternatus VMAX (Pokemon TCG Online code is available at our store) list, our deck just aimed to put on as much pressure as possible as early as possible, and this list achieved this.

Pokémon (20)
4 Crobat V
4 Galarian Zigzagoon
3 Alolan Grimer UNM
1 Hoopa UNM

Trainer (31)
4 Professor’s Research
2 Marnie
4 Boss's Orders
4 Quick Ball
4 Great Ball
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Scoop Up Net
3 Air Balloon
2 Reset Stamp

Energy (9)
8 Dark Energy
1 Capture Energy

After thinking about it more, we realized that we couldn't just play the most powerful deck in the format and expect it to work out, especially with a deck as linear as this one. In an open tournament like a Regional or International Championship, you can get away with playing more linear strategies because you will play against less prepared opponents, and the whole system of 9 rounds discourages people from playing specific counter decks. However, at this tournament, there were only 16 players and a high prize pool, which significantly lowered the sample size of rounds you would play against and meant you had a higher chance of playing against only tier 1 Pokemon TCG decks. It also meant that you could be significantly more rewarded for playing a hard-counter deck because you had a significantly lower chance to play against lower-tier decks.

Because of this, we started to look at more "off the wall decks" for this event. After some discussion, Matt realised that most Centiskorch VMAX lists were not playing a counter to Bronzong TEU and that Zamazenta V (PTCGO code is available at our store) with Metal Goggles was a very effective wall against Eternatus VMAX. Both ideas were combined into one deck and this was the original list we had.

Pokémon (13)
3 Bronzor
2 Bronzong
1 Eldegoss V

Trainer (33)
4 Professor’s Research
4 Marnie
2 Boss's Orders
2 Mallow & Lana
4 Quick Ball
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Crushing Hammer
4 Metal Saucer
3 Metal Goggles
2 Switch
1 Air Balloon
2 Chaotic Swell

Energy (11)
11 Metal Energy

There was obviously still refining to do before we got to the final list, but the concept is still apparent. Bronzong deals with Centiskorch VMAX, Zamazenta V deals with Eternatus VMAX and Full Metal Wall GX with Metal Goggles on a Zacian V (get your Pokemon TCGO code) gives ADP/Zacian a hard time. After making this original list, we realized that disruptive cards like Crushing Hammer and Chaotic Swell didn’t impact whether we won the game or not in every matchup. This was because our matchups were primarily decided by whether we set up and if our opponent had a counter to our deck or not. Because of this, we dedicated those card slots to more consistent cards. We also realized that you need to refresh Zacian V constantly against ADP/Zacian, which made us increase the Switch count to 4. We also moved up to 4 Metal Goggles because, even though you only need one or two per game in most matchups, it was so necessary to draw early to prevent Galarian Zigzagoon SSH pings. Additionally, with our deck lacking draw power from the like of Jirachi TEU, Dedenne GX or Crobat V, we realized that playing 4 Metal Goggles is necessary. After testing the deck for several weeks, we arrived at this final list for the tournament.

Pokémon (12)
2 Bronzor TEU
2 Bronzong TEU

Trainer (35)
4 Professor’s Research
3 Marnie
2 Boss's Orders
2 Mallow & Lana
1 Cynthia & Caitlyn
4 Quick Ball
4 Pokémon Communication
4 Metal Saucer
4 Metal Goggles
4 Switch
3 Tag Call

Energy (13)
13 Metal Energy

Card Explanations

Zacian V

You need to see this card (also Pokemon TCG code card) on the first turn for your deck to work, Intrepid Sword is your primary method of drawing cards since you spend a lot of turns not attacking in the early game. Brave Blade is also a useful attack against some decks but is only your main attacker against other Zacian V Pokemon TCG decks.

Full Metal Wall GX is the lifeblood of the deck. Having a blanket effect which prevents 30 damage done to all your Metal Pokémon is so important in every single matchup. You never want to bench a second one of these because your bench will generally consist of one Lucario & Melmetal and 2 two-prize Pokémon which forces your opponent to take three knockouts to win the game, off setting the drawback of this ]okémon giving up 3 Prize cards.

Zamazenta V

This was specifically for the Eternatus VMAX matchup, but it turns out that it's also useful against any VMAX deck that isn’t Centiskorch VMAX. Sometimes you can run into issues with the poison from Crobat V’s attack if you prize the second Zamazenta V and your opponent has knocked out all of your other Pokémon, but this was such a specific moment we didn’t deem it necessary to include the third one.

2 Bronzor TEU, 2 Bronzong TEU
This card is your primary win condition against any fire deck. There was no real reason to play a non-fire attacker in a Centiskorch VMAX deck going into this tournament so this card will usually single-handedly win you the matchup. You only use one Bronzong per game, as if one gets knocked out, the second one usually can too, but you need a 2-2 line to prevent it being prized. This deck also uses the Bronzor with the Evolutionary Advantage Ability to evolve on your first turn when going second.

4 Professor’s Research, 3 Marnie
You need a high draw supporter count in this deck, the Cynthia & Caitlyn took place of the fourth Marnie to increase the value Tag Call had.

2 Boss’s Orders
This might seem like a low count but aside from the ADP/Zacian matchup Boss’s Orders is almost a dead card because it doesn’t affect your win condition. It is so strong against ADP/Zacian, however, that we kept it as a two count.

2 Mallow & Lana
The healing effect combined with the Switch is very good in this deck, especially getting rid of the poison from Crobat V’s attack. It also gives value to the Tag Calls which is nice.

1 Cynthia & Caitlyn
This card took place over the fourth Marnie because it gives the deck an out to draw cards from a Tag Call as well as recovering a Mallow & Lana or Boss’s Orders. We considered a second one but could never find the space.

4 Quick Ball, 4 Pokémon Communication
You need to find Pokémon to set up, specifically a Zacian V on the first turn. Pokémon Communication is also the best way to search out Bronzong.

4 Metal Saucer
This deck only has Metal Pokémon and Metal Energy so playing 4 Metal Saucer made sense. It can sometimes be trapped in your hand if you don’t draw Metal Energy early on but having the four is way too useful in the games where you need it.

4 Metal Goggles
This card is what made the deck work, it prevents the pings from Galarian Zigzagoon and the damage resist is so crucial to your matchups. If you could consider playing over four copies of this card I would because of how crucial it is.

4 Switch
Against other decks playing Zacian V having access to 4 Switch is very important to reset Brave Blade. It's also helpful to have your entire board be mobile so none of your Pokémon can get trapped in the active spot.

3 Tag Call
This card wasn’t in our original list, but we realized that the deck needed another card to help you set up. Tag Call fulfills multiple purposes because it grabs Lucario & Melmetal GX and Mallow & Lana to switch into it or grabbing Cynthia & Caitlyn to draw cards. With the second Lucario & Melmetal GX it also gives another out to utilize Pokémon Communication. Because the deck doesn’t have too many Tag Team cards, Tag Call can lose value in the late game, but its such a good card to have in your opening hand that we decided to play three. If you wanted to cut a card from this list, I would cut the third Tag Call.

13 Metal Energy
While 13 might seem like an overly high count of basic energy you don’t have Dedenne GX, Crobat V or Energy Spinner to help you draw them. We also realized that hitting energy off Intrepid Sword is extremely important to having 13 seemed like a fine count.

Notable Exclusions

Guzma & Hala
This card (and Pokemon TCGO code card) seems good initially because it is searchable off Tag Call and is an easy out to Metal Goggles but in reality, this was too slow because you have to use your entire turn and discard two cards in order to get one Tool card. Most of the time a better use of a Supporter is Professor’s Research or Marnie to try and draw into your Metal Goggles.

Chaotic Swell
While playing 0 counter Stadiums might seem like a bad idea at first, we realized that this deck doesn’t care about any stadium in play. None of the stadiums in the format really affect your win condition so we concluded that Chaotic Swell is a redundant card in this deck.

Tool Scrapper
This is a direct counter to defensive tools in ADP/Zacian Pokemon TCG decks, Big Charms, Cape of Toughness’s and opposing Metal Goggles. We didn’t think it was that necessary to include this card because we didn’t see a reason for opposing ADP/Zacian decks to include these tools and we were worried about our deck having awkward hands in the early game.

Matchup %s

Eternatus VMAX / 90-10 (without Spiritomb/Dangerous Drill) / 60-40 (with Spiritomb/Dangerous Drill)

Eternatus VMAX

Eternatus VMAX struggles a lot to deal with Zamazenta V with a Metal Goggles. Spiritomb UNB and Dangerous Drill can make it easier for them to deal with Zamazenta V but it’s still difficult for them because Mallow & Lana reverses a whole attack and the Spiritombs need time to build their spite. However, there was no real reason to play Spiritomb or Dangerous Drill for this tournament, so we felt very comfortable about this matchup.

ADP Zacian 60-40 (with no defensive tools or Tool Scrapper) / 50-50 (with either defensive tools or Tool Scrapper) / 40-60 (with both defensive tools and Tool Scrapper)
We were worried about the inclusion of defensive tools such as Big Charm or Cape of Toughness in these decks because the plan we wanted to go for was to take one hit knockouts on opposing Zacian Vs while our opponent was taking a two hit knockout on our Zacian V. An inclusion of Tool Scrapper could also cause worry because it would allow their Zacian Vs to take one hit knockouts on our Zacian Vs for three prize cards. However, we played the matchup a lot with the tools and the Tool Scrapper the day before decklist submission was due and realized that we can poke with Steel Fist from the Lucario and Melmetal GX in order to break the defensive tools and allow our Zacian Vs to then come in and knock out while an opposing Zacian V cannot knock out a Lucario & Melmetal GX in one attack. When practicing the matchup we also realized that we cannot allow the ADP player to use Ultimate Ray because that puts way too much energy into play way too quickly for us to deal with and pokes through the Metal Goggles allowing their Zacian V to clean up a knockout even after a Mallow & Lana. Because of this, we decided that we should time the Full Metal Wall GX right after they use Altered Creation GX in order to prevent this play from happening. The matchup can go either way and it is by far the closest and most tense matchup we can play against. We felt more comfortable about this matchup because we saw no reason for the ADP/Zacian decks to include Tool Scrapper or defensive tools.

Centiskorch VMAX / 50-50 (Without Bronzong counter) / 5-95 (With a Bronzong counter)
Going into this event we saw little reason for Centiskorch Vmax decks to play a counter to Bronzong. However, after the tournament, we realized that if they play a Victini V and an Eldegoss V they can use a strategy involving using Centiskorch V’s first attack Radiating Heat to discard all our energy since Bronzong only prevents damage from fire Pokémon not effects. They can use Victini V’s first attack Spreading Flames to make sure they never run out of energy and then use this in combination with Eldegoss V’s first attack Float Up to guarantee that they never deck out and we will eventually run out of cards with all of our energy gone. If they play Eldegoss V we must attach energy to Bronzong because then they could just use Spreading Flames and Float Up to have an infinite number of cards in their deck. This was a definite oversight from us in testing because we just assumed that setting up Bronzong meant the game was over. The matchup is still winnable because, depending on what we started with, we can use Full Metal Wall GX (to make sure that, in conjunction with Metal Goggles, that Bronzong took 0 damage from Float Up) and still make another Bronzong or bench a Zacian V because that allows us to have our Bronzong on the bench. With Bronzong being on the bench we can use multiple Metal Saucer to it and get ahead in attachments and still take 6 prizes because Radiating Heat can only discard one energy at a time. Like I said before, this was a definite oversight on our part, but the matchup is still winnable even if they know that specific line of play. With a Dubwool V or Cramorant V, however, the matchup is almost impossible, you must hope that the Centiskorch VMAX Pokemon TCG deck had a completely dead hand to have a chance.

Decidueye variants / 95-5
After Full Metal Wall GX and Metal Goggles, Decidueye decks have a maximum damage output of 30 against our Bronzong which takes a five-hit knockout. Bronzong takes a two-hit knockout on Decidueye and confuses them. Decidueye is also a stage two while Bronzong is stage one. You can even use Mallow & Lana to remove four attacks from the Decidueye. Even if they somehow knock out two Bronzongs or you prize both, after Full Metal Wall and Metal Goggles the Decidueye deck cannot damage Zacian V or Zamazenta V because of their grass resistance. This wasn’t a Pokemon TCG deck we were intending on hard countering, but it was nice to have this other anti-meta deck checked as an easy win.

Inteleon VMAX / 75-25
The inclusion of Lapras V in this deck can be scary but if you are able to use Brave Blade to deal with it the turn it comes down this matchup tends to play out similarly to the Eternatus VMAX matchup with Zamazenta V walling most of the attacks. The main strength of Inteleon VMAX is its 60-damage snipe and when all our Pokémon resist 60 damage from every attack Inteleon VMAX becomes a very mediocre deck.

Tournament Report

When the decklists went up the first thing Matt and I noticed were the high number Big Charms and Cape of Toughness’s in ADP/Zacian Pokemon TCG decks, significantly more than we had expected. We immediately regretted not including Tool Scrapper over the third Tag Call and weren’t feeling too amazing anymore. Luckily, we both had very good first round matchups, Matt up against a Green’s Exploration Centiskorch VMAX and me up against Decidueye/Obstagoon.

Winners Round 1 vs Decidueye/Obstagoon
After seeing the swarm of Big Charms and Cape of Toughness’s being paired against Decidueye/Obstagoon in the first round was relieving. Like I said in the matchup overviews, Bronzong is the MVP against this deck. If you can set up a Bronzong with Full Metal Wall GX and a Metal Goggles, it is very difficult for the Decidueye deck to have a chance of winning. This was also the only round which wasn’t officially streamed so I will go into slightly more detail.

In the first game, I went first and had a very good opening hand which involved a Quick Ball and some Metal Energy as well as an active Lucario & Melmetal GX. I Quick Ball for a Zacian V, attach to my active Lucario & Melmetal GX and intrepid sword. My opponent uses a Marnie and ends up setting up a Decidueye the next turn. I slowly set up my board, manually attaching to Bronzongs and waiting to use Full Metal Wall GX until I could discard energy off a Decidueye. My opponent’s deck didn’t play Boss’s Orders in his deck which gave me a huge advantage because they weren’t able to pressure my Bronzongs on the bench. Because of this, I was able to set up two Bronzongs with metal goggles and my opponent conceded the game shortly after.

The second game was closer than the first. My opponent opted to go first, and my hand was interesting; Lucario & Melmetal GX, Mallow & Lana, Metal Goggles, two Metal Energy, and both Bronzongs. They play out their first turn and then I draw a professor’s research. Even though I cannot progress my hand at all because I cannot afford to discard both Bronzong and so I am forced to wait for a few turns. Thankfully, my Lucario & Melmetal GX can take a few hits and I topdeck a Pokémon Communication. This was easily the best card I could draw because it allowed me to shuffle a Bronzong back in as well as get a Bronzor. I decided to hold off on using the professor's research in order to guarantee the Bronzong next turn.

The game becomes scary here however because my opponent starts using scoop up net and Zigzagoon to damage my Bronzor. Even as it evolves into Bronzong I struggle to find metal goggles and it continues to receive damage until a knockout almost happens. I got extremely lucky in this situation to find out my opponent had prized his second Galarian Zigzagoon, which put him 10 damage away from a knockout on my Bronzong. The next turn I finally drew metal goggles and was able to Mallow & Lana away all my opponent’s damage and they conceded several turns later. I think even if their Galarian Zigzagoon was not prized the game would not be over because I would be able to wait and bench a Bronzor with metal goggles which they cannot touch. After this, I would eventually set up Bronzong and win.

Winners Round 2 vs Eternatus VMAX
This was also a good second-round matchup. My opponent's deck had no realistic counters to Zamazenta V so I was feeling pretty good heading in.
I won the flip again and went first. My opening hand had some Zamazenta Vs and a Quick Ball. I was able to Quick Ball for Zacian V and start using Intrepid Sword. My opponent had a very suboptimal start which involved discarding a lot of Darkness Energy and whiffing attachments. This slow start allowed me to get an attacking Zamazenta V with a Metal Goggles and use Full Metal Wall GX before they were able to take a prize card. This put me in an incredibly favored position to win as I was able to just click the Assault Tackle button until I won the game.

In the next game, my opponent opted to go first, and my hand was slightly less than optimal. My starter was Bronzor which is by far the least optimal starter in this matchup. If you had a hand like mine which forced you to the intrepid sword then you cannot full metal wall because that allows the Eternatus player to take their 6 prizes without touching a Zamazenta V, by knocking out Lucario & Melmetal GX, Zacian V, and Bronzor. Luckily, the lack of full metal wall in this game wasn’t felt because my opponent never attacked with Crobat V. In this game, I also prized my second Zamazenta V which my opponent can abuse if they attack with Crobat V and poison it because if they force me to have a field of just Zamazenta V and prevent me from taking prizes that poison damage will eventually win them the game. Thankfully, my opponent didn’t go for that line and I was able to knock out an Eternatus VMAX and draw the Zamazenta V as my first prize. After this I was able to set the second Zamazenta V up and, just like the first game, click assault tackle until I won.

Winners Round 3 vs Inteleon VMAX
Tord Reklev’s Inteleon VMAX deck was something nobody expected to see play in this event. Before I played against it, Matthew Burris and I had discussed the matchup a little and agreed that dealing with Lapras V was the important part. This was also the highest-pressure game of the tournament for me because it was the win and in to top 4 and to the travel award.

In the first game, I go first and I’m able to have a good start. In this matchup specifically, open decklists were very helpful because I was able to see that there was a Lapras V in my opponent's Pokemon TCG deck which told me that I needed to set up a Zacian V to deal with it at some point. This changed how I played from the first turn because I started attaching energy to my Zacian V when normally I would have likely gone for a play which just involved attacking with two Zamazenta V, like the Eternatus matchup. Because of that, my opponent got to use 1 attack with Lapras V before my Zacian V was able to deal with it. After that, I could rotate between attacking with Zacian V and Zamazenta V until I won the game. After Lapras V was dealt with, my opponent’s damage output was capped at 100 which knocks out one of my pokémon in three attacks. Mallow & Lana is also able to completely undo one of these attacks. This matchup ended up being heavily favorable for me because my opponent’s pokémon just don’t deal enough damage to compete with mine.

The second game started in a very similar way to the first one. My opponent opted for me to go first which was not what I expected. My deck prefers to go first because of intrepid sword however my opponent’s deck requires a huge setup so them opting to go second to use the first supporter makes sense to me. I was able to get a Lucario & Melmetal GX and a Zacian V down on the first turn and use an intrepid sword, starting to set up my deck again. The game continued to be relatively even until a pivotal turn where my opponent was able to knock out my Zacian V with a Lapras V to try and get the Lapras V to stick.

However, I was able to play two Metal Saucers and power up a second Zacian V to deal with the Lapras V, basically locking up the game in my favor.

After this game I was very relieved, having locked up the travel award. Matt and I were also excited when we realized that we were going to play each other in the winner’s finals, guaranteeing our Pokemon TCG deck in the grand finals.

Winners Finals vs 60 card mirror
Neither of us had played a single game of the mirror match before the tournament. From the little discussion we had, we assumed that the player who can set up more Zacian Vs would win.
The mirror match ended up being extremely tempo heavy when we played it, with the correct time to use Full Metal Wall GX often being to try and gain the tempo advantage. We both were also leveraging the use of an intrepid sword because the deck struggles to draw many cards. In the first game, I was able to set up two Zacian Vs before Matt was able to set up one and this allowed me to gain huge tempo advantage and win the game. The second game was a bit closer, however. We both used Full Metal Wall GX on each other’s Lucametal which left our Zacian Vs to trade with each other. There reached a critical point in the game where I was able to switch easier between my Zacian Vs which allowed me to retain energy between them while Matt had to retreat several times. This eventually led to him running out of resources and me winning the game.

At this point, I was happy to be in the grand finals, no matter what the outcome was from here we were satisfied with the deck’s performance as we had managed to guarantee 2nd and 3rd by this stage.

Grand Finals vs 60 card mirror
Going into the finals I had the whole next day to think about my deck and how it would pair with whatever deck I went up against. By this point in the tournament, the only deck I was worried about playing against was the ADP deck which Victor Freitas was playing. The Metal Goggles would be rough for our deck to deal with because our primary strategy in that matchup would be a lot worse. Luckily, Matt was able to defeat Victor in the loser’s finals which meant the grand finals would be an exact mirror match again. When this happened, we were both excited, the deck had significantly exceeded our expectations and we could barely believe that it had already won the tournament without the grand finals being played.

When we started playing the finals, I was nervous but excited. I was also feeling confident because I had won the mirror before but still anything could happen. In game one I lost the opening coin flip and went second. However, I was able to get the first Brave Blade onto another Zacian V by using Boss’s Orders which gave me a significant tempo advantage in the game. We continued attacking with Zacian Vs back and forth until ultimately me getting the first attack allowed me to put on too much pressure and take the first game. The second game started similarly to the first one, I was able to get put pressure on early with Brave Blade which put Matt on the back foot. There was a very pivotal turn in which he needed to draw a Switch and a Metal Energy to attack with a clean Zacian V, however, he missed the Metal Energy and was instead forced to use two Switches to reset his Brave Blade which game me a significant tempo lead and ultimately allowed me to chain Brave Blades significantly easier than him which ended in my winning this game and being the champion!

Closing thoughts

Overall, I was happy with how my run at the tournament went. It’s difficult to be disappointed with the deck you make takes first and second! However, I do not feel very optimistic about the future of this Pokemon TCG deck. Now that Bronzong is known about all the fire decks can play counters to it which makes this surprising strategy significantly worse. Even so, this deck has done its job well. I was also satisfied with how the battlefly tournaments were run, both the finals and the regional qualifiers started on time and had very few issues which I was thankful about. Obviously, there was some controversy about using the tournament rep to qualify but TPCI has addressed this by including tournament keys for the recently announced Players Cup II.

Thank you for reading my first article detailing my run through the Players Cup Finals, I hope to be writing more in the future!