What’s up guys, welcome to my first article here on the blog of PTCGO Store. I’m pleased to be part of this amazing team of writers and can’t wait to see what we will be up to in the future. 

With rotation being about a month ago away and the new set Evolving Skies being released on the 27th of August, I wanted to take the time and look ahead to see what we can expect from the 2022 rotation and the future path that the Pokémon TCG will take. I want to mainly focus on the actual format, which cards or archetypes will be the most popular, and how the disappearance of certain cards from the Sun & Moon sets will change the viability of some Sword & Shield cards for the better or for worse. However, considering the world's circumstances, I also want to give some predictions concerning the continuation of real-life and online events.

First of all, I want to look at cards that we won’t see any more that will have a significant impact on our upcoming format, whether or not it might be by weakening or strengthening archetypes that will still stay around. I won’t be talking about Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX in the upcoming part because I don’t really consider it a card that helps an archetype. Instead, I generated a couple of decks purely built around Altered Creation GX.

Mew (Unbroken Bonds) 

Mew

The first card I want to talk about is Mew from Unbroken Bonds. In my opinion, Mew is the biggest loss to the 2022 rotation because it is not around opening up a bunch of strategies revolving around dealing damage to benched Pokémon that previously were already strong but were still being checked by it. The prime example of an archetype that really enjoys seeing Mew gone is Rapid Strike. When Battle Styles PTCGO codes came around, Rapid Strike Urshifu Vmax quickly became one of the most popular and arguably best archetypes, always being among the Top 5 most played Pokémon online decks in tournaments and even taking multiple top spots in the Player’s Cup 3 Global Finals, piloted by none other than Azul GG and Tord Reklev. Chilling Reign brought even more additions to the Rapid Strike archetype, most notably Blaziken Vmax and Zeraora V. Zeroaora hasn’t seen much play yet. Still, Mew being gone and Flaafy being added in Evolving Skies, giving the deck energy acceleration even without having to use Blaziken Vmax might be just what it needed to be a force to be reckoned with. Talking about Evolving Skies and Rapid Strike, most people are probably immediately thinking about the new Rayquaza Vmax, which, combined with the previously mentioned Flaafy, is expected to be one of the most interesting Pokemon online decks from the new set. You might wonder why I’m mentioning Rayquaza when we’re still taking a look at how Mew rotating will affect the format, and the reason for that is that we get a new Rapid Strike tool. Rapid Strike Scroll of the Flying Dragon allows you to discard two energies from the Pokémon using the attack to do 90 damage to one of your opponent’s Pokémon. Ist energy cost of one Lightning Energy and one Fire Energy makes it a perfect fit for Rayquaza Vmax. It can be an interesting tech card to finish/set up kos, or even for the mirror match to get rid of your opponent’s Flaafys.
As you can see, there are many good sniping cards in the upcoming format that will definitely see a lot of play without Mew in the equation.

Reset Stamp 

Reset Stamp

Next up is a card that I’m personally unfortunate to see go – Reset Stamp. For the longest time, Reset Stamp has been our only real way to disrupt our opponent when they get ahead in the game, to try and still somewhat come back into it. With stamp being gone and no card with a similar effect on either a Supporter or Item card on the horizon, it’s looking a lot like potential comeback will mostly come down to either player trying to get their opponent away from the game-winning cards by using Marnie, which still gets the other player to five cards (four from Marnie plus one draw for turn), which usually won’t be enough to prevent the game-winning play. Considering that our metagame will most likely purely revolve around Vmax Pokémon and their support, it’s looking like most games will come down purely to which player can get the tempo into their favor first without missing a beat. I expect that this will result in most decks opting for more consistent cards to guarantee that you can execute your game plan perfectly without having to worry about missing basic Pokémon, evolutions, or Supporter cards.
A way that will not force players to fully rely on three-prize Pokémon smacking each other down is using strategies that allow you to knockout multiple Pokémon in turn, allowing you to play around the aggression that some decks try to apply. The Rapid Strike archetype is definitely the best way to take advantage of that strategy. Still, I also expect a lot of other archetypes opting for builds featuring Inteleon from Chilling Reign because not only does it allow you to set up knockout, but it also allows you to run Drizzile and Inteleon from Sword & Shield for some additional consistency. I have absolutely no doubt that we will see many new Inteleon builds shortly.

Gengar & Mimikyu GX 

Gengar and Mimikyu Gx

The last card (and a major loss for a post-rotation archetype) is Gengar & Mimikyu GX. Currently, most Shadow Rider games start with a very slow first turn, mostly looking for basic Pokémon to put down, followed by an oppressive second turn where Gengar & Mimikyu GX usually uses ist GX attack for two energies, not only giving the Shadow Rider player some additional cards but also taking away a turn from your opponent (unless they already set up a way to hit into the Gengar & Mimikyu without having to play any cards from their hand.  After that, the Shadow Rider deck usually tries to flood the board with energies and running (or galloping if you like puns) over their opponent. Losing this GX attack surely hurts the Shadow Rider deck, but based on all the cards the deck still has access to is definitely a fair loss. This only means that it’s now more vulnerable to weaker early turns or not finding enough basic Shadow Rider Calyrex. It’s still an incredible deck that now might decide to go second to use Cresselia’s attack to get more energies into play to set up a good board to put on some pressure.
Losing Gengar/Mimiyku is, without a doubt, a hit for Shadow Rider. Still, looking at the other decks around and the Galarian Articuno from Evolving Skies, it’s definitely not a hit that will push Shadow Rider out of the top decks, but instead, a rotation that makes it more predictable to play against, which usually isn’t the worst thing to happen in a format when super aggressive and oppressive deck get a little more playable for other decks.

The best decks for the new season

I do not doubt that the three best and most popular Pokémon online decks (at least until we get a new set) will be Rapid Strike Urshifu, Ice Rider, and Shadow Rider. I think Rapid Strike Urshifu will be the best archetype out of the three and, therefore, the turning point for the metagame. Mew not being in format anymore and gaining access to Medicham V puts Urshifu/Inteleon into a spot where it’s going to be key for any other deck trying to get into tier 1 to find a way to even out the matchup versus Urshifu/Inteleon. 

Urshifu Vmax Inteleon

Shadow Rider is on a good track to do so because it can abuse the fact that Urshifu Vmax is weak to psychic while also dealing with most other Vmax decks because of Alcreamie Vmax’s “infinite” damage cap. It also helps that Shadow Rider gets some additional support from Evolving Skies: Galarian Articuno (Galarian Articuno allows you to attach up to two psychic energies to it when you play it from your hand). Getting additional energies in play by using an ability on a basic Pokémon is definitely exactly what Shadow Rider is looking for. Access to this ability might even lead to a super consistent version of the deck that only uses Shadow Rider Calyrex and Galarian Articuno to flood the board with energies, not even worrying about covering its darkness weakness or anything else.

Shadow Rider Calyrex Vmax 
  
 I’m not fully sold on Ice Rider yet, but Ice Rider Calyrex Vmax combined with Inteleon and Melony is just such a solid card and all-around strategy that I can’t really see it not being among the top tier decks, at least for now. Unfortunately, I don’t think that Evolving Skies will introduce any major archetypes to the format because many of the cards still lack some pieces to be on the same power level as the previously mentioned decks. Rayquaza Vmax is the closest to being part of them, but with mew being rotated and needing multiple-stage 1s on your field to deal the necessary amount of damage to keep up. With the current support, Rayquaza Vmax/Flaafy looks like a less consistent version of the Ultra Necrozma/Malamar deck from 2019, and deck that was already notorious for having struggles setting up a good amount of the time. Maybe with some additional consistency support and a way to block damage to the bench, the deck will find its way into the format, but as for now, I can’t really see it happening.

Ice Rider Calyrex Vmax Melony
  
Unfortunately for all the people that love to play one-prizer decks or try strategies that aren’t the usual beat down plans and were hoping that the loss of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX would help those Pokemon online decks to be more viable, I have bad news as it looks a lot like Urshifu/Inteleon will be the new gatekeeper for those kinds of decks. Being able to G-Max Rapid Flow every other turn while sniping damage with Inteleon and using Medicham V to skip turns, it doesn’t look like it will leave any room for decks that play a bunch of weak basics, stage 1s, or even stage 2s.

The return of in-person events

As for in-person events, I mostly expect the 2022 season to continue, as we have seen in the last year. A lot of places around the world are still struggling with getting people vaccinated. With new mutations of the virus being discovered worldwide, I don’t see the Pokémon company deciding on resuming the season in 2021. However, I’m optimistic that we will have unofficial in-store tournaments in countries that allow it to compete for prices, aside from Championship Points, and continue with our regular season exactly where we left off in March 2020. I can also see TPCi providing better prize support for local play to encourage people to get back into playing, especially considering that at this very moment, we don’t have any news about any future iterations of the Team Challenge or a Player’s Cup 5 (which could also be caused by them wanting to wait until rotation hits officially to make these announcements).

Closing thoughts

I hope you enjoyed my predictions for the game's future and that you got some new ideas on how to think about rotation. As for me, I’m really excited for the upcoming rotation because leaving one era behind (in this case, Sun & Moon) usually leads to some interesting changes to the game and some new mechanics being introduced. We’ve already seen some of the new Fusion archetype cards, which almost guarantee that we’re up for some very interesting changes, and I’m sure that there will be a lot more written about the Fusion cards in the future as I’m sure a lot of people are eagerly looking forward to them.