September rotation is here, in store play is back and we at Dark Fox TCG are looking forward to the 2021-2022 competitive season! Will we finally get to go to London for the World Championships next year? Prepare for the return of sanctioned events by trying out one of these top-tier decks going into the fall!

I've rounded up the 4 decks that I think will see the most play and best finishes for the SWSH-EVS format (Officially Starting Sept. 17th, so these decks will be tournament legal at our September 18th tournament in Hamilton!) While I've personally been playing both Ice and Shadow Rider Calyrex decks, there are plenty of diverse options right now. Below we go over the Calyrex decks, plus Rapid Strike Urshifu and Zacian/ Inteleon decks.


Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX

First up, my near-and-dear Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX  deck; I've been playing this deck nonstop for the better part of the last two months, and while we do lose Marshadow (UNB 81/214), we gain Pumpkaboo to get rid of those pesky Path to the Peak (CRE 148/198) cards that shut down Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX's Ability. We also no longer have Gengar & Mimikyu-GX (TEU 53/181) or Trevenant & Dusknoir-GX (SM Promo 217), so we increased the Alcremie VMAX line to 2 of each V and VMAX instead. Other than that, we don't suffer too badly from rotation. Here's my new list:

4 Shadow Rider Calyrex V (CRE 74/198)
4 Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAX (CRE 75/198)
2 Alcremie V (CPA 22/73)
2 Alcremie VMAX (CPA 23/73)
1 Cresselia (CRE 64/ 198)
1 Galarian Articuno (EVS 63/202)
2 Pumpkaboo (EVS 73/203)
2 Crobat (SHF 44/72)

4 Professor's Research
4 Marnie
3 Boss's Orders
4 Quick Ball
4 Fog Crystal
3 Evo Incense
2 Switch
3 Air Balloon
2 Training Court

13 Psychic Energies

The idea behind this deck is to get out as many Shadow Riders as possible, evolve them quickly and make use of the Underworld Door Ability to attach a psychic energy from your hand to one of your benched psychic Pokemon and draw 2 cards. Turn 1, you want to go 2nd. Your ideal starter is Cresselia--it will literally win you games if you can use the Crescent Glow attack turn one. That attack allows you to search your deck for 3 psychic energy and attach them all to one of your benched Pokemon, meaning you'll be ready for a Turn 2 Max Geist attack with Shadow Rider (10+30 damage x the number of psychic energy on your field).


Then, close out games with Alcremie VMAX's G-MAX Whisk attack for 60 damage times the amount of energy you discard off your field.
With the Quick Balls, Fog Crystals, and Evolution Incense, it's not terribly difficult to get 2 or even 3 Shadow Rider Calyrex VMAXs going by turn 2-3. If you have the choice, always Fog Crystal for a Shadow Rider Calyrex V turn 1 or 2. You're more likely to draw into energy you need than a Calyrex, and the more Calyrex you have ready to evolve, the more energy you can accelerate onto the field quicker.

Alcremie VMAX

If you can't get the Cresselia out turn 1, Shadow Mist isn't a terrible attack either as it prevents your opponent from playing stadiums or special energy. This is especially important in the Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX  and Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX matchups to prevent Path to the Peak from shutting off your abilities, and preventing the Rapid Strike or Capture Energy attachments.

Galarian Articuno

With Evolving Skies, we gain the Galarian Articuno which lets you attach 2 psychic energies from your hand to itself. This ability only takes effect when you first play the card down, so you can't reuse it. This Articuno also has the attack,
Psylaser, which does 120 damage to one of your opponents Pokemon, then you discard all energy attached to Articuno. This can be great for hitting benched Pokemon V and VMAXs, that already have some damage on them to close out the game, or KOing Drizziles if you just need one more prize. At the very least, it's a great attack and should prevent some issues where you 'could have won if you just got Boss'

So far I'm really liking the list as it is, but I have seen some people playing Galarian Zapdos V (CRE 80/198) in this deck. I feel like Eternatus VMAX (DAA 117/189) has fallen off the map with the number of top tier decks that counter it, but if you're in an area where there's a lot of Eternatus VMAX, Galarian Zapdos V is a good tech. You'd have to also play some Aurora Energy (SWSH 186/202), which I feel is better than the lists that only play 1 Fighting Energy, since you can use the Aurora Energy for other things, too.

Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX

Next we have Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, which a lot of people are designating the Best Deck In Format. I can see why--it's insanely consistent, can do 250 damage turn 2, and an experienced player can make great use of the Inteleon line for some unpredictable plays. This deck loses nothing important to rotation and gains a meta free of Lucario & Melmetal-GX (UNB 120/214). The only other metal deck popular right now is Zacian V (SWSH 138/202) /Inteleon, which does take a bit of work to beat. However, if you can set up fast, you'll almost always outspeed it and be taking one-hit knockouts back-to-back.

4 Ice Rider Calyrex V (CRE 45/198)
3 Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX (CRE 46/198)
4 Sobble (CRE 41/198)
4 Drizzle (SWSH 56/ 202)
3 Inteleon (SWSH, 58/202)
1 Inteleon (CRE 43/ 198)
1 Crobat (SHF 44/72)

4 Melony
2 Professor's Research
2 Marnie
3 Boss's Orders
1 Leon
4 Quick Ball
4 Level Ball
3 Evolution Incense
2 Capacious Bucket
2 Air Balloon
1 Echoing Horn
4 Path to the Peak

8 Water Energy

I can say this deck is straightforward, and at a glance it is. Your goal, as with any Inteleon engine, is to get out as many Sobble Turn 1 as possible, get your 2 energies and Calyrex VMAX out, then hit hard with Max Lance. But the Inteleon engine does require a lot of correct sequencing which can be a challenge to newer players, and you have to know exactly what's in your deck, what order you need to grab things and how your next several turns are going to play out so you can have another VMAX ready and whatever else you need to hit certain combos. Something to keep in mind is Calyrex VMAX's first attack -Ride of the High King- is what you want to hit a fresh Pokemon with that can't be OHKO'd by Max Lance. It does 10+ 30 for each benched Pokemon, so if your opponent has at least 3 benched Pokemon you'll be able to follow up with Max Lance
for the knock out the following turn, even on VMAXs.


A few things to mention about the build- we're using the set Calyrex V over the promo one, as it lets you hit for 40 damage turn 1 if needed. Your ideal Turn 1 is to use Sobble to Keep Calling and fill up your bench with more Sobble, but
getting a cool 40 damage onto something that will turn into a 3 prizer in a turn or two can be clutch otherwise. When playing Melony, you'll generally want to use her before you Drizzile search for other things (if possible.) If you plan to Shady Dealings for a Capacious Bucket, but then draw one or an energy off the Melony, then you have that ability saved to find other things. If you're playing against Shadow Rider or Eternatus, it's a good choice to search for a Path to the Peak if you have the chance!

Leon (Full Art)
We also run Leon in this build which, when combo'd correctly, can be devastating to your opponent. Max Lance for 250+ Leon +
A Quick Shooting or two will knock out pretty much anything. Or if you really need an easy two prizes, we have the Echoing Horn to bring back Crobats and one shot them. Lastly, we run a 3-1 split of Shady Dealings/ Quick Shooting Inteleons. I find the consistency of being able to find what you need late game will usually trump the ability to snipe 20 damage, but having the snipe option can create some great turns.

Suicune V

I know some people are also playing Suicune V in this list, but I just feel like it slows the deck down. Blizzard Rondo does 20+ 20 for each benched Pokemon (yours and your opponents) which is great damage output for a basic Pokemon, and its Ability also lets you draw a card if Suicune is active. I think if you're running the deck correctly, you want to be using Shady Dealings to set up an attack with Calyrex VMAX every turn you can, and the ability to draw an extra card just isn't as important when you're stacking Drizziles to get exactly what you need. If you feel you want to add one, it is a great 2 prize option though.

Zacian V

With Ice Rider Calyrex being one of the reckoning forces in this format, of course there comes a deck built to counter it. Zacian/ Inteleon hits hard and hits fast, but will it be consistent enough to win? Zacian/ ADP was a huge force in the previous meta, so it's no surprise that our Good Boy is sticking around to stab a few more wins out. With Metal Saucer, Intrepid Sword, and now the Inteleon Engine, this deck can hold its own against the top decks in this format. While you only are ever really attacking with Zacian using this list, it's actually got a lot of moving parts, so practice, practice, practice with this one!
It's powerful, packs a punch, and is a bit easier to play than Ice Rider though. Here's the list I'll be using:

4 Zacian V (SWSH 138/202)
4 Sobble (CRE 41/198)
3 Drizzile (SWSH 56/202)
2 Intelon Quick Shooting (CRE 43/198)
1 Inteleon Shady Dealings (SWSH 58/202)
1 Crobat (SHF 44/72)
1 Eldegoss (CPA 5/73)
1 Oranguru (SWSH 148/202)

4 Professor's Research
2 Marnie
2 Boss's Orders
1 Leon
1 Raihan
4 Quick Ball
4 Level Ball
2 Evolution Incense
4 Metal Saucer
3 Switch
2 Air Balloon
3 Rusted Sword

11 Metal Energy

There's a lot going on there, so let's break it down a bit. Turn one you want to go first, and you want to get at least 1 Zacian and as many Sobble as possible down, ideally attach to Zacian then Intrepid Sword to close out the turn. You want to throw away metal energies so you can attach them with Metal Saucer, then if all goes well you should be able to come out with a Turn 2 Brave Blade
hitting a massive 230 damage. If you went first, your opponent wouldn't have been able to evolve anything by the time you can attack, and that Brave Blade will knock out almost every regular V in format.


You want to get another Zacian set up as quickly as possible so you can chain Brave Blades- otherwise you'll have to switch your Zacian/ Sobbles back and forth to attack again. Because there will be a lot of switching going on with this deck, we have a lot of switch options, which will all be key to maintaining the flow of the game. You don't want to miss a turn of attacking because
you were stuck in the active. A few other key cards include Oranguru- which allows you to put a metal energy back on top of your deck so you can Intrepid Sword it to yourself. (Just make sure you use Oranguru last so that you don't shuffle it back in on a search instead!) You can also Primate Wisdom a card you'll need for next turn to the top of your deck to make sure you have it in case you get Marnie'd. Then we have Eldegoss, which is useful in making sure you can get the required combos chained late game by getting supporters back from your discard pile.

Inteleon - 043/198

This list also uses a 2-1 split of Quick Shooting and Shady Dealing Inteleons. That's because it requires marginally less set up (no evolving your main attacker, unlike some decks) and benefits a lot more from the 20 damage snipes. You can chain a lot of cards together to hit harder than your opponent anticipates- Brave Blade + Rusted Sword+ Leon+ 2 Quick Shootings
= 330 damage, which KOs most VMaxs! A note about the Rusted Sword and Air Balloon placements- you're going to want to attach your Air Balloons to your Inteleon lines mostly, to ensure that you have a way to retreat after using a switch to get Zacian out of the active, and to save your item slot for the Rusted Sword on Zacian.

Rusted Sword

There are a few different ways to build this deck, but overall I really enjoy this list. The whole point of the deck is to stack damage, which requires quite a few cards in combination, so there's not a ton of room for adjustments. You could
maybe get rid of the Eldegoss in favour of another energy or a scoop up net to re-use the Inteleons, but I feel like that might hurt your late game consistency with how many various supporters we use. I do want to fit another energy
in here if possible, though.

Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX

Last but far from least, we have Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX! This deck has won a lot of post-rotation events recently, and was a top tier choice even before rotation. Rapid Strike Urshifu gains more than it loses from rotation- with Mew (UNB 76/114) gone, bench attacks are once again viable. We also gain Medicham V which is getting incredibly hyped due to it's Yoga Loop attack, it
allows you to take an extra turn if one of your opponent's Pokemon are knocked out by the 2 damage counters it places. This is going to be much more useful in turns where you need a second supporter to close out the game, but is so far proving to be incredibly difficult to actually do successfully. Part of the issue is that you need to have a Pokemon on your opponent's side which only has 10-20HP left to start with, and while Urshifu can hit the bench, it does so in increments of 120 damage. Regular Vs will be knocked out by 240 damage, and everything is KOd by 360 damage. You do have the Telescopic Sight to add 30 damage, which puts Inteleons in Knock Out range by a Rapid Flow + Yoga Loop, or most VMAXs within range of a KO with two Rapid Flows+
a Yoga Loop. But it's just a lot of attacking turns and a lot of things that have to go right to actually get those attacks and attachments off.

Medicham V

This is one deck that sees huge variation in the lists, to the point where I havn't been able to pinpoint an ideal list myself. Some people play it with the Octillery (BST 37/163) engine to search out Rapid Strike cards. (Especially good post-rotation with the loss of Pokemon Communication to be able to find the VMAXs). Others tech a Moltres V (CRE 97/198) to deal with the Shadow Rider matchup. I always value consistency over techs, so I would probably play an Octillery list with some Korrina over Medicham, but with the Medicham being hyped I wanted to share this list made by Omnipoke:

3 Urshifu V (BST 87/163)
4 Urshifu VMAX (88/163)
1 Medicham V (EVS 83/203)
1 Passimian (CRE 88/198)
4 Sobble (CRE 41/198)
4 Drizzile (SWSH 56/202)
2 Inteleon Quick Shooting (CRE 43/198)
1 Inteleon Shady Dealings (SWSH 58/202)

4 Quick Ball
4 Level Ball
3 Evo Incense
2 Air Balloon
2 Tower of Waters
2 Switch
1 Telescopic Sight
2 Research
2 Marnie
2 Boss
2 Bird Keeper
2 Zinnia's Resolve
1 Raihan

4 Rapid Strike Energy
4 Capture Energy
3 Fighting Energy

Let's look to what Urshifu is actually consistently good for- Hitting benched Pokemon and choosing which prizes you want to take. Urshifu is 2-3 hit KO'ing anything on your opponent's field by itself, and your opponent can't retreat to
get away from your attacks. It hits 2 Pokemon at a time for 120 damage so you'll be setting up for multiple prizes late game.

Inteleon - 058/202
Use your Inteleon engine to set up the board- get your VMAXs out, get your energy on, find your Telescopic Sight and supporters, and start swinging! The only real threat Urshifu has in this format is Shadow Rider due to it's weakness.
Everything else is either favourable or an even matchup for this hard-hitter.

Telescopic Sight

Like the rest of our Inteleon engines here, your first turn is going to consist of finding Sobbles and getting them on the field. You can use Capture Energy to help here, too- it lets you search for another Pokemon and put it on your bench. Make use of Rapid Strike Energy to get quick KOs and use Raihan back fighting energy from your discard to power up another Urshifu. The damage output on multiple Pokemon is too hard for most decks
to keep up with late game, so if you can keep swinging with the GMax Rapid Flow, then you'll be in a good position to close
out the game with multiple prizes.

Raihan (Full Art)

That wraps up my top 4 post-rotation decks! I have most of these already built and have done a lot of testing with them already.
They all have their strengths and weaknesses, and a lot of deck choice comes down to your own play style. I love Shadow Rider
for it's ridiculous ramp-up of damage, Ice Rider for ruining other deck's days with Path and just being generally so consistent,
Zacian for being a straight forward hard hitter for 2 prizes, and Urshifu for the unprecedented amount of spread damage it deals.
What decks are you looking forward to trying out? What decks do you think should have been on this list? Let me know, and as always- have fun!