A Look Back at First Post-Pandemic Pokemon Format – UPR-RCL

Hello again! The dust has settled from NAIC and the 2022 season as a whole and now we’re in a small break before the World Championships in mid-August. While a lot of players are excited for potential announcements about the next season or how the newest expansion changes the metagame, I thought it would be nice to use this in-between time to explore a format which barely got to see the light of day: Ultra Prism to Rebel Clash, or UPR-RCL.



Header - The Situation

Rebel Clash was the first Pokemon set to be released during the global pandemic, which with the lack of tournaments at the time, made it be glossed over initially by a lot of competitive players. While we have a plethora of online tournaments now, back then there were barely any with the only online tournaments being the Limitless tournament series. There were also no in-person tournaments of any level at the time, which led to this format being overlooked initially by most of the player base. However, with the Limitless Invitational and the first Player’s Cup using this format, it ended up getting explored much later than formats usually would nowadays. However, the players who did explore this format got to experience one of the better formats of recent years.

When Sword and Shield was the newest expansion, the format at the time left a lot to be desired. Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX (ADP) with Zacian V was by far the most dominant deck at the time, which resulted in a very dull format.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia GX (258/236)Zacian V (211/202)

The play pattern of ADP/Zacian mirrors was incredibly dull, and very few decks were able to compete with it. While you would think that a set which included Boss’s Orders would make ADP/Zacian even stronger, it introduced several decks which were now able to go toe to toe it. Along with Boss’s Orders, the most impactful card from Rebel Clash was Scoop Up Net, which along with Jirachi TEU and Escape Board, allowed people to make decks which didn’t rely on Dedenne GX at all. It also significantly increased the viability of a ton of cards which were struggling to succeed before this set, mostly notable Giratina UNM and Galarian Zigzagoon SSH.

Giratina (86/236)Galarian Zigzagoon (117/202)

The introduction of Scoop Up Net allowed for decks which primarily used one, two and three-Prize Pokemon to succeed, which is one of the biggest signs of a healthy format.


Header - Dragapult VMAX

Another big introduction from Rebel Clash was Dragapult VMAX.

Dragapult VMAX (197/192)

In Sword and Shield, the VMAX Pokemon were quite lackluster, which allowed for ADP/Zacian to rule the format as it efficiently out traded with the Tag Teams thanks to Shrine of Punishment.

Shrine of Punishment (143/168)

However, Dragapult VMAX is immune to Shrine of Punishment and it’s high HP forces an ADP/Zacian deck to knock it out in two attacks, even post Altered Creation. The reasons Dragapult VMAX was strong wasn’t due to it’s HP though; it was because of it’s Psychic typing and the Max Phantom attack. Dragapult VMAX being Psychic meant it got to use Mysterious Treasure, one of the better consistency cards we have ever seen.

Mysterious Treasure (113/131)

Every other VMAX at the time had to use Pokemon Communication or Evolution Incense to search it’s Evolution, which wasn’t a fantastic engine at the time. While Drizzile and Inteleon SSH were both legal they barely saw any play, I think that this was because of the strength of Jirachi TEU as well as the lack of Sobble CRE and Inteleon CRE. Part of the reason that Inteleon is so strong right now is the lack of other options, while it had to compete with Jirachi TEU in this format. Max Phantom is also an incredibly powerful attack against low HP support Pokemon; spreading five damage counters is incredibly efficient at cleaning up multiple Jirachi or for setting up future knockouts with Shrine of Punishment. Dragapult deck lists were mostly unrefined in this format until Tord Reklev won the Player’s Cup Kickoff Invitational with his take on the archetype, which quickly became the standard list.


Pokémon (16)
4 Dragapult V RCL 92
4 Dragapult VMAX RCL 93
4 Jirachi TEU 99
2 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
1 Giratina UNM 86
1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57

Trainer (35)
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
4 Marnie SSH 169
3 Boss's Orders RCL 154
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Mysterious Treasure FLI 113
4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
3 Acro Bike CES 123
2 Energy Spinner UNB 170
2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
3 Escape Board UPR 122
2 Shrine of Punishment CES 143

Energy (9)
5 Psychic Energy SSH P
4 Horror Psychic Energy RCL 172


The main innovations Tord made to this archetype were the lack of Switch, the Shrine of Punishments and the heavy Scoop Up Net count. While playing zero copies of Switch might seem scary at first, it makes sense when you also look at the three Escape Board. If you started a single-Prize Pokemon, you were able to use Scoop Up Net to move it and if you started a multi-Prize Pokemon, all of them in this deck have a single retreat cost, so Escape Board works perfectly. Absol TEU wasn’t a popular tech at the time because so many players had four Switch and four Scoop Up Net, so relying on retreating was more doable than before.

Absol (88/181)

Another massive card which Tord included was Giratina UNM.

Giratina (86/236)

In the Dragapult mirror match, Energy attachments are massive because the deck has no way of accelerating energy. Some people turned to Crushing Hammer to try and overcome this disadvantage, but Crushing Hammer is on a coin flip and even more unreliable because it’s rare to see more than one in the early game. Giratina, though, is searchable by Mysterious Treasure and Quick Ball, 100 percent reliable and can be re-used with Scoop Up Net! The catch is that Giratina only hit Special Energy, but with Horror Energy being so important to fix numbers in several matchups, it’s almost mandatory to play in Dragapult. The rest of the format also featured a ton of Special Energy, with Speed Energy in Pikachu & Zekrom GX decks being a solid hit, but the main utility of Giratina was in the mirror match. 

There were a ton of other innovations in this list as well! Energy Spinner was massive because it was a way for your Jirachi to find Energy cards. Most lists previously played Viridian Forest but because it was a Stadium card, your opponent could use it too, and Shrine of Punishment ended up being massive for slower matchups, so Energy Spinner proved to be way stronger.

Energy Spinner (170/214)Viridian Forest (156/181)

There were also three Escape Board; most lists playing Jirachi at the time only had two but attaching Escape Board to Dragapult to get around paralysis (from a Raichu & Alolan Raichu perhaps) became a good enough reason to play three copies.

Escape Board (167/156)

There were also two Galarian Zigzagoon in this list, which allowed you to reach for knockouts on benched Pokemon incredibly easily. Some lists played Giratina LOT because it spread more damage, but Galarian Zigzagoon had less hoops to jump through to get that damage, so it ended up being the better option.

Galarian Zigzagoon (117/202)Giratina (97/214)

This list also included a ton of consistency by playing eight draw Supporters, something you rarely see today! This made it so that your hand often had outs to continue drawing cards, which was massive to help you to continuously draw into Scoop Up Net and Energy throughout the game. There were also three Acro Bike in here, ensuring you drew into the pieces you needed in the first couple of turns.

After Tord Reklev won the Player’s Cup kickoff Invitational with this list, it quickly became the standard Dragapult VMAX list for the format, but it wasn’t the only playable deck! I’m only going to fully examine the deck list for one other deck, but I’ll still provide some lists for other popular decks if you’re looking to rebuild this format and play it with friends!


Header - Pikachu & Zekrom GX


##Pokémon - 14

* 1 Eldegoss V RCL 19
* 1 Boltund V RCL 67
* 3 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
* 2 Pikachu & Zekrom-GX TEU 33
* 1 Raichu & Alolan Raichu-GX UNM 54
* 1 Tapu Koko {*} TEU 51
* 4 Jirachi TEU 99
* 1 Marshadow UNB 81

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 4 Electropower LOT 172
* 1 Great Catcher CEC 192
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Reset Stamp UNM 206
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 2 Guzma & Hala CEC 193
* 1 Mallow & Lana CEC 198
* 4 Switch BLW 104
* 1 Tag Switch UNM 209
* 4 Tag Call CEC 206
* 1 Thunder Mountain {*} LOT 191
* 4 Volkner UPR 135
* 2 Escape Board UPR 122
* 1 Vitality Band SSH 185

##Energy - 13

* 3 Speed Lightning Energy RCL 173
* 10 Lightning Energy XYEnergy 6


Pikachu & Zekrom (Pikarom) was by far my favorite deck in this format and was the most explosive. It was focused on using Tapu Koko Prism Star to power up the Full Blitz attack, which then powered up other Lightning Pokemon or the Pikarom itself for a massive Tag Bolt.

Tapu Koko (51/181) (Prism Star)Pikachu & Zekrom GX (184/181)

Several inclusions from Rebel Clash pushed this deck over the edge from the previous format, those being Boltund V and Speed Energy.

Boltund V (181/192)Speed Lightning Energy (173/192)

Boltund gave this deck inevitability against decks which can’t easily take one-hit knockouts like Dragapult VMAX. A common sequence was that you would Full Blitz several times, healing with Mallow & Lana during those turns then use Boltund V to one-hit knockout VMAX Pokemon. Another line of attack Pikarom had into Dragapult was to use Reset Stamp and Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX’s Tandem Shock to leave the Dragapult player under Paralysis and with a low hand size.

Reset Stamp (253/236)Raichu & Alolan Raichu GX (241/236)

However, the three copies of Escape Board allowed the Dragapult player to preemptively prevent themselves from being Paralyzed. Speed Energy was the reason Pikarom was able to play the Tag Team engine, with Tag Call, Guzma & Hala and Mallow & Lana.

Thunder Mountain (191/214) (Prism Star)Tag Call (270/236)Guzma & Hala (229/236)Mallow & Lana (231/236)

Guzma & Hala was a card you already wanted to play, since it searched out Thunder Mountain, an incredibly important card for pulling off an early Full Blitz, but it was tough because getting the full effect required you to discard a significant number of cards. However, Speed Energy’s effect to draw two cards effectively negated the discard effect of Guzma & Hala by drawing you more cards, making it an incredibly strong option. Guzma & Hala searching out a tool also gave you an easy out to retreat Jirachi, making that an incredibly efficient engine for this deck.

Mallow & Lana also gave you an effective healing out. While healing for 120 isn’t much, the free pivot into Jirachi is solid and you have access to it at almost any time with Tag Call. Tag Call was the glue which held this whole engine together, letting you get both your Tag Team Pokemon and the Tag Team supporters. Finding a Tag Call in your opening hand put you halfway to a turn one Full Blitz; you only needed a Lightning Energy to discard and a way to find Tapu Koko Prism Star and you could pull off a very powerful attack on the first turn by grabbing the Pikachu & Zekrom GX as well as Guzma & Hala, which let you grab Thunder Mountain, Speed Energy and Escape Board as the pivot!

The strength of the Tag Call engine allowed this deck to remain incredibly consistent without any draw supporters, instead just relying on Dedenne GX as the only form of mass draw.

Dedenne GX (195/214)Volkner (156/156)

Volkner was another piece of this deck which allowed it to play without draw Supporters. Usually, once this deck is set up, you only need a single card every turn and Volkner grabs any card along with your Energy attachment! With the way this deck was set up, it was rare to have a bad opening hand with a Volkner, which is why it’s the only four-of Supporter card in this deck.

The most powerful aspect of Pikarom in this format was Electropower.

Electropower (232/214)

For players who play the current format, Electropower is essentially Power Tablet but for a whole type! Electropower gave Pikarom’s attacks incredible reach, and it was easy to search out multiple Electropower thanks to Jirachi and Volkner. Vitality Band also saw play in this deck, as it was easily searchable with Volkner and Guzma & Hala and in certain situations functioned as a fifth copy of Electropower. Vitality Band is legal in the current Standard format but doesn’t see any play because it gets overshadowed in most situations by Choice Belt. While Electropower didn’t play much of a role against one-prize decks, it often allowed you to reach a one-hit KO at some point in the game against a multi-Prize deck which would result in a massive swing in the game.


Header - Other Decks

Thank you for reading my brief primer into the UPR-RCL format! I really enjoyed this format when it was Standard and think that it’s unfortunate that we never got to experience it for a Regional or International Championships. While I’m signing off the article here, I’ll still leave a couple of deck lists and a basic rundown of that deck, but I also think the Pikarom vs Dragapult matchup is a fun and interactive one to try out. If didn’t play this format I would highly recommend it!

Combo Zacian (Azul Garcia Griego’s 3rd place Limitless Invitational list)

Pokémon (15)
4 Zacian V SSH 138
3 Jirachi TEU 99
2 Oranguru SSH 148
2 Mr. Mime DET 11
1 Jirachi ♢ CES 97
1 Zamazenta V SSH 139
1 Dusk Mane Necrozma SMP 124
1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57

Trainer (34)
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
3 Boss's Orders RCL 154
2 Marnie SSH 169
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Metal Saucer SSH 170
4 Switch SSH 183
4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
4 Acro Bike CES 123
1 Great Catcher CEC 192
1 Tool Scrapper RCL 168
1 Friend Ball CES 131
2 Escape Board UPR 122

Energy (11)
11 Metal Energy SSH M


This is an aggro Zacian V deck which houses a combo. Use Oranguru SSH’s Primate Wisdom ability to put Jirachi Prism Star on top of your deck then use Mr. Mime DET to put the Jirachi into your Prize cards. Then, take Prize cards with Zacian V and use Jirachi to take an extra prize.

Oranguru (148/202)Mr. Mime (11/18)Jirachi (97/168) (Prism Star)

Blacephalon UNB (Andrew Mahone’s 2nd place Players Cup Kickoff Invitational list)


Pokémon (15)
4 Jirachi TEU 99
3 Blacephalon UNB 32
1 Blacephalon-GX LOT 52
1 Cramorant V SSH 155
1 Zacian V SSH 138
1 Oricorio-GX CEC 95
1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
1 Mewtwo UNB 75
1 Mew UNB 76
1 Tapu Fini UNM 53

Trainer (32)
4 Welder UNB 189
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Fiery Flint DRM 60
4 Fire Crystal UNB 173
4 Energy Retrieval SSH 160
4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
4 Switch SSH 183
1 Great Catcher CEC 192
1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
1 Ultra Space FLI 115
1 Heat Factory ♢ LOT 178

Energy (13)
13 Fire Energy SSH R


Use Blacephalon UNB’s Fireball Circus to deal massive damage, often discarding six or seven Fire Energy to one-hit KO everything! The whole deck is build around fueling Fireball Circus, with Fiery Flint and Fire Crystal allowing you to chain massive attacks.

Spiritomb (Kevin Kruegar’s Limitless Invitational 1st place list)


Pokémon (18)
4 Spiritomb UNB 112
4 Jirachi TEU 99
2 Jynx UNM 76
1 Buzzwole FLI 77
1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
1 Giratina UNM 86
1 Mewtwo UNB 75
1 Mew UNB 76
1 Dedenne-GX UNB 57
1 Oricorio-GX CEC 95
1 Yveltal-GX FLI 79

Trainer (33)
4 Professor's Research SSH 178
4 Marnie SSH 169
2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
4 Quick Ball SSH 179
4 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
2 Switch SSH 183
2 Great Ball SSH 164
1 Great Catcher CEC 192
1 Lana's Fishing Rod CEC 195
1 Adventure Bag LOT 167
3 Hustle Belt CES 134
2 Escape Board UPR 122
2 Shrine of Punishment CES 143
1 Black Market ♢ TEU 134

Energy (9)
4 Rainbow Energy CES 151
4 Unit Energy FDY FLI 118
1 Aurora Energy SSH 186


Use Building Spite to damage your own Spiritomb UNBs to power up their Anguish Cry attack. Rainbow Energy and Jynx UNM also help the damage output.

Spiritomb (112/214)Jynx (76/236)Hustle Belt (179/168)

While small HP Pokemon may seem rough against Dragapult, thanks to Dragapult’s weakness to Darkness, Spiritomb can one-hit KO it out of nowhere! You can get to three damage because of Building Spite, Rainbow Energy and Building Spite, then Hustle Belt pushes Anguish Cry to 160 damage, which KOs Dragapult thanks to weakness!

2 thoughts on “A Look Back at First Post-Pandemic Pokemon Format – UPR-RCL”

  1. Thanks Natalie! Hong Kong is having some “expanded” comps locally to qualify onto a bigger tournament! This article is a good source to build some really fun deck!

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