The Pokémon Company International confirmed today that the Pokémon TCG's Standard format will rotate for the 2022 season on September 10, 2021. Starting that day, only cards from the Sword & Shield Base Set forward will be legal for Standard play. All cards from the Sun & Moon Series, including all Pokemon-GX, will no longer be legal.

TPCI also confirmed that going forward, players will be able to use the regulation marks on the bottom of Pokémon cards to tell at a glance whether a card is legal for Standard play. First introduced in the Sword & Shield Series, there are currently two regulation marks: "D" and "E". Cards with either regulation mark (all the cards from the Sword & Shield series) will be legal in Standard for the 2022 season. In the future, when the Standard format rotates for the 2023 season, cards with the "D" regulation mark will rotate while "E" cards will remain legal.

As always, older versions of cards are legal in Standard as long as any version of the card is legal. Since Switch (swsh1-183) was reprinted in the Sword & Shield Base Set, you're free to use Switch (base1-95) in tournament play.

Is This Surprising?

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156)

While the Pokémon TCG Standard format rotates every year, many players expected that TPCI would suspend or postpone rotation for the 2022 season. Due to the pandemic, many players haven't gotten a chance to play in person with some of the best cards from the Sun & Moon Series. Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156), for example, was introduced in the Cosmic Eclipse expansion in November 2019, and while it has been winning tournaments online for months, many players who bought the physical card hoping to play it at tournaments haven't had the chance.

Regardless, TPCI has opted to move forward with Standard rotation so that the format doesn't stagnate.

Why Is this Good?

If you're one of the many players who discovered (or rediscovered) the Pokémon TCG in autumn 2020 during the market bubble, chances are your collection is mostly cards from the Darkness Ablaze expansion or later. That means your cards have been overshadowed competitively by high-powered Pokémon-GX like Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (sm9-33), Reshiram & Charizard-GX (sm10-20), and the aforementioned Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156).

After September 10th, all those cards will be gone, and every card from the Sword & Shield Series will have a better shot at being viable. As Basic Pokémon with incredibly powerful once-per-game abilities, Pokémon-GX accelerated the pace of a typical game to ridiculous speeds, and slower cards like Charizard VMAX (swsh3-20) couldn't compete. Plus, Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156) Altered Creation GX attack invalidated the one advantage that single-prize Pokémon had over V and VMAX, and nearly pushed them out of the format completely.

Post-rotation Standard might not be as fast or powerful as the format is today, but if that means more decks have a shot at success, that's probably a good thing.

What Competitive Cards Are We Losing?

We'll be saying goodbye to a lot of cards on September 10th, but here are the five cards that have had the biggest impact on the game.

Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156)

ADP is so notorious that it's been banned in the Limitless Online Series of tournaments since January. In a few months, we'll all be joining them in a world where single-prize Pokémon are actually worth a single prize. Zacian V (swsh1-138) will still be around, but at least it won't have its most dependable partner in crime.

Pikachu & Zekrom-GX (sm9-33)

This is the star and namesake of the PikaRom deck that has been competitive since 2019. On September 10th, the deck will no longer exist—or if it does, it won't be called PikaRom.

Dedenne-GX (sm10-57) is technically a Pokémon, but in practice it's a Professor's Research (Professor Magnolia) (swsh1-178) that isn't bound by the one-supporter-per-turn rule. It also appears in nearly every competitive deck alongside Crobat V (swsh3-104). Once it's gone, players will have to look elsewhere for that extra consistency, possibly to Kricketune V (swsh5-6).

Fire-type decks have been red-hot for a long time thanks to Welder (sm10-189) combination of draw and energy acceleration. Tempo Zard decks are losing Reshiram & Charizard-GX (sm10-20), so they were already dead in the water, but even Centiskorch VMAX (swsh3-34) will suffer without Welder's power and consistency. There's no clear replacement—fire-type decks are just going to take a hit.

The gold standard for Pokémon tutoring, capable of finding whatever 'mon you needed right that moment, is leaving us. Once again, there's no clear replacement. Quick Ball (swsh1-179) and Evolution Incense (swsh1-163) can find Basic and Evolution Pokémon respectively, but there's no item card that will find you any Pokémon you want unconditionally.

What Decks Are Poised to Succeed in 2022?

Mad Party has been finding success with single-prize attackers despite the prevalence of Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX (sm12-156) in the meta. It's going to lose Triple Acceleration Energy (sm10-190) and Pokémon Communication (sm9-152), but none of its attackers are rotating, so there's no reason to think it won't be able to recover. If you want a budget-friendly deck that will still be beating "better" decks a year from now, this is the strategy for you.

Rapid Strike Urshifu and its buddy Single Strike Urshifu will both be strong competitive archetypes once most of their competition has rotated, especially once they get more support in Chilling Reign. Rapid Strike in particular was already a high-tier competitor, and with Mew (smp-SM215) out of the picture, it won't be as easy for opposing decks to tech against it.

Eternatus VMAX (swsh3-117) gets to keep its signature card and Galarian Zigzagoon (swsh1-117), so it's sitting pretty. Zacian V (swsh1-138) will need to find new dancing partners without ADP and Lucario & Melmetal-GX (sm10-120), but it's bound to find another top-tier deck to strut its stuff. Beyond that, it's anyone's meta. Maybe Charizard VMAX (swsh3-20) will take the stage, or Rillaboom (swsh1-14) will come out from the shadow of Mewtwo & Mew-GX (sm11-71).

I'm excited to find out!