Table of Contents


Neo-On, as it was called, would be Wizards of the Coast’s final competitive format before relinquishing the right to produce Pokémon cards to The Pokémon Company in 2003. What began in 2002 as a bland, five-set format eventually gained some variety after the the e-Card sets joined the format in 2003.

Rotated Out Legal at 2002 World Championship Joined Format Later (2002–2003)
team-rocket-symbol Team Rocket

southern-islands-symbol Southern Islands

neo-genesis-symbol Neo Genesis

neo-discovery-symbol Neo Discovery

neo-revelation-symbol Neo Revelation

neo-destiny-symbol Neo Destiny

legendary-collection-symbol Legendary Collection

wizards-promo-symbol Wizards Promos #20–49

expedition-symbol Expedition

aquapolis-symbol Aquapolis

skyridge-symbol Skyridge

best-promo-symbol Wizards Best Promos

wizards-promo-symbol Wizards Promos #50–53

Banned Cards

As it was in the Rocket-On format of 2001–2002, Neo Genesis Sneasel remained banned, its Beat Up attack considered too strong in a format without Energy Removal & Super Energy Removal. The mistranslated Slowking was also given a long overdue ban after dominating the 2002 World Championships.

Neo-On: A Short-Lived Format

Other than Prop 15/3, the Trainer-limiting format that proved to be a major flop, no Wizards format had a shorter lifespan than Neo-On. The 2002 World Championships marked the first event to use the format, and the last to use it was the Fan Appreciation Tournament less than a year later in June 2003. The final phase of Neo-On, the Neo–Skyridge format, lasted barely a month, with Pokémon USA releasing their first set, EX Ruby & Sapphire, only five weeks after Skyridge debuted.

The Era of Bad Rulings

muk-legendary-collection-16Though fun to play, the Neo-On format was marred by bad rulings. Among the worst of these involved Pokémon Powers, which included the new Poké-Powers & Poké-Bodies from the e-Card sets. From 2001 to 2003, it was ruled that Pokémon Powers that were activated by the host Pokémon coming into play could never be stopped. For example, if Muk was in play, and a player benched a Neo Revelation Entei, the player who benched Entei could still use its Howl Pokémon Power. The basis for the ruling? The “stack” concept from Magic: The Gathering, in which the effects of the most recently played cards “resolved” first. Since Entei (or whatever Pokémon had the come-into-play Pokémon Power) hadmagby-neo-genesis-23 been played after Muk, its Pokémon Power was allowed to activate before Muk’s Toxic Gas had a chance to shut it off. This ruling also applied to Magby’s Sputter, which was at the center of several bad rulings. Sputter was ruled to be an effect on Magby itself, meaning benching or KOing Magby ended the effect. (For a contemporary comparison, this is like ruling Seismitoad-EX’s Quaking Punch would be ended by the opponent playing Lysandre.) Players could use Sputter to turn off their opponent’s Pokémon Powers, and then, on their turn, simply retreat Magby to reactivate theirs. Sound silly? It of course was, and The Pokémon Company, who understood their own game was different than Magic: The Gathering, didn’t take long to reverse this and many other of Wizards’ obviously incorrect rulings.

If you’re going to play this format I suggest re-visiting it with proper rulings, as some of Wizards’ bizarre rulings were made at the whims of employees who obviously specialized in Magic: The Gathering and never bothered to learn the unique differences of the Pokémon TCG.

Cleffa & Professor Elm: Still Strong

Though Supporters were legal in the Neo–Skyridge format, they would not replace the need to run Cleffa & Professor Elm. Both cards are still worth including in all of your Neo-On decks alongside some Supporters such as Copycat.

Copycat: A Great Response to Eeeeeeek


With decks still relying on Cleffa to set up, Copycat offers a great response following an opposing Eeeeeeek, delivering a fresh hand of 7 cards but without the No-Trainer downside of Professor Elm.

The Decks

Below are four of the strongest and most successful decks of the 2003 Neo Genesis–Skyridge format, the final phase of Neo-On. Don’t assume these are all the strong decks in the format, though, as interest in competitive Pokémon was at a low point in 2003, and few players put time and effort into developing and refining decks.


🌠 Iconic Deck 😃 Fun to Play 💰 Expensive to Build


Pokémon (14)Trainers (26)Energy (20)
2x Cleffa
4x Entei
4x Slugma
4x Magcargo
3x Focus Band
4x Copycat
3x Oracle
2x Town Volunteers
3x Professor Elm
3x Scoop Up
3x Dual Ball
3x Double Gust
2x Bill
18x Fire Energy
2x Metal Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Entei’s Howl provides the Fire Energy Magcargo needs to deal out massive damage. Oracle can not only guarantee you at least two Fire Energy off of Howl, but also be used with Bill to retrieve you any two cards from your deck. Scoop Up helps protect your Entei from Zzzap damage, as well as re-use Howl.


😃 Fun to Play  💰 Expensive to Build


Pokémon (22)Trainers (24)Energy (14)
4x Cleffa
3x Pichu
3x Chikorita
3x Bayleef
3x Meganium
3x Exeggcute
3x Exeggutor
2x Energy Stadium
3x Focus Band
4x Copycat
3x Pokémon Fan Club
1x Town Volunteers
4x Professor Elm
4x Pokémon Trader
3x Double Gust
14x Grass Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

With Meganium’s Wild Growth doubling all of your Grass Energy cards, Exeggutor’s Called Shot becomes a deadly attack. Pichu gives your Grass-type deck a chance against Entei/Magcargo.

Noc Lock


Pokémon (21)Trainers (24)Energy (15)
4x Cleffa
4x Totodile
4x Dark Croconaw
3x Dark Feraligatr
3x Hoothoot
3x Noctowl
2x Rocket’s Hideout
2x Gold Berry
3x Copycat
3x Pokémon Fan Club
4x Energy Removal 2
3x Professor Elm
3x Pokémon Trader
2x Double Gust
11x Water Energy
4x Darkness Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

With Dark Feraligatr’s Scare preventing opponents from using Eeeeeeek, and Noctowl’s Glaring Gaze stripping away their Trainers, your opponents will struggle to set up. Meanwhile, Energy Removal 2 and Dark Feraligatr’s Crushing Jaw strip away their precious Energy cards, including the Metal Energy cards that protect tough Pokémon like Scizor.


🌠 Iconic Deck 🏆 Top Deck


Pokémon (18)Trainers (29)Energy (13)
3x Cleffa
3x Scyther
2x Scizor
2x Sentret
2x Furret
2x Grimer
2x Muk
2x Mantine
4x Gold Berry
2x Balloon Berry
4x Copycat
4x Pokémon Fan Club
1x Town Volunteers
4x Professor Elm
4x Pokémon Trader
3x Power Charge
3x Double Gust
4x Metal Energy
4x Rainbow Energy
3x Water Energy
2x Warp Energy
📋 Copy Deck list | 🛒 Buy Deck on TCGplayer | ⬆️ Jump to top

Using Furret’s Scavenger Hunt to retrieve Metal Energy cards allows you to boost Scizor’s defense and damage capability, while Mantine offers the deck a way to deal with fire Pokémon (like Magcargo) that can one-hit KO Scizor.

Tip: Remember that Muk’s Toxic Gas will shut off Furret’s Scavenger Hunt. Only evolve to Muk if you believe it will hurt your opponent more than you!

e-Card: The Lost Format

charizard-expedition-ex-6Neo-On was the final format hosted by Wizards of the Coast. In 2003, The Pokémon Company International (then Pokémon USA, Inc.) acquired the licensing rights to the game, designating Expedition-On as their first competitive format. In the process of this transition, a magnificent format was lost.

Rocket-On | Neo-On | e-Card