Malamar’s Melbourne Mediocrity — The Rise of Zacian V and M2 to Meet it

Malamar was my deck of choice in my third time competing at the Oceania International Championship. My testing team and I went for a straightforward list that had solid matchups. I was personally very worried about the “fifty-fifty” designation we placed on the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V matchup, as consistently beating that deck would have been preferred for this event. We tested a lot, filled out the matchup spreadsheet, and it told us to basically stick with Malamar or make the risky choice of playing Galarian Obstagoon. With so many things that could go run in the case of the latter, Malamar was the call. I was rightfully worried about the Zacian V matchup, while I only played one, partners like Jimmy Pendarvis had an overall negative record against the deck and missed Championship Points because of it. While you might have an even matchup against something, that doesn’t mean a whole lot when your deck can’t really outplay people; Malamar has almost always been a build that aims to set up and win a Prize trade. Here’s how my rounds went:

  • Round One Pikachu and Zekrom-GX • WLW 1/0/0
  • Round Two Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Malamar • WW 2/0/0
  • Round Three Blacephalon / Green's Exploration • WLT 2/0/1
  • Round Four Blacephalon / Jirachi • WLW 3/0/1
  • Round Five Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V • LL 3/1/1
  • Round Six Pikachu and Zekrom-GX • LL 3/2/1
  • Round Seven Mewtwo and Mew-GX • WW 4/2/1
  • Round Eight Cinccino Mill • LL 4/3/1
  • Round Nine Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Malamar • WW 5/3/1

I walked away with some coveted International Championship CP, but things could have gone better. The fifth round matchup featured Absol, Mallow and Lana, as well as Metal Core Barrier; nearly impossible for Malamar to beat. The next round was an absolute meltdown on the part of my deck, and then a cripplingly bad matchup in the eighth sealed my fate.

Pokemon (20)

4x Jirachi (TEU #99)4x Malamar (FOL #51)4x Inkay (FOL #50)2x Giratina (LOT #97)1x Solgaleo and Lunala-GX (COE #75)1x Mimikyu (GUR #58)1x Mew (UNB #76)1x Latios-GX (UNM #78)1x Espurr (UNB #79)1x Blacephalon (COE #104)

Trainers (32)

4x Professor's Research (SWSH1 #178)4x Cynthia (ULP #119)4x Spell Tag (LOT #190)4x Quick Ball (SWSH1 #179)4x Mysterious Treasure (FOL #113)3x Switch (SWSH1 #183)3x Acro Bike (CES #123)2x Escape Board (ULP #122)1x Lana's Fishing Rod (COE #195)1x Great Catcher (COE #192)2x Viridian Forest (TEU #156)

Energy (8)

8x Psychic Energy (EVO #95)

The last decision on the list was the argument for Solgaleo and Lunala-GX over Espeon and Deoxys-GX—the original inclusion. Most of us ultimately decided on the former, although not everyone could find one in time before deck submission closed—as a result, some went with Espeon and Deoxys-GX instead. Everything else was well-polished! The greatest thing I still want is a second Mimikyu, it’s extremely important against Zacian V—getting a Brave Blade in return for a one-shot is super game-changing. Four Spell Tag is very important with rising HP numbers in most decks. Professor's Research and Quick Ball are the biggest additions to the deck, though, it really doesn’t brick anymore unless you run into a hand with a bunch of Pokemon. Moving forward the deck still looks good. Perhaps even more effort into testing the Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V matchup is needed—I thought my fifty-plus games of the pairing before the event were enough… Anyways, keep Malamar in reserve until the metagame comes around, you’re confident you can dodge the aforementioned matchup, or if you find a way to make it favorable—I don’t think the fifty-fifty pairing is going to be good enough. Latios-GX can only get you so far…

Day 2 Metagame

  • 24 Zacian V Variants
  • 7 Mewtwo and Mew-GX Variants
  • 5 Pikachu and Zekrom-GX
  • 3 Blacephalon Variants
  • 3 Bellelba and Brycen-Man Mill Variants
  • 2 Malamar
  • 2 Magcargo-GX
  • 1 Welder Toolbox
  • 1 Galarian Obstagoon

Top 8 Standings

  1. Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Welder
  2. Welder Toolbox
  3. Galarian Obstagoon
  4. Cinccino Mill
  5. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V
  6. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V
  7. Mewtwo and Mew-GX / Welder
  8. Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX / Zacian V


Zacian V absolutely dominated this event. Three spots of the Top 8, twenty-four in Day 2—that’s nearly unheard of! The last time a deck was so dominant was arguably Seattle, Washington, Regionals back in 2017 when Garbodor just dropped. Moving forward you need to beat Zacian V or play it yourself. There’s a few underexplored cards that were played namely: Dragon Talon, Magcargo, and Metal Core Barrier. Each deserves an explanation…

Dragon Talon

This can set up some never-before-seen Brave Blade Knock Outs. Assuming you used Altered Creation Gk, if you get hit into you can Brave Blade for 260, the Dragon Talon providing the extra 30 to take something like another Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX out or even a Mewtwo and Mew-GX if you don’t have Galarian Zigzagoon and/or Vitality Band. The slight issue with all this is that you’re probably only playing it as a one-of and Big Charm is usually better on Arceus and Dialga and Palkia-GX to try to survive longer. Dragon Talon is the worst of the few unorthodox inclusions that we saw for this event. Speaking of extra damage, one thing’s for sure; Galarian Perrserker was not played and is not good; however, there is a Galarian Meowth that will make it more viable in the future, making Zacian V even better.


Smooth Over is quite strong in Zacian V decks. You can set up Intrepid Sword plays to attach Metal Energy, set Custom Catcher on the top of your deck to draw into later, and more. I think this is a clunky tech that has the chance to shine when you get it out, but without Stage 1 Pokemon search in most Zacian V decks, I don’t think it’s worth playing ways to get it for its intended purpose. It seems counterintuitive to shove cards that aren’t good for really anything other than finding Magcargo into a deck that wants to be as fast as possible. There’s some value, but I’d have to try it to have a better opinion.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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