Ancient Lightning — A Look at Vikavolt V

Hello everyone! We’re continuing our trek through the Silver Tempest / Crown Zenith format, and the OCIC results have come in. As it turns out, the format is more or less unchanged. Lugia VSTAR is still dominant; Lost Box, Mew VMAX, and Regigigas are good, but not quite at the same level; and you have a smattering of other decks that can do well, but struggle to consistently finish with positive results.

One of the difficulties of this format is that in order to counter the meta, you have to be able to beat Lugia VSTAR, Lost Box, and Mew VMAX (plus Regigigas to a lesser extent), but all three of those decks can add in techs that make it possible to get around their various counters. As a result, it’s been extremely difficult for any counter-meta deck to have sustained success. A deck might be able to catch the meta by surprise for one tournament, but after that, players will adapt, and that same strategy typically won’t work the next time. On top of that, most of the decks that can come close to that will end up having a not-so-great matchup against the less popular decks, such as the various Arceus VSTAR decks or other off-meta options.

With that said, if you can find the right time to play one of these counter-meta decks, then the format has proven to be consolidated enough that you can see a lot of success. Off-meta options have won four of the seven Silver Tempest-era Regional Championships, and had a few 2nd-place and Top 4/Top 8 finishes. The decks that have seen success in this way have used a variety of strategies — paralysis, tankiness, Energy removal — but the strategy that has seen by far the most success uses the Item-denying attack of Vikavolt V.

At the first post-LAIC Regional Championship in Stuttgart, Mateusz Łaszkiewicz won by using Vikavolt V with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR, a combination which proved extremely effective. Two events later, my brother Alex expanded on this concept by putting together Vikavolt V / Aerodactyl VSTAR, which was an even more anti-Lugia build that he was able to pilot to a 2nd-place finish. At the next Regional Championship, Gibson Archer-Tang piloted a slightly more refined version of the same list, and ended up winning the event.

Yet, despite that track record, Vikavolt V hasn’t jumped into that upper echelon with regard to meta share. At the Regionals at Liverpool and Orlando, and at the OCIC, Vikavolt was still an off-meta deck, and there have been no indications that its meta share is expanding beyond that. For players of Vikavolt V, that’s a good thing — the fewer people playing the deck, the less likely that other players will tech for it. If players aren’t teching for it, that’s exactly when you want to be playing this kind of anti-meta deck.

I mentioned how players will typically adapt to the success of a counter-meta deck, and while Vikavolt did manage to perform well in back-to-back events, it’s still not an exception in this regard. At both the Orlando Regional Championship and the Liverpool Regional Championship, players started to respect Vikavolt V / Aerodactyl VSTAR, and included techs and strategies so that the matchup wouldn’t be quite as negative. Lugia players began adapting to the Aerodactyl VSTAR strategy by including Canceling Cologne in their decks, while a number of Lost Box players switched over to a Hisuian Goodra VSTAR build, which is much stronger against Vikavolt V than the usual group of attackers.

Fast forward to the OCIC, though, and most of those adaptations are gone. Canceling Cologne ended up being a somewhat useless card for any player who didn’t run into a Vikavolt V deck, and since Vikavolt V still wasn’t widely played, that meant most players who teched against it in Orlando ended up disappointed. Likewise, most of the Lugia lists at the OCIC didn’t play it — in fact, it was in only one of the fifteen Day 2 lists. Goodra VSTAR also saw a dip in play, and with it continuing to put up lackluster results, the hype for that deck seems to be diminishing. Additionally, while Vikavolt didn’t do poorly at the OCIC, it also didn’t do well enough that I would expect it to trigger another round of Vikavolt countering: only three made Day 2, and none of those players finished higher than 16th. As a result, when looking ahead to our next Regional Championship in Knoxville, things are looking good for the format to return to what we saw in Arlington and San Diego — an environment in which Vikavolt V did exceptionally well.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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