Freezing Time — Articuno Palkia’s Future in Standard

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be bringing you all another article! Last time, I talked about how the newest mini-expansion, Crown Zenith, was going to affect the Orlando Regional Championships. Somewhat surprisingly, exactly zero cards from the set made an appearance in the Top 8 of the tournament, with the highest placing card being in a Control deck that placed 18th. Instead, the Orlando Regional Championships saw what was possibly the least interesting Top 8 that could have possibly occurred. With six of the eight slots being Lugia VSTAR, a Lugia VSTAR win was almost certain before the Top 8 even played out. As expected, the two other decks, a Lost Zone Rayquaza and a Mew VMAX, were not enough to stop Lugia VSTAR and the deck won yet another Regional Championships in the hands of Andrew Hedrick.

With the two largest Regional Championships of all time being won by Lugia VSTAR, one has to wonder if the deck is even beatable. Sure, the deck has not won every single event since its release, so it must be beatable in some capacity. But is there anything in the format that can defeat it consistently? Well, the answer to that is complicated, but I think it is possible.

Beating Lugia VSTAR

Lugia VSTAR has one of the most exploitable game plans in the Standard format, yet, for some reason, the deck just cannot be stopped. One of the easiest ways that you can disrupt the deck is simply by using something like Aerodactyl VSTAR or Path to the Peak to shut down Lugia VSTAR’s Summoning Star VSTAR Ability, to stop the Archeops from coming into play. However, this strategy runs into issues when you are forced to go second — especially in the case of Aerodactyl VSTAR or problems with Pumpkaboo that can get rid of your Path to the Peak. Despite this, Mew VMAX has seen continuous success in this format, largely due to the fact that the variance can sometimes come up favorably for the combination of Judge and Path to the Peak, or just an easy turn 2 Ancient Star to completely shut Lugia VSTAR out of the game. In fact, Grant Hays made use of both of these strategies in his Top 8 Mew VMAX deck from the Orlando Regional Championships.

Another way to take advantage of Lugia VSTAR’s game plan is to Knock Out the Archeops. In a game, Lugia VSTAR can only revive two Archeops, meaning that if you were able to take a Knock Out on both of them, the Lugia VSTAR player would be unable to accelerate Energy for the remainder of the game. This strategy is a bit more difficult to abuse, but some decks can make use of it. The game plan is especially strong for Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX, which can Knock Out an Archeops with using Duraludon VMAX, meaning that there is no way for Yveltal to be powered up in a single turn. This by extension, means that Duraludon VMAX cannot be Knocked Out on the immediate next turn. This puts the opponent in a sort of pickle, where they have to either put Yveltal on the Bench and use Archeops’s Primal Turbo Ability to attach Energy to Yveltal in hopes of not being hit with a Boss's Orders or, if they do not do that, the Duraludon VMAX player can just play a Boss’s Orders on the other Archeops, which also locks the opponent out of Yveltal. Either way, Duraludon VMAX is able to make excellent use of removing Archeops from the opponent’s board.

Another method of beating Lugia VSTAR is a tried and true method for beating many decks in the Pokemon TCG, which is simply just running them out of Energy cards. This strategy probably requires the most dedication, as Lugia VSTAR’s astounding 16 Energy is a lot of Energy cards to have to remove from the board over many turns, but thanks to the Yveltal from Celebrations, running Lugia VSTAR decks out of Energy is surprisingly possible. At the Orlando Regional Championships, many top players, including Azul Garcia Griego and fellow writer Grant Manley, all played a Control strategy based on one Sander Wojcik played at the Liverpool Regional Championships that operated with the same goal — beating Lugia VSTAR decks by running them out of Energy cards.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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