Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you all! Last time, I talked about Xander Pero’s latest Mew VMAX technology: Dreepy. This new tech saw some success at the Vancouver Regional Championship two weekends ago, but the event was largely dominated by more tried-and-true ideas. The two highest-placing Mew VMAX decks were both the Aerodactyl VSTAR variant of the deck, and they finished in the event’s Top 16. However, there were no Mew VMAX in Top 8.
Furthermore, this event saw no top placements for conventional Lost Zone variants such as Rayquaza or Kyogre. Instead, in a story that we have seen many times before, the majority of Top 8 — six of the eight spots — was made up of Lugia VSTAR. There was also one player playing Arceus VSTAR / Duraludon VMAX and another playing Hisuian Goodra VSTAR with the Lost Zone engine. While both of these decks made it to the Top 4 and one made it to the finals, it was ultimately Lugia VSTAR that won in the hands of the now-five-time Regional Champion Ian Robb.
The list Ian Robb played has been one of the most successful Lugia VSTAR lists recently. Ian and I both played it for the last two Regionals, racking up a total of three Top 16 finishes in addition to his big win in Vancouver. In order to understand what made our list so strong, though, one has to look at how Lugia VSTAR decks have evolved over the last few months.
The Evolution of Lugia VSTAR
The last time I wrote about Lugia VSTAR was shortly after the Arlington Regional Championship, which was won by Connor Finton. His list was relatively uninteresting, but was essentially the standard at the time, with two Boss's Orders and two Serena as well as a Bird Keeper for Articuno. The one thing that was not super standard was Raikou, even though it had seen some success in the past. This event marked the return of Raikou into the mainstream, though, so it is certainly worth mentioning.
The next TPCi Regional was held in San Diego in early January. This event was one of Lugia VSTAR’s weakest Regionals to date, with just one in the entire Top 8. However, amusingly, this Regional also ended up being one of the most important Regionals for the deck yet. This event was won by Gibby Archer-Tang and his Vikavolt V / Aerodactyl VSTAR deck, which dismantled several Lugia VSTAR decks throughout the tournament.
The threat of Aerodactyl VSTAR going forward was enough to make people start considering potential answers. With only one good answer in Standard, Canceling Cologne, that was the natural conclusion for many players, and at the Liverpool Regional Championship the next weekend, many players included one or more Canceling Cologne in their deck lists. However, adding Canceling Cologne to your deck only helps if you can find it when it matters.
There were two schools of thought when it came to searching for Canceling Cologne. The first of which was Skyla, which was a good option for finding any Trainer card needed throughout the game. On the other hand, some players chose to play Irida, which was good for finding an Item and then a Lumineon V or Manaphy as well. Both options saw success in Liverpool, but Irida became considered the stronger of the two cards, largely thanks to its Top 4 finish in the hands of Raz Wolpe, and it became the go-to option for many players.
The following weekend in Orlando, Andrew Hedrick took down the tournament with Lugia VSTAR, giving the deck its second Regional Championship win of the season. His list was unremarkable, but he chose to include Irida despite excluding Canceling Cologne, changing the card’s role from a tech to a staple. Additionally, Andrew played a Wash Water Energy, which was an ultimately short-lived tech that was intended to help out against Lost Zone decks that played Raikou and Sableye. With a relatively uninteresting list, many were left wondering about what was going to happen at the next big event: the Oceania International Championship.
When it came to the Oceania International Championship, Lugia VSTAR’s development only stagnated further. The highest-finishing list, piloted by Regan Retzloff, looked remarkably similar to Isaiah Bradner’s list from the Orlando Regional Championship. However, Raz Wolpe came back again with a Top 8 finish with one of the most surprising innovations yet: Escape Rope.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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