Read the Win — Lugia VSTAR / Archeops for the World Championship

Hello PokeBeach readers! Isaiah here, and I am happy to be writing another article for you all! Last time, I discussed the Lost Zone Giratina VSTAR archetype and its potential newfound strength in the Paldea Evolved format before the North America International Championship. While the deck ultimately did not place in the Top 32 of the tournament, the deck did put up a fair number of decent lower-end results, including in the hands of 2019 World Champion, Henry Brand. Instead, a different deck ended up making its massive blast from the past, with a Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX / Inteleon VMAX deck taking down the tournament in the hands of Cyrus Davis. There is a lot to be said about what happened to lead to this deck winning the North America International Championship, but the simplest way to put it is that the deck is much better than many people initially gave it credit for, myself included. The deck is, at least in theory, supposed to be able to beat Lost Zone and Gardevoir ex, and with a somewhat random surge in the popularity of Arceus VSTAR, the groundwork was laid for the deck’s success with a perfect storm of great matchups.

Where the Deck Stands

Following the North America International Championship, one deck felt noticeably absent from people’s conversations and recaps of the event, and that was Lugia VSTAR / Archeops. In all honesty, I do not really know what happened to Lugia VSTAR at the North America International Championship. The deck did have one appearance in the Top 8 and one more appearance in the Top 32, but after the deck’s success in the Scarlet and Violet format, the deck seems like it should have been destined for greater things. In general, it seems like the deck should not have gotten worse with the release of Paldea Evolved, with cards like Squawkabilly ex and Jet Energy being nice additions to the archetype, but the deck just did not do very well. Maybe the deck was hurt by the release of Spiritomb or the surge in popularity of one of its harder matchups; Gardevoir ex, but the deck still seems like it should have done better with generally good matchups against most of the decks in the format.

I also think a hugely significant factor in the deck’s underwhelming performance at the North America International Championship had to do with the most common deck lists at the event; the various Lugia VSTAR players that I sat near throughout the weekend, as well as the two that I played against during the tournament, mostly seemed like they removed Single Strike Urshifu VMAX from their deck list. While this makes sense in the new “Colorless Lugia” version of Lugia VSTAR, removing the deck’s only answer to Duraludon VMAX despite the card fitting so perfectly into the deck anyway in the Single Strike variant makes no sense to me. Many players added Stonjourner as a replacement, but even that is simply not enough to deal with the cards that Single Strike Urshifu VMAX is meant to take care of.

With the World Championship just under one month away, there is a lot of mystery surrounding what deck is going to be the best play for the event, or at least what decks will be the most popular. Last year at Worlds, the expectation for the meta was pretty linear, with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR clearly being the best deck and it ended up being over 50% of the Day 1 metagame. This year, however, things are a bit more unique, with the clear best deck in format having its fair share of flaws, including a poor matchup against both of the decks in the finals of the North America International Championship (as indicated by the results of the Top 4 matches). As a result of this uncertainty, I am confident that a Lugia VSTAR deck is one of the best possible plays for the World Championship thanks to its matchup spread as well as not being punished by the inherent structure of Day 1. In order to best understand how this is the case, we must first understand how Day 1 of the World Championship works.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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