My last article covered the Charizard ex list that took first and fourth place at San Antonio Regionals, but there is still a lot to talk about. San Antonio was the largest TPCi tournament in history, and it sets the tone for the metagame going forward. Charizard ex was the most popular deck at the event, with nearly a 20% meta share in Day 1 and further increasing that into Day 2 — this is nearing pre-rotation Lugia VSTAR levels of representation, which is almost unfathomable because the current format has so many strong and viable decks. In its prime, Lugia VSTAR was arguably the best deck, and some even said that it was the only competitive deck.
Our metagame has been rather diverse for awhile now, so it was strange (and significant) to see only one deck show up in such numbers. Furthermore, Charizard ex was able to convert by winning and yours truly making Top 4. Caleb Gedemer almost got in there as well, losing a win-and-in to Top 8, however, there were the only three Charizard ex in the Top 20, with three more rounding out the Top 32 at 29th, 31st, and 32nd. That’s six in Top 32, which is a strong showing, but not something that I would call dominant.
The fact remains that Charizard ex has a lot of close and losing matchups, and although it is good, it is not unfair. I yapped about Charizard ex enough in the last article, so now I want to focus on everything else as a wider perspective on the meta.
The Current Meta
Two extremely uncommon decks had standout performances at this massive tournament, showing that this format still has something left to give. Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR might be a criminally underrepresented deck in the current format, after its Top 4 run at Gdansk regional and my oh-so-hilarious joke tweet about the deck, nobody gave it a second thought. That is, until Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR’s sole representative in Top 64 ran it all the way to third place at San Antonio. Fool me once, shame on you, but fool me twice, shame on me. I’m sure that’s what many players were feeling as they got sent to the shadow realm by Canceling Cologne + Moonlight Shuriken at San Antonio. Lightning doesn’t strike twice, but Water apparently does.
Gabriel actually wrote a great piece about the Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR deck recently, so I recommend checking it out. Joseph’s Top 4 list cut the Trekking Shoes entirely, and added some neat and impactful tech cards such as Energy Switch, Super Rod, and Roxanne. Thanks to the 2-1 line of Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX, he could even use an unexpected second copy of the VMAX, which potentially puts the opponent onto an inconvenient Prize map. This list is definitely on the tricky and techy side of things, which might be what Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR needs. With this archetype’s double-Top 4 breakout across a few weeks despite is low usage rate, it would behoove competitive players to test out the deck and take it more seriously.
Another underplayed deck with breakout results was Pidgeot ex control. This deck takes the typical Snorlax stall deck and turns it into a proactive monster that uses Quick Search every single turn. This deck was played by Italy’s Alessandro Cremascoli for some consistent but middling Day 2 finishes across LAIC, Gdansk, and Stuttgart. With no American tournaments in the interim, a lot of US players were caught off guard by this unexpected version of Snorlax — Hale Obernolte made Top 8 with the deck at San Antonio, and former Senior World Champion Liam Halliburton bubbled out at tenth place.
I had the distinct pleasure of getting rocked by Hale in Day 2, and I asked him about this deck. He said that it is consistent and auto-wins the other Snorlax deck, but auto-loses to Giratina VSTAR. The deck has since piqued my interest, and I will discuss it more shortly. The more straightforward Snorlax deck also made Top 8. Both decks were brought down by Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Giratina VSTAR, respectively, with their surplus of switching cards and low-maintenance attackers. Unfortunately, it seems that Snorlax remains a metagame threat that we all have to deal with. This will only be exacerbated by Charizard ex‘s popularity, as Snorlax loves to snack on Charizard ex because it is its easiest matchup.
This concludes the public portion of this article.
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