Last weekend, the Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championships 2022 took place in London, alongside tournaments in the franchise’s video game entries, including Pokémon Sword and Shield, Pokkén Tournament, and Pokémon Go. Around 200 players participated in the TCG tournament, but only one took home the top prize.
This year’s TCG Masters Champion was Ondřej Škubal of the Czech Republic, whose winning deck centered on the powerhouse combination of Arceus and Flying Pikachu. The archetype proved popular at Worlds as the top three finishers all piloted a variation on the deck.
Today, however, we’ll be breaking down Škubal’s list, examining the synergies and explaining how it matches up against other popular Standard Pokémon decks in the meta.
First, the winning decklist:
|4x Arceus V
|4x Double Turbo Energy
|3x Arceus VSTAR
|4x Boss’s Orders
|4x Lightning Energy
|3x Flying Pikachu V
|2x Professor’s Research
|3x Fighting Energy
|2x Flying Pikachu VMAX
|1x Capture Energy
|2x Hisuian Decidueye V
|4x Quick Ball
|2x Hisuian Decidueye VSTAR
|4x Ultra Ball
|1x Evolution Incense
|1x Crobat V
|4x Path to the Peak
|1x Lumineon V
The deck is built around the ubiquitous Arceus VSTAR, which has dominated much of the metagame since it was released with the Brilliant Stars set in February of this year. Undeniably powerful, Arceus VSTAR provides unmatched energy acceleration in the form of Trinity Nova, a three-energy cost attack that hits for 200 damage. The 200 damage is nice, but the real draw here is the ability to search your deck for three basic energy cards and attach them to your Pokémon V in any way.
As a bonus, Arceus VSTAR comes with the Starbirth VSTAR Power, which allows you to search your deck for any two cards and add them to your hand. Remember, you can only use a single VSTAR Power in any given match, but you shouldn’t need to if you use Trinity Nova and Starbirth correctly.
Because of Arceus’ ability to search out specific cards, the deck can comfortably run lower counts of a variety of Pokémon and Trainers; notice the large number of single-copy cards in the list. The list has also spread its energy base across three different types - which is normally a surefire way to stretch yourself thin. Here, however, you can rely on Arceus to get you the cards you need in any given situation.
Arceus VSTAR has been paired up with the Flying Pikachu line, which surprised many when the archetype first manifested. But the stalling potential of Flying Pikachu V’s Thunder Shock and Fly attacks are great for providing time to power up your primary attackers. Meanwhile, Flying Pikachu VMAX’s Max Balloon attack has some decent utility against decks relying on Basic Pokémon.
In a meta filled to the brim with Arceus VSTAR, it makes sense to tech against it. As such, both Škubal and runner-up Daichi Shimada included Hisuian Decidueye VSTAR in their builds. This fighting-type attacker can hit Arceus for weakness, doing double damage. Its Somersault Feathers attack hits for a base 160 damage, or 320 against Arceus VSTAR, which is enough for a one-hit KO.
In today’s meta, the primary card draw engine is the Shady Dealings Inteleon line. Škubal’s list opted for the more space-efficient Bibarel engine instead, which frees up around five slots. Škubal used this space to drop in popular utility players like Lumineon V, Crobat V and Pumpkaboo for more situational coverage.
The heart of any strong Pokémon TCG deck is the ability to reliably play the attackers the deck is built around. Škubal’s list boasts four copies of both Quick Ball and Ultra Ball, ensuring consistency in finding Arceus VSTAR and Flying Pikachu VMAX. These search cards could also be used to find a Bibarel if some card draw was needed, or a Pumpkaboo if there happened to be a disruptive Stadium in play.
Speaking of Stadiums, the list features a full playset of Path to the Peak. The Chilling Reign card’s ability to “turn off” your opponent’s Pokémon V is absolutely powerful - just remember that it also affects your own Pokémon. For disruption, Škubal included four copies each of Marnie and Boss’s Orders, supporter cards that make it difficult for the opponent to consistently set up big turns.
We’ve already mentioned that, thanks to Hisuian Decidueye VSTAR, Škubal’s deck was well-equipped to handle Arceus-based decks. However, another archetype that was popular at Worlds was Palkia.
Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR is a deck that thrives on full benches on both sides of the table. As such, running the Inteleon card search engine is incredibly synergistic. However, where it falls short against Arceus VSTAR and Flying Pikachu VMAX is in its typing. Palkia’s Star Portal VSTAR Power is limited to only Water energy, which significantly narrows the options for backup attackers. The fourth-place list from James Cox opted for Radiant Greninja, Crabominable V and Manaphy.
In the end, though, the colourless nature of Arceus VSTAR proved triumphant. The ability for the archetype to utilise several different energy and Pokémon types makes it far more nimble. Arceus’ capacity to search out any colour of basic energy cards opens up an enormous pool of supporting attackers, allowing for greater coverage against several different archetypes.
This is by far the greatest strength of the Arceus VSTAR meta, and proves why the card has dominated the Pokémon TCG competitive scene for much of 2022.