How Mew VMAX won the World Championships 2023 | Pokémon


This article may arrive a bit late in terms of timing but I still think it is very important to post it nevertheless. We never dedicated enough space to analyze what happened in the 2023 edition of the World Championships - so I think we should fix that!

Unlike most of the previous occasions, the 2023 event took place in Japan, which is something very unusual as almost every single edition of Worlds is scheduled in teh USA. To say that this caused a lot of excitement in the Pokémon community would be an understatement and I could spend hours talking about everything that happened in the very packed weekend of the second week of August.

This year, I decided that I truly wanted to play at worlds and was lucky enough to seal my invite without too many problems. I spent two amazing weeks in Japan and I think that it will be very interesting to do a deep analysis of the top decks that reached the top cut and why Mew VMAX ended up winning.

Yokohama: The first ever Japanese Worlds

It would be impossible to talk about this Worlds without acknowledging a couple of very important factors that contributed to the incredible hype of Yokohama 2023.

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First of all, it was the first time in the history of Pokémon TCG where World Championships were held in Japan. This was something that had been demanded by the Asian community for a while and I totally get it. There were so many people that wanted this to happen. Also, I feel this was the right tribute to Kanto. As you might know, the different Pokémon regions are inspired in real places. Kanto, the first region ever, is a direct reference to Japan, so it made sense that we had Worlds there.

Second, this was the first "normal" Worlds since COVID. It is true that the previous year we had Worlds in London, but this event operated under very specific circumstances and many players could not participate due to Regionals and Local Tournaments being canceled. With the new season, however, the competitive circuit was reactivated with the corresponding considerations and players finally got the chance to grind for points at a regular rate and get the always-dreamed invite.

Third, the metagame was the most diverse one we’ve had in a while. It was very difficult to anticipate what could win the event because, honestly, there were like 8 decks that had a lot of potential: Arceus VSTAR, Gardevoir ex, Lugia VSTAR, Mew VMAX, Lost Box variants and more. My colleague Zack wrote a detailed article some weeks ago and I completely agree with it. In fact, I played Day 1 of the tournament and didn’t face the same deck twice in 7 rounds.

All of the above mentioned points made this event a very, very special one. In fact, many people I know decided to go ahead and travel to Japan just to have the opportunity to live this experience here, see the country, enter the venue and buy exclusive merch. I was able to do everything and play on the top of that!

Worlds in Yokohama: The expected metagame

With the ground elements already set, let’s now get a bit "techy" and talk about the metagame. It was very difficult to predict or even to tech against specific decks because as I just explained, there were a lot of options. Of course, many of the viable decks had advantages and disadvantages so in the end it was a matter of the own player to pick one. In case that you are wondering, I decided to go with Palkia, which is definitely an under-the-radar kind of strategy that I like a lot. In theory, it has a decent matchup against many decks as long as you open well (which didn’t always happen).

Anyways, in a neutral environment (meaning, not taking into consideration counters and things like that) my personal tierlist for the event was the following:

  • Tier S (decks that have a lot of tools and can win against anything as long as they don’t hit a counter deck): Gardevoir ex, Giratina VSTAR and Lost Box.
  • Tier 1 (decks that work very well the majority of the time and that have enough resources to battle against other decks): Arceus Giratina and Mew VMAX.
  • Tier 2 (decks that can lack consistency from time to time but can be really good once set up or against the right match ups): Lugia VSTAR, other Arceus Variants (w/ Umbreon and/or Flying Pikachu and Duraludon VMAX), Urshifu Inteleon, Palkia and Chien-Pao ex.

Woah, now that I finished writing this paragraph, no wonder why I didn’t hit a repeated match up in the entire tournament! The options were so wide. Here is an image of the official deck breakdown:

Talking now about numbers, I must say that I was a bit surprised by what ended up being chosen by players. Lugia was a very popular choice and it makes sense. I almost played it but the deck sometimes relies too much on coin flips and luck for me to be comfortable with it, but once it is set up it can pretty much destroy everything in a few turns. Also, many people decided to stick with Gardevoir. In the last waves of the metagame, many players had opted to go hard against Gardevoir but if you are about to play the World Championships and have the opportunity to play the most consistent deck in the format, why not doing it?

With this myriad of options, what ended up winning?

The Top-8 decks

After a very intense Day 1 and Day 2, these were the decks that made it into the Top-8: 2 Lost Box Giratina, 3 Mew Meloetta, 2 Gardevoir and 1 Lost Box.

I won’t say I was not expecting these results but I ended up being a bit disappointed. Where was the spice? I guess I really wanted to see something crazy like Mega Audino, a rogue deck coming out of nowhere and winning the entire event. But if you check my previous tierlist with what ended up happening, this time I was not that far off.

I must confess that I was rooting for Mexican player Victor García to take the victory home with Gardevoir. He is a personal friend of mine, an amazing player and an even better person. He was not able to beat Tord Reklev in the Top-8 but still had an incredible run and then we had the chance to hang out on our way to Kyoto, so very happy for him.

If you want to see all the lists, you can check the following link, but for this article I am just going to include examples of the three archetypes that were part of the 2023 elite.

First, we have Gardevoir. This is the list that Tord played and got him an incredible 2nd place. I think this list is as consistent as a Gardevoir list can ever be. Perhaps the most interesting inclusion here is the addition of Lumineon V and Professor’s Research to ensure the draw support you need mid and late game. This was clearly a personal bet from Tord since Luminion was not always included in the builds. Anyways, Gardevoir clearly deserved a spot in this Worlds because, as long as it didn’t hit many Lost Box decks, it had the capability to beat anything.

Pokémon (18)

3 Ralts ASR 60
1 Ralts SIT 67
3 Kirlia SIT 68
1 Kirlia CRE 60
2 Gardevoir ex SVI 86
2 Gardevoir CRE 61
1 Zacian V CEL 16
1 Cresselia LOR 74
1 Mew CEL 11
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Manaphy BRS 41
1 Lumineon V BRS 40

Energy (12)

10 Psychic Energy 5
2 Reversal Energy PAL 192

Trainer (30)

3 Iono PAL 185
2 Professor's Research SVI 189
2 Boss's Orders PAL 172
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
4 Level Ball BST 129
3 Ultra Ball SVI 196
3 Rare Candy SVI 191
2 Fog Crystal CRE 140
2 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Pal Pad SVI 182
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
1 Artazon PAL 171
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
 

Then, we have Lost Box Giratina. Giratina is a very well-rounded deck, almost "midrange" if you wish. There is only one tiny problem with the deck and that's that it sometimes can brick a little bit, perhaps even more than a traditional Lost Box. Nonetheless, it is a deck with multiple options, that can attack with a very powerful Pokémon in mid game and that also has a very strong control element thanks to Path to the Peak. This is the list that American player Michael Pramawat took to the event and got the third place:

Pokémon (16)

4 Comfey LOR 79
3 Giratina V LOR 130
3 Giratina VSTAR LOR 131
2 Sableye LOR 70
1 Cramorant LOR 50
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Snorlax LOR 143
1 Manaphy BRS 41

Energy (14)

4 Jet Energy PAL 190
4 Psychic Energy 5
3 Grass Energy 1
3 Water Energy 3

Trainer (30)

4 Colress's Experiment LOR 155
2 Boss's Orders PAL 172
1 Iono PAL 185
4 Mirage Gate LOR 163
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
4 Switch Cart ASR 154
3 Nest Ball SVI 181
3 Super Rod PAL 188
2 Escape Rope BST 125
1 Choice Belt PAL 176
2 Path to the Peak CRE 148

Again, I feel this is an example of a consistent decklist. One could argue that Giratina could benefit from more counts of Path to the Peak or a small tweak here and there. But there is something that I can tell you as a person that has played Mew VMAX for many months: If Giratina is not teched against Mew, it is in trouble. Then again, the question is if you should invest 1 card of your precious 60 for just a single match up but that is a debate for another time.

 

The last deck I am going to be talking about (until we reach the winning list, of course) is Lost Box.

Pokémon (12)

4 Comfey LOR 79
2 Sableye LOR 70
1 Cramorant LOR 50
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 46
1 Kyogre CEL 3
1 Manaphy BRS 41
1 Dragonite V PR-SW 154
1 Pidgeot V LOR 137

Energy (11)

5 Water Energy 3
4 Psychic Energy 5
2 Lightning Energy 4
Trainer (37)
4 Colress's Experiment LOR 155
2 Roxanne ASR 150
1 Klara CRE 145
4 Mirage Gate LOR 163
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
4 Switch Cart ASR 154
3 Escape Rope BST 125
3 Nest Ball SVI 181
2 Energy Recycler BST 124
2 Super Rod PAL 188
2 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Echoing Horn CRE 136
2 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
2 Artazon PAL 171
 

In case that some of you are a bit new to the game and don’t understand why there is a difference between Lost Box and Lost Box Giratina, you have a point. The engine remains the same, what changes in this case are the Pokémon you use to attack. In a Lost Box Giratina, your strategy is centered around a very big and powerful Pokémon that can swap the field in mid and late game.

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A "traditional" Lost Box has a bigger emphasis on one-prize Pokémon like Cramorant and Sableye. It is normally much more difficult to play because you need to keep perfect track of your energies and resources, especially if you want to use Kyogre correctly. Kyogre is the card you use in your very last turn and if you’ve done your sequencing in the right way, you should typically be getting 2 or 3 prizes with it.

The winning list: Why Mew VMAX? And: how?!

I am going to confess one thing. Mew winning was a possibility but it was not what I would have bet for. However, seeing how the metagame had changed and what players opted out for during the event, it felt almost inevitable now that I think of it with a clear mind *insert a Thanos meme here*.

Consider the following. Mew VMAX was really popular at the beginning of the format so players decided to include Spiritomb to counter it. The ones that could afford it run 1 or even 2 Drapion V. But suddenly, people stopped playing Mew in large quantities and for a moment, it almost disappeared from the most popular Standard decks. So this led players to start cutting Spiritomb and Drapion to favor consistency cards.

Actually, if you see the builds that players run to Yokohama, some of these Mew counters are none to be seen. And this is how Mew VMAX took the chance. The truth is that Mew is a deck that is so aggressive and quick that needs to be respected. It capitalizes on your opponent not opening great to get ahead of the prize race very quickly and has the potential to end the game in just a few attacks. This is the deck that won the entire event, piloted by American player Vance Kelley.

Vance Kelley's Mew VMAX list: Winner World Championships 2023

Pokémon (13)

4 Mew V CRZ 60
3 Mew VMAX FST 114
4 Genesect V FST 185
1 Meloetta FST 124
1 Oricorio FST 42

Energy (7)

4 Fusion Strike Energy FST 244
3 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Trainer (40)

2 Elesa's Sparkle FST 233
2 Boss's Orders PAL 172
1 Iono PAL 185
1 Judge SVI 176
4 Power Tablet FST 236
4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
4 Ultra Ball SVI 196
4 Cram-o-matic FST 229
2 Nest Ball SVI 181
2 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
2 Switch Cart ASR 154
1 Escape Rope BST 125
1 Pal Pad SVI 182
3 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
2 Choice Belt PAL 176
1 Box of Disaster LOR 154
2 Lost City LOR 161
1 Path to the Peak CRE 148
1 Crystal Cave EVS 144


I overall like the deck a lot as well as the choice of the cards. Consistency has been largely prioritized here with the inclusion of a third Seal Stone. Box of Disaster is the only "tech" card that I can see on the list and it is a great addition against Gardevoir ex, which is the only deck that can usually K.o. a Mew in just one hit with a one-prize attacker.

The rest, I would say, is pretty standard. I personally like very much the inclusion of Oricorio as it really forces your opponent to have a bigger damage output of the field to threaten your Mew. Personally speaking, I might have only considered making room for another Path to the Peak but the reality is that Crystal Cave was a better addition if you wanted to improve the Lost Box Match up. In case you want to see the finals, you can check the official video here:

Closing thoughts

Yokohama was truly an experience and it proved that sometimes, it is better to aim for consistency rather than doing some last-minute experimentation. Another thing that Yokohama proves is that you should always respect the top decks and really consider if you need to tech against them.

All in all, I think that Mew was a very rightful winner and I am very happy and thankful for having been able to experience this edition live.

Autor: Elena (Gaia Storm)

Elena has been playing Pokémon Trading Card Game since 2011 and has never stopped. With her partner, she runs Gaia Storm, one of the largest Pokémon TCG Youtube channels in the world. She has a problem remembering the names of all the Pokémon but tends to open the most broken Pokémon packs.