Pokémon EUIC: Lessons from the European International Championship
May 1, 2023
Elena - Gaia Storm
Giratina, Lugia, Katana, Event, Deck list, Championship, Pokémon, cortex
In case you missed it, the European International Championship (EUIC to shorten) took place in London and it was such an incredible event for many reasons. In this article, I want to tackle a few interesting aspects like the metagame spread, best decks and interesting takeaways. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Pokémon EUIC: Why was the event so important?
Just for those of you that are not very familiar with the Pokémon TCG competitive circuit and are looking to get into it, Pokémon International Championships - or ICs - are the largest and most important events of the year (not counting the World Championships, for obvious reasons). There are only four ICs in the entire year and players get crazy about them because prize and championship points increase dramatically. You can check all the details in this link.
So ICs are quite relevant for the community, but what made this one even more special? This was the first official tournament with a different Standard format. Not only because the new expansion Scarlet and Violet became legal but also because rotation happened. In other words, this was uncharted territory for all of us and if there is something I’ve learnt when these types of new formats arise is that creativity and consistency are kings. As you can imagine, players who played the tournament spent many weeks testing an uncertain format and those who didn’t get to travel to London were eager to see what the new meta was going to be shaped.
And believe me, all this hype paid off: EUIC became the largest tournament in the history of Pokémon TCG with almost 1600 masters. I know that if you compare it with other TCGs like Yu-gi-oh! or Magic ,these numbers might not sound that impressive but for a community that has not always been at the level of such well-organized professional games, this is a huge milestone.
What deck won the Pokémon EUIC? What decks performed best?
I must confess I was honestly not expecting Arceus to win the entire event, not because the deck is bad per se but because it does not stand out as many other decks in the format. And this is precisely what Alex took advantage of. Let me give you some background.
While it is true that it is almost impossible to predict all your rounds in a 1600 players tournament, everyone had an approximate idea of what were going to be the most popular decks. Lost Box variants were the main target as they had the flexibility and strength to deal with pretty much everything in the format. Another big bet was Lugia VSTAR, who still survived the rotation by combining itself with the all-powerful Single Strike attackers like Tyranitar V. I was expecting these two decks in large percentages and, in fact, they ended up becoming the two most popular decks, followed by Goodra VSTAR (which in all honesty is another Lost Box variant), Mew VMAX and Gardevoir ex.
Arceus Duraludon by Alex Schemanske | 1st Place Pokémon EUIC
4 Arceus V 3 Arceus VSTAR 2 Duraludon V 2 Duraludon VMAX 2 Drapion V 1 Aloan Vulpix V 1 Aloan Vulpix VSTAR 1 Lumineon V 1 Radiant Gardevoir
4 Double Turbo Energy 4 Metal Energy 3 Fighting Energy 2 Water Energy
4 Professor's Research 3 Colress's Experiment 3 Judge 3 Boss's Orders 1 Cheren's Care 1 Raihan 4 Ultra Ball 4 Nest Ball 1 Switch 1 Escape Rope 1 Choice Belt 4 Lost City
The idea is pretty simple: have an out to use against every popular strategy in the tournament! Duraludon is almost impossible from an unprepared Lugia to deal with, Vulpix just blocks all the attacks from Gardevoir ex builds, two copies of Drapion are here for the Mew VMAX matchup and four Lost Cities ensure you win against Lost Box by leaving them without attackers. Now, the key here is that this was an excellent deck that was prepared to deal with the most popular and standardized decks. And it clearly worked very well.
Now, there is something I want to highlight here. I feel this was a really smart choice for the beginning of the format as the meta is still underdeveloped but once the format starts to evolve it is possible that this changes. You know, in the TCGs there is this funny wave effect where an antimeta becomes meta and then suddenly the metadecks start teching against them. I feel this is what can happen with this Arceus build. In fact, I have already seen some Gardevoir decks running something to get rid of Vulpix and avoid being locked out of the game. So, kudos to Alex for perfectly identifying all these signals and building around them,
But of course, there were many other successful decks. A very interesting stat is that the deck with the best conversion (meaning, number of players in the event that advanced to Day 2) was Goodra VSTAR. This is understandable if we consider that Goodra is very well equipped to deal with Lugia VSTAR and, specially, Lost Box, which were the most popular decks on the event.
Goodra LZ Box by Aidan Khus | 5th Place Pokémon EUIC
4 Comfey 3 Hisuian Goodra V 3 Hisuian Goodra VSTAR 2 Drapion V 1 Radiant Greninja 1 Cramorant
Perhaps the most interesting thing here is that many players were kinda expecting Giratina Lost Box to dominate and the deck actually flopped a little bit. As things stands, Giratina has a very difficult match up against pure Lost Zone builds and I suspect that is the reason it didn’t do better. However, if Goodra becomes the new “BDIF”, Giratina can actually make a very strong comeback as it has a really good matchup against it.
Pokémon EUIC: What lessons can we learn from it?
Well, there are a couple of things we can walk away with. I think it is clear that in times of uncertainty, players are going to always opt to go for the most consistent and strong strategy because trying to use different tech cards for a specific match up is just too early and might not even pay off. That is why most of the people I know decided to play either Lugia or Lost Box.
Another important point here is that unless you are prepared to deal with the broader spectrum of decks, it is not worth playing one deck that is effective against just one deck because, yes, maybe the majority of the players will be running that but what if you hit 3 “random” decks in the first 3 rounds? You are basically out of the competition. Always try to play something that will give you chances against everything and rely on your testing and ability to get the win (and sometimes, you need to pray a little bit to the Pokémon Gods to help you with a nice topdeck).
And what about you, Elena?
In case you are wondering, I played EUIC and it was a fantastic experience. I lost my win-and-in in a Lugia mirror where my opponent was able to quickly set up one Duraludon VMAX. I basically had nothing to deal with it in my list, so I had to scoop but these were nice games overall.
I ended up really exhausted but very happy to have the opportunity to travel to London and get to see many friends. Also, not to brag about it but the Pokémon Center pop-up store was just insane. At some point, I think that getting in to buy some exclusive Pokémon merchan became more important than the tournament itself! Also, a quick funny note about that. For whatever reason, I can’t buy proper adult-size clothing because they are way too big for me so I always need to fight with kids for the t-shirts I want (good thing here is that everything is actually cheaper!).
Oh, and by the way, I decided to play Cortex sleeves for the event. Normally, I would always get Katana sleeves for large regionals but I really really wanted to play black sleeves and I didn’t have any Katana packages of that color. I have to say that I really liked the feeling and texture of the Cortex and when I got deck-checked at the end of the day (after 8 rounds), I had zero issues with the judges. It is true, however, that I think I will still stick to Katana but I was impressed with Cortex!
I really think that having such a large tournament is a great example of how eager the Pokémon community is to play and how much we’ve grown over the years. Hopefully, we will keep having more events like that and perhaps a prize re-structure but this is a conversation for another time. Thanks for reading!
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.