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2023 Europe International Championship VGC Preview Roundtable
We gather our VGC experts to provide insight on the Regulation Set C format and how it influences the metagame at EUIC.
The Europe International Championships (EUIC) are quickly approaching alongside the new Regulation Set C format for VGC. EUIC will be the first international tournament of the 2023 season to feature the Ruinous Pokémon from Paldea: Wo-Chien, Chien-Pao, Ting-Lu, and Chi-Yu. These Legendary Pokémon pack a serious punch and are sure to change how Trainers approach teambuilding—we’re already seeing certain Pokémon falling by the wayside as others rise in the ranks.
To get a handle on all the excitement leading up to the big event, we’ve invited back three top Pokémon VGC minds—Aaron Traylor, Aaron Zheng, and Markus Stadter—to discuss what to expect when the battles get underway. This discussion was conducted before Fort Wayne Regionals took place from March 31 to April 2, 2023. They’re joined by Chris Shepperd from the official Pokémon website.
Remember that you can catch all the EUIC action live April 14–16, 2023. Visit the official Pokémon YouTube channel for details about the stream.
Shepperd: All right, are we all here?
Stadter: Good morning and good night!
Zheng: I am here!
Shepperd: All right, we’re all here! Thanks so much for joining from all corners of the world. Aaron, I hear you’re in Japan?
Stadter: I hear he’s getting ready for Worlds, haha.
Shepperd: Incredible. I guess having folks joining in from three different continents is a good intro to an International Championships discussion.
Stadter: I’m particularly excited for this one. Can’t wait to talk about Regulation Set C!
Shepperd: Let’s talk about Regulation Set C then! These new rules are about to go into effect, and EUIC will be about two full weeks into its stretch. Before it officially begins, what are players doing to prepare?
Stadter: I love big tournaments with a fresh format.
Shepperd: Interesting! I had thought they’d be difficult for players to adjust to.
Stadter: We all know that most teams and strategies might be suboptimal, but it can be refreshing to start from scratch after players learned to perfect the previous format.
Traylor: I think the biggest thing for players is getting comfortable with the Ruinous Pokémon [Wo-Chien, Chien-Pao, Ting-Lu, and Chi-Yu], which are new and notable not only because they are new Pokémon, but because their Abilities are unlike anything we’ve seen in Pokémon before.
Stadter: It’s going to be chaotic, and I like that. And it will be difficult for sure! I think players will try what they can to prepare: practice games and theorizing on scenarios. Some players probably were already sitting on some ideas since Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet came out.
Zheng: I think for many players, it’ll be about finding a strategy they are comfortable with early. There are so many viable archetypes and with the lack of an established metagame, it’s crucial to find something you really understand, especially with a limited amount of time. For me personally, I will play some games with teams including each of the four Ruinous Pokémon to understand how they function, echoing Aaron’s point.
Stadter: I totally agree. I tell anyone that asks for advice to pick a strategy early and work on it rather than trying everything and then potentially failing to settle on something they like.
Zheng: Then try to figure out which one (if any) best fits my play style.
Stadter: I think Regulation Set C will also be a great format for players to get out of their comfort zone and try some strategies they haven’t used ever before.
Shepperd: Despite all being Dark types, each of the Ruinous Pokémon very much have their own strengths. Do you think one or two will stand out? Or are there use cases where we could see all four?
Traylor: It’s hard to say right now because each Ruinous Pokémon plays in a very particular way.
Zheng: I genuinely think we will see all four have strong performances this season.
Zheng: I think Chi-Yu is an early contender since it’s a bit more intuitive to build around offense than defense. But the Abilities of all four are so strong that you can really take advantage of all of them in my opinion.
Stadter: Chien-Pao and Chi-Yu enable offensive play, Ting Lu and Wo-Chien enable defensive play. I don’t think any one of them is going to stand out like Flutter Mane has in Regulation Set B.
Traylor: Yeah, all four of the Ruinous Pokémon seem like they could be great in the long run. Each one has natural checks and balances. For example, Chien-Pao and Chi-Yu are quite strong, but it’s challenging to make them survive hits, based on their defensive stats and their typing. Ting-Lu has amazing defensive stats, but is limited by its move pool, which is an interesting puzzle that we haven’t seen before on a Pokémon of its caliber. Wo-Chien has nice defense, and wins games over a long timeframe, rather than a short one, making it weak to strategies that can take it or its partner Pokémon out quickly.
Stadter: Since the Abilities also affect your partner Pokémon, the Ruinous Pokémon either speed up (Chien-Pao & Chi-Yu) or slow down (Ting Lu & Wo-Chien) the game drastically. This is unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Zheng: I highlight Chi-Yu here over Chien-Pao mainly because Chien-Pao stand-alone is a bit more straightforward. But even if Chien-Pao is predictable, it can still be very strong as it enables physical attackers like Dragonite and Palafin, which already have become champions in Regulation Set B events. With that said, Chi-Yu isn’t just good at enabling attackers like Flutter Mane, but is also quite flexible in how you can run it.
Stadter: When players first looked into the Ruinous Pokémon, it seemed like everyone regarded Wo-Chien as the weakest, but I think that narrative has pretty much died down and they’re all seen as contenders.
Zheng: It’s very hard for me to rank the four this early on. It doesn’t feel nearly as clear to me as it did with Paradox Pokémon.
Traylor: I don’t really know if I would rank the four Ruinous Pokémon. I think that sort of misses the depth of what they do to the metagame.
Stadter: Yeah. If someone from the future traveled back in time and told me Chi-Yu was considered the strongest Ruinous Pokémon by the end of the format, I would probably say “that makes sense!” But I would say the same thing for the other three as well! Well, maybe not so much for Wo-Chien. I would be surprised if it was the strongest.
Traylor: Wo-Chien lags a little bit behind the other ones for sure, I think.
Zheng: One interesting question is whether you think a team NEEDS one of these Pokémon. Especially a team that aims to win a tournament.
Stadter: I think it is possible to play without them, but I would highly suggest using them. Their Abilities have such a unique impact on the pace of the game that you should give yourself access to.
Traylor: In my opinion, the main effect of Ruinous Pokémon is to make offense more offensive and defense more defensive. If you don’t use any Ruinous Pokémon on your team, you have to survive enhanced offense, but be aggressive in the face of enhanced defense—which is a very tall order.
Shepperd: How do they affect team construction? Are players able to slot them in to existing compositions, or are we seeing brand new teams built around them?
Zheng: Naturally, I think players will first try to slot them into existing compositions they’ve already played with in Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet. But to be honest, we’ve never played with Pokémon like this before. I think it warps team construction significantly and as time goes on people will try to construct around them a bit more specifically.
Stadter: Chi-Yu and Chien-Pao can enable overly offensive play at a level that wasn’t seen in Regulation Set B and might be strong enough to break through some of the bulky cores that were successful at the end of Regulation Set B (like Eric Rios’s winning team from the Utrecht Special Event). So I think defensive cores probably want to implement Wo-Chien or Ting-Lu (or even both!) to be able to survive against these hyper offense teams.
Shepperd: Sort of related, but International Championships are much bigger than in the past, and I suppose that means we’ll see more team variance. And playing in a new format expands that even further. How much harder is it to prepare for the unexpected in a field like this?
Zheng: Yes, it feels like a huge takeaway from this season so far is that you can’t possibly be prepared for every team and strategy. So it’s more important to have a proactive strategy that you understand.
Stadter: Early in a format you have to be ready to face anything—from no Ruinous Pokémon to all four!
Traylor: I think it’s kind of manageable because people converge on team compositions that work early, because they lose to compositions in frustrating defeats and then think more about how to beat them. I think players will have a pretty good idea of the largest threats going into EUIC. Will they predict the Top 8 perfectly? No. Will they know all of the surprise threats and the 6th Pokémon techs? Also probably not, but they should have a good idea of most of the Pokémon they’ll play against.
Shepperd: We’ve talked a lot about players not being afraid to play their own game, and it seems like this is even more important now.
Zheng: Even if the world’s best team builder gave you what may be the “meta-winning call,” there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to pilot it to success. Unless you’re Markus!
Stadter: This early on, there are very few optimized strategies to work with. So, I would encourage everyone to try experimenting a bit.
Shepperd: With all four of the Ruinous Pokémon sharing a type, are there certain Pokémon that are emerging as threats to all of them?
Stadter: Flutter Mane and Iron Hands come to mind. I think this was the first thing I thought about preparing for this format.
Traylor: Flutter Mane is so strong. It’s already on over half the teams as far as Regulation Set B goes, and I expect that usage to go even higher in Regulation Set C.
Stadter: Both were already really strong in Regulation Set B. And now Flutter Mane hits three of the Ruinous super effectively, and Iron Hands hits all four super effectively, and all those hits get a same-type attack bonus! On the contrary, Indeedee & Armarouge-centered teams that were pretty relevant in Regulation Sets A and B have three new big counters. So that alone will shift the metagame quite significantly in my opinion.
Shepperd: I was going to ask that next. What Pokémon that have been getting a lot of play are the most likely to fall off?
Traylor: Also this is a longer shot but Scizor is kind of emerging as a Pokémon that isn’t so upset about fighting Ruinous Pokémon. It is probably the best Pokémon to use the Bug-type same-type attack bonus, which annoys Wo-Chien and Ting-Lu; it can deal much of Chien-Pao’s health with Bullet Punch; and if it has a defensive Tera Type and holds an Assault Vest it can destroy Chi-Yu with Close Combat.
Stadter: Besides Indeedee and Armarouge, I think Tyranitar might be a candidate to fall off a bit. It was pretty useful in Regulation Set B to stop Indeedee and Armarouge—like on Justin Carris’s Regionals winning team, for example. Some more Pokémon that are dropping in usage: Iron Bundle and Great Tusk.
Traylor: I’m not sure if I agree with that wholeheartedly. Tyranitar with an Assault Vest in its Sand Stream can really annoy Flutter Mane and Chi-Yu, as well as Dragonite and Chien-Pao (if you avoid Sacred Sword), which I think makes it have a pretty good use case. Though of course time will tell.
Stadter: Let me put it this way: I think Tyranitar can still be good, but it will be used in different ways than it was previously since its role as a counter to Torkoal, Indeedee, and Armarouge on fast teams is no longer necessary.
Traylor: Oh, for sure. Yeah, Indeedee and Armarouge are going to chill out for a bit at a picnic and make a sandwich.
Traylor: Maushold’s defenses are also much more of a pain point in Regulation Set C than they were in Regulation Set B, and I think its usage might crater as well…
Zheng: Guys… What do we think about Dondozo?
Stadter: Dondozo is a dark horse for me at this point.
Zheng: The Paradox Pokémon significantly reduced Dondozo’s strength. It was still good but it was much easier to beat through Pokémon like Encore Iron Bundle and Iron Hands.
Stadter: Wo-Chien is really strong against it, but Dondozo still managed to be relevant with Amoonguss around and I don’t think Wo-Chien is much better against it than Amoonguss. The other three Ruinous Pokémon struggle against it.
Zheng: I think it’s something I’ll still personally want to make sure I have counterplay to. It can just single-handedly win if your team doesn’t have a real answer for it.
Traylor: Dondozo’s usage relies to some extent on Wo-Chien’s usage in my opinion. Dondozo can’t really escape the tools that Wo-Chien has to slow it down (although its partners can). Dondozo also pairs with Chi-Yu about as naturally as it paired with Gholdengo in formats past.
Stadter: We’re already seeing some Dondozo teams have success online, so I agree you shouldn’t forget about its existence.
Traylor: Grass–Tera Type Chi-Yu with Tera Blast and Flutter Mane can work together to clear Dondozo through the boosts though, so that’s something Dondozo players would have to be aware of.
Stadter: Gholdengo is another Pokémon that might drop in usage, but I think we said the same thing before Regulation Set B?
Zheng: I was just going to say that, Markus.
Stadter: With its typing and its Ability, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.
Traylor: Well, Chi-Yu is much more of a directly relevant check and counter to Gholdengo that performs some of the same roles for a team while also being able to hit hard with single-target damage (like Overheat).
Zheng: Personally, I was scared of fighting a defensive, Terastallized Gholdengo with Nasty Plot and redirection [moves like Follow Me, Rage Powder, or Ally Switch] in Regulation Set B.
Shepperd: One thing I’m picking up from this conversation is that the Ruinous Pokémon are valuable and will be everywhere, but they won’t dominate the discourse. Lots of other important decisions about other Pokémon need to be made.
Zheng: Yes, they will be a huge component to teams but they’re not so strong that they win singlehandedly.
Shepperd: We’ve had moments where a Pokémon is so dominant the rest of the team just kind of falls into place around it.
Stadter: The Ruinous Pokémon enable their team members while possessing a balanced internal strength. At least that’s how I see it right now:
- Chi-Yu and Flutter Mane
- Chien-Pao and Dragonite/Palafin
- Ting-Lu and Amoonguss
- Wo-Chien and Arcanine
All of these are natural cores that are pretty strong, but the Ruinous Pokémon aren’t necessarily the stars on these compositions.
Traylor: I think it’s interesting to compare them to the Legendary guardian deity Pokémon from Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon. To counter Tapu Koko or Tapu Lele, you needed something that could overwrite their terrain—well, how about another guardian deity? And checking Ruinous Pokémon is a lot less straightforward. If you want to slow Chien-Pao and its partner’s damage output, you could use Wo-Chien, sure, but you could also use Intimidate, or Will-o-Wisp, or Reflect—much more conventional avenues of counterplay.
Shepperd: Let’s look a little ahead at the competition itself. How much intel will you get from the first Regulation Set C Regionals taking place in Fort Wayne?
Zheng: A ton, in my opinion.
Stadter: They will have a pretty big impact, I think.
Zheng: There’s not much time between the Fort Wayne Regionals and EUIC.
Stadter: It will tell everyone what players believe is good.
Zheng: I think a fair amount of players feel really lost in this format. It’s much easier to build around existing strategies than start from scratch.
Stadter: The teams from Fort Wayne will be a starting point for many players going to EUIC.
Zheng: And the first Regionals will set the pace for what players think are good.
Traylor: Yes, and observing which compositions are able to rise to the top will tell players traveling to EUIC what to focus on.
Stadter: If you were building a Glimmora & Wo-Chien team and then there are no Glimmora & Wo-Chien teams in the Top 32? Well, you might think it’s time to work on something else then.
Traylor: But at the same time there are many strong players going to EUIC who are not going to Fort Wayne, who might be very happy that the aspects which they identify as strong have been totally missed by the Fort Wayne player base.
Stadter: I don’t think anyone attending both tournaments would try and hide something to save it for EUIC. The format is too new and volatile for that. So we can expect players to try their best in Fort Wayne.
Zheng: I’m actually curious about that, Markus. International Championships give so much more value than Regionals this year.
Shepperd: How important is actually playing the games at Fort Wayne in prep for EUIC? Does this one event put European players at a disadvantage at all? Or is it more just about analyzing the results?
Stadter: Getting some in-game practice in a tournament setting definitely helps, but I don’t think it matters too much. Luckily we can follow along the stream and see the results in real time.
Zheng: I can’t imagine more than 10 to 15 players attending both events. It should primarily be North American players.
Traylor: I don’t think it’s a big difference, in all honesty, outside of the experience testing whatever team you’re running, which European players can get in grassroots tournaments or testing with their friends. London is rather easy to get to from the US, so I would expect a fair amount of players to “hop the pond.”
Shepperd: As always, I want to get your thoughts on players to keep an eye on.
Stadter: That’s a tough one with a completely new format.
Traylor: Markus Stadter is a little-known player who recently won the Bochum regionals and has won tournaments of the same level in Europe before. Some of you may have heard of him.
Shepperd: Markus… Stadter…
Stadter: I’ll go with Eric Rios for three reasons:
- First, he won Liverpool Regionals very early in the format in 2022 and was one of the first players to use Rinya Sun, which shows that he can excel early in a new format.
- Second, he won last year’s EUIC, so he showed that he can win EUIC.
- Then third, he won the Utrecht Special Event a few weeks ago, so he showed that he can win in Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet.
Shepperd: I’m guessing that there are a lot of new players out there after the significant Covid outbreak, and with a new game launching recently.
Traylor: One thing that’s kind of interesting about tournaments in North America so far (maybe also in Europe?) is that they’ve either been won by players who started playing at least seven years ago or players who are literally attending their first Regionals.
Stadter: It doesn’t work for all of them, but for some! Alex Gomez and Bas van der Heijden are two more players from Europe that have impressed me this season.
Traylor: Other European names to watch out for:
- Alex Gomez, who has had huge success in the past, took a little break, and has now returned, finishing Top 4 at Utrecht.
- Alex Soto, who placed 2nd in two of the European Regional-level events so far with a unique Trick Room team.
- Aurélien Soula, who placed 2nd and 8th at Regional-level events and Top 16 at OCIC, all within the span of a single month.
- Marco Silva, who won OCIC in 2020 and recently placed Top 4 at Utrecht.
Zheng: Of course, World Champion Eduardo Cunha deserves a mention here, too.
Shepperd: Is there a hometown advantage for European players? They filled up half the Top 8 at Worlds in London last year and were well represented at 2022 EUIC Top Cut, if I recall.
Stadter: There might be a small advantage related to the time zone, but I don’t think it’s too significant.
Traylor: I think it’s more the fact that there are a lot of very strong players who live in Europe.
Shepperd: That’s fair. So, with just a few minutes left, what do you think fans should be watching for when the streams begin?
Stadter: Paying attention to how Ruinous Pokémon can dictate the pace of the game. If it is Ting-Lu & Wo-Chien vs. Ting Lu then you can expect a long, drawn-out set. If it’s Chien-Pao vs. Chi-Yu, the games might be much quicker, making every decision very impactful.
Zheng: Adding to Markus’s point, a lot of people have been telling me games in this format can go on for a very long time.
Stadter: And if it is Ting-Lu & Wo-Chien vs. Chien-Pao & Chi-Yu? We will be able to see if “Defense wins tournaments” is true for Pokémon!
Traylor: I think the two most important parts of a battle in Regulation Set C are: what is happening on turn 1, and what happens when the lead Pokémon faint. Regulation Set C battles are a little tough to wrap your head around compared to the recent pace of Pokémon Scarlet and Pokémon Violet battles, as well as other battles from past generations of Pokémon, simply because of the level of offense, as well as the Speed stat of the Pokémon that are available. Watch for the careful positioning on turn 1, watch when knockouts are taken, and watch for when strong Pokémon such as Dragonite and Palafin in its Hero Form switch in to take over the pace of the battle.
Zheng: I’m very curious about the argument about offense vs. defense personally.
Stadter: What do you guys believe in currently?
Zheng: For the tournaments in April, I go back to offensive teams. But there are so many good players now it might not be a deciding factor.
Stadter: I’m pretty torn, but I’m leaning towards offense for the time being.
Traylor: I think offense will win out in the short term because the defensive Ruinous Pokémon are much more awkward to use. I don’t know if you guys have used Ting-Lu yet, but clicking its moves for the large part has felt…not good.
Stadter: If someone can find a great defensive team by EUIC, I think they might have a good shot at being ahead of the competition.
Zheng: Chris, we have to talk about Fissure.
Shepperd: To wrap things up, I thought we’d talk about Fissure.
Traylor: Aaron takes out the conversation in one move!
Zheng: I only take it out 30% of the time… There’s been a lot of discussion about Fissure, as context for the readers. Basically, people have been using Fissure because Ting-Lu stays in the field for so long due to its bulk and Ability.
Stadter: Especially when you heal it with Pollen Puff from Amoonguss or Wo-Chien. Fissure into Stomping Tantrum the next turn is something people were getting excited about. I’m not sure if I buy the hype, though. You might be better off just attacking twice. But Aaron [Traylor] is an OHKO move expert—what do you think?
Traylor: So Fissure has seen some popularity on Assault Vest Ting-Lu sets. If Fissure hits, you got a KO, great—if not, you use Stomping Tantrum for double power the next turn.
Stadter: But at the same time, Fissure gives Ting-Lu an adequate way of dealing with Wo-Chien…30% of the time.
Traylor: I honestly don’t really like Fissure in the context of Ting-Lu. I think OHKO moves are interesting when they’re either one: a way to win a lost game; or two: a way to turn a good board state into a great board state. They are not interesting when you only click them, which is what Ting-Lu quickly ends up doing under the right circumstances.
Zheng: OHKO [one-hit knockout] moves have not seen much play in VGC. Although, fun fact: I believe Sheer Cold Suicune won the Japanese Nationals in 2010?
Stadter: It did! A Suicune & Smeargle duo. But OHKO moves have definitely never been a mainstream tactic.
Zheng: Gosh, we are old.
Traylor: The chance of using Fissure the maximum eight times and hitting at least one is roughly 95%. So if your Ting-Lu survives for that long, power to you, but there’s still a chance it won’t go your way.
Stadter: You can often afford to miss one or two—that’s when the math starts shifting your way. But you have to consider that you are not doing anything in the turns it misses, so the opportunity cost of spamming Fissure is pretty high.
Shepperd: I won’t go so far as to call it a gimmick, but I love when non-conventional approaches like this come around.
Zheng: It’s fun when they work, but I personally think using lower accuracy moves can incentivize bad habits. As someone who once missed a low accuracy move a lot and didn’t make the most optimal play I had available to me in a certain semifinals set…
Traylor: I think Fissure is the most interesting because of how players conceptualize it. It feels extremely frustrating to lose a Pokémon in one shot on a low-percentage roll. But it’s the same percentage to happen as a double Protect, which people generally accept as a low-odds play that your opponents will sometimes go for in dire situations, but is really inconsistent. Very few players go for double Protects in the middle of the game—why should using Fissure be such a big deal, then?
Stadter: I had games where I burned the Ting Lu on turn 1 only for it to hit me back with Fissure. But in the long run, I don’t think that will be consistent.
Shepperd: OK, any Parting Shots before we go? This has been really informative and fun, as always!
Stadter: Parting Shot: I think it might be time for Bug Pokémon/Bug Tera Type/Bug-type moves to shine! Wo-Chien is so difficult to take out otherwise.
Zheng: My Parting Shot: I think all four Ruinous Pokémon will win a major tournament this season. Don’t be afraid to build around any of them. Figure out what works you rather than using what other people are using.
Stadter: Find me with my trusted Wo-Chien after Chien-Pao, Ting-Lu and Chi-Yu have all won tournaments.
Traylor: My Parting Shot: Trick Room is extremely strong if you figure out how to one: set it up in the face of Flutter Mane and Chi-Yu; and two: you have your Trick Room Pokémon survive Dragonite, Amoonguss, Palafin, and Ting-Lu. I hope someone figures it out before EUIC!
Stadter: I can’t wait to play more Regulation Set C. As always, right now is the best time to get into competitive Pokémon.
Shepperd: It certainly feels like it. New games with Pokémon that even veterans are still learning. Disruption will abound. It’s so great having EUICs where unexpected gameplay is the major focus. The fresh game, the fresh format. It’s all about the Pokémon. Very exciting for players and fans, for sure.
Shepperd: Again, I appreciate you making this work from all around the world. Good luck in London!
2023 Pokémon TCG Europe International Championships Power Rankings
The heavy hitters of the previous Standard format stand strong, but can a brand-new archetype from Scarlet & Violet take it all at EUIC?
Pokémon TCG players around the world are traveling to London, United Kingdom, for the 2023 Europe International Championships. It’s the third International Championships of the year and the first premier event to feature the new Scarlet & Violet set and the brand-new Standard rotation. The dominant decks from the previous Standard format continue to rank highly as EUIC approaches, but Trainers will still have to look out for powerful cards from Scarlet & Violet if they want to become an International Champion.
Our Power Rankings panel of experts believes in the power of the heavy hitters from the previous Standard format, but it remains to be seen which decks will perform best in London this weekend. Speculate along with them and catch a full weekend of action on Twitch.tv/PokemonTCG from April 14–16.
Despite winning the recent Oceania International Championships, the Lost Zone Box deck has been overshadowed by Lugia VSTAR for most of the previous format. With the Standard rotation, this is about to change! While most decks are losing multiple key cards, the Lost Zone theme around Comfey, Cramorant, and Sableye is still close to full power, making it an obvious favorite going into EUIC.
One of the deck’s main strengths is its flexibility. Thanks to Mirage Gate, there’s a very long list of attacking Pokémon that the deck can utilize. Some popular options include using Raikou V, Galarian Zapdos V and Drapion V to cover different weaknesses, or Dragonite V for its unconditional high damage output. Most of the time, these Basic Pokémon V will be combined with Sky Seal Stone, which makes the deck’s Prize trade very hard to keep up with.
An alternative approach is to rely on Radiant Charizard for big damage, and focus the deck exclusively around single-Prize Pokémon. That version has fewer moving pieces and executes its gameplan very consistently, but not having access to Radiant Greninja and its Moonlight Shuriken attack could be a problem against other Lost Zone decks.
Is there a strategy that can handle all these different options and stop this deck from claiming another International title? It might depend on whether players find a good way to utilize the new Klefki and its Mischievous Lock Ability. If there’s anything a Lost Zone player does not want to see, it’s cards that block their Abilities! — Robin Schulz
Standard rotation always creates an interesting dynamic for the decks that are left behind. As is the case this year, a lot of the top decks often remain around in some form but are “worse” due to the loss of key cards. At the same time, decks that were lagging the rest of the format can catch up—and even rise to the top—simply by losing fewer key pieces.
That’s what our panel is envisioning for Giratina VSTAR: A key contender since its launch in the Sword & Shield—Lost Origin expansion last fall, it’s essentially fallen off the map since LAIC. What’s going to facilitate its revival? Largely, it’s about the rest of the format slowing down and hitting less hard. For example, Lugia VSTAR is no longer capable of summoning any attacker in the game out of thin air, but instead, it’s more limited to attacking with Lugia VSTAR itself and other Colorless attackers.
Giratina VSTAR does lose some important pieces. Scoop Up Net is the big loss—the same Comfey can no longer be reset and played multiple times in the same turn. While Beach Court out of Scarlet & Violet will help replace some of the overall mobility, it does limit the potential of high-impact turns. Giratina VSTAR is unique among Lost Zone decks in its capacity to replace that, though, with Abyss Seeking on Giratina V providing a great way out of weak hands while also accelerating a player’s Lost Zone progress.
In short, being able to hit 280 damage relatively easily, having a VSTAR Power that can deal with pretty much anything, and retaining the Cramorant/Sableye Lost Zone suite means that more good things are in store for Giratina VSTAR. — Christopher Schemanske
Mew VMAX does not have any secret tricks. The primary attacker gives up three Prize cards when it is Knocked Out. The archetype has not even made it to the final of an International Championships. And yet, since it was first printed, Mew VMAX has been featured in every edition of the Power Rankings. The strengths of this deck make it easy to see why.
This deck features a powerful attacker, damage modifiers, hand disruption, and a variety of instantly useful Trainer cards, all tied together by an Ability-based draw engine that fires every turn from the first turn of the game. It is ruthless and relentless in the execution of its strategy; opponents must play flawlessly if they want any chance at a victory. The deck has even gained a new card in Arven from the Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet expansion, which will boost consistency by enabling easy access to Forest Seal Stone and whichever Item card is required in the given situation.
It will be interesting to observe whether competitors at the 2023 Europe International Championships use Meloetta in their Mew VMAX decks. With the rising popularity of Sky Seal Stone in Lost Box decks, and its anticipated inclusion in Gardevoir ex builds, Meloetta may be the best way for Mew VMAX to keep up with the Prize trade. — Ellis Longhurst
Lugia VSTAR was the most powerful deck prior to the Standard rotation, and it was expected to remain relevant post-rotation, even after losing powerful tools such as Powerful Colorless Energy, Aurora Energy, and Yveltal.
With Scarlet & Violet, the Lugia VSTAR deck is not only losing its strongest attacking options, but also important consistency cards, such as Evolution Incense and Quick Ball. Getting Archeops in the discard pile is now more challenging. The loss of these cards will without a doubt leave a noticeable dent in the deck’s power. Archeops’s Primal Turbo Ability is still arguably the strongest Ability of all time, and it can fuel otherwise difficult-to-use attackers.
The Single Strike archetype has so far been overshadowed by its Rapid Strike counterpart, but it looks like that is about to change—even if it’s without the originally most anticipated Single Strike cards like Urshifu VMAX, Gengar VMAX, or Houndoom. Tyranitar V provides the deck with a powerful attacker that, with the help of Single Strike Energy, can easily Knock Out any Pokémon VSTAR and most Pokémon VMAX in the format. Its Darkness typing also helps a great deal against Gardevoir ex and Mew VMAX and could surely make the deck as one of the top contenders going into the Europe International Championships. I have a feeling that we could see some Lugia VSTAR decks make a deep run. — Tord Reklev
Scarlet & Violet marks a first in our power ranking series: an actual Stage 2 deck in our top five! For far too long, slow setup decks were unviable in metagames dominated by powerful TAG TEAM Pokémon or Pokémon VMAX. Finally, it looks like one is good enough to make the cut: Gardevoir ex.
Gardevoir, Gallade, and their pre-evolved forms have received a lot of recent attention from the game’s designers: one Kirlia has the Refinement Ability that turns it into a draw engine, and a different Kirlia is another strong option for the early game thanks to its Mirage Step attack. Gallade from Sword & Shield—Astral Radiance gives the player access to the Supporter of their choice every turn, and a Gardevoir from Sword & Shield—Chilling Reign acts as card draw, Energy acceleration, and an attacker all at once.
These Pokémon finally work together thanks to Gardevoir ex’s powerful Psychic Embrace Ability. With it, you can move plenty of Energy in one turn from your discard pile to your Gardevoir ex and use it to K.O. even a powerful Pokémon V. There are many more Pokémon that can be played in combination with Gardevoir ex, such as Cresselia, Zacian V (which can benefit from Sky Seal Stone). Even Mewtwo V-UNION would work.
Gardevoir does have to contend with a fast metagame—and the threat of Radiant Greninja and Sableye in Lost Zone decks—so it’s a risky deck to play. In theory at least, it has the tools to beat any deck in the format. — Stéphane Ivanoff
Ellis Longhurst — Rotation. It’s a word that is music to the ears of competitive Pokémon TCG players (and Inkay enthusiasts). Rotation of the competitive card pool heralds a new era of the Pokémon Trading Card Game and usually promises a major shake-up of the established metagame. Adding even more complexity, the Europe International Championships will be the first opportunity for most players to compete using cards from the Pokémon TCG: Scarlet & Violet expansion. Many are hoping that the new Pokémon ex will find places at the top tables, with Gardevoir ex a particular favorite for the Championship title. Results from this event will certainly set the tone for the latter half of the 2023 Championship Series season.
Conspicuously absent from this edition of power rankings is Miraidon ex. On paper, this Pokémon has the hallmarks of a high performer. However, Miraidon ex decks only achieved middling results at Championships in Japan and Southeast Asia until the deck’s recent victory at Champions League Miyagi. There continues to be efforts to improve upon early iterations of this archetype, so I think it is unwise for competitors at the Europe International Championships to dismiss it during their preparation for the event. If not, a finely tuned Miraidon ex deck could give them a shock.
Christopher Schemanske — Ordinarily, the first format after the Standard rotation is not my favorite. Historically, there are often only a handful of expansions in format. This means that most decks need to rely on the same Supporter suite because there aren’t that many deck options available.
Thankfully, that’s not the case this year! I am thrilled about the timing of this rotation, both as a way to freshen up after an extended showing of Lugia VSTAR’s dominance and because it genuinely looks like a fun format filled with interesting cards. The last time we had a Standard rotation before a major event was the 2019 World Championships, which did not really generate a major shake-up. I think this time could be different, and I’m eager to see how Gardevoir ex, Miraidon ex, and the other Scarlet & Violet stars impact the game. My current feeling is that they will slot in around the middle of the pack, giving the format new options without overpowering what’s already there. Regardless, it’s going to be an exciting breath of fresh air, and I’m excited to see where players go with it!
For me, the deck to watch is Mew VMAX, and especially the Fusion Strike Energy variant that fell out of favor late last year. Its speed remains dangerous, and its consistency is still entirely unmatched. If I were playing in London, I’d be seriously considering it as a potential deck choice and paying attention to it as a potential threat. Drapion V, anybody?
Tord Reklev — Scarlet & Violet brings a couple new archetypes to the game, and I’m very excited to see how the loss of some of the most relevant cards from the previous format will impact this tournament, especially because we usually only see a rotation before the World Championships or before a new season begins. This time it happens right in the middle of the season, and players will have to adapt to these changes.
Compared to the formats of the last two International Championships in São Paulo and Melbourne, London will look very different. This is true even if most of the familiar decks, such as Lost Zone, Mew VMAX, Arceus VSTAR, and Lugia VSTAR, stick around.
A deck that didn’t quite make it all the way into our Top 5 list is the new Miraidon ex. In combination with Regieleki VMAX, Flaaffy from Sword & Shield—Evolving Skies, and the new Electric Generator Item card, this deck might be a dark horse for the Europe International Championships. These cards are all individually strong and provide the deck with coverage for various matchups.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Scarlet & Violet will impact the metagame and to the new beginning of the Pokémon TCG that awaits us.
Stéphane Ivanoff — I’m incredibly excited to attend the Europe International Championships and have the opportunity to play with the new cards from Scarlet & Violet expansion (and not just because of their cool new gray borders!). One card that I especially like is Klefki, which can slow down the game and disrupt decks that rely on Basic Pokémon such as Comfey, Radiant Greninja, or Genesect V. Currently, the top tier decks can’t really make good of use of it, so Klefki’s presence is limited. The card does have some downsides, such as shutting down your own Manaphy‘s Ability and being a liability against Sableye (arguably the best attacker of the format) in the late game.
However, Klefki’s potential is huge against top tier decks such as Lost Box and Mew VMAX. If someone finds a way to exploit it, it could lead to great results. One possible way to do so would be to combine it with Hatterene V from the recent Crown Zenith expansion, which can hit for 80 damage with Teleportation Burst, go back to the Bench, and then send Klefki to the Active Spot instead. This way, it’s possible to K.O. Pokémon such as Comfey and Sableye while keeping the Ability lock in place.
I doubt that that combination is good enough to really make a dent in the metagame, but it’s one of many ideas to keep an eye on when playing the new format!
Robin Schulz — There are a lot of reasons to be excited for this year’s EUIC! Not only will it be the biggest European tournament we’ve ever had, but it’s also the first major tournament of the Scarlet & Violet era! Since we’ve just had rotation, it’s basically impossible to accurately predict how the metagame will look. This will make it a very fun event to follow; I’m particularly interested in how the new Pokémon ex perform. Gardevoir ex made it straight into our Top 5, and just outside there’s the powerful Miraidon ex, which makes for a formidable deck in combination with Regieleki VMAX. The established contenders like Lost Zone or Mew VMAX might still be the favorites to win, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw one of the new decks come out on top instead.
Another story that must be followed is that of Gustavo Wada. After winning the last two Europe International Championships, I’m sure he’ll try his absolute hardest to get the three-peat! It would be an incredible achievement that might never be repeated, like Tord Reklev’s three consecutive wins back in 2016–2017. Speaking of Tord, he’s also a player to watch—he’ll be trying to defend his current spot as number one on the European rankings!
Watch all the action live from London when the Pokémon TCG Europe International Championships begin on April 14. And be sure to check Pokemon.com/Strategy for more Pokémon TCG strategy and analysis.
Stéphane Ivanoff is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. A longtime Pokémon fan, he has played the Pokémon TCG competitively since 2010 and is a former National Champion, seven-time Worlds competitor, and the 2018 and 2019 North America International Champion in the Masters Division. He studied mathematics and has a degree in Probability and Statistics, but he says that doesn’t help his game as much as you’d think! You can follow him on Twitter @lubyllule.
Ellis Longhurst is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. She has been competing in high-level Pokémon TCG tournaments since 2006 and creating written content for the Pokémon community since 2011. Now she brings some Australian flavour to the Play! Pokémon commentary teams at the International and World Championships.
Tord Reklev is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He is a longtime player from Norway, playing the game since he was 6 years old. In becoming Champion at the 2022 Latin America International Championships, Tord is the first player to win all four International Championships and complete the Grand Slam. Outside of the game, he is a student and enjoys playing tennis. You can find him at most big events and can follow him on Twitter at @TordReklev.
Christopher Schemanske is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He’s been playing the Pokémon TCG since 2010, with a streak of Worlds invitations between 2012–2018. Nowadays, he enjoys splitting his Pokémon time between playing and being part of the awesome Professor staff teams at major events.
Robin Schulz is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. He has been competing in Pokémon tournaments for 10 years and was the Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion in 2018. He spends a lot of time traveling and competing, and he rarely misses a big event. Aside from playing Pokémon, he attends university, where he is studying mathematics.
2023 Pokémon GO Europe International Championships Preview
See some of the Pokémon, teams, and Trainers that will be participating in this epic competition.
The 2023 Europe International Championships is set to be the biggest Pokémon GO competition to date. Taking place in the same venue as last year’s World Championships—ExCel London—EUIC will be the first International Championship with a full bracket of 256 competitors. Play! Pokémon tournaments in Europe consistently showcase some of the highest caliber play for Pokémon GO the world over; in fact, reigning World Champion DancingRob qualified for the World Championships with a third-place finish at last year’s EUIC—a testament to the incredible depth of Europe’s player pool.
For European competitors, there are only three tournaments left in the Play! Pokémon season that will award invitations to the 2023 World Championships slated to take place in Yokohama, Japan this August. Four of the remaining eight invitations from those three tournaments will be awarded this weekend, in addition to thousands of dollars in prizes. You’ll be able to catch all the action at Twitch.tv/PokemonGO on Saturday, April 15, 2023, and Sunday, April 16, 2023.
Let’s walk through some of the top teams this season and analyze what made them successful. While most Trainers you see on stage may not be using these exact lineups, you’ll likely notice patterns of three or four Pokémon that frequently appear together.
MagicMayson – Toronto (December 2022)
MagicMayson’s team includes many of the most used Pokémon since the last major move rebalance in December—and with good reason. Not only is each Pokémon strong individually, but all six have efficient Charged Attacks that provide wide coverage and high bulk (aside from Trevenant), which allows them to power through neutral matchups.
Medicham and Noctowl form a near-unbreakable core, as Noctowl covers the Ghost-type Pokémon that give Medicham trouble, and in turn, Medicham covers Steel-type Pokémon that clip Noctowl’s wings. Galarian Stunfisk curbs Trevenant’s Flying-type weakness. Lanturn is one of the few Pokémon that can counter Noctowl as well as cover a major weakness for both Medicham and Trevenant. In addition, Lanturn has flexibility with its available Fast Attacks, Water Gun and Spark, depending on whether a Trainer wants Ground-type coverage or faster energy generation. Rounding out the team is Umbreon, a solid generalist that reliably deals neutral damage to almost every Pokémon players are likely to face.
This particular combination of six Pokémon has become one of the most commonly seen teams over the last few months, most notably used by MagicMayson and Brownballer10, and by Yacobervitch in his victory at the Oceania International Championship.
HumancatcherBug – Liverpool (January 2023)
Humancatcherbug won Pokémon GO’s first-ever 256-person tournament in Liverpool in January with this team. Notice how similar it is to MagicMayson’s, with Lanturn, Umbreon, Medicham, Galarian Stunfisk, and Trevenant all prominently featured. The only difference is Shadow Charizard. Whereas Charizard was rarely used prior to the energy generation buff Wing Attack received in a recent move update, it’s now featured in nearly every format where it’s eligible. Wing Attack’s ability to quickly generate energy allows Charizard to set up Blast Burn, one of the most efficient Charged Attacks in the game in terms of damage and energy cost.
Reis2Occasion – Knoxville (February 2023)
By late February, Trainers had begun to move away from teams based solely around the ever-prevalent Noctowl-Medicham-Trevenant-Umbreon quartet. One catalyst for this shift was the debut of Shadow Alolan Vulpix in early February, paving the way for Shadow Alolan Ninetales to storm the Great League. Trainers had been searching for a reliable source of Ice-type coverage, using Abomasnow and Froslass to varying degrees of success, but Alolan Ninetales now fills that niche comfortably. Its Ice-type attacks allow it to counter Noctowl and Trevenant, and its Fairy typing means it can menace Umbreon and Medicham as well. Alolan Ninetales is often seen alongside Swampert, which almost perfectly covers Alolan Ninetales’s primary weaknesses to Steel-type Pokémon and Fire-type Pokémon. Other Water-type Pokémon, such as Lanturn with the Fast Attack Water Gun, can also accompany Alolan Ninetales with relative ease.
Reis2Occasion’s team also marked one of the first major successes for a team that didn’t include a Pokémon with Fighting-type attacks. Trainers have increasingly begun to utilize Pokémon such as Swampert or Trevenant as counters to Steel-type Pokémon. Rounding out Reis2Occasion’s team are Noctowl, Galarian Stunfisk, and Trevenant—some of the usual suspects in the Great League—as well as Azumarill, whose Defense and type have made it a long-time staple in the Great League.
23EJB – Bochum (February 2023)
On the same weekend that Reis2Occasion won the Knoxville regional in the United States, 23EJB—who we’ll see at EUIC—earned his ticket to Yokohama by winning the Bochum Regional Championship in Europe. Once again, 23EJB’s team contains the familiar Noctowl-Medicham pair plus Azumarill, Umbreon, and Azumarill. However, 23EJB opts for Registeel as their Steel type of choice. Most Trainers team up with a Steel-type Pokémon to counter Flying-type Pokémon and Ice-type Pokémon. While Galarian Stunfisk is more popular, Registeel is a strong alternative—so strong that some Trainers bring both. Additionally, Registeel’s Zap Cannon Charged Attack can lower the opponent’s Attack stat, which can often mean the difference between victory and defeat against an opponent’s final Pokémon.
Jonya – Utrecht (March 2023)
Jonyoa won the recent Utrecht Special Event in Europe using the team above. Once again, the trio of Noctowl, Lanturn, and Medicham reigns supreme. However, they are accompanied by Alolan Ninetales, Sableye, and Registeel. Sableye, like Azumarill and Registeel, has been a solid Pokémon in the Great League for many years. This Pokémon threatens Medicham and Trevenant with its Ghost-type shenanigans and is able to quickly deal damage to most other Pokémon types.
While a small core of popular team picks was established a few months ago, the most successful Trainers at each event tweak that formula to make it their own—just like Jonkus does.
Jonkus – Utrecht (March 2023)
Jonkus, a content creator known for running unconventional GO Battle League teams, placed third at the Utrecht Special Event with the above lineup. He opted not to select the six most-used Pokémon, instead reaching for less conventional picks. Mew’s versatile moves leave opponents guessing what will come next (and when to use their Protect Shields) and can provide virtually any type of coverage to round out a team. Jonkus’s team also features two alternatives to the ever-popular Noctowl: Charizard and Altaria. While Altaria is less flexible than Noctowl, its oppressive Dragon Breath Fast Attack can quickly shred through opponents.
Since EUIC will be the largest International Championship yet for Pokémon GO, there will undoubtedly be incredible players in every group. While the full player pool is too deep to dive into here, let’s highlight a few frontrunners worth keeping an eye on.
- AMindJoke placed third at the first-ever Pokémon GO regional in Liverpool and placed fifth at Liverpool 2023.
- Zzweilous placed in the Top 16 at Liverpool 2023 alongside his signature Pokémon, Ampharos.
- Sandodou is a top player from France who has done exceptionally well on grassroots circuits.
- Fr43ka finished in the Top 12 at the 2022 World Championships after qualifying through a second-place finish at EUIC in 2022.
- PvpDavid07 is the 2022 Lille Senior Champion.
- Paulasha97 topped the GO Battle League leaderboard in the current Great League. She accomplished this with the unconventional picks of Shadow Gliscor and Tapu Fini, which may make an appearance on her EUIC team as well.
- StoneCollection qualified for the 2022 World Championships after winning the 2022 Last Chance Qualifier at the very venue where EUIC will be held.
- Scafo99 topped the GO Battle League leaderboards multiple times.
- lDexxBl made the Top 12 of the 2022 World Championships and has already come extremely close to another World Championships appearance with a third-place finish in Bilbao and a fourth-place finish at Liverpool this season.
- Maxy1000000P placed fourth at Liverpool 2023 and Top 16 at Utrecht 2023.
As if that list of previous Worlds competitors and well-known GO Battle League warriors wasn’t impressive enough, there are also some competitors who have already qualified for this year’s championships in Yokohama, but who will nonetheless compete at EUIC to vie for prizes and the coveted title of EUIC Champion.
- MEweedle is the Senior-division 2022 World Champion. Although this accomplishment automatically qualified him for the 2023 World Championships, this young Trainer won the Stuttgart regional in his Masters division debut. When asked about adjusting to the Masters division, he noted only that “the players are a lot taller.”
- Statastan recently qualified for the 2023 World Championships via a second-place finish at Utrecht and competed at last year’s World Championships.
- Colin6ix won the Lille 2023 regional tournament.
- LurganRocket finished fourth at the 2022 World Championships and will be returning to the 2023 World Championships after placing second in Bochum this season.
- ThoTechtical qualified for the 2023 World Championships with a second-place finish at Lille earlier this season.
- Inadequance qualified for the 2023 World Championships with a third-place finish at Stuttgart and has more recently been participating in regional championships as part of the broadcasting team. Although he played an exhibition match against friend and fellow Dutch content creator ThoTechtical at Utrecht, fans are undoubtedly excited about his return to competition at EUIC.
Reigning World Champion DancingRob will not be competing, but he will be staffing to help the competition run smoothly.
Competitive battling in Pokémon GO is not often a journey that Trainers successfully embark on alone. Most of the high-profile Trainers who top these tournaments frequently compete and train together. In fact, many of the competitors mentioned above are teammates and friends outside of Play! Pokémon tournaments. ThoTechtical, Inadequance, 23EJB, AMindJoke, Scafo99, Maxy1000000P, and lDexxbl are all teammates in GO’s premier grassroots team format, as are Statastan, MEweedle, Colin6ix, and PvpDavid07. So look forward to these battles between besties on April 15 and April 16 at Twitch.tv/PokemonGO—it’s sure to be one of the best GO tournaments yet.
Sophtoph is a contributing writer for Pokemon.com. She has been an avid enjoyer of the GO Battle League since its release and has reached the top 10 on its global leaderboards. She can often be found sharing her battles at Twitch.tv/sophtoph or with her Pokémon GO Battle League-dedicated Discord community.
2023 Pokémon Europe International Championships
The Pokémon Europe International Championships (EUIC) are the third International Championships event of the 2023 Championship Series season. This event is sure to be one of the largest Pokémon Championship Series tournaments as competition gears up for the World Championships, and it features exciting competitions for Pokémon Trading Card Game, Pokémon Video Game Championship, Pokémon GO, and Pokémon UNITE players.
This season’s EUIC event will take place at ExCeL London in London, England, on April 14 through 16, 2023. It will feature high Championship Point payouts and thousands of dollars’ worth of prizes, spread between the Pokémon TCG, VGC, Pokémon GO, and Pokémon UNITE competitions.
The Pokémon UNITE European Aeos Cup Finals will also take place, making this event the first-ever International Championships to host a Pokémon UNITE tournament! Please note that participation in the Pokémon UNITE event is by invitation only through the Pokémon UNITE Championship Series Aeos Cup online qualifiers (EU Regional Zone only).
The Pokémon Company International is excited to work with tournamentcenter as the operator of the event. Standings, matchups, and results will be available on the tournamentcenter website. Registration will be managed by RK9.
One Western Gateway
Royal Victoria Dock
London E16 1XL UK
Some tournaments begin on Friday, April 14, and others on Saturday, April 15; please see pages for each game for their respective schedules.
Registration will tentatively begin on March 9 for players in all divisions. Spectator badges will go on sale soon after that.
Check back for full details on EUIC registration.
There will be a number of side events and spectator activities for EUIC attendees.
Check back for details and a schedule of side events as EUIC approaches.
Best of luck to all the competitors at the Europe International Championships!