Regionals Return – First Four Meta

Christopher Schemanske
April 16, 2022

Welcome back Pokémon players! After a two year layoff—almost to the day!—the first set of Regionals of the 2022 Championship Series are a wrap. We’ve had a grand tour through the regions, with Brisbane kicking the season off and São Paulo being our most recent Regional result. Throughout, we’ve seen a number of shifts in the metagame, and we’re going to cover a bit of those today.

There’s a lot of ground to cover and only so many hours in the day, so let’s get at it! We’re first going to review Brisbane’s meta, Salt Lake City’s meta, and some interesting insights from the differences between the two. After, we’ll talk about Liverpool, São Paulo, and the progressions throughout the month of tournaments.


Brisbane got us rolling with a very Mew-centric picture of the universe. All things began and ended with Mew down under, with around a third of the field piloting Mew VMAX through the event. That’s one of the highest percentages we’ve ever seen, and it’s no surprise that the deck came out on top, especially given the numerous capable pilots that went with it.

Gengar/Houndoom makes sense as the second deck in the room: with what would seem on its face to be one of the game’s best Mew matchups, if one didn’t plan to join the Mew revolution, trying to beat it seems like it would be a good strategy. Unfortunately, Gengar clawed a few Top 16s, but none made Top 8. Instead, we were left with a mix of Mew and Arceus V variants. In a principle that would prove even more true in Salt Lake City, it seems that “just add Arceus” is a legitimate approach to bettering some of the prior format’s strategies.

Speaking further to Mew’s centralization of the meta is the fact that “Other” is tied with Gengar for the second most represented deck in the room. Normally, I’d do my best to suss out some other patterns among those Others to move it down the list a bit, but there’s just not anything there this time. If anything, I normally wouldn’t leave the 1-ofs at the bottom, but we’re aiming for consistency with Salt Lake City here.

So, a grand takeaway: Mew struck first in the battle for format supremacy, both in its share of the room and its ability to simply win games. Another way to look at the above meta is this: 57 decks played Mew VMAX, 43 decks played Arceus VSTAR, and 82 decks played neither. What effect did the results have on Salt Lake City, you ask? Let’s find out!

Salt Lake City

Mew VMAX continued its domination of the metagame, continuing to represent more than 30% of players in the room. While 30% doesn’t sound like a lot, it again is representative of one of the largest shares of a meta we’ve seen. While the centralization looks a bit less stark than Brisbane, probably due to the maturity of some second-tier decks, it was still a room dominated by Mew.

Gengar VMAX/Houndoom was still the second-most popular deck in the room, but unlike in Brisbane, it did find its way to Top 8 in Salt Lake City. Still, it’s a larger share than it enjoyed in Australia—more of a bona fide second contender than the 9% of the field it comprised in Brisbane. Our eventual runner-up was one of 12 Suicune V players not utilizing Arceus VSTAR, which obviously turned out well for him in the end.

The big story in the meta, I think, was the onset of somewhat heavier Arceus play. Arceus found a home in 207 of the 697 decks entered in the tournament—more specifically, that was a 3 point increase over the 27% share it had in Brisbane. While that doesn’t sound like much, again given the differences between the two events, I think it represents a natural progression of the meta. A few days before Brisbane, I coined Brisbane/Salt Lake the Summer/Winter Arceus Games on Twitter—suffice to say, I was surprised by its underperformance in Brisbane, but the Arceus-with-a-VMAX phenomenon showed up in force in Salt Lake City. Gyarados VMAX? Sandaconda VMAX? The event-winning Gengar VMAX? All found successful homes with Arceus VSTAR’s impressive array of consistency, damage output, and energy acceleration.

Of course, the most popular Arceus VSTAR deck, ft. Duraludon VMAX, was arguably one of the least successful. With only two placements in Day 2, the deck had one of the worst conversion ratios of any in the event. I suspect performances at both Brisbane and large unofficial events convinced a number of folks to jump aboard the Duraludon train, but the ultimate irony is that its Mew matchup isn’t even good. That showed through in its results here, with many a Duraludon drowning in the face of Mew’s overwhelming showing—though, the presence of superior Arceus variants can’t have aided the cause.

One fun bit of trivia: 12 of the Rapid Strike Malamar decks utilized Cinccino, but 16 saw fit to use Inteleon instead. Nathaniel Kaplan was the highest finisher in the event with Malamar, and though he used Cinccino, he’s characterized that choice as being less about Cinccino’s inherent superiority as its practicality: you have to make a lot of hard choices with Inteleon! Given the reality of a 50 minute tournament structure, sometimes that’s a tradeoff you need to consider—I wouldn’t be totally shocked it it turns out that Inteleon is the superior variant given more time to think about what you’re doing, but Cinccino turns out to be the better performed under the tournament lights.

From Brisbane to Salt Lake City

Obviously, we saw some high-level meta shifts from one weekend to the next, but that only scratches the surface of the effects one tournament weekend can have on another. In particular, Natalie Millar’s winning Brisbane Mew VMAX list was somewhat different from the status quo the internet had devised before Regionals returned: no Psychic Energy, fewer Stadiums, more Rotom Phone. To get an idea of how much influence Brisbane had on Salt Lake City’s players, let’s take a look at how Mew VMAX shifted from one week to the next.

In Brisbane, 38 of the 57 Mew players utilized basic Psychic Energy—a solid majority! After the success of Natalie’s list in Brisbane, Salt Lake City did take notice: in contrast to the prior weekend, only 67 of the 228 Mew players had any basic Energy in their list (and, among them, 15 played only 1, which feels a bit like a compromise between the two). A similar trend shows through in the Stadium count: in Brisbane, the average Mew player had 3.16 Stadiums in their deck—only 12 players were brave enough to drop to 2 Stadium cards. That average fell to exactly 3 in Salt Lake City, with 47 of the Mew players playing 2 Stadiums (and only 79 playing 4).

This is the kind of shift that is increasingly possible in the all-online world of Pokémon TCG. I’ve never seen something quite like the online shifts that took place in the few weeks leading up to Brisbane and Salt Lake City as online events saw new decks wax and wane every few days as the potential “it” deck for the format. What influence did this all have on Liverpool, you ask?


Liverpool was once again a story of Mew VMAX dominating the field, with no real clear-cut secondary foe. The second tier, though, was pretty clear in its definition: Dark! Suicune V made a decent showing off its win in Salt Lake City, showing again some of the week-to-week influence we saw between these events.

The other major star of the format, Arceus VSTAR, had an interesting weekend. Somewhat surprisingly to me, Arceus shrunk back to only represent around 20% of the room, across its rainbow of variants, in Liverpool. The diversity in partners held fast, though, with everything from Raichu V to an army of Bibarel standing by Arceus’ side. Obviously, a few players found their ways to success, but at this point, it seems Arcues is settling into the format as a nice Swiss-army-knife type fit: who knows what partners will emerge next?

Of course, our champion of the weekend piloted Rapid Strike Urshifu to his win, and it’s no wonder that it did well amongst the field of Arceus and Dark types. That Rapid Strike Urshifu call certainly wasn’t popular at 3% of the room, but it’s not entirely difficult to see how it succeeded. At the same time, I can’t imagine Mew VMAX was a matchup that the Urshifu players were particular excited to see, so it was a bold play coming into this room. This goes to show how sometimes a tournament-winning deck doesn’t need to have perfect matchups against the top decks—sometimes, you just need a capable player and a bit of pairings luck.

Rapid Strike Malamar continued its ascent in Liverpool, with some notable showings. After a steady 4-5% in the first two weekends, it spiked a bit here, which was a trend that we’d continue to see next weekend in São Paulo. I think it’s one of the more intriguing meta presences to predict as we move into EUIC—does the momentum continue, or do the results of São Paulo push it back a bit?

São Paulo

Speaking of São Paulo, though, that’s things really began to shift. Coming off another weekend in which Mew VMAX didn’t exactly collapse, but didn’t soar, it wasn’t fully shocking to see it fall to a much smaller relative share of the room. Perhaps more surprising is that a more cohesive second deck didn’t emerge—while Inteleon/Dark Pokémon did a reasonably good job of representing, the meta share wasn’t particularly greater than in the prior trio of events. We’ve already talked about Malamar, but otherwise, the story of São Paulo was more about a menagerie of archetypes making their presence known.

This did serve as the turning point in the great Arceus vs. Mew battle, though, as Arceus VSTAR found itself played more often than Mew VMAX for the first time. It’s a bit interesting to see Duraludon VMAX as the most popular partner for Arceus given its mediocre success the first few weekends, but I suppose the theoretical boost of Special Energy immunity must’ve remained attractive to enough players.

Moving Forward to EUIC

As we move into EUIC, Mew VMAX remains the most variable factor to me. In the triangle of Mew/Arceus/other, a lot of the “other” will fare a lot better—or a lot worse—depending on what percentage of Mew they have to feast on—or lose to. I’m really excited to see what players have come up with for the event, and wouldn’t be surprised at all if we see something new come out of Frankfurt.

We’re excited to bring these meta breakdowns to you, and will be back throughout the season with more updates. Best of luck with whatever your next tournament happens to be!