Metagame Madness: From Melbourne and Milwaukee to NAIC

Christopher Schemanske
June 21, 2022

Hello again Pokemon players! We’ve seen the release of another expansion, and Sword & Shield - Astral Radiance certainly hasn’t come quietly! As we showed last weekend, it immediately transformed the top level of the format, with the most-played deck in Melbourne being Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR. Mew VMAX wasn’t quite ready to give up its hold on the format, though, hanging on as the second most popular deck. Palkia reigned in dominating fashion, capturing all 8 spots in the Melbourne Top 8. What would that mean for Milwaukee?

Unsurprisingly, that dominating performance was acknowledged by Milwaukee’s players, with Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR being the most played deck once more. Typical of what we see between regions, though, there was a lot less centralization in Milwaukee: the 23% plurality is significantly lower than the 28% share Palkia captured in Melbourne, despite the overwhelming showing. We saw this with Mew earlier this season when it dominated Brisbane, but didn’t enjoy proportionate share at subsequent events in other regions.

We haven’t actually seen Mew accomplish since Brisbane as much as its play numbers would suggest, but admittedly, the format has had the ability to tech Dark Pokemon with reckless abandon for months. It held onto the number 2 spot in Milwaukee with ease, though, as the only other deck to capture more than 10% of the field. While Mew gained little from Astral Radiance, players have been forced to consider Lightning alongside Dark as a valuable Weakness opportunity, meaning Mew has gained more from adding Palkia as a peer than it’s actually gained from the new set. It was able to capitalize on that with one Top 8 showing, but Mew continues to underperform relative to the heavy level of play it’s seen.

On the other hand, Regigigas is entirely new to the scene. While it saw small levels of play in Melbourne, it was comfortably the third-most played archetype in Milwaukee. It garnered a handful of Day 2 showings, proving that single Prize Pokemon still pack something of a punch. I’m eagerly curious to see how the deck moves into NAIC: it probably will be attractive to many of the once-a-year players that frequent NAIC for its history for its relatively cheap cost, but it’s possible fewer of those players than normal will be at the event due to attendance constraints. At the same time, from a competitive perspective, it’s a very attractive prospect—we saw some well-known names playing it this weekend—but one that is difficult to tweak or evolve to the meta due to the bench constraints that come with Ancient Wisdom.

Another Astral Radiance all-star is Miltank! Bringing Blissey V into the spotlight alongside it, Miltank has an all-time classic Ability reincarnated, with a useful-but-not-overpowered attack to complement. It’s no surprise that Miltank has an opening in a format as centralized around Vs as this one, but Blissey is an especially attractive partner that makes for a competitive power duo. I’d expect to see this rise in play in Columbus off Conner LaVelle’s showing this weekend in Milwaukee.

What’s become of Arceus? I coined Brisbane and Salt Lake City the Summer & Winter Arceus Games during my pre-SLC testing, and the previous format pretty quickly (d)evolved into a battle royale of Pokemon VMAX starring alongside Starbirth and Trinity Nova. Arceus has changed up its partner scheme a bit, with Flying Pikachu VMAX being among the big winners from the shift in opposition. Useful against both Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and nuisances like Regigigas & Miltank/Blissey, Flying Pikachu VMAX is the kind of dynamic that can be powerful against a spread of matchups. Other Arceus players stuck by the tried-and-true Inteleon/Dunsparce complement, although those folks were less successful this weekend than during the Brilliant Stars format. It’s a pairing I’d expect to see fall off into Columbus.

I hope you’re as excited as I am to see what comes out on top at NAIC 2022 later this week! Best of luck to all competing!