The Pokémon World Championships are well known for their exciting unpredictability, with many players sticking with powerful archetypes and many others taking a gambit with new decks. That won’t stop our Power Rankings panel from putting forward their best guesses as to what we can expect in London this weekend at 2022 Worlds. One thing they can all be sure of—the matches over the four epic days will be incredible to watch and be a part of.
Remember that you can watch the Pokémon TCG World Championships August 18–21 on Twitch.tv/PokemonTCG and Twitch.tv/Pokemon, including the final matches across all age divisions on Sunday, August 21. Good luck to everyone at Worlds!
Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR may have been a latecomer to the 2022 Championship Series, but it wasted no time in making its presence felt. While runner-up Isaiah Bradner couldn’t quite bring home the top title at the 2022 North America International Championships, he was the leader of a multitude of Palkia VSTAR players who had excellent weekends in Columbus, Ohio. Palkia VSTAR is poised for another run at the World Championships, heading up our Power Rankings for a reason: the combination of high damage, Energy acceleration, and synergy with the Inteleon engine makes for a powerful combo that is set up well for Worlds.
While Inteleon has been the most popular partner for Palkia VSTAR, there are a few other variants out there. Mew from the Celebrations expansion is at the core of the main alternative, which seeks to use Mew’s status as a Basic Pokémon to be a bit speedier at getting things going (as opposed to relying on the Evolution timing inherent in the Inteleon variant). “Mew-Shoes,” with Trekking Shoes forming the other half of the equation, was definitely more popular at the start of the format, but it fell out of favor even before NAIC. I’d expect that trend to continue into Worlds—look to see Inteleon as the prime partner of choice.
The Pokémon GO expansion doesn’t have any remarkable shifts coming for Palkia VSTAR, with Radiant Blastoise perhaps the only consideration to emerge from the set. Palkia VSTAR’s landscape may benefit from the target shifting a bit back toward Arceus VSTAR in the aftermath of NAIC—I expect a strong showing in London. — Christopher Schemanske
Few cards have managed to remain as dominant as Arceus VSTAR. Different variants of the deck have won the majority of events since its release in Sword & Shield—Brilliant Stars. With its Colorless typing, it can easily be paired with any type of Pokémon V. Some of the variants that have taken down major events include a pairing with one or a combination of the following: Gengar VMAX, Galarian Moltres V, Galarian Zapdos V, Lucario VSTAR, Crobat VMAX, Duraludon VMAX, Flying Pikachu VMAX, Cinccino, Bibarel, and Inteleon.
The flexibility Arceus VSTAR offers makes it a great fit for all sorts of strategies. The Starbirth Ability makes a turn-2 Trinity Nova attack almost unavoidable, immediately pressuring the opponent while establishing a backup attacker on the Bench.
With all these different partners seeing success at the highest level, it still seems like players have settled on a favorite: the straightforward variant with the Inteleon engine. The consistency level of this deck is pretty much unmatched in the format, pairing arguably the most consistent Pokémon VSTAR with the strongest consistency engine. Thanks to Cheren’s Care, Dunsparce, and Big Charm, Arceus VSTAR will be an incredibly difficult Pokémon to Knock Out. This variant also seems to have the upper hand against the other types of Arceus VSTAR decks, mainly due to Inteleon’s Ability to pick up Cheren’s Care consistently.
Something we have seen pop up recently is the inclusion of Radiant Charizard from the Pokémon GO expansion as an additional attacker. Including Radiant Charizard gives the deck access to higher damage output in the later stages of the game, without compromising too much on consistency by including another attacker line. I’m excited to see if this inclusion can make a splash at the World Championships, or if other interesting variants can be born at this event. One thing is for certain: Arceus VSTAR will be a major contender for this year’s World Championships title! — Tord Reklev
Mew VMAX has the DNA of a World Championships-winning deck. It combines powerful attackers with Energy acceleration, damage modifiers, and an unparalleled Ability-based draw engine. This deck has everything...except an international title. Or even a Finalist trophy.
Mew VMAX was a popular choice for the 2022 North America International Championships, but only achieved a best finish of 18th place. Since then, players have experimented with the inclusion of Tower of Darkness from the Sword & Shield—Battle Styles expansion and PokéStop from the Pokémon GO expansion. Otherwise, the deck remains unchanged. So, what could give it the edge at the 2022 World Championships?
The domination of Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and the success of Arceus VSTAR / Flying Pikachu VMAX at recent events has shifted the attention away from Mew VMAX. It follows that players are now more likely to prioritize the inclusion of Lightning-type or Fighting-type attackers in their deck, rather than the Darkness types that were included to counter Mew VMAX. Left unchecked, the Fusion Strike combination will rise to the top of the tournament and challenge for the title on Championship Sunday. — Ellis Longhurst
Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR and Arceus VSTAR faced off in the finals of the North America International Championships, but it was a different deck entirely that became the talk of the weekend. Pokémon V-UNION were always regarded as too inconsistent and gimmicky to see competitive play, so you can imagine everyone’s surprise when Sander Wojcik’s deck, focused around the four-card Mewtwo V-UNION (top-left, top-right, bottom-left, and bottom-right), was in first place after the Swiss rounds concluded!
The idea of the deck is simple but ingenious. Both Palkia VSTAR and Arceus VSTAR cap out around 200 damage, so a Mewtwo V-UNION that repeatedly uses its Super Regeneration attack becomes an insurmountable wall for them. While continuously healing, the deck uses a near infinite loop of Cyllene, Pal Pad, and Team Yell’s Cheer to recover disruptive cards like Crushing Hammer and eventually run the opponent out of cards. Besides this main strategy, the deck includes a bunch of smaller tactics to deal with possible answers to Mewtwo V-UNION, such as Miltank to wall out Pokémon V or Yveltal for Special Energy-focused decks like Mew VMAX.
After taking players at NAIC by surprise, the big question becomes whether Mewtwo V-UNION can repeat its performance at the World Championships. A lot of it might come down to how much competitors will respect it when building their decks. If unprepared, there are many decks that just cannot beat Mewtwo V-UNION once it hits the field. However, including cards specifically for that matchup makes those decks worse against the more popular strategies. It will be a tough call for sure! — Robin Schulz
Taking extra turns is such a powerful effect that only a few cards allow it, and only with notable restrictions (think Medicham V's Yoga Loop attack). Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR is the latest card to offer this option thanks to its Star Chronos VSTAR Power, so naturally, many players have tried to make it work. With a fast, Item-based engine using Trekking Shoes, Radiant Greninja, Scoop Up Net, and Mew in order to draw many cards, it's possible to draw multiple Metal Saucer while discarding Metal Energy. This allows Dialga VSTAR to use Star Chronos as early as Turn 2, which can KO the majority of Basic Pokémon V (such as Arceus V and Origin Forme Palkia V), and follow it up with a powerful Metal Burst attack for 240 damage or more. That's enough to take four Prize cards before the opponent can even evolve their Pokémon!
Of course, that's the best-case scenario. Dialga VSTAR is not as consistent as other decks on this list, and it can have trouble with disruption cards (the combination of Marnie and Path to the Peak comes to mind), so it's a risky play. That said, many players feel that the World Championships are the right time to take a risk, given the high stakes at play, so I wouldn't be surprised if some of these players chose Dialga VSTAR to try to make a break in the competition. — Stéphane Ivanoff
Christopher Schemanske: We’re back at Worlds! The atmosphere at Worlds is impossible to replicate, and I can only imagine that’s going to be especially true this year: the three-year gap since Washington DC, the exciting Pokémon TCG format, and the addition of Pokémon GO and Pokémon UNITE are lining up to make this the most exciting Worlds yet. And with a fourth day of competition this year, there should be plentiful opportunity to watch Pokémon competitions of all sorts.
I’m particularly excited about the Pokémon TCG format at Worlds this year: without any rotation or major set release, players won’t be flying blind, but it’s a format that’s only had two weekends of major tournaments, meaning there’s still some room to explore. This is an excellent balance, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the best in the world craft for the event.
I’m also really excited for the London Open, which will kick off the race for Worlds 2023. While the headline is the main event, the Open event is always a fun aspect of the weekend for those looking to get a head start on next year. I’m wishing the best to everyone in their preparation and travels to London—we’re going to see some exciting action this weekend!
Ellis Longhurst: The Pokémon TCG World Championships features world-class talent, so I wouldn’t be surprised if competitors found success with any of the five decks mentioned above. At this event, the key differentiator will be how effectively competitors manage all the other aspects of their performance. For the first time ever, the World Championships is a four-day event, which means that it will be as much a test of endurance as a test of skill. Adequate sleep, sustenance, and hydration have never been more important.
This may favor local competitors because they won’t need to adjust to a new time zone or experience the rigors of overseas travel. It may also favor those who are familiar with the competition venue through their attendance of the Europe International Championships in 2017 or 2018.
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Stéphane Ivanoff: Many of the Pokémon TCG's non-main expansions have had a lesser impact on the competitive scene, but Pokémon GO actually has multiple strong cards, such as Radiant Charizard. The two that grabbed my attention the most, though, are PokéStop and Radiant Blastoise.
PokéStop is a Stadium that can help players draw Item cards—and discard other cards, which can actually be a benefit. For example, PokéStop enables the new Solrock/Lunatone deck, not only by drawing useful Item cards such as Level Ball and Rescue Carrier, but also by discarding Psychic Energy for Solrock's Sun Energy Ability.
While Solrock/Lunatone is not a bad deck, I feel like PokéStop has more potential than that and hasn't been fully tapped. My guess is that it will end up finding a spot in Origin Forme Dialga VSTAR and other similar decks.
As for Radiant Blastoise, it works well with decks that can spread damage on low-HP Pokémon, in combination with cards such as Galarian Zigzagoon, Inteleon, and Medicham V. It also has synergy with the powerful Supporter Irida, as well as Capacious Bucket. Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX and Inteleon VMAX are two notable decks that could include, and benefit from, this package. I can't wait to see if Radiant Blastoise is enough for these decks to make a splash at Worlds!
Tord Reklev: Nothing quite matches the unique feeling and atmosphere present at the World Championships. All the most dedicated Pokémon players from around the world, gathered in the same location, to battle it out and share their love for the game. This year is quite special, as there is no rotation before the event. The Pokémon GO set features some cards that can impact the metagame, but so far it looks relatively similar to what we saw at the North America International Championships.
I am excited to see what the best players in the world will bring. Will our power rankings be a close estimate, or will we see breakout performances of completely new archetypes, like we saw at NAIC with the Mewtwo V-UNION deck? There is no doubt players will be trying their absolute hardest to figure out “the next big deck,” and effort will not be lacking. It’s a tournament where a lot of players historically have been prone to take risks, both with deck choice and interesting inclusions in already established archetypes. I think if someone figures out how to beat the five decks featured in our power rankings, they will be in serious contention for winning it all!
Robin Schulz: For the first time in many years, there will not be a main expansion released between the North America International Championships (or US Nationals, back then) and the World Championships. This changes the way players have to prepare for the event. Instead of trying to find the new best deck, it becomes more important than ever to know the ins and outs of all the existing decks and how they match up against each other. Those looking for some high-level gameplay will surely not be disappointed by the tournament.
However, if you’re looking for something new, don’t worry. Thanks to the special expansion Pokémon GO, there are a few new cards to look out for. It naturally won’t be as impactful as a full release, but I expect at the very least to see a lot from Radiant Charizard. It’s a really strong card that can be played in various ways and will surely show up on stream at some point!