The Metagame after Gdansk Regionals

Snorlax winning, Charizard on the rise, Palkia in top 8… Stéphane analyses the metagame after last weekend’s Regional Championships.

Stéphane Ivanoff2 Dec 2023

Last weekend, I attended my fourth Regionals of the season, in Gdansk, Poland. Despite my disappointing performance with the deck at LAIC the week before, I decided to stick with Charizard ex, or more accurately, I chose to play it again. I didn’t make that choice out of stubbornness (I went 8-0 at the 200-player League Challenge at LAIC with Gardevoir ex, so if I was going to stick with any deck, it would have been that one); instead, I approached Gdansk as a new tournament and tried to evaluate the metagame, both by myself and by talking with other players. Miraidon ex had won NAIC, and was sure to be popular; there were also going to be more players using decks that could race Miraidon, such as Mew VMAX, or even Roaring Moon ex. Charizard ex seemed like the perfect choice in such a metagame, and since it didn’t make top 8 in Sao Paulo, I expected players wouldn’t respect it as much as they should. Snorlax Stall was a concern, as it was a good deck that Charizard ex struggles a lot with, but as is often the case with Stall decks, I expected it not to be too popular. Since it’s impossible to tech against everything, I decided to take the loss if I faced any, and focus on the rest of the metagame. I teched against Gardevoir ex by including Delphox V and Mawile, the idea being that Delphox V threatened take the last two Prizes even if the opponent removes Gardevoir ex from their field with Professor Turo’s Scenario or Collapsed Stadium (a common play in this matchup), and if they bench Manaphy to prevent that play, Mawile can trap it Active and the opponent can’t deal with it because they already played Turo. This plan isn’t perfect, of course, and it doesn’t work against lists that play both Turo and Collapsed Stadium, or Turo and Pal Pad, but I didn’t expect Gardevoir lists to do so, so after testing the techs in a couple of games, I decided to run them.

Here’s my decklist, for posterity:

3 Charmander MEW 44 Arven SVI 1667 Basic {R} Energy
1 Charmander OBF 263 Iono PAL 185
2 Charmeleon MEW 52 Boss’s Orders PAL 172
3 Charizard ex OBF 1251 Professor Turo’s Scenario PAR 171
2 Bidoof CRZ 1114 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
2 Bibarel BRS 1214 Ultra Ball SVI 196
1 Radiant Charizard CRZ 202 Nest Ball SVI 181
1 Delphox V LOR 272 Rare Candy SVI 191
1 Manaphy BRS 412 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Jirachi PAR 1261 Escape Rope BST 125
1 Lumineon V BRS 401 Counter Catcher CIN 91
1 Mawile LOR 711 Energy Search SVI 172
1 Lost Vacuum LOR 162
2 Technical Machine: Evolution PAR 178
1 Forest Seal Stone SIT 156
1 Defiance Band SVI 169
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137
1 Artazon PAL 171

I wish I could write all about how I dominated the tournament with this unique vision and great play. After finishing day 1 with a 7-1-1 record and a promising field in day 2 where Mew VMAX and Miraidon ex were the most played decks, I really thought I would get to that point. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. After a win in the Charizard mirror in round 10, I lost a close series against Iron Valiant ex / Entei V (a matchup that I consider about 50-50 since I played Jirachi, Professor Turo’s Scenario and Collapsed Stadium), and then proceeded to hit Snorlax Stall, my autoloss, two rounds in a row. This was devastating, since on almost all tables next to me, people were playing decks that I didn’t mind facing, or even actively wanted to. Unfortunately, luck just wasn’t on my side on that front. After these losses, I think I was mentally broken. I ended up playing against Miraidon ex and Roaring Moon ex in the last two rounds, and lost both anyway; my deck ran poorly, I made mistakes, and (at least in the case of the Miraidon player) my opponents played very well. This loss streak put me out of top 64. I’m still very happy with my deck choice: three players made the top 8 with Charizard ex, so I think it was the right play for the tournament.

The only better play, maybe, was Snorlax Stall, the deck that ended up winning, in the hands of Łukasz Mazurkiewicz. It was definitely risky, especially given how popular Miraidon was, but Snorlax’s excellent matchup against Charizard (among others) made it a good call for the tournament. Now, for the first time in a year, a Control deck has won a major event. Plus, Gdansk was not the only Regional Championships happening last weekend: in Australia, Harry Shallcrass won Brisbane Regionals with Gardevoir ex, but there too, two players made top 8 with Snorlax Stall. So where is the metagame headed?

Towards Snorlax Domination?

As is often the case when a Control deck wins, some people are calling for a ban, saying that Snorlax is unfun to play against. This is obviously an overreaction. Snorlax Stall is a good deck, and it does have good matchups against some key decks like Charizard and Gardevoir, but it’s not too powerful for the format: it has plenty of bad matchups, and it can be teched against. Miraidon has a solid matchup against Snorlax, since it has enough Energy to attack with anything that gets put Active (as long as you avoid Benching Pokémon like Squawkabilly ex). Mew VMAX, especially the Double Turbo Energy / Path to the Peak variant that made top 8 in Gdansk, will completely disrupt Snorlax’s plan with Judge and Path to the Peak and beat it fast. Roaring Moon ex plays switching cards, takes Prizes aggressively, and can even KO itself by attacking twice in a row with Frenzied Gouging. This can prevent Snorlax from playing Counter Catcher for a turn, and make Iono’s disruption more potent. Giratina VSTAR is one of Snorlax’s worst nightmares, since Giratina V can draw cards with Abyss Seeking, then KO every Pokémon with Shred, and the deck plays plenty of switch cards to deal with Counter Catcher, not to mention Path to the Peak. And of course, other decks that have trouble with Snorlax can always consider including Minior in the deck to have a powerful answer to Snorlax.

Stall decks never rise above a certain popularity threshold, and I don’t think Snorlax will be an exception. Perhaps more players will be inclined to try the deck after its recent success, but I think that overall, the metagame will get hostile towards it, and we’ll naturally see its success rate go down. In particular, I think some players who hate losing to Stall might give Giratina another try, seeing as it can deal well with many decks in the format right now.

Unusual decks

Snorlax Stall may not be the deck that most players expected to win, but it’s far from the biggest surprise coming from Gdansk regionals. Two of the top 8 decks were very unusual; strangely, both featured Palkia VSTAR.


Luke Kirkham is known to be a creative deckbuilder, having made day 2 before with never-seen cards like Zacian VSTAR and Tangrowth CEC. In Gdansk, he reached top 4 with a Palkia VSTAR deck.

3 Origin Forme Palkia V ASR 394 Irida ASR 1479 Water Energy 3
3 Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR ASR 404 Melony CRE 146
1 Ice Rider Calyrex V CRE 451 Boss’s Orders PAL 172
1 Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX CRE 464 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
1 Chien-Pao ex PAL 614 Cross Switcher FST 230
1 Suicune V EVS 313 Switch SVI 194
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 463 Trekking Shoes CRZ 145
1 Lumineon V BRS 403 Ultra Ball SVI 196
1 Mew ex MEW 1512 Nest Ball SVI 181
1 Mew CEL 112 Lost Vacuum CRZ 135
1 Spiritomb PAL 892 Escape Rope BST 125
2 Earthen Vessel PAR 163
1 Canceling Cologne ASR 136
1 Collapsed Stadium BRS 137

Palkia VSTAR has seen some niche play in Japan with Iron Valiant ex to fill its Bench and help it reach the damage it needs for KOs, but Luke had another approach: he brought an Item-heavy build of Palkia VSTAR, featuring Cross Switcher, Trekking Shoes, four Melony, and Suicune V to attack as early as turn 1. The strangest inclusion was a 1-1 line of Ice Rider Calyrex VMAX. This card can deal up to 250 damage and, very importantly, isn’t weak to Lightning. These two qualities make it the best attacker against Miraidon; with two Lost Vacuum, Luke could get rid of any Bravery Charm preventing him from getting a one-hit KO on the opponent’s Pokémon.

Palkia VSTAR is also a great attacker against Iron Valiant ex / Entei V. Due to Weakness, you don’t need a full Bench to take KOs against Entei V, so you can limit your Bench and prevent it from dealing too much damage, and with Palkia’s high HP, it’s tough for the Entei V player to actually take KOs. Of course, a deck using Palkia VSTAR would also be using Radiant Greninja, and with Cross Switcher and Cancelling Cologne, you can always threaten to take two Prizes with Moonlight Shuriken against decks with low HP Pokémon such as Gardevoir and Lost Box.

Will Palkia keep making waves or was it just a one-time success? It’s worth mentioning that Luke didn’t hit a single Gardevoir or Charizard deck (until losing to the latter in top 4), and that may have been a factor in his success, since both seem like unfavorable matchups.

The other unexpected deck that made top 8 in Gdansk is, of course, Tord Reklev’s Lost Box :

4 Comfey LOR 794 Colress’s Experiment LOR 1554 Water Energy 3
1 Sableye LOR 704 Mirage Gate LOR 1634 Darkness Energy 7
1 Cramorant LOR 504 Battle VIP Pass FST 2252 Psychic Energy 5
1 Radiant Greninja ASR 464 Nest Ball SVI 1812 Lightning Energy 4
1 Kyogre CEL 34 Switch Cart ASR 154
1 Roaring Moon ex PAR 1244 Escape Rope BST 125
1 Iron Hands ex PAR 703 Pokégear 3.0 SVI 186
1 Origin Forme Palkia V ASR 393 Super Rod PAL 188
1 Origin Forme Palkia VSTAR ASR 402 Energy Recycler BST 124
1 Hisuian Heavy Ball ASR 146
1 Pal Pad SVI 182
2 PokéStop PGO 68

This list is similar to the Lost Box that Adam Hawkins used to get top 64 at LAIC, using Iron Hands ex and Roaring Moon ex to give Lost Box new options. However, Tord also added Kyogre as an alternate victory condition.
Usually, Lost Box decks use Forest Seal Stone as their VSTAR Power: most of them use attackers that are Pokémon V, such as Dragonite V and Raikou V, although we’ve seen a few decklists that include only one-Prize attackers and use Pidgeot V to carry Forest Seal Stone. In the case of this new breed of Lost Box, though, the deck uses two-Prize attackers that are not Pokémon V (and thus can’t use Forest Seal Stone). It would be possible to include Dragonite V and/or Raikou V, of course, but the roles they fill are now taken by Roaring Moon ex and Iron Hands ex. Instead, for what I think is the first time, Tord chose to use Palkia VSTAR’s Star Portal as his VSTAR Power. This does three things for the deck.

First, obviously, it gives an alternative way to use Kyogre in the late game. The usual plan of using Mirage Gate is still an option, of course, but if all the Mirage Gate have been used (or Lost Zoned or Prized), Palkia VSTAR allows the Lost Box player to still threaten Aqua Storm for game. This gives the deck a bit more flexibility.
Second, Palkia VSTAR can be used early on to power up Radiant Greninja. If there’s a Palkia V in play, no matter how many cards are in the Lost Zone, the opponent must bench Manaphy or they’re at risk of losing their Charmander, Ralts, Pidgey, etc., to a Moonlight Shuriken. Even though there’s only one Palkia VSTAR in the list and no Raihan or Ultra Ball to search for it, the threat of it is enough to force the opponent to react.
Finally, against Iron Valiant ex / Entei V, which is a big threat to Lost Box, Palkia VSTAR becomes the deck’s ideal attacker, for the reasons mentioned earlier: it can OHKO Entei V without fearing a KO in response.

Since it’s a Tord deck, I’m sure plenty of people are already trying it out. I’m not sure that Palkia VSTAR will remain in the list: since it’s only a 1-1 line, it’s not that easy to get at the right time, and knowing that there’s no way to search for it makes it safer to not play around it. However, if nothing else, Tord’s performance proved that Kyogre was still relevant enough to make top 8 — which makes sense given that decks like Iron Valiant ex, Miraidon ex and Mew VMAX typically have boards that are very weak to Aqua Storm. I’m sure we will see more Kyogre being tried in the future; already, I’ve seen a mention of an interesting variant using Regigigas VSTAR rather than Palkia VSTAR, in order to remove Manaphy from the opponent’s Bench (or just to make space to bring back a good target with Echoing Horn) on the Aqua Storm turn!


With Snorlax finding more success than ever, Charizard on the rise and new decks looking to find a spot on the top tables while still contending with established decks like Gardevoir and Miraidon, the metagame is surely going to evolve. I’m afraid that I don’t know at the moment what is the right play for the next tournament. Right now, after a disappointing performance with what I still think was a solid metacall, I’m leaning towards simply bringing Gardevoir because it’s good and I enjoy playing it, and praying that I don’t open Manaphy against Stall and that my Miraidon opponents whiff Electric Generator; however, there’s still some time before Stuttgart regionals, so maybe I’ll find a better play by then!

Thanks for reading, as always.

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