Preparing for the European International Championships

Hello, readers! The European International Championships are approaching and you can’t imagine how excited I am. I love attending these major tournaments, and I can’t wait to meet with friends from all around the world and compete with the best players from every region. Competition is what drives me, so hearing that, for example, some renowned Japanese players will be attending, only increases my excitement and my motivation to prepare as best as I can for this event.

There’s still more than a week remaining before the start of the competition as I’m writing this, so I haven’t chosen my deck yet, but I’m feeling fairly confident about my chances. This is a nice change of pace from my last two International Championships! In the 2020 season, I couldn’t find a deck I liked for LAIC and made my choice the evening before the event, scrambling to find some of the cards I needed. Although I managed to reach top 32, the deck (Blastoise & Piplup-GX / Quagsire / Silvally-GX) was really not that great and I could have done much worse. For OCIC, I did prepare a lot more, but after failing to make some interesting ideas actually work, I defaulted to Arceus & Dialga & Palkia-GX / Zacian V. While the deck was good, and Bert Wolters made top 8 with the same deck list, I didn’t feel like I was playing it particularly better than anyone else, and I failed to make Day 2.

Today, for EUIC, I feel like I spent the whole month leading up to the event thinking about the format and testing decks. I want to share some tips to help you prepare for this event as well. This advice will mostly apply to other big competitions as well, and can be useful if you’re a new player, or if you’ve only played online so far and recently made the jump to IRL, or even if you’re a returning player. I will also share several deck lists of decks I’m considering playing.



Header - Testing and Deck Choice

Preparing for a big event means testing a lot of decks. Ideally, you’d have time to try every notable deck in the format, but in reality, you’ll probably lack the time, the cards, or both. That’s fine, though! You don’t need to play every version of Arceus VSTAR to be prepared for an event. I do recommend you play some games with the most expected decks in the format, even if you don’t plan to play them, to get a feel for them. When a deck seems unbeatable, play it and you’ll notice the flaws in the deck, the weaknesses you can exploit.

There will probably be decks, even popular ones, that you won’t like. Sometimes there’s a rational reason: “I don’t want to play Jolteon VMAX because everyone is teching Manaphy.” Sometimes it’s just that you don’t seem to be winning a lot of games with the deck you’re playing, even though it’s a top tier deck and you didn’t change a single card in a top player’s list. That’s fine. While I don’t recommend playing a rogue deck at a major event unless you’re really sure about what you’re doing (or you value the fun you get from playing that deck higher than the potential of doing better with a stronger deck), you don’t have to play the best deck in the format either. Choosing a deck that you’re comfortable with, even if it’s supposed to rank a bit below other archetype, is better than picking a deck that is stronger on paper, but that you’re not experienced with. There are nine rounds in day one alone, and in order to keep doing your best even towards the end of the day when fatigue kicks in, you need to be familiar with your deck.

I’ve made the mistake myself of changing my deck at the last minute for another deck I was not as good at, because it felt like it was the right play, and I’ve regretted it. It’s true that top players sometimes build a deck the day before an event and do well with it, but usually they benefit a lot from experience playing similar decks. So if you’re not confident you can play the second deck just as well as the first, don’t switch!


Header - Time Management

50 minutes for a Best-of-Three series is not a lot. If you’ve only played online, you might be underestimating the length of an IRL game, where shuffling takes time, especially in the current Standard format in which games take a bit longer than before, because not every deck uses three-Prize Pokémon and some deck can heal (with Cheren’s Care or Psychic Leap). If you can, I recommend doing some of your testing as a timed Best-of-Three series, to be prepared for real conditions. As you’ll notice, you might not have the time to play the whole series. Arceus VSTAR mirror matches, especially, tend to take a long time.

There are ways to learn how to manage time better. The first one is simply to play more in order to get used to your deck. Shady Dealings in Inteleon decks give you a plethora of options on basically any given turn after the first, but if you’ve played a lot, you should have an idea of which cards you might use at any point in the game, so decisions won’t take as long.

The second one is to learn to recognize when a game is lost and scoop so you have time to play the other game(s). At EUIC 2018, I was playing Zoroark-GX / Decidueye-GX and I scooped my first game of the tournament on the first or second turn. I knew the matchup (against Gardevoir-GX) was fine as long as I could set up, but I didn’t manage to do so, and my opponent had a good start so I wouldn’t catch up. This very early scoop gave us time to play two full games, which I won. Had I scooped even five minutes later, it’s possible that the match wouldn’t have ended and I would have started the first round with a tie instead of a win.


Header - Fair Play and Cheating

Since I’m talking about time management, it’s a good time to point out that you’re not allowed to delay making plays just to buy time so a game doesn’t have time to finish. It can be frustrating when there’s five minutes remaining on the clock and you’re leading 1-0 but Game 2 is not in your favor, but you have to keep playing normally and not, say, look at your opponent’s discard twice every turn. If you feel like you’re going to be tempted to do something like this, just ignore the clock after a point and don’t look at it at all.

Conversely, if your opponent would benefit from the game not finishing and you see that they’re playing at a slower pace as time goes on, glancing at the clock regularly, don’t hesitate to call a judge. This also goes if you notice anything suspicious in your opponent’s behavior, like if they try to play a Boss’s Orders after they’ve already played a Marnie, for example. People are often scared to call a judge, because they don’t want to be seen as a rulesharker or because their opponent is better known than they are and they don’t want them to think they’re accusing them of cheating, or simply because calling an authority feels unnatural. However, don’t be. Calling a judge doesn’t mean that you think that your opponent is cheating or that you’re calling for them to be DQ’d (and if your opponent sees it this way, it says more about them than anything else). It simply means that you want an impartial authority to oversee a situation.

Here’s a conversation I hear all the time between rounds:

“I would have won, but my opponent slow played at the end, probably on purpose, so I tied.”
“That sucks! Did you call a judge?”
“No, but I should have.”

I’ve talked to plenty of players who regretted not calling a judge, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone who called a judge but regretted it. Do it. Worst case scenario, the judge says no, there was no slow play, and that’s all.

One last note on the subject: I don’t think there’s a high number of cheaters, at least in the European community (I’m not as familiar with players in the rest of the world). By that, I mean that I don’t think that many players will be attending EUIC consciously thinking that they’re going to do everything, including illegal actions, to win. However, these players exist. One might, for example, try playing a second Supporter in a turn, and if caught, claim that it was a mistake. Mistakes do happen, and I completely understand the urge to say “it’s fine”, and just ignore it, especially if they’re being nice.

But there are also players who will try to capitalize on that urge, and will try to play an extra Supporter in every round. Maybe they’ll get caught eight times out of nine, but the one time they don’t wins them a round, and the eight time they do doesn’t matter, as they won’t suffer any consequence because each of their opponents believes it’s an honest mistake, so they won’t do anything about it.

The way you prevent this kind of cheating is by calling a judge to notify the issue. The more players do so, the more information judges have access to, and the better they can detect this sort of cheating pattern. Calling a judge when there’s an incident is not an individual act to try to punish an opponent for a mistake, it’s the way a community protects itself against cheaters.


Header - Bring a Bottle of Water!

My last advice for players attending a big tournament is to come prepared. Obviously, that means don’t forget your deck, VSTAR marker, dice and playmat, as well as some extra sleeves in case one gets damaged, but also think about taking some water and snacks. Personally, I like having a banana and some cereal bars to give me a bit more energy. Day 1 of an IC or Regional is a long day, and you’ll need snacks to maintain your highest level of play all day long.

It’s also important to get a good night’s sleep before the tournament. If you’re like me, you’ll probably be too nervous to sleep perfectly, but that’s all the more reason not to playtest until 2 a.m.! That extra game against Mew VMAX will probably not matter as much as an extra twenty or thirty minutes of sleep will.


Header - Some Decks

Finally, just like in my pre-Liverpool article, here are some decks that I like and am considering playing.

1. Arceus VSTAR / Inteleon


****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 19

* 4 Arceus V BRS 122
* 1 Dunsparce FST 207
* 3 Arceus VSTAR BRS 123
* 1 Galarian Moltres EVS 93
* 1 Manaphy BRS 41
* 4 Sobble CRE 41
* 3 Drizzile SSH 56
* 2 Inteleon SSH 58

##Trainer Cards - 29

* 1 Avery CRE 130
* 2 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 1 Training Court RCL 169
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Big Charm SSH 158
* 1 Melony CRE 146
* 1 Raihan EVS 152
* 1 Klara CRE 145
* 4 Level Ball BST 129
* 2 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 1 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 1 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 2 Marnie SSH 169
* 2 Path to the Peak CRE 148
* 1 Cheren's Care BRS 134

##Energy - 12

* 3 Capture Energy RCL 171
* 2 Water Energy SWSHEnergy 3
* 5 Darkness Energy SWSHEnergy 7
* 2 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******


I’ve been testing a lot of Arceus VSTAR variants recently and Arceus / Inteleon feels very good. This list has a Moltres as an additional weapon against Mew VMAX, since pure Arceus / Inteleon struggles in that matchup, but is otherwise close to the lists with only Water Energy. Capture Energy is underrated in this deck. One of the deck’s issues is not setting up very well on turn one, and Capture Energy is an additional out (along with Quick Ball and Level Ball) to a Pokémon on turn one.

I think Dunsparce and Manaphy are needed; Dunsparce more so, but Manaphy helps a lot to protect it against Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX, and it also makes Jolteon VMAX basically free. One thing I like about this deck is that you have Klara to recover cards. It’s intended to be played for Moltres, but you can also use it to get Manaphy and/or Dunsparce back in the matchups where they matter.

2. Mew VMAX


****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 13

* 1 Oricorio FST 42
* 4 Genesect V FST 185
* 2 Meloetta FST 124
* 3 Mew V FST 113
* 1 Pumpkaboo EVS 76
* 2 Mew VMAX FST 114

##Trainer Cards - 40

* 4 Power Tablet FST 236
* 1 Training Court RCL 169
* 3 Rotom Phone CPA 64
* 2 Rose Tower DAA 169
* 1 Pal Pad UPR 132
* 4 Ultra Ball PLB 90
* 3 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 2 Switch SUM 132
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 4 Battle VIP Pass FST 225
* 2 Fog Crystal CRE 140
* 3 Elesa's Sparkle FST 233
* 2 Escape Rope BUS 114
* 4 Cram-o-matic FST 229

##Energy - 7

* 1 Psychic Energy HS 119
* 2 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151
* 4 Fusion Strike Energy FST 244

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******


This list is basically the one that Japanese player wazedaze used to win the 280-player Late Night #34 online tournament, except I added a third Stadium instead of one Fog Crystal. Cutting to 3-2 Mew VMAX is risky, but Tord Reklev did so in Liverpool. As long as you’re careful with your resources, it can work. This list also has Pal Pad, like many Japanese deck lists, which means you can afford to discard Supporters more freely.

Adding Pumpkaboo to the deck might seem dangerous since it’s not a Fusion Strike Pokémon, but it’s saved me a lot of times. In a list with Fog Crystal, there are a lot of outs to it, and it’s worth it to Bench it even if you can only Fusion Strike System to five cards, because the alternative is not using Fusion Strike System at all when an opponent hits you with a Path to the Peak.

3. Malamar


****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Inkay CRE 69
* 4 Malamar CRE 70
* 2 Remoraid BST 36
* 4 Sobble CRE 41
* 3 Drizzile SSH 56
* 2 Octillery BST 37
* 2 Inteleon SSH 58

##Trainer Cards - 33

* 4 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 1 Tower of Waters BST 138
* 1 Ordinary Rod SSH 171
* 1 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Brawly CRE 131
* 4 Level Ball BST 129
* 3 Scoop Up Net RCL 165
* 4 Cynthia's Ambition BRS 138
* 2 Rescue Carrier EVS 154
* 1 Ultra Ball SUM 135
* 3 Fog Crystal CRE 140
* 1 Escape Rope BUS 114
* 4 Korrina's Focus BST 128

##Energy - 6

* 4 Spiral Energy CRE 159
* 2 Psychic Energy HS 119

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******


Here’s my revised Malamar list, cutting the Turffield Stadium + Jumpluff package for more early game Rapid Strike cards, namely a full line of Korrina’s Focus. I’ve chosen to keep playing three Fog Crystal and three Scoop Up Net, because in both cases I think the fourth one is not needed and can even be bad to draw (in the late game and the early game, respectively).

Instead, I have some one-ofs I really like in Malamar: Ultra Ball and Escape Rope. I’ve already advocated for them a lot, but the short version is that Ultra Ball lets you discard temporarily-useless cards like Boss’s Orders or Inteleon in order to draw more with Cynthia’s Ambition, and Escape Rope fixes the Mew VMAX matchup by giving you a way to attack two-Prizers on the Bench instead of the one-Prizers they’ll send out. For more on this, check my article where I explain the intricacies of the Mew vs Malamar matchup:

I don’t think Malamar is in a great place right now, unfortunately. Jolteon VMAX has gained popularity, Arceus / Inteleon is seeing considerably more play because of its win in São Paulo (and it’s much more dangerous than other Arceus variants), and other techs such as Crobat VMAX are seeing some play.

4. Arceus Urshifu Toolbox


****** Pokémon Trading Card Game Deck List ******

##Pokémon - 21

* 4 Arceus V BRS 122
* 2 Bidoof BRS 120
* 2 Bibarel BRS 121
* 2 Arceus VSTAR BRS 123
* 2 Crobat V DAA 104
* 1 Galarian Zigzagoon SSH 117
* 1 Hoopa V PR-SW 176
* 1 Crobat VMAX PR-SW 99
* 2 Rapid Strike Urshifu V BST 87
* 2 Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX BST 88
* 1 Pumpkaboo EVS 76
* 1 Lumineon V BRS 156

##Trainer Cards - 27

* 1 Switch HS 102
* 1 Evolution Incense SSH 163
* 2 Training Court RCL 169
* 1 Piers DAA 165
* 2 Boss's Orders RCL 154
* 4 Quick Ball SSH 179
* 2 Big Charm SSH 158
* 2 Raihan EVS 152
* 1 Air Balloon SSH 156
* 4 Ultra Ball BRS 150
* 1 Choice Belt BRS 135
* 3 Professor's Research SHF 60
* 1 Marnie SSH 169
* 2 Escape Rope BUS 114

##Energy - 12

* 1 Rapid Strike Energy BST 140
* 4 Fighting Energy SWSHEnergy 15
* 4 Darkness Energy SWSHEnergy 7
* 3 Double Turbo Energy BRS 151

Total Cards - 60

****** Deck List Generated by the Pokémon TCG Online www.pokemon.com/TCGO ******


Everything I had to say about this deck is in my previous guide:

I just wanted to confirm that I think this deck is still strong, and also that I like the inclusion of Piers.


Header - Conclusion

That’s all for today! As always, if you’re attending the EUIC in Frankfurt, don’t hesitate to say hi! I always enjoy meeting my readers. I’m not sure how many of you are only starting your competitive journey this season, but if you are, I hope this was useful!

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