Tier 1: Highly Competitive Meta Decks. 10% or more of tops, as ranked by Pojo. This will roughly correspond to Pojo’s Tier 1, with some overlap into Pojo’s Tier 2.
Tier 2: Semi-Competitive Meta Decks. Less than 10% of tops, as ranked by Pojo. Corresponds to the rest of Pojo’s Tier 2, Pojo’s Tier 3, and Rogue.
Tier 3: Semi-Competitive non-Meta/Rogue decks. 1-2 tops. Specifically includes decks that only top small events or get lower rankings at medium events. Can also include decks that can potentially top but have not yet in a given format.
Tier 4: Casually Competitive non-Meta decks. Decks that can compete at the locals level, but cannot top an event.
Sky Striker is a dominant meta deck in both the TCG and OCG. It relies on using a set of powerful generic Spell cards that all require the main monster zone to be empty. Their key card, Sky Striker Mobilize - Engage!, serves as both the main searcher for the deck and its advantage engine. The biggest issue the deck has in its pure form is putting damage on board due to the monster zone restriction. This is usually worked around using Darkest Diabolos, Lord of the Lair.
Despite not being the top deck (that honor goes to Sky Striker Trickstar), the deck is still undeniably Tier 1. Barring some significant hits to the deck on the next Forbidden List, the deck is set to remain tier 1 and potentially only grow stronger. This will mainly be from the new link it will get in Cybernetic Horizon in the end of July.
We're going to be looking at 2 different builds of Pure Sky Striker. If you want to see Sky Striker Trickstar decks, please look at our Trickstar Variants article.
Manav Dawar 2nd Place YCS Secaucus
The first list we'll be looking at is Manav Dawar's 2nd place list from YCS Secaucus.
Dawar's list is definitely indicative of the more theoretical meta that existed going into YCS Secaucus. Although we clearly know Sky Striker Trickstar is the dominant deck now, at the time the mirror match and Gouki were a real concern. The incidence of Gouki decks was also much higher going into this event. This is reflected in Dawar's choice to maindeck 2 copies of Solemn Strike. While this isn't too amazing in the Sky Striker Trickstar matchup, it can be good extremely good vs Gouki.
The most interesting exclusion from Dawar's build was no copies of Droll & Lock Bird between main and side. Instead he opted just to run 2 copies of Shared Ride. Although this is not a great idea in the modern format, Shared Ride is generally better in the mirror match. This is due to it being uncounterable by Called by the Grave and the mirror match being slow enough that a quick play spell can suffice.
Another choice that likely served Dawar in almost every matchup was the maindeck inclusion of Ghost Reaper & Winter Cherries. This is especially relevant because the pure variant of Sky Strikers is often better suited to going 2nd due to the deck not really building a board. The final interesting choice in Dawar's build is the omission of Knightmare Cerberus from the Extra Deck. This is almost entirely targeted at how bad that card is in the mirror match. Even in the Trickstar matchup, the card is mediocre at best since there are not usually high value targets for it.
Julian Nguyen Top 64 UK Nationals
The next list we'll be looking at is Julian Nguyen's top 64 build from the UK Nationals.
Although Nguyen's list doesn't differ drastically from Dawar's, it is definitely more geared towards the Trickstar matchup. This can be seen in the dropping of Solemn Strike and the inclusion of a 3rd Called by the Grave. Nguyen also pared down the hand trap lineup to focus on just Droll & Lock Bird and Ash Blossom. This is because, while other hand traps can be situationally useful, no other hand traps have anywhere near the impact in the Trickstar matchup.
Nguyen's primary main deck tech choice is clearly 3 copies of Mind Crush. This helps mitigate the deck's difficulties in going first. It also has a particularly devastating interaction with Trickstar Lycoris. Mind Crush can be used in response to Lycoris' effect which will remove all copies of Lycoris from the opponent's hand. It also stops the extra search from the bounced Candina on the next turn.
Nguyen's side deck is mostly standard except for the inclusion of multiple single target spell/trap removal. This is to address the high prevalence of Anti-Spell Fragrance and Imperial Order in the side/main deck of almost every non-Sky Striker player.
Unfortunately due to the power difference between the pure and Trickstar variants in the current format, there's not a huge number of techs the deck has room for. Nonetheless, there are still a few flexible cards that can be run.
The first of these is a Toon Table of Contents engine. This consists of 3 copies of Toon Table and 1 copy of either Toon Cyber Dragon or Toon Cannon Soldier. Toon Cyber Dragon can be used to go into Chimeratech Megafleet Dragon to get out from under powerful Extra Deck monster boards produced by decks such as Gouki or Pendulum. Toon Table also has the added benefit of being a single card that turns on the second effects of all Sky Striker cards. The main drawback is the high number of essentially useless cards that need to be run for the engine to work.
Another viable Sky Striker tech is a small Mekk Knight Engine. Although this has mostly been seen in Sky Striker Trickstar, Mekk Knights can still be useful in the pure variant. Mekk-Knights provide both big beaters and Link fodder. Mekk-Knight Purple Nightfall has the added benefit of being able to banish itself or any other Mekk-Knight at will. This is especially important for making sure that your Sky Striker Spells don't get locked out by your own monsters.
Sky Striker Trickstar
The Sky Striker Trickstar matchup is easily the most prevalent matchup for any deck today. Since Sky Striker Trickstar isn't OTK or combo oriented, the matchup is heavily focused on tempo. While Trickstar Sky Striker definitely has greater consistency plays, it can be outgrinded by well-timed usage of cards like Hercules Base and Multirole. Darkest Diabolos, Lord of the Lair is also extremely good in this matchup. While he does lock you out of using Sky Striker spells, being an untargetable 3k beater is extremely crucial against Trickstar. Their main ways to get past this card are either large Links made with Scapegoat or the non-targeting destruction off of Jamming Wave.
Easily the most difficult part of the matchup is siding. Due to the most effective floodgates also affecting your own deck, you need to focus on additional hand traps and other one-sided cards like Shared Ride. Mind Crush and spell/trap removal are generally the most effective side picks here.
The Pure Trickstar matchup is largely the same as the Sky Striker Trickstar matchup. The main difference is the much higher incidence of hand traps. Because of this, it's very important to make sure you're running all 3 copies of Called by the Grave between your main and side decks. Outside of that, it's also important to remember that Pure Trickstar can much more easily side into Spell hate such as Anti-Spell Fragrance without shutting out their own plays. Because of this, it's crucial to side more heavily into spell/trap removal when going first or second.
Pure Sky Striker
The mirror match with Sky Striker will almost always be a slog. The key is to try and get card advantage as fast as possible. Called by the Grave and Shark Cannon are key in the mirror match. This is not because countering hand traps is important, but making sure the opponent's Links don't float into Raye can decide games. Twin Twisters is also especially effective in the mirror match due to Multirole giving you knowledge of what your opponent's set cards are.
Gouki can be tough when going second without the right hand. However, the extreme consistency and reliance on Spells over monsters definitely gives Sky Striker an edge in the matchup. This is mainly because Sky Strikers can much more easily get past a Knightmare Gryphon/Iblee lock. Using your Widow Anchors and Afterburners carefully can easily dismantle the key parts of a Gouki board without them being able to do much. Once you manage to break the Gouki board, winning through sheer advantage is usually trivial. This is because Gouki's recoverability is very low in comparison to Sky Striker.
When siding, cards like Ra Sphere Mode and Evenly Matched can give essentially free wins by breaking open the opponent's board for low cost. Overall, the focus here should be on a combination of board-breakers and hand traps.
Altergeist is a dicey matchup. Although on paper the deck has a bad matchup off just its archetypal cards, Altergeist always main decks a lot of hate for Sky Striker. This is usually in the form of Anti-Spell Fragrance, Imperial Order, and Solemns. Because of this, playing carefully around backrow is crucial. If you do manage to break through your opponent's backrow, sealing a win shouldn't be too hard as the deck has a very low damage output.
When siding, hand traps are largely subpar and should be boarded out for as much Spell/Trap removal as possible. Evenly Matched is also very good at breaking open an Altergeist player's board.