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Chris Fulop

Not So Fast...

Dallas Regionals Is In The Books! Check Out This Analysis Of The Massive Shake Up To the Standard Metagame!

06. 01. 2017 by Chris Fulop

Hey everyone! Dallas Regionals is in the books, and we saw a pretty dynamic shift in the metagame compared to the prior few tournments which were dominated by Yveltal/Garbodor, with both Greninja BREAK and Volcanion decks hot on its heels. This weekend we saw decks which are not exactly new faces soar to the top of the tournament, but we also saw an innovative deck piloted by Kevin Baxtor and Sam Chen reach moderate success featuring the brand new Snorlax GX!

I'll cover those, as well as a few other decks which put up decent day 2 performances that came out of left field, even if they didn't manage to sneak into the top 8 itself. Before I do this, though, I want to link an article which I think will be very helpful for a lot of players. First off, yes, it was written on a Magic: The Gathering website, and while some of the examples given do include some game-specific references, the points made are very broad stroke and absolutely apply to Pokémon just as much as they do Magic. The article discusses mental biases and how they impact a player's performance both in testing and in actual tournament play.

The article is written by Magic Hall of Famer (and one of the most successful players ever at the game) Paulo Vitor Dama De Rosa. The article just went up today as I am writing this, and I felt it was so useful to players of varying skill levels ("PV" goes over examples where he and his team have fallen prey to these issues in the article, so even elite tier players may find something useful here. In other cases, he does a great job of articulating and summarizing problems players face which may be a bit more muddled to think of otherwise. ) 

Table of contents

Igor Costa, Mega Mewtwo
Santiago Bueno's Mewtwo
In Houmani, Volcanion
Xander Pero, Mega Gardevoir
That Snorlax Deck 

One issue I want to discuss, as well, is something which came up in the finals of Dallas Regionals between Xander Pero and Igor Costa. At the end of Game 1, Igor managed to get the game in a position where he could N Xander to a 1 card hand, and use Trubbish's attack to, if he flips head, strip Xander's attacker of an energy and potentially steal a game he was getting pretty badly beaten at. (The matchup is pretty rough; more on that later.) Igor rolls a die...heads! Xander immediately objects, pointing out it was not the "table designated" die used for rolling (Despite being an otherwise totally legal die to roll with.) 
Now, I watched the Twitch stream explosion as this played out as both players had supporters jumping to their side in the argument. I want to weigh in on this. First off, yes, it is definitely pretty close to "rules lawyering" and trying to use a loophole to gain a big advantage in a game. If looking at this from the sense of fair play and the often vague "spirit of the game", there was no reason that die roll should not have been a totally acceptable one. In fact, since the dice were provided by the organizers of the event, even had it not been clear (another demand on rolling dice) it should have been legal to roll as well: Clearly the organizers would not provide players with loaded dice. If you're in a close game, with your mind set on trying to think about the game state, do you have any idea how easy it is to grab the non-designated die while on stream? (Worth noting, this is only an issue when a match is being streamed, which in and of itself puts an additional issue on players who accept a feature match. Obviously in the finals you don't get much of a choice, of course, but what if this happened during Swiss?) 
Anyways, while clearly cutthroat by Xander, I don't blame him either. There is a lot on the line, and over different events, it had been stressed to be an issue. I have no idea what I'd have done in the same situation, but I can safely say I won't say "I'd never do that!" to it.

In the end, the judges decided to let the roll stand, which is absolutely the correct decision there. The stream commentators stated the judges decided that the players had not properly stressed the issue of which die to roll, which is a fine justification, but who knows if that is even accurate? The point of this separation of die is to make the visual aspect of the game clearer and cleaner to viewers. The main reason to have dice restrictions at all is to maintain the integrity of the "flip". In this case, all that was compromised was the clarity of the board for stream viewers? Under no circumstances should that reason decide the outcome of a game in the finals of a Regionals! It's assinine. I understand asking players to roll a die for visual sake, but to use an oversight of this (an isolated one at that) to directly impact the game result would be a disaster. I'd much rather see this "rule" used as a "request" of the players to help with the quality of the stream, and an oversight can be overlooked. Luckily, this is what seemed to happen, but I think an official clarification and rerouting of this "rule" needs to be made for the future. In the end, I don't really blame any of the parties involved, and I am glad that the judging staff came to the right conclusion, even if the official "reason" for that outcome is a bit of a copout.
Now lets look at the Top 8 for Masters from Dallas! 
1.) Xander Pero: Mega Gardevoir 
2.) Igor Costa: Mega Mewtwo 
3.) Dalen Dockery: Mega Gardevoir 
4.) Connor Finton: Mega Gardevoir 
5.) Jimmy Zhang: Darkrai Giratina 
6.) Marcos Garcia: Greninja 
7.) Noah Sawyer: Mega Gardevoir 
8.) Alex Krekeler: Greninja 

So the clear conclusion to be drawn from this is that Mega Gardevoir was the breakout deck of the weekend. It made up half of the top 8, and took down the event. Dalen dominated Swiss with his deck, although he fell in the Semi-finals. 
The next glaring point...No Yveltal!? This was the deck that had been dominating Standard for the past few months, and this was clearly a huge shift. I mentioned in my last article how Yveltal had such a strong run that the odds it could survive the continued efforts to beat it were very unlikely. The deck is great, but not so robust as to be able to fend off so many different attacks from so many directions. If you looked at the lists from London, players skewed their list to beat mirror match, and got rewarded. Now, the deck was all of the hype leaving that event, and you couldn't go into this event IGNORING mirror...but by playing to beat mirror, you left yourself wide open to other decks coming at you. Alex Hill had a great run with Vespiquen can you address the weakness to Lighting techs? Greninja is a definite issue...beating it while it skews its build to beat you is asking the deck to be taken in a totally different direction. Max Potions are a huge issue! Now Mega Gardevoir, with it's resistance, healing, and the ability to dump liabilities off of it's bench comes along...thats another totally different challenge! When the metagame is skewed for Yveltal to be the number one deck to beat, it can't fight every front, and as a result it suffered. It may still be the best deck in the format, but it certainly wasn't the best deck for this metagame by a long shot. 

The general sentiment for the weekend amongst Yveltal players was that they were trimming/cutting Fright Night Yveltals because they were "not good in the metagame". Well let me be brutally honest with you. That Yveltal is one of the primary strengths of the deck in my eyes, and it not being good in the metagame should be a HUGE red flag that the deck is NOT in a good place in the metagame. One argument was that it had lost strength in the mirror, the general prevalence of healing made it a risky game plan, and it was bad against the non-EX decks. I'm just not buying into the idea that swarming Yveltal-EX is good enough in this format, even when backed by the disruption of Garbodor. Garbodor is great; find a different partner for it. Let me re-state though, I'm not saying the deck is's one of my favorites in the format; sometimes you just have to take a step back and wait for the meta to cycle a bit. If you're great with the deck, and manage to build the right list for a given week, you can maybe defend it to a degree as viable, but there is no way you can argue it was the correct pick for the event, and I want to say the signs were pretty clear going in that this was the case. Being an "okay" choice isn't where I want to be when the HUGE payoff for an event is the finals. 
One of the decks that a lot of players brought to the event (including multiple Team ARG members, such as Igor Costa, who did earn a finals placement with the deck!) was Mega Mewtwo. Now, there were two different builds which got represented at the event. The first was the very traditional build which Igor used to great success. It ran Shrine of Memories and Psychic Energy for the damage swapping gimmick. Here was the list Igor ran for the event: 

You'll notice he continued to use his 2-1 Garbodor line, and I still feel it is a fine and defensible choice. I think I'd still be on the 2-2 plan, just because it is safer, but let's be honest, I'm not always the safest player when it comes to running thin numbers. (At Worlds 2006, I was second seed going into day 2 with an LBS list which ran 0 4-ofs and 23 1-ofs. I wouldn't have changed that in retrospect. Okay, for those who follow the format, that's a lie, I ran 3 Holon's Transceiver and 3 Holon Mentor instead of 4-2, due to a suspected large amount of trainer lock/Houndoom used in the Grinder the night before. The fear didn't pan out, so I'd have reverted to 4-2, but the singles, I'd definitely have run!) 
Igor opted to only run 1 Parallel City, which is probably fine, seeing how Rayquaza and Rainbow Road have fallen out of favor. One of the big things to take from this event is that deck selection was made under the assumption that decks would not be able to score OHKOs. There was a plethora of healing played, and lower HP Megas were expected to be able to take multiple hits. A deck like Rainbow Road or Rayquaza could be a great play for this format going forward as decks push to win grindier games. (This is one of the reasons I feel like Mega Gardevoir had such an outstanding performance.) 

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