12/21/2018 by Mark Dizon
What’s going on 60 card readers! Another weekend and another crazy result. We had two regionals this weekend, so I am going to break down what we can take away from both of them into two parts. Interestingly enough there is quite a bit to go through as both events were in different formats in different regions. Size wise they were similar and both had exciting developments. With my bias, I am going to start with the North American event because the race for top 16 is heating up and the event gave us such great stories that we cant help but talk about them. If you are waiting for the next level one, they are in the works and will be coming up shortly. Without further ado, lets talk about what occurred at the regionals in Anaheim.
Its still a Zoroark world
Portland Regionals happened just five weeks before Anaheim. At that regionals the top eight in Portland contained Three Zoroark Decks and five non-Zoroark decks. The non-Zoroark decks were Trevenant, Archies, Groudon, Buzzwole and Drampa Garb. At Anaheim the top eight grew with four Zoroark decks and four non Zoroark decks. At this tournament the non-Zoroark decks were Vespiqueen Flareon, Rayquaza, Buzzwole Lycanroc and Lucario GX. The format has slowly evolved into Play Zoroark or play a deck that can beat Zoroark. With Zoroark winning its second event in a row, we can see that since its release Zoroark has won four of the eight expanded regionals it has been legal for. That’s a shocking fifty percent with the other four regionals all won by different archetypes. Is the consistency of Trade what makes it the best deck to run and gives its pilots the best opportunity to make it into day two and then the elimination rounds? Or does the deck just provide the pros a better opportunity to out play their opponents? With the deck being the first choice for most of these pro players we will be able to see in Dallas if the deck continues its winning ways?
Standard Decks Breaking Through
We have seen multiple standard decks ported into expanded and being able to be consistent in the format. From Volcanion to Gardevoir, Standard favourites that are consistent are conveniently even more consistent in Expanded due to cards such as Professor Sycamore and VS Seeker allowing the decks to become much faster than their Standard Counterparts. At Anaheim, Enter Rayquaza GX and Lucario GX. Rayquaza was definitely a deck that many tried to port from standard into expanded. The problem that arose was the Vikavolt and Rare Candy was too slow for the format. If we compare the standard format and expanded format, the percentage of Rare Candy decks is much lower in Expanded format due to the speed and intensity of Expanded. The innovation that came through at this event was the addition of Ho-oh Gx being able to bring back energy and then use Ninja Boy to bring out a quick Rayquaza GX. Zerorara GX allows the cards to have a quick pivot due to the ability of free retreat so the deck does not need to devote slots for float stone. This is something the deck did not have access during its first run in expanded. Marshadow plus Shaymin-EX allows you to simulate the Marshadow and Lillie plays that have been used in Standard. I would be ready for this deck as the cards are not very costly and are readily accessible to current standard players looking to be able to play expanded. Lucario GX replaced the Primal Groudon deck from Portland as the Zoroark Trump. Spoiler alert both these decks failed in being the Zoroark Trump in top eight. Lucario GX was tried in Standard when it was first released but the format discovered that the Shrine decks are way better at combating Zoroark due to being able to trade prizes favourably. In Expanded Lucario has the ability to hit large number consistently, and not having to run high-varience cards such a super scoop up. Interestingly the use of Landorus EX instead of Buzzwole GX or the split harkens back to the day when Landorus was one of the best cards in the format. I expect Tag Team Promos to introduce new archetypes into Dallas finally shaking the format up.
Even Zoroark can Innovate
Say this with me. Zoroark, Red Card, Delinquent. Zoroark, Red Card, Delinquent. As a way to combat other Zoroark decks, Le Bui came up with the idea, if I make it so that they cannot play will I just win? More often then not, he must of assembled the comboas he made top eight with this interesting take on Zoroark. The deck relies to run the opposing Zoroark and other decks out of the game by not even allowing them to set up. It is much harder to set up with five cards instead of eight. I would even consider this deck a high roller deck because if it could win game one and even lose game two it would probably be favoured in game three. Little small innovations like this make the format extremely intuitive even within the main decks that are being played.
Calls for Expanded Bans
By now you will have seen in our group chats and in our two biggest Facebook groups of HeyFonte and Virbank calling for the Bans of Both Zoroark and Double Colourless Energy. Whether you agree with the sentiments or thing they are crazy they are a huge talking point regarding where the expanded format is going. If we take a look at the standard format Zoroark might be in the higher echelon of the format, however the deck is not considered the best deck in that format. What changes from format to format other than card legality? It truly is the power of the cards available. While In a standard Zoroark Mirror is extremely skill intensive based on the Zoroark not being able to take a knockout on another Zoroark, In expanded the card skyfield allows the deck to be able to take OHKO’s on each other. This is a huge difference. Players need to be able to dissect the problem involved in the game instead of just trying to be able to call for the same cards that keep winning to be banned. If you look at the Zoroark Control deck that has been winning. It doesn't even run skyfield because the other Zoroark decks will play it for them. A Zoroark Control Mirror in expanded will be much closer than a Zoroark Control deck versus another variant. So maybe the problem is not Zoroark itself in that matchup but rather the cards that allow it to be extremely powerful. I truly believe that even banning Exeggcute would not solve the problem in that deck. When we get to looking at the problem of Double Colorless, I doubt players would understand that if we took away this card that has made the game more accessible for newer players, we would just move on to decks like Darkrai and Volcanion making a return to the format. We need to understand what are the true problems that cause the game to get degenerate and not fun. I would love to play Archeops. Maxies Yveltal will always be my favourite deck to play in Expanded. However Archeops made it so that certain decks were not even playable. The whole point of Pokemon compared to other games is that you are able to play whatever Pokemon you want and enjoy. Forest of Giant Plants was oppressive, Hex Maniac chains were oppressive and Archeops is oppressive. Bans should only be made when either it doesn't allow certain decks to be played or it doesn't allow you to play the game. I strongly disagree with the Ghetsis Ban. I believe Ghetsis on it’s on is a high variance skill intensive card and it gets worse as the game goes on. The card is not run in every deck and even the decks that want it do not run it every time. If we look at the top four match at Fort Wayne Regionals last year, Michael Pramawat played versus Chris Venier in a Night March Mirror. Michael ran Ghetsis and Chris Venier chose to not run it. This one decision gave Michael a huge boon in the mirror. Looking at the ability of players to choose whether or not to include a card and have it swing a matchup is a sign of a good metagame call and understanding what axis a format is currently on.
Is Jimmy Pendarvis the best player in the game right now
If we are currently look at regionals, Jimmy Pendarvis is currently at four out of a possibly five regionals top eights this season with three wins. Winning three regionals in a row during the modern format is insane. When it comes to tournaments in the past season we had Igor Costa who was able to win Hartford, Costa Mesa and Madison over the span of the Pokemon year. During this calendar year we have Daniel altavilla come through and win Toronto Regionals, Memphis Regionals and gifted a championship in Brazil for three tournament wins. Both these players in conjunction with Jimmy could be justified as some of the best players in the game. Of course we would be remiss to talk about Tord’s run over the past two years, however Jimmy playing in three regionals in a row and winning them all seems to be an accomplishment on it’s own. If you take in the fact that he has played seventeen total rounds of Pokemon in each regional he has played a whopping 68 rounds of Pokemon. In nine straight rounds of Pokemon Top Cut Matches Jimmy is 9-0. I think there are certain players that have a great deal of closing power once they get into those top eights. If we look at Tord, Michael Pramawat, Azul Garcia Greigo, Daniel Altavilla, Igor Costa, Ivanoff, Diego. When these players are in a top 8 they have that closing power. I don’t think any of these players would want to run into Jimmy at the level he is currently playing at. I believe that his format understanding and knowing how to play his matchups has provided him with the ability to influence how his games go. Especially in expanded which you cannot truly metagame due to the vastness of the format and the decks you might see in rounds one to three that you wouldnt see in day two. With Dallas on the way though, I believe that the format will change and it will be harder for Jimmy to continue his run. I also believe that Zoroark will not win Dallas due to players just being prepared for it and some new archetypes should show up, such as we saw in Anaheim. We have a lull till Dallas so that will slow down how Players are preparing for the event.
Well that's what I have for you with my thoughts from Anaheim. We are in an interesting part when it comes to events concerning challenges and league cups because they are alternating between the two formats. I suggest you keep decks built in each format and figure out ways to metagame whether they are best of one or best of three. Personally I believe that expanded events should be best of three. It is such a high variance format that the best of one matches are truly decided by factors that most players cannot control. If you are looking for some interesting decks make sure to take advantage of the 60cards free trial if you haven’t yet as it will show you the decks that are available to play that might surprise the other players in your community. Until Next Time, Good Luck and Have Fun
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