Monday, July 2, 2012

The Nationals analysis and farewell to the HGSS-on -era


In the U.S. Nationals Klinklang didn't need
to Grind its way through (pun intended)
Hello everyone!


The last Nationals were played this weekend and what a weekend it was. A huge variety of decks took the top spot of the last 4 National Championships of this season. These 4 tournaments include Portugal, The United Kingdom, Canada and of course The United States. In this entry, I’ll mostly focus on the results of the U.S. Nationals and to all the past Nationals before it.

Also, as you know, I asked you to vote if you want me to write about BW-on decks or HGSS-on decks after last Nationals. The consensus among readers was pretty clear, over 80% of you want me to write about BW-on decks. However, some of you wanted me to make a breakdown of the U.S. Nationals, so players going to Worlds can get something out of my blog as well. I thought it was a great idea, so this will be my very last entry of HGSS-on format (excluding my Worlds report of course). I’ll be doing 1-2 entries for SixPrizes UG before Worlds, so if you are going to Worlds and want to learn about my opinion about World Championships metagame etc., tune into SixPrizes. 

Before Worlds, I’ll only probably make 1-2 entries per week, because I’ll spend so much time play testing for Worlds (all my free time that is). I will go to Hawaii 4th of August, so after that you’ll probably only hear from me once in a while in Facebook or Twitter. It may be that I’ll sometimes update my status on my blog as well. But if you aren’t yet following me on Facebook/Twitter, now it’s the time to join, if you want to hear about my Worlds experience in real time.

Anyways, let’s get on-topic. The results of National Championships and how do I see them.



First weekends – Darkrai domination

Everyone remembers how Nationals started in most parts of Europe and how Battle Roads started in the United States – Darkrai was THE deck. It really didn’t matter what you played with Darkrai, it had the best chance of winning and Darkrai won EVERY official Nationals in the first two weekends and almost 50% of first weekends’ Battle Roads.

Is Darkrai so good?  Everyone kept asking. Most people believed what they saw and said that: “Yes it is”. And when most people think that one card is better than everything else, it becomes a reality. People start to play it more and more and the amount (and price) of Darkrai increases all the time. People start to believe that playing Darkrai is the only way to win the tournament. In fact, for a while before my own Nationals I really thought that Darkrai was a overpowered card and that you HAD to have it in your deck in order to win. However, as I’ll explain shortly, there was a reason why I thought so.

Anyways, in the first weekends Darkrai seemed unstoppable. When Darkrai/Terrakion/Mewtwo EX won the Norwegian Nationals, it seemed that there was a Darkrai deck that had all the answers against the metagame and more. Also, after I won Nationals with Hammertime and released the list in my blog, people became aware of one more Darkrai variant. The buzz, which all these Darkrai variants caused online, caused the upcoming shift in the metagame, which I’ll explain next.



Learning Curve

As you may know, I have studied Economics in a university for a year now (applied to the best School of Economics of Finland this year). The term learning curve is used to explain how the employees get used to doing their work and how this increases the productivity of every single worker. The longer a person does the same job, the faster and more efficient he will become over time doing the same job. This happens in Pokémon TCG as well, but in a bit different manner.

Whenever a new card (like Darkrai) is released, the hype is huge. Everyone wants to hop onto the hype train and a stale metagame is ready. However, metagame is just like market economy, it heals itself over time (yes the financial crisis won’t last forever). Counters are made and the dominant Darkrai will start struggling. Here is how it went with Darkrai (and how it goes with most hyped (and broken) cards.

1) The Hype Train

I explained The Hype Train earlier. Everyone believes that one card is superior to everything else and the image becomes reality.

2) Teching

In this step, people start to tech against the dominating deck. As well all know, unlike against Mewtwo EX, against Darkrai EX there is a great counter in the current metagame. That is of course Terrakion. Terrakion is very easy to put into any deck because it requires only 1 fighting and 1 colorless energy to OHKO Darkrai EX. Thanks to Darkrai, even decks like Eelektrik began to run Terrakions in their lists.

3) Learning

This applies to every little thing in your life. You must learn anything, in order to do it correctly in the future. It’s no different in the Pokémon TCG. In order to play correctly against everything, you must play a lot of games before learning the correct way. Darkrai EX is a good card and since it was a new kind of card to the format, no one knew how to play against it. The best thing about Darkrai EX is that it takes advantage of an inexperienced player. The reason for this is Darkrais Night Spear, which hits the bench. As well now know, you must be very careful while playing things on your bench when playing against Darkrai decks. You can’t just play every single Celebi on your bench because they’re only free prizes for Darkrai. The bench damage combined with humongous hype caused Darkrai EX to be THE dominant deck.

After a while, people started to understand how to play against Darkrai. This combined to correct tech cards lead to results like Germany’s Nationals, where CMT won Nationals. It also lead to increasing number of other decks in the top cuts of the tournaments, even though Darkrai decks still won most Nationals. However, a change was already at hand. That’s what leads us to…

4) A Balanced Metagame

It has been a while since I’ve been able to think the metagame as balanced. Balanced metagame is always  a good thing, but it doesn’t’ necessarily mean that the game itself is in good shape. The first turn rule is still bad and sudden death matches decide too often the winners of big tournaments. However, when it comes to the balanced metagame – let’s look at the results of last weekend’s Nationals.



The United States (and the last weekend)

So, let’s look at the results. Thanks to Pokegym.net for gathering this info.

The United Kingdom

1. Alex N. (Zekrom/Eelektrik/Terrakion)
2. Karl B. (Kumis.dec)
3. Matt B. (Vanilluxe)
4. Sami S. (CMT)


Canada

1.  Curtis L. (Entei/techs)
2. Mike M. (Eelektrik)
3. Adrian L. (Darkrai EX)

4. Zach L. (Darkrai EX)

Portugal

1.  Igor C.  (Darkrai EX/Terrakion/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX)
2.  Gonçalo F. (Darkrai EX/Terrakion/Tornadus EX/Mewtwo EX)
3.  Rute M.  (Terrakion/Mewtwo EX/Tornadus EX w/Exp. Shares)
4. Filipe C.  (Hammertime Darkrai)

The United States

1. John R. (Klinklang/ EXs)
2. Kevin N. (Eelektrik/Max Potion)
3. Chris M.(CMT /w Terrakion and only 4 supporters)
4. Jay H. (Darkrai EX/Mewtwo EX)



Just a quick look at the results makes thing pretty clear – the metagame is very balanced and versatile. Entei and Klinklang winning proves it. Both of those decks have autolosses (for example against Hammertime), but still they ended up winning two biggest Nationals’ of the season. This only strengthens the argument of a balanced metagame. The field has so many different decks that one autoloss doesn’t really matter at all. For anyone playing in the Worlds and next season, this is good news. Just play whatever you like the best, and you might just win the tournament. Last, here are a few main points, which I think are the most important points and my thoughts about them when it comes to the results of these Nationals.


1) Klinklang winning Masters in the U.S. Nationals

For this I would like to directly quote my SixPrizes UG article, which was released just before Nationals.

“If Klinklang succeeds in avoiding every single deck that runs a lot of Hammers, it can have a decent chance of winning a tournament.”

And that is exactly what happened. I don’t know how popular Hammertime was in Masters division, but either it wasn’t very popular or the winner got just lucky avoiding them in the top cut games. I think it’s very cool that Klinklang won, but to be honest I still don’t think it’s the BDIF. At least Nationals proved to all Klinklang haters that Klinklang is a serious deck!  Klinklang winning proved that anything is possible in the World of Pokémon.

2) Entei EX won Canadian Nationals

Ok, I know Entei is a viable deck and the winner run some techs in the deck, but I still don’t get it. I’m waiting to see the explanation of the deck to understand how Entei managed to win Nationals. It’s a good deck and has a good match-up against Darkrai E, but other match-ups are pretty 50-50.

3) There were four different decks in the top4 of the U.S. Masters

This once again proves that the metagame is healthy, versatile and any deck can win when it faces the right decks. I think this situation was last time in the 2006-2007 season, but the sad fact is that in order to win you needed more skill in the 06-07 season than in the current metagame. Luck is still a huge factor in the games since the games are so quick.

4) The top4 lists of the U.S. Nationals were “new” builds of old decks

Klinklang ran Kyogre EX. Eelektrik ran 3 Max Potion. CMT ran only 4 supporters (3 Juniper and 1 N). This is something that I enjoy  a lot. It proves that playtesting is really worth it. All the topping decks included surprising and new cards and took the decks in to a whole new level. As a deck builder I was very excited to learn about that and it sparked the creativity for my Worlds deck as well!

5) Juniors were won by Hammertime in the Netherlands, Germany and the U.S! Not to mention it won Seniors in Portugal too!

This naturally makes me very happy. It means that my blog does matter and affects the metagame all over the world. Also, I’m very happy that Junior players have been succeeding with them. I know all of them have read my articles about the deck, so they have probably learnt something from them as well! For me it tells me that I’ve succeeded with my blog – I’ve been able to help people to learn about decks and how to play them. I hope, I’ll be able to continue that next season as well!




Conclusion

To conclude, I would like to say that I really enjoyed the last weekend of Nationals and all the surprises they brought. I think no one anticipated Klinklang to win or someone to play with only 4 supporters to the top4. However, this leaves it all open for the World Championships. There is no dominating deck and anyone and anything can do well. I’ll choose my Worlds’ deck probably already next weekend in the 7th annual “Miska-camp”. One thing is for sure – I’ll have tough time choosing, even though I’ve narrowed my choices down to 3 decks.

Anyways, as mentioned earlier, this will be my last entry of the HGSS-on format. I hope you enjoyed it! Also, my next entry will be something very special (at least for me). Can you guess what it is?


Thanks for reading and feel free to comment on anything and leave requests for my upcoming entries. Also, remember to vote on the poll, there is still time!

32 comments:

  1. Do you know if anyone played Sawk tech?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I really enjoyed this article, but there was 1 major mistake:

    In the U.S. Nationals Klinklang didn't need
    to Grind its way through (pun intended)

    Klinklang did have to grind its way through because the last game that he played he won with Gear Grind. (Game 3 of finals obv) :p

    Ok maybe not so major, but still.

    ReplyDelete
  3. just a side note here. after swiss curtis's decklist was off. it listed 3
    entei and 2 junk arms. but his deck contained 4 of ea. so 1 entei and 2 ja where replaced with basic energy and he still topped.

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  4. I ran Marowak/Zapdos/Eels/Victini/Smeargle and went 6-3. I will be posting it hopefully to SixPrizes.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I was the senior that won with Hammertime in Portugal :P

    ReplyDelete
  6. on another note, ty w. won US Seniors with Mewtwo/terrakion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm still more interested in what Klinklang is comprised of, I get the Energy swapping to use Max Potion, but EXs is kind of a vague term...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's 6 Corners but with Energy Preservation and free retreat. So 1-2 EXs to counter every deck in the meta: 2 Darkrai EX, Groudon EX, Terrakion, Cobalion, Kyurem (EX), etc. The winning list actually had Kyogre EX, though, which isn't a standard play

      Delete
  8. curtis' entei deck was unbelievable! i got to see him run it live in round 5 or 6 i forget.

    it ran sort of like a pick and choose sort of thing. use the entei to charge various techs depending on what he was playing against.

    i never heard of him before yesterday lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. hes not just a random player who came out of nowhere
      in 4 years of playing hes been to worlds 4 times, top 8ing in '10. hes top cut at every nats and top 4 twice, plus won this last one. hes also won half of canadas provincials

      Delete
    2. I'd recommend looking at the penalty records and other minutes of the tournament, too. As someone who used to play in Canada their tournaments are sketchier than anywhere else I've been in the developed world. Could be like 2010 when a "Three-Prize Penalty" decided the top cut matchups and basically put one player on the rails due to easy matchups.

      Delete
    3. Things called at the Canadian nationals this yr:
      1) No taking notes.
      2) N/judge misplays resulted in both players losing the match.

      Also wanna point out police and hotel security showed up for some reason. Heard there was 2 DQ's in the 4th or 5th round iirc.

      Delete
    4. None of that surprises me, Watusa, the cops have shown up either under cover or straight up for a few years now. They're as suspicious as the out of town players are about fishy dealings. In Canada there are no exemptions for rigging events, it is considered grand fraud to alter the results of these tournaments in any way and you get some hefty prison terms for it. If I recall correctly the previous national organizer is STILL in jail, after being charged with fraud for various things he did out in BC.

      I'm glad I don't live in Toronto. When it was the closest place for me to play, I saw a lot of questionable stuff at tournaments. I've had a lot of other former Canadian players tell me, and most people I know say Toronto is one of the worst places to play in the world.

      Too bad, as without it it's hard to find places to play in Canada. I'd love to move somewhere in Scandinavia - apparently the scene there is the best in the world. :)

      Delete
    5. Always welcome in Finland though, not technicalyl scandinavia, but northern europe. :p

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    6. are you kidding me?

      ive played in both the us and in canada and there is absoluetly no difference.

      yes there are facts here that are true:
      but
      1)they said no taking notes (everytime someone shows you there hand)
      2)yes when both players continue playing, both get the game loss
      3)and the cops did come...because they were curious as to what was going on in the event....

      grow up guys

      Delete
    7. Where in the US have you played, because I have heard of similar issues in a few places in the US, notably southern California. As someone who's played a decent percentage of the world, I'm not sure why you say there's no difference. There is definitely a difference, at least at the national level. Canadian Pokemon players obey too much, question too little, and don't even see how blatant things have gotten.

      I'm curious to see how the Goes Global article for Canada gets written, and notably who gets to talk. I know current, local players get the most pull, but I'd love to see what other traveling players think about Canada too. It's honestly the one thing about the country that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

      Delete
    8. No they said no taking notes period. Then later rectified it during the third round after a few players approached them pointing out that it says in the rules that players are allowed to take notes as long as it doesint slow down the game.

      Delete
  9. Is there anywhere u can find the entei list? It seems interesting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. http://pokegym.net/forums/showthread.php?p=2279114#post2279114

      Delete
  10. Rute finish in 4th plsce not 3rd , Filipe finish at 3 rd place in Portugal ntionals

    ReplyDelete
  11. Esa, if I'm not mistaken, the Klingklang deck that won in the U.S. ran Vileplume.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It did not.

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    2. LOL Just finished watching the Top Cut vids. Sorry about that.

      Delete
  12. esa can you please make articles on the US + CAN winning decks please?

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  13. Thanks everyone for the comments. If someone hasn't yet seen the U.S. winning deck in action be to check it out from the top cut! You can find the video here: http://thetopcut.net/2012/07/03/us-nationals-top-8-john-roberts-ii-vs-carl-scheu/


    Also, I rofl'd at "And Esa said it wasn't a good deck, lol. " haha.


    I won't proably be making an article about the winning decks of the U.S. Nationals because of the poll results and since you can find the lists from the videos of the top cut. If you want to learn how the decks are built and how they are played, be sure to check out all the videos thetopcut.net has from the U.S. Nationals!

    As for Canada's winning deck. I haven't seen the list or the deck in action, so all I can still say is that it seems weird, but I'm sure I'll see it in action in the Worlds this year. Can't wait for that!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. canada master - his report + videos + commentary are on gym report

      Delete
  14. Hi, is there anywhere the decklist of cmt with 4 supporters? Thx

    ReplyDelete
  15. Canadian masters finals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mNjYt92WGw&feature=plcp

    ReplyDelete
  16. will happily post my uk top 4 decklist for VvV if people want it

    Matt Blower

    ReplyDelete
  17. Riley, you say the exact same thing in everything that mentions Canada... "sketchy play", etc. You're the reason our scene was sketchy - now that you're gone, it's gotten a lot less sketchy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, not Riley. Met him once, thought he was paranoid until I went to Regionals and saw that Contrary Regigigas.

      One of the other anons or Watusa might be him, don't know.

      No, it's just sketchy.

      Delete

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