A Breakdown of What Won Cities

One more stretch in the competitive season is over. It’s time to kick back, relax, and enjoy the… what? Regionals is WHEN!?

what lil jon

Yup, Regionals here in North America will pick up where Cities left off on January 19th (this coming Saturday). I’ve got a UG article coming up, but it won’t be released in time for me to have a comment on Cities analysis or Regionals, so I thought I’d write this up now.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

There are many ways to look at results such as those on my PokéGym thread. You could count total wins, total T4’s, the ratio of T4’s converted to wins etc… You could even scour the pages for information on matchups, trying to pick apart every discernable scenario when two decks of interest played, tallying up the winner to get a picture of if the matchup is really 50/50 or not.

If you’ve been reading my articles for a while now, you’ll probably know I’m a Bio Major (done my degree now, just waiting on the presentation), and as such I love stats. I’m crap at actually hand-calculating them, but I love thinking about stats and analyzing stats to try and paint the most accurate picture about what I’m trying to say.

ash ketchum caterpiepokemon.theirstar.com
Caterpie knows what’s up

One of my nervous twitches is when I see someone looking at results and taking away things from them that I wouldn’t take away (and would argue are false). Sometimes this is a result of the method they’ve chosen to analyze the results, and other times it’s an artefact of the way that the data is organized itself.

So today I’m going to look through the Cities results in a few ways to both try and show what I’m talking about, and figure out the actual trend in City Championship results.

There was a really good UG article on this sort of stuff by Andrew Wamboldt a while back, talking about “Power Rankings.”

Now… he looked at 4 tournaments. The PokéGym City Champs thread has 154 Masters results over many more weeks, so I don’t think I’m going to go to the effort of evaluating all the T4’s over every week. But I will look through and analyze the evolution of winning decks as Cities developed, a sort of Power Ranking if you will.

First, let’s just see the results.

Decks Arranged by Total 1st Place Finishes

Deck 1st 2nd 3rd/4th Total
/ 36 29 57 122
Landorus/Mewtwo 24 25 30 79
Darkrai/Hydreigon 13 14 44 71
RayEels 13 10 29 52
Ho-Oh 12 14 22 48
Hammertime 12 11 16 39
MewtwoEels 10 11 21 42
Darkrai/Stuff 9 11 18 38
Darkrai/Landorus 6 4 0 10
Klinklang 3 3 8 14
Sigilyph/Mewtwo 3 2 9 14
/Landorus 2 2 6 10
Empoleon/Accelgor 2 2 2 6
Mewtwo/Terrakion 2 0 4 6
Empoleon/Dusknoir 2 0 2 4

I’ve chosen to present them in descending order solely by 1st place finishes. In the event of a tie, it went to 2nd place, T4 etc… So what could we take away from this table?

blastoise hydro pumptumblr.com
1st Gen represent

First and most obvious, Blastoise/Keldeo seems like a pretty clear BDIF. Blastoise/Keldeo has distinguished itself from the pack in almost all categories. Many more 1st’s than any other deck, and many more total T4’s than any other deck.

The next most winning deck would be Landorus/Mewtwo sitting pretty with the next most wins and the next most T4’s. And rounding out the top 3 we have Darkrai/Hydreigon slightly ahead of the rest of the pack in wins, but far ahead in total T4’s.

So the play for Regionals is clearly to counter the BDIF Blastoise, while keeping good matchups with the next most winning decks, right? There’s no trick I can apply here to say “Well this deck may have WON the most, but the deck that T4’d the most was _____.” Blastoise/Keldeo, Landorus/Mewtwo, and Darkrai/Hydreigon all managed to distinguish themselves from the pack in both categories.

But we must remind ourselves that the way in which we gathered this data is by total values. This method of analysis is only truly valid if we assume an equal distribution of play amongst each of these decks.

And I think we can all agree that a deck like Klinklang didn’t see as much play as Darkrai/Hydreigon.

If both decks were as proficient as each other, then we might expect the same T4’s converted to wins ratio, despite a difference in total values. Let me throw another table in your face.

Decks Arranged by Top 4 Win Percentage

Deck 1st T4 T4 Win %
Darkrai/Landorus 6 10 60.0%
Empoleon/Dusknoir 2 4 50.0%
Empoleon/Accelgor 2 6 33.3%
Mewtwo/Terrakion 2 6 33.3%
Hammertime 12 39 30.8%
Landorus/Mewtwo 24 79 30.4%
Blastoise/Keldeo 36 122 29.5%
RayEels 13 52 25.0%
Ho-Oh 12 48 25.0%
MewtwoEels 10 42 23.8%
Darkrai/Stuff 9 38 23.7%
Klinklang 3 14 21.4%
Sigilyph/Mewtwo 3 14 21.4%
Garbodor/Landorus 2 10 20.0%
Darkrai/Hydreigon 13 71 18.3%

This table has organized the same decks by their percentage of T4’s converted to wins. Obviously you take the percentages here with a grain of salt, since I’m not trying to argue that Mewtwo/Terrakion is better than the most winning decks. But once you get past the background noise of decks with low totals, you can see an interesting pattern emerge.

mc hammer platinum
I bet Pokémon has given MC Hammer more attention than anything in the last year

For one thing, a deck that completely slipped past the radar in the first analysis (even if I had analyzed top 4 or top 5) is Hammertime. Of the decks with an appreciable amount of Top 4’s, Hammertime claims the best win percentage, just barely eclipsing Landorus/Mewtwo and Blastoise/Keldeo.

The other thing we see here is that Landorus/Mewtwo and Blastoise/Keldeo both come in right near the top again, suggesting that we shouldn’t attribute their totals success to simply being overplayed.

After that we see a gradual degradation of win percentages with every deck being relatively successful. What’s surprising is how our 3rd place total T4’s deck, Darkrai/Hydreigon, comes in dead last amongst these decks in terms of total T4’s converted to wins.

And another deck I’ve somewhat ignored is Darkrai/Landorus, which has the best T4’s-Wins ratio of any deck with a powerful 60%, and a worth-considering 10 total T4’s. The kind of information we can take from a table like this is that Darkrai/Hydreigon is seeing a lot of play, and is a good deck, but doesn’t seem to have the stuff to make it deep in top cut.

And what’s more is that a deck like Darkrai/Landorus clearly isn’t a bad deck, and might be underplayed right now. Though I wouldn’t expect its win % to remain at 60% with increased play, I would nonetheless expect it to be one of the best decks in the rankings.

The reason it’s easy to underestimate Darkrai/Landorus is because the Darkrai playerbase is divided. When there are 3 categories all describing approximately the same deck (Hammertime, Darkrai/Stuff, Darkrai/Landorus), it’s easy to underestimate the archetype as a whole.

These are all “Big Basic” Darkrai decks that can be built off a very complete 40+ card common skeleton. The establishment of separate archetypes is somewhat defined by a dissimilarity in the general skeleton, but for some reason we look at Darkrai/Big Basics as separate decks, as if they played differently and had different strategies.

psyduck-wizards-black-star-promos-20pokemon-paradijs.com
Psyduck understands

Imagine how ridiculous this would have been in past formats if we had tallied ZekEels by the choice of tech attackers. If we took 35 wins for ZekEels and subdivided it into “Pure ZekEels,” “ZekEels/Thundurus” and “ZekEels/Tornadus.” We’d end up with tables like the ones above, where ZekEels wouldn’t appear at the top of the chart.

What’s more, some variants would be much farther down, out of sight and out of mind. This is what has happened with Darkrai/Landorus.

People look at Darkrai/Landorus and view it as a completely different deck due to the fact that it is successful enough to have earned its own category in the 1st place listings. How messed is that? What’s more, many Hammertime or Darkrai/Stuff lists featured Landorus, but were grouped into their respective categories. The way in which the data has been presented encourages people to ignore Darkrai/Big Basics due to the fact that each category alone does not have an impressive amount of wins.

But treating these decks as one unit can paint a much better picture of their success. Allow me to demonstrate.

Condensed Decks Arranged by total T4’s

Deck 1st 2nd T4 Total T4 Win %
Blastoise/Keldeo 36 29 57 122 29.5%
Darkrai/Stuff 27 32 44 103 26.2%
Eels 23 21 50 94 24.5%
Landorus/Mewtwo 24 25 30 79 30.4%
Darkrai/Hydreigon 13 14 44 71 18.3%
Ho-Oh 12 14 22 48 25.0%
Empoleon/Friends 5 4 7 16 31.3%
Klinklang 3 3 8 14 21.4%
Sigilyph/Mewtwo 3 2 9 14 21.4%
Garbodor 3 2 6 11 27.3%

As the number of wins is pretty similar amongst many decks, I’ve arrange this table by total T4’s (as it mirrors total wins fairly well, but shows what decks did best better). I’ve also united Hammertime, Darkrai/Landorus and Darkrai/Stuff into one category.

DarkraiEXDarkExplorers63
And you thought I was washed up

Moreover, there were results in the 2nd place finishes and 3rd and 4th place finishes for Darkrai/Mewtwo as its own category, as it picked up a lot of placings on its own.

In organizing my thread, I did this because people want to look at the thread and see interesting techs and unique decisions. But in painting a bigger picture, this is a far more appropriate representation.

As a point of comparison, I’ve also united RayEels and MewtwoEels as “Eels,” which picked up 3 more T4’s from the “Eelbox” category. And credit where credit is due, Garbodor DRX/Probopass DRX won a Cities, and I’ve united Garbodor as a category. Garbodor/Probopass is also probably one of my favourite rogue concepts to come out of these Cities, so major props to the person who came up with it.

Lastly, I united Empoleon/Friends as a category, despite varying strategies. The strengths of the deck are built on the same backbone (just the same as Eels). Though I wouldn’t necessarily argue that these should be united as decks (nor that RayEels and MewtwoEels are essentially the same), I’ve done this table up as a point of comparison.

It’s an alternate way to view the data organized solely by the backbones of the decks (which keeps Darkrai/Hydreigon separate from Darkrai/Stuff).

And just look at the difference in conclusions we draw from it! Blastoise/Keldeo remains #1, but Darkrai/Big Basics is clearly a dominant force to be reckoned with. This is why the UG has spent so much time looking at Darkrai, despite seemingly average showings.

And as we saw in the previous table, Hammertime has the best win % of the Darkrai/Stuff decks, which helps explain why the UG writers are enamoured with Hammertime when they talk about general Darkrai/Stuff. And of course, Eels as a whole has done incredibly well, sitting right near the top with the big boys.

If I were to look at a metagame and choose my deck based on the most successful decks throughout Cities, I would look to this table. Though I admit that it may be fallacious to unite Eels as one category (as the skeletons really aren’t that similar), the strategy for beating both decks is nonetheless very similar. If you take out the Eels and have a good answer for Mewtwo, you’ll be in a good position.

glasses book student animefilb.de
I like bunkum

What’s more is that both variants lose a significant portion of their games to Landorus or Mewtwo + DCE donk. There is no other archetype up there that has to worry about such an easy chance to be donked in this metagame.

So, is this the way we should be looking at Cities results in picking our decks for Regionals? Well, thanks for sticking with me through this whole analysis, because everything I’ve said up ’til now is somewhat bunkum.

Though all the aforementioned results and tabulations are accurate, and the conclusions are logical, the data itself is not an accurate representation of the strongest play for Regionals. This data ignores trends in the metagame that developed as the weeks went by.

The best way for me to demonstrate this is to show exactly when these decks picked up their successes. I’m not about to look at overall T4’s throughout the weeks of Cities, but I will look at when decks picked up their wins.

This is the pseudo-Power Ranking I alluded to at the beginning.

Decks Arranged by Total 1st Place Finishes

Deck Weeks 1-2 Weeks 3-4 Weeks 5-6 Weeks 7-8 Total
Blastoise/Keldeo 6 8 4 19 37
Darkrai/Stuff 10 8 6 4 28
Landorus/Mewtwo 8 7 1 10 26
Eels 7 6 3 8 24
Darkrai/Hydreigon 3 4 3 4 14
Ho-Oh 4 2 3 4 13
Empoleon/Friends 1 2 2 0 5
Klinklang 0 0 1 3 4
Garbodor 1 0 0 2 3
Sigilyph/Mewtwo 0 0 2 0 2

Now, there are a couple things that are going to strike you as odd so I’ll address them immediately.

professor oak card art base set
Data entry is one of the most time-consuming processes of analysis

First, the total wins listed in this table don’t match the total wins of the previous tables. Why? Because there are 214 total posts to skim through, and the data isn’t well labeled to avoid confusion. I’ve probably included a few Seniors results in here that I might not have for the previous tables.

And perhaps in the previous table I included Seniors results that I avoided in this table. Perhaps a tournament was reported twice and I didn’t pick up on it. The list goes on, but overall it doesn’t change the point of what I’m trying to illustrate.

It’s pretty obvious what deck archetype(s) progressed as the metagame matured. Let’s start with the decks that picked up speed.

The most obvious is Blastoise/Keldeo. Blastoise/Keldeo is a sleeper BDIF. It was thrown into a format full of established archetypes (even Landorus-EX/Mewtwo EX had Bouffalant DRX/Mewtwo EX/Terrakion NVI as a predecessor) and told to catch up.

Once marathons hit in the last couple weeks of Cities, Blastoise/Keldeo had finally been refined to an optimal state. And the results speak for themselves. Everyone fumbling through the dark with the deck in the first few weeks laid the path for that success.

Another deck that might fly under the radar a bit is Klinklang. Before US Nats, Chandelure NVI/Accelgor DEX/Vileplume UD managed to pick up a win or two in only the final week of Battle Roads. And at Nationals and Worlds it demonstrated itself as a potential BDIF (although the time problem was apparent).

I would watch out for Klinklang in the same way. This is a deck that people with deckbuilding skill have only picked up recently. I’m willing to bet a faction of strong Klinklang players are going to show up at Regionals with a vengeance, and I predict a Klinklang or two to go deep into cuts.

garbodor by plaidcushionplaidcushion.deviantart.com
Getting ready to trash the competition

Another similar sleeper would be Garbodor. Now, Klinklang was already a bit of an extrapolation, but Garbodor most certainly is. It’s not like it appeared out of nowhere, but I do think that Garbodor might make a stronger play at Regionals than it has been throughout Cities.

The metagame has had time to develop, and the coverage options that Garbodor needs are better established. Another fringe deck to watch for.

Lastly, Landorus/Mewtwo came back strong in the last couple weeks. After dominating in the early weeks, the deck fall off the map. What’s more interesting is that this isn’t even the timeframe where Blastoise/Keldeo rose up. Weeks 5-6 had the fewest results of all, but nonetheless it’s interesting to see such a decline in success.

Of course, it bounced back alongside the resurgance of Blastoise/Keldeo. And perhaps you could argue that Blastoise/Keldeo saw such great success because Landorus/Mewtwo became so prevalent.

Something that isn’t obvious in this data is the prevalence of Eels throughout Cities. In the first weeks RayEels contributed most of the wins. In the second weeks, it was more MewtwoEels. And in the final weeks, it was again more RayEels than MewtwoEels. If there’s a deck that needs its Eels, it’s RayEels. And if there’s a deck that kills Eels better than any other, it’s Landorus/Mewtwo.

RayEels saw a real resurgence in the last couple weeks, but those efforts could not be converted to wins. Landorus/Mewtwo squashes the deck so hard (this is what I gather from results, which I think speak stronger than individuals’ playtesting) that despite a large increase in play*, the deck couldn’t jump ahead. Even if it’s argued to have a good Blastoise/Keldeo matchup (which was everywhere).

*unsourced personal observation

Decks on the Decline

ash ketchum caterpie sadpokemon.theirstar.com
Darkrai, declining like Caterpie’s vitality

And what about the decks that declined? There’s one deck I see in that table that was hit hard by the maturing metagame. Darkrai/Stuff decks win totals declined as the weeks went by. This isn’t a picture-perfect way of looking at it, because Darkrai was actually the most winning deck of weeks 5-6.

But nonetheless, Darkrai/Stuff started out as one of the strongest deck choices at the beginning, and as the metagame developed other decks stole its thunder.

Does this mean it makes a bad deck for Regionals? Not at all! Darkrai was highly successful throughout Cities for a reason. It’s consistent, fast, and when teched properly, is difficult to counter.

But in terms of overall power, the deck has lost its place amongst the kings of the format. In BLW-DRX RayEels was the more “powerful” deck, capable of dealing out 1HKO’s as it needed. And now we have Blastoise/Keldeo, also capable of dishing out 1HKO’s when it needs to.

This leaves Darkrai/Stuff sitting on the outside, resigned to 2HKO’s in a 1HKO format. It’s not hard to see why the general archetype has faded. The answer that the deck needs is a way to restore its 1HKOs (which is definitely possible).

Don’t let me discourage you from Darkrai/Stuff, but be conscious of the gap in power between it and other decks, and tech to compensate this gap.

The Play for Regionals

pokemon04_03 ash ketchum warning finger wagpokemon.theirstar.com
My eyes give me insight!

So what’s the play for Regionals? I’m not going to say. I think that really depends on your playstyle, and what you deem to be problematic in testing.

What I wanted to do with this article was to show how you can analyze results best. And what I hope I’ve done is given you a good way to look at the results we have, and come up with your own conclusions.

No matter how you look at it, Blastoise/Keldeo is the frontrunner for BDIF. But it is not the dominant BDIF that the first tables suggest. Darkrai/Stuff, Landorus/Mewtwo and Eels are nipping at its heels in total wins, and total T4’s.

Considering how many players are going to look at these results and see Blastoise sitting pretty, there is going to be as much Blastoise hate as possible. So your play for Regionals should really encompass the decks that players will be drawn to as their answer to Blastoise/Keldeo.

And at the same time, be conscious of those targeting the metagame as a whole. I can really see three-four best deck choices in that list that all could do very well this format. So we’ll just have to wait for Regionals to find out what decks exceed or fall short of expectations.

Cheers

Crawdaunt Out

P.S. Check out my blog at: http://tcgwithhats.blogspot.ca/

Reader Interactions

19 replies

  1. Dustin Hardy

    Great article, one of the misleading stats is the T4 win%. Often, especially with the sheer number of top 4 finishes, Blastoise/Keldeo lost to another Blastoise/Keldeo deck in the top cuts. In other words, Blastoise/Keldeo is possibly much better than the stats indicate against other decks. Check the forums for the cities reports and look at how many times three of the top four decks were T4 in weeks 7 and 8. The late surge could also be attributed to the fact that people had a hard time getting 2-3 Keldeo EX (approximately $35-$40 each) and an even harder time getting 2 Tropical Beach (Approximately $100 if you can even find someone selling one) early in the season.

    • Mark Hanson  → Dustin

      Very true. But you can’t really determine all the T4 matchups, so for all we know many decks could have had to mirror many times. Not just Blastoise. So it’s better to assume that mirrors are proportional to success rate, and if a deck like Blastoise is more successful, then it will qualify for T4 more often than less successful decks, which will yield more T4 results. You can interpolate some sort of effect caused by having to mirror (and where that might put a deck based on a ranking scheme you devise), definitely.

    • Patrick Roberts  → Dustin

      The mirror match can’t be used to determine how good Blastoise/Keldeo is. This is because whenever the deck faces itself, we add a win, and subtract a win, making no change in the stats. We can look at mirror matches to compare decklists, but the only thing that can be seen by recording a specific kind of deck’s wins, is how well it does against other decks. This would imply (assuming that the number of Blastoise/Keldeo decks had no effect on the outcome), that the stats for Blastoise/Keldeo would indicate exactly how well it would do against other decks (again, assuming the number of them has no effect). And, as I stated in my above comment, it is very possible that the sheer number of the Blastoise/Keldeo decks affected its number of wins. (refer to upper comment)

  2. Joseph Lee

    This was a well done article I enjoyed quite thoroughly, and I am glad you stressed how people looking at the same raw data can process it differently to come to different, even contradictory results.

    It of course comes as no surprise that I don’t agree with your article 100%, and there isn’t much of a point in restating all the points I do agree with instead of highlighting the few I don’t… so I’ll begin.

    I do feel it good to emphasize how truly, truly incomplete the results data is. You don’t just need what won in the Top 4, you need to know every deck that was played, who played it, a literal play-by-play of the match, and whatever personal information you can get about the players (true skill matters, but so does relative skill like going to a tournament on little sleep).

    That may seem ridiculous to spell out for people, but without that as your starting point it is too easy to come to false conclusions based on what data is available. Take the deck you cited as BDIF (something I disagree with, but I don’t bestow the term easily); Blastoise/Keldeo EX is a deck that is quite difficult to stop once it gets going, but which has a complicated set-up.

    In a format full of simple, efficient decks it seems to be almost a matter of luck: one can run the best build and play it flawlessly, but you’re waiting for it to “misfire”… and it is perhaps the deck least able to quickly recover from such difficulties. In a lengthy tournament, I don’t like relying on such strategies.

    • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

      Though true, in any analysis there is a compromise you have to make. The assumptions going into the collection of the data were as follows:

      1. Any results we don’t receive are proportionally similar to the results we do receive.
      2. Player skill in the T4 is relatively equal, and thus the decks are the greatest contributors to the variance.

      3. Luck is equally distributed amongst decks. This is something we can be more confident in thanks to a large sample size.

      4. If a deck is seeing less play than another deck, that reflects the quality of the deck. If players enjoyed playing the deck, and it was highly succesful, things like money or availability of cards do not inhibit their ability to play their ideal deck.

      And with regards to naming Blastoise/Keldeo BDIF. Simply put, it has the most wins, it has the most T4’s, I would define that as the “Best Deck in Format.” Best play for Regionals? Not necessarily. But it is contradictory to argue that any deck that saw less success is better in the format.

      Not only that, my term was “Sleeper BDIF.” A BDIF that remained dormant until it was finally developed and information was available for people to build competent builds of their own.

      • Joseph Lee  → Mark

        Thank you for listing your assumptions. Again, I wasn’t suggesting you needed all that data that was impossible to obtain, but that acknowledging it (and thus the compromises being made) were necessary (or at least useful) for gaining a clear picture.

        I understand assumptions 1-4 are more or less a necessity, but the reality is they are all violated by the actual events. Once you have come to your conclusions based on the data you do have, it needs to be examined in the light of assumptions not being universally true.

        I don’t get why a well known deck predicted to do at least “well” qualifies as a “Sleeper” BDIF. I seldom label a deck BDIF, and am even more hesitant to do so until after that fact (that is, after the format or that “period” of the format). Still, considering what you meant by it, realize the impact:

        Blastoise/Keldeo EX was the new flavor. In Pokémon, there is significant advantage playing something your opponent’s have less experience dealing with. There is also the thrill of novelty. It seems likely that many of the deck’s wins are due to its popularity; the more a deck is played, the greater the odds of it winning. With a truly abysmal deck this is negligible. With hyped up deck featuring the newest cards?

        A deck’s risk of misfiring weighs heavily on me when I consider things like “Best Deck In Format”. If we do not consider this, then Blastoise/Keldeo EX is most likely the BDIF.

        • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

          The thing that suggests to me that this isn’t the case is that it’s success skyrocketed in the last weeks of Cities. Blastoise/Keldeo had a month and a half of level play amongst the top tier decks.

          It only finished stronger after strong lists were made available from those who refined the deck in the first weeks. If your conclusion is true, then you’d need to propose a mechanism for why Blastoise/Keldeo (a deck that had the hype qualities you propose) only caught on at the end of Cities.

          This conclusion should incorporate why, despite similar levels of hype at the beginning of the set, people only clambered onto the deck at the end of Cities. My assumption #4 is why I conclude it to be the sleeper BDIF, particularly under my definition of BDIF. The connotation doesn’t need to imply it is vastly superior to other decks, just that it is the current highest ranking deck.

          I’d add that the late onset of the hype indicates to me that the deck became popular for a reason not apparent at the beginning of Cities. So you can’t really attribute it to the whole “new cards” mentality.

          And the “misfire” possibility that you keep mentioning concerns your definition of the best play for Regionals, not what is the BDIF. The possibility for a deck to misfire has nothing to do with it’s final rankings. And as I’ve said, the best play for Regionals is not necessarily the BDIF.

        • Joseph Lee  → Mark

          Why would a deck using new cards not become popular until the end of Cities unless it was the Best Deck In Format?

          Players were burned (pardon the pun) by over hyped Water decks that under-delivered, and the similar-but-different strategy of Emboar decks. That was reason enough to be cautious and not be an early adopter (but not enough to claim the deck wasn’t going to do well).

          Otherwise, I would assume that it just took time for players to assemble the decks; I guess I don’t understand the mystery. Likewise, this distinction you have made with regard to “misfire” possibilities: when you say BDIF, what do you mean it for if not tournament play?

        • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

          Well, that’s valid. I don’t agree. I don’t think that people shied away from Blastoise/Keldeo. But a valid concept.

          I think it would be even more amazing that these people ducked their heads in the sand for a month and a half before en masse flocking to the deck. To me, the timing of its success, combined with the factor of a new archetype suggest more that it was waiting to be developed to its optimal state, rather than people just shying away from it.

          After all, at the start of Cities, Tropical Beach wasn’t on anyone’s minds, and it took at least a couple weeks for people to really start accepting it as a staple rather than a choice. And a rarer card like that is hard to grab. So it’s not improbable that considering it was only really a staple halfway through the series, that it would take another week or two for people to get their copies afterward and then put them into action.

          So I agree with the second premise, but only because it took a while to find out what decks they wanted to assemble.

          And regarding best deck in format, how else would you objectively define it? The point of a tournament is to determine who is the best player. That’s how our perceived “best players” like Ross or Jason got to be known as such. So if I played in a tournament with Ross and Jason K. and managed to win, though I may not be the best player in the room, I nonetheless won the tournament. You can ignore those results and say I’m not the best player, but if that’s the case why pay attention to tournaments at all?

          So I look at tournaments. And Blastoise/Keldeo won the most and T4’d the most. So sure, it’s the BDIF. But just as I may not be the best player in the room, it may not be the best play for Regionals.

        • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

          Just a note. I’d add that first you were saying players would flock to the deck due to the new flavour. And then said they would have shied away from it due to previous decks with similar strategies not performing very well. So your two points actually conflict. Can’t have both :|

        • Joseph Lee  → Mark

          You know when you make such an accusation, you need to be certain you are correct and then actually demonstrate it. You did neither, and I am about to show you why your accusation is false and indicative and a failure in your reasoning.

          First, I have proposed multiple counterpoints to your one theory; because burden of proof lies with you, I do not need every counterpoint to hold true simultaneously. If you state “This is the only plausible scenario!” and I can give you multiple other plausible scenarios, there is no conflict if the scenarios I give are mutually exclusive; I have still demonstrated your claimed “only
          plausible scenario” isn’t the only possible explanation.

          Second, let us re-examine what I have proposed:

          1) That at least some players would be hesitant to run Blastoise/Keldeo EX because of its similarity to decks from older formats that either never became successful (Feraligatr w/Rain Dance) or no longer perform well now (Emboar w/Inferno Fandango).

          2) That at least some players would need time to assemble the cards for the deck.

          3) That at least some players will be running Blastoise/Keldeo EX simply because the Pokémon it relies upon most (Blastoise and Keldeo EX) are both brand new this set, the Type they represent hasn’t been dominant, and the deck uses a Stage 2 Pokémon, which amongst the current, dominant decks is rare. Not non-existent, but rare.

          None of these points are mutually exclusive; a competitive player likely to make the top cut may have been hesitant to run Blastoise/Keldeo EX until it was sufficiently proven by early City results as at least viable while also needing time to assemble the deck but also desiring to run it because it was “new”.

          That is before being more reasonable and just looking at how a single one of those factors could lead to many players being
          unable or unwilling to run Blastoise/Keldeo EX until the final weeks of Cities.

          Your claim is that because Blastoise/Keldeo EX has been
          played with increasing frequency and increasing wins over the course of Cities, it MUST be the best deck in the format. While it very well could be BDIF, you have not adequately proven your claim. Notice I proposed these points as possible reasons… possible, not what simply MUST be.

        • Mark Hanson  → Joseph

          Haha, woah! Slow down champ.

          I just thought you were grasping at straws. I didn’t realize you were just proposing as many alternate scenarios as possible. don’t think I’ve ever said that my way was the only way. I’ve just continued to say ” the evidence suggests to me that…”

          I.e. I feel it is the best explanation. Not the only explanation.

          And your persistence on the BDIF thing is getting a little silly. We’re arguing semantics and I’ve defined what I am calling BDIF, and my appraisal is consistent with my definition. You can have your own opinion on what the word BDIF means.

        • Joseph Lee  → Mark

          It takes two people to have a discussion, friend. ;)

          I thought were were “done” until the “Just a note” comment, which as you have realized, mistaken or not about the exclusivity of your stance, made a claim that my arguments were flawed and/or dishonest, which I responded somewhat vehemently.

          I have otherwise made my case; if you disagree you disagree. If you feel there is nothing more that can be said to change my mind or clarify, then you can rest easy.

  3. Chase Havoc

    I personally beleave that blastoise/keldeo is way too over hyped! From the citys I went to about 60% of the decks were blastoise keldeo so I would expect it to have a good showing. The point im tring to make is that if everyone goes to a tournament with blastoise/keldeo then obviously its gonna win the tournament, not because its the BDIF but because everyone is playing the same deck!

    • Mark Hanson  → Chase

      Definitely true! But as I mentioned to Otaku, one of my essential assumptions in approaching the data objectively is:

      “4. If a deck is seeing less play than another deck, that reflects the quality of the deck. If players enjoyed playing the deck, and it was highly succesful, things like money or availability of cards do not inhibit their ability to play their ideal deck.”

      And by extension if a deck is seeing more play, it reflects the quality. Otherwise there is a fallacious and fine line between arguing what decks are good and underplayed, and which decks are not good and overplayed. For instance, I could argue that Empoleon/Accelgor is a potential BDIF and severely underplayed. And there’s nothing you could say that would discredit what I was saying. And in the same way, you can say “Blastoise is not the BDIF and is just way overplayed.”

      But the point of data analysis is to get past personal bias and look at data objectively. And so in analyzing the data appropriately, I must conclude that Blastoise/Keldeo is the frontrunner for BDIF, because it has the most wins and most T4’s. And any greater percentage of play it is receiving is a consequence of how players have arrived at the conclusion that it is the best choice for the tournament (i.e. their opinion of the best deck for that tournament. And generally, by extension, the format).

  4. Patrick Roberts

    One point I would like to make is that decks like Blastoise/Keldeo can be either very deadly, or very beatable depending on how the game starts. Since the deck can dish out consistent and formidable damage only when Blastoise is in play, and the right resources are in hand, then the deck depends on having multiple powerful resources (Keldeo’s/Mewtwoes can be KOed, and need replacement). Decks like these win when they set up, and can lose very badly if they don’t. What I’m getting at is that it may be that Blastoise/Keldeo wins so much simply because there are a lot of people playing it, and it is probable that at least a few of them can set up and win each round they play. This could mean that it is not the necessarily the BDIF, but is still very formidable and needs to be prepared for. If there were the same number of decks per category (one of each, two of each…), then it would be interesting to see how the statistics change…

    • Mark Hanson  → Patrick

      Indeed! I would bring your attention the rebuttals I have posted here in the comments to similar comments being posted.

  5. Ray Bryan

    Pokemon to some degree is a game of luck..u can have every good card in there to auto pilot the deck..have four counts of skyla. Any deck is bound to have a bad day..Second point..sure the chances of the most played deck wining is high..but a rouge ,surpise deck that was secret, that went under the radar can win..just look at worlds..Eels was,the most played there..and here come the guy from Italy.(Sry can’t remember his name who won masters with mewtwo/Darkrai/terra. ) either the deck gets really Luckly or had a stratgey to beat very deck..which Is rare.no matter what match ups he had..decks will keep on changing. And evolving.

    • Ross Gilbert  → Ray

      Do you mean Portugal? Thes a lot of countries in Europe, they’re all quite different!

      P.s. eels was not the most played masters deck at worlds. It was darkrai

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