Another Regional Championship is in the books. As the first of the PRC–SM format, Anaheim set the tone for a host of events: Oceanic & Latin American Internationals and Salt Lake City & Roanoke Regionals will all use this Standard format. More Championship Points will be disbursed in this format than any other all year, and as such, it’s going to be one of immense importance.
Early returns? PRC–SM is not too much different from PRC–EVO. Outside of a bit of Professor Kukui, Lillie, Tauros-GX, and Espeon-GX usage, Sun & Moon failed to make an appreciable impact on the upper echelon of the metagame. Outside of Top 8, Solgaleo-GX and Lurantis-GX teamed up for a Top 16 finish, while Decidueye-GX/Vileplume AOR and a Lapras-GX concept each netted another, meaning the set wasn’t entirely shut out — but it did fail to make the widespread impact that some predicted. From my view on the ground, Anaheim featured a lot of old decks (some, albeit, with new twists) and only a mild sprinkling of entirely new archetypes.
This weekend saw the continuation of two trends. First, Vespiquen continued its run as a surprisingly elite contender in the Standard format — it has, rather quietly, been one of the most successful decks of the season. And, naturally, Dark once again proved the benefits of being Pokémon Card Laboratory’s favorite type with another Regional win. It was California; nobody should be surprised.
I feel like I’ve written this “autopsy” analysis of the past weekend’s Regionals a lot this year, so today I’m going to change it up a little bit. We’ll see what comes of that, but I hope to cover a lot of ground as we enter this important stage of the season.
Of course, today we finally got some anticipated news — the dates for the North American and World Championships. Pokémon players everywhere are going to descend on Indianapolis, IN from June 30–July 2, and Anaheim, CA from August 18–20 respectively. I’m thrilled for the return to Indy, as it features the wealth of hotel and food options that just weren’t to be had in Columbus. It’s due to be a great summer of events.
- Anaheim Regionals
- A Random Aside on Randomly Randomizing
- Standard Outlook: Melbourne and Beyond
- Expanded Horizons: St. Louis, Portland
- BLW–SM Launchpad
First off, though, I want to highlight Anaheim Regionals as an event itself in light of my article on tournament structure in December.
The Good: Anaheim was easily one of the better events of the season. In a season that has been plagued with malperformance and simply mind-boggling occurrences, it was refreshing to see a new idea (the elimination of the check-in process) somewhat succeed. There are real, potentially serious issues with a move like this one, but this weekend didn’t see any of them exposed. Moreover, round time averaged 76 minutes, which, while not being as snappy as one might eventually hope we can achieve, was the second best rate we’ve seen this season.
The Bad: If the venue had been more sufficient for the purposes of a functional tournament, it might have challenged Orlando’s crown for the best of the season. As it is, we’ll see if the Krekeler/Curry group can outdo themselves in Collinsville in just under two weeks (yes — I, too, cringed upon writing the words “under two weeks”). I hope that organizers are taking notice, and while I fear this season will probably feature another couple of tight fits (Portland’s 600-person TCG cap, for example), I’m cautiously optimistic about the future.
With that said, I want to get into a recap of my weekend in Anaheim. I’ll spare you the extended cut of the “how did we end up on this deck?” narrative, but as usual, it featured a mix of intuition and analytics. It became apparent pretty quickly after I wrote my piece after Athens in January that Sun & Moon probably didn’t have the chops to be a serious metagame shifter. Too many of the cards are just missing a key ingredient or two at the present moment (with that said, however, I believe the set will end up being a major force once we get further into the block) to beat out the likes of Vespiquen, Darkrai-EX, and Volcanion.
A Random Aside on Randomly Randomizing
A few months ago, each 6P article featured a bit of writing about the writer’s shuffling habits. This is a topic always debated with strangely-passionate feelings, and after my experiences this weekend I wanted to call attention to two things:
1. Pile Shuffling
Pile shuffling is still not a form of sufficient randomization, and in fact, Magic the Gathering has gone as far as to forbid more than a single pile shuffle at the table for the purpose of counting cards. It’s not an outright ban, but it is an acknowledgement from a key peer of Pokémon’s that pile shuffling isn’t all it appears. I’ve gradually begun to eliminate it from my routine — it’s made a bit difficult by the fact that Pokémon players are conditioned to regard it as the gold standard and look with suspicion on its non-performance, but it’s simply a waste of time.
Speaking of wasting time, declumping seems to have made a bizarre and deplorable comeback. Consider: the rules of the Pokémon TCG dictate that in order for a deck to be sufficiently randomized, no cards may become visible to their owner at any point in the shuffling process — if a player gains knowledge about the location of any card in his or her deck, the deck is no longer randomized, and randomization must begin again to destroy any preconceived order to the deck. It is flatly illegal to present an insufficiently randomized deck to your opponent at the beginning of a game.
Declumping only achieves one of two things: cheating or wasting time. If it is done with an intention to better one’s opening hand and without sufficient randomization to destroy its effects (which defeats the stated purpose of bettering a hand), it is do with intent to thwart randomization and is subsequently and indisputably an act of cheating. If it is done, but then the deck is sufficiently randomized, then its entire purpose was defeated by the randomization process — so, as a declumping player, you just wasted precious time in the match doing something that had no effect. This time wasting is, arguably, against the rules in its own right, but it’s against the intent of playing the game in any event.
Of these two outcomes, one is the highest offense in any competitive game, and the other is against the progression of a smooth tournament structure. I would love to see TPCi take action against this activity itself, with a ban on looking at one’s cards during the setup process (or something similar), but in the meantime, this is something that should become culturally unacceptable in this game. By declumping, you are telling your opponent that you either intend to gain illegitimate advantage or have zero respect for the time constraints that matches are played under. Don’t do it.
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