Since the release of Guardians Rising, many players have lauded the format as being one of the most creative or perhaps skill-based ones in a very long time, though I am initially skeptical of any such claim. All too often, a “good format” merely translates to “a format I personally did well in”. After analyzing all the results from the North American International Championship, however, I think it is safe to conclude that PRC-GRI was a wonderful format. I always find it very rewarding to see top players doing well in such a gauntlet of an event. The top 8 this year in Indianapolis was mostly comprised of legends of the game, several of them already in possession of Championship Points totaling over 1000! When the very best players continue to be just that, it is usually an indicator that skillful play and thoughtful deck decisions are being rewarded.
The name Tord Reklev may be foreign or unknown to some. Yet, I was not surprised to see him take it all once the top 8 brackets had been posted and everyone was able to clearly analyze each and every matchup that would be taking place. Unfortunately, I was not able to see every game, but I was reasonably confident that Drampa/Garbodor would be able to take the whole event. Tord’s list in particular was almost a platonic ideal of pure consistency. Maximum supporters, four of each tool, four Tapu Lele-GX and so forth. I would have been highly shocked if John Kettler had been able to steal a series on him but, of course, stranger things have happened.
I am not entirely sure why Drampa/Garbodor fell off my radar as a potential deck. I was paired against it in the fifth round of the tournament (notably someone using Sam Chen’s top 4 list) and as soon as the match began, I quickly became convinced that this deck had to have been the correct play for the event!
All too often, I think players (and probably myself to an even more egregious level) simply ignore decks after a strong, but early-on in the format finish. Despite its results in Seattle, there would be no way for it to replicate such success ever again! Or so I would tell myself. Such a line of thinking is of course incredibly fallacious, but often if such a mentality is continually reinforced, then it is easier to accept it as being the case. Instead of having bad matchups, I think that Drampa/Garbodor had an incredible amount of 50/50s. Though some matchups were probably skewed in one way or another over the 50/50, the best part of having so many even matchups is that the better player will win more often than not.
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