Hey everyone! We’re just days away from Worlds, and I’m really looking forward to the final event of this season. Worlds always excites me every year, even before I was playing in it myself.
Since Worlds is the only major sanctioned event in the PRC–BUS format, we don’t really have many results to tell us what the most successful decks are. Not only does this make it hard to figure out what to counter, but even what to play in general.
Thankfully, we at least have results from an ARG tournament in Philadelphia to tell us which decks are able to perform well in this format. I’ll still give a few general deck recommendations based on my own testing at the end as well.
However, instead of focusing on specific decks, I think it’ll be better for me to spend this article analyzing the habits of Junior and Senior players as they choose decks. This way, this article can help when choosing decks for day 2 and future tournaments as well.
For this article, I’ll be asking 2 questions to guide our thought process on choosing decks:
Did [age group] seem to counter the results of the last tournament in their age group?
Did [age group] follow the results of the last Masters tournament?
While these questions don’t tell us everything about how Juniors and Seniors choose their decks, they should at least give us a baseline to make choices against.
Did Juniors seem to counter the results of the last tournament in their age group?
This is a bit of a mixed bag. We have seen Juniors counter their own division this year, but only when the Juniors metagame was incredibly centralized around Dark decks. However, we usually see Juniors results varying wildly in terms of the players and the decks in top cut based on the region of the country we’re in. I don’t think Junior players are really focused on countering any decks and rely on their parents to help them make those decisions.
The other problem with determining whether or not Juniors are countering their own age division is that we haven’t really seen large trends to counter against. Dark was incredibly successful in the division for the first 6 months of the season and then it was finally countered, but since then, results have been all over the place. Overall, I would say that Juniors aren’t countering their own division from tournament to tournament.
Did Juniors follow the results of the last Masters tournament?
This one I would say is a pretty resounding yes overall. While they might end up being a tournament or two behind sometimes, Junior players are usually playing decks that have recently seen success in Masters. They picked up Yveltal after it did well in London, Turbo Dark after it did well in Athens, and Decidueye after it did well in every PRC–SUM tournament up to Virginia. Recently, the Juniors Top 8 from Internationals consisted of 3 copies of Espeon/Garbodor and 2 copies of Zoroark, the 2 most hyped and arguably most successful decks at that point in the format.
Interestingly, the rest of the Top 8 from the NAIC consisted of Greninja and Rainbow Road, two decks that have theoretically strong matchups against the other 2 deck archetypes in cut. I would guess that this isn’t a coincidence, as it was probably obvious to some Juniors and their parents that Espeon and Zoroark would be well represented.
In a day and age where tournament results and decklists are very readily available, I think the results from the Masters division are heavily impacting the Juniors division. While it might be a guessing game from this point to figure out whether you want to counter the top decks in Masters or counter the counters themselves, it’s important to keep an eye on the Masters division to get a read on what will be popular in Juniors.
Did Seniors seem to counter the results of the last tournament in their age group?
Here is where I think Seniors and Juniors really differ. While Seniors results also seem to vary a lot from region to region, I think more Seniors are viewing results from past tournaments on Youtube, Twitch, and Facebook. Throughout this year, we’ve seen Turbo Darkrai pop up as a counter to Yveltal early in the year and Rayquaza and Decidueye as counters to Turbo Darkrai as the metagame progressed.
The results from the year don’t really show that Seniors are heavily countering the results of recent tournaments, but I also don’t have more than just the Top 8 from any given tournament to draw conclusions from. So I wouldn’t necessarily expect Seniors to all be countering recently well performing decks, but there is definitely some amount of countering within the division.
Did Seniors follow the results of the last Masters tournament?
To some extent, we are seeing Seniors picking up the decks that were recently successful in Masters. But also, I see Seniors countering those decks just as much. I think we see some of the top Seniors just choosing to pick up the decks that are proven to do well in Masters and letting their skill carry them to strong placements instead of worrying about matchups when playing a counter deck. However, counter decks are also doing well.
Overall, I would say that I wouldn’t expect the Senior metagame to follow the progression of the Masters metagame. At different times, it’s similar to Juniors where it lags behind by a tournament or two. But at others, it almost feels like it’s a tournament ahead of Masters with heavy counters to the top decks or counters to the counters.
With that information, I hope you’ll have a better time choosing decks for Junior and Senior players. I didn’t really cite any of the sources where I’m drawing conclusions from inline but you can find results from Junior/Senior tournaments in my Junior/Senior articles on my author page or from the Regionals and Internationals hub that Pokémon has set up to track results from this year.
As far as a recommendation for a deck to play for Worlds, I would say Volcanion is a pretty safe pick. It deals well with a lot of the format, short of Water decks. I’ve found it hard to counter in my testing and should be an especially good Day 1 pick. Otherwise, I like decks like Gardevoir, Drampa, and Espeon that are consistent with good to decent matchups overall.
For more reading, check out the decklists from the Top 16 of the ARG Invitational to see what has been popular. I’ll also be discussing my thought process heading into Day 2 and the differences between Day 1 and Day 2 on Tuesday, so look forward to that.
Good luck at Worlds, see you all there!
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