Well, just when I thought I was going to have some sizable gaps between articles, things find a way to change. I was supposed to be on what was basically a month’s hiatus before London went pretty well, and as I’m back next week, I’ll basically be here for your reading thrice in as many weeks. With that in mind, I’m going to probably cover most of my Memphis thoughts this week before I’m out of touch with Standard.
Unlike the record-breaking sum of players that looks destined to descend on Memphis in a few weeks, and seemingly everyone that I know in the game, I will not be in Memphis for Regionals. My finals schedule is, unfortunately, prohibitive, so I won’t be able to participate in the event. There’s a fledgling chance I make my way to Tennessee and am present for coverage and other purposes, but I’m regrettably going to finish the calendar year sitting out two Regionals in a row.
Speaking of that second missed Regional, I unfortunately wasn’t able to be in San Jose this weekend. The flight prices were simply prohibitive, and while it’d have been great to be there—especially given the Top 4 hunt I was in for Australia stipends—it was good to see Azul take down his 4th Regional. Unlike his last two, he didn’t sit across from a Schemanske in finals. I’m unsure if I should take that as a good or bad thing.
And, furthermore “speaking of,” today is the cutoff for the Oceania International Championships’ stipend hunt. The Top 16 in Region now have $1,000 USD toward their trip, and Top 4 has a “paid trip.” I was fortunate enough to be in the Top 4 hunt until the final hours of last weekend, but my failure at Sunday’s League Cup put my hopes to bed. I suppose I can rest a bit easier, though, knowing that Azul’s success eliminated me anyway. Maybe my birthday gift from Pokémon will be a botched San Jose upload? Either way, my brother and I both locked up Top 16 berths heading into the event, so I believe we’ll be headed that way in February.
But, before that, Memphis and Dallas are in our sights. My testing henceforth will probably be mostly for Dallas unless my friends (or family) need me for Memphis prep, so today’s probably the last time I’m going to talk seriously about Memphis. Next week, I’ll cover some unrelated, general topics and any breaking developments that’ve come up between now and then.
Gardevoir – The State of the Field
I’m pretty sure that your desire to read about Gardevoir is roughly the same as mine is to write about it (or mine to find more pictures of it for articles). In honor of that plight, I’ll keep it quick today: I firmly believe Gardevoir is the best deck in the format. Nearly nothing that’s readily playable in the format consistently beats it, and I find its mirror match usually somewhat enjoyable. Games where one player manages to do absolutely nothing are relatively rare, making it usually a decent affair.
Golisopod doesn’t consistently beat it when the players are evenly matched and the lists are in their current standard form (that is, “broken deck” and something like Tord’s). Some players over the past weekend of Cups added Zoroark BKT as a “magic fix” for the matchup. I have some stunningly groundbreaking matchup advice for you, in that spirit: simply don’t bench a 5th Pokémon.
Can Golisopod pull out individual games? Sure. Contrary to the standing community belief, I don’t believe these games have anything to do with “speed,” but instead are those where the Golisopod player is able to N, have prevented Octillery from reaching the board, and the Gardevoir player draws poorly through the midgame. The problem with this strategy is that it’s relatively imprecise, as your opponent drawing fortunately once or twice is enough to destroy it. If you’re a Gardevoir player looking to shore that up, I played -Parallel City +Remoraid Saturday and thought it was decent. I added Parallel back for mirror on Sunday, but a thicker Octillery line can’t hurt chances anywhere.
Otherwise, other than the decks we’ll talk about today, nothing consistently beats Gardevoir (and even they don’t exactly do so, in my mind). The deck has the consistency and raw damage output to beat anything. Furthermore, the list can be tailored for any metagame—even things like Metagross and Greninja can be outfoxed with heavy Sylveon emphasis, for example. For something like Regionals, I still lean toward the Sylveon-free variant that did well in London, but for Cups, I can see messing with the balance a lot more.
Metagross’ Merit – The Supercomputer in TN
For better or worse, I think I’ve landed somewhat of a personal association with Metagross-GX as the first to play it to significant success. I’m on record as being pretty vehemently opposed to continued play of the concept, and that it’s somewhat too clunky to be reliably competitive. But, the metagame has entered an interesting place: Garbodor is chilling in binders everywhere, Gardevoir is running the show, and Golisopod only does like 120 damage.
Something I’ve really liked about playing Gardevoir recently is that I feel I’m “in” almost every game until it’s actually over. The high HP, high damage lends to such an effect.
In fact, all of the decks I’ve had recent notable success with (Primal Groudon-EX, Metagross-GX, and Gardy) utilized somewhat of a similar idea. With maybe the exception of the Volcanion matchup with Metagross, there wasn’t a game I sat down to thinking I was going to lose on the matchup alone. It’s not a coincidence that all of those decks used (abused?) Max Potion; key to being “in” every game is the ability to remove the effects of some of your opponent’s turns if things start slow.
So, this weekend, when I sat down against Metagross with Gardeovir and got pretty much rolled, it was new. I lost a Swiss match to Ryne Morgan (whose list I don’t believe has been publicized yet), who had a fairly standard Psychic-including list with Necrozma and Mimikyu. In fact, I actually almost even won that game, but only because of a prized 3rd Guzma on the other side. In Top 8, I sat down to Trey Reese’s slightly-crazier, Nihielgo-packing, edition of the deck. I got destroyed in Game 1, won Game 2 (uh… somehow), and while Game 3 was a little interesting, I never thought I was in a spot to win. Metagross achieved what I hadn’t felt in 50+ prior games with Gardevoir: the feeling that I was going to lose from the start.
Now, part of the value of Gardevoir is that it could include something like Sylveon and probably tilt this matchup back in its favor. But, according to the current hive mind, Sylveon isn’t good in Gardevoir. That creates an opening we can potentially exploit.
Here’s the first list I’m considering…for my Cups, I guess?
Pokémon – 19
Trainers – 31
Energy – 10
Necrozma is a very good attacker, especially against Gardevoir—not that you need much extra help, but it can mow through small Basics and Gallade, and if they try to return with a Gardy, you take 2 Prizes basically for effort essentially equivalent to that of breathing. Relying on this sort of strategy became problematic as Garbodor began to reign in the format, but that’s now over, so it’s worth exploring again. Necrozma can easily deal with Golisopod (though, Zoroark is a bit more work) as well, which is a good trait in this format.
Otherwise, I don’t believe the list is especially remarkable. I believe you should be able to deal with Greninja fairly easily once Giant Water Shruiken is neutralized, as the 150 every other turn is more than they manage in two turns of Shadow Stitching. It’s definitely something that needs to be tested more, but I think the potential is there.
The other list I want to look at eschews the Psychic emphasis in favor of a more reliable high damage output. The tradeoff: Stage 2s aren’t exactly a reliable setup…
Pokémon – 18
4 Metagross GRI
Trainers – 32
Energy – 10
This list tries to take almost greedily-good matchups with Golisopod, Gardevoir, and basically anything that strongly relies on Zoroark-GX. And, in fact, it may be too greedy: this is a lot of Stage 2s to setup under the pressure of things like First Impression/Guzma. I’ve switched one of the Super Rods to a Rescue Stretcher in this spirit, theoretically helping you pick back a Beldum or Cosmog as needed to keep your board moving.
Solgaleo is going to be joined by a few even-more-broken counterparts in a few months, and while Solgaleo-GX SUM hasn’t really taken off as I think the designers imagined it might, it’s a great card that plays well within this format. There’s no better way to deal with the number of 200-230 HP attackers in the format. It may be worth considering Float Stone or some other retreat option to make use of Ultra Road to reset Giga Hammer, or just have better flexibility overall.
I definitely am not a fan of decks with consistency issues, but I do feel as though Metagross might be well-positioned to take advantage of what’s shaped up to be a fairly narrow metagame. I won’t be able to give it a shot in Memphis, but it’s something I’ll be probably be testing with my friends that are going and definitely will be among my considerations for upcoming League Cups.
The Maddening Math Behind Memphis
Even today, more than two weeks out, it’s apparent that we’re going to see record breaking numbers in the Masters division for Memphis. Earlier this season, the current record holder (Fort Wayne) saw the first invocation of the “Top 32 or all 7-2s, whichever is greater” rule for Day 2 Swiss. The infamous Top 33 led to a bit of a mess in terms of prizing and collusion around the bubble, so I hope we won’t be back in that boat again.
For those who aren’t aware, I have a pretty extensive backlog of tournament-related data that I use to make projections, gain insights, etc. into what might happen at a particular tournament. While Fort Wayne was the first “Top 32+” Memphis is going to come close to it as well. To be clear, there is no guarantee Memphis will exceed 32 7-2s.
How can this be? Memphis is Standard, where Fort Wayne was Expanded.
Fundamentally, the tie rate at a given tournament has a pretty immense impact on the tournament’s outcome. Without any ties, we’d expect around 80 players to achieve a record of 7-2 or better, which is obviously not what’s going to happen in Memphis. Fort Wayne’s tie rate was right about 17%, which is on the lower end for this season, but about what we expect to see in Expanded. My projections before Fort Wayne thought we’d get close to, but not quite reach, the “Top 32+” plateau. Obviously, that was wrong. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- There’s a lot of inherent variance in pairups/pairdowns, the distribution of ties, etc.
- Players expected to need 21 points, so they played to avoid ties at critical records.
Right now, Memphis is sitting around 900 players, which is where my personal model suggests we start to see a real risk of the Top 32+ phenomena. Here’s why it, even with that in mind, might not happen: BKT-on’s tie rate is historically high so far. The first Standard Regional of the season, Hartford, had a whopping 21% tie rate. While Vancouver fell to 19.5%, the European International Championships and Crimson Invasion ended up right about 20% again (it is impossible to easily come up with an exact figure for EUIC because of the corruption of the RK9 Labs Live Roster with League Cup results, but my best efforts come out to 19.87%).
These numbers are all higher than we’ve seen historically. 17% is a generally good baseline in history, but it can even still vary significantly event-to-event. So, in summary, Fort Wayne was in a quicker format than what we’ve seen recently, which is my explanation for my model’s miss on that target by ~4 players. Now, with that said, what’s going to happen in Memphis? I believe the Top 32+ isn’t a given because it’s a far slower format. Anyone who’s played a Best of 3-of Gardevoir or Golisopod mirror knows exactly what I’m talking about: these matches take forever. My Best of 1 Cup this past weekend had around 10 unintentional ties, which is a crazy high figure.
What’s this mean for you? Well, actually not that much in terms of Top 32. But, not everyone is going to Top 32, and some may contemplate last-round IDs to assure a certain Top 64/128/256 threshold, so I want to present my projections of those as well:
Limitless TCG’s SwissCalc utilizes a mathematical approach to tournament simulation, whereas I utilize tournament history and statistical methods to inferentially estimate the outcome of tournaments given a number of players. For this simulation, 20% ties were assumed.
Caveats: off the top of my head, I think Limitless will be closer to the mark for the 16 and 15 point cutoffs. My estimates further up the table are liable to being messed with by the tie rate issue I mentioned earlier (Limitless theoretically accommodates for varying tie rates of different formats better than I can), but I would confidently say 21 points is the goal for Top 32, 19s will probably get split about 50/50 between Top 64 and Top 128, and that I don’t think 17 will make Top 128 in high frequency. If you’re at 15 going into Round 9, I’d consider ID’ing to 16. Even with a win, you might not actually make Top 256, but a loss could easily put you out of Top 256 altogether. Not worth it for 10 more points.
If for some reason 950 ends up being a bad guess, I’ll update this as we get closer to the event. Unfortunately, I have nothing to offer our Junior/Senior readers and parents in this area, as I lack any tournament data to make a historical guess with.
With that… I’ll see you next week! It’s actually one of the calmer periods of the year right now, which is saying something about the rest of it, but there’s plenty to write about nonetheless. Next week, I think I’ll talk about some general excellence tips that’ll be applicable no matter what your next event it. That could change between now and then, as things seem to be always evolving in the game, but at the moment that’s the plan.
Otherwise, as always, all the best.
…and that will conclude this Unlocked Underground article.
After 45 days, we unlock each Underground (UG/★) article for public viewing. New articles are reserved for Underground members.
Underground Members: Thank you for making this article possible!
Other Readers: Check out the FAQ if you are interested in joining Underground and gaining full access to our latest content.