Another World Championship has come to a close, and with it, any number of storylines we’ve been chasing as a community for the last year have closed with it. We have another set of champions, another format that will probably one day be old-deck lore, and another season to look to—this time, headed back to Washington.
For me, it was a weekend that probably found more questions than answers, but there’s only so much one can do. The 15th place finish is painfully short of what I wanted while still being something I’m incredibly proud of attaining. Conveniently, we have the other SixPrizes Top 16 finisher later this week in Jimmy Pendarvis, who slotted ahead with a 14th. It’s not quite the run we had last year, with sizable Top 8 representation, but I think it was a fairly decent Worlds on the whole. I’m sure the other writers will filter their thoughts on their Worlds plays over the next few weeks, but I would jump to highlight Xander’s Banette: it didn’t go so well, but it absolutely was on 6P weeks ago.
We have some exciting site stuff to get into today before I get to the rest of my article, but otherwise, I have some general season-ending thoughts to work with for the day. I certainly haven’t devoted an iota of brainpower to the Standard rotation at this point, and actually won’t for a bit, so we will not discuss that today. The first Regional of the season is quickly approaching, though, so we’ll work to get some content forward on that soon.
Site Updates and New Season Notions
We’re super excited to have a number of new initiatives to share with you this year. Through what we have planned, we believe it’ll be easier than ever to integrate SixPrizes with the rest of your Pokémon experience, communicate with the writers and your fellow subscribers, and, most importantly, take your game to the next level.
We’ve always had a bit of a hard time deciding what to do with Fridays. It’s really too late in the week for most of us to learn anything new to impact the upcoming weekend’s tournaments, and full-fledged articles on things that aren’t specific to the weekend are a little hard to write—and quickly become at-risk of being out of date.
Starting this Friday, I’ll be piloting our new “Friday Flyer” concept. Outside of debating the philosophical basis of whether it should be spelled Flier or Flyer, this column-of-sorts will feature discussion on different issues within the game, site updates, a decklist here or there—probably on the wackier side—and make up for a shortchanged format when a week fails to consider Standard or Expanded appropriately.
It’ll generally be shorter than a traditional article, but hopefully this lets us cover some cooler stuff that isn’t quite fit for a full-length piece. I have some ideas for topics written up, and am excited to see where we can go with it. Like the regular articles, it will require an Underground Subscription to view, and we hope it becomes a valuable part of the experience. I’m especially excited that this will take us to consistently publishing content 4-5 days a week, meaning we’ll be well-positioned to react to any surprises as they happen.
One thing I’m fairly sure of at this point is that we’ll have one monthly mailbag within the Friday Flyer each month. I’ll be sure to sneak question submission reminders onto the Twitter, and will probably send an email once in awhile to that effect, but keep an eye out! The first mailbag edition will probably be September 21, right after the first North American Regional of the year, so keep your eye out there.
If you’re curious about this or any other element of the September schedule, it’s now available for view on the forums. You can also always view upcoming schedules at SixPrizes.com/schedule.
A Ratings Reboot
For those that’ve been around awhile, you might remember that SixPrizes once had + and – buttons at the end of an article. Readers could use this to express whether or not they enjoyed an article, and at one time, these ratings were used to factor part of writer compensation in each month. When Alex Hill and I took the lead on day-to-day operations in April 2017, we phased these ratings out. We did this for a few reasons, but mostly because reader participation had dwindled to the point that we no longer felt it was a good metric for evaluation.
We’re going to bring the ratings back on a limited basis moving forward, effective today. We’re hopeful that they help you provide us feedback on a day-to-day basis in a way that we haven’t quite been able to replicate since. They are going to take on a different role than they used to from a site-side standpoint, but we’re hoping they can help inform decision making in a valuable manner. Most importantly, they give you an easy way to provide snap feedback on a piece, which is the best way for us to better meet your needs. Always, though, we welcome your feedback through whatever means you feel compelled to provide it.
Over the course of the 2018 Championship Series, I got a few comments, especially from parents, expressing frustration with the timing of content during stretches where the format oscillated frequently (especially in May). Unlike some of us writers, it’s been expressed that there’s a preference to lock in a deck choice much further in advance than would be practical given the timing of the input we provided last season.
This is a really complex issue for us, mainly because the reality is that much of the writing staff doesn’t even begin thinking about next week’s Standard Regional until after this week’s Expanded event. Important, too, is the awkward struggle that arises when last-second innovations don’t appear on article sites. We can do some things, like when Pablo updated his pre-Worlds article last week with Baby Buzzwole in advance of the event once it became apparent that it would be quite strong, but the reality of backing some of the event’s coverage off of the Wednesday/Thursday right before the tournament is that things like the “Baby Buzzwole problem”—where top players devise an innovation on Friday night, then it looks bad for having not been on a site beforehand—from Madison will probably happen more often.
We’re going to try to balance two competing issues this season:
- Information needs to be timely in the sense that it positively helps you in choosing a deck for an upcoming major event.
- Information needs to be timely in the sense that it needs to still be useful when Round 1 starts.
It’s not always going to be perfect, but I hope we can do a better job this year through more targeted format coverage. It helps that there is less format oscillation to deal with, but there are still some rough patches on the calendar for sure (May, once again, looks tough). Part of the Friday Flyer’s goal will be to help offset this issue, and in the early season, my articles will likely be devoted to Expanded with an eye toward post-ban Portland. As with everything else, if there’s ever any commentary you want to offer as a reader on this, feel free to drop me a line.
If all of this sounds great to you, but you’re not yet subscribed, we’re running a new season special for the next few weeks—NEWSEASON for $5 off the first term of your new subscription. If you’re interested, head on over.
I hope some of this has you excited about the potential for the new season—I know I’m excited to see where it all leads, and though I’ll be looking at a different role within the game personally this season, it’s going to be great to see how the road to D.C. unfolds.
With all of that aside, I want to talk a bit about Worlds this year. We saw a format that many players disliked, though one I personally believe will be remembered fondly in old-deck land when the time comes. Personally, I believe it was a format where many games offered the better player options to out-maneuver an opponent, and that’s always something to look toward. When Alex Hill and I were discussing testing leading up to the event, we thought it was fairly important that certain people play certain decks during the process—unlike some formats, we each weren’t comfortable ubiquitously switching off and immediately trusting the results. Pilots often mattered, and in a way that I can’t remember previously being the case.
On the same foot, once skill levels were at a fairly marginal difference, as we saw on Day 2 of Worlds, the format did sometimes lend itself to some pretty silly stuff deciding games, which isn’t quite as desirable. It’s probably one of my all-time favorite Worlds formats, in any event, and I think it showed in how my weekend went.
This was my Day 2:
R1 Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor GRI/Octillery BKT (2-0)
R2 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI (2-0)
R3 Buzzwole-GX/Lycanroc-GX GRI (2-0)
R4 Rayquaza-GX (2-1)
R5 Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor GRI (1-1)
R6 Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor GRI (1-1)
R7 Greninja BREAK (0-2)
In the end, this 4-1-2 was good for 15th. I was pretty disappointed to start 4-0, be literal minutes away from securing the 5th win in Round 5, and again be a turn away from the win in Round 6, but when I realized that Round 7 was a date with Greninja, the feeling really took on a new level of depressing. To bring it all together, none of the 4-of us even made Top 8, so it was squandered opportunity all the way around.
It stung, a lot, to lose out on Top 8 in such a combination of ways. I was definitely not a happy camper, especially after the Round 6 tie in a game that I don’t believe I could have lost. But, in that spot, the tie was better than a loss for him. If his play was too slow—and I’m not saying that it was—I did myself no favors by not calling a judge on it. If it wasn’t, it was on me to play faster to get my last turn in.
I’m a bit bothered by some of the stories arising from Worlds and the Nashville Open as it comes to ties, concessions, and players feeling that they deserve wins out of ties. There’s no excuse for maliciously going off on an opponent in this circumstance—ever. I hope the playerbase as a whole becomes less tolerant of this sort of situation.
On the flip side, TPCi has recently provided guidance allowing players to self-govern by deciding a match based on things other than the match resolution rules—as long as they remain within the coercion, bribery, and anti-gambling language in the rules. This is a tenuous tightrope, and perhaps it would be better if it wasn’t available to walk, but no matter the situation, there is never an acceptance circumstances for going after an opponent for not conceding in some of the ways we’ve heard of out of Worlds.
Now, the ties stung, but if I only knew then that the weekend would only get weirder from there. As I sat on backup stream in Round 7, getting absolutely demolished by Greninja, it came to my attention that they were switching over to our match from the primary. This struck me as very, very odd: there was no way Rayquaza vs Buzzwole/Garbodor managed to conclude in the time it took me to scoop Game 1 and be well-on-my-way to losing Game 2. At one point, I turned around and saw Pedro still sitting at the table, so my suspicion was confirmed—something was up.
As we all know now, that something turned out to be Alessandro—my Round 5 opponent—’s decklist. It, for Buzzwole/Garbodor, contained 4 Double Colorless Energy, not 4 Strong Energy. Needless to say, this is not an error where it seems like Alessandro was trying to gain an advantage by having Double Colorless on his list, so I would say we can safely rule out malicious intent from the perspective of writing out his decklist.
Unfortunately, this situation gets a bit worse when considering the fact that Alessandro passed mid-round deck checks in Rounds 5 and 6. As I posted in HeyFonte and on Twitter over the weekend, this is a pretty frustrating situation all-around, but I posted my side of it to clear the notion that Alessandro was actively cheating as some had started to suggest. I suppose I can’t ever know if he knew his list was wrong and concealed that, but I do at least feel he wasn’t deriving an advantage by trying to game the system.
It is highly, highly regrettable that this managed to pass two deck checks. I take some solace, I suppose, in knowing that I know staff isn’t taking it easily either. I’m confident there was no conspiracy afoot to cover for him or anything absurd. People are only human, and at the least, I am confident there was a good-faith effort to make sure everything ran as fairly as possible.
I suppose I could discuss a bit about how we landed on the deck. Wes Hollenberg and my brother Alex tested the concept a lot in the Thursday-Tuesday before Worlds, and it obviously saw fairly significant success on Day 1 via the Australians. I spent the time Wes and Alex spent testing the deck searching for a counter to the deck, as I was convinced it would mow through Day 1 and that beating it would be a key to success on Day 2. To this end, I spent a lot of time with Zoro/Garb.
Our own testing circle’s Day 1 was not good, as Wes fell out using our first iteration of the Buzzwole list—one sans Octillery, with no Banette, Tate & Liza, and other mysterious methods—Sean Foisy did not see enough success with the crazy Rayquaza list, and only Yamil Pietri emerged of anyone else whose deck choice I knew ahead of time. With that dismal mess in mind, Alex and I picked up the pieces, edited the Buzzwole list heavily to adjust for the consistency issues Wes experienced, and found the results encouraging.
Eventually, we decided it was the best idea, having discarded Zoro/Garb as being too prone to ties for the Worlds structure (I think Robin Schulz mastered that issue en route to his victory, which is a major testament to him), Banette/Garb as being too sketchy, and Buzzwole/Lycanroc as being an inconsistent dumpster fire. With that, we looked toward the mirror match. It was mentioned to me that perhaps “countering the counter deck” was a bad practice, but with another 3 minutes total, I’m confident that it’d have proven a brilliant move on our part.
I threw the 1-1 Banette in our “B” list, the mirror-testing unit, and was impressed with its performance from the start—from there, it was only a matter of deciding the draw engine (at one point, we had 1-1 Octillery and 1 Oranguru, which was probably asking for disaster) and a few other last spots. The Worlds list was born.
In the end, that 60 went to 15th in the Main Event, 26th in the Main Event, and Top 8 in the Nashville Open (via Wes). I can’t complain.
This weekend, the 2019 Championship Series will see its third Tier 2 event in the Melbourne Open—after the Nashville Open and Valencia SPE. After Melbourne, Brazil will offer a Regional look at the new format before we head into Philadelphia’s metro area for the North American kick-off to the new structure. Philly will be followed quickly by Frankfurt, and Frankfurt by Memphis—the road is quickly going to take off.
As always, feel free to contact me with any thoughts or concerns on anything I wrote today or with regard to 6P in general. Otherwise, I will hope to see you at an event sometime soon.
All the best,