Another weekend down. While I may not have played this Standard format in a Regional event, I do get the distinct impression that many players aren’t necessarily huge fans of where we’re at. It was pretty cool to see some of Dragon Majesty make an impact this weekend—I saw more than one Kingdra-GX walking around somewhere in the day, and Quagsire saw some play, but otherwise it was essentially the same format we left off on in Philadelphia.
I’m pretty solidly unsurprised that Malamar walked away in the end, as the suite of attackers it was working with is on a level of the rest of the format just can’t quite match. Chimecho CIN—which, I will totally admit, I did not immediately recognize when I walked by one during Round 1—was a clever inclusion to work within the mirror-based metagame, and while I haven’t watched the finals match, my understanding is that Chimecho was a big part of Daniel Altavilla overcoming the as-of-then undefeated Gustavo Wada.
As we look forward, the next big thing on the horizon is Portland’s Regional Championship. Kicking off the Expanded slate for this year, it’s going to be interesting to see how the attendance factors of “Pacific Northwest” and “Expanded” combine together in a time where Expanded might be the preference of more players than in any other time in the format’s history. I know I’m super excited to play it myself, and while this first article on the subject has been in the works a far longer time than I initially planned, I’m glad to be here. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be mixing Standard in with the Expanded to keep current on League Cups and for any international events that happen to pop up, but otherwise the primary focus is going to be on the Expanded format.
And, what an Expanded format it is: the bans this summer have as-of-yet only taken effect in League Cups, giving us a pretty minimal view of their effects. Puzzle of Time, Ghetsis, Wally, and Hex Maniac leave holes in the format ranging from niche to gaping—needless to say, Puzzle is probably the key change on that list. The interesting twist is that almost all of the decks in format are losing Puzzle—Buzzwole, Trevenant, and some other exceptions notwithstanding.
But, the fact that (almost) everything loses Puzzle is not to be mistaken for saying that Puzzle’s loss hurts everything equally. Decks like Zoroark, having played copious one-ofs that were mostly effective in only certain situations, are going to hurt more disproportionately than things like Night March, which cared more that Puzzle could return resources like DCE and Joltik—things that can be obtained through other means. On the other hand, Zoroark is probably going to have a much harder time finding its Red Card out of the discard again.
It’s a new format in some ways and the same old stuff in some others. Let’s get into it.
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