Hello once again fellow Vanguardians! This is my second article for ARG's wonderful contest. If you don't already know me, my name is Adam Jackson, a member of TeamNoGuard. Along with that, I've Top 8'ed at the Stand Up Cup! Hosted in April by Untouchables, and also judged the Toronto Regionals. Last time I wrote about the controversial topic: Dauntless DOTE. This time, I'm defining something a lot of people claim is not definable by any means necessary. If the title didn't give it away, I'm going to define the meta game... or at least attempt to. Because Vanguard is such a diverse game, with over 20 currently playable clans in the TCG, one would imagine it'd be hard to find which decks are considered "the best" in the game. However, this actually isn't so hard to do.
Like other TCG's, Bushiroad hosts many regionals throughout the year, and after each one, they post statistics for which clans were the most popular, and which clans won. Of course, you could just "define the meta" by saying that the best decks are the one that win, but such is not the case. In order to properly define the meta, we need to look at what clans are played the most, and why they are. So, in order to do this, we'll be looking at the Top 5 most played clans at all the regionals. Yes, I said all the regionals. Don't panic though, you Vanguardians reading this won't have to do any of that, because I've done it for you; and because on a global scale there essentially is no meta game, I've divided it into 3 groups based off of all the regionals that have happened so far: North America, Asia/Oceania, and Europe. As I've stated many times that people will argue there is no meta, we're going to call this the "Statistical Meta". Before you dive head first into this, I should forewarn you that it's a long read, but well worth it. Are you ready?
Let's start things off with an easy one: North America, which includes the United States, and Canada. In Canada, there was one regionals, Toronto. The states had 6: Atlanta, Chicago, Mexico, Dallas, New York, and Los Angeles. We're now going to look at Top 5 most popular clans played in these regionals, except for LA, which we will do the Top 6, as the statistics for the 5th and 6th clan were the exact same. Let's get started, shall we?
Now, instead of listing the top 5 played clans for every regionals, I've added up all the percentages from each regionals for the Top 5 clans played there, and made these lists. Note* some percentages will be above 100.
Gold Paladin 115.5%
Oracle Think Tank 69.5%
Bermuda Triangle 65.4%
Aqua Force 22.8%
Royal Paladin 18.5%
Now again, these statistics may seem off, but it's because they're showing the popularity of the clans. You might be wondering, why is Royal Paladin only at 18.5%? Well, out of the Top 5 most played clans at regionals for NA, only 2 regionals had Royals in their Top 5: Atlanta at 10%, and Los Angeles at 8.5%. And for Gold Paladin, it was the most played clan in 5 out of the 7 regionals. Some of you may be thining "Just because a clan is overplayed doesn't make it the best". This is true, however, when people choose deck to use competitively, they usually choose the deck the believe has the highest chance of winning. So, based off of that, it's safe to assume that a majority of the people in North America, do in fact believe that Gold Paladin is the strongest clan out there, and has the highest chance of winning. The meta game in North America? GP/OTT/Kagero for the main 3 decks in popularity.
Next up is Europe. Europe only had 3 regional qualifiers: The United Kingdom, Greece, and Belgium. It may be tough to create a meta game through only 3 regionals, but it's certainly possible. Let's take a look at which clans were played the most out of the top 5 played in the regionals.
Gold Paladin 46.3%
Royal Paladin 26.4%
Oracle Think Tank 21.7%
Bermuda Triangle 9.9%
Shadow Paladin 6.3%
Aqua Force 0%
Noticing something in common? Like their North American counterpart, in Europe, the most popular deck is again, the Gold Paladin deck. However, they also think that Narukami can do better than OTT, which is why it's seen more play. Something notable to point out, Europe is the only place in this years qualifiers where Shadow Paladins were amongst the Top 5 clans at a regionals, in this case it was in Greece. What's even more surprising is the complete lack of Aqua Force. Please keep in mind though, this doesn't mean the clan wasn't played, it just means that it was not in the percentage of the top 5 decks played in the 3 regionals. So the meta game in Europe is? GP/Narukami/Kagero.
Finally, we have our last batch of qualifiers determining the statistical meta game. This time, we have 4 regional qualifiers to grab stats from. Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Gold Paladin 58%
Oracle Think Tank 32.5%
Bermuda Triangle 23.9%
Royal Paladin 18.6%
Aqua Force 9.4%
Hmm, something looks oddly familiar. Well again, Gold Paladins were the most played deck in the Asia/Oceania qualifiers. Are you surprised? I certainly was. Again, this just goes to show the popularity of the deck. Meta in Asia/Oceania? Gold Paladin/Narukami/Kagero.There is something extremely important that I'd like to explain upon. I chose to not "make" the meta based off of the decks that won, because in a regionals, you do have a "Best of 1" format, which means almost anything can win. For example, take Chicago. An Aqua Force deck ended up winning the entire event. But, what was he playing specifically? A deck with a grade 3 line-up of 4 Benedict, 2 Blue Storm Dragon, Maelstrom, and 2 Blue Storm Supreme Dragon, Glory Maelstrom, and just 2 perfect guards. Now, I'm not trying to discredit the person who won in any way, but that doesn't exactly sound like the most consistent deck in a competitive scene. Benedict is a 10k Grade 3, that is rear-guard specific. His skill only activates on the rear-guard circle. Running 4 means you have an increased chance of riding it, which can screw up your game plan. Also, running 2 of each Maelstrom may have been a personal choice, but if you end up riding Glory turn 3, your Vanguard doesn't do anything until you hit 5 damage, so it's a vanilla Vanguard until then. Anyway, I've gone off on a small tangent.
In a competitive format, and a large scale tournament scene where you play to win, a best of 1 format means anything can win. Most people reading this article would agree that running 2 perfect guards while perfectly viable doesn't give you the highest chance of winning. It makes the deck a tad bit inconsistent. One last example would be of one where Kagero took first and second place at a regional qualifier. The first place deck was DOTE, as expected, but the 2nd place deck was not DOTE; it was Overlord Beatdown. The grade 3 line-up? 4 Dragonic Overlord, 2 Dragonic Executioner, 1 Dragonic Waterfall. Doesn't seem like the typical Kagero deck, does it? Yet, it got 2nd place. Again, I mean absolutely no disrespect to the people who piloted these decks. In a competitive players mindset though, would you think a DOTE deck would do better, or an Overlord Beatdown? A majority will say DOTE, like I do. To sum it up, I didn't want to base the meta off of what won because in a best of 1 format, anything can happen. You can get stuck, not get any triggers, your opponent 6 damage heals, and nothing will go your way. On the flip side, that is what makes Vanguard Vanguard. You could have the title of being the best player in the world, yet if you get grade stuck, even someone just starting the game could beat you.Hopefully from this article people will see that while very vague, there is a meta game to be found in Vanguard, even if it is called the "Statistical Meta". Thanks for reading!