Evaluating Tournament Results

patrickhobanEvaluating Tournament Results


            How much weight do we place on the results of a tournament? Can you use tournament results to determine what the best deck is? If so, can you use this to determine what is the best deck for the next event? Is there even a difference? Do tournament results really mean anything at all, or do they have very little barring on the next tournament? This week, I’m going to take a stab at evaluating how much worth a competitive player should put on the results of a tournament.


Being Results Oriented


What does it mean to be results oriented? Let’s say for example that you flip a coin three times and all three times you get heads. The fourth time you flip the coin you call heads because you’ve seen the coin flip heads more than the 50% it theoretically should, so you conclude that the coin is more likely to be heads. Conversely, the fourth time you flip the coin, you call tails because since it’s been heads for the last three times, you believe that a tails is due. These are both examples of being results oriented thinking.


Now in actuality, what you previously flipped on a coin has no bearing on what that fourth flip is and you have a 50% chance of getting heads and a 50% chance of hitting tails. Concluding that you have a greater than 50% chance of getting either heads or tails because of the previous few results is wrong. This concept applies to Yu-Gi-Oh as well. If you make the best play (best being defined as the play that gives you the greatest chances of succeeding, not having an omnipotent view of the game such as having knowledge of all unknown cards) and it does not work three times in a row, you should still make that play the fourth time that situation comes up.


This kind of thinking also translates to determining the best deck. Plain and simple, just because a deck won over every other deck in the field, does not necessarily make it the best deck. There are plenty of factors that could lead to the best deck in a tournament not winning such as variance or human error.


There’s also the potential that no one has arrived at the right answer yet. Let’s look at Frog FTK from back in 2010. The deck was playable ever since the release of Ronintoadin, but several tournaments went by before it was ever actually played with any success. Now if you know anything about this deck, you’d know that it would make a strong contender for best deck in the history of the game and was certainly miles better than any other deck in that format. You can’t think you can determine the best deck from looking at the previous tournament since its entirely possibly that no one realized it yet, so it couldn’t have done well in previous tournaments.


If Not Results, Then What?


If you’re trying to win a tournament, it’s clearly beneficial to play the best deck for that tournament since it’ll give you the best chance of winning. But how do you actually determine what the best deck is once you accept that it’s not necessarily Geargia because it took the most spots in the top cut, or Madolche because it finished first, or the HAT deck because it has the most hype behind it?


The most obvious, and largely correct, answer is to come to a conclusion yourself about what the best deck is by testing. For example, at the time of writing this, I’m under the impression that Dragon Rulers are a better deck than the three aforementioned decks. If we look at the results of the latest major tournament, only 2 Dragon Ruler decks made Top 32, but I still think they are better than the other decks despite Geargias taking 11 spots, the HAT deck taking 9 spots, and Madolche taking the title.


Then Are Results Completely Irrelevant?


            If the deck that wins the tournament is not necessarily the best deck for even that tournament, let alone the next tournament, then do results really mean anything at all? Results do have a place in the game, just not as nearly as large of one as most people seem to think they do.


Geargia taking 11 spots of the top cut in the last major tournament may not necessarily mean that it is the best deck, but it gives us a pretty good idea that it might be the most played one. This means that if you’re going to think that you have a better deck than the perceived best deck, you’re going to need to be able to consistently beat the deck that you’ll probably play more of than any other deck.


Madolche winning the last tournament is a pretty good indicator that you’ll play more of them in the next tournament you go to, since people will copy what they think to be the best deck.


Tournament results are especially relevant for knowing what individual card choices people are likely to make. Let’s take [ccProd]Wiretap[/ccProd] for example. I am of the opinion that the card is not very strong because Geargia and Madolche put you on too short of a clock for you to have the luxury of being able to set it and wait a turn before being forced to do anything. Despite my opinion of the card, I’m well aware that many decks play multiple copies of it. Just because many people are playing it, does not necessarily mean that it is correct to play it, but it does give you a good idea of what you’ll be playing against.


Tournament results can also be useful in evaluating how strong your theory is. You’ve got a pretty good reason to think that 50% of your flips will be heads and 50% will be tails, and while they may not necessarily wind up holding true if you flip a coin only a few times, if you were to flip it 1000 times, roughly 500 of them would be heads and 500 would be tails. Well let’s say you did flip that coin 1000 times and all 1000 times the result came up heads. This is incredibly unlikely to have occurred naturally, so you might come to the conclusion that the coin is weighted.


Similarly, you may come to the conclusion that Neo-Spacians are the best deck in a format. You know that there is no reason to think they’d be winning at major tournaments because no one is playing with them, but then you begin to go to tournaments as well and for 10 tournaments in a row, you go 0-2 drop. This might suggest that you missed something in your testing or theory and that Neo-Spacians aren’t actually the best deck.


That wraps up this week’s article. Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Latest posts by Patrick Hoban (see all)



  • Jim Wolfie

    Hey you wanna do some research about how geographic locations will influence what decks you’ll typically see an event?

  • EGristian Tofcknraw Martinez

    so hes saying gbs can still be top tier? 😀 oh gawd i been waiting for this moment time to dust ouff the ol super besti and super laquaris <3<3<3

  • Greg Sandoval

    sick conclusion bro….

  • Alberth Cuayla

    Really, i think that zombies can have to be the best deck. Having good Uses for the most broken cards right now its amazing. but i feel that i can’t handle the true power beacuse i’m still testing with the extra and main chooses also the combos… Kuribandit and Soul Charge are powerfull cards…

  • Salvatore White

    I feel this article. Hoban is clearly an intelligent writer. I wasn’t even examining this as a Yugioh player,
    moreso as a literary critic. Exquisitly worded sir.

  • Jordan

    It would have been nice if you explained how you came to the conclusion that dragons are the best deck, especially since you made a major emphasis on the point that winning a tournament with a deck doesn’t necessarily make it the best.
    This article suffers from the same problem as all of your others, you explain what is wrong with the meta player’s thought process but you don’t give any insight in to how to improve it.

    • Jafer Ali Ababwa Hooda

      I would think (or at least hope) he’s saving hihs thought process on DRulers for another article. And he’s said what people ought to do in other articles and sources, and it’s implied here: study the game yourself, develop a theory, test the theory, and if it holds through sufficient and adequate testing, put that theory into practice.

      Or in fewer words: how do you figure out what the best deck is? By figuring out what makes a deck good, and what deck best fits those criteria. Most importantly: do NOT assume a deck is good because it’s popular, otherwise you risk locking yourself in a position where you’d concede One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” was the best album of 2013 because it was the most successful.

  • Campa

    neo-spacians are good ;_;

    • R T.

      Hahha that’d be funny, if hummingbird otk won nationals.

  • AliasNorth

    Pats lost a lot of weight. Good for you, Patrick.

    I think you’re talking out your ass on this article, though, it’s not very clear and doesn’t say enough for an article of its length. It’s all over the place. I think understand what you’re trying to say, which is to be results-oriented, but not results-reliant; to not always use what everyone is.

    • Jafer Ali Ababwa Hooda

      I think “setting aware” is more accurate than “results-oriented”: for what he was getting at. It’s important to know what’s going on in the meta at the time when deciding what the best deck is.

      I never really had a problem understanding anything he’s written, but I can sort of see how some people do. He’s not the best at communicating to laypersons/masses.

  • Evan Harvey

    Totally understand a lot of his points. But i’ve witnessed a pattern in his articles.. When he does well, he just rides his own dick, and when he doesn’t do as well, he puts it as basically luck despite “dragon rulers being the strongest deck”.
    >implying Neo-Spacians aren’t the strongest deck of the format
    Turn 1 Hummingbird too good

    • Alexander

      when is hoban gonna realize, the best deck with rulers in it is lightsworn rulers.

  • Juan Oliveira

    People will call Hoban salty but at least he is exposing his opinion. Even if he was salty indeed, he’s a authority when it comes to top and he certanly will top again. So just stop criticism-y, since he topped 18th Place but you not even it.

  • Shawn Russell

    Hoban is right people not because mermails didn’t top doesn’t mean it’s not the best deck

  • Verz Waddle

    Soild, very good read. Always very enlightening for me as I am attempting to work my way into being a successful player in the competitive game.

  • Tails512

    This is just common sense.

  • Lucas Levine

    Patrick, a few weeks ago you wrote that the best deck is consistent and has good combo plays. Dragons have good combo plays, but they are absolutely not as consistent as madolche which is a deck that also has powerful combo plays. The same could be said for geargia… I just don’t think dragons have the same level of consistency that the more frequently topping decks do. If that was the case, they should be topping more often because they are very powerful….

    • Jafer Ali Ababwa Hooda

      A lot of people might share that same mentality as you, and as such, a small minority of players would still be playing the deck. There are other factors, such as match ups, overall power, and percentage of auto-wins, as well as ability to be sided against. I haven’t put the energy into figuring out if DRulers is better than Madolche, but I promise you that he has, and those are all things he’s considered. Ultimately, he might be wrong, he might not be, but superficial theory is not enough to decide the best deck.

      I have a theory of my own about Patrick: He’s a bit too smart for his own good. He’s an academic, and not always the best at communicating to the layperson. He might very well know this, and as such, attempts to “dumb down” what he says publicly like these articles. I will say this: while I may not have always agreed with everything he’s suggested in theory, every time he fully explains it, I understand the reasoning behind it, and most of the time he changes my mind about things. He may have just missed the top cut recently, but look at all the other tops he’s gotten, not to mention his multiple wins. He’s an incredibly consistent and successful player. Either he cheats, he’s the luckiest player in the game, or the majority of his theory is legitimate which gives him an edge in playing and deck building. I’m leaning most heavily towards that last one.

  • nigro

    >just because a deck won over every other deck in the field, does not necessarily make it the best deck

    • …So you don’t agree with that.

    • AliasNorth

      1000 players
      999 of them are using X
      1 is using Y
      Y would need to multiple rounds with a perfect score to top in a tourney that size. Because this game is heavily reliant on luck, especially this format, that’s statistically impossible for Y to top.

      >bias against the player

  • Jenkins Kenway

    Fatrick sounds like salt from losing lol.

    • Donnell Washington

      lol damn Jenkins

  • Johnny Quest

    Translation: “I underestimated several decks but I’m unwilling to admit it, I don’t like the idea that such straight-forward decks are strong so I’m clutching an out-dated belief that the deck with the most options is the best so I can say that I won with skill”

  • Nick Habeeb

    Glorified Retard!

  • Nelson Morales

    Yeah, this is pretty much EXACTLY what Konami said when they explained their ban list 2 years. Another Patrick Hoban “theory” stolen from another source or common knowledge.

  • blah blah

    is it just my or does anyone else think hoban sucks ass

    • Christian Panzer

      You are an idiot. he does not suck ass. He is a smart player and definitely is a top level player. You should not be assaulting players without an argument.

  • Daniel

    Although, according to everything here Neo-spacians could very well be the best deck. Just because a single player (possibly a very untalented player) goes 0-2 for 10 tournaments straight doesn’t mean that he should assume he won’t win the next time. In which case, the only way to determine what IS the best deck would be to create automatic dueling programs to test different card combinations until it determines a single 40-60 card combination that has the highest chances of winning against any other combination. No single player, or group of players testing can test enough to get accurate results. The results may be useful, but not truly accurate.

    I do appreciate the point behind the article, which I believe is “it is better to judge what the best deck is based on personal testing rather than tournament results”.

    • Alexander

      Hence, the dueling machine invented by Seto Kaiba. Whenever you feel like inventing it, I’ll buy

  • Naruto Uzumaki

    Sounds like salt from being top 18

    • Donnell Washington

      He is soo salty! Madolche arent the best.

    • Evan Harvey

      Definitely a looot of salt. But he does make some good points.. although biased which defeats the purpose of his arguments

      • Jim Wolfie

        Just because he has a personal stake in what he’s saying doesn’t mean he isn’t correct about what he’s presenting.

  • Ryan Kron

    Wtf did I just read?

    • Jack.

      … He’s had this theory for a long time, and even written articles on it before. It definitely makes sense. Another thing to consider that I don’t know if he touched on is the skill level of the players piloting certain decks. For example, lot’s of good players played fire-fist last format, so that deck saw a lot of tops. Does that make it the best deck? Not necessarily.