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

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