Hope for Next Format

Every time someone mentions anything about the newest ban list, it seems like its negative. People keep saying that it is too much of a money format, that TCG exclusives are ruining the game, that it is just a continuation of last format and that the list didn’t really change any of the problems, or that diversity is dead. I’m not saying the list goes without problems, but it is definitely not the worst list we’ve ever had. Let me give you some reasons why I think we might just be in for a good format despite what the vast majority thinks.

Individual Changes

I think that Konami made a couple of changes that will definitely work towards a better overall game. The first of these changes was the banning of Trap Dustshoot. Essentially if you opened with this card and you were going first, you were probably going to win. You could rob them of their best card and play around the remaining cards. This card was very one sided and did little good in creating an overall better game. I, for one, am glad to see it gone.

The next change I am excited for is Torrential Tribute’s movement from limited to semi-limited. This is definitely a step in the right direction since all of the current top decks can swarm the board. With this card at two, anyone who mindlessly attempts to combo out will be severely punished.  This will definitely slow down the game quite a bit.

Mirror Formats

This last weekend in Germany, Dino Rabbit secured 19 of the Top 32 spots and 10 of the Top 16 spots before it went on to win the YCS. At this point, it’s safe to assume that Rabbit has a pretty strong grip on the meta and that it is probably the best deck. Since the ban list didn’t really change anything for the top three decks (Rabbit, Wind-Up, and Inzektors) we can assume that Rabbit will continue to be the best deck.

There are two sides to every argument and this one is no exception. Many people think that having a best deck kills diversity as everyone will play it and there will be a lot of mirror matches. I disagree with several things in this argument. First of all, diversity has its own problems. Sure it is fun to not have to play against the same deck every round, but if you are competing and actually trying to do well, wouldn’t you rather play the same deck every round? Think about it. If you play ten different decks in a ten round tournament (YCS Rhode Island for me), you are still limited to the same fifteen card side deck. You can’t possibly side for ten different decks with just the fifteen cards. If instead you knew that the majority of the ten rounds you would be playing the same deck, you could side more cards for that particular match up and those cards would be useful a greater number of rounds giving you a better chance to do well in a tournament.

Also history suggests that mirror match formats are often the most skill intensive formats. Go ask some players who have been playing the game a long time what their favorite formats were. I guarantee most of them will have a short list that includes Goat Control, Gladiator Beasts, Plants, and most of all Tele-DAD. Why? Because these were all very skill intensive formats. Again looking at it from a competitive standpoint, isn’t that what you want from a ban list? One thing that you have to understand is that by losing innovation in deck types when formats like these exist, greater innovation will be born within these dominant deck strategies. For example, during Tele-DAD format Jae Kim had the idea of putting Royal Oppression, a card strictly used in Anti-Meta decks only, in Tele-DAD with the idea of setting up a strong field and protecting it with Royal Oppression afterwards. Jae’s innovation led him to top that event and for players to copy that innovation and use it to be successful for the rest of the format. It’s not so much that innovation is dying, it’s just that in one deck formats there is a shift from deck type innovation to card choice and play style innovation.

Maybe you think that Dino Rabbit is an exception to this rule and that the deck is just too silly to create a skillful format. Is it possible that all the other mirror match formats prior to this one don’t necessarily mean that a mirror match format with Dino Rabbit as the deck to beat will be skillful as well? Sure, but I doubt it. What makes me so sure? Again we’re operating under the assumption that the top 3 decks of right now will continue to be the top 3 decks of next format, but let’s look back to this past weekend in Germany. If this format (and next) are supposed to be so terrible, then why out of over 1100 competitors did a well-known player win? Stephan Sluis won out over all the competitors making him the latest two-time YCS champion. He also made Top 8 at Worlds in 2010, was a finalist in the European Championship the same year, and this top makes his third back-to-back-to-back YCS top. If this format were to be so unskillful and luck based, how could we see this kind of consistency win out above everyone else?  Also I have it on good word that Stephan will be making a guest appearance here at ARG giving a tournament report of Germany so stay tuned for that later this week.

Other Decks

While Rabbit does control the majority of the field, it’s not at the same level as say Tele-DAD where about 13 of the Top 16 spots went to that deck. This means that you can play other decks if you cannot afford to play Rabbit. Look at Inzektors as an alternative. They are widely considered to be in the top 3 decks, but they are not nearly as expensive as either Wind-Ups or Rabbit. Unlike the other two, they do not necessarily need Tour Guide or other extremely expensive cards like Wind-Up Rabbit or Rescue Rabbit. Unfortunately when it comes to cards like Maxx “C,” well that’s just the cost of playing the game and no matter what you play bar one or two exceptions (Marquis Henderson), you’re going to need them to be successful in a competitive environment.

That about wraps it up for this week’s article.  Hopefully I’ve convinced some of you to not jump ship. This isn’t the worst format we’ve ever had and it certainly has a lot of potential. If you really hate it, wait a month and a half and the next set will surely shake things up! Until next time, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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