Delving Into the World of Pokemon Analytics
At the end of the season, I will have completed my third year of playing competitive Pokemon TCG. I think at this point, it is a good time to analyze my performance as a player, see how I’ve improved or if I’ve even improved for that matter, and to try to figure out my strong and weak points as a player, and what type of decks I perform best with.
I have always been a very numbers driven person. Probability and damage math rule my deck decisions in this game, and in the past, sports statistics, and web analytics have been fascinations of mine. With that in mind, I thought it was a good idea to analyze my Pokemon performance based on similar metrics.
So with that in mind, I went off to create a spreadsheet, tracking my tournament performances. In this spreadsheet, I’ve listed the decks I’ve played, what Pokemon I included in them, my win percentage with these decks, how many Championship Points I’ve earned (adjusted to this year’s Championship Point payouts), what type of deck is was (Tier 1, Tier 2, or Rogue), and key characteristics of these decks (Item Lock, Energy Acceleration, Energy Denial, etc.). I felt this covered all the main aspects that I need to properly analyze myself as a player.
In doing this, I have found that I have played in 52 premier level tournaments in the past three years, an average 17.6 per a year so far, and this season isn’t even finished yet! I think this gives a really solid sample size for me to mine data out of as well. So with all that said, let’s start taking a look at my performance as a player in my three years of playing.
For purposes of this section, I am going to analyze how I have performed at tournaments. With regards to this, win percentage and tournament placings (and more importantly Championship Points gained) are the key metrics for me to look at. So with that said, here are my performance metrics:
2012 – 47.3%
2013 – 67.8%
2014 – 65.8%
Total – 61.62%
Now, while it shows a decline in the win percentage from 2013 to 2014, I don’t necessarily consider this much of a decrease, given a natural deflation in the win percentage as a result of ties being introduced this year. However, I think there is some cause for concern that my win percentage hasn’t shown an improvement, as it means I probably have not made any progress as a player this season, and am just kind of treading water.
Objectively looking at this, I win roughly 2/3 of my matches in Swiss. This means for a 5 round tournament, my expected record is 3.3-2.7, and for a 9 round tournament, 6-3. What this means for me as a player, is that I’m a bubble player. That is a player that is generally in the mix for making top cut, but it can really go either way. I’m not going out there dominating every tournament I play in, but at the same time, I’m never really doing too terrible. I think a bubble player is an accurate description, as I’ve bubbled a number of tournaments this season, and I think I have a fairly even distribution of making cut or the equivalent, although in a little bit we will look at those numbers to see how I’m actually doing in that regard by the numbers.
The next step is to look at individual level events, to see if I’ve made any improvements or regressions at certain event levels.
Battle Roads/League Challenges:
2012 – 44.6%
2013 – 68.4%
2014 – 68.9%
Total – 63.65%
So in regards to Battle Road/League Challenge level events, I’ve done about the same this season as I did last season. This is a bit better than my overall average, but just by a little bit. I can expect to go 3.45-1.55 at a League Challenge, which puts me in a great position for placing in one of these events. I’m not dominating them, but I’m not doing bad at them either.
2012 – 53.3%
2013 – 68.5%
2014 – 64.2%
Total – 63.7%
This is probably my most distressing area, because it was an important area for me to show improvement in, and I’ve also regressed a little bit, even with taking ties into account. This has been felt the most on my season thus far, as I failed to hit the best finish limit of 4 for this event series, which really hurts my total Championship Point numbers missing a finish in an event series that you really need to manage to get all 4 for. At around 66% win percentage for these events over the past two years, I am once again a bubbling type player for this event. This is seen and felt, in that I bubbled a tournament (going 4-1 nonetheless) which would have represented my 4th finish for this event series.
2012 – 64.3%
I’ve only gotten to play in States during my first season in the game, and I did quite fine at these, once again hovering around that 2/3 winning of my games. This puts me on the bubble for this type of events, and that was definitely the case, as I bubbled into two Top 16’s at the State Championships I played at. Hopefully I can at least maintain this level of play headed into this season’s State Championships, or even better, improve on those numbers!
2012 – 50%
2013 – 55.5%
2014 – 59.5% (Day 1’s – 72.2%)
Total – 56.1%
This is probably the area where I have shown the most marked improvement as a player, doing well at these fairly large tournaments. I have improved each year upon it, and my actual improvement from last year to this year is much greater than is shown, as these tournaments are more impacted from ties than any other tournaments, and those numbers also include Day 2’s of Swiss, deflating my win percentage as that is just the best players playing it out. My Day 1 win percentages are fantastic, and have both guaranteed me to make the second day at both Regional Championships this year.
2012 – 55.5%
2013 – 66.6%
Total – 61.1%
There isn’t much to say about this one, as I haven’t gotten the third National Championship in yet. I went from missing out on cut in my first year, to making it the next year, although I was one of the players that bubbled in, so improving my win percentage will be key for doing better at Nationals this year, especially since it will involve more Swiss, and not just cut to Top 128.
Overall, I would say that I am a solid Swiss player. I am generally in the mix for making cut/placing at an event, but I generally do not have overwhelmingly strong performances.
The next step in analyzing my tournament performance is by looking at placings/championship points gained from an event, so here are my numbers for that.
2012 – 4/14 Placings (28.6%) – 100 Championship Points
2013 – 12/21 Placings (57.1%) – 227 Championship Points
2014 – 9/18 Placings (50%) – 205 Championship Points
Now there are a few things to look at in regards to these numbers so far. The obvious, my percentage of tournament placings has decreased from last year to this year. I am not too surprised at this, as my local area keeps getting better and better, making it more difficult to place at tournaments, and I haven’t shown the kind of improvement needed to stay ahead of that force. However, one thing to note is the championship point numbers, as 2014 has a big boost of 50 from making Top 128 at the National Championships (remember, it’s adjusted for this year’s Championship Point payouts). I’m getting close to eclipsing my Championship Point total from last season already, so what’s changed? While I might have made Top Cut more last season, I have been going deeper in the cuts I’ve been making this year.
I think 50% tournament placings isn’t bad, about what you would expect from a bubbling type player, but where I would like to get is to around a 2/3 tournament placing.
Now lets look at individual event levels:
Battle Roads/League Challenges
2012 – 1/5 Placings (20%) – 10 Championship Points
2013 – 7/11 Placings (63.6%) – 77 Championship Points
2014 – 4/7 Placings (57.1%) – 35 Championship Points
I did extremely well at Battle Roads last year, and have shown a bit of a dip in performance at League Challenges this season based on final placings, even though my win percentage actually improved at these. I don’t think the win percentage is necessarily super representative, just because I had a majorly poor outlier in 2013, that brought down the win percentage, taking that out, and my win percentage was better for 2013 by a good margin. I actually went over my best finish limit for Championship Points from these last season, so I think only 67 of the Championship Points counted. League Challenges are definitely an area that I need to pick it up at.
2012 – 1/4 Placings (25%) – 30 Championship Points
2013 – 4/8 Placings (50%) – 100 Championship Points
2014 – 3/9 Placings (33.3%) – 110 Championship Points
City Championships were definitely a disappointment this year, there is no understating that. My placement numbers definitely showed a much sharper dip than my win percentage. Our area did have a few events one short of Top 8’s, which definitely skewed this number a bit, but the dip in my Swiss performance did affect making cut, so when you’re already a bubbling player, a few more losses can easily create this kind of decrease. I did increase my championship point output, just because I ended up going deeper at the few City Championships I did make cut at.
2012 – 2/3 Placings (66.7%) – 60 Championship Points
No other years to compare this to. I want to see improvement from this, this year, making at least one Top 8, but if I make two Top 16’s again for Championship Points, then State Championships will have gone okay. Still, would like to get a lot more points from these this season and show actual improvement.
2012 – 0/1 (0%) – 0 Championship Points
2013 – 0/1 (0%) – 0 Championship Points
2014 – 2/2 (100%) – 60 Championship Points
I had failed to cut Regional Championships either of the past two seasons, and made the Top 32 at both of the ones I attended this season. This is definitely an improvement, and I hope to maintain my place as a Day 2 player headed forward at Regional Championships.
2012 – 0/1 (0%) – 0 Championship Points
2013 – 1/1 (100%) – 50 Championship Points
This one is harder to analyze, just because you either make Top 128, or you don’t, any you only have one chance a year at this. Hopefully I can maintain my position as a Top 128 player at Nationals this year, and then make improvement from there.
So overall, I would say my overall swiss performance has remained the same, while I have improved in cut situations. I have regressed a bit performance wise at local level events, while showing improvement at bigger tournaments.
Meta or Rogue?
Now the next area for me to examine is what am I doing best with, meta decks or rogue decks? I’ve broken down my tournament decks into four categories, Tier 1, Tier 2, Rogue, and just plain bad decks that don’t deserve designation. Hopefully this can provide some enlightenment towards what path I should be looking to go with my deck choices.
First, let’s look at what decks I’ve had the most success with based on quantity.
I’ve made placements at 25 of the tournaments I’ve played at. Here is the breakdown by deck type:
Tier 1 – 15
Rogue – 7
Tier 2 – 3
Now I think we can lump Rogue and Tier 2 together for some analysis purpose, as when you play either deck, it’s generally to counter the meta game. So in 60% of my placements, I used a Tier 1 deck, in 40% I used a Rogue or Tier 2 deck. While I’ve seen much more success quantitatively using Tier 1 decks, I’m not sure if this number says I should lean more towards playing Tier 1 decks or not yet, as I still have a decent number of placements with Rogue and Tier 2 decks.
So next, I should look at how many times I’ve played each type of deck.
27 Tier 1
7 Tier 2
So what we see here is that I played Tier 1 decks the most, followed by Rogue, then Tier 2, and then just 2 awful decks.
So next, let’s analyze tournament placings by deck type in relation to the number of times I played such a deck.
Tier 1 – 55.6%
Rogue – 43.8%
Tier 2 – 42.9%
So from these base numbers, it generally says that I should probably stick to Tier 1 decks, as I’ve seen most success when playing one of those. However, one thing to take into account is that I mostly played Rogue decks my first season playing, and rarely placed with them, so let’s take out my 2012 season, and just analyze the 2013-2014 numbers.
So here is my total times playing such a deck, taking out the first season:
Tier 1 – 22
Rogue – 10
Tier 2 – 5
Now, let’s look at the tournament placings with each deck type:
Tier 1 – 12
Rogue – 6
Tier 2 – 3
So breaking that down into percentages:
Tier 1 – 54.5%
Rogue – 60%
Tier 2 – 60%
So over the past two seasons, I have actually done better with Rogue and Tier 2 decks then I have done with Tier 1 decks. This signifies to me that I should be taking more time investing in the creation of anti-meta and counter decks then I should in trying to make better lists for Tier 1 decks than other people. I am stronger as a player when playing something to counter everyone else then I am when trying to create a better list of an established deck than everyone else.
Now, I will be brief in this section, and won’t list specific numbers as there are just too many different characteristics to go over. But I have been able to identify a few key characteristics of my decks that I generally have success with:
- Energy Acceleration
- Energy Denial
- Ability Lock
- Status Lock
- Item Lock
Now I think there is an easy way to read these deck characteristics. The Tier 1 decks I have the most success with are ones that provide Energy Acceleration, so if I’m going for a Tier 1 offering, it should be something with Energy Acceleration. I generally do poorly when playing a Tier 1 deck that is based solely on manual attachments.
The other 4 characteristics all scream one thing to me, these are the strengths that I have seen when playing counter decks. When I have done well with Rogue and Tier 2 offerings (and Tier 1, as Gothitelle/Accelgor was that at one point), it has been a result of controlling the game state, and denying my opponent certain aspects of their deck or strategy.
Now as seen above, I should be going more the rogue direction, as that gives me more success as a player. I think there are two key things I should be looking at when building a rogue deck. The first type of rogue deck to build is a control deck, which limits what my opponent can do. I am not too surprised that I have seen such success with these types of decks, as they are generally the hardest counters to the meta game, and generally take a lot of fine tuning to get right, so I am probably playing with better lists for these decks then others.
Alternatively, when creating a rogue deck, something that I should take into account if I don’t have control aspects is to include Energy Acceleration. I’m not sure how many rogue decks can be made with Energy Acceleration, as generally anything with Energy Acceleration becomes meta, but if something is overlooked, and it has Energy Acceleration, that’s a card I should be considering for rogue deck options.
I think this has been a worthwhile exercise for me, as I look to play out the remainder of the season. I have been largely a bubbling player, and need to work on getting better tournament performances. The way I am going to approach better tournament performance is by looking for better rogue and Tier 2 options aimed at countering the meta game. I think such decks give me the best opportunity for big successes, and can really create situations where your opponent has little chance of winning games.
Moving forward, I have decided to put a lot less emphasis on playing this game after the completion of this season. I have some life goals and adventures that I want to start taking on in the next few years, so it will be necessary to devote more resources (time and money) to these endeavors, which naturally will take time away from Pokemon.
I will not be leaving the game after this season however, but my approach to the game will be taking a completely different turn. I had the discussion last week with my best friend a little over a week ago about my plans going forward with the game, as some of my plans (travel) for the next few years involve her. A big focus I’ll have is spending a lot less money on the game, which in general means not always having the best cards available to me. This as a result, would mean relying on tin promos and cheaper cards to play the game moving forward, as well as the cards already in my collection. This naturally, would trend me towards more Tier 2 and Rogue offerings than it would the Tier 1 decks which can be expensive, although hopefully Tin Promos will help in giving me some Tier 1 offerings to play (right now we have Blastoise/Keldeo [minus Beach], Plasma, and Darkrai available for play as Tier 1 options just from tins and cheap card offerings).
This exercise has been a bit reassuring in that regard, as I have seen some good success with Rogue and Tier 2 decks. This gives me confidence that I can achieve some levels of success next season playing such decks nearly exclusively. If I didn’t have a ground in these decks already, I’m not sure whether I could expect to do well next year, and if my tournament performance would just be nothing but losses from a lack of card power, I would surely lose desire to continue with the game, but that will hopefully not be the case.
I think self reflection on performance, and one’s strength and weaknesses is something worthwhile examining, so I would recommend other competitive players to perform a similar exercise at some point. As I move deeper into the world of Rogue and Tier 2, I have a new excitement for this game, and am excited to see what I can create!