State Championship Analysis – Tier Lists, the Variation of Seismitoad, and the Diversification of the Format

pokedex_project___seismitoad_by_maylara-d62cbb1The 2015 Pokemon State and Provincial Championship series is in the books and all the results are in. If you want to take a look at the raw data check out this page, it has a compilation of all of the results broken down week by week, along with listings of the decks and their placings in the Top 8’s (and the Top 4 from Hawaii). While there is plenty there for players to look over, I want to take the time to give a closer examination of the results.

If I were to pick one word to describe the format that evolved during State Championships it would be diversity. We have a diverse meta game, with no deck taking too large of a share of success with 15 different archetypes winning tournaments with lots of variation just within those archetypes as well. With this article, I will aim to give some clearer explanations of the results along with my thoughts on what this means for Spring Regional Championships.

Tier List

First, lets start by defining the current meta game by taking a look at our current tier list. Here I am going to list my adjusted meta shares next to the tiers and decks to give a clearer picture of what the meta game looks like. This is a results oriented tier list based entirely on the results from State Championships adjusted to give greater weight for the most recent set of tournaments.

Tier 1 (38.91%)

  • Seismitoad EX (16.30%)
  • Yveltal EX (12.71%)
  • Virizion EX/Genesect EX (9.90%)

Tier 2 (26.82%)

  • Exeggutor PLF (7.38%)
  • Flareon PLF (6.98%)
  • Donphan PLS (6.50%)
  • Fighting/Crobat PHF (5.96%)

Tier 3 (18.1%)

  • Primal Kyogre EX (4.18%)
  • Night March (4.12%)
  • Aromatisse XY (3.90%)
  • Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX (3.15%)
  • Bronzong PHF (2.75%)

Recency Bias

exeggutor-plasma-freeze-plf-5-ptcgo-1-312x441This tier list purposefully introduces a recency bias into its calculations for ranking decks. The reason this is done is because the most recent results are the most important results to us as the meta game is constantly evolving towards maturity. We are working under the assumption that players want to win tournaments, so they will move towards the decks that give them the best opportunity of winning tournaments. So while something like Exeggutor PLF would rank 6th if we just look at cumulative results, it is ranked 4th with our adjustments. This makes a lot of sense. Exeggutor wasn’t a very popular deck during the first couple weekends of the tournament series. Players were skeptical if it could deliver them big tournament wins. However, as the format developed Exeggutor established itself as a legitimate deck and more players started playing it and it started to get more tournament success later on.

The later tournaments are played in a more mature meta game, so their results matter more than what happened the first weekend in trying to determine what the best decks are. However, it would be a mistake to just look at just the most recent results when determining our Tier List. While something like Exeggutor had a big week 4, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be just as good as it was in Week 4 at Regional Championships. Players didn’t really prepare for it in week 4, but for Regionals players will most likely give more thought to their Exeggutor matchup, possibly add counters to their deck or play decks with better matchups against it which could halt its growth of success or start turning it back.

Essentially what we’re trying to figure out with a tier list is the equilibrium points of each deck in the format. Players will move towards what gives them the best opportunity of winning, so you have your starting point to a format, and then players move towards different decks to give themselves a better chance of winning a tournament, and the format settles in as it matures to different decks seeing different amounts of play based on their power, which gives us our tier list.

Meta Share and Deck Strength

seismitoad-ex-furious-fists-frf-106-ptcgo-1-312x441And this is how we get what I have referred to has meta share, or given a national tournament, how much of each deck we would expect to see played. The expectation is that players will play decks in numbers based on the likelihood that it will allow them to win a tournament. If Seismitoad EX decks give players the best chance of winning a tournament, we would expect Seismitoad EX decks to be the most played decks and give players the most success.

Using our tier list, we are looking at the general strength of decks. Players picked their decks and went out and played these decks in certain numbers based on their belief that a certain deck was “the play”, and then matches were won, Top 8’s cut, and champions crowned. Using these results, we can look at what are the most powerful decks. The most powerful decks should theoretically see the most play and experience the most success. Therefore Tier 1 decks are not only the most powerful decks, but also the decks you should expect to see get the most played. As you move down the tier list, decks should be becoming less powerful and seeing less play.

Why Tier Lists are Important and Unimportant

sgoo48This is something that some players have been overlooking, but there is a lot of value in a tier list. Too many players get hung up on a tier list and see something they don’t agree with in terms of deck power and get angry and discombobulated. However, when we create a tier list based solely on results, there isn’t much much reason for either of those things. When based on results, the tier list is simply a reflection of the Pokemon Community’s collective thought.

Before going into tournaments, players decide on decks that they think will give them the best chance of winning, and then the tournament plays itself out and certain decks perform better than others. Players readjust taking this new information into account, once again choose a deck they think is “the play”, and then the tournaments play themselves out again and new results come in. We then take these results, compile them, and form a tier list based on those results. When we do it this way, we are just grouping decks based on how well they did.

180px-XY1_Resilient_Life_DeckThe decks that actually see play, and then end up on the tier list are decks played in high enough numbers that the community thought them worthy of tournament play. Something like the Resilient Life Theme Deck has no chance of making it onto our tier list, as players decided it wasn’t a tournament worthy deck so they don’t even bring it to the tournament. Something like Kingdra/Greninja might see a little bit of play, but it would also not end up on the tier list because it wasn’t good enough. The decks on the tier list come from decks that players determine are worthy of tournament play which then prove themselves in different degrees of being worthy of tournament play.

As an individual player, the value of the tier list is it can help to eliminate personal bias. The tier list is just a reflection of the results, so it just takes into account how well something is doing, and not what anyone’s personal thoughts are on a deck. If you asked me my opinion on Virizion EX/Genesect EX, I would say that the deck has been unplayable ever since the end of Winter Regional Championships 2014. However, our current results based tier lists and power rankings have it as Tier 1 and the 3rd best deck in the format, so clearly my opinion is wrong about the deck. Just because you don’t agree with where something is doesn’t mean a results based tier list is wrong in where it lists a deck.

landorus-ex-full-art-boundaries-crossed-bcr-144With that said, the tier list isn’t the end all be all of what is playable in a format. Sometimes players misjudge how playable a card or deck is leading to it not seeing as much play as it should, in turn making it not have as much success as it should based on its theoretical power level (how strong a deck is relative to other decks when all are built perfectly and played perfectly). These are the rogue decks that everyone overlooked, or the lower tier decks that all of a sudden take a tournament by storm. Landorus EX/Crobat PHF is a great example of this. It did see play during City Championships, but the lists were imperfect, players didn’t quite know how to best play Crobat yet, so the deck wasn’t doing as well as it could be. Once lists were improved upon and players better learned how to play the deck to its actual power level (how well a deck actually performs in tournaments) it started to match its theoretical power level.

One last point, and one that I think some people are overlooking in regards to a tier list for this format is that tier lists are relative to the format. They work to differentiate decks based on how successful they are, but the differences between tiers in a format like this isn’t as important as it would be in other formats. This is one of the most diverse formats we’ve had, and I think that’s the result of a deep card pool with every single card having workable counters available. There is a lot of viable stuff, so something being Tier 3 right now just means its less successful and less played than the higher tier decks, not that it is unplayable altogether.

This is different compared to something like the State Championship format from three years ago, where CMT and Zekrom/Eelektrik were Tier 1 and far away better than everything else seeing play, Durant, Typhlosion, and Fighting decks were Tier 2, and everything else that was Tier 3 like Meesie Mew and Vanilluxe were largely irrelevant. In this format, Tier 1 just means more successful in a statistically significant way than Tier 2 and then Tier 3 decks and not that they are far and away more playable than everything else.

Trends

Based on the State Championship results we have received a lot of data points to try to figure out what exactly is going on with the format and some decks positions within the format. Here are some trends that have been developing as the format has matured.

  • Seismitoad EX’s meta share has shrunk significantly from where we started the format, however it has still maintained its position as the best archetype in the format. It finished with the highest total meta share of any deck at 19.2%, and while that number is boosted by its strong week 1, it never fell out of being one of the top 2 decks for a given week, and it finished States strong being the top archetype of week 4. Headed towards Regionals, I think there is no reason not to expect Seismitoad to continue to be a strong contender in this format.
  • yveltal-ex-xy-144-pokegymYveltal EX had a really bad week 4, but this should be taken lightly. It was actually the most successful deck overall in weeks 2 and 3, although it only won 1 of its 5 tournaments after Week 1, losing finals to lock decks (Seismitoad EX and Exeggutor) and to Aromatisse based decks (Tool Box variants, and Seismitoad EX/Malamar EX). I don’t think there is much to read into Yveltal EX being on the decline, despite it having a poor outing in week 4. The decks that were on the rise in Week 4 were Virizion EX/Genesect EX, Exeggutor, Landorus EX/Crobat, and Flareon, none of which intrinsically are awful matchups for the deck. I think it might just be a case of Yveltal EX decks still being built for the early States meta game, and once they adjust by maybe playing Spiritomb again, and putting alternate draw for Exeggutor, they will bounce back to their clear cut Top 2 position.
  • virizion-ex-plasma-blast-plb-96-full-artVirgen is a very interesting play right now. It has some absolutely dreadful matchups, but it has a lot of very strong matchups as well. If you look through the results closely, you will see most of Virgen’s wins being against Grass weak decks in the finals, that is Primal Kyogre EX, Seismitoad EX, and Primal Groudon EX decks. If you break down the meta into stuff that Virgen is really good against, and stuff Virgen is really bad against, I think it comes out to Virgen having very good matchups against 36.2% of the field, and really bad matchups against 19.3% of the field, with 8.9% of the field being the mirror match, and 35.6% being more even matchups. If you break this down over 7 rounds, on average a Virgen deck would get 7.602 match points off of good matchups, 0 from bad matchups, 0.9345 points off of the mirror, and 3.738 points from even matchups for a total of 12.2745 match points, so a little better than a 4-3 record on average just based solely on matchups. This is before taking player skill into account, which a highly skilled player (or conversely someone less skilled piloting the other deck) could turn those even and mirror matches into wins as well, which could put Virgen up to 16.947 match points, basically 17 or equivalent to a 5-0-2 record, good enough to guarantee cut. Knowing how bad of a matchup things like Night March and Flareon can be for Virgen is enough to scare a lot of players away, but the meta actually is pretty solid for Virgen decks right now.
  • Exeggutor is trending upwards. It obviously didn’t see much play the first three weekends of States, but it saw a lot more play in week 4 and put up good results, being the third most successful deck the last weekend of States. I think Exeggutor is definitely one of the Top 5 decks in the format (we have it ranked #4), but I think it will stall out at about the 3rd or 4th best deck at Spring Regional Championships. I think players will move towards decks with better matchups against it, and tech other decks to be better prepared it come Spring Regionals which will counter act the further increase in play it will see at those tournaments. I think it will also be limited in its growth of play as a result of players being uninterested in having to play the mirror match as well.

Diversity of the Format

Before we move on from the tier list, one thing that I want to point out is the diversity of the format. This is one of the most diverse format that I have played in, and I think that will make for some interesting things for Regional Championships. I will cover this more in depth later, but for now I just want to give a brief glimpse at just how diverse this format is. We have a total of 12 decks between Tier 1, Tier 2, and Tier 3, and they make up 83.3% of the meta game. This in itself lays the groundwork for a very diverse format, but there is still 16.7% or roughly 1/6th of the tournament field that is made up of decks that aren’t one of these 12 decks. This makes for a pretty absurd format that is hard to prepare for, as you never know what you might face. I will cover the full absurdity of this situation in a later section.

The Variation of Seismitoad EX Decks

seismitoad-ex-furious-fists-frf-20-ptcgo-1-312x441One thing I want to look at is the variation of the different Seismitoad EX decks in the format. I chose to lump together all Seismitoad EX variants together, as their primary strategy is to Item lock the opponent for almost the entirety of every game, while using Hypnotoxic Laser, Muscle Band, and Virbank City Gym to boost. Some choose to disrupt, others to heal, and some to further boost damage output, with some of them sharing these concepts, but the core of using Quaking Punch for the majority of the game while using LaserBank is shared between them.

The one exception to this is Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX, which I felt it important to separate out as some of these decks choose to put greater emphasis on Manectric EX (like 4/2 Manectric/Seismitoad split), while others choose to put a heavy emphasis on Seismitoad EX (with a 4/2 split in favor of Seismitoad). This made it difficult to classify it one way or the other as a Manectric EX deck or a Seismitoad EX deck. So here is how the decks that were listed as Seismitoad EX decks breakdown:

Deck 1st 2nd Top 4 Top 8 Total Toad Share Adj. Toad Share Meta Share Adj. Meta Share
Seismitoad EX/Slurpuff PHF 5 6 6 8 25 38.99% 36.10% 7.53% 6.09%
Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF 4 2 6 9 21 30.40% 32.49% 5.87% 5.48%
Seismitoad EX/Aromatisse XY 3 2 1 1 7 12.58% 13.66% 2.43% 2.30%
Seismitoad EX/Crawdaunt PCL 0 2 0 2 4 5.87% 9.17% 1.13% 1.55%
Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX 0 0 2 3 5 6.08% 4.88% 1.17% 0.82%
Seismitoad EX/Jynx 1 1 0 2 4 6.08% 3.71% 1.17% 0.63%

While the monolithic entity of the Seismitoad EX archetype can be considered Tier 1, none of the individual variants of the archetype are actually Tier 1 by themselves. Seismitoad EX/Slurpuff PHF and Seismitoad EX/Crobat PHF would fall into Tier 2 as the 6th and 8th best decks. None of the other Seismitoad EX decks performed well enough to be tiered if they were listed individually. The remaining Seismitoad EX variants listed in order would be ranked 14th, 17th, 21st, and 25th.

Breaking down these numbers, using the adjusted numbers, 50.15% of Seismitoad EX decks are based around disruption, 32.49% are based around supplemental damage, and 17.37% are based around healing.

aromatisse-xy-93Seismitoad EX/Aromatisse XY is a deck that was most likely just underplayed. It didn’t make it into many Top 8’s, but when it did, it reached the Top 4 85.7% of the time, the finals 71.4% of the time, and won the tournament 42.9% of the time.

Seismitoad EX/Crawdaunt PCL was very much a rogue deck, so it’s one that might see an increase in play now that it has a few successful results in for it. As far as Regionals are concerned, it would appear that Seismitoad EX/Garbodor DRX and Seismitoad EX/Jynx FFI will be irrelevant decks.

The Diversity of the Format

This is one of the most diverse formats that we have had. The number of decks that have been played and that have experienced some sort of success at State Championships has been very large. This creates a dilemma for the upcoming Regional Championships, as it can be very difficult to determine what to play if you don’t know what you’re going to play against. To help paint a clearer picture of this problem, I have put together two probability charts. Both charts use our adjusted meta share as the basis for the probability of playing against a certain deck.

The first chart shows the probabilities of playing against a given deck x number of times during a 9 round tournament.

Probability of Playing Against X Times Total Probability
Deck 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Play Not Play
Seismitoad EX 35.33% 27.53% 12.51% 3.66% 0.71% 0.09% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 79.84% 20.16%
Yveltal EX 38.56% 22.46% 7.63% 1.67% 0.24% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 70.58% 29.42%
Virizion EX/Genesect EX 38.70% 17.01% 4.36% 0.72% 0.08% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 60.87% 39.13%
Exeggutor 35.96% 11.46% 2.13% 0.25% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 49.83% 50.17%
Flareon PLF 35.21% 10.56% 1.85% 0.21% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 47.85% 52.15%
Donphan 34.17% 9.50% 1.54% 0.16% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 45.38% 54.62%
Fighting/Crobat PHF 32.80% 8.31% 1.23% 0.12% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 42.46% 57.54%
Primal Kyogre EX 26.75% 4.67% 0.48% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 31.93% 68.07%
Night March 26.48% 4.55% 0.46% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 31.52% 68.48%
Aromatisse XY 25.51% 4.14% 0.39% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 30.07% 69.93%
Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX 21.92% 2.85% 0.22% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 25.00% 75.00%
Bronzong PHF 19.78% 2.23% 0.15% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 22.17% 77.83%
Primal Groudon EX 16.59% 1.50% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 18.17% 81.83%
M Manectric EX/Water 14.67% 1.14% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 15.86% 84.14%
M Manectric EX/Black Kyurem EX 10.37% 0.54% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 10.93% 89.07%
Medicham PCL 8.23% 0.33% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 8.56% 91.44%
Empoleon DEX 8.11% 0.32% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 8.43% 91.57%
Virizion EX/Mewtwo EX 6.74% 0.22% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 6.96% 93.04%
Blastoise BCR 5.98% 0.17% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 6.15% 93.85%
Tool Drop 5.46% 0.14% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 5.60% 94.40%
Psychic/Crobat PHF 4.55% 0.10% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 4.64% 95.36%
TDK 4.15% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 4.23% 95.77%
Manectric EX/Crobat PHF 3.75% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.81% 96.19%
Plasma Lugia EX 3.48% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.54% 96.46%
M Manectric EX (Unspecified) 3.48% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 3.54% 96.46%
Big Basics 2.80% 0.04% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.84% 97.16%
Gengar EX 2.39% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.42% 97.58%
Manectric EX 2.25% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.28% 97.72%
M Manectric EX/Fighting 2.11% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 2.13% 97.87%
M Manectric EX/Leafeon PLF 1.98% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 1.99% 98.01%
Mew EX Tool Box 0.71% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.72% 99.28%
Hippowdon PCL/Fighting 0.71% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.72% 99.28%

The second chart shows the probability of playing against a deck at least x number of times.

Probability of Playing Against At Least X Times
Deck 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Seismitoad EX 79.84% 44.51% 16.98% 4.47% 0.81% 0.10% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00%
Yveltal EX 70.58% 32.02% 9.56% 1.93% 0.27% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Virizion EX/Genesect EX 60.87% 22.17% 5.16% 0.80% 0.09% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Exeggutor 49.83% 13.86% 2.40% 0.28% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Flareon PLF 47.85% 12.64% 2.07% 0.22% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Donphan 45.38% 11.21% 1.71% 0.17% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Fighting/Crobat PHF 42.46% 9.66% 1.35% 0.12% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Primal Kyogre EX 31.93% 5.18% 0.51% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Night March 31.52% 5.04% 0.49% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Aromatisse XY 30.07% 4.55% 0.42% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX 25.00% 3.07% 0.23% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Bronzong PHF 22.17% 2.39% 0.15% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Primal Groudon EX 18.17% 1.58% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
M Manectric EX/Water 15.86% 1.19% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
M Manectric EX/Black Kyurem EX 10.93% 0.55% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Medicham PCL 8.56% 0.34% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Empoleon DEX 8.43% 0.33% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Virizion EX/Mewtwo EX 6.96% 0.22% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Blastoise BCR 6.15% 0.17% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Tool Drop 5.60% 0.14% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Psychic/Crobat PHF 4.64% 0.10% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
TDK 4.23% 0.08% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Manectric EX/Crobat PHF 3.81% 0.07% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Plasma Lugia EX 3.54% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
M Manectric EX (Unspecified) 3.54% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Big Basics 2.84% 0.04% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Gengar EX 2.42% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Manectric EX 2.28% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
M Manectric EX/Fighting 2.13% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
M Manectric EX/Leafeon PLF 1.99% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Mew EX Tool Box 0.72% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Hippowdon PCL/Fighting 0.72% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

From these two charts, an immediate problem presents itself. There are only three decks in the format (Seismitoad EX, Yveltal EX, and Virizion EX/Genesect EX) that you are more likely to play against than you are to not play against them. Outside of those decks, every other deck in the format, you are more likely not to play against them in a nine round tournament than you are to play against them.

The second chart shows the probabilities of playing against a given deck at least x number of times. This could be fine, except for the fact that out of these decks you are more likely not to play against any of them twice than you are to play against them twice. This means that most players will probably be playing against 7, 8, or 9 different decks during the 9 rounds of Spring regional Championships.

However, a way to work around this is to condense our format down and then re-adjust the numbers further. To do this, I will take the 12 decks that made the tier list and condense the format down to just those decks. When doing that, we get the following probability charts.

Probability of Playing X Times Total Probability
Deck 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Play Not Play
Seismitoad EX 31.02% 29.96% 16.88% 6.12% 1.48% 0.24% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 85.73% 14.27%
Yveltal EX 36.62% 26.18% 10.92% 2.93% 0.52% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 77.24% 22.76%
Virizion EX/Genesect EX 38.89% 20.84% 6.51% 1.31% 0.18% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 67.74% 32.26%
Exeggutor 37.91% 14.63% 3.30% 0.48% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 56.36% 43.64%
Flareon PLF 37.38% 13.58% 2.88% 0.39% 0.04% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 54.27% 45.73%
Donphan 36.59% 12.30% 2.41% 0.30% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 51.63% 48.37%
Fighting/Crobat PHF 35.46% 10.85% 1.94% 0.22% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 48.49% 51.51%
Primal Kyogre EX 29.82% 6.27% 0.77% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 36.92% 63.08%
Night March 29.56% 6.11% 0.74% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 36.47% 63.53%
Aromatisse XY 28.59% 5.57% 0.63% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 34.85% 65.15%
Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX 24.87% 3.88% 0.35% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 29.13% 70.87%
Bronzong PHF 22.59% 3.06% 0.24% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 25.91% 74.09%

 

Probability of Playing At Least X Times
Deck 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
Seismitoad EX 85.73% 54.71% 24.74% 7.86% 1.74% 0.26% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00%
Yveltal EX 77.24% 40.62% 14.44% 3.52% 0.59% 0.07% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Virizion EX/Genesect EX 67.74% 28.85% 8.01% 1.50% 0.19% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Exeggutor 56.36% 18.45% 3.82% 0.53% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Flareon PLF 54.27% 16.89% 3.31% 0.43% 0.04% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Donphan 51.63% 15.05% 2.74% 0.33% 0.03% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Fighting/Crobat PHF 48.49% 13.03% 2.18% 0.24% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Primal Kyogre EX 36.92% 7.10% 0.83% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Night March 36.47% 6.91% 0.80% 0.06% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Aromatisse XY 34.85% 6.26% 0.68% 0.05% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Seismitoad EX/Manectric EX 29.13% 4.25% 0.37% 0.02% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
Bronzong PHF 25.91% 3.32% 0.25% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%

Unfortunately, as most of the probabilities are just over 50 percent, they still don’t tell us too much. Trying to figure out an accurate picture of your nine round tournament is near impossible in this format. If I were to try to figure out my tournament, I would expect to play against 2 Seismitoad EX decks, 1 Yveltal EX deck, 1 Virizion EX/Genesect EX deck, and then after that, I would be left in mystery to what I would be playing against.

flareon-plasma-freeze-plf-12We now have six decks that we are more likely to play against than we are to not play against, with those decks being Seismitoad EX, Yveltal EX, Virizion EX/Genesect EX, Exeggutor, Flareon, and Donphan. Additionally, we are now more likely to play against Seismitoad EX twice than we are not to play against it twice. A lot of the success that results from this format can come down to what decks you get paired against. With such diversity, you can’t accurately predict what you will be playing against, so you just have to hope that you get paired against some of your better matchups.

I think the notion that this is solely a matchup based format is overblown, however. For some decks, this is certainly the case, and that is apparent based on their uneven showings. However, for most decks, not enough of the format is considered a terrible matchup, so perhaps what this format would better be referred to is the 50/50 format, as most of your matchups will be somewhat even matchups. There are two ways to look at this, this format is either a luck format, as most of your matchups are coin flip results, or alternatively as a high skill format, where the best prepared players are able to flip more 50/50 matchups into their favor than their opponent.

My personal inclination would be towards the latter. I think throwing the format away to just being luck is often an excuse to cover up for not doing enough testing, having misguided thoughts on strategy, or making mistakes during the deck building process. Luck will always play some role in terms of matchups or a game breaking your way or not, but overall, I think this is overblown and that the format usually rewards the players that are best prepared to do well headed into the tournament.

Conclusion

This is one of the most diverse formats that Pokemon has probably ever had. Out of the top 12 decks, I wouldn’t fault anyone for choosing any of them to bring to a tournament to try to win it with. The card pool is extremely deep, and everything has a hard counter and multiple soft counters available for players to use to try to beat those decks, so it’s difficult for anything to become overly dominant in this format when there is always a counter for others to use against that deck.

My advice for Spring Regionals would be to settle on a couple of decks, and then just extensively test those decks and make alterations to your deck list to try to better deal with different decks. I think there are a lot of small changes to existing decks that can be made to completely turn around certain matchups. I think the players that ultimately do well at Regionals will be the players who are able to best utilize minor techs, along with the players that are best prepared to combat a large variety of matchups.

I don’t think you will be able to accurately predict your matchups for the upcoming tournament series, so it will be best to choose something good that you enjoy playing and can play well, and I think that will give you the best shot at doing well at Spring Regionals.

Featured Image Credits to maylara on DeviantArt

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