This past weekend the 2016 World Championships concluded with Shintaro Ito (Japan) using his Mega Audino EX deck to take down Cody Walinksi (USA/Wisconsin) and his Greninja BREAK deck in the finals of the Masters Division.
In this article I will be covering the action of this year’s World Championship and then going over my so-so tournament with a not quite all there Greninja BREAK deck.
The World Championship Top 8
Here is the Top 8 from the Masters Division at the 2016 World Championship:
1. Shintaro Ito (Japan) – M Audino EX/Magearna EX/Cobalion STS
2. Cody Walinski (United States) – Greninja BREAK/Talonflame STS
3. Sam Hough (United States) – Vileplume Ninja Box
4. Ross Cawthon (United States) – Vespiquen AOR/Yveltal XY
5. Bert Wolters (Netherlands) – Greninja BREAK/Talonflame STS
6. Brad Curcio (United States) – Night March/Vespiquen AOR
7. Luca Shuster (Austria) – Night March/Vespiquen AOR
8. Gustavo Wada (Brazil) – Bronzong PHF/Genesect EX/Aegislash EX/Cobalion STS
For a full look at the results and meta game of the 2016 World Championships check out our results page, where we have a listing of all the entire Top 32 and lots of other good information about this year’s World Championship.
Mega Audino’s Magical Weekend
A funny thing seems to happen every time a rogue or surprise deck does well at a tournament. Even though it’s usually a single person or single team of players that does well with the deck, after the tournament has concluded a number of players come out of the woodwork talking about how they had been testing the deck and almost played the deck for the tournament, but then for some reason or other they ended up not playing it. In all my time in the game, people are usually dismissive of the far out their and non-conventional ideas…until they perform in someone else’s hands. It’s very rare that for a far out concept like M Audino EX there were many players who even bothered putting together a list for the card.
I will say for myself, there were a lot of things that I had imagined might happen at the World Championships, but not even in my wildest dreams was Mega Audino EX winning the World Championship to be one of those possibilities that might happen over the weekend.
Perhaps just as spooky as Mega Audino EX winning is Japan’s consistency in winning the World Championship every 6 years, taking home the champion title in 2004, 2010, and now 2016.
Here is the list that Shintaro Ito used to take 1st place at the 2016 World Championships:
Pokemon – 13
4 Audino EX
Trainers – 37
4 Professor sycamore
4 VS Seeker
2 Parallel City
Energy – 10
Even though the event has already concluded and we already know that the deck won the tournament, it still feels very hard to believe that this deck actually went all the way and won. Ultimately, the best I can come up with is that Mega Pokemon that can 2HKO anything (and OHKO smaller stuff) that have lots of HP are poised to be solid decks no matter what.
I think M Audino EX slots into the format very similarly to how M Manectric EX decks have for the past 1 3/4 seasons. That is, it is a Mega Pokemon that sets up on the second turn of the game, which has lots of HP making it hard to OHKO, and which 2HKO’s everything, while OHKO’ing most Basic non-EX and Stage 1 Pokemon that see play. However, M Audino EX also has the snipe, allowing it to actually start pulling ahead in the prize race, making it a stronger Pokemon in this meta role than M Manectric EX could ever hope to be.
You can see Shintaro building around this idea of having an advantage in the prize trade with his inclusion of 2 Parallel City, allowing him to eliminate liabilities like Shaymin EX from his bench, preventing his opponents from being able to prize gain on easy EX knockouts.
I also think choosing to pair it with a Metal support engine is a stroke of brilliance. For example, when putting M Audino EX and Greninja decks side by side, I think most would immediately assume that Greninja has the advantage because M Audino doesn’t OHKO a Greninja BKP, and you can negate the snipe somewhat because of Rough Seas. However, Greninja is also very slow to setup, and often relies on Froakie’s Bubble and Jirachi’s Stardust to stall for time until it can evolve into its Stage 2’s and BREAKs. Playing Magearna EX in this deck takes away those stall options making it difficult for Greninja decks to keep up with M Audino EX, which will start swinging turn 2 in most games.
While the finals was heavily one-sided because of Cody’s trash hands so no real conclusions should be drawn from that match, I had heard through the grapevine that in their testing the night before the finals, M Audino EX had the clear edge in the matchup.
I’m also a really big fan of the Cobalion STS tech. It’s a good option to stall for time during your setup with Quick Guard, and can steal a game for you with its Revenge Blast attack, setting that up with a Quick Guard alongside a late game N, forcing Basic decks to have Lysandre or Pokemon Ranger to take a knockout that turn (and if it’s an N to 2, Cobalion will only put them down to 1 prize, and could theoretically be used to give you time to setup another Mega Audino EX to finish the game with, as well as open up the opportunity to N the opponent to 1 if they choose to use Pokemon Ranger to knockout the Cobalion).
Greninja takes 2nd Place…again
In the end, Greninja ended up being taken out in the finals to a Mega Pokemon….this story sounds familiar. I remember Wednesday prior to the World Championship when my team was talking about playing Greninja we were talking about the anime, with the Japanese language episode that concludes the Kalos League set to be uploaded online by the next day.
In the episode that concludes the Kalos League, Ash is battling Alan in the finals of the Kalos League, attempting to win at a Pokemon League tournament for the first time in the anime. Ash has three Pokemon, Pikachu, Goodra, and Greninja left to Alan’s two Pokemon, Bisharp and Charizard. Anyone who has watched the XYZ anime series could easily predict that the Pokemon League final would come down to a battle between Ash’s Greninja and Alan’s Mega Charizard X.
Headed into the final episode of the anime, we predicted that if Ash won the Kalos League with Greninja, then Greninja would go on to win the World Championship. If Greninja lost, then Greninja wouldn’t win the World Championships. In natural Ash fashion, he choked and Mega Charizard ended up defeating Greninja.
So naturally, reality would choose to imitate art and Greninja would go on to finish 2nd place at the World Championships as well, getting beaten by a Mega Pokemon deck. While M Audino is certainly surprising and cool it would have been 1000x more hype if Shintaro had been piloting a M Charizard EX (X) deck and taken down Greninja with that, but that’s asking a little too much.
Anyhow, back to Greninja.
Before I get into analyzing Cody’s list, I want to talk about Greninja as an archetype and how we got to the point where it finished 2nd at the World Championships, despite little hype surrounding the deck headed into the tournament.
During the lead up to the World Championships, Greninja had become the most hyped deck in the format. I think it was the top deck on a lot of team’s boards, and I for example ranked it as my #1 deck for US Nationals. And then the Origins Win a Trip tournament happened where Greninja was a no-show in the Top 8 and to make matters worse, Garbodor variants of Darkrai EX made up half of the Top 8. After this tournament, Greninja saw a massive decline in popularity and had very little showing at the US National Championship.
What I think ended up happening is there was a lot of misdirection in the community following Origins that led to Greninja being written off, while a thoughtful analysis of that tournament should have noted that the meta game at the tournament was very hostile towards Greninja and wouldn’t be representative of most tournaments, and also that none of the best players in that tournament chose to play Greninja, and if the best players aren’t playing a deck, then it’s probably not going to do well at a given tournament.
I get a similar feeling about Greninja as I did about Night March headed into the World Championship last season. Following the ban of Lysandre’s Trump Card, the initial talk was about how Night March would be amazing, but then none of the top players played it at US Nationals finding many flimsy reasons for why it wasn’t the play. In actuality, if any Top 50 player had played Night March for the National Championship and then figured out how to play against Wailord EX after Day 1 of the tournament, it could have been a very easy ride to a National Championship. After the National Championship you had a lot of players kicking themselves for not more seriously considering Night March, and then using it at the World Championships to good success.
While I don’t think Greninja is nearly as strong as Night March was last year, I do think it’s very similar in that it should have saw much more play at US Nationals than it ended up doing, and then it was properly adjusted into its proper meta positioning at the World Championship.
Here is the list that Cody used for the World Championship:
Pokemon – 18
4 Froakie BPT
Trainers – 32
4 Professor Sycamore
4 Dive Ball
3 Rough Seas
Energy – 10
As for Cody’s list, the first thing to note is that he played 4 Talonflame STS. This was an inclusion in all of the top performing Greninja decks of the weekend. It gives you a great starter that you start in the majority of your games with the 4 count, lets you mulligan away sub optimal hands (you can choose to mulligan a hand with Talonflame and no Basic Pokemon, as you aren’t forced to play down Talonflame since it’s not a Basic), and gives you a good consistency booster in the early game and against Item lock decks.
Similar to Michael Slutsky’s National Championship list, this list has a heavy count of Bursting Balloon. Bursting Balloon is very good in Greninja decks and is effectively the same as a Giant Water Shuriken any time you force your opponent to attack into a Pokemon with Bursting Balloon, lessening the number of Abilities and attacks you need to perform to win a game.
My favorite inclusion in Cody’s list is the two Splash Energy. In discussions about Greninja with my team, going back to State Championships, I would commonly bring up how stupid it is that no one was playing Splash Energy in their deck, the card is just so good, and one of the things I considered to be one of the strongest aspects of the Greninja archetype. With Greninja decks, you want to keep a stream of Stage 2 and BREAK Greninja going throughout the game, and Splash Energy makes it much easier to do that. When a Greninja BREAK with Splash Energy is knocked out, you simply put it all back in your hand, and then instantly play it down, evolving your Stage 2 into a BREAK, a Frogadier into Greninja, and a benched Froakie into Frogadier with no need for additional search to do any of that.
In addition to providing a great recursion option, I also feel that 8 Water Energy was always too few, and going up to 10 Energy total makes Greninja much more consistent in hitting the Energy to both attack and use Giant Water Shuriken during your turns.
With Cody’s 2nd place finish, his team from Wisconsin now has 2nd place in the two most prestigious events in the Pokemon TCG world, with Enrique Avila finishing 2nd at the National Championship last year.
Two Top 4 Surprises
To complete a look at the top end of the tournament, I want to briefly go over the two Top 4 decks which were a bit of a surprise.
Sam Hough’s Vileplume Ninja Box
Pokemon – 21
3 Oddish AOR
Trainers – 30
3 Professor Sycamore
4 Trainers’ Mail
4 Forest of Giant Plants
Sam’s variant of Vileplume that he used for a 3rd place finish reminds me a lot of some past Vileplume variants from the 2011-2012 season, such as the EX Truth deck and the Mismagius/Vileplume deck of the National Championship that year where those decks play a lot of different Pokemon aimed at countering specific matchups. The EX Truth used Reuiniclus BLW to move damage off an attacker, letting you choose the best attacker for a matchup and then tank it for the rest of the game. The Mismagius deck relied on Energy Trans and Seeker to deny prizes.
Sam’s deck has a bit of an easier setup than those two decks because once he has the right attacker going in a lot of matchups (Jolteon EX for Basic Pokemon, Glaceon EX for evolutions, and Aegislash EX for Special Energy decks) they simply can’t damage his Pokemon. Ninja Boy allows a deck like this to swiftly move between attackers to adjust from having the wrong Pokemon in play, as well as to abruptly shift gears to respond to your opponent’s developing strategy.
This deck was very cool to see, it’s an outstanding rogue deck that I think we will see copy and pasted into next season.
Ross Cawthon’s Vespiquen/Yveltal
Prior to this 4th place finish at the World Championship, Ross already had two 2nd place finishes under his belt at Worlds. Here is the Vespiquen/Yveltal deck list that Ross used to take 4th place at the World Championship.
Pokemon – 21
4 Combee AOR
Trainers – 29
3 Professor Sycamore
4 VS Seeker
Energy – 9
I’m not really sure what to make of this deck. I think Vespiquen AOR is very strong, probably the best attacker in the game, so as long as Battle Compressor is in format, any deck using it is poised to do quite well.
Looking at this list, I think that it was most likely built with an expectation that Trevenant BREAK decks would form a major part of the meta game. While this was a fair expectation headed into the World Championship, only 5 players ended up playing Trevenant BREAK during Day 2 giving it very little showing. I wonder if having known that Trevenant wouldn’t be a big factor if space could have been re-allocated in the deck to produce a Vespiquen variant that was a little better to push forward for that last bit needed to win it all.
I do think the decision to go low on Shaymin EX and instead rely on Octillery was a very smart decision. Night March was the most played deck at the tournament, and by taking away the easy prize outs on Shaymin EX, Ross was able to minimize the speed advantage, and then take advantage of the fact that the Night March players would likely have to play down their own Shaymin EX at some point in the game, allowing Ross to jump ahead in the prize trade.
It’s really hard to say though if that was actually the case, having not tested or played the deck myself. Just for example, I jumped back to add this paragraph after starting to write the section on the overall meta game. In there, I came to the realization that the Malamar EX was a very sneaky tech that could pay great dividends against Waterbox, allowing you to break the Item Lock by putting a Seismitoad EX to sleep or allowing you to OHKO a Glaceon EX, either through attacking with MAXamar or by putting it to sleep, getting rid of Glaceon EX’s effect and then knocking it out with a Vespiquen. There’s probably some more sneaky plays involved with this list that you won’t see until you heavily test it against the meta that existed at the World Championship.
For the rest of the Top 8 decks, check out Pokemon.com’s results page where they have full decklists for the Top 8 decks from the World Championship.
The Overall World Championship Meta Game
While Mega Audino was certainly the headliner of the tournament, it’s also important to look at the event as a whole. Thanks to David Hochmann, Mudkip Shore actually has a list of every deck that the players who didn’t drop during Day 2 played at the World Championship. By compiling this data, we can see what the meta game for the World Championship actually was.
Here were the top 10 most played decks at the World Championships:
1. Night March – 25 players (22.73%)
2. Waterbox – 18 players (16.36%)
3. Greninja BREAK – 12 players (10.91%)
4. Vespiquen – 11 players (10.00%)
5. Bronzong – 8 players (7.27%)
6. Trevenant BREAK – 5 players (4.55%)
7. Vileplume/Vespiquen – 4 players (3.64%)
T-8. 3 players each (2.73%) – M Audino EX, Volcanion EX, Yveltal/Zoroark, Seismitoad EX, Yveltal (non-Zoroark), and M Manectric EX.
What we can do with this information is compare it to how well the decks actually performed to how much they were played. Here are the top 10 decks based on the number of Championship Points each deck received from Top 32 finishes.
1. Night March – 28.57% (11 placements)
2. Greninja BREAK – 13.57% (3 placements)
3. M Audino EX – 12.86% (2 placements)
4. Bronzong – 10.71% (4 placements)
5. Vespiquen – 7.50% (2 placements)
6. Waterbox – 6.43% (3 placements)
7. Volcanion EX – 5.71% (2 placements)
8. Vileplume Tool Box – 5.00% (1 placement)
9. Vileplume/Vespiquen – 5.00% (2 placements)
T-10. 2.14% (1 placement) – Vileplume/Zygarde EX and M Sceptile EX
Night March was the most played deck at this tournament and for good reason, it was the best deck in the format and the best deck of the season. While only 22.73% of the field played it, it took 28.57% of the Top 32 Championship Points. Most amazing about this is that everyone knew Night March was the biggest threat headed into the tournament, yet it still managed to over perform even with the biggest target on its back.
Other overachieving decks were M Audino EX, Bronzong, Volcanion EX, and Vileplume/Vespiquen. Even though M Audino EX was a surprise to American and European players, it appears it wasn’t much of a secret in Japan, with Shin Akiyama, also from Japan, taking a 22nd place finish with the deck in addition to Shintaro’s win with the deck.
Waterbox was the 2nd most played deck during Day 2, but greatly under-performed. I’m not too surprised by this, the deck always felt like it had a lower ceiling power wise than some of the other top decks in the format, and it had a really sketchy Night March matchup, so it’s not too surprising to see a deck struggle when a sketchy matchup was the most popular deck. I think a deck like Waterbox was fine for getting through Day 1, where you were more likely to play against less than optimal lists, and encounter more opponent misplays, but come Day 2, when you’re playing against the best of the best, Waterbox’s low ceiling acted as a limiting factor for the deck.
The other big disappointment of the weekend was Trevenant BREAK. Not a single Trevenant BREAK deck made it into the Top 32 of the tournament, with the highest placing Trevenant deck all the way down at 50th place. Part of Trevenant’s downfall was a result of players using the new Shaymin EX promo that heals 20 damage from all of your benched Pokemon, mostly being included in Waterbox. Even with that, it wasn’t played in that many decks, and Waterbox was still only 16.36% of the meta (something you would expect to play against once), so there had to be some other factors at play for Trevenant’s poor performance. What those are, I can’t quite figure out.
Trevenant is set to rotate out of Standard. It will be interesting to see if players opt to include the Shaymin EX promo in their Expanded decks next season to hate Trevenant decks out of that format as well.
North America, Japan Excel
On our results page this year we ended up going through the standings to compile data on how each country ended up doing at the World Championship. This includes the number and percentage of players from each country, but also the number of players from a given country that advanced to Day 2, and how many top finishes each country got.
One thing everyone expects headed into the World Championship is for the United States and North American Rating Zone to perform well. This is widely considered to be the strongest region in the game and it rarely fails to live up to expectations. This year was no exception with the US/Canada Rating Zone making up 50% of the players that advanced to Day 2, outpacing their expected advancement share of 44.61%. Additionally, this zone earned 45% of the Championship Points (from Top 32 finishes) during Day 2 of the tournament, despite making up only 34.82% of the field. The North American rating zone took home 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place at the tournament too.
The only country to do better? That would be Japan. Japan had the highest advancement of any zone with 13.33% of their Day 1 players advancing onto Day 2, besting the US/Canada zone which was second best with a 10.90% advancement rate. In Day 2, Japan was also brilliant, taking home 25.71% of the Championship Points despite only comprising 13.39% of the field. And of course, Shintaro Ito won the entire tournament.
I think Japan came into the tournament with a big advantage this year as Pokemon chose to make Steam Siege legal for the World Championship, meaning that we were playing with a format that Japan had been playing in much longer than the rest of the world. I think this can also be seen in their deck choices.
For example, of the Day 2 players that made Top 32 from Japan, Shintaro Ito (1st) and Shin Akiyama (22nd) played M Audino EX variants, and these two also didn’t collaborate as evidenced by Shintaro playing Metal support and Shin playing Dark support, meaning M Audino EX is just a thing in Japan that people should worry about. Kojiro Tsuruta (10th) and Kazuki Kasahara (11th) both played Volcanion EX variants. These were new decks to the Western meta game that didn’t pop up until the World Championship. While Americans may have been unsure about a deck like Volcanion EX, it appears with extra months of preparation the Japanese were more than ready to use Volcanion EX in the XY-STS format.
My Tournament with Greninja
For the World Championship, I really struggled to find a deck that I liked headed into the tournament. No deck was quite clicking for me, and I was left scrambling less than a week out before the tournament to find the deck to play. About a week out I was set on playing Trevenant, but that started feeling like garbage. Eventually I settled on Greninja BREAK probably being the best deck, and decided to play that. Having decided on a deck very late, and having little time to prepare I didn’t get proper testing in for the tournament and ended up playing a sub-optimal list for the tournament.
Here was the list I played:
Pokemon – 17
4 Froakie BPT
Trainers – 33
4 Professor Sycamore
2 Random Receiver
4 Rough Seas
Energy – 10
This is mostly standard fare for Greninja (headed into the tournament) with two exceptions. The first being Random Receiver. We wanted to add some more consistency to the deck, and we found we weren’t using Wally or Lysandre very much, so we decided to cut them. We still wanted some additional consistency in our deck, so we decided to go with Random Receiver. In total, this gave us 14 draw Supporter outs (8 Supporters, 2 Random Receiver, 4 VS Seeker) with the 4 VS Seeker of course not being active until a Supporter had been played. With only 1 non-draw Supporter, that gave us an 88.9% probability of hitting a draw Supporter off an opening hand Random Receiver (or 100% if Fisherman was already in hand). Once our VS Seeker were active, we were generally fine in games.
The other special inclusion was Splash Energy, which I already covered above, great card for a Greninja deck. We also included 2 Hard Charm for the Waterbox matchup, preventing Grenade Hammer from OHKO’ing a Greninja BPT.
I’m not sure how I can go too in depth with a report for Greninja, but I will give brief recaps of my matches below from what I remember. It’s hard to give too good of a match recap for Greninja games because most games tend to boil down to “I got a really good setup and won” or “I got a bad setup and loss”.
Round 1 – Luciana Riego (Argentina) – Waterbox
In the first game, I got a fairly good setup while he had a bit slower setup than Waterbox typically gets and I was able to establish a good board position and take all my knockouts before he could take his. Game 2, I got completely steamrolled. In our testing, this is how the Waterbox matchup had typically played out. Greninja would typically had a small win percentage edge over Waterbox, but Greninja’s wins were very close, while Waterbox would completely demolish Greninja in its wins. In the third game, he hit a lot of tails on Articuno (I think he even went 0/3 on one Tri Edge) which took a lot of pressure off me in the early game allowing me to get setup and take control of the game.
Round 2 – Philipp Leciejewski (Germany) – Yveltal/Zoroark
These games weren’t really close. The Greninja vs. Yveltal/Zoroark matchup is super polarized in Greninja’s favor that there isn’t much the Yveltal/Zoroark player can do to change the outcome just because Greninja can limit Zoroark’s damage by not benching a lot of Pokemon, and can erase any Oblivion Wing with Rough Seas. Since Zoroark rarely takes a OHKO in the matchup, you can also do a lot of healing by retreating between Greninja’s. I don’t think my opponent messed up in any way in the matchup with his play in anyway to lose the match, it was just a very bad matchup for him and a very good one for me.
Round 3 – Brandon Jones (United States) – Vespiquen/Yanmega BREAK
In the first game I open a lone Froakie, don’t draw into another Pokemon and pass and then he donked me with Yanmega. In game 2, I got a really good setup and was able to target his Vespiquen’s with my Water Shurikens and use Shadow Stiching to prevent him from attacking with Greninja. In the third game, I prized 3 Frogadier and didn’t pull them out of the first two prizes I took and couldn’t find a way to win without them. Having not played Rare Candy in our list we left ourselves more open to being dicked by prized Frogadier compared to something like the Greninja list that Alex Hill played.
Round 4 – Lutz Rasmussen (Germany) – Vespiquen/Yveltal
In the first game I got a lot of Greninja BREAK onto the field very quickly and was able to take control of the game. It looked like I was going to be in good shape to win the second game after a good first two turns of the game, but then on my third turn when I played Random Receiver, I hit Fisherman instead of a draw supporter and never saw a draw supporter for the rest of the game and proceeded to lose despite a good early setup. Time was called very early in game 3, so it was a tie, which was essentially a loss at this point of the tournament.
Round 5 – Alessandro Santini (Italy) – Seismitoad EX/Greninja BREAK (XY)
Like Yveltal/Zoroark, this is a very one sided matchup in Greninja’s favor. Any Quaking Punch he does is wiped away from Rough Seas, so I win on the damage trade, and my deck isn’t overly reliant on Items either, limiting the effectiveness of Quaking Punch. Anytime he would use Grenade Hammer, he would open the floodgates of my Item cards, and unlike Waterbox, this deck was much slower in setting up Pokemon to attack with as it had to do so through manual attachment, which gave me plenty of time to setup. Additionally, while I could freely use my Abilities, I could choose to shut his Water Shuriken off with Shadow Stiching when I wanted to.
Round 6 – Yogie Surya (Indonesia) – Night March
I don’t remember the first two games completely, but I think in the first game I didn’t get a second Pokemon down turn 1 and then got donked. Second game I got a great setup and won. The third game was fairly close throughout, but I ended up hitting a supporter drought mid game, which opened up the path for him to take the advantage in the prize race. I tried to run him out of resources/buy time with my Jirachi, but he played both Escape Rope and Pokemon Catcher, so he was able to keep up a steady stream of knockouts when I was attacking with Jirachi. Additionally, he played Basic Energy, so he was heavy on the Energy resources, and actually won the game by taking a knockout with Mew and a Basic Energy. His Night March was very well built for dealing with all the Greninja that showed up to the World Championship.
LWL, 3-2-1 Drop
Ultimately, the majority of my losses at this tournament came down to drawing poorly at some point allowing my opponent to gain an advantage over my deck. I think this is mostly a result of a lack of preparation. While I played a lot of games of Pokemon between US Nationals and the World Championships, very few of them were with Greninja. If I had been able to identify Greninja as the play earlier, it would have given me the time to get in the 200+ testing games I usually try to get with a deck before a big tournament. Getting in those games would have allowed me to identify more of the weak points in my list, which are obvious when comparing it to the Greninja decks that did well, as well as decks in the format in general.
The most notable weakness of my list was a lack of non-Supporter based draw or universal search. This is something that pretty much every deck in the format has at the moment in the form of Shaymin EX. There are plenty of games where you draw fine and it’s not a concern that you don’t have that. However, there are a bunch of other games, maybe 1/3 to 1/4 of games that you play where you hit a dry spell on Supporters where you need to rely on something else to keep you going. Almost every other deck in the room had some other backup out, while I didn’t and just took a hard loss any time I hit a Supporter drought.
The most notable inclusion was Talonflame STS in Cody Walinski’s and Alex Hill’s Greninja decks. This gave them an option to go into and search out some type of out to these types of situations. While I think Talonflame is solid in this role, I think Octillery would have sufficed as well. Not including some type of Pokemon based draw or search was by far the biggest weakness of my list.
The other thing I think we messed up on is underrating the power of Bursting Balloon. Bursting Balloon is really good for playing damage catch up against the fast and aggressive decks of the format. I think we ended up underrating Bursting Balloon because of our previous testing with the card. My original Greninja list that I tested during State Championships had Bursting Balloon, but it ended up being very easy to play around with a deck like Night March where they would hit a Lysandre, Escape Rope, or Startling Megaphone to play around the Bursting Balloon. I think this previous testing was used as a justification for not giving Bursting Balloon more serious consideration in the deck, but this was very misguided as that testing was done before the release of N in Fates Collide, and it’s much more difficult for a deck to play around Bursting Balloon when you hit them with some hard N’s.
So ultimately, I think I already walked into the room with an inevitable losing day for Day 1 simply because my deck wasn’t up to par for a tournament with as strong of players and lists as the World Championships is.
While I didn’t very much like San Francisco as a city very much and thought it was a very poor choice to locate the World Championship as it was very sketchy and there was lots of open heroin and crack usage on the streets nearby the venue, the World Championship was still a fun time and was mostly fine once you were inside the venue. I do hope Anaheim ends up being a much nicer city for the World Championship next season however, San Francisco was a significant downgrade from previous World Championship locations like Washington D.C. and Boston the past couple of years.
It’s hard to tell how much the World Championship meta game will actually impact anything going forward. Expanded at this point is very different from Standard format, and the PRC-on Standard format will be quite different from the current Standard format, with the focal points of the format changing which can make decks that did well at the World Championship poorly positioned in the new format.
As for the World Championship decks that Pokemon will print, I think the set will be very easy to figure out this year. I would be shocked if they ended up printing anything other than the Junior winning Darkrai EX deck, the Senior winning Yanmega BREAK/Vespiquen deck, and the Masters finals of M Audino EX and Greninja BREAK. That’s four good and distinct decks, so to find a reason to go to any decks beyond those four would be strange.
This will mark the end of our coverage of the 2015-2016 tournament season and from now on we will be looking forward to the 2016-2017 season, with some upcoming surprises in store for the new season.