The Road to San Francisco — Picking a Deck for the World Championships

Hello ‘Beach readers! I’m back today to talk about deck choices for the World Championships, the most premiere event of the year. Worlds is just a few weeks away, so it’s time to bear down and crack the upcoming format. Even if you haven’t qualified for Worlds, this article will give you some insight into the thought process behind deck selection for a high profile tournament, a valuable skill to have in the year to come! I will also discuss the ways in which cards from Steam Siege will affect old favorites. So be sure to stay tuned!

Pokemon GO

I can’t wait to catch Pokemon in San Fran!

Before we get to it though, I want to say a bit about Pokemon GO. Pokemon GO has honestly been the most enjoyable gaming experience of my life. It was just revealed by Niantic that the game is only operating at about 10% of its projected functionality, making the future of the game very exciting with trading, Pokemon Centers, and increased gym battle functionality all on the horizon. I’ve seen more people out in their community, sharing experiences with Pokemon and exercising than I ever thought possible! I’m absolutely stunned.

Neither of my parents ever picked up a video game while I was growing up, which means they really didn’t understand Pokemon either, a game that brings a lot of joy to my life. Pokemon GO has changed that too. My mom is a children’s librarian. She downloaded Pokemon GO a couple weeks ago so that she could understand what the children at the Library were raving about; now she’s level 23 and has a Lapras and a Gyarados! She also wants me to show her how to play the card game next time I’m in town. I still can’t believe it. Pokemon GO has brought Pokemon back into the public eye so that even more people can fall in love with this franchise in the same way that I did 20 years ago, and I couldn’t be happier. Pokemon brings people of all ages from all over the world together. It has the ability to deepen friendships and create new ones. It’s a beautiful thing, and I’m more excited than ever to be a part of it.

At the time of my writing this, I am level 26 in Pokemon GO and I’m really excited to take my Pokemon journey across the country to San Francisco! My favorite part of the game, however, hasn’t been the catching or battling. It’s been the camera feature! Pokemon GO has allowed me to combine my love of art, fitness, and Pokemon into one outstanding hobby. I’ve been collecting photos of the Pokemon that I encounter on an Instagram account, and I’m trying to collect photos of all the Pokemon, just like in the Nintendo 64 title, Pokemon Snap! I’ve included photos I’ve captured throughout this article, and if you’d like to see more, feel free to check out my Instagram account; instinct_snap. But that’s enough about Pokemon GO. Time to get down to business!

Survey Says…

In preparation for this article I created a survey targeted at players who did not qualify for the World Championships. The goal of the survey was to find out what decks people would play if they had qualified for Worlds and why. I also inquired as to which decks players thought would be popular at the World Championships.

I decided to aim my survey towards non Worlds qualifiers since they would be more likely to participate and be truthful with their responses. Worlds qualifiers would not be likely to respond to my survey, and if they did, I wouldn’t expect them to reveal the whole truth of what they want to play!

Now I have my own network of Worlds qualifiers that I speak with regularly, so I have an idea of what some Worlds players are leaning towards for the competition, but I was interested to get an idea of what the masses thought. I think that it’ll be useful to combine what my personal network has been discussing with the responses offered from the 282 players who responded to my survey. This will give us a good picture as to what decks people are talking about the most going into the biggest weekend of the year!

Given the Opportunity to Play During Day One of the World Championships, What Deck Would You Play?

Unsurprisingly, the top selection among players was Night March. 56 Players or 20% selected Night March as their top deck for Worlds. An additional 19 players selected Night March / Vespiquen as their top deck, bringing the grand total of Night March players to 75 out of 282 or 27%. It’s worth noting that more players favor straight Night March even though Night March / Vespiquen won U.S. Nationals. This could be attributed to the consistency of straight Night March, but I think it also has something to do with the new cards coming out in Steam Siege which I will discuss later in the article.

Koffing is one of three Pokemon my dad knows. He loves that he attacks with “foul gas.”

The next most popular selection among players who participated in my survey was Trevenant BREAK, representing 36 players or about 13%. This is a huge drop-off from the massive 27% that selected Night March as their deck of choice, but still a respectable chunk of the field. With two iterations of Trevenant finishing in the Top 8 of U.S. Nationals, the deck has proven that it has the strength to wade through a huge tournament filled with Night March. It also appears to be the most favored Item-lock deck, outnumbering both Water Box and Vespiquen / Vileplume which earned 14 out of 282 (5%) and 11 out of 282 (4%) votes respectively.

Unexpectedly, Darkrai-EX / Giratina-EX was the third most favored deck with 29 out of 282 votes or 10%. The deck earned a Top 8 finish at U.S. Nationals, but I expected the hype behind Giratina-EX to die off a bit with the introduction of Pokemon Ranger, a Supporter card from Steam Siege that removes all effects of attacks from players and Pokemon. My survey takers were not deterred though, and continue to put a large amount of trust in the Renegade Pokemon.

The only other decks that earned over 5% of votes were Yveltal / Zoroark and Metal. Neither of these decks had huge finishes at U.S. Nationals, but they continue to be attractive choices because of their generally neutral existence within the metagame.

The remainder of the respondents selected from the huge pool of decks that our Standard format provides. Remaining deck selections ranged from the more mainstream Greninja BREAK to the more outlandish Latios-EX / Vileplume. With numbers smaller than 5%, you wouldn’t bet on playing versus any one of these decks in competition. But when you take all of the remaining decks into consideration as one, we see that 30% or almost a third of players would not be playing one of the most popular seven archetypes. In fact, players chose over 20 different decks when telling me what they would play at Worlds given the chance! With so many decks to choose from, we need to narrow our selection down to the few most optimal deck choices. Before we get into what I think, I want to take a look at the reasons my survey respondents provided for their hypothetical deck selections.

Why Did Players Choose Night March?

After asking what deck players would select for Worlds, I went on to ask why they made their selections. Night March players were pretty unified in their answers. 14 of 75 or about 19% of players said that the deck gets even stronger with the introduction of the new cards from Steam Siege. 14 out of 75 or 19% of players said that the deck was the best deck in format and 13 out of 75 (17%) pointed out that Night March was the most consistent deck in format. Many answers involved a combination of the above points.

Some players also went on to say that Night March boasts answers to everything, while another player pointed out that it can still beat its worst matchups if Night March wins the opening coin flip. It’s no wonder that Night March is a popular selection.

Why Did Players Choose Trevenant?

Night March’s popularity seems to have directly influenced the influx of players selecting Trevenant BREAK as their hypothetical Worlds deck. Of the 36 players that chose Trevenant, 14 or 39% mentioned that the deck gave them a good Night March matchup. That being said, many of the respondents that mentioned Night March did say that the matchup isn’t perfect, and is better if you go first.

Six players boasted about the power of turn one Item-lock in their responses, four said that Trevenant has good to even matchups across the board and two even called it the best deck in format. One player even mentioned that Trevenant BREAK’s attack, Silent Fear, gets better with Captivating Pokepuff, a new card from Steam Siege that reveals the opponent’s hand and allows you to choose as many Basic Pokemon that you find there and drop them to the opponent’s Bench. This card seems powerful alongside Trevenant’s Silent Fear, but I’m not sure that Trevenant has the deck space to accommodate this luxury.

Why Did Players Choose Water Box?

Poliwhirl along the Little Cuyahoga River in Akron!

With Night March at the head of the pack, Item-lock is a choice on many players minds. With Trevenant BREAK being the most popular Item-lock deck, some players are looking towards Water Box as a way to kill two popular birds with one stone.

Of the 14 players that selected Water Box as their would-be play, three of them said that it gives them a good shot versus Night March, three pointed to the power of Item-lock, three mentioned the deck’s versatility and three more said that they enjoyed the deck’s solid all around matchups. One mentioned that the deck gives them a good Trevenant matchup and four mentioned that they enjoy playing the deck.

I think it’s important that almost a third of players mentioned that they enjoy playing Water Box. This is probably because the deck is consistent, has a variety of options, and creates a number of skill intensive games between the pilot and their opponent, something that can’t be said about many of the front runners in this format. So many games in Standard are decided by the strength of a deck’s first turn, but Water Box is a unique deck in that it can go down by four Prizes and still squeak out wins with heads up play and well timed Ns. Because of this, Water Box continues to maintain a place on my shortlist of decks for Worlds.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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