State of the Metagame: Part 1 of 2
As many players anxiously await the release of World Tournament and the oncoming limitation of The Legendary Flute, I wanted to reflect upon the evolution of the last format for three major reasons
1.) To help brainstorm how to be successful at ARG Ohio this upcoming weekend.
2.) To help people brainstorm how to be successful at any Store Preliminaries coming up
3.) To reflect upon the evolution of the format and use it as a learning point on making metagame reads
4.) To set up for Part 2 of this article, exploring the implications of the additions to the format.
History of the Format:
Prior to the release of Ultimate Box, players such as Danny Hype and myself found a lot of success playing the Blue Red SS3; generally a midrange deck designed around resolving Chain Attack Trunks+ Zen-Oh the Plain God before following up with cards like Saiyan Onslaught Kefla, Foreseeing Hit, and Burst Attack Gohan to close out games at a more simplified state. To combat this, players like Marcell Russell and Marquis McKinney succeeded with very fast Red Blue Hirudegarn variants.
For the first weekend of events, RB SS3 was the most dominating deck in the format. Chain Attack Zen-Oh being both the games best comeback combo and the game’s best answer to Barrier, the deck feels capable of winning any game that goes to turn 3. However, players found that by ‘going under’ SS3, the monster of RB SS3 could be addressed.
While players like Marcell Russell and later Nick Brady was able to combat Red Blue SS3 with fast RB Hirudegarn, that deck largely went by the wayside with the advent of Blue Yellow Hirudegarn. Players like Chris Welch and Markus Kantarci then dominated the Cali regional. By being able to invalidate opposing players with a 2-turn, one-sided game, there was a time the deck felt nigh invincible. I like to refer to it as an “unfair deck.”
While the aforementioned decks have demonstrated an overwhelming dominance of the metagame, various ‘anti storm’ decks attempted to emerge. Decks such as Mono Blue SS3, largely inspired by Rob Russo’s previous success and Blue Green SS3 that was promoted by players like Matt Coombs, tried to counter these fast-paced ‘Unfair decks’ While these “Anti-unfair” decks did manage to compete with BY rush at some extent, there was a problem. Those ‘anti-unfair’ decks were fair decks in and of themselves, and as such, tended to lose to the best fair deck in the format- RB SS3.
What we see here, is what I’ve learned to refer to as a “revolving door” metagame. Unlike a Rock Paper Scissors metagame that players like Dusty O’Brian discusses here , a revolving door meta has a distinction in which the matchups can be so lopsided, that a player has to hedge their success on knowing any deck they take to an event has a hard counter. Normally, a player excels in a meta like this by properly gauging where the door is revolving and chooses their deck accordingly. If all the average and good players netdeck last weekend’s regional and plays BY Hiru, great players will play mono Blue or BG SS3. The best players will generally hedge their bets on playing RB SS3 in these situations, hoping they can outplay their bad matchups in early rounds and have the matchup advantage in later rounds and top cut against the best players.
However, if players can find decks and tech choices that allow them to fulfill two of those three roles, they could mitigate their bad matchups. Current Metagame:
In the last two weeks, we have seen players find way to mitigate that. These Blue Yellow rush players started transitioning their leader to SS3. Players like Ben Lodise and Eon Hill were able to win their respective regional events. While BY Hiru and BY Trunks may lose to things like Trio de Dangers Bergamo and Awe-Inspiring Vegito, BY SS3 can support cards like Mafuba, Courageous Heart Yajirobe to, and to address the decks weaknesses, while also being able to support Nimbus and defensive Senzu Bean in a way Hiru or Trunks may not be able to.
By being able to be both a “unfair deck” and a “fair deck with anti-unfair cards” BY SS3 has been able to break the cycle and improve it’s matchup spread. However, spreading yourself thin in this way leaves a pilot vulnerable as it is generally at the sacrifice of the decks ceiling (SS3 BY Can’t win on turn 2 nearly as often as Hiru, especially through hard counters). If a player is able to find another deck that can complete two of the three roles in our “revolving door”
So where do we go from here? What should you play this weekend? Deck Recommendations for the weekend of 9/15/18:
In my opinion, I think that there are two anti-metagame decks that need to be explored: RB Hiru, and RB SS3 that chooses to main deck Bergamo over Chain Attack Trunks:
RB Hiru is a deck that has fallen out of popularity, but may be due for a resurgence. We saw BR Trunks pilots earn top cuts at Richmond over the weekend. The deck is a reasonable choice because it maintains the turn 2-3 KO power that we see from other fast Flute decks, but has invaluable access to Chain Attack Trunks+Zen-Oh that allows it to compete with slow decks that focus on Barrier. These decks are, however, more vulnerable to Flying Nimbus than other rush variants. Nothing surprising about this list, any low-to-the ground BR Hiru deck makes a lot of sense to me this weekend. I’d keep CAZ to the side deck, though.
Similarly, I would love to see SS3 decks evolve more to compete with the meta. While some players are having success with main decking multiple copies of Awe-Inspiriting Intimidator SSB Vegito, I think players could further push the deck by moving Chain Attack Trunks to the side, and focusing on Majin Defier West Supreme Kai to set up Bergamo or Vegito as early as turn 2. While still being able to compete in the mirror with cards like Digging Deep Vegeta, Foreseeing Hit, and Burst Attack Gohan. Players can then be comfortable sacrificing their game 1 against BG SS3 in exchange for a strong matchup games 2 and 3. This comes at a cost though; it’s not always reasonable to finish three games in an hour. Make sure you consider this before going that route. After this weekend, we’ll see a lot of changes. BY takes a major hit, BR gets a slight buff, and I think a lot of leaders that were previously too slow for the format will make a resurgence. Check in next time for a discussion where we discuss the impact (or lack there of, accordingly to most) of World Tournament on the format!