It’s been a while, SixPrizes readers! The Pokémon World Championships are coming up within the next couple of weeks, which means that the 2015–2016 competitive season is also finally coming to an end. I can’t say that I’m sad to see this rotation happen, as I’ve never truly been this frustrated with a Format in the Pokémon Trading Card Game in my many years of competitive play.
Games have often essentially ended on the first turn, mainly through a Night March deck dominating over an opponent with massive attacks raining down from the get-go of the match. If Joltik and Pumpkaboo aren’t the responsible ones for these quick game-ending maneuvers, then it could be the work of the many Item-locking decks available to shut down an opponent from the first turn of the game (Trevenant, Vespiquen/Vileplume, Seismitoad).
Regardless of who is responsible for these extremely quick games that have kept occurring in competitive play, the rotation will bring new life and wash away the intense amount of speed that has been disrupting the current format. We can once again look forward to playing a match of Pokémon knowing that a good amount of skill will be required to find victory. This is much prefered over current instances of finding a Wally to get a first-turn Trevenant to seal the game, inevitably deterring both players from having a fun series.
. . .
Not only do we have a new rotation to look forward to, but The Pokémon Company has also dropped a bombshell about the upcoming Play! Pokémon changes that are on the way for the 2016–2017 competitive season! Without a doubt, this has been one of the most exciting developments for the Pokémon Trading Card Game in a long time. Larger prize pools were announced along with complete shifts in the tournament structure incorporating a more homogeneous schedule and a higher number of Tournaments for each player to enter.
What a time to be playing Pokémon! Even just the news of this completely different structure is bringing some well-known players out of retirement to begin playing again, which speaks to the magnitude of these changes.
Even though the World Championships are coming up soon and there is plenty to talk about with the current format, I’ve decided to focus this entire article on the upcoming changes to competitive play and looking forward to the new Standard format after rotation. With such great content out already about the upcoming World Championships and with most archetypes already covered, I feel like any reviews of possible options would be a little repetitive at this point.
After analyzing the big changes that are coming into play for the 2016–2017 competitive season, I’ll look toward the new Standard format and determine just how much it will slow down from some key cards being rotated. Russell LaParre gave some great initial thoughts and preliminary descriptions of possible changes that will happen after the rotation, which I will now look into with greater depth. After seeing how the format will look to shape out, I’ll go over three possible decks to play in the new Standard format that could make a major impact, with two of these decks showing off brand-new attackers from Steam Siege.
Enough introduction. Let’s get into the article!
Big Play! Pokémon Changes
I’m sure that everyone has seen or heard about the major changes that are going to occur in the upcoming 2016–2017 competitive season which were published Monday on Pokémon.com. Almost everything in the press release is extremely good news that will lead to a brighter future for this game, especially the larger cash payouts and higher number of tournaments for everyone to play in.
I’ll break down each of these huge changes and discuss what they mean for the new competitive season (compared to previous seasons). Every single change that TPCi is making this new season will basically be a test-run for future competitive seasons, so be sure to go and show them some love by playing in as many tournaments as possible and supporting this game. They’re making these changes to benefit the players and help the community grow!
1. No More Nationals; Now Zone Championships
European, North American, Latin American, and Asia Pacific Championships will be the replacement for the current National Championships that have happened every year. These four areas are the four core ratings zones that the game has implemented. Each of these zones will now have a huge event that will take place throughout the season and be open to all players worldwide, which is huge news to hear about.
Up until recently, players haven’t been allowed to play in National-level events in different countries (aside from the European Challenge Cup, I believe). This could open the gates for players to travel into different core rating zones and possibly try to capture titles and bring them back to their home soil. Although this may seem improbable from the large amount of travel that would be required, Sydney Morisoli won the ECC this year during her travels to Europe and brought the title back to the United States for the Senior Division. Anything could be possible with these limitations being lifted to compete.
In the announcement, the wording is a little confusing on how many events will actually take place for these championships. Some have interpreted it as meaning that multiple intercontinental-level events will be taking place throughout the season, while others have understood this to mean just one huge intercontinental-level event for each core rating zone. In my opinion, it seems as though there will be just one huge event that will now occur for each of the four core rating zones, which will act as the “National Championship” of that zone.
Exact wording for reference: “The European Championships, North American Championships, Latin American Championships, and Asia Pacific Championships will take place throughout the season and are open to all players worldwide.”
These tournaments will boast a very large prize pool of nearly $250,000 per event while also still handing out huge Championship Point payouts as well. Travel Awards and Stipends will still be available for these events, similar to previous seasons with National Championships, and will be based on a player’s Championship Point performance in their home rating zone.
Based on the information that we have about these tournaments, I have one prediction that will almost certainly come true: these championships will be the largest tournaments that the Pokémon community has ever seen in terms of attendance. The record for attendance was just recently set at the US National Championships (1,105 Masters), which will only look to grow as Canadian and Mexican players join along. With more details to be announced later on in the season, all signs are pointing up for these new large-scale tournaments for the 2016–2017 competitive season.
2. Regionals Spread Out, Bigger Prizes
Every Regionals will now offer more than $50,000 in prize money, scholarships, and Travel Certificates that are going to be based on the attendance of that event.
Many years ago, Regional Championships actually gave out scholarships to players that performed well, rewarding them with a monetary gain of some kind. This form of reward is coming back and will look to make winning these Regional Championships more prestigious. Bigger cash payouts will bring higher levels of competition, which makes for exciting tournaments to watch unfold.
Not only are these tournaments going to hand out more money to players that perform well, but they are also going to be more evenly dispersed throughout the season (instead of clumped together during multiple weekends in a row three times per year). This should allow for more players to attend each of these events and lessen the immediate costs of traveling, which has been a huge problem for the Pokémon community in recent years. Attendance for these events will surely rise and make for larger Regional Championships than ever seen before.
Another surprising change is that these new Regional Championships also have the opportunity to be played in the Standard format. This is going to be a major shift from the previous Regional Championships played in the Expanded format. Regionals are sure to be more exciting than ever in this upcoming season!
3. League Cup Events = New City Championships
City Championships have come with huge upside for most competitive players, as they provide a good amount of Championship Points and are also all clumped together in the same few months. It was announced that participating hobby stores will be eligible to host one League Cup event per quarter, which means that there could be up to four events at the same store throughout the year. This will provide plenty of opportunities for players to earn Championship Points from stores in their area.
One troubling thought that comes to mind when hearing about these changes to City Championships would be whether or not Marathons still fit in this new competitive season. Since each hobby store can now host only one League Cup event per quarter, most Marathon organizers may be out of luck in terms of finding venues that are close in proximity and can coordinate effectively enough to hold a Marathon.
Also, some Marathons (such as the Georgia Marathon) host a good amount of their tournaments at random venues that they can secure which are not hobby stores. An example that everyone seems to love would be the tournaments that are run out of Stevie B’s Pizza during the Marathon. Although most players enjoy the delightful combination of pizza and Pokémon, others are more excited to be returning to hobby stores and not having to play competitively at a fast-food restaurant.
To bring together these changes that are occurring …
- TPCi is making tournaments easier for every player to attend with more even spacing of large-scale tournaments throughout the season.
- League Cup events will be almost identical to City Championships, aside from only being played in hobby stores now, and could also have a huge impact with the possible disappearance of Marathons.
- Regional Championships will have bigger cash payouts and prizes and will look to have huge attendance numbers. These events, just like League Cups, will also be more evenly spaced out throughout the year.
- State Championships and National Championships will no longer occur.
- Finally, the four core rating zones will hold large-scale tournaments that host all players worldwide and award a huge prize pool of nearly $250,000 per event.
Nothing but positive changes coming for the upcoming 2016–2017 competitive season!
So now that we’ve looked at all the big changes that are upcoming, we need to start working on decks that could be used at these tournaments. With the PRC-on rotation shifting so many important cards out of the format, there are going to be changes that come with deck-building and playstyles.
But before I go over the decks for the new Standard format, we need to talk about the rotation and how to adjust to the much slower speed that comes along with it.
Implications of the Rotation
From the iconic catchphrase of Donald Trump’s presidential run … “Let’s make this format great again.” I’m not too big on politics but I’m pretty sure that’s what he said, which must have been specifically a reference to the rotation and leaving behind Night March, Trevenant, and other detrimental cards that ruined the fun of playing Pokémon.
Upon first glance, PRC-on looks to be a healthy format that will not be decided upon the first turn of any game. This will allow for players to enjoy the games and battle throughout the entirety of the match, instead of losing to a first-turn Item lock shutting down their hand completely. A much slower format will also allow an opportunity for Evolution-based cards now that they can’t just be destroyed by a Night March deck and will actually have some time to set up for an intended strategy.
Russell did a great job of presenting all of the important cards that are being rotated out which honestly saved me a lot of time from searching through all the sets and could do the same for you. Make sure to check out his list of notable cards that we are losing in preparation for the rotation.
Just to highlight again some of the more important cards exiting stage left, these are the concepts that are shifting and the resulting impact their dismissal will have.
This article — “Great Again” – On the Big Play! Pokémon Changes, Rotation Implications, and Three Decks That Could Dominate New Standard — was originally published on SixPrizes.
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