One Week Til Worlds: Analyzing BKT-CST Tournaments

🖉 Tate Whitesell | @twhitesell42

We are now well into exploring the penultimate format of the 2017-18 season: BREAKthrough-Celestial Storm. With the 2018 World Championships just days away in sunny Nashville, Tennessee, players are hard at work trying to define the format and find that "broken" deck.

We've now had three major tournaments or groups of tournaments in this format: the 2018 ARG Invitational; a Team Win and In PTCGO tournament; and the August 18-19 weekend of League Cups. In this article, I'm going to break down the results of each of those.

Disclaimer: I'm not going to attempt to make concrete predictions about the Worlds metagame. That is best left to players with more experience and skill than myself. Rather, this article (and the links herein) is a resource that compiles results and statistics from recent tournaments, so that you can do your own research and come to a conclusion on what's "the play" for Worlds. 

ARG Invitational
Winning deck: Zoroark-GX Control
Top 16 deck breakdown:
  • 5 Zoroark-GX/Garbodor
  • Rayquaza-GX
  • 2 Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX
  • 2 Zoroark-GX Control
  • 1 Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor/Shrine of Memories
  • 1 Gardevoir-GX
  • 1 Naganadel-GX/Stakataka-GX
  • 1 Zoroark-GX/Counters/Magcargo

Coming off its win at the 2018 NAIC, Zoroark-GX/Garbodor continued to see success at the Invitational. All of the ARG lists cut the Kartana-GX that NAIC champion Stéphane Ivanoff used, and three of the five included an Oranguru UPR.

Speaking of Oranguru, Zoroark-GX Control, the Zoroark-GX/Oranguru/disruption deck used by Tord Reklev to reach the NAIC finals, took an early position as the "deck to beat" in this format, with the ARG finals featuring a Zoroark-GX Control mirror match. New lists for this archetype are including Magcargo CST, and some include multiple Crushing Hammer and/or a second Oranguru. However, as we will see in the rest of this article, the deck did not stay atop the format for long.

We saw three Rayquaza-GX decks in Top 16, each constructed slightly differently - mainly regarding the Tool cards used. One played Wishful Baton; one played Fighting Fury Belt; and one played a split of Wishful Baton and Choice Band. None of the Rayquaza-GX decks advanced to Top 8.

ARG also introduced us to the Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor/Shrine of Punishment/Rainbow Energy archtype. The deck plays no EX or GX Pokémon and relies on building up damage with Buzzwole and Shrine, forcing the opponent to devote resources to taking six Prizes while "on the clock" due to Shrine damage, and cleaning up with Trashalanche. As we will see, this deck took off somewhat at last weekend's Cups and could play a key role in the format during Worlds.

Both Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX decks in Top 16 advanced to Top 4, where both lost to Zoroark-GX Control.

Team Win and In
Total attendance: 232 players

Team Win and In asked me to crunch the numbers on the metagame of their latest tournament. Here's the link to the complete metagame analysis, but below I'll show the most-played archetypes:
While many players took note of Zoroark-GX Control's Invitational performance and brought the deck to the Win and In tournament, we now see that a new deck has arisen to counter it: Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX. Zoroark-GX/Garbodor is also considered by at least some players to have a favorable Control matchup. The meta evolved rapidly in the span of a single week to the point where Control was no longer the "top deck."

Malamar decks were nonexistent in ARG's Top 16 but saw a fair amount of play in this event.

Rayquaza-GX decks were highly played, with the straight "turbo" version being the most common, followed by the version including Garbodor BPT.

Zoroark-GX/Lycanroc-GX is another deck that can go head-to-head with the Control variant, especially with new lists playing few or zero Strong Energy to avoid being disrupted by Enhanced Hammer.

As of the time of this event, Gardevoir-GX and Greninja BREAK also appear to remain as lower-tier but still viable contenders for Worlds.

August 18-19 League Cups
Cups in sample: Ten, 9 with a Top 8 cut and 1 with a Top 4 cut, from five countries. This is on the small end for our Cup samples, but enough CP were tallied that the results are statistically significant.

Click here to view the complete rankings from this Cup sample.

This meta looks similar to the one from the Win & In tournament, with one change: Zoroark-GX Control is even further down the list -- in fact, outside the top 10 CP-earning archetypes.

Buzzwole/Lycanroc-GX and Zoroark-GX/Garbodor are the two best decks in this sample and it isn't particularly close. However, we see the rise of a couple of new or resurgent archetypes in the aforementioned Buzzwole FLI/Garbodor/Shrine as well as Zoroark-GX/Gardevoir-GX. North America Top 16 players Azul Garcia Griego and Rahul Reddy both brought the latter deck to Cups.

I hope that the information provided in this post and all the resources I linked to are helpful to anyone still choosing a deck for Worlds or the Nashville Open. Please contact me on Twitter @twhitesell42, @PokeStats_TCG, or on Facebook if you have questions about the data I've collected or just want to hear more of my thoughts on the metagame.