State of the Competetive Environment
Hey there Rulers, DM073 here with an article designed to look at how things are shaping up in terms of the competitive scene, and how it compares to where things were at the end of last season. A lot of things have happened between now and then, but I think it is still important to look at how things are different and see how “healthy” things really are, and what it means for the game moving forward. I am going to be breaking things down by looking at the 2017 competitive season so far, then look at the last few events from the 2016 season, and then wrap it up by comparing the two and drawing conclusions about what this means for the health of the game/competitive scene.
The 2017 Competitive Scene So Far:
On the weekend of January 27th, the competitive circuit for Force of Will kicked off with a big bang in Collinsville Illinois. Many of the well known competitive players were there, along with scores of hopefuls looking to make a name for themselves and earn their invites to the world championships. If you asked anyone from the major teams what they were thinking was the best deck for the event, or what they would play, many of them probably would have told you that it was a tossup (I know for a fact it was for me), mainly because there were many different powerful decks, rulers, and strategies that all had some credibility viability. It was shaping up to be a very diverse competition, and the numbers tallied after the event began definitely proved that it was just as diverse as we were expecting. Two hundred eleven players showed up that day, and the ruler break down looked like this;
Two weeks after GP Collinsville was GP Atlanta, which also happened to coincide with the release of Vingolf 3. People were nervous about the event’s potential attendance due to having almost no time to test with Vingolf 3, or even how accessible the cards would be, and whether or not it would be a massive influence on the top decks. Regardless, 165 players showed up and played their hearts out, showing us once again that the competitive scene is very wide and healthy. Just check out this graph breaking down the Rulers played at the event;
In terms of the top 8 breakdown for Atlanta, it looks a little like this;
A Quick Recap/breakdown of the 2016 season
If you were a player who competed in the 2016 season, you are most likely aware of the rampant destruction to the health of the game caused by the ruler Reflect/Refrain. When it was released, and for the following six months of its life cycle (before it was banned) it absolutely DOMINATED the entire competitive scene. It did not matter which deck you played, using Reflect/Refrain as your ruler simply made it better. Don’t just take my word for it, check out this chart detailing the last three qualifying events of last season, and how many of the top 8 decks utilized Reflect/Refrain as their ruler;
So what does this mean for us moving forward?
By comparison, to where the game has been in 2016 and what the competitive scene has looked like/evolved into, the game is experiencing a massive positive shift. Players are returning to the game as indicated by increased attendance at GPs (even on a set release weekend). Players are experimenting with new rulers, as well as some of the old rulers that were simply outshined by Reflect/Refrain, without fear of poor performance. Top 8’s are becoming more and more diverse, both in Rulers used and in players making top 8. All in all, things are looking up and with everything that the company is doing to improve the sets coming out in the future/keep things balanced, I definitely foresee us remaining in this healthy state of competitive balance for a while to come.
My question that I leave you all with for this article is what do you think of the state of the competitive environment as it stands? Are you glad that it is as wide and diverse as it is, or would you rather it return to an era where there was a clear “best deck” that you could simply pick up and take to an event and compete with? Do you think the spoilers we have seen so far for Return of the Dragon Emperor are indicative of us moving one way or the other competitively? Only time will tell, but be sure to let me know what you think!
Until next time Rulers!
Jeremy Franklin, DM073
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