"Match Points" – A Detailed Analysis of the Imperfect 2017 Regional Championships Structure and Propositions for Remediation

This is the companion discussion topic for this article.


I love the thought of moving to a BO1 format, but why do we limit ourselves to a 30+3 BO1 format. We currently give 50+3 for BO3, which in the best case provides 25 minutes each for 2 games. Given 25 minutes in BO3, why not 25 minutes for BO1 as well. I propose 25+3 BO1 and then expand the number of rounds to 12 Day 1.

What do you think of slightly shorter BO1 rounds?


As someone who covers the events rather than playing in them, I will say that I feel the longer days have cut down on the number of on-site tournament interviews I’ve gotten, and definitely taken a toll on the interviewees in some of the ones I have done.

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I enjoy Pokémon TCG but avoid the huge crowds. Too many people. Too many rounds. Too long of days. Too far to travel. The current structure has done nothing to add to enjoyment of the game by the casual player. Bring back Georgia Roads!

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The issue with BO1 is that you can lose an auto-win match just by drawing dead. If we had a BO1 format, all sorts of players with all sorts of decks would win just by getting lucky.

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Outstanding article, Chris. One question: did you ever consider what would come of Pokemon removing the “single elimination capped at 8” clause? Playing more bo3 single elimination seems healthy as a possible alternative for day 2 like it used to be, would take a bit less time and would allow many more players to compete.

The only issue would be when the 9-0 player at first seed gets demolished by the 6-3 or 5-4 player who just snuck in and the player who clearly dominated all day gets very little points. Possibly include the high seeded player rewarding structure with this?


At VGC nationals they had a Top-24 cut, where the top 8 seeds got a bye directly to Top 16, and the remaining 16 players played for the last 8 spots. We could do something functionally similar to this, except with more players.


No, I think less would be the way to go. 12-16 should probably be the limit. You don’t want every Tom, Dick, and Harry getting into top cut.

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So this is a crazy idea, as it involves fundamentally changing the nature of the game and dealing a big hit to those who like flavor, but why not shorten all games to 4 prizes and keep Bo3? You still get to play a full 3 games if necessary, or more if intentional draws of individual games are allowed like in Magic (Technically Magic is first to 2 wins, where the winner could easily be 2-1-9 in the match. If agreed to by both players, they can call the game at hand a draw and start a brand new one like the previous drawn one didn’t happen since the tournament system doesn’t recognize tied games), and get the variance reducing nature of Bo3. Sure it would require all attendees to think differently about how to deck build and place, due to only 2 EX knockouts being enough for a loss, but individual games don’t end up feeling like they’ve been going on too long and making everyone mad. Four prizes also eliminates the need for such rampant slow playing that apparently happens, as games finish faster.

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Back when we played Bo1 full time, 30 was just about right. My fear with 25 is recreating a backlog at the end of Rounds, which would result in negligibly shorter (if not longer) actual Round Times.

The idea here is to play more Rounds with Best of 1 to mitigate that. In theory, you’re just as exposed to that in Best of 3 — and are usually rewarded with a tie for your efforts.

Players with all sorts of decks already win “just by getting lucky.” Best of 3 is not the magic Elixir to solve that problem.

I strongly favor more Swiss with a smaller Top Cut, as it reduces the variance of Top Cut seeding on a tournament’s outcome—and I’m all about reducing variance, as discussed.
A player that goes 9-0, losing T32, should never end up in the same palace as one that went 6-3, losing in T32.

This is definitely the right direction of thinking to consider, but I prefer Match Point cuts over numerical ones, simply because it eliminates tiebreakers.

Perhaps someday R&D will read this and have a thought — but for now, imagine when we had to take 6 Prizes without any EXs in the game! Those were slow days.

The games were still often completed on time, correct?

I think this is an interesting idea but not in this format. Ex’es are too defining and it’ll be a struggle to find non ex’es to play as well as shaymins being too defining in games for both sides because without it, they would dead draw and lose and with it, lysandre–>kill, rinse, repeat. Also, yveltal BKT seems waaay too broken for that.

[/quote] @jirachi123
I think this is an interesting idea but not in this format. Ex’es are too defining and it’ll be a struggle to find non ex’es to play as well as shaymins being too defining in games for both sides because without it, they would dead draw and lose and with it, lysandre–>kill, rinse, repeat. Also, yveltal BKT seems waaay too broken for that.

Again this would require a shift in the way people deck build. In the past decks haven’t had Shaymin to filter so rapidly through their decks, and barring that stupid toad throwing people on item-lock, got by pretty ok. A fair number of trainers get printed that allow sufficient deck manipulation and draw power to navigate a slightly slower game. Add in the likes of energy acceleration mechanics such as Dynamotor and Metal Links, and the game will be fine. Pokemon already prints enough non-EX’s that are good enough to at least be played as a splash, even if it’s in a hate role (silly no sideboarding, oh well), that they could easily transition over to the main attackers of competitive decks, much like their less efficient counterparts do among the ranks of the casuals. Outside of limited and EX’s, the game is fairly well balanced and fun, but when competitive decks and the 6 prize rule make EX’s far-and-away the best option, all the other good options get tossed right out the window.

Uxie anyone? That had amazing draw.

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Uxie Donk where you would draw your entire deck on the first turn was a thing too.

Before Bo3 there were a lot of players asking for it, less for the anti-donk, than for the boost it gives to skilled players who wanted an answer to random losses, especially in the early rounds. Just adding more rounds doesn’t fully answer that desire by itself. It’s still a lot more difficult, both mentally and mathematically, to claw back from 0-2 off of bad opening hands than it is to deal with two midday or late-day losses.

Also, when considering getting rid of Bo3, take a look at real examples like the one in Alex’s ‘The Clock Struck 9.’ His first round was LWW. In Bo1 that would have been a loss and his anti-meta deck would likely have faced all sorts of non-meta decks that it wasn’t designed for after that. That sort of thing happened all the time back in the day and it affected not just deck choices, but drops, overall tournament experience, and much more. Going further, if you just take Alex’s first matches as would have been the case in Bo1, his final record day 1 would have been 5-4 and he wouldn’t have made day 2, let alone finish 9th overall.

With all that said, I’m firmly in the camp that current events are WAY too long. As an older player those days take a physical toll, not just a mental one.

I’m wondering if there might not be a comprise of sorts. Maybe the first three rounds of day 1 could be Bo3, and subsequent rounds Bo1. That would limit some of the impact of ties, but also still limit randomness in the early going.

And since 4 prizes has already been suggested I’ll add that 30 card decks are a thing. Playing Bo3 with 30 card decks (& 3 prizes) is going to be faster and might be a fun format for day 1. Crazy talk I know.


I find that there is one major point that was missed in the article-online registration only. Several years earlier, Kenny Wisdom wrote an article similar to “Match Points” called “Fairer and Faster.” In that article, he emphasized this point very heavily. While there has been a major step ahead in requiring the pre-printed registration barcode, it is still a backwards system. At this point, check-in is mainly there for giving out the participation awards. Could this not be done when players drop i.e. hand in your drop slip and get the reward? This would completely by-pass one of biggest time-consumers before the tournament.

If players drop between rounds, then having the participation awards given between rounds, it would further slow the tournament. Assuming the judges help with registration and this participation awards (correct me if I’m wrong), then there would be more people to give out the awards in the morning compared to the time during or between rounds.

It would slow down during the tournament, but would it slow down by an hour to an hour and a half?

Back in the 5th generation, I actually tried designing a 4-prize format. In addition to limiting players to 3 of any card (except basic energy) in a 40-card deck, I also put a 90 HP maximum on basic Pokémon (eliminating most legendary Pokémon and nearly all EXes), and disallowed a number of trainer cards I felt were ill-advised (in case you can’t tell, I’m not much of a fan of generation 5 TCG). It was really designed to provide a markedly different experience than the main format, but as far as the 4-prize aspect, it did speed up the game while still allowing a decent amount of strategic thinking, at least to me.