This is the companion discussion topic for this article.
"The Regional Review" – Christopher's Data Dissertation on the 2017/18 NA Masters' TCG Regional Championships
First off, thank you for putting this analysis out there. That’s a lot of work and I look forward to delving into it a lot more deeply than this first pass allows.
Second, do you happen to have a breakdown for where the Roanoke players came from last season? I don’t particularly find the “Madison is a dagger in the heart of the late season death of Roanoke’s attendance” argument particularly compelling given that Madison’s player base is Midwest players who have shown a pretty big willingness to drive to Midwest events.
While I do think Expanded has a detrimental effect on attendance and I also agree with your points regarding card availability, the overwhelming nature of the card pool, and it being impossible for great information to really become available due to the schedule from last season making it difficult to spend a great deal of time testing, I think certain venues can host Expanded events and make the format thrive given some of the support you mentioned in this article (mainly alternate art reprints, blocking the schedule, etc.). However, Madison would have been well attended regardless of format. The question we won’t really be able to answer is whether the well attended would have been within say 20 players or 100 players. Even 20 fewer players means 800 dollars less in revenue, so that isn’t some small amount by any stretch. But it is at least reasonable. Ultimately, I wonder if placing Expanded events around certain player bases would make more sense. Collinsville was the largest regional ever in 2017 even being an Expanded event (granted, that was before the debacle that is Zoroark without adequate counters emerged).
Honestly though, I think one of the biggest inhibitors to Expanded being enjoyed is the fact that most local cups and challenges are Standard and most local TO’s are unwilling to even entertain Expanded at the local level. That is a big deal. If local tournaments aren’t ever Expanded, many players won’t have any experience with the format at all.
Now, I am obviously a big proponent of Expanded events (all but 50 of my meager point total has come from Expanded events including both Expanded regionals I attended). I am a pretty new player by Pokemon standards (I started August 2016). The primary difference that I can see is that Iowa local events are almost exclusively Expanded so the amount of practice I have in the format is likely vastly different than it is with most of the player base. It is to the point where I struggle with Standard events because I am used to a level of consistency in Expanded that flat out doesn’t exist in Standard. There are definitely issues with the format itself and it definitely lends itself more to the “pay to win” aspect that some people complain about with card games generally. It just seems like a lot of these problems could be solved with creative product reintroduction along with a mandate to require 1 cup per season to be expanded at each store with recurring cups. That might be draconian, but it is clear that Pokemon wants more than one thriving format.
Anyway, thanks again for the hard work and sorry for the book
Off to a meeting, but I wanted to voice strong agreement on one point you made… The complete lack of local events in Expanded format does not help the idea of Expanded Regionals succeeding.
Holy moley that’s some data. Thanks for the write up, Chris. A lot to take away- RIP expanded -you wont be missed. Don’t worry about Portland, though, the scene here is very alive. It is also pretty new though. I’d expect to see a lot more travelers in the next season.
I think this is up to the TO, and varies wildly from region to region. I’ve probably played more Expanded League Cups/Challenges than Standard ones this year actually. However, this is not to say that there isn’t a failure on Pokemon’s end to help guide these local events. In fact, there are tons of other problems with local events that Pokemon seems to want to ignore by giving them little guidance or oversight.
I do agree with you though. It’s a cyclical problem, just like hosting Regionals on the West Coast. The other thing to think about, though, is that several of the solutions to Expanded (freeze the format, don’t play it) rely on the fact that we don’t play a lot of Expanded now. If we start to play more of it, new problems will probably pop up as well. I’ll just say I’m not upset to not be the one trying to solve this problem.
Playing more cups / challenges in expanded is definitely the exception rather than the rule. Travis Nunlist has posted some statistic about the number of standard vs. expanded cups and the proportion was pretty staggering in favor of standard. That’s really to be expected though since there is a vested interest in selling the latest set based on the excitement generated by its release.
Pokemon also seems very reluctant to wield the ban hammer very much. To some extent I think this is a very good thing and personally am not in favor of any bans. That said, doing some thing like “all cards from this set aren’t allowed for this quarter” would be a way to keep the format fresh without the permanence associated with a full on card ban.
Honestly though, I think Zoroark fully engulfing the meta is the prime culprit for people’s disdain for Expanded coming to a head. I doubt I would get much argument with that either. Early in the season when decks like Turtles, Darkrai, Night March, and Garb variations were dominant, it still felt like you could play something a bit off meta and still have a chance at doing well. Zoroark’s ability to chain hex while also hitting for 210 without much reliance on resource management was pretty format shattering. All that said, I do wonder if some people (like you) were given an opportunity to really spend time on the format if stronger all around counters might have been found. From my own testing, even something like Volcanion becomes a whole lot more difficult to handle when it is suddenly able to Lysandre Prism Star away both hexes and a couple of eggs. Suddenly Zoroark HAS to guzma and HAS to let Volcanion use abilities. It becomes an entirely different game.
Anyway, I will stop. I could go on forever about Expanded.