Discussion

The state of competitive structure in Vanguard

This is something that many people discuss with extremely varying opinions about how they feel about it. For those that don’t know, for all of the national and world qualifiers, it was held in a best of one, round robin format. This means that if you won one game against your opponent, the round was over, and you reported your result. Players were matched with people who had the same, or at least close to the same, record. This meant that even a single loss, especially in the earlier rounds, could effectively end any chance you had of qualifying, which was the case for a few people. In the World Championship itself, however, matches were held in a best of 3 format, with players rolling a dice at the beginning of each game in order to decide who would go first. This has a great effect on how the game itself operates, which we’ll get into later.

In a best of one format, many decks can flourish that wouldn’t usually. This is due to the fact that your opponent has no idea what you’re playing in the beginning and can’t take the appropriate counter measures for the deck in the early game. By the time they do have a basic idea of your deck, the game will already be in the end game and the winner will most likely already be decided. This is exactly why decks like Soul Saver were so powerful. By the time you had a basic understanding of your opponents strategy, it is already too late to take appropriate counter measures. This adds an interesting approach to the game, as it really tests a fighters ability to think on the fly, as well as their ability to adapt during a match. It allows fast paced decks to take a quick pace to outbalance an opponent, defensive decks are able to force opponents into their pace to give them more time for counter strategies. This format tests a fighters ability to think on the fly, as well as the ability to conceive and implement counter strategies in a single game.

Now, in a best of three format, it comes down more to how consistent your deck is, and how well you play it. Although you may lose the first game, you now have knowledge of your opponents deck. You should form strategies and counter measures for their deck while you are playing the first game, and put them into action in the second game. If you have no knowledge of your opponents deck, you could almost treat the first game as a scouting tactic, making sure that your counter measures will work the way you want them too. This is why decks like Spectral Duke Dragon and Pellinore did so well in the best of three format, they do better when there are more games to go off of. If their strategy doesn’t work once, that’s fine since they can try again in the next game. However, their strength lies in the fact that they can even do well in the best of 1 format, making them a great all round deck that can adapt to varying situations. This format really tests your ability to adapt your strategy from game to game, allowing a more analytical and methodical approach then a best of one format.

Bushiroad’s tournaments have almost always been in the best of one format. This is very unique in a card game, as usually it is best of three to offset the chance of dumb luck letting someone through. However, it also means that skilled players have emerged that have dominated this particular meta by playing extremely consistent decks with the best of one format in mind. In the World Championship, Bushiroad switched over to a best of three format which meant that fighters had to build their decks with this in mind, adding a unique twist to what had been to this point a best of one format. This caused many fighters to rethink their strategies and approach it from a different angle. For example, the fore knowledge that your opponent counts on their starting vanguard can be very devastating knowledge for a fighter to exploit. They needed to take all these potential risks into account when they built their decks.

With Bushiroad switching to a best of three format for the World Championship, many people are wondering if they will continue on with this format. I for one believe that both angles have great implications in the deck building process and that either one is viable for competitive play. They both test different qualities in a fighter and bring only the best to the forefront of a fight. This is proven by multiple championship wins by the same fighters over and over. They have proven that they have what it takes to thrive in the format being ran. How do you all feel? Is it better for a best of one format, a best of three format? Or are you like me and feel that both have unique and interesting benefits to the game?

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