A new year can only mean one thing; new WS sets and changes to the ban list. Whilst we are all excited for the recently announced sets, and finally getting a release date for the Star Wars set, the ban list is still something we should devote our attention to. It is not only a good gauge of the current meta, thanks to Bushiroad making a lot of interesting data public, but it also effects how we are going to play as these new sets come out.
The ban list has been going through some dramatic changes over the past couple of years, starting from when Bushiroad almost wiped it clean back in 2015. Let’s start by looking at what has changed. ※Note: These changes come into effect from 2017/02/26.
The changes this time seem few, but the impact that they will have is definitely significant. As I live in Japan I have experienced the reasons for all of these bans first-hand. Not only that, but every single change has affected a deck that I am currently playing. Before going into detail on each of these changes, we should start by looking at the data.
Neo Standard in WGP2016
Bushiroad always uses the WGP (World Grand Prix) tournament to gauge how the current meta is shaping up. This makes a lot of sense as not only is it a global event, but it has a long lead up involving a large number of prefectural tournaments all across Japan. This culminates in Japan’s own nationals before joining the rest of the world. Although the most pressing matter for Bushiroad is that Japan is playing as well as it can, they at least get some small influence from other countries. For those that find this to be unfair, I am sorry but all I can say is that this is how Japan itself functions. I know that this has an effect on everyone, not just Japan, but all you can do is suck it up and move on.
Enough preamble, let’s move onto the first chart. This covers the most important data for deciding the ban list; the spread of decks in Neo Standard throughout WGP 2016. I have taken all of this data from the official documentation and translated it into English. For those interested in the original document, please find it here.
In the above chart, any set that had a participation rate less than 3% was combined into “Other”. Examples of these sets includes: Charlotte, Osomatsu-san and Love Live! Sunshine!!
Whilst participation percent is worthy of note, the most important bar colour to look at is the grey one; the undefeated (0 loss) rate for each set. CG (Cinderella Girls) is sitting at around a 23% 0 loss rate, which means that almost 1 quarter of the decks across WGP 2016 that won without loss were CG; that is huge! We are talking about walking into a large scale tournament and winning every round here. That is no small feat and CG is doing it pretty consistently. All of these people will have had to have something in common; it is unlikely to be just a coincidence or pure luck. Both the appearance rate and number of CG decks placing were also the highest. This flags CG as potential set that had not been hit hard enough by the previous ban list.
Following suit are both Monogatari and Kantai. Both of these sets saw continued high qualifying placements, compared to the previous ban list data, with strong participation rates. This also suggests that they could be having a large impact on the competitive environment.
So now we know how Bushiroad will have interpreted this data, I want to draw your attention to Accel World and Milky Holmes. Whilst both sets have fairly low participation rates, 6% and 4% respectively, they have comparatively high 0 loss rates. While this does not flag them for consideration on the ban list, it can give us some insight into what sets could come out of the woodwork after the bans come into effect.
Trio Survival in WGP2016
So from the Neo Standard data alone we are seeing some interesting trends. However, Bushiroad did something new this time around by additionally analysing the Trio Survival Cup data. In case you don’t know, the Trio Survival Cup is a tournament where you participate as a group of 3. You assign: a leader, a second in command and an admiral, each of which goes on to play against those same positions in other teams. To prevent everyone from playing the same deck, all 3 players share the same card limit restrictions. This means if one player has 3 copies of a card the other team members will only have access to 1 more copy (as the normal card limit for any card in a deck is 4). This leads to some cool strategies regarding player positions, where the difference between winning or losing can be influenced before you even sit down to play.
So, why is including this in the analysis so important? The answer is simple; 3 times the number of decks are being played than in your average tournament. This means that it is more likely that the powerful decks will make an appearance, as teams try to ensure that they have at least 1 deck that is a sure fire win (as your team needs to win 2 out of 3 games to advance). Also, there is a common theme in Trio Survival where 1 deck tends to be a bit off the wall. This could be a set that is not usually played or utilises an alternative strategy when compared to normal tournaments, in an attempt to try and catch your opponent off guard. So with such a broad range of sets, its inclusion in the analysis is definitely useful.
This graph shows all sets with a participation rate of 9% or more, with all other sets being lumped together under “Other”. Please note that the numbers in this chart do not show the participation rate of each set against individual players; instead it displays the ratio of teams that used each set. Sets included under the “Other” umbrella this time include: Sword Art Online, Idolmaster and Girlfriend Beta.
Let’s look at the glaringly obvious thing first; CG has a participation ratio of 50% and an undefeated rate above 70%. That is insane!! Not only did half of all teams play this set, over 60% of the teams that qualified used it and over 70% of the decks went undefeated. These numbers are difficult to argue with, there is seriously something going on in CG that needs to be addressed.
In second we have Monogatari showing another set of strong numbers, followed by Kantai and trailing off from there. This reinforces that both CG and Monogatari are having a great influence over the current meta, with Kantai once again showing some promise. Also, see that each set here receiving a participation ratio of above 9% also had a 3% or more participation rate in WGP. This confirms these sets as sitting in the current meta.
Finally, notice that the “Other” participation ratio is above 80%. This backs up my previous statement of people throwing in some rarely seen sets into their teams to try and catch people off guard.
So, now we know how Bushi came to decide that CG, Monogatari and Kantai needed to see changes to their ban lists. In the second part of this article we will take a look at how each of these ban list changes will affect not only each set, but the ban list as a whole. Thanks for reading and until next time, ta-rah~