Hello again readers, I’m back with you today to talk about how my PCIV qualifier run went and the decks that I decided to play for the events. If you have paid any attention to my Twitter, or even just the online leaderboards (and you know my PTCGO name), then you know that I did well again. At the time of completion, I was tied for first in North America with 143 Rep, but that has since changed. I’ve seen a lot of talk about more people playing the qualifiers because of the new cash prizing for making the Global Finals, and thus the required Rep to qualify will increase again. Whether this ends up being true or not remains to be seen, but I suspect there is at least some exaggeration of how dramatic the change will be.
There were some changes to the structure that will likely change how the qualifiers play out to some extent. The change from the Top 256 being a bracket to Swiss rounds might seem like it only changes that portion of the event, but it could easily impact the qualifiers as well. In the past, players with the highest seeding were likely to receive round one byes due to no-shows. That’s not going to happen anymore with Swiss rounds. This is probably a good thing overall, but it does remove a very large motivator to do extremely well with Keys. Once a player reaches a threshold they feel safe at, they may stop playing, or in some cases, they might use their Keys to try and rig events for their friends. I don’t know how common that will be because not a ton of players appear capable of reaching the threshold anyways. If people do this sort of thing, they might artificially raise the amount of Rep required to qualify. For instance, had I stopped attempting to beat my own record, I would have felt safe with 15 Keys remaining. Instead of stopping or scooping to friends, I continued playing. That’s 15 Key’s worth of Rep that I could have helped someone else with.
When you look at that it’s easy to shrug and say, “So what?” I get that, I really do. However, multiply this effect by say 50 people per region with an excess of an average of 10 keys. Assuming there’s no cross-region cooperation between friends, specifically from Oceania, that’s still 500 Keys being put towards manipulating Rep. It’s not unrealistic for that many concessions to influence the threshold to qualify. Players who may have been on the bubble initially could qualify or completely miss entirely based on who their friends are and if said friends are willing to help them. With that said, I don’t think there’s really anything that could or even should be done about this sort of thing. I also think (and hope) I might be exaggerating the likelihood of many people doing this, because most of the relevant players would probably rather chase the nonexistent clout obtained by being on top of the leaderboards.
That all aside, it’s time to talk about how my own run went. As arrogant as this might come off as, I was never worried about qualifying. Not for the reason you’re probably assuming, but I think it’s important to highlight that my primary goal was my qualification. Yes, qualification was an assumed part of my goal of “do better than myself,” but I wasn’t playing every Key stressing out about whether I would make it to the next phase. Also, yes, doing better than myself was probably a very unrealistic goal, but I had literally no other motivation to play my Keys, so it worked. I’m not telling you to not care about qualifying, as that would be kind of pointless for many of you. However, try not to take the events too seriously. That just leads to getting tilted when things don’t go your way, which will happen at some point.
The next thing I’m about to say might offend some people, but I think it needs to be said. I’ve seen a lot of complaining about luck and why “I only lost because I got unlucky/they got lucky!” Yup, luck is part of the game. you can minimize it by playing optimally, but to some extent it will always be there. Every single player faces the same odds as each other. Your PTCGO account does not have some hidden code to make you flip more tails or have your opponent flip heads against you. You just only remember the games where your luck is bad rather than the ones where your opponent flips no heads, or you flip heads on all four. On top of that, the odds of getting four heads or tails aren’t that low. Getting four identical flips happens roughly every eight games assuming only one player plays four flip cards. If both players play four Crushing Hammers, one of you is going to flip four heads or tails every four games. When you play at least 100 matches for your keys, that’s likely to happen often, assuming you’re playing Crushing Hammers.
All of this is just to say don’t blame your luck for your losses. Everyone has good and bad luck in this game, you’re not special, and likely, you’re making misplays that are allowing luck to have such an impact. Yes, there are games where you just can’t play because you bricked. Flip that around to how many games you’ve won because your opponent bricked. If you’re playing a consistent list, it should be about the same. You’re just focusing on your own bricks.
Now where does all this luck talk come into my run? It really doesn’t aside from all the weird notes like “I threw, he threw, you all threw!” that are covering my spreadsheet. Part of getting better as a player is acknowledging the faults in your own play. I would much rather lose to myself and acknowledge my mistakes rather than place the blame on circumstances. I also acknowledge the fact that I’m just going to lose some games that I “shouldn’t” due to luck. I just don’t get upset about them anymore, because they happen to everyone, and it’s not like I don’t win games due to luck as well.
Rapid Strike Urshifu
Now that that’s over it’s time to talk about the decks that I played for the qualifiers. Initially, I was unsure of what I wanted to play for my Keys, because I hadn’t done nearly as much with the format as I would have liked because of exams and some other things eating my time. As part of my lack of effort put into the game, I was unaware of just how many people decided that Psychic M3w was a good deck. This led me to play Rapid Strike Urshifu for my first 10 Keys, something that was a perfectly fine decision, but also made me hate playing the game. Here’s the list for reference: