PPG Format: Overview and Meta Report

Introduction

A new banlist hit the TCG in early June. However, it was a far cry from what most players wanted. Despite there being no real events, the meta still evolved over time, but online. The format had started in April and was “solved” little more than a month afterwards. Adamancipator and Eldlich stood at the top, which led to it being called a “Tier 0.5” Format. With no hits to either on the aforementioned list, there was no reason the meta would change for the next three months. At last, one of the biggest online tournament hosts, Pro Play Games, took it upon themselves to fix it.

The Changes

We come to expect massive changes when it comes to alternate formats. Goats, Histlander, Edison… these are probably the first examples that would pop into someone’s mind. However, the PPG banlist differs in that it’s actually extremely conservative. Konami took some flak for only doing three low-impact changes on their banlist. Pro Play Games tried to make only three significant ones in turn.

The June banlist changes also applied on top of that (Altergeist Multifaker, Ritual Beast Ulti-Cannahawk and Nekroz of Unicore to 3).

In a surface level analysis, Adamancipator clearly took the biggest hit. Halq and Block both being big reasons why they’re meta. Synchro Eldlich variants are of course no more, but others only got a consistency hit. Expectations for the meta lie on Altergeist, Dinos, Madolches and other Rogue picks from the previous format.

The initial reception was somewhat mixed. Many content creators believed it’d lead to a stale format centered around stall strategies. Just as many were excited for a meta without Jet Synchron and Block Dragon abuse, though. But who was right at the end? Let’s take a look at the results of the past few tournaments and take conclusions ourselves.

June 11th

First Place:

Randombrazillian RafReich




Top 16 Breakdown:

  • Mekk-Knight Invoked: 2
  • Altergeist: 6
  • Salamangreat: 2
  • Invoked Eldlich: 1
  • Unchained: 1
  • Invoked: 1
  • Lightsworn Eldlich: 1
  • Buster Blader: 1
  • Dino: 1

The first tourney adopting their custom banlist had a considerable amount of hype surrounding it. As there was no consensus on the meta, there was a lot of variety in the Top 16. Altergeist had a considerable amount of hype surrounding it, attaining 1/3 of top cut. Invoked had been haunting the top tables before the release of Secret Slayers, so no surprise it came back and took 1/4 of the slots. Eldlich still managed to nab a couple of places. Less Scarlet Sanguines sure hurt the deck’s consistency, but it didn’t kill them outright. Since Jet Synchron was no longer option, Lightsworn and Invoked variants were back on the table.

The PPG winner, Randombrazillian RafReich, correctly identified that this meta would be one without unbreakable boards. Mekk-Knight Invoked does a stellar job at dismantling weaker boards and OTK’ing. The Neos engine makes them particularly more dangerous. Any two effect monsters can be converted into Predaplant Verte Anaconda, which in turn brings out Rainbow Neos to deal a finishing blow.

June 13/14th

First Place:

Sebastian Zimmerman




Top 8 Breakdown:

  • Altergeist: 2
  • Invoked Eldlich: 1
  • Invoked Mekk-Knight: 1
  • Dino: 3
  • Invoked Windwitch: 1

Perhaps the most standard Top 8 the PPG format has seen. Nothing but solid, proven decks. Altergeist got to show off their full power with Multifaker and Linkross. Meanwhile, Invoked and Dinos reminded us why many were asking for them to be hit on the banlist before the newest sets. A couple of Rogue strategies from last format continued to underperform, like Sky Strikers and Water. The Halqifibrax ban really hurt more decks than just the top two after all.

Sebastian Zimmerman took it with an incredibly reliable Altergeist list. It was clear to everyone how dominant this deck could be if not kept in check. The new banlist and lowered overall power level made for the perfect environment for it to dominate. Interactions like Faker plus Infinite Impermanence were just the cherry on top. We can see once again how scary both it and Eldlich variants had become, as even the champion himself mained Spell and Trap removal instead of going for more handtraps.

June 18th

First Place:

AndrewDolich




Top 8 Breakdown:

  • Dino: 1
  • Plunder Patrol: 1
  • Danger Gren Maju Orcust: 1
  • Salamangreat: 3
  • Thunder Dragon: 1
  • Eldlich Zombie: 1

Only a week passed, yet we already have a radically different top cut. While Salamangreats did manage to regain some relevancy, the same could not be said for Altergeists. Despite having high representation, the deck’s conversion was less than stellar. Since the format is way less combo-heavy, there was less need to use as many handtraps as before. This allowed people to continue to have an edge over backrow decks with Main Decked Cosmic Cyclone. Additionally, maining Side Deck cards such as Evenly Matched and Lightning Storm and choosing to go second became a more popular choice. Three of the 8 topping decks were playing both Evenly and Storm.

AndrewDolich went with Dino, a highly powerful deck even before its biggest competition got banned. Players speculated that Dinos and Altergeist would dominate the PPG format since the start. Using Simorgh, Bird of Sovereignty to summon a Barrier Statue of the Stormwinds protected by an Ultimate Conductor Tyranno made for a deceptively strong first turn play. But the deck has no problem going second either, as Dinos have always been known for their OTK potential. Overall, a really solid deck that won’t ever lose to the die roll.

June 20th

First Place:

Xilenced




Top 8 Breakdown:

  • Madolche Subterror: 1
  • Salamangreat: 2
  • 60 Card Invoked Shaddol Eldlich: 1
  • Dino: 3
  • 60 Card Chaos Danger! Thunder Dragon: 1

Thus we arrive to the last tournament held at the time of writing. What set this apart from others is that Toon Chaos was legal. Examining this and the last couple results, the patterns become clear. We have Salamangreat and Dinos as the top of the food chain, but their power levels aren’t so different as to push out other strategies. Altergeist yet again failed to secure its spot, the popularity of Lightning Storm and Gozen Match keeping it in check. As before, we have some really unique strategies reaching top 8, including a couple of 60 card decks.

Xilenced made use of a really unique strategy with his Madolche Subterror deck. The usually low ceiling of Subterrors is a notorious problem of theirs, which is fixed by the Madolche portion. After doing your Guru plays, Madolche Petingcessoeur can be summoned to set up even more interruptions. All thanks to Madolche Queen Tiaramisu and Madolche Promenade. To top it all off, since both Madolches and Subterrors are Earth, as well as comprised of multiple different types, Gozen Match and There Can Be Only One can be used in tandem.

Conclusion

Chaos Space

In the end, the PPG banlist does exactly what it set out to do. It provides a far less stale metagame for those who have been playing online since April. Even with consistently popular deck choices like Salamangreat, Invoked, and Dinos, the format is in no way overcentralized. There’s still much room for advancements and evolution within it. The biggest difference being that said developments, unlike the ones in the official game, aren’t mostly about how much you can get out of Halqifibrax resolving.

Pro Play Games gave us a way to play that’s more forgiving to different strategies and rewards creative choices. As a final note, I will say I’m really looking forward to how this format will evolve over time. And I’m sure I’m not the only one wanting that, as the PPG participants still have much to explore with the new Toon Chaos cards.

jason autica
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jason autica

A college student with paradoxical tastes, I enjoy both reading and YGO. Enthusiastic about Greek mythology, weight lifting and spicy techs. Currently dating Zoodiac Tigermortar.


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