ARG Las Vegas and Pro-Play Games Atlanta, as well as several local ARG invite events are quickly nearing this weekend, and you may still be on the fence of what to play. Don't fret, as you're in luck! This past weekend, a large 249 person event took place, the European Open Championship, and it should give us a glimpse of what to expect at your event of choice. Janemba Mill ended up taking first place and third place, with a deadly Broly Victory Strike deck taking second. There were also other successful decks in the top 16. This gives us a great starting point at what to anticipate this weekend to help prepare us. Let's take a look a deeper at a few of those top deck lists, discuss their strengths, discuss their weaknesses, and finally go over what I would personally go in with to an event this weekend. Let's start with the tournament winner - Janemba.
This deck has been floating around since the US Nationals, with a recent win at the Atlantic City Pro-Play Tour 2019. The idea of this deck is to stall out the game as much as possible, and discard your opponent's deck. Occasionally, the deck can also steal games with pushing damage as well, especially if your opponent is hesitating on drawing cards with game effects. Let's take a look at the winner's list...
[1st Place] European Open Championship - Augusto Gavaia
1 Janemba (p-086)
4 Unbreakable Super Saiyan Son Goku (sd2-03)
1 Group Leader Pilaf (bt2-048)
4 Saike Demon, Rockin' Out (bt5-046)
4 Great Saiyaman, Town Hero (bt5-032)
2 Son Goku, Striving to be the Best (tb3-021)
4 Childish Heart Janemba (bt5-049)
2 Deadly Defender Vegeta (bt5-034)
2 Raging Spirit Son Gohan (bt2-039)
4 Demon Sword Janemba (p-078)
4 Reality Bender Janemba (p-076)
4 Infernal Villainy Cell (bt5-073)
2 Kami, Global Unifier (bt5-108)
2 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
4 Dimension Magic (bt5-050)
4 Senzu Bean (bt1-053)
3 Mafuba (bt2-064)
2 Burnished Bonds Borgos (tb3-029)
2 Group Leader Pilaf (bt2-048)
2 Courageous Heart Yajirobe (bt2-052)
1 Mafuba (bt2-064)
2 Ready Stance Son Goku (bt5-028)
2 Son Goku, Striving to be the Best (tb3-021)
2 Dark Power Black Masked Saiyan (bt5-112)
2 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
- A strong late game, with an impeccable defense makes pushing last damage against this deck difficult, with an inevitability to end the game with milling the opponent to death. Consistent battle card removal also makes clearing the board a breeze compared to most meta decks.
- Easy to pilot. Don't spend all your energy every turn and keep it for defense, or if you do spend it, keep a Dimension Magic handy. After watching a player pilot the deck (check out some of the past streams from either Pro-Play Games or this past weekend's Euro Championship) and getting in a few practice games, you should be good to go.
- Early aggression can catch the deck off guard if your hand is flooded with 1 cost combo cards and no Senzu Beans, or if they are able to break past the defenses early. If your life goes from five to three, you're going to have a more difficult time blocking damage, as 4 life is the sweet spot in life management. This is a deck where an early OTK (one turn kill) can catch you given the opportunity.
- Mirror match can be abysmal. While the better player always has experience and ideally would come out on top, the match can end over who draws faster and more frequent Janembas. This particular build has thought of that, and has included four copies of each and four Saike Demon for faster and cheaper Janembas.
Broly Height of Mastery Victory Strike
This is the second deck type we'll be taking a look at and it is the latest entry on the top tier list. Essentially the deck uses two new promo cards, the new leader Broly, the Awakened Threat (P-092) and the just-released battle card Son Goku, Path to Greatness (P-115) promo card to swap into the absurd Height of Mastery Son Goku (BT4-075), shutting down the opponent's options to counter the onslaught of attacks that would be heading the opponent's way. To go over-the-top, the winner used Son Goku the Awakened Power () to push out an auto win against several decks, like his top 4 match against a Janemba player. However, a very similar list that went undefeated in the swiss rounds did not run the card, and was more focused on being aggressive. For this article, let's take a look at the winner's list...
[2nd Place] European Open Championship - Casper Hersø Hansen
1 Broly (p-092)
1 Son Goku, the Awakened Power (tb1-097)
4 Bardock, the Progenitor (bt4-073)
4 Full Surveillance Jaco (bt5-088)
4 Intrepid Dynasty Son Gohan (bt4-084)
2 Vegeta, Striving to be the Best (tb3-051)
3 Prodigal Dynasty Son Goten (bt4-085)
4 Son Goku, Path to Greatness (p-115)
4 Height of Mastery Son Goku (bt4-075)
4 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
2 Mira, Creator Absorbed (bt4-108)
4 Successor of Hope (bt4-095)
3 Bad Ring Laser (bt1-108)
2 Cold Bloodlust (bt1-107)
1 Planet Vegeta (bt3-105)
4 Time Magic (bt5-101)
4 Universe 7 Representative (tb1-095)
1 Bad Ring Laser (bt1-108)
1 Cold Bloodlust (bt1-107)
2 Crusher Ball (bt1-110)
2 Flying Nimbus (bt3-104)
1 Planet Vegeta (bt3-105)
1 Prodigal Dynasty Son Goten (bt4-085)
4 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
3 Trunks, Power Overseeing Time (bt3-111)
- Winning with this deck is very easy turn 4, as long as you draw your cards. Aggressive versions of the Broly, the Awakened Threat can win even faster if you catch the opponent off-guard. The deck can easily push its victory condition with Bad Ring Laser as a stop gap if they are able to counter the Height of Mastery Son Goku play.
- The deck has a lot of defensive options, like Time Magic and Cold Bloodlust to stop the opponent's key battle cards, like Foreseeing Hit and Haru Haru, Attacker Majin.
- Janemba can be a weakness. It can mill your win conditions. This is fixed with Trunks, Power Overseeing Time being able to grab them from the drop area, but this does slow your play down, and your answer to mill can be discarded as well. Janemba can also block your win-condition. If the combo doesn't have a substantial amount of combo power to back it up, it can easily outlive the onslaught of the attack.
- Overrunning the board with blockers. Multiple blockers means less energy being tapped down which means more options the opponent has to stop you from going off against them.
- This deck does have a very linear style of play (Son Goku, Path to Greatness - > Height of Mastery Son Goku -> Son Goku, the Awakened Power), and because of that, things don't always go the ideal way. It does take a bit of ingenuity to know when to ditch the plan of going straight combo and going to a more aggressive route (say against a Janemba player trying to mill you out; this is what happened in the finals match between Augusto Gavaia and Casper Hersø Hansen). I do believe this weakness is easily patch-able, and players are going to adapt and play a more aggressive version of this deck that makes it less combo based, and more on smarter plays which will put it at an even better position than it is in today.
This is a deck that has seen some niche play and success from previous events, and has been popularized by the likes of Tim Palacios, and Scott Dashy. This past weekend, it saw two top 8 placings at the event. This is probably the most "fair" deck on the lists that showed up, but don't underestimate its strength. Well placed Chain Attack trunks into Zen-oh, the Plain God or Fearless Pan could end the game for the opponent very quickly. Let's look at one of the top 8 deck lists...
[Top 8] European Open Championship - Johnny Chow
1 Pan (bt3-001)
4 Intensifying Power Trunks (bt4-012)
4 Everybody's Pal Yamcha (p-077)
4 Master Roshi, Martial Expert (bt5-012)
1 Pui Pui, Magician's Lackey (tb2-016)
4 Quick Rush Trunks (bt3-011)
3 Burst Attack Son Gohan (p-049)
3 Digging Deep Vegeta (bt4-010)
4 Double Shot Super Saiyan 2 Vegeta (bt2-010)
3 Fearless Pan (bt3-008)
2 Glory-Obsessed Prince of Destruction Vegeta (p-063)
4 Chain Attack Trunks (sd2-05)
3 Foreseeing Hit (tb1-008)
3 Pride and Justice Toppo (bt3-026)
3 Zen-Oh, The Plain God (bt2-060)
4 Afterimage Technique (bt5-023)
1 Planet M-2 (bt3-030)
2 Fortuneteller Baba, Earth's Seer (p-085)
2 Bodyguard Ledgic (bt3-015)
4 Dende, New to the Job (bt5-109)
3 Time Control Chronoa (bt4-104)
4 Haru Haru, Attacker Majin (bt3-120)
- Pan is not an aggro deck. Pan is mid-range deck that creates openings where it can and combat the opponent's game plan. Ping the opponent's life, push damage where you can, and placing down a well timed Chain Attack Trunks into Zen-Oh, The Plain God can heavily put the game into your favor. In addition, Pan has a strong burst when she awakens, usually netting you two cards, two extra energy , and two +5K modifiers that can decimate the opponent with the appropriate end game cards like Fearless Pan or Foreseeing Hit. Afterimage Technique, while not a true negate for an attack, is usually better in most cases (sans against Mira, Creator Absorbed).
- Against the two previously posted decks, Pan is the underdog. Against Janemba, you're going to want to create a sizeable board early, push damage as much as you can, and place a well timed Chain Attack / Zen-Oh late game to reduce the overwhelming amount of defense that Janemba can have at times. To finish the game, Fearless Pan is your all-star as amassing a significant amount of Double Strikes could push damage to where you want it to be. Against Broly, it depends on how they are playing it. If they are playing combo, and you started first in the game, Foreseeing Hit can easily shut them down. If they are playing aggro, you're going to want to survive as much, using your Afterimage Techniques at the appropriate times (if you can kill a Bardock, the Progenitor with them, even better), and last until turn 4 where you need to drop a Foreseeing Hit to stall the combo out and try to push the last 3-4 damage you need.
- Shenron - This is the deck Pan really wants to avoid. It's very rough, as they don't attack you early so you're not drawing up cards from your life. You'll have to rely on Digging Deep Vegeta to help you awaken and use the awaken turn as much as you possibly can to kill the opponent before they set up and kill you. If you can manage to set up a bit, you could be able to catch them with a well-timed Chain Attack Trunks into Zen-Oh, The Plain God, or a perfectly placed Foreseeing Hit. But if you don't see those cards, it can be over for you quickly. Your opponent will set up their kill turn, and it will be game over.
Those were just some of the lists that did well this past weekend. There were other successful decks as well, such as several different Shenron builds, a Broly Veggies build, Red Frieza variants (most Red/Yellow, but there was a mono-Red build), and even a Vegeta Baby deck. So, after going over the results from this weekend, what do we play for our upcoming event if we want to do well?
Janemba has shown that in the past two events it is a top tier contender, but my personal experience lends me to believe that a variant of the Broly deck will be refined further this weekend, making it the top choice. The deck has quickly shown it's a force to be reckon with, and players still are not prepared for it. Forum posts on the Facebook Discussion group keep suggesting it to be unbeatable. That's up for debate, but this weekend did show that's not going to always be the case.
Regardless, if you want better results, one can never substitute experience. Personal preference and play style should also come into factor over what people just spout as the top tier deck. Go in with something you're comfortable with. If you are not already playing a top tier deck, and you want to make the switch, that's perfectly fine, but get enough games under your belt to make it worth it. If you don't, you could catch yourself off guard from a deck that you didn't expect, and I believe that's always a possibility.
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