Out of 21 duelists, a whopping 6 (28.6%) of players decided to pilot the Prophecy deck. This is undoubtedly due to all of the praise Prophecy has received across various sites (such as CoreTCG and AlterRealityGames). With so many known players calling Prophecy the best deck for the January 2014 format, it's not surprising to see the large amount of hype Prophecy had going into the event. Besides the infamous spellcasters, the next popular decks only had 2 pilots in the tournament: Fire Kings, Mermails, Evilswarms, and Constellars. Each of these decks have performed moderately well during the September 2013 format and none of them have received direct hits on the ban list (although losing 2 Tidal does have an impact on Mermails). It's quite likely that the pilots of these decks made their choices based off of the familiarity they already had with their decks. With 12 different decks ranging from Reversal Quiz to GaGaGa, I'm quite pleased to note the diversity of this meta. It's also fascinating to discuss how most decks had equal representation (either 1 or 2 pilots for the event) besides Prophecy. If Prophecy continues to see rising popularity, there may be some cause for concern but from the looks of everything right now, the meta seems fairly open. Regardless, diversity in entrants does not translate to a diverse top 8. Luckily, this tournament was able to provide both. Initially, one is inclined to view only 3 Prophecy tops as a disappointment. However, this 50% top 8 conversion rate (meaning half of all Prophecy players topped) is actually quite impressive. In terms of market share, Prophecy was able to increase from 28.6% to 37.5%. The number of Prophecy tops relative to the number of Prophecy players that entered the tournament is actually a net positive. A common argument many people saw last format usually went along the lines of "If so many people didn't play Dragon Rulers, they wouldn't top as much!" In this case, Prophecies outperformed many decks in terms of marketshare gains (I'm looking at you Bujins). On the flip side, many decks had 100% conversion rates: Mermails, Fire Fist and GaGaGa. Let's deal with the elephant in the room. How did GaGaGas top? Was it a crazy skillful pilot? Did the player employ some innovative strategy that's never been seen before? ARE GAGAGAS TIER 0 FOR THE JANUARY FORMAT? Unfortunately, none of these hypotheticals are the case. This is a circumstance where one duelist got incredibly lucky. With 0 wins 2 byes and perfect tie-breakers, this GaGaGa pilot was able to advance to the top 8 by losing every match he played. Yes, the GaGaGa duelist did not win any of his matches. I think it's safe to call this top irrelevant. In contrast, the Fire Fist top is much more notable but the small sample size constrains the usefulness of the Fire Fist player's success. While a 100% conversion rate looks nice on paper, there was only one Fire Fist duelist to begin with. The Mermail data, however, is a bit more relevant. Both Mermail players piloted the deck to top 8, marking a stark increase in market share (9.5% to 25%). The Evilswarm top is especially notable. With a 50% conversion rate, Evilswarms received the smallest bump in terms of market share (9.5%-12%). Despite this however, the mere fact that Evilswarm was able to top is quite interesting. Many people claimed that the deck's viability hinged on the undeniable dominance of Dragon Rulers or Mermails. However, this Evilswarm player ended up losing his Round 4 Mermail match-up but winning his Round 2 Constellar match-up. Clearly the Evilswarm deck match-up win/loss ratios are not as straightforward as some perceive them to be.
In the finals, we are greeted with the Prophecy vs. Fire Fist match-up. There isn't a terrible amount to say here. Both duelists were able to defeat their Mermail opponent in top 4. These two duelists did play a best out of 5 match (as opposed to best out of 3) but the Prophecy duelist proved that Fate at one is still terribly potent by thoroughly defeating his opponent 3-1. Prophecy's victory in the tournament shouldn't come as a huge surprise, after all, Prophecy was the most popular deck by far. However, the fact that Prophecy was able to translate this popularity into a win (especially one as concrete as a 3-1) is important.
Before I end the article, I'd like to make some general observations regarding information that players can take away from this tournament. While the Prophecy victory doesn't completely confirm the claims that the deck is the most viable option for January, it does offer some factual supporting data for that argument. The unexpected resilient success Mermails saw is also useful to note. Many people (including myself) were unsure of the deck's viability due to its fragility. However, the fact that both Mermail duelists were able to go all the way to top 4 proves that such fragility does not hinder the deck to the point where it is unplayable. In my opinion, the two decks that truly proved their worth in this tournament are Prophecy and Mermail. Definitely expect these two decks to make a splash in YCS Sydney later in January.
Unfortunately, the small tournament size prevents me from doing an in-depth analysis on each deck's match-ups. I am trying to work something out with Jim McMahan over at ARG to help you provide similar coverage for ARG Opens. Hopefully I can get match-up analysis for those events.
Thanks so much for reading! What did you take away from this data? Are there any observations to be made that I haven't discussed? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below and keep this site bookmarked for more in-depth YuGiOh coverage and analysis.