Opinion: the SP Mistake

by Pikkdogs ~ June 13th, 2011.

A big hello to all you OHKOers out there, this is Pikkdogs here with another opinion article.  This article is all about the choice to add SP Pokemon to the Pokemon TCG game.  

Lately it has been a popular thing to pick on TPCI and Play Pokemon.  Most people have been bashing them for handling the mid-season rotation poorly.  Just about anything other than what they did to handle the rule changes and rotation would have been better than what they actually did.  But, this is not the blunder I will be talking about, I will  be talking about their choice to put SP Pokemon into the format, and their choice to not ban SP cards.

Before we talk about how SP Pokemon were terrible for the format, lets look at what they were.  SP Pokemon  were all basic forms of Pokemon (mostly Pokemon that are usually stage 2 Pokemon) that  by themselves did not look to menacing.  Most SP Pokemon had about 80 HP and attack costs that were not extremely cheap.  But, when one took advantage of the SP engine, SP decks began to be very fast and very disruptive.  SP decks were very tough to beat, because they were toolbox decks that could tech against almost anything.  An SP player could beat any deck, he/she just needed to know what decks they were going to play against.

As we all know, come July 1st, all SP Pokemon will be rotated from the format, ending their dominant streak in tournaments.  During their time in the format, SP Pokemon have dominated the format.  Here are the statistics from this year,   though I could have added the numbers from last year, seeing as they were pretty similar.  The following are the number of tournaments won by Luxchomp this season, the second number in this list is the number of more wins that it had against the 2nd winning-est deck. The numbers are courtesy of Pokegym.

City Championships– 103, 57

State/Province/Territory Championships– 16, 11

Regional Championships– 8, 6

As you can see, Luxchomp decks have dominated this year.  It won 41% of Cities, 39% of States, and 61% of Regionals.  These stats don’t count other SP decks or SP hybrid decks.  One nice thing about Pokemon is that a lot of players make an effort to play non-tier 1 decks.  It is the love affair we have with different Pokemon that makes us want to try different decks, and makes the format fun.  But, SP decks have taken away from that.

SP decks did take some experience and skill to play, but I do not think that this makes up for its dominance.  Even if in the last format, a player was playing a mindless Sablelock deck, I do not think that it would have been half as bad as someone who plays an SP deck.  SP decks made the format very stale and took originality out of the format.

Why SP created a Bad Format   

  1. SP Has All but killed Stage 2 Decks– Because of Garchomp C’s ability to snipe out Basic and Stage 1 Pokemon, it was very hard to play a Stage 2 deck.  Unless you played a trainerlock deck, most SP decks could disrupt Stage 2 decks before they setup.  This severely limited the decks that competitive players could play.
  2. SP Decks Were too Disruptive– The ability to cancel the effect of any Poke-Power with just 1 card was just too overpowering in the last format.  Uxie’s “Setup” was a key to every deck last season, and the ability for one deck to stop it was just too much.  Combine that with the other disruptive powers like Luxray Gl’s “Bright Look” and Garchomp C’s “Dragon Rush” , and SP decks were too disruptive for most deck to keep up wiht.
  3. The Format was SP Centered– Every deck that you played had to either be SP or find a way to easily beat it.  The format was very boring because it was all about beating SP.  A player should have to worry about beating a lot of different decks, not just 1 or 2.

Why did TPCI introduce SP?

While we can only speculate why Play Pokemon brought in SP Pokemon, we can get a look of why they thought it was good for the format.  The disruptive parts of SP did provide aspects of the game that no other game could provide.  For a while, SP decks did liven up the format, making it exciting.  It was cool to do different things in the game, so where did it go wrong?

Where SP Went Wrong?

SP decks went awry because Play Pokemon made the deck too strong.  Cards like Energy Gain, Poke Turn, Double Colorless Energy, and SP Radar made the decks way too strong.  TPCI tried to make some original decks, but they ended up creating a monster that was too hard to control.  SP decks were too over powered, and no deck could consistently do well against it.

Why did Play Pokemon Sleep on the Switch?

In my opinion, PP should have stepped in and banned some of the SP cards.  Other card games do have problems with over powered cards in the format, when they are banned players are mad because they just paid a lot of money for a card that is now worthless.  Banning cards certainly does have its drawbacks, but I think if done sparingly, it is good for the game.  Instead of waiting for SP cards to rotate out, I think they should have banned cards like Cyrus’s Conspiracy. Energy Gain, and Poketurn.  It would have made some players mad, but it would have also made the format better.


Now SP cards are gone and the format is free from its oppression.    I think now that SP cards are gone, the format will be a lot more original.  There may always be a BDIF, but I don’t think there will ever be a deck as dominant as SP decks were.  SP cards were a symbol of all the mistakes that PP has made in the past, now that they are gone, hopefully PP can make some better decisions to make the format a whole lot better.

I know there are a lot of SP players who read articles on this website. I also know that not all of you guys share my opinion about SP.  So do you think I got it all wrong?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment box.

This is the point where I usually say the line from “the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy”, “so long and thanks for all the fish.”  While I really like that line, I have decided to try something different in the next couple articles.  Make sure to tell me what you think of the new lines.  So here is the first catch phrase that I am experimenting with.

Who Loves Orange Soda?

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