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?

Category: Opinion | Tags:
  • This article is stupid.

    You’re upset that SP dominated the format. It dominated for a reason, and that reason is that it was good. You don’t like it because you don’t know how to play it. I’m not saying I’m a pro at it, but it’s not THAT difficult to learn to use, let alone play. People like you are just upset that you keep losing to such a good deck, so instead of actually just learning to either play it or fail at attempting to beat it, you write articles on how this deck is so menacing.

    You ever played in a format with GG? That deck that locked down EVERYTHING? Yeah. That deck was around for 3 years. Trying playing SP in a format where DRE and Scramble were legal. Good. Luck. Every format has cards that are deemed “overpowered”. Look at Haymaker. Look at GG. Look at SP. It’s all the same. When GG was in format, and was more overpowering than SP, people still played decks like Empzong, because it could be beat. Machamp can beat SP. Vilegar can beat SP. Magnezone can beat SP. You complain that it’s overpowered, yet you don’t know HOW to beat it. That’s it. 

    TPCI doesn’t make ANY Pokemon cards. Let me repeat that. TPCI MAKES 0 POKEMON CARDS. They receive scans, translate them and print them. That’s all they do. SP wasn’t overpowered: it was a new archetype. That’s all it is. Sure, it’s an archetype that is a lot better than others but still. That’s all it is. Seriously. It isn’t a mistake that SP was printed, it was just another popular deck. If Reshiram and Zekrom get a chokehold on this new meta, then in a few months you’ll be complaining about how “TPCI” made them to overpowered. You even said not to bash TPCI, and yet you are bashing them. For nothing. They don’t have control over what cards get to do. Players in Japan had all of SP to contend with. We shouldn’t have the exception of getting denied a good deck because bad players keep getting beat by it. People who complain about TPCI need to realize that they are in a much more difficult position than people give them credit for. Everyone thinks they make the cards, but they don’t. You have NO idea how balanced this format is.

    For example. When Vileplume got released in Japan, it was also conveniently in the same format as Gardevoir. AND Spiritomb. So you could build Gardevoir/Vileplume. Trainer lock AND Power lock them. Do you have any idea what Nationals would have been like, had that deck been able to exist? Do you? Instead of taking the time to complain about SP and write articles about how it was a “mistake”, really look at the facts. You cannot complain about SP when decks like GG have existed.

    • Anonymous

      Lets clear up some things. 

      1st. No I did not play SP, No I was not a good SP player, was that because lack of skill, no it was because I didn’t practice with it enough, so it was by choice. 

      2.  I am not complaning because I couldn’t beat SP, at the end of the fomrat my Uxie donk deck had a great matchup against SP.  The problem is that everyone either had to play SP or something that could beat it.  PP created a SP centered format, that I don’t think was good for the game. 

      3.  Im not saying that there weren’t ever any other bad formats, Im just pointing out how the previous one was flawed.  Just because I shot one person and you shot 5 people, doesn’t mean that Im any less guilty than you.  A bad format is a bad format no matter what you comapre it to.  

      4.  Yeah I did use TPCI and PP interchangeably, which was a mistake.  I meant to single out Nintendo as a whole and the people who make decisions to print cards. 

      I do appreciate the comment.  There certainly is another side to the topic, and no this was not the worst format ever.  But I do think that adding SP was a mistake. 

      • Skyler Knopp

        WHEW. just skimmed that brief little exchange.. and from what I gather, my 2 cents are: WHO CARES… we have an Exciting new forrmatt!! hahaha! It was an enjoyable read, and even gave me some catharsis. Good bye to an era, that’s what i felt could have been another appropriate title for it :)

        • Anonymous

          I agree, I do love the new format, and it is the best that its been in a long while.  

  • SP was added into the format when stage two decks DOMINATED. One could say that SP was refreshing. The format with Claydol almost turned into something like this:
    “Can my deck disrupt, cripple, or get rid of Claydol before my opponent can use it?”

    Some would complain that was stale. Some would complain that adding GG into a format was a mistake.

    I understand I use GG a lot, but that same deck fits this exact argument and fits it a lot more than SP. You can beat SP easily. Aside from the occasional weakness, SP doesn’t go for the big guys. SP attempts to kill off everything before they get big. That’s how it works. GG went and just crippled you. Sure, if you were lucky, you set up a big guy or two. Then you sat there and attempted to defeat swarming Gardevoirs with no power assistance. It wasn’t that bad of a format. Great decks were spawned or resurrected in a format where SP was “dominate”. Vilegar probably wouldn’t have made that big of a difference if not for the fact that SP ran on trainers. TPCI didn’t create any format. They don’t do that. The cards are there, it’s up to the players to recognize what is good and what isn’t. It was a great deck. There will be others that are just as good. That’s just how the game works.

  • Andy Wieman

    One of my favorite parts of the “SP was too good” argument was that people forget how many different versions of SP there were. Luxchomp, BLG, Chenlock, Sablelock, Dialga to name the big ones. Plus, there was A TON of variation within each type. You could go an entire tournament, play against 6 SP decks and never really play against the same basic deck.

    I did very well with SP and even I am not sad to see it go. The game had become stale to me. I play to win, plain and simple. Playing to win meant that I HAD to play SP. However, I Don’t think it was NEARLY as bad as you describe it

    • Ed

      Interesting opinion pieces are generally very one-sided and perhaps a bit overblown.  It gets people to react, and I think that’s a good thing.

      I do think, too, that Pikk’s sentiments aren’t so uncommon.  I believe that players like yourself who play to win see the merit in playing something that’s a bit “unfair.”  Legally, it’s fair because it’s part of the game and everyone can decide to play it or not.  In the eyes of many, though, it’s viewed as unfair because it stops other decks/Pokemon from having a chance to succeed.

      Note that I’m not just describing SP here.  I’m talking about any unbalanced situation in any competitive game/sport.  I don’t think it’s bad to take advantage of these imbalances.  It’s bad for the game/sport that they exist, and that’s a reflection on the creators or the governing body.

      I believe that many people are sick of SP.  The fact that “back in my day” Heymaker was the dominator or that GG was the previous unbalancing force means little.  It just shows how poor a job the creators and the governing body have done.  They don’t correct their mistakes.  They just cover them up with new ones and people keep buying/playing because it seems like they’re fixing things.

  • Just wait until a couple more sets come out and there will be a deck dominating format again and you will be back at how it’s unfair. It happens in EVERY TCG not just Pokemon. Magic, Yu-Gi-Oh, etc. there is always a good deck someone thinks of and EVERYONE plays.