BRO 2021 Premium Predictions!

Written and formatted by LordDravoth

Introduction

It’s time for the Bushiroad Rumble Online Premium Format remote fight tournament! These are my personal thoughts on how I think that event might turn out that includes my top picks and then a few decks that I think might be able to steal a top out of nowhere! This is the last major event of 2021 and also the last major event before the next scheduled reassessment of the ban list (They’ve now escalated it to next week but we probably won’t see premium in that) so is very likely to be the only event we’re going to see of this scale featuring the format as it is now.

After the ban list, opinion was divided over whether this was a new and wide open format in which loads of decks were viable or if this was an aggro-only format and everything else would die too fast to compete. Personally, I feel like the ban list was great for aggro decks but the Heal Guardians do quite a lot to check aggro decks too so I don’t think pure bash face from turn 1 aggro decks are likely to dominate. That being said, I don’t think we’re in a format that could be called slow either – from my experience, we’re probably looking at quite a fast format still.

Some players think the Heal Guardians are a solution to all aggressive and fast decks and they definitely do reduce the power of highly aggressive early game strategies but that doesn’t mean that this is now a slow format or that the risk of dying on G2 when you’re going second is gone. The defensive properties definitely don’t remove early game aggression altogether and there are still very powerful and aggressive turn 3 decks that are only minimally affected by heal guardians. Not only that, keep in mind that damage denial has taken a huge hit as a strategy with the arrival of Heal Guardians – one of the best strategies to deal with decks that had powerful G3 turns was not to give them the resources they needed. If a deck only needs 1CB to win the game, there’s nothing you can do to stop that and whilst there are not many decks for which that’s the case, it’s very much worth taking note of.

Despite that, the format is definitely slower. Decks that previously had absolutely no chance whatsoever at least now have their foot in the door! I’m really hoping we’ll be seeing diverse finals in all three regions to really showcase some of the different decks that are currently playable!

Best Decks

These are the decks that I think are going to do well – the five decks most likely to top. That doesn’t mean nothing else has a chance but these decks certainly feel the strongest to me. Aside from Tachikaze all are either popular or have been considered meta decks at some point before now (or both in some cases) so some are likely to have pretty good representation too as it’s likely that a lot of people own them. Expect to see these decks and have a strategy for them.

They are listed here alphabetically.

Angerblader

A lot of people don’t seem to realise how good Tachikaze is right now and I think that’s most likely due to the comparatively lower popularity that the clan overall has compared to the clans of the other 4 decks listed here. This deck is insane, I can’t stress that enough. Once their Sweepers get to 3 or more markers, they’re almost impossible to remove and they can quite easily get them there on turn 2. Once they’re on Angerblader, expect up to 7 attacks with at least two of them being over 50k – that’s really brutal for the vast majority of decks to attempt to deal with when they’re on G2 and can be a struggle even with heal guardians.

Ezel

It superior rides and strides whilst generating accel markers like they’re going out of style. Percival had a lot of people worried Ezel would come back but it also took the ban list and more new cards in the form of Heal Guardians and Additional Angel for us to see it back at the top tables. It pretty much does what it always did but has a few extra steps and slightly higher costs that are mostly mitigated by being able to run up to 8 forms of CB generation quite comfortably. The Heal Guardians do have an effect on Ezel but don’t guarantee survival as Ezel going first is potentially striding while you’re on G1 and it can do it from 0 damage thanks to Heal Guardians and Additional Angel.

Luard

Luard probably seems like the least explosive of the top dogs right now but it’s a reliable and safe pick that a lot of players have a lot of experience with – this will be a comfort pick that a lot of players are going to be very happy to be playing again. It lost its superior ride but it still has a ton of utility and tools to deal with almost any situation and Morfessa is as good as she’s ever been when it comes to clear win conditions. If you’ve been playing Premium for a while, you likely know full well what Luard does and the deck has not changed very much but remains a solid contender.

Overlord

Similar to Luard, this deck probably isn’t going to surprise anyone mechanically because it’s been around in one form or another for years but current builds are highly aggressive and volatile. Once they have the force 2 marker and Overlord in soul from V DOtX, they’re going to transition to Legion DOtX and spend the rest of the game looping Legion and returning crits to the deck. Do not underestimate the deck – it’s extremely consistent, has access to one of the best G-Guardians in the game, requires very little in the way of resources and as it’s Vanguard centric, all you can really do against it is guard – there’s not much that can slow it down!

Regalia

Genesis is far from dead without Tahro and still has one of the best decks in the format in Regalia. Norn is really the star player now that Tahro is gone – she can restand any unit with Regalia in its name which includes all of their strides when you have a Regalia heart discounting Marduk as he can’t be boosted (but they can easily get around that by attacking with their G3 Regalia, restanding it and then superior striding onto it with Marduk on its second attack) and she’s searchable with your Yggdrasils. Marduk is also no slouch – when you’re on G2, you can be attacked six times including two Vanguard attacks and five drive checks. Marduk also guarantees the Minerva GB3 is online for their second stride if you can’t kill them on your first stride which could be as much as a nine attack turn (three Vanguard swings) with seven drive checks and to top it all off, they can play around your Denial Griffin skills with Angelica too. Oh, and they have force 2 markers.

Rogue Decks

Here’s a collection of decks or clans that I think are great that I don’t see being discussed very much right now. This isn’t a tier list or a definitive suggestion that only these decks have a chance of topping outside of my top decks or anything like that – these are just some decks/clans that I think are great but don’t seem to be on a lot of people’s radars right now. Don’t expect to see things like Granblue, Narukami or Pale Moon listed here as those have been discussed pretty extensively already and a lot of people think those are great decks – this is just my pick of decks/clans that might catch you off-guard!

They are listed here alphabetically.

Aqua Force

I’ve listed the whole clan rather than a specific deck here because there’s a surprising amount of viable decks for the clan right now. Aqua Force is in the best position it’s been in for quite a while – their decks generally draw a ton of cards and can start playing aggressively right out of the gate. The defensive properties of the Heal Guardians do hurt Aqua Force and that keeps them out of the current top cut but unprepared players can find their hand very quickly drained from guarding early and might find themselves unable to get back into the game once they’ve fallen behind.

Eugene

You might have heard talk of the War Crimes deck and for good reason. Fortunately, the lack of EN G3 crit triggers in Kagero keeps this from being too obnoxious but it’s still not fun to play against when it all comes together. If you don’t know what this deck is, it’s a Kagero deck that uses Eugene and a deck filled with G3s to turbo SC G3s for Dragon Knight, Nizari. If you aren’t familiar with him, he forces your opponent to choose a total of 6 cards from their hand or rearguard and put them into the drop zone – if they’re able to successfully activate the skill, there’s a very good chance you’re not going to be able to come back into the game. It’s a bit of a meme deck and it can’t run quite as many G3s in EN as in JP but the highroll is absolutely brutal and most decks in the format just have no solution or comeback.

Great Nature

Definitely a bit of a sleeper, Great Nature has two decks that I think are great right now in Big Belly and Isabelle. Great Nature is consistently one of the least played clans and I expect that to also be the case in BRO, however, like other lower popularity clans on this list, there are some very passionate and skilled players who play Great Nature who are going to come with very well constructed decks that plenty of players won’t be familiar with the mechanics of. Expect lots of attacks, lots of plussing and lots of drive checks. Especially worth noting is the Zoa-Rhinos-Monoculus win condition – if they stride Zoa, call Talented Rhinos with it’s skill and boost it with a Monoculus Tiger, they end up with a 99999 power attack that causes you to instantly lose that game (literally, if it deals damage, you lose) that can only be guarded by G-Guardians and interceptors and can’t be chosen by card effects (so no Denial Griffin plays). Isabelle also has access to a Denial Griffin play by calling Marimarten with Al-mi’raj which can catch you off guard if you’re not wary of it.

Magus MoMo

MoMo is an incredibly powerful stride and it only gets better when combined with Fusilli Magus’ additional drives. MoMo is also incredibly self-sufficient, so much so that the main deck is pretty flexible because she doesn’t require much in the way of support to do what she wants to do. There’s a ton of interesting stuff that can be really easily splashed into the deck – I’ve seen variants with a defensive Cray Elemental package aimed at surviving the likes of Overlord and Angerblader, I’ve seen decks using the Cray Elemental vanilla superior ride engine to stride MoMo into a G2 opponent with big rearguards, Ichi-Tom is still a great win con (heal guardians can guard again Tom, though), Calico and GotS Ammy combo very well with MoMo and they have the G1/G2 Tsukuyomi package (which recently got even better) to fish for their pieces. Whatever the main deck contains, MoMo is a fantastic and generic stride so there’s a lot of room to experiment and such a good pool of cards to build around it – don’t underestimate it and expect to come across some interesting lists.

Spike Brothers

Hellhard Eight is a fantastic deck with some different variants but we also have Good-End Dragger decks that are pretty solid right now, not to mention Agrias aggro decks that are also viable. For Hellhard Eight, they’re going to search out their heals and spam G-Guardians until they hit GB8 and you lose (worth remembering that this deck doesn’t run Heal Guardians) and there are aggro variants that are going to put out early pressure during the build up to the GB8 so don’t get complacent against it just because you see they’re gunning for HH8. Good End Dragger and Agrias aggro decks have different routes but are going to end up somewhere similar with tons of attacks combined with moving force 1 and 2 markers around to each unit as it attacks thanks to various combinations of Rising Nova, Deadheat Bullspike and the new V Dudley support.

Predictions

Representation

I think of the decks I’ve listed as my top 5, all are going to see relatively high representation aside from Angerblader with Genesis and Luard likely being the most represented of those. I suspect Granblue will be one of the most represented clans (if not the most represented) in total across all 3 regions and outside of my top cut, I think Vanquisher specifically and Pale Moon generally are likely to also be well represented.

I’m not expecting any of my rogue decks to see significant representation (that’s why I decided to talk about them in this article) but I expect the lowest represented clans to be Angel Feather, Royal Paladin, Murakumo and Neo Nectar.

Results

Obviously, I think the clans I’ve listed as my top five are going to do well and I’d wager all of those are probably going to get at least one top somewhere with Angerblader being the least likely just due to low representation (even though I think it could potentially be the best deck).

From my rogue decks, I think they all definitely have topping potential but probably won’t have representation on their side so perhaps have the odds stacked against them somewhat there – if only one person is bringing a deck, it just takes one unlucky game to keep that deck from topping.

From the decks I’ve not talked about in the article, I think Granblue is the most likely to top just out of sheer representation and I know that a lot of good players are going to be taking some form of it (It’s also good!). Pale Moon is another clan that’s popular – I think Nightmare Dolls has a bit of low-key hype surrounding it going into this event so that might be one to watch. Vanquisher is another deck that I think could top as it’s likely to have numbers on its side to some extent but is also considered by many to be a reasonably competitive deck.

I think Royal Paladin, Neo Nectar, Murakumo and Angel Feather are also the least likely to top. I don’t think Angel Feather is as bad as the other three clans I listed here but it certainly isn’t considered a competitive deck by most players so I don’t see good players really touching it right now.

Closing Thoughts

Bushiroad Rumble Online is the last competitive event of the year and definitely the biggest so it’s a very exciting time for the format given how huge the October 1st banlist was – many people still have very different opinions on what the best decks are and what the meta looks like. A lot of the bigger names have been keeping quiet about their overall thoughts on the meta and what they’ll be playing so beyond my own testing, opinions and conversations with the other Axis staff, there’s not a lot to go on.

That being said, I’m fairly confident with my predictions here and I’m very excited to see how things turn out! Hopefully this was at least interesting and highlighted some lesser known decks that are actually pretty decent – I can’t wait to see if any of my rogues picks do well!

Good luck to everyone taking part in the tournament – any of you playing in the EU event might run across me whilst judging, feel free to say hello!

Special thanks to Ahmes004, Cayce, Commander Jaime, GleamingGarmore, Zaee and zero2pass for lots of discussion about the format over the past few weeks that has helped inform this article!

2 thoughts on “BRO 2021 Premium Predictions!

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