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The Evolution of the Beyblade Burst Metagame
In the 2020 edition of the Top 5 Best Beyblade Burst Combos, I gave an overview of the history of the Beyblade Burst competitive landscape from its launch in July 2015 up until March 2020.
Over the last year since then, the Beyblade Burst metagame has once again shifted dramatically.
The obvious beginning of this shift was with the launch of Beyblade Burst Sparking on April 3, 2020; as always, throughout the series the parts introduced were generally more powerful than what came before during Beyblade Burst GT.
This is caused obvious, but gradual changes to what the best Beyblade combos are. But what is the effect of these changes from a player strategy and gameplay balance perspective?
That is what I’d like to discuss here; the shift in player strategies and the shift in power among certain Beyblade combos, parts, and part types as a result of the releases since April 2020.
To do this we will trace the history of the competitive Beyblade Burst scene throughout 2019 up until the end of April 2021, which is right before Beyblade Burst Dynamite Battle was released. Then, we will then dive into some part usage statistics to help draw some conclusions about what worked, what didn’t, and why.
What You Will Learn
- How the release of a few parts in 2019 influenced the dramatic rise in the power of attack types.
- The impact Beyblade Burst Sparking has had on driving the game even further towards forcing players to adopt a “LAD”-centric mindset.
- An analysis of the top winning parts by type throughout 2020 and 2021 in WBO tournaments and the trends that have emerged.
This article acts as the first part in a three part series. It sets the stage for the second and third parts which will discuss what the best Beyblade Burst combos of the year are in worldbeyblade.org tournaments and why they are they best.
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2019: The Rise of Attack Types
The conclusion I came to in the “The History of the Beyblade Burst Metagame” section of last year’s article was that there was now a “Balanced Representation of All Types”.
In retrospect, this might not have been entirely accurate.
The game itself was absolutely more ‘balanced’ in the sense that attack finally had risen to prominence and was effective in competitive Beyblade Burst tournaments thanks to the release of incredible parts like Xtreme Dash Driver, Zwei Layer Base, and Judgement Layer Base.
The part that really wasn’t represented well at all was defense.
As I talked about in my Jet Wyvern review, my feeling is that even now:
“Takara-Tomy still hasn’t figured out how to create a pure, competitively viable defense type [in Beyblade Burst]”
There was very little reason to use pure defense types because the stamina types of the game had good enough-to-great defense and a massive upside of either great same-spin stamina or great opposite spin performance/Life After Death.
Part of me wonders whether it’s even possible to find the right balance here where there is a clear distinction between types and realistic viability for each of them; it seems we’ll forever be locked into stamina/defense hybrids at this point. But this is an entirely other topic which might deserve its own article.
So, in reality it seems to me that the highlight of the 2019 Beyblade Burst metagame as a whole really turned out to be all about the massive increase in viability of attack types.
This was demonstrated by 37% of WBO Organized Play Beyblade tournament winning combinations in 2019 to early 2020 being attack types as opposed to a mere 10% in 2018.
This increase is part of the reason why the top two combinations on the my top five best Beyblade Burst combos list last year were attack types (Judgement Diabolos Blitz Xtreme’ and Zwei Diabolos Sting Jolt’).
This mix between attack and stamina/defense continued heading into 2020 with Takara-Tomy ending 2019 with the release of a strong attack/stamina hybrid Imperial Dragon and powerful stamina/defense hybrid Master Diabolos.
2020 to Mid-2021: The Increasing Necessity of Opposite Spin Performance/Life After Death (LAD)
“Life After Death“–which essentially has evolved to mean the ability of a Beyblade to continue spinning for longer after falling over or at low spin velocity than its opponent–has been a part of Beyblade Burst for years since the release of the first left-spin Layer Lost Longinus in late 2016.
It became a big part of the game after the release of the Drain Fafnir Layer and Bearing Driver in 2017. Parts like the Hold Driver, Destroy Driver, and the infamous Spriggan Requiem Layer played a role in this area over time as well.
The big player in this space for 2018 was Xtend+, which has continued to be a force in the competitive scene to this day.
The Impact Of Beyblade Burst Sparking
Beyblade Burst Sparking contributed to furthering the importance of opposite spin performance as is highlighted under #4 below, but it also has done a lot of other things which have impacted the course of the competitive scene that shouldn’t be overlooked before we change our focus back to opposite spin/LAD:
1. Rage & 3A
It introduced us to the game’s most lethal attack type Layer to date: the combination of the Rage Ring and 3A Chassis from Rage Longinus. As a result however, it became effectively the only option for competitive play, almost entirely wiping out the use of parts like the Judgement Layer Base, Zwei Layer Base, and Imperial Layer Base.
The Wheel Disk made almost all previously released Disks close to useless.
3. Chassis System
The introduction of the Chassis system made bursting perhaps even less common in competitive combos than before because it made the “Layer” of each Beyblade harder to shift over each of its teeth during battle.
4. Wider & Wider Tips
However, 2020 was most significantly marked by Takara-Tomy pushing the game even further towards a state which made opposite spin performance/Life After Death not just important, but a near necessity of almost all competitive combos.
And at least in the western competitive Beyblade community, there was–generally speaking–a significant delay in the knowledge among players about this ability.
But nevertheless, clearly their base performance wasn’t designed with that ability in mind the same way that Drivers like Mobius from Variant Lucifer, Zone’+Z from Helios Volcano and Drift from Lucifer The End are.
All three of those Drivers were released in the second half of 2020, indicating a clear shift in design philosophy from within Takara-Tomy’s Beyblade design team.
The obvious reason for this is to perpetuate the gradual power creep seen in parts throughout the Beyblade Burst series so far. We’ve seen similar things happen in most generations of Beyblade. In the case of these Drivers, not only was the LAD potential increased, but the burst resistance as well.
Part of what made the original Bearing Driver such a well designed part was that the spring lock was relatively weak; so you had to weigh the benefits of high LAD with leaving yourself susceptible to bursting.
But now we have something we all thought we’d never see: a Dash Driver that’s not only a stamina type, but also has high LAD (Zone’+Z).
Stadium Design Influence
Each of these stadiums is designed in such a way that enhances the performance of wide tips like Mobius, Drift, and Zone’+Z.
You might be thinking that I believe this shift has been a negative one, but I actually believe that it may end up being a necessary one if Beyblade Burst is to continue even longer into the future.
Do I think Takara-Tomy should have instead released an updated and slightly larger Burst BeyStadium Standard Type? Yes.
But do I think that introducing new gameplay variants as the main focus of the series at this stage–six years in from launch–is the worst thing they could have done? No.
My hope is that it reinvigorates the interest of players and that it can be seen as an optional mode of play alongside the Burst BeyStadium Standard Type.
Hasbro has been taking a similar approach for years now with things like Beyblade Burst HyperSphere and Beyblade Burst SpeedStorm alongside other more traditionally designed products like the Beyblade Burst Pro Series.
However, whether these new types of gameplay end up being as competitively deep and interesting as the style created by the traditional design of the Burst BeyStadium Standard Type or Beyblade Burst Pro Series Stadium remains to be seen.
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The LAD Ecosystem
When we look at the increasing consciousness players have towards awakening/wearing down parts like Rise Driver and Ignition’ Driver lately, alongside new parts such as the Drift Driver, Mobius Driver, and Zone’+Z Driver, the result is that a new and more diverse ecosystem of high LAD Drivers is being created.
From January 2019 – February 2020 the percentage of high LAD Drivers (roughly defined as anything with Bearing Driver level LAD or better) seen in the winning combinations from WBO tournament winners was roughly 50%.
The same can be said for March 2020 – April 2021, albeit with a wider variety of Drivers in the same pool of data.
However, if we look at this percentage from November–after the release of the Limit Break DX Set, which included Zone’+Z–it jumps up to 66% (roughly 103/155 entries).
This demonstrates the evolution of Life After Death from an important consideration to a near necessity for competitive players.
At first glance this is concerning from a gameplay balance perspective; is every battle simply an opposite spin launch and pray situation? Not really.
There is far more nuance to things than first meets the eye due to:
- Part Wear: The effect of part wear on some of these parts and how differing wear levels can affect performance and interaction with others.
- Self-KO Risk of Wide Tips: The fact that all of these Drivers are now so wide that at high speeds they move a lot. They are often at risk of self-KOing in the Burst BeyStadium Standard Type. Because not every match up will be played in the opposite spin direction from your opponent, this means players have to consider how to mitigate this risk through launch power, technique, or their combo itself.
This change has also had an effect on other previously popular parts which I’d like to explore below as part of my review of some key part usage statistics among WBO tournament winning players over the last year.
Part Usage Statistics (3/2020-4/2021)
Let’s look at the top five parts of each part type used among the winning combinations of players who placed in worldbeyblade.org Beyblade tournaments from March 2020 – April 2021.
The numbers represent the number of times each part appeared on the list of winning combinations from one of the top three players at a WBO event in each period (Source: WBO Public Tournament Data Archive).
The percentage in brackets is of the total amount of entries for that part type.
Top 5 Beyblade Burst Parts by Type
Top 5 Winning Beyblade Burst Layers (Rings & Layer Bases):
- Rage: 76 (26.6%)
- Tempest: 62 (21.7%)
- World: 54 (18.9%)
- Master: 36 (12.6%)
- Mirage: 11 (4%)
Top 5 Winning Beyblade Burst Disks:
- Wheel: 61 (45.9%)
- 00: 16 (12.03%)
- Around: 10 (7.52%)
- Blitz: 8 (6.02%)
- 0 & Sting: 6 (4.51%) Each
Top 5 Winning Beyblade Burst Drivers:
- Xtend+: 73 (25.5%)
- Drift: 36 (12.6%)
- Destroy’: 24 (8.4%)
- Zone’+Z: 24 (8.4%)
- Atomic: 18 (6.5%)
Top 5 Winning Beyblade Burst Chassis March 2020 – April 2021:
- 3A: 57 (26.6%)
- 1S: 49 (22.9%)
- 2B: 31 (14.5%)
- 2A: 25 (12.1%)
- 2S: 14 (6.8%)
Blader Kei’s Winning Beyblade Parts Product Recommendations
Want to add some of the above parts to your collection? They’re all good, but here’s a few of my recommendations.
These are not necessarily parts that work together as a combination, but parts I feel every player should own or releases that contain a high concentration of the above winning parts:
Part Usage Year-Over-Year Trends
There is a lot to be garnered from the data above, especially when in comparison to the period I measured last year for the 2020 edition of the Top 5 Best Beyblade Burst Combos.
I will highlight some trends for a few prominent and–some now formerly–competitive parts that stood out to me:
Usage of Xtend Plus Driver in winning combos remained very close this year at 25.5% versus last year (27.3%).
This is impressive as it demonstrates its resilience in spite of the increase in more competition for Life After Death from Drivers like Zone’+Z and Drift.
And to make it a fair comparison: even since November when Zone’+Z was released, Xtend+ has appeared in 24.5% of winning combinations. Despite being worse in the LAD department, the superior same-spin performance is likely what has saved it.
The past year has not been so kind to Xtend+’s former counterpart: the Bearing Driver.
In 2019-2020, Bearing was represented in 22.2% of winning combinations. In 2020-2021, Bearing usage plummeted to 3.5% due to Zone’+Z and Drift. It’s safe to say it is outclassed now, which is a bit shocking given the roughly two and a half years it held strong in the upper echelon of stamina Drivers.
Another similarly old part–the Atomic Driver–experienced a significant reduction in usage as well.
In 2019-2020, it was used in 11.6% of winning combinations.
In 2020-2021, that number fell to 6.3%. However, it still cracked the top five most used Drivers as you can see above.
There are still players out there who recognize this, but the numbers tell me that Atomic is being severely underrated right now. There is such an immense focus on Life After Death in the Beyblade Burst metagame right now that I think people are sometimes forgetting that same-spin matches are a thing.
Xtend+ does have good same-spin stamina, but Atomic can actually beat it as well as Zone’+Z and Drift. It’s easy right now to catch people off guard when you use this.
The Atomic Driver is probably one of the last remaining parts from the 2017 era that is truly still top tier, despite what the numbers here say.
In 2019-2020, attack type Xtreme Dash Driver was seen in 5.6% of winning combinations.
In 2020-2021 so far, that’s dropped to a mere 2.4%.
Maybe I’m missing something here, and admittedly I haven’t played in a tournament since September 2020 due to COVID-19, but … this seems insane to me.
Xtreme’ has always been niche by virtue of the fact it isn’t easy to use (and partially due to it never being put into a regular booster or starter). Even during 2019 when we were blessed with the attack type powerhouse Judgement Layer Base and Zwei Layer Base, people still didn’t use Xtreme’ as much as they should have. They opted instead for the more controllable Quick’, which is understandable if you are not comfortable with Xtreme’.
But even so, the fact remains true to this day that Xtreme’ is the most powerful and versatile Driver in the game. It makes sense to me that the numbers for this Driver will always be low, but it’s puzzling to see that it’s usage has gone down even further.
The Destroy Dash Driver was used in 6.7% of winning combinations in 2019-2020.
In 2020-2021 so far, that is up to 8.4%
This is an interesting case where the usage has increased, but the competitive viability of the Driver actually decreased technically speaking.
The reason usage increased is because it was part of the stock combo for Rage Longinus Destroy’ 3A. As such, it ended up being used 57% of the time whenever Destroy’ appeared on the winning combinations list.
The Rage Longinus Destroy’ 3A stock combo is indeed quite powerful and undoubtedly top tier, but if we look at Destroy’ individually, I would argue that it’s overall versatility has been lowered.
Destroy’ has always been a versatile Driver–and it still is–but one piece of this versatility has been its ability to outspin Drivers with lower tier LAD. One of the most attractive targets for this was its ability to outspin Atomic in opposite spin. However, with usage of Atomic having gone down by nearly 50% versus 2019-2020, the use cases for Destroy’ have also decreased slightly.
The Rise Driver was used in only 1.8% of winning combinations in 2020-2021 so far.
When awokened/worn down to the point that its tip becomes close to being flat, it has enough LAD to compete with the best of the best along with some other great qualities.
Hugely underrated Driver (especially before the release of Zone’+Z and Drift) which I first spoke about in my World Spriggan review.
In 2019-2020, 5 Drivers (Xt+, Br, X’, Ds’, At) composed 73.4% of Drivers used in winning combinations.
In 2020-2021, 13 Drivers composed 74.1% of Drivers used in winning combinations.
This reflects that despite the increased importance on opposite spin performance, we’ve now reached a point where there are so many individual legitimate options within this area that Driver diversity has actually increased.
Master Layer Base
The Master Layer Base earned a respectable fifth place finish on the above list of top five Layers, but it’s important to note that the usage would have been significantly higher if early 2020 had been factored in.
It was released at the end of 2019 and instantly had a huge impact on the metagame. However, for last year I measured January 2019 – March 2020 and this year it was from then up until April 2021, so it fell into a bit of a weird spot in terms of the time periods I am tracking the data for these lists.
What do you think about how Beyblade Burst has evolved from 2019 to 2021 so far? Comment below!
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