Published on August 19th, 2015 | by Wyrms Eye47
2015 Pokémon World Championships Preview
This is it, everyone! After twelve grueling months of competition and hundreds of thousands of competitive battles around the world, the 2015 season concludes this weekend at the World Championships in Boston, Massachusetts. Roughly 300 players from around the world will compete to earn the title of Pokémon World Champion, joining an illustrious list of players who’ve reached the summit of the game. As always, for those unable to attend in person, there will be a Twitch stream showcasing battles throughout the weekend—the schedule is available below.
Last year’s World Championships saw the pre-tournament favorite, South Korea’s Sejun Park, finally run the gauntlet and earn his title against Jeudy Azzarelli of the United States. This year’s tournament marks another chance for top players around the world to join him and the likes of Arash Ommati and Ray Rizzo in the proverbial Hall of Fame. Who’s this year’s favorite? What’s the format of the tournament? When’s registration? All that and more will be answered shortly. Welcome to Worlds!
Schedule and Tournament Format
Please note that all times listed are for Eastern Daylight Savings Time (UTC -4):
Thursday (August 20th)
- Competitor Check in: 5:00 to 7:00pm (Don’t forget to bring identification!)
Friday (August 21st)
- Opening Ceremony: 9:00am
- Players’ Meeting (all players): immediately after the Opening Ceremony
- Swiss Rounds (all players): immediately after the Players’ Meeting
- The Battles Boxes for Friday will be locked at the Players’ Meeting following the conclusion of the Opening Ceremony.
- There is no check-in on Friday. Players who do not check-in on Thursday may be entered into the tournament at the discretion of the tournament organizer, and if so, with a first round loss.
- Standard tardiness rules will apply for those not seated for the players’ meeting.
- Players with two or fewer losses, and no ties, will advance to compete on Saturday. Players who advance will be allowed to use a different team to the one they use on Friday if they wish.
Saturday (August 22nd)
- Day 2 Players’ Meeting (all players): 9:00am
- Swiss Rounds (all players): immediately after the Players’ Meeting
- Single-Elimination Rounds (top 8): following the Swiss rounds, late afternoon
- Players will have their Battle Boxes locked on Saturday during the Players’ Meeting.
- The top 8 players in the standings at the end of Swiss will advance to the single-elimination rounds.
- Top 8 and top 4 will be played on Saturday.
Sunday (August 23rd)
- Video Game Finals Competitor Check-In: 12:00pm
- Video Game Finals: following the TCG finals, early afternoon
- Closing Ceremony: 6:00pm
All times detailed here are subject to change. Competitors are reminded to be prompt and be mindful of the rules and etiquette expected of them during the weekend. All of the above details will also be in their invitation packs.
One of the most notable changes to Worlds this year is the absence of the Last Chance Qualifier. Since many more players have been invited this year, there was no longer a need for the final shot at Worlds. In its place, the main tournament has expanded to three days, with Swiss on Friday weeding out lower-seeded players.
The top 16 players in each respective division will receive the following scholarship awards:
In addition to the scholarship awards:
1st and 2nd Place:
- A Pokémon World Championships Trophy
- A Travel Award for the winner (and parent or legal guardian for players considered minors) to the 2016 World Championships
- An invitation to the 2016 World Championships
- Two boxes of the most current Pokémon TCG expansion
3rd and 4th Place:
- A Pokémon World Championships Trophy
- An invitation to the 2016 World Championships
- Two boxes of the most current Pokémon TCG expansion
5th – 16th Place:
- Two boxes of the most current Pokémon TCG expansion
Scholarship awards have been greatly increased this year, with over $150,000 (over ten times last year’s amount) across all divisions going to the top VGC players.
For those unable to enjoy the festivities in Boston, Pokémon is providing a Twitch stream of VGC and TCG matches throughout the weekend. VGC matches will be commentated by Scott Glaza (Scott), Evan Latt (plaid), Duy Ha (Duy), Justin Flynn (thejustinflynn), and Jonathan Indovino. Show your support by tuning in and tweeting about the matches! The schedule is below (times are EDT, UTC -4):
- Opening Ceremony – 9:00am
- Day 1 VGC Matches – 9:30am until 3:00pm
- Day 1 TCG Matches – 3pm until close of play
- Day 2 TCG Matches – 9:00am until 12:00pm
- Day 2 VGC Matches – 12:00pm until 6:00pm
- Day 2 TCG Matches – 6:00pm until close of play
- TCG Finals – 9:00am until 3:00pm (approx. finish time)
- VGC Finals – following conclusion of TCG
Exactly which rounds of Swiss will be broadcast is hard to say, but those watching online will likely get to see the first few rounds on Friday, the final few rounds on Saturday, and a match from each round of the top cut bracket. More precise estimates will be available during the stream.
Here’s a brief overview of the top Pokémon in the VGC 2015 metagame going into Worlds.
Another year has come and gone, and to no one’s surprise, Mega Kangaskhan is still a dominant force. However, it certainly isn’t the only choice out there. Mega Charizard-Y and Venusaur have seen good use throughout the year, and Mega Gardevoir was seen on both sides of the field at the finals of US Nationals. Most importantly, however, the highly anticipated new additions of Mega Metagross and Salamence have proven to be the biggest threat to Kangaskhan’s reign. Both are good checks, and are large enough damage threats that they’re useful aside from beating Kangaskhan.
I expect the majority of players at Worlds to simply play around Mega Kangaskhan rather than use it or employ a dedicated counter. The widespread use of soft counters such as Landorus-Therian, Thundurus, and Heatran means that it is much harder for Kangaskhan to simply Power-Up Punch and sweep. We’ll likely see some mix of Charizard-Y, Salamence, and Gardevoir. What will be interesting to see is if any unusual options slip through to Saturday Swiss. I’m sure we’ll see at least a few unusual options- and Scott and Evan might even sing for us if Mega Slowbro makes an appearance on stream! (Disclaimer: They won’t, but they’ll still appreciate Mega Slowbro.)
What is it about weather teams that seem to find popularity around the time that Nationals occur? Once again, players around the world saw a surge of use in weather-based teams during May and June. Perhaps most influential of all was the introduction of a Japanese sand team, which saw success in Europe and the US.
Rain also cannot be discounted. Politoed’s got an uncanny knack of making its way onto teams that don’t directly use the weather, such as Perish trapping teams. The onus is on the competitors to manage these diverse threats into their teambuilding to give them the best shot at winning. Who will choose to run weather, and who will try to stop it?
This year’s metagame has seen the return of several legendary Pokémon that dominated VGC 2013, most notably Landorus-Therian, Thundurus, and Heatran. Their good damage and amazing utility have made them a few of the most common Pokémon in the metagame. Landorus-T especially has made some huge waves, being the most used Pokémon by some metrics—59% of teams that made top cut in Europe had it, and over 70% of top cut in the US did the same. Its stats, typing, movepool, and ability make it a good fit on any team. As such, there’s going to be a huge target painted on its head. We’ve seen some risky metagame calls at Worlds before; Arash Ommati’s Worlds-winning Mamoswine in a similarly Landorus-infested metagame is perhaps the most relevant example for this year’s competitors. Will we see another breakout pick?
At every World Championships, we’ve seen pocket picks be revealed to varying degrees of success. From Ray Rizzo’s Gothitelle in 2011 to Sejun Park’s Pachirisu last year, there’s always something lurking in the shadows of the metagame. I’m hesitant to make any predictions on what’ll come out this year, but be prepared to see some novel solutions to what competitors expect others to bring.
I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone who helped me collect information on invitations: Boomguy (Asia Pacific); DalesHand (South Africa); Pephan and DonVGC (Latin America); Benji and Bopper (North America) and finally LithiumAcid and Shinon64 (Japan and South Korea).
From this point on, I’ll be going through the list of qualified players in the Masters Division by country, as well as providing some historical background where relevant. Players in bold have received automatic invitations to day two (Saturday) Swiss.
Editor’s note: I’ve split the countries into three categories based on their historical strength. Countries in each category are sorted by their number of invitees. Please don’t complain to Wyrms Eye about these rankings—go yell at Edward Fan (iss) instead.
Countries in this category have historically performed very well at Worlds. Look for players from these countries to dominate top cut.
- Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) – 1st NA
- Toler Webb (Dimsun) – 2nd NA
- Aaron Zheng (Cybertron) – 3rd NA
- Blake Hopper (Bopper) – 5th NA
- Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom) – 6th NA
- Angel Miranda (CT MikotoMisaka) – 7th NA
- Hayden McTavish (enigne) – 8th NA
- Jeudy Azarelli (SoulSur) – 2nd 2014 WC
- Demitrios Kaguras (Kingdjk) – 9th NA
- Paul Chua (pwny person) – 10th NA
- Nikolai Zielinski (Nikolai) – 11th NA
- Alberto Lara (Sweeper) – 13th NA
- James Ball (pball0010) – 14th NA
- Conan Thompson (Conan) – 16th NA
- Chase Lybbert (I Am A Rookie) – 17th NA
- Gavin Michaels (kingofmars) – 19th NA
- Aaron Liebersbach (Arch) – 21st NA
- Zach Droegkamp (Braverius) – 22nd NA
- Andrew Burley (Andykins) – 23rd NA
- Colten Lybbert (Rookie Slayer MLG) – 24th NA
- Alec Rubin (amr97) – 25th NA
- Bridger Snow (squirtwo) – 26th NA
- Riley Factura (gengarboi) – 27th NA
- Gabby Snyder (JTK) – 28th NA
- Justin Burns (Spurrific) – 29th NA
- William Hall (Biosci) – 30th NA
- Ben Irons (BenjiTheGreat) – 31st NA
- Alejandro Jimenez (Legacy) – 32nd NA
- Cedric Bernier (Talon) – 33rd NA
- Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario) – 34th NA
- Len Deuel (Alaka) – 35th NA
- Thomas McCready (Tmac) – 36th NA
- Evan Bates (Veteran Padgett) – 37th NA
- James Baek (Jamesspeed1) – 38th NA
- Chance Alexander (Paragon) – 39th NA
- Jake Muller (majorbowman) – 40th NA
Few could argue against the fact that the United States has been the most dominant force in VGC in the past few years. The proof consists of three consecutive Worlds titles between 2010 and 2012 (courtesy of Ray Rizzo) and a tremendous amount of top cut finishes, with 2013 being the only year without an American in the final (thanks to an unnamed confusion-inducing move). In betting terms, the US’s chances of being represented in top cut are pretty much odds on. For the first time in half a decade, Ray will not be competing at Worlds; however, in his place are a whole host of household names.
Seven players are already guaranteed their Day 2 berth, and all of them have very noteworthy resumes. Wolfe Glick, perhaps the new holder of the best-player-who’s-never-won-Worlds title after Sejun finally took his last year, is widely expected to do well. The 2012 runner-up is predicted to make top cut by nearly everyone I’ve spoken to. Toler Webb is coming off of a huge US Nationals win and has previous experience in this department with his 2012 Worlds win the Senior Division, so keep an eye out for him as well. Coming in third is Aaron Zheng, no stranger to the Worlds stage. Behind his YouTube and commentary performances, Aaron has quietly put together a very impressive season, headlined by a Regionals win and a top four finish at Nationals. He’s a versatile and innovative player, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll pull out this year. In fifth is Angel Miranda, who’s viewed by many as a sleeper pick to make top cut. He’s consistently found some of the best anti-metagame Pokémon, including Pachirisu prior to Sejun’s run at Worlds last year. Finishing up the top eight are Blake Hopper, Collin Heier, and Hayden McTavish, three players who have consistently put up solid results. They might not have the flashiest teambuilding, but they’ve shown an incredible ability to do well no matter the competition.
The rest of team USA is no slouch, either. Let’s start with last year’s runner-up, Jeudy Azzarelli. While he hasn’t had a great season so far (as historically has been the case with auto-invitees), his performance last year cannot be ignored. Top players never lose their capacity to play well and make reads, so I’m fairly confident that he’ll put in a good showing. Paul Chua has been at the top of the Battle Spot rankings all year, and his numerous run-ins with Aaron has made him quite a popular player—I’d be surprised if he didn’t make day two. Gavin Michaels has always been a strong offensive player, and his 2013 Nationals success makes him a good pick to go far. Look out for familiar names such as Zach Droegkamp, Ben Irons, and Len Deuel to do well as well.
- Syouma Honami (@SHADEviera) – JP National Champion
- Daiki Moriyama (@mor1yama) – JP National Runner Up
- Ryouta Otsubo (@barudoru) – JP National T4
- ‘BIDC’ (@BIDcp) – JP National T4
- ‘Penguin’ (@penguin2142) – JP National T8
- ‘Sharon’ (@syaronalex) – JP National T8
- ‘achamasu’ (@acyasatana)
- ‘Elm’ (@elm_motochika)
- ‘hayato’ (@hayatostar1025)
- ‘Iori’ (@UDON_OC_bot)
- ‘Jimon’ (@Jimon_Togekiss / Shinon64)
- ‘Kamedori’ (@KMDR_______)
- ‘Lemonade’ (@remone_do)
- ‘Masa’ (@masaVAmpharos)
- ‘Motoki’ (@motoki0101)
- ‘Rimo’ (@rimoconut)
- ‘Ryokon’ (@ryokonVGC)
- ‘Ryz’ (@Ryiz_Flannel)
- Daichi Kumabe ‘Scar’ (@Scar3020)
- ‘SF’ (@Uwaki_shin)
- ‘ShotaY./yamacya-‘ (@yamacya_hiromi)
- Yosuke Isagi ‘Tony’ (@tonykuso69)
- ‘Yoko’ (@yoko_clover)
- ‘YT’ (@YTPPSR)
Japan was dominant in the early years of VGC, but they’ve failed to make a huge impact at Worlds in previous years due to very low invite counts. Nevertheless, the players that they do send tend to do very well, most notably Ryosuke Kosuge’s 2nd and 5th place finishes in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Additionally, Japan’s innovative Pokémon and teams have continued to influence metagames throughout the world.
This year, expect to see a Japanese resurgence. A quirk in the tournament structure means that any Japanese player who shows up in Boston will be able to play in day one Swiss, effectively giving Japan an unlimited number of invites. The list above contains players who have stated their intention to attend. Most recognizable of those declared are Daichi Kumabe (Scar) and Yosuke Isagi (Tony), two names familiar to anyone who follows the Japanese scene. Expect them and others to make a splash at the event.
Six players qualified for day two through the more traditional route of Japanese Nationals (two of the top eight did not receive paid trips, and will not be attending). Syouma Honami and Daiki Moriyama made fantastic runs through the aforementioned tournament to make it to the finals, so look out for them to do well on the world stage. Ryouta Otsubo finished 20th at last year’s event, and he’ll be looking to improve on that finish. This is Japan, though, and none of their players can be counted out, especially when the field is as wide open as it is.
- Baris Ackos (Billa) – 1st EU
- Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37) – 2nd EU
- Markus Stefan (Blacklag) – 7th EU
- Matthias Suchodolski (Lega) – 9th EU
- Tobias Koschitzki – 10th EU
- Lajos Kowalewski (Lajo) – 12th EU
- Luca Breitlig-Pause (sewadle) – 13th EU
- Adrian Baumann (Euler) – 14th EU
- Florian Wurdack (DaFlo) – 15th EU
- Dominic Scheffler (TheFlashColonel) – 16th EU
- Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana) – 18th EU
- Eloy Hahn (Dragoran5) – 20th EU
- Christian Cheynubrata (ChrisDC) – 23rd EU
- Christoph Kugeler (drug duck) – 37th EU
- Anilcon Ackos (Billabro) – 50th EU
- Sven Kracht (nwe Python) – 51st EU
Germany, the current powerhouse of Europe, has dominated the continent for the past few years. This year is no exception, with 16 Germans confirmed to be attending Worlds and an impressive 10 qualified for day two (the most of any country). Despite the numbers, Germany has failed to translate their impressive Nationals results into Worlds success. They’re trying to turn it around, though—Markus Liu’s top four finish at last year’s event was quite impressive, and in general the Germans have been doing better in recent years.
I’ll start by noting that Markus Liu unfortunately won’t be attending this year—his exam schedule means he cannot make it to Boston. In his place, however, are a slew of great players. Markus Stadter was a favorite last year, and his victory at UK Nationals this year proves he’s still got what it takes. Baris Ackos has been having a great season with a pair of top four Nationals finishes, and he’ll be looking to turn his European CP championship into a solid Worlds placing. Matthias Suchodolski, Florian Wurdack, and Lajos Kowalewski have all proven to be very strong players in the past—they’ll almost certainly be in contention late on day two.
- Eugenio Discalzi (XG J4SON) – 3rd EU
- Francesco Pardini (Alexis) – 4th EU
- Arash Ommati (Mean) – 5th EU
- Matteo Gini (Matty) – 6th EU
- Alberto Gini (BraindeadPrimeape) – 24th EU
- Tirso Buttfuoco (Fuoco24) – 34th EU
- Pietro Chiri (kirro) – 39th EU
- Michelangelo Baudanza (IP Ender) – 41st EU
- Aniello Iuliano (Senior14) – 54th EU
In prior years, much like Japan, Italy has not sent many players to the World Championships, but those who do go always do well. This year will be different, with nine talented players making the trip to Boston. Francesco Pardini and Matteo Gini made top cut at the 2011 event, with Matteo reaching the finals before losing to Ray Rizzo. Arash Ommati went one step further in 2013, defeating Ryosuke Kosuge in Vancouver to become World Champion. These three players, along with Eugenio Discalzi, have secured their spots in day two, where they’ll be real threats.
In the second tier of players, Alberto Gini has been touted by some, including my friend Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson), as one of the likeliest players to make it to day two. I, too, agree that he’ll be a real threat. The rest of Italy’s players are also quite formidable, so look out for a breakout performance from any of them.
- Sejun Park – 2014 World Champion
- @ko_mali – SK National Champion
There are three things in life that are certain: death, taxes and Sejun Park qualifying for Worlds. In many ways, the history of South Korea at Worlds is the history of Sejun Park. In terms of both teambuilding and battling, Sejun has been one of the most talented players ever to play the game. After a second place finish in the Senior Division in 2011, he reached top cut in his first year as a Master in 2012, and went undefeated in Swiss in 2013 to top cut once again (narrowly losing to eventual runner-up Ryosuke Kosuge). Last year, he finally achieved what many felt was long overdue and took home the title. Sejun will be looking to emulate Ray Rizzo’s three-peat feat and retain the title, but will face stiff competition even in day two Swiss. Many players are expecting him to at least reach the elimination stages, and I find it hard to argue any differently. I would certainly put him as the favorite to win in. With a shrewd tactical mind that can calculate an endgame as well as anyone currently active on the circuit, it’s incredibly hard to outmaneveur Sejun. He will be joined, albeit through day one Swiss as I currently understand it, by @ko_mali, the Korean National Champion. I certainly believe Ko will have a decent chance of joining Sejun on Day 2, and it will be interesting to watch his progress.
Countries in this category have sent players to Worlds in the past, but haven’t seen quite the level of success of the top tier. Expect to see several of these players making it to day two, and maybe even one or two in top cut.
- Jamie Miller (Blaze King7) – 11th EU
- Lee Provost (Osirus) – 21st EU
- Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson) – 26th EU
- Brandon Ikin (Toquill) – 33rd EU
- William Tansley (StarKO) – 36th EU
- James Kean (Sweet Clive) – 40th EU
- Rachel Annand (SP Eevee) – 42nd EU
- Jeremy Mantingh (Jezza) – 43rd EU
- Brian Zourdani – 44th EU
- Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs) – 47th EU
- Jake Birch (WhiteAfroKing92) – 48th EU
Editor’s note: Before you bring torches to Wyrms’ house, remember that he didn’t create these rankings.
The UK has never been short of characters or fan favourites, and this year is likely to be no exception either. Despite sending an impressive number of players to worlds on a yearly basis, their track record has largely been disappointing when compared with the likes of Germany, Italy and Spain. Daniel Nolan, Ben Gould, and Lee Provost are the only UK players to have ever made top cut (in 2011, 2013, and 2014 respectively).
This could very well be a transition year for the UK, with the majority of the attendees being debutants to this event. Jamie Miller, Lee Provost and Barry Anderson will be looking to guide the UK fortunes forward with their previous travails at this level, with Lee a likely front-runner to qualify for day two after his impressive 7th place finish last year. Similarly, Barry will be one of the favorites to make the second day, sporting a 9th place finish in 2013 on his resume. Jamie meanwhile will be looking to improve on the 2-4 record he came away with last year, which seems like a reasonable expectation.
It must be said that the UK players have done well at European Regionals, with Barry winning in the Netherlands and Brandon Ikin and Jamie Boyt making the finals in Germany. Jamie also went undefeated in Swiss in both Germany and UK Regionals, which certainly shows he can read a game very quickly. As for Brandon, he’s been on an impressive hot streak of results that dates back to the Nugget Bridge Major and looks to have matured as a player this year. Brandon and Jamie, along with the remaining players, are all first-time Worlds players, and as such it’ll be a stiff task to do well in Boston.
- Phil Nyugen (Boomguy)– 2nd Asia Pacific CP
- Matthew Roe (RoeySK) – 4th Asia Pacific
- Mustafaa Olomi (mustytkd) – 13th Asia Pacific
- Lionel Pryce (CatGonk) – 14th Asia Pacific
- Mitch Kendrick (Mitch) – 16th Asia Pacific
Despite being newcomers to the Worlds scene, with 2013 being their first year, Australia has surprised many outsiders. The scene has expanded tremendously, and their best-of-three 2014 Swiss Nationals was a successful pilot for US Nationals this year. Last year, Australia made a huge splash, with Dayne O’Meara making top cut in one of the biggest upsets in the tournament.
Australia has benefited tremendously from their improved infrastructure. A series of well-run events during the spring and summer have allowed the players to pick up well-needed practice. Phil Nguyen is Australia’s sole day two qualifier; he’s been around the scene for a long time, and two Nationals top cuts this year make for a promising appearance at Worlds. Expect a lot of “C’mon!” to ring around the halls if Phil does well! Joining him are four players who will have an uphill battle from day one Swiss. I’m still not convinced that Australia has fully caught up to the rest of the world, although Matthew Roe seems to hold a lot of promise after winning Australian Nationals. It’ll be interesting to see if anyone can make a long run.
- Theron Ho (BlazingSceptile) – 1st Asia Pacific
- Wai Yin Low (TextFont) – 3rd Asia Pacific
- Kenny Lee Yong Hwee – 6th Asia Pacific
- Zulherryka Yusor (Mewzxc) – 9th Asia Pacific
- Shawn Tang – 12th Asia Pacific
Thanks to the newly created Asia Pacific region, Singapore will be sending several of its best players to the World Championships. Historically, several Singaporeans have attempted to make it through the LCQ gauntlet, but they’ve only succeeded once (in 2013). This year, they were blessed with their own Nationals, which they took great advantage of. The Singapore community have also actively attempted to run international friendlies throughout the year; hopefully, their attempts will pay off in Worlds success.
Theron Ho secured his spot day two Swiss by placing 1st in the region. Theron has been an impressive battler for several years, doing very well in Singapore’s local Elite 4 events. He finished second at Australian Nationals, defeating some impressive names along the way. I certainly think that Theron will fit right in with the other day two competitors. The four other qualifiers from Singapore have a tough task ahead of them; I’m not familiar with their achievements outside of their performances this year, so it’s hard for me to give an accurate estimate of what to expect. Wai Yin Low went undefeated at Singapore Nationals before being beaten in top cut by Phil Nyugen, and Zulherryka Yusor also was among those to top cut in Singapore. There’s a possibility that one of these two in particular may break through into the second day, but I wouldn’t bet on it yet.
- Miguel Marti de la Torre (Sekiam) – 8th EU
- Alejandro Gomez (Pokealex) – 60th EU
- Eric Rios (riopaser) – 3rd WC Seniors
Once one of the best countries in Europe, Spain has largely fallen off in recent years after losing their own Nationals, but they still manage to put up good results. With a pair of top four finishes in 2011 and 2012 followed by a top eight finish last year by Miguel Marti de la Torre, Spain will be looking to continue to punch above their weight.
As mentioned previously, Miguel returns once again, a seasoned veteran to the world stage after a 3-3 appearance in 2012 and his 6th place finish from last year. He will certainly be the man most likely to drive Spain’s fortunes, and his impressive season so far, securing a paid invite with two convincing National Championship runs, has been very impressive. Miguel will be joined by compatriots Alejandro Gomez, who claimed the final qualifying spot in Europe in his first year as a Master, and Eric Rios, who placed third last year in Seniors. Both will be looking to sneak into day two and beyond.
- Thomas Schadinger (TH1806) – 27th EU
- Alexander Kuhn (Hibiki) – 46th EU
While Germany, the UK, and Italy claimed the vast majority of Europe’s invites, other countries have also managed to grab a few deserved spots. Austria has shown that it can hold its own, and it’ll be sending two representatives to Worlds this year. Both Thomas and Alexander did well at European Nationals, with Thomas placing top 32 in Milan while Alexander top cut in Stuttgart.
- Raphael Bagara (rapha) – 4th NA
- Max Douglas (starmetroid) – 15th NA
Largely underrepresented at the top level, Canada is definitely one of the few countries at this championship that deserves more players. The circuit doesn’t favor them with extremely few CP events, but the two players this year who have qualified have done so with gusto. Raphael Bagara claimed a day two invite with an underdog second-place finish at US Nationals, proving his ability to play the game at a high level. It’ll be his debut appearance at Worlds, but given the tough schedule he ran through in Indianapolis, this should be a cakewalk by comparison. Max Douglas will join Raphael in Boston, but will start in the crowded day one field. Max’s season has largely been headlined by his strong Premier Challenge and Regional results. As always, however, Worlds is a different stage, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can overcome the odds.
The Newcomers and the Lone Wolves
Countries in this category have either never made it to Worlds before, or only have a single player attending the tournament. It’ll be interesting to see if any of the competitors below can make it to day two, or even construct a breakout run to the top.
- Juan Naar (DonVGC) – 1st Latin America
- Luis Alberto Rubio (Signum) – 2nd Latin America
- Alfredo J Prada – 7th Latin America
- Fredy Vanegas – 8th Latin America
- Mateo Arias – 12th Latin America
While it is Columbia’s first time at Worlds for VGC, the country will send a impressive handful of players, including the only day two invitees for Latin America. It seems likely that this set of players will provide Latin America’s best results this year. I’m curious to see how Juan Naar and Luis Alberto Rubio fare in the cutthroat day two proceedings, particularly Juan. They’ve shown promise over the last few years, and Juan’s impressive Battle Spot resume should make him a real threat. Still, given his inexperience, I’m hesitant to predict anything above a 3-3 finish for him. I’m not too familiar with the rest of the players, so it’ll be interesting to see how they do.
- Omar Acuna (TG Homero) – 6th Latin America
- Javier Valdes (IR Nemesis) – 10th Latin America
- Heriberto Pacaje (Kaze) – 11th Latin America
- Felipe Mendez (TR Kid TG) – 16th Latin America
Chile is sending four players to Boston, all through day one Swiss. All four will be looking to make a good first impression on the world stage. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much information on tournaments in Latin America so I don’t have much to say here (something that will hopefully be remedied next year with better communication), but I’m sure they’ll be keen to outperform the rest of their local peers.
- Jose Carlos G. Marquez – 3rd Latin America
- Diego Loayza – 4th Latin America
- Henry Laura – 13th Latin America
- Brenndan M. – 18th Latin America
In terms of Championship Points, Peru will field a rather impressive lineup of players. Similarly to Chile, there isn’t much of a scouting report on these guys, so it’ll be up to the players to write their stories. It’ll be interesting to see which Latin American country can come out on top in this melee.
- Gustavo Braz (BrazBR) – 9th Latin America
Brazil is sending a single representative to Worlds this year. Gustavo, like most players from his region, is unproven; I think Worlds will serve as a litmus test for the strength of Latin America. A positive day one record should probably be his goal here.
- Yohan Pagonakis – 56th EU
France has never been particularly strong in VGC, and over the last few years they’ve only sent a small handful of players to Worlds; not a single French player made it to D.C. last year. Yohan Pagonakis will carry the French hope to Boston this weekend, and his performance should be interesting to watch. Historically, French players have finished in the middle of the pack at Worlds, so a positive day one record will be a solid result for him.
- Edward Cheung (Harbinger) – 8th Asia Pacific
Edward will be Hong Kong’s first ever representative at the World Championships, giving him the opportunity to set HK’s reputation on the global stage. As always, though, Worlds is a brutal tournament for first-time competitors, so it’ll be quite a challenge for him to make day two. It’ll be interesting to see how Hong Kong (and the rest of Southeast Asia) manage to grow their scene in the next few years, especially with China legalizing Pokémon a few months ago.
- Kelly Mercier-White (KellsterCartier) – 35th EU
I think Kelly has done a lot for the Irish scene: he’s really energized a country and pushed them to compete at a level that has made them much more competitive overall. There are signs that there’s real talent in the country, and Kelly is the yardstick that they are all chasing. This will be Kelly’s second excursion to the World Championships, and unlike last year, I feel that he has a solid chance of making a reasonable tournament run. There’s an outside chance that he might make the second day, but there are a lot of solid individuals that he will be competing against, so a positive record seems the most likely outcome.
- Zarif Ayman (Hikari0307) – 5th Asia Pacific
Much like Hong Kong, Malaysia will be sending their first representative to the World Championships this year. Zarif Ayman managed to win Singapore Nationals, and given the improving strength of the region, that accomplishment should not be underestimated. I think Zarif has a good chance at making it to day two, but as always it won’t come easily.
- Genaro Vallejo (ReckonerX) – 15th Latin America
Perhaps it’s somewhat of a surprise to see Mexico only sending a single representative this year, as the country held two Regional events, one more than most South American countries. That said, Mexico did have a brief foray into the VGC scene last year—after all, who could forget the madness of the 300-man Premier Challenge that occurred! That event certainly proved there was a huge appetite for the game and tournaments in Mexico, and might have been a catalyst in boosting the region in general. Genaro will be looking to set the bar for the country, although I don’t expect much beyond an even record given the strength of field.
- Huib Buijssen (Lolnub) – 22nd EU
The Dutch have received Worlds invites in the past, but as far as I can tell no one from the country has ever attended the event for VGC. The wait is finally over, with Huib Buijssen taking the hopes of the Netherlands to Boston. I think he’s a fairly strong player, and he’d be my dark horse pick to slip into day two. This could be quite a promising event for him.
- Nikolai Kucherenko (Zellel) – RU National Champion
I think most people in the community were caught by surprise when Russia announced their own circuit and Worlds invite. The scale of their tournaments was very impressive, with a dozen or so Regional-level events culminating in an invite-only finals. Russia will be represented by Nikolai Kucherenko, a player who seemed to be a dominant force in the country if blogs and firsthand accounts are anything to go by. Nikolai is a huge question mark, and could honestly finish anywhere in the tournament. I think he’s definitely a player to keep an eye on, especially if he can make it into the second day.
I’d like to wish everyone’s who competing this weekend the best of luck. Reaching Worlds is no easy feat, after all, and you all should already be proud of yourselves. Thanks for reading through this incredibly long article; this required a ton of research and friends in the right places. If you’d like to voice your opinion on who you think will do well, feel free to leave a comment below. Enjoy the event, and welcome to the 2015 Pokémon World Championships!