Published on August 2nd, 2015 | by jenbamo


New York & New Jersey Invitational Preview

Hi everyone,

I’m Jen Badamo, Tournament Organizer and VG Judge from Queens, NY.

I’ve been a TO for about two years and was lucky enough to be included in the group chosen to pilot Premier Challenges last year. Right now, I run PCs in Brooklyn, NY and Matawan, NJ. This past Nationals, I had the privilege to Judge VG for Masters and Seniors. You’ll also see me in Boston staffing Worlds!

It’s an understatement when I say this year has been a great one. So when a few players approached me about running a tournament similar to the BC Invitational, I thought it would be a great way for me to say thanks to the community and showcase local players.

Tournament Format & Details

The Invitational will be a best of three single elimination tournament. We wanted to do double elimination but decided on single due to time constraints. To make up for this, the first 16 and next eight players eliminated will go into two separate brackets (Alpha for 16, Omega for 8) to compete for prizes, including free entry for the winners to one of my Premier Challenges next season.

Invitations were decided by a number of factors:

  1. Overall Championship Points earned at all of the Premier Challenges I organized
  2. 1st and 2nd place finishers at these PCs
  3. Player’s Choice survey
  4. TO’s Choice

We have a lot of great Seniors in the area so I definitely wanted to include them in this tournament. We can’t showcase local talent without featuring our Seniors. It’s worth noting that all of the Seniors playing in the Invitational have secured invites to the World Championships.

List of players

  • Aaron Traylor (Player’s Choice)
  • Aaron Zheng
  • Angel Miranda
  • Brendan Zheng
  • Bryan Tong
  • Chuppa Cross
  • Dan Levinson
  • Dorian Nousias
  • Jake Rosen
  • Jake Skurchak
  • James Baek
  • Jeudy Azzarelli
  • Jiovaine Neita
  • Jonathan Evans
  • Joseph Pulkowski
  • Joshua Lorcy (Picked by Paul Chua to receive his Player’s Choice slot)
  • Jun Tumaneng
  • Kazi Rahman
  • Matthew Terriberry
  • Michael Lanzano
  • Michael Spinetta-McCarthy
  • Mihrab Samad
  • MK Choy
  • Nicholas Borghi
  • Patrick Donegan
  • Simon Yip
  • Sohaib Mufti
  • Stephen Mea
  • Tommy Cooleen
  • Trista Medine
  • Walter Morales
  • Zach Droegkamp (TO’s Choice)

Invited but not attending:

  • Kylie Chua
  • Mark Garas
  • Paul Chua (Player’s Choice)
  • Rayad Khan
  • Sean Caliendo
  • Zachary Boyd

Here’s some background on the competitors.


Aaron Traylor (Unreality) has 30% of the overall votes from the Player’s Choice survey, deservedly so. He won St. Louis Regionals this year and has the most CP in New England for 2015. Other finishes of note: 1st in San Jose Regionals, 4th at Nationals and 14th at Worlds all in 2011 as a Senior as well as top 32 at Nationals in 2012 as a Master and top 16 in the 2013 LCQ.


Aaron Zheng (Cybertron) really needs no introduction. He’s very well known in the community, both through his competitive accomplishments (back-to-back Senior National Championships in 2011 and 2012, 3rd at Worlds in 2013, and most recently 4th at 2015 Nationals, just to name a few) and his excellent YouTube channel. Aaron is heading off to college on the West Coast in the fall.


Angel Miranda (CT MikotoMisaka) is known for playing both the trading card game and the video game but made the decision this year to focus solely on VGC, to everyone else’s detriment and dismay. Angel has had an excellent season with two Regional Top 4s– Athens and Virginia– and Top 8 at Nationals. Angel’s notable TCG finishes include 1st at 2013 PA States, Top 4 at RI States, Top 8 at Virginia Regionals and Top 16 at Massachusetts Regionals in 2014.


Brendan Zheng (Babbytron) is the 2013 Junior World Champion, as well as a five time Regional Champion and 2nd place finisher at Nats in 2011. Admittedly, we haven’t seen much of Brendan locally, though he did come out swinging early on in the season, taking 1st at the Kick-Off Premier Challenge. Even though he seems to be binge watching Netflix instead of practicing, he still had a better season than most players. He can most often be found antagonizing Aaron, his older brother, on Twitter.

Bryan Tong (AwakenedZero) has a 1st place and 2 Top 8 finish for Premier Challenges this season and has attended every one of my PCs this year.


Chuppa N. Cross IV (Chuppa, aka Choopa Croos) is the vegetarian of the group, likes plaid shirts and alt rock… ahem. I mean he finished top 16 at APEX in 2014 as well as 2nd at Massachusetts Regionals in the same year. This season, Chuppa has the most CP earned by a Master from my PCs.


Dan Levinson (dtrain) “bubbled to make Worlds” in both the 2010 and 2012 LCQ (his words), was Top 4 at the 2006 JAA NYC Qualifier, Top 8 at the now defunct Newark Regionals in 2010, Top 16 at Virginia Regionals in 2011, Top 8 at Virginia Regionals and 2nd at Toronto Regionals both in 2013. He also has two Top 8 finishes from Premier Challenges this season.


Dorian Nousias (CrazyBlissey) had an impressive Premier Challenge run this season with two 1st place finishes to go along with 3rd and 4th place finishes. He was 13th at Virginia Regionals this year and placed Top 32 at last year’s Worlds LCQ. Dorian was also the NYU Grassroots Tournament Champion and is the creator of CrazyDojo.


Jake Rosen (SableyeMagma) is the Senior most known for constantly changing his teams at the last minute but he has a pretty sweet resume so I guess it works. Jake’s most recent (2015) achievements include 2nd at Philly Regionals, 8th at Massachusetts Regionals, 1st at a Holmes Premier Challenge, six 2nd place PC finishes and Top 64 at Nationals.


Jake Skurchak (Pokebeys) started off in TCG but (in his own words) “found out he was terrible at it,” so he switched to VG in 2014. The switch paid off and Jake has had a breakout 2015 season, finishing Top 4 at Virginia Regionals, 2nd at Madison Regionals and Top 4 at US Nationals.


James Baek (Jamesspeed1) just aged up into the Masters division this year, much to the delight of local Seniors. In 2014, he had three consecutive Premier Challenges victories, grinded his way into Worlds via the LCQ and finished 36th. While some players find the transition to Masters difficult, James has seen great success with a 2nd place finish at Madison Regionals, two 2nd place finishes at PCs and a Day 2 (34th) at US Nationals.


Jeudy Azzarelli (Soul Survivor) qualified for his first World Championships last year and made it all the way to the finals before falling to Se Jun Park. He has the fortune of reliving this moment every time there’s an official live stream (sorry, dude). With his invite to this year’s Worlds intact, Jeudy could have taken the year off but instead he made it to Day 2 at US Nationals.


Jiovaine Neita (Jio) achieved 19th at Nationals in 2013, top cut at APEX in 2014 and 2015 and came back this year to take 1st at a PC and 1st at the last tournament we held before Nationals. He also managed the runner-up team “Lilycove Cruisers” from NPA 3. On a personal note, Jio wrote the most useful article for EV spreads that really helped me when I was first trying to learn competitive VG and I recommend it to everyone.


Jonathan Evans (Ezrael) is one of the most outspoken and eloquent players I know, which might stem from his years of Speech and Debate in high school. Notable finishes include 17th at Philly Regionals in 2014, 3rd in one of my PCs and 4th at this year’s APEX. He leaves us for Oxford in the Fall where I’m sure they’ll enjoy asking him not to sit on the table every day.

Joe Pulkowski (Sandman) came out of nowhere for me this season. I started out in card game so I really didn’t know VG player history beyond 2014. Sandman showed up to one of my PCs this year, a quiet and unassuming guy (I understand it was his first after a long break). Coming back from lunch he was late and unfortunately earned a loss for that round. He went on to win that tournament. Joe’s accomplishments include 2nd at Nationals and 4th at Worlds in 2012. 

Joshua Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou) is a newcomer to the VG scene but he sure had a great start. He has multiple top cut finishes at Premier Challenges this season and he’s extremely popular amongst the local community. Case in point, Player’s Choice Paul Chua (40% of the votes) asked if he could pick Joshua to take his spot since he couldn’t make it.


Jun Tumaneng (Cypher) likes to melt faces with his sick gloving technique when he isn’t bodying MK at Pokemon. Jun finished top 16 at Nationals in 2013, took 1st at APEX in 2014 and finished Top 8 at Virginia Regionals this year.


Kazi Rahman (AwakenedCity) chose last year’s LCQ as the perfect time to pick up VGC (ouch, dude). He stuck around though and has two 2nd place PC finishes and two Top 64s at Regionals this season.

Matthew Terriberry (CrazySnorlax) is the 2nd half of the “Crazies” duo. True to his nickname, he was too busy sleeping in the middle of the road to be interviewed for this write-up. Now where did that Poké Flute get to…


Michael Lanzano (JiveTime) wanted to play so badly that he punched Wolfe Glick … just kidding. I’d be here for a few days if I tried to fit in all of JiveTime’s accomplishments so I’ll stick to the past two years: 1st at Philly and Georgia Regionals, 3rd at APEX, 14th at Nationals and 26th at Worlds in 2014, 6th at Virginia and Mass Regionals and 10th at Georgia Regionals in 2015.


Michael Spinetta-McCarthy (SirChicken) has the unfortunate honor of being the first player to have something stolen at one of my tournaments (hopefully also the last). Luckily, said stolen item was later recovered by some diligence from the shop. Michael has pretty much steamrolled the Seniors this season, going undefeated at Massachusetts Regionals before finishing 2nd, taking 1st at Virginia and Philly Regionals, and has also thrown in two 1st, one 2nd and two Top 4 PC finishes for good measure.


Mihrab Samad (Megachar10) has 4 PC wins, Top 4 at Massachusetts Regionals, Top 8 at Philly Regionals and top 8 at US Nationals. He is also cool enough to have his own groupies. Get on his level, people.


MK Choy (Byaaakuren) is the wise old master of the group and has the credentials to go along with it – but on the TCG side of the game. MK was a Worlds Competitor in 2004 and 2008, Top 32 at Nationals in 2005, 2nd place at NY States in 2006, 4th at DE States in 2007, 3rd in NY States in 2009 and Top 8 at Regionals in 2006, 2007 and 2010. On the VG side, he took 2nd at a PC this year and has been helping me as a Judge ever since.


Nicholas Borghi (LightCore) has four 1st place finishes at Premier Challenges this season, along with a Top 8 at Philly Regionals, Top 64 at Georgia Regionals and Top 64 at US Nationals. Nick was voted “most likely to call you every day to tell you about his super cool Rattata.”


Patrick Donegan (Pd0nz) is “arguably the most omnipresent member of the Pokemon Community”… Anyway, Patrick has streamed pretty much every one of my Premier Challenges this year and hopefully he’s fixed his computer so we can stream the Invitational. When not racking up millions of frequent flier miles travelling to Italy and every which place for tournaments, he’s playing the Nugget Bridge circuit, with a Top 8 at the NB Major and has also qualified for the NB Invitational this year.


Simon Yip (Simon) has eight Premier Challenge top cuts in a row this season and was Top 8 at US Nationals in 2014. According to Simon, he bubbled Worlds in 2013 by 2 CP and again in 2014 by “slightly more than 2 CP.” He got Top 4 at Nationals and 17th at Worlds in 2011. He also carried Jun to the NPA2 Championship and will tour Europe this summer.


Sohaib Mufti (Sohaib) finished Top 64 in last year’s LCQ and followed that up by winning a Premier Challenge, finishing Top 16 at Athens Regionals and Top 128 at Nationals this season.


Stephen Mea (Gramgus) had a standout season with a BFL for Premier Challenges of 1, 1, 2, 2, and 4. He added to that with a Top 2 at Georgia Regionals, a Top 4 at Massachusetts Regionals and a Top 64 at Nationals.


Tommy Cooleen (Tman) is a member of the “5AM Crew” and is also made of titanium, not to be confused with Wolverine even though they both have that shaggy look going. Tommy’s resume include Top 32 in the Senior division at US Nationals in 2013, going undefeated in Swiss before finishing Top 16 at Virginia Regionals in 2014, Top 8 at Massachusetts Regionals also in 2014, and tTop 16 at Florida Regionals in 2015. He has three Premier Challenge wins as well.


Trista Medine (ryuzaki) has a 3 digit POP ID and is definitely tired of being asked about it every time she goes to a tournament. “Even though I couldn’t get out to many tournaments while living in rural Louisiana, I kept up with everything online and participated in the first iteration of the professor program where you only needed to be 15.”  To sum up her arm’s length list of accomplishments: Top 16 at Texas Regionals and Top 32 at Nationals in 2010, Texas Regional Champ and 9th place at Worlds in 2011, Top 16 at Texas and Missouri Regionals and Top 16 Nationals in 2012, 2nd at Georgia Regionals, Top 8 at Houston Regionals, Top 16 at Virginia Regionals, and Top 32 at both Nationals and Worlds in 2013, Top 4 at Massachusetts Regionals, Top 8 at Wisconsin Regionals, Top 16 at Philly Regionals, and 4th at APEX in 2014, and finally Top 16 at Philly Regionals and 9th at APEX in 2015. Plus some top cuts at Premier Challenges if you didn’t already feel completely inadequate in comparison to Trista.


Walter Morales (Wally1021) happened to find Nugget Bridge right before the LCQ last year, read up on competitive Pokemon and “figured DC would be a nice mini vacation.” He has three Top 4 finishes and many more Top 8 finishes at Premier Challenges this season.


Zach Droegkamp (Braverius) is the final player and the “TO’s Choice” for the Invitational. I knew coming in that I wanted to have a wild card choice. I had a few players in mind (Aaron Traylor and Josh Lorcy) but they were both chosen as part of the “Player’s Choice”. One name kept jumping out at me, though, and then he messaged me directly. From there it was a no-brainer. Zach has four Regional Championship wins, a 2nd at Missouri Regionals this year and has qualified to play in Worlds in 2013 and 2015.

So there you have it! The NY/NJ Invitational will be held on Saturday, August 8th at Jinx Collectibles in Matawan, NJ. We’ll be streaming from Aaron Zheng’s channel. Mike Suleski and Justin Carris will be commentating initially but I’m sure all of our players will jump on the stream at some point.

Thanks for reading and I hope you log on to watch!

Picture credits to Doug Morisoli, Sabrina Chowdhury, Team Magma and Jen Badamo.


About the Author

16 Responses to New York & New Jersey Invitational Preview

  1. megachar10 says:

    Can my squad ever be more on point?

  2. sohaib says:

    Lmaoo where did you find the pic from

  3. pookar says:

    i’ll probably head down to support Aaron Cybertron Traylor to win from out of region :3

  4. Gramgus says:

    Can my squad ever be more on point?

    Are you going to make shirts for worlds?

  5. LightCore says:

    Guys. I have perfect ivs in Hp, Attack, Defense, Special Defense and Speed! I also have so many egg moves on it. You guys are all gonna lose to my awesome Rattata! Might as well give up now 😉

  6. scal721 says:

    when u ditch an invitational for a pre-release :^l

  7. jenbamo says:

    Sohaib, I scoured my PC pictures and found one! Next season I’m going to make sure to take more pictures so I have one of everyone.

  8. Can my squad ever be more on point?

    At Nats next year can you make me a shirt

  9. Chuppa says:

    Great article, really looking forward to this event in a week. When are we going to know what the bracket looks like?

  10. fxelxy says:

    Really enjoyable read! Looking forward to the stream! 

  11. Artemis Flynn says:

    I has Jake Rosens’ hat…..

  12. Everess says:

    Such a fun article! Excited to see the stream!

  13. pokebeys says:

    tfw Jen calls you on your TCG skills… 😛

  14. Frenderman says:

    Can my squad ever be more on point?

    Sure, send me a shirt brah

  15. LightCore says:

    I should have brought Rattata. I would have brought it more than Azumarill, that’s for sure.

  16. Nucleose says:

    Will the stream highlights/videos be posted on the Nugget Bridge Youtube? I would love that if possible.

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