Australian Regionals finally announced: What this means for their representation at Worlds

Despite being a host nation for one of the season’s International Championships, Australia has zero Regional Championships this season. At least, this was the case until May 26th, nearly a month before the pre-Worlds stage of the season comes to a close, where two regionals seemingly appeared overnight on the official Pokemon.com event locator.

A Little Late

No kidding. After an entire season of no major events since the Melbourne International Championships, Australia finally has Regional Championships on its schedule. Suffering a large downgrade from seven regionals last season, many were confused as to why there were no regionals announced for a country that was to host one of the biggest events of the season. Finally an announcement comes in May for two regionals happening two weeks apart from each other in June. These two regionals could be “make or break” tournaments for most Australian players, as their Championship totals are not as high as other major regions.

Let’s Talk Championship Points

These are the current Championship Point standings for the Oceania region, where 250 points (formally 350) are required to qualify for the World Championships. Much like Europe, Australia received a 100 point deduction to their CP bar for qualification due to the low amount of potential qualifiers from these regions. According to these current standings, four players (plus Zoe Lou the Melbourne IC champion who is not listed for some reason) have qualified from Australia. Beyond the top 15, there are seven other Australian players who exceed 200 CP.

With only two regionals, a few premier challenges and the current May International Challenge happening this weekend, the remaining CP required for these players could be quite tricky to obtain.

What This Means For Players Still Looking to Qualify

Here is the CP payout structure for 2017 Regional Championships. Considering the fact that it is late into the season and Australia not having the largest competitive scene, the kicker here becomes very important. Some North American and European Regionals have struggled to make the 128 player mark, which makes CP possible for the top 32. If one or both of these Australian regionals don’t break 128 players, a top 16 or better placing becomes the only way for players around the 200 CP mark to qualify if they’re are only able to attend one of these events.

Timing is also a concern for some players. Since these regionals are so close together time-wise (June 10th/June 24th) this could mean only one of these events is possible for some players who have monetary or schedule conflicts. With such a high placing being necessary for some Australian players to qualify, the one event some may decide to attend could be a make or break tournament.

Underrepresented in Anaheim?

While the announcement of regionals for Australia will ensure more invites for the region, this is still quite a step back from the plethora of events from last season. With an invite structure like 2017’s, having a good amount of tournaments for a region is essential for reasonably distributing invites.

Australia had a total of 31 masters qualify for the 2016 World Championships, and we’re likely to see more than half of that amount reduced for 2017. Granted, 2016’s CP requirement was much lower, but Australia has shown to be a fairly formidable region with two players in the Top Cut in two of the last three World Championships.

The 2017 season has been for the most part a flop on the end of TPCi in terms of tournament organization and communication with their player base, and Australia’s situation is no different. I hope that these upcoming regionals in Sydney and Perth will secure invites for more Australian players and that TPCi learns from their mistakes this season with Australia being one of the examples to look back on.

Thanks for reading!


Images courtesy of Pokemon.com

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Pokemon VGC’s Championship Point Dilemma

Recently, there have been a number of players voicing their opinions on the current championship point structure and what it could mean for the future of Pokemon VGC.

A Rundown of the Problem

The current championship point (CP) requirement for Worlds qualification in the two major regions (United States and Europe) is 500. The remaining regions of Latin America, Asia Pacific, and South Africa require 350 points.

With the adjusted tournament structure now offering smaller CP payouts for placings beyond top 16, best finish limits set in place, and limits to the frequency of local tournaments, The Pokemon Company (TPCi) has quite a problem to fix.

The current structure caters heavily to high-level players who can afford to travel, which isn’t ideal for the game’s growth. With the bar at 500 CP to qualify for Worlds and fewer ways to earn those points, there is less incentive for new players to compete. Basically, it’s extremely hard to qualify for Worlds if you are a less-experienced player who can’t afford to travel to higher CP events.

Perhaps a solution would be to lower the Worlds’ CP bar to 350 or 400 with the current CP payouts as a way to properly scale how much CP is awarded at each tournament level. This way, there’s incentive to attend local tournaments which could translate to higher attendance at larger ones. This could make Worlds qualification more accessible, which would allow top players to shift their focus to making it further in the tournament.

However, some would say lowering the bar would make Worlds too easy to qualify for. This was an issue in 2016 when local tournaments could be “farmed” for CP, which made higher level tournaments seem less significant. However, it also made the scene much more accessible for local players, which is obviously great for the game’s potential growth.

See the problem here?

We either have tournaments that appeal to top performing players and “wallet warriors”, or we lower the CP bar making Worlds an easier tournament to qualify for.

Now that there’s a general outline of the problem, let’s dive into some specific topics that players have brought up regarding the issue.

International Championships and the Best Finish Limit

With the best finish limit for Internationals set at four, the mentality of “quantity over quality” is very applicable if a player is able travel and perform well. With top players in each region receiving stipends to travel to each country’s Internationals, it makes it too easy to flood these tournaments with players from regions that already have enough tournaments to qualify for Worlds.

On the other hand, if TPCi restricts the best finish limit to one and limits incentive to travel, one or two bad finishes for a top player could end their season.

Regional Favoritism

It’s obvious that North America is the region with the best treatment in Pokemon VGC. The US has the most tournaments and most coverage over any region in the circuit, which explains the large number of American players at Worlds.

More US players receive stipends, allowing them to travel to and dominate tournaments overseas. The more developed scene makes community-organized tournaments possible to award a travel award to the winner.

Of course, countries like Japan need an improved qualification structure, buts that’s been an issue since the beginning.

The Return of the LCQ?

The Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) was a tournament held the day before Worlds as an opportunity for non-invited players to play for a chance to compete at the main event.

No one is certain why the LCQ was discontinued, as it was an incentive for non-invitees to attend Worlds. Not to mention, it also produced a World Champion in the Seniors division in 2013.

It was popular among the community, which gives it even less of a reason to be absent from Worlds. With the recent attendance restrictions at the 2016 World Championships and now the Sao Paulo Internationals, you’d think TPCi is deliberately trying to make their tournaments smaller.

Final Thoughts

What we should take away from this is that no tournament structure is going to please everyone. The championship point structure is crucial to every aspect of Pokemon VGC’s tournament structure including maintaining the player base. If you don’t appeal to new players, the game won’t grow, but if you disappoint the veterans, people will leave.

TPCi has some big questions to answer when deciding how to handle their 2018 season. There’s no clear solution, but there’s a lot that needs improvement.

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