August has finally come for the Pokemon VGC community as The Pokemon Company delivered the 2019 season information we were promised in “late July.” With this whole “late July” meme behind us, we finally have information about the upcoming 2019 season. Many aspects of this structure are familiar to those of the 2018 season, but some key changes have been made in areas which many players are acknowledging as improvements over years past. However, not everything is as squeaky-clean upon first glance, as these new “positive changes” have not made everyone happy. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest changes coming to the 2019 VGC season so far.
Reviving the Local Scene
One of the major factors players point to as an attendance killer is the lack of importance for local tournaments. Premier Challenges (the lowest Championship-awarding tier of events) have been paying out less and less Championship Points over the years to the point where many players considered these events simply not worth the time or effort.
For the 2019 season, Premier Challenges now award 30 Championship Points to winners which is double the payout from last season. The drop-off from first to second is slightly steep with second getting only 16 CP, but that’s still better than winning a 2018 Premier Challenge.
The Best-Finish-Limit for these events still caps at two per series (based on certain periods during the season) which remains the same for Midseason Showdowns (the next tournament tier up). Players have been asking for Premier Challenges to mean more for Worlds qualification, and awarding more Championship Points was the perfect way to fix that.
However, there is one problem that still remains, the tournament attendance kicker. For official Pokemon events, CP payout is determined by attendance, and while Top 4 is guaranteed CP for Premier Challenges, Top 8 payouts require 24 players to be in the event. For smaller regions this still hurts, but hopefully more attendance is on the way for local scenes across the world.
The Melting of the Snowball?
Another problem from these last two seasons under the International Championship structure is that of the “snowball”. Basically, a player that did well earlier in the season would have a huge advantage as they would keep earning travel awards and more Championship Points to the point that they were way over the threshold to qualify for the World Championships. Imagine like a snowball rolling down a hill (hence the name).
The 2019 structure instead gives travel awards to players that earn the most Championship Points during a certain point during the season. For example, instead of having the Top X players overall from last season earn a travel award to the first 2019 International Championships, travel awards will be given instead to the players who earned the most CP during the period of April 30 through July 8, 2018. This is a positive change because it severely nerfs the snowball effect, but also rewards players who do well at a single major event.
Again, there are some negatives that come along with this change. First, many players competing at the World Championships this year have their chances of earning travel awards for 2019 inhibited since they will miss out on the Nashville Open if they qualify for Day Two. Also, players who did well in the early part of the 2018 season will not be rewarded as their success likely came before April 30th.
On top of that, the timing listed for the different series that impact Premier Challenges and Midseason Showdowns don’t exactly line up well with the time periods for each International’s travel award qualification. This is a pretty easy fix, but we’ll have to count on TPCI noticing this as a mistake.
We finally have (some) of the information we were promised and, for the most part, the Championship Point structure for 2019 VGC is looking like a big improvement. Unfortunately we’re still missing some crucial pieces to the puzzle including the amount of Championship Points needed to qualify for the 2019 World Championships, prizing information for major events and what format (maybe even game) we’ll be playing. These bits of information will likely come out before November since that’s when the first 2019 International Championship (which is in Latin America this year) will take place.
While this structure seems to be an improvement, it’s certainly not perfect. What’s promising at least is that TPCI acknowledges that these guidelines are tentative which leaves room for some of the wrinkles to be ironed out. But before we start worrying about next year, we still have the 2018 season to wrap up, and we’ll be doing that in just a couple weeks in Nashville, Tennessee where the title of 2018 World Champion will be decided.
Click here to view the official announcement of the 2019 Play! Pokemon Championship Points structure.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.