The 2019 Oceania International Championships have reached the final stage, and for the championship match we have two heavyweights duking it out for the title. Portuguese player Eduardo Cunha will take on Luke Curtale from Australia. Both of these players have quite an impressive list of accomplishments to their name, and we should be in for an exciting finals set. What’s even more fun about this match is that both players are using nearly identical teams.
Let’s take a look at what both players bring to this championship bout, and which player has the best chance at taking home title.
1st Seed (7-0 Swiss Record)
As the number one seed going into Top Cut, Cunha is a natural favorite to win this match. Cunha is a former World Championship semi-finalist back in the 2016 format, which should be proof enough of his skill in metagames, including restricted Pokemon. In recent seasons, Cunha has had a good amount of success at the regional and International level, however he has yet to make another deep run at an International event.
After an already impressive Swiss run, Cunha did not have an easy trip through Top Cut. His bracket began with a formidable opponent in the Brazilian player Gabriel Agati. Not only was Cunha put up against one of the best teams in the metagame, but also one of the best players in Latin America. Next, Cunha had to take down one of North America’s best in Justin Burns, a 2019 regional champion and former International runner up in Columbus last year. Cunha’s set against Burns was one of the most exciting of the entire tournament, and definitely a set worth watching if you ended up missing it.
Cunha’s undefeated run continues into the finals, and he’s going to have quite the test going up against Luke Curtale.
6th Seed (6-1 Swiss Record)
If there was one player to represent Australia in the championship match, Curtale is a great pick. He has proven over his VGC career that he is one of Australia’s best, and he’s looking to finally win his first International title on his home turf.
Interestingly enough, Curtale’s most compelling storyline originates at Australia’s National/International tournaments. This is the fourth year in a row Curtale has advanced to the Top Cut of a National/International tournament held in Australia, and this is his first time making it as far as the Finals. “Fourth time’s the charm” Curtale said in one of his post-game interviews, and this could possibly be his year.
Analyzing the Mirror Match
These players are going into this match with nearly identical teams and strategies, making this a tough match to call.
As we’ve seen with mirror matches between teams with Lunala and Xerneas, a lot of things could come down to correct predictions and maybe a bit of luck. One of the biggest mindgames will the lead matchup, and whether or not Cunha or Curtale will try to set up their Xerneas as quickly as possible. Setting up Geomancy carries a heavy risk for both players as Lunala could easily switch in and copy an opposing Xerneas’ Geomancy boost with Psych Up. Speaking of Lunala, VGC 2019 players know just how terrifying Lunala speed ties can be, and that problem has become even worse with the addition of Z Moves.
In regards to the non-restricted Pokemon, Incineroar and Smeargle will prove to be the X factors in the mirror match. Not only will positioning be crucial in setting up each Xerneas, but Smeargle mind games and reliance on the shaky accuracy of Lovely Kiss could be key in deciding games.
While Tsareena and Stakataka could be helpful in this matchup, this set will likely come down to who plays the positioning game better, and who gets luckier. Stakataka has been a key tool in removing Xerneas this weekend, so its entirely possible it could be a key asset in this match.
In all honesty, this is a matchup that is too close to call. However, if a favorite must be chosen, we’re gonna go with Cunha. Even though both of these players are itching to finally get their hands on an International Championship title, Cunha’s play looks more polished, and that will likely carry him to victory.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International