It has been quite some time since a foreign player has won a United States tournament, but top European player, Nils Dunlop, successfully invaded the Richmond Regional Championships this past weekend. Dunlop is one of the top players over in the European circuit, and has several notable finishes on the international stage. Interestingly, he hasn’t won a regional-level event since 2017, but his trip to the United States has earned him another title.
Results & Teams (Top 8)
Fun fact: This was the first time Incineroar was not the most used Pokemon in a major tournament Top Cut during the Ultra Series. Primal Groudon took the top spot this time by one.
Everyone’s Got a Story
Due to its comparatively small player turnout, many weren’t expecting a lot from Richmond; however the Top Cut produced a few interesting storylines (aside from Dunlop’s successful invasion of course).
Paul Chua came close to making history by making another finals appearance, as a win in Richmond would’ve given him his seventh regional championship title. That’s more than any player in Masters division history. However Chua remains tied with Wolfe Glick at six titles.
Speaking of Glick, he managed to squeeze into the Top 8 after finishing with a 5-2 Swiss record. Prior to the tournament, Glick was vocal about his desire not to attend this tournament, but Richmond is in Glick’s home state so it was an easy event to hit. After qualifying for Top Cut, Glick managed to overcome a tough matchup against one of North America’s current top players, Cedric DeRouchie. Glick eventually fell to Dunlop in the semi-finals, but I’d say this was a worthwhile trip.
James Evans had quite the tournament after what looked to be a dismal start. Evans registered late for the tournament which gave him a loss for round one, but he ended up winning his next six rounds in a row giving him an auto-bid to the Top Cut. Evans has been working hard to get his Hitmontop variant of the popular Mega Kangaskhan/Tornadus archetype a result, and it looks like he finally has one. His transition to the Master’s division has been nothing short of impressive so far, and his career at the top level of VGC looks to have a bright future.
A collective story has been the other members of the Top 8 like Cedric DeRouchie, Jeremy Odena and Joseph Ugarte who have been claiming impressive finishes left and right since the 2019 World Championships. Odena won the DC Open and made it to the Top 8 at the Atlantic City Regional Championships, along with DeRouchie who entered the Top Cut as the number one seed once again. Ugarte recently reached the Top 4 of the Knoxville Regional Championships, and has been adequately showcasing the power of Yveltal in the Ultra Series metagame.
Necrozma Outshines the Rest
After Tornadus, Primal Groudon and Xerneas’ domination of the previous two North American regionals, many were prepared to stop this archetype from claiming a third championship in a row. Evans came the closest, but he fell short to Paul Chua who had previously won the Atlantic City Regional with a Tornadus team, but decided to bring something different for this tournament.
Enter Ultra Necrozma, one of the format’s most powerful restricted Pokemon with its infamous Z-Move, Light That Burns the Sky. Ultra Necrozma is typically paired with Tapu Lele to form a team archetype known as “Psychic Spam” since the two are both strong Psychic-type attackers that can abuse Tapu Lele’s Psychic Terrain. The archetype hasn’t done a whole lot since Hirofumi Kimura’s second place finish at the World Championships this year where he famously added Umbreon to the team (which made an appearance here thanks to George Tifverman).
What’s notable about Psychic Spam’s appearance here is not only the amount of times it showed up, but that both forms of Necrozma’s fused variants did well. Players normally opt for Necrozma’s Dawn Wings form due to its preference for the Special Attack stat (which Ultra Necrozma usually attacks with), but Dusk Mane Necrozma can be helpful for its better defensive typing before deciding to Ultra Burst. However, Dawn Wings is typically favored in the matchup against Dusk Mane on typing alone, which made Chua’s bout against Dunlop a tough challenge to overcome.
Bad News for Top 32 Finishers
Unfortunately, Richmond came with its share of controversy in the form of a promise for Championship Points that was, ultimately, not delivered upon. The awarding of Championship Points is based on attendance numbers, and there is a kicker for how many players are required to award X amount of finisher points. The magic number players were hoping for was 100 which awards Championship Points to Top 32 finishers, and that looked to be the case with over 100 players registered for the event.
Unfortunately, not everyone showed up making the final roster dip below 100 players. Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem since it’s common for tournament organizers to keep no-show players in the final roster by just dropping them after the first round. This way, even though the entrance numbers didn’t technically reach 100, more than 100 players would still be on the roster, making it so points can be awarded to Top 32 instead of just the Top 16.
What happened instead is that the no-show players were taken off of the roster, meaning that the final player total ended up at 95. This development caused outrage in the community as many felt that this was a mistake on behalf of the tournament organizers who improperly dropped players from the roster. Players who finished 17th-32nd were urged to voice their complaints on Twitter and file Play! Pokemon support tickets in the hopes that this issue could be rectified by higher powers.
Let’s hope that said higher powers will listen.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.
Featured Image: Nimbasa City Post on Twitter