The 2019 season is coming to an end which means it’s almost time to crown a new World Champion. Over three different phases of VGC 2019, there have been many different players, strategies and storylines all culminating in a final showdown in the United States’ capital: Washington D.C.
But who will be going home with this year’s trophy? Which region will welcome home a World Champion? Time to make some predictions.
Total # of Invites: 97
Current #1: Ashton Cox
Highest Individual CP Total: 2440
International Top Cut Appearances: 11
2019 International Championship Titles: 2
Coming as no surprise to anyone, North America is one of the strongest regions going into the World Championships. The host region has claimed half of this year’s International Championship titles and has a ton of promising talent that is capable of winning it all. In International play, North America has been one of the most consistent regions across all three series this season, and these competitors are shaping up to be heavy favorites.
Smart Money’s On: Wolfe Glick
This is by far one of the safest choices anyone could make in picking a World Champion this year, but if there’s anyone who has proven they know how to play in restricted formats, it’s gotta be Glick.
Despite a bit of a rough start in the Sun and Moon Series, Glick tore through the Ultra Series with several solid regional placings, an International semifinal run and, eventually, his first International Championship win back in June. Plus, the last time restricted Pokemon were allowed in VGC back in 2016, Glick was your World Champion.
I don’t know how much stronger of a case could be made for this guy.
Ashton Cox: As the current leader in Championship Points worldwide, there’s no doubt Cox should be on this list. He’s been consistent across all three series with two regional wins, an International Championship win and a recent top 8 finish at the North American International Championships. As a day two veteran who has reached the top cut of Worlds previously, Cox’ success is looking promising.
James Baek: Another figure of consistency is none other than James Baek. It’s honestly surprising that this is Baek’s first day two invite to the World Championships, but he’s proven that he’s earned it. With a regional win, a second place finish at the Latin America International Championships, a top 8 finish at the Oceania International Championships and finally a recent Top 16 finish at the North America International Championships, Baek is going into this year’s World Championships with a lot to prove.
Kyle Livinghouse: Keeping with the trend of consistency, our final notable is Kyle Livinghouse. 2019 has been Livinghouse’s breakout year as he took the VGC scene by storm, racking up countless impressive results earning him a day two invite to this year’s World Championships. Even though this is his first time competing at Worlds, there’s little doubt his debut performance will be anything short of noteworthy.
Total # of Invites: 36
Current #1: Alessio Yuri Boschetto
Highest Individual CP Total: 1944
International Top Cut Appearances: 9
2019 International Championship Titles: 2
Even though the amount of European invites to this year’s World Championships have dropped by over 50% from the year prior, the region makes up for in the quality of its players. European players have shown great strength in the Ultra Series portion of VGC 2019, with a great example being a dominant defense of their home International Championship.
Of course, the favorite country from this region is Italy with a majority of Europe’s invitees hailing from there. However, they’re not the only European nation capable of bringing home a second World Championships title.
Smart Money’s On: Flavio Del Pidio
Fitting that an Italian player would be the smart money pick for this region. Del Pidio has proven himself to be a strong competitor during the Ultra Series format. He pioneered the Xerneas/Rayquaza archetype by leading it to a win at the European International Championships, and just recently put up a strong top 8 finish in Columbus. With the right team in his control, Del Pidio can easily perform well in such a stacked Worlds field.
Eduardo Cunha: Your fourth and final International Champion obviously deserves a mention for this preview. Cunha has not only proven himself this year as a strong restricted-Pokemon format player, but he also did it back in 2016 when he placed in the top 4 of the World Championships. Even though a majority of Cunha’s success took place prior to the Ultra Series, he’s certainly a player to keep an eye on.
Alessio Yuri Boschetto: Boschetto has been one of the best VGC players period in recent memory, and his status at the top of Europe in Championship Point standings is further proof of that. He hasn’t done too much on the International stage this season, however he does have a Special Event win and even two regional runner-ups (one of which was overseas).
Jamie Boyt: Boyt is by far one of the most interesting players in Pokemon VGC. His claim to fame is his clever use of Pokemon or tech strategies which have gained him a ton of success in the past, including in the last restricted format of 2016. Boyt was on a mission at the start of this season to become the 2019 Pokemon World Champion, and that determination alone should show he’s going to be putting his all into this tournament.
Total # of Invites: 90
Current #1: Rene Alvarenga
Highest Individual CP Total: 1912
International Top Cut Appearances: 4
2018 International Championship Titles: 0
The defending champion region certainly has a lot to prove this year in D.C. Latin America has the numbers to put up a strong front at the World Championships, but as recent years have shown, only a few have been truly able to shine. With that being said, there are still a fair share of strong players representing this region, including the reigning world champion.
Smart Money’s On: Javier Valdes
Valdes has always been full of surprises, and this season has been no different. Although his success has been rather quiet this season, he’s had consistent strong finishes at the International level with a top 16 run at both the European and North American International Championships (both in the Ultra Series).
Last year, it was Rhydon which took Valdes to the top cut at the World Championships, and this year, interesting picks like Mandibuzz, Seismitoad and Gastrodon have been keys to his success. Who knows what he’ll surprise us with this weekend.
Paul Ruiz: Your reigning World Champion will make his grand return in D.C. As the current World Champion, Ruiz didn’t need to try too hard to impress this season since his invite to this year’s World Championships was already locked up. Still, he managed to make a statement with a top 4 finish at the Latin America International Championships and later a top 16 placing at the Oceania International Championships. Not tom mention he also won a Special Event this season. When looking at Worlds, he’s made it to the top 4 and beyond at the last two, so it’s pretty safe to say that this is his tournament.
Jean Paul Lopez Buiza: Buiza has broken out in the past couple seasons as a young master taking the Latin American scene by storm. His claims to fame include a top 4 at the North America International Championships and a win at the Peru Special Event (his home nation). Buiza is for sure a strong international player, and he’s looking like a solid favorite for Latin America.
Rene Alvarenga: Alvarenga is by far one of the best players in Latin America, and his place at the top is evident of his status. He’s even been known to do well at North American events with a top 4 placing at the Santa Clara regional championships and a recent top 16 finish at the North American International Championships. He’s even got two Special Event wins under his belt, so he’ll be looking to put up a strong finish at the World Championships this year.
Total # of Invites: 45
Current #1: Melvin Keh
Highest Individual CP Total: 2028
International Top Cut Appearances: 8
2018 International Championship Titles: 0
Oceania is usually not the strongest region in many players’ eyes, but they’ve been stepping up their game these past few years. Their international presence has been admittedly lackluster, but the region houses one of the most consistent players in the entire world, plus they managed to put up a great showing at their home international tournament.
Still, this region has a lot to prove this year in D.C., but this group of players can definitely produce an explosive result or two if things go their way.
Smart Money’s On: Melvin Keh
This year’s pick hasn’t changed, and for good reason. Keh is one of the best and most consistent players in the entire world. He’s reached the top cut of three out of the four International Championships this season and reached the top cut at seven Special Events.
Even though Keh has come up short in most of his international outings, if there’s one player who can bring home Oceania’s first World Championship, its him. His approach to the game is standard and focused on playing his best game. He’s by far the best Shedinja player in the world, and his presence alone will have players scrambling to make sure they’re prepared for this troublesome bug.
Graham Amedee: Australia’s golden boy this year is ready to make a splash in D.C. this year. Amedee caught the world’s attention in recent years for his hyper-aggressive play-style which leads him to some very interesting team choices. He recently showed the world the might of Mega Medicham as he finished as a finalist at the North America International Championships. Amedee could either explode his way into top cut or have his hyper offense crash and burn. We’ll just have to see.
Christopher Kan: Another Australian player who’s success was more noteworthy in previous years when he became an international champion in 2017. He has won a regional in 2019 and has over 1000 Championship Points to his name so he’s definitely got the ability to make a run this year.
Matthias Loong: Another SIngaporean to watch out for this year is Matthias Loong. Like Keh, he has reached the top cut of an international championship and even made day two of the European International Championships. Loong just recently aged up from the Seniors division so he’ll likely be hungry to make a statement in his Masters Worlds debut.
Japan & Korea
Japan – Hirofumi Kimura
Korea – Hyungwoo Shin
Considering how insanely difficult these two countries’ World Championship qualification structure is, it makes picking a favorite a straight-up gamble. With that being said, there are some players that deserve attention.
First, let’s talk about the national champions. Hirofumi Kimura managed to repeat as the Japanese National Champion with yet another unique team. Last year, it was Nidoqueen and this year, it was Solgaleo. Even though Kimura didn’t do so hot at Worlds last year, his status as a repeat champion in one of the hardest tournaments in the world is nothing short of impressive. Not much is known about Korea’s National Champion, but that shouldn’t disqualify him from the conversation of top Worlds players. Who knows how he’ll perform in D.C., but he should still be labeled with “threat” status.
Now let’s talk about some former World Champions from these two countries. Shoma Honami managed to earn a day one invite this season from his finish at Japan’s National Championship, and he’s certainly a player capable of making it through the gauntlet on his way to the top cut.
And finally we have Sejun Park returning to the VGC World Championships. After a brief few years in the TCG, Park is making his triumphant return to D.C. where he managed to win it all five years ago with his signature Pachirisu. He might not have competed at Worlds these past few years, but it’s clear that Park has not lost any of his shine.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.