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.
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.
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.