So now that we’ve looked at what the potential metagame could be for the World Championships, let’s take a look at the players. There is a ton of skill in this year’s field which makes deciding on a pick for world champion much more challenging. Each region of Pokemon VGC has some strong talent ready to make a name for themselves in Nashville, so let’s break down the favorites for this year’s title.
Total # of Invites: 87
Current #1: Jeremy Rodrigues
Highest Individual CP Total: 1782
International Top Cut Appearances: 11
2018 International Championship Titles: 2
Coming off of a strong showing at their home International, North America is (as usual) one of the top regions to beat at the World Championships. Despite a somewhat lackluster showing in the Top Cut of Worlds last year, North America has nearly twice the number of players fighting to bring home the title.
North American players have also excelled on the international stage. The region has two 2018 International Champions in Jeremy Rodrigues and Carson Confer and many other consistent players such as Alberto Lara and former Latin America International Champion Ashton Cox.
The sheer number of quality players coming from North America has them as an obvious favorite; but even though Columbus proved that NA players were ready to defend their home turf, this hasn’t always been the case at the Worlds stage.
Smart Money’s On: Alberto Lara
Despite an unfortunate exit from Columbus’ Top Cut due to a ruling conflict, Alberto Lara has been one of the most consistent players over these past two seasons. Multiple International Top Cuts to his name with one of those this year being a run to the finals of the Latin America International Championships.
Another reason Lara has our pick is because of his potential choice in team. We talked about how Mega Gengar is poised to have a strong showing in Nashville, and one of the most unique, consistent, and strongest Mega Gengar players out there happens to be Lara. With a potentially powerful metagame call under his belt, Lara solidifies himself as a top threat for Day Two.
Jeremy Rodrigues: Rodrigues’ confidence didn’t seem too high after his big win in Columbus, but he’s still a fantastic player. Since he’ll likely be working alongside Ashton Cox, Rodrigues should have no problem having a good metagame call for Nashville.
Ashton Cox: Cox is one of those players who can either do really well or really poorly at any given tournament. He likes to use unique strategies, but a slightly more standard approach to teambuilding netted him a Top Cut spot in last year’s World Championships. Cox is a phenomenal player when he’s on his game, and I think he’s due for another impressive Worlds finish.
Carson Confer: Confer is no stranger to the international stage, especially with him being one of this season’s International Champions. Even though it was as a Senior, he’s still a former World Champion, and he has done more than enough to prove he’s a skilled Master.
Total # of Invites: 74
Current #1: Alessio Yuri Boschetto
Highest Individual CP Total: 2272
International Top Cut Appearances: 15
2018 International Championship Titles: 2
Europe is heading into Nashville as by far the strongest region in Pokemon VGC this year. The region has proven it has the ability to defend its home turf and go overseas and perform well. Many consider Italy to be the strongest nation in the world considering its dominance over European events and it being home to the other two 2018 international champions. Surprisingly, Europe was in a similar position heading into Anaheim last year, but much like North America, did not have a particularly strong showing in the Top Cut.
With that being said however, Europe is looking stronger than ever this year, and is seriously looking like the region to beat.
Smart Money’s On: Alessio Yuri Boschetto
Of course, he’s the best player in the world right now at over 2200 Championship Points. To those who have kept up with Pokemon VGC these past couple of years, Boschetto’s name should be instantly recognizable. He has to be the best player in the world by just how consistent he is. With a single team archetype that he’s adjusted ever so slightly over the course of the season, he’s won an International Championship and made it to the Top Cut of countless tournaments both domestic and overseas.
Considering how much smack we’ve been talking about Mega Metagross these past few weeks, this should mean bad news for Boschetto (a seasoned Mega Metagross player) right? Well if there was anyone that you should pick to do well with a standard Mega Metagross team in Anaheim it should be Boschetto. He took the most standard team from the 2017 format to 9th place at Worlds last year, and considering that playing standard teams hasn’t failed him so far this year, it’s unlikely he’ll change his winning formula for the biggest tournament of the year.
Jamie Boyt: Boyt has had decent success at the World Championships these past couple of years, but has never managed to have a breakout finish. Still, Boyt’s knack for coming up with crazy strategies is perfect for a potential 2018 Worlds metagame and we’ll just have to see if his tricks are a bang or a bust this year.
Arash Ommati: Former World Champion and Italian native Arash Ommati has had himself quite the season in 2018. A player who definitely has history, but also recent success, is sure to be a player to watch out for in Nashville.
Alex Gomez: Gomez is one of the shining representatives from the nation of Spain, and one of the best European players in general. An honorable mention goes to Eric Rios who just won the Valencia Special Event where Gomez placed in the Top 8. These two have been known to collaborate, and it has usually worked out for them this season.
Total # of Invites: 105
Current #1: Javier Valdes
Highest Individual CP Total: 2064
International Top Cut Appearances: 3
2018 International Championship Titles: 0
Latin America’s numbers are all over the place. For one, you have the highest number of invites coming out of this region, but no International titles and a measly three International Top Cut appearances. To be honest, Latin America had a case of Championship Point inflation with the countless amount of frequent Special Events held across many countries. Latin America has struggled at the International level this season, but let’s not forget how Latin American players took six places in last year’s Top Cut with Paul Ruiz walking away with a 3rd place finish.
The joke has always been to sleep on Latin America, but despite what the numbers may tell you, this is a region that is more than capable of performing at the highest level.
Smart Money’s On: René Alvarenga
Picking a potential world champion from Latin America wasn’t easy, but we decided to go with René Alvarenga. Alvarenga is a member of the elite “2000+ Championship Points” club and has won three special events in three different countries this season. He has top cut five other Special Events and even had a Top 4 finish at a U.S. regional last year in San Jose. Alvarenga managed to just miss out on Top Cut at the Latin America International Championships, but he did reach the Top 8 of the World Championships last year.
Alvarenga has proven that he can compete at the top level, and viewers shouldn’t be surprised to see him on stream in Day Two with his trust Totodile plush by his side.
Javier Valdes: Valdes is the current #1 in Championship Points for Latin America, and has plenty of results to his name as well. He was the first Latin American player to reach the Top Cut of an International Championship this year, and he managed to reach Day Two of Worlds last year.
Paul Ruiz: The reigning third place at the World Championships is back, and 2018 has been a good year for him too. His international placings might not be the greatest, but he has done great in Latin America with a first and second place finish at two Special Events.
Renzo Navarro: Navarro is an interesting choice, but his late-season consistency is what made him stick out. He also only attended one International Championship this season where he placed in the Top 16.
Total # of Invites: 44
Current #1: Melvin Keh
Highest Individual CP Total: 1680
International Top Cut Appearances: 3
2018 International Championship Titles: 0
Oceania comes in as the smallest of the Big Four regions, but that shouldn’t disqualify them from having a shot at the Worlds trophy. Last year we saw Australia sweep the International Championships, but this year could be a whole new story for Oceania. We still have well known players from Australia in 2018’s field, but Singapore might be the nation to look out for this year. A region that for sure has a lot to prove, and Oceania might be due for another strong showing in Nashville.
Smart Money’s On: Melvin Keh
This was another tough one to pick, but many wouldn’t argue against Melvin Keh for Oceania’s favorite. With the exception of Isaac Lam, Keh is the only Oceania player to Top Cut an international event this year. And he did it twice! Much like Italy’s Alessio Yuri Boschetto, Keh is a prime example of consistency, and that consistency could easily carry him to a strong Day Two finish at the World Championships.
Benjamin Tan: A close second for our Smart Money pick for Oceania. Tan has won three Special Events this season which has formed quite an impressive late-season run. He’s definitely on of the best hot streaks going into the World Championships, so don’t be surprised to see yet another great performance from him.
Christopher Kan: Our Smart Money pick from last year who didn’t exactly deliver in Anaheim. Despite that, Kan won back to back Special Events this season in Australia and New Zealand and managed to place 10th at the Oceania International Championships.
Sam Pandelis: The runner up from last year’s World Championship deserves a mention as he’s surely looking for redemption. He might have been dedicating most of this year running excellent grassroots events, but make no mistake that he’s still one of the top names from this region.
Japan & Korea
Total # of Invites:
Japan – Hirofumi Kimura
Korea – Suwoong Jeong
Ah yes, the wild card nations of Pokemon VGC. Both nations have the most grueling path to the World Championships, so new faces pop up all of the time. This doesn’t in any way discount the skill level of players from these regions, especially with last year’s World Champion coming from Japan.
Japan is always a favorite considering their past World Championship wins and complete dominance of the 2015 Worlds Top Cut. Japanese players are well known for their innovative strategies and teams (with the exception of 2015) with Hirofumi Kimura’s Japan Nationals winning team featuring Nidoking being one of the talks of the season. There will be a lot of players making their debut at Worlds from Japan, but big names like last year’s champion Ryota Ootsubo, 2013 finalist Ryosuke Kosuge and 2015 quarter-finalist Daichi Kumabe will lead the charge.
South Korea had such promise for Worlds this year after the invite threshold for its national championship was extended to Top 32. However, due to travel and other complications, only five players from the nation are confirmed to be attending. This is a huge blow to an otherwise powerful country who produced 2014 World Champion Sejun Park and two members of last year’s Top Cut in Anaheim. In Sejun’s absence this year, players like Korean National Champion Suwoong Jeong and first year master Juyoung Hong will be the big names to look out for from Korea. Both are very strong players that could show Korea’s strength despite their small numbers.
The Rest of the Field
Total # of Invites: ?
Current #1: Dale Schwikkard
Highest Individual CP Total: 240
Total # of Invites: 4
Current #1: Kelly-Kato
Highest Individual CP Total: 147
With an even bigger field than last year, the 2018 World Championships appear to be anyone’s game. Each region/country has multiple big names that are poised to do well, but there remain numerous players that are more than capable of surprising us all. The 2018 metagame has been quite the difficult one to figure out, and the player that is able to make the best metagame call will likely walk away as the World Champion.
The final showdown kicks off tomorrow in Nashville, and you can catch all of it on Pokemon.com/Live where four livestreams will be showcasing all of the action from Pokemon TCG, Pokken Tournament and Pokemon VGC.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.