The time has come; the biggest Pokémon event in Asia Pacific is upon us at last! The Australian Pokémon National Championships is the grand event of the year for our community, both in the social and competitive sense. Players from all states and possibly even overseas will be coming to compete for the largest payout of championship points offered in the country. Expect Australia’s best coming out in full force in hopes of taking out the holy grail of APAC’s circuit.
The fun definitely doesn’t stop at Nationals. Doing well in Nationals could quite significantly boost your chance of being drafted as a midseason pick in the APL.
Where: Melbourne Park Function Centre (Map)
When: July 2-3, registration opens at 8am on Saturday, closes 11am that day. Swiss rounds to be played over two days.
Entry: Free entry for all players. You do not need to have any championship points or Play! Points to participate in this event. Anyone can come down regardless of experience and play – just have fun and don’t worry about it being too high stakes or serious.
Registration sheet: Bring a filled in registration sheet with your team details to the event to save time, can be downloaded [here]. Also bring your POP Player ID sheet.
Coverage details: [Twitch, twitter, facebook group]
With each event we always provide a preview of which players we think will do well. Here’s our list of individuals to look out for coming into Nationals.
State-by-State Player Preview
Written by Cappa
Phil Nguyen: Manager of the Lumiose Memes in the APL; Phil hasn’t had the best season this year, but he has earned his worlds invitation and had proven to be extremely strong in a Best of 3 format – his incredible 4-3 performance at Day 2 of the World Championships in 2015 and two deep Nationals finishes being a marker of that. Phil is one of the real grandparents of this game – he’s been playing longer than I’ve been breathing oxygen and he without a doubt knows his stuff. Hopefully the bubble king won’t bubble this one, and will give us just as good a show as he did last year!
Jack Buckley: Jack is the Regional Champion for Brisbane, he has had a very consistent season with a top 4 at Sydney, and is performing well within the APL. It will be interesting to see how he performs in an all best of three format, being a double primals player he will need to show his ability to adapt to techs in swiss as well.
Honourable Mentions: Paulo Amedee, Mustafaa Olomi, Damon Murdoch.
New South Wales
Mitch Kendrick: Mitch is another very consistent player and a Team Pear member. This season he’s managed to scrape up somewhere around 350CP, putting him at 4th place on the National leaderboards. He finished Top 4 at Brisbane this year, unfortunately insufficiently intoxicated to make it much further. He has also had a few impressive showings at EXP gaming events and premier challenges in Sydney. Hopefully he hits the sauce hard enough on Friday and Saturday night to go deep the next day.
Martin Larumbe: Manager of the Roaring Rustboro Kangaskhans, Martin is without a doubt one of the best players in the country currently. He’s on top of the CP leaderboard at 488 from a victory in Sydney, a top 2 at Brisbane, top 4 in Adelaide and a few other Regional and PC finishes. As an experienced Big 6 player, the Best of 3 format is exactly what players like Martin need, it allows them to scout out matchups and techs against the most common teams in the format. Even a 5th place here would put Martin in the running for a paid worlds invitation. It’ll be a test of his endurance throughout the longer tournament – and not getting overly distracted by playing god-damn bemani between rounds.
Daniel Walker: Daniel is another very consistent player and he rounds out Sydney’s strong presence on the leaderboards with his ~433CP. He hasn’t won any Regional events, however he has placed well at most he’s attended and dominated the local premier challenge circuit. Known for his unusual team choices, Daniel may have some difficulty playing more seasoned players in Best of 3. He has done very well on online ladders, however it is yet to be seen how well this will translate to a live event with a completely different format. Daniel will surely be packing some surprises and has a good chance of a deep run at Nationals provided he can stop talking about himself long enough to play the game (or alternately talk long enough to force a forfeit).
Honourable Mentions: Nat Tillman, Saamid Zikria, Jimmy Chen, Denaysh Selvakkumar, Roland Walker, Daniel Pol, Jackson Bankovic.
Nihal Noor: The legend. The notorious leader (uhhhhhhhh?) of the mysterious Team Pear. I’m not sure if he’s even an Australian Citizen. Though nonetheless Nihal is an outrageously good player. Nihal’s successes this year include a top 4 in the Nugget Bridge Major – an INTERNATIONAL paid entry tournament, many PC victories and a win in Melbourne – arguably the most competitive Regional in the country. Nihal is easily one of the favourites to take out the tournament. He unsurprisingly was the most expensive player to be drafted in the APL, going for a hefty $40k to the Metapods. Nihal has not only been very successful, but done so across the whole season with a variety of teams. It would be a surprise not to see Nihal steamroll swiss.
Sam Pandelis: This guy is not only the most decorated player in the country, but also the one of the most notorious. I quote his bio on twitter: “Australian Pokémon VGC Player (3x Regional Champion) 6x Live Event Winner, 2014 Nationals Top Cut, 2015 NB Major Top Cut, 2016 NB Major 9th”. If that resume doesn’t speak for itself I don’t know what will. Currently at ~428CP, he’s been one of the dominating forces this season, plowing through Stacked City Regional (Adelaide) completely undefeated. Just like his special friend Martin, he’s another renowned Big 5/6 user, arguably the best in Australia. This is definitely an event that he stands a strong chance at considering the format and the competition. If he can fit his head through the door on the way in, he’ll be sure to do well.
Bailey Owen: Manager of the MIGHTY MOSSDEEP METAPODS, Bailey has been sidelined since earning his worlds invitation, though is still a strong contender for taking out the tournament. Melbourne premier challenges are usually quite competitive, and Bailey has earned the mainstay of his invite from top 4 or better in many of them. He was also the strongest Australian in the NPA, finishing 6-3 overall. Despite these successes, we may find Bailey playing in the Seniors division under the name “Harrison Owen”, something he’s been known to do in our previous online tournaments.
Matthew Roe: The defending National champion and manager of the Sootopolis Salamences. He also managed to have his worlds invite covered before Regionals came around; by disappointing some Americans on stream at Victorian PCs with his trademark Thunderbolt Groudon (which did wind up winning him the tournament) and murdering some innocent Tasmanians at their Midseason Showdown. I’m told he didn’t even spare mercy for the junior on whom he unleashed a Scarfed After You Smeargle. These inhumane acts allowed him to commentate Melbourne Regionals this year with Bailey. Which is also the reason Matthew won’t be competing – because he’s just too good for us and doesn’t need to. I’m sure he’ll be cackling in his nice suit from the commentary box at how mediocre we all are actually playing to earn invites still.
Nicholas Bingham: Honeys watch out – notorious cassanova Nick, the winner of the Melbourne Mid-Season Showdown will be out in full force. Some may know him as the “leader” of the Ludicolo Patrol (lol). Others may remember him as the 9-0 Scrafty cosplay guy from last year’s Nationals, where his achievement wasn’t his wins and was more so managing to get through 9 rounds of swiss without playing a single rain team. Nick has proven himself as a competent Best of 3 player and has continued to have strong showings into Regionals as well, securing a top 8 at Adelaide. Did I mention he’s the frontman of the One Direction of VGC, the LUDICOLO PATROL? If the rumors are true, expect some savage memes from this man because his Magikarp is going to be rolling straight into the top cut of AU nationals, you heard it here first.
Honourable Mentions: Tom Schultz, Emma Williams, Jimmy Farrugia, Timothy Walsh, James Katsaros, Joshua Callister, Meaghan Rattle, Matthew Jiwa, Ty Power, Jay Tyrell, Jordan Saunders, Jackson Lakey, Harrison Owen.
Luke Curtale: Luke is the manager of the Seven Island Stoutlands in the APL, a Pear, and definitely Adelaide’s strongest player despite his decoration of 3rd places. Alongside Sam, Luke is one of the most recognised players internationally as a regular draftee in NPA and a win in the 2015 Dodrio Cup. Luke is also one of Australia’s most distinguished teambuilders and has had quite an effect on the metagame in 2015, starting a few trends. “If his opponents don’t get lucky” he stands a good chance of doing very well.
Wilson Quan: Wilson is another Pear member, also with consistency this year. Unfortunately like the rest of us, he hasn’t had much of a chance to prove himself this season due to Adelaide’s lack of events. He top cut the NB Major this year only to take a teamkill from the god himself Nihal, a tournament he likely would have gone deeper in if not for this. If he’s not cleaning up during the early rounds of swiss, you’ll spot this ferocious beast hot on the nearest vending machine for his hourly coke.
Honourable Mentions: Nathan Cappelluti, Matthew Borg, Edward Trinh, Matthew Bockman.
Alex Poole: Not too much is known about Alex, though he’s quietly demolished the entire Perth Premier Challenge circuit as well as taking Top 4 at Melbourne Regionals, being eliminated by Nihal. Definitely the favourite from Perth to go all the way.
Allister Sandover: Allister is also quite unknown to the wider community, though he’s recently won Perth Regionals for the second time after his victory in 2014. Even in Perth it takes a good player to win multiple Regionals, if Allister comes he’ll likely make an impact.
Honourable Mentions: Lionel Pryce, Gabriel Voon.
Brendan Webb: Capping out on Premier Challenge CP early, Brendan led the Australian CP rankings for some time. His breakthrough event last year was a top 8 finish at this event, showing his strength and endurance for this tournament format.
Race for the Paid Invite
Written and calculated by Mindape
Due to the way the World Championship Day 2 invites are structured in the APAC Region, it is entirely likely the winner of the National championship will not earn a paid invite. Various estimations have put 900-950 CP as the benchmark to be sure of earning a paid invitation to San Francisco. Currently, to reach the top 4, a total above 862 CP is required. With a maximum of 600 CP available to the winner of the National Championships, we’ll take a look at who is still in the running for a paid invitation.
For reference: Top 8 earns 420 CP. Top 4 earns 480 CP. Runner-up earns 520 CP.
- The Smart Money is on:
- Nihal Noor. It’s hard to argue with a win of historically the two most competitive Regional Championships as well as Top 4 in the NB Major.
- Would be confident if in the Top 4, Top 8 might be enough:
- Martin Larumbe – 488 CP
- Alex Poole – 485 CP
- Sam Pandelis – 471 CP
- Nihal Noor –469 CP
- Will need to get at least Top 4, Top 2 would be more secure:
- Daniel Walker – 433 CP
- 2nd may be enough, will need a win to be more certain:
- Mitch Kendrick – 351 CP
- Richard Buckley 348 CP
- Robert Whitehill – 346 CP
- Winning it all may be enough:
- Jay Tyrell 303 CP
- May get lucky with a win and a prayer:
- Josh Matos
- Cameron Dimond
- Lionel Pryce
- Phil Nguyen
- Nicholas Bingham
All in all, there are 14 still in the running for a paid invitation, and the names on this list are all strong enough to have deep tournament runs. Those in the more cutthroat section will need the cards to fall their way during swiss rounds to remain in the hunt, but there is every possibility that there will be matches in the top cut in which the winner earns a paid invitation, and the loser misses out. It will be an exciting race to follow as there is the potential for several Australians to earn paid invitations to the World Championships, or as few as one or zero. Good luck to everyone listed above!
State of the Metagame
Written by Bargens
Being the largest VGC event in Australia the National Championships’ metagame will of course draw from teams common across all of the Regionals that have occurred in Australia. We predict that 3 primary archetypes will be making up the bulk of teams at the event.
The first team archetype is of course ‘Big 6’ – a team centred around Groudon and Xerneas. This team is widely used both nationwide and internationally with, to my count, 9 of the 15 players in honourable mentions having used a variation of this archetype in the past. On top of this, this archetype has won three Regionals, placed second at two and was featured at least once in every top cut across Australia. The team’s staples appear to be Kangaskhan, Salamence, Groudon, Xerneas and Smeargle, with the last slot being filled by either Talonflame, Thundurus, Raichu, Cresselia and many, many more. Obviously as Groudon and Xerneas have a large showing, teams with a positive match-up against this archetype will increase in usage. Which brings me to…
Bronzong Dual Primal. Bronzong Dual Primal is easily one of the most renowned counters to Big 6, and when paired with support such as Smeargle, Kangaskhan, Salamence and/or Thundurus, usually allows for Bronzong to set up Trick Room. Under Trick Room, Bronzong is able to utilise it’s Steel Typing and Levitate Ability paired with the heavy power of both Primal Pokémon to hit all team archetypes extremely hard. This archetype has had more usage across Australia than internationally, winning Brisbane Regionals and having solid results across the entire Nation as one of the best counters to the most popular team in Australia. If Big 6 is Rock, Bronzong is Paper, and Scissors would be…
Yveltal Groudon. Brought to prominence through the recent 1st place of 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati at Germany Nationals, as well as taking up 3 of the 8 top cut slots at Melbourne Regionals, Yveltal Groudon is one of the more common archetypes in Melbourne specifically. Whilst not having notable placings in other States, the location of Nationals being in Melbourne may mean that this surge of Yveltal and Groudon will continue. Yveltal and Groudon, whilst being relatively weak against Xerneas and Groudon, have a solid match up against the likes Bronzong, and both Primal Pokémon, making it a very popular choice among players.
With strong trainers coming from all around the country; the race for a paid invitation to the World Championships reaching its conclusion; and a metagame where a number of archetypes are continuing to develop and evolve, the stage is set for another exciting National Championships. We can’t wait to see how the day unfolds. Whether you join the battle to be crowned the best trainer in Australia, or watch at the venue or on social media, it is time to get hyped!
Article written by a combination of Cappa, Bargens and Mindape.