Oceania International Championship VGC Preview: APAC Players

The Oceania International Championship is less then 24 hours away! We have put together a preview article on VGC players to keep an eye on during the event from our APAC region.

Australia

It was difficult to narrow down, but we’ve picked out ten local names we think you should definitely keep an eye out for in Melbourne. Note that this is 100% based on results at recent Premier Challenges and last years’ circuit, as without VGC17 Regionals it’s difficult to truly show who Australia’s best players are. We hope to defend our International Championship from the international invaders with the help of the following:

Alister Sandover (@VivaLaVlade)

Alister has been dominant in this format so far, winning every Premier Challenge he has attended. Online he is also showing his strength; winning two online EXP Grinder tournaments against Australia’s best, as well as being 4-0 in the Smogon VGC tournament so far. Winning larger events are not unknown to Alister, he’s a double Regional Champion – claiming his local regional championship in both 2014 and 2016. Alister is surely one to watch out for given his form and tournament resume.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: 2 Wins (2014 Perth, 2016 Perth)

Sam Pandelis (@ZeldaVGC)

Australia’s leading Championship Point player for the 2017 season, and three time Regional Champion. Sam showed the world his strength and worth as a player last year with a Top 16 at Worlds. With his read heavy playstyle, Sam has taken games off of some of the world’s’ best, including VGC16 US National Champion Chase Lybbert. Sam acquitted himself well at the London IC. He also has finished in the Top Cut of all of his Australian VGC17 Events, and will be looking to do even better as a hometown hero here in Melbourne.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: 3 Wins (2013 Melbourne, 2014 Melbourne, 2016 Adelaide)
  • National Championships: Top 4 2016
  • World Championships: Top 16 2016
  • London International Championships: 6-3 record

Phil Nguyen (@Boomguy_Pokemon)

Last year’s National Champion, and well respected player internationally after his strong Worlds finish in 2015. Phil has been mostly on the organisational side of the fence this season, but has the pedigree for a strong finish if he prepares well for the tournament. Best-of-three is definitely Phil’s strength, as he hasn’t dropped below x-3 at an Australian Nationals to date. This year may be no different, and if he can make a niche Pokémon work as he always does, he will be a large threat.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: 1 Win (Brisbane 2013)
  • National Championships: 1 Win (2016), Top 8 Australia 2015, Top 4 Singapore 2015
  • World Championships: 21st Place 2015, Day 1 2016

Jimmy Chen (@aeriesCS)

Currently sitting in second on Australia’s Championship Point standings. Jimmy is one of the hardest working players on the Australian scene. He will be keen to improve from his solid showing at the London International Championships. Jimmy has recently capped PCs in his home region of NSW. Although, Jimmy hasn’t played in Melbourne since his subpar performance at Regionals back in 2015. This year is definitely Jimmy’s year, and his CP total thus far reflects his strength as a player.

Past Achievements

  • World Championships: Day 1 2016
  • London International Championships: 6-3 record

Daniel Walker (@Ludicola31)

Daniel is a consistent performer from NSW, and is known globally for his teambuilding skills. As the creator of last year’s ‘Pumpkin Team’ and the infamous Safeguard Arcanine X-Ray Team, he has shown his ability to take unique Pokémon to levels much higher than they’re expected to. Daniel has done well at local PC’s since VGC15, and has topped the Showdown ladder several times this year.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: Runner Up, Sydney 2016

Nihal Noor (@UchihaX96)

Nihal has been busy this year helping launch the Trainer Tower website, but he did have a dominant 2016 season. During the latter of 2015 alongside Bailey Owen, Nihal dominated the scene. They won just about every Victorian Premier Challenge between them. Nihal never slowed down, winning Melbourne Regionals in 2016 in a dominating fashion. As a dual Regional Champion in past formats, alongside being widely considered one of Australia’s top trainers, he will always be a threat when he enters a tournament.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: 2 Wins (Adelaide 2015, Melbourne 2016)
  • National Championships: Top 16 2016, Top 32 2015
  • Top 4 NB Major 2016

Chris Kan

Chris is a veteran of VGC, with experience dating back to before Australia had official events. With major Top Cuts since then he has solidified himself as one of the most consistent players in the country. This year has been no different as he has been one of the Melbourne scene’s most consistent performers. So far this season Chris has had multiple Top Cuts finishes and a PC win. Chris played Day 2 of Worlds last year, and so has the form and the top level experience to do well.

Past Achievements

  • National Championships: Top Cut 2015, Top Cut 2014
  • World Championships: Day 2 2014, 2016

Alex Poole (@Triceratops5X)

Alex was one of two Australians to qualify for Day 2 of Worlds last year. Alex was also Runner-up at the 2016 National Championships. He defeated the likes of Sam Pandelis and Nihal Noor on his warpath, demonstrating that he clearly has the ability to tango with the strongest players Australian VGC has to offer. Despite an up and down start to 2017, Alex is definitely a contender in the shadow of what was a breakout for him in 2016.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: Top 4 Melbourne 2016
  • National Championships: Runner Up 2016, Top Cut 2015
  • World Championships: Day 2 2016

Bailey Owen (@BargensVGC)

Bailey had a dominant 2016 PC season alongside Nihal, and is one of a small few Australians to have qualified for a Nugget Bridge Invitational. He missed his home Regionals last year to take on commentary duty, but showed his class by returning to Top Cut at the National Championships. Bailey has continued to stand out in the big Melbourne crowd with consistent strong performances at Premier Challenges thus far, losing only 2 sets at Live Events.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: Top 4 Adelaide 2015, Top Cut Melbourne Regionals 2015
  • National Championships: Top 16 2016

Jimmy Farrugia (@faybzplays)

Jimmy is an incredibly consistent player from Melbourne. He Top Cuts almost every event he attends. This helps Jimmy stay close to the top of Championship Point standings, despite not having access to events larger than Premier Challenges this season. Recent form suggests Jimmy has a good chance of replicating his results on the big stage, and having a real breakout performance.

Past Achievements

  • Regional Championships: Runner-Up Melbourne 2016
  • World Championships: Day 1 2016

Honourable Mentions

Singapore

Melvin Keh (@ShamanVGC)

The most intimidating name in Singapore’s VGC scene, Melvin towers over the rest of the Asia Pacific region with 300 Championships Points. His ability to, in the words of Singaporean player Matthew Hui, “break down all of the factors in play on any given turn to make the most optimal move, all while slowly choking the life out of an opponent’s team”, has not only made Melvin an enthralling player to watch, but also carried him to outstanding performances. Melvin has already made a splash in London last year with a team built around then unorthodox picks like Xurkitree and Whimsicott. Melvin, affectionately dubbed Mr. Worldwide by the Singaporean community, will be looking to finally add Melbourne to the already extensive list of countries and cities he’s reaped spoils from in his relatively short VGC career.

Past Achievements

  • 2014 Elite Four Challenge (Top 4)
  • 2015 Malaysia Regionals (Top 4)
  • 2016 Singapore Regionals (Top 4)
  • 2016 World Championships Day 1
  • 2016 European Internationals Day 2 (VGC’17, 19th)
  • 2016 Malaysian Open Champion (VGC’17)

Ryan Loh

Ryan began the season as something of a dark horse. He sat out the entirety of the 2016 season and even prior to that had seen his results slip from his heyday as one of the Singapore VGC community’s founding members. He quickly made his presence known, however, tearing through both the Singapore and Malaysian Opens with a fairly unconventional team, featuring then avant-garde picks like Smeargle. Having built up a reputation as a player fond of forcing and then making hard reads, the offensive and fast-paced VGC’17 format looks set to stage Ryan’s best VGC performance yet. Going for broke in Melbourne could be his best, if not only, shot at securing an invite to the World Championships.

Past Achievements

  • 2011 Elite Four Challenge (Top 4)
  • 2015 Malaysia Regionals (Top 4)
  • 2016 Singapore Open (VGC’17, Top 8)
  • 2016 Malaysian Open (VGC’17, Top 4)

Benjamin Tan

Benjamin has only recently emerged as a threat in Singapore’s VGC scene, with a strong performance at the Malaysian Open and several commendable PC finishes securing his Travel Award to Melbourne. With little to go on thus far, not much can be said about Benjamin’s playstyle or preferences. Underestimate him for this reason at your own peril, however, as he’s shown a commendable ability to play just about any team he chooses to its full potential. Expect him to make some noise in Melbourne, should he make the right metagame calls.

Past Achievements

  • 2016 Malaysian Open (VGC’17, Top 4)

Nelson Lim

Possibly Singapore’s most decorated VGC player, Nelson has consistently proven himself a force to be reckoned with. Though traditionally a modest performer overseas, Nelson will be attending the Oceania Internationals buoyed by a commanding victory at the Singapore Open. His ambitions flying into Melbourne aren’t quite as impassioned as some of his fellow Singaporeans, hampered by his probable inability to attend the World Championships this year due to university studies. But, Nelson’s never been one to hold back, with or without World Championship qualifications on the line. With a positive record against Australia’s best knocking Phil Nguyen out of the 2016 World Championships, Nelson’s definitely a name to watch for going into Melbourne.

Past Achievements

  • 2012 Elite Four Challenge (Finalist)
  • 2013 World Championships Last Chance Qualifier (Top 32)
  • 2014 Asia Cup (9th)
  • 2014 Elite Four Challenge (Champion)
  • 2016 World Championships Day 1
  • 2016 Singapore Open (VGC’17) (Champion)

Notable Mentions

Other notable hopefuls include former World Championships participants Ryan Chiam, Isaac Lam, Yoko Taguma and Chelsea Tan, and former Singapore Regional Champion Fam An – all players who’ve made strong showings in the local Premier Challenge circuit recently. 2011 Elite Four Challenge Champion Matthew Hui will be returning to Melbourne for the first time since 2015’s National Championships, hoping to take home more than the Top 32 placing settled for last time around.

A huge thank you goes to Isaac Lam for contributing the the Singapore portion of this article!

We would like to wish all players competing in the International Championship weekend the best of luck. Be sure to stay tuned to our Live Coverage here on PokeAus throughout the weekend!

About Mindape

A Pokemon fan since Blue and Red. Rarely seen as a trainer in the wild due to irl commitments, but dedicated to contributing to the community regardless. Rio 2016 Olympian.
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