We're Shipping Up to Boston! Worlds 2015 info and thoughts
In this article James Good breaks down all the latest Worlds 2015 news that just came our way.
11/26/2014 by James Good
Ladies and Gentlemen my name is James Good and I am an advocate for The Pokemon Trading Card Game and your reigning yet no longer defending 2013 Pokemon World Championship 3rd place champion. Most recently my accomplishments include bubbling several events during my 13’-14’ Blastoise World Tour Season which culminated in a momentous 179th place finish at Worlds 2014.
Having grueling qualified for Worlds in each of my first two competitive seasons, 60Cards has asked me to share my thoughts on the recent Worlds 2015 announcement that was just made by Play! Pokemon . Now some would say I parlayed standard Big Basics and Blastoise decklists into two Worlds Invites and $10,000 in prizes..but let’s turn a blind eye to them and focus on the news at hand and talk about Location, CP requirements and changes to the Worlds Structure shall we?
Before we began, I want to thank The Pokemon Company International for providing us with this information prior to the start of City Championships. The ‘Cities’ portion of the season is often considered the make or break portion of the season that can really set the table for the rest of a player’s season. Competitive players will often partake in taxing weekend schedules driving to other states or long distances to play in events or even fly into marathon structured events during the holiday season.
While most have been critical of TPCI for not announcing this information earlier, I do not believe it was done so with any malintent towards the player base but rather as a concerted effort to structure our World Championship in a way that will create a much more Grand, albeit less exclusive event.
Then again, I still remember the excitement of the closing ceremony at Worlds 2013 when I learned where my travel award would be taking me to play Pokemon. I feel sorry for those who earned that award this year and didn’t get to enjoy that same exciting feeling.
Worlds will be held in Boston, MA, USA on Friday, August 21st through Sunday, August 23rd, 2015. So once again Worlds will be held on east coast of the United States and I truly believe this is going to be an excellent location that will appeal to almost everyone. While originally I was going to point out that east coast Worlds saves European players roughly seven hours in the air as opposed to a West Coast World Championship, I was reminded that the Asian community bares the brunt of the extra travel, as most flights from Asia layover in Hawaii before reaching the mainland USA via west coast hubs.
I still think that the location is prime and I think that everyone will find something to enjoy in Boston, a city rich with history, culture and and a one of a kind atmosphere..or so I’ve been told. For those of us who like to make an extended vacation out of Worlds, Boston is still relatively close to several major tourist destinations. Boston is about a 3 ½ hour drive to New York City, a 5 hour drive to Philadelphia and an 8 hour drive back to Washington D.C, the stomping grounds of Worlds 2014.
Personally, I think the pro play if you’re interested in sightseeing might be to head up north and catch a few nights in Montreal, Quebec, Canada or even possibly Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Montreal seems attractive to me because unlike Vancouver, B.C which very much feels like an extension of my hometown of Seattle, Washington, I’ve read that Montreal has a much more French-Canadian influence to it. Having experienced the difference between the West and East Coast Cultures of the United States this year, I’m intrigued by learning the differences between Western and Eastern Canada, making Montreal seem like the ideal spot to get away for a few days after the insanity that should be Worlds '15 is over.
CHANGES TO WORLDS STRUCTURE
The biggest difference between Worlds ‘15 and World Championships of the past is that there is no longer going to be a Last Chance Qualifier on Friday. No longer will we see any more Cinderella stories ala Jason Klaczynski who came to Worlds ‘13 without an invite only to secure one via the LCQ and eventually went onto win the whole thing. This time around it will be cut and dry who the competitors will be and the mountain they will have to climb to write their name in the lore of Pokemon TCG/VGC history.
Replacing the LCQ will be Day 1 of Worlds which the majority of the field will participate, making going from Start to Finals a potential three day event for those who do not earn a Day 1 bye. In light of the recent announcement, many players seem to have this perception that securing an invite to Day 1 of Worlds is comparable to securing an invite to play in an LCQ given the sheer size Day 1 is expected to be now that the CP requirement has been lowered (which we will get into later), but I have to strongly disagree with this logic. Yes, Worlds exclusivity will be much lower this year than previous, but to discredit players or create this sort of “Day one invite means nothing but Day two players deserve credit” divide is the sort of elitist logic that creates ripples within our community.
Look at it this way. Before the big internet Poker boom in the early 2000’s the fields of players in World Series of Poker events were greatly smaller than they are now. Yet in the WSOP, a bracelet (which is given to the winner of a tournament) holds the same weight and regard regardless of the year it was won in. Nobody within the poker community feels that Joe Hachem, who bested a field a 5,619 players in 2005 to become World Champion accomplished a greater feat than Doyle Brunson, who bested fields of 22 and 34 respectively in 1976 & 1977 to win his WSOP Main Event. bracelets. Tournaments evolve throughout the years and this is just another evolution in the everchanging structured Play! Pokemon formats.
From Poker back to Pokemon, Players who hit a specific threshold of match points will move forward to play in Day 2 of the World Championship where the tournament will cut down to a Top 8. Day 2 players will be allowed to play a different deck if they participate in Day 1 and the tournament will start fresh, meaning players who faced off in Day 1 can once again play each other in Day 2. The event will be standard format for all three days.
I'm disappointed to see that Extended play will not be making an appearance at Worlds despite having a strong looming presence over the larger events of the season. Part of me would have LOVED to see TPCI open up the second day of the event to the ever growing expanded card pool and let the mad scientists within the community go to work incorporating the 16-17 sets worth of cards we will have by then into their deck building skills. Do you really want to see Darkrai win a 3rd Worlds in four years?! If your name is Israel Sosa that answer is a resounding YES! YES! YES!
"First place this year will take home a cool $25,000 in cold, hard, and thankfully transferable scholarship funds."
Let’s not forget to mention the prizes. First place this year will take home a cool $25,000 in cold, hard, and thankfully transferable scholarship funds. 2nd will get $15k and 3rd and 4th will bring in a respectable $7,500 (Hey Dustin Zimmerman, looks like we picked the wrong year to top 4 Worlds!) and everyone else placing in the top 32 will receive some of that sweet sweet Pikachu money.
Travel awards are often a hot topic regarding how they are dispersed and this year appears to be no different, as travel awards will now be given to those who finish in the Top X of their respective zone. This includes the Top 16 in USA & Canada, Top 22 in Europe, Top 8 in Latin America and Top 8 in Asia Pacific region. In addition these players also automatically advance to Day 2. Correct me if I'm wrong but last year I believe that the top 128 players in the United States received a travel award for US Nationals instead of Worlds, with the higher placing players receiving more money. This means that 8 players who received travel awards last year would not even have qualified for Worlds had the championship point threshold been 300 points!
It's interesting that TPCI has chosen to award travel money for Worlds instead of Nationals this year as well. I assume this is because they expect an influx of Worlds invites and want to make traveling to Worlds for these players a little lighter on their wallets. Considering we do not know how much money these players will receive with their travel awards, it's tough to speculate on whether or not these changes are an increase or decrease in overall travel money rewarded. If I had to take an educated guess, I'd believe it to be less considering that the prize money awarded at Worlds is significantly greater both on the top end for the Winner and trickling all the way down to the top 32. When all of the numbers are broken down between prize money and travel awards there is likely a small bump in total prize 'funds' being dispersed to the player base, but at best all we will likely get is a ballpark range and not any sort of exact figure. Where are our stats and numbers guys at? (cc: Paul Johnston)
CHAMPIONSHIP POINT STRUCTURE
Easily the part of the Worlds Announcements that turned the most heads and generated the most discussion was the lowered championship point requirements needed to secure Day one invites to Worlds. Let’s take a look at that structure:
I do not know how many tournaments take place in each part of the rest of the world so I’ll primarily be focusing on the CP requirements for US & Canada. For masters the magic number is now 300 which is two hundred points less than the requirement for Worlds ‘14 and one hundred less than the requirement for Worlds ‘13. Last season we had 64 players from the United States hit the 500 point threshold to secure their invite. Lower that threshold to 300 and we see that number jumps up to 120 players.
I think it’s important to keep in mind however that many players found 500 points to be too tedious to grind for their invite, resulting in a smaller amount of players actively competing for championship points and a lot more casual play. Now that the CP requirement is 300 I envision City Championships, Regionals and really every event going forward to be an absolute bloodbath now that securing an invite to Day one is far more obtainable than less year.
"Traveling equates to time off work/school AND having the money to afford multiple weekend getaways that rarely feel like vacations."
I’m not going to say that lowering the requirement for a worlds invite to 300cp was a mistake because I see the vision TPCI is aiming for. 500cp was asking FAR too much for everyone except the most hardcore, longtime players who are in it for the long haul regardless of the requirements. Last year players HAD to travel to multiple regionals, not just the ones closest to them.
Traveling equates to time off work AND having the money to afford multiple weekend getaways that rarely feel like vacations. Those who obtained 500 championship points not only showed elite skill at the game, they also showed they had the financial means to accomplish this. While I think that there should be some sort of level of dedication to the game that a player must make to secure an invite, I also hate to see the underlying ‘financial means’ aspect play a large role in whether or not a skilled player can earn their invite.
By setting the bar at 300 Championship Points, TPCI is making it known that they want Worlds ‘15 to be an absolutely enormous event. Is there a logic behind this? I think yes, and I think it’s to create buzz within the world of trading card games AND within the player base. Think about this for a second. Now that tournament organizers can charge for events ($5 for league challenges, $10 for cities, etc) why would TPCI want to discourage large turnouts at these events by setting the CP requirement bar too high?
"250cp for Seniors and 200cp for Juniors seems INSANE!"
300 is a very sexy number that even less competitive players find reachable. This should be a nice shot in the arm to smaller events that saw attendance dwindle last season with the combination of 500cp Worlds Invites AND entry fees. We can now expect the turnouts for these events to be larger and much more competitive and that is absolutely great for the game.
Personally, I would have liked to see the CP requirement return to the 400 point level, which felt perfect to me in the 12’-13’ season. 400 is a number that is obtainable without making a commitment to playing in more than 3 regionals in addition to the rest of the season. For context this is how I earned my Worlds invite with 425cp in the 12’-13’:
6 Battle Roads finishes: 65
4 cities finishes: 160
1 States finish: 20
2 Regionals finishes: 130
Top 16 Last Chance for Points: 50
= 425 cp
There are multiple ways to hit the 400 mark without needing to overextend and travel to multiple regional events in the Fall, Winter or Spring. I liked this format because it almost required a player to have an extremely good or at least consistent showing at big events (States and up) where realistically a player could earn 290/300 points by capping cities and league challenges, which isn’t easy by any means but a far more realistic approach than simply taking down two regional championships (looking at you AGAIN Israel Sosa!).
Further, I’d just like to quickly point out that 250cp for Seniors and 200cp for Juniors seems INSANE! If memory serves me correctly, local Washington Seniors such as Ian Whiton and Cal Connor tend to lock up their Worlds Invites much earlier in the season than most Masters already. Hopefully these lowered requirements don’t create awkward scooping drama between friends in the Seniors and Juniors division, but I suppose the same could be said for the Masters division as well.
So 60Cards readers what do you think about all of this new information? Were you hoping that Worlds would be held somewhere more exotic? Do you think that the CP requirement is just TOO low? Do you wonder why on earth I played 1-1 MegaKhan in Virgen during the On The Bubble stream against Brit Pybas at Fall Regionals? Are you still scratching your head at why Troll&Toad buys M-Blastoise-EX for $21 yet sells Manectric EX for $12? Me too. Let’s hear it, sound off in the comments below!
Until next time 60Cards, I’m James Good and I once played Silver Mirrors in a deck with all EX Pokemon.
SOURCE: Announcing the 2015 Pokémon World Championships! (Pokemon.com)
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