Canadians Abroad: US Nationals Preview

Hey there Hat Lovers, Mark here.

This Canada Day, with US Nationals only 3 days away, I thought I’d write up a fun little preview article to showcase the Canadians with a good shot at a World’s invite this year. The following list is a both a Top 10, and a clean cutoff for anyone with a minimum of 180 CP; that means if anyone on this list gets a Top 16 at US Nats, they’ll have >380 CP, which is the projected cutoff for a Worlds invite.

So who are the Canucks to look out for at US Nationals?

Worlds-ready

Max Douglas (Starmetroid)

Max has had a breakout year this year after getting into the game in 2013. Obviously Max is an author and founder here at VGC with Hats, but he doesn’t know I’m writing this! Max has really proven himself to be one of the most consistent players in North America this season, having attended three Regional Championships. In each, he not only made Top Cut, but also won at least one Top Cut match; In order his finishes were 2nd, T8, and 2nd. Max also maxed out his Premier Challenge best finish limit in British Columbia, which is definitively one of the hardest regions in North America.

Max’s success didn’t start this year though: Max took home a Top 4 finish in Washington last year, and a Top 8 finish in Oregon 2013. In fact, Max has attended six total Regionals since his first in 2013, and has made Top Cut at 5/6. If that doesn’t speak volumes about his consistency, I don’t know what does.

Max is playing at US Nats to secure a Day 2 invite. He currently sits in 4th place in Canada and the USA, and 1st in Canada. If there’s a safe bet to do well at US Nats this year, I think it’s got to be Max.

Needs a Top 64 finish

Rushan Shekar (Firestorm)

Rushan has really picked up his game these past two years. A VGC veteran, employee at www.battlefy.com, and founder of Nugget Bridge, Rushan is no stranger to VGC. Last year, Rushan just bubbled out of receiving a travel stipend, but this year is in a solid position to earn himself an invite with an X-2 performance at US Nationals day 1. Rushan has displayed some top performances these past two seasons, including a Top 32 at US Nationals last year, and a Top 4 at Oregon Regionals this year. Rushan also closed out the season with back-to-back-to-back Premier Challenge wins to fill out his Best Finish Limit, again in British Columbia.

While Rushan has been playing for a long time, this is certainly his best year yet and he’s been playing the whole year relying on only two teams. Having familiarity with your team and how it can respond to different threats is a distinct advantage in a Best of 3 format, so the new swiss format bodes well for Rushan.

Rushan would need an impressive finish to qualify for the 2nd day of the World Championships, but has put himself in a good position to play a consistent Day 1 and not have to fret about a strong finish on Day 2.

Needs a Top 32 finish

Mark Hanson (Crawdaunt)

I took a 2nd at Seattle this year, and have had some decent success at Premier Challenges. But I’m going to need to find a key to playing consistently if I want to make a deep run at US Nationals. Max tends to be the major innovator between the two of us for team-building, while I tend to take his teams and tweak them to my liking. This has resulted in an undesirable position where whenever we face each other we often have the same team, and if not, similar teams. Moreover, our EV spreads are often the exact same, which just makes for terrible coin flip battles. Either way, I’ll need to make Day 2 first, and I’ll worry about Top 32 when I get there.

Tyson Gernack (Firefly)250px-225Delibird

Tyson is in the midst of his first competitive season. Tyson is a newer face to the VGC scene, and the lone player to make this list from Alberta. Tyson has been a consistent performer all year with three Top 32 finishes at Regionals and a very solid Premier Challenge best finish limit. While Top 32 doesn’t sound as impressive as a Top Cut finish, Top 32 often implies an X-2 record which is what’ll be needed at US Nationals to make Day 2; having such consistently strong performances should serve him well at the highest-attended tournament of the year. While he hasn’t had a Top Cut this season, he’s made the finals of Premier Challenges four times implying that he’s comfortable in Best of 3 play. This Best of 3 format could be just the trick for Tyson’s breakout performance, and there isn’t a better time for a personal-best than at US Nats.

Randy Kwa (R_Inanimate)10632750_1481003108816449_5530923131482686875_n

Often hailed as Canada’s best player (I wonder if Randy is tired of us introducing him like that), Randy may have had rougher runs at Regionals this year but has still put himself in a position to qualify for the World Championships with a Top 32 finish at US Nats. Randy may not have a Regionals finish above T32 this year, but he did win the Seattle Regionals Premier Challenge the day after, which featured a lot of top players and saw an impressive 7 rounds of swiss with a Top 8 cut. Randy has also filled out his PCs handily with nothing but finalist finishes in the BC region. Randy’s known for playing and adapting the same team throughout the season. One of the things that makes Randy such a consistently strong player is that, while people can know his team, he is a very strong tactician and shows great mental fortitude. Recently, Randy took 2nd place at the BC Invitational, earning him a $100 travel stipend to US Nats. That success in the same upcoming Best of 3 format will almost certainly play into his favour and of those on this list, he’s a strong favourite to make Day 2.

Looking for a Top 16 performance

Jason Wynja (Arti)

Jason is a VGC vet that has a love for those minor quirks on teams. In 2014, Jason saw some good success with a couple Top 8 finishes at Regionals, and has had a very strong Premier Challenge season this year. And yes, it was again in BC. But more importantly, they were all in Vancouver; Victoria PCs saw less attendance than Vancouver’s PCs. Over the past year, Jason had been throwing Leer onto almost anything he could, even Salamence, to catch his opponents off guard. But Jason isn’t going to Nats this year, so oh well!

Raphael Bagara (bagelbagelbagelbagel)

Rapha is a fellow VGC with Hats author, and is only in his first competitive season. Rapha has a Regionals Top 16 to his name this year, and a very strong Premier Challenge best finish limit. Rapha is also the first BC Invitational champion; the BC Invitational was an invite-only event, which earned him a $350 travel stipend to US Nats. While Rapha consistently makes Top Cut at Premier Challenges, his best finishes tended to happen later in the year. This may reflect a maturation of his Best of 3 play as the year went on, as Best of 3 is a totally different beast than Best of 1. Given that, Rapha may be in for one of his best runs of the season if his Best of 3 skills have indeed been polished to a shine. Only time will tell, but he’s definitely a player to watch!

Nick Titan (nickofpokemon)

I couldn’t confirm if Nick was going to Nats, but since he’s from Ontario and Indianapolis is within driving distance (~8 hours), I’d suspect he’ll be attending. Nick earned his way into the Canadian Top 10 with strong Premier Challenge performances, backed up by a Top 32 at the one Regionals he placed in; I don’t know if he played at more Regionals. I don’t know anything about Nick, and neither do the folks running the 2015 CP sheet, since he doesn’t have a nickname associated with him. Either way, Nick’s a bit of a mystery so we’ll see what happens at Nats! It’d certainly be his best finish yet to make the Top 16.

Nathan Brammer Powell (illuminatimon)

While I never heard back from Nathan, I know he’s an active community member and has travelled to 3 Regionals already this year. Nathan’s resume includes a 2nd place at Ontario Regionals in 2012, and a Top 4 at the Wisconsin Regionals in 2014. This year, he’s had three Top 64 finishes at Regionals, and has made the Top 4 at PCs to fill out his best finish limit with 2nds and 4ths. It seems like Nathan is still looking for his first win, but has a consistent positive record. With a tough field ahead, X-3 won’t be enough. While I’ve said that Best of 3 play will/may benefit others, without any strong Best of 3 performances this time it’s a tough sell. Do your best and have no regrets Nathan! Top 16 is just an 11-4 performance away!

Wesley Warthe-Anderson (Dread Pirate Roberts)

Until Wesley makes himself a Nugget Bridge username, I’ma call him the Dread Pirate Roberts (thanks Murray). Wesley not only started playing this past year, his first tournament was a Top 4 PC finish in Victoria in January! Then, four months later, he took Top 4 at another event: The Seattle Regional Championships. I don’t know how many people out there have taken Top 4 at the first Regional Championships they’ve attended, but that is a small, small list. That said, Wesley isn’t going to US Nationals, so oh well! Look forward to this guy for next year! I hear he may be writing up a Seattle Regionals report for VGC with Hats in the future so stay tuned!

Ending Thoughts

Tonight I fly out for Indianapolis, and I’ll be joined by the very best in the game in competing for both a 2015 World Championships invitation, and a win at the best-attended tournament of the year (and likely ever). This year’s US National Championships will be a tough slog of up to 27 games on Day 1, but the reward of Best of 3 will be well worth it. At the end of the day, the best of the best will need to have a minimum of a 12-3 run to make Top 8, and extend that to 15-3 to win the event. When you look at it like that, it’s a strong performance, but not so unrealistic sounding eh?

I for one, am pumped.

Cheers,

Crawdaunt out

p.s. I was thinking about how to fill the space in this article, and I thought mugshots would be good, but wasn’t comfortable with using people’s photos without permission. So I figured I’d just throw in signature Pokemon, and if I didn’t know em, Canadian-looking Pokemon.

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