Hey there Hat Lovers,
TPCi has announced the new Championship Points structure for the Video Game Championships circuit this year! There was a big discussion amongst the players on nuggetbridge.com, and TPCi listened and took their suggestions to heart. Here are some thoughts on all of the changes coming from someone who played the TCG, where the equivalent of Premier Challenges (Cities), Midseason Showdowns (States), Regionals and Nationals were part of the yearly circuit.
- What does the circuit look like?
- How important will these different tiers of tournaments be?
- What issues did we have last year, and have they been fixed?
The major changes to expect this season are less pressure to fill your Premier Challenge best finish limit (BFL) , and less pressure to attend/place at 3 Regional Championships. Why do I say this? Well…
p.s. I apoligize for the rambliness of this post. To aid with digestion, I’ve made bullet point lists at the start of each section to offer a “tl;dr” version of the article for those that just want to skim.
What does the circuit look like?
Here’s the gist of it:
- There will be a CP bar to qualify for Worlds
- Premier Challenges and International Challenges are now included in the same BFL (6)
- Premier Challenges have seen a decrease in maximum CP payout, while International Challenges have seen an increase in CP payout
- Premier Challenges can now be divided into two classes: normal PCs (total attendance < 40) and elevated PCs (total attendance > 39). Elevated PCs award more CP to non-1st Place finishers
- There is a kicker of 8 in-division attendance for Top 4 CP at Premier Challenges
- There is a new series, “Midseason Showdowns,” which awards CP at a level between Premier Challenges and Regionals, and counts towards the same BFL (3) as Regionals
- Regionals have seen an increase in CP payout at all levels of finish, with 1st Place taking home a whopping 150 CP
- There is a Best Finish Limit of 1 for Nationals, and Nationals award slightly more CP at all finishes
So most importantly, there is a new event series (Midseason Showdowns) which are supposed to operate at a State/Province/Territory level. These are like mini-Regionals, and Masters division attendance could fall anywhere between ~50 on the lower end, to ~150 on the higher end. I would expect the vast majority to fall within those bounds, but it’s possible that some highly competitive areas exceed attendance of 150. I don’t expect anywhere that gets a Midseason Showdown to have a Masters attendance of less than 50 (and if they do, I expect they wouldn’t retain the privilege).
The CP payout of Midseason showdowns makes them an inferior Regionals, so players who are able to make the Top 16 consistently at Regionals will find the event series unimportant. However, amongst the Top 40 players in North America last year, only 11 had three Regionals finishes at Top 16 or better. Moreover, six players had Regionals finishes from only one or two Regionals. In order to improve on a Top 32 Regionals finish, you need a Top 8 at a Midseason Showdown, which seems like an appropriate payout system.
However, while a new series will undoubtedly have a major impact on the circuit, the most important part is the unannounced CP bar to qualify for the World Championships. We’ll have to wait and see what that CP bar ends up being, but the fact that players will no longer need to compete with one another in the North American CP rankings for a Worlds invite is going to be a very different experience. No more ambiguity about who will have a Worlds invite at the end of the year!
Finally, Premier Challenges have been balanced out. The BFL containing Premier Challenges and International Challenges awards less total CP than last year, reducing the pressure to fill your Premier Challenge BFL, and making it easier to at least earn some points towards the BFL via the International Challenges. The kicker at 8 players will also prevent the obscenely easy Premier Challenges from awarding CP to the Top 4, and the elevated Premier Challenge status will put tougher areas on more even footing. I also like how the elevated Premier Challenge status promotes players trying to increase tournament attendance such that greater CP payouts can be earned.
How important will these different tiers of tournaments be?
- Players in elevated Premier Challenge regions seem like they’re at a slight advantage this year, but it’s very well balanced. Top Cutting an elevated Premier Challenge is better than taking 2nd at a smaller event.
- Midseason Showdowns are likely to contribute to the Regionals BFL in a significant way. Even the most successful players don’t actually fill their Regionals BFL with Top 16s.
- Midseason Showdowns alleviate the pressure to attend 3 Regionals en route to a stipend.
- Nationals has a significant drop from T16 to T32. What effect this has on invites will be determined by the CP bar.
- I’d expect a CP bar to sit around 460 ± 30, depending on what TPCi wants to do with its Worlds invites.
It remains to be seen what the CP bar will be, which could impact this discussion greatly. However, as far as their total potential reward, here are a few sample seasons to let you get a feel for what kind of Championship Point finish you could end up with. I’ve taken the results of various players from Gavin’s 2015 CP sheet and used those as a basis for these approximate seasons:
Player A ~ Top 8 NA season: 896-910 CP
Premier Challenge BFL – (1st PC / 1st PC / 1st PC / 2nd PC / 2nd PC / T4 PC):
142 Championship Points
Elevated Premier Challenge BFL – (1st PC / 1st PC / 2nd PC / T4 PC / T4 PC / T8 PC):
156 Championship Points
Midseason Showdown / Regionals BFL – (1st Regionals / T4 Regionals / T8 MSS):
334 Championship Points
National Championships – (T8 Nationals):
420 Championship Points
Player B ~ Top 40 NA season: 477-501 CP
Premier Challenge BFL – (1st PC / 1st PC / 2nd PC / 2nd PC / T4 PC / T8 PC):
120 Championship Points
Elevated Premier Challenge BFL – (1st PC / 2nd PC / T4 PC / T8 PC / T8 PC / T8 PC):
144 Championship Points
Midseason Showdown / Regionals BFL – (T8 Regionals / T8 MSS / T32 Regionals ):
225 Championship Points
National Championships – (T64 Nationals):
132 Championship Points
Player C solid season: 376-409
Premier Challenge BFL – (1st PC/ 2nd PC/ 2nd PC/ T4 PC/ T4 PC/ T8 PC):
102 Championship Points
Elevated Premier Challenge BFL – (2nd PC/ T4 PC/ T4 PC/ T8 PC/ T8 PC/ T16 PC):
135 Championship Points
Midseason Showdown / Regionals BFL – (T16 Regionals / T8 MSS / T64 Regionals):
190 Championship Points
National Championships – (T128 Nationals):
84 Championship Points
What can be seen from these numbers is that the total CP this year is going to be much higher than last year, which is a result of bigger payouts at big events. A very rough ballpark to qualify for the World Championships expecting T40 players in NA would be about 480 CP. So if the CP bar is set below that, I’d expect a more than 40 players to qualify for the World Championships. Player C is done up as an example of a player who reasonably should miss out on a Worlds invite, despite a very good season. While I don’t know what the CP bar is going to be, when it is announced, these numbers will be very telling regarding TPCi’s intentions for the World Championships this year.
If the CP bar ends up around 480, I think that reflects a desire to have a static cutoff, rather than a dynamic one. The intention would be to keep the number of Worlds invitations to be about the same. If the CP bar ends up much lower than 480, (e.g. 425), then TPCi might be intending to facilitate invites, and increase the size of Day 1 Worlds. If it’s set at 400, then TPCi is really opening up the gates for a Worlds invite, though players will still need to do well throughout the year.
Something that does come up as striking, is how the elevated Premier Challenges are worth so much compared to normal Premier Challenges. I don’t think my proposed finishes are unreasonable, but something that can be seen is that the elevated Premier Challenge points drops are much less punishing (156->135 vs. 142->102). Indeed, this year it may be the areas with the highest attendance that benefit most from Premier Challenges. While good players in lower attendance areas will still snatch up many 1sts and 2nds, the advantage to be gained is much reduced.
Regarding the new tier of series, Midseason Showdowns will likely contribute to the vast majority of players’ BFL. From the 2015 CP sheet, only 11 players with a Worlds invite had three Regionals with T16 or better. The other 29 can improve on their finishes with a T8 at a Midseason Showdown, and many others below the Worlds bar can improve as well. I mean… if you had a T64 at Regionals contributing to your BFL last year, this year that can be replaced by a T16 at a Midseason Showdown.
What issues did we have last year, and have they been fixed?
The biggest issues from last year were:
- Disparity in Premier Challenge difficulty and availability is addressed by elevated Premier Challenges, a lower total payout, and the ability to supplement Premier Challenges with International Challenges.
- The kicker for Top 8 in-division attendance to receive Top 4 CP will prevent the exceptionally small Premier Challenge areas from giving out CP like candy, though good players still stand to benefit most from exceptionally poor attendance.
- The cost of travel en route to an invite has been reduced by Midseason Showdowns. This has always been an issue, but as the circuit grew it became more and more important to address.
- The Nationals BFL has been changed, thank goodness. I don’t know if this is a positive change for European players, but I actually think it’s quite reasonable given how many points Nationals gives away. Players will still travel to multiple Nationals looking to improve their best finish. It also prevents the need to attend multiple Nationals.
- Worlds invitations are going to be determined by a cutoff point, letting us all get a better feel for what our goal is at the end of the season.
Given the increase in total points available, and the reduction in max payout that Premier Challenges offer, Premier Challenges have been nerfed quite a bit this season. While the CP maximum is only 20 less than last year, considering the increase in points from MSSs/Regionals and Nationals, Premier Challenges are worth quite a bit less this year compared to last year.
Effectively, Midseason Showdowns offer additional Regionals points to areas that don’t have access. It lessens the advantage players gain by travelling to extra Regionals in an effort to improve on those 3rd best finishes. Midseason Showdowns will be extremely important for the circuit, but primarily to help level the playing field amongst areas with differing event availability.
Nationals seeing increased payout is an interesting adjustment. The CP bar will dictate how this affects the circuit more than anything. At even the lowest possible CP bars (~400), a T16 at Nationals still asks you to show up somewhere along the way. The hefty dropoff to T32 (-144 CP) means that a T16 finish will likely form most of a Worlds invite, while a T32 finish will be a CP-topper for players that need points from outside Nationals. A Top 8 finish will likely get you a Worlds invite, but you’ll need to attend something sometime. Coupled with the greater payout from Regionals, Nationals should less relative impact on the ability to qualify for Worlds compared to last year.
As far as how the new BFL for Nationals affects North America and abroad; North America is highly appreciative. European players are used to a circuit containing multiple National Championships contributing to their CP, so the change comes at a bit of a shock. However, I don’t feel this change is all that negative. The incredible number of points Nationals awards required players to attend all European Nationals if they wanted to keep their invite safe (unless they essentially won an event). This year, you can ease off the gas if you’ve done extremely well at Regionals, and you can stop playing after you Top Cut a Nationals or two. European readers, feel free to chime in, but isn’t this a bit of a welcome change? It does mean consistency amongst Nationals events isn’t rewarded, but the crazy total CP that one could earn through decent-middling Nationals finishes last year must have been rough.
Short and sweet, this season looks amazing. My initial impression is that they’ve gone a little points-happy for Regionals/Nationals, but not too much. The CP bar will also solidify my opinion of the points distribution. But regardless, this is by and large the best season outline I’ve seen released for the video game, and I hope you’re as excited about the upcoming season as I am.
The first series of Premier Challenges (Sceptile Series) has now begun, so check Pokemon.com’s event locator for Premier Challenges near you!