2019 Worlds Preview: Meet Team North America!

The 2019 World Championships in Washington D.C are getting closer and closer. Starting off next Friday, players from over 30 countries will be competing to take home the exclusive 1st Place Pikachu trophy on Sunday.

In the following days counting down to the event, we’ll introduce the top players of all regions, those playing directly on Day 2 of Worlds, in a series of daily articles. To heat things up, the first installment is about North America, home to the Worlds stage.

salamence-mega North America at Worlds

North America is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, regions to have competed at the VGC World Championships. With 4 World Champions in the Masters Division (Ray Rizzo’s three consecutive wins in 2010-12; and Wolfe Glick’s one in 2016) and top cut appearances in all years but 2015 (when Japan stormed the stage by taking 7 out of 8 cut spots), it’s safe to expect players from North America delivering some of the most exceptional matches of the year in the Worlds stage.

This season, the Americans took the first Internationals, in São Paulo, Brazil, and managed to close the year up with another win at home for the North American Internationals, evening up the score with Europe at 2 International wins each. It’s also worth noting the solid performances of Canadian players in Masters and the unstoppable Justin Miranda-Radbord in Juniors as part of team NA’s strong showing this season.

As one would expect, North America’s invitee list, made up by almost 100 players, is replete of acknowledged players looking to take their first (or second!) World Championship title home: keep an eye out on them!

salamence-mega Day 2 players

USA Ashton Cox (2445 CP)

After spending most of the year at the top of the CP leaderboard, Ashton finished up his 2019 season with a staggering 2445 CP. He started his season off by winning Memphis Regionals with Xerneas Lunala, and then piloted that core to a championship in the Latin America International Championships. He ended 2019 with 6 regional top cuts, including a second regional win at Santa Clara. He also managed to get points at every single IC, a feat he finished off with a top 8 finish at NAIC.

In the Ultra series, Ashton has largely stuck to the Xerneas Groudon core. However, his team compositions have varied greatly. He won Santa Clara Regionals using a Gengar variant with Perish Song, got top 16 at Hartford Regionals with a Salamence version, and top cut NAIC with Kangaskhan and Metagross as his Mega Pokémon. 

This will be Ashton’s fourth time competing at worlds. His best finish was a top 16 in 2014, and he has finished top 32 each of the last two years. His incredible success at a regional and international level hasn’t translated to the worlds stage, and he’ll surely be looking to change that this year.

USA James Baek (2187 CP)

James might be best known for his Youtube channel, but his results this year have proven he’s more than just a pretty face. James finished the 2nd in the world in CP en route to his fifth consecutive Worlds invite.

He finished second place at LAIC with a core of Kyogre Xerneas Tornadus, establishing the team as the dominant threat in the metagame. He would go on to win Roanoke Regionals and top 8 Oceania Internationals, both with the same team. In Ultra, James would go on to win Daytona Regionals with Yveltal Kyogre and finish top 4 at Hartford with Rayquaza Kyogre. However, at NAIC he returned to his roots and ran the same 6 Pokémon he had used through Sun and Moon series to finish within the top 16.

James’s success at worlds will come down to if he can continue to keep is XernOgre build one step ahead of the meta or if he can build something better entirely.

Coming off a 2018 NAIC championship, Jeremy had another fantastic season propel him to a day 2 finish. He finished his season with 450 points from PCs and MSSs, most in North America, but also had two regional cuts and consistent finishes at international championships.

He and Ashton built the Xerneas Lunala core that was dominant during the Sun series. Jeremy piloted it to a second place finish at Memphis Regionals, where he lost a mirror match to Ashton in the finals, as well as a top 4 finish at LAIC (also won by Ashton). In the Ultra series format, he finished top 4 at Santa Clara Regionals with a Xerneas Groudon Gengar core (and you can guess who won). While Jeremy was unable to attend NAIC, he also finished within the top 32 at Oceania and top 128 at EUIC. 

Jeremy has consistently shown he can build meta breaking teams, while also consistently getting CP with more interesting picks such as Zoroark. However, he has yet to have his breakthrough on the worlds stage. Ohio’s own Ash and Gary are smart money to top cut, but will Jeremy finally be able to break out of his rival’s shadow?

USA Wolfe Glick (1538 CP)

Wolfe is a player that needs no introduction. His last season ended in disappointment, as he failed to make it out of day 1 of Worlds after taking his 3rd loss in round 8. Prior to that, he had been the highest placing NA player at the World Championships for the last 3 seasons. He struggled to rise to his usual heights during Sun and Moon series, but has been on fire since Ultra series started. He started the series a top 4 finish at EUIC, running a core of Yveltal Kyogre. He then got a top 4 finish at Madison Regionals with a Yveltal Groudon team running soak Shedinja. Finally, he capped of his season by piloting Rayquaza Kyogre to an NAIC championship.

There’s no doubt Wolfe is the odds-on favorite to win worlds this year. This format is extremely similar to 2016, when he won the world championships, and he has done nothing but win since it started. A return to worlds top cut seems almost inevitable for Wolfe, but he surely has his sights set exclusively on a second world championship.

USA Stephen Mea (1502 CP)

Stephen had a remarkably consistent season, finishing with 1502 CP. Although he only cut one regional, he finished top 16 or top 32 at 7 more, maxing out his regional BFL. His one regional cut was Toronto Regionals in Moon series, which he won using the standard Tornadus Kyogre Xerneas core. Stephen also managed to finish top 16 at both Oceania and Latin America Internationals

Stephen has largely elected to stick to one team all format. He ran Xerneas Lunala for all of Sun series, Xerneas Kyogre for all of Moon series, and has run Xerneas Groudon to get a top 16 and two top 32 finishes at Ultra series regionals. He hasn’t managed to get a Worlds finish for himself despite his consistent success over the last few years, and he’ll be looking to surprise people after an otherwise disappointing Ultra series.

USA Nick Navarre (1475 CP)

A ubiquitous sight at North American events, you can recognize Nick “Nails” Navarre by his University of Michigan pajamas. He finished first in NA CP in 2017, but only managed to finish top 64 at worlds, and ended 2018 9th in NA CP to just barely miss out on a day 2 invite. In Sun series, he was one of the first players to discover Venusaur as a XernDon partner, but could only manage top 16 and top 32 finishes at Regionals and LAIC. He would hit his Precipice Blades at Dallas en route to a regional win, and would go on to top 8 Collinsville Regional with a similar team. 

Nick is the NA day 2 player with the fewest points from local events, all 150 points coming from sun series. He also struggled to find consistency in Ultra series, finishing with just a top 64 at NAIC. However, Nick has a reputation of being one of the most well-prepared players going into events, and this being his second time in day 2 he’ll surely be ready for anything.

USA Justin Burns (1301 CP)

Justin kicked off his 2019 season with a bang, winning the first regional of Sun series and changing the metagame with his tech choice, Toxicroak. He would go on to top cut Portland Regionals and finish second place at Roanoke Regionals, and then kick off Moon series with a top 4 finish at the Oceania IC. However, since then he’s struggled to find consistency, finishing top 128 at EUIC and 65th at NAIC. He also struggled at the regional level since then, with the lone bright spot being a second place finish at Santa Clara Regionals with RayOgre. 

After getting 2nd place at last year’s NAIC, Justin failed to capitalize on his momentum and maneuver through day 1 worlds. In 2016 and 2017 he succeeded in that fate, but after 3-1 starts in day 2 he fizzled out to top 64 and top 32 finishes. This year, Justin hasn’t found consistent success since Oceania. Will he be able to finish the job and top cut his first world championship, or will he stumble to finish line yet again?

USA Kyle Livinghouse (1246 CP)

After an intense competition, Kyle managed to hold off Yihui Xu and Paul Chua for the 8th and final NA day 2 spot. He managed to get top 8 at Philadelphia Regionals running Xerneas Ho-oh in sun series, and followed that up with a second top cut at Roanoke with a unique Xerneas Kyogre build. In Moon series, he would top cut his third regional of the year, getting top 8 at Greensboro Regionals with Xerneas Lunala. In the Ultra series, Kyle managed to finish 9th at two regionals, but piloted an X-Ray team to 2nd place at Hartford as well. Finally, with his day 2 invite on the line he managed to top 8 NAIC with Kangaskhan Tornadus XernDon. 

Kyle was one of the earliest adopters of the Kangaskhan Tornadus duo in Ultra series, and undoubtably one of its strongest users. With its newfound popularity, it will be interesting to see if he continues this core or finds something new to use. Although he’s no stranger to the stage, this will be Kyle’s first time in day 2 and also his first Worlds appearance. Will Kyle’s lack of experience at the international and world’s stage hold him back, or will Kyle get his “Epic Gaming” moment at Worlds this year?

salamence-mega Day 1 qualifiers

For those unaware on how the qualification system works, all players living in the North America rating zone (that is, in the United States or Canada) with 400 or more CP at the end of the season get invited to play at the day 1 of the World Championships and may play on the Friday Swiss rounds against other Day 1 qualifiers if they wish to attend. Those with 2 or fewer losses at the end of the day (x-2) will advance to Day 2, where they will play with the top players of each rating zone, automatically invited to Saturday.

The following list comprises all players with 400 or more CP in the North America rating zone, and is based on the official Play! Pokémon leaderboard.

  1. CAN Yihui Xu (1228 CP)
  2. USA Paul Chua (1175 CP)
  3. USA Alex Underhill (1130 CP)
  4. USA James Evans (973 CP)
  5. USA Raghav Malaviya (956 CP)
  6. USA Zheyuan Huang (814 CP)
  7. USA Patrick Donegan (802 CP)
  1. USA Rajan Bal (729 CP)
  2. USA Brian Youm (720 CP)
  3. USA Aaron Traylor (692 CP)
  4. USA Angel Miranda (660 CP)
  5. USA Ben Grissmer (647 CP)
  6. CAN Bingjie Wang (635 CP)
  7. USA Kevin Swastek (629 CP)
  8. USA Cedric DeRouchie (629 CP)
  9. USA Michael Lanzano (626 CP)
  10. USA Kimo Nishimura (618 CP)
  11. USA Ian McLaughlin (615 CP)
  12. CAN Martin Gajdosz (614 CP)
  13. USA Westley Long (601 CP)
  1. USA Riley Factura (591 CP)
  2. USA Gary Qian (582 CP)
  3. USA Louis Milich (582 CP)
  4. USA Allan Martinez (578 CP)
  5. CAN Fiona Szymkiewicz (574 CP)
  6. USA Jake Powell (563 CP)
  7. USA Enosh Shachar (550 CP)
  8. USA Collin Heier (542 CP)
  9. USA Alex Williams (536 CP)
  10. USA Jake Magier (524 CP)
  11. USA Enrique Grimaldo (516 CP)
  12. USA Tommy Cooleen (514 CP)
  13. USA Jeremy Odena (514 CP)
  14. USA Cameron Kicak (507 CP)
  15. USA Hector Vargas (504 CP)
  1. USA