2018 Costa Mesa Regional Championships Preview

Written by Jeremy Gross

The Midwest has had all the fun with US Regionals so far. Now it’s the West Coast’s turn. Today we’ll be taking a look at who to watch out for at their first regional tournament of the 2018 format, which will take place March 3-4 in Costa Mesa, California.


(3 vaguely aircraft-shaped mons that wish SoCal majors were easier to get to from LAX out of 5)

Compared to the last two regionals in the US, this doesn’t quite rise to the same level of difficulty. That being said, this is by no means a “free” regional, and there are quite a few notable players to watch for.

Returning Champion

Gavin Michaels

Michaels won this regional last year as part 2 of his hard Trick Room-fueled domination of California. His run at Anaheim (which Costa Mesa replaced as the southern California Regional) was nearly flawless, going the whole regional without dropping a set and only losing one game. While he was unable to complete the VGC 2017 regional hat trick at San Jose a few months ago, he’s certainly a force to be reckoned with as he looks to reclaim his title.

Established Players

Grant Weldon

We have a much anticipated comeback on our hands! 2016 US Nationals semifinalist Grant Weldon will be competing at his first event since North American Internationals last year, having taken some time off to focus on college. As this regional coincides with his spring break, he’ll be taking advantage of the timing to try to prove himself in the new format. While he may lack recent tournament finishes, he has posted consecutive wins in NPA against difficult opponents, defeating Sam Pandelis in week 7 and Case Bongirne in week 8.

Patrick Smith

Saying that Smith is no stranger to top cut would be a massive understatement. Over the past few years, he has amassed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th place regional finishes, the most recent of which was his 6th place finish, taking place at San Jose in November. Smith is also known for kicking off the 2018 format with the first notable success for the now iconic Metagross / Tapu Fini / Zapdos / Landorus / Amoonguss / Tyranitar team, winning a midseason with it on New Year’s Day. He’ll look to continue his domination of western regionals in the new format. He can also secure his Day 1 Worlds invite for 2018 with a top 4 finish or better.

Mitchell Davies

Fresh off top cuts at San Jose and Dallas regionals, Davies will look to continue his winning ways at Costa Mesa. He currently sits very close to his worlds invite, needing at least a top 16 finish to earn it at this regional. With his penchant for finishing top 4 at regionals (he’s done it 4 times), that seems like a near certainty. Maybe he can use any prize money to fly back to the Mexican restaurant we all ate at after Dallas regionals and get more bean dip.

Alberto Lara

What else is there to be said about Lara? He’s been in every one of these previews thus far, and for good reason. He still retains his spot atop the North American CP standings where he has spent much of the season, just barely hanging on to it in recent weeks by matching strong finishes from Carson Confer and Ashton Cox at Oceania internationals with one of his own, finishing top 8. With neither Confer nor Cox attending this regional, this is an excellent opportunity for Lara to pull ahead, as he currently only holds a 12 CP lead on Confer and a 99 CP lead on Cox.

Riley Factura

After an outstanding season last year which saw him finish in the North American top 8 for a Day 2 Worlds invite, Factura has had a relatively quiet season thus far. He has amassed half the CP necessary for an invite primarily off a top 8 finish at Vancouver regionals in the fall. He’s no stranger to regional titles either, having won Arizona regionals in the fall of 2016 to kick off his day 2 season. While he might be out of the day 2 race this year, Factura will be looking to make his mark on the new format and claim another title.

Emilio Forbes

Forbes has historically performed well at this regionals northern counterpart in San Jose, placing top 4 in 2015 and 2nd in November 2017 at the start of this CP season. He also made day 2 of North American Internationals last year, running 0-2 to 7-2 on day 1. While his previous finishes at Southern California Regionals aren’t anywhere near as impressive as his finishes at Northern California Regionals, that can change any year, and Forbes will be trying to make it so this weekend.

Giovanni Costa

The man, the myth, the legend. Noted Eevee and Gengar-Whimsicott enthusiast and one of VGC’s most talented content creators. Perhaps you’re familiar with his stream or his amazing new series where he spotlights individual players, or perhaps the most hype stream match in Pokémon history. Or, maybe you’ve played him at an event and seen that he’s also a formidable player, with a Worlds top 16 and a few regional top cuts to his name. No matter what it is, there’s no way to deny the fact that he’s one of the best the West Coast has to offer. Like Davies, Costa also sits quite close to a worlds invite, however, he needs top 8 (or top 16 and top 8 at the midseason the next day) to earn his.

Gary Qian

Qian is well-known for his… let’s call them unconventional team choices. Some of his biggest hits include cutting Vancouver regionals last fall with Alolan Exeggutor, placing top 8 at San Jose regionals at the beginning of the 2017 format with Stockpile Fissure Gastrodon and Curse Mimikyu, and bringing Mega Sableye and Zebstrika to Day 2 of 2016 Worlds. Sometimes his teams go horribly awry though, and when they do he’s nowhere near as formidable as he is when they work out. So the question is as it is before every event: will Qian hit or miss in the teambuilder?


Ben Omnes-Norton

The first year master boasts an impressive resume from his time in the seniors division, including two regional championships, two Day 2 Worlds runs, and a top 16 finish at 2016 US Nationals which he subsequently topped with a top 8 finish at 2017 North American Internationals. Omnes-Norton has done well as a master thus far, consistently performing well at local midseasons against strong competition (recently placing 2nd at one, losing to Vancouver regional champion River Davis in finals), and going 6-3 at one of the most stacked regionals in recent memory at Dallas in January. While these are undeniably good results, it’s nowhere near what he was able to do in seniors yet. Omnes-Norton will be looking to change that this weekend (if he ends up going, he was originally a confirmed yes that became uncertain as this was being written).

Smart Money

Raghav Malaviya

Malaviya claims he’s cursed. He bubbled cut at both of the San Jose regionals in VGC 2017, placing 17th at his first masters regional and 9th this season. He’s made it into top 4 twice over the past year, yet never managed to break through to finals. He also missed day 2 of North American Internationals (and thus his 2017 worlds invite) due to many issues, the most notable being that his 3DS was causing disconnects. What better way to break a curse than with another curse? Jokes aside, Malaviya has performed consistently well since aging up into the masters division, and is hungry for a big finish to propel him towards a worlds invite.

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