2018 North American International Championship Preview

Written by Nicholas Borghi, Jeremy Gross and Stephen Mea

IC Difficulty Rating


(5 Braviary out of 5)

This is the last event of the season. This is crunch time. Those players who want to earn an invite to the 2018 World Championship will need to do well here. Not to mention all the astounding international talent flying in to try their hand

Highlight Players

Eduardo Cunha

2016 worlds semifinalist and Mudsdale enthusiast Cunha has climbed the European CP standings with an absolutely absurd midseason record (5 wins and a top 4) and a 2nd place finish at the Bilbao special event. What has propelled him all the way to the number 8 spot, however, is his internationals record. Cunha has attended all 3 internationals of this cycle and has not finished below top 32. This puts him as a safe bet going into the tournament as he has, as already stated, guaranteed himself CP at every other International before this one. While his spot in the Top 8 of EU CP seems secure, Eduardo will not want to sit this one out, so he can try to shut out the invading Barry Anderson from the Top 8.

Jamie Boyt

Fan-favorite Boyt will be coming to the grand ol’ US of A to compete in the International Championship. Jamie being a fan-favorite ties largely to his success with interesting Pokemon and concepts. This season alone he has won a regional with Serperior. Jamie also seems to have an affinity for Grass Type Pokemon, as he won yet another regional with  Cottonee back in 2016. Having never done overly well at a International Championship, Jamie will be looking to break this trend and bounce back from his 4-4 finish at Sheffield a few weeks ago.

Chelsea Tan

Tan is a Singaporean player who has dominated the APAC CP standings since early in the season. She is a two time special event champion and performs consistently well at her local events. While her previous international finishes have been just short of CP, Columbus is a much wider field and is the prime time for Chelsea to make her first big National level statement. She will be going into this tournament with the goal of securing her Top 8 slot, ahead of any unexpected invaders. 

Rene Alverenga

Alverenga is the current masters cp leader coming into Columbus. His unprecedented consistency at Latin American Special Events including three wins has allowed him to build a lead on Yuree. Not only has he dominated in his home region, Rene also touts a top 4 finish at San Jose regionals, top 16 in Sao Paulo, and a day 2 finish at 2016 US Nationals. Rene will be facing big expectations this weekend and we will be looking forward to the results of his continued attendance of the US National event.

Jeremy Rodrigues

Rodrigues is a player described as strange, which goes to show that creative players tend to do well. Having moved out to Ohio this year to attend college, Jeremy was able to put more focus on VGC, while still performing well in school. He has multiple regional cuts, and a win under his belt this season. He has an affinity for Eevee and Assault Vest Heatran, and refuses to own a phone. He tends to pull a Wesley Snipes approach, where every few days he pokes his head out of his textbook to make a meme on twitter, then quickly dives back in. He will be attending Nationals this year to mess around and maybe try to earn some money. Jeremy is not taking this event too seriously, but expects to perform well given how the rest of his season has been going. In all reality, Jeremy is just biding his time until Worlds, where he can make his stand.

Alberto Lara

Mr “What is a local”. Lara’s season has been nothing short of outstanding. Beginning with a 2nd place performance at the Anaheim Open, the California native has never dropped from top 3 in NA CP standings. He followed that up with a top 8 at Ft. Wayne, a win at Hartford regionals, a second place at Daytona, and top 8 at Portland. Alberto is the only player to have made the second day of all three internationals, with a Day 2 in London, Top 8 in Sydney, and a finals appearance in São Paulo. After his masterful run in Brazil, we await to see if he can match Markus Statder’s 2017 season and manage to reach Day 2 at all 4 internationals.  

Brady Smith

Smith is a player who has been on a bit of a down-trend as of late. He went 6-2 at the Latin American International Championship, which was his most notable accomplishment ever since the format switch. With a regional title from Memphis under his belt, Brady is currently in 6th place in CP, and while it’s unlikely, it is possible for him to miss the Day 2 Invite. Brady Smith will have to overcome his low-streak to show up to clinch his Day 2 invite.

Paul Chua

Chua is the runner-up of this competition from last year, so it would be extremely strange to not talk about him. Paul this season has decided to put on a bit of a show for those of us rooting for him. He started off most regionals this season doing extremely poorly, having 0 CP from Regionals and all his CP from the London International and MSS’. However, he did earn a Worlds invite through these finishes. It wasn’t until Roanoke where he finally finished with an X-2 Record, and then the very next weekend he would go on to win the Madison Regional. Now in the race for a Day 2 Worlds Invite, Paul Chua is a player to keep a close eye on going into the North American International Championship.

Randy Kwa

Kwa is arguably the greatest Canadian VGC player of all time and is looking for yet another invite to the world championships through a finish at Columbus this year. With numerous accomplishments under his belt including 3 regional wins at Vancouver 2012, Oregon 2013, and Seattle 2016 and a 10th place finish at the 2013 world championships, the world better be scared of Mr. Kwa. This season he has seen consistency at locals and solid regional performances that prove he is still a potent threat to any player.

Ian McLaughlin

McLaughlin is perhaps the second best player to come from the 2015 seniors class. In his relatively short time in masters, he has amassed two regional wins at Kansas 2016 and Fall Florida 2016. Pair this alongside his top 8 finish at 2017 Latin American Internationals, Ian becomes a world threat. After not playing most of the season, he came back and placed 9th at Mexico City Regionals. With his invite hanging in the balance of a top 8 finish, Ian will be looking to show everyone he is still one of the world’s elite.

Corey Esmeier

Now here is a fun player to talk about, at least for us. The Ohio native has shown to have an extremely tough season, having many ups and downs. As of late, Esmeier has been on an uptrend going into Nationals. Getting first and second at his two recent MSS’, as well as a 5-2 finish at Madison Regionals. Funny story about these past two MSS’, Going in Corey needed to win both of them in order to replace his prior finishes and to bring him up to just over 400 CP. The second MSS however, he finished second, and the winner, Alex Collins, earned his own Worlds Invite. Sitting at 392 CP, Esmeier and his very impressive beard will be looking to scrounge up the remaining points for his Worlds Invite.

Emilio Forbes

Forbes is a seldom discussed Northern California player who has earned his first masters worlds invite. The two time seniors regional champion is gunning for another big internationals performance after finishing Top 16 in 2017. Despite dedicating a lot of his time to school and DOU, he touts two strong finishes at NorCal regionals, placing 4th in 2015 and 2nd in 2017. Tie that together with his Top 8 at the Anaheim Open and consistent high placements in online tournaments, Emilio is one of the big names to watch.

Chase Lybbert

The buff Arizona native is looking to regain his strengthening grip on the US National event. Lybbert is another accomplished regionals player with two wins of his own at Arizona 2014 and NorCal 2015. His main claim to fame is winning 2016 US Nationals and earning a day 2 invite to the world championships. While he has cooled down on events the past few years, expect to see Chase’s name near the top tables once again.

Wolfe Glick

Glick has had a very interesting season by his standards. As arguably the most decorated vgc player of all time, Wolfe has shown us greatness once again this season, securing his invite to the world championships once again through consistent regionals finishes including his unprecedented 6th win in Charlotte. Despite being a two time winner of US nationals and a top 8 in 2015, the last two US National events have not gone in Wolfe’s favor. Glick has stated that he is excited for this national because it has no bearing on if he can earn a Day 2 Worlds Invite or not, meaning he’ll get to have fun anyway without the added stress. Everyone is looking forward to see if Wolfe can break his streak and perhaps take his 3rd US Nationals title.

Smart Money

James Baek

Baek has shown to be an extremely consistent player throughout the years. He has always been a top contender amongst his friends and locals, but never quite had the national credibility many people think he deserved, until recently that is. With a Regional Win, a Regional Top 4 (both in 2018) and a Regional Top 8 back in Daytona in 2017, James has shown himself to be an easy smart money to do well. He currently has 710 CP, having come off an MSS 2nd place in New York.

Let’s switch gears for a quick second and talk about the Day 2 Race. Mathematically speaking, there are 21 players outside of top 8 that could theoretically have a day 2 invite at the end of the weekend. Every player below 460 CP has been eliminated. The race for the 6th, 7th and 8th spots realistically boils down to 7 players: Brady Smith, Justin Crubaugh and Alex Underhill (who currently hold the spots), Nick Navarre, Brian Youm, Paul Chua, and James Baek. Smith, Crubaugh and Underhill are by no means safe in their current spots, with both Navarre and Youm within 150 CP of the 8 spot.

Now back to our main Topic at hand, Baek has been focusing on Pokemon an extreme amount compared to his previous years. Towards the end of his freshman year of college, he switched on his Pokemon game and began tearing it up. With his consistency and in general just being amazing at the game, no one could find this to be a strange Smart Money pick.

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