Written by Jeremy Gross and Nicholas Borghi
(4 Komala sleeping on LATAM out of 5)
The Komala may be sleeping on LATAM, but you probably shouldn’t. Their player pool continues to grow stronger with each passing season. Whether it’s enough for them to successfully defend their international, or if it will fall to invaders again remains to be seen.
Alessio Yuri Boschetto
If you’ve ever taken a quick look at his Twitter account, you’ve probably been inundated with cat pictures. He has shown quite the affection for beanies as well, often stealing them from friends. Yuree or Alessio, whichever you choose to call him, is a part-time student majoring in linguistics. In recent weeks he’s shown himself to be an avid basketball fan, following the Cleveland Cavaliers through the playoffs. This has messed up his sleep schedule considerably as the Cavs play in a vastly different time zone, but perhaps this can serve to his advantage as he might not feel the jet lag as hard as other European players.
Boschetto is arguably the best player in the world right now, and for good reason. His record at multinational tournaments is truly impressive. He finished top 16 at the 2017 World Championships, and has also finished top 16 or better at EVERY International Championship held thus far. Seriously. Londons, Melbourne, Sao Paulo last year, Indianapolis, and most notably Sydney, where he finally broke through and won the whole event. Merely maintaining the status quo of international finishes would result in another impressive finish, but he is surely looking to break through again and become the first repeat masters VGC international champion.
Cox has had a weirder history in the Pokémon circuit, but it has undoubtedly changed his life. One of the things Ashton is most known for is his partner in crime since childhood, David Mancuso. These two began doing Pokémon together for fun, and while David has largely moved VGC to the backburner, Ashton is still going strong. However, Ashton plays other video games too, such as Splatoon. He and the rest of Team Ohio play regularly and are always trying to improve for an escape from the seriousness of Pokémon.
Cox is looking to defend his title at this International, as the power of Sleep Powder and Snorlax propelled him to the title last year. He came very close to becoming the first repeat International Champion at Sydney, but was eliminated in top 4 by Rock Slide. He has continued to use pretty much the same team since then, simply stating “I’ll stop using it when it stops working”. Clearly, it hasn’t as during that time Cox has taken 2nd place at both Collinsville and Charlotte Regionals.
Agati made his International debut at this tournament last year, and will be returning once again to try and improve his performance. Agati does not only use Pokémon as his source for a competitive drive, however. He has shown to be a very avid soccer (or football if you are insufficiently freedomized) fan and player. He is, as most Pokémon players are, a current university student, and as such chooses to not attend many events.
Calling Agati’s International debut impressive would be an understatement. He finished top 4 at last year’s Sao Paulo International. While he was not quite able to defend his homeland from the invaders last year, this year he wants to finish the job. Will he be able to do it?
Alvarenga is never working alone when he takes on tournaments. He always has his best friend, Totodilo (a Totodile plush) with him every step of the way. He also takes his journeys with more sentient friends, most notably Sandy Martinez and all the friends he made while manager of the NPA 7 iteration of the Sootopolis Sea Dogs. Rene is currently a psychology student in college, maybe that’s what helps him with his Pokémon skills?
He came out with a bang back in 2016, having made Day 2 of the United States National Championships, and has only been on an uptrend from there. In his first major International performance, Alvarenga took the world by storm, finishing top 8 at the 2017 World Championships. Since then, a string of strong finishes at special events and locals has kept him atop the Latin American CP standings.
According to many of his locals, most notably Sebastian Escalante, Turano is currently the best player in Latin America. Having graduated from college already, he is able to devote more to the game than he might otherwise be able to were he still a student. Recently, he took up managing one of the NPA 7 expansion teams, the Aether Symbionts (who yours truly played for).
Turano’s domination of the frequent special events in and around his home country of Argentina has earned him the second place spot in the Latin American standings, a mere 13 CP behind Alvarenga. The race for 1st in Latin America has been razor-close all season. Will we finally see someone pull ahead at this event?
Amedee has been given the very affectionate nickname of “JohnCenaVGC”, very clearly due to his very large muscles. He could probably beat most of the community in a fist fight, and undoubtedly win if a VGC match has to be decided in an arm wrestling contest. Much like Nick Navarre, he has a very good relationship with the younger players from his region. As such, he often gets to go to many different events with them as their legal guardian.
Amedee was thrust into the International spotlight in the last round of Swiss at Sydney, where his innovative hyper offensive team drew a lot of eyeballs. While he barely missed out on top cut, he did secure himself a large amount of CP, currently leaving him 100 CP out of a top 8 spot in Oceania. In addition, he and his brother, Brain, have a combined 6 Regional top cuts, with either one or both of them making top cut at every Regional they attend. With the current holder of that 8 spot, Chris Kan, not attending this tournament, Amedee will be looking to claim it for himself with another strong finish.
Keh is known as the quiet type, he’s not very social with people outside of his established friend group. He has chosen to surround himself with good players however so that he has a very good circle of people to help him practice and perform well.
The Singapore native currently holds the top spot in the APAC CP standings. Even without an amazing finish at Sydney, 1st, 2nd, and 2 top 16 place finishes at Special Events, as well as 2 Midseason titles have kept him atop the standings. His biggest challenger for that spot is currently Chelsea Tan, who has also reached the top of the standings via Special Event results. Keh will be looking to increase his lead in Brazil.
Anyone who has ever met Navarre knows how he is a beast to be reckoned with. He is part of the very large and very powerful “Smogon Crew”, which includes other notably strong players such as Rajan Bal, Alvin Hidayat, Gavin Michaels and Case Bongirne. He also hangs out in other circles, mainly when it comes to talking about or playing League of Legends, or the Trading Card Game. He has also served as a role model for many of the current seniors division players, to the point where they bought him an adorable Chansey plush to congratulate him on his top 8 performance at last years NAIC.
Navarre’s VGC resume is impressive, to say the very least. He has a Regional title, 4 Regional top 4s, a Regional top 8, and 2 International top 8s under his belt, all within the past year and a half. All of that amounted to him being the 2017 North American CP leader. This season has been slightly quieter, but through consistently good finishes at Midseasons and International Challenges, along with his two Regional cuts this season, he is still managing to hang on to a top 8 spot in North America.
Cunha is due for a big finish. Call it intuition or whatever you want, but my sense is it’s happening in Sao Paulo and my first choices for smart money have been pretty spot on recently. Anyway, Cunha (or Edu as he is more commonly known) is one of the friendliest members of this community, and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting him, you know he’s even nicer in person than online. His presence on VGC twitter is hard to miss, and he owns the best all-time record in NPA history.
Tournament-wise, he is perhaps best known for his top 4 finish at the 2016 World Championships, taking the Groudon Xerneas core farther than anyone else. He also owns day 2 finishes at both London Internationals, as well as 1st and 2nd place finishes at Special Events in Spain last format. He’s due for something this format, and if Europe is to continue its international winning streak, it will be by his hand.