With the end of this season on the horizon, The Pokémon Company International has released a great deal of information on how players will qualify for the World Championships in 2018. While much has stayed similar to last year, a great deal has changed as well.
Championship Point Bar and Event Structure
After the bar was raised significantly between the 2016 and 2017 season, the magic number has dipped back down. Players in the US, Canada and Europe saw their bar reduced by 100 points, down to 400 and 300 respectively. Meanwhile, Oceania and Latin America still need the same amount of point as last year. Players in South Africa also still need 200 points.
As for how players will get those points, the payouts for various events has changed in several ways in comparison to 2017. Starting with Internationals, the number of points awarded has increased slightly for all those outside of the finals. That increase does get more drastic the farther down the standings players go, too, and kickers have been reduced drastically. Based on the number of attendees this season, it is now very likely that most International Championships will pay out CP to the top 128. The best-finish limit for these events remains unchanged at four.
When it comes to regionals, the most contentious change is that there is no longer a best-finish limit. Now, if a player can afford the travel, they can compete in every regional and earn points that contribute to their invite. The payout has remained largely the same, with a few bumps at certain finishes (+10 to 3rd, 4th and 17th-32nd and +20 to everything between 33rd and 256th). The kickers, however, are now more forgiving. As it stands, there shouldn’t be any players who go x-2 without receiving CP.
Midseason Showdowns have had their CP payout reduced slightly, but it is still very similar to last season. The real change comes in the BFL for this tier of events, which now follows the same structure as Premier Challenges. With the ability to compete in two Midseasons during each of the four PC seasons, players will have more opportunities to give their total CP a bump from local events. Those four seasons, for reference, are September 1st to October 31st, November 1st to January 31st of 2018, February 1st to April 30th and May 1st to June 30th.
Premier Challenges have also had their payouts reduced, but five points here and there likely won’t make too much of a difference in terms of the overall standings. The main difference between this season and the upcoming one is that players will now be able to obtain a good portion of points from high finishes at local events. Much will depend on how many events are run in their area, but the possibility exists.
Mo’ Money, Mo’ Mons
Of course, as was the case this season, there’s more than championship points on the line at major events in 2018. While the prizing for Internationals and Worlds has yet to be released, if it follows the same trend as regionals, players should expect more money at more rewarding kickers.
While first place still tops out at $3,000, 2017 regionals needed an absurd 500 players to give out that much money. Now there only needs to be 201+ players, which is easily achievable for many events. Every other place below first also gets almost twice the money they would have earned last year.
This change will also likely allow successful players to keep investing in their season, helping those who reach the top 16 pay for travel to the next regional. And with the removed best-finish limit, players could theoretically string together a chain of good finishes, allowing them to attend every event.
Shifting the Scene
As for where and when these events will be held, we thankfully already have the majority of the dates, locations and even the cut-off dates for travel awards. First, and arguably most importantly, Internationals will likely be in the same locations as last year. What has changed, however, are the dates. The European International, for example, is now on the same weekend as the release of Pokémon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon. This has led many to speculate that the event will use the VGC 2017 rules, though whether or not tutor moves from the new games will be usable has yet to be cleared up.
As for US regionals, the number has remained relatively similar to the 2017 season, but there are a handful of different venues. Staple locations, such as Philadelphia, Phoenix and Seattle have all lost their regionals to newcomers such as Charlotte, Memphis, and Richmond, British Columbia. This redistribution of events will likely have an effect on how many points each side of the country will have access to.
Europe, meanwhile, seems to currently have fewer events than last year and in an even smaller number of countries. The UK only has two regionals, one of which has already taken place, and Germany now has three. The only other regional currently scheduled will be back in Sweden, though the dates and locations are subject to change.
VGC Plus Ultra?
Currently, one of the most important missing pieces of information is both when the format’s ruleset will change and what it will change to. Players are speculating about many different variations of the current Battle Spot Doubles format, and some are even wondering whether we’ll have another season of 2017. But until the rules document is updated closer to the release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, we’ll just have to wait and see.