Recently, an article ran over at The Meta discussing players to watch for at Worlds. While it does cover some of the favorites to win the tournament, length-concerns bumped some people from the list. Not wanting to shortchange anyone, here’s the rest of the list plus a few extras.
Markus Stadter (@13Yoshi37) — Germany
Despite choosing to forego competing in all European Nationals to help the commentary team, Markus Stadter is as much of a threat as anyone previously mentioned on the list. Stadter did manage to win both the Stockholm regional and a highly competitive, player-organized “win-a-trip” challenge. On top of that, he’s also a two-times national champion. He does face a harder road than others since he didn’t get enough championship points to skip the first day of competition, but he also has analyzed almost every big player in Europe through commentating. That definitely counts for something.
William Tansley (@StarKO90) — UK
Though he’s not yet a house-hold names among the VGC community, William Tansley seems to be ascending to his rightful place as one of the best European players. Anyone who knows him or has played him seems to remark on his knowledge of the game, and he’s had a fantastic 2016 season. With a top four performance at UK Nationals and a win at the Dublin Regional, Tansley ended up fourth in Europe in championship points. He’s also credited as one of the first players to successfully flow-chart out the metagame, giving him a plan for almost any situation.
Paul Chua (@Blue_Penguin_)
A long time player, Paul Chua has made an impact across multiple divisions. As a senior, he reached the finals of the 2012 US Nationals. The following year, he managed to repeat the feat, actually win and then get top-eight at Worlds. 2015 was his first year as a master, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. He made day two of US Nationals and bubbled out of top-cut at 10th place. That same year, he made it through the day one gauntlet and competed with the best of the best on day two. This year has been no less stellar for him, with two regional wins and another second place finish. He’s been such a consistent player, and while he didn’t get the Nats finish he wanted, he’ll be hungry for first place going into Worlds.
Conan Thompson (@Conanyk)
As an honorary Japanese player, Conan Thompson has an inside line to what some view as the most competitive region in the world. He often brings that wisdom back across the Pacific, using it to skirt the edges of complete success. While he hasn’t won a major event this year, he top-cut two regionals and made it into the top 16 of US Nationals. Despite that, his exact team was used to win the tournament, which has to count for something. But above all else, this is a young player whose time to shine is fast approaching. While he is already a well-known name in the states, this might be the year he makes a major impact on the game.
I guess you could call these sleepers?
Calling any competitor a “sleeper” feels a little disingenuous, simply because VGC is such a volatile game. Anyone can do well, even if previously successful players tend to look more likely to win . Regardless of how you want to describe their chances of winning, these breakout players from the US are worth mentioning.
Aaron Traylor (@NBUnreality)
Anyone who makes it to the finals of a National is capable of showing up at Worlds. Getting that far in a tournament of that size isn’t a fluke. What’s more, Aaron Traylor’s breakout performance was a long time coming. He’s a long-time player who many have regarded as highly skilled for some time. And anyone who didn’t think so only has to watch his matches throughout Nationals to see for themselves. Traylor demonstrated a high level of VGC understanding, and his decision to bring Cresselia and Bronzong was a savvy meta-call that let him bring the support-mon that suited his needs. All he needs to do is maintain his momentum and make one last good team decision.
Grant Weldon (@VelocityVGC)
For the sake of being upfront, Grant Weldon is a staff writer here at the Saffron City Post. That being said, few people could cry bias in our endorsement of his abilities. He piloted a dual primal team to the top-four of US Nationals, earning his first major finish with an archetype many consider “inferior” to Xerneas and Primal Groudon. And while his weather management was obviously enough to carry him deep into the tournament, it might have been his unique Bronzong set that best showed off his ability to innovate. It may have seemed like a minor tech, but doubters can check the scoreboard.
Gary Qian (@ZygardeAwaken)
Gary Qian may be one of the most daring (and high-performing) team-builders no one had heard of before US Nationals. Despite top-cutting the Oregon regional with a Porygon Z, it was his combination of Mewtwo and Mega Venusaur that made a real splash at Nats. He used it expertly, exploiting Chlorophyll and putting opponents to sleep with Groudon’s sun and Sleep Powder. Then, he’d mega-evolve to tank hits from both primals and whittle them down with leech seed. Meanwhile, the Mewtwo could wreak havoc from behind a substitute with Ice Beam and Psystrike. In a season full of mostly-similar teams, Qian’s team was a breath of fresh air. The only question is whether he can innovate another successful team for Worlds.
Chuppa Cross IV (@ChuppaVGC)
Despite not winning any official major events, Chuppa Cross IV actually had very impressive season. He top-cut three regionals (more than any other US player) and won the biggest unofficial VGC tournament — the Nugget Bridge Major. He may not have had a notable finish at US Nationals, but that seems to be more of a fluke than an indicator of future success. After building a solid foundation in the past years, he is quickly becoming one of the scene’s most consistent players. If he does manage to do well at Worlds, he’ll likely cement his high standing.