Anaheim Regionals is just a few days away, and so far more than 200 players have registered. The West Coast has a lot of regionals between Arizona, San Jose, Oregon, Seattle and Utah, but Anaheim tends to be the biggest. But among those players, a handful stand out as favourites to make top-cut. Trying to predict who will win the whole thing is a crapshoot, but this information might help your predictions.
Some Recognisable Faces
Out of everyone on this list, this one-time-weatherman has the hottest hands. Since commentating for the Pokémon Company International at the tail end of 2016, Zheng has been working himself back into fighting form. While he narrowly missed day two of the European International Championships, he returned to top-cut in San Jose. While he lost in top eight, it was a sign of progress. Finally, Zheng fought his way through a gauntlet of some of the world’s best players to take the coveted prize of Sam Pandelis’ Melbourne Win-a-Trip-Challenge. Granted, Zheng can’t already look ahead to the Australian International Championship. There are plenty of others hungry for the win in Anaheim.
The San Jose Regional champion would surely appreciate completing a sweep of California this weekend. He’s got years of experience to draw on and a talented group of friends to team-build with. The real question here is whether or not he can make as good of a meta-call as his hard Trick Room team from earlier in the season. If so, there’s not a lot that can stop Michaels’ clever play from carrying him at least into top-cut.
Things went pretty well for Enosh Shachar the last time he was in California. He was the first to demonstrate Tapu Fini’s value in this format and only lost in a close three-game final set to Gavin Michaels. His last outing didn’t go quite as well, but he maintained the same creative flair that led him to success before. According to Twitter, though, he isn’t quite so sure about what to bring. Will he find something in time? Will he win his first event? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
Do you believe in Eevee? Giovanni Costa still does, and a solid performance in Anaheim would help bring the rest of the community around. The one disadvantage Costa faces is that anyone sitting across from him knows almost exactly what to expect. Still, he’s continued to iterate on the Eevee archetype and will likely have made some new changes since Poke-bank was released. Regardless, it’ll be interesting for the team’s fans to see how it fares.
The Cast of Top Competitors
At the time of writing, Ian McLaughlin has the second most CP in the US. He’s also had an amazing streak of regionals so far, with a top 16 in Arizona, a victory in Florida, a top 32 in Philadelphia and top four in Athens. The rub is that three of those four finishes took place before the format change. After proving himself in Athens, though, odds are he’s still one of the best players at the event.
Alberto Lara Jr.
While he hasn’t won a regional in some time, Albero Lara Jr. sure does make top cut often. He’s notched 10 appearances in just under three years, which is no small accomplishment. To top it off, Lara has been making the rounds in 2017, giving him a deep well of live-competition experience specific to this format. His teams have been fairly creative too, with Politoed and Vikavolt carrying him to 9th place in Dallas. If he can keep innovating, there’s no doubt he can make Anaheim top-cut number 11.
Much like Lara, Riley Factura has been a powerful force on the west coast during the past couple of years. He managed to win two regionals in 2016 (Utah before Worlds and Arizona after), plus another the year before. He hasn’t found the same success since the 2017 format started, but it’s usually just a matter of time for Factura.
Kimo Nishimura really deserves a regional win. He’s playing well this season, has been on his VGC grind for years and is hungry for it. He top cut Dallas with a scarfed Tapu Koko and Pheromosa combo, proving he can team-build outside of the box. Nishimura is also incredibly familiar with the players in the region, and he has a lot of experience playing against his local Californians. Plus he’s hilarious. That has to count for something, right?
With a limited ability to travel, Tom has only been able to attend San Jose so far this year. To make matters worse, he finished 33rd. Still, he won Seattle regionals and made it to the finals of Utah last season, so the potential is there. The prevailing theory is that Kimo took back all the Nishimura talent that Tom stole last year.
Since winning Arizona Regionals in 2015, Patrick Smith has become a household name in the VGC community. He’s pulled off impressive finishes on a consistent basis, and this season has been no different. Smith almost defended his title before the 2017 rules were released, but he also top cut the last regional he played in. It’s also easy to root for him since he’s made his position on screen-peeking very clear.
Another invader from the north, Mitchell Davies has a hat-trick of top-4s to his name from Seattle and Utah in 2016 and San Jose just a couple months ago. For the latter, he top-cut using Tommy Cooleen’s 7th place rain team from the European International Championships. According to Twitter, it seems like he’s currently faced with a dilemma about which of five teams to bring to the tournament. That speaks volumes about his confidence, feeling comfortable with so many different teams so soon before the event. Since he is fueled by ketchup, though, a lot will come down to how much of the condiment he has on hand.
The only former world champion at the event (seniors in 2011), Kamz managed to top-cut Dallas using Enosh Shachar’s team. For Anaheim, he’s planning to bring his own team, which he promised will be “spicy.” With more time logged playing VGC than many people playing today complementing a solid team, he’s easily capable of top-cutting. Of course, the only certainty about Kamz is that he’ll be disappointed with this entry after hyping it up to him all day yesterday.
The “team Smogon” representative on the list, Rajan Bal is invading from the east coast to try and take the title himself. His finishes have been solid since he made his first big showing at US Nationals last season, where he made top cut. Bal followed that up with by making day-two of the Worlds Championship and most recently top-cut Athens Regionals. He’s a smart player with an extremely talented group of friends to team-build with. However, like Shachar, it seems as if he may have come up with his team last minute.
When players sit down across from Gary Qian, they can never really know what to expect. He delighted viewers during last year’s US National Championship with the rarely seen Mewtwo and Mega Venusaur. He’s also already top-cut an event this year, making it to fifth place in San Jose with Z-Curse Mimikyu. It’s hard to predict how well he’ll do considering how unique his teams are, but history is on his side. If he once again brings something no one expects, there’s no reason he can’t top-cut
A lot of newer players won’t recognise this name, but every veteran will. Huy is one of the most experienced players on the West Coast and racked up quite the list of accomplishments back in the day. He won the Northern California regionals in 2009 and then got top eight at worlds in back-to-back years. He’s been quiet in the past couple of years, but he bubbled Dallas. If that’s a sign he’s getting back into his old form, players will need to watch out.
Who is your pick for the favourite? Don’t forget to catch the stream here, beginning on Saturday the 18th of February at around 5pm GMT and continuing again on Sunday when the champion will be crowned.