With the draft of a brand new season of the National Pokémon Association behind us, power rankings and tier lists are abound! NPA power rankings may frequently be proven wrong, but they’re nevertheless an entertaining activity for players to participate in. In this power ranking, I’ve aimed to judge teams as impartially as possible, while also reaching out to other players for their input. Factors taken into consideration when ranking a team include:
Please note that this power ranking is just for fun. Nobody can predict the future! If your team is ranked high, use that to bolster your confidence. If your team is ranked low, let that motivate you to prove me wrong.
Below follows an in-depth draft analysis for each team in NPA 9.
The semi-finalists of NPA 8 are back with a very solid-looking team, led by managers Platypus (David Mizrahi), DaWoblefet (Leonard “Trey” Craft III), and Dawg (Luke Curtale). The managers are all strong players in their own right, and each being from a different region (one European, one American, and one Australian) already provides them with a potential advantage in terms of information gathering and team activity. Coupled with David’s passion for the Puppies and Trey’s unmatched game mechanics knowledge, the managers are certain to steer their team in the right direction.
The Puppies chose to retain French player RadiumH3 (Alexandre Lissardy, 8-2 in NPA 8) and Polish player Naociak (Bartosz Ekiert, 8-2 in NPA 8)—they’re quite the steal given their past NPA records at a price of 13k each, and that’s not even going into their live tournament accomplishments. Further rounding out the roster are high-value players such as Australian ChosenFuture (James Katsaros, Regional Champion and multiple-time finalist, ‘19 Oceania IC top 4, and a D2 Worlds player), as well as two players coming back to VGC after a break in German Feis (Faaiz Ashfaq, multiple D2 Nats) and Japan-born American JumpluffTCG (Kazuki Kanehira, 2x Regs top cuts).
The New Bark Loud Puppies’ mid-value picks should also put on a good show: returning Puppies Baked (Fabian Braun, 2x D2 Internats) and NamukoPro (Alec Rubin, long-time VGC player whose accomplishments include T32 at Worlds ‘15 and multiple Regs cuts) are joined here by a new addition in Winmor (Mark Elson, with consistent T16 showings at Regionals). Notable players among their low-value picks include YourfVGC (Saamid Zikria, who cut Aus Nats back to back in ‘14-15) and mgmfa (Aditya Subramanian, whose accomplishments include a Regs cut and strong locals showings).
The Puppies’ draft is cohesive and meticulously thought-out; nobody feels out of place. Going for solid, yet overlooked, players from a variety of regions should grant them an advantage over teams who choose to focus primarily on one region and shows the managers did their homework. Since 5 of their drafted players are returning Puppies who already know each other well, the team should lend itself perfectly to a familiar and friendly atmosphere. They’re certain to have a strong showing in NPA 9. Bark bark!
The Rollouts are led by American managers and long-time VGC players Cable (Caleb Ryor) and TheBattleRoom (Collin Heier), and are back with a vengeance after missing out on playoffs last year. While Caleb has managed the team for several years, Collin is new to the management position. As a two-time Regional Champion, he should have plenty of good advice to offer his team.
The Rollout’s retain pick of Spanish player Riopaser (Eric Rios, 6-2 in NPA 8) is one of their two returning players for NPA 9—but he’s an undeniably fantastic choice with a long list of accomplishments, which includes 2 Worlds top cuts, making semi-finals at Internats, and winning a Special Event. He’s far from the only star player on the team: also joining the roster are Italian player Pado (Flavio del Pidio, ‘19 European IC Champion with a myriad of Regs cuts) and two strong German picks in Viper (Serkan Tas, with multiple Internats D2s and Regionals top cuts) and Knappi (Lukas Müller, a multiple-time Worlds competitor with several Regs cuts).
These 4 players alone may have been enough to nab the Rollouts some key wins, but their mid-value picks shouldn’t be underestimated. Players such as ProfShroomish (Zach Carlson, founder of VGCStats and able to perform consistently well at Regionals), Terry (Terry Hong, 2x Regs cuts), Yihui (Yihui Xu, who has a Regs cut, consistently decent majors performances, and a valuable connection to the Chinese community), and Lucalucario (Luca Lussignoli, an Open Champion who also has a plethora of Regs cuts and Worlds D2 under his belt) have plenty of potential.
The Rollouts’ main weakness may lie in their late-draft low-value picks, which one could argue were a bit questionable given the pool of available players. On the whole, their draft is surprisingly Europe-centric—however, Caleb and Collin’s willingness to draft players from outside their own region is a promising sign. The strength of the Rollouts’ high and mid-value choices put them in a good position to take home the trophy.
“Wham, bam, they are the hams!” Led by American players Nowakgolf (Andrew Nowak) and David Mancuso, in addition to Portuguese EmbC (Eduardo Cunha), the managers alone promise a team with a lot of potential. Taken together, their accomplishments include Worlds cuts for both Edu and Andrew, an International Champion in Edu, Regional Champions in Andrew and David, and plenty more. This is, undoubtedly, a trio of managers with much to offer their team.
The Hams chose to retain Snow (Tomoyuki Yoshimura, ‘17 Worlds T4), and it’s easy to see why—as one of few players in the draft who participates in the Japanese circuit, his insight into the Japanese scene could prove invaluable, and a top 4 result at Worlds is nothing to sneer at. Their second retain was Ceree (Luca Ceribelli, 7-2 in NPA 8 and Turin Special Champion in ‘17). But they’re far from the only star players on the Hams roster: others include RedsilverVGC (Hippolyte Bernard, a recent Regional Champion who made D2 at ‘19 Worlds), Rene (Rene Alvarenga, who’s top cut Worlds and spent quite a lot of time exploring the VGC20 format by laddering to the top), and SudokuMasta (George Tifverman, 7-3 in NPA 8 with 2x Regs cuts).
The Hams have few truly mid-value picks; instead, it would be more accurate to call them mid-to-high-value. Players such as Eshi (Diana Bros, Regional Champion with multiple Regs cuts and a D2 at both Internats and Worlds), Duomark (Mark Duò, 14-4 record across NPA seasons with solid offline tournament showings such as T4 Italy Nats ‘16), 123e45 (Josh Mecham, T4 Dallas Regs ‘19), and Raider (Roberto Porretti, who made T8 at Worlds ‘18) all fit into this category, and many of these accomplishments are just as impressive as those of the team’s more expensive picks.
With so many solid players to field and two highly accomplished managers leading the team, the Hams show great promise. One point of concern is chat activity: Rene and Snow may not be able to interact much with the rest of the team, and with how important communication is in NPA, this could prove to be an issue. Regardless, with 4 returning Hams players from NPA 8, their atmosphere may just flourish despite this slight obstacle. If the Hams are willing to put in the work, they could be a serious contender for the top spot.
Led by Americans Tman (Tommy Cooleen), known for—among other things—cutting several ICs back to back with the infamous “Double Duck” archetype in ’17, and player-turned-manager MajorBowman (Jake Muller), a multiple-time Worlds invitee who recently ventured into commentary, the Malie City Monarchs are an NA-centric NPA team for fans of Pokémon and… pop music? With two very experienced managers at the helm, they’re sure to be a team to look out for. God save the Queen!
The Monarchs chose to retain Spurrific (Justin Burns, two-time Regional Champion and Internats finalist) and Emforbes (Emilio Forbes, Worlds ‘18 finalist). With their accomplishments and impressive NPA 8 records of 9-2 and 7-2, respectively, these retain picks should come as no surprise. Other high-value players on the Monarchs roster include C9LifeOrb (Joseph Costagliola, multiple Regs cuts), Pokebeys (Jake Skurchak, a returning player who got 9th at US Nats in his first year as a Master), Mao (Jackson Finch, who has both an Internats and Regs cut on his resume), and kswas (Kevin Swastek, who has multiple Regs cuts in addition to an North American IC T16 placing).
Curiously, the Monarchs lack any true mid-value picks, but their low-value draft choices are nevertheless stellar. These include players such as Teenspirit (Devon Singh, who recently made T16 at Dallas Regs) and returning Monarch Stratos (Keith Boone, who cut Knoxville Regs). Having gotten players such as these cheap, the team should have little issue fielding 8 players who can hold their own each week.
The Monarch’s roster is undeniably strong, but the heavy focus on North American players is a double-edged sword. While their players won’t have to worry about language barriers or major time zone differences as far as team activity goes (and, indeed, could find themselves forming friendships easier), they may end up lacking crucial information on metagames and players from other regions. That could very well prove to be the downfall of an otherwise strong team.
The Blizzards started as a team for players who were unable to make it into NPA proper in order to better prepare them for their next draft opportunity, before being upgraded to a real NPA team last year. They’re led by Americans Pd0nZ (Patrick Donegan) and Temple (Sam Temple), as well as Canadian JeanMarc (Jean-Marc Hebert). While this group of managers lacks the long list of accomplishments of those leading some of the other teams, they’ve nevertheless got plenty of passion and care for their team.
The Blizzards chose to retain only one player in Australian Chino (Alfredo Chang-Gonzalez), who won the European and North American Internats as a Senior and has been performing excellently as a first-year Master, grabbing an Open win and Regs cut. Their high-tier players are strong picks: JonoTv (Jonathan Marston, 8-2 in NPA 8 and with a multitude of Regs cuts) is the Blizzards’ returning star from last year, and is joined by fellow Brit AuraRayquaza (Taran Birdee, coming off of a cut in Bochum Regs and known for his strong online performances) and Belgian Tega (Aurélien Lefebvre, with a Regs cut and Worlds D2 from the ‘18 season).
The Blizzards’ mid-to-high-value players are solid choices, and include Benster (Ben Markham, 2x Regs cuts), Soulsur (Jeudy Azzarelli, ‘14 Worlds finalist), and Sebby (Sébastien Biagé, with an Open cut and decent Regionals performances). However, some of their strongest players are actually low-value picks: players such as Amarillo Caballero (Andy Himes, with a positive 26-14 record across NPA seasons), Ppl-Dorian (Dorián-André Quiñonez, newly-crowned Special Champion who has both a Worlds and Internats cut), and Pontus (Pontus Westerlund, who has multiple Regs cuts and who made D2 at the European IC in ‘17) are quite the steals.
The Blizzards’ manager, Patrick, often travels to out-of-country events, and his draft strategy reflects this: despite having exclusively North American managers, the team includes players from all over the world, with a majority being European. The Blizzards have a strong UK core with Jono, Taran, Ben, and Harry, and with 6 of their players being returning Blizzards from NPA 8, the team is likely to foster a friendly, family-like community. The roster has plenty of depth, but it’s up to the managers to field the players needed to nab wins—as opposed to fielding for inclusivity. While generally rated as a low tier team in NPA 8, the new Blizzards roster may just take the competition by (woosh woosh!) storm.
The reigning NPA Champions are back, and are once more led by Spanish PokeAlex (Alex Gomez) and American kingofmars (Gavin Michaels). The two of them share large swaths of accomplishments, including Regional Champion titles for both and plenty of cuts at high-level events. The Birds are known to do everything in their power to win it all, and this year will be no exception. Bird up!
The Birds chose Mudhiman (Raghav Malaviya, multiple Regs cuts and T32 at North American IC ‘19) and Calvonix (Calvin Foster, recent Nanterre Special Champion) for their retains, but these are also their only returning players from last season, with the rest of their roster being brand new. Their other high-value picks include British player MrJellyLeggs (Jamie Boyt, a player known for using oddball teams with plenty of accomplishments, the most notable of which include winning a Regional with a Cottonee and being the NPA 8 MVP with a set record of 10-1), American player Mikoto Misaka (Angel Miranda, a long-time player with a Nats T8 and several Regs cuts), and Spanish player Ahicodem (Miguel Pedraza Cabellero, who made Worlds D2 and got T32 at the European IC in ‘19).
As far as mid-value picks go, the Birds drafted Italian player Genius (Gianni Piscitelli, who made T8 at the DC Open and who has some solid online tournament results under his belt), Finnish player LilOwe (Oliver Eskolin, 2x Regs cuts and D2 at both the European IC and Worlds in ‘19), and Malaysian player Void (JS Deo, who has a variety of Regs cuts).
While the Birds’ star players look fantastic, their lack of mid-tier players to field in their place should one or even two of them be unable to play is concerning, especially when coupled with the fact that the Birds only drafted 11 players in total. They’ll be more reliant on their top picks than any other team in NPA 9, and with the majority of their team being new pickups, there’s no telling what the team atmosphere will be like. The Fortree Brave Birds will have to be mindful of these flaws if they’re aiming to defend their Champion title.
A brand new team, the Mad Hatters are led by veterans Jon Hu, whose breakout performance was a T4 at Nats in ‘14, and Alex Underhill, who has won 2 Regional Championships and cut a fair few more, in addition to placing T16 at the North American IC in ‘19. They’re looking to encourage unusual teambuilding choices among their team members—fitting, given their name!
The Mad Hatters’ poach pick was CasedVictory (Case Bongirne, 2x Regs cuts), which may strike some as an unusual choice given his 0-5 record in NPA 8. It’s possible the Hatters are instead looking to capitalize on Case as a team presence and creative teambuilder. Their second poach was Italian player Duckpond (Edoardo Giunipero Ferraris, 8-3 in NPA 8). Along for the ride is their most expensive drafted player, Tapu JJ (Jeremy Odena, DC Open Champion ‘19, Worlds D2 ‘18, and multiple Regs cuts), who could very well form a fearsome duo with Case.
The Hatters’ other high-value players include Lukamir (Justin Ramirez, who cut the recent Dallas Regionals and won the online grassroots Rose Tower Open) and Talon (Cedric Bernier, two-time Regional Champion, Worlds D2 ‘18, and T8 US Nats ‘16). The rest of their roster consists of mostly mid-to-low-value picks, with some standouts being Mitch (Mitch Kendrick, whose resume includes a long list of Regs cuts and T16 at the Oceania IC ‘18), SaagAloo (Adrian Sigler, Regional Champion with a bonus 2x Regs cuts), Juan Salerno (a former Senior who had plenty of accomplishments in his division and then cut the Latin American IC as a first-year Master in ‘19), and Weeblewobs (Alex Williams, Regional Champion).
While the Hatters are by no means weak, they seem like a bit of a wild card NPA team. Much like the Monarchs, their draft is very US-centric, but their mid-to-low-value players lack the experience and consistency of the Monarchs members, which could end up putting the Hatters at a disadvantage. Will their risky picks and love of unusual team choices pay off? Only time will tell.
Another addition to NPA 9, Postwick United have chosen the adorable Wooloo as their mascot—certain to be irresistible to many aspiring NPA players! United has yet another pair of American managers in the lead: Unreality (Aaron Traylor), a storied, long-time player who won the recent Dallas Regionals, and MrBDog (Brendan Lewis), who does VGC commentary.
United’s first action as a team was to poach Absurdity (Willem Geurts), who had an impressive 6-1 record in NPA 8. They then bolstered their roster with two high-value star players in Yuree (Alessio Yuri Boschetto, whose lengthy list of accomplishments includes being an International and Regional Champion and making Worlds T16 twice) and Fevzi (Fevzi Özkan, 7-1 in NPA 8 with a multitude of Regs cuts to boot).
Other high-value players for United include Rubin3k (Aleksandra Ćwikiel, 2x Regs cuts including the recent Bochum) and Alaka (Len Deuel, a commentator who achieved an impressive result in ‘18 by cutting the North American IC). Unfortunately, United are a bit lacking in accomplished or experienced mid-value players, but some noteworthy picks include Alek97 (Alessandro Fantinato, who won an online Zelda Challenge and got T32 in the London IC ‘17) and Hobbit (Henry Rich, various Regs cuts).
United’s draft shows a clear, and rather curious, strategy: they appear to have tried to draft players who are already friends or acquaintances, perhaps to ensure none of their players feel left out. This is evident in little “country cores” such as the Dutch players Willem and Jorijn, the Polish players Aleksandra and Michał, or the Australian players Henry and Simon, all of which seem too ideal to be coincidental. It comes at the cost of leaving United with few strong mid-value picks to field, making them more reliant than most teams on their star players. Still, it’s tough to not respect United’s drafting strategy—a friendship-fueled feel-good atmosphere coupled with Traylor’s leadership may just be what United needs to grab a victory. Was the real play the friends we made along the way?
The third and final new team to NPA 9, the Snowpoint Stargazers are managed by American player Stephen Mea, who made T8 at the recent ‘19 World Championships in addition to a long list of impressive Internats and Regionals finishes, and British player Xenoblade Hero (Eden Bachelor), who made T32 at the European IC in ‘17. They formerly managed the Celestic Stars in NPA 8, who were relegated from participation following a 3-7-1 record.
The Stargazers decided to poach Brazilian player Agati (Gabriel Agati, 2x Internats T8, 2x Internats T16, Worlds T16 in ‘19), and with his lengthy resume of accomplishments paired with a 6-3 record in NPA 8, he’s well worth the hefty 23.5k price. Their second poach was Malaysian player Ismat (Ismat Myron, both a Regional and Open Champion and made T16 at Oceania IC ‘19), who had a very solid 5-2 record in NPA 8. Other high-value picks are Vivalavlade (Alister Kei Sandover, two-time Regional Champion, T16 at North American Internats ‘18, and Worlds D2 ‘18; particularly notable for being one of few NPA players with insight into the Japanese circuit) and FlyingFalcons7 (Vishy Vasudevan, who got T16 at the recent Dallas Regs and has multiple other Regs cuts to prove his consistency).
The Stargazers are a bit lacking in mid-value picks, though notable players include Rob (Roberto Parente, who has a Special top cut with a few Regional T16 finishes), Marcofiero (Marco Hemantha Kaladura Silva, T32 at Worlds, North American IC, and European IC ‘19), and Lugia (Karim Dabliz, 2x Regs cuts). Among their low-value picks, they’ve managed to nab some players with surprisingly strong results for cheap, such as Zelda (Sam Pandelis, Worlds finalist ‘17) and Maxdeese (Max Simon, who has a Regs cut and several impressive online tournament finishes).
The Stargazers’ roster is quite curious: while most teams tend to draft primarily North American or European players, the Stargazers’ (literal?) star players are mostly from the Latin American and Asia-Pacific regions. Snapping up overlooked top players from these lesser known regions is an interesting idea, but it’s left them a bit lacking in mid-to-high value players and seems to have cut them off from the more valuable US and European picks (though one could argue having a US and European manager pair helps counteract this). Even so, the Stargazers could yet surprise, and are well worth keeping an eye on—they may just be a sleeper pick!
The Islanders are led by the British duo of long-time VGC players Baz Anderson, whose long list of accomplishments includes being a Regional Champion and making T8 at Worlds ‘16, and Jamie Kean, a three-time Worlds competitor who made T32 at two Nationals in ‘15. They’re both known for their unusual team choices, and, in a similar vein to the Mad Hatters, are looking to encourage outside-the-box thinking when it comes to teambuilding.
The Islanders’ retain choices are American player TTT (Daniel Thorpe, 2x Regs cuts and 7-3 record in NPA 8) and Australian player Mogar (Malcolm Mackellar, who made Worlds three times in a row using exclusively Alolan Raichu teams and got T16 at the Oceania IC in ‘19). Although solid, their retains are more high-value players than star players, though one might argue Baz and Kean simply decided to keep whoever performed best for them in NPA 8.
The rest of the Islanders’ roster has plenty of interesting picks, starting with high-value players such as R Inanimate (Randy Kwa, two-time Regional Champion who made T32 at US Nats in ‘16 and whose familiarity with the Togekiss/Excadrill core may be quite the boon in the VGC20 format) and JoeUX9 (Joseph Ugarte, Regional Champion with a multitude of additional Regs cuts), who are followed by the more mid-to-high-value chef17 (Ben Grissmer, who got T32 at the North American IC in both ‘18 and ‘19) and Spring (Donguk Jung, who made D2 at Worlds ‘17).
Despite having drafted the maximum amount of 15 players, it’s difficult to say what the Islanders’ draft strategy really is. With 5 players on the roster who’ve won NPA together before, perhaps they’re simply looking to replicate their previous success. The Islanders have potential, but the absence of a true star player who can near-guarantee them weekly wins when fielded may prove to be an issue. It remains to be seen if the Islanders will be able to perform in the face of these obstacles.
As the team to finish dead last in NPA 8, the Lilycove Cruisers would’ve had to work hard to turn things around. To that end, the now-rebranded Slateport Cruisers have a new pair of managers: former Cruisers player Human (Enosh Shachar), a long-time VGC player who made T16 at Worlds in ‘13 and ‘14 and who has a fair few Regional top cuts under his belt, and a less experienced player in RachelWithCats (Rachel Willson), who formerly helped manage the Celadon City Gamblers.
The Cruisers are one of two teams to not retain any of their former players, putting them at a bit of a disadvantage straight off the bat. Further weakening their draft is the fact that they’ve only really got three high-value picks: TheFloppyMudkip (Cedric DeRouchie, who has plenty of Regs cuts under his belt), who they traded their previously drafted player, Lukamir, for, Resident Unleashed (Meaghan Rattle, Regional Champion who made T8 at Worlds in ‘19), and Rahxen (Antonio Sánchez, who won the Victory Road Ultra Series Open).
The rest of their roster seems a bit disorganized, but does include some big names, such as Braverius (Zach Droegkamp, four-time Regional Champion), Brandtman (Brandon Meckley, Regional Champion who made T16 at Worlds in ‘19) and CarsonC (Carson Confer, an International Champion who also made T16 at Worlds ‘18 and who’s cut a variety of Regionals). Also interesting to note is the team’s four-player German core, consisting of Eimagi (Eike Marvin Gilcher, 3x Regs cuts), Chrisley (Christoph Bley, who made D2 Worlds in ‘18), Tim (Tim Sudermann, who has had good recent locals showings), and Sela (Selahattin Sturm, 2x cuts in the online grassroots Rose Tower tournaments).
Having been forced to trade away their most high-value drafted player in Lukamir, the Cruisers are off to quite the rough start, and their lack of a cohesive draft strategy puts them in an awkward spot. These difficulties are likely to impact team morale, but if the Cruisers are able to overcome that, they’ve certainly got players with potential.
The Symbionts are coming into NPA 9 hot off a T4 in NPA 8, and are led by the Latin American duo of Brazilian Fumito (André Fumis), who has cut several Regional-level events, and Argentinian AvatarFede (Federico Turano), who made T8 at Worlds in ‘18 and whose other accomplishments include a long list of Special Event cuts. They’re aiming to build a family-like community with their team—a tried and true NPA strategy.
Despite having done so well last season, the Symbionts made the questionable decision of not retaining any of their players. Their most noteworthy high-value picks are Blckkkkk (River Davis, Regional Champion with an additional 3x Regs cuts), Peppemusicco (Guiseppe Musicco, yet another Regional Champion with good online tournament showings), and PinkSylvie (Meghan Hyman, 2x Regs cuts including the recent Dallas and multiple Zelda Challenge cuts). While undeniably solid, none are quite at a star player level.
Other high-value picks for the Symbionts include SwaggyMcBuckets (Matthew Jackson, Worlds qualifier with a 4-3 record in NPA 8) and Megathorn (Alban Badin, 1x Special cut), whose high draft prices seems unusual given their relative lack of accomplishments. The rest of the Symbionts’ roster consists of mostly low-value picks, but some noteworthy players include JZG (Jeremy Gross, 1x Regs cut and a 7-1 record in NPA 7), JackOfSpadesMan (Jake Magier, Regional Champion), and Dynamoon (Davide Cauteruccio, T4 at the European IC ‘17 and various Regs cuts).
The Symbionts’ draft stands out as being the most questionable in NPA 9. Choosing not to retain anybody is an unusual decision, given they had players such as DuoMark and Springs to choose from. It’s hard to argue some of their pickups were anything but overpays, and the lack of any real star players on the roster may make winning tough, even with some solid high-tier players being part of the team. The Symbionts’ low-value picks, however, are quite good, and could very well be their saving grace.