With NPA9 coming to an end, players and spectators alike may find themselves wondering: what were the greatest storylines of the season? What are the must-watch sets? And how inaccurate were those power rankings, anyway? Read on to find out!
Actual ranking: Champions 
Predicted ranking: 5
Despite their humble beginnings as a team for players who’d been looked over during the NPA draft, the Blizzards took NPA9 by (snow)storm, eventually being crowned champions. The team’s top players included the British duo of JonoTv [5-3] and AuraRayquaza [5-4], as well as Belgian Tega [5-4]—none of which should come as a surprise, as the Blizzards invested most of their funds in these three players. However, their main standout player record-wise turned out to be Austrian SaltySylveonVGC [6-2], one of their cheaper drafts. Also worth noting is their midseason pickup, Canadian Tiddvicious, who clinched the championship for the Blizzards and finished the tournament 5-0 (including his two playoff sets).
Actual ranking: Finalists 
Predicted ranking: 10
The Islanders took me by surprise—but, having spoken to their players, the team’s success makes quite a bit of sense in hindsight. What I’d initially assumed was a planless draft was in fact an effort to draft players who are known to work well together, which had completely passed me by during my initial power rankings. This allowed the team to foster a fun atmosphere, and their success undoubtedly reflects that. Their top players include Korean Spring [8-2] and US-based JoeUX9 [7-3], but also Canadian StarRaikou [6-2] and Australian Mastodon [4-2]. It is worth noting that the Islanders appear to have had more sellbacks than any other team, which makes the fact that they made it to finals all the more impressive.
New Bark Loud Puppies
Actual ranking: Semifinalists 
Predicted ranking: 1
The Puppies were very dominant in the regular NPA9 season, finishing in 1st place—with both the best set and match record in the league, to boot! Unfortunately, history has a habit of repeating itself, and so they once again lost in semifinals of the playoffs (much like in NPA8). Their top-performing players included Irish MattieMoo [8-2], French RadiumH3 [7-4], Filipino Leimin [5-1], as well as US-based NamukoPro [7-4] and Jumplufftcg [5-4].
Actual ranking: Semifinalists 
Predicted ranking: 11
The Cruisers surprised me more than any other team: having started the season by trading away their highest-value player, things did not seem to bode well for them. However, the team managed to make a complete turnaround, with Spanish player Rahxen [9-2], US-based Sohaib [7-3], and Australian ResidentUnleashed [4-2] being some of their standouts; their German duo of eimagi [5-3] and iamtim [6-4] also performed very admirably. What ultimately led the Cruisers to the playoffs was surely their dedication to hard work.
Actual ranking: Playoffs, Wildcard round 
Predicted ranking: 2
The Rollouts’ roster turned out to have remarkable depth, which was surely a deciding factor in the team making it to the playoffs; unfortunately, however, they did not make it past the Wildcard round. Their standout players included German Viper [7-4], Italians NikyuAlex [6-2] and lucalucario [5-3], Spanish riopaser [5-2], and US-based kingdjk [5-3], as well as Canadian-Chinese yihuivgc [4-2]—quite the variety!
Malie City Monarchs
Actual ranking: 6
Predicted ranking: 4
The Monarchs had a very tough start to the season, losing 3 times in the first 4 weeks, but managed to pick up more wins afterwards and finished NPA9 in a quite respectable 6th place. Their best-performing players included emforbes [7-4], Pokebeys [6-3], and maovgc [6-4], all US-based. While a far cry from their dominant NPA8 season, it is clear the Monarchs are nevertheless still a threat to be reckoned with.
Actual ranking: 7
Predicted ranking: 9
The Stargazers had a strong 2nd half of the season, putting them in contention for playoffs; unfortunately, they were stopped at the final hurdle by the Rollouts. Their top-performing players, Brazilian Agati [8-3] and Australian vivalavlade [8-2], were undeniably some of the very best in the league, with both managing to nab 8 set wins each. While they were the only Gazers with a positive set record, many others managed to go even, with Malaysian Ismat [4-4], Italian marcofiero [4-4], and American Maxdeese [4-4] deserving honorable mentions.
Aether Paradise Symbionts
Actual ranking: 8
Predicted ranking: 12
The Symbionts started the season relatively strong, but struggled to pick up wins later on. Perhaps most curious is the team’s post-midseason transformation: by drafting two additional Italian players in Polpolpo and Shabarai, the Symbionts ended up with a whopping 5 Italian players, all of who were fielded in the final 4 weeks of NPA9. Their initial Italian trio made up their strongest players: peppemusicco [9-2], Grima [5-5], and Dynamoon [5-5].
Ballonlea Mad Hatters
Actual ranking: 9
Predicted ranking: 7
The Hatters started the season with an amusing 4 draws in a row, before finally nabbing their first win against the Islanders in week 5. They were in playoffs contention until the very last week, where their loss against the Birds sealed their fate. Their strongest players included Italian duckpond [7-4], Argentinian Juan Salerno [6-5], and US-based players casedvictory [5-3] and Weeblewobs [6-2].
Actual ranking: 10
Predicted ranking: 8
United aimed for personal improvement as a team rather than trying to win the league, and so placing high wasn’t necessarily the only goal in mind for them. The team was perhaps most notorious for their number one fan, Saint Angelo, who cheered them on throughout the whole season with rallying cries of “baba wooloo”. Their standout players at the end of the season included German Fevzi [8-2], as well as Australian HobbitVGC [5-3] and the Italian duo of Yuree [5-4] and Alek97 [5-4].
Fortree Brave Birds
Actual ranking: 11
Predicted ranking: 6
The Birds performed worse than expected, and it seems the likely culprit was the team’s discontent with an activity loss handed to them relatively early in the season (which ultimately resulted in a change to the NPA ruleset). Regardless, the team put on a good show, with standout players including US-based Mudhiman [6-3], MikotoMisaka [5-3], and LightCore [5-3], as well as Italian GeniusVGC [6-4]. The Birds beat both the Puppies, who finished first in the regular season rankings, and the Blizzards, who ended up winning NPA9, during the regular season—no small feat! Despite taking a fairly lax approach to the latter half of NPA9, they nevertheless managed to deliver some excellent games of VGC, and finished the season on a high note with a win.
White Forest Hams
Actual ranking: 12
Predicted ranking: 3
Despite what seemed like a promising draft, the Hams struggled greatly in NPA9. It’s rather difficult to pinpoint why, as their roster includes many accomplished players. Regardless, the Hams had the honor of having the singular most impressive NPA9 player in the league on their team: Japanese player Snowpokepoke’s NPA9 record is nothing short of legendary. With an 11-0 set record and a 22-1 game record, he had an astounding game winrate of 96%. Other noteworthy Hams players included US-based MunkeyVGC [5-3] and SudokuMasta [5-6], who both netted the team 5 set wins each.
As always, NPA has given rise to some of the most intense sets of VGC in the VGC20 format. Here are some of them:
Finals: JoeUX9 [Islanders] vs Tiddvicious [Blizzards]
Semifinals: Chef [Islanders] vs Feis [Puppies]
Semifinals: Rahxen [Cruisers] vs AuraRayquaza [Blizzards]
Wildcard Round: JoeUX9 [Islanders] vs KingDJK [Rollouts]
Week 2: Snow [Hams] vs Tega226 [Blizzards]
Week 10: Emforbes [Monarchs] vs Lukamir [Hatters]
Week 5: Blckkkkk [Symbionts] vs Leimin [Puppies]
Week 11: Agati [Gazers] vs KingDJK [Rollouts]
In my NPA9 power rankings article, the term “star player” came under much scrutiny, and understandably so. My intention was for it to refer to players whom teams would rely on for a majority of their set wins, but that may not have come across very well. With NPA9 over, I would like to suggest a proper definition:
A star player is a player who an NPA team fields in a majority of weeks and who, in turn, wins a majority of their sets.
Naturally, it’s impossible to say with complete certainty whether or not someone will actually end up as a star player in a given NPA season, so the players I pointed out in the power rankings article were simply predictions (and you will, of course, find that many were completely off). When predicting how a player might perform in a given NPA season, I tried to assess the following, from most to least telling:
The first is the most telling factor for obvious reasons: after all, if a player has performed well in NPA relatively recently, there’s a good case to assume they should be capable of doing so again. But why do some players do well in the official circuit, yet struggle to perform in NPA? There may be a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: