What a phenomenal playoff picture. Plenty of perennial contenders, several all-time greats, and more than a few new faces. I'm excited for every set here.
1. ABR (SM, ORAS, BW) VS. 16. Santu - Sporting the top seed once again, ABR is in his sharpest form since SPL IX, and I fully expect him to go deep for the trophy. He's difficult to counterteam, plays to all his outs, and is second to none in controlling the flow of the game. Santu is a fine player, but he can't hold a candle to ABR. If there's an area where ABR falters, it's his BW, where he can fall into predictable tendencies. This could be an issue for him in later rounds, but I'd be surprised if he dropped a game here. 2. Finchinator(SM, ORAS, BW) VS. 15. Twixtry - After coming so close last season, Finch is back with a vengeance, showing his dedication by nabbing the second seed. While he may struggle against elite competition at times, and is all over the place in terms of consistency in the newer gens, Finch appears to be on a hot streak, and I'd expect him to come out swinging in this set with some exceptional BW skills. Twixtry is an interesting character, and definitely has moments where he shines, but he'll need more than a flash of brilliance to overcome Finch's great intuition and solid gameplay. Wouldn't be too shocked if it went 2-1, but Finch should win. 3. HSA (SM, ORAS) VS. 14. BK (BW) - HSA's rise to prominence came out of nowhere, as he's been a fringe figure in the competitive scene for quite some time, but never made waves until recently. With extremely strong performances in SM and ORAS, he finally seems to be taking things seriously, and his natural aptitude for the game is becoming obvious. However, he struggled to get a hang of BW's new trends, and Bro Kappa is no slouch in the metagame department, so unless HSA gets himself up to speed quickly it could be a tough series for him. Still think HSA has the edge in terms of skill, he just needs to put the work in. 4. SoulWind (SM, BW) VS. 13. McMeghan (ORAS) - Absolute fucking highlight match. Although Roro's the more proven of the two, both these guys are top contenders for the trophy, and it's a shame they had to meet this early. I don't think this is more than a weighted coin flip in either guy's favor, with SoulWind holding the greatest edge in BW and Roro's ORAS being where he truly stands out, so SM will likely be the proving ground here. I slightly prefer SW because he's always on top of the freshest innovations and his raw talent is out of this world, but McMeghan could just as easily outplay SW or surprise him with a trademark tech, and you have to question where SoulWind's mentality is after TEN tour playoffs and no trophy to show for it. It's really anyone's game and this will be one to watch with the intensity of a final. 5. BKC(SM, ORAS, BW) VS. 12. Gondra - For me, the most one-sided of the matchups here. BKC is the pinnacle of consistency in every tier he touches, and I feel like he's exceptionally good at farming players a step behind him. Gondra's been around for years but has never impressed, just another familiar face. If BKC drops a game, it'll be SM, where it still seems like he's finding his footing. Can't see him losing this one.
6. Eeveeto (BW) VS. 11. ima (SM, ORAS) - Finally I'm predicting the lower seed! Eeveeto has a style that's perfectly suited to live tours, he's painstakingly innovative in his teambuilding and is impossible to get a read on. I think that explains his high seed here. On the other hand, ima's pretty solid all around and doesn't have many discernible weaknesses or strengths, with his BW probably being slightly worse than the other two. Since this is the only matchup between two newcomers, it'll be the most volatile, and nerves could very well strike down either player. If ima stays calm and brings teams that don't happen to crumble to whatever nonsense Eeveeto cooks up, he'll make it through. Eeveeto's win condition will be all about the surprise factor. Whoever wins game one will set the tone for the series.
7. le LLiolae (ORAS) VS. 10. Luigi (SM, BW) - The Ruiners MVP makes his playoff appearance against this mysterious newcomer. Watch a couple le LLiolae replays, this guy is no joke. He'll start making crazy plays from turn one and never takes his foot off the gas. Unfortunately for him, Luigi usually loses by outplaying himself instead of getting outplayed, and his measured mentality seems perfectly suited to take on the opponent's relentless aggression. I don't rate either player too highly, but expect Luigi's patience and experience to see him through this round. 8. KratosMana(SM, BW) VS. 9. xray (ORAS) - Another fantastic and very close matchup here. xray is one of the top ORAS players at the moment, and while he doesn't reach the same heights in the other two tiers, he's still competent and capable. Against most other players here I'd pick him in a heartbeat. However, KratosMana can only be described as Fucking Good. I had the pleasure of playing him recently and the way he executes complex gameplans and jaw-dropping outplays at lightning speed is completely unique. He's my dark horse pick for this tournament. Definitely a tough opponent to start things off, but if the nerves don't get to him, expect great things.
Good luck to the competitors, let's see your best! Cheering for my friends.
Since i'm not playing this season, i figured i can offer some insight this time around on some really banger match ups :p
1. ABR VS. 16. Santu [75-25] obviously the favored player, but i wouldn't put it past santu to not get run over as easily as you would think. most people wouldn't have expected him to make playoffs, but his performance this last bw tour has cemented him a spot at the big boy table and being an underdog and having something to prove is definitely something i wouldn't hedge my bets against. he is however facing abr and luck element aside, his time investment and track record in this tour is nothing to scoff at and abr has so much more to lose than santu has to gain so needless to say he will be prepared and will definitely not underestimate anyone regardless of who he's facing. i'm confident that abr will win in sm pretty handily, oras might be a bit more dicey considering that santu allegedly mains oras as well and will do so this wcop, and while i would normally heavily favor abr here, in a mu induced gen like oras, santu can just as well come out on top if he knows exactly what to prep for. as for bw, hoping we see some goth on goth action but both seem relatively even here skill wise.
2. Finchinator VS. 15. Twixtry [60-40] bit more even match up i'd say despite the huge gap in points. based on what i've seen from both of these players, i do think twix is the better player in sm albeit marginally. finch for sure has more experience especially in builder, but he lacks the tryhard, agro, offensive mentality in his sm gameplay that is ever so present in his posts on smogon. twix is more consistent in comparison and can definitely pull the trigger when necessary, but will probably need help for team selection since i don't believe i've ever seen this man use his own teams whatsoever. regardless im expecting standard bo builds and nothing too crazy for sm. both seem adequate and relatively inexperienced in oras, but i probably favor twix more since he's going to need to double down on sm and oras in order to win. expecting a potential blowout as far as bw is concerned, but i do favor finch winning this bo3 as a whole, otherwise he'll be spending the rest of the tour spamming #FINCHTOUR28 lol.
3. HSA VS. 14. BK [55-45] probably the biggest surprise player in playoffs in my opinion. hsa not only making playoffs, but getting third seed when your name has the same levels of crust associated with it as reyscarface is absolutely mindboggling to me. it's especially surprising to see an alleged old gen player who has peaked in bw play at a high level in both sm and oras. that in itself is a huge indicator of consistency in regards to individual ability in my book. regardless, his opponent is bro kappa who fields a similar skillset across the three gens. both of these players from what i know are just that, players. as far as building goes, that may prove to be both of their downfall, considering that all i've seen them use for the most part are known and recycled teams from other people, so i hope out of their interest they use something different that may throw each other for a loop. normally it wouldn't be an issue, but there's a difference between using your own team and a team somebody else made to varying degrees of success, but even if they don't and just use known teams it will probably come down to the better player winning imo. regardless, these two appear relatively even across the board and i wouldn't at all be surprised to see any one win in any particular gen, so looking forward to this series.
4. SoulWind VS. 13. McMeghan [65-35] this is quite an unfortunate match up since i would have preferred to see mcmeghan mature more as a newer gen player before being pitted vs the man who along with finchinator fits this description. soulwind of course is no stranger at this point and that is very much apparent from his unrivaled resume in this tournament's history to date. while what would normally be an extremely even and down to the wire series, soulwind is much more favored in sm and marginally so in oras than mcmeghan by virtue of sheer experience in the tiers alone, although the same can be said for mcmeghan and the competitive knowledge he himself has accumulated as a player. bw is obviously a coinflip and will most definitely be the highlight game of the round, but hoping that whoever wins this series makes it to the end as they are the two i'm personally rooting for the most n_n.
5. BKC VS. 12. Gondra [60-40] this is actually more closer than i initially expected. bkc is in my opinion the player with the highest skill ceiling in this tournament and has a lot of room to grow both in sm and oras. that isn't necessarily an admonishment to him as a player, but moreso that he has a lot of potential for both tiers in my eyes. gondra on the other hand is relatively more proven in both tiers, but his sm is put into question as i'm unsure if he has been keeping up with the tier as of late. sm and oras appear to be somewhat equal, with oras being the highlight for sure. bw is something i wouldn't necessarily put it past gondra to win, but bkc has much more high pressure tournament experience in the tier under his belt so it wouldn't be surprising if he flat out won there but expecting a close one that's for certain.
6. Eeveeto VS. 11. ima [40-60] don't get me wrong, i am a huge supporter of anyone who experiments and uses whack shit, but i know how hard ima worked to get this point and his consistency thus far that i believe he can clutch it in playoffs. his opponent however is the one and only eeveeto and he and his antics are debatably as much of a threat to his opponent as they are to himself. as a pilot of shitmons and said wildcards myself, my advice to him would be to reign the crazy sets in to a fault and focus on winning a bo3 in 3 gens. playoffs are much different than farming stour points since you're not grinding vs unsuspecting players who use standard stuff more often than not. regardless, his acumen in builder is probably the best out of every player here and is a huge advantage he has going into playoffs, so ima will definitely have to hone his bullshit detector and playing ability in order to come out on top. both of these players appear relatively even in regards to skill level across the three gens so another one i'm looking forward to.
7. le LLiolae VS. 10. Luigi [40-60] two players who haven't necessarily made their mark in the tournament scene so this will be interesting. le lliolae appears to be a newer player and its looking like its his big breakout while luigi is more established of the two and fields consistency between the three gens. based off the games i've seen, le lliolae is much more aggressive and makes risky plays that often work out while luigi usually does the bare minimum to guarantee momentum and pilot himself to victory. le lliolae does appear to know what he's doing in oras moreso than the average player so definitely expecting him to clinch that, but will need to stay vigilant in both sm and bw in order to clutch the win so expecting some high-octane power plays that may or may not work out vs an adequate degree of risk vs reward assessment with experience to boot.
8. KratosMana VS. 9. xray [49-51] man oh man, this is the series i'm the most split on. on one hand you got anti who is basically eeveeto on steroids with categorical moments of utter genius and xray who is probably the best oras player in this tournament while still being relatively solid in the other two gens. normally i would pick the person who has surprise factor+consistency going for them, but i can't discount the fact that this is anti's first stour playoffs and this being xray's fourth. that experience and the hunger in itself gives xray a slight leg up in winning this series i feel, so anti's really going to have to match him in terms of resolve as far as winning goes and we'll most definitely see that in the level of play exhibited and the techs that will be brought. for sm i definitely favor anti since that is the gen where he's been practicing the most and experimenting with the most unsets imaginable while xray for oras for obvious reasons. however, i wouldn't be surprised if either of them won in the gens i project them to lose in considering that the skill threshold is for the most part similar and they're both gens where i expect the most bullshit to happen, especially with these two players. bw seems relatively even with no ideal winner so expect the unexpected.
awesome pool of players with a nice mix between new and old, temper your nerves and play without regrets would be my advice. best of luck gents and make it a good one.
ABR VS. Santu - I think this is definitely going to be the most one sided series here. Santu's a decent ORAS player, but ABR isn't going to lose to him in that gen unless he lets himself get matchup sniped and Santu isn't anywhere approaching ABR's level in SM or BW, as he's arguably one of the top 5 SM players right now and has a very solid grasp on BW as well given his history of success in this tournament. ABR seems to be back in the form he reached in past tournaments, especially in SM and ORAS, regardless of any gripes that you may have with his teambuilding abilities. As such, I wouldn't be surprised to see him make a deep playoff run in spite of the "1 seed curse" that seems to keep striking him down in this tour.
Finchinator VS. Twixtry - I think that Twix is a solid player, as evidenced by him dispatching Cdumas in blunder's tour a few months ago and his name popping up from time to time in the tournament scene, but Finch has a really strong grasp on both SM OU and BW OU. I think that if Twix can get some really strong help in ORAS and prep well enough to get matchup in SM is, he can pull off the upset here, it's just unlikely given the level of consistency that Finch has been building and playing at for the past few months. Finch definitely has the easier half of the bracket here, so a lot of people would be shocked to see him not make finals for the second consecutive year, but I do think there's a lot of underrated players in his half of the bracket that could pull off an upset against him.
HSA VS. BK - HSA has seemingly risen out of nowhere, but he has a great mind for the game and a knack for breaking down and planning out endgames that Bro Kappa simply does not possess. HSA has a clear edge in both SM OU and ORAS OU, where he's done very well. A lot of people are saying that Bro Kappa has the edge in BW OU, but he's fairly one dimensional there and I think that HSA is a smart enough player to figure that out and take him down with relative ease here. I think a lot of people are underselling HSA given how he got a top 3 seed out of nowhere, but he's definitely a dark horse to make a deep playoff run here given his mind for the game.
SoulWind VS. McMeghan - This is my first "upset pick" so far in these predictions, but it's for good reason. I feel like McMeghan has a very clear edge in ORAS, with how phenomenally he's played it recently in conjunction with how the current metagame fits his natural playstyle. While SoulWind has an edge in both BW and SM OU, I think that McMeghan's crafty teambuilding abilities combined with his great playing ability will allow him to catch SoulWind off-guard in one of these two gens and let him pull off the upset here. SoulWind is going into his 10th Smogon Tour playoffs without a ring, and it's just tough to see him getting over the hump here given the absolute nightmare of a plyoff bracket that he has to deal with. On the other hand, Roro has historically performed well in individual tournaments, winning Smogon Tour 14 and not really having a history of choking under pressure at all. I'll be very excited to watch this series and would be happy to see either player win here.
BKC VS. Gondra - This is probably the second most one-sided series of these playoffs. Gondra has been a solid tournament player for several years now, but BKC seems to be on another level with regards to playing ability as of late, finally getting a handle on SM OU and playing it at an elite level. In addition, he seems to have found his trademark "good solid teams that can outplay every matchup" in both ORAS and BW OU and grown comfortable playing them to the point where it's very difficult to pick most people against him. BKC has played some of the best Pokemon that I've personally seen him play as of late, especially that one stours week final game. I wouldn't be surprised to see him to advance to the semifinals at the very least, as long as he's wary of not being too predictable with his team choices and getting counterteamed. However, all of the information we have on BKC's play as of late is obviously in a limited sample size and it's been a considerable amount of time since he's played in the playoffs of an individual, so we'll see how his return to the big stage goes here.
Eeveeto VS. ima - I would actually predict Eeveeto against a ton of the people in this playoffs and think his ability to come up with surprise mons and techs to catch the opponent off-guard and take them down. However, given who ima spends time testing and building with, I don't think he's the sort of guy to get off guard by wild techs and lose a series because of it. As long as he doesn't get struck by nerves or lose to Rotom-Heat at preview, I trust him to play solidly and take this series against Eeveeto. Both of these players are fairly unpredictable in both the teambuilder and how they play, and if the winner of this series gets really hot, I could see them potentially knocking off a couple peopleand making a deep playoff run.
le LLiolae VS. Luigi - Luigi is an intriguing player, but I've never been super high on him and think he tends to make questionable plays at times that can lose him games that he could've easily won otherwise. On the other hand, LLiolae is actually a strong aggressive player that can make reads early on and take the game out of his opponent's hands in the first ten turns or so and while he's still new and makes mistakes, he doesn't have the propensity for choking that a lot of "clickers" tend to have. If LLiolae does manage to win this game, he seems like exactly the sort of player to get an upset victory against Finch. ORAS OU is clearly his strongest tier, and he has a solid enough grasp in both SM and BW OU combined with an aggressive "clicker-like" playstyle that's perfect for catching Finch off guard and taking him down.
KratosMana VS. xray - This was by far the toughest series for me to pick. Similarly to SW vs Roro, these two players are basically neck and neck for me, with the one I'm taking having an advantage in ORAS in spite of being "disadvantaged" in the other two gens. Xray is a fantastic player in his own right and has really risen to the higher echelon of tournament performers in the last year or so after being inconsistent at best in previous years. On the other hand, anti is coming off of a year-long tourban and basically qualified in spite of not being able to play the first 7 tours of this season, showing just how great a player he can be. However, anti hasn't really been against top level competition in this kind of individualized environment since before his tourban and xray has been absurdly good lately, so I'm gonna pick xray to just barely edge him out in the matchup of the round.
I'm very satisfied to have reached PlayOffs this season. I hadn't played in this tournament for a while, and I joined in the second week on a whim, because I was enjoying playing the game in general. With the amount of points I got there, I felt like I had to give it a try but knew I couldn't join as much as I used to, and that I wasn't as well rounded in the tour metagames either. I'm glad that I was able to reach my goal by just being consistent with teams I know the ins and outs of, rather than trying to adapt every game. It was also very exciting to follow everyone fighting for their playoff spot. Smogon Tour is the reason I signed up on this website originally and I was able to relive some of its magic this season, as cheesy as it sounds, for the first time since the "water u doing" incident.
I'd also want to share some thoughts regarding my playoff pairing. SoulWind and I go back since we were both laddering in BW1, aka when I started playing Pokemon again. I've seen him grow and grow as a player and I have nothing but respect for him nowadays. His consistency is unmatched throughout the years and he's one of the best in my eyes. A trophy would just be a cherry on top of the cake at this point. I'm pretty excited to play him as a result, because win or lose, I won't be disapointed as long as I play up to my abilities. On the other hand, he is the person I was going to root for the most to take it all, which also leaves kind of a sore taste in my mouth.
I'll finish with some personal takes on the rest of the pairings:
ABR vs Santu: ABR is one of the most well rounded player of the circuit and he obviously is a favorite here. I don't know how close Santu is with the Italian community though, but that makes him a wildcard in my eyes, because they're pretty good at SM and granted Santu knows how to pilot some of their good ideas, he could take that game home. ORAS is apparently his best tier too, and ABR's edge in BW isn't as significant as in other gens. Any Pokemon game can be an upset, but that one wouldn't surprise me as much as other in this first round.
Finchinator vs Twixtry: I haven't watched Twixtry enough to have a good idea about his overall level or proficiency at a given tier. I will just say that I found Finchinator very solid in BW, and his teams are consistent. He's also gonna put in the time and effort as expected from him. Stronger edge here than with ABR Santu in my eyes.
HSA vs BK: Great season from HSA, although I haven't really watched it in details. I think I've seen more games from BK and I did see a lot of chokes or fisherman plays. BK you need to refine your game and not rely on odds/matchup mons if you wanna take it to the next level.
BKC vs Gondra: Big advantage for BKC here, as he's more than found his groove with his trademark playstyle in all three gens. I don't see Gondra taking it from what I've seen of him unless he spices things up, either in the builder or in his plays.
Eeveeto vs ima: The way I see it, both those guys are outside the norm in their team choices, and know how to pilot their stuff. As a fan of creative gameplay, I'm looking forward these games. Rooting for Eeveeto.
le LLiolae vs Luigi: I haven't watched enough of Lio outside of a few ORAS games to have a clear opinion about him. Luigi has never really surprised me in his games, outside of the weird team here and there. A solid player but that's about it. I think this is Lio's to take if he turns it up and doesn't run into awful matchups.
KratosMana vs xray: Without a doubt my favorite series of this round, and possibly the entire tournament. KratosMana has been one of my favorite player for years now. I'm a big fan of his team building choices and gameplay execution with them. xray on the other hand is a very conventionnal player but also quite solid and knows how to not follow obvious paths to play into his opponent's hands. I don't know how KratosMana is gonna handle his preparation, but I just hope that whatever he decides, he doesn't run into unwinnable games.