Welcome to the third annual Top Cut Invitational! What started as a side tournament to put eight of the biggest stars of the game on display has developed into a truly special and unique event that we look forward to running. Last year we had an epic tournament that was highlighted by the Finals between Tsuguyoshi Yamato and David Cohen. Without a doubt, the event was exciting and like nothing we’ve ever seen before. Can we top it this year? We think so.
For the 2013 Top Cut Invitational, we decided to take a different approach than the previous years. In the past, the focus was on gathering the best of the best to showcase the highest level of competition. As such, we had Jason Klaczynski, Yuta Komatsuda, Sami Sekkoum, and Tsuguyoshi Yamato – four of the game’s legendary players – participate both years. But this time around, we wanted to give new players a chance to shine to keep the tournament fresh. Since the Pokémon TCG has a lot of emerging players right now, we want to give these guys the spotlight to establish the next generation of stars. Unfortunately, that means a lot of fan favorites aren’t included in this year’s eight man roster. However, it gives people the chance to discover some new players to root for. The Top Cut Invitational is a chance for these guys to show off their personality, creativity, and skill. Without further adieu, let’s take a look at this year’s roster!
2012 World Champion
4-time Portugal National Champion
Keeping with tradition, we invited the previous year’s World Champion to the tournament. As everyone knows by now, Igor won the 2012 World Championships in perhaps the most exciting Finals to date. After that incredible victory, he went from bring a relatively unheard of player to an established force. While most people didn’t know him before last year, it is worth noting that Igor won Portugal’s National Championship four times. Clearly he knows how to play the game, and it will be exciting to get another opportunity to see him in action. Igor is known for using decks that are a little different than the standard, such as his Darkrai/Terrakion/Mewtwo deck he used to become World Champion. Unlike some who take the season off after winning Worlds, he continued to play this year to stay sharp. At the European Challenge Cup, Igor went undefeated through the Swiss rounds before finally losing in the Top 8, so he’s on top of his game. In fact, he has the most Championship Points in the world with a whopping 1030! It’s also worth nothing that Igor is a young player, which seems to be the current trend for World Champions. No matter what happens, it will be exciting to see what he brings to the table!
2013 US National Champion
2012 California State Champion
While his list of accomplishments may not be too long, Edmund Kuras came out of nowhere to come out on top of the 927 player US National Championship this year, and with that he earns an invitation to the event. Heading into this season, the second year Masters player wasn’t even expecting to play. But with 16 Play! Points (you need 15 to play in US Nationals), Edmund showed up, built his deck a few days before the tournament, and became the US National Champion. Does that mean his win was just a fluke? Absolutely not. Last year he also qualified for the World Championships in a very strong season, winning California States in the process. After watching him play in the Finals of US Nationals, it’s obvious he’s a great player and understands the game very well. Now it’s his chance to show the world what he’s made of and solidify himself as one of the game’s best. If anything, we know he’s unpredictable and willing to play anything. The Top Cut Invitational will be a great opportunity for all of us to learn more about the current US National Champion.
2012 World Championship 3rd Place
2012 US National Championship 3rd Place
2009 World Championship 3rd Place
2007 US National Championship 2nd Place
Multiple-time Regional Champion
Qualified for 10 Straight World Championships
When you think of the game’s best players, Jay has to be in the discussion. Look at that list of accomplishments! Most players can only dream of finishing in the Top 4 of a major event, and he’s done it four times. In addition, Jay is one of a handful of players to qualify for 10 straight World Championships, showing us that he is a consistently great player. If there’s one knock against him, it’s that he hasn’t been able to win one of these major events, but maybe the Top Cut Invitational is his chance to do so. What more can you say about the guy? Like Igor, Jay didn’t take the season off even though he already had his invitation to the World Championships. In fact, he probably played more events than ever, wanting to stay focused throughout the year. It’s always a pleasure to watch Jay play, and we’re glad to be able to have him for this year’s event.
2012 World Championship 2nd Place
2013 Florida Regional Championship 2nd Place
2012 Florida Regional Champion
If not for the worst prizes of all time, Harrison Leven would be our reigning World Champion. After that heartbreaking Finals match, you had to feel bad for him. But Harrison hasn’t let it slow him down one bit. Even though he entered the season with 500 Championship Points from Worlds, he earned an additional 492 this year, more than enough to earn his Worlds invitation a second time. Over the past two years, you could argue that Harrison has been on the hottest streak in the game. Last season he won a Regional Championship, went undefeated at US Nationals until the Top 16, and took 2nd at the World Championships – not bad. In 2013 he finished 2nd at both States and Regionals, but his US Nationals run was cut short in Top 128. Still, there’s no denying that Harrison is becoming a major star in the Pokémon TCG, and it will be interesting to see what he brings to the TCI. Also, there’s the potential for a rematch with Igor. Will he get his revenge?
2013 US National Championship 2nd Place
2013 Philadelphia Regional Champion
2012 Georgia Regional Champion
Even though Ryan Sabelhaus has performed extremely well at the State and Regional levels for years, he never had that one breakout performance at a major event to put his name on the map. With a 2nd place finish at this year’s US Nationals, that moment finally came. Somehow Ryan managed to stay under the radar for a long time, but now it’s his time to be a star. Anyone who has played with him can attest to how skilled he is at the game, and it should be exciting to see him perform at the Top Cut Invitational. Between solid play and great deck choices, he’s a threat to win any tournament. He was crazy enough to play Life Dew in his Plasma deck at US Nationals, so who knows what he’ll come up with next? He and his brother Kyle have been a part of the Pokémon community for an extremely long time, and now it’s time for Sabelhaus to get some spotlight. Right now he is one of the game’s best players.
2011 World Championship Top 8
2010 Mississippi Valley Regional Champion
Without a doubt, Josh “J-Wittz” Wittenkeller is one of the biggest names in the Pokémon world. With over 450,000 subscribers on YouTube, he is a true celebrity of the game. Sure, if we were picking participants purely based on results, he probably wouldn’t be in the conversation. However, Josh brings a level of excitement to the tournament that nobody else can. Lots of people are dying to see THE J-Wittz in action, and he’ll have a lot of fans rooting for him. But let’s not forget that he’s a skilled player, too! While his accomplishments may not be as big as the others, he had a great Top 8 finish at Worlds 2011 and won a Regional Championship in 2010. Even though he didn’t play a lot this season, he did manage to make Top 16 at the Illinois State Championship, losing to none other than two-time Worlds finalist Ross Cawthon (who then won the tournament). Josh has to be the dark horse of the tournament, and it will be tough to determine what we should expect from him. Overall, he is perhaps the most unpredictable player in the tournament, and we’re looking forward to seeing him play.
2011 Top Cut Invitational 2nd Place
2009 World Championship 2nd Place
4-time United Kingdom National Champion
4-time World Championship Top 8
Qualified for 10 Straight World Championships
According to our poll, Sami Sekkoum is the people’s champion! For a third consecutive year, we’re excited to have one of the game’s best back in the Top Cut Invitational. When it comes down to it, Sami is the most consistent player in the history of the Pokémon TCG. In five of the nine years at the World Championships, Sekkoum has placed in the Top 8 or better. Let that sink in; more than half of the time he’s made Top 8! To add onto that, he has won UK Nationals four times, and he seems to finish at least in the Top 4 every year. Of course, this year was no different as he took 2nd place. Clearly he’s as good as ever. Not only is Sami a great player, but he’s also a great ambassador for the game. You won’t find a friendlier guy in the Pokémon community, and he’s always found joking and laughing. It will be a privilege to have him in the Top Cut Invitational once again, and he may be the odds on favorite to win the whole thing.
2012 Top Cut Invitational Champion
2004 World Champion
2007 World Championship 3rd Place
2005 World Championship Top 8
Yamato truly is a legend. When he enters a room, people gravitate towards him. Every year he shows up to Worlds with a huge smile on his face and an unmatched passion for Pokémon. People line up to get a shot to play against him, and he always sits until late hours in the morning to play against fans. Last year the 2004 World Champion was able to defeat David Cohen in an extremely close match to become the 2012 Top Cut Invitational Champion, earning him a spot in this year’s event as well. Since we don’t get to see Japanese players in action too often, having him participate in the Top Cut Invitational is an honor. When you take into account that he’s also one of the best players in the history of the game, well, it’s going to be awesome.
That wraps up this year’s lineup for the Top Cut Invitational! Overall, the cast of players is a great mix of veterans and new stars looking to break out. As always, we will be attempting to stream the event given that we have the internet to do so. The tournament will take place after the World Championship closing ceremony. If anyone would be willing to donate prizes or perhaps be interested in a sponsorship for the event, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking to make this year’s event even better than the last. See you guys in a few weeks!