Did we just fix SPEs?

The SPE in Colombia has historically been pay-to-win for day two players.

SPEs that give the local community a path to get their invite to Worlds are good. SPEs where day two chasers take most of the points are bad. Many Central and South American SPEs have historically been the latter and not the former. I will note that this isn't always because of NA players - LATAM day two players have done the same as well (see the inaugural Paraguay SPE)

SPEs are more pay-to-win than regionals, because a good placement cannot recoup your travel costs, outside of specific stipend math.

How do we make this better?

The way to make SPEs better and more "fair" is simple, but not easy - raise attendance. TPCi can do this by scheduling SPEs to not conflict with major tournaments, announce them well in advance, and space them well throughout the year. TPCi historically does a bad job announcing the SPEs with lead time, and has a bad habit of putting them in the last two months of a season.

The Colombia SPE has a high attendance

Despite being announced somewhat last-minute for the end of the season, the Colombia SPE has a high attendance this year. In 2018, there were 30 masters. In 2019, there were 22 masters. In 2023, there are 76 masters. I can't put into words how fantastic this is. A 76 player tournament is in no way an "easy" tournament. It isn't pay-to-win, because it's not easy to win at all.

In 2018, I went 0-5 at the Colombia SPE. I lost to four masters as well as one senior.
In 2018, I went 0-5 at the Colombia SPE. I lost to four masters as well as one senior.

There is also a diversity of countries represented, which provides a path to an invite for players in nearby countries without their own SPE. When I attended the Bogotá Special Event in 2018, the event was mostly Colombians, with a handful of Ecuadorians as well as two Americans. This year, there were 17 masters from the U.S. / Canada and 60 players from the LATAM region (including 30 from Colombia). Eight countries are represented, and I see countries on the player list that I usually don't think of as traveling populations. Looking at the player list, I only count five players going for a day two invite, with four of those in the US & Canada region and one in the LATAM region. Regardless of how results play out today, this doesn't feel like a situation where day two players are "taking" points from day one players or local players.

Also, top 16 points matter for this tournament. Since we have hit the kicker for those, that adds up to a lot more points going to the LATAM region, which was the purpose of the event in the first place.

What does this mean for other SPEs?

If all SPEs were this big, this would better represent the idea of what Pokemon wanted SPEs to be in the first place, which were Regionals without the financial support from Pokemon.

The size of the tournament is also a reflection on the growing community, not just in Colombia but around Colombia. The number of Colombians at the tournament hasn't actually grown a large amount - the growth is coming from the area surrounding Colombia, which is what excites me the most.

Imagine a reality where this event had been announced further ahead of time, and was earlier in the season. Attendance could easily crack 100. We have the potential to have more SPEs throughout the region and not just in Colombia and Peru. We could have a legitimate circuit to benefit local players and get them there invites, and also create a destination for players who want to play on a competitive circuit going for day two invites. However, this wouldn't be unfair because the difficulty of the tournament makes the points challenging to earn.

This all makes me happy 

I love the idea that next time I travel to South America to play Pokémon, it could be to play in a large tournament and not a small one. I love seeing the community grow, especially in Latin America. I hope that tournaments keep growing and that the system keeps improving.



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