Journey to Worlds – A Cost Breakdown

Written by Malik Hisyam Zaihan, Aaron Minjoot, Colin Tang and Nicholas Yong

 

WhatsApp Image 2018-08-16 at 18.55.49.jpeg
The Malaysian contingent at Oceania International Championships 2017/2018

 

In Southeast Asia where premier events are spread out across the region, travel seems to be a necessity in order to capture a Worlds invitation.

Of course, while a string of high placements at events within the country can still earn you enough points to qualify, it is definitely better to spread out your chances at earning points – especially with the Tier 2 event in Malaysia, Regionals, boasting the largest number of Masters participants in Southeast Asia to date.

As you may have known, a few of us at Team Rainbow Wing also play competitively and have clinched World Championships invitations – each with our own different set of travels. Weekend availability and budget are two obvious factors that go into our decision whether or not to participate in overseas events.

The aim of this article is for us to share our experiences and how much approximately was spent on attending each event, as well as hopefully encourage more players with the urge to play more competitively to travel next season.


MALIK HISYAM ZAIHAN

Essentially my season began at the Oceania International Championships (OCIC), as with scheduling issues in the SEA region, most tier 2 events occurred in the tail-end of the season. Prior to that, most of us were only able to participate in local monthly League Challenges and a couple of League Cups.

For clarity, I will not include League Challenge finishes before totaling up the final calculations, as the bulk of points came from larger events.

I end the season with 543 Championship Points, clinching a Top16 finish in the Oceania region. Hopefully this article will be able to help gauge how much it costs (and what it takes) to go for more points towards clinching a high finish in the region, but of course if you are only after that coveted invitation to Worlds, the information is still useful.

AUSTRALIA
Oceania International Championships – Sydney (February 2018)
Top32, 160CP (160/250)
Estimated spending – RM2600
Earning – USD750*
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

A strong finish at my first IC of the season ensured that I immediately took a large step towards my invite. Of course, with the IC being in Australia, it is quite expensive for most Malaysians to travel to, factoring travel, accommodation costs and the difference in currency, but by no means impossible to travel on a budget. I personally largely benefited from using a portion of my Enrich miles to reduce flight costs on Malaysia Airlines (MAS).

A note to consider, MAS often has promotions to Australian destinations, usually matching or beating the low prices of AirAsia, so I’d definitely recommend looking into MAS. At the time, my flight costed me approximately RM1500.

Our accommodation was an Airbnb shared by 5 people, in a large apartment within walking distance of the venue. After splitting, this costed approximately RM600 for 5 nights, the usual travel duration for an IC. It is common for us to arrive on the Wednesday before the weekend, so we have the entire Thursday to rest and also check-in for the event. Friday through Sunday are tournament days, with Monday being the outbound flight. With this schedule, it is also possible to squeeze in some sightseeing, before check-in on Thursday as well as on Sunday after the tournament is over (and of course, in the *unlikely* event you don’t make Day 2 – gotta be optimistic !)

League Cup – Singapore (February 2018)
Top8, 25CP (185/250)
Estimated spending – RM500
Earning – Nil
Deck – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

League Cups are very valuable events for players to ‘complete’ their points earnings or to earn that last 20CP needed for an invite.

The usual custom for when there are tournaments in Singapore is for us to fill up a car and drive down, to maximize cost efficiency. Petrol, toll and parking, to be shared among 5 people usually turns out to be approximately RM120, and accommodation can be found at around RM200 for 2 nights if booked well in advance. For this trip, we booked a hostel room with 4 beds.

From KL, we usually drive down on Friday evening, spend 2 nights in Singapore and then drive back up after the tournament has concluded on Sunday.

Regional Championships – Jakarta, Indonesia (April 2018)
Top4, 130CP (315/250)
Estimated spending – RM600
Earning – USD500*
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Not counting in the League Challenge finishes prior to the IC in Sydney as well as the League Cup, in principle I had clinched my Worlds invitation in 2 events, earning cash at both – which is considered very efficient. This was a particularly successful weekend, as I managed to exceed my target by making the Top8 in first seed and ending the tournament in 3rd place.

Apart from Singapore, Jakarta is also a common destination for many Malaysian players, as it is very cheap fo fly to and accommodation isn’t too expensive. On AirAsia, a return trip to Jakarta would usually cost approximately RM200, and 2 nights in a decent hotel would usually cost another RM200.

Similarly to Singapore, a typical tournament weekend in Jakarta is usually done by flying in on Friday evening and returning on a Sunday evening flight.


Regional Championships – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (June 2018)
Top32, 60CP + Top16 League Cup, 20CP (395/250)
Estimated spending – N/A (Home)
Earning – Nil
Deck – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

Following a strong finish in Jakarta I found myself to be in contention for a Top8 or Top16 finish in the region, should I consistently earn more CP. Considering that the remainder of tournaments happen to be at home in Malaysia and a drive down to Singapore, of course I decided to go for it.

The Malaysia Regionals saw the largest attendance in Masters for a tier 2 event in Oceania, which meant that CPs trickled down further. I didn’t do particularly well in this tournament but did manage to net myself some valuable CP, closing the gap to the top players in the region.

Unfortunately I wouldn’t be able to provide an accurate figure for traveling costs to Kuala Lumpur, but for the benefit of non-KL natives, accommodation would probably cost anywhere between RM80~RM160 per night in a decent hotel (which can be further reduced by sharing).


Special Event – Singapore (June 2018)
Top16, 80CP + Top4 League Cup, 32CP (507/250)
Estimated spending – RM500
Earning – Nil
Deck – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

I could not do better than Top16 in Singapore as I lost my Top8 deciding game not drawing very well. However I did manage to place well (3rd place) in the following day’s League Cup so that wasn’t a total bummer.

As I’ve explained before, this trip was another short weekend trip, with a Friday evening drive down and returning to Kuala Lumpur after the tournament has ended on Sunday. However this time we had a bigger group and booked an 8-bed dormitory, filling up the entire room among friends.

 

The remainder of my points, 36CP came from the monthly Challenges that we had (of course limited by the BFL) to make it 543CP at the end of the season, solidifying a 12th place finish in the Oceania rankings. With that, I’ve managed to secure Top16 in Oceania (a moot point now that the award structure for future ICs have changed), having to fly to only 2 destinations – Sydney & Jakarta.

I’ve also managed to earn a total of USD1250* (before taxes), which coverts to around RM6000, meaning I have not just broke-even but also profited from the season, considering my approximate travel cost in total is RM4200. Budget and availability are obvious factors on how often one can travel, as some of my friends indeed flew to more destinations for their Worlds invitation, but hopefully this will help aspiring players plan for more regional travel in the next season !


AARON MINJOOT

I started off my international season with a flight down to Australia for a family holiday, which coincidentally coincided with the Brisbane Regional Championship on the 16th and 17th of December 2017.

My next Tier 2 events would be the Singapore League Cup – which would have been a good boost to start off 2018 – and the Oceania Internationals, where a placing in the Top 64 would have sealed the Worlds invite – which I unfortunately missed out on after doing quite badly in both events respectively.

I did however clinch the invite at the Manila SPE, and for the rest of the year concentrated on content creation and tournament organization for Team Rainbow Wing, finishing the 2017/2018 season with 285 Championship Points, placing 40th in Oceania, although my placings across the season did not yield me any financial earnings.

Regional Championships – Brisbane, Australia (December 2017)
Top 16, 80CP
Estimated spending – [RM2000] in principle (approximate for travel & stay 3D2N)
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Oceania International Championships – Sydney, Australia (February 2018)
131st
Estimated spending – RM3000 (5D4N)
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Australia is always a destination that Malaysians or most Southeast Asian residents would find rather pricey to travel to – and with good reason. Flights cost upwards of RM1000 return, and accommodation is not cheap either. I was lucky to have been able to attend Brisbane thanks to a family vacation, but I would strongly advise against making a last minute trip to Australia unless you are willing to pay around RM2000 for a very simple arrangement. The payoff is there, however, if it is a Regionals or International Championship, as there is money to be won which can drastically subsidise your investment.

My verdict? A decent destination to pick up CPs and cash prizes if you are absolutely prepared for the metagame and fancy your chances, but the initial cost is substantial.

League Cup – Singapore (January 2018)
N/A
Estimated spending – RM500
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

League Cup – Singapore (February 2018)
1st, 50CP
Estimated spending – RM500
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Special Event – Singapore (June 2018)
24th
Estimated spending – RM500
Deck – Psychic Malamar

By far the most common destination for CP-hunters, Singapore is unsurprisingly accessible in both cost as well as travel time due to its closeness to Malaysia. A drive down south is my preferred transport, and carpooling keeps costs very low, if you are fine with roughing it out at hostels or any budget accommodation (which is usually the more expensive cost). With a quick Google search  you will also be able to gauge cheap eateries around you as the island is pretty well mapped out.

Definitely a must if you are keen to capture as many Championship Points as possible, even for Cups.

Special Event – Manila, Philippines (April 2018)
6th, Top 8, 100 CP
Estimated spending – <RM1000
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

Manila was one of my favourite destinations this past season, and is surprisingly affordable as well considering you will need to take a 4-hour flight. Accommodation is rather affordable even in the city, and food is by far one of the cheapest you will enjoy around the SEA region. The only caveat: be prepared for heavy traffic, which means leaving much earlier in the morning if you are choosing to stay beyond walking distance from the venue – which I highly recommend if you intend on experiencing certain suburbs.

Overall, Manila can actually be almost as affordable as Singapore if you are truly on a budget, and I strongly recommend it as a must for the new season.

SEASON SUMMARY
Total CP via Travels – 230CP
Total CP via Locals   – 55CP
Total CP for Season – 285CP

Total Expenditure for International Travel – RM5500 (or RM7500 including Brisbane)
Total No. of Trips – 6
Expenditure per Trip – RM916.67 (or RM1250 including Brisbane)

ROI – RM23.91 per 1 CP earned (or RM32.61 including Brisbane)


COLIN TANG

Oceania International Championships – Sydney, Australia (February 2018)  – N/A [Cost: RM3,000]
Special Event – Manila, Philippines (April 2018)  – N/A [Cost: RM800]
Regional Championships – Perth, Australia (March 2018) – 1st place [Cost: RM2,200]
Regional Championships – Jakarta, Indonesia (April 2018)  N/A [Cost: RM600]
Special Event – Bangkok, Thailand (May 2018) – N/A [Cost: RM650]
Regional Championships – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (June 2018) – N/A [Cost: My dignity]
Special Event – Singapore (June 2018) – Top 8 [Cost: RM500]

3 League Cup Top 8s
Total CP – 394

Total earnings – USD1,500

Having just started my Pokemon Journey in 2018, the Sydney IC was the first stepping stone of my Pokemon TCG Journey. Do note that the costs above also include some additional time spent as a result of taking a short holiday in each country while going to the TCG tournaments.

Retrospectively, the 250 CP invite for World’s qualification should be achievable in about 4 Regional level events (coupled with a few League Cup and Challenge results). A Top 16 would already yield 80 CP, so realistically a Top 8 and a Top 16 would easily put you near the threshold. I was quite lucky in my journey that I took the risk of flying off to Perth, but it did pay off as I earned my invite there.

Having said that, players who are also gunning for Day 2 invites/stipends could perhaps consider planning for travel in advance, particularly with the new change in the award system where the stipends are awarded based on a quarterly basis rather than the overall totality.

With this mind, and considering the new Pokémon TCG competition schedule, players aiming for a stipend to the European International Championships (EUIC) next year in Germany can perhaps focus on major events in SEA/Australia as many of the Regional/SPE championships happen just before the EUIC cut-off date.

It was also a good experience to get to know how the Pokémon TCG scene is different each of the countries I visited. Coupled with taking a short vacation after each competition, I would think that it was well budgeted and planned for.

In total, it really depends on how many CP you wish to accumulate. SEA players who are just looking to qualify for a mininum day 1 World’s invite will find that finishing well in major SEA region tournaments is the most cost-friendly option.


NICHOLAS YONG SOON HONG

This was my first true competitive year in the Pokémon TCG chasing points for Worlds qualification, but also a huge shift in my personal life – I began working in Singapore as the new Pokémon TCG season commenced. I can say that budget travel and accommodation to the major tournaments in the Oceania region is much more feasible with the strong Singapore Dollar.

As I wanted to save my leave days for the Oceania International Championships and the World Championships, I chose to fly into SEA major tournaments first thing Saturday morning (usually arriving on competition day at 7 – 8am) and leaving on Sunday night to make it back to work the following Monday. 

Because my work schedule is erratic, many of my costings are from last minute flights and may not reflect a better planned schedule. Estimated spending is flight, food and accommodation, except for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Oceania International Championships – Sydney, Australia (February 2018)
46th, 130CP
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt
Estimated spending – S$1200

My first trip to Australia was the only tournament in the calendar where I only spared a weekend – I had a good week to prepare for the tournament and enjoy the sights and sounds of Sydney. 

Price wise, expect to pay about Singapore prices or a little higher for food and stay, the latter of which can be offset by bunking with friends. We decided to stay away from the city and closer to the tournament area, which meant a quick 10 minute walk to the venue. Plus, the city was accessible with the train station nearby so it was no trouble to head to town. I will definitely take this into account if I end up travelling for the next Oceania International Championships. 

Special Event – Manila, Philippines (April 2018)
12th, 80CP
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

League Cup Manila, Philippines (April 2018)
7th, 25CP
Deck – Gardevoir GX/Miltank
Estimated spending – S$250

As a Malaysian, I feel Manila is the cheapest among SEA to travel for a major competition. Accommodation, food and travel was all genuinely affordable, and it was easy to call a Grab to bring you between the airport to your hotel, and from the hotel to the competition area – a prime shopping mall in the city. If you bunk together, accommodation and Grab fares become amazingly cheap. 

However, do be wary with travel times from the airport to the city – the traffic can be especially bad so make sure you have ample time to and fro. 

Special Event – Bangkok, Thailand (May 2018)
25th
Estimated spending – S$350
Deck – Tapu Bulu GX/Vikavolt

This was my first time in Bangkok, and the competition was intense with 48 players altogether. Food and accommodation was comparable to Kuala Lumpur, with most street food being really cheap, and getting around via Grab and the train system was easy enough to navigate.

The tournament area, PokeArena in DD Mall, was quite hard to find but it was near the famous Chatuchak Market so you can fill your bag with souvenirs and tummy with plenty of delicious food before and after the competition if they decide to hold it in the same spot once more).

Regional Championships –  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (June 2018)
38th
Estimated spending – S$60 (transport only)
Deck – Buzzwole GX/Lycanroc GX

I usually head back home to Kuala Lumpur every few weekends, and I travel by bus on Friday nights; taking the midnight KL – Singapore bus to arrive on Monday before work begins. I use a combination of Shopback with Easybook/Busonlineticket to get cheap tickets. For night rides, I recommend taking Transtar on the Singapore – KL route, and LA Holidays (KKKL Agent) on the KL – Singapore route if you’re looking for night rides. Otherwise, stick to First Coach or Aeroline if anytime of the day is ok.

Special Event – Singapore (June 2018)
40th
Estimated spending – Nil
Deck – Ultra Necrozma GX/Malamar

Living in Singapore, public transport is available mostly everywhere so accessibility isn’t a problem. I stay in Punggol, so getting into the city is just a long MRT ride away. If you’re travelling as a team, bunking in a shared hostel and getting a Grab ride together to the competition venue is probably your best option to save on costs. Get an EZ-Link MRT card to make public transportation travel easier – you can always use it on your next trip here.

 

IMG_0695
We definitely did not miss our intended ferry stop, making a huge trip around the bay. Nope.

 

Overall, it was an amazing experience to travel around Southeast Asia and to Sydney. I made plenty of new friends along the ways, tried some delicious food and experienced playing Pokémon TCG at so many different places – the funniest being playing on a ferry in Sydney! 

But if you’re looking to only accumulate minimum points to qualify while saving money, I concur with Colin’s suggestion to stick to tournaments in the Oceania region. From my own personal experience, doing very well in a few, select tournaments should be enough to secure the points you require for World’s qualification, without breaking the bank. 

I may not have qualified without the huge jump in points in Sydney. The International Championships offers a huge bounty in CP and prize money, and those feeling confident should try to make the trip. 

Remember that playing well is most important – there’s no point going unprepared and finishing below the CP threshold, as I did after Manila. Strike a good balance between preparation and selecting the best tournament to make your mark, and you’ll be set. Good luck for the 2018/2019 season!

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