2022 Pokémon UNITE World Championships Preview

15 August 2022

2022 Pokémon UNITE World Championships Preview

Get ready to watch teams battle in London for the very first Pokémon UNITE World Champion title.

By Jeff Hoogland, Contributing Writer


Thousands of Trainers on hundreds of teams have competed at the highest level throughout the inaugural Pokémon UNITE Championship Series. As the dust settles from the various qualifying events, a handful of teams remain to compete in the Pokémon UNITE World Championships later this month. Fans are looking forward to watching teams like Secret Ship (from Japan), No Show (from South Korea), Renaissance (from the APAC region), and many more. In addition to being the first time many of these teams have faced each other competitively, this will also be the first tournament where all the teams are under one roof.

Before the matches kick off in London on August 19, let’s take a look at what to expect at Worlds. Then, be sure to catch the action at Twitch.tv/PokemonUNITE to see which team will earn the title of Pokémon UNITE World Champion!


Pokémon UNITE Teams to Watch For at Worlds

Every team competing in the inaugural Pokémon UNITE World Championships has earned its spot. They’ve all proven themselves at qualifying competitions this year, and each would make a fantastic first-ever World Champion team. Over the course of the season, several teams have had incredible runs in their home region. As we head into our biggest event so far, a few stand out as ones to watch: teams Stamina CA, XIS Gaming, and Nouns Esports. Note that team travel arrangements are still being made, so the final slate of teams who will be participating at the World Championships is tentative.


XIS Gaming

Hailing from Brazil, XIS Gaming—formerly known as From Brazil—does not know the meaning of the word “defeat.” In every single one of the five Pokémon UNITE Championship Series finals in their region, they took home first place.

In XIS Gaming’s Aeos Cup run, we saw them buck the conventional wisdom of having a scaling Pokémon clear the central area. Instead, they chose to lean into Alolan Ninetales, a Pokémon that hits its power spike earlier and can have an impact sooner than a traditional central area carry Pokémon can. This allowed them to generate an early lead, which they carried through to dominate endgame positioning and win team fights in the final minutes of the game.


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XIS Gaming’s Grand Finals win during the South American-East Regional was particularly impressive due to their dynamic early-game rotations. In Game 1 of the Grand Finals, XIS Gaming had their center show up to the top path after knocking out Ludicolo, stopping key scores from the opposing top path Lucario. In Game 2, XIS Gaming had their Hoopa invade the opposing central area at the start, inhibiting the progress of the opposing team’s most important Pokémon. By constantly dictating the terms of engagement, XIS Gaming generated an advantage for themselves again and again, ultimately winning the event in fantastic fashion.


Stamina CA

Stamina CA competed in four of the five finals events in Central America, and they took home first place in three of them while earning runner-up in the fourth. Stamina CA’s run in the Aeos Cup Finals was another moment that stood out—they showed mastery of Pokémon and movesets that had otherwise been written off by other competitors. With a disruptive Cramorant leveraging Surf to pull enemies out of position at key moments—and a Trevenant swinging its large Wood Hammer to occupy enemies long enough for other teammates to join the fight—Stamina CA proved that any Pokémon can be a force to be reckoned with when played properly.


Nouns Esports

Hailing from Europe and formerly known as Random Gaming, Nouns Esports took home four trophies and one runner-up placement across the five European finals events.

Innovation is the name of the game when it comes to high-level play in competitive Pokémon UNITE, and Nouns Esports has shown time and again they are their region’s lead innovator. The first time Nouns Esports locked in Crustle (a Pokémon most had written off) to reverse-sweep the February Grand Finals in a score comp mirror match, it became clear they’re a team to watch.

In the Aeos Cup Finals, we saw Nouns Esports pioneer the idea of having two different Pokémon split the central area. This was done by having Sylveon, a Pokémon who hits its first power spike at Lv. 4, take one of the buffs to start and having Blastoise take the other. This allowed Sylveon to be impactful in-path sooner than a single center would be while still allowing Blastoise to scale up quickly into the mid-game. This strategy proved so powerful that a team in the North American region copied it to win their own Aeos Cup with little practice.


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Most recently in the Regional Finals, Nouns Esports put to rest the idea that Lucario is the only viable candidate in the solo top path role at the start of the game. Instead, they chose to leverage the top path’s easier scoring to scale up a damage-dealing Trevenant build. All the while, they utilized Lucario’s high-damage moves to secure contested wild Pokémon and get ahead on the bottom path. Nouns Esports also used this event to show the world that Power-Up Punch on Lucario was crucial for securing important objectives—dethroning Extreme Speed from its position as the uncontested superior pick.


Competition Notes

As we look ahead to which Pokémon and strategies we can expect to see in the World Championships, let’s look at other factors that could shake up matches.


Tactical Alignments

Competitive teams often experiment with how to split up Pokémon at the start of the game, and finding the optimal strategy for Worlds will be key. In some regions, we have seen a “1-1-3” format develop—meaning one Pokémon plays the top path, one clears the central area, and three go to the bottom path. Meanwhile, other teams execute a “2-1-2” split, more evenly spreading out their Pokémon for a more balanced approach.

The 1-1-3 starting split requires your top path Pokémon to be incredibly mobile, like Lucario, or incredibly durable, like Trevenant. The more balanced approach allows for Pokémon who are less ideal early on but scale powerfully once they acquire some experience, such as Tsareena. Seeing which of these starting configurations comes out on top could easily define competitive play for the future.


Pokémon Selections


One thing about competitive Pokémon UNITE is certain: it’s Hoopa’s world, and the rest of us are just living in it. Thanks to how its moves Hyperspace Hole and Rings Unbound allow teams to quickly move around the map, the powerful Mythical Pokémon changes the game on a fundamental level. Not only does Hoopa provide mobility, but its Hyperspace Hole also allows teammates to head back to base and fully heal during team fights. This incentivizes opponents to play more durable Pokémon and damage dealers capable of doing large bursts of damage before Hyperspace Hole can whisk the opposition to safety.

One of the top questions heading into the World Championships is whether teams want to leverage the Speedster Absol in their Pokémon selection. Absol has shown up on several teams across different Regional Finals already, and then it received significant buffs in recent balance patches. These included the addition of lifesteal for increased survivability, as well as a functional change to Psycho Cut’s bonus damage that makes Absol’s Unite Move, Midnight Slash, incredibly powerful.

Realistically, we could see Absol played in any of the three starting positions, depending on how it will be leveraged. If a team is looking to push an early advantage, they might have Absol go to work in the central area to level up faster. If teams are looking to simply supplement other damage dealers, Absol can fill the offensive role we often see on the bottom path. And if teams want Absol to scale up into the late game, it could see play as the top path Pokémon, leveraging Attack Weight stacks to hit harder.


Another team-building consideration is finding the optimal durable Pokémon. Blissey has recently been the undisputed best when it comes to providing a mix of both durability and disruption. But with recent balance patches, not only has the impact of Blissey’s key moves been reduced, but similar bulky Pokémon—such as Slowbro, Snorlax, and Mamoswine—have seen improvements.

Meanwhile, Azumarill and Zeraora have recently received small buffs, which could push them into competitive play. But the question remains: Can either of these Pokémon best Lucario or Absol as a Melee Pokémon?

Finally, two new Attackers added to Pokémon UNITE’s roster—Delphox and Glaceon—will see their competitive debut at Worlds. In competitive play, Ranged Attackers typically slot into one of two places: the central area (to quickly gain Exp. Points) or the bottom path (to deal supplemental damage).

One of the most powerful tools Delphox brings to the table is its Unite Move, Fanciful Fireworks. Having access to the fastest recharging Unite Move in the game means Delphox can lay siege to a goal zone or create a volatile area around a key objective Pokémon, such as Drednaw or Zapdos. Because Delphox is strongest when its Unite Move is quickly unlocked, the Pokémon will most likely be played in the central area if it makes a significant Worlds appearance at all.


For Pokémon UNITE’s latest icy addition, Glaceon, positioning is more flexible. Eevee evolves into Glaceon at Lv. 4, at which point it hits its power spike. This means Glaceon is ideal for partially clearing the central area and then moving to the top or bottom path for an early push, similar to how Sylveon is currently used in competitive play. This tactic is especially powerful when trying to inhibit the opposing team from scoring early points on the top path. Glaceon’s early power spike also means that, with proper play and timing, one can play Glaceon (as Eevee) on-path to start and still evolve before the first Combee engagement at 8:50.

As we head into the first-ever Pokémon UNITE World Championships, there are fantastic teams hungry not only for their piece of the $500,000 prize pool but also to make Pokémon UNITE history as the game’s first World Champion team. Will XIS Gaming and Nouns Esports continue their dominance, or will they hit a roadblock as they clash with styles from different regions? What strategies will arise at this World Championships, and how will they define the game for months or years to come? And most importantly, who will hoist Pokémon UNITE’s first World Championship trophy?

The best way to find out is to watch on Twitch.tv/PokemonUNITE when the games begin in London on Friday, August 19, and conclude on Saturday, August 20. Good luck to all the teams and battlers!


About the Writer

Jeff Hoogland
Jeff Hoogland has a graduate degree in mathematics from Illinois State University, where he studied game theory, among other things. He often works as an analyst for the Pokémon UNITE Championship Series and has been an avid player of Pokémon UNITE since its release on Nintendo Switch and mobile devices. He has logged over 4,000 matches of Pokémon UNITE.

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