By Jesse Turnbull, Contributing Writer
This is it: the final Pokkén Tournament Championship Series will conclude with the 2022 Pokémon World Championships, taking place August 18–21, 2022, in London. Starting in 2015 with an Invitational at the Pokémon World Championships, Pokkén Tournament has been a part of every Worlds that has taken place since its release. Across both age divisions, seven competitors have earned the title of World Champion to date—though none have managed to do so twice. Whether motivated to join this elite group or to become the only two-time Pokkén Tournament World Champion, Trainers are going into this event more fired up than ever before—and you’ll be able to catch all the action on Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament.
In addition to a shot at earning the final World Championship crown, Trainers in the Masters Division will be fighting for their share of a $20,000 prize pool. Half of the finalists were determined through their performance at this year’s International Championships in Europe and North America, while other spots were awarded to the 2019’s Masters Division World Champion and the top-placing competitors from the 2020 Oceania International Championships. That leaves just a handful of spots open to Trainers participating in the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ), which will undoubtedly be one of the most stacked qualifiers to date. When the official tournament begins, the field of 16 battlers in the Masters Division and eight in the Senior Division will surely include the best Pokkén Tournament DX players on the planet.
To start, let’s take a look at the eleven competitors who have already qualified for this event in the Masters Division. If your favorite’s not listed below, make sure to tune in to Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament on August 18 to see if they’re competing in the LCQ!
Hiroki “Subutan” Ishida
At the 2018 Pokémon World Championships, Subutan finished in fourth place with wins over Wingtide, Rokso, and others. Then, 2019’s Worlds saw Subutan defeat all of his fellow Japanese finalists—including Potetin and 2017 World Champion Abe “Tonosama” Hisaharu—to secure first place.
Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu have consistently been a popular Support Set in the Team Battle format, and it’s looking like they’re going to be the most popular set overall at this year’s World Championships. The Support Cheer Skill ensures Mega Rayquaza and Mimikyu are always ready to go when Subutan needs them, making it a good choice for this lineup.
Masami “Potetin” Sato
2016 World Champion Potetin qualified via his first-place finish at the 2020 Oceania International Championships, where he didn’t drop a single game with this team. His other results include first place at Kanto 2, NEC 17, and Tokaigi 2017, and he finished fourth at the 2019 World Championships.
One of the more unconventional picks we’re likely to see at Worlds is Potetin’s signature Weavile. Although the Dark- and Ice-type Pokémon isn’t seen too frequently at the highest level, Potetin has been finding success with Weavile since Pokkén Tournament’s early days. Frogadier is good for extending Weavile’s mid-air combos, while Eevee’s Helping Hand addresses Weavile’s below-average damage output and total HP, making the set a great pick for Potetin.
Motochika “ELM” Nabeshima
Apparently, nobody told ELM that he only needed to place at the top of one of the International Championships to qualify! This legendary player qualified three times this year by placing second at three events: the 2020 Oceania International Championships, this year’s Europe International Championships, and the North America International Championships. Although finishing as runner-up thrice in a row might sting, ELM’s decision to compete in every qualifier means he has plenty of recent experience against his fellow qualifiers in a tournament setting.
Expect to see ELM utilize the same lineup that he used at the qualifiers. ELM and Subutan have similar preferences in this format—though ELM opts for Shadow Mewtwo, whereas Subutan prefers Braixen.
Florian “Cloud” Blank
“I think he’s probably the best player in the world right now.”
That’s what Mewtater had to say about Cloud during his first-place interview at this year’s NAIC. Such high praise from someone of Mewtater’s stature might come as a shock, but Cloud is well-known within the Pokkén Tournament community for his online accomplishments. Despite 2022’s EUIC being his first-ever Championship Series event, nerves were apparently not an issue for Cloud as he went on to defeat ELM and all of his fellow Europeans to claim first place.
Cloud’s use of Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu is no surprise, but another Support Set that both Cloud and Mewtater utilize is Croagunk & Sylveon. This versatile Support Set provides access to Sylveon’s healing and Defense boost capabilities, as well as Croagunk’s ability to lower the opponent’s Defense.
Niklas “Wingtide” Laerbusch
Also known as Boonshack73, DefenderOfEU, and probably a slew of other names, Wingtide has consistently been one of Europe's strongest competitors throughout the life of Pokkén Tournament DX. In addition to qualifying for both this World Championships and the previous Worlds back in 2019, Wingtide also won 2020’s Pokémon Players Cup Invitational. Outside of official Play! Pokémon events, Wingtide earned impressive first-place finishes at events like Winter Brawl 3D, Frosty Faustings XI, and NEC 19.
Fans can expect explosive, adrenaline-pumping battles whenever this Machamp master takes the stage. Wingtide’s other Battle Pokémon and his Support Set are common picks, but when it comes to Cheer Skills, he likes to roll the dice with Whimsical.
Fabian “Fabilous” Zahn
Fabilous qualified via a fourth-place finish at EUIC under the alias “DragonFighter97.” He’s qualified for multiple Play! Pokémon global finals and has performed impressively at community events, like when he clinched first place in both the Basic Battle and Team Battle brackets at Thermodynamic Throwdown.
Fabilous is likely the only qualifier who will be bringing Blaziken to his matches during this year’s Worlds. The Fire-type Pokémon from Hoenn has some significant weaknesses that can be exploited by experienced opponents, but you wouldn’t know it from watching Fabilous in his element. This Pokémon can deal massive damage at the cost of some of its own HP, making Eevee an excellent Support choice, as it can heal Blaziken and increase that damage output even further.
Darren “DualDEATHLucario” Brown
The 2022 Pokémon World Championships will mark DualDEATHLucario’s first appearance in the Play! Pokémon global finals, as well as one of his first appearances at an event taking place in North America. At this year’s EUIC, DualDEATHLucario unfortunately finished just outside of the Top 4 qualifying spots. However, since ELM finished in second and had already qualified, the two fifth-place finishers got to compete for Europe’s final qualifying spot. It was during that heated battle that DualDEATHLucario came out on top.
DualDEATHLucario’s go-to team consists of Lucario, Mewtwo, and Shadow Mewtwo. These Pokémon don’t suffer too severely from bad luck with the Whimsical Cheer Skill (especially with Eevee’s Helping Hand), while good luck can be a complete game changer.
Chaz “Mewtater” Wright
In our preview of the North America International Championships, we said that Mewtater might have been the single hardest-training competitor going into the event. His training clearly paid off as he plowed through the Winners side of the bracket before securing victory in some close battles in the Winners Finals and Grand Finals to keep his title of NAIC Champion.
Mewtater’s team consists of Decidueye, Aegislash, and his signature Mewtwo, and like Cloud, he’s a fan of the Croagunk & Sylveon Support Set. Mewtater stated during his first-place interview that one of his motivations for training so hard was specifically to meet Cloud at Worlds, so be sure to keep an eye out for this possible matchup between training partners.
Jacob “Jukem” Waller
If you’ve been following Pokkén Tournament news on Pokemon.com, Jukem should need no introduction. The Pokémon Players Cup III and 2018 World Champion has wins over many of this year’s other qualifiers, though his 2019 Worlds appearance was cut short when he was eliminated by two of Japan’s qualifiers.
Jukem will be one of the only Trainers at Worlds using Sceptile and Empoleon, as well as the Snivy & Lapras Support Set. Sceptile is practically synonymous with Jukem, but his Empoleon and Lucario are still capable of wiping out entire teams all on their own.
Anthony “Rokso” Paratore
Rokso’s fourth-place finish at NAIC secured him a qualifying spot after he defeated the likes of Marx and Cameron “A_Wild_G” Baughman before eventually falling to Jukem and ELM in the Top 8. Many were thrilled to see Rokso qualify, and for good reason: he’s extremely fun to watch and a pillar within the community.
For the most part, we can expect a similar lineup to the one that brought Rokso success at NAIC. One key difference is that Rokso has largely replaced his Lucario with Charizard—a Pokémon that can really take advantage of both Mismagius and Ninetales. Players will commonly block or counter against these Support Pokémon, which leaves them vulnerable to Charizard’s devastating Seismic Toss command grab.
Miles “Marx” Brooks
This Aegislash specialist has made Top 8 appearances at some major events and pulled off tournament wins against pros like Allister “ALLISTER” Singh and Labib “slippingbug” Haq. Marx’s NAIC run ended at fifth place after he was defeated by Rokso and ELM, but just like with DualDEATHLucario, the fifth-place finishers had the opportunity to compete for ELM’s spot thanks to his existing qualification.
Depending on the matchup, Marx may call on Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu or Mismagius & Ninetales for support. If he’s using Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu, expect to see him select the Special Cheer Skill, whereas he’ll likely opt for Standard when using Mismagius & Ninetales.
Other Trends to Watch For
Popular Pokémon Going into Worlds
You may have noticed a few trends while reading about each of the Masters Division qualifiers. For example: Decidueye, the Special Cheer Skill, and the Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu Support Set will likely be used by five Trainers, while Pikachu Libre will likely be used by more than half of them. None of these picks are particularly surprising, as they’re all popular options in Pokkén Tournament DX’s current meta, but it’s certainly worth noting.
Pikachu Libre has always been popular in Team Battles thanks to its powerful combos, ability to inflict speed debuffs, and fast-charging Synergy Gauge. Decidueye has also been considered a strong fighter for quite some time now, though it’s possible that Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu’s rise in popularity has played a role in this Battle Pokémon seeing more use. Mega Rayquaza deals a substantial amount of damage, while Mimikyu can deal damage and debuffs as well as help its Trainer escape high-pressure scenarios, making Decidueye’s unique ability to temporarily lock its opponent’s Support Gauge with Spirit Shackle an extremely useful countermeasure.
Hard Work Pays Off
You could reasonably assume that many Trainers may be a bit out of practice after the 2020 and 2021 Championship Series were canceled. On the contrary—competitors have been training harder than ever for this final season. Everyone knows this is their last shot at becoming a World Champion, and that fact has these qualifiers—as well as those planning to attend the LCQ—more motivated than ever.
To prepare, some top competitors from Europe and North America have set up a dedicated online training group. Wingtide, Cloud, Mewtater, Jukem, Marx, and Rokso were all actively training in this group prior to qualifying at this year’s International Championships. Like many fighting games, Pokkén Tournament DX is a game where anyone willing to put in the time can go far, and this year’s qualifiers have proven that without a doubt.
What to Expect From the Last Chance Qualifier
Those who haven’t yet qualified have one remaining opportunity to participate in Pokkén Tournament’s final World Championships. The Last Chance Qualifier will take place Thursday, August 18, 2022, at the 2022 Pokémon World Championships venue in London, and will decide all of the remaining qualifiers. The LCQ is always one of the most stacked tournaments each year, but that description doesn’t begin to cut it this year—2022’s LCQ might just be the single most difficult qualifier in the history of Pokkén Tournament. If a Trainer has been putting in the work and holds nothing back, they could go on to not only qualify for Worlds, but possibly even become the title’s final World Champion.
Registration is still open, so while the full lineup of LCQ entrants has yet to solidify, we know one Trainer who’s guaranteed to play: Davon “Shadowcat” Amos-Hall. Shadowcat wasn’t able to attend NAIC, and initially wasn’t sure he’d be able to attend the LCQ either. Luckily, fellow competitor Patrick “Euclase” Neumann set up a community fundraiser, which soared to its donation goal within two days. Their efforts made it clear that they genuinely didn’t want the Pokémon Players Cup Champion to be absent from the final World Championships—an incredible testament to the strength of the Pokkén Tournament community.
It’s almost time for Pokkén Tournament’s sixth and final Worlds appearance. So many unforgettable memories have been made throughout the years—both on and off the battlefield—and we can’t wait to see what happens this August. With the final World Championship crown on the line, as well as a $20,000 prize pool for the Masters Division, this event is one that no one will want to miss.
Be sure to tune in to Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament to watch the event live, starting with the Last Chance Qualifier on August 18!