Day 1 Concludes in Columbus

See our takeaways from the first day of action here at the 2018 North America International Championships.

Players have just wrapped up a thrilling first day of the 2018 North America International Championships, with lots of action on both the Pokémon TCG and video game sides. The field this year is enormous, with over 2,400 competitors from more than 30 countries battling it out for precious Championship Points on the march toward the Pokémon World Championships next month. And more than 1,300 spectators crowded the Greater Columbus Convention Center to cheer on their favorite players.

The Pokémon TCG Masters and Senior Divisions got underway today; the Junior Division will begin tomorrow. On the video game side, only the Masters Division players have begun their tournament, with the Senior and Junior Divisions joining the fun tomorrow morning. The Pokkén Tournament World Championships qualifier will also take place all day Saturday.

Compared to the number of players who competed today, tomorrow's field will be drastically smaller. Only the top competitors from Day 1 get the chance to progress toward the title of North America International Champion. Additional bragging rights go to the players who earned 25 or more match points through 9 rounds of Swiss play today. They are:

Pokémon TCG Masters Division

  • Fabien Pujol (France)

  • Adam Hawkins (Great Britain)

Pokémon TCG Senior Division

  • Isaiah Bradner (United States)

Pokémon VGC Masters Division

  • Alessio Yuri Boschetto (Italy)

Congratulations to all of these players!

Pokémon TCG Takeaways

On the Pokémon TCG side, players were expecting to see a lot of Buzzwole-GX and Zoroark-GX in the field, and that prediction has held true. The two Pokémon have been duking it out for months, and the North America International Championships is no different.

But the competition hasn't been without a few surprises, the biggest of which is the rise of Malamar. Decks built around this Pokémon and its Psychic Recharge Ability have done alright in recent competitions, but you can tell that players have been searching for the perfect partner to unlock its full potential.

  • Malamar / Hoopa

Pokémon
  • 4
    Malamar
    51/131
    sm6 51
  • 4
    Inkay
    50/131
    sm6 50
  • 4
    Hoopa
    51/114
    xy11 51
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 1
    Dawn Wings Necrozma-GX
    63/138
    sm5 63
  • 1
    Marshadow-GX
    80/147
    sm3 80
  • 1
    Necrozma-GX
    63/147
    sm3 63
Energy Cards
  • 9
    Psychic Energy
    nrg1 30
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Cynthia
    sm5 119
  • 4
    Guzma
    sm3 115
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 3
    N
    xy10 105
  • 1
    Parallel City
    xy8 145
  • 4
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 4
    Mysterious Treasure
    sm6 113
  • 3
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
  • 3
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 2
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
  • 1
    Energy Switch
    sm1 117
  • 1
    Professor's Letter
    xy8 146
More Info Copy Deck List

As you can see in this deck list, players appear to have found the answer in Hoopa, a card that has suddenly been getting a lot of attention leading up to the Championships. Players can start putting damage on their opponent's Bench with Hyperspace Punch, then deliver knockout blows with Portal Strike once Malamar has loaded it up with Energy.

Malamar ran into a rough patch toward the end of the first day, but is still a deck to watch out for. How it does in Day 2 will be one of the more interesting stories of the event. Be sure to tune into Twitch.tv/PokemonTCG starting at 9 a.m. EDT to find out!

Pokémon VGC Takeaways

The first day of Pokémon VGC competition was equally compelling. The makeup of teams is pretty varied, but one composition that caught our eye features the Heel Pokémon Incineroar. When Incineroar gained the Intimidate Ability via a Pokémon Bank bonus, Trainers knew it would become a major part of many successful teams. That has held true here in Columbus, where the Fire-type Pokémon has been turning up the heat in virtually every battle. More and more Trainers are teaching Incineroar U-turn, allowing it to attack and escape battle in the same turn. Trainers can then bring it in again to trigger Intimidate a second time and lower the opposing Pokémon's Attack even further.

Incineroar has appeared with a pretty wide variety of partner Pokémon, but Trainers have especially favored including it on teams alongside a Grass-type and a Water-type. To illustrate how Incineroar fits onto a formidable team, we picked out the team list below.

  • Zapdos
    Tapu Fini
    Incineroar
    Landorus
    Amoonguss
    Metagross
    Highlighted Team
Zapdos
Tapu Fini
Incineroar
Landorus
Amoonguss
Metagross
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Tailwind
  • Roost
  • Heat Wave
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Misty Seed
Ability:
  • Pressure
Moves:
  • Moonblast
  • Muddy Water
  • Haze
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Waterium Z
Ability:
  • Misty Surge
Moves:
  • Flare Blitz
  • Knock Off
  • U-turn
  • Fake Out
Nature:
  • Careful
Held Item:
  • Figy Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Earthquake
  • U-turn
  • Rock Slide
  • Superpower
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Choice Scarf
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Energy Ball
  • Spore
  • Rage Powder
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Bold
Held Item:
  • Mental Herb
Ability:
  • Regenerator
Moves:
  • Iron Head
  • Ice Punch
  • Stomping Tantrum
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Adamant
Held Item:
  • Metagrossite
Ability:
  • Clear Body
Hide Details Show Details

All the Island Guardians have also seen play this year, but the Water-type Pokémon Tapu Fini provides a strong balance to Incineroar, so it got a lot of action on this first day. The Grass-type Amoonguss can cause all kinds of problems for foes because it's so hard to knock out thanks to a high HP and the Regenerator Hidden Ability, which restores HP when Amoonguss is switched out. With Rage Powder, Amoonguss can absorb a ton of the damage directed at its team. And Metagross continues to be popular for its powerful attacks, extra resistances, and its Clear Body Ability (prior to Mega Evolution) that prevents stat reduction. Obviously, its weakness to Dark-type and Fire-type attacks is a concern with so many Incineroar in the field, so knowing when to deploy the Iron Leg Pokémon is a sure test of a Trainer's skill.

Will Incineroar continue to torch the competition in Day 2, or will a savvy Trainer find a way to rain on its parade? Watch Twitch.tv/PokemonVGC all day tomorrow to watch the action unfold.


Congratulations to everyone who competed on Day 1 and good luck to the Trainers advancing to Day 2. Be sure to check out all four livestreams from the North America International Championships tomorrow!

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