Learn more about this who's who of top-tier Pokémon TCG players battling in the upcoming tournament.
TCG Players Cup 25th Anniversary Invitational brings together some of the
greatest current Pokémon TCG players for a weekend of incredible matches! The
remarkable lineup of competitors includes former World Champions as well as recent
Players Cup Champions.
Read on to learn more about each individual, and then be sure to watch the action August 13–15 on Twitch.tv/Pokemon!
Players Cup I Champion
When there's a new kind of event, the first champion always
stands out as the one who made history: Tsuguyoshi Yamato winning the first
World Championships in 2004, Michael Pramawat winning the first International
Championships in 2016, and so on. And when the Pokémon Players Cup was
introduced in 2020, the player to win it all—in dominating fashion—was Natalie
Millar. With a perfect metagame call for the event, Natalie crushed the
competition with a defensive Metal-type deck that was coined as “The Safe”: Lucario & Melmetal-GX and
Zacian V. She didn't
just win; she won every match and all 10 games she played, resulting in an
emphatic and memorable victory.
Players Cup I might have been the major breakout performance
for Natalie, but she had plenty of strong finishes before that, including an 8th-place
finish at the Oceania International Championships and several Top 8 finishes at
Regional Championships. Will we see another legendary run from this Australian
player in the Players Cup 25th Anniversary Invitational?
Players Cup II Champion
Zach Lesage is a longtime player from Canada who has been
competing in events for over a decade. His run through Players Cup II with Pikachu & Zekrom-GX was
extremely impressive, battling back through the losers bracket after taking an
early loss in the tournament. But this is just one of many accomplishments
throughout his career. His other notable victory was at a Regional Championships
in 2019 that had over 1,000 players competing, where he won with Blacephalon-GX—a deck that
Zach himself had said was no longer competitively viable.
Recently Zach has had some big finishes at International
Championships, including 2nd place at the Oceania International Championships
and Top 8 at the Latin America International Championships. There's no question
that he has what it takes to compete at the highest level. Don't be surprised
if Zach Lesage makes another big run at the Players Cup 25th Anniversary
Azul Garcia Griego
Players Cup III Champion
Perhaps the most well-known player in this event, Azul
Garcia Griego is one of the top players and personalities in the Pokémon TCG
today. Whether it's at the top tables of a tournament or with his “rat pack” on
his stream, Azul is everywhere in the Pokémon TCG scene. Over the past 10
years, he has several Regional Championships victories, multiple Top 8 finishes
at International Championships (including a 2nd-place finish at Latin America
Internationals), and thousands of Championship Points to his name. Recently he
added another major win to his résumé: a victory at Players Cup III with Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX.
Azul has been extremely active over the past few years,
participating in online events weekly or sometimes daily. There aren't many people
in the world right now who are playing as frequently as he is, and that
practice will keep him prepared for the Players Cup 25th Anniversary
Invitational. Azul is willing to play any kind of deck if he thinks it will
give him the best chance to win, which makes him unpredictable in a tournament
setting. He could be playing the most popular deck, or he could be playing a
brand-new invention. But there's one thing you can count on: Azul is one of the
favorites to win any tournament he's in.
Players Cup IV Champion
The Schemanske family has been a big name in the Pokémon TCG
community over the past decade. Christopher was a top player, now a dedicated
Professor and frequent
writer here at Pokemon.com. Diane is a renowned player, competing in events
all around the world. But with a victory in Players Cup IV with Rapid Strike Urshifu VMAX / Inteleon, now Alex is (deservedly)
in the spotlight.
For much of his career, Alex Schemanske constantly fell
short of the big win. He had a Top 8 finish at the Latin America International
Championships, countless Top 8 and Top 4 finishes at Regional Championships,
and a heartbreaking three different 2nd-place finishes at Regional
Championships. It almost seemed like the Schemanske family was cursed to never
win a big event. Alex finally broke through with a victory at Players Cup IV,
putting that curse behind him. With a win in the same format already under his
belt, Alex has all the momentum heading into the Players Cup 25th Anniversary
Invitational. Will he continue his hot streak?
2019 Masters Division World Champion
For the first time in the history of the Pokémon TCG World
Championships, in 2019 there was a Standard format rotation immediately before
the event. The players who could figure out the best strategies in this
untested, unknown environment would be rewarded greatly. The player who did it
best was Australia's Henry Brand, winning the event with a Mewtwo & Mew-GX deck
and setting the tone for what decks would look like in the year to come.
The World Championships victory was the culmination of Henry's
great season leading up to that point. In 2019 he became the first Masters
Division player from the Oceania region to make Top 8 at the Oceania
International Championships, and then he took 1st- and 2nd-place finishes at
Regional Championships shortly after that. The sign of a great champion is
continued success, and Henry kept showing his mastery with Mewtwo & Mew-GX
by winning another Regional Championships in 2020. With the rotation
approaching in September, the Players Cup 25th Anniversary Invitational could
be Henry's last chance to use his trusty TAG TEAM in a Standard format event.
Will he bring it for one last ride, or will he surprise everyone with something
2018 Masters Division World Champion
A player who loves his Town Map,
Robin Schulz is known as one of the best players in the world, winning the 2018
World Championships Masters Division with a Zoroark-GX
/ Garbodor deck.
He followed that up in late 2019 with another huge victory at the Latin America
International Championship, becoming the first player to win both Worlds and
Internationals in the Masters Division.
Robin's contributions to the Pokémon TCG community are just
as spectacular as his accomplishments in the game. When he's not writing
articles for Pokemon.com, he's organizing online tournaments, compiling
tournament results, and making helpful tools for players to use. His efforts
with the Limitless TCG group gave players an outlet to compete in events when
in-person events shut down. It's hard to describe just how much good he has done
for the Pokémon TCG community. But Robin is also a fierce competitor who will
be aiming for 1st place in this event.
2017 Masters Division World Champion
A longtime veteran of the Pokémon TCG, Diego Cassiraga has
been competing at the World Championships for over 15 years. Diego is instantly
recognizable from his huge smile and, of course, his iconic beanie hat. But
when the competition starts, the fun and jovial guy quickly shifts to a
hyper-focused competitor. And in 2017, Diego played near-flawlessly to achieve
his dream and win the World Championships with Gardevoir-GX.
It was a feel-good story that ended with a dedicated, determined player rising
to the top.
What a lot of people didn't know was that Diego already had
a lot of accomplishments to his name before the big win in 2017: a Regional
Championships victory that same year, two Top 8 finishes at the World
Championships, and more. And after winning Worlds, he followed up in 2019 with
a Top 4 finish at the North America International Championships. Diego
continues to be one of the top competitors in the Pokémon TCG, even making it
to the Global Finals for Players Cup II. Diego tends to play whatever is considered
the strongest deck at the time rather than making bold metagame calls, but his
excellent play sets him apart from the rest of the pack.
2011 Junior Division World Champion
Sometimes players who find success in younger age divisions
can struggle when they reach the Masters Division, but that's clearly not the
case for Gustavo Wada. After winning the World Championships in the Junior
Division in 2011 with a Yanmega Prime
/ Magnezone Prime deck,
Gustavo has racked up an incredible number of accomplishments in the Masters
Division. Just to list a few: 2019 Europe International Champion, 2016 Worlds Top
8, and three additional Top 8 finishes at International Championships. And he's
done it all over the world.
If you've been to a large event in the past five years,
there's a good chance you've seen Gustavo: he travels to a lot of events, and
he wins a lot. He's consistently one of the top ranked players in the world,
and in the 2019 season he earned 2,570 Championship Points—more than 10 times
the number he needed to qualify for the World Championships that year. You
won't find many players who play the Pokémon TCG at a high level as frequently
and as consistency as Gustavo Wada. One thing is for sure: Gustavo will come to
this event prepared to win.
Good luck to all these incredible Pokémon TCG competitors, and don't miss the exciting action August 13–15 on Twitch.tv/Pokemon!