Check out the top players and Pokémon ahead of a packed weekend of top-tier fighting action.
By Jesse Turnbull, Contributing Writer
Shortly after fans were treated to the Pokémon Players Cup IV's thrilling Region Finals, we're now primed to watch the exciting Global Finals. The Pokkén Tournament DX Global Finals will play out at Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament on July 31, 2021, and at Twitch.tv/Pokemon on August 1, 2021. On top of trophies and bragging rights like with past Pokémon Players Cup competitions, these finalists will now also be fighting to increase their share of the $5,000 prize pool that's up for grabs. Eight talented individuals have made it to this point, of whom only two have made Pokémon Players Cup Global Finals appearances previously.
North America: Davon “Shadowcat” Amos-Hall, Milton “PuppyHavoc” Castillo, Richard “Wise” Rennehan, Dawson “TEC” Trepanier
Europe: Adam “Niet” Haskell, Sandy “Kira” Pallazzoni, Kira “Kira” Péniquaud
Oceania: Frederick “Santa” Seidl
Before the matches begin, let's take a look at each of these players and how they got here. A few of these Trainers did not appear in the broadcasts for previous Pokémon Players Cups, so you may be seeing some competitors in action for the first time. Each of these individuals specializes in a different Battle Pokémon, so much like the Region Finals, the Global Finals will feature some unique matchups. With such a diverse roster of players—and after a number of upsets, close calls, and unforgettable moments during the Region Qualifiers—viewers are in for what is sure to be an incredible finale.
Setting the Stage
Going into the Pokémon Players Cup IV, one of the biggest questions was if Shadowcat and Jacob “Jukem” Waller would once again face off in the Grand Finals—and if they did, who would win the tiebreaker. Both of Pokkén Tournament DX's previous Pokémon Players Cup appearances have featured these two competitors in the Grand Finals, with Shadowcat winning the first Pokémon Players Cup and Jukem coming out on top in the Pokémon Players Cup III. The two did meet again this time around, but not at the point in the bracket that many expected.
In their first Pokémon Players Cup encounter, Shadowcat used the Mythical Pokémon Darkrai exclusively, while Jukem stuck with his Sceptile. There, Shadowcat was able to defeat Jukem, who was coming from the Losers side of the bracket, with a score of 3–2 in the Grand Finals. Things went differently in the Pokémon Players Cup III, where Jukem once again came from the Losers side but managed to overcome Shadowcat by winning six of their nine Grand Finals matches. Jukem's Empoleon gave Shadowcat and his Braixen some trouble before the latter sent out Darkrai, to which Jukem responded with his Sceptile. With these previous Pokémon Players Cup outcomes in mind, it would not be especially bold to predict the two might once again meet in the Grand Finals for the Pokémon Players Cup IV.
The Day 1 Region Finals broadcast kicked off in a shocking manner, with Jukem already in the Losers side after falling to Kamaal “Kamaal” Harris. This wasn't the only surprise of the broadcast, either, as the third match of the day featured Shadowcat going up against Wise. Despite Shadowcat having plenty of matchup experience (thanks in no small part to his many tournament encounters with Jukem), Wise and his Sceptile were able to come out on top, winning the set two games to zero. Some have debated in the past whether or not Wise was Canada's number-one competitor, but it would be difficult for anyone to deny him that title after this win, making Wise the only Canadian Pokkén Tournament DX player to date to qualify for a Pokémon Players Cup Global Finals.
Because of these unexpected losses in Winners, Jukem and Shadowcat ended up in a situation where one would need to eliminate the other well before qualifying for the Global Finals. Like in the Pokémon Players Cup III Grand Finals, Jukem opened the set with Empoleon while Shadowcat went with Braixen. Unlike last time, however, Shadowcat got the better of Jukem in both games they played. Thanks to some stellar Braixen play and unforgiving setups with the Support Pokémon Dragonite, Shadowcat took the set 2–0, eliminating Jukem from the tournament.
With Jukem no longer in the running, Shadowcat is clearly the favorite for these Global Finals when looking solely at the previous Pokémon Players Cups. That being said, the seven other finalists are all top-tier competitors, and we've already seen Wise defeat Shadowcat once in this tournament. While Shadowcat is back in the Winners side thanks to the Global Finals being an entirely new double-elimination bracket, he'll need to be at the top of his game if he hopes to be crowned Pokémon Players Cup Champion a second time.
No, it was not a mistake when two of Europe's finalists were listed up above with the tag “Kira”—the region really does have two incredible Pokkén Tournament DX competitors who go by this alias. Those who watched either of the previous Pokémon Players Cup broadcasts will likely remember Kira Péniquaud, who hails from France, and her Pikachu Libre. Back in the first Pokémon Players Cup, Kira went on an extremely impressive run through the Losers side of the bracket (at one point defeating one of Europe's other finalists for this event, Niet). She did not appear in the Pokémon Players Cup III Global Finals, but she came very close to qualifying before losing to Cyril "Boolerex" Braud in their battle for the final European spot. Kira managed to win all of her matches in the Pokémon Players Cup IV European Qualifier, thus securing her second Global Finals appearance.
Fewer people will be familiar with Sandy Pallazzoni, the Kira from Italy, as he did not make an appearance during any of the Pokémon Players Cup III broadcasts. Italy's Kira is well-known within the Pokkén Tournament DX community for his powerful Mewtwo, and he's been netting impressive tournament results within Europe for years now. On Day 2 of the Region Finals, fans saw Italy's Kira qualify for the Global Finals by defeating Boolerex's Chandelure and Croagunk.
As with the Region Finals, France's Kira will likely be listed as “Kira FR” during the Global Finals broadcasts, while Italy's Kira will likely be listed as “Kira_A”. With both of these players qualifying, we might be treated to a Kira versus Kira matchup in the finals, depending how the bracket plays out. Something that viewers might not realize, however, is that this would also be a rematch from the Pokémon Players Cup III, where these two players battled off-stream in Losers Round 8 of the Region Finals. At the time, Kira FR managed to defeat Kira_A two games to zero and went on to face off against Boolerex to determine who would qualify for the Global Finals. Now that both players have qualified this time around, Kira_A will be looking for a shot at redemption in the most high-stakes Pokémon Players Cup yet.
New Faces Rising above Fan Favorites
Shadowcat falling to Wise and Boolerex falling to Kira_A aren't the only examples of new faces defeating previous Pokémon Players Cup Global Finalists during this event—far from it, in fact. Niet's Decidueye pulled off 2–0 victories against two of the first Pokémon Players Cup's finalists, Kira FR and Fabian “Fabilous” Zahn, in the Region Finals, while Frederick “Santa” Seidl and his Empoleon overcame Pokémon Players Cup III qualifier Alexander "IceBurgy" Berglind in both Winners Finals and Grand Finals of the Oceania competition. Finally, the Garchomp master PuppyHavoc defeated Pokémon Players Cup finalist Alexis “Deitylight” Sims, lost 2–1 to Wise, then knocked Pokémon Players Cup III finalist Allister “ALLISTER” Singh out of the tournament in the Losers side. So many players who put on a show for fans in the past have fallen to these players, making it impossible to predict who will come out on top in these Global Finals.
Several other skilled Trainers were taken out in the Pokémon Players Cup IV Region Finals, too. Kamaal (the player who sent Jukem to Losers) and Griffin “ThunderGriffin” Barboro were both sent to the Losers side by TEC, allowing the Scizor expert to qualify for the Global Finals from the Winners side of the North American bracket. Wise also qualified from the Winners side after sending both Shadowcat and PuppyHavoc to the Losers side, and this of course resulted in Shadowcat eliminating Jukem from the tournament. One of the most exciting aspects of a global Pokkén Tournament DX competition like the Pokémon Players Cup IV is that there are so many talented players with the ability to completely change the course of a bracket. All it takes to cause chaos in the Losers side of a bracket is for one player to pull off an upset in Winners, and this happened multiple times in the Region Finals, leading to a Top 8 that few could have predicted.
That said, fans should not expect a less exciting Global Finals because some of their favorites from previous events didn't qualify. While six of the eight finalists are appearing in their first Pokémon Players Cup Global Finals (and might be new faces to some viewers as a result), all eight are well-known within the Pokkén Tournament DX community as world-class competitors. TEC is one of the greatest Scizor players in the world and indisputably the best in all of North America, while Wise is Canada's strongest player and the only Canadian to be a Pokémon Players Cup Global Finalist. PuppyHavoc has been recognized as an innovator with the Support Pokémon Yveltal, as well as one of the top Garchomp players in North America for years, and Shadowcat needs no introduction as the first Pokémon Players Cup Champion and the Pokémon Players Cup III runner-up.
Looking at the European finalists, Niet has long been lauded as a Decidueye master, executing precise combos with the Pokémon in ways few even dare to try in tournament play. Those who watched the European Region Finals for the first Pokémon Players Cup will likely remember Kira FR's incredible Losers side run, where she won nine sets in a row in order to qualify for the Global Finals. Italy's Kira has been a competitive threat for years and has been getting increasingly better tournament results recently, such as his fifth-place finish in the Pokémon Players Cup III Region Finals for Europe. Finally, Santa is currently considered one of Oceania's Top 3 players, with the other two being IceBurgy and Antony "Antwerp" Di Placido—in other words, the Oceania qualifiers from the previous two Pokémon Players Cup competitions.
Yet Another Diverse Top 8
One of the most impressive aspects for the majority of Pokkén Tournament DX Top 8 listings is the variety on display, and this Global Finals is a great example. Six different countries (Australia, Canada, France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States) are being represented by the eight finalists, who each have a different main Battle Pokémon. Some of them may bring more than one Battle Pokémon to the finals, and they are all sure to have unique play styles and strategies. It truly is anyone's guess as to who will be crowned the third Pokémon Players Cup Champion for Pokkén Tournament DX on August 1, but one thing's for certain: the broadcast is sure to be an exciting way to end what has already been an unforgettable competition.
While any matchup between two of these finalists will likely result in a thrilling battle, there are a few that fans should keep an eye out for in particular. As I mentioned before, a Kira versus Kira matchup would make for a great show—both for the shared tag and the Pokémon Players Cup III rematch. And a battle featuring TEC and Santa would potentially give viewers the uncommon pairing of Scizor versus Empoleon. Rematches of Wise versus Shadowcat, Wise versus PuppyHavoc, and Niet versus Kira FR would give the chance for players to settle the score after their Region Finals matches, and that's not even mentioning the numerous times that any of these pairs of finalists have battled in other tournaments in the past. In particular, it will potentially be interesting to see if Shadowcat can adapt to Wise's Sceptile after battling Jukem's Sceptile so many times before. Which players end up facing off will ultimately depend on how the bracket plays out, and the Region Finals have already shown that anything is possible. Fans will need to tune in to see whether or not their most-anticipated pairings end up meeting in the finals.
Don't forget to catch the Pokémon Players Cup IV Global Finals at Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament on July 31, 2021, and at Twitch.tv/Pokemon on August 1, 2021, with the broadcasts starting at 11:00 a.m. PDT on both days. For the first time, this Pokémon Players Cup will feature cash prizes for finalists, meaning these eight Trainers will be battling for a bigger share of the prize pool in addition to trophies and bragging rights. Considering the higher stakes and how the Region Finals played out, this Global Finals competition is one you won't want to miss.