Pokémon Players Cup IV Video Game Global Finals Preview

Take a closer look at the top teams and the players that will take them to battle this weekend.

By Contributing Writer Aaron Zheng

This weekend, the Pokémon Players Cup IV Video Game Global Finals will reach its epic conclusion! After advancing through several intense phases of competition, 15 of the best Pokémon video game players from around the world will be competing for the title of Players Cup IV Champion. Here are our finalists:

Europe: Leonardo Bonanomi, Antonio Sanchez Cervan, Fevzi Özkan, Kevin Salvetto
Latin America: Jonathan Barradas, Israel Suaste Guendu, Renzo Navarro, Felipe Silva
North America: James Baek, Leonard Craft III, Enrique Grimaldo, Nick Sefranek
Oceania: Luke Iuele, Ben Madigan, Alexander Poole

Just like the previous Pokémon Players Cup Global Finals, they will be playing in a double-elimination tournament. Players will also be given their opponent's team lists (without stats) before each match, granting them knowledge of what items their opponents' Pokémon are carrying and what moves they were taught.

While the first three Pokémon Players Cup tournaments used brand new rulesets, this Global Finals will use the Ranked Battles Series 9 rules, which is exactly the same as Ranked Battles Series 7. This format has had more time to develop and evolve, and it'll be fun to see what comes out on top. Will old strategies from Series 7 continue to dominate, or will players be able to innovate and come up with new ideas? Only time will tell!

There's also more at stake for this Global Finals! This will be the first Pokémon Players Cup with cash prizes. Our finalists will compete for a $20,000 prize pool, with first place taking home $5,000. In addition, the highest-ranking players from each of the four regions participating in the Global Finals will be invited to the Pokémon Global Exhibition, an eight-person invitational tournament taking place this October. With so much on the line, this will undoubtedly be an amazing tournament.

To help you get ready for the Global Finals, let's dive into some of the top-performing teams, Pokémon, and strategies from the Region Qualifiers. As a reminder, you can tune into all the action live at Twitch.tv/Pokemon or YouTube.com/Pokemon starting July 30, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. PDT!


Standout Teams

Let's first look at some top teams and strategies from the Region Online Qualifiers. As a reminder, the finalists are allowed to switch up their team between the Region Qualifiers and Global Finals. However, we've seen many players stick to their qualifying teams during the previous Pokémon Players Cups. These teams should give us a good sneak peek of what we might see this weekend.


  • Registeel
    Incineroar
    Thundurus
    Blastoise
    Rillaboom
    Landorus
    Fevzi Özkan: Europe
Registeel
Incineroar
Thundurus
Blastoise
Rillaboom
Landorus
Moves:
  • Body Press
  • Iron Defense
  • Sand Tomb
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Leftovers
Ability:
  • Clear Body
Moves:
  • Flare Blitz
  • Fake Out
  • Taunt
  • Parting Shot
Held Item:
  • Shuca Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Eerie Impulse
  • Thunder Wave
  • Taunt
Held Item:
  • Sitrus Berry
Ability:
  • Prankster
Moves:
  • Hydro Cannon
  • Ice Beam
  • Yawn
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Wacan Berry
Ability:
  • Torrent
Moves:
  • Grassy Glide
  • Wood Hammer
  • Fake Out
  • U-turn
Held Item:
  • Assault Vest
Ability:
  • Grassy Surge
Moves:
  • Earthquake
  • Fly
  • Rock Slide
  • Swords Dance
Held Item:
  • White Herb
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Hide Details Show Details

Fevzi Özkan's team features Gigantamax Blastoise and Registeel, two Pokémon that are much more popular now than during the format's first run in Ranked Battles Series 7. The team generally revolves around Gigantamax Blastoise or Dynamaxing Therian Forme Landorus, with Registeel serving as a strong late-game option to close. Blastoise is an excellent partner with Registeel, as Blastoise can easily beat Pokémon that normally hit Registeel for supereffective damage, such as Garchomp, Heat Rotom, opposing Therian Forme Landorus, and Coalossal. It is very difficult to knock out Registeel in the late game without supereffective damage, and Fevzi's team makes it hard to conserve Pokémon that could easily knock out Registeel.

Fevzi also opted to go defensive via Thundurus with Prankster, armed with the impactful support moves Eerie Impulse, Taunt, and Thunder Wave. This style of Thundurus was first popularized by Ray Rizzo's 2011 World Championship winning team and was in vogue for several years afterward. When Thundurus was reintroduced in the Galar region, most players first used it offensively as a Dynamax option, but in recent weeks, many players have shifted back to using Thundurus defensively. Eerie Impulse is particularly helpful against special attackers like Venusaur and Regieleki, which threaten Blastoise with supereffective damage.

Beyond Thundurus, Fevzi's team also had several uncommon strategies, such as Blastoise knowing Yawn and holding a Wacan Berry, Therian Forme Landorus knowing Swords Dance and holding a White Herb, and Registeel knowing Sand Tomb. Yawn on Blastoise makes it a potential support Pokémon, making it useful even when Fevzi doesn't want to Gigantamax Blastoise. White Herb on Landorus is incredibly helpful against Incineroar—it can undo the Attack drop from Intimidate, allowing Landorus to get a one-hit knockout with Max Quake. Finally, Sand Tomb on Registeel allows it to trap opposing Pokémon and helps Registeel damage Pokémon that it otherwise can't hit with Body Press.


  • Torkoal
    Hatterene
    Indeedee
    Urshifu
    Thundurus
    Charizard
    Jonathan Barradas: Latin America
Torkoal
Hatterene
Indeedee
Urshifu
Thundurus
Charizard
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Burning Jealousy
  • Earth Power
  • Eruption
Held Item:
  • Charcoal
Ability:
  • Drought
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Trick Room
  • Expanding Force
  • Dazzling Gleam
Held Item:
  • Twisted Spoon
Ability:
  • Magic Bounce
Moves:
  • Hyper Voice
  • Expanding Force
  • Follow Me
  • Helping Hand
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Psychic Surge
Moves:
  • Wicked Blow
  • Close Combat
  • Sucker Punch
  • Poison Jab
Held Item:
  • Choice Band
Ability:
  • Unseen Fist
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Wild Charge
  • Fly
  • Brick Break
Held Item:
  • Life Orb
Ability:
  • Defiant
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Blast Burn
  • Scorching Sands
  • Air Slash
Held Item:
  • Safety Goggles
Ability:
  • Solar Power
Hide Details Show Details

Jonathan Barradas's team comes in pairs of two, utilizing Hatterene with Indeedee, Thundurus with Urshifu, and Charizard with Torkoal. While these once-popular duos don't have to be used together, they synergize incredibly well when out on the field at the same time.

Hatterene and Indeedee still make an incredibly strong Trick Room duo. Indeedee is the perfect partner for Hatterene, as it sets up Psychic Terrain, preventing Hatterene from getting hit by Fake Out. It can also redirect any potential damage away from Hatterene with Follow Me. The combination of the Focus Sash held item and Follow Me on Indeedee makes it nearly impossible to prevent Hatterene from successfully using Trick Room when these two Pokémon are led.

Moving on to the second pair, Thundurus and Urshifu quickly picked up popularity in early Series 7 as a strong hyper-offense core. Both Pokémon have great Attack stats and are relatively fast. Thundurus can also increase Urshifu's Speed by using Max Airstream when Dynamaxed, allowing Urshifu to outspeed almost any Pokémon. Jonathan's Urshifu carried a Choice Band, further increasing its damage output.

Finally, Charizard and Torkoal are two of the strongest Fire-type Pokémon in the format. Torkoal can set up harsh sunlight via its Drought Ability, and Charizard does more damage in harsh sunlight thanks to its Solar Power Ability. One thing to note is that Jonathan opted for Safety Goggles on his Charizard, allowing it to easily counter Pokémon like Venusaur and Amoonguss.


  • Moltres
    Metagross
    Raikou
    Whimsicott
    Incineroar
    Tapu Fini
    Nick Sefranek: North America
Moltres
Metagross
Raikou
Whimsicott
Incineroar
Tapu Fini
Moves:
  • Fiery Wrath
  • Air Slash
  • Nasty Plot
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Life Orb
Ability:
  • Berserk
Moves:
  • Iron Head
  • Stomping Tantrum
  • Ice Punch
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Weakness Policy
Ability:
  • Clear Body
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Bulldoze
  • Snarl
  • Scald
Held Item:
  • Assault Vest
Ability:
  • Inner Focus
Moves:
  • Tailwind
  • Moonblast
  • Taunt
  • Fake Tears
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Prankster
Moves:
  • Fake Out
  • Flare Blitz
  • Parting Shot
  • Taunt
Held Item:
  • Shuca Berry
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Moves:
  • Moonblast
  • Muddy Water
  • Calm Mind
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Leftovers
Ability:
  • Misty Surge
Hide Details Show Details

Nick Sefranek was the only player to use Raikou in the Pokémon Players Cup Region Qualifiers and ended up making it to the Global Finals! Raikou is not seen very frequently in Series 9, but it is one of the fastest Pokémon in the format and it can learn some moves few other Electric types can. It also gets access to Inner Focus, preventing it from flinching because of Fake Out.

Nick taught Bulldoze to Raikou and paired it with Metagross holding a Weakness Policy. Bulldoze not only activates Metagross's Weakness Policy, it also slows down opposing Pokémon, while Metagross's own Speed stays the same thanks to its Clear Body Ability. The combination of Raikou and Metagross is an incredibly effective lead combination that can punish opposing teams heavily right from the first turn, thanks to the offensive pressure that a boosted Metagross offers.

Nick was also the only player to qualify for the Global Finals with Whimsicott. Whimsicott has been a popular pick in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield battles, but has traditionally underperformed in the Pokémon Players Cup. Nick's Whimsicott notably ran Fake Tears, which sharply lowers the Special Defense of its target, enabling Galarian Moltres, Raikou, and Tapu Fini to do more damage with their special attacks.


  • Torkoal
    Togekiss
    Stakataka
    Venusaur
    Porygon2
    Urshifu
    Alexander Poole: Oceania
Torkoal
Togekiss
Stakataka
Venusaur
Porygon2
Urshifu
Moves:
  • Protect
  • Eruption
  • Burning Jealousy
  • Earth Power
Held Item:
  • Charcoal
Ability:
  • Drought
Moves:
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Air Slash
  • Follow Me
  • Protect
Held Item:
  • Scope Lens
Ability:
  • Super Luck
Moves:
  • Gyro Ball
  • Rock Slide
  • Trick Room
  • Body Press
Held Item:
  • Life Orb
Ability:
  • Beast Boost
Moves:
  • Sludge Bomb
  • Frenzy Plant
  • Sleep Powder
  • Earth Power
Held Item:
  • Coba Berry
Ability:
  • Chlorophyll
Moves:
  • Tri Attack
  • Ice Beam
  • Recover
  • Trick Room
Held Item:
  • Eviolite
Ability:
  • Download
Moves:
  • Wicked Blow
  • Close Combat
  • Sucker Punch
  • Detect
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Unseen Fist
Hide Details Show Details

Alexander went undefeated throughout the Oceania Region Qualifiers to advance to the Global Finals, utilizing both harsh sunlight and Trick Room on his team. His team is incredibly flexible in a best-of-three match, as the harsh sunlight mode and Trick Room mode play very differently from each other. His team also has multiple Dynamax threats—Venusaur, Togekiss, and Stakataka are the main Dynamaxing options, but any of his Pokémon can Dynamax in the right situation.

Alexander's team features both Venusaur and Porygon2, which is a very consistent lead combination with a ton of flexibility on turn one. For example, you can switch out Porygon2 with Torkoal to set up harsh sunlight, doubling Venusaur's Speed, or you can switch out Venusaur with something slower while Porygon2 sets up Trick Room. It's very difficult to consistently cover all options that this lead offers at the start of the game.

Some sets that stand out on Alexander's team include Togekiss holding a Scope Lens and Stakataka holding a Life Orb. Togekiss was one of the most popular Pokémon when Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield launched, but the Isle of Armor and Crown Tundra expansions introduced several Pokémon that are strong against it, such as Incarnate Forme Thundurus, Therian Forme Landorus, Regieleki, and Glastrier, thus decreasing its popularity. It has made a slight comeback towards the end of Ranked Battles Series 9, and Alexander's Togekiss can be used as a redirection user to help set up Trick Room or a fast Dynamax option against teams that lack strong answers to it.


Highlight Pokémon

Since Ranked Battles Series 7, the metagame has evolved and a few different Pokémon have risen to prominence. The first is Registeel, which was on five of the 16 qualifying teams. Registeel's strength lies in its incredible defensive stats, making it remarkably difficult to knock out. It also gets access to both Amnesia and Iron Defense, allowing it to further increase its survivability. It can often close out games through the combination of Body Press and Iron Defense, so opposing players must be extra careful in preventing Registeel from getting set up.

Another Pokémon that has increased in popularity is Gigantamax Blastoise. It is often given a Life Orb, which allows it to maximize its damage output, or a Wacan Berry, which we highlighted earlier on Fevzi Özkan's qualifying team. In addition to being one of the strongest Water-type Pokémon in the format, Blastoise also has its signature Gigantamax attack, G-Max Cannonade, allowing it to deal damage to both opponents over four turns.

Other notable picks that have increased in popularity in Ranked Battles Series 9 include Garchomp and Celesteela. Both match up well against some of the most common Pokémon. Garchomp, for example, is an excellent answer into Coalossal (which won the Pokémon Players Cup II) as well as Torkoal, Incineroar, and Regieleki. Celesteela, on the other hand, has shifted away from the defensive Leech Seed set that it was initially known for—many players now run it holding an Assault Vest, Life Orb, or Power Herb and aim to Dynamax it.

Of course, many staples from Series 7 continue to be top picks in Series 9. Popular offensive options you should expect to see this weekend include Venusaur, Galarian Moltres, Therian Forme Landorus, Tapu Fini, Coalossal, Urshifu, Regieleki, Glastrier, and Spectrier. Expect these Pokémon to be supported by Pokémon such as Clefairy, Porygon2, Amoonguss, Incineroar, Rillaboom, Grimmsnarl, and Indeedee.

Finally, some Pokémon that could potentially be strong anti-meta choices this weekend include Mamoswine, Regirock, and Regidrago. Mamoswine in particular matches up well against many popular Pokémon such as Galarian Moltres, Landorus, Incineroar, and Regieleki. It also completely ignores the common Intimidate Ability thanks to the Oblivious Ability.


General Strategies to Watch For


Setup

Setup-oriented strategies continue to be a dominant force in Ranked Battles Series 9, with Pokémon like Galarian Moltres knowing Nasty Plot, Therian Forme Landorus knowing Swords Dance, and Tapu Fini knowing Calm Mind leading the charge. The one new setup Pokémon that has appeared since Series 7 is Registeel, highlighted above.

Weakness Policy continues to be a staple item, with Dynamax making it a lot easier to survive supereffective damage. We'll likely see familiar faces such as Venusaur, Galarian Moltres, Metagross, Coalossal, and Glastrier hold it in the finals. This could be our last time seeing the item used as often as it is, since the Ranked Battles Series 10 ruleset bans Dynamaxing, so get ready to say goodbye.


Trick Room

Trick Room is still a staple for many teams in the format. In fact, half of the qualifying teams had at least one Pokémon with Trick Room on it. The Oceania region really favored Trick Room, with all three qualifying players running it on their respective teams.

These teams rarely rely just on Trick Room. For teams that have Torkoal on it, you will also often see Venusaur, which can take advantage of harsh sunlight thanks to its Chlorophyll Ability. This creates a fast-damage mode in conjunction with the Trick Room mode. Alexander Poole's qualifying team is the perfect example of a team that utilizes both Trick Room and harsh sunlight well.


Hyper Offense

We've seen some new hyper-offense strategies pop up towards the end of Ranked Battles Series 7 and the beginning of Ranked Battles Series 9. One example is the duo of Gothitelle and Dynamax Regieleki. Regieleki was initially not seen as a major Dynamax threat because of its poor type coverage and poor defensive stats, but Gothitelle pairs with it perfectly. Gothitelle traps opponents using Shadow Tag and prevents them from switching out for a Pokémon that can take Regieleki's Electric-type attacks.

Traditional hyper-offense strategies often revolve around Pokémon that can pick up knockouts before their opponent can move. The combination of Thundurus and Urshifu was one of the most popular hyper-offense duos in Series 7, and Jonathan Barradas demonstrated that with his qualifying team, which is still a force to be reckoned with.


Concluding Thoughts

While the Pokémon Players Cup IV Global Finals will use the same ruleset as the Pokémon Players Cup II Global Finals, the format has evolved significantly. I'm eager to see if any brand-new Pokémon or strategies will take home the crown this time around. Blastoise and Registeel in particular had very impressive showings throughout the Region Finals and will likely continue to be top picks going into the Global Finals. Another interesting development is how Regieleki has turned into a major Dynamax threat—few players looked to Dynamax it back in Ranked Battles Series 7, but many have now realized just how strong of a Dynamax option it can be, especially with the right support (like Gothitelle) next to it.

I'm also curious to see how Coalossal performs in this tournament. After all, it did win Pokémon Players Cup II. I expect a few players to bring it to the Global Finals, but I think it will have a slightly tougher time in the tournament with the rise of Pokémon like Blastoise and Garchomp, as well as Therian Forme Landorus being as popular as ever.

The Pokémon Players Cup Global Finals is where players can really make a name for themselves, and I cannot wait to see who comes out on top as we give this ruleset a proper send-off. The highest-ranking players from each of the four regions will also qualify for the Pokémon Global Exhibition this October, so the stakes are higher than ever. Don't forget to tune into all the action live at Twitch.tv/Pokemon or YouTube.com/Pokemon starting July 30, 2021. Best of luck, Trainers!


About the Writer

Aaron Zheng
Aaron is a VGC competitor, commentator, and content creator. He has been competing in the Video Game Championships since 2008. Since then, he's won five Regional Championships and two National Championships. He has also qualified for eight World Championships and placed third at the 2013 World Championships. In more recent years, Aaron has been focused on creating online content. He joined the live commentary team for VGC streams in 2016. Outside of Pokémon, Aaron is completing two undergraduate degrees in Economics and Applied Mathematics.

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