Hundreds of the world's best players gathered in Boston to compete in the 2015 Pokémon TCG World Championships. With over $500,000 in prizes on the line, these Trainers showcased their skills and strategies over three intense days of competition. Let's go over the sights and surprises from the most prestigious tournament of the year!
On the first day of the event, a wide variety of successful decks battled it out. As usual, Seismitoad-EX was a top contender. Crobat was its most frequent sidekick to provide some extra aggression, but a few players opted to pair it with Aromatisse instead for a more defensive approach. Either way, Seismitoad-EX continued to dominate the competition using its Quaking Punch attack—just like it has for the entire season.
In response to the popularity of Seismitoad-EX, many players decided to use Primal Groudon-EX. Seismitoad decks typically rely on disruptive Trainer cards such as Hypnotoxic Laser, and the Ω Barrier Ancient Trait shuts those down completely. Once the Gaia Volcano attack gets powered up, there isn't much that Seismitoad-EX can do to stop it. And with the use of the Pokémon Tool cards Hard Charm and Focus Sash, the massive 240 HP Pokémon was a challenge for any deck to take down. It wasn't a surprise to see this deck perform well, but it was shocking to see the sheer number of players using it.
Even though the Night March deck wasn't especially successful at the US National Championships, it bounced back in a big way at the World Championships. The exact reason for this shift isn't clear. Perhaps fewer decks played Crobat, or maybe players tweaked the deck to make it faster and more consistent. Whatever the answer is, a lot of players embraced this strategy because of how quickly it could overwhelm an opponent with large amounts of damage, and it was very successful. Joltik and Pumpkaboo helped many players march on to the second day of the World Championships.
Seismitoad-EX, Primal Groudon-EX, and Night March were three of the biggest stars on the first day of Worlds, but Mega Rayquaza-EX, Mega Manectric-EX, and Raichu were successful as well. In addition, some unexpected strategies took players by surprise. Donphan, Hippowdon, and Trevenant were the centerpieces for some of the unconventional decks that players used to advance in the tournament. The playing field was quite diverse—winning players fielded more than a dozen different styles of decks.
On the second day, the landscape changed. Seismitoad-EX and Night March continued to win, but Primal Groudon-EX practically disappeared. After being one of the most popular and successful decks on the first day, not a single one made it to the Top 8 in the Masters Division. Players recognized how prevalent it was and adjusted their tactics accordingly. Primal Groudon-EX decks are slow and depend on taking two Prize cards at a time against opposing Pokémon-EX, so a good way to counter them is to swarm with a lot of quick, non-EX Pokémon. Donphan and Night March decks are great examples of this strategy, and they were a big reason behind the fall of Primal Groudon on day two.
In the Junior Division, the dominant card was Landorus-EX. When paired with Crobat, the Hammerhead attack can deal a lot of damage in a hurry. Hawlucha pummels Pokémon-EX, especially with the help of Strong Energy, Fighting Stadium, and Muscle Band. Rowan Stavenow used this trio of aggressive Pokémon to become the World Champion in the Junior Division.
For the Senior division, the big cards were Manectric-EX and Seismitoad-EX. Whether it was paired with Mega Manectric-EX or Seismitoad-EX, Manectric-EX was featured in 5 of the Top 8 decks. This Lightning-type Pokémon was a popular counter to Mega Rayquaza-EX, and it can provide big bursts of damage with the Assault Laser attack. However, it doesn't fare well against Fighting-type Pokémon, meaning the 2 Donphan decks in the Top 8 were able to thrive. But ultimately, Patrick Martinez triumphed with the popular combination of Seismitoad-EX, Manectric-EX, and Crobat. Just like we've been seeing all season, the Quaking Punch attack can take down anything—even the World Championships.
The Masters Division was extremely unpredictable—6 different decks made the Top 8. Night March and Seismitoad-EX with Crobat combined to take four of those spots, and the other four were claimed by Blastoise, Trevenant, Donphan, and a colorful Aromatisse deck. Based on the wide array of decks, it was impossible to predict which player and strategy would emerge victorious.
When 2012 World Champion Igor Costa eliminated 2013 Runner-Up Simon Narode in the Top 8, it seemed like Igor was on his way to an incredible third Finals appearance at the World Championships. However, Mees Brenninkmeijer defeated him in the Top 4 in a clash of Seismitoad-EX decks, and Mees moved on to the Finals instead. Everything was pointing towards another major tournament being won by Quaking Punch.
On the other side of the bracket, Jacob Van Wagner made quick work of his opponents using Archie's Ace in the Hole to get Blastoise into play on the first turn. He eliminated Martin Janouš (top rated player in the world) in the Top 8 and then Merlin Quittek in the Top 4, both of which used similar Night March decks. Surprisingly enough, Jacob used Wailord-EX as a major part of his gameplan. Night March is all about getting one-hit Knock Outs, but it can't do enough damage to take down the monstrous 250 HP of Wailord-EX. Jacob surprised everyone by actually attaching Energy to use High Breaching, and it earned him a place in the Finals.
Fans waited in anticipation to find out which Water-type Pokémon would prevail. Would Seismitoad-EX win yet another big event, or would Blastoise and Keldeo-EX surprise everyone? It only took four turns to figure out a winner. Jacob put Blastoise into play on the first turn of both games, and he used the Deluge Ability to power up Keldeo-EX's Secret Sword to Knock Out Mees's Active Pokémon. With so much pressure and aggression, not even the mighty Quaking Punch could slow down the assault from Secret Sword. In the blink of an eye, Jacob Van Wagner became the new World Champion.
As always, the World Championships mark the end of one season and the beginning of another. Over the course of the 2015 season, we saw incredible strategies, creative combos, and amazing competition. What's in store for next year? The journey to the 2016 Pokémon World Championships has already begun. Join us in October for the Autumn Regional Championships!