After seven Swiss rounds on Saturday, 24 players made it to the top cut by finishing with records of 5 wins and 2 losses or better. The Masters Division field features a variety of different combinations of restricted Pokémon, and we several unexpected Pokémon choices, too. Be sure to check out more Pokémon TCG and video game tournament coverage and analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
American Wolfe Glick and German Markus Stadter came into Friday with the same team. They both made it through Friday, and they did so well on Saturday that they ended up battling in the semifinals. Top-8 finisher Baris Ackos of Germany even used the same team, too! Their team features two Pokémon that know the move Fake Out, a Rayquaza that knows Swords Dance, a Hitmontop holding Eject Button, Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag Ability, and a Raichu strategy that may be one of the most groundbreaking in Video Game Championships history. All in all, this team is one of the most complex teams we’ve ever seen, but these Trainers were able to master it on Pokémon’s biggest stage.
Jonathan Evans has been one of the more interesting stories this year as an American player that spent most of this season in Europe. Jonathan’s take on the Double Primal archetype involved two different Mega Evolved Pokémon. He was both one of the players who combined his Primals with Mega Gengar as well as one of the only top Trainers to give Mega Manectric a shot in the 2016 Video Game Championships. He also trained his Talonflame very defensively, allowing it to play a different role than the more offensive Talonflame we saw from other Trainers.
German Markus Stadter and American Wolfe Glick came into Friday with the same team. They both made it through Friday, and they did so well on Saturday that they ended up battling in the semifinals. Top-8 finisher Baris Ackos of Germany even used the same team, too! Their team features two Pokémon that know the move Fake Out, a Rayquaza that knows Swords Dance, a Hitmontop holding Eject Button, Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag Ability, and a Raichu strategy that may be one of the most groundbreaking in Video Game Championships history. All in all, this team is one of the most complex teams we’ve ever seen, but these Trainers were able to master it on Pokémon’s biggest stage.
Eduardo Cunha is the first Portuguese player to make it to the top cut of the Masters Division Video Game World Championships. He brought a team built around some powerhouses such as Xerneas and Groudon, but he put his own spin on the team. We don’t often see Trainers teach their Groudon Substitute, but Eduardo used the move to capitalize on turns where his Groudon was in little danger. He was also one of the few players we’ve seen use Hitmontop this season. Hitmontop gave Eduardo a second Pokémon that could use the move Fake Out while also providing the extremely powerful Intimidate Ability.
Germany’s Baris Ackos was another player that used the innovative Raichu, Hitmontop, Rayquaza, Kyogre, Gengar, and Bronzong team that was also used by Wolfe Glick and Markus Stadter. Their team features two Pokémon that know the move Fake Out, a Rayquaza that knows Swords Dance, a Hitmontop holding Eject Button, Mega Gengar’s Shadow Tag Ability, and a Raichu strategy that may be one of the most groundbreaking in Video Game Championships history. All in all, this team is one of the most complex teams we’ve ever seen, but these Trainers were able to master it on Pokémon’s biggest stage.
The runner-up at the United States National Championships made it to the top cut at the World Championships with a team that is very similar to the team he brought to Columbus. The Bronzong enthusiast has trained up a new Bronzong since his last major tournament, and this one has the Heatproof Ability instead of the Levitate Ability. He also slightly changed his strategy by swapping out his old Naive Salamence for a new one with a Hasty Nature, and his Sassy Cresselia was replaced by a Modest Cresselia.
Justin Carris brought one of the more unique combinations of Pokémon among players in the top cut. Xerneas is most commonly paired with Groudon, and occasionally paired with Rayquaza, but Justin went for something else entirely by pairing it with Kyogre instead. He opted not to use Kangaskhan like many other players, instead using the faster—and frailer—Infernape to use Fake Out or Quick Guard before his opponents. He is also noteworthy for giving his Bronzong a Mental Herb to hold instead of the more common Lum Berry, and for sticking with the Levitate Ability instead of Heatproof.
Barry Anderson has finally earned his chance to represent Great Britain in the top cut of the World Championships after just barely missing out by a single position in 2013. Volcarona is a rare sight this season, but it has a whole suite of tricks that are sure to bug Barry’s opponents. The Red Card it holds can stop opposing Xerneas from tearing through Barry’s team after using Geomancy, and Volcarona can eject Xerneas from battle even if it doesn’t activate Red Card by using its Whirlwind move, too. Barry also brought a Smeargle holding a Choice Scarf that knew the move Switcheroo, which could definitely mess with opponents that were maneuvering to avoid an expected Dark Void.
The combination of Rayquaza and Kyogre were popular at the top tables of this year’s World Championships. Matthias Suchodolski of Germany put his own spin on the team by including Landorus Therian Forme, a Pokémon that was one of the best last season, but has been crowded out from top teams as an offensive Pokémon this season by the restricted Pokémon. Ferrothorn was also a Pokémon we haven’t seen much of this year. It was likely a key performer for Matthias with Kyogre’s surge in popularity making waves in San Francisco.
Sebastian Escalante of Argentina excited the crowd by becoming the first Latin American player to make it to the top cut of the Masters Division Pokémon Video Game World Championships. Sebastian’s take on the popular Groudon and Xerneas team archetype doesn’t feature the common Cresselia or Salamence. Instead, Sebastian uses both the disruptive Amoonguss and the aggressive Talonflame on his team. He also taught his Groudon Rock Tomb, an uncommon choice that allows Groudon to do reliable Rock-type damage and slow down enemies.
American Giovanni Costa was the first Double Primal player to clinch a spot in the top cut. Unlike most players pairing Kyogre with Groudon, Giovanni used a Groudon that specialized completely in special attacks instead of physical attacks. His team included the combination of a Mega Gengar and a Whimsicott that knew Encore. This pairing of Pokémon may not be able to dish out huge amounts of damage on their own, but they’re so good at disrupting foes together that their presence on Giovanni’s team makes team preview much more difficult for his opponents.
Edward Kh Cheung was the first player from Hong Kong to make it to the top cut in the Video Game Masters Division. He brought a team of well-established Pokémon, but like most of the other players in the top cut his team had some unique quirks. Edward’s Groudon had a Serious Nature, which we rarely see on any Pokémon in competition. Edward also taught his Cresselia the combination of Icy Wind, Thunder Wave, and Trick Room to maximize his options for Speed control. This strategy was popular in the middle of the season, but has since lost favor. Edward proved it’s still a powerful strategy.
Jamie Boyt of Great Britain’s team was definitely the most Intimidating team in the field. Most players select one Pokémon with the Intimidate Ability for their teams, but Jamie brought three. Several players brought Hitmontop’s combination of Intimidate and the move Fake Out to San Francisco, and Jamie selected the similar Scrafty for his team. He also used both an Arcanine and Gyarados that knew the move Roar. Considering the Whimsicott with Encore also on Jamie’s team, it was almost impossible for foes expecting to deal their damage using Kangaskhan and physical Groudon or Xerneas with Geomancy to do much against Jamie’s team.
Blake Hopper has been one of the top Masters Division finishers from the United States at both of the past two World Championships, and this year was no exception. Blake was one of the few players who paired Groudon and Rayquaza at this event. This combination enabled Blake to use a Groudon that focused on special attacks and leave dishing out the physical damage to Rayquaza. Blake’s most uncommon Pokémon was Scizor. The combination of Life Orb and Swords Dance can allow Scizor to deal damage equivalent to a restricted Pokémon if it can get rolling, especially against Xerneas, Cresselia, and Bronzong.
Australia’s Sam Pandelis was the sole player using Yveltal in the top cut of the Masters Division, and he had some other interesting tricks on his team, too. Yveltal held a Life Orb, allowing it do more damage than it could with the Blackglasses we sometimes see instead at the expense of doing damage to itself, too. Sam’s choice of giving Smeargle a Choice Scarf to hold was itself uncommon, but it was particularly interesting because he taught Smeargle Taunt and Feint, two moves that we don’t normally see from Smeargle.
Michael Lanzano of the United States was one of the last players to squeak into Day Two after an incredibly close match against fellow American Trista Medine on the stream at the end of Friday. He seemed to have a much easier time on Saturday, needing only six rounds to pick up the five wins necessary to move on against the best competition in the world. Most of Michael’s Groudon and Xerneas team was unlikely to surprise many opponents, but he did have one big trick: a Smeargle holding a Chesto Berry instead of a Focus Sash or Choice Scarf.
Won Seok was the second South Korean player to qualify for the Video Game World Championships after 2014 Champion Se Jun Park, and he became the second South Korean player to make it to the Masters Division top cut this weekend, too. This team includes a speedy Arcanine that can use Safeguard before being hit by Smeargle’s Dark Void, and Won Seok even taught it a new trick by giving it a Red Card to eject Xerneas from battle after using Geomancy. We don’t see Meowstic very often to begin with, but the Yawn and Heal Bell moves Won Seok’s Meowstic knew must have absolutely shocked his foes.
Much like Aaron Traylor, Conan Thompson didn’t change much about the team that helped him get to the top cut of the United States National Championships. His biggest change was definitely giving his Smeargle a Chesto Berry to hold instead of the more common Focus Sash. Chesto Berry is a huge leg up in battles with other Smeargle at the expense of opening up the possibility of Smeargle being knocked out in a single blow. Conan also made a few other changes—he switched to a Kangaskhan with an Adamant Nature instead of a Jolly Nature, his Groudon knows Earth Power instead of Swords Dance, and his Salamence is Hasty instead of Naive.
The combination of Pokémon Germany’s Till Böhmer brought to San Francisco probably seemed pretty conventional when his opponents saw them on team preview, but they were hiding some surprises. Till’s Bronzong held a Red Card, allowing it to force the first Pokémon that attacked it to switch out of battle. He was also the only Trainer in the top cut to use a Groudon with a Lonely Nature, sacrificing some Defense to keep up its offense and Speed. Till’s Gengar was also one of the few that knew Substitute, which probably added even more surprise for his opponents.
Most of the Trainers who went deep with the pairing of Groudon and Xerneas chose to complete their teams with the combination of Smeargle, Kangaskhan, Salamence, and Bronzong, and American Patrick Smith was no exception. He taught his Groudon the move Swords Dance to give his version of the team some added offensive power. Like most other top Trainers, he chose to bring a Bronzong with the Heatproof Ability instead of the more common Levitate.
Most players using Groudon and Xerneas chose Bronzong as their Pokémon of choice to use the move Trick Room, but Alejandro used the classic Cresselia instead. Surprisingly, he was also one of the few Trainers to use a Smeargle with Follow Me in the Masters Division, as most other Trainers chose to teach their Smeargle different moves this time. Alejandro also taught his Groudon Substitute, perhaps opening up some extra opportunities for it to attack safely.
We last saw Andrew Nowak on stream when he was winning the Regional Championships in Illinois, and he put up another great performance in San Francisco after sitting out the US National Championships. He was one of the few players who selected either Crobat or Ferrothorn for his team, and he was the only player in the top cut to use Suicune. The combination of Roar, Tailwind, and Icy Wind on top of some hardy defensive stats made Suicune a great choice to support Anrew’s Groudon and Rayquaza.
The team used by American Dane Zieman stands out due to his unconventional choice of Mega-Evolved Pokémon. We saw a few players using the regular Gyarados to support their teams, but Dane’s Mega Gyarados that knew Dragon Dance went in a direction that was completely unique to him. Raichu’s Lightning Rod Ability and Fake Out moves were great choices to help Gyarados and Xerneas power-up. Amoonguss could use its Spore or Rage Powder attacks to add even more protection for Dane’s big attackers.
Christian Cheynubrata of Germany was another player who brought Raichu to San Francisco, but he used a slightly different strategy than the others. This Raichu’s Life Orb allows it dish out a little more damage than the others, but it’s most noteworthy for knowing the move Encore. With Raichu’s excellent Speed, Encore can be very disruptive. Christian also taught his Salamence Roar, allowing it to stop Trick Room, or if he’s feeling very confident, a Xerneas’ Geomancy.
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