The first day of the Pokémon Video Game World Championships featured a variety of excited Pokémon choices. Take a look at some of the teams that captivated audiences during the first day of competition. Trainers that made it through the first day of competition were given the opportunity to switch teams on Saturday, so it'll be interesting to see if the advancing Trainers stick with the teams that got them to Day Two or if they still have more surprises up their sleeves. Be sure to check out more Pokémon TCG and video game tournament coverage and analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
Abel Sanz of Spain is a former National Champion, and he made it all the way to the semifinals of the 2012 World Championships, too. He wasn’t able to move on to Day Two this time, but he got off to a hot start on Friday by using an innovative team. Abel taught the rarely seen Gyarados Taunt, Icy Wind, and Thunder Wave, which offered tons of support for his other Pokémon when combined with the Intimidate Ability. With two Water-type Pokémon on his team, opponents using the popular Primal Groudon were sure to have a tricky time taking on his team.
Markus Stadter may now be best known as one of the commentators of the European National Championships, but the former National Champion showed he still has what it takes to qualify for Day Two of the World Championships as a player on Friday. The German’s team included two support Pokémon we don’t often see: a Raichu holding Assault Vest and a Hitmontop holding Eject Button. With Mega Gengar and its Shadow Tag Ability also available, Markus’s Rayquaza and Kyogre team had an almost endless amount of ways to disrupt his opponents.
The team used by American Trista Medine was one of the most surprising in the competition. Raichu, Slowbro, and Venusaur are all Pokémon that aren’t used very frequently in tournament play, and even the combination of Rayquaza and Groudon hasn’t been one of the more popular pairings of restricted Pokémon this season. She took particular care with her matchup against Smeargle and its Dark Void move, as both Slowbro (Chesto Berry) and Bronzong (Lum Berry) were given Held Items to help them wake up after being put to sleep. Trista fell just short of moving on to Saturday, but she earned the support of many spectators with her meticulous play during her back-to-back matches on the livestream.
Great Britain’s Matt Carter opted to bring the combination of Yveltal and Groudon to the competition, a bold choice for Friday given the expectation most players had that many Xerneas would be present. But his boldest choice was definitely selecting Aerodactyl for his team, a Pokémon he used as a more defensive alternative to Talonflame. Aerodactyl helped Matt’s team by using its natural Speed to use the Taunt, Tailwind, and Rock Slide moves before its opponents could attack. He differentiated Aerodactyl from Talonflame by using the Wide Guard move—which Talonflame can’t learn—to defend the team from spread attacks such as Eruption and Dazzling Gleam.
Barry Anderson just missed representing Great Britain in the top cut of the 2013 World Championships, and he’s given himself another opportunity to make it to the single-elimination stage of the World Championships in 2016. 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.
Jirawiwat Thitasiri of Thailand is a new face at the Pokémon World Championships, but he quickly made a name for himself by making day two and defeating 2013 Masters Division World Champion Arash Ommati. Kangaskhan, Salamence, Groudon, and Xerneas won’t raise many eyebrows, but Meowstic is surprising and Kecleon is absolutely shocking. Meowstic’s moves allow it to effectively disrupt opponents or support its allies depending on the situation Jirawiwat finds himself in, and few foes are likely to have had any idea what to do with Kecleon at all.
Chile’s Marcelo Salgado moved on to Day Two by using several Pokémon not frequently seen in North American or European tournament play this season. Scizor isn’t very common this year, but its powerful Bullet Punch can trouble the popular Xerneas. Plus, Scizor can defend its teammates from priority moves by using Quick Guard. Marcelo also surprised his opponents by teaching Roar to his Manectric and by giving his Latias a Choice Scarf to hold.
Daichi Kumabe of Japan was able to make it to all the way to the top cut during last year’s World Championships, but this year he fell short during Day One. He used a pretty standard team featuring Groudon and Xerneas on Friday, a strategy very reminiscent of the similarly popular and powerful Kangaskhan-based team he used last year. Perhaps Daichi’s tournament run this year proves that it can be extremely difficult to come out on top using a strategy other players are focusing their preparations against, even in the hands of someone who has proven to be an excellent player.
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