Worlds Day One Is Done

Check out our takeaways from the first day of action in the Music City at the Pokémon World Championships.

That's a wrap from Day 1 here in Nashville at the 2018 Pokémon World Championships. There were plenty of thrills as the day unfolded, with more than 1,800 Pokémon TCG, video game, and Pokkén Tournament DX players from over 30 countries battling it out. Nearly 1,300 spectators were on hand, as well, cheering on their favorite players. For Pokémon fans, this is the place to be.

For Pokémon TCG and video game Masters Division competitors, it was all about getting enough points to advance to Day 2. Wins are worth three points and ties are worth one point. Pokémon TCG players needed to amass 18 points over eight rounds; video game players needed to have 21 points after nine rounds. Those who advanced will face the top competitors of the year, who had already qualified for a Day 2 invitation. The Day 1 match records don't carry over into Day 2, so players can mix up their strategies before tomorrow's action.

On the Pokkén Tournament DX side, players were duking it out in a Last Chance Qualifier for the final spots in the official competition, which begins tomorrow. But don't let the fact that today wasn't the championship tournament fool you—the players put on quite the show for spectators, adding even more frenzy to an already energetic Worlds event.

Pokémon TCG Takeaways

The timing of the Pokémon TCG World Championships proved interesting, with the Sun & Moon—Celestial Storm expansion being legal for tournament play for the first time. Players had only a few weeks to study and prepare for the addition of these cards, without having ever seeing them in competitive play.

Heading into Worlds, it was Rayquaza-GX that was getting the most attention. We guessed that it might be pretty popular, though Worlds can often surprise when it comes to which decks will be played the most, and which will emerge victorious. Rayquaza-GX did turn out to be fairly common in the field, and from what we saw its insanely fast set-up and powerful Dragon Break attack were indeed winning some matches.

However, it was still Zoroark-GX that was getting a ton of play here in Nashville. The Pokémon dominated the top cut at the North American International Championships in July, so it's not terribly surprising that we would see it quite a bit here. What's incredible is how many different partners we've seen paired with Zoroark-GX, including both Garbodor (BREAKpoint) & Garbodor (Guardians Rising), Lycanroc-GX, and Magcargo, all of which serve various supportive roles.

Another Pokémon that has held its own is Buzzwole, and not just the powerful Buzzwole-GX. The regular Buzzwole and its Sledgehammer attack have been doing serious damage, as well. Sledgehammer is a little tricky to set up, with its full potential unlocked only if your opponent has exactly four Prize cards remaining. But 120 base damage for just one Energy (before adding bonuses from the likes of Strong Energy and Choice Band) is hard to pass up. Plus, you're not putting a Pokémon-GX in play that could give up two Prize cards if it gets knocked out.

It's not the centerpiece of its own deck, but one card we seem to be seeing a lot is Shrine of Punishment. This new Stadium card slowly and consistently damages Pokémon-EX and Pokémon-GX every turn, bringing these high-HP Pokémon in range for more one-hit KOs. It won't be surprising if it's a difference-maker throughout the rest of the tournament and beyond.

One darkhorse deck we've been keeping an eye on is powered by the Metal-type Magnezone from the Sun & Moon—Ultra Prism expansion. Trainers use its Magnetic Circuit Ability to quickly power up heavy hitters Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX and Dialga-GX. It's a relatively straightforward deck, showing that good strategies don't always have to be complicated. Take a look at the featured Magnezone deck:

  • Magnezone / Dusk Mane Necrozma

Pokémon
  • 3
    Magnezone
    83/138
    sm5 83
  • 3
    Magnemite
    81/138
    sm5 81
  • 3
    Dusk Mane Necrozma-GX
    90/138
    sm5 90
  • 1
    Dialga-GX
    82/131
    sm6 82
  • 2
    Tapu Lele-GX
    60/145
    sm2 60
  • 2
    Octillery
    33/162
    xy8 33
  • 2
    Remoraid
    31/162
    xy8 31
Energy Cards
  • 11
    Metal Energy
    nrg1 33
Trainer Cards
  • 4
    Professor Sycamore
    xy9 107
  • 2
    Brigette
    xy8 134
  • 2
    Guzma
    sm3 115
  • 2
    Skyla
    xy8 148
  • 1
    Copycat
    sm7 127
  • 1
    Fisherman
    xy8 136
  • 1
    N
    xy10 105
  • 3
    Mt. Coronet
    sm5 130
  • 4
    Rare Candy
    sm1 129
  • 4
    Ultra Ball
    sm1 135
  • 3
    Field Blower
    sm2 125
  • 2
    Energy Retrieval
    sm1 116
  • 2
    Professor's Letter
    xy8 146
  • 1
    Float Stone
    xy8 137
  • 1
    Rescue Stretcher
    sm2 130
More Info Copy Deck List

What's crazy about the World Championships is that tomorrow we could see entirely different strategies emerge. Players that advance are allowed to change up their decks overnight, and the Day 2 players will bring their own insights and strategies. It'll be well worth watching the action unfold on Twitch.tv/Pokemon throughout Saturday.

Pokémon VGC Takeaways

You'd think that after months of competing with the current format, the metagame on the video game side would be much more settled. But this is the World Championships, so always expect the unexpected.

The field on Day 1 was split between players conservatively sticking with well-tested strategies and those going for broke with wildly innovative teams and setups. The heavy use of the Intimidate Ability and U-turn we saw in Columbus maintained a presence in Nashville, but we also saw a resurgence of weather-based teams, and a number of unexpected Pokémon showed up at the top tables, including Empoleon, Greninja, and Raikou.

Grass-type powerhouses Amoonguss and Kartana have been surging in popularity at recent events, setting the stage for some interesting metagame adjustments at Worlds. While the usage of those two Pokémon has continued to increase, players have noticed and adjusted their teams accordingly. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that Fire-type Pokémon have suddenly flared up here in Nashville, enabling super-effective attacks against both of the trending Grass-type Pokémon. Mega Charizard Y and Incineroar have been torching the competition, as well, and one of the day's top Trainers even included both. It's not terribly common to see two Pokémon of the same type on a team, but the Trainers here at Worlds have been adding some fire wherever they can find it.

The rise of Fire-type Pokémon wasn't wholly unanticipated, however. To counter them, players brought to the field quite a few more Nidoqueen and Tyranitar, whose super effective attacks gave them an advantage against Fire-type Pokémon. The VGC metagame is often a long chain of actions and reactions, and it's been exciting to see how quickly and clearly this has been on display here in Nashville. The front of Rain- and Sandstorm-based teams that rolled into Nashville provide even more problems for Trainers looking to keep their Fire-types burning.

One team that caught our eye was led by a combination of Bisharp and Blaziken, as seen in our featured lineup below. This duo has struggled to achieve greatness all year, but it suddenly found life at Worlds. The pairing allows for really aggressive strategies intended to strike quickly. There were a lot of questions about which Pokémon could round out this team to provide reliable victories, but a 7-0 start to the weekend for the Bisharp and Blaziken combo certainly opened the eyes of the remaining Trainers. It'll be interesting to see how far this team can go on Saturday when the Day 2 players join the action.

  • Zapdos
    Bisharp
    Tsareena
    Blaziken
    Tapu Fini
    Landorus
    Highlighted Team
Zapdos
Bisharp
Tsareena
Blaziken
Tapu Fini
Landorus
Moves:
  • Thunderbolt
  • Heat Wave
  • Tailwind
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Timid
Held Item:
  • Electrium Z
Ability:
  • Pressure
Moves:
  • Assurance
  • Sucker Punch
  • Iron Head
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Focus Sash
Ability:
  • Defiant
Moves:
  • Power Whip
  • High Jump Kick
  • Feint
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Life Orb
Ability:
  • Queenly Majesty
Moves:
  • Flare Blitz
  • Superpower
  • Rock Slide
  • Protect
Nature:
  • Jolly
Held Item:
  • Blazikenite
Ability:
  • Speed Boost
Moves:
  • Muddy Water
  • Moonblast
  • Dazzling Gleam
  • Hydro Pump
Nature:
  • Modest
Held Item:
  • Choice Specs
Ability:
  • Misty Surge
Moves:
  • Earth Power
  • Hidden Power
  • Stone Edge
  • U-turn
Nature:
  • Mild
Held Item:
  • Choice Scarf
Ability:
  • Intimidate
Hide Details Show Details

As a side note, it was a tough day for former Pokémon Video Game Masters Division World Champions. Shoma Honami (2015), Wolfe Glick (2016), and Ryota Otsubo (2017) all failed to qualify for Day 2. With 2014 Champion Sejun Park not in attendance due to military duty, the only former champion we'll see on Saturday is Arash Ommati, who won it all in Vancouver, British Columbia in 2013. Many of the players advancing to join him from Day 1 are upcoming Trainers looking for their first big Worlds finish, so we may see some fresh faces rise up to join this pantheon of Pokémon Video Game Championships legends.

The action shifts gears on Saturday when all the players who qualified for Day 2 enter the stage. Be sure to head to Twitch.tv/Pokemon for non-stop action all day, including the exciting Pokkén Tournament DX World Championships. And then, don't miss the final Pokémon TCG and video game matches on Sunday to find out who will be the next Pokémon World Champions!

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