Stadter: If it were down to a single dominant Pokémon to win, I think it would be Ice Rider Calyrex or Shadow Rider Calyrex. As in, they have the ability to run away with a game, something Zacian doesn’t really have—it just trades (usually very favorably) most of the time. Ice Rider Calyrex and Shadow Rider Calyrex both have strong spread moves, too, which is important for getting damage down.
Shepperd: OK, let’s get some more hot takes. Give me one name: Who wins Worlds?
Traylor: Eric Rios.
Stadter: I’ll go with Tomoyuki Yoshimura, aka Snow.
Zheng: Man, I was going to say Eric! Kentaro Matsumoto’s interesting to me because Japan’s National Champions have historically been lights-out at Worlds. It takes so much to win at the Japan Nationals.
Shepperd: It’s OK if you agree! Next question: Which restricted Pokémon will have the best performance in the Top 8?
Traylor: Groudon, I think.
Stadter: Zacian will be most common, but best performance might be something else.
Shepperd: I think that’s an interesting distinction.
Traylor: Which will be most common, and which will win?
Stadter: I’ll give best performance to Calyrex.
Zheng: I was thinking the same, Ice Rider Calyrex in particular.
Stadter: I’m not going to specify which form. But I think there might be two Calyrex in the finals.
Traylor: I would give best performance to Zacian because I believe!
Zheng: We’ve almost always had Zacian in the finals, so it’d be really fascinating to see a Calyrex duel. Groudon and Ice Rider Calyrex is a pair that a bunch of the top Japanese players have been using. I’m curious to see if that continues to be the case going into Worlds.
Stadter: For some reason Calyrex seems like a Pokémon for Worlds. Zacian is one for (Inter)Nationals, similarly to Kangaskhan vs. Mawile in 2014, maybe?
Shepperd: Next question: Which region will have the most players in the Top 8?
Zheng: Japan or Europe.
Stadter: They have the most range and the most depth.
Zheng: Precisely. That’s a great and simple way to put it.
Traylor: Yep, totally with you there.
Zheng: Their best players are very capable of winning the event.
Stadter: Japan has as many Day 2 invites as Europe this year.
Zheng: If you look at the players who qualified for Worlds from Japan and what they used at Nationals. Some of the teams...are just wild. For example: Dialga, Salamence, and Eternatus from Kaoru Ueki; Solgaleo and Zacian from Hiroshi Onishi; Groudon and Ice Rider Calyrex from Hirofumi Kimura; Eternatus and Ice Rider Calyrex from Hijito Kihara. These are just...combinations that you are not going to practice for.
Shepperd: Americans have to deal with jet lag at Worlds for the first time, except for players from the East Coast who’ve played in Hawaii.
Traylor: That’s right! A lot of the players I know are getting in extra early, though.
Stadter: I thought about this for a bit after NAIC. I’ve never played Worlds without jet lag.
Shepperd: One more question: Which “lesser played” restricted Pokémon would you bet has a standout performance? This seems like that’s even harder to predict because the Japan field is so wide open, as you’ve noted.
Zheng: I want to say one among Dialga, Solgaleo, or Eternatus...but I keep believing in Dialga and Solgaleo, and they keep letting me down.
Stadter: I’ll say Eternatus.
Traylor: I would say Eternatus. It has a lot of room for innovation that we haven’t seen fully explored yet.
Zheng: I do think Dusk Mane Necrozma has been heavily overlooked this year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one sneak into the Top 8. Any Zekrom believers in the chat?
Traylor: I am a Zekrom believer!
Stadter: I feel like we didn’t talk about Lunala at all today, which was very big going into NAIC.
Zheng: Lunala is really fascinating. It had such a meteoric rise even with Yveltal and Shadow Rider Calyrex teams getting more common.
Traylor: Yeah, Lunala is awesome. I think it’ll be number four behind Zacian, Groudon, and Kyogre in the Top 8.
Shepperd: I love all the predictions, but I really love just how many different people and Pokémon to watch for. Let’s finish with that: What is the One Big Thing that viewers of the stream should watch for?
Stadter: The energy! For all these players, this is it. The main event. The first World Championships in three years! Everyone will give their best and everyone cares so much about this tournament.
Traylor: Me, ha-ha! No, uhhh... I would say the unique way that players battle and pilot their teams. Worlds battles are always the best of the season—enjoy them.
Zheng: It’s a mix of two things for me: seeing how people approach this incredibly complex metagame through their team-building skills, and watching the best players in the world battle on the biggest stage for the biggest title. Everyone will remember a good run at Worlds even if you’ve had a lackluster season thus far.
Stadter: All of this is getting me even more excited. I can’t wait!
Zheng: I really want to see another new region win it all. From Ecuador, Paul Ruiz’s victory in 2018 was so incredible. And I think there are lots of players rising up from regions that do not have as much time in the spotlight.
Stadter: Or Arash’s victory in 2013.
Shepperd: It would be pretty huge to see a Champion come from a new country as the competitive side of the game keeps growing and the competition is being held on a different continent for the first time.
Thanks for your time, everyone—and good luck in London!