Pokemon Worlds Championships 2022
London, August 18th-21st
Latest News & Analysis

Latest News & Analysis

2022 Pokémon VGC World Championships Preview Roundtable

Our experts come together to discuss what it’ll be like competing at Pokémon Worlds and which Pokémon to watch out for.
The return of the Pokémon World Championships (Worlds) is an exciting time for players and fans alike. In our Pokémon Video Game Championships (VGC) roundtable with notable Trainers Markus Stadter, Aaron Zheng, and Aaron Traylor, it’s clear that they are both players and fans—you can feel their anticipation as they gear up to watch top players compete, even as they make their own preparations. They’re joined by Chris Shepperd from Pokemon.com.
Look for Markus Stadter and Aaron Traylor to battle at the World Championships, while Aaron Zheng will be part of the expert casting team calling the action from London. But first, read on to hear their thoughts on competing at Worlds, as well as the top players and Pokémon to watch for.
Remember that you can watch all the Worlds action live on Twitch.tv/PokemonVGC and Twitch.tv/Pokemon August 18–21, 2022.
Shepperd: The first question I have is actually looking back: What happened at the 2022 North America International Championships (NAIC) that will shape what we should expect at Worlds?
Stadter: We discussed how some really unconventional teams might come out on top at NAIC, but this didn’t really happen. Pretty much all of the Top-8 teams were well established or known before the event.
Zheng: I think that the top players mostly took a very safe approach at NAIC. I wasn’t really surprised by any of the teams in the Top 8 (or Day 2 in general) and I don’t think there was any major metagame innovation at that tournament. Going into Worlds, I expect players to either continue to use the strong metagame teams that they brought to NAIC and adapt them or completely mix things up by creating something that people have little experience against.
Stadter: The Japan Nationals had so many unconventional teams, and for a moment it felt like everything was viable at the highest level. Now I feel like this narrative has changed again.
Traylor: In my opinion, NAIC is the one tournament in the year where players are most likely to play it safely. Especially with a Regional Championships event the week before NAIC this year, there wasn’t really time to innovate something new and amazing.
Stadter: Also, with an evolving metagame, you cannot really tell if a strategy will still be good in a few months.
Traylor: I think the balance of comfort vs. innovation for Worlds is really interesting.
Stadter: Looking at the results of NAIC, it seems like comfort is key in this format.
Traylor: Because if you’re trying to do something new, you’re going to have to play a bunch of rounds against the strongest opponents, some of whom have been playing with and thinking about their team for many months. You’re going to have to do a lot of work to challenge opponents in new ways.
Stadter: I think it’s a little bit of both. At NAIC, we saw players like James Evans and Gabriel Agati reach the Finals with teams they had used for quite a while before the event. Both of them were clearly very comfortable with their teams. However, they also had some innovations, like Gabriel using a very bulky Zacian that was slower than his Kartana to allow the move Max Knuckle to boost Zacian before it gets to attack. James’s team was also pretty unique, as he relied on Gastrodon and Thundurus, which were considered to be a bit outdated in Groudon and Shadow Rider Calyrex teams before the event. But he showed that they were perfectly placed at this point in the metagame by going undefeated on Day 2.
Shepperd: Aaron Traylor, you mentioned needing time to innovate between bigger events. Can we expect teams to be pretty different with two months between NAIC and Worlds?
Traylor: Two months is both a long time and not a very long time when it comes to Worlds preparation, I think. The sort of “event desert” is very hard to navigate. I spoke to a lot of the players in the Top 8, and there was a ton of comfort all throughout NAIC. Aaron and Markus, you guys have both played in multiple Worlds, you can attest to this—ha-ha!
Zheng: I think you often find players trying really hard to come up with something truly innovative. But then they run out of time and maybe go back to something they are more comfortable with.
Traylor: It can be really, really frustrating to sit there and play a bunch of games with your friends and not know whether what you’re working on will pan out at the biggest tournament of your life.
Stadter: Regarding your mindset going into Worlds vs. NAIC: at Worlds you know that every opponent will be very, very strong and established. Also, Worlds is of course the most important tournament of the year. At NAIC, players might be satisfied with a Top-16 finish to secure their Worlds invite—at Worlds, first place is what everyone aims for.
Traylor: I was thinking that you can kind of get away with obvious flaws in your team at other tournaments. But at Worlds, every flaw in your team is exposed. That’s not to say you can build a team without flaws (you can’t), but if you try to cover up something obvious at Worlds—say, being really weak to Kyogre—your opponents will find ways to exploit that because they’re the best players in the world.
Stadter: Adding to what I said earlier, innovation is important to give you a slight edge over your opponent. If you are familiar with the matchup, but they are not, this might be the slight advantage you can use to beat someone who is very strong.
Zheng: I think you need to be careful with innovation. You have to find the balance between finding something that’s truly special and something that gives you a good edge against most of the field.
Shepperd: It sounds like simple preparation for matchups is more important than in coming up with something unconventional.
Stadter: In my opinion, a great approach for Worlds is to find a subtle idea that others might not see coming, and be fully prepared to face any type of team while focusing on the most important team compositions.
Zheng: I agree with that.
Traylor: Do you need to innovate to win Worlds? I’m not sure. In my opinion, you do need to do something different from everyone else, whether that’s in your team or in your play. For example, I don’t think I could take James Evans’s team from NAIC, use it for two months, and expect to win Worlds with it. I don’t know what I would be doing different from anyone else. But clearly there’s some reason that he succeeded with that team, so maybe he could win Worlds with his team.
Zheng: Worlds is also a tournament where you will absolutely play against unexpected teams and strategies.
Stadter: If you keep trying to find the ultimate innovation, you might have too little time to prepare for matchups—if you even found something innovative at all.
Zheng: Having a team that is flexible and that you are comfortable with is very important for that, in my opinion.
Shepperd: We’re probably nearing the end of the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield formats. A lot is known about this Pokémon pool. Does that make it harder to come up with changes that people won’t expect at this point?
Traylor: Absolutely. Everything is out there. I think it comes down to whether you navigate the game states differently from other people. For example, Gabriel Agati’s Kyogre and Tornadus team, among others, navigates game states in a totally unique way compared to conventional Pokémon lineups.
Stadter: This format with restricted Pokémon can be sometimes a bit limiting, because you focus on the strongest Pokémon and might forget about Pokémon like Slowbro, Mimikyu, or Celesteela. But with combinations like Kyogre and Zacian being so popular, it makes absolute sense to have a look at more unconventional Pokémon that deal with specific combinations reliably.
Zheng: I do think that at every Worlds, you see some very unconventional Pokémon rise to the top. But it’s hard to find those Pokémon.
Traylor: Right. You can’t just be unconventional for the sake of it. You’ve got to have some need that those Pokémon are filling.
Stadter: Umbreon is another Pokémon that comes to mind from 2019.
Traylor: I was thinking about Raichu from 2016.
Shepperd: Worlds is obviously the opportunity to face off against players from East Asian regions, such as Japan and Korea. How does that affect team preparation? I imagine that for longtime players, team preparation has changed a lot now that information flow is much easier.
Zheng: There is more information flow than before, but there are also way more players from those regions competing at Worlds than in the past.
Stadter: In my mind, players from Japan use teams that are a bit more individual. Their circuit heavily uses best-of-one play, which favors different strategies than our circuit. So, you have to be prepared to face unconventional teams you have never seen before while also dealing with some of the strongest players in the world who will run some of the most established team archetypes.
Traylor: I think what makes it harder than anything is the language barrier. I know or have heard of nearly every player qualified from North America and Europe, and I have a vague idea of what tournaments they’ve succeeded at. I don’t know that info for the majority of Japanese players who have qualified, and part of that is because I don’t know where to look to find that information.
Stadter: Oh, Aaron—I have a list I could share, ha-ha!
Traylor: Markus, hit me up! #scouting
Shepperd: Ha!
Traylor: Thanks for bringing us together, Chris.
Shepperd: Anytime.
Zheng: Maybe in the old era, you would know every player who qualified extensively. Nowadays, you can’t do that kind of scouting nearly as well. Personally, I expect a ton of unorthodox teams from Japanese players in particular.
Zheng: And you just can’t be prepared for all of those teams.
Shepperd: So there really isn’t as strong of a singular metagame from Japan?
Stadter: Their circuit just works differently and evolves differently as a consequence. They need to excel at best-of-one online tournaments to qualify for their National Championships.
Traylor: In my limited opinion, no—but that’s not to say that Japanese players don’t pay close attention to what’s happening in the rest of the world.
Traylor: Japanese players are the highest percentage of the playing field on both Day 1 and Day 2, by the way, so a lot of players from North America and Europe are going to have to think about how that tournament makeup affects them compared to typical tournaments that they have been in.
Shepperd: For North American and European players, does that increase the luck factor, for lack of a better term?
Zheng: I think this format in particular is really tricky. You can’t possibly cover for every restricted combination, and in my opinion, there will be lots of crazy duos at Worlds. And so I think it just adds more variance to the number of unexpected teams you can run into, especially on Day 1. I think for that reason, it’s important to have clear strategies that force your opponent to react to you. That’s why combinations like Groudon paired with Gigantamax Venusaur or Gigantamax Charizard are so powerful. If you don’t have a way to stop them, they can just crush you from turn one. Being proactive with your team choice and play, rather than reactionary, is valuable in my eyes.
Traylor: I think at the International Championships, especially NAIC and the Europe International Championships (EUIC), you compete and you’ve heard of most of the people you’re competing against. You might have a rough estimate of their preferences and abilities—which is extremely important in Pokémon because both players move at the same time—so you have to take your opponent’s personality into consideration when you move. At Worlds, you might not have that luxury. And the fact of the matter is that there are probably more skilled players coming out of Japan than out of other regions, so if you don’t know your opponent, it’s a very different and dangerous vibe. You really need to be ready to learn about your opponent on the fly.
Zheng: Have a strategy that you want to execute, regardless of matchup, and then adapt based off what your opponent is bringing.
Shepperd: Let’s talk about some of the top contenders.
Stadter: I'll just drop some names from Day-2 players: Joseph Ugarte, Chongjun Peng, Eric Rios, Alex Gomez, Gabriel Agati, Juan Salerno, Rinya Kobayashi, Yuma Kinugawa. If anyone of them made a very deep run, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest.
Traylor: HOT TAKE ALERT. I think 2015 World Champion Shoma Honami could run it back. Watching his battles this season has been very exciting. I think he’s maybe in my top five battlers of all time.
Stadter: It is so hard to predict someone who has to make it through Day 1. But he is definitely someone who could do it.
Traylor: It’s an added layer of difficulty for sure. Other players that I could see winning the whole thing who are in Day 1 are Wolfe Glick, Emilio Forbes, and James Baek.
Stadter: James Baek has already qualified for Day 2, hasn’t he?
Traylor: Really? Nice! Then I believe in him even more.
Stadter: Ha-ha!
Zheng: There are honestly so many good players to list and watch out for at Worlds this year. I think I’m most curious about those that have had really consistent seasons in a very volatile format.
Stadter: Yeah, I just had another look at my list and there truly are so many great players who have qualified.
Shepperd: You’ve named a few former World Champions so far. Do you expect to see a repeat winner?
Traylor: A wild stat from the past 10 years is that every World Champion outside of Arash Ommati has either won the Japan National Championships or placed in the Top 4 at Worlds before.
Stadter: And 2019 World Champion Naoto Mizobuchi had a good showing at the Japan Nationals this year.
Shepperd: That stat is quite interesting. Having played at Worlds before certainly prepares you for your next one, huh?
Traylor: That’s not to say that a player who hasn’t done either of those things couldn’t win Worlds. But I do think there is something about Worlds that is very challenging to put into words—something you kind of just need to experience yourself.
Zheng: Previous World Champions in attendance include Naoto (2019), Shoma (2015), and Wolfe (2016), as well as James Evans (2016 Seniors).
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Traylor: For sure, Aaron. I’m also a big fan of Kiwamu Endo.
Stadter: So 2017 Worlds semifinalist Tomoyuki Yoshimura would also qualify! He is someone I always root for when I see him play.
Traylor: I could see anyone among Shoma, Wolfe, or James running it back. I just haven’t seen enough of Naoto’s battles this season to say for sure.
Zheng: I think these players will continue to be favorites within the field—not only from their experience but also because they’ve done well in this format. But once again, I think this format is just so volatile and difficult. The odds of a repeat World Champion are slim—that’s just the nature of Pokémon as a game. And I don’t know if that many players are truly one step above the rest right now, skill-wise.
Stadter: Also, we haven’t had a Worlds that features Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield yet. So it’s a first for everyone.
Traylor: I actually think that’s a huge bummer, Markus, because I think Dynamaxing is such a fluid and interesting mechanic.
Traylor: I think if Worlds had happened two years ago, people would treat Dynamax way differently than they do now.
Shepperd: Yeah, it’s an interesting event where it’s the first and last Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield Worlds. Does this one mean a little more to players? Of course, it’s hard for Worlds to mean more in one year over the next... It’s still Worlds.
Zheng: Precisely. I’m not sure I see it any differently from any other Worlds, personally.
Traylor: I’ve heard some people say, “If you win this tournament, you get to say you were the best player in the Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield era!” (I think those players are Wolfe Glick for the Pokémon X and Pokémon Y era, and Paul Ruiz for the Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon era.)
Zheng: I’m not sure I personally love that statement, since this format is so different from the other Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield formats. Speaking of best player in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, one player I have my eyes on is Santino Tarquinio. He won both a Players Cup and the Players Cup Invitational, and he made it to the top cut of the Secaucus Regionals.
Traylor: Santino is awesome because he’s kind of like the eternal underdog at these things.
Zheng: He hasn’t been able to attend too many Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield in-person events, and I’m really excited to see him play at Worlds. He beat four World Champions to win the Players Cup Invitational!
Traylor: I am a big fan of his team-building and play. He’s also on my list of players who could walk away with the title.
Stadter: I think having a very deep run at a huge offline tournament (a National, International, or Worlds) is needed to be able to actually win Worlds. So while I agree that Santino is very good, winning it all would be a slight surprise to me. It feels like there are other players who are asking for it even more at this point.
Traylor: But that’s what Santino does. I just loved the Players Cup Invitational and his battle against the “FINAL BOSS,” three-time World Champion Ray Rizzo.
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Stadter: Having the experience of playing on stage multiple times back-to-back is really key, in my opinion. Either way, I will root for him!
Traylor: Can we talk about Bingjie Wang?
Stadter: Yes, please.
Zheng: There are just too many players to list in regards to who you should watch out for this year...but calling out one player from some of the regions: Joseph Ugarte (North America), Eric Rios (Europe), Gabriel Agati (Latin America), Kentaro Matsumoto (Japan National Champion), and Wonseok Jung (Korea National Champion). I also think that some of these Chinese players competing in North America are amazing. Good segue to Bingjie!
Traylor: He left a big impression before the pandemic and then moved to China, which meant he couldn’t play at in-person events. But I heard he will be at Worlds and he’s honestly someone I would really love the chance to play against.
Zheng: Bingjie, Chongjun Peng, Zhe Zhang are all very big names to watch out for.
Stadter: Yeah, their community seems to be really strong.
Zheng: They are some of the most impressive players in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, not only for their play but their teambuilding in particular.
Traylor: Absolutely agreed.
Stadter: I read some of the team reports and their play seems to be at a very high level throughout. Four players in the Top 12 of NAIC also sends a clear message. I don’t know to what extent this group of players is collaborating, but they definitely had some very impressive results.
Zheng: Also speaking about regions as a whole, I think the group of European players in Day 2 is so powerful. Many have had absolutely incredible seasons but also have historically been some of the best in the game...like Markus!
Stadter: It was weird to have the season be cut in half with some players earning a large chunk of their Championship Points in 2019, but I agree that the Day 2 players from all regions seem very strong and deserving.
Shepperd: As you go through the field, it seems like the World Champion could come from just about any corner of the globe.
Zheng: Certainly. It’s quite wild that we haven’t had a Champion from Europe since 2013.
Traylor: Especially given the strength of their players, Aaron.
Stadter: Let me highlight two more players: Chaiyawat Traiwichcha and Melvin Keh. They won Nationals in Thailand and Singapore, respectively, and had very strong results whenever they played. And both of them are qualified to Day 2!
Traylor: I also want to highlight Javier Valdez from Chile, who performs extremely consistently with unique Pokémon choices, and is also qualified to Day 2.
Zheng: Melvin was one of the strongest players from the Asia-Pacific region throughout the previous generation, top-cutting multiple Internationals and Worlds. And with a Nationals win in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield, he still hasn’t slowed down.
Traylor: He’s also able to use Shedinja in this metagame, which he became known for in 2019. He’s definitely the final boss of Shedinja players.
Zheng: Chaiyawat brought a very cool Xerneas team to win Nationals and he really puts in a lot of time into the game. I’m definitely excited to see him, as Thailand does not really get as much attention as other regions.
Traylor: In my opinion, though, you could also consider Thomas Gravouille for that slot as best Shedinja player, ha-ha!
Stadter: To me, at the moment, that’s Hippolyte Bernard, ha-ha. Or Thomas, yes.
Zheng: Pan Si Ming, the Hong Kong National Champion, is also a player I have my eye on.
Stadter: Pan Si Ming also had some great online results.
Zheng: He’s gotten to the top of multiple ranked seasons. And I think with some really smart teams.
Stadter: Ahh, I love VGC history and following all these strong players from all over the world.
Zheng: Another player from Japan I want to call out is Hirofumi Kimura. He won back-to-back National titles. He was one of the heavy favorites to win Worlds 2019 and showed up big by making it to the Finals.
Stadter: Definitely. He knows when to innovate for big events with Pokémon like the Nidoqueen he used to win the 2018 Japan Nationals, the Umbreon he used to reach second place at the 2019 Worlds, and the Solgaleo he used to win the 2019 Japan Nationals. And now he’s used max Speed Ice Rider Calyrex with Tailwind at the 2022 Japan Nationals to finish in the Top 16.
Zheng: I think coming into Worlds as a favorite is really scary, honestly. All the pressure is on you to perform.
Shepperd: I want to get into the weeds a little regarding Pokémon to watch for.
Zheng: The obvious Pokémon to watch out for continue to be the top restricted Pokémon: Kyogre, Groudon, Zacian, Ice Rider Calyrex, and Shadow Rider Calyrex, as well as picks like Palkia and Yveltal. I’m personally very interested in more niche picks like Dialga, Solgaleo, and Eternatus. I think those still have a lot of potential.
Stadter: I heard about some interesting teams with Eternatus lately.
Traylor: I am very interested in the Kanto first partner Pokémon, specifically Gigantamax Venusaur and Gigantamax Charizard, but also extending to Gigantamax Blastoise. The power that Charizard pumps out is just beyond what any other Pokémon is capable of.
Stadter: Yveltal and Eternatus, Groudon and Eternatus, Solgaleo and Eternatus...
Shepperd: Did Zacian underperform a little at NAIC?
Zheng: Not at all... Kyogre and Zacian generally dominated the field at NAIC—in terms of lots of players making it to Day 2 using them—although the pairing fell off a bit in the Top 8. It almost won the tournament, as well.
Stadter: Only one Zacian in the Top 4, though.
Zheng: Yeah.
Stadter: So at the very, very top, it didn’t perform as well.
Traylor: Zacian didn’t win, though, so I think it’s a little bit about what your definition of success is.
Stadter: But overall, I would say it still had a strong showing.
Zheng: If history has shown as anything, it’s that people try to counter the absolute best Pokémon going into Worlds and generally have good success doing so, such as Kangaskhan in 2014 and Xerneas in 2016.
Shepperd: Yeah, we discussed that a little in our NAIC roundtable.
Zheng: That brings up an interesting question I’ve asked for every event this year, which is: Do you think Zacian will win the tournament?
Stadter: I think if it wins, it will be a very bulky version.
Traylor: I think that Zacian has kind of been “priced into” the metagame so far, though, and that a lot of players’ teams already revolve around it.
Traylor: I could absolutely see it winning, but it won’t be the most interesting part of anyone’s team. It’s a piece kind of like Incineroar, which is rarely the star or the most innovative Pokémon but is very useful.
Zheng: For sure—it’ll be about the tools that enable it properly to get to the wins.
Stadter: Maybe Swords Dance Zacian will make an appearance. That could make it the star.
Traylor: That would certainly make it the star. Or Helping Hand, Solar Blade, or Wild Charge.
Stadter: Or Snarl.
Shepperd: It must be harder for a single Pokémon to dominate at Worlds like it sometimes can at other events. Balance is favored over star power.
Stadter: Definitely. Everyone playing at Worlds has faced and beaten so many Zacian throughout the season.
Zheng: Surprise attacks on common Pokémon will certainly be one thing to watch out for. Quick Attack on Zacian, Protect on Incineroar... that stuff can give you a huge edge and steal a game.
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?
Shepperd: Yeah.
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: Japan.
Traylor: Japan.
Zheng: Hahaha!
Shepperd: Wow.
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!

About the Writers

Aaron Traylor
Aaron Traylor has been competing in the VGC since 2011. He placed in the Top 8 and the Top 16 at the World Championships in 2016 and 2019, respectively. He believes that the friendship between Trainers and their Pokémon is ultimately what leads to success in battle. Outside of Pokémon, he is a graduate student studying computer science and cognitive science.
Markus Stadter
Markus Stadter is a contributing writer covering Play! Pokémon VGC events for Pokemon.com. After playing in his first VGC tournament in 2010, he won two national titles plus a 3rd place finish at the Pokémon World Championships in 2016. He also began commentating for Play! Pokémon events the same year. You can find him online at 13Yoshi37.
Aaron Zheng
Aaron Zheng is a VGC competitor, commentator, and content creator. He has been competing in the Video Game Championships since 2008. Since then, he's won five Regional Championships and two National Championships. He has also qualified for eight World Championships and placed third at the 2013 World Championships. In more recent years, Aaron has been focused on creating online content. He joined the live commentary team for VGC streams in 2016.