The top Pokémon trainers in the world clashed in San Francisco this weekend at the Pokémon World Championships, letting us find out just who really are the very best, like no one ever was—at least for this year.
The Championships event featured over $500,000 in prizes split between trading card game and video game competitions in three separate age groups split into Junior, Senior, and Masters divisions. While Japan fared well on the card table, the video game competition was a different story.
Americans swept the video game titles despite a varied field of competitors from around the world. In the Junior division (kids 11 and under), Cory Connor took the trophy. The Senior division (15 and under), Carson Confer won the day.
The Masters division saw the most talented field of competitors ever at a Pokémon event, producing some exciting results. No players from Japan advanced to the final cut of the event, a major surprise considering how strong players from the country of Pokémon’s origin usually perform. Last year, seven of the eight players in the final round hailed from Japan, including the eventual champion, Shoma Honami.
This time, one of the Pokémon scene’s most indomitable veterans and strongest players over the years took the event. Wolfe Glick scored the title by beating fellow American Jonathan Evans in the final, sweeping him in a hard-fought 2-0 series. Glick scored a knockout on Evans’ Gengar in game one after predicting Groudon’s protect, and then pulled off a ballsy Swords Dance with Rayquaza in the second game secured the win. You can catch the final match with commentary on the Pokemon Twitch channel:
Thanks to the introduction of normally restricted legendary Pokémon into the format, this year’s event was dominated by teams featuring the powerful Kyogre, Groudon, Xerneas, and Rayquaza, setting up a metagame that revolved around the weather the two primal powers put on the field.
Glick’s team was no different, using Kyogre and Rayquaza to control weather surrounded by a host of powerful support Pokémon including a Mega Gengar, Bronzong with Trick Room, and a Hitmontop with Eject Button. But his Raichu, featuring Fake Out, Volt Switch, Nuzzle, and Endeavor, was the most creative pick—if not the most unique. Two other players who reached the final cut used the same team as Glick at this event.
The Raichu, which featured a moveset and ability only obtainable through a giveaway last year, allowed Glick to save his Kyogre and Rayquaza from deadly electric attacks with Lightning Rod and hit back with Endeavor, including absorbing a couple dangerous Thunders in the finals.The win was a long time coming for Glick, who lost to three-time champion Ray Rizzo in the championship match in 2012. A staple in high level Pokémon competition since the inception of the competitive circuit, he now has the championship that secures his well-deserved place in the pantheon of Pokémon greats.