Pokemon World Championships 2018 Winners and Finals Analysis | Gaming News
The perfect source for gaming uptodate news
Here's how the very best Pokemon players pulled it off.
The 2018 Pokemon world Championships in Nashville were full of surprises in both the Video Game Championship (VGC), Trading Card Game (TCG) Championship, and even in Pokkén Tournament. Read on for our recap of the exciting Master Division matchups and videos of the grand finals for each of these games.
The 2018 Pokemon World Championships VGC format is quite different compared to last year's limited Pokemon pool.The release of Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon came with access to multiple powerful Legendary Pokemon and other past favorites like Landorus-Therian Forme (Landorus-T) and Salamence, granting players a broad number of Pokemon to choose from. Mega Evolution was also allowed this year, opening up the possibilities even further.
With so many great Pokemon and held items to choose from, we saw much more varied teams. The two Grand Finalists of the 2018 Pokemon VGC, USA's Emilio Forbes and Ecuador's Paul Ruiz, only shared an Inceneroar on their teams. Otherwise, their strategies differed entirely. You can watch the full Master Division finals battle in the video below.
United States' Emilio Forbes garnered notoriety throughout the tournament for using a “Perish Trap” team. Perish Song combined with Mega Gengar's Ability Shadow Tag, plus its defensive moveset, proved to be a deadly combo.
When Perish Song is used, all Pokemon on the field faint after three turns if they remain active. Shadow Tag prevents Pokemon from switching out as long as the Ability's owner–in this case, Mega Gengar–remains on the field. Forbes paired this ability with Pokemon that knew U-Turn, so his teammates could safely retreat while his opponents remained trapped. His Mega Gengar also knew Protect and Substitute, which allowed him to stall just long enough for Perish Song to claim his enemies.
This strategy was paired with Incineroar and Landorus-T, which both have the Ability Intimidate, which allowed Forbes to strategically switch out these Pokemon with U-Turn while simultaneously debuffing his opponent's Attack stat.
Despite this strategy and some smart switch-ins and switch-outs by Forbes, he couldn't quite overcome Ecuador's Paul Ruiz' team, especially since he had two Gengar killers–Gastrodon and Mega Salamence–plus a tanky Snorlax that constantly threatened to ramp up with Belly Drums. You can see their full team breakdowns on Pokemon.com
In the first game, it seemed very early on that Ruiz wasted his once-a-game Z-Move on Forbes' Substituting Mega Gengar, however, the move proved to be integral to his victory. Ruiz focused down the Mega Gengar with his own Mega Salamence immediately afterward, leaving Forbes' teamed crippled early on with nothing to show for the loss.
Ruiz later predicted a switch out, landing an Ice Beam that nearly knocked out Forbes' Landorus. The Landorus was later able to knock out Ruiz' Gastrodon, but at the cost of his Z-Move, basically leaving Ruiz' Belly Drumming, healing Snorlax unstoppable. Without Forbes' Mega Gengar, which would take no damage from Snorlax, there was very little chance to psyche out his opponent.
Forbes continued switching out his Incineroar and Landorus, intending to eat away at his opponents Attack stats with Intimidates while attempting to freeze his opponents with Latias' Ice Beam, but to no avail.
The game ended with Incineroar and a nearly fainted Landorus on Forbes side, and an incredibly fed Snorlax and Mega Salamence on Ruiz' side, leading Forbes to forfeit. He knew he had no way to counter the unstoppable Snorlax and powerful Mega Salamence.
Before the second game, Ruiz locked in his team quickly while the crowd, mostly the Latin America community, cheered him on, nearly drowning out the commentators.
Ruiz stuck with his Gastrodon and Salamence leads in the second game, which benefited Forbes who started this time with Latias. Latias, knowing Ice Beam, is a huge threat to Salamence. Anticipating an Ice Beam, Ruiz switched out Salamence for the tanky Snorlax.
Again, Ruiz attempted to take down Gengar immediately with a Tectonic Rage Z-Move from Gastrodon, but this time Ruiz' Mega Gengar used Protect – but still managed to take more damage because of a rare Critical Hit.
In return, Forbes' Mega Gengar hit Gastrodon with Shadow Ball, lowering its massive Special Defense, leaving it open to a KO from Latias' Z-Move, Shattered Psyche.
The next few turns, Forbes smartly predicted Ruiz multiple times, taking miniscule hits from attacks meant for others. For example, switching Mega Gengar in to take a Frustration meant for Incineroar, and Incineroar in to take a Flare Blitz meant for Mega Gengar (which both happened twice!), allowed Forbes to stall while he chipped away at Ruiz' Incineroar and Snorlax's Attack stats with his own Intimidate users.
Once Forbes felt comfortable with his opponents weakened Attack, he finally unleashed Mega Gengar's Perish Song, intending to trap Ruiz' Incineroar and Snorlax to their downfall. However, Snorlax was finally able to land a Frustration onto Forbes' Incineroar, leaving both players down one Pokemon.
Forbes used Protect for both of his Pokemon the next turn, attempting to stall to get the Perish Song to stick. However, his next stall proved to be a gamble that backfired badly, and ultimately cost him the match.
Mega Gengar used Substitute, which knocked him down to just 13 health. Forbes must have anticipated his opponents to attack directly, but instead, Ruiz' Incineroar used the one move that could take Mega Gengar down – Snarl, which penetrates Substitute because it's a sound-based move. It even damaged Latias enough to allow Snorlax to KO it, leaving Forbes with just Landorus, and no remaining hope.
This is for Ecuador, this is for Latin America, and the dream was real.
Ruiz is the first challenger from Ecuador, and from Latin America as a whole, to take the Pokemon World Master Division Championship title. Last year, Ruiz wore his country's flag on stream when he made it to the Top 8, but this year, he didn't wear it because he felt he was representing all of his continent.
“I'm speechless right now. I think this is something the Latin community has been waiting for forever,” Ruiz said. “This is for you guys. This is for Ecuador, this is for Latin America, and the dream was real.”
Keep reading for our analysis of the Pokemon TCG finals!
The Pokémon TCG Masters finals saw Germany's Robin Schultz and Canada's Jeff Kolenc face off for the largest cash prize of the whole event — a cool $25,000. You can watch the finals below, then keep scrolling for our breakdown on the match.
Schultz's Zoroark GX/Garbodor deck made quick work of Kolenc's Malamar Box deck, turning the climatic match of the three-day tournament into an uneventful affair.
Unfortunately for Kolenc, Zoroark GX/Garbodor is Malamar's worst matchup. Not only are Malamar's attackers like Dawn Wings Necrozma GX and Mewtwo GX weak to Darkness and Psychic, respectively, but Zoroark GX resists Psychic. And on top of that, Garbotoxin shuts off the Abilities the Malamar deck so heavily relies on. Even Marshadow GX, Malamar's go-to Zoroark GX counter, was unable to make much of an impact with its ability to take one-hit KOs on Zoroark GX because Schultz was always able to respond with a return KO thanks to Zoroark's Trade Ability letting him dig for the right cards. While Kolenc's efforts to stay in the fight against such an unfavorable matchup were admirable, it felt like he was simply delaying the inevitable as Schultz overwhelmed the psychic squids with his deck's many potent weapons — top among them Puzzle of Time and Garbodor's devastating Trashalanche.
Schultz's big win is especially notable because he's the first German player to ever win the Pokémon TCG World Championships. Schultz was able to use his skills to successfully pilot his Zoroark GX/Garbodor deck through a diverse field comprised of the world's finest players — and take home a cute Pikachu trophy.
Pokémon TCG Junior Division Finals
Champion: Naohito Inoue (Japan) — Buzzwole + Lycanroc Runner-up: Sebastian Enriquez (United States) — Buzzwole + Lycanroc
Pokémon TCG Senior Division Finals
Champion: Magnus Pedersen (Denmark) — Banette-GX + Garbodor Runner-up: Connor Pedersen (United States) — Buzzwole + Garbodor
Pokémon VGC Junior Division Finals
Champion: Wonn Lee (Japan) Runner-up: Sota Tamemasa (Japan)
Pokémon VGC Senior Division Finals
Champion: James Evans (United States) Runner-up: Bram de Jonge (Netherlands)
Pokken Tournament Masters Finals
Check out our full breakdown of the Pokken Tournament DX finals results.
Love Pokemon? Check out what it's like Inside Japan's Pokemon-themed Trains, and don't miss out on any other news from the 2018 Pokemon World Championships: