Pokémon World Championships

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Pokémon World Championships
Pokémon World Championships logo.jpg
GamePokémon
Founded2004 (2004)
Owner(s)The Pokémon Company
CEOTsunekazu Ishihara
CommissionerPlay! Pokémon
Divisions
  • Junior (Born 2008 or later)
  • Senior (Born 2004-2007)
  • Masters (Born 2003 or earlier)
HeadquartersBellevue, Washington, United States
Venue(s)Rotating locations
Official websitePlay! Pokémon Events

The Pokémon World Championships is an invite-only esports event organized by The Pokemon Company. It is held annually in August and features games from the Pokémon series such as the Pokémon video games, Pokémon Trading Card Game, Pokkén Tournament and Pokémon Go. Players earn invitations to the World Championships based on their performance in qualifiers and other tournaments held throughout the season and compete for scholarship money, prizes and the title of World Champion. With the exception of Asia, invitations to the World Championships are administered by the Play! Pokémon program.

History[edit]

The Pokémon World Championships first began with the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) in 2004.[1] In 2009, Play! Pokémon began to organize competitive tournaments for the Pokémon video game series alongside the TCG, which is collectively known as the Video Game Championships (VGC). Like the TCG Championships, players compete with other players in their own age divisions (i.e. Junior, Senior and Masters) in different Premier Tournaments, and the season culminates with the best players earning an invitation to play the Pokémon World Championships in August. The tournaments in VGC are played with a different game each year.

In 2016, Play! Pokémon announced that Pokkén Tournament will have its own championship series and will be played at the Pokémon World Championships.[2]

In 2019, it was announced that the 2020 Pokémon World Championships would take place in London, United Kingdom,[3][4] the first time in which the World Championships would be held in a location outside of North America. This is likely due to the setting of Pokémon Sword and Shield, which takes place in a region inspired by the United Kingdom known as Galar, and it is the set of games that would be played by the video game division of the World Championships.

On March 31, 2020, Play! Pokémon cancelled the 2020 Pokémon World Championships and suspended its 2020 season due to health concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.[5][6] This came after earlier announcements in March which saw the cancellation of the 2020 European International Championships[7][8] and part of its season between March and June 2020.[9][10] On February 9, 2021 it was announced that the 2021 Pokemon World Championships would postponed till 2022 for the same reasons.[11]

Year Location City Country Video Game Format Ref
2004 Wyndham Palace Resort & Spa Orlando, Florida United States N/A
2005 Town and Country Resort and Convention Center San Diego, California
2006 Hilton Anaheim Anaheim, California
2007 Hilton Waikoloa Village Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
2008 Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista Orlando, Florida
2009 Hilton San Diego Bayfront San Diego, California Pokémon Platinum
2010 Hilton Waikoloa Village Waikoloa Village, Hawaii Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver
2011 Hilton San Diego Bayfront San Diego, California Pokémon Black and White
2012 Hilton Waikoloa Village Waikoloa Village, Hawaii
2013 Vancouver Convention Center Vancouver, British Columbia Canada Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 [12]
2014 Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C. United States Pokémon X and Y [13][14]
2015 Hynes Convention Center Boston, Massachusetts Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire
2016 San Francisco Marriott Marquis San Francisco, California [15]
2017 Anaheim Convention Center Anaheim, California Pokémon Sun and Moon
2018 Music City Center Nashville, Tennessee Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon [16]
2019 Walter E. Washington Convention Center Washington, D.C. [17]
2020 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic [18][19][20]
2021 Cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic [21]
2022 TBA [22]

Qualification[edit]

The qualifying process for the Pokémon World Championships varies each year and is dependent on a player's age division and the country in which they are located in. Players may also qualify to play on different days of the World Championships based on their performance in their respective qualifying programs; the best performing players will immediately advance to the second day of the World Championships playoffs (i.e. "Day 2") instead of playing through the first day (i.e. "Day 1").

Play! Pokémon program[edit]

Players located in a country with a Play! Pokémon program (i.e. in North America, Europe, Latin America and Oceania) compete in a regular schedule of tournaments for Championship Points and receive invitations when they meet a predetermined threshold of points at the end of the season.[23]

In 2015, the Play! Pokemon program expanded to include countries from the continents of Latin America and Asia (except Japan and South Korea). However, on June 10, 2020, it was announced that Asia would no longer be part of the Play! Pokémon program and will have its own qualifying system towards the Pokémon World Championships.[24]

Japan & South Korea[edit]

Tournaments in Japan and South Korea are organized independently from Play! Pokémon and as such, players from these countries have a different system of qualification.

In Japan, players compete for an invite to the Japan National Championships by playing in major qualifier or online tournaments held throughout the season.[25][26] The best performing players of the Japan National Championships will then be selected to represent Japan in the Pokémon World Championships.[27]

In South Korea, the style of qualification for the World Championships changes frequently. For example in 2015, players would compete in the Korean National Championships and earn a World Championships invitation based on their standing in the tournament. However in 2019, players would compete in tournaments organized by the Korean League and earn an invite based on the number of points they had accumulated by the end of the season.[28]

Other[edit]

There are other less common methods of qualifying for the World Championships which include finishing at least top 4 or better in the prior year's World Championships or by participating in a single-elimination tournament known as the Last Chance Qualifier[29] at the location of the World Championships itself.

List of World Champions[edit]

Trading Card Game (TCG)[edit]

Year Juniors Seniors Masters Ref.
2004 Japan Hayato Sato Japan Takuya Yoneda Japan Tsuguyoshi Yamato
2005 United States Curran Hill United States Stuart Benson United States Jeremy Maron
2006 Japan Hiroki Yano Finland Miska Saari United States Jason Klaczynski
2007 Japan Jun Hasebe United States Jeremy Scharff-Kim Finland Tom Roos
2008 United States Tristan Robinson United States Dylan Lefavour United States Jason Klaczynski
2009 Japan Tsubasa Nakamura Japan Takuto Itagaki United States Stephen Silvestro
2010 Japan Yuka Furusawa Canada Jacob Lesage Japan Yuta Komatsuda [30]
2011 Brazil Gustavo Wada Australia Christopher Kan United States David Cohen [31]
2012 Japan Shuto Itagaki Canada Chase Moloney Portugal Igor Costa [32]
2013 Czech Republic Ondrej Kujal Australia Kaiwen Cabbabe United States Jason Klaczynski [33]
2014 Japan Haruto Kobayashi United States Trent Orndorff Canada Andrew Estrada [34]
2015 Canada Rowan Stavenow United States Patrick Martinez United States Jacob Van Wagner [35]
2016 Japan Shunto Sadahiro Denmark Jesper Eriksen Japan Shintaro Ito [36]
2017 Norway Tobias Strømdahl United States Zachary Bokhari Argentina Diego Cassiraga [37]
2018 Japan Naohito Inoue Denmark Magnus Pederson Germany Robin Schulz [38]
2019 Japan Haruki Miyamoto Germany Kaya Lichtleitner Australia Henry Brand [39]

Video Game Championships (VGC)[edit]

Year Juniors Seniors Masters
2009 United States Jeremiah Fan Japan Kazuyuki Tsuji N/A
2010 Japan Shota Yamamoto United States Ray Rizzo N/A
2011 United States Brian Hough United States Kamran Jahadi United States Ray Rizzo
2012 United States Abram Burrows United States Toler Webb United States Ray Rizzo
2013 United States Brendan Zheng United States Hayden McTavish Italy Arash Ommati
2014 Japan Kota Yamamoto United States Nikolai Zielinski South Korea Sejun Park
2015 Japan Kotone Yasue United Kingdom Mark McQuillan Japan Shoma Honami
2016 United States Cory Connor United States Carson Confer United States Wolfe Glick
2017 Australia Nicholas Kan South Korea Hong Juyoung Japan Ryota Otsubo
2018 Japan Wonn Lee United States James Evans Ecuador Paul Ruiz
2019 Taiwan Pi Wu Japan Ko Tsukide Japan Naoto Mizobuchi

Pokkén Tournament[edit]

Year Seniors Masters
2016 United States Woomy!gun Japan Potetin
2017 N/A Japan Tonosuma
2018 Japan Kato United States ThankSwalot
2019 United States Ashgreninja1 Japan Subatan

2014 World Championships[edit]

2014 Pokémon World Championships
2014
Pokémon World Championships 2014.jpg
Attendees of the 2014 World Championships
Tournament information
LocationWashington, D.C.
DatesAugust 13–15
Administrator(s)Play! Pokémon
Tournament
format(s)
Swiss rounds, knock-out finals
Venue(s)Walter E. Washington Convention Center
Participants155
PurseUS$5,000 in scholarships
Final positions
ChampionsSouth Korea Se Jun Park (Masters) United States Nikolai Zielinski (Seniors) Japan Kota Yamamoto (Juniors)
Runner-upUnited States Jeudy Azzarelli (Masters) United Kingdom Mark Mcquillan (Seniors) United States London Swan (Juniors)
Tournament statistics
Matches played481 matches in 3 divisions
Attendance3,000
← 2013
2015 →

The 2014 Pokémon World Championships was the sixth annual edition of the championships. The event took place in the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on Washington D.C. alongside the 2014 Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championship who were in their eleventh edition.[40]

The tournament was streamed via Twitch for the first time in the tournament history and reached a viewership of more than 800,000.[41]

The defending Video Game champions were Arash Ommati from Italy (Masters Division), Hayden McTavish from the United States (Senior Division), and Brendan Zheng from the United States (Junior Division). The opening ceremony of the event was attended by Junichi Masuda, the video game designer for the Pokémon franchise and a member of the board of directors of Game Freak.

2014 qualification[edit]

The qualification process for the 2014 Pokémon World Championships was primarily based on Championship Points accumulated by players from official Play! Pokémon tournaments such as Premier Challenges, Regional Championships and National Championships. In addition, the top 4 players of the 2013 Pokémon World Championships in each division, and the top 4 players of a tournament known as the 'Last Chance Qualifier' will also receive an invitation to play in the World Championships.[42]

The invitations for the Masters Division of the tournament were distributed in the following manner:[43]

  • Top 4 players from the 2013 Pokémon World Championships,
  • Top 32 players from Europe with the most Championship Points,
  • Top 16 players from North America with the most Championship Points,
  • Top 4 players from Australia with the most Championship Points,
  • Top 2 players from South Africa with the most Championship Points,
  • Top 8 players from the Japan National Championships,
  • Top 2 players from the South Korea National Championships, and
  • Top 4 players from the Last Chance Qualifier, a tournament held the day before the World Championships in the same venue.

Most of the invitations didn't include a fully paid trip to the tournament, and as a result several players could not attend the tournament.

2014 tournament structure[edit]

Players per country[edit]

  • Masters Division [44]
Country Zone # of Players
 United States North America 22
 Germany Europe 10
 United Kingdom Europe 7
 Japan Japan 7
 Australia Australia 4
 Italy Europe 3
 Spain Europe 2
 South Korea South Korea 2
 South Africa South Africa 1
 Canada North America 1
 Ireland Europe 1

Results[edit]

Six rounds of Swiss was played by 60 players in the tournament, and each round was played with a set of best-of-three matches. The top 8 players after the Swiss rounds advances to the best-of-three Single Elimination matches.

The defending World Champion Arash Ommati and former three-time World Champion Ray Rizzo did not advance to the single elimination rounds.

  • Masters Division [45]
Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
         
1 Japan Ryosuke Kosuge 1
8 Germany Markus Liu 2
8 Germany Markus Liu 0
5 United States Jeudy Azzarelli 2
5 United States Jeudy Azzarelli 2
4 United Kingdom Lee Provost 0
5 United States Jeudy Azzarelli 0
6 South Korea Sejun Park 2
3 Spain Miguel Marti de la Torre 0
6 South Korea Sejun Park 2
6 South Korea Sejun Park 2
2 United States Collin Heier 0
7 Australia Dayne O'Meara 0
2 United States Collin Heier 2

Final standings[edit]

Place Masters Division Senior Division[46] Junior Division[47]
1st South Korea Se Jun Park United States Nikolai Zielinski Japan Kota Yamamoto
2nd United States Jeudy Azzarelli United Kingdom Mark Mcquillan United States London Swan
3rd United States Collin Heier Spain Eric Rios Japan Haruka Narita
4th Germany Markus Liu United States Ian McLaughlin Japan Riku Miyoshi

2015 World Championships[edit]

2015 Pokémon World Championships
2015
Tournament information
LocationBoston, Massachusetts
DatesAugust 21–23
Administrator(s)Play! Pokémon
Tournament
format(s)
Swiss rounds, knock-out finals
VenueHynes Convention Center
Purse$500,000 in scholarships[48]
Final positions
ChampionsJapan Shoma Honami (Masters)
United Kingdom Mark McQuillan (Seniors)
Japan Kotone Yasue (Juniors)
Runner-upJapan Hideyuki Taida (Masters)
Japan Koki Honda (Seniors)
South Korea Ryan Jaehyun Park (Juniors)
← 2014
2016 →

The 2015 Pokémon World Championships was the seventh annual edition of the championships. The event was held alongside the Pokémon Trading Card Game World Championships at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.[49]

The tournament was transmitted with live streaming from the official Pokémon Twitch channel. The defending Video Game champions for the year were Se Jun Park from South Korea (Masters Division), Nikolai Zielinsky from the United States (Senior Division) and Kota Yamamoto from Japan (Junior Division).

2015 qualification[edit]

Players could only gain an invitation to play in the Video Game World Championships by either being the 2014 Pokémon World Champions, or by obtaining enough Championship Points in their respective geographic zone designated by Play! Pokémon. However, the only exception to this rule are for players from Japan and South Korea, as their tournaments are not overseen by Play! Pokémon and their invites are governed through a different system of qualification.

Since 2014, players were able to earn Championship Points from various tournaments within their geographical region. The tournaments vary in scale, ranging from local Premier Challenges to state-level Regional Championships and finally the large-scale National Championships. The number of points awarded varies with scale, and players who earn these points are ranked and divided into zones such as North America, Europe and South Africa. This year, two new zones (Latin America and Asia-Pacific) were introduced.

The 2015 Pokémon Video Game World Championship was intended to be played under 2 Swiss tournaments and 1 single-elimination tournament which would then determine the 2015 World Champions. As such, there are two types of invites:

  • a regular 'Day One' invite, and
  • a 'Day Two' invite, which allows players to receive a bye for the Swiss tournament on the first day.

As an example, the invitations for the Masters Division were distributed as follows:-:[49]

  • 'Day One' invitation (by Championship Points):
  • 'Day Two' invitation (i.e. 'Day One' bye)
    • 2014 World Champion
    • Top 8 players from North America by Championship Points.
    • Top 16 players from Europe by Championship Points.
    • Top 2 players from Latin America by Championship Points.
    • Top 2 players from Asia-Pacific by Championship Points.
    • Top 2 players from South Africa by Championship Points.
    • Top 4 players of the South Korea Video Game National Championships.
    • Top 8 players of the Japan Video Game National Championships.[50]

2015 tournament structure[edit]

The Video Game Championships consisted of 2 Swiss tournaments and 1 single elimination tournament played across three days.

On Friday (Day 1), all players who earned an invitation without a Day 1 bye were entered into a Swiss tournament, where players with two or fewer losses would advance onto the next round. The second Swiss tournament was then played on Saturday (Day 2), where players who advanced from Day 1 were joined by players who received an invitation with a Day 1 bye.

At the end of the Day 2 Swiss tournament, the top eight players played in single elimination rounds until the last two remain. The finals took place on Sunday (Day 3).

Final standings (Video Game Championships)[edit]

Place Junior Division Senior Division Masters Division
1st Japan Kotone Yasue United Kingdom Mark Mcquillan Japan Shoma Honami
2nd South Korea Ryan Jaehyun Park Japan Koki Honda Japan Hideyuki Taida
3rd Japan Shu Harsaki Austria Max Marjanovic Japan Yosuke Isagi
4th Japan Shuhei Tsukano United States Kylie Chua Japan Naohito Mizobuchi

2016 World Championships[edit]

2016 Pokémon World Championships
2016
Tournament information
LocationSan Francisco, California
DatesAugust 19–21
Administrator(s)Play! Pokémon
Tournament
format(s)
Swiss rounds, knock-out finals
VenueSan Francisco Marriott Marquis
Purse$500,000[51]
Final positions
ChampionsUnited States Wolfe Glick (VGC Masters) [52]
United States Carson Confer (VGC Seniors) [53]
United States Cory Connor (VGC Juniors) [54]
Japan Shintaro Ito (TCG Masters) [55]
Denmark Jesper Eriksen (TCG Seniors) [56]
Japan Shunto Sadahiro (TCG Juniors) [57]
Runner-upUnited States Jonathan Evans (VGC Masters) [52]
Japan Yuki Wata (VGC Seniors) [53]
Japan Shu Harasaki (VGC Juniors) [54]
United States Cody Walinski (TCG Masters) [55]
United States Connor Pederson (TCG Seniors) [56]
Japan Riku Ushirosako (TCG Juniors) [57]
← 2015
2017 →

The 2016 Pokémon World Championships was the eighth annual edition of the championships. The event was held at the San Francisco Marriott Marquis in San Francisco, California from August 19 to August 21.[58] For the first time in the tournament history, the Pokkén Tournament invitational was featured alongside the Video Game Championships (VGC) and Trading Card Game (TCG) tournaments. Side events and an official store with event merchandise occurred alongside the event.

The defending Video Game champions were Shoma Honami from Japan (Masters Division), Mark McQuillan from the United Kingdom (Senior Division) and Kotone Yasue from Japan (Junior Division).[59] The defending Trading Card Game champions were Jacob Van Wagner from the United States (Masters Division), Patrick Martinez from the United States (Senior Division), and Rowan Stavenow from Canada.[60]

Age divisions and qualifications[edit]

Both the Pokémon VGC and TCG were divided into three age divisions: the Junior Division (born 2005 or later), the Senior Division (born between 2001 and 2004), and the Masters Division (born 2000 or earlier). For the Pokkén Tournament invitational, players were grouped into either the Senior Division (born 2001 or later) or Masters Division (born 2000 or earlier).

The process of obtaining an invitation is primarily based on Championship Points.[61] Players could earn Championship Points by performing in select online and live tournaments held throughout the 2016 season (between September 2015 and July 2016). Players from Japan and South Korea were excluded from this rule as these countries had their own method of qualification not based on Championship Points.

Play! Pokémon divided players into five different rating zones: US and Canada, Europe, Latin America, Asia-Pacific and South Africa. Different zones had different Championship Points requirements due to the distribution of events around the world.

There are two possible invitations players could obtain:

  • a regular 'Day One' invite, and
  • a 'Day Two' invite, which allowed players to acquire a 'Day One' bye and automatically enter the second Swiss tournament.

'Day Two' invites were usually accompanied by travel awards and stipends paid by Play! Pokémon.

Trading Card Game Championship qualifications[edit]

The following table shows the Championship Points[61] requirement for an invitation to the 2016 World Championships:

Zones Masters Division Senior Division Junior Division Day Two (Ranking)
US and Canada 300 CP 250 CP 200 CP Top 16 Players in each division
Europe 300 CP 250 CP 200 CP Top 22 Players in each division
Latin America 200 CP 150 CP 100 CP Top 8 Players in each division
Asia-Pacific 200 CP 150 CP 100 CP Top 8 Players in each division
South Africa 200 CP 150 CP 100 CP None

Players in Japan and South Korea were awarded invitations based on each country's organized play system.

Video Game Championship qualifications[edit]

For the Masters Division, the following table lists the Championship Points requirement for an invitation to the 2016 World Championships:[62]

Zones Day One Day Two (Ranking)
US and Canada 350 CP Top 8 of the Zone
Europe 275 CP Top 16 of the Zone
Latin America 150 CP Top 4 of the Zone
Asia-Pacific 200 CP Top 4 of the Zone
South Africa 400 CP None

2016 tournament structure[edit]

The Video Game Championships consisted of two Swiss tournaments and one single elimination tournament played across three days.

On Friday (Day 1), all players who earned an invitation without a Day 1 bye were entered into a Swiss tournament, where players with two or fewer losses would advance onto the next round. The second Swiss tournament was then played on Saturday (Day 2), where players who advanced from Day 1 were joined by players who received an invitation with a Day 1 bye.

At the end of the Day 2 Swiss tournament, players with two or fewer losses advanced to play in single elimination rounds until the last two remain. The finals took place on Sunday (Day 3).[63]

Final standings (Video Game Championships)[edit]

Place Junior Division Senior Division Masters Division
1st United States Cory Connor [54] United States Carson Confer [53] United States Wolfe Glick [52]
2nd Japan Shu Harasaki [54] Japan Yuki Wata [53] United States Jonathan Evans [52]
3rd Japan Rikuto Noda [54] United States Mostafa Afr [53] Germany Markus Stadter [52]
4th United States Enzo Reci [54] Japan Kazuki Ogushi [53] Portugal Eduardo Cunha [52]

Final standings (Trading Card Game)[edit]

Place Junior Division Senior Division Masters Division
1st Japan Shunto Sadahiro [57] Denmark Jesper Eriksen [56] Japan Shintaro Ito [55]
2nd Japan Riku Ushirosako [57] United States Connor Pedersen [56] United States Cody Walinski [55]
3rd United States Roan Godfrey-Robbins [57] Indonesia Rafli Attar [56] United States Samuel Hough [55]
4th Japan Yuta Ozawa [57] Brazil Raphael Souto [56] United States Ross Cawthon [55]


Weapons controversy[edit]

During the 2015 World Championships, two Trading Card Game competitors from Iowa (Kevin Norton, 18, and James Stumbo, 27) brought weapons in their vehicle, which were recovered by the police. The two posted status updates and images of their weaponry on social media, which were noticed by various Pokémon fans who treated them as supposed threats against the tournament. The updates were reported to the Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC), who promptly seized their automobile and then stopped them at the door and barred them from entering the Hynes Convention Center on Thursday evening. Police executed a search warrant on Friday and Norton and Stumbo were arrested at their Red Roof Inn room in Saugus just after midnight on Saturday, August 22, 2015.[64] The two were arrested on charges of unlicensed possession of firearms and ammunition, and were initially held without bail.[65] The weapons recovered were a recently purchased Remington shotgun, an AR-15, a hunting knife and several hundred rounds of ammunition.[66][67][68] They plead not guilty at their arraignment on November 10, 2015, and their bail was set at $150,000.[69] On December 2, 2015, their trial was set for May 9, 2016, however, in early April 2016, their trial was postponed to November 2016.[70][71] Following the release of Pokémon Go in July 2016, Stumbo's attorney indicated that the case would be resolved soon.[72][73][74][75][76] Norton and Stumbo were later sentenced to two years in prison with an additional two years probation once their prison term ends.[77]

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