After the Pokémon World Championships he made his long-awaited returnin London last year, it was announced that the 2023 Championship will be held at Pacifico Yokohama in Japan.
This would be just the second time the tournament has been held outside of North America, making this a truly monumental announcement - somehow, even with Pokémon being huge in Japan, the Championship Series had never been held there. Many thought this would really be something special. The question is, did the 2023 World Cup live up to the hype?
In this feature, we'll recap all the events and highlights from the 2023 World Championships in Yokohama.
What is the Pokémon World Championship?
The Pokémon World Championship has been held since 2004, when it started with the Trading Card Game (TCG). The series added the core video games (VGC) in 2009,Pokkén tournamentin 2016 andPokémon GO&JOINin 2022.
To earn an invitation to the World Championship, you will need to do well in Regional, International and local competitions throughout the year. This year, the Championship has returned to a three-day format with all four categories currently being played on Friday & Saturday and the finals for GO, VGC and TCG taking place on Sunday.
It really is a place where people can prove that they are the best Pokémon trainers in the world.
What is there to do?
Outside the event
In previous years, outside of the main tournament, there was rarely that much to do outside of the event. This year, it's like there isvery much.
The Pokémon Company hosted many shows alongside the usual Pokémon Center Worlds Store, but all required a ticket to enter and tickets were, like everything in Japan, obtained through a lottery system meaning many people ended up disappointed and unable to enter them.
There were two nightly shows:Imagination! In the nextwas a dance show featuring a variety of Pokémon mascots.We are moving!!featured the largest amount of Pikachu followed by a drone demonstration. Both can be found atthe official YouTube channelif you want to check them out.
The day before the World Championship, a special concert was held featuring orchestral arrangements of Pokémon music, as well as music from the countries hosting the World Championship.
There was also a Pikachu Parade for everyone to watch each day of the tournament, with a fully ticketed Pokémon Parade wrapping up the entire weekend on Monday.
Pokémon Matsuri Park was another ticketed feature. Like the 2022 Worlds Square, you could play various games to earn points to redeem for prizes. These ranged from hooking a Magikarp in a fishing game, feeding a Dondozo various Tatsugiri stuffed animals using a catapult, and rolling a Voltorb through a maze. It also included the traditional dances with Pikachu, Sprigatito, Fuecoco and Quaxly.
Finally, there was the Pokémon Trainer Cruise. Imitating the S.S. Anne from Vermillion City, you could go on board and do various things like battle and trade with other players in the VGC and TCG in a variety of different lounges. You could even check the bins to find different items. There was a stamp collection to make sure you saw everything and a great photo spot on the ship's deck. It was truly a surreal experience
In addition to these events, all of Yokohama had been taken over by Pokémon. There were images of Pokémon cards all over the malls, with large card art exhibitions taking place throughout the area. Buses and train stations were covered in Pokémon World Championship images. There were also many Pokémon Center pop-up shops throughout the malls and there were screenings of the Championships everywhere.
There were also PokéGenic images, various pieces of wall art with Pokémon to take pictures of. It really felt like Pokémon had taken over the city and it was just surreal to see huge lines of people just for these photos.
Inside the event
If you weren't competing in the World Championships, I felt like there was a little less to do in the event itself.
There were the usual side tournaments for TCG, VGC and GO that you could play to get points to redeem for items, including the Paradise Resort promo card, on the Prize Wall. There was also the GO Scavenger Hunt where you had to complete a variety of tasks Otherwise it was just lots of seating where you could watch the various races in front of the great main stage.
Next to the main building, you could watch the live streams of the tournament in a special auditorium called the Pokémon Activity Zone, which included an area for in-game battles and trading. Several Pokémon spin-offs were also introduced here. There was a promotion cornerPokémon Masters EX, as well as an area to play the arcade game,Pokemon Mezastar.
The Pokémon TCG Play Lab is also back to teach players about the TCG, and — for the first time — you can check out the upcoming Pokémon Trading Card Game Classic set. Finally, you can check out Pokémon Local Acts, a campaign in Japan where various prefectures have a Pokémon ambassador. You could even meet these ambassadors.
Finally, a local Pokémon GO event was held for those who had passes to enter the World Championship, which was a change from previous years where it was open to everyone. This allowed for more spawning of various Regional Pokémon and better opportunities to obtain Pikachu and the other Pokémon, including Farfetch'd, Pansage, Pansear, and Panpour. This was done through the various unique PokéStops and running Gyms
The main Pokémon Center store at the Championship was the biggest they've ever done. Like many other events this year, entry was determined by lottery, but this time all spectators and contestants were guaranteed to get in eventually.
There was a lot of room to move around and two large lines of merchandise: one featuring the images of the Pokémon World Championships and the other focusing around Yokohama with a Sailor Pikachu and Lapras. The store included t-shirts, hoodies, sticks, Switch cases, magnets, pins and so much more. There really was only so much you could take. We may have had to buy an extra suitcase to bring all those extra goodies home.
The Tournament - All Winners
Pokémon UNITE was the first final to air. This is only the second time the MOBA has appeared in a World Championship, and the champions Luminosity fought and ended up being the winners without losing a single shot.
The idea of bringing back the bracket for the finals meant nothing to them as they dominated the other team and took the win 3-0. It was truly a sight to see how they just dominated and controlled the pitch, especially in the final
Like UNITE, Pokémon GO returned for only its second year at the World Championships. This year the finals came down to between ItsAXN and xxRubixMasterxx.
Some of the mainstays in competitive Pokémon GO teams are back — itsAXN ran a team of Noctowl, Shadow Alolan Sandslash, Purified Sableye, Lanturn, Medicam, and Shadow Swampert against the more traditional if slightly varied Registeel, Defense Forme Deoxys, Shadow Quagsire, Shadow RubixMaster's Quagsire, and Azumarill.
With itsAXN having several championships under his belt, particularly in the Top 8 or higher, and this being the second RubixMaster event where he has placed highly, the battle was tight. RubixMaster managed to hold his own and take a battle victory, but in the end, itsAXN took the final match to win and become the 2023 World Champion
- of AXN
This year was the first year of the TCG's Pokémon Scarlet & Violet series. This added the former Pokémon back into the fold along with the Paldea Pokémon. As a result, there was a lot of variation between the various decks. Mew VMAX, Origin Palkia V, and Gardevoir have all previously appeared in various strong decks.
The finals, however, came down to Vance Kelly and Tord Rekleve. Always one of the favorites to win, Tord has won every title except World Champion. Vance, on the other hand, had several Top 16s. This was a match against two of the strongest players in the TCG.
After each player took a win, the third match was arguably one of the most tense Pokémon TCG matches ever to take place on the world stage, with a pass between the two players eventually going into time and the final turns, but Tord couldn't get the cards he needed, leading Vance to pull out Tord's Pokémon deck and claim the title
- Masters: Vance Kelley
- Seniors: Gabriel Fernandez
- Juniors: Shao Tong Yen
Withreleased late last year, this was the first year for Gen IX Pokémon games in the World Championship. However, in a strange turn of events, it is the first and only event of the season that uses the rules of Regulation D. These rules allow you to use not only Pokémon from Scarlet & Violet, but also Pokémon that have been transferred from previous games, including various legendary staples such as Landorus, Cresselia, and more.
The VGC part of the competition had some controversies, withsome players are banned due to hacked Pokémon breaking the rulesand a router issue that caused all matches to disconnect during Top Cut. This meant that many matches were restarted in sudden death mode which angered many players and undoubtedly meant that some who were well on their way to winning the match ended up losing. Whether this scenario will be resolved for future matches, to avoid Sudden Death and simply replay the match, is unclear, but the community has certainly been outspoken about these issues. Where do you side with them?
In the finals, however, it proved to be a Japanese sweep with the home turf taking all three titles. The Masters finals were very tight with Shohei Kimura taking on Michael Kelsch, a player who only started playing the game at the beginning of the year, proving that you don't need years of experience to be a good player. Michael came with a very unique team, including Pokémon such as Farigiraf, but the team unfortunately couldn't overcome the raw power of Shohei's team and the support of his Amoonguss.
- Masters: Shohei Kimura
- Seniors: Tomoya Ogawa
- Juniors: Sora Watches
Next year — Return to Hawaii in 2024
At the closing ceremony, there were many revelations, as always.Blaziken, Mimikyu and Meowscarada are coming to Pokémon UNITE; the introduction of Paradox Pokémon mechanics to the Pokémon TCG. and,a variety of competitive moves and the return of the original Pokémonin. However, at the end of the ceremony, they announced the location of the 2024 Pokémon World Championship — Honolulu, Hawaii.
Having been to Hawaii in 2010 and 2012, the World Championship will make a long-awaited return to the state in 2024. Although, due to recent news, Tsunekazu Ishihara has also confirmed a donation to help those displaced and injured by the fires in Maui .
Was it the best World Championship?
It really depends. There was so much to do in Yokohama, but most events you could only attend by lottery, so if you did, chances are you didn't have one or none of the activities on your list, which is unfortunate. Unfortunately, this is a necessity considering how big Pokémon is in Japan, with millions flocking to Yokohama every year just for the Pikachu outbreak before 2020.
It was quite overwhelming - while I felt like there was a lot to doin thethe event, there was also not enough to do at certain times. However, the level of play at the event was high and the decor and theming was off the charts. It was really amazing to attend and see so much love for Pokémon.
The question is, can he come out on top? We honestly don't know. It's hard to say if this level of "city takeover" is possible again and they need to make sure there are more things for more people to do, but if this is a new standard being set then the next few years are definitely ones to watch. for the Pokémon World Championship.