2022 Pokkén Tournament North America International Championships Preview

See which players and strategies to watch for at Pokkén Tournament DX‘s final International Championships appearance.

By Jesse Turnbull, Contributing Writer

After years of fierce competition and
unforgettable performances, Pokkén
Tournament DX
Trainers will go head-to-head in the game’s final
International Championships later this month. The announcement that Pokkén Tournament DX would no longer be part of the Play! Pokémon
program after the 2022 season concludes immediately raised the stakes for
competitors: they now know that whoever is crowned World Champion this year
will be the final player to receive that title. While this is a bittersweet
time for anyone who enjoys Pokkén
Tournament DX
, the announcement has ensured that every individual with a
controller at this event will be giving it their all from start to
finish—meaning spectators are in for a real treat.

The North America International Championships will
take place from June 24–26, and you’ll be able to catch all the action at Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament.
The weekend looks like it will be packed with intense Pokkén Tournament DX battles. Read on to learn what you should keep
an eye out for while watching.

Most community-organized tournaments still utilize the more accessible
Basic Battle format in which players bring just one of their favorite Battle Pokémon
into battle to compete. But this year, some of North America’s top competitors
have committed to seriously practicing the Team Battle format, where Trainers
have three Battle Pokémon primed for competition. Although players have always
practiced the format prior to competing in Team Battle tournaments, the level
of dedication this time around is certainly on another level.

In addition to this being the first offline
Play! Pokémon event in North America to feature a Pokkén Tournament DX bracket since the 2019 World Championships, this is the last
time someone will be crowned a Pokkén
International Champion. It’s also the final opportunity to
qualify for the 2022 World Championships outside of the Last
Chance Qualifier, which is sure to be one of the title’s most difficult
qualifiers in history. Put this all together, and what you have is a large
number of competitors who will be battling their hearts out trying to secure a spot
at Worlds.

Few Pokkén Tournament rivalries can compare to that of Jacob
“Jukem” Waller and Davon “Shadowcat” Amos-Hall. As two of North America’s
greatest and most consistent Trainers, the pair find themselves meeting in
brackets regularly, often exchanging wins and always putting on an exciting
show. The last two North America International Championships saw Jukem come out
on top in their encounters, but Shadowcat would later emerge victorious from
two of their three subsequent Pokémon Players Cup battles. Outside of Play!
Pokémon events, Jukem sent Shadowcat to the Losers side of the bracket at both
Battle at Lake Valor and Winter Brawl 3D 2022, but Shadowcat was later able to
eliminate Jukem from Winter Brawl 3D in their rematch.

These two have been hard at work preparing for
Columbus, and have both benefited from Team Battles more than some due to their
experience competing with multiple Battle Pokémon in the one-on-one format.
That said, they’ll have to watch out for several other fearsome competitors among
the tournament’s registrants—many of whom consider Jukem and Shadowcat to be rivals.

Let’s take a look at just a few of the other
Trainers who have already shown they have what it takes to come out on top at
the North America International Championships.

Preferred Battle Pokémon Team: Mewtwo, Shadow Mewtwo, and Aegislash
Preferred Support Set: Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu
Preferred Cheer Skill: Special

This will be Ashgreninja1’s first Championship Series event in the
Masters Division, but he’s no stranger to the Play! Pokémon stage. The 2018
Worlds runner-up and 2019 World Champion of the Pokkén Tournament Senior
Division will be aiming for the same placement he acquired at North America’s
last International Championships (that would be first place) in a new
division with entirely new opponents. However, because online play and most
community events don’t have separate age divisions, Ashgreninja1 does have
experience against many of this event’s registered competitors.

Ashgreninja1 pulled off some impressive wins
against the likes of Roderick “Raikel” McArthur and Diane “Mins” Minsley in the
Victory Road League, as well as Eric “Flegar” Flegar and Jeffrey “ReyDelEmpire”
Hernandez at NEC 20. The Trainers who eliminated Ashgreninja1 at these events
were Jukem and Rokso respectively, although both events featured Basic Battles.
Expect to see a similar team to what Ashgreninja1 used in his 2019 Championship
Series run: Mewtwo, Shadow Mewtwo, and Aegislash.

Preferred Battle Pokémon Team: Aegislash, Pikachu Libre, and Decidueye or Charizard
Preferred Support Set: Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu
Preferred Cheer Skill: Special

Euclase hasn’t been featured here much previously, but is a battler that
spectators should absolutely watch for. This Aegislash specialist boasts some
stellar results from recent community events, including fifth place at Battle
at Lake Valor and third place at Frosty Faustings XIV, both of which took place
earlier this year. Euclase’s Frosty Faustings run was particularly impressive—after
being sent to the Losers bracket by Jukem, Euclase beat Mewtater, Shadowcat,
and Players Cup IV Champion Richard “Wise” Rennehan to face off against Rokso
in the Losers Finals. The electrifying battle went down to the wire, but
Euclase ended up falling to Rokso in the fifth game. Rokso also eliminated
Euclase after a close set at Battle at Lake Valor, so expect a particularly
heated rematch if the pair face off at this event.

Euclase will definitely be bringing his
partner Pokémon, Aegislash, and we’ll probably see Pikachu Libre in most of his
sets. For the third slot, the most likely candidates are Decidueye and
Charizard. As far as Support Pokémon and Cheer Skills are concerned, expect
Euclase and Ashgreninja1 to employ a similar strategy: Mega Rayquaza and
Mimikyu along with the Special Cheer Skill. Mimikyu is a useful Support Pokémon
on its own, while Mega Rayquaza requires a well-thought-out strategy to
maximize its effectiveness. This Legendary Pokémon strikes with a fast,
powerful Dragon Ascent in a straight line across the entire Battle Stage, but
it can be called on only once per round and its Support Gauge charges at a slow
rate. This is a key factor in Euclase and Ashgreninja1 both choosing the
Special Cheer Skill, as the skill pushes Mega Rayquaza’s Support Gauge to MAX
after a round loss.

Preferred Battle Pokémon Team: Garchomp, Gengar, and Lucario
Preferred Support Set: Mismagius & Ninetales
Preferred Cheer Skill: Standard

Affectionately referred to as “Papa Pokkén” by members of the
community, Rokso is a Pokkén Tournament veteran who does it all. On top
of hosting the Destiny tournament series and pouring large amounts of support
into events and charity drives related to the game, Rokso continues to place
well at tournaments. In 2022 alone, Rokso placed second at Frosty Faustings XIV
(only falling to Jukem in the Winners Finals and Grand Finals) and fourth at
both Battle at Lake Valor and Winter Brawl 3D. Interestingly enough, Rokso’s
experiences at Battle at Lake Valor and Winter Brawl 3D share more similarities
than just his placement. Both events saw Rokso defeat talented
competitors—including Euclase and Mewtater at Battle at Lake Valor, and Cameron
“A_Wild_G” Baughman and Kamaal “Kamaal” Harris at Winter Brawl—and make it to
the Winners Semifinals. At that point in each tournament, Rokso was defeated by
Dawson “TEC” Trepanier in a best of three. Finally, in the Losers Semifinals of
both events, Rokso was eliminated by Shadowcat.

Similarities aside, Rokso is likely itching
for a rematch against both Jukem and Shadowcat. Rokso’s Garchomp is practically
guaranteed to show up, likely alongside Gengar and Lucario. His preferred
Support Set of Mismagius & Ninetales compliments his team quite well, as
Garchomp and Lucario can heavily pressure a blocking opponent and get easier
guard breaks with the help of either Pokémon; meanwhile, those same Supports
each add yet another tricky and long-lasting projectile to Gengar’s arsenal.
Rokso will likely stick to the Standard Cheer Skill, which will push the
Support Gauge of the Support Pokémon that he didn’t use to MAX after a round
win (or in the event of a round loss, will push both Support Gauges to MAX and
increase Rokso’s Synergy Gauge).

Preferred Battle Pokémon Team: Shadow Mewtwo, Pikachu Libre, and Decidueye
Preferred Support Set: Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu
Preferred Cheer Skill: Support

Technically, ELM has already qualified for the 2022 World Championships
twice, but he’s still registered to compete in the North America
International Championships. Due to the early cancellation of the 2020
Championship Series, the top two Masters Division players from the 2020 Oceania
International Championships are automatically qualified for Worlds this year,
and ELM placed second at that event. Then, just a couple months ago, ELM had another
second-place finish at the 2022 Europe International Championships. We’ll have
to wait and see if ELM can get the three-peat in terms of qualifying by placing
in the top four of this tournament, or if he can perhaps secure his first championship
title of the season.

Notably, ELM’s signature Suicune was not part
of his lineup earlier this year in Germany. Instead, the veteran player went
with Shadow Mewtwo, Pikachu Libre, and Decidueye, along with the Support Cheer
Skill and the Support Set of Mega Rayquaza & Mimikyu. While the Special
Cheer Skill used by Ashgreninja1 and Euclase can be especially useful when
paired with Mega Rayquaza, ELM usually opts to go with Mimikyu. This Ghost- and
Fairy-type Pokémon can be quite problematic for foes, especially when paired
with the offensive pressure that ELM’s team can dish out. The Support Cheer
Skill ensures that ELM can go into the second and third rounds of battles with
Mimikyu fully charged, and the average Charging Time means that an early
Mimikyu call leaves the door open for a possible second appearance later in the
same round (on top of another early appearance in the next round, thanks to the
Cheer Skill).

Preferred Battle Pokémon Team: Mewtwo, Decidueye, and Aegislash
Preferred Support Set: Croagunk & Sylveon
Preferred Cheer Skill: Standard

The 2019 North America International Champion Mewtater is quite
possibly the single hardest-training competitor this year. His Support set of Croagunk
& Sylveon is largely defensive, with Sylveon’s Reflect providing a
temporary Defense boost and partially healing the user’s Battle Pokémon while
Croagunk attacks the opponent with Toxic, causing a Defense debuff.

Mewtater defeated ELM in the Grand Finals of
the previous North America International Championships, and more recently
defeated the likes of Benjamin “Toasty” De La Rosa and Christian “JrJam”
Williams at 2022’s community events. He suffered a loss to Euclase at Frosty
Faustings XIV as well as to Rokso at both Frosty Faustings and Battle at Lake
Valor, but as with each of the players previously mentioned, these results from
outside of the Championship Series were using the Basic Battle format. Only
time will tell how the additional Pokémon and modified Team Battle strategies
will impact rematches between rivals.

It’s been an incredible journey. This month, Pokkén Tournament DX‘s final
International Championships will take place, and it looks like we’re in for
some unforgettable moments. Don’t miss a second of the action: catch the
competition live by tuning in to Twitch.tv/PokkenTournament
on Friday, June 24, and Saturday, June 25!

Jesse Turnbull

Jesse Turnbull is a contributing writer covering Play! Pokémon events for Pokemon.com. As a fan of both Pokémon and fighting games, it makes sense that Pokkén Tournament is Jesse’s favorite video game. He even met his wife through their shared interest in Pokkén Tournament. Jesse can be found online at Jetsplit.

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