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World

10 Players to Watch at the 2017 Pokémon World Championships

The Pokémon World Championships kicks off today, and with it ends a tumultuous year of competitive Pokémon, in the toughest format yet. Much like the Pokémon themselves, the World’s best Trainers are a cast of kooky characters. In this article, I’ll give you a comprehensive rundown on the names to look out for, their strengths, their weaknesses and their playstyles.

Players that qualified from Worlds 2016

Wolfe Glick (USA) - Reigning World Champion

Wolfe Glick

Wolfe is, without a doubt, one of the best-known Pokémon players: he is, after all, the current World Champion and a very frightening opponent with a very frightening history in hairstyles (or lack of them). He’s been around for a very long time, and I’d know: after beating him at the 2011 World Championships (and during my downtime in the 2012 season), I trained the bugger. Despite having had an off season this year, Wolfe is very very strong and shouldn’t be underestimated. Strengths: Undoubtedly the best defensively-minded player in the world Weaknesses: It hasn't been a good year for defensive players. Also, I made a bet that if he Top 8s I will print out his photograph alongside the caption “The student surpassed the master”, make a smoothie out of it and drink it live on camera, which funnily enough won’t cost £50,000 to produce Follow him on Twitter @WolfeyGlick

Jonathan Evans (USA) - Current World #2

Jonathan Evans

Jon, despite, in dressing like a Victorian school shooter in his cardigans, glasses and trenchcoats, is an excellent player. Whilst he did get absolutely mullered in the final last year (owing to a horrendous matchup), he still made it there and there’s many reasons why. He’s a very balanced player so expect to see a boring, common style of team, played perfectly. Pros: Have heard (from a wholly unreliable source with a bad haircut) that he’s very good at staring at people to put them off Cons: Finger incident Follow him on Twitter @EzraelVGC

Eduardo Cunha (Portugal) - Current World #4

Eduardo Cunha

Eduardo is wonderful and one of those players who is, plainly, a very nice person. Nobody has a do with Edu. He’s also very good at using unconventional, offense-based setups and for that reason is good to watch and steal teams from. I did, in fact, win myself $500 back in March from a stolen and modified Edu horse team (in which, ironically, the horse did nothing). So uh, thanks mate. Pros: Solid squeaky clean dude, can instantly win by repeatedly mentioning sandwiches, horses, ducks and annoying opponents into forfeiture Cons: Do NOT bring Edu to the hood. He will whip out $2000 cash and say “Hey guys anyone got change for the bus? I only got this”. I know this, because it happened. Edu would take his sore-ankled granny to a massage parlour Follow him on Twitter @MeninoJardim

Players I'm rooting for

Daniel Oztekin (UK)

Daniel Oztekin

I played the Oz in his first ever tournament, and he’s always been a force to be reckoned with for one particular reason: His strategies are horrible, and I hate them. I hate them more than I hate salted liquorice, and benefit fraud. His Smeargle and Xurkitreee team, especially, is a masterclass in how to be annoying, and I respect that. Consequently, there’s few people I’d rather see do well. Godspeed, my dear Oztekin, and please don’t forget to pick me up that Pikachu doll or my Darling will kick me. Pros: Great teambuilder, great bedmate Cons: Don’t let him near your cat. “Sorry”! Follow him on Twitter @Necrocat219

Trista Medine (USA)

Trista Medine

My old friend Trista is, like myself, a relic of a bygone age. One of the last of the old guard, a cheer for Trista is a cheer for the olden days. A cheer for irc, and good-natured internet drama. A cheer for Neopets. They don’t make Pokémon Trainers like they used to, ah tell thee. She’s most at home settled down with a nice, old-fashioned, moderately-crap strategy that probably contains Gyarados. Pros: Better player than 95% of the field, good at dealing with gators Cons: Stews like the dad off Rugrats if the RNG doesn’t go her way (and it usually doesn’t) Follow her on Twitter @ryuzaki_vgc

Players that could surprise everyone:

Markus Stadter (Germany) - Current World #3

Markus Stadter

Markus, ever the emblem of masculine Teutonic grace, was the only 2016 Invitee to earn back a paid trip. Perennially good and secretly an old-timer, Markus quite simply wins if he really wants to: he could, undoubtedly, have gone even further last year. Whilst his recent run at Liverpool was, for lack of a better word: shite, you’d be a fool to sleep on the German. Pros: Has his own strong and flexible, free-thinking style Cons: Prone to Sludge Bombing his own Raichu in Game 3 of the World Semi-Final Follow him on Twitter @13Yoshi37

Jamie Boyt (UK)

Jamie Boyt

Jamie is (much like Ashton Cox of the US), a very unconventional player, with very unconventional strategies. He makes teams with Pokémon you wouldn’t expect, forms a gameplan and executes it to perfection every time. His play is, quite simply, usually flawless. Problem is: it’s all unconventional stuff for a reason, and often his strategies aren’t very flexible. But if you don’t know what it does? You’re screwed. Hell to play but a joy to watch, that’s Jamie Boyt. Pros: This guy won a regional with COTTONEE Cons: Like 3 kids in a trenchcoat at the “adult cinema”, Boyt strats lack ultimate purpose and work until they’re put under any scrutiny whatsoever. Follow him on Twitter @JamieBoytVGC

Miguel Marti De La Torre (Spain) - European International Champion

Miguel Marti De La Torre

The infamous Sekiam is, quite clearly, something of a character. Known for his luck (he once took my friend’s Worlds invite with a Swagger Salamence that hit the 4/4 confusion hits it needed, roughly a 1.6% chance- never mind it having Swagger in the first place), Miguel Marti De La Torre is so feared by the competition because not only is he exceptionally good, he’s also blessed by the RNG. What more could a Trainer ask for? Pros: Roguish charm; very good eyesight Cons: Dresses like Chuck E. Cheese Follow him on Twitter @SekiamPKM

Players the smart money is on:

Sebastian Escalante (Argentina)

Sebastian Escalante

Sebas, despite being a young ‘un, has it all already. He went 8-0 in the Latin American Championship, then left during Day 2, forfeiting thousands in potential prizes because he’d rather fly home and go to prom. You think you’re cool? You’re not as cool as Sebastian Escalante. Pros: Best Swiss record in the world this year Cons: Prom over Pokémon Follow him on Twitter @SebasVGC

Christopher Kan (Australia) - North American International Champion

christopher-kan-300x171.jpg

If someone came up even one year ago and said an Aussie would win a major tournament, they’d have been laughed out of the building. Now who’s laughing? Christopher Kan and Zoe Lou, our two Australian International Champions. Both long-time solid players let down by Australia’s lack of tournaments, they’ve given the rest of the world a run for their money. Both are excellent to watch, but Christopher especially plays like a cat licks its arse: he was made to do this, and he knows it. I think he’ll go far. Pros: Odds-on most likely to win it all. Chris, Chris, he’s our man: if he can’t do it no one Kan. (+ since he’s already won in the TCG, that would be a nice new record) Cons: His little brother outshines him in interviews. “Would you like to give anyone a shoutout to any friends that helped you?” “No, not really.” And there we go: there’s a few of the many names to watch out for at Worlds this year. Even if you’re not there (and trust me the atmosphere is, as always, palpable), don’t hesitate to get stuck into the drama on Twitter! #PlayPokemon is always active, and honestly, the crowd goes wild at this stuff. I’ve held men, screaming, because Aaron Zheng’s Landorus hit itself in confusion. Big guys have rolled off chairs in awe at Rock Slide misses. I have been picked up and thrown into a pool, by Italians, whilst dressed as a frog. The competitive Pokémon scene is a fruitbowl, these are its fruit and I am its banana. -Zog The Pokémon World Championships starts at 10 AM PDT. Watch it on the official Pokémon Twitch stream.