After an intense three days worth of battles at the North American International Championships, the final international champion of the 2019 season has been crowned. Wolfe Glick once again proves that he’s one of the best players in the game with him finally capturing that elusive international championship title.
Results & Teams (Top 8)
Wolfe Glick Completes the Quadfecta
Wolfe Glick’s team of Pokémon led him to victory!
— Pokémon (@Pokemon) June 23, 2019
Wolfe Glick is now the first player in Pokemon VGC history to win every tier of major tournament. He’s a six-time regional champion, two-time U.S. national champion, 2016 world champion and now finally an international champion of his home region. There has been a lot of debate over whether or not Glick is the best VGC player of all time, and to those who didn’t think he was before this weekend, this historical victory might’ve changed many minds.
Even though Glick’s path to the championship was full of tough opponents, he actually had a bit of an easier time getting there than most. He received a first-round bye during the Day 1 Swiss rounds and then a free advancement into Top 4 due to the unfortunate disqualification of European International Champion, Flavio Del Pidio. Glick took full advantage of these lucky breaks however, and managed to show us that he belonged at the top of this tournament.
In fact, some believed that Glick would not emerge victorious in his finals match against the Australian hot shot known as Graham Amedee. Amedee had been playing exceptionally throughout the entire tournament, entering Day 2 as the second seed with an impressive Top Cut run despite squeezing into top 8 as the lowest seed. His unique team featuring Lunala, Kyogre and the unorthodox Mega Medicham seemed to have a positive matchup against Glick’s Rayquaza and Kyogre team as demonstrated when Amedee claimed a decisive victory over Aaron Traylor in Day 1 who had a team very similar to Glick’s. However, Glick managed to perfectly position his winning pieces in Rayquaza and Celesteela whilst quickly eliminating the threat of Mega Medicham.
In sports, there’s a common saying that “defense wins championships” and that couldn’t be more true in Glick’s victory over Amedee.
The Rise and Fall of Xerneas and Primal Groudon
I correctly predicted that Rayquaza and Kyogre would take this tournament, but this prediction appeared in check prior to the top cut matches. There were four similar Xerneas/Groudon teams in the top 8 compared to the two Rayquaza/Kyogre teams and the solo Xerneas/Rayquaza and Kyogre/Lunala teams.
Interestingly, a common Pokemon between all four teams was Tornadus, a Pokemon that previously had been mainly associated with Kyogre during the Sun and Moon Series. Kangaskhan made a triumphant return to the spotlight after remaining in the shadow of other Mega Evolutions for the majority of the Ultra Series. This type of team succeeds by setting up Tailwind early with Tornadus so the team can sweep with a Primal Groudon spamming Eruption while Xerneas waits in the back to clean up with a Geomancy. Unfortunately, this team can struggle against Rayquaza/Kyogre teams without the speed advantage, as Mega Rayquaza can outspeed and deal big damage to the entire team. Even though Flavio Del Pidio didn’t get the chance to play against Wolfe Glick in the top 8, I’m convinced Glick had a significant advantage in the matchup thanks to his Celesteela. We saw just how tough this matchup could be for a team like Del Pidio’s after Glick took down former Seniors division World Champion, James Evans, during Day 1.
Lunala is in an interesting position going into the World Championships. While it didn’t dominate Day 2 usage like I initially predicted, it managed to win the entire tournament in the Seniors division while reaching the finals in Masters. These were also two different archetypes showing Lunala’s flexibility in terms of teams it can function well on. What these teams had in common was their hyper offensive nature which may give potential Lunala players an idea on the perfect Pokemon to pair with Lunala.
I was tempted to comment on the potential popularity of Mega Metagross going into Columbus, and I’m kicking myself a bit for not doing so. Mega Metagross was surprisingly popular in Columbus with five placing well in Day 2, including two in the top 8. Mega Metagross was able to perform well across multiple team archetypes leading me to believe it will once again be a popular choice going into the World Championships. Its positive matchups versus some of the best restricted Pokemon like Mega Rayquaza and Xerneas combined with its amazing speed and power look too good to pass up.
Day 2 Team Spotlights
Some players managed to find success with some strategies and Pokemon that aren’t used to often at the highest level of play. I thought it would be fun to talk about some of these cool teams that performed well this weekend.
James Baek’s Tornadus/Kyogre Redux
James Baek was so close to reaching the top 8 in Columbus with a team taken straight out of the Sun/Moon Series. The Tornadus/Kyogre/Xerneas archetype dominated the early phases of the 2019 season, and Baek proved that this team can be just as good in the Ultra Series too. Who needs a Mega Evolution anyway?
Javier Valdes’ Take on Xerneas/Rayquaza
Javier Valdes brought a different version of the well-established Xerneas/Rayquaza archetype that featured Mega Metagross, Mandibuzz and Gastrodon. Valdes had a previous version of this team that earned him a solid placing at the European International Championships with Seismitoad over Gastrodon, but it seems that the results from Japan may have swayed him towards the Kyogre-countering slug. Mandibuzz and Mega Metagross are solid picks for certain matchups, and can further support the team with either speed control or more offense.
Gary Qian Strikes Back With Mewtwo
Qian decided to bring Mewtwo back to North America’s biggest tournament after his top 16 placing at 2016’s United States National Championship. This new take on the Psychic-spam archetype that normally features Ultra Necrozma, utilizes Mewtwo’s devastating Psystrike and greater speed to put even more pressure on opponents.
Joohwan Kim Returns With His Signature Sun
Kim has always been a fan of his trusty Lilligant which worked surprisingly well as an offensive support Pokemon for his team featuring Primal Groudon. Lilligant’s speed doubles in the sun thanks to its ability Chlorophyll which allows it to spread the sleep status and even give its partner the ability to move quickly with After You. Another noteworthy piece is Zoroark which is a tricky Pokemon capable of disguising itself as another member of your team thanks to its ability Illusion. This means of deception allows Zoroark to catch the opponent off-guard with its support moves like Snarl, Snatch or the more offensive Foul Play.
With history being made and a lot to figure about the Ultra Series metagame, the stage appears to be set for the final showdown in Washington D.C. The competition reaches its climax in just under two months at the 2019 World Championships, as the entire field of the world’s best players will battle it over three days for the coveted title of 2019 Pokemon World Champion.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokken Tournament, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
Team Images from Victory Road