3 Trophies
Image: Nintendo Life / Joe Merrick

It has been three years since the last Pokémon World Championships, so the excitement for the 2022 event had been building for a long while.

For the first time ever, the Pokémon World Championships were held outside of North America, taking place in the UK at the ExCeL London and it brought massive crowds of Pokémon fans together for the first time in a very long time.

Due to the UK location, this year The Pokémon Company International kept up with the motif and had Pikachu dressed in a Beefeater outfit, and even took over the cable cars in London with a Pokémon theme.

In this feature, we'll recap all the main events and highlights of the Pokémon World Championships 2022.

What are the Pokémon World Championships?

The Pokémon World Championships are the final event in the season where players can compete against each other to gain the title of Pokémon World Champion.

This started in 2004 with the TCG but over time expanded more and more with even more games. 2022’s World Championships are the first and — for a while at least — only World Championships to feature five different games for players to compete in: VGC (Pokémon Sword & Shield), TCG (Trading Card Game), Pokkén Tournament, and for the first time ever, Pokémon GO and Pokémon UNITE were added in. Sadly it was the last year for Pokkén Tournament DX.

In a change to prior years, the World Championships this year took place over four days, starting off on Thursday with VGC and TCG players trying to earn a place in the Day 2 competition, while Pokkén Tournament and Pokémon GO held Last Chance Qualifiers to gain a place in the main competition, which started Friday.

Thousands of players qualified for the World Championships over the last few years, so it really was a showing of the very best.

Pokémon Center

Like all past World Championships, there was a Pokémon Center at the World Championships and this year it took lessons from the Pokémon Center London pop-up store in 2019.

This year, you had to book an appointment to go into the Pokémon Center in advance. These didn’t fill up aside from the first day and you also had the opportunity to sign up for a virtual queue on the day. At first, things did look a bit iffy when the queue system broke on the Wednesday, but this was resolved fairly quickly and the rest of the weekend went smoother, though some products did sell out.

11 Pokemon Center Merchandise
Image: Nintendo Life / Joe Merrick

This Pokémon Center was arguably the largest ever done and featured lots of room to move, as well as lots of photo opportunities. There was also plenty of exclusive merchandise, with the standard World Championships line featuring this year’s motif of a Pikachu & Roserade plush, deckboxes, playmats, Nintendo Switch cases, figurines, T-Shirts, hoodies, magnets, pins, and more, as well as two more unique lines featuring clothing; the Pink Line and the Gingham Line, meaning there was something for everyone.

It also featured several collections that were recently added to the Pokémon Center UK website, and more plushies than you can imagine, including some that had yet to be released in the UK.

What Was There To Do?

So, you came to the Pokémon World Championships but you’re not competing, so what exactly is there to do?

First, you can watch the matches. The staging area was set up in such a unique way this year that included full seating stands and the ability to watch all the streams from the stage on huge screens. It truly was a spectacular site and a big step up from prior years where you had folding chairs in front of a large screen.

There were side events throughout the weekend for VGC, TCG and Pokémon GO. This allowed you to take part in small tournaments to win prize tickets which could be exchanged at the prize wall for a variety of items including plushies, playmats, and even some exclusive goods, ranging from “Ditto Draft” and Gym Leader Challenge (where you used decks of just one type) in the TCG to Catch Challenges in Sword & Shield (where you had 30 minutes to catch Pokémon in a route and train them up before battling with only them). The Malamar Cup was a bit hit, too, where you have to play with your Switch upside-down.

There were demo pods for Pokémon Legends: Arceus throughout the event, as well as a lot of photo opportunities everywhere.

In another of the halls, there was also a Pokémon TCG Play Lab where people could learn how to play the TCG with specialised decks, as well as see a demo for the upcoming Pokémon Trading Card Game Live Mobile/PC game.

There was also something for people who hadn’t got a Spectator Pass. Outside the ExCeL was Pokémon Worlds Square, a small area where you could go in and participate in a variety of activities including face painting, getting some special food, customising bandanas, and creating custom TCG cards. Nearby on Friday, there was also a special showing of Pokémon The Arceus Chronicles, a special episode of the anime that is due for release on Netflix in September 2022.

In many ways, this year had the most things to do at the Pokémon World Championships than in any prior event.

Pokémon GO

As with prior years, Pokémon GO had a tie-in event with the World Championships.

As it was the first year with Pokémon GO as a major arm of the competition, there was a global event that brought the special Pikachu to the game as well as Zacian & Zamazenta raids.

However, there was also a secret event at the World Championships themselves, just like every year since 2017. Here, there were over 20 stops or Gyms around the event hall to spin and they all came with unique Field Research to get either Pikachu, or the Regional Exclusive Throh & Bouffalant and raids were running every hour at all event gyms.

The Tournament - Winners

Pokkén Tournament DX

This year was the final year for Pokkén Tournament at the World Championships, and it was bittersweet.

This year continued the Team Battle format where you brought three Pokémon and battled with all three of them to determine the match winner, in a best-of-five double-elimination format. It started on Thursday with the LCQ, then had the full tournament on Friday. As always, the atmosphere among those playing and those watching was electric.

The finals ended up being Shadowcat versus Mewtater. Shadowcat, a well-known face in the Pokkén Community had come in through the LCQ the day before and just kept pushing through the Winners Bracket before hitting the Grand Finals.

Facing Mewtater, Mewtater managed to reset the bracket and made it an unbelievably close battle until Shadowcat managed to clinch victory and be the fifth and final Pokkén Tournament World Champion.

Pokkén is powerful.

Winners:

  • Masters: Shadowcat
  • Seniors: Fruitprime

Pokémon GO

It was the first year for Pokémon GO to truly be at Worlds, following the 2019 Pokémon World Championships.

Although it had some issues on Day 1 with the network connection, this was mostly gone by Day 2 and the battles carried on. With many varied teams on show, the battle ended up between Gudenhada and DancingRob where the match went to the bracket reset and then went down to the wire with all matches being played. With there being a Ninetales VS Alolan Ninetales matchup, DancingRob ended up claiming the victory.

Winners:

  • Masters: Dancing Rob
  • Seniors: MEweedle

Pokémon UNITE

This was the first year Pokémon UNITE was in the World Championships and was the first official competition where teams from different regions collided, with all the qualifiers being region specific. As such, the clash of strategies became clear. The UNITE setup was a classic esports affair, with all the teams up on stage at separate desks to battle, and spectators were enthralled.

In the end, the finals ended up being between Noun Esports from Europe and BLVKHVND from the Americas. BLVKHVND had got through the tournament undefeated, not even losing a game, and the Grand Finals followed that with the team taking full control and dominating the opponents and ended up swiping a quick victory and becoming the first Pokémon UNITE World Champions with their team of Aegislash, Hoopa, Trevenant, Blissey and Cinderace.

Winners:

  • BLVKHVND

Pokémon TCG

The Pokémon TCG continued going from strength to strength this year and there have been many cores used throughout competitive, most recently and most notably was the Origin Palkia V setup.

However, in the Grand Finals of the Pokémon TCG, this was nowhere to be seen. Instead, we ended up with a mirror match of a different deck, one built around Arceus VSTAR and Flying Pikachu VMAX, a card that previously was dismissed as a bad card but has risen to prominence in recent months.

In the final, Ondrej Skubal faced off against Daichi Shimada, and throughout the match, Ondrej managed to maintain the upper hand, using many disruptive cards, like Boss’s Orders, so that he could control which Pokémon he did damage to, and eventually won the battle.

Winners:

  • Masters: Ondrej Škubal
  • Seniors: Liam H.
  • Juniors: Rikuto O.

Pokémon VGC

This year was the first and final year of the World Championships on Pokémon Sword & Shield — a game that’s based all around Pokémon battles — for tournaments. It’s an unfortunate situation but after an enforced hiatus, it’s good to see it back once more.

The battles in-game all took place in a modified version of Wyndon Stadium. The ruleset allowed for two Legendary Pokémon to be on each team, a ruleset typically reserved for three years into the generation and not the first World Championships, but it did bring some massive battles. The standard teams were shown throughout, with many Groudon or Kyogre lynchpins in teams creating weather and players fighting it.

In the Grand Finals, the battle ended fittingly as we go into the Scarlet & Violet era, with Portugal’s Eduardo Cunha and Spain’s Guillermo Castilla Diaz facing off. Eduardo having chosen to ignore the weather aspects with his team, bringing Zacian and Shadow Rider Calyrex as his Restricted Pokémon, faced Guillermo’s sun-focused team built around Groudon, Lunala, and Gigantamax Charizard.

Eventually, Eduardo managed to come through, with an undefeated record, and became the World Champion

Winners:

  • Masters: Eduardo Cunha
  • Seniors: Yasuharu S
  • Juniors: Kosaku Miyamoto

Next Year – To Japan For The Pokémon World Championships 2023!

At the end of the Closing Ceremony, as they often do, they gave us a sneak peek at competitive play in the upcoming Gen 9 pair, Pokémon Scarlet and Violet, and announced where the 2023 Pokémon World Championships will be. While many expected a return to the Americas after the London one, a huge surprise was dropped; the Pokémon World Championships next year are to be held in Yokohama, Japan.

This is the first time that they have been held in Japan and you could tell how well this went down by the huge applause and celebration throughout the event hall.

So, Did It Live Up To The Hype?

This was arguably the best and busiest Pokémon World Championships yet.

The staging was massively improved, there was a lot to do and if this shows the path the organisers are on, next year will be even bigger. Meeting so many people who share the same passion is always good and was much needed after the last few years.

The atmosphere was one of pure joy and excitement. After years apart, with Pokémon once again shooting up to prominence with Sword & Shield’s success and the surge in popularity of the Pokémon Trading Card Game, this was the first time since that Pokémon fans from across the world would come together to celebrate their passion, and it was glorious. The ExCeL was kitted out beautifully, with people playing, cosplaying, and so much more. There was a real sense of happiness about the place.

It was a long time coming but we finally got there, and this is undoubtedly just the beginning. If you're a huge fan and you're wondering whether to head to Japan next year (global travel restrictions notwithstanding!), don’t hesitate. This is truly the Pokémon haven.