Pokémon World Championships Begin August 19

Pokémon trainers across the globe will be descending upon San Francisco to do battle at the 2016 Pokémon World Championships. From August 19 through August 21, competitors of all ages will put their Pokémon to the test in the Pokémon video games and trading card game to see whose team is better than all the rest. To watch all the action as it unfolds, fans can tune into the livestream at Pokemon.com/Live on all three days.

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Participation in the Pokémon World Championships is by invitation only. The prestigious competition holds qualifying events year-round across the globe, including National Championships in countries like the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, and South Korea. Up for grabs at the competition is over $500,000 in prizes, including a $10,000 scholarship or cash prize for the first place video game competitor in each age division.

The video game headlining the World Championships this year is Pokémon Omega Ruby and Pokémon Alpha Sapphire. With the release of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon later this year on November 18, this may likely be the last year that Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire are seen in competition at the World Championships. As seen at the U.S. Nationals, the legendary Groudon and Kyogre are being used creatively by many of the top competitors. Representing the U.S. as the National Champion in the Masters Division is Chase Lybbert. According to Pokemon.com, here are the unique choices that gave his team an edge at Nationals.

“Most of the players we saw using Groudon and Xerneas in Columbus opted to include a Pokémon that knew Trick Room on their team, but the most common choice for this role was Bronzong. Chase Lybbert instead chose Cresselia, which helped him out more against Groudon at the expense of not being as strong against Xerneas. Cresselia also provided Chase’s team with Icy Wind, which probably helped more than Trick Room in matches where Chase wanted to use Tailwind or Geomancy.”

A champion for the trading card game is also going to be crowned at the World Championships. The latest expansion in the Pokémon card game, called XY — Steam Siege, is hitting store shelves on August 3, and it will be tournament legal. Worlds competitors have only the days prior to the tournament to build a deck and prepare to play against the world’s best players using new, game-changing cards.

New to Worlds this year is Pokken Tournament. Unlike the card game and traditional video game championships, which are closed events with invitations already sent out to qualifying competitors, Pokken Tournament players will compete in a Last Chance Qualifier event on Friday, August 19. To participate, players must register in advance. The event is limited to the first 256 Masters division players (adults) and first 128 Senior division players (tweens) from across the globe.

Although Pokémon popularity is surging worldwide with the successful launch of the mobile game Pokémon GO, there are no announced plans for a Pokémon GO competition at the World Championships this year.

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Pokémon is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, and the celebration is likely to continue in some fashion at Worlds. Arceus is the mythical Pokémon of the month in August with a distribution event planned via code cards at participating GameStop and EB Games stores.

For collectors, an exciting part of the World Championships is the exclusive merchandise sold at the event each year. Typically, the collectibles feature artwork that pays homage to the hosting city or country. The artwork for this year’s competition puts Pikachu and friends in an iconic San Francisco cable car with the Golden Gate bridge in the background. The 2016 Worlds plush features Pikachu holding a toy-sized cable car while dressed in a silver and red snapback with a matching windbreaker. A street smart Meowth has also been spotted among the merchandise.

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Are you planning to see the Pokémon World Championships in person in San Francisco, or will you be watching at home via the livestream? Do you think Pokémon GO should be part of the competition next year? Sound off in the comments below.

[Image via Nintendo/The Pokémon Company]