WCoP 2022 Recap

By Amaranth. Released: 2022/08/20.
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Art by Pissog

Logo by Pissog.


The World Cup of Pokémon is not like other Smogon Tournaments. Most of them are shaped by the individuals that play in them, and to appreciate them you need a good understanding of all the personalities and the characters in play. WCoP is different. Someone making their first post on Smogon could head to the WCoP threads and immediately find a team that represents them, a team that they can root for.

It is a way for people from the most disjointed parts of the world to come together for one event; indeed that was a huge part of my personal story too, as I used to hang around Italian communities and originally joined Smogon in good part to root for my countrymen, and I dreamed of one day taking part in this tournament too. WCoP's charm is magical and evident even for newcomers, in stark contrast to the rest of Smogon Tournaments, which can take a lot of experience to grasp.

While I haven't yet managed to fulfill that old dream, you can imagine my excitement when I was asked to host this tournament last year. But it was my first experience hosting an official—so I mostly just helped my more experienced cohost, kjdaas. This year, with more experience under my belt and kjdaas being busier, it was time to truly dedicate myself to this tournament and use my position to spread the WCoP fever as far as I could.

And how would I go about doing that? Well, I believe in the power of stories. And every WCoP, every year, each team has its own little story. Some of tragedy, some of triumph, each one infused with that unrivaled passion of people coming together to fight for their region and write their names in the Smogon history books. In this article I will be bringing you the best of those stories, and through them I will let you experience WCoP 2022 again now that the tournament has concluded.

So let's begin by setting the stage. In 2021 US South started the tournament in qualifiers, having finished just 14th the year prior, but went on a legendary redemption run that led them all the way to a tiebreaker in the final, where a timely Triple Axel dodge crowned them champions. The 2022 tournament began with the biggest qualifying stage ever—featuring 15 teams, in a full round robin for the first time—all of them dreaming of repeating that magical US South run. Let's see how they got on!

Qualifiers, Round 1

In the shiny new qualifier format, all 15 teams fielded 8 players, with each player playing two games, to decide the standings at the end of round 1. The first place team would automatically qualify to the main event, while seeds 2 through 5 played a playoff for the last two spots.

Qualifiers featured an eclectic layout of teams: France, usually a giant of WCoP, had a very disappointing campaign in 2021 and had to play through qualifiers for the first time ever. Alongside them, lots of teams, some new, some old, were expected to perform well and show real quality; these included the two other relegated teams from 2021, Asia and China, alongside other highly promising teams, such as Argentina, Chile, India, and UK. However, these established teams were far from the only protagonists.

For example, team Belgium, which was laughed at by some because they ended up looking for players through announcements in Facebook groups, racked up quite a few wins against some of the best players in this stage—perhaps the highlight of their tournament was AyanYuli defeating Fairy Peak. They lost steam towards the end of their campaign and finished with a 7-9 record, but the Facebook warriors can be proud of their showing and will be looking to build upon this roster in future years.

Austria finished with the same record of 7-9, but their road there was much rockier. Their player vapzitar was planning to load up a game with a Wigglytuff; however, veteran player Charmflash decided to stop this from happening by substituting him out for ViZar just minutes before the match was scheduled to happen. The atmosphere in team Austria was very much troubled; Astoria and neomon's heroic 2-0s, with them taking down quality players such as Stareal and le LLiolae, were not enough to rally the team to a playoff spot, as both ViZar and Charmflash himself lost both of their games. With Astoria's dedication to this squad, it's entirely possible that he could turn them into qualification contenders next year in spite of all this drama; only time will tell.

Even with this unpleasant infighting, Austria's run was still not the saddest in this round—that unfortunate title goes to the rookies of team Pakistan. With a roster of names that not many would have heard of, and one player even outright using "Meh" as their username, no one really had their eyes on Pakistan as a real threat; and yet, as the end of the round approached, they found themselves in first place in the standings at 8-4. What seemed to be a beautiful underdog story ended up being nothing but a footnote, however, as Pakistan lost the last four games in a row and finished 8-8, not enough to avoid elimination. Nevertheless, they showed they could be a group to keep our eyes on in the future.

Continuing on the misery train, Chile's first year in WCoP ended in a rather disappointing 8-8. Although their lineup looked promising, their star player Raptor finished with an unfortunate 0-2, and it ultimately proved to be slightly too much to come back from.

Things didn't go much better for their alphabetical neighbors, China; both them and France played in WCoP2021, but they were unable to go further than 9-7, which tied them for 5th-6th place. France decisively outplayed them in the best-of-3 tiebreaker and qualified for the next stage, eliminating the exciting but inconsistent China.

Of the other pre-tournament favorites, one rose above all to finish with sole control of first place at 11-5: team Asia, after a rocky 3-4 start, went on a ludicrous winstreak of 8 games in a row and secured automatic qualification to WCoP. Three teams, Argentina, UK, and India, finished 10-6, and were joined by France in the next stage: two best-of-7 series to decide who would participate in WCoP2022, and who would have to wait for another chance.

The standings at the end of the first round of the qualifying stage

Qualifying standings

Qualifiers, Round 2

And so the stage was set: United Kingdom against India, and Argentina against France.

Team UK, once a WCoP mainstay, were relegated in 2020 and failed to qualify again in 2021. They were involved in a bit of a controversy, as arguably their two best players, xavgb and 1 True Lycan, were allowed to sign up for team Europe instead due to a quirk in the ruleset, and opted to do so; however, with Ahsan-219, astralydia, simp, and Yelodash all stepping up with 2-0 Round 1 records, spirits were high, and the team looked to forget about that setback and earn qualification in spite of it.

Team India, on the other hand, are a relatively new team that qualified for the first time in 2020, but were relegated again in 2021. Spearheaded by YouTube sensation freezai, India's roster features tons of exciting but not quite yet established talents, such as Blimax, J0RIS, pj, and others.

Their series was a back-and-forth affair; every time a team took the lead, the other would tie it immediately in the next game. It featured one of the most memorable teams of the entire tournament; with team UK trailing 0-1, Ahsan-219 brought Copperajah against India's captain, So Noisy. With Melmetal available, and being the 8th most common Pokémon of the tournament up until that point, choosing to run Copperajah over it was shocking to say the least; but it proved to be a brilliant decision, as Ahsan-219 continuously used Slowbro's Teleport to get it on the field safely, and nailed prediction after prediction—Earthquake on Toxapex, burning its Eject Button, followed by Heat Crash on Corviknight, finishing it off in combination with Future Sight, and to top it off a Power Whip to cleanly take down Urshifu-R. With the lead provided by Copperajah's wallbreaking, Ahsan was able to use a combination of Garchomp and Tapu Koko to clean up the game comfortably to bring a win to team UK.

The series continued all the way to the 7th game, with Blimax and simp, who both went 2-0 in Round 1, facing off to decide which team would advance. Blimax would come out on top to earn India their second-ever WCoP showing and force team UK to sit out for the third year in a row.

Team France, as explained earlier, had some trouble getting the ball rolling through the start of qualifiers; however, their showings in the tiebreaker were befitting of a team of their historical status, with Corazan, BIHI, and Fairy Peak all showing up with great performances to dispatch team China. Having never missed WCoP's main stage and even having made playoffs over 50% of the time throughout history, many expected France to find a way through regardless of their struggles—which included having to play without one of their best players on paper, RedEmption, due to an unrelated tournament ban.

However, their opponents were no slouches. Team Argentina have emerged to be one of the most promising new teams in recent years, and though they never quite made it to WCoP proper yet, that is in large part due to poor bracket luck—last year, they had to play US South in the last qualifying round, and they lost as US South went on to win the entire tournament. With France seemingly energized by their tiebreak success, it looked like Argentina had a tall task ahead of them once again.

The game between Argentina's ACR1 and France's Corazan was an extremely tight and interesting affair. It was a game of two breakers: ACR1's Specs Dragapult was extremely scary, with Shadow Ball being great and Surf even hitting Landorus-T and Heatran extra hard if the right predictions landed. However, Corazan's Galarian Zapdos was equally difficult to switch into for ACR1, and he masterfully found repeated opportunities to bring it on the field and cleave Melmetal down with just Brave Birds before too long. It was a game of weighted risks and fine margins, with Corazan eventually coming up on top—he managed to use the threat of a Galarian Zapdos double switch to condition ACR1 into staying with Dragapult against Zeraora, and correctly called the stay-in with Knock Off, which removed ACR1's best breaker. After Dragapult fell, ACR1 tried to mount a comeback with Tapu Lele and Volcarona, and to his credit he got enough right to almost make it, but it was ultimately just not quite enough.

This was the story of the round overall; Argentina put up a good fight, but France's quality proved to be just a bit too much to handle, and they came out with a decisive 4-1 win in the overall series.

And with these series concluded, the stage was set for Round 1 proper. Asia and France would return, China would be relegated, and India would take their place, joining the top 13 teams from the previous year.

Round 1

Entering Round 1, a poll open to all spectators asked for detailed predictions on how the round would shake out. From it, we can gather general feelings ahead of the tournament.

Germany and US Northeast were expected to dominate and be the top 2 teams, with Italy firmly in third. US South, US West, and Europe were expected to qualify for playoffs with some amount of comfort as well. Then, a large group of teams that would fight for the last two slots: Canada, Spain, US Midwest, Latin America, and Brazil all came within 0.5 predicted wins of one another. France was a bit further below them, and the next four teams—Asia, Oceania, India, and Greece—were predicted to round out the bottom of the table with little hopes of making playoffs.

It was therefore not completely surprising, although still shocking to see, when Greece opened the tournament with 10 losses in a row—granted, they also got rather unlucky in at least a few of those games.

On the other end of the table, Canada, Europe, France, and Germany all had hot starts, looking like early locks for playoffs; while Europe and Germany were no surprises, Canada and France finished 13th and 14th last year, and not many expected such explosive starts of them.

Asia and Oceania, both predicted to be in the bottom 4 by the community, also both went 7-5 in their first 12 games, while Italy, US South, and US West, which were expected to land comfortable playoff slots, all had slow starts.

In the second half of Round 1, Canada and France continued their exciting underdog runs and locked playoffs very early.

Once the curse of the first win was broken for Greece, more followed, and their second half performance was rather impressive; it was not enough to climb back from 0-10, however, and their 9-15 final record, while impressive in context, was far from enough for playoffs.

It was, however, enough to climb out of the very bottom spot; that unfortunate honor went to team Asia, who did the very opposite of what they pulled in qualifiers and lost 11 of their last 12 games to crash in 16th place. It's another "maybe next year" year for team Asia, who have not made playoffs since 2016.

Going into the final day, those were just about the only certainties, and the race was still wide open. The first record to be 100% confirmed would be Oceania, who silenced the doubters and placed themselves at a comfortable 13-11 record, likely enough to make playoffs cleanly, thanks in large part to two players mostly known for their Ubers prowess—Aberforth and byronthewellwell—showing up big with 3-0 records.

As more and more results trickled in, Europe and Germany's hot starts revealed to be not quite enough for comfort, as many losses followed and they found themselves deep in a playoff race. To take their playoff spots, US Northeast and US Midwest, two teams that had somewhat unremarkable starts, rose to the occasion with clutch second half performances.

The tail end of Round 1 therefore looked as such: Canada, France, US Northeast and US Midwest were comfortably locked in, with Oceania also sitting relatively pretty, having locked their 13 wins. Only three spots were left, and so many teams were still in the running for them: Europe, Germany, Italy, US South, Spain, India, and US West.

This is the kind of race that cannot be narrated accurately with post-commentary. You simply had to be there to watch as, game after game, the playoff odds shifted dramatically. For the longest time, it was plausible both for a 13-11 team to be eliminated, or for an 11-13 team to make it, depending on how the results lined up. However, as the end of the round drew closer and closer, it was Italy and Germany locking in two more spots, and US South finally being the 8th team to earn their 13th win and lock the playoff layout, with Europe ultimately crashing from 7-2 to 12-12 and placing 9th in a collapse to rival team Asia's.

The standings at the end of Round 1

Round 1 standings


Thus, the Quarterfinals were decided. Canada would play Oceania; US Northeast would face off against US South; France would take on Germany, and Italy US Midwest. Four pre-tournament favorites were joined by four underdogs in what promised to be a very exciting playoff bracket.

Two of the quarterfinals concluded with decisive victories, as Canada and France maintained their Round 1 momentum and won their fifth game while only dropping two against their respective opponents, Oceania and Germany. Oceania was an underdog as well, so Canada still had a few doubters at this stage, but the undefeated Fc and suapah seemed to be the real deal, with Skypenguin also looking in great shape. France's victory against the very highly rated Germany cemented them as a real contender, with veterans Welli0u and Shafofficiel leading the charge with 4-0 records and Corazan and DonSalvatore right behind them at 3-1, all pitching in to win the round.

The other two quarterfinals were much tighter affairs. Reigning champions US South took down US Northeast's star-studded lineup, as Star himself fell to Samqian in an upset. Wins by other highly rated US Northeast players INSULT, ABR, and Finchinator ended up not being enough as US South swept all other games, including the last, where draft league player Xrn cemented his debut as undoubtedly positive with a crucial win over Sage. In the other quarterfinal, US Midwest took a perhaps surprising 3-1 lead against Italy, who then came back with consecutive wins by their talismans Tricking, Punny, and Santu. US Midwest's best player Luthier held the fort for the team and won the 8th game of the series, tying the scores at 4-4 and forcing an additional best-of-3 tiebreaker to be played; Tricking stepped up again for Italy, and Empo redeemed his earlier loss to kythr to give Italy a 2-0 victory and access to the semifinals.


This led to very interesting semifinals: each one would feature a recent champion—2021's US South and 2020's Italy—going up against two underdog teams that were unexpectedly steamrolling the competition, France and Canada.

Despite Canada's Fc finally losing his first game, they managed to take a lead over Italy, with suapah and Skypenguin continuing their great form and Bushtush taking down Empo, putting them 4-3 up. However, for the last game, one of Canada's less established players, Jytcampbell, who was 0-2 in the tournament so far, would have to take on Tricking, one of the best players in Smogon history. As the game started, Tricking took an early lead by critting and KOing Jytcampbell's Taunt Tornadus-T, which would have otherwise been a real issue for Tricking's rather passive team. However, Jytcampbell persevered with his gameplan: Tapu Lele's STABs would invite Skarmory on the field, but the threat of Magnezone switching in would make it impossible for it to stay on and heal up. Once he accumulated enough chip damage on Skarmory, between hazards and a Moonblast, he found a clean double switch on Gastrodon to set up a Swords Dance with Garchomp and proceeded to slice through Tricking's team with Scale Shot and Earthquake, as the Skarmory and Reuniclus were already chipped and Clefable had revealed an offensive set, meaning it would not survive a +2 Earthquake from full. And so David took down Goliath, and the ragtag Canada team that finished just 13th last year and hardly made any lineup changes now found themselves in the finals of WCoP.

In the other semifinal, another undefeated player would fall—France's Shafofficiel, at the hands of FMG—but two of France's rookies, BlazingDark and Pheo', most known for their oldgens prowess, stepped up to score shock victories, and this series, too, found itself at 4-3, with France holding the lead. It came down to France's brightest star Welli0u, taking on Xrn, the only new insert in US South's lineup after last year's triumph, who had done well so far and had clinched the victory in the last game against US Northeast already. Welli0u showed up to the game with a team that featured Seismitoad and Aegislash, two rather unconventional picks, supporting a Swords Dance Rillaboom, a Pokémon that started off rather popular in SS but had been virtually nonexistent for a year before surging back to popularity during this tournament. Welli0u uses the Rillaboom to methodically pick apart Xrn's team, as its best check—Corviknight—gets immediately crippled by Tornadus-T's Knock Off and chipped to near-death by Rillaboom itself over the next few turns. Welli0u can then play an extremely safe and surgical game, knowing that his Aegislash safely stonewalls Xrn's Tapu Lele, his Seismitoad can handle the Heatran just fine, and his own Heatran is also a safe answer to Xrn's Dragapult, giving Xrn little room to outplay him. Try as he might, Xrn's best chance to rescue this game would have been perhaps a Scald on turn 32 that could have burned the Rillaboom but didn't; once that failed, it was all smooth sailing for Welli0u and his Rillaboom, as he brought his record to a stunning 5-0 and allowed France to advance to the final.


Finals were decided, and they were perhaps the least expected finals in WCoP history. Canada and France had a lot in common: they'd never made it past semifinals before this year, and they were coming off a highly disappointing year in 2021, finishing 13th and 14th out of 16. They both stormed Round 1 with 15-9 records, and continued the onslaught with 5-2 victories in quarterfinals and 5-3 victories against the two most recent champions in semifinals. They even both had trouble with players getting banned: France had two players tournament banned and removed during qualifiers, while Canada had one permabanned from the website right before finals. And they were both spearheaded by undefeated star players, suapah and Welli0u— who were paired up for the finals. Everything was set up for a very exciting conclusion to this tournament.

The games opened with another very exciting matchup between Corazan and Skypenguin, both 4-1 so far. Corazan's Dragonite and Tapu Koko forced Skypenguin to keep his Zapdos and Landorus-T very healthy, meaning they couldn't switch into Corazan's own Landorus-T much at all; despite valiant efforts from Skypenguin, Corazan stockpiled lots of pressure and entered a favorable but open endgame. A shocking misclick by Skypenguin seemed to lock the game for France, but it was then revealed that Corazan's +1 Dragonite was still outsped by Skypenguin's Dragapult, which looked poised to sweep... for exactly one turn, as it was revealed to be slower than Corazan's Tapu Koko immediately after. With a great sequence of plot twists, France opened the finals with a win.

The second game was between one of the most unexpected stars of the tournament, France's Shafofficiel, and Canada's go-to sub soulgazer—who wasn't meant to play this year but was forced to play his fourth game of the tournament in finals due to a series of unfortunate circumstances. France continued to demonstrate extreme creativity, as they gave Stakataka its first and only use of the tournament, and found themselves in an HO mirror against soulgazer's more conventional Aurora Veil offense. Shafofficiel navigated the matchup expertly and unleashed a combination of Eject Pack Zeraora into Normal Gem Explosion Landorus-T to stop the Garchomp sweep, eventually finding the right positioning for his Weavile to just clean up in an extremely fast-paced game. France extended their lead to 2-0.

The third game was between two players who usually focus on oldgens but showed up to play SS OU for their country here, France's Pheo' and Canada's Hayburner. It was a tight game, ultimately decided by two timely Static procs against Pheo's Tornadus-T and Urshifu-R, which eventually allowed Hayburner to complete his gameplan by removing Galarian Slowking with Heatran, and sweeping with Choice Scarf Tapu Fini—thanks in no small part to a sweet read in the endgame, catching Pheo's Heatran with a Surf. Canada avoided tragedy and climbed back to 1-2.

If France could perhaps feel aggrieved about the third game due to the Static procs, the next game evened things out, as the coolness of DonSalvatore's Blaziken team ended up being overshadowed by his Garchomp rolling very favorable Scale Shots multiple times and even dodging Bushtush's own Scale Shot. Though DonSalvatore's Tapu Lele was perhaps always going to be well positioned in this game, it was definitely assisted by Garchomp removing two of Bushtush's faster Pokémon beforehand. France brought the lead back to 3-1.

The fifth game featured BIHI, a veteran who already played for Team France all the way back in WCoP 2011, against Canada's hero from the semifinals, Jytcampbell. France continued the innovative streak, this time with a team built around the Heatran / Seismitoad / Tapu Bulu Fire / Water / Grass core. However, one problem with this core soon became evident—Tapu Bulu's Grassy Terrain helped Jytcampbell's own Heatran just as much as BIHI's, if not more. Jytcampbell's Heatran at one point fell down all the way to 33% after switching in on Melmetal repeatedly, but it healed it all back over time with the combination of Leftovers, Grassy Terrain, and Protect and slowly tore apart BIHI's team with a combination of Magma Storms and Earth Powers, clawing another win back for Canada, now at 2-3.

It was then time for France's captain and leader, Cicada, to play his first game in WCoP 22—10 years after his first in WCoP 12. His opponent would be Amukamara, a UU main who entered the tour with low expectations but came through with two nice wins for Canada in round 1. And this game was a simple matter of Specs Dragapult finding enough opportunities to click its Ghost STAB attacks—and Cicada managed to do so, switching in on Slowbro repeatedly as well as eventually sacking other Pokémon and trading down into an endgame where it could sweep. France was now 4-2 and on match point.

It looked to be much the same story in the seventh game, as France's Fairy Peak (and yes, this is the same Fairy Peak who plays professional Rocket League) dismantled Fc's team with Shadow Balls, and Scarf Kartana's revenge kill attempts were flattened by Toxapex repeatedly. However, Fc cleverly spotted an opportunity for a comeback in the endgame, finally hitting Toxapex with a Leaf Blade, 2HKOing it and cleaning up the rest with its Beast Boost, something that Fairy Peak could have avoided had it not been for a lapse in concentration at the worst moment. Canada's hopes were kept alive, as they were now trailing 3-4 and could hope for winning the last game.

It came down to the very last game - and they saved the best for last, as the undefeated suapah and Welli0u would play with the highest stakes possible. Welli0u stockpiled some early pressure with Choice Band Weavile, chunking Heatran and threatening massive damage with Triple Axel. This pressure alone may have been game winning had Welli0u correctly predicted suapah's Tornadus-T with his Explosion, but the Canadian had the correct read and absorbed it with his low-HP Heatran, keeping him in the game. Welli0u was still able to use his Weavile to take down Rillaboom with a Triple Axel before it was taken down, but the game remained wide open, as suapah's Gastrodon was the perfect answer to Welli0u's Volcanion. However, Welli0u's Iron Defense + Body Press Magnezone was also a problem, and it forced suapah to take massive chip damage on his Gastrodon, which, coupled with a lucky Flamethrower burn, was just enough for Volcanion to break through and clean up, giving France the 5th and final victory, concluding the tournament and beginning the celebrations.

Final Thoughts

So that's the story of WCoP 2022, one of the greatest underdog runs in Smogon history and France's first championship. They join the Hall of Fame and now have their names side by side with legendary teams such as the great US East dynasty that made six finals in a row and won five, the Italy team that went 20-2 in playoffs in 2020, and the great dynasties of Asia and Oceania that were now over a decade ago.

If you read all the way to this paragraph, presumably you enjoyed the ride, and found yourself at least a little bit piqued by the WCoP magic that I talked about in the introduction. If you did so, I strongly recommend tuning in for the next one in 2023—it's even more charming watching it unfold live and seeing all these storylines come together game by game as the days pass. I have every intention to be there and to keep making WCoP better and better, for players and spectators alike. And if you're one for history lessons, then you may want to check out this document, which has some more recordkeeping on past World Cups—with 17 years of history in the books, there is truly a lot to discover.

If you followed along with the tournament live, I hope this was a fun retrospective; if you did not, I really hope this article was able to catch your interest and encourage you to tune in next year, and why not, perhaps even join the tournament if you think you have what it takes. See you there in 2023!

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