World Cup of Pokémon 2023 Coverage

By royalfluxh and Theia. Released: 2023/09/08.
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Art by Iyarito

Art by Iyarito.


The World Cup of Pokémon, or WCoP, is a unique tournament that unites players with others from their region with a common goal: earning a coveted blue trophy and proving they are home to the world's finest competitive Pokémon players. The past seventeen editions have seen amazing stories unfold, from Asia pulling off a hat trick in the first three editions of the tournament to US South's underdog story in WCoP 2021, and another amazing journey began this season for two teams who had yet to clinch the finals of a World Cup, despite each making appearances in the finals of prior World Cups.


Seventeen regions participated in the qualifying round for WCoP 2023, including Brazil, Greece, and Asia, fighting their way up from being relegated in WCoP 2022, as well as completely new teams in Peru, Pakistan, and South Korea, all competing for their chance to make it to the main event.

Bangladesh rose to the top of the qualifying pack with a strong 12-4 record, and their enthusiasm and "JOY BANGLA" posts were infectious, rallying their team and spectators alike, and their performance even resulted in a news article being published about the achievement. China, Brazil, and Chile entered into a tiebreaker for fourth, fifth, and sixth place, tied at 10-6, as well for as their spots in the second round of qualifiers alongside Belgium and United Kingdom. China came out on top by beating both of their opponents, and Brazil beat Chile 2-1 to secure the other spot in the next qualifying round.

As the second round of qualifiers began, Belgium selected China to be their opponent, leaving United Kingdom to face Brazil, all racing to be the first to four wins to gain entry to the tournament's main event. Belgium immediately applied pressure with three rapid fire wins from Eoward, Mada, and Wanony to bring them right to the precipice of qualifying. Chaos23333 put on a nail-biting performance to try and put China back in the game, but msnt's victory over KanzakiHAria clinched Belgium's spot in WCoP 2023's main season before a single game had been played between United Kingdom and Brazil. The latter series started out much more evenly matched, 2-2 with a pair of victories from 1 True Lycan and Stareal for United Kingdom and Tamahome and mncmt for Brazil, but xavgb scored another point for United Kingdom, and Yelodash brought it home with a down-to-the wire game that brought United Kingdom into the main event alongside Belgium.


The main event of WCoP sees sixteen regions, thirteen of WCoP 2022's top performers and the three teams who fought their way up from qualifiers, begin another round of pools, which each team fighting one another at least once but not more than twice. After the live draw to create pools, spectators looked forward to seeing tournament mainstays and all-time greats like ABR, SoulWind, and McMeghan compete against newcomers to the big stage like RggV, oldspicemike and TheUzigunner, as well as how teams like India and Bangladesh would stack up against historically strong teams like US Northeast and WCoP 2022 champions France in a brand new generation of Pokémon. With 24 games and three weeks to prove themselves, the teams set off.

Latin America drew first blood, with Fakee beating India's So Noisy with help from a timely critical hit. By the end of the second week, Bangladesh caught everyone by surprise with a strong start, including substitute SKC44 taking down OST champion Vert and closely beating tournaments mainstay crying, as well as Soumav defeating US Northeast's INSULT. Europe and Germany also quickly established themselves as teams to beat, boasting 8-3 and 9-4 records respectively. On the other hand, US South ended the second week with a mere 1-7 record, with pdt as the only one to win a game, and Latin America played over half their games with only a 4-10 record to show for it.

Week three led off with some interesting games, as US West's PikachuZippyZap, better known for their endeavors in the Draft scene, beat number one on the Tournaments Hall of Fame ABR, and mimilimi brought an unorthodox Drifblim team to defeat Trogba Trogba. The final weekend rush saw Europe continue to lead the pack, finishing with a solid 17-7 record, the only team with under ten losses. Spain clawed their way up from a 0-4 start and US West from a 0-3 start to join Germany and France in moving on from pools with 14-10 records. US Midwest edged into sixth place with a 13-11 record, and Oceania, India, United Kindgom, and Italy found themselves tied for the last two places at 12-12. Latin America ended with only eight wins, and WCoP 2022 runner-up Canada joined them at the bottom of the pool with an identical 8-16 record, both teams doomed to face qualifiers next year. Bangladesh, despite their strong start and huge community support, and US Northeast, despite their star-studded roster, sat tied for 13th place, a fate that US South barely managed to avoid with an 11-13 record thanks to a close game from njnp.

Two tiebreakers closed out the pools stage of WCoP 2023: Italy, Oceania, India, and United Kingdom for their place in the top eight, and US Northeast versus Bangladesh to find out who would be relegated in 2024 alongside Canada and Latin America. United Kingdom took their series against India 2-0 with wins from Yelodash and xavgb, qualifying for playoffs for the first time since 2013, and, while March Fires and Niko brought Oceania and Italy one point each, it would be false defeating Raiza that would seal Oceania's place in the top eight. On the other side of the standings, Nat and blunder won in two decisive victories to spare US Northeast from relegation by the skin of their teeth.


WCoP's quarterfinals were dominated by European teams: Spain, France, Germany, United Kingdom, and, of course, Europe itself, joined by the two underdog US teams, West and Midwest, as well as Oceania.

Oceania claimed the first game of quarterfinals, with damien the genius winning over z0mOG with a potent sun team and back-to-back critical hits, and DugZa widened the lead in under fifteen turns. Vaboh quickly answered with a victory of their own for West, but Chloe, March Fires, and Aberforth played three games in two hours to become the first team in WCoP 2023's top four.

Spain and Midwest's series started off evenly, with a win from Garay oak for Spain and a win from Tace for US Midwest, but it didn't stay that way for long. reiku, Ado, Dasmer, and Trosko put up consecutive wins to seal Spain's place in semifinals, and Reze and Malekith played out the last two games in the series to bring Spain to a 7-1 quarterfinals victory.

Germany began their series against France strong from the start. Ewin secured their first victory, and was quickly followed by Sylveon used calm mind, MichaelderBeste2, and Fogbound Lake to bring the score to a precarious 4-0. DonSalvatore and Quartosa put up two victories to lead France towards a tiebreaker, but QWILY and their Grimmsnarl proved to be too much for RedEmption, and Germany became the third team of the top four.

Europe and United Kingdom's series began with two swift back-to-back wins from Joeshh and Stareal of United Kindgom. Undeterred, Europe answered with four in a row of their own from Eeveeto, McMeghan, Highv0ltag3, and Lily; however, with their spot in the top four on the line, Ruft and ZoroDark fell to Ahsan-219 and xavgb, sending them into a tiebreaker. McMeghan made use of powerful offensive threats in Dragonite and Sneasler to claim the first win against 1 True Lycan, and Lily's Meowscarada, Corviknight, and Galarian Slowking worked overtime to win against Stareal, securing Europe the final spot in semifinals.


Trosko led off the Oceania versus Spain series with a victory over March Fires, but Chloe evened the score with a Skeledirge-based victory over Dasmer. Malekith brought Spain back into the lead, and Aberforth evened the score once again, but reiku and Garay oak switched the momentum in Spain's favor and SoulWind closed the series out to make Spain the first team in the WCoP 2023 finals.

MichaelderBeste2 took the first semifinals game in Germany's favor against Ruft with one of the ever-present sun teams, but Europe was quick to put up three wins of their own thanks to Eeveeto, Mana, and Highv0ltag3. mind gaming and their Frosmoth brought another victory to Germany, but Lily, using yet another sun team, brought Europe up to four wins and to the edge of finals. Just like in quarterfinals, however, Europe was unable to secure the final win they needed, and Sylveon used calm mind and xdRudi.exe brought Europe to another tiebreaker. Highv0ltag3 and their beloved stall won the first game for Europe, and mind gaming brought the tiebreaker to 1-1. McMeghan, wielding a Tinkaton, defeated Sylveon used calm mind and clutched Europe's spot in the finals.


After a grueling three months filled with blood, sweat, tears, and every other emotion in between, the top two teams of WCoP 2023 - Team Europe and Team Spain - finally emerge from the battlefield's remnants to go head-to-head against each other for the very first time, both hoping to claim the blue trophy they'd both come so close to and fallen just short of in the past.

[EUR] Lily vs Luispeikou [SPA]

Right off the bat, the biggest thing that stands out in this matchup is the lack of proper Water-resistant Pokémon on Luispeikou's Galarian Slowking + Great Tusk + Zapdos bulky offense when facing up against Lily's specially-boosting Choice Specs Walking Wake in sun, especially because everything bar Zamazenta is slower than it too. The only saving grace to potentially slow it down would be if Hisuian Samurott is running Assault Vest and specially defensive Galarian Slowking's Tera type is advantageous against it, which is forced to be revealed early on in the match after Hisuian Samurott—which lacks the aforementioned Assault Vest—is sacked to gain enough health from Regenerator. Being able to comfortably take on Walking Wake's Hydro Stream means Galarian Slowking can slow pivot out into a prospective revenge killer while simultaneously replacing the sun with Chilly Reception to slow down Walking Wake's assault, especially since Luispeikou's Great Tusk managed to remove its Choice Specs with Knock Off. However, it's unfortunately too little too late, as Walking Wake has done its job brilliantly and thus opens up Lily's Great Tusk and Brute Bonnet to clean up the mess it left behind.

[EUR] McMeghan vs Malekith [SPA]

It won't be a good tournament without somebody 6-0ing someone else right from the lead matchup, and this game is a close second just right behind MichaelderBeste2's Frostmoth game. Even with McMeghan bringing Grafaiai to a high-stakes tournament match, what truly took the spotlight is the Garganacl. This block of salt running away with games with its setup sets is nothing new, but what makes this even better is that it utilizes a never-before-seen Tera type in Electric, and even moreso revealing it right away on turn 1. A surprising development, but certainly an entertaining one to watch! In McMeghan's defense, the early Terastallization helps Garganacl wall Malekith's Zapdos more comfortably, which their team is admittedly quite weak to and is annoying to face in general. Similar to the more standard Tera Water to improve its matchup against Gholdengo and Kingambit, Tera Electric is an overall neutral typing, allowing it to fully utilize its sheer bulk alone to wall the opposition. Most teams' way of hitting it super effectively is with physical Ground-type attacks in Great Tusk's Headlong Rush and Baxcalibur's Earthquake, which it can comfortably take on after a couple of Curse boosts, and Malekith's team is no different in this regard. The lack of disruptive status moves like Encore, Taunt, and Trick + Choice item that the metagame is quite fond off will prove to be a slight oversight, as Garganacl ends up winning the game right on the spot.

[EUR] Highv0ltag3 vs Ado [SPA]

We might have a standard bulky offense on one side, but on the other, Highv0ltag3 pulled up with a very unique balance build. It makes use of the double Unaware core of Dondozo + Clodsire alongside utility Meowscarada to provide the team with a decent speed control and force progress with Spikes + Knock Off, which helps enable Calm Mind Enamorus late-game. With how rigid Highv0ltag3's defensive backbone is against Ado's team as-is, and how unnecessary Terastallizing is for them to do their job, the early reveal of Tera Ground Enamorus is probably the best option to break past Galarian Slowking much more easily with stronger Earth Powers, since it's the only thing that stands in the way of non-stop Moonblasts being unleashed. However, Ado's Zamazenta worked overtime early on; aside from KOing the Clodsire, it kept forcing out the boosted Enamorus, while still being capable of threatening the incoming Galarian Slowking, and it chipped Corviknight and forced Dondozo to use Rest so much that Tera Fairy Kingambit eventually managed to nab the KOs on them once they're weakened enough. Hitting the Enamorus with Sucker Punch might mean that Kingambit will stay alive until the end of the game, but the guaranteed damage prevents the genie from ever boosting with Calm Mind, which allows Galarian Slowking to eventually win the one-on-one matchup and become the last Pokémon standing.

[EUR] Kushalos vs SoulWind [SPA]

A clash of weather between sun against snow that ran the very unusual choice in Abomasnow, which has recently carved a small niche in the metagame thanks to being the only Snow Warning user. The automatic snow, in combination with Aurora Veil, allows it to support its setup sweeping teammates—especially the Ice-types, namely Baxcalibur, but even more niche options like Frosmoth—that are found on hyper offense teams. We've also discussed how Hisuian Samurott is a great lead for these type of structures, but that's not the only thing it could do. Between possessing a strong Sucker Punch to prevent Walking Wake from revenge killing it, stifling Torkoal's attempt at slowing it down with Yawn thanks to Lum Berry, and SoulWind removing Brute Bonnet's Water and Dark resistances with Terastallization earlier in the game, Kushalos's Swords Dance Hisuian Samurott managed to find setup opportunities easily to cleanly wash away the opposition.

[EUR] Ruft vs Garay oak [SPA]

One of the few rare appearances of full stall in the tournament against a Zamazenta balance squad. Due to the reactionary approach that Ruft is forced to take by running these kind of structures, a lot of its sequences become telegraphed; notably, how Alomomola—the team's dedicated Knock Off absorber—will always switch into and sit on Great Tusk while healthy enough to do so, and how Alomomola and Ting-Lu will have to switch around to mitigate Garganacl's Salt Cure thanks to Regenerator and Rest, respectively. Due to the combined chip damage of Stealth Rock, burn, and Salt Cure, Ruft's Alomomola is kept under heavy pressure throughout the game. It is crucially being forced out on turn 48, allowing Great Tusk to get a useful Knock Off on Corviknight. This pressure also critically keeps Alomomola low enough that it can no longer reliably wall Garay oak's Zamazenta in the back. Thus, once the early-game song and dance was over, things were about to escalate once the Zamazenta hit the field on turn 81 after a good double switch into a Resting Ting-Lu. The lack of proper Close Combat switch-ins outside of Clodsire, which possessed pitiful physical bulk in the first place, made Zamazenta ready to put in work. This is further enforced by the stage that Garay oak had set for it; Stealth Rock is up, Corviknight and Alomomola no longer have their Heavy-Duty Boots, and Dondozo is still in deep slumber. The Tera Fighting to further improve Zamazenta's offensive potential causes a reactionary Tera Fairy on Dondozo, which, between Iron Head's higher PP and flinches as well as unfavorable Sleep Talk rolls, gives it more opportunities to muscle past the catfish in the long run. Afterwards, it's just a matter of time before Curse Garganacl and Nasty Plot Gholdengo take over the game, which they eventually did together, all because of Zamazenta. Who's a good boy!

Finals Tiebreaker

It truly wouldn't be WCoP 2023 without a round ending in a tiebreaker, and the finals were no exception. Fielding their strongest players, including 6-2 McMeghan, 6-1 Highv0ltag3, and Garay oak and Malekith with a pair of 5-1 records, Europe and Spain prepare for the final, do-or-die fight for the blue trophy they'd both worked towards for so long.

[EUR] Lily vs Malekith [SPA]

Tera Fire Kingambit, which is a relic of the past from the Volcarona metagame, has returned with a burning vengeance due to the rise and prominence of Moltres and Will-O-Wisp Cinderace. After managing to get two Swords Dances off and keeping its Air Balloon intact for either the Ting-Lu or Great Tusk in the back that would otherwise still take any one hit, Lily's Kingambit is looking to wreak absolute havoc and potentially sweep, as Iron Valiant and even a Terastallized Gholdengo are at high risk of getting obliterated by boosted Sucker Punch, especially with Hisuian Samurott and Sandy Shocks's entry hazards in the equation. However, the reveal of Bulk Up Great Tusk puts Lily in an awkward position when having to play around Sucker Punch mindgames, all while the Great Tusk is accumulating recovery from Leftovers, but they managed to reset momentum by forcing the Great Tusk out with Dragapult. Even then, Malekith eventually reveals the Tera Fairy + Dazzling Gleam Gholdengo, which possessed an insanely good matchup against Lily's remaining team. Since the only thing that can slow it down is the otherwise-fainted Iron Moth, this seems to be Malekith's entire game plan right from the beginning, evident by gladly trading their Meowscarada for a huge chunk of damage on Iron Moth on turn 7.

[EUR] McMeghan vs Trosko [SPA]

Dondozo is commonly seen on either fat balance or hardcore stall teams that love its defensive profile and can somewhat compensate for its relative passivity. However, McMeghan decided to bring it—particularly the Curse variant—on a bulky offense squad alongside staples in these structures that rarely ever run a setup set: Bulk Up Landorus-T and Calm Mind Galarian Slowking. Even though both of them did not seem to do anything much in the game, they indirectly opened up the path for Curse Dondozo by forcing Trosko's Gholdengo to Trick away its Choice Scarf and Amoonguss to remove its Water resistance with Terastallization and trigger Sleep Clause. The stars are aligned even more, as Tera Steel on the Dondozo lets it comfortably stomach Amoonguss's Grass Knot, which would otherwise chunk it, Covert Cloak puts a stop to Garganacl's Salt Cure from ever being a hindrance, and Ting-Lu—which otherwise can phaze a boosting Dondozo with Whirlwind—has been dealt with.

[EUR] Highv0ltag3 vs Garay oak [SPA]

The final match of WCoP 2023 comes down to Highv0ltag3's hyper offense against Garay oak's offense, with the winner taking home the sought-after title. The offensive mirror matchup is looking to be determined by who can generate and maintain momentum as well as eventually out-offense the opposition, and what better way to start it off other than with their Spikes-setting Hisuian Samurott? The unfortunate turn 1 Ceaseless Edge miss puts Highv0ltag3 on the backfoot immensely, but they attempted to crawl back with the Sandy Shocks double on the Tornadus-T on turn 7, giving it momentum to set up Stealth Rock freely. Speaking of, we can't proceed further without addressing the elephant in the room: Garay oak brought a Tornadus-T to a deciding grand finals tiebreak game. This phrase is perfectly normal if it's said in previous WCoPs, but Generation 9 has had the bird's wings clipped by removing a huge slew of its utility movepool. Even then, Tornadus-T's blistering Speed tier came incredibly clutch in this matchup, as it's the only Pokémon in Garay oak's squad that can outspeed and threaten an immediate OHKO on the Sneasler after Iron Valiant's Booster Energy is consumed. After taking care of Gholdengo, it also prevented Walking Wake from setting up an Agility, which could otherwise pose a huge threat by outspeeding Garay oak's remaining team, especially because Tera Steel helps improve Walking Wake's matchup against Galarian Slowking. After unleashing a huge Heat Wave on Walking Wake with Tornadus-T, Garay oak can set up a Future Sight and Chilly Reception with Galarian Slowking into the Nasty Plot Gholdengo to seal the game safely, guarantee the win, and take home the victory for Team Spain.

Metagame Trends

With the first iteration of WCoP that showcases SV OU as well as experiencing the release of Pokémon Home that brought forth a batch of very impactful metagame staples like Enamorus, Hisuian Samurott, Zapdos, and Galarian Slowking, WCoP 2023 was poised to be full of exciting metagame developments and innovations. Unsurprisingly so, it was! Throughout the 3 months of the tournament, we've observed various trends pop up and see plenty of success, including but not limited to:

The "German 6" cinderaceslowking-galarenamoruskingambitgreat-tuskbaxcalibur

This offense team that was originally built and eventually popularized by Team Germany (hence, the name) was used countless times throughout the tournament—even by other teams—and makes for undoubtedly the most well-known configuration of six Pokémon to come out of it. The combination of Galarian Slowking's Future Sight + Chilly Reception works extraordinarily well with Swords Dance or Substitute + Dragon Dance Baxcalibur, granting it with more setup opportunities with the snow—especially with Ice Body—to mount extra pressure on the opposing team. Rapid Spin Great Tusk and Court Change Cinderace notably relieve Stealth Rock pressure on Baxcalibur and Enamorus and, in general, allow the team to combat the hazard-stacking strategies that took the metagame by storm. Choice Scarf Enamorus provides necessary speed control, Ground immunity, and Healing Wish support, with Swords Dance Kingambit and its insane late-game potential ready to clean up games once Baxcalibur has broken through the opposition. Even with remarkable offensive pressure coming from the team, the combination of Great Tusk + Galarian Slowking + Will-O-Wisp Cinderace + Leftovers Kingambit, which are further enforced by their Tera types, can still provide some semblance of a defensive backbone to deal with opposing threats like Dragapult, Iron Valiant, and opposing Kingambit.


Hisuian Samurott Hyper Offense samurott-hisui

Between the limited Defog distribution, increased number of viable entry hazard setters, and most importantly the introduction of Gholdengo as a disruption to both Rapid Spin and the occasional Defog, hazard stacking had always been one of, if not the most prevalent strategies since the beginning of Generation 9. This issue is only exacerbated further with the debut of Hisuian Samurott and its signature move Ceaseless Edge, which is especially valuable in setting entry hazards that bypass Taunt and Hatterene's Magic Bounce. It's not the only thing going on for Hisuian Samurott either; between its Sharpness-boosted STAB moves, priority of choice, utility options like Knock Off, Taunt, and Encore, and even Swords Dance, Hisuian Samurott established itself as the best lead and Spiker of choice for fast-paced hyper offense teams. It's sometimes paired with other supportive teammates like Stealth Rock Sandy Shocks and/or dual screens Dragapult, all of which attempt to support their setup sweeping teammates—including Pokémon like Iron Valiant, Kingambit, Dragonite, and Iron Moth—to take over the game more effortlessly.


Galarian Slowking + Great Tusk + Zapdos Bulky Offense slowking-galargreat-tuskzapdos

Similar to the German 6, another variation of running Galarian Slowking + Great Tusk is to pair it with the classic Zapdos to form the backbone of the metagame's most common and standard bulky offense builds. Aside from covering a slew of offensive threats in the metagame, this core also provides insane role compression between hazard control, pivoting support, and various other utility like status-spreading and Future Sight while still possessing an offensive presence that is nothing to scoff at. Even then, people also started experimenting with slight variations too, most notably running the up-and-coming Moltres over Zapdos for a better check to Enamorus and some Iron Valiant sets while punishing physical attackers like Kingambit, Great Tusk, and Sneasler with Flame Body + Will-O-Wisp. Other changes include running other Ground-types like Ting-Lu and Landorus-T over Great Tusk as well as other Regenerator pivots such as Amoonguss and Slowking over Galarian Slowking. Regardless, this triple threat is often paired with offensive threats that enjoy their support like Dragapult, Iron Valiant, and Kingambit, but going for a bulkier approach with the likes of Garganacl and Skeledirge are also fine options. You just can never go wrong with those three!


Grassy Terrain Hyper Offense rillaboomterrain-extender

With Rillaboom losing a huge chunk of the tools that made it a strong offensive presence in the previous generation, people are fast to conclude of its unviability. However, Grassy Surge turned out to still be its saving grace, as some hyper offense teams that utilize its Terrain emerged quite frequently throughout the tournament. Setup sweepers like Unburden Sneasler and Stored Power users like Cresselia and Hatterene take advantage of Grassy Seed's instant activation and Defense boost, while other Pokémon like Kingambit, Heatran, and Iron Hands enjoy the longevity and survivability they get from the Terrain. Heck, we also get to see a cool tech of Dragon Dance Dragapult luring in physically defensive Great Tusk and nailing it with Solar Beam + Power Herb under Grassy Terrain in Vaboh's quarterfinals match! Rillaboom taking a step back this generation to let its teammates shine truly makes it one of the metagame's most unexpected team players!


Sun torkoalheat-rock

Sun has always seen some usage here and there ever since the start of the generation thanks to the plethora of viable Fire-types and Protosynthesis users like the long-forgotten Chi-Yu and Flutter Mane, Great Tusk, Roaring Moon, and Walking Wake. With the rise of Brute Bonnet and Iron Moth as well as the introduction of Hisuian Lilligant as the only viable Chlorophyll sweeper, sun teams spearheaded by the trusty Torkoal have even more toys to play with and are ready to turn up the heat!


However, it is not to say that other archetypes or team structures are completely unviable, unsuccessful, or unseen. From standard hyper offense that prefers other leads like Glimmora over Hisuian Samurott, rain teams that seek to maximize the potential of Basculegion and Battle Bond Greninja, and all the way to full stall that utilize the classic Unaware cores, the metagame is still growing and sees various optimization attempts like never before.

Final Thoughts

After a very long and hard-fought battle, Spain, originally regarded as a team of boomers, finally emerged victorious with blue trophies in hand, their first victory in WCoP since the nation started participating in 2010. Team Europe put up an incredible showing, bringing the tournament right down to the wire and truly making Spain earn their victory. Of the qualifying teams, United Kingdom returned with a vengeance after failing to qualify for three prior editions, and Belgium also qualified after a three-year effort, secure in their place in WCoP 2024's main stage. As for Bangladesh, well, certainly Smogon has not heard the last of them and Joy Bangla.

For more WCoP history, take a look at Amaranth's WCoP History Hub. To see all of the amazing battles from the tournament, check out the WCoP 2023 Replays thread. And stay tuned for WCoP 2024, because who know what story will unfold next.

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