Shoma Honami (@SHADEviera) — Japan
If there’s anyone capable of winning this year’s World Championship, it’s the reigning World Champion himself. Many have discounted Honami in the 2016 season due to his lack of activity, which can be attributed to his automatic qualification from last year. He instead chose to commentate Japan Nationals this year, so he’s definitely been keeping up-to-date on the metagame. Additionally, it’s important to reiterate Honami’s stellar sweep from 2015. He managed to win the Japan Cup, Japan Nationals and the World Championships last year. Honami has proven that he is capable of consistently rising to the top, so only time will tell if he can bust out of the shadows and defend his title.
Kitaoka Tsubasa (@nanakango) — Japan
While most of the attention on Japan is focused on the top finishers from last year’s Worlds and the reigning champion Japanese champion Hideo Koutake, Kitaoka Tsubasa is another player to watch. He finished second at Japan Nationals this year with a Yveltal/Groudon team. While many discounted Yveltal teams as weak to Xerneas, Tsubasa proved them wrong by finishing so highly in a tournament that was dominated by Groudon/Xerneas. He also made unique decisions, such as Tailwind Smeargle, Fire Blast Salamence, and Assault Vest Yveltal.
Wonseok Jang (@Krelcroc) — South Korea
South Korea is one of few countries to have won the World Championships, and Wonseok Jang will look to return the title to Korean soil after Sejun Park last held it in 2014. Jang was the National Champion of Korea in 2012 and proved himself again this year as the runner-up at Korean Nationals. This qualified him for the second day of competition at Worlds, giving him an easier path than many competitors. Jang is known for making interesting but spot-on meta calls and he piloted a dual primal team at his big second-place finish this year.
Matthias Suchodolski (@LegaVGC) — Germany
Matthias Suchodolski is a veteran Worlds competitor, having competed in the past three World Championships. Most notably, he finished 17th last year with a 5-2 record. He’ll likely hope to do just as well this year, since this tournament guarantees top cut to all players that finish with two or less losses. Suchodolski is qualified for Day 2 of Worlds this year after placing second at Germany Regionals and in the top-16 at UK Nationals. He used the dual-primal archetype at both events, so it will be interesting to see if he continues using the duo in his attempt to win.
Philip Nguyen (@Boomguy_Pokemon) — Australia
Being no stranger to success on the Worlds stage, Philip Nguyen finished 21st at the 2015 World Championships using a unique Trick Room team centered around Mega Camerupt. Australia is an often overlooked country, but Nguyen is definitely bringing his region into the limelight, especially given he’s their national champion this year. He even won the tournament with Scrafty, a Pokémon that hardly saw usage in official tournaments before the event. His road is harder as he must battle it out through the first day of competition.
Federico Turano (@AvatarFede) — Argentina
Latin America is another region that goes largely unnoticed, but Federico Turano will look to change that this week. He’s Latin America’s top-ranked player in terms of championship points after sweeping both Argentina Regionals and Nationals. Turano used the omnipresent Groudon/Xerneas combination to dominate these events. This raises the question — will he continue using the duo that brought him success, and, if so, will he be able to defeat those attempting to counter it?