Huge Pokémon tournament disqualifies all finalists for protesting unfair format

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Pikachu sulking
Image via The Pokémon Company

Korea’s biggest Pokémon tournament just ended with a bizarre twist as all four of the finalists were disqualified.

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According to VGC player Nash, the top four players received an email stating they were all disqualified from participating in South Korea’s Pokémon Trainers Cup finals, effectively canceling the event altogether. This also meant they lost their Day 2 invites to the World Championships later this year.

While the email claimed the players committed “an act of causing harm to other participants or giving an offensive image” and other “inappropriate” actions, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

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Many players in Asian regions have been frustrated with how different their tournament structures and qualification systems are compared to other regions. Some of the biggest issues include using the best-of-one format and poor communication from The Pokémon Company. The Taiwan National Championship, for example, saw one top player protest on stream by nicknaming their Pokémon team based on issues within the circuit.

The four finalists of the Pokémon Trainers Cup protested in a similar way. They all agreed to give each of their Pokémon one move only—Metronome, which randomly selects any move in the game for the attacker to use. The finals would have been decided purely based on randomness and luck.

Rather than making the finals competitive, the players wanted to make a point to The Pokémon Company and let their voices be heard. And although they were disqualified before the event could be streamed, their efforts haven’t gone unnoticed by the VGC community. 

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VGC veteran Nick Navarre and other players from around the world are praising the disqualified finalists and showing their support. In particular, one player, Gabe Mendoza, decided to show up to Milwaukee Regionals this weekend with the same Metronome team as Nash.

Korean player Sejun Park, who famously won the World Championship in 2014 with Pachirisu, also weighed in, stressing the need for The Pokémon Company to hear and respond to the players respectfully instead of just disqualifying them.

As the remaining regional, national, and international tournaments wrap up, the World Championship is quickly approaching. If The Pokémon Company chooses to remain silent despite all the frustration and protests from players, who knows what might happen in the days leading up to or during the most important tournament of the year.

Update June 3, 5:00pm CT: Replaced “Korea National Championship” with “Pokémon Trainers Cup,” the official name of the tournament mentioned.

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Author
Karli Iwamasa
Karli is a freelance writer based in the Bay Area. She has written about your favorite video games on sites like Dot Esports and TheGamer. When she's not writing, she's playing VALORANT or the latest Pokémon game.