It’s been three years now since Pokken has been added to the Pokémon World Championship, the biggest competitive Pokémon event in the world. This year was a historic tournament because, for the first time in competitive Pokken history, a non-Japanese player made it to the grand finals. American Jacob Waller from Oak Forest, Illinois, made history by not only appearing at the grand finals but defeating Japan’s Kota Aragaki who was is considered one of the best Gengar players in the world.
The two grand finalist had the perfect story fitting of a world championship. Jacob was largely seen as an underdog, as American players have never had great success in Pokken Tournaments of this level, and Aragaki was sent to the loser bracket of the tournament after his first match. Both players weren’t expected to make it far and yet they battled their way to the grand finals and put on quite the show. Jacob started the grand finals losing two games back to back but managed to turn things around winning 3 straight games afterward to take home the grand prize of $6,000. At the end when asked about his win, Jacob said, “I picked up Pokken three years ago when I was only 15 or 14, and I did not think would get this far. I’m so happy, especially since I got to do it with my favorite Pokémon.”
Ultimately the Pokken World Championships was a solid success. Although Pokken didn’t receive as much mainstream attention as many thought it would when it was announced, it appears Pokken has carved out a nice little niche for itself in the Pokémon community. It makes sense as the game offers players the ability to play as the favorite Pokémon and the fighting style gameplay offers players something a little more dynamic than the standard turn-based strategy games. It’s great to see Pokken not fall by the wayside and provide some incredible tournament action. Hats off to Jacob Waller.