In late March, The Pokémon Company announced that it would be canceling the annual championship series for its video and card games due to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. A bummer for sure, but understandable. It’s now replaced those tournaments with the next best thing: online competition.
The Pokémon Players Cup, as these online events are collectively known, will give players a chance to compete from the comfort of their own homes in the Pokémon Trading Card Game, Pokémon Sword and Shield, and Pokkén Tournament. Starting in July, eligible Masters Division competitors—that is, those born before 2005—will compete in double-elimination brackets that feed into a championship event in August. The three individual champions from that event will earn entry and travel accommodations to a future International Championships event.
The initial brackets of the Pokémon Players Cup will be open to everyone, but separate invitational events will give high-level players a direct shot at the August championship.
Pokémon Sword and Shield tournaments will use the game’s built-in multiplayer mode, whereas Pokémon Trading Card Game Online will host matches in lieu of physical competition. The only snag may come with Pokkén Tournament; while its netcode is better than a lot of modern fighting games, it still isn’t what I would call tournament-ready. The recent reveal of Evo Online, which will be shifting to a lineup focused exclusively on games with rollback netcode, proved just how important a smooth netplay experience is to online fighting game competition.
The Pokémon Company is still hammering out specific dates for the Pokémon Players Cup, so expect those details in the near future.