2022 World Championships: Meet Team Japan!

The World Championships, which will be held on 18–21 August 2022, are finally back after three years! In these articles, we will take a look at the best players that are qualified to compete in the biggest event of the year.

Here we have Japan! Let’s meet the 23 players with a Day 2 invite, and take a look at some of the other approximately 100 Day 1 invitees this region brings.

Table of Contents


Japan at Worlds

The fact that Pokémon is a Japanese franchise is notorious, as this country in particular deserves a whole separated treatment from the rest. Japan is great at this game and features the current World Champion!

From the time when VGC was not even VGC, Izuru Yoshimura proved that Japan is a giant force with his victory in the 2008 Video Game Showdown. Since then, Kazuyuki Tsuji (2009), Shoma Honami (2015), Ryota Otsubo (2017) and Naoto Mizobuchi (2019) have repeated that feat.

The latest World Championships featured an all-Japan finals, with Hirofumi Kimura alongside Naoto. Another Japanese player, Kazuki Kobayashi, reached top 4. Will Japan keep dominating the scene?

Requirements for a Worlds invite

As per the Japanese system, all players that have made it to a top 50 (or better) finish in the Japan National Championships earn a Day 1 invite. Additionally, the top 8 players achieve a direct pass to Day 2, with the best 4 players earning a Travel Award.


Day 2 players

Kentaro has achieved his second Worlds invite, the other having been in 2017, although he didn’t attend back then. There is a tradition that says that the Japan National Champion will reach finals at Worlds, something that has been true for Shoma, Ryota and Hirofumi so far… Will this trend continue?

The Japanese has achieved the invite with his victory at Japan Nationals (2022), to which he qualified by achieving a top 30 result in the best-of-one International Challenge February (2022). In both times he used standard Zacian + Kyogre compositions, proven once again to be successful.

He is one of Japan’s representatives in the current World Cup.

Sho will participate in Worlds for the first time!

Sho earned their invite with their second place at Japan Nationals (2022) using Yveltal + Kyogre, to which they qualified by achieving a second place in the best-of-one Japan Nationals Qualifiers (2022).

Tomoyuki will participate in Worlds for the third time! He already played in 2017, in which he achieved a fantastic top 4 finish, and in 2018, where he played in Day 1.

Tomoyuki has earned his invite with a top 4 finish at Japan Nationals (2022), after being 6-0 in the best-of-one Swiss rounds. He qualified to this event by achieving 11th and 20th places in the International Challenges March and April (2022), respectively, with entirely different teams each time.

In the global scene, Tomoyuki has reached top cut in the Victory Road to Frankfurt (2022) and has played several times in the NPA team tournament. He is also part of the Japanese roster in this year’s World Cup.

Kaoru is another newcomer at the Worlds stage, participating for the first time!

Kaoru has earned his invite with a top 4 finish at Japan Nationals (2022), with an Eternatus + Dialga team that surprised everyone. He qualified to this event by achieving 17th place in the International Challenge February (2022) with a more standard team.

Naoto is the current World Champion and has been in the scene for a long time with much success. He has achieved top 8 spots at Japan Nationals four times, and he has got similarly great results at Worlds: a top 16 finish in 2010, a top 4 finish in 2015 and the World Championship title in 2019.

Naoto had already earned a Travel Award and qualified to Day 1 with his 2019 Worlds victory, but he raised the stakes again and made it to the top 8 of Japan Nationals (2022) using Zacian + Ice Rider Calyrex to have a direct pass to Day 2. He earned his spot at Nationals by achieving 22th place in the International Challenge March (2022) playing a safe Rinya Sun.

As World Champion, he has been invited to celebratory tournaments, such as the VR World Champion Invitational (2020), making it to semifinals, and the Players Cup 25th Anniversary Invitational (2021).

Fumiaki will play in Worlds for the first time!

Fumiaki made it to the top 8 of Japan Nationals (2022) using the comfort Rinya Sun, the same team with which he qualified for the event in the International Challenge April (2022).

Hijito has qualified to Day 2 of Worlds for the second time, as he had also reached top 8 of Japan Nationals in 2018. However, he didn’t attend last time.

Hijito earned his invite with a top 8 at Japan Nationals (2022), using a very innovative Eternatus + Ice Rider Calyrex team. He had qualified to the event with a 20th place at the International Challenge March (2022), using then a Zacian + Yveltal team featuring Golisopod.

Tatsuya already qualified for Day 1 in 2019, though he didn’t attend. This will be his first Worlds appearance, and directly into Day 2!

Tatsuya earned his invite with a top 8 at Japan Nationals (2022), using a very original double-weather Groudon + Kyogre team. For that event, he had qualified by achieving a 14th place in the Japan Nationals Qualifiers (2022) with a very similar team, then using a Scyther over Golisopod!

Kohei has earned his first-ever Worlds invite! He is in a similar situation as Kentaro regarding the tradition of the Japan National Champion reaching Worlds finals. Will we see this doble-champion duel in the end?

Kohei achieved the feat of winning the unusual, mixed online/live Japan Nationals (2021) after a two-year-long break without live events in Japan. In a format where Torkoal and Venusaur were especially strong, his original team featuring Choice Scarf Cinderace, Sableye, Rapid Strike Style Urshifu, Alolan Ninetales, and the Regieleki + Regidrago combo helped him achieve victory.

After his victory, Kohei was invited to the Global Exhibition, where he played in a global stage for the first time.

Rinya comes to the Worlds stage for the third time in a row! He already qualified to 2018 and 2019 with a Day 1 invite, but both times he managed to get to Day 2. Now, he has a direct pass to Day 2!

Who hasn’t heard Rinya’s name yet? His 6th-placed team in the International Challenge February (2022) has marked the VGC Series 12 metagame, as variations of his original Zacian + Groudon team broke all frontiers to win Regionals in Europe, North America and Asia and even the Europe Internationals. That place earned him a spot in Japan Nationals (2022), in which he reached top 16 using Ice Rider Calyrex + Reshiram. However, he had already earned a Day 2 invite to Worlds the previous year, when he got to the finals of Japan Nationals (2021) in Series 9.

In the global grassroots scene, Rinya was part of the Japanese roster in the 2021 World Cup, and has achieved a top cut at the VR January S12 Challenge (2022) and a top 16 in the Victory Road to Frankfurt (2022).

Kiyoshiro will participate in his third Worlds, second as a master. He had previously played in 2016 Day 2 as a senior, and in 2018 Day 2 already in the masters division.

The Japanese achieved his best result this season last year with a top 4 finish at Japan Nationals (2021). He qualified to this year’s Nationals by placing 36th at the International Challenge March (2022) using an Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia team, but could not improve his result from 2021.

In the non-official scene, Kiyoshiro had made top cut in the Victory Road to Frankfurt (2022) with a very similar Calyrex + Palkia team.

Yuma has earned his third Worlds invite, after having played in Day 2 of 2017 and Day 1 of 2019.

Before gaining the support of Japanese esports team Umbra, Yuma earned his invite with a top 4 finish at Japan Nationals (2021). He also qualified to this year’s Nationals by placing 26th and 18th in the International Challenges February and March (2022), respectively, with a similar Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia team. And adding to that, he topped the in-game Ranked Battles ladders in March and April, proving his versatility by using Rinya Sun and Zacian + Kyogre teams.

Yuma has been part of Team Japan in the World Cup since the 2021 edition.

Takuma already qualified to Worlds Day 1 in 2019, but he didn’t attend the event. Now, he is back stronger with a direct pass to Day 2 in his second qualification!

Takuma made top cut at the Japan Nationals (2022) with an Yveltal + Groudon team that helped him achieve a fantastic 6-0 record in the best-of-one Swiss rounds. He had qualified to the event with a 13th place at the International Challenges February (2022) using the core of Zacian + White Kyurem. However, he had already earned a Day 2 invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021).

The Japanese also adventured into the global online tournaments with a top cut in the VR February S12 Challenge (2022), using his Zacian + Kyurem team.

Wataru already played in Day 1 back in 2017. He will be playing his second Worlds directly in Day 2!

Wataru earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) using a very curious team featuring Entei and Runerigus. He has tried to qualify for this year’s Nationals without success, but that struggle with the Series 12 format may come to an end this August.

Go will play in Worlds for the first time!

Go earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021). Since then, he has been a familiar name in the top places of the monthly ladder seasons of in-game Ranked Battles.

This will be the first time Kota plays in Worlds!

Kota earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) using a team featuring Uxie. With the qualification in his hands, he has not played VGC as much this year, but may have been preparing in secret!

Naoya previously qualified to Day 1 in 2019 as a senior, but he didn’t attend. In his first year as master, he has qualified directly to Day 2! In the same spot as Kentaro and Kohei, he is a current Japan National Champion looking forward to fulfil the tradition of reaching Worlds finals!

Naoya earned his invite in the seniors division by winning last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) and taking advantage of the age-up to masters. As a master, he did qualify to this year’s Nationals with a top 60 spot in the Japan Nationals Qualifiers (2022) using a Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex hyper offensive team, and made it to the top 32 in the Japan Nationals (2022) with a Zacian + Palkia team.

In the global scene, Naoya was part of the Japanese team in the 2021 World Cup and has reached top cut in the VR January S12 Challenge (2022).

This will be the second time Ko plays in Worlds, and his first as masters. Ko is the current World Champion in the seniors division!

Ko had already earned a Travel Award and a Day 1 invite with his 2019 World Championships title, but raised it to a direct pass to Day 2 by placing second at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division. Already as a master, he managed to make it to the top 32 of this year’s Japan Nationals (2022) with a Zacian + Kyogre standard team, similar as the one he used to qualify for that event by placing 7th in the International Challenge February (2022).

In the non-official international circuit, he has been a part of Team Japan in the World Cup since 2021 and has performed especially well in the World Cup Open tournaments held prior to the two editions, with a top 8 in the 2021 tour and a victory in the 2022 one.

This is the second time Kaisei earns an invite to Worlds, after playing in Day 2 of 2019 as a senior!

Kaisei earned his invite by reaching top 4 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division. However, he has not been playing VGC since he aged up to the masters division, instead reinventing himself as a Pokémon GO competitive player.

In fact, he has also earned a Worlds invite in Pokémon GO by reaching top 8 at this year’s Japan Nationals in that game! We wish him the best of luck if he decides to participate in GO!

This will be the first time Hinata plays in Worlds!

Hinata earned his invite by reaching top 4 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division and taking advantage of the aging up to masters. He has yet to prove himself in this division, and is looking for a breakthrough in this Worlds!

Masahiro is also a newcomer to Worlds!

Masahiro earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division. With not much known about him since he aged up, we are looking forward to seeing him see success!

Motoki earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division. As a new face in the new age category, we hope to see great things from him!

Yuhi will play Worlds for the first time!

Yuhi earned his invite by reaching top 8 at last year’s Japan Nationals (2021) in the seniors division. Let’s see what he brings to the table at Worlds!


Day 1 players

The following list comprises all players that placed 9th to 50th in the Japan Nationals and earned a Day 1 invite to Worlds, as well as those players in the top 4 of 2019 Worlds.


Closing words

Congratulations to all Japanese players having qualified for the World Championships! As, arguably, one of the toughest regions in the World, there are high expectations on their shoulders. We wish you all the best of luck.

If you’re not attending but will be following their struggle from home, check the Pokémon World Championships website for detailed infos on the live stream.

You might also like...

Receive Roy’s Fuecoco via Mystery Gift!

Use a Mystery Gift code to be revealed on 26 July to redeem Roy’s Fuecoco! It is based on the one in Pokémon Horizons and has the Partner Ribbon.

Victory Road