2012 Winners
Shuto Itagaki
Pokémon TCG Junior Division World Champion Shuto Itagaki

Country: Japan
Deck: Terraki-Mewtwo
Interesting Fact: Particularly enjoyed trading at the World Championships

World Champion Shuto Itagaki constructed his deck carefully to ensure that he could easily use Terrakion's Retaliate. "I practiced against my friends and my older brother using the Worlds regulations," he says. His hope was to face off against third-place finisher Itsuku Kito, though this didn’t come to be—still, while he battled against many seemingly calm players ("my opponents had great poker faces"), his six years of commitment to the game paid off on the stage for the Finals at Worlds. "Becoming the Champion," he says from personal experience, "is very different from coming in second."

Chase Moloney
Pokémon TCG Senior Division World Champion Chase Moloney

Country: Canada
Deck: Eeltwo
Interesting Fact: Thinks the Trainer card N has real potential in future decks

Chase Moloney had never seen anything like it back in his hometown in Canada: "I walked into the open gaming room at Worlds, and there were former World Champions playing. It was very intimidating." But Chase had come prepared to face those Champs—he'd looked over the metagame following the U.S. Nationals, and he had modified the deck that came in second at that event. His modifications made for some memorable battles, including a semi-finals game in which he faced a Darkrai-Mewtwo deck and promptly Knocked Out two Darkrai in a row. "That was when I knew," the latest World Champion says, "that I was going to take it all."

Igor Costa
Pokémon TCG Masters Division World Champion Igor Costa

Country: Portugal
Deck: Pesadelo Prism
Interesting Fact: Expects Pokémon Catcher to be in every winning deck next year

Igor Costa has won four Nationals in Portugal. Four. Yet he continues to graciously credit almost everyone else for helping him win the World Championships. "A friend of mine helped me build my deck," he says, "and some of the best players in the world helped me at Worlds, and I get to play every week with friends back home." But when his Finals match against Harrison Leven went all the way to time-called on their third game, it was Igor and Igor alone who fought to be the first player from Portugal to win the title of World Champion. "It was a very exciting weekend for me," he says modestly.

Abram Burrows
Video Game Junior Division World Champion Abram Burrows

Country: United States
Pokémon Team:
Cloyster
Thundurus
Volcarona
Landorus
Tyranitar
Hitmontop

Abram Burrows made a clean sweep in 2012, winning the U.S. National Championships, as well. But his final match at Worlds would surely prove to be his most difficult, facing off against 2011 World Champion Brian Hough. His strategy was to keep it simple. "There is always a lot of predicting what your opponent will do, but I usually just went with the obvious choice and that paid off," Abram explained.

Toler Webb
Video Game Senior Division World Champion Toler Webb

Country: United States
Pokémon Team:
Garchomp
Ludicolo
Cresselia
Hydreigon
Rotom
Metagross

Despite finishing third at the U.S. National Championships, Toler Webb decide to create nearly an entirely new team for Worlds. It was a big gamble. "I used only using one Pokémon from my Nationals team, which is why it was so rough for me at the beginning," Toler said. But Toler's plan paid off, culminating in a exciting victory against Jaime Martinez Alonzo of Spain.

Ray Rizzo
Video Game Masters Division World Champion Ray Rizzo

Country: United States
Pokémon Team:
Tyranitar
Garchomp
Cresselia
Hydreigon
Rotom
Metagross

Going into the 2012 World Championships, Ray Rizzo had already cemented his name as one of the best players in history. His winning streak continued by beating rival Wolfe Glick in the finals. He was happy to see a United States sweep of the top spots in 2012. "A few years ago, Japan was dominating the game, and now to see the United States as World Champions for a couple years in a row is really something," he says.