It was the kind of play that dreams are made of. With a minute left on the clock and his entire team knocked out, Kyriaos had only one chance to fight back. If he couldn’t secure the kill on Zapdos, his team would have no way to stop their opponents from scoring an irrevocable amount of points. With the entire enemy team between him and his target, Kyriaos stood in a nearby bush, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. As Zapdos’ health plummeted, Kyriaos charged in, unleashed a flurry of punches with Machamp’s Close Combat, and miraculously, secured the kill. When his team rejoined the fight, they were able to score enough to lock in Game 1 of the winners bracket. BLVKHVND kept that momentum throughout the entire tournament and in the end became the first Pokemon Unite World Champions.
The play was one of the biggest hype moments of Pokémon Worlds 2022, made even sweeter by BLVKHVND going on to win the entire championship. I got to sit down with the team in the arena following their historic victory, and Kyriaos walked me through how he pulled off the play of the day.
“Renaissance were extremely team-fight oriented,” Kyriaos explains. “They had three Pokemon that scale extremely well. So we had lost the teamfight very quickly and it was just me alive against four of them. But realistically their secure on Zapdos is a little weak with the Pokemon they were playing, so I had to just sit in that left bush just focusing on when to get in and not die and figure out the best chance to steal it.”
The five Pokemon on Renaissance’s team were strong, but without something like a Dragonite or Talonflame, they were only able to chip away at Zapdos, rather than burn the last chunk of its health in one shot. This weakness in their composition is what gave Kyriaos the opportunity to steal, but that wasn’t the only thing that gave Machamp the advantage.
“I think what makes teams very nervous in the very last seconds before Zapdos dies is knowing that there’s a possibility that the last Pokemon can steal it,” Kyriaos says. “They have some indecisiveness about whether they should kill that last Pokemon or whether they should just keep going for the Zapdos. I just think they kind of panicked and didn’t finish the objective enough, but they also didn’t kill me, so that’s what gave me the steal: their indecisiveness.”
Rewatch the clip, and you’ll see exactly what Kyriaos means. When Machamp charges in, Renaissance momentarily turns to face him. Gardevoir stuns him, but the team decides to turn back to Zapdos instead of finishing him off. When Machamp recovers, he’s able to use Close Combat to deliver the final blow to Zapdos . Had Renaissance just focused on Zapdos or Machamp they would have won, but it was the hesitation that gave BLVKHVND the upper hand in the end.
Zapdos has long been a point of contention for many Pokemon Unite players, who feel that what Kyriaos did here gave his team an unfair advantage. But his breakdown of the play is a great reminder that skill, timing, and decisive plays will always be the difference maker. You can call it a steal, but Kyriaos planned his attack carefully and outplayed his opponents here.
Zapdos will be rotating out of Pokemon Unite next week, along with Remoat Stadium. The introduction of Theia Sky Ruins and the Rayquaza boss fight will present an entirely new scenario for players, so whether you loved Zapdos or hated it, you won’t have to worry about it anymore – at least for a time. I can’t imagine a more perfect way to bid farewell to the yellow bird than this incredible play at the Pokemon WCS.