Whirl Cup

The Whirl Cup (Japanese: うずまきカップ Whirlpool Cup) is an anime-exclusive tournament between Water-type specialists held once every three years. Trainers from all over the world come to the Whirl Islands in the Johto region to compete.

A poster for the Whirl Cup

Trainers register for the Whirl Cup in Inland City on Blue Point Isle, but the competition itself is held in Scarlet City on Red Rock Isle. The Whirl Cup was featured from Octillery The Outcast to The Perfect Match!.


Since ancient times, the Whirl Islands have been home to many different Water-type Pokémon, and the fierce battles seen during the competition represent the Trainers' love and appreciation for these Pokémon.

All the islands in the archipelago prepare months in advance for the competition. Celebrations are often held on each island. The Whirl Cup is probably the biggest attraction to the Whirl Islands. A spiral sea shell, either red or blue, is the symbol for the Whirl Cup.

The legend

It is said that long ago the Water Pokémon Alpha Omega (also called Sea Heroes (Japanese: 海の勇者 Heroes of the Sea)) were expert Water-type Trainers. They lived under the sea and understood the hearts of aquatic Pokémon. In addition to earning a powerful Mystic Water pendant, the winning Trainers of the Whirl Cup earn this same prestigious title.

The rituals associated with the competition are considered vital and kept alive to this day. They are taught by Maya, the Sea Priestess, who wields the Great Sea Spirit Sapphire, which supposedly enables communication between Water-type Pokémon and humans.

Opening ceremony

Maya begins the Whirl Cup by evoking the Sea Spirit Union, which brings together the energy from all Water-type Pokémon.

Closing ceremony

After six days of battling, Maya presents a Mystic Water pendant to the winning Trainer and declares them a new Sea Hero. The Whirl Cup ends when Maya says the following words: "O, Great Sea Spirit and past Heroes of the Sea, continue to watch over the Whirl Cup competition and safeguard the harmony of all humans and Pokémon alike."


The Whirl Cup Colosseum

The main competition is held in the Whirl Cup Colosseum. It is a large coliseum whose central arena is filled with water. One side is open to the sea and spanned by large arches. A high point opposite the open side hosts the seat from which Maya observes the competition. A large screen behind this seat also shows the match-ups and results during the competition. The rest of the outer coliseum is dedicated to rows of audience seating. During the opening and closing ceremonies, contestants are gathered in the arena on gondolas.

The arena features one modest island of flat stone in the middle with four pillars and several small platforms arrayed around it. The battle judge has a stand located below Maya's seat, while the battling Trainers have platforms across from each other below the audience seating.

Inside of the structure, behind the audience seating, there are also consession stands serving food.


The Whirl Cup is divided into two parts: the preliminary rounds and the final rounds, also known as the Whirl Cup Competition.

Preliminary rounds

The preliminary rounds weed out inexperienced Trainers; only 64 contestants can progress to the final rounds. In this way, the qualifying rounds are not considered part of the actual competition. The number of preliminary rounds depends on the total number of contestants, and take place in several different small stadiums, on a combination of land and water battlefields.

Final rounds

The final rounds consist of six days of continuous battling.

First round

The sudden-death opening matches last for two days. Trainers choose one Pokémon each and the winner is decided when the opponent's Pokémon is unable to battle.

Second and third rounds

The winners of the first round are shuffled and randomly paired for the second round, where each Trainer is allowed to use two Pokémon. The first Trainer to knock out both opposing Pokémon is deemed the winner of the match. 16 Trainers advance to the third round, where the battles continue in a similar fashion as the second round. The victors move on to the semifinals.

Semifinals and final

The semifinals of the Whirl Cup are essentially the fourth and fifth rounds. It is unknown how many Pokémon are used in these rounds and the final.

Notable competitors

The finalists of the competition
Trainer Place
Unnamed Winner
Trinity Runner-up
Misty Top 8/Top 16*
Ash Top 16/Top 32*
Harrison Top 64
Christopher Top 64
Marcellus Preliminaries

In other languages

Language Title
Mandarin Chinese 漩渦列島大賽 Whirlpool Cup
  French Tournoi Tourbillon
  German Strudel-Cup
  Italian Coppa Vortice
  Korean 소용돌이컵 Soyongdori Cup
  Polish Puchar Wirów*
Puchar Wiru*
  Brazilian Portuguese Copa Redemoinho
  Spanish Copa Remolino


  • This is the first major battle tournament that Ash has entered with one of his friends (Misty, in this case).
    • It is also the first major battle tournament in which he is outlasted by one of his friends.

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  This article is part of Project Anime, a Bulbapedia project that covers all aspects of the Pokémon anime.