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Sunday, November 4, 2018

My first Pokémon competition

I started playing Pokémon Ultra Sun on 18th of August 2018. At first, I was just playing it for fun, but at some point, I learned that people also play Pokémon competitively. I found out that there's a Pokémon Video Game World Championship which is held every year around August. This year, it was held in Nashville, Tenessee.

When I learned all this, I thought, "That's so cool! You could actually literally be the World Champion at Pokémon, like in the games and the Anime!" Of course I had to give it a shot.

And so I began to find out more about how to qualify for the World Championships, and basically, what you need to do is participate in official Pokémon competitions which can be at live events around the world, and also online competitions. This article gives an overview of what the Pokémon VGC (Video Game Championships) is about: https://www.pokemon.com/us/strategy/an-introduction-to-the-video-game-championships/

Fast forward to October, and there was an online Competition organized by the Pokémon company in conjunction with Halloween. It's called the Ultra Spooky Cup, and the rules were that you had to use Pokémon which fit the "Spooky" theme.

As a prize, everyone who participates in the competition and completes at least 3 battles would get a Shiny Mimikyu, so I thought I'd give it a shot, since I'd have nothing to lose, and I'd get a Shiny Mimikyu to boot.

And so I began preparing.

This was my first competition, so I didn't really know what I was doing, but I gathered that the basic steps would be to:

  1. Read the rules, know which Pokémon are eligible, know the format of the battles.
  2. Pick the main Pokémon I'd like to have in my team.
  3. Pick the other Pokémon that would complement my main Pokémon
  4. Acquire said Pokémon by catching them and breeding them to get the right IVs (stats), Nature, Ability, and Egg moves
  5. Training the Pokémon so they have the right EVs
  6. Level up the Pokémon so they learn the moves that I want them to know.
  7. Teach any remaining moves to them via TMs and Move Tutors
  8. Figure out what items to give each Pokémon to hold
  9. Acquire any items that I want to give my Pokémon, but which I don't have yet

Admittedly, that's quite a process. And at the time, I wasn't very familiar with PokémonShowdown, which is a battle simulator which lets you try out the Pokémon you pick out in Steps 2 and 3 before you go on to actually acquire those Pokémon in-game. That's definitely something I should do in the future, because steps 4 - 7 do take a bit of time.

Luckily, I had already completed the in-game Alolan Pokédex, and I had quite a few Pokémon with their hidden abilities which I had either caught earlier on because I liked that ability, or which I'd gotten via Wonder Trades. And luckily I also had a few Pokémon with perfect IVs in compatible egg-groups (categories which determine which Pokémon are able to interbreed), so I was well equipped to breed my team of Pokémon.

Anyway, I picked out a team, I bred the Pokémon, I EV trained them, and then I felt I was as ready as I could be for my first competition, considering that I also have a job and a life outside of Pokémon. (Although I have to admit, when I first got into it, I almost did forget that I had a life outside of Pokémon haha!)

Once I had my team ready I was super excited. Here's the main team I'd come up with:

Basically I wanted Weavile on my team so I'd have an Ice type Pokémon.

I didn't really give it too much more thought than that really. And I didn't think too much of how its moveset would synergize with the rest of the team.

I did think of a nickname for it though, along with one for each of my other Pokémon

I brought Incineroar because I wanted a Fire type on my team.

Yes, for this first competition I basically picked Pokémon based on their typing, as well as the typing of the moves it could learn, and not much else.

And yes, I realized later that I have 3 Dark-type Pokémon on my team, but at that point I was kinda set on this team, and since it was going to be my first competition, I didn't bother too much about changing that.

I put U-turn on this Incineroar, because…Well, I'm not really sure now. I didn't have a good reason at the time, I just did it.

This moveset was an idea I had in my head from when I was paying through the game a few months ago and I caught an Absol which had the ability "Super Luck" which increases its critical hit chance by 1 stage.

So I had come up with this Critical Hitting Absol, and when I saw that Absol was allowed for the Ultra Spooky Cup, I decided to breed this Absol and put it in my team.

I gave it moves which have a higher chance of doing a critical hit, and by giving it a Scope Lens, which also increases the chance of a Critical Hit, this Absol basically does guaranteed critical hits with each attack.

I taught it Perish Song too, although I didn't have a solid plan of when I'd use it.

I think I had battled someone who beat me using a Toxapex, and seeing the amount of damage that this Pokémon could take, I decided to get myself a Toxapex as well. Also, that Regenerator ability is great, letting Toxapex recover 1/3 of its HP when it's switched out of battle.

I got lucky and bred a Shiny Toxapex. It didn't have perfect IVs, but it was SHINY and the IVs were close enough so I decided to use it.

After using this Pokémon a lot I've grown to absolutely love it.

Since this competition I've actually come up with a Full Toxapex team, consisting of 6 Toxapex with different Abilities, EVs, Natures movesets and held items for just-for-fun 6v6 single battles. That team doesn't really win that many battles, but I love it anyway.

I love Toxapex!

I picked Trevenant to be on my team by basically looking at all the Ghost-Type Pokémon I have, and picking one that had a secondary Type which I didn't yet have on my team. And I saw Trevenant, and I knew about its Harvest ability, so I thought I'd try that out. Trevenant with Harvest is really quite nice and has good longevity in battles.

I'd changed the moveset before the competition, replacing Phantom Force with Forest's Curse and Wood Hammer with Poison Jab. I did that because I thought it would synergize better with the rest of my team. In my mind, I'd turn the opposing Pokémon into a Grass type with Forest's Curse, and then attack it with Poison Jab for super effective damage, or switch into Incineroar to attack it with Flare Blitz for super effective damage.

In reality though, that didn't happen, because the opponent could either switch out, or my Trevenant would take too much damage in the turn it used Forest's Curse.

I definitely still want to see how I can make use of Forest's curse in future teams though.

I picked Garbodor to be on my team because I love this Pokémon! I love its design, and I love that it's literally a Trash Heap Pokémon.

It didn't do much for me in this competition. In fact I only used it once, because it doesn't really have great base Stats.

I'd really like to see how I can incorporate Garbodor into my teams in the future. Maybe not for serious competitions, but at least if I could somehow make it viable for casual battles, I'd be so stoked.

Note that my Garbodor is in a Luxury Ball. It's glorious when it comes out on the battle field surrounded in sparkles:

Just look at that glorious sparkling trash heap!

Those were the Pokémon I'd bred for the competition, but since I own two copies of Pokémon (both Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon), I went ahead and bred a few more Pokémon in my copy of Ultra Moon, so I could participate twice. And I ended up shuffling around the Pokémon in the two teams, and so finally, I had the following two teams for the competition, which I basically took part in twice:

Team A: Ditto, Incineroar, Weavile, Drifblim, Trevenant, Absol.
In my mind, this was going to be my winning team, but it really didn't do so well. Drifblim was a Pokémon I'd added in the last minute to provide some minimize + tailwind + baton pass support to Absol who's so fragile. It was good in theory, but I didn't get much practice using this combination, so it didn't work out so well in in practice.

Team B: Ditto, Incineroar, Weavile, Toxapex, Garbodor, Mimikyu
I relegated both Toxapex and Garbodor to my B-team. I already had 2 Dittos with the Imposter ability, so I put one in Team A and one in Team B. I really like Ditto, by the way. I didn't have much time to breed a whole new team of 6 Pokémon, so I instead just bred my Incineroar and Weavile from Team A so I could have them for Team B as well. I gave them different EVs and movesets than the ones in Team A though, and it worked out better. I put Mimikyu in this team for the same reason: I already had a 5-IV Mimikyu which I'd gotten through Wonder Trade, so it was quick for me to breed that to get one with the Nature I wanted.

In the end, Team A didn't do very well at all, but Team B finished with a positive ranking.

Participating in the competition twice with two different teams was very tiring and daunting though, so I won't really do that again. I might however, just slap together a team made up of Pokémon I'd bred for previous competitions so I can use it as my B-team next time, but just to complete enough battles to get whatever prize that's distributed.

This time around I decided to participate twice not just for the Shiny Mimikyu, but to learn as much as I could and get as much battle experience as possible in a short time. For each participation, you get to do 15 battles per day, over 3 days, so I ended up playing 72 matches that weekend (at some point I just stopped using Team A), and that's a LOT!
Now that I've gotten what I wanted out of this experience, I'll stick to just one team, because 45 battles is already plenty!

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