April 4, 2011. My life changed on this day. Nintendo Australia had announced their next connection tour, and it was for Pokemon Black & White. The Battle Competition’s first stop was Sydney, lucky me. I had two weeks to train up a competitive team in time, I knew I was up for the challenge but I also knew this is what would become my next two weeks. I have unfinished business with Pokemon tournaments, making finals and semi-finals in the last few over the years.
When the event was announced, I was still cruising through the game. I absolutely love when a new Pokemon game comes out, and I like to take my time exploring the new world and being surprised at all the new Pokemon in it. So my first step was just to beat the game and enjoy it. I couldn’t think about EVs, IVs and movesets just yet. After beating the main story (not completely) I finally broke my Pokemon embargo and started roaming websites to find out about every Pokemon in the game and their strengths and weaknesses. The rules for the tournament can be seen here, in short it’s Unova Pokemon only, and double battles with 4 Pokemon.
It was exciting looking at all the possibilities, but in the end I went with a strategy very familiar to me, Trick Room. It worked very well for me in single battles in the past, and I knew double battles would benefit from it even more. The first Pokemon I decided on was Reuniclus, I weighed all the Trick Roomers and he came up the best. He had enough of a defense to stay alive for the first turn and his speed is ridiculously low at base 20. Next I searched for some good attackers. Bouffalant was one I wanted to use competitively from the moment I saw him, and his low speed made him the prime candidate. He also had a solid defense along with a good variety of attacks so I picked him to make a good lead.
After this I abandoned the Trick Room idea because I couldn’t find enough low speed attackers who would be effective. During this time of indecision I raised a Hydreigon just because I thought I could slot it into any team. I also went on a quest to get Landorus because he also looked very reliable and I saw a lot of options with him and items. Thanks to a friend, I managed to get a Tornadus from Pokemon Black version which I needed to unlock the Landorus event. Considering this requirement I didn’t expect many other people to have this Pokemon or counters for it.
But I still needed a solid strategy to commit to. I looked up and down the Pokedex at serebii.net and other Pokemon sites for good combinations, but I kept seeing flaws everywhere. I wanted something not only strong, but unpredictable. That’s always been my strong point in Pokemon battles. Then it came to me. Stoutland and Krookodile were the next two I raised. Double intimidate means both opponents attack is lowered two stages as soon as the battle starts, rendering their physical attacks pretty much useless. Special attacks would still be a threat, but I focused on building the HP and Special Defense of these Pokemon when EV training. I finally felt a good direction, and Stoutland and Krookodiles movesets were perfect for it too. I added Landorus to this team and felt I had a very solid team. Solid, but I didn’t think this would win me anything. I looked around at all the big threats that I assumed would be standouts in the competition, the dragons and the flying legendaries. All weak to ice. Beartic was my next Pokemon, after mulling over the lack of high hitting ice types. I was surprised hardly anybody in the new generation of Pokemon could learn Ice Beam.
I built up an awesome Beartic, his stats aren’t huge compared to some Pokemon but I really needed the ice attack ready, and combined with Superpower and Stone Edge he was something worth fearing. He even had Dive ready if I wanted to use Earthquake with someone else. This was when I decided to revisit my Trick Room strategy, he had low speed so he could fit in there very well. I played with the idea and finally clicked together a team. There weren’t any other slow Pokemon I could use confidently, so I picked another Pokemon and made it slow. Haxorus with Iron Ball. Haxorus had a lot of things going for him but I couldn’t figure out how to fit him into a strategy until now. He has devastating attack and his ability meant Earthquake would hit anybody trying to avoid it. I gave it Fling to use when the Trick Room ended and for devastating power, and other standard attacking moves. I played around with the idea of a Sandstorm team but ultimately left it alone; I couldn’t see much payoff.
TEAM 1 / TRICK ROOM PARTY
TEAM 2 / GENERIC ATTACKERS
All with appropriate Natures, IVs and EVs to lower speed and increase attack / defense when needed. IVs weren’t perfect but they were solid. I did what I could in the time I had. With long work weeks it was tough and if I didn’t make compromises I wouldn’t have a team at all. I got training in at every opportunity, out with friends and during lunch at work nestled in my car, scribbling EVs on the back of receipts. At home I barely put my DS down, you aren’t a hardcore Pokemon trainer until you’ve hatched an egg while riding a bicycle on the toilet. I finished all my training with a full day to go still until the competition, I did this on purpose so I could have a better sleep and a clear head going into Sunday. So why did I have two teams? Because I didn’t want anyone to see the Trick Room team coming, that’s why. Enter the competition.
Sunday, April 17
The day had come, I was ready. I got to the event an hour early and there was nobody there, in fact the store was closed. Myer in Sydney is where a lot of Nintendo events are held, because of the big Nintendo area on the top floor. I went down and sat in the food court for a while and relaxed. I had my 3DS with me and I started to get StreetPasses, everyone’s last played game being Pokemon Black or White. Excitement for Pokemon was literally in the air, floating around wirelessly. I went over my team one last time then headed up to Myer. It seemed like everyone arrived at once, all of a sudden the store was FLOODED with Pokemon fans. There were 128 spots available for the competition and they all filled up pretty fast. I got number 60 and after meeting and greeting with friends I was ready to go.
Round 1. Numbers were called at random and that decided your opponent. There was one big screen set up while 4 other matches were played in specified areas on the small screens. Before the tournament officially kicked off they blasted the Pokemon Theme Song from the original cartoon loud and proud – it was a great way to get pumped up. There was a nice variety of teams here, including lots of starters and early Pokemon, and they all put up a good fight. I can’t remember all the details but there were great matches, I was hooked to the screen. After watching a good amount of them, I volunteered for a match on the big screen. I wanted everyone to see my generic team. HERE WE GO!
My Stoutland and Krookodile opened against an Archeops and Conkeldurr. All I could think here was “thank god, no Bisharp”. Bisharps attack would have gone up 4 stages against a double intimidate. Anyway, I opened with Protect on Stoutland, and managed to block a Mach Punch from Conkeldurr. Then his Archeops used Head Smash on Krookodile, which I found a bit odd, but maybe he had Choice Band or something. It did about half damage, I grinned. Then Krookodile was last up, with Stone Edge. It missed! DOH. Turn 2. A Mach Punch gets Stoutland down to two thirds while Krookodile survives on 6HP from another Head Smash. Stone Edge then hits and KO’s Archeops. Then Stoutland uses Last Resort on Conkeldurr, getting it down to the red but not quite killing it. The next turn, he sends out Hydreigon. Instead of letting Krookodile die, I switch to Landorus, who cops a hefty Dragon Pulse that knocks him under half health, while Stoutland cops a Drain Punch which almost kills him. Thankfully he gets in a Last Resort on Hydreigon, bringing it to the red. I never hit his Hydreigon again, it killed my Landorus, who never got to land a single attack, and then it killed Krookodile while a Mach Punch finished off Stoutland. So now i’m down 3 Pokemon to 1. Amazingly, his Hydreigon had a Life Orb, and after those two hits it killed itself. Alright, 2 to 1, this is salvageable. I had Haxorus waiting in the wings, I didn’t expect Conkeldurr to be a problem, with three intimidates now. So I waited with baited breath for his next Pokemon. VOLCARONA! My heart beat a little faster, I still had a chance. Who would go first, my Haxorus or it? I feared the worst as I knew Haxorus had been trained specifically for a trick room team, and had lowered speed. First I took a Mach Punch. Then yep, Volcarona went first, but it didn’t kill me. I was reduced to about one third of my HP with Psychic. I used Rock Slide next, and it KO’d Volcarona in one hit, and did a little damage to Conkeldurr. Then it was just the two of us, and a Dragon Claw quickly finished off the weakened Conkeldurr. VICTORY! I sighed in massive relief. That was closer than it should have been. I shook hands with my opponent and thanked him for the battle.
Round 2. My number wasn’t called but I volunteered again to have a match, this time in a small corner where nobody would see the battle. I wanted to flex my Trick Room team, and after that scare in round 1 I had doubts about the generic team being able to scrape through. I might have to show my hand early. Anyway, into the round 2 match. It started off amazingly, with another Conkeldurr and Archeops again, but things weren’t as they seemed. I got cocky and instead of setting up Trick Room, I used Psychic with Reuniclus. It didn’t effect Conkeldurr. WHAT?! I eventually realised it wasn’t a Conkeldurr, but in fact a Zoroark. Archeops and Zoroark did big damage to Reuniclus on the first turn, reducing his HP down to below half, then I used Stone Edge with Bouffalant and it missed. Darn it. The next turn he kills Reuniclus with Archeops and Bouffalant uses Stone Edge, which hits this time and KO’s it in one hit. Zoroark used Focus Blast on Bouffalant on turn 2 which missed. Then on turn 3 it did the same thing, and missed. I used Megahorn, it missed. DOH! So we’d both had two attacks miss at this stage, it could have gone either way. On his third attempt to Focus Blast it hit and somehow killed Bouffalant who I thought might be able to withstand it, I certainly trained him to, and his base defenses are nothing to scoff at. Oh well, it all gets a bit blurry now. I have Haxorus and Beartic out with very slow speed and no Trick Room. I think Haxorus got KO’d in one hit by a Hydreigon, while Beartic killed it with an Icicle Crash. Then it lost to Conkeldurr in a one-on-one. The end! I lost, but still put up one hell of a fight considering my strategy completely fell apart. I congratulated my opponent and wished him well in the competition, he had a very smart strategy and I didn’t deal with it properly.
Further throughout the competition there were more interesting teams and great battles. I was impressed that someone had managed to make it through the rounds with Galvantula, one of my favourites but lacking in power compared to most Pokemon in the tournament. The tournament ran very smoothly except for one match that I saw, someone was winning their match as the connection was broken, so they had to restart the match and it went the other way around. Lucky for one side but not exactly fair. Stories of harsh luck were common but everybody kept good spirits. A few teams used the combination of Whimsicott and Terakion, including the eventual winner. The strategy of beating up your own Pokemon to raise its attack isn’t something the real champion Ash Ketchum would do, but it was effective.
There was more to the day than just battles, it was a great atmosphere with lots of people, and by the end of the day I had caught up with friends, met new people, and StreetPassed 30 people on my 3DS. I was disappointed in my own performance but I still had a good time, not just on the day but during the preparation. I find training Pokemon a rather relaxing experience, and I can appreciate Black & White even more now that I’ve explored the competitive side of it. Kudos to Nintendo for another successful event, and when the next one comes around, I’ll be there.