From PAX AUS: The Australian National Pokémon Tournament from a player’s perspective

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Here at Stevivor we take our Pokémon seriously. When we heard about the very first Australian National Pokémon Championships being held at PAX, I, Shane — self proclaimed Pokémon master — and old friend of Stevivor/occasional Friendly Fire Cast dribbler Matt “Manch” Manchester (he’s the one on the left, below) decided to bravely take up the challenge. Manch and I have been playing Pokémon since its Australian release in 1998, but neither of us had ever played competitively before. After watching a few clips on YouTube we became both interested and intimidated and began training our respective teams to the point of exhaustion.

No joke.

We were actually training our Pokémon at the Stevivor catch up drinks the night before PAX began. It’s serious business.

shane and manch

After training non-stop and trying our very best, we were both eliminated from the competition in the first round. We were at the mercy of some very skilled Pokémon trainers much to our — and the rest of the Stevivor staff members — dismay. Much fun was had on the day and many valuable Pokémon lessons were learnt. Manch and I decided it would be a shame if the only thing to come out of the Pokémon tournament was our disastrous podium placement. So, we decided to have a little chat about the day and pass on what we learned to our readers and any other aspiring Pokémon masters.

Shane: How do you feel about how the tournament in general was run? Did it live up to what you thought it would be?

Manch: It was set up well, especially since they were smart enough to cut off the entries at 12 o’clock, so that people weren’t registering all day long. I like the way they uploaded the rules to your DS card. Even though it meant we couldn’t alter the Pokémon we had chosen for the tournament after registration in any way. Registering was a nice easy process that didn’t take anywhere near as long as I expected it to. I loved the battles being displayed on the big screen, it was entertaining while waiting for your match.

Shane: They were also a little intimidating. I found it to be very well organised and even little details that weren’t super clear on the site, were explained thoroughly at the event in regard to what had to be done before registration and how the tournament would run. What was this tournament like compared to the Victorian event held at Federation Square a few weeks prior?

Manch: The only real difference between the National tournament at PAX and the Victorian tournament was the tournament rules being uploaded to your game cart. That and the option for each player to see his opponents Pokémon before choosing the four to use from the six you registered. The rules were the same. It was just handled in a different manner. There were a lot more Nintendo staff on hand at the PAX tournament making everything run very smoothly.

Shane: I was impressed with how everything was handled at PAX. Just the thought of having to run a Pokémon tournament makes me cringe, but to their credit there were no hiccups that I could see. I wasn’t expecting so many shiny Pokémon in peoples’ teams. Almost every team that was up on the big screen had a few. Were you surprised?

Manch: Most definitely. The amount of shiny Pokémon I saw in one day was just insane. The rarity of finding or breeding one is staggering but I saw entire parties of shiny Pokémon. I’m sure those trainers would be glad to hear it was very intimidating. It just makes you wonder how much time these people have put into these games and building the teams they have for competition. I caught a shiny Magikarp ages ago and that’s the all I have ever seen.

Shane: As cool as it is to see a wild shiny, a Magikarp is no good though because of the guaranteed shiny Gyarados you can get in Silver and Gold. The only shiny I ever caught was a green Zubat in Pokémon Fire Red. Most of these Pokémon tournaments tend to have a limited few recurring Pokémon that people use for competition. Were there many surprises on the day or was it what you expected?

Manch: Yes and no. Since I went to the tournament a few weeks before, there were a few Pokémon in particular that I was expecting to see like Politoed and Rotom. I expected Landorus and Latios because of the levitation ability and there were plenty of them as well as a heap of Dragon Pokémon because they have a slight advantage over most types.

Shane: Until generation VI and the new Fairy type.

Manch: Exactly. So even more reason to use the Dragon type before things are balanced out in Pokémon X and Y. There were a few Pokémon I wasn’t expecting to see like Flygon, but that makes a lot of sense, as it’s a Ground and Dragon type. I was also really surprised to see a Zapdos. I just assumed it would be banned, but apparently it’s ok to use and it gave me a lot of trouble in my battle. If I would have realized you could use a Zapdos, I may have trained one for my party. Electric and Flying is an awesome type combination.

Shane: When you told me the guy you fought had a Zapdos I was surprised as well and after realizing they weren’t banned I expected to see a lot more but I never saw one. Is there anything you were expecting to see a lot of that didn’t have much of a presence?

Manch: Yeah, I thought I was going to see a lot more Bug type Pokémon because they are generally a really good support type character with all the status moves like poison and paralyse. They are usually not bad offensively either. Other than that, not a lot of it was surprising, other than how good most of the trainers were.

Shane: There was kind of a lack of Bug type. I was thinking maybe there weren’t many because there were a lot of Dragon Pokémon and most of them can learn a Fire type move that would quickly take care of any Bug types. I also noticed most teams using safeguard or items that stopped status moves from being very useful, making support Pokémon harder to use. I found that I focused a little more on defence than offence and plan on changing up my team a little for the next competition. Did you learn much from your battle and anything that you saw on the day that will change your overall strategy?

Manch: My team was a lot more offensively geared. I think if I am going to change anything it would be the amount of preparation I put in before a tournament. I was completing the last of my pre-competition Pokémon training in the registration line. I won’t be doing that again.

Hopefully readers will have learnt something or at the very least have an insight into the minds of the Pokémon fans residing here in the ranks of Stevivor.com’s staffers. See you at the next Pokémon tournament.

We want to thank Manch for his time.