Tuesday, October 25, 2016

VGC 2016 Review: How the Season Went

I want to talk about what happened during the VGC 2016 season overall. What happened throughout the entire season overall, whether it'd be controversial or quite boring. We'll start in January and end in August while only talking briefly about September-November as it isn't as important, but still needs to be covered. Hope you enjoy it and let's start by talking about the beginning of the season.

August 2015 --> December 2015

While nothing major happened, we got the 2016 CP payout for all events. The problem was that the CP payout wasn't to many players liking, so after talking to TPCi, it was changed and was much more reasonable. We also got word of a new type of event called a Midseason Showdown, which were essentially a type of event which is in the difficulty level between a Premier Challenge and Regionals. We then had our round of Fall Regionals and many players earned a large chunk of Championship Points and some players even passed 300 points, which would later prove to be a good thing. Many events also started to have an entry fee, which was mainly $20 in the US or something like that at many Regionals across the world. When December came around, we got a new ruleset, which allowed 15 Legendary Pokemon to be used in battle, and also a CP Bar. While the new ruleset and CP Bar would later prove to be controversial, it wasn't changed at all and something we had to deal with throughout the season. 

January 2016

In January, we started to incorporate the new ruleset in sanctioned events, but because we had access to these legendary Pokemon, there was a new problem that some players would accidentally bring either 3,5, or 6 Pokemon, which would cause them to lose a match in non-sanctioned events. We also got the creation of the "Big 6" team ( groudon-primal   salamence-mega ), which would prove to be a very dominating team taking many events. We also had the chance to play in the January International Challenge, which was actually pretty cool as you could take a team and play up to 45 battles with it to learn what to change with the team. 

February 2016

When February started, so did a set of Regionals as well. We saw a new Pokemon that hasn't had success in VGC since 2009, Bronzong () used by both Alex Gomez and Aaron Zheng to win their respective Regional. We would later find out that Bronzong would be a staple member in the VGC 2016 season as a whole, which is cool as Bronzong hasn't had VGC success since 2009. 2 Restricted Pokemon cores in RayOgre ( kyogre-primal) and Dual Primal (groudon-primalkyogre-primal) would prove to be very dominate cores and a staple of the VGC 2016 format. We would also learn of a

March 2016

When March started, the new type of event, called a Midseason Showdown, started to happen throughout the season. While how many should occur and attendance numbers we're a bit controversial, many players earned their invite to the World Championships, due to doing well at the events.  A new restricted Pokemon core in Kyurem-White + Groudon (proxy?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.pokestadium.c groudon-primal) also started to appeared, with Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson) being the main person that was piloting it. It was a cool  as you could use Gravity efficiently and spam Blizzard/Precipice Blades and try to whittle down their offense. We also saw Mewtwo () start to appear on teams and became a threat quickly due to its damage.

April 2016

April was pretty dead for the season except for the core of Yveltal + Primal Groudon (groudon-primal ) gaining popularity due to how it has a positive matchup vs Dual Primal.

May 2016

When May came around, so did the start of various National Championships. The first one was the UK Nationals in England. Many players earned their Day 2 invites including Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs) and William Tansley (StarKO) who finished in the Top 8 and Top 4 respectively. But in the end, Alex Gomez (PokeAlex) would win the whole event using Dual Primal (groudon-primalkyogre-primal) after defeating Ethan Hall (Jhon) in the Finals And also securing his Day 2 invite as well. Sadly, favorite to win Joseph Richardson (Gogogo Golems) finished in the Top 32 and bubbled out of the Top 16 CP Chart at 17th place and lost out of a Day 2 invite despite winning 3 Regionals in 1 season. The very next week, another Nationals event was held in Germany. Many players like Florian Wurdack (DaFlo) and Alexander Kuhn (Hibiki) who finished in the Top 8 and Top 16 respectively showed their skills, but in the end, 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati (Mean) defeated Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana) managed to win the event using YvelDon (groudon-primal )  and earn the triple crown, which is when you win all 3 major events.

June 2016

When June happened, 2 more major Nationals happened, one in Italy, and the other in Japan. In Italy, players like Alessio Yuri Boschetto (PokemonZone) and Alberto Gini (Matty) both showed their skills and finished in the Top 8, but Javier Señorena (Proman) managed to win the event using a new restricted core in XernRay () as well as locking up his Day 2 invite. Interesting enough, Mark Duó and Gerard Curto both finished in the Top 4 and Top 8 respectively using RayOgre, but both opted for a Choice Scarf Kyogre. In Japan, as their qualification system is different, we saw Koutake Hideo (zzLiarzz_muteki) win the event using a rather interesting restricted core in RayDon (groudon-primal) alongside a Sylveon to win the event. We would later see this core used by another player named Stefan Smigoc (EektheGeek) at US Nationals to finish in the Top 8.

July 2016

At US Nationals, we saw a rather interesting site as Aaron Zheng (Cybertron), who was a favorite to do really well, join the commentary team. We also saw Wolfe Glick (Wolfey), another favorite to do really well, miss out on Day 2 by finishing 5-4 in Swiss, but he made it up at the World Championships. Interesting, Grant Weldon (Velocity), had a dominate performance and made it all the way to a well-deserved Top 4 finish, but in the end, Chase Lybbert (I am a Rookie) defeated Aaron Traylor (Unreality) in the Finals using the ever so popular XernDon ( groudon-primal ), but Aaron also had a rather interesting sight in using both Cresselia and Bronzong on his team to help in many different matchups that certain Pokemon struggled in. Sadly though, days after the event, we lost the Battle Spot ladder for VGC '16 to Flash Clash, which is essentially a faster paced single battle without Mega Evolution. 

August 2016

Its August and the World Championships took place. We saw Wolfe Glick (Wolfey), Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37), and Baris Akcos (Billa) use the same team to finish 1st, Top 4, and Top 8 respectively. We also saw Aaron Traylor (Unreality), as the only player that started in the Day 2 that finished in the Top 8. We also saw Eduardo Cunha (EmbC) as a surprising player that finished in the Top 4. Jonathan Evans (Ezrael), Justin Carris (Azazel), and Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson) also showed a dominate performance, finishing 2nd and Top 8 for the latter 2. In the Top 16, we saw Giovanni Costa (The Gio), Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs), Blake Hopper (Bopper), Sam Pandellis (ZeldaVGC) Edward Kh Cheung (HarbingerAegis), and Matthias Suchodolski (Lega) all showed that they were very strong players. To wrap up the Top Cut, we saw Patrick Smith (Salamenace), Alejandro Jimenez (Legacy), Andrew Nowak (Nowakgolf), Conan Thompson (Conan), Dane Zieman (AgentOrangeJulius),  Wonseok Jang (KrelCROC), and Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana) all made the Top Cut, which showed how good they were. We saw 24 players that all win at least x-2 and made the Top Cut. Also, Edward was the only player to defeat Wolfe in all of Day 2.

This will wrap up the review, but I want to give my overall opinion on VGC 2016 as a whole.

My Opinion on this format
I actually enjoyed this format, but I do understand the criticism of this format. I was really happy because this format really confirmed my playstyle in Pokemon in general, which is a more bulky playstyle, using Pokemon that can take a couple hits and deal a good hits in return. Pokemon like Suicune fit this example really well because Suicune can take a strong neutral hit pretty well and use Scald and Ice Beam for a good amount of damage. During VGC 2016, I used mainly Dual Primal because it felt very comfortable to play because of its bulk and also helped me make better switches and more efficiently, which was helpful. I was also happy to be able to use these Restricted Legendaries like Groudon, Kyogre, and Rayquaza for example, which I feel that people missed and I hope that I'm still involved in VGC when we get this opportunity again. When we go to the Alola-Pokedex format, I hope that strategy and more defensive play is something that's more prevalent with more focus on the type chart as I feel it makes for a more interesting metagame when Fairy type moves aren't doing 50% to everything in the format when it gets 2 stages of increase, but that's a wish. I also hope that hax and luck isn't as big of a thing because if it isn't, then skill can take its place and battles can be decided more on which player made the better calls and reads rather than who got lucky.

That's gonna do it for this VGC 2016 review. I hope you enjoy and something that I want to know is what are your overall thoughts on VGC 2016 as a format and what changes would you like to see happen in VGC 2017. Let me know and I can't wait to see what your changes are. Check out my older VGC content and I'll see you guys next time. Bye!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

New Changes to the way we battle in Pokemon Sun and Moon

The Pokemon Company has dropped some major news on today and I want to talk about some big ones. While we did get the first evolved forms of the starter Pokemon, which all look cool and you can check them out here, we did get the first hint of news for the VGC '17 season and a new way to battle online, which I want to talk about. You can read the news yourself here.

No Mega Evolutions
Yes, your reading this correctly. Mega Stones will not be allowed for use in the VGC 2017 competitive season. This means that certain Pokemon that depended on their Mega Stone to be competitively viable like Charizard, Kangaskhan, and Mawile, will now need to depend on their natural strengths to be good. For other Pokemon like Gengar, Salamence, and Metagross, who were honestly still good without their Mega Stone won't be terribly disadvantaged. It'll be interesting to see how this changes the metagame and it may seem like more of a mix of VGC '13 without Mega Evolutions, a restricted format like we had in VGC '11 and VGC '14 with the new Pokemon from the 7th generation.

Only Pokemon in the Alola Pokedex allowed for use
Another change that many people suspected would be a thing is that only Pokemon found in the Alola Pokedex before the player has access to the National Dex would be allowed. Well the Pokemon Company confirmed this and we will indeed only be allowed use of Pokemon that are found in the Alola Pokedex. This will be interesting as we only really have this type of format right after a new generation of Pokemon games are released. We had it in 2011 with the release of Pokemon Black & White and again in 2014 with the release of Pokemon X & Y. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out and I for one am looking forward to see how the new 7th Gen Pokemon and the older Gen 1-6 Pokemon that we have access to will mix.

Z-Crystals are Legal
Z-Crystals will be legal for use within the new games. While this isn't a major surprise, it's still noteworthy as these will be the special item that players will have access to. While your still only limited to 1 Z-Crystal that can be activated in a battle, it'll be interesting to see what's the right blend of Z-Crystals to use on your team in combination with the vast variety of items available for use,

An Official VGC Ladder
In Pokemon Sun and Moon, an official VGC ladder will be a thing. Called "Championship Battles", it'll be available right at the launch of the new games, which means that players will have an official way to play once you have a battle-ready team to try out and tweak it as you go along. This is the one I have full support for as especially with VGC '16, once the ladder was taken down for the Flash Clash format, practicing became very difficult as the only way to play multiple games in a row was Pokemon Showdown, which isn't the greatest form of practice. Now we have an officially supported ladder, which is only going to tell of great things to come.

VGC Chess Clock 
The final big thing is a VGC Chess Clock. The way it'll work is that for 1 battle, a player will have 10 minutes that they can use to make their decisions. The difference is that those 10 minutes are for the whole battle, meaning that the match could be almost over, but if you don't have enough time left, you could be at a disadvantage. This change will discourage timer stalling (using the full 45 second timer to run out the clock), as by doing this, you'll run out of time fast and may get put into uncomfortable situations. The key will be to carefully conserve the amount of time you have.

Battle with other People's Teams
New to the games, you can actually take someone's team and play with it on the ladder. The way it'll work is that you can make a QR Code of a team, and sent it to other people or post it online for all to use. This could be cool as if someone does really well at an event or really enjoys a team and want to share it so others can try it, which could aide in testing more teams frequently and allow for the best versions of teams to shine.

Overall, I'm very excited for these new changes. I feel that VGC '17 will be an amazing season and I can't wait to see what's going to happen in the future. Leave a comment if you will about your opinions on these new changes. Check out my older content if you haven't already and I'll see you next time. Bye!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

VGC Tips #5: Leveling up in VGC

Time to talk about leveling up in VGC, or improving your game, but leveling up sounds cooler. Now that I did 3 articles talking about improving some key aspects in VGC like team preview, Best of 3 play, and teambuilding, I want to talk about how you can get better at VGC on your way to becoming a top player. Let's get started and I hoped you learn something from this.

Legal Pokemon are Important
This is very important as once you lock your team in at tournaments that require you to lock your battle box for the team your using that day, you can't change it and if you don't know if your Pokemon are legal, then you may get hack checked and if even one Pokemon isn't legal, then you'll be automatically disqualified and won't be refunded if there was an entry fee. You can check out this article here from Bulbapedia to know every Pokemon that was given out as an event. Most will be in a Cherish Ball, which is the special event Poké Ball they'll be caught in. Make sure that your Pokemon are legal so you don't have to worry about getting caught with an illegal Pokémon. Essentially, make sure that your Pokémon are legal as it doesn't matter if you got them from someone else, its up to use to make sure good to use.

Like the old saying goes "Practice makes Perfect!" This saying holds true in VGC as you generally want to practice with the team you plan on using at a big event to make sure the team has some good answers to the best Pokémon in the format and how the metagame is currently going. Certain players are able to do this, but what separate them from other players that try this and fail at it is they understand the game very well and there natural skill in the game helps them hide the lack of practice with a team with skill. Also, make sure that when your practicing, make sure that your practice is going towards a good cause, mainly understanding your team better and also maybe fix a weakness that your team has. Don't go to practice and then you find out that you played 30 games on Pokémon Showdown or 10 games on Battle Spot for example and then realized you learned very little. By practicing with a purpose, you'll get better with your team and eventually the game. By practicing, you'll learn more about how much an attack from that Pokemon might do and improve your prediction skills, which is always good to know and you'll get gradually better at this.

While in Battle ...
When your in battle, just remember that every battle you'll play is a learning experience whether you won or lost. I find that when losing, you learn the most about how you play as you can examine what you did wrong and what you could've done differently to ensure something like that doesn't happen as frequently. Always examine risk vs. reward. What this means is that is the decision you want to make a safe one with a good chance of success, or is there a better play you can make now that may not seem like a good idea now, but is going to put you in a better position later in the match. Also make sure that your predictions aren't risky (Using Thunderbolt on a Ground type that has little reason to switch out.) Remember that your goal overall is to knock out your opponent's 4 Pokémon before they knock out your, or at least have a healthier team by the time the battle timer runs down to 0. Just remember that it's perfectly fine to use as much of the battle timer each turn as needed. If you need to use all 45 seconds in a turn, because you've realize that knocking out there Pokémon isn't the way to win, but running the clock is the best way to win. It's perfectly fine to do and I've done it before and have also been on the receiving end of this.

EV'ing your Pokémon
This is something that is also important and something I want to talk about in the future, but for now, I'd recommend checking out 2 articles from a good player named DaWoblefet online. He's a really good player and is one of the smartest players in the community and is a really good person to talk to in the future as he knows how to EV train his Pokémon and make very efficient EV Spreads. Part 1 and Part 2 are how to efficiently train your Pokémon so your not wasting any of the 508 points available for use.

Advice from other Players
I did go on Twitter to get some advice from various people so I want to thank each one of them for giving some advice. I recommend giving them a follow as there really cool people.
  • Sparring as many Bo3 with as many friends and opponents as possible, no distractions while battling, taking a break when tilting - @DamoVGC
  • Stay calm after a loss. It's one-two games out of potentially 27. You will be fine as long as you keep your head on straight - @_Lightcore
  • Don't stress out when you go up against big names. It's tough, but even just trying to calm yourself will do you a world of good - @nerdofnowVGC
  • Play the game. Don't just watch videos about it, don't just read article on it, don't just tweet about it, play it. And play it with purpose. Keep track of wins/losses (but don't stress about them) and make note of what you did wrong in battle. It takes roughly 20 hours to get "good" or "proficient" at something, but it takes MUCH more time to become a master at it. And by time, I mean practice. - @ArtemisFlynnYT
Hoped you enjoyed this. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll see you guys next time. Check out my older VGC Tips articles and any other content I've posted. Bye!