(Above) Many participate in the 2014 video game and trading card game world championships After ten months and thousands of participants, the 2014 Pokemon VGC season drew to a close on August 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. The masters division (age 18 or higher) was narrowed down to 60 players to compete for over 100,000 in scholarships, and a free invite back to the 2015 world championship. The tournament roster was full of players from all over the world, including US, Japan, Canada, South Korea, England, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Estonia, Italy, and Ireland. When played by those who are known on the world scale, Pokemon becomes an intricate strategy game. As strange as it sounds, Pokemon’s team building process and eventual games take a lot of time and focus, and strategy.
Pokemon’s battle system runs on a few key components, the first being base stats. Every one of the 700+ Pokemon has a unique set of stats that effect their gameplay. Think of this as species stats. The next important kind of stats are IV’s, or individual values. Each individual Pokemon, rather than the species, has a set of IV which function kind of like genetics. The third stat system are EV’s, which are effort values. Effort values can be assigned to an individual Pokemon in any way you want, so think of these as, like the name suggests, effort.
To give a little background information on the game’s competitive scene, the Pokemon 2014 meta is run by the massive popularity of two Pokemon- Garchomp and Mega-Kangaskhan. Garchomp is easy to counter when his 4x weakness to ice is considered, but “Kang” is not so easy to crush. All through every regional and national championship this year, Kang stood atop the leaderboards. For the world championships, 23.33% of teams used a Kangaskhan, but not single one advanced to top cut (top 8). Other popular Pokemon include Talonflame, Aegislash, Tyranitar, Mawile, Gardevoir, Hydreigon, Salamence, and the various forms of Rotom.
The following is some information on the popular and promising players. Player Profiles
Se Jun Park: 1st place Pachirisu / Garchomp / Gardevoir / M-Gyarados / Talonflame / Gothitelle Before the 2014 world championships, there was a general consensus among seasoned professionals that Se Jun Park was the best player never to win a world championship. Se Jun is probably second only to Ray Rizzo for influence in the meta, because of his cunning and unusual tactics. Korean born, Se Jun is famous for bringing obscure Pokemon to the spotlight, and his 2014 team is no exception. Of course, his most famous Pokemon Pachirisu, who shocked everyone with it’s super fang, nuzzle, and follow me success. Besides Pachirisu, Se Jun also turned heads with his very obscure Gothitelle, and the only Mega Gyarados to make a worlds top cut appearance.
Alex Ogloza: Talonflame / M-Kangaskhan / Aegislash / Hydreigon / Ludicolo / Politoed Ogloza really made a name for himself earlier this year when he bested Adib Alam to win U.S. nationals. His winning team turned heads once it was realized not a single one of his pokemon ran the incredibly popular move protect. This became such a theme for Ogloza that he named his nugget bridge team report “what’s a protect?”. Ogloza’s popularity is also boosted by his youtube account “Pokeman Academy” which teaches new players about the VGC metagame.
Ray Rizzo: Tyranitar / Garchomp /M-Blastoise / Amoonguss / Zapdos / M-Charizard-Y Ray Rizzo is the ultimate Pokemon trendsetter. Rizzo’s influence is monumental on the American meta, and it is well deserved. Not only is Ray the only person ever to win more than one Pokemon world championship, he won three consecutive titles from 2010-2012. Despite being reigning champion, Rizzo did not make an appearance in the 2013 worlds when he was running a rogue Torkoal team. When Rizzo returned to worlds for 2014, the pressure was high, and it may have gotten to Ray, as the reigning champion and VGC legend finished 56th out of the 60 competitors.
Arash Ommati: Zapdos / Tyranitar / Aegislash / M-Kangaskhan / Sableye / Salamence After winning worlds last year (2013), Arash earned the title of the only world champion who is not American or Japanese. However, Arash also returned with a deal of pressure to 2014 worlds. His 2013 team was based around Amoonguss, more specifically a trick room spore strategy. This was quite useful, and 2013 Amoonguss was not the superstar that it is now, so Amoonguss counters were limited. Interestingly, Arash did not include his famous Amoonguss on his 2014 team. Arash’s 2014 team was quite standard apart from his Sableye, Out of the 60 people competing in the masters division, only eight move on to the second round. Each player battles everyone else once, and then the eight people with the best overall records advance to the second round, otherwise known as top cut. Top Cut: 8th: Dayne O’Meara 7th: Lee Provost 6th: Miguel Marti de la Torre 5th: Ryosuke Kosuge 4th: Markus Liu 3rd: Collin Heier 2nd: Jeudy Azzarelli 1st: Se Jun Park The final top cut roster (above) was full of surprises. Only two of the players placed in top cut at worlds before, being Se Jun Park and Ryosuke Kosuge. 2014’s top cut was strange for another reason as well, because of the incredibly odd diversity of the Pokemon they chose. A few notable things about top cut include the absence of a single Kangaskhan, only one Ludicolo, five Mawiles, a Pachirisu, a Rotom-Mow, and a Raichu.
The Pokemon used in top cut differ greatly than the pokemon used in the rest of worlds. This shows how to truly succeed in a competition such as this, you must think of what your opponents will use and then counter that. The following two graphs show the common pokemon from the 60 teams at worlds (top), and all of the pokemon that were used in the eight teams that made it to top cut (bottom).
If there is anything to be learned from the 2014 world championships, it is that the more diverse assortment of pokemon you use, the better you can do. This makes sense considering making a team is basically following a checklist of other common pokemon to counter. After a very strange 2014 world chapionship, we look forward to an even more interesting 2015 world championship which will be played on the new Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire games coming out in winter 2014.