Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Pokémon VGC US Nationals 2015: Seniors Winner Interview

Ben Piercy
The following is an interview with Ben Piercy, winner of the Seniors Division of this year’s Pokémon VGC US Nationals.

Where are you from?
I’m Canadian, from Calgary, Alberta.

How did you get into Pokémon in general, and competitive battling in specific?
I started Pokémon when I switched schools before the start of grade four, where many of the kids on the school bus had one of the early generation four games (Diamond/Pearl/Platinum). I would spend most bus rides watching the other kids play, until I got my own DS and Pokémon Pearl for my birthday. As for competitive battling, I knew I wanted to try it after watching the 2013 World Championships online. The thought of playing for a crowd excited me, and the prospect of having actual commentators and interviews seemed interesting.

What was the team you used at nationals?
My team at nationals was Mega Salamence, Focus Sash Breloom, Expert Belt Scizor, Sitrus Berry Volcarona, Choice Scarf Latios, and Life Orb Nidoqueen.

Why did you choose your uncommon Pokémon?
The problem with common Pokémon in VGC is that opposing teams become very intent on working to find ways to reliably beat them. The solution to this, in my opinion, is to use obscure Pokémon that are still competitive when run properly. Nidoqueen is a good example, as it has tons of potential, but still sees very little use. Opposing teams will have no pre-planned counters to my Nidoqueen, and oftentimes they are completely unprepared to face off against it-most opponents won’t remember base stats for these Pokémon going into battle, and I’ve also had more than one opponent tell me during the game that they forgot Nidoqueen’s types (Ground/Poison) and thus can’t predict its move set or know which types are super-effective against it.

What was your overall strategy for the finals?
After seeing his team, I knew that I immediately had to target his Breloom. Breloom knows Spore, and should be faster than four of my Pokémon. It also often carries Focus Sash, meaning it can’t be taken out in one hit. I decided he’d recognize Breloom was important and send it out as a lead in game one. I was able to take it out from game one before it could get any serious damage off, so I decided going into game two that he wouldn’t lead Breloom again, so I sent out Nidoqueen and Volcarona, which had a bad matchup against Breloom, but can take out any combination of his other five. Luckily I was correct, as he led Kangaskhan and Thundurus, without using Breloom at all.

Are there any improvements you might make if you used this team again?
One of my Latios’ moves was Heal Pulse, which wasn’t helpful. Not only did I never use it in the tournament, I never even used it in practice. The move I wanted was Draco Meteor, but I didn’t have time to acquire it in-game, considering I had to play through Omega Ruby just a few days before to even get Latios at all. I also should have replaced Salamence’s Dragon Claw with Dragon Dance (a fact I realized about a month before nationals). The only problem is that Dragon Dance is an egg move for Salamence, and I decided I would rather just use my Dragon Claw Salamence instead of breeding for and raising a new one with Dragon Dance.

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