Saturday, December 31, 2016

Interview: London International Championship 2016 Seniors VGC Runner-Up

Murray McKenzie
The following is an interview with Murray McKenzie, runner-up in the Seniors Division of the VGC competition at the recent Pokémon International Championship in London, England.

Where are you from, and how did you get into Pokémon?
I'm a player from Fife, Scotland, however most of the tournaments I go to are in Glasgow. My first Pokémon game was Pokémon White, which I got for my ninth birthday. I started getting into competitive play just after 2014 Worlds, but I only considered myself a good player after 2015 Worlds, where I made a successful rain team.

What was the team you used for this event? 
-Tapu Koko
-Tapu Bulu

Full team information is available at

This tournament was likely to feature a wider-than-normal set of Pokémon due to the games being fairly new. How did that affect which Pokémon you chose?
To be honest, I only really thought about a few Pokémon whilst building this team, namely “Koko-Raichu”, “Maro-Dos” and I think Gastrodon. There was a light foundation of a metagame brewing on Showdown, so I based it off of that.

What worked well for the team in the tournament?
The most important change I made to the team was definitely passing the Life Orb from Nihilego to Koko and making Nihilego hold the Focus Sash-a change I made two days before the event. I have no idea how I would've dealt with rain if not for that Sash, as it came in handy so many games. Honourable mention goes to Electric Seed/Acrobatics Celesteela and Mudsdale. The Seed helped Celesteela to be extremely bulky in both sides and Acrobatics was nice as it let me hit things which resisted Heavy Slam, it even two-hit ko'd a Pelipper! Assault Vest Mudsdale (I didn't think any others would be running it and I didn't see any prior) was also extremely nice due to it having an extraordinary attack stat and a great Ability for a Vest user. I designed it to survive both a Marowak Flare Blitz or an Energy Ball from a +1 Life Orb Xurkitree-pretty much some of the most powerful attacks you'll see on either side.

What didn't work so well, and what kind of changes might you make to this team if you used it again?
To be honest, I think the team was as good as you could get with these six Pokémon; however I do want to use other teams for the Regionals in Sheffield and Liverpool. This team is utter rubbish in best-of-one though, so I wouldn't try it there. All of my losses (except one round in Swiss I lost 2-0 and the final match against Jan) were in the first game. This team is great for adapting to situations once you know certain things like is the Pelipper Sash or Scarf? To be honest, I should've paid closer attention to IVs and made sure my Mudsdale was faster than my Wishiwashi as those two and Tapu Bulu's speed IVs were unknown.

What did you think of this new level of event?
Initially, I was quite wary of this new structure, namely the opportunities for Americans, Japanese and the like to get CP which would've gone to Europeans. Also, the fact that the tournament was two weeks after the release scared me. However, whilst I still believe that they should've made it Europe exclusive, I had a blast and this is much better to me than having three smaller Nationals. The event was very well run, but they needed to be more transparent. All of us in the top eight expected (due to things on the Pokémon website and prior events) to play on Sunday, have a lunch break and have the finals be streamed. To our surprise (and crushing our dreams of being on stream) none of these things happened. So yeah, they should've just clarified the first and last ones and had a lunch break after I think round four of Swiss.

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