Where do competitive Pokémon go from here?


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Two years have passed since Pokémon Sword and Shield introduced the eighth generation of Pokémon games. With him came the outrage of some fans, though most agreed that Sword and Shield hadn’t faltered when it came to its competitive scene.

Pokémon tournaments are played under the umbrella of the Video Game Championship (VGC), and online Ranked Battles in Sword and Shield reflect the VGC rulebook. Tournaments, both grassroots and official, are frequent, and exciting rule changes happen every three months that restrict and unblock the availability of certain Pokémon.

But we’re now nearing the release of the next few games – the remakes of Pokémon Brilliant Diamond and Shining Pearl – which will have little or no impact on competitive Pokémon. During the Pokémon Presents in August, The Pokémon Company announced that the November remakes would not include Ranked Battles. Pokémon Legends: Arceus next January may be an intriguing departure from the usual formula, but it will put online battles on hold entirely.

Where are competitive Pokémon since Generation XI isn’t on the horizon yet? This is exactly the question we asked Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, a true Pokémon master.

Zheng Canal

“I can imagine that we will play Sword and Shield next year,” Zheng tells us. “If Generation XI doesn’t come out in 2023 and we play Sword and Shield for another two years, it will be a long time. That makes me a little scared. “

When we call Zheng a Pokémon Master, we mean business. He has qualified for eight different VGC World Championships since 2008 and has won several regional and national championships. He also runs an informative YouTube channel, which he has been updating regularly since 2014. The Pokémon Company International has recruited Zheng to comment on several international tournaments and world championship tournaments, making him one of the most prominent experts on competitive Pokémon. He knows his way around well.

Zheng’s devotion makes him the perfect person to comment on the challenges competitive Pokémon players face and the difficulty of zooming in on the scene. In particular, we asked him for his thoughts on the inaccessibility of Pokémon. Although it is a deceptively simple game, it takes a lot of time and requires knowledge of many esoteric mechanisms to build a competitive team. You can’t just take your favorite moon and succeed online.

Torkoal Stats.JPG

For example, it can take hours to grow a Torkoal with IVs at zero speed so that it can attack first when it’s in the trick room. If that sounds like a different language to you, that’s just Avalugg’s tip. It is necessary to understand effort values, natures, egg movements, hidden skills, held objects, etc., and the sword and shield do not explain these subtleties well. It’s up to the likes of Zheng to split it up battle-by-battle on platforms like YouTube. And even with help, jumping into competitive Pokémon is a daunting task.

I think of League of Legends. Yes, you play casual, but anyone who does can still tune in and take part in the big tournaments. For Pokémon, it’s such a complicated part of the game to find and invest in.

“Competing Pokémon always felt like a lot of people didn’t know about it or found it a little inaccessible,” Zheng said. “It’s such a small part of the Pokémon brand while other games are based on the competitive scene. I think of League of Legends. Yes, you play casual, but anyone who does can still tune in and take part in the big tournaments. For Pokémon, it’s such a complicated part of the game to find and invest in. “

While Sword and Shield introduced natural mints and made it easier to hire teams built by other players, developer Game Freak was able to make a lot of things clearer. However, Zheng doesn’t believe that accessibility is the main problem. Rather, he wants competitive Pokémon to be promoted more in the games themselves. He pointed out how the League of Legends game client will advertise the world championships when you open it up. Pokémon doesn’t sponsor much in the game, so players can stumble upon tournaments elsewhere.

With that said, it’s not just Houndoom and Gloom for competitive Pokémon. Like literally everything, in-person Pokémon events were canceled when the pandemic broke out. Zheng previously attended an event and had the following to say about it:

“The regional championship we had in Dallas was wild. It was the biggest Regionals we’ve had in years and it really felt like 2020 was going to be a great year for the scene. “

Zheng hopes the competitive scene will regain interest when face-to-face events take place again next year. That’s not to say the pandemic stopped Zheng from gambling. On his YouTube channel, Zheng introduces a new team every two days, put together by players from all over the world to keep abreast of meta-changes as he explains in detail the train of thought behind each game. The following video shows what to expect from his channel:

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“It’s mostly just passion,” said Zheng when asked how he managed to upload a series of games almost every day for two years. “Sword and Shield was so exciting. Just seeing how many people get involved. There are so many cool teams to try out. People share their teams with me all the time. “

In addition to watching Zheng’s channel and browsing communities like the VGC subreddit, he gave some advice for those looking to learn how to compete:

It’s a game where even the best players keep losing. Don’t be afraid of losing … there isn’t one right way to play Pokémon – see what works for you and go from there.

“It’s a game where even the best players lose all the time. Don’t be afraid to lose. Loss is really the best way to learn. Team building can be pretty daunting too, so I usually recommend people who want to get good at it to try out some of the more successful teams. And overall just think about having fun. If you don’t enjoy the game, step back, try a new team, or take a break. There’s no one right way to play Pokémon – see what works for you and keep doing it. “

The Pokémon Company recently announced that Ranked Battles will soon be revising a rule set that was first introduced last February and has disappointed many players. It’s also likely that we won’t hear about Generation XI until long after Pokémon Legends: Arceus launches early next year. However, with passionate content creators and competitors like Zheng keeping the torches burning – making a complicated, inaccessible, and under-advertised game easier to digest for thousands – the future of competing Pokémon looks as bright as a Pikachu with Flash in the depths of the mountain . Moon.

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