pokemon 2018 london international championships

Concerns going into the 2018 London International Championships

While the coming London International Championships seems like a last hurrah for the 2017 VGC season, there are a few things to consider going into this tournament. A common issue that plagued the International Championships last season was controversy that popped up during or after each respective event. The International tournament in London this year has its own fair share of issues that are worth noting despite the excitement surrounding the event.

VGC 2017 is old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

I think it’s fair to say that some players are done with VGC 2017. This season has been an exciting one, but the format itself has gotten rather stale. With such a small regional Pokedex like Alola’s, it’s going to be difficult to break the metagame, especially after an entire year of tournaments. Basically, expect to see a lot of teams that look… familiar. Considering it has been a full month since the last major tournament, there hasn’t been a lot of development in the metagame. With this uncertainty, players might default to teams that have shown consistency in the past.

And to think we still have two regional championships after London before the format officially switches over.

Attendance cap

pokemon 2018 london international championships

What caught many people off guard was the announcement that London hit its attendance cap for video game players. The initial cap announced for the Masters division was 680 players, and many are skeptical that London reached that many registered players. Is it possible that TPCI could’ve lowered the cap? If so, then why?

This news messed up many travel plans, and players are campaigning for TPCI to re-open registration. As it looks now, London has hit its cap, and it might be too late for those who planned to travel.

But at least there’s potential good news in all of this. The fact that London has nearly 700 registered players is promising considering how late into the 2017 format the tournament is. This could imply even bigger numbers coming next season.

Starting the snowball

One of the major criticisms of the London International Championships last season was how it began a snowball effect for players who were able to do well. To quickly explain, players with high Championship Point totals in the early parts of the season were eligible to receive travel stipends to other international events, allowing them even more opportunities to earn large amounts of Championships Points. This resulted in some absurdly high CP totals towards the end of the 2017 season, and the trend is looking to repeat this year.

What’s troubling about this is that we all ready have players who are qualified for the 2018 World Championships based on their results in the 2017 format. If anything, this will only screw over the players who’ve already qualified as their motivation to become skilled in the new format will be at an all-time low. It just doesn’t make sense that many players will have invites to a tournament with a format they haven’t even played yet.

Winter must be coming early, as London is promising nothing but more snowballs.

Pokemon Sun and Moon are about to be old news

pokemon 2018 london international championships

Oh right, Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon release this Friday. At least players in London don’t have to worry about building 2018 format teams for a tournament happening the day after the next games come out.

Getting to my main point, the release of Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon will hurt interest in a tournament that is still being played with Pokemon Sun and Moon. Everyone will be too busy playing the new games instead of tuning into the stream from London. All I’m saying is that, interest in Pokemon Sun and Moon content will drop significantly after this Friday and viewership for even a tournament as big as London will likely take a sizable hit.

All of these concerns are worthy of acknowledgement, but we shouldn’t let these ruin our enjoyment of what is shaping up to be VGC 2017’s last hurrah. The International Championships have been the stage for some of the greatest matches of the entire season, and I would expect nothing less from London this year. Unlike last year, everyone will know what they’re doing, and more importantly, will be on top of their game for our viewing pleasure.

 


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

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interview with pokeaimmd

From “Road to Top 10” to “Road to Ranked”: An interview with Joey “PokeaimMD” Sciarrone

With the growing popularity of the Pokemon Video Game Championships, many players well versed in the popular Smogon single battle format have been giving the official Pokemon tournament format a try. However, learning a completely new battle type and metagame may seem daunting to some, making the transition one that many are hesitant to make.

Joey “PokeaimMD” Sciarrone is a player and YouTuber that has been one of the number one sources for content regarding the Smogon format since 2010. Sciarrone has dabbled in the VGC format in the past, but recently he’s devoted a new series of videos to Pokemon VGC and has even begun competing seriously in official tournaments. While he’s no expert at VGC, his knowledge of the game and his overall strength as a player has made this transition between formats a lot more seamless. As one of the biggest names in the competitive Pokemon community, we decided to talk to Sciarrone and get his perspective on what the transition to VGC is like from the point-of-view of a singles player, and how players can best approach this transition.

What are some of the main differences you’ve noticed?

Aside from the obvious ones, like there being more than two Pokemon on the field at a time. One of the differences that Sciarrone speaks highly of is the adoption of best-of-three matches in higher level Pokemon VGC events. It’s valuable to Sciarrone that he’s able to adjust his strategies in-between games which is something that players on Pokemon Showdown! don’t usually have the luxury of. Sciarrone borrowed a team from 2016 World Champion Wolfe Glick to use at the Hartford Regional Championships, as he liked how the team functioned in best-of-three play, being able to utilize many different options in order to adjust to his various opponents. Currently, Sciarrone holds a 4-1 lead over VGC veteran Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, with his first ever VGC set resulting in a win against such an accomplished player.

Another key difference Sciarrone pointed out was the increased importance of positioning in the VGC battle style. He mainly addressed the difficulty of lead matchups, and how your leads are essentially “half of your team” you’re immediately tossing into the fray. Switching and putting yourself in an optimal position becomes a lot trickier when a poor switch or prediction could cost you 25% of your team.

Lastly, despite his immense competitive knowledge about individual Pokemon, Sciarrone has struggled to learn the various double battle specific moves that some Pokemon have access to and commonly use. Some of the examples that Sciarrone pointed out were moves like Feint, Wide Guard and Sky Drop.

“I know the weight that’s too heavy for Sky Drop, but I still haven’t memorized all of the Pokemon that can’t be picked up. I had someone pass me a list of all of the Pokemon that can’t be picked up.”

What skills do you think have transferred over from your experience as a singles player?

Knowledge was one of the biggest things that transfers over according to Sciarrone. For those who don’t know about the Smogon tier system, Pokemon are ranked by tiers depending on their viability and overall usage. If you’ve watched any of Sciarrone’s YouTube content, you know that he’s quite experienced in all of the Smogon tiers, giving him a plethora of knowledge about what even the lowest tier Pokemon are capable of. Even so, there still remains the hurdle of learning the differences in how these Pokemon are used in double battles.

Aside from his wealth of knowledge, obviously his skill and play style have made a relatively easy transition. Sciarrone still is able to make defensive switches and predict his opponents in order to put himself in a better position. Speaking of his play style…

How would you describe your play style, and have you had to alter it for when you play a VGC match?

“Not really.”

Sciarrone is a player that values his positioning, and making the most optimal plays rather than relying on reads. Although, this isn’t how he started out when he first picked up the game competitively.

“I remember when I started out, I used to be a super aggressive player, but you know eventually your plays catch up to you.” 

After playing for this long, Sciarrone has been able to adapt his play style to accommodate the kind of team he’s using. In his videos, he’s used teams ranging from stall strategies to hyper offense. In a serious competitive match, Sciarrone will always be thinking six turns ahead, and rather than going for game off of a single play, he’ll play the slow game making it easier to set up a late-game win condition.

 “If I have the option to hit a Draco Meteor to win the game or get chip damage to make it easier to win later, I’m going for the chip damage.” 

One interesting point that Sciarrone brought up was the idea of knowing how experienced players play just because they’re good players. He mentioned a match that he had at the Hartford Regional Championships against Robbie Moore, one of only two players that managed to defeat Sciarrone in Swiss. “He mopped the floor with me,” Sciarrone said when describing their match. Apparently Moore was able to read Sciarrone so well because “he is a good player”. Sciarrone had another experience that resulted more in his favor when he played the finals match in a Smogon tournament.

“My opponent was someone who I knew, so I decided to switch up my play style and just play super agressive.” 

It seems like being an experienced player can make you, ironically, predictable at times according to players at the highest level. There also seems to be a collective fear for “lower ladder” and/or “unknown” players, as the unpredictability factor makes the match up potentially a lot more difficult than playing against a well-known player. Funny how that works.

Something that I noticed was that Sciarrone seems to share a similar play style to former World Champion Wolfe Glick, and I think that speaks for itself when considering Sciarrone’s potential to be a powerhouse in the VGC scene.

How do you approach teambuilding?

If you’ve watched any number of the live battle sessions on Sciarrone’s channel, you’ve notced that he rarely uses his own teams. This, of course, doesn’t mean Sciarrone hasn’t built a team in his life, but for VGC events, he’s often relied on outside assistance.

Sciarrone says that he hasn’t really built a VGC team all on his own, and has mostly relied on previously successful teams for use at tournaments.

“I like to play what wins.”

This might not seem like a popular sentiment as this seems to 1) feed right into confirmation bias and 2) suggest that Sciarrone doesn’t have the ability to be original. In Sciarrone’s defense, playing “what wins” isn’t a bad way to approach using a team at all. At the end of the day, players are trying to win a tournament, and while some players can pull of weird and creative strategies, some players like Sciarrone prefer consistency and results above all else. What’ll win you games is how well you play a team, rather than what team you’re using.

According to Sciarrone, this is also largely due to lack of familiarity with how certain teams built for VGC work. While Sciarrone can pick up nearly any singles team and be successful, he requires a lot more resources to fully understand how to play a VGC team.

“With singles you can hand me a pastebin and I’ll know how to play a team just like that, but with VGC I feel like I need an entire team report.”

What is some advice you can give to other players looking to get into VGC?

“Watch good players, and play a lot.”

Admittedly, sort of cliche advice, but Sciarrone has adopted a slightly different approach to his advice. Many players relay the advice of getting better by building experience and learning from the pros, but who says that has to be done alone? Sciarrone emphasized throughout our interview how valuable working with other players to learn the game has been for him in learning the VGC format. In addition to building your skills on your own, finding a network of people to improve alongside of will likely lead to much better results.

With 150,000 YouTube subscribers and now some Championship Points under his belt, Sciarrone has a promising future in the VGC scene. With his “Road to Ranked” series he’s already introducing a ton of his primarily-singles playing audience to the realm of Pokemon VGC, while he himself continues to improve as a player. Sciarrone looks to compete in the upcoming 2018 VGC season and it looks like he’s got a lot of support from his fans as well as players in the community who are welcoming him with open arms. He might still be learning, but don’t be surprised to see Joel Scarrione pop up in a regional-level Top Cut before too long.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

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pokemon local tournament streams

Does this new rule change mean the end of local tournament streams?

In a wave of newly released information for Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, the official Play! Pokemon rules document received some updates that have gotten the community’s attention. According to an update to section 2.2 players cannot enter official tournaments with a modified 3DS system; meaning 3DS systems with capture cards are not allowed for tournament use. Many members of the community are outraged at the implications of this rule, but there is a possibility that this ruling could be totally harmless.

Before that, a quick update regarding our last piece

 landorus pokemon local tournament streams

In our last article, we discussed a potential scenario where staple legendary Pokemon would not be allowed in the upcoming 2018 format. In a hilarious twist of irony, today a trailer was released confirming the return of every single legendary Pokemon in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.

The speculation was fun while it lasted, and some of the analysis present in that piece is still relevant to a format where these Pokemon are allowed. While it’s not exactly accurate anymore, it’s still worth a read (in my completely unbiased opinion).

The ruling

capture card 3ds pokemon local tournament streams

A 3DS capture device often used by Pokemon content creators. (Image: 3dscapture.com)

“Section 2.2: Players should ensure that game systems with which they enter Play! Pokémon
tournaments are unmodified. Players found to be using modified systems may be subject to
disqualification and subsequent disciplinary action.”

-Taken from Appendix B of the official Play! Pokemon VG Rules document

What this ruling implies is that any 3DS system that has been modified in any way is not eligible for use in any official tournaments. This makes sense considering modified systems could indicate that a player has the means to alter their game state which is also prohibited.

What’s not clear is to what extent does the “modification” criteria go? Does this accommodate players with extended battery packs or are all modifications prohibited? One thing that’s for certain about this criteria is the outlawing of 3DS systems with installed capture cards.

Since there is no official hardware or software able to record game play from a 3DS, many content creators have resorted to third-party capture cards that must be installed into the system in order for both screens to be captured. In the most traditional sense, this would be considered a modification, and thus, prohibited from tournament use. The problem here is that local tournaments, as well as unofficial streamers, rely on this hardware in order to stream and record matches from smaller tournaments and larger tournaments without official coverage. The implication of this ban means that the use of 3DS systems with capture cards will be outlawed from tournament use entirely.

Or will they?

Check the wording

The rule does not specifically say that these modifications would be banned from tournaments entirely. It only says that players may not enter official Play! Pokemon tournaments with modified systems, and technically systems used to stream are not entered into the tournament.

There’s one problem though.

Technically, the systems being used to stream would be used by players during the tournament, so we have yet another area of ambiguity. Does this qualify as an “entered” system or consoles that are used for streaming outside of the tournament jurisdiction? Unless we get some sort of confirmation, we just don’t know.

Another important additiontapu fini pokemon local tournament streams

This rule isn’t exactly relevant to the previously mentioned one, but it is very important for those who are competing in any of the final 2017 format tournaments after Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon’s release.

“Section 1.4: Pokémon may only use moves that have been learned through normal gameplay or
from an official Pokémon event or promotion obtainable through a copy of Pokémon Sun or
Pokémon Moon. Players may not use moves that are exclusively obtained through use of a copy
of Pokémon Ultra Sun or Pokémon Ultra Moon.”

– Taken from Appendix B of the official Play! Pokemon VG Rules document

We already knew that move tutors were coming back, but this rule came as a bit of a surprise. Basically, moves only accessible via the move tutors in Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon cannot be used by Pokemon that are currently usable under the 2017 rules. This was a rule not enforced back towards the end of the 2014 season, as move tutor moves accessible in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were allowed in VGC 2014 tournaments after the new games were released.

It’s reasonable why this rule would be in place, to keep the remaining tournaments under the same restrictions as the rest of VGC 2017. Having to learn, and more importantly get access to, the new tutor moves would be a daunting task for some in just under a month. I guess we’ll just have to wait until January for Tapu Fini to get Icy Wind.

In regards to our main point of discussion, does this new ruling mean the end of grassroots streaming content? I would say no, but at this point we have no official statement regarding the issue, so I honestly don’t know. I hope that the Pokemon Company realizes how much damage they would do to the competitive scene if this rule outlawed 3DS systems with capture cards. Stream coverage is already incredibly scarce in the scene, and hitting local streamers would only further inhibit the growth of the game. All we can do now is wait and see if TPCi will make the right choice.

Thanks for reading!


You can like The Game Haus on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for more sports and esports articles from other great TGH writers along with Eric! (@aricbartleti)

Images from Pokemon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International

To continue enjoying great content from your favorite writers, please contribute to our Patreon account! Every little bit counts. We greatly appreciate all of your amazing support! #TGHPatreon