Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Tough Trek through Victory Road

I can't believe a whole year has passed since my last VGC competition. While I've been able to play a little online, I missed the experience only a live competition can bring. Meeting new trainers, catching up with old friends, taking a picture with the guy in the Pikachu costume, I missed it all! This year's VGC though was...different. I still can't fully process this year's experience, but it gave me a new perspective of what it means to be a Pokémon Trainer.

Since my brother won regionals again, we got a free hotel room. It was the same one as last year, but we slept in the train car rooms. Yeah I thought the train car rooms were cool last year, but that's because I didn't sleep in them! If only I knew how claustrophobic they were. To make matters worse, there was a wedding that same weekend and our family was unfortunate to be neighbors with the groom's family. Look, I get that you hate your new in-laws, but SHUT UP! It's 4 in the morning and I have to battle at 9!
After a terrible night sleep, me and my family walked into the convention center, ready for a day of battling. We even convinced my sister to play! Seeing the success my brother had with rain, I decided to change up my team and add some new tricks. After some quick playtests and adjustments, this was what I came up with:
Dahlia, Bolin, Toadsworth, Sgt. Calhoun, Slippy and Sheik are ready for battle

This year I decided not to go with an overall theme. My main strategy was to slow down my opponent's momentum with moves like Icy Wind, Spore and Yawn or quickly knock out two of their Pokémon and use Perish Song. Giving up movepool coverage like Ice Beam on Kingdra was a tough choice to make, but in the end the surprise factor gave me a slight edge. Unfortunately, I ended up with a 4-5 record. My sister also ended up with a 4-5 record, which is amazing for her first time battling competitively.

At this time, I was down in the dumps. Going in this competition, I told myself I wanted to walk out with a winning record. My losses were especially crushing; battles ended with my opponent sitting on little health with one Pokémon left. I was the Spurs losing Game 6 to the Heat. I failed to claim victory when it was literally at my finger tips. While it was a lose, this match was the most intense match I had in the competition. Oh yeah, sorry for the bad camera quality.

After me and my sister finished playing, my brother entered the ring. His first win brought a smile to his face, but his next two losses left him disheartened. His battles were close too! My brother's opponent's won by the skin of their teeth. As a coach, I felt bad I couldn't help. My brother made all the right moves in the replays. Could it be that Dragonite needed more Speed EVs? Or maybe Rotom needed Hidden Power Fire over Grass? These thoughts haunted me. Maybe I didn't do all I could to prepare him for competition.

I was pretty depressed leaving the convention center that evening. We had a strong desire to win but fell short of our goal. It took me some time to get over it, but I had to think back to Ash Ketchum. This kid only won a league once, and that wasn't even in the main series! Time after time, he's failed to become the champion. And yet, Ash remains optimistic.
It's been over ten years and he's still at it.

Besides the tournament, we also got to play in some side events. This really helped lift our spirits, especially when we managed to win eight booster packs. Plus, we pulled three Latios EX cards! One was even the full
body artwork!
Here's a match during the side events where I made Perish Song work. It's a pretty good strategy if you can pull it off:

This year's Nationals had its disappointments, but the experience humbled me. As a Pokémon Trainer, you have to deal with defeat. Not every match will end with a win, so you have to grow from it. Does this mean I'm giving up? Of course not! I am now more determined than ever to compete again! My brother has already drafted a new team and my sister even wants to compete again. Nationals let me spend time with Pokémon and family, two of the greatest things in the universe. I wouldn't trade it for anything, not even for another Latios EX.

The picture that sums up what I love about Nationals