I love PokÃ©mon. But, when people watch competitive PokÃ©mon, thereâ€™s one question that frequently comes up: â€œwhat in the bloody hell is going on?â€ Whether you already play or are a bewildered daddy stood in the corner with your hands in your pockets, this is a question I aim to answer.
Whatâ€™s the Point?
It should go without saying that the aim of competitive PokÃ©mon is to win the game. This seems obvious, but youâ€™d be surprised just how many players are seemingly unaware of this. You win the game by defeating your opponent or, alternatively, by not losing. To do this, youâ€™re allowed to bring a ragtag team of 6 PokÃ©mon creatures of your choice (Using 4 per game, 2 active at a time) from a selection of 802 narrowed down to the 295 legal in tournament play. Around 50 of these are actually worth using, the rest being crap and chosen only by casuals, village idiots and clueless posers. Essentially: Dunsparce usage is correlated with â€œthe friend zoneâ€, silk screen Goku shirts and crayons jammed in orifices.
Each player takes turns to tell their PokÃ©mon what to do. PokÃ©mon each have their own inherent and player-influenced stat values (Around 30% are assigned by you) which are used to calculate damage and turn order, ability effect (Each species gets up to 3 to choose from) and elemental typing, that determines which other PokÃ©mon itâ€™s good and bad against. For example, you will need a Fire-type PokÃ©mon. If you want to win most of your games, your choice is between an offensive Arcanine, a defensive Arcanine, or a supportive Arcanine (Arcanine has been the #1 most-used PokÃ©mon from the start of the format not because itâ€™s particularly good, but because itâ€™s the only good legal Fire-type). Fire-types beat Grass-types, like Kartana, but are weak to the Ground-type, also known as Garchomp, which due to being objectively superior to every other Ground-type is the only one youâ€™ll ever see placing in a tournament. The Ground-type is supposed to be bad against the Bug-type, which has less authority than a pantsless substitute teacher. [caption id="attachment_77102" align="aligncenter" width="600"] This is how things are supposed to happen.[/caption] Your PokÃ©mon all know 4 moves, which are the things they actually do in a battle, whether itâ€™s damage or support. Most PokÃ©mon have around 50 moves to choose from, but, including Protect (Used on most PokÃ©mon, comparable to block/shield in a fighting game) thereâ€™s typically only 5-6 they have any business actually using: itâ€™s often pretty clear-cut how a PokÃ©mon can best do its job. Other choices are called â€œtechâ€s, and basically mean said PokÃ©mon can beat one thing it usually loses to, at the cost of losing to several things itâ€™s supposed to beat. E.g. Garchomp usually loses to Kartana, but if it brings the move Fire Fang (Especially with a Choice Scarf, too), then Garchomp turns the matchup on its head and KOs Kartana before it can do anything. this is how things often happen: The last part of a PokÃ©mon youâ€™re left to customise is its item to hold. This can be anything from a Z-Crystal, which lets you use a powerful once-per-game move, to a critical hit-rate booster or a one-use berry that heals hitpoints or reduces damage taken from a move. The most controversial items are the Choice items, which give a 1.5x boost to damage or speed at the cost of extreme inflexibility- once you pick a move to use you canâ€™t choose another. Which, especially in the case of our Choice Scarf Garchomp, is a real drawback: Fire Fang is only good against Kartana, so once youâ€™ve KOed it (Or if your opponent sees it coming and switches outâ€¦), youâ€™re at a huge disadvantage. You find Choice items and other unusual movesets (Especially the Scarf, the only way to move before a faster PokÃ©mon un-telegraphed) completely change how a PokÃ©mon works and allow it to KO some things it wouldnâ€™t usually, at the cost of being impractical and causing you to lose matchups you wouldâ€™ve won otherwise. Using a Scarf PokÃ©mon is like bringing a knife to a gunfight. Fortunately, in PokÃ©mon you fight a lot of cheese. For example,Â Choice Scarf lets Garchomp beat things it would usually lose to: ...at the expense of losing to what it usually beats. Once youâ€™ve picked your PokÃ©mon, itâ€™s time to actually play. The first thing to remember about PokÃ©mon is: itâ€™s like a dance. A dance between two people who probably canâ€™t dance, and their PokÃ©mon, which also canâ€™t dance. That is, itâ€™s all about board control, and whoâ€™s in a position to do the most damage to the other personâ€™s PokÃ©mon. Sometimes you do that by being prepared and offensively dominating your opponent, as Gary Qian does here. Sometimes, somebody falls flat on their face, as Gary does this time Vs. Cesar Reyes of Mexico. Cesar doesnâ€™t so much destroy Gary as slowly overwhelm and immobilise him, like a very big burrito. More evenly-matched games become a painful, tense game of chicken, as demonstrated by this gorgeous young man with a lovely shirt. If you can remotely understand whatâ€™s going on in these videos and do, for whatever reason, find it enjoyable, then I think weâ€™re good: you get competitive PokÃ©mon. Itâ€™s a wonderful game with a unique community and if you want a go, come and do it! Thereâ€™s events all over, and theyâ€™re honestly really fun. Iâ€™ve met strippers, cat breeders, Olympians, done bailar con chicas, won a lot of money, (accidentally) punched a sea turtle in the face. Itâ€™s been great. The new season starts up in November â€“ European Internationals at the London ExCeL â€“ and youâ€™re welcome to join. Until then, you can catch the World Championships, livecasted by my good friends on the official stream team from the 18th-20th this month and get a taste for this very beautiful, often very stupid game.