While we've spent more time playing Pokemon games (and spent more money) than we'd like to admit, we've never really played it competitively. Sticking with one set of Pokemon, our quest to find the strongest, cutest Pokemon is about as far as we've ever delved into the complexities of the game's battles - but Pokemon goes a lot, lot further. With world wide competitions, prizes to be won, and plenty of new friends to be made, there's a huge competitive battling scene out there - if you have the right Pokemon. To get an impression of what goes in to preparing for a tournament, and what it's like to take part, we spoke to veteran Pokemon contender Marti Bennett to get her top tips.
You've taken part in several competitive Pokémon tournaments before - how many tournaments have you entered, and what's the best you've ever done?
What goes in to preparing for a tournament?
Practise practise practise! You should play online whenever you can and there are many competitive Pokémon websites around that explore different ways/tactics you can use Pokémon.
What's the experience like on the day?
The format has changed over the years. Back when I first started the event was single elimination best of one. So in theory you can travel miles to get to the event and then be knocked out at your first loss. But now it is run in Swiss format, so you get a good six or seven battles depending on the attendance. [On the down side], it can now be a very, VERY, long day. I recommend bringing plenty of food and water as finding somewhere to quickly grab a snack between Swiss rounds isn't easy. Also paracetamol. Foolishly I forgot mine this year (well I left it in the hotel room, whoops!) and a nasty headache really didn't help me enjoy the day. Overall it's a great atmosphere to hang out with other Pokémon fans and meet up with friends from all over the UK you don't get to see often but speak online with all the time.
What's in your team at the moment?
My team at the moment is Garchomp, Rotom-W, Gardevior, Ferrothorn, Manectric, and Chandelure.
How do you go about choosing the best Pokemon for a team? Do you prefer a team of all rounders, or do you go for a specific tactical mix?
With every VGC season there are the stand out favourites that everyone uses. That's usually for a reason, as they are probably very good. For example Talonflame and mega Kangaskhan are almost everywhere this year. I try and pick all-rounders depending on what the commonly used Pokémon are at that time. For example if my opponent looks like they have a trick room team, I would have a couple Pokémon in my team that are slow that may benefit from it.
Is EV training worth the trouble, or do Rare Candies and other stat boosting items do the trick?
EV's (Effort Values) are points you gain in stats through either defeating Pokémon in battle, Super training, or use of vitamins/wings. EV's are not a very fast thing to explain, nor are IV's (Individual Values) so I highly recommend reading up on them at www.serebii.net to learn more.
In short, for competitive play it is essential you have properly EV trained your Pokémon. It really can be the difference in life or death, how hard you hit, and how hard you can be hit and still survive. While it can be a tedious task, it's worth it in the long run.
Have you ever got a "Who's that Pokemon" wrong on the TV series?
I don't think so!
Do you have any tips for Pokemon trainers who are just getting started with the game, and fancy entering a tournament?
Be prepared to look at Pokémon in a whole new light. Competitive Pokémon can take the fun away for some people as you can get stuck in the mindset of a Pokémon needing to be 'perfect'. But at the very least I think it's very important to learn how to IV breed and EV train if you have any wish to take part in real life or Wifi competitions.
All things considered, who's your favourite Pokemon?
Marill! I have no idea why! Think it might be to do with seeing it for the first time in the first Pokémon movie. My other favourites are Bulbasaur, Raichu, Eevee, Ditto, Snubbull, Torchic, Absol, Chatot, Fennekin, Noibat, and Pancham. That's all I can remember off the top of my head.
And which is your favourite Pokemon game?
Pokémon Crystal. Probably looking at it through nostalgic eyes and mind set, but it was the first one you could play as a girl. I think she's really cool. Also having a shot at 16 gyms was great. I really do love Johto.
Honest answer time - how long have you spent on Pokemon X and Y so far?
*Turns on Pokemon X* 453.39 hours on my main copy of X. Which is nothing really, I know people with much more game time than that. I also stream Pokémon Y on twitch (plug alert you can find me there as VirtualAccomplishment) where I do some shiny hunting and occasional wonder trade session and battles. That game is around 60 hours I think. But I did also finish off my boyfriends copy of X which must have been at least another 10 hours. So yeah, loads of time!