Your intro to competitive Pokémon tournaments

Competitive Pokémon is an interesting and unique way of enjoying and playing Pokémon. If you don’t know much about them, now is a good time to learn!
Everyone remembers battling their friends and school with Pokémon they have taken along the journey of enjoying the game.
But, competitive Pokémon is a completely different story. Players can spend weeks breeding and grinding Pokémon to have perfect IV’S and the correct EV’s, move sets and genders.

ESL Pokémon Internationals 2018!

Competitive Pokémon tournaments such as the one hosted by ESL in Sydney next year are a great shot at showing you are the best Pokémon trainer in Oceania. The beautiful city of Sydney will host next year’s Oceania International. Expo Hall 4 @ the Sydney Olympic Park will be the venue for the tournament.

While there, all players are to be sure to bring a charger, a copy of Ultra Sun or Ultra moon, a team of tournament-legal Pokémon and a form of photo identification.

What do I get for playing?

To an outsider, competitive VGC Pokémon may sound very strange. You might ask yourself, how do you compete? How do you properly prepare yourself to demolish people in the game? What’s the difference between battle-ready Pokémon and the Pokémon I befriended along the journey, you ask?
To enter, first you will need to bring a bit of cash to enter the tournament, but not to worry, the prizes are amazing and worth it if you venture into the top few and even the prizes you get just for playing are pretty cool.
Pokémon tournament
The current entry prices for the Oceanic International are AU$60 for masters, AU$30 for Juniors and Seniors and $10AUD* for spectators. (Junior and Senior competitors get a complimentary spectator pass). For the fun stuff, the prizes are amazing and depend on the age of the competitor and the number of competitors playing in the tournament.

Competitors 18 years of age and older are eligible for these prizes

Prizes of AU$5000 or more: Choice of scholarship or cash
Prizes of under AU$5000: Cash

Competitors younger than the age of 18 are eligible for these prizes;

Prizes of AU$5000 or more: Choice of scholarship or Pokémon Visa® prepaid card.
Prizes of under AU$5000: Pokémon Visa® prepaid card.

Placement 1-100 players 101-200 players 201+ players
1 $1500 $2500 $5000
2 $1000 $1500 $2500
3-4 $750 $1000 $1500
5-8 $500 $750 $1000
9-16 $500 $750
17-32 $500

All prices in AUD

Playing at a Pokémon tournament

What is it like?

Playing VGC (video game championships) is very much like playing against someone online but in a very competitive and formal matter. Playing against someone in real life with VGC rules makes you play a ‘bring 6, pick 4’ format meaning you bring 6 Pokémon but only pick 4 at the beginning of each round.
Generally, you pick Pokémon through a combination of weakness coverage and strength. For example, y can’t have a team of support Pokémon and no damage dealer! However, there is always a Pokémon so deep in meta they have a pretty much 100% chance of being included in battles.
Pokémon tournament
You always play VGC in doubles with species, legendary and item clauses. Overall, you’re not allowed to play banned Pokémon and items. You can check the official Pokémon VGC website for a list of banned Pokémon and items.

How are your opponents chosen?

Games are now usually in best of 3 Swiss-tournament (non-elimination) format. So, that means everyone plays throughout most of the event. Who you are versing is dependent on your win/loss ratio and your resistance (average win percentage of your opponents you have played against).
The current tournament is maxed out at 600 players for both TCG (trading card game) and VGC. And, of those 600 competitors, you are placed into 3 groups depending on your age. Juniors (12 and under) Seniors (13-15) and Masters (16 and over).

What do I bring?

You need to bring in a team of at least 4 legal Pokémon (meaning bred in the current game with legitimate move sets) and are not made through 3rd party programs/hacks.
Websites such as Pokémon showdown can bring you into the VGC format online. You can do this for free without risking anything if you do not want to.
The majority of teams have star Pokémon that maintain the same throughout the tournament. And, some are the same for most players. Using this, you can easily base your team on other high-ranking competitors. But, on this note, you are not allowed to change anything once you have registered your team officially for the tournament with the judges. You may get a disqualification if caught and it’s easy to tell.

Pokémon tournament Top Cut Teams from International Pokémon championships. They all look pretty similar.

To compete you MUST have the most recent game. Otherwise, you risk not being able to enter and in smaller tournaments, having to compromise a lot. Having a battle-ready team is important and can make the difference between winning and losing a match. Using things such as SOS encounters and through breeding for natures, you can slowly but surely make your way through and max out or tweak your IV’S and EV’s to your liking.
From personal experience, I can vouch for these tournaments. The community is amazing and one of the nicest communities out there. Through these tournaments, I have experienced more and gained knowledge for the game in a few days of playing at these competitions, than I have over 10+ years of playing the game. Everyone’s here to help. I hope to see you there in February!
Images: ESL Australia