Where are you from?
My family has lived in several different states (Arizona, Illinois, Texas and Virginia), but we are currently living in Farmington, Illinois which is close to Peoria.
How did you get into Pokémon in general and competitive battling in specific?
My beginnings in the game can be traced back to the trading card game (TCG) when I was in third grade. My involvement was mostly collecting the trading cards with my friends at school. I never seriously considered playing the TCG, but it was fun learning about the Pokémon.
In 2009, I bought my first Nintendo DS Lite as well as the Platinum game. When I saw an advertisement on Pokemon.com for the 2009 National VGC being hosted in St. Louis near my home town I thought, “Great, that sounds like fun; I’ll go play in that competition.”
My knowledge of the game at that time was very basic-I was a true novice. No one on my team was EV-trained and only two members of my Pokémon team (Rapidash and Empoleon) were even at level 50! The other two Pokémon on my team included a level 39 Snover and a level 27 Luxio-not exactly what most people would call a powerhouse team. To make matters worse, I didn’t realize that in a double battle, Empoleon using Surf while next to Rapidash depleted 80% of Rapidash’s HP (poor Rapidash…), but the VGC event was fun and started my interest in competitive Pokémon play for future years.
What was the team you used for this tournament? Did it have a specific theme?
The Pokémon on my 2014 VGC National’s team were:
I don't think good players need to build teams around a theme to be successful. Instead, good players need teams with some flexibility and balance to use team preview effectively and respond to opponent challenges. As a result, my team would be best described as a “good stuff” team.
Your team had multiple Pokémon that could Mega Evolve. How did you choose which one to use in each match? If you used both, how did you choose which one to Mega Evolve?
Although I had two Megas on my team, I never selected both Megas for a particular battle. I always evaluated the opponent’s Pokémon in team preview and selected the best-suited Mega for that battle. For example, in my finals match, I could quickly see from team preview that two of my opponent’s Pokémon had the Intimidate ability (Scrafty and Mawile) plus Gothitelle’s Shadow Tag ability. This team design allowed his team to be very effective against physical attacking Pokémon such as Kangaskhan. So with that in mind, it was an easy decision for me to select Mega-Venusaur each time for that match.
Your opponent in the finals had actually play-tested against your team prior to the tournament. How did that end up happening, and did that affect your strategy?
I became frustrated with the team I was planning to use in the weeks leading up to the Nationals, so I made several changes which resulted in the team that I actually used in the tournament. As a result, I did not have much experience in using my new team, so I decided to contact him for assistance in play-testing my team two days before Nationals to get some of his insight. He agreed and created multiple test teams based on what he anticipated to be popular at Nationals, however he did not use the actual anti-physical attacking team that he played in Nationals to play-test my team. So although Zack was able to see my exact team while we play-tested it together, he did not necessarily know how I might use it if I were to compete against him in the tournament.
At the end of the second game, you had just your Rotom against two Pokémon, but you managed to knock out both to win the game and match. What went through your mind and how did you decide what to do?
Despite what many people have said of that second match, I was quite happy when I reached that point. As I saw it, I had a Rotom at full health and he had a 30% Ludicolo and a 100% Mega-Mawile. I knew that Ludicolo did not have Protect and removing its threat of Scald from the game was optimal, even if I had to lose two stages on Rotom’s special attack by using Overheat. Since Rotom was carrying a Sitrus Berry, I knew I would survive a Sucker Punch or Play Rough from Mega-Mawile with sufficient HP remaining to win the match after knocking out Ludicolo.
Finishing off Mega-Mawile at that point was primarily a function of Rotom’s accuracy with Will-O-Wisp (85%) and Overheat (90%). As long as those two moves didn’t miss and as long as my opponent didn’t get two critical hits in a row, I knew I had the game. In this case both of my moves connected and I avoided a second critical hit to win the game.
What else did you do at Nationals this year?
Well, not too much. On the Friday night before the start of the VGC, my family watched the July 4th fireworks from the parking lot of the Indianapolis Colts’s stadium. We probably got to bed too late that evening and I was still feeling the lack of sleep during the first day of the VGC. When I made Top Cut the next day I made sure to get a good night’s sleep on Saturday night and felt sharp throughout the Top Cut portion of the tournament on Sunday. Overall, it was a great event and I enjoyed being able to see many Pokémon friends.