POCKET MONEY AT THE READY, PEOPLE!
Pokémon’s most expensive tournament in history is about to drop in the capital and the terrain is ELECTRIC, sometimes grassy, sometimes weird. But mostly electric.
The game’s best players are flying in right now from all over the world: pilgrims from such exotic locales as Tokyo, Rome, Lima and Luxembourg, New York, LA and Walsall, are rolling up to what is sure to be the most exhilarating situation to hit the London ExCel since a naked, obese man with a pair of socks in his mouth, himself pursued by a Baron Samedi armed with a spanking paddle, chased me from the Premier Inn at 2am after the 2012 summer Comic Con.
However, rather than coming home with bruised posteriors and an arrest for indecent exposure, as did the unfortunate Black Butler cosplayers involved in the latter story, competitors in this weekend’s London International are hoping for a fun time, some cold hard cash and worldwide fame from being good at a kids’ video game. A shot at some money in a brand new format of the best game in the world? I say: bring it on.
WHAT TO EXPECT
There will be salt; there will be glory. There will be tears; there might be “cool hats”. Last time London had a tournament, it was in some circus school’s backlot in the district best known for sex shops and the Pet Shop Boys. This time we have arguably London’s best venue (which costs Daddy money to hire), and the stakes are higher than ever. Granted, we’re extremely unlikely to hit the top tier prizes, which would need 500 players (yeah not happening with £40 entry fee), but we are fairly likely to hit the 227+ tier, which would mean a prize pot of $5750, which is… pretty good? Makes me kinda wish I’d taken up Hearthstone instead but it’s an improvement.
Mostly, I’m excited to see which half-baked strategies are gonna win out on the day. We’ve had less than a month to prepare, and it’ll show like the buttcracks at a Magic the Gathering locals. I’ve done my homework online (and don’t forget I’m trying to win this myself), and here’s the three main team archetypes I’ve worked out:
IT’S THE NEW CHALK GUYS even though it doesn’t spell “chalk” and isn’t that good
Just a reminder: CHALK stands for Cresselia Heatran Amoonguss Landorus-T M-Kangaskhan Thundurus, which doesn’t even properly spell “chalk” itself, and none of those Pokémon are legal this year. That was a good team which in 2015, whilst being discovered relatively early, was basically unstoppable if played right and went on to dominate worlds. This bunch… I don’t think that’s going to happen. It’s a good team, don’t get me wrong, and I won’t be surprised if it goes on to do well at Worlds, but the power levels aren’t quite as imbalanced with these. Either way, watch out: this team is blue jeans, a leather jacket and Adidas Sambas in the divorced dad demographic; you’re gonna see it.
Quack quack smack smack and you’ve lost already to Golduck and Pelipper, in literally the first time in Pokémon’s 20 year history that either has been relevant (and no, the Cloud Nine gimmick Groudon killer from last year doesn’t count). Please be aware that Pelipper has Drizzle now, Golduck has Swift Swim and it will immediately use Z-Hydro Pump to outspeed and OHKO something. Just, please plan for this lead, cause people are going to use it and I’d rather something so lame didn’t win. If you plan on using this lead though, yeah duck you dude, go quack yourself. What would you do without my mirthful wit?
P.S. I am fully aware that Pelipper isn’t a duck
I hate this team. I really, really hate this team. I would rather become a nun than use this team at a tournament. I would sooner go to see a Hotel Transylvania 2 Matinée with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and then treat him to a Nando’s afterwards than tell somebody I liked this team. Going vegan, becoming an active user of 4chan and inserting a “Football Crazy, Chocolate Mad” collectable figure of Paul Ince into my rectum, and then pushing it out are all things I place higher in my priorities than using this awful team.
It’s boring and it’s lame. This team looks like the line-up of an after-school detention: you’ve got the fat kid, art kid, braces kid, the kid who smokes weed. Give them each a Swizells Pop, and tell them to go home. That Lilligant is frequently in these teams is another issue entirely: that can go back to DeviantArt.
In all seriousness though, Oranguru is Normal/Psychic with Inner Focus, Trick Room and its gimmick move Instruct. That means it isn’t getting KOed in one turn by any spread moves and it’s immune to flinching, so if it has redirection, Trick Room is practically guaranteed to go up and from there Drought-Eruption + Instruct is spammed until somebody loses. Excellent team to use if you enjoy watching somebody else do something instead of you, which is all the rage on Reddit, these days. Apparently.
Anyway, those are the early-meta teams to be aware of.
WHO TO WATCH
Pokémon, being Pokémon, has quite a lot of variance in its results. But it also has a clearly-defined skill cap, in both the gameplay itself and how you build your team. In the very early meta, you need both to succeed.
WHO YOU’VE BEEN TOLD TO WATCH
Pokémon has its greats. It also has its well-known-but-not-actually-all-that-scary players, so always remember Rule Number 1: don’t be scared of anyone, they’re just as capable of losing as you are, and even average players can have a really good day.
So I’ll cover a handful of names to look out for:
Let’s begin with Wolfe, the current World Champion and a former student of mine. Wolfe Glick is, as I’m sure you’re aware, a really good player. Really good. He’s also basically the Buzzfeed of Pokémon, in that he’s most successful when he aggregates teams and practises with a lot of people. Years when he’s done that have ended well. Years when he hasn’t have ended in bringing Registeel to Worlds and bombing out. That said, few can play better than Wolfe can, so if he’s got a good team, we’ll see him on top of table. If he’s using the sets he’s put on his channel, we’ll see him on the bottom.
Jamie Boyt is another excellent player, and much like a younger Wolfe (and the rather strong Ashton Cox, who is also attending), is a real master of trash teams, even if he does have a weak stomach. I take pride in the fact that I have uttered a joke so terrible, it made him physically throw up. Jamie and Ashton have a very similar style of play: of using weird stuff and quickly identifying and playing to win conditions, with great skill. And the joke? I said to him “Here come dat Boyt, o shit waddup”. Ha.
Arash Ommati is another former World Champion and one of the game’s highest level players. His “Sporini”-based claim to fame quite clearly got the move nerfed, so he moved onto Sleep Powder Jumpluff and made some real waves last year. Now he’s living it up with his first class flights to London. I bet he’s all over that like Arash. Haaaaa.
Ryosuge Kosuge is the most fearsome of the Japanese on their way to London, and carries quite a reputation. If you match up with him you’re probably going to lose. But maybe I’m biased, since he tends to pick the same Pokémon as and plays very similarly to me. Difference is he doesn’t e.g. completely forget to put his moves in, think Qwilfish is a good idea, or lose in nats top cut because he got distracted by Snapchat nudes and Dragon Clawed a 1hp Gardevoir. That was somebody else. …guiltyyyyy!
Those guys, I would say are the on-paper “favourites” but absolutely far from the only good players in the field. In fact, I could see half the people in there in at least top 4 and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.
That said, he’s a few picks I expect to see in the top cut:
Aaron Zheng: I’ve known Aaron since he was like 11 and he hasn’t really got any better but that’s because he was good anyway.
Abel Sanz: best Lucario user in the world.
Gini brothers: name a more iconic trio. I’ll wait.
Anis Haque: how could you want to make Anis lose? How dare you?
Baris Ackos: the original and best wallet warrior.
Barry Anderson: you aren’t a man until Baz has given you some advice.
Conan Thompson: say bad things about Japan to put him on tilt and you’ll win.
Daniel Oztekin: sorry.
Eduardo Cunha: never take this absolute dude to the ghetto. Don’t.
Francesco Pardini: when I order a Spicy Italian at Subway I think of playing Francesco.
Jake Birch: if his luck improves, you’re getting one good-natured beatdown.
Joe Wilson: pyjama boy would be upset if I forgot to include him. But he’s ready to smash anyone dumb enough to underestimate: good hair doesn’t mean you’re thick, yeah.
Lee Provost: the chillest, despite losing to my noob brother is one of the UK’s finest.
Markus Stadter: if Wolfe beats you, blame Markus. Absolutely world-class.
Matt Carter: he might look like an idiot but this guy 6-0ed Worlds. Top lad.
Matthias Sucholdski: pray for hax cause without it you’re going to lose.
Pietro Chiri: is an entomologist! What a dude! Unique and strong player.
Szymon Wojdat: so good he probably caused Brexit.
Tom Plater: my cheeky pick to win in all honesty, please play Baker Street if you win.
Trista Medine: say the word “Boohbah” and you’ll make her lose. You’re welcome.
Will Tansley: mastered 2016 Big Six better than anybody, so in a meta where everything is being called Big Six, WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?
AND WITH THAT,
I’ll see you lovely lot tomorrow in London! If you’re going, that is!