Playstyles: Are They a Thing? Ft. WHICH VGC PLAYER ARE YOU?!?!

Style; fashion; looking very sexy. These are all things I’m well-acquainted with but no longer very good at following through with.

Styles of Pokémon, on a moderately-related note are, like a streaker on a chilly day, mostly show with a little bit of meat to them.

However, it’s worth a bit of discussion: they certainly exist but aren’t very well-documented. The most common way people think of styles is in relating them to particular players, so let’s begin by defining styles with PLAYERS.

Which VGC Player are You?!?! Low-Budget Personality Test

(Soz it’s a link, embedding iFrames is a premium feature and I’m too poor lmao)

Obviously, this is really stupid.

Players don’t have playstyles: they have preferences. They just naturally like to play in a particular way. It doesn’t mean they always play that way, it just means they like to play that way. Wolfe often plays defensively; Arash likes to use Sporini Amoonguss; MSankey prefers to not show up to events in the first place. These aren’t playstyles so much as player preferences: each of those guys are perfectly capable of doing differently, if they wanted to. For example Wolfe opted for offensive RayOgre, Arash switched it up to using Sleep Powder Jumpluff, and Sankey almost went to Worlds to stay with his military friend in Hawaii, but then he didn’t.

Ignoring the cheap jokes, just bear in mind that at the higher levels of Pokémon, everyone good knows how to play everything. Myself as an example, I will use whatever I think is the best play, and although I do really hate using Trick Room, if it’s the best play I will use it. You need to think like that or you won’t keep winning. If you want to be a winner you have to remember that this isn’t a real-life goofy kids’ anime series; if you want to succeed you can’t try to be some one-note Weevil Underwood-type character “known” for some particular style (Shoutout to Ryujin Jakka); if you want to do that for fun or YouTube go ahead and do that but it isn’t going to get you anywhere competitively.

Winners know how to play everything, and their “playstyle” is knowing, then winning. Whilst going into depth on player playstyles is great for commentary patter, you have to know that commentary is by nature surface-deep and exists more to provide engagement than it does to be completely logically coherent. Commentary is pleasant fluff, and likewise the idea of player playstyles is pleasant fluff. Player playstyles are a narrative placebo; penis growth ointment for the game.

What are real are team-based playstyles. For example, Markus’s ONOG Invitational used a lot of switching and switching moves to take advantage of Z-Nature Power on Tapu Koko. That’s a kind of playstyle but it doesn’t define Markus, who could win with anything. Gavin’s famous Mikikyu/Snorlax Regional winning team pins the opponent into necessary, predictable plays with Belly Drum, Trick Room and Z-Destiny Bond. Again, you can call that a “playstyle”, but much the same Gavin can win with anything. The “playstyle” is just how a team is meant to be used, and that’s what playstyles really are. That different players prefer different approaches is incidental to different people liking different things.

Well

There you have it, really. With the sole, notable exception of “If you lead with Fake Out, Foodking will always use Protect with both Pokémon”, playstyles aren’t really linked to players. They’re linked to teams, which certain players will naturally prefer different types of. You can know a person and know what they tend to do, but it’s highly likely that if you know that person they also know that you know them, so they’re just as likely to behave differently on purpose. It is, pretty much, all fluff, so don’t get caught up on what “your style” is. This isn’t a catwalk (Obviously- 90% of players wear mum-bought trousers), so just do “you” and see what happens.

Tarah for now,

-Zog

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