Guide: How to Become a Pokémon Battle Tournament Master

With tips from the champs

Hi guys, so how long have you all been playing Pokémon games for?

Daniel: I started playing Pokémon in 2012 with a pre-owned copy of Pokémon Black. While I don’t believe it to be the best in the series, it was a good starting point for honing my skills.

Dominic: I have been playing Pokémon for about 10-11-ish years now as I started with the original Pokémon Red and Blue - I chose Charmander as my starter for those wondering [laughs]. I still love the series to this day and hope to be playing it for as long as I can hold a console.

Oliver: My first Pokémon game was Pokémon Leaf Green, which my parents bought around 10 years ago. I've been interested in singles competitively for around 3 years, but I'm very new on the VGC (doubles) scene however, with only about 3 months' experience since the regional battle tournament.

Francis: I have been playing Pokémon for nearly my whole life. I started when Pokemania started in 1999 and I was still a small child. I went to the Pokémon Black and White launch in London to meet the original character designer, Ken Sugomori and I got his translator to tell him, "Thank you so much. Your creations gave me a really happy childhood and without Pokémon, I would have been a very depressed, lonely child!" Sugomori then smiled and hugged me and from that point on, I got back into Pokémon and didn't stop!

Nintendo Life: How many hours would you say it takes to get a squad of Pokémon ready to battle at a competitive level?

Oliver: Once you have genetically ultimate Dittos and experience in breeding (I'm so glad they changed the breeding mechanics in X and Y!) it normally takes around half an hour to an hour to breed a Pokémon, and maybe another hour to EV train (thanks to hordes) and then slightly longer to level. I often keep my 3DS on with a card against the Circle Pad to level! If we're talking team testing, that could take anywhere from an hour to 6-7 hours or more - I'm still tweaking the team that I used to win the Grand Finals. I think I feel comfortable with a team after around 10 hours of training and testing.

Dominic: As my DS got stolen at the tournament in West Quay I had to buy a whole new system and game and re-start from scratch in less than a month in time for the tournament. I had to completely rebuild my team, therefore I have been playing nearly non-stop for the whole month and have clocked up 190 hours total game time.

Francis: At the start you can waste days building a competitive team, but once you get into the swing of things, it becomes fun. Breeding a perfect IV Pokémon could take as little as 10 minutes and I would do all my EV training while on the bus to and from University.

Nintendo Life: What's more important - accuracy or power?

Daniel: I would say that both are equally important, because there’s no point in using a powerful move with terrible accuracy as it’s likely to miss, but you need power to make holes in the opponent’s team. I try and use moves that have a mix of the two, such as Earthquake or Thunderbolt.

Oliver: I would say that accuracy is mostly more important. If you want to win consistently, then you need to make sure your moves hit as often as possible, because otherwise you risk losing the game. As a rule of thumb, don't go below 80% accuracy. However, there are scenarios where it is far better to trade accuracy for power. For example, a Flamethrower from a Goodra will not always knockout a Ferrothorn in one hit. You have a much better chance for a one-hit knockout with Fire Blast.

Dominic: I think you need a mix of both power and accuracy to do well in competitive battling. However I tend to lean towards accuracy because I like to know that my move is going to hit the opponent. For example, I like to use Scald over Hydro Pump on my Greninja because not only is it guaranteed to hit, it has a chance of burning as well which can come in massively handy when using on say a Tyranitar.

Nintendo Life: What Pokémon would you say is your strongest asset, and why?

Francis: I would say my strongest asset in the tournament was my Politoed and Amoonguss. Politoed helped set up the rain and provided additional support for Joshua along with Encore support. For Joshua, I saw his most strongest Pokémon was either Kingdra (for spread, rain-boosted muddy water) or Talonflame since his idea to win was simply to use Brave Bird over and over again.

Daniel: My strongest asset is definitely my Tyranitar. As my team is built around Sandstorm, it's Sand Stream ability really helps. Also, it really packs a punch with moves like Crunch and Rock Slide.

Dominic: During the tournament my strongest asset was either my Goodra or my Ferrothorn. My Ferrothorn got me out of lots of tight spots thanks to its great typing (Steel/Grass) and its amazing defensive stats. My Goodra was also great because it fainted many a Pokémon throughout and I just generally love it for its power and its capabilities as a special defensive wall.

Oliver: The obvious answer would be Tyranitar. I haven't done the maths, but I'm pretty sure most of my knock-outs were with him. However, the reason it did so well was also because of my Meowstic, who was able to set up Reflect and Light Screen, as well as Safeguard, to allow Tyranitar to stay healthy and also live super-effective hits so that its Weakness Policy could be activated. That was another thing - it was also successful because it was unexpected: players expect a Tyranitar with Ice Beam and Fire Blast holding Life Orb because that's the most common, which I knew going into the tournament. That's how I won my final battle - my opponent was absolutely not expecting Weakness Policy. If he had, I could have easily lost.

Interested in giving competitive Pokemon battling a shot? Here are some handy links to get you started:

You've heard it from the pros, now why don't you put our tips into practice and enter the next online Pokémon X & Y competition - the 2014 International Challenge May. Registration opens on 8th May at 8am Eastern / 1pm UK / 2pm Central Europe on a first-come, first-served basis, with the competition taking place from Friday 16th May until Sunday 18th May. Each battle follows Double Battle procedure, with only Pokémon from the Kalos Pokédexes allowed to enter - so make sure you read the full list of rules before you start creating your ultimate team. Good luck trainers!

A big thank you to Nintendo UK for arranging this interview and event, as well as providing images.

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