Digital Media Concepts/Competitive Pokemon Battling
The Competitive Pokemon Battling scene is a subset of the largest video game franchise in the world. As a company that has made over 90 billion dollars during its lifetime, Pokemon is home to a massive player base filled with millions of players who have gone professional.
The first Pokemon games to be released were part of Pokemon's first generation, in 1996. These revolutionary games by developer Satoshi Tajiri, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green, were to be played on the Nintendo Game Boy. The next title that came out was Pokemon Yellow an enhanced version of the previous games, in 1998.
The second generation of Pokemon games featuring a new location and cast included Pokemon Gold and Pokemon Silver in 1999 for the Game Boy Color. The enhanced version of the second generation games was released in 2000 as Pokemon Crystal. Two new additional types were also added for these games to balance the strengths and weaknesses of the Pokemon within it.
Two years later, in 2002, the third generation of Pokemon games were released for the Game Boy Advanced. These games include Pokemon Ruby and Pokemon Sapphire. In 2004, the Pokemon Company decided to release remastered versions of the original first generation games, as Pokemon FireRed and Pokemon LeafGreen. Finally, they released Pokemon Emerald as an enhanced version of Ruby and Sapphire.
In 2006, the Pokemon Company released the titles Pokemon Diamond and Pearl, as part of their fourth generation of Pokemon games. This was when Nintendo completely shifted over their game base onto their new console, the Nintendo DS, and thus allowed for much more capability for their games. In addition, the Wi-Fi and infrared connection technologies were first introduced at this time, allowing for the first players to interact and battle with each other through Wi-Fi. This was what allowed the Pokemon Company to first begin to host tournaments where players could compete with each other. Later, in 2008, the Pokemon Company released the enhanced version of these games, called Pokemon Platinum. In 2009, the Pokemon Company released the titles Pokemon HeartGold and Soulsilver, as remakes of the original second-generation Pokemon Games, Gold and Silver. This was similar to how the Pokemon Company released Pokemon FireRed and LeafGreen as remakes for their first games ever made.
In 2010, the developers released the games Pokemon Black and White, as part of their fifth generation of Pokemon Games. The games continued to be played on the Nintendo DS, with no considerable change in the technology used. Later, in 2012, the Pokemon Company released the games Black 2 and White 2 as sequels to the games Black and White.
In 2013, Nintendo moved over to their newest console, the Nintendo 3DS, and released new games as part of their sixth generation of Pokemon games. These games were Pokemon X and Y, and enhanced co-operational play between players due to the improvement of the console it was played on. The sixth generation of Pokemon saw a surge of players wanting to participate in the competitive scene due to a result of balance changes and redefined rulesets for the tournaments. Later, the games Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire were released in 2014 as enhanced remakes of their third generation games, Pokemon Ruby and Sapphire.
In 2016, Pokemon released its final set of titles to be played on the Nintendo 3DS. These games were Pokemon Sun and Moon, the first games to be part of the seventh generation of Pokemon. In 2017, Pokemon released Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, sequel games to the original Sun and Moon games.
Finally, in 2018, the Pokemon Company released the first games of the eighth generation. These games were Pokemon Let's Go Eevee and Let's Go Pikachu, new games based on the Pokemon GO technology using the Nintendo Switch, and were enhanced versions and remakes of the original games of the first generation, Pokemon Red, Blue, and Green. Pokemon Tournaments continued to play mostly on the seventh generation of games, because Let's Go Eevee and Let's Go Pikachu only allowed use of the first 151 Pokemon to be released in the first generation games.
There are an extensive list of the tournaments available each year for competitive battlers. The different yearly competitions are listed below.
The Premier Challenge is a small local tournament usually held to help competitors increase their premier ratings for future tournaments. This is a popular place to practice strategy and team builds for the larger tournaments featured during the year.
The Midseason Showdown is a generally medium-sized event that allow successful trainers from the Premier Challenge tournaments earn the right to compete in the larger World level and Regional Championships. The prizes are far greater here than in the Premier Challenge tournaments.
Pokemon Regional Championships
This is the qualifier tournament for those who have won the Midseason Showdown tournaments, and are looking to increase their rankings in preparation for the future International Championships. These tournaments have prizes for up to $5000.
Pokemon International Championships
These tournaments are held four times each year, one in Europe, one in Oceania, one in South America, and one in North America. This is generally the largest VGC Pokemon championship tournament held during the year, and prizes up to $10000.
This tournament is an invite-only event for only the best of the best. These are players who have earned significant amounts of premier points and have extremely high rankings. Many attend this tournament just to watch the battles, and is held once a year.
Formats and Rules
There are four main formats the Pokemon Company employs for competitive play. These include VGC, otherwise known as the Video Game Championships, Battle Spot Singles, Battle Spot Doubles, and finally Battle Spot Special.
Every year, the Pokemon Company has several championship leagues available for competitive play. The VGC, the main entity for this style of play, is where most competitive players go to battle the best. The Video Game Championships allow players to battle other people from all over the world and compete for great prizes during the year. Players need to bring a team of six Pokemon that comply with the rules set by the Pokemon Company and must be legitimately obtained. There are a great deal of hacked versions of the game and methods to obtain rare Pokemon, so the judges and the Pokemon Company are extremely strict when it comes to the Pokemon allowed.
Battle Spot Singles
Here, the players are given two minutes to look at the other's Pokemon team. The players are then told to choose three Pokemon from their own team to bring into battle, and the competition ensues. Again, all pokemon must be legitimately obtained and can not be part of the banlist established for that tournament.
Battle Spot Doubles
The Battle Spot Doubles format is very similar to how the Battle Spot Singles format is played, except instead of allowing the players to choose three different Pokemon to use in battle, they allow four. The same rules regarding the banlist and legitimacy of the Pokemon used apply.
Battle Spot Special
The Battle Spot Special format is the only version of competitive play that features constantly changing rulesets and methods of battling. The Pokemon Company has many different standards they customize for this format, and they switch between what type of Pokemon they want to use, what types are allowed, and time they allow players to make their decisions.
There are five clear unofficial tiers in the Pokemon metagame. These are based on the usage, popularity, and perceived power of the Pokemon used. The first tier is called Ubers, consisting of Pokemon too powerful to be used in many standard competitions, and thus is much like a generic free-for-all. The second tier is called OU, meaning Overused, consisting of many non-legendary Pokemon with above-average to outstanding stats and are most used in the standard metagame. Third, we have the UU category, consisting of the Pokemon that are underused in the standard metagame, likely due to factors such as less-than-preferential statistics and typings. The Pokemon in the UU category are not seen as much in most tournaments, but do show up occasionally. The tier below this is named the RU category, consisting of rarely used Pokemon. Basically known as the underused Pokemon of the UU category, most players are rarely ever seen using these Pokemon in the competitive scene. Most of these Pokemon are not fully evolved, nor do they have very good stats. Finally, we have the NU category, consisting of all the Pokemon that are never used in competitions due to their immaturity and relative weakness compared to the rest of the metagame.
In each tier, only the Pokemon in that tier and below may be used. For example, while playing in the UU category, any Pokemon from the Rarely Used tier or the Never Used tier may be used, but none from the Ubers or the OU tiers. This is to encourage fairness and to ensure that no one employs Pokemon and strategies too powerful for that level of the metagame.
These competitive tiers are based on a number of factors. These include the Pokemon's movepool, it's typing, it's offensive and defensive stats, and the abilities it is given. Every time a new Pokemon game is released, the game developers tweak some Pokemons' statistics and selection of moves to ensure that there is a variety of different Pokemon used in competitive battling, and to also make sure that there are not too many overpowered Pokemon in the games themselves.
Popular Players and Past Winners
There are many Youtuber content creators who specialize in competitive Pokemon battling. Some of these YouTubers include MandJTV, TheJwittz, TheAuraGuardian, Truegreen7, MunchingOrange, Pimpnite, Shofu, and Pokeaim. Many of these individuals highlight their competitive Pokemon battling careers in their videos and share tips and strategies for battling on the world stage.
In addition, there are many popular players who have won multiple times in the past VGC competitions. Some of these players include Pi Wu from Taiwan, Teddy French from Great Britain, Ko Tsukide from Japan, and Lewis Tan from Australia.
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