It was Wimbledon’s Oliver Reilly who reigned victorious at the Pokémon X & Y Battle Tournament 2014 Grand Final, eager Trainers having descended on Mayfair’s The Music Room to compete.
Claiming the Ultimate Pokémon Expert title, he was rewarded for his efforts with a week-long trip for two to Japan and fast track entry to the second round of the official Play! Pokémon UK VGC event last month.
We had chance to speak to Oliver about his experiences at the event, whether he’ll be popping to one of Japan’s Pokémon Centers, and what advice he’d give to anyone looking to start competing.
[This interview was conducted ahead of the 2014 Pokémon Video Game National Championships in Manchester]
Nintendo Insider: How does it feel to have battled your way to become the Ultimate Pokémon Expert?
Oliver Reilly: It feels fantastic and a little surreal. I am relatively new to the competitive VGC scene, and when I entered I did so because I have been a fan of Pokémon for a long time, and I have always wanted to go to events, to either compete or to meet other Pokémon fans. I ended up winning the Regional final I was in, and from there I felt as though I had a responsibility to give it my best shot. I did a lot of research, and settled on a team that I felt comfortable with. I was not expecting to win.
NI: The final battle proved quite tricky, did you ever think that a win wasn’t on the cards?
OR: The final was interesting. My Garchomp did not have the moves that I wanted it to, and my Meowstic was unable to move after being paralyzed for two turns, and as a result my Mawile and my Tyranitar had to do all of the work. When my Meowstic and Garchomp went down, I was pretty certain that I was going to lose, although I was trying to focus on the slim chance that I had of winning. After a couple of pivotal turns I was able to swing the game in my favour.
NI: You must be fairly excited to have won the trip to Tokyo. You’ll have to make sure that you visit a Pokémon Center! Have you ever been to Japan before?
OR: I am incredibly excited about the trip! It was a fantastic prize. I will certainly be visiting the Pokémon Center! I have been to Japan once before on an exchange, and it was one of the best weeks of my life. It was a delightfully large culture shock, and I can’t wait to go again.
NI: You have also been fast tracked to the second round of the 2014 Pokémon UK National Championships. Are you making any changes to your winning team ahead of this?
OR: As of writing this, I have competed at the Pokémon National Championships. I performed well, but not as well as I would have liked, and I didn’t make the final 32. My team was almost completely changed, and was an improvement on the team that I brought to the Grand Finals. My Tyranitar and Amoonguss stayed, but Aegislash, Meowstic, Mawile and Rotom-W were removed and replaced by Gengar, Azumarill, Manectric and Scizor. However, I did not have the experience that I needed with the team because I had not spent enough time preparing, whereas at the Grand Finals I had been testing the team for weeks and I knew how to use it effectively.
NI: Is competing a key part of the Pokémon experience for you? What do you enjoy most about the series?
OR: Absolutely! The game that was once a fun RPG and strategy game in my younger years has become a competitive, complex game that I invest hundreds of hours into. It is the focus of the games for me.
What I love about Pokémon is that it gives the player the opportunity to play the game in any way that the see fit. I have played through all the games of the main series several times and I enjoy the story line, and developing your own Pokémon team, but it offers the opportunity to play it on a much deeper level by delving into the details of the game’s mechanics.
NI: What tips would you give to anyone looking to start competing?
OR: If you’re thinking about competing, it is likely that you already have a background in Pokémon and are a fan of the games. That is excellent groundwork for becoming a successful competitive player. Dip your toes into the wealth of information that the online Pokémon community has to offer, and see what you think. You’ll find all the information that you’ll need to grow as a player. Start practising with different teams and ideas. The more experience you get, the more comfortable you’ll feel when you’re battling. Don’t give up! I’ve found that you learn far more from your losses than you do from your wins – which means you’ll be learning a lot when you start competing.
NI: Thanks for your time, Oliver!