Sunday, May 22, 2011

Pokemon West Regional Qualifier Tournament

Tension and spirits were both high at the Pokemon Black and White West Regional Championships in San Jose. In spite of claims that the world would end on this day, the rapture was postponed to allow this competition. Trainers from across the land flocked to the convention center to prove that they could be the very best, like no one ever was.

I showed up wearing my finest Team Rocket suit, dressed as Giovanni not only to report on the competition, but to try my own hand at the championship, and perhaps to stop by the Comic Fest held at the same convention center. With my Nintendo DS in one pocket and Pokeball in the other, I began my own Pokemon journey, to test how far my own training could take me, and to see the fruits of labor for competitors who'd been preparing for this day since the games first came out.

Nintendo seemed to be aware of the growing age of their players, as the Masters Division, for players 16 or older, had room for 1024 competitors. The Junior and Senior divisions had spaces for 512 each. Given that the line stretched around the walls of the convention center, I'd guess that each of those spots were filled. For this competition, trainers were limited to 5th generation Pokemon only, so while I was left without the use of my trusty Electivire, everyone had prepared a team of the new Pokemon to battle with.

Arriving early, before 10:00, we had found that a line was already forming, and quickly took our place in it. While there, I met up with several other members of Team Rocket, and other Pokemon cosplayer friends. We were in time to see the Junior and Senior divisions as they came to an end, and I took the time to speak with three competitors who had just ended their matches. Even though they weren't the most competitive of players, they'd all spent the last few months preparing their team. The younger players, they claimed, had spent even longer, not having to worry about as much school work. In spite of their losses, they said they had fun.

"This is like the Elite Four for all of us," said one of my friends, who was cosplaying as Johto's ghost-type gym leader, Morty. I can't say I disagree; this was the competition that we'd all been working hard for, but there can only be one champion.

I also had the chance to speak with the first and second place winners of the Senior division, Aaron and Richard. Aaron used a team taking advantage of the Discharge ability (which hits all Pokemon on the field), while Richard used his choice of Tailwind or Trick Room to give himself a speed advantage. They were both very good sports, speaking highly of their battle and the others' abilities.

There was plenty to do for people who weren't competing as well. While I waited, I took the time to take pictures with the mascots (the three Unova region starters, plus Pikachu) and compete in the Battle Facility rankings. Going up against five strong NPC opponents in a row, and winning every battle, my score of 6105 was enough to place me second on the rank list, and while I was later moved down to 4th, my score was still good enough to remain on the top 10 list. There were also several people to battle with, and a "king of the hill" miniature competition.

Returning to our place in line from lunch, my group was confronted by a security guard, who demanded we take the bagged food beside us outside. The problem was, it wasn't our food; we had finished before returning, and it was someone else's lunch sitting next to us. The security guard refused to listen to us, though, and demanded we remove it, or else he'd have us thrown out. While we didn't want to mess with someone else's food, the stubborn old man did not seem to care what we had to say, and gave us the "just doing my job" excuse while insisting we throw out someone else's lunch. So I have to say, Convention Center, you have disappointed me with your staff.

However, soon after, the competition began. We were led in single-file around to the registration booth, where we had our teams registered and entered, as well as being given a useful little Pokemon knapsack. Once the matches began, the competition was off to an incredible start, with trainers going all-out with their chosen Pokemon.

Sadly, I was defeated in the first round. My opponent used Whimsicott's ability to outspeed my own Pokemon, greatly reducing their stats to minimize damage, while inflicting powerful attacks with his Landorus. While I was ready for the land genie's underlings, the Flying-type Tornadus and Electric/Flying Thundurus, I didn't have enough counters to Landorus, and found myself defeated. My opponent was a very good sport, though, and we thanked each other for an enjoyable match. (I also find it worth noting that out of all my battles that day, all my victories were in non-tournament matches, all my losses were for competing.)

The tournament continued on until its epic finale. It was an incredibly close match, where a Terrakion with one remaining health point managed to finish off two of his weakened opponents at once, before taking down a full-health Hydreigon with a super effective Close Combat attack. Due to time constraints, I was unable to speak to either the first or second place winners, but would like to congratulate them both for an impressive match, and wish them luck in their upcoming competition matches.

So in spite of my quick loss and the rudeness of the security staff, the Pokemon West Regional Qualifiers was a success. I had an enjoyable time, and hope to try my hand at competing again. Next time, I plan to get a few more wins under my belt.


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