For the first time ever, a Pokemon Go Trainer Battle (PvP) tournament was held, taking center stage as the first main event at the 2019 Pokemon World Championships. Watching each match made something very clear: Pokemon Go battle mechanics between two experienced trainers is heads-and-tails different than the frantic tapping of single-player battles.
“I think people really had fun seeing the battle system and feature within Pokemon Go in a competitive environment,” said Daniel Benkwitt, The Pokemon Company’s senior manager of consumer marketing.
Though The Pokemon Company doesn’t have anything further to share about the future of competitive Pokemon Go at this time, Benkwitt said “...we’re certainly looking forward to what it could become.”
As an invitational event, only eight people participated in the best of three tournament, including Pokemon legends Junichi Masuda and Shigeki Morimoto. Benkwitt said the Pokemon producer and game designer, along with the other invitees, all had a great time competing.
Meghan Camarena, perhaps better known as Strawburry17, was one of the invitees. “Everyone plays Pokemon Go, but they don’t do PvP and they’re like, ‘I had no idea it’s that intricate or strategic,’” Camarena said. “I honestly had no idea either.”
In the weeks leading up to the Pokemon Go Invitational, Camarena trained and researched for hours every day.
“I’m very familiar with Pokemon strengths and weaknesses, but this is a different ballgame. Different Pokemon could have a completely different moveset and that I think I’m immune to, like, my Skarmory should have been fine against Muk but its Thunder Punch destroyed me [at the tournament],” Camarena explained.
Like traditional Pokemon RPGs, type match-ups are of the utmost importance and being able to predict your opponent’s movesets and actions can make or break a battle. Training up naturally gifted Pokemon is a must, too, but in Pokemon Go, they also must have access to two charge moves, which is “crucial” Camarena said.
“Everyone was making fun of it like ‘Have fun tapping,’ and I’m like, ‘Yo, chill, you don’t even know what you’re talking about.’”
Unlike PvE Pokemon Go, PvP is more turn-based and strategic than it looks. This video speaks for itself, but take this play from Camarena’s match against Yamada. In the final battle, after Yamada used one of his limited three shields to protect his Altaria, Camarena switched Venusaur in. This at first seemed like a mistake, considering Venusaur is weak to Altaria’s Flying-type attacks.
“I baited him with my Venusaur because I knew he knew it was gonna be an easy matchup,” Camarena explained.
Yamada fell for they bait and used a Charge Attack, but instead of landing the super effective Sky Attack on Venusaur, Camarena was able to switch to Skarmory just in time, which took miniscule damage, wasting Yamada’s Charge Move. Meanwhile, Camarena had Venusaur waiting on the bench with a Charge Move nearly ready to go.
“I knew if I could just get a little bit of a charge on my Venusaur and swap out, I knew I could, I could win the game. So that's what I did. I baited him with that and then came back super strong,” Camarena said.
And that’s exactly what happened. At the end of the battle, Camarena’s Venusaur faced Yamada’s Tropius. With Venusaur’s Charge Move ready, and Yamada out of shields, Camarena took the game.
Because Charge Moves require a micro-game (think a touch-screen, rhythm-based Mario Party mini-game, Camarena said), Camarena actually developed a blister on her finger due to her furious technique. It’s worth it though, as the better you do at the micro-game, the more damage the Charge Attack does.
During the Grand Finals between Poke AK and PoGoKieng, a few disconnects and other connection errors occurred, disrupting the final battles. Both finalists took it in sportsmanly stride, and besides, it wouldn’t be Pokemon Go without a few technical issues though, would it?
PoGoKieng was crowned the champion of the Pokemon Go Invitational at the 2019 Pokemon World Championships after resetting the bracket.
“Feeling exhausted but really happy [Pokemon Go] gets a stage and a show,” PogoKieng said after winning the tournament.
When asked if he had any advice for new Pokemon Go PvP players, he said, “Seek as many resources as possible. GO: Stadium Discord is a really great resource, and there are a lot of content creators that can help. Always be humble on how you can get better.”