Knocking the Rust Off — How to Play Competitive Pokemon with Limited Time

Hey everyone! It’s Charlie, and I’m back with another article. I last wrote before Charlotte Regionals, where I finished 5-2-2 with Gardevoir ex. I’ve played Gardevoir at four of the five Regional Championships I’ve attended this season, and unfortunately only have one Day 2 to show for it. There are myriad reasons why this is the case, including poor play, bad luck, and inherent flaws with the deck, but regardless, having a 20% Day 2 conversion rate feels really bad. Most importantly, in a year with a 600-CP invite and relatively strict BFLs, these finishes simply aren’t good enough for a World Championships–caliber player. If I want to play in Honolulu, I need to be on my A game for the rest of the year, since at this point, I’d say I don’t deserve an invite.

Luckily, there’s a six-week gap before I play in my next major tournament, which is Vancouver Regionals in late March. Instead of thinking about a bunch of new decks right now, I decided the best use of this time would be to come up with a plan to save my season. In this article, I’m going to share that plan, including all the flaws in the methodology I’ve been using, the constraints on my ability to test, and the things I plan to do to improve as a player and revitalize my passion for this game. I hope you’ll be able to use this as a guide to create your own plan and improve your own finishes, regardless of whether you’re a newer player or a long-time competitor.

Diagnosing the Problem

Before I try to come up with any solutions, the first task is to break down exactly what I’ve been doing all season and how the plan I had coming into the year has worked out. After Worlds ended, I immediately packed my things and moved to Denmark for the rest of the fall. This complicated things because I knew I’d have less time on the weekends to travel to events, but I still planned to go to as many European Regionals as I could while I was there. I’d also managed to book Toronto Regionals at a reasonable price, so I knew I’d be in for a packed fall.

Since I knew I’d be busy during weekdays with non-Pokemon activities like class and exploring Denmark, my plan was simple: pick one deck with even-to-favorable matchups across the board, play it well, and collect lots of points. This was a very different strategy than I had ever employed before. In my career best season (2018-2019), I earned about 700 points while playing a different archetype at every single event I earned those points at. One of my biggest strengths as a player had always been bringing somewhat unorthodox strategies and techs that gave me an edge, and bringing a generic meta deck to every event was going to be a big change. Nevertheless, I thought this would be a good idea in the current meta because the deck I chose, Gardevoir, really fit the description almost exactly. It required a lot of skill in both game planning and micro-decisions every turn, but rewarded you with a very dominant matchup spread. If I was going to get really good at a single deck and play it at everything, this was definitely the right deck to choose.

This concludes the public portion of this article.

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