Published on June 29th, 2015 | by Lucien Lachance


Top Players Talk: Mental Preparation for Nationals

Hey, everybody! Lucien Lachance back again for Top Players Talk. With Nationals in a few days, many newer players will be going in with little to no Best of 3 VGC experience, so joining me today are two of the most experienced Best of 3 VGC players to answer some questions about how to maintain a positive mentality and how to keep endurance high throughout the long day. They’ll also give some advice on where to meet players from the community and how to make the most of the weekend. This article is a bit shorter than the last two, but I hope it’ll be the most useful for new players to the community looking forward to their first Nationals or players wary about the new format.

Returning for another appearance is America’s sweetheart, Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom). He’s been in several Top Cuts, and frequently runs deep in tournaments. His recent experience at Worlds will certainly resonate with newer players, due to his mentality being similar to that of nervous players. Joining him is one of the major faces for VGC, Aaron Zheng (Cybertron). With his two National victories, a plethora of Regionals finals, and a 3rd place finish at Worlds, few players play more Best of 3s than he does yearly.

Kenan: Looking at the new format for Nationals, what is the biggest difference about Bo1 swiss than Bo3?

Collin: Bo3 Swiss allows for the better player to win in most situations. If you get unlucky, usually you can bring it back in games 2 and 3. I also think the biggest difference is the amount of endurance you have to have to compete at an all day Bo3 event. 27 potential games is a lot to handle and you need to stay relaxed and fresh throughout.

Aaron: Best of 3 is incredibly beneficial for stronger players.  Like Collin mentioned, RNG is mitigated; even if luck doesn’t go your way in the first game, you still have options to win the set. I think the most important thing, however, is a player’s ability to adapt to their opponent’s play style and team, something stronger players are more skilled in due to their experience. Since Pokemon is such a volatile game, Bo1 often feels like a crapshoot; we’ve all had our fair share of losses to things that catch us off guard. However, in Bo3, the better players will adapt accordingly. Newer players may also struggle in changing up their game plan after winning the first game. The time crunch is also a major factor. It’ll definitely be a long first day, but when your entire season and Worlds invite is on the line, I think it’s important that we have Bo3.

Kenan: What is the best advice to someone who gets lucked out G1, or is forced to play G3 due to hax?

Collin: I think whenever you lose game one due to luck it usually upsets players and sends them on a massive tilt. This can be really hard to deal with if you have zero Bo3 experience. You need to put everything that happened last game behind you. Start fresh. I think that is essential for anyone doing Bo3. Each game is a completely different game and you only carry over information from game to game. Being forced into a game three can be very stressful, but you should have won the last two anyways so you can most likely beat them again.

Kenan: Well said. Just be sure to keep a positive mentality going into Game 3 and you can easily overcome that spell of bad luck. Aaron, what is your advice?

Aaron: Collin basically summarized what I wanted to say. You just have to move on and treat each game as its own. It can be incredibly frustrating and upsetting to get forced to a Game 3 because of RNG, but players need to remember that it’s just another factor in the game. Don’t second guess yourself and play that 3rd game with confidence.

Kenan: You guys both mentioned the endurance it takes to play all of these Bo3 sets. What are some ways to stay on top of your game mentally with a maximum of 27 games in one day?

Aaron: Well, speaking from experience, one of my biggest weaknesses in a long Bo3 tournament is playing more carelessly towards the end, i.e. not making the safest plays possible. Make sure you don’t let the fatigue get to you. I think getting a good amount of sleep the night before and staying hydrated throughout the day is more important than people give it credit for. Personally, I also like to review my game/sets after I play them to see what I’m doing right and wrong. Remember that for Day 1, the goal is to win 7 sets to make it into Day 2. It doesn’t matter when you win them. Stay focused.

Kenan: Mentality is a huge issue. I was talking with Blake Hopper (Bopper) about his run through LCQ at Worlds last year, and he said changing his mentality from “If I lose this game I’m out” to “I’m one win closer to getting into Worlds” made it much easier for him to squeak through LCQ and do well at Worlds. Also, I think you raise a very good point. X-2 is a dangerous position to be in, but not nearly as hazardous as it was in years prior. Be sure to make every one of those sets count if you get to that point.

Aaron: For sure– also, unlike Worlds, you know you can lose twice in Day 1, so you don’t need to stress out constantly after picking up your first loss.

Collin: I agree with Aaron completely. I think you need to stay well rested and well fed throughout the day. Make sure you don’t let individual loses get to you.

Kenan: Collin, do you have any personal ways to stay focused throughout the day? Aaron mentioned he re-watches his games and looks for his errors to improve in the next set.

Collin: I personally really like to go outside and just be by myself and just reflect on my day and to just keep thinking forward.

Kenan: Just remaining calm and focused on what you need to do and keeping a good mindset overall, I see. So another big issue some people are foreseeing is their DS’s running out of power during games, do you guys have any experience with this during your time as a player?

Aaron: Yes, way too many times – even though I’ve never had my DS actually run out of power, it has come very close. Definitely charge your DS the night before, and I really recommend buying a portable battery pack – it’s cheap and will get you through all the VGC tournaments you’ll go to for the rest of your life. Don’t have a silly loss because your DS runs out of power.

Collin: I never have had this problem because I’m way too paranoid about that exact issue. I think charging the night before usually can get you through the day, and make sure you shut off between rounds.

Kenan: So something a lot of newer players are going to have to deal with is getting matched up against a “big name” player. What is your advice to those players who are a little intimidated by the matchup?

Collin: I think this incident occurs at almost every event. I had problems with this at Worlds, actually, when I played Sejun in Top 4. I saw him as someone who I couldn’t compete with and I didn’t give myself a fair chance to beat him. I think you just need to focus on playing the game and not playing the name. It almost gives you an advantage as well. You may know how that good player plays by watching his/her YouTube videos but they don’t know how you play. Just keep focused on playing and take it one game at a time. Even if you get 4-0ed just sit back, take a deep breath, and focus on making game 2 better.

Aaron: Yeah, great points by Collin. I actually think newer players can use it to their advantage. There’s a lot of information and gameplay of all the top players online, which you can use to study. Pokemon really is a game where mid-level competitors can take sets off top level-competitors if they’re playing their A game. It’s cliche, but just try your best! Even if you lose, it’s always exciting to play the best players in the game. I love playing sets vs. players like Wolfe and Collin because you learn so much from them. Remember to have a good time!

Kenan: And every top player had their breakout year where they upset a lot of top players to become some of the best. it’s just a matter of making it your year, and I’m certain we’ll have a handful of players who will surprise us this upcoming week. Is there anything else you wanted to bring up about the event itself?

Collin: Tilt is a very real aspect of all competitive events. I think you need to remain relaxed and be completely focused throughout the event.

Aaron: This is probably the most hype Nationals we’ve ever had in VGC, so just be excited to be part of such an awesome event!

Kenan: Now to move on to the social side, what are some of the best places to meet other players, aside from the event itself?

Collin: I think the important thing to remember is that you are going to a convention center filled with people who all love the same game as you. Some are more fans of the franchise than others, but we all love battling and playing this game so use that to your benefit. Making friends is pretty easy to do at events like these and just put yourself out there and be yourself at these events and you can meet some really cool people. Any hotel you are at, you will run into a fellow player and the convention center is perfect to meet people.

Aaron: Indy itself isn’t the coolest city, but there’s still a lot of fun stuff you can do with friends. I recommend mini-golf at the mall. Nationals isn’t just about the main event – for most people, that’s just one day. Enjoy all the amazing side events and the hype battles/commentary. It’s definitely an amazing experience regardless of how you do in the actual tournament.

Kenan: Definitely. People always say the tournament is the worst part of Nationals. Also, the open gaming lounges at the Convention Center are always bristling with people playing various games and looking to meet new people. Where are some of the better places to eat around the area?

Collin: I mean I don’t know if this place is really a good place to eat at, but Steak and Shake is always a fun time for whatever reason. It’s almost a Nationals tradition to eat some steak and drink some shakes. I know last year Toler wanted to eat at some fancy restaurant or something so there are nice places to eat, but during the event you definitely are probably going to eat at the mall food court due to speed and ease of access.

Aaron: I just go to Steak and Shake, Buffalo Wild Wings, TGIF, Noodles and Co, California Pizza Kitchen, and occasionally a larger restaurant.

Kenan: So what’s the biggest thing to remember for the social side of Pokemon? For me, it’s that the top players are just people and are very approachable, but be mindful that they have their own friend groups they haven’t seen in a whole year. Of course come say hi, but be sure to be respectful of the friendships they’ve garnered over the years.

Aaron: That’s exactly what I’d say! Pretty much everyone is incredibly kind and welcoming in person.

Collin: Don’t be afraid to approach anyone, almost everyone will talk to you or help you out if you get lost or something. I love this community and it is just so nice and refreshing to be able to see everyone.

Kenan: Once again, thank you two so much for answering some questions. Good luck this week at Nationals and I hope to see you two do exceptionally well!

About the Author

Share a little biographical information to fill out your profile. This may be shown publicly.

16 Responses to Top Players Talk: Mental Preparation for Nationals

  1. Great article! I really enjoyed reading it!

  2. crazysnorlax says:

    My only suggestion would be if there is also an option to listen to this as a podcast, but besides that, solid read.

  3. Ace2014 says:

    I enjoy reading these Top Player Talks, nicely done

  4. RockinAerodact says:

    Great Article.

  5. TrickRoomMaster says:

    Great article! I really love this series, keep ’em coming!

  6. My only suggestion would be if there is also an option to listen to this as a podcast, but besides that, solid read.

    The other two articles have had podcasts which expand on the discussion. You can find those in the subfourm under “Top Players Actually Talk.” This one is not getting a podcast due to everyone leaving for Nationals in two days or so and I have to practice myself!

  7. Swanner says:

    This article is on-point. Definitely can’t remember the last Pokemon event that didn’t involve Steak n Shake.

  8. brokestupidlonely says:

    You know it’s funny. I think I’ve had steak and shake at each of my regionals I’ve attended. Now I gotta keep the tradition.

  9. Firestorm says:

    Can’t take anything these players say seriously after the Steak n Shake recommendations. Hope you get more qualified subjects to interview next time.

  10. starmetroid says:

    Steak n Shake more like Mistake n Shake

  11. OnlineTuba says:

    Only here for Steak n Shake.

  12. iMagikarp says:

    Will a podcast be posted for this one too?

  13. Will a podcast be posted for this one too?

    “This one is not getting a podcast due to everyone leaving for Nationals in two days or so and I have to practice myself!”
    No it is not.

  14. Can’t take anything these players say seriously after the Steak n Shake recommendations. Hope you get more qualified subjects to interview next time.

    The play was to trap all the unsuspecting new players there, drastically reducing the lines at good restaurants!

  15. pball0010 says:

    Kenan: So something a lot of newer players are going to have to deal with is getting matched up against a “big name” player. What is your advice to those players who are a little intimidated by the matchup?

    I’ll throw in my advice since I had the pleasure of facing Enosh, Wolfey, and Cybertron in Philadelphia Swiss this year: tell yourself they’re beatable and play your best. Was I intimidated when I had to play each of them? Of course, but the confidence I gave myself helped me out, as Enosh forgot what Lapras did, I made the right plays versus Wolfe, and Cybertron timed out and used Fake Out after turn one against me, basically giving that match. So just play confidently, don’t time out, and know that people are human and can make mistakes, even really good players.

  16. Gryphon says:

    Great article! As someone who has suffered from mental fallout during lots of tournaments, this information is really helpful, even for Bo1 Swiss. When I was participating in the IC June, after every other battle or so I would step outside and walk around, and meditate on my performance and how I could do better if I run into similar obstacles in the next battle. I wish I had that kind of opportunity in Athens, but until I get a mobile device to let me know about round pairings, I dare not go outside the building in case I miss any announcements… plus it seems like it rains every year they have Regionals there, anyway. 😀

Leave a Reply

Back to Top ↑