Published on December 21st, 2012 | by bearsfan092


The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Trainers

Think if this is you: you’ve been spending all day on the Global Battle Union and Pokémon Online (soon to be Pokémon Showdown I hope) ladder.  Maybe you’re trying to build a team or just get comfortable with one.  After countless battles, you aren’t doing terribly.  Maybe you’re winning a shade over half of your matches, which would be a respectable finish of about 5-3 at an event.  Yeah, that’s okay, but you want to top cut!  This means you gotta finish at least 6-2 at an 8 round event, meaning you should be winning 75 percent of your games.  Heck, you probably should be winning even more since the top competition at an event will be virtually guaranteed to be stronger than your typical online opponent.  This makes your 55-60 percent win percentage look awfully mediocre now.  Frustrated, you keep battling and rebuilding teams and making progress at a snail’s pace.  What now?

This is what happened to me before the 2012 National Championships, and it was not a fun place for me.  While I still don’t consider myself a 90th percentile player in North America, I developed a few tips for myself to get better by practicing more efficiently that ultimately helped me take the Philadelphia Regional Championship.  Hopefully, these tips will help you out while allowing you to develop your own unique yet effective style of battling.

Quality, Not Quantity

Let me preface this section with the following: the more you practice, the better you get.  Just keep in mind that as you play more in a given session, the returns will most likely diminish. On top of that, you’re probably doing more with your life than just Pokémon, so you need to budget your time so that you can play Pokémon while covering the other aspects of your life in a responsible manner.  What’s a Pokénerd to do?

If you’re looking to attend an event, you should start planning your practice about two months in advance just to be comfortable.  Start by setting aside 30 to 45 minutes each day to practice a little VGC.  With a reasonable amount like that, you could get a few VGC matches in before you go to bed each night.

What does this do for you?  First and most importantly, it keeps you from devoting your entire life to this game.  In terms of skill level, it forces you to focus on a smaller amount of battles by discouraging the mentality of “oh well, I can just start another battle”.  By examining your actions in fewer battles, you’ll maximize what you learn from each individual fight. This brings me to my next point:

Learn From Your Mistakes

One of the best features a simulator can give you is logs.  Within a easily readable HTML page, you can replay a battle precisely as it happened, giving you a time capsule of your actions in a match.  The first step is to learn how to save logs in your simulator of choice.

When I first started saving logs, it was pretty useful.  After a while though, I found myself absolutely flooded with information.  Some of it was useful, others not so much.  There are two things you can do to rectify this situation.  After you save a log, rename it so that the filename is indicative of what to look for when you review the log.  After all, what’s more descriptive?  “Bad_Leads_Against_Rain” or “Vs_R_Inanimate_6_6_12”.  The second thing you can do is limit your logs to your losses (or even to lucky wins).  You’re not gonna learn anything by reading how you 4-0 stomped someone, so don’t even bother.  If you examine how you lost, you can see if the loss was preventable.  This will prove useful in the future if you ever run across a similar situation.

For those of you who operate primarily on the GBU, keeping records is a bit more difficult.  User honchkro13 has developed a system you may wish to use for yourself:

“I personally keep an Excel spreadsheet that has 2 tabs–one for basic statistics and one as a battle journal. The statistics tabs lists how often I use what move on what Pokémon, as well as how often I use a particular Pokémon, as well as how often I win or lose against certain types of teams (goodstuffs, rain, etc.). I also keep track of my total win-loss-DC record. This allows me to identify Pokémon or moves that I scarcely use and replace them with Pokémon or moves that give me a better matchup against stuff I’ve lost to.”

Whether you go to this extent is one thing, but the basic idea is excellent.

Stop the Ladder Mentality

Very short and sweet advice: quit caring about your ladder ranking or GBU rating.  When you go to an event, everyone starts from the same position.  That #1 spot you got on the Skarmbliss ladder?  Doesn’t mean a thing.  This is exactly what happened to me at Nationals 2012.  I peaked and held onto the #1 slot on Skarmbliss for most of the week before Nationals and proceeded to go 4-4, partially because I thought I was hot stuff.  Don’t do what I did.  Your ranking means squat other than how much time you put into this game.  If you need a metric to measure yourself by, go by a simple win percentage count and aim for the golden number of 75%.

Mix Up Your Team

Every now and then, I still have this problem: you build a team with one Pokémon in mind, and by the time you flesh out the team, it looks like something you already built.  Even if the previous team was successful, this is a bad thing.  It means your team has become so ingrained in your playstyle that if someone ends up counterteaming you, they’re actually counterstyling you.  This is really, really bad.  However, it’s a problem you can easily prevent or fix.  All you gotta do is force yourself to use a different team style.

You can even incorporate it into your practice schedule!  Just say to yourself something like “okay… on Tuesday and Wednesday, I’m gonna use a Trick Room team” or “Today I’m not going to run Heatran or Tyranitar”.  Even if you know in advance that you won’t be keeping the team, it still provides valuable experience in that you know how that team variety behaves when used by an opponent.  It also forces you to use Pokémon you don’t normally use, giving you good exposure which grants you more options during teambuilding.  If you do end up going back to a tried and true favorite, you’re still that much better for becoming more knowledgeable about the game.

Change the Way You Think About Accuracy

I only very recently became a fan of Rotom-Wash, and by recently, I mean the evening before I wrote this article.  I actually ran Rotom-Wash on my Nationals 2012 team where it was less than impressive for one reason only: Hydro Pump, or dare I say, Hydro Miss.  Hydro Pump ended up missing in two crucial moments where it definitely cost me one match and probably cost me the other.

What I didn’t realize was that Rotom-Wash wasn’t the problem.  I was the problem.  My mentality about low accuracy moves was entirely wrong, and so was my avoidance of low accuracy moves after this event.  Am I saying we should all run Fire Blast over Flamethrower?  Heck no! More accuracy is always a good thing.

Here’s how my mentality was wrong: I banked on Hydro Pump as a primary response move.  In one of the matches I lost, Hydro Pump was my most reliable option for chunking Tyranitar.  When it missed, it was pretty much good game.  I think very differently now about moves like Hydro Pump.  Where I relied on Hydro Pump before, I now use the rest of my team to more reliably get the KO’s that Hydro Pump would get.  For things like Tyranitar, this isn’t a particularly difficult task.  Of course, there are times where your safe options will fail, and that’s when you resort to the high risk/high reward Hydro Pump to pull out the match in the end.  In other words, use the low accuracy move if you get backed into a corner. Using a low accuracy move before that is what will back you into the corner in the first place. Simple, right?

You should also consider the event you’re playing in when using low accuracy moves.  Single elimination events are thankfully becoming extinct, but the rise of WiFi tournaments deserves some consideration.  In a WiFi tournament, wins are quantified in terms of single games.  This means it’s a lot easier to receive a loss from a single miss.  However in a best of 3 event such as a top cut or all of 2012 Worlds, including the Last Chance Qualifier, moves like Power Whip and Hydro Pump become much more viable.  Because a win is defined in terms of 3 games, a single miss isn’t nearly as disastrous.  In short, in high stakes single matches, you should probably avoid using lower accuracy moves except as a last minute out as I described earlier.

Work With Others, but Be Independent

This partially ties in with the mixing up your team section, but talk with others and exchange ideas.  Often, you’ll receive an idea you’d never have thought of on your own, giving you a new weapon to play with.  You also can get refinements to your own ideas so you can use them at the highest possible level.  Whether you’re proposing or listening to an idea, never outright reject something without testing it first.  If you’re looking for people to bounce ideas off of, join our friendly IRC community here at Nugget Bridge!

Although you should work with others, always think for yourself.  It’s possible that someone might just give you an idea that’s just garbage.  In particular, I see this happen with EV spreads a lot.  An EV spread will just be given with no justification and upon checking the calculations, I often find these random EV spreads don’t actually accomplish anything.  Always demand justification for an idea before you accept or reject anything.  You can only use someone else’s idea properly once you fully understand it.

One point I want to address is a more recent “problem” that I’ve had since Nugget Bridge opened up. When I was in a teambuilding rut, I’d go into the Reports section and read team reports and see if anything jumped out at me.  I generally only took one Pokémon for a team of mine, and I almost always personalized it with my own EV spread and similar.  Despite this, the Pokémon I’d take would usually fall flat because it wasn’t in its original team.  This means for all of you running Wolfe’s Heatran verbatim, you should reconsider why you’re running it, because I almost guarantee you aren’t using the most optimal set for your team.  Despite this, you can still learn a lot from the top level players.  If it’s not about specific Pokémon, you can see how they would react in certain situations or their philosophies about team building.  The trick is to learn from these players to hone your own skills, not to become an inferior clone of the original.

No Johns

Every high player thinks. “It’s all about me.”  This sounds self-centered, but it really isn’t.  In this context, it means these players have accepted full responsibility for their actions and results.  They don’t blame others, hax or what they had for breakfast.  If they finish poorly, they know it was because of something they did.  Maybe they didn’t think through a team properly or made a poor decision or two during battle.  In terms of hax, maybe they didn’t do everything they could to mitigate it.

Having an attitude like this stops the self-defeating “I’m a victim of fate” mentality that seems to afflict players on the lower levels.  You have to accept that at the root of everything that happens is you.  I’m a bit upset I have to say this coming off the heels of a WiFi tournament where we had formerly high level players decide it was okay to disconnect based on “hax” or simply getting outplayed.   It boils down to this: accept that you and you alone are the reason that games are won or lost.

Wrap Up

The very last thing I want for you to remember is the most important: “have fun”.  Pokémon ceases to be a game and becomes a job once you stop having fun.  Actually, some of the tips I’ve given above (particularly about the ladder and team mixups) are actually beneficial to anyone looking to keep this game fun.  Of course, winning is fun as well, and hopefully I’ve managed to supply you with tips general enough to apply to you and specific enough to actually help.

About the Author

is an avid lover of Jigglypuff and all things VGC. He also runs a youtube channel named "bearsfan092drums", which hosts a series of RNG abuse tutorials. He recently won the 2012 Philadelphia Fall Regional for VGC.

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