Published on November 23rd, 2015 | by tanzying


Memoirs of a World Champion: by 2015 World Champion SHADEviera

This is a translation of Shoma Honami (SHADEviera)’s recent blog post, chronicling his involvement with the Pokémon Video Game Championships from its start in 2009 to his recent crowning as Masters Division World Champion in 2015. Shoma is one of Japan’s most consistently strong players, excelling in various grassroots tournaments, qualifying for Japan Nationals for the past three years straight, and concluding his tour de force 2015 season, sweeping 1st place in the Japan Cup, Japan Nationals and the World Championships alike. We would like to thank him for permission to translate and publish this.

Note: Viera did not include the abilities of the Pokémon in any of the teams he published in this post

I am captivated by a game that goes by the name of Pokémon. A game that, unlike Go or Shogi, abounds with the element of chance. Praying that Heat Wave will hit both targets. Raging after being on the receiving end of hax. All that this game is, I truly enjoy.

The Road that Led Here

Greetings. My name is Viera. I’d like to retrace my tracks and pen a memoir. The moments of consternation, triumph, everything included.

VGC 2009

Mythical Pokémon/Ubers banned, No Team Preview, 4v4 Double Battles

Back when I was a high school student, I began to take an interest in competitive Pokémon battling due to the influence of a fellow member in my school club, and started to pick up the fundamentals. Liking the official rules, I jumped straight into Double Battles without playing any Singles. That was in the time of the so-called VGC09 rules. I’ll start off by introducing my first ever team.


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Infernape Close Combat Overheat Fake Out Encore Focus Sash Naive
Togekiss Air Slash Heat Wave Grass Knot Trick Choice Scarf Timid
Salamence Draco Meteor Fire Blast Hydro Pump Protect Life Orb Modest
Swampert Earthquake Ice Punch Curse Protect Rindo Berry Sassy

I realised how unbelievably weak Swampert was after crashing and burning with it.

As for the official tournaments, I started playing too late in the season and therefore did not participate in them. I basically just got all my information from online bulletin boards and enjoyed battles. Towards the end I started using a serious team copied from some well-known player.

VGC 2010

Mythical Pokémon banned, Up to 2 Ubers allowed, No Team Preview, 4v4 Double Battles

This was my first VGC10 team:


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Dialga Dragon Pulse Flamethrower Trick Room Protect Chople Berry Quiet
Ludicolo Hydro Pump Grass Knot Ice Beam Fake Out Life Orb Quiet
Giratina Dragon Pulse Will-o-Wisp Calm Mind Rest Chesto Berry Sassy
Machamp Dynamic Punch Fling Encore Protect Iron Ball Brave

The Machamp is a little wonky but the other three were probably quite all right.

At this time, I experienced my first official tournament – the tournament at Hyogo prefecture. This is the team I used:


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Giratina Shadow Force Dragon Claw Stone Edge Safeguard Choice Scarf Jolly
Infernape Close Combat Mach Punch Encore Protect Focus Sash Jolly
Palkia Spatial Rend Earth Power Thunder Protect Haban Berry Timid
Metagross Meteor Mash Hammer Arm Explosion Protect Sitrus Berry Adamant

I lost in the first round of the Top Cut to a Shedinja concealed in the back.

In spite of the defeat at the Prefectural qualifier, I continued to battle daily in preparation for the West Japan Last Chance Qualifier. This was also about the time I participated in my first grassroots tournament. I was quite confident back then, and did manage to achieve a decent result of 2nd place. The team I used became the basis of my LCQ team so I shall make a note of it as well.


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Palkia Dragon Pulse Earth Power Trick Room Protect Haban Berry Quiet
Hariyama Close Combat Rock Slide Fake Out Detect Flame Orb Brave
Giratina Dragon Pulse Will-o-Wisp Calm Mind Rest Chesto Berry Sassy
Metagross Meteor Mash Rock Slide Explosion Trick Choice Scarf Jolly

I lost in the 3rd round of the preliminary stage due to mishaps like double Protecting by mistake and failing, and Giratina getting taken down by a Critical Hit happening. I couldn’t have done anything about the crit on Giratina, but double Protecting because I wasn’t paying attention really laid my inexperience bare. I felt that the team was strong, however.

VGC 2012

Mythical Pokémon/Ubers banned, Team Preview, Bring-6-pick-4 Double battles

I started really racking up the wins around this time period. I had managed to build a very strong and polished team and was really confident for the WCS qualifiers. It featured a self-Swagger strategy with Metagross and Scrafty.


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Politoed Hydro Pump Ice Beam Perish Song Protect Water Gem Quiet
Kingdra Draco Meteor Hydro Pump Muddy Water Protect Life Orb Modest
Cresselia Psychic Swagger Helping Hand Trick Room Leftovers Sassy
Metagross Meteor Mash Rock Slide Earthquake Protect Lum Berry Adamant
Scrafty Drain Punch Crunch Fake Out Protect Persim Berry Adamant
Amoonguss Giga Drain Rage Powder Spore Protect Black Sludge Sassy

The number of competitors that would advance from the Japan Cup (the online qualifier tournament for Nationals) that year was not announced beforehand, something that would be inconceivable today. I presumed the top 32 or maybe even the top 64 would qualify, but when it was finally announced only SIX players got through. Caught unprepared at 29th, I was unable to participate in Japan Nationals.

VGC 2013

Same as the previous year with the addition of stuff like Landorus-Therian and Intimidate Scrafty

I devoted my energy to constant teambuilding, and would publish them after every grassroots or online tournament. However, this left me without a team to use just before the Japan Cup. The team I built in my panic is unbelievably rough around the edges but I’ll write about it anyway. I believe I never released this to anyone but close friends (the team was so weak that there was no point).


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Cresselia Ice Beam Swagger Helping Hand Trick Room *forgotten* Sassy
Metagross Meteor Mash Zen Headbutt Earthquake Protect Lum Berry Adamant
Conkeldurr Hammer Arm Mach Punch Ice Punch Detect Life Orb Brave
Hydreigon Draco Meteor Dark Pulse Flamethrower Protect Focus Sash Modest
Thundurus-I Thunderbolt Thunder Wave Swagger *forgotten* *forgotten* Calm
Landorus-T Earthquake Rock Slide *forgotten* *forgotten* *forgotten* *forgotten*

I can’t remember a lot of this, probably because there was no point in remembering.

There was no upper limit on the number of battle for the Japan Cup this year, so you could go on for as long as you liked. Although my team was quite weak and had a lot of holes, through sheer persistence alone I managed to grind out an acceptable rating. This got me a 12th place finish and an invite to Nationals (from this year onwards the top 32 players qualified). After securing my spot in Nationals, in the run up to the real deal I started work on Eruption Heatran Switch, the purported strongest team archetype, and battled like crazy. However, I did not managed to perfect it in time for Nationals. Here was what I used:


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Cresselia Ice Beam Sunny Day Helping Hand Trick Room Lum Berry Sassy
Landorus-T Earthquake Stone Edge U-turn Protect Focus Sash Adamant
Heatran Eruption Heat Wave Earth Power Protect Iron Ball Quiet
Conkeldurr Drain Punch Mach Punch Ice Punch Detect Life Orb Brave
Thundurus-T Thunderbolt Discharge HP Ice Grass Knot Choice Specs Calm
Latios Draco Meteor HP Fire Safeguard Trick Choice Scarf Timid

At the tournament, I advanced from the preliminary stage by the skin of my teeth with 2 wins and 1 loss, but got tragically ripped to shreds by my opponent Haruto’s Jellicent Rain team in the first round of Top Cut. The fact that I was still a scrub in spite of being Top 8 in Japan was relentlessly hammered into me, but I had faith that I was truly strong and would be able to get results in the future, and was thus able to deal with it (in the world of Pokémon, there are times where having a strong spirit is necessary for survival). In any case, even if I had beaten Haruto, I would have met this player MAS in the semifinals (he lost to Jellicent too, and when I tried battling him after Nationals I lost to him too. He was using Rain as well.

Reflecting on my team, I should have considered using Thundurus-I instead of Thundurus-T. If I had been using it, I would have been able to lead Thundurus-I Landorus-T against Haruto, and Incarnate would have been preferable against MAS as well. The champion Gebebo used Eruption Heatran Switch with a Thundurus-I in it, and even spectacularly achieved 2nd place at Worlds with the same team. Up to this day, I really respect Gebebo for being able to perfect a clearly stronger team that mine.

VGC 2014

Things like Togekiss and Thundurus banned in addition to the usual banned Mythical and Uber Pokémon, Team Preview, Bring-6-pick-4 Double battles

Even in this ruleset, I started off on the right foot, winning a 120 man grassroots tournament. I further earned an invitation to the finals of the Battle Road Gloria national tournament circuit, and placed in the top 8 there. As for the official tournaments, I began working on my favourite team before Japan Cup and got through it, placing 11th, doing well up until then. However, even though I had worked on the team for a long time, I was still unable to decide on the team’s last Pokémon all the way up until the day of Nationals itself. Nevertheless, I had confidence in the team and that I was the strongest in Japan, but proceeded to crash out of the preliminaries with 1 win and 2 losses. Looking back, I should have used Salamence over Rotom-W as the last Pokémon, and one of my moves could have been replaced with something better. In the end, I didn’t display the calibre befitting of the number one player in Japan.

Thinking that it was better to do the things I could still do while I was a student, I travelled to and participated in the Last Chance Qualifiers for the World Championships, but was knocked out in the fourth round by my rival and fellow Japanese competitor Yuuichi in an intense bout with 1 win and 2 losses. Yuuichi then went on to win a few more rounds and managed to qualify for Worlds.

At Worlds, Gebebo and Yuuichi were both using a Charizard team built around Tailwind Aerodactyl. I was unsure whether I should use a similar team up until right before, as it was clearly strong. However, I noticed this late, and was uncomfortable changing my team on such short notice, so I didn’t use it. Seeing Gebebo and Yuuichi managing to perfect their teams and get results with them made me regret, however.

I’ll write about the team I used during the LCQ, I guess. This team was rebuilt after Nationals ended.


Pokémon Move 1 Move 2 Move 3 Move 4 Held Item Nature
Kangaskhan Return Sucker Punch Power-up Punch Protect Kangaskhanite Jolly
Tyranitar Rock Slide Earthquake Dragon Dance Protect Tyranitarite Jolly
Salamence Draco Meteor Fire Blast Brick Break Protect Life Orb Naive
Zapdos Thunderbolt Volt Switch HP Ice Thunder Wave Choice Scarf Modest
Aegislash Shadow Ball Shadow Sneak Sacred Sword King’s Shield Focus Sash Naive
Amoonguss Energy Ball Rage Powder Spore Protect Rocky Helmet Relaxed

VGC 2014 was really fun. Thank you Kalos Doubles.

VGC 2015

Mythical Pokémon/Ubers banned, Team Preview, Bring-6-pick-4 Double battles

Japanese Circuit

I was pretty sure that I was by far the strongest from the start of this ORAS National Dex doubles ruleset (I’m a confident man). Surpassing a rating of 1800 on both my cartridges, I took first place and qualified for my third Nationals. However, it was kind of depressing as past Nationals had been nothing but trauma for me. The feeling of losing at Nationals is a really awful feeling that is hard to put into words.

Anyway, going into Nationals this time I was pretty much in a “meh, whatever” state of mind, but my team was unmistakably strong, and I won my first two matches in the preliminary Round Robin stage with 4 Pokémon remaining in both battles (translator’s note: Japan Nationals has a system where if the top two players in a Round Robin group have the same amount of wins and losses, the cumulative number of remaining Pokémon the players finished their battles with is used as a tiebreaker to determine who advances). This allowed me to take my time and play safely and guarantee that I would advance to the Top Cut. I felt that if I made it to Top Cut, I would probably win the entire thing, and lo and behold win I did. This was a very good memory for me, but I wanted even better ones at Worlds, so I plunged back into teambuilding deeper than before.

At Worlds

Between Nationals and Worlds, there were various changes in the metagame such as an increase in Gardevoir teams with Scrafty in them, but in the end my team barely changed from Nationals to Worlds.

Nationals team: cresseliakangaskhan-megalandorus-therianheatranamoongusscharizard-mega-y
Worlds team: cresseliakangaskhan-megalandorus-therianheatranamoongussthundurus

After getting done with finding a job, I departed on my Worlds trip with the dreary and mundane things taken care of.

This was the official itinerary for the trip:

1st Day: Arrive at the hotel in the evening. Nothing particularly important scheduled
2nd Day: Nothing besides a short orientation
3rd Day: The day of the final qualifiers. The so-called Worlds Day 1
4th Day: Worlds proper. Swiss Rounds with a Top Cut of 8, followed by the Top 8 and Semifinal rounds. The so-called Worlds Day 2
5th Day: Finals for all the age divisions. The so-called Worlds Day 3
6th Day: Nothing particularly important scheduled. Sightseeing possible
7th Day: Return flight at noon

That was roughly how it went. Having a ton of free time was fantastic.

It is going to be difficult if I write about all the non-battle related things such as socialising and whatnot here, so I may do it in another article. However, I should probably share at least one tragic incident. On the night I arrived, I bought some salad and bottled soda at the supermarket and went back to my room, only to discover I had no chopsticks or fork or anything similar, and even worse, no way to open the soda bottle. I ended up eating the salad with my hand and prying the bottle cap off with my teeth in despair.

Day 1

I had already qualified for Day 2 and had no battles, so I psyched myself up with the overseas variations of Red Bull and Monster Energy. The Red Bull Summer Edition sold overseas tastes stronger than those sold in Japan, it’s delicious and I highly recommend it. As for the Monster Energy versions you can only get overseas I recommend Ultra Red and Blue.

Day 2

This was it, the day where everything but the Finals would be decided. I was bursting with anticipation.

There were 77 participants.

Round 1: Tobias Koschitzki (14th) – W W
WIN. I wanted to win the first round at all costs.

Round 2: Shun Fujimoto (27th) – W W

Round 3: Alberto Gini (19th) – W W

Round 4: Yosuke Isagi (3rd) – L W L

Round 5: Nikolai Zielinski (20th) – W L W
WIN. *smiley face*

Round 6: Daiki Moriyama (5th) – L L
LOSE. *serious face*

Round 7: Sejun Park (31st) – W W
Meeting last year’s World Champion of all people in the last round of Swiss. However, *smiley face*


And with these results, I advanced into the Top Cut as 6th seed. Congratulations! (to my past self.) I maintained my focus and managed to enjoy the battles. Next up were the Top Cut matches.

Top 8: Daiki Moriyama (5th) – W W
I faced him in Swiss Round 6 and got wrecked so bad, and thus wanted to cry when I saw myself matched up with him again. Winning game 1 made me feel much better though. In game 2 I haxed him with a burn and won thanks to it. Good job, Heatran.

Semifinal: Naohito Mizobuchi (4th) – W W
This round was an intense bout of offensive and defensive manoeuvres. Having the matchup advantage was huge, and I coasted to victory. Landorus did an amazing amount of work this set.

And with that, the best evening ever began. All the players gathered in the open gaming room to socialise. My good friend, World Champion for three years straight Ray Rizzo, told me that the secret to winning was to have a drink, so I did so later in the night.

Day 3

Final: Hideyuki Taida (2nd) – W L W
Both of us ended up bringing the same 4 Pokémon for every single battle. I brought Heatran, Landorus, Kangaskhan and Thundurus while BIDC brought Kangaskhan, Aegislash, Volcarona and Landorus. My Kangaskhan was faster than all of his Pokémon besides his Landorus, and my Thundurus and Landorus were faster than all of his Pokémon. My Landorus being able to move first and fire off Rock Slides was quite important. With Kangaskhan being a Pokémon that hits twice, the faster Kangaskhan in a mirror match can also gain an advantage through critical hits. The most problematic of my opponent’s Pokémon was his Landorus.


It’s pretty well known by this point, but with that, I won the World Championships. For someone who strove so hard believing that he could be the most powerful trainer in the world, this was very significant to me. What a beautiful feeling it was…

This is the path that has taken me here. A journey full of emotions, it truly has been.

Official Tournament Results

Rules Event Result No. of Participants
VGC10 Hyogo Prefectural Top 64 ~500
VGC10 West Japan LCQ Lost in R3 ?
VGC12 Japan Cup 29th 10237
VGC13 Japan Cup 12th 5162
VGC13 Japan Nationals Top 8 32
VGC14 Japan Cup 11th 9373
VGC14 Japan Nationals Didn’t make Top Cut 32
VCG15 Japan Cup 1st 15531
VGC15 Japan Nationals 1st 32
VGC15 World Championships 1st 77

2015 World Champion Team

Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 180 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 60 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Return
– Low Kick
– Sucker Punch
– Fake Out
Heatran @ Shuca Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 4 Spe
Modest Nature
– Heat Wave
– Earth Power
– Substitute
– Protect
Thundurus @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpD / 4 Spe
Timid Nature
– Thunderbolt
– Thunder Wave
– Swagger
– Protect
Landorus-Therian @ Assault Vest
EVs: 244 Atk / 12 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Earthquake
– Superpower
– Knock Off
– Rock Slide
Cresselia @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
Quiet Nature
IVs: 18 Spe
– Psychic
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
– Protect
Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Energy Ball
– Spore
– Rage Powder
– Sunny Day

I was absolutely sure that I should have used Kangaskhan, and it ended up being the right call. In the Best-of-3 environment of Worlds, I was confident that these six Pokémon were the ones that I could handle the best. I believe I managed to make acceptable plays in every turn of every match at Worlds. Building a team of strong Pokémon gives you a lot of options when playing.

World Championships Japanese Stream Archived Footage

  • Day 1: I was given the chance to commentate at some points
  • Day 2: I was busy playing in the tournament on this day
  • Day 3: My Finals match with BIDC with Kosuke, Sharon and Tony on commentary.

Some Thoughts About Tournament Formats

The World Championships utilises a best of 3 battles format, which I feel is great. Being taken by surprise at the start doesn’t end you immediately, and by and large the result of the entire round is something you can come to terms with. Adapting, changing leads and making different plays also makes the game more intense. I personally also win more in Best-of-3 (36 wins and 5 losses in practice). The fact that Japan plays only best-of-1 while foreign players all play best-of-3 results in a disparity of experience at Worlds, I believe. Us Japanese players managed to perform well this year, so all’s well that ends well, but going forward I’d really like to see Japanese tournaments introduce best-of-3 matches as well.

My Future Plans

I may go into streaming and uploading videos. In fact, there are various things I’d like to try my hand at. I’m currently looking for interested people to collaborate with. Also, I have my invite to next year’s Worlds already and do not need to participate in the Japanese qualifiers, so it would be cool if they gave me opportunities to do things like commentate at Nationals! Finally, I’m going to work hard and try to defend my Championship, so please support me. Just watch, I’m going to become a pro Pokémon player!

Final Words

I’m going to win and win and continue winning. Pokémon is forever.

Photo Credit: Doug M.

About the Author

is a VGC player hailing from the tropical island of Singapore. Previously involved mostly in translating Japanese VGC blog articles for the rest of the world, organising official VGC events and friendlies with other countries for Singapore has come to be his primary role.

21 Responses to Memoirs of a World Champion: by 2015 World Champion SHADEviera

  1. TheMinimizer says:

    Surprised to see that all the spreads ‘cept Kang’s are pretty much 252/252. Anyways, grats on putting Japan back on top, Shoma!

  2. woopahking says:


  3. tlyee61 says:

    really love the article based on how much history is in here
    we need more on the metas before NB was established :D

  4. freezehaxVGC says:

    Good job Shoma. You have my immense respect

  5. BattleArena says:

    I have always said, the most successful teams are popular pokemon with a “twist”. Great Job. I look forward to watching you defend your title in san francisco 2016.

  6. LasermanZ1 says:

    Pokemon is forever. Well said World Champion. I also look forward to your future battles. Congratulations.

  7. Kasoman says:

    Love the beginning quote!

  8. R Inanimate says:

    Congrats to SHADEViera, once again for becoming the World Champion, and Worlds Top Trainer.
    Thanks for writing, and thanks to Tanzying for the translation.
    I enjoyed reading through the history of playing through the formats of previous years. I felt that it conveyed a feeling of confidence, an acknowledgement that there’s a lot of variability in Pokemon, and the strive to improve yourself and to become Top Trainier.
    See you in San Francisco!

  9. 000aj says:

    I have to say that it really amuses me that everyone is always trying to create the perfect spreads, but then the world champion just has “basic” EV spreads.
    Either way, great report and congrats on your victory.

  10. ThunderPunch says:

    I read a variation of this a while ago. Congratulations once more Shoma, and thank you Tanzing for a proper translation!

  11. Acierknight says:

    did anyone nothing Sunny Day Amoonguss? No…?

  12. TwiddleDee says:

    I’m going to win and win and continue winning. Pokémon is forever.

    Spoken like a true champion. Glad to see your perseverance paid off!

  13. Therazer456 says:

    Serious congratulations to you shoma. The report is really interesting concerning past metas and the present. I look forward to watching you defend your title in san Francisco. Also thanks to tanzying for translating this.

  14. SurpirseScarfer says:

    Congrats Shoma, very nice team report.
    Interesting how 5/6 spreads are pretty much 252/252.

  15. thewildvegetable says:

    Really wish he explained his spread or move choice

  16. freezehaxVGC says:

    Really wish he explained his spread or move choice

    keep in mind he didn’t originally write this to put in NB, but as a thing on his personal blog. This is just a translation

  17. keep in mind he didn’t originally write this to put in NB, but as a thing on his personal blog. This is just a translation

    I’m aware, its just a tad disappointing.  I would have loved to hear his reasoning for sunny day amoonguss

  18. Macca says:

    I had a hundred sleepless night because of that Kanga. What is that spread supposed to do? I’m talking about that speed. What are 118 -> 128 speed supposed to do?

  19. Gentlefish says:

    I’m aware, its just a tad disappointing.  I would have loved to hear his reasoning for sunny day amoonguss

    He was probably just looking to avoid getting swept by rain (or sand, for that matter) and boost his Heatran.

  20. SublimeInterface says:

    Love the history lesson in the beginning, would love to see mores stuff like that and huys 2010 article posted more on NB. Nice team and congrats on winning worlds

  21. Kirlion85 says:

    Congratulation Shoma, you achieved something that not many people has achieved… but..
    This was the most boring world championship ever… I know that they made some great plays, but seriously? 8 Kanga, landorus, thundurus, cresselia, heatran and sylveon in world’s top 8?? That’s some boring stuff…

    Am I the only one who is hoping for a mega Kangaskhan ban in vgc 16? Probably yes..

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