Published on January 18th, 2013 | by Cybertron


How to Win a Regional Championship: Seven Tips by Cybertron

For me, the week before Regionals is always nerve-wracking and tense. After all, there’s a lot on the line: money, travel awards for Nationals, and most importantly, the Championship Points we all desperately need to get our World Championship Invitation. With only two Regionals left in the year, there’s not much room for error. Surprisingly, despite all the nerves I get pre-Regionals, I’ve still managed to keep my Top 4 streak alive, placing in the Top 4 of all six Regionals I’ve attended from 2008 on with a victory back in 2011. Similarly, my brother, Brendan Zheng, has placed in the Top 4 of all five Regionals he’s played in and has won the last four Regionals (and has won the most Regional Championships in VGC history). While Brendan’s streak only extends back to 2010, I’ve competed in a Regional in every metagame (other than 2009 due to the lottery) and in all three age divisions as well. Needless to say, Regionals happens to be our most consistent tournament. In preparation for this weekend’s tournament, I’ve decided to share some personal advice that has helped both my brother and I stay consistent and finish strong.

Whether you are a casual player attending just for fun, or a competitive player looking to prove your worth, I hope the following advice will help!

1. Use a Team you are Comfortable With

The most important thing about Regionals, in my opinion, is using a team you are most comfortable with. With so many Swiss rounds, you can only afford to lose one game and be guaranteed top cut. It’s also important to note that all Swiss rounds are best of 1. It’s generally not good to come unprepared and use a team you don’t have much experience with. The players on top are the players who have pretty much perfected their team and playstyle, and this is no coincidence. That’s not to say you can’t get away with a team you don’t have much experience with. However, if you’re torn between a team you’ve practiced with a ton of times and a team you just made… I’d say stick with the team you have experience with.

Remember, you will be playing multiple games with that team throughout the tournament. You will also face a ton of different people and teams. Some might not be the “standard” teams you are used to seeing. With a team you are more comfortable with, you’ll be able to adjust accordingly. Having experience with a team is also crucial if you make it into top cut because you can’t rely on the same strategy over and over again in a setting where multiple games are played — any smart player will adapt and create a strategy to beat you.

I always tend to lose confidence with my team before Regionals after losing in practice, but those teams have also always carried me to success. Don’t lose confidence with the teams you have most experience with!

Pro-tip: Know how to use your team inside and out, and have different modes to play with so you can adapt in a best 2 of 3 setting.

2. You Can Control Hax… to an Extent

No one likes getting haxed out of a tournament, especially not Regionals. I think one major factor that people fail to acknowledge, however, is the fact that there is some hax you can control as a player. The most important thing I want to point your attention to is low accuracy moves, such as Hydro Pump and Meteor Mash. While these are both very strong moves and were featured on Ray Rizzo’s winning 2012 World Championship team, you also have to remember that high-level tournaments like Worlds are all best 2 of 3 matches. This means you can afford to miss an attack or two and still win a set. There are a lot of people who don’t want to trade power for consistency (i.e. using Dragon Pulse instead of Draco Meteor), but it’s worth considering when you’re playing multiple best of 1 games throughout the day. There are a lot of things that can go wrong in Pokemon, and low accuracy moves are one of them.

Playing well in general can also save you from hax a lot of the times. Granted, there are always crucial misses, parafusion hits, and critical hits that immediately lose the game for you, but as you gain more experience with the game, you’ll come to find that there is normally a way to come out victorious if you play smart. During my first round at Philadelphia Regionals last year, my opponent used Discharge on me and paralyzed my Cresselia right off the bat. That Cresselia could not attack for the next three turns, and yet I still managed to come out with the win. A better example of coming back from a lot of hax is my match vs. TalkingLion in the last round of the same Regionals, which can be viewed here. I missed two important Icy Winds in the first few turns of the games alongside the critical hit he got in me late in the game, but a smart play towards the end saved me from a loss and allowed me to make it into top cut.

Pro-tip: Try to use high accuracy moves if possible, and play as smart as possible. Never give up or feel flustered until the game is actually over. There is almost always a win condition that exists.

3. Don’t Freak Out About the Attendance List

This is a piece of advice I still need to follow before a big tournament. What I mean with this is: don’t scare yourself by looking at the names of people attending your local Regional. Since I live in the North East, which is known for its brutal competition, I’ve never had an “easy” Regional. That hasn’t stopped me from doing well. You have to remember that ten good players attending your tournament is just that: ten good players. The chances of you running into more than two or three of them during Swiss is highly unlikely. We’ve seen a ton of unexpected champions with every set of Regionals, and those players clearly come in with the right mentality: just play the game to the best of your ability. They’ve also knocked down a ton of notable players along the way!

Pro-tip: Don’t be intimidated by all the good players attending your Regional… just play the game.

4. A Loss is a Loss… Don’t Be Bitter, and Move On!

No one likes losing in Pokemon, and no one likes losing because of insane luck factors. However, it’s also important to remember that you can afford one loss at Regionals! Whether you get haxed or just straight up outplayed, do NOT let it affect your play in the future rounds. A lot of players often get so upset after a loss that they can’t concentrate and stop playing well. Remember that one loss is just one loss… don’t lose your composure.

In addition to that, always show good sportsmanship after a match. While losing is never fun, it’s also important to remember that we’re all here to just have fun and play some high-level Pokemon at the end of the day. Don’t forget your opponent’s hand at the end of the game! Some people get very bitter about hax, and my piece of advice to you on dealing with those people is: just apologize to them. Although luck is obviously something we cannot control, some people cannot understand that and so it’s best to just apologize even though it was not in your control. And finally, remember that the game is over once it’s over! I find that one of the most irritating things at Pokemon tournaments is when people whine non-stop throughout the day after a rough loss. Suck it up and move onto the next round.

Pro-tip: You can afford to lose once in Swiss. Don’t let it affect the rest of your day. Always show sportsmanship after a match, and remember that a match is over once it’s over.

5. Energy + Zzzzz…

This one is pretty self explanatory, but make sure to keep your energy up throughout the day. After experiencing APEX 2013, I can say I never want to play Pokemon ever again with little sleep and energy. Drink lots of liquids throughout the day to keep your body functioning, and pack small snacks to eat throughout the day. Wolfe and I have a tendency to buy Subway sandwiches (BLTs are the best) to fuel the long hours of Pokemon. I don’t like eating a big meal during or before a tournament, but I love keeping my energy up throughout the day with small snacks. Remember to sleep the night before the tournament as well. I know I’m guilty of staying up late due to being too excited, but sleep deprivation can get to you later on in the tournament. The more well rested you are, the better you will play.

Pro-tip: Get a good night’s sleep before the tournament, and remember to eat and drink throughout the day.

6. Don’t Let the Pressure Get to You

There is always a ton of pressure throughout the entire day, but some of the most intense moments include the last round when two players are x-1 and are fighting for their top cut position or the semi-finals match, where the winner is guaranteed to walk out with $600 while the loser comes out with only points. I’ve been in a ton of those positions before, and as any good player will tell you, don’t treat that match any different from the rest of your games. The more nervous you are going into a match, the worse you’ll play. If you block out all the pressure and tension, I guarantee you will play a much better game. Nerves also result in unfortunate mistakes such as misclicking the wrong move or targeting the wrong Pokemon, and let me tell you, you do NOT want that to happen to you.

Pro-tip: Block out any pressure and treat a high-level match just like any other match.

7. Have Fun!

This is always the most cliche closer of an article, but it’s also something many Pokemon players need to be reminded. Like I said before, we’re all here to just play Pokemon and hang out with people who share the same interest as we do, so remember to not treat the game that seriously. No matter how you end up doing at the end of the day, you should be able to come out and say “Wow, I had a ton of fun today, and I’m glad I got to spend my time with good friends.”



On behalf of myself and Brendan, I’d like to wish you all good luck for this weekend’s tournament. There’s a lot of pressure on the line, and we’ll have a pretty clear picture of who will have a solid shot at locking their invitation for Worlds before Nationals, but let’s remember that it’s also one of the four official VGC tournaments left in the year for Americans. With that, best of luck to all your trainers out there, and remember to do your best and have no regrets!

About the Author

is a five time Worlds qualifier ('08, '11, '12, '13, '14), a three-time Regional Champion, and a two-time National Champion. Aaron also placed 3rd at the 2013 Pokemon World Championships. He is sponsored by CLASH Tournaments and aims to promote competitive VGC through his YouTube channel, CybertronProductions. Aaron is currently a senior at Trinity School NYC.

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