world championships event always brings a high level of excitement and grandeur,
but this year was particularly special. The USA's own Ray Rizzo made Pokemon
history when he took top prize in the masters league for the second year in a
row, a feat that's especially incredible given that the tournament was
restricted to Unova-only Pokemon this year. So what's the secret to his
success? Let's ask him!
Above: Rizzo celebrates his victory
GamesRadar: How does it feel to be the
first-ever consecutive two-time world Pokemon champion?
Ray Rizzo: It
feels great to be the first at accomplishing something so difficult. I put a
decent amount of time in these past two years so it feels good now that it’s
GR: Can you walk us through
your process for preparing for the VGCs? How did you decide on your team and how
to train each Pokemon?
had been playing a lot online for fun, just to get a feel for all of the new
Pokemon. However after Nationals I started playing more seriously. I found a
good core of 4 Pokemon (Gothitelle/Thundurus/Hydreigon/Conkeldurr), all with
unique movesets and stats that I felt countered the metagame well. I used my
last 2 Pokemon slots for Pokemon that helped to counter the last few popular
Pokemon the other 4 couldn’t.
Above: Gothitelle might seem like an odd choice for competitive play, but Ray Rizzo knows the benefit of surprising your opponent
GR: Did you have a particular
strategy overall when heading into the tournament?
wanted to use Pokemon that countered what was very popular at the European and
US National Tournaments. This included using multiple Pokemon with the move
Thunder Wave to slow down my opponents' faster Pokemon, and training my Pokemon
so they would have high HP and Defenses so they could live through many
GR: How did only being able to
use Unova Pokemon make the tournament different this year? Do you think the
relative newness of Black/White had an effect on how the competition shaped up?
able to use only Unova Pokemon changed the tournament a lot. Everyone started
on a level playing field and had to learn the ins and outs of all the new
Pokemon. The biggest change was that there were only a small number of Pokemon
that were useful in battle, and not many strong defensive Pokemon. When US
Regional Tournaments rolled around, I think everyone had already though of most
of the good strategies, since there weren’t a whole lot of good Pokemon to
GR: Did you see any strategies
from other players that surprised you?
of the strategies I went up against were exactly what I expected going into the
tournament. I only recall one of my opponents, my Top 8 opponent, who used
something unique. He had a very good Trick Room team which gave me my toughest
match that day.
GR: What was your favorite
moment from the tournament?
so many new people, as well as hanging out with so many old friends was my
favorite moment from the tournament.
Above: Brian Hough took the victory in the junior division this year too. To see videos for all the final match-ups, head to the official Pokemon VGC site
GR: As a competitive battler,
what are your thoughts on Pokemon Black/White as a game? What do you think
about the Unova Pokemon in general and how they fit in with the older Pokemon?
like the Pokemon Black and White games from a competitive standpoint. They
introduced a lot of cool new moves, items, and of course Pokemon. I think some
of the Unova Pokemon are very good and can compete with many of the older
Pokemon, but as a Pokemon fan from the very beginning of Red and Blue I can’t
help but like the older Pokemon the most.
GR: What advice would you give
to anyone who wants to challenge you to battle?
would say to not be afraid of using something non-standard if it helps to
counter a lot of the common Pokemon strategies. I’ve seen other people have
success using unexpected Pokemon as well.
Aug 31, 2011