Do you remember those little ol’ things called Gym Leader Challenges? Yeah, we still have them. Not at the level that we used to, though. At one time, the Gym Leaders were trying to see how many challenges they could fit into one league session. Over the last few months, if we field 1 per meeting, that has been a busy day for the Gym Leaders. So what’s different? Not that much at the Gym. However, over the last year, as Play!Pokemon has expanded the number of events available across the country, the down-time between events has shrunk drastically. It seems that League Challenges, City Championships and the big events (States/Regionals) take place just weeks apart. That, coupled with the advent of the new league format, has really put the brakes on Gym Leader Challenges. Needless to say, the Gym Leaders experienced a mild sensory overload as they fielded two VG Challenges at once today after the League Challenge.
First up was Nick K, a trainer at the Gym who mostly focuses on the VG rather than the TCG. To be honest, as much as Nick knows about the video games, we are surprised that he has not come after the Gym Leaders before. Nick brought a team centered around Garchomp, Greninja, Mega Swampert and Primal Kyogre to take on Gym Leader Noah and his Dragon-type gym team. After the 1st game of the best 2 of 3 match was complete, it appeared that Nick would easily walk away with a gym badge. Nick jumped out to a quick lead, taking KO’s on the Gym Leader’s own Garchomp and Mega Rayquaza before either player was even comfortable in the seats. If it’s possible to get caught with yer pants down in a seated VG match, that’s pretty much what happened to Noah next. The Gym Leader used “Protect” on his Choice Scarf-equipped Kyurem, forgetting that he no longer had a switch in to get him out of the move “Protect”. Editor’s note: for those of you not familiar with the VG, all of the “Choice” items boost various stats (speed, attack, special attack), depending on which one you use, at the cost of being locked into 1 move (whichever one you use 1st). The only way to reset the lock is to switch your pokemon out of battle and then return it later. The mistake locked Noah’s most powerful attacker into “Protect” for the rest of the match. The result was Nick stomping out the rest of the Gym Leader’s team en route to an easy win.
Noah flipped the script in game 2, sweeping Nick’s team with his opening duo of Mega Rayquaza and Garchomp, only losing the “Ray” to self-damage from “Life Orb” at the end of the game. With 2 games that went in completely opposite directions, we did not know what to expect in the 3rd and deciding game. The VG has many facets to it, but one of the true player skills is out-predicting your opponent. Gym Leader Noah made a call to open the 3rd game that would decide the match. Noah picked up on the prevalence of physical attackers on Nick’s team, so he led game 3 with Mega Salamence, getting an “Intimidate” (attack stat drop) on Nick’s opening set of Garchomp and Swampert, allowing Noah to take the initiative from Nick. His opening pair took 3 KO’s before Nick could dispatch the Salamence. Noah sealed the win with a final KO of Nick’s Garchomp. It was a noble effort that just fell a little short for Nick. We’re sure he make some adjustments and come back soon.
As that match was wrapping up, Gym Leader Marthe had to blow the dust off her DS and take on a challenge for the Lightning-type VG gym badge. Ridge R, who had just claimed 2nd place in the TCG League Challenge, vied for his 1st badge at the Gym. Ridge brought an interesting set to the match, one that did not seem to have an overwhelming advantage on a mono-lightning team… except for Primal Groudon. In the right hands, Groudon alone can spell disaster for almost all things Lightning. The Continent Pokemon was escorted by Ridge’s Steelix, Rayquaza, Dragalge, Ferrothorn and Swampert. Despite misses on 2 opening “Heat Wave” attacks from Gym Leader Marthe’s Zapdos, she was able to toast Ridge’s Ferrothorn and Steelix without much trouble, leaving her in a pretty good position for the rest of game 1. However, once Groudon hit the field, things shifted quickly. Knowing that her move pool to use on Groudon was limited, Gym Leader Marthe began double attacking it. Ridge partnered it with his Mega Rayquaza, which doubled the pressure on the Gym Leader. Down 2 pokemon to the gym leader, Ridge systematically took out her Lanturn, Zapdos and then her Thundurus. However, in that time, Marthe was able to chip away at Groudon enough to knock it out. With both players down to 1 pokemon, speed looked to be the deciding factor in game 1. Advantage Ridge… as his Rayquaza out-sped Marthe’s Eelektross. Ridge took the last KO with his Rayquaza that was barely holding on with its last few hit points. It literally doesn’t get any closer than that opening game.
Ridge entered game 2 fully aware of the advantage Marthe had over his Steel-types and made the necessary adjustments. Ridge opened game 2 with Mega Swampert and Dragalge. This game swung back and forth like a tennis match. Despite missing an opening “Blizzard” attack, Ridge KO’d Zapdos, followed by Marthe taking a return KO on Mega Swampert and then Dragalge. Ridge responded by taking out Marthe’s Electivire with his Groudon, then lost the Groudon to combo attacks from Marthe’s Eelektross and Thundurus. Ridge finished off her Eel his Rayquaza, which he could not mega-evolve, as he had already done so with his Swampert. Maybe some of the dust for the gym leader’s DS got in her eyes, as down to Ridge’s Rayquaza vs her Thundurus, Gym Leader Marthe mistakenly assumed that “Delta Stream” (M Ray’s ability that negates “super-effective” attacks on flying pokemon) was up. A “Thunderbolt” from the leader would have forced a game 3. However, Ridge survived an attack and then KO’d Marthe’s Thundurus for the game and the match!
The VG victory is earns Ridge his 1st badge at the Fincastle Gym. He battled his way through a pretty intense VG battle in the same fashion that he always does… with a smile on his face. Ridge is the fifth trainer to win a VG badge at the Gym. We look forward to more challenges from him soon, as we know he will bring some interesting strategies to the table. Great job, Ridge!
To all the other trainers at the Gym… don’t forget about the Gym Leader challenges! Whether you play the VG or the TCG, we are always ready for a good challenge. We’ll post some details in a day or 2 about our upcoming schedule over the next 2 weeks, as we will be at the National Championships. Check back soon… see you at the Gym!
VG Gym Badges Earned (aka, The Wall of Fame v2.0):
- Eric A – Fire, Dragon, Lightning, Darkness, Steel, Water, Psychic, Fighting, Grass
- Hunter H – Lightning, Grass, Water, Fire
- Chad B – Psychic
- Jaelynn L – Psychic
- Ridge R – Lightning