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Strategy Guide for Tournament Play

Last updated March 25, 2022

Whether you’re competing in the Pokemon GO Championship Series or studying for your next Silph Arena cup, Pokemon GO tournament play brings a wide array of strategies and decisions to the table. This article covers the rules of “show 6, pick 3” format, team building strategies, and scenarios to think about as your tournament unfolds. In addition, you’ll find advice from veteran tournament players to help you on our journey to be the very best. Huge thanks for their contributions!

This article references examples which include meta relevant Pokemon at the time of writing, but the principles and strategies discussed here can apply to any future tournament.

Let’s get started!

Jump to a section:

  1. About Tournament Play
  2. Tournament Team Building
  3. Before the Match
  4. Pick Strategies
  5. After the Match

About Tournament Play

Tournament rules vary between formats, but most of them share the same general “show 6, pick 3” ruleset. In other words, you enter a tournament with a roster of 6 Pokemon and pick 3 of those Pokemon each time you battle an opponent. Most tournaments feature best-of-three rounds to determine a victor and oftentimes you cannot change your Pokemon's moves during the tournament, but be sure to read the rules of your specific tournament before you compete.

Unlike GO Battle League where you have no knowledge about your opponent’s team, tournament play gives you a chance to evaluate your opponent’s roster of 6 before you pick 3 to do battle. Different strategies can emerge depending on which play patterns you or your opponent show, and which predictions you make.

Tournament Etiquette

Please show respect toward your fellow competitors, and toward the tournament organizers and referees who are volunteering their time for the event! Good sportsmanship helps build the community and encourages future tournaments.

I really enjoy the show 6 pick 3 tournament format because it involves more strategy and less luck than a blind 3 format. There are some games in GO Battle League that you cannot realistically win based on team composition. However in this format, you can do your best to curb that. One way to do so is bringing a balanced team of 3 that covers your opponents lineup, so even if you lose the lead matchup, you can bring two Pokémon in the back that support that lead mon. 

Playing on the big stage is also something that will be new to a lot of us! I’ve been extremely nervous myself when tested in big tournament finals, and playing in the Silph World Championships. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s to trust yourself. Go in with a positive mindset and do your best. If you lose, that’s the worst that happens! And as I like to say on my channels, “There are worse things in the world than losing a game of Pokémon GO PvP”.

Tournament Team Building

Making your roster of 6 Pokemon for tournament play involves different considerations than making a team of 3 for GO Battle League. Below are strategies and concepts to think about as you put your squad together.

Utilizing Team Cores

"Show 6, Pick 3" is a very different kettle-of-fish to the "Blind 3" format of GBL.

Generally speaking, there's less of an elements of surprise since you can see your opponent's team of six, which means you can make more calculated decisions as to what 3 Pokémon you bring, from your selected six.

Things to consider are having a line of 3 Pokémon that can cover each other's weaknesses. Two of those Pokémon will form what's called a "core", where these 2 Pokémon cover each other's weaknesses really well.

The third Pokémon can often be something that protects the core from the rare Pokémon that beat both members of a core (often this rare Pokémon is referred to as a "corebreaker").

As Adelli0n mentions, a core is a pair of Pokemon who cover each other extremely well and have few shared counters. One example includes Swampert + Skarmory; Swampert beats the Steel types that counter Skarmory, and Skarmory beats the Grass types that counter Swampert. If you haven’t yet, check out PolymersUp’s article on cores and general team building concepts!

Choosing a strong, familiar core is a great way to start building your roster. With a full 6 Pokemon at your disposal, you can build to cover your potential core breakers in case you run into them.

Another solid strategy is to build your team with not one, but two strong cores. This can disguise your potential picks in battle and give you flexibility against the variety of teams you may face. As we’ll cover below, cores aren’t the only team building concept that benefit from redundancy.

Building Your Team with Redundancy

A strong tournament team should have balance and variety to answer the meta’s most popular threats. However, it’s often not enough to have just one answer. Look to have at least two answers to the top meta Pokemon you expect to encounter. This will give you more flexibility when you pick your 3 to battle and make you less predictable.

As an example, let’s say your opponent has Galarian Stunfisk on their roster and your Medicham is the only Pokemon that can challenge it. This pressures you to bring Medicham in all of your battles so their Galarian Stunfisk doesn’t run through your team. If your roster includes multiple answers, such as an Azumarill or your own Galarian Stunfisk, you’ll have more choices when it comes time to battle.

If you enjoy playing archetypical “safe swaps” like Sableye or Pelipper, it can benefit to pack multiple safe swap options on your roster. For example, if Sableye is the only safe swap on your roster, your opponent may be able to predict your strategy and bring their Alolan Ninetales to hard counter you. By the same token, if your opponent’s roster makes your favorite safe swap no longer safe, having a backup can keep a wrench out of your battle plans.

I usually start my teambuilding for a meta by searching for a Mon that suits my playstyle. I love to play offensive with fast charges and overall neutral match ups in the meta. For example, a Politoed would suit that requirement. For the second pick, I think about the weaknesses the Mon I picked has and find a good core (a Mon that covers Politoed’s weaknesses) for my first Mon. The remainder of the team gets filled with a solid Tank who can soak energy of opposing mon without using my shields, a Mon that covers a role where I am lacking a counter (maybe a Steel type for flyers, or Hypno for fighters etc.). For the last 2 spots I just go over the meta and my threats on PvPoke to search for holes my team currently doesn't cover greatly.

Running Unbalanced Teams

It’s common to run multiple Pokemon of the same type on a GO Battle League team. We’ve talked about redundancy when it comes to tournament teams, but this concept can be taken further with an unbalanced team building strategy.

An unbalanced roster plays mind games with your opponent. For example, let’s say your roster has three Flying types (Skarmory, Altaria, Pelipper). When it comes time to battle, will you bring more than one Flying type? What if you bring none of them, or all three?

Overloading your roster this way pressures your opponent to predict correctly and baits them into leading certain Pokemon. A roster with three Flying types might draw out Galarian Stunfisk or Walrein leads—but your Medicham lead is ready to mop them up!

This strategy takes advantage of traditional balanced team building. Even if your opponent matches their Galarian Stunfisk against one of your Flying types, you have overloaded your team with more than they can cover. This strategy requires good prediction skills so you can know the right time to bait or go all in.

You need to also consider Pokémon that can flip certain matches against an opponent's Pokémon, if you are the first to switch out (and thus, gain an energy lead if your opponent isn't quick to react). This is an example of a safe-swap and it's important to have at least one in your team of six; a good safe-swap has win conditions or can take a shield advantage if it loses a matchup.

The final thing to consider is the order. Do you run tactical lines like Dual Core + Pivot (where your safe-swap is a pivot to try and realign your core into more favourable matchups) or do you go with ABB to lure out a counter to B, thus allowing the 2nd B in the back to sweep.

These are all thoughts you should consider when building a team of six that can effectively offer such options.

And of course, always check you've not got a common weakness across your team of six, by checking none other than PvPoké's Team Builder function! :)

Creating Bench Pressure

In GO Battle League, polarizing Pokemon like Bastiodon or Charm users can be successful because your opponent can’t see them coming, and over the course of dozens or hundreds of battles, your victories might outnumber the occasional hard losses. In tournament play, many of those advantages are lost; your opponent knows which Pokemon you can bring, and you usually only have two or three battles to prove yourself.

Because of this, tournament play tends to favor flexible and dynamic Pokemon over polarizing ones. If you’re confident in your prediction skills, polarizing Pokemon can still win the day. These Pokemon also provide a different kind of purpose in tournament formats: bench pressure.

Bench pressure is placing a hard counter Pokemon on your roster to deter your opponents from using one or more of their Pokemon in battle. A Bastiodon on your roster could deter your opponent from bringing their Skarmory—even if you don’t intend to bring Bastiodon at all. This kind of pressure opens opportunities for other members of your roster (for example, your Venusaur could have increased play if your opponent is deterred from bringing their Skarmory).

Bench pressure ebbs and flows during a match. If you don’t bring Bastiodon in games 1 or 2, your opponent may call your bluff in game 3. (That is, of course, the perfect time to catch them off guard!) Alternatively, bringing Bastiodon in game 1 can scare away Skarmory for the rest of the round and free up your picks for games 2 and 3.

Team Building: Build a team of 6 that is balanced and can cover its weaknesses. Having multiple Pokemon to act as safe switches is also very important.

Predictions: Learn what others have brought against you in the past. Is there a mon that beats 5/6 of yours? It may be coming as a lead. Build a back line that is able to cover your leads weaknesses. 

Nerves: Are there any techniques that help you remain calm in high pressure situations? A couple of my go-to's are listening to music and a quick breathing exercise. 

Remember that this is just a game! Have fun, good luck!

Using Off-Meta Pokemon & Movesets

When you want to surprise your opponent and defy expectations, hidden info is a valuable tool in your kit. Most metagames concentrate around 15-20 Pokemon with well defined movesets, but venturing outside of the meta can be an effective way to gain an upper hand and add a personal stamp to your team.

Off-meta team building choices (aka “spice”) can provide several advantages. When you have more experience with a unique Pokemon than your opponent, that knowledge gap can give you an edge when it comes to move counts, shielding, switching, and more. An unexpected Pokemon can also make them rethink their battle preparations on the fly, nudging them toward shaky line compositions or early mistakes.

Similarly, off-meta move choices can swing games in your favor. Nidoqueen doesn’t usually run Stone Edge and Galvantula doesn’t normally run Energy Ball, but landing one through two shields can make a decisive difference. Look to protect your secret movesets during non-crucial moments; if you reveal an off-meta move too early, you’re tipping off your opponent for later games!

As with all team building aspects, take your off-meta choices into careful consideration. “Spice” for the sake of spice is a recipe for fun, but not always a recipe for success. Focus on the popular meta targets you’re looking to beat and find a scrimmage partner to validate that your strategy works in practice. After all, off-meta choices are probably off-meta for a reason, but if you’re confident you can make them work, all the more power to you!

You should play Pokemon that you are comfortable with! Show 6, pick 3 is different than GBL mostly because it gives you an opportunity to analyze the potential line up of your opponent instead of going into the battle blind. But, you're going to play better when you know your match ups, and chances are you have a certain Pokemon or two that you favor in battle. You know if your Pokemon wins CMP, how you like to play out a mirror match up, and if you prefer fast move damage or spammy charge moves. Play your skills to your advantage and have a plan for "if I lead X and they lead Y, this is what I will do." And never top left. Even if you know you're going to lose, you will still learn valuable information about your opponent's line up, charge moves, or play style for the next battle.

Using PvPoke’s Team Builder

The Team Builder here on the site is a helpful tool that can guide you to building your tournament roster.

The Team Builder doesn’t require you to enter a full team of 6; try entering 2-3 Pokemon to start and look at the “Suggested Alternatives” section for inspiration on how to build out your coverage. Choose one suggested alternative, evaluate your team again, and repeat until you have a full roster.

Once you have your roster drafted, check over the meta and see if you have any glaring weaknesses. Remember, you’ll ideally want two answers or checks for each of the meta’s most significant Pokemon.

The scores shown on the Team Builder tool are more of a guideline to identify vulnerabilities, so they’re not a strict determination on whether the team will succeed or fail. That part is up to you! The tool is geared toward balanced team building, but unbalanced strategies as mentioned above are just as viable.

The Importance of Building a Flexible Team

When I first started using PvPoke, I would go to Team Builder select the current meta, and throw in a bunch of meta-relevant Pokemon and see how low I could get the threat score to go. This isn’t a terrible strategy, and will work if you are in a time crunch, however, there is a better way. I’ve found that it’s a much better strategy to look for a core of Pokemon that work well together. One way to do this is to find two complementary Pokemon in team builder that have really good coverage when paired together and build a team that has several core options. You can also set yourself up to have a couple of ABB lines that you can run in your team. For example, recently in Silph’s Obsidian Cup, a popular strategy was to run an ABB line where the B’s are two dragons in the back. Building a team that has flexibility in what you can bring for a line of 3 is key.

Before the Match

The table is set, rosters are revealed, and you and your opponent are about to go head to head. Before you pick your 3 Pokemon for battle, what steps should you take to evaluate both teams? Tournaments are high stakes and you may only have a few minutes to prepare! This section covers what to look for in the crucial pre-match period so you can pick and predict successfully.

First, size up how each of your Pokemon match against your opponent’s roster. Then, size up how each of the opponent’s Pokemon match against yours. The key questions you want to answer during this period are:

  1. Which of my Pokemon matches up best against my opponent? This may be a Pokemon that has the most dominant matchups against your opponent or the most neutral play.

  2. Which of my opponent’s Pokemon matches up best against me? Similarly, look out for Pokemon you have few dedicated answers for. Which Pokemon could give you the toughest time?

  3. How does my opponent stop my best Pokemon? Identify the key counters you want to avoid if you lead with your safest Pokemon. What is the worst case scenario? Try to build around that in your backline.

  4. How do I stop my opponent’s best Pokemon? Consider which counters or coverage moves you may need to lean on to tackle your opponent’s safest pick.

In the above example, Player A’s Walrein has mostly positive or neutral matchups against Player B’s roster. Player B’s Scrafty is their hardest answer. Player B may choose to lean on Scrafty, or opt to beat Walrein by committee through neutral matchups. Conversely, Player B’s Talonflame matches up extremely well against Player A’s roster.

If this sounds overwhelming, you don’t need to memorize exact numbers or scenarios to answer these questions! At this stage you're just looking out for general type advantages, or holes in either team. With experience, this at-a-glance team evaluation will become second nature.


Simulations are not allowed to evaluate your opponent’s specific team during Silph Arena tournaments. Please respect the simulation and time limit rules of your tournament while you prepare for battle.

Hey guys, this is vaNNiii from Spain. I’m here to give you some tips about the upcoming open Great League Regionals in the show 6 pick 3 format.

So first thing, how to succeed in the show 6 pick 3 format, the first key is team comp. This means bringing a solid team of 3. You need to analyse your opponent’s team comp and bring a solid to3. Your comp must be balanced. If your lead is weak or hard walled by any of the opponent’s mon, your backline mons must be strong or neutral against that Pokemon. Why? Because if your opponent leads with that hard counter mon and your backline is also weak, you’re highly likely to lose just because your comp is worse.

Second thing, safe switches (ss from now on). If you build your team around neutral mons with great coverage like Sableye, Walrein, Vigoroth, etc, you’re more likely to succeed. These mons perform really good even against mons that are supposed to counter them. Sableye can win hard matches with return, Walrein can one-shot Bastiodon with EQ, and Vigoroth can outspam almost any mon with its Body Slams. If you build your team around neutral mons, you’re likely to have answers to every opponent’s mon.

This obviously means having less hard walls against your opponent, but this will allow you to have a shot on winning almost every game. To combine this with a solid to3, you need to analyse your opponent’s strongers mons against your team and have a solid strategy against the worst possible lead. This means putting a good ss against your opponent’s team and lead accordingly, and of course have a good closer that can handle a bad lead (always think about the worst possible outcome and you’ll be prepared for every scenario).

Third key are comfort picks. Everyone in PvP has some comfort picks, some mons that we enjoy using and we’ve mastered during our GBL/Silph games. These mons will shine even against their counters and will give us more confidence while playing because we know what to do with them and how to play them.

Last key is control your nerves, and you may say, "that’s easy to say but impossible to do", okai guys, you’re right, but you know what, this is a game. I know there will be a lot at stake in the regionals, but if you’re playing a game , you have to enjoy that game, you have to enjoy your battles and have fun, and if you focus on that, you’ll enjoy the event and control your nerves. Don’t go out there thinking that you must win the whole thing, go out there thinking that you’ll be enjoying a live event, getting to know a lot of new battlers and sharing your PvP experiences during the day, and after all of this, try to go all out and win the games!

To sum up: The keys to succeed and to at least have a chance on winning almost every game is combining solid comps, thinking about your team of 3 and your opponent’s team of 3, analyzing which mon would be a good safe switch against your opponent and using comfort picks to increase your own confidence and your chances of winning the battle. And the most important thing, enjoy the battles, the event and the Pokemon community, don’t pressure yourself! Good luck, everyone.

Pick Strategies

You’ve sized up both rosters, evaluated the best potential Pokemon, and now it’s time to do battle! How do you go about picking 3 Pokemon for your team? There are multiple pick strategies players may try to follow to gain the upper hand or outwit their opponent.

For Game 1 and subsequent games, you can try one of the following pick strategies based on your evaluation of both rosters:

  1. Lead your best Pokemon. Put your safest Pokemon in the lead, and back it up with two protector Pokemon who can cover its hardest counter.

  2. Lead your best Pokemon’s protector. Alternatively, you think your opponent may try to counter your best Pokemon in the lead. Hide it in the back as a potential safe swap, and lead with a Pokemon that counters its counter.

  3. Counter your opponent’s best Pokemon. Put your hardest counter to your opponent’s safest Pokemon in the lead, or run Pokemon that are at least neutral to it. If you don’t line up your hard counter in the lead, swap to try and draw it out.

  4. Counter the protector to your opponent’s best Pokemon. You think your opponent is predicting you will lead with your hard counter, so keep it safe in the back and lead with a Pokemon that beats its counters.

  5. Use preset teams. You may be comfortable with specific teams of 3 that you’ve practiced and put together ahead of the tournament. You can keep these stored in your Battle tab for easy access. Instead of adapting to your opponent’s roster, you make them square up against your best, proven lines. While this strategy isn’t the most flexible, it can be a good way to lean into your battle experience and avoid line building mistakes during the heat of the moment.

Pick strategies that involve picking with or against a player’s best Pokemon are more relevant when there is a clear best Pokemon. If a Talonflame beats 5/6 Pokemon on your roster, you can be sure Talonflame will be on both player’s minds as they pick their 3. Alternatively, these strategies become less important when the best Pokemon is unclear. It’s possible that the Pokemon your opponent is worried about most isn’t the one you’re predicting!

When going into a real battle, I analyse my opponent’s team and find my best neutral pick, which will be brought in a safeswap role where the goal is to get a shield or energy advantage no matter their counterswap. Then I look at which Mon covers my safeswap the best and build a core where I lead the counterpart of my safeswap. My last Mon is one that can put holes on my opponent’s squad when gaining an energy or shield advantage to utilize my safeswap even better.

It's also extremely important to know your weaknesses and realize them before your opponent to think about ways to play around them. For example, you know that your opponent has a Mon which can beat your whole team with 3 fast moves advantage. In those situations, I would put my most neutral or positive match up in a realistic shield scenario in the lead so the opponent has a hard time gaining the advantage in the process of a game. It's really important to keep your shield management on a high level in that case.

After the dust has settled from Game 1, different pick strategies come into play for Games 2 and onward. Did you see what you expected? Who won and who lost? Which of your Pokemon is best against the 3 that they brought, and which of their Pokemon is best against your 3? These are all things to take into consideration as you decide a pick strategy for the rest of the round. Pick strategies for later games include:

  1. Run the same team. If your team crushed it in Game 1, you may decide to run it back. This makes your opponent adapt to you. This can be particularly effective if your opponent doesn’t have a way to break your team core or hard counter you.

  2. Run the same team in a different order. Your team performed well in Game 1, but you predict your opponent will try to hard counter your previous lead. Swap your lead around to throw off your opponent.

  3. Counter their previous lead. If you lost Game 1, odds are you may want to make some changes. If your opponent runs the same team again, you can try to catch them by countering their previous lead. Alternatively, you can try to bring Pokemon that go neutral against your opponent’s previous team to give you more play.

  4. Use your last winning team. If you won Game 1 but lost Game 2, you may want to go back to the line that got you your first victory. On the flip side, if you lost Game 1 and won Game 2, keep in mind how your opponent won the first game as you prepare for Game 3 - you may see it again!

  5. Mix it up. If you’ve brought the same 3 Pokemon in the first few battles, it may be time to bring a completely different lineup in Game 3. This can be effective if you have a bench pressure Pokemon you haven’t shown in Games 1 or 2, and your opponent gets too comfortable in Game 3.

These are just some of the things to think about as you battle through your tournament, and hopefully they help you prepare for your competition!

With winning my first ever Silph Regionals and becoming the Silph Ontario Regional Champion, here are the takeaways and lessons I can share with you all for those who are preparing to take on the Pokemon Go Regionals and beyond:

  • Set your expectations where all you care about is how well you play, regardless of what you run and regardless of what your opponents run every round

  • Do not ever think about the end result. Think about what you want to really get out of this experience.

  • Do not be afraid to take risks and/or try out different things, whether that would take place in between battles or during battles

  • Have fun! After all, regardless of how well you do, what really matters is whether you learned something from this experience, even if it's not related to Pokemon Go itself!

I want to wish you all the best, and good luck out there!

Are you preparing to battle in the Pokémon Go Regionals later this year? If you have ever done GBL, you can already see the nerves and pressure it takes to win just a single game. Imagine doing that for an entire 6-round tournament where each round is a best-of-3 in a show 6, pick 3 format. The first thing you should already note that what you’re preparing for in the Pokémon Go Regionals is nowhere close to what you’ve done or prepared for in every game of GBL. If you have done numerous Silph League tournaments in any of the specialized metas or cash prize tournaments where it’s a show 6, pick 3 format in the Open Great League, then this is exactly what the Pokémon Go Regionals will look like, but for the latter case.

As a battler, I have hit Rank 10 / Legend in GBL every single season and playing that final set just to hit that rank can be extremely nerve-wracking. It is very easy to make mistakes mid-battle, and it is a lot more difficult to recover from mistakes that simply change the tide of any battle. One of the biggest reasons I have joined the Silph League and played tournaments there is because of how engaging the show 6, pick 3 format can really be, and there’s so many little things outside of just game mechanics and matchups that this environment teaches you. These little things are basically playing through nerves, taking risks, making calculated decisions, and sticking to a game plan while preparing for almost every possible scenario you can think of. In GBL, the blind 3 format enforces you to play any team of your choosing in a specific way based on what a lead is, and what you think may be in the back of your opponent’s team. In lots of cases, there’s not much you can really do if you lose lead, lose the safe swap, and the final matchup is something you just can’t win out of no matter what you tried. In Silph League, you have so much control of how you want to play against your opponent, and the lineups you choose every game and see can give way to even newer strategies you can use against your opponent, while pressuring them to adapt their strategies. This is the mindset and environment you have to be willing to embrace while competing in the Pokémon Go Regionals.

When I first started out in the show 6, pick 3 format, I would often struggle to create some decent teams, and I would pull out barely positive tournaments. My best tournament on my very first ever season was going 5-2 in the Silph League Continental Wild Card Tourney back during Season 2 in the Sorcerous Cup meta. At that point, I realized that my potential as a battler is limitless and the one thing I needed to really work on was my nerves while choosing every lineup I want to run for each battle against my opponents.

Fast forward to Season 3 of Silph League, I was able to practice on those little things, and even though I struggled at first, I found that losing matchups because I misplayed a game, my opponent outplayed me, or I didn’t go with my first gut of what I wanted to run in any game is absolutely okay. I needed to understand that if I wanted to succeed, I have to go through failure after failure as long as I kept on trying my very best. For that season, I managed to score a couple of positive tourneys every month, with my best result being a 6-0 sweep in the Vortex Cup meta. Every good and bad tourney I had along the way built up all the way to the Silph Ontario Regionals, which was my first ever showing at a Silph Regionals tournament in the Venture Cup meta.

To mentally prepare for that tournament, I meticulously did some team building, then took a quick glance at a practice tournament that an amazing content creator ThoTechtical was hosting. Off the bat, I realized that my first team draft had some obvious holes, and after a couple of practice battles with some friends, I was inspired to run at least two Pokémon that I have almost no experience in running in a show 6, pick 3 format. Because of how incredibly diverse the Venture Cup meta can be, I took the time to understand the challenging picks my team has to deal with and whenever I see it on my team of 6, I have to think about a general game plan on how to deal with it. In the Pokémon Go Regionals, the format will literally be Open Great League, so anything goes!

Before the tournament started, I took the time to remind myself that even though that its my first time ever in doing the Silph Regionals, I want to always try and play at my very best and treat this tourney like any other ordinary one. The only difference here is that invites to the Silph Continentals tournament as well as a fancy regional title are at stake. I set my expectations of winning the tournament so low that I would be happy enough if I scored any wins. To me, it is unrealistic to set very lofty expectations for a game where anything goes, and in a lot of cases, things will not always go your way. The level of competition was insanely stacked and given my Silph ranking at the time of that tournament compared to some of the other top battlers there, I was heavily considered an underdog to win it all.

Within the first three rounds of the tournament, I managed to win all three of my matchups without losing a single battle. In Round 4, I had to go up against DragOnS1lk, a close friend who has really introduced me into the local Silph scene in Toronto and at this point has grown it so much to the point that he is now running a 7-round tourney for every month of the current Silph season where even battlers from across other regions come in and participate. In Round 5, I went up against Chumpoletta and he had one Pokémon that I identified as a challenging pick for my team of 6. After losing Game 1 and seeing the entire move set of that pick, I adjusted my strategies and realized that a couple of picks would stand out. I won the last two games by committing to a specific game plan, and at that point, I was the only one left undefeated.

With one round left to go, I had a chance to win it all, but on my way was FreezingSunn, the top ranked Canadian Silph battler at the time. I was an absolute nerve wrack at the time because I even had people cheer me on, with a lot of them being surprised at what I was able to pull off. Just like every round, I committed to a game plan and stuck with it. I literally said to myself that I will run every line I choose with conviction and try not to second guess myself unless it comes down to a deciding Game 3. I lost Game 1 and won Game 2 due to alignment. In Game 3, I stuck to a lineup, but followed conventional gameplay in a way that I would go to my safe swap after losing the lead. Despite trying to turn the match into my favour, I couldn’t do anything to get that win, and I had to go through the gruelling tiebreaker rounds.

Luckily for me, FreezingSunn and I got a bye for the 1st tiebreaker round for having the most battle wins in the tournament after finishing 5-1 in matchups in won. In the 2nd tiebreaker round, I got Chumpoletta once again and the PTSD came back to me about that challenging pick. In Game 1, I lost lead, lost swap, but found myself in an end-game matchup where I could find a win con if I managed my energy well and threw the right moves at the last Pokémon. In Game 2, it played the out the same way as in Game 1, but I took an incredibly massive risk by going for the opposite play on the end-game matchup where I decided to nuke his last Pokemon with two shields up on his end. Praying that the nuke would land, I was incredibly shocked that it went through, and my opponent had no choice but to concede.

In the final tiebreaker round to decide on who gets the regional title, I got FreezingSunn once again. Again, my nerves continued to kick in, but with the stakes being this high, I thought to myself that it is now or never. The knowledge I had the first time I faced him was still fresh on my mind and I came up with different strategies on how to adapt against his team and playstyle. In Game 1, I made a very weird play near the endgame which forced him to make a mistake and I took advantage of it to snag a win I thought I wouldn’t get. In Game 2, I stuck with a very different line and tried to call out a specific lead given, and I was incredibly fortunate to see the desired lineup where all I had to do was maintain alignment to win the game. At that point, I was in utter shock that I just became the Silph Ontario Regional Champion…on my first ever Silph Regionals tournament! I played out the Game 3 against him and I ran the same lineup where I lost the deciding Game 3 the first time I faced him. I see the exact same lead from that first battle and instead of going to my safe swap first, I decided to go into my hard swap and get a shield advantage off the bat while losing switch. Instead of going back to my lead, I revealed my 3rd Pokemon and used it to get rid of his counter swap because at that point, I was already eyeing for my win condition. Energy and shield advantage on my lead would be able to power through the rest of his lineup and all I had to do was try and throw my charge moves on good timing. With that, I managed to sweep my opponent all because I decided to try something different instead of playing it by conventional means.

After the Match

After your battles, it’s time to thank your opponent for the match and reflect on your games. Were your predictions correct or off? Were there any decisions that decided a particular battle, and what would you choose to do differently?

If they’re willing to help, your opponent is one of the most valuable resources you can ask! See if you can learn what they saw from your team, what they predicted, and why they made certain decisions during your battles. Their insight can provide valuable info you can apply to future opponents.

Take a close look at the Pokemon that worked best for you, or Pokemon that struggled. If you had a particular team of 3 that worked really well, keep it in mind for your next battles. When the next round begins, compare your new opponent’s roster to the previous one and try to spot similar opportunities or challenges.

Repeat until all of your battles are complete! Every battle is an opportunity to learn and improve, and your skills will only improve as you get more tournament experience.

How I first learned to improve in PvP (Recording my battles)

After the series of defeats at my first Regionals tournament, it really lit a fire in me to improve. I joined ZyoniK’s discord community and began to learn some of the basic strategy of PvP. However, the most important advice that I took away from working with Zyonik was to practice, record my battles and then rewatch them. This really helped me learn about anticipating what my opponent would do, and sparked a lot of reflection in my own battle style.

A Story About My First Silph Regionals Tournament

I am thoroughly convinced that the reason that I was invited to Silph Regionals Season 1 was because a cat walked across somebody’s keyboard somewhere at Silph Co.  I wasn’t ranked very highly and had far more losses than wins. There were 76 competitors at Chicago's Season 1 Regional Invitational, hosted by DTC at Ballast Point Brewing. I won my first round and proceeded to lose the next six. However, I found that I was far less frustrated by my losses compared to having a losing streak in GO Battle League. I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to shake off losses when you are surrounded by other people, rather than playing alone on your couch. It also helps to be able to talk to your opponent afterwards and make those connections. 

Fun fact: I had actually already purchased concert tickets for the weekend of the tournament because the idea of being invited hadn’t crossed my mind.  My husband and I drove to Minneapolis for Saturday’s concert, so in order to make the tournament on Sunday, after the concert I flew to Chicago by myself and my husband drove home alone. Some friends in Wisconsin who were going to the same tournament drove down from Wisconsin and picked me up at the Chicago airport.  My friends and I attended the tournament together and drove home together afterwards. The things we do for Pokemon GO :)

Most of all, have fun! I hope this article and the tips and stories provided by your fellow trainers help you in your competitions.