VGC 2010 Birmingham (Showsni)
Maybe my posture's poor, but when I stand up for too long (especially with my backpack on) my back really aches. And standing up seemed to be the theme of the day...
Anyway, to the story! Or, well, I'll upload some photos first. Bear with me...
Okay, I have uploaded many photos! Possibly too many. These are all stills from my video camera, as my normal camera stopped working properly after taking just one photo. But they're good enough.
So, the night before I got all prepared. I had a team, train tickets, Pokéwalker, charged up 'phone, charged up video camera, packed lunch, wallet with money, tissues for my cold (or possibly hayfever), charged up DS, printed off team sheets, clean clothes... The works! I usually worry about forgetting stuff, so I had to double and triple check everything a few times. Anyway...
I set my alarm clock for 6am. Then got worried and changed it to 5:40am. Kind of unnecessary really, but it's best to be prepared. After breakfasting on honey nut cornflakes, my dad gave me a lift to the station, ready for the 7:06am train (to Stansted Airport, via Gloucester, Birmingham, Ely, Cambridge and a bunch of smaller stations). Here's my first photo!
A riveting picture of Gloucester Station, as you can see. Did I mention this will have way too many photos? Gloucester Station is famed for having the longest platform in Great Britain; well, second longest now. (Or possibly less...)
The train came in, I said goodbye to my dad, and was on my way. A pretty uneventful journey. I can't really read or do anything on trains or I get travel sick, so I just looked out of the window. About an hour or so later we arrived at Birmingham New Street.
Here's the main concourse. It's a pretty confusing place, with people and platforms all over the place. Gloucester is kind of cut off from the main railway lines these days, which means you generally have to change to get anywhere; though I think most people coming by train would have had to change at Birmingham New Street. I actually had a reservation on this train; seat 53A, in coach B, leaving at 8:30am. As it happened no one even checked my ticket.
On Birmingham New Street platform. They're really kind of dark and dingy, like you're underground. That train opposite is headed for Edinburgh; glad I wasn't travelling all that far... My seat was an aisle one (hence the A) with the back to the engine, which is pretty much the opposite of what I'd have chosen. At least it was a short journey.
And here we are at Birmingham International. I guess it mainly serves the Airport and the NEC. Funny names some stations have... University, Selly Oak, Five Ways...
Here's the train I came on. When I was younger I wanted to be the guard on a steam train... Not the driver or fireman, because it looked pretty hot and tiring driving and shovelling coal.
The railway station here, contrasting with Birmingham New Street, was pretty much deserted. The NEC itself was connected to the station, so I just followed some signs straight to it, and then there were signs up showing the Pokémon VGC was in the Pavilion. This early in the morning the NEC was empty apart from cleaners, of which there were a few. Made me feel like I shouldn't be here yet, but then I saw a Dad with two little girls both with DSes, so I was probably in the right place.
To get to the Pavilion you had to leave the NEC building and go outside. There was a nice lake there with a fountain and a flock of Canada Geese wandering about. I quite like ornithology, so I was happy to wander around and look at them whilst the Juniors queued up.
Looking back at the building I've just left. Welcome, indeed.
More geese. Look, they're walking in a line! There was also a mallard or two.
Just outside the Pavilion was this brick edifice with lots of flags. How many countries can you name? A bit hard to see them like this. There was the UN's flag too, so I guess they were flags of the United Nations. As you can see, the weather was kind of grey. No real rain yet, though.
Here's the actual location for the event, and the queue is already filling up the foyer and stretching outside. I wandered over to have a look see, and an official asked me if I was here for the Pokémon. Why, yes, I am. Then please get in the queue. Everyone? Yes, juniors and seniors. Okay, sure. So, it was about 9am by this time. And here followed an hour of queuing up in the Junior registration line. I guessed maybe they were going to preregister the seniors who were queuing up, but no, it was just a pretty pointless endeavour, standing outside for an hour. I spent some of the time filling out my registration sheet; so I guess I'll show you my team sheet now.
Weavile @ Focus Sash (Jolly)
Lugia @ Lum Berry (Timid)
Poliwrath @ Leftovers (Sassy, Damp)
Kyogre @ Choice Scarf (Timid)
Abomasnow @ Leftovers (Quiet)
The main idea is to snatch Calm Minds with Lugia, who can then take on anything specially based and win, barring hax. Weavile buys Lugia a turn with Fake Out, and then hits everything hard and fast. Poliwrath is my main insurance against exploders, and Encore is a great move. He can also take on most physical things and win (like Giratina), and is bulky enough that he can't be OHKOed by even things like Scarfogre's Thunder. Kyogre is Kyogre. Abomasnow is so my team sheet doesn't look too empty...
Finally the queue starts moving. We're inside the building! Yay! Pikachu comes up to the glass and dances at us from inside. I turn on my DS and pick up my shiny Eevee. Just what I've always wanted!
So we get to the front of the queue, and some girl tells us that if we're not registering for juniors we can just split away from the queue now. Well, that was fun. As you can see, it's pretty empty inside really. There's a demo of Pokémon Rumble set up (I already downloaded that demo on my Wii months ago...) and a place for a winner stays on battle. The music playing now was Blondie's Maria, which actually crops up later on. Why do so many Blondie songs seem to be about stalking?
The first round starts to get underway.
The announcer heads around getting the competitors at each station to let out a woop woop! She must have had a kind of monotonous job. I've lost count of the number of times she mentioned the prizes available, the side events we could attend, and the rules about cheating throughout the day. Anyway, she leads us in a 5 to 1 countdown, Eye of the Tiger begins playing, and the first round of the Juniors commences!
Spot the mistake.
Can you see it? It gets better.
First round, first match to go on the big screens, and they start fighting with totally the wrong settings, one guy having six Pokémon and the levels not rounded down at all. Oh dear. After much complaining from the crowd, the officials finally step in and the match restarts. Interestingly, both players go with different leads for the real match. After seeing the original attempt and the real match, it seems that five of Niklas' Pokémon are the legendary birds; Ho-Oh, Lugia, Articuno, Zapdos and Moltres. That's kind of awesome. Unfortunately, not particularly good.
For their rematch, Niklas sends out Ho-Oh and Lugia. Cool. ROSS1 sends out Kyogre and Latias. Kyogre fires off a Water Spout. Ho-Oh dies, Lugia hangs on. Latias Energy Balls Lugia, kind of bizarrely, and pretty ineffectually. Articuno comes out to back Lugia up, and Water Spout takes out the both of them. Finally Moltres is sent out alone. Looks like it's all over, as the Choice Scarf Kyogre uses... Struggle. Four Pokémon with Pressure versus one without PP Ups! Moltres is, of course, soon taken down, though, and ROSS1 moves on. His second battle was on the screens too; Choice Scarf Kyogre swept the other guy's team with Water Spout once more. I hope my matches are like this!
I wander around for about an hour, watching the matches and the knock out battles. At some point, the announcer calls out that all the positions are filled, and anyone still queuing up is unlucky; there's a lot of people who get turned away. From what I hear, that's a far cry from last year's juniors. My back starts aching from the standing up, but I manage to find a vacant chair in a position to see the screens and settle down. The match I'm watching is pretty interesting, and it's looking quite close, when suddenly I hear the announcer say that it looks like a queue is forming for the seniors. I turn round to look, and see an already massive queue has spontaneously formed out of nowhere. I don't think the officials had planned it at all, I think people had just started queuing. The queue bends around from the registration desk, across the hall and right back to where I'm sitting, so I stand up and get it in smartish. The organisers decide they clearly can't have this completely random queue snaking about inside, so they usher everyone in it outside.
By this time the wind has picked up and the heavens have opened; it's raining buckets, in other words. I took another video of the flags and you can see they've now unfurled.
So, I checked my 'phone to see the time. Not even 11 o'clock yet. And sign ups start at 1 o'clock. We've got two hours queuing in the rain ahead of us. Fantastic.
Well, maybe it's for the best. Here I get chatting to the people around me and meet some nice people in the queue. There's a mum and her son behind me, with a brother who's still in the juniors (and doing pretty well, by the sounds of it). She asks me to keep an eye on him as it's his first year at the seniors, whilst she checks on her other son. Ahead of me are a nice couple who're doing their A levels. We talk about university choices for a bit, and our teams and so on. It's not too bad, this queuing lark. I just wish I could sit down! My poor back really doesn't like standing up... We're a little worried that we might not be far enough forward in the queue to get in, but a lady comes around with one of those clicker things; we're in position 133, so that's all right. It would be terrible to queue for two hours and then not get in.
Eventually they move us inside, and registration opens. It's another hour in the queue from this point. I have my lunch sitting on the floor inside, a peanut butter sandwich, salt and vinegar Frisps and a Take a Break. One thing I didn't pack was a drink; I was assuming I could buy one there. There is indeed a place to buy drinks, but I can't leave the queue to get to it. Oh well. Guess I'll just be thirsty.
Here I am finally moving forwards. Still half an hour or something to go from this point... And the queue seems to have grown both in front and behind us. Whilst the queue is still stretching all the way outside (I pity anyone who turned up actually at 1 o'clock), in front of us there's been a lot of pushing in. A few familiar faces who were way back in the queue are now somehow ahead of us. Wearing a costume like that kind of makes you stand out... Still, surely 120 people can't have pushed in, right? We must still be close enough to the front to get a place?
Luckily, that is so, and finally, at about 2:30pm or something, I reach the registration point. I wish the people I was talking to luck and head off. She checks my team sheet for banned Pokémon, and I get a wristband and a scoresheet thing. I'm number 117; (Seadra, I quickly checked on my Pokédex). All I want is to sit down! My back is killing me! They check us into the green area. I notice they're asking if people in the queue know the person next to them, and if so, they don't put them together; otherwise, you're partnered with whoever you're near. A few people were drifting slowly backwards through the queue, trying to play the odds, but I just stay where I am and hope to get lucky.
Round 1! Fight!
I'm against Harry, who seems a fair bit younger than me. Possibly an easy victory? Still, you can't always tell.
He leads Infernape and Torterra, and I send out Weavile and Lugia.
Hm, doesn't look like it should be too threatening... Weavile fakes out Infernape, whilst Lugia gets a Calm Mind. Ape flinches after Lugia moves, and Torterra Razor Leafs, doing pretty minimal damage.
Ah. So, Lugia outspeeds Infernape, and Torterra really isn't scary. Time to go for some kills.
Weavile Ice Shards Torterra, leaving it in the red. Lugia Aeroblasts Infernape to death. Torterra Leaf Storms Lugia, doing next to nothing.
He sends out Empoleon. Weavile Low Kicks it, Lugia Earth Powers it, Empoleon dies. Torterra uses Earthquake. So, I guess he wasn't expecting Empoleon to live anyway... Weavile takes it and survives pretty handily.
He sends out Ho-Oh. Weavile Ice Shards Torterra, finishing it off. Lugia Aeroblasts, not doing all that much damage to Ho-Oh, who kills Weavile with Sacred Fire.
I send out Kyogre, and Water Spout finishes off Ho-Oh.
He fought hard with what he had, but there wasn't much chance of a team with only one uber, and that being Ho-Oh, beating my two ubers, I guess. Still, a valiant effort; and with a win under my belt, I'm pretty happy. Going out in the first round was the one thing I really wanted to avoid, especially after the four or so hours queuing.
Against Metis/Nick. Obviously I expect a tougher opponent here, and he does seem to have a better strategy; but again, lack of ubers lets him down.
I lead as usual, he sends out Machamp and Gengar.
"Two shinies?" he asks me.
Weavile Night Slashes Gengar whilst Lugia gets off a Calm Mind. I'm kind of expecting Focus Sash, but he doesn't have it; instead, Gengar is KO'ed. Machamp DynamicPunches Weavile, knocking it down to its Sash and confusing it. He sends out Gardevoir.
Not wanting to risk the 50/50 chance of confusion and eager to get another Fake Out, I switch Weavile for Poliwrath.
Yes, I am. Maybe it's not wholly in the spirit of the game to RNG perfect Pokémon, but I figure every little helps at these things. Sorry!
Lugia Aeroblasts Machamp, killing it cleanly. Gardevoir Thunderbolts Lugia, and he seems kind of dismayed how little damage it does. Lugia really is a beast. Dragonite comes in to replace the lost Machamp.
Lugia goes for the Aeroblast on Dragonite, doing less than half. Gardevoir Psychics Poliwrath, getting the Special Defence drop and doing a decent amount of damage, a little over half. Dragonite Ice Punches Lugia and I'm kind of surprised how little it does; it's a three hit KO form Lugia's current health, after the T-bolt. Poliwrath Paybacks Gardevoir, but its Colbur Berry kicks in, so it doesn't take too much.
It's not dying anyway, so I go for another Aeroblast on Dragonite, leaving it on the low red. He comments he didn't think I'd do that; presumably he expected the Roost here. But with Kyogre and a free Fake Out still in reserve I feel I can afford to be aggressive. Gardevoir Thunderbolts Poliwrath, finishing it off, and Dragonite Ice Punches Lugia again.
Kyogre comes out and Water Spout kills them both.
A good match, but again lack of ubers lets it down. Also, Focus Sash your Gengar!
So, here's where it gets serious. And here's where I lose, to the first team with actual ubers in. Woops. Well, you'll see how it goes. No excuses from me, I played badly, and the better player won this match. I think I had more of a chance had I acted differently, but that's how it goes. Hindsight is twenty twenty... This was against Terry.
He leads Kyogre and Kabutops. Dang. A fast Rock type is bad news for my Lugia, and if that Kyogre is choiced I could be in for a world of hurt. I decide to switch Lugia for Poliwrath, but I'm already feeling as though I'm on the back foot.
Lugia switches to Poliwrath. His Kyogre is named PRINCE, which is kind of funny, as my Weavile is Princess. Princess tries to Fake Out PRINCE, but he protects. Kabutops Stone Edges at Lugia, but Poliwrath takes it and resists it handily.
Here I make a mistake. I've seen that his Kyogre knows Protect. Therefore, my Lugia outspeeds it, and since it's not even Specced it can't hurt Lugia enough to kill it. Unless he gets a crit or a parahax, Lugia just Calm Minds, Roosts, and laughs at Kyogre. Kabutops, on the other hand, outspeeds and really hurts with Stone Edge. Thus, Kabutops is the larger threat to my team, and I really should have ganged up on it. Instead...
Kabutops Waterfalls Weavile, knocking it down to its sash. Weavile Low Kicks Kyogre (wish it had been Kabutops!) doing a fair amount of damage. Poliwrath Brick Breaks Kabutops (oh, for a crit here...) leaving it on the red, and Kyogre Thunders Poliwrath. (Is that Iron Ball Kyogre?) Poliwrath hangs on with a sliver of health, but gets paralysed.
Weavile tries to Ice Shard Kabutops. He switches to Shedinja. Kyogre's Thunder finishes Poliwrath off.
Shedinja. Nuts. Well, every member of my team can hit it, I guess...
I send out Kyogre. What move to lock myself on... Ancientpower to hit Shedinja, or Thunder to kill Kyogre... I go for the Thunder, and Night Slash on Shedinja. Shedinja Shadow Sneaks to finish Weavile, and his Kyogre Protects. Oh yeah, Shedinja gets Shadow Sneak. Hm.
Out comes Lugia. Shedinja Shadow Sneaks Lugia, whilst Lugai Aeroblasts Shedinja. Focus Sash, of course. Feels unfair. My Kyogre finishes his off with Thunder.
Here's Kabutops... Stone Edge (Miss miss miss miss miss...) hits! Dang. I'd hit Roost with Lugia hoping and praying Stone Edge wouldn't kill it. His Shedinja protects itself. Lugia... dies. I've lost. Kyogre's Thunder finishes off Kabutops (too slow!) and he sends out Rayquaza, but this match is over. I flee the battle and stand up to shake his hand.
Well, that's me out, one battle before the finalist's lounge. Still, I'm happy to have come so far. I spend the rest of the afternoon wandering around, watching battles, and buying a drink! I have a fight against my new friend from the queue (who lost in the first round :(), and only narrowly manage to eke out a win with a critical hit from Water Spout (his Toxicing Lugia proving a serious problem). Here's a random match I videoed some of:
I don't watch most of the semis and whatnot as my back is really aching, so I go to sit down and stake myself out a spot to watch the finals. The match is decided pretty much on the first turn. I've got a video of the final match, but I guess it's already been uploaded... Should I upload my one?
The rivals meet. Well, once you've come this far you've already got the trip to Hawaii, this match is just a formality. With a Wii at stake.
So, first turn and...
Yep, game deciding right there.
That elicits a chuckle from the crowd; throughout the day, the winner has had to raise their hand to call a judge over.
A friendly handshake...
So, there's a bit of an awards ceremony, and then the champions go off for photos with Pikachu. And so begins the long journey home...
What's that? You want me to go into excruciating detail about it? Well, if you insist!
I head back to Birmingham International station where I find my queue buddies waiting for the train to Birmingham New Street. I'm a little worried that my ticket for the train back to Gloucester says 19:30 and it's only about 5:30pm now; but I ask the ticket collector on the train and he says any train's fine. I bid farewell at Birmingham New Street as we head off for different trains. The lady in the information kiosk says the next train to Gloucester's at 18:30, from platform 10b. (Like Tenby!) I've got about three quarters of an hour to wait, then. I head down to the platform, head back to the concourse, check out the WH Smiths there (a poor selection) and consider venturing out into Birmingham, but there's a ticket barrier in the way (unlike Gloucester) so I deciede not to, in case I can't get back in. I head back to the platform, find a nice bench and read one of the books I've brought with me and haven't had a chance to until now. It's a really trashy vampire romance type books of the kind that seems to be everywhere recently... Like, worse than Twilight. Luckily I'm immune to bad literature and can happily read almost anything.
So, the train eventually arrives, and a bunch of people who were at the tournament and are also heading back to Gloucester get on with me, somewhat surprising. I'm too shy to talk to them, though. They're trying to think of Pokémon jokes, and I'm this close to cracking the really old "How do you get 200 Pikachus on a bus?" one... Oh well. Here's where Blondie's Maria shows up, as one of them hasn't heard of Blondie and another one is listing Blondie songs for him. I guess it's the 18th birthday of one of them... Sorry, I can't help eavesdropping, I get travel sick if I try to read.
We get back to Gloucester, and my mobile 'phone has the credit to call home and ask for a lift. I didn't realise it had any credit on it, so it was quite a lucky surprise. I think we went a different route back then out... Well, we stopped at different stations, anyway. Have you ever played that station game, where you all get the name of a station on a chair and sit in a ring, and the conductor calls out Cheltenham Spa to Paddington, or Cardiff Central to Melton Mowbray or whatever or All Change? Sorry, I'm rambling...
Anyway, that's about it, I guess!