VGC Dynasties: What's in a Name?

By Solace. Art by Birkal.
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VGC Dynasties: What's in a Name?

If you've ever gone to a VGC event or even lurked in the VGC subforum, you'll probably have seen mention to a few "dynasties". Whether you've heard of them or not, every player knows that facing a dynasty member means one thing: trouble.

The most well-known dynasties are the Has and Zhengs that hang around Smogon, but the Arnolds have managed to make their way into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the "most successful family of video game Pokemon players". Let's take a look at the Smogon dynasties, and gain some insight as to what might make them so strong.

Zheng Dynasty

Aaron and Brendan Zheng have a pretty impressive VGC record. In 2011, they both placed first at the Washington DC Regional, in the Seniors and Juniors division, respectively. In 2012, Aaron placed 2nd in Seniors and Brendan placed 1st in Juniors. In fact, they've been playing since 2008, claiming top placings and even making it to the 2008 Worlds and 2010 Nationals.

Now what makes this dynasty so strong? Cybertron invited me over to his VGC Summer home, filled with the 5 winning 3DS's from 2011 and the 2 DSi's from 2010 in stylish trophy cases. On the wall, I see pictures of a certain girl with a now-dusted-over plaque that I can make out only as "Win worlds...girl". On an opposite wall, the Zheng brothers are throwing darts at pictures of Pokemon in order to plan their new teams.

Babbytron tells me that they'll only have time for a few questions, so I try and make it quick.

Solace: What do you think makes the Zhengs so strong?

Cybertron: I think it's really all the friends we've made here playing the game.

With a boring answer from Cybertron, I go over to Babbytron for his opinion.

Solace: What do you think has contributed to your success at the VGCs?

Babbytron: Two hats + Patrat = Victory

On my way out, a box full of TCG packs falls on me like an avalanche. As I get up, I see a receipt for a new plaque at the Zheng home. "Brendan: Rhode Island VGC and TCG Champion". Looks like the start of a TCG Dynasty as well!

Ha Dynasty

The Has are known for incredibly innovative strategies and high placings at Worlds. They've been playing VGC since 2009, and despite a lackluster 2011 season, their performances in past years certainly show that they are a dominant dynasty. With Huy's Trick Room Mewtwo and Parasect in 2010, the team he is most known for, and other non-standard strategies devised by the Ha dynasty, they are probably the most feared family in VGC.

As I approach the address Huy gave me, I find myself in front of a huge gated mansion. I guess those SPL paychecks really do go a long way. I look around, wondering if this is the Ha home, and then see someone in the back dressed in a Tamika Catchings basketball jersey shouting "FUCKING HOOPSTERS!!!" I realize I'm definitely in the right place.

I walk out back to the basketball court where Duy is shooting 3-pointers while playing on PO. I see Huy at the other end of the court deciding whether he should pick Kecleon or Cinccino for his newest team. Huy is the first one to spot me and he picks up a megaphone and says "SOLACE! IT'S ME! HUY!" I see Duy finishing up his match and typing in "gg" while Huy puts his 2010 Worlds DSi XL and 2009 Worlds DSi into sleep mode.

I'm led inside their California home, where I see Worlds merchandise lining the hallways. If you thought the Zheng home was impressive, this house is like the Hard Rock Café of VGC with all the memorabilia. As I'm staring in awe at all the prizes, Huy tells me that he sucks and is only 45-20 in VGC. Huy and Duy get right to the point and give me a breakdown at what makes the Ha Dynasty so good.

Huy: Duy and I are able to bounce ideas off each other for good teams, and that definitely helps the process. We also play ahead instead of turn by turn, which means that things we do turn 1 may not be the best for that turn, but overall help us for turn 3 or turn 4.

Duy: We also try not to go for boring standard teams and fall for the "metagame trap". And we use solid teams and force them to play our game, instead of just countering Pokemon and playing our opponent's game.

Arnold Dynasty

While the Arnolds aren't a big Smogon presence as the aforementioned families, as World Record holders they definitely deserve a mention. Grace Arnold has played in every single Pokemon World Championship, Ryan Arnold qualified for Worlds in 2010 and 2011, David qualified for Worlds 2009 and 2011, Linda Arnold qualified for Worlds 2010 through the Last Chance Qualifier, and Glenn Arnold qualified for Worlds 2009 and 2010, to say nothing of the family's many Regionals victories. Because of their huge successes, they've made it into Guinness World Records: Gamers Edition 2012. The Arnolds are certainly not a dynasty to mess with, and they span every division, making them even more dangerous at the competitions.

Final Words

These dynasties are only a sampling of the great players we have here at Smogon. While not everyone makes their name through a fearsome family, even the dynasties can be toppled. Each of these players uses their experience, great and unique teams, and unique playstyle in order to do well at every event. VGC definitely brings the fun back into Pokemon, with crazy anime-based teams or even just using your favorites. If you're looking for more info on these players and others, there are plenty of VGC warstories all over the forum! Take a chance and try out the great doubles environment, and see if you can take down the dynasties.

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