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Interview with World Pokémon V.G.C 2013 Team Australia Member Ben Kilby
On a cold bearing July 21st afternoon, hundreds of Pokémon Masters from far and wide (Australia and New Zealand) gathered within the Nintendo Section under the roof of Australia’s new and now made international gaming event PAX AUS, where the Australian Pokémon Video Game Championships were held. Not only would trainers and masters be competing for the title of champion in their allocated division but they would also have the opportunity of representing Australia in the World Pokémon Video Game Championships, which will be held early this month in Vancouver, Canada.
Among those crowd of skilled masters there stood a very unconfident Pokémon Master’s Division (trainers born in 1997 or earlier) competitor, Ben Kilby who was quite sure he wasn’t going to make it past the first round. Little did he know that fate had much more in store for him.
After hours of grueling, sweaty, heart -pounding, luck-filled matches, Ben Kilby from Melbourne, Australia and the rest of the 1st and 2nd place division winners were finally crowned National champions, and were also given the honor of represent Australia in Vancouver.
I caught up with Ben and had a talk with him about his thoughts of being crowned Australia’s new Masters Division Champion and how he’ll prepare himself for what’s going to be his greatest challenge yet.
Leviathyn: Ben, congratulations on becoming Australia’s new Pokémon Masters Division Video Game Champion. How does it feel?
Ben: It still feels surreal and I’m not sure it has kicked in yet. I don’t think I will really appreciate it until I am over in Canada with the best of the best.
Leviathyn: Did you expect to reach this title?
Ben: Certainly not! My friend Kieran and I battle all the time and win about 50/50 each time, and he was knocked out in the 1st round. That made me less confident about progressing further in the competition.
Leviathyn: Is this the first time you’ve competed in a Pokémon Video Game Championship event?
Ben: I competed in the warm up/qualifier to PAX at Federation Square a few weeks before, where I got knocked out in the 2nd round. I have also been participating in a couple of tournaments with the Pokémon Melbourne group, and am currently in an ongoing online championship series with the Pokémon Australia group. I’m coming 10th out of 24 competitors.
Leviathyn: While you were battling against your opponents before finals, what were your competitors like?
Ben: Most of my opponents had well developed teams that are common in the VGC (Video Game Championships) game. I think there was a lot of luck involved in making it through all the rounds.
Leviathyn: What were their Pokémon like? Were they well trained?
Ben: I only remember one person, whom I played in the second round, that didn’t seem to have EV trained Pokémon. They weren’t too hard to beat. Everyone else had put a lot of thought and training into their teams.
Leviathyn: Which battle was your toughest where you thought your chances of progressing further grew slim?
Ben: I really should have been eliminated in the 1st round! I only scraped through that first round because the move Muddy Water (85% accuracy) missed 3 times out of 6, and his Pokémon were fully paralyzed four times in a row (25% chance each time).
Leviathyn: Before entering the competition did you feel your Pokémon had a good chance of making it to finals?
Ben: My two main team members, Breeloom and Liepard, were only bred less than a week before the tournament, and my final member, Mamoswine, whom I used in about 3 battles, was bred the day before the tournament. So I didn’t have much of a chance to test out my team, but theoretically I thought it would work well, and it did.
Leviathyn: When you reached Finals, how did your competition change?
Ben: The pressure was really on as the first time I was up on stage (in front of the big screen) was for the finals. The intensity that came with everyone watching was the biggest change. The actual competitors were similar to some of my other tough opponents.
Leviathyn: How did you perform against the other top three finalists?
Ben: In my first final I was able to win quite easily thanks to a critical hit which 1hko’d my opponents Landorus, than I was able to Match Punch and 1hko his Tyranitar. The 2nd finals battle was much closer.
Leviathyn: Looking back what was your most memorable battle?
Ben: The most memorable would be my semi and final battle to be either the 1st or 2nd Master’s Division finalist. I had a Kingdra against his Tyranitar and Escaliver – I used the move Muddy Water which hit both his Pokémon and lowered their health to the point that one more Muddy Water would kill them both. Also Tyranitar’s accuracy was lowered from the Muddy Water, causing his Tyranitar’s Fling move (100% accuracy) to miss, which would have killed me –I was then able to kill Tyranitar with Muddy Water but Escalivier protected itself so it survived. I was on 30hp and the move Sandstorm cast by one of his other Pokémon was damaging me, which does 10hp damage each time, so I was down to 20hp. I tried to use Muddy Water again but he used the Protect move again and I was buffeted by the Sandstorm; down to 10hp now. He went for his 3rd protect, but it failed and my Muddy Water move was able to defeat his Escalivier. One more hit from his Sandstorm move and I would surely be dead. A very close finish.
Leviathyn: Did you have an Ash moment in any of your battles where your Pokémon was close to dying but your belief in them somehow turned the tides around?
Ben: [Laughs] In my 2nd battle against the other 3 finalists my Ferrothorn was hit with the move Fire Punch, which is 4x super effective, but somehow it survived on 4hp, then it got its health back up with leftovers and leech seed, and Ferrothorn was back in the fight again.
Leviathyn: Which member in your Pokémon team do you have a strong connection with, similar to Ash and Pikachu?
Ben: My Breeloom because it has a more unique move set and is unpredictable against my opponents.
Leviathyn: Have you decided which Pokémon team you will be bringing with you to world championship?
Ben: I figure I got lucky with how well this team has performed that I don’t think I will be changing it too much before Canada
Leviathyn: How will you prepare yourself for the world championship?
Ben: The random match up feature allows me to battle with strong opponents from all over the world. So lots of battles with different people is the best way to prepare.
Leviathyn: How do you think you performed overall in the competition? What areas do you feel you need to improve in to be even more prepared for the worlds championship?
Ben: After my first round near loss I performed really well and was able to get through to the finals. As for improvements, my Ferrothorn is 4x weak to fire moves. I need to be more aware of fire moves coming out of nowhere. I should have been aware that Tyranitar might have fire punch but didn’t think about it during the 1st battle. I also came up against a Cresselia with hidden power fire which nearly brought an end to me.
Leviathyn: Last question: what makes a good trainer, and do you have any tips for trainers that are planning on entering future Pokémon Championships? Training tips? Battle tips? Item tips?
Ben: Luck! Leftovers and berries stop super effective moves so they’re very useful. Also the move Fake Out is most useful to equip your Pokémon with, it can turn battles around.
We wish you all the best, Ben, at the world championship and we know whatever happens you’ll make Melbourne and the whole of Australia proud.
You can check out Ben’s epic PAX AUS semifinal battle in the video down below: