It took a little luck and some training, but 14-year-old Dobson High School freshman Emily Grieve emerged from a contest in Phoenix as Pokémon Autumn Regional Champion — one of five people in the country to hold that title.
The tournament, held in Phoenix over a weekend in October, featured players from all over competing to earn the title and score championship points to qualify for the U.S. National Championships next summer. Players battled one another through a video game system, with the winners of each battle advancing to their next opponent.
“Its strategy and luck basically; the team I used is based around an ability one of my Pokémon has,” Grieve said.
The luck for Grieve began with her advancing through the tournament despite finishing 3-3 in a preliminary competition the week prior, which did not provide her copious amounts of optimism entering the larger competition. But she kept advancing round by round and cruised through the competition on what she called “autopilot” until she realized she had was in the top eight.
Her win streak continued into the final round set up in a best-of-three format. Grieve’s opponent stomped her in round one, but she snuck by in round two when she won on a final hit while both Pokémon were paralyzed. That set up one last match, and she again sneaked by because her opponent’s character remained frozen as she scored one final hit.
Scenarios like that are where the luck comes into play, as it’s difficult to know when the effects of an attack will end or even the strength of the move. But another important difference from a less successful run the year prior was her increased familiarity about how to use her Pokémon properly.
“I knew more of what I was doing this year than last,” she said.
It wasn’t a bad run for the player who started entering video game tournaments to raise money so she could compete in tournaments for the game’s card game.
Now that she’s one of five Autumn Regional Champions — there were five such tournaments across the country over the course of two weekends — Grieve said her next event is a tournament in St. Louis, which happens to be her hometown. Whether she makes it to the U.S. Championship level or not, she said she’ll continue to play not to win, but to enjoy the game she’s played since she was 8.
“It is just a game; if you win, it’s a huge deal. If you lose, it’s still fun,” she said.
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