What’s a VGC event like anyway?

Every so often, Pokémon tournaments have been run by fans and officials, and they’ve even picked up in frequency ever since generation five started. Some have been hosted online, and a slew of those are expected to start over the coming months as well for Pokémon X&Y.

But there’s the other sort of tournament, where you go out and battle people in the flesh with your 3DSs. …No, not by whacking each other, you still just fight via Pokémon battles. But what is such an event like, and what sort of people go to these events? And how many, for that matter? Recently a few of us had the chance to go and check out a VGC event ourselves in Sydney, Australia.

What is VGC?

Vengeful Grumpy Critters? Very Grand Cheese? It is a mystery.

VGC stands for Video Game Competition, and is the common short-term used when you’re talking about a Pokémon competition. These are now yearly events run by people from the Pokémon Company – about as official as you can get! They run in multiple countries as well, and nowadays if you win in regional/state level and then national, you can get yourself to the world championships. 

This year, the structure was the usual Double Battle format. You are allowed six Pokémon in your team, but can only choose four of them for any one battle. A further restriction was that Pokémon had to be Kalos-born; that is, bred in X&Y, and found within the Kalos Dex. That means that you couldn’t go about with Swampert, or a Butterfree caught in Kanto. And naturally, legendaries like Mewtwo were banned from use. That still meant one had over 400 Pokémon to choose from, but there is a feeling of restriction nonetheless. Could always be worse however; the first competition in Australia in 5th gen were limited to then-new 5th gen only Pokémon, which had been rather restrictive.

The Location

As mentioned, the event we attended was in Sydney, Australia. It was a state-wide competition, in the middle of other events that had been held in other states. The battles were held in Sydney’s Customs House, a large building with a number of libraries within. The organisers had booked a decent sized room, but there was one problem they hadn’t quite anticipated.

Nobody suggest a food fight, now…

While the likes of Perth and Adelaide had drawn about 50-80 people each, Sydney had over 220 players despite the local train network effectively closed on the majority of lines due to trackwork, and the more recent event in Melbourne drew over 370 people! So things were a little crowded. It was just as well people had access to the surrounding rooms as well. This also impacted on the way the competition ran. As they had aimed for the whole event to last from 9am to 4pm, they had to go straight to an elimination format to try and stick to that schedule. In the end, the final battle ended shortly after 5:30 pm. To their credit, the organisers did a good job in adjusting and dealing with the huge amount of people that turned up, as well as dealing with curly situations like competitors dropping out around finals time. They also stayed back themselves despite an evening flight to the next event the following day – they sure had devotion! And at least the eliminations started as a best-of-three format, so you had at least two battles to enjoy. This also allowed you to learn about what your opponent had after the first battle, and such information could prove vital to turning your fortunes around and winning battles 2 and 3. 

There were rows upon rows of chairs available, and a number of tables, one set for registrations and later casual battles, which was a welcome location for people looking to further test teams or try out gimmick battles, as well as those unfortunate to be knocked out in the first round. Another set of tables on the other end of the hall were used for the competition battles, and one desk used for battles to be displayed on a large television screen that all could watch. Arguably it wasn’t the best to get chosen to battle there, as your team would then be visible to everyone else, at least early on in the competition. In-between battles the television played a bunch of videos with various Pokémon tunes played from the newer games.

Registration did take some time, but when you’re getting 200+ people to fill out a form in detail including what they used in their team (down to movesets and items held) and line up in groups it’s not unexpected. They also saved time by skipping the whole process in locking your team to your Battle Box. While this meant people could rearrange their team, I think in general people kept to the same team in good faith. They handed out labels to each person that registered with a number; these numbers were used in deciding who fought who in the first place (e.g. 1 fought 2, 3 fought 4, etc; and the next round then had the winner of 1 v 2 against the winner of 3 v 4, and so on and so forth in a continued single elimination format.

The Atmosphere

Always watching…

People of all kinds turned up – young and old, male and female. A few cosplayed (for example, one person pulled off Serena pretty well), but it was safe to say they were few and far between; more common to see were Pokémon-themed bags, shirts and the sort. All the organisers had fancy gen 6 themed shirts, and the place also had a number of large Pokémon banners about the championship.

While inevitably you would have the odd bad egg in such a large crowd, on the whole people were good-natured. If your opponent wasn’t too nervous about the whole thing (and to be fair, nigh everyone was feeling differing levels of nervousness during the lead-up to battles), it was easy to strike up a conversation, even during a battle where comments on the fight would be exchanged (‘nice Pokémon choice!’, ‘I didn’t expect that’, etc). As the competition drew to a close people often gathered in groups to discuss how they made a wrong decision or were screwed over by hax. The way people acted during battles was interesting to watch by itself at times. You had the overly talkative sort, those that were just quiet for the whole battle, and some hard core players that even took notes with pen and paper on how each battle went.

The majority of people were actually in their late teens or 20s. For comparison, the Masters event – ages 16 and up – numbered 161, about 40 were in the younger Senior division, and a mere 11 for the Junior division. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s a kids game, as the numbers clearly tell a different story! A healthy amount of people hung around to the end to watch the final matches broadcast on the television for each division; some of them had been extremely close and were thoroughly entertaining, even the junior division final. The winner of that division even updated her PSS trainer message from ‘I’m in the finals’ to ‘I won regionals! ‘, which was rather cute of her. The Seniors final was tense and the loser of the first two battles of the best-of-three fight was clearly ruing some bad luck; the first of the fights came down to a critical hit at the last possible turn for the victor.

Pokémon and Battles

I think a Tyranitar is going to win this one.

Naturally, we can’t discuss such an event without mentioning the Pokémon used! The usual expectations – such as Talonflame, Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Mawile, Garchomp and Aegislash – showed up to no great surprise on many teams, including those which got to the finals. You can view a list of the teams used by some people who made it to the top here. But there were a number of surprises to be seen, from exploding Lickylicky to Mega Heracross. These teams were more interesting to follow and see how far one would go with them; as a wise E4 member once said, true trainers try to win with their favourites. 

A lot of teams focused on some sort of weather control, be it sandstorm, rain from a Prankster user or Politoed, or Sun teams, thanks to the rather popular Mega Charizard Y. It was roughly an even split of people who also opted to give nicknames to their Pokémon. My personal favourite was a Cryogonal nicknamed Mr. SPARKARU, from a Simpsons episode.

One of our group even made it all the way to the semi finals. Here are some battle videos we uploaded. To view them, use the Battle Recorder item in X&Y after connecting to the internet, and enter in the following codes via the ‘Search’ button on the first blue-background screen that shows up. These should also show what sort of Pokémon people used in battles.


Close call on this one. Their Mega Heracross put a lot of pressure on a number of my team members. That it got taken out with so little fuss in the end is nothing short of legendary luck; this could have been a real showstopper.


Predictions can be important! Knowing that their Mantine had Wide Guard, I relied on single target moves, making them waste turns and smoothing out the win.


Sometimes strategies just don’t work out. This baton passer got swept before he could set up, and had to surrender! Always have contingencies. Gimmick teams don’t always work on their own.


WEATHER WARS! Running a Mega Charizard Y up against a Politoed had some funny results, as both parties constantly swapped Pokémon to stay on top of the weather game. Also the poor lad had inappropriately named Pokémon. He would have been disqualified even if he won! Read the rules, kids!


This battle shows the importance of accuracy moves; a fatal missed High Jump Kick did not help the opponent here, and in the end they were simply unable to stall out the might of Tyranitar and Garchomp, even with the Burn status.


Set up moves such as Belly Drum can be absolutely devastating if you can provide an opening for yourself! Intimidate provides support along with Fake Out allowing the Azumarill to get a huge attack boost, and a number of Aqua Jets win the match. The opponent should have probably tried to focus on the Azumarill some more…


A Trick Room team against a Rain Dance team made for a lot of conflicts here. My Azumarill here was a real hero in hitting hard, and once their 5-turn Trick Room ended I had the rest of the running. Charm was used often to diminish any possible Lickilicky Explosions from ruining the day (as experienced in an earlier battle after a lucky predictive Charm). Priority attacks also helped a lot.


A casual double battle. I had forgotten about Absol’s Mega ability, but luckily it didn’t backfire too badly for myself in using Charm anyhow. Rain helped my Ludicolo outspeed, and luckily giving a few extra EVs in HP to it that same morning proved vital in this fight.


For those fans of single battles, a gimmick team battle! Here I used my six Ludicolo team that was designed for doubles; nonetheless they managed to outlast the other side and net a close win.

In closing, it was a fun event all in all. While a lack of any giveaways or merchandise for sale was slightly disappointing, it was good fun to go along with friends and support them in battles, and just have fun discussing Pokémon with other people. If you want to have fun trying out a team, meet other Pokémon fans, and even have a chance to win something, then consider going to one if you can!


Written by bobandbill
Battles codes and summaries by bobandbill, Chris_the_Com, Kellie the Sexy Khaleesi and Shinx
Pictures by bobandbill and Yoda
Edited by An-chan, Bay Alexison, bobandbill and Slayr231

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply