Morning Thoughts: How Competitive 4th Generation Pokemon helped me Transition to Professional League of Legends.
Before I go deeper into it, im going to give my first introduction to Pokemon, not even competitive but some of what started it all. I was really young, maybe 5 or 6. I used to play on my mothers Pokemon Red for Game boy color whenever she was at work which was pretty often. There was one night where my babysitter was interested in what I was playing,so I showed her Pokemon. Now keep in mind, I had never played through the game myself. My Mother was a bit of a gamer and had done almost all of it herself, I just liked leveling her Pokemon. So something terrible happened, I can feel the fear sinking in my stomach even now when thinking back to this day. She wanted to try on her own… Me being a naive child thought that, “Well if I press new game it’ll give me a extra file to play on.” (I know everyones probably screaming at the screen DONT DO IT!) But it was done… Pressed new game and not until she got home from work did I even realize that it deleted her file, because she came to me. (IM SORRY MOM !! 😢) She was upset at first but in the end not too much, she said she enjoyed playing through and wouldn’t mind doing it again. What it did do was open the chance for me to play through with her & became my first formal Pokemon experience & one I cherish. She got me a N64 that same year for us both to play on, Pokemon stadium & her personal favorite Pokemon Snap( I also loved playing Smash for the N64). We even had the controller attachments so you could play your Pokemon Red through Pokemon Stadium …oof, the nostalgia. (I still have it all to this day.) But Stadium was really big for me, I enjoyed the competition & having to learn all the intricacies. When I was around 11 and moved from Florida to NJ there wasn’t a lot of people in my area that really had the same interests from my old friend groups. In Florida my neighborhood was filled with gamers & where I had moved it just wasn’t the case. So I went off to search the internet. I still was using the original Nintendo DS, the big clunky one that seemed like it was a god damn Nokia they way it refused to break. I was looking for people to battle on forums, it was actually a bit difficult at the time. Eventually I came across a site called “Friendcodes” & from there my competitive drive through Pokemon was developed. The first person I ever met on that site was Ben, No not Ben from twitter. He’s the one who was my original mentor & we literally spent hours on end after I finished school battling ( I never won..) Trying different set ups, running the same teams, theory crafting. It might sound odd to say to some, but these were honestly some of my best memories outside of traveling with family, Gaming. Eventually we swapped to the then popular Battle Simulator “Pokemon Online” as Smogon hadn’t really even been close to coming out with a working simulator or one worth using. This took battling & mental training to a whole new level. Within minutes you could Create an entire new line up, entire different builds, compositions. It was all the benefit of battling without breeding or raising. Not worrying about IV’s or EV’s which was a game changer for time & practice. But this began the core of what I attribute to not only my success in League of Legends in regards to Strategy but to competitive play as well.
I’ve spoken about it a few times, but never in it’s entirety or even given a small breakdown on Pokemons Strategic side. To people who may be unfamiliar with the game and as to how a something like “Pokemon” could help me make the transition all I have to say is Competition.
Competition as a concept has always interested me, whether im directly competing or assisting others in competition it’s something that’s really been a priority & importance in my life. I played Soccer when I was younger & my only other way to feed the hunger for competition was gaming. Outside of your normal run through Pokemon has a Strategic side, a competitive scene too! Some of you are probably giggling at the thought of it, but it’s true! It demands you to have an open mind & constantly use your brain to read & predict your opponents.
One of the biggest contributors to my success in competitive LoL was simply, 4th Generation Pokemon’s TEAM reveal. This mostly helped my ability to draft & work under pressure/ limited time… the catch is, THERE WAS NONE. Team reveal was unique to the addition of 5th Generation Pokemon & during my 4th Generation play this was non-existent. What the game demanded of you was the ability to solve puzzles, every single game. As soon as the game started you were met with the opponents “Lead”. A Lead is the first Pokemon in their line up & often sets the pace/flow for their composition. It will either help that individual pull more information from you or create punishment if you try to force them to reveal more in the shape of Hazzards. A popular Lead for some time were anyone capable of setting up one of three Hazzards. Stealth Rocks, Spikes, And Toxic Spikes. The punishment is, if your lead is incapable of killing off the Hazzard user you’re forced to switch to something that can and this allowed them one free turn no punishment where they now set up hazzards & at the same time you’ve revealed two pokemon now to their one. The reason this is so important and was such a very powerful & amazing game design for battle approach is that to give yourself a higher chance of success you needed to be capable of figuring out the enemies composition as soon as possible. This gave yourself the most time/ best chance of beating it before the enemy does. This overlaps to League of Legends drafting in many ways, one thats not so obvious is flex picks.
Flex picks relate to this style of 4th gen battle because on top of being pressed for time in having to break down & solve what your opponents goals in draft phase are no Pokemon was forced into a unique build or EV spread. What I mean by this is that, every Pokemon has a list of moves its capable of learning so even if you see something for face value you don’t know it’s intentions. In this case it would be flexing to different lanes in relation to LoL. In pokemon it’s trying to understand it’s move set either based off previous information shown in the players team or by waiting & giving the opponent time to get the upper hand on you only to ensure you’re correct, both of which also carry over to LoL. Sometimes you have dual job Pokemon where they are mixed attackers & something you perceived would be a Special Attack primary Pokemon is actually Dual, Attack & Special attack. Making it capable of catching you off guard MUCH like flex picks have the ability to. (This is in relation to EV spread) EV’s are like stat points that help power your Pokemon and their abilities.
The last thing i’m going to talk about is Predictions. This carries over not only to Draft phase and what we just spoke about but in game adaptation on the individual player level & as a team unit. If you played Pokemon at the highest level, at times it was possible you could be predicting 10+ turns in advance. But it’s only possible as you received enough information to do so. You can have your gameplan start developing to win your match as soon as the leads are revealed but this would be subject to constant change and adaptation as more information is revealed to you by the opponent. You have to still account for what your opponent is processing from the information you choose to show them. It’s quite literally a battle of wits & at the very least you have to expect your opposition is as good as you, never less,always with the chance to be better than you. Reading your opponent has relations all throughout League & many forms of competition. Whether its laning phase & player movement,trading, jungle pathing, all the way to your team units macro play & team fights.
Theres so much you can cover on this topic but these are just a couple things that really stand out & I’d like to share with some of you. I encourage any individual who works in LoL as a Staff member to a team & even players to try and pick it up. At the very least it’s a good exercise that doesn’t demand huge amounts of time as battles with simulators are short enough to be done in minutes sometimes. Great for in between Queue times or if you just want to do some brain training. Sorry for my writing, just a little something to read through on this morning if it peeks your fancy! Thanks for reading!