Meet the 2012 Pokémon Video Game National Champions!
01 July, 2012 in Play! Pokémon
After an amazing weekend of battles, find out who took home the top honors.
This year’s roster of Pokémon Video Game National Champions includes two repeat champs—Wolfe Glick and Aaron Zheng—and newcomer Abram Burrows in the Junior Division. All three victors endured two tough days of battle against the nation’s top Pokémon Trainers. Here is a look at the tournament’s top finishers:
Junior Division Champion: Abram Burrows (Santee,
Junior Division Runner-Up: Brian Hough (Ann Arbor, MI)
Senior Division Champion: Aaron Zheng (Fresh
Senior Division Runner-Up: Jonathan Hiller (Parkesburg, PA)
Masters Division Champion: Wolfe Glick (McLean, VA)
Masters Division Runner-Up: Joe Pulkowski (Stockton, NJ)
Trophies in hand, the National Champions sat down to discuss their victories with Pokemon.com.
Abram Burrows, Junior Division Champion
How did you do in the National Championships overall?
I won every match I played. And I dropped only one game in the best-of-three Finals.
How have you done in Pokémon video game tournaments leading up to today?
I’ve played in only one other tournament, and that was the Video Game Regionals in California. I got second place there.
What did you do to train the team that you brought?
It took a lot of time. I did a lot of training to get the stats where I wanted them to be. I practiced with different Pokémon until the last two weeks, then I started training the Pokémon I wanted to bring.
What strategies were you expecting and how did you counter them?
I thought there’d be a lot of Pokémon with Surf, so I brought Pokémon that knew Wide Guard and a lot of Electric-type Pokémon.
How did your last battle go?
I just had Pokémon that had type advantages over my opponent. Landorus was definitely the Pokémon that got the job done, for sure.
Will you make any changes to your team before the World Championships?
Maybe. I haven’t had time to think about it much!
How will you celebrate tonight?
We’re heading back to San Diego tonight. It should be a fun plane ride.
Aaron Zheng, Senior Division Champion
Congratulations on your second consecutive championship. How does it feel?
It feels amazing. Winning once was incredible; winning again... I can’t describe it in words.
What did you think of the competition level this year compared to last year?
It was definitely more difficult. I felt like I had a lot more tough matches throughout the Top 16. During that stretch I had to play last year’s Junior Division National Champion, as well as someone who I beat last year in the Finals. It’s really tough.
We talked about this a little bit a couple days ago, but now that you’ve seen the whole field, how has the expanded list of Pokémon changed the game?
Compared to all the other Nationals that I followed, the U.S. Nationals definitely had more creativity in it. I saw a lot of new Pokémon I hadn’t seen in competition before. My opponent in the Finals used Bisharp and Togekiss, which I hadn’t seen before in any other teams. So yeah, there’s a lot of different Pokémon being used in general, and that’s good.
What kinds of new strategies did you see this year?
This year there was a lot more switching out of Pokémon. Even in the first game of my Final match, my opponent and I spent a ton of time switching to try to get a better type match-up. We didn’t even do damage to each other for the first half of the game.
This year, players were allowed to take notes during play. You seemed to do it more than anyone else. Do you think it helped you?
I think it’s the reason I won, to be honest. The first thing I noted was which Pokémon my opponent was playing. And with all the switching that was going on, I was able to say, “OK, I think my opponent is going to play this...” and if I’m able to predict that correctly, it’s a major advantage to my game.
Do you think you’ll make any changes before heading to Worlds?
That’s a tough one. You know, last year I felt like I had a really strong team, and I didn’t do so well. I’ll definitely have to see and try all kinds of things.
How are you going to celebrate tonight?
I’m just going to hang out with my friends and relax!
Wolfe Glick, Masters Division Champion
You’re a repeat National Champion. How do you like the sound of that?
It’s stupendous! I never imagined I’d make it this far again. I didn’t think I had a chance, honestly. The competition has been a lot harder this year. I knew how good my opponents would be, and frankly it was a little intimidating.
How did the expanded field of Pokémon to choose from affect the difficulty in preparing?
It made it much more difficult this year because you have so many things that are very popular and very tough to counter. It’s just hard to build a team that beats everything that’s being played.
Did it also make it challenging for you to design your own team?
Definitely. I spent a good six months just trying to get a feel for what other people were playing. It felt like everything I built didn’t work. I trained with some really good people who are very strong at team building, but it still took a while.
How long have you been working on the team that you brought today?
Ever since the end of Regionals, so a little longer than a month and half. I came in second place at the Philadelphia Regionals. I came in there thinking my team was pretty good, but I hadn’t practiced with it enough. I thought the team I brought was mediocre and I got lucky.
You got a good look at what people were playing at the Regionals. Did you see anything at Nationals that took you by surprise?
I definitely did. I remember in my top-32 match I really thought I was going to lose. I might have lost except time ran out and at that time I had more Pokémon left. It was incredibly difficult. I was facing a Sableye that would usually do well against my team. It had the move Captivate, which sharply lowers the Special Attack of Pokémon of the opposite gender, and all my Pokémon were opposite this Sableye. That was hard. The girl I was facing played it very, very well.
How did your final match go?
My team is built to take my opponent by surprise, using standard Pokémon in creative ways. But after I took game one, he’d seen all my tricks. I kind of struggled in deciding how to lead off game two. I got a little lucky when he failed a double Protect at the end. I maybe didn’t play that well... I’m tired from playing all day and my opponent was really good. I’m just glad I got lucky.
Do you think you’ll make changes to your team before heading to Worlds?
Oh, definitely. I like my team because it’s very creative and original in my opinion. But it relied on surprise, and now that my matches are out there I definitely need to change it up.
We’ve heard a lot about Trainers using bluffs and decoys in this year’s tournament. What’s your take?
I’ve seen a few bluffs here and there. I really struggled against non-rain teams. I had one battle that had Politoed but only a couple other Pokémon that took advantage of its Drizzle Ability. That was probably my closest match all day. Decoys are really valuable, but in the two-out-of-three format they don’t do as well.
How do you feel about your chances at Worlds this year?
I’m just happy to be going back, honestly. I finished in sixth last year, losing to the eventual champion. That’s not a bad way to get knocked out.
How are you going to celebrate tonight?
I didn’t plan to win so I don’t really know. There was a huge blackout from a storm in my area in Northern Virginia, so I’m eager to get home to see if my power is back on!
Congratulations to our new National Champions!Return to the National Championships page for more stories from the 2012 Pokémon National Championships.