The "Real" Pokémon Format: Is There One?

The first official tournament I played in, but I
had played in many unofficial ones at League before.
Over the years I have discussed my tournament experiences with many people. I've played in some really weird formats. Back in 2005 I participated in the Ultimate Frontier Brain Battle. The format was weird. You could use whatever you wanted except mythicals and you couldn't have hold items. The tournament was played via Pokémon Colosseum and the only people in attendance were either Nintendo staff or friends/family of the competitors. This was my first experience with someone suggesting there was a "real" format. Several of the players said that we should all agree to not use pokémon like Mewtwo, Groudon, Kyogre, or Rayquaza. I understood the sentiment, but I wasn't about to sacrifice my chances to someone who decided to not agree to these informal restrictions. In the end, no one followed that so I'm glad I made the right choice.

Fast forward and I learned this came from players of an online simulator. I downloaded it, and played it some, but it just wasn't for me. I played pokémon for the battles, but it wasn't the only reason I played it. Sometimes I would just breed pokémon or raise pokémon just to relax. To each their own. When online battles became a reality and the Video Game Championships began in 2009, I had no personal reason to play the simulators at all anymore.

Now, we have a splintered community of players. We have those who still play simulators and tout it as the "real" format, or the more competitive one. Then on the other side, we have those who play VGC and tout the same thing. Admittedly, VGC is the official format, but in my mind both are "real". They both exist and meet different needs. There are some who gladly play either format. I feel these people are the true competitors.

Pokémon is a fun game, when you allow it to be.
Why does there have to be one "real" format? There doesn't, honestly. There is one clearly official format and any other is unofficial, but that's not a bad thing. There are plenty of unofficial circuits for various games/sports out there. I don't understand why pokémon has to be different. In the end, it comes down to the players. There are equally toxic members in both the VGC and unofficial camps that see themselves as superior based on their personal preference. I've experienced hostility from both sides, and I used to be really upset at one side or another at any given time. However, on the other hand I've met nice people on both sides too. The more I've dealt with both sides I've come to a conclusion. It's not the formats that are the problem. The problem falls on the players. If the person is a jerk, they aren't going to naturally gravitate to one format or another. They could be a VGC Jerk or they could be a Showdown Jerk. The common denominator is they are jerks. So, it would seem my problem isn't with a format. My problem is with jerks.

I already host VGC events, as I'm a Tournament Organizer for Pokémon, but I'd gladly host unofficial tournaments if my players asked for it. I've done it in the past. I've held what I call "Type Tournaments", where players can only use pokémon of a given type that they draw randomly. I sanction them too, just as "Fun" format. They aren't Premier events, but they are meant to expand the game to people who just want to come out and have a fun time.

I mean, why play if it's not fun?


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