Prepare for trouble, and most definitely make it double!

I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaack! Did you miss me? Because I missed you, PUCL. But during my first year of teaching – always the most stressful by far – I unfortunately did not have the time to write articles regularly; condemnable lesson planning and such.

But now it’s summer! Which means summer vacation! Which means I have time to write again! Plus now that I have an inventory of lesson plans for future years, I have more time in general going forward, translating to more time for hobbies like Pokémon and PUCL in general.

And just coming back from PUCLcon ’16, I have a Tailwind behind me, motivating me to produce at Double speed!

Which brings us to our topic: PUCLcon. Now, you may be saying to yourself: “But SublimeManic, why are you talking about PUCLcon in Double Trouble when it should be about the VGC and Doubles?” If this is the case, I would say PUCLcon happens at the US National Championships, silly Zangoose; I got to see the VGC US National Championships go down live! And it was gloriously exciting to see go down in person.

And there will be plenty of time in the future to discuss it and other aspects of the VGC in the future. This week, I wanted to take a moment to honor and discuss the power of community to create something wholly greater than the sum of its parts. That is what I observed attending PUCLcon this year as well as the US National Championships this past weekend.

When you think about it, nothing about any aspect of Pokémon requires interacting in person with other people no matter what part of it interests you. You can watch the anime online and on TV (I’m rewatching the Indigo League on Netflix with my boyfriend who has never seen it before, myself), play the Trading Card Game online, and battle other players online.

In fact, if you prefer a singles six-on-six battle format such as Smogon’s OU tier, you presumably play it on Pokémon Showdown which is an entirely online experience which provides a huge variety of formats to play in. And playing on the cartridges can be a completely solo experience. Even if you love the VGC you can play it on your cartridge and even participate in its official events via regular online tournaments and challenges. Really, if the Pokémon Company wanted to, they could make all of their events occur entirely online with no need to host Championships at convention centers around the world. It would save people a lot of money in travel costs to compete at Worlds for those without a travel stipend, certainly.

So why don’t they do that? Aside from the huge opportunity to turn a profit from their temporary Pokémon Centers, because of the power of people. And as a wise woman once said, “people who need people are the luckiest people in the world.” Trust Babs on this one. The Pokémon Championships occur in person to the extent that they do (in Japan a lot more of it actually is online) because of the power of a community. And the Pokémon Company recognizes that and fosters it. Old interviews with various top VGC players all have them stating their favorite part about Pokémon is the community and the friends they have made through it and people they have gotten to know because of it. I imagine this is also true for participants in the TCG tournament, considering it broke the record for attendance this year (even after capping the number of people allowed to participate). So no, Thatch, I don’t think VGC 16, with all its acknowledgeable faults, is killing competitive Pokémon because the competitive community has value which can carry it through lesser-luster formats. Even through the Darkest of Voids.

And that power people possess when they come together was all the more tangible within PUCL at PUCLcon specifically. It’s Thatch picking you up from the airport after midnight after multiple trips there during the day. It’s Lord Jushiro helping you put together a deck to compete in a standard format TCG tournament the next day. It’s Dr.Shamu loaning you multiple Pokémon EX cards when you literally learned how to play the TCG the day before so you can participate in the Pokémon Triathlon event. It’s loaning someone your game cartridges or even your 3DS itself so they can participate, too. It’s trading almost-perfect Pentagon Legendary Pokémon to those who don’t have them for VGC events, and it’s breeding and Super Training freshly hatched Pokémon to help someone finish their Little Cup team. It’s staying up later than you want to in order to finish making everyone’s PUCL T-shirts so they can go home with a piece of PUCL’s beautiful heart and soul due to what went into making them all.

It’s something as big and grandiose as everyone chipping in to buy Thatch and Misty a truly unique wedding gift or replacing Lord Jushiro’s lost 3DS, but it can also be simple as letting someone open your booster packs with you to share in the joy of opening a pack of Pokémon cards. It’s coming together from the North, South, East, West, down the street, and from as far as Alaska, Canada, and even Italy to share and create memories with each other.

Never underestimate the simple but powerful act of coming together with others. It’s what has made the VGC as successful as it is, and it is what made PUCLcon one of the best weekends of my life.

I’m not the only one. Until next time, I’m blasting off again.