So Haris, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a 21 yr-old university student from France. I’m in Australia at the moment on a one-year exchange program and currently studying at Monash University in Melbourne.
Where in France are you from?
I’ve spent a few years living in Paris and Strasbourg, and I’ve also lived abroad in Europe. I was actually born in Brussels (Belgium) which grants me dual-citizenship, and I’ve also lived in Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina).
You mentioned you were over here on a one-year university exchange. When did the exchange start and what are you studying at University?
I’m currently doing a double-degree in Applied Mathematics & Social Studies, though I’m only focusing on the Maths side while I’m here in Australia. I arrived here last July and finish my exchange at the end of June this year.
On to the Pokemon side of things – what got you interested in VGC and when did you start playing?
My first exposure to VGC was watching the 2014 Worlds Stream – I’d received some notifications from Twitch advertising the stream and thought I’d check it out. In terms of playing VGC I started with the 2014 format but didn’t really start competing until the end of 2015.
Is there much of a VGC Scene in France?
There isn’t really a strong scene in France currently. We have a Regional at Lyon this year but in terms of Premier Challenges and other low-level tournaments there really isn’t much available. It is starting to pick up but I think it’s still a few years away from being as big as other countries in Europe.
Well, we’ve had a few events in Melbourne since you’ve been here on exchange. How many events have you been able to attend, and how well have you gone?
My first event was the Premier Challenge at Guf Werribee in November, where I finished 3-3 and missed out on getting CP. The next PC I went to was at Box Hill a week later where I finished in the Top 4.
I’ve been to a couple of events in 2016 so far. I won the PC at Box Hill in January but only managed a top 16 at the February PC there. I also attended the PokeMelbourne Tournament at the end of January where I was the runner up while also playing the International Challenge that weekend. I did OK at the International Challenge (Top 256) but was quite tired by the end of it – I played nearly all my games on the last day. Finally I went to the Mid-Season Showdown in Adelaide at the start of March, which I was able to win after going undefeated in Swiss.
With these kinds of results you’ve definitely been earning plenty of CP. Considering your nationality, what region bar do you have to hit to earn a Worlds Invite?
I started the season under the European cap, but after putting in a ticket to TCPi I’m now considered as an ‘Australian’ player for the season. While this means that I only need 200 CP to earn a Worlds invite, my results and CP from the start of the season didn’t carry over when my account was changed. As a result I only have CP from my Mid-Season Showdown win, the January International Challenge and my Top 16 at Box Hill in February.
Let’s talk about Adelaide and the team you took to the event. At the Box Hill PC and PokeMelbourne event you used a Xerneas/Groudon pairing, but for Adelaide you took something different. What inspired you to use this current team?
My team for Adelaide was M-Rayquaza/P-Kyogre/M-Gengar/Ferrothorn/Landorus-T/Crobat. I’d originally built the team for the Box Hill PC in February and made some further changes to the team based on my performance there.
The idea for the team came from a blog post on Nugget Bridge regarding the Crobat/Gengar core and it’s use as a counter-lead to ‘Big 6’-style teams. The original concept came from the Japanese player ‘catalina_penguin’ and was posted on his blog.
I ran a mixed M-Rayquaza set with Dragon Ascent/Extreme Speed/Draco Meteor/Protect with Life Orb as the item. Crobat & Gengar were ‘standard’ sets based on the blog posts while my P-Kyogre was a bulky set. I had my Landorus-T hold Choice Scarf with Earthquake/Rock Slide/U-turn/Superpower – I considered running Explosion but the power was a bit underwhelming so I kept Superpower & U-turn. If I had to pick an MVP for the weekend it would be Landorus. My Ferrothorn was also a very standard set with Power Whip/Gyro Ball/Leech Seed/Protect. I did look at running other options over Leech Seed like Thunder Wave & Knock Off but decided to keep the former. For Box Hill I had Ferrothorn hold Leftovers but for the MSS I switched over to Sitrus Berry – the extra burst healing came in handy on occasions so I don’t regret changing the item.
The team wasn’t perfect – Landorus being faster than Crobat meant that I wasn’t able to take advantage of Super Fang as much. However the team was solid enough to do what it was meant to do – get decent results at events.
What was playing in the Adelaide MSS like? Did you have any tough matches and how does it compare to the Melbourne scene?
Playing in the Adelaide MSS was a lot different than playing in the Melbourne PCs. The local metagame in Adelaide was very unsettled and as a result there were a lot of very different teams/Pokemon that showed up. This is in contrast to the Melbourne events where the local metagame conforms more to ‘standard’ VGC16 – there isn’t a huge variation in teams and trends. Overall I found it easier playing in Adelaide.
At the MSS itself I went 5-0 in the Swiss rounds, losing only two games. My Rd 5 match-up was against Luke (@Dawg_Pkmn), but he forfeited in order to conceal his team since both of us were guaranteed to cut regardless of the result. I did end up playing Luke again in Top 4 but the matches didn’t really go his way at all. In game 1 I managed to get a double-crit with Water Spout which helped me win, while I also won Game 2 due to Luke’s DS somehow D/Cing. This was unfortunate as Luke is a pretty strong player and it’s always disappointing when matches like this end due to hax or technical issues.
What’s the plan from here on onward? Do you plan to attend any Regional events or the Australian Nationals?
I will be attending the Adelaide Regional, but depending on when the other regionals are held I’m not sure if I’ll make any others. I’ll be returning to France for a few weeks in May to sit some examinations around the same time as the German Nationals – depending on time and money I may be able to sneak over there and compete. My exchange finishes at the end of June so if Australian Nationals is before then I’ll also try to make the event.
Even if I earn my World’s invite there is no guarantee I’ll be able to attend due to how expensive the trip could be, not to mention finding the time off from my studies. Ultimately my goal for the rest of the season is just to attend as many events as I can and do my best.
Well, thanks for giving us the chance to catch up and ask you a few questions about you and your victory in Adelaide. Good luck for the rest of the season and hope you enjoy the rest of your time here in Australia.