Right Down Euclid crashed Milwaukee’s Pokémon Regionals, here’s how it went

Competitive Pokémon seems like a weird thing to bring friends together. But, for me, it’s exactly what you think.
Considering how humid it was in Milwaukee, it’s fitting that the 2023 Pokémon Regional’s mascot was Groudon. Photo credit: Right Down Euclid

Last weekend, Right Down Euclid‘s committee of one took to the Third Coast to participate in one of the last remaining Pokémon Regional tournaments. Hosted in Milwaukee’s Wisconsin Center, more than 1,000 participants combined between Video Game Competition (VGC), Trading Card Game (TCG) and Pokémon Go (POGO) battled it out to be named Midwest Regional Champion. Brian Youm took first place in VGC. Australia’s Henry Brand won on the TCG side with his Gardevoir deck. Finally, the player known as Balk88 defeated KimiSui227 in the POGO Championship, winning the series 3-1.

Now that you know how it ended, you’re probably wondering how things went for Right Down Euclid, right? Well, I was eliminated fairly early into Day 1’s opening round after losing three of my first four matches. I have to give a lot of credit to my opponents Thamas, Dan and Nate – they all had great strategies on top of a wealth of experience that trumped mine. But, considering this was my first time participating in an officially sanctioned Pokémon tournament, I’ll take 350th place in a field of 614 overall competitors after finishing the tournament on a four-game winning streak.

Granted, some of the losses were self-inflicted wounds. I had no answer to a Flutter Mane or Iron Bundle that activated Booster Energy. I also changed my team from a Ting Lu-centric, tankier focus to a speed and power centered around Chi Yu and Flutter Mane one day before the tournament. So, that could have also thrown a wrench in my already nonexistent comfort level. Regardless, I learned a lot about how fierce and competitive Pokémon really is and, more importantly, had even more fun along the way with some of my closest friends.

While this was my first foray into an officially-sanctioned Pokémon tournament, this wasn’t my first rodeo playing the game competitively. In my first experience, I battled my dear friend and soon-to-be groomsman Kendall using my in-game team from Pearl and beat him when my Lumineon’s Ice Beam connected. That victory over Kendall was the first in many over him, and to this day, I’m still undefeated against him. It also was a catalyst for an experience I fell in love with and goes hand in hand with who I am today.

This may seem like a hot take, but the experience of competitive Pokémon is exhilarating. The tactical planning on the mental side of the game is where I find the most pleasure from it. But, the team-building aspect is equally enjoyable. The ability to plan around a sequence of events to maximize your opportunities all while trying to combat uncontrollable chaos, is incredibly enjoyable. Whether it’s building a Trick Room team or a squad that can stall or something based on sun or rain or sand or snow, there’s something for everyone if you’re willing to try it. It’s the ultimate opportunity for player control and creativity that affords you a lane to take chances, make mistakes, get messy, learn from them and improve.

Sure, the Pokémon series as a whole has evolved into an annual title and lost a lot of its initial charm. But, whenever a new version drops, I usually dive head first into crafting a team that I personally would have fun using. I’m sure it may seem silly to some, but if you’ve experienced it, you get it. The feeling I have about the competitive nature of what’s ultimately a children’s game is probably something you’d hear from anyone as involved as I am. That sentiment is fueled even further by the drive to win. But I wasn’t disappointed when I was eliminated in Milwaukee early into the tournament. I was fairly even-keeled because before I entered the fray, I realized the real reason I was in Milwaukee in the first place.

I started playing Pokémon in late middle school as a way to make friends. If some of you remember, I struggled to do that when I was the newest face in my hometown. It led to what eventually became my first true friendship with Kendall and so many other friends in our small, tight-knit group. Sure, we grew apart a bit as we got older, but the advent of competitive battling kept us in touch. It led to Kendall one time trying to build an Uber team centered around Parasect, who was subsequently wiped by a Groudon using Eruption. It also led me to build Uber friendships outside my original group due to a common interest in Pokémon.

Other than Kendall, Pokémon led to the creation of the Pewter Island Type Matchup School and Rowlet Observatory – a group chat between myself and my friends Sai, Ti and Alex. Sure, we all initially connected through The Chase Down Podcast‘s Discord server. But, when the Pokémon chatter became too much in there, we branched off to form the aforementioned group chat. At first, it was just talking about Sword and Shield and coordinating raids together. But that wasn’t the only thing, and eventually, we started to fill the gaps and talk with one another, becoming closer in the process.

Nowadays, to the envy of my fiance, the first thing I do when I wake up is open up the chat and say “Good Morning GamerZ” to everyone. Soon after, due to timezone differences, everyone else peppers in the same response. It’s been something that we’ve been doing since September 2019 and as of this story, there are 2,890 instances of us saying it to each other. You’re probably wondering why I’m rambling about how often I tell my friends good morning, right? The thing is, these guys were all complete and total strangers on the internet before we connected because of Pokémon. Nowadays, they’re my best friends and people I talk to daily and consider integral to my life because of Pokémon.

We’ve shared moments together, both good and bad. We saw Alex get married, we’ll be together when it’s my turn this fall and Ti’s turn will follow soon after. Of course, we spent the weekend together in Milwaukee with the central focus of competing in the Regional tournament. But, like our group chat, we filled the spaces in between with memories and laughter and grew even closer as a group. Again, this was all because of Pokémon and despite none of us winning the entire tournament, we were all just thankful to spend a few days together as a group.

So, if you’ve stuck around until the end, you now know how the Pokémon Regional tournament in Milwaukee went for Right Down Euclid. You also now know why I wasn’t too pressed over the end result either because Pokémon was why I spent time with my closest friends in Milwaukee. I hope all of you have a Pokémon of your own that serves as a common thread between you and your gamerZ. We live in far too big of a world, and it’d be incredibly lonely if you didn’t have friendships and relationships like these.

Anyways, be ready for when I win it all in 2024.

Evan Dammarell is a sports journalist covering all things Cleveland right off the shores of Lake Erie. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. You can also email him at evan@downeuclid.com. He can also be found three to five times weekly on Locked On Cavs, a part of the Locked On Podcast Network.

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