Today we had the opportunity to interview the North America International Championships fiery runner-up Amedee Graham to learn more about his Pokémon career as well as his fighting spirit.
: Tell us a bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you enjoy doing?
: I’m Graham Amedee, aka Ammodee, and I’m a competitive VGC player from the Brisbane Buzzwoles in Australia. I enjoy being physically active. I love playing soccer, I enjoy swimming, and you will always catch me doing a workout at the gym.
: How did you get into Pokémon, and what are the memories of your first experiences with it like?
: I remember my parents bought me a Game Boy Colour and Pokémon Red when I was about 5 years old. I always enjoyed the grind to train my Pokemon to be strong enough to become the in-game champion. I remember my dad used to play Pokémon Red as well, and he would brag about beating the Elite Four with his Pokémon (since they were 10 levels lower than the Elite Four’s Pokémon).
: You seem to be all about the grind as a person, admirably working your way up towards any given goal. Have you always been this driven? And has this influenced your VGC career?
: I have always been a driven person. Ever since I was a kid, my family raised me to work hard. For example, I would always set the alarm for 5 AM to do my swimming training. I have always wanted to work hard and go the extra mile. This has certainly influenced my VGC career; I will always find the time to improve my teambuilding and game play. Sometimes I’ll set the alarm earlier in the morning to practise VGC before commencing my day.
: Which generation of the Pokémon main-series games is your favourite and why?
: The day I got my Game Boy Advance and Pokémon Sapphire for my birthday is one of my favourite memories. I remember countless hours of joy playing that game. I loved everything about the game, including the storyline, all the in-game music, and the Pokémon that you could catch.
: Which Pokémon is your favourite generally, and which is your favourite to use competitively?
: My favourite Pokemon in general is Buzzwole. I love how muscular it is, and I think that it’s so cool how it flexes a front double bicep before it faints. My favourite Pokémon in competitive use is Mega Charizard X. I loved using it in VGC 2018, where I had a unique set consisting of Sky Drop, Tailwind, Roar, and Flare Blitz.
: How and when did you discover the official VGC circuit?
: Back in 2015, my brother had found me playing Battle Spot Singles on Pokémon Showdown. I said that I love how there is online laddering. Paulo then told me that if I liked the competitive aspect, I should start playing Doubles battles in VGC. Ever since then, we both spent time building teams to compete with at live competitions.
: What was your first tournament like, and what team did you bring?
: My first tournament was Brisbane Regionals in 2015. I went 4-3 with a team consisting of Mega Gengar, Whimsicott, Zapdos, Garchomp, Talonflame, and Empoleon. I had no idea how to play. I pretty much gave my opponent my Nintendo DS to set up the battle. My opponent was very shocked at losing to me that day. I remember accidentally Dragon Clawing a Sylveon slot, thinking that it would do approximately 5%, however he switched into a Garchomp. Later that, day I realised that Fairy is immune to Dragon, haha.
: What do you like most about being a part of VGC?
: Being a part of the Brisbane Buzzwoles. We have the best community where we strongly encourage participation, helping one another, and, most importantly, developing and maintaining strong friendships. You will always find a player willing to lend their Nintendo DS, trade Pokémon, or educate a newer players in VGC.
: Would you have reached the place you’re at now without the support of your friends and the Buzzwoles?
: Not at all. The Brisbane Buzzwoles have been the best support for me. They are always encouraging, and they are always willing to give me quality practise and preparation for big events. They are seriously the best VGC group, and I recommend anyone to join our group if you are keen to join the best VGC family.
: What do you think could be improved in VGC?
: Improving the local scene participation. I’d love to see competitions that give more incentive for casual players to participate. I would also love to see Pokémon advertise the competitive scene a bit more. I, for one, never knew there was a competitive scene, even though I played the game on console. It would be awesome to see if they could have a campaign and a multiplayer mode for the new Pokémon Sword and Shield.
: You recently placed second at the North American International Championships, just missing out on first place in a tense set against Wolfe Glick. How do you feel about this impressive feat?
: I was stoked to receive CP, let alone be the finalist. I was down on myself with how I played in the finals against Wolfe, but I am so proud of my run throughout the Swiss rounds and my top cut matches.
: Wolfe Glick is a renowned player and has made quite the splash in the last few months. What did you think about facing him?
: I knew that any match against Wolfe was going to be difficult, considering his range of achievements. I also knew this battle was going to be especially tough, since he could figure out every piece of information about my team. Nevertheless, I was so excited to play on the big stage against a VGC giant like Wolfe Glick himself.
: In your own view, what lead you to success at this tournament?
: The creation of the team. I take pride in building unique team cores and developing a play style where I gain momentum through offensive pressure. I had many little techs which helped me unexpectedly win games, like Role Play on Nihilego. I love putting my opponent on the spot to see how they can adjust to beat my teams.
: What were you expecting to face in the tournament, and how did this influence your preparation?
: I was expecting to see a lot of the following two archetypes: Xerneas and Primal Groudon, as well as Mega Rayquaza and Primal Kyogre. These two common cores influenced my preparation by making me put in options to support my weather and speed control.
: Could you give us some examples of options you added to your team specifically against these two archetypes?
: Nihilego was added to help me deal with Xerneas Groudon teams. Nihilego would normally be brought late game, and having Role Play and Acid Spray helped me gain weather control and gave me extra offensive pressure. Assault Vest Tapu Koko was used against Primal Kyogre and Mega Rayquaza teams. Tapu Koko would also normally be brought late game, where it could come in un-Intimdated and either OHKO max HP Primal Kyogre with Wild Charge, or let me Protect my Primal Kyogre as I go for Electroweb (for when I knew their Mega Rayquaza was going to Dragon Ascent). I would be faster than Rayquaza the following turn, letting Kyogre outspeed and hit it with an Ice Beam.
:Your restricted duo, consisting of a Lunala and Primal Kyogre, wasn’t a common choice prior to the event. What inspired you to use this combination?
: The fact that Lunala and Primal Kyogre was not considered a strong core was why it became a personal challenge for me to obtain a result at a major with it. I always dream about building non-standard teams and showcasing them on stream.
: Were there other non-standard cores you had in mind? If so, what was the deciding factor in choosing the one you did?
: Lunala and Primal Kyogre has been the only core on my mind. I really enjoy using both of these restricted. The fact that this wasn’t a well-developed core made me even more determined to invest time into strengthening the team.
: Do you believe this archetype to be the strongest in the format? If not, which one is better and why?
: I’d love to say that Lunala and Primal Kyorgre is the strongest core. However, it certainly needs specific support Pokémon to make the archetype function properly, and winning matches is difficult without prior experience with the team. I’m going to have to say that Primal Kyogre and Mega Rayquaza is by far the strongest archetype. This is based off of results from recent major tournaments.
: One of the Pokémon on your team was adored by those watching you play, with some even comparing it to Sejun Park’s Pachirisu from the 2014 World Championships. What lead you to use Mega Medicham, and how do you feel it performed during the event?
: I originally had Medicham in the team with Role Play to maintain Primal Kyogre’s weather. Mega Medicham performed amazingly, except for in the finals. I love using Lunala, and the offensive pressure between Medicham and Lunala was phenomenal throughout the competition. Fake Out support was amazing for gaining speed control, for instance. My favourite damage calculation was -2 Attack High Jump Kick being able to OHKO Incineroar. Mega Medicham was able to OHKO Yveltal and Primal Kyogre with minimal bulk, too.
: Are there other Pokémon you currently believe are overlooked and should be considered in your eyes? If so, which ones and why?
: Mega Mawile is quite overlooked. It gets Intimidate before Mega Evolving, and having the Ability Huge Power when Mega Evolved means it can threaten massive amounts of damage. It is an excellent option for damaging Mega Rayquaza, Yvetal, and Xerneas. Mega Mawile can also be a very good option for a Trick Room-oriented team.
Competitive Skills Questions
: How do you build your teams, and do you have any advice for those struggling to make consistent teams in the current format?
: I build my teams based on achieving speed control, offensive pressure, and options to shut down my opponent’s set-up. My number one advice is to persist. If you want to be serious about competing, you’ve got invest in to building a strong team. Try to think outside the box, and always record how you win and lose. Most importantly, don’t focus on the result. Focus on the journey to achieve the result. It’s a kids’ video game, so have fun.
: According to you, what is the best way to improve your in-game play?
: I have many areas where I can improve my gameplay. If I want to be the best, I need to learn to not play as riskily as I have done until now. I also definitely need to learn how to optimise some aspects of defensive play, too.
: If you could give a new player one piece of advice, what would it be?
: Don’t just focus on winning games, focus on understanding gameplay. Find your local VGC scene, or join the VGC chat on Pokémon Showdown. Having a network to teambuild and practice games with will not only improve you as a player, but you will also make new friends and bond over a mutual interest.
: Thank you for your time and insight! Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
: It has been my pleasure to share my insight. I know there are some players are out there that struggle to find a VGC community. The Brisbane Buzzwoles welcome every person at any skill level. We aim to grow the community and ensure that everyone has fun playing such a fantastic game!