It’s night before the Dallas Regional Championships, and Drew Nowak is trying to squeeze in some practice with a last-minute Pokémon team. Despite not fully understanding the intricacies of the new team, he rises above hundreds and wins the entire tournament. A couple months later, he uses a last-minute team again and takes top four at the St. Louis Regional Championships.
For those who don’t follow competitive Pokémon, it may sound as if Nowak just got lucky. Most players spend anywhere from a few hours to weeks building, refining and practicing with a Pokémon team before bringing it to a live event. Even if his last-minute team is well-built, surely a good player should be able to defeat an opponent who is still feeling a team out, right?
As it turns out, constant preparation and practice aren’t of central importance in competitive Pokémon. Some players understand the game so well that they can outplay their opponents with a team that was literally just handed to them.
How it’s pulled off
While last second teams have worked out for Nowak in 2017, that’s not how he prefers to operate.