Pokemon Unite is blowing up and the new Pokemon-themed MOBA is starting to form an esports scene.
Teams are starting to pop up, including Evolution Dark. This is Evolution Gamings' starting roster for Pokemon Unite. And they will be competing in Pokemon Unite tournaments. Yes, there are Pokemon Unite tournaments as well!
The Pokemon Unite esports scene is brand new but Evolution Dark support Elizabeth Barbera has a feeling this is a game that will blow up. But for now, the 26-year-old Rhode Island resident is just excited to be part of the beginning of something potentially huge.
Inven Global chatted with Barbera about her experience climbing up the Pokemon Unite rankings and playing for a professional team.
Phase 1: Reaching Masters in Pokemon Unite
What got you into Pokemon Unite?
Well, I've always been a lifetime Pokémon fan. I basically buy any new game they put out even if it's a spinoff, so that's part of it. But I've been playing League of Legends since early 2013, ranking between high gold and mid platinum since 2015, so a Poké-MOBA was right up my alley.
What do you like about the game?
Honestly, it's hard to pinpoint a specific thing. Since it's a Pokémon game, I like it by default but I think it's really well made. The fact that all the minions are actually neutral objectives encourages early game trading — I'll always be a fan of aggression.
It also feels like every character has the potential to be good. Even if they're the lowest tier, you can climb with them if you put in the hours, so I don't feel like I need to pick and choose who to unlock.
You previously played League. What elements do you feel pokemon improved upon and which do you feel it should take note of?
I'll be honest, Unite kinda just feels like League but more simplified. I have friends that have never played MOBAS hop into League and there's just too much info to start. The shop, the roster, the summoner spells, how jungle works, etc. Not to mention the League tutorial doesn't really explain more than the basics.
But Unite? Friends with no MOBA background hop in, do the tutorials, and pretty much understand everything. And it's primarily because Unite is so new that the amount of content to learn is drastically lower than leagues. If League could make a tutorial for how to jungle, how to path properly, and an explanation of what buffs do what, I think it'd help a lot.
Which Pokemon were you immediately drawn to?
Eldegoss and Alolan Ninetales, or A9. I used to main Anivia in League, like "1 million mastery points and 1000 games on her" main so A9 was an easy character. The stuns and bonus damage against frosted characters is just Anivia but better.
Eldegoss though is just 'cause I'm a support player and she's the free support you get to pick at the start of the game.
What do you like most about your main?
Eldegoss is just insane. There are two different builds for her, one for peeling and healing, the other for engaging and stunning. The fact that you can decide in the middle of a match which you want is crazy. Both are good in my opinion but the community will scream at me if I say which I prefer.
How did you improve at your main? What are some high-level techniques you've discovered? What is the best build?
Oh, I guess I'm getting screamed at. So what I do on Eldegoss is Leaf Tornado and Cotton Spore. The community seems to be on the Pollen Puff and Cotton Guard train, which is fair, it's good. Cotton Guard is super powerful when it comes to extended team fighting and offers good AOE sustain for your team.
Meanwhile, Pollen Puff is better than Leaf Tornado but requires a team to be coordinated for it to be good. The heal on it is super delayed and team fights are super burst focused so I get more use out of leaf tornado in solo queue. Cotton Spore also having a stun is nice for peel or following up on engages. I'd recommend Leaf Tornado and Cotton Spore for solo climbing, Pollen Puff and Cotton Guard if you're queueing with friends or a team.
For items, I run Focus Band, Buddy Barrier, and EXP Share. The community is mixed on EXP Share but if you're in voice comms with your lane partner I think it's insane. Otherwise, I run Score Shield 'cause it's funny to get surprise points.
As for improving, I found that just playing games and watching better players is the best thing. My Eldegoss wasn't great until I started watching streamers play and seeing the game from their perspective helped me a lot. There are not really any insane techniques for her though, she's pretty clear-cut. Just know if you go the Pollen Puff build, your job is to heal your carry the entire game and don't mess up.
What Pokemon do you hope will come to Pokemon Unite?
I would love love love to see Ariados. Shuckle is my favorite but we already have Crustle so I gave up on that. But having a spider use a web for an AOE slow or stun, followed by poison DoT, and maybe using a web to dash to walls similar to Camille in League? I just want more bug Pokemon honestly.
Phase 2: Joining a pro Pokemon Unite team
How did you end up signing to your team? Was there a tryout?
So I was jumping between a few streamers one day while I was at work and I happened to catch Froskurinn on stream. She mentioned someone was hosting tryouts for a team and I asked how I could sign up. Her chat pointed me in the right direction. You had to be Master rank or above, which was fine because I was already top 1000 in the world.
There was a tryout. I think 18 people showed up? I don't want to go into how we did tryouts 'cause the owner asked us to stay hush-hush about it, but I think they were fair even if it was a little rushed.
Phase 3: The future of Pokemon Unite's esports scene
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