Any Pokémon fan with an iota of game knowledge knows why Ash Ketchum is always destined to fail. His fatal flaw lies in his blind faith in his best friend Pikachu—who for all his will and courage—was born into a body with pitiful base stats.
But what if there were a real life Ash Ketchum, one who actually had a brilliant mind to match his fearless heart? Then, maybe, with his faithful friend in hand, they might finally reach the end of Victory Road.
Enter Sejun Park, 2014 World Champion.
In the most famous Pokemon battle ever to be streamed, Sejun sent forth Pachirisu—Diamond and Pearl’s regional version of Pikachu—to face his opponent’s team of pseudo-legendary beasts and dragons. Pachirisu, with its low stats and unassuming demeanor, had previously never been used in a competitive setting of this scale. Despite this, Sejun managed to harness what talents Pachirisu did have to create one of the most recognizable teams to date. As a result, the pivotal team-member enthralled Pokémon fans, who immediately inundated Sejun with fan art and messages of support. To this day, Sejun’s Pachirisu is widely regarded as the most creative and distinguishable Pokémon in VGC history.
While it would be easy to submit his résumé of accomplishments as a testament to his skill, simply listing off accomplishments would not do justice to Sejun’s abilities as a team builder. In order to truly understand how Pachirisu came to be, we have to dig deeper into Sejun’s past and explore the genius that is Sejun.
2013 was the first year that the general VGC community acknowledged Sejun’s team building prowess. The 2013 metagame had consisted of mostly slow, defensive Pokémon such as Cresselia, Tyranitar, and Heatran. To take advantage of these lumbering behemoths, Sejun innovated the combination of Breloom and Liepard. Even though the first half of this combination, Breloom, had middling speed and relatively low base stats, it was still able to outspeed and immobilize a majority of the metagame with its signature Spore attack. To support Breloom, Liepard was utilized for its disabling moves such as Fake Out and Swagger against faster targets. In addition, Liepard’s Dark-type Foul Play attacks were able to cover Breloom’s Psychic weakness. Because the Sleep status was stronger in 2013’s generation of games and anti-Sleep items such as Safety Goggles did not exist at the time, opponents found Sejun’s combination even harder to stop. Sejun eventually went on to win the Korean Nationals with the such a team, but his true accomplishment that year was gaining the respect of the international VGC community.
Sejun once again reminded us of his brilliance with his Rain-based Ludicolo/Politoed team at the 2014 Korean Nationals. Though Rain had been tested in the beginning of the 2014 season, it was dismissed by the community at large, partially due to the huge nerf it received in Pokémon X and Y. Traditional Rain teams in early 2014 had often paired the Rain-setter, Politoed, with Swift Swimmers that doubled their speed in the Rain, such as Kingdra. Prior to the Korean Nationals, however, Sejun predicted that Pokémon such as Garchomp, Salamence, and Rotom be some of the most popular picks going into the event and prepared accordingly.
Eschewing the traditional Swift Swimmer, Kingdra, Sejun chose an alternative in Ludicolo, a Water/Grass type Pokémon that was able to use the combination of Hydro Pump, Energy Ball, and Ice Beam to hit all of the previously mentioned common picks for super effective damage. In addition, Sejun supported his Rain team with Pokemon such as Zapdos and Garchomp, who could easily take care of the biggest counters to his Rain mode including Amoonguss, Tyranitar, and various Flying Pokémon. With this combination, Sejun took the Korean Nationals Championship once again, clenching his spot at the Worlds Championships later that year where he was destined to make history.
This brings us, of course, to the most famous example of Sejun’s ability to read, predict, and outplay the metagame, his 2014 World Championship team. Coming off a hot run that included both Regional and National titles, Sejun created one of the most recognisable teams in VGC history, the infamous team featuring Pachirisu. Sejun’s team-building process began with the idea of using Gyarados as his “Mega” Pokémon of choice. However, he quickly realized that he needed a redirection user in order to support Gyarados as it was weak to many common Electric and Grass attacks. Originally, Sejun had considered the Grass mushroom, Amoonguss, for this slot, but it just wasn’t effective against the numerous Safety Goggles Zapdos and Assault Vest Ludicolo Sejun expected to be at Worlds (partially due to Sejun having popularized these Pokémon just a few months prior).
Thus, Sejun looked through all the other possible redirection move users and ended up with Pachirisu, a Pokémon with strong matchups against the likes of Zapdos and Ludicolo. While it certainly isn’t the most powerful of Pokémon, Pachirisu had just the right movepool, ability, and typing to fill the microscopic niche that Sejun found for it. Throughout the final battles of the tournament, Pachirisu not only contributed to the success of the team, but also seemed to be its MVP, tanking powerful attack after powerful attack while its teammates dished out the damage. Sejun’s 2014 Championship match can be viewed here.
“There [were] many people [who] talked to me [after. They said] ‘I was very inspired by your tournament win and I started playing VGC since that Pachirisu.’” Sejun said. “I really feel… appreciated and feel happy when I hear that. It looks like I did a good thing for the community.”
However, Sejun’s remarkable VGC career slowed after his World Championship victory. Having achieved it all, Sejun took a step back from the game in 2015. As the defending champion, Sejun automatically qualified for Worlds, but finished 2015 with an uncharacteristically ordinary result.
“To be honest, that year was the year I played Pokémon so little….I didn’t have a big motivation because I had a World Championship title already” Sejun said. “I ended up with a common team at Worlds so [I] got a mediocre record. That year was a pretty bad year for me.”
Whilst competing, it was clear Sejun’s heart wasn’t in it that year. The hiatus had begun.
2016 saw Sejun disappear off the VGC radar. Not long after the rules were announced, he had made a decision to sit out the year’s competition once again due to the overly centralizing metagame he had perceived would occur.
“Next year’s regulation for World Championships came out. It was GS rules, which included Xerneas and Groudon” Sejun said. “I was really disappointed because I knew [it was a] really unhealthy meta. It brings Dark Void and Geomancy. So I was again not very motivated.”
Again, Sejun decided to take yet another year off competing in VGC. Sejun did not, however, step completely away from competitive Pokémon. Instead, he took his love for the franchise to the Trading Card Game, where he managed to achieve a 2nd place finish at the Korean Nationals, qualifying himself for the TCG World Championship.
Luckily for the VGC community, however, VGC 17’s rules have caught Sejun’s attention for the first time in three years.
“After the two years I didn’t play well, this year I feel pretty much motivated as compared to previous years.” Sejun said. “I like the regulations and there [are] many people who support me. And it is fun! It is fun to play this meta!”
Sejun’s comeback has started off strong, as he placed second at his first grassroots event in Korea with Tapu Fini, a Pokémon that was rarely used at the time. Soon after, he achieved a #1 ladder ranking on the official VGC ladder. When his team was revealed to the general public, Tapu Fini usage soared accordingly. Only a few short months after Sejun’s triumphant return and already, he’s sending shockwaves throughout the community. Whenever Sejun plays a major event, all eyes are on him as we collectively ask: What will he come up with next?
It is tradition in the Kanto region for each Pokémon League Champion to eventually retire from his throne. These champions would always wander the wilderness, ultimately settling at the peak of Mt. Silver to train in solitude. Legend has it that these former masters become a shell of their former selves, only to emerge when challenged by a worthy opponent. Should that opponent arrive, he will be met with a simple