Baek to Baek Wins – An Interview with James Baek

James “Ja2015-11-15 17.42.32messpeed1” Baek is an up and coming player to join the ranks of the Masters division. Before playing in the Masters division, James got through the LCQ and qualified for the World Championships in 2014 during his last year playing in the Senior Division. Although this past season was his first time playing in Masters, he still placed 2nd at Madison Regionals (losing to Collin “TheBattleRoom” Heier), made Day 2 at US Nationals as well as Day 2 at the World Championships. James also has a big presence online and regularly streams on Twitch at

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me today James! Let’s start off by having you introduce yourself to all the readers.

I’ve been playing VGC ever since it first started in 2008 but I started playing Pokémon competitively in 2014 and qualifying for Worlds in the same year. In 2015, I was able to make day 2 of the Pokémon World Championships as a 1st year Master and now I’m on the hunt for my 3rd Worlds Invite in a row.

Your winning team consisted of Landorus-T, Thundurus-I, Kangaskhan, Clefable, Volcarona, and Azumarill. It’s a bit uncommon to see Volcarona and Clefable in VGC right now. Why did you choose them?

Volcorona is a Pokémon that is uncommon in VGC but whenever piloted by a skilled player, it ends up doing very well. The most notable team I can remember is Ian Comb’s Nationals team which probably would’ve made Top 8 at Nationals, my friend/apprentice Jake Skurchak used the same team to make the Top 8 of the Senior World Championships, Hideyuki used Volcorona to get 2nd in the Masters division of the Pokémon World Championship and Blake Hopper just won Houston Regionals with Volcorona a few weeks ago so it definitely is a strong Pokémon. My Pokémon friends from Korea and Japan were talking to me how good Bulky Kangaskhan was and since it definitely did do well at the Pokémon World Championship, I wanted to try taking a very common core which is Kangaskhan and Volcorona and see how it did with a Bulky Fake Out Kangaskhan as compared to a Standard Jolly Kangaskhan.

Clefable is a cool Pokémon that is unique because it gets Follow Me and the ability Unaware. After using Clefairy to great success at Madison Regionals and US Nationals last year, I really do love using Follow Me and redirection in general. I wasn’t liking Amoonguss because a lot of people were preparing for Amoonguss such as using Knock Off on Belly Drum Azumarill and most Pokémon are now using the item Safety Goggles which makes the user ignore the Spores and Rage Powders which is Amoonguss’s job. I would’ve gone back to using Clefairy but I really wanted the ability Unaware because it is a great call in the metagame right now with so many set up Pokémon such as Kangaskhan and Azumarill. Ice Beam was also a move I wanted because I wanted the ability to either do heavy damage or knock out certain Pokémon such as Landorus-T and Salamence.

Throughout the tournament did you face any matches that you were sure you were going to lose but somehow managed to turn it around?

Not really, all my matches were going pretty straight forward. I figured out my win condition, visualized what the game would go like and then played with that in mind. I guess one game that went wrong was my 3rd round opponent against Scott Morris where he crit my Kangaskhan with Low Kick first turn but I knew the game was over from there.

How long did it take to make this team? Or did you come up with it the morning of the tournament?

This was an edited version of my Regionals team that I brought to Lancaster regionals and since I knew most of the concepts I’ve been technically playing this team for about a month and a half (maybe 2 months now). All I did was make a few edits the morning of the tournament since I wanted to make sure I could deal with the New York standards.

What do you like most about playing Pokémon?

I think the best part of Pokémon is the community. I get to be friends with people all around the globe because of it and Pokémon can just bring us all together. Our battles reflect our styles and is the way we communicate. Win or lose, as long as I’m having a good time with my friends, it makes it well worth it.

What do you do in your spare time beside playing Pokemon?

School and mainly YouTube. I like playing video games, reading manga and watching anime like most teens these days. I try to focus on YouTube and making new content to help players develop their skills whether it is one of my metagame videos, my VGC Tips series or just battles on Battle Spot.

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