The "Pokémon Online" is a great tool to practice for Pokémon tournaments. I use it all of the time to prepare for nationals this year. However, it isn't a perfect replica of what you are going to see when the VGCs, or any other tournament, rolls around. Here are three things that Pokémon Online can't quite prepare you for.
Chapter 1: Unorthodox Teams, Or: As I Like to Call them, "Squirly Teams!"
The majority of the players on Pokémon Online mean business. That's why it's a great place to practice, as you are playing against the best of the best. However, you should make sure that your team not only performs well against the toughest trainers, but also the middle-of-the-road ones. Sure, Scrafty isn't going to be used very much because of Hitmontop, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't have a Pokémon that can take care of a Dark Type. Sure, you most likely won't see a Tailwind team, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't run Taunt on one of your leads. The last thing you want to happen at Indiana, or, Arceus forbid, at the world tournament in Hawaii, is for your top tier team to lose against a mediocre one because you only prepared for the most common of threats. This is an interesting balance to have to maintain, because you SHOULD prepare for the common threats. They are, after all, common. The problem arises when your team only serves as a hard counter to those threats, and not as a fully functional team. In other words, you should have checks for what you expect to see, while simultaneously constructing a team that is decent against whatever your opponent throws at you.
Chapter 2: Common Courtesy, Or: Because Being Nice is Kind Of Important
After a match of Pokémon Online concludes, your automated win or lose message will display, and you close your battle window, never to see that person until the next time you battle. This isn't the case in a real tournament. You will face your opponent, and then have to actually communicate to this person. Shake his/her hand. Congratulate them if he/she won, compliment him/her if not. It would be quite an awkward wait for a tournament employee if after the match you made a fool of yourself or were somehow rude to your opponent. Yikes! I can't even imagine that. Moral of the story: Don't be a jerk after a match.
Chapter 3: Nerves, Or: And I Don't Mean the Terrible "Unnerve" Ability
If you are anything like me, a high stakes battle sets you on edge a little bit. And it feels great. I imagine this is the reason atheletes enjoy hitting each other with bats, or whatever it is they do. The pressure feels good, especially when you are winning. However, you should try to keep calm, for a few reasons. First, you don't want to make a rookie mistake. It's easy to get caught up in things and not actually think before your move, so fight against that tendency. Second, while Pokémon Online has a "cancel" button if you make a move you didn't mean to that gives you another choice as long as you hit it before your opponent locks in. As we all know, there isn't that feature in game. If you hit Protect instead of Close Combat, you are using Protect, no "ifs," "ands," or "Mandabuzz" about it. Even though that endorphin rush might feel great, make sure to keep a good head on your shoulders. This is the part where you go down to the comment section and make fun of me for getting excited over Pokémon matches. I'm sorry if I actually get enthusiastic about something every once in a while. Hipsters.
That's it folks. I hope this helps you prepare!