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    • By monk in On Entry Fees 21
      Recently, the competitive Pokemon scene is up in arms that events will now have a $40-$50 entry fee instead of a $10-$15 entry fee. (You can read more about the controversy here: https://themeta.killscreen.com/pokemon-twitter-outraged-rising-tournament-entry-fees/) Now I can understand the concerns of higher entry fees, but I’m disconcerted by the fact that absolutely no one the VGC community is even playing devil’s advocate, trying to look at the situation from a different angle. From my perspective, the higher entry fees are quite defensible and I want to do my best to explain why. In addition to my own initial impressions, I’ve consulted some other professionals in the eSports industry and they all seem to at least in part echo my thoughts.
      The following thoughts are rooted in my experience as a project manager, player manager, and tournament organizer for TeamLiquid, one of the premier eSports teams in the world. In this last three years, I’ve worked on a daily basis with players, tournament organizers, teams, sponsors, and game developers(eSports, community, and development departments) on a variety of titles. I’ve also worn many hats in the past as a player, caster, player manager, translator, and a TO at approximately 50 events in that time.
      My first thought is that compared to other eSport titles, players in the VGC community have little experience with the business aspect of video game tournaments. I don’t blame them at all since the scene is still very young and players don’t get the opportunity to experience the industry in a variety of positions as is much more common in the first-generation eSport titles. There’s also not that much cross-pollination between games; for instance, I’ve never heard of a VGC player retiring to become a League player. I believe this is where the disconnect on the entry fees comes from.
      When I first heard the news that entry fees were being raised to $40-$50 an event, my initial impression was surprise that it wasn’t higher previously. In eSports, the standard entry fee for a major open LAN tournament is between $50 and $120. For reference, DreamHack is the premier open tournament organizer in the world, hosting games in literally every eSport. The ticket price for a typical Dreamhack BYOC event is ~$100. A quick google search net me this link https://austin.dreamhack.com/17/tickets/ showing the entry fee being $113.37. The prize pools for these events are often fairly small as well. DreamHack Montreal, for example, and the following prize pools:
      Starcraft: $3000
      Rocket League: $4000 (requires 2 or 3 passes)
      Hearthstone: $6000
      League: $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      CS: GO:  $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      Most of these tournaments were either not broadcasted or broadcasted to an extremely small audience (sub 100 viewers). Now you may be saying that this is still a relatively major event (more akin to the current international events). And I’m sure many will point out that Pokemon tournament organizers are now charging $40 for even regional events. In that case, let’s look at the last StarCraft community LANs in the United States over the last year, events that I believe are comparable to regionals:
      Cheesedelphia 1: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 2: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3: $4,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Psistorm LAN: $1,000 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3.5: $750 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      These entry fees and prize pools seem to be very much in line with current Pokemon regionals. Players travel from all over the United States for these events and players never complain about high entry fees; they’re just glad to have open LANs to go to.
      Next, I want to address tournament organizers. For the most part, offline tournament organization is a very low-margin business, even for the most successful events. Even for the most popular titles and tournaments, costs are heavily subsidized, funded by a combination of game developers or outside sponsors. As VGC currently has no sponsors(likely due to TPCi’s strict brand protectionism, especially in their official circuit), sponsorship is not an option in this scenario. Now, I can’t speak to whether TPCi subsidizes tournament organization costs to regional events in addition to the prize pool, but if not, the new entry fees are extremely reasonable.
      I also want to address the perspective of the Pokemon company, especially the eSports/VGC department of that company. Within these game development companies, budgets get approved for each department separately, usually on an annual basis. Unless you’re Riot, the eSports budget is often tiny compared to other departments such as marketing. I imagine from what I know about TPCi that even the budget we have this year was difficult to obtain. Since as far as I’m aware, TPCi directly organizes international-level events, it’s possible that the higher entry fees  exist to offset the much larger prize pool players get to enjoy this year at the international level.
      Now, I’ve heard the argument that this higher entry fee will deter players from competing. And that lower tournament attendance equates to killing eSports in a time of such large potential growth. People are asking “why don’t we have a medium sized prize pool and medium sized entry fees instead?” My answer to that is that tournament attendance does not necessarily equate to more attention from the eSports community at all. In recent years, eSport tournaments have been moving away from open tournaments to invite tournaments or closed-off leagues (see LCS, TI, other CS + Dota majors). I would even go so far to say that the attendance lost from the higher entry fee has little to no effect on Pokemon’s health as an eSport. What does matter, however, is the higher prize pool. Both general eSports media and the mainstream media always pay attention when people are playing games for so much money. The perfect example is TI, the international multi-million dollar Dota championship every year that is actually covered by mainstream media outlets. Not only that, but a higher prize pool shows sponsors and eSports teams that TPCi is much more serious this year about becoming a mainstream eSport (in addition to all the format changes announced this year).
      Finally, I’m sure many of you will say that Pokemon tournaments are different beasts from traditional first-generation eSports tournaments. Yes, we have sponsors/teams who may pay for entry fees, but generally less than a third of the players competing in these tournaments get their entry fees comped by teams. More importantly, however, I keep hearing VGC players aspiring for their beloved game to enter mainstream eSports. This year, Pokemon has gotten closer than ever thanks to the conscience efforts of TPCi to bring the VGC circuit closer to that of a traditional eSport. VGC as it is now is closer to an true eSport than you may think, but we can’t take the good without taking the bad as well. In the end, I believe 2017 will be a big year for Pokemon and higher entry fees will be a small price to pay.
      If you want to discuss this further or ask any other questions about eSports, feel free to contact me via @Liquid_monk
    • By makiri in makiri's blog 0
      Welcome to the 5th Nugget Bridge Invitational. Big thanks to every host, player, and other people who contributed to the 5th Nugget Bridge Season making it a great success. This Invitational will be slightly unique compared to the past. We will have several weekly rounds that will ultimately culminate in a single live tournament day to be live streamed.
      These are the fantastic players who managed to make out prestigious tournament:

      Of course the bracket:

      for more information check out the forum post.
    • By Baz Anderson in Baz Anderson's Reports 3
      Hello Nugget Bridge!
      Here is a report of the team I reached 7th in the World with at the Pokémon World Championships 2016!

      0:14  History
      2:47  Fitting into my style
      4:14  The team
      4:31  Xerneas
      8:45  Rayquaza
      12:13 Smeargle
      19:45 Scrafty
      23:32 Volcarona
      30:46 Thundurus
      34:58 Biggest issues
      39:38 Tournament run
      44:17 Thanks!
      More viewing!
      ● Day 1, Round 4 stream game
      ● Day 1, Round 8 stream game
      ● Day 2, Rounds 1 and 4 highlights
      ● Day 2, Rounds 5, 7 and T16 highlights
      ● Day 2, Quarter final stream game
      Thanks for watching!

    • By Velocity in The Velocity Vector 18
      The top trainers from across the planet gather each year to compete at the World Championships. The teams they use either reflect the pinnacle of the metagame or an attempt to break the meta. This year proved to be no exception with a very diverse range of Pokémon. Here is every team that the 106 most elite players from over 20 countries brought to Day 2 of the 2016 World Championships in San Francisco!
      The format of this article is modeled after the one done in 2014 by Firestorm and the one done in 2015 by kingofmars. Big thanks to everyone who contributed. 52 different Pokémon saw play in the competition. The defining feature of the 2016 format, however, was that trainers could use 2 Restricted Pokémon on their teams. 6 unique Restricted Pokémon were used in 8 different combinations. There were also 9 different Mega Evolutions that competitors brought to battle.
      Top Cut
       1. Wolfe Glick (Wolfey)

       2. Jonathan Evans (Ezrael)

       3. Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37)

       4. Eduardo Cunha (EmbC)

      5. Aaron Traylor (Unreality)

       6. Justin Carris (Azazel)

       7. Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson)

        8. Baris Akcos (Billa)

       9. Sebastian Escalante (Sebas)

       10. Giovanni Costa (The Gio)

       11. Michael Lanzano (JiveTime)

       12. Edward Cheung (Harbinger)

       13. Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs)

       14. Blake Hopper (Bopper)

       15. Sam Pandelis (ZeldaVGC)

       16. Matthias Suchodolski (Lega)

       17. Patrick Smith (SalaMenace)

       18. Alejandro Jimenez (Legacy)

       19. Andrew Nowak (Nowakgolf)

       20. Wonseok Jang (KrelCROC)

       21. Conan Thompson (Conan)

       22. Dane Zieman (AgentOrangeJulius)

       23. Christian Cheynubrata

       24. Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana)

      Finished 4-3
       25. Rajan Bal (blarajan)

       26. Ying Jun Qi (Ying)

       27. James Baek (Jamesspeed1)

       28. William Tansley (StarKO)

       29. Matias Roa (Boah)

       30. Eric Rios (riopaser)

       31. Alvin Hidayat (Jibaku)

       32. Kotake Hideto (Liar)

       33. Motochika Nabeshima (Elm)

       34. David Mizrahi (AwesomePlatypus)

       35. Nimiel Catipon (leimin)

       36. Hayato Takahashi (Hayato)

       37. Matt Carter (Mattsby)

       38. Matthew Coyle (OneEyedWonderWeasel)

       39. Brianna Birt (TR Jessie)

       40. Alexander Kuhn (Hibiki)

       41. Suzuki Tatsu (MDK)

       42. Yuanhao Li (Hao)

       43. Christian Ramirez (EwokPadawan)

       44. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

       45. Tobias Koschitzki (Tobysxe)

       46. Alex Gomez (Pokealex)

       47. Marcel Kapelle (Massi)

       48. Yuichi Sasaki (Yuuichi)

       49. Masaki Kubota (mirage)

       50. Riccardo Appamea (Appa)

       51. Kazi Rahman (AwakenedCity)

      Finished 3-4
       52. Alfredo Prada (AlfreDo)

       53. Rachel Annand (SPEevee)

       54. Matteo Moscardini (MoscaVGC)

       55. Or Kei Yin (CyrusOr)

       56. Grant Weldon (Velocity)

       57. Javier Senorena (Proman)

       58. Joshua Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou)

       59. Hongyu Zhu (fivepointstars)

      60. Chien-Chien Tsai (ChienX2)

       61. Rafik Sadli (DominoRaf)

       62. Justin Burns (Spurrific)

       63. Kitaoka Tsubasa (nanakango)

       64. Federico Andino (AndyVGC)

       65. Takuro Terada (inoseno)

       66. Greyson Garren (Greysong)

       67. Zhang Zhe (polito)

       68. Naohito Mizobuchi (Penguin)

       69. Aniello Iuliano (Senior14)

       70. Federico Turano (AvatarFede)

       71. Soichiro Kohara (komaru)

       72. Ethan Hall (Jhon)

       73. Jang Jung In (JJI)

       74. Christopher Kan 

       75. Alex Underhill (Lexicon)

       76. Jonathan Chiang

       77. Simone Sanvito (Sanvy)

      Finished 2-5
       78. Andre Tavara Jara

       79. Chase Lybbert (I Am a Rookie)

       80. Lukas Muller (Knappi)

       81. Bridger Snow (squirtwo)

       82. Meaghan Rattle (AvengedWerehog)

       83. Alessio Yuri Boschetto (PokemonZone)

       84. Demitrios Kaguras (kingdjk)

       85. Chi Yuen Fu 

       86. Alexander Poole (triceratops5)

       87. Juan Naar (DonVGC)

       88. Michael Riechert (Michilele)

       89. Dominic Scheffler (TheFlashColonel)

       90. Chen Wu

      Finished 1-6
       91. Kamaal Harris (Kamaal)

       92. Tsao Che-Ming (Duoo)

       93. Hironori Seino 

       94. Marcelo Salgado (Lerion)

      Did Not Finish
       Jeudy Azzarelli (SoulSurvivor)

       Yosuke Isagi (Tony)

       Gary Qian (ZygardeVGC)

       Lee Ji Seok (MeLuCa)

       Shoma Honami (SHADEviera)

       Cedric Bernier (Talon)

       Steven Markhardt (Kali)

       Koki Honda

       Victor Manuel Gonzalez Garcia

       Kimo Nishimura (TFC)

       Hideyuki Taida (BIDC)

       Arash Omatti (Mean)

      Usage Statistics
      All Pokémon
      Pokémon # Used % of Teams Groudon 78 73.58% Kangaskhan 60 56.60% Smeargle 57 53.77% Xerneas 51 48.11% Salamence 49 46.23% Bronzong 37 34.91% Kyogre 35 33.02% Rayquaza 34 32.08% Cresselia 25 23.58% Thundurus 21 19.81% Talonflame 20 18.87% Amoonguss 16 15.09% Crobat 16 15.09% Gengar 14 13.21% Yveltal 9 8.49% Scrafty 8 7.55% Whimsicott 8 7.55% Zapdos 7 6.60% Ferrothorn 6 5.66% Raichu 6 5.66% Clefairy 5 4.72% Dialga 5 4.72% Landorus-T 5 4.72% Mawile 5 4.72% Suicune 5 4.72% Togekiss 5 4.72% Weavile 5 4.72% Hitmontop 4 3.77% Arcanine 3 2.83% Jumpluff 3 2.83% Manectric 3 2.83% Scizor 3 2.83% Sylveon 3 2.83% Aegislash 2 1.89% Ditto 2 1.89% Gyarados 2 1.89% Meowstic 2 1.89% Volcarona 2 1.89% Venusaur 2 1.89% Aerodactyl 1 0.94% Exeggutor 1 0.94% Infernape 1 0.94% Kecleon 1 0.94% Lapras 1 0.94% Latias 1 0.94% Ludicolo 1 0.94% Mienshao 1 0.94% Noivern 1 0.94% Rotom-W 1 0.94% Sableye 1 0.94% Slowbro 1 0.94% Zebstrika 1 0.94%  
      Restricted Pokémon
      Restricted # Used % of Teams Groudon 78 73.58% Xerneas 51 48.11% Kyogre 35 33.02% Rayquaza 34 32.08% Yveltal 9 8.49% Dialga 5 4.72%  
      Restricted Combinations
      Restricted Combination # Used % of Teams Groudon+Xerneas 37 34.91% Groudon+Kyogre 18 16.98% Rayquaza+Kyogre 14* 13.21% Rayquaza+Xerneas 11 10.38% Rayquaza+Groudon 9 8.49% Groudon+Yveltal 9 8.49% Groudon+Dialga 5 4.72% Kyogre+Xerneas 3 2.83% *One Rayquaza+Kyogre team featured a Choice Scarf Kyogre rather than a Primal Kyogre
      Mega Evolutions
      Mega Evolution # Used % of Teams Kangaskhan 60 56.60% Salamence 49 46.23% Rayquaza 34 32.08% Gengar 13 12.26% Mawile 5 4.72% Manectric 3 2.83% Venusaur 2 1.89% Gyarados 1 0.94% Sableye 1 0.94%  
    • By Jibaku in Fun Cave 4
      Name’s Alvin. I got top 32 at worlds. Not the most notable accomplishment, but worlds was fun so I’ll write something up.
      Bit of history: I started playing competitive Pokemon in 2005. Played JAA in 2006 (which had restricted mons), and spent most of my time playing Singles, and primarily playing Ubers. There’s just a lot of thrill playing the game’s strongest Pokemon, and it’s something that I’ve continued to believe in for more than a decade.
      For those asking where my username came from: Selfdestruct was my favorite move to spam in JAA. Selfdestruct is Jibaku in Japanese.
      I watched some VGC in 2009 and 2010, but never stepped into the scene until 2011. I got top 4 at some Virginia regional which I don’t remember, but this was Wolfe’s breakout if I recall (top4 was Wolfe/IPS/Tyler/me iirc). Thank you Ruben for the team! I spent more time playing 2012 but ultimately ended up 22nd in some 51-man regional at the virginia barn. Oh and Wolfe lost to a Cryogonal. Stopped playing for a while, though I attended 2014 worlds as a spectator as it was 1.5 hrs away from home. I didn’t start playing again until the end of 2015 where I went 5-4 at Lancaster which highlighted how rusty I was. During this time I played Generation Showdown, a Battle Spot online competition that was pretty much a precursor to VGC2016. I got 9th in the world/1st in the US with a team I built primarily using Singles Ubers knowledge more than actual doubles knowledge. It was really fun, and reminded me how much I regretted not playing in 2010.
      For the record, here was the team I used during Generation Showdown

      The team building process was the simplest I’ve ever done. Groudon/Xerneas felt like an immediately synergistic duo, and I threw in hot supports for Groudon (Cress) and Xerneas (Kangaskhan). I added Salamence somewhat of a discount Mega Ray as a way to check Groudon and opposing Rayquaza, and Aegislash because I wanted a good steel type and it learns Wide Guard/can bonk Cress. I gave Cresselia Skill Swap because I overheard somebody in Nuggetbridge IRC mention that Skill Swap was an underrated move in VGC and that many Pokemon relied on their abilities. What better way to use Skill Swap than to reset the sun and give Groudon Levitate?
      I hadn’t planned on continuing to play Pokemon in general and was going to go back to playing League of Legends. When the 2016 rules came out, I immediately got off my couch and knew that I was going to commit to this VGC ruleset. I mentioned before that I love Ubers, so I was extremely ecstatic. Having missed 2010, I could not miss this opportunity to use them once again in competitive play.
      The transition from Singles and some VGC2015/basic doubles knowledge to VGC2016 was one of the toughest metagame transitions I’ve had to go through. Despite playing in Generation Showdown and performing well, I really underestimated how much of a chokehold Smeargle had on the metagame with these powerhouses. Getting above 1500 was a true struggle. Like most people, I started with Groudon/Xerneas. After finally somewhat fixing my Smeargle issues, I got top 4 at the first International Challenge, but I never really liked the team because Xern felt mediocre without proper protection. I stumbled upon Double Primal near the end of January and stuck through with that for most of the season.
      Double Primal immediately became my favorite archetype, although my offline event records were mediocre with it. I fared poorly in Virginia regs (i went barely above 50% again i think), and my midseasons haven’t been great (got t8 in a 12 man midseason though!). Most of my accomplishments were through online stuff. Top 8 at the March IC, and 8-1 at the NPA (I used various archetypes for this, but mostly played primals). When it got close to Nats, there were so many anti Double Primal techs that I just ditched the archetype and went back to Groudon/Xerneas. Except I sucked at Groudon/Xerneas in general so I went 5-4 and barely got my worlds invite. I considered dropping at X-3, but I am really glad I didn’t. I squeaked in at 122nd place to finalize with 396 CP and with a worlds invite.
      I watched the Kalos League to amp myself up for worlds. I can’t say this works for everyone, but it did for me. It reminded me how exciting battling can be, and quite honestly spending too much time prepping and not finding the perfect solution was really starting to drain my motivation. That is not the mentality I wanted going into worlds. I wanted worlds to be a great experience, and I did not want to stress too much while battling.
      Let me explain a little something that’s probably unique to me, and that something other people might be weirded out by. I sometimes visualize battles in action form (as opposed to how they look like ingame). That basically means that I visualize my ingame battles like if it’s in the anime. By this, I can create effects in my head that make matches so much more hype and epic than they are, and it really helps me with enjoying them, especially in this year where restricted mons are allowed. Precipice Blades is already incredibly epic ingame - imagine if you can add your imagination onto that and tweak it into something a lot more. Extra hype -> extra fun at worlds. Extra fun -> less stress. Less stress -> better performance.
      Ok I hope that didn’t uh...weird people out too much.
      After failing to make Day 2 at Nats I immediately committed to not running Groudon/Xerneas for the rest of the format, or at least until the end of worlds. I guess this is a bit of a silly train of thought, but I felt that Groudon/Xerneas didn’t really have positive matchups and my knowledge of the archetype/general metagame isn’t good enough to prepare me for various anti G/X techs that’ll come about at worlds. Furthermore, the mirror matches aren’t something I felt confident with. I opened myself up to Double Primal once again, realizing that the archetype possesses some of the best pieces to take down the omnipresent Groudon/Xerneas. At this point of the format, people have gone through the depths to protect their Xerns, rendering most of the original Zong DP squad mostly outdated (Kang/Mence/Zong/Thund/Ogre/Don). While I’ve considered just bringing that to worlds, I realized that Double Primal will probably need quite some adjustments.
      What actually got me interested in DP once again is when I ran into Gavin on the ladder using an interesting squad of Gengar/Bronzong/Kyogre/Groudon/Manectric/Talonflame. You may recognize this squad as the same six that Jon Evans took 2nd place at worlds with. Gavin smashed me (and I also played badly) so it piqued my interest. Gavin allowed me to use the team, and I liked it for the most part except that it kinda gets bopped by Gravity blades so I had to be extra careful around that. The core of Gengar/Zong/Kyogre/Groudon was something I’ve mostly stuck with for the remainder of worlds prep.
      Meet my friend blarajan, or Rajan if you want to say hi to him irl because he gets triggered if you call him blara irl but I do it anyways. You probably recognize him as the Indian Smogon dude who can’t stop talking, and also as the 12th place player at Nats. He’s the brains behind the Mega Gengar/Zong/Kyogre/Groudon core (or actually, just MGengar/Zong/Ogre, but Groudon was a natural fit for the 4th slot). The core was intended to give an efficient and playable set of mons to fight against Groudon/Xerneas teams, maximizing the chances of beating the most common archetype. Our worlds call is that Groudon/xern will by far be the most dominant archetype, and we are committing to covering that more than anything else. As I’ve promised myself to not run G/X, I had to take that route. Or I could go with the Nails route and 50/50 matchups and stick with a protect the deer comp, but I have strong preference towards more balanced teams/defensive teams. Taking the Mega Gengar route instead of the usual Kang/Mence route does pose some issues as MGengar isn’t a catch-all mega unlike those two, but its ability to threaten top mons and dismantle enemy board positioning with Shadow Tag is incredibly valuable. Rajan and I decided to work on the worlds call together given our similar playstyles.
      We started with Gengar/Zong/Ogre/Groudon. Actually that’s a lie. I started with Gavin’s 6, giving it a run on ladder to get a handle of its weaknesses and its strengths. Abusing Mega Gengar and Primal weather lockdown was the basis and it was something that didn’t take me long to get comfortable with, although I had some doubts (and I still do) of Mega Gengar’s overall effectiveness. Ironically, double primal was the toughest team to abuse Shadow Tag + primal weather against, because the archetype is heavily based around field control and it’s hard to do that against Trick Room and Skill Swap.
      For worlds practice I mostly threw several alts into the 1500-1600 area. Too high on the ladder and I’ll get scouted. Too low on the ladder and I’ll get memes. Nats taught me that comfort is extremely important, and I made sure I got some games on the ladder to ensure that I went to worlds without having to overthink my options and get timered out. I want to be able to play my own game and not worry too much about protecting myself from what my opponent might do. I wanted to be proactive, and less so reactive. I also practiced some bo3s with Aaron Traylor and Rajan, and Aaron often brought the Groudon/Xerneas variant that would give the team the greatest issues, which was really helpful to us. Except for the part where we could never really find a solution around that. In return, Aaron got a lot of practice against Mega Gengar, which were surprisingly rather common by Day 2.
      The immediate issue I found was the team’s staggering inability to take Gravity Blades, having 5 mons weak to it and 4 of them being outright OHKOed. It was manageable with Kyogre + Safeguard, but I still felt unsafe. There are certain setups that can bypass the team’s limited barriers, so I decided to look for replacements. Furthermore, while tanky Talonflame was actually solid, Manectric felt mediocre. It is worth noting that I can’t find a better replacement for Manectric alone, as Manectric checked a number of important Pokemon that no other mons could. Thus, I had to remove Talonflame if I wanted changes. I asked Enosh for help as I think he’s one of the few people who is actually bold enough to test virtually everything in this meta. We ended up with something like this

      If you saw the NY/NJ invitational, you’ll see that Jon Evans rocked this team at the tournament. While we don’t know which side got the team first, it didn’t matter (his had different sets too). The Venusaur option was incredible vs. most Groudon/Xerneas teams, and Groudon/Venusaur/Zong/Ogre was for the most part relatively safe vs Big6 teams (though Smeargle/Groudon is a bit tricky to handle). So I liked Venusaur but Togekiss was pretty mediocre. However, certain issues arose when the team needed a Kangaskhan check that wasn’t Gengar if I can’t bring Venusaur. I also struggled vs primal mirrors in theory, though it was slightly easier in practice because Venusaur was something people were not quite familiar with. I replaced Togekiss with Zapdos as a catch all check to primals/Rayogre/Yveltal, although it’s not super good at any of those.
      But we didn’t limit ourselves to Gengar/Zong/Ogre/Groudon + 2 mons. We looked into various other restricteds over Groudon. Some options included Rayquaza, Giratina-O, Yveltal, Xerneas, etc. I suppose that’s not a ton of options but we thought that Groudon was the most fitting (nevermind the part where Rayquaza won worlds with the Gengar/Zong/Ogre core!). Also yes, Giratina-O was close to being my Worlds call. Gengar/Hitmontop was also a combo we considered (but we didn’t have Eject Button).
      I never ditched Gavin’s team during this part of the process, however. It served to me as a base of comparison. Whatever I wanted to use must be compared to Gavin’s six, which I was willing to fall back on if  I can’t think of anything better. Here were some other variants that we were testing
      Salamence/Thundurus/Amoonguss -Bronzong (this setup got several accs to Top10 on Showdown ladder  - not mine ofc - and I wanted to test it out)
      Along with things like Life Orb Salamence and Rocky Helmet Hydreigon. Jon also suggested Swampert at some point during teambuilding, while Enosh recommended Regigigas. We were quite desperate for options. In the end, I scrapped all the above options, leaving me with Manectric/Talon and Venusaur/Zapdos.
      I’m also going to say this right now that offensive Cresselia was the bane of our teambuilding. And even with our finalized product, Cresselia is still a pain.
      Also what’s a khan artist counter???
      Part of me still doubted Gengar during those times. I looked into CressZong primals for a bit, but it either often suffered from too many Yveltal issues or I couldn’t fit a good 4 against Big6 variants. Enosh was convinced that Gengar wasn’t good and to some extent I agreed. I left myself open to options to replace Gengar with for a little bit, before moving back to Gengar anyways because part of me really felt that it was the worlds call.
      2 Days before worlds I began to really see cracks in Gavin’s squad vs Big6 variants. Not to say that Gavin’s team was bad of course. I actually was pretty comfortable with running it for the most part and it gave me a breath of fresh air to a playstyle which I was beginning to doubt before using the team. But I wanted to be more secure vs Big6 variants. The Venusaur squad was helpful for that purpose, but its matchups vs other archetypes left quite a bit to be desired. At that point I stopped worrying about the gravity blades issue on Gavin’s squad.  I’m not going to detail these issues, however. I think Gavin’s squad is still a really good team and Jon came 2nd at worlds as proof. It was more of a personal discomfort and I personally just wanted something a little bit more secure, and there’s nothing wrong with that I hope.
      Anyways, I began to panic. On the flight to worlds I was thinking of just using my old double primal squad (Mence/Cress/Bat/Kang/Primals). Rajan was also stuck figuring the last two because he really disliked Manectric on the team. In the end, we consolidated Manectric and Talonflame into Zapdos and threw in Smeargle as a catch-all of some sort. However, by this time we no longer had the time to test Zapdos/Smeargle and did everything with those two based off theory. Despite that, I had a good amount of comfort with Gengar/Zong/Ogre/Groudon, and I was willing accept the theory-based play with Smeargle and Zapdos. I was also considering Mence/Thund/Zong/Smeargle/Kyogre/Groudon, but ultimately went with Smeargle/Zapdos. Basically I played worlds with a relatively unpolished team and learned how it works on the spot.
      Me and Rajan ran the exact same squad. He'll be writing his own report later

      Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite  
      Ability: Shadow Tag
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 44 HP / 240 Def / 4 SpD / 220 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA  
      - Sludge Bomb  
      - Will-O-Wisp  
      - Hidden Power [Water]  
      - Protect
      Meet Mega Gengar, the star of the show. Mega Gengar provided the team with an answer to the game’s most popular Pokemon such as Mega Kangaskhan, Primal Groudon, and Xerneas. But more than that, Shadow Tag made it easy to let it achieve that goal. Combined with the primal weathers and the primals’ own ability to just destroy stuff, Gengar ensured that there was no escape to their wrath, and no way to reset board position (hey this is a cool buzzword). Gengar served as a way to dismantle cores, punishing improper board positioning and sealing games early. It’s a bit hard to explain what Gengar does in its entirety, but Shadow Tag is a really strong ability in this format despite things dying quickly enough that you aren’t switching around much anyways. Being able to exploit the weather dependencies of the primals by locking down a favorable position grants me so much control as long as I can manage my KOes effectively so I don’t end up making my trapping useless by giving them a “free” switch by recklessly clicking Eruption or something.
      Sludge Bomb is self explanatory, Will-O-Wisp is there to weaken Kangaskhan and Rayquaza, primarily, and HP Water removes Groudon. Protect is a necessity imo so Gengar can lengthen its trap duration. There are like 17 or so viable moves Gengar can run, but overall we (me/Rajan/Gavin/Jon, at least) felt that this particular set was the most punishing to the most common team in the format. I really wish we could fit Shadow Ball, and removing HP Water was an option since Groudons have started to become wary of HP Water Mega Gengars and often fled the scene before I could Mega Evolve and trap it. However, the insurance vs early game Groudon was crucial to how the team functioned, and wasn’t really replaceable IMO.
      Most of you are probably wondering why I have so much Defense on it. The point of having that much defense is that I have an 80%ish chance to survive Jolly MKang Sucker Punch, which is useful in cases where I can’t burn it (ahem Crafty Shield). This much Defense was more useful than I thought, as it allowed Mega Gengar to survive Mega Ray Dragon Ascent most of the time (without extra boosts), and most Mega Mence actually can’t OHKO it. During the tournament, it lived every Kang Sucker Punch thrown at it (barring one which was Helping Handed. It survived the first hit which bothered me as it revealed how much defense my Gengar had lol). Most importantly, having that much defense allowed me to confidently Sludge Bomb in the face of Kangaskhan so I was never really pressured to make reads against it when Wisp was an unsafe move to go for. I can’t stress how useful the physical bulk was.
      The Gengar is shiny and in a Dusk Ball for a small competitive edge - it ensured that Sludge Wave was a possibility.

      Bronzong @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 68 Def / 188 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Trick Room  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Hypnosis
      The posterchild for blind Hypnosis.
      Still don’t like Zong as I feel that it’s basically half a Pokemon, but Xerneas has made it almost a necessity on teams that want Trick Room as the sole Trick Roomer that can actually beat it. Set isn’t really anything special, except I had the forbidden Skill Swap + Hypnosis combo. Skill Swap is crucial to the functions of double primal imo. I had Safeguard over Hypnosis initially (Safeguard + Gengar is pretty fun vs Smeargle!), but I missed the pressure and Swagger-esque panic button that Hypnosis offered. It also gave me an out vs Gravity to some extent.  I’m not going to get in depth for Bronzong since it’s kinda obvious what it does (Groudon+Xern check when paired with Kyogre). EVs allow it to survive Kyurem-W Fusion Flare in the sun or something. I’m done losing to Kyurems. Regardless of my dislike for Zong, it did what it was supposed to do.
      I suppose blind Hypnosis isn’t really a satisfying way to clutch me out of matchups, but it’s like a 60% accurate OHKO move in this meta.
      Why can’t this slot be Cresselia instead

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 36 Atk / 220 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Mild Nature  
      - Eruption  
      - Overheat
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Protect
      Groudon itself needs no new introductions. Strong Pokemon. Also my 2nd favorite mon in the whole game. What probably needs introduction is the set. I’ll say this right now that I’m not a fan Special Groudon and glass cannon Groudon in general. I’ve always felt that Groudon should be a tank rather than a sweeper, but I decided to not go with my beliefs and instead run something a bit wild. Unlike Gavin’s/Jon’s team, I was more comfortable with having a split fast/slow primal in double primal (ironically due to Gavin himself as his original February squad featured fast Groudon and slow Kyogre and I got used to having split speeds for flexibility). Being fast allowed Groudon to be a better lead vs Big6 variants, outpacing fast Smeargle and bulky Xerneas. At the same time, however, I felt that Max Speed was a bit excessive and I just wanted to blow stuff up. I don’t care much about Groudon speed ties as I have two HP Waters and Zong/Ogre anyways. I also feel that most Xerneas won’t be hitting 142+ speed if they’re not running 156+ anyways. So I decided to use a +SpA nature.
      Eruption = win. Expecting an upsurge in Groudon/Xerneas teams, I made my Groudon more specially based to leave behind the biggest trail of destruction upon them if given the chance. Eruption with +SpA allowed Groudon to just flat out OHKO Mega Kangaskhan if given the chance (and it happened twice I think). Overheat also did a ton of damage, once again OHKOing Kangaskhan and wiping out glass cannon Cress with a little bit of chip damage. This is important as Cresselia was a major pain, and having the option to just blast it away is really strong. I opted for Precipice Blades over Earth Power because I hate full Special Groudon and I still think PBlades is Groudon’s best move. The 36 Atk EVs were mostly cosmetic and I wanted a tiny bit more punch to PBlades.
      I opted for Mild instead of Rash because I didn’t want to just get dunked on by Ogre Ice Beams/Mence HV/Xern Dazzles.The chance to get OHKOed by PBlades was annoying (though potentially useful), but I never got OHKOed by one except by a crit.

      Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb  
      Ability: Primordial Sea  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Origin Pulse  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Thunder  
      - Protect
      The 2nd part of Double Primal. Actually no - this is a Kyogre based team, but I didn't feel like fixing the team's ordering. Kyogre in conjunction with Bronzong and Mega Gengar applies heavy pressure to Groudon/Xerneas teams as they have a difficult time taking its extremely powerful Origin Pulses, and the constant threat of Shadow Tag+HP Water and Trick Room+Skill Swap between the two non restricteds gives me outs vs both fast and slow modes. I opted for Origin Pulse/Thunder/Ice Beam to maximize coverage (really, this is just hitting opposing Kyogre, but I think this is important because of Double Primal’s natural weakness to RayOgre. Also mirrors) at the price of being able to blast through Wide Guard more easily. I’ve also always used that set on Ogre, except against Randy in NPA because I knew he’d run some Big6 stuff. 
      I’ve used Modest with max physical bulk for pretty much the entire season (with some speed creep here and there), but for this one I opted for Bold to give myself a really good chance of surviving a Gyro Ball + 2x PBlades. Another relevant calc is surviving Kangaskhan Double Edge + Timid Groudon Earth Power. I also expected most people to be calcing for Modest, so Bold’s extra bulk can throw people off for a bit. Being Bold has been really clutch overall and I don’t regret it, though the drop in power is somewhat noticeable and annoying. I opted for 0 Speed because I wanted to underspeed most Groudons in BigB, while maintaining a Speed advantage against Mega Salamence in Tailwind. However, it appeared that BigB Groudons have slowed down even more for the most part so I never really outsped anything in Trick Room. I’ll have to re evaluate.

      Zapdos @ Sitrus Berry  
      Ability: Static  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 28 HP / 224 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA  
      - Hidden Power [Water]  
      - Thunderbolt
      - Substitute
      - Tailwind
      #TeamInstinct. One of my favorite nonrestricteds in the whole game too. Too bad it’s always a bit in the shadow of Thundurus...
      Ahem...ok. One of the two last minute techs on the team, Zapdos was mostly there because the team likes Tailwind and that it could be used as a soft check to primals/Yveltal/Rayquaza/Salamence. It doesn’t do a particularly good job at any of these (and it especially doesn’t beat Rayquaza, although it can set up Tailwind in front of it, fearing nothing but LO Draco), but it’s not bad either. Tbolt and HP Water are standard. Don’t tell me 2 HP Waters is excessive. Substitute was clutch and helped out vs Salamence/Smeargle leads. A Zapdos under a Substitute is difficult for the core of Salamence/Smeargle/Bronzong/Groudon to deal with, and forces Salamence to Double Edge the Sub away if it wants to stop Zapdos from wreaking havoc. This is great because this burns Sleep turns from my Groudon, and Zong/Groudon required some setup so it was difficult to take advantage of Zapdos’s sleeping turns. Essentially, Zapdos gave me a gameplan that allowed me to tank sleep in certain scenarios, and played a role against BigB where the team’s lack of Xerneas protection combined with my multiple anti-Xern measures deterred Xerneas from being used. The Sub Zapdos + Groudon setup vs BigB would have been a bit better if Groudon had HP Ice. If I can snipe the Salamence, then Sub Zapdos would have been super hard to break with Smeargle Zong, and Groudon has to fear HP Water and requires Gravity and TR setup, which means that Zapdos will get a solid amount of free hits.
      Anyways, Zapdos’s use vs BigB was mostly theoretical and it worked out better than I expected at worlds. I hadn’t really considered its use to burn sleep turns from its partner before actually playing it, and I want to look more into this. Zapdos is also not awful vs Khan Artist because nobody wants to Fake Out the Zapdos so I feel like I can often get a free Sub. Zapdos’s performance wasn’t superstar-level, but it did what it had to.

      Smeargle @ Chesto Berry  
      Ability: Moody  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: ---
      --- Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / --- Spe
      - Wide Guard  
      - King's Shield  
      - Dark Void  
      - Crafty Shield  
      “If you think you have a bad matchup, just bring Smeargle” - blarajan 2016
      Public enemy #1. Smeargle set isn’t mine so I’m blanking out several aspects until I’m allowed to post them. Tbh Smeargle’s role on this team wasn’t quite clear. It was quite abstract, or so to speak, giving me a general utility and also a universal panic button to virtually every matchup because Dark Void + Moody is just straight up silly. Smeargle offers immense team preview pressure and is the reason why this meta feels flowcharted sometimes. Slapping a Smeargle on various team archetypes can mess with these flowcharts and leave opponents confused. The set is for the most part standard, but the combination of King’s Shield + Chesto Berry gives me an out vs Khan Artist. This set is extremely Taunt bait and lacked Focus Sash so I had to be careful.
      You know you’ve done something horribly wrong to the meta when your name is also used as a verb. There were a few opponents who were Smeargled by me and I apologize (especially Tommy). Anyways, it is what it is. Smeargle wa overall a fantastic performer. Chesto didn’t get used Day 1, but came in handy for Day 2, though it didn’t matter too much I guess, because every time Chesto came into effect I was facing another Chesto Smeargle. I really did not expect Chesto Smeargle to be a thing outside of me and Rajan, but I guess it is now.

      Team’s goal: Make my opponent just as clueless against my team as I am at piloting it. Then have Smeargle do its thing. Use Groudon to weaken things early game, then clean up with Bronzong + Kyogre.
      DAY 1
      I came into this with not a lot of expectations. All I set for myself was not to go negative at worlds. That does not mean I’m not aiming for the top! But I want to keep my expectations low so I don’t stress myself. One hurdle at a time! Keeping calm and playing comfortably is incredibly important if I want to go far, but I had to mentally set myself to short goals to ensure that I’m not pressured in my later rounds.
      Round 1: Luke Dunscombe

      Round 1 quickly punched a hole in the team. Weavile + Primals is a really hard matchup, and I don’t have a lot of outs to that. What’s more is that I found out that the Weavile is Life Orbed, OHKOing Zapdos with a single Ice Punch. At the end of Game 1 he sealed away my chances of winning with Role Play Thundurus, and his fast Special Groudon gave me no chance of a comeback. Game 2 went similarly, except I tried to dance around the Weavile using Gengar and the primals while saving Zapdos for later. But this led to an issue where his Salamence got a Tailwind off while I couldn’t match it as Weavile was very threatening. I was able to Gengar lock his Groudon in, but Gengar was in no position to take down Groudon due to Tailwind being up. Origin Pulse also missed, which sealed away my hopes of winning. Needless to say this was not the kind of start I wanted.
      In the meantime Rajan got Mark McQuillan round 1 and it was streamed near the entrance. He had to reveal basically every tech to win that round. This put both me and him in danger as we are running the same team, and a lot of people watched that match due to its length and convenient placement.
      LL [0-1]
      Round 2: Alberto Lara

      Round 1 got me a hard matchup and Round 2 got me a Day 2 player from US Nats. Kangaskhan + Whimsicott scared me, and Cresselia was not something I wanted to face. I led Gengar Zong into Kangaskhan Cress. I really shouldn’t have led Gengar Zong, but I did, and it worked somehow. Kangaskhan Fake Outted the Zong and Cresselia Icy Winded. Gengar burned the Kanga while Zong flinched. I switched Gengar out to avoid the potential Psychic and set up Trick Room as Kangaskhan deals no damage thanks to the burn. Fearing the reverse Trick Room, I threw a blind Hypnosis at the Cress and it hit. Then I OHKOed it with crit Eruption. Game was pretty much over from there as he had no way of handling Zong Ogre. Alberto adjusted to Salamence/Cress lead game 2 while I went with Gengar/Groudon. Salamence Protects but I nuke Cress with Sludge Bomb Overheat. The rest of the game went downhill for Alberto as Bronzong was able to wall the rest of the team.
      WW [1-1]
      Round 3: Tyler Bennett

      Another Groudon Xerneas. This match isn’t something that I fully remember the details of, but Groudon was able to deal immense amounts of damage with Eruption. I led Smeargle Groudon into Salamence Scrafty. I don’t remember what exactly happened but Tyler went straight for the OHKO on Smeargle with Double Edge if I recall. I also probably crit Scrafty with Eruption and the game just went downhill for him from that point.  Game 2 he led Smeargle/Mence while I went for Zapdos/Groudon. I was able to get a Sub up and put him in a horrible position, but almost threw the game when I went too greedy for the HP Water on Groudon as it Protected while Kyogre got Dark Voided. I was in such a good position that doing that going for that kind of play was really risky. I should’ve just KOed the 1 HP Smeargle. Regardless, the match was fairly close and a lot of switches happened, but I was able to take it in the end. After the battle he revealed that his Groudon’s OT was mine. I gave away Groudons at the start of this format (took me 3 weeks to soft reset for one…). I thought that was cute and wished Tyler the best of luck in the rest of the tournament
      WW [2-1]
      Round 4: Panyamut Noijan (???)

      Sorry, my handwriting sucks so I don’t remember his first name. Anyways, Dialga Groudon is an interesting combo and is certainly not a bad one. Dialga is quite annoying to my team as I don’t have a good way to dent Dialga outside of Groudon. Luckily, my Groudon had Eruption so I had no issues getting past this wall of Intimidates from both Mence and Lando, so my plan was to get Groudon to spam that. Game 1 he led Landorus-T and Dialga while I led Smeargle/Groudon. I pressed Wide Guard + Eruption while Lando Protected and Dialga dented Smeargle with Dragon Pulse. Smeargle got a Speed boost and I spent the rest of the game clicking Dark Void and Eruption. Sorry about that.
      Game 2 I decided to go Zapdos/Groudon to improve my matchup vs Salamence, but he led genies instead. I could go for Tailwind/Protect into Eruption spam, but I predicted the Taunt on Zapdos and Earthquake on Groudon. Instead he Tbolt Rock Slides the Groudon and put me in a rather tough spot. But Smeargle comes in and gets a Speed boost. After a successful Wide Guard vs Crafty Shield prediction, I was able to take over the game once again with Dark Void + Eruption. Again, I’m sorry.
      WW [3-1]
      Round 5: Jonathan Neville (TMGold)

      More genies. Jonathan was sporting the hugs and kisses archetype, and I was a little scared facing him as my team doesn’t fare too well vs Kangaskhan + Thundurus + Kyogre in back. Game 1 he led Thundurus/Ferrothorn while I led Gengar Zong. I immediately attempted to Gengar lock him + Groudon but I was a little impatient and didn’t scout out his Ferro’s Protect like I should have. This enabled me to get only a single KO on Thundurus while Ferro shields itself and kyogre comes in. This wasn’t good but I was able to turn the position around again as I attempt to reset the sun by switching around. Kyogre dodged a Power Whip, but survived the next one (good to know that Water Spout + Power Whip doesn’t KO mine). Sun comes back up and I win.
      Game 2 started by him leading Kang/Thund while I led Gengar/Kyogre. Bit of a nasty lead matchup but I was able to somehow set the tone for this game. But I tried to overreach somewhere and my Bronzong got KOed early. Whatever the reason, I ended up losing control of the weather and lost game 2
      Game 3 was him leading genies. By this point, I know that his Thundurus is bulky life orb and his Lando is Choice Band. Kyogre hangs on to Thunderbolt + EQ with 2 HP thanks to Bold but double misses Origin Pulse. I don’t remember what happened but Kyogre was useful as a death fodder so I can reset the sun. Game came down to Zong/Groudon vs Kyogre, and I hit a couple of PBlades to win the game.
      WLW [4-1]
      Round 6: Aline Kleinschnitz

      On team preview, this looked like the team that Phil used to win Australia Nats. This one was a bit bothersome as I figured out that the Xerneas was speedy and therefore weakened my Eruption game 1. She appeared to not have Wide Guard however, as I was able to spam spread moves repeatedly to take down Xerneas. With Xerneas down, the rest of the game fell from there. I don’t remember what she brought game 2 but I adjusted my lead from Smeargle/Groudon to Gengar/Groudon. Xerneas was moved into the backline which also helped make things a bit easier for me. Not a whole lot I can actually say in this series. She ended up shutting off her DS because she didn’t want to see the defeat screen, although she didn’t look like she ragequit.
      WW [5-1]
      Round 7: Tommy Cooleen (Tman)

      I really didn’t want to have to face Tommy for Day 2 qualification, and once again Dialga was a tricky matchup as Groudon was my only actual out against it. Anyways, Tommy had a really neat team featuring the Groudon mode from BigB and a Dialga to patch several Kyogre related issues, and I was honestly surprised that he didn’t bring Groudon/Xerneas like he would to big events. I recommend others to look at this team, given that Rayogre won worlds. Although Tommy told me he lost to Wolfe but let’s be real Wolfe probably knows how to play against Dialga more than anyone else + timer is still a thing.
      For Game 1 I led Smeargle/Groudon into Scrafty Dialga and I OHKOed Dialga with crit Eruption and the game was over for him from there. Tommy made the smart adjustment to move Dialga into the back and led with Salamence Scrafty so that my Groudon can’t just destroy it. I didn’t play well in this match, but my Smeargle got some evasion boosts and proceeded to become a pain. I ended up winning the match later at the back of my own primals. I wished Tommy the best of luck in for his final round.
      At this point Rajan was 6-0, taking down James Baek to qualify for Day 2.
      WW [6-1]
      Round 8: Nobody
      Thank you, autodrop. That round I just had to sink in that I survived Day 1. Tommy didn’t make it which made me really sad. Spent the night deciding on whether I should change my team or not. Chesto Smeargle was useless (but was useful for Rajan), and I'm still feeling a bit uncomfortable. In the end, I made the final decision to not change a single thing.
      DAY 2
      Round 1: Patrick Smith

      Starting off the day, I got none other than the NPA MVP. Patrick is a powerful battler, having also gotten 2nd place at Anaheim regionals. With that said, I knew I was in for a tough match, but I try not to fear names. Respect all, fear none. Patrick brought BigB which meant that I was fairly comfortable in the matchup, although it is by no means an autowin
      Game 1 began with our Smeargles trading Dark Voids. Patrick revealed that he too had Chesto on Smeargle. Nothing really happened for a bit. My Smeargle got Speed boosts while his Smeargle got Speed drops, but he set up Trick Room and it became a problem as his Smeargle took approximately 10% from Gyro Ball and got an evasion boost. His Smeargle eventually got a Speed boost, allowing my Bronzong to knock it out. Some time during this match I threw a blind Hypnosis at Groudon, only for it to wake up in 1 turn while he threw a blind Hypnosis at my Kyogre. The match eventually came down to me pressing Hypnosis on the wrong target as he went straight for a Swords Dance on Groudon while I Ice Beamed the Groudon slot in rain predicting the Salamence switch in to help reset the sun. The intention was to swiftly OHKO Salamence so I can claim weather as I still have a Groudon left to switch out to. My Kyogre then got highrolled by +2 PBlades while sleeping. In retrospect this was just a really poor move on my part and I lost the game as a result.
      I don’t remember exactly what happened Game 2 other than Patrick playing better than me. I’m also pretty sure I got Moodied somewhere, but that doesn’t matter. Patrick deserved the win over me. Like yesterday, I started the day with a defeat.
      [LL 0-1]
      Round 2: Tsao Che-Ming

      Big6...with Clef over Smeargle. I led Gengar/Groudon as he led Kangaskhan/Clefairy. I believe he went for Return + Magic Coat, probably predicting Taunt,  but the Magic Coat didn’t matter as my Gengar Sludge Bombed anyways. He Helping Hand Sucker Punched my Gengar, revealing my extra physical bulk when it took the first hit. Somewhere along the way he got a PuP off and I almost lost because I wasn’t aggressive enough towards the +2 Kang but he sent in Groudon into my Kyogre while I went for Skill Swap Origin Pulse, knocking out both Clefairy and Groudon. He had the game pretty much locked up if he went for Follow Me + switch to Groudon though.
      He led Kang/Clef again game 2, and started with HH Return on Groudon while I reveal Wisp to burn his Kangaskhan. I got some solid Eruption damage and he went for HH Sucker onto Gengar to deal ~70% while I knocked out Clefairy and used Bronzong + Kyogre to clean up.
      WW [1-1]
      Round 3: Anielo Iuliano

      He never brought Gengar, so idk if it’s mega or not. I also can’t assume it is because both Gengar formes are viable.
      An interesting take on Groudon/Xerneas, I didn’t know what to lead against this so I led Smeargle/Groudon iirc. He led Kang/Crobat and it was kinda annoying but I managed to win it out in the end thanks to PBlades miss, along with him missing Super Fang twice I believe. Game 2 I adjusted to Gengar/Groudon as he led the same. I don’t remember too much about this game except he missed Super Fang again (don’t recall it being a crucial miss though) and subsequently ragequit by slamming his DS and storming off the table.
      I would normally feel bad about people I haxed out, but like I can’t really say anything about this one because of his poor attitude. Whatever. A win’s a win.
      WW [2-1]
      Round 4: Jiwawiyat Thitasiri

      More Groudon/Xern. This one was a bit scary because of Kecleon and Meowstic. Meowstic had Safeguard so I couldn’t just burn it and call it a day, and Swagger was also not fun. For Game 1 I led Gengar/Groudon into Kangaskhan/Meowstic. Went straight for Sludge Bomb (and crit) on Kanga. He revealed Kecleon in the back, only bringing Groudon as his restricted. Kecleon was a problem as it took less than half from Origin Pulse and was dealing significant damage with +2 Sucker/Sneak/Low Kick while taking advantage of my Trick Room. For game 2 we both led the same thing, but he Sucker Punched my Gengar turn 1 while I Sludge Bomb/Erupted. Gengar lived with 1 HP and I removed both Kangaskhan and Meowstic with Eruption. He had Kecleon and Groudon in the back and I was able to take the game with the help of Kyogre. Getting tired of these Safeswag shenanigans, I led Zapdos/Groudon game 3 to try and gain a speed control advantage over Meowstic/Kangaskhan.  He led Kangaskhan/Kecleon instead and had Xerneas in the back. I immediately regretted that I didn’t bring Gengar because it would have been so good against this lead. Kecleon paralyzed itself by Faking Out Zapdos, and by the time Kangaskhan was vaporized my Groudon was very low. He revealed Xerneas and my low HP Groudon + Zapdos wasn’t going to do much to it. Yellow Magic saves the day as it got fully paralyzed as it attempted to finish off my Groudon with Sucker Punch. My PBlades took down Kecleon from approximately 80% and chunked Xerneas. I still had Bronzong + Kyogre in the back and the game was won from there. I’m sorry that I had to hax to win this round.
      LWW [3-1]
      Round 5: Conan Thompson

      I respect conan a lot because he’s more than just a meme in the community. He’s a meme that can cave your face in and show dominance. Conan plays an important role as the vgc trashtalker/villain and it’s absolutely something that the community needs. As far as battling him, though, I wasn’t overly concerned. It would be a surprise if he brought anything other than Groudon/Xerneas or some other top placing Japan inspired team. I was ready to smash his Groudon/Xerneas with my primals. Kinda.
      Game 1 he led Salamence Smeargle while I led Smeargle Groudon. My Groudon took a Hyper Voice and put it just outside of KO range to OHKO Smeargle with Eruption. His Smeargle reveals Chesto and Salamence dodges a Dark Void while he put both of my mons to sleep. This put me in a rather awkward position and I couldn’t salvage it with Bronzong+Kyogre in the back. I noted that his Smeargle’s Speed is less than 95 at least. Onto Game 2
      Game 2 I switched my lead around with Zapdos/Groudon. I do not remember what fully went in this series, mostly because I played by tanking Dark Voids. Goal was to leave a dent on Smeargle so Zong + Ogre can win. Endgame came down to Zong/Ogre vs Zong/Don in rain, Gravity up, and we both ended up just spamming Hypnosis at each other. My Kyogre woke up first and claimed the game with Origin Pulse. However, I think my chances were better as Kyogre can take a +2 Blades + Gyro Ball in the event that he woke up. I don’t remember if I had a Groudon in the back or not.
      Game 3 was Smeargle/Groudon vs Salamence/Smeargle again. I reveal King’s Shield to protect Smeargle now that conan knows he can OHKO me. With a similar train of thought conan’s Smeargle used Spiky Shield to block my Overheat, but I had the upper hand as I successfully got the attack drop on Salamence. The next turn was something I regret terribly - this was the perfect opportunity for me to use Wide Guard + Eruption as Mence can’t really KO stuff with Double Edge anymore so if I mispredict I’d have an extra turn to fix it. What I ended up doing was Dark Void + Overheat which was really silly and Hyper Voice left a dent on the team. Not sure what happened after this, but the game came down to conan’s Zong using blind hypnosis, missing my Kyogre, but I missed Origin Pulse in return. Then I forgot to stall out my own TR turns with Protect on Groudon, sealing my chances of winning
      LWL [3-2]
      I was a little flustered by this loss, knowing that I had a turn to leave such a giant dent on conan’s squad but didn’t go for it. Nevertheless, I had to shake the loss and move on
      Round 6: Sam Pandelis

      I’m really surprised that Zelda here didn’t use some Big6 variant like he’s been running all season (except during Australia Nats). He’s running Gavin’s nats team (or would have been had there not been very unfortunate circumstances that day). Rajan faced Sam already a few rounds before and won by Smeargling him. I was told that Sam is the type of guy who likes going for the 50/50 turn 1 and that he had Scarf Smeargle. I was in for a tough ride.
      Surely enough, he led Khan Artist game 1 and went straight for the side pup/switch to Yveltal. I led Smeargle/Groudon, clicked Eruption and both of them vanished. He forfeited
      Game 2 he led Thundurus/Groudon (surprise!!) while I led Smeargle Groudon. I was able to maneuver the bad lead matchup but he made a great play with Eruption in the rain to catch my Kyogre switchout or something. I lost this one
      For the deciding match he went right back to leading Khan Artist. I decided to go for the Eruption/DV again because I think that, if he does actually commit to staying in instead of side pupping, he’d have to go through rolls to win. In retrospect I should have gone for Eruption/Crafty Shield because I don’t think Dark Voiding was necessary. He actually does stay in and he went for DV and Double Edge onto Smeargle, but I got some early wakeups and pulled the game in my favor. The end came down to his paralyzed 90% Yveltal + full health Groudon vs my Kyogre in Tailwind. I made the grave mistake of trying to scout out his Groudon’s Protects instead of just attacking, forgetting that the game was basically 1v1 at this point, and I ended up throwing the game
      At this point I contemplated on dropping, but I wanted a positive record, so I moved on
      Round 7: Rachel Annand

      Ah XRay...the format’s cheesiest archetype. Although there weren’t really any cheeses here. That could have been Sing/Dragon Dance Lapras, but I chose to not count for that possibility. My team has Mega Gengar and Bronzong so I wasn’t scared of her restricteds, however, she beat me Game 1 because I mismanaged my KOes and Xerneas managed to set up. Additionally, her Rayquaza had Earth Power, swiftly dispatching Gengar. There wasn’t much to remember about this set except for the part where I clicked buttons and won Game 2 and 3 because Bronzong was too much for her to handle. I knocked out Lapras with Kyogre’s Thunder to secure my positive record. Jon Hu came by to congratulate me on knocking out her “heretic” Lapras as she had Ice Beam.
      LWW [4-3]
      Final Scores:
      Vs Xerneas/Groudon: 6 wins, 2 losses
      Vs Primals: 0 wins, 1 loss
      Vs Xerneas/Kyogre: 1 win, 0 losses
      Vs Dialga/Groudon: 2 wins, 0 losses
      Vs Yveltal/Groudon: 0 wins, 1 loss
      Eliminated from Worlds, placing me 31st in the rankings (and 1 placement above the top placing Japanese wheeee). I will admit that I played a vast majority of my games on autopilot, utilizing familiarity with double primals and the fact that I’ve historically performed best by piloting semi-technical teams by just pressing buttons instead of overthinking. In other words, I spent <10s for almost every turn. On the other hand, Rajan, who piloted the same team, took the game to timer fairly often. I’d often be one of the first to finish my matches, and he’d often be one of the last. Unfortunately, this has left a fraction of my play being suboptimal and crucially robbed me wins vs conan and Zelda, which meant that I have to work on slowing down my pace of the game. I was more disappointed by messing up vs conan because beating him with double primal would have been a great personal pride, and i think I’d have the game if I had gone for Wide Guard Eruption on that particular turn.
      I’m still unsure if my team is good or not, since it was a last second thing. It worked out for me, sure, but that doesn’t mean everything. I do know for sure that I’ll have to re evaluate a lot of things on the team because Wolfe’s team will be common and my team has a negative matchup against that. If I want to be successful in the events in the near future, I’ll need something else.
      Despite a regretful ending, I had such a great time at worlds. Meeting everyone was a huge blast (especially Edu whose joy for the game is contagious aaaa big fan <333). For the rest of that day I focused my positive energy to cheer for Jon Evans as he by some unexplainable miracle made it super far in the tournament rocking the Gavin squad. As one of the two top cutting double primal players, Jon did us all proud by knocking everyone down to reach the finals. Except for the part where he flipped the crowd. This meant that he was denied the opportunity to give shoutouts, although Jon said he wouldn’t give me one anyways >:(. Oh well, we got to witness the birth of a new meme.
      MOST IMPORTANTLY, I got top 32 at worlds using some of my favorite mons. Groudon, Kyogre, Zapdos, and arguably Mega Gengar (whom I have a love/hate relationship with). Thus, just making it past day 1 meant a lot to me. Everything means a lot more when you’re using something you really like, and I’m glad I didn’t crash and burn Day 1. Even though I consider myself fairly lucky in this tournament run, I’m still fairly proud of myself. This is an opportunity that will only happen once in a couple of years, and I will, without a doubt, miss restricted mons when they move back to the banlist in the following years. Can’t say the same for other people, of course.
      Thank you Primals. We will meet again someday.
      I’ll conclude my worlds experience with a paragraph from Grant
      “Did I make some mistakes throughout the tournament? Yes. However, making mistakes is the only way to improve. Learning from each and every one and applying that knowledge in the future is the hallmark of any success. I cannot blame every mistake on nervousness or pressure, some were just pure miscalculations, and in others I was tunnel-visioned. These are aspects of my play that I can improve on in the future. With the Nationals format this year being all best-of-three sets and all X-2 Cut on both days, the format ensures that the best and most prepared players make it to the top. It's really hard to fluke your way through the sheer number of games, especially with them all being best-of-three. Overall, I won the right matches and played to the caliber of a Nationals Semifinalist, and I am extremely proud of my play as a whole and what I was able to achieve.”
      I’m not a Nationals Semifinalist, so just replace that with a Day 2 Worlds Player.
      Gonna still say that I enjoyed VGC2016 more than most people. I’ve yet to play a metagame where there are so many instances of field control on the field, and I really enjoyed having global objectives to fight over, creating a more interactive gamestate than just trading blows and switching. I can’t really explain why, probably because I’m not a doubles expert or maybe I’m just throwing buzzwords out (or I’m just out of touch with competitive Pokemon), but I really enjoy weather wars. Double Primal then naturally came to be my favorite archetype, and RayOgre was probably my 2nd most comfortable archetype throughout the season. The worlds finals involving these two archetypes made me very happy.
      Of course, having restricted mons as my favorite mons allowed me to easily suppress negative thoughts of the metagame. Smeargle is still dumb and Dark Void needs to get banned. Geomancy is borked but I’ll let that one pass for a bit.  I feel that these two can take over games too quickly that you’re gonna end up with flowcharted or hyperoffensive games, which aren’t fun imo. Flowcharting can also become a bad habit, and I learned from Nats that you want experience so you can pull off instinct based plays. Other than that, I enjoyed the rest of the restricteds in the meta. Groudon is arguably too strong but I think there are ample ways to counter it even if it does often require the use of Rayquaza and/or Kyogre. Groudon is a mon that facilitates various archetypes and playstyles, and as a result, I don’t mind its unmatched presence. I’m not one to care too much about individual variety - team style variety is more important, and Groudon is a good mon for the metagame to be centralized around imo.
      Nerf Special Groudon though. I don’t think Special Don is good but it’s impossible to switch into for sun based teams and often creates an Earth Power speedtie coinflip vs other Groudons of the same kind. This isn’t very healthy.
      One thing that really surprised me was how Wolfe managed to find a team that’s just so fitting for his technical playstyle in an overall hyperoffensive metagame. I have lots of respect for that.
      I’d actually be very upset if the rules revert to 2015 post worlds till 2017 because I  barely played 2015 and I don’t want to learn a meta that’s going to be gone in like 3-4 months. No thanks.
      Get ready for a long list
      Thank you to:
      Danny Mclanahan (cosmicexplorer) and Scott Henrehan (muffinhead) for kickstarting my VGC experience in 2011 and teaching me doubles.
      Aaron Traylor (Unreality) for being a great friend and a practice partner. You were also there for me in 2011 to help me get started.
      Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37), Alex Kuhn (Hibiki), Aaron Zheng (Cybertron), and Wolfe Glick, for providing a lot of VGC content early in the season for me to learn from. It was a blast to watch the videos, and I learned so much from them. Big fan!
      Tommy Cooleen for providing great streams for the first half of the format. I learned a ton from here, and I enjoyed interacting with you and the other viewers. I’m sorry that I had to Smeargle you out to get into Day 2.
      Cruisers (Simon, Jio, catme, Scar, Lexicon, Hongyu, DarkPenguin, Snake, Kamz, Biosci, Amarillo. Oh and Angel) for being amazing teammates and believing in me
      Grant Weldon (Velocity) for inspiring me to go back to running primals once more. You  never directly told me to do it, but your success reminded me that I was wrong to ditch something I had a lot of comfort with. I owe my worlds run to your Nats placement.
      Ricardo (RPIndaHouse) for discussing matchups and situations with me on twitter and for providing a great resource (top performing teams compilation).
      Chris Danzo (Lunar) for being a great friend and also supposedly my rival.
      Team Virginia (Yan (not sogeking), Dani, Jancarlo, SUN DUDE, Karl, Ian). I’m pretty sure I forgot people.
      Nick Borghi (LightCore). For helping me practice and being such an amazing friend. You made worlds and Nats very exciting.
      Conan for being the greatest VGC meme, and a source of metagame progression.
      Team Smogon (Nails, blarajan, Porengan, kamikaze, TFC, uhhh does Sam count?).
      Chuppa for being an inspiration as one of the most consistent Double Primal users in the country. Sorry your worlds run wasn’t as great as your other runs, but watching you really helped me.
      Eduardo Cunha (EmbC) for being super nice and happy irl.
      Double Primals
      Honestly there are likely people I missed. Don’t get salty pls ;_;
      The list doesn’t end there, of course. Now for the main ones
      Rajan Bal (blarajan) and Nick Navarre (Nails) for:
      Getting me into VGC in the recent year
      Being the main person I bounce ideas to
      Providing me with means of transport and a place to stay during events
      Having dumb ideas I can make fun of
      Ladder skype sessions
      (for blara) for basically building my worlds team, and creating the cores for Jon and Gavin’s squad. The same core (reminder: Gengar/Zong/Ogre) also won worlds, so his meta calls have been on point in the latter half of the season.
      Also being great friends
      Gavin Michaels for:
      Setting the standard for Double Primals...twice. Once during February, and once again at Worlds. You created the framework for the most fun archetype in the format.
      I was often skeptical of how the teams functioned, but I can’t doubt the success they have.
      Having an insane Chuppa impression
      Also screw you for creating the team that eliminated me from worlds
      Enosh Shachar for:
      Being a crazy tester and being willing to test virtually anything. Most people aren’t open to creative ideas, but you always brought something fresh. Talking to you was always great
      You gave us a lot of ideas to use for our teams. While we didn’t use them, we were often heavily considering them. You really helped with the teambuilding process, and opened us to consider that the metagame is wider than we thought. I really enjoyed that aspect and I wish that I’ll be able to repay those ideas with success in the future.
      Jonathan Evans for:
      I’m still utterly mystified that you got 2nd place at worlds btw
      For being my punching bag in randbats and battle factory
      Primal Squad
      Gengar Illuminati (jon, me, enosh, blara, gavin)
      Aaron Traylor for:
      Uh I’m posting his name here again because the first shoutout part wasn’t good enough.
      SMOGON HOUSE (blarajan, Nails, Porengan, SamVGC, kokoloko, rozes, Kiyo, CBB, CasedVictory)
      Feel free to drop any Pokemon related questions, and thanks for reading! Oh and if you haven’t played VGC, you should really consider it. It’s really fun meeting up with people from all over the nation and the world!
      That is all
      - Jibaku

    • By MajorBowman in Bowman's Corner 7
      Hi everyone. For the second year in a row, I am writing a report for the team I used to go 1-3 at Worlds Day 1. Exciting, I know. Last year I did it because, even though I realized after the event that the team had serious flaws, I personally loved the team and just wanted to talk about it. This time, however, I think the team is phenomenal and I just played so incredibly poorly. The same team went 6-1, 6-2, 5-3, and 5-3, so it's clearly capable of performing well. If you really don't care about a team unless it cut Day 2 then go ahead and click the x on the top right of the window I suppose, but I've never felt more confident in a team with which I performed so poorly. And with that, I present to you the newest archetype about to take the Pokeworld by storm: Sunny D!
      The Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start
      For the most part, if I use the word "we" in this section I'm referring to me and @Tman as we did most of the teambuilding work before sharing the team with a couple of our friends. The base of this team was a core of 4 Pokemon that both Tommy and I thought were incredibly good. I particularly liked the core because it had a pretty good matchup against the typical Big X teams, X being whatever their filler Pokemon is. I was quite comfortable bringing those 4 to every game against Big 6, so I was excited to build around it since the last two slots could be basically whatever I wanted.

      Playing God (Salamence) @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      EVs: 20 HP / 108 Atk / 20 Def / 108 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Tailwind  
      - Protect
      If God's the game that you're playing / Well we must get more acquainted
      Playing God by Paramore
      Yeah it's the same name, get over it. I feel like I don't really have anything to explain when it comes to Salamence, we all know it's the best mega in 2016 (sorry Kangaskhan). The original version of this team was somewhat weak to Weavile, so I put enough HP and Defense investment to always survive a -1 Icicle Crash. It might look like I just took the rest of the EVs and evenly split them in the attacking stats but that wasn't really intentional. I had 148 Attack originally and it just happened that I needed to take 40 of those EVs out for the defensive stuff. I didn't use Tailwind as much as I would on a Primals team because this team was slower by nature, but it was still a really nice option and I don't think anything else would have been any more beneficial.

      Silence (Groudon) @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      EVs: 236 HP / 176 Atk / 20 Def / 76 SpD  
      Brave Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Swords Dance  
      - Protect
      And you're just killing me with silence / And you're just killing me with time
      Silence by Mike Posner
      Groudon is the most used Pokemon in the format for a reason: it's just that yamsing good. Since the plan with this team was to heavily utilize Trick Room, I went with minimum speed to have the best chance to attack first under TR. If this team had Icy Wind I would have considered a more creative speed stat, but I hate playing the speed tier guessing game when I'm facing other Groudon, so I just wanted to know that I would be slower than the majority. I used max speed Jolly for the same reason in the spring. The bulk on this Groudon allows it to always survive Earth Power from 252 Timid Groudon and a single target Precipice Blades from 252 Jolly Groudon. Swords Dance was an amazing tool on this team. If you can get into a position where you have Trick Room and Gravity up and the Bronzong still alive, you basically have a free turn to click Hypnosis and Swords Dance before OHKOing everything on your opponent's team.

      Coffins (Bronzong) @ Chesto Berry  
      Ability: Heatproof  
      EVs: 252 HP / 188 Def / 68 SpD  
      Relaxed Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Gravity  
      - Hypnosis  
      - Trick Room
      How do you soften the thought of carrying coffins / We were so alive only to see us wither and die
      Coffins by MisterWives
      Speaking of Gravity, here's the culprit. Bronzong is so incredibly good in this format, if only because it can reliably set Trick Room against at least 4 members of Big X. We went with Heatproof because using Levitate with Gravity is kinda silly, and Heatproof guarantees you can take anything from Groudon at full health unless they have Overheat, and even then it's a damage roll. The EVs let Bronzong survive a Precipice Blades from Adamant/Brave Groudon 15/16 times with a dump in Special Defense. The set is pretty self explanatory, each move is necessary to the functionality of the team. It was originally holding a Lum Berry, but something we added later appreciated Lum more. We replaced it with a Chesto Berry so it could still take a Dark Void.

      Ode to Sleep (Smeargle) @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Moody  
      Shiny: Yes  
      EVs: 252 HP / 212 Def / 44 SpD  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 8 Spe  
      - Dark Void  
      - Wide Guard  
      - Crafty Shield  
      - Spiky Shield
      I'll stay awake / 'Cause the dark's not taking prisoners tonight
      Ode to Sleep by twenty one pilots
      Man my segues are on point tonight. Speaking of Dark Void, this is the little artistic beagle that we've all come to know and love. I honestly hate using Smeargle just as much as you hate watching people use Smeargle, but it's too good to leave behind. Smeargle was important for the Big X matchup because Crafty Shield is such an amazing move in this format. Crafty Shield allows you to all but ignore opposing Smeargle and deal with their partner or start setting up with your Groudon. Apart from the obvious benefit of preventing Dark Void, Crafty Shield also protects against Taunts or Roars while Trick Room is being set and helps against random status moves like Encore and Thunder Wave. Wide Guard is very nice for Groudon mirrors, especially if you know that they lack Earth Power. You can prevent your Groudon from taking meaningful damage while Swords Dancing 3 times for style points and then slam dunking their Groudon. The EV/IV spread should be familiar by now, it's nothing creative. Smeargle will survive any attack from a -1 Attack Kangaskhan and hits 84 Speed, one point slower than min speed Primals and other base 90 Pokemon.
      I see the Sunny, but where's the D?
      Well, dear reader, I'm glad you asked. In testing this core, I used a number of different restricted Pokemon to compliment both Groudon and the entire core. The first iteration was just our Nationals team (Kangaskhan, Groudon, Bronzong, Smeargle, Xerneas, Weavile) with Salamence over Kangaskhan. I liked this team for the alternate fast Xerneas mode, but for some reason I haven't played too well with Xerneas since farming a couple super early format PC's with vanilla big 6 teams. I also figured there would be a lot of Xerneas hate at Worlds, so trying to force myself to learn Xerneas a bit more didn't seem like the most efficient option. The next pair I tried was Yveltal + Zapdos, which I liked a lot more. I was originally using Assault Vest Foul Play Yveltal with Swagger Zapdos, but Foul Play meshes weird with Salamence's Intimidate so I dropped Foul Play and Swagger for Dark Pulse and Light Screen for more consistency. Yveltal + Zapdos was very good against Ray Ogre teams and Yveltal itself obviously helped against Double Primals, but these two made the team irreconcilably weak to Weavile. I didn't think I would see too much Weavile at Worlds, but enough people were using it on the Showdown ladder to get me concerned and I didn't really want to risk a near autoloss at such an important tournament. Finally, Tommy suggested Dialga. At first I was pretty sceptical, but after listening to him talk about it and watching him play a few games with it, I thought it was a really good idea.

      400 Lux (Dialga) @ Sitrus Berry  
      Ability: Pressure  
      EVs: 244 HP / 60 Def / 204 SpA  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Dragon Pulse  
      - Thunder  
      - Trick Room  
      - Protect
      We're never done with killing time / Can I kill it with you / 'Til the veins run red and blue
      400 Lux by Lorde
      Think about it for a second. What are the 3 things that Groudon dislikes facing the most? Salamence, Rayquaza, and Kyogre are the 3 things that have the potential to give Groudon a very hard time, and Dialga poops on them all. With the exception of the now-rare Draco Meteor set, Salamence can't deal with Dialga at all, so Dialga is able to either take a free KO, focus the partner, or set up Trick Room, whichever is most beneficial in the current state of the game. You have a 75% chance to OHKO 4 HP Mega Rayquaza, but enough of them are Focus Sash or Assault Vest that the 25% chance to miss the KO is mostly irrelevant. If they aren't sash or AV then they're probably Life Orb and will knock themselves out after one attack. Thunder is kinda weird, but it's the only way to consistently beat Kyogre. Thunder will 2HKO 252/4 Kyogre 75% of the time, and will almost always knock 252/172 Kyogre into Precipice Blades range. Dialga's neutral damage with Dragon Pulse is also pretty impressive. Most specially defensive Groudon will take around 45-50%, and it has a 90.6% chance to 2HKO 4 HP Mega Kangaskhan. The theory behind Thunder Dialga is that it singlehandedly makes the Ray Ogre matchup all but free and is a great bring vs Double Primal, which is usually accompanied by Salamence. One thought I had was to use Flash Cannon since it gives Dialga a way to hit Xerneas and the Fairy type redirectors that are sometimes present on Ray Ogre teams, but Thunder was so useful for the Kyogre matchup that I was fine sacrificing some of the other coverage. Besides, you have a 21% chance to paralyze Xerneas if you click Thunder so it basically makes Dialga a Xerneas counter. Dialga isn't really a Pokemon you should be bringing vs Xerneas anyway, so not having a way to damage it consistently is not a big deal. The 0 Speed IV with a neutral nature his a Speed stat of 95, which outspeeds Mega Salamence in Tailwind. The Defense investment allows Dialga to always survive a Precipice Blades from Adamant/Brave Groudon with 228 or less Attack EVs, and Groudon with any more investment only have a 1/16 chance to OHKO. With the Sitrus Berry, you also survive 2 Precipice Blades from -1 Groudon no less than 70% of the time, more frequently if they are less than max Attack. Mega Kangaskhan Low Kick will never OHKO with Sitrus Berry as well. While these calcs are cool, Sitrus Berry was most useful for tanking neutral hits and generally increasing Dialga's longevity. I get that it looks really weird on paper, but Dialga covers a lot of Groudon's poor matchups and I think that makes it more than worth using. Especially considering how popular Ray Ogre was at Worlds, I'd say that Dialga was a good call. I rarely brought Dialga against Big X in practice since Bronzong does that job much better. However, I really didn't have a problem with that as, like I mentioned earlier, the core 4 was specifically built with the Big X matchup in mind. The idea that you should be bringing both of your restricted Pokemon to every game is flawed anyway, so once you can get past that I think Sunny D is a perfectly viable restricted pair.

      Mr.KnowItAll (Scrafty) @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Happiness: 0  
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 116 Def / 132 SpD / 4 Spe  
      Careful Nature  
      IVs: 15 Spe  
      - Fake Out  
      - Low Kick  
      - Knock Off  
      - Super Fang
      It's such a tragedy / When people hardly speak / Try to live up to the person you pretend to be / You're Mr. Know-It-All
      Mr. Know-It-All by Young the Giant
      This last slot was the trickiest. We weren't really sure what we needed from this slot, so we wanted something that would be universally useful. The worst matchup for the 5 Pokemon so far was looking like Yveltal, and opposing Groudon could sometimes be annoying if they could prevent the Gravity Hypnosis mode. When I was talking to @Lexiconabout Worlds he mentioned that he was testing what was basically our first 5 Pokemon with Scrafty. I mentioned the idea to Tommy and we both liked it, so I shared the details of our squad with Alex and he joined the cult. Scrafty is a Pokemon that I've generally seen as very mediocre in this format, but it filled a couple of niche roles on this team that made it valuable enough to use in my eyes. The extra Intimidate was very helpful in dealing with opposing Groudon, especially the purely physical variants. Fake Out is always a valuable move, especially on a team like ours with the potential to fire off Dark Void or set up Swords Dance or Trick Room. Scrafty helped with Bronzong mirrors, as the only other way we had to deal relevant damage to Bronzong was our Groudon. However, Super Fang was easily the best reason to use Scrafty. Scrafty was slower than both Groudon and Dialga, so if Trick Room went up it was very easy to chip a couple Pokemon for half their health and let either of the big hitters finish them off. When everything is so bulky it's sometimes hard to do consistent damage with your non restricted and non mega Pokemon, but Super Fang alleviated that issue. Having another Pokemon that could threaten slow Smeargle in Trick Room was pretty useful too, as Bronzong was previously the only thing that undersped it. We put Lum Berry on Scrafty since non-sleep statuses like Burn affected it a little more than Bronzong. With this EV spread, Scrafty always survives a full power Water Spout from Modest Kyogre and a -1 Double-Edge from Salamence with 148 or less EVs in Attack. I haven't seen any Salamence go any higher than that in Attack investment so I was fine with that limitation. Opposing Groudon have to be max Attack to even have a chance to 2HKO with -1 Fire Punch, and even then they would need to max rolls. A lot of Groudon struggle to even 3HKO Scrafty with Precipice Blades at -1 Attack as well, which made Scrafty a pretty safe switch into physical Groudon. The Speed IV allows Scrafty to underspeed min speed Smeargle. @GreySong actually used Clefairy in this slot as he was given the team at an earlier stage of testing and we didn't know he was using it at Worlds until the morning of, but the rest of us had the cute little hoodlum.
      Alright, but why should I listen to you? You went 1-3!
      Yeah yeah, I had a bad day and played like I had never touched a 3DS before. Really can't talk my way around that. However, I like to think that I'm at least good enough to recognize a team that has the potential to be top tier, and I truly believe this team was worth using. Last year at Worlds I could think of a couple changes I would have made to the team if I could repeat the tournament, but I loved each and every part of this team and would easily use it again if I had the chance to redo Worlds. Two people made Day 2 using the team, and two more were one game away but got a bit unlucky in round 8. I'm not meaning to sound desperate for you to agree with my opinion or anything, but I guess I feel the need to justify the team after I couldn't do any better than a 25% win rate at the most important tournament of the year. If you've ever looked past a poor result to dissect a team, let it be now. I'm definitely interested in hearing your thoughts about the team, so feel free to comment and/or tweet at me and tell me any combination of "wow I love it you're so creative" and "lol you suck shut up." This is probably the most cynical post I've ever written, hopefully you appreciated my stupid humor.
      Quick shoutouts to everyone who used the team at Worlds (@Tman @Lexicon @BlitznBurst @ProfShroomish @GreySong  @megachar10), I really love having people to talk matchups and plot gameplans with at tournaments. I'm glad you all believed in our little creation as much as I did. They might do their own reports and include a rundown of their matches over the weekend, so be on the lookout for those.
      Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow me at @MajorBowman_! Man, it just doesn't have the same ring to it
    • By Talon in Talon's blog 7
      When asked why they attend VGC tournaments, players on the official Pokémon stream will often mention the community. While community is a major motivation for me to come compete in these tournaments, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t attend events with the intent to win. Despite one of my principle motivations being to win events, I haven’t had much luck outside of my home state of Texas. Among other things, Id like to explore what’s come from this difference of expectation and achievement throughout my VGC career.
      On the whole, I’d say I’m a player known more for my online persona than for my skill at the game. I tend not to take myself very seriously online, and as a result I doubt the average VGC player really knows much about Cedric “Talon” Bernier. That comes with the territory of being consistently inconsistent at events and carrying myself online in a way that’s frankly ‘meme-y’. However, unknown to most is a hyper-competitive side that rarely rears its head outside of tournaments. The fun, social Cedric and the intense, victory-driven Cedric never shift from one to the other faster than at a VGC event. Those that have played me at a Texas Premier Challenge know this better than anyone. I tend to joke around right up until Team Preview, at which point there’s a noticeable shift in my attitude and body language. While I doubt this is actually that uncommon, serious is a pretty strange look on me.
      That’s actually pretty strange for me to say, and I’ll explain why shortly, but first I need to revisit early years as a VGC player. Despite my competitiveness and drive to win, I’ve had a fairly unimpressive career. My first event was the Dallas Regional Championship in 2010, which I won as a Junior. Having won a Regional at my first event, US Nationals has always been the prize to me. However, I wasn’t able to earn a strong Nationals finish during my time as a Junior and Senior, leaving me unsatisfied with my time in the younger divisions. After my last season as a Senior, I was fortunate enough to be drafted to the Fallarbor Flames where I was able to hone my skills against some of the best Masters division players in the world. I arrived at Houston 2014 with the best intentions, ready to make my mark on the big-boy division after growing in the NPA… only to go 3-4.
      Now, my main social group in my early VGC years was primarily the #seniors, a group of friends in the division. Many of the people in this group grew up to be successful Masters division players. Aaron Zheng, Aaron Traylor, Gavin Michaels, Toler Webb, Enosh Shachar, to name a few. Now not all of the players in this group grew to be Masters division legends, but that was my perception of what was expected of me. And I’d just gone 3-4 at my first event. To say I was embarrassed was an understatement. Competing was my primary focus at Pokémon events, and I’d just gone negative. Devastated, I decided it was time to call it quits and focus on freshman year of high school.
      Now there’s several things wrong with the way I approached this event and the processed the result. No matter how good you are, everybody has an off day in Pokémon. So to judge your enjoyment of an event off of your final record is horribly detrimental. I think I seriously missed out on a lot of fun and happy memories at VGC tournaments early on in my career because I was too focused on tournament results.
      Next, I had no reason to be embarrassed by that finish. It’s a bad finish, yes, but most players are way too focused on their own success or failure to know how well you did if you aren’t a superstar. Furthermore, I can say the purpose was to focus on high school and sports all I want, but quitting VGC was not a healthy response to a bad event. I look back on that decision and I feel like it showed a fundamental lack of character that I’m not proud of.
      Anyways, I stuck to this decision for the remainder of the 2014 season, avoiding contact with my VGC friends on IRC and Facebook until after Worlds. Oddly enough, a chance Showdown encounter with my friend Kenan Nerad brought me back to competition. I recognized his alt, hit him up, and after catching up we built the next evolution of the legendary team archetype, Dig Boom. It was the first time I’d truly had fun playing Pokémon since 2012 if I’m being honest, and I decided I’d come to Houston Regionals that year to hang out with him, Jonathan Rankin, and of course, Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng. aaron have my child aaron I watch road to ranked everyday you are my inspiration please give me your ssn and your skin
      Now to everybody’s surprise, I ended up winning the Premier Challenge and the Regional itself, despite it being fairly stacked with big names like Aaron, Collin Heier, Omari Travis, and Blake Hopper being present. Though I put in a fair amount of work learning the 2014 format on Showdown and teambuilding, I had still put in far less practice and effort into Houston 2015 than I had for almost any event in my time playing VGC. Despite this, I had achieved my first Masters Regional Championship. With a sizeable chunk of CP, I decided I’d try to invest myself into the remainder of the 2015 season. Though I did well enough at events to get myself into the top 40 of NA and went 3-3 at Worlds, I was always one win or two outside of my expectations. Despite this, I’d consider 2015 the turning point of my VGC career.
      When I say “turning point,” I don’t mean the event that marked my coming dominance as a player, such as Collin Heier’s 2014 Madison Regional Championship. What I mean is that during 2015 I learned many valuable lessons about myself and about the game, some of which didn’t become obvious until later. For one, I feel that my competitive approach was incredibly flawed. I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been for common matchups, instead trusting my ability to play team preview and read my opponent to win games. There’s merit in that, but by choosing not to prepare a game plan against the most common archetypes of the format I was putting me at a competitive disadvantage. Next, at every event during the main 2015 season my team choice was questionable at best. I won’t go into specifics, but the teams I were using were fun and somewhat competitive, but they handicapped me in a format that was already difficult enough. The most important lesson I learned was not from myself playing, but from simply spectating Worlds Day 2. Prior to Worlds 2015, my view on Pokémon was that it was very read based with aspects of luck. However, after watching the Japanese players in Top 8, I realized I was thinking about it all wrong. Turn-by-turn reads and luck can be bypassed when using a strong enough team and with intelligent planning. After speaking with Blake about his experience against these strong trainers in Day 2 Worlds, he described how regardless of whether he won the turn, his opponents seemed to have accounted for it. It was if at one point of the match, they had locked down the win regardless of what moves you were going for. That’s the optimal Pokémon gameplay that I think every player should strive for.
      Though I learned these lessons in 2015, they didn’t immediately go into effect. There wasn’t a very noticeable change in my preparation or teambuilding at Houston 2016, and as such I had a fairly unimpressive 6-2 finish.
      After a short time messing around with the new 2016 format, I was fairly unenthusiastic and decided I’d take a break from playing until US Nationals and focus on my junior year of high school, arguably the most difficult and important for college. However, I kept a close eye on metagame progression and top finishing teams, not wanting to get too behind. During this break I was able to internally digest the lessons I’d noted from 2015 and think about how I could apply them in the future.
      After the end of AP Exams, preparation for Nationals began. I flirted with the most successful teams from US Regionals and European Nationals, and at first I thought Double Primals would be what I ended up using. However, I took a look back at my stint with the famous “Southern Special” in 2015 that focused heavily on using defensive options to choke out opponents, and decided this wasn’t the wisest of team choices. Though some players like Wolfe Glick can pull off this defensive method of play, a fundamental mechanic of the game is against you when you’re playing reactively. Using a reactive team means that you’re extending games by switching around to improve your positioning while your opponent attacks. While this allows you to pin your opponent in awkward positions, you also give them more turns to fire off attacks that could get critical hits and activate secondary effects such as freeze. That’s not to say that Double Primals is not a good team archetype, but I simply felt it was in my best interest to use something more proactive. And thus, I went to the most proactive restricted combination in 2016, Xerneas Groudon.

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite 
      Ability: Inner Focus 
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe 
      Jolly Nature 
      - Fake Out 
      - Power-Up Punch 
      - Double-Edge 
      - Sucker Punch 
      Alright, so I guess this is the point where I actually start talking about Pokémon instead of whatever the wall of text above was. After pretty much improvising matchups against common teams in the past, I decided this year I would have loose game plans against the major archetypes. Using Kangaskhan as my sole-Mega option was really a comfort pick, and one I don’t regret. In planning and practice, I found that Salamence would often sit on the bench. That’s not to disrespect or say Salamence is bad by any means, as I believe it to be one of the best Pokemon in the format. Anyways, the only interesting thing about this set is Double-Edge over Frustration, as after a Power-Up Punch Frustration is conventionally better for longevity. However, the pre-boosted base damage of Double-Edge is just so valuable, and I also value getting OHKO’s on things like Salamence and bulky Groudon at +1, which came up several times during the tournament.

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb 
      Ability: Desolate Land 
      252 HP / 156 Atk / 44 SpD / 52 Spe
      Brave Nature 
      - Precipice Blades 
      - Fire Punch 
      - Eruption 
      - Protect
      Along with many other players in Day 2 at Nationals, I decided to use a Brave, bulkier Groudon in order to take hits and function in Trick Room. However, while most opted for Swords Dance to sweep teams in Gravity, I decided Eruption would prove to be valuable with the Tailwind support another member of the team could provide. This EV spread is pretty odd, and extremely tailored to this team specifically so I wouldn't recommend it. The bulk let's it survive Timid 252 SpA Earth Power 93.7% of the time. Brave 52 speed is a fairly odd speed stat, but it let's me outspeed Choice Scarf Smeargle in Tailwind and -1 252 Jolly/Timid Groudon/Kyogre. However, I'm slower than Primals with no speed investment, which let's me utilize Trick Room well. This speed actually ended up being fairly odd in Day 2, as many Groudon were Brave 31/0 IV, so I ended up being the faster Groudon in most situations and still maintaining tons of bulk!

      Xerneas @ Power Herb 
      Ability: Fairy Aura 
      Bold Nature 
      - Moonblast 
      - Dazzling Gleam 
      - Geomancy 
      - Protect 
      My Xerneas is fairly standard, focusing on sweeping with Geomancy. However, while many players decided to use Timid or Modest natures, the lack of Intimidate on my team made me uncomfortable running any nature other than Bold. I’ll once again be keeping the exact details of my EVs secret for similar reasons, but the defensive and special attack investment are very general. Not that I'm good enough for players to specifically speed creep me, but it would be detrimental enough to be the slower Bold Xerneas at one game at Worlds that I'm going to withhold the specifics. Sorry to be that guy :^{

      Smeargle @ Focus Sash 
      Ability: Moody 
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 Spe 
      Timid Nature 
      - Dark Void 
      - Crafty Shield 
      - Wide Guard 
      - Spiky Shield 
      Though many people’s complaint with 2016 is Xerneas, I think this little rascal is the real thing keeping this year from being viewed positively. Every turn Smeargle stays on the field, you risk it getting a game defining Moody boost. I used the standard Smeargle Crafty Shield to prevent Thunder Wave and Dark Void from taking over battles, and Wide Guard to lock down opposing Groudon and most Kyogre on Double Primal teams. I used Spiky Shield over King’s Shield because despite how strong of an option that King’s Shield can be against Kangaskhan, it really opens me up to opposing Smeargle Dark Voids. Lastly, Dark Void is the high risk/high reward move that really let’s Kangaskhan and Xerneas set up and bust games right open. Looking back on the tournament, perhaps an 84 speed Smeargle to beat Groudon or Kyogre in Trick Room might have been a better call for the Day 2 metagame, but Timid definitely came in useful during Day 1.

      Cresselia @ Sitrus Berry 
      Ability: Levitate 
      Bold Nature 
      244 HP / 196 Def / 68 Spe
      - Icy Wind 
      - Trick Room 
      - Skill Swap 
      - Psychic 
      Though I added Cresselia to my team last, it ended up being the glue that held it together in many games. Icy Wind support and Skill Swap made my Groudon a terror for opposing Groudon to deal with. Trick Room allowed me to control speed in yet another way if they gained the speed advantage through some other means, like Tailwind. I rounded out the set with Psychic for consistent damage. The bulk was dumped into HP and defense, with the remaining dumped into speed to outspeed neutral natured Groudon/Kyogre, which actually won me a surprising amount of games.

      Crobat @ Lum Berry 
      Ability: Inner Focus 
      EVs: 176 HP / 108 Def / 4 SpD / 220 Spe 
      Timid Nature 
      - Tailwind 
      - Super Fang 
      - Haze 
      - Taunt 
      Though it’s very uncommon on Xerneas Groudon teams, Crobat more than proved its worth during the tournament. The tools in Crobat’s kit are super disruptive and allow for me to execute my preferred strategy. As previously mentioned, Eruption Groudon in Tailwind was a very frightening prospect to deal with, and combined with Super Fang it was a very threatening game 2 or 3 mix-up. Super Fang was also a useful kill primer for Kangaskhan’s Double Edge. Haze was obviously intended to deal with Xerneas after the Geomancy, but my favorite use of it was eliminating nasty Smeargle Moody boosts and Intimidates. One specific instance of this was Conan Thompson’s Bold Smeargle could survive my -1 Kang Double Edge and was at +2 Evasion, so rather than risk the game on connecting a Taunt, I used Haze and took a risk-free KO. Taunt was useful for Smeargle and Trick Room setters such as Bronzong. The speed EVs let me outspeed Weavile, while the defense allows me to survive Kangaskhan Double-Edge.
      Now that I’ve talked about the team, I feel that I can talk about my tournament experience as a whole.
      Throughout the weekend, I played 15 sets of Pokémon, 12 of which were against XernDon teams (6/8 Day 1, scooping last round, 6/7 Day 2). Needless to say that's a lot of Pokemon to play in a weekend, but I was surprisingly unaffected by exhaustion. I think that’s a combination of steady intake of water and eating assorted nuts that I packed, and also because I had a lax attitude towards my result. At this point I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my two best finishes in Masters have come from events that I went in with low expectations. Playing every battle stressed out makes you play a lot more conservatively and not trust your gut.
      My one major gripe was the break in between Day 2 Swiss and Top Cut. I understand that it makes for a better spectator event to stream every round of the Top 12, but I felt it was very, very detrimental to the players in Top 4 who had a bye. I believe Swiss ended at around 2 PM, and my Top 8 match was at around 7:30 PM. That’s a lot of time to get cold, and I feel like it showed in my early plays game 1. Yeah, I get it, boohoo I didn’t have to play a match in Top 12 and now I’m whining about it, but I think it’s a valid complaint that I had to wait 5 hours to cool down before playing the match with the most money on the line I’ve had in my career. That’s not to say I would have won the set if we had played shortly after Swiss, as Aaron also had an hour or two to cool off after beating Gary in the Top 12.
      There’s actually a lot of reasons I lost that set, and the next one I’ll focus on is a break in my mentality. Throughout the weekend I was trying to take each set as just that: nothing more than 2-3 games of Pokemon. However, as soon as I got to Top 8 and the prospect of being the National Champion came to my mind, I was suddenly playing not to lose, rather than making plays that would win. I think this is most visible in my game 1 lead of Kangaskhan-Crobat against Aaron’s Bronzong-Smeargle. Despite the lead being in my favor, I switched Kangaskhan rather than putting Aaron on the defensive with a Power-Up Punch on his Bronzong slot. I ended up refocusing during game 2 and started making some more confident plays, which I’m proud I was able to do, but that lapse in mentality is something I’m trying to patch up before Worlds.
      However, it’s game 3 of that set that’s going to haunt me for a long time. A variety of critical Smeargle related things happened, which I can’t really complain about. I know I’m not the only person who’s had an important game lost or won based off of Smeargle. Throughout the tournament, I did a very good job of keeping opposing Smeargle from controlling games with my Kangaskhan, Crafty Shield, and Crobat, but this is the one match all tournament that I let it do its thing. I think the lesson to be learned from this match in particular is the necessity of bringing a Smeargle down as quickly as you can without sacrificing too many resources. Turn 1 I had a free Dazzling Gleam onto a Salamence and Smeargle, and even though it wouldn’t have knocked out either, it was a play that respected Smeargle and would have taken a lot of potential luck out of the course of that match.
      That’s something I think a lot of players refuse to acknowledge about 2016. I think this format emphasizes two fundamental skills of the game that many players have a lot to work on, the first being luck management. Now, in the past I feel like I’ve been fairly mediocre when it came to luck management. However, in evaluating this format I quickly came to see how prominent a role luck plays in this format more than any other. With the Primal’s shaky accuracy signature moves and Smeargle introducing Moody, Dark Void accuracy, sleep turns, and life-or-death 50/50s, I decided I’d sacrifice the integrity of the “Big 6” core in favor of something to fortify myself as much as possible against bad luck. Though I was one of the few XernDon users to go about this by using Crobat, many others that did well at Nationals had similar ideas. You’ll actually notice that the many players with this core in Day 2 opted for a core of Crafty Shield Smeargle, Salamence, and Bronzong, and Groudon as a way to mitigate luck factors. They immediately threatened Tailwind and their own Smeargle to end the possibilities of speed ties, and they also could bring in their own Bronzong and set-up an accurate Precipice Blades sweep in Gravity. Most players doing this were clearly able to control opposing Smeargle, as there was a fair amount of this strategy in the Top 12.
      The next skill I feel that many have yet to entirely master is positioning. Momentum can shift in this format more than any other I’ve seen. Giving your opponent a free turn is devastating enough to end a game instantly. Thus, it’s more important than ever before to make sure that every turn you’re maintaining safe board position and preventing your opponent from getting their chess pieces in the position they want. Despite how quickly players cast aside Crobat early format as one-dimensional, I’d argue it to be one of the best positioning Pokemon in the format. Leaving it alone lets it chip away your team with Super Fang, while knocking it out results in a free switch to Groudon, Kangaskhan, or Xerneas to start blowing holes through your team in Tailwind. The goal of VGC is to knock out 4 of your opposing Pokémon before they do the same to you, but it’s very important to understand the implication of each individual KO.
      Now, I’ve talked a lot about mentality and what I’ve learned from Pokémon events in the past, but I guess it’s time to go over what I’ve learned from this event. Overall, I feel like I’ve finally found a good medium in between going complete try-hard and having fun socially at events. Talking to lots of old and new friends at events keeps me refreshed and loose, which leads to success within the game.
      More surprising is despite how much I’ve coveted a strong Nationals finish since the start of my VGC career, I’m not satisfied. It seems silly to say that Top 8 in Masters isn’t enough seeing as I haven’t even Top Cut since 2012, but what can I say, I’m a competitor. Even though I came into this event with low expectations, by Top 8 I was more confident than I’d ever been that I could take a tournament. To lose that early in cut was upsetting, but I think it’s the best thing that could have happened to me coming in to Worlds. I’m driven to get back on the main stage and this time come out on top. It’s going to be tough getting through the minefield that is Day 1, but I think at Nationals I finally proved that I’m capable enough.
      And more importantly, I’m hungry.  See you in San Francisco.
      You thought I wouldn’t give shout outs? Please.
      Biosci and New York Squad- I’m incredibly thankful that William let me stay in his room on my first night in Colombus, and thanks to the rest of the New York player for being a joy to be around.
      Snake- I had a ton of fun just destroying everybody in William’s room with you in Smash 4. Wouldn’t have done it with any other born and raised Texan #teamtexas
      Jake’s Room- Thanks to Andy, Justin, Jake, and Evan for letting us randomly come to your room at night and hang out, it was super fun. Thanks for supplying soda pop and Smash Bros.
      Michael Holmbad- I didn’t know you before this event, but I’m really glad we got to hang out so much at Nationals. You were really encouraging throughout the tournament and have an awesome attitude towards the game. Wishing the best to you in the future.
      Absentee Texans- Gone in body, but not in spirit. To Logan and Benji, I loved seeing you guys the weekend before Nationals and had loads of fun. To David and Austin, even though I didn’t get to see you guys much this year, I’m looking forward to Houston when we reunite <3. And Oliver, you really helped me theory a ton this year and I’m looking forward to seeing you perform at Worlds. You’ll kill it!
      The Boiler (Hotel) Room- David, Collin, and Blake, you guys really made this Nationals one to remember. Oh and I guess Caleb got me some emergency high-quality bred Pokémon the night before. Collin you’re always a joy to be around, and I really got to know you better that weekend David. And Blake, we’ve been friends for a long time but more than that I’ve learned a lot from you. Whether it be from theorying, talking at events, or the countless losses you’ve handed to me, you’re probably one of the biggest reasons for my growth as a player. Hoping that you finally crack Top Cut at Worlds.
    • By Firestorm in Firestorm's blog 8
      Pokémon announced some major changes for the 2016 to 2017 Pokémon Championship Series today. The biggest news is likely to be the elimination of National Championships in exchange for four major events in each of the rating zones: North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. This will be welcome news to those who wanted a similar structure to the US National Championships and allow for much higher production value across the board. Additionally, these events will each have a prize pool of almost $250,000 (presumably age divisions combined) which puts that level of event at around $1,000,000 worldwide. National Championships may be approved on a case-by-case basis.
      Regional Championships will now be spread around the year rather than specific weekends -- think the way events outside North America worked -- and offer around $50,000 in prizes per event. There will also be travel certificates awarded at events themselves like they used to be several years ago that can be deposited into an account and used as the player wishes, maybe towards any event rather than just a specific event. More details to come.
      Midseason Showdowns and Premier Challenges will also make a return next season.
      Read the full, official details with no speculation at Pokemon.com.
    • By Velocity in The Velocity Vector 24
      Hello everyone, my name is Grant Weldon, also known as Velocity online. I'm a competitive Pokemon VGC player from Michigan and have been playing in tournaments for just over a year now. I recently finished in the Top 4 at the 2016 US National Championships out of over 400 players in the Masters Division. Because of this result, I earned an invitation and paid trip to compete in Day 2 of the World Championships that will be happening next month in San Francisco, California. I'm extremely excited to share my story and team -- I hope you enjoy!

      Huge thanks to Jip Snoek for the incredible artwork. Follow him on Twitter @keonspy!
      The Story
      I began playing Pokemon with Diamond and Pearl in 2007. I played casually after that on and off for several years. What really got me hooked on the competitive scene, though, was watching the 2014 World Championships. I aspired to be on that stage. I aspired to be great. So I chased greatness. Every day after that, I trained as much as possible. There was a fire lit inside of me to pursue my dream. 
      I learned VGC by watching Aaron "Cybertron" Zheng's videos. I watched high level play over and over from previous National and World Championships and spent hours on Nugget Bridge combing through reports, learning and absorbing every detail I could about the game. I attended my first Premier Challenge in January of 2015 where I somehow managed to Top Cut. I also went 6-3 at St. Louis Regionals the next month. These two finishes reassured me as a beginner that I was doing something right, so I decided to continue my journey. 
      Unfortunately, I began to plateau. Two more X-3 finishes at Regionals and a 4-5 finish at Nationals inspired me to look for what I was doing wrong. They pushed me to train harder and to train smarter. I began seeing my results improve, going X-2 at 2 Regionals. Unfortunately, every time, a very small percentage knocked me out of Top Cut. Whether it was a Stone Edge miss or double Rock Slide flinch, it seemed that cutting an event remained elusive. I kept knocking at the door; I was so close, yet so far. Seeing the top players consistently rise to the top again and again showed me that there was something I was missing. I needed to figure that out to prove myself to the world.
      I felt, however, that I was beginning to acclimate into the community. I had made friends from across the country and even across the world. I began to see new perspectives on the game and get new opinions about Pokemon and teams. By learning and gaining these outside viewpoints, I was able to shift my focus and enhance my gameplay even more. Ricardo Pinto was instrumental in this regard, helping teambuild and practice with me one-on-one. His help really allowed me to identify where I was going wrong and what I could do to fix my mistakes.
      Once the 2016 season rolled around, I was able to Top Cut all 4 Midseason Showdowns I attended, and I managed to win in Columbus and make finals of Indianapolis. These really boosted my confidence going into Madison Regionals; however, I finished with another X-2 finish. My first loss was due to a double Precipice Blades miss and my second to a double Protect and another Precipice Blades miss. It seemed that once again, the large finish I was looking for would evade me. I was getting really frustrated, seemingly all the odds in the world were against me every time.
      I didn't give up though; I never threw in the towel. I just kept my goal in mind, learning from each situation. I had failed to make it so many times, yet I persevered. I worked harder and harder, reflecting on what I had done wrong to even allow the odds to happen in the first place. I saw my play steadily improve. I had a dream to make it onto the big stage, and I spent every moment I could working towards that dream. I was able to qualify for Day 1 of the 2016 World Championships, which was a huge accomplishment for me. I was so excited to be able to play in Worlds Day 1, but I wanted more. I wanted the large finish to prove that I was one of the best. I would have that opportunity at the US National Championships, where I could make my dream come to fruition...
      The Team-Building Process
      When I first began using Double Primals, I used a team inspired by Alejandro Gomez @Pokealex and built by Ricardo. I originally used this team because its matchup against Groudon+Xerneas was extremely good. This team featured Minimum Speed Kyogre and Groudon to sweep under Trick Room. The last slots were composed of Mega Salamence, Min Speed Smeargle, Bronzong, and Life Orb Thundurus.

      The team performed well; however, Ricardo suggested that I try Maximum Speed Groudon to complement the team's faster mode. I kept the slow Kyogre because the combination of Bronzong+Kyogre was intended to beat Groudon+Xerneas teams. I also found that I rarely used Smeargle, so I switched to Ferrothorn in that slot to improve some weaker matchups.

      I managed to win the Midseason Showdown in Columbus and seal my Day 1 Worlds invite with this variation. I still felt that the Ferrothorn didn't quite mesh with the team. It helped with matchups but still left me with some awkward positioning. I knew I wanted another steel type, so with the rise in Yveltal to counter teams like mine, I decided to give Mawile a go.

      I really liked this iteration of the team, and I even took it to Madison Regionals. But again, I felt that Mawile was out of place. I had a large weakness to Rayquaza+Kyogre teams and to tricks such as Choice Scarf Smeargle. Groudon+Xerneas teams were increasingly difficult to beat as Xerneas were getting bulkier, and they incorporated new techs specifically for the Double Primal matchup. I tested many different Pokemon, from Lapras to Clefairy to Infernape, but none seemed to be working. I even considered scrapping the archetype and using Groudon+Xerneas, but Ricardo, Zach Droegkamp @Braverius, and Eduardo Cunha @EmbC thankfully talked me out of it, since I was especially comfortable with playing Double Primals. I ultimately decided that Kangaskhan was the most neutral call, offering me a wide range of control against any opposing team. The final six Pokemon looked like this:

      The Team

      Groudon @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      EVs: 12 HP / 244 Atk / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Substitute  
      - Protect  
      Groudon: the most dominant force in the VGC16 metagame and the first component of the Double Primal duo. Even though I had a Trick Room mode on my team, I opted for a fast Groudon; Kyogre was for the Trick Room mode. I could lead with Groudon and brute force my way through teams, then clean up with Trick Room in the back. I was able to cover both ends of the speed spectrum, and because most opponents came prepared for slow Groudon, they were often surprised or underprepared for a fast Groudon and the quick offensive pressure it exerts - even in best-of-three. The ability to deal massive amounts of spread damage with Precipice Blades after little to no setup could not have been more appreciated. Additionally, having both Primals on this team allowed for great defensive positioning; being able to switch in one of the weathers meant I could maintain control of gameflow.
      Substitute was perhaps the most interesting move on this Groudon set. Having a fast Substitute initially was meant to outspeed Smeargle and block Dark Void. While this came in handy many times, Substitute was also used to buy free turns. If I expected a Protect and an attack into Groudon, I could Substitute, allowing me to gain a turn without wasting a Protect. Additionally, if the opponent had little offensive pressure on the field, I could set up a Substitute and make Groudon almost unstoppable. This was also used against opposing teams that had Icy Wind. I could Substitute in the face of Icy Wind, since Icy Wind usually doesn't break the Substitute or lower Speed through it. The 12 HP IVs place Groudon's HP at a 4n+1 number, meaning I could hypothetically set up 4 Substitutes with 1 HP remaining.

      Kyogre @ Blue Orb  
      Ability: Drizzle  
      EVs: 252 HP / 116 Def / 140 SpA  
      Quiet Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Origin Pulse  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Thunder  
      - Protect  
      Kyogre is the second restricted Pokemon on this team and completes the Double Primal duo. Kyogre was mainly to pressure Groudon+Xerneas teams and does this exceptionally well when paired with Bronzong, especially under Trick Room. I decided to run absolute minimum Speed to be as fast as possible under Trick Room. Many players complain about Double Primal mirror matches because the first priority is learning opposing Speeds. This was never an issue with my team since my Primals were maximum and minimum Speed, eliminating mindgames and making the worst-case scenario a Speed Tie. I originally ran Water Spout & Scald, but I switched to Origin Pulse & Thunder for Nationals because opposing Kyogre could be difficult to deal with. I really did not want to give up accuracy, but having Thunder allowed me to greatly improve difficult matchups. Also, many teams are surprisingly ill-equipped for Kyogre, so if I can position the Kyogre correctly against these teams, it can often have free turns to fire off large amounts of spread damage with Origin Pulse. 

      Salamence @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      EVs: 4 HP / 52 Atk / 4 Def / 196 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Draco Meteor  
      - Protect  
      Salamence is the Mega Evolution that I've had the most experience with. I often use it with Trick Room teams for the utility it provides. While this may seem counter-intuitive, Salamence does a tremendous job at supporting Trick Room. It can Intimidate potential threats to the Trick Room setter, allowing Trick Room to be set up more easily. It can also threaten massive damage, then pivot out into a slower Pokemon to begin taking advantage of the limited Trick Room turns. Additionally, once the effect wears out and the opposing team is thoroughly weakened, Salamence can return to the field and clean up with its high speed and large offense. I opted for Draco Meteor instead of Tailwind because I wanted to be able to win Salamence mirrors, and since Rayquaza was such a large threat to my team, Draco Meteor provided additional pressure to handle it. While Tailwind is good for large momentum swings, I found that I didn't find myself in situations where I needed it and instead chose to go for a more specific attack.

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite  
      Ability: Inner Focus  
      Happiness: 0  
      EVs: 12 HP / 164 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Frustration  
      - Power-Up Punch  
      - Sucker Punch  
      - Fake Out  
      Kangaskhan was chosen last on this team to fill the slot that Smeargle, Ferrothorn, and Mawile had once occupied. I was the least familiar with how Kangaskhan played, but I did have some experience with it. I needed a Pokemon that was versatile and just generally solid, especially against trickier threats. Fake Out pressure is extremely good at disrupting the momentum that more "gimmicky" teams rely on. It's also useful to help Groudon set up a Substitute or for Bronzong to set up Trick Room. Power-up Punch could instantly swing all offensive momentum into my favor. If +2 Kangaskhan is paired with one of the Primals, there are two powerful threats on the field to be dealt with. I opted for Frustration on Kangaskhan, because I usually don't prefer using Double-Edge in combination with Power-up Punch. Additionally, I used Frustration over Return because I would rather have zero Happiness on Kangaskhan. This is because Smeargle and Ditto usually run maximum Happiness to Transform into the more common Return variant. If one of these Pokemon Transforms into my Pokemon, their Frustrations will be doing minimal damage. Thanks to Nicholas Borghi for the EV spread.

      Thundurus @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Prankster  
      EVs: 4 HP / 248 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Thunder Wave  
      - Hidden Power [Water]  
      - Protect  
      Thundurus has been one of the most consistent support Pokemon in VGC ever since it was allowed. Prankster Thunder Wave can immediately slow down offensive threats and begin putting dice rolls into the user's favor. If I couldn't bring Bronzong against a Xerneas team, I would often have to rely on Paralyzing the Xerneas before it was able to run through my team. I had used Life Orb on Thundurus all season, but I switched to Focus Sash for Nationals because it was too frail otherwise. Thundurus is able to be led against almost any opposing team because it provides a large amount of support and can even threaten offense with Thunderbolt. The absence of Taunt made Smeargle matchups a lot trickier; however, I did have other means of dealing with Smeargle. I opted for Hidden Power Water instead to be able to snipe Groudon. Many teams rely solely on Groudon for offensive pressure, so I could instantly eliminate all offense on the opposing side of the field. HP Water also helped in the Double Primal mirror. Being able to threaten knockouts, switches, and the weather advantage all gave necessary leverage in combating the mirror.

      Bronzong @ Chesto Berry  
      Ability: Levitate   
      EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 140 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Trick Room  
      - Skill Swap
      - Imprison
      Last, but certainly not least... Bronzong! The bell is something that is no stranger to VGC but hasn't seen much success in more recent years. When the VGC 2016 rules were announced in December 2015, Bronzong was a Pokemon that I was using even then (there are Showdown replays to prove it!). I remember texting Chance Alexander ecstatically that I had discovered the meta call. Fast forward several months, and Pokealex had pioneered Bronzong in the new format. 
      Bronzong is best when supported by Kyogre, since it is then immune to Groudon's most common attacks. It can also Trick Room, shifting offensive power into the favor of my slower Kyogre. I can also Skill Swap my own Kyogre to reset the rain, allowing Kyogre to knockout a potential Groudon switch-in. This also transfers Levitate to my Kyogre, making it virtually immune to Groudon. Not only does Bronzong offer support, it pressures Xerneas offensively with Gyro Ball. This makes Bronzong a better option than Cresselia when attempting to deal with the Groudon+Xerneas core. In the final slot, I chose Imprison, perhaps the most interesting move on my entire team. I predicted that many people would be running Groudon+Xerneas teams with Cresselia or Bronzong. Bronzong typically suffers against Cresselia because it loses the Skill Swap weather war under Trick Room. Since Cresselia is slower under Trick Room, it will be able to Skill Swap last and ensure that the opposing weather dominates. However, if I use Imprison, the Cresselia cannot use Skill Swap, thus winning me the weather war. This also eliminates Trick Room reversal mindgames and can often render Cresselia slots useless. 
      A last unique choice on this Bronzong was the Chesto Berry. I used Lum Berry the whole season, but I realized that Chesto Berry would actually be more beneficial. This is because Burn is largely irrelevant, and Bronzong is immune to Poison. Also, I often actually wanted Bronzong to be Paralyzed so it could deal more damage with Gyro Ball and to prevent Dark Void. I could even Paralyze myself to accomplish these goals. Having Chesto Berry ensured I could be Paralyzed if necessary, while still being able to wake up from Sleep.
      The EV spread was taken from a report by Kelvin Koon, Justin Burns, and Raphael Bagara. It survives an Intimidated Fire Punch from Adamant Groudon. I originally used a Brave Nature with 116 Attack IVs to OHKO Xerneas after Geomancy; however, with nearly all Xerneas becoming more defensively invested, I figured I would 2HKO them anyway and invest more heavily in Bronzong's bulk. Lastly, my Bronzong at the tournament was Shiny, adding tremendously to the aesthetic appeal of my team.
      The Tournament - Day One
      This is the day I had trained for. Countless hours of hard work culminated to this moment. I had locked up my Day 1 Worlds invite, so that pressure was off. However, I wanted something grand. I wanted to Top Cut, something that had eluded me so many times before. I was nervous, but I remained calm and focused. Above all, I tried to enjoy the experience. After all, that's what Pokemon's about, right?
      (Apologies if I make a mistake. I played 45 games over the course of the weekend and am going off memory, so some of the details might be a bit hazy.)
      Round 1: Cassandra Fordyce (Cassie)

      Before the first round started, I told my friends Eric Hogan and Jack Hatch that the one matchup I was the most scared of facing was Choice Scarf Kyogre. You wouldn't believe what I had to play against Round 1! The team seemed really similar to the one that an American used to finish Top 4 at Japan Nationals in Seniors. During these games, my main focus was to eliminate the Rayquaza, something made easier by having Draco Meteor. Once Air Lock/Delta Stream was gone, my Groudon's Desolate Land could overpower the Drizzle from the Scarf Kyogre, winning me the weather war and thus, the set. Defeating one of my scariest matchups early on gave me confidence going forward.
      WW [1-0]
      Round 2: Colby Mearns

      When I first glanced at Colby's team, it seemed that he had almost nothing to stop Bronzong+Kyogre under Trick Room. His Crobat was threatening this setup with Taunt, so in the first game I immediately eliminated Crobat, clearing the way for Bronzong+Kyogre to sweep in the back. In game two, he smartly adjusted by bringing the Crobat late game to Taunt my Bronzong, denying my Trick Room and allowing his Groudon to come in and wreak havoc. In the third game, he used Psych Up with his Groudon, copying his Xerneas' Geomancy. At this point, I needed both Kyogre+Bronzong on the field at the same time, since Trick Room was the only way to win. If I had just Bronzong on the field, he could threaten the Kyogre switch-in. I switched in Salamence and allowed him to get the double knockout on both Salamence+Thundurus. From here, I was able to Protect Kyogre and Trick Room, then dish out massive offense. He still ended up needing a Triple Protect to win. I was nervous when he got the Double, but thankfully his third one failed.
      WLW [2-0]
      Round 3: Jacob Pocta (FlynRider)

      If I thought my Scarf Kyogre matchup was bad, I just needed to wait until I saw Jacob's team. He's a really cool guy and was qualified for Day 1 Worlds, so I knew I was in for an extremely tough match. Rayquaza+Kyogre is an archetype my team struggles against in general. Add Raichu, Ferrothorn, and Landorus-T to that mix, and it's almost unwinnable. Jacob played very well, correctly predicting whether or not I would switch in Groudon and calling other moves of mine as well. I was a bit disappointed to get a loss this early in the tournament, but I tried to not let it faze me.
      LL [2-1]
      Round 4: Jeremy Odena

      Jeremy's team appeared to be a variant of Wolfe Glick's Florida Regional winning team. I remember having to do a lot of shuffling in order to win the weather war. Once I confirmed that his Landorus was Choice Banded, I would try locking it into Earthquake against my Salamence+Thundurus or into Rock Slide against my Primals. In the first game, he landed a Critical Hit onto my Groudon with his Landorus, putting me into a really bad position, unable to knockout his Dialga. To win, I needed to Critical Hit the Dialga back with Draco Meteor from about 75%, and I was actually able to, allowing me to take the first game! He was able to manage his Landorus against my Primals well in the second game, bringing the set to a third. In the endgame, he got a crucial Rock Slide flinch, putting me into an almost certain losing position. On the following turn, however, my Groudon at 14 HP dodged his Rock Slide, allowing me to knockout the Landorus. I may have still won the third game because I had Salamence waiting in the back. Either way, I managed to come out on top in this set. Both games I won involved him getting extremely lucky, forcing me to need to get lucky in return. This was a very nerve-wracking set.
      WLW [3-1]
      Round 5: Chuppa Cross IV (Chuppa)

      For this round, I got paired against Chuppa, one of the most consistent players all season. He was using Double Primals, the archetype that brought him success. I can't remember the exact details of this set, but in the first game he landed a timely Critical Hit onto my Kyogre with a Salamence Double-Edge. This got the knockout, preventing me from getting my Ice Beam off that turn, which would have virtually sealed the win for me. In the second game, Chuppa heavily outplayed me to lock up his win. It would have been nice to get a third game after the bit of RNG in the first, but that's Pokemon for you! There's a good reason Chuppa is one of the most consistent players of the format. This meant that I had my second loss, and it was really early in the tournament. My back was against the wall. I needed to win four sets in a row if I wanted to move on to the second day. Each would be an elimination match where someone packs their bags and goes home, and the other would live for another round. It was time to focus.
      LL [3-2]
      Round 6: Kamran Jahadi (Kamz)

      To stay alive, I got paired against none other than the 2011 Senior World Champion. He had a Groudon+Xerneas team with Bronzong and Thundurus being the more interesting picks. Again, I apologize that I don't remember very much about this set. I probably led Salamence+Groudon to break through most of his team, with the Bronzong+Kyogre mode to clean up in the back. In the first game, I ended up getting a first-turn wake-up with Groudon to win. In the second, a timely full Paralysis helped me seal the set. I'm not sure that either of these fortunate circumstances were game-defining, but they certainly helped. Kamran was a really cool guy, and it was disappointing that we had to play for elimination. I managed to survive another round; there were only three more wins to go.
       WW [4-2]
      Round 7: Toler Webb (Dim)

      And here I am, paired against the defending US National Champion, playing to avoid tournament death. Not only was Toler the former National Champion, he also won Worlds as a Senior in 2012, making that the second consecutive Senior World Champion I faced. Looking at his team, my matchup was atrocious. Weavile defeats my fast mode of Salamence & Thundurus, and the Amoonguss shuts down my Trick Room mode. I suppose at this point I was due for a bit of luck, and boy, did I get lucky. In game one, he revealed that he was Choice Scarf Smeargle; however, he double missed Dark Void, allowing me to get a free Precipice Blades off against his Smeargle+Weavile, giving me almost unstoppable momentum. We both adjusted a bit for the second game, but he was able to outplay me, bringing the set to game three. He correctly called my leads, and I was behind in the opening turns of the match. He then missed another Dark Void, bringing the set back into my favor. The game ended up with his Geomancied Xerneas against both of my Primals. Groudon was in Moonblast, but not Dazzling Gleam KO range, and Kyogre was at full health. I got a first-turn wake up with Groudon and Protected as he Dazzling Gleamed. Then I used Thunder onto Xerneas fishing for Paralysis, and I got it. Now, I just had to hit Precipice Blades and Origin Pulse to win the match. I got extremely lucky in this set, and it was unfortunate that it had to happen against Toler. I suppose that RNG is just an integral part of the game, but I was definitely thankful to get some good dice rolls finally in my favor. We have since spoken, and there was a play in the third game that he could have made to win, without needing to rely on Dark Void hitting. Regardless, I was extremely fortunate to come out with a win and defeat the reigning National Champion. Toler is a great player, and I wish him the best at college and in future endeavors.
      WLW [5-2]
      Round 8: Walter Morales (wally1021)

      I knew Walter was a really good player from the very competitive area of New York, so I was in for another tough match. His team mirrored mine; however, he had Regigigas where I had Thundurus, which was an extremely neat choice. I knew it had Wide Guard, but I wasn't sure what else it was capable of, so I had to play cautiously around it. I don't recall the exact details of the matches, but presumably I opened up with Thundurus to gain leverage against his team and used Groudon to get some fast damage off. Then in the back, I had my Trick Room mode of Bronzong+Kyogre to seal up the game. I believe I also used Imprison to prevent the Bronzong from Skill Swapping or reversing Trick Room. Both games played out somewhat similarly, and I was able to get another win. I found myself now one win away from making Day 2. I was one win from achieving my dreams. Everything I worked for, the hours of preparation, culminated to this moment.
      WW [6-2]
      Round 9: Jon Hu (Jhufself) 

      Jon's a really good friend of mine and a fellow Nationals Semifinalist (though I wasn't a Semifinalist yet). I was really nervous to play him in the last round for elimination, and it was unfortunate that we got paired when we did. He's known for using more eccentric teams, and he didn't disappoint here. I absolutely did not want to fall for any tricks his team might have had. I led Groudon, but pulled a switch to avoid a potential Hidden Power Water from his Gengar or an Encore+Disable on the following turn. This also preserved the Groudon for a potential endgame against Shedinja. I used my Kyogre, Salamence, and Bronzong to deal large amounts of damage to some of his more frail Pokemon. In the end, he brought out Shedinja, and my Groudon was able to win the game from there. The second battle played out in a similar fashion, but was a bit more difficult. At this point Jon had revealed Moonblast, so there was a turn where I had to predict that Whimsicott wouldn't Moonblast my Salamence, allowing me to get tons of damage off. I once again preserved the Groudon and was able to defeat Shedinja in the end, winning me the set and allowing me to move on to the second day. This was one of the greatest moments. After failing to make the cut for so long, it was finally my time.
      WW [7-2]
      My dream had been achieved! I finally proved to myself I was capable of making the cut at an event, but I wouldn't settle for just Day Two. I wanted to come out on top. At that moment, though, I celebrated my achievement. As soon as I turned in my match slip, I rushed around to tell people that I had finally made it! Nick and Chance were really thrilled and supportive. That night, Chance and I went Jim Olivola's house for a party, but I left early to prepare for the matches ahead. 
      The Tournament - Day Two
      Round 1: Ian Lutz (TheLunatoneGuy)

      Another dream of mine was to be on stream. I wanted to give the world a show, and this was my opportunity. The match can be viewed here. If it's ever uploaded to YouTube as a video, I will replace this link. And just FYI, those headphones that streamed players wear have water noises playing to drown out commentary. It got annoying pretty quickly, but it was better than the crowd noises that Chance told me they used to play.
      I heard before the match that Ian had a Lunatone, which was really interesting. In the first game, I was able to break through his team early with Groudon's Precipice Blades, but also conserve it for the Aegislash, as it was really my only means of handling Aegislash. I tried setting up a Trick Room endgame for Bronzong+Kyogre, but it ended up working against me. I managed to stall Trick Room, and it ended up with my Groudon at very low HP against his Aegislash. He then unfortunately managed to get the 1/3 chance to double King's Shield, dropping my Attack to -2. Because of this attack drop, I was now unable to KO the Aegislash and lost the first game. I adjusted a bit in the second game, bringing Salamence instead of Bronzong since Trick Room didn't serve me well in the first. I did get a bit fortunate with some full Paralysis on the Lunatone. It also ended up with his Lunatone+Groudon against my Salamence+Groudon that were at -1 Speed due to Icy Wind. I decided to switch in Kyogre to gain offensive pressure and reset speed, but this was extremely risky and made almost no sense, since he could've just used Icy Wind and Precipice Blades. It wouldn't have necessarily been over since my Salamence was still faster than both of his Pokemon, and Kyogre could have survived two Precipice Blades, but my play was still far too risky. Thankfully, he Protected instead of using the feared Precipice Blades, allowing my Kyogre to freely Origin Pulse the next turn, bringing the set to game three. I suppose I was nervous being on stream for the first time and didn't think clearly, but I gambled a bit too much. Fortunately, it still worked in my favor. In the last game, I revealed Substitute on my Groudon against the Lunatone to survive an Earth Power or block Icy Wind. I did Critical Hit & Burn the Lunatone as he missed Icy Wind; however, these weren't defining. They definitely did help, though. I also eventually managed to HP Water his Groudon, essentially eliminating all offense from Ian's side of the field. From here, I was able to take the set and win my first ever streamed match. I was really delighted and ecstatic to be interviewed as well. Overall, this was a great set and huge credits to Ian on a fantastic run with a really neat Pokemon! 
      LWW [1-0]
      Round 2: Chase Lybbert (I Am a Rookie)

      Chase and I have talked on several occasions, and he's a really cool guy. Little did I know that I was sitting across from the soon-to-be US National Champion. His team was the "BigC" team, so I played against it like I normally would, setting up for the Bronzong+Kyogre Trick Room endgame. The first game wasn't even close. His Smeargle got a bit lucky with Moody boosts, and I really wasn't focused and made some poor plays. I was one step behind the entire time. In the second game, I adjusted nicely, but Chase managed to position a Xerneas Geomancy perfectly. The game wasn't over. However, I ended up timing out on one turn. Instead of Mega Evolving Salamence and using Double-Edge on Xerneas, I didn't Mega Evolve and went for Hyper Voice. Always watch the timer! Regardless, Chase was one step ahead of me throughout the entire set. His high level play definitely foreshadowed his success to come.
      LL [1-1]
      Round 3: Alberto Lara (Sweeper)

      Very few people have managed to win multiple Regionals, and Alberto is one of them. His team was Groudon+Xerneas with Crobat, so I knew I wanted to go for the usual Bronzong+Kyogre Trick Room sweep in the back. I played too afraid of the Crobat, so I led extremely poorly. If I recall correctly, the Smeargle also got a turn one Speed boost in both games. Because of these factors, I was on the backfoot the entire time and was unable to gain enough momentum to come back. I was handed my second loss of the day and couldn't lose again. I found myself in the X-2 position early, just like the day before. I knew I had to seriously refocus and win three matches in a row if I wanted to remain in the tournament. The pressure was on as every match would send someone one match closer to Top Cut and the other going home.
      LL [1-2]
      Round 4: José Reyes-Homs (SirTirzoj)

      José is a Puerto Rican player whom I was really excited to battle. This was a Double Primal mirror match where he opted for Cresselia instead of the Bronzong that I had. When I play against teams like this, the gameplan I have in mind is similar to the one against BigC. I gain leverage with Thundurus and Groudon, then attempt to set up a Bronzong+Kyogre endgame and need to Imprison the Cresselia so that I am guaranteed to win the weather war and prevent Trick Room reversal. The first game played out perfectly. However, just as I gained the desirable positioning, his Cresselia got the 10% chance to Freeze my Kyogre with Ice Beam. Kyogre couldn't unthaw in time as Trick Room began expiring, so I lost the first game. I would now have to win two in a row if I wanted to stay alive in the tournament. I managed to anticipate potential adjustments, so I switched around a bit differently, but still worked my way into the positioning I wanted. Once I brought out Kyogre under Trick Room and secured the Imprison lock on Cresselia, I was able to sweep through his team twice in a row. I was really glad to be able to recover, especially after having the first game slip from my hands. I managed to play these games methodically and execute my gameplan perfectly, giving me a confidence boost going forward, though I still needed to win two in a row to remain in competition.
      LWW [2-2]
      Round 5: Randy Kwa (R Inanimate)

      Randy Kwa, another fellow Nationals Semifinalist and one of the biggest names in VGC. We were placed on the backup stream for this set. Before the match, someone told me that he was using Rayquaza+Kyogre, my least favorite matchup, so I was terrified going in. Much to my surprise, he had Groudon+Xerneas, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief. His team had a revolving door of triple Fake Out, which really disrupted my momentum, but most of his Pokemon were frail, so I knew that if I could set up Trick Room, I could use the sheer power of my Primals to win. I had to play carefully around the Hitmontop's Wide Guard, though. In the second game, Randy adjusted by setting up his Kangaskhan and Xerneas to overpower my team. In the third game, I switched back to my original plan and was able to keep on the offensive pressure. Randy's Smeargle was very tricky, but I was able to manage a win. I found myself now only one win away from making the Top Cut.
       WLW [3-2]
      Round 6: Justin Crubaugh (iMagikarp)

      This match was also placed on the backup stream, so that meant more water sounds! I had just watched the crazy set between Justin and Conan, so I knew that his Kyogre had Psych Up. Words cannot describe how atrocious this matchup was, though. I needed Trick Room with Bronzong to defeat the Xerneas, but the Amoonguss threatened this from Team Preview, so his fast mode would be basically free to set up and sweep me. This was exactly what happened in game one. The combination of Amoonguss and Kangaskhan basically swept through my entire team. In the second game, I managed the tricky positioning much better; I needed to play flawlessly. I was able to Paralyze the Xerneas, which essentially rendered its offensive potential useless. Because I won the second battle, the set would go to game three. I was now literally one game away from Top Cutting US Nationals. This game opened up like the second, with me managing the positioning well. I can't remember what happened exactly, but the game essentially came down to my low HP sleeping Kyogre paired with my full health Salamence, against his 40% health Kyogre and paralyzed low HP Amoonguss. This was a tough call. I could go for the Double-Edge straight onto Kyogre to pick up the knockout, but I risked him using Rage Powder or going for Protect+Spore. I could go for the Hyper Voice to knockout Amoonguss, but if he used Ice Beam with Kyogre, then I would also lose. I decided to Double-Edge the Kyogre, recognizing that it was the offensive threat, and even if I made the wrong call, I could hope for the full Paralysis on Amoonguss. My heart pounded as I clicked my move; this was a $500 decision... It was the greatest feeling in the world to see my Salamence move first with Double-Edge, meaning that he didn't decide to Rage Powder or Protect with Amoonguss. I wouldn't even have to hope for luck. The Double-Edge knocked out Kyogre, which essentially secured the victory. I had done it. I had managed to make the Top Cut at US Nationals.
      LWW [4-2]
      I was extremely delighted to be among the Top 12 players in the country and make it into the final Top Cut. I was brought on stream to be interviewed by Aaron Zheng again, and I just couldn't believe how surreal it was. After the interview, I was surrounded by people congratulating me, and I was so thrilled to see how much support there was. I had managed to Top Cut as the very last seed due to my rough start, but that didn't matter. I was among the best. In that moment, I felt at the pinnacle, the summit. Ever since I began, I always looked at the Nationals Top Cut as an extremely difficult and prestigious achievement. Now I was there, and I would be fighting for the championship title. I was also one win away from earning the paid trip to Day 2 of the World Championships, so more than ever would be on the line in next match. The waiting time was brutal - the calm before the storm.
      Top Cut
      Top 12: Jake Skurchak (Pokebeys)

      For this match, we were placed in the center table, so we thought the whole time that we were being streamed. We found out later we were only on the backup stream. Fortunately though, our third game did make it live! Check it out here.
      Jake is a really good friend of mine, so it was a bit disappointing that we got paired so early in cut. We also both had the same six Pokemon, meaning we were the last Double Primal players in the tournament. I not only needed to win this match to earn the Day 2 invite, but I wanted to become the highest finishing Double Primal player in the country. I knew Jake opted for a "GravNosis" Bronzong, meaning that he didn't have Skill Swap and had no means of resetting his weather. If I could prioritize winning the weather war, I could win the match. Additionally, he didn't have much to handle the combination of Salamence+Kyogre, so leading that and switching around to win the weather war would be my key to victory.
      I don't remember much of the first two games. In the first, my Salamence Draco Meteor plowed through a lot of his team. His Salamence had the more common Tailwind instead, making my matchup a bit easier. I switched around and was ultimately able to win the weather war and ultimately the game. In the second game, I switched my lead to Kangaskhan+Thundurus. I underestimated the pressure that Salamence had provided in the first game. Jake adjusted well, and I was one step behind him for the entire match, so he won the game and brought the set to the third game, the one that was streamed. I changed back to my first lead of Salamence+Kyogre and my original strategy of prioritizing the weather war. Because this lead exerted so much offensive pressure, it put him in a really tricky position from the get-go. I Hyper Voiced predicting the Groudon switch and knowing that he was not pressuring my Salamence anyway. He Paralyzed my Salamence, but his Thundurus fainted to an Ice Beam. As he brought out Salamence, my own was stiil not very threatened, since he had no real means of dealing with it, and I still had Draco Meteor. He used Tailwind with Salamence and Swords Dance with Groudon, as I went for Draco Meteor on the Salamence for the knockout and brought out Bronzong. Because I forced a switch into Kyogre in the Salamence slot, I won the weather war, and my Bronzong was immune to his +2 Groudon. From there I set up Trick Room, so that my Paralyzed Salamence could Double-Edge the Kyogre under Trick Room. Unfortunately, I was fully Paralyzed and unable to put the Kyogre in Thunder KO range, but this did allow me to bring out my minimum speed Kyogre to pressure both of his Primals. Jake smartly enough chose to Protect his Groudon and Thunder my Kyogre, putting me just below 50% as his Tailwind ran out. I didn't know Jake was also minimum Speed Kyogre, and on the next turn he won the Speed tie, knocking out my Kyogre before it could handle the Groudon. The Groudon then was able to knockout my Bronzong (I Skill Swapped my Kyogre at one point). Then, it was my Groudon against both of his Primals. I stalled Trick Room, then used Precipice Blades into his Groudon Protect, but I missed the Kyogre! All of the odds seemed to be against me. On the next turn, however, I was able to use Precipice Blades to knockout his Groudon and bring the Kyogre into Fire Punch range. Jake needed to Critical Hit his Ice Beam to win but thankfully didn't get it. I was now one Fire Punch away from moving into the Top 8 and securing my Day 2 invitation to Worlds!
      I had done it! I asserted myself as the top Double Primal player in America at that moment. Not only that, but I was among the top 8 players in the country! At this point, I had secured my Day 2 Worlds invite, the paid trip to San Francisco, and $750, which was basically everything I went to Nationals for. But now I wanted more... I wanted to win the title of National Champion. 
      After the match, I was interviewed again, this time by Duy Ha. I had spoken with Duy once before at Madison, but it was honestly amazing to be interviewed with him after moving onto Top 8. The day was getting late. I thought it was around 2:00 PM, but someone told me that it was almost 8:00! I really lost track of time. There was only one more match to go before I could rest for the night. If I won, I would be moving on to Championship Sunday.
      Top 8: Stefan Smigoc (Eekthegeek)

      This entire match was streamed. It's a really intense one that you can check out here.
      Stefan was interestingly using Rayquaza+Groudon, the unique combination that won Japan Nationals. Before the match, Wolfe Glick really helped talk me through what I should be trying to accomplish. I would have to force Stefan into positions where he has to choose to make sacrifices. We noticed that Stefan didn't have a lot to deal with Kyogre, so if I eliminated its threats early on, I could win the game. Wolfe told me that the worst-case scenario would be a Kangaskhan+Suicune lead that sets up Tailwind, but we planned on how to deal with it.
      In the first game, Stefan opened up with the lead we were fearing. I managed to set up a Power-up Punch with Kangaskhan to start offering a large amount of pressure. I eliminated the Kangaskhan, but because of a Scald Burn, his Rayquaza was able to hang around a bit longer than I would have liked. I did Paralyze it though, and the game ended up in a really interesting position with his Suicune+Rayquaza against my Groudon and Kyogre. He managed to get a double Protect with Rayquaza, trying to conserve Air Lock for his Scald to knockout my Suicune, but I used Substitute to buy myself that extra turn and prevent my Groudon from being knocked out. The game ended up coming down to a really tough call. He had Ferrothorn+Suicune under Tailwind. I could read the switch into Rayquaza and Scald attempt, or I could predict him not to switch. I made the right prediction as Ferrothorn stayed in. From here, Kyogre was able to clean up the game, putting me up 1-0 in the set.
      In the second game, Stefan adjusted really well and forced me to play from behind. He boosted his Kangaskhan and was able to get a lot of momentum going between the Kangaskhan and his Groudon. I should've HP Watered the Groudon to eliminate the threat, but played a bit too safe. On the last turn, I had a 0% chance to win, and I knew he would Protect to gain Leech Seed recovery, so I targeted the empty partner slot, but this was apparently way less hype than I thought it would be. Stefan adjusted really well, though, bringing the set to a third game, something I was very familiar with at this point. 
      In the last battle, I adjusted my lead perfectly, with Salamence+Kyogre providing tremendous amounts of pressure to his Kangaskhan+Groudon. I played the opening turns really well and had myself in an extremely good position, managing to play around his HP Ice from Groudon, scoring early knockouts, and dealing massive damage to his entire team. Things began falling apart though. I tried going for an HP Water, but I was a bit too late, as this allowed Ferrothorn to fall out of Thunderbolt+Origin Pulse knockout range - the play I should've made instead. I went for it the next turn still thinking it would pick up the knockout, but it just missed, allowing the Ferrothorn to knockout my Kyogre. I honestly thought my double-up would have knocked out, but I overestimated Thundurus, since I had used a Life Orb variant all season and was less familiar with Focus Sash calculations. I was just left with Thundurus+Groudon against his 70% Rayquaza, Low HP Ferrothorn, and 60% Groudon. I used Thunderbolt onto Rayquaza to put in range of a Fire Punch, but I got a Critical Hit, eliminating Rayquaza and its Air Lock. This did allow me to get the double knockout, but now I could no longer use HP Water onto the Groudon because Air Lock was unfortunately no longer in effect. I needed to go for the Precipice Blades and hope to win the Speed tie. Because Stefan had Earth Power instead, the odds were slightly in his favor, since I could miss. Fortunately though, I won the Speed tie and connected, meaning I would move onto the Top 4. I gambled a bit too much in this set, and one slight miscalculation almost knocked me out of the tournament. Thankfully, I had put myself into such a good position that I was able to recover. I was fortunate to win the Speed tie, but there was definitely luck on both sides of the field throughout the set, and that's just the nature of the game. Tremendous credits to Stefan, though! He played phenomenally; making the Top 8 at Nationals twice in a row is an extremely impressive feat. For now, I was still alive in the tournament and would be returning for Championship Sunday.
      At first I couldn't believe it, and I don't even know now if it has sunken in yet. I was somehow one of the Top 4 players in America and was two wins away from becoming the National Champion. After my interview with Anna Prosser, there were so many people that wanted to see me, but the staff had to talk to me first about handlers. Essentially the next day, there would be a handler with me at all times. If I went to my hotel, the handler would have to follow. If I went to eat or even walked ten yards, the handler would have to follow. I asked Aaron Traylor about this, and he had the perfect response, "You're big business now." I was a bit surprised, but I suppose this was really cool nonetheless. When I was finally released for the night, I was instantly rushed by Chance and Nick. So many people came up to congratulate me and to wish me luck. It was incredible. I still couldn't believe that I had made it so far. 
      I knew Saturday night that Aaron Traylor would be my opponent. Aaron was one of the most influential and helpful people when I began just over a year ago, and now I would be facing him in Nationals Semifinals. That night, some friends and I did the usual "go-to-someone's-hotel-room-and-prepare-for-the-matchup-for-a-few-hours" thing. I had always wondered what this would feel like. I had heard the stories of people like Alex Ogloza and Jeudy Azzarelli doing this, but I never thought I would find myself in this situation! Patrick Donegan, Chance Alexander, Pat Ball, Ben Hickey, Sam Lubell, John Mills, Brian Youm, and I all went to Patrick's room where we ordered pizza, then spent the rest of the night preparing for the coming match. Patrick also informed that since I was the only player in Top 4 who had their Day 1 invite prior to Nationals, I was the current CP leader in the US, which was pretty cool.
      Day 3 - Championship Sunday
      I arrived at the convention center early Sunday morning to meet with my handlers. I pretty much spent that day with them and the other Top 4 guys - Chase Lybbert, Aaron Traylor, and Alan Schambers. It was a bit surreal to be surrounded and be part of the Top 4 players in the country. We had some really fun older format battles, but Chase continuously destroyed everyone with Linoone. Someone said we should do a multibattle with our Nationals teams, and since we all were scared of Alan's, Aaron joked that we could gang up on him. We went to the North Market for lunch that was a few blocks away. Aaron suggested that we try chicken & waffles at the Belgian place. Chase seemed a bit suspicious of this meal, so he and I got some regular waffles instead. When we returned and Seniors finals began, the nerves really began to hit. We would be up soon, with $1000 on the line in the next match, and the winner would be one more win away from becoming the National Champion. 
      Top 4: Aaron Traylor (Unreality)

      This match was on the main Pokemon stream and can be viewed here. Before the match, Aaron, the judges, and I did the wave in front of the crowd. We also did the "Bird Up" handshake right before the battle started. Playing a high-level match in front of so many people was such an incredible feeling.
      The night before, with the help of Caitlin Beach, Kevin Swastek, and the others in Patrick's hotel room, we decided that the Bronzong+Kyogre combination under Trick Room and Skill Swapping Levitate onto Kyogre would be my win condition. I was really scared of the bulky Xerneas and Hypnosis Bronzong, but thankfully Aaron never brought these. I knew the Smeargle would be a problem, so we decided that eliminating the Smeargle early on would be the key to winning the matchup, then setting up for Bronzong+Kyogre.
      In the first game, I denied Aaron's bold Helping Hand Double-Edge play and secured the Imprison onto Cresselia. From here, Aaron tried making more predictions, but I played around them and secured the desired positioning of Bronzong+Kyogre under Trick Room. I was in an extremely commanding position. I started picking up some knockouts, but when Aaron brought out Smeargle, this was when the game began slipping from my hands. I should have eliminated Smeargle at all costs, just like my gameplan was. However, I went for Origin Pulse onto it and Power-up Punch onto my own Kyogre in the event of a double Protect. My heart sank when the Origin Pulse missed the Smeargle. By not committing 100% to getting rid of Smeargle, the 15% chance to miss allowed the Smeargle to gain unfortunate Speed and Accuracy boosts. Once Trick Room expired, the Smeargle put my whole team to Sleep and won on timer.
      In the second game, I adjusted a bit, but still played around Aaron's bold predictions. He kept trying to call a Kyogre switch, but always managed to target the wrong slot. I found myself once again with Kyogre+Bronzong under Trick Room with the Imprison lock on Cresselia, the perfect positioning that I wanted. Many have asked me why I was so adamant on using Imprison and why I didn't go for Trick Room first. My rationale is that Aaron knew Trick Room was my win condition, so he might've tried reversing it. Bronzong was not being offensively pressured, so I had a free turn to set up the Imprison. If I used Trick Room without the Imprison up, I risked Aaron reversing the Trick Room and making my turn null. If I could get the Imprison up first, I wouldn't have to worry about a possible Trick Room reversal. Anyways, once I gained the positioning that I desired, I missed an Origin Pulse on his Salamence, which proceeded to deal a large amount of damage to Kyogre. He managed to eventually get his Smeargle+Groudon back in. This is where my first big misplay occurred. I didn't go for the Skill Swap on the last turn of Trick Room. I was tunnel-visioned; I figured I could win with what I had in the back. The pressure must've gotten to me, and I didn't think clearly and consider every possible outcome. If I Skill Swapped Levitate back onto Kyogre and reset the rain, he would've had almost no means of handling my Kyogre. Since I didn't make this play he was free to get the double knockout. Once I brought out Kangaskhan+Groudon, I made my next fatal error. I should have gone for Fake Out onto Groudon and Fire Punch onto Smeargle, which would have brought the game to timer, a win condition I wasn't even considering. Instead I went for Fake Out onto Smeargle and single-target Precipice Blades onto Groudon, but the move missed, costing me the game, and thus, eliminating me from the tournament. 
      LL [13-5 overall] Eliminated from tournament, 4th in the United States
      Did I get incredibly unlucky throughout both games? Yes. However, I wasn't thinking clearly and did not go for 100% win conditions, so I was punished by the small odds that I let occur. I could've played so much better in both games. Aaron played to his outs, and they ended up costing me the game. I was really disappointed since the games seemed so winnable, and I started out perfectly in both. They just barely slipped from my grasp. Regardless, Aaron played a fantastic set, and I was so delighted to see him make finals of Nationals, especially after inspiring me so much. I was saddened that my run for the title of US National Champion was over, yet I was overjoyed to have made it so far. I would be leaving with a $1500 scholarship, an invitation to Day 2 of the World Championships, a flight and hotel to San Francisco, as well as the great finish I had so long pursued and worked for. There's always next year to take the title!

      Concluding Thoughts
      My tournament run proves that anyone who is willing to work hard enough can achieve their dreams. It started with a vision - I wanted to be one of the elite. I saw the legends battle it out on stream time and time again, and I thought to myself... why not me? In about a year, I went from a newcomer struggling to go positive at events to one of the top players in the nation. Anybody who is inspired enough and willing to dedicate themselves to a cause can accomplish their goals as well. Have a vision, let it take root, and work endlessly to pursue it. Someone who has a fire lit inside of them, who is inspired, and who is willing to go to the ends of the earth to achieve their dreams is definitely someone to watch out for.
      Did I get lucky throughout the tournament? Absolutely. However, there were also many games that I lost due to unluckier rolls. This is the nature of Pokemon. RNG is a deciding factor in many games. I don't believe that there has ever been an extremely successful tournament run in the history of VGC that didn't involve some good fortune. Luck not only comes within the actual turns of the game, but in whom you're paired against and what their team is. I can't deny that the dice were hot in many of my games, but they can turn cold just as easily, and they did many times both in this tournament and in the past. It's how you manage the cards you are dealt that determines how well you will do. 
      Did I make some mistakes throughout the tournament? Yes. However, making mistakes is the only way to improve. Learning from each and every one and applying that knowledge in the future is the hallmark of any success. I cannot blame every mistake on nervousness or pressure, some were just pure miscalculations, and in others I was tunnel-visioned. These are aspects of my play that I can improve on in the future. With the Nationals format this year being all best-of-three sets and all X-2 Cut on both days, the format ensures that the best and most prepared players make it to the top. It's really hard to fluke your way through the sheer number of games, especially with them all being best-of-three. Overall, I won the right matches and played to the caliber of a Nationals Semifinalist, and I am extremely proud of my play as a whole and what I was able to achieve.
      Lastly, I couldn't have made it so far without the support of a tremendous amount of people:
      Thank you to my parents for not only taking me to every single tournament, but for their unwavering support and belief that I could make it to the top. Thanks to Aaron Traylor @Unreality for believing in me since the beginning; it was an honor to battle you on such a large stage. I would never have made it if it wasn't for your tremendous help when I began.   Thank you to Aaron Zheng @Cybertron for his incredible dedication to the community through content and commentary and for supporting me from the beginning. It was amazing to be interviewed by you. Thank you so much to Ricardo Pinto @RpIndaHouse for teambuilding help and for working with me on an individual level. Practicing with you has been the largest factor in improving my play. Thank you to Wolfe Glick @Wolfey. You took a longshot when you drafted me, and I'm so glad that it paid off. Thanks for helping me with preparing matchups. I couldn't have made it as far without your expertise and guidance. You've been awesome. Thank you to the rest of the Spirits: Abel, Chris, Christian, David, Eduardo, Emilio, Jip, Joseph, Luka, Luke, Markus, Maxi, Noah, Trey, Wonseok, and Yuree. I've improved exponentially at the game by discussing with you guys. Thank you to Chance Alexander for being my #1 Pokemon friend. I'm really disappointed that I won't get to see you at events, but I wish you the best in future endeavors, and I hope that we can stay in touch. Thank you to Nick Borghi @LightCore for being an amazing and supportive friend. You made Nationals much more exciting. Thanks to Brian Youm @TheOriginalSenior for believing in me and for being a wonderful friend. Thanks to Patrick Donegan @Pd0nZ for supporting me and being a really great guy. Thank you to Joseph Costagliola @Life Orb. You told me before the event that I was one of the best Double Primal players in the country. At the time, I didn't believe it, but I suppose that it's true now. Thanks for believing in me and showing me the power that dedication has. Thank you to Team Rank Up: Adit Selvaraj @LithiumAcid, Ed Glover @Min, Brendan Lewis @mrbdog46, Cameron Swan @Drizzleboy, Eric Hogan @JackOfClubs, Jack Hatch @Logilink, Jackson Hambrick @Hambrick, and Yan Rodriguez @Nucleose for all of the support and opportunities. Thanks to Caitlin Beach @RandomVGC and Kevin Swastek @kswas for helping me prepare matchups. Thanks to the other Michigan people that have supported me along the way: Sam Schweitzer @Sam, Andrew Burley @Andykins, Garrett Yee @GYee, Nick Navarre @Nails, Jonathan McMillan @MrEobo, Alex Collins @nerd of now, and Ben Torres @FallenApostle. Thanks to Jim Olivola for opening up his house and the ride back to my hotel. Thanks to @Pd0nZ for supplying his hotel room to prepare and to everyone else there that offered me Top 4 advice. Thanks to Pat Ball @pball0010, as well, for the title of this report! Thank you to Andy Anderson @TwiddleDee, Evan Anderson @FlashSentry, Stephen Brown @pyromaniac720, Josh Lorcy, @Lorcylovesyou, Brad Warnecke @Darb, Dani Kreigh, and Alex Godlewski @dragonborngamer123 for tons of support.  Thanks to the other Top 4 guys for making Sunday such an enjoyable time. Thanks to the Pokemon Company, its staff, the handlers, and commentators for making this event such a great one. Thanks to Nugget Bridge and its staff for providing a community for all to enjoy. Finally, thanks to you, the reader, for sticking with me until the end! I hope you enjoyed! Now is my story over? Is this the summit, the end? Has everything settled? Am I content with the white noise? No, this is just the beginning. There are still places to go, people to meet, moments to embrace. There are still games to win and games to lose and learn from. There are still oceans to span, mountains to conquer, and walls to break down. Isn't that what Pokemon is about at the end of the day? It can cross language barriers and continents, joining people together from around the world... But no, I will never settle on the path to greatness, there is way too much to experience on that journey. So come with me, my adventure is just unfolding. This story is anything but over.
      See you in San Francisco.
      - Grant Weldon (Velocity)
    • By R Inanimate in R Inanimate's blog - Tactical Moon Tour 7
      This is R Inanimate. It's been a while since I've written something actually VGC 2016 related. Granted, I haven't really gone to any larger events since my Oregon Regionals victory back in February. While I fell just a bit short of making big waves and stealing away a Day 2 Worlds Invite for Canada, I do feel like I'm happy enough with my team's performance to write about it as I made Day 2 at Nationals, but went 3-3 and 18th place, where a Top 16 in hindsight would have clinched the Day 2 Worlds for me. Anyways, let's get started.
      It was about the time around the Vancouver Midseason Showdown, when I secured my Day 1 Worlds Invite, that I also started to feel like the team I was using in VGC 2016 was finally starting to show some wear to it. Double Primals was about at its peak in popularity, and our good ol' friend Thundurus had finally made a comeback into the 2016 scene making the particular set up of my team a lot less stable to win games. Icy Wind and bulkier Pokemon being used in general made piloting Mega Salamence as the solo mega on my team became steadily less feasible, while the prospects of using Kangaskhan had grown.

      Around this time, I was trying out some interesting ideas involving Beat Up Weavile and CB Terrakion. While Pokemon had been gaining in bulk, +3 and +4 CB Terrakion had some really appealing calculations to it. It felt like it had a pretty solid matchup against Dual Primal teams, while having a completely abysmal matchup against Smeargle and Xerneas. I was considering it as a call for Nationals as Dual Primals were continuing to trend upward. But then suddenly, a complete 180° happened as the Big Six found a second wind shortly after UK Nationals and took some of the late May US Regionals by storm. Bulky Xern was the new play as just about everyone was left wondering why it took so long for this to catch on in the first place. The short bit of doubt in Big Six, and thoughts that it was going away anytime soon, were quickly doused and along with it were the motivations to further pursue my Weavile Terrakion team. I had to look into a new idea.
      My next team idea sort of started off as a bit of a joke team that I used on the final week of NPA. Where I had Groudon Xerneas, and 4 Fake Out users. Two of which had Fling with King's Rock and Razor Fang, giving me a whole revolver's worth of flinch ammo.

      While I say it's a "Joke" team, it's still one that runs well simply by riding on the strengths of Xerneas and the surprises of Smeargle. It does have a few matchups that would undoubtedly be considered auto-losses, but there were a lot of situations in practice where the opponents simply didn't know what to do against excessive Fake Out + Xerneas. As such, I decided that it was worth trying to refine the team.
      The Team:

      The major change that moved my team from "joke" status to a terrifying machine was simply laying off on the Fling gimmick, and replacing Weavile with Hitmontop. This idea came from a different NPA team I had where I threw together a team around a Bold Xerneas, and that team had a Hitmontop on it. While I was skeptical about using Hitmontop at first, the Intimidate support it provided really hit the spot for increasing my comfort in aggressively throwing the deer at people. Once I had my team of 6 Pokemon finalized, I could then work in theorying against various matchups, and figuring out what to fill out my spare supporting moveslots with. In the end, after both practicing a bit on PS, and running my team in a couple live events, I had what will be soon be reported. The nickname theme today is FE:F song titles, with the exception of one.

      Xerneas @ Power Herb ***JIOMANCY
      Ability: Fairy Aura
      EVs: 236 HP / 148 Def / 12 SpA / 108 SpD / 4 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Dazzling Gleam
      - Moonblast
      - Geomancy
      - Protect
      Let's start off with the centerpiece of the team. A shoutout to NEETScor for the Xerneas. Be sure to give our good friend Jiomancy @Power_Herb a follow on twitter. Let's be honest here, Xerneas has only one moveset and everyone knows what it does, so it's more interesting to just talk about the EV spread I used here.
      After around the time of UK Nats, where Ethan Hall demonstrated the strengths of a Bulky Xerneas on stream, it felt like the bulky Xern movement spread like a wildfire. This one follows that trend. The EVs allow it to survive two Adamant Precipice Blades from Groudon, or two -1 Atk Jolly Double-Edges from Kangaskhan. 12 SpA ensures a OHKO on 4HP Xerneas with Moonblast when I have a +2 boost and they don't. With the remaining EVs, I decided to add it into SpDef instead of trying to fool around playing the speed creep game with other Xerneas. My EV spread almost always lets my Xerneas survive two Moonblasts from 252 SpA Xerneas when we are at parity.
      Due to the nature of the team, I pretty much bring Xerneas to every battle. Even if it doesn't look favourable for it. So it's probably a bad idea to bluff Xern counters against me. Always finish your check.

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite ***Glory/Ruin
      Ability: Inner Focus
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Double-Edge
      - Sucker Punch
      - Power-Up Punch
      Basic Mega Kangaskhan. While I do have a lot of Fake Out users on the team, Power-Up Punch was often only taken advantage of when I get Smeargle to put stuff to sleep. Inner Focus was to allow for Kangaskhan to aid against faster Fake Out Pokemon, Weavile in particular. Aside from that, it's pretty basic stuff.

      Groudon @ Red Orb ***End of All
      Ability: Drought
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      IVS: 31/31/27/31/31/31
      Jolly Nature
      - Precipice Blades
      - Fire Punch
      - Eruption
      - Protect
      Mixed Jolly Groudon. I've been using Jolly Groudon all season long. Groudons has gone through all sorts of phases and stuff like Timid Groudon is once again the "in phase". However I really can't see myself using anything except Jolly. The flavour move today is Eruption. There are a few fringe cases where I liked having Eruption on the team, but they didn't come up at all during Nationals. One good example would be handling Amoonguss, and for simply having a strong spread move that isn't liable to miss. Now that we've gotten the Restricteds and Megas out of the way, let's talk about some of the more interesting parts of the team.

      Raichu @ Focus Sash ***Thorn in You
      Ability: Lightning Rod
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 HP / 252 Spe
      IVS: 31/31/31/31/20/31
      Jolly Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Encore
      - Volt Tackle
      - Feint
      Fake Out Support ver. Lightning Rod. Raichu acts as a strong tool against teams that rely on Thunder Wave in order to deal with Xerneas. It also has a few nice tricks up its sleeve with Feint and Encore, along with a vast pool of other supportive options that aren't used on this set.
      Originally, my Raichu had Fling with Razor Fang instead of Encore with Focus Sash. But I changed it because Encore gave me a much better opening against lead Kangaskhan, as I could forced them to trade Fake Outs to stop Xern's Geomancy, then lock them into Fake Out after with Encore to get my Xerneas set up. Feint is necessary for dealing with certain matchups.
      While it may seem a bit strange that my Raichu has Volt Tackle in addition to a Focus Sash, I felt that it worked well for the context of this team. There were a number of situations where I needed Raichu to be able to survive a hit, so it can continue supporting with Encore or Feint, or to last around one more turn to keep myself from being bullied by Thundurus Thunder Waves. Sometimes people don't expect the Volt Tackle after they see the Sash, which led to a few situations where I got Raichu to do some surprise damage, then take itself off the field so that I could bring in another Fake Out Pokemon to bring things back into my favour.
      Breeding for Volt Tackle Raichu is annoying because I have to hold a Light Ball, so that's why my SpDef IV is ~20.

      Hitmontop @ Eject Button ***Woleb Tsap
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
      IVS: Speed < IV 09
      Brave Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Close Combat
      - Feint
      - Wide Guard
      Fake Out Support ver. Intimidate. If there is a rogue Pokemon choice on this team, it would be Hitmontop. During every game I had at Nationals, I balanced my Hitmontop plush upside-down leaning against my 3DS case to keep it standing. Underestimate it at your peril.
      My choice to use Hitmontop came from me wanting to having Intimidate on this team, but did not want to have Salamence. It led me to just throwing Hitmontop onto my team and trying it out, but it ended up working way better than I thought it would. The set itself isn't super ground-breaking as instances of Eject Button + Intimidate/Fake Out etc have been seen on teams in previous years, but the application of it to 2016 has remained largely unexplored.
      Fake Out is a vital move on the set, while Close Combat provides it with at least some form of damaging potential. The remaining two moves are supportive filler moves, of which I chose to have Wide Guard and Feint. Moves like Quick Guard, Helping Hand, Role Play fill up the alternatives. While Wide Guard isn't exactly a move that can catch opponents off guard, it was good in situations where I had Hitmontop and Groudon out, and Wide Guard forces my opponent to take out Hitmontop before being able to take on my Groudon with Precipice Blades. A similar effect happened in cases where Kyogre did not run Scald. Feint was used to let Hitmontop finish off targets that barely survived, which could let its ally focus on the other opponent.
      The trick to using Hitmontop for the team is that Hitmontop is most effective when it is on the team of 4, but not active. It provides a lot of board positioning when it can come in, lower attack and harass the opponent with Fake Outs. Eject Button allows it to escape out of the field easier, and also allows me to spread out damage away to Hitmontop, who I'm a lot more willing to let take some hard hits if it means I can keep Xerneas or Kangaskhan in good health. With Intimidate support, I can be a lot more aggressive with setting up Xerneas, as I know that even if they slam into it with a Kangaskhan Double-Edge, I'll still be in the green.

      Smeargle @ Choice Scarf ***Justice RIP
      Ability: Moody
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Dark Void
      - Crafty Shield
      - Snatch
      - Final Gambit
      "Justice is an illusion. When top cuts and invites are at stake, there's no justice to be found anywhere! Don't you see that by now?!"
      Scarf Smeargle. Outside of Dark Void, it's moveset may not be what you were expecting it to have. I tried to set up its remaining movespots with moves to help me out in certain fringe cases, and set up some "flowcharts" to give myself the potential to steal games against difficult matchups for the team. Since its moveset was effectively finalized after the rest of my team, it makes sense to talk about Smeargle last.
      Let's address the pressing matter first, why Choice Scarf Smeargle? In the past I've said that I don't like Choice Scarf on Smeargle because it was too heavily reliant on Dark Void accuracy and sleep count rolls to be effective. And honestly, I still do. During the tournament, I double missed with Dark Void THREE times. I lost every game that that happened. Even so, things have changed in 2016 that makes me feel like it is worth putting on the team despite its unreliability.
      Let's look back at the previous years. In 2014, it was hard to use Choice Scarf Smeargle because Talonflame and Lum Berries ran rampant all season long. Executing a sleep lock down strategy was a bit hard when the tools to counter the strategy were commonplace on nearly every team. In 2015, while Lum Berries were less common, Thundurus was often around to stop Smeargle. There were ways to support Smeargle to let it Dark Void stuff, but ultimately it also left the player with an extremely passive opening. There were also a lot of ways to hinder the attacking ally and simply outlast through the sleep, at least until stuff like Anger Point Tauros was thrown into the mix.
      2016 provides a perfect storm of Pokemon at the mercy of being put to sleep, along with heavy-hitting offense and powerful setups to take full advantage of the opponent's lost turns. Namely, Xerneas who can become a annihilating force of nature at the press of a button, and Mega Kangaskhan who is no longer being restrained by massive amounts of Intimidates, Ghost-types, Will-o-Wisps, or Rocky Helmets. Another point in Smeargle's favour is simply the fact that Smeargle is used often in the metagame. When people see Smeargle on team preview, they tend to have a sort of set play that they have and lead against it. My team tries to set up to cover a lot of the opponent's set leads. Heavy Fake Out support, in addition to Raichu, can put Thundurus in a bad spot when trying to shut down my Xerneas, and if the opponent's Smeargle answer is just to have some strong fast offense, Scarf Smeargle can easily put them in their place when combined with some Fake Out cover fire.
      While Scarf Smeargle is considered a surprise gimmick mon, I tend to not resort to it immediately in a bo3 set. I often feel like I simply have better odds plays without using it, so I don't. Scarf Smeargle is strong when I'm up a game and can afford risking Dark Void accuracy in a game to seal the deal. Alternatively, Scarf Smeargle is also an answer to a lot of things when I'm backed into a bit of a corner. Issues with Scarf Smeargle costed me a lot in Day 2, but on the other hand, I likely wouldn't have won the games to make Day 2 if my Smeargle wasn't Scarfed.
      Big Six. Big Six teams vary in how focused they are on using Xerneas or on using Groudon. This team is very much on the protect-the-deer side of the spectrum. The team aggressively supports setting up the Xerneas seige engine, and keep the opponent occupied as it Xern tramples over their team. I apply constant Fake Out pressure, while also holding an appreciably variable tool kit of additional support like Lightning Rod, Intimidate, Feint, Wide Guard, and Dark Void. If the opponent can't keep up with my actions, they can very quickly get pinned down as Xerneas gets set up unpunished.
      Team Features:

      The Revolving Door
      The titular Revolving Door of Fake Out. While it turns out that only my Restricted Pokemon have Protect, the constant cover fire I can apply with Fake Out pressure makes up for this, and lets me shuffle my team around without losing too much control over the battle. Sometimes I can force my opponents to try to go for a trade of Fake Outs, but instead switch out my Fake Out user for another Fake Out user, allowing me to maintain control over situations while the opponent expends their Fake Out opportunity. Trick Room and Tailwind can be stalled past as well due to me being able to constantly harass my opponent's offensive threats with Fake Out. The prospect of Feint, Encore or even side PuPs can also punish people for uses of Protect to try to dodge Fake Outs. Basically, the revolving door gives me a ton of cover to set up Xerneas, followed by a ton of control to force opponents to do the moves I want the to after Xerneas has been set up.

      Xerneas + Hitmontop
      This isn't a lead combination itself, but rather the presence of both Hitmontop and Xerneas on a team. Intimidate pretty much lets Xerneas to survive 2 physical attacks from even the hardest hitters in the format, and Fake Out helps make it so I don't have to take a double-targetting on a turn where I go to set up Geomancy in blatant fashion. Hitmontop's Eject Button also can lead to situations where it can quickly jump in, jump out, then jump back in and lead into a situation where both my opponent's Pokemon are at -2 Atk, and my Xerneas is at +2 SpDef making it almost impossible for my opponent to get much damage progess done against my Xerneas.

      KhanArtist, original flavouring. This is often something I'd consider bringing in Games 2 or 3 after I get a bit more information about the opponent's team. With a few exceptions of course, as some teams just look extremely Smeargle weak, while other teams force me to lead it. The idea is simply to catch them with the Dark Void, and either set up Kangaskhan with PuP, or try to get Xern in to set up the sweep. The reason I'd avoid using this if I can, is because Dark Void accuracy is one of the last things I want to rely on to win games.

      When I'm running a team with heavy Fake Out emphasis and a reliance on Xerneas to pull off sweeps, Crobat immediately stands out as Enemy #1 for this team. It does not care at all about my Fake Outs, it sets up Tailwinds and just lets its ally sweep me. Any attempt to set up Xerneas will quickly be stopped by a Haze.
      My team's answer to dealing with Crobat lies in Smeargle. Scarf Smeargle may be able to surprise opponents if they aren't cautious, letting me gain momentum in a battle even if Crobat has Lum and sets up a Tailwind. After they know it is Scarf Smeargle, the idea here is that I force my opponent into playing certain actions, and punish them heavily for it. They will often be forced to lead Crobat into Smeargle otherwise they'll be at the mercy of Scarf Dark Void. From there, I can do things like Fake Out + Final Gambit to dunk Crobat before it moves, or use Snatch to steal Tailwinds and completely turn the tables on my opponent as their ally will need to protect themselves while Crobat can set up. These, however, are mostly just gimmicky one-shot tricks. With these tricks I can hopefully manage to steal a set against an opposing Crobat, but I'd likely end up struggling in a rematch where my tricks are known.

      Talonflame is sort of like Crobat-lite as far as being a threat is concerned. While Talonflame is more vulnerable to Fake Outs, it also is more likely to run Quick Guard. Also, its Brave Birds can really do a number to my team if I leave it unchecked, especially since it will still usually OHKO Hitmontop even at -1 Atk, and is able to outspeed and snipe my Smeargle. I didn't really think too much of it initially, but Talonflame did end up being a pretty dangerous thing to my team when looking back at my games in US Nationals.

      More so because it is a very obnoxious distraction when there's a Eruption Groudon parked beside it. Also, because it tends to be a pretty uncommon matchup, so it's hard to get some good practice against it. I felt like if I even ran into one, I'd be a bit at the mercy of some sleep rolls.

      Other Smeargle
      Smeargle is annoying.

      Xerneas Mirror
      Mirrors are annoying.
      Tournament Summary:
      BC Invitationals:
      Went 1-2. In a 4 man double-elimination bracket. fivepointstars had the answer to my team with Crobat, which I fully knew he would have. I wanted some live tourney testing against a Crobat team, and I was able to steal a game, but my team pretty much just ran out of ideas and fell apart G3. I then lost against rapha in a rematch where he made some solid reads to get past my Fake Out pressures.
      June IC:
      Team changes:
      Raichu: Razor Fang and Fling -> Focus Sash and Encore
      Smeargle: Follow me to Snatch
      Hitmontop: Adamant -> Brave
      Went 32-9, 1836. I pretty much did a marathon run of 35 games or so, and that was the result. The IC's results ended up with a bit of inflation as a lot of the competitive Japanese players were absent from the field, while there was a large influx of people who signed up to play but were pretty much just in it for the shiny Mewtwo. Probably about 10 of my games involved non-competitive teams, but the rest was at least decent practice against. It gave me a bit more of a feel on how I needed to play against Smeargle teams, and affirmed to myself the fact that if they don't know of Choice Scarf on Smeargle, teams with Crobat may let their guard down and let me tag Crobat's partner with a quick Dark Void. The IC reminds me that learning when to bring Groudon to battles, instead of tripling up on Fake Outs, is key for me to go the extra mile. Sash Volt Tackle Encore Raichu turned out pretty solid on the team.
      US Nationals:
      Nationals had a lot of battles and it was a long day. I feel like these days people are busy with playing GO or GO, or perhaps GO. So I won't keep you here for long and just write a quick results summary:
      Day 1:
      R1: vs Noah Pappas 2-0

      R2: vs Jake Magier(Jackofspadesman) 2-1

      R3: vs Joseph Milanere 1-2

      R4: vs William Vega 2-1

      R5: vs Martin Gajdosz 2-1

      R6: vs Jake Muller (MajorBowman) 0-2

      R7: vs Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario) 2-1

      R8: vs Alec Rubin (Namuko Pro) 2-1

      R9: vs Dane Zieman (agentorangejulius) 2-0
      *I wasn't writing notes very much so I forgot to write down the last two mons from Dane, I think it was Kang and Smeargle though.
      Day 1 started off with some interesting trends. I faced what was one of my least desired matchups in Groudon Jumpluff, and somehow 4/5 of my first opponents ran Groudon Yveltal. After a rough matchup, and a double Dark Void miss against MajorBowman, I got dropped to 4-2 and put into a tense set of matches right to the end. Choice Scarf Smeargle came in clutch against Ashton and Alec. My match with Alec got put onto a side stream and was one of the more ridiculous sets that I had that weekend, where I pulled of 3 different opening donk strats against his Crobat.
      Day 2:
      R1: vs Kamaal Harris (Kamaal) 2-1

      R2: vs Jake Skurchak (Pokebeys) 1-2

      R3: vs Gary Qian (ZygardeVGC) 1-2

      R4: vs Jeremy Gross 2-0

      R5: vs Grant Weldon (Velocity) 1-2

      R6: vs Joseph Pokorney 2-1

      3-3, 18th Place. I opening the day with a win against Kamaal, but then quickly fell down to a 1-2 record after a Double Dark Void miss instantly costed me Game 3 against Pokebeys, followed my running into a really tough team matchup against ZygardeVGC. My run for Top Cut ended in round 5 against the eventual Semifinalist Velocity in a match that was once again placed on the backup stream. After that loss I wasn't hopeful for a Top 16 due to my 1-2 start, but it turned out that a lot of my opponents were running strong, so there was a brief glimmer of hope before that got taken away and I ended up as 18th place.
      Overall, while the team is still a Groudon Xerneas team at its core, it was a really fun team for me to run. The revolving door provided me the right amount of aggressive support and flexibility to play the game and control the board the way I liked to. I got to use a rogue Pokemon, and a completely whacked out Scarf Smeargle moveset as well. One of the highlights of my weekend, after the competition, was to show people my Scarf Smeargle moveset. I always got great reactions from it.
      Now, we look ahead to Worlds. Will we see this team again? Will Espeon return to the stage? We'll see in due time. For now though, I'll probably need to figure out what I want to use for the Sinnoh Classic. Thanks for reading. Be sure not to let the revolving door hit you on the way out.
  • Recent Blog Posts

    • By WavelessVGC in WavelessVGC Blog Posts 0
      Hi, my name is Michael Allen Bailey and last weekend I attended the Florida Regionals and got top 32. It was my first event as a master so I can't complain with my finish but I could have done better. There is going to be only one sole reason to why I am doing a report about this event is because of one thing, the team I used. A top 32 is nothing to be too surprised at but the team is something a bit standard with some mons but at the same time just weird. 
      Juniors: 2011-2012    Seniors: 2013-2016    Masters: 2017 onward
      Pokemon was never super competitive for me back in 2010. I was always either playing Pokemon game on my DS or playing the online games at Pokemon.com. This all changed on January 21st, 2010 when I was saw they were holding a Pokemon tournament near where I lived. I always dreamed of winning a tournament or being the best but now I didn't have to dream because it as a reality. Little 9-year-old me rushed to my parents and started jumping for joy and telling them about what I discovered. They thought it was an ad but when I showed them, they believed me 100%. This was the best moment in my life but it was very short lived because my sister got sick and I decided to stay back and make sure she would be alright. Flash forward one year and I am competing at a single elimination tournament in Gwinett, Georgia. This was something I was so excited to do and be at I could barely contain the excitement. I sadly got knocked out in top 16 but it was still amazing to compete in something such as this one. The team I used was something similar to ? ? ?. 2012 was when VGC finally took off for me because this was the first regional I had a major finish in and it was 4th place out of 42 players.. 2013 was by far the most important year of VGC for me because it was the first time I experimented with EV's. IV's, and weather strategies. I was nervous going into seniors but I was confident. I went into the regional with my head held high and a smile on my face and I got 16th out 132 players. . I am going to skip 2014 and 2015 because 2014 was just awful for me and I took 2015 off. 2016 was different though, this was the year I got back into the game and started to play for real. I was iffy going back into VGC but watching Cybertron was getting me hyped and when saw the format, I fell in love with it. I loved VGC 2016 but Big 6 made me start hating it. It changed though because I learned how big 6 worked and built around it. I was testing and using some of the dumbest of techs for the longest time but that all changed when I met one person. This man needs such a huge introduction because he changed the way I thought about VGC and how I played it and that "Dashingly Handsome" guy is @Life Orb. This dude dealt with my constant nagging and bickering but still helped me. He is the main reason I got 100% back into the game and started going full speed as a player. We prepped for about 2 months I think before Georgia Regionals because I was determined to top 8 and he was determined to win. Georgia felt weird at first because it was my first tournament back in a long time and I never really had friends in VGC. Georgia was an amazing experience because I got to hangout with Lifeorb but also meet players like Jonathon Melendez and @pikapip1010.. I got top 8 with the team and was content with how I played but I wanted to do better....but sadly flopped at Nationals 2016 HAHA!!!! Hope you enjoyed the little tour I took you through to show how I wound up where I am today and please enjoy the next portion of the report. 
         Now before I get to the actual team I want to go through the teambuilding process and what I tested following up to this tournament. 
      This team was before worlds ended but I might go back to it for lolz

      First team of post worlds meta

      ok these are going to be some bad Xray teams ahead so be prepared.

      Also don't remember the order this evolved lol

      This team is pretty obvious and who it was inspired from

      Another obvious person who Volcarona was inspired from

      Alright now that we are out of that disaster pit, let's move on to some other teams that I tested

       this team was called Xerndons roar because it was such a weird team. it had roar mence and special groudon followed by a heaping helping of light screen raichu.
      Alright here is where I use the animated sprites because this is where my close friends came in and helped the most, they are the reason I got 25th lol. I would have done worse without them. AKA @TheOriginalSenior and @Life Orb. Thanks guys

      This was @TheOriginalSenior worlds team that he made it through day 1 and went 4-3 at day 2 with, also is my go to guy for good music. 
      Now, are you all ready? I hope you are because this is like the best team in the history of the world. Ok lol I'm done stalling but here is the final product.

      So are you all ready for the team? Here it is everyone.

      Giratina-Origin @ Griseous Orb  AKA. BadMeetsEvil
      Ability: Levitate  
      EVs: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 20 SpA / 116 SpD  
      Brave Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Shadow Force  
      - Pain Split  
      - Will-O-Wisp  
      - Draco Meteor  
        Let's start with a little story, I am not the guy who made this team but @Life Orb is the one who did. He was telling me for two weeks how Gavin played Giratina wrong and that he found out how it worked and I completely ignored him on the matter. That is a decision I highly regret now but I still am glad I wound up using this mon. Giratina can do so much in this kind of meta, it walls Duals and stops Rayogre teams like Wolfe Rayogre and all that stuff. Pain split was a mistake and looking back on it, Protect or Shadow Sneak was a much better call. I do love its animation thought, it's super funny. It was min speed because if the opponent were to set up trick room they would be in a bad spot with their Primals and I got tailwind up, their Primals would still be in a bad spot. Giratina has so much potential as a mon in this format and I wish I used it earlier than I did. Credits go to TheOriginalSenior for getting this mons.      
      Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb  
      Ability: Primordial Sea  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Origin Pulse  
      - Thunder  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Protect  
      Now this was the best kyogre that the three of us could find closest to the actual set I wanted. I honestly wanted 0 speed but eh, beggers can't be choosers right? This is standard fat Kyogre built to tank everything. I kinda wish I did have a min speed one but also it would have been much better if it had a bit of special defense investment but it still pulled so much weight. There isn't much more than to this Kyogre but some people ran some really weird sets till don't understand. Credits for the mon to go to my friend Alex Perez, he doesn't have an NB or Smogon account.

      Whimsicott @ Focus Sash  AKA Whimsichu
      Ability: Prankster  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Moonblast  
      - Tailwind  
      - Safeguard  
      - Protect
      This was the absolute saving grace of my tournament run, it came through in so many matches and put on so much pressure. While people would want to get rid of whimsi turn 1,  I would protect and get some major damage on one mon then the next turn use one of the other 3 moves depending on the situation and gain some momentum. If you ever need a filler slot on a team, I highly suggest trying Whimsicott on the team. Also, shoutouts to @raikoo and @The_One_Gio for using whimsi as well. Credits go to the TheOriginalSenior  for getting this angel of a Pokemon.

      Gengar-Mega (M) @ Gengarite  It was in a Moonball
      Ability: Levitate  
      EVs: 116 HP / 12 Def / 156 SpA / 4 SpD / 220 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA  
      - Sludge Bomb  
      - Will-O-Wisp  
      - Haze  
      - Protect  
      Ok this is by far tied for first as my favorite mon on the team along with every other one. Gengar was used in the matchups where it was needed and it carried the weight it needed to. I am glad I didn't bring it in the Gengar mirror because I would have lost every time. I didn't expect shadow ball Gengar to be a thing but it was there and every gengar I played had it lol. Haze was only used once throughout the tournament to help me reset my stats on giratina which it did but Giratina got bodied that same turn lol. I'll admit will-o-wisp was super helpful. Gengar only got to face two fairies this entire tournament and they were on the same team. Clefairy and Xerneas auto loses to gengar with bronzong in the back as well as Giratina. Credits go to yours truly for spending the entire car ride getting the Gengar.

      Bronzong @ Lum Berry  AKA taco Bell
      Ability: Levitate  
      EVs: 252 HP / 116 Def / 140 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Imprison  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Trick Room  
      - Skill Swap  
      Alright this was actually the most useless member on my team to say the least. It didn't do much from what I can recall but it still was used. It won my round 1 match with imprison because my opponent couldn't reset Trick room or skill swap. I love Bronzong as a mon but I am more used to Cress, Cress would have suck on this team tbh. Credits to TheOriginalSenior  for getting this mon.

      Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite  
      Ability: Parental Bond  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Power-Up Punch  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Sucker Punch  
      - Fake Out  
      I completely regret using this spread, it got KO'd by everything but if I could get it set up then I could just press the win button. I did use this in most matches so I have to give it a lot of praise for coming through haha.
      Now onto the war story
      Round 1 vs. Crhis W.
      game 1-2
      vs. )
      This was a great way to start the day off, playing my matchup where I kick some serious butt. Game 1 he couldn't do anything except get a shadow ball onto giratina and since he had no normal types, something was going to get hit with a shadow force. Game 2 was pretty much a copy and paste of game 1 but I misplayed and almost lost, thank god for recovering am I right.
      Round 2 vs.  Adib Alam
      I was talking with two people who got to the venue early and one was this guy, he didn't tell me what his name was when I left but when I saw who he was I freaked out. I remember 2014 nats finals and he was in it so I knew I was in for a match. Just for a cherry on top I had to play on stream, it was my first time on stream and I was as nervous as day. Playing a national finalist and being on stream equaled out to major stress. Here is the link to the video 
      game 1
      I'm just going to put the team matchups for the game, it'll be much more enjoyable to watch the stream.
      Lvs.) W
      Wvs. ) L
      This was by far my most favorite match of the day. I accomplished my goal of playing and winning on stream. I did choke a few turns but I am still happy with how I played this match.
      --Lunch Break-- Japanese food is amazing
      Round 3 vs. Jake P.
      I can't remember much of this match except that I had to make insane reads game 2 and I had to win dirty game 3 by pulling a verbal mind game. I won dirty but it is what it is.
      Round 4 VS. james L.
      I honestly could have won this match but I choked when I had the win con in games 1 and 2. This is where I start to tilt in the tournament
      Round 5 VS. Shannon, sorry Shannon didn't put down your last initial
      W game 1vs./)
      L game 2vs.)
      W game 3vs. )
      She was playing hit hard and get results. her Clefairy was helping hand and follow me but Gengar and Giratina did there magic and got the win.
      Round 6 VS. Colby B.
      I got bodied, he led Kyogre/Groudon and mence game 1 and out of no where you both of bust out laughing when he reveals Giga Impact salamence. This dude is a legend and I loved every game because it was a huge meme but it worked so well, he told me how lapras had roar to help with mence recharge. He told me he was going to Georgia Regionals this year so you already know I'm hanging out with this guy. He also had a Tropical Rain GFuel shaker and was saying Gardevoir is best Waifu. funnest match of the tournament hands down
      Round 7 VS. Stephen Mea
      I got to play Gramgus, I was happy to play a friend but I was happy and sad he won, I wanted to win but I love seeing a friend succeed.
      I got 0-2. I could have won game 1 but I got crit from his Mence's Double Edge and it was just game over at that point. Game 2 my kyogre got paralyzed and didn't get a move that was needed for the game. I was just mad about how this ended. We didn't shake hands in the end because why would friends shake hands and not give each other a hug. 
      I learned so much from this tournament how even though if you play friends in the tournaments, winning or losing can't break a friendship. I wish I would have done better but the outcome is something you can't change. I loved hanging out with everyone at this tournament, it was by far the most fun I've had at a tournament.
      Time for the everlasting list of Shoutouts
      @Life Orb You've been with me since the start, if it weren't for you I would not have gotten so far at this tournament
      @TheOriginalSenior You have been one of my closest friends since Nats this year and have helped me so much, thanks man
      @Gramgus The Ale House was awesome and so was our match, it was awesome to hangout with you at the event
      @Brady1225 you made Florida a blast man, thanks for letting me go out to eat with you and everyone else
      @Giancarlo Dude when we hungout it was awesome, can't wait to see you at future events
      @Adib thanks for an awesome set and hanging out with me at the event
      @ChronicMidnight for using Giga Impact Salamence and going x-2 with it XD
      @Souldewz you were so nice during our match and at the entire tournament, thanks
      @linkyoshimarioIt was awesome getting to hangout with you at Florida and see you succeed with the ultimate meme team
      @JcalI got muted on showdown for stretching and he sent me a video of stretching techniques, I promised him a shoutout lol
      @chuppa Thanks for helping me from the start, you were nice to me and gave me insight on how I could fix my flaws on my team back in May
    • By Stephen in SuperMoriokaWorld 0
      Entry fees and prizes for higher level tournaments are on the rise. This week @Stephen and @Lexicon discuss some of the issues related to your money and what impact this may have in the future. We also provide a brief review of the October Regionals in North America which have come and gone.
      Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwca-VOD1qA
      Downloadable version: http://thehypervoice.podbean.com/
      00:00 Introductions 01:37 Entry Fees 18:43 Attendance effect 26:20 TOM is the boss 31:08 Regional review 41:16 Fort Wayne   The Hyper Voice is also available on Itunes!   Please feel free to leave us any feedback and/or questions you may have for the next show. Want to send us feedback or questions more anonymously? Email the show: vgchypervoice@gmail.com
    • By AusTerrain in AusTerrain 0
      Today we have a huge competitive analysis regarding all Gen 1-6 pokemon that can be found in Alola! Hopefully this gives you more motivation to think about the VGC '17 season starting from now. Let us know what your thoughts are on the pokemon available to use down in the comments, and do take a look at our main site at http://australianterrain.hatenablog.com ! 
      Gen 1-6 Pokemon in the Alolan Pokedex
      Hey guys, Its Ty (@SarkastikVGC) and Matt (@JiwaVGC) here again and we’re going to go through the list of Evolutionary lines available in Sun/Moon, not including Alola mons. Shoutout to @ProfShroomish for posting a helpful gallery here.
      This is a competitive analysis, and though we are aware that Ariados has access to Rage Powder and Masquerain has Intimidate, we do not feel inclined to analyse and discuss pokemon with little to no past competitive success. Secondly, there are points in this analysis that we will mention moves that can only be learned via move tutors, which are not yet confirmed to be in the new games. However, as we don't know whether or not they're in the games we still find them worthy of being mentioned. The situation is similar for pokemon who rely on their Hidden Abilities (like Clefairy with Friend Guard).
      Come check out the full article here at http://australianterrain.hatenablog.com/entry/2016/10/19/202734 :)!
    • By Crawdaunt in VGC with Hats 4
      Posted by: Max

      Today we look back on the VGC 2016 format before Sun & Moon are released and we move on to the new format.
      I realized at the end of 2015 that no matter how much I like a format, I crave a new metagame to dive into each year. Since I started playing seriously in 2014, every year has had a drastically different format. When the 2016 format was announced I was optimistic. I did worry the format would out stay its welcome a little bit, but at the time I was eager for a new format.
      The weird thing about this format is that we had a high quality team right off the bat. By the time the format officially started Big 6 had already been discovered. By February I had lost interest in team-building and was settled on playing Big 6 until there was a compelling reason to stop. Using your early 2014 or 2015 team would've been suicide at worlds, yet this year I faced an opponent at worlds who could have had their team made before the format officially started. That early period where everyone is bad and I can get away with using my favourites (see my Oregon Regionals 2015 team) was something I missed out on this year, effectively eliminating the joy of a new format that I desired.
      One major complaint about this format is the heavy reliance on RNG. Early on in the season I made a post defending the 2016 format citing the drastic drop off in moves like Rock Slide and Swagger counterbalancing the added RNG of inaccurate moves, speed ties and Moody. While I'm less inclined to defend the format now, I still agree with the points I made. Inaccurate moves were hard to avoid using this year, but it was still possible to make good teams that weren't reliant on them (though it was harder than previous formats). Speed ties also weren't nearly as big a deal by the end of the format as they were at the start.
      Smeargle's presence has been the most detrimental factor in the format. I've always been of the opinion that Dark Void shouldn't be a thing in VGC but its not enough of an issue to warrant complaint. Smeargle not only adds a lot of RNG to the game because of Dark Void and Moody, but as its sets diversified over the year it became even harder to account for every move it could potentially use. I think this format would've been much better had Smeargle been banned. This would've cut down the amount of games that got decided by RNG and prevented many games from being decided on turn 1.
      My problem with the format is that I just didn't enjoy how games often played out. The power the restricted Pokemon bring meant that games could be decided in a single turn. It isn't rare for a game to come down to a coin flip decision on the first turn, though the more successful players this year were able to mitigate this. I wouldn't call 2016 a terrible format, but going back to 2015 made me realize how much less I enjoy it compared to previous formats.
      View the full article on www.vgcwithhats.com
    • By waltzwcschap in Casual to Competitive 1
      Hello everyone!
      Last night, I wrote on paper that I want to get involved in the competitive battling scene.  I choose Nugget Bridge and the VGC. It seemed more official and accepted from the makers of Pokemon. Today, while I am waiting for things to process at work, I have decided to (1) create this blog, and (2) posted my "Hi" to the Nugget Bridge introduction thread (interesting route here, but I think good reasons).
      A little background about why I am here.  Back in 2015, I watched the VGC and enjoyed what I watch.  I initially said I want to be a part of this community.  Saw Nugget Bridge and read the articles up to the VGC 2016.  Joined in July just to get the following.  Nugget Bridge was pretty much found while doing research on "How to be a Competitive Pokemon Player" this blog post below:
      This post above from Mindape's Journey to the West inspired me.  It inspired me to put things in writing to start, especially with goals.  I sat in the coffee shop last night and wrote down my goals, schedule, and plans.  Today, along with my "Hi" post to Nugget Bridge's Introduce Yourself thread, I decided to complete my profile a little bit more.  (Which reminds me, I need to post my Friend Code when I turn on my game when I get home).  I shared my goals in my profile:
      Current goals (as of October 18, 2016):
      (1) Learn about the "VGC" side of Pokemon.  (Will always add sub goals below).
          (a) Get on Nugget Bridge and Say, "Hi"  (Posted 10/18/2016).
          (b) Research "Beginners Side" of forum.  Report "Blog" out.
          (c) Play on Pokemon Showdown Weekly by November 30, 2016) for a month. Reevaluate
                (Status: Planning to begin after Sunday, October 23, 2016 -- Will post on forum when ready).
          (d) Play a Wi-Fi battle with a Nugget Bridge member  (Not ready for this goal yet -- I must do it a certain way, NO PMs PLEASE for Wi-Fi Battling, yet! -- This is a personal social goal)
               (i) Actually go on the Wi-Fi section of the Forum and ask for a battle.
      (2) Download  (Done: October 18, 2016), Play, and Complete Sun and Moon Demo.
      (3) Complete the Dex for ORAS.  (May need X & Y for this -- Will provide status update later).
      (4) Badges/Elite 4/Champion for AS.  OR Completed a long time ago (Do not remember -- This is where I sit when I made this goal on 10/18/2016).  Using OR to move Pokemon between OR and AS. 
      (5) Order (Done: September 7, 2016) /Received/Play Sun and Moon.
             (a) Play the Game through
                   (i) Get Badges/Trials, whatever it is they want.
                   (ii) Complete the Alola Dex
                   (iii) Get the necessary TMs/Hms
                   (iv) Get the necessary Items.
      I have a lot of goals up here.  My focus right now is ORAS transitioning into Sun and Moon.  X&Y has been put to the side for the moment and there is the "Do I get Pokemon Bank" question, which the answer is leaning towards "Yes".  My research skills in doing this is trying to wade through the hype and waiting for official word from the makers of Pokemon.
      These goals seem too much for someone who could want to play VGC exclusively.  I love Pokemon though and probably really do not want to totally leave the casual in-game part just yet, especially with Sun and Moon coming out next month.  I want to keep this love of Pokemon.
      Going into the twilight of Day 1 of my journey, I do have a question that is coming up in my research:
      Do VGC players transition from just "playing the game"?  I hear VGC players who just want to jump in and battle using mainly "Pokemon Showdown", I have seen the other players actually want to play through the game and then compete.  Is there an advantage to one versus the other or is this more personal preference?  I am finding it to be more of a comfort level primarily for me. I feel comfortable playing the game then competing.  Want to figure out why that is the case.  I think it is personal preference. Something for further research as I go through the Beginner's Threads.  As I go along in this blog, I do not think a daily post is necessary.  I will leave that to Twitter.  Weekly post will be fine unless something is relevant enough for me to post.  I.E. competition/battle field reports.  If you have a blog I will read it as well. Let me know.
      In my transition from casual playing to VGC, I must know where do I stand now, and know where to go next.  Most importantly, I need to get out their and play.  This blog is going to be used to document what I learned and my journey.  Just like in the game where your character will write what happened to learn, I encourage all beginners to set your goals and see where the journey takes you.  I am going to try to make posting a weekly on Tuesday thing by 1200 EDT, but I think a monthly revisit of these goals is in order to keep with my accountability.
      You all must start somewhere.  What did you do the start? If already started, What are you doing to keep your pace in your VGC journey?  If not started yet, what are your next steps to sign on to this site and say, "Hi"?
      See you Next Tuesday, unless something pops up.
    • By AusTerrain in AusTerrain 1
      Disclaimer : This post contains spoilers.
      Hey everyone, we're back after a long time with a new post, regarding the data mining of the Pokemon Sun and Moon Demo Versions! 
      Ty (Sarkastik) and Nihal (UchihaX96) looked into some of these new mechanics, abilities and moves. This post basically outlines their thoughts on what could be possible for the coming VGC '17 season, and how useful they may be.
      At this point they have speculated quite a bit about the potential of these moves and abilities, so feel free to have a look, as it may help you start thinking about VGC '17 from right now
      You can find the full post here : http://australianterrain.hatenablog.com/entry/2016/10/18/210717
      P.S We also have a twitter now. Follow us at https://twitter.com/aus_terrain !
    • By Sam in he doesn't even play this game 6
      Hello again everyone!
      Wanted to make a quick post asking for general feedback from spectators, players, and managers. I had a blast hosting this tournament, but I'm always looking for feedback and constructive criticism on what I could be doing better. As this was the first World Cup of VGC, there's probably plenty to fix and I would love to hear whatever ideas you have. Biggest thing I'm asking is if people are open to the idea of hosting on Smogon next year. I have a moderator position there and blarajan and I are trying to massively overhaul Smogon VGC and make it a great place of discussion for VGC that Nugget Bridge seems to have lost. Would suggest to make posts in the following format:
      I am a (Spectator, Player, Manager)
      Good things:
      Bad things:
      Ideas to improve in the future:
      Thoughts on hosting on Smogon next year:
      Just a heads up to everyone as well, I'll be tallying predictions this week and announcing the winner via Twitter, so make sure to follow me @SamVGC! Thank you for your feedback and please spread the word about this!
    • By LightCore in LightCore's Shack 2
      These are the teams from the 2016 Regionals Post-World Championships who's CP counts for the 2017 World Championships.
      The Usage Stats can be found here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mQVN4H6HjG7wYysPavMRidSA25VD7oWssVMciU3CPkg/edit?usp=sharing
      Arizona (USA) 10/1/16-10/2/16
      1. Riley Factura (@GENGARboi)
      2. Zach Miller (@stevewozniak) 
      3. Patrick Smith (@Salamenace)
      4. Anthony Stefani (@AndoVGC)
      5. Brandon Tuchtenhagen (@BlueShark)
      6. Matthew Jackson (@Swaggy McBuckets)
      7. Jorge Paz (@CaptainBrock)
      8. Alberto Lara (@CaliSweeper)
      Florida (USA) 10/15/16-10/16/16
      1st. Ian McLaughlin (@Raikoo) 
      2nd. William Collins (@Wiretap) 
      3rd. Wolfe Glick (@Wolfey)
      4th. Ashton Cox (@Linkyoshimario) 
      5th. Giovanni Costa (@OmegaGio)
      6th. Adrian Sigler
      7th. Nicholas Yaroma (@MightyMamoswine)
      8th. Luis Diaz (@Nightwing)
    • By AusTerrain in AusTerrain 0
      Hey guys, we're back again after a long time, and we'd just like to clarify a few things regarding what will become of this blog!
      Its our first post in a long time, so please come check out here at our main site!
    • By monk in On Entry Fees 21
      Recently, the competitive Pokemon scene is up in arms that events will now have a $40-$50 entry fee instead of a $10-$15 entry fee. (You can read more about the controversy here: https://themeta.killscreen.com/pokemon-twitter-outraged-rising-tournament-entry-fees/) Now I can understand the concerns of higher entry fees, but I’m disconcerted by the fact that absolutely no one the VGC community is even playing devil’s advocate, trying to look at the situation from a different angle. From my perspective, the higher entry fees are quite defensible and I want to do my best to explain why. In addition to my own initial impressions, I’ve consulted some other professionals in the eSports industry and they all seem to at least in part echo my thoughts.
      The following thoughts are rooted in my experience as a project manager, player manager, and tournament organizer for TeamLiquid, one of the premier eSports teams in the world. In this last three years, I’ve worked on a daily basis with players, tournament organizers, teams, sponsors, and game developers(eSports, community, and development departments) on a variety of titles. I’ve also worn many hats in the past as a player, caster, player manager, translator, and a TO at approximately 50 events in that time.
      My first thought is that compared to other eSport titles, players in the VGC community have little experience with the business aspect of video game tournaments. I don’t blame them at all since the scene is still very young and players don’t get the opportunity to experience the industry in a variety of positions as is much more common in the first-generation eSport titles. There’s also not that much cross-pollination between games; for instance, I’ve never heard of a VGC player retiring to become a League player. I believe this is where the disconnect on the entry fees comes from.
      When I first heard the news that entry fees were being raised to $40-$50 an event, my initial impression was surprise that it wasn’t higher previously. In eSports, the standard entry fee for a major open LAN tournament is between $50 and $120. For reference, DreamHack is the premier open tournament organizer in the world, hosting games in literally every eSport. The ticket price for a typical Dreamhack BYOC event is ~$100. A quick google search net me this link https://austin.dreamhack.com/17/tickets/ showing the entry fee being $113.37. The prize pools for these events are often fairly small as well. DreamHack Montreal, for example, and the following prize pools:
      Starcraft: $3000
      Rocket League: $4000 (requires 2 or 3 passes)
      Hearthstone: $6000
      League: $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      CS: GO:  $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      Most of these tournaments were either not broadcasted or broadcasted to an extremely small audience (sub 100 viewers). Now you may be saying that this is still a relatively major event (more akin to the current international events). And I’m sure many will point out that Pokemon tournament organizers are now charging $40 for even regional events. In that case, let’s look at the last StarCraft community LANs in the United States over the last year, events that I believe are comparable to regionals:
      Cheesedelphia 1: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 2: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3: $4,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Psistorm LAN: $1,000 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3.5: $750 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      These entry fees and prize pools seem to be very much in line with current Pokemon regionals. Players travel from all over the United States for these events and players never complain about high entry fees; they’re just glad to have open LANs to go to.
      Next, I want to address tournament organizers. For the most part, offline tournament organization is a very low-margin business, even for the most successful events. Even for the most popular titles and tournaments, costs are heavily subsidized, funded by a combination of game developers or outside sponsors. As VGC currently has no sponsors(likely due to TPCi’s strict brand protectionism, especially in their official circuit), sponsorship is not an option in this scenario. Now, I can’t speak to whether TPCi subsidizes tournament organization costs to regional events in addition to the prize pool, but if not, the new entry fees are extremely reasonable.
      I also want to address the perspective of the Pokemon company, especially the eSports/VGC department of that company. Within these game development companies, budgets get approved for each department separately, usually on an annual basis. Unless you’re Riot, the eSports budget is often tiny compared to other departments such as marketing. I imagine from what I know about TPCi that even the budget we have this year was difficult to obtain. Since as far as I’m aware, TPCi directly organizes international-level events, it’s possible that the higher entry fees  exist to offset the much larger prize pool players get to enjoy this year at the international level.
      Now, I’ve heard the argument that this higher entry fee will deter players from competing. And that lower tournament attendance equates to killing eSports in a time of such large potential growth. People are asking “why don’t we have a medium sized prize pool and medium sized entry fees instead?” My answer to that is that tournament attendance does not necessarily equate to more attention from the eSports community at all. In recent years, eSport tournaments have been moving away from open tournaments to invite tournaments or closed-off leagues (see LCS, TI, other CS + Dota majors). I would even go so far to say that the attendance lost from the higher entry fee has little to no effect on Pokemon’s health as an eSport. What does matter, however, is the higher prize pool. Both general eSports media and the mainstream media always pay attention when people are playing games for so much money. The perfect example is TI, the international multi-million dollar Dota championship every year that is actually covered by mainstream media outlets. Not only that, but a higher prize pool shows sponsors and eSports teams that TPCi is much more serious this year about becoming a mainstream eSport (in addition to all the format changes announced this year).
      Finally, I’m sure many of you will say that Pokemon tournaments are different beasts from traditional first-generation eSports tournaments. Yes, we have sponsors/teams who may pay for entry fees, but generally less than a third of the players competing in these tournaments get their entry fees comped by teams. More importantly, however, I keep hearing VGC players aspiring for their beloved game to enter mainstream eSports. This year, Pokemon has gotten closer than ever thanks to the conscience efforts of TPCi to bring the VGC circuit closer to that of a traditional eSport. VGC as it is now is closer to an true eSport than you may think, but we can’t take the good without taking the bad as well. In the end, I believe 2017 will be a big year for Pokemon and higher entry fees will be a small price to pay.
      If you want to discuss this further or ask any other questions about eSports, feel free to contact me via @Liquid_monk