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  • Featured Blog Posts

    • 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 2
      Hello Nugget Bridge!
      Here is a report of the team I reached 7th in the World with at the Pokémon World Championships 2016!

      Contents
      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
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16yTmxPV1z4
      ● Day 1, Round 8 stream game
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFT0q5l9d60
      ● Day 2, Rounds 1 and 4 highlights
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqSQ8iiqq3w
      ● Day 2, Rounds 5, 7 and T16 highlights
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFRsEqlg8Uw
      ● Day 2, Quarter final stream game
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kXvawZGf0M
       
      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

       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 

       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
      PRIMAL SQUAD
       
      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.
       
       
      WORLDS PREP
       
      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.
       
      TEAM BUILDING PROCESS
       
      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

      Gengar/Zong/Ogre/Groudon/Venusaur/Togekiss
       
      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
       
      Gengar/Zong/Ogre/Groudon:
      Salamence/Smeargle
      Salamence/Thundurus
      Hitmontop/Salamence
      Whimsicott/Terrakion
      Kangaskhan/Whimsicott
      Togekiss/Cresselia
      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.
       
      THE SQUAD
       
      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

      Thundurus/Salamence/Ferrothorn/Weavile/Groudon/Kyogre
       
      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

      Salamence/Kangaskhan/Whimsicott/Groudon/Cresselia/Xerneas
       
      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

      Salamence/Cresselia/Groudon/Smeargle/Scrafty/Xerneas
       
      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 (???)

      Dialga/Salamence/Landorus-T/Groudon/Smeargle/Thundurus
       
      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)

      Thundurus/Landorus-T/Xerneas/Kangaskhan/Kyogre/Ferrothorn
       
      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

      Groudon/Xerneas/Salamence/Smeargle/Scrafty/Amoonguss
       
      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)

      Salamence/Scrafty/Smeargle/Bronzong/Groudon/Dialga
       
      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

      Salamence/Smeargle/Bronzong/Groudon/Kangaskhan/Xerneas
       
      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

      Talonflame/Kangaskhan/Clefairy/Xerneas/Groudon/Salamence
       
      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

      Crobat/Xerneas/Groudon/Gengar/Kangaskhan/Jumpluff
       
      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

      Kecleon/Meowstic-M/Kangaskhan/Salamence/Groudon/Xerneas
       
      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

      Salamence/Smeargle/Bronzong/Groudon/Kangaskhan/Xerneas
       
      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

      Kangaskhan/Smeargle/Yveltal/Groudon/Thundurus/Crobat
       
      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

      Rayquaza/Xerneas/Talonflame/Lapras/Landorus-T/Smeargle
       
      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.
       
      THE VGC 2016 CONCLUSION - BRIEF METAGAME THOUGHTS
       
      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.
      SHOUTOUTS
      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.
      mudhiman
      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!
      WLW
      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.
      WLW
      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.
      Teambuilding
      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.
      Overall
      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
      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.
      Threats:

      Crobat
      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
      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.

      Jumpluff
      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.
      7-2
      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.
    • By TheSalmon in VGC Yearbook: UNSW Pokemon Society 9
      This is a team report written by Corey Munro (TheCorey0), who placed 13th at the recent Australian National Championships. This is a great report and really captures the mindset of a player who wants to pick apart the meta game in a particular region.
      *********************
      The Australian National Video Game championships were held last weekend in Melbourne. Jimmy, David, Eric and I attended as part of the Team UNSW contingent. The four of us were there to confirm our worlds invite, as well as hopefully top cut. In particular I wished to improve my consistency, compared to last year, when I went from 6-0, and only needed a single win to top cut, to 6-3. I had also managed to bubble Sydney’s MSS and regional this year, so I was itching for a top cut finish. I’m too lazy to write a whole war story filled to the brim with pictures, and specific reports of each round and matchups.
       
      Team Analysis:
      Throughout the year, I’d made sure I was continuously knowledgeable on the current meta game. This meant watching a lot of videos, watching replays, reading reports, and analysing showdown stats. Going into each major event so far into the season I used this knowledge to attempt to predict the popular teams. Each time I was disappointed. When the world was using Ray-Ogre, Australia used Groudon-Xerneas. When the world used Dual Primal, Australia used Groudon-Xerneas. When the world used Yveltal, Australia used Groudon-Xerneas. For nationals, I finally took the hint, and realised that Australians aren’t the most creative team-builders and would continue using the same old teams. I predicted ~75% Groudon-Xerneas, 20% dual primal, and 5% others, and was ultimately right. For most of the year my comfort pick was Groudon-Dialga. However, Dialga, generally speaking, has quite a bad matchup against Groudon-Xerneas, and decided to counter team the Groudon-Xerneas archetype as best as possible.
      I decided on Ray-Ogre, an archetype that was quite popular earlier in the season, only to drop off not much later with the rise in popularity of Dialga. Ray-Ogre puts an immense amount of pressure on opposing Groudon, the defensive lynchpin of the Groudon-Xerneas archetype. Kyogre arguably exerts the most immediate offensive pressure in the format, as full power Water Spout deals significant damage to everything in the format. Even resists like Ferrothorn are 2HKO. This meant that if I could set the playing field up with speed control or redirection, a free switch into my Kyogre often meant they were forced to sack 1-2 mons.

      Kyogre @ Blue Orb 
      Ability: Drizzle 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 148 HP / 164 SpA / 172 Spe 
      Timid Nature 
      IVs: 0 Atk 
      - Ice Beam 
      - Water Spout 
      - Protect 
      - Scald 
      Kind of standard Kyogre. For the recent International challenge I initially ran a Thunder + Origin Pulse set to better handle the mirror (as I didn’t have Zapdos on the team at the time). However I literally missed more Groudon with Origin Pulse than hit so I realised I would rather give up the favourable mirror by using the reliable Water Spout and Scald. Water Spout in particular synergies with fast Kyogre. The spread is kind of basic. Timid nature with 172 EVs speed creeps max speed Modest Kyogre. 148 HP EVs lets me survive a Jolly Kangaskhan Double edge 100% of the time, as well as Life Orb Rayquaza Dragon Ascent.  At one point I EV’d for Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent, but didn’t like the little Special Attack investment I was left with, and that Mega Rayquaza itself wasn’t the most common (though there had been a surge with Xerneas-Ray teams) and that if I needed it, I could just use Mawile for Intimidate support. The leftover EVs went into Special Attack.
      -          252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 148 HP / 0 Def Primal Kyogre: 163-193 (84 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       

      Rayquaza @ Life Orb 
      Ability: Air Lock 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe 
      Jolly Nature 
      - Dragon Ascent 
      - Extreme Speed 
      - Protect 
      - Waterfall 
      Standard Life Orb Rayquaza with Waterfall instead of Overheat. I’ve never been a fan of overheat, as 95% of the time, it’s there purely for Ferrothorn. Ferrothorn’s usage had been dropping quite significantly in the lead up to nationals. Ferrothorn also isn’t particularly hard to deal with, as Dragon Ascent is still a 2HKO, not to mention the rest of the team can deal with it. Groudon is also much more centralising, and is much more worthy of a tech move. Waterfall 1HKO’s non-bulky Groudon as normal form, and has a 93% chance to 1HKO 252 HP variants, if I mega evolve. Waterfall gave the team better defensive synergy when used in conjunction with my other Groudon weak mons, like Mawile and Amoonguss, as I can easily switch into any Move Groudon can use (outside the rare Hidden Power Ice or Stone Edge), and do significant damage back. I did not mega evolve the entire tournament however - one of the reasons I used Life Orb over Focus Sash, to make up for the lack of stats as normal Rayquaza. A Physical set with a jolly nature and 4 HP EVs also meant I was able to 100% take a neutral Timid Xerneas Dazzling Gleam. I didn’t believe EVing to survive Kangaskhan was worth it, as I needed the attack EVs to maximise my chance of removing Groudon, and if needed I could just use Intimidate or mega evolve.
      -          252 Atk Life Orb Rayquaza Waterfall vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Primal Groudon: 177-213 (100.5 - 121%) -- guaranteed OHKO
       

       
      Mawile @ Mawilite 
      Ability: Intimidate 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 252 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 84 SpD / 108 Spe 
      Adamant Nature 
      - Play Rough 
      - Iron Head 
      - Protect 
      - Sucker Punch 
      Now that the most centralising Pokémon of the format was sufficiently handled, I could now move onto the next most dangerous mon, Xerneas. Mawile has great synergy with Ray-ogre, as outside of Groudon, it can almost single handily deal with the rest of the meta game. It has favourable matchups against Xerneas, Yveltal, Kangaskhan, Salamence, Rayquaza without Overheat and Talonflame in the rain. The moveset is standard. The Speed stat reaches the all-important number of 84. This under-speeds minimum speed primals under Trick Room, and outspeeds up to Kangaskhan under Tailwind, though it unfortunately speed ties with slow Smeargle. The Special Defense investment survives a +2 Timid Xerneas Hidden Power Ground. This is incredibly rare, but not unheard of, and I wanted to make sure my Xerneas check could never be unexpectedly 1HKO’d. The Special Defense investment also has a good chance of surviving most Origin Pulses and Scalds from Kyogre. The rest of the EVs went into Attack. The lack of Attack didn’t seem to be influential, as Mawile pretty much 2HKO’s the entire format regardless of investment. The only relevant calculation, was that 1HKOing Salamence at -1 was no longer possible, rather than a 40% chance with 252 EVs. But considering Salamence can’t touch me back, I found it a fair trade.
      -       +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Mega Mawile: 65-77 (41.4 - 49%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
      -          +2 252 SpA Xerneas Hidden Power Ground vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Mega Mawile: 132-156 (84 - 99.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       

      Amoonguss @ Mental Herb 
      Ability: Regenerator 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 220 HP / 132 Def / 156 SpD 
      Sassy Nature 
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe 
      - Grass Knot 
      - Spore 
      - Protect 
      - Rage Powder 
      Mental Herb Amoonguss was selected primarily to help my Trick Room, Kyogre and Thundurus/Electric matchup. Redirection also allowed Kyogre to better fire off more powerful Water Spouts, and Rayquaza to Dragon Ascent without care of its defense drops. The moveset is completely standard. Mental herb was chosen so I can spore in the face of Thundurus. Minimum speed for the Trick Room matchup, and more importantly, outspeed Bronzong after Trick Room goes up. The spread survives plenty, max Special Attack Kyogre’s Water Spout is a 3hko and  Timid +2 Xerneas’ Dazzling Gleam is a 4HKO most of the time. It also survives 4 Attack Mega Salamence Double-Edge at -1.
               +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 220 HP / 156+ SpD Amoonguss: 63-74 (29 - 34.1%) -- 2.3% chance to 3HKO
              252  +SpA Primal Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 220 HP / 156+ SpD Amoonguss in Heavy Rain: 92-108 (42.3 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
      -          -1 4 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 220 HP / 132 Def Amoonguss: 182-216 (83.8 - 99.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       

      Whimsicott @ Focus Sash 
      Ability: Prankster 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 188 Def / 68 SpD / 252 Spe 
      Timid Nature 
      IVs: 0 HP / 0 Atk 
      - Safeguard 
      - Tailwind 
      - Endeavor 
      - Protect 
      Whimsicott was chosen purely to check the ever present threat of dark void Smeargle. In the past I had relied on things like priority, Taunt, being fast, and Lum Berries. However these were never a 100% check. Priority gets beaten by Smeargle + Quick Guard, or if Smeargle is just bulky. Taunt gets beaten by Mental Herb, Crafty Shield, and late game Smeargle (after your Taunter is KO’d). Being fast gets beat by Min Speed Smeargle + Trick Room, or Scarf Smeargle. Lum Berry gets beaten by Fake Out + Dark Void. Prankster Safeguard was the only sure thing I could rely on. Crafty Shield would also be viable, but it means you have to continuously use that each turn. Protect is also necessary so that I wouldn’t lose to Fake out + Dark Void/attack. I also needed to make sure that Whimsicott was not dead weight, if the opponent did not bring their Smeargle. Tailwind was chosen to give the team a form of speed control. Endeavour was chosen so that I was still useful after I had set up Safeguard and Tailwind, or if I was Taunted. Endeavour had great synergy with the Focus Sash, and its high speed, and is much more EV efficient over using moves like Moonblast or Grass Knot. Despite not having room for encore, opponents would often assume I have it, and try to play around, until I showed all 4 moves.
      The spread runs max Speed, to ensure I can do things before Thundurus can Taunt me. It also ensures I speed tie at worst against Grass Whistle Whimsicott. In a relatively unique case, I chosen to run Whimsicott with 0 IVs in HP, to maximise my Endeavour damage. At full health endeavour does around 40% to primals, and ensures I am still able to break Smeargle’s Focus Sash. This surprise chip allows many surprise first turn KOs. 188 Defense EVs allows me to take a -1 Jolly Kangaskhan Double-Edge, and makes Adamant Groudon’s Precipice Blades a 3HKO. The rest of the EVs are dumped in Special Defense.
      -          252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 0 HP / 188 Def Whimsicott: 50-59 (41.6 - 49.1%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
       

      Zapdos @ Sitrus Berry 
      Ability: Static 
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 132 HP / 8 Def / 92 SpA / 52 SpD / 220 Spe 
      Timid Nature 
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def 
      - Thunderbolt 
      - Hidden Power [Ice] 
      - Heat Wave 
      - Tailwind 
      When I used this team in the IC, I initially had a double guard Hitmontop here, to help with Talonflame, Dialga, Ferrothorn and to provide a second source of Intimidate. I realised however that my matchup against Salamence, Talonflame and the Ray-Ogre mirror was unfavourable, and was happy to remedy this by weakening my Dialga matchup. I chose Zapdos over Thundurus as I’ve always been a bigger fan of Tailwind over Thunder Wave, the option of Heat Wave, the extra bulk, and Static to help the Kangaskhan matchup.
      Thunderbolt is standard. Tailwind was selected, despite Whimsicott also having it, as I would never select both in the same battle. You can never have enough speed control. Hidden Power Ice was selected over Water, as I had waterfall on Ray, and Ice was coverage my team needed, doing 80%+ to Salamence and Ray. Plenty of people feared the HP Water, switching their Groudon out. Heat Wave was to help the Ferrothorn matchup in the early rounds, but was ultimately not useful, and in hindsight I would have preferred protect. The speed EVs make sure I outspeed normal Rayquaza. This Zapdos is surprising bulky despite the lack of defensive EVs, and survives almost anything. The specific calculated benchmarks physically survives a max attack Groudon Fire Punch, a -1 Kangaskhan Fake Out + Double-Edge and a +2 Modest Xerneas Dazzling Gleam.
                +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 132 HP / 52 SpD Zapdos: 153-181 (84 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      -          252+ Atk Primal Groudon Fire Punch vs. 132 HP / 8 Def Zapdos in Harsh Sunshine: 153-181 (84 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       
      Conclusion
      The team was amazing, and did exactly what I had hoped. I managed to Top cut with a 10th position at the end of swiss. I was the only Ray-Ogre in top cut, and one of only 4 not using Groudon-Xerneas. I lost in my top 16 match to eventual Finalist Alex Poole in a tough 3 game set. Although our Nationals has been described as a “Throwlympics”, I did try my hardest to win.  A part of me is happy that he won though, as a loss would have denied him his Day 2 invite. Unfortunately, due to financial reasons I won’t be able to utilise my worlds invite, and will be twiddling my thumbs till the next season starts. A big thanks also has to go out to the Team UNSW crew, In particular those that came to nationals with me, as well as Echomoner for the teambuilding advice throughout the course of the season.
  • Recent Blog Posts

    • By SamuelTemple2 in Nimbasa City Post 0
      I attended a Premier Challenge on September 25, 2016 and finished in the Top 4, which I'm proud of that, so I want to write a small team report on what happened. This was my first Premier Challenge of the season, so doing this well so far was a huge confidence booster going into the rest of the season. The event was Best of 1 Swiss, which I'm not the biggest fan of, but I understood it was based on timing, so I just was okay with it with Best of 3 in Top Cut. I won't reveal my EV Spreads as I still plan on using them, so I hope you enjoy this.
      Read more here
    • By miahruh in Ruhel's Battlespot Teams 4
      Lets start this report with a bang! Amazing artwork by Jip Snoek @Keonspy
       
      Hello everyone, you probably don’t know me but I’m Ruhel Miah (pronounced Roo-Hel Me-ah) , also known as Roo (nickname) and by my twitter, @miahruh123. I’ve played VGC since February 2015 and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in doing so. I hope you don’t mind me giving just an overview of how I started playing VGC and the journey I’ve made to come to this remarkable achievement ( in my opinion).
       
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      http://miahruh.blogspot.co.uk/2015/09/going-ape-3rd-in-uk-in-season-10-on.html
       
      After playing many battlespot games, I came across top quality players, such as Eduardo Cunha, known as Edu. I was speaking to him a lot on Pokemon Showdown and after playing him multiple times and getting help from him, I believe I’ve improved as a player. Also Conan Wild (Therazer456) helped me a lot as well.
       
      I was consistently getting 1800+ on battlespot after playing many seasons, which is still quite good. It was very hard at first to even break 1700s so I was pretty happy with the way I was playing. I had the desire to reach 1st place in the UK and I fell short in season 14 at the last hurdle. I was pretty happy with the 2nd place finish but I was consistently at the top in that season but I was overtook in the last week of battlespot. I took a lot of positive from that season and I didn’t look back. I aimed for much higher, still trying to achieve 1st place in the UK and getting at least top 50 in the world.
       
      At the time of VGC16, I was still considered decent. I was getting 1840+ on battlespot early season, with Big 6, which was the “only good” team in the december/jan period. It was the only team I felt comfortable with. I had a lot of help from Necrocat219 ( Daniel Oztekin) to understanding the Big 6 team. I didn’t really like the format so I wasn’t motivated enough to make a new team. I watched the Wakefield regionals and I saw Alex Gomez’s team (Pokealex). I didn’t realise how good it was until I played Aaron Zheng in the International Challenge. Salamence Smeargle Bronzong and Kyogre was such a solid core to beat whatever i had to throw at the team. The late game tr and skill swap was too strong for me. I had a lot of respect for this team and I had the desire to get good with the core. I shared my feelings about wanting to use Bronzong and from out of the blue, Alex contacted me. I was talking in detail about my version of his team and Alex was helping me understanding match-ups and what he felt could be troublesome. You need to keep in mind that I was a player getting 1800+ and never reached 1900 before. I’ve come close but never succeeded. After the help from Alex, I went on to get 1976 rating with the Bronzong DP team. I proved on a international scale, played against top Japanese players on the ladder, that the team was good. Alex recognised what was good in the meta and from my discussion with him, I was able to reach feats I never dreamt of. I was playing really well, so I decided to aim for 2000 rating but that didn’t go to plan. I was badly haxed and the pairing system was so poor. I was paired with a 14xx rated player when i was 1949 rating!! Only gained 1 point from the battle. This is one of many. So I could’ve safeguarded this rating to finish 1st place, but I wanted to try my best to aim for 2000, but it wasn’t meant to be.
       
      After discovering that I was most comfortable with the Dual Primal core, I went on to see if I could improve the match ups, such as yveltal. I did end up using Sylveon at one point, which I will stand by, as I felt it was the right meta call at the time. I was amazed at the success the japanese player who won Nationals had with the Rayquaza Groudon Sylveon team. But the shift in the meta meant that I had to change my team to be able to play the current cores like Xerneas Rayquaza and Big Bronzong. I was watching a player called Nimiel Catipon (Leimin) and he was able to top the PS ladder with Dual Primal Whimsicott. After seeing the way it functioned on the team, I knew I had to try it out for myself.
       
      I didn’t want to use “gimmicks” like aqua tail Kangaskhan or anything like that. Whenever I build a team, even though I mainly play Battlespot, I keep best of 3 in mind. So I just used the standard Kangaskhan with Salamence, Whimsicott, Kyogre, Groudon and Bronzong. Life orb offensive Whimsicott was really good at first. Opponents allowed me to ohko the salamence on turn one, as they fear the encore, so they don’t protect. I continued to do this and I was able to get a good rating of 188x. I did tilt after this and as the meta shifted away from Dual Primal Kang Thundy, I realised that  Mental Herb on bronzong wasn’t needed. I understood how Big Bronzong works with Heatproof, allowing it to take groudon’s fire punch in the sun, without having to use Kyogre as a safety net. I wanted to apply the same concept on this team, so I tried out Occa Berry. Occa Berry on Bronzong and changing Life orb to Focus Sash on Whimsicott were the big( but small)  changes I made to the team to adapt to my play style. I was now able to bring bronzong Groudon to Big X teams without having to worry about being ohko’d to groudon’s fire move. I platyed with these changes for the last 20 games or so on Battlespot. It was clutch in the running for top 10. I ended up winning many of my games, ended up finishing with a rating of 1928. In the same month, I had reached an all time high of 1795 rating on Pokemon Showdown, which was 3rd place at the time.
       
       
      Here is the team I used ( Very similar to Leimin’s team):

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 180 Atk / 76 SpD  
      Adamant Nature  
      IVs: 21 Spe  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Swords Dance  
      - Protect  
       
      This is Leimin’s spread besides the speed ivs ( 105 speed stat). I used this as it allowed me to function both in trick room and in tailwind. 180 attack evs with adamant allows you to Ohko Salamence majority of the time under gravity at +2. Also it helps with dealing with Bulky Xerneas. If you’re using groudon predominantly in Trick room with bronzong, you need to use every turn wisely, so you got to have a lot of power in order to get the ko’s before trick room ends.
       
      Whimsicott @ Focus Sash  
       

      Ability: Prankster  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Moonblast  
      - Encore  
      - Safeguard  
      - Protect  
       
      Very simple but effective spread. Offensive pokemons tend to have the 252/252 spread, and this is more common on pokemons with focus sash, as they don't need the bulk. When using life orb, I did keep in mind the damage calc when used in a combination with my Kangaskhan’s Double edge. Usually the combo can ohko even the bulkiest of xerns. I want to mention that I feel safeguard is such a under rated move. It’s more important in VGC16, where the battle can be finished in 8 turns or so.
       
      Bronzong @ Occa Berry  

      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 60 Def / 196 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Gravity  
      - Hypnosis  
      - Trick Room  
       
      This is also Leimin’s spread. This allows Bronzong to take at least 2 moonblasts, which is key for this team. I didn’t see the need to run more defense. Occa berry was so good for me but Mental herb and Lum berry are still among the best items for Bronzong.
       
      Kyogre @ Blue Orb  
       

      Ability: Drizzle  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 236 HP / 172 Def / 96 SpA / 4 SpD  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 22 Spe  
      - Origin Pulse  
      - Thunder  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Protect  
       
      Pretty standard Kyogre, with evs to help survive Precipice Blades from Groudon. The only notable difference is the speed ivs. I had this at 106 speed in order to be faster than my own Groudon so in TR, the rain would go up as groudon would be the fastest pokemon in trick room.
       
       
      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite  

      Ability: Inner Focus  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 36 HP / 148 Atk / 60 Def / 12 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Sucker Punch  
      - Power-Up Punch  
      - Fake Out  
       
      This kangaskhan was pretty handy for me. It can take Low kick from Jolly 252 most of the time. It has a 2% chance to OHKO, so you can see how little evs can make such a huge difference.
       
      252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Low Kick (100 BP) vs. 36 HP / 60 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 158-188 (85.4 - 101.6%) -- 2% chance to OHKO
       
      Salamence @ Salamencite  

      Ability: Intimidate  
      EVs: 84 Atk / 172 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Hasty Nature  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Tailwind  
      - Protect  
       
      I’m quite standard in general. The only difference is that I opted to use Hasty over Naive. I like to be able to take spread dazzling gleam and improve my chance to survive HP ice from Mega Manectric.

       
       
      Just thoughts to ponder over:
       
      I was just a random kid like everyone else, who started from nothing. It took me a long time to get good but the more you practice, the more chance of you improving. It’s simple but not many people keep this in mind. You shouldn’t expect success when you haven’t been putting in the time to get good, even if you hate this format. After all the efforts you’ve put into the whole season, you don’t want to fall at the last hurdle.
       
      Another point I want to make across. Keep in mind that just because you’re good at best of 1, doesn’t mean you’re good at best of 3 and vice versa. I don’t want anyone to make the assumption that all battlespot players only do well in best of 1. Anyone can be good in best of 3, if you can understand the different elements of your team, knowing what to lead vs certain teams etc.
       
      As I’m in the position where I can’t compete due to certain reasons (financial/parents etc), I only have online events and Battlespot to thrive on. I’m pretty gutted that I didn’t compete in the Nugget bridge tournament but I hope I can in VGC17 and try and make my mark in the VGC community. Forgive me if you felt that you wasted your time reading this blog.
       
      I want to give a big shout-out to everyone who has helped me improve as a player. I’m grateful that I’m a part of the VGC community, regardless of whether I’m good or not, or even if I compete or not. Thank you for your time and I hope you can make these achievements, like I was able to. Getting 1900+ in consecutive seasons was amazing. My advice is to aim high; you might not know where you might get.
    • By jugol in Jugol's... whatever. 0
      Two new TOs were approved for Chile last week. To avoid date clashes with other TO's tournaments and considering the one-per-month limit for each TO, one of them decided to improvise an express Premier Challenge between today and tomorrow, past 6 PM, because in the end making it with whatever attendance was better than not making it and losing September.
      Being in the middle of the week we expected at best 10 or 15 players. Instead 40 showed up, making it Elevated. Tomorrow is the Top Cut.

      I love this community.
    • By Stephen in SuperMoriokaWorld 0
      This week's episode covers the announcement about all the changes coming your way in the VGC 2017 season as we eagerly await the release of Pokemon Sun and Moon. We try to tackle everything from the Europe International all the way down to championship point payouts at smaller, local events. @Stephen @Lexicon
      Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMIETC5zF5c
      Downloadable version: http://thehypervoice.podbean.com/
      The Hyper Voice is also available on Itunes!
      00:00 Introductions 02:49 Early format change 08:04 Travel awards 17:42 New Worlds bar 22:08 Premier Challenges 28:40 Midseason Showdowns 33:11 Regionals 44:53 Europe International 52:49 The CP race 57:29 What metagame?   Please feel free to leave us any feedback and/or questions you may have for the next show.
    • By SamuelTemple2 in Nimbasa City Post 0
      Today, I want to talk about how to build a team in VGC. I won't be talking about VGC 2016 in this as  I have multiple articles talking about various VGC Restricted Cores and that type of ruleset doesn't happen often enough. Teambuilding in VGC is very important as if you have a team that can handle many obstacles that come its way will do well if the player can do this. I hope enjoy this and if you have any questions, feel free to ask. Now let's dive into this.
      Read more here
    • By Crawdaunt in VGC with Hats 3
      Greetings, hat lovers!
      Carson here. I am fairly new to VGC With Hats, but excited to be a writer. Before I talk about the team, I wanted to share the backstory about my journey to becoming World Champion. I started playing Competitive Pokemon only two years ago, after watching Sejun Park win it all with his Pachirisu. After a lot of ups and downs, I was able to cut and win my first regionals last year in Kansas. After that, I cut my first Nationals, but barely missed out on a paid invite to Worlds. I attended, but went 1-3 on Day 1 and was eliminated. However, I played in the Boston Open, and made Top 16, giving me a head start for the new season. I did fairly well, getting 4th at Houston and winning a few PCs, before I had a 3-3 flop at Virginia Regionals. Right after this, I decided to focus on another upcoming competition, the National Science Bowl, and didn’t touch Pokemon for March through April. I started playing just two weeks before Kansas Regionals, which brings me to my time using this team. Now, let’s jump right in!
       
      Team History and Season Overview
      My usage of this team originally started when I returned from a two-month hiatus. Most of my friends were running the team detailed here. I promptly started using that team as a place to start relearning the format, as I knew my friends would be able to provide assistance. The team was amazing, and I decided that I would bring at least a modified version to the upcoming Kansas City regionals. I ended up bringing Kangaskhan / Salamence / Thundurus / Cresselia / Groudon / Kyogre. I was able to go 3-1, but missed cut on resistance due to the lack of players. I was disappointed, but was still able to get enough CP to qualify for a paid trip to Nationals. In the leadup to Nationals, I tested a great variety of things, ranging from standard Big 6 to Specs Zard on Yveldon. However, about three weeks before, I decided to try Bronzong Dual Primals and never looked back. With its great Big 6 matchup, I found the games much easier to play, and I had an endgame to work toward with Bronzong Kyogre. I once again started with the GS Squad (see above link) and worked from there.
      My first changes involved swapping things for Mawile, but I soon realized that Mawile was essential to how the team functioned in a time of Yveltal being a prominent threat. Things really started shaping up when I experimented with the Salamence slot. Togekiss was one of the first Pokemon I used to fill the slot, and was the one I used in the IC. I did well in the IC, placing 4th on my main cart and 5th on my alt cart, but I still felt like the team could be better. The week before Nationals, I realized that Kangaskhan fixed all the problems I had had in the IC. This was the team I brought to Nationals: I ran with Kangaskhan / Mawile / Thundurus / Bronzong / Groudon / Kyogre. It performed quite well, netting me Day 2, with my only losses being to Mostafa, Andras, and Dylan (who all made top cut). However, the team had no way to deal with Scarf Landorus on RayOgre. Obscure as it may be, I still hated having a matchup where I felt helpless to do anything but hope to not flinch, but even if I didn’t flinch I would still lose the damage trade most turns. This, in combination with the fact that I thought Dual Primals would be a bad Worlds meta call are what made me experiment with the Big C archetype for the next month or so.
      With about three weeks to Worlds, and the answer to the last two slots on the team seemed frustratingly out of reach, I switched back to my Nationals team, not knowing what to do. That was when it hit me: With Icy Wind Cress I could get the speed control that I so needed versus RayOgre. I had seen the combination of Bronzong and Cresselia at Nationals, which gave me the confidence to test this idea, which had been stirring in my head. I was a little surprised when I realized it wasn’t terrible! I was able to reach my highest rating on PS! (only 1687 though lol), but it was significant to me because I knew that I played much better at tournaments, with the pressure on. If I was able to do that much better than normal online, maybe I could do well at Worlds. With my team all but set in my mind, I felt nervous yet confident that I had chosen the right team.
       
      The Team: Used for Day 1, Day 2, and Finals

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
      Ability: Inner Focus
      Level: 50
      EVs: 12 HP / 164 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Double-Edge
      - Low Kick
      - Protect
      This Kangaskhan was brought to almost every single game, and for good reason. With Fake Out and strong, consistent damage, I was able to bring it to most matchups relatively safely. Combined with Thundurus, it made up the majority of my leads. This set is a bit odd, and Low Kick and Protect are probably worth explaining. Low Kick was chosen over Power-Up Punch due to the problems I had with Dialga, and to get large amounts of damage without recoil on opposing Kangaskhan. Protect was chosen because of its ability to catch double targets into Kangaskhan and force my opponents to respect my options in a best of three.

      Thundurus @ Life Orb
      Ability: Prankster
      Level: 50
      EVs: 4 HP / 248 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
      - Thunderbolt
      - Hidden Power [Water]
      - Taunt
      - Thunder Wave
      Thundurus was definitely my most valuable Pokemon over the weekend, with effective options for speed control, Smeargle control, and Groudon control. Hidden Power Water was hit only twice sadly, once in Day 1 and once in the Finals. I went for it twice in Day 2 Swiss but my opponents saw it coming. If you are wondering why I chose to use it over something such as Protect, it was because the ability to take out something as important as Groudon in one hit was a huge boon, along with it giving me something else to abuse Kyogre’s rain. Thunderbolt was able to 2HKO most things, including Salamence, Kangaskhan, Kyogre, and Rayquaza/Mega Rayquaza out of delta stream. It was also able to OHKO Mental Herb Smeargle, which was very useful in a best-of-three setting. Taunt and Thunder Wave were used for their utility, being able to instantly gain a speed advantage or stop a Trick Room was incredible throughout both days.

      Bronzong @ Chesto Berry
      Ability: Levitate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 244 HP / 92 Def / 172 SpD
      Sassy Nature
      IVs: 0 Spe
      - Gyro Ball
      - Trick Room
      - Safeguard
      - Skill Swap
      DING DONG BRONZONG. Bronzong was a very important piece of this team, but sadly saw little action over the weekend, as I faced only three XernDon teams. Chesto over Lum was an interesting decision I made after reading Grant(@VelocityVGC)’s report here. Funnily, he references the same report written by Justin (@SpurrificVGC), Rapha(@RaphaelBagara), and Kelvin (@LyingLiepard) when explaining facets of his Bronzong. Anyways, Bronzong’s moveset is specifically tailored to the Big X matchup, with Safeguard shutting down Smeargle and Skill Swap getting the rain back up. Trick Room and Gyro Ball are almost mandatory for Bronzong, as they are its main tools for support and damage. This EV spread is the same one I used for Nationals, and survives two +2 Moonblasts from Timid Xern, along with having the largely irrelevant ability to survive a -1 Fire Punch from 196+ Primal Groudon in sun. Finally, Levitate was chosen as the ability in order to set up endgames with Kyogre, and because Bronzong will usually be paired with Kyogre, so Heatproof wouldn’t have done much good.

      Cresselia @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Levitate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 244 HP / 36 Def / 4 SpA / 28 SpD / 196 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk
      - Icy Wind
      - Trick Room
      - Gravity
      - Skill Swap
      Initially, the two things that stand out about this Cresselia are its Nature and its Moveset, which are both a bit odd. Cresselia’s Timid Nature was required for many of the things I desired to outspeed after an Icy Wind, which included Mega Salamence, Scarf Smeargle, and Scarf Kyogre. This comes with the added benefit of initially outspeeding anything slower as well, so things like Timid Smeargle, Adamant Groudon, and even most non-Timid Xerneas all fell behind in speed. The rest of the spread was primarily a bulk dump, but it survives key moves such as Kangaskhan’s Double-Edge and a Timid LO Yveltal Dark Pulse. Gravity was the second most important move in this set, after Icy Wind, because it gave the Cresselia Groudon duo a great advantage versus Rayquaza. Trick Room and Skill Swap were both moves I was iffy on going into Worlds, but I decided there were more situations where I wanted them over other moves such as Helping Hand and Psychic. However, with the rise of X-Ray, Gengar, and Hitmontop, they could be worth looking into. Trick Room was primarily used to reverse opposing Trick Rooms, punish Tailwinds, and punish Geomancies (Geomancys? Geomancyings?). Skill Swap was for Dual Primal mirrors, so that I could keep my weather up after slowing down my opponents with Icy Wind. I mainly brought Cresselia to teams with Rayquaza, or certain Dual Primal mirrors.

      Groudon @ Red Orb
      Ability: Drought
      Level: 50
      EVs: 204 HP / 108 Atk / 4 Def / 92 SpD / 100 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Precipice Blades
      - Fire Punch
      - Rock Slide
      - Protect
      The lone Groudon that won Worlds. Wow, I never thought I would say that. Groudon was my first Primal and the first part of the Dual Primal restricted core. Groudon’s moveset is fairly standard, with Rock Slide being the only odd choice. Rock Slide was very useful to hit things like Rayquaza, or any flying type in the rain. With one of this team’s main options being to set up speed control while denting the other team, then come in for a Primal sweep with rain up, this move was a key addition. Groudon’s spread survives a Timid 252 Spatk Groudon Earth Power, and outspeeds -1 Mega Rayquaza. This is what allowed the Cresselia Groudon duo to have such an advantageous matchup against Rayquaza; after a single Icy Wind I could go for a Gravity + Precipice Blades. On the first day, I accidentally gave this Groudon 84 speed EVs, and learned out the hard way when I was outsped by a Mega Rayquaza at -1. This didn’t cost me any games though, and I was glad I was able to find out Day 1. I was able to change it for Day 2, and it came into effect 2 or 3 times.

      Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb
      Ability: Primordial Sea
      Level: 50
      EVs: 172 HP / 212 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 44 Spe
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk
      - Water Spout
      - Ice Beam
      - Scald
      - Protect
      The last member of the team and the Dual Primals core, the blue whale itself, Kyogre! The spread and moveset was stolen from the once again above linked report by Justin, Rapha, and Kelvin, so I won’t bother to explain that part. I do want to talk about, however, how I used this Kyogre. In my mind, there are two ways that this team can use Kyogre. The first way is the primary option for Big X, where Kyogre is used for its ability to protect Bronzong and set up Hidden Power Water snipes. When I did this, Groudon was left on the bench in order to not have a conflict of weather. The second way is how I use it in the Primals mirror, where it is used for offense after setting up speed control. It seems Kyogre turned out to be the Pokemon with the best Worlds showing, after being doubted by many people the last couple months.
       
      Matches
      ...
      View the full article on www.vgcwithhats.com
       
    • 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 VGColombia in VGColombia: A Latin American blog 4
      So another week another premier challenge, and as ever here I briing to you the top 8 teams in this premier challenge, it comes with a little surprise, enjoy. Also if you want to see the top teams in action you can visit our youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQN3_KZ8nFAIVEJ-TeAB-DA) and suscribe if you don't want to miss any videos, this week we will release videos from swiss rounds 4 and 5, top 8, top 4 and finals from our previous premier challenge.
      Without anymore to say I leave you the top 8 teams:
      1. Adam Yacoob (Faith):

      2. Freedy Vanegas (Angel):

      3. Luis Rubio (Signum):

      4. Sergio Barreto (Tridar):

      5. Camilo Tellez (Valk):

      6. Andrés Campos (Andrés):

      7. Diego Llanes (SEED):

      8. Jonathan Quevedo (pollo q):

    • By Huasometa01 in HuasoMeta´s News 1
      Welcome to my blog, here I will introduce the top 8 teams of Premier Challenge #2 in Santiago De Chile 9/24/16

      1-Javier Parada [KMV TG Grandfire]
         
      2-Matias Roa [Boah]
            
      4- Catalina Castillo [CB]
                  
      4- Yara Prades [Kuroi]
          
      8-Carlos Sepulveda  
       
      8-Nicolas Villagra [Goku]
         
      8-Cristopher Soto [Chris]

              
      8- Omar Acuña [KMV TG Homero]
          

      i will see you in other top cut
    • By Tadei in Chirps & Tweaks 0
      Intercontinentals - Tadei’s blog
      http://tadei.hatenablog.com/entry/2016/09/26/180239