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    • VGC 2016: Post Midseason Thoughts
      By Jibaku in Fun Cave 4
      VGC 2016: Post Midseason Thoughts

      Midseason has just ended so I figured this would be a good time to post my opinions on this format before Spring regionals start (which I can't attend unless I can get a ride lol). Let me preface this by saying that, unlike what seems to be the vocal majority, I actually enjoy playing in VGC 2016. But it would be unwise to not notice the numerous game health flaws in this format. Regardless, this is a format that comes every once in a while - we haven't had a format like this since 2010, which I regretfully did not attend, and before that, 2006, which I did attend and was my first live tournament experience!

      But enough about that - let's get into what's right and what's wrong with VGC 2016 (from a personal standpoint, of course). I'll be covering metagame stuff, so issues like expensive entry fees and accessibility won't make an appearance.  Note that this isn't meant to be an argumentative piece or anything and is meant to be brief and somewhat casual, so take it as you wish. Quick reminder that I hardly played in the previous VGC formats - I only played in 2011, early 2012, and the end of 2015, so I don't really have a base of comparison.  That's not stopping me from posting about this meta, though.

      What I like about VGC 2016

      Let's start with the happy news shall we.

      Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, and Emphasis On Weather Wars

      Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre are probably some of the most fun Pokemon to use, because they create a major contestable variable on the field - the weather. As a player, I value interactivity and nothing really does that more than these Pokemon. Controlling the weather leads to interesting mindgames on either side that's not always set every match and there are many ways to do it. Instead of complaining about how teams are often forced to carry at least one of these Pokemon, I've embraced their centralization and enjoyed what they brought to the table.

      Both Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon bring a lot of flexibility to the table. With their insanely high stats across the board and their board control abilities, both primals offer a lot of flexibility in enabling various archetypes and in their EV spreads and usage. I may be forced to run one of them in various teams, but they're the ones enabling other options, so I don't really care lol. I'm not one to care about Pokemon diversity and I think that's just overrated, but I do value playstyle diversity. Can you imagine if something as inflexible as Xerneas had the same usage as Primal Groudon?  Could you expect a playstyle variety other than hyper offense? Do you think a metagame where only hyper offense exists would be fun to play?

      Oh yeah and this means that double primal is my favorite archetype. Go use this info against me in the NPA. Whatever.

      Depth and Growth of the Metagame

      Or at least relative to the early state of the metagame, VGC 2016 honestly really grew since the dark depths of Big 6 and RayOgre spam in December-January. While we did see experiments with Groudon/Palkia (Aaron's team), Ho-Oh stuff (Jon Hu and Kyogre/Ho-Oh tests), and Yveltal (which won't rise until later), we really didn't see much other than these 2. Big 6 was deemed unbeatable for a while and some people just gave up and left. But after the Big 6 infestation in  Virginia Top Cut, the metagame broke open. Double Primal, despite its early criticisms of anti-synergy, went into full force, eventually becoming the metagame's primary defensive archetype. Dialga's potency as a RayOgre counter and a solid tank overall was realized and rose. Also worth mentioning that Kyogre's EV spreads became noticeably bulkier around this time (FatOgre <3. Screw you Gavin). Yveltal's devastating Dark-type exploits and emphasis on stacking debuffs on enemies (or just hit stuff with its really power Dark STAB and surprising kill ranges) soon took hold as a soft counter to the two aforementioned defensive archetypes. Kyurem-W punctured holes in the metagame's overall weakness to Ice-type attacks, eventually solidifying itself as a Gravity abuser thanks to its powerful Blizzards. While this is all happening, Big 6 and RayOgre maintain their viability. We started with 2 major archetypes at the start of the season; we now have at least 4 (B6/Dual Primal/RayOgre/YvelDon) and a couple more that are trailing just behind them (Dialga/Ogre, Yveltal/Ogre, Kyurem-W/Groudon, Xerneas/Kyogre).

      The list doesn't end there. Palkia/Kyogre, Palkia/Groudon, Mewtwo/Groudon, Rayquaza/Xerneas, Kyurem-W/Kyogre, Rayquaza/Groudon. There are probably more I missed but these are worthy archetypes to also check out.  

      Tech versatility is also something that we saw during regionals, but I'm not covering them because there's a lot. There are just so many ways to synergize with the seemingly limited combinations of restricted Pokemon, and we're still discovering them! Careful to not confuse them with cheese or memes though. I will accept Bisharp as a fringe viable tech, but please don't run Golduck.

      Important to remember that Big 6 is still a strong archetype though. Please do not disrespect it.

      I Get to Use my Favorite Mons

      Well I have to point this out lol. These restricted mons are some of my favorite mons in the game, and being able to finally use them after years of absence just feels amazing! If the metagame were to ever go wrong, I'll have this to fall back on.

      What I Dislike About VGC 2016

      Let's face it - while I do enjoy playing in 2016, this metagame is stressful at times. Consistency can feel challenging, for example

      Putting Dark Void and Moody aside here, because the dislike for these two are almost universal so I'm not really adding much. I'll just briefly mention Mental Herb / Choice Scarf Smeargle here.

      I guess I could mention cheese sets in general, but this is more or less enabled by the combination of above and this thing right below.

      Geomancy (and I guess Xerneas and a little about Big 6)

      Ok this move's just silly. Playing as Xerneas forces you to devote too many resources to getting it set up or else it's useless, because the power difference between a boosted and unboosted Xern is so huge.  Playing against a well supported Xerneas requires a ton of pre-planning and basically scripted play (hello Big 6).  Playing a script is hardly competitive and is incredibly repetitive, but you kind of have to because Xerneas punishes a mistake or a miss harder than anything else in the game. Your plan against these teams have to be incredibly solid. If you execute that plan correctly, Xerneas could become more useless than virtually any other restricted mon, but make a mistake and it turns your team to dust. Oh and this is where cheese comes in, because sometimes these plans are so rigid that you don't have a lot of room to fix things if something were to go wrong. You got Thundurus to Taunt standard Smeargle? It would be a shame if it was holding a Mental Herb...

      Did I mention that Xerneas is inflexible? You pretty much can't have a defensive build with Xerneas on your team or it becomes suboptimal because so much of its power is tied to Geomancy. Making a balanced build is possible though, but that's probably as defensive as a Xern team will go. You can run bulky Xern if you want, although that hardly changes its playstyle - just some calcs (I do think bulky Xern is relatively unexplored though).

      Would I ban Geomancy? Probably not actually. In theory banning Geomancy will weaken Xerneas to a point where other Dragon-type restricted mons become viable enough to constantly keep the primals in check, while Xerneas itself will still maintain enough power to keep these dragons in check without going overboard. But that's all just theory - I'd rather not step into this gray area.

      I'm going to briefly mention here that Big 6 takes too many resources to check properly and I think it's the reason why team matchups can be frustrating in this format.

      tl;dr: Xerneas is an incredibly polarizing Pokemon and when it's consistent at its job it's basically overpowered beyond belief. If it's not doing it's job, it's a bad Pokemon. Oh and it's purely offensive, so its dominance leads to a hyperoffense centric meta. Which is bad for reasons I won't discuss. Thankfully it's not -that- dominant.

      Do I consider Xerneas overpowered? In terms of actual power, not any more than the primals. But its effects on the game are considerably more negative than the primals.

      Also I don't understand why Geomancy has a SpDef boost attached to it. +2 Spe and SpA already give Xerneas tons of power - does it also have to be immortal on the special side?

      Isn't it ironic how the "Life" Pokemon possesses the most destructive move in the game, while the "Destruction" Pokemon is the one that's annoying to take down?

      It does have a pretty animation though.

      Gravity/Sleep Spam

      Mostly refers to the Sableye/Gengar/Whimsi/Kyu/Groudon team. This setup kinda lives and dies by sleep turns since the mons tend to be frail and fast to quickly take advantage of the gravity turns. And when you deny Gravity from them they'll start firing inaccurate sleep moves/blizzards on you and try to decide the game on dice rolls.. Just not a fun team to face in general and I hope gamefreak looks into sleep mechanics in general once again. Sleep in general should be more reliable but less debilitating and also less RNG based.
      Team isn't borked by any means, just annoying.

      PBlade/OPulse Accuracy

      Self explanatory. Very game defining moves shouldn't be subject to accuracy checks. This is more of a minor thing but I have to mention it anyways.

      Closing Thoughts

      VGC 2016 is fun but requires some degree of masochism. Out of the years I've played (2011, early 2012, late 2015, and 2016), this is probably still my favorite overall despite  the roulettes and the monotonous experience facing the most common team in the format. Maybe I just like playing with the restricted mons that much to really care about the downsides?  I think I'm not the only person who shares this sentiment, though.

      From Stephen Morioka, when asked what his thoughts on the meta are,

      " Another important thing I don’t think players realize is how special this format is. This format allows for two restricted Pokémon to be on your team from a group of 15, such as Mewtwo, Groudon, and Kyogre. Normally, since they are so overpowered compared to other Pokémon, they are always sitting on the sidelines because they are not allowed to play in official formats. This year is only the 3rd time I’ve been able to use these Pokémon in a double battle format (the last two being in 2006 and 2010), so I am appreciating every second of this format because who knows, it may be another four to six years until we see these Pokémon in competitive play again."
      source: http://pokepress.blogspot.com/2016/04/pokemon-vgc-midseason-showdown.html

      As a JAA veteran, these words resonate with me incredibly well, and I do hope we'll see a return of this format sometime in the future. Probably not next year, and hopefully they'll make some game mechanic adjustments and make more Pokemon feel like they're worth the restricted slots (Zekrom!) whenever this type of format returns.

      One thing that bugged me more than the format's downsides is the amount of complaints over social media. I guess TPCi's promise to investigate Dark Void gave people an excuse to do this. Thank goodness that has died down. But now I wonder what would happen if Dark Void were to get banned. I think people would use the banning to justify about complaining other things as a precedence has been set, giving hope to ban more things in the future. That would be rather catastrophic, and in a sense I'm glad TPCi didn't do anything. I still want DV gone, but having partaken in Smogon's suspect tests, the threat of slippery slope banning is probably not something we want here. It was omnipresent in the BW OU suspect test era. That happening in VGC is a scary thought.

      But as long as I get to use my restricted mons, I'll still have fun . Don't touch my primals!
      PS: Yveltal is the best designed restricted mon from a competitive standpoint.
    • ICPA Spring Series Wrap Up
      By ICPA Writer in The International Collegiate Pokemon Association 14
      Hey there Nugget Bridge!
      Update: The ICPA Player Statistics have now been separated as the whole season, or either the Fall or Spring Series' individually.
      After the Fall Series held in VGC 2015, this semester has been a challenge for every school to adapt to the new format. This year's VGC rules involving restricted legendaries are a new experience to most, considering the last time players saw Groudon and Kyogre in the format was six years ago. A number of schools qualified for the ICPA playoffs in the VGC 2015 format, and headed into the Spring Series with some breathing room and time to adjust to the new ruleset. These schools were also competing in the Spring Series for a chance at a BYE in the playoff bracket.
      To challenge them, a number of new schools hailing from Mexico joined the association, largely entered into group B. New groups were also sorted based on geography and Fall Series results to give teams a chance to prove they were amongst the best in the conference. Well the dust has settled, and the Spring Series has concluded. While we saw repeat invitations handed down to some teams, others managed to claw out of their Fall Series performances and clinch a playoff berth. Which schools were these? Well...
      Group A

      Group A was an interesting spectacle to behold. The top three teams from 2015 were all bundled into this group due to Fall Series placings; that top 3 being UNT, UCSD, and UVic respectively. Included in this competitive bunch were Fall Series-qualifiers Monterrey Tech, a new school from Baja California (CETYS), and OSU. The teams with an invite from the Fall Series were UCSD and Monterrey Tech, while UVic bubbled off resistance in the Fall. The big story entering the Spring was whether reigning champions UNT would be able to right their ship after a disappointing Fall Series. How did the Spring turn out?
      University of Victoria (5-0) University of North Texas (4-1) Tecnológico de Monterrey (3-2) University of California San Diego (2-3) Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior (1-4) Oklahoma State University (0-5) Throughout the Spring Series, UVic demonstrated why they were semi-finalists last year, posting commanding victories round after round; UVic finished the Spring Series with an impressive overall record of 21W - 4L, en-route to a 5-0 Spring Series finish. It seems like the team is thriving in the new format. ACEs Max Douglas (@starmetroid; 8-2) and Mark Hanson (@Crawdaunt) both went undefeated in the Spring, and finished amongst the league's top players in the overall player stats. UVic seems to have found its core fielding Jason Wynja (@Arti; 5-0), Alex Cheung (@machdragon; 5-1), and Evan Wilmot (@Varoomashroom) through most of the Spring series. The team swept two divisional rivals, and took convincing 4-1 wins against two others; an intriguing feat given that the group had both of last year's finalists and another Fall Series qualifier. Whatever happened, UVic has found their mojo and looks ready to compete through April and maybe into May. They'll be joining the University of Waterloo to represent Canada this playoff season.
      Not to be outdone UNT rebounded after a disappointing Fall Series, finishing a strong 4-1; UNT had to knock off both UCSD and Monterrey Tech en-route to their well-earned playoff invitation. ACEs Tiffany Stanley (@Shiloh) and Evan Bates (@Veteran Padgett) also clawed out of the bottom of the player statistics to finish within the Top 30 players. Captain Paul Barrera (@Paulitoed) sat back a bit this semester to let teammates Cody Kyrk (@Kyrk), Kevin Paramo (@guycecil01), and Cade Keeton (@Bazzeltroff) gain experience heading into the playoffs. UNT's overall player records leave a bit to be desired outside the ACE slot, but Cody Kyrk (4-1 in Spring) has rounded out each of UNT's victories recently. It can't be ignored that UNT entered last year's playoffs as the 8th seed of 8 teams, and pulled off underdog victory after underdog victory en-route to the championships. It certainly seems like UNT's style to enter as the dark horse, so maybe their record will fare well for them.
      The other teams in Group A heading to the post-season earned their spot in the Fall Series. UCSD swept through the Fall Series 5-0. Their 2016 performance hasn't been stellar, but throughout VGC 2015 UCSD went undefeated, so they're not a school to count out. Captain Alvin Mo (@corsolafan) recently finished in the Top 8 of Anaheim Regionals, so perhaps the team has some success to model its play-style off of entering the playoffs. Meanwhile Monterrey Tech had a solid showing in both the Fall (4-1) and Spring (3-2) under the guidance of captain Luis Canseco (@Chaivon). Monterrey has switched up its ACEs playing Luis Hernandez (@ldhc22; 9-1), captain Luis, and Ruben Escobedo (@Rubalx) throughout the semester, implying a deep roster poised to take on the playoffs; Monterrey is also one of three Mexican schools that will be competing in the coming weeks.
      The final two of Group A will look to regroup for next year. For CETYS, this first year has hopefully had a building year and captain Luis Vargas (@chacks13) will return in Fall 2016 ready to take a run at the post-season. Meanwhile, OSU captain Kaston Murrell (@Chronos) has built a small base for the future. Oklahoma is a team that has had trouble settling out a 4th and 5th player. But this season, OSU has five players sporting at least two wins. Finding those victories more consistently will be key for both CETYS and OSU in future seasons.
      Group B


      This Spring one group had a grand total of eight teams, composed of many unproven new Mexican schools and a number of capable institutions. To accommodate the greater number of teams, a total of three invites were up for grabs over the Spring's five rounds of play. The two teams entering Group B as playoff-qualifiers were last year's semi-finalists UCB and newcomers UNSW. With so many unknowns in the group, it was anyone's guess as to who would come out on top. In the end:
      Instituto Politecnico Nacional (5-0) Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (4-1) University of California, Berkeley (4-1) University of Calgary (3-2) University of Hawaii at Manoa (2-3) University of New South Wales (2-3) Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico (0-5) Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana - Iztapalpa (0-5) Without knowing anything about the four new Mexican schools, it would have been incredible to have called IPN's romp of Group B; though intriguingly IPN never faced off against either fellow invitees UCB or UNAM. Nonetheless, as the only 5-0 in the group, IPN has showed they are no slouches to say the least, and that they are possibly contenders for the ICPA championships this May. Captain Lizandro Gonzalez (@Gonsser; 5-0) must be pleased with his team's performance, leading the team as their undefeated ACE throughout the Spring. Fellow ACE Alfonso Esqueda (@Pktrainer1994) has held his own, while Eliezer Gomez (@TerranceZer; 5-0), Daniel Nuñez (@DannyTDS; 4-1), and Jonathan Juárez (@Gupiman) round out the team's core. Indeed the team has four Worlds-qualifiers this year alone, and their captain and undefeated ACE is ranked 2nd in Mexico; it should be noted that the CP bar in Latin America is only 150 CP for Masters division players. IPN finds itself in a similar situation to UCSD in 2015; undefeated throughout the regular season but without having competed against its top divisional rival(s). Last year, UCSD went on to finish a close 2nd place, so if history has taught us anything, it's that IPN can't be underestimated as serious contenders. They'll be joining Monterrey Tech as Mexican representatives in the ICPA playoffs.
      Also charging into the post-season is UNAM, who earned their 4-1 finish by toppling UCB. Captain Daniel Martínez Rivera (@Zlatant; 2-0) sat much of the semester out, as did his teammates. A total of 10 unique players helped UNAM along to the post season, sporting perhaps the deepest roster in the ICPA; a feat that's even more impressive given their 4-1 finish this season. That depth will surely help UNAM remain a contender for years to come, but in the meantime they'll have to figure out who their core of five is if they intend to take a run at the plaque. Osvaldo Cruz (@StatsDracko) has been the only mainstay for the team, while Christian Ramirez Lira (@EwokPadawan) and Daniel Salazar García (@walavii) complete UNAM's roster that have played in ACE matches. While UNAM took a close set against UCB, they also dropped a close set to UC. Captain Daniel Rivera will have a tough time hammering out a playoff-ready lineup out of so many players to choose from. Whoever is selected will join Monterrey and IPN as Mexican representatives this post-season.
      Finally, UCB shored up their double invitation with a second series of strong play. Captain Ajit Unnam (@kamikaze17) and fellow ACE Kimo Nishimura (@TFC) have relied on non-ACEs Edward Hong (@EdoPhantom; 7-1) and Gustavo Reynoso (@Psynergy; 7-1) for victories; Gustavo took a stab at the ACE slot in the last round. Former ACE Brandon Kho (@NYC) returned after a semester largely taken off. With four potential ACEs, UCB will have its work cut out for themselves hammering out their playoff roster. Expect the names listed above, and possibly Charles Thorson (@nvakna) as a 6th member. That said, UCB has a deep roster themselves, sporting nine unique players this season. After having their run cut short in the semifinals last year, UCB should be hungry to repeat their success and try to take themselves farther in 2016. With a double invite earned, UCB is one of three schools confirmed to have a BYE straight to the Top 8. Who will UCB rely on to try and proceed to the Top 4? We'll have to wait to find out.
      Group B's runner-up this series wound up being Calgary, who managed a close victory over UNAM in Round 4. Captain Myles Kristalovich (@Drakon) can applaud the team for improving on their Fall Series record, having just missed out in a close affair with IPN followed by a loss to UCB to wind up 3-2 on the spring. The team has benefitted from the consistency of Kevin Zhao (@Twitchhy; 4-1), Jason Cey (@Jirox8; 4-1), and Eric Provencher (@moocowdoom; 4-0) throughout the season, but will look to build on its developing player base for next year. Meanwhile, Hawaii fell short in the Spring losing a do-or-die round against UNAM, but can build on a solid season heading into the summer and next fall. Hawaii captain Keola Nakamoto (@Kasoman) had a strong showing amongst ACE players this season, and the team stands to benefit from Premier events being hosted for the first time in Hawaii this past Spring.
      Captain Jimmy Yao Long Chen (@aeon; 5-1) of UNSW on the other hand will be looking to right his team's performance (2-3) from the Spring as UNSW heads into the playoffs off of their Fall success. ACE Corey Munro (@Thecorey0) sits amongst the top players in the league, while Eric Vo (@bagmiku; 5-1) has had a successful Spring himself. Perhaps fellow ACE Denaysh Selvakkumar (@phoxfiyah) could end up competing as a non-ACE given the playoff format and the successes of Jimmy and Eric.
      Bringing up the rear, UAEM and UAM-I will look to take their first ICPA series and all of its experience with them into the summer tournament. Captains, Julio Olvera (@Julzz) and Erwin Alejandro De Valdemar Romero (@Erwiniche) will want to keep honing their rosters and growing their player bases. The summer tournament should provide a good proving ground for both schools to sort out their teams and give their large rosters some valuable practice.
      Group C

      All Spring Group C felt the dominating presence of the University of Michigan (UM), who are blazing amidst a league record 15 straight regular season wins. The group ended up playing host to both United Kingdom schools after Strathclyde felled Oxford in their rivalry match in the Fall. On the outside, Cornell set out to improve on a disappointing 1-4 Fall Series, as TAMU-CS and BSU hoped to improve on 2-3 finishes in the Fall. While the East doesn't sport as many big name schools, Round five saw an undefeated UM face off against equally undefeated Strathclyde to settle the top team in Group C. After the dust had settled UM stood atop Group C, indeed atop the East, and look strong entering the playoffs.
      University of Michigan (5-0)
      University of Strathclyde (4-1)
      Cornell University (2-3)
      Texas A&M University- College Station (2-3)
      Oxford University (1-4)
      Ball State University (1-4)
      Michigan captain Keegan Beljanski (@Darkeness; 5-0) has been solid all season, while league-leading ACEs Jon McMillan (@MrEobo; 9-1), and Kevin Swastek (@kswas; 7-1) triumphed all year, and particularly in their final match against Strathclyde. By the end of the Spring, Michigan's individual game record was 22W-3L, which says all it needs to say. Garrett Yee (@GYee; 5-1), Alec Beljanski (@Polecat; 5-0), and Jordan VanderZwaag (@jvswag; 4-1) have all factored in heavily towards UM's success, while Rosemary Kelley (@Nekkra; 3-0) went undefeated herself posting 6 wins and 0 losses in individual games. Michigan's roster runs deep and it's no mystery as to how they've earned two invites en-route to the Top 8 of the ICPA playoffs. With such a deep roster, it'll be difficult to settle on a starting lineup. The team will have plenty of time to prepare for their run this year, hoping to break out of the Top 8 this time around.
      Meanwhile, Strathclyde demonstrated why they were atop the Fall Series, finishing 4-1 for the second time in a row. Captain Benjamin Grover (@Arch11Heretic; 8-2) is amongst the league's leading ACEs, alongside fellow ACE Maxwell Boyle (@InfernoMonkey). Drew Hannah (@Werd95; 7-0) has been a force for Strathclyde this year, while Robert Fleming (@FallibleScot), Michael Wilson (@gavoustemick), and Jacky Leong (@MaftyEllin) have all contributed greatly to Strathclyde's victories. These six will joust for a spot in Strathclyde's starting five as the team sits back to watch how the Top 16 plays out. What can be said is that Strathclyde has made its mark on the ICPA, and hopefully on the East as well. With new schools bringing a competitive spirit to the conference, next year's Eastern divisions will have likely upped their game. This post-season, Strathclyde has the pride of not only Glasgow, not only the UK, but the entirety of Europe resting on their shoulders. Perhaps their performance can inspire fellow European schools to join the ICPA next season.
      On the outside, Cornell improved on a disappointing Fall Series and will look to continue improving into next year. Captain 桜ミツォのみ (@SakuraMitsonomi) should be pleased with how the series played out, and will likely build the team around the summer tournament heading into next fall. One more series has found TAMU-CS and BSU on the lower rungs of the ladder, but their spirit is unmistakable. Captains Nicholas Martinez (@HolyShadow31) and Chris Purvis (@Gh3ttolizard) will want to regroup in the summer themselves. Each of these teams stands to continue improving with experience. Amidst its share of drama, Oxford fell off the wagon in the Spring and what becomes of the team in the coming months remains to be seen. After a strong 2015 NCPA season, Oxford went a solid 3-2 in the ICPA Fall Series. Hopefully captain Will Bate (@yochocola) can help the team can rebound with some new recruits in Fall 2016.
      Group D

      Group A was a tightly contested affair. Group B had numerous unknowns waiting to play out. Group C witnessed a record not only being set, but continuously extended. With all that excitement, it's easy to overlook Group D's newfound challengers. Waterloo maintained its position near the top of the Group, but fell mid-series to UNC-CH as UNC fought for survival. Thanks to those efforts, UNC-CH found itself in a do-or-die finale against fellow upstarts URI, who took down RIT to put themselves in a similar position to qualify for the playoffs. The winner of UNC-CH and URI was set to determine the final playoff standings. That winner was... :
      University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (4-1)
      University of Waterloo (4-1)
      University of Rhode Island (3-2)
      Rochester Institute of Technology (3-2)
      Michigan Technological University (1-4)
      Rowan University (0-5)
      North Carolina! After a disappointing finish just outside of a playoff berth in the Fall, UNC-CH persevered and not only qualified for the playoffs, but even managed to finish first place in Group D! The team has relied and built on the league-leading performance of ACE and captain Nicolas Peckman (@Ace Emerald; 9-1), who finished the season with an impressive 18W-4L; I do believe this has earned Nicolas the league MVP title for 2015-2016! Fellow ACE Luke Tannenbaum (@Lukedicolo) has been solid all season, while the remaining core is made up of David Brock Suddaby (@skyarrow), Luis Julio Lucas-Tzun (@halterofilador), and Brian Fischer (@ratfr0). The team will be competing in the coming weeks to show off just how far they can go. An anonymous source has also informed me that former World Champion and current US National Champion Toler Webb (@Dim) will be attending UNC-CH in the fall of 2016. This season has shown that the team has a solid core to build on, and regardless of how they fare in the playoffs, next year it seems they'll be returning with a vengeance.
      Not to be outdone, Waterloo completed a double invite endeavour of their own, improving on their playoff-qualifying Fall Series finish. Due to the total number of double invitees, it seems Waterloo will be entering into the Top 16 as the best-ranked team playing in the round. Captain and ACE Sean Wen (@Hegna; 6-1) should be proud of the team's impressive showing in their first year of competition. Fellow ACE Dian Jin (@hyperbuttz), Brandon Munshaw (@bthomas; 6-1), Kyle Pimental (@kjk462), and Troy Mazerolle (@Drachenlarge; 4-1) have all been instrumental in Waterloo's post-season berth. The team has also been aided by John Chen (@Isochronicle), and numerous other members; 10 in total this season. Riding the high of a strong finish, Waterloo will be one of two Canadian schools in the playoffs; the other being UVic. With both schools being ranked fairly similarly, the two can look forward to fighting for an all-Canadian match in the later stages of the post-season. That is... if they clear their first hurdles.
      And credit where credit is due. Rhode Island had a rough Fall Series finishing 1-4. To bounce back and tackle playoff-qualifying RIT en-route to a solid 3-2 finish is commendable. At the end of the day, Captain and ACE Justin Friedman (@tennisace) should be proud of both his play, landing him amongst the league's leading ACE players, and the play of his teammates. Fellow ACE Daniel Laplante (@ninjafridge), and ACE substitutes Shane Hobe (@LilBabyJesus) and John Vachon (@JPVpoint3) all had solid Spring Series' performances. Going from a 1-4 to a 3-2 finish demonstrates a big change that will be interesting to see both in the summer and going into next Fall.
      Rochester on the other hand will be gearing up for another playoff run. They continue to assure me that they're all about dank memes, but I see through their bluff. Captain and ACE Jeffrey Karger (@thewildvegetable) and fellow ACE Travis Robinson (@FerociousKeyz) have performed well this season, and are both sitting near the top. The team's core is completed by Dan Blackmore (@Hashtag), Peter Killian (@wolftail42), Charles Parr (@SteelOsprei; 4-1), and Tremayne Baker (@MLGFro; 4-1). Yes, RIT is possibly the most serious contender entering the playoffs this season, looking to improve on their Top 8 finish last year. But to take the title, your only option is to go X-0, something RIT has yet to figure out.
      Rounding out Group D were former favourites for the championships, MTU (#MTUChamps2016), and the renewed Rowan University. Michigan Tech captain Amanda McCuistion (@AtomicAbsol) and Rowan captain Tom Hill (@Dusk Ball Tom) will look to have their team pick up valuable experience over the summer in the official competitive circuit, and maybe some new recruits to bolster the roster.
      Wrapping it all up
      The playoffs are right around the corner, and captains will be looking to figure out their playoff rosters for the first week. Unlike the regular season, ACE players can sub in and out of the ACE slot freely during the playoffs; though there are restrictions. The ICPA playoffs require teams to register three players as potential ACE players for the playoffs, and teams can only use those three players as ACE players throughout the playoffs. This doesn't mean they can't play as non-ACEs, but at least two will always be in the top slots. This is a big chance for non-ACE players to make their mark on the format. Look forward to our player coverage in the upcoming playoff preview, where we'll also be announcing this year's League MVPs and Runners-up, which will include awarding $250 USD in scholarships!
      Who will be taking home the coveted ICPA Championship Plaque in May? We've got 13 schools competing in the playoffs this year, but only one will come out on top. Last year's Top 4 have all returned, comprised of the University of North Texas, the University of California San Diego, the University of Victoria, and the University of California Berkeley. Back again from the 2015 season's Top 8 are the University of Michigan, and Rochester Institute of Technology. Promising faces new to the 2015-2016 season include the University of Strathclyde, the University of Waterloo, and el Instituto Politecnico Nacional. This year's dark horses are el Tecnológico de Monterrey (Monterrey Tech), la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, the University of New South Wales, and late upstarts the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.
      Playoffs start Monday April 18th!
      Cheers,
      ICPA Writer
       
      p.s. If anyone is curious, I included player records whenever a player had a greater than or equal to 80% win rate.
      Acronyms used
      Group A
      UNT - University of North Texas
      UCSD - University of California - San Diego
      UVic - University of Victoria
      Monterrey Tech - Tecnológico de Monterrey
      CETYS - Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior
      OSU - Oklahoma State University
      Group B
      IPN - Instituto Politecnico Nacional
      UCB - University of California, Berkeley
      UNAM - Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
      UNSW - University of New South Wales
      UH - University of Hawaii at Manoa
      UC - University of Calgary
      UAEM - Universidad Autonoma del Estado de Mexico
      UAM-I - Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana - Iztapalpa
      Group C
      UM - University of Michigan
      Strathclyde - University of Strathclyde
      Cornell - Cornell University
      TAMU-CS - Texas A&M University- College Station
      BSU - Ball State University
      Oxford - Oxford University
      Group D
      Waterloo - University of Waterloo
      URI - University of Rhode Island
      UNC-CH - University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
      RIT - Rochester Institute of Technology
      MTU - Michigan Technological University
      Rowan - Rowan University
    • TOP 10 SNAIL POKEMON NUMBER 4 WILL SHOCK YOU
      By makiri in makiri's blog 25
      10. SLIGGOO

      9. OMANYTE

      8. ESCAVALEER

      7. SHELMET

      6. SHELLOS WEST

      5. MAGCARGO

      4. ELECTABUZZ

      3. SHELLOS EAST

      2. SHUCKLE

      1. ESCAVALIAYE

       
    • Some Say... He steals all the luck of the Irish. A Runner-Up Dublin Regional Report!
      By Wyrms Eye in VGC through the Wyrms Eye 10
      Special thanks to Thowra for the article art! It really is a fantastic piece and made my week when I saw it! If you want to see some more of his work, click here!
      Hello everyone! For those of you who don’t know, my name is Nigel Gower, otherwise known as Wyrms Eye generally. Today I would like to take you through my run at the Dublin Regional Championships in Ireland that took place on the 5th March, where I reached the Final. Before I go over the event and the team that I ran, I’ll start by giving a brief introduction to the man behind the mask.
      I’ve long been an avid follower of Pokémon from an early age, from pretty much when Pokémon hit the UK way back in the late 1990s. Since then, I've long considered it a guilty pleasure, endless hours sunk into numerous games. My actual first foray into VGC came a couple of weeks after the release of Pokémon X and Y back in late 2013. I initially decided the join Nugget Bridge to give the new format a go for a year after watching parts of the World Championship that summer. I went into the format with relatively little competitive battling under my belt, though I at least knew the mechanics behind everything. My aim was to attend an actual event during the season, something that I achieved by attending UK Nationals in Spring 2014 and went a respectable 5-3. The bug of attending events soon kicked in and I would eventually become part of the furniture at events, you could say. Over the few years between then and the present day, I have shown glimpses that I am capable of playing at a high standard, possibly my greatest achievement was the magnificent 5-3 season run in NPA 3 as part of the Mistralton Jets against very stiff opposition. But it had never truly shown itself in major real life events.
       
      Heading into the event
      The preparation going forward to Dublin actually spanned back as far as early as January. Those who know me well will know that my stance on the format has been pretty negative because it doesn’t fit my style of play particularly well at all. The hyper-offensive nature of the games, as well as the development of a primary team of six that was proving insanely dominant killed a lot of enthusiasm in playing. I like to play a semi-defensive style, with the impetus on switching to try and build momentum and initiative, something you can see in some of my best teams over the years, but the style is very ill-suited to this season. I had experimented with a number of ideas and team cores, from the Big Six to a Rayquaza & Kyogre core as well as many much less favoured choices in between. I spent a good portion of January feeling frustrated at not being able to find any deal of consistency with any team, languishing under the 1200s on the Showdown ladder pretty much in its entirety.
      I spoke to a few friends and of those that continued to give me the pep talks was Ricardo Pinto (RpIndaHouse). He was very sympathetic to my ongoing issues of consistency and graciously decided to throw a few team ideas my way to try which he had been laddering with. The early precursor to the team I got very late that month comprised of a Dual Primal and Bronzong core that had been rising in popularity thanks to Alex Gomez’s 2nd Place in Wakefield, with Mega Salamence and Gengar as further offense and supporting roles.
           
      Despite my general distaste in Trick Room at the forefront of my offensive options, the team felt better than a lot of others I had tried and was winning more consistently, but I found it very reliant on setting up every game as both Groudon and Kyogre were minimum Speed. Over the next couple of weeks, I had practised with this setup and was gracious enough to be given an updated version of the team by Ricardo one week before my trip to Arnhem in the Netherlands. This team made some pretty drastic changes outside of the main core, going from a semi-hard Trick Room setup to a semi-soft one.
           
      I figured, based on what he had told me, that this would be a better fit as it was a semi-TR team and so not as heavily reliant on the setup. It immediately felt much more natural and intuitive in practice, giving me some much-needed confidence before the trip.
      I took the above squad to Arnhem, where I had a poor start early on to go 1-2 before recovering to 4-2, playing some very respectable opponents along the way. My final round match I was up against Tobias Koschitzki (TobySxE) and the match probably served as a very telling reminder to consider all of my win conditions as well as not to throw away such a valuable position I had gained, whether by good fortune or otherwise. I eventually lost on the timer, something which Tobias was right to go for, but obviously left me rueing my own mistakes. As a result, my 4-3 record ended up finishing in 37th Place, just outside any CP awarded. That evening I was incredibly angry and riled about the situation in general. I felt like quitting the season, and probably would have were it not for the Premier Challenge hosted the next day I had entered for mostly as a time-killer while my friend Rafik Sadli played in the Top Cut of the Regional.
      My Swiss run in the Premier Challenge included Brian Zourdani who I had also made the trip to Arnhem with, who had ‘seen the light’ and ran a Scarf Smeargle based on Rafik’s flawless Swiss run, a lucky escape at 1-1 where an opponents’ Precipice Blades missed to allow me to get the necessary attack off setting in motion a win condition and finally a rather interesting match where my opponent and I had a similar team composition which led to quite a few laughs in the early game when he both made similar plays against each other. My 4-1 record meant I reached the Top Cut and I subsequently proceeded to reach the finals. The games for the Semi-Final and the Final can be found with the links provided. The result was a much-needed shot in the arm and probably can be attributed to saving me from abandoning the season. It was also really great to play on the stream in Arnhem in front of friends whose support cannot be understated. While my final was very much me being soundly demolished, it did highlight a change that was desperately necessary; that there was a need to cover for Smeargle even more in my team. I convened with a few people on what they felt would work and Smeargle unsurprisingly was the main option. Some light-testing later, I convinced myself that the change was the right one for me to make, thus the team you saw in Dublin came together…
       
      The Team

      KYOGRE @ BLUE ORB
      Quiet Nature
      Drizzle > Primordial Sea
      252 HP / 180 Def / 76 Sp.Atk [0 IV Speed]
      Ø  Water Spout
      Ø  Origin Pulse
      Ø  Ice Beam
      Ø  Protect
      Your general slow, bulky Primal Kyogre build. While it certainly isn’t as bulky as a few I knew of and encountered over the weekend, it’s hard to overstate just how incredibly valuable the Defense was. This build allows you to survive two spread Precipice Blade hits from Jolly Primal Groudon and can take an Adamant Life Orb Dragon Ascent from Mega Rayquaza, two of the biggest physical hitters in the format. The spread also allows it to survive Double-Edge from the conventional Jolly Mega Kangaskhan and can largely take a Fake Out and Double-Edge in combination generally in my favour, though obviously not a situation I aimed to play for. The remaining EV’s were put into the Special Attack largely to aid boosting damage output, although there were no other major benchmarks that were important. The Quiet Nature and minimum Speed IV were to assist Kyogre in making full use of Trick Room when it was up.
      Despite being slow, the latent bulk of this thing meant that, even outside of Trick Room, it could be a massive damage dealer to opposing Pokémon. Water Spout is of course the preferred STAB move of Choice, but Origin Pulse provides a semi-reliable backup when Water Spout becomes largely redundant. Ice Beam provides useful coverage on Dragon and Grass-types notably, while Protect is self-explanatory. The set therefore does leave much to be desired against any users of Wide Guard, but generally this was a risk I was happy to take thanks to the general cohesiveness of the team. In practice, Kyogre provided me with my main offensive mode in Trick Room, but saw successful use consistently outside of it both in practice and at proper events. There’s obviously merit in running Kyogre somewhat bulkier and not worrying too much on the Speed aspect of it as there’s remarkably little that can knock it out in a single hit.
       

      BRONZONG @ LUM BERRY
      Sassy Nature
      Levitate
      252 HP / 76 Def / 180 Sp.Def [0 IV Speed]
      Ø  Trick Room
      Ø  Skill Swap
      Ø  Gyro Ball
      Ø  Imprison
      This is a semi-standard Bronzong build, based more on being more defensive in exchange for trying to secure knockouts with Gyro Ball on its main targets. The Special Defense itself is a substantial investment designed to take Primal Kyogre Water Spout with a boosting nature, doing so with a bit of health to spare. It also tanks its key target, Xerneas, with relative ease. A +2 fully invested Timid variant only achieves a 5.1% chance to 2HKO. On the physical side, Bronzong can take a Precipice Blades from Jolly Groudon 15/16 times if it is spread damage and Levitate is not a factor. In all, defensively it meets a lot of the criteria that a Trick Room setter needs to match.
      All of Trick Room, Skill Swap and Gyro Ball are staples on Bronzong. In my specific situation, Gyro Ball is only a 2HKO on typical Xerneas, even at +2 Speed, but that’s usually not a big issue given the bulk allows it to get those hits off, especially in Trick Room. The main quirk of this set lies with Imprison. There is a specific reason I ran Imprison over Gravity which is more standard; it allows me to dictate the weather war much more effectively when facing a similar Trick Room Double Primal team who opts to run Cresselia. By using Imprison after a Trick Room is set up for example, it effectively neuters the Cresselia from being able to Skill Swap their weather condition to win the war, opening up completely new win conditions. It does mean the Bronzong needs to stay active on the field, but it combines extremely well with Kyogre. It also means if such a player makes the call to Skill Swap and attack with Groudon while I have Bronzong and Kyogre on the field and rain is up, the Imprison usually leads to heavy damage dealt. This was not my first use of Imprison this season; some players may recall my unusual Imprison Landorus-T set I used at a range of Premier Challenges in late 2015 to some decent success.
      Whilst in practice I used Bronzong on a semi-frequent basis, the actual events saw its use somewhat muted, Dublin being no exception to this. I also had no need for Imprison during the whole weekend, but hindsight is a wonderful thing in such cases, so it’s hard to quantify how much I missed Gravity there in the long run. Despite that, it provides a plethora of options that make it such a dangerous beast to play against. Under the right circumstances, Bronzong can literally be a win condition in its own right.
       

      KANGASKHAN @ KANGASKHANITE
      Jolly Nature
      Inner Focus > Parental Bond
      4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed
      Ø  Fake Out
      Ø  Double-Edge
      Ø  Sucker Punch
      Ø  Low Kick
      Standard Kangaskhan build. I decided to run a basic spread because I felt it was the most comfortable option, even though I did risk ties with opposing Kangaskhan and could conceivably be knocked out from an opposing Low Kick in exact mirrors. I chose Inner Focus because it meant that I could still reliably Fake Out an opposing Pokémon on the field if necessary or get some needed damage off. I think it only came into play once during the event, but proved itself in practice a lot more. I think moving forward I will look into optimising the spread, but I do feel that whatever happens, the Speed is mandatory.
      The moveset is pretty basic and self-explanatory. The decision to run Double-Edge or Return as well as Power-Up Punch or Low Kick is often down to the users personal preferences. In this particular case, I favoured damage output over setup-sweeping potential, but either work really well in this format. It’s worth noting that a lot of Pokémon are starting to be much more invested defensively now in the run towards Nationals. The raw output is of course the matriarch of mayhem’s biggest selling point, able to mercilessly steamroll ill-prepared teams, especially if she has Power-Up Punch. On the whole, I feel she has once again retained her crown as the best Mega in the format, although Salamence I am sure will provide a sustained challenge in the next few months.
       

      GROUDON @ RED ORB
      Jolly Nature
      Drought > Desolate Land
      4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed
      Ø  Fire Punch
      Ø  Precipice Blades
      Ø  Substitute
      Ø  Protect
      Perhaps somewhat unusually for a Double Primal Team, a fast, physical Groudon. I think most of my prospective opponents when at team preview would generally consider that both Kyogre and Groudon were built to be slow, bulky variants. However, as a team, I liked the change Ricardo suggested in running a faster Groudon because it meant I occasionally caught people by surprise out of Trick Room. I’m also of the opinion that the physical variant is better than special sets, although I do believe there is some untapped mileage in mixed. It might be something I look into going forward.
      Fire Punch, Precipice Blades and Protect are pretty standard for physical Groudon, while Substitute is a little more unorthodox. When talking to Ricardo, he suggested it was good as a way to block Dark Void from Smeargle affecting Groudon as you out-speed the Sash variants. In practice, it worked fairly well, but often requires some fairly solid prediction on my part. Either way, if I had Substitute up, it provided an additional safety net. There’s no reason why an alternative move such as Rock Slide or Stone Edge could have been used, but generally Groudon can cover the majority of threats with only those two moves.
       

      WEAVILE @ FOCUS SASH
      Jolly Nature
      Pressure
      4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed
      Ø  Fake Out
      Ø  Feint
      Ø  Icicle Crash
      Ø  Knock Off
      Typical Weavile build, making use of its latent strengths. The Focus Sash is highly useful in allowing Weavile to usually get one more attack off, save for being doubled into or just hit by Mega Kangaskhan. One thing I took into consideration when using Weavile was that I could usually be fairly safe to Fake Out in the face of opposing Quick Guard users, including Talonflame, who predominantly run Adamant natures rather than Timid. It’s simple, but effective. Only Crobat really puts a dent into this idea, but it’s very rare you aim to Fake Out while a Crobat is on the field anyways.
      Generally, Weavile is used purely for fast Fake Out needs, but also has access to arguably one of the best supportive moves in my opinion this generation in Feint. Being able to break any guard or Protect that is used is extremely powerful. It can also be good to guarantee knockouts on severely weakened opposition who might aim to Protect to stall out one more turn. Indeed, Feint came into its own in a number of matches across the day, helping to pick off ailing opposition freely. While Icicle Crash is not a guaranteed knock-out at -1 on Mega Salamence from full health, it is enough damage to usually put it within easy range for other team members to take it down. However, Weavile comes into its own when dealing with Rayquaza and can also severely help in hampering Yveltal, Liepard and Gengar cores from operating how they would like to, who would otherwise provide this team with something of a major headache. Icicle Crash and Knock Off are good STAB options on the whole.
      I really feel Weavile is criminally undervalued in the metagame right now as it has a very good typing that allows it to cover a lot of ground and can provide the support teams crave to do some pretty powerful plays. While it does find itself in the fast and fragile range and Xerneas is still a massive threat for it, its Speed gives it a notable edge over other Pokémon fulfilling similar roles. This thing helped to patch a few holes on my team and makes the RayOgre match much more finely balanced.
       

      SMEARGLE @ CHOICE SCARF
      Jolly Nature
      Own Tempo
      4 HP / 252 Def / 252 Speed
      Ø  Fake Out
      Ø  Dark Void
      Ø  Crafty Shield
      Ø  Follow Me
      The final member of the team was the most recent addition, made to cover a very specific scenario, but ultimately carries incredible utility that honestly would be rude not to use. For what it was worth, Smeargle only saw action in three games total; two of them it did absolutely nothing while the third it got one attack off integral to winning that game. The EVs are designed with Trick Room Bronzong’s in mind, as well as being better equipped to deal with a few physical hits on the whole. I wasn’t completely down with my Smeargle defensive calculations though, something that would ultimately come back to bite me later. The Scarf is arguably an unpopular build choice, in addition to many people who I spoke to suggesting I run a slow Sash variant, but given the Focus Sash was already taken and didn’t feel like making the switch to a Life Orb Weavile instead, I made an executive choice to run it and keep it under my hat.
      The moveset is arguably the best for a Scarf variant, though Crafty Shield is used over Wide Guard which is mostly to cover my teams’ general needs. The rest of the moveset is pretty standard. While I dutifully respect that the use of Smeargle might deter people, I do feel that not taking full advantage of its set of skills during the Swiss rounds probably made my progress more difficult than it otherwise might have been. On the flip-side though, its purpose on the team was to cover me on opposing Smeargle in general, plus I felt it was prudent to not use it as a crutch. For the most part it wasn’t a major loss in the long run.
       
      Trip and Event
      My journey to Dublin started early on Friday with two largely uninteresting coach journeys to one of the hotels nearby at Stansted Airport, which would act as a stop-over point. I met up with Will Tansley (StarKO), Adam Walker (Senran) and Rafik Sadli at the hotel later that evening before getting some sleep before the unspeakably early morning flight to come. We got a short lift to the airport from Matt King (MSK), having a largely smooth passage through security before eventually boarding the flight – not before catching up with Brian Zourdani in the queue to board!
      One flight later, we hit the tarmac on the Emerald Isle, where I finally got to meet Konrad Janik (Gonzo) and Shang Lou for the first time. From the terminal, a short 20 minute bus ride and a small walk through the local university campus later, we arrived at the venue! The hotel that the G-Series event which encompassed all of the general e-Sport games taking place there was very much a high-end establishment, and as such the room it had set aside for the whole event was pretty sizable. I only explored a small chunk of it, in the form of the modestly sized hall we were given. I am under the impression though that the main halls for the bigger and more lucrative games were in easy reach for viewing and considerably bigger though. Cue general check-in, meet up with friends and socialising time before the event kicked off at around 11am! It became apparent that numbers would be down on what previous regional events had seen, but the standard of player that were in attendance was on average much higher. It also attracted a few players from France, Spain and Portugal to attend. As we drew closer to the player meeting, there was a murmur that we may miss hitting 64 Masters, which would have seen the kicker for points go down to the top 32 players. By a small miracle though, we hit the number on the button, meaning we would play six rounds of Swiss with a Top Cut of eight players. I need not tell you the cheer when that got announced was one of unbridled relief and joy!
      My aspirations going into the event were modest enough; I would be happy to get CP although a spot in the top 16 would have been respectable. Anything above that I considered a bonus and beyond reasonable expectations.
       
      Round 1 – Xavier Sabardeil (IchiVGC) - 21st Place (4-2)
          ::  
      Video Code: X96G - WWWW - WW3Q - CCCS
      My first round opponent Xavier was a French player whom I’d not personally met before but given he had made the trip over to Dublin, it’s fair to assume he was a decent player with ambitions on qualifying for Worlds. The match-up was one that had a slight variation away from standard, but not enough to be a major concern. I decided to lead Weavile and Kangaskhan as it gave me a general good opening against his squad, and offered sensible switch potential, while he led Kangaskhan and Kyogre.
      The opening turns were very much a chess game as both of us tried to put ourselves into a favourable position by some tactical switching. Turn 2 arguably proved important as Weavile was able to Knock Off the Power Herb on his Xerneas on the same turn he chose to Geomancy, locking it down. While Groudon failed to hit Xerneas on that turn, the damage done onto the Kyogre slot indicated a bulky Kyogre, most likely not running much Speed investment. This made my turn 3 read much easier, though not without its risks, in using Precipice Blades in order to pick up a double-knockout and leave myself a solid 4-2 position. At this point, my win condition is simply knockout the Kangaskhan on his side as Talonflame would succumb to its own recoil over time. Good game Xavier!
      Win (1-0)
       
      Round 2 – Miguel Marti de la Torre (Sekiam) - 5th Place Overall (6-0 & 1st Place Swiss)
          ::  
      Video Code: W59G - WWWW - WW3Q - CCJ2
      Nothing like being thrown into the fire early on in the Swiss rounds! My next opponent would be none other than Sekiam, a world calibre player and without a doubt was one of the hot favourites to do well in the event. Miguel’s team was an adaptation on the popular ‘Big Six’ archetype that I expected to see and hear a lot of throughout the event, with his change being a Cresselia over the Smeargle. I decided to once again lead with Kangaskhan and Weavile to best cover his leads, with Miguel opting to lead with Xerneas and Salamence.
      It’s safe to say with hindsight I know that the combination of the first two turns set me up for the loss I was soon to incur. My turn 1 play for the most part was reasonable to a degree, but the fact that the Salamence did not Protect meant I had a golden opportunity to potentially KO it that turn by doubling up into it. The Xerneas going for Dazzling Gleam was also sensible, as Weavile causes the biggest issues for his freshly Mega Evolved Salamence. Likewise, the Mega Salamence is arguably the biggest threat to my team, so the following turn I reasoned that it would most likely Protect then… but it didn’t. The huge over-extension on my end, combined with the brazen offensive plays he made meant I never saw his rearguard selections. Needless to say I was kicking myself after, but I took some solace from the fact that I would likely benefit in my resistance figures. Good game Miguel, hopefully we can play again and I can provide a sterner test for you!
      Loss (1-1)
       
      Round 3 – William Redmond
          ::  
      Video Code: 2V4G - WWWW - WW3Q - CCNP
      Going into this round at 1-1, I was somewhat apprehensive as a number of very notable faces were already with a single loss. My feeling of dread soon melted away as I found myself paired with a name I had not heard of. William though was an exceptionally chill guy and going into the team preview, I had to give him credit for bringing the team that he did, but it certainly allayed some of my nerves. Will was carrying just a single restricted Pokémon in Rayquaza, and only one other major offensive threat in Mawile. I lead with Weavile and Kyogre and found, to my surprise, that he led with his two biggest hitters.
      I see no reason not to Fake Out the Rayquaza and Water Spout on the opening turn; at worst the Mawile will Mega Evolve and use Sucker Punch to weaken the damage dealt, but it would still be severely damaged. When he elected to go Mega Rayquaza, I knew that I would have control of the game. From there, removing Rayquaza was the key as whatever he had in the back, which turned out to be Cresselia and Wobbuffet, would simply not be able to cope or cover sufficiently. I asked him why he made the first turn as he did, his response was he wanted to remove my rain. I make the point that his Air Lock was already achieving the same function, just not showcasing its effect in an obvious manner. While it is apparent William was more of a casual player, he still enjoys the game and I have to applaud his choice of team members, it was a nice distraction to the general humdrum of offerings we see. Good game man!
      Win (2-1)
       
      Round 4 – Kelly Mercier-White (KellsterCartier) - 24th Place (3-3)
          ::  
      Video Code: 73RW - WWWW - WW3Q - CCQL
      My round 4 opponent would be the face of Ireland’s VGC hopes neatly packaged in a Canadian spirit, my good friend Kelly. It was a great shame to see him at 2-1, especially as he had also played Sekiam in the previous round. While we have played a number of times outside of events for practice and testing, this would be out first official tournament battle! It is fair to say I was nervous, but playing against friends can either be a fantastic experience, leading to some of the best battles you’ll ever have on the circuit… or they can be emotional train wrecks that should be discarded. Ladies and Gentleman of the jury, I present to you Exhibit A of why my report is called “Some Say he steals the luck of the Irish.”
      Critically before this battle, Kelly already has a very decent advantage as he has prior knowledge of the team thanks to the Arnhem PC and being on the stream there, so he knows what to expect and a few of the small techs I carry, though he specifically does not know anything about the Smeargle. The team preview reveals Kelly is using a fairly standard RayOgre team, with Ferrothorn and Thundurus providing the supporting pieces of a very strong core. Weavile immediately is valuable for a lead to get the fast Fake Out and cover for a lot of what Kelly’s team has to offer, and Kangaskhan beside it means I carry strong offensive pressure from the outset. Kelly elects to lead Kangaskhan and Thundurus.
      Turn 1 plays out ideally for me. Kelly opts to Protect his Thundurus, presumably expecting a Fake Out, while I figure the Kangaskhan poses more of an immediate problem, so I double into him, abusing my faster Fake Out on Weavile and Kangaskhan’s Low Kick to remove it from the equation. The Fake Out from Weavile crits. In general, that critical hit didn’t matter; judging from the damage of Low Kick, I would have secured the knockout regardless. Either way, Kelly is far from amused at the situation. Cue ‘Unamused’ the Kyogre to switch in and I immediately start laughing at the appropriateness of the name. I didn’t consider the Kyogre a bait switch, so when he immediately pulled back out into Ferrothorn, I was slightly apprehensive given I had just used Double-Edge into that slot, with Weavile going for the safe Icicle Crash onto the Thundurus. Thundurus gets an attack off first and paralyses my Kangaskhan. Weavile crits with Icicle Crash, securing the knockout. That mattered. Double-Edge then goes off. Critical on the first hit… critical on the second hit. I make a beeline to try and hide under the table. Yeah… needless to say Kelly was not happy. Four critical hits in two turns is beyond reasonable.
      I’ll let you guys enjoy the rest of the battle, because Kelly, for all the bad luck he was dealt, gamely brought it back and nearly pulled off an amazing win after I badly misplayed. My plays from 4-2 should definitely come with a choking hazard, because I could have locked up the game much cleaner than what transpired. I cannot apologise enough to Kelly; the RNG was the clear winner here, robbing us of a good game but kudos for taking it so amazingly well under the circumstances and still making me sweat in the closing stages.
      Win (3-1)
      We had the luxury of a decently long lunch break, which pretty much everyone took openly by heading across the street to the local Subway for lunch (or at least it felt like it!). I learned that William for his part had got to 4-0, meaning he was one win away from his first Regional cut, and the majority of our group had a neutral record or better. I knew myself I had a probably a very solid shout at earning some championship points, though one more win would be enough to consolidate my position and avoid a bubble situation. However, my prospective opposition would also be in a similar position, with both likely to be very talented players in their own right.
       
      Round 5 – Tom Plater (TheSaxlad) - 4th Place Overall (4-2 & 8th Place Swiss)
          ::  -w
      Video Code: QRFW - WWWW - WW3Q - CCTR
      I was not surprised in the slightest to end up playing someone I knew at this stage. I have had a few previous battles with Tom during the season, including our set up at the Battlemaster Finals and at least one match in a local Premier Challenge down in Whitstable. In pretty much every case I can remember, the battles have been somewhat one-sided and whoever gained an early advantage often went and carried the momentum from there to win. Aside from that though, it was good to see Tom doing so well at this event, so I was interested to see what he had brought to the table. After a glance, it was immediately apparent on what the team was designed to do.
      Tom’s team, who I would later find out was using Barry Anderson's (Baz Anderson) very unique team and core idea for the weekend, was built exclusively around the concept of Gravity and Sleep-inducing moves. Particularly noteworthy was the Hypnosis on the expected Mega Gengar and Grasswhistle on the Whimsicott. In addition, the Groudon would most likely be packing Precipice Blades and the Kyurem-White would carry Blizzard. Perhaps the most obvious comment some of you might be thinking is ‘Why didn’t you bring Smeargle considering it has Crafty Shield?’ The answer to this is frankly at the time, I wasn’t thinking all that clearly and a part of me was hanging onto some pride at not having to bust it out until it was necessary. It most certainly would have been helpful here, we learn from the experience. I decide to lead Kangaskhan and Weavile, the latter being an integral part of my strategy, while Tom elects to lead with Gengar and Sableye.
      Given that Kangaskhan can do nothing to either of his leads, I switch out to Groudon to keep it for his two in the back, assuming Groudon and Kyurem are the most likely to be there. At the same time, Weavile applies as much pressure as possible to his Mega Gengar with Knock Off which pays off by turn 3, although at the loss of Primal Groudon. Tom’s Whimsicott knowing Protect was a surprise, but a highly valuable play that gives him the advantage in the next turn to freely Grasswhistle whatever he wanted. Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, I present Exhibit B. I made a speculative play on the turn he Grasswhistles by opting to attack Groudon with Icicle Crash, playing to flinch to preserve the Sash on Weavile and in so doing burn the automatic turn of sleep on Kangaskhan and stall out his Gravity. Even with this flinch however, the game at this point was still mostly in his favour I feel. Neither of us played the endgame remarkably well; Tom’s lack of consideration to Weavile’s Feint meant he lost Groudon cheaply where he could have swapped in Sableye. On the flip-side, not going for the Icicle Crash onto Whimsicott meant my Kangaskhan was knocked out cheaply as well. At the end of the day however, I am glad that this loss did not cost him a top cut berth, as he sneaked into the knockout phase as the best 4-2 record on his resistance.
      Win (4-1)
       
      Round 6 – Jake Birch (WhiteAfroKing92) - 18th Place (4-2)
          ::  
      Video Code: 2XTW - WWWW - WW3Q - CDWY
      At 4-1, there was a mixture of relief and nervousness in equal measures, knowing I had CP in my pocket, but at the same time, the opportunity to Top Cut was just a single game away. The trainer to stand in my way was another friend of mine in Jake Birch. I’ve played Jake numerous times at events, my first occasion being back in 2014 at UK Nationals. Since then we’ve had some fantastic matches. He’s always been such great fun to be around (especially after a couple of pints), whatever the situation.
      The team he was running was a standard Big Six, with him exclaiming that I would definitely enjoy the matchup at team preview. In many respects I did and didn’t in equal measure with my patchy record against it. I decided to lead with Kangaskhan and Groudon, a semi-standard lead for me in this matchup, while Jake opted to lead with his own Kangaskhan and Smeargle. Immediately I’m concerned about the Smeargle, and I am prepared to risk the Spiky Shield play. Fortunately, he overextends and opted to Dark Void right off the bat, which means that Smeargle goes down for free. I learn next turn that his Kangaskhan is max Speed by virtue of his winning the Speed tie, but I make a blunder by opting to Substitute on my Groudon, where a Fire Punch onto either of his active Pokemon (the Talonflame the better choice here) would put me in a 3-2 advantage and crucially win the weather war. From that position, I’d have free reign to make some sensible switching and set up the Trick Room, rather than end up in an agonising situation of banking on a 15% miss as it eventually transpired. In fairness however, Jake revealed after the game that he had Earth Power but was not confident it would have picked up the knockout on Primal Kyogre. As much as it will hurt, Jake choked and I got given an out I should never have had offered. I don’t think either of us could actually believe what happened on that last turn. Good game Jake, as ever our battles never cease to entertain. All credit to the guy, Jake took the loss gracefully and wished me well in top cut…
      Words I didn’t think I’d hear that weekend. I knew (and I still fully accept) that I had largely sailed through the last three rounds of Swiss on a wave of good fortune and opponents making small but costly errors, but I’ve always been a firm believer that to do well at an event, you need to play decently well and benefit from the factors that fall in your favour.
      Win (5-1)
       
      My first port of call was to find the guys I had traveled with to see how they did. William for his part secured his top cut berth by winning in round 5 against Lee Provost on stream, before losing to Miguel in the final round. He was naturally very happy to have a major breakthrough after a season of near misses. Let me just say, seeing him smile during Swiss is a rare event! Adam went 4-2 after a final round loss to Mark McQuillan. While obviously crestfallen at letting his own top cut aspirations slip, he defied his expectations for the weekend and finished 13th with a team of very unorthodox choices, one place behind Rafik who recovered well from a slow start to also finish 4-2. Matthew King also went 4-2 after beating Kelly in the final round of Swiss. Both ended up in the top 32 of the standings along with Brian who went 3-3.
      When it came around to me saying I was 5-1, most of them were shocked, like I was. None of them ever really expected it, but I think the people who were the most surprised ended up being Matteo and Will. Matteo had been busy on the stream for the final two rounds but was doing running duties shortly after the conclusion of the final round, trying to gather the early kernels of information for the stream. When I told him, I got pulled into the biggest embrace of the weekend; you could tell he was ecstatic for me because he knew how much it meant, and similarly reserved an embrace for Will’s exploits too. With Will, he had seen the nadir of my season from Arnhem and was fully aware how invested I was into the chase. He also knew fully just how painful it was to be just out of reach of your goals and thus could appreciate just how significant it truly was.
      When the standings were announced, I found myself sat in 4th Place. Immediately I looked at 5th and saw that my next opponent would be Lee Provost, Finalist at the Glasgow Regional. I had never played Lee before, but fully appreciated he would prove one of the sternest challenges I could face as a previous top cut World Competitor. In general, the quality of the top cut field was pretty exceptional, to be in such excellent company was pretty satisfying. To raise the stakes a little more, we got word that me and Lee would be playing on the commentated streaming capture card. Suffice to say there was a large groundswell of support to have me on the stream which I later found out after re-watching it!
      We had a sizable wait before we actually got to begin playing, so Lee and I were able to have a decent conversation prior to the battles. I don’t remember much of the context within the chat (I’ve been to sleep since then!), but it was incredible to listen to his thoughts and viewpoints. It also reaffirmed just how tight and supportive the community is regardless of experience and background. Once given the go ahead, we shook hands, said our “Good Luck’s” and got down into the battle.
       
      Top Cut QF – Lee Provost (Osirus) - 7th Place Overall (5-1 & 5th Place Swiss)
           
      Lee’s RayOgre team looked extremely solid. The core included Ferrothorn and Crobat which complimented his restricted legendary Pokemon very well. In addition, Togekiss and Hitmontop added what looked to be some other supportive options that could make the games somewhat difficult to work around. Judging from this team, I could tell that removing Rayquaza from the game for as little impact as possible would prove key for me winning this encounter. I also had to be mindful of his Ferrothorn as another potential win condition if Groudon was removed from play. On my side, Weavile would be very important to my overall chances because of the pressure it puts on Rayquaza, but he also needed to remove Groudon at the earliest convenience. I’m not going to comment too heavily on these games due to the commentary, but I will highlight the key points that might raise a few questions. Also, fair warning for viewers, this entire set comes with a hefty choking hazard from both sides!
      Game 1:
      There are arguably two key turns in this game that I felt gave me the advantage. The first turn, where I removed the Hitmontop without it being able to do anything meant any speculative Wide Guard he could’ve had I would not have to worry about. The other turn where he doubled into Primal Kyogre with his Mega Rayquaza and Ferrothorn while I used Double-Edge with Kangaskhan to take down the Mega Ray meant it opened up the game almost exclusively in my favour. I don’t think his Rayquaza needed to attack Kyogre by any means. That said, I didn’t play the endgame cleverly but his board position at the end was not strong enough to mount a comeback.
      I did get to take some good information from the game, most notably that the Mega Rayquaza is holding the Assault Vest which is really quite cool. Given my previous antics with the Vest, I know that there will be some ridiculous damage calculations, if the damage from my Primal Kyogre’s Ice Beam is any indication.
      Game 2:
      I saw no reason not to lead differently, but I fail to spot the obvious baited switch into Ferrothorn, which left me at a modest disadvantage from the outset. The other main play I made that most may question is my switch into Groudon on the same turn he decided to bring in Rayquaza. Short answer is yes, had I not switched on that turn, I would have been in a potential game-winning position. I was making a very speculative play. I don’t also understand why I made that play so I put it down to a heat-of-the-moment call and a massive choke.
      Game 3:
      Lee for his part makes a very clever adaptation to his lead strategy and opts to bring Crobat to the battle. The early game I was definitely being heavily punished for not making a suitable adaptation from the previous game and I took a great deal of damage on both Primals before I even got a foothold in the match. I made a conscious choice to switch Weavile on the turn I did. While it was valuable for the expected Rayquaza in the back, critically I felt that it posed the least benefit to my position at that point and there was an element of hope that I would get out of the turn with Weavile on 1HP to get off a cheap hit, but it was not to be. My subsequent switch in also left people scratching heads, and possibly this entire game. I was nervous, playing over-aggressive at this point and occasionally making some huge calls, some of which were unnecessary, whilst also benefiting from a couple of Lee’s own errors. The commentary team I think summed up this game pretty well. Somehow, I had clawed my way into an endgame that would have been difficult to lose from (though it was possible). Once again though Lee, thank you for the games and I wish you luck in your hunt for that Day 2 qualification!
       
      Once the game had finished and both me and Lee exchanged some brief words, I celebrated in perhaps the loudest fashion by shouting ‘Come On!’ at the top of my lungs. Such was the relief and joy at winning such a close encounter that my normally very reserved demeanour I keep for events got shattered. The fact it was loud enough for the microphone setup the commentary stream was using to pick it up says something for the volume I shouted at and the brilliant sensitivity of the microphone! One interview later and a brief spell outside to calm down, I was ready to go into the Semis, a re-match against one of my Swiss opponents…
       
      Top Cut SF – Tom Plater (TheSaxlad)
           -w
      Tom for his part had pulled off a major victory over Miguel Marti in the previous round and was in a very buoyant mood for making it this far. These games, like so many where opponents have already played in Swiss, would probably see Game 1 played out in a similar fashion to a Game 2; there’s information that has already been given and both sides would look to adapt to this. For my part, I’m dead set in the knowledge that no matter what happens, I should expect to be put to sleep, so my mindset whilst playing was not to be put off if it happened and probably helped me keep my cool considering there was a place in the final at stake.
      Game 1:  Q5WW - WWWW - WW3Q - CD5J
      That said, my Smeargle has Crafty Shield and I decided to lead Smeargle in the first game. In my generally mentally fatigued state though, I made a very speculative play on my end. In the Swiss rounds, I knew that Sableye had revealed three moves to me, none of which were Taunt. I figured it was possible that it might have been carrying Fake Out or Quash, which is why, against all reasonable judgement, I clicked Dark Void on that opening turn. Fast forward to the end of the turn, and Smeargle is no longer able to battle. Despite being 3-4 down, I was able to safely switch in Kyogre, and secured a double knockout on the following turn as he decided to set up his own Gravity and switched Groudon for Landorus-T. The turning point of this match I feel was when he made by his own accounts a grave error in his target selection the following turn. I managed to break his Focus Sash with Feint on the Weavile, still standing after the massive turn 1 hit, which he then inexplicably Grasswhistled, leaving my Primal Kyogre free to Ice Beam it and remove it from the game. The other bit of good fortune was the marginal survival of my own Primal Groudon after his revealed it had Earth Power on 2HP. In a game with such small margins, its stuff like that which can define a tournament.
      Game 2: XEVW - WWWW - WW3Q - CD8C
      This game, I figure that I want to go in with a team designed to be more aggressive and head on, so Smeargle gets benched. I immediately catch Tom in a poor lead which quickly sees me establish a 4-2 position, once more his Landorus-T being the scapegoat to try and regain some sort of momentum. He makes a couple of sensible plays in this game to stop me from casually breaking down his Whimsicott with my Weavile, but the clincher here comes in the form of a Protect on my Kyogre which blocks what I felt was an obvious Grasswhistle attempt from Whimsicott. In the situation at hand, I feel the decision was a 50/50 gut play for him; my Kyogre obviously holds the key to me being able to win, so to try and incapacitate it long enough for Groudon to attack unimpeded was sound reasoning. In the same logic, Whimsicott is his win condition because the Sash means I need two hits to remove it, allowing him potentially two cracks at putting something to sleep, so Kangaskhan getting in to attack it was the only guaranteed measure I had. This immediately gave me the security to wrap up the contest, though not before his Groudon got a parting salvo of a last minute crit on my Kyogre. Good games again Tom, and congratulations on the finish!
       
      So I made the final. Sure, I had probably stolen all the luck of the Irish to do it, but I had made it there. My match with Tom finished before Will and David Mizrahi’s, despite starting later due to technical issues with the streaming equipment not showing the capture screen on the venue’s TV monitor. I was able to catch the final couple of turns of the other match once they switched over to watch to see Will apparently asserting his dominance in Game 3. If I had been able to see the opening salvos of that match it would have been far from the case! When he finished, I was actually the first person to congratulate him after David. When I let him in on the fact he was playing me, he was literally grinning ear-to-ear at the unbelievable circumstances of the day. We both got a short interview over with Matteo, prior to which saw the creation of a glorious meme face when he found out I was in the final. Hopefully someone will share it, because it’s pure gold. Once that was done, Will and I went back to the top table for one last time…
       
      Top Cut FINAL – William Tansley (StarKO) - (5-1 & 2nd Place Swiss)
           
      Will had a pretty conventional path to the final with two Big Six mirrors from his opponents. It was almost fitting to play him in the finals. Having broken his long-standing issue of bubbling at Regional events, Will had shown comprehensively that once he got to this stage that he would thrive. Given we’re such close friends and talk on a regular basis, we both knew what the other was essentially running so a lot of the information that we would normally try to gather was essentially already committed to memory. The only thing that served as a wildcard was my Smeargle as while he previously knew of it being on the team as an addition post-Arnhem, he was unaware of the setup it ran.
      The match-up itself is under normal circumstances in my favour, but once again my patchy record against such teams and the fact I’m arguably playing one of the best Big Six players in Europe means it is far from clear cut. Trick Room is by far the best answer to his team, so I go into Game 1 with intent on getting the strategy running.
      Game 1:
      I think this was by far the worst game I had played across the weekend. It wasn’t because I was nervous on this occasion; I was pretty much at ease, but because of how poorly I read the game. The first turn was probably the killer play as I tamely try to Fake Out the Smeargle, ending up hitting its Spiky Shield, while Will gets his Mega Kangaskhan to +2 for free. That alone placed enough pressure on me that I would likely be severely damaged by the time it left the field. In addition, his Smeargle seemed to be Detroit-bent on bolstering its Defense to an insane level, which on a team of mostly physical hitters is far from good. From then on I was playing catch-up and made some pretty desperate calls in order to make something happen. The Bronzong Skill Swap play to grab Moody was a desperate roll of the dice, hoping to pick up ideally an Evasion boost or at the very least a Defense boost. But alas, Moody showcased why it can be incredibly useful and cruel in equal measures as, in Trick Room, Bronzong proceeds to get a Speed boost. I couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, the sheer comical timing was on point.
      Game 2:
      I knew I needed to shake my leads up and try to pull my finger out to make a match of this. Smeargle obviously fitted the bill. One of the critical details that made my first turn play here so easy was that I was 99% sure that Will’s Kangaskhan had the Scrappy ability. This meant Weavile’s Fake Out onto it was a safe play in my eyes and knowing my Smeargle had the Scarf, I would be able to Dark Void straight away and provided it connected, set myself into an ideal position. While I was in pretty good control throughout the match, there was an element of relying on the sleep turns. Will knew the score and would have punished me, but even he will concede that he took a dose of his own medicine this game.
      Game 3:
      Once again, this game was decided on the first turn with me crucially overestimating the defensive capabilities of Smeargle which I learnt to my ultimate cost. I still stand by my Pokemon decisions and there were plays that I could have made that might have made the game itself far more interesting. For example, if Smeargle had opted to Fake Out Kangaskhan and Weavile went for Knock Off, the net result would have seen the game go 3v3 into the following turn with options to switch in on my side. There would still have been some unsavory speed ties that would have been a factor in who gained that fateful edge, but VGC16 is full of them. At the end of the day, Will made the better adaptation and was thinking much more clearly than I did, and is a worthy champion. Good games mate, I have no regrets losing to you at all.
       
      The Aftermath
      Following the conclusion of the tournament, we spent around an hour milling about at the venue as various individuals decided their next course of action. Both Will and I were running on pure adrenaline from our results, neither of us really all there, you could probably tell from the post-match interview on the stream. That said, Matteo’s kiss on stream was a real shock, but he kept his promise to the viewers, that's what matters!
      Our initial plan had been to get a sizable group of players together and find a local bar and enjoy a few drinks and grab something to eat at the same time, but it quickly became apparent that this wasn’t going to be entirely feasible. In the end, a group of nine of us decided to indulge in a small pizzeria restaurant only a few streets away from the venue. Though we had a short wait for a table, the food was certainly worth it. Amongst the group were those that I had travelled with from Stansted and had met in Dublin’s arrivals area, Suzie Masters who had been assisting the running of the event and the two French players, including my first round opponent Xavier, who had struck up a rapport with Rafik at the venue. We also had Kelly, Matteo and a few others join us shortly before we left, bolstering numbers. While not long after the group fragmented, the core group caught the bus back to the airport and after getting a more comfortable night sleep than anticipated, we were soon on our way back into Stansted Airport.
      The result itself has been a massive turning point in my season, so much so that qualifying for Worlds, even on the Day 1 invite, is now very much within reach. Prior to Dublin, I sat on 105CP all earned through Premier Challenges (Including the Arnhem result which I was not aware had got elevated status despite falling short on numbers). I felt that unless I made something of this event, I would have curtailed my silly season and would most likely only have attended UK Nationals. As it now stands, I'm keen to secure the remaining points I need, preferably before the National events so I can go there relaxed and aim to savor the weekend.
       
      Metagame Ramblings
      I suppose this tournament has largely helped me find some redeeming qualities about the format. The natural balance between the three favored archetypes that teams have clustered around form an interesting triangle, but there is some interest in the overall significance of a major omission in this balance in the form of Yveltal. This is despite accumulating Regional victories on the continent, it is only now starting to come to the foreground. This is something of a developing storm approaching as Yveltal has the potential to break the non-Big Six teams. The question is can a team be formed around it that can provide it a stable match-up against the Xerneas and Groudon teams that populate the ladders?
      I do think the metagame has not fully developed now after speaking to more players and experiencing the larger tournaments, which have pulled out a great deal of interesting ideas, so going forward into the final stretch of Regional events and the Nationals will I think showcase new combinations that are less explored gaining traction. That’s not to say the establishment teams will completely be broken apart though. It’s more a case of how the new ideas marry up with the current state of affairs. Tom's use of Gravinosis, which was the brainchild of Barry Anderson, is a welcome reminder that there are strategic options that can readily take advantage of under-explored and under-appreciated ideas.
      One thing that still does give me some consternation is Smeargle. I used Smeargle more as a versatile sixth Pokemon which covered a notable hole in my team whilst also adding a further facets to it that aid in giving me more flexibility. Part of my reason for not using it earlier in the season could be put down to stubborn pride on not wanting to resort to it, which probably says as much about my character in not wanting to upset the apple cart as it does in showing a weakness in my armory as a player. I feel it’s now something I’m openly addressing by using it. I still do feel strongly about Smeargle’s very massive effect on games and have given support to some form of ban on either Dark Void, Moody, or the combination of the two. It adds such a huge luck factor into proceedings above and beyond what we currently have and can turn finely poised matches quickly into one players’ favour. It’s now becoming increasingly apparent that any action that the player-base may have hoped would come is unlikely to be anytime soon, so players will need to actively cater to having a way to neuter it. I still hope some action will be taken, but even I have accepted that it’s likely not going to come anytime soon.
       
      What I took away from the weekend:
      ·         Closing out games is an area of the game I need to work on. Far too often during key battles, I was not closing out solid win conditions on a number of occasions. This led to some close shave victories and a few damning losses. I am hoping that more practice will tighten this area up once again. ·         Even the best players can make mistakes. I think a lot of people, especially when they are starting out, carry the mentality that the best players are such because they make so few errors there is no opening for them to exploit. My weekend showed me, admittedly in an extreme fashion, that even the best players can make questionable calls and that no individual is exempt from pressures to do well. ·         Know when to pull the trigger between a safe play and a read. My match against Miguel Marti was probably the biggest reminder to why you should not try and overcompensate just because of what you expect. Making a read needs to be balanced by how much you will concede if you call incorrectly.  
      Closing Remarks
      First off, there are a few people I want to say thank you to:
      ·         Ian Walsh and Suzie Masters for the organisation and running Ireland’s biggest ever Pokemon event in such a smooth fashion. I think everyone was more than happy with how the day panned out on the tournament front and we shall doubtless look forward to returning next year hopefully! ·         Duncan McLeod, Matteo Dorrell (MattDorell) and Rina Purdy (SqishyRina) for helping to organise, run and successfully host the live stream for this event. I know A LOT of effort and sacrifices went into getting this running over the weekend, far beyond the normal call of duty. You can see the unedited footage of the stream on Duncan’s twitch channel in addition to Matteo’s YouTube videos dedicated solely to the battle segments and post-match interviews. ·         Ricardo Pinto (RpIndaHouse) once again for being my rock of VGC16 on the teams. Seriously, you’ve been so gracious at throwing teams my way to test and just generally being there to discuss matters. I know I didn't play anywhere near ideal and you made it clear when I was on stream, but hopefully the result at the end of it makes up for it! ·         To the guys in our dedicated VGC chat forum #TeamSlackVGC. There are simply too many to name and everyone in that chat has been as much a part of the madness of it all, but I do want to mention Matthew King (MSK), Adam Walker (Senran), Kelly Mercier-White (KellsterCartier), Brian Zourdani, Rafik Sadli and of course William Tansley (StarKO) who made the trip to compete. I think it’s safe to say we had a good weekend! ·         To all of my opponents who I played, thanks once again for the games (and sorry in a few cases!) I hope to have the opportunity to battle you guys again in the not-too-distant future. ·         And finally to everyone who has read this report or was watching the stream on the day. I know so many of you had been showing your support for me and constantly asking of my progress and numerous other players while the stream was live. I cannot stress how much it meant to see all the supportive messages I got, the community is awesome in that regard. Thank you all!
    • Nugget Bridge Major 5 Round 1 is Here
      By makiri in makiri's blog 34
      Welcome to Round 1 of the 5th Nugget Bridge Major. I first want to extend a big thanks to everyone who joined the tournament, we can't have big tournaments like this without the players. I wish everyone good luck and hopefully we have a smooth tournament. With that I'm looking forward to hosting this tournament and crowning this year's Nugget Bridge Major Champion. 
      Lets take a look at the prizes available for this tournament:
      1st place: $832 + 130 NP 2nd place: $362.80 + 120 NP  3rd/4th place: $138.84 + 110 NP  5th-8th place: $56.92 + 100 NP  9th-16th place: $7.98 + 70 NP  17th-32nd place: 40 NP 33rd-64th place: 20 NP 65th-128th place: 10 NP (All values in USD)
      This is the biggest prized tournament on Nugget Bridge ever with a total of over $1,750, eclipsing the previous record by over $750. Quick reminder that 100 NP are necessary for an invite to the Nugget Bridge Invitational.
      We have 304 players which equal 9 rounds of Swiss play and a 32 player top cut. Approximately 5 6-3 players will make top cut, so you aren't officially out of it until you lose 4 games. Top 128 will get NP, BUT you have to finish the tournament to obtain the points.
      We have players from 28 different countries, this is truly an international event. The list of countries represented:
      Spoiler Australia
      Austria
      Brazil
      Canada
      Chile
      Colombia
      Costa Rica
      Denmark 
      Ecuador
      Finland
      France
      Germany
      Ireland
      Italy
      Japan
      Mexico
      Netherlands
      Peru
      Philippines
      Poland
      Portugal
      Singapore
      Spain
      Sweden
      Switzerland
      Thailand
      United Kingdom
      United States

      Communication:
      One of the most important parts of the Nugget Bridge Major is communication. Communicate with your opponent by contacting them here on Nugget Bridge using our private messaging system. Your opponent's username should be relatively close to the one listed in the Battlefy bracket. Try to reply to your opponent as promptly and courteously as possible, and try to include important information such as time zone, best time for you to play, and your friend code. Failure to communicate with your opponent can result in an activity loss. You will have about 1 week to complete your best of 3 match so while battles do not need to be done immediately, do keep in mind that there is a deadline to each round. This leads into my next point.
      Not every match will be completed. Sometimes people forget they joined the tournament. Sometimes they no longer wish to play. Sometimes you guys just can't find a suitable time to battle. This is where the Nugget Bridge private message system comes in handy. In case of any dispute or if a battle didn't get completed, you can add makiri to your private message with the following steps:
      Step 1:

      Click the invite a member button.
      Step 2:

      Type in a name, for this tournament use makiri. Then click invite.
      Step 3:

      All done! The tournament host will now be aware of any issues with your battle. Don't always expect an immediate response though. PLEASE do not include me until a problem arises or the last 24 hours in the case of an activity decision. I am the only one who should be included. 
      Score Reporting:
      While we will be using Battlefy for the Bracket, score reporting will take place in each new round thread. EACH PLAYER NEEDS TO REPORT THE SCORE. Win or lose, you need to make an indication of the result in each round thread, this is important for confirmation of records.
      To report a score use the match number, both player names, and the game score. An example score report:
      The thread for the current round is where you should report your score. For round 1 use this link.
      Tournament rules:
      The ruleset will be the Standard VGC 16 Format. The tournament will follow the Swiss structure and leads to a final single elimination top cut to determine the champion. This means you play every round whether you win or you lose. The top 32 players or all players with 2 or fewer losses (whichever is the larger number) will make it to the top cut single elimination stage. Games will be played in a best of 3 set and the winner of 2 games will be declared the winner of the match. Report the proper score because your tiebreakers are affected. The only results should be 2-0 or 2-1. You may not change teams during that best of 3, but you can change teams between rounds. Games must be played on Nintendo 3DS systems using Pokémon Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire. In certain circumstances Pokémon Showdown may be used, but it needs to be cleared with makiri, the tournament host. This is not a live tournament. Matches will play out over the course of the week. As mentioned it is Swiss, just because you lose it does not mean you are done, play the tournament out! The games will be played with Normal rules on the battle option. This means players needs to be on the look out for players bringing more than 4 Pokémon, bringing banned Pokémon, or breaking item clause. Repeatedly going to activity will result in losses or even disqualification. Match dodgers will not be tolerated. Even if time zones are difficult there will be 7 days for each round to complete. Please record a video while playing your match (using a phone or camcorder or something similar) to help in case of disputes. We also recommend saving all battle videos. Cheating will not be tolerated and any cheater caught will be heavily punished. This is a paid event and any sign of cheating will be fully investigated. If you come across cheating, notify the organizer as soon as possible and present all your evidence possible. Failure to follow these rules will result in a game loss, match loss or even a tournament disqualification.
      Highlight matches:
      Wolfey vs Cybertron
      Two of the biggest names in VGC ever who worked together for their back to back National Championships find themselves facing off in round 1. I don't think any match in this tournament can actually eclipse this, what could've been predicted as a final is happening right now.
      ryuzaki vs DaFlo
      Both are great players with some sustained success, both also seem to be frequently on the other end of hax so who knows what will happen here.
      Bucket vs hammer
      Battle of the inanimate objects. Which is better, a bucket or a hammer? We will find out!
      13Yoshi37 vs Gengarboi
      Both have been long time players though Gengarboi has seen most of his success in recent years, neither player is a pushover. Expect a great series from these two.
      [Unreality] Unreality vs [BigBidnessGaming] TFC
      A player who sponsored multiple players versus a player who has been sponsored by multiple sponsors. 
      If you are a highlighted match please forward battle videos to Eiganjo, we would love to get them on YouTube after the tournament.
      Deadline for this round is Monday, March 21, 2016 at 9:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. 
      And finally the bracket. Please use the forum thread for round 1 to report your scores.

    • Is this the guy who won Anaheim Regionals? No, this is Patrick... and James! Anaheim 2016 2nd place and top 16 report!
      By SalaMenace in SalaMenace's Blog 20
      Intro: Hello everyone this will be a dual written article by Patrick Smith (SalaMenace) and James Eakes (Eakes) on our 2016 Anaheim Regionals performances, placing 2nd and 16th respectively. But first we want to give a little introduction. Thank you for reading, and we look forward to showing you our team we worked hard on.
       
      Patrick: Hello everyone, I’m Patrick Smith, aka SalaMenace. I’ve been into competitive Pokémon since D/P, but I first got into VGC around February of last year, when I started watching Aaron Zheng’s videos on YouTube. Who would have thought that a year later I’d be playing against him in the finals of Anaheim Regionals? I also managed to win my first regional, Arizona, back in the 2015 format. But of course, this report will focus on the team I used to get second place at Anaheim.
       
      James: Hey everybody my name is James Eakes, I go by Eakes on the forums here. I’ve been playing VGC since the beginning of 2014 but have competitively battled ever since Diamond and Pearl came out. This season I have had many consistent results such as top 16s at Arizona 2015 and Anaheim 2016, but have yet to have a break out top cut performance. My consistent results have netted me my worlds invite for this year and for that I am grateful, but I still look forward to showing people what I can do and prove I can breach the top 8 barrier. I really look forward to this article; Patrick and I put a lot of work into it and had a great time making it!
       
      Teambuilding: Patrick was inspired to use a Kyurem-W, Groudon, Meowstic core after seeing it have good results on the Pokémon Showdown ladder.  While we do not know exactly who to credit for the creation of this core, we would like to make a shout out to a player by the name of “Silk” for being our main inspiration.
       
      James was having trouble adapting to the new format and never found a team he was comfortable with, so Patrick shared the Gravity team he was working on and James felt it was love at first sight. Patrick’s first iteration of the team looked like this, “Groudon, Kyurem-W, Meowstic, Kangaskhan, Sableye, Gengar”. The whole week before regionals we toyed around and optimized the team as much as we possibly could. We realized that we brought the core of Groudon, Kyurem-W, Meowstic, and Kangaskhan to practically every single game, and when we brought Sableye or Gengar we almost always lost (lol). So we decided to start toying around with the final two slots. We messed around with a few Pokémon like Ferrothorn, Sylveon, Ludicolo, and Whimsicott. All had mixed results, we needed something that could do damage under trick room, while still being able to support Groudon’s sweeping potential. We wanted something that could support the team while doing damage and we settled on Machamp, we will speak more in detail about him below. With the 6th slot still up in the air, what better Pokémon to spread happiness with than the one and only Smeargle.
       
      The Team:

       
      Teambuilding Pokémon Details:
       

      Meowstic @ Mental Herb  
      Ability: Prankster  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 100 SpD  
      Calm Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Trick Room  
      - Gravity  
      - Safeguard  
      - Swagger
       
      We’ll start with Meowstic as it enabled the entire team’s strategy. It was the bread and butter if you will. For the team to work we needed at the bare minimum Gravity or Trick Room, and we felt the priority Gravity from Meowstic had amazing synergy with Kyurem-W. The most important part of making sure Meowstic does its job is protecting it, and Meowstic was very well protected by Kangaskhan and Kyurem-W. Meowstic was the sole user of both Trick Room and Gravity, so he had to be brought in every single game. While Trick Room and Gravity were necessary for the team, Safeguard was chosen to not only render opposing Smeargle useless, but also to allow us to Swagger our own Pokémon for many surprise KO’s. Swagger also works out of Safeguard to disrupt the enemy and hopefully cause them to tilt. Mental Herb was an amazing item to have on Meowstic, it helped Meowstic function to the fullest. Against opposing Thundurus we could go for Trick Room turn one even after being taunted, and then Gravity or Safeguard the next turn because Meowstic would be faster than Thundurus under Trick Room.
       
      Defensive Calcs:
      252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 156 Def Meowstic: 155-186 (85.6 – 102.7%) – 6.6 chance to OHKO
      Surviving Kangaskhan Double-Edge was paramount to this team’s success. This ensured that Meowstic was very rarely killed on the first turn before it was able to get the team rolling.
      252 SpA Primal Groudon Eruption (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 100+ SpD Meowstic in Harsh Sunshine: 153-181 (84.5 - 100%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
      76+ SpA Primal Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 100+ SpD Meowstic in Heavy Rain: 175-207 (96.6 - 114.3%) -- 81.3% chance to OHKO
      252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 156 Def Meowstic: 135-160 (74.5 - 88.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       
      76 Special Attack modest water spout is only one point less than timid 252 so we thought this was a good benchmark to hit. While this doesn’t look like an impressive calc, Kyogre was almost never going to get a full health attack on Meowstic due to Kangaskhan’s Fake out/inner focus, and Kyurem’s fast blizzard. A minimum damage blizzard roll from our Kyurem-W on Kyogre would give Kyogre only a 31% chance to OHKO Meowstic. As we needed much physical bulk, we were safe going with these calculations.
       
       
      Kyurem-White @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Turboblaze  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 148 Spe  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Blizzard  
      - Draco Meteor  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Fusion Flare
       
      Kyurem-W was another uncommon pick that fit the role on this team perfectly. Also with the surge of Crobat/Gengar RayOgre teams Kyurem-W’s potentially could truly be unlocked. Kyurem-W’s job was to either chip things hard enough for Groudon to come in and sweep, or sweep the opposing team itself if they were unprepared. Kyurem was an amazing lead as it immediately put on pressure forcing the enemy to either focus it or feel Kyurem’s frosty wrath. If they chose to focus Kyurem-W, this would allow Meowstic to put Groudon in a winning position. The EV’s were quite simple, the speed was enough to out speed positive nature Crobat, and the rest was for maximum damage and bulk respectively. As for the moves, we very rarely used anything but Blizzard, but having the option to avoid Wide Guard with Ice Beam was great. Draco Meteor was fine but not used very often. While we used Fusion Flare for the final slot, we never used it in practice or in the tournament. Using Fusion Flare would always put us in a horrible position, even if we scored a knockout with it. We recommend using Earth Power as a final slot, but you most likely won’t find yourself using anything besides Blizzard and Ice Beam.
       
      Damage Calcs:
      252+ SpA Turboblaze Kyurem-W Blizzard vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 188-224 (103.8 - 123.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ SpA Turboblaze Kyurem-W Blizzard vs 252 HP / 4 SpD Crobat: 222-264 (115.6 – 137.5%) – guaranteed OHKO
      252+ SpA Turboblaze Kyurem-W Blizzard vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Primal Groudon: 103-123 (49.7 - 59.4%) -- 99.6% chance to 2HKO
      As you can see Kyurem-W’s power was nothing to laugh about. Taking off 50%+ to Groudon meant it could never hit Kyurem-W back with a strong eruption and would just be 2HKO’d.
       

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 49  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD  
      Brave Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Substitute  
      - Protect  
       
      Groudon was the main focus of this team, providing almost all of the team damage by itself. Without Meowstic, Groudon is not able to function to the fullest so they were great teammates. We will go into more detail near the end but Swaggering our own Groudon under Safeguard resulted in many surprise KOs. We would also like to give a shoutout to Michael Groshans (Mikewando) a.k.a. Mike Groshaus, for his idea to run level 49 Groudon. We loved it and do not regret using it in the slightest. In the finals of Anaheim regionals Patrick received some flack on twitter for his Groudon being level 49 and barely missing a KO onto Aaron’s Kyogre. I can assure you that without level 49 Groudon we would not have achieved these results. Level 49 Groudon was amazing and picked up many crucial KOs even with the slight drop in attack. With all the minimum speed primals going around, this assured we would always under speed and this was paramount to the team success. In practice on Pokémon Showdown we would under speed opposing Groudons or Kyogres under trick room and be met with a prompt “F****** Speed Ties” in the chat. Every time we read this we would have a good laugh and move on to our next victim.
      Fire Punch and Precipice Blades were very reliable forms of STAB. Precipice Blades under Gravity is absolutely devastating as no one is safe, and it alleviates the need for a Rock type move. Popular Flying types like Talonflame, Crobat, Thundurus, and even Ho-oh are all hit super-effectively. Fire Punch was a great way of dealing huge damage and playing around Wide Guard. Substitute was our 3rd move of choice, and it was a great move to punish double protects on the final turn of Trick Room. We were also able to get up substitutes when our Smeargle came in as Dark Void is unavoidable under Gravity.
       
      Damage Calcs:
      +2 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Salamence: 160-190 (93.5 - 111.1%) -- 68.8% chance to OHKO
      +2 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 44 Def Primal Kyogre: 207-244 (100 - 117.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      +2 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 201-237 (111 - 130.9%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      +2 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Pikachu: 800-944 (720.7 - 850.4%) -- guaranteed OHKO
       
      As you can see Swagger enhanced Groudon’s damage absurdly. While these calcs are at +2 from Swagger, Groudon had the ability to 2hko almost everything in the game at neutral attack. If Meowstic were not on the field to swagger, Smeargle/Kangaskhan would also be either chipping damage off the opposing Pokémon or stopping them in their tracks making Groudon safe to attack for many turns.
       

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite  
      Ability: Inner Focus  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Fake Out  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Low Kick  
      - Sucker Punch  
       
      Kangaskhan was the perfect Mega for our team. Threats to Meowstic, such as opposing Fake Outs or Taunts, were almost always met with a Kangaskhan Fake Out of our own. Kang also assured that Smeargle/Xerneas leads were almost rendered useless as we would just non-Mega Fake Out the Xerneas in case of a Choice Scarf Smeargle Fake Out, and Safeguard. After Safeguard is put up Swagger’d Kangaskhan becomes a huge threat and allows time for Meowstic to set up for Groudon. In games where Kyurem-W was led, having Kangaskhan in the back was also very helpful as a late game Fake Out can swing the tides for us. Having Kangaskhan in the back helped us function after Trick Room ended as well. The EV spread and moves are completely standard, no need for any damage calcs here.
       

      Smeargle @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Own Tempo  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD  
      Relaxed Nature  
      IVs: 16 Spe  
      - Fake Out (James) / Tailwind (Patrick)
      - Transform  
      - Dark Void  
      - Wide Guard  
       
      Smeargle was the only Pokémon we used a different set on. Tailwind worked well as a final turn of Trick Room punish, as most player would feel safe going for a Protect on both of their Pokémon. Opponents met with a Substitute Tailwind on the final turn of Trick Room usually didn’t stand a chance. Fake Out provided immediate pressure as the turn Smeargle comes in, it can affect the battle even if not under Trick Room. Both options work well, and it comes down to player preference; we both see the merit in each option. As you may notice our Smeargle did not run Spiky Shield. This was due to Smeargle almost always coming in under trick room and immediately using either Fake Out or Dark Void and then Transform. Smeargle was usually next to Groudon and enemies would focus their resources on Groudon not Smeargle, leaving Smeargle relatively safe. After Dark Void, Transform was the most crucial move on the set. Not only did it allow us to have two Primal Groudons terrorizing the field, but it acted as a pseudo Skill Swap vs Kyogres. Against a late game Kyogre coming in getting rid of the Sun, we could Transform into our own Groudon putting Sun back up and leaving Kyogre helpless. Transforming into enemy Pokémon was also very effective. For example against a mega Salamence we would Transform into them, and not worry about a Draco Meteor speed tie loss as we had Focus Sash. Transform also goes through Protect, yet again punishing enemy Protects under Trick Room. Wide Guard while not used often in the tournament proved to be a very effective move in protecting Groudon. We believe it was a better option to have than Follow Me; it kept Smeargle’s sash intact against spread moves, while also protecting Groudon. The 16 speed IV’s were important, as under Tailwind it would allow us to out speed max speed Primals, while still under speeding minimum speed Cresselia in Trick Room. Also max HP investment is used to get the most out of our Transformations. (Editor’s note: Transform copies all of the target’s stats except for HP; it’s the only way to have a Shedinja with more than 1 HP!)
       
      Damage Calcs:
      252+ Atk Mega Mewtwo X Focus Punch vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Focus Sash Smeargle: 161-161 (99.9 - 99.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       

      Machamp @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: No Guard  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD  
      Brave Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Dynamic Punch  
      - Ice Punch  
      - Wide Guard  
      - Quick Guard  
       
      Machamp was brought in to be the Guardian of Groudon even though it has No Guard 8^). Machamp also did significant damage, and Dynamic Punch-induced Confusion is always a bonus. While Machamp was not used at all by James and only once by Patrick in Anaheim, we don’t regret running it. We were comfortable with it in practice, and it did its job nicely. Protecting Groudon from spread moves and late game Fake Outs made every turn count. Also having Lum Berry meant we did not have to have Safeguard up for Swagger to make some big damage plays. Quick Guard and Wide Guard were used to support the team, and Dynamic Punch/Ice Punch were used for coverage and damage, pretty straightforward. Although Ice Punch was rarely used even in practice. We started with encore to punish even more Protects under Trick Room, but Machamp usually came in on the last turn of Trick Room, rendering the Encore useless. The EV spread was short and simple; it did dat damage, and took dem hits.
      Damage calcs:
      +2 252+ Atk Machamp Dynamic Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Primal Kyogre: 205-243 (116.4 - 138%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ Atk Machamp Dynamic Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 188-224 (103.8 - 123.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Wide Guard Machamp in Heavy Rain: 0-0 (0 - 0%) -- guaranteed NOKO
      252+ Atk Choice Band Talonflame Brave Bird vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Quick Guard Machamp: 0-0 (0 - 0%) -- guaranteed NOKO
       
      Basic Team Strategy:
       
      Leads:
      +      or      +
      In Pokémon selection we first identify if we will be leading Kyurem-W/Meowstic, or Kangaskhan/Meowstic. These are our leads almost every game. Kyurem-W gets led against teams where it could bust holes, preparing for Groudon to sweep. Sometimes it would even sweep the entire game without Groudon’s help. Kyurem-W with Meowstic would usually start with a Gravity and Blizzard ensuring Kyurem does big damage. If we suspect Kyurem-W will be knocked out immediately, such as if the opponent leads Ferrothorn, we stay calm and go for Blizzard and Trick Room. Even if Kyurem fainted and missed Blizzard on both targets, we get a free Trick Room, allowing Groudon to clean up from there.
      Kangaskhan was brought against heavy disruptors such as Weavile, Thundurus, Liepard, or opposing Kangaskhan. Kangaskhan was also our main answer to Smeargle and Xerneas, as described in her section. With Inner Focus Kangaskhan was able to buy time for Meowstic to do his thing. Also, by choosing not to Mega evolve, and going for Trick Room Kangaskhan could move before threats the next turn, as the Speed boost from its Mega wouldn’t yet be in effect. Just as with Kyurem-W, if Kangaskhan were to be OHKO’d on the first turn, we did not fret... it just prepared Groudon to win.
       
      Mid-Late Game:
      After Kyurem-W or Kangaskhan goes down, Groudon is free to pump out damage. With Meowstic next to Groudon, he could proceed to Gravity, Safeguard, and Swagger depending on the situation. In a scenario where both Meowstic and its partner are knocked out. Smeargle and Groudon under Trick Room usually had enough power to finish the game. Punishing Protects with Substitute, using Dark Void to put both opponents to Sleep, or using Transform to make the board more threatening. Kangaskhan Groudon also applied much needed pressure with the option to Fake Out Substitute. If the enemy could somehow survive Groudons offensive pressure hammering down on them until TR ended, Kangaskhan was there to finish the job.
      Main Threats:
      This team didn’t have a huge amount of threats. After optimizing the team we found that our losses were mostly on account of our own misplays. While the team isn’t perfect; it was very solid. That’s not to say it has no weaknesses. Its weaknesses are mostly things that could OHKO turn 1 Meowstic.

      Weavile: Weavile is a huge threat to our team for two simple reasons. First, it has a faster Fake Out than Kangaskhan, which means that Meowstic may not be able to move on the first turn. Second, it can OHKO Meowstic with a Knock Off. Weavile’s speed is hard to deal with as it stops Meowstic from performing its basic functions. Weavile usually forces us to switch out Meowstic before its job is done and save it for late-game. Or it causes us to target Weavile with a Kangaskhan Low Kick on the first turn. But that’s a risky play because we would have to Mega evolve our Kangaskhan to ensure we get the knock out through Focus Sash, and this leaves Kangaskhan open to being targeted by Weavile’s Fake Out. Additionally, if Kangaskhan doesn’t go for Fake Out on turn one, it leaves Meowstic vulnerable being OHKO’d by Knock Off right off the bat. Sometimes to remedy our glaring Weavile weakness, we actually lead Kangaskhan with Kyurem-W. This immediately applies fast offensive pressure from two sources, leaving Weavile overwhelmed.

      Scizor: Scizor while not as threatening as Weavile, is a threat because Kangaskhan is not able to OHKO it, and Scizor threatens to OHKO Meowstic with Bug Bite. Unlike Weavile though, Groudon switching in for Meowstic against Scizor usually put us in a good position. Even without Gravity or Trick Room in effect, Groudon threatens Scizor without being threatened in kind, and this usually prompts our opponent to switch.

      Kyogre: While speedy Kyogres aren’t a problem for the team, extremely bulky Kyogres have a chance to live +2 Precipice blades. Which can result in Groudon and its partner fainting to an Origin Pulse. Smeargle and Machamp are here to help though, as Wide Guard and Dark Void are able to defend Groudon. Transform from Smeargle also puts the sun back up swaying the tide back in our favor.
      Level 48 Groudon: lol
       
      James Swiss Analysis:
      I am always extremely nervous going into round 1 knowing that it can dictate the entire day and your resistance will falter greatly with a round 1 loss. Also I am not very good at playing vs inexperienced players as funny as that sounds. I very commonly go for plays based off what I anticipate my opponent will do, and sometimes they act erratically which throws off my prediction game. Long story short, people who never protect scare me.
      I have listed the Pokémon in order of appearance, the first two names were the leads for both players, and the second 2 were brought in the back.
       
      R1 vs. Nicole Stockel Nikkielovespokemon (4-4)
      I brought:
      They brought: ( , )
      Nicole is also from Nor Cal and has been a friend of mine for many years! While it sucks we had to play vs each other especially in round 1, I was a bit relieved to know my opponent was a competent player. She had a very Ice weak team so I led Kyurem-W and Meowstic. She led with Crobat Rayquaza and I couldn’t have been happier. I go for the standard Gravity Blizzard play killing Crobat and freezing Rayquaza while bringing it to its sash. While the freeze was unfortunate I do not think it changed to outcome of the game very much as she said she was going for Dragon Ascent on Meowstic. Without a Life Orb or Mega Evolution Rayquaza’s attack would not have come close to killing Meowstic. After playing the game pretty methodically and after not mega’ing my Kangaskhan on accident almost throwing the game (Round 1 jitters lol) I ended up winning. I wished Nicole good luck and felt great going into R2 as the dreaded R1 was conquered.
      1-0
       
      R2 vs. Kristofer Tumangan (4-4)
      I brought:
      They brought: (, )
      Kristofer seemed very familiar and after talking with him for a bit I learned he was from the Nor Cal area! Only he hadn’t been coming to many events lately. Even with the threat of Mienshao Fake out/Wide Guard, I knew that leading Kyurem would buy time for Meowstic to set up. I remember going for Ice Beam on Yveltal turn 1 to avoid a potential Wide Guard and to also try to pick up the OHKO as Blizzard unreliably 1HKO’s Yveltal. I get a Critical hit and it lives in the yellow, alerting me to an Assault Vest. I do not remember if Mienshao Fake Outed Meowstic or just killed Kyurem-W, but all I know is Trick Room was set up and Groudon was coming in next to Meowstic. I remember this game ended smoothly as I played safe and around Wide Guard as much as I could until Mienshao was KO’d but turns out he never had Wide Guard to begin with. Either way it was a fun match and I wished Kristofer luck and told him I hope to see him at more Nor Cal events!
      2-0
       
      R3 vs. Jonathon Mendoza (3-4)
      I Brought:
      They Brought: ( , )
      My first and only opponent of the whole regional I didn’t know prior to. He was a nice yet quiet guy focused on winning, I knew that feeling and we just got to battling. Turn 1 could not have gone any better, its reads like this that make you think “feelsgoodman”. Xerneas protects while Talonflame Tailwinds, I mega evolve Double Edge Talonflame and Trick Room. Honestly the game was over right after this point. I let Kangaskhan die as I switch in Groudon with both TR and GV up. Groudon cleaned things up very nicely with its high damage output. Xerneas actually lived a +2 Precipice blades at what had to be sub 5 hp. It was the last turn of TR so I attack with Groudon and switch to Smeargle to cover the protect option and the attack option. He ended up protecting allowing me to end the game with a very hype Smeargle Fake Out KO. I wished my opponent good luck and went to chill with the peeps.
      3-0
       
      R4 vs William Hall Biosci (5-3)
      I Brought:   ??
      They Brought: ( ,)
      Next round I was facing off vs SoCal’s 2nd place finisher two years running. Me and William first met at Arizona regionals earlier this season and have been friends since, he is a very nice guy and while I was nervous to play him, I knew I would have to play good players to obtain results and this was but a test. After seeing Crobat Gengar meet my Kyurem-W Meowstic and thinking he had his two restricted mons in the back I knew it would be a slaughter. Gravity Blizzard KO’d Crobat and brought Gengar down to low red as it went for a Sub, failing. Turn 2 I don’t want TR up quite yet so I safeguard and knock out Gengar as Groudon protects. Next turn I fire off a Huge Blizzard and Groudon comes in to clean up. William was very upset after the loss and I assured him he could still place high as I knew how strong of a player he was. Entering lunch break 4-0 felt very good man.
      4-0
       
      R5 vs Emilio Forbes Emforbes (6-2)
      I Brought:
      They Brought ??, ?? ( , , ,)
      Another Nor Cal player! As you can see by the question marks you can guess that I was Karma slaughtered by Emilio. This was a lead me and Patrick had faced MANY times and I was punished for not going for the safe play. The only Move capable of OHKO’ing Meowstic on the field is Flare Blitz from Talonflame, but I questionably predicted a quick guard and went for the Double Edge into Groudon to weaken Eruption. This was a huge mistake as I feel if I played safe and just Fake Out’d Talonflame (Even if met with an Eruption after) I would be in the winning position. Meowstic was knocked out and Kang ate a single target precipice blades, assuring me that if I went with Fake out TR I would have been in an amazing position as Groudon/Smeargle can sweep through big 6 all by itself. I was very disappointed in myself after this match and could not shake the tilt off in time for my next round.
      4-1
       
      R6 vs Riley Factura GengarBoi (6-2)
      I Brought:
      They Brought: ?? , ?? ( , , , )
      Another good friend of mine! While I have played Riley many times in the past I do not have a positive record vs him. I honestly respect Riley as one of the best players in the country, there are very few players I believe make the most optimal play every single turn and Riley is one of those players. Riley’s leads put him in a good position vs me but by no means was I out of the game. I was very scared of him doubling into Meowstic turn after turn so I tried switching around which isn’t how I usually play the team at all I was punished greatly for it. I believe if I just stuck to the game plan and set Meowstic up as normal I could have won this game, but I was over predicting way too much and ended up forfeiting a few turns in as I had run out of steam.
      Destroying the tilt: While I find myself to be a very level headed player, after these two consecutive losses I had a lot on my mind and couldn’t shake the feeling of failure. I decided to sulk over to the bathroom to relieve myself and wash my hands. As amazingly cliché as this seems when I went to wash my hands I was met with a mopey scrubs face in the mirror. That’s when I had a revelation “Why are you acting like this? Your dream is to get a world’s invite and Top 16 will get you that. Why would you travel all the way here to give up when it’s not over? Your resistance is most definitely strong enough to secure a top 16 so snap out of kid.” And this is exactly what happened (yes I said all these things to myself in my mind lol). Feeling reinvigorated and forgetting about the past rounds I was set on winning.
      4-2
       
      R7 vs Jonathan Rankin JRank (4-4)
      I Brought:
      They Brought: ( ,)
      JRank is known as one of the country’s best players to never obtain a world’s invite, placing high at almost every event he attends. It was an honor to play with him and after joking around that he should scoop to me to help me get a worlds invite he said “You’ll have to earn it” and I couldn’t agree more. With my leads I felt quite confident. While my memory of this game is quite foggy I remember getting up TR while he set up tailwind, and I also remember him Low Kicking my Kangaskhan and me hoping it would die so I could get a free switch as it did. Groudon made quick work of his team as the +2 Precipice blades were too much for his team to handle. I wished Jonathan luck in his final round and felt very confident going into my final round.
      5-2
       
      R8 vs Andrew Ardans Bufforz (5-3)
      I Brought:
      They Brought: ( , )
      What else to be the top 16 gatekeeper than the one and only big 6. Andrew is awesome guy also from Nor Cal who has recently started to come to events and has become a good friend! As we NorCalians want what’s best for each other, we first compared our resistances and saw who had the best chance to obtain top 16 with a win here. While Andrew’s resistance wasn’t terrible, mine was much higher with two opponents being 6-1 going into the final round. We decided to play it out fair and square and if Andrew won he said he would think about scooping. After a turn 1 fake out trade, He decided to protect his Kangaskhan out of fear of it being knock out by my Kang. This was the last thing on my mind as I just decided to focus down Groudon to put it in Precipice Blades range while setting up. Groudon was able to come in under TR and wipe out Andrew’s team pretty cleanly. With the final round won I nervously awaited the standings…
       
      Finish: After finding out that EVERY SINGLE one of my high resistance opponents lost the final round, I was extremely nervous waiting for standings. My good friend Jordan Jue (BasedSnorlax) walked up to me from the direction of the standings post and met me with a “You’re going to worlds buddy!” and we had a nice bro hug. I was very emotional after obtaining my worlds invite as it has been a dream of mine ever since 2014. While this year is MUCH easier to obtain a world’s invite, I was very proud of myself to have an invite before the third cycle of Regionals AND before Nationals, showing that I really did earn it and can compete with some of the top dogs. I was very happy to find that Patrick moved on to top cut and couldn’t wait to relax and watch Patrick stomp some kids.
      Finish: 6-2 , Top 16
       
      Patrick's game analysis:
      I didn’t take extensive notes in any of these games, only writing down the opponent’s team and occasionally counting Trick Room/Gravity turns. My memory is a little foggy so I’ll do my best to try to piece together what happened in each game.
      R1 vs. Andre Echols Motel Vacaville (5-3)
      His team:
      He led Bronzong+Smeargle, I led Kangaskhan+Meowstic. Safeguard protected me from any Smeargle shenanigans, so his leads were very unthreatening to me. He didn’t realize I was level 49 Groudon, so he set up Trick Room for me, and then Groudon just came in and took advantage of it and swept him under Gravity at +2.
      1-0
       
      R2 vs. Jobany Vazquez (2-4)
      His team:
      Going into this match I was the most concerned about Sableye, as he could potentially Quash my Groudon, and my Kangaskhan and Machamp couldn’t really touch it, but he didn’t bring it. He got up a Geomancy with Xerneas while I got up Trick Room, and I had to make a few calls such as not Precipice Blading as he Wide Guarded, and getting up a Substitute while he protected, both of which were crucial as I ended up barely winning in the end.
      2-0
       
      R3 vs. Jayden Thomas (4-4)
      His Team:
      He led Gengar+Raichu, and I led Kyurem+Meowstic. I was afraid of Shadow Ball onto the Meowstic, so I withdrew into my Kangaskhan and took a nasty Sludge Bomb and got poisoned as he used Fake Out onto my Kyurem. Despite this, I felt like I was in a solid position as he didn’t really have a great answer to Kyurem. He didn’t bring Mawile to this game, and Kyurem was able to get four knockouts with Ice Beam, all in the next four or five turns.
      3-0
       
      R4 vs. Samuel Haarsma DrFidget (6-2)
      His team:
      This was a really weird looking team and I still don’t understand how it functions, but my strategy was to just overwhelm with offense, and that’s exactly what happened. Kyurem put a dent in his team, and then Groudon came in under Trick Room and cleaned up. This matchup was probably in my favor, I don’t really know what he could have done to stop me.
      4-0
       
      R5 vs. Kimo Nishimura TFC (6-2)
      His team:
      Kimo is a fellow Nor Cal player and friend of mine, and I knew I could expect a good match from him. This match was streamed, and it basically came down to a few key plays. He led Weavile+Zapdos and I lead Kyurem+Meowstic. Turn one he made a great play of Roaring my Meowstic as I tried to Trick Room expecting him to Tailwind, which really caught me off guard. If I had used Gravity instead, I probably would have outright won the game right there, as the matchup seemed to be heavily in my favor. Turn 2 I probably should have just Ice Beamed but I went for Blizzard and thankfully landed it on his Zapdos, preventing him from getting up Tailwind. Then later on, I was in a situation where I had to call whether or not he Protected on his Kyogre, and made the right play.
      5-0
       
      R6 vs. Alberto Lara CaliSweeper (7-1)
      His team:
      Adamant Kang kills Meowstic. He had Adamant Kang. That’s basically what happened. I couldn’t get up Trick Room, and so there wasn’t much I could do against his Geomancied Xerneas+faster Groudon+Kang.
      5-1
       
      R7 vs. Shawn Tang (5-3)
      His team:
      Weavile is a huge threat, so I had to lead Kang+Kyurem. This combination basically dismantled his entire team if I remember correctly. Kyurem hits Thundurus/Rayquaza/Togekiss hard and Kang hits Ferro/Kyogre/Weavile hard, so I just clicked moves and got KOs, pretty straightforward.
      6-1
       
      R8 vs. Emilio Forbes Emforbes  (6-2)
      His team:
      Emilio, another Nor Cal player who I’ve played a couple times at PCs, was one of the last players I wanted to face in the last round. He had already played James earlier, so he knew our team. Also, he’s good lol. I don’t remember exactly what transpired, but he got to +2 Kang with Power-Up Punch which was really scary, but then my Kang won the speed tie and got a good damage roll to OHKO him with Low Kick, which pretty much sealed the game for me.
      7-1
       
      Top Cut
       
      T8 vs. Alberto Lara CaliSweeper
      His team: 
      Alberto was my only loss in swiss, so I wasn’t looking forward to playing him again. The first few turns of game one played out exactly the same as our previous game, but then instead of Trick Rooming like I did before, I went for Swagger on his Xerneas. He still got up his Geomancy, but the next turn when I sent in Smeargle, he hit himself and I landed a Dark Void on him, putting me in the commanding position. He got some early wakes on his Groudon and Xerneas and so the endgame came down to his Groudon at half HP vs my full HP Groudon and Smeargle. He had already revealed Precipice Blades so I thought that I was safe in going for Wide Guard+Precipice Blades, but that’s when he revealed Earth Power. I was terrified when I saw that move but my Groudon ended up surviving with 20 HP or so, and I hit him back with a Precipice Blades to win.
      Game two we both decided to switch up our leads, I went with Smeargle+Meowstic, and he went with Kangaskhan + Groudon. Turn 1 he Fakes Out Smeargle and Fire Punches Meowstic, and I get up Trick Room. Turn 2 I Gravity+Dark Void him. At this point I’m thinking as long as he doesn’t get a one turn wake with Groudon, I win the game. So turn 2 I switch in my Groudon and get up Safeguard, and he wakes up with both Pokémon and gets a double knockout. So it’s literally my Kangaskhan and half HP Smeargle vs his full health Groudon, Kang, Cresselia, and Xerneas. The rest of this game serves as the perfect example of why Dark Void should be banned. I just did everything I had to do to have a chance at winning, which required getting a 3 turn sleep on his Kangaskhan, and either a 2 or 3 turn sleep on his Xerneas. I transformed into my own Kangakshan with Smeargle, and was able to barely squeeze out a victory.
       
      T4 vs. Joshua Winfield
      His team:
      This was definitely a scary matchup, as Kyogre+Mence can be hard to break with this team. This was the one time I decided to bring Machamp, because I felt like I needed the extra offense, and liked the way he matched up. Game one was pretty close, it came down to my Smeargle Transforming into his Kyogre and sweeping the rest of his team with it. Game 2 he had a bad lead matchup, and also made the mistake of using Tailwind after I Trick Roomed, so it was a pretty clean win for me from there.
       
      Finals vs. Aaron Zheng Cybertron
      His team:
      I played really poorly this set, I’m not sure if I was tired or what. Game 1 I made the mistake of leading Kyurem+Meowstic against his Groudon+Mawile, which put me in an awkward 50/50 position from the start.  Either his Mawile targets Kyurem, in which case I can get up Trick Room and send in Groudon for free, or he targets Meowstic, in which case I can Gravity, then send in Kang do work with Kyurem+Kang. I went for the Gravity play, expecting him to want to stop my Trick Room, and he killed Kyurem. I had to send in Kang, and seeing that his Groudon was in range for a Double Edge, I decided to make a risky play to get back in the game and Fake Out Mawile, because if Mawile got an attack off onto Kang, then I’d be in Sucker Punch range, and I needed to be at full health to take on his Kyogre. His 100% best play was double attacking, and he went for it, sealing up a quick win in game 1.
       
      Game 2 I knew I couldn’t bring Kyurem again, so I decided to go with Smeargle, as his team looked pretty weak to Dark Void, and Smeargle could really help vs Kyogre. And I couldn’t bring Machamp because of Mawile. Turn 1 he led Bronzong+Groudon and I led Kang+Smeargle. I knew his Bronzong had Lum Berry, and I knew my Smeargle was slower than his Groudon, so I had to Fake Out his Bronzong and Dark Void, since it was the only guarantee way to get Dark Void off. Otherwise he could have Protected his Groudon and Gyro Balled into my Smeargle, finishing me off with Groudon the following turn. Of course, none of this matters when Smeargle decides to miss Dark Void on the Groudon. This was a huge setback, as his Groudon would have had a guaranteed sleep turn, and the next turn I could either Dark Void again to put Bronzong to sleep, Transform him, or pull some switches to get my offense going. I don’t remember what happened from there, except that I made a dumb play of switching out Meowstic because I thought he Skill Swapped Prankster from it when he actually didn’t. Oh and I still could have won if I got a better damage roll onto his Kyogre on the last turn when I Swaggered myself and went for Precipice Blades, but I can’t be too upset about that because I was confused anyways.
       
      Final Thoughts: I hope everyone enjoyed reading this article, we put a lot of effort into it and were glad we could share our unconventional team with you. Overall the team is very reliant on setting up with Meowstic so at first it looks very gimmicky, but the team actually supports Meowstic well enough to get the job done. We hope to be back on here soon with other successful team reports! Below we will have some shoutouts for our homies, thanks again.
       
      James' Shoutouts:
      Patrick Smith (SalaMenace): Thanks for showing me the team and allowing me to use it! Building it with you was a blast and the fact that we were so successful with it is awesome. You’re a great friend and hopefully we can do well at worlds. I’m glad you decided to join the Nor Cal scene you are a great member to the meme team.
      Nor Cal’s Finest: As there are too many of you to name you all know who you are. Everyone in the group is very awesome and keeps me coming to events. Playing the game is only so fun, but as lame as it sounds hanging out with all you guys makes it all the more fun.
      Kamran Jahadi (Kamz): I’m glad you could make it to the Regional with us last minute, I had an awesome time memeing with you in our bedroom over the weekend. Your tough love has always pushed me to get better at the game and hopefully senpai has noticed me. Yung Mon3y 4 Lyf3.
      Team Tank Top: All of you guys are really cool and I love being able to hang with you guys at events. Worlds 2015 was so much fun and can’t wait for this worlds to be even better.
      Mikewando: Once again thanks for the idea of level 49 Groudon! And also for volunteering to proofread/edit our article. Without out you this wouldn’t have happened <3 (Editor’s note: Don’t try to run Eruption on your level 49 Groudon kids; it doesn’t learn it below level 50! Also thanks for giving me an article to edit in Comic Sans, James <3)
    • Will & Grace: 5th Oregon and 10th SoCal Report
      By DrFidget in Sam H.'s blog 14
      Hey, it's been awhile since I've done one of these. So long in fact that I stopped naming teams after song titles and started picking names from 90s sitcoms. This team being built around Mewtwo and Groudon what better show to choose than one about a strong yet vulnerable guy and a fiery redhead.
      Now before I get started, a bit of personal backstory. You may have noticed I disappeared online for about a year. I work 6 days a week and my commute ballooned from 2 hours a day to 6, before settling where it is now at 3.5. On top of that, I went from July to nearly the end of January with no internet in my home. So while I used to practice, record and edit podcasts, and build teams in my spare time, I now had no time to spare. Nor the means to do those things if I did. 
      I still took time off to go to events and had an okay season last year. But my teams were all built by me running calcs on the bus with my phone and hoping I'd remember them. I was quite literally phoning it in.
      Finally I put in an order to get internet and started doing The Lava Pool again a month before the internet was even hooked up. So the day I got internet back I started on this team. Had to rush a bit, since the IC started 2 days later.


      Someone had wrote into The Lava Pool and asked for opinions on Mewtwo, so I took a hard look at it in order to give a reasonable answer. In doing so I learned Mewtwo calcs and options better than anything else in the format so it seemed like a perfect place to start a team. At +1 and holding a Life Orb it gets a lot of OHKOs including Kyogre and Xerneas. Helping Hand was something I was going to try fit on the team but Calm Mind gave me a bit of flexibility and the Special Defence boost meant it could still set up against a Xerneas and then trade shots. Disable was there to stop spamming moves like Origin Pulse and Dark Void.

      Ever think Groudon would be great if it didn’t lose to other Groudon? Well good news friends! Without a Red Orb you don’t turn into Primal Groudon and don’t gain Fire typing and that pesky Ground weakness. Plus with a Choice Band you can gain more power than Primal Groudon and a good chance to OHKO them with Precipice Blades. The rest of the moves rarely come into play, but yes it can OHKO both Xerneas and Kang with Iron Tail and Hammer Arm.

      The walrus set was something I made for an earlier team named The Drew Carey Show, which ended up going 4-0 in each of the 2 PCs I made it to this format. I’m pretty sure the speed was for Hitmontop, which I expected to be a much bigger deal in this format with Wide Guard/Intimidate/Fake Out. The SpA let it KO Mega Ray in Delta Stream with Icy Wind+Ice Beam. I put the rest in Defence since all the calcs I ran for SpDef were already safe. (After SoCal I ran some +2 Dazzling Gleam Calcs and I made a better spread, but never had time to apply it so this spread stuck). The most common question I get about it is why Walrein and not Lapras? A more apt question would be why Walrein and not Crobat? It’s all about Super Fang and speed control. Ice Beam is a nice thing to have but 90% of the time you’re either using Super Fang or Icy Wind. It makes switching really hard on the other team and the bulk lets you stay out running the show for a while.

      Jolly, max speed Mawile was something I ran at the end of 2014 in order to fire off attacks before heatran would KO it or Rotom would burn it. Luckily, in 2016 it’s equally useful, outspeeding neutral 4 Speed primals and other base 90s by 1 point.

      Apparently I only have one pentagon Thundurus in ORAS so that’s why the thing is modest and I’m not sure on the EVs. I also forgot it had Lum for most of the IC and would just protect turn 1 against FO/Status. Prankster Taunt and Thunder Wave is good, but Thundurus was underwhelming. Though most of that is my fault for not knowing the EVs and forgetting the item.

      Chandelure was there basically just to reverse TR and hurt Cresselia, which the team had an issue doing. Flash Fire never really scared people from using Eruption and the only time I switched into a fire move it was from a Kyurem-W and Turbo Blaze ignores Flash Fire. The sash was key in letting play against TR with Kyogre and overall it was a solid bench pokémon that stayed ready to play when it’s number was called.
      I ended the IC 26-19 which was disappointing but expected given my lack of practice and prep time. Oddly enough, I was 6-14 vs Japan but 20-5 vs the rest of the world. Historically in ICs and GBU/BS I’ve always done much better against Japanese players than I have against the rest of the world. So to have such a dramatic difference was surprising.
      After the IC I started on a new team that I planned on using for regionals. The team was titled Mad About You and was Mewtwo/Kyurem-W/M-Metagross/Terrakion/Breloom/Walrein. Mewtwo/Terrakion was a solid theoretical lead combo getting KOs quickly with Helping Hand Psystrikes, shutting down Dark Void with Safeguard, and just murdering Kangaroos. On paper the team was solid, but I learned you have to be really really far in the game to get the item that lets you fuse Kyurem in to Kyurem-W. I only had gotten to the point in game that let’s you Mega Evolve which was 4 or 5 badges in, and I was probably not going to get far enough in time. I tried plow through on my commute but after a day it was clear I’d be lucky to get to the part where you unlock Primals. Thus, Will & Grace got renewed for a second season but I had to update it and change a cast member.


      After running Breloom calcs for Mad About You, I had to take back some harsh things I said about it not working in this year's format on The Lava Pool. Turns out Bullet Seed can still hurt a bunch of things and it’s a nice way to hit Kyogres. Spore worked as well as Taunt in stopping set ups, so Thundurus was out and my baby was back.

      While we’re talking about changes to help against Kyogre, there were a handful of games in the IC I would have won if I was able to change the weather with Groudon. I also would have lost against more Groudon if that was the case but regardless. It was time to join the Primal party. Having 2 pokémon without protect was something I just didn’t want to do again.
      Breloom needing Sash meant I had to change up the Chandelure item. Since Breloom and Groudon were now on Kyogre duty, Chandelure was able to get a Shuca Berry and not really miss the Focus Sash.
      The other change was the Mewtwo moveset. Calm Mind didn’t get used terribly often and Light Screen would help this pretty frail team quite a bit. Safeguard was more reliable than Disable at stopping Dark Void and with Thundurus gone I needed that. Oh, I guess Walrein changed a move too. Brine is useable but I figured with Harsh Sun on the team now it would be even more situational, so I switched it to Sheer Cold.
      Califonia
      So I flew down to California, and got to the part in game where you get Kyogre while I was on the plane. Got to the hotel, traded my team over. Ordered a pizza and watched basketball on TV. I don’t own a TV at home so this was very exciting for me. The next day I went to Disneyland for like an hour before heading to the PC. That was about the extent of my socializing. As much as I like hanging out with people at events, it was nice not to have to play babysitter or manage a half dozen egos while on vacation. Really nice.
      Anyway, the PC started late and I ended up going 4-3. Not ideal, but those were the first 7 games I played with the team and there were a few fixes that seemed obvious. I went back to the hotel and came up with new spreads for Walrein and Chandelure so that they could each take less than 50% from a +2 Dazzling Gleam. But it was late and I only had time to physically change one of them. I picked Chandelure and gave it 252HP, 164SpA, and 92 Speed which made it tie my Mawile. I also changed the ability to Flame Body because of Flash Fires uselessness in the IC and getting Faked Out twice by Kangaskhans in the PC.
      So now it was time for the main event and realistically I wasn’t expecting anything better than a 5-3 given the lack of practice and the record from the games I did play. This was also only the second time I’ve brought a Mega I’ve already used before to a large event. Not that I’ve tried, it just kind of worked out that way. I’ve used 13 different Megas over the last 3 years and the only one I repeated to this point was Gengar, which also happens to have the worst record of any Mega I used. (A 1-3 drop at Seattle in 14 and 5-4 nats in 15) I used Mawile in the Worlds LCQ in 2014.
      Anyway here’s what I remember from the rounds. I take notes but I only write what my opponent has and does and count Safeguard/Tailwind/TR turns. What I used and did is a mystery that I can’t always solve.
      R1 vs Mario Flamenco
      Landorus-T, Tornadus-I, Musharna, Kyogre, Aegislash, Rayquaza
      He led Tornadus/Aegi and set up a tailwind. I must have led Breloom because his Aegi went to sleep for 3 turns and Kyogre got knocked out the first turn it didn’t protect. His 4th was Rayquaza which got put to sleep on turn 6 and knocked out turn 7 ending the game.
      1-0
      R2 vs Anthony Jimenez
      Salamence, Gengar, Rayquaza, Kyogre, Scizor, Amoongus
      He leads Rayquaza Gengar and protects/Icy Winds, before switching Ray into Kyogre. I probably lead Walrus and was returning Icy Winds since it took a while before anything other than Gengar was knocked out. His 4th mon was Scizor, but his last mon standing was Rayquaza. Which stood alone for 3 turns before fainting.
      2-0
      R3 vs Gerard Delacruz
      Rayquaza, Talonflame, Kyogre, Cresselia, Breloom, Scizor
      I don’t know what was more surprising, someone else using Breloom, 2 Scizor in a row, or 3 Ray/Ogres in a row. One of my more fun opponents and I’m pretty glad he ended up in top 8. He led Kyogre Cresselia with Rayquaza and Breloom in the back. I’m pretty sure he got Walrused for most of the game but it came down to Kyogre vs Mawile 1v1. Speed kills.
      3-0
      R4 vs Patrick Smith
      Machamp, Lv 49 Groudon, Kangaskhan, Smeargle, Kyurem-W, Meowstic-M
      I saw the level 49 and prepared for the TR lead. He led Meowstic Kyurem and Gravity+Scarf Blizzard completely shook me. I knocked out the Kyurem the next turn as Meowstic set up Safeguard. Then Groudon came in and protected as TR went up and then it was me desperately trying to stall gravity/tr as he kept hitting Swagger and Precipice Blades until his Kangaskhan came in. I got stomped. Not surprised he made finals.
      3-1
      R5 vs Leonard Avila
      Gengar, Whimsicott, Rayquaza, Kyogre, Ludicolo, Kangaskhan.
      Yay, another Ray/ogre! I’m getting pretty good at these. He leads Whimsicott, Kangaskhan and sets up Tailwind. Turn 2 Kangaskhan switched into Ludicolo which died the same turn so I’m guessing I led Mawile in order for that sequence to happen. His 4th mon was Kyogre and he ended up running after turn 5.
      4-1
      R6 vs George Langford
      Kyogre, Crobat, Zapdos, Weavile, Gengar, Rayquaza
      Finally, someone I recognize. I figured I’d probably lose against another vet being that I’m so out of practice, but then I saw Ray/Ogre. He lead Crobat/Kyogre and set up tailwind, winning the speed tie with Mewtwo to do so and then getting knocked out allowing Rayquaza in on the second turn. He Water Spouts and Dragon Ascends the next 2 turns while Mewtwo probably protects/dies and Walrus goes to work Super Fanging the Kyogre and KOing Rayquaza. He sends in Weavile, I bring in Groudon and I have weather locked before his Tailwind even ends.
      5-1
      R7 vs Brandon Tuchtenhagen
      Kangaskhan, Lilligant, Thundurus-I, Xerneas, Talonflame, Groudon
      Round 7, I know I’m guaranteed at least 5-3 at this point so I’m satisfied. I also made it to round 7 before seeing my first Xerneas, which he didn’t even bring. He leads Lilligant, Groudon and Sleep Powders Mewtwo. My Chandelure eats its Shuca Berry and then Heat Waves, burning the Lilligant and knocking it out through the sash. He sends in Kangaskahn and my Mewtwo wakes up after only 1 turn. It was a haxy game and only lasted 5 turns.
      6-1
      R8 vs Mitchell Moscrop
      Groudon, Kyurem-W, Raikou, Talonflame, Salamence, Venusaur
      Mitchell is a nice guy and we played the day before in the PC. That game we both set up Light Screens and had a fairly defencive, predict heavy game. He won, but there was para hax so I was happy to get another shot at him. But then everything went wrong. I took almost the full time on team preview because I couldn’t decide on a 4th. Then the match started and Walrein, Chandelure came out on my side. Which was not what I tried to lead, so we both had a good laugh while the animations happened. He led Kyurem, Talonflame and I burned clock checking what pokémon I had in the back and weighing my options. I had led Chandelure against a Talonflame in the PC the day before and they Taunted me as I went for Trick Room. I thought it was him so I didn’t do it again. It wasn’t him, he set up tailwind and I was boned. He just had to mash attack buttons from there so he got a fairly easy win and secured topcut. He is also officially rival status now.
      6-2
      Ah X-2. How many regionals has it been now, 6, 7? None of which ever got me top 16. Missing the nats stipend 2 years in a row by less than 3 CP. I knew my resistances were good going into the last round but I was still shocked seeing my name at 10th this time. I didn’t check to see how close to top 8 I was percentage wise because I don’t want to know. Happy enough breaking the top 32 curse. Baby steps. Looked at twitter since my last game was streamed and the consensus seemed to be me making it to 6-1 with the team was a fluke and Walrein is bad. Being that was the only game they saw, I can’t blame them.
      Went back to the hotel, ordered another pizza, watched more basketball. It was a good trip. Flew back home, worked then next 3 days and then set off to do it again. I was riding down with some friends and at 10pm friday they told me we were leaving at 3am. At around midnight I set a timer on my phone for 2 hours because it was easier than setting an alarm. Giving me time to shower and pack before leaving. My phone decided to update and restart, canceling the timer. I woke up to a phone call at 3:30 and tossed a handful of clothes and DSs into a backpack.
      Oregon
      We get to the venue around 7 but the hotel won’t give us early check in, so I hang out by the card players until Toler shows up. He wanted to do a Bo3 practice set, which quickly drew a crowd of bored VGCers. Bo3 became Bo7 and I started hitting the Sheer Cold button on game 4. I reconfirmed the team beats Ray/Ogre but was paranoid about how many people were watching. I’m not sure how helpful the set was for Toler. 
      After that a PC started. I had slept 3 hours of the last 30, but played like I hadn’t slept in a week. I think I got 4 turned by Rushan and ended 3-3. At this point the room was ready so I took a nap. I woke up, changed Light Screen to Ice Beam on Mewtwo since 3 times in 2 weeks it would have won me a match and I think I only used Light Screen 3 times total. I also moved 76 EVs out of Mawile’s Attack and moved them to HP so it could live +2 Moonblast. Thought about fixing the Walrus spread to the good one I made the week before but didn’t have time once again.

      So now to the main event, and surprise it’s best of 3 all day. Guess I was paranoid about scouting for nothing.
      R1 vs Treyton Shangula-Enger
      Amoongus, Kyogre, Talonflame, Ferrothorn, Kangaskahn, Xerneas
      He started by asking if I wanted to set the rules, so I knew it was his first major event. After telling him to reset his game to get to the main menu he closed his DS for 30 seconds. So I wasn’t expecting a strong start. Team preview looked legit though so I thought maybe it was a con. But then my Breloom outsped his Xerneas so it was an in-game team.
      1-0 (2-0)
      R2 vs Tommy Nixon
      Salamence, Crobat, Xerneas, Gengar, Groudon, Amoongus
      Already more Xerneas than last week and it’s only round 2. Game 1 came down to Groudon speed ties and my groudon won. Game 2 came down to Groudon speed ties and his groudon won. Game 3 ended with full HP Amoongus/+2Xerneas vs 60% HP Groudon and 100% Mawile. I selected my moves and 2 seconds later realized my mistake. He selects his moves and I tell him I just lost as Amoongus Rage Powders. He asks why. I say “you Moonblasted the Groudon” as the Moonblast animation starts. He goes “uhhh” and I see the Moonblast connect with Mawile, who holds on with 2HP thanks to the last second EV change. Groudon Fire Punches Amoongus and Mawile gets Xerneas with Iron Head.
      2-0 (4-1)
      R3 vs Tony Cheung
      Arcanine, Salamence, Kyogre, Togekiss, Uxie, Mewtwo
      We played at Oregon last year too where he won because I forgot Infernape speed tied Terrakion/Virizion. His team was rad and game 1 he shuffled intimidates while Snarling with Arcanine while I was Icy Winding with Walrus. He had all 4 mons still alive on turn 6, but it was over in 8. Game 2 was close but he revealed his 4th move on Mewtwo letting me know I could just Sucker Punch.
      3-0 (6-1)
      R4 vs Brandt Willems
      Groudon, Xerneas, Kangaskahn, Salamence, Smeargle, Talonflame
      Hey my game score is 6-1, maybe last week wasn’t a fluke. This is my first match against “Big 6” and I feel like I should have at least thought more about it ahead of time. Game 1 it looks like Breloom happened and he ran after 4 turns. Game 2 he brought Smeargle and I got to show off Safeguard.
      4-0 (8-1)
      R5 vs Markell Thornton
      Groudon, Xerneas, Kangaskahn, Salamence, Smeargle, Talonflame
      Markell is a regular to Washington PCs and coming into this game we were 2-2 against each other in the format but I had a 3-2 lead for the season. He was running “Big 6” and after my last round I thought it would be easy. I was very wrong.
      4-1 (8-3)
      R6 vs Kacey Traver
      Swampert, Rayquaza, Gengar, Kyogre, Talonflame, Crobat
      Finally a Ray/Ogre. Didn’t expect a mega out of the Gengar with both Swampert and Rayquaza on the team, but I guess he likes mega options. No good options for taking on a Walrus though.
      5-1 (10-3)
      After round 6 I got selected for a random hack check. The year before I also got random checked round 6 at Oregon. Last year my opponent got DQd during the check for hacked mons, killing my resistance. This time I set something off though. The check said my Mewtwo was at level 50 or caught at level 50. It wasn’t of course. So after the staff checked everything they could and made a few phone calls they passed me. 
      R7 vs Mitchell Davies
      Kyogre, Rayquaza, Gengar, Crobat, Weavile, Zapdos
      Alright last round and it’s another Ray/Ogre. Feeling pretty good and win the first game. He made some good adjustments game 2 leading Weavile/Zapdos, and switching Weavile in and out a bunch. He wins game two 3-0. Winner of game 3 makes cut and this game is a doozey. He leads Weavile/Zapdos again and turn 1 Mewtwo crit KOs Zapdos and Weavile KOs Mewtwo. Turn two Weavile and Breloom go down, setting up a 2v2 or Rayquaza/Kyogre vs Mawile/Groudon. Mawile and Rayquaza each under 30% and both primals at max HP. Delta Stream is up. I lose. 
      I go for Play Rough on the Kyogre just in case he doesn’t KO Maw with Ray and I protect Groudon. He reveals Earthquake for the first time and knocks out Mawile and chunks his own Kyogre. At this point I might be able to KO Kyogre with a crit so I give it a shot. Kyogre protects and I eat an Earthquake that only did about 40%. I decide my best option at this point is to knock out Rayquaza and hope for a misplay and Origin Pulse missing. I still don’t know if this was a scoop or just a choke, but he went for a double Protect on Kyogre and didn’t get it, then Earthquake chunked Kyogre to 50% while Groudon knocked out Rayquaza. Now I didn’t even need a crit, just to hit. I did, and it was back to topcut for the first time since 2013.
      6-1 (12-4)
      Top 8 vs Brandon Myers
      Kyogre, Arcanine, Rayquaza, Ferrothorn, Zapdos, Ludicolo
      Well, it’s Ray/Ogre but half the team looks real unfriendly to a walrus. As it turns out 2/3s of the team was unfriendly. The other arcanine I played today was special and snarled a bunch, this one OHKOd Walrein with Close Combat turn 1. I immediately knew it was Choice Band after that, but that knowledge wouldn’t help me. I got blasted. Both games combined for only 12 turns and at no point did I have an advantage.
      So there you have it. Not yet back to the terror I used to be, but a good first step. Hopefully I'll be able to get some practice in and finish EV spreads before he next event. Baby steps.
    • Nugget Bridge Major 5
      By makiri in makiri's blog 56
      The Season 5 Nugget Bridge Major is here! After MajorBowman won one of the largest online tournaments ever last season we've decided to introduce a way to win more prizes than before. The Major is one of our most important events and we strive to continually improve every year. This year we're going to introduce an entry fee to the tournament. What does this mean for you? It means stronger, more serious competition and bigger prizes. Get ready because this will be the best Major yet!
      This years prizes (US Dollars):
      1st place: $300 + 130 NP + 50% of alternative sponsorship revenue stream directed for Nugget Bridge Major use 2nd place: $150 + 120 NP + 20% of alternative sponsorship revenue stream directed for Nugget Bridge Major use 3rd/4th place: $75 + 110 NP + 6% of alternative sponsorship revenue stream directed for Nugget Bridge Major use 5th-8th place: $25 + 100 NP + 3% of alternative sponsorship revenue stream directed for Nugget Bridge Major use 9th-16th place: 70 NP + .75% of alternative sponsorship revenue stream directed for Nugget Bridge Major use 17th-32nd place: 40 NP 33rd-64th place: 20 NP 65th-128th place: 10 NP Of course 100 Nugget Points are needed for an invite to the Nugget Bridge Invitational, so the Major will be key in obtaining that invite.
      Breakdown of the entry fee:
      $6.27 entry fee $1.27 is Eventbrite processing the remaining $5.00 goes to Nugget Bridge $3.50 goes to Nugget Bridge community development (future tournament prizing) $1.50 goes to Nugget Bridge community development (sponsorships/content creators) The Major will use Battlefy for the bracket, but all reporting will be done on the forums. Purchasing an Eventbrite ticket will be your signup, so be sure to include your EXACT NUGGET BRIDGE USERNAME. Signups will only be open for 7 days, so don't delay!
      Finally the rules will be important to follow for this tournament. If you don't follow them you are at risk of losing matches or even being disqualified from the tournament altogether.
      The ruleset will be the Standard Format. The tournament will follow the Swiss structure and leads to a final single elimination top cut to determine the champion. This means you play every round whether you win or you lose The top 32 players or all players with 2 or fewer losses (whichever is the larger number) will make it to the top cut single elimination stage Games will be played in a best of 3 set and the winner of 2 games will be declared the winner of the match. Report the proper score because your tiebreakers are affected. The only results should be 2-0 or 2-1. You may not change teams during that best of 3, but you can change teams between rounds. Games must be played on Nintendo 3DS systems using Pokémon Omega Ruby or Alpha Sapphire. In certain circumstances Pokémon Showdown may be used, but it needs to be cleared with makiri, the tournament host. This is not a live tournament. Matches will play out over the course of the week. As mentioned it is Swiss, just because you lose it does not mean you are done, play the tournament out! The games will be played with Normal rules on the battle option. This means players needs to be on the look out for players bringing more than 4 Pokemon, bringing banned Pokemon, or breaking item clause. Please record a video while playing your match (using a phone or camcorder or something similar) to help in case of disputes. We also recommend saving all battle videos. Cheating will not be tolerated and any cheater caught will be heavily punished. This is a paid event and any sign of cheating will be fully investigated. If you come across cheating, notify the organizer as soon as possible and present all your evidence possible. The link to register is (PICK ONLY ONE):
      CREDIT CARD: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nugget-bridge-major-5-registration-22662422917
      PAYPAL: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/nugget-bridge-major-5-paypal-registration-22712422467
      Good luck!
    • A History of Japanese Competitive Pokemon - 1996 and 1997
      By Magic in The Canalave Library 12
      Note: The owner of the Japanese blog Pokemon Battle Historia, Gold, graciously allowed me to use the information compiled on his blog for western sites such as Bulbapedia. Most of the credit goes to his Pokemon Battle History page and the other Japanese players in his links section. 
      I tried to source my information whenever possible, but some of the info comes from the notoriously unreliable Dr. Goog L., so any help from fluent Japanese speakers is appreciated! 
      Pokemon has recently turned 20 years old, allowing fans to experience the thrill of training virtual monsters both casually and competitively. Competitive play has been a major part of the series ever since 1997, a year before Pokemon even left Japan. Although officially sponsored tournaments have been going on in Japan since 1997, there is a surprising lack of information on the history of official competitive Pokemon, and there's plenty of misinformation about what players do know. Hopefully, I can clear up some of these misconceptions.
      Did you know that the Pokemon tournament circuit was broadcast on TV before eSports even took off? Did you know that Charizard once won a National tournament? How about the time a Focus Band Heracross sent waves across Japan? You'll find all this and more in this blog.
      1996 - The Dark Ages
      Contrary to popular belief, Pokemon wasn't a smash hit as soon as it debuted in Japan. Pocket Monsters Red and Green had a troubled development: The games were in development for six years, nearly driving Game Freak to bankruptcy. The games missed their projected release date of Christmas 1995, debuting in the slowest part of the year instead. The Game Boy was an old system at this point, and the Nintendo 64 was going to be released in a few months. The games received a modest score of 29/40 from Famitsu (similar to Nintendo Power's 7.2/10 review of Pokemon Red and Blue), but a fairly good score wasn't enough to tip the scales. It seemed like the quirky, buggy pair of RPG titles were destined to be a bust. 
      However, sales gradually picked up. Like the first Fire Emblem game, Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light, the games became more popular due to word-of-mouth and gained traction with young children who couldn't afford the current consoles. However, the games didn't really take off until players discovered Mew, which was secretly added in at the last second as a joke by Shigeki Morimoto. The glitch gained so much traction that Nintendo even had to release an official statement warning players not to attempt any glitches. Game Freak took advantage of the situation and partnered with CoroCoro Magazine to distribute Mew to 20 lucky applicants. The first contest received 78,000 applicants, while a second contest later that year attracted 80,000. Later that year, CoroCoro held a special offer where players could purchase Pocket Monsters Blue, a slightly enhanced version of Red and Green that served as the game engine for the localized Pokemon Red and Blue. Despite a slow start, the series boomed in popularity.
      1997 - We eSports Now
      In May 1997, Nintendo announced the first official Pokemon tournament, the Pokemon League National Convention (which is retroactively referred to as the Nintendo Cup 97). However, Red and Green weren't designed with link battles in mind, and the feature was implemented at the last minute at Nintendo's request. (The blocked test roughly states that Satoshi Tajiri only thought about trading, and Game Freak rushed to include link battles in.) Of course, a ruleset had to be implemented so that link battles wouldn't descend into complete chaos. 
      Nintendo Cup 97 Rules
      Mewtwo and Mew are forbidden.  Before battle, each player looks at their opponent's team, and selects three Pokemon to use.  Only level 50 to 55 Pokemon are permitted, and the combined levels of the player's three selected Pokemon must not exceed 155.  Only one Pokemon may be asleep at a time, and only one Pokemon may be frozen at a time.  A player automatically loses if their last Pokemon uses Self-Destruct or Explosion.  Sound familiar? Yes, these are the same rules as the Poke Cup in the Pokemon Stadium series. The rules appear arbitrary at first glance, but there's some method to the madness. Mewtwo was banned because it was clearly overpowered, while Mew was banned because it could only be obtained through events or glitches; the three Pokemon rule was likely put into place in order to keep tournaments running efficiently; the level limits were likely put into place so that players wouldn't have to grind for level 100 Pokemon or use risky glitches to instantly get their Pokemon to level 100; and Sleep and Freeze Clauses were put into place since the statues were so overpowered. 
      Tournament Format
      (Most of this information comes from tashi8119's blog, which posts various YouTube videos of early Japanese competitions and the experiences of one of the Nintendo Cup 97 finalists, Fuji Tamika/"Claire".)
      The tournament qualifiers (or "Regionals") were held across Japan for elementary and middle school children. Players had to submit postcards for CoroCoro in order to enter a lottery, where 3,840 lucky players would be allowed to participate in the qualifiers.
      There were 15 tournament qualifiers across Japan, each consisting of 256-person single-elimination tournaments. At each tournament, players were subdivided into eight 32-person pools. After each win, players would receive a Badge. Players received the Boulder Badge after one win, the Cascade Badge after two wins, the Thunder Badge after three wins, the Rainbow Badge after four wins, and the Soul Badge after five wins. The eight winners from each block would move on to the Top Cut. The semifinalists received the Marsh Badge, the finalists received the Volcano Badge, and the Champion received the Earth Badge and the right to move onto the National Championships. 
      The Developing Metagame
      It's important to note that there are a couple of mechanic changes between the Japanese and international Generation I games. Most notably, Blizzard and Double Team were even more powerful in the initial Japanese releases. 
      In the Japanese verisons, Blizzard has a 30% chance of freezing, which meant that the move had a 27% chance of landing a pseudo-OHKO after factoring in accuracy. The chance was lowered to 10% in the Pokemon Stadium games, Pokemon Yellow's Colosseum 2, and all international games. (This is listed on several sites, such as Bulbapedia and The Cutting Room Floor, but I initially discovered this fact.) In the Japanese versions, evasion and accuracy moves share the same modifiers as normal stat boosters, making evasion moves even more potent. For instance, a Pokemon that used Double Team once would only be hit 2/3 of the time rather than 3/4 of the time, changing "100%" accurate moves to 67% accurate moves instead of 75% accurate moves. A Pokemon with +2 Evasion would only be hit 1/2 of the time instead of 3/5 of the time, and so on. The evasion and accuracy modifiers were changed in the localized games and in Pocket Monsters Stadium 2 (Pokemon Stadium overseas).  In the Japanese versions, draining moves such as Mega Drain have no effect against a Substitute. This had little effect on competitive play since the bugged Substitute barely saw any play at the time, but this explains why Mega Drain doesn't work on Substitutes in the Pokemon Stadium games.  Despite these changes, the metagame was largely similar to future overseas metagames: Normal- and Psychic-types dominated the metagame, and trainers spammed Blizzard, Double Team, and sleep-inducing moves. 
      In order to promote the Nintendo Cup 97, the Nintendo variety show 64 Mario Stadium hosted a weekly Battle Corner using the official ruleset. Since the Pokemon Stadium games didn't exist at the time, players had to battle using Super Game Boys in a setup straight out of The Wizard. (The battle starts at 1:43. Seizure warnings at 2:00, 2:47, 3:07, and 3:53, as the Japanese animation for Thunderbolt is more flashy than in the localized games.) 
      At first, Pokemon such as the Eeveelutions, Starmie, Alakazam, and Snorlax dominated in the Battle Corner, but more diverse strategies gradually appeared over time. Here are some of the more notable events: 
      June 19, 1997: Jynx was featured in the Battle Corner for the first time, showing trainers that sleep was a potent force even with Sleep Clause in effect.  July 24, 1997: Electrode and Exeggutor made their national debut. Electrode gained popularity since it was the fastest Pokemon in the metagame, while Exeggutor was a bulky Psychic-type that could spread Sleep Powder. Both Pokemon also had access to Explosion, which was potent in a 3v3 format.  September 11, 1997: Minimize Chansey showed players how terrifying evasion moves could be.  September 18, 1997: Tauros burst onto the scene, striking fear into the hearts of trainers across the nation as it showed how it was the most powerful Pokemon of the format.  The 1997 National Championships
      The Nintendo Cup 97 finals took place at Nintendo Space World 97, a video game trade show hosted by Nintendo. (The venue also showed early screenshots of Pokemon Gold and Silver, and distributed Mew to 100,000 lucky visitors.) The finals had a 10-minute time limit so that Double Team wouldn't cause battles to drag out. In the end, Miyazawa Toru won the tournament, using Tauros, Jynx, and Electrode in the finals. 
      Here is a short overview of the event and the finalists from 64 Mario Stadium. (Seizure warning at 1:47.) 
      Nationals Results
      Champion: Miyazawa Toru 
      Spoiler Level 50 Jynx - Double Team / Lovely Kiss / Psychic / Blizzard
      Level 55 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Level 55 Starmie - Surf / Psychic / Minimize / Recover
      Level 50 Articuno - Ice Beam / Double Team / Blizzard / Toxic
      Level 50 Electrode - Thunderbolt / Light Screen / Thunder Wave / Explosion
      Level 50 Kangaskhan - Rock Slide / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam 
      Runner-up: Hiroki Yoshii 
      Spoiler Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder / Pin Missile / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Starmie - Psychic / Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Recover
      Level 51 Ditto - Transform
      Level 51 Tauros - Thunder / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Exeggutor - Sleep Powder / Psychic / Mega Drain / Egg Bomb
      Level 51 Hypno - Psychic / Hypnosis / Dream Eater / Submission
      Top 4: Suzuki Yusuke 
      Spoiler Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder Wave / Double Team / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Chansey - Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Minimize / Soft-Boiled
      Level 51 Exeggutor - Sleep Powder / Psychic / Mega Drain / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Double Team / Recover
      Level 52 Alakazam - Psychic / Toxic / Double Team / Recover
      Level 52 Tauros - Fire Blast / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Top 4: Yukiyo Jiro 
      Spoiler Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Toxic / Double Team / Double Kick
      Level 52 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Recover
      Level 52 Exeggutor - Hypnosis / Psychic / Mega Drain / Strength
      Level 52 Jynx - Lovely Kiss / Psychic / Blizzard / Toxic
      Level 51 Gengar - Psychic / Thunderbolt / Night Shade / Confuse Ray
      Level 51 Alakazam - Psychic / Dig / Toxic / Recover
      Top 8: Takahashi Jun 
      Spoiler Level 52 Articuno - Blizzard / Ice Beam / Bubblebeam / Fly
      Level 52 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Blizzard / Thunderbolt
      Level 52 Jynx - Lovely Kiss / Psychic / Blizzard / Seismic Toss
      Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Double Kick / Pin Missile / Body Slam
      Level 52 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Toxic / Recover
      Level 51 Alakazam - Psychic / Psybeam / Recover / Teleport
      Top 8: Fuji Tamika ("Claire") 
      Spoiler Level 51 Tauros - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Double Team / Hyper Beam 
      Level 53 Articuno - Double Team / Ice Beam / Fly / Blizzard
      Level 53 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Double Team / Quick Attack / Hyper Beam
      Level 51 Lapras - Ice Beam / Surf / Strength / Hydro Pump
      Level 51 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Double Team
      Level 53 Dugtrio - Earthquake / Rock Slide / Slash / Double Team 
      Top 8: Tomitaisei Yoshi 
      Spoiler Level 50 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Recover
      Level 55 Tauros - Thunderbolt / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Level 50 Hypno - Psychic / Hypnosis / Dream Eater / Body Slam
      Level 50 Zapdos - Thunderbolt / Drill Peck / Double Team / Reflect
      Level 50 Alakazam - Psychic / Reflect / Dig / Recover
      Level 50 Articuno - Ice Beam / Blizzard / Double Team / Hyper Beam 
      Top 8: Hiro Fuchiwakiaki 
      Spoiler Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder Wave / Double Team / Double Kick
      Level 52 Starmie - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Minimize / Recover
      Level 51 Chansey - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Minimize / Soft-Boiled
      Level 51 Tauros - Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Double Team / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Alakazam - Psychic / Toxic / Double Team / Recover
      Level 51 Jynx - Lovely Kiss / Psychic / Ice Punch / Double Team 
      Top 15: Katou Kazuhito 
      Spoiler Level 52 Lapras - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Psychic / Body Slam
      Level 51 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Recover
      Level 51 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam 
      Level 52 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder Wave / Double Team / Body Slam 
      Level 51 Alakazam - Psychic / Thunder Wave / Reflect / Recover
      Level 51 Dugtrio - Earthquake / Rock Slide / Slash / Double Team 
      Top 15: Hiro Hayashiyasu 
      Spoiler Level 51 Alakazam - Psychic / Seismic Toss / Reflect / Recover
      Level 53 Starmie - Psychic / Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Recover
      Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder / Pin Missile / Body Slam
      Level 51 Lapras - Surf / Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Body Slam
      Level 51 Exeggutor - Sleep Powder / Psychic / Strength / Explosion
      Level 51 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam 
      Top 15: Yamadataka Hisa 
      Spoiler Level 52 Tauros - Thunderbolt / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Level 51 Venusaur - Razor Leaf / Mega Drain / Leech Seed / Toxic
      Level 52 Gyarados - Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Fire Blast / Hyper Beam
      Level 52 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Double Team / Rest / Hyper Beam
      Level 51 Chansey - Seismic Toss / Toxic / Minimize / Soft-Boiled
      Level 52 Jynx - Lovely Kiss / Ice Beam / Seismic Toss / Double Team 
      Top 15: Kitagawa Yasunori 
      Spoiler Level 51 Articuno - Ice Beam / Blizzard / Double Team / Hyper Beam 
      Level 51 Gengar - Psychic / Hypnosis / Dream Eater / Explosion
      Level 52 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Double Team / Hyper Beam
      Level 51 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Pin Missile / Double Team / Hyper Beam 
      Level 52 Starmie - Surf / Psychic / Minimize / Recover
      Level 52 Alakazam - Psychic / Double Team / Toxic / Recover
      Top 15: Nishimura Shun 
      Spoiler Level 50 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder / Body Slam / Hyper Beam
      Level 55 Tauros - Body Slam / Earthquake / Blizzard / Hyper Beam
      Level 50 Starmie - Surf / Psychic / Blizzard / Recover
      Level 50 Golem - Earthquake / Rock Slide / Body Slam / Explosion
      Level 55 Articuno - Blizzard / Hyper Beam / Fly / Agility
      Level 50 Lapras - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Surf / Hyper Beam
       
      Top 15: Imai Daisuke 
      Spoiler Level 50 Dugtrio - Earthquake / Rock Slide / Toxic / Slash
      Level 50 Chansey - Blizzard / Thunder / Minimize / Soft-Boiled
      Level 54 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Thunder / Double Kick / Toxic
      Level 50 Gengar - Psychic / Hypnosis / Dream Eater / Night Shade
      Level 51 Lapras - Blizzard / Thunder / Hydro Pump / Psychic
      Level 55 Dragonite - Thunder / Blizzard / Fire Blast / Hyper Beam 
      Top 15: Yuwamasa Kenji 
      Spoiler Level 55 Tauros - Thunderbolt / Blizzard / Earthquake / Hyper Beam
      Level 50 Alakazam - Psychic / Reflect / Toxic / Recover
      Level 50 Vaporeon - Body Slam / Haze / Toxic / Blizzard
      Level 50 Jolteon - Thunderbolt / Toxic / Double Team / Hyper Beam
      Level 50 Lapras - Blizzard / Thunderbolt / Double Team / Rest
      Level 50 Magneton - Thunderbolt / Toxic / Double Team / Rest 
      (Credit for the movesets and romanizations goes to Serebii.)
      Notably, each of the 15 finalists were featured as opponents in the Japan-only Pocket Monsters Stadium, where players would randomly face eight of the finalists in a Level 50-55 tournament using the Nintendo Cup 97 rules. This feature wouldn't appear in any localized Pokemon games until the 2012 World Championship Download Tournaments were released for Pokemon Black 2 and White 2.
      Nationals Pokemon Breakdown
      Spoiler 1. Tauros, 13 uses (86.67% of teams)
      1. Jolteon, 13 uses (86.67%)
      3. Starmie, 12 uses (80%)
      4. Alakazam, 9 uses (60%)
      5. Lapras, 6 uses (40%)
      5. Articuno, 6 uses (40%)
      7. Jynx, 5 uses (33.33%)
      8. Chansey, 4 uses (26.67%)
      8. Exeggutor, 4 uses (26.67%)
      10. Dugtrio, 3 uses (20%)
      10. Gengar, 3 uses (20%)
      12. Hypno, 2 uses (13.33%)
      13. Electrode, Kangaskhan, Venusaur, Gyarados, Golem, Dragonite, Vaporeon, Magneton, Ditto, Zapdos, 1 use each (6.67%)
       
      There were plenty of familiar faces at Nationals: Tauros was at the top, while Pokemon like Starmie and Jolteon also saw plenty of play. However, there were some surprises as well; most notably, Jolteon was tied for the most used Pokemon alongside Tauros, while it only recently became popular in western RBY metagames. The tournament had a lack of Ground-types, possibly due to the overpowered Blizzard, which allowed Jolteon to run rampant. Speaking of Ground-types, Dugtrio saw more play than Golem and Rhydon, who are considered the staple Ground-types in western RBY metagames. Finally, Chansey, the number one special wall in RBY, was only used by four competitors and was even less popular than Articuno. 
      Despite the discrepancies, the overall message remains the same: Psychic- and Normal-types dominated RBY. 
      Preview
      The next blog post will cover the Nintendo Cup 98 tournament, delving into the discovery of EVs and how the Pokemon Stadium series is intriscially linked with competitive play. See you soon! 
       
    • Even In the Midst of a Dark Void, the Sun Will Rise - Oregon 2016 Report
      By R Inanimate in R Inanimate's blog - Tactical Moon Tour 11
      Hello, this is R Inanimate. I recently won the Oregon Winter Regionals. I had intended to focus on trying to aim for a T16 finish or better, but the unexpected announcement of Swiss being best of 3 gave me a boost to confidence that going for the win could be realistically put in the cards. I assessed early in the season that Bo3 VGC16 is a lot of fun for me, but Bo1 VGC16 is probably one of the most stressful metagames, so it was a huge benefit for us to have bo3 Swiss at Oregon Regionals, even if it could have ruined my arrangement for returning back to Vancouver immediately after regionals.
      Preparation
      I already knew what team I was going to use at Oregon regionals well in advanced. When I practiced with the team for the January IC, I had an unsatisfactory 30-15 W/L record, but had a strange feeling of confidence that the issue for the team was not about luck, and a lot more about making sure that I better knew my matchups, and played sharper with making reads in my battles.
      Between doing some school work (since I'm taking some courses again), and playing in an event in a browser game, I kind of put off actually practicing with my team until the last week before Regionals. However, while I didn't do actual practice, I did do a lot of thinking about how I play my matchups, and watching some other people play games and seeing how they approach certain matchups. I got a decent amount of games in for a few days, and made one single change that I felt helped me adapt my team a bit to the changing trends, but then as you know... Fire Emblem Fates was released and I've just been playing that instead for the last week. But that's okay! I justified it by saying "playing on Lunatic difficulty will probably help in keeping a strategic mindset going into Regionals".
      The Team:

      The flowchart really works?! But seriously, as strange as it sounds noting that I was just using Kanga Mence dual mega last season, I don't really like having Kanga and Mence both on the same team in 2016. Without a real abundance of Electric- and Steel-type Pokemon like there was in 2015, Salamence's Flying STABs and higher speed stat just feel sufficient enough for me to just have it as a solo Mega. That's not to say that Kangaskhan doesn't have its own benefits over Salamence, but there's also the fact that having a full 100% Big Six vs Big Six mirror can lead to extremely volatile "whoever leads or does T1 right wins" sort of matchups that I didn't find acceptable to have against that common team archetype, especially in what I thought was going to be Bo1 Swiss.
      I decided to do things a bit differently this time, and actually wrote no notes at all during Regionals. I did not even put a piece of paper in front of me. I had felt a bit like I got a bit too caught up into writing notes at regionals at times, and not enough focus on the actual game and my next move, so I rid myself of distractions and played all games without any written note aid. But... as a result I don't really remember how many times I brought what, nor do I have much detailed memory of what happened in my battles. I did go through 10 Bo3 sets after all. Nicknames are once again based on Kaguya houraisan Spellcard names from Touhou. She has a lot of them, so I just chose an entirely 6 different ones from the last time I used this theme.

      Smeargle @ Focus Sash ***Kinkaku-ji
      Ability: Moody
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Follow Me
      - Dark Void
      - Spiky Shield
      Public Enemy #1. I think I've probably said my stance on what I think about Smeargle, and how I think it should be used in a past report or article, so I'll just go over it briefly: Smeargle's role on my team is largely about controlling the flow of the game. You redirect moves with Follow Me to support an ally, while its other moves will often be for blocking opponent moves or preventing the opponent to act. In this case, mostly in the form of prevention with Fake Out and Dark Void. Moody is used simply because of the fact that it can steal games.
      Smeargle has a lot of luck factors towards it. How you play your team and rely on these luck factors can make the difference from seeing it as a "I have a 64% chance to stay in the game, if any DVs miss I lose" kind of Pokemon, or a "I'm in okay shape in the game, but Moody can give me a 15-20% chance every turn Smeargle is active to just lock it up" kind of Pokemon.

      Groudon @ Red Orb ***RedStone Aja
      Ability: Drought
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      IVS: 31/31/27/31/31/31
      Jolly Nature
      - Precipice Blades
      - Fire Punch
      - Rock Tomb
      - Protect
      Fast Physical Groudon. Groudon has already gone through a few phases within 2 months. We started with stuff like Adamant 252 HP physical, then went on a Modest phase, then played the speed creep arms race and had a Timid/Jolly phase. Now Trick Room is in vogue so we're now in Brave TR Groudon that survives Timid Earth Power (sometimes Modest) phase. I never followed the phases though, and just stuck with Jolly from the start. Moveset is pretty straightforward, Rock Tomb is chosen as a Rock move of choice, because it's less likely to miss than Rock Slide or Stone Edge, doesn't get blocked by Wide Guard, and will still OHKO Talonflame even if Groudon is at -1. The Speed drop caused by Rock Tomb has a few practical uses, but it usually doesn't come into play.
      3 months into the format, I'm not entirely sure what I think about Jolly Groudon in relation to other potential EV spreads. Being faster than Smeargle is a pretty big plus, being speed tied with some other people's primals in the 90 Zone is rather perilous, and the loss of HP makes a very noticeable difference in how much easier it is for Groudon to fall into KO range of various things. I feel like with Jolly Groudon for this team I often like to use it as a back end Pokemon, and try to use it for late-game clean up, unless the opponent has some active Pokemon that Groudon can easily switch in against, like Ferrothorn, or Kyogre (when expecting a Water attack anyways). When I used the team in the IC Groudon's usage rate in my battles was ~60%, which was pretty low, considering that it was one of my two restricted mons. I think in this tourney, I did put a bit more faith in using Groudon when I needed to, and Blades fortunately didn't let me down "too" much.

      Salamence @ Salamencite ***SalamencShld
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
      Naive Nature
      - Hyper Voice
      - Double-Edge
      - Draco Meteor
      - Protect
      Standard Mixed Salamence. You know... the one I've been using since this time last year. Salamence has really good Speed, and can hit pretty hard against a lot of Pokemon in the format. It also gets hit and taken out pretty hard if you aren't careful. Intimidate is extremely valuble against Pokemon such as Kangaskhan, Groudon, Ferrothorn, and Mawile. And Intimidate switch ins can make it so Xerneas cannot be OHKO'd by a physical attack, for the most part.
      There isn't too much to say about Salamence. I know that some people prefer to slide the ratio between Atk and SpA EVs on it, but I've always been a fan and user of full Special Attack, as Mence's usual role is to just deal damage indescriminately with Hyper Voice, before going for any precision KOs with Double-Edge or Draco Meteor.

      Xerneas @ Power Herb ***Tree Ocean
      Ability: Fairy Aura
      EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 148 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Dazzling Gleam
      - Moonblast
      - Geomancy
      - Protect
      A Happy Little Tree. There's not too much to say about Xerneas that you don't already know. At this point in the format, it's probably the most one-dimensional offensive Pokemon in terms of how its used. The one I have is EV'd to always survive 252 SpA Xerneas Dazzling Gleam + Moonblast. All you really need to know is that if you let Xerneas get a Geomancy unpunished, your chances of winning will likely be RUINED.
      Thanks to NEETscor for getting me the Xerneas.

      Talonflame @ Life Orb ***SwallowCowry
      Ability: Gale Wings
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Brave Bird
      - Flare Blitz
      - Quick Guard
      - Tailwind
      Priority Support/Attacker. Talonflame could really use a 5th moveslot so it can run Protect here, but it can sort of make it work without it. I tend to try to keep Talonflame in the back and use it to try to seal the game. Brave Bird and Tailwind are pretty much givens on the set as they are boosted priority with Gale Wings. Flare Blitz was necessary on the set because I did not want to have situations where Talonflame could be completely walled out of the battle by a Pokemon that had Quick Guard. Lastly, I had a Quick Guard of my own, as it allowed Talonflame to cover and support Xerneas in situations after I sacrificed Smeargle to get off a Geomancy boost.

      Espeon @ Choice Scarf ***HouraiElixir
      Ability: Magic Bounce
      EVs: 212 HP / 92 Def / 172 SpA / 4 SpD / 28 Spe  
      Modest Nature
      - Psychic
      - Trick
      - Charm
      - Dazzling Gleam
      Magic Mirror, XernSmeargle Tech. Now, finally, it's time to explain Espeon. Espeon has been part of my VGC 2016 team for a while now. I started with a Scarf set, switched to a set that had Twisted Spoon and Yawn as you can see here, and now back to a Choice Scarf set. For a "Big Six" style team, I chose to replace Kangaskhan with Espeon. The EV spread on Espeon allows it to survive either LO Adamant Brave Bird, Adamant spread Precipice Blades, or +2 spread Dazzling Gleam. The Speed gives it 134 stat makes it outspeed Crobat, and the Special Attack ensures that it will OHKO 252/4 Crobat with Psychic.
      As for Espeon's other moves, Trick is used to punish Geomancy setups, and can also be used to punish Trick Room set ups. TR setters seldom run Protect, so they are very vulnerable to having a Choice Scarf thrown onto them, forcing a switch and interupting with valuble TR turns. Charm may seem like a strange move for a scarf set, but it is necessary against something like Kangaskhan Smeargle, because if they just attack at Espeon and KO it, it will leave my ally vulnerable to a Dark Void. Charm can keep Espeon alive and neuter a lot of Kangaskhan or a physical Groudon's offensive strength, which also covers for me when I need to switch Espeon back out. Usually to Salamence to stack even more Atk drops. My last move was more or less a flavour move. My intent for having Dazzling Gleam was mostly in the case that I faced Weavile, as it would allow Espeon to be used as a way to pressure Weaviles as it outspeeds and 2HKO them with Dazzling Gleam.
      Espeon's primary role on the team is to disrupt and pressure against a lead Xerneas. I almost always pair it up with my Groudon in order to get this effect. If they bring a Fake Out user, they can either Fake Out my Espeon to stop Trick, but then get hit by Blades for half their HP. Or they can Fake Out Groudon, but then lose their Power Herb and be stuck on the move they select. There's definitely a bit of surprise factor in using Espeon. I banked a bit on the fact that the people who knew me, would expect it to still have a Twisted Spoon, while the people who didn't know would simply not know what to expect from Espeon beyond the fact that it cannot be hit with Dark Void.
      While there's a bit of wishful thinking to this, I'm pretty certain that at regionals, people didn't care that I had Espeon, and just brought Smeargle against me anyways. But I think I also felt that when playing at PCs and the IC, where games were bo1, people were less inclined to do so. Perhaps that was just a quirk of bo3 games.
      Overall
      Big Six - Kangaskhan + Espeon = Regional Winner, qed. The general matchups this team has against other teams is pretty similar to Big Six itself as you may expect. I think the RayOgre matchup may end up a bit weaker, but the mirror matchup is a bit better. Scarf Espeon can also be a pretty nasty surprise for people who think it was a good idea to use Crobat and Gengar as a Smeargle Xerneas answer, though I didn't run into any. This set up worked out just fine for me at Regionals, as I played Zero RayOgre teams until the Finals, and I fought a handful of Big Six teams.
      Common pairs:

      Xerneas Smeargle
      As one may expect, this is my go-to lead if I don't see anything that can threaten it. It is also my go to lead against a lot of Trick Room teams, and a few other team types. As I mentioned earlier, if you let Xerneas get its Geomancy off unpunished, it's usually not going to lead to a good time. Smeargle can also do a lot to help control the match, and make sure Xerneas is kept in good health and ability to wreak havoc at +2/+2/+2. I'll usually stick to using Fake Out and Follow Me, as they don't involve much in terms of making % odds plays, but it is also important for me to know when I have to throw out the Voids in order to remind people what they're dealing with, or at situations where I know I don't have much of a choice.

      Groudon Espeon
      Groudon Espeon is a lead I like to use when there is a Pokemon I want to disrupt with Espeon. So, Xerneas, Smeargle, Crobat, Gengar and various Trick Room setters tend to be the targets for this lead combo. I've already covered a bit of info about it in my Pokemon writeups, but Groudon Espeon puts a lot of pressure against lead Xerneas, and being able to neutralize Xerneas puts the battle way in my favour for dealing with the rest of a Big Six team. From what I can tell, this lead puts me in a workable situation regardless of what a Big Six player can throw at me, and the harder they commit to dealing with Groudon Espeon, the more vulnerable they will end up against me throw in the odd Smeargle Xerneas at them. Which can lead to some fun mindgaming when it comes down to bo3 mirror matches.

      Salamence Talonflame
      A lot of people seem to like leading Salamence Talonflame into a variety of situations but I've never really understood that as a lead, and seldomly use it. I do enjoy having both of these mons in the reserves when I'm battling though. Both mons provide a good way to enter into battle and maintain offensive momentum which is something I find very useful for how I tend to play my teams.

      Smeargle Talonflame
      This is a lead that usually gets involved when I have to face Weavile, and a few other fringe cases. This is the good old "I'll set up Tailwind, and be a scumbag and lock you down with Dark Void" strategy. It's not the cleanest, nor the most consistent, but it's something I can do to get the job done.

      Sample Matchup Info:
      Since I can't really go over the matches, instead I'll pertain some thoughts about how my team planned to approach for certain matchups.

      Mirror Match
      Originally, my plan for the mirror was to just go all in on Xern Smeargle, and hope I don't run into the Xern Smeargle Mirror, or a Kanga Smeargle lead. After going all of 1 game before someone tried to mirror lead me, I decided that was not something I should be doing. Groudon Espeon later became my go to lead for the matchup, with a pocket Xern Smeargle when I think I could catch them with it.

      RayOgre
      I felt like my RayOgre matchup was pretty tricky. It's one of those unique matches where I think both teams will feel like it's a bit of an uphill battle to win. In my case, I feel like if I can sneak in a quick KO, or get Geomancy up without sacrificing too much for it, the matchup quickly moves in my favour. But, if they can disrupt me from doing things, and keep me off my balance with Pokemon like Crobat, Weavile, Gengar, Ferrothorn, and Togekiss, things can get a bit messy.
      While you'd think that I would want to have Groudon to be able to get back the sun from Kyogre's fins, there are definitely somve variants of RayOgre where bringing Groudon simply ends up not the play, so it is important for me to not be too fixated on trying to bring Groudon to be able to get back my weather.

      Trick Room
      Trick Room teams really depend on who sets up Trick Room, and what is being used under TR. I've had a lot of experiences where I can shamelessly lead Xerneas and Smeargle against Cresselia + (not Kangaskhan/Smeargle) and pretty much play a flowchart and win.
      For Example:
      Smeargle + Xerneas vs Groudon Cresselia
      T1:
      Fake Out Groudon w/ Smeargle
      Xerneas uses Geomancy
      Cresselia uses Trick Room
      T2:
      Double Protect
      Groudon will use Blades, Cresselia will likely attack at Smeargle to cover the Dark Void
      T3:
      Switch out Smeargle for Salamence
      Groudon uses Blades, Xerneas loses about 40%
      Salamence gets hit by Cresselia but survives
      Attack with Xerneas
      T4:
      Protect with Xerneas
      Attack with Salamence
      If Salmanece survives it deals damange, if it gets KO'd send in Smeargle
      T5:
      Fake Out Groudon
      Moonblast and KO Cresselia
      Trick Room ends
      It may sound counterintuitive, but my strategy in this case is that I intentionally let the opponent set up Trick Room on turn 1. So that I can run off a flow chart and easily stall and waste through all their trick room turns. Then pretty much KO Cresselia on the last turn so that I have a Xerneas and Smeargle with free reign over the opponent's team.
      Things get more complex when Kangaskhan is involved, since I don't know at the start of the battle whether I'm dealing with a fast or slow Kangaskhan. I feel like my eventual conclusion was that I should still Fake Out Kangaskhan T1 with Smeargle, as strange as that sounds. I feel like it's the least risk way for me to try to determine Kangaskhan's speed, and in best of 3 that is sort of information is vital for me to find out early in the set.
      When stuff like Bronzong and Dialga get involved, things start to get a bit mixed around, and Smeargle Xerneas no longer becomes a solid opening lead. In those cases, using some combination of Groudon, Talonflame, Espeon, or Smeargle have been what I felt inclined to use.

      Gengar Crobat
      I will lead Xerneas and Smeargle, and get bopped in 2-3 turns. At least, that's what I kept doing on PS because I didn't really give it enough respect, despite knowing what was going to happen with it every time. Then again, that was before I added Scarf Espeon. so now days, my lead would probably be Espeon, and either one of Groudon, Salamence, or Talonflame.

      Thundurus Groudon
      This is another lead that can give Xerneas and Smeargle a lot of trouble if it is led against me, and probably depending on whether it is Protect Thundurus or not. It's one of the few times where I think I would lead Groudon + Salamence/Talonflame into a match if I think they'll lead with it.
      Closing Remarks
      Thanks for reading my report. A shoutout to the friends from BC, Washington state, Oregon, and California that I got to hang out with this weekend. Shoutouts to the "Remoroom". Thanks to Chinese Dood, for helping with driving down part of the way and to Firestorm for sharing the hotel room for the one night. Bo3 Swiss is God.
      A team with a Smeargle won 3/5 US Regionals. Big Six completely dominated the first Regional, but the people made a comeback and resisted against it until it won again on the last regional of the Winter set. If you were to ask me about what I think about the chances are for a potential Smeargle ban, I would feel like the odds are unfavourable towards the ban. Big Six started off extremely dominant, but looked like people adapted in short amount of time and things got a bit more relatively "contained" by the end of this cycle. That's not to say that it didn't still do well, or didn't still win events, but Smeargle, and Dark Void using teams looked very mortal. With that said, on the other hand I do highly believe that the ban will at least be reconsidered, whether it was winning events entirely is one thing, but there's definitely a few other factors to consider, and enough on the table such that the chances are not zero. It will be up to TPCi to go ahead and follow up on that Doble Dog Dare.
      Sadly, due to some exam scheduling, I'll be unable to attend Seattle Regionals, so until Nationals, good bye.
      "How's that?
      With this, your spell of eternal night shall be broken, and the dawn shall come!"
  • Recent Blog Posts

    • 2016 Australian VGC Regionals – Adelaide: Analysis and Usage Stats
      By PokeAus in PokeAus 1
      May 1st, saw the first of our 2016 Pokémon VGC Regional Championships take place in Adelaide! The event saw 71 Masters, 37 Seniors, and 13 Juniors compete for their respective championships. The Masters division had seven swiss rounds, with the first two rounds played in best-of-three sets, before time constraints saw the rest of the swiss rounds changed to a best-of-one format. Top Cut was played in best-of-three sets.
      Sam Pandelis went through the entire day without losing a single battle to become Australia’s first Regional Champion for 2016. His win in Adelaide means that Sam has now won 3 Regional Championships in his VGC career, the most of any Australian trainer, after going back-to-back in Melbourne back in 2013 and 2014. Sam defeated Josh Callister in an all Victorian final, while Luke Curtale was the best placed local with his top 4 finish.
      Today’s results will see a further five Australians qualify for a day 1 invitation to the World Championships, adding to the ten who are already above the 200 CP bar. Congratulations to Sam Pandelis, Martin Larumbe, Luke Curtale, Nicholas Bingham and Haris Sahovic on their achievement!
      In the Seniors Division, Hamish Davidson-McLeod took the championship, defeating Alfredo Chang-Gonzalez in the final, while Nicholas Kan continued his dominance of the Junior scene with his win in the Junior Division.
      FINAL – Sam Pandelis vs. Joshua Callister
       

       
      Top Cut Teams
      1. Sam Pandelis (@ZeldaVGC)
      M-Kangaskhan/Xerneas/P-Groudon/Salamence/Smeargle/Talonflame

      2. Joshua Callister (@JCalVGC)
      M-Salamence/P-Kyogre/Ferrothorn/Landorus-T/Thundurus-I/Dialga

      3. Luke Curtale (@Dawg_pkmn)
      Xerneas/P-Groudon/Smeargle/Cresselia/M-Kangaskhan/Talonflame

      4. Martin Larumbe (@BaseIN2)
      M-Kangaskhan/Xerneas/Groudon/Salamence/Smeargle/Talonflame
       
      Continue on PokeAus.com for top 8 teams, usage stats, and analysis...
    • VGC 2016: Post Midseason Thoughts
      By Jibaku in Fun Cave 4
      VGC 2016: Post Midseason Thoughts

      Midseason has just ended so I figured this would be a good time to post my opinions on this format before Spring regionals start (which I can't attend unless I can get a ride lol). Let me preface this by saying that, unlike what seems to be the vocal majority, I actually enjoy playing in VGC 2016. But it would be unwise to not notice the numerous game health flaws in this format. Regardless, this is a format that comes every once in a while - we haven't had a format like this since 2010, which I regretfully did not attend, and before that, 2006, which I did attend and was my first live tournament experience!

      But enough about that - let's get into what's right and what's wrong with VGC 2016 (from a personal standpoint, of course). I'll be covering metagame stuff, so issues like expensive entry fees and accessibility won't make an appearance.  Note that this isn't meant to be an argumentative piece or anything and is meant to be brief and somewhat casual, so take it as you wish. Quick reminder that I hardly played in the previous VGC formats - I only played in 2011, early 2012, and the end of 2015, so I don't really have a base of comparison.  That's not stopping me from posting about this meta, though.

      What I like about VGC 2016

      Let's start with the happy news shall we.

      Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, and Emphasis On Weather Wars

      Primal Groudon and Primal Kyogre are probably some of the most fun Pokemon to use, because they create a major contestable variable on the field - the weather. As a player, I value interactivity and nothing really does that more than these Pokemon. Controlling the weather leads to interesting mindgames on either side that's not always set every match and there are many ways to do it. Instead of complaining about how teams are often forced to carry at least one of these Pokemon, I've embraced their centralization and enjoyed what they brought to the table.

      Both Primal Kyogre and Primal Groudon bring a lot of flexibility to the table. With their insanely high stats across the board and their board control abilities, both primals offer a lot of flexibility in enabling various archetypes and in their EV spreads and usage. I may be forced to run one of them in various teams, but they're the ones enabling other options, so I don't really care lol. I'm not one to care about Pokemon diversity and I think that's just overrated, but I do value playstyle diversity. Can you imagine if something as inflexible as Xerneas had the same usage as Primal Groudon?  Could you expect a playstyle variety other than hyper offense? Do you think a metagame where only hyper offense exists would be fun to play?

      Oh yeah and this means that double primal is my favorite archetype. Go use this info against me in the NPA. Whatever.

      Depth and Growth of the Metagame

      Or at least relative to the early state of the metagame, VGC 2016 honestly really grew since the dark depths of Big 6 and RayOgre spam in December-January. While we did see experiments with Groudon/Palkia (Aaron's team), Ho-Oh stuff (Jon Hu and Kyogre/Ho-Oh tests), and Yveltal (which won't rise until later), we really didn't see much other than these 2. Big 6 was deemed unbeatable for a while and some people just gave up and left. But after the Big 6 infestation in  Virginia Top Cut, the metagame broke open. Double Primal, despite its early criticisms of anti-synergy, went into full force, eventually becoming the metagame's primary defensive archetype. Dialga's potency as a RayOgre counter and a solid tank overall was realized and rose. Also worth mentioning that Kyogre's EV spreads became noticeably bulkier around this time (FatOgre <3. Screw you Gavin). Yveltal's devastating Dark-type exploits and emphasis on stacking debuffs on enemies (or just hit stuff with its really power Dark STAB and surprising kill ranges) soon took hold as a soft counter to the two aforementioned defensive archetypes. Kyurem-W punctured holes in the metagame's overall weakness to Ice-type attacks, eventually solidifying itself as a Gravity abuser thanks to its powerful Blizzards. While this is all happening, Big 6 and RayOgre maintain their viability. We started with 2 major archetypes at the start of the season; we now have at least 4 (B6/Dual Primal/RayOgre/YvelDon) and a couple more that are trailing just behind them (Dialga/Ogre, Yveltal/Ogre, Kyurem-W/Groudon, Xerneas/Kyogre).

      The list doesn't end there. Palkia/Kyogre, Palkia/Groudon, Mewtwo/Groudon, Rayquaza/Xerneas, Kyurem-W/Kyogre, Rayquaza/Groudon. There are probably more I missed but these are worthy archetypes to also check out.  

      Tech versatility is also something that we saw during regionals, but I'm not covering them because there's a lot. There are just so many ways to synergize with the seemingly limited combinations of restricted Pokemon, and we're still discovering them! Careful to not confuse them with cheese or memes though. I will accept Bisharp as a fringe viable tech, but please don't run Golduck.

      Important to remember that Big 6 is still a strong archetype though. Please do not disrespect it.

      I Get to Use my Favorite Mons

      Well I have to point this out lol. These restricted mons are some of my favorite mons in the game, and being able to finally use them after years of absence just feels amazing! If the metagame were to ever go wrong, I'll have this to fall back on.

      What I Dislike About VGC 2016

      Let's face it - while I do enjoy playing in 2016, this metagame is stressful at times. Consistency can feel challenging, for example

      Putting Dark Void and Moody aside here, because the dislike for these two are almost universal so I'm not really adding much. I'll just briefly mention Mental Herb / Choice Scarf Smeargle here.

      I guess I could mention cheese sets in general, but this is more or less enabled by the combination of above and this thing right below.

      Geomancy (and I guess Xerneas and a little about Big 6)

      Ok this move's just silly. Playing as Xerneas forces you to devote too many resources to getting it set up or else it's useless, because the power difference between a boosted and unboosted Xern is so huge.  Playing against a well supported Xerneas requires a ton of pre-planning and basically scripted play (hello Big 6).  Playing a script is hardly competitive and is incredibly repetitive, but you kind of have to because Xerneas punishes a mistake or a miss harder than anything else in the game. Your plan against these teams have to be incredibly solid. If you execute that plan correctly, Xerneas could become more useless than virtually any other restricted mon, but make a mistake and it turns your team to dust. Oh and this is where cheese comes in, because sometimes these plans are so rigid that you don't have a lot of room to fix things if something were to go wrong. You got Thundurus to Taunt standard Smeargle? It would be a shame if it was holding a Mental Herb...

      Did I mention that Xerneas is inflexible? You pretty much can't have a defensive build with Xerneas on your team or it becomes suboptimal because so much of its power is tied to Geomancy. Making a balanced build is possible though, but that's probably as defensive as a Xern team will go. You can run bulky Xern if you want, although that hardly changes its playstyle - just some calcs (I do think bulky Xern is relatively unexplored though).

      Would I ban Geomancy? Probably not actually. In theory banning Geomancy will weaken Xerneas to a point where other Dragon-type restricted mons become viable enough to constantly keep the primals in check, while Xerneas itself will still maintain enough power to keep these dragons in check without going overboard. But that's all just theory - I'd rather not step into this gray area.

      I'm going to briefly mention here that Big 6 takes too many resources to check properly and I think it's the reason why team matchups can be frustrating in this format.

      tl;dr: Xerneas is an incredibly polarizing Pokemon and when it's consistent at its job it's basically overpowered beyond belief. If it's not doing it's job, it's a bad Pokemon. Oh and it's purely offensive, so its dominance leads to a hyperoffense centric meta. Which is bad for reasons I won't discuss. Thankfully it's not -that- dominant.

      Do I consider Xerneas overpowered? In terms of actual power, not any more than the primals. But its effects on the game are considerably more negative than the primals.

      Also I don't understand why Geomancy has a SpDef boost attached to it. +2 Spe and SpA already give Xerneas tons of power - does it also have to be immortal on the special side?

      Isn't it ironic how the "Life" Pokemon possesses the most destructive move in the game, while the "Destruction" Pokemon is the one that's annoying to take down?

      It does have a pretty animation though.

      Gravity/Sleep Spam

      Mostly refers to the Sableye/Gengar/Whimsi/Kyu/Groudon team. This setup kinda lives and dies by sleep turns since the mons tend to be frail and fast to quickly take advantage of the gravity turns. And when you deny Gravity from them they'll start firing inaccurate sleep moves/blizzards on you and try to decide the game on dice rolls.. Just not a fun team to face in general and I hope gamefreak looks into sleep mechanics in general once again. Sleep in general should be more reliable but less debilitating and also less RNG based.
      Team isn't borked by any means, just annoying.

      PBlade/OPulse Accuracy

      Self explanatory. Very game defining moves shouldn't be subject to accuracy checks. This is more of a minor thing but I have to mention it anyways.

      Closing Thoughts

      VGC 2016 is fun but requires some degree of masochism. Out of the years I've played (2011, early 2012, late 2015, and 2016), this is probably still my favorite overall despite  the roulettes and the monotonous experience facing the most common team in the format. Maybe I just like playing with the restricted mons that much to really care about the downsides?  I think I'm not the only person who shares this sentiment, though.

      From Stephen Morioka, when asked what his thoughts on the meta are,

      " Another important thing I don’t think players realize is how special this format is. This format allows for two restricted Pokémon to be on your team from a group of 15, such as Mewtwo, Groudon, and Kyogre. Normally, since they are so overpowered compared to other Pokémon, they are always sitting on the sidelines because they are not allowed to play in official formats. This year is only the 3rd time I’ve been able to use these Pokémon in a double battle format (the last two being in 2006 and 2010), so I am appreciating every second of this format because who knows, it may be another four to six years until we see these Pokémon in competitive play again."
      source: http://pokepress.blogspot.com/2016/04/pokemon-vgc-midseason-showdown.html

      As a JAA veteran, these words resonate with me incredibly well, and I do hope we'll see a return of this format sometime in the future. Probably not next year, and hopefully they'll make some game mechanic adjustments and make more Pokemon feel like they're worth the restricted slots (Zekrom!) whenever this type of format returns.

      One thing that bugged me more than the format's downsides is the amount of complaints over social media. I guess TPCi's promise to investigate Dark Void gave people an excuse to do this. Thank goodness that has died down. But now I wonder what would happen if Dark Void were to get banned. I think people would use the banning to justify about complaining other things as a precedence has been set, giving hope to ban more things in the future. That would be rather catastrophic, and in a sense I'm glad TPCi didn't do anything. I still want DV gone, but having partaken in Smogon's suspect tests, the threat of slippery slope banning is probably not something we want here. It was omnipresent in the BW OU suspect test era. That happening in VGC is a scary thought.

      But as long as I get to use my restricted mons, I'll still have fun . Don't touch my primals!
      PS: Yveltal is the best designed restricted mon from a competitive standpoint.
    • The Best Team I've Used in VGC Breakdown!
      By mirmirmir in Mir and VGC 3
      Hi everyone! In this post I'd like to show you the best Groudon/Palkia team that I have been able to build this season! After hours of searching NB for team inspiration and hundreds of matches, this is what I've found to be the most well rounded team! I will start with just showing all the sets and spreads and then explain how I use the team and what I lead against certain match ups! Going to try to keep the individual descriptions brief as I feel I don't have too much interesting to say on them. Also none of the spreads are really that well thought out on my part so any reccomendations for changes will be appreciated!

      Groudon @ Red Orb
      Ability: Drought > Desolate Land
      Brave Nature
      0 speed IV
      252Hp 188Atk 4Def 4SpAtk 60SpDf
      -Precipice Blades
      -Fire Punch
      -Eruption
      -Protect
      Best pokemon in the format. Being able to hit on both the special and physical side with 100+ base power moves is incredible. A well supported Groudon can sweep through any 4 pokemon. Spread survives a earth power from a timid 252SpAtk Groudon!

      Palkia @ Haban Berry
      Ability: Pressure
      Quiet Nature
      0 speed IV
      252Hp 68Def 184SpAtk 4SpDf
      -Spacial Rend
      -Earth Power
      -Trick Room
      -Protect
      Palkia's typing is what makes it my favorite trick room setter in the format! The water/dragon combo allows it to 4x resist water and fire attacks making it a reliable trick room setter and switch in to both primals! The spread allows it to survive a jolly 252Atk LO dragon's ascent from Mega Rayquaza and also has lived any dragon attack tossed at it because of the haban berry! While being a very defensive pokemon in my playstyle, it does 2hko Mega Mawile's biggest threat in Primal Groudon with earth power, and can even ohko with a helping hand boost from Cresselia!

      Mawile @ Mawilite
      Ability: Intimidate > Huge Power
      Adamant Nature
      0 speed IV
      252Hp 252Atk 4SpDf
      -Iron Head
      -Play Rough
      -Sucker Punch
      -Protect
      The fairy/steel typing gives me a reliable answer to Xerneas, Salamence and Kangaskhan, three of the most threatening big six members. Mawile can do 50% plus to everything not named Groudon, Ferrothorn or Bronzong in the format and even ohko uninvested Primal Kyogres at times.

      Cresselia @ Lum Berry 
      Ability: Levitate
      Sassy Nature
      9 Speed IV
      252Hp 252Def 4SpDf
      -Ice Beam
      -Skill Swap
      -Trick Room
      -Helping Hand
      The 9 speed IV allows me to underspeed my Groudon and opposing primals by 1 point and gives makes my skill swap go last against non 9 speed IV Cresselias. Although Cresselia doesnt offer offense against Xerneas like Bronzong does, I find it more reliable because it skill swap will always go after, making the double primal match up go much more in my favor. I've used magic coat and gravity over helping hand on Cresselia before. While magic coat itself is a gimmick, gravity is helpful for Groudon to sweep with precipice blades and supports the new member Smeargle's dark voids. However gravity does not support Mawile or Palkia much besides an accuracy boost to their already fairly accurate moves, and helping hand boosted play roughs and spacial rends are more valuable.

      Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
      Ability: Iron Barbs
      Brave Nature
      0 Speed IV
      252Hp 220Atk 36SpDf
      -Power Whip
      -Gyro Ball
      -Leech Seed
      -Protect
      The most expendable member of my team but no slouch by any means. That kinda rhymed. Ferrothorn has basically been Xerneas deterrent at team preview (as if I needed more already) and a niche mon against Kyogre/Xerneas teams. I enjoyed seeing how Wolfe Glick used it as a win condition on his Florida regional winning team and decided to throw it on the squad to give me another Kyogre switch in. Gyro ball ohkos boosted Xerneas and power whip ohkos uninvested Kyogres.

      Smeargle
      Ability: Own Tempo
      Relaxed Nature
      0 Speed IV
      252Hp 252Def 4SpDf
      -Dark Void
      -Crafty Shield
      -Wide Guard
      -Spiky Shield
      The missing piece to my puzzle. I had always struggled to find a pokemon that could deal with pranksters, status and Smeargle, while also giving me some offensive support under trick room. I needed a mon to allow me to get up trick room safely, and that mon is Smeargle. It forces players to lead differently, pressures them to play differently, and I love it. For months I was a victim of playing an anti-smeargle playstyle. If I saw it I was immediately shook and would lead my prankster mon to only get my taunt crafty shielded away. So now I am one with the Smeargle, and I have never felt more comfortable in VGC. This set lives a minus 1 Kang double edge and lives a +0 power up punch. Own tempo over moody for consistent speed.
       
      Ok now that all that stuff is out of the way time for how I play the team and some match ups.
       
      The strategy to this team is to get trick room up with either  or  as safely as possible so that  and  can do so much damage to the opponent's team that there is nothing left for them to double protect with on that final trick room turn. There is a few ways this can happen. Often I can bait out attacks onto a pokemon that puts more pressure on the opponents pokemon than my trick room setter. For instance, yesterday vs a 1,786 ranked player, I lead  and  while my opponent lead and . I knew that they fully understood I was going for an immediate trick room and that Weavile and Rayquaza were his best threats to both of my setters. I know I can live a fake out and dragon's ascent with Palkia but had no desire to do so while getting nothing in return. Smeargle allowed be to bait a feint and dragon's ascent into that slot, where I switched in Mawile to get off an intimidate and absorb the two resisted attacks. Mawile took 30% combined and Palkia got up trick room unharmed. This resulted in a clean 3-0 sweep.
       
      A lot of times with this team the match will be decided on a turn 1 prediction, rewarding whoever makes the better read. However, the bulk on all of my pokemon allow me to make a mistake and still be able to bounce back. Another instance of this that I recall was in a match against a player named Berserker, who was at a rank of 1,870 or so when I faced him. He used the big six, a match up I was all too familiar with. 90% of the time a big six player will lead  and . From what I understand they realize that if I lead Cresselia they can fake out and eruption to make cresselia getting up trick room the next turn impossible, they can double-edge and precipice blades Palkia for a KO, and Mawile and Groudon don't want to be outside of trick room vs Groudon. Knowing this, I decide to lead  and . This is gives me a lot of options if I predict their lead wrong, but most importantly threatens their Groudon in two ways on the first turn. It is a bit of a mind game on what will be done that first turn but if I predict correctly I can almost instantaneously win the match. Against Berserker I had 3 plays I could make. Helping hand precipice blades expecting a fake out onto Cress and an eruption, precipice blades and trick room which is a more mid ground play, or switch in Palkia to absorb the eruption and fake out while precipice blading with Groudon. None of my options involved protecting my Groudon because I knew that the bigger and more obvious threat was a trick room from my Cresselia and in a bo1 you can always count on them to anticipate the obvious protect and trick room play. The play of switching Palkia into Cresselia and firing off a pblades is what I decided on and it worked immaculately. He fake out and erupted doing 30% or so to both of my mons while precipice blades did 70% to his Groudon and Kangaskhan. I then switched Cresselia into Groudon to take the earth power and protected Palkia. He earth powered into levitate and double-edged into the protect and with that, he had no way of keeping his Groudon safe while also koing Cresselia before I could get up trick room. He switched his Groudon into his Smeargle taking an earth power and he double edged Cresselia, I took it as he saw Palkia as Xerneas food later.
       
      Despite me not taking a KO in the first three turns, the game was ultimately won for me. Using Cresselias ability paired with Groudon and Palkia's typing and bulk makes it an extremely difficult core to break. Alongside Mawile and Smeargle there is nothing that can take down a well played excecution of trick room. Sure his Smeargle could have been min speed but his only option was to fake out Palkia with Smeargle in order to stall out trick room, lum berry Cresselia would have kod his Smeargle with ice beam whether he dark voided or not and I did pick up the KO on that 4th turn with ice beam. At that point he picked up a KO granting me a free switch into Mawile to clean up.
       
      I know I only described two matches and two match ups in all of that but I feel that if you can understand the concept of this team's defense being its offense, it will work for you.
       
      This team rewards good play and prediction. Even if you make the wrong play the bulk will save you! It's saved me too many times to count. You will always want to lead a trick room user along side either Smeargle, Groudon or Mawile. Every match I have ever played I have brought Groudon and Mawile. Palkia isn't neccesary vs big six and a lead that also works is Smeargle Cresselia. Spiky shield trick room turn 1 if they lead Kang/Smeargle. If Cress gets faked out and lum berry gets burned a crafty shield and trick room should guarentee a free switch into Groudon and 4 turns of sweeping. If they lead something other than Kang/Smeargle wide guard should be able to guarentee a safe trick room and worst comes to worst you lose Smeargle. Since Groudon can 1v4 any combo of big six in trick room the game shouldn't be too tough to win. Helping hand boosted attacks + ice beam for Salamences makes Cresselia Smeargle a more threatening lead than you may think.
       
      I hope whoever reads this article learns something and it wasn't a complete waste of your time! Any constructive criticism and feedback is greatly appreciate:! If you think I should add more sprites and a section of my match ups against every team in the meta from Gravity Spam to KyVeltal let me know!
    • The Buff Axolotl: Swampert! VGC '16 Quick Reviews
      By AmaanVGC2003 in My VGC Analyses 0
      THE BUFF AXOLOTL

       
      Welcome to VGC '16 Quick Reviews! This series is a analysis series on Pokémon you suggest. This week, it is Mega Swampert!
       
      STATS: 100 HP / 150 Atk / 110 Def / 95 SpA / 110 SpD / 70 Spd 
      ABILITY: Swift Swim
      KEY MOVES: Wide Guard, Protect, Earth Power, Earthquake, Waterfall, Ice Punch
      With a high attack stat, it is obvious that it is a physical attacker. This Pokémon's HP and special defense stat also make it bulky like its appearance. It is not the fastest Pokémon but if you have a rain user, its speed will increase thanks to Mega Swampert's ability, Swift Swim. Its defense also adds to its bulkiness. Its ability, Swift Swim increases the Pokémon speed in the rain, as previously stated. 
       
      SAMPLE SET:

      Swampert @ Swampertite
      Ability: Damp
      EVs: 108 HP / 252 Atk / 148 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Waterfall
      - Earthquake
      - Ice Punch
      - Protect
       
      DEFENSIVE CALCULATIONS AND OFFENSIVE CALCULATIONS:
      Spoiler Defensive:
      252 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 108 HP / 0 Def Mega Swampert: 135-159 (71.4 - 84.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 108 HP / 0 Def Mega Swampert: 100-118 (52.9 - 62.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 108 HP / 0 Def Mega Swampert: 157-187 (83 - 98.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 108 HP / 0 SpD Mega Swampert: 102-120 (53.9 - 63.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      Offensive:
      252+ Atk Mega Swampert Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Dialga: 134-158 (64.7 - 76.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Mega Swampert Waterfall vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Talonflame: 218-260 (141.5 - 168.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ Atk Mega Swampert Waterfall vs. 248 HP / 0 Def Smeargle: 183-216 (113.6 - 134.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ Atk Mega Swampert Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Mega Mawile: 132-156 (84 - 99.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       
      OVERVIEW:
      As you can see, this set can survive many attacks from really powerful Pokémon and KO some powerful Pokémon. This Swampert can survive a Percipice Blades from Primal Groudon, a Dragon Ascent from Mega Rayquaza, a Moonblast from Xerneas, and finally a Double-Edge from a Mega Salamence. On the offensive side, This set can OHKO Talonflame and Smeargle while 2HKO-ing Mega Mawile and Dialga. The good thing is that Waterfall is going to be boosted in the rain, and obviously you would be running Mega Swampert with a Pokémon that can summon rain like Politoed and Primal Kyogre. This added boost to Waterfall will deal more damage to your opponents possibly win you the game. Earthquake is vital move to have on Swampert and no Swampert is complete without it and Waterfall.
       
      TEAM OPTIONS AND COUNTERS:
      TEAM OPTIONS:
       Swampert needs rain
       Scare away those pesky Grass types
       Support and helps fill in Swampert's lack of priority
       
      COUNTERS:
       Replaces the rain with harsh sunlight
      The pesky Grass types will OHKO Swampert
       Intimidate will nerf all of Swampert's moves
       
      That's it! Thank you for reading the first installment in the VGC '16 Quick Review. Next week will be your suggestion so leave them in the comments. 'Til next time, see ya
       
       
       
       
    • The Best Team I've Used in VGC 2016
      By mirmirmir in Mir and VGC 8
      Yes I know this team was featured on Pokemon.com's sample teams or whatever but I started experimenting with Groudon/Palkia way before I knew what Nugget Bridge and pokemon.com was. We will get to that later, but first the early roots of the squad and how it eventually came to be.
       
      The team started as:

      It was super inconsistent. Maybe it was magic coat Cresselia as my dark void counter, or Groudon lacking an 100% accurate move. All I know is I somehow managed to reach a rank of 1,864 on battlespot in my first ever season of VGC. The idea of the team was to use bulk to get up trick room and then sweep through as quick as possible with solid prediction as nothing can survive an onslaught from both Mawile and Groudon/Palkia.
       
      I met a VGC player from South America named Farah while laddering on showdown. After beating him in a match he complimented my team and explained how he did not have a team that he was comfortable with using for his upcoming tournament. He then explained how the tournament was in 12 hours so I decided, at 3am, to spend 4 hours straight practicing and play-testing different variants of the squad. eventually we added  for fake out and quash support alongside prankster taunt. He went on to miss top cut at the tournament sadly. He lost the last match of swiss where his Palkia got frozen turn 1, never unthawing. While the team showed promise in its full trick room style, Farah explained that with the meta it was probably better to build a semi-trick room version of the team.
       
      This lead to the edition of and . I obtained a telepathy Palkia which I evd to outspeed both primals outside of trick room. I used grass knot, taunt, encore Whimsicott and a mixed Hasty natured Landorus-T with a life orb. I used explosion on Lando for boom room and prefered protect over u-turn as he baited a lot of fake outs. It might sound silly to use earth power with telepathy Palkia but I wanted to be able to hit opposing Groudon if I wound up with Lando next to Mawile. I never wanted to be in a situation where I was forced into a protect just to earthquake. The additions of Whimsicott and Landorus felt like a step backwards for the squad as did the change to Timid Palkia. However I did not give up on the semi-trick room idea just yet.
       
      Although Whimsicott is my favorite pokemon, I felt that the addition of  was better overall for the squad as it allowed me to use earthquake on Landorus and offered another option of speed control. I know Whimsicott offered a speed control option in tailwind (and cotton spore lol) but Ive never been a fan of tailwind wars and wasn't willing to change my Groudon's nature and spread to hit certain speed benchmarks. Thundurus helped a lot against Ray-Ogre and paired with Landorus gave me a more polished fast mode to the team. I got to around 1,700 on battlespot with the squad but was still not comfortable with Timid Palk and banded Landorus was just Yveltal food. Not to mention the lack of protect meant no more baiting fake outs.
       
      I was at a crossroads. I was going to scrap the team entirely and just retire the members to my Hall of Fame box in my PC but then I stumbled upon Draconid's Team Framework Discussion. Well I didn't exactly stumble upon it I had followed it and refered back to it plenty of times during the season for inspiration but had never realized the potential in the Pokemon.com sample Groudon/Palkia team. It reminded me of a conversation I had with William Bassooino, at least I think it was him maybe my memory is failing me. Anyways after a match on showdown we got into an arguement. I don't remember who won but I do recall him using big six, which is what certainly sparked some controversy. We exchanged some foul language and arguments but then settled down and discussed VGC. I was amazed to find out he was a player who has top cut with Palkia, a pokemon I've been criticized for using on showdown plenty of times. He told me that a well played big six was the best team in the game and that not using Smeargle was putting yourself at a disadvantage, or something like that. Basically the most important thing I took from our argument/convo was that I should stop preaching ban smeargle and just use the bidoof beagle.
      So that led to the current version of my Groudon/Palkia team.
       

       
      The exact team created by Pokemon.com. It is kind of embarassing to spend 5-6 months playing and developing a team to wind up using something created so early on in the format by none other than the format creators themselves but its still not as bad as using big six. In my mind at least.
      Smeargle adds everything the team has ever lacked and everything I ever needed to be able to make the core of Groudon, Palkia, Mawile as dominant as possible. relaxed natured min speed Smeargle with crafty shield, wide guard and dark void allows me to protect both of my trick room setters from attacks and taunts while also providing dark void pressure the very next turn. A solid turn 1 prediction on my end can reward me with putting both of their pokemons to sleep while granting me a free switch or uncontested offense.
       
      I know I don't go in depth really at all with how the team works and why its worked for me so well so I will post an article featuring the team breakdown along with their sets and natures and evs and ivs and all that stuff. The synergy in this team is really awesome in my opinion.
       
      Hope you enjoyed this stupidly long post from a player whos greatest accomplishment was beating Colin Heir on battlespot the night before a Regional.
       
      S/O to Will Bassolino if that was you on showdown, I've only smeargle on the team for two days but the improvement in playing with this team is incredible.
       
      Thanks to whoever reads this mess, constructive criticism is appreciated. Don't roast me fam.
    • Teams & Results from US MSS Maryland 4/30/2016
      By Nucleose in Beneath the Surface 6
      33 Masters
      1. Adam DeMarchi

      2. Andrew Davis (felixthecatyo)

      3. Joohwan Kim AKA Sun Dude (welliforgot)

      4. Dan Levinson (dtrain)

      5. Yan Rodriguez (Nucleose)

      6. Jancarlo Samayoa

      7. Justin Carris (Azazel)

      8. Zach Meadway (Meadwag)
       
       
    • ICPA Top 8 Playoff Preview
      By ICPA Writer in The International Collegiate Pokemon Association 2
      Greetings Nugget Bridge!
      Amidst Regionals preparations and the Japanese qualifiers, the ICPA is also entering its quarter-final round! We have the top 8 schools competing for the ICPA championship, culminating in June! Who's playing? Well:

      University of Michigan vs. University of California - San Diego
      This round will see the University of Michigan take on the University of California - San Diego. The big story entering this round is that Michigan is looking to continue an undefeated streak that's lasted all season, while UCSD forges its path towards a return to the ICPA finals. Last round Michigan had a well-earned BYE, and so will look to get back into the swing of things. Meanwhile, UCSD took down the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, a team that managed its first playoff berth this season after a strong Spring Series.
      These two are no strangers to the playoffs, as Michigan qualified last year only to drop out in the Top 8, losing to another Californian school in the University of California Berkeley. Berkeley could very well be waiting for Michigan in the finals, so they can consider this their first hurdle towards revenge. San Diego has the same motivation, looking to meet regional rivals for the first time since last year's Top 4.
      Both of these schools are returning from last year's Top 8, but only one will move on to the Top 4. Michigan has all the momentum right now, but it's hard to sell last year's finalists short.
      The smart money is on: Whoo, this one is close, but I give the edge to Michigan. Going undefeated doesn't stand for nothing, but San Diego's Spring record may not be indicative of their true VGC 2016 potential.
      University of New South Wales vs. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico
      Both of these teams took down their higher-seeded opponents to make it this far; for UNSW it was a rematch with the University of Victoria, whilst UNAM got to face the 4th-ranked University of Waterloo.
      UNSW qualified for the ICPA playoffs thanks to a strong Fall Series performance, and then struggled in the Spring Series. But, they qualified in the Fall by taking a strong victory against UVic in their Fall Series match; a match that ended up being the deciding tiebreaker in playoff invitations. After the Spring, UVic had earned its chance for revenge with a strong Spring Series, but UNSW smacked them down once more cementing themselves as an opponent not to be trifled with. The pride of Australia rides with UNSW's playoff run, and while their main season record is nothing to write home about, neither was last year's eventual winners the University of North Texas.
      However, these schools met in the Spring where UNAM scored a strong 4-1 victory. UNAM are seeing just how far they can take Mexico these playoffs, hoping to meet fellow Mexican representatives Instituto Politecnico Nacional in the finals. UNAM's only loss this year was to the University of Calgary, but managed to overcome the University of California Berkeley in their first match of the season. The level of intensity in this Spring Series' Group B is yet to be determined, but all we can really say is that every team with an invite from Group B has earned their way to the Top 8. UNAM have a lot to prove, but they clearly started out in a competitive group that could prime them for a deep playoff run.
      The smart money is on: Another tough call, but I think UNAM is going to take this one. UNSW has done well to make it this far, but stringing together back-to-back wins isn't something the team has shown they're capable of. 
      University of California Berkeley vs. University of North Texas
      The last time these schools played was in the Fall Series, when UCB won with a convincing 4-1 victory. Both are returning from last year's Top 4, which means that one team will get to play the spoiler to the other's finish this year.
      Berkeley was one of four teams to earn a playoff invite in two consecutive series'. As a result, they entered this Top 8 by virtue of a BYE, and will want to get their heads back into the game as they prepare to reach for the championship. Both series' saw Berkeley post commanding but not infallible records, as UCB managed a 4-1 series record in both the Fall and Spring. What's true of UNAM is true of UCB, the Spring Series' Group B has done well thus far and UCB can hopefully take that experience into this round.
      Meanwhile, the University of North Texas is no stranger to playing the part of the underdog. Last year UNT earned their way to the playoffs off of only a 50% W/L record, and then went on to shatter expectations en-route to becoming the ICPA's first champion school. This Fall they had a rough time but seem to have bounced back during the Spring.
      Both schools posted strong records in the Spring and both have shown they have what it takes to earn a deep playoff run. Who will triumph and who will fall short?
      The smart money is on: You can tell it's the Top 8 because there are no easy calls to make, but I'm going to give the advantage to Berkeley by a hair. UCB has been consistent all year, but UNT did earn their invitation from an equally tough Spring Series Group.
      University of Strathclyde vs. Instituto Politecnico Nacional
      Both newcomers to the ICPA, one is set to make their mark on the Top 4 and cement themselves as a powerhouse school in the following year.
      Strathclyde earned their way to the Top 8 by taking two back-to-back invitations in the East. The team fell to Rochester in the Fall, and then to Michigan in the Spring. However they took out former playoff-qualifiers and regional rivals in Oxford in both the Fall and Spring, and held back UNC-CH in the Fall as well. It's no secret that Strathclyde and Michigan were dominating forces in Group C this Spring, but how that translates to the playoffs is another story all together. It'll be interesting to see if Strathclyde can pull off victories against ever-more formidable opponents.
      Instituto meanwhile stormed into the playoffs off of a strong 5-0 record in the Spring, and made their way to the Top 8 by ousting fellow Mexican representatives in Monterrey. There's nothing to critique about an undefeated ICPA record, and IPN seems poised for a deep playoff run. However their Spring Series record leaves a bit to be determined. While it's true that they went undefeated, IPN never had to face a playoff-qualifying school outside of UNSW.
      The smart money is on: This match is a toss-up for an entirely different reason. Each previous match has discussed the accomplishments of teams, whilst this matchup remains mysterious precisely because of a lack of information. Regardless, I say the smart money is on IPN. While it's true that they never faced stiff competition in Group B, they also won their matches by convincing margins.
      In Conclusion
      The Top 8 is the proving ground for any ICPA contender. Whosoever wins here advances to the Top 4, a finish that cannot be ignored. This is the round where teams will leave their mark on the organization. Last year's Top 4 were the University of North Texas, the University of California - San Diego, The University of Victoria, and the University of California - Berkeley. Each of those schools qualified for the playoffs this year, and most advanced to this very Top 8. Indeed, the victors of this round will be favourites to qualify next year, and will go down as teams to watch out for next year.
      So who should we watch out for next year? Stay tuned to the ICPA playoffs to find out! Subscribe to this blog and be sure to check out the ICPA Youtube Channel for featured matches! Also be sure to follow the bracket predictions here!
      ~ICPA Writer
    • Rev's Niche Corner: Walrein
      By RevRush in Rush's Blog 6
      Hp: 110, Atk: 80, Defense: 90, Sp. Atk: 95, Sp. Def.: 90, Speed: 65
      With high amounts of Hp, solid defenses, a nice special attack, and lackluster speed Walrein primarily plays a support role here in VGC 2016, but can sometimes go on the offensive. Walrein has a more limited movepool that includes (bolded moves may have more usage):
      Icy Wind, Ice Beam, Super Fang, Sheer Cold, Encore, Roar, Blizzard, Surf, Rock Tomb, Yawn, Belly Drum, Avalanche, Substitute Walrein comes equipped with Thick Fat as well which means that he can easily switch into a fire punch or protect one of your precious dragons from getting hit by an ice type move. It's Ice/Water typing means that if a Kyogre isn't carrying Thunder it really will have no means of damaging Walrein. Icy Wind is one of the best moves that Walrein carries as it lowers the speed of its opponent and allows your partner Pokemon (mainly primal) to outspeed your opponent. Since Walrein is typically living more than a turn, Super Fang will halve the Hp allowing for quick kos. Due to its slower speed, Walrein thrives with a Trick Room member to allow it to get off Ice Beam, Super Fang, or another support move like Encore or to roar a boosted Xerneas. Threats to Walrein include the ever present Ferrothorn, Low Kick from Mega Kangaskhan, Rock Slides (without a flinch you can take out many Rock Sliders though), and electric users like Raichu. 
      During the Winter Regionals, Walrein was used by Samuel Haarsma (DrFidget) get 5th in the Oregon Regionals with the following set:

      Walrein @ Assault Vest  
      Ability: Thick Fat  
      EVs: 132 HP / 172 Def / 204 SpA  
      Modest Nature  
      - Icy Wind  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Sheer Cold  
      - Super Fang
      Some relevant calculations:
      Spoiler With 0 IVs in Speed the primals Speed is 95, Walrein's is 85, one Icy Wind will bring the speed down to 64 allowing you to outspeed them
      With 31 Ivs in Speed and 16 Evs in Speed the Primals Speed is 112, one Icy Wind will bring the speed down to 75 allowing you to still be faster
      With 31 Ivs in Speed and 252 Evs in Speed (no speed boosting nature) the Primals speed is 142 and you will need two Icy Winds to drop the speed to 71 allowing you to outspeed
      0+ SpA Walrein Ice Beam vs. 252 HP / 252 SpD Landorus-T: 196-232 (100 - 118.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO (it OHKO's no matter what the stats are)
      252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 70-84 (34.6 - 41.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
      252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Low Kick (100 BP) vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 168-200 (83.1 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 153-183 (75.7 - 90.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 132-156 (65.3 - 77.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Primal Groudon Rock Slide vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 82-98 (40.5 - 48.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
      252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 99-117 (49 - 57.9%) -- 95.7% chance to 2HKO
      252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Thunder vs. 132 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Walrein: 128-152 (63.3 - 75.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Life Orb Talonflame Brave Bird vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 99-117 (49 - 57.9%) -- 95.3% chance to 2HKO
      204+ Atk Ferrothorn Power Whip vs. 132 HP / 172 Def Walrein: 158-188 (78.2 - 93%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      204+ SpA Walrein Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Yveltal: 134-158 (66.6 - 78.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      204+ SpA Walrein Ice Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Thundurus: 158-188 (101.9 - 121.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      Without knowing the EV's on this set, I decided to play around and ended up with this. The build was designed to live through an Adamant M-Kangaskhan Low Kick and to survive a Jolly Life Orb M-Rayquaza Dragon Ascent, with the rest of the EV's going into boosting its Special attack to increase damage output. Working with a Primal (espcially Primal Groudon), Icy Wind allows you to lower the speed of opposing Pokemon ensuring you to win the speed tie (by possibly protecting the primal for a turn) or helping chip away damage at the many flying & dragons types that are present. Super Fang can allow you to bring an opponent down to half health and with the help of Icy Wind + a partner most Pokemon cannot live through this barrage. Ice Beam is there to maximize damage output and really puts a dent into anything weak against it. Sheer Cold was on this original set, but honestly I would replace it with a more powerful move like Blizzard, or Possibly with Water Pulse/Surf for some water damage. As mentioned previously partners like (<- that was its partner in the original team) that can use Trick Room can help turn the tables for Walrein to increase its damage output. Be wary of and even (Walrein cannot really damage it) as they will spell trouble for it! 
      This is merely one set that highlights Walrein and its usefulness. It possess the capability to dish out some damage but works well supporting legendaries to allow them to finish off the opponent. Hope you enjoyed the spotlight, let me know what Pokemon I should do next!
      -RevRush (Also have a YouTube Channel where I tried it out too!)
    • PC - Top 4 with Mew2
      By Keonspy in Keonspy's blog 5
      Hello everyone,
       
      Welcome to my first blog post on Nuggetbridge.
      So on the first of May (also my birthday) there was a PC held in Leiden the Netherlands. There where a total of 9 masters and 1 senior. Which is average for Dutch counts. So knowing 
      we only had a top 4 I had to take it all to get as many CP as I can get. Knowing my fellow Dutch VGC players, I knew they don't gave presents, so I had to take every game serious. Even though it was my birthday. 
       
      The team I took to that PC was shamelessly stolen from our Robot; Aaron "Cybertron" Zheng's youtube battlespot serie. The problem was that I didn't know any sets so I had to make them myself. But that wasn't hard because I took the lazy route and slapped 252 on the right places. I will explain later why and what I used but first let me tell you guys about the PC.
       
      So I didn't take any notes, so it will be of my memory. The reason I don't take notes is because the distract me, and the times I do take the time to write that down I wont look at it again, so a bit pointless in my eyes. But with 9 masters we had 4 rounds of Swiss. 
       
      Round 1
      He brought: 
      I brought:  
       
      So he was a here for the first time and hadn't played pokemon for a long time. And his friend have a team with a short explanation. It was a Trick Room Alakazam which caught me of guard but I manage to set up gravity with Mewtwo and sweep with Groudon, he made it really easy for me by not mega'ing his Mawile. The Machamp almost ruined my 4-0 with a confusion on Groudon after Dynamic Punch.
      1-0
       
      Round 2
      He brought:
      I brought:  
       
      So this guy comes to most PC's but I never managed to play him like ever. So I had no idea how or what he plays. With that in mind and seeing his team I go with the same lead as he leads Talonflame and Groudon. I expect a Tailwind and a protect from him so I switch my Groudon out for Salamence. But he goes for Brave Bird on my Mewtwo and a Precipice Blade. Mewtwo survives both hits and KO's the Talonflame with a hefty Psystrike. From there on I need to save my Mewtwo to set up gravity for later so I switch it out for Ferrothorn. I try to set up a sub with Salamence but he just goes for a Double Edge and a Precipice Blades again. After this I don't remember what happens next but I do win the speed tie in the end and end the game.
      2-0
       
      Round 3
      He brought:
      I brought:  
       
      So he had an Yveltal and I never played an Yveltal with this team, but it must be a bad matchup because 1) Mewtwo can't do grimer to it and 2) Foul Play Swagger does a lot of damage to everything that isn't Xerneas. So he leads Kang Xern and I lead Gengar Lando. I decide I go for the Perish mode this game, I try to U-turn out with Lando but he got Fake'd Out. Then he switches Xern out for Yveltal and that is good for me. So I didn't know what Yveltal I was dealing with so I go for hypnosis on it and hope for the best. It misses and he goes for a Snarl on Gengar, it lives (thankfully). Next turn I just go for Hypnosis again but he protects. Perish went down and took the Kang and Yveltal with it, I lost Lando in the switching proces and now had a 3-2 lead. But he has a Xerneas and a Thundurus left. I predict him to protect his Xerneas and a T-wave on my Gengar. But he taunted my Gengar while I protected, Rock  Tomb missed his Thundy and he goes for Geomancy, well at this point Ferrothorn can only win if he crits the Xern, but that doesn't happen and I lose. 
      2-1
       
      Round 4
      She brought:
      I brought:  
       
      So she leads with Smeargle and Kangaskhan, and that was a good lead for me, so Perish Trap was the plan again. So I U-turn the Smeargle and tried to Perish Song but Kang Fake'd me out so that wasn't happening. Smeargle Dark Voids, hit both and now the waiting game begins. So I switch Ferro and Lando out to spam intimidate till I wake up my Gengar. So it does wake up eventually and I set up Perish Song, but the smeargle got all the good boosts so that was a bit scary. I had to switch out my Gengar because I didn't want it to be asleep, I was fearing a Xerneas in the back. But that was not the case because she had Talonflame and Kyogre in the back. From here on out, I manage to win more speed ties and Ko the mons.
      3-1 
       
      3rd seed in Top Cut where I play my biggest Rival in the Netherlands... 000aj.
       
      So he had big 6 ( ) with him and that kinda rekt me in top cut.
       
       

       
      Mewtwo @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Pressure  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Protect  
      - Psystrike  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Gravity  
       
      Mewtwo the star of this team, it saved me countless of times so far. We are unseparatefull. His strong force to let all flying and levitate Pokémon stick to the ground is just too good. Mewtwo is also really fast and that helps him a lot. Threatening Salamence and Crobat from turn 1 is just the reason to use it. The sash is nice because you can 2hko xern without any problem, as long you keep that sash alive. 

      Groudon @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Protect  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Rock Tomb  
      A fast Groudon paired with a fast Gravity user sounds like fun right? It really is. Never fearing of missing is something I don't want to miss in my life. Rock Tomb is a way to avoid speed ties, if you predict a switch in, or not.  

      Gengar @ Gengarite  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 68 SpA / 168 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Protect  
      - Perish Song  
      - Sludge Bomb  
      - Hypnosis  
      So what is even more fun to use with a fast Gravity user... Yes Hypnosis. Best part is, they can't switch because of the trap. You now can safely sing your way to victory. With this set you don't have to be scared to lose your own speed tie with Mewtwo in mega because it's not max speed. It at least outspeed mega Salamence. But Weavile is also a nice benchmark.

      Salamence @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 36 Atk / 220 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature  
      - Protect  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Substitute  
      Pretty standard mixed Salamence, until the part of substitute, after this PC Tailwind might have been better, but I forgot to put it on it. 

      Landorus-Therian (M) @ Choice Band  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - U-turn  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Earthquake  
      - Explosion  
      Well what can I say here... Explosion does a lot of damage, but you also lose your mon. Intimidate is nice, Choice Band is nice. Fainting from a random HP (n)Ice is nice.

      Ferrothorn @ Leftovers  
      Ability: Iron Barbs  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 100 Def / 156 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Protect  
      - Power Whip  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Leech Seed  
      Wow did you really use 0 attacks ev's on your Ferrothorn?
      Yes I did.
      Can it KO a boosted Xerneas?
      No it can't. But it does a good job at Xerneas and Kyorge, plus some more. 
       
      Oke this was my first blog post, hope you like it!
      If you have questions? You can put them down below. But I wont Answer them.
      Also Shout-Out to the best Jamie, Jamie Kean! He has a Youtube channel too! But with horrible intro's
       
      Keonspy out.
    • 20160430Taiwan PC Top 8 Teams
      By JohnSunTW in John Sun's VGC at Taiwan 4
      Hi everyone. 0430 was the sixth PC game in Taiwan at Taipei, and I want to share TOP 8 teams to everyone.
      67 players competed at the event. 7 Swiss Rounds took place on Saturday 30th .
      Here is the teams~
      1.太郎(TOOOT)

      2.小限量(Tommy)

      3. 孟航(Meng-Hang Wu)

      4.★???★

      5. 胖丁(Jigglypuff)

      6. いすみ

      7. 李承峰(Cheng Feng Lee )

      8. 狂暴龍

       
      And here is the MS game's broadcast:
      game1: 2:34:30
      game2: 3:04:04
      game3: 3:29:00
      game4: 3:55:06
      game5: 4:27:00
      game6: 4:51:20
      game7: 5:15:41
      quarter-final: 6:08:27
      semi-final: 6:47:17
      final: 7:29:02
       
      Thanks for your watching.