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    • By Unreality in Unreality 7
      (From left to right: Duy, pre-commentary, Aaron Zheng, and me, although that last one is a little hard to tell.)
      A Horse with No Name


      Hello, friends! My name is Aaron Traylor. I placed second at the Pokemon US National Championships. Then I placed in the top 8 at the Pokemon World Championships. Here is the team I used to do so.

      Teambuilding
      I think teambuilding sections are stupid but this one is important to me so I’m gonna include it. This team did not come into being as a Big 6 variant team. I explicitly did not want that. In mid June, I started with Groudon and Xerneas, because I knew that was the most powerful duo. “A Groudon and Xerneas team will win US Nationals”, I was able to say confidently, “and I want to be piloting that team.” I knew I wanted Trick Room because it was a much more powerful and reliable speed control than Thunder Wave, Tailwind, or Icy Wind. I tabled whether I wanted Cresselia or Bronzong. I knew I wanted Salamence after that– its performance at Europe Nationals and at Regionals far outshone Kangaskhan’s, Intimidate was amazing, and I felt that it was an overall more solid Pokemon with better answers to Groudon. Grudgingly, and after much consideration, I came to the conclusion that Smeargle was the right support Pokemon for my team. Smeargle has a quality that is unique to it and to Pokemon, really, that I really appreciate having on my teams– the ability to steal games that should be long lost. That is incredibly powerful in the hands of an unskilled player, but in the hands of a skilled player who can reduce the number of lost games in the first place, it is nearly unstoppable. Finally, here’s where the magic of the team comes in: all 3 of Ray Rizzo, Aaron Zheng, and Wolfe Glick, without communicating, on the same day, came up with bringing both Cresselia and Bronzong. I thought, well, if that isn’t a sign, then nothing is, and resolved to bring both Pokemon to Nationals. And the team was complete. I happened into a Big 6 variant team but I feel like the thought process I put into my team really helped me understand Big 6 and all of its matchups and intricacies. The flexibility that Bronzong and Cresselia had in controlling the board makes my team unique and, I feel, really sets it a step above Kangaskhan + Salamence Big 6 teams. All it took was an unnatural love of horses to decide on my team theme.
       
      Nationals Team

      "Guys, it's a horse. Don't you see it?" - Jean Olaf
      Karthus (Bronzong) @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Levitate 
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 124 Def / 132 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 2 Spe
      - Gravity  
      - Trick Room  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Hypnosis  
      Bronzong!
      I’m glad that this Pokemon sort of became my mascot. It’s very cute. Honestly no idea what this EV spread does beyond tanking a -1 Groudon Fire Punch. I appreciated the special bulk when it came to tanking Xerneas and Kyogre hits. I think if I could have changed things up I would have given it more special bulk to fully abuse the synergy with Salamence. It’s Levitate because…. I don’t really know. I guess Heatproof does make more sense but I liked switching it in on Ground-type attacks.
       

      "“The heat was hot and the ground was dry and...” - edgy song lyrics
      BAD HORSE (Groudon) @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 172 Atk / 4 Def / 60 SpD / 20 Spe  (Credit to PokeAlex <3)
      Adamant Nature  
      - Protect  
      - Swords Dance  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Fire Punch  
      Groudon is most of the offensive power on this team, and it rarely sits a battle out. It is also very rare that I will lead Groudon. I didn’t put this in words in my own head til recently, but it’s a lategame sweeper for me, and the rest of the team works around getting it set up and making sure it gives a huge game-winning momentum swing when it hits the field. Originally, before I had Swords Dance, I had Sleep Talk as more anti-Smeargle tech, but Swords Dance was so good at capitalizing on opponent’s dead turns that I had to keep it. The best part about this Groudon is that it is at a speed tier where it can work in either Trick Room or Tailwind. I think that Brave minimum Speed Groudon would be a mistake for this team as then you lose some of Tailwind’s benefits.

      “The air was full of sound…” - edgy song lyrics
      LilSebastian (Salamence) @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 20 Atk / 236 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature
      - Protect  
      - Tailwind  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      Salamence is the glue of the team and I lead it in in like 90% of my games. Salamence Smeargle was an incredibly solid lead and could handle most anything with Bronzong in the back. Salamence’s ability to set up Smeargle proved useful all throughout Nationals. It was incredibly important to keep alive though, as it was the only Pokemon able to damage some threats. Hidden Power Ice Groudon was a problem for me, but luckily I ran into none at Nationals or Worlds.
      (Kangaskhan is worthless)

      “Waaaaaaaasssuppppppppp, [friends]????????” - Bojack Horseman
      BojackHrsman (Smeargle) (M) @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Moody  
      EVs: 220 HP / 236 Def / 44 Spe  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Spiky Shield  
      - Dark Void  
      - Wide Guard  
      - Crafty Shield  
      I tried really hard to come up with a support Pokemon that was better than Smeargle but I couldn’t so here it is. It makes up the other half of the Smeargle Salamence core and its role is to protect Salamence or Bronzong for as long as possible while also threatening Dark Void. The EV Spread helps it survive -1 Jolly Kangaskhan Double Edge. This is one of the two calculations that actually matter with this team, I think. Smeargle was also my only anti-Smeargle Pokemon, as everything on the team other than Salamence was outsped by maximum Speed Smeargle and that was pretty bad. Smeargle certainly did its job well: I don’t believe I got hit by a single Dark Void at Nationals or Worlds. The Speed EVs were important in order to outspeed things like Crobat and Salamence in Tailwind, and I never felt that I needed minimum Speed Smeargle. Wide Guard was included because I was pretty afraid of Groudon.
      Moody was also excellent for my team. Pokemon is a rare game that offers opportunities to come back from near-certain defeat, and I felt that it was a waste to ignore Moody as an alternate wincon. 

      “The solution, as I see it, is to work harder.”  Griffin, John, and George Orwell. Animal Farm, George Orwell. Harlow: Longman, 1989. Print. MLA citation dedicated to Evan Latt.
      Boxer (Xerneas) @ Power Herb  
      Ability: Fairy Aura  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 240 HP / 196 Def / 4 SpA / 68 Spe  (Credit to Wolfe)
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Protect  
      - Geomancy  
      - Dazzling Gleam  
      - Moonblast
      This is my incredibly bulky Xerneas spread that I used throughout Nationals and Worlds. It is very slow and doesn’t hit very hard but man, does it take a punch. Along with Salamence’s Intimidate it can survive almost any attack. I frequently sent this Xerneas in to faint and stall the momentum on my opponent’s end so I could send in Groudon, Smeargle, or in later iterations Cresselia for an insane momentum shift in my favor. However, during Worlds and in much of the post-Worlds metagame, using this Xerneas to sweep the opponent became more and more important, and I had a lot of fun using it alongside the Smeargle and Bronzong changes. Before Worlds, I was offered a Timid and a Modest spread but ultimately chose to stick with what I know but perhaps in practice these may have worked better. This Xerneas being slower than some Smeargle was an issue and heavily restricted my lead options. I actually only picked Xerneas for like 9 games at Nationals because I faced so many Big 6 style teams that I always relied on Smeargle, Salamence, Bronzong, and Groudon.
      The 4 Special Attack EVs were to always KO 4/0 Kangaskhan at +2 Special Attack but were originally not included.

      “I wanna steal.” - Fred the Stealy Horse, Over the Garden Wall
      Fred (Cresselia) @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 180 SpD  (These are arbitrary)
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 8 Spe  
      - Trick Room  
      - Helping Hand  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Ice Beam
      Cresselia was included as a stop to dual primals teams, which I expected to be fairly commonplace at US Nationals. It is at 84 Speed to underspeed minimum Speed primals in TR and reset weather. It has Sitrus Berry for maximum bulk (Mental Herb and Chesto were considered, though ultimately not tested). It has Helping Hand “just because” and no calcs were done around it oops. Ice Beam was included for coverage– I didn’t think to include Psychic at this point in time. This Cresselia was not used frequently at Nationals (I brought it to 7 out of 45 games) and was mainly useful because it was not Kangaskhan and if I had picked Kangaskhan I would have lost so I was glad to have it anyway. Wolfe and I put arbitrary EVs on this Cresselia and I forgot to change them later. Oops.
      Worlds Changes
      After Nationals, I came to the conclusion that one of two things would happen at Worlds: either someone had solved the format, and hadn’t shown it yet, and was sitting on 10,000$, or the format was solved since day 1. I chose to plan around the second possibility since the first one was so unlikely. What I got out of US Nationals was that Groudon Xerneas is the best team archetype, and the hard counter wasn’t available yet (see the lack of a solved team above), so the only option was to run it again. I thought that maybe the best answer was to abuse what I thought was the best Groudon Xerneas answer in the format (based on my Nats run), Salamence Smeargle Groudon Bronzong, and change the last two pokemon to bolster the other matchups. This is the same thought process as the Sunny D people, and I tested Pokemon like Palkia. In the end, however, I concluded that Xerneas was the best Pokemon for the slot, because if nothing else its team preview presence made it worth including. PokeAlex tried to get me to change my Xerneas from Bold and 4 SpA to Timid or Modest and not 4 SpA, but I didn’t have much time to test anything else and stuck with it.
      Here are the changes I made for Worlds:

      Fred (Cresselia) @ Sitrus Berry  (Thank you Conan)
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 20 SpD / 228 Spe  (Credit to Conan’s team from like forever ago)
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Psychic  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Icy Wind  
      - Trick Room  
      I was flipping out after my top 4 match at US Nationals: if Chase lost in t4, Alan would have been able to totally wipe me because I could not handle Mega Gengar and Crobat. Especially because my Cresselia’s HP stat was odd, so it would have fainted (almost) immediately to Super Fang plus Shadow Ball. Furthermore, I didn’t bring the old Cresselia to very many battles at Nationals-- only 7 out of like 45, 3 of which I lost. I knew I needed a new Pokemon in Cresselia’s slot. This Cresselia is so different that it plays like an entirely a different Pokemon, and luckily it handles the Pokemon that gave my Nationals team so much trouble. I literally went into Conan’s Regionals report, copied and pasted, added Skill Swap because I thought it was stronger than Helping Hand, and got results immediately. Thanks, buddy. 
      This Cresselia was able to perform amazingly for the team but the drawback was I really had to pay attention to how much damage it took. This was something that was really hard to manage without Xerneas and Groudon taking too much damage as well. Being at 134 speed was really helpful with dealing with Crobat and Mega Gengar which are otherwise problems for this team. This Speed stat is the second calculation which I would say actually matters as far as team performance.
      Furthermore, this Cresselia enabled my favorite mode versus Xerneas Rayquaza teams: bringing zero restricted. This worked if they had a poor matchup versus Bronzong and versus Cresselia and had lots of little things and weird Hidden Power Pokemon to screw over Groudon and Xerneas. I tried to bring this Round 2 Day 2 Game 1 but it didn’t end up working out very well, although I had a lot of fun.
       
      A lot of people asked me for my Cresselia spread, and I didn’t tell them it but pretty much if any of those people had dug around a little bit they could have found it and copy-pasted their way to team cohesiveness just like I did

      Karthus (Bronzong) @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Heatproof
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 124 Def / 132 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 4 Spe
      - Gravity  
      - Trick Room  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Hypnosis  
      Because I expected to play against many more Big 6 style teams, I changed this Bronzong to be better in the mirror. I thought bumping the Speed up to 4 would catch people off guard but I had no idea how hard some people would creep it. I didn’t change the EV spread, though. This left me vulnerable to Precipice Blades but I figured that if I had Bronzong out VS Groudon I was pretty screwed anyway so it didn’t matter.
      Side note: I’m still hugely for-Levitate on Big B. I think the Groudon damage tradeoff causing a Fire Punch is worth it. If you exclude Eruption (big if, but I really just did not respect special Groudon), Groudon has to sling a Fire Punch at Bronzong to knock it out instead of just Earthquaking-- this is a big deal because it means your other, more important Pokemon are not taking damage.

      LilSebastian (Salamence) @ Salamencite  
      Hasty Nature
      I changed Salamence’s nature to Hasty because I wanted to survive Hyper Voice. I didn’t actually do any calcs for this though and it ends up still fainting 30.4% of the time but I never noticed because I didn’t play any Salamence at Worlds. This change only makes my Weavile problem worse but it’s fine I swear

      Post-Worlds Changes

      BojackHrsman (Smeargle) (M) @ Focus Sash  
      - Spiky Shield  
      - Dark Void  
      - Follow Me
      - Crafty Shield  
      I changed Wide Guard to Follow Me in an attempt to stop strong single-target attacks coming off of Gengar and Weavile that could give Xerneas or Salamence trouble setting up. Follow Me also has the added benefit of redirecting Skill Swap, so I gained the tool I lost to block Kyogre spread moves when Groudon Smeargle faced Kyogre Bronzong in the Sun. Finally, this gave my team much more Xerneas setup potential, which ended up being important as more and more players grew capable of defeating Groudon Bronzong modes.

      Bronzong @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 124 Def / 132 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Imprison  
      - Trick Room  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Skill Swap
      Bronzong got changed for a third time, but this is my favorite iteration, I think, even though Hypnosis was so strong at Nationals. This was inspired by Grant’s Nationals Bronzong. Teams that use Gengar Bronzong and Kyogre to deal with Big 6 archetype teams cannot deal with this Bronzong. It has the benefit of stopping Kyogre Bronzong immediately and wringing out every last bit of the opponent’s momentum and also it allows Xerneas to sweep without fear of a Gyro Ball. Imprison works before a Pokemon switches in, so many players would unsuspectingly switch Bronzong in and then it would be useless. Ironically, this change makes my Big 6 matchup slightly worse, and it gives me trouble versus Hypnosis Bronzong, but it gives Kyogre Bronzong players such a tough time so it’s totally worth it. I changed this because I didn’t use Gravity once at Worlds.

      Conclusion:
       
      Shoutouts to Vincent Campione and all of my best friends. I had a wonderful time at Nationals and Worlds. Thank you all. 
      And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed my team. I am proud of it. See you next time, friends!
    • By makiri in makiri's blog 1
      The 5th Nugget Bridge Invitational will be closing out an exciting 6th generation of Pokemon. With Sun and Moon's release right around the corner come check out the last major event for the X and Y generation of Pokemon games. 
      Eight players will be competing for glory and some major cash prizes. First a quick run down of the players:
      @RpIndaHouse @GENGARboi @Deusiudex @Lorcylovesyou @Spurrific @Pokealex @StarKO @Szymoninho These great players have fought through countless others to get to this point and other than the title of the 5th Invitational Champion they will also be fighting for $1000 in cash with first place getting half of that. The prizes are:
      $500 $250 $125 $125 The best part of all this? You can watch the action on Twitch.tv! On Saturday, November 12th at 9 AM PST (12 PM EST) these eight players will be fighting on www.twitch.tv/nuggetbridge with live commentary from up and coming casters @JTK and @Dozz. Big thanks to @Wyrms Eye for stepping up and taking care of hosting duties. 
      See you there!

    • By Boomguy in Boomguy's blog 12
      Hello everyone.  For those who don't know me.  My name is Phil Nguyen & online I go by the name Boomguy.  If you feel like you might have seen or heard my name before it's probably because you might have seen me as a moderator in the VGC room on Pokemon Showdown, or perhaps you've seen me compete in the Pokemon World Championships in 2015, or maybe you are Australian & seen my name get dropped by Australian Pokemon websites like PokeAus or your Australian friend mentions me as a good player.  I have been playing high level VGC Pokemon since 2013, but I have been interested in VGC since 2010 but wasn't able to compete because Australia had no competitions until 2013.
      So you are probably wondering why the title of this report has the word 'retire' in it?  Well in 2015 before I went to worlds I mentioned that I was going to stop playing high level Pokemon after the Nugget Bridge NPA.  I mentioned it so many times over various different media like Twitter, my reports on Nugget Bridge and PokeAus and even on an Australian TV show.  Main reason I decided to retire so I can focus on a better professional career in the business/corporate world.
      The off-season

      When I came back to Australia from the world championships I was only playing a small amount of Pokemon because of the NPA and I was looking for a new job whilst I was working at my current job as call center operator.  In the midst of doing this I dedicated some spare time working with my local Tournament Organizer to get some Premier Challenges (PC) started for the next season.  I wanted to test my business and marketing skills to increase player attendance as the highest amount of players I have seen at a Premier Challenge in Brisbane was 32 players.  I was hoping to get 40 for a tournament so we can get elevated status and unfortunately we never got those numbers in the 2016 season. Despite that disappointment we did manage to get at least 1 PC a month from November - April missing January due to summer break and the TO prioritize card games as they are his money maker events.

      When I was job hunting I was mainly looking at sales but I was open to any role that can help a business generate more income.  In October I was successful in joining a special 3 month innovation project in the Strategy department of company I was already working for.  So I was very happy to start my role as an Innovation Specialist and the project was to create new products concepts for the company in a 3 month period and present that to the CEO.  I was working with 4 other people from different departments in the company and we were coached by an outside mentor who was very experienced in innovation and setting up successful startup businesses in the technology field.  

      On the first day of the project, we learnt a lot about the process of innovation and understood how great businesses got started to become a success. Many of today's successful business startups came from the Silicon Valley area of San Francisco and that sparked my interest in going to next world championships, because I wanted to experience what it was like living in San Francisco if I happened to go there for business and see all the head quarters of tech companies like Facebook and Google.  

      So my decision of me going to San Francisco depend on what it took to qualify for VGC world championships. When the rules was announced first, initially I thought the format sounded fun seeing all the legends again because it has been more than 5 years since they were allowed, plus I did play some VGC 10 games on the Smogon forums and I thought it was fun back then.  Here is my proof that I did play in 2010 which included one painful stall game against v Firestorm.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWsIUbk1y-4 This one was against Negator
      Below is me vs Nugget Bridge owner Rushan Shekar (Firestorm)
      I wasn't going to play any VGC 16 games until the Christmas Weekend as I was still working on this work project which I really wanted to do well in.  Days later the qualification details came out and I was very happy to find out all it took was 200 Championship Points to qualify for day 1 in the Asia Pacific region.  That made an easy decision to play in the circuit in 2016 and just get a day 1 invite.  Christmas time came and excited to play some VGC 16 games to get a feel of the format.  Immediately I knew this was going to be a difficult format for me as a player that likes to be defensive. This quickly showed it wasn't going to be like last year at all and I have to learn to how to play the aggressive style as games are only lasting 3-6 turns.

      The first VGC 16 events

      So during the Christmas period I organised a 5v5 VGC 16 country friendly with Australia vs United Arab Emirates on the 2nd of January. I put myself in the line up for the Australian team because I thought it will give the UAE players some excitement that the best players were playing.  So I was playing last and Australia already won 3-1.  I used a Zekrom team with Xatu and I suffered an embarrassing 2-0 loss.  I really shouldn't have put myself down to play with a huge lack of practice of the format.  So after that event it was the end of the mini Christmas/New Years break I had to refocus to finish my work project which was due in 2 weeks time.
      I finished my work project in mid January, which meant I had more free time to play the VGC 16 format and practice for my first Championship Point (CP) event, the January International Challenge.  Going into a Best of 1 battle events, I always want to create anti meta surprising teams because they are fun to play with and it gives me an advantage.  But this wasn't the case in January as I finished with a 30 wins & 15 losses.  This was the team I used.


      I regretted not putting life orb on Electivire because that could of got me KO's against Kyogres.  My Magic Room tactic wasn't used often sadly but it was great fun when I pulled it off.  So it was off to the drawing board and back to creating a new team for my next event in February a local PC.  This was going to be second one for the season as I played one in December 2015 for one last goodbye to 2015 fun event and I finished top 8 at the event. When the results of the January IC came out.  I saw that my amigo Juan Ortiz from Ecuador (MrPenguin93) finished highly in the tournament using an interesting Ray/Ogre (Rayquaza/Kyogre) team that looked like this:

      So I asked him if I could use his team for my next PC and he showed me all the spreads.  This was my first attempt using Ray/Ogre and I practiced with it well on Pokemon Showdown.  At the event I was playing really defensive by wasting protects and I got out memed losing to teams like a Trick room Espeon.  That made me bubble out of the cut
       
      First successes
      After my bad results of my first events, I went back to basics and used the Big 6 archetype.  Just like last season for me using what is proven to be successful and popular helped me got an understanding of the meta.  In the beginning I was using the classic Big 6 which typically looked like this:



      Like what most people discovered the mirror match up was a painful experience.  So I was looking for ways to avoid this problem.  In the beginning of March, Australia had it's first Mid Season Showdown (MSS) in Adelaide.  Home of one of Australia's talented players Luke C (Dawg).  He attended the MSS and he finished in the top 4.  Despite him not winning the tournament I thought his team was the perfect solution to the mirror match up.  This was the team he used in the MSS which I adapted later.



      I spoke to Luke about his team and I am very grateful that he shared some information about his team.  Yes the teams look very similar but his team had a major advantage in the mirror match.  His advantage was having Trick Room on Cresselia as the classical Big 6 has a major weakness in Trick Room.  But not all of his team was slow.  Xereneas, Talonflame and Kangaskhan remained fast.  Whilst the Smeargle and Groudon were slow to compliment the Trick Room. Luke only told me the move sets of his Pokemon. I was fine on creating my own spreads and changing some moves that I believe was right.  In the end this is what I used.



      I choose Rock Slide on my Groudon because I knew a certain player in my city liked using Ho-Oh/Rayquaza core and you never know who might face in the Nugget Bridge Major which was about to start in a few days after I created this team.  Many players always like to use Spikey Shield on Smeargle to protect themselves but I thought it was a useless move for Smeargle because I believed his role was to support and protect the team.  Since my Smeargle doesn't have Moody, playpers didn't target my Smeargle so having follow me helped me protect the Pokemon doing the damage.

      Luke's Cresselia had Skill Swap which I changed to Helping hand because I didn't feel Kyorge usage was high enough and I couldn't see myself using Skill Swap.  I choose Helping Hand to get the extra damage on my ally Pokemon.  The Helping Hand Precipice Blades helped a lot to get KO's on other Groudon and even Kyorges.  I choose to use Swords Dance on Talonflame instead of Tailwind because I wanted to make Talonflames Brave Bird very threatening but it was very difficult to set up and I rarely used Talonflame in battles. 

      Despite playing with 5 Pokemon most of the time I found great success.  Winning my first 3 rounds of the Nugget Bridge Major which included a victory over World Champion Day 2 competitor Juan Naar (DonVGC) from Columbia. I also won a home PC in March where I did beat my mate Paulo Amedee (The Mastodon) who plays with Ho-oh/Ray core. 

      The struggles again
      The International Challenge in March was my next event and I kept the same team as above.  This time I finished worse than the meme team I used in January. I finished 29 wins to 16 losses.  After 3 weeks of using the same team concept.  I knew a change of team was in order as the meta game was catching up as other players know the team functionality but I struggled to find a new successful team.  4th round of the Nugget Bridge Major came and I was paired down against the consistent American Blake Hooper (Bopper).  At the time I knew Bopper was struggling to find his feet in this format as he hasn't performed well at American events and he lost a round in the tournament.  So I believed that I could win the match and I decided to use the old team as it was still performing well in a best of 3 format.  I ended up winning the match 2 games to 1 after Bopper played a disastrous game 3 for me to win the match.  Despite the win, I wanted to change the team as soon as possible.

      Once again I couldn't find a way to break the meta and Round 5 of the Nugget Bridge Major was looming as I was against German National Runner up Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana) from Germany. Again I used the same old team and this time I lost the match 2-0.  Round 6 of the tournament made my team building decision a whole lot easier as I was paired against Canadian player Randy Kwa (R_Inanimate).  Randy tends to use the same team all year round as he has done with previous VGC years, so I decided to build a counter team against him and plus I am not known to do this at online events.  Luckily for me current world champion Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) played Randy 2 rounds before and posted a video on how he counter teamed him and his battle against him.

      The team I built against Randys Big 6 Espeon team looked like this:




      Despite practicing with friends using Randy's team there is no substitute for the real deal.  I lost the 1st game due to a poor move choice after I looked myself into a wrong move when he tricked his choice scarf to Bronzong.  Game 2 I got outplayed.  I was so pissed off at myself that I slammed my fist on my bedroom wall causing damage to it.  This was definitely one of my lowest moments of my play career.

      After that loss I was a few days to the next PC in April and I decided to use the same team I used against Randy that weekend hoping I would play better with it.  The tournament did start well as I won my first 2 rounds including a lucky win over the tournament winner Damon Murdoch (SirScrubbington). But then I lost my next 3 rounds and I didn't cut the event.

      The next weekend was first regional event in Australia, so I had to rebound quickly. Going to an open Australian event, I knew I wanted to play a Groudon/Xerneas team because it was a solid core against casual players who refuse to use something else and it gives me a good chance against the top players.  The first event was located in Adelaide and it became a high quality event as most of Australia's best players were in attendance.  Once again I struggled to find a team I liked and I used the same big 6 for this event. 

      I lost my opening round thanks to Precipice Blades missing then I drew Martin Larumbe (BaseIN2) in round 3 and lost to him.  I lucked out against a local player in the 2nd last round thanks to ice beam freeze and I lost my last round to French player Haris Sahovic as he used my play style against me which happens when people watch me play a lot.  I was feeling really down after the event which didn't help since I had a do or die match in the Nugget Bridge Major the next day against American regional winner Drew Novak (Nowak).  I used the same team as I did in the regional I ended up losing the match 2-1 and for the 3rd year in a row I cannot make the top cut of this event.  
      I decided to continue on with the Nugget Bridge Major and use the remaining matches as practice for the Australian regional circuit.  I had 2 weeks to prepare for the Sydney regional and I had enough of playing with Big 6.  To my surprise most of the people I didn't know of that I played against in Adelaide were prepared for VGC 16.  So I decided to play with Dual Primals and I wanted to improve the team I was using.  To my surprise my team manager for the Mistralton Jets for the Nugget Bridge National Pokemon Association (NPA) Paul Hornak (makiri) roster me in to make my debut in a time I wasn't mentally confident because I just lost my 3rd match of the Nugget Bridge Major.  Despite my missing confidence, I decided to not let the team down and made sure I was going to win my match against Olivine Splashes Huy which I did here (Boomguy VS Huy). Thanks to the team I got my confidence back and proceeded to win all remaining 3 dead round matches of the Nugget Bridge Major rounds which helped me felt prepared for the next regional in Sydney.  
      The Sydney regional started well winning my first 2 matches especially winning the best of 3 1st round against Emma Williams (Cobalte) who used the Yveltal/Groudon core which is meant to have the better match up.  But then I proceeded to lose the next 3 rounds. I was so depressed that I also lost the next game and couldn't give a care about the last game I won.

      Road to recovery

      Don't worry guys I wasn't depressed for long as I was excited about the Eurovision Song contest grand final party the next morning, where I ran into my old tour guide.  It was exciting all the way until the very end when the Ukraine overtook Australia and won the contest.  It was a great to do something I enjoyed after another bad result it lighten up my mood for the next regional the weekend after at my home city of Brisbane.  

      I was roster to play week 5 of the NPA against Sunnyshore Chargers Jon Hu (JHufself) the creative American player. I scheduled a time to play him after Sydney regionals and I didn't want to play with double primals again so I had to build a new team for myself and with only 2 days until our match.  Upon advice that I am forever grateful for from my fellow team mates and talented Australian player Bailey Owen (Bargens), I decided to build a Big 6 team with some elements to counter Jon's famous Ray/Ho-oh core just in case he used it against me.  To my surprise he did use the Ray/Ho-oh team and with only 2 days of practice I did manage to win the match despite a hiccup in game 1 which you can see the replays here (Boomguy vs JonHufself)

      After my win I quickly had to focus on what I was going to use for Brisbane regional 3 days later. On the Monday after Sydney regional and UK nationals we learnt that Spain's Alex Gomez (PokeAlex) won the UK nationals with a well built Dual Primal team with a Cresselia that had both Thunder Wave and Icy Wind for speed control.  That inspired me to use that Cresselia set in a big 6 team for Brisbane Regionals.  I tried to get the EV spread from Alex but he refused to share with me which I expected. This was the team I used in Brisbane:



      Exactly the same 6 Pokemon from Adelaide but different move sets and EV's.  I didn't use Smeargle often at the regional and I used Talonflame more compared to the last time I used this 6.

      I was interested see if any of these people was going to use what Alex used.  Turns out I was the only one.  The tournament started really badly for me as I lost my first match against a father of a senior trainer.  I lost it mentally after the match being so disappointed that I lost the match.  I reminded myself that I had to be emotionally smart because I didn't my emotions to ruin my day and I told myself to take it slow to remain focused on the matches.  Well I am proud to report that I did recover extremely well by winning all my matches until the final round where I faced Martin for the 2nd time this season.  I started the match against him really well as I lead thanks to hax.  However Rock Polish Groudon saved Martin from my Icy wind speed control and he recovered to beat me again.  As expected I did bubble out finishing 10th and overall I was happy about most of the tournament with only having 3 days of building and practice.  The result left me with less than 10 CP to qualify for day 1 of worlds and with one regional left in Melbourne in my schedule.

      As I was only a top 64 or top 32 result from qualifying for worlds.  I decided to use a fun anti meta team for the Melbourne which is something I have never done this year.  Being creative and breaking the meta is the main reason I love playing Pokemon in general.  I think the previous 2 years of competing, made me stop being anti meta at Australian events because of some bad experiences for example that Steel Wing Charizard X that destroyed my Carbink in 2014.  But in 2016 there is more players in Australia taking interest in the VGC format and more players are becoming knoweable thanks to Youtubers like Aaron 'Cybertron' Zheng and Alex Ogloza.  In the tournament my team looked like this



      My teams were full of memes, Gengar had both Sludge wave and Sludge Bomb, Thundy had Hidden Power Water. Krookodile was there for a 2nd intimidate and using Dark Aura, Sucker punch & Assurance was a deadly combination.  However using Earthquake against a Groudon and Mawile lacked damage in this years meta.  My match up against Xerneas was ok but at least I had decent coverage.  Main reason I wanted to use Yvealtal was to prevent Trick Room speed control.

      Day before the tournament I had to play my NPA match against the Goldenrod Rollouts, Demitri Kaguras (kingdjk) and I had to make the difficult decision not to use the team I built for Melbourne regionals because I felt it wasn't good enough for best of 3, plus I didn't want to reveal this team for the tournament.  In the end I used the team that I used for Brisbane regionals and unfortunately I suffered my first loss for the team with some terrible decisions in Game 3 (Boomguy vs kingdjk)

      Thank goodness I decided to use a fun meme team because the first 2 opponents were over prepared for Xerneas. First round guy had Aegislash and Ho-oh.  2nd round opponent had Heatran, Dialga, Kyogre.  Round 3 I was up against last years runner up Nathan Farrugia. I memed him with Sludge wave Gengar when he lead Smeargle Xerneas against me and I followed it up with Hidden Power water on his Groudon.  Round 4 was against top 16 world championship finisher Sam Pandelis (ZeldaVGC).  He to also lead Smeargle Xerneas against me and also got memed by my sludge wave Gengar and the hidden power water Thundy plus he copped a lot of paralysis hax.  

      Round 5 was against Tom Schultz (SchultzyVGC) I lead Yveltal/Krookodile against his Salamence/Groudon.  I was in trouble from the start and I couldn't recover to win the match.  I recovered well to win in round six over a RainDeer user (Kyorge/Xerneas) with Mega Gardevoir and Ludicolo. I was very happy to win that match where it was a really bad match up for me.  Round 7 I was up against James Katsaros (ChosenFuture) who used Big 6.  He also lead Smeargle Xerneas against me but unlike Nathan and Sam.  James made a smart defensive play in turn one to protect his Smeargle and switch out his Xerneas into Kangaskhan to give him a free fake out and use dark void the following turn.  I couldn't recover from that and he won the match.  Going into the last round I had to win, to make me feel safe I was guaranteed CP from this event. In the last round my opponent had Mega Camerupt with Groudon/Palkia.  I memed his Camerupt and Groudon with Hidden Power Water to dominate the match.  Of course I did bubble out of top cut but I was very happy to qualify for worlds and that meant I can enter Australian Nationals for the fun of it.

      Road to Australian Nationals
       
      At the end of May I played another interesting team tournament that Nugget Bridge hosts called the Dodrio Cup.  This 3 player team competition has the unique rule where the whole team has to use different Pokemon.  I was playing with 2 Austrian friends Thomas (TH1806) & Noah (Kadoya).  I was in charge of a Xerneas/Groudon core.  Noah was playing with Ray/Orge and Thomas was playing Shednija memes.  I was playing this for fun experience as I didn't want to qualify for the Nugget Bridge invitational for this format.  This was the team I created.  


      After a round 1 bye we won our 2nd round match but we lost in the 3rd round to the defending champions Zach (Braverius), Sam (SamVGC) and Luke (Dawg).  I also used this team for the June International challenge and unfortunately I couldn't pull off the meme and I kept losing a lot of matches for me not to even play day 3.  The Interenational Challenges (IC) results this year hasn't been great for me at all.  I feel the reason for my bad results in these events is because playing 15 matches a day requires a lot of focus and energy to do well.  Unfortunately for me I had to work on all the IC Weekends and most times after work I do not have a lot of energy left.  Next season if online tournaments like this happen again, I will have to consider taking that weekend off just like taking time off for Nationals or Regionals.  It's funny that the Internationals Challenges has a lot more matches than any live event.  It will be interesting what the online tournaments playing format is going to be like.

      As for the NPA, the Mistralton Jets finished in the top 4 of the Round Robin stage and was fighting for a place in the final against the Fuchsia Ninjas.  I have not been scheduled to play ever since my loss and as expected I wasn't scheduled to play the Semi Final, but I still wanted to help the team get into the final.  One morning I was checking the forums to check up on the results that happened whilst I was asleep. We were off to a bad start losing the first 2 matches and then I noticed this post below
      So I had to quickly schedule a match against American Alec Rubin (Namuko Pro) and the only time that could fit was 24 hours away.  I also had to have a team for this important match which was something I didn't have.  I knew I didn't have time to build a good team on my own so I had to ask for a team.  One team that got my attention at the time was from one Australia's best team builders named Daniel Walker (Ludicola) who was topping the Pokemon Showdown VGC ladder with 2 accounts and he was catching attention from the worlds best players like Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37) & Enosh Shachar (Human).  I always liked Daniel's creative team building as he always explore all Pokemon choices and doesn't ignore unpopular Pokemon like most players do.  Daniel did share his team with me and this was the team I used in the match:


      X-Ray (Xerneas/Rayquaza) core was only new in the meta at the time when it was first used successfully in Italian nationals.  Daniel very well to create his own version.  His Rayquaza was holding life orb and it was a special attacker. His Draco Meteor was able to OHKO a non bulky Groudon and Overheat was able to KO Mawile.  Smeargle was holding a scarf which does make fear for opponents.  The most interesting Pokemon on this team was the Scarfty, a Pokemon that often gets brushed aside just because it has a 4 times fairy weakness.  Scrafty's moves were High Jump Kick, Quick Guard, Fake out and Knock off.  It was holding Expert Belt to get the KO on Kangaskhan and Ferrothorn.  Scrafty was used against teams that didn't have Xerneas.  Talonflame was holding a Red Card which helps against opposing Xerneas that has boosted Geomancy.  Talonflame was trained to live a 2+ boosted Moonblast so that the Red Card can be activated and forcing Xerneas to switch out.

      Not only Daniel shared his team with me, he also coached me how to use his team that night which I was incrediably grateful for.  He was watching my games on Pokemon Showdown and chatting to me on Skype at the same time.  Next day I had the morning to play more practice games and the match was during the afternoon.  To my surprise I won the match 2-0 which you can watch here.  Game 1 & Game 2.  For a high pressure match situation, I was extremely proud on the way I played and it also gave me belief that I can play well even with very little practice.  My victory meant we tied with the Ninjas 2-2 which helped out team to stage a comeback.  The whole semi final had so many twist and turns until the very end.  Jets then went 3-2 but the Ninjas stopped us getting victory by equaling the series to 3-3 and it came down to the final match which we unfortunately lost.  I was so glad to make the series very interesting for spectators.

      The winning team
      So after the my big win for the NPA.  I was actually considering using Daniel's X-Ray team but what put me off using that team was the 90% moves like Draco Meteor was costing me matches on the ladder.  That made me commit to building a new legendary combo with 100% damaging moves as I did like the support Pokemon Daniel had on his team.  I own Daniel so much for helping me create some of the foundations of this team.  Here is the team I used for Australian Nationals.


      Salamence @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 34 Atk / 222 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Hasty Nature  
      - Protect  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Tailwind

      Basic Salamence spread.  I cannot remember what the attack stats did. Tailwind was my only speed control option for my team


      Scrafty @ Expert Belt  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 212 HP / 252 Atk / 44 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Fake Out  
      - Quick Guard  
      - Knock Off  
      - High Jump Kick

      The HP EV's is designed to survive Talonflame Brave Bird and of course I do have quick guard for that but it helps the partner.  I know I said I wanted 100% damaging moves but High Jump Kick is the only move that can get KO's on Mega Kangaskhan and Ferrothorn.  But there was a positive for missing High Jump Kick it allowed me to sacrifice Scrafty to knock itself out and give me a free switch.


      Xerneas @ Power Herb  
      Ability: Fairy Aura  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 148 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Geomancy  
      - Protect  
      - Moonblast  
      - Dazzling Gleam

      As I have 2 intimidating Pokemon in the team I can transfer the defensive EV's for HP.  I cannot remember what the defensive EV's were meant to survive

      Smeargle @ Choice Scarf  
      Ability: Own Tempo  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 84 HP / 172 Def / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Transform  
      - Dark Void  
      - Fake Out  
      - Crafty Shield
      Smeargle's EV's is designed to live Power up Punch Mega Kangaskhan and it allowed Smeargle to live Talonflame Brave Bird after intimidate.  Choice Scarf Fake out has been helpful for Xerneas set up. Crafty shield was there for the Scarf Smeargle mirror or preventing Prankster Pokemon spreading status to my team.

      Groudon @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def  
      - Eruption  
      - Earth Power  
      - Protect  
      - Hidden Power [Ice]

      Like I said I wanted 100% moves and Groudon looked like a perfect fit with Xerneas and going Special was definitely the correct call at the time as there was lots of Salamence intimidating Groudon.  I also remember chatting to Nails about his team for US nationals and he said he feared seeing Eruption Groudon because it can do good damage against his team, so I knew I was on the right path.  I was thinking of using either Thunderbolt or Hidden Power Ice for the last move.  I was considering Thunderbolt for the Kyorge match up but I choose Hidden Power Ice because Salamence would be more common than Kyorge.


      Amoonguss @ Red Card  
      Ability: Effect Spore  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD  
      Relaxed Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Spore
      - Grass Knot  
      - Rage Powder  
      - Clear Smog
      Amoonguss EV's is basically to survive Intimidated flying attacks from Talonflame and Mega Salamence.  I am highly against Amoonguss having Protect most of the time because it is designed to support other Pokemon in the team.  I choose to add in Clear Smog for the obvious Xerneas reasons but people were getting smart to avoid the Red card by using Xerneas as the last 2 or avoid attacking Amoonguss with Xerneas.  The Red card trend started in June and then Guan Yang Ze (Level 51) won Singapore Nationals with Red Card Ditto by the time Australian nationals came most people knew about this item choice on Amoonguss

      The Australian Nationals 2016
       
      It felt great to enter a tournament with no expectation or desire to win the event, even though I did put some effort into my team and it is still a dream of mine to win an Australian National Championships.  I knew I could possibly have a shot to get the day 2 invite but it required me to win the tournament and rely on other players results in Australia and Asia to do poorly as the Hong Kong national was also at the same weekend as Australia. Plus I rather give some of my countrymen a chance for the paid invite as some of them have performed better than me this season.

      For the 3rd straight year in a row my first round opponent is a female player and luckily for me it was a great warm up match as she had no legends.  2nd round was against Callum Witt (CruiseVGC) who made the top cut last years national.  I knew he hasn't played much VGC 16 this year but he does understand how to play VGC in general.  He used a RayDon (Rayquaza/Groudon) core. He gave me a challenge but his team was behind the meta and I proceeded to win 2-0.  Then I got lucky with my round 3 & 4 pairings against players that hasn't played much VGC 16 and they got harsh reality check, losing to me 2-0.  

      Round 5: Sam Hughes (Slugmeister)


      Round 5 was finally got tough when I played against Sam from Melbourne.  Even though Sam isn't well known in the Australian community, he certainly knew how to play VGC 16.  His team was a counter team to mine with RayOgre with Crobat.  Playing against RayOrge automatically meant I couldn't bring Groudon in the match & his Crobat can shut down my scarf Smeargle tactic and potentially remove Xerneas Geomancy boost with Haze. 
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 

      To my shock Sam didn't bring Crobat into the match and this allowed me set up my Xerneas to win the game.  He found out Scarf Smeargle in this game and I found out that his Landorus (Lando) was holding an Assault Vest (AV). It was a good feeling to get a win due to opponent error but I knew he was going to bring the Crobat in the next game.
      Game 2
      I used: 
      He used: 
      As expected he did bring Crobat into the match and things got really tough.  I set up the Geomancy and he set up the tailwind on turn 1.  Then my worst fears did come true, he had Haze on Crobat.  From there it was going to be an uphill battle because my damage output was low as I was using 3 Special attackers against 2 specially defensive bulky Pokemon in Kyogre and his AV Lando plus it was intimidating my physical attackers.  My only win condition for this match was to get the right amount of sleep turns to go in my favor so I can slowly knock out his Pokemon.  It came down to Amoonguss vs Landorus and I did get enough sleep turns to win the match.  This was the only 'C'MON!!' the crowd got for the day.

      Round 6: Matt Jiwa (JiwaVGC)

      At this stage, everyone that was undefeated were players who are solid world class level and no matter who I drew it was going to be tough.  I was paired up against Matt who I defeated at last years championship in the top 16 single elimination rounds.  I knew Matt hasn't played much VGC 16 matches as he has a dislike for the rules, but he has a great talent for strategy games as he does well in Hearthstone.  It was clear to me that he was highly motivated to get sweet revenge against me.  Our teams looked almost the same and I wouldn't be surprised if he had similar sets to me because he does keep up with the meta.  This was my first Xerneas/Groudon match up all tournament
       
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 
      Turn 1 was a very funny start.  Our Smeargle Speed tied and he won the speed tie but his Dark Void missed both of my Pokemon and my Dark void landed onto both of his Pokemon.  But I still proceeded to lose the game as his Salamence woke up the next turn and used Tailwind whilst I got too greedy trying to hide Groudon's Hidden Power Ice to switch into Xerneas so I could set up Geomancy.  Losing like that really frustrated me as I didn't make use of my extremely fortunate situation.
      Game 2
      I used: 
      He used: 
      I cannot remember much of game 2 as the frustration of game 1 got to me.
       
      Round 7: Zarif Ayman (Hikari)

      I had to reset my emotions going into this match as I was up against last years Asian national champion Zarif from Malaysia who studies in Melbourne and he used to study in Brisbane. Since first meeting Zarif in 2014 I have never played against him in a tournament.  2016 has also been a tough year for Zarif but he has been performing good enough to only have 1 loss at this stage of the tournament.  For some strange reason we were called up to be on stream and our match can be seen below.

      Round 8: Micheal Abdelmessih (GreatTornado)

      This round of Swiss was played in Day 2 and after the end of round 7 we saw the current standings with the tie breaker resistance.  I was on a very high percentage and I felt confident if I and majority of my opponents won in this round I would make it into the top cut.  When I saw I was against Micheal for this round I was a very happy man because I can play evil mind games against him very easily because he tends to get nervous and crumbles under pressure.
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 
      As you can see I only needed 3 Pokemon to win this game.  Turn 1 I swapped my Xerneas into Salamence to protect Smeargle from getting knocked out from Talonflame, but he didn't use brave bird and he fell victim to the Choice Scarf Dark Void putting both his Pokemon to sleep.  Whist my Mega Salamence and Xerneas destroyed him.
       
      Game 2
      I used: 
      He used: 
      This time he does lead Smeargle Xerneas himself but I had other tricks up my sleeve as I used Fake out onto his Smeargle and we both used Geomancy on our Xerneas's.  Next turn I switched out Smeargle for Amoongus and his Xerneas used Moonblast onto Amoonguss.  Then the Red card came out and his Xerneas was forced to switch out losing his Geomancy boosts.  Then I proceeded to dominate the game.  To my shock Micheal had no idea that Red Card was the meta.

       
      Round 9: Nicholas Bingham (LudicoloPatrol)

      For the 2nd year in a row I was paired up against the ever entertaining Nicholas Bingham the great leader of the Ludicolo Patrol and a great friend. Going into this round I felt I had extremely good tie breaker resistance to make it into the top cut even with 2 losses because majority of my previous opponents did win.  I knew Nick was probably at the lower end of the tie breaker resistance if he went 2 losses as he suffered an earlier 1st loss than I did.  So I decided to give him the win but we did have a best of 1 battle because I wanted to see how his team fared against me if we had to play top cut.
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 
      All I can remember of this match was that I got into the best start of the match setting up Geomancy without being dark voided on turn 1.  Then there was a stage he brought in his Xerneas and I proceeded to Moonblast his Xerneas to ensure he wasn't going to make a comeback but to my surprised he actually lived the +2 Moonblast and he used Geomancy himself.  He did manage a comeback and defeated me. In our mock 2nd game we just wanted to entertain ourselves watching Magikarp use Celebration and Happy Hour.

      As expected I did top cut and turns out Nick didn't really need the free win in the end as his resistance was good enough to make the top 16.  But wasn't happy to find out who was my first round opponent though which kind of made me regret my decision to give Nick the free win.


      Round of 16: Micheal Abdelmessih (GreatTornado)

      As much I like getting paired up against Micheal in tournaments I don't like facing the same person twice in a tournament yet alone in the same day.  Because now most of tricks were used up to defeat him in the Swiss round.  See how I reacted to his match up as we were on stage as the replay is posted below.
       

      Quarter Finals: Daniel Pol (Chiron)

      Next up for me was against Pokemon's Australian bachelor Daniel Pol who just defeated Matt Jiwa in an almost mirror match in his top 16 match.  I was kind of glad that I didn't have to play Matt again but Daniels team looked like it gave me more trouble than Matt's. Pol hasn't played much VGC 16 either but he can produce good results no matter what the rules are.
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 
       
      As he has the same looking team at Matt I was expecting him to lead the same way Matt did against me but that didn't happen.  I cannot remember what happened in the match.  I remember as I was about to lose the first game and I time stall my loss to give me lots of time to plan for game 2. I was me freaking out to figuring out a strategy right through to the very end of time of team preview for game 2.

       
      Game 2
      I used: 
      He used: 

      As you can see the result of my freak out was really bad that I choose to put Scrafty in this game which is typically a bad choice to use against a Xerneas team.  I believe my emotional reasoning for picking Scrafty was to have free fake out to support Xerneas and quick guard to prevent Thundurus speed control.  But I had no choice but to play it out if I wanted to win the match.  The only thing I remember from this match was I got myself into a bad situation where I was left with my full HP Groudon and one other Pokemon against his non boosted Xerneas and something.  I remember saying to myself what if his Xerneas was the slow and bulky because I didn't confirm it's speed in the previous game.  So I said to myself "Stuff it, let's just press Eruption & assume it was the slow bulk variant".  Turns out it was the slow/bulky variant so Groudon used Eruption first and I got a Critical hit against his Xerneas.  That allowed me to come back and win the game.
       
      Game 3
      I used: 
      He used: 
      I was certainly in a positive mind set after making the right call about his Xerneas.  The panic attacks stopped and I was able to figure out a strategy to beat Daniel.  It definitely showed in my team choice as I lead with the best possible combination I thought was right.  I cannot remember what happened in this match but I was extremely relieved to get though this match but I felt extremely disappointed in the performance.  Thankfully the was a long break till my Semi Final match to help me recover emotionally, eat food and strategize for my next match.

      Semi Finals: Josh Matos 


      There was a long break between the top 8 match and our Semi as they played other semi first then the junior and senior finals.  During the break. I spoke with Damon and Nick about my match up against Josh and Nick said he used the same 4 Pokemon against him.  I had a light bulb moment remembering that Josh's Mawile didn't have Sucker Punch, it had fire fang instead.  I also calculated that I could live the intimidated Iron Head from Mawile.  After figuring out a strategy in a 10 minute conversation, I wanted to keep my mind relaxed and energised.  On that day there was Disney on Ice next door to us and that reminded me about the Lion King and I started singing Hakuna Matata just to remind myself not to have any worries after what happened in the previous round.  This match was streamed but it hasn't been saved.
      Game 1
      I used: 
      He used: 

      Josh instantly KO's my Scrafty with Mawile whilst I faked out Thundurus and used Geomancy on my Xerneas.  This gave the advantage very early into the match.  Josh tried to recover but to no avail.  Josh mentioned to me after the game he shouldn't have KO the Scrafty on turn 1.
      Game 2
      I used: 
      He used: 
      Once again we did the same leads and I used the same moves.  This time he did target the Xerneas with Iron Head but I didn't live the hit as he scored a critical hit against me.  From here I knew I had to make good decisions from now on to score the win.  So I replaced my Xerneas for Groudon and yes I was aware that his Thundurus has Hidden Power Water but I didn't think he knew that I knew he had it.  My idea was to bring in Groudon to make him think I was going to use it to attack Mawile as I used my free switch to get Groudon on the field.  My plan worked as he did target the Groudon with Hidden Power water and switched Mawile out for Kyogre, but I switched my Groudon out for Amoonguss, then the luckiest thing happened.  I planned to use Knock off onto his Thundurus but his Thundurus was forced to switch out because of the Red Card from Amoonguss and the game randomly switched in his Gourgeist, who then copped the Knock off from Scrafty.

      I cannot remember what happened after but in my notes Josh did use Trick Room against me and I think I remove the Gourgeist first so he couldn't use the Skill swap weather and insomnia trade with Kyogre, so I can put his Pokemon to sleep with Spore.  I must of managed to keep my Groudon & Amoonguss alive to KO the rest of his Pokemon.
       
      Finals: Alex Poole (Triceratops)

      So it came down to this 2 guys sharing the same bedroom for this event, ending up into the finals. We both have seen each others team before the event and both of us couldn't recall what each other had.  All I remembered Alex telling me after day 1 he locked in the wrong Groudon, but I couldn't remember what was the fault of the Groudon.  Our match can be seen here.
      I did get annoyed the fact that Alex got the double protect in game 2 and that I didn't see that move coming, but I got over that quickly to acknowledge that was the correct play for Alex.  I always believe in karma and got my own luck in game 3 when his Dark Void missed.  
      I was truly shocked that I was the national champion for VGC 16, a format that I didn't like.  What helped me win was the fact I didn't have any emotional attachment to winning or losing because I already qualified for worlds day 1 and me getting a day 2 invite for this year feels insulting for those who have consistently had great results.  When Jamie from Nintendo Australia gave me the box to store my trophy after all the formalities, he mentioned how I was less stressed compared to previous tournaments.  Body language doesn't hide at all does it, I thanked him for that compliment because that verified that I succeed in achieving my emotional goals for the tournament.  I did celebrate by having a great Japanese dinner, a battle with fellow winner Corey from Singapore who I have been close with his family and drinks where I had a hangover which I haven't had in a long time because I don't drink often then got me sick for few days when I got home.


      World Championships 2016 preparation
      Hong Kong nationals finished when I was at dinner, I learnt that I only had a day 1 invite which I was expecting and happy with.  With my new found confidence I decided to make my team days before the world championships because I haven't fully planned my overseas adventure in Latin America and USA.  I felt that priority had to be dealt with first and resume my Spanish skills that I have put off for 2 months because of the circuit.  Then another distraction came, the release of Pokemon Go was out in Australia in early July and I wanted to be in all the early hype of the game as I was enjoying it more than VGC.  
      The news of the end of the VGC 16 Battle Spot ladder came a week later which meant that I had to make use of that time and start building an idea of my worlds team.  I was toying the idea of playing with 2 different teams at worlds one for day 1 and day 2.  But I knew I was time poor so I decided to stick to one team. I didn't want to use Xerneas at worlds because I felt the top players would be very prepared against it for example having Bronzong in the team.  That gave me the idea to use Yveltal and I remembered the Japanese player that used Assault Vest Yveltal in his team and got him 2nd place plus he was the only Yveltal user in the top 8.  As I was committed to using AV Yveltal the only viable legendary partner that has success is Groudon as I already tried Kyogre/Yveltal earlier in the season with not much success.  I didn't put much work onto the team then because other activities like Spanish Speaking and Pokemon Go was funner than VGC 2016.  

      By the time I left Australia in early August I had no team built and I decided not to travel with my laptop because I didn't want it to get stolen.  I also decided I wasn't going to team build until I got to the USA a week before the world championships because of the jet lag and I wanted to explore much of Chile and Peru as I could.  However I did bring my DS with my Australian National team and I did plan to meet Pokemon players in those countries so, of course I did have a few friendly battles. So thank you Estephan (Pephan), Matias (Boah), Sebastian (SkarmSteel) & Jorge (RustVGC) for touring me around your cities and having friendly battles.

      Day after upon arriving to Los Angeles, USA, I spent the day with one my best friends Alex (Legacy) and his brothers chilling out playing various games.  After the fun, me and Alex spent the afternoon/evening working on our worlds team. It was my first time I was focusing for worlds and using Pokemon Showdown since leaving Australia.  I knew I wanted to use AV Yveltal/Groudon for worlds and I need to figure out was the other Pokemon.  I completed my team that night which was the quickest decision I made.  This was the team I made


      Yveltal had Snarl, Dark Pulse, Sucker Punch and Oblivion Wing.  Groudon was the same special Groudon I used at Australian nationals.  Whimsicott was offensive and supportive as it held a Focus Sash with the moves of Moonblast, Grass Knot, Encore and Tailwind.  Crobat was my choice for anti Xerneas with Tailwind, Super Fang, Brave Bird and Haze. Mawile and Kangaskhan had the usual popular moves. Mawile was used in the mirror match up against other Yveltal teams and Kangaskhan would be used for other match ups.

      Day after I wanted to explore much of Santa Monica beach and wanted to relax after some intense travelling in Latin America.  But I did organised some practice battles for the day after.  As I only had my 3DS with me, it was very had to find people who had a teams on their 3DS and I didn't want to expose my team to many people as I felt I had a massive target against me for day 1 of competition as I had that national champion tag. So I asked some day 2 competitors and some quality opponents who couldn't come to worlds.  

      I managed to get a battle with Aaron Traylor (Unreality) & Josh Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou).  I lost to Lorcy in a close match and defeated Aaron's worlds team.  So I felt good with the team having 2 quality games.  When I got to San Francisco the next day I got a surprise distraction that one of my best friends who lives between Brisbane, Australia and San Fran, USA was still in San Fran and had cancelled plans.  So I spent my first 2 days in San Fran doing personal tours only managing to get a practice match against talented Brit Ruhel Miah (miahruh) where I won due to luck and he was very encouraging about my team choice for worlds.

      Wednesday came and everyone arrived to San Francisco.  It was great to see old friends and meet a lot of new ones as this year had the most participation.  I spent most of the next 2 days socializing and only had practice games against my adopted Singaporean brother Corey Yuen when we were waiting in line for registration.  I think I did lose to Corey due to a snarl miss but it was too late to change teams and I felt good about the team despite the loss.  
      World Championships 2016 Day 1
       
      I drawn to go into group 2 with players like Wolfe, Randy and Nails.  Round 1 was against Estefano from Chile and we both have Yveltal/Groudon cores but he had Trick room with a level 1 Smeargle.  Game one he lead non offensive with Smeargle and Xatu where he did set up Trick Room but the sleep turns didn't pay off for him and I manage to stall the Trick Room to finish him off.  Game 2 I made use of my positive match up with leading Kangaskhan and Whimsicott.

      Round 2 was against Hongyu Zhu from Canada also known as Pentagram which I didn't know until after the match.  This was the team that he used in Day 1:

      Game 1 I was leading really well and gaining momentum until my Snarl missed his switched in Smeargle.  I tried to Dark pulse Smeargle in hope of a flinch chance which didn't happen and he successfully got dark void off plus moody gave him speed, which was game over for me.  Game 2 I recovered really well leading Whimsicott and Yveltal against Crobat/Groudon.  He found himself in trouble immediately that he was under threat with my offensive leads against his slower and non offensive lead.  Game 3 I made the mistake using the same leads again and he brought a counter lead of Rayquaza/Togekiss and set up his Rayquaza to dominate the match.

      Next round I found myself playing against 2012 Worlds Semi Finalist Abel Sanz (Flash) from Spain.  It was finally nice to play the real man and not the fake Abel in Pokemon Black and White 2.  His team was mentioned on the Pokemon website here http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/worlds/2016/teams/popular/#team-abel-sanz-spain-masters-division
      It was a very interesting Ray/Ogre team and I was interested too see if he was going to use Gyarados against me.  I did get to see Gyarados immediately in game 1, along with his Zapdos against my Yveltal/Kangaskhan.  I saw he was took Yveltal attacks really well.  My initial thoughts he was that it was holding assault vested because he used Icy wind on the first turn.  Then we both saw a shocking discovery his Gyarados was still slower than Yveltal.  I was also confused that his Rayquaza was able to survive Moonblast and Snarl.  Later I discovered that Gyarados wasn't holding an assault vest because he used Thunder Wave so that meant he was very specially bulky EV with no Speed. Despite the craziness of his team I did win game 1

      In game 2 he used the same leads and I lead Whimsicott/Yveltal.  I took advantage of the knowledge of game 1 where I also found out that his Zapdos was slower than Yveltal so I proceeded to use Snarl to weaken his attacks and Whimsicott used Safeguard to protect the team from Gyarados using Thunder Wave.  The combination of Snarl and Assault vest was too much for him that he wasn't doing good damage and I was able to heal his damage through Oblivion wing. I couldn't tell if he knew I was holding assault vest.  I was lucky that he didn't get any critical hits and I won the game.  He then admitted to me that he locked in the wrong Gyarados and should of had a faster one.

      Round 4 I drew against American Justin Carris (Azazel) who as we all know he finished in the top 8 and you can read about his story here 
      When I saw his team I was immediately pressured by the Infernape. But I knew I could pressure him back with my Whimsicott which he mentioned in his story.  In his version of the story he mentioned that he won game 1 with luck which I do agree on, but I think it was his Salamence avoiding Mawile's Play Rough that did it for me.  I didn't let that miss get the better of me mentally and I came back smarter for game 2.  The game was extremely tight and that I didn't write down me taunting his Xerneas in the late game which made the battle difficult to win.  Justin was smart saving his Infernape in the end game which allowed his Xerneas to use Geomancy.  It came down to his Xerneas against Yveltal/Kangaskhan and I had to made the right call in order to win.  I choose to double Sucker Punch which brought him down to the red and he used Moonblast against Kangaskhan to KO it.  All I remembered is I needed to get a critical hit to win which didn't happen and Justin wins the game.  I would of love to seen if Oblivion Wing and Sucker Punch would of been enough.

      So I was in for the fight of my life and my 5th round opponent was Nelson Lim from Singapore and he was using a team nick named Big B:


      I felt confident in my match up against this because I prepared myself against people who would use this core.  In game 1 Nelson surprised with some sneaky techs on his lead Pokemon Salamence and Smeargle.  His Smeargle used Fake out against my Whimsicott and finished it off Hyper voice on Salamence.  I cannot remember how I lost and I didn't do a lot of note writing in the game which means I was mentally upset.  Game 2 I irrationally decided to use Crobat/Groudon to use Tailwind protect strategy then the super fang/eruption combo.  That plan went down the drain as I missed Super Fang and my Eruption did do half to his Groudon.  I couldn't recover after that and I was out of the tournament and I dropped out of a tournament for the first time in my career.

      Conclusion of the 2016 season

      I didn't have any depression about my tournament and I was relieved that I didn't had to compete in this format ever again. I knew I didn't prepare for worlds correctly because if I did play enough practice games, I would have been put off using Play Rough, Snarl and Super Fang for the tournament. Which did happen when I was practicing for Australian nationals when my Mega Rayquaza kept missing Draco Meteor on important moments enough times in practice which resulted in me committing to a 100% accuracy damage team for Australian nationals.  I felt winning Australian nationals was enough for me to feel satisfied about this season.

      Me doing a travelling adventure in South America prior to worlds was a very bad decision, if I was serious about winning worlds because the stress of the travelling left me mentally exhausted, so I am glad that mistake on a format I wasn't enjoying.  Next time I will just stay in the tournament city a week before and relax for the first few days to get over jet lag.  Then I can do some crazy adventure after the tournament.

      And that is the report for the 2016 season, Thanks for reading everyone.  The Boomguy season report comes out every year after the world championships.  You can follow me on Twitter @Boomguy_Pokemon to see my progress.  See you in the Alola Region.
       
    • By Ezrael in TeamJon 12
      Hey, I’m Jonathan Evans (Ezrael, @EzraelVGC) and I recently got 2nd place at the Pokémon VGC World Championships in the Masters Division. I started VGC in late 2013, but I didn’t get any good placings until this year. I almost quit after 2015 Worlds because I felt so disappointed with my performances and my teambuilding ability. If you heard of me before 2016 Worlds, it was probably because I try to speak louder than I probably should, or because I lost to Mandibuzz in top 16 of UK Nationals.
        This season was significantly better than previous others for me, in part because I moved to a significantly easier region (I’m an American, but I go to university in the UK). I was able to do well this season by ripping off Gavin Michaels’s (kingofmars, @komvgc) teams. I used CHALK to snag top 8 at London Regionals while we were still in the 2015 format (thanks to Chuppa (Chuppa, @ChuppaVGC)) . After that, I used Dual Primals (Gavin’s variant) at Sutton Coldfield Regionals and UK Nationals to secure two top 16s, while also convincing everyone and their mother that it was the call for UK Nationals. With my 700 odd CP and TPCi still considering me a player from the NA rating zone, I laughed and laughed and laughed and took my free trip to US Nationals, where I used XRay (with Enosh (Human, @EnoshShachar), literally his team) and bombed out because XRay is a bad team and it’ll never do well at an event. Going into Worlds, I knew I was going to have to change something up. I realized that I never do well when using anything Enosh uses, because Enosh is crazy. I decided I needed to go back to my roots: stealing from Gavin. After net-decking Gavin’s team and then yelling at everyone who was using it to stop laddering with it, I subsequently using something extraordinarily similar at the Liberty Garden Invitational (Set vs. Tommy Cooleen (Tman, @TmanVGC) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbdJLUdVN5E). Then I was ready to go to Worlds with almost no practice.
      Except I wasn’t. I had to endure weeks upon weeks upon weeks of Rajan not building teams but continuing to tell me that the one I intended to use was bad because Manectric was bad. I also played something like 10 practice sets and lost almost all of them. I was kind of just saying yams it going into Worlds. At the end, I decided to trust myself and my ability to beat XernDon teams, but I wasn’t really confident with any of my matchups.
        Now let’s get onto the team.
        Hey I’m Gavin (kingofmars, @komvgc) and I made a bunch of teams in this format that were apparently really good but I couldn’t use. Around a month and a half before Worlds, I decided that Manectric was worth seriously investing time into, since, with the help of Kyogre making Hidden Power Water do more than literally zero damage to Groudon, it felt like a solid way to answer Primals, Yveltal, RayOgre, and in general any matchup that wasn’t Groudon and Xerneas. I, Jon, will be interjecting in this because Gavin sucks and couldn’t include all the relevant calcs. You now have no idea who wrote what.
       
      The problem with beating everything that isn’t Groudon/Xerneas is that you get beaten by Groudon/Xerneas. If I wanted Manectric, I would need to have as much XernDon hate as humanly possible. After hearing Rajan Bal (blarajan, @blaramons) talk nonstop about how good Gengar/Kyogre/Bronzong was against XernDon for two weeks straight, I decided it might be worth a shot. Turns out that it’s scary good at dealing with every part of the team that isn’t Cresselia or Bronzong. I decided that the matchup was “good enough” after extensive testing with Aaron Traylor (Unreality, @NBUnreality).
        Groudon was chosen as the second restricted almost purely by default. I just didn’t have the infrastructure available to support any other legendary, and, given Groudon’s strengths, it is very difficult for it to be dead weight against anything but Rayquaza/Kyogre. This was basically a 5 mon team for an extended period of time until I came to the conclusion that I A) wanted more coverage against Kangaskhan when I was using the team’s Manectric mode and B ) wanted to be able to shut down Bronzong/Cresselia from going for support moves. After debating whether Bronzor/Bronzong could actually work, I finally remembered the Pokémon that was able to actually beat Kangaskhan and shut down supports: support Talonflame.
        With that, the team: (a full pastebin of my day 2 team is at the bottom of the report)
       
      Gengar @ Gengarite  (Brought 34/48 games, 10/17 Day 1, 22/29 Day 2, 2/2 Finals)
      Ability: Levitate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 76 HP / 240 Def / 4 SpD / 188 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
      - Sludge Bomb
      - Will-O-Wisp
      - Hidden Power [Water]
      - Protect
       
      The Spread:
      The Speed is fairly self-explanatory: outrun base 100s before Mega Evolving, outrun base 120s + 2 points, which basically means Salamence since seriously, who cares about anything else that’s base 120. We also wanted to outspeed anything that decided to creep Salamence and hit 190, like any possible Sceptile, Mewtwo, Weavile, or 95 Speed Primals in Tailwind, so we hit 191. I originally invested enough Speed to outrun Weavile, but it came up so rarely in testing that I felt like I was basically punting EVs, especially considering how much work I could do by investing more in bulk. I learned later on that if I had decided to only outspeed Salamence by one point I could have ran 156 HP / 160 Def, (shoutout to Stats) which would have given me a much higher chance of surviving Wolfe’s Kyogre’s Origin Pulse in finals.
       
      Gengar has no Special Attack EVs because it does this:
      0 SpA Mega Gengar Hidden Power Water vs. 252 HP / 156 SpD Primal Groudon in Heavy Rain: 204-240 (98.5 – 115.9%) – 87.5% chance to OHKO
      You will not find a bulkier Groudon, and most are less bulky than this.
      And the point of the defensive EVs:
      252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Sucker Punch vs. 76 HP / 240 Def Mega Gengar: 124-148 (85.5-102%) – 2.7% chance to OHKO
      252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 76 HP/ 240 Def Mega Gengar: 121-144 (83.4 - 99.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
      108 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs 76 HP / 240 Def Mega Gengar: 121- 144 (83.4-99.3%) – guaranteed 2HKO
      +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar: 113- 133 ( 77.9 – 91.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
         
      While it may seem like overkill, taking a Sucker Punch was crucial since it let Gengar freely HP Water Groudon next to a Kangaskhan, or get free damage off onto Kangaskhans. While I don’t survive Sucker Punch 100% of the time, I wouldn’t anyways since, you know, it still has two chances to crit me. The additional amount I’m not surviving is less than half the chance of a crit, and it takes approximately a million EVs to survive it anyway, so whatever. Surviving the Dragon Ascent was a happy little accident that I will 100% take. Also, apparently 108 Atk Salamence is exactly as strong as 252 Atk Rayquaza. Who knew?
       
      Move-wise, I feel like Sludge Bomb and Will-o-Wisp are so standard that they probably don’t need much explanation, and HP Water was chosen since, seriously, look at my team. Without HP water, Kyogre’s my only out for dealing with Groudon, which is no bueno.
       
      Gengar’s role on the team is of utmost importance in most matchups. Gengar just allows you to outplay your opponent. It was the call going into Worlds partly because it was good against what we expected the metagame to be (Groudon Xerneas dominated, with a bit of everything in there, especially on day 1). But it was also the call going into Worlds because no one knew how to play against Mega Gengar. Mega Gengar had never been good before because of the abundance of moves to hit it. However, in this format, most Pokémon are either unable to hit Gengar at all (some Cresselia, Kangaskhan, and Smeargle), get neutered by opposing weathers (Groudon and Kyogre) can get Skill Swapped (Salamence), can get burned (Rayquaza), or don’t do any damage (Xerneas). Gengar allows you to control the pace of the game and outplay your opponent. When you are playing Mega Gengar--or at least when you were playing Mega Gengar before Worlds--no one knew how to deal with the trap, and no one was careful enough about the trap. Trapping certain Pokémon in can often lead to instant wins. I think Mega Gengar is fantastic and everyone should try it out.
       
       

      Kyogre @ Blue Orb  (Brought 48/48 games)
      Ability: Drizzle
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
      - Origin Pulse
      - Ice Beam
      - Thunder
      - Protect
       
      The first, and on this team, far more important part of the infamous primal duo, Kyogre is a monster. Almost nothing hits it for super-effective damage, and nothing hits it for an OHKO, while Kyogre scores 1 or 2HKOs on almost every Pokémon in the format, often while hitting for spread damage that’s not negated by by the opponent’s Pokémon’s typing. Kyogre is integral to the functioning of the team, as using Gengar, Bronzong or Manectric to win the weather war is the best way to knock out opposing Groudon. In order to do that though, you have to control the weather. That means at all times you must be cognizant of where the opposing Groudon is going. Is their Groudon in the back? If it is, it is much worse than a bad play to go for Origin Pulse; it is often a game losing play that is almost impossible to come back from. Even if their Groudon is in, it is often better to switch Kyogre out, as if you take a knock out and allow Groudon back in, you’re going to lose. Preserving Kyogre’s health and weather is key to using this team.
        Kyogre is also (one of) the best way(s) to hit Rayquaza, Salamence, Amoonguss, Cresselia, Kyogre, and often Yveltal as a result of moveset choices. The moveset is chosen in order to maximize Kyogre’s utility across matchups. This team has lots of trouble damaging opposing Kyogre, so Thunder is really important. The ability to solo both primals on an opposing team or to take out both parts of Ray Ogre is key to a lot of matchups. If you’re running Thunder, Origin Pulse is the best choice that allows Kyogre to do damage even when it has taken some itself, while still being a spread move. With that in mind, the spread (Shoutouts to Rajan)
        Defensive:
      252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 252 Def Primal Kyogre: 91-108 (43.9 – 52.1%) – 12.9% chance to 2HKO
      Offensive:
      4+ SpA Primal Kyogre Thunder vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Primal Kyogre: 102-122 (49.2-58.9) -- 98.8% chance to 2HKO
       
      We also ran 95 Speed to outspeed Mega Salamence in Tailwind, but to still be slow in Trick Room. Modest and the 0 Atk IV also reduce Foul Play damage from Yveltal.
      More offense on Kyogre does pretty much nothing else. Kyogre is used to do massive amounts of neutral damage to every single Pokémon in the format. +2 Xerneas? Still 3-4HKO it with Origin Pulse. Cresselia? Murder it with Origin Pulse. Everything gets destroyed by Origin Pulse. I don’t run Water Spout because I need to run Thunder, as mentioned above. Since we don’t run Water Spout, running 76 SpA Modest isn’t necessary and doesn’t get any additional calcs. Origin Pulse is never OHKOing Kang, which was also never an issue in practice. Ice Beam gets every knockout you want it to get, and Thunder is a 2HKO on opposing Kyogre.
       

      Bronzong @ Lum Berry  (Brought 34/48 games, 11/17 Day 1, 21/29 Day 2, 2/2 Finals)
      Ability: Levitate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 188 Def / 68 SpD
      Relaxed Nature
      IVs: 4 Spe
      - Gyro Ball
      - Trick Room
      - Skill Swap
      - Safeguard
       
      Bronzong was chosen to beat Xerneas and to have Skill Swap. I used 4 (Gavin used 8 because he is a dirty scumbag) Speed IV Bronzong because you win the Skill Swap war in Trick Room against 2 Speed IV Bronzong (if your Bronzong’s Skill Swap goes second, your weather goes up). This helped me out at the Liberty Garden Invitational, but not much at Worlds. It did allow me to feel comfortable with a number of situations in Team Preview, primarily against dual primal teams, which made me more comfortable with the team. Beating Xerneas is really important, and a lot of Xerneas were scared off just by Bronzong’s presence on the team. Skill Swap is critical to the success of this team and beating Groudon. If you’ve noticed, this team has almost no way to hit Groudon for moderate amounts of damage (think Hyper Voice from Salamence). That means you either need to hit it with a Water-type move or with 3-4 Ice Beams from Kyogre or 2 moves from Groudon. To do that safely, you need the Pokémon attacking to have Levitate.
      Bronzong’s typing was also really clutch at Worlds; Being able to resist Flying- and Normal-type moves and set up Trick Room was fantastic.
      This Bronzong is physically defensive:
      252 + Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 188 + Def Bronzong: 146-174 ( 83.9 – 100%) – 6.3% chance to OHKO
      We did this because we wanted the ability to set up a Safeguard and Protect with the partner Pokémon while our opponent was already in Gravity. I had no complaints about the spread and the heavy amounts of physical defense came in clutch time and again at Worlds.
       
       

      Groudon @ Red Orb  (Brought 47/48 games, 17/17 Day 1, 28/29 Day 2, 2/2 Finals)
      Ability: Drought
      Level: 50
      EVs: 188 HP / 76 Atk / 156 SpA / 68 SpD / 20 Spe
      Quiet Nature
      - Eruption
      - Precipice Blades
      - Fire Punch
      - Protect
       
      The second half of the infamous duo, and by far the less important one, Groudon. Groudon was used because Groudon is a badass. Groudon does crazy amounts of damage to everything. Quiet 156 Groudon hits the bonus stat point that you get when using a boosting Nature. 20 Speed EVs hits 101 Speed stat, so in Tailwind you outspeed Crobat and max Speed Mega Gengar. It also means you outspeed slow Groudon outside of Trick Room. The Attack is designed to get a 2HKO on semi-bulky Xerneas as well as generally doing a bit of extra damage is nice. The HP and Sp. Def are designed to optimize chances of surviving a +2 Return or a Timid Earth Power. You do neither, but both are extremely unlikely to KO.
        When making this spread, it’s amusing to note that I was originally at 252 HP / 4 Def, which would have helped me out in a couple of matches, as +2 Mega Rayquaza never OHKOes 252/4 Groudon. I completely forgot about this calc when making this spread because I did not think it was important.
       
      Groudon is used to get advantageous board position with its massively high defense stats and just throw out Fire moves. I think a grand total of like 5 or 6 relevant Pokémon resist Fire-type moves, and most of them still don’t take too kindly to full powered Eruptions being launched their way. Groudon is important outside of just spreading damage though. It’s about being able to control what weather is on the field, especially when you can trap people in with Gengar. Being able to neuter Kyogre’s damage to 0 is massive both for me as a player and for the team (nothing likes taking a Water Spout).
       

      Manectric @ Manectite  (Brought 14 out of 48 games, 7/17 Day 1, 7/29 Day 2, 0/2 Finals)
      Ability: Lightning Rod
      Level: 50
      EVs: 36 HP / 80 Def / 168 SpA / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
      - Volt Switch
      - Thunder
      - Hidden Power [Water]
      - Protect
       
      Now we come to the Pokémon everyone wants to see: Manectric. I did in fact bring Manectric to many games. I did not bring it in on stream because of team matchups and stuff. Manectric sucks. It has no stats at all. It does no damage to any Pokémon of any type and gets KOed by almost everything. HOWEVER. Manectric is the Pokémon for the matchups this team is otherwise weak to. Manectric gives the team a playable matchup versus every team archetype that does not have a Xerneas on it. Gavin says the matchup is positive everywhere, while I am inclined to disagree.
        Manectric also gives you another advantage in the Primals mirror, besides being able to hit Salamence, Kyogre, and Groudon: timer stall. I’ll talk about this later, but after you Volt Switch to try to gain position, you can also waste 45 more seconds per turn.
      Offensive:
      168 SpA Mega Manectric Hidden Power Water vs. 252 HP / 92 SpD Primal Groudon in Heavy Rain: 204-240 (98.5 – 115.9%) – 87.5% chance to OHKO
      Going much beyond this probability just messes with your ability to outspeed anything or take any hits.
       
      Defensive:
      252 Atk Life Orb Dark Aura Yveltal Sucker Punch vs. 36 HP / 80 Def Mega Manectric: 133-156 ( 88.6-104%) – 18.8% chance to OHKO
       
      The Speed allowed it to outrun Mega Gengar (after Mega Evolution, and outrun Kangaskhan before Mega Evolution) and Speed tie 188 Speed EVs Modest Scarf Kyogre.

      Talonflame @ Rocky Helmet  (Brought 15 out of 48, 6/17 day 1, 9/29 Day 2, 0/2 Finals)
      Ability: Gale Wings
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 108 Atk / 76 Def / 20 SpD / 52 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Brave Bird
      - Taunt
      - Tailwind
      - Will-O-Wisp
       
      This is the Talonflame of legend. Revived from beyond the grave by Gavin Michaels, it came back and more than proved its worth, on stream as well. The history of this Talonflame is long and storied, and not many people know about it. One time in 2014, Ray was grimerposting in IRC and said “Rocky Helmet Talonflame XD”. Zach (Braverius, @Braverius), being the crazy player that he is, decided to take this joke far too seriously, and calc’d out a Talonflame that would always beat Kangaskhan one-on-one with Rocky Helmet and Will-o-Wisp damage. He didn’t end up using it at 2014 US Nationals because of shenanigans that you can ask him about, but he gave it to Jeudy Azzarelli, who ended up using it on his top 8 Rain team. Jeudy’s Talonflame used Quick Guard though, which not necessary for this team. Enosh also used a similar Talonflame to get top 4 at the 2014 post-Worlds Philadelphia Regional. Then the Talonflame disappeared. No one used it for a whole year and a half. Then Gavin revived it. When Gavin wanted to use this Pokémon, he asked Jeudy for his spread, straight up.
       
      While trying to figure out what the Speed stat did, I was very confused. Then Rajan suggested that the Talonflame was used originally to outspeed Garchomp. We took the points out of Speed, and never really changed the spread after that. That’s because it does what you want it to.
      Defensive Calcs:
      252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Talonflame: 153- 181 ( 82.7-97.8%) – guaranteed 2HKO
      The other calc is difficult to show you, because I calc’d it on an Excel spreadsheet to guarantee that I was right. However, Talonflame survives a -1 Mega Kangaskhan Fake Out combined with a -1 252 Dark Aura Life Orb Yveltal Knock Off. Assuming the opponent doesn’t crit, you only get knocked out 2% of the time. That means you have around an 80% to survive that, which is crucial.
       
      The moveset is also pretty weird. Most people don’t think Will-o-Wisp is that good in this format, for good reason, as Groudon is immune to it. However, nerfing the damage of Kangaskhan, Rayquaza and Yveltal was the point of this Talonflame. Outspeeding all of them, or at least before they Mega Evolve, allows you to minimize the damage they deal. When one Pokémon does no damage and is trapped in, you can focus the partner, or let your Pokémon just take hits. Taunt is used to stop Cresselia and Smeargle. Smeargle is silly and it needs to be stopped. Preventing Cresselia from doing things is critical, as this team doesn’t have many other ways to deal with Cresselia with an 84 Speed stat, and Skill Swap can be extraordinarily disruptive. Tailwind is used for Speed control. I would not have used a different Talonflame moveset. Talonflame did everything I wanted it to do in almost every set I brought it in. I used Rocky Helmet (day 1 at least) as opposed to anything else because of comfort, the ability to break Rayquaza’s Focus Sash, and because we didn’t think Sitrus Berry would do much. Things changed a bit later. You’ll see.
       
       
      Common Leads:

        This lead was used almost every time the opponent had a Xerneas, and much more often when the opponent had a Smeargle. This lead allows you to pressure Xerneas leads, Kangaskhan leads, Groudon leads, Smeargle leads, and Salamence leads. You have the threat of Hidden Power Water because of the Kyogre switch in, the threat of setting up Trick Room and switching, the ability to safely set up a Safeguard while trapping in your opponents’ Pokémon, the threat of Will-o-Wisp, and the ability to control the pace of the game going forward. You also have the threat of using Skill Swap to take away an opposing Salamence’s Aerilate and trapping it in, which makes it a 100% worthless Pokémon. This lead doesn’t offer immediate offensive pressure, but it offers solid early-mid game board control, and is used if you want to bring Bronzong.
       
        This lead is used if you DON’T want to bring Bronzong to the matchup. For example, Raydon teams, or a XernDon team with 84 Speed Cresselia. Talonflame is used to get off Will-o-Wisp and Taunt, and Gengar can also get of Will-o-Wisp. This lead offers you Tailwind control, but is very weak to Salamence. Again, HP Water is an option, yadda yadda.
       

      This is the go-to lead vs Yveltal teams; the ability to Intimidate and burn Yveltal and Kangaskhan allows you to mess up most of their ability to damage Kyogre. Further, Yveltal teams crumble under the weight of Eruption in Tailwind, or even Origin Pulse if you get Kyogre in the right position. Used when your opponent has lots of ways to hit Bronzong AND Gengar (or you just really want Talonflame for some reason).
       
        This is the lead when you are facing most Dual Primal teams, especially ones that you expect to have speedy Cresselia or don’t have a Cresselia at all. Having the 4 Speed IV gives you the advantage in most of those matchups, and Manectric + Bronzong is just a really flexible lead. You have the ability to go for Hidden Power Water, but more importantly, you have the ability to Volt Switch and Trick Room and adapt to whatever your opponent does.
       
       
      This is pretty good vs. some Dialga stuff maybe? It’s also pretty good vs RayOgre, because they often have no way to stop Origin Pulse/Thunder/Ice Beam. Never ever use this vs. Xerneas teams. That just doesn’t make any sense.
        How to play the team
        This team does not get offense very easily. Most of your Pokémon are either slow, or are fast but do little damage, so you need to be very cognizant of board positioning. Thus, here are a set of things I think about when I play this team.
      Having 4 Pokémon alive is really important. The ability to switch around efficiently gives you a lot more control over the board. If you need to make a sacrifice, go for it, but make sure you are getting proper rewards for that sacrifice.
      Almost every team will have at least one Primal. You should try to use the primal of the same type to spread as much damage as possible in the midgame. Thus, against certain Groudon Xerneas compositions, your Groudon will be key (If you can set it up properly, but that is very difficult). Kyogre will also be very good against Groudon compositions if you set it up properly with Bronzong. Both will be good against Raydon. Against Kyogre compositions, your Kyogre can spit out damage that they can’t block. Often the other Primal should be in the back to preserve your ability to take Eruptions/Water Spouts by negating their damage.
      Pay attention to the timer. Your team is going to be bulkier than your opponents, and you often have tools to control the board position such that your opponent will be doing little to no damage. That allows you to get up on Pokémon count and wait for a while.
      Be very very scared of Cresselia. That Pokémon will eat you alive. Also Raichu. Be scared of Raichu.
      Be scared of everything, honestly. This team requires you to be on the top of your positioning and health game in order to deal with any Pokémon. Thundurus is scary. Rayquaza is scary. Xerneas (yes, Xerneas, yes I have 4 fairy resists) is scary. Groudon is scary. Kyogre is scary. Yveltal is terrifying. Kangaskhan can be scary. Salamence is scary. The whole point of this team is that these Pokémon are all terrifying, but all manageable with proper board positioning, proper Trick Room, Tailwind, and Skill Swap management, and proper HP Waters.
      Skill Swap is a really really really really really good move and very few people use it properly. Try to take away Aerilate, look for opportunities to steal Levitate away, take away the Desolate Land and switch out Bronzong. Think really hard when you’re using Skill Swap, because it is a better move than most people are aware of.
      Sometimes you have to be really really aggressive with this team. Learn to recognize those scenarios, and make good plays that are aggressive, but safe. A play that is aggressive, but safe is one that is correct, i.e., your opponent has a very good reason to make the play you think they will, and you have good risk-reward from making that play.
              Now it’s probably time to talk about my journey to Worlds. If you don’t care who I’m friends with or what I did, feel free to skip this; games are below. My journey started a week before Worlds, getting on the 4 o’clock plane to San Francisco:

        I was going by myself because I had decided to stay with my brother for most of my San Francisco trip. Fortunately, I got to meet one of the Pokken commentators who was flying on the same plane: Vish(@ViciousVish). I mostly talked at him, because I couldn’t figure out what you’re supposed to ask people who you’re big fans of when you meet them. He was really nice about that, and was genuinely interested in my team and VGC. I saw him a couple of times throughout the event, and he was nice those times as well. I finally got on my plane:

      And had my long flight. I met up with my brother at the airport and we got some Italian food for dinner (did you know that in San Francisco, calzones are the size of pizzas folded over?) and went to bed.
        I woke up the next day and chilled out for a bit, trying to figure out who was in San Francisco. I decided to meet Matthias (Lega, @LegaVGC) at the venue, and we got some lunch. Then we had nothing much to do, so we decided to go hang out with the Smogon Crew (Rajan, Nails, Porengan, CasedVictory, Kiyo, Shray/Rozes, Chef Dave, Kimo(TFC), SamVGC, and CrashingBoomBang) and some others (TobySXE, Dan Oztekin/Necrocat). However, we decided that the best way to get to them was to walk.

      This was not our best idea. It was only a 3 mile walk, which isn’t that bad, and is a good way to spend the day. However, what no one told us was that San Francisco is basically a big yamsing hill, and we were starting at the bottom. We were walking to the top.
      I also took a picture of a cool fountain.
        (the fountain)
       
      (one of the pictures as we were climbing the godforsaken hill that is San Francisco)
       
      (Seriously we got really high up)
        (I swear to God this is what the hill angle was. It was less than a pleasant experience)
        Then we got to the house, and I had a bunch of lemonade. Everyone was drinking lemonade the whole time. I was given a bottle of lemonade the second I walked through the door. People were just chilling around, shaping hamburgers and just joking around. We then realized Nails and someone else had to play their Smogon Grand Slam matches or NU open or something silly. We hooked a computer up to the television and we got to watch the matches together, like traditional nerds. Then Chef Dave continued to be the best and made some absolutely delicious hot dogs and burgers and ribs and vegetables and we also had some watermelon. Then we decided the best thing to do was to play randbats drinking games (with non-alcoholic drinks). Rajan and I played a bo5 randbats, where the loser of each game has to take a shot of lemon juice, and whoever loses the set has to take 3 shots of lemon juice. You also take a sip of lemonade every time a Pokémon on your side gets knocked out. Everyone else in the house would get to choose a team and would drink with the person of the team they were on. This is where Team Jon comes from. The games are below:
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-battlefactory-186089
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-randombattle-186096
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-randomdoublesbattle-186104
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/smogtours-battlefactory-186109
      We played some Cards Against Humanity to end the night and went to bed distressingly early (12-1 am ish? It was really sad how early we went to bed). Lucky me, I got to sleep in the same bed as the genius mastermind himself, Rajan Bal. I’m the luckiest boy alive. When we woke up, Chef Dave had come through again in the clutch, making some of the best eggs I’ve ever had. It was at this point that Porengan started talking about the notion of a counterbier, to the adults who had had alcoholic beverages the night before. A counterbier is a bier you have in the morning to counter the beer you had the night before. So really what you do is you just never stop drinking. He insisted that this was a brilliant idea, while few of us believed him.

      Then we decided that we wanted to go to In-N-Out, and that we might as well check out Fisherman’s Wharf after we went to the venue to pick up Amarillo. The trip to the venue and to the wharf was uneventful, except CBB decided that the drink to pack on a trip was a carton of yamsing milk.

        We had a good time at the arcade talking about stuff like the Smogcast, what to use for Worlds, and generally how pretty San Fran was. I spent a lot of time trying to help Rajan build and justifying some of my EV spreads. We met up with a bunch of people at the Wharf and In-N-Out, including Szymoninho and his girlfriend, and some people from the other side of the Pacific, Matthew Roey, Shang Loh, and Boomguy. Maybe some other people were there as well, my memory is starting to get fuzzy.
        Look we finally made it:

          Later, we ended up taking a group photo:

        which is honestly super pretty.
      We head back to the venue and chill out there for a bit. Most of the Smogon crew heads back to their house for dinner, but I feel kinda gross and need to change, so I decide to stay with my brother this night. He’s already had dinner, so I went out to dinner with some Australians I had just met--Nicholas Bingham (@ludicolopatrol) and Jay Tyrell (@the_berger19)--and Sam. We tried to get sushi, but the sushi place was full. Then we decided to get Indian food.
      When I say WE decided…
      The Aussies and I decided to get Indian food. Sam decided the correct play was to go get pizza and bring that into the restaurant like a heathen.
      This is what Sam had, while we had naan and curry like you can see on the right. The restaurant was very nice to not kick us or at least Sam out.
      Then I went back to bed.
        On Thursday, pretty much everyone had arrived. I went to the market near the hotel and hung out with Angel Jeudy Hibiki Marco Jio William and probably a couple of other people I’m forgetting. Angel was freaking out about what mon to use on his Yveltal Groudon team that could beat Primals with Manectric/Mawile. I suggest Swampert, which we talk about for the next 20 minutes while we go back to the hotel. When we get there, we meet up with JiveTime and Collin, and then we talk about Big B for a while. I then decide to go hang out with the boiler squad for a bit, and show up to Blake’s room just as they were about to go to lunch. This was the first time I met Ryan Tan and Yellowbox (a.k.a. Spiderman himself). When we got back from Sushirritos, Nic Valenti and I spent a couple minutes just talking about how good of a Sheik player Plup is. Nic was so invested in thinking about Plup that we had to watch Plup vs PPU at Smash Summit. Then I find Yuree (PokemonZone, @YureeVGC) somehow and decide to watch a money match between him and Sanvy. Sanvy, using dual Psychic-types on dual Primals, somehow takes the set 3-1 over Yuree’s Yveltal Groudon. So that happened. I then realized that we had to sign up with our Battle Boxes ready TODAY. I got Yuree to trade me the mons that he had prepared in his Battle Box, and I went down to the line.
      In line I got to meet a couple of people I’d never met before, in particular an old online acquaintance,  Stats. Stats is a really cool dude who I first started talking to when I was a little kid back in 2013. He was super chill and helped me out a ton over the weekend.
      I then realized that I didn’t have my computer with me. So I had to borrow DaWoblefet’s computer to use Nugget Bridge’s damage calc (because there was no internet) to figure out what my spreads were while I was IN LINE (I sat down in a chair next to the line) and re-EV all my Pokémon that had the wrong stats from the Liberty Garden Invitational. The reset bags I had prepared were very useful, as were the horde locations that I remembered. I finally saw Gavin in the line, and he helped me out by showing me his DS to let me figure out the rest of the spreads (I tried to use the stat levels of the Pokémon; it was a pain.)
      (pic of me trying to figure out what Manectric’s spread was. I have just now realized that I was super wrong. )
      168 SpA Mega Manectric Hidden Power Water vs. 252 HP / 92 SpD Primal Groudon in Heavy Rain: 204-240 (98.5 – 115.9%) – 87.5% chance to OHKO
      160 SpA Mega Manectric Hidden Power Water vs. 252 HP / 92 SpD Primal Groudon in Heavy Rain: 196-232 (94.6 – 112%) – 68.8% chance to OHKO

      So now you guys know my actual Manectric spread.
      Huh.
      It was super bad, my B guys.
      I really should have checked it out after day 1.
       
      Blame Gavin for having the wrong spread.
        Then we chilled out and had dinner and I went to bed.
        The next day we had to be at the venue by 9, so I set a bunch of alarms to be up at 7:30. I woke up at 8:35 and started freaking out, going to shower and get in line very quickly.
      When I got out of the shower and looked at the clock, I realized that instead of it being 8:35, it was 6:35.
      I was really wound up about this tournament, as you can all see.
      I went to get some breakfast (I think I had a bagel) with Flash and Sekiam right before we got into the event. I was hyped up, and I realized what I had to say to myself; they asked me how I was going to do, and I said I was the smartest, so I was going to have the best thoughts and then win all my matches as a result. They both kinda laughed a bit, but I was taking myself seriously. I couldn’t honestly tell myself I was the best player, but I could tell myself I was the smartest, which I thought would give me the confidence I needed.
        When we got to the event it was extraordinarily difficult to figure out where to go, but eventually I found a room with a TV and some Europeans and Australians. I was freaking out so Sam (Zelda, @ZeldaVGC) told me that it would all be ok, that I would play someone named Diego or something Round 1 and it would be easy. After some shenanigans involving a terrible crab Pokémon and quite a bit of delays, we got ready for the first round.
        Day 1 Games
        Round 1: Diego Llanes

      Crobat/Liepard/Xerneas/Groudon/Kangaskhan/Cresselia
        Going into Team Preview, I let out a bit of a sigh of relief. This was just a Groudon Xerneas team, a nice way to ease into Day 1. I noted that he didn’t have Smeargle and did have Cresselia, which made me inclined to bring Talonflame over Bronzong (especially because Liepard into Gengar Zong is pretty scary). I led Gengar and Talonflame, and in the back, I brought Groudon and Kyogre.
        Game 1
        Turn 1: vs.
      I decide that Round 1 Game 1 Turn 1 of Day 1 of Worlds is not the time to be taking big risks, so I Protect Gengar and Will-o-Wisp the Kangaskhan with Talon. This works out pretty ok, as my opponent Mega Evolves Kangaskhan, revealing that he is not Scrappy and uses Fake Out on Talonflame, activating Rocky Helmet, while going for Icy Wind with Cresselia for the BIG DAMAGE. (I also might have just went for wisp with Gengar, I forget exactly).
        Turn 2: vs.
      He’s locked in now, so I decide to make sure both of his mons are burned and taking damage. He goes for a Sucker Punch into Gengar and Cress Icy Winds again, revealing that it definitely doesn’t have Psychic.
        The rest of this particular game is a bit fuzzy, but he does reveal that he is Thunderbolt Groudon, and that his Xerneas is probably Specs, something I cross out in the next game, but later gets reaffirmed.
        Game 2
      Last game went pretty well; I didn’t see much of a need for Bronzong, and I was still a bit freaked out by Liepard. I decided to bring the exact same 4.
        Turn 1: vs
      This game I really don’t want to just get Foul Play’d by the Liepard turn 1, so since his Cresselia only has Icy Wind and is thus no threat to Talonflame, I go for the pretty reasonable play of Mega Evolve and  Protect the Gengar and Will-o-Wisp the Liepard.
        Turn 2: vs
      I forgot about Encore, so I just went for what I thought was the safe play of Sludge Bombing Liepard and Will-o-Wisp Cresselia. Fortunately, his Liepard didn’t use Encore, got destroyed and his Cresselia got burned, as his Icy Wind missed my Gengar.

      Turn 3: vs
      I knew he had Thunderbolt on Groudon, so I was kinda scared of that going into the Talonflame slot, but I was also kinda scared of the Cresselia’s Trick Room combined with the Groudon’s Protect. I played the 50/50 wrong, thinking that he would be more scared of the Gengar HP Water than of the Taunt Talonflame, and went for the Protect + Taunt, which was a bit silly: he was never going to attack Gengar in any scenario I had thought of. Sadly, he goes straight for the Thunderbolt on Talonflame, knocking it out before I could Taunt, due to the Icy Wind Speed drops, letting him set up Trick Room with Cresselia.
        I send in Kyogre because Groudon has no place in this situation.
        Turn 4: vs (Rain)
      My opponent OBVIOUSLY set up Trick Room because he has slow, 84 Speed Cresselia. His Cresselia is definitely going to underspeed my Kyogre. Additionally, his Earth Power onto Gengar is pretty obvious. Considering this, I go for Ice Beam onto Groudon and double Protect my Gengar. The turn starts and I get the double Protect. Then Ice Beam goes off into Groudon. At this point my face furrows into a frown. His Groudon goes for Earth Power and Cresselia THEN goes for Skill Swap. I stare up at my opponent in horror at his team choices as he just smiles. It is at this point that I know I will absolutely destroy him in game 3 if it comes to that.
       
      Turn 5: vs (Sun)
      I just go for the same play as there’s nothing better to do in this situation. Ice Beam drops his Groudon to a bit above ⅓, he gets the Earth Power on the Gengar as the triple Protect fails, and his Cresselia actually reverses Trick Room, which was a fantastic play on his part.
        Turn 6: vs
      I realize two things here. First, I can’t really win unless his Groudon just faints right now. Second, I’ve been playing really defensively the whole set. Thus, he’s probably going to go for a Thunderbolt on Kyogre. Mostly I just believe that. So, in the first of many times this tournament, I just man up and go for Eruption Ice Beam as his Cresselia goes for Icy Wind and his Groudon goes for Thunderbolt. I pop off as Cresselia and Groudon get DELETED.
        Turn 6: vs
      I just Fire Punch and Ice Beam as he reveals Grass Knot (and thus, Choice Specs) onto the Groudon for not enough damage. Next turn I clean up.
          WW (1-0)
        I walk back to the social area to check on all my friends, seeing that a surprisingly large number of them, including Gavin (<3) have lost. I’m kinda sad, but I have to get back into my own head and get ready for Round 2.  
            Round 2: Sergio Subercaseux

      Gengar/Cresselia/Kangaskhan/Whimsicott/Groudon/Kyogre
        I see this in Team Preview and get a bit freaked out. My team has a pretty bad Cresselia matchup already, and Cresselia Primals can get really gross. Further, he has the Gengar Whimsicott shenanigans that can get a bit screwy. My opponent also won round 1 and I have no information on him. I know I have to play on the top of my game in order to win. I decide to lead with Manectric Talonflame, Manectric being good in the Primals mirror, and Talonflame being pretty good vs Cresselia/Whimsicott/Kangaskhan/Gengar. I bring Primals in the back, because I need damage.
        LONG SECTION ON TIMER
        Now is probably an important time to note: I decide to take this Primals team to timer as much as possible. What do I mean by that? I do not make different plays earlier on in the game in order to arrive at timer, but I start ticking down the clock as early as I can to bring timer into the game. This is because my double Primals matchup is atrocious, but if I can outplay people and use the natural bulk of Primals and Bronzong (which you’ll see later) combined with the artificial bulk and timer stalling of Manectric and its Volt Switch, I can end the game with a slight advantage when I might be about to lose if the game plays out.
        I had the idea of going to timer because of an earlier discussion Gavin and I had had, referring to the Gengar Zong part of the team against Kangaskhan Smeargle and Salamence Smeargle. We noticed that If you trapped them in and, in the case of Salamence, Skill Swapped away their Aerilate, Kangaskhan Smeargle and Salamence Smeargle would be unable to do any damage. We thought it would be amusing and successful to use their inability to do damage, or switch, to take the games really slowly and win on timer. In practice, this wasn’t as successful as I would have liked, as most opportunities I had to do that ended with me just winning.
        Is timer good for the game?
      The game needs a timer. Period. Minimize is complete BS and it has almost no place in a competitive system. Guard Split + Chansey is also complete BS and has no place in a competitive system. Shedinja is BS (Looking at you, Jon (Jhufself, @Jhufself)). Sometimes, CM Cress is BS. So the timer exists to prevent strategies like that from just taking over the game. However, if I’m being realistic, the timer probably wasn’t created to allow me to end games the way I ended some of them. With that in mind, I think there are a few reasons timer was a big deal at the World Championships.
      First: Primal Reversion takes forever. Often times no moves would occur in games before the 12 minute mark, just because there were so many animations just being flung around. Similarly, Skill Swap is extremely prevalent and wastes a lot of time, because the weather has to be turned off and then turned back on again. Moody is also a thing. Basically, there is a lot of dead time due just to the format.
      Second: Smeargle can put things to sleep, allowing the timer to run down while your opponent can’t make any moves (See: JiveTime vs Trista (
      Third: Wolfe and I were both playing to timer, so you were going to see a lot of it.

      I think people misunderstand timer a lot on the Internet. They think it’s some sort of broken strategy that can’t be beat and has no counterplay. However, playing to timer A) is extraordinarily difficult and can easily backfire. I’ll show you an example of B in my Day 2 Round 7 Swiss recap. Anyone who thinks “Oh I’ll just timer people” doesn’t understand the intricacies of a team that is able to go to timer and of controlling the board state so the game ends precisely the turn you want it to.
        In conclusion, I think timer is really interesting and valuable, and it was kinda luck that timer ended up being so common at Worlds. I would welcome a couple of changes to the timer and would not like some others. I think Volt Switch/U-turn/Eject Button switch timer could be decreased to 30 seconds. I do not think it should be decreased far past that, as the whole point of Volt Switch etc. is that you should be able to react to the situation that has developed during the turn, as they allow you to make later choices. However, 45 seconds is probably not necessary to make those choices and those extra 15 seconds are probably just for timer stalling.
        I think the in-game timer could be increased, if not to 20 minutes, to 17 or 18 minutes, to add 2-3 more turns to the game. I think if that happened, fewer people would be willing to play to timer because of how far away it is, and thus games might actually go faster. 20 is pretty long for a tournament, and after seeing how long Day 2 Worlds took (sorry about my pretty large role in making that happen), I don’t think we need longer games.
      Even at the game time we had, very few (only 7 if I remember correctly) of my games went to time.

      I do not think the game should force you to make a choice if it is the only one you have remaining. The timer when you select your Pokémon, even if you can’t actually make any meaningful decisions, does a couple of things. 1) It allows you to select slots in case there’s a Ditto on the opposing team. 2) It gives a benefit to a person who has recently been disadvantaged. If you’re down Pokémon, you deserve a chance to think out your turn properly, with double the time your opponent has. Giving someone that chance can turn a game around, and makes games more even. The fact that you, the random reader, may not take that time does not mean that that time is not advantageous for reasons that are not directly related to timer stalling.
        I’m saddened by the VGC ‘17 timer change. I think that TPCi took away an interesting mechanic for one that will probably lead to a bunch of problems. If there is an overall in game timer though, I think the change won’t be that meaningful. ANYWAY, I was supposed to be playing a set.
          Game 1
        Turn 1: vs
      This turn was a bit weird, and I was close to doubling the Gengar. However, I trusted in my instincts, noting that his Kyogre didn’t really have that much pressure on it, while the Gengar did, especially from Talonflame, and also noting that  Gengar tend to Mega Evolve and Protect turn 1. Considering all of that, I just go for Volt Switch on the Kyogre and Tailwind. His Gengar Protects, and Volt Switch goes on Kyogre, doing around 30%. My Groudon comes in and blocks his Kyogre’s Scald.

      Turn 2: Vs (Sun)
      I know that Groudon is probably coming in, and I don’t want to miss, so I go for Eruption instead of Precipice Blades. Furthermore, I expect Kyogre to switch out in order to reset the rain in a couple of turns. In order to cover Kyogre not switching, I go for Brave Bird onto it. My opponent decides that his best play is to switch Gengar into Groudon and to not even Protect Kyogre. His Kyogre gets obliterated and his Groudon takes > 50%.
        Turn 3: vs
      My Groudon is still faster than his Groudon because I am still in Tailwind. Further, my Talonflame is faster than Whimsicott for the same reason. I decide to not break a winning formula and go for Brave Bird on Whimsicott and Eruption. My opponent’s Groudon Protects as Brave Bird does not activate the (presumed) Focus Sash on Whimsicott and Groudon finishes it off.
        Turn 4: vs
      I have Kyogre in the back and I don’t even consider Skill Swap Mega Gengar, so I go for the pretty safe play of Precipice Blades + Brave Bird the Groudon to put it into Ice Beam range (at least that’s what I think I did with Talon, that’s pretty smart if I did.) He Protects Gengar and goes for the Rock Slide… which misses my Talonflame and doesn’t flinch my Groudon. He forfeits at 4-1.
        Game 2
       
      I see absolutely no reason to deviate from my gameplan of outplaying him; he doesn’t really have anything better to do, and most of my other leads are suboptimal. I bring the same Pokémon.

      Turn 1: vs
      You know when you think a play will work but you don’t actually think it will work, you’re mostly just hoping it’ll work? That was the feeling I got this turn. I haven’t revealed my Hidden Power yet. And I’m just kinda hoping that he doesn’t switch. I also think he might Protect Gengar again. Even as I’m saying this I know I’m lying. I’m mostly just hoping it works out. However, I have a plan if it doesn’t work out. I switch in Kyogre and go for the HP Water on Groudon as Groudon Protects and Gengar Mega Evolves and Sludge Bombs Kyogre, scoring a poison.
        Turn 2: vs (Rain)
      I know that in this position, as a fellow DP player, he’s going to go for a switch into Kyogre and something else. I just Thunder the Groudon slot and Origin Pulse. He switches Groudon into Kyogre and takes the brunt of the Thunder and paralysis right to the face. His Gengar Protects itself from the Origin Pulse and his Kyogre gets knocked down to 10%.
        Turn 3: vs
      I think I just Volt Switch the Kyogre to cover Kyogre not Protecting and Ice Beam the Gengar?? Not entirely sure what plays I make this turn. His Kyogre doesn’t Protect, gets knocked out and his Gengar gets knocked down to just above 50%, and I send in Talonflame (it might have been Ice Beam the Kyogre to cover the Groudon switch-in and Volt Switch the Gengar??). He Sludge Bombs my Kyogre, which survives with 14 HP and faints to Poison.
        I send in Manectric to get an Intimidate on the probable Groudon incoming.
      Notice at this point that the only Pokémon that can hit his Groudon is my own Groudon; this is important as it dictates the remainder of my gameplan: set up Tailwind and sweep.
        Turn 4: vs  
      I think I go for Protect Tailwind? That sounds about right. I think his Gengar Protects as well. I might have gone for Volt Switch on Gengar though. He uses Rock Slide, which does pitiful damage (for a Rock Slide) to Talonflame and either misses Manectric or I Protected, I don’t remember.
        Turn 5: vs
      He just Protected with Gengar, so there’s definitely a Whimsicott incoming. I double the Gengar slot with Volt Switch and Brave Bird to make sure the Whimsicott can’t set up Tailwind. I also just pray he doesn’t Blades the switch-in. Whimsicott gets destroyed and he doesn’t Blades the switch-in.
        Turn 6: vs
      I think he might be going for something like a double Protect, so I consider scouting it out. Right around the time I click my moves, I realize he’s probably going to Protect his Gengar and attack with Groudon, which would really suck. However, I play into it, going for Volt Switch on the Gengar and Precipice Blades, thinking that if my Volt Switch hits, my Blades will OHKO his Groudon. His Gengar Protects, my Blades does around 65% and his Precipice Blades from his -2 Groudon does NOT knock out my Manectric, leaving it with 5 HP. It also does less than 50% to my Groudon. EV spreads bailing me out from a bad situation (<3 you Gavin).
        Turn 7: vs
      I make the same play; he doesn’t Protect with either Pokémon despite it being the last turn of Tailwind, and I take Game 2.
        WW (2-0)
        I walk over to my friends to hear the irritating news: Gavin had to play Angel in round 2, knocking Angel into the 0-2 bracket, one round away from elimination for the next 6 rounds. I spend it telling them how I beat this guy and psyching myself up for the next round.
        Round 3: Ferdinando Vincenti

      Kangaskhan/Salamence/Thundurus/Bronzong/Groudon/Kyogre
        Again, I don’t recognize this name. I’m sitting next to Markus (13Yoshi37, @13Yoshi37) though, which is nice. My opponent suggests that he saw me at Liverpool (UK Nationals), and we engage in some banter about that.
      We get into the game and I sigh. Dual yamsing Primals. I note that he doesn’t have Cresselia and that Talonflame gets dunked on by most of his team and as a result decide to bring Manectric Bronzong, with both Primals in the back.

      I can’t do this set turn by turn, as now Primal mirrors turn into a lot of shenanigans, involving Volt Switching, switching, switching and more switching, with occasional Origin Pulses. The game came down to Manectric + Kyogre vs Bronzong at 30%, Kyogre at very high health and a Salamence at 70%, outside of Trick Room. I think his Kyogre was faster than mine. I think that he might want to not Protect Kyogre in order to take out my Manectric or something. This wasn’t a very properly thought out turn. I go for the double Thunder into Kyogre as he Protects his Kyogre. I put my head in my hands, expecting a game 2. However, he actually went for Gyro Ball, in what I can only assume was a misclick. Thanking God that I was put back in this game, I went for the same play next turn. Manectric’s Thunder KO’s the Salamence switch in. Kyogre’s Thunder KO’s the Bronzong. He forfeits.
        Game 2 was a bit cleaner, but I remember absolutely none of it. I walk out feeling pretty good about life
        WW (3-0)
        Round 4: Nimiel Catipon (Leimin, @LeiminVGC)

      Kangaskhan/Zapdos/Whimsicott/Bronzong/Groudon/Kyogre
       
      I don’t recognize the name, and I think I’m lucky for playing probably the only 4-0 player from the Philippines. I’m celebrating a bit inside until I sit down in front of Leimin. Leimin is a pretty unknown player who I got to know on PS thanks to Enosh talking about him all the yamsing time. I’ve seen him top the ladder again and again so I know he’s good.
      I’ve seen him use Life Orb Whimsicott before, but I wasn’t really even expecting him to bring it.
        Game 1
      I decide to go with the same plan as I did against Ferdinando last round, because my Bronzong beats other Bronzongs on Primals teams.
        I start with Manectric Bronzong with Groudon Kyogre in the back, and he leads Kangaskhan Zapdos, presumably with Groudon Kyogre in the back. I take an early lead, damaging his Kangaskhan with my Volt Switch and setting up Trick Room, while he sets up a +1 Kangaskhan. I go for a Skill Swap on his Kangaskhan and Origin Pulse as I think he sends in Kyogre, while his Kangaskhan reveals Protect. Next turn I go for Skill Swap on my Kyogre to cover the Groudon switch and Origin Pulse… but miss the Kangaskhan. Kangaskhan Double-Edges my Kyogre and the game is pretty much over from there.
        Game 2: I’m kinda flustered, but I don’t let that get to me. I go for the same thing, knowing that A) I don’t really have better options and I probably should have won that game. He leads Kangaskhan Bronzong.
      I mismanage my KOs, and Bronzong is actually Gravity Hypnosis. On Primals. Who’d have thought? It also survives a Precipice Blades in Gravity. Then I lose. RIP.
        LL (3-1)
        Round 5 Ku Chao Chen

      Rayquaza/Xerneas/Talonflame/Thundurus/Scrafty/Smeargle
       
      I don’t know this name, which continues to be a plus. Him being from Taiwan gives me a bit of hope as well, but I know I need to be careful of the gimmicks that might befall me. When we get into the game, I breathe a sigh of relief. I know this team. I basically built this team (Enosh actually built this team)  And my matchup is fantastic, because when I played Gavin in the reverse matchup, I got quickly 2-0’d. Game 1 I decide to just go with what Gavin used against me: Gengar Bronzong with Primals in back. Gengar Bronzong pressures Xerneas and Rayquaza pretty well, and it’s hard for them to deal with it.
        Game 1
        Turn 1: vs
      In the traditional X-Ray team, that Talonflame is Red Card, so I’m not too worried about its damage output. Further, I don’t want to let my Kyogre take any damage, so I go for Will-o-Wisp on Rayquaza while doing something with Bronzong. Turns out it’s a Choice Band Talonflame, which deletes the Bronzong with Flare Blitz, while Rayquaza gets burned, but launches a non-Mega Draco Meteor into my Gengar, which survives with 23 HP. I send in Kyogre because Groudon has no place here.
        Turn 2: vs
      He can’t switch out Talonflame as it has taken a bunch of damage, and it’s locked into a non-priority move. Sludge Bomb on it is thus very safe. Further, I can just Ice Beam the Rayquaza for the knock out. I think he goes for the Mega Dragon Ascent into Kyogre expecting my Gengar to Protect. 2 knockouts, easy.
        He might have brought Smeargle Xerneas? I’m not sure. All I know is I Sludge Bombed and Ice Beamed the Xerneas and it fainted.
        Game 2: There’s no chance I lead Bronzong again after how it got dunked in the last game. I decide that Talonflame can come to this game instead. I bring both Primals because Primals are god.
        Turn 1: vs
      Not really sure what I had expected in Team Preview, but I guess this is about as good as I could get. In this position it looks like he’s going to Brave Bird the Gengar and Fake Out Talonflame, so I protect the Gengar and Brave Bird his Talonflame. He does indeed Brave Bird into the Protect, my Brave Bird goes into his Talonflame doing a pitiful 40%, and his Scrafty’s Knock Off does around 50% to my Talonflame.
        Turn 2: vs
      First, I convinced myself that because his Talonflame was faster than mine it was Jolly Choice Band, and thus my Gengar would survive a Brave Bird. (This is in fact not the case as my Talonflame is slower than Adamant max Speed Talonflame, but I convinced myself that this was true. Further, my Gengar does survive an Adamant Choice Band Brave Bird, which I thought was a possibility). Second, I noticed that if he Brave Birded the Talonflame and I switched, I would be in a really terrible position for next turn, because I would just have to switch my Gengar back in. So I decided to just wing it and double the Talonflame slot (Brave Bird from my Talonflame to make sure his Talonflame would faint if it attacked my Gengar). You can be sure when I saw him Brave Bird my Talonflame I popped off. I think he also knocked off my Gengar.
        Turn 3: vs
      This turn I just felt the Truth. He couldn’t risk attacking with his Xerneas. Thus, I make the hard read of Sludge Bomb the Scrafty + Origin Pulse it. Xerneas Protects, Scrafty gets deleted. In retrospect, I should have protected instead of killing the Scrafty to ensure game security, as letting him send in Rayquaza was quite dangerous
          Turn 4: vs
      I double the Xerneas with Ice Beam and Sludge Bomb to knock it out and the game finishes pretty quickly from there. It was perfectly safe since it had protected last turn.
        Note that my memory for this round is a bit hazy; I could be incorrect about many of these details.
        WW (4-1)
        Round 6  Kazi Rahman (Awakened City, @AwakenedCityVGC)

      Kangaskhan/Cresselia/Bronzong/Thundurus/Groudon/Kyogre.
       
      This is a name I see all the time. Kazi is a New York local who has started really competing this year. 2015 was his first year, but he’s shown up a lot more in 2016, in more ways than one. Going into this match, our record was 1-2 in favor of Kazi, where he beat me at the first PC of the season and in NPA, and I beat him in a bo3 tournament for something. However, I kinda have a read on his playstyle, and he did very poorly at the NY/NJ invitational, so I’m not particularly scared. However, when I see his team I freak out a bit.
      God bidoof it. Another yamsing dual Primals team. Unfortunately for you guys, that means I’m not really gonna cover the games.

      Game 1: I lead Manectric Bronzong. He brings Thundurus this game. I play extraordinarily slow and am winning on timer. The game gets pretty sealed however, when I call him HP Watering my Groudon and switch it back into Zong. Making a play like that gives you so much momentum because their Water-type attacks are not pressuring your Groudon if you switch it back in, giving you time to kill the Thundurus/Manectric/Gengar/etc. I win 4-0 at 9 minutes.
        Game 2: He recognizes that Thundurus was not working out for him and brings Cresselia, which only has Icy Wind for damage. Early on in the game I forget to take the full time for my Volt Switch, which ends up costing me. I am winning the midgame really hard by putting a lot of intimidates on Kangaskhan and taking no damage.
      Kazi has Kangaskhan at -2 and Cresselia vs Bronzong Groudon, but then I miss Precipice Blades on a switch to Kyogre, which gives me fewer options. If I had hit the Blades I could have Thundered the Kyogre in the mid-late game. However, I couldn’t, so Kazi gets his Groudon in a good position at the end, which culminates in him getting 2 kills on the last turn to win the game. If I had taken the full Volt Switch time, I think I could have won.
        Game 3: I know that I should have won game 2 if I had played a bit better, so I just go for the same thing again. This game honestly felt like a complete L to me. He brought Imprison Bronzong, which nullified my ability to go for Skill Swap. However, the game came to a point when it was his 50% Kyogre and his Bronzong vs my Groudon and my Kyogre in the rain. My Groudon had just used Protect, I think. (His Kyogre does not have Thunder, <3 non-Thunder Kyogre when my opponents use it). I make the read that he’s going to switch to his Groudon, so I go for Thunder and Precipice Blades to destroy the Bronzong and the Groudon switch-in. In a really strong play, Kazi goes for Scald, knocking out my Groudon while I knock out his Kyogre. At this point, I think that the game is over. He sends in his Groudon, I send in my Manectric. I make the HELLA read that he’s going to Fire Punch my Kyogre, expecting the Bronzong switch in, so I Ice Beam the Groudon instead, while Protecting with Manectric to be safe. I win the game on time off of that, probably because Trick Room ends or something and I get to Volt Switch back into my Kyogre and set up Trick Room. I’m definitely the last game to finish this round, and I win 3-2.
        WLW (5-1)
        Round 7: Cedric Bernier (Talon, @TalonVGC)

      Kangaskhan/Cresselia/Groudon/Xerneas/Talonflame/Smeargle
       
      I know that I’m facing one of the toughest opponents I could face at this point. Cedric is a fantastic Groudon Xerneas player who got top 8 at Nats this year and has been extremely consistent across Regional level tournaments. However, I know I can beat him, and beating him gets me through to day 2. I knew I was in for a ride, but not how MUCH of a ride I was in for (hint: a lot of ride).
        Game 1:
      Looking at Team Preview I’m scared of the Smeargle. Further, I think that his Cresselia might not be 84 Speed and might instead be a faster Cresselia. Thus I lead Gengar Bronzong with Primals in the back.
       
      Turn 1: vs
      That could have gone better. However, I think that if I go for Will-o-Wisp into his Kangaskhan and switch into Kyogre, my board positioning will be overall solid, regardless of his counterplay.
      Cedric switches Kangaskhan into Groudon, setting up the sun only to have the rain take its place. Will-o-Wisp does nothing to his Groudon while Flare Blitz does 0 to Kyogre.
        Turn 2: vs (Rain)
      I play poorly here; there’s no way around it. The correct play is to Protect the Kyogre, Hidden Power Water the Groudon to scout out a Protect +Tailwind, then next turn switch out Gengar into Bronzong and go for the Origin Pulse and hope it hits. However, I didn’t Protect the Kyogre. I just Origin Pulsed. He goes for Protect + Tailwind, Talonflame gets knocked out, Cresselia comes in, and you can see how the rest of the battle went for yourself:
       
        Turn 3:  vs (Rain)
      I think I just want to get the Trick Room advantage in case his Cresselia isn’t 84 Speed, so I can win once Trick Room is up. I also want to Origin Pulse in case he isn’t Skill Swap, just to put me back in the game. In retrospect, I probably should have gone for the HP Water on his Groudon, just to really check his Cresselia’s Speed stat and give me a 15% chance of just winning the game.
        Turn 4: vs (Sun)
      I know I need to preserve rain, so I go for the only possible way I can win: hoping he attacks Kyogre and giving myself the weather advantage in the medium term. It doesn’t work out as he just Fire Punches the Bronzong and Psychics into the Groudon.
        Turn 5: vs
      I protect Gengar in case he doesn’t set up Trick Room, so that way I can get the weather advantage by sending in Kyogre. The game is pretty over though, and Cedric hits his Precipice Blades to seal it up.
        Turn 6: vs (Rain)
      I just hope he misclicks, and I’m trying to reveal the Cresselia Speed. It’s 84 Speed and I lose.
          Game 2: I decide to bring Talonflame this time, to counter his previous lead. It was not necessarily well thought out, as Cedric is a better player than I was used to playing. Game:

      Turn 1: vs
      Not having Chesto Berry on Talonflame hurts a bit here, as my best play is probably to just take both voids for a burn on his Kangaskhan. That is exactly what happens, as his Smeargle gets a Speed boost.
        Turn 2: vs
      I make some play that I forget, probably Will-o-Wisping the Smeargle and Taunting it with my Talonflame. This turn doesn’t matter as both of my Pokémon take the guaranteed turn of sleep, Kangaskhan gets brought into the red by Rocky Helmet and burn, and so does Talonflame. Smeargle gets a Speed DROP, which is even worse, because now it might be slower than my Gengar and use Dark Void after Gengar wakes up, putting it right back to sleep.
        Turn 3: vs
      I go for Protect on Gengar because I know that if Gengar wakes up and does a thing, his Smeargle could underspeed it very easily and put it back to sleep, which would put me in a bad position for the rest of the game. I also go for Tailwind to give myself Speed control. Both my Pokémon wake up, which is bad, because if Gengar hadn’t woken up, I could have woken it up next turn and Protected maybe, which would have been better considering what the Smeargle did. Further, if I had Sludge Bombed the Kangaskhan, it turned out that I probably would have won? You’ll see why.

      Turn 4: vs
      I recognize the problem with this situation. My Gengar has just used Protect, so I can’t Protect myself and safely target down the Cresselia. The proper play in this situation is guaranteed Fire Punch and Sludge Bomb the Cresselia. There’s no question about it. He’s probably going to go for Trick Room, baiting me into knocking out the Smeargle. I think I go for Sludge Bomb the Smeargle + Eruption, as his Dark Void goes off before my Groudon attacks, which would have been great for me if it had HIT THE Groudon, but it didn’t and I knock out his Smeargle with Sludge Bomb + Eruption, doing some chip damage to the Cresselia.
        Turn 5: vs
      From here on out I have to play as if he is going to misplay, so I go for the Precipice Blades. He doesn’t misplay, he gets the Skill Swap, and he wins the game from here.
        I’m a bit salty after that, and looking back on it, I didn’t really consider my faults in that match. The most important thing about this team, especially when facing Cresselia teams, is board position and how you manage your kills. When Smeargle is on the field, not killing it can be really important. If I had managed to take out the Cresselia with, say, double Fire Punch + Sludge Bomb, there would have been a third game.
      I brush it off though, as Cedric is really really good, and he played better than me. I look at my pairings to see my next match. I know that I have a second chance to take home the final victory I need.
        LL (5-2)
        Round 8: Markell Thornton (Mellow, @MellowVGC)

      Kangaskhan/Salamence/Cresselia/Smeargle/Xerneas/Groudon
      I see this name and I’m really confused. He’s from America. But I’ve never heard of him. I go around asking people. None of them had ever heard of him. I take it as a really, really good thing that I’ve never heard of him, and count myself lucky. As I sit down, I’m surrounded by Paul Chua, Baz Anderson, Riley Factura, and just count myself lucky that I’m not playing them. I realize that I’m out of water and send Yuree to go get me more water. Except I give him the water bottle from the guy next to me. Fortunately, it was pretty empty, and Yuree gets it back pretty quick.
          Game 1: I go with my standard plan, which is Gengar Bronzong with Groudon and Kyogre in the back. Markell leads Kangaskhan Smeargle. I get a bit freaked out, but I just go for Mega + W-o-W and Safeguard. I breathe a sigh of relief as things get burnt, there’s no Crafty Shield, and I win the game. Some stuff happens like he KOes his own Smeargle for momentum, but then Kyogre Bronzong things happen iirc. He reveals that he’s Low Kick, which makes me really happy.
        Game 2: I see no reason to change things up: Salamence is still scary, and he’s shown that he can’t beat Gengar Bronzong. I lead Gengar Bronzong with Groudon Kyogre in the back.
        Turn 1: vs
      I think for a while and then I just know. Turn 1 begins and I’m gesturing at Lega and Kamz who are standing outside of the player area behind Markell to watch. Salamence switches out for Groudon. At this point I pump my fist and then pray that I didn’t misclick. Groudon takes its time Primal Reverting, roaring like the big idiot it is. Bronzong switches out and in comes the Big Blue Fish, who also roars, and sets up the rain. Gengar Mega Evolves and puts its feet on the ground. I see I didn’t misclick as HIDDEN POWER goes off and Groudon gets DELETED. Cresselia uses Psychic on my Gengar, leaving it with 23 HP.
        At this moment, I’m sure I’ve gotten my Day 2. I relax for a bit. Then Markell sends in Xerneas.
        Turn 2: vs
      I realize that I can still lose, because Pokémon is a silly game and Xerneas is a silly Pokémon. I look at my ways to lose, and they seem to all consist of Xerneas getting a boost while unpunished. This turn it looks like my Gengar is likely to Protect, as the Cresselia is putting a lot of pressure on it. I also recognize that he can’t hit Bronzong. Further, my Gengar is probably going to faint this turn, because he needs to put pressure on it so it can’t OHKO the Xerneas. Thus, I decide to go for Origin Pulse + Sludge Bomb the Xerneas. The Xerneas goes for the Geomancy, Origin Pulse hits and it gets dropped. Cresselia also goes for an Icy Wind that fails to KO my Gengar, which is actually huge.

      Turn 3: vs
      My team is generally pretty weak at dealing with Salamence if my Kyogre has taken a lot of damage, and his Cresselia probably has Trick Room, so if Kyogre goes down, the game can get a bit tricky. However, my Gengar has survived so far. I can Skill Swap away Salamence’s Aerilate with Bronzong. After that, I can use only 100% accurate moves on the Cresselia to deal damage to it. In order to do this, I need to protect my Gengar. I switch Gengar into Bronzong and Protect Kyogre in order to prevent Double-Edge from Salamence from KOing my Kyogre. He goes for HH Double-Edge into the Protect.
        Turn 4:  vs
      I realize that I can just go for Ice Beam on the Cresselia (instead of Origin Pulse) and Skill Swap the Salamence. So I do. He goes for Protect on the Salamence and Psychic onto my Kyogre, dropping me to around 75%, as Skill Swap gets blocked by Protect. In retrospect, Thunder would do more damage.
        Turn 5: vs
      I go for the safe play of Protecting my Kyogre and Skill Swapping his Salamence. His only out to this play was to Skill Swap away the Aerilate first with his Cresselia, but that doesn’t make any sense. He goes for the Helping Hand Double-Edge into the Protect and then forfeits.
        And I’m in day 2. Some of my friends give hugs, some don’t because they’re so sad.
      Then I go to watch JiveTime vs Trista, which was a set and a half. You can look that up for yourself on Youtube. After that, it was time for Jeudy’s 5-2 match. If you have not seen it, go watch it now:
       
      This match is basically VGC 16 in a nutshell. Also Jeudy in a nutshell. This led me to make some team decisions.
       
       
      Day 2 Team differences:
       
      Groudon @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Drought  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 188 HP / 44 Atk / 156 SpA / 68 SpD / 52 Spe  
      Quiet Nature  
      - Eruption  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Protect  
      This Groudon is slightly better than the one above. The slight difference in Atk EVs is pretty marginal, and it still preserves the calc that they were designed for, which is a 2HKO on 252 HP 0 Def Xerneas with Fire Punch. 52 Speed hits 105 stat, which allows you to outspeed Scarf Smeargle in Tailwind.
        Talonflame @ Chesto Berry  
      Ability: Gale Wings  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 108 Atk / 76 Def / 20 SpD / 52 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Brave Bird  
      - Taunt  
      - Tailwind  
      - Will-O-Wisp  
        Chesto is just better than Helmet. Helmet was putting in little work; when the Kangaskhan is burned and trapped, I don’t really care how fast the Kangaskhan goes down. All that matters is that I can control the sleepiness of my Talonflame.
            Going into Day 2 part of this report, there will be fewer turn by turn games as I didn’t have enough time to tell people about them after I played them like I did in day 1. A lot more sets, a lot more games.
        Day 2
        Round 1: Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs, @JamieBoytVGC)

      Xerneas/Rayquaza/Gyarados/Whimsicott/Arcanine/Scrafty
      You can watch about his team here:
       
       
      I’m a tiny bit scared, because I’ve played Boyt before, and it always feels like he manages to play me. I feel like he’s able to play me because I understand that he’s an offensive player who likes to play on reads, so I try to read him when I don’t need to. However, I do know that he’s using X-Ray, so I’m feeling pretty ok about this. His team looks a bit unconventional, but at least it’s not Scarf Smeargle. Scarf Smeargle is scary and silly.
        Game 1: I lead with Gengar and Bronzong, with Groudon Kyogre in the back. I think he led Scrafty Gyarados. I don’t remember the entire details of this game, but I burn his AV Icy Wind Rayquaza, I crit his Scrafty to make the midgame a bit more comfortable, and I think I end up 4-0ing him. His Gyarados reveals that it is Thunder Wave.
        Game 2: I lead Gengar Talonflame with Groudon Kyogre in the back. I’m comfortable doing this because I know his Rayquaza doesn’t have Protect. He leads Xerneas Gyarados.
        Turn 1: vs
      My first instinct is to think that he’s definitely not going to keep Xerneas in in front of a Mega Gengar. However, he doesn’t have particularly good switches into Sludge Bomb. I decide to go for Taunt on the Gyarados and Sludge Bomb to cover for the Thunder Wave and to punish any switches or attacks with Xerneas on reads. Unfortunately, Jamie goes for Protect with the Xerneas and Icy Winds with his Gyarados.
        In retrospect, the proper play that turn would have been Protecting my Gengar and Taunting the Xerneas slot, but I was scared of a potential switch and Waterfall the Talonflame, which he could do, as my Gengar hadn’t Mega Evolved yet.
        I don’t particularly remember the rest of this game, but I know I mess up my risk-reward and end up Brave Birding something that wasn’t a +2 Xerneas and the Xerneas gets off an attack.
        Game 3: I think about the game again, and this is where my flaws in Team Preview start showing up. My poor Team Preview will be a theme throughout this Day 2. I decide to go Gengar Bronzong to cover what he just went for, with Kyogre Groudon in the back.

      Turn 1: vs
      I just don’t switch out Bronzong. I kinda predicted Jamie to go for a double onto the Gengar in order to heavily punish an attempt to switch to Kyogre and burn the Rayquaza. He Flare Blitzes Bronzong as I Protect Gengar and I forfeit one or two turns later.
        WLL (0-1)
        I walk away from the table a bit disappointed, but not particularly discouraged: I know that Jamie is a very good player despite his… interesting team choices.
        I just cool down, tell people kinda what happened, and get ready for the next round. When I look at the pairings board I get a bit depressed. My friends tell me that I can definitely do it, and to just focus. I take the advice and go to sit down.
          Round 2: Hideyuki Taida (BIDCp, @BIDCp)

      Xerneas/Rayquaza/Talonflame/Landorus-Therian/Amoonguss/Smeargle
      BIDCp was the Worlds runner up in 2015, so I knew I was in for a match and a half.
      I was a bit more scared before Team Preview. XRay is one of the teams I like my matchup against, again. His team does seem a bit weird though; Amoonguss can be troubling, and I haven’t played against any Landorus-Therian.
        Game 1
      I do not remember the specifics. I do remember that I led Gengar Bronzong, with Groudon and Kyogre in the back, just as my standard go-to vs XRay and a lot of switching ensued. I traded Ray for Gengar, and I remember thinking by my positioning that if he had Amoonguss in the back that I had lost. He had Amoonguss in the back. However, I had started off by timer stalling, because XRay does no damage, especially when they don’t bring the X. Also, the Amoonguss had Foul Play instead of Grass Knot. There were a couple of turns that were particularly important:
        Turn Z: vs
      My Groudon had just taken an Earthquake, and was left at 84 HP. Trick Room had just ended, and Smeargle Wide Guarded. I thought he might predict a Protect and went for Fire Punch on the Landorus and Trick Room. However, Hideyuki made a really smart play and switched into Amoonguss and Earthquaked. Amoonguss covered my Trick Room Protect play, and Earthquake covered my Fire Punch. However, I didn’t notice that it was just a good play. After this turn I assumed it was a Choice Band Landorus.
       
      Then some stuff happened.

      Final turn(by timer): vs
      I went for the safe play of Skill Swapping the Landorus-T, to take its intimidate and reduce Landorus’s damage and Protecting with Kyogre. Hideyuki Protected Amoonguss and Exploded. After this turn, I was sure that it was a Choice Band Landorus.
        Game 2: I decide to go for the same thing as last game because it worked so well. I couldn’t see what he could do to Gengar Bronzong, with Groudon Kyogre in the back. This starts (not a streak, but a trend) of Game 2s going horribly horribly wrong.
        Turn 1: vs
      Looking at his options as a CB Landorus-T, I expect him to go for an Earthquake and Dark Void, or switch to Rayquaza. In retrospect, my thought process wasn’t super great this turn. Anyway, I go for the no Mega Will-o-Wisp onto the Landorus and Safeguard. This works out about as poorly as it could have, as Hideyuki goes for a Knock Off onto Bronzong and Dark Voids.
        My mons stay asleep. I think I knock one out and show that he brought Talonflame and Rayquaza.

      It’s here that I do the first intelligent thing in Team Preview in the tournament. I realize that Hideyuki hasn’t been bringing Xerneas, and that against Landorus Rayquaza Smeargle, Groudon does absolutely nothing. So I decide to be a bit crazy. I lead Talonflame Kyogre with Gengar Bronzong in the back. There were a couple reasons for this. 1) Talonflame outspeeds Rayquaza before it Mega Evolves, and so I can burn it when it gets sent out. That’s huge, because Rayquaza is his only real source of damage. 2) His Smeargle had been revealed to have Focus Sash, I think, so I can just Taunt it. 3) I don’t need Groudon > Talonflame to beat Xerneas, because he’s not bringing Xerneas. I bring Gengar anyways because Manectric probably wouldn’t do enough.
        Turn 1: vs
      I’m thinking hard about this turn. First, it’s pretty obvious that he’s going to double the Kyogre. It’s also pretty obvious that the Kyogre is going to Protect. I go for my usual play of being reasonably aggressive with Kyogre and go for Will-o-Wisp Origin Pulse. My Will-o-Wisp hits, which makes me sigh in relief. Rayquaza goes for Dragon Ascent into my Kyogre and Talonflame goes for U-turn, making me confused about everything I’ve learned this game (Talonflame is Choice Band, making his Landorus probably AV). My Kyogre is left with 98 HP and misses the Origin Pulse on the Smeargle that switches in, but hits the Rayquaza for reasonable damage. I think the Smeargle gets an evasion boost??
        Turn 2: vs (strong winds)
      My play here is pretty obvious: Taunt the Smeargle and switch in Bronzong. If he misses any of a number of Dark Voids, the game is in my control. I'm pretty sure Smeargle avoids the Taunt, and Rayquaza does a bunch of damage to my Talonflame.
        I forget exactly what happens for a couple of turns, but 2 or 3 turns later, he gets an accuracy drop, misses the Bronzong and I get a Safeguard up. Rayquaza gets knocked out somehow, and Landorus has taken some damage. After the evasion boosts, I made a joke about Smeargle, and we both laughed a bit.
        Turn 5? : vs (Safeguard is up).
      This turn is a bit of a mixup. I know he has Talonflame in the back, and my obvious play here is to go for a Protect Trick Room. However, if Hideyuki switches in Talonflame as I Protect + Trick Room, my position will be pretty bad. I think I would win regardless because my Gengar in the back can absorb a Brave Bird as I knock out the Talonflame, and then Kyogre can deal with the Landorus. However, I’m not entirely sure of my damage calculations, so I have to think of a better play. I know that if I can read the Talonflame switch in and don’t Protect my Kyogre, I can go for the Protect + Skill Swap next turn to neuter his Talonflame in Trick Room. I also think that his Landorus can’t KO my Kyogre with Earthquake. I decide to make the safe play and cover almost all of his options by going for Ice Beam on the Landorus-T (to prevent Wide Guard) and Trick Room. Hideyuki switches Talonflame into the Landorus slot, it goes from 60% to 10% and Trick Room gets set up.
        Turn 6?: vs
      I decide to execute the earlier part of my plan and go for the Protect + Skill Swap. Hideyuki switches his Smeargle into Landorus-T and goes for the Brave Bird into Kyogre, just as planned.
        Turn 7?: vs
      I decide that the safest play is to Skill Swap away Intimidate from Landorus-T, reducing the Attack of both of Hideyuki’s Pokémon, which will cover me if I miss one of my two Origin Pulses. I also went for Origin Pulse because I think it was the smartest play; my Bronzong was at reduced Attack so I wasn’t sure it could KO the low HP Talonflame, and I was kinda freaking out. Both Origin Pulses hit and I pop off.
        The game is over and Smeargle gets knocked out soon after.
        WLW (1-1)
        This round was very important to me, as it gave me a lot more confidence, especially considering how differently I had played game 3. Beating the Worlds Runner-Up last year made me feel like I could hang with the big boys, that my day 1 wasn’t just a fluke, and that I wasn’t going to pull a Ben Rothman. My match was one of the last ones to finish, so I went and sat down for a couple minutes before the next round started. I see I’m matched up with
        Round 3 Demitrios Kaguras (kingdjk, @kingdjkVGC)

      Rayquaza/Groudon/Weavile/Ferrothorn/Cresselia/Talonflame
      You can read about the team here: https://vgcwithhats.com/2016/10/23/raydon-is-the-truth-84th-place-worlds-team-report/
        Demitrios is a player who has a solid resume, including top 4 at Regionals and 9th in CP in 2015. I’ve played Demitrios twice before, once in an IC and once in line at 2015 Worlds with Hayden McTavish. Both times he got the best of me. Demitrios is particularly good at making solid reads/calls in situations when he needs it. Going into this round I’m expecting Raydon with Life Orb Rayquaza and Timid Groudon, which is a matchup I’m extremely comfortable with, so I’m not that worried.
      Looking at his team, what I’m scared of is Groudon Cresselia, because if he gets them into the right position, my Water-type moves are a bit useless. I also predict him to bring Ferrothorn in the back, because my team has some issues dealing with it. I decide to not bring Manectric, because trapping Groudon/Rayquaza in would be really nice. I bring Talonflame because A) Tailwind + Eruption is very good vs Raydon and it’s my only Pokémon not named Manectric that can outspeed and deal with Weavile. Groudon is mandatory because that team has nothing that can really take an Eruption and be happy, and Ferrothorn is a Pokémon. Kyogre beats Groudon and takes advantage of the de-synergy that Rayquaza and Groudon can have.
        Game 1
        Turn 1: vs
      My play here is pretty simple, as is his. His play is to go for the Dragon Ascent or the Draco Meteor onto Gengar and Fake Out the Talonflame (or to switch or something). My best play to punish that is to first hope that he goes for Dragon Ascent and Will-o-Wisp the Rayquaza and Tailwind. Demitrios does go for Fake Out on the Talonflame, Will-o-Wisp misses and Dragon Ascent KOes my Gengar. I get a bit salty after this, but I don’t let it phase me.
        I’m not sure what happens for the next couple of turns; I think at some point I switch my Kyogre into a Draco Meteor and switch it back out while firing off high-powered Eruptions at everything. Eventually it comes down to
        Turn X: vs (Sun)
      Groudon is at 5 HP, Talonflame is in Extreme Speed (and maybe Gyro Ball?) range,and I have Kyogre in the back at 134 HP, around 67%. I do not believe the Rayquaza is burned, and it is in Brave Bird range. I think that he might attack the Talonflame or something with the Rayquaza, and that he won’t Protect with Ferrothorn. I also thought it was possible that he goes for a Dragon Ascent into the Groudon, predicting the Kyogre to switch in.
      I’m kinda screwed as the Extreme Speed takes out the Groudon, Talonflame takes out the Rayquaza and Ferrothorn takes out the Talonflame.
        Turn X + 1: vs
      I play to my outs and Ice Beam the Ferrothorn. As Ice Beam goes off, I say “freeze.” Ferrothorn freezes. I pop off a bit, then calm down.
      I just hit it until it faints.

      I know I got a bit lucky game 1, but I feel confident in my matchup. Further, if I had hit the Will-o-Wisp, the entire game changes. I decide to go with the same thing, because I feel I can win with it.
        Game 2
       
      Turn 1: vs
      I am a bit confused: leading Groudon into Gengar can be a death sentence, especially when you have Rayquaza in the back, and are thus almost unable to negate the Rain. I went for Protect with Gengar just to cover any shenanigans he could go for and I think Tailwind with Talonflame, as he goes for the Fake Out on Talonflame and Earth Power into the Gengar.
        Turn 2: vs
      Now I’m really confused (and a tiny bit hopeful). He seems to just… not have any idea it’s coming. If he was scared of HP Water, he would have switched last turn. I just input HP Water and switch my Talonflame into Kyogre. I think Kyogre tanks an Icicle Crash as Groudon evaporates.
        Turn 3: vs
      I think I go for Will-o-Wisp on Rayquaza + Origin Pulse. That covers pretty much everything he can do; I’m predicting Ferrothorn in the back, so nothing can really switch into Origin Pulse without taking a bunch of damage, and if I burn the Rayquaza, the game is 100% over. Demitrios goes for a Protect with the now Mega Rayquaza and Knocks Off the Gengar, putting my Gengar in range for another Knock Off to knock it out. I think I bring Weavile down to sash.
        Turn 4: vs
      I go for Will-o-Wisp + Ice Beam as it secures a late game position no matter what Demitrios does (unless he gets a double Protect, which I can still deal with). He doesn’t go for the double Protect, Knock Off KOes Gengar, Dragon Ascent doesn’t KO Kyogre (thank you, not getting crit), and Rayquaza disappears.
        My Groudon comes in and so does his Ferrothorn. Eruption. GG.
        WW (2-1)
        I have a lot of time after this round, so I go around talking to people. It might be after the next round, but at some point I see someone eating lunch, and my good friend Ansel (Stats) does me a solid and gets me an amazing chicken sandwich, and refuses to let me pay for it. Amazing guy, and one who understands that it’s basically impossible to eat when you play 11 rounds in a day.
        I go to check my pairings, and I see someone who I’ve wanted to play in a tournament for a while:
        Round 4: Grant Weldon (Velocity, @VelocityVGC)

      Salamence/Groudon/Kyogre/Gengar/Bronzong/Togekiss
      You can watch about this team here:
       
      Grant is a player who came out of relatively nowhere to get top 4 at Nationals with my baby, my one, my only, dual Primals. He’s also a member of my old NPA team, the Holy Spirits, so I’ve played with him a couple of times before. I knew this wasn’t going to be easy, and was dreading ANOTHER GOD bidoof DUAL PRIMALS MIRROR
      I had asked Grant to breed some of my mons before the Liberty Garden Invitational a couple of weeks earlier but had tried to obscure some of my team decisions by giving the mons some wrong moves (sorry Grant), so I knew he knew a lot about my team.
      I sit down, and we start Team Preview.
      His team looks like a kind of bastardized version of my NY/NJ invitational team (I had Venusaur > Salamence). That means I know all of the things he can try to do, and what he thinks of the matchup. I also am a bit terrified because I’m expecting him to bring Imprison Bronzong like he did on his Nationals team (Read about it here: http://nuggetbridge.com/blogs/entry/1892-take-no-imprisoners-a-top-4-us-nationals-2016-report).
      I decide to just do the standard stuff here, with Manectric Bronzong Primals in the back.
        Game 1 is pretty standard: Grant leads Salamence Togekiss, My Bronzong doesn’t get flinched as Trick Room gets set up. His Kyogre turns out to be Spout Scald (which makes his Primals matchup even worse).
        Turn X: vs
      His Togekiss is at full, his Kyogre is at 50%ish, in Thunder range. In my mind, it’s completely unsafe for him to switch into Groudon, as I can just go for Skill Swap, so I think he’s staying in with Kyogre. I go for Thunder on the Kyogre and Gyro Ball on the Togekiss. I see Groudon switch in and I’m blown away. Then Grant uses Follow Me. I feel like a fool. Gyro Ball hits and does 47%, and Thunder hits in the sun and crits the Togekiss. The crit did not matter, I think, because of this:  4+ SpA Primal Kyogre Thunder vs. 236 HP / 236 SpD Togekiss: 112-132 (58.9-69.4). The game was pretty much over from that point, as I had control of the weather and the Thunder on Kyogre.
        Game 2
      I didn’t change up my mons. Neither did Grant. The same stuff happened. There was probably timer stall. Sorry for not knowing any of my Primals matchups. They were gross and nothing ever happened.
        WW (3-1)
      I go celebrate with my friends, I think I eat the sandwich now, and I just try to not get messed up by being 3-1. I think I watch Rajan lose to Salamenace now. I check the pairings after that match finishes up and I see I’m paired against
          Round 5: Tatsu Suzuki (@MDK_yuiko0313)
      I rush around trying to figure out who the Detroit Tatsu is. I’ve never heard of him before, but I assume that that’s probably because I’m ignorant, not because he doesn’t have any results. I found absolutely nothing; no one had heard of Tatsu. So I decide to just go for it.
        I sit down ( at the top tables :DDD ) in front of a Japanese guy wearing a face mask. I try to get as much information as I can about him, asking for his Twitter name and showing him my phone to try to communicate. He isn’t fooled though, and says he’ll tell me after the set.
        Kangaskhan Salamence Xerneas Groudon Smeargle Talonflame
        Standard Big 6. I know what I want to do against this.
        Game 1: You already know what I was generally thinking in Team Preview.
        Turn 1: vs
      I’m very confused about his lead; I’ve never seen anyone lead it against me. I assume he’s lead it because he doesn’t know I have Hidden Power Water. So I decide to just go for it. I also decide that Tatsu can't really punish that play if he keeps Groudon in, as next turn I can HP Water the Groudon and Ice Beam the Salamence. I also think that a Tailwind is unlikely as I have the Trick Room option. In retrospect, perhaps switching Gengar out to Kyogre and Trick Rooming would have been a safer play. However, I'm certain Tatsu doesn't know about my team. Tatsu switches out Salamence for Smeargle and Protects Groudon.
        Turn 2: vs (Rain)
      I just autopilot through this turn. I need Kyogre to stay in to guarantee the KO on Groudon with HP Water, and I Origin Pulse to try to knock out the Smeargle. Smeargle goes for Fake Out on Kyogre and Groudon gets knocked out.
        Turn 3: vs
      I think I go for Sludge Bomb on Xerneas, predicting him to try to get a Geomancy for free, and Origin Pulse. I think he’s going to try to get a free Geomancy and Protect with Smeargle, because of how bad of a position he’s in. I also know that I can set up Trick Room with my Bronzong and Groudon in the back if the game starts to go south. Tatsu Protects with his Xerneas, and I get a bit scared about the future of the game. However, his Smeargle just gets Knocked out by an Origin Pulse, revealing that it is both slow and not sash.
        Turn 4: vs
      I think I go for Sludge Bomb on Xerneas + Origin Pulse. This is because I’m not sure that Sludge Bomb on +0 Xerneas + Ice Beam on +2 Xerneas will knock it out, so I decide to risk Origin Pulse to secure the Knock out. This works, and  Xerneas gets deleted.
          Game 2: I see no reason to change it up, so I go for Gengar Bronzong with Groudon Kyogre in the back

      Turn 1: vs
      I get worried at the start of this turn; I think he might know the secret of just pressing Crafty Shield. However, I convinced myself that A) he probably didn’t know and he was probably not PuP Kangaskhan, as Japanese Kangaskhan are all Low Kick. I go for my standard play of Wisping the Kangaskhan turn 1 and Safeguarding. He goes for Fake Out on the Bronzong, Will-o-Wisp hits Kangaskhan and Dark Void goes off, which misses my Zongers <3
        Turn 2: vs
      This turn, I make the safe play of going for Will-o-Wisp with Gengar to prevent myself from taking any Sucker Punch damage, as it was a guaranteed turn of sleep. I also went for Safeguard this turn as well. Tatsu gets a Power-Up Punch with his Kangaskhan and burns my Lum Berry with his Dark Void.
        Turn 3: vs
      I’m starting to get a bit worried about that Kangaskhan powering up, even if it seems like Smeargle won’t be doing much. I go for Sludge Bomb on the Smeargle (I think) with my Gengar, and I Gyro Ball the Kangaskhan, thinking “What can go wrong?”, and trying to get as much damage on Kangaskhan as possible.
      Tatsu Sucker Punches my Gengar, getting a high damage roll, or his Kangaskhan was Adamant, and TRANSFORMS with his Smeargle, copying his + 2 Kangaskhan.
        I have Groudon and Kyogre in the back. If I send in Kyogre, he just sends in his own Groudon, I can’t do anything, and I lose. In retrospect, it wouldn’t work exactly like that, and I think I could have come out of the game on top. I would have had to predict whether he was going to attack the Kyogre, and if I got it right I might win. However, I wanted Kyogre in the back so when I took out his front two Pokémon I could set the rain back up. I send in Groudon.
        Turn 4: vs
      I just know that he’s going to try to take out my Bronzong this turn. My Groudon Protect is obvious. I just know that it’s going to happen. I slowly click Eruption + Trick Room and pray as the turn starts. The first Frustration goes off into Bronzong from the burned Kangaskhan. I pop off a bit but then pray a tiny bit longer. The Smeargle/Kangaskhan goes for the Frustration...  ALSO INTO BRONZONG. Bronzong survives with 1 HP and Tatsu’s eyes widen. Eruption knocks out both of his Pokémon. Trick Room goes up.
        Turn 5: vs
      I make the safe play of Skill Swapping my own Groudon and going for Precipice Blades. There’s no reason to switch in Kyogre, and Gyro Balling is a bit too risky, especially when I feel like the game is in my favor. Tatsu Dazzling Gleams and does something to knock out the Bronzong as both of my Precipice Blades connect.
        Turn 6: vs (Rain)
      I just go for Origin Pulse and Precipice Blades to try to get both knockouts. Origin Pulse misses both of Tatsu’s Pokémon, (and goes before the Groudon, so even if Bronzong had been knocked out I think I still would have won) but Precipice Blades cleans them both up, with an additional crit on Xerneas I think.
        WW(4-1)
        Tatsu and I shake hands and he finally tells me who he is on Twitter (@mdk_yuiko0313). You can go read his report here: http://mdk-yuiko.hatenablog.com/entry/2016/08/26/214433
      I go celebrate for a bit, because I know I’m only one set away from securing my spot in Top Cut at Worlds. I forget what I did between rounds (the whole experience starts to become a bit of a blur at this point). When I check the pairings, I see that I’m facing another Holy Spirit:
        Round 6: David Mizrahi (Awesome Platypus, @PlatypusVGC)

      Kangaskhan/Exeggutor/Groudon/Xerneas/Talonflame/Smeargle
      I go get the insider info from my friend Nails (Nick Navarre, @NailsOU). I learn that his Exeggutor has Swap, Psychic, and Sleep Powder and holds a Coba Berry. His Groudon is special. I think that’s all I learned. I go into this just intending to do my normal stuff, not particularly scared of Eggy. You can read about his team here: http://nuggetbridge.com/blogs/entry/2017-the-good-the-bad-and-the-eggy-34th-at-worlds-report/
          I’m scared of the Smeargle in Team Preview, so I think (god knows why) that bringing Bronzong is a good choice. I go with my standard mode vs Big stuff.
        Turn 1: vs
      This is an interesting position. I think that my safest general play is to trap the Exeggutor in and set up the Rain, saving my Bronzong. I don’t want my Gengar to get destroyed in the meantime, so I Protect gengar and switch Kyogre into the Bronzong slot. It turns out Swap = Skill Swap, not Power Swap, so I get blown back as the Rain turns back to Sun and my Kyogre eats an Eruption.
        Turn 2: vs (Sun)
      Well last turn went… poorly. However, the Exeggutor is now slow, so I can try to knock it out with Sludge Bomb, and send Groudon back in, in order to bring Kyogre back a turn or two later. But, in a trend you’ll see later, Skill Swapping away an ability does in fact give it to the partner. Groudon went for Eruption BEFORE my Gengar. I was blown away and stared at David, who indicated that Groudon had Chlorophyll. Exeggutor put my Groudon to sleep with Sleep Powder.
        Turn 3: vs (Rain)
      I think I go for Origin Pulse and Precipice Blades here? It doesn’t really matter because my Groudon was asleep and my Kyogre gets put asleep. David switches his Groudon out for Xerneas. I think, by the way, that that was the only bad play that David made this game.
        Turn 4: vs (Rain)
      I know that my only real chance of winning here is to get the thunder off on the Xerneas. I also go for Precipice Blades to do as much damage as possible. David goes for Geomancy and Skill Swaps my Groudon, resetting the sun, so even if my Kyogre does wake up, my Thunder will only have 50% accuracy. My Groudon wakes up and hits the Precipice Blades on both targets. Kyogre also wakes up, hits the Sunder and gets the paralysis on the Xerneas.
        I do not remember what happened the rest of this game. I got Trick Room up somehow. All I know is that the Lord himself wanted me to win that game, and I did. I think I also got a full paralysis or two in there.
        Game 1 went disastrously, so I know I’m going to have to change things up for game 2. Based on the last game, I think he’s not going to bring Smeargle, so Bronzong really has no place in this matchup as opposed to Talonflame. I decide to lead Gengar Talonflame, because if I can taunt the Eggy and keep it locked in, the game would not be that hard.
        Game 2
      Turn 1: vs
      I decide to do something with my Gengar and burn his Kangaskhan with my Talonflame. It’s been a long time so I forget exactly what my thought process was. His Kangaskhan revealed that it was Scrappy by Faking Out my Gengar and his Talonflame Taunted mine.
        This game went pretty poorly. I remember trying to organize my positioning as if he had Xerneas in the back, but instead of Xerneas he had Exeggutor.
          Game 3: I decide to go for the same thing again, considering that he might switch up his leads. Further, I don’t believe my lead matchup from last game was that terrible. I also know I have no better matchup against anything he could bring than Gengar Talonflame.
        Turn 1: vs
      I think I Mega Evolved and Protected my Gengar and went for Taunt with Talonflame. I did not want my Gengar to take damage, and I hoped that David did not know I was Taunt, and if he did, I was hoping he would switch out, which would lose him the game. Groudon switches out into Talonflame and Exeggutor Psychics into my Gengar.

      I think.
        Turn 2: vs ??
      I probably went for Sludge Bomb onto the Exeggutor and Brave Bird into the Talonflame, which Red Carded me into Groudon??
      ????
      I think his Exeggutor gets knocked out.
        I’m not gonna lie. I don’t remember this game at all. All I remember is I Taunted the Exeggutor and then I murdered every single one of his Pokémon. I got Red Carded out by his Talonflame into my Groudon, I think, which was nice. If I had gotten Red Carded out into Kyogre, I could have been put in a bad position, but I could have come out of it. My play this game made up for games 1 and 2 in my mind. According to David I even HP Watered his Groudon.
        WLW (5-1)
        I stand up and shake David’s hand, and apologize for the hax. I go over to my friends outside of the playing area though and we pop OFF. I CUT. MY FIRST WORLDS. I’m jumping around and hugging the squad. Then I calm myself down. My friends are all reminding me that if I win the next round I’m locked for top 16. I also make sure to celebrate with everyone who cut (iirc, JiveTime was the only one I talked to :/ ).
        Pairings come out. I’m playing Wolfe Glick. The one (of three) person in the tournament that I didn’t want to play. As I said above, my gameplan going into day 2 against Wolfeteam was “avoid playing it”. So I did what I always did when I freaked out at Worlds: I consulted Gavin. Gavin told me a couple of things. First, Wolfe was always going to lead Raichu Kyogre, and he was always going to go for Fake Out + Water Spout on turn 1. Second, he was always going to lead Raichu Kyogre with Rayquaza Hitmontop in the back. Finally, Gavin told me that Wolfe always makes the correct play. That makes him good if you can’t always think of the correct play or are unwilling to hard read him. However, he’s not unbeatable.
      I worked out a gameplan with Gavin. First I was going to lead Gengar Kyogre with Groudon Bronzong in the back. Turn 1 I was going to switch out Kyogre into Groudon and Sludge Bomb the Kyogre. Turn 2, he wasn’t going to just VOLT SWITCH HIS OWN Kyogre, so I could Protect Gengar and Precipice Blades. Game 2 I can figure it out from there. It was important, when understanding the plan, that the whole point was to get rid of one restricted. Once Wolfe loses either Rayquaza or Kyogre, it becomes a playable game. Unless I can get that type of a favorable trade, I lose.
      I go to face the best player and the worst matchup in the world.
        Round 7: Wolfe Glick (Wolfey, @WolfeyVGC)

      Rayquaza/Kyogre/Raichu/Hitmontop/Bronzong/Gengar
      You can watch about his team here:
      I had decided going into this match that I was going to beat him at his own game. I was going to timer Wolfe, take the full time every turn. I was going to prove that I was better than him.
        Game 1:
      I go into Team Preview with the plan. However, I make sure to show that I don’t have a plan by  taking a lot of time in Team Preview. I do decide to go with the plan that Gavin and I had worked upon.
        Turn 1: vs
      I know Wolfe is going to go for Fake Out with Raichu and Water Spout. I make the play I had agreed upon with Gavin: Sludge Bombing the Kyogre and switching my own Kyogre into Groudon. As I enter the play my hands shake, as if Wolfe switches out Raichu, the game is over. However, Wolfe goes for exactly what I was told he would. My Sludge Bomb connects on Kyogre, doing around 30%, without a critical hit or a poison.
        Turn 2: vs (Sun)
      I think long and hard about this play. I end up going for what I had decided earlier: that there was no way Wolfe was just going to Volt Switch against his own Kyogre. I also considered the possibility of my Groudon being faster than his Kyogre, which would win me the game on the spot if I hit my Precipice Blades. I Protect the Gengar and go for Precipice Blades. The turn starts, and Wolfe Volt Switches his own Kyogre into Rayquaza and Origin Pulses. Origin Pulse connects on my Groudon and it disappears.
        I think this game goes to time somehow, but I’m effectively locked out of it, as I have to take down both of his restricteds, and I don’t really have the tools to do so. Wolfe reveals that his Rayquaza Swords Dance, which I knew. I made plays to attempt to get back in, but the game is effectively over.
        I think about what happened in that game, what went wrong. All that happened poorly was one turn. I played solidly for the rest of it, and almost brought myself back in. I needed to play more safely on that turn, or make a different read. (or make the same read). Either way, I understood that my plan was fundamentally sound. The only problem was I made one incorrect play and didn’t have luck bail me out.
        Game 2 starts, and Team Preview starts and I realize that my DS is red. I ask Wolfe if we can just run over to a charging station, and he says that we can’t since the game is started. I call over a judge, who allows us to run really quickly (Jen is the best judge in existence, and anyone who tells you otherwise is a liar or has never met Jen).
        Turn 1: vs
      I had been told that Wolfe would make the same play again. Again my hands shake, and I switch Groudon into my Kyogre and Sludge Bomb the Kyogre. Again, my Groudon tanks the Fake Out and again, the Sludge Bomb does not poison nor crit. Again Wolfe goes for Water Spout and again the Water Spout fizzled out in the sun.
        Turn 2: vs (Sun)
      I recognize that Wolfe is willing and able to Volt Switch his own Kyogre, and if he went for it, Kyogre would not be knocked out by Sludge Bomb. I decide to go for what I recognize as the safe play, and switch my Groudon out into Kyogre and Sludge Bomb Wolfe’s Kyogre. I put it in range to get knocked out by anything else (ideally Origin Pulse) if he goes for the same play this time. Wolfe reads into this and Volt Switches my Gengar while he Protects his Kyogre. Wolfe recognizes that if he switches into Hitmontop his position is awful, as I can just bring Groudon back in and knock out Kyogre while burning the Hitmontop. He brings in Rayquaza instead.
        Turn 3: vs
      Game 1 Wolfe had played aggressively with his Rayquaza and defensively with his Kyogre. I recognized that my Gengar was in range of Origin Pulse knocking it out. I also recognized that if Wolfe Protected his Rayquaza and I Protected my Gengar, I could (probably) get a knock out on his Kyogre. Most of the above on this turn is kind of a lie. I didn’t actually think about these things. I just intuited most of this understanding into my conclusion: Wolfe was not Protecting his Rayquaza. I go for the Sludge Bomb and Ice Beam onto the Rayquaza. The turn starts. Sludge Bomb goes off onto Rayquaza. Rayquaza Swords Dances. Origin Pulse from Wolfe’s Kyogre knocks out my Gengar. Ice Beam from my Kyogre knocks out his Rayquaza.
        I do not remember the rest of this game. However I played most of it to time, and I remember playing more poorly than I should have because I believed I had won the game. The situation on the last turn of the game is as follows:
        Turn X (last turn of the game on timer): vs
      I have Groudon at 60% health in the back. My Kyogre is at 60 health and my Bronzong is at 11 health. Wolfe’s Kyogre is at 25% and his Raichu is at full health. Trick Room is up. I make possibly the dumbest play in my life. I Skill Swap away Raichu’s Lightning Rod, so I can get the Thunder off on Wolfe’s Kyogre. As the turn starts, Wolfe sees the Skill Swap and starts laughing. I realize what I had done and hold my head in my hands. Thunder gets absorbed by Bronzong’s Lightning Rod as Ice Beam knocks out my Bronzong and Raichu’s Volt Switch leaves my Kyogre alive at 10 HP. If I had gone for Origin Pulse, I would have won on time and gone to a game 3. (I think I had Protected last turn). However, I misplayed and choked on the biggest bag of human male genitals that I ever have.
        LL (5-2)
        I’m kinda irritated, but it’s whatever. I had already made top cut, and I just had to win the next round. I tell people that I choked, and they’re sad, but we all understand that losing to Wolfe (especially with the team matchup) was something that was likely to happen.
        Also, on a side note. On one turn I looked up at Wolfe while I was timering him, and he had finished his move and was just staring really hard at me. It kinda freaked me out, so I looked back at my DS. 20 seconds later I looked up again, and Wolfe had not moved one centimeter. This was the most disoriented I had ever been at Worlds.
        I try to find out info about my friends, hearing that many had cut, and many had missed out. I’m way too late on this report to go over exactly what happened and who cut and who I hugged and I kinda didn’t want to. I was just waiting for the pairings. When I saw who I was paired against I was pissed and terrified.
          Top 24: Wonseok Jang (KrelCROC, @Krelcroc)

      Rayquaza/Xerneas/Meowstic/Arcanine/Scrafty/Thundurus
      For those of you who don’t know, Wonseok is one of the most storied Koreans in VGC, just overshadowed by Sejun Park at Nationals. Wonseok hadn’t had the most beautiful Worlds performances yet, but I knew he was fantastic. When we were teammates on the Holy Spirits, Wonseok was saying how he hadn’t played that much and how he didn’t like VGC 16. Then he just went and got 2nd at Korean Nats like it was nothing. Wonseok had also kicked my arceus time after time in VGC 13. Not only that, but he had beaten some of the players I really respected in VGC 13 and 16, making some insane reads in the process, e.g.
      Game 1 vs Aaron Traylor (Unreality, @NBUnreality): http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen5gbudoubles-362110397  
      Game 2:http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen5gbudoubles-362112043
      Game 3:http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/gen5gbudoubles-362114015
        So I’m very scared. I try desperately to get as much information as I can about his team before the set starts. I learn that his Meowstic has Yawn, Fake Out and Quick Guard, his Xerneas is bulky, his Rayquaza is Life Orb, and his Arcanine is Safeguard. You can check his full report here: http://nuggetbridge.com/blogs/entry/2052-krelcroc-worlds-day2-report/
      I’m not scared because my matchup is bad; I’m glad to be facing another XRay player. I’m just scared because I believe Wonseok is very good, and this is one of the toughest players I could be facing. I freak out for a while, and do some mentality things that are unique to me, like freaking out and then being perfectly fine (Rajan made fun of me for this, so it’s important to put it in).
        We sit down with everyone else playing top 24 (I think I’m late because I went to the bathroom, which I did before every round.) Wonseok is gracious. The people surrounding us are terrifying. To my right, Markus (13Yoshi37, @13Yoshi37) is playing Till (DarkPsiana, @Dark_Psiana). To my left Conan (c0nan, @conanyk) is playing Edu (EmbC, @MeninoJardim). We start our match.
        Game 1: My matchup against XRay is excellent. I decide that Wonseok’s changes--swapping out a Smeargle for a Meowstic and adding Arcanine--do not make the team significantly stronger against my main mode of Gengar Bronzong, with Primals in the back.
        Turn 1: vs
      Well I was pretty wrong about that. This is one of the worst positions I could be in. I know that Rayquaza is Life Orb, so since I had played a bunch of Draco Meteor Rayquaza earlier today, even on XRay, I assume that it’s Draco Meteor. Considering this, I decide that my best play is to go for Sludge Bomb on the Rayquaza, as I believe that a Draco will knock out my Gengar.
      Wonseok just goes for a Dragon Ascent. My Gengar gets blown back. I do not remember the rest of this game. All I know is that I make him reveal Overheat on his Rayquaza and I get completely destroyed.
        Game 2: That went about as terrible as it could have. I can see my Worlds ambitions slipping out of my grasp. I can’t see how to break Thundurus + Overheat Rayquaza. It puts too much pressure on my team. Then I decide. For some reason, I think that the right play is MANECTRIC KYOGRE lead with Bronzong Groudon in the back. I have 0 memory of this game. All I know is that it works. I swear to god I could not tell you why.
        Game 3: This is where the real mindgame comes in. After the work of god that was game 2 and Mega Manectric, does Wonseok expect me to lead the same thing again? If he expects me to lead the same thing, he’ll lead Xerneas and it’ll basically be all over. However, if he does that and I lead Gengar Bronzong, I win the game. If Wonseok expects me to cover the Xerneas, he can just lead what he led games 1 and 2 and win the game. I freak out during Team Preview, and just go Manectric Kyogre, changing it away from Gengar Bronzong.
        Turn 1: vs
      Well. That’s it. The run is over. The game is over. I had fun at Worlds. I messed up in a massive way. Wonseok can’t be mindgamed. The god himself.
      I recognize that the game is not over though, and I still have to win it. I convince myself that he’s going to Fake Out the Manectric to prevent me from going for a Thunder before Xerneas uses Geomancy. So I switch out the Manectric into Bronzong and go for Origin Pulse. Manectric switches out and the Fake Out GOES INTO THE BRONZONG. I pop off a bit. Xerneas gets the Geomancy off, and Origin Pulse hits both targets, doing around 34% to Xerneas and 80% to Meowstic.
        Turn 2:   vs
      My play here is clear: I set up Trick Room and Origin Pulse. There’s nothing he can do to stop it. I think Wonseok Protects Xerneas and switches in Scrafty, which takes slightly more than 50%. Trick Room goes up.
        Turn 3: vs
      I know that Wonseok is forced to Fake Out Bronzong, but I force him to be forced to, in order to get another Origin Pulse off. Wonseok Fakes Out Bronzong and Dazzling Gleams, leaving both of my Pokémon at slightly above 50%, unless I Protected my Kyogre here, which I might have. I remember that Scrafty survives this turn, so I think I Protected Kyogre here.
        Turn 4: vs
      I think I just go for the obvious play, which is to Origin Pulse and Gyro Ball the Xerneas. I smell blood in the water, and I want that Xerneas to faint (it is in range to get Knocked Out from getting hit by both of those attacks). I realize too late that Wonseok is going to switch out his Scrafty into Meowstic to get the double Intimidate off by switching his Scrafty back in later. Xerneas Protects and Meowstic switches in. Meowstic eats the Origin Pulse and gets knocked out, and Xerneas survives just fine.
        Scrafty gets sent back in.
        Turn 5: vs
      I know that my Bronzong can’t knock Xerneas out from this range and I’m scared of my Kyogre taking too much damage, so I (painfully) switch out my Bronzong into Manectric to save my Zong. I consider not doing that and reading Wonseok to Fake Out my Kyogre with Scrafty. I also think about whether I need Bronzong since I have Groudon in the back. I decide that having Bronzong for the next few turns should be enough. I also Protect Kyogre. Fake Out goes somewhere and Dazzling Gleam destroys Manectric (cry).
        Turn 6: vs
      I go for the simple play: Origin Pulse and Gyro Ball the Xerneas. Xerneas Protects and Scrafty gets obliterated. I think Scrafty goes for Knock Off, but Bronzong isn’t left in Extreme Speed range.
        Turn 7: vs
      I just double attack, Origin Pulse and Gyro Ball. No reason to do any other play. Reads are difficult and hoping that double Protects don’t happen is easy. Further, if I read into the double Protect and Wonseok doesn’t do it, he wins. Xerneas doesn’t get the double Protect and it gets knocked out. Rayquaza Dragon Ascents my Kyogre and knocks it out. Trick Room ends.
        Turn 8: vs (Sun)
      My play here is pretty simple: double the Rayquaza. I might have gone for Trick Room; I’m not really sure. Rayquaza goes for Overheat on the Bronzong and Fire punch puts Rayquaza in KO range next turn.
        Turn 9: vs (Sun)
      Groudon doesn’t get crit and I walk away with the win.
          I give the thumbs up to my crew and they all rush me. The judge tells me not to go anywhere as we are going to be starting top 16 in a few minutes (I’m the last set to finish because I was playing each turn to time because XRay is a joke, as I mentioned before). I just kinda collapse with the weight of being top 16. Gavin shows me my bracket and I learn that I’m playing Giovanni Costa. I’m not particularly worried until I see the team. Nails shows me he’s running Eruption Overheat Groudon, Water Spout Kyogre, Kangaskhan, Disable, Icy Wind, Sludge Bomb Mega Gengar, Whimsicott, and a Cresselia. Looking at this team, I expect Kangaskhan to be max Speed and Cresselia to be Icy Wind Trick Room.
      The saving grace here is that Mega Gengar can’t really do anything to my Bronzong, so I feel confident going with my usual plan. Also, Water Spout means Gio’s Kyogre has Scald as opposed to Thunder, so my Kyogre should just walk through Gio’s team if I play right. Finally, I have time on my side.
        Top 16: Giovanni Costa (The Gio, @The_One_Gio)

      Kangaskhan/Gengar/Whimsicott/Cresselia/Groudon/Kyogre
        Gio is a player I had only first heard of during the Metro Melee tournament that Jen hosted. He was playing for Gavin’s team. I didn’t expect him to be anything particularly threatening, especially since I just beat Wonseok and I’m pretty good at the primals matchup. I just go with the same plan I went with for all the primals: Manectric Bronzong with Groudon Kyogre in the back.
        Primals happened. Game 1 I Skill Swapped away a Shadow Tag to waste a couple more turns, and I think I won 3-3. Game 2 Gio baited out the HP Water and then trapped my Kyogre in. I felt embarrassed, and in a trend that started round 1 day 2, I get 4-0’d game 2. Game 3 Gio decided for some reason to bring Kangaskhan. It came down to
        Turn x: vs (Rain)
      Manectric was at 97 HP, Kangaskhan was at -2 Attack and at 1 hit point, Kyogre was at full health, and I forget how much health his Groudon in the back had. I had probably Protected last turn with my Groudon or my Manectric. I don’t remember my entire thought process for the turn, but I spent 30 seconds freaking out and finally inputted my move at the end. I decided that he might go for a Water-type move, and my best play was to Volt Switch his Kangaskhan and hope he didn’t switch into Groudon. Further, because I knew he was probably going to go for Water Spout, I had to switch my Groudon into Kyogre so I could Volt Switch back into Groudon. The turn starts, no Sucker Punch goes off, his Kangaskhan gets knocked out, and Gio hangs his head in his hands. I tell him that it’s not over, and he tells me that it is. I ask if he Water Spouted and he nods his head. I pop off silently, and take my hands off the DS. My friends are all in a crowd by the side of the play area. I indicate that I have 3 Pokémon and Gio has 2. They’re all really confused. I just turn back to the game and refuse to touch it. The game sends Groudon in, and then I refuse to touch the game even as the timer is 0, because of Pokealex (rip game 2, UK Nats finals).
        I jump up, and all my friends do too. I rush over to show them the set, but since Gio disconnected, they got to see the game where I got 4-0ed. The judges told the organizers to put me at the end of the ordering for Top 8 streaming, and I learned I was playing Baz Anderson, a pretty accomplished player. I learned that Baz was running some jank: XRay. Importantly, I learned that he was running the variant with Scarf Smeargle. Now, I wasn’t scared until I learned what his moveset was. He was running Fake Out, Dark Void, Transform, and, most importantly, SWITCHEROO. Now I’m pretty sure the only time I lost to XRay on the ladder (before I stopped laddering) was to a guy who led Scarf Switcheroo Smeargle + Xerneas who Switcheroo’d my Bronzong and Geomancy’d as I Protected and Safeguarded. I got 4-0’d. I knew I had to go for a different option, or I would have had to make too many hard reads.
        Talking with Gavin, I decided to go for Gengar Talonflame game 1 to counter Smeargle. In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly what I would have done against a Smeargle Xerneas llead. Probably Sludge Bomb and Taunt the Xerneas, and then tank the Dark Void with both, and use the fact that Baz has to hit three voids and get reasonable sleep lengths in order to come close to winning the game. I also decide to bring Kyogre for obvious reasons and Groudon because Thundurus and Scrafty are irritating and get super bodied by Groudon.
      Anyway, that was my plan going into game 1. I knew all of Baz’s sets generally, except Volc, which I knew was Red Card and I knew he wasn’t going to bring. I didn’t know Scrafty’s fourth move, I don’t think, but it never really came up in the set. I don’t think I ever considered Quick Guard in my plays, or Super Fang. I watched some of the games that were going on, gradually getting more and more stressed about the set. Then we sat down.  
        Top 8: Barry Anderson (Baz Anderzon, @BazandersonVGC)

      Rayquaza/Xerneas/Smeargle/Scrafty/Thundurus/Volcarona
      You can find Baz’s team report here:
      I’m going to leave the video of the set here so you can all see, but I’m still gonna commentate/explain.
       
       
       
      Turn 1: vs
      Baz’s lead surprised me, but it indicated a couple of things. First, Baz had Xerneas Rayquaza in the back (this was almost guaranteed). Second, I had the option to start timering him from turn 1. Baz had decided to lead no damage, so I was going to take as much time as possible. I thought Baz had two options: Fake Out Talonflame and Dark Void, or switch out Scrafty and Dark Void. I decided to Protect Gengar to cover Scrafty switching out or deciding to not Fake Out my Talonflame, as maybe -1 Brave Bird wouldn’t have KOed Smeargle from Life Orb Talonflame (apparently it does. Who knew?). I also thought that if Baz left them both in, the game was pretty much mine, as I can timer and tank the voids. I Taunt the Smeargle just in case.
        Turn 2: vs
      The miss was fortunate, as I’m free this turn to go for a Sludge Bomb and tank the Dark Void with Gengar (I don’t want to double Protect, since if I do not get the double Protect, Gengar will not have burned a sleep turn) and set up a Tailwind with Talonflame. If the Dark Void hadn’t missed turn 1, I would have had to go for Taunt instead. I set up Tailwind because it was the best way to get positional advantage with my board. It also allows me to get the Taunt off on the Smeargle on turn 3.
        Turn 3: vs
      Well uh, Baz made an interesting move last turn. I’m ambivalent about the Dark Void missing, because it didn’t reveal Chesto Berry. However, results about this turn will make me sad about it missing. I decide to double the Rayquaza, because Baz is unlikely to Protect and just burn one of my sleep turns. I Sludge Bomb with Gengar because I believe in my Talonflame <3 (I Will-o-Wisp the Rayquaza with Talonflame because that’s pretty obviously the best thing to do with Talonflame).
        Turn 4: vs
      I’m kinda angry about the second void missing, due to all of that extra Knock Off damage. I’m happy about waking up with Gengar though. I’m not really sure what I was thinking this turn. I think I thought that Baz was going to go for the Talonflame, and I wanted my Kyogre to tank the Knock Off? But at that point, Protecting my Gengar was the safest play. I might have thought that he was going to double the Gengar, in which case my play makes sense. However, my play worked out and looked super baller as I put myself in a position to obliterate the Scrafty. I switch in Kyogre and again go for the burn on the Rayquaza (which I can get because of Tailwind).
        Turn 5: vs (Rain)
      That… was an interesting set of choices from Barry, but I will more than take it. I note that my Kyogre lost 104 HP, so it was in danger of getting KOed by the same targets this turn. I thus decide a couple of things. First, my Talonflame is bulk af, so it can probably take an Extreme Speed. Second, that Baz is probably going to Protect his Rayquaza, as my Kyogre outspeeds it in Tailwind and Ice Beam will OHKO it. Third, that Brave Bird + Origin Pulse will probably take out Scrafty. I just let my Talonflame rip.

      I send in Gengar because that is obviously the safest option. Groudon would have been very silly. Fast Sludge Bomb off of base 170 Sp. Atk is broken. Changing the weather would have been very bad.
        Turn 6: vs (Rain)
      This turn I made what looks like a silly play. However, it made perfect sense. I have to Sludge Bomb the Xerneas to cover the Geomancy. However, I also want to make 100% sure that I win. I see the only way I lose as Baz Protecting with Xerneas and getting a Dragon Ascent off, and then maybe double Protecting and getting a Dragon Ascent crit on my Gengar or something. Even then, I think I still win. I also wasn’t sure whether Sludge Bomb on +0 and an Ice Beam on +2 Xerneas would KO.

      Turn 7: vs (Rain)
      Rayquaza will faint to burn after this turn. Safe play is to take time and play safe: double Protect.
        Turn 8:  vs
      Safe play is to attack. I think about not attacking with Gengar to see if Ice Beam would knock out from here, but I decide that I get more net information by not risking either of my Pokémon getting knocked out. 1 goes my way.
        I sigh in relief, as I’m one game away from top 4 of Worlds. I get a bit irritated when all I hear are cheers for Baz, but it’s whatever. I know I can do it.
        Going into game 2, I consider changing up my leads, but I wasn’t sure what Baz would do. I was also still scared of Smeargle. If I didn’t lead Talonflame, I wasn’t sure that I could really beat Smeargle as a lead. I’ll go through this game because you all deserve it, but I apologize for how awful I played.
      I didn’t think about Thundurus as a lead, and I had already forgotten my set with Wonseok. I go for the same Team Preview stuff as I did game 1.
          Game 2:
        Turn 1: vs
      I am a bit surprised by this lead, as I was not expecting it at all (I’m not great at Team Preview). I think that because Talonflame messed Baz up last game, he was going to target it down. My only counterplay to that is to switch Talonflame to Groudon, and I decide to try to burn Rayquaza with Gengar, which would secure me the game if it went off. Baz predicted this, which becomes a theme for this game. After this turn is over, I’m pretty sure that the game is over as well.
        Turn 2: vs.
      I know that Baz is probably going to go for a Swords Dance with Rayquaza, just to set up for the rest of the game. I also think that he is going to want to Taunt my Gengar at the same time, in order to prevent me from Wisping the Rayquaza. Overall, I think my play is pretty safe, as worst case scenario he doubles the Gengar, which allows me to put on a ton of damage onto both of his Pokémon. Also there’s no way he goes for that.
        Turn 3: vs.
      That paralysis kinda sucked, as if I hadn’t missed I would have been able to make a bunch of plays here, e.g., switch Groudon out for Talonflame (which wouldn’t get KOed by a +2 Extreme Speed) and put pressure on the Rayquaza that way.
      I know I have to get damage off onto the Rayquaza, so I double target it, with Fire Punch as I believe that Baz, if he attacks, would be Dragon Ascenting the Groudon. Sludge Bomb from Gengar is obvious.
        Turn 4: vs
      Yeah, he probably was going to Protect last turn. I have already resigned myself to this loss as I go for the same play. Dragon Ascent actually OHKOes Groudon (I did not know my calcs on this, so I just assumed it would always happen).
        Turn 5: vs
      I go for Brave Bird onto the Rayquaza, knowing that I need Talonflame to knock it out to have any chance in this game. I also go for Origin Pulse, assuming that Talonflame will knock out the Rayquaza. It doesn’t. I lose. There were a bunch of cheers for Barry.
        That was about as depressing as it gets. If you count game 1 vs Wonseok, this is 3 consecutive 4-0s in game 2. I also am one game away from being eliminated from the World Championships. By my best matchup. I recognize a couple of things about the matchup that I’m playing. First, Baz is unlikely to change his winning formula from last game. As a result, Talonflame is unlikely to do anything. Also, apparently according to my mind, my best way to beat Thundurus Rayquaza was Gengar Groudon. I didn’t think about Manectric Kyogre because I had forgotten, and because Scarf Smeargle is scary.  Mega Gengar helps beat Scarf Smeargle because it traps it in and lets me tank the voids. I also decide to bring Bronzong because it helps more against Rayquaza.
        I’m terrified of a Scarf Smeargle lead, but I pray, and it doesn’t happen.
        Game 3. All down to this.
        Turn 1: vs
      I’m excited, because Baz lead what I expected him to lead. Looking at this position, I don’t expect Rayquaza to go for a Dragon Ascent: it needs a Swords Dance to really do any damage. I predict Baz is going to go for the Thunder Wave on the Gengar, because making it slower than Rayquaza has to be a priority for him. Thus, my move is pretty simple. I switch Gengar out for Bronzong and Eruption.

      My Eruption crit the Thundurus, in the only instance of hax so far in this set except Baz’s paralyses on my Gengar. The crowd boos me quite loudly, which really rattles me. I had literally never heard booing before in a Pokémon event, and if you read my lips you can see I say that to Baz. I spend 10 seconds of my move choice time talking about that.
        Turn 2: vs
      I don’t think about Scrafty here. All I think is, if Rayquaza goes for Dragon Ascent on the Groudon, Bronzong will be able to take it out. If Rayquaza goes for the Dragon Ascent onto the Bronzong, Bronzong won’t get knocked out (even to a follow-up Thunderbolt), and Groudon can take Rayquaza out with Eruption. The crit was nice, because Thundurus is in Eruption range now (I don’t think the crit mattered for the game outcome though). Baz predicted me to Protect with Groudon or at least not Eruption, but as the turn goes through, I’m very happy with the outcome.
        Turn 3: vs
      I make the same play for the same reasoning. I’m just much happier about it. As the Dragon Ascent goes down, I note that it was on the Bronzong, and I pray that the Thunderbolt doesn’t crit. It doesn’t and I pop off.
        Turn 4: vs
      This is it. I’ve made Top 4. The game is over. I just have to not attack my own Pokémon. I very carefully select Gyro Ball and Fire Punch on Xerneas. If Baz goes for Geomancy, Xerneas gets knocked out. If Baz doesn’t go for Geomancy, but goes for Dazzling Gleam, my Gengar comes in for free and gets a fast Sludge Bomb, which does a lot of damage as we saw in game 1.
        Then it happens.
      Baz goes for Dazzling Gleam and knocks out my Bronzong. I’m ok with that, and Fire Punch goes onto the Xerneas. It crits. I laugh and stick my tongue out, knowing that that crit was meaningless.
      Then the whole crowd boos me.
      What I did in response was not right, but after reading this I hope you all understand what I was feeling at that moment.
      This is the biggest event of my life. This is my first hard fought win on stream. This is top 8 of Worlds. This was at that point the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life. You can see from my popoff how much it meant to me.
      And then I got booed. Now maybe the crowd was booing the crit. But that’s kinda silly and I didn’t understand it in that way. The crit didn’t matter. It very obviously didn’t matter. I had beaten Baz fair and square, in a good set. And to me, it felt like the crowd was booing me and my win individually. That is one of the most hurtful things in the world, when you have earned a result and people say very, very, very, loudly that they don’t like you and don’t feel like you deserve it. And in the heat of the moment I wanted to tell them to yams off.
      The way in which I did it was not smart. It was not good. But I think if you were in that position, you would understand.
        Turn 5: vs
      I take the time and click Sludge Bomb. And I’m in top 4.
        Well, almost. I spend 30 minutes after this pretty confused and then being told I’m about to get disqualified. Shoutouts to the best judge ever, Nic Freda, for believing in me, believing that I was a good person and didn’t deserve to be disqualified. It was a time when I was freaked out, but it didn’t even feel real to me. I didn’t believe I was going to get disqualified at all. To be honest, I had forgotten about flipping the crowd off and had no clue why I had to wait in the player area. When the TOs spoke to me though, it felt very very real.
        After I failed to get disqualified, I sat down by the side before top 4. I got some info on Edu’s team from Nails again (the GOAT). Edu was running Safeguard Kangaskhan, the type of Hitmontop I expected, and Substitute Groudon, like I saw on stream. I didn’t get the full Thundurus moveset, but I could predict it pretty well.
        Overall, Edu’s team is just what it looks like. I decide that game 1, I’m just going to go with my standard mode, not taking into consideration what I saw of him on stream. I mostly tried to calm down and eat the slice of pizza Edu offered me.
        On a side note, Edu is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. I swear to god, no one I have ever met has said a single bad thing about this man.
        So it wasn’t that big of a surprise when everyone in the crowd was cheering for him. We sit down. I actually take my flag off because it’s a bit uncomfortable.
        Then, we play.

      Semifinals: Eduardo Cunha (EmbC, @MeninoJardim)

      Kangaskhan/Groudon/Xerneas/Thundurus/Hitmontop/Bronzong
        I know that Talonflame probably doesn’t have a place here, so I am going to bring Bronzong. I decide in game 1 that like usual it is going to come in the front, hoping (for no good reason) that Edu doesn’t really know what he’s doing and will lead Kangaskhan or Hitmontop.
      Game 1:
        Turn 1: vs
      First, I want to note that in this match, I was cheering for Edu whenever the crowd did as well. It was a way for me to deal with the incident in top 8.
      When I saw this lead matchup, I was pissed. My Gengar and my Bronzong were doing pretty much nothing. However, I thought that Edu’s Groudon was unlikely to attack this turn, as I figured he would be scared of the Hidden Power Water. I also was terrified of the Thunder Wave on my Gengar. My play is a play I find it hard to make sitting down here, but it was 10 pm at night after a long day of Pokémon, so I Trick Roomed and switched my Gengar out to Groudon.
        Turn 2: vs
      My Groudon is in no danger unless Edu Double-Edges it, and Fake Out will do approximately zero damage. I’m not sure what I think about the Thundurus, but I think I assume Xerneas is in back. I try to reduce Kangaskhan’s damage by Skill Swapping, as I see that as the most productive thing Bronzong can do this turn. Not exactly sure what I did with Groudon? Probably Fire Punched the Kangaskhan.
        Turn 3: vs
      Ok, that didn’t do anything. However, Edu has revealed that he does not have Xerneas, so I don’t really need to care about anything besides Kangaskhan and Groudon. I think that the Protect on my Groudon is pretty obvious, but it won’t take too much damage from Feint + Double-Edge, so I predict Edu to cover the Protect by Close Combatting Bronzong. Also Bronzong isn’t really doing much in this position, and Gengar would be great. I just Protect the Groudon because it’s safe.
        Turn 4: vs
      Edu’s Kangaskhan is weak and it’s facing down a Groudon and a Gengar. In my mind, it is obvious that a switch is coming, and likely a switch to Groudon followed by a Wide Guard to cover the only thing I could do while staying in to punish that switch. I thus decide that the best play is to switch Kyogre in on my Groudon slot and go for a Hidden Power Water.
      This is an idiotic idea, and I’m ashamed I ever thought of it. Because Trick Room is up, my Groudon switched out first. Thus, if Edu had switched into Groudon, the sun would have been up, and Hidden Power Water would have done nothing.
      I am an idiot, and I was saved by Edu not making the right play, which I’m sure he had a reason for.
        Turn 5: vs
      In this position, Edu cannot switch out. I can abuse that by making a switch he is unlikely to call, and use that to get board position. I can switch Gengar into Groudon. I also predict Edu not to go for Feint and Thunderbolt on the Kyogre because that loses to just Protect on Gengar and Origin Pulse.
        I have now successfully done the craziest thing: I have stalled out my own Trick Room while getting off damage once.
        I do not remember what happens for the next couple of turns. All I remember is that I was able to get my Groudon a Levitate in Trick Room and win the game. The last turn of the game was
        Turn X: vs
      My Groudon was Levitating, in the Rain, and was slower than Edu’s Groudon. However, it was Trick Room. Therefore, my Kyogre and my Groudon were faster than Edu’s Groudon. I have heard some people tell me that Edu should have gone for Wide Guard and Precipice Blades. However, they forget a couple of things. First, they forget that timer is significantly on my side even if Edu goes for that, because my Kyogre survives a Precipice Blades. Also, I can go for Ice  Beam on Groudon twice. I make the simple play of going for Precipice Blades and Ice Beam, and Edu plays to his outs by Feinting the Kyogre and presumably going for Precipice Blades.
        I win and I’m up in semifinals. Unfortunately, the judge tells us to wait for a while, which (and I’m johning here) disrupts my mojo. My original thought going into this game was to lead Gengar Groudon, which I believe would beat Groudon Thundurus. However, I realize that my Kyogre is slower than his Groudon, so leading Gengar Kyogre would allow me to get the rain up and punish a Groudon lead. I decide to go for that in game two, with Groudon and Bronzong in the back.
        Game 2:
        Shoutouts to Abel Sanz (Flash, @flash0mc) for uploading these videos   Turn 1: vs
      I’m disappointed by this lead matchup. I was scared of the Thundurus either Thunder Waving Gengar or Thunderbolting the Kyogre, so I switch in Groudon on the Kyogre slot and Protect. I think I predicted Kangaskhan to Fake Out the Kyogre, so I wasn’t scared of the damage. I also think that Edu might switch out one of his Pokémon into Groudon, which is why I don’t just double switch Gengar and Kyogre into Groudon and Bronzong, which would lead to a very bad position for me. Unfortunately, Edu doesn’t switch into Groudon and calmly calls me out for being a scrub.
        Turn 2: vs
      That turn went about as poorly as it could have. This turn I’m scared of a Double-Edge on my Groudon, and I don’t want to Protect as that gets me no momentum. I switch my Groudon into Bronzong and Sludge Bomb, expecting Edu to not Sucker Punch, expecting a Will-o-Wisp again.
       
      Turn 3: vs
      I know that Groudon is going to take a Double-Edge, so I decide to Protect. I also want Bronzong in the back in order to take the Double-Edge next turn, to at least force some sort of mindgame on Edu. If I just Protect and Trick Room, Edu will just Taunt.
        Turn 4: vs
      I predict that Edu is going to switch in Groudon here, noting that my Groudon is pretty obviously switching out, and he’s going to Double-Edge the Kyogre. I thus decide to go for Precipice Blades and Ice Beam the Thundurus slot, because if I catch the Groudon on the switch, I might still have an out. Edu sees right through this though.
        Turn 5: vs
      I want to prevent myself from being 4-0ed in game 2 three (four if game 1 vs KrelCROC counts) times in a row, so I go for a Gyro Ball on the Kangaskhan and a Precipice Blades I think, to catch a possible Groudon switch-in.

      I think somewhere around this time, Edu lets slip that he brought Hitmontop this game. Then he says “oops”. This confuses me but I think nothing of the “oops”. Maybe he was playing a mindgame. This statement helps me make plays in game 3, because I know he’s not going to bring Xerneas.
        Going into game 3, I can tell that Gengar Kyogre was a big misplay, and that I should have gone with Gengar Groudon. Gengar Groudon would have done pretty well last game as well, so I decide to just make it happen.
        Game 3: whole game is here:

      Again, it has come down to this. The game starts.
        Turn 1: vs
      I have a few plays here. I can go for the Hidden Power Water. I can go for Sludge Bomb + Eruption. I can go for Protect Eruption. I can switch Gengar into Bronzong and Eruption. I think that Edu is scared of the Eruption and won’t Protect his Groudon, instead trying to get a Precipice Blades off and neuter my Eruption. I also just have a feeling (but one that kinda feels wrong, you know) that he’s not going to Protect Groudon. Also, if I take out Groudon, the game is over. Edu has Hitmontop and Kangaskhan in the back (I just know) so he has no real way to damage my Groudon or my Gengar once the Groudon goes down.
      I go for it.
      And you can hear the crowd’s cheers when I hit into the Protect.
        Turn 2: vs
      That went… about as poorly as it could have, assuming Groudon stays in. However, his Groudon is still in and my Kyogre is undamaged. Edu has also burned his Protect. I just make this play kinda without thinking it full through because I just knew it would work. But I had known this from the turn before. My Protect on Gengar is obvious, and it seems silly to just GO FOR DOUBLE WATER MOVE.
      My reaction in Flash’s video says it all.

      At this point the game is over.
      However, the game’s not over. I can still lose and I quickly remind myself of that.
      Edu sends in his Kangaskhan. If Edu had sent in Hitmontop I could have gotten Groudon going much earlier and taken out Thundurus, which would have given me an unlosable board position.
        Turn 3: vs
      Now I’m terrified of choking this game away. I know the game is won so I need to be as sure of it as possible. I don’t want to let Edu Taunt my Pokémon and I don’t want him to start getting the ability to switch. I note that the rain can’t go down and that Thunderbolt is not a 2HKO on my Kyogre. Therefore, unless Edu gets a Thunderbolt crit or a full para on my Gengar, I am not punished (in a gamelosing sense) for attacking with both of my Pokémon. If Edu doubles my Gengar like he did in the last game, my Kyogre just wins by knocking out the Thundurus and doing massive damage to Kangaskhan. If he targets down the Kyogre, then I get a Sludge Bomb off. I’m unwilling to go for the “safe” double Protect this turn because it’s not safe: Gengar can just get para’d and take a Thunderbolt.
        Edu knocks out Kyogre and does < 50% (I think it does around 47%?) to my Gengar with a Thunderbolt. Sludge Bomb goes off on Kangaskhan and gets the POISON which pretty much guarantees the win.
        HOWEVER I remind myself that the win is not guaranteed. I send in Bronzong because I want to get the KO on Kangaskhan before Groudon comes in. I would prefer Groudon not to be Intimidated just to guarantee the win.
        Turn 4: vs
      I don’t think there’s anything Edu can really do to punish Gyro Ball the Kangaskhan. I Protect Gengar to prevent Gengar from taking too much damage, as Gengar guarantees wins, and if Gengar gets knocked out my Groudon has to come in at the same time as Hitmontop and would get Intimidated. Bronzong survives the Sucker Punch, and would have survived the Thunderbolt. Kangaskhan goes down.

      Turn 5: vs
      (you can watch the rest with commentary here):
       
      I want my switch into Groudon to be free. Since Gengar was paralyzed last turn, I can just Protect it this turn and not get punished. I consider switching Gengar into Groudon, but decide that that is a bit too risky. Gyro Ball on Hitmontop is free and pretty much obligatory as I have no real reason to switch Bronzong out unless I want to win on time (which is less likely than winning on board) and I’m Taunted.
        Edu crits. The crowd goes wild and so do I. This gives me a free switch into Groudon. The only way I can possibly lose this game is if Edu gets 2 super crits on Groudon, or if Edu times me out somehow. Thus, getting in Groudon freely and safely while preserving health on my Gengar is the best possible outcome.
      Edu hangs his head in his hands. However, even if he hadn’t crit, I still would have been in a good position as Hitmontop would have taken damage. Next turn I would have gone for Sludge Bomb on it, and then I could have Fire Punched it to knock it out.
        Turn 6: vs
      I’m kinda irritated at Ray’s commentary. I’ll try to explain my play. Edu has a couple of plays he can go for here. He can Protect Thundurus (if he has it) and Close Combat the Groudon. He can Wide Guard and Thunderbolt the Gengar. Or, he can Thunderbolt the Gengar and Close Combat the Groudon. I was a bit worried about the Wide Guard, and I knew that Edu was going to start playing to time, so I have to go for Fire Punch. Do I go for the Thundurus or do I go for the Hitmontop? Going for the Thundurus is the best choice for a couple reasons. First, Thundurus is the only mon that can hit Gengar. Thundurus is also unlikely to KO Gengar, as the Thunderbolt did less than 50% the first time. I also am not sure of Fire Punch’s damage on Hitmontop. Therefore, If I go for Fire Punch on Thundurus and Sludge Bomb on Hitmontop I guarantee my victory, pretty much no matter what Edu goes for. The only way Edu could even have a shot is if he got a double/triple Protect on Thundurus. However, since his Hitmontop would be at -2/-3 Def I would go for the Hitmontop with Fire Punch, and Sludge Bomb is probably going to do damage if I ever don’t get fully paralyzed.
        Turn 7: vs
      https://twitter.com/YahooEsports/status/767234434735149057
        Edu tries to tell the crowd to cheer for me, to relatively no avail. I don’t get an interview because it’s too late.
      Also at some point after top 8, my brother showed up to cheer me on which was fantastic. I knew there were definitely people in my corner even if the crowd was against me. I had to do some procedural stuff before I could leave.
      I finally got outside the playing area to right outside the room. Gavin, Rajan, and a couple of other people who I can’t remember at this moment all started jumping up and down and cheering “Edu!  Edu! Edu!” recognizing how I had dealt with the chanting. Honestly, that was one of the moments when it hit me what had happened, and. And it was fantastic. I took a long walk back to my brother’s house, did a bit of prep that I’ll discuss in a sec, and went to bed.
        I had talked with Enosh about some gameplans, and there were a couple that I had going into finals. I was going to play game 1 the same way as I did in swiss. Exactly the same way. I was going to make the same turn 1 play, and probably the same turn 2 play as I made in game 2 of swiss. Game 2 I was going to lead Bronzong Groudon with Gengar Kyogre in the back (I wasn’t sure this would work but w/e). This was to convince him that Bronzong Groudon meant Gengar in the back. Game 3 I was going to do the same thing but with Manectric in the back instead of Gengar. This was not a very good plan, and in finals I probably would have just defaulted back to what I had done in swiss. Of course, these plans were all assuming that Wolfe was going to lead Raichu Kyogre.

      I took my time waking up, as I didn’t have to be in the venue until 11. When I got there (and got my brother and his girlfriend in, through begging and pleading people to give us passes), I was assigned Jen to be my handler. When you are going to be on stream, they assign a tournament staff member to you to make sure that when they want you on stream, they know where you are. Then I hung out with Jen and the SQUAD during the TCG finals (Gavin, Angel, Chuppa, Jeudy, Rajan, Nails, Alvin, William etc. there were so many people I can’t name them all). We joked with Jen about the lemonade we had that was non-alcoholic, and about how fun the experience was.
      There’s a lot of sitting down time, during which I treated to some nearby screaming by a very very happy and shrill mom, talked to Hayden McTavish (Enigne, @Enigne_) about how much damage Bronzong could take from Raichu and Kyogre, and freaked out for a couple of hours. This was one of the most stressful moments at Worlds, and I just steadily got more and more distressed, no matter how much I tried to push it down. I started listening to some really hard rock/metal music to get myself pumped up and freaking out less. Then it was time to go up.
        This is going to be a hard set to write about. It took me a month and a half to watch it all the way back. It’s just very difficult for me. I definitely think I didn’t play my best, probably for a whole host of reasons. I think that I was kinda cold after waiting a whole day, and I definitely didn’t remember Gavin’s advice about how Wolfe plays.
        One little aside before I get into the set: Wolfe pulled some grimer here. He said he didn’t want to be on the stream DS, so I offered to do it. However, when we got on stage, and put on the headphones that normally are all white noise, Wolfe put his earbuds into his DS and put them under the headphones. So Wolfe got to listen to the Worlds Finals battle music, and I did not.
        Finals: Wolfe Glick
      Here it is. The final battle. There is one person and one Detroit of a matchup standing between me and ultimate victory. Watch the set here:
        Game 1: I go for the same plan as I did in my first set. A lot of people have asked me why I didn’t bring regular Manectric in addition to my Gengar, instead of my Bronzong. Couple of reasons. One: Manectric has the worst stats. It has no bulk, no Speed and no offense. Wolfe’s Rayquaza would outspeed it once it had Mega Evolved, Kyogre would one shot it, Hitmontop would come close to one shotting it, and I would then have no bulk on my team. Further, I wasn’t sure I could get myself into the situation where it was Gengar Groudon vs Raichu Kyogre, and If I don’t find that situation, Manectric is 100% useless, as it does no damage if Wolfe still has Raichu. Bronzong sets up Trick Room, which is really helpful to beat Wolfe’s whole team.
        The game starts.
        Turn 1: vs
      This was not what I had prepared for. Now looking at this situation, Wolfe is obviously going to switch out his Rayquaza into his Raichu. So the optimal play is probably to Sludge Bomb the Kyogre with my Gengar and Origin Pulse with my Kyogre, or do the same thing with Gengar and switch my Kyogre into my Groudon. I wanted to switch my Kyogre into Groudon particularly, because I knew it was correct. However, I thought that Wolfe wouldn’t just let me get away with that. Then I did the scrub thing: assume he’s going to cover the play that you were thinking about. I know it was wrong. If Wolfe is covering the Groudon switch in, Rayquaza is just going to Protect here. That means that Gengar is not going to take much damage from a Water-type move, so Sludge Bomb + Thunder the Kyogre is the proper play.
      It was not. Wolfe made the correct play. He always does.
        Turn 2: vs
      Well, that was silly. However, Wolfe isn’t Volt Switching his Kyogre here, and he’s almost certainly Ice Beaming the Gengar. Switching Kyogre into Groudon is thus perfectly safe. I also use Protect Gengar to prevent the Ice Beam from knocking it out.
        Turn 3: vs (Sun)
      Well last turn went about exactly the way I expected it to, but I’m in a really awkward position now. Wolfe is pretty free to go for the Volt Switch on my Gengar and Origin Pulse. Considering that, my best play to counter that play is to switch Gengar into Bronzong and Groudon into Kyogre, so I can manage the weather (which I need four Pokemon to do). However, Wolfe expects me to have a Manectric in the back and instead goes for the Endeavor into Groudon (now a Kyogre) and Protect. I think this was a poor play on his end, as a simple Precipice Blades and switch into Bronzong would have been really bad for him, but it worked out.
        Turn 4: vs
      This turn I think that Raichu is probably going to switch out, but I don’t hard read that (which is bad on my end). I just go for safe damage with Origin Pulse and I Trick Room in order to get an advantage going into the next couple of turns. In retrospect, going for Thunder to get the hard read probably would have been a better play. However, I don’t. Trick Room goes up.
        Turn 5: vs
      This turn was another big misplay. There are a ton of options. First, I can switch Bronzong into Gengar and Thunder. I can double the Rayquaza with Gyro Ball and Ice Beam. I can Thunder the Kyogre and Gyro Ball. I can Origin Pulse and Gyro Ball. I can switch to Gengar and Thunder and switch to Gengar and Gyro Ball. I thought Wolfe would think that I’m going to do something like switch to Gengar and Ice Beam the Rayquaza, so I expect him to do something like Protect the Rayquaza and use Origin Pulse. I don’t think I actually believed that it would happen, but I believed that I needed it. Wolfe made the correct play.
        Turn 6: vs
      I think that the Extreme Speed into Bronzong is pretty safe, especially with the Fake Out covering it. I decide to switch Bronzong into Groudon to get some possible damage off next turn and Protect with Kyogre, reading into the possible Fake Out Dragon Ascent into it. Wolfe makes the safe play, and gets the Swords Dance off.
        Turn 7: vs (Air Lock on Sun)
      I kinda think that Wolfe is going to go for the Extreme Speed, but I think that my only way to win the game is if he doesn’t. I’m also not sure that Extreme Speed will knock out Kyogre. I try to get the Ice Beam off, but Kyogre gets knocked out, and I knock out his Raichu. I have to go for Precipice Blades because if I don’t, Raichu would have endeavored my Groudon.
      Turns out that that Extreme Speed was a roll: +2 252 Atk Rayquaza Extreme Speed vs 252 HP / 252 Def Primal Kyogre: 86-102 (41.5 - 49.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO (86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 93, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 100, 102), so a 50% roll. If that roll had gone in my favor, I think this game would have been extremely reasonable. In light of this, going for Eruption to secure the breaking of the Focus Sash would have been a better idea, even if Raichu could have gotten off an Endeavor.
          I send in Gengar. I’m really not sure why.

      Turn 8: vs
      I don’t know what I’m even trying to do here. I decide that it’s best to attack with Groudon because I need to get damage off, and I switch Bronzong back in. I think maybe I was sending in Gengar first in order to bait the Dragon Ascent into Bronzong so maybe I could do damage with Gengar later?
        Turn 9: vs
      The game is basically over, so I hope he goes for the Close Combat + Dragon Ascent into Groudon. In order to prevent that I need to burn the Rayquaza. Wolfe just knocks out my Gengar.
        Turn 10: vs
      I go for Eruption to represent the move. It got me here, so I gotta show it, you know?
        Game 2
        Game 1 went really poorly. However, I feel that the reason it went poorly was because my turn 1 went poorly. If I had gotten off the Origin Pulse on Raichu, I would have been able to Sludge Bomb it to knock it out the next turn and get a Thunder off onto the Kyogre, and then I could manipulate Speed with Bronzong and knock out the Rayquaza. Thus, I decide to go for the same exact team composition. I also can’t think of anything else to bring, as Manectric is really scary to have against the lead that I know Wolfe is going to bring.
       
       
      Turn 1: vs
      Based on the damage from last game, I think that my Gengar is safe. Similarly, I know Wolfe is going to make the same play he did last game: switch Rayquaza into Raichu and Water Spout. I decide to go for Origin Pulse with Kyogre and Sludge Bomb his Kyogre with Gengar. If I do this, I can double Protect and then pressure the rest of Wolfe’s team. I might have to not knock out the Kyogre to get the optimal board position, but everything would start to fall into place.
        Gengar gets knocked out. It is at this moment that I know for sure that I have lost Worlds Finals. I do not have the resources left to counter Wolfe’s weather control. Having 3 Pokémon instead of 4 is a massive problem because it means I can’t control switches the way I wanted to in my set vs Edu. GG.
      I would like to note things about the roll and the alternate spread: 44+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar in Heavy Rain: 136-162 (93.7 - 111.7%) -- 68.8% chance to OHKO. Even with the spread I had, including the chance of missing, Wolfe only had a 58% chance of OHKOing the Gengar.
      If I had changed my spread: 44+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 156 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar in Heavy Rain: 136-162 (87.7 - 104.5%) -- 25% chance to OHKO.
      I’m ok with having not changed my spread, but I’m irritated that this ended up mattering.
       
        I send in Groudon with the intention of switching back into Bronzong and going for the Origin Pulse. I do this to try to bait the Raichu to switch back into the Rayquaza in order to reduce  Wolfe’s Kyogre’s damage to my Bronzong through taking away the rain.
        Turn 2: vs
      I execute my plan, switching Groudon into Bronzong and going for the Origin Pulse. I could have gone for something more like Protecting Kyogre and attacking with Groudon, and I guess that would have been ok? I wasn’t thinking about that read. I think I made an overall safe play, and it ends up getting me into a good position at the end of the day.
      Wolfe switches in Kyogre instead of Hitmontop at the end of the turn, something that I found pretty interesting.
        Turn 3: vs
      I go for Trick Room with Bronzong in order to be able to possibly win the game. I also attack with Kyogre because there’s no benefit to having my Kyogre alive under TR, as it gets knocked out by an Extreme Speed. I thus go for Ice Beam I think. Wolfe drops his Rayquaza’s Def/SpD by going for Dragon Ascent.
        Turn 4: vs
      I’m not sure what exactly I was thinking. I think I thought Wolfe was going to go for Wide Guard and Dragon Ascent into my Groudon. Gyro Ball + Protect punishes that. I also thought that if I Protected, there was nothing Wolfe could do to counter that. I guess I had forgotten about Swords Dance. So I Protected Groudon and Gyro Balled. If I had gone for Eruption, I win this game. Wolfe’s Rayquaza is at -1 SpD, so it will take 45-53% from an Eruption. His Hitmontop will also get knocked out, forcing Wolfe into Kyogre. That allows me next turn to go for the free Skill Swap + Eruption to reset the sun and secure the game (the Rayquaza might Extremespeed, but the combination of poison on the Kyogre, Gyro Ball on the Rayquaza and Eruption damage would knock them both out). Even if Wolfe goes for Wide Guard + Dragon Ascent there I end up in a better position, as even though my Groudon has damage on it, I can start to damage the Kyogre and the Rayquaza. However, I Protected.
        Turn 5: vs
      The game is over. I go for Precipice Blades and Gyro Ball on the Rayquaza even though the correct play (looking back on it) was to go for Skill Swap Eruption, which would have done more damage, but I do not believe would have won me the round. I don’t know man, I was depressed. I didn’t notice the correct play.
        Turn 6: vs
      I Protect Groudon because I had to. If I had crit the Rayquaza with Gyro Ball I still could have won the game, but I didn’t.

      The rest of the game is self explanatory.


      And that’s it! You’ve finished. Time has run out! The battle is over! Now I’m going to give shoutouts.
        Ben Rothman. Ben Rothman is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met and has been a consistent friend to me throughout the years. He taught me how to play competitive Pokémon and has built teams with me and has cheered me on and never stopped believing in me. I love Ben. There’s not much more to say.
      Enosh Shachar. I met Enosh at my first Pokémon tournament, and he has also been an amazing friend this whole time. He’s given me teams, told me how to improve, battled with me. He’s been fantastic, and really helped me grow as a player. He also practiced with me for Worlds, and must have at that point given me his “never win curse”.
      Toler Webb. I honestly don’t remember how I met Toler, but he has believed in me for a long time. Again, he helped me practice. He comforted me when I thought I was about to quit, even though he was going through a tough time then. I couldn’t have done this without him.
      Gavin Michaels. The brains behind the whole operation. I literally could not have done this without Gavin, as his teams got me my invite and then got me my placing. He’s played so many practice games with me across so many different teams across so many different years that it’s hard to count.
      The brains behind the brains, Rajan Bal, for coming up with Gengar Bronzong Ogre.
      Imoutos for giving me a really good community in NYC to keep coming back to and to hang out with, and everyone else in NYC. Specific shoutouts to Angel for being the heart and soul of the group.
      Nic Freda (and the rest of the judges) for getting me not disqualified.
      Nick Navarre for getting me lots and lots of information.
      My man Pedro (@Pedroazl) for cutting those videos so I don’t have to see comments like https://twitter.com/YureeVGC/status/788814444788846594
      Zachary Lemonides and Trey (DaWoblefet, @DaWoblefet) for being fantastic editors.
        Final team: http://pastebin.com/FaqdayWG
    • By monk in On Entry Fees 25
      Recently, the competitive Pokemon scene is up in arms that events will now have a $40-$50 entry fee instead of a $10-$15 entry fee. (You can read more about the controversy here: https://themeta.killscreen.com/pokemon-twitter-outraged-rising-tournament-entry-fees/) Now I can understand the concerns of higher entry fees, but I’m disconcerted by the fact that absolutely no one the VGC community is even playing devil’s advocate, trying to look at the situation from a different angle. From my perspective, the higher entry fees are quite defensible and I want to do my best to explain why. In addition to my own initial impressions, I’ve consulted some other professionals in the eSports industry and they all seem to at least in part echo my thoughts.
       
      The following thoughts are rooted in my experience as a project manager, player manager, and tournament organizer for TeamLiquid, one of the premier eSports teams in the world. In this last three years, I’ve worked on a daily basis with players, tournament organizers, teams, sponsors, and game developers(eSports, community, and development departments) on a variety of titles. I’ve also worn many hats in the past as a player, caster, player manager, translator, and a TO at approximately 50 events in that time.
       
      My first thought is that compared to other eSport titles, players in the VGC community have little experience with the business aspect of video game tournaments. I don’t blame them at all since the scene is still very young and players don’t get the opportunity to experience the industry in a variety of positions as is much more common in the first-generation eSport titles. There’s also not that much cross-pollination between games; for instance, I’ve never heard of a VGC player retiring to become a League player. I believe this is where the disconnect on the entry fees comes from.
       
      When I first heard the news that entry fees were being raised to $40-$50 an event, my initial impression was surprise that it wasn’t higher previously. In eSports, the standard entry fee for a major open LAN tournament is between $50 and $120. For reference, DreamHack is the premier open tournament organizer in the world, hosting games in literally every eSport. The ticket price for a typical Dreamhack BYOC event is ~$100. A quick google search net me this link https://austin.dreamhack.com/17/tickets/ showing the entry fee being $113.37. The prize pools for these events are often fairly small as well. DreamHack Montreal, for example, and the following prize pools:
      Starcraft: $3000
      Rocket League: $4000 (requires 2 or 3 passes)
      Hearthstone: $6000
      League: $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      CS: GO:  $15,000 (requires 5 passes)
      Most of these tournaments were either not broadcasted or broadcasted to an extremely small audience (sub 100 viewers). Now you may be saying that this is still a relatively major event (more akin to the current international events). And I’m sure many will point out that Pokemon tournament organizers are now charging $40 for even regional events. In that case, let’s look at the last StarCraft community LANs in the United States over the last year, events that I believe are comparable to regionals:
      Cheesedelphia 1: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 2: $2,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3: $4,000 Prize Pool, $50 entry fee
      Psistorm LAN: $1,000 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      Cheesedelphia 3.5: $750 Prize Pool, $20 entry fee
      These entry fees and prize pools seem to be very much in line with current Pokemon regionals. Players travel from all over the United States for these events and players never complain about high entry fees; they’re just glad to have open LANs to go to.
      Next, I want to address tournament organizers. For the most part, offline tournament organization is a very low-margin business, even for the most successful events. Even for the most popular titles and tournaments, costs are heavily subsidized, funded by a combination of game developers or outside sponsors. As VGC currently has no sponsors(likely due to TPCi’s strict brand protectionism, especially in their official circuit), sponsorship is not an option in this scenario. Now, I can’t speak to whether TPCi subsidizes tournament organization costs to regional events in addition to the prize pool, but if not, the new entry fees are extremely reasonable.
      I also want to address the perspective of the Pokemon company, especially the eSports/VGC department of that company. Within these game development companies, budgets get approved for each department separately, usually on an annual basis. Unless you’re Riot, the eSports budget is often tiny compared to other departments such as marketing. I imagine from what I know about TPCi that even the budget we have this year was difficult to obtain. Since as far as I’m aware, TPCi directly organizes international-level events, it’s possible that the higher entry fees  exist to offset the much larger prize pool players get to enjoy this year at the international level.
       
      Now, I’ve heard the argument that this higher entry fee will deter players from competing. And that lower tournament attendance equates to killing eSports in a time of such large potential growth. People are asking “why don’t we have a medium sized prize pool and medium sized entry fees instead?” My answer to that is that tournament attendance does not necessarily equate to more attention from the eSports community at all. In recent years, eSport tournaments have been moving away from open tournaments to invite tournaments or closed-off leagues (see LCS, TI, other CS + Dota majors). I would even go so far to say that the attendance lost from the higher entry fee has little to no effect on Pokemon’s health as an eSport. What does matter, however, is the higher prize pool. Both general eSports media and the mainstream media always pay attention when people are playing games for so much money. The perfect example is TI, the international multi-million dollar Dota championship every year that is actually covered by mainstream media outlets. Not only that, but a higher prize pool shows sponsors and eSports teams that TPCi is much more serious this year about becoming a mainstream eSport (in addition to all the format changes announced this year).
       
      Finally, I’m sure many of you will say that Pokemon tournaments are different beasts from traditional first-generation eSports tournaments. Yes, we have sponsors/teams who may pay for entry fees, but generally less than a third of the players competing in these tournaments get their entry fees comped by teams. More importantly, however, I keep hearing VGC players aspiring for their beloved game to enter mainstream eSports. This year, Pokemon has gotten closer than ever thanks to the conscience efforts of TPCi to bring the VGC circuit closer to that of a traditional eSport. VGC as it is now is closer to an true eSport than you may think, but we can’t take the good without taking the bad as well. In the end, I believe 2017 will be a big year for Pokemon and higher entry fees will be a small price to pay.
       
      If you want to discuss this further or ask any other questions about eSports, feel free to contact me via @Liquid_monk
    • By makiri in makiri's blog 0
      Welcome to the 5th Nugget Bridge Invitational. Big thanks to every host, player, and other people who contributed to the 5th Nugget Bridge Season making it a great success. This Invitational will be slightly unique compared to the past. We will have several weekly rounds that will ultimately culminate in a single live tournament day to be live streamed.
      These are the fantastic players who managed to make out prestigious tournament:

      Of course the bracket:

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

      Contents
      0:14  History
      2:47  Fitting into my style
      4:14  The team
      4:31  Xerneas
      8:45  Rayquaza
      12:13 Smeargle
      19:45 Scrafty
      23:32 Volcarona
      30:46 Thundurus
      34:58 Biggest issues
      39:38 Tournament run
      44:17 Thanks!
       
      More viewing!
      ● Day 1, Round 4 stream game
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16yTmxPV1z4
      ● Day 1, Round 8 stream game
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HFT0q5l9d60
      ● Day 2, Rounds 1 and 4 highlights
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MqSQ8iiqq3w
      ● Day 2, Rounds 5, 7 and T16 highlights
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lFRsEqlg8Uw
      ● Day 2, Quarter final stream game
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7kXvawZGf0M
       
      Thanks for watching!

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

       2. Jonathan Evans (Ezrael)

       3. Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37)

       4. Eduardo Cunha (EmbC)

      5. Aaron Traylor (Unreality)

       6. Justin Carris (Azazel)

       7. Barry Anderson (Baz Anderson)

        8. Baris Akcos (Billa)

       9. Sebastian Escalante (Sebas)

       10. Giovanni Costa (The Gio)

       11. Michael Lanzano (JiveTime)

       12. Edward Cheung (Harbinger)

       13. Jamie Boyt (MrJellyLeggs)

       14. Blake Hopper (Bopper)

       15. Sam Pandelis (ZeldaVGC)

       16. Matthias Suchodolski (Lega)

       17. Patrick Smith (SalaMenace)

       18. Alejandro Jimenez (Legacy)

       19. Andrew Nowak (Nowakgolf)

       20. Wonseok Jang (KrelCROC)

       21. Conan Thompson (Conan)

       22. Dane Zieman (AgentOrangeJulius)

       23. Christian Cheynubrata

       24. Till Bohmer (Dark Psiana)

      Finished 4-3
       25. Rajan Bal (blarajan)

       26. Ying Jun Qi (Ying)

       27. James Baek (Jamesspeed1)

       28. William Tansley (StarKO)

       29. Matias Roa (Boah)

       30. Eric Rios (riopaser)

       31. Alvin Hidayat (Jibaku)

       32. Kotake Hideto (Liar)

       33. Motochika Nabeshima (Elm)

       34. David Mizrahi (AwesomePlatypus)

       35. Nimiel Catipon (leimin)

       36. Hayato Takahashi (Hayato)

       37. Matt Carter (Mattsby)

       38. Matthew Coyle (OneEyedWonderWeasel)

       39. Brianna Birt (TR Jessie)

       40. Alexander Kuhn (Hibiki)

       41. Suzuki Tatsu (MDK)

       42. Yuanhao Li (Hao)

       43. Christian Ramirez (EwokPadawan)

       44. Jirawiwat Thitasiri

       45. Tobias Koschitzki (Tobysxe)

       46. Alex Gomez (Pokealex)

       47. Marcel Kapelle (Massi)

       48. Yuichi Sasaki (Yuuichi)

       49. Masaki Kubota (mirage)

       50. Riccardo Appamea (Appa)

       51. Kazi Rahman (AwakenedCity)

      Finished 3-4
       52. Alfredo Prada (AlfreDo)

       53. Rachel Annand (SPEevee)

       54. Matteo Moscardini (MoscaVGC)

       55. Or Kei Yin (CyrusOr)

       56. Grant Weldon (Velocity)

       57. Javier Senorena (Proman)

       58. Joshua Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou)

       59. Hongyu Zhu (fivepointstars)

      60. Chien-Chien Tsai (ChienX2)

       61. Rafik Sadli (DominoRaf)

       62. Justin Burns (Spurrific)

       63. Kitaoka Tsubasa (nanakango)

       64. Federico Andino (AndyVGC)

       65. Takuro Terada (inoseno)

       66. Greyson Garren (Greysong)

       67. Zhang Zhe (polito)

       68. Naohito Mizobuchi (Penguin)

       69. Aniello Iuliano (Senior14)

       70. Federico Turano (AvatarFede)

       71. Soichiro Kohara (komaru)

       72. Ethan Hall (Jhon)

       73. Jang Jung In (JJI)

       74. Christopher Kan 

       75. Alex Underhill (Lexicon)

       76. Jonathan Chiang

       77. Simone Sanvito (Sanvy)

      Finished 2-5
       78. Andre Tavara Jara

       79. Chase Lybbert (I Am a Rookie)

       80. Lukas Muller (Knappi)

       81. Bridger Snow (squirtwo)

       82. Meaghan Rattle (AvengedWerehog)

       83. Alessio Yuri Boschetto (PokemonZone)

       84. Demitrios Kaguras (kingdjk)

       85. Chi Yuen Fu 

       86. Alexander Poole (triceratops5)

       87. Juan Naar (DonVGC)

       88. Michael Riechert (Michilele)

       89. Dominic Scheffler (TheFlashColonel)

       90. Chen Wu

      Finished 1-6
       91. Kamaal Harris (Kamaal)

       92. Tsao Che-Ming (Duoo)

       93. Hironori Seino 

       94. Marcelo Salgado (Lerion)

      Did Not Finish
       Jeudy Azzarelli (SoulSurvivor)

       Yosuke Isagi (Tony)

       Gary Qian (ZygardeVGC)

       Lee Ji Seok (MeLuCa)

       Shoma Honami (SHADEviera)

       Cedric Bernier (Talon)

       Steven Markhardt (Kali)

       Koki Honda

       Victor Manuel Gonzalez Garcia

       Kimo Nishimura (TFC)

       Hideyuki Taida (BIDC)

       Arash Omatti (Mean)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Rayquaza/Xerneas/Talonflame/Lapras/Landorus-T/Smeargle
       
      Ah XRay...the format’s cheesiest archetype. Although there weren’t really any cheeses here. That could have been Sing/Dragon Dance Lapras, but I chose to not count for that possibility. My team has Mega Gengar and Bronzong so I wasn’t scared of her restricteds, however, she beat me Game 1 because I mismanaged my KOes and Xerneas managed to set up. Additionally, her Rayquaza had Earth Power, swiftly dispatching Gengar. There wasn’t much to remember about this set except for the part where I clicked buttons and won Game 2 and 3 because Bronzong was too much for her to handle. I knocked out Lapras with Kyogre’s Thunder to secure my positive record. Jon Hu came by to congratulate me on knocking out her “heretic” Lapras as she had Ice Beam.
       
      LWW [4-3]
      ***************
      Final Scores:
      Vs Xerneas/Groudon: 6 wins, 2 losses
      Vs Primals: 0 wins, 1 loss
      Vs Xerneas/Kyogre: 1 win, 0 losses
      Vs Dialga/Groudon: 2 wins, 0 losses
      Vs Yveltal/Groudon: 0 wins, 1 loss
      ****************
      Eliminated from Worlds, placing me 31st in the rankings (and 1 placement above the top placing Japanese wheeee). I will admit that I played a vast majority of my games on autopilot, utilizing familiarity with double primals and the fact that I’ve historically performed best by piloting semi-technical teams by just pressing buttons instead of overthinking. In other words, I spent <10s for almost every turn. On the other hand, Rajan, who piloted the same team, took the game to timer fairly often. I’d often be one of the first to finish my matches, and he’d often be one of the last. Unfortunately, this has left a fraction of my play being suboptimal and crucially robbed me wins vs conan and Zelda, which meant that I have to work on slowing down my pace of the game. I was more disappointed by messing up vs conan because beating him with double primal would have been a great personal pride, and i think I’d have the game if I had gone for Wide Guard Eruption on that particular turn.
       
      I’m still unsure if my team is good or not, since it was a last second thing. It worked out for me, sure, but that doesn’t mean everything. I do know for sure that I’ll have to re evaluate a lot of things on the team because Wolfe’s team will be common and my team has a negative matchup against that. If I want to be successful in the events in the near future, I’ll need something else.
       
      Despite a regretful ending, I had such a great time at worlds. Meeting everyone was a huge blast (especially Edu whose joy for the game is contagious aaaa big fan <333). For the rest of that day I focused my positive energy to cheer for Jon Evans as he by some unexplainable miracle made it super far in the tournament rocking the Gavin squad. As one of the two top cutting double primal players, Jon did us all proud by knocking everyone down to reach the finals. Except for the part where he flipped the crowd. This meant that he was denied the opportunity to give shoutouts, although Jon said he wouldn’t give me one anyways >:(. Oh well, we got to witness the birth of a new meme.
       
      MOST IMPORTANTLY, I got top 32 at worlds using some of my favorite mons. Groudon, Kyogre, Zapdos, and arguably Mega Gengar (whom I have a love/hate relationship with). Thus, just making it past day 1 meant a lot to me. Everything means a lot more when you’re using something you really like, and I’m glad I didn’t crash and burn Day 1. Even though I consider myself fairly lucky in this tournament run, I’m still fairly proud of myself. This is an opportunity that will only happen once in a couple of years, and I will, without a doubt, miss restricted mons when they move back to the banlist in the following years. Can’t say the same for other people, of course.
       
      Thank you Primals. We will meet again someday.
       
      I’ll conclude my worlds experience with a paragraph from Grant
       
      “Did I make some mistakes throughout the tournament? Yes. However, making mistakes is the only way to improve. Learning from each and every one and applying that knowledge in the future is the hallmark of any success. I cannot blame every mistake on nervousness or pressure, some were just pure miscalculations, and in others I was tunnel-visioned. These are aspects of my play that I can improve on in the future. With the Nationals format this year being all best-of-three sets and all X-2 Cut on both days, the format ensures that the best and most prepared players make it to the top. It's really hard to fluke your way through the sheer number of games, especially with them all being best-of-three. Overall, I won the right matches and played to the caliber of a Nationals Semifinalist, and I am extremely proud of my play as a whole and what I was able to achieve.”
       
      I’m not a Nationals Semifinalist, so just replace that with a Day 2 Worlds Player.
       
      THE VGC 2016 CONCLUSION - BRIEF METAGAME THOUGHTS
       
      Gonna still say that I enjoyed VGC2016 more than most people. I’ve yet to play a metagame where there are so many instances of field control on the field, and I really enjoyed having global objectives to fight over, creating a more interactive gamestate than just trading blows and switching. I can’t really explain why, probably because I’m not a doubles expert or maybe I’m just throwing buzzwords out (or I’m just out of touch with competitive Pokemon), but I really enjoy weather wars. Double Primal then naturally came to be my favorite archetype, and RayOgre was probably my 2nd most comfortable archetype throughout the season. The worlds finals involving these two archetypes made me very happy.
       
      Of course, having restricted mons as my favorite mons allowed me to easily suppress negative thoughts of the metagame. Smeargle is still dumb and Dark Void needs to get banned. Geomancy is borked but I’ll let that one pass for a bit.  I feel that these two can take over games too quickly that you’re gonna end up with flowcharted or hyperoffensive games, which aren’t fun imo. Flowcharting can also become a bad habit, and I learned from Nats that you want experience so you can pull off instinct based plays. Other than that, I enjoyed the rest of the restricteds in the meta. Groudon is arguably too strong but I think there are ample ways to counter it even if it does often require the use of Rayquaza and/or Kyogre. Groudon is a mon that facilitates various archetypes and playstyles, and as a result, I don’t mind its unmatched presence. I’m not one to care too much about individual variety - team style variety is more important, and Groudon is a good mon for the metagame to be centralized around imo.
       
      Nerf Special Groudon though. I don’t think Special Don is good but it’s impossible to switch into for sun based teams and often creates an Earth Power speedtie coinflip vs other Groudons of the same kind. This isn’t very healthy.
       
      One thing that really surprised me was how Wolfe managed to find a team that’s just so fitting for his technical playstyle in an overall hyperoffensive metagame. I have lots of respect for that.
      I’d actually be very upset if the rules revert to 2015 post worlds till 2017 because I  barely played 2015 and I don’t want to learn a meta that’s going to be gone in like 3-4 months. No thanks.
      SHOUTOUTS
      Get ready for a long list
       
      Thank you to:
      Danny Mclanahan (cosmicexplorer) and Scott Henrehan (muffinhead) for kickstarting my VGC experience in 2011 and teaching me doubles.
      Aaron Traylor (Unreality) for being a great friend and a practice partner. You were also there for me in 2011 to help me get started.
      Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37), Alex Kuhn (Hibiki), Aaron Zheng (Cybertron), and Wolfe Glick, for providing a lot of VGC content early in the season for me to learn from. It was a blast to watch the videos, and I learned so much from them. Big fan!
      Tommy Cooleen for providing great streams for the first half of the format. I learned a ton from here, and I enjoyed interacting with you and the other viewers. I’m sorry that I had to Smeargle you out to get into Day 2.
      Cruisers (Simon, Jio, catme, Scar, Lexicon, Hongyu, DarkPenguin, Snake, Kamz, Biosci, Amarillo. Oh and Angel) for being amazing teammates and believing in me
      Grant Weldon (Velocity) for inspiring me to go back to running primals once more. You  never directly told me to do it, but your success reminded me that I was wrong to ditch something I had a lot of comfort with. I owe my worlds run to your Nats placement.
      Ricardo (RPIndaHouse) for discussing matchups and situations with me on twitter and for providing a great resource (top performing teams compilation).
      Chris Danzo (Lunar) for being a great friend and also supposedly my rival.
      Team Virginia (Yan (not sogeking), Dani, Jancarlo, SUN DUDE, Karl, Ian). I’m pretty sure I forgot people.
      Nick Borghi (LightCore). For helping me practice and being such an amazing friend. You made worlds and Nats very exciting.
      Conan for being the greatest VGC meme, and a source of metagame progression.
      Team Smogon (Nails, blarajan, Porengan, kamikaze, TFC, uhhh does Sam count?).
      Chuppa for being an inspiration as one of the most consistent Double Primal users in the country. Sorry your worlds run wasn’t as great as your other runs, but watching you really helped me.
      Eduardo Cunha (EmbC) for being super nice and happy irl.
      mudhiman
      Double Primals
      Honestly there are likely people I missed. Don’t get salty pls ;_;
       
      The list doesn’t end there, of course. Now for the main ones
      Rajan Bal (blarajan) and Nick Navarre (Nails) for:
      Getting me into VGC in the recent year
      Being the main person I bounce ideas to
      Providing me with means of transport and a place to stay during events
      Having dumb ideas I can make fun of
      Ladder skype sessions
      (for blara) for basically building my worlds team, and creating the cores for Jon and Gavin’s squad. The same core (reminder: Gengar/Zong/Ogre) also won worlds, so his meta calls have been on point in the latter half of the season.
      Also being great friends
      Gavin Michaels for:
      Setting the standard for Double Primals...twice. Once during February, and once again at Worlds. You created the framework for the most fun archetype in the format.
      I was often skeptical of how the teams functioned, but I can’t doubt the success they have.
      Having an insane Chuppa impression
      Also screw you for creating the team that eliminated me from worlds
      Enosh Shachar for:
      Being a crazy tester and being willing to test virtually anything. Most people aren’t open to creative ideas, but you always brought something fresh. Talking to you was always great
      You gave us a lot of ideas to use for our teams. While we didn’t use them, we were often heavily considering them. You really helped with the teambuilding process, and opened us to consider that the metagame is wider than we thought. I really enjoyed that aspect and I wish that I’ll be able to repay those ideas with success in the future.
      Jonathan Evans for:
      I’m still utterly mystified that you got 2nd place at worlds btw
      For being my punching bag in randbats and battle factory
      Primal Squad
      Gengar Illuminati (jon, me, enosh, blara, gavin)
      Aaron Traylor for:
      Uh I’m posting his name here again because the first shoutout part wasn’t good enough.
      SMOGON HOUSE (blarajan, Nails, Porengan, SamVGC, kokoloko, rozes, Kiyo, CBB, CasedVictory)
       
      Feel free to drop any Pokemon related questions, and thanks for reading! Oh and if you haven’t played VGC, you should really consider it. It’s really fun meeting up with people from all over the nation and the world!
       
      That is all
       
      - Jibaku


       
    • By MajorBowman in Bowman's Corner 8
      Hi everyone. For the second year in a row, I am writing a report for the team I used to go 1-3 at Worlds Day 1. Exciting, I know. Last year I did it because, even though I realized after the event that the team had serious flaws, I personally loved the team and just wanted to talk about it. This time, however, I think the team is phenomenal and I just played so incredibly poorly. The same team went 6-1, 6-2, 5-3, and 5-3, so it's clearly capable of performing well. If you really don't care about a team unless it cut Day 2 then go ahead and click the x on the top right of the window I suppose, but I've never felt more confident in a team with which I performed so poorly. And with that, I present to you the newest archetype about to take the Pokeworld by storm: Sunny D!
      The Beginning: A Very Good Place to Start
      For the most part, if I use the word "we" in this section I'm referring to me and @Tman as we did most of the teambuilding work before sharing the team with a couple of our friends. The base of this team was a core of 4 Pokemon that both Tommy and I thought were incredibly good. I particularly liked the core because it had a pretty good matchup against the typical Big X teams, X being whatever their filler Pokemon is. I was quite comfortable bringing those 4 to every game against Big 6, so I was excited to build around it since the last two slots could be basically whatever I wanted.

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

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

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

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

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

      Mr.KnowItAll (Scrafty) @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Happiness: 0  
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 116 Def / 132 SpD / 4 Spe  
      Careful Nature  
      IVs: 15 Spe  
      - Fake Out  
      - Low Kick  
      - Knock Off  
      - Super Fang
      It's such a tragedy / When people hardly speak / Try to live up to the person you pretend to be / You're Mr. Know-It-All
      Mr. Know-It-All by Young the Giant
      This last slot was the trickiest. We weren't really sure what we needed from this slot, so we wanted something that would be universally useful. The worst matchup for the 5 Pokemon so far was looking like Yveltal, and opposing Groudon could sometimes be annoying if they could prevent the Gravity Hypnosis mode. When I was talking to @Lexiconabout Worlds he mentioned that he was testing what was basically our first 5 Pokemon with Scrafty. I mentioned the idea to Tommy and we both liked it, so I shared the details of our squad with Alex and he joined the cult. Scrafty is a Pokemon that I've generally seen as very mediocre in this format, but it filled a couple of niche roles on this team that made it valuable enough to use in my eyes. The extra Intimidate was very helpful in dealing with opposing Groudon, especially the purely physical variants. Fake Out is always a valuable move, especially on a team like ours with the potential to fire off Dark Void or set up Swords Dance or Trick Room. Scrafty helped with Bronzong mirrors, as the only other way we had to deal relevant damage to Bronzong was our Groudon. However, Super Fang was easily the best reason to use Scrafty. Scrafty was slower than both Groudon and Dialga, so if Trick Room went up it was very easy to chip a couple Pokemon for half their health and let either of the big hitters finish them off. When everything is so bulky it's sometimes hard to do consistent damage with your non restricted and non mega Pokemon, but Super Fang alleviated that issue. Having another Pokemon that could threaten slow Smeargle in Trick Room was pretty useful too, as Bronzong was previously the only thing that undersped it. We put Lum Berry on Scrafty since non-sleep statuses like Burn affected it a little more than Bronzong. With this EV spread, Scrafty always survives a full power Water Spout from Modest Kyogre and a -1 Double-Edge from Salamence with 148 or less EVs in Attack. I haven't seen any Salamence go any higher than that in Attack investment so I was fine with that limitation. Opposing Groudon have to be max Attack to even have a chance to 2HKO with -1 Fire Punch, and even then they would need to max rolls. A lot of Groudon struggle to even 3HKO Scrafty with Precipice Blades at -1 Attack as well, which made Scrafty a pretty safe switch into physical Groudon. The Speed IV allows Scrafty to underspeed min speed Smeargle. @GreySong actually used Clefairy in this slot as he was given the team at an earlier stage of testing and we didn't know he was using it at Worlds until the morning of, but the rest of us had the cute little hoodlum.
      Alright, but why should I listen to you? You went 1-3!
      Yeah yeah, I had a bad day and played like I had never touched a 3DS before. Really can't talk my way around that. However, I like to think that I'm at least good enough to recognize a team that has the potential to be top tier, and I truly believe this team was worth using. Last year at Worlds I could think of a couple changes I would have made to the team if I could repeat the tournament, but I loved each and every part of this team and would easily use it again if I had the chance to redo Worlds. Two people made Day 2 using the team, and two more were one game away but got a bit unlucky in round 8. I'm not meaning to sound desperate for you to agree with my opinion or anything, but I guess I feel the need to justify the team after I couldn't do any better than a 25% win rate at the most important tournament of the year. If you've ever looked past a poor result to dissect a team, let it be now. I'm definitely interested in hearing your thoughts about the team, so feel free to comment and/or tweet at me and tell me any combination of "wow I love it you're so creative" and "lol you suck shut up." This is probably the most cynical post I've ever written, hopefully you appreciated my stupid humor.
      Quick shoutouts to everyone who used the team at Worlds (@Tman @Lexicon @BlitznBurst @ProfShroomish @GreySong  @megachar10), I really love having people to talk matchups and plot gameplans with at tournaments. I'm glad you all believed in our little creation as much as I did. They might do their own reports and include a rundown of their matches over the weekend, so be on the lookout for those.
      Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow me at @MajorBowman_! Man, it just doesn't have the same ring to it
  • Recent Blog Posts

    • By Crawdaunt in VGC with Hats 0
      VGC 2017 Early Metagame Impressions

      View the full article
    • By Voltage in The Thunderdome 3
      This is a team that i was working on for a few days now using one of my favorite new pokemon from sun and moon, alolan raichu. It has a really cool typing and adorable design with a pretty neat ability to boot. The main goals of the team were to create an enviorment for my core to succeed and to never let trick room go up.
       
      The Team

      Raichu-Alola @ Psychium Z
      Ability: Surge Surfer
      Level: 50
      EVs: 60 HP / 12 Def / 252 SpA / 36 SpD / 148 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Thunderbolt
      - Psychic
      - Fake Out
      - Encore
      This mon is the reason the team came to be, its so bidoof adorable. Raichu fills a slightly different role in '17 due to its new ability surge surfer, which is swift swim in electric terrain. Its not all that strong with a base 95 spA stat, but with electric terrain and a modest nature it becomes decently strong. It runs dual stabs for maximum coverage, not many legal pokemon resist this stab combo this season so its pretty solid. Fake out is a very useful move, you can mold the enemy team for a turn so team members can set up, attack safely or burn turns. Encore is used to lock supporting pokemon into non attacking moves making then basically dead weight for 3 turns, or forcing a switch. The psychic Z crystal is very nice to have on raichu as it lets its OHKO marowak 84% of the time from full, and hits other pokemon that resist thunderbolt harder as well.

      Tapu Koko @ Focus Sash
      Ability: Electric Surge
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Thunderbolt
      - Dazzling Gleam
      - Grass Knot
      - Protect
      Tapu koko because he has to be here, i decided to run focus sash to help with garchomp as it wont ko with earthquake as you 2hko with dazzling gleam. It also soaks up other very strong attacks like z moves and offers a ko in return. Grass knot is specially for gastrodon as it is an issue for the team, you 2hko it with grass knot. Its not the best answer but with the other attacks on the team like raichu's shattered psyche you can deal with it/

      Gyarados @ Waterium Z
      Ability: Intimidate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 52 HP / 196 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpD / 180 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Waterfall
      - Dragon Dance
      - Taunt
      - Protect
      Gyarados is such a value pick in this meta, it helps my team deal with marowak and other grounds plus intimidate and a solid sweeper capable of 2hkoing celesteela after one dd. Its part of the glue that keeps the team working. Another option in this slot would be pelipper if you wanted a more rain oriented team, but i wanted the utility of intimidate and taunt to stop trick room users.

      Nihilego @ Life Orb
      Ability: Beast Boost
      Level: 50
      EVs: 36 HP / 220 SpA / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk
      - Sludge Bomb
      - Power Gem
      - Hidden Power [Ice]
      - Protect
      Nihilego is another of my favorite new designs from this generation, Its main role on this team are providing a tapu check (thats not lele) and it outspeeds non scarf garchomp and picks up the ko with hp ice. It also ohkos alolan marowak which is a huge plus for a team that spams electric types. This is the special attack boosting set, but the speed one would work just fine as well.

      Krookodile @ Darkinium Z
      Ability: Intimidate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 36 HP / 252 Atk / 220 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Earthquake
      - Crunch
      - Taunt
      - Protect
      This other than raichu and koko is what i started the team with, the idea of maintaining speed control by not letting trick room go up. This guy is pretty nasty even without knock off (which will make him better because he can beat porygon 2 as well as the other setters) A ground type is nice to have as annoying fire types this season are a problem namely arcanine and marowak. Krook stops trick room and gets a free +1 boost with z taunt, or ohkos oranguru (if they protect the z move crunch kills!) Double intimidate is really a coincidence on this team as its not particularly amazing with all of the new special threats running around.

      Celesteela @ Leftovers
      Ability: Beast Boost
      Level: 50
      EVs: 228 HP / 44 Atk / 116 Def / 116 SpD / 4 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Heavy Slam
      - Protect
      - Leech Seed
      - Wide Guard
      What team wouldnt like to have one of these monsters on their side? Its a very nice blanket check to alot of threats, namely tapu lele and garchomp which neither can touch celesteela. Wide guard is in prep for the eq spam and overheats that try to take down my main core. The evs guarentee kos on lele and it boosts its attack on ko making it a fairly strong threat that you cant kill very easily due to its recovery. Synergies with krookodile really well due to intimidate making it harder to kill, and celesteela taking care or fairies that annoy krookodile.
       
      Ill post battle codes and core breakdowns when i get some more playtests in, thanks for reading!
    • By Technizor in Technizor 2
      Who I Am
      My name is Sherman Ying. I'm a Masters division player from Toronto, Canada and I love playing games with competitive strategy and minmaxing. I currently play in the Waterloo, Ontario region and attend the University of Waterloo (ICPA Fall 2015). I played in several VGC tournaments in the 2015 format and placed decently among the regular local tournament attendees.
      This is my first tournament report, so some parts might be a bit blown up or too condensed. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
      The Motivation / Team Plan
      The 2015-2016 Competitive season wasn't great for me. I participated in only 2 Premier Challenges, and meeting the minimum requirements, participated in the US 2016 Nationals, dropping after 5/9 rounds (2-3-0) because of a moment of panic I had after I walked out of the Pokemon Center store being billed for an extra T-Shirt. I promptly dropped and went to get it resolved, only to find out that I would have been on time for the Round 6 match. (I was planning on playing the rest of the rounds because I would have been trapped in the closet for the whole day regardless.)
      Being hyped for Sun and Moon and being completely done with the 2016 format, I planned to participate in the first Premier Challenge in Ontario, only 16 days after the release date. With such a small time window, I prioritized learning about the new Pokemon and Alolan forms and putting together a team that could compete when piloted well, even if it wasn't necessarily optimal or perfectly tested. You can take this tournament report as my early metagame reading on VGC 2017.
      The Team
      Tapu Lele

      Metagross

      Pelipper

       Gyarados

      Porygon2

      Garchomp

      The Premier Challenge
      There were 13 Masters and 2 Juniors from near the Kitchener/Waterloo/Cambridge area.
      4 rounds of Swiss, Best of 3.
      Masters Top Cut of 4, Best of 3 matches. 
      The Matches
      Swiss: Round 1 - vs. Shingo Fukuyado
      Team: Tapu Koko, Weavile, Salamence, Metagross, ???, ???
      Game 1:
      He led with Weavile and Tapu Koko while I led with Pelipper and Metagross. Since the Thunderbolt on Pelipper was a very likely first turn move, I Protected with Pelipper and targeted Weavile with Meteor Mash, knowing that I had Garchomp with Focus Sash in the back to deal with Tapu Koko. Weavile used Fake Out on Pelipper and Tapu Koko used Thunderbolt on Metagross, doing about 60% of its HP. Meteor Mash OHKOed the Weavile.
      He sent in Salamence and I ended up sacrificing my Tapu Lele and Metagross since Tailwind + Garchomp was my win condition. Pelipper was able to set up Tailwind against Salamence + Metagross with my Garchomp outspeeding Salamence and 2HKOing it with Rock Slide after 2 turns Life Orb recoil on the same turn.
      With the Tailwind up, Garchomp easily OHKOed his Tapu Koko and Pelipper finished the game with a Rain-boosted Scald on Metagross.
      Game 2:
      He led with Weavile and Tapu Koko while I led with Pelipper and Garchomp. Since the first game he had thrown the Fake Out and Thunderbolt at different targets (and I protected Pelipper), I guessed that he would stay in with Tapu Koko and double target the Pelipper (potentially with Volt Switch) in hopes that I went for the risky Tailwind. I ended up being correct, and my Garchomp OHKOed his Tapu Koko on Turn 1. He forfeited Turn 2.
      Swiss: Round 2 - vs. Cameron Henderson
      Team: Tapu Lele, Arcanine, Alolan-Ninetails, Garchomp, Milotic, Alolan-Sandslash
      Game 1:
      I led with Pelipper and Metagross, knowing thgat under rain, Arcanine cannot OHKO Metagross with Flare Blitz. He led with Tapu Lele and Arcanine. Correctly predicting a Pelipper Protect, he switched out for Alolan Ninetails to remove the rain and OHKOed my Metagross. I brought in Gyarados to Initimidate the Arcanine and fish for the Ninetails Freeze Dry.
      Pelipper set up Tailwind and Gyarados Protected against the Freeze Dry from Ninetails, and since he switched out Arcanine immediately, I guessed that he was Choice Banded. I double targeted the Ninetails and ended up trading Gyarados to Tapu Lele's Thunderbolt. After this, I misplayed, believing that he would Shadow Ball my Tapu Lele and I traded Pelipper for Arcanine. Left in a 2v1 situation, I lost game 1 after he stalled out the Tailwind with Protect. Of note is that the Garchomp was running Groundium Z and that the Tapu Lele appeared to be Specs due to the Thunderbolt spam.
      Game 2:
      I led with Metagross and Porygon2, holding Tapu Lele and Pelipper in the back as my tools to deal with Ninetails and Garchomp. He led with Alolan Ninetails and Milotic, read for double Blizzard spam. I went for the Meteor Mash in case he switched Tapu Lele into one of the slots, but ended up getting frozen by his Milotic's Blizzard. My Porygon2 Thunderbolted the Ninetails slot and did about 25%. I switched in Pelipper and he predicted it, Wild Charging the Metagross slot, but my Porygon2 got a lucky (and necessary) crit Thunderbolt on Arcanine, KOing it. We brought in Metagross and Ninetails respectively.
      Metagross luckily thawed and OHKOed the non-Sashed Ninetails with a Meteor Mash through the Aurora Veil. Milotic switched out for Garchomp, correctly predicting a Thunderbolt. He then switched Milotic back in.
      Full knowing that he would attempt to OHKO my Metagross with Tectonic Rage, I went for Bullet Punch, with my Porygon2 taking Blizzard damage and OKing with Ice Beam. I switched in Tapu Lele, and after some double freeze shenanigans and TBolt Parahax on his Milotic, I won Game 2.
      Game 3:
      I led with Metagross and Porygon2 while he led with Arcanine and Ninetails. I switched Pelipper into Porygon2's slot and tanked a Moonblast and close combat, leaving it with 50% HP after Sitrus Berry recovery. Metagross KOed Ninetails with Meteor Mash. He brought in Sandslash.
      Turn 2, he switched out Arcanine (banded????) for Tapu Lele and Protected with Sandslash. Pelipper's Scald and Metagross's Earthquake did about 85% combined damage to the Tapu Lele. I protected Pelipper from Icicle Clash and Earthquaked to get the KO on Tapu Lele. He brought Arcanine back in. I let him Flare Blitz my Metagross and set up Tailwind, tanking a Life Orb boosted Icicle Clash from Sandslash. I brought in Tapu Lele, with the Tailwind, Rain, and Psychic Terrain up, it was an easy finish with Scald and Psychic on Arcanine and Sandslash respectively.
      Swiss: Round 3 - vs. Adam Nguyen
      Team: Torkoal, Lilligant, Tapu Bulu, Gyarados, Oranguru, Alolan Persian
      Since the Win-Condition of his team was getting sun up, I absolutely needed Pelipper for this match. Since Torkoal underspeeds Pelipper, the only time I would be able to send it out at the same time as Torkoal and get Rain would be under Trick Room.
      Game 1:
      I led with Gyarados and Garchomp, as the combination of Earthquake and Stone Edge can KO Torkoal. Adam led with Lilligant and Torkoal, switching Torkoal out for Gyarados. Garchomp was sleep powdered by Lilligant and my Gyarados' Ice Fang Subzero Slammer just barely missed the KO / Focus Sash of Lilligant.
      I switched Pelipper into Garchomp's slot and my Gyarados was put to sleep by Lilligant. The opposing Gyarados Dragon Danced.
      The opposing Gyarados' Ice Fang did 50% to my Gyarados and I set up Tailwind as the Torkoal returned in Lilligant's slot.
      My Gyarados woke up, and with a double-target Stone Edge and Scald, Torkoal dropped to 15% HP. Gyarados survived the opposing Gyarados Ice Fang with 20 HP before being KOed by Heat Wave. I brought in Tapu Lele.
      He Protect stalled and then swapped out Gyarados for Tapu Bulu, sacrificing Torkoal to finish out my Tailwind turns. He brought in Lilligant for the final turn of Sun and I returned the favour, double-Protect stalling the weather.
      I switched Garchomp into Tapu Lele's slot to take the Wood Hammer and deal damage to the Tapu Bulu as my Pelipper was put to sleep while trying to get Tailwind back up. He switched in Gyarados and I got two wakes and protects off.
      Now without the sun, Garchomp outsped and KOed Lilligant, was KOed in return by Gyarados, and Pelipper set up Tailwind again. I hit a 70% Hurricane to KO the Tapu Bulu, with Tapu Lele threatening the OHKO with Thunderbolt for the win.
      There was definitely an element of luck with the 1-turn sleep status on both Pelipper and Garchomp, as well as the Hurricane KO on Tapu Bulu on the last turn. Playing around the Torkoal and weather timers was the key to this particular game.
      Game 2:
      Running Alolan-Persian and Oranguru instead of Gyarados and Lilligant, he was able to Fake me out (both literally and figuratively) to set up his win condition of Trick Room and Sun. Despite having two Fire-resistant Pokemon in Gyarados and Pelipper, he was able to make short work of most of my HP bars without even needing to bring Tapu Bulu. A series of monumental misplays in the first 2 turns to allow him to get Trick Room off and U-Turn into Torkoal for free.
      Game 3:
      This time, I led with Gyarados and Porygon2 because I knew that Porygon2 could tank several Sun-boosted Heat Waves and would be able to deal a least a bit of damage to Tapu Bulu. Hilariously enough, I called that Thunderbolt would paralyze Tapu Bulu under Trick Room when it switched in (read: unlucky). When Torkoal came in, I sacced my Pelipper to get rain up to allow Porygon2 to survive the incoming Eruption and to take the unexpected Contintental Crush from Tapu Bulu. With the turn 1 Special Attack boost from Download, it was able to 3HKO Tapu Bulu with chip Thunderbolt damage, 2 Ice Beams, and Wood Hammer recoil after being Snarled twice. During the endgame, I was able to get Tapu Lele out in front of Torkoal without Trick Room being up or Oranguru being on the field, allowing Tapu Lele to KO the Trick Room setter on switch, and then KO Torkoal and Persian at -1 Special Attack with Psychic and Moonblast.
       
      Swiss: Round 4 - vs. Mitch Dermentzis 
      Team: Celesteela, Snorlax, Aerodactyl, Gyarados, Clefable, Marowak
      Game 1:
      I brought Tapu Lele, Garchomp, Metagross, and Pelipper. He brought Aerodactyl, Celesteela, Gyarados and Snorlax for all 3 games. Aerodactyl was dealt with using Garchomp's Rock Slide, and Gyarados was chipped by Rock Slide while attempting to get Dragon Dance off. Celesteela got the double Leech Seed setup and also was able to OHKO my Tapu Lele. Once Garchomp was KOed, the remaining Pokemon essentially had no way of KOing Celesteela and Snorlax, the final Pokemon remaining on my opponent's team.
      Game 2:
      I brought Porygon2 and Gyarados instead of Tapu Lele and Metagross, as Metagross had absolutely no way of dealing with Celesteela. By playing around the Celesteela Leech Seed (i.e. switching out Leech Seeded pokemon at the appropriate time) I was able to stop the bleeding and was able to wallbreak the Celesteela using Rain-boosted Gyarados Waterfall and Pelipper Scald. The opposing Snorlax was able to Parahax 3/4 of my Pokemon, but I was able to KO everything else and whittle down the Snorlax for the win.
      Game 3:
      Same story as game 2. I was helped out a lot by Thunderbolt Parahax from Porygon2 on Celesteela. It took a lot of resources to KO Celesteela, to the point where I was essentially ignoring the Snorlax sustained Body Slam damage and parahax to deal with it.
      Top Cut: Round 1 - vs. Sam Partin
      Team: Pyukumuku, Nihilego, Alolan-Persian, Alolan-Marowak, Tapu Bulu, Gyarados
      Nihilego has a huge advantage against my team, being able to OHKO Tapu Lele with Sludge Bomb and Pelipper + Gyarados with Thunderbolt. Garchomp and Metagross would be able to deal with Nihilego with Earthquake and Steel-type STAB respectively, but Tapu Lele's Psychic Terrain would put a hindrance on Metagross' Bullet Punch which would inevitably be required to deal with the Focus Sashed Nihilego.
      Game 1:
      I brought Garchomp, Pelipper, Tapu Lele, and Gyarados. He brought Nihilego, Alolan-Persian, Tapu Bulu, and Alolan-Marowak. The scarfed Tapu Bulu was both surprising and absurdly strong, knocking Garchomp down to Focus Sash after being -1 from Intimidate. It was taken down by 100% accurate Hurricane from Pelipper, and Nihilego was unable to threaten my team due to Pelipper being able to get Tailwind up and outspeed for the KO after Rock Slide chip damage.
      Game 2:
      Bringing Garchomp, Pelipper, Metagross, and Tapu Lele, while he brought Alolan-Persian, Nihilego, Tapu Bulu, and Gyarados. In hind sight, bringin Tapu Lele was a huge mistake as it was essentially useless due to the threat of OHKO from Nihilego, and on the last turn of the game, the forced deploy from being down to 2 Pokemon rendered Metagross unable to Bullet Punch for the KO after knocking Nihilego down to Focus Sash teh turn earlier.
      Game 3:
      I replaced Tapu Lele with Gyarados, as despite the Thunderbolt weakness, it would be able to surprise nuke the Tapu Bulu with Ice Fang Subzero Slammer (not yet revealed in the match). On turn 2, I made a crucial mistake, switching out Garchomp, which hadn't Protected the turn earlier, into Metagross when both Scarf Tapu Bulu and Foul Play Alolan Persian (does 90% damage) were on the field. Metagross was double targeted and KOed, while Gyarados got the retaliatory KO on Tapu Bulu. Later in the game, since I had sacced Metagross for free (and then brought Garchomp back in the turn immediately after to spam Rock Slide), I couldn't deal with the Nihilego which had been chipped with a Bullet Punch OHKO.
      Closing Remarks
      Overall, I think I did very well for a team that, while playing my matches, I felt barely had enough tools to deal with the diverse threats that I played. There were quite a few turns where I knew that I had to make good predictions to come out ahead, and those gambles worked out in all but the final 2 games of Top Cut Round 1. I did make some mistakes in the earlier rounds (accidentally clicking Recover on Porygon2 thinking it was a Protect for some reason), but I wasn't punished with 2 game losses until the crucial team selection choice and Metagross switch into a known lethal double-target combination of Scarf Tapu Bulu and Foul Play. The fact that all but my first round match went to Game 3 points at how close the games were to tipping in either direction.
      With regards to the team, aside from the mistakes I made in the Speed tier of Tapu Lele and Gyarados, I felt like the movesets and Pokemon choices worked well in concert. While I never ended up using Porygon2's Shadow Ball, that was due to the lack of Tapu Lele / Metagross / Alolan-Marowak matchups that I wanted to use Porygon2 in. Trick Room instead of Recover or Shadow Ball may be a useful tech for dealing with Trick Room teams like Adam's Oranguru + Torkoal lead.
      Meta Predictions
      Celesteela - Basically a brick wall that can run whatever random coverage you want. I only played the most annoying Leech Seed variant, but even that was enough of a threat from its typing and defensive investment that I had to rely on Rain-boosted STAB damage from 4x Electric weak pokemon, something that pairing with Nihilego, Tapu Koko, or Tapu Lele would be enough to flat out win against my team.
      Tapu Bulu - Scarf is a menace. 2HKOs my Metagross and Porygon2, OHKOs everything else with Grassy Terrain boosted Wood Hammer.
      Nihilego - If you can keep it off of your slower threats long enough to get Tailwind up, or abuse its weakness to Earthquake, spread damage, and Bullet Punch, it can be manageable, but it really depends on how many Pokemon you have that can survive its attacks. Garchomp and Metagross can both deal with it handily, but you need to watch out for Foul Play support and Tapu Bulu.
      Tapu Lele - The Psychic Terrain can honestly hinder you in certain matchups. I would say that you almost never want to bring it against a team with Nihilego if your primary method of checking it is Metagross, dependent on Bullet Punch to safely KO it.
      Garchomp - Deals with so many things with its generally strong Physical damage. Needs to watch out for all of the Tapus and Ninetails, but those problems are well worth its value in the other matchups.
      Pelipper - Hard to use well, but if your opponent underestimates it for a single turn, it can turn the match with a well timed Tailwind or Hurricane. 
    • By Stephen in SuperMoriokaWorld 0
      All paths lead to Europe as the Pokemon world is about to storm London for the first International Championship ever held. @Eshivgc joins the cast to help @Stephen and @Lexiconput the pieces together so early in the Alola Pokedex format. Due to its significance, we pretty much discuss the heavily stacked International the entire time. The first major event of the season is finally here, so get ready for some extremely exciting action!
      Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qn7PwcFGa4
      Downloadable version: http://thehypervoice.podbean.com/
      Note about this episode:  We talked about the commentators a little bit and I misspoke about Sebastian Ernst. I said he was new to commentary but that is not correct. He has cast multiple National events in the past, so sorry for the confusion!
      The Hyper Voice is also available on Itunes!
      00:00 Last Fall Regional 02:55 Stream Team 05:52 Overall Time & Sudden Death 14:10 Early Metagame 32:42 Players 43:58 Questions about the International 51:10 Game Growth 54:41 The next Pachirisu? Please feel free to leave any feedback and/or questions you may have for the next show.
      Want to send feedback or a question more anonymously? Email the show: vgchypervoice@gmail.com
    • By Temple in Nimbasa City Post 0
      Welcome back to another article where the goal is talk about Support Moves in the VGC 2017 format. Today, we'll be talking about Trick Room. Trick Room is a very strong move and can even be built around a team as an archetype. Hope you enjoy and let's begin.
      Read more here
    • By Dietrich in Zapdos hideout 12
      Hi guys, we are finally back and the long wait for Pokemon Sun and Moon competitive battles is over, yesterday (Sat 12-3-16) we had our first premier challege of this new season here in Lima, Peru. We had a lot of new players and that´s something that I really like when a new generation of pokemon comes in because is the perfect chance for new players to play and gain experience so that they can join the other veterans from the past vgc2016 season.
      Ok let´s see what we have here, this is in order to help the global pokemon community since we are all starting from 0 and we need some fresh ideas.
      It was a Premier challege of 34 participants. (3 Senior and 31 Masters)
       
      1st Place: Jorge Bravo
       

       
       
      2nd Place: Diego Paredes
       

       
       
      3rd Place: Renzo Navarro

       
      4th Place: Eduardo Diaz

       
      5th Place: Sebastian Rodriguez

       
      6th Place: Brando Medina

       
      7th Place: Diego Loayza

       
      8th Place: Carlos Daniel Ventura

       
       
      Well, this is all guys, I hope you enjoyed this post, see you next time. Alola!
       
       
       
    • By nerd of now in VGC Through a Nerd's Specs 1
      Guess who's back writing about their mediocre performance at a Regional!
      For those of you who don't know me, I'm Alex Collins. I'm a VGC player from Michigan. I've been playing Pokemon since the days of the GBA Pokemon Sapphire. I've been watching VGC since 2012 and have been wanting to play ever since seeing Aaron Zheng's Worlds 2013 Top 4 match, but didn't start getting really involved until the 2016 season started. My results haven't been that good over this past year, but I'm happy with them. I do pretty well at PCs, finished 2nd at a few MSSs, and earlier in May, I finished in Top 32 at Madison Regionals.
      Anyways, Fort Wayne. I remember leaving the Grand Wayne Convention Center last year with a 93rd out of over 250 players. It was my first Regional, so I wasn't too upset, but I did want to do better. And going from 93rd place to 14th in the course of a year feels so good. So here's the team I used! I'm not good with transitions!
      Team-Building Process

      This team was a mash between Riley Factura's winning Regionals team and Ian McLaughlin's winning Regionals team. And by mash, I mean I added Disable to Gengar. I got second at a PC with it, but I wasn't too happy with how it played. It felt a little too reliant on Gengar and/or Whimsicott.

      Next I tried Ruhel Miah's Top Battle Spot team. I did like Salamence's Dragon and Flying coverage, but it didn't hit hard enough for my liking. I also didn't think that Groudon's coverage wasn't necessary.

      Rayquaza was able to hit harder than Salamence, Ferrothorn Was able to stick around longer than Bronzong, and Thundurus was another form of speed control. However, I didn't like having double Megas when one is a restricted and I needed a bulkier Tailwinder. Also, Ferrothorn was a pretty big threat. I was stuck on how to fix both of these, then Drew Nowak asked to help test his team. He was running a Togekiss, and I just had to try it out, but I still needed a Fake Outer that can take care of Ferrothorn better than Kangaskhan. Then I remembered that Infernape existed, and I finished with this team:

      The Team

      Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb
      Ability: Primordial Sea
      EVs: 108 HP / 84 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 236 Spe
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk
      - Water Spout
      - Origin Pulse
      - Ice Beam
      - Protect
      Ah yes, the only Pokemon on this team with spread moves, which is why it has both Origin Pulse and Water Spout. The HP and Defense EVs here make it have a favorable chance for living a LO Rayquaza Dragon Ascent and Max Attack Sassy Ferrothorn Power Whip, the Special Attack allows a full HP Water Spout to OHKO no bulk Kangaskhan, and the Speed EVs outspeed Smeargle and allow me to confirm an opposing Groudon's speed. I don't really have much else to say about Kyogre, because everything else that I can say about Kyogre has already been said by literally everyone else.

      Rayquaza-Mega @ Life Orb
      Ability: Delta Stream
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Draco Meteor
      - Dragon Ascent
      - Extreme Speed
      - Protect
      It was a really tough decision on whether I went with DP or RayOgre, but I'm so glad that I chose RayOgre. I was initially thinking about using Swords Dance + Sash, but I wasn't a fan of taking a turn to set up, especially when it can be easily negated, so I went with Life Orb. This Rayquaza is an absolute beast on the field. With a Life Orb, anything that doesn't get KO'd by a Dragon Ascent will get KO'd by a Dragon Ascent + Extreme Speed, and anything that isn't KO'd by that will get KO'd by Draco Meteor + Extreme Speed, and anything that isn't KO'd by that is a Bronzong.

      Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
      Ability: Iron Barbs
      EVs: 252 HP / 228 Atk / 28 SpD
      Sassy Nature
      IVs: 0 Spe
      - Power Whip
      - Gyro Ball
      - Leech Seed
      - Protect
      This is the same spread I ran at Madison Regionals. I decided to run it again because it ties the team together quite nicely. Also it completely shuts down XernOgre, which most of this team hates. I love using this thing.

      Infernape @ Focus Sash
      Ability: Blaze
      EVs: 228 Atk / 28 SpA / 252 Spe
      Naive Nature
      - Fake Out
      - Overheat
      - Close Combat
      - Feint
      Infernape was a bit of a tough choice. Rayquaza is holding a Life Orb, so Infernape can't hit as hard as I'd like it to. Luckily, it doesn't really need to hit that hard, because it does enough damage to the Mons this team is weak to and it really doesn't need to do anything else. Plus, with a Sash, Infernape can stay around longer and I can conserve the Fake Out. The EVs are for a favorable roll to KO a Bronzong with 2 Overheats.

      Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Prankster
      EVs: 252 HP / 56 Def / 8 SpA / 20 SpD / 172 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
      - Thunderbolt
      - Hidden Power [Water]
      - Protect
      - Thunder Wave
      I wanted a Mon that wasn't Rayquaza to be able to deal over 50% to both Primals, as well as being able to use Thunder Wave one last time before the SuMo nerf. The spread gives Thundurus a favorable roll to survive a Fire Punch from Adamant Groudon, always survives Kangaskhan Double-Edge, outspeeds max speed base 100s, always survives my Kyogre's Origin Pulse (which is overkill since people tended to invest even less Sp. Atk than that), and deals some nice damage to Yveltal, Kangaskhan, and Salamence in addition to Kyogre and Groudon.

      Togekiss @ Rocky Helmet
      Ability: Serene Grace
      EVs: 252 HP / 196 Def / 60 SpD
      Sassy Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 18 Spe
      - Follow Me
      - Air Slash
      - Tailwind
      - Magic Coat
      Togekiss was a pretty cool Mon to run, and I have to give Drew Nowak full credit for this one. With a Sassy nature and 18 Speed IVs, Togekiss hits 84 Speed, which is right below min speed Primals, meaning that Togekiss can pick up KOs onto them in Trick Room or set up Tailwind on the last turn of Trick Room. In addition to TR, this also allows Togekiss to outspeed Kangaskhan in Tailwind and paralyzed Geomancy'd Xerneas outside of Tailwind by one point. Magic Coat was a tough call. I needed something else in case of Scarf Smeargle, and it was either Magic Coat on Togekiss or Taunt on Thundurus, and I decided that, because Thundurus has a Sitrus Berry, Togekiss gets Magic Coat so Thudurus can use Protect. Rocky Helmet's there because it takes a good chunk of a Mon's health, especially Kangaskhan, since so many ran Double-Edge. I really can't remember what the EVs do, but I think it's just there to take hits as best as possible.
       
      Yeah Okay Let's Just Go Over the Matches
      Round 1: Bryan Burnette

      Game 1 was a bit rough. It came down to Manectric and Ferrothorn with less than 1:30 left on the clock. Manectric didn't have Overheat, so it couldn't OHKO Ferrothorn, and I could just Power Whip and win from timer. Unfortunately, he went for Thunder, it critted and paralyzed, and Ferrothorn became fully paralyzed, all of which did matter. Luckily, Games 2 and 3 were for the most part haxless. Can't remember a thing about 2, but all I remember about 3 is that it came down to a read that I incorrectly called, leading to a Round 1 loss. I was not feeling good after taking that loss, especially considering the small but skilled attendance.
      Loss 1-2
      Currently 0-1
      Round 2: Robert Moore (rakomwolvesbane)

      His Yveltal had AV, Snarl, and Oblivion Wing, which made it very difficult to KO, especially when Kyogre's on the field Origin Pulsing away at all of my Mons. We had a clean Game 1 where I just outplayed him at a few more crucial moments than when he outplayed me. Game 2, if I recall correctly, came down to an important full paralysis on his Yveltal, and I just swept from there with Kyogre. You may have seen Robert from Liberty Garden's first VGC 17 PC in the Top 8. He's a pretty cool guy and you can find him here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/rakomwolvesbane
      Win 2-0
      Currently 1-1
      Round 3: Zachary Miller

      Zachary ran a very interesting Big 6 variant. He had Trick Room Gengar, Life Orb Scrafty iirc, and and an unusually slow Kangaskhan. Game 1 was... something. There were two crucial crits that he got, and I also lead Ferrothorn into his LO Scrafty, so... yeah... Games 2 and 3 were pretty easy sweeps though, with the knowledge from the first game. Also I would like to say sorry to Zachary for acting a bit sour this round, he was a good sport about everything and that's something nice to see.
      Win 2-1
      Currently 2-1
      Round 4: Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario)

      Oh man, this was a big match for me. I've never really played Ashton before this, but I've seen how he plays and heard the horror stories, so I was really nervous about going up against him. I did have a bit of an advantage, however, because I knew most of his team and what it does. Game 1 became an information game for him, so I could just focus on getting the KOs and seeing what his Mons could live. Game 2 had more mindgames, like trying to predict when Gardevoir goes for Trick Room and when Crobat goes for Tailwind, when Groudon Pblades and Kyogre Spouts. In the end, it came down to two important Pblades misses and a surprise OHKO with Gyro Ball on Gardevoir. I was definitely glad that I won, but it was a bittersweet victory, because it would mean that Ashton's curse of getting beyond Top 4 was very likely to stay with him for another Regional.
      Win 2-0
      Currently 3-1
      Round 5: Jeremy Gross (JZGVGC)

      I was still recovering from battling Ashton only to find out that I was battling Jeremy next! Man. It's awesome seeing all of these people in person, but I was just so nervous. I did calm down a bit when I saw his team, however, because, as you can see at the beginning of the team-building process, I've used these six before. Then we got into Game 1 and his Gengar went for Icy Wind Turn 1. I did not run Icy Wind. I lead Rayquaza. This is not good. Oh dear. I ended up winning Games 1 and 2 from I believe a crucial Origin Pulse miss both games. Great to meet Jeremy in person, he almost left Ft. Wayne but luckily stayed for the last two rounds. I'll just leave his Twitter here: https://twitter.com/JZGVGC
      Win 2-0
      Currently 4-1
      Round 6: Alex Godlewski (Someone)

      This was Alex's first time at the top table, and he said that he was worried about going up against me. Game 1 revealed the Life Orb and Ice Punch on Weavile, which OHKO'd Thundurus Turn 1. I believe I managed to slip out with a crit. I got into a position Game 2 to cleanly sweep with Rayquaza at first and Kyogre towards the end. I've seen him around Twitter before so it was nice to put a face to the name. Here's his Twitter: https://twitter.com/what_names
      Win 2-0
      Currently 4-1
      Round 7: Daniel Thorpe (TTT444)

      Yeah, Daniel is really good at playing Mons. We actually had a practice battle for a different event a while back, and he used this exact same team. Lucky of him, I didn't remember a gosh darn thing about his team. And to be honest, I'm happy with the outcome of this battle. All three games, it was just us, going prediction after prediction against each other, trying to find a way to get ahead and win the battle. In the end, I screw up towards the end of Game 3, Daniel catches it, and he went on to Top Cut. And while it was unfortunate that I couldn't go to Top Cut, this match was the best way I could think of ending VGC 2016: constant outplaying, predicting, with little to no hax involved. It was truly awesome. Daniel's another pretty neat guy that you can find here on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TTTripleThreat4
      Loss 2-1
      Ended 5-2; 14th out of 100+
       
      Concluding Thoughts
      While finishing 14th out of slightly over 100 players doesn't sound too hard to accomplish, this was one of those tournaments that was packed with skilled players, which makes it quite a bit harder. Well, at least for me. Starting with a Round 1 loss was very hard on me, and after that round I was questioning whether or not I'd be able to get CP. I wasn't expecting to get the winning streak I did get, but I'm happy that I did. I don't regret anything I ran on this team, even Magic Coat on Togekiss, which didn't meet a single Smeargle all day.
      I had an absolute blast at Ft. Wayne outside of competition. I got to see a lot of people who I've met online face-to-face for the first time, and got to see friends that I haven't seen in a long time. It's easy to forget how truly great this community is and how lucky I am to be a part of it when I don't interact with players face-to-face that much. Everyone's so awesome and it just makes me excited for upcoming events! 
      I want to give a big thanks to @Nowakgolf, @Velocity, @Eshivgc, @Temple, @Size, @Nails, @linkyoshimario, @JZG, @TTT, @AbruptFury, and anyone else that I'm missing for everything, whether that be for taking time away from their lives to get me Mons at the last minute because I don't think much about the time required to get a fully functional team ready, supporting me as I went along throughout the day, or just for being cool and hanging out between rounds. I'd also like to thank my parents for taking me to these events because I can't drive, my grandparents for being and remaining very supportive, and the laptop I've been typing this on for not crashing and totally ruining everything for the past week. I'll see everyone at St. Louis! Hopefully! I'm still not 100% sure if I'm going or not! I'm like 80% sure!
    • By MrGX in GX's PokeBlog 1
      Hello, Nugget Bridge! Its been a few days since Sun and Moon has came out, and with it, a whole new set of rules and mechanics, as well as additional forms of Speed control! VGC 2017 will be unlike anything we have seen before. Which form of Speed control will dominate?

      Introduction
      With VGC '17 starting in a few days ahead, we have even less time to pick our Pokemon, make a team, add in a Speed control, and finalize it. Fear not, for this guide will help you decide on the form of Speed control you prefer to use in your team. New forms of Speed control are revealed, and while they may be intimidating at first, constant practice and research reduces them to just another game mechanic you will get used to in no time. Sadly, VGC '17 restricts us from using the National Dex, taking away popular Pokemon like Cresselia and Suicune, forcing us to improvise with newer Pokemon introduced in Sun and Moon. Without further ado, let's get on with it:
             
      Different Types of Speed Control in VGC '17
      In this section, we will be talking about the wide variety of Speed control available to use in VGC '17. Ranging from the ever popular Paralysis to the newer Electric Terrain, this part will cover, this part will cover all the forms of Speed control available to the players.
        
      Paralysis (Nuzzle/Thunder Wave/Glare)
      Since its creation, Paralysis has always been one of the most dominating forms of Speed control in Pokemon history. What does it do? It's a status condition that reduces the Speed of the afflicted Pokemon by 75%, or so it did. But thankfully, the Alolan Regional Dex doesn't included the dreaded Thundurus-I, one of the most popular Pokemon used to induce Paralysis. What's more? Gamefreak decided to nerf Paralysis, by reducing the speed drop from 75% to just 50%, allowing us to use Tailwind and have our Pokemon regain their speed. But that doesn't make it unusable, as we still have plenty of good status inducers like Raichu, Gyarados etc. What makes Paralysis better than Tailwind is it is a status condition, and once afflicted, it stays forever until you cure it with Refresh or Purify. There are few good inducers which will be covered below:
      Porygon2 serves as a Cresselia replacement in this format, able to use both Thunder Wave and Trick Room, though the former is a bit uncommon. This can catch your opponent off-guard, and inflict Paralysis, making your opponent much slower. With Eviolite, Porygon2 becomes the bulkiest Pokemon on the field, with access to Recover, helping it to stay on the field and disrupt your opponents. While this prevents Porygon2 from running any other items, making it vulnerable to Taunt and sleep, this enures your Pokemon survives at least one super effective hit before paralyzing your opponent, after which it can proceed to Recover and heal itself. Porygon2 is best used in bulky teams that rely on type advantages rather than setup opportunities.
      Raichu has always been a favorite for Nuzzle paralyzing, as it's fast, and has access to lots of support moves in the form if Feint and Fake Out. Alolan-Raichu is no different. You can use Fake Out to set up your own Tailwind, or go for Nuzzle, giving you lots of option to run this rodent. You can use Feint to go through their defenses once you have a Speed control established. This makes Raichu an ideal Pokemon in many teams. Rodents like the new Togedemaru also serves similar purposes, although with a different typing. Raichu is commonly used in fast teams that can benefit from its Fake Out support to set up, or as a Celesteela counter, the latter which has been rising in usage.
      The above Pokemon can inflict Paralysis successfully, thanks to their bulk and high Speed. To make things better, Prankster Taunt is nearly non-existent. Unlike the past formats, Paralyzed opponents cannot find a safe haven in Trick Room, and the lack of Prankster question's the status's place in the VGC '17 metagame.
        
      Tailwind as a Form of Speed Control
      Like previous formats, Tailwind find a spot in the VGC '17 metagame. Tailwind increases your team's Speed for four turns, including the turn you set it. This can be used to counter the effects of Paralysis, or to set up and sweep with your powerful attackers. Though we lack popular setters like Suicune/Zapdos, we still have access to some good options like Talonflame, Whimsicott and Pelipper. Thankfully, Tailwind haven't got any nerfs, but the lack of bulky setters may make it difficult picking the right Pokemon for your team. We have some new setters like Toucannon and Oricorio but sadly, they got little to no bulk or speed, and provides little utility. While Tailwind may be better choice than inflicting Paralysis onto each of your opponent's Pokemon, it only lasts for four turns, after which you need to use it again (though this is unlikely in VGC).
      Some good setters in VGC '17 are Pelipper, Talonflame, Oricorio and Whimsicott. Pelipper finds itself viable, thanks to the amazing buffs it got in the form of base stat boosts and the rare ability Drizzle. This makes Pelipper a really interesting Pokemon, allowing it to hurt a lot of foes with Hurricane and Scald, while using Wide Guards to block incoming Rock Slides, forming a perfect synergy with Lightning Rod users such as Alolan-Marowak. It can set up Tailwind to boost its ally's Speed giving you the opportunity to set up a fast sweep. Drizzle can protect your Grass-types from powerful fire attacks like Flare Blitz, which makes this Pokemon viable in many teams, when you are in need of a Water-type. Pelipper is best used with a Lightning Rod user, preferably Alolan-Marowak, but Togedemaru can also work to hurt Steel-types like Celesteela that walls Pelipper.
      Oricorio, a new bird Pokemon introduced in Sun and Moon, comes in four different types, and is also capable of learning Tailwind. This Pokemon is popular in Quiver Dance teams, most commonly seen with Ridombee. Dancer scares off people from using Dance moves like Dragon Dance and Quiver Dance, allowing you to passively shut down any set up attempts. It can also Baton Pass any stolen boosts with Dancer, passing them off to more viable Pokemon. Its various typing allows you to slap it on many teams, giving you great coverage as well as a form of Speed control.
      Talonflame and Whimsicott, the VGC 16 Tailwind duo, makes a return to Alola. With all the new Ultra Beasts and Legendary Pokemon, they struggle to find a place in the early metagame, due to their frailty. Psychic Terrain blocks Prankster Status from Whimsicott, while Xurkitree and Tapu Koko demolishes Talonflame, thanks to the latter's Gale Wings nerf. Once damaged, Talonflame is KOed almost instantly by Tapu Koko or other fast Pokemon, severely reducing its utility. 
      Tailwind is certainly a good form of Speed control, opposed only by Trick Room or by an opponent's Tailwind. One must carry precautions to shut down either of them through means of Sleep, Taunt or just raw power (Z-Moves). Pokemon like Oricorio, once allowed to set up, can sweep entire teams with ease, while Pokemon like Pelipper gives huge type advantage and coverage. As most Tailwind users are Flying-type and therefore susceptible to Electric-type attacks, it is wise to use a Lightning Rod user, or a redirector like Parasect or Clefairy. Like Trick Room, Tailwind too can be shut down easily with Taunt or fast offense, so Fake Out users are advised to help set up easily. In Trick Room, Tailwind can backfire harshly, and Paralysis can reduce your Speed back to its original state. Tailwind users are commonly Taunt baits, so beware when your opponent brings a Tapu Koko or some other Taunt user.
       
      Trick Room as a Form of Speed Control
      Trick Room has always been a popular form of Speed control, since it's introduction. Instead of increasing your Pokemon's Speed, Trick Room means slower Pokemon moves first, while the faster ones move last over five turns. It has won many World Championships, and serves as a versatile counter against the traditional forms of Speed control. Like past formats, Trick Room is rising in popularity since most of the new Pokemon are quite slow. Once set up, Trick Room allows your slower powerful Pokemon like Xurkitree and Buzzwole to move first and deal enormous damage before your opponent can react. With the introduction of Terrain setters like the Tapu's, Trick Room is hard to stop from being activated, thanks to the decreasing popularity of Fake Out and Spore. As usual, Trick Room users have to be bulky to tank hits, due to Trick Room having an abysmal Priority of -6. Alola introduced some potential setters that can work well in Trick Room, while older Pokemon like Porygon2 makes a return once again.
      Porygon2 is one of the best Trick Room setters in VGC '17, thanks to its bulk and typing. Once set up, it can use Recover and use Ice Beam and Thunderbolt to weaken the popular Garchomp and Celesteela. As it uses up Eviolite in its item slot, Porygon2 is susceptible to Taunt and sleep, against which certain precautions are advised. Fake Out users like Incineroar and Hariyama is popular thanks to their low Speed and huge offensive power. Terrain setters like Tapu Fini is also used to prevent your Porygon2 from being put to sleep. As one of the bulkiest Pokemon of the format, Porygon2 can safely take a super effective hit and set up Trick Room in the face of danger, though a redirector like Parasect is appreciated.
      Other setters include Oranguru and Mimikyu, who serves are decent setters thanks to their typing and base stats. Oranguru is extremely useful in Trick Room as it can use Instruct, ordering your attacker to attack twice in one turn, which can come in handy when you use spread attackers like Wishiwashi or Torkoal. With its Normal-type, Oranguru is immune to Alolan-Marowak's Shadow Bone, and takes neutral damage from Fighting-type thanks to its Psychic typing. Mimikyu is useful because of its unique ability Disguise, which essentially acts as an inbuilt Substitute. Unfortunately, it doesn't block status moves like Taunt and Spore.
      While Trick Room might be the most powerful form of Speed control available in VGC '17, it isn't unstoppable. Trick Room moves in Priority -7, the slowest move in the game. Setters can easily be phazed with Roar or Whirlwind, or can be Taunted to put to sleep. Unlike past formats, Paralysis no longer makes your Pokemon the fastest in Trick Room, considering your opponent has a Pokemon who is inherently slow. What makes Trick Room viable is the speed tier of various Pokemon. Pokemon like Torkoal won't fail to move first in Trick Room due to its little Speed. Common Pokemon like Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele becomes the slowest Pokemon in the game under Trick Room. This is one move that can literally turn the game around. In the right hands, Trick Room can almost always be set up, and can prove to be a devastating force.
      Semi-Trick Room
      While it is difficult to run Tailwind and Trick Room in the same team, Semi-Trick Room isn't entirely impossible. Pokemon like Torkoal and Gigalith can work both inside and outside Trick Room. A combination of Lilligant and Oranguru makes Torkoal a versatile user of this strategy, allowing it to move first both in and out of Trick Room. While it is easy to spot this play in Team preview, if you are not prepared, this core is more than capable of hurting most of the meta, similar to Primal Groudon in VGC '16. Gigalith, on the other hand appreciates giving its fellow Rock-type partner more bulk in the form of Sand Stream, while providing support in the form of Wide Guard. Semi-Trick Room remains an unexplored region in VGC '17, due to the lack of tutor moves, but the few strategies it opened up proved to be versatile, and may be dominant in the London International.
      Speed Boosting Abilities
      Speed boosting abilities like Chlorophyll and Swift Swim had always been used in VGC formats as they provide a solid form of Speed control right at the start of a battle. Sun and Moon gave previously non-viable Pokemon some amazing buffs in the form of weather inducing abilities such as Drought, Swift Swim, etc. They also introduced new Speed-boosting abilities like Slush Rush and Surge Surfer. Lets take a look.
              
      Chlorophyll/Swift Swim/Sand Rush/Slush Rush
      Mega Charizard Y and Venusaur was popular was back in VGC 15, and was a solid duo. Sadly, VGC '17 restricts us from using Mega Stones. They did give us something to make up for it though: Torkoal with the ability Drought. With its low Speed stat, Torkoal would be the fastest Pokemon in Trick Room, and has access to Eruption as well. As for a decent Chlorophyll user, we are stuck with Lilligant for the format. Lilligant is not without its uses, as it gets access to a variety of support moves like Sleep Powder, After You, Quiver Dance etc. Using fast After You in Sun enables Torkoal to launch Eruption fast, quickly KOing a lot of Pokemon. If left unchecked, this duo can sweep entire teams on its own. Lilligant's utility however, stops here. Grass-types are resisted by most dominant types in this format, and Pokemon like Nihilego can easily wall and KO this duo. This duo can easily break Hail teams, but loses to Rain teams and Tapu Fini rather easily.
      Drizzle makes a return in the form of Drizzle Pelipper, who also got some amazing buffs. With access to Hurricane, Tailwind and Wide Guard, Pelipper serves as a form of Speed control on its own, that can also KO a lot of Pokemon easily with 100% accuracy Hurricanes and Rain-boosted Scalds. While we lack good Swift Swim users like the popular Ludicolo, we do have access to Golduck and Poliwrath. Fast Goluck with Z-Crystal can deal quite some damage, while Pelipper can set up Tailwind to boost your Speed even further. But this makes your team vulnerable against Surge Surfer and Trick Room. The lack of bulk on the Pokemon makes it easy to KO them. As a result, Rain serves strictly as a utility weather this format, boosting the accuracy of moves like Thunder, and reducing Fire damage.
      We lost Tyranitar, but we got the next best thing. Sand Stream Gigalith. In a sandstorm, its Special Defense is multiplied by 1.5, making it an enormous tank in a Sandstorm. While we lack good Sand Rushers, we do have access to Lycanroc, who have an amazing Speed and Attack stat, and has access to Accelrock. Since both Gigalith and Lycanroc are pure Rock-type Pokemon, the duo is susceptible to Steel-types like Celesteela, and gets knocked out easily by Rain teams.  As a form of Speed control, Sand and Rain fails to make an impact this format.
      Like the previous three setters, we got a new Hail setter in Vanilluxe, though it remains underrated. However, Alolan-Ninetales gets Snow Warning as a hidden ability, making it one of the best Hail setter we have ever had. With its Ice and Fairy typing, and access to the new move Aurora Veil, Ninetales packs quite a punch in the metagame. With a base Speed stat of 109, it outspeeds Garchomp, and can spam Blizzards in Hail with 100% accuracy. What makes Hail even better is the introduction of the new ability, Slush Rush. Like Chlorophyll and Swift Swim, it doubles the Pokemon's Speed in a Hailstorm. Some of the Pokemon that has access to this ability are Beartic and Alolan-Sandslash. Beartic possesses enormous attack capabilities, and can be a threat in a Hailstorm. While he only gets one STAB in the form of Ice-type, with an attack enhancing item, it can deal quite some damage. Alolan-Sandslash, on the other hand, serves as a faster attacker. With access to Iron Head and Icicle Spear, Alolan-Sandslash can easily utilize the Speed provided by Slush Rush, and helps KO some of the most popular Pokemon in the format. While Hail team may look strong at first, it is not without its flaws. A well timed switch-in to a Drought user like Torkoal can shut down their offensive capabilities.  Pokemon like Celesteela can OHKO Ninetales with ease, and can stall out Sandslash with a combination of Protect and Leech Seed. Alolan-Marowak, on the other hand, resists all of their STAB moves, and can OHKO both of them with ease. While Hail may be one of the strongest weather in VGC '17, it is not unstoppable. However, in the hands of the right player, it can prove to be deadly.

      Surge Surfer
      The second Speed boosting ability Alola gave us: Surge Surfer. It doubles the Pokemon's Speed while Electric Terrain is active, and the only Pokemon that comes with this ability is Alolan-Raichu. Raichu makes a splendid duo with Tapu Koko, and can sweep teams quickly. 
      As it boosts Raichu's already powerful Speed stat, this can be used to counter Sun and Hail teams. Give Raichu a Z-Crystal, and it can use Shattered Psyche for a strong coverage with its STAB. A combination of Psychic and Dazzling Gleam can knock out a lot of the Pokemon in the metagame, like Alolan-Marowak, who otherwise threatens this duo. Like most forms of Speed control Surge Surfer Raichu also suffers against Trick Room, and should aim to KO their setter as soon as possible. Bulky Pokemon like Mudsdale can prove to be deadly, as it hurts both Tapu Koko and Raichu for super effective damage, while Grass-types like Tapu Bulu simply walls their STAB moves, and proceed to KO them with Wood Hammer.
      Conclusion
      Congratulations of you have made this far! You should be up to speed on the newer forms of Speed control and how to use them. While not all forms of Speed control may be viable in every team, the right mode can open the path to victory, weather it be Trick Room Torkoal, or Tailwind Pelipper. EV'ing your Pokemon to speed creep threats are an important part of the game as well, helping you hit certain benchmarks when you set up your Speed control. I hope this guide helped. Good Luck!
    • By DrFidget in The Lava Pool 0
      The time for VGC17 has come. Or is it gone? Sam, Toler, and Tiffany have 3 turns to figure it out. In doing say they also cover new cores, biggest early surprises, and what is the cutest new Pokemon.
      0:00:20 Intro
      0:03:40 VGC17 Rules
      0:05:30 Timer
      0:18:35 2016
      0:23:00 Smeargle in 17
      0:24:00 17 Teams
      0:34:50 Underachievers
      0:39:20 Silvally Colors
      0:42:00 Surprises
      0:44:47 London
      0:47:56 Corrections
      0:49:46 Questions
      0:55:50 Cutest Pokemon
      1:02:42 Outro
      If you need a direct link go here: http://drfidget.podbean.com/mf/web/sdmv9t/Don_t_Let_the_Sun_Go_Down_on_Me.mp3
      If you're new to the show you can subscribe on iTunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-lava-pool/id545201249?mt=2 
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      Or follow us on twitter @TheLavaPool to see when new episodes go up.

      HEY IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT ANYTHING PLEASE LEAVE THEM HERE.
      It really does help a ton keeping the show to be on topic if we get questions and topics ahead of time.
    • By squirrelboy1225 in VGC and Some Programming 1
      Now that the VGC 2017 format has been officially announced and is now in place I figured I'd make a post about this for those that somehow missed it.
      I've taken the calculator I worked on for ORAS and upgraded it for Sun/Moon, specifically the VGC format.
      It includes base stats, new mechanics, some passable early-meta sets, etc.
      http://jake-white.github.io/VGC-Damage-Calculator/

      As always, it's a work in progress and I'm constantly filling in new mechanics and things I missed.  I appreciate feedback!

      Follow me on Twitter @squirrelboyVGC!