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No Canadian Video Game National Championships in 2013

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Firestorm

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The Pokémon Company International has just updated the page for the autumn regionals taking place this weekend with slight adjustments to the prizes which reveal that plans for a Canadian National Championship have been scrapped.

Travel awards and byes are awarded to the winning player and are awarded to the U.S. National Championships. A Canadian player is therefore eligible to win a travel award to the U.S. National Championships, as there is no Video Game Nationals in Canada in 2013.

Unfortunately the Ontario Regional is this weekend so if you had plans to just attend the Canadian National Championships next summer, you're out of luck. This brings down the amount of Worlds Qualification events (including the LCQ) to 5 in 2013 instead of 10 in 2012 with Europe's system also changing. The Canadian TCG National Championships will still be in Toronto as scheduled. The silver lining to this news is that we shouldn't see a split in the playerbase when Nationals weekend rolls around. And hey, maybe we'll get a few more invites this time too?

Thanks Omega for the tip.


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    • No Simulator Required - 9th Place Winter Regionals Team Analysis
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      Ability: Intimidate
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      EVs: 28 HP / 76 Def / 252 SAtk / 132 SDef / 20 Spd
      Ability: Levitate
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      - Protect
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      Mr. O'Neal (Abomasnow) (F) @Focus Sash
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      Common Leads
      +
      Scrafty + Latios
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      +
      Scrafty + Amoonguss
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      +
      Scrafty + Abomasnow
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       +
      Scizor + Latios
      This lead is for when I need either immediate offensive pressure or a surefire chance of getting Tailwind up. This lead proved to work well against Benji's team, who said that it was a really great way to counter his Amoonguss / Terrakion lead (after the match of course). The lead also has good defensive synergy, as threats to Latios can be handled by Scizor, while threats to Scizor can be handled by Latios. Usually if I used this lead, I left out Scrafty in the back, a fact that was important when I battled Benji.
      Conclusion
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    • Alice Unchained: A 20th Place US Nationals Report
      By xGSx3ntr0py
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      The Team

      ShOot2DriLL (Excadrill) (M) @ Life Orb
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      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 172 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 76 Spe
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      EnTerSaNdMaN (Tyranitar) (M) @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Sand Stream
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
      Jolly Nature
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      ->
      LeArN2FLy (Salamence-Mega) (F) @ Salamencite
      Ability: Intimidate -> Aerilate
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 36 HP / 244 SpA / 228 Spe
      Timid Nature
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      - Hyper Voice
      - Protect
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      AliceNChains (Clefable) (F) @ Leftovers
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      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 244 HP / 164 Def / 28 SpA / 68 SpD / 4 Spe
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      - Protect
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      ♥ShapedBox (Rotom-Heat) @ Safety Goggles
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      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 116 SpA / 4 SpD / 132 Spe
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      - Thunder Wave
      - Protect
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      NoVeMbErRaiN (Azumarill) (F) @ Sitrus Berry
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      Common Leads

      If my opponents didn't appear to have any Pokémon that use spread moves (like Hyper Voice Sylveon), this lead was a safe option. I think everybody knows how dangerous +6 Aqua Jet spam can be.

      With the speed this lead possessed, I was able to apply immediate offensive pressure on my opponent. When I chose this lead I would typically bring Clefable and Salamence in the back with the intent of switching in-order to provide Follow Me and Intimidate support for Excadrill.

      If the opponents team preview did not contain Pokémon with Defiant/ Competitive abilities and/or contained mostly physical Pokémon this was a common lead that allowed Clefable to get off a few free minimize boosts.
      Tournament Summary
      I was very nervous prior to the start of the tournament because I could not get a rank higher than 1,500 on Pokémon Showdown, but I was running out of time and ideas. I decided to enter this team primarily because I had done well with sand in 2013.
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      Day 2 I played some more exceptional players. Chris Danzo (Lunar), James Ball (Pball0010) , James Baek (Jamespeed1), Demitrios Kaguras (Kingdjk), Paul Chua again, and  and Aaron Liebersbach (Arch).
      I finished day 2 with a record of  3-3 which put me at 20th place. I also used this team to place 2nd at my first PC of the 2016 season.  Overall I felt that the team did very well and it was definitely a lot of fun to play with.
      Special Thanks

      Johnathan Neville (TM Gold), Kyle Timbrook (TM Ruby), Erik Humfleet (TM Y3llow/Epoke28), Josh Meyers, and my brother Bryan Reed for spending countless hours throughout the season helping me practice and team build.
      Erik Humfleet (TM Y3llow/Epoke28) again for taking the time to breed my entire team shiny and EV train it for me. I probably would have ended up with a lot less cool, partially EVd team otherwise.
      My brother Bryan Reed again for attending all of the tournaments with me and offering words of encouragement.
      My girlfriend Tara for supporting this hobby, even when I missed Valentine's day to scrub out in Missouri.
      Astronautical for creating the awesome cover art! Check out Astronautical's art thread!
      The Pokémon community as a whole. There are so many cool people I have met while playing this game and it is always enjoyable to attend these tournaments. You guys rock!

       
    • When In Doubt, Punch It- A Seniors Top 8 US Nationals Report
      By Eekthegeek
      Good day everybody, I would assume most don't know who I am, but my name is Stefan Smigoc. I am 15 years old and this was my first and last year as a senior. Some of you may know me as Eekthegeek, the name of my YouTube channel, Twitter and Nugget Bridge account. I have been playing VGC for a few months and have only gotten the chance to compete in two live events, Seattle Regionals and U.S. Nationals where I finished top 16 and top 8 respectively. In this report I will share my team that I used at U.S. Nationals and how the experience went overall.
      The Team Building Process
      When I first started building this team I didn't take it too seriously. I started with the idea of building a team that allowed Kangaskhan to be able to destroy teams without being overly reliant on it. I first decided on building the perfect core around Kangaskhan.
        
      When I had originally built this core I thought it was perfect. Amoonguss can redirect Fighting-type moves away from Kangaskhan and disrupt foes with Spore. Then if people tried to Intimidate Kangaskhan to prevent it from picking up KOs, they had to risk dealing with a new bulky monster being Milotic.
           
      This ended up being the first draft of the team. While I had many changes before and after this team, I used this version of the team for the longest period of time not counting the finished product. I added Heatran, Sylveon and Hydreigon with the idea that I would have a complete Water, Grass, Fire core and a Steel, Fairy, Dragon core as well. I soon realized that type cores like this don't mean much at all. In the end I gave up on the team because I realized I struggle using Hydreigon, Sylveon and Heatran. My huge Fighting-type weakness also made me reliant on Amoonguss every match just to spam Rage Powder. The team did accomplish one important thing; all the Pokemon had decent bulk while still being able to OHKO other threats and I had only one physical attacker being Kangaskhan. I must have really been afraid of Intimidate or something because this was the most anti-Intimidate team I have ever used.
      The Final Team

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite***Imma punchu
      Ability: Inner Focus
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Protect
      - Power-Up Punch
      - Return
      - Sucker Punch
      At a glance most may think ugh what a boring standard meta game team. To that all I have to say is 'so what?' If it's boring beat me quickly and end your misery. Now Kangaskhan is very standard and so is the spread, but I have strong justification for why I did what I did. Let's start with the move Power-Up Punch as this swayed my opinion on the rest of the set. I had originally looked at Low Kick Kangaskhan but the damage was disappointing. After trying Power-Up Punch once I fell in love immediately! After one Power-Up Punch, a +2 Kangaskhan could OHKO just about anything. There have been multiple occasions where I simply lead Kangaskhan and Amoonguss and proceed to sweep by spamming Rage Powder and then just punching everything with Kangaskhan. Now one of the most interesting things about this Kangaskhan is the use of Protect over Fake Out. While Fake Out is huge for early momentum swings, it is a waste of a move slot thereafter as you cannot use it again until you retreat Kangaskhan and then send it out on subsequent occasions. With Power-Up Punch, I rarely wanted to switch out in the first place so Fake Out wouldn't be used often. Also, many people expected Fake Out and either used Protect in both slots or switched out, thus allowing me to get off free Power-Up Punches for more momentum than Fake Out could ever dream of. The Adamant nature is a pretty simple justification, I don't care about that bit of extra Speed for being Jolly and I didn't want to rely on Power-Up Punch all the time to ensure Kangaskhan hits hard. Lastly the simple decision of Return over Double-Edge was that I didn't miss out on to many KOs without Double-Edge and I wouldn't have to worry about knocking myself out. Oh yeah and if you noticed I had Inner Focus that was me being lazy and not getting a Scrappy Kangaskhan. It actually probably came in handy more because the Dream Ball that Kangaskhan was in meant people assumed it was Scrappy from the outset!

      Milotic @ Rocky Helmet***Bell
      Ability: Competitive
      EVs: 228 HP / 164 Def / 92 SpA / 12 SpD / 12 Spe
      Bold Nature
      - Scald
      - Icy Wind
      - Recover
      - Protect
      Oh Milotic, what a gentle majestic creature. Oh? What's this? You sent out your legendary Landorus-Therian and flying croissant? Well say hello to my competitive Dragon-slaying monster! Milotic is one of the most anti-meta game Pokemon I have ever seen! I fell in love after first use and next to Kangaskhan these two are the cutest, prettiest and most monstrous bad girls in the game. Yeah, I never thought I would say that about any Pokemon I used either! I used Milotic first off  for the sole purpose of scaring off opposing Intimidate users. I've ran so many different sets here that I still do not have a favorite. Regardless, when Milotic hit the field it made Salamence and Landorus-Therian hide behind their trainer until they were the last Pokemon left and were dragged out to their doom. I ended up choosing to use a bulky Milotic because my team had enough offense and the Choice Scarf was already used up. The move set is simple, Scald is a powerful STAB Water-type move with a chance to burn. Icy Wind provides Speed control. With a Competitive boost, it can OHKO Landorus-Therian and Salamence. Protect and Recover increase my staying power as Milotic's purpose was to sit on the field, limiting switch options for my opponent. Who knew switch control could be a thing. Here are some calcs for what the EV spread does:

      148+ SpA Ludicolo Giga Drain vs. 228 HP / 12 SpD Milotic: 84-98 (42.2 - 49.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
      252 SpA Life Orb Thundurus Thunderbolt vs. 228 HP / 12 SpD Milotic: 159-190 (79.8 - 95.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 228 HP / 164+ Def Milotic: 151-178 (75.8 - 89.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      +2 92 SpA Milotic Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 152-180 (88.8 - 105.2%) -- 31.3% chance to OHKO
      +2 92 SpA Milotic Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 164-196 (99.3 - 118.7%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO
      92 SpA Milotic Scald vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Heatran: 96-114 (57.4 - 68.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

      I never once missed the KO on Salamence and Landorus-T, usually Salamence had taken chip damage or recoil before I hit it or because it ended up being the end game and I had single target Icy Wind. The item choice of Rocky Helmet was me not really caring about the item with the more valuable Sitrus Berry and Choice Scarf option already in use. I hadn't thought about Maranga Berry until I saw Wolfe Glick use it at Nationals and I ended up realizing that would have been a great idea. Regardless Rocky Helmet was fun and extra chip can be big on Salamence if they are using Return instead of Double-Edge.

      Amoonguss @ Sitrus Berry***BestPixie
      Ability: Regenerator
      Level: 62
      EVs: 188 HP / 156 Def / 164 SpD
      Sassy Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
      - Rage Powder
      - Spore
      - Giga Drain
      - Protect
      Ugh this Mushroom thing... My least favorite Pokemon to go against but my favorite to use! The idea was simple, Rage Powder all the Fighting, Grass and Electric-type attacks away from Kangaskhan and Milotic and when I feel like spicing things up, throw some pixie dust to put my opponents to bed early. I am sure most of you have seen this thing in action and already know its purpose. Kangaskhan and Amoonguss are two of the most frustrating Pokemon to go against when ran right. Having Protect on Kangaskhan could allow for opportunities where I Protect and Spore getting me out of many sticky situations. With the Sitrus Berry equipped, along with Giga Drain and Regenerator, it is very hard to take out Amoonguss. Here are some calcs on what Amoonguss can live with this EV spread.

      252 SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 188 HP / 164+ SpD Amoonguss in Sun: 192-228 (90.1 - 107%) -- 37.5% chance to OHKO
      252 SpA Aerilate Mega Salamence Hyper Voice vs. 188 HP / 164+ SpD Amoonguss: 128-152 (60 - 71.3%) -- 90.6% chance to 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery
      252 SpA Mega Gardevoir Psyshock vs. 188 HP / 156 Def Amoonguss: 180-212 (84.5 - 99.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery (Psychic does 92% max)
      252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 188 HP / 156 Def Amoonguss: 180-214 (84.5 - 100.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery

      The one problem that I had to be careful of was Salamence could OHKO with Double Edge easily. This spread was given to me by a friend and I have no idea where they got it, but it is the spread I stick with because I have no reason to change it and it hasn't failed me.

      Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf***Sera
      Ability: Intimidate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Rock Slide
      - Superpower
      - Earthquake
      - U-turn
      Do I have to explain this this standard Landorus-T setup? All I wanted was a way to OHKO Charizard-Y and have a fast Rock Slide because why not. After Nationals I tested Choice Band Landorus-T on other teams and I have two things to say about it. It is much harder to use but it is way better if played right.

      Thundurus @ Life Orb***Zeus
      Ability: Prankster
      Level: 50
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Thunder Wave
      - Thunderbolt
      - Taunt
      - Hidden Power [ice]
      Now this may have been one of the biggest mistakes of my team. I debated bulky Thundurus for the longest time but I just could not find a spread that I liked. I ended up trying the fully offensive Life Orb set because it was another Charizard-Y counter and alongside Landorus-T I could either Earthquake or Rock Slide whilst using Thunderbolt to pick up lots of knockouts. Thundurus is really fast with base 111 Speed but running the offensive variant was hard because it tempted me to use Thunderbolt or Hidden Power Ice rather than the supporting moves of Taunt or Thunder Wave, unless there was an Amoonguss on the field which would be instantly taunted. Other then that there isn't much to say about Thundurus, I could have tried a bulky one but I never do well with bulky Thundurus.

      Entei @ Leftovers***MyBestie
      Ability: Pressure
      Level: 50
      EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 104 Def / 136 SpD / 20 Spe
      Impish Nature
      - Sacred Fire
      - Substitute
      - Snarl
      - Protect
      Oh Entei, my poor baby why didn't I use you more. At first I used Entei because I thought it would be cool but after testing and coming up with an EV spread I was impressed by what it could do! Entei was the least brought Pokemon on my team yet I believe it may have been the best. Almost every game I brought it to I won and it always put in the most work regardless of the outcome. When I looked at my previous five there was one big thing sticking out to me that I did not like, my team was boring. Pokemon is about having fun and Entei filled that emptiness on my team. Don't get me wrong, punching everything with Kangaskhan while Amoonguss throws its pixie dust is still fun, but Entei was the real MVP. Here are some calcs to give you a feel for the bulk.

      252 Atk Tyranitar Rock Slide vs. 244 HP / 104+ Def Entei: 92-110 (41.6 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 3HKO after sandstorm damage and Leftovers recovery
      252+ Atk Landorus-T Earthquake vs. 244 HP / 104+ Def Entei: 140-168 (63.3 - 76%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
      252+ SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 244 HP / 136 SpD Entei in Rain: 192-228 (86.8 - 103.1%) -- 18.8% chance to OHKO
      252+ SpA Life Orb Heatran Earth Power vs. 244 HP / 136 SpD Entei: 159-187 (71.9 - 84.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

      The Speed I chose was to outspeed Adamant Bisharp and anything around that speed. Entei really didn't need any Speed as it could take hits well. Now the biggest question I get is why bulky Entei over offensive Entei? I have two answers to that. First, Entei is one of my favorite Pokemon and I think it looks absolutely amazing! With the bulky set it could survive longer and therefore stay on the field longer so I could look at the majestic beast longer. Secondly, people just don't know what to do with Entei so they expect it to die after one attack because I am offensive or they don't attack me thinking it's not a threat. From there I get a Substitute, burn opposition or get a Snarl off for free. If that happens, good luck to you because Entei can be hard to take out.
      I think the move set makes sense by now, Protect is a staple on any VGC team and allows me to get Leftovers recovery. Snarl allows me to weaken Special Attackers, increasing my staying power. Substitute wasn't used often but came in handy to avoid Spore and other status moves. Sacred Fire was my only decent damaging move and without investment picked up a lot of two-hit knock-outs surprisingly. I could also predict Landorus-T or Kangaskhan switch-ins, giving me a chance to burn them with Sacred Fire and weaken them to a point where another hit often KOs. Now Sacred Fire's burn chance is only 50% but I didn't mind not having Will-O-Wisp as I made sure I wasn't over reliant on the burn winning me the game in the first place. In a best of three I was willing to take the risk. I don't have much to say about the item choice here; I could have run Safety Goggles and got rid of Substitute, but Substitute and Leftovers is a common effective strategy. I definitely do not regret using Entei as people began to recognize me as that Entei kid even though the rest of my team was boring. Overall I enjoyed using Entei as it was unique and took hits like a champ. He truly was MyBestie.
      Pre-Nationals Thoughts
      With my team looking pretty good and ready to go for Nationals it was time to know my threats and certain win conditions. I decided to use the team in the June International Challenge for Senior division practice a week before nationals as I figured no one would recognize my name. It was a good thing I chose to use the extra practice as after finishing 26-4 I noticed that all my losses had Cresselia on my opponents team! This was huge as I was then able to note that Cresselia would be a problem and had to be dealt with.
      Threats

      Now this wasn't because my team was necessarily bad against Cresselia, but that I don't know how to deal with it efficiently. The lack of powerful Ghost or Dark-type moves allowed Cresselia to always stick around for awhile. I knew I could chip at it with U-turn Landorus-T and Return Kangaskhan but even that couldn't KO and potentially Rocky Helmet could punish me hard. That, in combination with Icy Wind or Thunder Wave to badly cripple my team and give my opponents' valuable momentum. After going against so many Cresselia throughout my run with this team I found ways to work around it and win! Sometimes that meant Power-Up Punching my own Amoonguss to later get a powerful Return or Sucker Punch.

      Rotom-Heat was always annoying in opening game of a best-of-three set. Overall I didn't mind it too much but it could still prove to be a problem. It commonly runs either Sitrus Berry or Safety Goggles; both are annoying. Safety Goggles allows it to Will-O-Wisp past Amoonguss into Kangaskhan or Landorus-T. It also can go offensive with Overheat or Thunderbolt to really punch holes in the majority of my team. Whether it has Sitrus Berry or not just changes my Rock Slides and Returns from 2HKOs to potentially 3HKOs, allowing it time to burn or hit me more than I would like. I soon realized I could double target it with Kangaskhan and Landorus-T or straight up wall it with Entei.
      Other then that I honestly never lost to anything consistently and had answers for just about everything besides Ben Piercy's team (but we will get to that later). Any other threats I saw were easily dealt with a +2 Kangaskhan hence where I got my catchphrase for nationals: When in doubt, punch it.
      Nationals
      Being my first Nationals and my last event as a Senior I was definitely nervous as the stakes were high. Going into Swiss I had no idea what to expect and whether I was even good enough for top cut. Many people seemed to know each other and I felt alone for the first half of Swiss and even the day before watching the Masters play. I don't remember much from my matches but I did right down my opponents teams and a few key things so i'll give my best run down of Swiss.
      Match 1 vs. Devan Brown
      Looking at Devan and his team I knew I wasn't going to get an easy start and I believe Devan may have nearly made top cut.
           
      The first game made me feel really good about myself as I got a clean 3-0 win, taking out his Politoed, Mega Metagross, Thundurus and Scizor with ease. The only problem was I didn't get enough information out of the game and in game two he retaliates with a 3-0 victory of his own. At this point I had identified important things such as Hammer Arm on Metagross plus Light Screen and Toxic Cresselia. That game he brought Scizor, Metagross and Cresselia and I was only able to take out Scizor. After noticing his rain wasn't a good choice to bring to the battle, Entei helped beat both his Steel-types in game 3 for a 4-1 victory. This time he opted for Rhyperior, Cresselia, Scizor, Metagross. The Cresselia and Rhyperior combination was a problem, but Milotic was able to deal with it quite well.
      Win 2-1 (Record: 1-0 (2-1))
      Match 2 vs. Carson Confer (FootballFreak99)
      Winning my first game gave me a huge boost. At Seattle Regionals I actually lost my first game, so being able to finally start off positive was nice. Congratulations also to Carson for getting top 16. Looking at my opponents' team I was ready as it had similarities in the team I faced in the previous round.
          
      In game one my opponent leads with Metagross and Volcarona, Politoed and Thundurus-I in the back. I don't remember much except that the game was close but I always felt a step ahead of my opponent. A Scald burn on his Metagross consolidated my position, wrapping up the game for a 2-0 victory. Game two came along and my opponent made great adjustments by using Thundurus to deal with my Milotic which gave him trouble in the first game and Scrafty to Intimidate Landorus-T and Kangaskhan, two big threats to his team. I managed to work around it and pulled another 2-0 victory. I could tell that the burn in the first game got in his head; he was still talking about it when we were walking away from the table.
      Win 2-0 (Record: 2-0 (4-1))
      Match 3 vs. Jake Skurchak (Pokebeys)
      Jake finished as the second seed at the end of Swiss and it was definitely a good thing I didn't know he was so good at the time or I would have freaked out. I believe he finished in the Top 4 so congratulations Jake! At this point I was a pro at going against rain as this was the third one in a row!
          
      In our first game my opponent leads Ludcolo and Politoed and being more then ready for rain I get a fairly easy win (3-0) beating his Mawile and Thundurus in the back. Sadly I don't remember much of how I won and lost these matches but in the second game he lead Mawile and Terrakion which absolutely destroyed me 0-3. I was so focused on the next battle I didn't even right down the Pokemon I took out on his side and what else he had sent out after that. Game three was much better and we both played our best. He lead with Terrakion and Ludicolo and had Mawile alongside Thundurus in the back. The match was very close and I pulled off a 1-0 win. Jake's only loss during Swiss was to me and he personally told me I was his hardest match up. That made me feel very accomplished.
      Win 2-1 (Record: 3-0 (6-2))
      Match 4 vs. Logan Honts
      As soon as I saw my opponents team my jaw dropped to the floor! It looked absolutely insane and I knew my opponent wasn't going to be easy! Obviously he had been doing something right to start his day off 3-0.
           
      Game one my opponent leads Charizard-Y and Rhyperior with Dragonite and Sawsbuck in the back. Offensive Thundurus was amazing against his team as I could Hidden Power Ice or Thunderbolt the majority of his team for OHKOs and whatever was left was easy pickings for the rest of my team. I won game one 2-0. Other than Thundurus putting in work and Kangaskhan punching half his team to death I don't remember much of the matches as I was too busy gawking in awe of his awesome team. Game two he leads with Ninetales and Sawsbuck leaving Charizard-Y and Rhyperior in the back. While Sawsbuck was fast and threatening with coverage that hit my entire team for super effective damage, it simply didn't hit hard enough and was too frail. I won game two 3-0.
      Win 2-0 (Record: 4-0 (8-2))
      Match 5 vs. Kylie Chua
      I assume you all know who Kylie is because I sure did and I was scared going into my next match. Also, congrats to Kylie for finishing in the Top 16! As soon as I saw her team I knew it would be tough as the teams were very similar.
           
      I barely remember our first two matches as she lead with Thundurus and Sylveon to absolutely destroy me and finish me with her Kangaskhan for a quick 0-3 loss. I made great adjustments and was able to take down her squad of Landorus-T, Thundurus, Sylveon and Kangaskhan in game two for a narrow 1-0 victory. The third game I decided to bring Entei which I had not the previous two games and it proved to be a great choice as her Sylveon was able to wreak havoc on my team otherwise. With Entei putting in the finest of work I was able to wall her lead of Kangaskhan and Sylveon and punish her Landorus-T and Thundurus in the back. Eventually it came down to the wire but a critical hit Hyper Voice took out my Landorus-T when I needed it to live, in order to Rock Slide for the win next turn as Kangaskhan punches her last. Sadly I walk away with my first loss but I was OK with it as I knew Kylie Chua is a great experienced player.
      Loss 1-2 (Record: 4-1 (9-4))
      By this point in Swiss I'd met some awesome new people, one of the nicest being Gavin Gentry (Freckles666666). We talked after nearly every match and I got a bit closer with a few of the other top Senior players. I had at least accomplished one thing: I wasn't a complete loner at Nationals.
      Match 6 vs. Mihrab Samad (megachar10)
      I was pumped for this match! Mihrab was an awesome opponent and it was great to talk to him. Sadly, afterwards I was disappointed in how bad our match was.
         
      Game one he leads with Charizard and Lapras with Cresselia and Landorus-T in the back. It was a close match and he ended up winning 0-1. The next match was absolutely terrible! He leads Charizard again but this time alongside Landorus-T with Lapras and Cresselia in the back. I thought my team had a great match up but it was impossible to get things going when his lead really had luck on his side. He quickly won 0-3. I am not one to complain about lucky breaks and Mihrab is a great opponent, but without it we would have had a much better match. That's Pokemon though.
      Loss 0-2 (Record: 4-2 (9-6))
      Match 7 vs. Beav Berg
      At this point it was do or die. I couldn't lose any more matches in order to make top cut so I was in full focus. I barely remember my next few matches except that Kangaskhan ruthlessly punched my opponents to death and showed my true rage! Just kidding, I wasn't that angry. I was already doing better then I would have ever expected and figured only a few months of experience isn't enough to top cut US Nationals. Regardless here was my opponents team!
           
      Game one my opponent leads Suicune and Thundurus with Charizard and Scrafty in the back. I was so ready for game two I forgot to right down how much I beat him by I think it was either 2-0 or 3-0. Game two Beav uses the same Pokemon only leading Suicune+Scrafty with Thundurus and Charizard in the back. He improved his game but I still came out with a 1-0 win.
      Win 2-0 (Record: 5-2 (11-6))
      Match 8 vs. Abram Burrows
      I knew my opponent was not going to let me get this easy as we were both one win from top cut and one loss from elimination. The last match of the day and the nerves were high. The second I saw his team I took a sigh of relief and proceeded to punch everything.
          
      I sadly never got to figure out what his mega was as his Venusaur fainted on a switch in and he never used Gardevoir. I knew Kangaskhan could OHKO everything on his team save the Zapdos and Venusaur if they were bulky enough. Even then both Bisharp and Tyranitar go down to a Power-Up Punch so the boost would normally allow me to take out Zapdos and Venusaur anyways. The first battle he lead Infernape and Bisharp with Tyranitar and Zapdos in the back. His Infernape was a threat to my Kangaskhan but with a few switches and Rage Powders at the right times Kangaskhan was just able to punch his entire team for a 3-0 victory. Game two comes along and he leads Infernape and Tyranitar with Venusaur and Bisharp in the back. This time the wrath of Landorus-T and Kangaskhan gets another clean 3-0 victory and guarantees my top cut.
      Win 2-0 (Record: 6-2 (13-6))
       
      Top Cut Match 1 (Top 25) vs. Kade Karim
      This was my first time ever top cutting an event and for it to be Nationals of all places made me ecstatic! As soon as I saw his team I was ready; it was another rain team.
       
      My opponent leads with Ludicolo and Kangaskhan the first match and after the double Fake-Out pressure with no rain right away it was an easy 3-0 victory. I sadly don't remember much of this match but I can say that he played his Aegislash very well and his bulky support Politoed was also surprising. Game two he leads full rain going Ludicolo and Politoed with Mawile and Aegislash in the back. With his rain lead forcing me not to use Entei and Landorus-T his Mawile and Aegislash in the back put in work but I still pulled out a victory. I was so happy I didn't even right down the score. Congrats to Kade for top cut!
      Win 2-0 (Record: 7-2 (15-6)) Made it to Top 16
      Top Cut Match 2 (Top 16) vs. Gavin Gentry (Freckles666666)
      Oh Gavin why did I have to go against you in Top 16. He needed Top 8 for Worlds and I still didn't know what I would need but it was either Top 8 or Top 4. Gavin was very nice to me throughout the entire team and our match was a lot of fun. It reminded me of why I play Pokemon. His team looked amazing and I was ready for a tough match.
           
      My best matches of the entire tournament were against Gavin. The first game he leads Lopunny and Sylveon with Cresselia and Aegislash in the back. My team doesn't have any dark type moves other then Sucker Punch so Cresselia and Aegislash were a problem. He also made an awesome play using After You Lopunny to speed up his Sylveon and use Hyper Voice. It was devastating. Regardless, I  managed to pull out a 2-0 victory. Game two comes along and after the first few turns it felt over. His Blaziken got a Overheat OHKO onto my Amoonguss and his Cresselia was an impenetrable force with Calm Mind and Moonlight. Eventually I made some great plays, mostly getting Kangaskhan to +2 to beat his Cresselia, leaving us with Landorus-T and Kangaskhan vs a Speed Boosted Blaziken at 90% with a 1HP Sylveon. I knew his Blaziken was hiding the HP ice the entire time and would most likely OHKO my Landorus-T and outspeed. So I took the only option I had and Power-Up Punched his Sylveon for a +3 Kangaskhan and the KO as his Blaziken took out Landorus-T. The Life Orb recoil put him at 80% and it all came down to how much Sucker Punch could do. I picked up the KO and later looked up the calc: +3 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Sucker Punch vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Blaziken: 121-143 (78 - 92.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO. I obviously hit the high roll and pulled out a narrow 1-0 victory putting me into Top 8 and leaving Gavin with no worlds invite. Sorry Gavin but congratulations on Top 16 hope to see you in Masters!
      Win 2-0 (Record: 8-2 (17-6)) Made it to Top 8
      Top Cut Match 3 (Top 8) vs. Ben Piercy
      I still wonder to this day what would have happened if I had a different opponent for Top 8. Hopefully you all recognize his name as Ben ended up winning it all and became the 2015 US Senior National Champion. I guess if I had to lose to anyone it might as well be the Champion! His team was absolutely amazing and he thoroughly deserved the National title.
           
      The first game my goal was to scout out as much as I could as I knew learning his crazy set was important. I did this extremely well and lost 0-3, but I learned about his scarf Latios and Physical Salamence along with a few other bits of key information. Going into the second game I am extremely disappointed in myself as I went against everything my team was made to do. Firstly, I didn't use Entei. Looking back, Entei walled half his team and dished out great damage back. Secondly, I was to afraid to punch anything with Kangaskhan as I was anticipating Mach Punch from Breloom the entire time, but never came. The second game ended up being a Latios+Breloom sweep. I could have avoided it by Sucker Punching his Latios for the OHKO with Kangaskhan and Returning his Breloom. The reason why I didn't was because he started the match with an Earth Power from Nidoqueen onto Kangaskhan putting me into what I thought was Mach Punch KO range. The thing was Ben chose to run Superpower and not Mach Punch. He really fooled me and he totally deserved the win.
      Loss 0-2 (Record: 8-3 (17-8)) Ending my Seniors run in Top 8
      Conclusion
      Let me just say that I more than impressed myself with a Top 8 finish, despite being so new to the format and having zero experience behind me. Several people told me after my Top 8 match that I most likely made Worlds, but I had a gut feeling telling me I didn't. Later that week when the Final CP rankings were up, there was my name in 47th, 30 points away from worlds. Those 30 points I could have earned from just going to one more Premier Challenge. Well that's what I get for starting so late! In the end, I don't mind that I missed out on worlds or a Top 4 finish at Nationals because it was only my first time and I still had many years as a Master to look forward to! Nationals was a great experience and I will remember every bit of it for a long time. Have a great day and I hope to see you all in the Masters Division!
      Thanks to http://raizy.deviantart.com/ for the awesome art!
    • Singing in the Rain: A 3rd Place Singapore Nationals Report
      By Harbinger
      Hi, I am Edward Cheung from Hong Kong. I finished 3rd in the Singapore Nationals to secure my Worlds invite.
      This year is important to Hong Kong players as we start to have our own premier challenges. Singapore also had their fist National Championship. All this means that, for the very first time, Hong Kong players were able to qualify for Worlds! Singapore Nationals was the first time I traveled abroad for a Pokemon tournament. It was an excellent experience and I made a number of foreign friends who all love the game. It was great seeing you at Worlds!
      The Team
      Trick Room Gardevoir is a very common Pokemon in Japan, but not as much in the West. Personally, I think the metagame of Singapore and neighbouring countries is under greater influence from the West, and that made me more confident in bringing a Japanese-style team to the tournament.
      The failure of my standard Trick Room Gardevoir in HK Regionals suggested to me that I should deviate from the main track a bit while maintaining the balance of the whole team. A thorough search of Japanese websites lead me to bicho’s report of Japanese Nationals.
      Bicho’s team is best-of-one oriented. It is full of surprises like Imprison Gardevoir. As in the standard Trick Room Gardevoir team, Amoonguss, Heatran, and Landorus are the core members. While Ludicolo is such an excellent supplement with the Fake Out support for Trick Room and Fire-type check (Gardevoir’s presence attracts Fire-types often). Setting up rain is also crucial to Ludicolo as it can easily counter Choice Scarf Landorus, one of the biggest threats to the team. In bicho’s opinion, Prankster Rain Dance from Thundurus is superior to Drizzle Politoed, especially versus Charizard-Y, which can Mega Evolve and cancel out Drizzle. Thundurus can also provide Thunder Wave support as an alternative speed control to Trick Room.
      Nevertheless, I think bicho’s team doesn’t fit the best-of-three format nor my playstyle, So I made several important modifications which will be mentioned below.

      Gardevoir @ Gardevoirite
      Ability: Telepathy
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 252 HP / 60 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 116 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Hyper Voice
      - Psychic
      - Trick Room
      - Protect
      This is a relatively fast Trick Room Gardevoir. It outspeeds Jolly Breloom, one of the big threats to the team, after Mega, and offers an instant KO after any chip damage. I forgot exactly how the defensive investment works, but it should survive common attacks like Life Orb max-Attack Talonflame Brave Bird. The reason why I used Telepathy instead of Trace is because I do not want the opponents identifying my speed, especially knowing that it outspeeds most other Gardevoir. I abandoned Imprison in the last few days as I guessed the overall usage of Mega Gardevoir would be quite low here. Though this leaves Sylveon as a big threat to my team, I do not regret the choice.

      Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
      Ability: Regenerator
      EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 96 SpD / 4 Spe
      Relaxed Nature
      IVs: 30 SpA / 30 SpD / 1 Spe
      - Hidden Power [Ground]
      - Spore
      - Rage Powder
      - Protect
      Gardevoir’s best partner. Kangaskhan and all single-target physical attackers hate it. Gardevoir and Amoonguss attract Heatran, and with the increasing usage of Safety Goggles Heatran, standard Amoonguss can have a hard time even if it can survive long enough to get a Spore off. Given that I have Ludicolo as my last member as my grass coverage, I choose Hidden Power Ground over Giga Drain on Amoongus. I EVed 1 Speed against the standard 0 Speed Amoonguss, just in case.

      Heatran @ Safety Goggles
      Ability: Flash Fire
      EVs: 20 HP / 28 Def / 204 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Heat Wave
      - Earth Power
      - Ancient Power
      - Protect
      I admit that a modest Heatran is better in general. While timid Heatran is very situational, my team needs it to offer secure OHKO or switch-in pressure on opposing Heatran. Ancient Power also offers coverage on Charizard-Y and Rotom-H. Looking back at the whole tournament, if I were to choose again, I would replace the Safety Goggles with Shuca Berry as most of the opponents would opt to not lead their own Amoonguss against my team.

      Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 76 HP / 124 Atk / 52 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Earthquake
      - Rock Slide
      - Superpower
      - U-turn
      Offers Intimidate support for the weak Defense of Gardevoir. Survives Life orb Defiant-boosted Sucker Punch from Bisharp. But as the usage of Bisharp has dropped dramatically, I suggest just using the standard max-Attack set. That extra damage can matter.

      Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Prankster
      EVs: 248 HP / 152 Def / 4 SpA / 20 SpD / 84 Spe
      Calm Nature
      IVs: 30 HP / 0 Atk / 30 Def
      - Thunderbolt
      - Thunder Wave
      - Taunt
      - Rain Dance
      Thundurus offers a variety of support to any team. Prankster Rain Dance slows Mega Charizard Y and other Heat Wave users quite well, and offers a speed boost to Swift Swim Ludicolo. 84 Speed is used to outspeed the majority of Thundurus and Taunt them without much concern (Ludicolo needs to ensure not being Thunder Waved). I was choosing between Taunt and Hidden Power Ice before the tournament, but experience has shown me that a slow Hidden Power Ice user may not as useful as you think.

      Ludicolo @ Assault Vest
      Ability: Swift Swim
      EVs: 76 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 172 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Hydro Pump
      - Ice Beam
      - Giga Drain
      - Fake Out
      Ludicolo was the MVP of the team. It really helped me in a lot of matchups that my previous Gardevoir teams had trouble with. It functions well both in rain and in Trick Room. Choosing which water and grass moves to use were big issues. I chose Hydro Pump for pure damage output and Giga Drain as a means of HP recovery, and to hit Rotom-W, Gastrodon, and Swampert in the current metagame. The Speed is to outspeed Mega Aerodactyl in rain. Bicho mentioned it was a nightmare for him at the Japan National.
      Leads and Strategies

      Gardevoir+Amoonguss

      The simplest lead against teams with lots of single-target attacks. If you lead Kangaskhan and Bisharp against this, you are totally ruined. I could Protect both Pokemon and Rage Powder and Hyper Voice next turn. If Kangaskhan has Double Edge, together with the Rock Helmet damage and recoil, Hyper Voice will KO it with a single blow.

      Gardevoir+Landorus-T

      Another common lead against teams with a lot of physical attackers. Used when I am not facing Defiant or Competitive Pokemon. If the opponent leads a Fake Out user, I just switch away Landorus-T for Amoonguss and Protect Gardevoir. Then next turn I start spamming Hyper Voice.

      Gardevoir+Ludicolo

      I can set up Trick Room at ease if there is no faster opposing Fake Out user. This lead is used against opposing rain teams with Politoed and Ludicolo.

      Thundurus+Landorus-T

      This lead is also quite common in many other teams but the great thing here is that I can Rain Dance and U-turn to my Ludicolo.

      Thundurus+Ludicolo

      This lead works well against Mega Salamence. Fake Out allows me to set up Rain Dance turn one, immediately exposing Salamence to the threat of an Ice Beam. This lead also cancels out the drought from Charizard-Y. If Charizard does not Mega, Thundurus can just continue to Rain Dance. Ludicolo will be guaranteed a maximum power Hydro Pump.

      Thundurus+Amoonguss

      When I do not have good ideas, I need both utility supporters. You need to choose to take either the Spore or Thunder Wave.
      Major Threats

      Mega Metagross

      Metagross often accompanies rain teams, which puts a lot of pressure on my Heatran. Maybe some status moves from Thundurus and Amoonguss can help me, but I still need to play a very difficult game.

      Landorus-T

      Earthquake is a big threat. Rockslide flinches are annoying. The best way to deal with Landorus is to outspeed it with Ludicolo in the rain. The setup required to pull this off is often a problem.

      Sylveon

      Sylveon can deal huge damage to a lot of my team. The best solution is to focus on knocking it out before it launches too many Hyper Voices, Sylveon's partner often denies me that luxury.

      Snarl users (Suicune, Entei, Arcanine)

      My team is heavily invested in Special Attack, so Snarl can slow my team down tremendously. Not only can Snarl reduce my damage output, but it can make my switches much more predictable.
      The Battles
      Round 1
      We have altogether 8 Masters from Hong Kong. With 131 players in the field, I thought the chance of civil war would be quite low. Nevertheless, my first matchup of the day is Siu Hin, one of my friends from HK:
      Salamence, Tyranitar, Excadrill, Cresselia, Sylveon, Aegislash
      I am quite familiar with this team as Hin was using the same team in the HK Regionals. Still, I do not have a good counter to it. As the team has both a fast mode and slow mode, I’m not sure whether Trick Room or Thunder Wave is the best approach.
      Game 1

      He used: Tyranitar, Excadrill, Cresselia, Aegislash
      I used: Thundurus, Landorus-T, Heatran, Ludicolo
      I expect him to initiate the sand immediately so I lead Landorus to intimidate and Thundurus to Rain Dance. The game started quite well, but my Ludicolo failed to deal enough damage. Finally, I was forced to sacrifice Heatran to an Earthquake from Landorus, and I eventually lost to a fast Excadrill.
      Game 2

      He used: Tyranitar, Excadrill, Cresselia, Aegislash
      I used: Thundurus, Landorus-T, Gardevoir, Ludicolo
      I admit that my mind was lost after the first game. His Cresselia used Trick Room with his Tyranitar paralyzed. I got some luck by reversing Trick Room with my own Gardevoir. Not a decent victory, but it was still a win.
      Game 3

      He used: Cresselia, Sylveon, Tyranitar, Excadrill
      I used: Thundurus, Landorus-T, Gardevoir, Ludicolo
      Looking at the lead, I can say I was totally lost. He correctly predicted I would not bring out Heatran, and I had no good answer to Sylveon and its Hyper Voice earned him the first match.
      1:2 Lose
      Round 2
      Losing the first round is never a good start in Swiss, as you know you will get a lower opponent’s win percentage. Six consecutive wins were needed to secure top cut. My second opponent, “Wheatscuits,” comes from Malaysia, and his team is:
      Manectric, Virizion, Talonflame, Azumarill, Excadrill, Aegislash
      It was a very unconventional team, and three out of the six Pokemon would cause trouble for my Gardevoir, namely Talonflame, Excadrill, and Aegislash. I knew I had to be very careful in playing around this.
      Game 1
      He used: Azumarill, Aegislash, Manectric, Talonflame
      I used: Gardevoir, Amoonguss, Landorus-T, Heatran
      Leading Gardevoir against Aegislash is never good. Still, I managed to overcome it by continually Sporing Aegislash. My Heatran was never used in the game.
      Game 2
      He used: Talonflame, Excadrill, Azumarill, Manectric
      I used: Gardevoir, Amoonguss, Landorus-T, Heatran
      I saw no reason to change my lead, which did pretty well even with so many threats to Gardevoir. I protected Gardevoir in first turn and tried to Spore the Talonflame after taking a Brave Bird. Finding it to have Safety Goggles, I switched out both my Pokemon. I managed to Spore his Belly Drum-boosted Azumarill, and from there my Landorus swept with ease.
      2:0 Win
      Round 3
      I encountered a rain team in this round, from a Singapore player known as “Fluke”:
      Gardevoir, Mawile, Ludicolo, Politoed, Talonflame, Terrakion
      Game 1
      He used: Ludicolo, Politoed, Mawile, Terrakion
      I used: Thundurus, Amoonguss, Ludicolo, Gardevoir
      Game 2
      He used: Ludicolo, Politoed, Talonflame, Terrakion
      I used: Gardevoir, Amoonguss, Ludicolo, Landorus-T
      Two straight and easy wins with not much worthy to mention, other than the fact that discovering that his Ludicolo was a Life Orb variant without Fake Out really helped me in game two, knowing that I could Hyper Voice directly against his rain lead.
      2:0 Win
      Round 4
      The two wins made me feel more comfortable and hopeful for Top Cut. But all my hope seemed to disappear as I saw I would be matched up with Singapore player “Derrick Li”:
      Metagross, Ludicolo, Politoed, Zapdos, Terrakion, Gothitelle
      Metagross with rain was a total destruction on my hope in my opinion. Still, all I could do was try my best and hope for some luck.
      Game 1

      He used: Ludicolo, Metagross, Zapdos, Politoed
      I used: Thundurus, Ludicolo, Gardevoir, Amoonguss
      Knowing that paralyzing his Metagross or putting it to sleep was critical for me to have a chance in this game, I lead Thundurus and Ludicolo. His Mega Metagross eventually showed Bullet Punch and seemed not to have Iron Head or Meteor Mash. With his Mega fully paralyzed several times, I took the first win.
      Game 2

      He used: Gothitelle, Metagross, Zapdos, Ludicolo
      I used: Thundurus, Ludicolo, Gardevoir, Amoonguss
      A notable mention is that the game was disconnected right after I gained a huge advantage from a critical hit Hydro Pump onto his Zapdos. As the game did not appear to be my definite victory, the judge asked us to start the whole game in the same manner, but the critical hit on the Hydro Pump did not appear. The game did not go too smoothly to begin with, as my mood was disrupted by the disconnection. My Ludicolo suffered huge damage from his taunted Gothitelle. His Zapdos successfully launched Tailwind, but I get both his Pokemon paralyzed. With my Ludicolo and Thundurus down, it seemed I did not have a good answer to Mega Metagross. I knew my Gardevoir could take a single hit from Bullet Punch so I just courageously launched a Hyper Voice to do as much damage I could. Eventually, his Mega suffered from full paralysis continuously once again and I was able to close out another win.
      2:0 Win
      Round 5
      My opponent is "NinjaTank 3.” I cannot recall much from this match, as I played it the way I would against a standard Kangaskhan team. My team earned me an easy win in game two and three.
      Kangaskhan, Landourus-T, Thundurus, Milotic, Amoonguss, Rotom-H
      Game 1
      He used: Milotic, Thundurus, Kangaskhan, Landorus-T
      I used: Gardevoir, Amoonguss, Thundurus, Ludicolo
      Game 2
      He used: Kangaskhan, Rotom-H, Milotic, Thundurus
      I used: Gardevoir, Ludicolo, Amoonguss, Thundurus
      Game 3
      He used: Kangaskhan, Landorus-T, Amoonguss, Rotom-H
      I used: Landorus-T, Thundurus, Gardevoir, Ludicolo
      2:1 Win
      Round 6
      Salamence , Bisharp, Amoonguss, Blaziken, Thundurus, Swampert
      I have to say I like “Izzy’s” team very much. I used Mega Blaziken and Bisharp and scored a 2nd place at a Premier Challenge in the past. Blaziken is a great counter to most of the common Mega Pokemon used today.
      Game 1

      He used: Blaziken, Bisharp, Salamence, Thundurus
      I used: Gardevoir, Ludicolo, Heatran, Amoonguss
      Rockslide from non-Meag Blaziken gave me a surprise. I’m used to seeing Blaziken mixed with Superpower, Overheat, and Hidden Power Ice. Both my Amoonguss and Ludicolo were threatened by Flare Blitz from Blaziken. Although I managed to get the Trick Room up, he stalled the turns well and I was stuck after the four turns were over.
      Game 2

      He used: Salamence, Bisharp, Blaziken, Thundurus
      I used: Ludicolo, Thundurus, Gardevoir, Amoonguss
      His Bisharp really annoyed me as I was reluctant to use my Landorus-T despite under the threat of his physical Blaziken. This time I used an alternative approach of using Thunder Wave to slow his Blaziken down. The plan worked and his Blaziken had no answer to it, and I won by successfully launching Hyper Voices. In this game, he revealed Mega Salamence as another Rockslide user.
      Game 3

      He used: Blaziken, Bisharp, Salamence, Amoonguss
      I used: Thundurus, Amoonguss, Gardevoir, Ludicolo
      I used my disrupting lead in the last game. The first round paralysis of Blaziken helped my Amoonguss survive a potential Flare Blitz and successfully Spore his Bisharp. Under the rain, he could not stop my Mega Gardevoir.
      Win 2:1
      Round 7
      It was 8:00 PM already and I hadn’t eaten for nearly 10 hours. Though the organizer announced a very brief dinner break, I did not go for anything as I felt any food would break my intense mood and make me lose my concentration. Of course, I don’t recommend this. Your health is important. As the game started, my Singapore opponent did not show up until five minutes into the round, and he came with a meal box. How evil!
      Camerupt, Tyranitar, Aromatisse, Gastrodon, Escavlier, Slowbro
      Great! He didn’t have a great answer to my Ludicolo, so I would definitely lead with it. Understanding that his Gastrodon was the most critical Pokemon in the matchup, I boldly brought my Amoonguss as well. Supported with Gardevoir and Thundurus, I thought it should be an easy game.
      Game 1
      He used: Gastrodon, Escavlier, Camerupt, Slowbro
      I used: Ludicolo, Gardevoir, Thundurus, Amoonguss
      His Escavlier was really annoying and my Hyper Voice could only do minimal damage. It turned out my Thundurus was the sole solution to it, and this game was won with difficulty.
      Game 2
      He used: Escavlier, Aromatisse, Camerupt, Gastrodon
      I used: Heatran, Ludicolo,
      I knew his Escavlier could easily ruin my team, so this time I opted for Heatran. With his Aromatisse and Escavlier walking into my Heatran, my plan was successful. His Aromatisse successfully launched Trick Room , which made things complicated. But with Protect and some good switch predictions, I managed to overcome and claimed my victory.
      Win 2:0
      Yes, I DID IT! 6 consecutive wins! I felt relieved and very hungry. One of the Hong Kong players, Pascoe, insisted that I should share this encouraging story as a good lesson for players, that they should not give up even if the situation looks bleak.
      Quarterfinal
      Pokézard is one of the youngest quarterfinalists of the Master Divisions. Though he did not recognize me, I knew that I had played him in an online tournament, the Asia Cup 2015.
      Kangaskhan, Sylveon, Amoonguss, Heatran, Cresselia, Conkeldurr
      A very bulky team which I assumed to be largely dependent on Trick Room. I was determined to bring anything that could disrupt his strategy.
      Game 1

      He used: Kangaskhan, Cresselia, Heatran, Conkeldurr
      I used: Gardevoir, Thundurus, Amoonguss, Heatran
      He revealed Skill Swap on Cresselia, which was really important later on in the game when I taunted it to prevent the damage reduction from stealing Pixilate from Gardevoir. Hidden Power Ground from Amoonguss finally became useful, breaking Heatran’s Substitute. I played this game well and collected lots of information for the next game.
      Game 2

      He used: Kangaskhan, Heatran, Cresselia, Conkeldurr
      I used: Ludicolo, Thundurus, Gardevoir, Amoonguss
      A very important discovery on his Kangaskhan was her low Speed. I confidently used Fake Out with my Ludicolo and set up my rain. He seemed surprised by this. On the other hand, I was unfamiliar with the situation and made a few misplays. Thundurus was knocked out at the best moment, allowing my Gardevoir to come in at a perfect time to offer instant pressure. He managed to setup Trick Room twice afterward, but that only created an opportunity for my Amoonguss to put all his Pokemon to sleep. I managed to make some correct predictions and ended this 14-turn match somewhat convincingly.
      Win 2:0
      Semifinal
      After the quarterfinal, four players from four countries (Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, and Hong Kong) were left in the tournament.
      http://youtube.com/watch?v=42bTvglRLfc?t=1h13m57s
      Kangaskhan, Sylveon, Suicune, Landorus, Heatran, Amoonguss
      A very standard Tailwind, Mega Kangaskhan, and Sylveon team. I was pretty sure he would not use Amoonguss, so it was a guess on the remaining four.
      Game 1
      He used: Kangaskhan, Sylveon, Suicune, Heatran
      I used: Thundurus, Amoonguss, Heatran, Gardevoir
      My Amoonguss suffered massive damage from a critical hit Double-Edge in the first turn, and the damage done to my Thundurus by Sylveon confirmed to me that it had Choice Specs. The trauma done to my team was so great that I could do not much to make a comeback.
      Game 2
      He used: Kangaskhan, Heatran, Suicune, Sylveon
      I used: Gardevoir, Landorus-T, Amoonguss, Heatran
      This game was really one of my best in the whole tournament. Admittedly, I could have forseen the Tailwind coming from his Suicune and I could have used Trick Room that same turn. But that would have been a very risky play.
      Game 3
      He used: Kangaskhan, Sylveon, Landourus-T, Suicune
      I used: Gardevoir, Amoonguss, Ludicolo, Heatran
      I played well in general and controlled the tempo of the game in the beginning. But when I chose not to Fake Out Sylveon and Ice Beam the Landorus slot instead, the door opened for my opponent to get a critical Rockslide flinch on my Ludicolo and burn my Gardevoir with Scald afterward. That flinch really did break my dream of making it to finals. Though the Rockslide missed my Ludicolo another turn, that didn't save me the game. Heatran eventually became useless in this game, and if I had used Thundurus instead, the rain could have helped me in the Landourus-T matchup.
      So my journey ended here. I had no complaint about the hax, as it could have been avoided on my part. There’s a lot you can do to avoid putting your hope in the dice.
      Closing Thoughts
      Overall, the Singapore National was a great event. Applause must be given to the three organizers: Tan (tanzying), Soon (Soon), and Choong. The commentators Loh (slyx183) and Rafie were also excellent and professional. I did not expect Asia Pacific to have such great commentators as in America.
      For the teambuilding process, I must thank my very good friend Travis (Himte28) who offered great help when fine-tuning the team.
      Post-Worlds Reflection
      Foreseeing Mega Gardevoir would continue to be common among top players, I boldly change my whole team into a dual-Mega team with Mega Charizard Y and replaced Psychic with Imprison on my Gardevoir. This team is highly complicated and I am not going to exhaust you with another team report, but feel free to leave a comment or send me a message if you are interested.

      Charizard @ Charizardite Y
      Ability: Blaze
      Level: 50
      EVs: 172 HP / 92 Def / 52 SpA / 4 SpD / 188 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Flamethrower
      - Solar Beam
      - Tailwind
      - Protect

      Tyranitar @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Sand Stream
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Rock Slide
      - Crunch
      - Superpower
      - Ice Punch

      Gardevoir @ Gardevoirite
      Ability: Trace
      EVs: 252 HP / 52 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 124 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Hyper Voice
      - Trick Room
      - Imprison
      - Protect

      Landorus-Therian @ Expert Belt
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Earth Power
      - Hidden Power [ice]
      - Stone Edge
      - Protect

      Aegislash @ Life Orb
      Ability: Stance Change
      EVs: 156 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 4 SpD / 108 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Shadow Ball
      - Flash Cannon
      - Wide Guard
      - King's Shield

      Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
      Ability: Regenerator
      EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 4 SpA / 92 SpD / 4 Spe
      Bold Nature
      - Sludge Bomb
      - Spore
      - Rage Powder
      - Protect
      Unfortunately, I did not do well at Worlds. Starting out 3-1 and winning the first game of round five, it seemed that qualifying for day two was very close to me. At that moment I felt my brain was not working well as usual and lost consecutively, ending 3-4. So my suggestion to all new players who are preparing to come to the Worlds next year: get plenty of sleep the day before the competition, and build up your resilience to stress early in the season!
      It was a tiring season, and I thought Worlds 2015 would mark the end of my competitive Pokemon journey. But the atmosphere of the venue and the enthusiasm of all competitors, especially my APAC friends Theron, Zulherryka, Zarif, and Phil, reminded me why we play so hard and strive for excellence. I promise I will do my best in VGC 2016, and hopefully show great improvement to all of you next year.
      Thank you all for reading!
      Thanks to my friend "Final Fantasy" from the HK Golden Forum for the cover art.
    • Flaming in Indiana: A US Nationals Top 4 Report
      By Bopper
      Hello everybody! My name is Blake Hopper, but you can call me Bopper. I’m here to talk about my team that I used at the United States National tournament where I placed 3rd. This was not only my first time to place in the top 8 of any major tournament, but also my first time to make day 2 of nationals! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!

      Team Building Process
      Imagine me on Tuesday prior to Nationals without a team. It’s not a pretty sight. I was extremely stressed out as my entire season would be riding on this tournament at which I had to place within the top 32 in order to lock up my Worlds invite. I was talking with Oliver Valenti (Smith) and Toler Webb (Dim) while at dinner and Oliver suggested I mess around with Alberto Lara’s (CaliSweeper) team that he used to win two Regionals. The team sounded very appealing as it had both Salamence and Charizard, two Pokémon that I was very comfortable with, so I went with it.

      I really didn’t like Ferrothorn on this team and felt like it should go as it doesn’t fit my style. I also wanted to have a solid steel type but also needed a good strong fighting type that allowed my team to gain a lot of offensive momentum.

      This version seemed to click much more than the previous. However, I rarely brought Salamence and whenever I did, it never really pulled its weight, as the team didn’t really seem to work well with it. In addition to this, Breloom was way too inconsistent for my liking, so I decided to switch it out for a more consistent fighting type that still put a lot of pressure on the opponent in the form of type coverage.

      This version of the team is what stood out the most to me. It had a lot of speed control in the forms of Charizard and Thundurus which had access to Tailwind and Thunder Wave respectively. On the original draft of the team, I didn’t like Conkeldurr in conjunction with Salamence because Conkeldurr was always too slow to help out the rest of the team. With Thundurus, I was able to control much more of my matches and it was also a very reliable way to prevent any gimmicks that I might have faced in a Swiss style tournament.
      The Team

      Charizard @ Charizardite Y
      Ability: Blaze
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 36 SpA / 4 SpD / 196 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Flamethrower
      - Tailwind
      - Solar Beam
      - Protect

      OHKOs 252HP/156SDef Aegislash with sun boosted flamethrower
      Survives a Rock Slide from -1 Jolly Terrakion
      Survives Choice Specs boosted Draco Meteor from Hydreigon 93.7% of the time
      Outspeeds Adamant Landorus-T by 2 points, hitting 145 speed

      Charizard was one of the megas that not a lot of people really believed in going into Nationals. Due to the large spike in usage of the famous Japanese sand team with Mega Salamence, Charizard didn’t seem to be a great play for the event. However, Charizard has amazing matchups against some of the top pokemon when supported correctly. There are always some matchups where Charizard severely lacks the offensive pressure that I love to apply. It was situations like these that made me want to try out Tailwind on Charizard in order to fill a support role for whenever Charizard couldn’t apply much offensive pressure on its own. With the use of Tailwind, I was able to set up a lot of really weird win conditions that my opponents didn’t really see coming, and these win conditions were usually able to immediately lock up games.

      Conkeldurr @ Assault Vest
      Ability: Iron Fist
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 100 HP / 116 Atk / 140 Def / 68 SpD / 84 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Drain Punch
      - Mach Punch
      - Ice Punch
      - Rock Tomb

      Survives Life Orb Hyper Voice from modest Sylveon
      Survives a -1 Return from adamant Mega-Salamence 93.7% of the time
      Outspeeds max speed adamant Mega-Kangaskhan in Tailwind
      KOs 4 HP Landorus-T with a -1 Ice Punch + Mach Punch

      Hands down the MVP of the entire tournament. Conkeldurr was a Pokémon that I was testing with constantly prior to Nationals. I thought that Conkeldurr had the most potential out of any Fighting type going into Nationals seeing that it was able to OHKO Landorus-T and Kangaskhan, which were two very threatening Pokemon for Charizard if I were to lose Aegislash. Conkeldurr was one of the best pokemon I used in the tournament due to its access to a strong priority move in the form of Mach Punch, which gained a power boost from Conkeldurr’s ability Iron Fist. There were a few moments where I wished I had Guts instead of Iron Fist, but there were far more times where I was happy about having Iron Fist instead. I decided that Conkeldurr needed to act as the sort of “glue” to this team, meaning it was able to patch up some of my weird matchups and generally provide solid coverage to help support the team. Rock Tomb was an interesting choice that I decided on the day prior to the tournament. I was really afraid of opposing Charizards so I wanted some hidden ways to take out Charizards in order to clear up some of my opponents’ offensive threats. Rock Tomb also counted as a form of speed control but was unfortunately never used in that way.

      Sylveon @ Life Orb
      Ability: Pixilate
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 156 HP / 20 Def / 212 SpA / 116 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Hyper Voice
      - Hidden Power [Ground]
      - Helping Hand
      - Protect

      Survives -1 Mega-Kangaskhan Double-Edge AND Life Orb recoil
      KOs 4HP Heatran with Hidden Power
      Outspeeds Mega-Salamence in Tailwind

      Sylveon used to be one of the best pokemon in the metagame with little to nothing to stop it quickly. But now, I feel as if Sylveon has dropped down in usage as people are becoming more aware of how to handle it. With the abundance of Salamence and Kangaskhan which both OHKO Sylveon and Aegislash which prevents Sylveon from using Hyper Voice, Sylveon can have a bit of a tough time getting damage off in some matches. I feel like outside of these pokemon and a few others, Sylveon is a monster that specializes in punishing switches that the opponent may be making due to being in a bad position. Charizard was able to plug up a lot of the things that give Sylveon some issues. Charizard OHKOs Aegislash and Amoonguss, two very annoying pokemon for Sylveon, and Charizard is able to set up a Tailwind which allows Sylveon to outspeed and KO Salamence, and do very sizeable damage to Kangaskhan.
      The spread was probably one of my favorite spreads that I used on my team. Sylveon being able to outspeed Mega-Salamence and Tyranitar holding a Choice Scarf was extremely useful and netted many KOs throughout the tournament.

      Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Prankster
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 212 HP / 104 Def / 4 SpA / 72 SpD / 116 Spe
      Timid Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def
      - Thunderbolt
      - Hidden Power [ice]
      - Thunder Wave
      - Taunt

      Survives Kangaskhan Double-Edge with Sitrus Berry recovery
      Outspeeds Jolly Landorus-T by 1 point
      Dumped Special Defense

      This specific Thundurus was mainly just ripped from Jake Muller's (MajorBowman) Winter Regionals team. I wanted to use Timid Thundurus because I felt like it was a stellar meta call going into nationals, as it could outspeed and Taunt opposing Thundurus reliably and prevent any Swaggers or Thunder Waves they might have been trying to set up on my team. Thundurus was amazing support for this team. My team had three forms of speed control in the forms of Charizard’s Tailwind, Conkeldurr’s Rock Tomb, and Thundurus’ Thunder Wave. This allowed for me to be able to control the momentum of a large portion of my matches due to how many options I had to speed up my team.

      Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
      Ability: Stance Change
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 236 HP / 4 Def / 140 SpA / 76 SpD / 52 Spe
      Modest Nature
      - Shadow Ball
      - Flash Cannon
      - Wide Guard
      - King's Shield

      General speed investment to speed-creep opposing Aegislash
      Survives 252 SAtk Timid Charizard Heat Wave in sun
      Dumped Special Attack

      Many of the teams that I played seemed to only have a Landorus-T as their “Charizard counter,” which was easily stoppable with the support of Aegislash and its move Wide Guard. After Nationals, I’m convinced that Aegislash is tied with Landorus-T for the best Pokemon in the metagame. Aegislash is able to fit on nearly any team and offer either offensive or defensive support. It's also easily one of the best defensive pivots in the entire game due to its insane amount of type resistances and lack of weaknesses. What Aegislash brought to this team was mainly the threat of Wide Guard and its ability to freely switch into opposing Kangaskhan, which none of my Pokemon really wanted to take a hit from. Not much else to say about this guy - it’s an Aegislash, it’s good.

      Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Intimidate
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 108 HP / 156 Atk / 28 Def / 12 SpD / 204 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Earthquake
      - Rock Slide
      - U-turn
      - Superpower

      KOs 4HP Hydreigon with Superpower
      Outspeeds Mega-Gengar with choice scarf
      Survives +1 Life Orb Bisharp Sucker Punch

      Oh hey! That one Pokémon that’s used on almost every team! I wonder if there’s a reason for that. Well there is! Landorus-T is almost too good of a Pokémon. With access to intimidate, base 145 Attack and amazing coverage for the metagame, there’s no surprise that this Pokémon is used on over half of the teams. I wanted to use a less common Landorus set at nationals but this team lacked speed and didn’t have a lot of options for Kangaskhan due to that. I figured Choice Scarf was going to be the best option to fix that issue, and it definitely was. A fast Landorus paired with the multiple forms of speed control gave me options outside of the speed control options to still outspeed my opponents and apply a lot of offensive pressure. Another thing that Landorus was able to bring to this team that ended up saving my butt in a lot of situations was Intimidate. With Intimidate, my team immediately is able to do a lot of insane things defensively that wouldn’t have been possible without it. Because of this, it allowed my team to be much more flexible and get out of sticky situations.
      The Tournament - Day 1
      At the start of the first day of the tournament, I was a nervous wreck. I had never cut a National tournament prior to this year and I knew that if I wanted to qualify for Worlds, I had to play my best for the entirety of the tournament to make day 2, which was no small task. Going into the tournament, I tried to keep a different mindset before each of my matches. In the past, I always seemed to let losses get to me and affect how I play in future rounds. This always resulted in me not playing my best and translated to preventable losses. Going into this tournament though, I tried to stay as confident as possible, set my goals high, and to not expect to do great. This allowed me to look at each game positively and not get too down on myself if I were to lose, which was absolutely huge for a best-of-3 tournament where losing a game could ruin your mentality halfway through a set.
      Round 1 [0-0]: Martin Gajdosz (ThunderRaikou22)

      Going into this match, I immediately had an advantage due to his mega being Venusaur. Typically a Venusaur team’s goal is to set up Venusaur to lock up games. Due to the fact that my mega was Charizard and I had a lot of speed control, it was tough for Martin to set up his Venusaur late game. He put me in some weird spots and played pretty well.

      Win 2-0 [1-0]
      Round 2 [1-0]: Mark Hanson (Crawdaunt)

      Prior to Nationals, I knew I needed answers to this exact team because it’s a very good Swiss team that has a lot of offensive pressure and I didn’t want to fall victim to it. Going into this match, I knew I had a pretty solid matchup. My Charizard’s ability to Tailwind really payed off and my fairly speedy Sylveon really did work in this match.
      Game 1 he didn’t bring Terrakion which surprised me, so anticipating this, I brought Landorus-T game 2. This practically sealed the game for me as he didn’t bring rain and brought Terrakion and Thundurus instead.

      Win 2-0 [2-0]
      Round 3 [2-0]: Patrick Ball (PBall0010)

      Prior to sitting down, I tried to think of what I could do against Patrick matchup wise. I knew Pat had been using the Charizard / Sylveon / Landorus-T core for nearly the entire season and that it wasn’t a great matchup for me. I had Rock Tomb on Conkeldurr for matchups like these, but the fact that he had Aegislash and Cresselia in addition to Sylveon really limited Conkeldurr and forced me to not bring it.
      I lost game 1 because I didn’t play to my win condition and Pat played better.
      Game 2 I got an early lead by KOing his Charizard turn 1 by correctly calling a Protect from his Hydreigon which was expecting my Landorus to superpower it. After this, I just rode my momentum to comfortably take game 2.
      Game 3 Pat didn’t really bring the right pokemon and it sort of bit him in the butt. I got an early KO on his Sylveon that he lead and got to paralyze his Hydreigon. What the match came down to was his Landorus locked into rock slide and Wide Guard Aegislash at full versus my +2 Aegislash at 30HP and Landorus that were both faster than Pat’s corresponding Pokémon. On the turns I decided to be bold enough with my Aegislash to attack his Aegislash, I first flinched from his rock slide which was then followed by him missing my Aegislash which was at the time, at around 10HP. Really unfortunate way to win it, but the flinch did happen so it sort-of-not-really balances it out.

      Win 2-1 [3-0]
      Round 4 [3-0]: Kolby Golliher (LoveTrain)

      As soon as I saw team preview I knew I was going to have a tough time with this set. I really hate playing against Talonflame + Kanga + another Fighting weakness due to Talonflame’s ability to knock out my Conkeldurr before I can even Mach Punch.
      Game 1 Kolby lead Kangaskhan Smeargle and I came prepared (but not really) with Thundurus and Landorus. I was fortunate enough that Kolby used Tailwind first turn instead of Dark Void. After that, I was able to just Taunt the Smeargle and make it worthless and unable to use Dark Void until it switched out. After that, I was able to Thunder Wave things and slowly build back my momentum, taking game 1 very convincingly.
      Game 2 I knew that if he was going to be playing Smeargle cleverly, he wasn’t going to bring a counter lead to what my best lead against Kangaskhan Smeargle is. And he did just that by leading Kangaskhan and Landorus-T which just completely ran through my team.
      Game 3 he did the same thing and 100% outplayed me. Most people hate on Smeargle but Kolby played it very well in games 2 and 3. Because of Smeargle in team preview, it limited a lot of my options lead wise, and he was able to capitalize off of that completely.

      Loss 1-2 [3-1]
      Round 5 [3-1]: Justin Stipe (Panko)

      Going into this match, I knew Justin was testing a lot with a fun combo using the move Round. The way the mechanic works, the second user of Round moves right after the first and has the power of the move doubled. This meant that Sylveon could get some really strong attacks off against unsuspecting victims. I wasn’t having any of that, and played knowing he was likely going to test the waters with it game 1.
      Game 1 I got a free Thunder Wave off on his Salamence as he doubled into my King's Shielding Aegislash, and that gave me enough momentum to clean up the rest of the game fairly handily.
      Game 2 I lead with Sylveon and Thundurus knowing that I could put a lot of pressure on his Salamence, which I assumed to be fully special, and could potentially get me into an amazing position from the very start. He lead with Blaziken and Sylveon so I was glad I didn’t stick with the Aegislash from game 1. Once I took out his Blaziken, Tyranitar and Thundurus sort of cleaned up the remainder of his Pokémon.

      Win 2-0 [4-1]
      Round 6 [4-1]: Matthew Jackson

      Once team preview came up I already wasn't feeling great about the match. Talonflame + Kangaskhan + Fighting weakness seemed to be a trend among my Swiss rounds. However this matchup was much worse due to Bisharp limiting my lead options as it was very risky to lead Landorus, which helps with Talonflame and Kangaskhan. I really don’t remember much about this match, but I remember having to dance around his Talonflame quite a lot. Once it went down, it was smooth sailing from there

      Win 2-0 [5-1]
      Round 7 [5-1]: Chris Danzo (Lunar)

      Prior to this tournament I had only heard about how solid of a player Chris is. I’ve actually never seen him play in a serious setting before, and boy was I in for a trip. Chris threw me for loop after loop with his highly aggressive playstyle and after I figured that out immediately from the first turn of our set, it made for a crazy couple of games.
      Game 1 was fairly clean and close. My Thundurus ended up surviving a Sucker Punch and a Flare Blitz from his Bisharp and Talonflame respectively with only 4HP and was able to get an early KO on his Talonflame. After that, I had a lot of options and was able to clean up carefully.
      Game 2 was stupid and we should have gone to a third. I ended up getting a critical hit on his Talonflame with my Charizard’s Flamethrower which 100% sealed the game since I was forced to switch in my Conkeldurr in the following turn as it was my only Pokémon left. His Gardevoir got fully paralyzed twice as it was, I assume, attacking my Charizard with Psychic. I didn’t deserve to take the set 2-0 as Chris played really well and I got lucky but that’s how it turns out sometimes. Nothing but respect for Chris, very well played.

      Win 2-0 [6-1]
      Round 8 [6-1]: Jake Muller (MajorBowman)

      This match was streamed! You can watch it below thanks to Pokémon streaming the games and Eiganjo for uploading the set to YouTube!

      I was very sad to see I was playing my friend Jake in the eighth round of Swiss as we both needed Day 2 to confirm our Worlds invites and I wanted both of us to make it there if possible. While it was possible, the loser would have to play at 6-2 in the last round of Swiss and a loss in that match would result in being knocked out of top cut.
      Game 1 was pretty gross. I played way too risky and brought the wrong Pokémon. I left both of my Pokémon open to being flinched and possibly KO'd. Jake got a KO on my Landorus as I flinched with Charizard which was trying to pick up a KO his Charizard. Got destroyed after that.
      Game 2 I had a bit of a poor lead matchup due to Jake deciding to bring Kangaskhan. I just tried to get as much damage on things as possible and set up for some late game KOs with Landorus. After I got a lot of chip damage on his Thundurus and Sylveon and KO his Landorus, my Landorus was able to get a double KO with a Helping Hand boosted Rock Slide, locking up the game.
      Game 3 I started pretty strong by immediately knocking Jake’s Landorus down to very low red health with an HP Ice as he also got some very solid damage off on my Thundurus. After the Landorus was heavily damaged, I was able to send in Sylveon and limit a lot of Jakes switches. He couldn’t switch in anything to comfortably take a Hyper Voice because he opted to not bring Aegislash. After his Landorus was gone, Charizard was able to do big damage to the remainder of his team and Landorus was able to beat whichever mega he had in back, which ended up being Charizard. I hit my Rock Slide and locked up the game, securing Day 2!
      Great games, Jake.

      Win 2-1 [7-1]
      Round 9 [7-1]: Aaron Liebersbach (Arch)
      I told Aaron that I promised Jake I would try my hardest to win the next game. He said he knew Jake and was kind enough to give me the win to help Jake make Top 64 in case he lost. Jake did end up losing his last round, but still got Top 64 to secure his invite so it paid off!

      Win 0-0 [8-1]
      Day 2
      I ended up doing what I thought was impossible; I managed to top cut nationals! I knew that if I wanted to 100% lock up my worlds invitation, I had to get top 32. Which seemed very reasonable considering it was only a top cut of only 38 (technically 37 in rankings, hi Ian!). Going into Day 2, I tried not to expect too much from it. I wanted to be very cautious of my attitude as to not completely bomb and miss Worlds. Of course, I wanted to do the best I could, but I knew that I was going to be perfectly content with only making it as far as Top 32.
      Round 1 [0-0]: Raphael Bagara (Rapha) [2nd Place]

      Going into this first round, I wanted to start strong so I wouldn’t have to worry about needing wins later on in the Swiss rounds. I knew the matchup was in my favor and I just needed to play around his Heatran properly to seal up a win.
      Game 1: I can’t quite remember how this game went down, but I know that I ended up putting a lot of pressure on his Landorus and Thundurus which allowed my Sylveon to sort of clean up after his Heatran was paralyzed.
      Game 2: His Thundurus and Gardevoir went crazy on me and I let him get a lot of chip damage off that came back to bite me in the end game.
      Game 3: Raphael ended up setting up Trick Room, which allowed my Conkeldurr and Sylveon to run through his team.

      Win 2-1 [1-0]
      Round 2 [1-0]: Evan Bates (Veteran Padgett) [14th Place]

      I know Evan from the local Dallas scene. This isn’t the first time I’ve played him so I kind of knew what to expect in terms of his play style.
      Game 1 I knew that Kangaskhan was the biggest threat on his team so I immediately paralyzed it, which ended up really paying off as it got fully paralyzed twice during the duration of our match. After his Kangaskhan was paralyzed I was able to clean up with Conkeldurr fairly easily, but the two full paralyses on Kangaskhan really saved me.
      Game 2 I had to tackle differently and not bank on full paralysis to get by. He changed things up by bringing Noivern to game 2, which barely missed a KO on my Conkeldurr with Hurricane and immediately went down to an Ice Punch. Conkeldurr was able to put a lot of things in KO range for attacks from Charizard and Aegislash, which ended up narrowly securing a win.

      Win 2-0 [2-0]
      Round 3 [2-0]: Kolby Golliher (LoveTrain) [13th Place]

      I ended up getting paired against my only loss in Swiss from day 1, so I had to approach this set very carefully in order to take a win.
      Game 1 can be perfectly summed up in the first 2 turns. I lead Thundurus Landorus as he leads Kangaskhan Smeargle. He fakes out my Thundurus as I try to Taunt and Rock Slide him, doing about 45% to Smeargle. He doesn’t flinch, misses my Landorus with Dark Void, and gets an Evasion boost and a Defense drop from Moody. My Landorus is able to connect with Rock Slide despite Smeargle being at +2 Evasion, and thanks to the defense drop, Smeargle was knocked out. After that, some paralysis happened and that “cleaned up” game 1 in one of the grossest matches of Pokémon I’ve seen in a long time.
      Game 2 I was ready for him to not lead Kangaskhan Smeargle, so I led accordingly and was able to get a straightforward win as he didn’t bring Talonflame, making things much easier for me.

      Win 2-0 [3-0]
      Round 4 [3-0]: Angel Miranda (CT MikotoMisaka) [6th Place]

      Knowing I had clinched Top 32, I was happy with whatever was to happen in the following rounds. I saw that I got paired up against Angel and I got excited. Angel is a very solid player that always manages to use very creative teams that never fail to impress. However, he’s never really had too many stellar performances outside of this season so I was glad to see him at 3-0 on day 2.
      Game 1 was pretty straightforward but had a lot of momentum shifts. Turn 1 Angel revealed his Landorus-T carried Earth Power, which made me assume it also had a Rock move and Hidden Power Ice. This helped me later on in the set. Angel also revealed that his Aegislash was faster than mine on the first turn, which was quite surprising but very nice to note. I ended up sealing up game 1 by setting up Tailwind with Charizard and cleaning up swiftly with Sylveon as it outsped his Tyranitar and others under Tailwind.
      Game 2 Angel completely overpowered me with his team’s offense and made a very impressive read and Hidden Powered my Charizard as I switched to Landorus, sealing the game.
      Game 3 I was able to get a quick KO on his Landorus with my Thundurus early on, which freed up my Charizard a lot. Towards the end of the game, I was hesitant to mega evolve my Charizard so I could wait to set up the sun after he sent in his Tyranitar. I ended up calling a switch and double targeted his Aegislash with Flamethrower and Thunder Wave as he switched to Tyranitar, virtually sealing up the game.
      Great set, Angel.

      Win 2-1 [4-0]
      Round 5 [4-0]: Hayden McTavish (Enigne) [5th Place]

      This set was recorded! Thanks to Team Rocket Elite, this set is on YouTube here:
      Game 1

      Game 2

      Game 3

       
       
      Hayden is someone I didn’t really know too well but have a lot of respect for. I’ve seen a few of his matches before and I know he can play really well and always has some interesting teams, which made me excited to see what I was in store for.
      Game 1 I knew that I had a rough matchup against Salamence / Cresselia / Heatran, and it wasn’t going to be easy if I was going to beat Hayden. I kinda got destroyed game 1 as his Cresselia just sat around and I couldn’t do much to it.
      Game 2 I played Thundurus the best I could as it was my win condition for the entirety of the game. I had to slow down Hayden’s team and set up for Conkeldurr and Aegislash to clean up. Unfortunately for Hayden, I got a very timely full paralysis on his Heatran which allowed me to take game 2.
      Game 3 I let Hayden get a solid start by getting a free switch into his Aegislash. I anticipated his Salamence to switch in, so I used Hidden Power on his Rotom’s slot, but he brought out Aegislash instead. I started to gain some momentum in the middle of the game as I switched in my Aegislash into a Shadow Sneak from Hayden’s Aegislash, activating my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy. After Hayden KO'd my Thundurus, I was able to set up a Tailwind with Charizard to put myself in a very good position. I knocked out his Choice Scarf Rotom-W with Solar Beam, leaving his Salamence up against my Charizard and Aegislash. Unfortunately, Hayden was able to KO my Charizard on the same turn I KO'd his Rotom and my Aegislash then went down to an Earthquake, sealing the set for Hayden.

      Loss 1-2 [4-1]
      Round 6 [4-1]: Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) [8th Place]

      This set was streamed! Thanks to Pokémon for streaming it and Eiganjo for uploading it, this set is on YouTube here:

      This set was pretty crazy and full of luck on both sides. If I wanted to guarantee my spot in the Top 8, I would have to take this win, which was no small task as Wolfe is easily one of the best players in the country. I knew that Wolfe really likes to preserve his Pokémon whenever he can and control the positioning of his Pokémon defensively, so calling those switches and defensive set ups was going to be very key in taking the win here.
      Game 1 got off to an unfortunate start as I burned his Kangaskhan with Flamethrower. As the match progressed, I was able to set it up to where all Wolfe had left was his Landorus and Heatran, both at full health but Landorus was intimidated and Heatran was Paralyzed, versus my Conkeldurr and Charizard. I made a pretty risky and unsafe play and just went for the Drain Punch on Wolfe’s Heatran. I saw that his Heatran didn’t protect so I was ecstatic that I had the game locked up as long as I didn’t flinch, which I unfortunately did with both Conkeldurr and Charizard, losing me the game. It’s Pokémon, and I could have possibly gotten around that by just Mach Punching his Heatran instead of Drain Punching, so I guess I was asking for it there.
      Going into game 2 I had to get rid of Wolfe’s Milotic as fast as possible to set up my Landorus and Conkeldurr to be in a great spot to clean up the remainder of his team. I tried to focus on that going into this game, hoping it would pay off. This game started off pretty roughly as Wolfe got an early Scald burn on my Conkeldurr, which limited a lot of what I could do. I had to completely change the way  my Conkeldurr played in the set from a Pokémon that was picking up KOs to something that was putting on bits of chip damage for the rest of my team. I was eventually able to KO his Landorus, which allowed me to potentially clean up his team with Landorus as long as his Heatran wasn’t behind a Substitute. Wolfe saw that as his only option but I was able to call the Substitute and went for a Drain Punch on his Heatran as his Heatran went for Substitute and his Kangaskhan protected itself. This then allowed my Landorus to swiftly clean up the remainder of Wolfe’s team, sealing game 2.
      Game 3 was pretty gross as I got handily outplayed and forced into some weird positions. My Conkeldurr once again got burned from Scald but Wolfe set himself up really well the entire game and easily took it.

      Loss 1-2 [4-2]
      Top 8 [5th Seed]: Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) [8th Place]

      This set was recorded! Thanks to Team Rocket Elite, this set is on YouTube here:
      Game 1

      Game 2

      Game 3

      After my match against Wolfe in Swiss, I noticed that I wasn’t capitalizing on Wolfe’s switches enough and that was really hurting me because he was able to set up better board positioning very quickly. If I wanted to advance into the Top 4, I was going to have to punish those switches even harder and make some very risky plays to come out on top.
      Game 1 I opted to bring Aegislash instead of Thundurus, which seemed to be a much better idea because my team was much less prone to flinching from Rock Slide. This would free up a lot of breathing room during the set. I was able to get up an early Tailwind but at the expense of Wolfe getting up a Substitute with his Heatran, which immediately slowed me down. I ended up calling his switch from Landorus into Milotic and doubled that slot with Solarbeam and Shadow Ball, taking out the Milotic. Landorus was able to intimidate his Kangaskhan after it replaced the fallen Milotic and my Aegislash got knocked out, which put a lot of pressure on Wolfe’s Heatran. Unfortunately for him, he missed a Heat Wave on my Landorus in the sun which could have set him up for a Sucker Punch or a Rock Slide KO later on in the game. After that, I was able to clean up with Landorus and Conkeldurr to take game 1.
      After seeing the leads in game 2, I figured Wolfe would go for the Rock Slide to take out my Charizard and score huge damage on my Thundurus. I risked a possible flinch to set up a Tailwind, which I managed to set up at the expense of taking huge damage with my Charizard and Landorus. I make a somewhat bold play and go for the Earthquake against Wolfe’s -1 Kangaskhan and Landorus as he switches out his Landorus into Heatran. Getting rid of the Heatran was huge for me as it took out a huge defensive pivot on his team, which allowed me to attack without worrying about it switching in later in the game. Seeing as my Landorus was locked into Earthquake against a Landorus and a Kangaskhan, I decided to switch out my Landorus into Thundurus, which unfortunately got KOd due to Wolfe’s Kangaskhan’s Return scoring a critical hit on both hits. After that, I didn’t have Thundurus there to really help support the team speed-wise, and that made this match much harder to lock up. Everything seemed to be doable but I then missed a Rock Slide on his Milotic as I was also Ice Punched his Kangaskhan that switched into Landorus. Had that rock slide hit and KOd, I would have had the game won, not much else I could have done in the moment.
      Game 3 was a bit crazy and I had a few lucky breaks towards the end of the game. I started off the game strong by doubling Wolfe’s Kangaskhan, expecting his Landorus to switch out or U-Turn anticipating a Wide Guard from my Aegislash. Because of this, I was able to KO his Kangaskhan, but my Charizard took roughly 90% in the process. I was then able to set up a Tailwind which let me take a lot of control of the match after Wolfe activated my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy. I managed to take out his Heatran thanks to the help of the Tailwind, which set myself up very nicely for the rest of the match and made it to where I didn’t have to worry about Heatran being able to fire off sun-boosted Heat Waves left and right. I was able to get an Ice Punch off on Wolfe’s Landorus, which survived since Conkeldurr had been intimidated. After that I should have gone for the Mach Punch to not risk the flinch but opted for Ice Punch while I unfortunately flinched. After Aegislash getting a double King’s Shield and dodging Wolfe’s Landorus' Rock Slide, I was able to get a Shadow Ball off onto Milotic, which sealed up the game for me.
      Win 2-1; Advancing to top 4
      Great games, Wolfe. Really unfortunate that we couldn’t have a clean set, see you at Worlds!
      Top 4: Raphael Bagara (Rapha) [2nd Place]

      I’m not even going to lie here. I was completely dead after my matches with Wolfe and that resulted in me not making the best plays I could have. Raphael was on top of it all and outplayed me completely.
      Game 1 I let Raphael get a KO on my Sylveon on turn 1 in exchange for his Thundurus being taunted. Not a great start. It was incredibly difficult to come back from that and I kind of got stomped.
      Game 2 I was falling behind but I was able to catch back up because Raphael activated my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy which let me KO his Heatran, sealing the game.
      Game 3 I lost a lot of momentum early on because I didn’t play around his Gardevoir and Heatran too well. I had a very obscure win condition in the end game if I could double flinch Raphael's Pokemon with Rock Slide two times in a row in addition to my Sylveon attacking through Swagger and paralysis. I got the double flinch on the first turn and one flinch on the next, but I needed both to flinch if I wanted a chance.
      Loss 1-2; Eliminated from tournament
      Closing Thoughts
      Prior to this year, I had never cut a national tournament before. I knew that I had the potential to but for some reason I always lost my drive halfway through the tournament. This year though, I had a very healthy mindset going through the entire event. If I ever lost a game, I never let it get to me and was able to shake it off quickly before my next round. Another thing that I did at this event that I don’t think I’ve ever done before is do a few breathing exercises in-between rounds and individual games. This allowed me to calm down and get the nerves out of my system so I could really focus on the match. I couldn’t be happier with how I performed at Nationals. I felt like I was playing my best during a large majority of my games, which I can’t regret in any way.
      Shout-outs
      Ben Irons (Benji): Hey we did it! We both qualified for worlds on the same year finally. So happy you were able to finally cut Nationals for the first along side me and Collin, seeing us both succeed really made this Nationals special. Also thank you for helping me iron out team ideas, I wouldn’t have used that Thundurus if you didn’t talk me into it.
      Oliver Valenti (Smith): Thank you for hyping me up to everybody and saying I’m good even though I suck. Stop lying to people. But seriously, thanks for being a great friend and helping me out with teams at your house with Toler, it really helped.
      Toler Webb (Dim): Oh man. You did it! Couldn’t be happier that you won and I’m so happy for you. Thank you so much for helping so much with my team the week of Nationals and keeping me calm. I would have been even more of a nervous wreck had you not been there to help me out, I really appreciate it.
      Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom): You’re a weirdo but you’re amazing at Pokémon, so keep it up. I’m glad you were able to cut Nationals for the first time and go deep as well.
      David Mancuso (Mancuso): Thank you so much for letting me stay in your room. Sorry for hogging the bed, but giving me a place to stay made this weekend possible.
      The rest of The Boiler Room: For anybody else that I didn’t mention, you all know how much you mean to me. Thank you to all of you for being there when I needed it and helping me out with whatever it is whenever I need it. I wouldn’t have done so well at Nationals without all of you people.
      Article image created by ryuzaki and used with permission by Nugget Bridge. See more of ryuzaki’s artwork on deviantART.
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