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Graduation Day: 2012 Seniors National Championship & 2013 Philadelphia Masters Runner-Up Team Analysis

blog-aaronzhengphilly.pngGreetings everyone! My name is Aaron Zheng, and I'm a big fan of Pokémon! I've been playing VGC since it started in 2008, and I've qualified for 3 World Championships in the 5 years I've played. I'm not going to bore you with a long introduction, so let's get started right away. The team I will be analyzing in this article is the team I used to win the 2012 Pokémon VGC US National Championships in the Senior Division this past summer. Variants of it have also performed very well last season, such as Wolfe Glick's 1st Place finish at US Nationals in the Masters division, Kamran Jahadi's 5th place finish at Worlds in the Seniors Division and Brendan Zheng's 3rd place finish at Worlds in the Juniors division. I recently placed 5th in the 2012 Autumn Friendly with it.

The team also swept varous Regionals throughout the country this past weekend: Kamran Jahadi (kamz) won over in San Jose Regionals with it in the Masters Division, Brendan Zheng (Babbytron) won on the other side of the country at the Philadelphia Regionals with it in the Juniors Division, Edward Fan (iss) finished in the Top 4 at Philadelphia with it, and of course, yours truly piloted it to a 2nd place finish in the largest and arguably most competitive Regional in the country in my first tournament in the Masters division. Let's get onto the actual analysis!

Team Building

I think one of the most important parts about a team analysis is how the player built the team, so I'll talk briefly about how I constructed my team. It started all the back in May after I placed 3rd in the 2012 Spring Philadelphia Regionals. Nationals was approaching, and I had no more good teams or ideas left. I found myself constantly laddering on Pokémon Online with my Regionals team, consisting of Hitmontop, Tyranitar, Garchomp, Volcarona, Zapdos, and Cresselia. However, I was not pleased with it at all and knew it would not do well at a National level tournament. I also didn’t like the team as it was overly offensive, leaving me with few options in terms of battling.

In the meantime, my very good friend Wolfe Glick (better known as the following: super Pokenob, 2x US Masters National Champion, 2012 Worlds Masters Runner-up, or Wolfey) and I often had practice matches, mainly for him to practice his Nationals team. He used some really weird stuff in those matches, like Expert Belt Hidden Power Fire Cresselia and Psycho Shift Togekiss, but he would also beat me around 75% of the time. After losing to him over and over again, I realized I had to focus and actually get a team for Nationals. But where do I even start? It would take a miracle for me to build a team for Nationals in time.

I finally got a spark of inspiration after videos of Korean Nationals took place. Although 2012 was only Korea's 2nd year participating in VGC, there are some incredibly talented players there, most notably Sejun Park (2011 Worlds Seniors Runner-up and 2012 Worlds Masters 5th Place). Their metagame is also very different from the American metagame. I have a few Korean VGC friends who were able to link me to the final matches there. This proved to be incredibly helpful as most of the American players did not have access to these matches, allowing me to keep my team a secret.

I noticed that Wonseok Jang, their National Champion, used a really interesting team with Choice Specs Cresselia, bulky Thundurus, Dual Chop Life Orb Garchomp, Focus Sash Volcarona, Hitmontop, and Ferrothorn. I took the team to PO and changed his LO Garchomp to the Yache Garchomp I had used at Regionals as I felt more comfortable with it. I instantly fell in love with the team. However, as I continued to play, I realized that I didn’t like how my only Steel-type Pokémon was Ferrothorn because it isn’t nearly as offensive as the others in this metagame (Metagross, Scizor, Heatran). I built the team on Wi-Fi, and although it won the majority of its battles, I still wasn't comfortable with it.

In the meantime, I continued to practice with Wolfe and he commented on how we ended up with similar teams despite not working with each other at all. After a couple of games, he showed me just how strong of a Pokémon Swords Dance Scizor was. He gave me his EV spread and moveset, and I knew it was the perfect replacement for the Ferrothorn I was struggling to use. I finally had an answer to stuff like Metagross and Cresselia, and the pure power of a +2 Steel Gem Bullet Punch is absolutely fantastic.

My team looked something like this now: Choice Specs Cresselia, bulky Calm Thundurus, standard Hitmontop, standard Garchomp, Volcarona, and Swords Dance Scizor. Despite using Volcarona on my Regionals team, I found that it barely did anything for me. I honestly just could not find a replacement for it and finally decided that Tyranitar would probably fit the team better. At this point, Wolfe's team and mine had very minimal differences. We had a couple of different EV spreads and movesets, but the playstyle was pretty much the same. I still didn't feel very confident going into Nationals, especially since I went something like 2-6 in practice battles the day beforehand, but the team clearly worked!

I think I've bored you enough with how I built my team. Let's take a look at it!

The Team

445.png

Garchomp @ Yache Berry

Trait: Sand Veil

EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd

Jolly Nature (+Spd, -SAtk)

- Earthquake

- Rock Slide

- Dragon Claw

- Protect

As you can see, this Garchomp is as standard as it gets. Despite being standard, I did not find the need to use any unique EV spreads such as a bulky Haban spread. I did not find other Dragon-type Pokémon as a major threat since I had so many different checks to them. I also used Wonseok's Life Orb Dual Chop spread for a while, but I did not like the fact Dual Chop could actually miss, and the LO damage wasn't adding anything significant. In the end, I just stuck with a classic Jolly 252/252 Yache spread. I contemplated using Substitute and Swords Dance over Rock Slide and Protect, but I really disliked facing Volcarona and kept this set. Keeping Rock Slide also gave me an out to sticky situations with the chance to flinch my opponents and can be incredibly useful when paired with Thundurus's Thunder Wave.  Yache Berry saved me from random Ice-type attacks, and it proved its worth against Paul Chua during the semi-finals of Nationals this year, where his Gastrodon got a critical hit with its Ice Beam and Garchomp hung on with 24 HP. And we all know just how annoying Sand Veil can be... Overall, Garchomp had great synergy with the team and I found that he worked well with all the other 5 Pokémon on my team.

237.png

Hitmontop @ Fight Gem

Trait: Intimidate

EVs: 244 HP / 208 Atk / 8 Def / 48 Spd

Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)

- Fake Out

- Wide Guard

- Sucker Punch

- Close Combat

Wolfe and I both struggled to find a 6th Pokémon for our team in testing: I stuck with Hitmontop while he used a Choice Scarf Chandelure. Hitmontop is a fantastic Pokémon because it provides the team with both Fake Out and Intimidate support, which cannot be found on any other Pokémon in the metagame. Fake Out allowed me to use Icy Wind, Thunder Wave, and Swords Dance more comfortably and often would give me a huge advantage coming out of turn one. Wide Guard was there for attacks like Heat Wave, Earthquake, Rock Slide, Surf, and Blizzard. Sucker Punch allowed me to hit Pokémon like Chandelure and Latios, and Close Combat was obviously his strongest means of offense and offered nice coverage overall, allowing me to hit Pokémon like Tyranitar and Rotom-W with no problem. In the end, Hitmontop hurt me more than it helped me at Nationals as I lost both games I used him in Swiss, but I'm still very pleased with the various options it offers the team.

248.png

Tyranitar @ Chople Berry

Trait: Sand Stream

EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spd

Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)

- Rock Slide

- Crunch

- Low Kick

- Protect

Similar to Garchomp and Hitmontop, this Tyranitar is really as standard as it gets. I would have liked to move 36 EVs from Attack to Defense to ensure it would always survive a Metagross' Meteor Mash, but in the end, it did not affect me in either tournament I used this team in. I have seen so many different items used on Tyranitar, such as Dark Gem, Focus Sash, Leftovers, and Sitrus Berry, but I stuck with the classic Chople Berry. The EVs were just to ensure max durability and strength, and with Sandstorm up, he was a specially defensive tank against moves such as Latios' and Hydreigon's Draco Meteor. I didn't use anything special like Fire Punch, Avalanche, Dragon Dance, or Substitute just because I  liked having more coverage and didn't feel the need to have moves that were used only in certain situations.

642.png

Thundurus (M) @ Sitrus Berry

Trait: Prankster

EVs: 196 HP / 60 SAtk / 252 SDef

Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk)

- Thunderbolt

- Thunder Wave

- Taunt

- Hidden Power [ice]

This is where we begin to see the more interesting parts of the team. Bulky Thundurus was something unheard of before Ray Rizzo (Ray) used a Bold Thundurus to win the 2011 World Championships. I took a very simple but effective spread that allowed me to always survive a Timid Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from Latios, which is pretty much as powerful as special attacks go. The rest of the EVs were dumped into Special Attack to do maximum damage. Sitrus Berry was an incredible item, as it would often heal me back to over 30% after incredibly strong attacks such as Draco Meteor. In fact, against Paul Chua in the semi-finals of Nationals this year, Thundurus was able to tank a Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from Salamence, heal its health, and survive a second Draco Meteor the following turn. The bulk was absolutely fantastic, and it would often take multiple shots to take Thundurus down. Thunderbolt is a self explanatory move. Thunder Wave, in combination with Garchomp and Tyranitar's Rock Slide, allowed me to both control Speed and have some hax factor. Taunt was the one move I was debating on, but it proved very helpful as it prevented my opponents from using moves like Trick Room and Protect. I chose Hidden Power Ice over Flying because I really needed a way to hit Dragon-type Pokémon, most notably Garchomp. Overall, Thundurus plays a huge role on the team, and I find that I use it in 95% of my matches.

212.png

Scizor @ Steel Gem

Trait: Technician

EVs: 172 HP / 252 Atk / 84 Spd

Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)

- Bullet Punch

- Bug Bite

- Swords Dance

- Protect

Scizor is hands down the strongest part of this team. As I said previously, I originally struggled to find a good replacement for Ferrothorn, but Scizor had everything I wanted: a bulky Pokémon that could switch into various attacks and hit most of the metagame for massive damage. Swords Dance is what really made it unique. Although setup moves are uncommon in VGC, Scizor was able to take advantage of Swords Dance because of the multiple resistances and bulk it had. When I realized my opponent had no good way to hit Scizor with their two Pokémon, I would bring it in, set up a Swords Dance, and proceed to sweep their team. I found the core of Cresselia and Metagross was incredibly difficult to face, but Scizor made it a lot easier to deal with both of them. After a Swords Dance, Steel Gem Bullet Punch would KO full health Pokémon such as Garchomp and Latios. Bug Bite allowed me to hit every other Pokémon for a ton of damage and often netted me Sitrus Berries. The Speed EVs were made to outspeed Metagross, Politoed, and Hitmontop with no speed investment. The Attack EVs are self explanatory, and the rest were dumped into HP. The HP EVs are actually super helpful as it allowed Scizor to live through 2 Garchomp Earthquakes. This allowed me to Earthquake and Swords Dance on the same turn, KOing both of my opponent's Pokémon and setting up to sweep any incoming Pokémon. Scizor is hard to use because of how weak it is to Fire-type attacks, but the trick is correctly assessing whether it can punch holes through your opponent's team and bringing it even if your opponent carries Pokémon with Fire-type attacks or realizing that it's probably better for it to just sit out a match. Although Hidden Power Fire Cresselia and Heatran became a lot more common after Nationals this year, I still really liked how powerful Scizor was, and it is my favorite Steel-type Pokémon of VGC 2012.

488.png

Cresselia (F) @ Choice Specs

Trait: Levitate

EVs: 132 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef / 120 Spd

Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk)

- Psyshock

- Icy Wind

- Hidden Power [Fire]

- Trick

And finally, we arrive at Choice Specs Cresselia. Offensive Cresselia was an incredibly bizarre idea prior to US Nationals, but it became a lot more common at Worlds this year. Choice Specs allowed it to do so much damage to pretty much anything that didn't resist it's attacks. Psyshock OHKOed Hitmontop and would often give me a huge 4-3 lead. It was also just a great offensive option, doing over 50% to even Gastrodon. Icy Wind hit Zapdos, Thundurus, Garchomp, Hydreigon, and Latios for massive damage and lowered their Speed. Speed control is huge on this team with Tyranitar and Scizor, and Icy Wind allowed me to weaken my opponents and slow them down before finishing them off with a sweeper. Hidden Power Fire was mainly there for Scizor, but it also allowed me to hit Metagross and Abomasnow more effectively. I chose Trick over Grass Knot / Energy Ball because I liked having the option to hamper my opponent's physical sweepers: especially Metagross. I did not end up using it at all at US Nationals but having the option was nice and worked out great in practice. The best thing about Choice Specs Cresselia is that it would always catch my opponents off guard and leave me with a huge advantage right off the bat. Kamran used Life Orb at Worlds and Regionals, and Wolfe used Expert Belt at Nationals. All three are excellent items, but I'm glad I stuck with Choice Specs for Nationals. Overall, she was definitely my favorite Pokémon in the VGC 2012 metagame, especially with this set.

Philadelphia Fall Regionals, 2013 Season

For Regionals, I made two minor but very important changes to the team that I would like to share with you. Since I did not have too much time to prepare for Regionals, I decided that I would just use my Nationals team for one last shot of glory since it is, in my opinion, the best team I have ever constructed. I kind of regret not using it at Worlds this year, but that's all in the past now. I used my experience from the 2012 Autumn Friendly to slightly edit my team in order to improve it.

237.png

Hitmontop @ Fight Gem

Trait: Intimidate

EVs: 244 HP / 208 Atk / 8 Def / 48 Spd

Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)

- Fake Out

- Wide Guard --> Stone Edge

- Sucker Punch

- Close Combat

I decided to replace Wide Guard for Stone Edge for two reasons:

1) I almost never used Wide Guard because any smart player would predict into it, wasting a turn for me.

2) I absolutely hated Volcarona for some reason, especially after a Quiver Dance. Since most Quiver Dance Volcarona carry Lum Berry, I would lead Hitmontop + Garchomp against Hitmontop + Volcarona leads, allowing me to get a KO with either Stone Edge or Rock Slide right away even if my opponent uses Fake Out, providing that the attack hits.

I only used Stone Edge once at Regionals against Daniel Litvin (TalkingLion). Since my Hitmontop was Burned from a Flame Body switch-in the previous turn, Stone Edge did not KO. However, it did do enough damage to help me win the game so I'm pleased with my decision overall. I contemplated using Feint or Detect, but as I did not do any testing between Worlds and Regionals, I decided Stone Edge was probably the safest move.

488.png

Cresselia (F) @ Choice Specs --> Expert Belt

Trait: Levitate

EVs: 132 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef / 120 Spd

Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk)

- Psyshock

- Icy Wind

- Hidden Power [Fire]

- Trick -->Protect

The two changes on Cresselia were minor but very significant. I knew that going into Regionals that anyone who has ever played me online would recognize my team immediately and associate my Cresselia with Choice Specs. I used this bluff to my advantage and switched Choice Specs to Expert Belt. Although I really liked the amount of damage Choice Specs allowed me to dish out, there were too many situations where my opponent would lock me into a move such as Psyshock against a Metagross and Cresselia and force me to either switch or let Cresselia faint. With Expert Belt, I was still able to do the damage I wanted to while getting a few more options with it. I had never used Expert Belt, so I was unconfident going into Regionals with it, but it proved very handy as I was able to switch between Icy Winds, Psyshocks, and HP Fires.

The second change was Trick to Protect. Without Choice Specs, there was no point in using Trick. I contemplated using Grass Knot / Energy Ball, Helping Hand, Protect, and even Skill Swap, but figured my safest option was Protect. Most players don't even expect Protect on Cresselia because there are a lot of better moves for it, but this played out great with my Choice Specs bluff. It also saved me in a ton of games at Regionals, so it was by far the most helpful switch. With Choice Specs, I found that Cresselia would often get one or two hits off before fainting. I was able to play a bit more defensively with Protect, and it offered me a lot more options. Definitely the most helpful and significant change I had made for Regionals.

Team Synergy

This is a tough section to write because all the Pokémon on the team worked really well with each other. With that being said, here are some of my favorite lead combinations.

642.png

Cresselia + Thundurus

This was by far my most common and effective lead. Offensive Cresselia and bulky Thundurus offer so many different options, and I would often use the first turn to figure out what my strategy for the rest of the game would be. Cresselia allowed me to blow holes through my opponent's team by getting surprise KOs right off the bat against Hitmontop. I also enjoyed the speed control the lead offered me as I could Icy Wind and Thunder Wave right from the start. This lead was very effective due to the amount of bulk and offensive they offered me. The goal with this lead isn't to start getting KOs right away but to put my opponent in a very tough spot by means of speed control. This would allow me to later bring in Tyranitar, Scizor, and Garchomp to get the KOs I needed. The only Pokémon that really gave this lead trouble was Tyranitar, but with my own Tyranitar, Scizor, Garchomp, and Hitmontop in the back, I could easily double switch. This lead was also really nice because of the fact it isn't affected by Intimidate at all. As I use 4 physical attackers, it was crucial to keep them safe in the back to do maximum damage. Overall, I probably ended up leading with these two 90% of all games I've played with this team because of the synergy and strength they offer.

237.png

Cresselia + Hitmontop

This is a combo that has been common ever since European Nationals. Fake Out support is great for Cresselia to use moves such as Thunder Wave, Icy Wind, and Trick Room. In my team's case, this allowed me to Fake Out a faster Pokémon such as Garchomp, Icy Wind, and KO it before it even gets a chance to attack the following turn. I did not like this lead back while I was using defensive Cresselia because the two don't offer very much offense, but with Choice Specs and Expert Belt, I could start attacking safely from the start. Hitmontop offered Intimidate support and hit Tyranitar and Volcarona for KOs, both of which threaten Cresselia. A common but safe and effective lead at the same time.

248.png

Cresselia + Offensive Sweeper

Cresselia is such a great Pokémon that she works well with any Pokémon on my team. Although Thundurus and Hitmontop were often used to slow down my opponent and gain momentum before sweeping with the rest of my team, I also enjoyed starting the game with a menacing sweeper right away. By having an offensive sweeper, my opponent would often panic and try to KO the sweeper right away. This allowed my to safely Protect while using Icy Wind with Cresselia, setting both Pokémon for a KO the following turn. My opponents would almost always target the sweeper and ignore Cresselia, leaving me with an excellent advantage right from the start.

445.png

Thundurus + Garchomp

Although I tend to use Cresselia as my lead in almost all my games, there are some times where Cresselia just can't do anything against my opponent, and I leave it out of the match. Thundurus and Garchomp was a great lead that works similarly to how the Cresselia and Thundurus lead works. Thundurus allows me to gain speed control from the start with Thunder Wave against Pokémon like Latios, while Garchomp hits Pokémon that threaten Thundurus with no problem. Leading with these two also allowed me to start Thunder Waving and Rock Sliding from the start, adding a beneficial hax factor to my team.

Closing Remarks

If you've made it this far and actually read the entire article, props to you! It's lengthy, but I think I gave a pretty good explanation on how the team works. I'd like to just make a few comments on the team in general before we conclude.

To start off, this is by far my favorite team of all time, and I think it is as good as a team can get in the VGC 2012 metagame that fits my playstyle. After my performance with it this weekend, I regret not using it at Worlds, but I'm still pleased to have represented Wolfe's team well in the Seniors division and place in the Top 8 in the world. I find that often after tournaments, I look back and see what I could have improved about my team. For this team, I was incredibly content both after Nationals and Regionals, and everything about it worked perfectly for me in both tournaments. That is, for me, the indication that I have reached a perfect team. No Pokémon team is ever truly perfect, but I was content with everything in my team.

Second of all, the strength of this team is unparalleled to any other team I've played or used in VGC 2012. I remember when Wolfe and I were practicing for Worlds... I beat Wolfe in like 8 out of 10 games using this team while he used our eventual Worlds team. When I played Kamran Jahadi Round 5 at Worlds this year, I knew his entire team since I had built it, but I still couldn't find a solid strategy to beat him. All 3 games in that set were won due to intense hax on both sides, but the fact that I knew my opponent's team down to every single moveset and EV shows just how powerful the team can be. Or maybe it just means I'm a bad player. Yeah, probably that...

Third of all, the team has so many options that it's hard to put into one article. While writing about the lead combinations I realized that I've used every Pokémon with every other Pokémon as a lead combination before. That just shows how many different modes the team can play in! I found that Cresselia and Thundurus was the safest, lead but I even used stuff like Garchomp/Tyranitar with Hitmontop and Thundurus in the back. It's all dependent on the opponent's team in the end.

Fourth of all, the team has really nice synergy overall, especially in terms of switching. I could switch Hitmontop into Tyranitar for Psychic-type attacks, Scizor into any Dark, Dragon, Steel, or Ice-type attack, Garchomp into Electric-type attacks (especially Thundurus's Thunder Wave!), Tyranitar into any special attack, etc. You can see just how well this team is able to switch in

of my 2012 National Finals against Jonathan Hiller (MrFox).

Fifth of all, the team dealt with hax quite well and was also able to have a hax factor. At Regionals, I had luck go against me in almost every Swiss match as I saw myself get paralyzed by Discharge and fully paralyzed for 3 turns, frozen by Blizzards out of Hail, burned by Scald when I would have won immediately without the burn, two Icy Wind misses in 2 turns, crits on a smart switch in, etc. I still won almost all of those battles because I was able to play smartly with the rest of the team and come back from a tough situation. There are just some situations where hax makes the game impossible to win, but this team handled it pretty well. I was also able to get hax on my side with the use of Rock Slide, Thunder Wave, and Sand Veil Garchomp. Although I do not like depending on hax to win a match, I will admit that having these factors on my team make it a lot easier to play when things go my way.

Finally, this team has an incredibly strong showing in tournaments as I have explained before. Personally, I went 6-2 with it at US Nationals in swiss, losing to Daniel Litvin (TalkingLion) and Caleb Ryor (BlitznBurst) due to timely critical hits on their side. In the top cut, I beat Jacob Burrows 2-0, Henry Maxon (Snake) 2-0, David Arnold 2-1, Paul Chua 2-1, and Jonathan Hiller 2-1 in the finals for a 5-0 best 2-of-3 record and an overall tournament record of 16-4. I recently placed 5th in the world in the 2012 Autumn Friendly with an overall record of 84-6. And just last weekend at Philadelphia Regionals, I went 7-1 with it in Swiss. I beat Patrick D. (Pd0nz) in Top 8 2-1, Enosh Shachar (Human) in Top 4 2-1, and lost to Matt Sybeldon (bearsfan092) in a very exciting finals 1-2 for a top cut record of 2-1 and an overall tournament record of 12-5. Variants of the team have performed consistently well in Nationals, Worlds, and Regionals, and I'm proud of how strong of an impact it made on the VGC 2012 metagame. First at US Nationals with it and second at the largest Regional in the country in Masters with it? I'll take it.

Anyway, I hope that provided some insight on one of the most successful teams in VGC 2012. I had a lot of fun using it and even more fun building it. You can even battle it next week in Pokémon Black / White 2 as Brendan will be a downloadable character in the Pokémon World Tournament! Thanks to Nugget Bridge for hosting my article and improving the VGC community one step at a time. Huge shoutout to Wolfe for helping me out with the team and allowing me to practice with him. I've had some really amazing games with this team, and last weekend's finals against Matt was nothing but incredible... congrats to him for taking down the team in a non-haxy best 2-of-3!

Beautiful people and beautiful Pokémon. See you all in Virginia this winter!


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      Pokémon Side event playmat
      VG players can choose their Entry Hat
      Wake up call on Day 2 if you make Top cut
      2 Dedicated Staff in Lounge
      Water & Snacks
      Cost: $90.00 + $30 Entry fee
      Platinum Level (very limited quantities)
      VIP Lounge area access (minors + 1 parent/guardian)
      VIP Reserved static seating for Swiss rounds
      AZ Regionals Messenger Bag
      $10 lunch voucher (valid inside the main event hall)
      $10 Vendor voucher
      Pokémon Side event playmat
      VG players can choose their Entry Hat
      Wake up call on Day 2 if you make Top cut
      2 Dedicated Staff in Lounge
      Water & Snacks
      + Sealed Booster box of STEAM SIEGE
      + Japanese Pokémon Sleeves (62-64 in pack)
      Cost: $140.00 + $30 Entry fee
      MASTERS there will be no Lunch break on Saturday/Sunday. Please plan accordingly. Seniors and Juniors will have a lunch break. This year there will be a Food Vendor inside our Main Hall. I would also highly recommend everyone bringing their own lunch bag. Last year the food locations around our event were crowded and had long lines. This year the Diamondbacks have a home game (both days), so it may be extremely crowded at any Food venue. Last year we had over 226 Masters, I do not want to run the risk of the Master division playing late into the night. My goal is to complete Day 1 Masters between 7pm-8pm at the latest. This of course is dependent on attendance and how long the rounds last.
      VG Tournament Details:
      Day 1:
      VG Tournament Rules & Formats Link for more details: http://www.pokemon.com/…/a…/tournaments-rules-and-resources/
      · Each age group will use Swiss rounds- this means all players get to play every round even if they lose every game. The number of Swiss rounds will be determined by the amount of players in each division. Swiss Rounds - Best 2 of 3.
      --->Top Cut: Will be played on Day 2
       Top Cut matches are Best of 3
       Top Cut is Single Elimination
       Swiss Rounds are Best of 1
      8 Players: 3 Swiss Rounds, Top 2 Cut
      9-16 Players: 4 Swiss Rounds, Top 4 Cut
      17-32 Players: 5 Swiss Rounds, Top 8 Cut
      33-64 Players: 6 Swiss Rounds, Top 8 Cut
      65-128 Players: 7 Swiss Rounds, Top 8 Cut
      129-226 Players: 8 Swiss Rounds, Top 8 Cut
      227-256 Players: 8 Swiss Rounds, Top 16 Cut
      · Players are restricted on what Pokémon can be used. Please check pokemon.com for the latest video game requirements.
      Day 2:
      · Top Cut: Determined by attendance, see above chart. Top Cut will be Single Elimination Finals, run as best-of-three matches, approx. 15 minutes PER GAME.
      WHAT ARE THE PRIZES for VG?
      http://www.pokemon.com/…/pokemon-to…/regional-championships/
      RAFFLES: Saturday (between 5pm -6pm, subject to change): You can check back on Sunday to see if you won!
      To be announced!
      Everyone who registers for the main event will get a Raffle Ticket. You can earn extra Raffle tickets thru the Side Events and also earn an extra ticket for every $30 spent in one transaction per Vendor at the tables in the main event area. (For example: If you spend $60 at the Vendor table, you would get 2 Raffle tickets, you cannot combine different vendor purchases). You must be present to win!
      Side Events
      Saturday starts at NOON Sunday starts at 8:30am
      All players will get a Raffle ticket for each event you play on Saturday. Prizes will be posted at the event.
      Most side events require an entry fee.
      Prize wall tickets will be awarded for each side event (excluding the LC and PC on Sunday).
      The prize wall closes on Sunday at 4 p.m. Prizes must be redeemed by that time (subject to change).
      See the side events area at the Arizona Regional Championships for more details.
      VG
      ALL DAY - 8 player tournaments – Standard VG Doubles or Singles - $5.00 entry
      ALL DAY - 8 player tournaments - Junior Division Only (doubles or singles) – Free (maximum of 2 free entries)
      Saturday- Time: TBA Little Cup singles - $10
      Saturday- Time: TBA Monotype doubles - $10
      Format details can be found here: http://www.pokemon.com/…/pl…/worlds/2016/side-events-format/
      Sunday -- Premier Challenge - –$10 entry (Championship points are the prizes for this event).
      Registration starts: 9am Registration ends: 10am
      POKKEN
      Saturday -ALL DAY - Play all day (no limit) with the purchase of a $5 wristband. Battle your friends, practice and have fun!!
      ----------------Please visit the POKKEN Sign up table for more information-----------------
      Sunday - 8:30am - Noon - Warm ups $5/Free if you purchased a Saturday wristband.
                      8:30am - Noon - Registration for the Pokken Tournament
                                  Entry Fee: $10 + Venue Fee: $5
                    12:30pm POKKEN TOURNAMENT
      Details: Double Elimination, visit the Pokken Sign up table for more information
      Prizes: TBA at the event
      POKEMON GO!
      There will be a SPECIAL TEAM SPECIFIC ITEM given to all players who sign up to compete in the Pokemon GO events. (supplies are limited)
      Entry fee: $6 per person per event below. Sign up for one or both.
      Saturday and Sunday: Sign up anytime after 8:30am and choose which event you want to compete.
      Basic - Sign up, pay the Entry fee, then come back to the Sign up table when your ready to start playing (no later than 3pm Saturday). We will log in your current Collector/Battle Girl numbers. You will play for 3 hours. We will note your Start time and the time you need to Check back in. (Saturday sign up ends at 3pm. Sunday sign up ends at Noon).
      You will be competing in these two categories. Try to win 1 or both!
      Collector - Increased # Captured Pokemon
      Battle Girl - Increased # Gym battles won
      Prizes* for each category:
      1st - $10 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Voucher.
      2nd - $10 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Voucher.
      Saturday: Basic winners will be announced shortly after 6pm. You may check on Sunday to see if your a winner.
      Sunday: Basic winners will be announced shortly after 3pm. You must be present to pick up your prize.
      Evolved - Sign up anytime after 8:30am. We will log in your current Jogger/Breeder numbers and you have until Noon on Sunday to check back in. Yes, this means if you sign up on Saturday you have alot more time to win in these categories below. Yes you are accumulating the information both Saturday and Sunday.
      You will be competing in these two categories. Try to win 1 or both!
      Jogger - Increased # steps walked
      Breeder - Increased # hatched eggs.
      Prizes* for each category:
      1st - $20 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Gift Card/Voucher.
      2nd - $20 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Gift Card/Voucher.
      3rd - $10 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Gift Card/Voucher.
      4th - $10 Google, ITunes or Regionals Vendor Gift Card/Voucher.
      Sunday: Evolved winners will be announced shortly after Noon. You must be present to pick up your prize.
      * There is a limited number of Google and ITunes cards available. Regional Vendor Gift vouchers will be given out as an choice or when all other cards are depleted.
      Sunday October 2nd
      Main event: TOP CUT TCG & TOP CUT VG
      (Side events will be going on ALL DAY too!)
      Where: Phoenix Convention Center, (South Building), 100 N 3rd St. Phoenix, AZ 85004
      All TCG and VG TOP CUT players CHECK IN: 8am
      (more details to follow)
      Side Events start at 8:30am

      Transportation: The Metro Light Rail stops at the entrance to the South Building of the Phoenix Convention Center. An all Day pass is only $4 per person and can be purchased at any station. ($2 All Day Pass for Youths age 6-18, Children under 5 years old are Free).
      Sky harbor airport now has a “Sky Train” which connects to The Metro Light Rail too. There are many hotels along the entire route of The Metro Light Rail.
      Hotels:
      There are many hotels around the venue and some have lower rates. We could not secure a Pokemon rate. However, If you are willing to stay uptown alittle bit there is a Ramada Inn one block from the Metro Light Rail stop for Osborne Rd. Alot of Pokemon players will be staying here, when you book it online, make sure you become a Wyndham reward member before you book and the room rate will drop in price. Very reasonable.
      Food:
      There will be a food vendor inside our Main event hall. There are places to eat outside surrounding the building but they will most likey be extremely busy. Half –block in the North Building of the Convention Center there is a food court. You can also order Postmates (a food delivery service) www.postmates.com and use this code (UR4Q) to get a discount!
      Vendors: (More Vendors will be announced in next weeks email)
      Cradilicious: The latest Pokémon Center plushies, keychains, pens, notebooks, earrings, Japanese deck boxes and sleeves, Pokémon Japanese packs, World Championship 2015 plushies and selling singles (English and Japanese). They will also take bulk cards in exchange for Cradilicious credit. Check out our Facebook page for pictures of the current items.
      Amazing Discoveries: Buying and Selling single cards (Tournament Legal ONLY-BLW to current), also buying Bulk commons & uncommons @ $4.00 Cash For 1000 Cards AND they must be mint and in a Card box. They will also offer a 25% trade over cash for any of the Tournament Legal Singles. They will not be buying any older cards.
      Samurai Comics: They will have a great selection of gaming accessories such as Dice, Deck Protectors and Deck boxes! Also, Pop! Vinyl figures, comic books, mystery boxes, Marvel merchandise, Pokemon plushies, posters, figures and more!
      ****I hope you will all join us for this memorable occasion. This is our 4th TCG & VG Regional Championships held in Phoenix, Arizona. Another epic event with awesome prizes.
      Join the crowd of elite Pokémon players who strive to be the very best like no one ever was!
      Someone will be the winner and it could be your destiny!
       
      Check us out on: https://www.facebook.com/AZRegionals/
      Patricia McCann
      ----Premier Tournament Organizer
      ----602.791.4941
    • By fuadorko
      http://www.pokemon.com/us/play-pokemon/pokemon-events/pokemon-tournaments/international-championships/
       
      Guess the first "Nationals" will be in London this december. Also a lot of new info on the pokemon website today!
    • By fuadorko
      I'm in San Jose atm. Thinking about going to the Phoenix regionals, but I don't want to go alone. Anyone want to carpool and roompool to go to Phoenix on Sep30-Oct2?
    • By Macca
      Building process
      Once I was going outside to meet some friends and decided to wear my Gengar t-shirt. So I thought about a team with Gengar for the end of this horrible season as far as my "results" are concerned (I got only top 8 at international challenge if it counts as a result). I thought about mega-Gengar because of Shadow Tag shenanigans that inspired me a lot.

      This guy can do huge damage to Xerneas even with no max SAtk investment and that helps me a lot dealing with big6. However I immediately found out Gengar is completely walled by Groudon unless...

      ...I hit that guy with HP Water boosted by the heavy rain brought by Primal Kyogre on the switch-in. I don't like Kyogre very much as far as Primals are concerned because its movesets are pretty standard ones and heavy rain is not as huge as harsh sun in my opinion. I'm annoyed by RayOgre teams, they are not my cup of tea. I considered running Dialga and even Zekrom paired with the whale, but then I thought of this guy:

      The primals together grant me pretty big offensive power from each spectrum and help me controlling the weather the way I want to. My main point was to rely on two speed controls because it is the way I feel better for this format (well, I'm actually feeling very bad with the format, I suppose I'm not going to become a good player even if I put my efforts into this game). However I decided to call these guys in my help when speed control is needed:

      Salamence is fundamental in this team: since Kyogre is in the team I have to go for Intimidate in order to help its not very good physical bulk. As far as Trick Room is concerned I preferred Bronzong over Cresselia because of more offensive power and good typing for this format.
      There is one more slot and I decided to go for what helps my team not being completely wrecked by Yveltal:

      It has always been my first choice when I needed an electric Pokémon. It fits very well in this team thanks to Taunt and Thunder Wave, to have more speed control and, most importantly, a pretty solid lead against big6 variants consisting in this guy and MGengar.
      EDIT: Since I had trouble dealing with the more and more popular RayOgre Wolfe variants I decided to change Bronzong with Cresselia that helped me more thanks to double speed control in the form of Trick Room and Icy Wind
      ->
       
      Here you are my team in details with reasons for moves and spreads:
      The team:

      Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 12 HP / 96 Def / 176 SpA / 4 SpD / 220 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA  
      - Sludge Bomb  
      - Hidden Power [Water]  
      - Will-O-Wisp Substitute
      - Protect  
      Bulk EVs are needed to survive a Brave Bird from Life Orb Talonflame, while speed evs are supposed to outspeed Weavile. The remaining evs are just dumped into offensive power. I already explained the set when talking about building process except for the status move: I was thinking of Haze in order to have a solid gameplan against monkey lead in big6, but then I checked the calcs and I found out it wasn't needed at all, so I was thinking of Sub or WoW. WoW has been chosen because it is a pretty solid way to get rid of opposing Kangas and to reduce Yveltal's damage output (even special variants suffer the burn when it comes to use Foul Play). EDIT2: after a lot of matches with WoW I thought running Sub was a better idea in order to improve my MU against status spam such as Dank Void, Spore and similar without having to rely on Taunt.

      Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb  
      Ability: Primordial Sea  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 172 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 4 Spe  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Water Spout  
      - Scald  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Protect  
      Since Kyogre has not an impressive natural physical bulk I decided to invest a lot in it. Speed evs are completely random, I need your help to work out something good for primal mons speed. I did not feel like I had to run Thunder on my Kyogre since I have decent ways to deal with opposing Ogres, so I went for the standard set with Scald over Origin Pulse because of higher accuracy, burn chance and not being stopped by the increasing in popularity Wide Guard.

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 156 HP / 68 Atk / 4 Def / 220 SpD / 60 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Protect  
      Its bulk is supposed to survive Earth Power from 252+ SpA Primal Groudon that is increasing in popularity (quiet mixed Primal Groudon variants). Speed EVs are supposed to speed creep Wolfe Glick's Kyogre but I'm still not sure about that. The set is pretty standard. I didn't go for something like Swords Dance or Sub because I think the rock move can be useful.

      Bronzong @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 244 HP / 76 Def / 188 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Trick Room  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Safeguard  
      The EV spread is taken from the calculator. I checked the calcs I needed and it looked fine so I decided not to change it. I was wondering of Red Card over Lum Berry but then I realized Lum Berry can help me better against big6 variants. I decided to run this set because I didn't feel like I needed Gravity Hypnosis shenanigans and Skill Swap changing weather and giving Levitate to my primal was more important than annoying opponent with the other strategy. Safeguard in the last slot for Smeargle and opposing Bronzong/Amoonguss. I'm not sure about speed IVs: a friend of mine suggested to go faster in order to move after opposing Bronzong in trick room and skill swapping after its move but I'm scared of losing power when it comes to Gyro Ball.

      Cresselia @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 228 HP / 68 Def / 4 SpA / 100 SpD / 108 Spe  
      Calm Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Psychic  
      - Icy Wind  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Trick Room
      A friend of mine suggested me to run Cresselia over Bronzong. The match up against big6 variants worsened a little but if I play smarter than my opponent I can work something out. However one of my worst match-ups (RayOgre) improved a little, so I decided Cress was worth the slot. I had no clue of the spread, so I decided to copypaste the one from my friend Sanvy's worlds report. The speed is in order to be faster than my primals in order to get the weather I want before they get to attack while outside Trick Room. Icy Wind pairs well with Gengar's trapping skills, leaving the opponent slower and slower in order for big beasts to get a spare turn to deal big damage to opponent. Actually what I used Trick Room the most for was to reverse opposing Trick Rooms but it is very useful when I see my opponent is going to stall the last turn of Tailwind with double protect instead of going Icy Wind wasting the turn. Psychic deals chip damage and avoids Cresselia being a sitting duck under her own Trick Room.

      Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 4 Atk / 220 SpA / 28 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Hasty Nature  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Tailwind  
      - Protect  
      Second mega of the team, providing Intimidate and Tailwind support along with Hyper Voice chip damage and Double Edge when it comes to hit harder. I copied the spread from a report I saw from an Asian blog because it looked fine thanks to its ability to survive HP Ice from Thundurus and to resist better special spread weather-stab-boosted moves from Primals.

      Thundurus @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Prankster  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Thunder Wave  
      - Taunt  
      - Protect  
      Not very much to say about it, its role has been pretty much explained during team building process. Focus Sash because I want it not to be OHKO'd and I'm not confident in bulky Thundurus in an offensive metagame like this. That is, bulk is not needed because it relies on sash in order to survive hits and I ev'd it to hit as hard as possible.
       
      The weaknesses:
      I played a lot of games and my score is very bad (I won only 65/112 matches I played) and what I struggle the most against are RayOgre teams, in particular Wolfe Glick's variant and the Scarf Ogre one with Smeargle (the Pokémon I hate the most this format).
      UPDATE: I recognized I have trouble dealing with Weavile and replacing Thundurus ends up in a huge weakness to Talonflame. How can I fix the team while still running Gengar? Some not so uncommon big6 sets annoy me very much even with my big6 lead (i.e. Follow Me/Crafty Shield Smeargle)
      Thank you for reading and I hope your suggestions will be helpful!
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