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Japanese PGL Announces Eevee Cup Tournament

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crobert

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blog-eivei_cup.pngThe latest tournament to be announced by the Japanese Pokemon Global Link, previously responsible for the Eievui Cup (Eevee Cup). Like the Pokemon Center Cup, the Eevee Cup breaks from standard PGL format and will be the first ever tournament to be held in the Rotation Battle format. Not only that, but the only legal Pokemon for the Eevee Cup are Eevee and its evolutions (that is, Vaporeon, Jolteon, Flareon, Espeon, Umbreon, Leafeon, and Glaceon), making this the smallest pool of Pokemon ever allowed in an official tournament. The tournament will be held over WiFi and players will be ranked according to their rating at the end of the tournament. As a thanks for participating, everyone who plays at least one valid match will be ranked at the end and will unlock special Eeveelution PokeDolls for their PDW account.

While previous PGL tournaments have received some buzz as potential VGC 13 rulesets, I think we can safely rule this one out.

Entry begins at 13:00 JST, November 30th, 2012 and closes at 23:59 JST, December 6th, 2012. The tournament begins at 00:00 JST, December 7th, 2012 and ends on 23:59 JST, December 9th, 2012. Players will be separated into Junior, Senior, and Master categories. Only Japanese Black 2 and White 2 games will be allowed to enter.


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      Asia Cup 2014 Main Tournament - 3rd Place
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      * The actual stats, especially some of the speeds are quite subtle so I'm not going to reveal them.
      Preface
      When the rules of the Battle Spot Special ladder changed to Kalos Doubles, I was busy with real life and had no time to dabble in Pokémon. Once my graduation thesis had been safely submitted, I rebuilt my favourite season 1 Talonflame Kangaskhan team and attempted the ruleset, but just could not win. Several times when battling, I found Tailwind difficult to use, and after reading others' blogs, I learned that speed control was not nearly as important in Kalos Doubles as in other metagames up til now, and rather, the ruleset focused more on individual matchups.
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      Having built it, I immediately jumped into Battle Spot to playtest it; won some, lost some, and achieved a not particularly spectacular win rate, but as I started getting used to it it began winning and surpassing my expectations to the point where it got me my results in the Asia Cup.
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      (TanZYinG's note: A good portion of competitive Pokémon in Japan takes place in grassroots real-life tournaments and friendly matches between players, where the game cannot be set to enforce VGC time limits)
      Individual Analyses
      The nicknames are all from the Children of Nisemachi in Madoka Magica: Rebellion

      Salamence (nickname: Ibari)
      Item: Choice Scarf
      Ability: Intimidate
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      As for the EV spread, well, firepower, bulk, speed, it really wants them all so I've always been lost regarding this and can't give an answer!
      Regarding how to play it, Intimidate is especially strong so I usually want to preserve it as best as I can. There will be plenty of openings for it to switch in and take attacks, and I don't want to go crazy over the 10% miss chance of Draco Meteor so avoiding its use as much as possible, spreading Intimidate during the opening, and mopping up with Dragon Pulse during the endgame is the safe way to go. I have two solid switch ins for it in the form of Aegislash and Azumarill so I don't partake in messy affairs like Salamence mirrors.
      Its body is blue and its face looks like Suneo (note: from Doraemon) so its nickname became Ibari. (威張り: to swagger, act pridefully, be haughty, brag)

      Garchomp (nickname: Ganko)
      Item: Lum Berry
      Ability: Rough Skin
      - Dragon Claw
      - Earthquake
      - Rock Slide
      - Protect
      The other cornerstone of Kalos Double's Strongest alongside Salamence. It's been saving up its fury since Generation 5 and now that Cresselia, the Latis, Thundurus and Landorus aren't around boy is it strong.
      When building a Mega Venusaur-centric team, due to Venusaur being the mega evolution, it naturally becomes weak to the three major megas of Kangaskhan, Charizard and Mawile (though depending on the circumstances it can beat out Charizard and Mawile), and thus I use the non-mega that is strongest against all three of them.
      At first, due to wanting to compensate for an overall lack of firepower, I ran Life Orb which would let me get the 2HKO on Mega Kangaskhan, but then Life Orb's demerits just kept showing themselves such as Kangaskhans often getting chipped by Rough Skin and Double Edge recoil anyway, Garchomp barely surviving attacks but then dying to Life Orb recoil, and doing too much damage during the times where I decided I wanted to just go ahead and Earthquake even with my own Mega Venusaur out. Therefore, to patch up my team's effectiveness against sleep and because Will-O-Wisps often come flying towards Garchomp, I made it hold a Lum Berry.
      The moveset is again the quintessential Dragon Claw / Earthquake / Rock Slide / Protect. This is inevitable (I'm pretty sure). For the Rock move, options like Rock Tomb seemed interesting, but in the end Rock Slide off Garchomp's 102 base speed does a good job at fishing for flinches and is just superior.
      For the nickname, since Garchomp looks stubborn and it fits its real name, I used Ganko. It would have been even better if it had been female. (頑固: Stubborn, Obstinate)

      Mega Venusaur (nickname: Nekura)
      Item: Venusaurite
      Ability: Chlorophyll ->Thick Fat
      - Giga Drain
      - Sludge Bomb
      - Sleep Powder
      - Synthesis
      The axis of the team. After Mega Evolving it is ridiculously bulky.
      With Thick Fat removing all but two of its weaknesses, and Flying and Psychic attackers being relatively absent, it really has a lot of staying power. This staying power shines especially against teams without Talonflame. With the exception of Choice Banded Brave Bird from Talonflame, there isn't really anything that can OHKO it, so if it doesnt get focus fired it won't lose due to Synthesis.
      For the moves, Giga Drain, which gets STAB, hits the popular Rotom-W super effectively and its recovery effect fits right into Mega Venusaur's own general playstyle, so it was set in stone. So was Synthesis, which heals up all the damage it accumulates and can checkmate opponents. Next, no matter how bulky it is it would be pointless if it just sat there so Sleep Powder, which is punishing against a wide range of opponents, was added. Lastly, I wanted to add HP fire to hit Steel types with, but there were situations where I wanted to hit Fire types too, and being able to hit Gardevoir super effectively was important so I ran Sludge Bomb. I think that in order to win against Salamence, Hydreigon, Goodra et al, attacking with Sludge Bomb interspersed with heals is the only way to win. Mega Venusaur cannot do anything once Aegislash gets a Substitute up, so that has to be covered by other Pokémon. In the worst case scenario where Sleep Powder misses one can usually switch out and salvage the situation in time so the 75% accuracy is somewhat acceptable.
      For playstyle, if I feel at team preview that the opponent has no good way to hit Mega Venusaur, then I do my best to keep it on the field and aim to block them completely with it. If they have but one Pokémon that can hit it, I aim for more or less the same thing after eliminating that one threat. Sleep Powder is a powerful move, but one can't rely on its 75% accuracy so I never want to use it at critical junctures. It is really effective when you fire it off from an advantangeous matchup and are predicting a switch. Even though Sleep Powder is inferior to Smeargle's Dark Void both in accuracy and the amount of targets it hits, Venusaur's forte, its bulk, allows it many attempts at the move and increases the number of safe opportunities to use Sleep Powder.
      Given that both its body tint and what it does is dark and gloomy I don't suppose the nickname can be anything other than Nekura. (根暗: dark natured, dull, gloomy)

      Rotom-H (nickname: Wagamama)
      Item: Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Levitate
      - Thunderbolt
      - Overheat
      - Thunder Wave
      - Protect
      A Pokémon that possesses excellent bulk for the major threats. It feels a little less stable than Rotom-W, but the Fairy resistance and anti-Charizard-Y properties make it stand out. Along with its main roles, it takes all the attacks of Venusaur's nemesis Talonflame, takes all the Ice that comes flying towards my two Dragons, and basically makes use of its type synergy to the fullest.
      On the offensive side, it was important that I could take a large chunk off Aegislash which I don't have enough ways to hit. It applies some pressure on Mawile, and against other things I guess it's acceptable. The consistent Thunderbolt and Steel-hitting Overheat were no-brainers, but for a Status move I used Thunder Wave instead of Will-O-Wisp. Though Will-O-Wisp is effective in an environmnet full of physical offense, Will-O-Wisps that hit second were often too little too late, and Rock Slide flinches messed with it a little too often, that I found myself not valuing Will-O-Wisp on Rotom much. It's better on Rotom-W who does not take super effective damage from Rock Slide though. The team, with many members having middling speed, makes good use of speed support, and because it opens up the possibility of Mega Venusaur stalling out a paralysed opponent with repeated Synthesises, I think it fits the team really well. Lastly, I thought about putting Will-O-Wisp in anyway for two status inflicting attacks, but there were many situations in which I wanted to Protect so Protect was an easy choice.
      Rotom takes plenty of hits switching in, and because of that and the need to survive Mega Kangaskhan's Fake Out + Double Edge, Sitrus Berry is required.
      The nickname is Wagamama because its activity in standby mode is noisy and its lack of base stats made EVing it such a pain. (わがまま: Egoistic, Willful, Headstrong, Selfish)

      Azumarill (nickname: Manuke)
      Item: Assault Vest
      Ability: Huge Power
      - Waterfall
      - Play Rough
      - Aqua Jet
      - Superpower
      A Pokémon with an excellent typing that completely walls Salamence. Although not used in this team, the terrifying ability of Belly Drum + Aqua Jet to steamroll everything inflicts great pressure on opponents even by just showing it in team preview. It is strong against rain, which despite the presence of Mega Venusaur still gives the team a little pause, and if it doesn't flinch it can check the likes of Mega Aerodactyl and Mega Tyranitar too.
      In my reactionary playstyle, I wanted to make good use of its inherent bulk and firepower to cycle it in and out while racking up damage on the opponent, but the most stable item of choice, Sitrus Berry, had already been taken by Rotom. At first, I had it hold a Choice Band, valuing the fact that Choice Band let it OHKO Dragons even through Initimidate, and also let it have a chance of OHKOing Mega Aerodactyl with Aqua Jet depending on the damage roll, but because I ended up wanting to change attacks often and being choice-locked into Aqua Jet opened up big holes for my opponent, I ended up being dissatisfied with it and rejected it. There were some instances of Choice Specs Rotom-W partnering Aerodactyl and taking out Azumarill in one hit, so to withstand that I tried out Assault Vest. And with it, it became able to attack confidently even in the face of Mega Manectric and win Rotom-H one on one, among many other appealing benefits. Being able to survive Mega Charizard Y's Solarbeam is huge too.
      With the drawback of not being able to use non-attacking moves (well, basically only Protect), and Waterfall, Aqua Jet and Play Rough already decided, I considered the fact that the rest of the team didn't really have good ways to hit Mega Tyranitar and therefore added Superpower without much deliberation.
      Being able to attack with confidence in situations where Azumarill would normally be completely pinned, and being able to induce opponents to overpredict and ignore Azumarill was extremely strong.
      For the nickname, well, it's kind of making a dumb face so... *appropriateness* (まぬけ: stupidity, idiocy, thick-headedness)

      Aegislash (nickname: Reiketsu)
      Item: Leftovers
      Ability: Stance Change
      - Shadow Ball
      - Flash Cannon
      - Substitute
      - King's Shield
      A Steel/Ghost Pokémon with excellent bulk. Hm, I seem to have been using this phrase "excellent bulk" rather repeatedly!
      It has magnificent type synergy with Salamence, and since Salamence often wants to switch out after firing off its Draco Meteor having it in the back is extremely handy. And conversely, Salamence can easily takes the Fire and Ground attacks that are aimed at Aegislash, so they are truly the best of partners. Although, because of that, it becomes easy for the opponent to predict the switch so care must be taken. Also, it's just about the only Pokémon that can safely switch into Mega Kangaskhan's attacks, and so is rather indispensable to teams focusing on switching based teams.
      There are limited ways to hit this guy effectively, and with leftovers recovery factored in, it is another Pokémon you can aim to checkmate the opponent with. My playstyle involves using these two walls, Aegislash and Mega Venusaur, together and thinking about which opponents to eliminate so that either of them can seal the win. With that in mind, and because this is a middling speed bulky team and I wanted to deal with the Trick Room teams I hadn't really considered up to this point strongly, I added Substitute and Leftovers. Shadow Ball and King's Shield were in for sure. Sacred Sword can revenge KO Bisharp, whose popularity has been rising recently, in one strike and hit Tyranitar and Kangaskhan for more damage, but since Flash Cannon OHKOs Mega Aerodactyl and breeding a hexflawless Aegislash is such a drag, in the end I went back to the standard Flash Cannon.
      It's made of iron and looks cold so the nickname is Reiketsu. (冷血: cold-blooded/heartedness)
      As you see, aside from the core of Venusaur, Rotom and Azumarill which had been determined from the start, the rest of the Pokémon are all high-usage Pokémon running their standard, defining items and movesets. One could say that that makes it predictable, but there are good reasons why those moves and items are there, and when combined with the rest of the team and handled properly I really think they are the strongest.
      I guess I can say that I tend to lead with Salamence + Venusaur a little more often than the rest, but really, all of the Pokémon can work well both as leads and in reserves and I think I can say that this is a goodstuffs team with a wide plethora of options in battle. There are lots of things you have to consider while playing it, so it taxes the player alot and I won't go out of my way to recommend playing it to people, but thank you to those who have read up to this point!
      I mentioned this before in the preface, but with this team not being ideal for Battle Spot, I think it would be good if I could come up with a team that doesn't involve nearly as much thinking and plays more straightforwardly for the Japan Cup.
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      (Original: http://d.hatena.ne.jp/bicho5296/20140310/1394465689)
      I was placed in the K block of the preliminaries, and advanced from it in first place with a record of 7W - 1L. I've skipped the preliminary matches because this would be very long if I wrote about everything. However, my one defeat by Ao-san was a guessing game at the very end which I lost. I think I misplayed on the previous turn, but on the turn itself, even if I had chosen to do anything else, all the luck factors combined would have led to a roughly 50-50 guessing game anyway so I don't think there were any other misplays.
      Top Cut R1 - Top 32 vs Vete
      Battle Video: 86PW-WWWW-WWW6-3AE2
      Opponent:
      Me:
      Mega Venusaur looked like it had an easy field so I went ahead and proactively led with it. The leads came out as his Salamence and Rotom-W versus my Salamence and Venusaur which was completely in my favour. Because Rotom-W looked as if it couldn't do anything productive, I swapped Aegislash for Salamence and Sleep Powdered his Salamence. Rotom Protected, Aegislash took a Meteor and I put Salamence soundly to sleep.
      The 2nd turn I had Aegislash put up a Substitute while Venusaur Giga Drained Rotom. Salamence switched out for Chandelure, and Rotom moved before Venusuar to get a Will-O-Wisp off on Aegislash.
      On the 3rd turn, wary of Chandelure's Infiltrator I had Aegislash use Kings Guard once while firing a Sleep Powder at it, but wasted the turn completely as he got a Substitute up.
      From then on, it became a bitter struggle as he stacked up the Minimizes and I couldn't land my attacks. I tried to Sludge Bomb Chandelure with Mega Venusaur, but I had no idea that Poison attacks were not very effective against Ghost types. I thought I would have been able to break the Substitute.
      Since I couldn't possibly continue throwing myself at Chandelure in vain and since it looked as if it only had Heat Wave and no other attacking moves, I changed my plan and focused on shutting down the other Pokémon. Switching around and taking attacks, I took down Mega Kangaskhan without incident and created a Mega Venu + Mence + Chomp vs Chandelure situation.
      Quite a few attacks got evaded, but in the end Garchomp's Earthquake landed and I won. If the misses had continued, Chandelure's 16 Heat Waves could not have outdamaged the 8 Synthesis's worth of healing Venusuar had available, so if after 16 hits I had not gotten burned, it would probably have led to an ugly ending where I would Synthesis on the last turn and win on the HP tiebreaker.
      Top Cut R2 - Top 16 vs Junio
      Battle Video: YSEG-WWWW-WWW6-3AE9
      Opponent:
      Me:
      Looking at my opponent's team, there didn't seem to be any obvious Mega Pokémon, so I expected that it was probably a Mega Tyranitar build.Letting it get a Dragon Dance off would make dealing with it very hard, so I tried my best to not leave any opportunity open for it to do so. Garchomp seemed to be strong against everything overall, but leading with it would only get it Intimidated by Salamence so I brought it in the back.
      His leads were Salamence and Bisharp, and although I had Rotom-H -> Bisharp and Azumarill -> Salamence, being slower than both of them kept me cautious. Happy that I was making my opponent feel threatened at the possibility of Belly Drum, and expecting that no Dragon moves would be fired towards Azumarill's slot, I switched it out for Garchomp and Thunder Waved Salamence as a precaution against a Scarf. My opponent double targeted Rotom with Sucker Punch and Draco Meteor to take it out, so I survived the LO Meteor and got the Thunder Wave off.
      On the 2nd turn, because Garchomp had both Bisharp and Salamence pinned with Earthquake and Dragon Claw respectively, and moreover since my opponent's team had nothing that could take Garchomp's Earthquake safely, I deduced that Salamence would have no choice but to stay in and so Dragon Clawed Salamence and Overheated Bisharp. Bisharp's Iron Head took half of my Garchomp's HP off, but I successfully took out both of his Pokémon. Then, out came Talonflame and Tyranitar.
      Garchomp was being pinned by Talonflame's Brave Bird, but i thought it would be better to buy a little time rather than let it go down immediately, so I protected once. Rotom was in KO range from Tyranitar's Rock Slide, but even if it were to go down Azumarill could take its place and handle Tyranitar, and furthermore the worst thing would be letting it Dragon Dance for free, so I Thunder Waved it.
      Tyranitar Mega Evolved and Dragon Danced, but ate a Thunder Wave and was easily dealt with later, giving me the win.
      Top Cut R3 - Top 8 vs Taruto
      Battle Video: FG3W-WWWW-WWW6-3AEY
      Opponent:
      Me:
      The lead matchup was so-so. First of all if Gardevoir was Scarfed, Garchomp would just go down without being able to do anything, so I made the safe switch to Aegislash. I didn't want Rotom to take a possible Fake Out + Dazzling Gleam either so I Protected with it. Gardevoir used Dazzling Gleam instead of Moonblast so I determined it was using Choice Specs.
      On the 2nd turn it was very obvious that Gardevoir would switch out and there was a very high probability of Garchomp coming in, and so I really wanted to switch Rotom out for Salamence, but if my opponent madethe gosu play of sending out Bisharp from behind I would lose, so I timidly Thunder Waved Kangaskhan. As expected it was Garchomp, but I guess there was nothing to be done about it.
      On the 3rd turn the probability of Bisharp being in the back had more or less disappeared so I brought Salamence out while Flash Cannoning Kangaskhan.
      On the 4th turn I predicted that Garchomp was going to switch out and wanted to dispatch Kangaskhan, so I meteored it but missed. I forgot why I Flash Cannoned Garchomp's position instead of Shadow Balling it, but Talonflame came in and made me pay for it.
      Turn 5, I couldn't lose my Salamence yet and was fearful of Brave Bird and Sucker Punch so I used King's Shield and switched to Rotom to take the Brave Bird.
      Turn 6, I thought that Garchomp would come in to take a Thunderbolt for Talonflame, so I Shadow Balled Talonflame's position and chipped away at Kangaskhan with Thunderbolt.
      From here on, I thought that Garchomp, who I had preserved well up until now, would be able to plow through everything, so I sacrificed something to get it in safely and continued making safe plays for the win.
      Semi-Finals vs Kantona
      Battle Video: 7FAG-WWWW-WWW6-3AEJ
      Opponent:
      Me:
      Between Bisharp and Malamar, bringing Salamence was most certainly out of the question (lol)
      Azumarill, with water attacks unresisted by my opponent's entire team and being able to hit the likely leads Bisharp or Malamar hard, was put out in the front, and Rotom-H, which also had lots of room to manoeuvre, accompanied it.
      At the opening I was afraid of the possibility of getting outsped and flinched, but it looked like a pretty good matchup for me. Aerodactyl's Rock Slide and Bisharp's Iron Head tried to stop my Azumarill from moving, but Azumarill dodged the Rock Slide and took out Aerodactyl with Waterfall, and Rotom managed not to flinch as well and got a Thunderbolt off on Bisharp. At the time, I was sure that Gothitelle and Mawile were in the back so dropping my Special Attack with Overheat would be a terrible idea. Furthermore it was probable that Bisharp was Focus Sashed so I thought Thunderbolt was the way to go.
      My opponent's Rotom-H came out, and I was wondering if I should just sacrifice Azumarill, but then I decided it could still do some work with Aqua Jet if I kept it around, so I switched to Garchomp. A Will-O-Wisp came flying hither but I didn't mind.
      After that, somehow Garchomp still managed to be a good Pokémon even while burned and played sloppily. I recklessly spammed Rock Slide and the opponent's Rotom just wouldn't stop flinching. I kept that up and won.
      Finals vs Moyomoto
      During the 1st battle there was a communication error while the battle was in my favour, so it was decided to turn it into a best-of-3 with me one game up.
      1st Battle
      Twitcast Video: http://twitcasting.tv/bicho_5296/movie/42615880
      Opponent:
      Me:
      It looked as if leading with Salamence and Venusaur would be good, but then I refrained from that after considering the possibility that Noivern was Scarfed. I didn't think I would be particularly disadvantaged no matter who I brought so I sent Rotom-H out with Venusaur. I was a little scared of Specs Noivern Hurricane, but decided that that kind of thing would not appear on a Sun team and so abandoned those fears.
      I didn't know which of my Pokémon he would Fake Out at first, so I made both of my Pokémon attack with Sleep Powder and Thunder Wave. Venusaur got to move, but for some reason Noivern was carrying a Lum Berry so that ended in failure.
      Turn 2, I couldn't lose Venusaur so I switched to Aegislash while Thunder Waving with Rotom, but Rotom flinched due to Rock Slide.
      Turn 3, I wanted to Substitute with Aegislash but it got flinched. However, I successfully got Thunder Wave off on Mienshao.
      The subsequent exchanges created a situation where my opponent was unable to break Aegislash's Substitute. The communication error occurred when I had caught Charizard on the switch with Sleep Powder and hit it into the red on the next turn.
      It seemed that on the turn that Charizard came out, my opponent had originally intended to switch Mienshao out and Protect Noivern, but given that Noivern had already Protected the turn before, its special attack was cut from having Draco Meteored previously, and Aegislash still had its Substitute up, I think I would still have the advantage no matter what happened. Even if Charizard had woken up on the turn of the error, I would have switched Venusaur to Rotom and taken any of its attacks and won regardless of whatever happened, so the set was turned into a best-of-3 and I was given the first win.
      2nd Battle
      Battle Video: G8HW-WWWW-WWW5-UCAC
      Opponent:
      Me:
      With the fact that Noivern was neither Scarfed nor Sashed exposed, I led with Salamence this time. With my opponent's leads being Noivern and Charizard, a double pin situation was created and I had to decide who to go after. With Noivern possessing the ability to take out Salamence if allowed to move, and Venusaur's Sleep Powder and Noivern's Lum berry both being revealed during the previous match, Meteoring Noivern and Sleep Powdering Charizard certainly seemed like the safe option.
      But then if I did that, Salamence could not possibly fight Charizard and Aegislash choice-locked into Draco Meteor with dropped special attack, and I felt that the absolute worst situation for me would be if he made the safe play of double Protecting and I left Charizard free to do whatever it wanted (by locking into Draco Meteor). So, because even if Protected, it would be better to lock into Stone Edge, I Stone Edged Charizard and Sleep Powdered Noivern. It was a dangerous gamble, but I figured it was my best option. My opponent moved exactly as I expected, and the game was sealed almost completely right there and then on turn 1.
      After that, I dealt with the remaining Pokémon one by one while maintaining a way to hit his Aegislash hard, and won.
      Mega Venusaur is such a beast for surviving Super Fang and Garchomp's critical hit Earthquake.
      Somehow or other I made it through a 150-man strong field and clinched the championship!
    • Japan's Battle Road Gloria National Finals: Results, Team Details, Statistics and Review
      By tanzying
      On Sunday, the 23rd of March, Japanese Pokémon players gathered in Osaka to watch the culmination of the biggest grassroots tournament circuit in the country with the VGC '14 ruleset: the Battle Road Gloria National Finals. Following intense competition over the past two months, where players duked it out in the various regional qualifiers for an invite to the finals, as well as a Last Chance Qualifier the day before, the field of competitors was finally thinned to a final 20 players. Thus, the showdown to determine who would be crowned as the No. 1 Trainer of Japan began.
      With the tournament over, hardworking host @masaVAmpharos has once again publicised the team details and usage statistics. Combined with the information from the qualifiers, we are finally in a position to look back on the series of live competitions that have shaped the metagame in Japan and even influenced the playstyles of players all over the world.
      Finalist Teams
      First up, we have the team details of all the participants of the Battle Road Gloria National Finals, starting with none other than:
      1. Gloria Champion: See_miruo!
      Qualified through: Ganyu Off (Kyushu) Champion
      (Awesome team portrait courtesy of Yudetama (@yudeyude123), go to her Pixiv for the WIP and other artworks!)

      Runner up: Rei
      Qualified through: Hokuriku Off (Hokuriku) Champion

      3rd Place: Fukunyan
      Qualified through: Hokuriku Off (Hokuriku) Runner-up

      4th Place: Gonbe
      Qualified through: Shade Off (Kansai) Champion

      (Note: I'm unable to verify the exact Megas used from here on so I will list them as their base forms)
      Top 8: Viera
      Qualified through: Arena Off (Kanto) Champion

      Top 8: Yasumatsu
      Qualified through: LCQ

      Top 8: Hashidam
      Qualified through: Bibu Off (Chushikoku) Runner-up

      Top 8: Ryuzaki
      Qualified through: LCQ

      Tony
      Qualified through: Ganyu Off (Kyushu) Runner-up

      Takumi
      Qualified through: LCQ

      Takasazo
      Qualified through: Bibu Off (Chushikoku) Champion

      Denjiha
      Qualified through: LCQ

      Yuuichi
      Qualified through: Arena Off (Kanto) Runner-up

      Alcana
      Qualified through: Touhoku Off (Touhoku) Champion

      Mouhu
      Qualified through: Shade Off (Kansai) Runner-up

      masa
      Qualified through: Touhoku Off (Touhoku) Runner-up

      Rasuku
      Qualified through: Arena Off (Kanto) 4th place

      Suraimu
      Qualified through: Arena Off (Kanto) 3rd place

      Haochii
      Qualified through: LCQ

      San
      Qualified through: LCQ

      Battle Videos
      The most important battles of the National Finals and LCQ have also been recorded by various people and are avaliable for your viewing pleasure.
      National Finals
      Courtesy of the Eggy Emporium team. Recorded from the Nico Nico livestream timeshift by Hibiki, subtitled by myself and Ryokon, and uploaded to Youtube with organiser Masa's permisison.






      LCQ
      Recorded and livestreamed on Twitcast by organiser Masa

      Flight A Finals: San (front) VS Haochii (back)
      Flight A 3rd Place playoffs: Kamendaburu (front) VS Ryuzaki (back)
      Flight B Finals: Denjiha (front) VS Takumi (back)
      Flight B 3rd Place playoffs: Yasumatsu (front) VS Suraili (back)

      Usage Statistics
      Next, the usage statistics for the finals as well as the LCQ held during the day before (for reference, here are the statistics for the previous qualifiers combined):


      Finally, if anyone wishes to see the complete team details of all the participants in the LCQ as well as the raw KP numbers, they can be found in this file. Remember, the KP of a Pokémon is defined as the number of players who used it in the tournament, while the KP of a team is the sum of the KP of its constituent Pokémon.
      Points of Interest
      I'm probably not good enough of a player to write a particularly solid dissertation similar to Scott's 'What We Learned' articles after each season of events in the American VGC circuit, but seeing as I picked up a little knowledge of the Japanese scene through following this series of events and there are issues which I think are worth highlighting so I'll take a stab at it.
      Aqua Jetting Up the Rankings

      Scanning for changes in the usage statistics between the LCQ plus Finals and the previous tournaments, the Pokémon that immediately demands attention is Azumarill, which surged all the way from a respectable 14th position in the qualifier rankings to a commanding 5th/6th in the LCQ and finals respectively -- kicking its fellow Huge Power Fairy-type wielder Mawile out of the Top 10 in the process. I'd personally put this down to Azumarill having advantageous matchups against all the pseudolegendaries legal in the format (Garchomp, Salamence, Tyranitar, Hydreigon, Dragonite), who -- aside from Dragonite -- account for a large chunk of usage. Azumarill hits them with painful STAB super effective attacks and resists their primary STABs and even quite a few of their coverage moves. Even better, it doesn't need to take up a Mega slot to do it unlike Mawile, which reduces its competition. With both the Belly Drum and Choice Band sets able to bring ample amounts of hurt, it certainly looks as if players are starting to discover its potential, possibly cementing its place in the metagame for the rest of the season.

      Other less noticable but significant usage changes include a slight reshuffling of the Grass type pecking order, with Ferrothorn almost completely falling off the radar from 14% to 4% and Venusaur and Amoonguss picking up the slack and jumping from 8% to 16% and 12% to 18% respectively. My personal experience with Ferrothorn is one of giving up on it, as useful as its Grass/Steel typing was, after having had to Protect it ever so often to stop it from getting taken out by every random fire move under and not under the Sun without nearly enough success. It therefore wouldn't come as a surprise to me if the Japanese players have wisened up to its consistency issues and stopped using it as often. In contrast, Venusaur and Amoonguss are able to fill the bulky grass defensive niche and provide solid support options to the rest of the team without bringing a crippling weakness along. Also, could the fact that their Grass/Poison typing shuts down the abovementioned Water/Fairy Azumarill completely have anything to do with their increase? The numbers aren't strong enough to say for sure, but I guess time will tell.
      Top 4 Mega Madness

      While good old Kangaskhan, Charizard Y and Mawile still have their iron grip on the top 3 Mega spots, the top 4 was a hotbed of innovation with the semifinalists' and finalists' Mega Pokémon choices departing from the norm in various ways. Champion see_miruo's Kangaskhan, unlike other members of its brethren, chose to eschew the highly contested 100 base speed tier and take it slow, even underspeeding Runner up Rei's Bisharp in Trick Room and taking it out with Hammer Arm, then using the subsequent speed drop to underspeed and KO Rotom-W on the next turn.
      In a metagame where almost every Charizard chooses to evolve into Mega Charizard Y, Rei's signature Mega Charizard X returned once again from his Hokuriku regional qualifier winning team to carry him to second place. 3rd place Fukunyan's Mega Mawile is a slightly more ordinary all out Trick Room attacker, though its moveset does reflect a nowadays increasing tendency for Mawile to forgo their reliable STAB 100% accurate Iron Head in exchange for coverage moves -- in this case Rock Slide.
      Finally, double Mega combinations are not unheard of, but mostly restricted to combinations of the top 3. 4th placed Gonbe however put an extremely unorthodox spin on the concept by choosing to run Mega Tyranitar and Mega Venusaur on the same team. Even more unusual was Mega Tyranitar's moveset of Dragon Dance, Rock Slide, Ice Fang and Earthquake.
      I'm not someone who particularly champions originality for originality's sake, but I find the variety displayed by the top-performing players heartening. It indicates that there is quite some untapped potential out there awaiting exploration even among the Mega Pokémon that define this year's ruleset so. Many important metagame breakthroughs in the past such as bulky Thundurus, offensive Cresselia and Pyroar have been spearheaded by pioneers achieving success with them and changing perceptions from "Why would you even do that?" to "Why didn't anyone think of doing that?". I think that in this regard, a metagame that requires players to have the basics down yet provides ample potential for and rewards experimenting is healthy for competitive Pokémon.
      The "Fantasy Core" is Very Real

      It's not hard to see why the triangle of Dragon, Fairy and Steel types is at the forefront of the metagame. Garchomp and Salamence, with the utility and reliability bestowed upon them by their superior base stats, abilities and typing, are just too good not to consider for inclusion on any team. The Fairies have great offensive and defensive coverage too, with the bonus ability of being able to maul the popular dragons, although unlike the dragons they aren't as blessed in the BST department. And finally Steel, the only type in the game that resists both of them and even gets to hit the Fairies back hard.
      Even though it is pretty evident from the usage statistics how ubiquitous Garchomp, Aegislash and Salamence are, I decided to delve further into the statistics to explore their correlation and wasn't disappointed.

      [/td][td]Percentage of teams with at least 1 Pokémon of each of the following types Dragon + Steel Dragon + Steel + Fairy Dragon + Steel + Fairy (*With Mawile/Klefki only counting for 1 type) National Finals 95% 60% 45% Teams that earned an invite to the National Finals 100% 75% 70% Qualifier tournaments Top 16 teams 80% 59% 46% All teams in qualifier tournaments 73% 52% 43% (Raw data here)
      As you can see, an overwhelming number of Japanese players have decided that having a Dragon and Steel type on their team was in their best interests, with the percentage only increasing as the sample size was cut to the better-achieving players, to the point where pretty much all the finalists were running a Dragon-Steel duo. It's harder to read a definite trend into the Dragon-Steel-Fairy numbers, but they look healthy enough to be a mainstay of the metagame. The American metagame of the Winter Regionals season, in contrast, was decidedly iron-deficient in comparison, but the metagame has had time to evolve now and perhaps the Spring Regionals will show us a different picture.
      The LCQ Pilgrimage...in Reverse!
      With Japan never seeming to get a proportionate number of places in the official World Championships, scenes of them descending on the Last Chance Qualifier and grinding in the hard way have become a yearly occurrence. This time, however, it was German player Rebecca "San" Wolf (13th place Masters, Worlds 2011) that made the trip to the Orient, took 2nd place in the LCQ's A flight and very nearly made it to the top cut of the National Finals itself (more on this later)!
      There's nothing much more to point out beyond the unprecedented nature of this (congratulations to Rebecca for her achievement, though). I didn't look closely enough to see how Japanese players reacted to the presence of a foreigner in a tournament to "determine the No. 1 in Japan." However, it did make me wonder how things would be like if the World Championships ever goes to the birthplace of the franchise and it becomes the Western world's turn to mount LCQ expeditions instead.
      Round Robin Rumblings
      As I've mentioned in my previous article on the regional qualifiers, the Japanese grassroots tournament scene does not use the Swiss format Americans and Europeans are familiar with through official VGC events. Instead, they break players up into blocks right from the start and have everyone in the block play everyone else, with the top 2 from each block by win-loss score advancing to a Top (usually) 16 single elimination best-of-1 cut. This usually doesn't give too much problems and the Japanese seem to be perfectly happy with the status quo. However, the format resulted in a very sticky situation in the D block of the National Finals (containing both Champion See_miruo and the just-mentioned foreign LCQer Rebecca Wolf), where all five players in the block went 2-2, and a lottery had to be used to decide that See and Ryuzaki would advance to the Top cut of 8. (Even more seemingly ludicrously, the initial method proposed to break the deadlock was Round Robin Rock-Paper-Scissors!)
      Such rare occurrences aside, my impression of the format is that it does seem to increase the element of luck in matchups a tad. If you had a strong win ratio in Swiss, you would be guaranteed to play similarly accomplished opponents, whereas in Round Robin groups you might land in a group of lesser opponents by luck of the draw and coast to an easy top cut. Other considerations include avoiding bad matchups; A 3rd place qualifier report I translated had a team with a rather evident Rotom-W-shaped hole in it, yet the player himself mentioned that managing to avoid playing most of his bad matchups was instrumental in his final placing. Various other problems with Round Robin, such as players dropping midway, come to mind. If I had to pick, I'd definitely go for a Swiss format. Of course, I don't have the influence to change anything that goes on over there, but nevertheless it would be interesting to see what the rest of the world thinks.
      Where are the Japanese Players We Know?
      Perhaps as a testament of how little we outsiders are exposed to the Japanese scene, when asked to name strong Japanese players most of us would probably come up with a rather limited list along the lines of Gebebo, Huuuryu, R_Justice, Shota Yamamoto, Jumpei Yamamoto, Osamu Shinomoto... i.e. those few players who have shown up on the LCQ/Worlds stage or in International Friendlies. And yet, searching through the placings, these names pop up sporadically and at most correspond to a few top 16 placings here and there, while other previously-unheard-of-outside-Japan players like See and Viera frequent the top spots. The known players probably have their own individual reasons for their decline; Gebebo, for instance, has mentioned that he doesn't like the Kalos Doubles ruleset much and has been playing National Dex Doubles and GS Cup instead, probably intending to take most of the season out like Ray did when he already had his Worlds invites locked up. Overall though, it's evident that the Japanese scene remains largely a mystery to the outside world, and hopefully that begins to change soon. I'll be keeping up my translation work, but TPC could really help by implementing a better official VGC circuit in Japan and perhaps actually give them a proportionate amount of representation in Worlds itself.
      Foreign Influences
      We learn a lot from Japanese players, but what do they take back from us? Trawling through the various Japanese team reports, influences from Ray's Virginia Regionals-winning team caught my eye, and there was a remodelled version of Human's Runner-up team from the same event, but not much else. I had a conversation with Taroimo, the go-to person for English -> Japanese VGC content translations, and the discussion threw up a few interesting points.
      According to Taroimo, he's mostly the only translator in the field, and Japanese Pokémon players mostly don't go out of their way to proactively machine translate foreign content and read them (the exception being their RNG researchers i.e. Omega Donut, Kaphotics, Slashmolder et al's Japanese counterparts). As a result, most of the foreign VGC content flowing into Japan goes through him. Right now, the VGC '14 content he has produced Japanese translations of include Ray's, Human's and Wolfe's team reports as well as Wolfe's commentary on the usage stats of the various Gloria qualifier tournaments. And according to him, the viewcount on Ray's report far outstrips that of the rest.
      It seems that in the end, as of the moment, between the bottlenecking of information through their only translator, the limited number and Japanese players playing on simulators and the limited amount of foreign players on Battle Spot (compared to the number of Japanese players), and the underdeveloped nature of Japan's official VGC circuit, Japan doesn't really want or need information from the outside world most of the time, and who can blame them? Their grassroots scene is well-developed enough for their players to experience fierce competition and earn lots of recognition without ever needing to play foreigners. If TPC continues to be stingy with Japanese representation at Worlds, I don't see any compelling reason for them to suddenly work up the motivation to pay attention to the rest of the world -- which might be a loss for them, but my feeling is that its as much of, if not even more of, a loss for us.
      With the above points, I end my recap of the Battle Road Gloria circuit. Of course, there are still team reports to come, and the Asia Cup just concluded today with See_miruo conquering the other countries from his throne in Japan, so look out for more exciting content from my side of the world! TanZYinG, out.
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