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VGC '13 Season to Include 3 Regional Dates

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blog-playRegional.jpgWe have trusted sources that have given us dates indicating that the regional format is changing slightly yet again for the next season of the Pokemon Video Game Championships. The fall regionals are being moved to October as we previously reported and that's to make room for an additional winter regional in January. The spring regional will be staying in April. So far we have heard the following information (anything without Unconfirmed means the PTO has confirmed the date and location):


October 14th, 2012

  • Indiana (Ft. Wayne - Allen County War Memorial Coliseum)
  • Northern California (San Jose - Santa Clara County Fairgrounds)
  • Ontario (Toronto - DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Toronto Airport)
  • Pennsylvania (Philadelphia - Philadelphia Convention Center)
  • Texas (Houston - Westin Memorial City)


January 20th, 2013


April 14th, 2013

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      I already filled out a team sheet online, so while others finished writing their teams down in the registration line, I talked with those around me about weird gimmicks like Scarf Sheer Cold Articuno + Mirror Move Pidgeot. Of course, the attendance of Aaron Zheng (Cybertron) sparked a lot of conversation too. After registration, my brother introduced some of his friends to me: Jacob Waller (Thank Swalot), Ian McLaughlin (raikoo), and first-year Master Ian Combs (kittykatterz). It was really obvious they were good friends, and I chuckled a lot when Thank Swalot kept revealing everything about kittykatterz’s team to me, much to kittykatterz’s dismay. Soon after this, I spotted another good friend: Mario Serrano (Mario C). Thanks to our annual warmup battle, I had a lot more confidence in my team and in my ability to play well today. And speaking of my team…
      The Team
      Before Regionals, I was having a lot of trouble transitioning back from the hyper aggressive VGC ’14 format to the bulkier VGC ’15 format. Particularly, I was using teams that might only have one or two Protects on them. My Pokemon always wanted four moves other than Protect and I was Choice locking a lot of my Pokémon. While there’s nothing wrong with not running Protect or using Choiced Pokémon, I personally had a lot of trouble fighting my way out of losing situations without Protect.
      Stuck in that mode where it feels like every team you make is garbage, I did some research on what other players were using. Angel Miranda’s (CT MikotoMisaka) winning Premier Challenge team caught my eye and gave me the inspiration I needed to work myself out of my team building rut.

      Salamence @ Salamencite
      Nature: Jolly (+Spd, -Sp. Atk)
      IVs: 31/31/31/x/31/31
      EVs: 52 HP / 172 Atk / 4 Def / 84 Sp. Def / 196 Spd
      Ability: Intimidate –> Aerilate
      – Frustration
      – Dragon Dance
      – Roost
      – Protect
      Salamence was definitely the star of the team. Mega Salamence’s raw power means Aerilate-boosted Frustration does about as much damage as Jolly Mega Kangaskhan’s Return, which is absolutely ridiculous. Combine that with Dragon Dance, and you have a Pokémon that does over 50% to a bulky Rotom-Wash that resists Frustration. Mega Salamence’s natural bulk is superb as well and, on top of that, the threat of a special set with Hyper Voice can cause opponents to misplay if they can’t guess whether or not Mega Salamence is physical or special.
      Originally, I had Double-Edge on Mega Salamence, because the ability to OHKO Mega Charizard Y, some Sylveon, and Terrakion is really good. However, in testing I found myself KOing myself as quickly as I was KOing my opponents, and the difference in KO power between Frustration and Double-Edge after a Dragon Dance isn’t very noticeable.  Speaking of which, I chose Frustration over Return to counter any Smeargle who wanted to try to Transform into Mega Salamence. 1 BP Frustrations do about as much damage as the saddest Eruption from 2013 Worlds and, besides, I liked Frustration for aesthetic purposes anyway. I chose Roost over coverage moves like Earthquake or Fire Blast because the damage output from those moves were too low for my standards. I also loved being able to get rid of Rock- and Ice-type weaknesses, an Electric neutrality, and low HP. It made Sucker Punch wars with Bisharp considerably easier to deal with as well.
      I started my EV spread with the Jolly Nature, because getting outsped by Terrakion’s Rock Slide and Gengar’s Icy Wind are both very bad things that can happen with Adamant Nature. I definitely wanted to outspeed Timid Gengar and Adamant Talonflame, but since Mega Lucario was so close and gave my team a bit of trouble in theory, I opted to invest 196 Speed EVs to outspeed it as well. After a Dragon Dance, Mega Salamence outspeeds almost everything relevant in the metagame, including bulky Suicune after Tailwind, Scarf Landorus-T, and Modest Venusaur in the Sun.
      I can’t remember exactly what the Attack investment did, but I do know from my notes that +1 Helping Hand Frustration OHKOs a lot of Suicune. In addition, my Mega Salamence also KOes semi-bulky Mega Kangaskhan with a neutral Frustration after two hits of Rocky Helmet recoil. The bulk survives an Ice Beam from the Suicune Zach Droegkamp (Braverius) used at a Premier Challenge, and it makes Terrakion’s Rock Slide a 3HKO most of the time. Basically, I wanted to be able to survive anti-Landorus-T Ice Beams with ease while also assuring those Ice Beams did under 50% after Mega Salamence lost its Flying-type while Roosting.

      Clefable @ Sitrus Berry
      Nature: Bold (+Def, -Atk)
      IVs: 31/1/31/31/31/31
      EVs: 244 HP / 164 Def / 28 Sp. Atk / 68 Sp. Def / 4 Spd
      Ability: Unaware
      – Follow Me
      – Ice Beam
      – Helping Hand
      – Protect
      Clefable is one of the best Follow Me users in the format, and for good reason. Clefable’s Fairy-typing and natural bulk allows it to stick around for multiple turns, and you never want to give free turns to a Mega Salamence. This Clefable is a near carbon copy of Angel’s and, honestly, that’s because the set worked so well for me.
      Follow Me is the most important and most used move of the set, redirecting super-effective Ice Beams against Mega Salamence, Will-o-Wisps targeted at my physical attackers, and all sorts of other attacks. Similarly to the way Sejun played Pachirisu last year, the threat of Follow Me sometimes allowed me to use Ice Beam or Helping Hand, because my opponent was just going to target Clefable anyway. I preferred Ice Beam over Moonblast because OHKOing Landorus-T is awesome, and it’s good generic chip damage against a lot of the metagame. Protect lets me block attacks I wouldn’t want to take otherwise, particularly Sludge Bomb, Iron Head, and Taunt. It also helps me stall out Tailwind or Trick Room, maneuver into a better position and, well, do what Protect does for every Pokémon.
      I must give credit to Angel for his EV spread, as it met all the goals I wanted Clefable to achieve: survive Aegislash’s Flash Cannon, OHKO Landorus-T 15/16 of the time with Ice Beam, and have enough physical bulk to take attacks like Bisharp’s Iron Head and Mega Kangaskhan’s Double-Edge. That’s why there are 8 EVs shifted from HP to Defense; it takes physical attacks marginally better while still surviving Aegislash’s Flash Cannon.
      Why not Clefairy though? Well, Clefairy does have a great Ability with Friend Guard and does technically have more bulk with Eviolite, but I still prefer the advantages Clefable provides. Clefable’s Sitrus Berry makes it bulkier than Clefairy over a set of turns, and Clefable’s respectable base 95 Special Attack stat means Ice Beam will dent Pokémon that are weak to it. Unaware also works as a nice bonus to prevent boosted Pokémon from being able to set up on Clefable, then swat it next turn with a +6 Aqua Jet, +2 Return, or +2 Bullet Punch. All of these are small reasons by themselves but, when combined, it can become really noticeable in how Fairy-type redirection is played.

      Bisharp @ Focus Sash
      Nature: Adamant (+Atk, -Sp. Atk)
      IVs: 31/31/31/x/31/31
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
      Ability: Defiant
      – Sucker Punch
      – Knock Off
      – Iron Head
      – Protect
      Despite never actually carrying the Ability, Bisharp is a Pokémon that exerts a ton of pressure on the opponent. Many players aren’t willing to risk leading their Intimidate users because of the potential Defiant boost, and Sucker Punch is a great move for locking down your opponent. Combine that with offensive STABs that remove items and OHKOs Sylveon and you get a solid Pokémon to round out my fantasy core (Fairy-Dragon-Steel).
      I love Focus Sash on Bisharp, because I love playing in situations where I can attack with Bisharp early on, lose a bunch of HP, then save it for later when the opponent can’t simply swat it. Although the raw power of Life Orb is tempting, I prefer the safety net Focus Sash provides when Protect just won’t cut it.

      Virizion @ Expert Belt
      Nature: Jolly (+Spd, -Sp. Atk)
      IVs: 30/31/31/x/31/31
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spd
      Ability: Justified
      – Close Combat
      – Leaf Blade
      – Taunt
      – Protect
      The above team members have a decent matchup against Mega Kangaskhan, but I couldn’t immediately threaten Mega Kangaskhan until I got off a Dragon Dance with Mega Salamence. At first, I had Lum Berry Terrakion like Angel did to fulfill this role. In practice, however, other Terrakion and bulky Water-types like Rotom-Wash, Suicune, and Jellicent were problematic. I originally got the idea to use Virizion from watching Lajo on Showdown and, from there, the Grass-type legendary has not let me down.
      Close Combat, Leaf Blade, and Protect are standard on Virizion, but I notice a lot of players opt for Stone Edge as their third move on Virizion for the additional coverage. I really wish I could have fit in the coverage, as it would have improved my Thundurus matchup drastically, but I was more concerned about Trick Room and stopping shenanigans. In the tournament, however, I ended up with a solid matchup against the Trick Room teams I faced thanks to Substitute Heatran. Additionally, Clefable stopped shenanigans pretty well by itself. I was comfortable with Taunt’s usage before entering the tournament, however, so I opted to stick with Taunt instead of including Stone Edge.

      Heatran @ Chople Berry
      Nature: Modest (+Sp. Atk, -Atk)
      IVs: 31/x/31/31/31/31
      EVs: 132 HP / 20 Def / 132 Sp. Atk / 12 Sp. Def / 212 Spd
      Ability: Flash Fire
      – Heat Wave
      – Earth Power
      – Substitute
      – Protect
      Fast Substitute Heatran with Chople Berry was an idea I picked up from Jeudy Azzarelli’s (SoulSur) Premier Challenge team report. I ended up using a more conventional moveset, however. I really loved playing games where I could eliminate the Heatran or Heatran + Clefable checks, click Substitute, and win. As such, I designed this Heatran with super-specific goals in mind. I chose to invest 212 Speed EVs to outspeed Bisharp and anything speed creeping Bisharp by a point. Next, the 132 Sp. Atk EVs allowed me to always OHKO opposing 252 HP / 4 Sp. Def Heatran with Earth Power. Finally, the rest of the EVs are simply optimized bulk.
      If you play with this Heatran, you’ll notice its Heat Waves do absolutely pathetic damage to neutral targets. However, I wasn’t trying to play Heatran in a way that allowed it to handle a variety of opponents. Rather, I played Heatran so that I would win games with it because it was a Heatran. Chople Berry helped a lot with setting up these types of situations, allowing me to OHKO Terrakion, Virizion, and Cobalion with the appropriate super-effective attack after a -1 Special Defense drop from Close Combat.

      Suicune @ Rocky Helmet
      Nature: Bold (+Def, -Atk)
      IVs: 31/0/31/31/31/31
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 132 Sp. Atk / 60 Sp. Def / 60 Spd
      Ability: Pressure
      – Scald
      – Ice Beam
      – Tailwind
      – Protect
      As the last Pokémon on the team, I wanted something that could check Landorus-T and complete a secondary Fire-Water-Grass core. At first, Swampert and Rotom-Wash occupied this slot. However, Swampert was too slow for my liking and Rotom-Wash was too susceptible to flinches from Rock Slide, which can be devastating if it occurs even once. So Suicune took the place of the bulky Water-type.
      My team does not rely on Tailwind, but it can be useful to force some additional pressure on my opponents with fast Knock Offs or even faster Frustrations. I opted to run Protect over Snarl because I felt like Suicune would be targeted often. I used Clefable to soak up weaker single-target special attacks anyway, so Snarl’s role was mostly fulfilled already.
      Suicune was added to the team very close to the start of Regionals, so the EV spread I made was mostly impromptu during practice time. I started with 60 Speed EVs, which allows me to outspeed Scarf Hydreigon (and subsequently Scarf Landorus-T) after Tailwind. Suicune’s HP and Defense EVs let it survive a +1 Jolly Mega Salamence’s Double-Edge 100% of the time, and the investment in Special Attack allows Suicune to 2HKO semi-bulky Heatran with Scald and has a strong chance to OHKO most Mega Salamence after Rocky Helmet chip damage. The rest was placed into Special Defense to increase the chances of making bulky Rotom-Wash’s Thunderbolt a 3HKO.
      Common Leads
      While I could lead anything + anything depending on what I encountered in Team Preview, these leads popped up a lot throughout both the Regional and the Premier Challenge because of their inherent synergy.
      Salamence + Bisharp
      This lead is good for creating early pressure, allowing me to get a turn one Dragon Dance if I predicted the opponent to Protect from Bisharp’s attack. I often carried Clefable in the back when I led with these two. Because of the switching synergy, I could easily Protect Salamence + switch Bisharp to Clefable to maneuver myself into a better board position.
      Bisharp + Virizion
      Surprisingly, this lead was almost more offensive than Salamence + Bisharp. Virizion’s Close Combat allows it to beat out the Terrakion and Mega Kangaskhan that would otherwise threaten Bisharp, while Bisharp’s Knock Off could chunk any Psychic-type trying to pick up a quick KO on Virizion. Taunt + Sucker Punch is also a cool trick the duo can perform, but it is generally better suited for later in a match rather than at the start of one.
      Day 1: Regionals
      Before I move forward, I must give a special shoutout to OmegaDonut, who told me the new location of where Battle Videos are stored on the SD card for ORAS. Thanks to him, I was able to save almost every Battle Video from the event. Unfortunately, I do not own a capture card, so the quality of my Regionals videos is mediocre at best. Additionally, battle animations refused to turn on no matter what I did.  Stick with me though, because my Premier Challenge games were able to be professionally recorded by Eiganjo. In any case, these videos should still serve as a good reference for what actually happened during my matches.
      Round 1 – Aaron Lunsford
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought:  ///
      To begin the tournament, I was paired against an opponent wearing super cool Lopunny ears. When I saw the Blissey in Team Preview along with all the other defensive Pokémon, I knew that I had to consider timer stalling if I couldn’t muscle through Aaron’s team with Mega Salamence. After Vaporeon Baton Passed +4 Defense to Blissey, I started to do just that. However, I managed to be lucky enough to hit through +6 Evasion (and Bright Powder, as Aaron mentioned after the match) to take the game without the timer.
      Win, 4-0; Record 1-0.
      Round 2 – Dakota Meador
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      This game has got to be one of the best I’ve played in my entire life. I felt like I was on fire with my predictions, being able to call exactly when the Mega Metagross would attack and when it would Protect. This game was more than just a win; it was a huge confidence boost for me. I do want to elaborate on turn one a bit, though. I assumed I would not be able to KO with a Leaf Blade + Knock Off combination attack if Rotom-Wash ate its Sitrus Berry in between attacks so, rather than Protect with Bisharp, I opted to Taunt to block a potential Will-o-Wisp or stop a switch-in from being able to Protect.
      Win, 3-0; Record 2-0
      Round 3 – Sean Ring
      Team Preview: / //(/)
      Brought: ///
      Before the match, Sean gave me a Star Wars-themed Valentine’s Day card, which was pretty cool. I also learned that Sean lives within twenty minutes of my hometown. Small world!

      In regards to the match, things play out pretty evenly until turn four, where it looks like I chose the wrong targets for my moves. To be honest, I was expecting a double target into Mega Salamence and didn’t want to risk getting paralyzed on a Protect. However, turn five was just bad. Don’t ask me what I was thinking there. Regardless, I knew that with my Heatran in the back and Sylveon as his last Pokémon, I would have the game locked up if I could take out Thundurus.
      Sean makes a great lategame call though, as he opts to lock Sylveon into Hidden Power Ground instead of Hyper Voice. This led to an interesting situation where his Aegislash couldn’t take two Heat Waves, but my Clefable couldn’t take a Flash Cannon. After some careful playing, however, I managed to secure the win.
      Win, 2-0; Record 3-0.
      Round 4 – Nico Villalobos (Calm Lava)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      I didn’t know much about Calm Lava’s playstyle, but I did know that he was a veteran player and a member of the illustrious Team Magma. After staring at a team that had a very similar composition to mine, I knew this was going to be an exciting game. This was the match before lunch too, so the pressure was on both of us to be able to chow down undefeated.
      I wanted to get rid of Clefairy’s Eviolite ASAP to allow my other Pokémon to be able to threaten a KO if Bisharp wasn’t able to get off two attacks. After knocking out Clefairy, Nico sends out Terrakion. Now, judging by his Team Preview, I thought he had Focus Sash on his Terrakion. However, I got flinched in the process of trying to break his “Focus Sash”, leading to a wasted turn. Later I discovered his Terrakion was, in fact, not holding a Focus Sash. I also got to pick up some good information about Nico’s Rotom-Wash and, because I knew it wasn’t bulky, I knew I had a guaranteed KO on Rotom with an Expert Belt-boosted Leaf Blade.
      I played this match’s endgame rather sloppily, however. Because I wasn’t confident on my Virizion’s Close Combat damage calculations versus Heatran, I opted to conserve Mega Salamence when I could have KOed Heatran for sure with Bisharp’s Knock Off after a Close Combat with Virizion, even when accounting for multiple Protects and Leftovers recovery. While I still won the game, I opened up the door for a Heat Wave burn on Mega Salamence, not something I would have enjoyed.
      Win, 1-0; Record 4-0.
      Phew! I was really happy to have made it this far undefeated. After I ate a PB+J sandwich and some applesauce, I found a charging outlet by Mario C. We discussed how we were doing so far in the tournament and what kind of Pokémon we had seen. I didn’t have much time to rest, however, because our round five pairings were soon put up.
      Round 5 – Andrew Hovis (Andrew Hovis)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      This game started off really well for me, but it didn’t take very long for Andrew to reclaim the momentum for himself. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me that most Thundurus-Therian aren’t holding Choice Specs anymore, and I made a huge misplay on turn two by doubling up into a Protect. Honestly, from there, Andrew made the correct plays to win, and I never felt the momentum change from that point on.
      When the second-to-last turn rolled around, I tried to get a double Protect with Heatran, hoping to block Mega Kangaskhan’s potential Low Kick and have Thundurus-T KO itself with recoil. However, Ice Punch sealed the deal on my Mega Salamence in a solid 2-0 victory for Andrew. Between rounds, I knew the best thing to do was to clear my head and not let my poor playing in one game affect the results of another one.
      Loss, 0-2; Record 4-1.
      Round 6 – Sean Preiss
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      I was greeted by a vastly different team from the previous rounds in round six’s Team Preview. Approaching this battle, I knew that if I could force switches from my opponent, I could rack up a lot of damage and start to clear Sean’s team of its resources.
      That’s exactly what happened. A strong lead matchup was really all I needed to propel my momentum throughout this game. While I know Sean would have probably taken out a few of my Pokémon if he continued with the match, it’s still cool to say I technically won a game without taking damage.
      The best part about this game, however, was the conversation we had afterwards. It was really cool to talk about the thought process going into each of our teams with Sean. I think I gave some advice as well, though I don’t remember anything specific. Between our conversation and the win, any amount of tilt I had from round five was gone and I was ready to continue with the tournament like I had done in the early rounds of Swiss.
      Win, 4-0; Record 5-1.
      Round 7 – Cody Bernheisel (CodeUmbreon)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      When I first saw this team, my thought process was quite literally “Get a Substitute up. Don’t lose.” My notes aren’t too good for this game, but I do remember doing just that. I unfortunately didn’t save this battle for whatever reason, but if you’d like, the match I had with Cody in the Premier Challenge the following day is somewhat similar to this battle and can be found a bit further down in this report. While our Premier Challenge battle was slightly more in my favor than this match was, the basic principle remained the same: I weakened his Clefable, played carefully to stall out turns of Trick Room, and managed the threats to my Heatran in the proper order.
      Specifically from this battle, I remember Mega Salamence needing to KO Mega Abomasnow outside of Trick Room in the endgame, but I wasn’t certain of Ice Shard’s damage rolls with the HP Mega Salamence had left. Luckily, its massive base 130 Defense stat proved clutch, letting me survive the Ice Shard with about 10% HP to spare. During the entire match, Cody was very friendly and sportsmanlike, giving me a smile and a strong handshake even after taking a loss to a matchup he wouldn’t have liked his team to face.
      Win, 2-0; Record 6-1.
      After this round, my brother informed me that Seniors were finished with their final round of Swiss. While my brother didn’t end up making it, Oreios had, so I went over to congratulate him. He was pretty psyched, and together we made a gameplan for his match against Logan Postletheweight, who defeated Beau in Swiss. However, I couldn’t stick around to watch how the match would go, because it was time for Masters round eight.
      Round 8 – Steven Burton (PikaPastor)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      Team Preview was just a mix of emotions. Although Lum Berry Terrakion would have had a strong matchup against a Kangaskhan + Smeargle lead, I could tell Steven had Rain to handle that exact matchup. I knew that the most important thing I could do going into this match was not panic and to manage my targeting just like I would any other match.
      I knew damage on Mega Kangaskhan was way more important on turn one than breaking Smeargle Focus Sash, and I knew if I double Protected into a Tailwind, I would likely lose the game. After trading moves, I knew I had two guaranteed turns of sleep and could not afford to switch either of my Pokémon out. I absolutely have to KO Mega Kangaskhan next turn though and, luckily, Virizion manages to get a one-turn wake up…but Smeargle quickly Transforms into another +1 Mega Kangaskhan.
      Next turn, I really hoped that Salamence would win the fifty/fifty and wake up, especially since the Smeargle-transformed-Kangaskhan went for a Power-Up Punch, which Mega Salamence easily survived. However, because it did not wake up, I knew Mega Salamence will wake up for sure next turn. I planned on sacking Suicune to a +3 Return, then use Clefable’s Unaware to survive for a turn while I KOed Smeargle-Kangaskhan with Frustration. I get even better than that, however, when both PikaPastor and I discovered Smeargle’s happiness wasn’t maxed out. From there, the momentum swung heavily in my favor and I managed to come out of the match with a victory.
      Win, 2-0; Record 7-1.
      I felt like the win against PikaPastor solidified my position in Top Cut, especially since Andrew Hovis was also 7-1, which gave me good resistance. And when my brother told me that I was playing on stream – well, I was overjoyed. However, as I’m sure most of you know from watching the stream, things didn’t go quite as well as I hoped.
      Round 9 – Drew Nowak
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      If you’d like to see our match straight from the source, feel free to check it out on Pokémon’s Twitch channel. Our match starts around 07:08:00.
      I think turn one is the most important turn to discuss here, but I also feel like Scott covered everything I wanted to say about the situation. The Protect + switch play felt like the most obvious thing in the world to me and I had a strong chance to survive an Ice-type attack from either Zapdos or Suicune. Because of this, I thought my best play would be to Dragon Dance, then Follow Me and 2HKO Suicune later. The Thunder Wave was not something I was expecting for some reason, but as soon as it happened, I knew that I would be playing from behind for the rest of the match. Sure, the freeze on Clefable was unfortunate, but as Scott said in the post-match commentary, the Thunder Wave created a potential for things to go wrong. Another big problem with my move was that the prediction was super bold. I had never played Drew before, so making a big turn one prediction without understanding my opponent’s playstyle was a risk I definitely should not have taken.
      Once Mega Salamence and Clefable went down, I basically had to hope for something crazy to come my way, which is why you saw Virizion use Close Combat on the Suicune. The last turn was just for poops and giggles, of course, but I also wanted to conserve any information Drew and I had left about our teams.
      Loss, 0-4; Record 7-2.
      After my brother informed me about how large of a noob I was for losing 4-0 on stream, I found out Oreios had made the Top 4 of the Seniors Division. Encouraged by how well he placed, I congratulated him and waited around for the final Swiss standings to go up.

      Like I was hoping, my resistance was good enough to get into Top Cut. As I was doing the mental pairings, however, I chuckled as I saw I was up against Aaron Traylor (Unreality). I couldn’t remember much about his playstyle, but I did remember his 2014 Worlds LCQ report, especially the section about maximizing your odds of winning a game. I went into the match knowing I was against a top tier player and that I’d probably see a couple moves that were out of the ordinary.
      Top 16 – Aaron Traylor (Unreality)
      Team Preview: /////
      Game 1
      I apologize for not having videos recorded for either this game or game two, but because games in best-of-three matches occur immediately after each other, I had no time to save each battle.
      At the start of the game, I lead Salamence + Virizion versus Kangaskhan + Clefable. I felt comfortable in a situation where both of our Megas were surrounded by Fairy-type redirection, so I swap out Virizion in favor of Clefable, who takes a Fake Out as Salamence Dragon Dances. However, a Minimize from Aaron’s Clefable leaves both Aaron and me with a smile. I know that I need to get damage on Clefable and fast, so I simply Follow Me and Frustration, hitting through evasion as Aaron’s Clefable sets up another Minimize. Next turn, I luckily manage to land a hit through evasion again, but get a low damage roll; Clefable barely hangs on. Knowing the odds weren’t in my favor, I go for a double target Frustration + Ice Beam to try and KO Clefable and I hit through Minimize again with Frustration, much to my relief.
      However, Salamence’s power to land all of its attacks was nothing compared to the freezing power of Clefable’s Ice Beam, as the rerouted Ice Beam froze Mega Kangaskhan, I knew I’d just gained a ridiculous amount of wiggle room to work with. I’d like to think I had fairly good position at that point in the game anyway, but the freeze on Mega Kangaskhan very nearly solidified the game right there. After targeting down the most dangerous threats, I cleaned up the game. I remember intentionally dragging out the game to see if I could pick up any information about Heatran’s item, but all I could determine was that it wasn’t holding a Chople Berry or Leftovers.
      Game 2
      Winning a game by always hitting through Minimize and freezing my opponent’s Mega wasn’t what I had planned, but I knew Aaron wasn’t the type of player to get flustered by bad luck. In game two, we both lead with Bisharp + Clefable. I end up calling a switch from Clefable turn one and Knock Off Heatran’s Shuca Berry, but from there, my plays start to get a little crazy, including using a Helping Hand-boosted Knock Off into Aaron’s Bisharp. Although I was making decent turn-by-turn plays, really, any predictions I made resulted in very little reward, because Aaron had a much better positional advantage than I did. Once Aaron removed my Bisharp, he was able to get in a position where I couldn’t take down his Clefable quickly enough. I remember at a certain point in the game, Aaron was confident that the game was locked up. In a last-ditch effort to win, I revealed Roost on Mega Salamence, trying to dodge a Sucker Punch, but Aaron makes the correct play and Returns my Mega Salamence instead, taking a commanding game two.
      Game 3
      This game was lost in a very similar manner to game two; I never really had a strong board position. If I had brought Suicune in sooner, I think the game definitely would have played out differently. I really admire Aaron’s turn four play in this game: he stays in with Kangaskhan, letting me pick up two knockouts. In retrospect, that play really makes a ton of sense to me. If I overpredicted a switch and didn’t KO Kangaskhan with Close Combat, he would pick up a KO on Suicune, but if I did KO Kangaskhan, Heatran could still OHKO me right back with Overheat.
      To come back after turn five, I would have had to play flawlessly. However, I misplayed hard by assuming without a freeze on Clefable, I had lost the game. Instead of fishing for a freeze, I should have Scalded every time with my Suicune. Clefable could have potentially received a burn a turn sooner or, at the very least, Suicune would not have been obligated to Protect to make sure Clefable fainted from burn damage.
      If I wasn’t obligated to Protect, I could have made an Ice Beam + Protect Suicune play, which would have given me a chance to freeze and ensure that a Scald + two turns of burn damage would KO Bisharp. This would give me a 35.6% chance to win (8% from a potential freeze and staying frozen at least one turn or 30% chance of a Scald burn) compared to the actual game scenario’s odds of 9% (30% chance to burn, 30% chance to double Protect). Regardless, either situation required luck to be on my side, and I don’t want to ignore how well Aaron played throughout this entire set. After all, he did win the entire tournament!
      My Regionals run ended with a total record of 8 wins and 4 losses, netting me 15th place, 40 CP, and some trading cards that I sold immediately. With Regionals pressure gone, my brother and I went back to our hotel room, ate some supper, and got ready for tomorrow’s Premier Challenge.
      Day 2: Premier Challenge
      Despite attending an early-morning church service, I still managed to show up before some of the other Top 8 competitors! After chatting with Andrew Burley (Andykins) about how this and Virginia Regionals were going, Unreality showed us this amazing game called Platypus Evolution that intrigued me far more than it should have.
      It was really cool being able to match up names to faces, like Jonathan Rankin’s (JRank) and Zach Droegkamp’s (Braverius). Soon, though, the match between JRank and Unreality was about to begin, so I sat down in the front row to watch the match. I struck up a conversation with Bryce Stewart (Nodochi) about topics like Jolly Landorus-T, his shiny collection, and soft resetting for legendaries. Bryce was super awesome, lending me his smartphone so I could “preregister” both my brother and myself for the Premier Challenge. He also traded me the Global Link event Berries I was missing for nothing. Needless to say, it was pretty cool to hang out with him.
      Unfortunately, the Top Cut matches overflowed into the start of the Premier Challenge, so we all had to turn spectator mode “off” and get back into the swing of things. To start things off, I am paired up against Nathan Powell, who identifies himself as illuminatimon.
      Round 1 – Nathan Powell (illuminatimon)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///

      I feel like I played rather poorly throughout this game. Nathan had a solid team matchup against me, but honestly, there were several points where I could have made better plays. Notably, I missed out on two KO opportunities against Heatran by playing too conservatively. Overall, Nathan played extremely well, predicting exactly when I’d go on the offense with Heatran.
      However, that forfeit at the end was actually Nathan’s – he had to leave for the trip home to Canada and he gave me a mercy win. It was really awesome to see someone give a win to a person that clearly didn’t deserve it, and I promised myself that Nathan’s generosity would not go to waste.
      Win (Forfeit); Record 1-0.
      Round 2 – Malik Wilson
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      This was one of my more intense matches of the day, at least in terms of back-and-forth gameplay. I really liked my turn five play by correctly assuming Thundurus would use an attacking move, while still sacking Bisharp to gain a positional advantage with Clefable. The turn afterwards, however, Malik made a great play by not Taunting Clefable, allowing him to nullify the Speed advantage I gained from Dragon Dance. Unlike round nine the previous day, however, I felt like the Dragon Dance was more justified this time. Because he had already revealed Mega Lopunny, I assumed he hadn’t brought Metagross, meaning either Terrakion or Landorus-T would be Malik’s last Pokémon, and a Dragon Dance would almost ensure a victory against a combination of those Pokémon. The second-to-last turn left Mega Salamence with a full paralysis, however, and I knew that another full paralysis or Ice Punch critical hit would lose me the game. Luckily, neither of those occurred, and Malik got to witness the bulk of a Mega Salamence firsthand by seeing it survive Mega Lopunny’s Ice Punch with 7 HP to spare.
      Win, 1-0; Record 2-0.
      Round 3 – No Show
      Team Preview: ///
      Brought: ///
      My opponent was probably worried about the incoming snowstorm and dropped without following whatever official procedures allow you to drop.  Of course, I didn’t mind the free win and chance to relax, but I knew I couldn’t count on my resistance to let me squeak into Top Cut if I ended up with an x-2 record.
      Round 4 – Cody Bernheisel (CodeUmbreon)
      Team Preview:///(/)
      Brought: ///
      A rematch from yesterday! I went into this match with the same gameplan as last time: “Get a Substitute up. Don’t lose”. Information from yesterday’s match helped tremendously in my decision making, like knowing his Jellicent had Scald instead of Water Spout and that Cody didn’t like risky switches.
      A lucky Heat Wave burn on Jellicent helped me to whittle it down much more quickly than I could have before, and the Cursed Body activation didn’t really justify the extra chip damage I was able to get on it. If anything, it prevented Cody from switching to Heatran to try to pick up a free Flash Fire boost. Overall though, I played with my fundamentals against Trick Room and came out with a victory.
      Win, 3-0; Record 4-0.
      Round 5 – Aaron Zheng (Cybertron)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      Between matches, one of my friends noted that there were only a few 4-0s remaining. And which better 4-0 to go up against than the mighty Cybertron himself? I have a lot of respect for Cybertron because of the maturity he shows when approaching the game, and because of his excellent VGC content that he puts out on his YouTube channel. However, I had theorized the matchup against Cybertron’s Apex-winning team before entering Regionals, so I knew I could approach the match with a clear head.
      I make a strong play turn two, switching out Bisharp to prevent him from safely switching in Suicune after I KOed Gengar. Turn five, though, was an interesting one. Cybertron had already seen my remaining Pokémon, and based on what I had seen so far, I guessed that Cybertron’s last Pokémon was Suicune. Because of this, I figured his best play was to sack Mega Venusaur to give Suicune a free switch-in, while racking up some additional damage with Rock Slide or attacking Heatran with Close Combat.
      With that in mind, my best play would be to not KO Mega Venusaur while getting some extra damage or potentially a KO on Terrakion. I clearly misread Aaron’s thought process, though, because I let Suicune switch in for free. Unfortunately for Cybertron, a lucky critical hit makes up for my misplay, which prevents Ice Beam from knocking out my Mega Salamence. From there, Aaron opts to forfeit and goes off to recollect himself.
      I didn’t think the game was entirely locked up since I would have had to make sure Heatran did not get Leech Seeded from that point on while simultaneously playing around the Terrakion. Needless to say, it would not have been an easy match. If I ever get a chance to play Cybertron again, I hope to be able to rise to his skill level to give him a better match than what I was able to give him here.
      Win (Forfeit); Record 5-0.
      Round 6 – Ryan Brooker (lolfailsnail)
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      I recognized Ryan’s face from earlier today, but it took me a while to remember that he had placed in the Top 8 of Regionals. Since Ryan was undefeated so far, I could tell he was determined to do just as well in this tournament as he had done earlier today.
      Similarly to my matches against CodeUmbreon, I wanted to bring Heatran to force a lot of pressure with Substitute. However, I incorrectly lead Salamence into a Mawile and Ryan makes a solid play by getting Conkeldurr immediately in under Trick Room. A hard read into a Salamence switch enables me to KO Jellicent, however, and from there my gameplan becomes “Stall out Trick Room. Conserve Heatran”. Because of this, I intentionally let both Clefable and Bisharp go down in exchange for a positional advantage. Turn eight brought about a double Protect, which seemed very strange to me at the time. However, Ryan’s play lulled me into a false sense of security and I very nearly pay for it when a critical Mach Punch hit my Heatran. Heatran’s natural bulk was on display that turn though, and because Heat Wave did not miss either of Ryan’s Pokémon, I was able to solidify my position in Top Cut with a 6-0 record.
      Win, 2-0; Record 6-0.
      Round 7 – Hans Knutson
      Team Preview: ///(/)
      Brought: ///
      Being 6-0 was no excuse for some of the silly plays I made during this match. Between Dragon Dancing the turn I know Clefable is going down, Sucker Punching into a switching Mega Metagross, and misjudging the damage output of a +1 Frustration, I’m not quite sure how I managed to not fall entirely on my face. While I did make a decent call on the second-to-last turn by using Sucker Punch on the attacking target, I really should not have let myself get into that position in the first place. Still, a win’s a win, and I was happy to be able to advance onto Top Cut as the highest seed in Swiss.
      Win, 2-0; Record 7-0.

      I was not surprised to see Aaron Grubb’s (LPFan) name paired up against mine for Top Cut. During every event that he and I have attended together, we have had to play each other during a critical round. During Missouri Regionals last year, I managed to squeak in as 16th seed after a close game with him in the final round of Swiss, and at 2014 Nationals, he dealt me my third loss, preventing me from advancing to day two of that competition. Now, we were playing for a chunk of CP in our first best-of-three set together. I was super excited, to say the least.
      Top 8 – Aaron Grubbs (LPFan)
      Team Preview: /////
      Game 1
      During Team Preview, Mega Salamence looked like it would have a field day if I could successfully get up some Dragon Dances. I start off slowly by trading Bisharp for information about his Rotom-Heat’s Speed stat, but once Clefable came in, I had a very solid positional advantage. Unfortunately, I misjudged Staraptor’s Speed after Tailwind and lost a lot of HP on Heatran because of it, but throughout the rest of the match, I simply made the plays that would give me the greatest chance of winning. I don’t think the lategame Rock Slide miss against Mega Salamence mattered too much, unless it would have landed a critical hit and Terrakion also got a double Protect.
      Win, 1-0.
      Game 2
      At first, I thought I had a repeat of game one on my hands when I had a fresh Mega Salamence and Clefable against Suicune and Rotom-Heat. Aaron plays perfectly, however, and capitalizes on an obvious Dragon Dance + Follow Me play by setting up Tailwind while switching in Terrakion.
      I was disappointed to see the Staraptor come in the following turn, as I knew Frustration would not OHKO Terrakion if Mega Salamence’s Attack stat was at neutral. Terrakion’s Rock Slide told me not to worry about the Intimidate though, as a critical hit and a flinch decided to cancel out a lot of my momentum. I tried to stage a comeback, but my Pokémon had simply taken too much damage to power through four relatively healthy opponents. Aaron ties up the set at 1-1.
      Loss, 0-2.
      Game 3
      Since Aaron had picked up on my habit of trying to use Knock Off on Rotom, a solid switch to Terrakion rewarded him with a +1 boost. Luckily for me, though, decent plays and Rock Slide not flinching Bisharp enabled me to take an early Pokémon lead. Even more luckily, Suicune’s Scald never managed to leave Clefable with a burn, allowing me to use Follow Me for an extra turn and deal loads of damage to Rotom with Knock Off (a 24.01% chance disregarding damage rolls).
      After Virizion came in for Bisharp, I knew I had to pick up a double knockout while also avoiding KOs on my end. Since Virizion’s Protect seemed obvious, I ended up attacking with Virizion and got rewarded greatly, forcing a 2v1 situation against Staraptor that was a guaranteed win if Mega Salamence used Protect. During the match, I wasn’t certain about how much the critical hit mattered on his Suicune, but after discussing it later, it turned out the damage rolls were in my favor of Frustration KOing Suicune with the EV spread LPFan’s Suicune had.
      Win, 2-0; Record 9-1.
      I expected a strong set of games against Aaron and, even with a less than ideal team matchup, he gave me just that. After talking with Sean Ring, who I played at Regionals yesterday, I learned that he was also in the Top 4, but he had to play against Cybertron for his chance at making the finals. I knew my own match was going to be tough as well, though, because I was up against Michael Fladung (Primitive), who had just placed in the Top 4 of Regionals earlier that day.
      Top 4 – Michael Fladung (Primitive)
      Team Preview: /////
      Game 1
      Things start off well as I get an early knockout on his Mega Kangaskhan with a combination of Rocky Helmet and Frustration damage. I even managed to use the potential of Thundurus wasting turns to set up a free Dragon Dance, and I got into a spot where I had a fresh Clefable sitting next to a boosted Mega Salamence.
      My momentum comes to a screeching halt, however, as I Helping Hand Frustration into Suicune’s Protect and Michael shuts down Clefable’s redirection with Taunt. From there, Thundurus did what Thundurus does best and paralyzed my whole team. It’d be easy to blame the match on “hax” from that point forward, but there were better plays that could have been made. For example, I could have easily targeted Thundurus down with a Frustration + Ice Beam combination attack instead of aggressively targeting Suicune. It’s not like Michael was grasping at straws either. He was using Thunder Wave for speed control; the full paralysis was just bonus. Luckily, I managed to pick up information about Suicune’s item thanks to Knock Off before Bisharp went down to a Thunderbolt + Scald combination attack.
      Loss, 0-3.
      Game 2
      Virizion seemed like it would be a solid choice here to help even out the matchup, but for some reason, I didn’t think Taunting Thundurus was the correct turn one play. In reality, it would have forced Thundurus into an awkward Sucker Punch situation that I could have potentially taken advantage of. Bisharp proved clutch and managed to survive a Rock Slide from Terrakion, only to flinch and be unable to move. From there, I think I gave in to exasperation. I wasn’t upset, because I truly knew I was playing against the odds when I opened myself up to Rock Slide flinches, but the plays I make afterwards show that I didn’t think the game was winnable, when it definitely could have been. I could have potentially Dragon Danced and taken out Thundurus with an Ice Beam when I sent out Salamence + Clefable, but I had turned on the “don’t get paralyzed” switch in my head and paid for it when a critical Rock Slide hit me. After confirming my suspicion that Michael’s Terrakion was holding a Focus Sash, I congratulated him on the win and wished him the best of luck in his finals match.
      Loss, 0-3; Record 9-3.
      There are times in Pokémon when you can say “my opponent got lucky” and blame a match on hax. More often, however, there are times when you should say “I could have played this better” or “I shouldn’t have brought a team weak to Rock Slide and Thunder Wave”. Michael apologized for the luck that came his way, but both he and I knew that he wasn’t trying to land a critical hit or get a full paralysis. Those things came as a bonus to making the correct plays and being in situations where those events could occur. After all, you don’t make Top 4 of a Regionals competition and the finals of a Premier Challenge without a lot of skill!
      Finally, my run at St. Charles is over. After saying hello to both Aryana Welch (feathers) and Clayton Lusk (Zubat), it was just about time to say goodbye to everyone! I finished watching the finals match, and then my family and I went out to eat at Dairy Queen in celebration. While it’s always fun to play at these events, it can be pretty exhausting to consistently make the best plays throughout the day. I was very proud with my overall result, though: a 16-7 record in games overall, two decent placings at both events, and the chance to play ten different people from Nugget Bridge.
      Carbonific, for taking the time to properly record my streamed match and upload it to YouTube. It looks much better than the recording I had before and I thank you for taking the time to capture the professionalism of the stream. Vince, the tournament organizer, for stopping the Premier Challenge between rounds to let us watch the finals of Regionals and for giving the Top 4 a cool TCG playmat as a tangible prize in addition to our CP. He really knows how to manage a tournament well. Daniel Cardenas (KermitTheFrog14), for trading me a Bold Suicune on such short notice. Brandon Ikin (Toquill), for trading me Heatran, despite leaving his 3DS in his dad’s car. kamikaze17, for trading me the Virizion from his trade thread for basically nothing. Primitive, for letting me use his pictures of the final Swiss standings from both events in this report. The Anistar Aliens (Stats, Oreios, tlyee61, and KermitTheFrog14), for being awesome to practice with and talk to. The miniNPA has been done for over a year now, but it’s really cool how we’ve all stuck together as a group. You’re the best group of friends a guy could ask for! Article image created by The Knights of Wario Land for Nugget Bridge. View more on his Tumblr, or visit his forum thread.
    • No Simulator Required - 9th Place Winter Regionals Team Analysis
      By DaWoblefet
      Hello, my name is Leonard Craft III, aka DaWoblefet, and I am new to Nugget Bridge. Really, I am very brand-new, and that's why you're not seeing a team analysis that happened in January until now. After getting creamed as a senior in the 2011 Nationals Last Chance Qualifier and taking a break from the action in 2012, I came back to St. Louis in January to see how well I had improved in my time "off". Despite having no practice on a simulator or being a member of any competitive Pokémon site, I still thought I had a decent chance of doing well in this tournament. Whenever I practiced and felt like the team needed an adjustment that required an IV or Nature change, I had to RNG them again. It's a tedious process. Also, the only battling I got in was on Random Matchup -- a place where disconnections are extremely common. Battling without a simulator is tough!
      I began making this team by looking around at the best players in the world and Wolfey’s World’s team ended up catching my eye. I loved how he took the weaknesses of Heatran and compensated for them, so that’s what I tried to do with a couple of my Pokémon: compensate for their weaknesses, particularly Latios. I’ll admit, this team is far from being on the level Wolfe‘s is, but overall it performed great in the Swiss Rounds (6-2) and really came through for me when I needed it. Placing 9th in my first year of Masters is pretty OK at least! I also got the pleasure of facing two Magmas, though Benji was out of my skill level for sure in round 7.
      The Team

      Chiken Man (Scrafty) (F) @Chople Berry
      IVs: 31/31/31/x/31/31
      EVs: 140 Atk / 252 SDef / 116 Spd
      Ability: Intimidate
      Careful Nature (+SDef, -SAtk)
      - Drain Punch
      - Crunch
      - Fake Out
      - Bulk Up
      My first Pokemon I looked for was going to be a better version of Hitmontop. Every time I used Hitmontop before on previous teams, I was always let down by the fact that it was so commonplace. Nobody was unaware of how it worked. The Chiken was a fantastic replacement for Hitmontop, as its Dark-typing granted it immunity to Psychic allowing it to threaten Cresselia as well as give it two STAB attacks with a good amount of coverage. With 252 Special Defense EVs, it survives a Timid Latios's Dragon Gem Draco Meteor (though it could have been more efficient with HP invested) and with the Chople Berry it survives a Fighting Gem Close Combat from a Terrakion. With this, Scrafty usually sticks around for a couple turns. Drain Punch and Crunch provided a STAB combination resisted only by Heracross and Drain Punch was great for Scrafty's longevity. I ran enough speed to speed creep Hitmontop by 3 points, and I could immediately tell if I did beat it based on who's Intimidate came up first. Fake Out helped me to set up by shutting a Pokémon down for a turn, including the Hitmontops I was trying to creep. Bulk Up was a great addition, because Scrafty's Attack stat is relatively low, and it allowed him to gain a much needed power boost for Drain Punch to inflict more damage or to set up against Cresselia. I could also use it occasionally to bluff a Fake Out and boost instead.

      Mt.SoulDew (Latios) (M) @ Dragon Gem
      IVs: 31/0/31/31/31/31
      EVs: 28 HP / 76 Def / 252 SAtk / 132 SDef / 20 Spd
      Ability: Levitate
      Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk)
      - Draco Meteor
      - Surf
      - Tailwind
      - Protect
      Ah, the refreshing taste of Latios. Did you know that EV spreads specifically tailored to survive Timid Latios' Dragon Gem Draco Meteors lose 50% of the time to Modest Latios? I didn't, until I ran some damage calculations. Also, did you know that Latios can actually be defensive? With the investment in Special Defense, it survives a Shadow Ball from Max Sp. Atk Chandelure, and with the defense, a Dark Gem Sucker Punch from max Attack Hitmontop. Also, since Latios is usually paired with Scrafty as a lead, opponents would often be at -1 for Attack. In order to have these great advantages, however, I had to reduce Latios's Speed considerably. That's where Tailwind arrives. With Tailwind under its belt, Latios now outspeeds almost everything -- including Scarf users that like to speed creep this awesome Dragon-type. Surf also throws opponents for a loop because it allows Latios to hit Heatran or other Steel-types for solid damage. Most of my team is weak to Fire-type moves so Surf assists the team with the spread power and surprise element. You wouldn't believe how many people have switched Pokemon simply out of fear of Psyshock, when it's not on my moveset! The 0 Atk IVs serve to minimize confusion damage when the opponent confuses me, which is not uncommon with so many Swagger Cresselia running around. Overall, Latios is the most unique Pokémon on my team and after battles opponents often commented, "Man, that Latios is good."

      Garrett (Scizor) (F) @ Occa Berry
      IVs: 31/31/31/x/31/31
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 108 Def / 92 SDef / 52 Spd
      Ability: Technician
      Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)
      - Bullet Punch
      - Bug Bite
      - Tailwind
      - Protect
      My second Tailwind user, revenge killer, and Dragon-resist all rolled up into one. While Tailwind is not as surprising on Scizor as it is on Latios, it still gives the opponent something a little different to work with. Scizor is one point slower than Scrafty, so if the situation comes up that I need Scrafty to move first, I know for sure it'll work. Bullet Punch is a good priority STAB attack; Bug Bite OHKOs Latios and dents/potentially steals a Sitrus Berry from Cresselia/Amoonguss. The Occa Berry lets it survive some Fire-type moves, with it being EV'd to take a Timid Volcarona's Heat Wave. This makes it a full check to Latios, as it can always survive HP Fire, set up Tailwind and then OHKO with Bug Bite. 108 Defense EVs survives a Fighting Gem Close Combat from Max Attack Hitmontop and 252 Attack is to give it all the power it desires.

      Spark Plug (Zapdos) @Yache Berry
      IVs: 31/22/30/31/31/31
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
      Ability: Pressure
      Timid Nature (+Spd, -Atk)
      - Thunderbolt
      - Hidden Power Ice
      - Heat Wave
      - Detect
      For my next Pokémon, I wanted something that wasn't relying on Tailwind, had a lot of coverage, but not many weaknesses. Zapdos fit the role very well. Electric + Ice + Fire hits lots of things for super-effective, or at least neutral, damage. The EV spread is very basic, and the IVs are to give Zapdos Hidden Power Ice, but the Attack is not as low as it could be because my trade partner could not get anything better. It is also the only non-shiny Pokémon on my team, but thanks to star entrances (which are way better by the way), all my Pokemon had a nice entrance. In terms of the timer, I believe star entrances are a trifle longer than Shiny entrances are, but the advantage with stars is that it is as easy as beating the Pokemon on "Brycen-Man Strikes Back" in Pokestar Studios on the first turn. "Brycen-Man Strikes Back" is also only the second movie, so it's very easy to unlock it. Well, back to Zapdos, the Yache Berry lets it take Ice-type moves like a champ. Normally a Cresselia's Ice Beam would 2HKO Zapdos, but with a Yache, it becomes a 3HKO. And that's merely one example; there were several points in my battles that I loved having the Yache Berry as a cushion.

      Mr. O'Neal (Abomasnow) (F) @Focus Sash
      IVs: 31/31/31/31/31/31
      EVs: 220 HP / 252 SAtk / 36 Spd
      Ability: Snow Warning
      Mild Nature (Up Sp. Atk, down Def)
      - Blizzard
      - Giga Drain
      - Ice Shard
      - Protect
      Nicknamed after my former math teacher because of his college story about how he and his friends lit the ceiling fan on fire and turned it on to see what would happen (you'd be scared), Abomasnow's fear of Fire-type moves is just as great. Abomasnow's main use was to set up Hail and serve as a check to Rain teams with Giga Drain. It's also quite an accomplished revenge killer, with damage from Ice Shard + Hail taking out most low HP foes. I never found much use in underspeeding Tyranitar, as setting up Hail just meant Tyranitar could KO with Rock Slide far easier. With 36 Speed EVs and Tailwind it gets the jump on 252 Speed Jolly Garchomp, OHKOing it with Blizzard providing there's no Yache Berry. In fact, Abomasnow is great for blasting Dragons with Blizzard, and Ice Shard usually revenge kills most of them. The Mild Nature is chosen so Abomasnow doesn't lose any Attack, and losing Defense is not too big a deal when most physical attacks bring Abomasnow to its Focus Sash anyway.

      Egg (Amoonguss) (M) @Sitrus Berry
      IVs: 31/0/31/31/31/0
      EVs: 252 HP / 60 Def / 196 SDef
      Ability: Effect Spore
      Sassy (+SDef, -Spd)
      - Rage Powder
      - Spore
      - Giga Drain
      - Protect
      The first thing people would say is, "Why no Regenerator?" My Amoonguss is very bulky, and if I use Amoonguss, chances are he stays out for a long time. Most of my defensive switches are into Amoonguss, because it can sponge the damage and use Rage Powder because it wants more. While it is taking attacks it really never hurts to have a 30% chance of a status condition happening. Spore is very nice putting opposing Pokémon to sleep 100% of the time, crippling them for several turns. Giga Drain recovers its HP from time to time and Protect is just Protect. Amoonguss was chosen as the last Pokémon on my team because it patches up the team's weaknesses very well. Under Trick Room, Amoonguss is a monster, shutting everything down to give my partners valuable set-up time. I won my round 6 match because my opponent's Trick Room team had no good answer to Amoonguss, and it cost him the match. Amoonguss also gives the team another Rain check and Rage Powder provides a way outside of Fake Out to set up Tailwind.
      After winning six battles in Swiss, I lost to GreySong in round 8. Both of these matches were extremely difficult, and both trainers deserved to be in top cut over me, because they are both fantastic battlers. I have two Battle Videos from the tournament. 24-20774-81894 was my round 2 match against Team Magma member Multi, and 13-19663-70054 was recorded and posted by GreySong.
      Common Leads
      Scrafty + Latios
      This was my most commonly used lead if I wanted to set up Tailwind to have the immediate advantage. Fake Out usually ensured this, but if I could not beat the opposing Fake Out user, I was usually forced to Protect Latios the first turn and go from there. Latios' Surf did little damage to my specially defensive Scrafty, and Drain Punch could recover the HP loss most of the time. The two also had good offensive synergy, as Fake Out + Draco equals OHKO unless I am facing a Steel-type.
      Scrafty + Amoonguss
      This was my most common anti-Trick Room setup, because Fake Out or Spore could shut down the TR user for a turn. If I felt that I would benefit more from keeping TR up, I would let them set up their strategy. Fake Out + Spore was also used on several occasions, to otherwise hinder a Pokémon's usefulness for a couple turns. Amoonguss benefited from the Intimidate Attack drop, and Scrafty benefited from Rage Powder absorbing attacks while Scrafty set up Bulk Up boosts or whatnot.
      Scrafty + Abomasnow
      In case you didn't notice, I love leading with Scrafty. This lead was used against Dragons to cripple them early on. Setting up Hail quickly benefited my whole team greatly, despite only Abomasnow abusing it, because the weather damage at the end of the turn damaging Pokémon like Metagross and Tyranitar was really useful. This was also a common lead against Rain teams, though I never actually faced any Rain teams during the tournament. It was most useful in practice.
      Scizor + Latios
      This lead is for when I need either immediate offensive pressure or a surefire chance of getting Tailwind up. This lead proved to work well against Benji's team, who said that it was a really great way to counter his Amoonguss / Terrakion lead (after the match of course). The lead also has good defensive synergy, as threats to Latios can be handled by Scizor, while threats to Scizor can be handled by Latios. Usually if I used this lead, I left out Scrafty in the back, a fact that was important when I battled Benji.
      All in all, this team is not Worlds material, but I felt that it performed extremely well in St. Louis and I hope I can come up with something even better for Nationals. Now that I am a part of the Nugget Bridge Community, I'm hoping that my skill level will improve even more!
    • Synergistic Frustration: Top 8 Winter Regionals Team & Tournament Report
      By DaWoblefet
      Hello everyone! My name is Leonard Craft III, but you might know me better as DaWoblefet from the Nugget Bridge forums. After confirming my assumptions at last year’s Winter Regional that all the best VGC players were from Nugget Bridge, I joined up with this awesome website and continued to try to improve my battling skill.
      It's Saturday morning the day of Missouri Winter Regional and, because I'm too young and cheap to pay for a hotel room, my brother Koby (Foob), wakes me up at 4:00 in the morning to get ready for the two hour drive down to St. Charles. After scarfing down a sausage biscuit and a banana, I quickly realize why my mom made me drive. After three almost-accidents with deer, we end up at the convention center half an hour before they even open up. We sit around in the car for a while until we notice a couple of TCG players going inside, so we go in and claim some comfy chairs before anyone else has a chance to take them. After a bit, I'm starting to pick up some StreetPasses, and attempt to clear them out, but then a huge wave of players starts showing up. I'm definitely not complaining, and by the end of the day I have 14 more Puzzle Swap Panels completed.
      As I am going through the StreetPasses, I say hi to my first Nugget Bridge members of the day, Blake Hopper (mrbopper) and Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom), two Magmas. I’m super impressed that Blake actually addresses me as DaWoblefet, and we exchange pleasant conversation that I do not remember. Greyson Garren (Greysong), the only Nugget Bridge player there that I played last year, was helpful in introducing me to some of the other Nugget Bridge players, including Joseph Brummet (lucariojr), who had fun making his Lucario plushie play Find Mii II. I also finally got to meet up with Pat Ball (pball0010). He's really fun to hang around with, and was also handy for recording Battle Videos on his phone. I'm still wandering around when I meet up with Mario C, a guy I hung out with last year. He's very easy to talk with, and was kind enough to let me have a couple warm-up battles against him. It looks like my persistence paid off, and I'm glad he's joined up with Nugget Bridge now!
      During these initial introductions, I get to skip to the beginning of line and lock up my Battle Box early since I preregistered, and use my extra time to snap a couple pictures of the event. The room where we were was huge! Considering there were 239 Masters just for VGC and probably more for TCG, the large room size was definitely appreciated.

      Me standing next to the big Mewtwo sign

      Generic convention center shot, used with permission by Wesley Morioka
      I continue to hang out with the Nugget Bridge players, and after talking about Dark Void Smeargle, the blue pentagon hacking, and Tyrantrum, I notice Matthew Carter (mattj) in his infamous Link shirt. he seemed like a pretty cool guy and I hung out with him for a while. The line is slowly starting to decrease in length, and I help someone with a last-minute Life Orb and teach his Pokemon a couple TM moves. You could tell he really appreciated it, and I was glad to help someone out. However, I could not find Scott for the life of me! Anyways, the list goes up to make sure everyone's here, and we get seated. A roar of excitement goes up from the crowd as it's announced that there will be a top 16 cut due to the large number of Masters. Personally, I'm stoked, as I know I have a better chance of making Top Cut now. The pairings go up, and I'm thrilled I'm not facing Greysong or Scott round one. But before we get into that…
      The Team
      After practicing for a while on Showdown with a team of Rotom-W/Choice Scarf Tyranitar/Mega Charizard Y/Garchomp/Meowstic/Mega Scizor, I knew that a team like that wouldn't perform very well at Regionals. It didn't have a very good way to handle Mega Kangaskhan, lacked Fake Out support, and had a huge Trick Room weakness. After hearing things on Showdown about how Rotom-H counters so many Megas and that Salamence was a good metagame call, I came up with a Amoonguss/Rotom-H/Salamence core and worked from there.

      Egg (Amoonguss) @Black Sludge
      Nature: Calm (+Sp. Def, -Atk)
      IV's: 31/30/31/31/31/31
      EV's: 172 HP / 172 Def / 164 Sp. Def
      Ability: Regenerator
      -Rage Powder
      -Giga Drain
      I have used Amoonguss on almost every one of my teams since last Winter Regionals, so I was definitely comfortable using this marvelous mushroom. Even though it gained some new enemies, like Mega Charizard Y and Talonflame, it still pulled its weight at the tournament, redirecting attacks with Rage Powder and giving me some extra turns by putting Pokemon to sleep. I know some people have been using Sludge Bomb over Giga Drain, but I appreciate the recovery more, in addition to hitting Rotom-W for solid damage. Although I usually make my own EV spreads, Ansel Blume's (Stats) suggestion proved to be superior to my original 252 HP / 116 Def / 140 Sp. Def. His spread takes Special attacks better in addition to recovering a greater percentage of HP with Giga Drain, Black Sludge, and Regenerator. Anyway, the main attraction of the EV spread is that it takes max Attack unboosted Talonflame's Brave Bird or Flare Blitz 100% of the time. I wish I could have gotten lower Attack IVs than what I had but, luckily, Amoonguss never was Swaggered during the event.

      Bring↓DaPain (Salamence) (M) @Life Orb
      Nature: Timid (+Spd, -Atk)
      IV's: 31/31/31/31/31/31
      EV's: 20 HP / 68 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Sp. Atk / 164 Spd
      Ability: Intimidate
      -Draco Meteor
      -Rock Slide
      I actually got the idea for a mixed Salamence from my friend Chris Nelson (HeroOfTheWinds) after seeing him use it against me on a team with Mega Houndoom. I didn't like the idea of having a Scarf Salamence in this metagame, although I did like it last generation because of its ability to OHKO standard Latios. This generation, I absolutely adore the Life Orb version. Unlike the Choice Scarf set, which doesn't even get the OHKO on 4 HP MegaZard Y with Rock Slide, my Salamence's Rock Slide can OHKO Zog's bulkier version 100% of the time. Now, you might wonder why I ran a Timid Nature, when with Hasty or Naive, I wouldn't need any Attack EV's. After a lot of calculations, we determined that I actually lost more bulk when I put the extra 68 Attack EVs into the defensive stat that was being lowered. Anyway, Draco Meteor and Flamethrower provided great coverage, and with the Life Orb boosting all of my attacks, it dealt a lot of damage to a lot of stuff. The speed EVs allow Salamence to outspeed Adamant Garchomp by one point, and subsequently outspeeds all neutral-natured base 100s.

      Bread Burnér (Rotom-H) @Leftovers
      Nature: Modest (+Sp. Atk, -Atk)
      IV's: 31/0/31/31/31/31
      EV's: 180 HP / 4 Def / 252 Sp. Atk / 4 Sp. Def / 68 Spd
      Ability: Levitate
      Rotom-H was easily the MVP of this team. Whether it was outright walling teams, burning physical attackers, or simply racking up chip damage on the opponent, Rotom-H was essential to my team. Many people use Rotom-W in this metagame simply because Aaron Zheng (Cybertron) used it in Worlds last year. I'm certainly not denying his success with that form of Rotom in that metagame, but for VGC 14, Rotom-H simply does more. It's a hard check to Mega Mawile, resisting its STABs and being able to burn it or usually OHKO it with Overheat. Mega Charizard Y can't touch it unless it runs the obscure AncientPower, unlike Rotom-W who is either OHKOd by Solar Beam or just barely hangs on. In addition, its Rock-type weakness is somewhat nullified thanks to Will-o-Wisp, my Intimidate, spread move power reduction, and players like Ray Rizzo opting to go for special Tyranitar. While I think special Tyranitar is a better metagame call, Modest and Timid Natures further weaken Rock Slide's power, so that's a plus for me! However, my Rotom-H is weak to faster Rock Slides, as it flinched at least seven times total during the tournament. Leftovers is absolutely crucial for Rotom-H, often recovering more HP than Sitrus Berry would in a match. The EV spread isn't a masterpiece, with it having a somewhat arbitrary speed to get the jump on slower Rotom and Gyarados, in addition to being one point faster than my own Gyarados. The Attack IVs are 0 to further reduce confusion and Foul Play damage, though it actually ended up being pure luck that I obtained a flawless one like this! I had traded off my first Rotom to Beau Berg (Oreios) for use as a breeding parent, but when we traded back, there was a communication error and from the sound of things, I thought Rotom got deleted and my trade fodder got cloned! So, I haphazardly threw my hexflawless Ditto (thanks Toquill!) and another Rotom spitback together, and managed to pull a flawless baby on the first egg. Cool, but also ironic, because I had just spent four days prior getting my hexflawless Salamence.

      Anger Issues (Kangaskhan) (F) @Kangaskhanitea
      Nature: Jolly (+Spd, -Sp. Atk)
      IV's: 31/31/31/18-19/31/31
      EV's: 252 Atk / 252 Spd / 4 HP
      Ability: Scrappy --> Parental Bond
      -Power-Up Punch
      -Fake Out
      -Sucker Punch
      Standard Mega Kangaskhan, with Jolly for more speed. And yes, you saw that correctly; I am using Frustration. Many of my opponents asked why I used that move over Return, and it's simple: Pokemon are tools and could never be our friends it gave me something to joke about. This is the first event I've gone to after joining Nugget Bridge, so Frustration gave me a way to break the ice, or cleverly insert it into the conversation as I'm describing a match or something. Anyway, if you've played VGC 14 at all, you know that Mega Kangaskhan hits like a truck. Once I properly disable any opposing threats to my Kangaskhan, it is used to quickly clean up games. The match where Mega Kangaskhan shone most brightly was my round 7 match where, after burning two of his physical attackers and putting his Mega Manectric to sleep, Kangaskhan just needed one Power-Up Punch and it was good game from there.
      A misconception among newer players is that Mega Kangaskhan is too powerful and that because it's so good people shouldn't use it because it's not original or whatever. While it is definitely strong, it will not win games by itself. You can burn it, Intimidate it, Charm it, outspeed it, or send in something that outright walls it like Aegislash or Mega Mawile to easily take care of Kangaskhan. Despite its popularity, there are ways around it. If your team doesn't have an answer to such a popular Pokemon then, in all honesty, you're probably also losing to teams that don't have Mega Kangaskhan.

      Restriction (Meowstic) (M) @Sitrus Berry
      Nature: Timid (+Spd, -Atk)
      IV's: 31/1/31/27-28/31/31
      EV's: 204 HP / 36 Def / 4 Sp. Atk / 116 Sp. Def / 148 Spd
      Ability: Prankster
      -Quick Guard
      Super epic Meowstic. The nickname is appropriate, as it stops the opponent from doing anything. Prankster is a great Ability on most Pokemon, but if you're looking for the best Prankster Pokemon in the format, Meowstic is my favorite. Priority Quick Guard stops any Fake Out, and also sets up mindgames with the opponent, giving them hard choices, for example, when deciding to use Brave Bird or Flare Blitz on Talonflame. In addition, Quick Guard outright walls opposing Liepard and Sableye, with Foul Play being a lovely 4HKO on it 72% of the time with an Attack IV of 1 (which is equivalent to 0 at level 50). Safeguard, especially coming off of my faster Meowstic, blocks Prankster Swagger, Thunder Wave, and more as well as burns and sleep from non-Prankster Pokemon, including our good friend Smeargle. Charm is clutch on Meowstic, allowing it to severely weaken physical attackers, often forcing switches. Lastly, Swagger was added to increase my odds against Special attackers, Malamar, and for the Safeguard Swagger combo with Kangaskhan and Gyarados.
      The speed EVs invested actually are for that very combo; turn one, I can Fake Out + Safeguard, then turn two, Mega Evolve and go for a Swagger + Sucker Punch to catch something off guard. In addition, since there wasn't really a defined speed number for Meowstic before Winter Regionals, I felt like I could get the jump on other Meowstic a good majority of the time for the first Safeguard. As for the other EVs, 204 HP / 116 Special Defense allowed me to take a Modest Life Orb Salamence's Draco Meteor 100% of the time, while the reduced HP allows me to only take 10 damage from Sand/Hail instead of 11. The Defense EVs are more for generic bulk, but after a Charm I survive pretty much every physical attack in the metagame. The 4 Special Attack obviously does nothing, but wouldn't do anything anywhere else either. Speaking of doing nothing, people may question why I didn't run an attacking move on Meowstic or, for that matter, dual screens or Fake Out. It's simple, really – those moves are inferior. Most Taunts come from Liepard and Sableye, which are both blocked by Quick Guard. Dual Screens is better accomplished by Klefki, and Fake Out is just so bad on Meowstic that I didn't even bother testing it. Meowstic usually tries to stay on the field for a long time, and having a move on it that only works the first turn seems like such wasted potential to me. However, Trick Room and Helping Hand are cool options to try out on it.

      Tugboat (Gyarados) (F) @Gyaradosite
      Nature: Adamant (+Atk, -Sp. Atk)
      IV's: 31/31/31/0/31/31
      EV's: 148 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 Sp. Def / 100 Spd
      Ability: Intimidate
      -Ice Fang
      The first five Pokemon came really easily to me, but the last Pokemon was a tough choice to make. After evaluating my team, it came down to Garchomp or Gyarados. Daniel Cardenas (KermitTheFrog14) helped me make the decision, and although Garchomp is a strong Pokemon with a Rock-type resistance that would have proved useful to my team, Gyarados has Intimidate and a good typing, and was able to function well both in and out of its Mega Evolution. The item was also a toss-up, but the ability to Mega Evolve won over the immediate power of Choice Band. Plus, it meant I could take an incoming Thunderbolt if the situation ever arose, which happened in practice a couple times. I invested enough bulk to take two Solar Beams from Timid Mega Charizard Y as regular Gyarados, which also happened to have enough bulk to survive a Life Orb Thunderbolt from max Special Attack Rotom as Mega Gyarados. The speed is fairly generic, which accomplishes a little bit of speed creeping on the Rotom forms (I beat 52 Spd Rotom with this spread). Waterfall, Ice Fang, and Protect were given, but the last move, like the item, was a toss-up. In the end, I decided that Stone Edge was too risky of a move, Taunt's usefulness was overlapped by Meowstic, and at least with Earthquake, I had an option against opposing Rotom in my Mega Evolution, as well as another spread attack.
      Common Leads
      Meowstic + Rotom-H
      This was by far the safest lead of my team, and I used it when I wanted to play more defensively at the beginning. Charm + Will-o-Wisp could neutralize physical threats in a hurry, and Thunderbolt usually did a good job of chipping away at Pokemon, setting up KOs for later.
      Meowstic + Kangaskhan
      I used this lead when it appeared that the opponent had very little way to check Kangaskhan. If I managed to set up Safeguard and Swagger, opponents usually just fell apart. This is what you would consider to be the “fast mode” on my team.
      I could list all the other lead combinations I used, but that'd be super boring. Besides, I don't have a specific lead pair that I always go with. Choosing your leads can sometimes be the most important factor in the game, so going on autopilot and haphazardly choosing the same two Pokemon every time will make it hard for you to win consistently. Every Pokemon got to lead at least once during the tournament (except for poor Amoonguss lol), but these leads are notable because they came up most often.
      Tournament Report
      Round 1 – Vs. Colten Hedrick
      Team Preview: Wigglytuff / Gengar / Rhyperior / Aerodactyl / Charizard / Liepard
      Brought: Rotom-H / Kangaskhan / Amoonguss / Meowstic
      Ironically, this team looks very similar to the one I had to face in round one of St. Charles last year. However, with Wigglytuff being Fairy-type now and Charizard being able to Mega Evolve, I knew it wouldn't just be a straightforward match. He opens up with his Wigglytuff and Liepard as I lead with Rotom-H and Meowstic. The situation looks good for me as I Quick Guard to block Liepard shenanigans and Thunderbolt the Wigglytuff for some chip damage. However, he reads this well enough and makes a switch to Rhyperior to eat up Thunderbolt and has Liepard use Snarl. However, I'm still not very concerned, and immediately burn Rhyperior while Liepard locks Meowstic into Quick Guard with Encore. Judging by the damage output from Rock Slide, I can tell this burn is going to be huge. Next, I get Amoonguss in and put Liepard to sleep, while I continue to maneuver my Pokemon around to get the advantage. Eventually, my Mega Kangaskhan gets a Power-Up Punch off and it's good game from there. After the match, he told me his Wigglytuff was actually being used for its Ability, Competitive, and was holding an Assault Vest.

      Me squaring off against Colten Round 1
      Win 3-0, Record 1-0.
      Round 2 – Vs. Trae Hurd
      Team Preview: Aerodactyl / Cryogonal / Amoonguss / Rotom-H / Krookodile / Scrafty
      Brought: Meowstic / Salamence / Rotom-H / Kangaskhan
      When I first see the team, I think “That's the one guy who beat Cybertron at Virginia!” While I'm pretty sure it wasn't, if two people are using the same team like that, then I know it won't be an easy match. After the battle, he said he was friends with Calm Lava, but wasn't on Nugget Bridge. From Team Preview I figure Gyarados is too risky to bring with Cryogonal, especially since I've never faced one in practice, and that Krookodile would likely be Scarfed like Human's was. I lead similarly to last game with Meowstic and Rotom-H against his Krookodile and Scrafty. Here, I misplay by assuming his Scrafty will go straight for a Crunch instead of having Fake Out get blocked by Quick Guard, but end up taking the Fake Out damage while also having Rotom flinch to a Rock Slide. I don't remember the next few turns, other than I burned Krookodile and some switching occured. Then, a critical couple of turns took place. My full HP Mega Kangaskhan and Salamence were facing down his burned Krookodile and full HP Scrafty. I figured my best move was to go straight for the KO on Scrafty with a combo of Frustration + Draco Meteor to prevent it from doing a ton of damage to Mega Kangaskhan. Unfortunately, that doesn't work out so well for me, as he gets a double flinch with Rock Slide, and Drain Punch leaves MegaKanga with about 35% of its health. Next turn, I foolishly think that I won't get flinched again, and pay for it by having only Kangaskhan get off an attack while Salamence is unable to move, meaning Scrafty gets a free KO and leaves it at about 75% health. At this point, my Pokemon are simply too worn down to win, and he wins without me seeing his last Pokemon. Still, I can't really blame the match on hax. Because I was letting him continually spam Rock Slide on my Pokemon, I wasn't doing anything to minimize the risk of getting flinched.
      Loss 0-3, Record 1-1.
      Round 3 – Vs. David Hart (D++)
      Team Preview: Scrafty / Rotom-W / Salamence / Kangaskhan / Liepard / Talonflame
      Brought: Kangaskhan / ???  / ??? / ???
      I'm pretty sure I let my loss from last game get to my head, as the words from Cybertron's 7 Tips to Win a Regional echoed in my head: “you can only afford to take one loss and still guarantee Top Cut”. I let my thinking go where it shouldn't have, and made terrible misplays like double targeting into Protects and letting Liepard get a free OHKO with Foul Play on my +2 Mega Kangaskhan. There really isn't any other way to describe the match other than he just outplayed me. However, despite the loss, he gave me some good advice that helped me later, saying that if you try to predict your opponent too much without knowing their skill level, you could easily end up at a large disadvantage.
      Loss 0-2, Record 1-2.
      Lunch Break
      This lunch break was a godsend. Not only did it let me get some more food into my system and recharge my 3DS XL's battery, but it also helped me to calm down and reevaluate my situation. At this point, my brother was 3-0 in Swiss for Seniors, and things were looking solid for him to make Top Cut. However, just because my record wasn't as good as his, giving up was not an option. After eating, I laid back and rested for about 20 minutes on the floor, then went to go chitchat with the other Nugget Bridge players. Talking with them, I learned that two losses could still probably make Top Cut. Also, I knew that at 1-2, I probably would be facing someone who wasn't necessarily the greatest player. Before I see the pairings for next round, I say hello to who I think is Scott, but is actually Kappy. He kindly points me in Scott's direction, and after one sentence I recognize his voice from the Worlds commentary.
      Round 4 – Vs. Brian Krzyzanowski
      Team Preview: Ferrothorn / Hippowdon / Aegislash / Conkeldurr / Gyarados / Gardevoir
      Brought: Gyarados / Rotom-H / Kangaskhan / Amoonguss
      Taking a look at his team, it appeared like it was a hard Trick Room team with Gardevoir as the setter. On top of this, the only Pokemon that could really touch Amoonguss was Gardevoir. Rotom-H would also do a lot of work, so I figured this wouldn't be a very difficult battle. I decide to lead with Rotom-H and Gyarados to potentially OHKO Gardevoir right off the bat. Interestingly enough, he leads with Ferrothorn and Hippowdon. Remembering David's advice, I decide to just go for a straightforward Waterfall and Overheat, which works out marvelously as I pick up the OHKO on Ferrothorn and deal a little over half to Hippowdon while he misses a Stone Edge (though I doubt it would have KO'd Gyarados after Intimidate).  He goes ahead and sends in Gardevoir. Judging by how easy the last turn was, I simply burn Hippowdon and try to go for Waterfall with Gyarados as his Gardevoir outspeeds and OHKOs it first with Thunderbolt. Still, there's very little he can do as I send in Kangaskhan and Mega evolve for an easy KO with Frustration on Gardevoir, while his Hippowdon switches out to his Conkeldurr and takes a -2 Overheat, which was enough chip damage to allow me to OHKO it with Frustration the following turn. Next, I merely Power-Up Punch Hippowdon while he uses Slack Off, revealing that he didn't have Protect on his Hippowdon (the other moves were Stone Edge, Earthquake, and Crunch). As Frustration KOs Hippowdon, I ask if Gardevoir had Trick Room, to which he replied, “No, Gardevoir is fast. Why would it need Trick Room?” By his expression though, I think he was just annoyed I beat him.
      Win 3-0, Record 2-2.
      Round 5 – Vs. Alex Thomas
      Team Preview: Manectric / Articuno / Kingdra / Rotom-W / Klefki / Absol
      Brought: Meowstic / Kangaskhan / Amoonguss / Salamence
      In our conversation prior to the match,  he brought up he had just lost to Mega Kangaskhan and Amoonguss pretty badly. Looking at his team, I could see why.  It was pretty obvious that Klefki was going to be using Rain Dance, and you could tell what he was planning to do with that. So, I lead with the #1 Klefki counter, Meowstic, and Kangaskhan, while he starts things off with Rotom-W and Klefki. From turn one I have the advantage as he Swaggers and Will-o-Wisps straight into my Safeguard and Kangaskhan gets off a Power-Up Punch. From here, I simply KO the Rotom-W and Swagger Klefki as it sets up Rain Dance for the Kingdra that's coming in. Sucker Punch KOs Kingdra and Klefki uses Thunder Wave on Kangaskhan even though Safeguard is still up. He exclaims, “My Klefki doesn't have any attacking moves!” when I ask why he used Thunder Wave. Frustration OHKOs his last Pokemon. Alex is very frustrated right now, much like my Kangaskhan. He starts talking about how nobody is original and how everyone uses the same Pokemon. From here, I decide to actually agree with him to help him get some of that frustration out of his system, because unlike Kangaskhan, it isn't going to benefit him. We talk about Showdown, and I tell him that originality without preparing for the big threats just won't get you very far. I tell him about Wolfey and bring up Human's Chesnaught. Gradually, his mood softens. I give him a pep talk, saying not to give up just because of a couple losses or a couple Pokemon. I'm glad I did, because it may have very well been him not dropping that gave me enough resistance to land 16th in Swiss. Plus, it felt good to help cheer someone up.
      Win 4-0, Record 3-2.
      Between rounds four and five, I was hanging around Greysong and another one of his friends. Like me, his friend was at 3-2, and Greysong was giving him solid advice: don't look at your situation as “only one more loss and you're out”, but rather, just keep going one round at a time. Though I didn't tell Greysong at the time, this really inspired me to do well and it told me that I could still Top Cut.
      Round 6 – Vs. Shelby Wroczynski
      Team Preview: Doublade / Garchomp / Dragalge / Tyranitar / Talonflame / Flygon
      Brought: Gyarados / Rotom-H / Kangaskhan / Salamence
      Shelby and I had actually talked prior to the Swiss rounds starting, and she seemed really nice. Looking at the team, I didn't see much that was threatening besides Garchomp. I decide to be a little cocky and say, “Oh, Eviolite Doublade? That's pretty cool.” It seemed to impress her a bit that I could call that straight from Team Preview, but she didn't look intimidated or anything. To fix that, I led with Salamence to get its Intimidate off on her Doublade and Dragalge, and threw Rotom-H in there for good measure. Now, I didn't know much about Dragalge other than the Adaptablity Ability is still unreleased for it, so I went straight for a Life Orb Draco Meteor from Salamence, which OHKOed it, and burnt Doublade with Rotom-H.  Now, in hindsight, I might have been able to OHKO Doublade with Overheat, but I totally blanked and forgot it doesn't get more Special Defense until after evolving. Anyway, Sacred Sword comes out, doing next to nothing to Rotom-H. She replaces Dragalge with Tyranitar. From here, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but my notes say that the Tyranitar had Rocky Helmet, which I remember activating when I used Power-Up Punch on Tyranitar, and that I forgot to Mega Evolve Kangaskhan. Anyway, it somehow ends up with her Flygon and severely weakened Doublade against my Rotom-H and Gyarados. However, her Flygon was faster than my two Pokemon. I knew that Ice Fang would OHKO, but my Gyarados simply refused to stop flinching from Rock Slide! Rotom wasn't helping much either, missing a Will-o-Wisp and flinching like mad. However, I refused to lose from flinches twice, and Mega Evolved to Mega Gyarados for the first and only time during the tournament. FINALLY I hit the Flygon with Ice Fang, OHKOed, and clean up from there.
      Win 2-0, Record 4-2.
      After this match my brother came up to me and told me some great news. He went 5-1 in Seniors and made 2nd seed in Swiss! I was so proud of him, and it encouraged me to keep doing well. I knew that my opponents from here on out would be far more difficult though, especially considering that Scott, who I considered to be one of the best people participating, had the same record as me. Luckily, I do not pull Scott's name as the pairings go up!
      Round 7 – Vs. Steven Walders
      Team Preview: Mienshao / Manectric / Garchomp / Meowstic / Tyranitar / Venusaur
      Brought: Meowstic / Rotom-H / Amoonguss / Kangaskhan
      I didn't know this guy, but his Team Preview looked incredibly solid. I decide to lead with my safe leads and go with Meowstic + Rotom-H as he brings out Mienshao and Manectric. I didn't really see much risk with going for a Quick Guard + Will-o-Wisp to block Fake Out and neutralize Mienshao. I get even better than that, as his Mienshao reveals Quick Guard, and his Manectric Mega Evolves and uses Overheat on Meowstic, activating the Sitrus Berry. Next turn, it was so obvious he had to switch out Manectric that I target it with Will-o-Wisp, expecting a Garchomp switch-in. Quick Guard blocks the Charm on Mienshao, and he does in fact Volt Switch out to Garchomp… but of course, Will-o-Wisp misses. I slam my fist on the table, scaring the Grimer out of Scott's opponent who was right next to me. I immediately apologize, and Scott says he could relate to the Will-o-Wisp miss on the switch-in. Anyway, I didn't panic, and get Amoonguss in while he brings in Mega Manectric again, while I actually do get the burn on Garchomp. At this point, I look at my situation, and deduce that all I need to do is put Mega Manectric to sleep, send in Kangaskhan, and wipe through his remaining Pokemon. That's exactly what I did too, with Amoonguss' boss EV spread allowing it to take the Overheat from Mega Manectric perfectly and shut it down with Spore.  At this point, he just can't win, with his Pokemon falling left and right to Mega Kangaskhan's Frustration. After the match, he asks for advice, and I tell him High Jump Kick was better on Mienshao than Drain Punch for the ability to OHKO Mega Kangaskhan.
      Win 4-0, Record 5-2.
      Round 8 – Vs. Sean Flowers
      Team Preview: Garchomp / Rotom-W / Talonflame / Salamence / Scizor / Sableye
      Brought: Meowstic / Salamence / Rotom-H / Kangaskhan
      The match was partially recorded by the awesome videographer Pat Ball, so I won't jabber on for too long about this match. Basically, I felt that the Pokemon I brought were the ones I needed. Even though Kangaskhan got KOd early on, I wasn't done yet by any means. I'm not going to lie, after I got the Sableye paralyzed, the Garchomp burned and at -6 Attack, and still had 3 Pokemon left, my first thought was timer stalling. So, I played the clock. However, I'm happy to say that despite the timer running down to 0 like I planned it, I was able to end the game before the timer did. Still, I didn't need the timer in this situation, because even with a critical hit, Salamence could not have been KOd by a burned Garchomp's Dragon Claw.
      Win 3-0, Record 6-2.
      Round 9 – Vs. Aaron Grubbs (LPFan)
      Team Preview: Amoonguss / Garchomp / Manectric / Kangaskhan / Rotom-H / Gyarados
      Brought: Rotom-H / Meowstic / Amoonguss / Kangaskhan
      This was my first Nugget Bridge player match of the day , and the winner of this match would decide who makes top cut (D++ joined after Regionals took place). Stakes are high. Aaron seemed flustered, and when asked why, he said he got haxed out of his last match. His team preview looks very strong, so I decide to go with my safe leads Meowstic and Rotom-H, while he leads Manectric and Gyarados. I was so close to clicking Charm + Thunderbolt to get a free OHKO on Gyarados regardless of his Gyarados' speed, but in the nick of time I remembered that Manectric's Lightning Rod would have none of that. Thankfully, I change my moves up and switch in Amoonguss to take the Waterfall. Judging by the damage it did, I deduce his Gyarados is Choice Banded. He switches Gyarados out, but I don't quite remember why. I do know that I end up Swaggering his Rotom-H, and it hits itself twice before just barely not getting the KO on Meowstic with Overheat. It was at this point in the match that my glasses' lens popped out, probably due to the intensity of the battle.

      It's hard to see with the shadow, but this is when my glasses' lens popped out.
      It all comes down to my +2 Mega Kangaskhan and Rotom-H versus his Rotom-H and Charmed Garchomp. I Protect Rotom-H as his Garchomp goes for Rock Slide. He ends up getting a critical hit on Mega Kangaskhan, and more importantly, the flinch. Now I can't KO his Rotom, which goes for Overheat… but misses. It was huge, to say the least. He goes for the same play again, but this time, Garchomp's Rock Slide neither crits nor flinches, meaning Frustration gets the KO on his Rotom-H, and my Overheat puts LPFan's Garchomp well within Sucker Punch KO range. You could tell LPFan wasn't too pleased, and for good reason. I really wish we could have both gotten into Top Cut, because Aaron still played really well. In any case, we said our good games, and I knew that because of Aaron's great resistance, I would indeed make it to Top Cut.
      Win 2-0, Record 7-2.
      I am super proud of myself for coming all the way from 1-2 to 7-2. I go over and talk with the Nugget Bridge crowd, where pball, mattj, LatiosIsCool, and others congratulated me on not giving up. Sadly, when I go to share the news with my mom and brother, my brother told me he lost in top 8. At this point, it was getting late, so Mom decided to book a hotel room for the night.
      The final records go up, and I look to see my name… at 16th! I had no idea that I was that close to being one under top cut like last year! Anyways, I'm glad I hadn't celebrated too early, and look at the first seed – some guy named Keegan Beljanski who I had never heard of. I go around asking who he is, and bump into Keegan himself, who introduces himself as Darkeness. Later, the top 16 are called over to do hack checks and fill out some sort of sheet where you had to write out all the info on your Pokemon. I remembered reading about these things from 2010 and stuff, but because I haven't participated in anything before 2011 (and that was the 2011 Nationals Seniors LCQ without any competitive battling experience), it was new to me. Speaking of being young, everyone else who made it in seemed to be older than me (I'm only 16), so I knew I would be up against experienced players.
      Top 16 – Vs. Keegan Beljanski (Darkeness)
      Team Preview: Gourgeist / Charizard / Rhydon / Ludicolo / Aerodactyl / Salamence
      Before team preview, Keegan seemed pretty confident. I think he was a bit too cocky, though, because he kept saying Mega Charizard Y sucked, which gave away that he was using it. Of course, he had every right to be confident – he managed an 8/0/1 streak in Swiss, and was now playing somebody who had never cut an event before.
      Game 1
      He leads Mega Charizard Y and Aerodactyl against my Salamence and Kangaskhan. We both go Mega, with my Kangaskhan's Mega evolution surprisingly going before his, which revealed his Modest Nature. I make an obvious play of using Fake Out and reveal my gimmick move, Rock Slide, as he double Protects. Knowing that there is no way in the wonky world of walruses that he's staying in with Mega Charizard Y, I look at his potential switch-ins and decide that Gourgeist is the most optimal. I predict correctly, and the sun-boosted, Life Orb Flamethrower from Salamence does not KO! Yay! However, it does knock Gourgeist's health down to high red, and it heals up with a Sitrus Berry. Unfortunately, I don't make the same kind of play with Aerodactyl, and I Sucker Punch into a Tailwind. At this point, my memory gets a little fuzzy, but I do remember that I manage to get Mega Kangaskhan up to +4 by hitting a Rhydon. He burned my Kangaskhan, effectively giving it +2 Atk, and I take a turn to scout Rhydon's Ability and discover it has Lightning Rod. I also recall KOing his Rhydon with Rotom-H's Overheat, and that Keegan thought it wouldn't KO while I was pretty certain it would. It comes down to a bit of a prediction game, with me needing to call when Charizard won't Protect so Sucker Punch can KO. Once I do that, I take the game.
      Game 2
      The last match was a bit too close for my liking, so I go for my safe leads, Meowstic and Rotom-H, as he leads with Salamence and Ludicolo, both Pokemon that I did not get to see last game. I knew that he wouldn't want to get caught playing into a Quick Guard, so I decide to straight-up Swagger his Ludicolo. Salamence hits with Hydro Pump as I infer that it's Scarfed, while between the confusion damage and Thunderbolt, Ludicolo loses half of its health. However, I outspeed the Ludicolo with Rotom-H, so I know I can KO next turn with Thunderbolt, provided the Salamence doesn't KO me first. I decide that since I'm up one game, if I take some risks and they pay off, the game is mine. I Swagger Salamence, knowing that between Hydro Pump accuracy and the confusion chance, I'll likely not get hit. I assume correctly, and as Salamence hits itself in its confusion I use Thunderbolt on Ludicolo – but I forgot that it had taken the confusion damage prior, so it survives! I'm kicking myself so hard for not using Overheat, but then Thunderbolt paralyzes his Ludicolo. Hax makes up for my misplay, and confusion damage KOs Ludicolo. I feel just terrible for that happening, as I wasn't counting on Thunderbolt paralyzing or Ludicolo hitting itself in confusion – it was my own mistake. From here, Salamence's Rock Slide puts huge pressure on Charizard, and my Mega Kangaskhan got some Power-Up Punches off, so I win, 4-0.
      Match 2-0
      Despite losing that way, Keegan took his losses like a man. I originally apologized for the hax, but Keegan dismissed it, saying that I used Swagger on purpose and that I knew what I was doing when I used the move. I really did admire his attitude towards the whole situation. Anyway, I'm excited I beat the first seed in the tournament, moving on to top 8.
      Because our match finished so quickly, I had a little more time to hang out with pball and the others before my top 8 opponent was announced. When I saw I pulled mattj though, I was overjoyed! Out of all the people still in top cut, mattj was the one person that I wanted to battle because I knew his team from watching his channel on YouTube. Therefore, the “surprises” like Scarfed Abomasnow, Feint Mienshao, and Hammer Arm Kangaskhan weren't going to catch me off guard. However, in hindsight, I should have used this knowledge to prepare leads before team preview.
      Top 8 – Vs. Matthew Carter (mattj)
      Team Preview: Talonflame / Zapdos / Chandelure / Kangaskhan / Abomasnow / Mienshao
      Game 1
      I don't remember all that much about Game 1, other than I switched Salamence out of Choice Scarfed Abomasnow's Blizzard to Rotom-H, and realized that besides that Pokemon, I have no other Ice resists on the team. Lovely. Anyway, it comes down to a very crucial turn where mattj says, “I have a 90% chance to win here.” I'm confused, then understand that he is talking about Hammer Arm potentially missing, leaving us with 2 Jolly Kangaskhan staring each other down. I know from his YouTube channel that despite Hammer Arm, his Kangaskhan has a bog standard EV spread of 252 Atk / 252 Spd / 4 HP, so it's going to come down to a coin flip, and likely a high damage roll for me. However, I don't need to check what kind of damage roll I get as he wins the speed tie (like he should after the Hammer Arm miss) and takes the match.
      Game 2
      Like Round 8, pball was kind enough to record this match for me. I actually made the commentary on the video after Regionals ended, so I apologize if I sound bad or if the content was bad, as this was my first time ever recording over a battle. I wish we could have just directly saved our Battle Video, as that would have saved a lot of hassle later on.
      To go off on what I was saying in the video, after the critical hits occurred, my only chance of winning would have been to use Overheat + Swagger on Mega Kangaskhan in an attempt to KO it. Chandelure would have also had to hit itself in confusion. This alone only gave me a 25% chance to win (the odds are good I could have KOd Kangaskhan if it hit itself in confusion), and even if I had pulled it off, I would have had to play perfectly the rest of the game and probably get many more Swagger hits.
      Match 0-2
      Final Place: Top 8
      Well, I'm out! Yet for some reason, I wasn't upset that the critical hits happened. Maybe it was because luck was on my side in my matches against LPFan and Darkeness, so I deserved to have luck turn against me. Maybe it was because I had seen mattj's team beforehand, so I was too confident and didn't make the correct choices with the Pokemon I chose. But I think the real reason I lost was because mattj's team and skill level is just that good – even without the crits, it would not have been an easy match. I'm also happy that even though my plays weren't working in my favor, I still feel like they were the correct plays and that I did not lose due to me making foolish mistakes like my Round 3 match. It also helped that Matt is super understanding and encouraged me both during and after the match, saying on Facebook that, “Your team was solid and you played solidly… you have every reason to be proud.” He's a great guy, and it's super cool that he won the whole tournament. Congratulations on your Regionals win mattj!
      I loved this tournament! Considering the amount of people that showed up and that both TCG and VGC were being run on the same day, the tournament went along pretty smoothly. I had a great time hanging out with pball and mattj, listening to Scott (trust me - this guy knows what he's talking about), and in general matching Nugget Bridge usernames to faces. To end this report, here's a group picture of all those who stayed til the end, graciously provided by Wesley Morioka.

      From left to right: styrofoameon, ?, GreySong, mattj, Wesley, ?, pball0010, me, Amarillo, Scott
      Article image created by The Knights of Wario Land for Nugget Bridge. View more on his Tumblr, or visit his forum thread.
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