Hello, everyone! Let me start with introducing myself - I'm Szymoninho, one of the few Polish VGC players. I started playing Pokemon over a decade ago after I got "infected" by my cousin. In the spring of 2011 I heard about Pokemon Black and White and about one year later I started to discover game mechanics like natures and EVs. In August 2012, after realizing that something like Pokemon Video Game Championships exists, I decided to try my chances and started to learn about VGC strategies. But I don't want to bore you, so let's start the team analysis.
(In the same order I had them in my Battle Box)
In my opinion teambuilding on your own is the best way to learn how a team functions. I decided that I needed a new team about five weeks before the Italian Nationals. At the time I was using a rainroom team consisting of Politoed, Kingdra, Cresselia, Landorus-T, Escavalier and Amoonguss, and I really liked it but after hours of thinking about it and practicing with it I came to a decision that it wouldn't be a reliable team to use at an event with best of one swiss rounds for two reasons: it leaned too heavily on inaccurate moves like Hydro Pump, Muddy Water, Draco Meteor, Rock Slide and Megahorn. The second reason was that the team had some very obvious threats, the biggest one being Ferrothorn, which I did not expect a large amount of at the event but if I had to challenge a good (by good I mean making decent predictions, not protecting and switching every time he sees a threat to his Pokemon) player using it I would probably lose, and the thing I wanted least was relying on pure hope to avoid certain Pokemon.
I had a few ideas on my mind but still needed something a bit less standard to get the feeling that my team would perform well at the event. I knew I wanted to use Trick Room paired with two or three fast Pokemon because I noticed that a lot of teams on Pokemon Online heavily relied on Thunder Wave + Icy Wind speed control while lacking a solid Trick Room counter (which doesn't mean having Taunt and hoping that everything will go fine). I also noticed that some combinations of Pokemon, let's call them cores, worked exceptionally well in the 2012 season. Two of them led their users to the biggest success: Tyranitar-Cresselia-Scizor-Garchomp (Cybertron's and Wolfey's USA Nationals winning teams, Jumpei Yamamoto's Japanese Nationals runner up team, MangoSol's all-season-long successful team) and Cresselia-Metagross-Hydreigon (Ray's and Dimsun's Worlds winning teams, huuuryu's Japanese Nationals winning team, R's rainroom team aka skarm's Canadian Nationals runner up team). I decided to pick the second one mostly because it fit better to Trick Room and because of all those Hidden Power Fire Cresselia that people still used even though it was neither original nor unexpected anymore.
So I tested the combination of Metagross, Hydreigon and Cresselia in many different configurations and discovered that its main flaw was a huge Bug-type weakness. And then, while taking a long walk on a beach away from any PC or DS, I reminded myself of a pretty underused but incredible Pokemon that I've seen in action a couple of times doing some amazing work, Infernape. Despite not being very bulky it resisted Bug-type attacks x4 and hit them for super effective damage (most notably Scizor). It turns out that Infernape works really well as a lead duo with Hydreigon which took care of Cresselia while the monkey KO'd all Steel-types with its excellent anti-Steel dual Fire-Fighting STAB. At this point I had two Pokemon remaining to add to the team. I knew I needed a solid rain counter and a slow 'mon able to work well under Trick Room. A few weeks earlier I had become fascinated with Suicune and how "anti-metagame" it was. It also fit the role of the rain and sand counter and walled Heatran which I'm always afraid of due to its insane number of resistances. The last Pokemon is Amoonguss that provided third Water resist to the team and forced some predictable leads. Now let me say a word about each member of the team separately.
Cresselia (F) @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 180 SpA
0 Speed IVs
- Ice Beam
- Trick Room
This set might seem to be as boring as possible but proved its worth both in practice and in tournaments. The EVs are very similar to Ray's and Scott's Cresselia but I never managed to make my own spread for it because this one came out to be so good with this team. I maximized HP because I wasn't running Tyranitar so I didn't need to minimize Sandstorm damage. It turned out to be a good decision, because I sometimes survived by one or two HP points while setting up Trick Room. 180 Special Attack EVs let me OHKO 4 HP Salamence that would otherwise threaten Hydreigon and deal heavy damage to Metagross with Fire Blast. The metagame is dominated by Special Attackers but Cresselia's biggest enemies are physical ones (Tyranitar and Scizor) so bulk on both sides was required in about equal amount. Minimum Speed is there for obvious reasons. Swagger boosts Metagross' Attack but also it's a move that makes Pokemon such an unpredictable game. I used it in crucial situations on enemy Pokemon and often paired it with Iron Head to force some luck factor on my side. It is also Cresselia's main defense against such Pokemon such as Heatran, if they're not hiding behind a Substitute, to force switches or gain some time and be able to get a free switch in.
Once during a battle against Human on Pokemon Online he got pretty mad at me for using Swagger on the second turn of the game on his Volcarona. And he was right - using Swagger in the beginning of the match on enemy Pokemon is usually a bad thing to do, in most cases a switch or an attack is much more profitable than flipping coins from the very beginning. I'd like to emphasize how important Cresselia is for this team - it's the only Pokemon able to control speed on the field and I tried to always take it to the battle (unless my opponent had three or more counters to it) after finding out that I usually lose my games without it. I don't have any doubt that this is the best Pokemon in the VGC 2012/13 metagame not only due to its absurd bulk but also because you never know what to expect from it. I ran into many teams spamming Thunder Wave and my strategy against them was to KO Thundurus as soon as possible after letting my faster Pokemon (Hydreigon, Infernape and Suicune) get paralyzed and twist the dimensions to gain a huge advantage. To do that Cresselia needed to be on the field for just one turn. Also some teams were absolutely unprepared for facing Trick Room and their only way to stop it was to KO Cresselia as soon as possible, that's why I chose Sitrus Berry, which in my opinion is the best item for a semi-bulky Cresselia, because it provides burst recovery right after the damage is dealt to increase the chances of Trick Room going up. I chose Psyshock over Psychic to deal with Hitmontop, Amoonguss, Virizion and special "walls" more easily. Being able to hit on both sides of the spectrum paid off on many occasions.
Metagross @ Lum Berry
Trait: Clear Body
EVs: 252 HP / 132 Att / 28 Def / 92 SDef
14 Speed IVs
- Iron Head
- Zen Headbutt
Steel types always come in handy when facing all those Dragons dealing heavy damage to everything that doesn't resist their attacks. The thing I like most about Metagross is its ability which makes it Intimidate proof, a great thing to have for a Swagger target. Since it often was at +2 I didn't feel that much offensive investment was needed. The EVs let me always survive a Drill Run from an Excadrill holding Life Orb, so I was able to bring my only Steel-type against sand teams comfortably. It had enough offensive investment to OHKO dragons like Latios and Salamence with Iron Head after the attack boost. The leftover EVs are put in Special Defense to take Thunderbolts, Hydro Pumps, Earth Powers and Heat Waves without any worries. This came in handy in Round 7 when I survived a Gem boosted Hydro Pump from Rotom-W after taking some damage before. If one day I become brave enough to use Meteor Mash I'll definitely move more EVs from Attack to Special Defense. I've been struggling to put Metagross on one of my teams for the whole year mostly due to its inaccurate STAB attacks but after some testing it became apparent that Iron Head is not a bad move. I didn't want to use Meteor Mash in the best of one format because it very often missed, sometimes even twice in a row. Zen Headbutt hits Pokemon like Hitmontop, Rotom-W and Thundurus for at least neutral damage while Earthquake takes care of enemy Steel-types and having a spread move is always good thing. I have tested a lot of different moves, like Gem boosted Ice Punch, Hammer Arm or even Explosion, but no set provided as much coverage as this one. On this team Metagross was an excellent tool to counter Latios-Hitmontop leads and Tyranitar, which I saw a lot of in practice. For a short while I wanted to replace it with Escavalier but that change would've made me even more Volcarona-weak and I needed Metagross' Flying and Rock-type resistances which were my only ones on the whole team. On the downside, it loses duels against Scizor.
Hydreigon (F) @ Dragon Gem
EVs: 36 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SDef / 212 Spe
- Draco Meteor
- Dark Pulse
Hydreigon is a Pokemon I didn't think very highly of for the most part of the season because it's the slowest commonly used dragon but after Latios turned out to be pretty underwhelming in practice I decided to give the tripplehead another chance. At first I was disappointed after using a Choice Scarf version of it, but later I changed the item to Dragon Gem and it became a whole different Pokemon. EVs let it outspeed Ray's Hydreigon by two points in case someone was smart enough to try to outspeed it by one point but it rarely came to dragon duels. I used the rest of EVs to maximize Draco Meteor power while the leftovers remain in bulk. Dark Pulse lets me hit Cresselia for super effective damage and Flamethrower takes care of most Steel-types. I used to have Earth Power on this set but Scizor was a real pain for this team if I didn't take Infernape to the battle, so I didn't want to rely on only one Pokemon to beat it. I also tested Life Orb but it usually didn't get me all the KOs I wanted, like some bulky Rotom-W. Hydreigon's Dark-Dragon STAB provided amazing coverage with Infernape's powerful Fire-Fighting moves and let me hit any Pokemon for huge damage. I sometimes used Draco Meteor against Heatran when I knew my Hydreigon would go down this turn, it still deals heavy damage and puts enemy in an easy spot to KO for an unboosted Suicune's Scald, so it's good to keep that in mind while using dragons.
A few weeks ago I discovered that many Pokemon Online players are using singles mentality in VGC. What I mean is the biggest difference between those two formats is, in my opinion, speed control. In singles Thunder Wave and Icy Wind aren't commonly seen moves for some reason so you usually need to have the fastest dragon to win a duel (or the most sober one) while in VGC your other Pokemon can do some work to slow down or knock out your opponent. I think that this is the main reason standing for Latios' (along with its base Special Attack, otherwise Latias would've been more popular) and its Choice Scarf versions (which in my opinion is a bit of an overkill) popularity. Despite that during the tournament I noticed a lot more Hydreigon than I expected (two of them winding up playing face to face in the final) while the only Latios I saw was in my round eight game. I'd also like to say a few words about Hydreigon's nature. In my opinion it's much easier to use Pokemon sitting around base 100 Speed when they are Jolly/Timid than Adamant/Modest. Even though some extra power could've helped me to OHKO some Pokemon EV'd to survive a Timid Latios Dragon Gem Draco Meteor, I think that Speed gave me a bit more momentum and let me outspeed Modest Volcarona, Thundurus-T and other Hydreigon which otherwise could deal some serious damage to my team. Sometimes it's better to go for speed instead of power if you're not losing many important KO's/2HKO's.
Infernape (F) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 228 Att / 60 SpA / 220 Spe
- Fake Out
- Close Combat
- Stone Edge
The first potentially eye-catching Pokemon on my team. As I said before, Infernape was put on the team to counter mainly Scizor but later it turned out that it wasn't the best thing it could do. With so many weaknesses Infernape wasn't able to stay on the field for a long time so I had to put Flamethrower on Hydreigon as my second way of getting rid of the steel bug. The funny thing is that people usually brought Scizor against me and didn't fear Infernape at all, since it was able to survive in most cases only two attacks (one with sandstorm up), so I had to be careful. Despite that I quickly fell in love with Infernape because of its typing, stats and movepool and, even though I didn't plan it, it became a part of my most frequent lead (with Hydreigon), and I guess a Pokemon I brought (at least wanted to bring, more on that later) to every game in Milan. Having one of the fastest Fake Outs in the game never hurts, neither do STABs of 140 and 120 base power. Focus Sash ensured I could survive at least one attack outside sandstorm or hail, and helped me activate Blaze, which is a much better ability than I expected. Actually Blaze boosted Overheats helped me beat Thundurus and Landorus Therian formes, as I often predicted them to target Infernape on the first turn, expecting a Fake Out, so I usually aimed Overheat at my opponent. If they were scarfed, then they would've activated Blaze before I attacked, if they weren't, I would've been able to move first on the following turn, so KO anyway. I originally had Feint on this set, a very helpful move that I recommend to everyone in most cases. But on this team Infernape had also a different role - countering Volcarona, which was the Pokemon I really didn't want to play against. Stone Edge made my Volcarona matchup a lot easier, as I often targeted it on the first turn, especially if it was a part of the infamous TopMoth lead. It also provided a way to hit Chandelure as it's immune to Infernape's other moves. I didn't have many issues with accuracy, in fact Overheat missed more often.
The EVs are pretty simple - enough Speed to outspeed Garchomp by two points, in case anyone wanted to outspeed it by one point (usually HP Fire Latios), with 60 SpA EVs Overheat OHKOs Dimsun's Metagross (basically a bit specially bulkier spread than 252/252), the rest is dumped in Attack, because I wanted Infernape to be mostly a physical attacker. I chose Naive nature over Hasty to take Rock Slides and Psyshocks a bit better, but I guess there's no big difference since this was a glass cannon kind of Pokemon that let me put a lot of offensive pressure on my opponent instead of taking hits. If I was to EV it once again I would have moved a few EVs from Attack to Speed to outspeed a max Speed Liepard, but I didn't face a single one in Italy. In my opinion Infernape is a better Pokemon than Hitmontop in most cases, it's faster, hits harder, has the excellent Fire-type STAB and a much better movepool, including Encore, Acrobatics, Taunt, Will-o-Wisp and even U-turn. If it only this had a better ability, like Intimidate or Defiant, it would've literally outclassed the omnipresent boring Hitmontop.
Suicune @ Leftovers
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 188 SpA / 44 SDef / 28 Spe
- Ice Beam
- Calm Mind
This is probably my favourite Pokemon on this team. After over two months of using it I still can't see why it's so uncommon. Suicune's got fantastic bulk, enough offensive power to 2HKO many common Pokemon and superb typing that lets wall a huge part of the metagame after a Calm Mind. In the beginning I mentioned that it's an anti-metagame Pokemon, so now I'd like to explain that. First of all, Suicune counters both sand and rain - it resists Water-type moves and hits Tyranitar, Garchomp and Excadrill for super effective damage. Secondly, current metagame is centered around special attackers and after one or two Calm Minds Suicune can wall entire teams, which won me a crazy amount of battles in practice. Also, given its bulk, it's a great response to dragons. So it walls rain, destroys sand and counters dragons, so it's a pretty situational Pokemon that won't perform well against goodstuff teams, right? Wrong, because you can't counter Suicune the same way as Heatran or Gastrodon. Why? Look at its typing - pure Water. This means only two single weaknesses - to Electric and Grass-types and the majority of Electric and Grass-type moves are specially based, so if I manage to set up a Calm Mind before my opponent switches in his Rotom-W or Ludicolo, he's going to have a hard time fighting Suicune. But they can always double target or hit it a few times in a row until it faints, yes? Yes, of course they can and that's why I chose Leftovers and Protect. Moreover, if my opponent decides to remove Suicune as fast as they can then my Infernape and Hydreigon get a chance to spam some Close Combats and Draco Meteors while Suicune gets all the attention.
The EVs let it survive a Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from a Modest Hydreigon (which is more powerful than Timid Latios) 93.75% of the time (yes, there's always the 6.25% chance for a critical hit) with enough HP to survive sandstorm damage. With 188 Special Attack EVs Suicune OHKOs 4 HP Garchomp and with 28 Speed EVs it outspeeds Rotom-A (most notably Rotom-W) with 12 Speed EVs so I can set up a Calm Mind before they Thunderbolt me. The rest is put into physical bulk because I can't increase it during the battle. I originally wanted Suicune to have a Sitrus Berry but Cresselia needed it more and Leftovers let me recover more damage due to my style of using this Pokemon - setting up and walling the enemy. So now a few words about my move choices. I went for Ice Beam because I think that having Icy Wind on a half Trick Room team is just terrible and I needed an Ice-type move to hit dragons and genies. Scald is there instead of Hydro Pump for two reasons: I was afraid of low accuracy moves and I preferred the burn chance instead of power - on a defensive Pokemon like this burn was the only way to stall out some strong physical attackers (mostly due to lack of Intimidate on this team). Despite not being popular I think Suicune is a great Pokemon to use in VGC, and now, after all those battles I had with this team, I can't think of a better replacement for it. If I had to make a list of the most underused Pokemon in VGC, Suicune definitely would've made top 5.
Amoonguss @ Mental Herb
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Def / 164 SDef
0 Speed IVs
- Giga Drain
- Rage Powder
This is the only Pokemon on this team I could consider changing. Despite being a great thing to have against rain, especially surf-spam, and full Trick Room teams I don't think Amoonguss is a very good Pokemon. Of course, it can do some work early in the game but never on its own and usually functions as a thing that helps sponge some hits or setup. This team has in fact only one setup move - Calm Mind, and the combination of Spore/Rage Powder spam and Calm Mind spam was my favorite, and the easiest way to beat some rain teams that didn't feature Ferrothorn, Safeguard Virizion or Choice Specs Thundurus-T (especially those Hidden Power Flying versions, I guess that's the only Pokemon able to KO both Suicune and Amoonguss so easily). This was the last Pokemon I added to the team, I had a few 'mons for this spot (Conkeldurr, Brave Virizion) but Amoonguss proved its worth in practice and in theory. It provided the second Fighting-type resist and was a Pokemon that helped me abuse Trick Room a bit easier - Cresselia and Metagross are great but both are undersped by a few popular Pokemon, most notably by slow Tyranitar and Gastrodon.
The EV spread lets it survive Metagross' non-boosted Zen Headbutt as well as many Special Attacks including Latios' Psychic or Dragon Gem Draco Meteor. Basically I decided on more Special bulk in order to take surf-spam teams' attacks better which was very helpful. I brought Amoonguss to a battle only two times in Milan (once on purpose, once not) and I lost both of those games but I still can't think of a better replacement for it. You have to be careful when using it, because it can't hit for much damage and Giga Drain is resisted by a lot of Pokemon, so if you find yourself in a spot with Cresselia and Amoonguss against, say, Metagross it's over. A while ago I discovered that many successful teams in 90-95% of cases need only 5 Pokemon in order to perform well, the sixth 'mon is usually a rain or Trick Room counter (like Amoonguss on my team) and should be used only in such cases. I feel like I wasn't very aware of that in Milan but it's been a very important lesson for me.
Before I write about my battles I'd like to say how I used this team since its very beginning. This section is called "Team Combinations", not "Leads" because choosing your leads also depends on what do you have in the back to be able to make some good switches and eliminate some threats for those two Pokemon.
This is probably the most neutrally oriented combination I've used with this team. If I was to play without the team preview I'd probably use these four Pokemon most of the time. As I said earlier - Infernape and Hydreigon are the very dangerous together as I very rarely found myself in a situation where I couldn't hit either of my opponent's leads for Super Effective damage. I used to have Feint on Infernape to OHKO enemy Latios right after they protected because they feared the Fake Out + Draco Meteor combo and I have to admit that I sometimes missed Feint, but Stone Edge took care of TopMoth and Volcarona in general so well that I guess I made the right decision here. If I faced bulky Thundurus I'd often let it paralyze both Infernape and Hydreigon just to switch one of them out for Cresselia and abuse Trick Room (once Thundurus was eliminated of course). Metagross in the back often switched into Draco Meteors or just waited for Cresselia's free switch in to begin its sweep.
This was my main defense against surf-spam teams and rain in general. Turn one - Rage Powder / Protect + Trick Room, turn two Cresselia out, Suicune in, Spore, turn three - Spore + Calm Mind. This was a very effective combination against rain teams that lacked Taunt or slow Pokemon. There's not much to say about it. If I successfully managed to get to turn 3 the game was usually already over unless my opponent got a critical hit on Suicune.
This one is pretty simple but I had to be careful using it. I usually tried to set up Trick Room turn one and deal as much damage as possible with Metagross, then once the dimensions returned to normal I swept with the fast portion of my team or just finished the game with Suicune if they didn't have anything able to hit it hard.
My only setup move is Calm Mind (except Swagger for Metagross but this required two Pokemon) so with a little help from Infernape, Suicune had a way to set up safely. Cresselia was usually in the back so I could use Trick Room late in the game for Metagross or simply keep Fighting-types and dragons away from Hydreigon with Psyshock and Ice Beam respectively.
Probably my favorite combo. My team basically lacked surprise moves bar Stone Edge and setup moves but I could still pull out a surprise Trick Room and switch Infernape out for Metagross to put a lot of pressure on my opponent. There were some people that double-protected on the first turn of the game fearing Fake Out and after I dropped Feint I wasn't able to punish them for doing so. This combo provided a way of actually making use of the turn which my opponent was trying to waste. I sometimes used Hydreigon instead of Infernape if my opponent had an Earthquake user (usually Landorus-T) in case they wanted to use it on Infernape (switched out for Metagross).
I think this was the most underwhelming lead I've ever used with this team. In practice it usually worked but I lost game four in Milan mostly because of choosing Amoonguss over Metagross. As you probably noticed this lead was supposed to counter enemy Trick Room by Faking Out enemy Fake Out / Rage Powder user and Spore the Trick Room user. It definitely has potential but you have to be careful using it.
Hydreigon and Metagross are great as leads but you have to play smart. You can't switch in Metagross for incoming Draco Meteors because it's already out. These two have an amazing coverage and synergy that eases prediction a lot.
I took notes in Milan, so I don't have to rely on my memory but there are a few things that I've already forgot and didn't write down. During the Nugget Bridge Major I didn't take notes so if I say something untrue please correct me.
VGC 2013 Italy National Championship - Milan
Round 1 - vs. Salvatore G.
I was really nervous because it was my first game in a live tournament ever and I tried to do my best and not get Pokemon'd. El Fenomeno was sitting just a few seats away, so we wished each other good luck and I felt it helped me a bit. As I was the first one to arrive at the table I chose to sit in a way that I was facing the wall, not the rest of the venue, so nothing could distract me. His team was very interesting - it seemed to me like he made it just to have some fun there. The other two Pokemon on his team were Politoed and Ninetales. I thought he'd go for Ninetales + Roserade to abuse Sleep Powder (now I know Roserade doesn't get Chlorophyll) but this wasn't the case. Turn one I go for a safe Fake Out on his Castform and Draco Meteor on his Hippowdon for an early KO. I expected him to double-protect to let Castform change its forme (I didn't know that Castform's Sand Forme doesn't exist until now) but well, I really didn't want to overpredict my first ever turn in a tournament. I played OU Singles for one day so I knew that Hippowdon lacks special bulk and his team lacked a Steel-type so it was the best thing I could do there. He sends out his Abomasnow and, if I remember correctly, Castform changes its forme. I go for the Close Combat on Castform and Flamethrower on Abomasnow which turns out to be scarfed. It crits my Hydreigon with Blizzard, does some damage to Infernape which OHKOs Castform (I was a bit afraid of it because I really didn't know what it could do except using Weather Ball). I send out Suicune, he sends out Roserade, I go for Overheat on it but it Protects while Abomasnow spams Blizzard and 'cune uses Calm Mind. The next Blizzard takes out Infernape and Ice Beam deals some heavy damage to his Roserade which uses Giga Drain (I guess). On the next turn I KO Roserade and from there it was easy but I was really scared of getting frozen. Won 2-0.
Current record: 1-0
Round 2 - vs. Manuel D.
I see a basic sand team on the team preview and take some time to pick my leads. I go for Suicune and Infernape with Cresselia and Metagross in the back predicting Excadrill-Tyranitar but as the battle starts I see Amoonguss and Hydreigon on my side. I check what I have in the back and see that it's Suicune and Cresselia, not the worst it could be but I couldn't believe my eyes that I hadn't clicked "Confirm". I was sure I did as it never happened to me before. I was in a rough spot. My Hydreigon got flinched by Excadrill's Rock Slide and from there it was pretty downhill for me. His Tyranitar had Avalanche so I could've spored it but I used Rage Powder before so now I had to switch to get some recovery. For a second I thought I lost to someone who wasn't that bad but when he KO'd my Suicune with Garchomp's Outrage on the last turn and I opened my eyes as wide as possible and looked at him. He looked confident but then I told him that the game picked my leads randomly. Lost 0-2.
Current record: 1-1
Round 3 - vs. Joan B.
I tried to focus as much as I could because he didn't have Castform or anything like that and his name sounded Portuguese, which means he probably travelled a long way to get to Milan, so he couldn't have been bad. On the team preview I saw Volcarona for the first time on that day and I wasn't happy about it. I lead Cresselia - Infernape as he goes for Rotom-W - Volcarona. I go for Stone Edge turn one and Psyshock on Rotom, which used Snatch right before me. I didn't miss and as Volcarona's HP was going down I figured it would've been too easy. I was right. It had Focus Sash and now my opponent seemed to have a slight advantage from there. I realized that they both outspeed my Infernape so I went for Trick Room and Close Combat on Rotom. From there it was pretty easy for me to finish the game as my opponent didn't make any brilliant predictions. I remember spamming Earthquake and my Swagger missing on my Metagross. That was pretty funny, because as soon as he saw me Swaggering my own Pokemon he opened his eyes almost as wide as me when I saw the Outrage Garchomp in my previous game. I won 3-0.
Current record: 2-1
Round 4 - vs. Antonio L.
A Spainard with a solid-looking team. I knew he'd try to go for Trick Room so I picked Amoonguss. I Fake Out his Scrafty and switch out Amoonguss for Suicune. He uses Flamethrower, Suicune gets burned, and I guess that if I switched Infernape here for Amoonguss I would've had the game. I predicted him to go for Trick Room but I guess I went for Calm Mind and Close Combat. I can't remember what happened next, I think his Chandelure had Focus Sash, Scrafty Chopple Berry and his Conkeldurr hit my Suicune for some serious damage with Hammer Arm. A few turns later, when I found myself in a situation where both Suicune and Infernape had very low HP, I realized that if he brought his Metagross then it was over. I prayed for a Garchomp when I took out his Chandelure and had only my Cresselia and Amoonguss left. Unfortunately it was Metagross and I couldn't do anything to it unless I froze it with Ice Beam for about one billion of turns (and it didn't carry a Lum Berry), so I lost. I was mad at myself, because I played really badly, didn't think about saving Suicune for late game, was too lazy to make some switches and got overconfident as soon as I saw Flamethrower on his Chandelure. I lost 0-1.
Current record: 2-2
Round 5 - vs. Ricardo M.
His team looked pretty solid but he had Eelektross, so I really didn't want to lose. This is the battle I remember least, I guess I used Trick Room and Swaggered my Metagross, then finished his Cresselia with FlinchFusion (+2 Iron Heads + Swagger). His predictions were pretty bad, no offense, but he was that Protect + switch kinda guy. As soon as I realized it the game was under my control but I made one stupid move - used Trick Room without checking how fast his Scizor was. Guess what. It was slow. Very slow. But it had Roost. Late in the game it came down to my Suicune (at +1 probably, but I'm not sure) and Metagross (+2) against his Scizor and Hydreigon. I figured that if I got rid of his Scizor I would win the game and double-targeted it with Iron Head and Scald for the KO while Hydreigon protected itself (not sure about that). Won 1-0 (or 2-0, not sure again).
Current record: 3-2
Round 6: vs. Giuseppe F.
I was really nervous because if I lost that game I would've lost my chances to get to the top cut. His team was weird but I reminded myself that Baz mentioned he faced a full Trick Room team with a very slow Zapdos. That was it. He had Focus Sash on his Chandelure and got Trick Room up. Then he came out to be better than I expected and KO'd my Infernape with Heat Wave + Zen Headbutt while I switched out Hydreigon for Cresselia. I switch in Suicune and he double targets my Cresselia with Hi Jump Kick and Shadow Ball. It survives with only a few HP and twists back the dimensions while Suicune uses Calm Mind (I knew he thought I would've protected my Suicune). I go for Scald on his Medicham and it survives with only a few HP, crits Suicune with Hi Jump Kick and faints from Life Orb damage. I double-facepalmed as I knew it would've been very difficult to get back from there. He sends out Zapdos and Machamp. The former KOs 30% HP Cresselia with an Electric Gem Thunderbolt and the latter goes down to Draco Meteor. I try to damage his Zapdos as much as I could with Dark Pulse hoping for a flinch while he sets up Tailwind, which I try stall out. He didn't have Hidden Power Ice but Flying so I had a bit more time than I expected. Unfortunately Dark Pulse didn't crit or flinch so here I am with my 15% HP -2 Special Attack Hydreigon against his 40% HP Electric Gem Tailwind Zapdos. I click Draco Meteor. It misses.
Current record: 3-3
Round 7 - vs. Stefano S.
Meanwhile I mentioned to Ben that from now on, as I didn't have any chances to cut, I was going to, ironically, get lucky. I wasn't as tense as I had been before, from now on I was playing just for fun. I turned up at the table early as usual, talked a bit with people sitting next to me and wait for my opponent. He came out to be a typical cheerful and talkative Southern-European. I guess both of us enjoyed our time. He had a pretty cool team built around the Follow Me + priority idea. I can't even remember how the battle went but I got pretty lucky twice, however neither of us had chances to cut, so we just continued our conversation and shared thoughts on our teams. Unfortunately I'm not sure about the Pokemon we picked to the battle. I won 2-0.
Current record: 4-3
Round 8 - Maycol Re
He was another positive Italian so I really enjoyed our time. His team, as he told me later, was based on Ray's Worlds team, but he exchanged Hydreigon for Latios. He leads Latios-Metagross against my Cresselia-Infernape. On the first turn I switch out 'nape and send Metagross as he double targets it with Zen Headbutt and Psyshock, and my Cresselia uses Trick Room. I remember his Latios had Hidden Power Fire (probably because Ray's Hydreigon had Flamethrower) and I managed to OHKO it with a +2 Iron Head (with a crit, but Metagross was EV'd to get this KO anyway) and his Metagross went down to a +2 Earthquake and Ice Beam (our Metas were of course speed-tied but there fortunately weren't any crucial "coin flips"). He had Garchomp and Tyranitar in the back and the latter was the last man standing on his side before Suicune finished it with Scald. I won 2-0.
Final record: 5-3
Well, 5-3 isn't the best record I could achieve and I have to be honest I was counting on getting into the top cut because in practice this team performed very well compared to other teams I tested. I have to say I'm a bit disappointed with my performance in this tournament, not my team's, because I never found myself in a situation where I could say I had a bad matchup.
Nugget Bridge Major 2
I used the same team in all my matches during the Nugget Bridge Major even though I had a few other ones on my mind. I decided to give this team its probably last chance at winning or generally just doing well. For those of you who don't know, NB Major is a single elimination, best of three type of tournament that takes place once a Nugget Bridge season (twice a year).
Round 1 - vs. Pirate Lion Inferno
Here I really can't remember his whole team. In all three games I led Metagross-Hydreigon with Cresselia in the back but I guess I changed Suicune for Infernape for game three. I won the first game pretty comfortably but game two things went a bit differently than I would've expected. He got a critical hit on my Suicune with a Thunderbolt on a switch in from Metagross so it was a bit difficult. Game three I guess it came down to his offensive Thundurus-I and Hydreigon vs my faster Hydreigon and Infernape. I managed to KO Thundurus and took the set. I won 2-1.
Round 2 - vs. araluen7
He had a really cool team, I liked it a lot but if he managed to change a few things and play a bit more carefully he would've taken this set for sure. His Breloom was Choice Scarfed (which was fantastic news for me) and Volcarona didn't carry Charti Berry. He never managed to bring his Politoed into the battle. I can't even remember what I've used but I know I led with Infernape both games. At the end of game two he got lots of luck (he flinched Infernape with Rock Slide two or three times in a row, once he flinched Cresselia just to Crit it with Thunder on the next turn) but I managed to finish the game with Suicune since Breloom was locked into Rock Slide. If I remember correctly he even wanted to forfeit after those multiple fliches but that's Pokemon and anything can happen so we finished the game. I won 2-0.
Round 3 - vs. honchkro13
I smiled when I saw Suicune on the team preview. He also used Entei and won against me on the cool points. I led Suicune-Infernape both games with Cresselia and Metagross in the back, I got some lucky burns with Scald and it really helped me win the first one. Second game I used exactly the same lead and went for Fake Out + Calm Mind, made some good predictions and won pretty much without any exceptional luck. I won 2-0.
Round 4 - vs. Unreality
This set was pretty sick. And by sick I don't mean bad but very close and full of comebacks, mindgames and turnarounds. I felt I played every game almost flawlessly. Game one I read him pretty well and it came down to his Yache Berry, full HP Dragonite against my Cresselia (15% HP), Suicune (10% HP), Infernape (1 HP I guess) and Metagross (25% HP). He went for Extremespeed on Suicune while Cresselia used Ice Beam (to bring it down to about 60% HP). After that Metagross used Iron Head while Dragonite took down Cresselia. I sent out Infernape, went for a safe Fake Out but it survived by one pixel of HP, didn't flinch and KO'd my Metagross with Fire Punch. I was screwed and hoped for a misclick or something but he used Extremespeed once again to win the set. I thought nobody uses Inner Focus on Dragonite because Multiscale is far superior to it. I was wrong. Game two came down to my Infernape and Suicune against his Dragonite and Rotom-W. I predicted him to Protect Dragonite and used Close Combat and +1 Scald on his Rotom. Suicune was far from Extremespeed range, so I won. Game three I had everything planned once again, I read most of his moves correctly but late in the game his Rotom-W got a paralysis on my Suicune with Thunderbolt and I was able to finish the game if Suicune's Ice Beam hit his Virizion. Nope, Suicune got fully paralysed and Virizion got a high damage roll (yeah, I put that in a calc) on it with Leaf Blade to take it down. I lost 1-2.
This time I was a bit luckier (unlike NB Major 1) and didn't have to play against Dimsun in the first round. Even though I got to the top 16 I feel I could've went a bit further but that's life. Maybe next time.
If you're reading this it probably means that either the read wasn't as boring as I thought it would be or you're really stubborn, either way, thanks! In my opinion it isn't a very smart or original team but I think it is a textbook example of a solid one. It was built around Dark-Psychic-Fighting core and also offers the combination of Grass-Water-Fire Pokemon, both of them have been proven to work in other teams. Also there aren't more than two Pokemon weak to the same type, but you can find a Trick Room counter, a Rain counter and a few Pokemon that are fast enough to work without any speed control help. The reason I'm posting it is my hope that someone may reuse it, maybe a part of it or learn from my experience, which isn't huge but still better than none. I feel like this team deserved a bit more so hopefully someone can do it for me. For 99.99% I won't be coming to Worlds but next time I'll have a chance posting a team here, at Nugget Bridge, I hope it will be more original, creative and, of course, successful.
Despite Pokemon being a game where you play alone rather than in a team, the community is fantastic. If someone told me two years ago that there still are people playing Pokemon and that there are Pokemon Video Game Championships taking place every year, I wouldn't have believed. Now, huge shoutouts to:
- Gonzo - my Polish mate, who's been helping me for the whole season and RNG'd some 'mons for me that I used in Italy. I feel like I learned a lot from him in the past 7-8 moths.
- Lati - we've known each other online for a few months and we finally got to meet in real life in Milan. He made me think a bit out of standard. It was great to finally see you, man!
- Baz Anderson - helped me find a hotel in Italy and was a great guy to talk to for the whole weekend. I hope he'll get enough funds to get to worlds because he really is a fantastic player.
- El Fenomeno - very optimistic and prepared for literally everything. Even though he isn't very active online he's been to Worlds and I'm really happy I got to meet him.
- Kyriakou - as soon as I met him I realised that he's really good and he proved it in his homeland. Ben was bursting with optimism for the whole weekend, wasn't mad even after he got unlucky in the top 16 and in my opinion his attitude is his strongest part.
- PsyJ - RNG'd a huge part of my team. You rock, thanks!
- ryuzaki - this artwork is simply incredible, thanks again!
Also huge shoutouts to everyone I got to meet and talk to at the venue, including bcaralarm, foodking, Mean, Arbol Deku, Fatum and many others that I can't remember right now, sorry for that.
I'm looking forward to meeting a lot more people someday at Worlds.