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Would you like an Ability Capsule? 1000W-0L Triple Maison Team Report

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R Inanimate

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blog-bjaron.pngThis is R Inanimate. Some people may know that before playing in the Video Game Championships, I played a lot of Battle Frontier, and Battle Subway. In a single attempt of playing Triple Battle Maison, I managed to reach a 1000 Win Streak for the first time ever. You may wonder why I'd report about a single player acheivement for a competitive VGC site. Well... have you ever had a situation where you hatched a Pokemon with flawless stats, but the wrong ability? Have you thought about fixing the ability, but were turned away by the steep 200BP price tag on Ability Capsules? This is a team that can go on long runs through the Battle Maison, with a consistant and simple win condition. After Battle 50, each trainer defeated will reward you with 7 Battle Points. Going on run of 100 or 200 wins will net you roughly 1000BP. More than enough for most of your battle item needs. And with that, lets get on to the team.

The Team:

greninja.png

Greninja (M) @ Life Orb ***Samidare

Trait: Protean

EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd

Hasty Nature (+Spd, -Def)

- Surf

- Ice Beam

- Grass Knot

- Mat Block

Life Orb Greninja. Mat Block Support, High-Speed Offense. Leads on the Left. Yes, I know that its Nature isn't optimal for what I am trying to do, and that a Timid nature would work a bit better, but this still gets the job done. It's role is pretty self explanatory. Open battles with Mat Block, then go on the offense. Holding a Life Orb in combination with the automatic STAB gained from Protean allows Greninja to dish out respectable amounts of damage, often netting an OHKO when hitting opponents on their weaknesses. Although Mat Block only blocks damaging moves and has no boost in Priority, Greninja is usually fast enough to pull off Mat Block for the team before the opponents can move, and the opponent Pokemon will very likely go for damaging moves due to the presence of...

aron.png

Lv 1 Aron (M) @ Berry Juice ***Aron Zheng

Trait: Sturdy

EVs: Champions don't need to train, they just need to win

Rash Nature

- Endeavor

- Protect

- Toxic

- Sleep Talk

Lv 1 Endeavor Abuse Aron. AI Abuse. Leads front and center. The moment I was told that the Battle Maison does not scale levels up to 50 if under-leveled was the moment I decided I would try to revive my old 4th gen AI Abusive strategy. The idea here is that Aron is KO'd by any non-Poison damaging attack, and thus triggers the AI's tendency to drop any thoughts of support or setup to go in straight for the KO that they see in front of them. However, due to Sturdy and Berry Juice, that "KOable" target will actually takes 3 hits to go down. Factor in Mat Block and Protect, and this Aron will often command the attention of the opponent's pokemon for at least a good 3 or 4 turns, but by that point I'll have a commanding lead.

Aron's moveset is pretty basic if you are familiar with L1 Endeavor strategies. Its survivability is all in its item and ability, and its damage output is in Endeavor, which will reduce the opponent's HP down to Aron's current HP of 12. Toxic is used for targeting Ghosts, and crippled Pokemon. My last move is Sleep Talk, in case Aron ever gets put to sleep, but honestly I've never gotten to successfully use it. The one time Aron got put to sleep, it woke up immediately causing Sleep Talk to fail.

garchomp.png

Garchomp (F) @ Focus Sash ***SHARK ATTACK

Trait: Sand Veil

EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SDef / 252 Spd

Jolly Nature (+Spd, -SAtk)

- Earthquake

- Dragon Claw

- Swords Dance

- Protect

Focus Sash Swords Dance Garchomp. Leads on the Right. A simple moveset. Greninja and Aron were originally used as a lead pair in Double Maison before I tried it out in Triples. It didn't take me any time at all to decide that I wanted to run Garchomp as my third lead. Mat Block extends across your entire party, regardless of where Greninja is placed on the floor. With Mat Block and the Aron distraction, Garchomp is almost always able to get off a free Swords Dance boost at the start of the battle. A +2 Atk Garchomp with an active Focus Sash makes quick work of its side of the field while the opponent scrambles to take down Aron. In situations where all the opponent's Pokemon are wiped out, and they only have one Pokemon remaining, they will always send it out on my right, and thus facing against my +2 Atk Garchomp.

tyranitar.png

Tyranitar (F) @ Choice Scarf ***Nabata

Trait: Sand Stream

EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SDef / 252 Spd

Jolly Nature (+Spd, -SAtk)

- Rock Slide

- Crunch

- Earthquake

- Iron Tail

Choice Scarf Tyranitar. Weather Changer. Tyranitar makes a pretty good partner to Aron and Garchomp on the team. Hail can be very hazardous to my leads, as it neutralizes both Sturdy and Focus Sash if left unchecked. Tyranitar can get rid of the Hail, and in turn hit hard against those that set it up. Although it isn't the fastest thing on the board, Choice Scarf Tyranitar's speed is still decent enough to deal with a lot of threats. Rock Slide isn't the most reliable of moves, but Tyranitar is usually good at knowing who to pick fights against, as I seldom run into situations where missing a Rock Slide or two would be a run ender. The boost in Special Defense from the sand also makes it pretty easy to switch it in on Special Attacks, even if they are super effective ones. No, I don't use Iron Tail. Ever.

gyarados.png

Gyarados (F) @ Choice Band ***HaiteiRaoyue

Trait: Intimidate

EVs: 164 HP / 196 Atk / 4 Def / 76 SDef / 68 Spd

Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)

- Waterfall

- Earthquake

- Stone Edge

- Return

Choice Band Gyarados. Intimidate Support. Switch Option. Since Gyarados is immune to Garchomp's Earthquake, and resists Greninja's Surf... it makes something that Aron can switch out to, without causing me to lose one of my own Pokemon in the crossfire. This is the only Pokemon on the team with a non 252/252 EV spread, although there isn't anything particularly special about its EVs. It's pretty much a copy of the EV spread I was using for the CB Gyarados I was using in VGC battles post-Worlds. Return as the fourth move since I wanted a strong reliable neutral move to use against Pokemon that resist Waterfall, namely Grass and Water Types.

aegislash.png

Aegislash (F) @ Spell Tag ***Hakurouken

Trait: Stance Change

EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SDef

Brave Nature (+Atk, -Spd)

- Iron Head

- Shadow Sneak

- Sacred Sword

- Swords Dance

An Aegislash. Priority Attacker. Switch Option. I would say that Aegislash is a bit of a filler Pokemon for this team, though it does have its role. Due to having high defenses before a Stance Change, it can survive a few hits even in situations where I have to make a tough switch. Its immunity to fighting also helps act as a Switch option for Tyranitar, and in some cases Greninja and Aron. Aegislash is my only Pokemon with Priority attacks, so it is one of the few Pokemon I can use to act before some of the faster Pokemon in the Battle Maison that can give me some trouble.

Overall:

This Triple Battle Maison strategy is a all about having control over the opponent AI, and having them do what you want/expect them to. While I'd like to say that the team has a lot of fallback plans and stuff, it really actually does not. After all, I managed 1000 Wins on my first run in Triple Battle Maison, so I haven't done much thinking on replacement team members or refining of EVs, items or movesets to allow myself to have backups to my backup plans. Losing the advantage provided by Greninja's Mat Block, and Aron's pseudo taunt and redirection can cause things to spiral out of control without some quick thinking, and possibly a few risky moves on my part to keep myself in the game.

Strategy:

The team's basic strategy is as follows:

Turn 1:

Greninja uses Mat Block

Aron uses Endeavor

Garchomp uses Swords Dance

followed by:

Turn 2:

Aron uses Protect

Greninja and Garchomp Attack, KOing all 3 opponent leads (usually, Surf + Earthquake)

Or...

Alternate Turn 2:

Greninja KOs a Pokemon with Grass Knot/Ice Beam

Garchomp KOs a Pokemon with Dragon Claw

Aron uses Endeavor to drop the 3rd Pokemon to 12 HP

The alternative strategy leaves you at 6-4, with one of the opponent's Pokemon in easy KO range, but since Aron doesn't use Protect for this, it keeps your options open for the following turn.

Usually after pulling off a successful first few turns, and gaining a 6-4 or 6-3 lead, it is very difficult for the CPU opponents to pull a comeback, of which it is a matter of taking out the opponent's remaining Pokemon in a low risk fashion.

This is all fine and all, but the real merit of a team is knowing when your go-to strategy will certainly fail.

Threats

A very quick way you can lose is by getting caught off guard on turn one, causing the regular setup to turn into a disaster. Nothing like losing Greninja to Choice Scarf Manectric, because you thought you would be faster. And in turn, leaving Garchomp and Aron exposed. It's not that big of a stretch for the opponent to happen to have a Pokemon with Blizzard. Similarly, it would be foolish to try to use Mat Block when all three opponent leads are packing priority moves. I'll try to simplify things down to specific examples in this section.

Threats to Greninja

Pokemon faster than Greninja and can KO it (placed on Center, or Left)

This section includes: Jolteon, Electrode, Choice Scarf Manectric, Choice Scarf Darmanitan, Choice Band Aerodactyl, Choice Scarf Terrakion, Accelgor, and Choice Scarf Pinsir.

Manectric will always hold a Choice Scarf unless used by a Roller Skater.

Darmanitan will always hold a Choice Scarf unless used by a Chef?

Aerodactyl will always hold a Choice Band unless used by a Roller Skater.

Pinsir will always hold a Choice Scarf.

While these Pokemon are able to KO Greninja, they'll have to decide between attacking Aron and Greninja, so it isn't always a guarantee that Greninja will be taken out. As such, it is always important to weigh in the options, and decide whether it is worth risking sacrificing Greninja on the first turn or not.

Quick Claw

Specifically look out for Leafeon, and Ursaring. Assess the situation to make sure you'll be fine even if Greninja is taken out by a Quick Claw'd attack.

Threats to Aron:

Priority Users

There's a fairly large number of Pokemon with Priority moves. To name a few that are very common to see with them past Battle 40 include: Arcanine, Dragonite, Abomansow Hariyama, Lucario, Carracosta, Muk, Scizor, Conkeldurr Dusknoir, Articuno, Spiritomb*, Bisharp*  Toxicroak*, Shiftry*, Honchkrow*, Kangaskhan', Ludicolo', Infernape', Medicham', Mienshao'

* These Pokemon only have Sucker Punch. While they use it more often than they did in the past, they don't fully commit to trying to use it against you, opting to only attack with Sucker Punch on Occasion

' These Pokemon have Fake Out. Strangely enough, despite it being able to OHKO Aron, and only usable on turn one... they DON'T always use Fake Out. In fact, they are more likely to use a regular damaging move instead of Fake Out for a turn.

Don't be afraid to use Mat Block even if there is one priority user in play on the opponent's side. A number of the Pokemon may instead use something like Earthquake instead of their priority move, and a similar situation had caused me to lose a battle in Double Maison. It's better to just let Aron take a hit, in order to preserve Greninja and Garchomp's health from various spread moves, or things like Lucario deciding to want to KO Greninja with Aura Sphere instead of Aron with Extreme Speed. Usually, if the opponent has two priority users, or two Pokemon faster than Greninja, I'll use Protect with Aron on the first turn.

Mold Breaker

For obvious reasons. Since Mold Breaker is an announced ability, try to prioritize in KOing them, and not letting Aron have all three of its "lives" taken out in one blow.

Swagger

It's no god. Be on the look out for any Mandibuzz or Absol, as they can often be a pain with trying to spread confusion to your party. Though usually it doesn't change the game plan of Mat Blocking and using Endeavor.

Pokemon that will not try to attack Aron on turn one

For whatever reason, there are some Pokemon that will decide to instead use set up moves, or even use Protect instead of attacking at Aron. A list of the common ones are:

Feraligatr, Haxorus, Volcarona - These Pokemon will use Dragon Dance or Quiver Dance respectively. Feraligatr can be OHKO'd by Grass Knot. Using Endeavor on it will activate a Liechi berry and possibly Torrent, so that is unadvised. Haxorus can be KO'd by Dragon Claw, but not Ice Beam due to Yache Berry. Volcarona will still be slower than Greninja even after a Quiver Dance.

Meganium, Venusaur - These two Pokemon have no damaging attacks that can harm Aron, so there is a high chance that they will use Protect on the first turn. As such, avoid using Endeavor on them on the first turn. There is also a Cresselia that has Toxic which is also unable to harm Aron.

Tentacruel, Cradily, Shuckle, Roserade, Mismagius, Eelektross - Theses Pokemon do have damaging attacks against Aron, but still may try to use Protect instead.

Victreebel - This Pokemon will use Solar Beam

Rough Skin/Iron Barbs

So just Druddigon, Ferrothorn, and Garchomp. This is just to make a point of awareness, as it will disable Sturdy if you activate these abilities.

Multiple Ghost Types

Aron isn't going to do much if it can't hit anything. This sort of situation will likely happen against Hex Maniacs or Psychics, as they run a heavy amount of Ghost and Psychic type Pokemon. In these cases, it's best to just switch out to Tyranitar, while still using Mat Block of course.

Snow Warning

Either Abomasnow, or Aurorus will be what you are looking for. When Snow Warning occurs, it is best to switch either Aron or Garchomp out for Tyranitar immediately, in order to preserve Aron's Sturdy and Garchomp's Focus Sash.

Threats to Garchomp

Froslass, Cryogonal, and Weavile

They are faster than Garchomp, and can do a ton of damage with Blizzard or Ice Punch, respectively. Weavile is especially a problem since it is also faster than Greninja, so you can't stop it with Mat Block. Cryogonal can be OHKO'd by a Dragon Claw, but Froslass and Weavile run Focus Sash. If Froslass or Weavile are placed on the far right, it's better to just switch out to Tyranitar.

Starmie (on far right)

Starmie is similar to the previously mentioned Ice Pokemon. The difference is that if Starmie is in the center, it can be OHKO'd by a Grass Knot.

Togekiss (on far right)

Garchomp can't hit Togekiss. Enough said.

Intimidate

In some cases, its better to just switch out Garchomp instead of trying to counteract a large amount of Intimidates.

Bastiodon

Bastiodon has Wide Guard, and isn't afraid to use it at times, even with Aron's presence. After a close call where Bastiodon's Wide Guard nearly cost me the battle, I've learned that they are a high priority target to be taken out.

Threat Trainers:

Trainers in the Battle Maison each have a set list of Pokemon they can use. Trainers with the same trainer class often have similar Pokemon selections to others of the same class. Here are a few types of trainers that you should watch out for in the Battle Maison.

Scientists/Roller Skaters

These two trainer classes are the most likely ones to come with Pokemon that are faster than Greninja. Fortunately, beyond that, their Pokemon tend to be easily handled by Garchomp, due to having a fairly large bias towards Electric type Pokemon. So while you may have to do a bit of maneuvering at the beginning, it will often be smooth sailing once you get past that.

Veterans

Even with this sort of team set up, the Legendary Pokemon teams of Veterans are something to watch out for. The biggest issue when facing them is that all their Pokemon may be running one of four different movesets. In particular, watch out for Choice Scarf on Entei or Terrakion.

Punk Guy Puck

He only runs Pokemon that can have Intimidate. This can sometimes create situations where Garchomp is lagging behind on offensive pressure, which can give the opponent an opportunity to try to do something. Plan accordingly.

Conclusion:

1000 Wins in one run. 1000 Wins with my only run. As stated earlier, the team isn't fully optimized yet. Feel free to try out other combinations of Pokemon with Greninja, Aron, Garchomp as the leads. You should have yourself a respectable reserve of BP, and be easily able to afford Ability Capsules in no time.

Article image created by feathers for Nugget Bridge. View more of her artwork on her tumblr or Nugget Bridge forums thread.


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A follow up to this. As some of you may have observed when my match with Chinese Dood was streamed during the Salem, OR regionals, I did continue my streak after reaching 1000 Wins.
 
The streak ended at 1845, as it was shown. No ridiculous hax occured to cause me to lose. Just me not paying quite enough attention to my battle before realizing I was down 3-5, with the opponent's remaining Pokemon conveniently being what they needed to win against me. A bit unfortunate too, since I was planning to reach 2014 before the new year, and use that as a new year's greeting. Perhaps next year for 2015...
 
By the end of my Triples Maison run, I had 9700 BP on hand, which then I just played a bit more Maison to get to 9999, which you can see a picture of here:
9fhav9B.jpg
 
 
There were also a few changes to my team from the article beyond 1000Ws, which are:
 
Greninja:
Hasty -> Timid (F)
Nickname change to Samidare Mk2
 
Pretty straight forward optimization change, I'm not using a mixed Greninja, so I took the time to rebreed to Timid, and "fix" the gender. Hence "mark 2"
 
Aron:
Sleep Talk -> Swagger
Nickname change to Aron Traylor
 
Sleep Talk was used all of once. Swagger was used more than once. Swagger was better.
Nickname changed because I don't think I associate Aaron Zheng much with using Swagger. Perhaps you could say that Aron Traylor was a strong team player who specialized in feeding KOs to his teammates.
 
Tyranitar:
Iron Tail -> Aerial Ace
 
Iron Tail is a terrible move. Aerial Ace is weak, but allows Tyranitar to strike across the field in a triple battle, so it has less situations where it's just swinging into nothing.
 
The other 3 Pokemon remained the same.
 
There were at least 3 or 4 battles between 1000 and 1845 which I nearly ended up losing, but had a bit of luck to save myself. In the sense of not missing Rock Slides and stuff.
 
I'm not quite sure if I should be more amazed by the fact I have gained a total of about 17000BP, or the fact that I've spent about 14000 of it.
 
btw, while I ask if you would like an Ability Capsule in the title... I really don't like giving them out, so please don't actually ask for one here.

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CAN I HAVE AN ABILITY CAPSULE, RANDY?

I've already bred all of these Pokemon and I'm really eager to test this setup. Sounds like a lot of fun (and BP)! Hasty on Greninja was really odd to me, but you've clarified that. Good job!

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Was fun to read this report. I'll just borrow the team from Gonzo in the future if I ever need more BP.

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I needed an excuse to farm up a reserve of Battle Points, and it looks like this is it. Heard about this team a while back when you were reporting on it's early success, although it's really nice to have all the details mapped out. Thanks.

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Yeah crazy lol. So in your opinion, is it easier or harder to go on mass win streaks compared to last gen's carts? I haven't tried triples much, but if all I'm missing is an Aron I never bothered breeding...

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I needed an excuse to farm up a reserve of Battle Points, and it looks like this is it.

Get the 50-win trophies/statues for every Maison format!

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Amazing job, 1000 wins is really, really awesome. I have a bit of a concept question about the team though: why did you use Berry Juice over Shell Bell on Aron? You can have a potentially infinite amount of lives instead of just three! However, I don't doubt what you're doing, and I'll bet there's an obvious reason that I'm just missing.

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Well done, Randy. Have you played much Maison doubles or singles yet?
 
It's nice that there is something reasonably expensive to use BP on in 6th gen. For anyone who plays Subway enough, you eventually end up with enough BP to purchase one of the Orange Islands and set yourself up for a cozy retirement. 

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Amazing job, 1000 wins is really, really awesome. I have a bit of a concept question about the team though: why did you use Berry Juice over Shell Bell on Aron? You can have a potentially infinite amount of lives instead of just three! However, I don't doubt what you're doing, and I'll bet there's an obvious reason that I'm just missing.

 
I've been asked this a number of times. The answer is: consistancy.

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Exactly why I love this site, and why I love R Inanimate! Thanks for that informative listing. Particularly this line: Victreebel – This Pokemon will use Solar Beam Just the matter-of-fact nature of this makes me giggle. How many Victreebels did you have to face before you figured that out? And is there any reason you chose Triples instead of Doubles? Very interesting read. A random comment: Does the cpu still try to find anti-parties like it did back in DPP (gen 5)? What were some of the anti-parties thrown at you? A random question: What does the Spell Tag accomplish? Ever considered a Gothitelle (switch & trap)? Or something like Prankster Sableye (not as bulky, but good defensive typing + lots of priority moves)? Just a thought.

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The first Nugget Bridge report where the author never has to worry about his team being stolen for its intents and purposes. (Rather, it might even be encouraged...) Good stuff, Randy.

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Nice! Gotta say, I really like the way you used Aron, so much I might actually rip it off for myself... But I am curious though, just how much BP did you have at 1000 wins? and has that streak ever even ended?

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This article was nice the first time I read it.
 
The second time I read it was nice too.

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This article was nice the first time I read it.
 
The second time I read it was nice too.

These look like the comments from the main site itself. I assume they'll be merged soon.

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My Previous Greninja was Hasty, I just added the 4 into Atk in case I was going to use a physical move. In the end I never did, and then I replaced it. I guess I didn't mention it in my follow up post, but Samidare Mk.2 had 4HP / 252 SpAtk / 252 Speed.
 
So to answer your question on why it had 4 EVs in Attack... well, it doesn't.

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Ahh okay I understand now, I like this team and have been using it. Thanks for sharing!

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A Wailord-sized thankyou, R Animate. Also a suggestion: maybe the lansat and starf berries might be helpful. If you can put time into the berry fields, you can get rare sodas out of them, and I'm guessing there are some hard-to-reach level-up moves made easily accessible without wasting BP on candies.

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Amazing job, 1000 wins is really, really awesome. I have a bit of a concept question about the team though: why did you use Berry Juice over Shell Bell on Aron? You can have a potentially infinite amount of lives instead of just three! However, I don't doubt what you're doing, and I'll bet there's an obvious reason that I'm just missing.


He uses berry juice because the whole point of using the aron was so that all of the opposing pokemon would target it. This way he can survive the first two attacks and have the third still target him. This allows his other pokemon to stack up KOs without immediately worrying about taking hits.

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I was interested so I bred and trained this team. On my first try going through the Super Triple battles I found myself at 67 wins before getting bored and doing other things. This team is amazing.

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      - Tailwind
      - Protect
      Besides Kangaskhan and Smeargle, Talonflame is the only member of the team that made it through the full transition from 2014 to 2015. Talonflame is one of my favorite Pokemon because 1) well, it's a bird of course, and 2) Gale Wings is such an amazing ability. Naughty Nature with 12 Special Attack EVs allows Talonflame to OHKO standard 252/4 Mega Mawile with Overheat, but this is not the main reason I decided to use this spread, because I did not expect to see a lot of Mawiles at Nationals anyway. Overheat allowed me to OHKO the likes of Scizor and Ferrothorn without taking huge damage in recoil and from Iron Barbs. Almost every team in this format has at least one Intimidate user so it was nice being able to work around that. In the past, I used to use Helping Hand on Smeargle, which allowed Talonflame to OHKO standard Aegislash 81.3% of the time, again without having to be worried about Intimidate. In my Round Four match against Blake (Bopper) Hopper, I was able to win one of the games because his Charizard's Drought essentially gave my Talonflame the equivalent of a Helping Hand boost to knock out his Aegislash without having to worry about attacking into a King's Shield.
      Even without Helping Hand, I still prefer to use Naughty Talonflame over Adamant because of the aforementioned reasons. It actually helped Talonflame stick around longer when I needed it to because of the lack of recoil, and somewhat ironically allowed me to sack it easier as well. This might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it is actually very advantageous in some situations to let Talonflame faint after it sets up Tailwind to bring in a heavy hitter like Kangaskhan or Sylveon for free without wasting any turns switching.
      Of course, everyone knows the best way to use Talonflame is to press Brave Bird. Talonflame was essential in some match-ups for dealing significant damage to fast Pokemon like my Round Three opponent's Chlorophyll Venusaur and also Jon (JHufself) Hu's Mega Gengar/Mega Lopunny duo. Brave Bird also helped with my Rain match-up and helped to clean up games after Sylveon and Landorus put dents in opposing teams.

      Smeargle @ Focus Sash
      Ability: Moody
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 Spe
      Jolly Nature
      - Dark Void
      - Follow Me
      - Tailwind
      - Spiky Shield
      Up until this point, I have referred to this team as a "Smeargle team" only because most people perceive will perceive it as that anyway. I believe a successful team with Smeargle is as much of a Smeargle team as a team with Amoonguss is an Amoonguss team or a team with Clefairy is a Clefairy team. What Smeargle lacks in bulk compared to other redirection Pokemon, it makes up for with its phenomenal movepool, its nice Speed tier, and arguably one of the most broken abilities in the game. Dark Void, Follow Me, and Spiky Shield are all pretty standard moves on Smeargle. When Berserk sent me the team, he told me that Tailwind was really popular on Japanese sets last season because people tend to double Protect in the face of Khan Artist. Also, a turn of Fake Out + Tailwind is more likely to net me an advantage than Fake Out + Dark Void because Dark Void can miss and I always have the potential to use it the next turn anyway.
      The EV spread is one I took from R Inanimate last season. It allows Smeargle to survive a Power-Up Punch from Jolly Mega Kangaskhan. After a Moody boost in Defense, Smeargle survives a Double Edge from Jolly Mega Kangaskhan and has an 89.5% chance to survive the same attack from Adamant Mega Kangaskhan. It is also worth noting that standard Adamant Landorus Rock Slide is a 3HKO on Smeargle barring a Defense drop from Moody (which actually happened in one of my games against Blake on Day Two).
      Timid obviously would have been a more optimal Nature for minimizing confusion damage, but this is the same Smeargle I used throughout last season, which originally ran Fake Out. If it had ever mattered even once while testing, I would have bothered to breed a new Smeargle, but alas, here we are.

      Sylveon @ Choice Specs
      Ability: Pixilate
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 224 SpA / 28 Spe
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 SpD
      - Hyper Voice
      - Hyper Beam
      - Shadow Ball
      - Hidden Power [Ground]
      Riley (GENGARboi) Factura stated in his 1st Place Seattle Regionals report that he believes Sylveon has made as much of a metagame impact as Kangaskhan, and I agree wholly with that. Choice Specs Sylveon can 2HKO or 3HKO almost everything in the metagame that does not resist it. When paired with Mega Kangaskhan or the threat of putting my opponents' Pokemon to sleep with Dark Void, I was able to overwhelm a lot of players with huge chunks of damage in the same respect that Blastoise did last year without taking up my Mega slot!
      One of the greatest perks of using Sylveon on this team was that it was able to check nearly every common Smeargle counter. I would often lead Kangaskhan + Sylveon if I saw in team preview that my opponent had any Prankster Taunt users like Thundurus, Sableye, Liepard, Murkrow, Meowstic, etc.. Even if my opponent called my bluff and decided not to lead with their Taunt user, Kangaskhan + Sylveon was a very strong lead in most situations anyway. A lot of people tend to double Protect on the first turn or switch into Aegislash if they have it, fearing the Fake Out + Hyper Voice. I was able to predict and capitalize on these situations by Power-Up Punching my Sylveon and getting Kangaskhan a free +2 Attack boost. Most of the time when this happened, players typically would not Protect on the first turn of the next game because they did not want to fall into the same trap again, so it was usually pretty safe to go for the Fake Out + Hyper Voice play instead.
      The EV spread and moves are pretty basic. 28 Speed EVs allowed Sylveon to outspeed Mega Kangaskhan in Tailwind, with the rest going into bulk and Special Attack. I considered giving Sylveon enough Speed investment to outspeed Terrakion in Tailwind, but Berserk and I decided it was not worth the sacrifice in power because I already had plenty of ways of dealing with Terrakion.

      Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 76 HP / 244 Atk / 188 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      - Rock Slide
      - Earthquake
      - Superpower
      - U-turn
      I do not have much to say about Landorus; there is a reason it has been one of the most popular Pokemon by usage statistics all season. The moveset is as standard as Landorus gets. The EV spread was designed to outspeed Mega Gengar by two points and always OHKO standard Terrakion with spread Earthquake. The leftover EVs were dumped into HP for general bulk and allowed Landorus to survive some weak Hidden Powers. Superpower was especially helpful for Sand match-ups and Kangaskhan mirrors. U-turn was great for playing mind games with my opponents, spreading Intimidate, and maneuvering myself into having the upper hand every turn.

      Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
      Ability: Stance Change
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
      Quiet Nature
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
      - Shadow Ball
      - Flash Cannon
      - King's Shield
      - Wide Guard
      Aegislash was my least favorite member of the team and probably the Pokemon I brought the least amount of times at Nationals. It was added because it did well against most of the current metagame and provided excellent switch-in synergy for the rest of my team. I tested a couple of other Pokemon in this spot (Rotom-Wash and Jellicent), but ended up keeping Berserk's original selection of Aegislash because it provided Wide Guard and was able to hit Gardevoir and Sylveon hard. For the most part, Aegislash did exactly what it was meant to do on the team. On a few occasions, I was able to win games because I was targetted by an attack like Crunch from Tyranitar or spread Heat Wave from Heatran and was able to OHKO back after Weakness Policy activated. I think the biggest issue I had with Aegislash was that it seemed awkward having minimum speed Aegislash on a Tailwind team. Although it seemed to work out alright for me, the spread is vastly outdated and I probably should have invested in more bulk so that I would always survive and win the mirror match against the popular Life Orb Aegislash variant.
      Warstory
      I am really sorry everyone, but I am part of the minority that does not take notes during their games and memorizes everything important instead. I tried taking notes in the past, but I am a slow writer and spent too much time focusing on my notes and making sure I jotted everything down. I found that I was not making the best possible plays because I already tend to spend the full allotted time each turn and I was not able to think through each of my plays properly while glancing at notes. I have a fairly good long-term memory so I can still recall how most of my matches went, whether it be specific turns that were decisive turning points in a game or interesting sets and move choices that caught me off guard. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions about any of my matches in particular, because I would love to share them with you!
      Day 1
      Round 1: Daniel Stein (Blazikenburner) (2-1W)

      Round 2: Harrison Saylor (Crow) (2-0W)

      Round 3: Wilson Palacios (2-0W)

      Round 4: Blake Hopper (Bopper) (2-1W)

      Round 5: Austin Bastida-Ramos (Syncie) (2-0W)

      Round 6: Chris Danzo (Lunar) (2-1W)

      Round 7: Ian Combs (Jakuzure) (1-2L)

      Round 8: Alec Rubin (amr97) (2-0W)

      Round 9: James Baek (Jamesspeed1) (0-0L)

      Subtotal: (15-5)
      Day 2
      Round 1: Leonard Craft III (DaWoblefet) (2-1W)

      Round 2: Demitrios Kaguras (kingdjk) (2-1W)

      Round 3: Blake Hopper (Bopper) (0-2L)

      Round 4: Alex Underhill (Lexicon) (1-2L)

      Round 5: Evan Bates (Veteran Padgett) (1-2L)

      Round 6: Jon Hu (JHufself) (2-1W)

      Subtotal: (8-9)
      Total: (23-14)
      Acknowledgements
       
      I would like to give another very special thanks to coolperson59 Berserk. Not just for letting me steal the team you made, but for always being supportive of me and being an overall amazing friend. Thanks for keeping my confidence up during the event and making sure I did not go on tilt after my losses. Nationals would have been at least a hundred times better if you could have made it, but I know you were there in spirit so that makes it a little better. <3 My second shout-out goes to Mr. Heartthrob himself, WireGOD Wiretap. Thank you for paying for my share of the hotel room with your stipend and breeding all of my Pokemon for me, even the times when I am annoying about it. You are a really great friend too and there is no one that I do better theorying with than you and Nick together (but yes, your ideas will still always be trash to me until I try them out myself just to realize that you were right all along). Also thank you for being a true leader and inspiration to DadBods everywhere. <3 Of course, I want to thank the other members of Team Scrublab, the group I share a small blog with and that I traveled to the Athens Regional and Nationals with: the infamous Jacobo "Digimon Shirt Guy" Salazar (jacsaz), the less handsome Jacob Legler (Legler), and the coolest member of the group: Logan Harvell (TheLog). Thank you to my good friend Andrew Greenbaum (blutrane) for the signature Dive Ball Talonflame. It has yet to let me down and I will continue to use it on future teams. BIRD UP! Huge thank you to everyone in my Splatoon Squad Lv.52Inkay for helping me to get my mind off of Pokemon while practicing when I needed it and for supporting me throughout the weekend! I especially want to thank Thomas Schadinger (th1806) for telling me one night that Smeargle is bad in Best-of-Three situations right before I 2-0'd him. Staaaay fresh! I want to thank everyone that hung out with me over the weekend. Tyson Gernack ( I just want to point out that I placed higher than my friend and apparently twin Chance Alexander (Paragon) who lost on stream and finished 27th. :^) I want to thank the man I met right outside of the liquor store that told me he just got out of jail. Thanks for not mugging me because I legitimately thought I was going to die Thursday night. I hope you were able to make it home alright and are staying out of trouble. To everyone I battled over the course of the weekend: it was great meeting every single one of you guys and good games! We have not yet been acquainted, but thanks Randy Kwa (R Inanimate) for leading me astray to the dark side. Maybe next year Smeargle will finally make it past Top 16 at U.S. Nationals.  
    • Sin's Trapper on Earth: an offensive team Based on Gengar-Groudon Core
      By ALBA
      Hello everybody, Alba's here and he's back again with another RMT in sight of an official competition. Today i present you with my Earth Trapper team.
      At te end of this month i'm going to attend a Regional championship in Italy near my hometown and i would like to bring this team to the competition.
      Without any other word i'll introduce you with the teambuliding process.
      Spoiler In december when the format had been announced, i started thinking about a good team to use in this format. I thought that Golduck with his Cloud Nine ability could have been a good starting point since it can OHKO both M-Rayquaza and Groudon-Primal. Then i added the two legends: Groudon-P and M-Mewtwo Y as offensive powerhouses. Because of Groudon's sun resence, i thought that Mega CharYzard could have been a good addition, thanks toit's fire moves, coupled with Groudon's precipice blades. Sylveon was then added to support with helping hand and hyper voice. In the last slot i selected gengar as a filler.

      After some testing i noticed that Life orb Mewtwo deals more damage than Mega Mewtwo-Y without wasting a mega slot, so the item was replaced instanty. I also understood the importance of swithing in the weather wars, so i figured that prevening my opponent to switch could give me some momentum. So the mega slot went to Gengar, who turned to be an MVP in the team. The team looked more or less this waay:

      After more testing, Chariard turned out to be pretty useless, so i switched it for my favourite pkmn: M-Lopunny. I remembered about an old team report by Jon Hu here on NB who had a similar Lopunny-Gengar core, so i decided to try it over.
        
      in the end i noted tat i never used Sylveon in al my battles, and after a long talk with my long time counseor Sardus, i decided to give Aegislash a chance thanks principally to its wide guard and its ability to deal with Xerneas.

      After the teambuilding, teh team looked in its actual form, which i'm going to explain to you.
       

      Avaritia (Golduck) @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Cloud Nine  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Modest Nature  
      - Scald  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Psychic  Focus Blast
      - Protect
      So, Golduck was my first idea, wich i built my team around. There isnt too much to say about this set, scald and Ice Beam are for OKHO both Groudon-P and M-Rayquaza. Psychic is nothing but a filler move, so it could be replaced with anything else. In the end focus sash allows me to survive always a hit and OHKO my target most of the times. The EV spread is a simple 252/252 for having the maximum speed available and the highest damage output possible thanks to the max SpA.
      Psychic was there mainly for Amoonguss. After Very Good Champion's suggestion i decided to run Focus Blast over Psychic to be able to hit Kangaskhan super-effectively.

      Ira (Groudon-Primal) @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 244 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Hone Claws  
      - Protect
      Groudon. Groudon is simply one of the best pkmn in this format. Its ability to remove water moves is great, and its shher power is impressive. the speed evs, allows him to underspeed by 1 other modest Kyogre-p with 252EVs in spe so i near lways end with my weather condition on, forcing the opponent to a switch that can't slways be made thanks to Gengar's Shadow tag. Precipice blades and rock slide are its best moves, the first is a 110bp stab, while te second is good for hitting flying things, that precioice blasdes on't hits and for the finching rate. Hone Claws is a cool move: it boosts oth attack and precision, bringing Groudon's power to the stars, and also reduces my chanches to fail a precipice blades (which i remind, it has 85% precision).

      Superbia (Mewtwo) @ Life Orb  
      Ability: Pressure  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      - Psystrike  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Protect
      Mewtwo is one of the best special ofnsive powerhouses in the meta. As i sad before, it used to be a Mega Mewtwo, but a find that there was some lack of power so i decded to run it normal with a Life Orb. Simply with this item it deals more damage than the mega, without occuping the mega slot at the price of only losing the ability insomnia. Psystrike is a must-have for every Mewtwo: a stab move with 100bp and 100% accuracy is nearly perfect. Ice beam and Thundebolt are there for coverage and dealing with Rayquaza, Kyogre and everything else that resists psystrike. The problem caused by the absence of insomnia is resolved with the chance of  OHKOing all the threats that could potentially use a sleep move on Mewtwo.
      Here are some offensive calculations:
      Spoiler 252 SpA Life Orb Mewtwo Psystrike vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Amoonguss: 226-268 (102.2 - 121.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO 252 SpA Mega Mewtwo Y Psystrike vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Amoonguss: 206-246 (93.2 - 111.3%) -- 62.5% chance to OHKO 252 SpA Life Orb Mewtwo Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 146-177 (81.1 - 98.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO 252 SpA Life Orb Mewtwo Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Groudon: 166-198 (94.8 - 113.1%) -- 68.8% chance to OHKO  

      Acedia (Aegislash-Blade) @ Leftovers  
      Ability: Stance Change  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 204 Atk / 20 Def / 28 SpD / 4 Spe  --> 244 HP / 204 Atk / 20 Def / 28 SpD / 12 Spe
      Adamant Nature  
      - Shadow Sneak  
      - Iron Head  
      - King's Shield  
      - Wide Guard
      Aegislash was my last addition to the team, but it ended resulting one of the best additions i've made. I've decided to use it after consulting my long time counselor Sardus. with it's typing it helps a lot with the defensive synergy of the team. Wide guard proved to be very useful in  this meta where Precipice Belades, Origin Pulse, Dazzling Gleam Xerneas, Eruption Groudon and water Spout Kyogre are very common. With Shadow Sneak aegislash proved to be an excellent support, dealing more damage, weakening an oppoent that otherwise would ave resisted an attack from another member, or by finishing off weakened opponents. Iron Head provides a good stab move, that can make slower opponents flinch, as well as seriusly damaging Xerneas and evverything that doesn't resists it. The 4 Evs in spe are for outspeding other Aegislash, and the evs in the defenses adds some general bulk to the set.
      I decided to change the ev spread putting 12EVs in spe in order to outspeed other 4spe Aegislash after Apollo's suggestion.
      Here are some offensive/defensive calculations:
      Spoiler Offensive:
      204+ Atk Aegislash-Blade Iron Head vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 168-200 (83.5 - 99.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO 204+ Atk Aegislash-Blade Shadow Sneak vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Mewtwo Y: 110-132 (60.7 - 72.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO 204+ Atk Aegislash-Blade Shadow Sneak vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Primal Kyogre: 45-54 (25.7 - 30.8%) -- guaranteed 4HKO 204+ Atk Aegislash-Blade Iron Head vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 82-97 (45.5 - 53.8%) -- 41.4% chance to 2HKO Defensive:
      252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 20 Def Aegislash-Shield: 45-54 (26.9 - 32.3%) -- 51.6% chance to 4HKO after Leftovers recovery
      252 SpA Life Orb Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 252 HP / 28 SpD Aegislash-Shield: 31-36 (18.5 - 21.5%) -- possible 7HKO after Leftovers recovery
      +2 252 SpA Life Orb Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 252 HP / 28 SpD Aegislash-Shield: 62-74 (37.1 - 44.3%) -- 99.8% chance to 3HKO after Leftovers recovery
      252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 28 SpD Aegislash-Shield in Heavy Rain: 138-163 (82.6 - 97.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
       

      Luxuria (Lopunny-Mega) @ Lopunnite  
      Ability: Scrappy  
      Level: 50 
      EVs: 148 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 236 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Drain Punch  
      - Fake Out  
      - Teeter Dance  
      - Encore
      When i first put lopunny in this team her set was the same i used in my previous Project-X team. But after a short time, looking at the time, i remembered about Jon Hu's 2015 season report, and since i was already using a Gengar like the one he used, i decided to give a try to that Lopunny set. It's a great set. it gives my team all the support it needs. And, thanks to the presence of 3 potential megas in the team i can play some mindgames with my opponent during the team prewiev. For more infos about this set, i quote directly Jon's report: 
      After this, i would say that this lopunny can take a M-Mewtwo Aura Sphere and survive.
      252 SpA Mega Mewtwo Y Aura Sphere vs. 148 HP / 4 SpD Lopunny: 128-152 (80.5 - 95.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
       

      Invidia (Gengar-Mega) @ Gengarite  
      Ability: Shadow Tag  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      - Sludge Bomb  
      - Shadow Ball  
      - Substitute  
      - Protect
      This gengar was one ofthe first additions to the team, and it became one of the fulcrums of the team: with its ability to trap opponents and prevent switches Gengar helped me to mainntain momentum over my opponent,and helped me keeping my weather of choice. It works in good synergy with all the rest of the team, thanks to its versatility and provides also a good offensive presence. Like i did for Lopunny, i quote directly Jon's report for the set:
      My Gengar runs Sludge Bomb instead of icy wind because i needed something powerful that can OHKO Xerneas before its too late
      252 SpA Mega Gengar Sludge Bomb vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Xerneas: 192-228 (95.5 - 113.4%) -- 68.8% chance to OHKO.
       
      All the Nicknames are the seven deadly sins (the missing one is Gluttony) written in Latin.
      Here I have some replays to show you how the team works:
      Replays:
      Spoiler http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-305470434
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-304671691 (I should study the type chart -_-)
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-304667694
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-303717564
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-303345035 (Lopunny Takes an Aura Sphere from Mewtwo and then confuses him)
      And here's a friend of mine using the team:
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-304669653
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-304661539
      http://replay.pokemonshowdown.com/vgc2016-304667691
      That's all from the team  any suggestion will be appreciated
      Hope i was no boring, and please forgive my bad english, but i'm from italy and i'm not very good with it ;-;
      See ya next time!
    • LF: Shiny HP Ground Greninja FT: 2 Ubers
      By CSFlare
      Hey guys!
      The title pretty much says it all, I'm looking for a Shiny Timid HP Ground Greninja!
      Whoever gets me one gets 2 FREE UBERS AND WHITELIST IN MY TRADE SHOP!!!
      Thanks guys!
    • 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
      Moveset:
      -Rage Powder
      -Spore
      -Giga Drain
      -Protect
      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
      Moveset:
      -Draco Meteor
      -Flamethrower
      -Rock Slide
      -Protect
      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
      Moveset:
      -Overheat
      -Thunderbolt
      -Will-o-Wisp
      -Protect
      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
      Moveset:
      -Frustration
      -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
      Moveset:
      -Quick Guard
      -Safeguard
      -Charm
      -Swagger
      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
      Moveset:
      -Waterfall
      -Ice Fang
      -Earthquake
      -Protect
      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!
      Conclusion
      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.
       
    • Rock Slide, No Pride / Hyper Voice, Had No Choice -- Berlin Regional Champion's Report
      By Dreykopff
      Hello Nugget Bridge. I'm back with a nice little team article. This time, by a unique string of magical events, I even have Results™ to show for it. Results happen to not be the be-all and end-all of how this game works though, so most important advice first: This team is a good way past its prime. If you never were fond of it to begin with, now is the worst possible time to grow fond of it.
      ...Oh WEEEELLLLL, I know, right!? The new format has been announced just a few days after I was done writing this Report. Obviously all of this has absolutely no relevance for 2016 whatsoever, unfortunately. Maybe we will get this format back for 2017, who knows. If all of this is just enough to make you not care anymore, you know, smell ya a million Fires, a thousand Deer Forces and another over-population of non-jumping kangaroos later!
      Anyway, today we're talking about quicksand -- shoutouts to Wyrms Eye for coming up with this great name, people should use it more. Instead people tend to give it bland and embarrassing names like "Japan sand" or "Cybersand"... And then there's more more suitable names that I've used myself a few times: STAR as in Salamence/Tyranitar/Amoonguss/Rotom, or just Hyper Voice Rock Slide, because that's really what this team is all about, if you will. The main part of this Report will naturally be the surprise Regional triumph, but since it actually has a medium-long back-story, please let me rush through that first. If you want it in more detail instead, you can look it all up on my blog and skip to the final version.
       
      History


      Top 128 at 2015 United Kingdom Nationals (6-3) People were talking about quicksand a lot shortly after the Japan Cup ended, and so I inevitably stumbled upon the most famous incarnation (ESR / inofficial translation), right as my first Nationals went horribly wrong and I needed a new team. So I just copied the team with some moveset changes that I deemed necessary, tried it out, and it felt absolutely amazing.
      In fact, it felt like I was right back somewhere at the end of 2013. It essentially played like my team from back then, rapidly stacking up damage everywhere to form an overwhelming offensive force while still maintaining defensive stability -- and this time even without the hassle of relying on Trick Room a lot, as the team is naturally super-fast! Thus, it was extremely easy for me to get familiar with the team.
      And then we also have the less personal factor, which is how the team fares in the metagame. On the one hand, we have the nightmare of best-of-1 Swiss, where this team looks pretty strong. It doesn't rely on the RNG to do its job too much but can somewhat force favorable RNG by landing the most hits per turn on average and doing it fast at the same time. The sand weather is also nice to beat or even discover nasty surprises, which might otherwise be much harder. On the other hand, we have the German Nationals top cut. Like more than half of the teams in it are surprisingly weak to this team. Ignorance is bliss, but the ignorance then was forcefully blown away at UK Nats with multiple quicksand teams getting excellent results. Very unhappy with not being a part of it myself, but you know...Swiss happened, Swiss never rests before eating its tragic heroes alive.
      The team ended up having only one apparent weakness, and that was bulky Waters. No way to remove them quickly, lots of ways to be threatened by them. Join those bulky Waters with strong partners, and then things are looking really bleak. If it weren't for them being so commonly used, I'm pretty sure I would have used Azumarill longer, because Azumarill brings so many good things to the team that an Electric type can never offer. It was a purely rational decision to use that mediocre being with the name of Rotom instead for months to come. Regardless, the Azumarill variant remains one of my favorite team designs of all time.



      Top 128 at 2015 Italian Nationals (6-3, **still the old purely special set during this event) 33rd worldwide at 2015 International Challenge June (1728 rating, 24-6 record) Top 16 at 2015/2016 Würzburg Regionals (5-2) This team was conceived after frantic tests with an ordinary Rotom (or alternatively, Gastrodon) that all failed. Pretty much every one of them eventually got caught in painful Landorus/Kangaskhan endgames -- one runs an unstoppable U-turn / Rock Slide script, the other takes away your time to get something meaningful done. The Scarf Rotom was a desperate attempt to fix the Landorus problem while also having some kind of "mini-Landorus" myself, and I brought it to Nationals blindly.
      It's the version I have used for the longest period of time, because it turned out to be really strong after all. Just like the original, it let me forcefully seize control over games when given enough room. Not counting priority, it's essentially the fastest team in the whole metagame, but still not the "Weavile Greninja Heliolisk Mienshao yolo everything" kind of fast, and absolutely not auto-losing to Trick Room. Except for a few rare absolutely awful matchups (not like there's actually any team that you wouldn't have terrible matchups with a little off the beaten track), I had answers for pretty much every situation and losses would almost exclusively be based on me making wrong calls. That's pretty much as close to perfect as it gets.
      With that said, I'm sorry for only delivering such mediocre results, but it really is as I said: I made mistakes as a player. In Italy, I literally threw my (possibly?) hard-earned top cut away in the last round with that one most unforgivable last-turn choke of a decade. In Würzburg, I was unheeding twice, and got rightfully punished both times -- but I'm still gladly taking those precious CP, since I absolutely do not expect to get top 8 thrice in one year. You know, even top 8 a single time would be pretty good for my lackluster standards...
       


      Top 4 at Nugget Bridge Invitational (3-1 matches, 7-3 games) Ripping off Cybertron and completely disfiguring the original, take 2!? This is not a variant I would feel too comfortable with at the usual Bo1 Swiss, so I just, well, brought it to a full Bo3 tournament exclusively. Unlike the previous builds, it's fully situated at middling Speeds, and that can quickly become a problem against teams that are simply faster.
      Playing with Landorus for a while was well worth it, not only because I got this online result. Sadly, he ended up being completely useless for that whole night due to the matchups I faced. So who is better, Landorus or Excadrill? Depends. Matchups, personal preference, what have you. I still prefer Excadrill after all (and I somehow feel like I'm in a minority with that!). Ground/Steel is an amazing typing -- Ground/Flying is just a mediocre typing...and a horrible typing in the same team as a Salamence. With double Steel and an Amoonguss, Fairies usually aren't an issue. Without double Steel, Fairies suddenly become a threat, as I'm completely relying on Aegislash to take care of Gardevoir. And then there's also the Speed part again, because the Sand Rush Ability is absolutely superior in a few situations.
      It's also worth noting that this special-based Landorus set has been made mostly to counter a strictly defined metagame. That doesn't apply to Excadrill, who can be useful against pretty much anything. If you continue on to the end of this Report, chances are you will know why I simply shouldn't put too many of my resources into countering very specific Pokémon.
      In case you'd like to watch some NBI stuff, our YouTube has you covered with my top-8 and top-4 matches.
      And then there's some more that I've tested but never brought to tournaments as well as ones that do look interesting but where I could never motivate myself to work with them for various reasons. Therefore, let's just move on to what you're likely really here for.

      The Final Team


      Victory at 2015/16 Berlin Regionals (8-1 matches, 10-1 games) (And another Victory at the only Premier Challenge I used this team in (5-1 matches, 7-1 games)) So here we have it...a further changed team that took the Fame™ that would have looked better on its predecessors at their respective times. How come?
      Well, things have changed quite a bit for the quicksand archetype. Like a lot of generally unexpected things, it feasted on people's unawareness a bit more than desirable. People eventually wisened up as usual, and then it just degenerated into what you may call "another Salamence team". Salamence teams tend to struggle the most with Thundurus. Thundurus was supposed to be no threat thanks to the whole sand part, the Electric type and occasionally Amoonguss. But Thundurus simply just is at least as broken as Kangaskhan -- whenever those can't lead games on their own, they come with strong friends that will still make them usable against almost any opposition. I pretty much have accepted by now that Kangaskhan/Thundurus/Landorus/X/Y/Z is "best vgc", as we like to put it. Beating teams of that layout consistently while also beating any other teams consistently is completely nuts. With quicksand we set out to do it, and we failed. So, if you can't beat them, join them, right? Maybe so. An absolute requirement to doing well at tournaments is using the best team possible -- whatever that may mean.
      My primary reason for sticking with the dated team is simply familiarity. I'm not the kind of person who could make the move to kangaroos and genies over-night. My experience using them is so little, I would be at an automatic disadvantage compared to people who have run this stuff all year and longer. This disadvantage, at the time of the tournament, was so humongous that using the old team that I knew better than probably anyone else at the venue should net me a higher chance of winning games. Preferably lots of games. I was legitimately expecting to not do well though, as all my practice leading up to this Regional was very dissatisfying.
      (Aside from the pure familiarity aspect, I'm always afraid of Perish and/or Smeargle stuff. You may be aware of how Tauros was literally rampaging through events just recently, but the thing that this particular team fears the most, according to its creator, is quicksand of all things. Quicksand is the closest thing to the ultimate cheese killer, and that's just so nice to have in Bo1 Swiss.)
      As you're seeing, I made a bunch of further changes to the team. Maybe they indeed made the team better, maybe not, I don't know. Changes for the sake of making changes, definitely, as there's no harm in just trying something new while you still can. Again, practice results weren't too encouraging, and that applies to this version as well. In the evening before the Regional, we had a Premier Challenge somewhere else in the city, which I still entered with the unchanged team from Würzburg. Went 3-2, no CP and it was an absolutely chaotic, if not outright terrible, Swiss run. It convinced me that there should be no harm in just going with the new version that I had purposely kept under cover at the big event the day after, hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
       

      CosmosCharge (Salamence) (M) @ Salamencite  
      Ability: Intimidate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature  
      - Hyper Voice  
      - Double-Edge  
      - Flamethrower  
      - Protect
      Brought to 10/11 games of the Regional (and 8/8 of the Premier Challenge). In a way, the solitary Mega Evolution of this team does happen to be the star (or, what about like...THE STAR!??!?) of the show here. My personal experience with Tyranitar/Excadrill teams dates back to the previous generation, and I always felt like they were missing an important piece. The best offensive partners they got were the likes of Latios, Defiant + Flying Gem Tornadus and Therian Thundurus, but still it wasn't perfect. Now Mega Salamence is an entirely different animal -- it's that one monster that truly takes this ordinary weather gimmick to the next level.
      Hyper Voice and Protect are the most commonly clicked moves and the theme of the team is to stack damage at a rapid pace, so it's the most natural thing to just not split between the two Attack stats at all. Double-Edge is still there to conveniently get around Wide Guards or finish off physically feeble or otherwise sufficiently weakened targets whenever the need arises. Flamethrower is there so that a few Steel types can't just easily wall over half of my team, and it also needs every point of Special Attack it can get with how weak it is. I didn't use Fire Blast for inaccuracy worries and it's not hard to get the necessary chip for Flamethrower to do its job anyway.
       

      Wings?Horns? (Tyranitar) (M) @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Sand Stream  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Assurance  
      - Dragon Dance  
      - Protect 
      Brought to 10/11 games of the Regional (and 8/8 of the PC). Tyranitar is the Great King of VGC, the evidently best Pokémon ever created with appearances in every Master Division World Championships grand final match except for 2015, where it still was represented in the top 8. And when it doesn't seize the Mega Stone itself, it comes with a strong friend in Salamence. The synergy between those two is as close to perfect as it gets: Salamence struggles a lot with Thundurus and Cresselia, while Tyranitar can tear down even the combination of both of these single-handedly. Tyranitar, on the other side, will never beat Fighting types and Kangaskhan -- all not too much of a challenge for Salamence.
      So Tyranitar really just used to be a source of medium-Speed damage output and weather control in earlier versions of this team. This has a changed a bit with the introduction of Dragon Dance -- a move that had already been seen elsewhere before though, most notably in Sekiam's team. It's a move that enables me to make deeper plays than just clicking damage. It punishes defensive and offensive play play on the opposing side alike, if they just lack ways to remove Tyranitar without it causing a lot of trouble before it goes down. Dragon Dancing once means you are theoretically getting a Choice Scarf Rock Slide -- favorite move of many -- against a free Intimidate that can actually change moves. Speaking of Choice Scarf; Choice Scarf Tyranitar is terrible and I don't understand how that can be its most commonly used Item. It just gets Paralyzed and thus rendered dead weight by the Thundurus it was supposed to hard-counter. It also gets Scald Burned by all those Waters that it needs to click Rock Slide on repeatedly or even switch into sometimes. Lum Berry is great, you are getting free turns from it everywhere -- and as a bonus, you also get some life insurance against the usual 10% luck of common special moves.
      The Crunch vs. Assurance argument is really interesting for Dragon Dance sets. I can't deny that I found myself in many situations where I had not even a way to trigger the Assurance boost due to the temporarily increased Speed. It was still enough damage per se though, since, again, it's easy to find additional chip with this team. Keeping Assurance was very valuable for the few times when I wanted to wipe some Cresselia, Aegislash or Milotic off the field without necessarily having any boosts, and it's also not too shabby for nailing Landorus switch-ins, effectively defying Intimidate for the hit.
      Oh right, if you haven't known this yet, I should probably tell you: At +1 Speed, Tyranitar is just a bit slower than Mega Salamence, so Assurance stays perfectly triggerable via Hyper Voice as long as it doesn't get even faster.
      Dragon Dance was really mediocre in testing. Keeping it for the tournament was something of a "yeah, like, whatever" thing, because absolutely everything was feeling mediocre anyway. Then it became the one move that won me the tournament. You can't make this up.
       

      Oh So Silent (Amoonguss) (F) @ Rocky Helmet  
      Ability: Regenerator  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 212 Def / 44 SpD  
      Relaxed Nature  
      IVs: 4 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Giga Drain  
      - Spore  
      - Rage Powder  
      - Protect 
      Brought to 4/11 games of the Regional (and 5/8 of the PC). It's The Great Sporini. You've probably seen this nuisance much more than you ever could enjoy. I'm (not) sorry, sorry! It's also kinda bad because it can't redirect Grass types, and a few people do keep trying to make them work or, even worse, have succeeded at that endeavour. *cough* As for all the rest, Safety Goggles aren't the biggest problem anymore because the sand helps you find them before they actually strike, and the average team you're facing most definitely is somewhat Amoonguss weak. And Amoonguss also is almost a necessity in order to survive against Kangaskhan, Bisharp and Fighting types. This happens to be exactly what the Rocky Helmet is for, naturally. Finally, and as always, it may be needed for some Trick Room matchups.
      For all of the whole National Dex format, I essentially failed to teambuild without Amoonguss. People are still making fun of me for preaching how useless Amoonguss was (to me, at least). You may call me a filthy traitor, but you know, Amoonguss really isn't useless anymore. I'm grateful to have it on my side...while still beating all opposing Amoongusses to pulps, hahahahah!
       

      HymnsOfLoss (Rotom-Wash) @ Choice Specs  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 60 SpA / 196 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 14 Atk / 30 Def  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Hydro Pump  
      - Volt Switch  
      - Hidden Power [Ice] 
      Brought to all 11 games of the Regional (and 6/8 of the PC). And thus we have it complete, this illustrious STAR core, following a long...ish tradition of naming common combinations by sequences of their starting letters. Have you ever...been thrown into a star's core!??
      I had a completely offensive Choice Scarf set here for the longest time, out of fear of Scarf Landorus and other annoying super-fast stuff. The problem with that was Kangaskhan + Heatran. A feeble Rotom like that wasn't exactly reliable to even stay around for too long, and it in fact was still not strong enough to OHKO any Heatran -- let alone deal with it once it gets a free Substitute up. I somehow forced myself to quench this paranoia, and thus give an equally, if not even more, innovative Choice Specs set a shot. By just keeping the Timid Nature around, it would still be moderately fast at least, but Special Attack points were enabled to wander back over into some semblance of bulkiness, while still doing damage that was completely unseen before. Looking at how often it took hits with very few HP left, I can be sure that I've built this in the best way possible.
      Volt Switch from the original Scarf set is still around to keep my mobility options. Moving my own board around in all imaginable ways doing damage at the same time and even having a multitude of Abilities that benefit from switching, it's really neat. If only it wouldn't choke on Ground or Lightningrod from time to time... And finally, Hidden Power is absolute filler. I hate Salamence mirrors with this team due to my lack of a Dragon move, so I just took this slot as an excuse. (It may also help with Landorus from time to time, not having that possible Hydro miss in endgames anymore, I guess.) Another move I considered was Electroweb again, never got around to test it with the Choice lock.
       

      I Punish (Aegislash) (M) @ Leftovers  
      Ability: Stance Change  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 76 SpA / 100 SpD / 68 Spe  
      Modest Nature  
      IVs: 7 Atk  
      - Shadow Ball  
      - Substitute  
      - Wide Guard  
      - King's Shield 
      Brought to 3/11 games of the Regional (and 3/8 of the PC). The infamous Sword and Shield Made in Germany™. I really hate this set for how badly it gets walled by Kangaskhan, but using it became a necessary evil as I was moving away from Azumarill way earlier. Substitute is absolutely required for dealing with Trick Room and Wide Guard is just Wide Guard, it helps against like half the metagame. This is not limited to but also includes this hilarious use case where you can have Salamence wall an Ice-Beam-less Cresselia or Milotic. Flash Cannon may still be sanely playable, but the one time I tried it I quickly regretted it when people started throwing greedy plays at me that simply shouldn't work. The end of the line was that I just swallowed having an offensively incapable moveset and grew more careful using it.
      The more interesting part may be the EV spread. First and foremost: Aegislash is cancer. Aegislash mirrors are cancer. This Speed is just an arbitrary number to hopefully get an edge in Aegislash mirrors. The Special Attack is an arbitrary number as well that just so happens to keep common OHKOs and 2HKOs in place. The defining part is all of this defensive overload that I've grown to like a lot. I always felt like the typical 252/0 build wasn't too nice to have, with people either EVing to beat it or, more commonly, things just being all damage rolls. My spread eliminates those damage rolls. If you seek to OHKO it as a Shield, it takes nothing less than some Overheat, period. And then as Blade, it's pretty good at surviving otherwise threatening hits as well. This allows me to make very safe plays that my opponents may not even be aware of.
       

      SeizeTheWind (Excadrill) (F) @ Life Orb  
      Ability: Sand Rush  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Iron Head  
      - Earthquake  
      - Protect 
      Brought to 6/11 games of the Regional (and 2/8 of the PC). Excadrill happens to be my favorite Ground Pokémon in this format. It's not surprising how few people even like it due to how vastly different from Landorus (ordinary Therian in this case, not related to the sand team) it is, but it's still pretty good. Amazing type, amazing stats, amazing moves, all of it. I like to paraphrase it as "a Greninja that isn't bad" a lot, because it really plays like a Greninja with a known moveset but it doesn't share Greninja's typical downfalls of fearing Thunder Wave and going down to neutral hits easily. And sometimes, I can even bring it without sand!
      As you've seen way above, I used to prefer Drill Run as the Ground STAB. Gets around Wide Guard and is usable beside an attacking Tyranitar. I made the late change to Earthquake realizing that this option wasn't as needed anymore as it used to be. As in, a common play against bulky Waters used to be to slam them with a Drill Run + Assurance double-target, but now I have a Rotom that is really good at threatening them. A Rotom that also does lots of damage in general, a Rotom that doesn't want to be supported by even more single-targets but some nice spread. This happens to be a thing with recent metagame shifts towards Kangaskhan/Azumarill/Amoonguss (KAA ツ) cheese that I'm definitely interested to break in its very foundations if I can. So having non-Choice Earthquake was simply easier than having Choice Discharge with only one immunity.
      And aside from all that, I've been playing around with Chandyholmes's team (translation) a lot recently. I love it, I even considered running it at Regionals! It commonly boils down to Salamence/Mamoswine Hyper Voice + Earthquake sweeping endgames, and the Electric type immune to it is there as well. Excadrill isn't quite the same due to that lack of Ice STAB priority, but the remote influence isn't deniable. Chandyholmes's team essentially is "quicksand without the sand part".
      Oh right, one more thing. People have given me lots of faces for running Life Orb and not Focus Sash. It's not my disadvantage they don't seem to fully understand me, I guess. Focus Sash is indeed good for doing stuff like flinchbotting with it, but that's not my style of play. I'm looking for the straight damage and flinches are just a welcome bonus in times when I really need to assert my position as The Better Player™. Focus Sash is bad at doing damage and gets completely cheesed by Intimidate. I already have Tyranitar if I want to get cheesed by Intimidate, and that's well enough. Life Orb lets Excadrill still do work when at -1. One of the most striking examples of this is that while people would commonly believe that Landorus be Excadrill's nemesis, it's really almost the other way around with how much this boosted Iron Head still hurts!
       
      The Tournament
      Round 1: vs. Sy Thai Ducng N.

      There was a Battle Spot loss to another Gardevoir/Whimsicott team still very fresh in my mind. My win ratio against Gardevoir is higher than 90% while having Excadrill, but most of these Gardevoirs had clearly less difficult partners. Also, whenever I'm seeing Terracott, I'd normally just lead Tyranitar/Excadrill. This time, I didn't do it because I was afraid of the Milotic gaining free momentum, having given up my usual option of possibly donking it with Drill Run + Assurance for this tournament. Well, for whatever reason he didn't bring the Milotic at all. So I ended up bringing a very suboptimal lead against Whimsicott and Terrakion, and lost my Excadrill immediately. Then he compelled me to remove the Whimsicott so it couldn't Encore my everyone and stuff, but naturally he clicked Tailwind right as he lost it, and in came Gardevoir to totally destroy me together with Terrakion. I lost this game at team preview already. 0-1
      So that's...off to a good start again, huh? Going into the tournament, my goal was to merely reach top 16, because that's the lowest of the available CP payouts that I could accept having on my final season record. With this start though, top 16 was extremely unlikely to get right from the start because of how the Swiss system works. In other words, top cut or bust. Having never before made top cut at any official event with more than 30 people in it, I was genuinely amused.
      Round 2: vs. Tristan S.

      This team looks rather weak to Aegislash (assuming non-Mega Gyarados, which was correct), so I fished for a free Substitute and got it right in the first turn. The game took a while due to a lot of switching and Protecting, but I was able to grind him down comfortably thanks to reading all of Ludicolo's moves correctly and always having the Speed advantage with Aegislash's partner. 1-1
      Round 3: vs. Dominik G.

      STAAP. Normally I would be very afraid of this matchup because I was always lacking ways to hit Porygon2 hard. The changes I made to Rotom and Excadrill now do mitigate this a bit, and it played out perfectly as I led these two into Porygon2 and Azumarill. Volt Switch + Earthquake put both of them into yellow health before I lost my Excadrill to a Waterfall and my incoming Salamence got hit by a pretty strong Tri Attack that fortunately didn't net a status ailment. That 3-4 start was still extremely good, as I then got Tyranitar in for free and the perfect momentum with it to eventually clean everything up. 2-1
      And then I randomly caught a glimpse through the windows. We have been blessed with some snowfall. I absolutely love snow, I'm a man of Winter. Might as well say I'm a filthy special snowflake with my weird team decisions. Sorry for my phone's camera being bad, but here's what now seems to be deserving to be called a moment of history (joke's on me for not going to København as well, I guess):

      Round 4: vs. Yassine B.

      It wouldn't be a real Regional without playing one of your own locals -- and Yassine happens to be one of those who I fear the most. Fun fact, he had already killed Lajo's run somewhere in the previous rounds, as I later learned. Anyway, I led Tyranitar/Excadrill into Sceptile/Blastoise. Not being fully aware of what to expect here, I brought Rotom in for Tyranitar and Protected Excadrill, as he tried to fire off the dreaded swamp Pledge...luckily into my Protect. Next turn, I scored the double knockout with Iron Head + Thunderbolt and the rest was trivial. Oh boy, that was so much closer than it looked...all he needed to do was do the Pledges into the right slot, and I would have been in deep trouble, quite literally. Other than that, this finally ended my long tradition of always losing to Mega Blastoise in tournaments. 3-1
      Round 5: vs. Steven M. (KaliTheTan)

      Oh look, I finally found Kangaskhan and Landorus! On the one hand, I was quite happy to face a standard team for a change. On the other hand, it's the kind of team that always is most capable of stealing games from you. I'm very glad that I didn't bring Aegislash to this game, because Kangaskhan packed the dreaded Power-Up Punch. Notable events of this longer game include me getting rid of Thundurus early while still having a good Salamence and then me trying to get fancy with Dragon Dance. I ultimately didn't get too far with this thanks to Scarf Landorus doing what Scarf Landorus does best. Thus, the game came down to a 2-2 where I needed to click Rage Powder and Amoonguss was not allowed to be fully Paralyzed. The RNG showed mercy on me, and my run was kept alive. Steven had a more workable resistance, as he eventually followed in Hibiki's footsteps and made top cut as 8th seed. 4-1
      Round 6: vs. Stephan A. (trident)

      It also wouldn't be a true Regional without playing at least one of those select few people that, just like I, have been around for over a decade. (And not only that, I even got paired up to him and his 5-0 record. Seriously Tom, this isn't helping anyone!) I had no clue what his team was up to, except for the Virizion, rogue Grass type #7364294 of the day, that would definitely be annoying. With Salamence/Tyranitar against Salamence/Sableye, I got what seemed to be a decent lead -- it made him play reactively to my delight, and let me get easy damage on board. Fittingly, I played on aggressively to hopefully keep my advantage, but then Sableye showed the Confuse Ray to open up the possibility of me losing Salamence in one turn while Virizion was still waiting in the back. Luckily, the self-hit didn't happen, Sableye fainted instead and then I had no more issues cleaning this up. Well, ...and because Swiss tiebreakers are the coolest thing ever, he fell from 5-0 down to 5-2 and bubbled at 9th place. Always an Austrian at 8th, always a Berliner at 9th, like letter A goes before letter B, that's how Regionals in Germany work this year. RIP my friend. 5-1
      Round 7: vs. Daniel T. (Esco)

      Well, of course the tournament would throw a freshly graduated Worlds-level Senior at fossil me. They have a long tradition of getting amazing first years in the big Division, you know, so there was no way this would be easy. At team preview, I expected him to not bring Sylveon. No, I actually relied on him not bringing Sylveon, as I left both my Steels on the bench. Leads shown, enter Kangaskhan/Sylveon. This was looking bad. Thankfully, he didn't choose to Fake Out Rotom, so it got the Volt Switch off to put Sylveon into Double-Edge range. But then I still had to be very afraid of Landorus coming in on the other side to ruin the Double-Edge threat anyway. Thankfully again, he in fact did not bring Landorus at all! Thus, I successfully removed Sylveon from this game, and then I quickly got into a better position, where I even had no difficulties containing my second Safety Goggles Thundurus of the day. My final fear was his last Pokémon Heatran which still could have ended my run with a possible Heat Wave Burn. Not this time! 6-1 -- like, how!?
       
      This was the best thing imaginable. I actually had this thing multiple times in the past, where I got some silly early loss(es) and then had to pull off ridiculous streaks to still make top cut -- most of the time, they went to the very last round, which I then lost too in whatever silly ways possible. It felt so great to finally be on the good side of this story for once. I didn't really celebrate it though because, as you now know, I was quite lucky to get this far. There were too many ways of me not making it, and on a normal day I just wouldn't have made it indeed. I'd think that this is actually normal and you most definitely have to be lucky (which also includes not getting unlucky both in and out of the game), but who am I to judge? What matters the most, anyway, is that I finally was allowed to have at least one real match at a major tournament, instead of this absolutely unforgiving unknown-team-guesswork-snowballing that makes up the entirety of the preliminary stage and that no one really likes.
      It may be particularly interesting to the outside world that this top 8 had a unique mechanic compared to all we have had before: Before we were told to play, we were allowed to look at all the team lists of our possible opponents for a few minutes. This was obviously an attempt to nullify the humongous secret scouting networks that had basically decided German Nationals before. There's one thing that the critics are right with though: the official revelation does change the matches in the way that they are no longer "starting at game 1". One may argue in how far that is good or bad, but most definitely it is different.
      Since I happen to be the kind of player who prefers to play with open information instead of secrets (yes, despite my various moveset surprises that have bitten people a lot!), this was very beneficial to me. For example, I tried my best to memorize all the available Thundurus, Aegislash and Cresselia sets so that I was aware of all the options that they did not have. Therefore, in the upcoming matches, you'll see me make multiple plays that I'd hardly pull off against unknown teams right in the first games.
      As we were preparing to play the quarter-finals, there have been some issues with the venue's speakers. They sought to make our ears bleed like some kind of mega drill and they did it multiple times. Funnily enough, I had the perfect comment ready for this incident: Well, so I heard that Hyper Voice is winning today.
      Top 8: ???
      There was one person in the top 8 who failed the hack check, and that person happened to be precisely my intended opponent. They had a similar thing one year ago in the same place, where one player was using a Japanese 3DS I believe, and was disqualified for that without someone else filling up the vacant spot. I couldn't have thought of a lamer way to get myself above the 200 CP mark! But it is what it is...you should breed your teams on your own and then you definitely can't fall victim to the hack check, you know -- and you get to pick nicknames that are even displayed in Battles outside of America!
      Anyway, this left me with a very defined time-frame to mentally prepare for my next match. I knew it was going to be hard no matter what, but losing was not an option. Not only was my run blessed with snowfall, but I now also had to make sure that I was indeed able to do some work in the oh so glorified best-of-3 setting on a big stage. It would be pretty weak if I ended up being all talk after all those dreary years, you know. The Swiss gods granted me this one opportunity and it was there for me to use.
      Top 4: vs. Szymon W. (Szymoninho)

      Some fun coincidences. I ran into him at the train station in the morning as we were both arriving late independently from each other, then rushing to the venue (only to still be perfectly in time!). And then we both got this far into the tournament. The Hero always arrives late?!?
      All right, Pokémon. The Thundurus's moveset was Thunderbolt, Hidden Power, Thunder Wave and Protect, no Safety Goggles. That'd be Amoonguss's time, as long as I could keep it safe from the Fires. Landorus had the Choice Scarf again, so I had to watch out for that big time, realizing there would be no way I'm ever bringing both of Amoonguss and Aegislash against this team. Cresselia -- his confirmed MVP of the day -- had a super annoying supportive moveset with Moonlight, Icy Wind, Skill Swap and Rocky Helmet -- but Amoonguss could help me in dealing with this as well. It made most sense to trust in the STAR, and that's what I did for game 1. As he didn't bring Charizard nor Heatran to it, I pretty much completely Amoonguss'd him. It was the most obvious thing in the world that he wouldn't let this happen a second time, and so I exchanged Amoonguss for Excadrill, switching to a more aggressive game plan that might or might not work out. It really looked bad for me in the early game with Excadrill doing absolutely nothing, but well, I at least managed to never let Cresselia get into the game, and then pulled off some big Dragon Dance plays to somehow grind it all back, thus denying him a third game.
      Another fun coincidence. Once it all was over, I left the venue notably later than he did, I believe, and then, at the train station, I ran into him again.
      Grand Final: vs. Matthias S. (Lega)

      Oh boy, now this again took a while till we were allowed to play. The Judges deemed a certain infamous funny nickname of his inappropriate for the online content. (Things that would not happen with the tournament software, #7347924!) I'm not even aware of how draining this last back-and-forth adventure might have been for him. I was just happy to learn that they worked something out that enabled us to play a proper match without anyone being handicapped. I would rather be no Champion at all than the "dirty" Champion that literally gets the glory handed over to them without any effort on their part, you know.
      So to step into the actual matchup, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect him to even bring besides Terrakion and Milotic (and then we actually didn't see Milotic for game 1, go figure!). I was afraid of basically every mon in his team in one way or another, and it would mostly be his job to arrange the pieces of this puzzle in a way that I'd have a hard time dealing with. Looking at things from the other side, it turned out that he felt very threatened by my team as well. And then I probably played really well and the rest is history.
      I heard that Hyper Voice is winning today. It delivered the final blow, no less.
       
      Credits and Shoutouts
      @0p0t0p0t0p0t for delivering the basis to it all, and then Chiron and others for bringing it to my attention. Trainer Paul for being the first to actively show me the power of Hyper Voice Salamence + Tyranitar in a Battle Spot encounter, only a few days earlier. Cybertron for leading the Rotom vs. Azumarill argument, and also for working Mikoto Misaka's Incarnate Landorus into the team in a way that I liked. Lajo for using Electroweb Rotom. It was my favorite part of his original Gardevoir team when I copied it for some practice, and so it led me to re-plant it into my interpretation of the Landorus team. Also generally for being an excellent player who has influenced me a lot in recent years. Sekiam for putting Dragon Dance Tyranitar onto the map back at Nationals. Various people that talked with me about the team. Most important contributions: Again Lajo, this time for convincing me to run the worst best Aegislash set. Christian C. and others for suggesting to run Double-Edge. Braverius for bringing up Dragon Dance Tyranitar for his own interpretation of my team -- an idea I didn't fully agree with starting at the very notion of dropping the Dark STAB, but most definitely it inspired me to figure out another way. Drug duck, Flame, Zinnwurm, appi/trident/... and all the others from the old German grassroots community, thanks for being friends and still around. Ignoring everyone's little breaks, that's a full 10 years of playing Pokémon for all of us! My local community around the (B)east side of Germany, including but not limited to Toby, Chris, TheFlashColonel, Damirovich, Akira, colspan and EFi. See you at the next tournament! Various online friends and other national and international people I've met through playing Pokémon, too many to list them all. Findow deserves a special mention though for coming up with part of the Report's title. Everyone who supported me throughout the Regionals weekend, both offline and online. Some of you made my Twitter explode in that illustrious and rare non-dramatic way like I've never experienced before, haha. Has been a welcome temporary change of things! Amaroq for the amazing artwork. Please check out her Instagram! ...And the obligatory You for putting up with all of my nonsense. Getting good is easy, being good is hard.
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