Published on November 14th, 2014 | by Boomguy18
The Life of a Wannabe Professional Pokémon Player
So you want to be a Master of Pokémon! Do you have the skills to be number one?
Hi, and welcome to the tale of a young Australian named Phil Nguyen (Boomguy) who aimed to be the world’s best VGC Pokémon player in the 2014 season, both in Australia and in the world. The 2014 VGC season was my first full season of practicing nearly every day, and it was filled with ups and downs for me. I will give you guys insight into what I did for the 2014 season, and show you guys the benefits and the fun of competing with the world’s best Pokémon players. Hopefully I can inspire you guys to commit to creating a name for yourself in the Pokémon VGC world next season!
Ever since hearing about the World Championships in 2013, and with the hype of Pokémon X and Y coming out, I knew I wanted to compete in the 2014 VGC season, and to go to the World Championships as my overseas holiday in 2014. When X and Y came out, my first goal was to make sure I had every TM and O-Power in order to set myself up for breeding. I managed to finish the story in one week, making sure I spoke to every NPC and collecting every item in each area. Since the game was released at the same time around the world, I had to rely on asking my friends and the users on Nugget Bridge and multiple Facebook groups to find out what I had missed. It wasn’t long until the whole world discovered that the breeding system had changed for the better, so many people in my network and I got to work. Together, we got as many 5 IV Pokémon in as many different egg groups as possible in order to breed any Pokémon we wanted easily.
In November, Nugget Bridge announced the third season of the Nugget Bridge Circuit. This offered great weekly practice to work on my battle skills against a range of players around the world, from players starting fresh to former World Champions. The tournaments used a Kalos Dex Pokémon only format, which ended up reflecting the official rules that came out later that month. I quickly got to work on making a team, and went on Battle Spot to practice.
The Path of Battle
I had my goals in sight: to get to play in the World Championships, to qualify for the Nugget Bridge Invitational, and to win a live tournament in the Nugget Bridge Circuit. I always encourage others to go for their dreams, because we all have just one shot at life and you might as well make the most of it. I understood that the path to success isn’t always easy, and that in achieving my goals I would encounter some difficulties. How I handled these difficulties would be the difference between being a champion or a total failure. When things got difficult for me, I used to give up because they were too hard. Now, however, I have been trained to look for solutions by asking questions to yourself and others. Sometimes you have to ask an expert for solutions, and when I say expert, I mean someone who has had success in the past.
The Nugget Bridge live tournaments are spread out over many different times, and those times are mostly suited for American and European players, since those make up the vast majority of the Nugget Bridge membership. Australia is far away from those parts of the world, and most of the tournaments started at 5 or 6 AM my time. Sometimes I’d be able to afford the luxury of sleeping in a bit to wake up for a 8 or 9 AM tournament start, and if I was really lucky, there may have been a tournament in the afternoon. What it came down to was how badly I wanted my dream. There was a huge difference in energy for me when I woke up at 4:30 AM for work as compared to waking up at 4:30 AM for a Pokémon tournament, because I desperately wanted to achieve that goal.
Every year we all start fresh, trying to understand the new rules and finding strong Pokémon combinations. As the year goes by, new trends appear and people want to use them. Many players adjust their teams accordingly to keep a winning edge. For example, 2014 World Champion Se Jun Park explained his choice of Pachirisu in an interview. He needed redirection to support his Mega Gyarados, and correctly assumed that other players would have options to deal with Rage Powder Amoonguss.
The first team I created in the VGC 14 season had a Scrappy Exploud with Boomburst as its focus. I combined Exploud with Soundproof Mr. Mime, Mega Bannete, Barbarcle, Rotom-Heat, and another Pokémon I can’t remember. I started the Nugget Bridge season well in November, only losing to Scott Glaza and Randy Kwa. Both were seasoned Pokémon players. so there was no shame in losing to either of them. Scott in particular thrashed me with a Mega Charizard Y and Venusaur Pledge team, which was cool at the time but nowadays too risky to use thanks to Talonflame’s popularity. December was a terrible month for me, as I lost to players who are no longer active as I struggled with team choices.
My Exploud team didn’t last very long, since most people were using dominant Pokémon such as Talonflame, Mega Kangaskhan, Mega Mawile, and Charizard-Y with Venusaur. I had to readjust because I like to teambuild using Pokémon that counter the most popular strategies, often using less popular Pokémon or movesets. One such example is Haban Berry Salamence.
The new year came, and I knew January was going to be a big month for VGC events. Nugget Bridge announced their annual Nugget Bridge Major. This is the world’s biggest online VGC tournament, with world class players such as Wolfe Glick, Aaron Zheng, and the 2013 World Champion Arash Ommati competing. This tournament was three months long and attracted over 200 players. Another huge online event was through Battle Spot. It was announced that the 2nd Special Ladder Season would be 2014 VGC rules, which offered great practice. One more event was a local one, hosted in Melbourne by PokeMelbourne during the Australia Day weekend at the end of the month. I decided to go to this tournament, because Melbourne has an established playerbase and the tournament would be a great test to see how I ranked as a player.
Nugget Bridge only hosted two live tournaments in January, due to the North American Winter Regionals taking up two weekends. In one of these tournaments I lost to a player who admitted that it was his first time playing. He played accordingly, but I overcomplicated things in our match, allowing him to earn the win. The lesson I learned there: keep it simple against newer players.
After that event, I created a new team using Mega Aerodactyl as a starting point. This team gave me great success, but Aerodactyl had a revolving door of teammates, from Meowstic for its ability to set up Safeguard and Swagger to increase Aerodactyl’s Attack, to Tyranitar for its ability to give Aerodactyl a Special Defense boost thanks to Sandstorm. Some unusual sets I toyed with included Choice Scarf Rotom-Heat, and Haban Berry Salamence to avoid the Speed tie with and KO back the more popular Scarf Salamence.
I played on Battle Spot as much as possible. Living in Australia, you’ll most likely play Japanese or Koreans at night, and in the morning you can often play Europeans and Americans. One morning I ran into 2014 Worlds Semi Finalist Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom), who I didn’t know at the time, only seeing his name in Nugget Bridge events. In our battle his experience showed off, and it proved I had lots to learn about battling, especially when it came to prediction and not always making the obvious play. One example was his Hydreigon attacking my Rotom-Heat instead of Salamence. You can watch our battle here.
In the last weekend of January I went to Melbourne to play in a VGC 14 tournament hosted by PokeMelbourne. My team at the event was Mega Aerodactyl, Sitrus Berry Wigglytuff, Chesnaught, Scarf Rotom-Heat, Haban Berry Salamence, and Ray Rizzo’s mixed Tyranitar. By the time of this event, I was the number one Australian player on the Battle Spot Special Ladder. On paper, I was the favorite for this 180 player event in Australia’s biggest VGC city. In the end, I finished the Swiss rounds 3-1 and failed to make top cut. Yes, it was a poor decision to play only four rounds of Swiss with 180 people playing, but I always respect any organiser that takes the time to host an event and support the community. Despite the disappointing result at Melbourne, I felt like I ended January well with a 1839 rating on the Battle Spot Special Ladder.
I started my Nugget Bridge Major campaign with a win over Tommy Cooleen (Tman), who top cut at the recent Virginia Regional. I won the match 2-1 thanks to a clutch Rock Slide flinch from my Mega Aerodactyl on his Choice Scarf Mamoswine. Tommy introduced himself to me at the World Championships in August, and he remembered our battle. He is a great and energetic guy to be around. I can see he is getting better at best of three battles, so I’d watch out for him next season.
My winning momentum continued in February. I started with my best ever finish in a Nugget Bridge Live tournament, defeating Nugget Bridge co-founder Rushan Shekar (Firestorm) before losing to German sensation Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37) in Top 8. You can view our battle here.
Yoshi taught me some great lessons in this battle. I only just added Aegislash to the team, as Special Substitute Aegislash was trending at the time. I learned not to be afraid to stay in Blade forme and attack. The battle ended with his Garchomp KOing his own Mega Kangaskhan, preventing me from getting the Spiky Shield KO for the win. I would never have expected that move, but Yoshi’s experience let him know that move was the best choice, and it clearly showed in our battle. That was our first battle of four we had that month. I kept running into Markus on the Battle Spot ladder as well. I got revenge on him many hours after our first battle, and then eight days later I repeated my victory. At the end of Season 2, he got the better of me again.
I respected Markus’ hard work, and I was very happy that he won German Nationals. His spot at Worlds was well deserved. I am grateful for the lessons I learned from battling him and from other online resources he provided. The photo above is us at Worlds. Meeting him in person felt comfortable because we’d already developed a friendship through our battling and through Facebook.
Besides Markus, I ran into many other well known players on Battle Spot . Some of these players were Austrian Alex Kuhn (Hibiki), Britain’s Brandon Ikin (Toquill), Polish player Szymon (Szymoninho), and Americans Simon Yip (Simon), JoeJ M, and Greyson Garren (Greysong). On the 13th of February I peaked at 34th in the World (as pictured below). Top 50 in the world was great, but I was still far from world number 1, or even my next goal of top 30.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep winning consistently, which is more important to me than peaking high on the ladder. I would rather be consistently winning every day than win one tournament and then flop. I wanted to be a legend like Se Jun Park, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, or Serena Williams. They’re all known for winning many games consistently. They are the people I wanted to be like, and I wanted to copy their winning habits.
On the last day of the Battle Spot Special Ladder’s Season 2, the fight for best player in Australia came down to the wire between my good friend and VGC 2014 top 8 player Dayne (Prof Teak) and I. In the end, Dayne took first place in Australia by winning a single match, while I flopped hard, almost missing top 1000 in the world and finishing at 10th in Australia. I have no regrets in trying to finish in the top 100, since I always say go hard or go home. The big lesson I learned here was that I need to focus on winning one battle at a time rather than obsessing about my end goal.
On the 8th of February, I traveled down to Sydney for a grassroots tournament. This was the second such VGC event in Sydney, the first being a successful tournament in January. The event attracted 50 players, and just like the Melbourne event, I was the top Australian player on the Battle Spot Special Ladder at the time. Going in, I felt very good about my chances of winning the event. Unfortunately, I failed to make top cut, finishing 15th with a 4-2 record in Swiss. I lost my second game to a hard Trick Room team, and I lost my fifth game in a pair down, thanks to me choking the match. In the end, I was happy that I won four matches including the must win final match, but I was not happy with the consistency of my focus. I knew I had to bounce back and refocus on my goals.
My play in the Nugget Major continued to be strong in February. I followed up my first round upset of Tman by defeating sconley262. After a disastrous start, getting swept 4-0 in the first game, I managed to pull out a win after finding out his Scrafty had no Dark attacks with which to hit Aegislash. The next week, I played Hawaiian player HeroOfTheWinds and dominated him 2-0, as his team had no answer to Mega Aerodactyl. It wasn’t until the fourth round that I finally ran into a really big name. I got the privilege to battle Wolfe Glick (Wolfey), the 2012 Worlds runner up. Given his reputation, I expected some off-the-wall team like his Virginia Regional team ,where he finished in the top 8 with a Mr. Mime and Vaporeon. Instead, I got to play against a relatively simple team. I was still interested on how he battled, and I wanted to see how I would fare against a player of this caliber. You can watch our battles here:
I was very proud of how I battled against one of the world’s best players. In the first game, an unfortunate Rock Slide flinch prevented Aegislash from KOing his Mega Tyranitar. In the second game, I saw three of his four Pokémon, and none were a Mega Pokémon. I should have expected that his Mega Tyranitar was waiting in the back, and not making that assumption killed me. I should have went for the Flash Cannon on the Aegislash slot, because my Aegislash was faster than his and threatened to KO. His Tyranitar switch-in helped seal my defeat.
With one loss, you’d think I was going to avoid another big name player. However, some of those big name players lost early, and one of those players was my next opponent, Randy Kwa (R Inanimate). When I saw his team in Team Preview, I knew I was in for quite a battle. Watch my battles here:
The first game was a learning experience about his team. I fell victim to the darkness, with Dark Void hitting despite Moody’s accuracy negation. The second game I thought I adjusted extremely well and got myself into a good position to win, but one assumption cost me the match. Since not many people were using Mega Aerodactyl, I thought I could score a surprise KO on many Garchomp with Ice Fang. However, Randy expected the Ice Fang and protected Garchomp, which won him the game.
On the 2nd of March, I said goodbye to my Mega Aerodactyl team. I was playing with the team in the Nugget Bridge Live tournament that day, and finished with another top 8 effort. In this tournament, I had my first battles against the Zheng brothers. I first battled the 2013 Junior World Champion Brendan Zheng (Babbytron) in the third round. You can watch our battle here. My Choice Banded Tauros was the hero of the match. That victory got me a match against his older brother and 2013 Worlds Semi Finalist Aaron Zheng (Cybertron). Part of why I lost to Aaron was because he won a speed tie between our Aerodactyl, and his Rock Slide flinched my Aerodactyl. I couldn’t recover from that moment, and that emotional disappointment caused me to remake another team. I didn’t want the Rock Slide flinch to happen to me again, and I really hate Speed ties. With Aerodactyl getting used more often, I thought it was time for a change.
While I was still deciding on a new team, I was still in the middle of the Nugget Bridge Major tournament. I was fighting for my life, as one more loss would prevent me from top cutting. I had to win my last three rounds to qualify. In round six, I played against American BigBonBon and defeated him 2-0 with a Sigilyph team that used Future Sight with Tinted Lens. This strategy doesn’t actually work in game the way it does in Showdown; next time, I’ll test strategies in game first to make sure they work. The following week I took on another American player, Ryan B. (lolfailsnail), with a completely random test team. I lost the first game, but felt that I adjusted well and ended up winning the match.
My last opponent in the Major was German player Peer Broxtermann (Bjart). My team at this point was Ferrothorn, Mega Charizard X, Mr. Mime, Gengar, and Choice Scarf Tyranitar. He used Mega Kangaskhan, Rotom-Wash, Garchomp, and Scrafty in both games. In game one I made a shocking discovery: his Mega Kangaskhan had Protect instead of Fake Out. This threw me off because I double targeted into a Protect, and he was able to pick off my Pokemon from there. Game two lasted longer, and I brought Tyranitar instead of Gengar. I had no idea why he knew or thought I was Choice Scarfed, but I guess Scarftar was a thing at the time. I tried to Ice Beam his Protected Garchomp to no avail. With the second game in hand, Bjart moved on to the top cut. With the frustration of my loss, I dumped this team and worked on something new.
From the end of March until mid April, I experimented with a non-Protean Greninja, Scarf Abomasnow, Charizard X, and Pachirisu. I was using Pachirisu before it was cool, and even with the exact move set as Sejun’s. Sejun was more clever with his use of Pachirisu, where just I kept spamming Follow Me.
In the last Nugget Bridge Live event of the month, I made it as far as the third round. My opponent there was 2013 Masters World Champion Arash Ommati (Mean), and you can watch our battle here. It was a very close battle, and I had no idea that his Bisharp was holding a Choice Band until after the match, when he revealed it to me. It was hard at that time for me to recognize if a Pokémon was holding a Choice Band or Specs, and it wasn’t until months later I was finally using damage calculations in my team building and battling to find out this information.
On the first day of April, I ran into German fan favourite Lajos Kowalewski (Lajo) on Battle Spot. He is well known for his clever team building and for making deep runs in tournaments, though he has never won one. You can watch our battle here. This was my first win over one of the world’s best players, and so I thought this was my most successful team ever. The next morning, I took on another German in the second round of a Nugget Bridge Live event. Florian Wurdack (Daflo) was the Italian National Champion this year, but I played him before he won that tournament. This was our battle. Unfortunately, my move to swap Abomasnow for Charizard didn’t work out as planned, as he saw the switch coming.
The German theme for the month continued with a German online tournament hosted by German Pokémon fan site Bisafans. I used a team with Mega Medicham as my Mega, since I was practicing Yoga at the time and I thought it would be fun to play with. The tournament went for two days, with seven rounds of Swiss on the first day and top cut on the second. Myself and fellow Australians Emma Williams (cobalte) and Johnson Ng (Zantar) played in this tournament. Due to the tournament being organized around European time zones, we had a late night on day one. This was the latest I’ve ever played Pokémon, and it was a fun experience. Due to technical problems on the first day, the Swiss rounds had to run into day two, with Emma and I still in contention to make top cut. We each had to win our last match in order to make the top cut. I faced an Austrian player named Gueni who was streaming his matches on his Twitch channel. You can watch the hilarious replay here. I made a big mistake at the end, not Protecting Rotom on the second to last turn in order to reduce the damage from Haxorus’s Earthquake on the last turn. Had I done so, Krookodile would have been able to survive the second Earthquake due to the spread damage penalty with more than one target left on the field.
I continued to refine the team, and on the 19th of April I ran into none other than future World Champion Sejun Park on Battle Spot. I had no idea that it was him at the time, but having checked my Global Link records and having the man himself confirm it at Worlds I found that it was actually him. In this battle, I experimentally changed my Rotom forme from Wash to Heat. You can watch our battle here.
So this is what the Mega Medicham team looked like at the start of the month. I will briefly explain what each Pokémon does.
I chose Telepathy on Medicham to let it switch in to an Earthquake or Discharge safely. Drain Punch was chosen for its healing properties, and I invested in Medicham’s defenses to recover a greater percentage of HP while still surviving certain attacks. I also mad Medicham outspeed Smeargle while in Mega forme. Rotom-Wash was Choice Scarfed because I originally wanted to outspeed Aerodactyl, but now I see there was no real point in achieving that. Scarf Will-O-Wisp did surprise some people. Krookodile provided Intimidate support and paired well with Aerodactyl, which supports it with Smack Down, Swagger, and Tailwind. Amoongus was used for redirection, as this team isn’t especially bulky. I used Aegislash to help deal with Mega Kangaskhan and Mawile.
May started off well, as I won a local Street Pass event two weeks before my home city’s Regional event. Unfortunately, I then choked terribly in the opening round of that event. I couldn’t figure out my gameplan in my third game, and ended up picking my team at the last second. In the May International Challenge, I ran into some Nugget Bridge members. One such battle was against young Brit Brandon Ikin (Toquill). I was very proud the way I won that battle, but overall I felt disappointed in how I finished the tournament with a 36-22 record and a rating of 1659.
After a weekend of poor results and learning something from the success of fellow Delphox Cub Lionel (CatGonk), I decided to represent the Delphox team by using a Delphox of my own for the rest of the season. The next weekend was the Melbourne Regional. The Delphox team started out as Delphox, Inner Focus Mega Kangaskhan, Hydreigon, Amoongus, Scizor, and Azumarill. I redeemed my play from the previous week by winning my first round match. I shocked my opponent with Inner Focus Kangaskhan, and his use of Swagger didn’t pay off for him. In the next round, I unluckily drew Dayne in a single elimination draw. My team at the time had no Flying-type resistances, so I gave Amoonguss a Coba Berry to try to buy time to get a KO on any Flying-types I might encounter. Dayne had two, however, and that was enough to overpower me.
It was back to the drawing board before my next trip to Melbourne: Australian Nationals in July. I also had my goal of qualifying for the Nugget Bridge Invitational, where I needed to finish in the top 16 by the end of the circuit. I was still on course to achieve that goal, but around 14th – 18th place my spot was by no means guaranteed. I did have the upcoming Scramble tournament to help out with that goal, and performing well in that gave me the motivation I needed to fix my team.
The Scramble’s first part of the tournament finished in the first week of the month, and in the end I didn’t qualify for the next stage. Finishing in the top 32 certainly helped me get those important points to qualify for the Nugget Bridge Invitational, though. This tournament gave me a lot of battle practice, especially against good players.
After the Scramble, there were only three live events left in the season. I was in 15th place, so while I was in that top 16 needed to qualify for the Invitational, I still had to fight to make sure I stayed in it. The fight got tougher on the 14th of June, when I faced Baz Anderson in a Live tournament. He was also fighting for a spot as well, as he was only one or two spots above me at the time. The result of the battle is a nail biter, and I felt that it was my best one set match of the season.
After that victory, I lost to an unknown Italian player named Leo. I was really disappointed, because I didn’t play with the same consistency that let me defeat Baz. Five days after that event, makiri, the tournament organizer of Nugget Bridge, announced that only a player’s best 18 results from Live tournaments would count towards the Nugget Bridge Invitational. It was a bit of a blow for me because I had already played more than 18 tournaments. In order to qualify for the Invitational, I’d have to do well in the last two Live tournaments I played in.
My June International Friendly campaign finished similarly to my May campaign, with an average result. I had 35 wins to 26 losses with a final rating of 1654. In the second to last Live event, I lost in the first round, so my chances of qualifying for the Invitational were not looking great. I kept looking for solutions, since I didn’t want to give up on my goal. I finally readjusted my team to look like this:
Delphox (M) @ Life Orb
EVs: 12 Def / 252 SpA / 244 Spe
This is a very basic Delphox build. I didn’t run max Speed because Garchomp was the only Pokémon I really wanted to outspeed. I put the remaining EVs in Defense to help survive hits from physical attackers. Overheat was my the choice of Fire move because it can OHKO Aegislash in Shield forme and Amoonguss with the help of Life Orb. If you get Delphox into Blaze health, it becomes even more powerful! For the Psychic-type attack, I considered Psyshock over Psychic, but my friend Lionel said “How often will you see Goodra or Florges?” I decided that it wouldn’t be very often, so I chose Psychic as the STAB move due to the increase power over Psyshock. I knew Sucker Punch would be a problem, so with inspiration from Markus Stadter’s German Nationals-winning Gengar, I decided to run Will-o-Wisp to punish Sucker Punch users.
Hydreigon (M) @ Choice Specs
EVs: 20 HP / 60 Def / 252 SpA / 176 Spe
– Dark Pulse
– Draco Meteor
– Dragon Pulse
– Fire Blast
Next, I considered which Pokémon could switch in safely for Delphox. Hydreigon seemed like the best choice, as it resists all but Delphox’s Rock weakness, and the only Rock-type move I expected to see was Rock Slide, which is not that strong in doubles. When I saw the final of the Nugget Bridge Major, where the winner DarkAssassin used a Choice Specs Hydreigon to win the tournament, I was very impressed with its power. I liked how he built his Hydreigon to survive a Garchomp Dragon Claw as well. My move set was the same as his. Fire Blast can OHKO most Mawile with the help of Choice Specs. Dark Pulse can OHKO most Aegislash in Shield Forme, and Draco Meteor deals heavy damage to most Pokémon, even being capable of OHKOing Mega Kangaskhan depending how it’s built.
Kangaskhan (F) @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Inner Focus -> Parental Bond
EVs: 212 HP / 52 Atk / 244 Spe
– Hammer Arm
– Fake Out
– Sucker Punch
Next, I looked for a Mega Pokémon that would work well with Delphox. In the end, I decided on Mega Kangaskhan. I chose the ability Inner Focus after discussing my ability options with Layne Hall (Lejn). He told me that not many people expect Inner Focus, and my choice did certainly shock a lot of people. I also couldn’t see myself using the Scrappy ability as much.
I’ve run Kangaskhan many different ways this season. At first, I used the standard Power-Up Punch, Return, Fake Out, Sucker Punch moveset. After two weeks of testing on this team, I switched out Power-Up Punch for Hammer Arm because I wanted to secure KOs on Pokémon such as Tyranitar and Hydreigon. I used Return up to the Nugget Bridge Invitational, and I changed Return to Double Edge after battling Ash Siddiq Abu Bakar, the Brisbane Regional winner and a top 8 finisher at Australian Nationals in 2014. He was by far more successful than me this season, at least at real life events. When we battled three days before I left for the USA, I noticed his Kangaskhan had Double Edge instead of Return. I asked him about his move choice, and whether or not the recoil damage was worth the extra power. He said the extra damage helped him get important KOs, and the recoil was not a big issue. After switching to it myself, I noticed the extra damage certainly did help. I feel as though Double Edge is a must on Kangaskhan using Hammer Arm instead of Power-Up Punch.
The EVs and Nature also changed as the season went on. I started out with a Jolly nature and 252 EVs each in Attack and Speed. During the June International, I was watching Markus Stadter’s (13Yoshi37) twitch stream of the tournament, and I noticed that his Kangaskhan was running a bulkier build. Since I was using Hammer Arm and I hated Speed tying other Kangaskhan, I decided to copy his HP EVs. This ended up being a life saver.
- 252+ SpA Choice Specs Hydreigon Draco Meteor vs. 212 HP / 0 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 178-210 (85.9 – 101.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
- 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Hammer Arm vs. 212 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 168-198 (81.1 – 95.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
I also changed the nature from Jolly to Adamant, and my speed was originally reduced to be two stat points faster than max Speed Smeargle when in Mega forme. After facing three people with Worlds invites (Dingram, Henrique & competny) who used Hydreigon, though, I decided to increase my Kangaskhan’s Speed to outpace 252 Speed EV Modest Hydreigon. This left me with just 54 Attack EVs, but thankfully those were enough OHKO Hydreigon and Tyranitar.
- 54+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Hammer Arm vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Hydreigon: 171-204 (101.7 – 121.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 54+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Hammer Arm vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Mega Tyranitar: 222-264 (126.8 – 150.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
Amoonguss (M) @ Rocky Helmet
EVs: 140 HP / 180 Def / 188 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 26 Spe
– Rage Powder
– Giga Drain
The fourth Pokémon I chose for this team was Amoonguss. I felt that redirection support would help my team, especially since two of my team up to this point had a Fighting weakness. Amoonguss also provided some defense against Trick Room teams, as I could put enemy Pokémon to sleep. The HP EVs are designed to give maximum HP regeneration from Regenerator. The Speed IV was chosen to outspeed common Trick Room Pokémon like Slowbro and Rhyperior outside of Trick Room. The rest of my EVs went into general bulk, without trying to survive any specific attack.
Rotom-Wash @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 76 Def / 132 SpA / 36 SpD / 20 Spe
– Hydro Pump
Rotom-Wash was a late addition to the team. I found that after the June International Challenge, I had troubles with Talonflame, and I felt I needed a second Ground-immune Pokémon. Originally, I aimed to outspeed Ray Rizzo’s Rotom-Heat that he used in the 2014 Virginia Regionals, but I saw that many other players chose to run their Rotom-Heat faster than max speed Bisharp. I also had problems going against Mega Lucario that were able to OHKO Rotom with Close Combat. I adjusted my Defense to survive a Jolly Mega Lucario Close Combat as well as Play Rough from Mega Mawile. My Rotom is a basic Sitrus Berry build, with an even max HP to let the berry proc after a Super Fang. This saved me in many battles.
Carbink @ Mental Herb
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Trick Room
– Power Gem
The other thing I noticed in the June International Challenge was that I had no Speed control on this team. I tried Tailwind before to no avail, and I’m not a fan of Thunder Wave because of the possibility of Lightning Rod Pokémon, Safeguard, or Substitute completely invalidating the move. Thunder Wave also fails on Ground- and Electric-type Pokémon. Icy Wind and Rock Tomb let your opponent swap out to negate the Speed drops or just Protect to avoid them.
Trick Room was something I liked because I didn’t have to rely on opponent factors, and everyone else seemed to be playing the Speed creeping game. Which Pokémon to use, though? I wanted something that could tank Talonflame’s attacks, and possibly deal big damage in return. I looked at Carbink due to its typing and bulk, but I initially questioned its attacking options, seeing as its base Attack and Special Attack were only 50 base each. Still, I decided to try Carbink out, first with its Clear Body ability. I felt as though I wouldn’t want Sturdy initially because with Carbink’s bulk, only a critical hit or a really powerful attack would bring Carbink down in one hit. However, I later decided that the probability of getting critically hit was higher than getting a relevant stat loss. I chose Mental Herb as the item to let Carbink get Trick Room off through Taunt and Encore.
I instantly saw great results with Carbink. It overshadowed Delphox, who was supposed to be the star Pokémon on this team. I was surprised at how many teams could not handle Trick Room, and having a fast Spore was fantastic. I no longer had a problem with Talonflame, since I now had two Pokémon that can tank hits from it. Offensively, Carbink could only OHKO Scrafty, Hydreigon, Talonflame, and Charizard Y, but many other Pokémon are weak to Rock or Fairy, and Carbink could hit these Pokémon for decent damage. The surprise factor provided by Carbink was also nice to have, especially in the best of one format which was expected at Australian Nationals.
Ferrothorn or Mega Abomasnow & Talonflame
A team that has both slow and fast Pokémon is really tricky for me handle, whether I have Trick Room up or not. This combination in particular really makes things difficult for me. Ferrothorn and Mega Abomasnow can cause a lot of damage to my team while Trick Room is up, and I cannot stop either Pokémon or Talonflame with Amoonguss. Both Pokémon I use to deal with Talonflame are weak to Ferrothorn. I do have Carbink’s Sturdy if I am desperate enough to utilise it. I can also use Kangaskhan in Trick Room against these two, as Kangaskhan can actually Sucker Punch Talonflame before it uses Brave Bird.
Goodra + Assault Vest
As you can see, I have five Special Attackers on my team. As a result, Assault Vest users give me a hard time, particularly Goodra. I usually want to Will-o-Wisp to chip away at an AV wearer slowly, and then try to bring in Mega Kangaskhan safely. Goodra is the hardest of the Assault Vest Pokémon to deal with, mainly due to Sap Sipper negating Spore and its bulk making it hard for me to make a dent in its HP. Even Carbink using Moonblast doesn’t do much to Goodra.
At 5 AM on the 28th of June, the last Nugget Bridge Live tournament for the circuit was held. I found out that I needed to finish in the final in order to secure my spot in the top 16. Of course, I had to fight other players who were also fighting for that spot. The last tournament was a Swiss tournament, perfect practice for the upcoming Australian Nationals which was two weeks away. Fellow Aussies Lejn, Prof Teak, and FamousDeaf participated in the tournament as well. The event attracted 82 players, good for seven rounds of Swiss over five hours.
I started well, winning my first four matches in a row while defeating three tough opponents along the way: Zach Droegkamp (Zach), Jeudy Azzarelli (SoulSurvivor), and Alexander Kuhn (Hibiki). You can watch my match against Jeudy, the runner up of the 2014 World Championships, here. I lost to Britain’s Wyrms Eye in the fifth round, thanks to some silly plays on my part. I recovered well, defeating PokemonZone and Gengarboi in order to finish the Swiss stage at 5th overall with a 6-1 record.
In the first match of top cut, I took on good friend EmBc from Portugal. We battled seven times on Battle Spot over the two seasons where the Special Ladder was VGC 2014 rules, and I have only beaten him twice. I did defeat him in the one other occasion we battled, a NB Live tournament, but this was our first ever best of three match. It was also a pressure-filled fight for a top 16 spot, as we were closely ranked in Circuit points. I won pretty comfortably in the first game, and while he did improve in game two I prevailed in the end. This victory meant that I’d finish at least one point ahead of him in the final Circuit standings.
In the Semis, I took on Hibiki again. Despite defeating him in Swiss, I was still uneasy about our matchup because of the threat of Smeargle. His best of three experience paid off, and he won our match 2-1. I fell one round short of ensuring myself a top 16 Circuit finish. After the tournament was over, I was tied for 15th with American Ludimpact, but Szymoninho was still in a position to overtake me because he was still alive in the No Megas Allowed tournament. The Pole’s condition for qualifying for the Nugget Bridge Invitational was to win the No Megas Tournament, and luckily for me he lost to Randy Kwa in the finals, securing my spot in the tournament. I was extremely happy that I achieved my goal for the season, since I worked so hard on achieving it. All those mornings waking up at 4:30 to play the majority of the live tournaments were so worth it.
Going into Australian Nationals, I was the most confident I have ever been, thanks to qualifying for the Invitational and being the number one Australian on the Battle Spot doubles ladder. My record was 52-25 using my VGC team, giving me some extra confidence. I lost my first match at Nationals, but then rattled off six wins in a row thanks to Carbink. I lost my eighth match to Ty Power (TheBlooFoxx), and then got stunned in the final round by Harry Boucher’s (Hazza) Charizard X. Its Steel Wing destroyed my Carbink, and I couldn’t mount a comeback. I ended up finishing the Swiss stages with a 6-3 record, and sadly I needed a 7-2 record to move on to top cut.
I started August by playing in the Nugget Bridge Invitational, which almost felt like playing at the World Championships. In the first round, I took on DeVon Ingram (dingram). You can watch our dramatic match here. I lost the first match, but I felt I could still win the set. The big turning point was getting those Rocky Helmet KOs with Amoonguss, but right after that great play I made a boneheaded one by not protecting Amoonguss. I was still happy with the comeback, and winning this match was my best-played best of three match of the season. It was awesome to have Evan Latt (plaid), Duy Ha, and Justin Flynn commentating the match, and it’s something I can treasure forever. I also got to meet them at Worlds briefly (as pictured below), and they are real genuine people that want to get to know you.
We were the last to finish our first round match, and I quickly moved on to round two against Matt Coyle (PrettyLittleLiar). You can watch our battles here:
Game one was pretty much spent learning his team, as he had common Pokémon with strange movesets. In game two, I didn’t manage my priories correctly after gaining momentum from removing Kangaskhan quickly. I should have gotten rid of Sableye faster, and as a result I lost.
A few days later, I started my trip to the USA. I didn’t play for the first three days after arriving in order to get used to the time zone difference. Being in the US made it easier to play in the practice Nugget Bridge tournaments on the Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons before Worlds. For the Tuesday live tournament I was in Orlando, Florida, and I played my first best of three battles since leaving Australia. I started off well, winning the first two rounds in straight sets, and then in the top 8 I took on Worlds Semifinalist Markus Liu (Henrique) from Germany. I didn’t know that he had a Worlds invite until after the match. In game one, he dominated me with a Taunt/Trick Room Gothitelle. Gothitelle used Taunt on my Delphox, and he used Mawile’s Sucker Punch to KO on the next turn. I also forgot that Rage Powder doesn’t work on Abomasnow due to its Grass typing. In game two (which you can see here) I fell for the same tricks again, which really annoyed me. The guy has some real skills to go into Worlds with a completely different team four days later and still finish in the top four.
The next day, I flew into Washington D.C. and got to my hotel room 30 minutes before the next practice tournament. I won my opening round match against Austrian Doppelgengar in straight sets. I then took on the famous Aaron Cybertron Zheng, who was still at home when we battled. I was very excited to see what he was going to use at Worlds. Our match went to three games:
I will let the videos do the talking this time, but I will say it was a great privilege to battle Aaron. These battles show why he is a world-class competitor, despite his struggles this season. He used a team that didn’t suit his usual style of play, but he still had a decent result using it at Worlds. I had a great battle despite my stupid decision at the end.
At the Last Chance Qualification, I got a bye in the opening round. In round two, I drew American Andrew Burley. It wasn’t until I saw his in-game name Andykins that I knew I was in for a tough battle.
LCQ 2014 Round 2
He brought: ///
I brought: ///
When he started with Zapdos, I knew straight away his strategy would be to Paralyse my team. I Faked Out Zapdos, since most Zapdos builds don’t have Protect, and Delphox used Will-o-Wisp against Scrafty, which I correctly assumed was holding an Assault Vest because I figured Garchomp would be holding the Lum Berry. I remembered downing Zapdos quickly to prevent the Paralysis, and Delphox missed Overheat on Aegislash, which then finished it off with Shadow Ball. Thankfully it didn’t matter in the end, despite not having Delphox to deal with Mega Venusaur. The power of Hydreigon and Mega Kangaskhan were enough to finish him off. I won the game 3-0.
He brought: ///
I brought: ///
To my surprise, Aerodactyl was also a Mega, and his Subbing Garchomp has Leftovers instead of a Lum Berry. He dominated the game with his Speed advantage.
He brought: ///
I brought: ///
I figured he might keep the same four as last match. If he did, I thought Carbink could set up Trick Room to reverse the speedy team’s advantage, and if he brought back Aegislash or Venusaur I felt like Hydreigon and Kangaskhan could handle it. You can watch game three here:
It was harsh way to lose, but I felt I could have prevented it if I actually made use of Trick Room. Not going for Aerodactyl first was a mistake, as Sky Drop is a good way to stall out Trick Room turns. Protecting Carbink in Trick Room for no reason was another mistake that cost me. I was very disappointed in the loss, but at least it was close.
Change or Get Left Behind
Sometimes in our lives, we have to make some changes for the better. Usually, it will take a life changing event for us to change our habits in order to live better. In Pokémon I made four massive changes just in order to be a player. I remember at the 2013 Australian Nationals, I lost in the top 22 because I had no idea how much damage Weavile’s Low Kick did to other Pokémon like Abomasnow. Instead, I chose to use Ice Punch on Abomasnow, because I wasn’t sure how heavy Abomasnow was. I wanted to be a winner and not a loser, so I got to work with damage calculations this year. I created some study notes (as pictured below). Another big change for me was to construct custom EV spreads, compared to last year where I was extremely lazy with my EV spreads. Most of my Pokémon were 252/252/4 or 252 attack and even defenses. After reading reports on Nugget Bridge or personal blogs about other people’s teams, you start to understand why they went with the EV spreads they did, and how such custom EV spreads help a lot against common threats like Mega Kangaskhan and Talonflame.
Another change I made was that I started taking notes during battles. Not everybody agrees to do this, but what made me start this habit was seeing champions doing it in Youtube videos. I noticed Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37) did it in the German National final, Florian Wurdack (daflo) also did it in the Italian National final, and Alex Ogolza (Evan Falco) did it in the US Nationals as well. It was after the US National that I decided to take up note taking. I practiced with Battle Spot battles, and I found that taking notes helped keep me focused on my match. I didn’t have to stress out about remembering what Pokémon, items, or moves the opponents used, as well as what Pokémon I used. My notes also served as a journal to keep after the match. I remember one of my opponents at the Australian Nationals asking me why I was writing notes for a best of one battle. I told him that I take notes every match so I can get used to taking notes efficiently. I not only write down the Pokémon, moves, and items, I also write down human behaviours of my opponent. I explained to him how he acted super defensive, and I managed to make him Protect into nothing. What everybody writes down is going to be different, and we all have our own personal preference on how we do things, so if you want to develop this habit always write down what you want to take note of for every battle. Remember, it takes 21 days to create a habit. Here is an evolution of my note taking over a 1 month period.
The last change I made was to analyze every battle and ask myself: how I can do better next time? I’d rather focus on things that I can control than blame the RNG, because that gets you nowhere as a player. For example, we all hate getting flinched by Rock Slide. Some players would rather be a sitting duck and pray it doesn’t happen to them. More proactive players who are concerned about that have a real strategy to do something about it, either by having Wide Guard, using priority moves, or by using Speed control.
Meeting the Community
Because participation in the World Championships was cut short, I wanted to meet and get to know as many people in the community as possible. It was easier to say hi to everyone because I had a previous engagement with them online, with a bit of friendship building in getting to know them. After Worlds is a crazy after party with battles in the trade room. Big thanks to Hibiki for telling me about the party, and for introducing me to some of the Japanese players.
With Zach Droegkamp & Dayne O’Meara (Prof Teak). The picture on the right is me with Angel Miranda (CT MikotoMisaka)
With Andrew Burley (Andykins) and his brother Justin Burley. It’s always better to be friends then enemies. Blaming others and disrespecting them get you nowhere.
After Worlds, I went to New York and spent the next nine days touring the city. I also got to meet some of the New York crowd the weekend after Worlds. Thanks to Simon Yip for inviting me to hang out. From left to right: Simon Yip (Simon), Fifi, Patrick (Pd0nZ), Chuppa Cross (Chuppa), Dan Levinson (dtrain), and Trista Medine (ryuzaki).
It has been a long, crazy, fun, depressing, and exciting season of ups and downs. I want to thank the Delphox group for making life easier and supporting me throughout the season. Thank you Jackson, Emma, Johnson, Daniel, Ben, Lionel, Bailey, Matt, Denaysh, Dayne, and Nick. Thanks so much to Roland Walker for uploading my battles this season on my YouTube page. Thanks to the Nugget Bridge team for giving me exposure to the VGC world through Nugget Bridge streams. Thank you to my fans and twitter followers out there who supported me and believed in me for this continuing journey.
I won’t be playing as much next season, as I have to work on being an awesome sales person. I will be only playing ORAS for one week, setting myself to breed and collect every item and O power, and then I will come back two weeks before events depending how qualification for Worlds work in Australia. Final advice from me: Work hard. Train smart by having goals big and small. Always keep focused on the dream, and create friendships. See you in 2015! 🙂