Published on August 15th, 2015 | by Bopper


Flaming in Indiana: A US Nationals Top 4 Report

Hello everybody! My name is Blake Hopper, but you can call me Bopper. I’m here to talk about my team that I used at the United States National tournament where I placed 3rd. This was not only my first time to place in the top 8 of any major tournament, but also my first time to make day 2 of nationals! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy!

Team Building Process

Imagine me on Tuesday prior to Nationals without a team. It’s not a pretty sight. I was extremely stressed out as my entire season would be riding on this tournament at which I had to place within the top 32 in order to lock up my Worlds invite. I was talking with Oliver Valenti (Smith) and Toler Webb (Dim) while at dinner and Oliver suggested I mess around with Alberto Lara’s (CaliSweeper) team that he used to win two Regionals. The team sounded very appealing as it had both Salamence and Charizard, two Pokémon that I was very comfortable with, so I went with it.


I really didn’t like Ferrothorn on this team and felt like it should go as it doesn’t fit my style. I also wanted to have a solid steel type but also needed a good strong fighting type that allowed my team to gain a lot of offensive momentum.


This version seemed to click much more than the previous. However, I rarely brought Salamence and whenever I did, it never really pulled its weight, as the team didn’t really seem to work well with it. In addition to this, Breloom was way too inconsistent for my liking, so I decided to switch it out for a more consistent fighting type that still put a lot of pressure on the opponent in the form of type coverage.


This version of the team is what stood out the most to me. It had a lot of speed control in the forms of Charizard and Thundurus which had access to Tailwind and Thunder Wave respectively. On the original draft of the team, I didn’t like Conkeldurr in conjunction with Salamence because Conkeldurr was always too slow to help out the rest of the team. With Thundurus, I was able to control much more of my matches and it was also a very reliable way to prevent any gimmicks that I might have faced in a Swiss style tournament.

The Team


Charizard @ Charizardite Y
Ability: Blaze
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 36 SpA / 4 SpD / 196 Spe
Modest Nature
– Flamethrower
– Tailwind
– Solar Beam
– Protect

  • OHKOs 252HP/156SDef Aegislash with sun boosted flamethrower
  • Survives a Rock Slide from -1 Jolly Terrakion
  • Survives Choice Specs boosted Draco Meteor from Hydreigon 93.7% of the time
  • Outspeeds Adamant Landorus-T by 2 points, hitting 145 speed

Charizard was one of the megas that not a lot of people really believed in going into Nationals. Due to the large spike in usage of the famous Japanese sand team with Mega Salamence, Charizard didn’t seem to be a great play for the event. However, Charizard has amazing matchups against some of the top pokemon when supported correctly. There are always some matchups where Charizard severely lacks the offensive pressure that I love to apply. It was situations like these that made me want to try out Tailwind on Charizard in order to fill a support role for whenever Charizard couldn’t apply much offensive pressure on its own. With the use of Tailwind, I was able to set up a lot of really weird win conditions that my opponents didn’t really see coming, and these win conditions were usually able to immediately lock up games.


Conkeldurr @ Assault Vest
Ability: Iron Fist
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 100 HP / 116 Atk / 140 Def / 68 SpD / 84 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Drain Punch
– Mach Punch
– Ice Punch
– Rock Tomb

  • Survives Life Orb Hyper Voice from modest Sylveon
  • Survives a -1 Return from adamant Mega-Salamence 93.7% of the time
  • Outspeeds max speed adamant Mega-Kangaskhan in Tailwind
  • KOs 4 HP Landorus-T with a -1 Ice Punch + Mach Punch

Hands down the MVP of the entire tournament. Conkeldurr was a Pokémon that I was testing with constantly prior to Nationals. I thought that Conkeldurr had the most potential out of any Fighting type going into Nationals seeing that it was able to OHKO Landorus-T and Kangaskhan, which were two very threatening Pokemon for Charizard if I were to lose Aegislash. Conkeldurr was one of the best pokemon I used in the tournament due to its access to a strong priority move in the form of Mach Punch, which gained a power boost from Conkeldurr’s ability Iron Fist. There were a few moments where I wished I had Guts instead of Iron Fist, but there were far more times where I was happy about having Iron Fist instead. I decided that Conkeldurr needed to act as the sort of “glue” to this team, meaning it was able to patch up some of my weird matchups and generally provide solid coverage to help support the team. Rock Tomb was an interesting choice that I decided on the day prior to the tournament. I was really afraid of opposing Charizards so I wanted some hidden ways to take out Charizards in order to clear up some of my opponents’ offensive threats. Rock Tomb also counted as a form of speed control but was unfortunately never used in that way.


Sylveon @ Life Orb
Ability: Pixilate
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 156 HP / 20 Def / 212 SpA / 116 Spe
Modest Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Hidden Power [Ground]
– Helping Hand
– Protect

  • Survives -1 Mega-Kangaskhan Double-Edge AND Life Orb recoil
  • KOs 4HP Heatran with Hidden Power
  • Outspeeds Mega-Salamence in Tailwind

Sylveon used to be one of the best pokemon in the metagame with little to nothing to stop it quickly. But now, I feel as if Sylveon has dropped down in usage as people are becoming more aware of how to handle it. With the abundance of Salamence and Kangaskhan which both OHKO Sylveon and Aegislash which prevents Sylveon from using Hyper Voice, Sylveon can have a bit of a tough time getting damage off in some matches. I feel like outside of these pokemon and a few others, Sylveon is a monster that specializes in punishing switches that the opponent may be making due to being in a bad position. Charizard was able to plug up a lot of the things that give Sylveon some issues. Charizard OHKOs Aegislash and Amoonguss, two very annoying pokemon for Sylveon, and Charizard is able to set up a Tailwind which allows Sylveon to outspeed and KO Salamence, and do very sizeable damage to Kangaskhan.

The spread was probably one of my favorite spreads that I used on my team. Sylveon being able to outspeed Mega-Salamence and Tyranitar holding a Choice Scarf was extremely useful and netted many KOs throughout the tournament.


Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 212 HP / 104 Def / 4 SpA / 72 SpD / 116 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice]
– Thunder Wave
– Taunt

  • Survives Kangaskhan Double-Edge with Sitrus Berry recovery
  • Outspeeds Jolly Landorus-T by 1 point
  • Dumped Special Defense

This specific Thundurus was mainly just ripped from Jake Muller’s (MajorBowman) Winter Regionals team. I wanted to use Timid Thundurus because I felt like it was a stellar meta call going into nationals, as it could outspeed and Taunt opposing Thundurus reliably and prevent any Swaggers or Thunder Waves they might have been trying to set up on my team. Thundurus was amazing support for this team. My team had three forms of speed control in the forms of Charizard’s Tailwind, Conkeldurr’s Rock Tomb, and Thundurus’ Thunder Wave. This allowed for me to be able to control the momentum of a large portion of my matches due to how many options I had to speed up my team.


Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Def / 140 SpA / 76 SpD / 52 Spe
Modest Nature
– Shadow Ball
– Flash Cannon
– Wide Guard
– King’s Shield

  • General speed investment to speed-creep opposing Aegislash
  • Survives 252 SAtk Timid Charizard Heat Wave in sun
  • Dumped Special Attack

Many of the teams that I played seemed to only have a Landorus-T as their “Charizard counter,” which was easily stoppable with the support of Aegislash and its move Wide Guard. After Nationals, I’m convinced that Aegislash is tied with Landorus-T for the best Pokemon in the metagame. Aegislash is able to fit on nearly any team and offer either offensive or defensive support. It’s also easily one of the best defensive pivots in the entire game due to its insane amount of type resistances and lack of weaknesses. What Aegislash brought to this team was mainly the threat of Wide Guard and its ability to freely switch into opposing Kangaskhan, which none of my Pokemon really wanted to take a hit from. Not much else to say about this guy – it’s an Aegislash, it’s good.


Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 108 HP / 156 Atk / 28 Def / 12 SpD / 204 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– U-turn
– Superpower

  • KOs 4HP Hydreigon with Superpower
  • Outspeeds Mega-Gengar with choice scarf
  • Survives +1 Life Orb Bisharp Sucker Punch

Oh hey! That one Pokémon that’s used on almost every team! I wonder if there’s a reason for that. Well there is! Landorus-T is almost too good of a Pokémon. With access to intimidate, base 145 Attack and amazing coverage for the metagame, there’s no surprise that this Pokémon is used on over half of the teams. I wanted to use a less common Landorus set at nationals but this team lacked speed and didn’t have a lot of options for Kangaskhan due to that. I figured Choice Scarf was going to be the best option to fix that issue, and it definitely was. A fast Landorus paired with the multiple forms of speed control gave me options outside of the speed control options to still outspeed my opponents and apply a lot of offensive pressure. Another thing that Landorus was able to bring to this team that ended up saving my butt in a lot of situations was Intimidate. With Intimidate, my team immediately is able to do a lot of insane things defensively that wouldn’t have been possible without it. Because of this, it allowed my team to be much more flexible and get out of sticky situations.

The Tournament – Day 1

At the start of the first day of the tournament, I was a nervous wreck. I had never cut a National tournament prior to this year and I knew that if I wanted to qualify for Worlds, I had to play my best for the entirety of the tournament to make day 2, which was no small task. Going into the tournament, I tried to keep a different mindset before each of my matches. In the past, I always seemed to let losses get to me and affect how I play in future rounds. This always resulted in me not playing my best and translated to preventable losses. Going into this tournament though, I tried to stay as confident as possible, set my goals high, and to not expect to do great. This allowed me to look at each game positively and not get too down on myself if I were to lose, which was absolutely huge for a best-of-3 tournament where losing a game could ruin your mentality halfway through a set.

Round 1 [0-0]: Martin Gajdosz (ThunderRaikou22)


Going into this match, I immediately had an advantage due to his mega being Venusaur. Typically a Venusaur team’s goal is to set up Venusaur to lock up games. Due to the fact that my mega was Charizard and I had a lot of speed control, it was tough for Martin to set up his Venusaur late game. He put me in some weird spots and played pretty well.

Win 2-0 [1-0]

Round 2 [1-0]: Mark Hanson (Crawdaunt)


Prior to Nationals, I knew I needed answers to this exact team because it’s a very good Swiss team that has a lot of offensive pressure and I didn’t want to fall victim to it. Going into this match, I knew I had a pretty solid matchup. My Charizard’s ability to Tailwind really payed off and my fairly speedy Sylveon really did work in this match.

Game 1 he didn’t bring Terrakion which surprised me, so anticipating this, I brought Landorus-T game 2. This practically sealed the game for me as he didn’t bring rain and brought Terrakion and Thundurus instead.

Win 2-0 [2-0]

Round 3 [2-0]: Patrick Ball (PBall0010)


Prior to sitting down, I tried to think of what I could do against Patrick matchup wise. I knew Pat had been using the Charizard / Sylveon / Landorus-T core for nearly the entire season and that it wasn’t a great matchup for me. I had Rock Tomb on Conkeldurr for matchups like these, but the fact that he had Aegislash and Cresselia in addition to Sylveon really limited Conkeldurr and forced me to not bring it.

I lost game 1 because I didn’t play to my win condition and Pat played better.

Game 2 I got an early lead by KOing his Charizard turn 1 by correctly calling a Protect from his Hydreigon which was expecting my Landorus to superpower it. After this, I just rode my momentum to comfortably take game 2.

Game 3 Pat didn’t really bring the right pokemon and it sort of bit him in the butt. I got an early KO on his Sylveon that he lead and got to paralyze his Hydreigon. What the match came down to was his Landorus locked into rock slide and Wide Guard Aegislash at full versus my +2 Aegislash at 30HP and Landorus that were both faster than Pat’s corresponding Pokémon. On the turns I decided to be bold enough with my Aegislash to attack his Aegislash, I first flinched from his rock slide which was then followed by him missing my Aegislash which was at the time, at around 10HP. Really unfortunate way to win it, but the flinch did happen so it sort-of-not-really balances it out.

Win 2-1 [3-0]

Round 4 [3-0]: Kolby Golliher (LoveTrain)


As soon as I saw team preview I knew I was going to have a tough time with this set. I really hate playing against Talonflame + Kanga + another Fighting weakness due to Talonflame’s ability to knock out my Conkeldurr before I can even Mach Punch.

Game 1 Kolby lead Kangaskhan Smeargle and I came prepared (but not really) with Thundurus and Landorus. I was fortunate enough that Kolby used Tailwind first turn instead of Dark Void. After that, I was able to just Taunt the Smeargle and make it worthless and unable to use Dark Void until it switched out. After that, I was able to Thunder Wave things and slowly build back my momentum, taking game 1 very convincingly.

Game 2 I knew that if he was going to be playing Smeargle cleverly, he wasn’t going to bring a counter lead to what my best lead against Kangaskhan Smeargle is. And he did just that by leading Kangaskhan and Landorus-T which just completely ran through my team.

Game 3 he did the same thing and 100% outplayed me. Most people hate on Smeargle but Kolby played it very well in games 2 and 3. Because of Smeargle in team preview, it limited a lot of my options lead wise, and he was able to capitalize off of that completely.

Loss 1-2 [3-1]

Round 5 [3-1]: Justin Stipe (Panko)


Going into this match, I knew Justin was testing a lot with a fun combo using the move Round. The way the mechanic works, the second user of Round moves right after the first and has the power of the move doubled. This meant that Sylveon could get some really strong attacks off against unsuspecting victims. I wasn’t having any of that, and played knowing he was likely going to test the waters with it game 1.

Game 1 I got a free Thunder Wave off on his Salamence as he doubled into my King’s Shielding Aegislash, and that gave me enough momentum to clean up the rest of the game fairly handily.

Game 2 I lead with Sylveon and Thundurus knowing that I could put a lot of pressure on his Salamence, which I assumed to be fully special, and could potentially get me into an amazing position from the very start. He lead with Blaziken and Sylveon so I was glad I didn’t stick with the Aegislash from game 1. Once I took out his Blaziken, Tyranitar and Thundurus sort of cleaned up the remainder of his Pokémon.

Win 2-0 [4-1]

Round 6 [4-1]: Matthew Jackson


Once team preview came up I already wasn’t feeling great about the match. Talonflame + Kangaskhan + Fighting weakness seemed to be a trend among my Swiss rounds. However this matchup was much worse due to Bisharp limiting my lead options as it was very risky to lead Landorus, which helps with Talonflame and Kangaskhan. I really don’t remember much about this match, but I remember having to dance around his Talonflame quite a lot. Once it went down, it was smooth sailing from there

Win 2-0 [5-1]

Round 7 [5-1]: Chris Danzo (Lunar)


Prior to this tournament I had only heard about how solid of a player Chris is. I’ve actually never seen him play in a serious setting before, and boy was I in for a trip. Chris threw me for loop after loop with his highly aggressive playstyle and after I figured that out immediately from the first turn of our set, it made for a crazy couple of games.

Game 1 was fairly clean and close. My Thundurus ended up surviving a Sucker Punch and a Flare Blitz from his Bisharp and Talonflame respectively with only 4HP and was able to get an early KO on his Talonflame. After that, I had a lot of options and was able to clean up carefully.

Game 2 was stupid and we should have gone to a third. I ended up getting a critical hit on his Talonflame with my Charizard’s Flamethrower which 100% sealed the game since I was forced to switch in my Conkeldurr in the following turn as it was my only Pokémon left. His Gardevoir got fully paralyzed twice as it was, I assume, attacking my Charizard with Psychic. I didn’t deserve to take the set 2-0 as Chris played really well and I got lucky but that’s how it turns out sometimes. Nothing but respect for Chris, very well played.

Win 2-0 [6-1]

Round 8 [6-1]: Jake Muller (MajorBowman)


This match was streamed! You can watch it below thanks to Pokémon streaming the games and Eiganjo for uploading the set to YouTube!

I was very sad to see I was playing my friend Jake in the eighth round of Swiss as we both needed Day 2 to confirm our Worlds invites and I wanted both of us to make it there if possible. While it was possible, the loser would have to play at 6-2 in the last round of Swiss and a loss in that match would result in being knocked out of top cut.

Game 1 was pretty gross. I played way too risky and brought the wrong Pokémon. I left both of my Pokémon open to being flinched and possibly KO’d. Jake got a KO on my Landorus as I flinched with Charizard which was trying to pick up a KO his Charizard. Got destroyed after that.

Game 2 I had a bit of a poor lead matchup due to Jake deciding to bring Kangaskhan. I just tried to get as much damage on things as possible and set up for some late game KOs with Landorus. After I got a lot of chip damage on his Thundurus and Sylveon and KO his Landorus, my Landorus was able to get a double KO with a Helping Hand boosted Rock Slide, locking up the game.

Game 3 I started pretty strong by immediately knocking Jake’s Landorus down to very low red health with an HP Ice as he also got some very solid damage off on my Thundurus. After the Landorus was heavily damaged, I was able to send in Sylveon and limit a lot of Jakes switches. He couldn’t switch in anything to comfortably take a Hyper Voice because he opted to not bring Aegislash. After his Landorus was gone, Charizard was able to do big damage to the remainder of his team and Landorus was able to beat whichever mega he had in back, which ended up being Charizard. I hit my Rock Slide and locked up the game, securing Day 2!

Great games, Jake.

Win 2-1 [7-1]

Round 9 [7-1]: Aaron Liebersbach (Arch)

I told Aaron that I promised Jake I would try my hardest to win the next game. He said he knew Jake and was kind enough to give me the win to help Jake make Top 64 in case he lost. Jake did end up losing his last round, but still got Top 64 to secure his invite so it paid off!

Win 0-0 [8-1]

Day 2

I ended up doing what I thought was impossible; I managed to top cut nationals! I knew that if I wanted to 100% lock up my worlds invitation, I had to get top 32. Which seemed very reasonable considering it was only a top cut of only 38 (technically 37 in rankings, hi Ian!). Going into Day 2, I tried not to expect too much from it. I wanted to be very cautious of my attitude as to not completely bomb and miss Worlds. Of course, I wanted to do the best I could, but I knew that I was going to be perfectly content with only making it as far as Top 32.

Round 1 [0-0]: Raphael Bagara (Rapha) [2nd Place]


Going into this first round, I wanted to start strong so I wouldn’t have to worry about needing wins later on in the Swiss rounds. I knew the matchup was in my favor and I just needed to play around his Heatran properly to seal up a win.

Game 1: I can’t quite remember how this game went down, but I know that I ended up putting a lot of pressure on his Landorus and Thundurus which allowed my Sylveon to sort of clean up after his Heatran was paralyzed.

Game 2: His Thundurus and Gardevoir went crazy on me and I let him get a lot of chip damage off that came back to bite me in the end game.

Game 3: Raphael ended up setting up Trick Room, which allowed my Conkeldurr and Sylveon to run through his team.

Win 2-1 [1-0]

Round 2 [1-0]: Evan Bates (Veteran Padgett) [14th Place]


I know Evan from the local Dallas scene. This isn’t the first time I’ve played him so I kind of knew what to expect in terms of his play style.

Game 1 I knew that Kangaskhan was the biggest threat on his team so I immediately paralyzed it, which ended up really paying off as it got fully paralyzed twice during the duration of our match. After his Kangaskhan was paralyzed I was able to clean up with Conkeldurr fairly easily, but the two full paralyses on Kangaskhan really saved me.

Game 2 I had to tackle differently and not bank on full paralysis to get by. He changed things up by bringing Noivern to game 2, which barely missed a KO on my Conkeldurr with Hurricane and immediately went down to an Ice Punch. Conkeldurr was able to put a lot of things in KO range for attacks from Charizard and Aegislash, which ended up narrowly securing a win.

Win 2-0 [2-0]

Round 3 [2-0]: Kolby Golliher (LoveTrain) [13th Place]


I ended up getting paired against my only loss in Swiss from day 1, so I had to approach this set very carefully in order to take a win.

Game 1 can be perfectly summed up in the first 2 turns. I lead Thundurus Landorus as he leads Kangaskhan Smeargle. He fakes out my Thundurus as I try to Taunt and Rock Slide him, doing about 45% to Smeargle. He doesn’t flinch, misses my Landorus with Dark Void, and gets an Evasion boost and a Defense drop from Moody. My Landorus is able to connect with Rock Slide despite Smeargle being at +2 Evasion, and thanks to the defense drop, Smeargle was knocked out. After that, some paralysis happened and that “cleaned up” game 1 in one of the grossest matches of Pokémon I’ve seen in a long time.

Game 2 I was ready for him to not lead Kangaskhan Smeargle, so I led accordingly and was able to get a straightforward win as he didn’t bring Talonflame, making things much easier for me.

Win 2-0 [3-0]

Round 4 [3-0]: Angel Miranda (CT MikotoMisaka) [6th Place]


Knowing I had clinched Top 32, I was happy with whatever was to happen in the following rounds. I saw that I got paired up against Angel and I got excited. Angel is a very solid player that always manages to use very creative teams that never fail to impress. However, he’s never really had too many stellar performances outside of this season so I was glad to see him at 3-0 on day 2.

Game 1 was pretty straightforward but had a lot of momentum shifts. Turn 1 Angel revealed his Landorus-T carried Earth Power, which made me assume it also had a Rock move and Hidden Power Ice. This helped me later on in the set. Angel also revealed that his Aegislash was faster than mine on the first turn, which was quite surprising but very nice to note. I ended up sealing up game 1 by setting up Tailwind with Charizard and cleaning up swiftly with Sylveon as it outsped his Tyranitar and others under Tailwind.

Game 2 Angel completely overpowered me with his team’s offense and made a very impressive read and Hidden Powered my Charizard as I switched to Landorus, sealing the game.

Game 3 I was able to get a quick KO on his Landorus with my Thundurus early on, which freed up my Charizard a lot. Towards the end of the game, I was hesitant to mega evolve my Charizard so I could wait to set up the sun after he sent in his Tyranitar. I ended up calling a switch and double targeted his Aegislash with Flamethrower and Thunder Wave as he switched to Tyranitar, virtually sealing up the game.

Great set, Angel.

Win 2-1 [4-0]

Round 5 [4-0]: Hayden McTavish (Enigne) [5th Place]


This set was recorded! Thanks to Team Rocket Elite, this set is on YouTube here:

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3



Hayden is someone I didn’t really know too well but have a lot of respect for. I’ve seen a few of his matches before and I know he can play really well and always has some interesting teams, which made me excited to see what I was in store for.

Game 1 I knew that I had a rough matchup against Salamence / Cresselia / Heatran, and it wasn’t going to be easy if I was going to beat Hayden. I kinda got destroyed game 1 as his Cresselia just sat around and I couldn’t do much to it.

Game 2 I played Thundurus the best I could as it was my win condition for the entirety of the game. I had to slow down Hayden’s team and set up for Conkeldurr and Aegislash to clean up. Unfortunately for Hayden, I got a very timely full paralysis on his Heatran which allowed me to take game 2.

Game 3 I let Hayden get a solid start by getting a free switch into his Aegislash. I anticipated his Salamence to switch in, so I used Hidden Power on his Rotom’s slot, but he brought out Aegislash instead. I started to gain some momentum in the middle of the game as I switched in my Aegislash into a Shadow Sneak from Hayden’s Aegislash, activating my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy. After Hayden KO’d my Thundurus, I was able to set up a Tailwind with Charizard to put myself in a very good position. I knocked out his Choice Scarf Rotom-W with Solar Beam, leaving his Salamence up against my Charizard and Aegislash. Unfortunately, Hayden was able to KO my Charizard on the same turn I KO’d his Rotom and my Aegislash then went down to an Earthquake, sealing the set for Hayden.

Loss 1-2 [4-1]

Round 6 [4-1]: Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) [8th Place]


This set was streamed! Thanks to Pokémon for streaming it and Eiganjo for uploading it, this set is on YouTube here:

This set was pretty crazy and full of luck on both sides. If I wanted to guarantee my spot in the Top 8, I would have to take this win, which was no small task as Wolfe is easily one of the best players in the country. I knew that Wolfe really likes to preserve his Pokémon whenever he can and control the positioning of his Pokémon defensively, so calling those switches and defensive set ups was going to be very key in taking the win here.

Game 1 got off to an unfortunate start as I burned his Kangaskhan with Flamethrower. As the match progressed, I was able to set it up to where all Wolfe had left was his Landorus and Heatran, both at full health but Landorus was intimidated and Heatran was Paralyzed, versus my Conkeldurr and Charizard. I made a pretty risky and unsafe play and just went for the Drain Punch on Wolfe’s Heatran. I saw that his Heatran didn’t protect so I was ecstatic that I had the game locked up as long as I didn’t flinch, which I unfortunately did with both Conkeldurr and Charizard, losing me the game. It’s Pokémon, and I could have possibly gotten around that by just Mach Punching his Heatran instead of Drain Punching, so I guess I was asking for it there.

Going into game 2 I had to get rid of Wolfe’s Milotic as fast as possible to set up my Landorus and Conkeldurr to be in a great spot to clean up the remainder of his team. I tried to focus on that going into this game, hoping it would pay off. This game started off pretty roughly as Wolfe got an early Scald burn on my Conkeldurr, which limited a lot of what I could do. I had to completely change the way  my Conkeldurr played in the set from a Pokémon that was picking up KOs to something that was putting on bits of chip damage for the rest of my team. I was eventually able to KO his Landorus, which allowed me to potentially clean up his team with Landorus as long as his Heatran wasn’t behind a Substitute. Wolfe saw that as his only option but I was able to call the Substitute and went for a Drain Punch on his Heatran as his Heatran went for Substitute and his Kangaskhan protected itself. This then allowed my Landorus to swiftly clean up the remainder of Wolfe’s team, sealing game 2.

Game 3 was pretty gross as I got handily outplayed and forced into some weird positions. My Conkeldurr once again got burned from Scald but Wolfe set himself up really well the entire game and easily took it.

Loss 1-2 [4-2]

Top 8 [5th Seed]: Wolfe Glick (Wolfey) [8th Place]


This set was recorded! Thanks to Team Rocket Elite, this set is on YouTube here:

Game 1

Game 2

Game 3

After my match against Wolfe in Swiss, I noticed that I wasn’t capitalizing on Wolfe’s switches enough and that was really hurting me because he was able to set up better board positioning very quickly. If I wanted to advance into the Top 4, I was going to have to punish those switches even harder and make some very risky plays to come out on top.

Game 1 I opted to bring Aegislash instead of Thundurus, which seemed to be a much better idea because my team was much less prone to flinching from Rock Slide. This would free up a lot of breathing room during the set. I was able to get up an early Tailwind but at the expense of Wolfe getting up a Substitute with his Heatran, which immediately slowed me down. I ended up calling his switch from Landorus into Milotic and doubled that slot with Solarbeam and Shadow Ball, taking out the Milotic. Landorus was able to intimidate his Kangaskhan after it replaced the fallen Milotic and my Aegislash got knocked out, which put a lot of pressure on Wolfe’s Heatran. Unfortunately for him, he missed a Heat Wave on my Landorus in the sun which could have set him up for a Sucker Punch or a Rock Slide KO later on in the game. After that, I was able to clean up with Landorus and Conkeldurr to take game 1.

After seeing the leads in game 2, I figured Wolfe would go for the Rock Slide to take out my Charizard and score huge damage on my Thundurus. I risked a possible flinch to set up a Tailwind, which I managed to set up at the expense of taking huge damage with my Charizard and Landorus. I make a somewhat bold play and go for the Earthquake against Wolfe’s -1 Kangaskhan and Landorus as he switches out his Landorus into Heatran. Getting rid of the Heatran was huge for me as it took out a huge defensive pivot on his team, which allowed me to attack without worrying about it switching in later in the game. Seeing as my Landorus was locked into Earthquake against a Landorus and a Kangaskhan, I decided to switch out my Landorus into Thundurus, which unfortunately got KOd due to Wolfe’s Kangaskhan’s Return scoring a critical hit on both hits. After that, I didn’t have Thundurus there to really help support the team speed-wise, and that made this match much harder to lock up. Everything seemed to be doable but I then missed a Rock Slide on his Milotic as I was also Ice Punched his Kangaskhan that switched into Landorus. Had that rock slide hit and KOd, I would have had the game won, not much else I could have done in the moment.

Game 3 was a bit crazy and I had a few lucky breaks towards the end of the game. I started off the game strong by doubling Wolfe’s Kangaskhan, expecting his Landorus to switch out or U-Turn anticipating a Wide Guard from my Aegislash. Because of this, I was able to KO his Kangaskhan, but my Charizard took roughly 90% in the process. I was then able to set up a Tailwind which let me take a lot of control of the match after Wolfe activated my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy. I managed to take out his Heatran thanks to the help of the Tailwind, which set myself up very nicely for the rest of the match and made it to where I didn’t have to worry about Heatran being able to fire off sun-boosted Heat Waves left and right. I was able to get an Ice Punch off on Wolfe’s Landorus, which survived since Conkeldurr had been intimidated. After that I should have gone for the Mach Punch to not risk the flinch but opted for Ice Punch while I unfortunately flinched. After Aegislash getting a double King’s Shield and dodging Wolfe’s Landorus’ Rock Slide, I was able to get a Shadow Ball off onto Milotic, which sealed up the game for me.

Win 2-1; Advancing to top 4

Great games, Wolfe. Really unfortunate that we couldn’t have a clean set, see you at Worlds!

Top 4: Raphael Bagara (Rapha) [2nd Place]


I’m not even going to lie here. I was completely dead after my matches with Wolfe and that resulted in me not making the best plays I could have. Raphael was on top of it all and outplayed me completely.

Game 1 I let Raphael get a KO on my Sylveon on turn 1 in exchange for his Thundurus being taunted. Not a great start. It was incredibly difficult to come back from that and I kind of got stomped.

Game 2 I was falling behind but I was able to catch back up because Raphael activated my Aegislash’s Weakness Policy which let me KO his Heatran, sealing the game.

Game 3 I lost a lot of momentum early on because I didn’t play around his Gardevoir and Heatran too well. I had a very obscure win condition in the end game if I could double flinch Raphael’s Pokemon with Rock Slide two times in a row in addition to my Sylveon attacking through Swagger and paralysis. I got the double flinch on the first turn and one flinch on the next, but I needed both to flinch if I wanted a chance.

Loss 1-2; Eliminated from tournament

Closing Thoughts

Prior to this year, I had never cut a national tournament before. I knew that I had the potential to but for some reason I always lost my drive halfway through the tournament. This year though, I had a very healthy mindset going through the entire event. If I ever lost a game, I never let it get to me and was able to shake it off quickly before my next round. Another thing that I did at this event that I don’t think I’ve ever done before is do a few breathing exercises in-between rounds and individual games. This allowed me to calm down and get the nerves out of my system so I could really focus on the match. I couldn’t be happier with how I performed at Nationals. I felt like I was playing my best during a large majority of my games, which I can’t regret in any way.


Ben Irons (Benji): Hey we did it! We both qualified for worlds on the same year finally. So happy you were able to finally cut Nationals for the first along side me and Collin, seeing us both succeed really made this Nationals special. Also thank you for helping me iron out team ideas, I wouldn’t have used that Thundurus if you didn’t talk me into it.

Oliver Valenti (Smith): Thank you for hyping me up to everybody and saying I’m good even though I suck. Stop lying to people. But seriously, thanks for being a great friend and helping me out with teams at your house with Toler, it really helped.

Toler Webb (Dim): Oh man. You did it! Couldn’t be happier that you won and I’m so happy for you. Thank you so much for helping so much with my team the week of Nationals and keeping me calm. I would have been even more of a nervous wreck had you not been there to help me out, I really appreciate it.

Collin Heier (TheBattleRoom): You’re a weirdo but you’re amazing at Pokémon, so keep it up. I’m glad you were able to cut Nationals for the first time and go deep as well.

David Mancuso (Mancuso): Thank you so much for letting me stay in your room. Sorry for hogging the bed, but giving me a place to stay made this weekend possible.

The rest of The Boiler Room: For anybody else that I didn’t mention, you all know how much you mean to me. Thank you to all of you for being there when I needed it and helping me out with whatever it is whenever I need it. I wouldn’t have done so well at Nationals without all of you people.

Article image created by ryuzaki and used with permission by Nugget Bridge. See more of ryuzaki’s artwork on deviantART.

About the Author

started playing competitive VGC in 2012. He now looks at VGC as not only a competition, but a great way to meet up with friends and meet new people who share the same interests as him. Outside of Pokemon, Mrbopper is studying Mechanical Engineering at Texas Tech Univeristy

16 Responses to Flaming in Indiana: A US Nationals Top 4 Report

  1. kingdjk says:

    Really like this team, it’s very similar to what I brought to Nats. (Terrakion over Conkeldurr, Suicune over Sylveon) It’s a team archetype I really like, so it’s cool to see it do well. Charizard+Landorus is just great. Congrats on the performance at Nats and good luck at Worlds!

  2. XacerB8 says:

    Great article Bopper, really cool Rock Tomb Conkeldurr, and good luck at Worlds, man!

  3. Nice article, and great job getting top 4! Never gave you the rematch I promised, but whatever.
    Wish you luck at worlds, and may I give you a better fight when I get the chance.

  4. Acetrainer196 says:

    Nice article and cool team. Looks like Conk is on the rise again. One quick note, your moveset for Conk doesn’t show Rock Tomb, but it mentions it throughout the article. Did you replace Knock Off for it?

  5. LithiumAcid says:

    Blake <3

    You've really helped me out while I was starting out , and I'm just so proud of you of such an excellent result. If last year was an indication , I know you'll dominate Worlds.

    You were an awesome roommate and really enjoyed getting to know you better.

    Good luck at Worlds!

  6. ThunderPunch says:

    Great work Blake. Wonderful report. And Conkeldurr. :3

  7. BlitznBurst says:

    Want even more insight on this team with the added benefit of seeing AND hearing the glorious Bopper himself? (I guess I’m in it too if you’re into that)

    Well then watch the video below!

  8. There is a talonflame sprite instead of Conkdurr. Great job making Charizard work in a season where Charizard seemed to struggle in.

  9. HyperTHD says:

    Congrats on the Top 4 at Nats, Blake. Your team made me completely change my view on Charizard this season. Coming into Nats, I had a hard time believing it would even make it this far considering all the threats it has this year, but after witnessing the kind of success you had with me, I decided to give it a go and it’s been great for me. Probably the biggest inspiration for me this season.
    All that’s left is to win Worlds. Hopefully, that doesn’t become that hard of a challenge for the mighty bird :D

  10. Lunar says:

    Congrats on your top 4 man and thanks for the kind words! Always nice to see you at tournaments and hopefully I’ll get to chat with you at worlds. Good luck in day 2!

  11. diegodm26 says:

    i love your team, specially this sylveon, congratulations and good luck in Boston

  12. rapha says:

    Blake! Major congrats and it was a pleasure playing you twice that weekend. I nearly had a heart attack when that double flinch happened but before I even had a chance to physically react, Sylveon was fully paralyzed anyway. Craziest and most hilarious sequence I had all tournament.

    No better set to end day 2! See you in Boston!

  13. Guru Fernandez says:

    Congrats on your placement, and may I say I really love your team. I’ve been looking at it since they revealed it on the official Pokémon website, and was curious how it functioned. I even took it for a spin and Tailwind Zard Y is a fantastic tech in my opinion.

    Great report, and good luck in the future!

  14. Crawdaunt says:

    Ach, you stomped me in R2 swiss, haha. I thought I had it in game 2 and then that Charizard Tailwind. Great job using a team you’d picked up the day before! That’s some Pokemon sense right there. Good luck in Boston!

  15. GENGARboi says:

    Great read! This is a prime example of an article that actually contributes content to helping the Nugget Bridge community grow to be better players. I visit the website often so I don’t miss anything on the front page. However, this is one of the few articles I’ve actually read from beginning to end, with the last time being Crow’s and TheBattleRoom’s report. I’ve got Rapha’s, Boomguy’s, and Sweeper’s next. Glad to see alot of useful content right before going into Worlds, especially since there’s been a plateau recently.

    Awesome work at Nationals Bopper. Good luck and hope you do well at Worlds!

  16. Duy says:

    Congrats man! I was actually really happy that I got to cast one of your matches.

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