Published on November 13th, 2015 | by RandomVGC10
Top 4, Top 4, We’ve Never Used This Team Before
- Normal font: Written by Caitlin (RandomVGC)
- Bold-face font: Written by Alec (Polecat)
- Italicized font: Written by Jonathan (MrEobo)
The Three Competitors:
Hey everyone, I’m Caitlin Beach (RandomVGC) and I got top 4 at Ft Wayne regionals this season! I used to play back in the 2009-2011 seasons, but I never went to any meaningful events aside from the Nats LCQ in 2010, where I scrubbed out in 3rd round against Brianna Birt (TR_Jessie) who is now a life long friend of mine! Her 2nd place finish at Houston 2 weeks prior to this event motivated me to try to place highly at this event. All my practice was with a modified version of Sogeking’s “Enter Zardy oo” team he posted a while ago on Twitter in a pastebin, which I took to the PC the night before regionals and promptly went 0-3 drop. I knew I couldn’t use that team for regionals because by using 3/5 of my preferred lead’s damaging moves with 90% accuracy, I was asking for trouble like another 0-3 drop. Unfortunately, I hadn’t practiced any other teams, so I went to bed upset with my performance and ready to admit to a 4-4 finish at best. As I was blow-drying my hair in the morning, Jon (MrEobo) gave me the team and I overheard him telling Alec how to use it. This is what I heard: “Just lead Kang/Azu every game.” He said a lot of other things about the team, but I couldn’t hear him over the blow dryer and I wasn’t bothered to ask him to say them again, though I would imagine those things were him reciting “Just lead Kang/Azu every game” repeatedly. Before the tournament started I was in a rather negative mood, so I was considering dropping prior to Round 1, but decided to play a few rounds and see if I could make cut, here’s how it went.
Hi everybody, this is Alec (polecat), and I placed in the Top 4 at Fort Wayne this past weekend! After a pretty disappointing premier challenge the night before (I went 3-4), I was not feeling very confident going into regionals on Sunday. I was feeling so unconfident that I abandoned the team I was going to use (which involved Inner Focus support Dragonite) and instead used this team, which was probably a good idea seeing as Inner Focus Dragonite probably would not have gotten me very far (but who knows?). Anyway, after a half decent night’s sleep, I woke up to Jon (MrEobo) saying, “Alec you’re going to use this team; just lead Kang/Azu every time and you’ll win.” Then, still pretty much asleep, I asked “What else is on this team?” Apparently there was also Heatran, Amoonguss, Thundurus, and Landorus, but I had pretty much fallen back asleep by the time Jon answered. I think I also asked what Heatran did, but I don’t really remember. Waiting in line to register, I still was swapping through my battle box, Dragonite or Kang/Azu, Dragonite or Kang/Azu? My chances with either team looked pretty slim; either use a team that was bad, and I knew it or use a team I had never seen before, much less used. I went with the latter. After registering I waited around for round 1, (Taco Bell the night before and not having breakfast did not help my stomach).
When I set out to make a team, I usually just end up using someone else’s due to a decision made by me the night before a major event. Although it never goes horribly wrong, it does tend to always go x-3! Before Ft. Wayne 2016, the past seven (7) regional and national events I attended had x-3 results with me finishing in various placings (top 32, top 64, and top 128). As you could imagine, I was getting pretty tired of the same exact record each and every time. I’ve been playing Pokémon since the 2012 Ft. Wayne regional event back in the fall of 2011, and it’s been a great deal of fun for me since then in spite of never placing higher than top 8. I’ve made some really nice friends along the way, and they continue to be the reason I compete. I’m Jonathan McMillan (MrEobo), and this is our interesting regional adventure.
Now that we’ve told a little bit about ourselves and our Pokémon experiences, let’s dive right into the team-building process! The only reason this team in particular came into existence was because of a quick and sloppy explanation, just after the 2015 Worlds event, of the VGC standard format which I told to a new local friend, Seongjun, who at the time was curious of this format he’d never experienced before. He then told me he wanted to make a team using these four Pokémon: Azumarill, Amoonguss, Landorus-T, and Kangaskhan. I thought to myself, “Holy grimer, that’s actually really good,” and after some back and forth questions and answers about viable sets and ideas, we came to Choice Scarf Landorus-T with Knock Off, Sitrus Berry Azumarill with Belly Drum, Rocky Helmet Amoonguss with Rage Powder, and Mega Kangaskhan with Fake Out support. I loved where the team was heading. I mentioned that adding Thundurus and Heatran would be a phenomenal decision which rounded out the team nicely, and THALKA was born (I then learned of CHALK a few days later). Here’s what I ended up with after some indecisive decision making with friends regarding the items and moves on Thundurus and Heatran:
The Team, The Team, The Team:
Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
EVs: 188 HP / 236 Def / 84 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Giga Drain
– Rage Powder
This set was given to me by Andrew B. (Andykins) with the original creator being Justin S. (Panko). It survives neutral 252 Attack Tough Claws Zen Headbutt from Mega Metagross 100% of the time, or positive 156 Ice Beam from Ludicolo along with another neutral 252 Ice Beam from Politoed 100% of the time.
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Sucker Punch
– Power-Up Punch
It’s just a fast Kangaskhan that’s a tad bulkier than usual. Nothing special.
Landorus-T @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Knock Off
The faces I got when this thing used fast Knock Off were priceless. This Landorus-T is only meant to go fast and use Rock Slide if I were to not select my move in time.
Azumarill @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Huge Power
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 4 Spe
– Play Rough
– Aqua Jet
– Belly Drum
The EVs invested in HP trigger the Sitrus Berry after using Belly Drum, and the rest were dumped into each useful stat after maximizing its damage output.
Thundurus @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 252 HP / 220 Def / 36 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunder Wave
This thing. This yamsing Thundurus. What does it do one-on-one against a Landorus-T? It Swaggers it. Beautiful, I know. The spread is designed to do only one thing: survive positive 252 Parental Bond Double-Edge from Mega Kangaskhan. Safety Goggles allows me to completely ignore Amoonguss and its redirection for dealing with opposing Azumarill, and even switch in on an incoming Spore. Taunt came in very handy, I believe more than Hidden Power Ice would have. This thing can’t take special hits very well, but that’s all right considering opposing special attackers were hitting themselves in confusion half of the time! On a side note: I’m completely indiscriminate when I fire off Swaggers. Physical attackers don’t move just as much as special attackers.
Heatran @ Shuca Berry
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 44 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Earth Power
Lastly, the Heatran. All I wanted to do was outpace neutral 252 base 70 Pokémon. That’s it. The rest was dumped into defenses after maximizing its damage output. Overheat allows me to reliably chunk, if not outright OHKO, opposing Aegislash and Amoonguss. Heat Wave just does solid spread damage, and Earth Power gives opposing Heatran problems. Shuca Berry allows it to survive tons of different Ground moves, and I found most other items weren’t compatible or viable with this set and team.
For those curious, I was contemplating Leftovers vs Safety Goggles and Hidden Power Ice vs Taunt on Thundurus for a really long time. I was constantly switching between them and testing them out. I was considering Will-O-Wisp on Heatran as well, but never actually tried it. I solidified the final choices a few days before attending the Houston 2016 regional, where I predictably went x-3 finishing top 64 once again. Although I didn’t perform nearly as well as I wanted, that didn’t change my opinion of the team. I knew everything that went wrong was my own fault and I was adamant that the team was solid.
Now for the event this article is actually focused around: the Ft. Wayne 2016 regional! I decided nothing about the team needed to be changed, and anticipated simply using it again. What I hadn’t anticipated was giving the team to Caitlin B. (RandomVGC) and Alec B. (Polecat) the morning of the event, not hours before it started, and having them entirely drop whatever they planned to use. I explained the premise of the team with “Literally just lead Kang Azu,” while Caitlin went into the bathroom to use the hairdryer. I told Alec a few more things like some damage calcs and alternate strategies, but these clearly weren’t too important for Caitlin to also hear seeing her final placing. After all, everything basically boiled down to leading Kang Azu!
We hurriedly got ourselves to the competition hall to check in, and the event began soon after:
The Swiss Rounds:
Round 1: Jonathan Lusk [3-0 W] 1-0
** * ** *
We sat right across from each other during the player meeting and looked directly at each other when we checked our phones for the online pairings. We laughed, found our table, and began the first round. Leading with Kangaskhan and Azumarill eventually lead to me setting up with both of them, and sweeping from there.
Round 2: Joseph Pokorney (SourKreme) [0-4 L] 1-1
I’m bad at this game and allowed my opponent to KO my Azumarill with a crit after it set up its Belly Drum, and opted to instead Fake Out the Cresselia to prevent a Trick Room sweep from the opposing Mega Camerupt. I had no way to deal with the camel at that point as my Swaggers weren’t being effective and I quickly lost once Trick Room was set. Like, badly.
Round 3: Nicholas Sefranek [1-4 L] 1-2
* ** *
I don’t remember the specifics of this battle, but Swagger was used on both ends, I missed a Play Rough and a Swagger, and played overall with a losing mindset. Bad, Jon. Bad!
Round 4: Glenn Ross [4-0 W] 2-2
* * ** **
I was worried this would be my x-3 battle. Then I noticed two of his Pokémon were only level 30, so I just sort of won. After the round was over, I thought to myself, “Wait, that’s my resistance,” and cried internally.
Round 5: Chaz VanCleve [3-0 W] 3-2
** ** * *
Apparently, this team had answers to some things I had no idea it had answers to before this battle. He was a very good player, but Amoonguss kind of took everything and let me sweep easily once I got myself into a nice position.
Round 6: Ron Marlow [2-0 W] 4-2
* ** ** *
This team hates dealing with Hyper Voice, so I did things to deal with it. I don’t remember a lot, but I learned that positive 252 Huge Power Aqua Jet from Azumarill doesn’t even do 90% to a Blaziken with no defensive investment! So fetch.
Round 7: Whitney Johnson (brokestupidlonely) [2-0 W] 5-2
* ** * **
I was paired up to Whitney who was 5-1 coming into our round. Apparently, he had faced Alec B. before this round and lost to our team already. I didn’t know this at all going in, so I played how I thought was best. Apparently, it’s exactly how Alec beat him in their previous round, and he simply had little answers to reliably beat our team. Unfortunate, but at least the pairing helped my horrid resistance.
Round 8: Cody Gray [1-1 W] 6-2
* * ** **
This was it. This was, once again from putting myself into this situation, a chance to break my x-3 streak! I went in fairly confident, then grew nervous from team preview. We both lead with Kangaskhan and Amoonguss. I knew this mirror was difficult, but having Safety Goggles Thundurus in the back certainly helped. I switched out Kangaskhan for Thundurus and his Kangaskhan didn’t Fake Out my Amoonguss, and I ended up putting the Kangaskhan to sleep (I don’t remember what the opposing Amoonguss did, but it was obviously nothing important). Eventually, we ended up with only our own Amoonguss. I had weakened his pretty badly, and since he failed to switch it out, I was able to win on timer with nearly full HP. I did it! I had finally broken my x-3 streak!
(Sorry I didn’t take the greatest notes. In my defense, all I had were essentially post-it notes from the hotel)
Round 1 vs Jimmy Kriegle
“So here I go” I was thinking. “First match with this team, and shoot, this guy actually looks like he knows what he’s doing.” I lead Kang/Azu (what else was I supposed to do when this was literally the only info I had about my team?) and Jimmy leads Gardevoir/Entei. I Fake Out the Entei, thinking it had Will-O-Wisp for some reason (yeah…my brain was not with it), and eat a Hyper Voice to the face while Azumarill gets off a Belly Drum, so both my Pokemon are down to ~30% health (Azu was in even worse shape, I think). Next turn I believe I Return the Gardevoir slot and Aqua Jet the Entei (because I could tell from the mega-evolutions Kangaskhan was faster…? Looking back that logic does not sound solid at all, at worst I was subject to a speed tie, though), but Jimmy Protects and switches out Gardevoir, leaving him with a Suicune in KO range and an Entei vulnerable to Aqua Jet. Next turn Jimmy just lets me KO both his pokemon, and he sends out Gardevoir and Hydreigon. I Aqua Jet (and KO) the Gardevoir and get a Return off on the Hydreigon, before it KOs Kangaskhan. Final turn I send out Thundurus, and, because I’m feeling cheeky, I Swagger the Hydreigon, and then because I wasn’t feeling that cheeky, I also Aqua Jetted it for the KO, and I won this match 3-0.
Round 2 vs Sean Baemen
This was a close round. I lead Kang/Azu, and Sean leads Gengar/Clefairy. From the team preview, I could tell it was Perish trap, so I Fake Out the Gengar and Belly Drum with Azumarill. Sean went for a Helping Hand with Clefairy, and that threw me off. Thinking that the Clefairy was going to both somehow Helping Hand and Follow Me in the same turn, I make the worst possible move: Protect Azumarill and Mega-evolve Kangaskhan and Return the Clefairy slot, while Gengar sets up Perish Song. Details are hazy from here, but I know I was able to Aqua Jet and KO his Gothitelle as well as KO his Clefairy. Anyway, it ends up with Amoonguss and Thundurus, both with a Perish counter versus a Politoed with a Perish counter and a perfectly healthy Gengar. Turn 1 of the Perish Song he double Protects and I go for a Taunt and Giga Drain (so he couldn’t Disable Thunderbolt or Spore). Turn 2, Sean goes for a double Protect on Gengar and Hypnosis on Thundurus. Thankfully, double Protect fails, Sean misses with Hypnosis, and I get a critical hit with Thunderbolt and Spore the Gengar. Turn 3 of Perish Song, Sean takes his one guaranteed turn of sleep, I Thunderbolt the Gengar, knocking it out, and Giga Drain what would have been the Gengar slot, but that doesn’t matter because at the end of the turn, everything faints, and I win 0-0 because Amoonguss is a mushroom that can’t move for beans.
Round 3 Whitney Johnson
This was a fun match. I got a little bit lucky and also made a couple good plays. Whitney leads Salamence and Zapdos and I lead Kang/Azu. Turn 1, I switch out Azumarill for Landorus and Fake Out the Salamence. This was a decent play as Whitney used Thunderbolt on the Azumarill slot. I’m not entirely sure what happens from here. I know that at some point I tried to Sucker Punch his Conkeldurr for the KO, but it used Helping Hand, and that at another point I couldn’t tell if Conkeldurr would Ice Punch Landorus or Drain Punch Kangaskhan and I made the wrong call. I also know that I got a Power-Up-Punch off, I got pretty lucky with a paralysis (and also unlucky with a Rock Slide miss that would have KO’d Zapdos), and it came down to Azumarill just needing to knock out two Pokemon (Zapdos at low health and Milotic), which Azumarill can do easily, especially at +6 attack.
Round 4 Adam Baltrusatis
I don’t remember a lot about this match. I do remember that I spent a good amount of time maneuvering around Aegislash and that he led Aegislash and Rotom-Wash while I led Kang/Azu. It ends up with Mega-Venusaur and Blaziken versus a +4 Azumarill, a Thundurus, and a Landorus in the back. I Thunder Wave and Aqua Jet the Blaziken after he Protects for a turn (just in case it had Focus Sash), and Azumarill goes down to Giga Drain. After that it was just a combination of Earthquake, Swagger, and Taunt to take down the giant plant dinosaur, and I win 2-0.
Round 5 Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario)
So after going 4 rounds without losing, I was feeling pretty good. I remember thinking, I really hope I don’t have to play against Ashton next round, mainly because we’re pretty good buddies, but also because Ashton’s good and always has a trick up his sleeve, but I knew it was pretty likely as there were only 15 undefeated records left. So next round I got paired with Ashton. It was a fun match, but I got plain outplayed. In my opinion at least, Ashton’s team countered mine pretty hard with Breloom and Mega Salamence. Ashton leads Salamence and Breloom, and I lead Kang/Azu. I Fake Out the Breloom and go for a Belly Drum with Azumarill, but Ashton has none of that and switches out Breloom for Gastrodon and Double-Edges the Azumarill for the knock out. After that, it was pretty much game over, with me not being able to get into a good position to take the win and me misplaying a few times (not Sucker Punching a Mach Punching Breloom when I was at +1) Ashton takes the win, rightfully, and I lose 0-2.
Round 6 Choayi (Bob) Zhang
This was another Perish Trap team, something I didn’t want to play against again. Bob leads Gengar and Politoed. Great, I don’t even know what’s going to go for Perish Song. Turn 1 I go for a Fake Out on Mega Gengar and Belly Drum my Azumarill, and I’m pretty sure Politoed Perish Songs. Once again, details are getting a little vague. Bob just makes some good switches especially with Eject Button Amoonguss so that I don’t even get any meaningful attacks off. Regardless, it ends with Landorus and Thundurus versus Kingdra and Politoed in rain. I go for a Swagger on Kingdra, but that doesn’t really do anything, and Kingdra Muddy Waters both my Pokemon for the knockout and I lose 0-2.
Round 7 Cody Fourman
This was another scenario where I was really close to losing but somehow turned it around in the end, this time not because of luck but because I made some gutsy plays and my opponent psyched himself out. I lead Kang/Azu, and Cody leads Talonflame and Kangaskhan. I switch out Azumarill turn 1 for Landorus and my Kangaskhan Fake Outs his Kangaskhan who Protected while Talonflame used Tailwind. Next, his Kangaskhan Low Kicks mine for the KO and Talonflame uses Tailwind while I Thunderbolt it and it survives with Focus Sash. I send out Azumarill and think “Well, Talonflame is going to kill itself next turn anyway, so why don’t I Play Rough Kangaskhan and Thunder Wave it as well.” This Talonflame had Acrobatics, so it actually doesn’t knock itself out, and Azumarill takes some bad damage while also missing the Play Rough. Next turn I Aqua Jet the Talonflame (somehow…), and Cody Protects his Kangaskhan. Cody sends out Cresselia and I’m pretty much screwed unless I go for a Belly Drum on Azumarill, so I do. This pays off and I end up with Azumarill versus the world (his Kangaskhan was Taunted too), and Azumarill is able to knock out all of his Pokemon with 30% health left.
Round 8 Nicholas Sefranek
I brought: ??? ???
Final round. I would say I won this one pretty handily. I lead Kang/Azu and Nicholas leads Swampert and Mega-Salamence. Details are again fuzzy; he makes a couple good plays with Wide Guard, but eventually it ends up with Kangaskhan and Landorus versus his Bisharp and Thundurus. I Power-Up Punch Bisharp for the KO and he’s left to try to Swagger me, hoping that I knock myself out. That doesn’t end up happening and I take the last round.
Round 1 – Donald Davis
He brought: ( )
I lead Kang/Azu, he leads Ferrothorn/Rotom-H. I know he is expecting Rotom-H to be Faked Out and will try to Power Whip Azumarill, so I switched Azumarill out for Landorus, his Rotom-H protects, I Power-Up-Punch my own Landorus for +2 Attack, and he Power Whips the Landorus on the switch-in for 40-50%. I then just Return into the Rotom slot for 2 turns knocking out Rotom-H and Conkeldurr, while losing Landorus to the Ferrothorn. I then take out his Kangaskhan in the back and the last little bit of health from his Ferrothorn for the game. 3-0
Donald: “What just happened?”
Me: “I Power-Up-Punched my own Landorus.”
This exchange set the tone for my confidence going into the rest of the day.
Round 2 – Tyler Miller
I knew Tyler from Premier Challenges in the Ohio area and we’ve played once or twice before, so I knew he used to run trick room, and I mentally prepared for that before the round.
He brought: ( )
I don’t remember much about this battle, but I do remember I got a Power-up Punch off in the first 2 turns and was able to get my Kang back to neutral Attack after a couple Intimidates. Not sure what Pokemon I lost, but I won this match 3-0
Round 3 – Vincent Rivera
He brought: ( )
I don’t remember many details about this match, but I do remember the final few turns. It was his 60% Kang vs my 60% Azumarill and full HP Heatran. I didn’t know how much Aqua Jet from Azumarill would do to Kangaskhan while being unboosted, so I used Aqua Jet + Overheat attempting to get a secure 2HKO. I used Aqua Jet, and I watched the HP bar on Kangaskhan drop slowly…. To 50%, it only did ~10% to it, and Kang Low Kicked into Heatran for the OHKO, leaving me in a position with an Azumarill to do 50% to a Kang that could OHKO me with Return, which it did. 0-1
Round 4 – Mike Matrasko
He brought: ( )
I lead Kang/Azu, and he leads Bisharp/Zapdos. I know he knows I’m going to Belly Drum and Fake Out, but because I know that, I Fake Out his Bisharp and Belly Drum. He switches Zapdos to Landorus-T to put my Kangaskhan at -1 Attack, Bisharp flinches, and Azumarill gets to +6 Attack. I then Protect Azumarill and Power-up Punch the Bisharp, which survives at 3% HP and Iron Heads the Azumarill slot while Landorus uses Rock Slide. Over the next few turns I lost Kangaskhan and preserved Azumarill, leaving me with full HP Heatran and 75% Azu against Zapdos and Milotic both in red health, so I just use Heat Wave for game. 3-0
Round 5 – Alex Thompson
He brought: ( )
I lead Azu/Kang, and he leads Ferrothorn/Thundurus. I don’t remember the turn orders for this battle too well, but I got my Kangaskhan to +2 with Power-up Punch, knocked out Thundurus on the 2nd turn while it set up rain for Mega Swampert, stalled out the rain, and used Heatran to KO Ferrothorn and Kangaskhan to KO Swampert. Then Azumarill cleaned up the Rotom-H after Kangaskhan went down. 3-0
Round 6 – Sam Moore
He brought: ( )
I lead (you guessed it) Azu/Kang, and he leads Excadrill/Illumise. I Fake Out Illumise and set up Belly Drum, then switch Kangaskhan out to Thundurus after his Illumise flinches and Excadrill protects. I honestly didn’t know Illumise had Prankster, just like Volbeat, so I didn’t expect it to Encore my Azumarill into Belly Drum. This battle came down to “hax” as my opponent put it. He knocked out my Thundurus with a critical hit Iron Head from Excadrill after the last Iron Head showed Thundurus could survive at least 1 more. Then he Encored my Azumarill into Protect, so I kept Azumarill in as to not give up my +6 Pokemon. He then doubled into my Azumarill as it got a double Protect, and I got a Power-up Punch on something then swept from there. 3-0
Round 7 – Matt Hazen (theamazinhazen)
He brought: ( )
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: “What about Kang/Azu?” Well in the Salamence matchup you have to lead Thundurus, I promise! I used Fake Out on Salamence and Taunted the Amoonguss while he used Giga Drain on Kangaskhan that turn anticipating the Taunt and Salamence protected. Next turn I switched Kangaskhan to Heatran and Thunder Waved the Salamence. I just began launching Heat Waves and Thunderbolts, and the battle eventually came down to my Heatran and Kangaskhan against his Sylveon. 3-0
Round 8 – Martin Gajdosz
He brought: ( )
I recorded this match except the last couple turns, so here’s the video:
After the round concluded and the final results were posted, Caitlin and Alec both found out they had made the top 16 cut! As I went to go see where I placed, Zach D. (Braverius) was walking away from the standings board and quickly looked at me to tell me, “I’m so sorry!”
When I saw I had the lowest resistance of all the x-2 players and finished at 34th (another top 64 finish), I felt defeated. Losing early on during swiss obviously didn’t help the situation, but I couldn’t help but feel crushed. Luckily, everything turned around once top cut started, and I had the most fun cheering on friends in top cut at an event than ever before!
After the last round, I felt alright about my chances to top cut. I knew that eight 6-2s would make it to top cut, and I knew that all of my opponents were pretty strong (all of them had winning or neutral records before the last round). I had asked most of them about their last match, and all of them won, except for one. I thought, at best, I would be seeded at 16th, and even if I wasn’t, I would have been content knowing 1 of my 2 losses were to someone that top cut, so I was surprised when I saw I got 12th, but regardless, I was through to top cut!
So, I made it. I didn’t think it was possible given that I had gone 0-3 drop at the PC the night before with a team I had been testing for a week (the longest I’ve actually tested a team). I waited around for a while to see my standing, and it turned out I had made 7th seed! Alec had also made it in top 16, and I was so proud of that because we got to rep our school in top cut with a team we never used before! But the pairings came up for top 16, and I had to play against Sam Schweitzer, my worst possible matchup in the first round of top cut.
The Top Cut:
Top 16 Curtis Cousins
This match was not all that bad. One minute before my match, I realized it would probably be a good idea to have an actual notebook, and Jon generously loaned me his. I’m not usually one to brag, but even Curtis admitted that I outright outplayed him. Game 1, I led Azu/Kang and he led Charizard/Thundurus. Mainly I just made the right Protect predictions, did some clever Power-Up-Punching, and Curtis conceded Game 1. Game 2 I lead Kang/Landorus, did some similar things, and made most of the right calls, so Curtis didn’t really get a chance to get his foot in the door. I took Game 2. (which you might be able to watch here).
Top 8 Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario)
I had some concerns going into this match. Having played Ashton earlier, I knew my team didn’t have a solid answer for a Salamence/Breloom lead other than leading Thundurus and spamming Taunt/Swagger/Thunder Wave. Although this was probably one of my favorite matches I’ve had to date, it required a lot of luck and some good plays. Game 1 goes down similarly to my match with Ashton in Swiss, but with me getting closer to victory than before. Had a few more confusions gone my way, maybe I could have taken game 1, but you obviously can’t rely on Swagger to give you the win. Between Game 1 and Game 2, Ashton accidentally reveals some pretty important info: his Gastrodon doesn’t have Protect, so I’m able to Power-Up-Punch it for free, and Ashton, thinking that I’d go for Return, uses Recover. Game 2 was easier to take because he didn’t lead Breloom and I was able to set stuff up easier. Game 3 Ashton goes for a big risk, not using Salamence; it doesn’t really pay off for him unfortunately, but the game still could have gone either way.
The last match with Ashton was pretty exciting. Don’t remember a ton, but I know that it ended with me missing a pretty critical play rough, which was then offset by getting a critical hit with play rough later in the match. Overall a great match and a great best of three.
Top 4 Jeremy Rodrigues (Serapis)
Here is where my journey ends. I think I could have taken Game 1 if I had predicted better, and I adjusted appropriately for Game 2. Game 3 was hard. Serapis brought Sableye which could Will-O-Wisp stuff, and I put up a pretty weak defense to it. I tried to slow it down with Swagger because I predicted it had Mental Herb (which it did), but Sableye hits through the confusion and Will-O-Wisps Landorus. After that I felt pretty defeated, because I didn’t have a solid way to take down his Terrakion or his Sableye with Landorus being so weak. Bringing Heatran may have helped with taking out Sableye and protecting my team from Will-O-Wisp, but with Terrakion on the field it would definitely have been tricky. I also accidentally Thunder Waved into a Lum Berry, which didn’t help matters much. Basically, it was a pretty fair series, and Serapis rightfully won this match fair and square. You can see the last game here:
Top 16 – Sam Schweitzer (Sam)
After losing the last 2 best of 3 sets I had played online for ICPA, I had very little confidence going into this match, but I knew one thing: this is the hardest matchup I would have all day. Salamence is a big issue for our team, but adding in Porygon2 to be able to Ice Beam the genies and Hidden Power Ground the Heatran on my side made it so much worse. I needed to do something that someone told me that day, “play Japanese genies,” and so I did. I’ll let Sam go over this match in his article, but the main points I needed to win the match were:
- Paralyze everything, I needed the speed advantage against Salamence with Kangaskhan and Heatran to clean up stuff that was paralyzed.
- Power-up Punch, I needed something with a huge Attack stat to beat the Porygon2, and the only way to achieve that was by using Power-up Punch to get to +4 Attack and sweep once everything was paralyzed.
- Confidence, I needed to not be afraid to make gutsy plays and not be predictable.
I took game 1 by following these points, then in game 2 I got out played with Amoonguss and ended up having to deal a lot of Rocky Helmet damage to my own Kangaskhan, so I failed in my goals for the match in this game. In game 3, I followed point 1 religiously, and then added a lot of Swagger on top of that while taunting his Amoonguss to make it as much of a non-factor as possible.
Top 8 – Alec Rubin (Namuko Pro)
I was really happy to see that I was paired against Alec for top 8 because this meant that I could redeem myself for losing to him at local PCs. I don’t recall much from this match, but I know that I played too defensively game 1 and he came out with a 4-0 win. Game 2 I was able to do the Belly Drum + Power-up Punch thing to tie up the series. In game 3 he recycled Intimidates against my Kang/Azu lead, but that has a limit of what it can do when Azumarill is at +6. Azumarill OHKO’s Arcanine and hits Thundurus for enough damage to take it out at 60%. He also missed a Will-O-Wisp in game 3, so I don’t know how much that would have changed things, but I’d probably have had to do some maneuvering with Amoonguss to ensure the victory through Rocky Helmet damage. I escaped this set with the W.
Top 4 – Andrew Burley (Andykins)
Top 4? Yeah, that’s how I felt going into this battle. I was looking to potentially outsmart Andy with some tricks I didn’t use against Sam since I knew they had the same team, but this was a match where game 1 was decided at team preview.
I started by spreading Thunder Wave on his Salamence and hitting switch-ins with it after Taunting the Amoonguss, but I made a really big mistake in this game. By bringing Amoonguss, I weakened my Heatran matchup by a lot, and it came down to my Amoonguss against his Heatran and Mega Salamence, which goes about as well as trying to use Sunflora in the current meta.
I recorded this match! Here it is in its entirety!
The Immediate Retrospect
After everything wrapped up, we all decided to eat at Champion’s across the street from the venue for obvious reasons. I couldn’t believe how well the team performed between three different players that day, and was extremely satisfied with the results. My hopes are set on improving enough to consistently go x-2 or better at future events after having broken this x-3 rut, and outright performing better than season. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to just lead Kang Azu.
Obviously I can’t be too upset with a top 4 finish. This was my first time using a standard team at any event, really, so that was interesting. In 2012 I used Guard Swap Shuckle, in 2013 I used Swift Swim Mantine, in 2014 I ran Double Poli+Electrode, and in 2015 I used Skill Swap Stantler. I remember being sort of frustrated at the end of Nationals last year and saying, “Next regionals I’m just going to do something standard. No gimmicks.” I almost went back on my word with Inner Focus Dragonite, but standard’s not bad, and it worked out pretty well for me. I felt I had a lot more second chances, so that’s something nice about using standard teams. Regardless, I’m thinking Imprison Sableye or Choice Scarf Darmanitan as my next frontier, but (un)fortunately now I’m feeling pressure to get a Worlds invite, so that may have to wait a year.
So I got top 4, my best result so far! I am extremely proud of that result, and very excited to have made it that deep in the tourney with so little preparation with this team. I look forward to attending a few more regionals this season as school permits. Feel free to follow me on Twitter @jakesaysstuff. I love interacting with the community and hopefully you all will follow my transition to be a better Pokemon player as the season continues.
Special thanks to Rosemary K. (Nekkra) for introducing me to Seongjun. That was sort of the initial push which got this team idea rolling! Huge shoutout to Seongjun himself for sparking the initial idea. Hopefully you’ll be able to attend events with Team Michigan soon. If it weren’t for Andrew B. (Andykins) and Jake M. (MajorBowman), Thundurus would have probably ended up with Chople Berry and Heatran with Safety Goggles. Congratulations as well to Andy for finishing 2nd overall! Of course, major shoutouts to Alec (Polecat) and Caitlin (RandomVGC) for choosing to use my team and doing exceptionally well with it! Two top fours is too strongo. Thank you to Nugget Bridge for giving us the opportunity to write this article in the first place, and a huge thanks to all of you reading this! I hope it was enjoyable!
Shoutouts to Ashton Cox (linkyoshimario) for an awesome best of four, Curtis Cousins for a mutual dislike of cheesecake (the dessert) and a good best of three, Jordan VanderZwaag (jvswag) for that round 5 (6?) burger, and to Austin Huffman and Alec Brennan for being cool people.
I want to say thank you to my friends and fans who inspired me and kept me positive throughout the day: Brianna Birt (TR_Jessie), Maureen Cox, Jake Muller (Majorbowman), Ian McLaughlin (Raikoo), Kevin Swastek (Kswas), Jordan VanderZwaag (JVSwag), and Andrew Burley (Andykins). Without your support, I was very close to dropping before round 1, and I am extremely grateful that Jonathan McMillan (MrEobo) could convince me not to do so, and you all made it an enjoyable time.