This is going to be less detailed than my usual stories, but the trip wasn't nearly as long as stories I have written in the past and I have to edit a paper due tomorrow so... =/ Saturday, November 12, 2011 I got up early (for a weekend) and made sure I had all my stuff ready after showering and getting dressed. The plan was for me to bus down to Milwaukee, meet up with ZachDro (Zach) and Macle (Adam), and ride down to Fort Wayne in his car, picking up Sixonesix (Kamaal) on the way. The first leg of the journey went pretty smoothly, with the only scare coming when I almost missed the bus to Milwaukee ._. The ride down to Indiana went without much trouble, though some interesting adventures were had along the way. One such example was this "gas station" somewhere in Indiana, which was actually just two rows of a few freezers with drinks/food in them side by side and a ticket booth that I can only assume was the register. I automatically assumed that this place did not have a bathroom (as it did not have an interior), so Adam and I went over to the Wal-Mart across the parking lot to find a bathroom. This was only the beginning, however... When we arrived in Fort Wayne, we made our way to our hotel to check in before getting something to eat. Zach had booked a room at the Holiday Inn across from the convention center, but apparently they failed to mention on their site that you must be 21 or older to check in at a Holiday Inn. Unfortunately, none of us are 21, so we had the option of waiting for Evan to arrive (wasn't going to be for another few hours) or switching hotels to one a few minutes down the road. They transferred our info to their sister hotel which did not have the same policy and we were on our way. The room ended up being cheaper and perfectly suitable for the four of us, so it ended up working out well in the end. The attendant at the new hotel got some laughs out of our reason for being in Ft. Wayne while Adam, Kamaal, and I enjoyed a classic seinfeld episode ("The Contest") in the lobby. After getting settled into our room, I texted Evan to let him know that we had arrived and he told us he would let us know when he had arrived and we could go get food together. I played a game of League of Legends with my brother and a friend from high school while the other guys battled on PO and got their teams ready for the next day. I durdled around on IRC for a while and not too long afterward I got a call from Evan, and we agreed to meet up at Steak N' Shake. I mapquested it because my phone was low on battery and quickly wrote down the directions, but managed to miss one key step. We proceeded to drive 5-10 minutes out of the way before figuring out we had gone wrong, and Kamaal used the GPS on his phone to direct us to Steak N' Shake. We found Evan rather easily, as he was wearing an amazing sweater. A random observer would later comment that he thought Evan was "the guy that invented Steak N' Shake". Joining us for a late night snack were members of several local gangs (who were surprisingly friendly with one another) as well as some other interesting characters. We came to the conclusion that we were definitely the most average table in the restaurant. Synre (Scott) and Psycho (Kaleb) arrived shortly after we ordered our food. We chatted about the upcoming tournament, among other things. The food was pretty good (better than the Five Guys the next day IMO), particularly the shakes. Evan needed to EV and Rare Candy some of his Pokemon still, and he needed to get feathers/candies from Kamaal, so he took him back to his hotel. Zach had been driving great all day, but it finally caught up to him as he nearly ran a red light (ZACH THAT'S A RED LIGHT) and almost took several wrong turns. Adam and I got a good laugh out of the vast margin of error Evan was giving us by following very far behind, at the very least. Sunday, November 13, 2011 I woke up first the next morning to find Kamaal's bed empty, and soon received a text from him saying that he had gone to find wifi so that he could unlock his battle box from the Autumn friendly. Zach thought this was strange, as he was able to unlock his just fine. Lo and behold, I received a text not a few minutes later saying that he had been pushing the wrong command the whole time xD Kamaal had ended up almost to the tournament site, so he just went to Evan's room and ate breakfast with them. After I showered and we all got our stuff packed and ready, we headed out for the tournament site. I still needed to get my mons from Scott (indirectly from Cassie as I did not have WiFi in my apartment, thanks again by the way! =D), so I took my sweet time while Zach went up and registered. We finally got all of our teams ready and registered, taking note of the fact that there were just 6 Juniors and 24 Seniors in attendance. Tyler lamented the fact that his sister was out of town that day, as she would have (presumably) crushed the small Juniors field very easily. While we were waiting for Masters sign-ups to finish, we tried to look for Mr. E. It was difficult in the sea of people such as Ain't Falco ("YOU'RE SIXONESIX?!!?!?!") and "Pokeball guy", a random dude who was tossing his plush pokeball up and down and wandering around asking people if they had a Dream World Vulpix or Ninetales. Eventually, Adam spotted a short bespectacled dude walking around holding a piece of paper that said FREE GARCHOMP with the accompanying picture on it, and predicted that it was Mr. E. Evan was in the bathoom at the time, and none of us had the guts to approach him and ask if it was him, so we waited for Evan to come out before heading out in a big group. Sure enough, we had found the legendary Mr. E!!! It only took 11(?) years, but we had finally discovered the identity of the most mysterious man on Smogon. We got a group picture sitting at the table, taken by Zach: Left Side, nearest to farthest: Sixonesix, Macle, Synre, Psycho Right Side, nearest to farthest: Evan, Myself, Alphabet123, Tyler, Mr. E Here was my team that I used on the day: Tyranitar (M) @ Focus SashTrait: Sand Stream EVs: 156 HP / 252 Atk / 100 SDef Brave Nature (+Atk, -Spd) - Crunch - Rock Slide - Taunt - Protect Cresselia (F) @ Lum Berry Trait: Levitate EVs: 252 HP / 200 Def / 56 SDef Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk) - Icy Wind - Safeguard - Protect - Psychic Excadrill (M) @ Chople Berry Trait: Sand Rush EVs: 252 Atk / 60 Def / 196 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Earthquake - X-Scissor - Protect - Rock Slide Gyarados (F) @ Wacan Berry Trait: Intimidate EVs: 104 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 148 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Thunder Wave - Waterfall - Protect - Roar Ferrothorn (F) @ Leftovers Trait: Iron Barbs EVs: 252 HP / 148 Def / 108 SDef Relaxed Nature (+Def, -Spd) - Protect - Leech Seed - Power Whip - Gyro Ball Porygon-Z @ Choice Scarf Trait: Adaptability EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk) - Hidden Power [Fire] - Thunderbolt - Hyper Beam - Trick The defensive EVs on Cresselia mean something, but I forgot what. The speed on Gyarados is enough to outspeed max speed Thundurus after one Icy Wind. The defensive EVs on Ferrothorn are what Jibaku suggested to maximize defenses in the analysis. Everything else is pretty standard. We tried to convince E (Kory) to play, but he decided not to (we even had an extra cart for him, boxes full of thunduruses(eseseses) and all!) Not long after, Round 1 pairings for Masters were put up, and much to everyone's surprise (not really).... Round 1 vs Kamaal Harris [Sixonesix] (0-0) Oh hey, this match happened in round 3 at Worlds last year? Yeah, let's pair these two guys together. I'm sure that's what the computer was thinking when this pairing was made. To add to the heartbreak, Evan and Tyler were paired up in round 1 as well. Ah well, I suppose it had to happen at some point. Here was what I recall of our battle (I didn't save any battle videos on the day =[): [edited out by request] It sucked to have to play a friend so early, but at the same time I had confidence in Kamaal and I knew I would have some solid tiebreakers from at least one of my opponents. I hoped I would get an easier opponent in the next round, but that hope was dashed when... Round 2 vs Dillon O'Donovan [Alphabet123] (1-0) Oof =[ Before we began, he said I would like his team, and sure enough, he had some good ones. Here's his log of the battle: Battle between Dillon and tad38 started! Tier: VGC 2012 Rule: Unrated Rule: Item Clause Rule: Species Clause Rule: Wifi Battle tad39 sent out Excadrill! Dillon sent out Politoed! tad38 sent out Tyranitar! Dillon sent out Ludicolo! Politoed's Drizzle made it rain! The foe’s Tyranitar’s Sand Stream whipped up a sandstorm! Start of turn 1 tad38 called Tyranitar back! tad38 sent out Ferrothorn! The foe’s Excadrill used Protect! The foe’s Excadrill protected itself! Ludicolo used Rain Dance! It started to rain! Politoed used Focus Blast! The attack of Politoed missed! Rain continues to fall! Start of turn 2 tad38 called Excadrill back! tad38 sent out Cresselia! Ludicolo used Scald! The foe’s Cresselia lost ~25% of its health. Politoed used Focus Blast! It’s super effective! The foe’s Ferrothorn lost ~33% of its health! The foe’s Ferrothorn used Power Whip! It's super effective! Politoed lost ~91% of its health! Politoed restored a little HP using its Leftovers! The foe’s Ferrothorn restored a little HP using its Leftovers! Rain continues to fall! Start of turn 3 Ludicolo used Scald! The foe's Cresselia lost ~35% of its health! The foe's Cresselia used Psychic! Politoed lost ~21% of its health! The foe’s Ferrothorn used Power Whip! Ludicolo lost ~64% of its health. Rain continues to fall! Dillon sent out Poliwrath! Start of turn 4 tad38 called back Ferrothorn! Tad38 sent out Tyranitar! The foe’s Tyranitar’s Sand Stream whipped up a sandstorm! Poliwrath used Brick Break! Poliwrath’s Fighting Gem raised Brick Break’s power! It’s super effective! The foe’s Tyranitar lost 99% of its health! The foe’s Tyranitar hung on using its focus sash! The foe's Cresselia used Psychic! Poliwrath lost ~53% of its health! Ludicolo used Scald! The foe's Cresselia lost ~20% of its health! The sandstorm rages! Poliwrath is buffeted by the sandstorm! Ludicolo is buffeted by the sandstorm! Start of turn 5 Poliwrath used Brick Break! It’s super effective! The foe’s Tyranitar lost 1% of its health! The foe’s Tyranitar fainted! Ludicolo used Rain Dance! It started to rain! The foe’s Cresselia used Psychic! It’s super effective! Poliwrath lost ~34% of its health! Poliwrath fainted! Rain continues to fall! Dillon sent out Psyduck! Luke sent out Ferrothorn! Start of turn 6 The foe’s Cresselia used Protect! The foe’s Cresselia protected itself! Ludicolo used Scald! The foe’s Cresselia protected itself! Psyduck used Hydro Pump! It’s not very effective… The foe’s Ferrothorn lost ~40% of its health! The foe’s Ferrothorn used Power Whip! Ludicolo lost ~30% of its health! Ludicolo fainted! Start of turn 7 Psyduck used Hydro Pump! The foe’s Cresselia lost ~15% of its health! The foe’s Cresselia fainted! The foe’s Ferrothorn used Power Whip! It’s super effective! Psyduck fainted! tad38 won the battle! (2-0) After two hard-fought matches against friends in a row, surely I couldn't fight another one, right? Zach, Tyler, and I were the last of the undefeateds as some other unfortunate matchups and bad luck had occured, but that didn't stop the computer from... Round 3 vs Tyler Hagan [Tyler422] (2-0) Tyler had talked to me the round previously about how he didn't want to get paired up with me because of my deadly ferrothorn, but unfortunately for him that is exactly what occured. He used a rain team that did not lead Politoed, which was pretty clever. I brought Ttar/Excadrill/Ferrothorn/Cresselia, as he had something with Water Absorb on his team or something that made me not want to bring Gyarados. The battle came down to his Toxicroak (not fresh, i.e. can't Fake Out) and Politoed against my Excadrill and Ferrothorn (sandstorm up). We both weren't sure if Excadrill could OHKO Croak, but I went for it anyway and it managed to KO it and deal significant damage to Toed while Ferrothorn protected. After Exca died and it was down to Ferrothorn and Politoed, he forfeited rather than play it out (though he was low enough for Power Whip to KO). It was a good game (both teams played hard), just an unfortunate matchup for Tyler. =[ I ran over to the concession stand after confirming that there were 7 rounds (71 Masters entered the tournament). I hadn't eaten anything all day, so I pounded a quick hot dog and a diet pepsi. I was the last undefeated Duck left, so I needed to keep the dream alive! Round 4 vs Derrick Bettis [D-Rock] (3-0) Around this time, Kory (whose name we unforunately did not learn until after the conclusion of the tournament, as otherwise he could have been COACH K instead of the less-cool COACH E) started watching my battles from behind me, at a reasonable enough distance to satisfy the staff. My opponent did not identify himself as a Smogon user until after the tournament had concluded, but he was definitely a skilled player and had a solid team. I used Gyarados/Porygon-Z/Tyranitar/Ferrothorn and he used Abomasnow/Cresselia/Zapdos/Scizor (IIRC, please correct me if I'm wrong). Turn 1 I used HP fire and Waterfall to take down Aboma, while Metagross used meteor mash to deal substantial damage to Porygon-Z. He sent in Zapdos, so I protected with Gyarados and switched out to Ferrothorn. Eventually, I took down his Zapdos with Porygon-Z's Hyper Beam after it had burned my Tyranitar with Heat Wave (which ended up allowing Scizor to live Waterfall from Gyarados, as it would have taken more from Rock Slide otherwise). Ferrothorn took care of Scizor and Cresselia and I was on my way to round 5! (Side note: During my battle, I had to contain my laughter when a player next to me asked his opponent if his shiny Cresselia was "legit". When his opponent said yes and that it was RNG'd, this guy adamantly said "No, that's not legit, that's cheating!") Round 5 vs ??? (4-0) My opponent had seen me coming towards his table the previous round and said "oh no, my reign is over", and he informed me before our battle that he was a TCG player who thought he would try his hand at the VGC. He said he didn't understand how he was 4-0, and a large fellow sitting next to us shared his sentiment. I was wary though, as I knew no opponent that had made it this far would go down easily. He lead with Thundurus and Tyranitar, while I lead with Tyranitar and Excadrill. I used Rock Slide with TTar and X-Scissored his TTar, not fearing anything he could do to me. He protected with his Tar and used Thunder Wave, which I rolled my eyes at, thinking he was going for the FP on TTar... but then it failed! He had apparently overthought himself (or misclicked) and T-Waved my Excadrill, which actually could have been devastating if I had switched out. Rock Slide OHKO'd and he brought out Garchomp. I switched TTar for Gyarados and Earthquaked with Excadrill, missing Garchomp I believe and hitting TTar for substantial damage. He predicted nicely (which I complimented) and used Rock Slide with Chomp to hit for some damages, while TTar also slid and missed Gyara (I think). The battle continued on and I eventually had my ferrothorn against his Garchomp that was Leech Seeded, but managed to miss Gyro Ball once to give me a little scare. Nevertheless, I pulled it out in the end and advanced to 5-0. Round 6 vs Greg Petravicz (5-0) In our pre-match banter while we waited to be hack checked, my opponent (the large fellow who was sitting next to me the previous round) asked if I was a member of any online communities and I said yes and told him who I was/where I was from. He said that he had a "longtime dislike" for Smogon, not because of the people (whom he said had been helpful in recent years) but rather because they had "hacked his Netbattle server" back in the old days. I managed to contain my laughter, but at least he said he had since changed his opinion of Smogon. He said he had practiced on Skarmbliss a number of times, so I knew he would be prepared (in addition to the fact that he was 5-0). He lead with Thundurus and Garchomp, and when I sent out Tyranitar and Excadrill he said aloud "Oh, I should have figured". I don't know if he meant to imply my lead was very standard (I saw zero other Excadrills on the day) or that he had a bad lead matchup, which I strongly disagreed with. Turn 1 he switched Thundurus to Politoed while I double Protected, and he Earthquaked his own Politoed for ~60%. I double switched to Ferrothorn and Gyarados on the following turn, taking some damage from a Toed Scald (did not burn thankfully) as Chomp protected. He switched to Ludicolo (IIRC) the next turn with Chomp and Protected with Politoed. This battle was very long and tedious, as he was using Rain Dish Ludicolo with Toxic, Leech Seed, Seismic Toss, and Protect as a moveset (with Leftovers as the item). He managed to score a double protect with Politoed to save it from Ferrothorn's wrath, while his Ludi took some damage from Power Whip but recovered a lot of it back. I eventually managed to KO Thundurus after some Sandstorm damage, 2 or 3 Leech Seed triggers, and a Gyro Ball. Tyranitar survived a series of attacks with just 2 HP remaining, which was very important. I switched it out to preserve it's life, knowing that the battle would very likely go to time. With time running down, he had Politoed and an Intimidated and Leech Seeded Garchomp on the field against my Poisoned Gyarados and Ferrothorn., with rain active. I did not know how the timer mechanics worked, but I ran the clock down to zero (only had about 5 seconds left) before protecting (100% chance to succeed) with Gyara and Power Whipping his Politoed. I won the match on time out 4-3, which he was not happy about. He said that I was "very lucky" and that I could not have won a full-length battle, which I did not agree with at all. He then informed me that his Garchomp had Fire Fang, but if he was planning to use it on Ferrothorn under the conditions that the battle ended in, it would have done a miserable 19.32%-23.86% (assuming max attack Chomp). Even if sand had ended up coming up, an Intimidated Fire Fang would still do less than 50%, so he would need to get lucky and have a flinch or burn in order to have a chance to win (especially considering he was Seeded as well). I could have slain Ludicolo rather easily with X-Scissor from Excadrill as well, so that was not a problem either. After being congratulated for my success as the last 6-0 in the tournament, I was satisfied that I could probably relax in my next battle. Unfortunately, I did not know that the current tiebreaker system used in these tournaments did not include head-to-head, so I didn't think I could forfeit to my next opponent to allow them to lock up top 4. I also did not even know what my tiebreakers were (especially relative to others), so I was worried that I would be matched up with another friend. Naturally, the only 5-1 that we knew was... Round 7 vs Kaleb Grapp [Psycho] (5-1) I was horrified, and tried to ask staff around me if I could see the standings, but unfortunately my requests were denied. I decided to play it out, secretly hoping I would lose... Kaleb had amazingly made it this far with a VGC 11 Trick Room team, featuring such hits as Level 49 Amoonguss, Jellicent to set up TR, and Gigalith. I lead Tyranitar and Gyarados while he lead Amoonguss and Jellicent. I taunted Amoonguss and Roared his Jellicent, but he double Protected. I decided to let him set up TR and taunted Amoonguss and switched Gyara to Ferrothorn, knowing it was the slowest thing on the planet. I Power Whipped his Jellicent for a OHKO as he Giga Drained my TTar, and Rock Slide hit for 50%+ (single target though, which I kept in mind, plus he had Black Sludge). Kaleb brought in Conkeldurr, who my team really does not like. I double switched, getting him to Drain Punch my Gyarados while Giga Draining my Cresselia (which crit, although it didn't end up mattering). I went for Psychic on his Amoonguss while using Protect, because I was worried about Rock Slide. This was actually a mistake regardless, as I should have double targeted Conkeldurr. He used Facade (Burn Orb had activated the previous turn) and crit to KO Cresselia while Amoonguss Giga Drained my Gyara (which had Protected). I brought in Ferrothorn and used Protect as he used Facade to KO Gyara. With Trick Room expired (I made sure to keep track!), I used Rock Slide and Power Whipped his Conkeldurr, and he flinched with Conk =[. I double Protected so that SS/Burn could finish off Conk, and then killed Gigalith, all the while apologizing profusely and agonizing over whether or not to forfeit. I decided to let him and Scott stay in my room for Nats to make up for it, which I hope helps! Kamaal lost a heartwrencher in the last round to finish 5-2 (he had been on a 5-0 tear since losing to me), so one 5-2 would finish 4th... Unfortunately, it ended up being the guy that Kamaal lost to in the last round. Shiny Regice (who introduced himself to me, as did styrofoameon in round 6) placed 5th as well =/ D-Rock locked up 3rd place, losing out on tiebreakers to my round 6 opponent. THIS IS WHY WE NEED TOP CUT TPCI (/rant) After the tournament ended and I got my paperwork, we snapped a group picture (kindly taken by a guy who gave me his business card and told me to contact him if I ever got one of those DW Cradilys or Lileeps...): We all decided to head out for a Five Guys that we had seen on the way in, so we split into our separate cars and made our way over there. I was not very impressed by the food there, but it was servicable. I spilled my drink approximately a million times, and many good times were had and stories shared (such as Evan's final opponent's father, who approached Evan immediately after the battle and let him know how proud of his son he was). Among them were the legendary pectorals of my Round 6 opponent, which Zach had managed to get a video of (which can be found, along with other pictures from the event, at https://picasaweb.google.com/115271658141843819051/FortWayneShenanigans#). After we parted ways with everyone, we got back on the road to head home... or so we thought. Zach's brakes went out at the first stoplight we came to, which led to an hour-long debacle after which we finally all came to our own plans to get home. Zach and Adam decided to stay in Fort Wayne overnight to get his car fixed the next day (they couldn't do it that day), while Kamaal and I had classes we needed to get back for, so we ponied up the cash for the public transportation necessary to get home. My phone died on the bus from Fort Wayne to Chicago, so I was left with only my instincts and the information I had gathered before it ran out of battery to find my way in an unknown city. Upon getting off my bus, I got directions to Union Station, where a bus would be leaving for Madison in about 25 minutes. I managed to find the place just fine (though actually getting INSIDE the station was mildly confusing), but getting a ticket was another thing entirely. The ticket booths were closed for the night, so I tried to use one of the machines, only to get an error that I couldn't figure out why it was happening (it didn't help that the error message was cut off...) I got the vague directions from an employee that the location where I could buy tickets was "right upstairs", failing to mention that I actually had to purchase them from the bus driver himself (and the bus was not there yet obviously). With about 5 minutes to spare, I found a different employee who explained the situation in significantly more detail, which helped a lot. Zach had given me some cash back that I had given him for gas/hotel, which was life-saving as the bus only took cash. After a long, arduos journey, I was finally home... only to wake up in 5 hours and get back on the daily grind (as it were). Overall, I had a great time at the event and had only a few complaints (mainly with the tournament structure, i.e. lack of top cut and standings). The staff was intelligent and informative, which unfortunately did not seem to be the case at all the events. I'm sure that TPCI will listen to our suggestions (so long as they are reasonable and well thought out), so I have hope for the future. I hope you enjoyed my story (though brief and missing a million details) and hopefully I will see you at Madison, Nationals, or Worlds this year or in the future!