Team Report #smogonvgc: A Season Report (VGC 2016)


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VGC Co-Leader

Hi, this is blarajan, @blaramons on twitter. This was my first season playing VGC, and I managed to take 12th place at US Nationals and 25th place at this year’s World Championships. The following is a report of all of my experiences that got me to this point and a reflection on how overbearingly happy involving myself with VGC has made me. It's going to be really long, so bear with me. Skip ahead if you must.

Pokemon History

I’ve been playing Pokemon since 2010, my very first post on Smogon being this gem: There’s starting off bad, and then there’s starting off this bad. But I kept at it, solely focusing on singles play. I didn’t start getting “good” until BW2, where I started showing some results, making top 4 and top 8 in the first and second Grand Slam, going 11-0 in SPL, and eventually leading Little Cup on Smogon. Finding Little Cup, learning the tier and getting involved with the community, and being entrusted to lead it were my most rewarding experiences on Smogon and were what I most enjoyed about playing Pokemon.

Fast forward to 2014, and it turns out the World Championships were happening practically in my backyard, Washington D.C. Though I knew nothing about VGC or had any doubles experience, attending Worlds gave me an opportunity to meet with friends from Smogon such as BKC, idiotfrommars and Cased, along with VGC players I had interacted with through SPL like R Inanimate . Maybe a little less than two weeks before, I learned about the LCQ, and decided since I was attending I would participate. I did not have any play points, but I hopped on #nuggetbridge on Smogon and Firestorm told me I could submit a request to play in the LCQ anyways.

So I did. I spent the two weeks before those Worlds asking way too many questions on IRC (to the dismay of the participants in the channel), building teams instead of practicing (this will be a recurring trend throughout this report), and all in all trying to understand VGC 14. R Inanimate helped me a ton by looking through all of my horrible teams at this time. I lost in Round 3 of the LCQ and from then on just enjoyed the weekend, not even thinking about VGC for the entirety of the next year. All I knew was, Worlds was a blast and I was absolutely going to Boston in 2015.

So I came back, but this time, more of us from Smogon made a trip about it. This was where I met Nails, Stathakis, and Elevator Music, got to see some friends from before like IFM and BKC, and met people I didn’t expect to like Imanalt, ium, and tennisace. But I also learned about the Boston Open, pretty much the day before. So of course the lot of us decide to play. IFM and Nails already had their teams, and me / Stathakis / BKC all scrambled to get mons given to us the day before. I ended up getting a kind of shitty Japan Sand. Boston Open was weird in that it had 4 70 man flights and top 8 of each flight cut. I “top cut” and finished 19th. I thought this was a big deal at the time, and really enjoyed VGC from playing. Nails also “top cut.” “VGC is easy,” we said. “Let’s actually play this upcoming season.” This is where we decided to get really into VGC. I was going into my last year of college and started law school afterwards. I had the time, and the desire, to actually compete.

Becoming Less Ass: The Process

I quickly realized that VGC wasn’t easy. In the downtime from the Boston Open before the format shift, I started an IRC group called #smogonworlds where I brought together as many of my friends who I met at worlds, were involved with VGC, or wanted to play it. This is where we picked up Jibaku, and really where me, Nails, and Jibaku became super close friends this year. This was the start of everything we did this season, all of the teambuilding, all of the testing, all of the theorymonning.

Do you all remember the RMT I posted earlier? I started VGC just like that, except I knew how to EV Pokemon. But my god, I was bad. I’m talking, Mega Aerodactyl + Scarf Machamp + Trick Room Malamar as one of my first VGC 15 teams bad. I’m talking trying to innovate the back end of the format with Disable Kingdra + Perish Song Politoed + Gothitelle bad. Throughout our initial horrible team building, I read a lot, almost every report in the old Nugget Bridge. I tried to find articles, videos, analyses, anything I could to understand how things worked. Anything that would help me build that format defining team, not realizing the hubris involved in a beginning player hoping to break the format post-worlds. I didn’t ever practice, I just built teams. And I built a lot of teams.

I went to events, too. My first event post-Boston Open was a VGC 15 Premier Challenge. My friend Stratos (god bless his soul) went with me and made a “warstory” of the event because it was funny, which can be found here: I don’t remember what garbage I initially planned to use, but I decided to scrap it in the car and form a new team on the way there. That’s where I met the legend himself and my future chauffeur, RBG. I did not really do any practicing beforehand, just teambuilding, and I didn’t even have a team built until I got to the venue. You’ll see this is a recurring theme throughout my season. Yeah, I got bodied.

I kept teambuilding, I kept reading, I kept theorymonning, and I kept not practicing. Our IRC group kept growing. I think at this point I realized how cool Safety Goggles Ghost-types were (or Ghost-types in general), and started focusing on those in my teams. My teams started sucking less, but I still got bodied at the next PC I went to. After that, my next event was the Lancaster Regional, and I was convinced I was going to use this… (you’ll see my Mega Gengar fetish started early) but again ended up scrapping the team nearly the day before and just bringing something completely different that I had never practiced to the event. I did way better than I expected, going 7-1 in swiss and taking 22nd place. Besides another PC (bodied, surprise), that was my last event in VGC 15.

Unveiling of VGC 16

So it turns out, when you spend the entire few months before a format shift building a dead format and not practicing, you don’t actually get better at playing. I brought nothing valuable with me going into VGC 16 besides my desire to continue spamming teams and practicing none. One of my first teams for the format was: I kept thinking that I had solved the format, proposing garbage idea after garbage idea, Xatu with Simple Beam for Xerneas to stop Smeargle and win Xerneas mirrors, Feint Gliscor because Toxic Orb went around Dark Void, 252 HP LO Bisharp…awful stuff. I built a lot with sebixxl on Facebook all year, and he definitely contributed to my bad ideas, being the king of them himself. I dropped ideas more quickly than I came up with them. I dropped a lot of ideas.

I got bodied at my first PC though. It was right before the Virginia regionals on Valentine’s Day, though, that I found what I would latch on to for almost the remainder of the season: Mega Gengar Ray Ogre.I could never get used to Groudon Xerneas teams and I never enjoyed using them, whereas Mega Gengar Ray Ogre seemed to fit my playstyle. I used this at Virginia: It’s important to note that I committed to the team the day before regionals…and built it the day before regionals, EVEN THOUGH I had spent weeks thinking about what to bring. It also has Clear Smog Mega Gengar. Through a combination of bad luck and incorrectly bringing Pokemon with the wrong spreads, I did poorly at this event. Fortunately, I met my lover kamikaze, who was also using Mega Gengar Ray Ogre but actually managed to top cut.

I could definitely see myself improving with the constant teambuilding. I started understanding how teams worked together and getting better analyzing the format. I knew why I latched onto Mega Gengar and why I liked it in tandem with Ray Ogre. I even started practicing and playing ladder, eventually accruing a couple thousand ladder games in VGC16.

Around this time, Nails, Jibaku, Kamikaze, and I got added to a large Skype group with VGC players. This was a big deal for me, as instead of relying on fellow friends who were as inexperienced in VGC as I was, I had many other people whom I could talk to and learn from. I also discovered how much I loved the community, as I made so many friends from this group whom I had the opportunity to meet with at events. Talking with these players and joining this group made me better at this game. Way better.

But even considering that, I still hadn’t top cut any event I played at up until now, and that definitely didn’t change going into the first MSS I attended in mid-March, where I used this: Note that instead of Mega Gengar, I have Kangaskhan, and am using Bronzong Ray Ogre. Unfortunately for me, I broke up with my girlfriend at the time the day before the event (well, technically up until 4 am the day of the event), so I’m excusing myself for this one.

But in non-VGC Pokemon playing, I finally won SPL on Smogon in my fourth season. I was on the Sharks, managed by Makiri. Accordingly, Makiri picked me up (and my lover Nails, but he was not a Shark) for the Jets in NPA. It was here I met another one of my many lovers, Unreality, along with other great guys like William Tansley (Starko). This chat was another important period of my growth as I got to see many other styles of teambuilding and got to build with other people as we attempted to win the knock-off and infinitely worse Nugget Bridge SPL.

This was where Nails and I made our first impact on the metagame, as we both transitioned into using Double Primals (though in my case, Mega Gengar Primals…again, remember this). We realized Icy Wind on Kyogre was really, really good, and helped Eruption Groudon completely end lives. I played Joseph Richardson for my first set in knock-off SPL, and Icy Wind Kyogre just carried the set for me. (I then lost my next 3 knock-off SPL games through a combination of bad teams, bad luck, and bad playing. Funny how that works right?)

My next few events were spent using this team: (built by Nails). Though I dropped 0-2 at the MSS I went to using that team, I took first place and second place at my next two PCs. That’s not a huge accomplishment, but it was a big deal to me. Those events were important to giving me enough points to qualify for worlds with a top 128 record at Nationals, and were confidence boosters for me that I really had been getting better. I had had no tangible results at all while playing.

The Road to Nationals

Preparing for nationals was hard for me. It was integral to me qualifying for worlds, and I promised myself I would be done with my team well in advance of nationals and that I would practice with it (spoiler: not what happened). Since my IRC group was dying, I put together a Skype group with close friends and people whom I wanted to prepare with for nationals (which we still use!). We built a lot of teams in this chat and had a lot of ideas, trying to find the “perfect nats call.”

I went through everything I had done in VGC 16 up until this point and then some. More and more horrible ideas, like max speed Timid Icy Wind Sableye (outruns Kangaskhan/Yveltal at -1 and can Quash them before Sucker Punch so Groudon can Eruption without taking damage…still my favorite idea), Clefairy Primals, and then many archetypes I had never used before, such as YvelDon, and XernOgre. Of course, these teams were kept afloat with our horrible niche Pokemon, such as Safeguard Moltres and Rotom-H. This was also when we discovered VoidCats and had too much fun spamming it to almost 1700 on ladder (

I was doing all I physically could not to bring Mega Gengar Ray Ogre to Nationals. Around this time, I started realizing Mega Gengar was not the greatest Pokemon, and that I was scared to bring it. I kept mentioning Mega Gengar so much that the Skype group title was renamed to “Days without a Mega Gengar suggestion.” I think my record was 2. But as Nationals approached and my ideas got worse, I ended up committing to Mega Gengar Ray Ogre as that and Icy Wind primals were the only thing in the format I liked. The main core that I had in my teambuilder and was working with on and off throughout my nationals prep was: Mega Gengar / Kyogre / Bronzong / Rayquaza (this should look familiar to you all).

I just couldn’t get the last two Pokemon to work. Jibaku and I spent a lot of our teambuilding flowcharting against big 6, playing games out in our head and working out flaws based on what responses we had in the flowchart. Nothing seemed good enough for us, and we even were building my team on the plane ride to Nationals. The main core was finished, the team was not.


Nationals was a complete blast. I don’t want to talk about how much fun it was, but I did outline as such in this post: But Pokemon-wise, our hotel room was me, Nails, SamVGC (whom I finally met! <3), Jibaku, and kamikaze. Of this group, only Nails was finished with his team the night before nationals. I ended up choosing last mons Thundurus and Weavile around 1AM and then going to bed. I ended up deciding to give Weavile Focus Sash and Rayquaza Life Orb (I had only tested Focus Sash previously) on the walk to the Convention Center. My promise to be done with my team well in advance of Nationals backfired. During the player’s meeting, I looked up all of the calcs I thought I would need, and wrote them down in my notebook to refer to between matches ( Of course I hadn’t practiced.

Nationals Team

Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 28 HP / 88 Def / 160 SpA / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
- Sludge Bomb
- Will-O-Wisp
- Hidden Power [Water]
- Protect

Mega Gengar was my fetish mon for the entire format, and was one of the only ways I felt comfortable playing against Big 6. Will-O-Wisp is mandatory for Mega Kangaskhan and Sludge Bomb for Xerneas. I opted to use HP Water as I like it when I can beat Groudon when leading Mega Gengar. The evs outran Weavile after a mega evolution, lived a LO Adamant Talonflame Brave Bird, and OHKOed 4 HP Groudon in neutral weather with HP Water 87.5% of the time.

Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb
Ability: Primordial Sea
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
Quiet Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Origin Pulse
- Ice Beam
- Thunder
- Protect

I just used fat Kyogre. I have been a Kyogre player all format, as like I said earlier I was completely garbage at using Groudon Xerneas...I had no sense for playing Xerneas. One of the things I realized this format that you win games when your Pokemon live when they are not supposed to, and I took that to heart and went with 252 HP / 252 Def. I just chose a Quiet nature to boost the strongest stat, and went with 0 IVs to make sure when I got up Trick Room I could actually use it. My team didn't have Tailwind so there was no reason not to be the slowest Kyogre. I was weak to other Kyogre so I went with Origin Pulse / Thunder.

Bronzong @ Lum Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 148 Atk / 116 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Gyro Ball
- Trick Room
- Skill Swap
- Hypnosis

Bronzong is the third and last mon in the infamous Mega Gengar / Bronzong / Kyogre core. I strongly believe that back Bronzong and Kyogre have the most switch potential in VGC 16. I don't remember what my evs do except kind of suck. I'm pretty positive Jonathan Evans gave me this spread and I just used it because it's a Bronzong and who cares what its spread is. Hypnosis is the most controversial move on the set but I think it's non-negotiable. After Bronzong sets up Trick Room, it's basically doing nothing. Hypnosis gives it offensive pressure and forces your opponent to respect Bronzong as a threat, even if Hypnosis is inaccurate. It also complements Origin Pulse by turning what was a 15% chance to miss to a 6% chance to miss when you Hypnosis the Pokemon you need to kill with Origin Pulse. Probability management :D.

Rayquaza-Mega @ Life Orb
Ability: Air Lock
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Dragon Ascent
- Overheat
- Protect
- Extreme Speed

I just really liked Rayquaza. I went with Life Orb instead of Focus Sash as I normally do because I gave Focus Sash to Weavile and to help me be more useful in Trick Room with Extreme Speed. Overheat was because I had Mawile, Ferrothorn, and Bronzong issues and just wanted to do damage to them when I could. Strong mon, etc. Ray Ogre.

Benchwarmers I technically had on my Nationals Team

Weavile @ Focus Sash
Ability: Pressure
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Knock Off
- Icicle Crash
- Feint
- Fake Out

Useless. Was supposed to help against Ray Ogre, Thundurus, and Cress Mence leads and as a Pokemon to put next to Gengar with back Kyogre / Bronzong against big 6. But, I messed up my flowchart, forgot about Crafty Shield Smeargle + Power-up Punch Kangaskhan, realized I had nothing for Khan Artist, and never really used it. Oops.

Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 4 SpA / 68 SpD / 172 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Thunderbolt
- Taunt
- Thunder Wave
- Protect

Also kind of useless, but it's just a Thundurus and it's a good Pokemon so I used it. The EVs outran Kangaskhan, lived +2 DGleam, and lived Double-Edge after Sitrus Berry. It wasn't that helpful and i didn't really bring it often.

Day One of Nationals

I was really nervous, but ready to play. All I wanted to do was go 5-4 with a high resistance and get my Worlds invite. I'm really, really bad at remembering actual details of games, and I don't include turn notes so I'll just be listing the player, their team, the score, and some general comments about each game.

(0-0) Round 1: Samuel Amity [WW]

I remember being happy at the end of this game because it was a good confidence booster. It was just a solid game against someone with a real team who didn't play poorly. This game was notable as it was like the only set I brought Weavile to. Garbage Pokemon.

(1-0) Round 2: Ben Hickey @Ben_Hickey [LL]

This was the set where I realized my flowchart was all screwed up, and that I couldn't really do to Kangaskhan / Smeargle if Kangaskhan had Power-Up Punch and Smeargle had Crafty Shield. He led Kang Talon game one, and I ended up losing the game pretty quickly. But I timer stalled him for the next 12 minutes to think about how to play game 2. He led Khan Artist, got good moody boosts, and I lost.

(1-1) Round 3: Huy Ha @huynasaur [WLW]

I was pretty worried about the rest of my games due to the problems with my flowchart, and then I got paired up with a really good player, Huy. I saw that he had a Xerneas Groudon variant, and I remember being extremely happy when he didn't have Smeargle. I also tried bringing Weavile to this game, because of Salamence/Cresselia potential, and that helped out game 1 because he led Salamence Cresselia...until it lived a turn 1 Icicle Crash and my board got wiped by Helping Hand Hyper Voice. Weavile's useless. I still managed to take the game, then lost game 2 pretty handily to Cress Xern. Game 3 ended up being a real nail biter, and ended up really funny because after being paralyzed and hit with multiple Icy Wind, my Bronzong ended up doing almost 40% with Gyro Ball to kill an Amoonguss and I managed to eke out the win.

(2-1) Round 4: Calvin Nisson @CalNisson [WW]

Again, I saw a Xerneas Groudon without Smeargle, and was happy. I was kind of taken aback by Stantler, but I knew it was a wannabe Psychic-type so I knew it had Trick Room and Gravity. I managed to win Game 1 and then got thrown off Game 2...when Stantler also revealed Hypnosis and Skill Swap. I still won, and me and Calvin had fun talking during this set. Enjoyable games.

(3-1) Round 5: David Mancuso @yoMancuso [WLW or LWW, I don't remember and my notes make no sense]

I got paired with Mancuso at this point, and he's a complete delight. I'm happy he and I became friends that weekend. Fortunately for me, even though his Groudon Xerneas team had a Smeargle, there was no accompanying Kangaskhan! These games ended up coming down to the wire and if I remember correctly, were just very clean and very fun. David says they were his favorite of the day!

(4-1) Round 6: Jimmy Friedle [WW]

Jimmy had one of the more unique teams I had seen that day. I didn't really know what to expect from Gardevoir, and I remember thinking about VGC 15 when he led Suicune Gardevoir game 1 and Talonflame Suicune game 2. I don't remember how I won these games, but I think I won them pretty handily.

(5-1) Round 7: Nicolas Peckman @Ace_Emerald [WLW]

I was playing a fellow Smogon boy without even realizing it! This was the only game where I was actually really happy to have Weavile on my team, and I think I brought it all 3. I won Game 1 pretty easily, but lost Game 2 to a mislead and an early game Xerneas victory. Game 3 I was feeling pretty confident and made a hard read turn 1 that didn't pan out...but ended up coming out victorious because my Kyogre paralyzed his Aegislash with Thunder, and full paras came in clutch. I felt really bad about this set, but Ace Emerald was really friendly about it.

(6-1) Round 8: Joseph Pulkowsky (sandman) [WW]

I started getting nervous here. I clawed back from 1-1 to 6-1, and only needed one more win out of two sets to make day 2. Unfortunately, I was playing a really good player, though I was pleasantly relieved when I saw no Smeargle. That was really important, and I ended up winning 2-0 and qualifying for day 2.

(7-1) Round 9: Henry Maxon [LL]

I forfeited 0-2 because I didn't want to play. I ALMOST GOT DISQUALIFIED FOR SUGGESTING WE RPS TO SEE WHO SCOOPS BECAUSE APPARENTLY THAT'S AGAINST THE RULES. A judge overheard, they talked about dqing me, and decided to give me a game loss. Because I already had a game loss, I just forfeited g2 and didn't care!

At some point pretty quickly through Day 1, I discovered the Gengar/Rayquaza + Bronzong/Kyogre mode of my team. Remember, I never practiced. At that point, I started bringing that mode to almost every single game, only very very rarely using Weavile and Thundurus.

Day Two of Nationals

I could not believe I made it to day two, though if you look carefully, I only played one Khan Artist throughout day one and lost that set. I had already gotten my worlds invite, and was proud of how I played so I just let myself play naturally here without expectations. We had a huge group dinner the night before, and unfortunately I was the only one from my hotel room who received a day two invite (Nails had atrocious luck). I remember talking with Tommy (Tman) at dinner and we were going over how I would face the Groudon/Dialga/Mega Venusaur/Clefairy/Landorus-T/Noivern team in Day 2, since I had nothing in Dialga. I said "by not playing him."

Also, I bought a Gengar Plush in the morning so I could have that represent me on the table!

(0-0) Round 1: Chase Lybbert @RookieVGC [LWL]

I love Chase, that's all there is to say. We clicked during our set and had some really fun games. We were on the side stream. These games can be found here: game 1 game 2 game 3

Shoutouts @teamrocketelite for being amazing.

(0-1) Round 2: Jeremy Gross @JZGVGC [WW]

We were on stream for this set! I will say I was almost positive his Espeon was Choice Scarf so I used Mega Gengar and Bronzong to make it useless game 1 and won pretty comfortably. Game 2 I got an unfortunate Poison with Sludge Bomb against his Xerneas which helped me clean up with Rayquaza.

games post-match interview

(1-1) Round 3: Jose Harris [WW]

Jose is a great player and was just running really solid Dual Primals. We played two extremely close sets. I had issues with Thunder Kyogre on my team, but fortunately he was dual water move. I also got an important Sludge Bomb poison on his Thundurus game 2 which helped me win the game. I loved these games.

(2-1) Round 4: Alberto Lara @Alberto310 [WW]

This set was also on stream! I was kind of nervous seeing Kangaskhan Smeargle, but I just used Mega Gengar pretty well to trap his team and make it difficult for him to get much advantage. He also never used PuP which made things easier. I also was fortunate to hit an Evasion boosted Smeargle twice.


(3-1) Round 5: Conan Thompson @conanyk [LL]

I got bodied. No contest, just destroyed.

(3-2) Round 6: Bjorn Johnsson @MeowBjorn [LWW]

And of course, the set to determine whether I make top cut is against a Dialga when I have Ray Ogre. I almost knew we would be matched up before the pairings went up. All of my friends I had made were watching me play the set from the sidelines and that felt really awesome.

I remember Game 1 trying to see if I could kill all six of his Pokemon in time. I was in a winning position, but I lost to timer before I could get the final kills I needed. Games 2 and 3 I played to timer and just spammed a lot of blind Hypnosis and risked some speed ties (our primals were both 85 Speed). It was an extremely messy set, but I ended up eking out a 2-1 victory and made top cut at Nationals. I got bum rushed by everyone watching and it felt amazing.

Top 12: Chase Lybbert @RookieVGC [LL]

Before the set, Chase and I were joking around and pretty blatantly scouting information about each other right in front of each other. We were both completely cool with it and still laugh about it. At one point, he gave me his notebook and told me to fill in the holes about my team haha.

Unfortunately for me, Chase knew how to play my team, and was smart. I didn't like bringing Weavile and he seemed to know that, so he led Mence / Cress both games and won pretty hard. He called me on my Trick Rooms like twice in a row and set up TR with his Cress to counter it, I missed my Hypnosis (had to happen), and Chase won in a set that looked like a stomp but I like to think was a little closer than that. I'm really glad it wasn't on stream. My nationals run ended in the top 12, I made money playing Pokemon (though I have not claimed it yet because eWallet sucks), and I had a great time cheering on Aaron Traylor and my new friend Chase Lybbert as they took a monstrous 2nd and 1st place at Nationals.

Preparing for Worlds

At this point, VGC 16 had started clicking for me. I understood the meta, I knew what I was good at, and I knew what mistakes I made. I was still building like a singles player. I added Thundurus and Weavile to check threats, but never realized how they integrated into my mode and my game plan. After Nationals, I vowed I wouldn't make the same mistakes I did for Worlds. I'd finish my team well in advance and practice with it. I wouldn't build as poorly as I did before Nationals. I'd make it clear my run at Nationals wasn't a fluke.

Our Skype group got bigger again, where it is currently named "Mega Gengar is okay, I guess." I got into another smaller Skype group with Enosh, Jon, Gavin, and Jibaku. Enosh is the best and was helping us, but Jon, Gavin, me, and Jibaku all ended up deciding on Mega Gengar Bronzong Kyogre Groudon as our main core for Worlds. I decided that Rayquaza was inconsistent. I knew 100% I was keeping Mega Gengar / Bronzong / Kyogre, and though I experimented with multiple second restricteds, I ended up picking Groudon because it's a Groudon. Jibaku and I were working with those four, whereas Gavin and Jon had ended up choosing Talonflame and Manectric as their lasts.

I hate Manectric. I think it's a bad Pokemon and not worth anyone's time, so mine and Jibaku's teambuilding for about the month before Worlds was figuring out the best last two Pokemon to go with our main core (kind of like my Nationals building!). We had so many multiple hour skype calls figuring it out with Enosh, and were super stressed out because we couldn't "find the answer." Nails on the other hand decided to repeat Nationals and use XRay, and had no stress going into Worlds.

We threw out loads of ideas, Salamence/Thundurus, Togekiss/Venusaur, but even still we couldn't figure out the perfect fifth and sixth mon. I wanted to have my team before August, but eventually, it got to the day of my flight, August 15th, and I still didn't have my team.


Worlds was absolutely incredible, and was easily one of the best weeks of my life. Again, I don't want to get into the fun too much, but me Nails SamVGC Porengan CrashinBoomBang kokoloko Kiyo Cased and Jibaku shared a house for a week, and hung out with so many people like TheFourthChaser and rozes, got plastered with Jonathan Evans, hung out with kingofmars and just so many other people and it was a ton of fun. It was thanks to these people that I didn't even care how I did at Worlds; the trip was already completely worth it. (cute picture)

Still didn't have a team though, which we needed to have finished by registration on Thursday. Jibaku flew in Wednesday night, and eventually I said "fuck it we're going with Substitute Zapdos and Chesto Berry King's Shield Smeargle." And that was that! Team! Done! We ran the same team, and his report can be found here:

Worlds Team

Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 44 HP / 240 Def / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
- Sludge Bomb
- Hidden Power [Water]
- Protect
- Will-O-Wisp

Same Gengar set as Nationals, except we changed the spread so we'd have an 82% chance to live Kangaskhan Sucker Punch, in order to make that matchup a little easier.

Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb
Ability: Primordial Sea
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Origin Pulse
- Ice Beam
- Thunder
- Protect

Same Kyogre set as Nationals, except we changed Kyogre to Bold in order to live two Adamant Precipice Blades from Groudon and a Gyro Ball from Bronzong. It also gave us less Foul Play damage, and let us outrun Salamence in Tailwind, which we now had.

Bronzong @ Lum Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 68 Def / 188 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Gyro Ball
- Trick Room
- Skill Swap
- Hypnosis

Same Bronzong set, except the spread was made specially defensive. I didn't care what the Bronzong spread was so I let Jibaku decide and he chose this.

Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Mild Nature
- Precipice Blades
- Eruption
- Overheat
- Protect

I LOVE MILD GROUDON. Basically, I wanted at least 140 Speed Groudon so Gengar / Groudon + Kyogre / Bronzong was a viable big 6 mode. I wanted Eruption because it's strong as all hell and really reliable. I still wanted Precipice Blades because spread damage is amazing and so I don't lose to Kyogre. I chose filler Overheat because it's strong as hell. I didn't care about my physical defense because I had multiple Groudon outs and I didn't want to get 2HKOed by Hyper Voice. Thus...Mild Groudon!

Zapdos @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Static
Level: 50
EVs: 20 HP / 232 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SpA
- Thunderbolt
- Hidden Power [Water]
- Substitute
- Tailwind

This set seems kind of wacky, but it was pretty well thought out based on our team's needs. Static Zapdos was chosen over Thundurus because it lets me forgo Protect. If I was using Thundurus, I wanted to use Thunderbolt / HP Water / Taunt / Thunder Wave. However, that's Fake Out bait. As such, I chose the equivalent Zapdos set of Thunderbolt / HP Water / Substitute (Dark Void answer) / Tailwind (speed control). It was really, really good! I had HP Water on two of my Pokemon because I really like making Groudon disappear. Though I didn't use it too much, having that option was extremely valuable.

Smeargle @ Chesto Berry
Ability: Moody
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 68 Def / 188 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 26 Spe
- Dark Void
- Wide Guard
- Crafty Shield
- King's Shield

This Smeargle set won me so many games. Basically, it was my response to Khan Artist leads that gave me issues before at Nationals. I told Nails about my problems with Khan Artist and that I wanted to use Smeargle, and he gave me his super secret set out of the goodness of his heart. King's Shield + Chesto Berry lets you neuter Kangaskhan and tank the corresponding Dark Void that same turn. Chesto Berry Crafty Shield Smeargle gives you a switch in to Scarf Smeargle that doesn't just get put to sleep next turn. I also didn't use Smeargle much during the format so far, so I had stored all of my Moody luck for Worlds. The EV spread lives a Timid Moonblast from Xerneas and lives -2 Double-Edge from Kangaskhan 90% of the time. Good set, broken Pokemon.

Day One of Worlds

Even though, just like with Nationals, I chose the last two Pokemon for my team the night before, I was feeling a lot more confident. I grew a lot as a player after Nationals and was confident in my ability to outplay. I also felt like I chose the correct techs as it gave me multiple modes of play, such as Gengar/Groudon + Bronzong/Kyogre, Zapdos/Smeargle + Groudon/Kyogre, and other similar combinations. I was ready to start playing.

I was in Flight B.

(0-0) Round 1: Mark McQuillan (woopahking) [LWW]

This set was really stressful. Both Mark and I were talking before the set, and then got moved to the side stream against our will (the only round with a side stream, too...)

Mark had Choice Scarf Smeargle. Typically, I ignore the possibility of Scarf Smeargle G1 in a BO3 and make adjustments for G2/G3 if I have to. G1 Mark led Smeargle Xerneas, hit his Dark Voids, and won the game. G2 and G3 I adjusted by bringing my own Smeargle to stop his shenanigans, and unfortunately had to reveal every move and the item on that Smeargle to the side stream. Each move was used, each move was clutch, and the combination of those moves won me G2 and G3. I had my first Smeargle wars in the format, and mine was better.

(1-0) Round 2: Nelson Lim [WLW or LWW, I don't remember]

I was pretty bummed out that I revealed so much information on the stream, but I had to shake it off going into this set. I managed to put the last games behind me, and win in a close 2-1. I think these sets involved a lot of mutual blind hypnosis.

(2-0) Round 3: Nabil Lakehal [WW]

I was pretty happy that I was 2-0. Nabil had a pretty solid team, but my Zapdos and my Smeargle (!) both did a lot of work these games. Zapdos in particular was really strong against his team, and my Smeargle taking a Sleep Powder with Chesto Berry and getting off Dark Void won me game 2.

(3-0) Round 4: Edward Cheung [LWW]

This was a hard matchup for me. I knew I had issues with Cresselia Double Primals going into Worlds, but I chose to ignore the weakness because I didn't expect to see it much (due to Xerneas and Yveltal issues). I lost game 1 pretty hard, and won games 2 and 3 because my Smeargle was better than his whole team. I felt extremely bad about this match, but I was happy I took away a win.

His report can be found here:

(4-0) Round 5: Hongyu Zhu [WW]

Hongyu had an extremely interesting team. Ludicolo really threatened my team because I needed my Kyogre to do damage to his Pokemon, and Ludicolo punished that. Rayquaza also was really strong against me.

I led Zapdos/Smeargle with back Groudon/Kyogre both of my games. I think both of the games somehow went to timer, with me taking both games. The second one was extremely close, with a seemingly 5% HP difference giving me the win.

(5-0) Round 6: James Baek @JamesWBaek [LWW]

I could not believe I was going into this game with a perfect record, only needing to win one set out of three to claim day two of Worlds.

I remember losing Game 1 because his Cresselia caught me off guard, being Icy Wind, Skill Swap, Gravity, and Trick Room. He led Cresselia Groudon all three games, so I decided my Groudon in Tailwind was the way to play out the set. I ended up winning Game 2, and winning Game 3 pretty easily because I pressed Eruption twice from full health and his Groudon and Cresselia died.

I was 6-0. I made day two with a perfect record and just spent the rest of the day on cloud nine. I made no team changes going into day 2.

Day Two of Worlds

Going into Day Two, we had a bunch of people come over to our house including Chase, Alberto, and Alex Jimenez (LegacyVGC). We decided to compile notes and get as much information as possible on the people who were going into day two from day one, so we could refer to that information before sets. It was fun and kind of stressful, but unfortunately at least for me, did not end up that useful.

(0-0) Round 1: bye

I could not believe my luck as I started off day two with a bye. I was happy to take the free win, but I would have preferred to win the game myself in order to feel confident against the field of players.

(1-0) Round 2: Sam Pandelis @zeldavgc [LWW]

Sam's team was threatening because of Yveltal, extremely aggressive, and he played extremely aggressively, leading Kangaskhan and Scarf Smeargle and gambling each game turn one. I had a bad matchup, so I followed suit, bringing Groudon and Smeargle and playing the turn 1 hard read game. Game 1 I double protected, got taken advantage of, and lost because Sam went for the side PuP. Game 2, I got extremely bailed out by an evasion boost from my Smeargle which caused it to dodge his Yveltal's Foul Play and led to me winning the game. Game 3, my Smeargle got a Speed boost and I won.

I felt horrible winning that way, but I made the moves that also had the "in case I lose the 50-50, I can get bailed out by his Smeargle missing Dark Void or my Smeargle getting strong boosts." The latter is what happened, and while I it's definitely frustrating to lose because your opponent had bad moody boosts, it's similarly inconsistent to win because you hit both Dark Voids every game.

(2-0) Round 3: Patrick Smith @SalaMenaceVGC [LWL]

This was a well played set by Patrick. I felt confident in my big B matchup as it's what I built my team to beat, but he played really intelligently game one, I won game two, and I choked away game 3 by forgetting I had Groudon in the back, stopping me from switching out with Patrick's Desolate Land after Skill Swapping it away. I played myself at the end, and I lost, which was super frustrating, but it was on me.

We were on the side stream and the games can be found here: game 1 game 2 game 3

(2-1) Round 4: Kei Yin Or [WLW]

I was kind of dejected at this point because I had not really won a game yet. I got a bye round 1 and lucky round 2, and I lost my only close set of day two. I was committed to getting a win here.

I won game 1 in a close game. Game 2 he led Kangaskhan Whimsicott, and I led Gengar Groudon. I would have ended this game extremely quickly, but our games disconnected. When the head judge came to look at what happened, and we reset our 3DS's, my opponent's indicated an error. However, since they could not determine that his 3DS was the cause of the disconnection in our previous game, they ruled it a double game loss and we had to play another game. He gained the information from the original game 2 and did not bring Kangaskhan Whimsicott again, and I lost.

Game 4 was extremely funny. He led Smeargle Salamence and I led Gengar Bronzong. I mega evolved and trapped both of them, and managed not only to burn the Salamence, but I also Skill Swapped away Aerialate, and then gave Aerialate to Smeargle while keeping Moody. I had a Moody Bronzong for like seven turns and won the late game with +4 Evasion Moody Bronzong and Kyogre.

(3-1) Round 5: Blake Hopper @BopperVGC [LL]

I really don't like playing Ray Don, and I especially don't like playing Cress Ray Don (a particularly hard matchup). Blake knew he had the matchup advantage, and I played too timidly. He got off side PuPs and just destroyed me in two quick games.

He then immediately tweeted it and tagged me. Dick.

(3-2) Round 6: Motochika Nabeshima [WW]

I was at two losses so I needed to win out to top cut Worlds. I was really happy to see a big B matchup and I did my best not to make similar mistakes like against Patrick.

I remember Groudon doing a lot of work, and I think either Substitute Zapdos or Chesto Smeargle catching him off guard, I'm not sure. Either way, it was a pretty confident 2-0 going into my last match.

(4-2) Round 7: Matthias Suchodulski @LegaVGC [LL]

These games were extremely frustrating. I know that I had won games earlier due to luck and I know it's obviously not Lega's fault for playing to his outs and getting them, but...he hit either Swagger or Thunder Wave with his lead Thundurus every turn both game 1 and 2 and I only used like, one move the entire set. It was extremely disappointing that my final opponent to go into Worlds top cut just pressed Swagger a lot (and did so in his next set as well), but it is what it is.

Final Placement: 25th.

Post-Worlds Reflection

In my first year competing in VGC, I managed to finished 12th Place at US Nationals and 25th Place at Worlds. Funnily enough, the only events I had top cut the entire year before Nationals were two small PCs. The core I ended up loving all season won Worlds, and the team I used at Nationals (Mega Gengar / Kyogre / Bronzong / Rayquaza / Electric / Fake Out mon) matched the Worlds winning team...except Wolfe's was just much better and basically took everything I did this season and did it better. I made a lot of friends, and I had a ton of fun. I haven't loved Pokemon this much at any point since I started playing the game.

I also grew a lot as a player this season. I learned a lot and I became a better teambuilder. I made a lot of mistakes, and figured out what I need to do to improve. I included so much emphasis on my development as a teambuilder and player this season and the channels that constituted that development because they all built on each other. Each team that I built and conversation that I had built on my previous development. A combination of the team I brought to my first VGC 16 regional (Mega Gengar Ray Ogre) and to my first Mid Season Showdown (Ray Ogre Bronzong) ended up combining to form my Nationals team. The experience I gained with Eruption Groudon on Primals, my penchant for Mega Gengar, and the weaknesses I discovered from my Nationals team formed my Worlds team. If I didn't do everything that I did this year, I would not have done as well as I did.

If I didn't do everything that I did this year, I wouldn't have fallen in love with VGC. I enjoy every part of it: the building, the battling, but most importantly, the friends. I made so many friends playing VGC this year, so so many, and 2016 was one of the best years of my life accordingly. Each live event was so much fun, and even time in between events were fun due to Skype and Twitter. Even though I have just started law school and don't have nearly as much time as I did last year, I still can't wait for SUMO and VGC 17.

I'm even leading VGC on Smogon, hoping to bring more Smogon players into the VGC scene like me, Nails, and Jibaku. We joined the scene on a whim after Worlds 15, and I'm so unbelievably happy that we made that decision. I'm looking forward to this competitive season, but I'm even more looking forward to seeing all of the amazing friends I have made.

I'm not going to do shout-outs. If you've interacted with me at all this year, you know how important you were to me. I made so many friends, online and in my local scene, that I know I will forget some in this section, and would rather not do that. To everyone whom have made this season great for me, thank you so much. I don't need to validate these relationships with a blurb in this thread; they can stand on their own and are really special to me.

Let me know if you want to help me with promoting VGC on Smogon. I have a lot of ideas but am always looking forward to hearing more. I hope to provide quality content and discussion and to bring more players into the VGC scene, so they can have as much fun as I did. Looking forward to a great year. I can't wait for Anaheim.

blara out


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Interesting choices all around and two HP Waters on your worlds team is impressive and the moveset for that Smeargle is indeed broken. Congrats on your success though!

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