Who let marco in here????
Hii friiendss! It’s me, Jibaku, and I could use a better team picture than my crappy drawing!
When Sun and Moon came out, I decided to postpone VGC for a while to take care of my other interests. Mostly Ubers related things, because I love them and we no longer have VGC 2016 for me to continue playing with them in an official setting. The results of San Jose, however, got me started earlier than I planned, also motivating me to play in Athens when I originally had no plans to. However, I had to learn the metagame in less than a month, which I thought was going to be quite challenging since a significant portion of my VGC experience is in 2016 and VGC17 is known to be almost an opposite of that.
So I decided that the first team to practice with in 2017 was Enosh’s SJ team. I don’t know if that was a bright idea or not because Enosh’s teams have a tendency of being difficult to pick up and I had 0 experience in 17. I certainly couldn’t properly run any of Enosh’s teams in 2016 (especially that XRay team because Red Card is a stupid item and should never see competitive use in the manner it was used in ‘16). However, I decided to go for it anyways, in part because I already had the team before he used it in SJ and gave it minor tweaks. To my pleasant surprise, I got a hang of the team really quickly (except the Araquanid part of it), and Tapu Fini immediately became one of my favorite Pokemon in the format. In some ways, it reminds me of certain aspects of VGC16 - a bulky water type with sweeping potential and a field effect that blocks Scalds and freezes. It even has an 85% accuracy spread Water move! It’s almost like it combined Groudon, Kyogre, and Xerneas into a single package, though probably 1250x less powerful. Didn’t matter, though. Fini had enough power for this meta.
The transition from VGC16 to 17 went surprisingly well overall. In ‘16 I primarily played teams with a stronger defensive backbone and more switch potential, and ‘17 allowed that aspect in playing to shine. Furthermore, I don’t feel as bad losing in this format as I did before. With that said, however, ‘17 does have a couple of shortcomings that weren’t so obvious to the eye, and I kept wondering for a while why I continue to miss VGC16 (I still do) despite enjoying the new format. Outside of missing my Uber toys, that is. Regardless, VGC17 definitely delivered a breath of fresh air, and I am really enjoying how games are played out.
Making a team has actually been more difficult than in VGC16. So many viable mons and strategies in such a limited teamspace makes it hard to find a good middleground. The team was created by Rajan close to the event and actually finalized during the car ride, but between breeding and training time (so glad I spent a lot of my pre-VGC time ranking up Festival Plaza), I had zero practice using the exact squad. Having motion sickness in the car ride to Athens also doesn’t help speed up the process. I’m going to spare you the details of that 10 hours of hell, but I will tell you that Jeudy liked it more than the 17 hours of hell he had to go through for Dallas. After getting used to Enosh’s old team, I began to mess around with AFK (Arcanine Fini Kartana) and some variants of Mandibuzz a bit (who do you think gave Nails that idea?). Tried similar teams to Markus’ London one, watched Rajan play some ridiculous hyper offense teams which have no business of working but they did. One of which involved Specs Xurkitree made a lot of things disappear. A lot is probably an understatement - Xurkitree also made its partners disappear with terrain boosted Discharges, getting to +5 at one point. As fun as that team was, it was far from stable and wouldn’t be suited for a BO3. However, there were a few concepts that we liked from that team - the most notable one being Nature Power with terrain manipulation to grant flexibility in a single moveslot. Xurkitree used Nature Power quite well, but it’s definitely not the only Pokemon that can make great use of it.
Tapu Koko @ Life Orb
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Volt Switch
- Hidden Power Fire
- Nature Power
“God Koko”, as Rajan affectionately called it. I just call it Meme Koko but it was certainly way more useful than what one would describe as a meme. Tapu Koko is my favorite Alolan Pokemon and I’m always hyped to use it. I firmly believe that Volt Switch is what makes Tapu Koko an incredibly threatening Pokemon. A fast, powerful Volt Switch allows Koko to exert immense pressure as a lead and immediately respond to disadvantageous positions, as well as allowing me to reset Intimidates and get better terrain control. Hidden Power Fire nukes AV Kartana and doesn’t really do anything else, but given Kartana’s dominance in the current meta, it was worth the slot. The rest of the team didn’t handle Kartana particularly well and having the outrun and OHKO option is also important for team flexibility. No, bringing Marowak to every game I see a Kartana is not an option. Nature Power is for STAB - Thunderbolt in Electric Terrain and Moonblast in Misty Terrain. The team lacked good ways to handle Tectonic Rage, so having the option to just explode both Krook and Garchomp on Koko is extremely useful. The downside of Nature Power is that, due to its function as Thunderbolt in Koko’s own terrain, it tends to get revealed early.
Koko was what the team started out with as a way to pressure AFK. We felt that Koko was also a strong meta call for Athens given the dominance of said core in the previous regional and the decline in Marowak usage. Most of Koko’s time in battle is spent clicking Volt Switch and being an uncatchable jerk. Having Volt Switch also really opens up targetting options because you can target the non-Electric weak and bounce out of there while they probably try to Protect or switch out their Electric weak Pokemon to something else, only to find out Koko is no longer on the field. HP Fire and “Moonblast” did their job one time each, but the passive pressure of Kart/Garchomp being OHKOed is always useful. This mon was really really good and was arguably the MVP of the team.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 140 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Ice Beam
- Trick Room
The reason why Tapu Koko was “arguably” the MVP. Porygon2 would like to contest that title. I think most people know what Porygon2 does as it is one of the best Pokemon in the format thanks to its relatively incomparable bulk, recovery, speed control, and decent offense. Scratch that last part. P2 applied way more offensive pressure than it had any rights to thanks to Return. Return P2 was something that was somewhat generally considered as a joke but realistically P2 gets Attack boosts very often. The recent upsurge in Misty Terrain (also opposing Fini helps P2 get an Attack boost) and the decline in Wisp Arcanine as a result made Return P2 even better. Most of the time, I found myself just smashing that Return button to deal massive damage...off uninvested Attack. It was very satisfying. Not as much as clicking PBlades and Eruption and clearing the whole field, but P2 doing a lot of damage is amusing. Otherwise, P2 acts as the team’s well-rounded tank, which I always enjoy having because this format really doesn’t have enough well rounded Pokemon. Other moves are standard. EV spread has a good shot at surviving Golduck Hydro Vortex + Pelipper Scald so I can Trick Room.
P2 in general is also one of my favorite Pokemon, both aesthetically and competitively, but I often forget it...
Rajan had Frustration on his Porygon2. What a heartless demon.
Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 84 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 164 SpD / 252 Spe
- Leaf Blade
- Night Slash
- Sacred Sword
- Smart Strike
Standard AV Kart. I highly prefer AV kart to Sash Kart because I like being able to switch in and not be bopped by weak special attacks. Kartana helped me destroy Waters and check Rain to some extent, as well as beating Tapu Koko outside of Electric Terrain (and sometimes, in). EVs allow it to survive Garchomp’s Tectonic Rage and the rest is thrown into special bulk because that’s the point of this set.
Kartana was important to the team’s function, but it wasn’t too great in this tournament. It was still good though. In the future, I’d like to explore more variants of Kartana because I believe that there are other sets that it can strongly pull off that doesn’t involve AV or Sash. Z move Kartana is worth exploring and is certainly not just meme material (sorry Ricardo but I have to disagree with you on this one). I also need to stop using Kartana as a crutch.
Tapu Fini @ Leftovers
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Def / 52 SpA / 92 SpD / 28 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Muddy Water
- Calm Mind
Enosh’s CM Fini. I actually don’t know what the spread does and I don’t think Rajan knows either. Fini is one of the best Pokemon in the metagame because it’s so well rounded and can be brought into many matchups, rarely playing the Rock Paper Scissors game that most other Pokemon in this format suffers from (shoutouts bearsfan). It patches a good amount of holes and can be a rather threatening wincon. Misty Terrain is incredibly useful not only as a status wall so my physical attackers can’t get burned / my walls can’t get Toxiced, but also to neutralize other terrains and also to provide Moonblast for Koko.
Tapu Fini wasn’t super hot in this tournament for me, but it certainly did its job being a nuisance and squeaking in a few wins thanks to Muddy Water accuracy drops (sry Blake). I didn’t press Calm Mind often, however, but it’s a great move still and I don’t know what kind of things I can actually replace it with. Personally I don't actually know which Fini set is superior between CM and Specs. However, with the success of Specs Fini at Dallas, I expected it to be double targetted more often. So I wanted a Fini set with Protect, and I wanted it to still be a wincon.
Still my favorite Pokemon in the format.
Marowak-Alola @ Thick Club
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 212 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 164 SpD / 68 Spe
- Flare Blitz
- Shadow Bone
- Perish Song
Kart Fini, and Marowak. Here we are, possessing FWG and Ghost/Steel/Fairy in 3 convenient slots. Marowak also stops Electrics, particularly Tapu Koko which we expected to be huge at Athens due to Dallas results. Vikavolt is also a rising threat as shown by Dallas, and the rest of the team doesn’t handle it too well, but Marowak makes things a lot less complicated. Although Arcanine is a much more generalist Fire-type Pokemon, Marowak’s strengths are more valuable as the team already has Porygon2 and Tapu Fini to cover the “general” aspect. With HP Fire Koko, the team also has less need of a hard Kartana counter. In the meantime, immunity to Normal (PorygonZ), and Fighting (Pheromosa), are heavily appreciated as the team isn’t very good at handling them if I had Arcanine. PZ in particular is a huge pain. Marowak does somewhat conflict with my own Tapu Koko, but that can be worked around as long as I’m not -too- sleepy.
EV spread is from Enosh again. Something about OHKOing Marowak and 2HKOing Garchomp with Shadow Bone and a ton of SpDef to survive...something. I believe it's Dazzling Gleam + Psychic in Psychic Terrain. Whatever it is, it’s along the lines of Timid Shattered Psyche from Lele outside of Terrain. Not that people actually use Timid Shattered Psyche Lele, though. But hey, if their nonScarf Lele outruns my Krook, this is an adjustment I can make, right?
If Enosh wants to release his team report he should probably be the one describing the spread tbh.
Marowak was definitely the most situational Pokemon on the team, but I don’t think it can be replaced by anything else. Marowak is also incredible aesthetically and is much more appealing than Arcanine in that regard.
Krookodile @ Groundium Z
EVs: 36 HP / 220 Atk / 44 Def / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
Z-move user, Muk counter, Intimidate, and can mess around with setup thanks to Taunt. Also helps slightly with the team’s rather poor Celesteela + Marowak matchup by at least nullifying Celesteela’s stalling threat while being able to OHKO Marowak with Tec Rage. Threatening Marowak from coming in also allows Koko to have an easier time against Celesteela. Near max Speed enables it to outrun Max Speed Timid Xurkitree + some speed creep. Bulk lets it take Kartana Leaf Blade at -1 (also helps that there are more less-invested Kartanas nowadays) in dire situations, which is nice because Sash Kartana wasn’t an easy matchup for the team. Koko/P2/Wak aren’t bad at keeping it down, but sometimes an extra oomph is needed.
Krook is brought quite often due to how useful Intimidate is. Krook and Marowak weren’t brought together as they were in a way similar (electric immune, phys attacker, ghost and dark STAB being similar). Thanks to Tapu Koko’s Volt Switch, Krookodile can shuffle Intimidates quite well, and can tank poison attacks directed at Koko. Switch out Krook -> Volt Switch -> switch Krook back in is fun ^^.
In short, this was basically Enosh’s team with Koko over Araquanid. I really liked the Koko because it gave the team better answers against Gyarados, Celesteela, and Kartana as well as granting it a fast mode. I really liked this team despite not using it much, because it was backed by a powerful core and was quite flexible. It’s also very aesthetically appealing, and several of my favorite non-Ubers are in here. It’s missing Garchomp, however.
THE TOURNAMENT RUN
Like I said before, I had zero practice with this exact squad. I was planning to use a different team for a while, but I was confident enough in my ability to play Enosh’s San Jose team (not his weird Smeargle Tree one) as well as follow Rajan’s meta calls so I ended up going this route. Koko added an important dynamic to the team that was easy and effective to use, and also made leading a bit easier.
Something I’ve been doing since worlds is setting a low tournament bar for myself, such as simply not going negative. During Nats I tried setting the bar to top 4, which added too much unnecessary pressure. Lowering the bar significantly helped me calm down and be more confident in myself, and I think I’ve generally gotten better results ever since. This was especially useful for this tournament, because I was pretty sick due to having only 3 hours of sleep + being extremely nervous. None of this was Jeremy’s, our driver’s, fault, however.
Vs Zack Winstead (WW)
Kartana was Vest, Lele wasn’t Scarfed, Arcanine had Firium Z and Flare Blitz I believe, and Clefairy had Dazzling Gleam and Follow Me. I don’t remember too much specifics in this matchups, but Koko’s Volt Switch and HP Fire ran circles around his team game 1, and Lele folded over to a predicted Tectonic Rage on the switch in. Game 2 was a bit more complicated and I tec raged into his Protecting Clefairy because I was dumb and didn’t attack the obvious threat instead, and almost lost as a result. Clef + Kartana is quite annoying tbh.
Also Nails faced Blake Hopper r1. What a way to start a tournament run huh?
Vs Blake "Bopper" Hopper (LWW)
Stream vod link: https://www.twitch.tv/pokemon_vgc_center/v/114739015
Much like Nats, I ended up facing Nails’s round 1 opponent. Except it’s Blake so it’s automatically a fearsome opponent. This meant that Nails got bopped round 1 and presumably I’m next. Did I mention that it was streamed too? Well it was so I’m well prepared to embarrass myself to thousands of viewers. On the other hand, though, this match is my very first streamed match ever, so I can check that off my goals ^_^.
I’m not going into deep details of the match, but in general I don’t think I played very well. The matchup was also not in my favor, as Nihilego and Celesteela/Wak are some of the team’s toughest enemies, and Scarf PZ is a nuke that I don't enjoy at all. I believed that Koko and Krook are the safest leads for this team. I considered Koko + P2 but Marowak runs that over and I don’t want to give Marowak free switch ins. With Krook out on the field, I can take advantage of his triple Ground weak and keep Marowak from freely coming in.
Game 1 Blake led Koko + Nihilego while I led Koko Krook. I Volt Switched w/ Koko to Kartana since I’d imagine that Krook is the threat here with 2 Ground weaks on the team and I didn’t think he was going to send in Marowak. I also thought that Blake would focus on attacking the Krook because it would threaten 3 mons on his team if he had Marowak in the back. So I Protected Krook on that turn as well but Blake aggressively predicts the Kartana volt switchin and dunks it with GUARDIAN OF ALOLA (say this in Toler’s voice I swear it’s amazing) and Life Orb Power Gem. Dead paper sword. The rest of the match kinda fell apart, and Blake revealed that his Celesteela set was Assault Vest with Flame Charge and Heavy Slam. He probably has Stone Edge too since it’s a physical attacking Celesteela.
For Games 2 and 3 I decided to go with the same plan because I did not expect Blake to go with the same plan again, since Krook is super threatening. Worked out well for Game 2, but Game 3 he led Gyarados Wak and I wasn’t sure how I wanted to approach this position. Getting burned by Flare Blitz kinda sucked and put me slightly on tilt. All I know from there is that Tapu Fini did Fini things with Muddy Water and I was able to claw my way out of the hole thanks to that. I think there are better approaches than this, but I haven’t bothered dissecting that game yet. Rajan did tell me to use CM more, though.
Vs. Matt "TheBagFam" Marcinelli (WW)
Specifics on this matchup isn’t something I remember, nor do I remember what I picked in each game. But we had some quality, long lasting matches. Threats to look out are Gyarados + Wak, Persian, and Goodra. I tried to ignore the Persian as much as I could since it’s basically just a support mon, but its Snarls were getting annoying. They also seemed to hurt which I thought was odd considering Persian’s base SpA is low. At one point I decided to just Return the Persian with P2 to chip it, only to watch it lose 50%+ of its HP with a +0 Return. So it wasn’t Fur Coat this whole time - it was Technician. This made things a lot easier, and Porygon2 Return spammed his whole team into oblivion pretty much. I think Gyarados also got 2HKOed by +1 Return, and I did what I could between Intimidates and Fini/Kartana to protect the Porygon2 so it can dominate the rest of the match.
Matt was a really nice guy, and the judges gave us a 10 point store credit because we were nice to each other when our games got stuck and had to restart. I never used that 10 point for anything, though.
Vs Joohwan "Sun Dude" Kim (WW)
All 3 games I brought
AKA “Sun Dude”, the namesake of this report. Scratch what I said about Blake being scary - this was the matchup I dreaded most because I’M FACING SUN DUDE. After playing against him often between late 2015 and throughout 2016, Sun Dude is quite possibly the most bizarre player I’ve ever fought against - and generally destroys me and ends my runs. I can’t ever tell if his plays are blindly aggressive or calculated, and if you ever tried to analyze his plays and his teams you’d probably just end up as confused. That’s not to say Sun Dude is a bad player of course - he’s certainly very talented but I’ve yet to see anyone that plays anything remotely like him. Surprisingly, he feared running into me too, despite his win record against me. The only consistent thing about him is that he’ll always have a Lilligant and a sun setter.
In Gen 6 he loved stacking his team with RNG elements which makes him extremely frustrating to play again. Between Teeter Dance (he also had Persim Ninetales in 2015), series of Rock Slides, blind hypnosis, Swagger spam, and IRON BALL ROCK SLIDE BLISSEY, coupled with his ability to fearlessly make the wildest reads, makes Sun Dude the single most unpredictable player in existence. Moving to Gen 7, some of the RNG elements of his team has been toned down by the mechanic changes and the addition of automatic terrains. But if there is one format where Lilligant is actually good, it’s this one. And nobody knows how to use Lilligant better than Sun Dude. Additionally, sun teams in this format tends to create 50/50s more than just about anything else, which is just perfect for him. Too perfect.
Being able to 2-0 Sun Dude was a work of miracle I think. My team wasn’t well equipped to deal with sun and especially not Joohwan sun, which has Nihilego, Bulldoze Torkoal, Scarf Bulu, and TECTONIC RAGE GYARADOS. Did I mention that he has Waterfall EQ Gyarados on a team with Sun and Grassy Terrain? Not that it matters to him, anyways, because he’s willing to use the craziest ideas to cover his weaknesses. That’s something I respect a lot from Joohwan because it opens up a lot of teambuilding possibilities. I also respect that this is a sun team that isn’t focused on Torkoal, unlike many others, and I think this is a great way to look at sun.
My saving grace in this match was that Joohwan played more passively than I expected him to. I made a lot of double switches on a single slot to pull myself out of a terrible position and he never punished it. Game 2 I was able to 2HKO his Gyarados with P2’s Return and pin down his attempted sun resets (I later forgot on the following day that his Torkoal had Heat Rock), allowing me to pull an unlikely victory after an entire year of losing to him. The last time I was able to beat Joohwan was January 10th, 2016, on a Groudon speedtie under Trick Room.
Vs Thomas McCready (WW)
At this point I was feeling good about myself. I beat Blake on stream and took down my archnemesis in the previous round. Thomas’s team looked fairly standard - Vikavolt is threatening because I don’t necessarily want to bring Marowak here. Krookodile is important bc of Muk and Intimidate is just helpful against what looked like a primarily physical team. Anyways, Koko was the most important member of this match as it heavily pressures everything except maybe Vikavolt, and Vikavolt doesn’t have the special bulk to take on repeated Special Attacks / he may be hesitant to bring it because I have Marowak. Leading Koko/Krook makes the most sense as it also covers the potential Scarfchomp.
Thanks to the ordering of abilities, Game 1 revealed that Arcanine outsped Krookodile. With Fini and Arc on the opposing field, I withdrew Krook and sent out P2, while Volt Switching the Arcanine to Tapu Fini as my Fini takes an Inferno Overdrive for a surprising amount of damage. Idk what his Fini did that turn - probably Protected or something. I don’t remember how the rest of the game went, but Koko cleaned up. He had Vikavolt in the back but I accidentally revealed Nature Power at the end. I think he revealed Burn Up on the Arcanine.
Game 2 he led Garchomp Celesteela while I led the same thing. Turn 1 I just went straight for my Fini switch and Nature Powered the Garchomp, erasing it from existence while Celesteela leech Seeded the Fini. I won this match by continually ignoring the Celesteela. Krookodile Taunted it and its -1 Heavy Slams weren’t scratching anything, while it refuses to switch out with a Substitute up. Koko returned lategame to wipe out the Celesteela.
Rajan came and informed us that he had to battle Case and was really sad.
Vs Wolfe Glick (WLL)
The world champion himself, as well as the Captain of my World Cup of VGC team. I wasn’t too unnerved about facing Wolfe because I played Blake and Sun Dude already, and Wolfe is not as aggressive as these two. Wolfe is a player who will play safely until he has to make a read, and he’ll do whatever in his power to make that read count and/or work. Or so I’ve heard from Gavin. This is my first time actually playing Wolfe ever. As we finished picking our teams, Wolfe’s DS was flashing red. I believe the policy for that was to continue playing and risk the DS dying, something I could have used to take a free win. But I don’t like that - I wanted to actually play Wolfe and as funny as it is to timerstall the timer god himself, this would really be a jerk move. So we moved to the charging table and continued on with our match.
Game 1 I led Koko/Krookodile while Wolfe leads Tapu Fini/Arcanine. Now before this match, I had received information that Wolfe’s Fini had Swagger, which means that he was up to side Swag strategies due to Misty Terrain. Looking at his team, I saw two, maybe three potential Swagger recipients, Muk Garchomp and potentially Arcanine. Wolfe Protects Fini and switches in Porygon2, while I read into the Protect and Volt Switch the Arc slot to bring in my own P2 while I swap Krook out for my own Fini. Now there are two Fini/P2s on the field with his being slightly dented while mine got +1 Attack and I thought I was in a pretty decent spot here. The only potential side Swag recipient that could come in somewhat safely here is Muk and I have Krookodile in the back, which means I can threaten both Fini and Muk with Tec rage if I slightly weaken Fini, while P2 staying in would mean I get off CMs on my Fini while I chunk +1 Returns on Wolfe’s Fini.
Turns out Wolfe’s Swagger recipient was Porygon2, and like mine it had Return which made me really happy inside. Except Swagger missed and our Finis both ate +1 Returns - mine taking slightly more. I wasn’t sure what to do in this situation so I tried to remove his P2 ASAP. Wolfe misses another Swagger on P2 and P2 eventually faints. I cleaned up with Krookodile.
Game 2, Wolfe switched up his leads, leading Arcanine/Lele which automatically made me think of PokeAlex. Because of the P2 threat from last game, I decided to bring Kartana over my P2 to put offensive pressure to Fini + P2. Lele was slower than my Koko as Psychic Terrain goes up, so I crossed Scarf off my list. I don’t remember what happened in this game but I was able to position Krook and Kartana into a really good position against Muk and a slightly dented Arcanine without being Intimidated, only to throw the game just as hard as Jon’s Skill Swap Lightningrod + Thunder at worlds. I Leaf Bladed + EQed the Muk and it survived, ruining everything as it got off a Curse. Game went downhill from there and Wolfe took Game 2. At this time, his Lele revealed that he was faster than my Krook, suggesting that it was Timid. Oh and Wolfe Knocked Off Kartana’s Assault Vest. I believe I should’ve ran before that happened.
Game 3 I got bodied. I led Kartana/Koko to adjust for Lele Arc. I switched in Fini to Moonblast the Lele with Koko as well as clearing the Psychic Terrain, while also blocking a potential Flamethrower. Life Orb Moonblast did less than 50% while Lele’s Moonblast OHKOed Koko with a crit. Apparently Wolfe doubled into that slot so it didn’t matter anyways. Regardless, things fell apart from there and I discovered that his Lele was actually Scarfed, yet is slower than Koko so it can win the terrain war. That’s one really weird way to manipulate information, but I respect it. Oh well, beating the world champ can wait another day.
On that note Wolfe kept asking me to place my DS on the table because we kept on having connection issues. Yet at the same time, I’m instinctively not doing that bc of the cables on that table (by my own charger, basically) and also because I’m playing on a 2DS which makes it easier to screenpeek against (cables made it awkward for me to cup the front of my 2DS). Not that Wolfe is the type to screenpeek but I don’t care who I’m facing. Anyways, apologies for the inconvenience.
Vs Dexter Phan (WLW)
Dexter is really nice. This was also his first regional and he’s already 5-1. Aerodactyl scared me in team preview, and his team looked pretty offensive in general. I led Koko P2 and put Krookodile Fini in the back. I think he led Garchomp Mismagius. I Protected Koko and Ice Beamed the Garchomp to scout for potential Scarf. I forgot what happened that turn but t2 I switched P2 out, Volt Switched the Mismagius and sent P2 back in to absorb the Never Ending Nightmare, screwing over his momentum. His Koko’s damage output revealed that he was Specs. I won Game 1 without too much of a hassle
My memory for Game 2 is really fuzzy. All I know is that his Kartana gave a lot of issues because I think my Koko fainted early or something. I really don’t remember much of this game.
Game 3 I was able to catch his Garchomp on the switch in with Ice Beam at one point which sealed the game. I don’t know why my memory of these games are so fuzzy. These were relatively short matches and I should be able to remember them, but I don’t.
Vs Dylan Salvanera (LWW)
Yeah I forgot to take note of his whole team. Oops. Anyways Dylan Salvanera is a familiar sounding name. He later told me that he top cutted Dallas or something. I’m also almost certain we follow each other on Twitter, but I didn’t ask. His team looked like a standard AFK team and I knew what to do against that.
Game 1 I was too greedy and HP Fired his Sash Kartana while Koko got bopped by Z-Flare Blitz. I needed Koko to apply sustained pressure on his team and w/o that I just lost the game
Game 2 I mispredicted somewhere but got bailed out by Kartana winning a speed tie
Game 3 I just uhh...won. I think Koko did things...or something.
It was getting late and I’m hungry. I suppressed my hunger but instead it made me not remember much. Also for crying out loud man I shouldn’t have to keep asking you to move your DS closer to the middle of the table, especially with me playing on a 2DS.
At this point I’m feeling pretty good about myself because I’m probably cutting even if I lose my next match. My only loss has been to Wolfe, who is undefeated, and the rest of my wins have been against players with relatively solid records.
Vs Edward "Min" Glover (WLW)
Ed’s a local that I’ve somehow never battled despite being in the same events quite often. Therefore, it’s quite fitting that we’d end up battling to determine cut in this tournament! (later results indicate that both of us would’ve cut anyways regardless of the outcome of this match). I don’t actually remember the details of this match because there are so many switches, so I’m just going to share my thoughts coming into this match instead.
Looking into team preview, I see the AFK core and Garchomp, four things that my Koko prey on. Vikavolt is quite annoying, but luckily he only has Garchomp and Fini to actually threaten my Marowak so I can safely bring it to keep the rotom-bug down. Marowak under Trick Room is something that his team doesn’t handle too well, especially when paired with P2 to take down Garchomp. Thus my gameplan revolves around early offensive pressure with Koko to a Marowak sweep under Trick Room, while bringing Tapu Fini to tank hits from his opposing Fini and Arcanine. If I can find ways to weaken his Fini, the game is in my hands.
I think Ed played the matchup well overall, being able to predict my Marowak’s attacks to get Fini in unscathed, and looked to position Fini next to Vikavolt so Marowak can’t have a field day. The set was quite close, though I think I got a bit luckier (I OHKOed his Arcanine game 1 turn 1 with a crit Volt Switch). Interestingly, I don’t recall Ed ever bringing Kartana. Perhaps he noticed that I have HP Fire on Koko based off my streamed match or if he got notes from other people. Ed also never fell for any of my Moonblast Koko antics and played it safe for the most part, so props for that. These were certainly some of the most “Pokemon-like” games I’ve had in this whole tournament, and I’m sorry that I can’t remember them. But that also meant that there were a lot of switching involved and we were just constantly trying to outmaneuver the other.
Results came out, and I had to play Ed again for top 16. It’s almost midnight by the time we got out, and when we got to the hotel I chose to sleep instead of actually prepping this matchup. I believe that, based off the games we played, there wasn’t really anything to prepare for. It was just a game of Pokemon and I just have to do it better (or be luckier). Also I was pretty much out of steam at this point. Rajan also had to play his R9 opponent again, whom he got dumpstered by bc the team isn’t great at handling Pheromosa + Golem-A or something idk. Sorry I couldn’t help you out here, but I was really sleepy. Also for some reason I wanted to shower at 3 AM.
We came at the venue at 8:30, met up with people. Nothing really interesting here - I tried to sleep during the player meeting.
Vs Ed Glover (LWW)
Just refer to my previous section for this match. The games obviously didn’t pan out exactly like before, but it was still a game of Pokemon. I brought the same 4 mons I used yesterday against him, in the same orders (except Game 3, where I led Koko + Wak instead of Koko + P2), because I felt that it was still the safest thing I can do against him. Game 1 I froze his Arcanine with P2, but a timeout costed my Porygon2 against a Tectonic Rage when I had planned on switching that out, losing me the game as Marowak was positioned terribly as a result. Game 2 I froze his Vikavolt and won. I do have Game 3 saved but I’m too lazy to warstory that.
Vs Louis "Uncle Lou" Milich (LWW)
Coming into Top 8, I got information that Louis is running Tentacruel. Now Tentacruel is a Pokemon that I was quite scared to play against. It outruns my Krook, beats Fini, isn’t weak to Leaf Blade and its 2 move coverage in general is problematic (whereas Nihilego takes 3 and gets OHKOed by Kartana). On top of that, he’s running Marowak to protect his Tentacruel from my Tapu Koko. In the downtime between sets, and while watching Rajan get Twinkle Tackled into oblivion by Paul Chua, I could not come up with a good gameplan against this. Especially since I was informed that his Tentacruel has Hydro Pump which would OHKO my Krook (it doesn’t have Hydro). I came into this set with the only plan I know - smashing Return with Porygon2. Oh and this set was streamed! Check it out!
Game 1 I got bodied. I forgot the Snorlax mode of this team and Snorlax spiraled out of control with Curses and Aurora Veil. That was pretty much the gist of it. I led Fini and Porygon2 expecting some Tentacruel Arcanine lead or something and from there I was looking to shuffle around Tentacruel’s STABs while I whittle it down with Return and then bring Fini back in for a sweep. Instead, Lou just went straight for the wincon and I couldn’t do much about it. Since his Snorlax took very little damage from Sacred Sword, I deduced that it was built to be physically defensive.
Game 2 I adjusted by bringing Tapu Koko in for a powerful special attacking force to threaten the Snorlax. I expected Lou to be comfortable with his Game 1 plan and keep Marowak on the bench. On turn 1 I Volt Switched w/ Koko on his Snorlax to Kartana, chunking about 40% of its HP, but Lou retaliates with Blizzard + High Horsepower, leaving Kartana badly injured (but still alive, which is very important), while Return chunks the Ninetales. My position at this point wasn’t great, but at this point I quickly thought that Arcanine would come in here as it is a rather safe switch, and I don’t think Lou would risk the Speed tie. I made the risky double switch back into Koko and fist pumped as Arcanine switched in place of Ninetales while Snorlax attacked the P2 instead of the Kartana slot. Porygon2 Returned the Arcanine for a solid 35%ish damage.
My position is a lot better now, with Koko threatening a knockout onto Arcanine or more heavy damage onto Snorlax. With Arcanine in KO range for Koko, I expected Lou to play more passively with it, since I still have Kartana alive, so I Volt Switched the Snorlax to chunk it some more while I withdrew Porygon2 in hopes to reposition it so it can get a +1 Attack again while Intimidating both physical attackers with Krook. Lou decided to throw a huge Z-Flare Blitz onto Krook and puts it into a critical range, but Porygon2 came in relatively safely and took almost nothing from the High Horsepower from Snorlax. At this point, after the small chips of Hail damage, everything has been chunked into Koko’s KO range, so now it’s a matter of me playing Koko as safely as possible to win it out.
I took this opportunity to try and Recover with P2, using Krook’s threatening presence to draw out an attack. Arcanine reveals Extreme Speed, but that’s fine. Lou brings in Tentacruel and tries to use this opportunity to set up a Substitute. He succeeds as I KO the Arcanine with a +1 crit Return. Whether the crit mattered or not I am not certain. However, an unboosted Return did ~35%, as mentioned before. Arcanine was also under half health from all the hail damage it took, so Return would most likely pick up the KO at that range anyways.
I played the rest of the match as safely as I can, Protecting Koko to buy P2 more time to whack things with Return and then Volt Switching the Tentacruel to break its Substitute. Lou correctly predicts the Kartana switch in and KOes it with Scald, but without a Substitute up, Tentacruel is now vulnerable to Koko. Everything is, actually. Lou’s board position at this time is now severely disadvantageous as I have 2 attackers out and they both outrun and can KO his Pokemon. A few clicks later and his failed double protect and I’ve won this game, with Porygon2 taking the Blizzard and in return, knocking out the Ninetales, with Return…
Thanks for that commentary btw I had a good chuckle.
Given how much work Koko did Game 2, I expected Marowak to be adjusted into Lou’s gameplan. He seems to be content with the Snorlax strats, and Tentacruel was necessary to keep Fini down. Naturally, then, I expected him to remove Arcanine for Marowak, which makes things a bit easier for my Kartana. I chose to lead Kartana/P2 to counter his Snorlax/Ninetales lead. However, at this point I realized that Marowak (or Arcanine) could easily come into this and be a problem. I highly debated immediately switching out P2 to Fini to catch the Marowak switch, but it was a huge risk to allow Snorlax to freely get a Curse in, despite having Kartana to Sacred Sword through it. So I doubled into the Ninetales, praying that it won’t Protect or switch out. Lou executes his Aurora Veil + Curse plan while I took out the Ninetales with Smart Strike + Return.
So Snorlax is a bit scary. Lou sends in...Tentacruel? I was a little confused by this, since a Fire type would position quite well here and Tentacruel loses to both Kartana and P2. He’s also wasting his Aurora Veil turns. Regardless, he repositioned Marowak in, and now I’m scared. Identifying that Kartana is a threat to his team, and the fact that I revealed Assault Vest in the previous round, I made a double switch to Fini and Krook on the Kartana and P2 slots, respectively. It was a risky switch, but it worked out as Krook came in unscathed, positioned strongly against Marowak and weakening Snorlax with Intimidate. However, Fini got KOed by the combined crit Return and Flare Blitz, leaving behind only a Misty Terrain. I bring Kartana back in, now that I am poised to threaten his Marowak so I can start breaking Snorlax down with repeated Sacred Swords.
I correctly call Marowak not protecting, Tec Raging it into smithereens and removing his Kartana counter. At this point, I no longer have to think, except maybe to predict a double protect attempt. Krook eventually goes down to Return and Scald. P2 comes in and gets a Special Attack boost, but Return still heavily dents Tentacruel and I finish Snorlax off with Sacred Sword as its double Protect fails, while Kartana finally falls to Tentacruel after being able to withstand a few hits thanks to Assault Vest. Tentacruel finally reveals Poisonium Z, but it does 40% to P2 while a Return seals the game.
Vs Joohwan Kim (LWL)
I knew winning vs Joohwan yesterday wasn’t meant to be. So fate decrees it then, that I should face down Sun Dude to get into the finals. Gavin and Rajan decided to spend all the time that’s left preparing for this matchup, but given Sun Dude’s erratic playstyle and strange team, this wasn’t something we could settle on. I abandoned the strat I used against Joohwan in Swiss because it wasn’t anywhere close to reliable and I don’t think he played to the best of his abilities then. I need to play more aggressively and not rely on double switches too much as he can read into those if he’s good. Sun Dude’s plays may be wild and hard to understand, but he’s not stupid. Gavin and Rajan decided that I should lead Koko Marowak and attempt to get rid of the Lilligant as soon as possible. Nothing else on the team is as threatening, and Lilligant’s Speed, power, and ability to sleep something combined with double terrain means that he’s got a lot of ways to put me into awkward positions. We made a dangerous assumption that his Lilligant is uninvested, but this was based off the fact that my P2’s unboosted Ice Beam chunked it really hard in Swiss. Koko HP Fire in Sun is a 75% roll to OHKO iirc, so the plan is to double target Lilligant and then adjust from there in future games.
It’s hard to pin down my thoughts on my move choices against Joohwan, so i suggest watching the stream vods and try to make sense of it. In Game 1, Joohwan led Gyarados Nihilego and I led Koko Marowak. This position looked really good for me, as I can send in Kart or P2 and click Volt Switch. Now this is where my memory gets foggy - did Gyarados have Protect? I think it used Taunt on me during Swiss but I didn’t note that. But whatever it was, it cost me heavily, as I Volt Switched on Nihilego to safety while Gyarados boldly Dragon Danced in front of what was my Koko slot. Game sort of went downhill from there. I didn’t have much to tank a DDed TECTONIC RAGE Gyarados and it survived 2 +1 Returns, something which I should’ve honestly calced because it 2HKOed his Gyara in Swiss.
Game 2: I led the same, he led Torkoal/Lilligant Sleep Powder missed vs Marowak and I knocked out the Lilligant. Game was kind of over from there
Game 3: This was a matter of “do I go for the same play or not?” Joohwan surely knows that I want Lilligant dead, but he also knew that Sleep Powder missed last game and his Lilligant survived the LO HP Fire. He could Protect and easily ruin my day. But this was no time to think of other plans, because all you can do vs him is hit a button and pray. I doubled into Lilligant, he Protected, Torkoal bopped Koko with Overheat, and my Regional run ends there.
I was gonna write a lot about VGC16 in here, but I’m not gonna. All I hope to show from this is that I can at least play Pokemon.
Thank you to a bunch of people who I met this weekend and for giving me a great time. I’m not going to list names, but if you talked to me, you can consider yourself part of the invisible shoutouts list.
Thank you to members of the Super Sitrus Circlejerk / Gengar Fini Illuminati. You know who you are.
And most importantly, thank you to Jeremy Gross for making this all possible. I know that weekend just did not work out for you, but if you need something let me know. Hope you feel better!
And lastly, thanks to Rajan for the team. I swear your teams give me heart attacks since they’ve left me without practice twice already. But somehow, they just work.