VGC 2019 Season Report

Mint16

epic gaming
is a Tiering Contributor
Introduction:

Hello gaming, it is I, Kyle Livinghouse. I go by Mint16 here on Smogon and AnimusVGC on twitter. I’ve been playing competitive doubles since 2015, whether it be DOU or VGC. In my first real season playing VGC this past year, I’ve somehow amassed 1246 CP, which ranked me 8th in North America. While you only need 400 CP to qualify for worlds, the top players in each region get a bye into day 2. Fortunately, I was able to snag this 8th NA slot for the bye in my first year playing in worlds at all.

With the rest of the summer to prepare for worlds, I have quite a lot of time to reflect on my season. Going into this all, my goal was simple: get a worlds invite. Even though I didn't make it last year, I won 750$ with my top 16 finish at US internationals the previous summer, so I had a bit of money to spend on travel for the upcoming season. When the regionals schedule for this past season was released, I planned to drive to quite a few of the east coast regionals. Most notably, Oaks, Pennsylvania was the first of the season in early fall. It was also only an hour drive away for me, and was the perfect way to set my season up.

Regionals:

September 15-16th - Oaks Pennsylvania (6-2 Top 8)


(click the sprites for the pastes) I usually become frantic when the week before a regional approaches me, so this was built by my good friend Carson St. Denis. Ho-oh was a great call to wall the XernDon teams I had anticipated coming to this event. Between Pressure, Toxic, Recover, and my pivots in Incineroar and Tapu Koko, I could often weaken the opposition to a point where Xerneas could easily win. Most opponents weren't ready at all for toxic, as usually, Ho-oh will support a team with Tailwind or with its raw Brave Bird damage output. However, many of my opponents had literally nothing to hit Ho-oh since it was the first regional of the year and it wasn't all that common. Between Ludicolo, Smeargle, and Xerneas, I felt I was fine vs most rain teams too. The rest of the pieces fell together. I go into much more detail on a post I wrote for vgcstats: https://articles.vgcstats.com/posts/under-pressure/

I started 6-0 including a win on stream vs Human who I later got a picture with, and while I lost the next two close rounds, I ended up being the only 6-2 to make the top 8 bracket. Unfortunately for me, I played number 1 seeded Spurrific in top 8 the next day, and he ended up winning the entire tournament, so my run ended at top 8. However, given this was my first regional top 8 ever I was thrilled with my progress towards an invite. It also won me 250$ which was pretty sweet given I barely spent anything to get there.
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November 24-25th - Roanoke Virginia (6-1 Top 4*)

This team I worked extensively with AuraRayquaza as he built the team. I thought of the team as a joke for a while until I had no team for regionals. I then realized that I might as well use this team as I had so much practice with it. The hyper offensive nature of the team was hard to adjust to when transitioning from the ladder to an in real life event, but it worked out. Salazzle and Talonflame offered so much support to this team, as Fake Out, Tailwind, Quick Guard, and ways to beat grass and steel types were readily packed into just two slots. Kartana was the steel type of choice that checked Xerneas and Kyogre, and After You Clefairy was supposed to beat Trick Room while giving an option of redirection. Friend Guard never hurts either for a frail team.

The tournament starts off great, I clutch out 5 straight games to begin until Justin Burns swoops in to body me yet again in round 6. However I come away with the win in the final round, and with a 6-1 record I'm back in top cut for back to back regionals! In top cut, I faced a friend in Joseph. Little did we know how close we would eventually get. He ends up beating me after forfeiting turn 2 of game 1, so that was pretty embarrassing. He would later be disqualified though, and so I technically moved up to 4th for a bit more CP.



December 15-16th - Anaheim California (5-3 34th)

With the prize money I had gained, I decided I would go to Anaheim to chase a Travel Award to Berlin that I really wanted, so I was off to California for the first time ever. The pressure was on for that and given finals finished up the day before my flight left, I did not prep as well as I would have liked to. Nonetheless, I felt pretty confident with another offensive team. Scarf Kyogre next to Tsareena was always threatening, and I thought at the end of Sun Series that some might forget about its potency. Gengar also gave the team an offensive option vs Xernala teams and trick room users.

I started this tournament terribly at 0-2. I got pretty unlucky, I played some tricky matchups, but above all else, I wasn't in the right mindset. I was much too focused on the travel award that I would eventually miss. However, I rebounded to a 5-2 record only to lose the last round due to my 3ds having connection issues. I hoped I would maybe snag top 32 points, but I bubbled out at 34th and walked home with nothing. It was a moment that both frustrated and humbled me. Everyone has bad tournaments and I was going to try my best to learn from this.



January 19-20th - Dallas Texas (5-3 41st)

This team was loads of fun, shoutouts to Joseph for letting me steal it the night before. Xerneas and Lunala are such an offensive yet bulky duo, and with options like double intimidate and redirection in Amoonguss, it was a tough duo to slow down. Tapu Lele also caused mind games thanks to its terrain, so the opponent was never safe to click Fake out.

Again, I wasn't in the right mindset. I booked flights for Anaheim and Dallas at the same time, and the only way I would have gotten the travel award was doing well at both, so I honestly did not even want to go by the time the weekend approached. I was also struggling in some other areas in life and forcing pokemon at those kinda times are the worst things you can do. I finished 5-3 yet again with a tough loss in the final round to Tommy.

March 16-17th - Greensboro North Carolina (6-1 Top 8)

After a long break, I decided on a whim to drive down to North Carolina as I didn't realize it fell on the same weekend as my spring break. Along with Joseph, we recreated XL with a lot of really fun techs, namely the 3 roar users on the team. This team became known as the triple roar one, and it was hype as fuck to use. Whenever a Xerneas on the opposing side would try to Geomancy, we would almost always have a Roar user to counteract it on our side. Along with Sky Drop Koko, Occa Amoonguss, and Triple support move Lunala, this was the most fun team I've ever used at a regional.

The tournament started off smoothly with a 4-0 start, and while I dropped the next round to Brian Youm, I won the last two to clinch a top 8 spot. Joseph started 6-0 so he was also in. And while we were thankful to be on opposite sides of the bracket, we both lost right away in Top 8. I lost again to the eventual winner and he lost to Ashton Cox, the #1 NA ranked player, so while it was tough to accept top 8 yet again we were proud of taking it so far. I also shot up to 396 of the 400 CP I needed to qualify for worlds, so the very next weekend I got it at a local.



The Day 2 Decision

After finally achieving my dream of qualifying for worlds, I wasn't satisfied at all. I lost 3 Top 8 sets, and while top cutting 3 regionals is a feat I'm still proud of, I wanted more. At 446 CP with only a third of the season left meant that a day 2 invite was unlikely but not impossible, so I decided I might as well shoot my shot. I was over 200 points behind 8th in CP at the time, and I was ranked 21st in NA. I told my friends I was going to Daytona for travel award reasons, and I made excuses to plan a trip to all 4 of the regionals left. I wanted to prove to everyone in Ultra Series that I was a serious threat.

April 20-21st - Daytona Beach Florida (5-2 9th)

I originally went into this event with a Mega Lopunny XL team, but that team was nuts and couldn't beat XernDon. At 2am the morning of the tournament I'm having a team crisis, and I only decided on a team the morning of the event after getting some sleep. I have to thank Jospeh Ugarte for the inspiration as it is basically his team with better sets. 3 attack Life Orb Yveltal was explosive next to the support of double intimidate and Shadow Tag. Sub Taunt Gengar was loads of fun, as it could easily take over board states. Tapu Fini was the Kyogre match up, and patched up my sleep weakness with its terrain, but it was rarely brought.

The event started pretty badly, with a loss on stream to James Evans. However, I win my next 5 in a row only to lose the last one. I barely missed top 8 with a 9th place in the final standings, and I'm forced to accept the top 16 result. Given I never used this team in my life before the event I wasn't too mad about the result, and I knew I could only get better from here.



May 4-5th - Hartford Connecticut (6-1 Runner Up)

I was very excited about this team going into the event. Joseph had built it for me, and essentially it was the European Internationals winning team with Tapu Lele over Tapu Fini. It had more aggressive sets like Life Orb Rayquaza and max speed sash Amoonguss, all of which were so fun in tandem. Sub Nihilego was also really neat in best of 3 as they try to scout which Z move you have.

The tournament started off fine at 2-1, and then I won out to a 6-1 record. That night I made sure I wouldn't lose my 4th top 8 match of the season by prepping for hours with Jeremy Gross. I won the first top 8 match of my life and then managed to also win my top 4 match. While I lost in the finals vs Tman, I had a really good time and put myself in a manageable position for day 2. I also won 1000$ which really helpd my bank account for the upcoming flights I needed to purchase.

May 18-19th - Santa Clara California (4-3 24th)

Back at Berlin for EU Internationals, there was a very similar team to this one that caught my attention. Thanks to my good friend Calvin Foster, he connected me to the original creator of the team (but with a smeargle>mawile) and we theorized out how to improve the team. He also taught me everything I needed to know when I first picked it up, as it played much differently than most teams in the format. Essentially you always lead Mega + Tornadus with Xerneas and Groudon in the back and thrive on the free switch in the potential of your restricteds. Special Groudon never misses blades and its beautiful. Mawile and Kommo-o are tech mons for match ups like RayOgre and Xray

The tournament started pretty well with a 4-1 start, but I ended up losing my last 2 games to really good opponents. If I had won either one, I would have been the 5-2 in top 8 given my resistance was so high, but I blew it. I easily snatched up the top 32 points to keep up my CP count.

June 1-2nd - Madison Wisconsin (5-2 9th)

Not much of an explanation needed here? I wanted to use the same team as I wanted to do the team justice by reaching top 8 with it, however I fell just short of my goal at 9th yet again. I'm mostly just glad I got to play here as my flight was canceled and rebooking was a nightmare. Notable that my 2 losses were the finalists of the entire thing? Either way I was able to accept the result.


US Internationals:

Two weekends out from nats, the last weekend of the year, and it wasn't looking too pretty. I decided I had to fill up my locals BFL, and so I headed to Columbus a weekend early for the Origins game fair. Here there were plenty of locals to eventually boost my CP count to 996 heading into nats itself.
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June 21-23rd - Columbus Ohio

I ended up playing the same exact team with a minor change: Mawile was made to be faster than base 130s instead of 115s in tailwind. I was very comfortable and confident with these 6 and I decided to just roll with it.

It was the best choice I could have made to stick with the comfort pick. While I started 2-2, I won my next 9 straight to eventually end up 11-3. While I lost in top 8, it is my biggest achievement yet and I hope to carry the momentum into worlds. Had I finished top 16 at this event I would've barely missed the 8th slot and my day 2 dreams would have been squashed. However, I did it and I couldn't be more proud to clutch it out at the very end.

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Nothing else left to do except my best to rep Smogon and the USA in my run at Worlds! and of course some shoutouts!

Everyone in c9, you guys are my family. I wouldn't be anywhere without you. Big thanks especially to:

Joseph
Nate
Kareem
Zain
Matt
Toby
Aaron

Also to my fellow smogon users:
AuraRayquaza for the teams and being a great friend
EmbCPT for the love and support as always <3
z0mOG for drafting me in SPL and giving me a chance
emforbes just wanna annoy u
Finchinator spl gang + support
Void spl gang + support
MajorBowman for that one time you scooped to me at Dallas, despite it not mattering
Level 51 for being my biggest fan

and everyone in the DOU community for putting up with my epic gaming :>
 

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