Tuesday, January 14, 2014

THE Comeback Begins - A Virginia 1st Place Report

I had a hectic week leading up to Regionals, as I was in Dallas for a Job Interview on Wednesday and Thursday, so I didn't have a whole lot of practice time. Luckily I hired a personal trainer, Aaron Zheng, to help keep me motivated to play Pokemon, because otherwise I probably would have just used Torkoal again. After finishing my team at 7 am Saturday without sleeping because it took forever to get a 6x 31 IV Tyranitar, I take a nap for a few hours until it's time to catch a ride with the pookCAR and head off to Virginia. We meet in a McDonald's and get some food while we're there. The cashiers must have known the Pokemon CHAMP was there because they just brought my food directly to my table.

THE pookar.

Trista making some weird face and Dan join me in the backseat.

Simon Yop is busy training hard riding shotgun.

The traffic is pretty bad, but we finally arrive and get some dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Cracker Barrel. We have a group of like 18, so we split up into multiple tables. I get the pleasure of sitting next to one of my best buds, Aaron Zheng. Unfortunately while waiting to order he makes up lies about me and texts his hunny that I think she's fukin crazy when I said she was fukin cool. We talk about powerful strategies involving the iceberg table and the tree, and finally it's time to order dinner. I made sure to order gravy on everything I ordered, while Babbytron ordered gritts. We all got a good taste of southern cooking and decided we needed some exercise to work off all the food we ate. We ended up at a Laser Tag place in the middle of absolutely nowhere. We signed up and decided on captains to pick teams. I was lucky enough to be named the captain of Team Aqua, while Wer was named captain of Team Flare. I made some clutch picks, including Wolfe and Aaron, as well as "that guy who looks like he might be good at this game". They finished 1st and 2nd place respectively, while I finished a solid 5th.


Of course the most important result is that Team Aqua was victorious!!! But also who the hell knew you could detach the gun from the vest!?!? Apparently everyone else rofl... 

It's around midnight so we head back to the hotel and try and get some sleep. Unfortunately I was only able to sleep about 3 hours because the pillows sucked, Dan kept stealing the blanket, and I was hungry. But it's ok! I'm stopping at nothing this year. Not even lack of sleep is gonna stop me. When everyone else wakes up we shower and get ready, get some of the free breakfast in the lobby, and drive off to wherever in the middle of nowhere this tournament was. 

The registration line is huge, but luckily pookar and I were smart and pre-registered. We registered in like 5 minutes and started to meet some old faces as well as new ones.


Aaron and Hannah.

I also got to see my good pal, and fellow gravy expert, Evan Latt. Don't forget to follow him on twitter @NBplaid if you are also an avid gravy fan! Anyway, onto the team I used! I had done all of my testing with either Charizard-Y, Kangaskhan, and Mawile, so I knew I wanted one of those as my mega. However, not having Pokemon Bank really ended up messing with me. I had 3 other teams that I had done extremely well with on Showdown in testing, but there was no way I could get them in time without having Pokemon Bank to transfer over parents to breed with. Without revealing a whole lot in case Pokemon Bank miraculously gets released in the next few weeks and I end up going to another regional, I had some obscure Hidden Powers on Pokemon who no one used that Hidden Power on, and some Pokemon with 6x 31 IVs that no one was breeding as mixed Pokemon. I just didn't have enough time to get those teams in time, and I figured they may be a little too anti-metagame at this point in the year. This was the very first real X/Y tournament, so I wanted to be more conservative when it came to teambuilding and not take too many risks trying to anti-metagame. But at the same time I wanted to make sure I handled some of the most common Pokemon really well. Physical Attackers and especially those with contact attacks were some of the biggest threats and most likely to be used at regionals I had figured, so I wanted to make sure I was well prepared for them. There are also certain Pokemon and themes that I really like and end up using a lot no matter what the rules are, including Double Dragon with some steels/Tyranitar supporting them and their weaknesses! That's how I came up with this team, which I affectionately refer to as THE BIG 6, because of course there are only 6 viable Pokemon in the entire game!!!

Salamence @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
Timid Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Fire Blast
- Hydro Pump
- Dragon Pulse

Pretty standard Scarf Salamence. One half of the Double Dragon and Double Intimidate. The only thing that may be different is the Timid nature and lack of Rock Slide. I wanted Timid because Scarf Salamence is really popular and I wanted to at worst be in a speed tie. I couldn't get a 6x 31 IV one for Rock Slide in time without good parents, and since it doesn't even OHKO Talonflame unless I go for a minus defensive nature which I didn't want to do, I just didn't care. I never even needed to use Hydro Pump in the actual tournament, nor did I ever need Rock Slide, so that slot was a waste anyway. 

Tyranitar @ Life Orb
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
Timid Nature
- Rock Slide
- Dark Pulse
- Fire Blast
- Protect

Because I didn't have Pokemon Bank, It took me forever to breed it so I could have 6x 31 IVs in order to successfully go mixed but I managed to get it in time. I used Timid because I know a lot of people use Specs Rotom-W with 114 Speed to outspeed max speed Modest Tyranitars, but really I should have figured despite its popularity in the rest of the world, almost no Americans would use that and instead I should have used Modest. Modest Tyranitar with LO gets the OHKO on 252 HP/4 SpDef Mawile 75% of the time, which is pretty useful. I went with Timid instead of a minus defensive nature because I like the bulk on Tyranitar (which is a little contradictory considering Life Orb and no EV investment in HP or Defenses, but he's so naturally bulky especially in sand) and ended up surviving attacks a lot during testing with under 10% HP. Rock Slide also doesn't need a neutral nature in order to get the OHKOs and 2HKOs it needs to. Dark Pulse was for special STAB whenever I was burned or Intimidated, and Fire Blast was for steels which walled my Double Dragons(well kind of, I have Fire Blast on Mence and EQ on Chomp)/Mawile/Ferrothorn. I decided to forgo Ice Beam because I felt that I had Dragons covered fine with my other Pokemon, and Rock Slide still lets me handle Salamence easily though it's not a OHKO.

Garchomp @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
Jolly Nature
- Earthquake
- Dragon Claw
- Rock Slide
- Protect

Rocky Helmet is so cheesy with Rough Skin but it's actually pretty solid. It's another part of the team that helps control physical attackers (ones that make contact). It along with Salamence also really help to handle fire types (especially Charizard-Y, the most dangerous of them) which are a threat to Mawile/Ferrothorn. There's nothing else to really say about the Garchomp, it's really standard, but it just fit so well with the rest of the team.

Mawile @ Mawilite
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Atk / 4 Def / 180 SDef / 20 Spd
Careful Nature
- Play Rough
- Iron Head
- Sucker Punch
- Protect

Mawile is definitely one of the best Mega Pokemon, and for a lot of reasons. In its regular form, despite the extremely low base stats, it can offer Intimidate Support before Megaevolving. Steel/Fairy typing lets it switch in on so much, and it works especially well switching into Garchomp/Salamence's weaknesses. Careful Nature with all that bulk will surely come as a surprise to a lot of people, but I felt that maxing its attack really didn't accomplish much. It's one of the perfect examples in Pokemon of Diminishing Returns. It has such an obnoxious attack stat with Huge Power, investing in it to the maximum is likely to be just a waste of EVs. It's going to OHKO frail Pokemon and stuff weak to fairy no matter how much Attack you have, and it's still going to 2HKO everything else that doesn't resist it no matter how much attack you have. On the other hand, its SpDef is so bad, even weak STAB attacks deal a ton of damage to it. I knew that 252 HP/252 Atk was not an ideal EV spread, but I didn't know how far I wanted to take the idea of making Mawile really bulky. Looking back to 2011, where I used almost max HP/SpDef on Conkeldurr, and used a Bold entirely bulky Thundurus to great success, I figured I should start by taking it to the extreme like I did back then. With Careful and 180 SpDef EVs Timid 252 SpAtk Choice Specs Salamence does 85.3 - 100.6 % with Fire Blast (6.3 % chance to OHKO) and Mawile can OHKO back with Play Rough at -1 Atk. Modest 252 SpAtk Charizard-Y does 77.7 - 92.9 % with Heat Wave outside of Sun (So Tyranitar helps there, or if the 5 turns of sun just run out), while Mawile can do 52.5 - 62.3 % back to it with Sucker Punch. The 52 Atk EVs let Mawile OHKO 252 HP Tyranitar 93.8 % of the time with Play Rough. The Speed EVs were just for speed creeping other Mawiles. 

Overall, Mawile was excellent, and despite not having any speed control, it was extremely useful in almost all of my matches. In fact it was clutch in a lot of my matches and really gave me an advantage that was hard to let go of if I got my opponent caught in a bad position due to the synergy I had in switching in and out combined with Intimidate support. I wouldn't hesitate to say the extra bulk helps a lot when your team lacks speed control. I'm not sure how the EV spread for Mawiles will evolve after I post this, but I know it's very likely my EV spread isn't ideal. However, I think the idea of using some extra bulk on it is a better way to use it compared to 252 HP/Atk and I will continue to work on making those common/standard Pokemon like Mawile evolve throughout the year, whether it's by unique EV spreads or movesets and I encourage everyone else to do the same. Just because everyone uses a Pokemon on almost every team and has the same EV spread/moveset doesn't mean it's the best way to use that Pokemon, or that there are no other options that are also good. I only say this because I see so many people complaining on places like Nuggetbridge or Showdown chat about how "there are only 6 viable Pokemon" because "everyone uses the same team". I think this is far from the truth, and I think this metagame has a lot more variety than VGC 13 did. People just need to be willing to experiment. Look at Enosh, who is an excellent player and an extremely consistent tournament finisher, Toler, a former World Champion, and Wolfe, a 2-time National Champion and Worlds Runner up. They all used some crazy stuff, much crazier than I did, and they both had a very successful regional. Hopefully this regional encourages people to be more creative, because I think that makes the game more fun for everyone playing. If you manage to think of something that's creative yet actually good, you're going to have much more success. Just think of it mathematically. If you consider yourself a good player but maybe not one of the best, and are aiming for not just top cut, but a really high finish, would you rather be one of the hundreds using the same exact team and just hoping you get better luck than those who are also of an equal skill level to you whether it's by lucky pairings or actual luck during battles? Or would you rather try and work to find something creative that can help break down the metagame and separate yourself from all of your competitors using the standard team and even compete with the top tier players? It's more difficult absolutely, but if you have aspirations to finish really highly at the more challenging tournaments I think that's the way to go. Enough of that rant, inspired by that drama filled thread on Nuggetbridge, back to the team. Also Talonflame sucks. 

Rotom-Wash @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Def / 4 SAtk / 132 SDef / 4 Spd
Calm Nature
- Thunderbolt
- Hydro Pump
- Will-O-Wisp
- Protect

Sadly mine wasn't shiny, but I love shiny Rotom-W and I wish I had one in X/Y. Pretty standard Support Rotom-W. I don't like Rotom-H very much and I think Rotom-W is pretty superior to it, so it was an easy choice for my team. One of the best Pokemon in this ruleset, and it's one of those Pokemon where it's no surprise it's on almost every team. WoW provides further disruption for teams filled with Physical Pokemon, and Protect helps me in the Charizard/Venusaur matchup, as I can scout for the megaevolve and then switch in TTar. Protect is also just a really good move in general, and it's even better when it's unsuspected, which it often is on Rotom-W. Just like I EV'd Mawile, Rotom only has a ~6% chance of dying to Modest 252 SpAtk Charizard-Y's Solarbeam. Just incase I get caught in a situation where Charizard-Y is in and sun is up, which does happen a decent amount when Charizard-Y teams are played well. The 116 Defense lets it take 2 Adamant 252 Atk Azumarill Play Roughs without dying when factoring in Sitrus. That scenario never happened in testing or in the tournament, but I wanted the rest of my EVs in Physical Defense anyway just for some more bulk. 

Ferrothorn @ Lum Berry
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 252 HP / 204 Atk / 52 SDef
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spd
- Power Whip
- Gyro Ball
- Leech Seed
- Protect

Ferrothorn helped the team with a lot of different things at once. It disrupted physical contact making attackers with Iron Barbs, could help in the Smeargle matchup with Lum Berry, could take a WoW from Rotom-W and OHKO it back with Power Whip thanks to my large investment in Attack, it could help handle Rain teams, and it had excellent synergy defensively with the rest of my team. It also created win conditions on its own. In some cases where my opponent only had 1 or 2 Pokemon that could deal with Ferrothorn, I could simply identify those 1 or 2 Pokemon and focus my strategy on KOing the threats to Ferrothorn no matter what the cost and simply winning because they can't KO Ferrothorn once it Leech Seeds them. Lum was extremely useful, as many people kept their Rotom-Ws in and tried WoWing Ferro instead of switching out. The Moveset is standard, and the Atk EVs are enough to OHKO common Rotoms. I just put the rest in SpDef since I had so many ways to handle Physical Attackers. 

Overall, I felt pretty confident in the team going into the regional despite only making it and testing it one day before. I hadn't practiced nearly as much as I would have liked though. I was fuzzy on some damage calcs that playing more would have helped with. The new 45 second timer doesn't give a warning when you're about to run out of time and I definitely would prefer the minute we had in previous years, so I wasn't as used to the timer as players who played a lot on Battle Spot like Wolfey were. I couldn't identify all the Pokemon in team preview if my opponent used some crazy obscure Pokemon (which happened), and I definitely don't know all the names of the new Pokemon haha (or last gen's Pokemon). Onto the tournament itself! I will prepare you for disappointment, because I don't remember anything about my matches, and you're unable to save battle videos. Evan recorded my round 9 match vs Jivetime during the break between Swiss and Top Cut, and I recorded game 2 of the finals vs Enosh, the only 2 games that were even possible to record with the lookback feature, so I'll post those links for you guys to watch. I have in my notes the Pokemon my opponent used and whether I won or lost, but I don't have their names and I don't remember what happened in the match so this part probably won't be too interesting other than seeing the teams I had to play against.

Round 1 vs Kid
Scizor (Lv.40)/Jolteon/Quagsire/Snorlax/Charizard/Lucario

His Quagsire got a critical hit Ice Beam on my Garchomp so I lost a Pokemon to him, hopefully he didn't feel too discouraged after his Round 1 loss. And yes he did bring the Lv.40 Scizor to the battle and yes it megaevolved. Win

The real story of this round ended up being both Aaron and Wolfe losing, with Aaron losing to 4-0 to this guy with a Mega Aerodactyl and lots of Swagger and a Cryoginal, who ended up becoming a legend at the tournament. 

Round 2 vs Guy

This guy had a really hard TR team, which I was ok with because I felt my team could handle TR fine. I remember he had a Calm Mind Aromatisse with that fairy move that heals HP based on the damage it does so that was interesting, but I won the match without too much trouble. I do remember I faced a little bit of hax this match but not enough to cost me the battle. Win

Round 3 vs Guy

I don't remember what happened this match, but this kind of standard type team I was completely prepared for and I don't remember having much trouble with this match. I do remember he had WoW Gengar though which was interesting, and wouldn't be the last time I saw that today. Win

Round 4 vs TMan (I didn't know who he was at the time)

I didn't play very well this match. I have trouble with Manectric with my team sometimes, but I got outplayed turn 1 by double attacking into a Protect and then missed a Draco Meteor on it the following turn which hurt because that's the Pokemon that single handedly beat me. My predictions were off this game, most likely because of a lack of practice, but he ended up going 9-0 so his tiebreaker would help me later, as I squeaked into top cut at 13th place. But really this was a good match because it put some pressure on me to play better. Lose

Round 5 vs Guy

This guy had another pretty standard team. I pretty much just focused on taking out Rotom-H and winning with Ferrothorn, which is exactly what happened. Win

Round 6 vs Guy

Another standard looking team, which I was ok with. I missed a Rock Slide on his Talonflame which sucked, but I still managed to win pretty handily since I remember I got some kind of revenge hax. Win

Round 7 vs TCG Guy

He told me he was a TCG player, so I was curious to see how good he would be since he must know what he's doing if he's 5-1. Eggy brought me back to 2012 worlds, but just like Wolfe he didn't use it vs me. I remember this was one of the matches where I abused my defensive switch-in synergy, as well as creating a Ferrothorn win condition for myself. I later found out that this guy was using a team Amarilo Cablero made for him. Win

Round 8 vs Matt Coyle (EnFuego)

I knew his Scizor had Lum because we roomed together and it was announced to the entire room that it had Lum Berry. I played thinking he knew my TTar would outspeed his Scizor and Fire Blast it since people knew I had mixed TTar by that point, but that didn't work out for me. Rotom-W burned my Ferrothorn which cured itself with Lum Berry, but ended up missing Power Whip, and then when I flinched his Rotom with Rock Slide the following turn I missed Power Whip again, so my Ferrothorn ended up getting burned and I lost to endgame Kangaskhan+Mushroom. Revenge for beating him at US Nationals with Numel I guess! Lose

Round 9 vs Michael Lanzano (Jivetime)

Jivetime's a guy who has a lot of Regional success and I think he's a really solid player, but has yet to place really high at Nationals or Worlds. He's a modest guy who works pretty hard at improving so I think he's due for a really good finish there soon though. This was an insanely close match, and definitely the closest match of the tournament for me (especially in a situation where it's win and cut or lose and miss). I was at a key early disadvantage when he nailed my Salamence switchin with Mawile, where if the timer was a minute I would have gone back and switched because it was such an obvious play but I didn't have enough time. That left me with 3 physical attackers vs a Charm Meowstick. Somehow I played out of it, and got it down to one of those coinflip turns where whoever predicts right wins. Since we've played a few times online and I've seen him play vs other good players I know he's capable of making plays your average player wouldn't make, so I used that to my advantage when trying to predict him on the final turn. It may have only made me a couple % more confident in my move which is just considered a 50/50, but any advantage helps. I ended up guessing right, sending me into the top 16. Win

Sadly my man Aaron misses Top Cut barely, despite coming back from his early loss to Aerodactyl and Cryoginal. Wolfe makes it into top cut, and ends up on the opposite side of the bracket as me, so if we both win out, we'll meet in the finals for a pretty epic first X/Y regional. I end up paired with Talking Lion for Top 16 who I know from Nuggetbridge but don't know much else about him like how he plays or what mons he likes using. 

Top 16 vs Talking Lion

I didn't know if it was Nidoking or Nidoqueen based on the team preview pictures so I asked him and he kindly told me, but then I realized that was dumb because you can tell by the gender. I knew Ferrothorn would be a pain, so I wanted to try and keep a mon alive at the end to deal with a late game Ferrothorn. I remember I played pretty well games 1 and 2, but in game 2 it came down to my Mawile and Garchomp vs his Ferrothorn. He ended up Leech Seeding both so I had to EQ my own Mawile to stop him from healing from it while at the same time increasing EQ's power to 100% since it would be 1 v 1. Luckily he wasn't able to get off enough triple protects to win, so I moved on to the top 8. Win 2 - 0 

Top 8 vs Guy

When I saw his team in team preview I was remembering my matches over the years with ryujin jaka cause he had 3 Fire types. Like I do in all of my best of 3 matches, I play to win game 1 but I also try and get information that might be key to winning games 2 and 3. I got exactly that in game 1. I found out his Hydreigon was Scarfed and what I guessed was Specs Chandelure though I couldn't be 100 % sure. But I was fairly confident it was Specs. I ended up losing but I gained some key knowledge on how my opponent plays as well as some items/moves. I don't remember games 2 or 3 really being very close. Win 2 - 1

Top 4 vs Toler Webb (Dimsun)

Trista told me at the start of the tournament that Flower could learn Trick Room. Luckily I talked to my good friends Aaron and Wolfe to find out that Trista was WRONG and that the Flower doesn't learn Trick Room. I still had no idea what it did, but at least I knew not that. But this looked to be a really interesting match, with two 2012 World Champions against each other. I can't remember what I did, but I remember he missed both WoW and Leech Seed from Rotom and Pumpkin and I ended up killing his Pumpkin with Dark Pulse from TTar and burned Mawile. He didn't end up bringing Flower, but I remember winning without having to reveal Ferrothorn as the 4th mon that I picked, so I hoped maybe that would cause him to bring Flower so I could clean up with an end game Ferrothorn. Game 2 I forget how I won, but I did, so GG. Win 2 - 0

Finals vs Enosh Shachar (Human)
Politoed/Talonflame/Krokodile/Ludicolo/Grass Starter/Zapdos

I didn't know anything about his team going into this match other than that he didn't have a mega, which was pretty interesting. I was worried of the Politoed/Ludicolo matchup since it could take care of some of my counters to his other mons, but I knew if I played it right I could win. I had no idea what Grass Starter does, other than that it gets that shield move, and it's ability prevents bomb moves. (I remember someone talking about how it walls Gengar on IRC like right when the game came out, so I knew it blocked Shadow Ball for some reason, but I had no idea if it blocked Gyro Ball (which I was using). I tried asking before he saw my team in preview if it blocked Gyro Ball but I couldn't get an answer! Oh well! Game 1 I think I played pretty well and ended up with Ferrothorn and something else vs low HP Grass Starter at the end. I went for a Gyro Ball on it just so I could see if it would block it before winning and I found out that it does indeed block Gyro Ball! Who knew??? Game 2 I have recorded so I won't comment on it. GG. Win 2 - 0

Group Photo of the few people who stayed until the very end!

We went back to our hotel room to chill and get drinks. Evan Falco joined us which was cool, I haven't seen him in a long time. 

Jamaican Me Happy :3

Upon EnFuego posting this on Facebook, my manhood began to be questioned by the likes of Duy Ha, so I had to drink something a little more manly.

Some Mike's Hard Lemonade, now that's more like it :3

Simon and I are getting hungry and it's like 1 AM and we don't know where to go. I call up the Denny's at the West Bestern and ask what time they close, and they tell me it doesn't. I think we found where to eat. When we get there no one's there, and there is just one guy running the entire Denny's, from seating us, taking orders, cooking the food, everything. He was a fuckin machine. He even gave us like 6 free pancakes. Needless to say we tipped him pretty well.  

We get back to our hotel and for reasons Simon Yop and Chris "Laser Tag God" whatever your last name is slept in the pookCAR. And that's pretty much the end of the weekend. I get some more gravy for breakfast at the Waffle House, because I don't know the next time I'll get to enjoy some nice gravy will be, and we drive back home :)

I look forward to seeing a lot of people again at APEX, and maybe at Florida Regionals too!

Remember, Talonflame sucks. And follow me on Twitter @RayRizzoVGC

After not playing Pokemon last year I'm gonna try and get more active playing Pokemon as long as I keep my personal trainer Aaron Zheng around. I'll try to post some more stuff on my blog, whether it's just general strategy stuff, teams, teambuilding, or maybe streaming, so stay tuned!


  1. This was a great weekend story Ray and I hope to see you at Florida regionals next weekend!

    Fellow gravy lover
    Daniel Stuhr
    (Unknown georgia pokemon player)

  2. Way honored to be in the blog lol. Congrats again on the win, very interesting to read!

  3. As one of the guys who started that "drama filled thread" on Nugget Banforwaaadmindisagreeswithlogicbridge, I'm glad you agreed with me. That was my whole point of that thread... why copy a team when you can make a team to beat those copycat teams??? Maybe I came off strong, but I was defending myself from 5th grade idiot trolls and a clueless admin. People say your team is standard, but I disagree. There may be iconic standard pokes (Ttar), but it's EV and built so differently as to take out Big 6 common threats (Rotom-W and, yes, Talonflame sucks a big one).

    Congrats on the win. By the way, I have the shiny Rotom for you (Yes, it's Calm). Want a clone?

    1. Yea people make it easier when everyones team is a copy of another I always try to make sure ive got some unique pokemon on my team, gotta make people think a little bit!

    2. I ended up getting a shiny Calm Rotom earlier today haha, but thanks for the offer

  4. I haven't been using a Mawile myself, but thanks for that Mawile innovation. It kind of makes me want to explore M-Mawile more!

    Also, this was a great tournament report! Apparently I have a new blogspot to follow...

  5. Nice team Ray!
    Congrats for the regional!
    Ricardo AcidStorm in FB

  6. Long time goes, but I think that sample Mawile is interesting.
    Can I translate it in my blog? if you don't want to do that, I will delete it immediately