Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stand Up and Take a Chance - Nationals Team Analysis

Hi there, I'm Zach Droegkamp (Zach on Nugget Bridge, Braverius on PS!) and I figured I'd share the team I used at Nationals this weekend. I ended up finishing 6-3 (53rd overall) and missing my worlds invite by 5CP when all was said and done. But even with how disappointing the actual result was, the team felt really solid and had some things on it worth looking into.

I decided I wanted to use the core of Hydreigon / Aegislash / Kangaskhan because it had a relatively good matchup versus most of the metagame. I liked Gyarados and Garchomp alongside those two for a while, but Gyarados ended up not dealing enough damage to fit with the core as Hydreigon was Haban and Garchomp wasn't really needed there, so I talked to Crow and he brought up a few good ideas, namely the Rotom-W and Machamp over those two. I liked the Rotom-W idea, but I didn't like how weak I was to Amoonguss + Pokemon and still wanted to have a check to Talonflame + Rain with that slot- will go into more detail when I get to its explanation. The Talonflame was added at the end to help deal with instant pressure and to soften up teams that were not particularly fond of the bird.

It was a little tough preparing for Nationals this time around as I planned to do most of my refining and finalizing on the Monday before, but a Derecho hit southeastern Wisconsin that night and knocked out our electricity for over 24 hours (I was staying with at my parents' house for the week). I was sort of in "well, might as well throw something on the table and see if it works mode" since I couldn't Skype or do anything at all except sit in my room in the dark and figure things out. Want to give a huge thanks to Crow and JiveTime for working on the team with me the night before I had to leave and to Lejn, Snake, Angel, Wolfe, and Gavin for letting me bounce ideas off of them / practice the week before. I wish I had a better run to show for the efforts people made to help, but rest assured it was very appreciated.

This was one of the three tournaments I felt good about how I did in this year, the other two being Houston and NorCal, so it was refreshing to get back to what I felt was playing solidly. Florida was also alright I guess, but I felt like I caught lightning in a bottle there. Even though I didn't make it to day two at Nationals, I'm pretty satisfied with how things went and I actually can say I learned a lot from this tournament.

The team:

Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Parental Bond
-Sucker Punch
-Power-Up Punch

I've been using Kangaskhan on most of my teams this year, and I don't think I need to explain it at this point. I felt like it was a consistent call for Nationals and I felt like I knew how to play it relatively well. Some people just did it better than me when I played them (and by some people I mean Greyson and JiveTime), but if I made better plays I could usually lock the game. 

Hydreigon @ Haban Berry
Ability: Levitate
-Draco Meteor
-Fire Blast
-Dark Pulse

Hydreigon and Aegislash work incredibly well together and provide flawless type synergy on top of being two very solid Pokemon, and I wanted something like this to build around to be able to be able to get my opponent to reveal what they brought rather quickly. It was something sort of new for me to play a bit more passively early, but I felt like I handled it alright, and Hydreigon helped me do so. Whenever I tested Specs or Scarf, I always wanted to switch moves or use Protect more than any other choice Pokemon I've used this year, so I wanted an item that was both effective and allowed me to use Protect. I was also not keen on Hydreigon because it was basically mutilated by Salamence, so I think the Haban alleviated that fear as well. I never used Fire Blast once all day and think it could have been Taunt, which would have come in handy in a game or two. 

Machamp "Tim Howard" @ Sitrus Berry 
Ability: Guts
-Close Combat
-Ice Punch
-Wide Guard

Machamp was something that Crow brought up about three days before Nationals and something I had never run before prior to that. I saw exactly why he wanted it on the team, although it wasn't going to be brought in even half of my games. It was a tech for specific teams, mostly those heavily based around Tyranitar + Ice Punch-able Dragon + Rotom forme. Wide Guard was put on at the last minute over Knock Off because I feared Charizard Heat Wave and wanted a lock against Aerodactyl + Garchomp Rock Slide spam cheese as well as having an option for certain Rain teams. It seemed a little awkward with Protect, but it worked out alright. Guts was needed because I needed Machamp to give Rotom a hard time, and Close Combat did more damage to Rotom, especially with a Guts boost.

Rotom-W @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Levitate
-Hydro Pump
-Thunder Wave

Probably my favorite Pokemon on the team: the gogglewasher. I had a lot of issues dealing with Amoonguss + Azumarill/Tyranitar/Kanga without the Gyarados on the team, and slapping the goggles on this little guy helped that and more. I really do think Sitrus is a good item on it, but I had it on Machamp already, and Goggles were an absolute necessity here without running Taunt. There were a ridiculous amount of times where I saw a Rotom-W in the International Challenge when I ran Mega Tyranitar + Amoonguss where I realized how devastating a Rotom-W with Goggles would be. I also noticed this when I ran Azumarill + Amoonguss. 

I've run Thunder Wave over Will-o-Wisp on most of my Rotom formes recently, and I think it's a slightly better move for most teams. It really does depend on the setup of the team, but here I really needed it with Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Aegislash, and Machamp all benefiting from paralyzed Pokemon.

I think this goggles Rotom was an excellent bo1 Pokemon and a decent bo3 Pokemon, and I'd consider running this again if my team needed what it provides.

Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
-Shadow Ball
-Flash Cannon
-Shadow Sneak
-King's Shield

This one was...weird. I don't know exactly how I feel about this Pokemon after the event for multiple reasons. First, it was a slightly faster Aegislash (Modest) with...Weakness Policy. The speed worked well with Thunder Wave, but it made a lot of things like Mawile, Wigglytuff, and Scrafty more awkward to deal with. If you theory it through with the rest of the team, it has a lot of glaring weaknesses but also a lot of huge benefits. I never was in a situation where Substitute would have won me a game all day, but I also was never in a situation where Weakness Policy won me a game. Shadow Sneak wasn't really handy all day, either. I'm still not sure how I felt about running this. Weakness Policy is a pretty good item on Aegi, but the rest of how this was run was just...weird. Most bittersweet mon I've ever run.

Talonflame @ Choice Band
Ability: Gale Wings
-Brave Bird
-Flare Blitz
-Sleep Talk

Noticed the teams I was having a tough time with were mostly weak to Talonflame, so this ended up here. It was pretty good, nothing ridiculously awesome or anything but did its job and that's all I needed out of it. I think I preferred this over the bulkier RH supportish version I was testing for a long time here. 

Talonflame + Kangaskhan was a big crapshoot for me, and I ended up losing one of them to Greyson in a game where we led the same two and made the same move pretty much.

Hydreigon was a little tough as well, especially Choiced sets. I had ways to check it, but I had to play very carefully.

Sub Aegislash was also something I had to play very carefully around. I ran into issues with it a few times during the day and was usually able to work around it, but it was a scary thing if it got a Substitute up.

I lost to the only Charizard-Y I faced. It didn't have a Venusaur next to it, but it was pretty scary with Aerodactyl, even though I had Wide Guard. I misrevealed Wide Guard and he Overheated the next turn, so there's that. It was tricky to play around at the very least.

I'm a bit disappointed at how the season ended for me, but it's my own fault I didn't go a little deeper in any other tournaments. I'm not upset at anyone except myself, and will learn from my shortcomings this year and work on learning as much as I can about the game in order to make a good run next year. I should be at the LCQ in Washington, DC to give it one more shot (but more importantly to hang out with everyone at worlds), but my focus Pokemon-wise is on next season. Thanks to everyone who worked with me through the year, I truly appreciate it. See you all at Worlds!

(Also, thanks #imoutos for the invitation to write <3)

The Everlasting Worlds Dream

My name is Simon Yip, but most of you already know that. I just got back home from the Pokemon United States National Championships for the VGC and placed 6th out of around 500. I was happy in my performance in the tournament, but not where it places me in the CP circuit as the amount of CP I earned was not enough to earn me a trip back to worlds. However, this tournament has restored some faith in myself that I am actually good at Pokemon. Getting Top 4 and Top 8 in 3 Nationals is pretty impressive. This is the team I used to do it! This will also be posted on NuggetBridge along with a overall event report at a later time.

The title refers to the song "The Everlasting Guilty Crown" which is used in the OP for Guilty Crown. It also refers to what seems like an "Everlasting" dream of returning to worlds.

Unfortunately, I will not be discussing my Lucario and Tyranitar spreads as some of the users I developed them with are looking to use the same or similar sets at worlds and it wouldn't be fair for me to release them. They will be revealed and explained after Worlds.

Going to follow the weaboo tradition of explaining my Pokemon's nicknames which are from 4 different shows.

The Team:

♥Mana♥ (Blastoise)(F) @ Blastoisinite
Ability: Rain Dish
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Water Spout
- Aura Sphere
- Ice Beam
- Protect

Blastoise was really the center piece of the team and the team's goal was pretty much to "Protect Mana." Blastoise is one of the most powerful Special Attackers in the game and has strong options against some of the most popular Pokemon used in VGC. I chose to use Blastoise because of it's insane field clearing ability with Water Spout, it's ability to outspeed middle speed tier Pokemon like Rotom-H, and it's versatility in being able to OHKO popular Pokemon such as Garchomp and Tyranitar.

I chose to go with Timid 252 Sp Attack/252 Speed because I wanted it to hit as hard as possible. Timid 252 Speed hits a speed stat of 143 which outspeeds all neutral Rotom Formes, Smeargle and anything that tries to speed creep Smeargle. Blastoise ended up outspeeding both John Hu and Logan Castro's (Both top 4 finishers) Garchomps which made the match up against them significantly easier. I originally invested in some bulk but realized it was pointless since the entire point of the team was to stop Blastoise from getting hit at all.

I used Rain Dish over Torrent because Rain Dish could theoretically help me switch in Blastoise against Rain teams. Note that this never came up even once in practice nor did it come up in the actual event.

Blastoise was the only Pokemon that I brought to 100% of my games.

Blastoise is named after Mana Takamiya from Date a Live. Mana is the second strongest wizard in the series and her primary weapon is a cannon that can wipe out multiple targets instantaneously, like what Blastoise does with Water Spout.

♥Inori♥ (Talonflame)(M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Protect
- Flare Blitz
- Brave Bird
- Tailwind

There isn't too much to say about this Talonflame. I needed something that could take care of grass types like Mega Venusaur and Ludicolo which could bypass Rage Powder and threaten Blastoise. I also used it to clean up after Blastoise laid waste to my opponent's team. I originally used a Choice Band set but I realized that there were times were when  I needed to preserve Talonflame and not sacrifice it immediately. I had trouble choosing the last move and tested Taunt, Will-O-Wisp and Tailwind. I rarely used any of the 3 moves in practice but Tailwind ended up being a win condition in a few of my matches so I'm really happy I went with Tailwind.

There's nothing special about the EV spread. I really hate using 252/252/4 spreads but it ended up being the best option for what I wanted to do. I considered giving it a little bulk but having bulk on a Life Orb set is contradictory.

Talonflame is named after Inori Yuzuriha from Guilty Crown. Inori is a sweet girl who is always really clutch and is always willing to sacrifice her life to save her friends.

Amarok (Lucario)(M) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Inner Focus
Adamant Nature
- Close Combat
- Bullet Punch
- Final Gambit
- Follow Me

Lucario was a Pokemon I didn't bring very often but was crucial in some of my victories. My Blastoise + Amoonguss combo doesn't work on Grass types such as other Amoongus and Mega Venusaur. I solved this issue by adding another Pokemon with redirection.  Lucario's typing allowed it to redirect and take minimal damage from Pokemon like Amoonguss and Venusaur. In addition, I gave it a Lum Berry so it could redirect status moves like Spore and and Swagger twice. Close Combat is Lucario's strongest STAB attack and gave me another answer to Tyranitar, Kangaskhan as well as Jon Hu's Lapras. Bullet Punch was used for cleanup on low targets and faster Pokemon like Aerodactyl and Scarf Gardevoir. Final Gambit was a crucial move because I was still having trouble with natural counters to Blastoise like Rotom-Wash and Mega Venusaur. Final Gambit allowed me to immediately eliminate any Rotom-Forme and put Pokemon like Mega Venusaur and Amoonguss into KO range for Water Spout.

Lucario is named after Amarok from Captain Earth. Amarok is the strongest of the Kill-T-Gangs(Alien Mech things) in the series and has a color scheme similar to Lucario's. Amarok also means wolf in Inuit or something so the name fits in that scenario too.

BugBear (Tyranitar)(M) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Sand Stream
Quiet Nature
- Rock Slide
- Assurance
- Fire Blast
- Ice Beam

Before I even start discussing Tyranitar, I would like to give a shout out to DeVon Ingram for telling me about Assault Vest Tyranitar and helping me come up with the set.

Tyranitar's role on the team was to take hits that threatened my other Pokemon. I really needed something that could just take hits seeing as how the rest of my team was fairly frail. The Assault Vest paired with Sand basically doubles Tyranitars Special Defense and allowed it to shrug off even a Choice Specs Draco Meteor from Hydreigon. Rock Slide is basically a mandatory move on Tyranitar. Fire Blast and Ice Beam were used for coverage against Pokemon like Salamence, Garchomp and Ferrothorn. Assurance is the main oddball here. Assurance is something I've been using on Tyranitar for awhile and is a very powerful move when used in conjunction with another nuke. Water Spout + Assurance was basically a guaranteed kill and allowed me to quickly remove things like Aegislash from the game.The extra damage payout from Assurance was completely worth the 20 power difference I'd gain from using Crunch or Dark Pulse. I never once wished I had either move over Assurance.

I used a Quiet nature because I didn't want to drop either attack or defense stat. I didn't really care about speed so I just made sure to outspeed some low speed tier Pokemon like most Mawile. I was actually going to use a neutral nature until I figured out how retarded I was being with stat and nature efficiency.

Tyranitar was named after the Kilt-T-Gang BugBear from Captain Earth. Despite being an antagonist, BugBear cares for the people he loves and would do anything to stop them from getting hurt. My Tyranitar was built to take hits so that I could preserve the rest of my team.

♥Momo♥ (Amoonguss)(F) @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 204 HP / 140 Def / 164 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 27 Spe
- Sludge Bomb
- Spore
- Rage Powder
- Protect

Amoonguss's role on the team is to support Blastoise and in some cases Tyranitar with redirection. I chose Sludge Bomb over Giga Drain because it has more damage output and I was having more trouble with grass types than I was having with water types. Rocky Helmet was used to punish Mega Kangaskhan and Gyarados and put them into KO range for Blastoise and Talonflame.

The EV spread allowed it to always survive Choice Specs Hydreigon Draco Meteor 100% of the time and Choice Band Talonflame Brave Bird after Intimidate 94% of the time. I used a 27 Speed IV so I would underspeed minimum speed Mawile and Azumarill in Trick Room and outspeed things like Neutral Aegislash and Tyranitar in Tailwind.

My Amoonguss is named after Momo Kisaragi from Mekaku City Actors. Momo is an idol who has the ability to draw the attention of everyone around her. She uses this power to distract people so her friends can get away with things like how my Amoonguss uses Rage Powder so Blastoise can freely spam Water Spout.

♥Ene♥ (Salamence)(F) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 20 Def / 100 SpA / 20 SpD / 156 Spe
Modest Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Dragon Pulse
- Stone Edge
- Fire Blast

I shouldn't have to talk about Scarf Salamence, you all know what it does by now. I used Salamence to neuter physical attacks with Intimidate and nuke higher speed tier Pokemon. Stone Edge was useful for getting the KO on Charizard and Talonflame even after Intimidate. I did try Rock Slide for synergy with Assurance but Stone Edge felt more reliable in getting the KOs I wanted. Draco Meteor and Fire Blast are given moves used to KO Dragons and Steels.

The spread on this Salamence is really what sets it apart from other Salamence. I absolutely hate playing the speed tie game so I decided that I wanted to use a slower bulkier Salamence. The EVs allow it to always survive an Adamant +1 Life Orb Bisharp's Sucker Punch, a Fake Out + Return from -1 Mega Kangaskhan ,-1 Play Rough from Azumarill, and an Ice Shard from -1 Life Orb Adamant Mamoswine. The Special Defense allows it to always survive 2 Thunderbolts from Modest Rotom Formes as well as Timid Mega Manectric's Hidden Power Ice. The Special Attack lets it always 2HKO 4HP Mega Manectric with Dragon Pulse and OHKO 4HP Mega Lucario with Fire Blast. The speed lets it outspeed Mega Manectric and Scarf Smeargle just in case someone had one.

Ene is a girl from Mekaku City Actors who lost her body and was turned into a computer program. I named Salamence Ene mainly because they have the same color scheme.


Amoongus/Lucario/Salamence + Blastoise were by far my most common leads in the tournament. If the opposing team didn't have an answer to Amoonguss and Blastoise, I would just lead the combo and spam Water Spout with Rage Powder until I won. If I thought my opponent was going to lead Meowstic/Klefki/something with status spam, I would lead Lucario Blastoise. Another time I would lead Lucario is if I thought the other team would have Amoonguss, Venusaur or an electric type with Safety Goggles such as Zapdos. I wanted Blastoise to not get hit by a super effective attack and using Follow Me instead of Rage Powder lets Blastoise stay safe from what would probably be a KO. If the other team had a lot of physical attackers, I would lead Salamence and either try to pick up a quick KO or switch out to Amoonguss/Lucario and spam Rage Powder/Follow Me + Water Spout on their weakened leads. Sometimes I would switch from Salamence to Lucario to take advantage of to the natural defensive synergy that comes from the Dragon Steel combo.

The Strategy:

I actually don't have that much to say about the strategy. It's literally  protect the Blastoise. Even though the goal of the team was to protect Blastoise, it doesn't mean the team falls apart if god forbid Blastoise is knocked out early. There were actually some games where I just used Blastoise as a bluff or target to set up Tailwind and use Tyranitar and Talonflame to win the game.


The team had very few weaknesses that could really be exploited but the most troubling Pokemon were grass types and electric types with Safety Goggles.
The downside to not having Giga Drain on Amoonguss is that I lacked a strong attack to defeat Rotom-W. While it's true that Amoonguss can just Rage Powder anything Rotom-Wash throws out and chip it down with Water Spout, things become complicated if Rotom-Wash is paired with something that can KO Amoonguss. Discharge electric types were also a problem because I didn't have a way to protect Blastoise from Discharge. Salamence, Lucario, and Talonflame don't like eating a Discharge on the switch either. One of my 2 losses in swiss was to Discharge Rotom-Wash and I didn't want to face another one. Most of the Rotom-Washes I face were KOd by Assurance or Final Gambit.
I already talked about Grass Types and I don't really have much to add here. Grass types are a natural threat to my team (well mostly Blastoise) simply due to their ability to bypass Rage Powder and hit Blastoise with a super effective move. Lucario and Talonflame play a huge role in defeating these Pokemon.

That's pretty much all I have to say about my team. I'll probably end up using something similar in the Worlds LCQ seeing as this is the first team I really enjoyed using this format and I already have some ideas on how to overcome most of the weaknesses I outlined.

I also wanted to leave a little note here about tilting. I used to be a huge tilter that lost focus after a single loss in earlier tournaments. I was able to stop this from happening this time simply by leaving the playing area after my matches. Having all your friends ask you how you lost won't help you get your mind off of it and move on. Even after games I won, I stepped outside and listened to (weaboo)music to get my mind off of my last battle so I could start the next match fresh. I will definitely take these steps in future tournaments and I really think this will help me do better.

Shout outs to DeVon, Angel, Enosh, Jeudy and Gavin for helping me team build. I couldn't have done it without you guys.
It was really great seeing all my friends this past weekend and I hope to see you guys soon at Worlds in DC!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

US Nationals Senior Division overview and #imoutos predictions!

Hello everyone! CT MikotoMisaka here and I got bored so I decided I would write about the very little covered Senior division. ( because seniors suck but im super bored so w/e)

We are just a few days away from the biggest VGC tournament of the year the US national championships! What senior is going to take home the glory? What senior will come out of nowhere and shock the world? I'm sure none of you actually care! Anyway lets look at the top 16 seniors heading into US nats.

1 Brendan Zheng(Babbytron) 794 CP
2 Paul Chua(Pwny Person) 495CP
3 Cameron S(Drizzleboy) 458CP
4 Henry Maxon(Snake) 352CP
5 Marc M(Green Hornet) 310CP
6 Jacob Waller(Thank Swalot) 310CP
7 Ian McLaughin(Raikoo) 298CP
8 Lucas Monroe(vapor) 256CP
9 Daneil Cardenas(Kermitthefrog) 252CP
10 Emily G 252CP
11 Dylan S(dullace24) 250CP
12 Kylie C(Pwny Sis) 244CP
13 George Langford(Kobratail) 242CP
14 Elijah C 240CP
15 Brian Hough?(Firstbase) 240CP
16 Ryan N 235CP

Now normally i'd go into detail on why each player is good or whatever, but I wont because this division is irrelevant so I'll go right into who i think are the favorites!

I have 4 favorites going into this event and they are 2011 junior division quarterfinalist George Langford(kobratail) 2012 Senior Division world's semi-finalist Henry Maxon(snake), 2013 Junior Division world champion Brendan Zheng(babbytron), and 2013 Senior Division National Champion Paul Chua(Pwny person).

These in my opinion are the strongest players heading into nats and are my picks for top 4 at US nats. If theres anyone who could break into this top 4 its 2013 Senior Division World's Semi-Finalist Cameron S(Drizzleboy) and 2011 Junior Division Runner-up Ian McLaughin(Raikoo). Everyone else I don't care about. \o/ Oh and Ushaihk9 or whatever his name is for last place. If you lose to him you should probably rethink your life.

Now I asked a few of my friends who they think the top 4 for Seniors at US nats will be and this is what i got!

Snake's Prediction :
1st: Snake
2nd: Drizzleboy
3rd: Kobratail
4th: Pwny person

Technoz's prediction:
1st: Kobratail
2nd: Technoz
3rd: Pwny person
4th: snake

Dingram's Prediction:
1st Pwny Person
2nd Snake
3rd Drizzleboy
4th Emforbes

KingofMars' Prediction:
1st: Pwny Person
2nd: Snake
3rd: Kobratail
4th Drizzleboy

SoulSur's Prediction:
1st: Pwny Person
2nd: Snake
3rd: Drizzleboy
4th Kobratail

Simon's Prediction:
1st: Snake
2nd: pwny person
3rd: Technoz
4th: Raikoo

Jio's prediction:
1st snake
2nd: pwny person
3rd: kobratail
4th technoz

Technoz prediction:

General consensus has Pwny person doing really well no matter how you look at it! Easily the favorite going into the event. I mean he's the reigning US national champion! He definitely has a target on his back. Now I asked everyone who their sleeper pick for nats is and these are the answers I got:

Snake's sleeper pick: Technoz
[9:00:36 PM] Yung Snake: technoz
[9:00:40 PM] Yung Snake: is my sleeper pick
[9:00:50 PM] Yung Snake: i feel like he'll either not make cut
[9:00:52 PM] Yung Snake: or get t4

Cypher's sleeper pick: Thank Swalot

Jio's sleeper pick: Technoz

Soulsur's sleeper pick: Technoz

Simon's sleeper pick: Pwny sis

My sleeper pick is definitely: babbytron. World champ for a reason

looks like technoz is the overwhelming sleeper pick at this point. what can we expect from him at US nats?

thats pretty much it for seniors. I wrote more than I could care for. regardless snake and paul finals lgi.

seniors suck

get butthurt you werent mentioned, etc.

stay salty my friends~