Tickling to the Top – 1st Place Report

Hey there Hat Lovers,

This past weekend Vancouver held a couple VGC Premier Challenges back to back. It was great to see strong attendance at both, warranting 6 rounds of swiss and a Top 8 cut on both days. We had a very large crew from Victoria come out for the events (which I was kind of surprised at, and quite excited to see)! Not only that, but over the two days, everyone from Victoria came out with a good showing. How awesome! As the title of this report implies, I even managed to win one of the tournaments! So today, I’ll talk a bit about the team-building process, introduce the team, and go through my tournament experiences.

The Team

I had been playing around with this team for a couple weeks before the tournament. It started out by playing with Se Jun’s 2014 World Championship team. I’d never figured out Gothitelle before, but given that it’s won the World Championships twice now (2011 and 2014), I wanted to get a feel for how it played and how to play against it. Though most experiences where you try out someone’s team don’t work well off the bat, something about Se Jun’s team clicked with me. My only problem was really figuring out when I wanted to bring Pachirisu, as I felt Gothitelle could work in most games. Also, I just hated using talonflame and watching it kill itself whenever I wanted to Brave Bird. It was fun, but didn’t really fit my style, so I decided to rebuild it around my newfound love for Gothitelle.

The thing I really liked about Se Jun’s team was just how strong Shadow Tag, Intimidate and Tickle were together. Gyarados has problems coming to every game, so I wanted to figure out something that could do that job better. Mawile seemed like a good hybrid substitute between Gardevoir, Talonflame and Gyarados. It offered Intimidate, priority via Sucker Punch, and Fairy/Steel typing. Next I wanted to bring a second Intimidate mon onto the team. Salamence ended up in this role as it provided good coverage while also KO’ing some annoying threats for the team like Hydreigon. Garchomp was just a good Pokemon that plopped itself down on the couch and said “just try and kick me out.” After that, the last two slots were alternating quite a lot.

At first, I continued using Pachirisu alongside a Life Orb Sharpedo. I only tried Sharpedo as a joke, thinking “this sounds like it could work if the stars align, so I’ll try it for a few games.” But then… Sharpedo did surprisingly well! Life Orb Sharpedo hits really hard, and with Speed Boost it can always outspeed any non-scarfed Mon after a Protect or ballsy play. What’s more, Gothitelle’s Tickle support really helped Sharpedo pick up OHKO’s you wouldn’t expect out of the stupid shark (#Crawdaunt4Lyfe).

That said, from this starting point, no matter how I developed the team, Sharpedo always seemed to get dropped after Pachirisu left. These two rotated around becoming Rotom-H, Sableye, and a few others I can’t remember as they lived far shorter lives on the team. The night before, Max suggested Ludicolo to help patch up the rain matchup, and Ludicolo became a starting member. I was looking to replace Rotom-H with another good mon to bring against sun, as outside this matchup Rotom-H just wasn’t cutting it for me. What’s more, Will-o-Wisp couldn’t really protect teammates any better than they could protect themselves via Tickle and Intimidate. Playing through the night, Max suggested a Charizard X, which seemed to fit the goal really well. You don’t really want to bring Mawile against sun, so an alternate Mega for this purpose and more seemed like a good idea.

And that’s how the team came to be! And here it is:

Charizard @ Charizardite X
Ability: Blaze
Level: 50
EVs: 92 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Dragon Claw
– Dragon Dance
– Protect

Gothitelle @ Leftovers
Ability: Shadow Tag
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 196 Def / 4 SpA / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psyshock
– Thunder Wave
– Tickle
– Protect

Garchomp @ Lum Berry
Ability: Rough Skin
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Claw
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– Protect

Mawile @ Mawilite
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 116 SpD / 20 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Play Rough
– Iron Head
– Sucker Punch
– Protect

Ludicolo @ Assault Vest
Ability: Swift Swim
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Def / 156 SpA / 12 SpD / 4 Spe
Modest Nature
– Ice Beam
– Scald
– Giga Drain
– Fake Out

Salamence @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
– Fire Blast
– Draco Meteor
– Dragon Pulse
– Stone Edge

The Tournaments

On Saturday, I was planning on playing a version of this team but couldn’t breed the final pieces in time. I ended up playing Randy’s 2014 Worlds team as I had the team on-cartridge and it had become my default NFG team throughout the year. After finishing 3-3, I wanted to be sure I could play my team for Sunday. Together, Max and I already had all the mons for me to run the new team, so I got to play it with no frantic breeding! I hadn’t used Charizard-X much, and my lack of experience with it almost lost me a game. But in the end it turned out, right? We had 33 Masters for 6 rounds of swiss and a Top 8 cut.

R1 – Jessica

I had played Jessica at the end of the day before, and found out about some neat stuff like scarfed Flygon. I was in for more surprises as she ran a Focus Sash Tyranitar. That said, I had given the cuddly wuddly Godzilla monster some Tickles already, so it wasn’t as much of a threat. Not to mention that her Mawile was just adorbs, and I couldn’t help Tickling it too.

1-0

R2 – Randy Kwa

Eek! Randy! We agreed to play on stream, which I immediately regretted when I saw the team he was running; mainly because I wanted to bring Charizard X as a surprise, and since it was being streamed that meant the surprise would be out in the open on round 2. Honestly, I actually misplayed pretty bad one turn this game. I didn’t Dragon Dance on my turn of “Charizard-X! surprise!”, being worried about Abomasnow launching a Blizzard. I Flare Blitz’ed this turn, being sure to KO Abomasnow, but dealing major recoil into myself as Charizard X ate a Thunderbolt. It was pretty sloppy but served as a good learning experience. I was only saved in this game when his Garchomp missed a Rock Slide for KO on my Charizard. With that I was able to steal a game I shouldn’t have 9 times out of 10, but thankfully Randy made Top Cut anyways so this loss didn’t keep him out of Cut.

2-0

R3 – Johnathon

I think I played Johnathon this round, but my 3rd and 4th rounds are mixed up in my head! This was a pair-down, which meant my resistance would be worse off, something I would fear as the day went on. Johnathon brought a Thunder Wave, Prankster Clefki to this game. I don’t know how I got out of this one because I clearly wasn’t able to launch a single attack after turn 2. His Weakness Policy Aegislash caught me by surprise a bit too. Anything is pretty scary when it’s at +2.

3-0

R4 – Julia

Julia is a friend from TCG that has gotten into VGC a lot more this year. It was cool to get a chance to play again! Unfortunately, she was also my 2nd pair-down of the day. I was reminded of my friend Trevore who started a TCG City Championships 5-0, but faced 3 pair-downs during the tournament and ended 5-2, whiffing Top 8 at 9th place. The little paranoid mon in my head started prodding my anxious lobe with a pin at this point. As for the match, I was deathly afraid her Azumarill would Belly Drum and start wrecking me with +6 Aqua Jets, but thankfully that didn’t happen. It’s fun to say that I tickled Julia so much she couldn’t get a good Return off her Kangaskhan.

4-0

R5 – Max

Crap. Max. Crap. Third pair-down of the day. Crap crap crap crap crap. So I don’t know the details of Max’s team and yet he knows everything on mine down to the EV spread. The only change I had was Stone Edge on Salamence, which I hoped could give me the edge as he would think his Charizard was safe from the OHKO via Rock Slide. I figured the only way I could get around this was to do something drastic. That involved bringing both Charizard X as my lead and Mega, and bringing Mawile in back as Intimidate support and Fairy/Steel typing that could hopefully take some punishment if I switched it in on resistances. My +1 Charizard X took a OHKO with Dragon Claw on his Charizard-Y, and from there I had the game down a bit more securely as Mawile took Gardevoir’s Psychics well, and dealt most of a Ludicolo’s HP bar after a Tickle or two.

5-0

At this point, I could stop fretting about whiffing cut at 4-2, and that helped me relax a bit. I joked that I could lose my last round to help keep Max and Randy out of cut because I really didn’t want to face them again. And then…

R6 – Hongyu

I made a mental note to try and play this game in a way that let myself see as much as possible about Hongyu’s team. That said… I completely messed up with a bit of a misclick on the first turn of the game and lost my Gothitelle to a Specs Dark Pulse from Hydreigon, and then Zard-X flinched to an Aerodactyl Rock Slide so I didn’t even get the KO on Hydreigon. Not a promising start, and I couldn’t pull it back. But I was able to confirm a LO Mamoswine, Specs Hydreigon, Tailwind on Aerodactyl and Charizard-Y. Either way, despite losing I felt comfortable facing him in Top Cut since I knew I could’ve played better here.

5-1, 4th seed

Top Cut Games

For some reason I wasn’t saving all my tournament games through swiss, which I’m kind of sad about right now, but I did save Battle Videos for all my Top Cut matches! I’d have to face Jason in Top 8, who is a good friend and also won the previous day. Last time we played was at Nats where I made a bit of a bonehead play and he punished me for it, so I was looking forward to a rematch!

I should also say, I give terrible pep talks. I mean… sometimes they’re not that bad, but at some point in the past whenever Jason was about to go into a tough match I’d give him a pep talk to boost his spirits. A disturbing trend began to emerge that every time I gave him a pep talk, good or bad, he didn’t pull through. And what’s more, when I didn’t give him a pep talk, he did really well (including winning the previous day). And… if I’m honest, we’ve got a pretty decent sample size for this ~10+ times? So jokingly, before our game, I told him he had spunk, vigour, and more potential than anyone I’d ever known. The crowd in on this joke jeered “that’s an unfair advantage” and we had a bit of a laugh before starting our best of 3.

For my Top Cut matches, I’ll just write out my overall thoughts/highlights and leave the video if you’re interested in the play-by-play.

Top 8 – Jason Wynja

Game 1: HPNG-WWWW-WWW9-TF4Q

I feel like I brought the wrong Pokemon to this game, but came away with a good knowledge of his team and how to approach Game 2. I felt like Jason had me, but I decided to stick through it since some lucky paralysis and then some divine intervention could give me a win. This ended up happening… somehow… and I snatched a win from the jaws of defeat.

Game 2: G4XW-WWWW-WWW9-TF4U

I felt pretty comfortable heading into game 2, but had to make a gutsy prediction about my switch-in against his Talonflame lead. I led Ludicolo/Gothitelle and tempted a Brave Bird on the Ludicolo slot. From there, I switched in Mawile who took the Brave Bird like a champ, and began to cripple Talonflame with Tickles and Intimidates. The rest of the game went smoothly as I left his -3 or -4 Choice Banded Talonflame to Brave Bird for 20 damage per turn, turning this game into a bit of a 2-on-1.

2-0

Top 4 – Hongyu Zhu

Game 1: 3ZEW-WWWW-WWW9-TF5X

The battle video has 25 turns, but the game kind of ends around turn 9. I didn’t execute things perfectly through the game, but managed to put myself in a situation where it was my Gothitelle vs. a ~65% Hp -3 Atk -1 Def Mawile. Hongyu hadn’t realized how physically bulky my Gothitelle was and stuck in for the long haul, thinking a crit Play Rough could win him the game. I was more concerned with a crit Sucker Punch, so I played very defensively and just Tickled and Protected to recover HP and wait for paralysis turns to get me back to full before I started attacking. Eventually, with his Mawile at -6 Atk -6 Def I picked a turn and Psyshocked for ~65% and the game.

Game 2: I didn’t upload this because I forfeited on turn 2. He led Mamoswine/Hydreigon to my Gothitelle/Salamence. I blanked on the fact that I knew his Mamoswine was Life Orb, which meant that even at -1 it had an ~80% chance to KO Salamence. Forgetting this, I figured I would survive an Ice Shard and KO the Hydreigon. Then I lost two Pokemon on turn one, and not wanting to drag out a lost game (especially with a long game 1, good knowledge of his team, and a ferry to catch), I just forfeited. Maybe I should have seen things through though, as this game could have taught me about his Choice Banded Garchomp, but I don’t think I’d have even pulled that info out of him given my last two were Mawile/Ludicolo and he had Charizard-Y left.

Game 3: AQHW-WWWW-WWW9-TF54

This game, I used the same leads, but pulled off some cute switching to get him to Ice Shard my Mawile and Overheat my Salamence, all while taking Mamoswine down to -3 with Intimidates. If he had kept Mamoswine in I’d have been happy to trap  it at -3 along with a -2 SpA Charizard. The pace was mine, and with Salamence free to do whatever it wanted, I figured he wouldn’t just let me KO his Garchomp  switch-in with Draco Meteor, so I kept Salamence in to KO the Charizard. At this point I missed the first Stone Edge I launched of the whole tournament, which made me a little nervous. I was relieved to see him opt to Earthquake, as he needed Hydreigon to come in undamaged for my Gothitelle (i.e. he didn’t want to Protect, he didn’t want to switch unsafely). With Mawile down, I got to trap his -2 Charizard with Gothitelle and felt pretty comfortable no matter how things turned out from there. As he continued to Earthquake when Ludicolo hit the field, I realized he was Banded into Earthquake, which meant I had guaranteed win as long as I put any damage on Hydreigon to let Salamence KO with Dragon Pulse.

2-1

Finals – Leonard Depp

Right before this series, we were both blatantly tipped off about some quirks of each other’s teams (to the chagrin of the TO), which made this series a bit more interesting to enter.

Game 1: R42W-WWWW-WWW9-TF56

I had been told his Zapdos was scarfed, but felt pretty comfortable if he wanted to lock into HP Ice against Gothitelle. I was also curious whose Scarfer was faster, so I sac’d Salamence for SCIENCE, and good damage on Zapdos. With Zapdos locked into HP Ice, and guaranteed to attack, Mawile was free to pick it off whenever I wanted. I made sure to keep neutering Garchomp and for the rest of the game it would essentially become 2-on-1. He brought in Hydreigon and I made a ballsy prediction to Thunder Wave his Hydreigon expecting him to go for the Fire Blast on Mawile; Mawile would resist Dark Pulse later on if he locked into Dark Pulse. At the end of the game, I found out he had a Turbo Aegislash. But at that point I had already won since I had Garchomp in the back and he was unable to heal off damage he’d already taken.

Game 2: 8SAG-WWWW-WWW9-TF58

I decided to switch my leads up, expecting him to want to deal with Gothitelle. I saw that he knew about my Zard-X on turn 1, and decided to Dragon Dance before Mega evolving. His Garchomp survived my Ice Beam, which was a bit of a surprise. At +1, my Flare Blitz KO’d his Kangaskhan and I brought in Salamence which finished off the Garchomp. With only Hydreigon and Aegislash in back, I was able to confidently KO Hydreigon and from there I was guaranteed victory outside of Megahorn’ing my Abomasnow.

2-0

In Conclusion

And that was my tournament! Prior to this event, my only Premier performance worth noting was a Top 8 at BC Regionals in 2013. I’ve been pretty busy for the past year with my Masters degree, and hadn’t really had much time for Pokemon in general (which has had me drop the TCG altogether). I hadn’t had the time to develop my own teams, so I’d just been playing a team Max or Randy made whenever I went to an event. It was refreshing to have a week or two before a tournament where I found some time to test and even get comfortable with a team concept of my own. There’s never been doubt in my mind that the best team you can play is one you’re comfortable with, and you’ve made yourself. It was really nice to find time to follow my own advice.

I think more than anything, this tournament was a good learning experience that I can build on for future events. As silly as it sounds, I think I’m most stoked on the fact that the Victoria crowd all did so well! Every one of us that competed managed to come away with a strong performance; we had 5 different people making Top cut over the two days! With the National Collegiate Pokemon Association being organized, and with some new members joining the UVic Pokemon Club this year, I think it’s just awesome that we’ve got so many of us feeling hyped about this past weekend. It’s going to generate a great atmosphere in the club for weeks to come, and there’s nothing better for a community than to have everyone excited and hungry for more!

I’m really looking forward to how we develop as a VGC community over the next few months, and this past weekend is planting the perfect seed. So stoked.

Cheers,

Crawdaunt out

p.s. Murray, it was totally the shirt.

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