Salutations hat lovers, R Apha Bagelbagel here!
I recently competed in back to back Premier Challenges and earned my first tournament win on the second day. The first day wasn’t too shabby either as I picked up a second place finish, and both results knocked off half of the hilarious amount of top four finishes I have on my best finish limit.
The team I used is the exact same as I’ve been using since Oregon regional. While my laziness and lack of motivation to build new teams is definitely a factor in why I’ve used this team exclusively for over two months now, I greatly value team familiarity and overall team quality more than having surprise sets. I told myself after Oregon that this team wouldn’t work locally anymore after I published it on NuggetBridge, but after stringing together solid performances at PCs in March, I was reassured that even if my opponents knew everything about what I had, they still needed to outplay me to win, and I figured I had to trust my own ability to net results more than any other factor. There’s also the fact that some of my opponents hadn’t read my report, which works in my favor.
Elmo (Politoed) (F) @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
– Hydro Pump
– Ice Beam
– Rain Dance
The only drastic change since Oregon. I realized that a bulky support Politoed didn’t fit my team and play style very well, so I switched over to a Choice Scarf set to give me the ability to snipe Pokemon like Terrakion, Landorus, and a multitude of Fire types. I don’t use Rain Dance often but it’s not like Politoed has very many options it can run anyway, and it can help it weather wars should I ever decide to run an aggro offensive rain mode. Hydro Pump, as unreliable as it is, is needed because Politoed is pitifully weak and Scald is unable to OHKO Pokemon like Charizard and Heatran even in rain.
Grapes? (Ludicolo) (M) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 108 HP / 252 SAtk / 148 Spd
– Fake Out
– Giga Drain
– Ice Beam
The least changed member from when I’ve built this team. The EVs could be a lot better, but I’ve never found any useful baselines so I stuck with this bland spread. 148 speed allows me to get the jump on Adamant Scarf Landorus-T when my speed is doubled, as well as positive natured base 80s at +1.
Terrakion @ Lum Berry / Focus Sash
EVs: 4 Def / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
– Close Combat
– Rock Slide
– Stone Edge
The only change I made between the two tournaments is Terrakion’s item. I realized that with the popularity of Lum Berry on Terrakion, people no longer bother to status it, so I chose the next best item in Focus Sash. Despite having never tested it the change worked out in my favor as Terrakion was never hit with a status move, but it was able to survive a plethora of attacks that would have normally OHKOed it. Stone Edge is needed to bypass Wide Guard, but more importantly, OHKO Thundurus-I before it can paralyze my entire team.
Oppenheimer (Hydreigon) (M) @ Choice Specs
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
– Draco Meteor
– Dark Pulse
– Earth Power
Very vanilla Hydreigon set. I don’t honestly think a 4/252/252 spread is very good on a Pokemon like Hydreigon, but I used it anyway because I was never able to find anything better.
Metagross @ Metagrossite
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 HP / 36 Atk / 4 Def / 36 SDef / 180 Spd
– Iron Head
– Zen Headbutt
Not unlike most megas, Metagross continues to be the star of the show with its fantastic all around traits. Substitute is still very effective even when people know I have it, though I’ve been more cautious in assuming it can outright win me games with its surprise factor. I use Adamant over the more common Jolly nature because on this team I see no value in outspeeding Terrakion when the rest of the team already hard counters it anyway. Terrakion is also arguably the only threat whose speed stat lies in between Adamant and Jolly Mega Metagross’
such toge (Togekiss) (M) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Def / 4 SAtk / 60 SDef / 76 Spd
– Air Slash
– Follow Me
Despite the comic relief it brings as the not-so-official Pokemon of the Canadian metagame, in my opinion Togekiss is legitimately one of the best and most underplayed Pokemon in the format. Redirection is an unheralded tool with countless benefits, and while its five weaknesses set it back some, Togekiss has excellently distributed stats that give it great bulk and more speed and power than most other support Pokemon. Tailwind also glues together the duo of Hydreigon + Metagross, and of course, all three Pokemon have moves that can flinch. The EV spread allows me to survive a Life Orb Iron Head from Bisharp and speed creep Rotom, and the rest was dumped into SDef.
Friday, April 3rd Premier Challenge
I’ll keep the matchups to just top cut games so this doesn’t drag on for too long. At the end of swiss there was some commotion and a delay with a security guard needing to talk to our TOs about whether or not we were actually given permission to use the building outside of school hours. Thankfully everything was settled and we were allowed to stay and continue top cut. Also, this was the first time I had finished swiss as the x-0, and while swiss standings definitely hold no value once top cut starts, I thought it was a neat little accomplishment.
Top 8: Mark Hanson
For the second tournament in a row I have to face one of the vgcwithhats founders in the first round of cut, and as soon as I learn that Mark was still using the team he and Max had at Oregon, I really doubted my chances at proceeding in the tournament. Lets just say I really, really hate opposing Metagross and Thunder Wave Rotom-W.
In game 1, we thankfully didn’t have another stall fest like the last time we played in cut, and the match went fairly smoothly. Mark ended up paralyzing three of my Pokemon but I was able to limit the damage that that would do and won. Game 2 was much of the same, except it was Mark that maintained the advantage as the game progressed. Another close game, and it was interesting that he lead the same way and brought the same back two Pokemon despite losing game 1. Game three, unlike the previous two games, was one of the most absurd games I’ve ever played at a tournament. To begin with, I only brought rain mode in the first two games to counter his Landorus, and in doing that in conjunction with him not choosing Landorus to begin with in the first two games, I thought I gave myself as big of a team advantage as I could. With all that said, Mark brought Landorus in game 3 anyway, and after falling behind 4-2 with only Togekiss and Metagross to take on his own Metagross, I was all but done, as it seemed. And yet I won anyway. Landorus and Rotom-W were weakened before it got to the late game, and those went down with minimal disturbance, though my Metagross was now at -1. I was able to set up Tailwind twice in the late game and it took five attacks and four flinches before we ended in a Metagross mirror, with mine at significantly more HP than his. For some reason I thought it’d be a good idea to set up a Substitute, which did little to improve my position but I sacrificed a precious 46 HP. The Sub was broken with a crit (because why wouldn’t it in a game like this?) and our Metagross were both virtually at zero HP, and whoever won the speed tie wins the game. All in all I was able to down a bulky Mega Metagross with only Air Slash and Iron Head as my attacking options. I won game 3, a game I had no business even having a chance in, and I was saved by the flinching capabilities with this team.
Top 4: Hongyu Zhu
I faced Hongyu in swiss and won thanks in large part to Terrakion, so I figured it’d be a good idea to bring it in this set. I also brought rain mode in all three games to counter his two Fire types and Landorus. Turn 1 of game 1 he reveals that his Heatran is Choice Scarf and OHKOes my Terrakion. I did know his Heatran had that item after Randy told me earlier in the day, but I somehow forgot once the game actually started. Even though I lost what I thought was an important Pokemon, I was still able to win because he brought the three Pokemon he had that was very vunerable to rain. Once again in game 2, I’m very reckless in how I play Terrakion and let it get OHKOed on turn 1, but this time, Hongyu is able to capitalize on an early lead and wins the game because I no longer had enough switch options to win the weather war. In game 3 I continue a very bad pattern of letting Terrakion go down early, however this time, it was at least able to take Breloom down with it. I was able to burn Thundurus, which was very helpful in executing my plan of KOing it and locking down his Heatran + Charizard with Politoed. I win game 3 and move on to the finals!
It’s interesting to talk about the Pokemon selections we made in this set. I should have clued in to Hongyu’s aggressive targeting of Hydreigon during our swiss match that that was a Pokemon I should have brought for all three games in this best of three. I only brought it in game 3, and while I didn’t necessarily think it was a bad option in the previous two games, I wasn’t able to properly assess exactly what four Pokemon I needed to give me the best chance at winning this set. I also never brought Togekiss, which I found very strange given how I play this team. Hongyu is someone who likes to make aggressive reads (even during team preview, as evident by his decision to bring Heatran in all three games), so I figured he likely wasn’t overly worried about the threat of rain even if his team was a little weak to it. I won the set, but losses aren’t the only results you can learn from. I should have brought rain + Terrakion + Hydreigon in all three games.
Finals: Jason Wynja
For the sake of my sanity I refuse to rewatch this set, so my recollection of what happened will be really fuzzy. So, yeah, I may have spoiled it, but I lost this set. Like my top 8 and top 4 matches, I won game 1, but this time, Jason was able to adjust and took home his third PC win of the season. In game 2 my Togekiss was frozen with a double Ice Beam, and though it’d be way too easy to blame the loss on hax, I remember still being in a decent position but didn’t make the best plays I could to win the game. Game 3 is hax free from what I remember, and I don’t remember exactly what I did wrong, but I do remember being outpredicted at certain points which did me in. I was pretty hard on myself for how I played in this set, though realistically speaking, there’s a reason why I’m 0-3 against Jason in top cut this season and finishing second isn’t much to really complain about.
Saturday, April 4th Premier Challenge
The only change I made to the team, as previously mentioned, was Terrakion’s item. I started off 4-0 before losing to Murray in the last round of swiss, but still entered cut as the top seed, which was neat. Strangely I played Jason and Rushan back to back in swiss for the second day in a row and third time this season.
Top 8: Wesley Warthe-Anderson
The first thing I notice with Wesley’s team is LieLoom, so I plan out aggressively countering that lead and figured Terrakion and Togekiss were probably my best options. Thankfully, he did end up leading as expected. After a double Protect on my end, I redirect the Encore from Liepard and KO it with a Close Combat. Togekiss was put to sleep in the process, but given how he brought in Dragonite I figured I could burn sleep turns pretty easily since neither of his Pokemon could really threaten Togekiss. I get a lucky first turn wake, and from there I win the game cleanly. In game 2 I figured he wouldn’t lead the same again and I assessed that Hydreigon + Togekiss covered the rest of his team well. He leads with Metagross and Dragonite, and while a Protect from Metagross seems obvious, I Dark Pulse into it anyway because Metagross is a massive threat to my team and I’d be more than happy to take a free KO on it. Thanfully he doesn’t Protect, and while he did set up a Tailwind and his Dragonite picks up a Weakness Policy boost along the way, I’m able to maneuver around those to win the set.
Top 4: Toki Amiba
This match was streamed, which you can watch here. Before this battle I was winless on stream this season, so I’d be more than happy to break that streak here!
Turn one of game one begins with me seemingly going for flinch hax on the Aegislash, though honestly, I was merely going for chip damage to knock it down into Dark Pulse range from Hydreigon, and this was the safest way I could do it without taking a lot of damage in return. The game continues on as any normal battle would until I’m left in an awkward end game vs Lopunny and Aegislash with only Togekiss left. Strangely, his Lopunny only seems to have Low Kick as an attacking move, and Togekiss proceeds to do Togekiss things by flinching Aegislash three times until it goes down, and from there, Togekiss is able to KO the Lopunny for the win. Toki told me after the set that he had After You on Lopunny which he strangely never used to win game 1. Game 2 I continue to ignore Milotic for much of the game because it wasn’t threatening much damage and focus on weakening the Aegislash so I have more options with Hydreigon. Towards the end he willingly Earthquakes his own Milotic for the KO after I get a critical hit on it with Zen Headbutt, and with Tailwind still up, I’m able to KO the Lopunny with Zen Headbutt and Landorus-T with Ice Beam for the win.
I’d like to address the flinching as well because that’s something that some people apparently saw as a cheap tactic: I’m just using the options I have available! In the end of game 1 I had no other choice. I built the team by focusing on Pokemon that synergize well together both offensively and defensively, and out of pure coincidence, I happen to have a lot of flinching moves that can often steal me wins. It’s unfortunate how Pokemon can be this way sometimes but I don’t think anyone would complain about being lucky.
So now I’m in the finals for the second straight day, guaranteeing me 6 more CP! Jason was also in top 4, and had he won, we would have squared off in the finals for the second straight day and the third time this season. I thought it would have been fun to have a rematch with him, but according to the fun-but-meaningless-narratives I should have been rooting for Hongyu to win, given the streaks and all.
Finals: Hongyu Zhu
This match was also streamed, so click here to watch it!
Unlike my top 4 match this set went to a game 3 so I’ll simply talk about my thought process behind my decisions. In game 2, Hongyu kept switching back and forth between his Rocky Helmet Amoonguss and Tyranitar to control my Metagross. It seems silly of me to continuously “fall” for that trick, and though it was painfully obvious to me what he was doing, I never bothered to predict because I was so far ahead in that game. Even if I misjudged on literally every single one of those switches (which I did), I figured I would still win the game (which I did). However, if he got a little too cute with overpredicting, I could take advantage of his mistake and KO either Tyranitar or Amoonguss. In game 3 I was surprised that Hongyu lead Gardevoir + Amoonguss once again given how badly that lead loses to Metagross. Once Amoonguss goes down I carefully stall out Trick Room and let my end game come down to Terrakion + Metagross. This was dangerous because he could have had Landorus in the back, but if he did, I figured there wasn’t much I could have done about it, and I’d be better off just assuming he didn’t bring Landorus. Thankfully his last Pokemon was Heatran, and my two Pokemon were able to close out the game.
And with that, I take home my first Premier Challenge win! It’s only one win and I realize that it will definitely get lost in the shuffle of all the tournaments we’ve had, especially since there are now several players who have multiple wins, but I was definitely still excited over winning that first one after so many close attempts. Most importantly, my two finals appearances puts me at a solid 196 CP, which means I now likely only need two top 32 finishes at two regionals to qualify for a nationals stipend.