Hello hat lovers!
This past weekend I was able to win the BC Invitational, a tournament that we detailed here. This was a tournament that I had been looking forward to for quite some time, and despite not being awarded any CP and the attendance being a little small compared to the amount of people that earned an invite, this was quite easily the most excited I’ve been over a tournament performance. The $350 prize for winning was quite nice, especially after missing out on a Nationals stipend, but the greater satisfaction was probably winning a tournament that was invite exclusive. I also managed to go 10-0 the entire tournament, winning five straight best-of-three sets without dropping a single game in those match ups.
I immediately focused on team building for the BC Invitational when I got home from the Victoria PCs two weeks ago. Because I had to contact a decent numbers when we wrote the preview for the tournament, I had a strong sense of who would be playing, so Kelvin Koon and I put together a spreadsheet of what each of the attendees would be likely to use in this tournament. There were some players whose teams I didn’t get a good sense of, though. One of them was Wesley because I know he has been using different Pokemon recently, but out of pure luck Kelvin ran into him on BattleSpot and saw that he was still using his Seattle Regionals team, so I figured that he would also use that for the Invitational. Based on some of the teams Kelvin and I knew would be present at the tournament I assessed that the Gardevoir-Amoonguss team structure would do very well if I familiarized myself with it more. Its match up versus Rushan’s GastroKing team was especially favorable, and his team was one that I knew I had to pay special attention to because of how easy it is to lose to it if you’re unprepared. To give some history to the team idea, I first learned of it from Lajo, Ray, Sohaib Mufti, and Hongyu, and Luis Canseco’s (someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting during regionals) run at Seattle and Kansas with it made me realize that it’s an even better team than I thought it was. I adopted some of their more interesting techs and put my own personal flair to it, then took it to the tournament.
Oh, also, make sure to check out the stream archive of the tournament! A good portion of the battles were split because of the spotty wifi at the venue, but we were able to cleanly stream the later battles, including the Grand Finals.
Gardevoir @ Gardevoirite
EVs: 252 HP / 212 SAtk / 44 Spd
– Hyper Voice
– Trick Room
Sohaib had been using Trick Room Mega Gardevoir back in XY BattleSpot, and I admittedly made fun of him for it back then because I thought it was silly to use Trick Room on a Pokemon with 100 base speed. I obviously couldn’t be more wrong on this. While the idea of Mega Gardevoir using Trick Room may seem strange, its largely middling speed benefits from Trick Room greatly because it can turn negative matchups versus offensive Pokemon like Landorus-T and Salamence into a positive one, and Gardevoir largely fares well versus defensive Pokemon like Cresselia already due its raw power allowing it to win damage trade-offs. Trick Room was especially beneficial for Scrafty and Amoonguss, as they could either Super Fang or Spore targets quickly to support a Gardevoir sweep. I didn’t get to use Trick Room often during the tournament because 4/5 of my opponents also used Trick Room teams, but this was one of the attributes the team had: it fares just fine versus opposing Trick Room, but against more offensive teams, Trick Room is highly disruptive. I even had the option to reverse my opponent’s Trick Room if I wanted to, though I never did this in the tournament. I chose Psyshock over the more powerful Psychic because they’re both only 2HKOes on Pokemon like Mega Venusaur and Amoonguss anyway, but Psyshock allows me to bypass Assault Vest and the special bulk of Pokemon like Sylveon and Milotic. The EV spread is fairly simple. The speed is there to heavily speed creep Bisharp (and it allows Gardevoir to out run Rushan’s Landorus, in case he instead wanted to use his Charizard team), and I mostly emphasized general bulk. I wasn’t a fan of the Bold Mega Gardevoir Ray used because I appreciate the power Gardevoir has when it has large investment in Special Attack.
Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
EVs: 244 HP / 212 Def / 52 SDef
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spd
– Giga Drain
– Rage Powder
After using Togekiss and Clefairy on my previous teams I’m really, really not a fan of Amoonguss as a redirector. Rage Powder is far inferior to Follow Me because of how easy it is to counter it with Safety Goggles, especially on Steel type Pokemon like Aegislash, as well as Grass types. This was one of the benefits that Follow Me has, in that it can disrupt cheesy strategies with Whimsicott. Amoonguss is incapable of doing this. However, on a team with Trick Room built around a Fairy type in Gardevoir, Amoonguss made far more sense than Togekiss or Clefairy. Amoonguss’ role was to Rage Powder attacks away as I set up Trick Room, then Spore things immediately to allow Hyper Voice to get free damage off. The set and EV spread are very cliche, though I wish I used more special bulk. Sylveon’s Hyper Voice weakened Amoonguss too easily, and some medium powered Fire and Flying type attacks would often KO Amoonguss even when it’s fairly healthy. The EV spread was intended to survive a Zen Headbutt from 252 Atk Jolly Mega Metagross and have as much special bulk as possible. I thought this benchmark would be important because the seeding structure of the tournament could have had me facing Dave Powell in the first round, someone I knew who would use Metagross. In the end I never played Dave (or anyone with a Metagross), so the EV spread was largely ineffective.
Heatran @ Life Orb
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
– Heat Wave
– Earth Power
I swear I’m not crazy for using Timid Heatran on a Trick Room team! I realized that with a slower Heatran, Breloom and Bisharp gave the team a lot of issues, so the thought behind Timid was that it’s easier for me to set up situations where Trick Room isn’t up rather than have it up, and this allowed me to handle Breloom and Bisharp better. The biggest drawbacks to this is that Sylveon will move before Heatran in Trick Room and I can’t use a bulkier build, which I would have liked to do. The speed did come in handy during the tournament though, as outside of Trick Room, Heatran was able to outrun Rushan’s Kangaskhan and Randy’s Bisharp. Also, even a Timid Heatran is slow enough to be able to handle Pokemon like Landorus-T and Kangaskhan in Trick Room. Heatran is on the team largely because of its offensive synergy with Gardevoir, and it provided the team with another middling speed Pokemon with a strong spread move.
Scrafty @ Assault Vest
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SDef
IVs: 0 Spd
– Fake Out
– Drain Punch
– Knock Off
– Super Fang
This set was entirely a Ray Rizzo creation and it’s one that I’ve become a big fan of despite not being too keen on Scrafty in that past. I’ve realized from using this team that Scrafty is not a Pokemon that hits very hard to begin with, so using a large investment in attack was unnecessary, and instead I greatly favored maximum bulk in order to support the rest of team. In general, Scrafty was on the team for Fake Out and Intimidate support, but under Trick Room, Super Fang was a very powerful tool to knock Pokemon down into KO range of Gardevoir’s Hyper Voice. Knock Off was especially valuable in a tournament that was exclusively BO3 as I could scout for items in game 1 and then use that information in the future. With minimum speed, Knock Off was also used in practice to catch Aegislash users off guard as I could underspeed and OHKO them in Blade Forme. I chose Assault Vest over another popular item like Lum Berry because much of the time I couldn’t care less if Scrafty was burned, because much of its offense came from using Super Fang, an attack that ignores stat drops.
Landorus-T @ Choice Band
EVs: 164 HP / 20 Atk / 4 Def / 68 SDef / 252 Spd
– Rock Slide
This spread and set is very similar to MajorBowman’s, though the idea of bulky Jolly Choice Band Landorus-T was one that I created separately with other people (which is strange because MajorBowman and I also thought of Substitute Metagross separately). It was fairly difficult to use a Choiced Landorus at times because I only have one Ground immune Pokemon in Rotom, especially because Rotom is the least used Pokemon on the team, but Choice Band is my favorite item on Landorus because it allows you to have a great mix of bulk, speed, and power. Landorus is on the team because it’s the best Pokemon in the game with Intimidate (and I would argue it’s the best Pokemon in the format, period), which helps Gardevoir and its paper thin physical defense immensely. The EV spread allows Landorus to survive a +1 Sucker Punch from LO Bisharp, survive special attacks like 100 SAtk Suicune’s Ice Beam that are normally trained to OHKO 4/0 Landorus, and OHKO Pokemon like Charizard and Kangaskhan that may be EVd to survive attacks from 252 Atk Scarf Landorus. Max speed is there so at the very least I’m at a speed tie versus other Jolly Landorus, and most importantly, scout for whether or not other Landorus are holding Choice Scarf.
Rotom-W @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 92 SAtk / 12 SDef / 148 Spd
– Hydro Pump
When I used this team initially it was supposed to function as a hybrid Trick Room team with Thunder Wave, but I replaced the move with the more common Will-O-Wisp because I found myself greatly preferring Trick Room as a means of speed control. I chose Rotom as my Electric type instead of Thundurus-I because I prefer Rotom’s survivability, as it’s more difficult to wear it down due to its sole weakness to Grass, a type typically featured on more defensive Pokemon. Rotom’s Water STAB was also useful for Pokemon like Heatran, which would otherwise give this team some issues. This spread is very outdated and I honestly don’t even know what the special attack is supposed to accomplish, as I brought Rotom so infrequently in my practice battles that I was never bothered to transfer my Calm one from my Y version. Though Rotom was largely a non factor in practice, during the tournament, having Will-O-Wisp support was invaluable in controlling Randy’s boosted Bisharp.
Round 1: Ivan Lan
Game 1: vs
This was the only game in the tournament that I was able to fully feature the power of Mega Gardevoir under Trick Room. Because Ivan didn’t have Milotic or Bisharp, I was able to harass his physical attackers with double Intimidate, which gave Gardevoir a lot of leeway to win this game for me.
Game 2: vs
I figured Ivan would bring Heatran here because of how much trouble Gardevoir gave him in the first game. However, I also thought he’d protect his Kangaskhan and Conkeldurr better than he did in the first game, so I foolishly brought Amoonguss instead of Rotom. This decision made handling his Heatran extremely difficult, as I had to rely on max sleep turns in order to win. His Heatran woke up after two turns of sleep; however, instead of choosing to KO my Gardevoir, he instead chose to Protect, a decision that cost him the game and set as Amoonguss finished off his Landorus, and once Trick Room expired, my Gardevoir would outspeed his Heatran for the KO.
Round 2: Leo Liu
Ivan and Leo are close friends, and they actually both ended up bringing the same team to this tournament. I can’t provide exact details in each game, because even as the person who won the set, the hax made this set unbearable to relive. Leo would miss every attack imaginable, get crit, flinched, and have it all happen at the worst times possible. There was a turn in this set where a crit Rock Slide would allow for a KO on his Thundurus, have his Heatran get flinched, and then have it get crit with a Drain Punch. He forfeited game 2 very early, a decision I did not agree with because my Gardevoir was weakened enough that his Conkeldurr would give me issues. I’m guessing he just got fed up with the hax in both games. While I’m confident that I would have won this set regardless, I definitely felt bad about the hax, especially because Leo told me he did not want to be paired against me. The last time I played against him I flinched his team endlessly and won because of it. In this set though I learned that Thundurus had Chesto Berry, which I thought was a very cool tech.
Round 3: Rushan Shekar
This set, and both my sets that followed, were on stream. Despite Rushan having a favorable personal record against me, I was definitely glad to have been paired against him because he was the first person I kept in mind when team building. Murray on commentary said he thought Rushan had the team matchup advantage, but I disagree because I thought Rushan had a severe lack of options against Scrafty and Amoonguss. Rushan even admitted after the tournament that Amonguss gave his team issues.
Game 1: vs
I led double Intimidate to neutralize Kangaskhan, then immediately switched to Amoonguss to abuse Spore as he set up Trick Room. On commentary Murray and Cor acknowledged that this game was very long due to my endless switching, which I thought was fairly amusing because I definitely knew heading into this set that I would be switching a lot. I did this for multiple reasons. One was to control board position in order to limit his offense under Trick Room, to harass Kangaskhan with Intimidate and Rocky Helmet, heal Amoonguss due to Regenerator, and lastly, to bait him into using Psychic on Scrafty and Gyro Ball onto my Rocky Helmet Amoonguss. At one point however I forgot that Rushan changed his Slowking’s item to Lum Berry, so there was a turn where I amusingly Spored it, burned its Lum Berry, then reduced my own Knock Off base power because of it. Rushan was able to get a double Protect with Ferrothorn that could have turned this into a stall war of Grass types, but thankfully I weakened it enough to a point where Giga Drain of all things would finish it off.
Game 2: vs
Here I figured he would bring Chandelure to have an extra option against Amoonguss. Turn 1 couldn’t have gone any better as I baited him into using Fake Out onto Scrafty as I switched it to Amoonguss for Rocky Helmet. However, on turn 2, I got way too cute with trying to make unnecessary reads. I thought he’d switch Kangaskhan fearing Rocky Helmet + Hyper Voice, and also because his Kangaskhan was Intimidated. I didn’t Rage Powder and instead used Spore, and I let Gardevoir go down too quickly to a Helping Hand boosted Return. However, because his Kangaskhan was now asleep and Clefairy exerted zero offensive pressure, I won the game because Heatran was able to have a field day versus sleeping Pokemon.
Winners Finals: Hongyu Zhu
I’m sure this set was entertaining to watch because of how often the game advantage swung in both directions, but I swear playing this set gave me three heart attacks. Hongyu wasn’t using a similar team structure to mine like I expected him to (he informed me before that Gardevoir + Amoonguss was his team), so maybe I wasn’t as prepared for what he’d bring as I thought. This was the fifth time this season I’ve played him in a BO3, and each set prior had gone to three games. I definitely expected this set to be difficult, just as all our games seem to be.
Game 1: vs
In the end game, I had a fully healthy Gardevoir and Scrafty vs his Heatran at ~30% and Mega Salamence at ~60%. Hongyu told me afterwards that he thought that this game ended on a 50/50 guessing game, because if he uses Double Edge on my Gardevoir and I Protect, I win, but if he uses Double Edge on Scrafty and I Protect with Gardevoir, I lose. However, I definitely do not agree with the assertion that it was a 50/50, and I think in general people use that term too freely. I fully expected him to attack Gardevoir with Salamence because I didn’t think he could afford to do anything else. If he “guesses” wrong and Gardevoir Protects, he can still very well win the game because even after the Double Edge recoil he’d take to KO Gardevoir the next turn, Scrafty might still not be able to KO Salamence, and he can launch another Double Edge to win the game. However, if he uses Double Edge on Scrafty and I use Hyper Voice, he outright loses. In the end we were both surprised that Gardevoir was capable of surviving a Double Edge from 4 Atk Salamence and I KO it with Hyper Voice (Knock Off we learned afterwards wouldn’t KO Salamence from 37 HP, if he was able to KO Gardevoir). So, all things considered, the game came down to a 7/8 damage roll on Gardevoir and then a 5/8 roll on Scrafty, should Gardevoir go down. He had a 54.6875% chance of receiving both damage rolls, which I suppose is close enough to 50/50 that Hongyu was right in a way. Just not the way thought. Sorry for the mini rant but I thought I’d address the notion of 50/50 in Pokemon, which I think is a bit of a silly idea most of the time. (though to be fair, I think these situations can definitely exist with players that know each other very well, thus are aware of the possible odds and plays that they can both make, such is the case for me and Hongyu)
Game 2: vs
This game was nerve-racking. I fell behind 4-2 very quickly due to some very loud noises produced by his Salamence and Sylveon, but picking up the double KO put Hongyu in a position to fall behind again. I was surprised that Hyper Voice + Rock Slide didn’t KO his Sylveon at ~80%, but I flinched him with Rock Slide anyway. Had that flinch not happened he would have KOed both Gardevoir and Landorus and taken this set to a game 3. Hongyu ended up Swaggering my Landorus because he would have lost to Rock Slide had he done anything else, so while such a cheesy play really wasn’t good for my blood pressure, he did what he needed to do to win the game and I don’t blame him one bit for it. I was able to attack through confusion when it mattered most and I move onto the Grand Finals, guaranteeing myself at least $100!
Grand Finals: Randy Kwa
Randy had gone through a gauntlet to get to the finals, as he lost to Wesley round 1 and thus needed to play more games to continue his run. In the time he was playing three sets against Wesley, Rushan, and Hongyu, I was sitting and waiting for the result and had the opportunity to be better prepared than Randy was. I discussed in detail with Spurrific what I should do versus his possible leads, what I should bring in games 1 and 2, and in general how I should handle certain situations. Planning the route to victory proved difficult because Randy is a challenging player to outplay (it doesn’t matter how prepared I am with Pokemon choices if I get read on every turn), and his team was so difficult to play against that Justin affectionately referred to it as “Hard Reads: The Team”, but we both assessed certain things that would help me win. One, that Bisharp + Infernape was a very likely lead of his in game 1, and if I win game 1, he’d definitely lead Kangaskhan + Bisharp in game 2. I also had to find a way to minimize damage from turn 1 of any game because Randy has many options to punish you with things like Feint + Assurance (I didn’t know he switched Feint to Mach Punch for this tournament, though).
Game 1: vs
He did indeed lead Infernape + Bisharp to my Scrafty + Rotom, so I prioritized burning Bisharp right away. There were two turns in this game where I doubled into his Protect and where he doubled into my Protecting Pokemon’s ally, which was definitely frustrating. However, Randy was surprised that both my Rotom and Heatran were faster than his Bisharp, which allowed me to minimize the threat that it posed, then I set up Trick Room while he had Rotom and Salamence remaining. He forfeited from that position.
Game 2: vs
He did lead Kangaskhan + Bisharp as suspected, and while I was tempted to Fake Out something and launch a Hyper Voice, I’ve learned in practice that switching to Amoonguss is a far safer play. He doubled into the switching Amoonguss, and while I may have been unfortunately outplayed in theory, I was glad to have Amoonguss take damage in order to get crucial Rocky Helmet damage off on both his Pokemon. I pick up a double KO on the next turn and was able to find a way to beat the Infernape while minimizing damage and won versus a helpless Clefairy.
I was definitely the person most surprised at not only the fact that I won the BC Invitational, but that I did it without dropping a single game all tournament. I owe quite a bit of thanks to the RNG for the run, as who knows if I would have actually beaten Leo without hax, or if I would have beaten Hongyu with a little more deviation in the rolls. In the end, I’m definitely not complaining, and even with the luck I felt that I did everything I could in preparation to win this tournament. Big thanks to our organizers for putting the BC Invitational together, to Murray and Cor for handling the stream, and to everyone I’ve played in all the PCs we’ve had! The BC Invitational was a lot of fun and it’s been a good season for the local community overall.