Silenced: 2015 Worlds Retrospective

Hello hat lovers!

I was originally not planning to write a post on worlds given how poorly I did, but I figured it might be good to still do one, except more as a reflection on the experience than an actual report. I may or may not have also been encouraged by Mark to write this, but I think he just likes torturing me by making me look up an article picture for Gardevoir, given that this is now the third Gardevoir team I’ve posted here. I guess if there’s anything you can learn from a post where the author went 2-5 is that you really should not look up images of Gardevoir.

I spent much of July out of the country and thus unable to practice and team build, and once I did have time, I took the worst possible approach you can have when trying to build a team: I kept forcing myself to use completely unfamiliar team ideas, and while they may be effective in the future, it really should not have been my approach given how crunched I was for time. It was only a few days before I had to fly out for Boston that I decided that I would simply use my Nationals team out of familiarity, regardless of the fact that I published the team on NuggetBridge and it was an archetype that everyone was very familiar with. I made some changes, or at least tried to, but realized that I was underpracticed with the differences from my Nationals team and ended up abandoning much of the alterations that I made. In the end the changes were so minute that I may as well have been using the exact same thing. Daichi “Scar” Kumabe, who finished 6th at the event, published his version of the team, and the only non Japanese player in top cut of Worlds, Lajos Kowalewski Woltersdorf, used Gardevoir as well and as far as I know will also be writing a report in the near future. I encourage you to read those! Gardevoir / Amoonguss is far and away my favorite archetype to use in this format, as the structure of the team with Thunder Wave and Trick Room is something that I’ve tried to emulate (though unsuccessfully so far…) with other teams I’ve been building. Gardevoir is truly one of the best Trick Room setters in the game because most other Trick Room setters focus on supporting other Pokemon, whereas Gardevoir is one that can dish out big damage on its own.

I have big ideas for future articles so stay tuned for those! In the meantime, enjoy my 2-5 report.

The Team

Gardevoir @ Gardevoirite
Ability: Trace
EVs: 212 HP / 4 Def / 252 SAtk / 4SDef / 36 Spd
Modest Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Psyshock
– Trick Room
– Protect

This is virtually the same Gardevoir set from Nationals, but I shifted 8 EVs from HP to 4 in each defense because someone who might possibly be a new author for VGC With Hats pointed out to me that this increases its overall bulk slighty. I unlike most people still prefer Psyshock over Psychic, and it’s a move that has greater merit now that Maranga Berry Milotic is becoming more popular. A change I would make though is make Gardevoir bulkier than it currently is. I used max special attack because with a weaker build I would often leave Pokemon with a sliver of HP and hate the fact that I could have prevented that, but it may be more beneficial for Gardevoir to not be as frail, even though it already has heavy HP investment.

Amoonguss @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 148 Def / 108 SDef
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spd
– Giga Drain
– Spore
– Rage Powder
– Protect

Completely unchanged from Nationals. I’m surprised at how well Amoonguss did during Worlds because I don’t find it a particularly difficult Pokemon to prepare for, but regardless, Amoonguss is a great partner for Gardevoir, and it is an easy fit on this team archetype.

Heatran @ Life Orb
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
Timid Nature
– Heat Wave
– Overheat
– Earth Power
– Protect

Replacing Flash Cannon for Overheat is the only real change I made from Nationals. Aegislash gives this team issues, more than Fairies, and I needed a way to OHKO it as opposed to just relying on Taunt and Swagger. On Sunday during Worlds weekend, Max and I woke up incredibly early for some reason and decided we’d play on Showdown. We swapped Heatran for Entei and it was a change that worked out beautifully. I’m a big fan of Heatran but Entei is a good option on this team too.

Scrafty @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SDef
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spd
– Fake Out
– Drain Punch
– Knock Off
– Super Fang

Unchanged from Nationals. Mark will be disappointed to hear that I didn’t actually end up using Foul Play over Drain Punch, and while I think Foul Play is an excellent option on Scrafty, I didn’t feel that I had enough practice with it and I would probably use it over Super Fang and not Drain Punch. Scrafty is fantastic in its ability to support Gardevoir with Fake Out / Super Fang, but this trait is something that may be a luxury rather than a necessity. It’s not actually a Pokemon that patches up any weaknesses this team has, and I would likely replace it if I were to use this team again. Scar and Lajo used Tyranitar and Hydreigon respectively so those two alternate Dark types are also good options for this team.

Landorus-T @ Choice Band
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 164 HP / 20 Atk / 4 Def / 68 SDef / 252 Spd
Jolly Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– U-Turn
– Superpower

Thundurus-I @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 244 HP / 12 Def / 4 SAtk / 180 SDef / 68 Spd
Calm Nature
– Thunderbolt
– Thunder Wave
– Taunt
– Swagger

The genies are exactly the same as from Nationals. I had meant to change their EV spreads, but when I running calcs I realized that I wanted to hit much of the same benchmarks I already had and I would have been making changes for the sake of doing so. I kept them as is out of familiarity. Possible changes I could make are training Landorus more in attack to OHKO 252/4 Heatran and the common 207 HP Kangaskhan, as well as making Thundurus speed creep opposing Jolly Landorus, which in turn out runs virtually all other Thundurus so I have a faster Taunt. However, I wanted my genies to be as bulky as they currently are, and I figured it’d be easier to work around not being able to OHKO certain Pokemon than use something I was unfamiliar with, and I really don’t like how frail Timid Thundurus is.

Day 2 of 2015 Worlds

I had a day 1 bye because of my Nationals finish.

I went a very disappointing 2-5 during worlds, but I still think there’s a good deal to learn from my experience, so this section is less of a war story but a lesson on how to avoid the mistakes I made. The common theme in my losses were simply playing far too aggressively at points and not recognizing what the most likely play was in any given situation. Risk aversion is something I’ve wanted to push a good deal in my play style, because I feel that it’s incredibly important to understand the fact that how good of a player you are isn’t decided by how many fancy predictions you can make. There are times (like in poor team matchups) where a more aggressive approach would be more beneficial in my opinion, but you have to ease off on the pedal eventually. I don’t fault how I approached my set versus Markus Stefan for this reason, because during Nationals being aggressive is how I won in top 4 versus Blake Hopper who used a similar team, but in Boston, I tried to make far too many reads even when it wasn’t really necessary. Unlike Blake in top 4, I also hadn’t played Markus before and had only seen a very limited amount of his games, so it was silly of me to pretend that I knew how he likes to play.

Understanding that if you are in a good position there isn’t a need to try to make hard reads, and in more neutral positions, your approach should be to understand the most likely play, the possible plays, and making sure you aren’t doing anything that will cause you to fall behind very quickly. For example, in turn 1 of game 2 versus Markus I left my Heatran in to get Earthquaked by his Landorus. I didn’t think Earthquake was his most likely play, but it was still a decision that was very possible, and it was inexplicable that I took that risk so early.

I also find it strange how I will perceive my wins when reliving them. I am still giddy about how I played in game 3 of top 4 versus Blake at Nationals, and how I played round 1 of worlds versus Akatsuki Sakamoto. I made a lot of hard predictions in these games and they worked out, but as I’ve mentioned, fancy plays aren’t what makes a good player, and I have no reason to look back at those wins and think they were worth more than any other win I’ve had. They still amounted the same to your record. The streamed matches with the Japanese players had a lot of flack in part because they lacked flare to the casual viewer (compared to the last two US Nationals finals, for example). But personally, I am glad those supposed boring teams did so well. It really taught us that while it’s exciting to be talked about for a strange Pokemon you did well with, or for a flashy prediction you made, in the end, you will be remembered only for your success. You are doing something wrong if your decisions aren’t made with winning in mind. How much does anyone remember how Ray Rizzo won worlds in three consecutive years? The teams he used, how he played in his wins? No? This is in part because it doesn’t matter. He won. Do that, and you’ll have far more to talk about than when you used Butterfree to top cut a regional.

Overall, I was disappointed by my performance, less so with my record, but how poorly I played in my losses. I’m disappointed but not upset, however, because I understand how easy it is to get humbled in such a competitive environment, and there were very many high level players in Boston that did as poorly or worse than I did. Overall, worlds was an amazing experience personally and a good one to learn from as a competitive player. My season as a whole was unbelievably more successful than I could have imagined heading into the year, so I will head into this next one with greater expectations and with a greater understanding of what it takes to be an elite level player.

Fun tidbits: After playing more games than anyone during Nationals, at worlds, none of my sets went to three games. I also faced players from five different countries, though disappointingly I wasn’t matched with a single North American. Lastly, I played Sejun Park. I played Sejun Park! Even though I lost, that was easily the highlight of my Worlds tournament.

Round 1:  Akatsuki Sakamoto (2-0W) 

For two turns in game 1, I attacked with Gardevoir in front of his Ferrothorn under Trick Room while he tried to Leech Seed my Scrafty. I talked a little about risk aversion earlier on, and there’s a chance I would not have done this again even if it worked out. But also understanding general player tendencies is part of being successful. People don’t generally play Ferrothorn very offensively and instead choose to win with it by stalling with Leech Seed, and knowing this allowed me to attack freely with Gardevoir while Ferrothorn was on the field.

Round 2: flag_korea Sejun Park (2-0L)

Sejun used Eviolite Monferno! Sejun and I had similar teams. Sadly, for as exciting as it was to play Sejun, the set itself was really uninteresting. There wasn’t too much that I remember happening apart from blindly assuming his Aegislash didn’t have Shadow Sneak and that his Gardevoir didn’t have HP Ground, mistakes that cost me both games.

Round 3: flag_spain Alejandro Gomez (2-0L)

“Pokealex” is my opponent from worlds that I’ve encountered previously, having played him in the NPA last year and during a NuggetBridge live tournament. I had won all of those games, but when it mattered most, I lost fairly convincingly. The team matchup was iffy and I got seriously outplayed in this set. My opponent was also apologetic for really meaningless hax like Amoonguss getting paralyzed from Thunderbolt which I found amusing.

Round 4: flag_germany Markus Stefan (2-0L)

I touched on this previously, but I attribute this loss to awful playing on my part. I did like this matchup though because Markus’ team (the same that he used to win German Nationals with), or variants of it, was something I tested heavily in my worlds practice. Markus and I also had a rematch in the NPA.

Round 5: flag_peru Henry Laura (2-0L)

Sad to say, but I remember nothing from this set, which is strange because I remember really obscure details in just about every single Premier Challenge game I’ve played in. All I remember was that after I lost, Henry asked for my autograph, which was flattering but also amusing because he had just beaten me to drop me to 1-4.

Round 6:  Yuya Tada (2-0L)

We were moved to one of the side TVs and as far as I can tell, Yuya and I were on the NicoNico stream. This team was really, really weird, and I had no idea what moves he had on a lot of his Pokemon, which made approaching this set difficult. I don’t remember much about how I lost apart from him never using Protect when I expected him to and watching in awe as my Heatran got bopped by Thundurus-T’s Focus Blast in game 2. Strange, because on the previous day, I had a list of teams from the day 1 competitors but foolishly never reviewed them. I definitely should have known about a lot of the moves he had. Also, in addition to winning the BC Invitational and winning my first worlds set 2-0, I had won twelve straight games in invite-exclusive tournaments. Then I lost ten straight games!

Round 7: flag_korea Choi Jeong Kyu (2-0W)

The lowest table! This hadn’t happened since the Seattle Regional PC, the most forgettable tournament I’ve ever had. A combination of paralysis luck and my opponent’s lack of answers to Heatran made this a quick win (he was forced to bring Terrakion, a Pokemon I have numerous answers for). There’s something enjoyable about watching Heatran 2HKO Latios and Charizard with Flash Fire, Life Orb, and Sun boosted Heat Waves.


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