Divine Bovine–Double Top 4 Seniors Worlds Report

Hey Cool Hat Boys!

This is a report on Carson Confer’s team that was piloted by Beau Berg and William Sepesi to Top 4 at the 2017 World Championships in the seniors division, and the tournament experience of the latter two players. For the ease of organization of content, William will write in standard text and Beau will write in italics for the warstory, and Carson will write in standard text for the section on team building and design. Finally, descriptions of each Pokemon as well as their roles and spreads will be written by all three.

Season Recap

My name is William Sepesi, and I’m a VGC player from Minnesota. Last year was my final year in the seniors division, and my second year overall. For those of you who don’t know me, and as a way to thank those who have helped me along the way, I’ll briefly recap my season as a whole. Over the course of the season, my crowning achievements were 1st/1st/4th/8th at Regionals. My first major event was the Dallas Regionals, where I used a team modified from the core Darrin Cooper(@NintenZero) suggested. After changing a few team members, I still needed to find a good set for Gastrodon. Carson suggested that I run Fissure on Gastrodon as an extra wincon and a way to speed up stall matches, and I jokingly suggested Groundium Z, not even knowing what the move’s power was. Carson ran some calcs and we realized that with a little investment, it would OHKO Tapu Koko, Alolan Muk, and Alolan Marowak. The team ended up being a perfect meta call for seniors, as it was one of the last tournaments before the AFK archetype became prominent in the division, allowing Gastrodon to play a much larger role and for me to win. At my next tournament, St. Louis, I was looking for a team that clicked, and I stumbled across the team that Rapha and Max used at their MSS to success(https://vgcwithhats.com/2017/02/19/omg-another-giant-rock-mss-2nd-and-t8-report/). I knew that seniors hadn’t had much exposure to the Volt Switch and Trick Room combo, and bulky Specs Tapu Koko also was new to many seniors. With some minor changes to fit the division’s meta, I won that Regional as well. My next event was Portland Regionals, where I got top 4 with a team I built myself. Then later on in the season Carson gave me Rocks, which I tested for a bit, then decided to use for the next few tournaments I had after Justin won Seattle with the same team(https://vgcwithhats.com/2017/08/17/rock-seattlement-1st-place-seattle-regional-report/). Using that team, I got second in the seniors IC that month, and then top 8 at Madison Regionals. Beau and I made some bad teambuilding calls before Nationals, and despite having good variants of SNACK-Chomp and Rain, we decided to use Rocks again. I hit some bad matchups, but I mostly played badly, resulting in both of us going x-3 and missing cut. This gave me the motivation I needed to find a strong team and put in the work I needed to play well with it.

If you couldn’t tell by the italics this is Beau Berg. Just like William, last year was my final year of competition in the Senior division. My pre-Worlds season isn’t nearly as exciting as his, but I’ll still go over a brief recap of the highlights. Fun fact: I haven’t won a major event since 2013. This season I attended three regionals, a few Chicago area locals, and two International Championships. My first tournament of the year was in the magical city of Ft. Wayne, where I placed second to Kylie Chua (@TheBetterChua). I had brought a pretty standard Big B team, ironically the first time I ever used the Xerneas/Groudon core. I kicked off the ‘17 ruleset in London, where I used a team featuring min speed Marowak and Waterium Z Pelipper. Huge thanks to Leonard Craft (@DaWoblefet) for helping me prepare last minute. I finished 11th at X-2, following a pretty disappointing last round of swiss. I didn’t get any CP but at least I got a cool hat and some booster packs, right? Two months later, I continued the trend of unpreparedness in St. Louis. I didn’t have a team until I was in line to register, and needless to say I placed pretty poorly. I used a variant of “Edu team” with Celesteela over Kartana and HP Fire Araquanid.

My next event was the Madison regional, a tournament I’ve attended every year since 2012. I placed second here to James Evans (@TheKingVillager), probably because I actually had a team more than a few days ahead of time. Rocks was a core I was comfortable with and felt I could play pretty optimally. As William outlined, we both opted to bring Rocks to the US International again. Great team, awful call. I ended the season with a total of exactly 500 CP.

Teambuilding Process

Hello everyone, it’s Carson. I built the team that William and Beau used to get Top 4 Worlds this year. The process for building it was pretty convoluted, but I will try to give it some structure. First, I’ll talk about where I started.

After Nationals, my friend Justin Burns (@JustMrBurns) brought up how he thought Koko Bulu Hariyama was really good, so I decided to test it. I threw an Arcanine on because I wanted Intimidate and something to beat Kartana, and then started trying a bunch of things out. Because no one wants to read a long list of only Pokemon names, here’s a photo of all my teams on Showdown before arriving at the first solid version of the team:

drafts

I originally thought a bulky steel type was necessary for the success of the team. It wasn’t. Having a steel type and Tapu Bulu often left me unable to bring both against Arcanine, so I decided that if I was going to run Bulu, I needed a lot of Arcanine hate. I tested Nihilego, Tapu Fini, Araquanid, and Mudsdale, but with the current version of the team they didn’t work. I eventually realized that they weren’t the problem: Hariyama was. It could have just been me, but it never accomplished much. It was useless against Lele, neutered by Arcanine, and needed either status or Fightinium to OHKO Porygon2. I still thought that Koko Bulu Arcanine Porygon2 was a strong core, however. I continued to try stuff out, and at the egging on of my friends gave Araquanid a second chance. It was amazing. It could switch into Arcanine, KO it, pressure Porygon2, and it also worked amazingly in and out of Trick Room. This led me into the perennial VGC conundrum: what to do with the last slot. I decided that the last slot’s main functions were to beat Koko and Arcanine. This leads into the second to last version of the team, Scarf Nihilego. Scarf Nihilego was nothing new, placing in the top 8 of US Nationals under the use of Nils Dunlop, but I thought it was still fairly strong, not to mention the bulky Nihilego bluff due to the presence of Bulu. I used this for a week or two, until I realized how badly I lost to Tapu Lele + Scarf Garchomp. I then looked through the list of Pokemon that beat both Arcanine and Tapu Koko while not losing to Lele or Scarf Garchomp and realized that the only Pokemon that did all of this well was Assault Vest Mudsdale. And so, the final draft of the team was born.

The Team

p2

Porygon2 @ Eviolite

Ability: Download

Level: 50

EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 148 SpD

Relaxed Nature

IVs: 0 Atk / 14 Spe

– Trick Room

– Ice Beam

– Toxic

– Recover

We used a fairly standard Porygon2, as simple was best in our case. We decided to use Toxic over Thunderbolt as we already had Tapu Koko for electric coverage, and Toxic provided a slower, bulkier mode to the team. A full bulk EV spread was chosen to maximize the longevity of Porygon2, and since Ice Beam’s main purpose was to deal with Garchomp who EVd to survive small amounts of SpAtt investment, none was needed on our set. 14 IVs in speed was to hit one speed point above our Araquanid to speed check. This middle of the line speed allowed us to outspeed slower Porygon2, and even some Celesteela, and launch a Toxic onto the former.

araq

Araquanid @ Waterium Z  

Ability: Water Bubble  

Level: 50  

EVs: 252 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 4 Spe  

Adamant Nature  

– Liquidation  

– Bug Bite  

– Substitute  

– Protect

Another simple set. Waterium Z allows Araquanid to do insane amounts of damage even when intimidated, especially with heavy EV investment. Bug Bite was primarily used to take advantage of the many pinch berry users in the meta, or even trade the berry on our Arcanine for health on Araquanid. It also cements Araquanid as a strong Snorlax counter. Substitute was chosen over a move like Wide Guard, as it aided in Toxic stall, and if set up at an opportune time, it would allow Araquanid to throw out powerful Liquidations with little fear of repercussion. The speed stat was chosen for a few reasons: outspeeding common Trick Room abusers, including Porygon2, and to not have a -speed nature to not be confused by biting Mago Berries.

koko

Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z  

Ability: Electric Surge  

Level: 50  

EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  

Timid Nature  

IVs: 0 Atk  

– Thunderbolt  

– Dazzling Gleam  

– Discharge  

– Protect

This marks the beginning of sets tailored for the matchups of the team. Electrium Z was originally chosen to synergize with Acid Spray Nihilego, but when Nihilego got phased out the set stayed the same. We still needed a fast mode to the team, and this set fulfilled our need. We chose the Timid nature to have a better matchup against other Tapu Koko, and to aid our Persian matchup. The only unorthodox part of the set is the choice of Discharge over a typical Volt Switch. On the original draft of the team we had Taunt to shut down certain Trick Room teams and the Porygon-Z and Smeargle combo. However, we realized that this wasn’t necessary, and we needed more answers for the Marowak and Gyarados combo, hence the choice of Discharge.

bulu

Tapu Bulu @ Figy Berry  

Ability: Grassy Surge  

Level: 50  

EVs: 252 HP / 92 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe  

Adamant Nature  

– Wood Hammer  

– Hidden Power [Fire]  

– Substitute  

– Protect

Tapu Bulu is the anchor of the team; providing an offensive threat that demands to be countered, defensive synergy with Grassy Terrain, and the ability to buy turns with Substitute and Protect. Wood Hammer, Substitute, and Protect are all obvious choices on Tapu Bulu–with Substitute being one of the most important as it allows a safe option to keep Tapu Bulu safe while gaining momentum–but HP Fire is something a little different. In testing, we realized the team had a weakness to Kartana if we let Arcanine or Tapu Koko get too low, especially in Grassy Terrain, so we wanted another answer. This also means we aren’t walled by it in the endgame. Our spread was originally much more bulk focused, but a few weeks out from Worlds we changed it to hit 115 speed, which we hoped would let us outspeed opposing Tapu Fini and win against them in an endgame scenario.

arc

Arcanine @ Mago Berry  

Ability: Intimidate  

Level: 50  

EVs: 244 HP / 92 Atk / 20 Def / 148 SpD / 4 Spe  

Adamant Nature  

– Flare Blitz  

– Extreme Speed  

– Helping Hand  

– Protect

Just like many other teams this year, Arcanine serves as a way to bring it all together. Due to so many strong physical threats this year, Intimidate is crucial to maximizing our bulk and preventing things like Kartana from tearing through the team. Helping Hand served as a key final move, as it allowed us to get KOs with moves that we normally wouldn’t, especially with the Z moves on the team. Lastly, Arcanine speed checks for our Tapu Bulu just like Porygon2 does for Araquanid.

muds

Mudsdale @ Assault Vest  

Ability: Stamina  

Level: 50  

EVs: 252 HP / 164 Atk / 4 Def / 84 SpD / 4 Spe

Adamant Nature  

– High Horsepower  

– Heavy Slam  

– Close Combat  

– Rock Tomb

Mudsdale, the solution to all the problem matchups. The original core had difficulty stopping Tapu Lele, Muk, and Metagross, especially when on the common TCGMAN and MetaMence cores. After testing Imprison Muk, a Metagross of our own with Rain Dance, and finally returning to Nihilego briefly, we settled on Assault Vest Mudsdale as it fulfilled what we needed as well as beating the two most common Pokemon in the format. Our EV spread was tailored to live Tapu Lele’s Shattered Psyche in Grassy Terrain and then retaliate with a Heavy Slam KO. The only other niche pick was Rock Tomb, which was another tech for the Gyarados Marowak matchup. If Gyarados was able to Dragon Dance at any time that Tapu Koko wasn’t on the field, it was a loss, so we needed a way to keep Gyarados from getting to +1 speed.

The Tournament

Beau Day 1

R1 vs Shu Harasaki [JP] (3-1) LL 

shu1

R2 vs Calon Stevens [GB] (2-3) WLW

calon

R3 vs Emma Cox [US] (1-4) WW

emma

R4 vs Cory Connor @CoryConnor206 [US] (2-3) WLW

thomas

This is an exact copy of the Carson St. Denis team a lot of Seniors at this event were running. We expected to run into it a lot, and adjusted our gameplan to one we thought was relatively successful. The matchup relies heavily on pressuring switches and playing proactively with Bulu and Arcanine. Most of the offensive pressure comes from the Araquanid, as the only resistance to its powerful Liquidation is the Tapu Fini. Game one went exactly to plan, and I took a clean victory. Game two, however, my opponent made excellent adjustments and tied the set at 1-1. In game three, I almost threw game in the earlier turns by Bug Biting the Tapu Fini, despite knowing for a fact that it held the item Choice Specs (I had even written it down in my notes beforehand). Don’t ask me why I went for that play. It was bad. But the tide turned when some turns later a lucky freeze on his Celesteela allowed me to make up the ground I had lost. I took the game quickly after, guaranteeing myself a spot in Day 2.

Beau Day 2

R1 vs Thomas Gianola [IT] (4-3) LWW

thomas

R2 vs Cedric DeRouchie @TheFloppyMudkip [US] (5-2) WLW

cedric

R3 vs Luca Ceribelli @CereeVGC [IT] (3-3) LWW

luca

R4 vs Jana Brahimi @JanaVGC [GB] (6-1) LWL

jana

The FAKEPMudsdale, or Edu Team, archetype is only two Pokemon different from the team we had brought. The near mirror creates an awkward matchup, but there is a distinct gameplan for both. It’s the kind of game that’s played out until one player makes a mistake, upon which their opponent will capitalize and take the game. Game one is a clean victory in favor of Jana. I take the second game in a similar fashion to tie the set 1-1. Game three of the series is probably the closest of my entire tournament. The match begins in an exact mirror, both players leading Porygon2 and Arcanine. Both Arcanines are switched out in favor of Mudsdale, and both Porygon2 end the turn badly poisoned.  I can’t remember exactly what happened after, but I’m sure you can imagine. We both make generally defensive plays until the game goes to time, where Jana wins the set after the judges finish their calculations. Waiting for the result was easily one of the most stressful moments of the day. GGs to one of the best players out there!

R5 vs Brendan Zheng @Babbytron [US] (3-4) WW

brendhan

Brendan Zheng was not a name I wanted to see on my pairings after my first loss of the day. I considered him to be my greatest competition at the tournament, and I knew that if I lost I’d have to win out my next three games. It was a very stressful position, especially when I saw in team preview that he was running a variation of the Metagross/Salamence core. I knew the gameplan for teams like this, but had never gotten a significant amount of practice in against them. And did I mention my match was on the side stream? Calming. But going into turn 1, I already like my positioning. He’s led Tapu Koko and Metagross into my Porygon2 and Mudsdale. At this point the only question is which he will switch out in favor of the Salamence. I don’t want to overextend so I recover Porygon2 and target the Tapu Koko with a High Horsepower. I predict correctly, healing off all damage dealt to Porygon2 and taking Tapu Koko down to around ten percent. This is where my memory gets foggy, but I’ll do my best to recall what happened. He switched the Tapu Koko out into Metagross and Bulldozes with Salamence in a play for positioning, but I punish with Ice Beam into Salamence and a High Horsepower into the boosted Metagross. The next turn he reveals Hydro Pump, useful information for me, and I learn that my Porygon2 is guaranteed to survive a +2 attack from the Metagross. I’ve lost a lot of momentum at this point, but with all of his Pokemon chipped so effectively there is nothing to stop a late game Tapu Koko sweep. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of game two beyond Brendan’s adjustment of Tapu Koko and Politoed. The game plays out similarly to the first game, and I take the set 2-0. GGs!

R6 vs Oliver Eskolin (@OweVGC) [FI] (5-2) LL

owe

R7 vs Gwen Edgar [US] (4-3) LWW

gwen

William Day 2

R1 vs Finn Cooper [AU] (3-4) WW

yuki

Sitting down for my first round, I was glad to see a simple FAKEPG team that I could warm up against. In game one, I followed the slower gameplan against FAKEPG, where using Toxic and maintaining a good position is key. Tapu Bulu is a major part of this matchup, as it makes a good bait for the opposing Arcanine, and beats the rest of the team–including Porygon2 with chip. It also increases the longevity of the team as a whole with Grassy Terrain, which adds up due to how much defensive play this matchup requires. Due to that, this matchup, like many others, takes a long time. Whenever I hit game 3 in matchups like this, it almost always goes to time.

R2 vs Taiki Okamoto [JP] (6-1) LL

taiki

Going into team preview I recognized that this would be an interesting matchup as I would need to rely on Arcanine and Tapu Koko a bit more than I wanted, and that Whimsicott could potentially have the Z move. In game one I remember losing a speed tie to his Tapu Koko, but then playing badly and dropping my win con. The next game I played around his Whimsicott lead for a few turns then got too invested in my own plan and got Z moved. The game still came down to a 0-1, but my opponent played really well, so I didn’t feel that bad about losing. I knew I needed to focus and try to keep winning if I wanted to make cut.

R3 vs Simone Bernardi (@SimomenceVGC) [IT] (1-6) WLW

simone

Drifblim and Tapu Lele is usually an easy matchup, but adding Nihilego and Gyarados was scary. Before worlds the three of us theoried out the Marowak/Gyarados/Nihilego team that we had seen on ladder and from some other seniors, and realized that leading the latter two gave us a really hard time because we didn’t know what Z move the Gyarados would be, or if the Nihilego would be scarf or not. Even when we did have info, it lead to a lot of 50/50s. Game 1 I lead Mudsdale and Tapu Koko to counter the Drifblim Tapu Lele lead, but he lead Nihilego and Gyarados instead. I protected my Tapu Koko in anticipation of a Sludge Bomb as Gyarados protected, but he went for a Dragon Dance instead. At that point I thought I choked game 1 already, but it turned out his Gyarados undersped my Tapu Koko even at +1, so I got my Thunderbolt off for a KO and proceeded to win the game. Game 2 I played much safer, but missed a crucial High Horsepower on Nihilego in an attempt to conceal that I had Heavy Slam. Game 3 came down to a series of 50/50s on the last few turns of Trick Room that I was able to call correctly, leading to my victory.

R4 vs Rikuto Noda [JP] (3-4) WW

rikuto

I was a little bit scared to see another Japanese player with a similar team to my only loss so far, but not having Whimsicott allowed me to follow my normal plan for this type of matchup. I won the St. Louis Regionals earlier in the year with the same six, so I understood how the team worked. I was able to use that in game one to safely position myself for an eventual 4-0. Game two was closer, but Toxic Porygon2, Araquanid and Tapu Bulu gave his team a hard time, allowing me to eventually win.

R5 vs Kylie Chua (@thebetterchua) [US] (5-2) LWW

kylie

I had reached point in the tournament where I only needed to win two more sets to make cut, and playing Kylie was not something I wanted to do to make it there. She is one of the most consistent seniors at Worlds, and very good player, so I was pretty scared going into this match. Seeing team preview, I knew that Mudsdale was key to the matchup, as it could hit 4/6 of her team super effectively, and beat Garchomp. My memory is pretty lacking about the details of this set, but I can describe some of the important moments. In game one, I lead Mudsdale and went for a Heavy Slam into her Tapu Lele early on as well as setting the Grassy Terrain. This is my normal plan to shut down Tapu Lele, but it lived with a healthy amount of HP remaining and then chunked my Mudsdale despite the terrain disadvantage. This clued me into it most likely being a bulky Choice Specs set, but I also incorrectly assumed it would be slower than my Tapu Bulu, which mattered later on. Not having Tapu Lele go down immediately was bad, as it was still able to threaten the rest of my team. For the next few turns I got outplayed, but then I got an Ice Beam freeze onto her Tapu Koko on a switch in, which put me back into the game. I had to play to my win con of it staying frozen for a few turns while I took out the partners, which I succeeded in doing so. However, later in the game I thought my low HP Tapu Bulu would outspeed her Tapu Lele, but it went down to a Psyshock instead, allowing her to win. In game two, I left both my main Celesteela counters on the bench, confident that she wouldn’t bring it. This worked out, and I was able to execute my gameplan of a slower paced Trick Room mode. This is where my memory gets fuzzy; I can’t remember if it was that if it was game 2 or game 3 where we both got lucky a few times. I remember getting an early game crit, but towards the end of the game I almost lost to getting flinched multiple times in a row by her Garchomp and not being able to set Trick Room. For game three, I thought she would bring Celesteela because of my lack of counters for it previously, so I brought Arcanine. I made this call correctly, as she lead Celesteela with Porygon2 as I lead my Porygon2 and Araquanid. Turn one I protected my Araquanid to not get KOd by a potential Air Slash as our Porygon2 used Toxic on each other and Celesteela tried to use Leech Seed against Araquanid. Her Celesteela went after my Porygon2, which speed checks for my Araquanid. She didn’t know that, so I was able to get a Substitute up as she used Toxic on that slot. Being faster than Celesteela also put me in a position where Liquidation into Hydro Vortex would KO without having to worry too much about her getting too much HP back with Leftovers. That good positioning gave me the early advantage I needed to draw out the game slowly while constantly maintaining good positioning. We hit round time just as I got into the position to take out the rest of her low health team, so luckily I was able to finish off the game before the 3 turns ended. That was the first occasion I hit time at Worlds, which was due to many turns of Poison, switching, and Grassy Terrain animation. Beau and I got close to time in other rounds throughout the tournament, so it made this team really draining to play, and as the day went on I got more and more tired.

R6 vs Sam Pickering (@SnorlaxSamVGC) [GB] (5-2) WW

sam

Having heard from Beau that he had to play Brendan Zheng on the side stream, I was glad I dodged that bullet despite playing a really strong player that round. However, I ended up in that situation anyway, as when pairings went up I saw that I was playing Sam on the side stream. That was pretty nerve wracking as I knew he was an amazing player–having dominated Europe all year–and I didn’t really like the matchup. Luckily, I knew the team he was using, as like many seniors were that weekend, it was very close to the team Carson St. Denis used on the showdown ladder for the past few weeks. The matchup focused around using Tapu Bulu, Arcanine, Araquanid and Porygon2, as together they could deal with all the main threats of the team, beat Togedemaru, and neutralize Snorlax with a combination of strong attacks, Bug Bite, and Toxic stall. Game one went exactly to plan, Tapu Bulu served as a bait while I whittled down his team with Toxic, then I made the crucial prediction of Togedemaru switching into Snorlax, KOing it with Flare Blitz and Wood Hammer as it came in, eliminating a giant threat with little drawback. Game two went relatively similarly, but in the middle of the game I burned his Snorlax with Flare Blitz, which meant he got free boosted Facade damage, and I wasn’t able to Toxic it to set up an endgame. The game came down to my Araquanid against his Snorlax, where due to a combination of prediction by me and choking by him, I was able to get a Substitute up and fire off two Liquidations before he recycled. Overall, it was a great set, and good games to Sam.

R7 vs Shu Harasaki [JP] (5-2) WLW

shu1

At this point I was guaranteed cut, so I was relieved I didn’t have to win this round, and I could use it as an opportunity to relax and re-energize. However, I still wanted to potentially get a bye if we hit an uneven number of players in cut, so my goal was to win, if possible, without much intense thought. The rest of top tables seemed to have a similar mindset, as Jana and Oliver were talking throughout their entire set, and Parth scooped to let Cedric into cut. Game one I followed this plan, and was easily able to get a 4-0. However, Shu adapted really well for game two, and my “minimal reads” plan didn’t work out. For game three, I decided that I cared more about winning the set than relaxing, so I turned it up a bit and was able to win, but narrowly.

Beau Top Cut

Top 16 vs Sam Pickering (@SnorlaxSamVGC) [GB] WLW

sam

Sitting down at the tables for my first match of the Top Cut, I found myself paired against none other than the most dominant player in the EU region. I knew William had played Sam earlier in the day and won, but nevertheless it was a matchup I was worried about. The first two games in our set play out very similarly to my matches against Cory Connor (who was using the same team) the previous day. Smart defensive play allowed me to secure a decisive victory in the first game, but my opponent adjusted well and took game two to tie the set at 1-1. Going into the final game, we were both comfortable with the strategies we had executed in the previous game. I led my go-to combination of Porygon2 and Araquanid into Sam’s Togedemaru and Garchomp. The matchup is awkward for both of us, as we both have a wide array of options to choose from. I can withdraw Araquanid in favor Tapu Bulu to easily take any attacks coming it’s way and to exert pressure immediately, but this leaves me vulnerable to an Arcanine switch in as neither Porygon2 nor Tapu Bulu have any options to deal with it. On Sam’s side, the Garchomp is clearly threatened by strong attacks from both of my Pokemon but he can choose to leave it in and set up a Swords Dance, which would immediately put me on the defensive. As I recall, we both opted for defensive positioning plays in the early game, not wanting to risk an early loss. But the momentum swung clearly in my favor some turns later. Sam had just boosted his intimidated Garchomp to +1, and it was facing down my Arcanine and (I believe) Tapu Bulu. I had been playing hours of high level Pokemon for the past two days, and my thought process was becoming quite linear. Sam went for his optimal play of Stone Edge into the Arcanine, he really had no reason not to, but I totally failed to recognize that option. In my mind, I was switching Araquanid into a not very effective Groundium Z. But I was saved by a lucky Stone Edge miss, allowing me the momentum and positioning I needed to take the game.

Top 8 vs Izumi Motoe [JP] WLW

izumi

Following a close victory in Top 16, I was even more determined to take our team all the way. It felt great to be playing among the eight best players from around the world, but I needed to focus if I wanted to win. Going into game one, I led my Mudsdale and Tapu Bulu into his combination of Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. I really liked my positioning here, as I was in my own terrain against two Tapus. I clicked Heavy Slam and Wood Hammer, which guaranteed me a clean double KO. But the Metagross and Mandibuzz that Izumi had in back were very threatening to me, and I nearly lost the game. I won when my Araquanid survived a Z Psychic and retaliated with a Z move of its own. In the second game, my opponent recognized the immense pressure his Metagross placed on my team and won accordingly. But I adjusted well in game three, conserving my Mudsdale, to take the set.

Top 4 vs Hong Juyong [KR] LL

hong

William and I were given a few moments to celebrate our respective victories in the Top 8 before moving on to our next matches. We were ecstatic at having made it so far in the World Championships. As a side note, I was also excited that my prediction a month ago that the core of Porygon2 and Araquanid would win worlds was likely to come true. Three fourths of cut had brought it. But I digress. Going into team preview, I immediately noticed the similarities between our teams. We had each brought a similar five Pokemon, the only difference being our choice of Grass types. As I mentioned while analyzing my match against Jana, the matchup can be very awkward given the near mirror. But as I learned during the first turn of game one, Hong has a significant advantage here: Nature’s Madness. I led a combination of Porygon2 and Arcanine into his Porygon2 and Tapu Koko, and went for (to my knowledge) the safe play of Toxic and Protect. Feel free to follow along here. If you’re watching the replay, you’ll know a Nature’s Madness targeting the Porygon2 sealed up the game on turn one. At 50%, I was guaranteed to be KO’d by any attack and there was nothing that could effectively switch in. Without Porygon2, the matchup (or to be fair, almost any matchup with this team) is next to impossible. Game two follows in a similar fashion, and I lose the game on turn one yet again. This time, however, to an Ice Beam freeze. At this point I know I’ve lost the set which leads to some pretty questionable play later in the game. But oh well. I was just happy to have made such a deep run. Top Cut hax karma strikes again.

William Top Cut

Top 16 vs Shu Harasaki [JP] WW

shu1

For the first round of cut, I found out that I was facing Shu once again. The matchup was pretty good, so I was feeling good about it, but I was also scared because of how well he adapted in the previous set. By now, I had a solid gameplan against his team, and I was able to follow it to reach a 2-0 victory.

Top 8 vs Chang Joonseo [KR] WLW

chang

The other top 16 games were still going on when I finished, so I had some time to get water and find out what I could about Chang’s team. Kylie had played him in top 16, so I learned that his Gastrodon was Waterium Z. Having used Z move Gastrodon in the past, I knew how much of a threat this could be, so I focused on conserving Tapu Bulu in this matchup for his Tapu Koko, Snorlax, and of course to clean up against Gastrodon. In the first game, I protected against his Waterium Z, and used that momentum to win. He adapted well in the second game, but I was able to utilize my Tapu Koko better in game three to come back.

Top 4 vs Yuki Wata (@Uk1Wata) [JP] WLL

yuki

After the last round, Beau and I discovered that we had each won our games, and were both overjoyed that we made it this far. We had a few seconds to celebrate and wish each other luck before the judges called Beau over to play. Yuki’s game was still going on so I had a little bit more time for the other seniors on the sidelines to congratulate me. As I already knew Yuki’s team, I didn’t need to scout or prep, as the FAKEPG matchup is relatively easy if played well, and I already 2-0d a FAKEPG player that day. I also had time to tell the group of seniors my plan for certain leads with Tapu Koko before I was called over to sit down as Yuki set up his 3DS.

This game was recorded by Ben Goff(@EnigmaVGC), so if you want to follow my thought process or see the full game you can watch it below.

William vs Yuki: https://www.pscp.tv/w/1YpKkmAvnLVJj

In game one I was pretty stoked to see a Tapu Koko and Kartana lead because I knew I could go for the play I had already thought of. While testing, Carson told me that our Tapu Koko would OHKO opposing Tapu Koko with Helping Hand and Gigavolt Havoc, and it was a play both of us made relatively frequently on ladder when faced with either what Yuki lead or the combination of Tapu Koko and Arcanine. I got that call correctly, and then I was able to manage my Tapu Bulu and Mudsdale throughout the rest of the game well enough to clean up the rest of his threats. During game two, I immediately Z moved into an obvious protect, and started to tilt a bit. The beginning of the game went pretty well other than that, and I was able to get an HP Fire off into his Kartana for a KO at a crucial moment. However, as the game progressed, I made some bad calls and didn’t deal with the Tapu Fini well. I also forgot that his Arcanine was Assault Vest and ignored it for too long, allowing it to get damage on my team over the course of a few turns. My main choke however was in the final few turns, where I went for a Helping Hand High Horsepower into his Tapu Fini instead of his Arcanine. It missed anyway, so it might not have even mattered. In game three, I made a major misplay turn one where I again Z moved his Tapu Fini on turn one, and again into a protect. By this time I forgot my gameplan of playing around Yuki’s consistency, which put me into a really bad position to begin with. I won’t go into the details of this game because I played badly and didn’t use most of the team properly. I didn’t bait well with Tapu Bulu, and I didn’t make the calls that I made throughout the day and in game one that I needed to.

Despite some bad luck on my end, Yuki played better than I did in the last two games, and it was a great set overall. I have only played in Worlds twice, but each experience has made me so much better as a player, and the game planning I needed to go as far as I did was one of the main things that I improved on this year. I’m satisfied with my run overall, and I’m proud of how far I’ve come in the last two years. Hopefully the future holds even more!

Shoutouts

-First of all to Carson for the team as well as help and support throughout the season, it was great seeing you win last year and we unfortunately couldn’t continue your legacy

-Everyone in the Hangouts chat for the support and memes

-Anyone who supported us over the weekend, it was great to meet so many new people from across the globe

Team Importables

https://pokepast.es/ab232c5ca10fdbec

https://3ds.pokemon-gl.com/rentalteam/BT-34E6-43EA

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