Toxicroak Takes the Title – 1st Place Philadelphia Regional Team Report

Hello Hat Lovers!

It’s been a very exciting past few weeks to play VGC as players have been scrambling to quickly learn the new format that was announced at the World Championships just a month ago. Last week the first major tournament using the Sun Series rules took place in the outskirts of Philadelphia, it was there that I managed to win with a team that iMagikarp built and also placed top 8 with. Since it was nearly complete when Justin came to me with the team, I don’t have much insight as to how the team was put together, but I’m happy to share the sets and how they interact together from my own perspective.


NPA 7 Review

Hello hat lovers!

This year I got drafted by the Rollouts for the NPA and finished with a respectable record. My team ended up performing extremely well, finishing as the first seed in the regular season, and only losing in the finals because of a really unfortunate oopsie by yours truly. When this season of NPA started I honestly had little intentions of playing in part because I was really busy in real life. I only made a sign up post as a joke because of the draw-a-Pokemon requirement, and I thought my sign up would be immediately disqualified because I didn’t provide any information. I also didn’t think enough people knew what my TrainerTower username was. Oops. I started out well though, and I enjoyed my team and our success, so I just rolled with it. Despite the season ending on a really sour note this was the most enjoyable season I’ve had of NPA so far, as I had the opportunity to play every week, and this was the furthest any of my teams have gotten.

I saved all of the teams I used, as well as all the replays, so those will be posted. A lot of these pastes are really bad though as I threw a lot of them together for the specific opponent I had for the week, and a lot of the early ones are now outdated. Regardless, they’ll be here for the sake of completion.


Rock Seattlement – 1st Place Seattle Regional Report

Hello Hat Lovers!

It’s been a while since my last team report due to various circumstances, but that’s finally changed! I won the Seattle Regional, one of the final regionals in North America for the 2017 season, with a team that Rapha had been working on since February and used to place 9th at the Oregon Regional back in March.  Initially I was set on bringing something else to the tournament, but on the Wednesday before the tournament I decided that this was the best team I could take. I didn’t practice too much with it before then, but I had guidelines written by Rapha on using the team and I had watched my friends use this team on Showdown for weeks.

Here is a QR Code for the team.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! No… It’s a Snorlax! A 12th Place LatAm International Report

Hey there Hat Lovers!

I’ve been meaning to write a report for a while, but never got around to it. Now that I don’t have any events until US Internats, I thought it would be a good time to release the team(s) I have used this year. The team I used in Brazil is a product of a team I have been changing and improving on since December, but I will start after St. Louis.

Building the Team:

I placed in the Top 16 in St. Louis, and here’s the team I used. This team was fairly strong, but I felt I could make something better that dealt with threats like Lele Drifblim more efficiently. I decided to keep the core of Tapu Koko, Porygon2, Mudsdale, and Arcanine because of its good matchup against common Gigalith teams. After spending a long time playing with four Pokemon on Showdown, I decided to add Trick Room Nihilego. This was mainly inspired by Rapha’s Nihilego, which you can see here. A lead of Nihilego and Arcanine with Firium Z could almost guarantee me a good position against Lele Drifblim teams, at least in the first game. After playing with this, I realized that the main issue with this team, like all my teams this format, was Snorlax. And what better way to counter Snorlax than with my own Snorlax? In all seriousness, I tried many different Pokemon in this last slot, including Kartana, Hariyama, and Tapu Bulu, before deciding on Snorlax. Now, let’s move on the Pokemon analysis.


Survivor Bias in Pokemon: Why Analysing Top Cut Teams is a Flawed Practice

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Analysing top cut teams and drawing conclusions is a common practice in VGC. However, this is an imperfect process for many reasons, one of them being that it falls victim to survivor bias.

Survivorship bias or survival bias: the logical error of concentrating on the people or things that made it past some selection process and overlooking those that did not, typically because of their lack of visibility. This can lead to false conclusions in several different ways. It is a form of selection bias.”

The intent of this article is not to shed light that the definition of “good” in VGC is dynamic because of meta-game progressions, and it is not to contradict the specific, flawed conclusion that any successful team must be good because of its success. Rather, it is to bring attention to how survivor bias can mislead any conclusion people reach when analysing results.


Reinforcement of Depressive thought tendencies within Competitive Pokemon – Why ‘No Johns’?

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One of the academic fields in which I find the most interplay with competitive Pokemon is psychology. Mental state is almost always a fundamental part of my tournament runs, whether good or bad, and I believe it to be worth examining different theories of how to think about improvement, practice, and in-tournament mentality.

Perhaps the most widespread piece of advice that I see about mentality is to avoid making excuses when practicing. This “No Johns” approach reinforces some important ideas of improvement: the aspiring Pokemon Trainer must examine the details of why they lost, and unhelpful or inaccurate explanations are not particularly conducive to really learning. You must accept fault for your losses in order to improve.

The problem I see with this (well-intentioned) advice is that there are dangers in stigmatizing excuses. Although they seem to be unnecessary, annoying, and hindering, they serve a valid purpose, and to seize upon excuses as always wrong is to lose an element of healthy mentality.

According, at least, to psychology when taught in an entry-level university course, avoiding all excuses is a significant deviation from the norm. Healthy people, although willing to take credit for success, will often ascribe their failures to their situation, or to bad luck. Success is internal; failure, external. Although it sounds arrogant on paper, it’s actually a fairly important part of being able to function normally.

Indeed, one of the cognitive symptoms of depression is viewing successes as the result of external factors (like luck), while seeing failures as internal, completely the person’s own fault.

Now, it’s important to note that cognition is only one factor in determining clinical depression (and not a make-or-break one, either – symptoms like anhedonia and, above all, a depressed mood are noticeably more important). Moreover, making excuses for failure is only one part of your cognition; how you approach success is important too, as well as a whole host of other factors. But the point remains that there’s something a little skewed about not being able to make excuses for failures, and there’s danger in internalizing losses as deeply as a no-excuse approach sometimes asks us to do.

My concern, then, is that somewhere along the path to effective improvement we’ve started to reinforce depressive thought patterns. In order to improve, we push ourselves towards elements that make us less likely to want to persevere in the game, and which make it harder for us to believe in our ability to win or to recover from losses.

One of my goals to prepare for the US national championships last year was to lose 100 games. I wanted to practice recovering from losses, and to learn as much as possible from each of those losses in order to craft a truly effective team. Unfortunately, this regimen really, really didn’t work for me. There are many reasons why I fell short at nationals, and it would be unfair of me to blame solely this, but one of the reasons the regimen failed for me is that I lacked the mechanisms to accept and recover from losses. Indeed, my goal in the first place was a symptom of this lack of loss-recovery: I had hoped that by making losing my goal, I would begin to accept it as part of a natural process of growth. However, without really establishing a process of managing losses, I simply fell flat: I didn’t manage to complete my goal, and I failed to gain a single championship point from the 2016 national championships. I think that, if anything, my practice regimen simply reinforced thought patterns that were not in the least conducive to improvement, and I found myself more stressed than ever when heading into nationals. The stress I felt was not, as Pokemon stress usually is, easily turned into motivation or excitement. Instead I felt dread, a distinctively foreign feeling for me in a Pokemon context. That event was perhaps the only time I’d ever felt relief to be eliminated from a tournament.

My point is not that a no-excuse philosophy doesn’t work. My point is not even that a no-excuse philosophy might not work for some people – it probably, in some form or another, works for everyone. But I do believe that it is an insufficient grounds for improvement, and that it can push us a bit farther from truly enjoying Pokemon than we really need to be. I would posit that there’s another element to improvement, one that allows for coping with losses, that doesn’t stop at identifying mistakes but also includes a way to actually learn from them. There must be a way to practice that doesn’t just involve “that was dumb, don’t do that anymore” but rather incorporates the patience necessary to go through matches intimately, to see everywhere that one could improve, and to have the forgiveness to accept not only your losses as they are, but your limitations as they are, and, in so doing, to see your wins as they might be.

– Hayden McTavish


Double Rock, Double Bubble – 9th Place Oregon Regional Report

Hello hat lovers!

I recently attended Oregon Regionals and went 6-2, finishing 9th place, the second time that this has happened at this regional. Unlike 2015 Oregon though I actually had aspirations of making it further in the tournament, and I felt really good about the team I used and the preparation that lead up to the event. Sadly I didn’t make cut, but sometimes doing well involves uncontrollable factors going your way, and I have no regrets about my play and team decision for the weekend. It was also great to see that three Canadians ended up being the ones who made cut at 6-2. I also finished second in the Premier Challenge that was held right after Swiss ended (a moral victory on its own given that I haven’t been to many events this season).

This team is similar to the one Max and I used at the Vancouver MSS last month, though despite having 4/6 of the same Pokemon, my Oregon team took inspiration from a Japanese team Kelvin sent me. Heading into Oregon I was looking at different variants of Gigalith teams and this was the one that piqued my interest the most, because the six Pokemon on the MSS team didn’t appeal to me enough to bring to Oregon (though ironically, Max used the same team and did better than me at Oregon, finishing top 4). I still wanted to use Gigalith out of comfort given that I’ve been using it since late January, and looking at all the high ladder teams I’ve seen that had it gave me multiple perspectives on how to build a Gigalith team. The team Kelvin gave me had Trick Room Nihilego, and at first it made zero sense to me how this team could do as well as it did on the ladder, because double Rock types seemed to just compound on weaknesses. After trying it though, I felt very comfortable with the team and liked a lot of elements it had, despite the atrocious defensive synergy of the six Pokemon. It’s also a fun thought that this is a Sand team, of sorts. Three Pokemon take advantage of Sand, and even Arcanine can benefit from it, as the sand chip damage helps activate Mago Berry.