Friday, October 17, 2014

My Tournament History

Since I'll primarily be using this blog to write team reports and talk about my experiences at tournaments, I thought I'd go back and review my tournaments from the 2014 season, my first season playing live events. I was able to attend three Regionals, a Premier Challenge, and Nationals. I also made it to a Premier Challenge earlier this month that was technically part of the 2015 season, so I'll say a bit about that one as well.

Philadelphia Autumn Regionals (October 2013)
Result: 6-2 in Swiss, 22nd place, 30 CP

This being my first tournament, I wasn't expecting to do very well. I just went to have fun, and happened to score a pretty respectable finish. The team was basically centered around slowing the opposing team down so Fire Gem Eruption Heatran could sweep. Thundurus was so good at spamming Prankster Thunder Wave and Taunt that it was too good to pass up, while Rotom was chosen as a secondary Thunder Wave user if I didn't like the way Thundurus matched up against an opposing team. I would often bring both to a battle since they both were bulky enough to spread paralysis reliably. I had some pretty good battles and beat a couple people who I recognized from Nugget Bridge. I started off 5-0 and was really excited that I had a chance to make the top cut at my first tournament. Unfortunately, I lost my next two battles before winning the last, so missed out on top cut by one loss. Finishing in the top 32 at my first tournament was a great accomplishment, and I was definitely ready for the next one. Unfortunately, the format switched between Autumn and Winter Regionals, so I had to retire this team.

Orlando Winter Regionals (January 2014)
Result: 5-1 (drop), 0 CP

Leading up to the tournament, I really liked the way Charizard and Garchomp played together. They had powerful spread moves that dealt a lot of damage in Earthquake, Rock Slide, and Heat Wave. All of these moves were valuable chip damage that put some bulkier Pokemon into KO range with Overheat. Amoonguss was very good at redirecting attacks aimed at other Pokemon and putting certain threats to sleep. Scrafty and Rotom-Wash returned from the Philadelphia team, with slight changes. Rotom had the same EV's, nature, and item. I switched Thunder Wave to Will-o-Wisp to give myself a way to neuter Kangaskhan, which was running rampant at the time. I used Assault Vest Scrafty and absolutely loved it. It took hits from either side of the spectrum while providing valuable Intimidate and Fake Out support (the only other Pokemon with Fake Out + Intimidate is Hitmontop, who was not legal in this format) and healing back a large chunk of health with Drain Punch. Ice Punch was a great move in this metagame, always 2HKOing Garchomp and Salamence after Intimidate, with a chance to OHKO Salamence if not intimidated. Leading up to the tournament, the Manectric slot was wide open. I had been using support Meowstic for a while, but it felt awkward having 2 Pokemon with very low damage output. A friend suggested using Manectric as a second mega evolution, and I loved it instantly. Switching into Electric type attacks was always fun, and the extra Intimidate was helpful. I never really felt the need to bring Manectric and Charizard to the same battle since they both fulfill very similar roles but excel against different Pokemon.

I was playing really well during the tournament, only losing the one battle because, still being relatively new to the XY mechanics, I forgot that Rage Powder didn't affect Grass types anymore and a Ludicolo Hydro Pump knocked out my Manectric on Turn 1. The ending of my Round 6 battle was pretty exciting. It came down to my opponent's Aegislash at ~60% health against my Scrafty at very low Health and my Garchomp at 1 HP. He hadn't revealed his Ghost-type move, so I wasn't sure if he had Shadow Sneak or Shadow Claw (this was back in the day when Physical Aegislash was the play). He had used King's Shield the previous turn, so I knew he would be forced to attack this turn. I decided to use Earthquake and Crunch, knowing that if he had Shadow Sneak, Garchomp would be KO'd but Scrafty would be free to attack a Blade form Aegislash for the easy KO. If he had Shadow Claw, I'd KO my own Scrafty with Earthquake but I was confident that I would knock Aegislash out too. He ends up not having Shadow Sneak, so the Earthquake goes off first and Scrafty is knocked out. I watched Aegislash's HP go down, down, down, and then stop. He survived the Earthquake with 1 HP and I thought I had lost. However, his Shadow Claw activated Garchomp's Rough Skin, which deals damage to Aegislash before the damage to Garchomp resolves. Thanks to this tiebreaker, I won the match 0-0!

After this round, I ended up having to drop from the tournament. I had booked a flight back to Auburn for that night at 8pm or so, confident that I would be done well before then. However, the tournament was running very behind, and Swiss didn't start until after noon. We inexplicably took a lunch break after Round 3, and I knew then that there was no way I was finishing Swiss. I was pretty salty when I left, since I was playing some really good Pokemon and honestly believed I had a solid shot at top cut. Needless to say, I was extra motivated to redeem myself in the spring.

Athens Spring Regionals (April 2014)
Result: 6-3, 33rd place, 10 CP

I used the same team at this tournament, with a couple exceptions. I obviously replaced Amoonguss with Gourgeist, a move that I would later regret. I changed the moveset on Manectric from Thunderbolt/Flamethrower to Volt Switch/Overheat, which I think was a great call. Garchomp's item changed from Rocky Helmet to Lum Berry, and I optimized Charizard's EV spread. In practice, I knew I had a very poor matchup against Gardevoir, and Fairy types in general. My only resist was Charizard, and he didn't quite appreciate taking hits. I dropped Amoonguss, who also resists Fairy, for a niche Pokemon whose role was filled in other places on my team. Of my three losses, Gardevoir was directly responsible for two. I just didn't have a reliable way to deal significant damage to it, with the only super effective move I had being Gourgeist's relatively weak Phantom Force. My third loss came when a Tyranitar flinched Scrafty, who would have easily knocked it out with Drain Punch, twice in a row. I figured at 6-3 I'd have a chance to make the top 32 again and earn 30 more CP, but I unfortunately missed that cutoff by one place. What made it worse was that the guy who flinched my Scrafty twice in a row ended up 32nd. I was pretty discouraged after this tournament, but thankfully I had met some pretty cool people in Orlando that I was able to hang out with in Athens. We all got dinner afterwards before heading our separate ways.

Orlando Premier Challenge (May 2014)
Result: 3-1 Swiss, 1-1 Top Cut, 2nd place, 12 CP

Oh look, Scrafty is back! And so is Rotom, but this time in Heat form. I won't go too in-depth with this team since you can read the full report on Nugget Bridge. I was pleased with my 2nd place finish, but still wanted more. I was ready and excited for Nationals, the biggest open tournament of the year.

United States Nationals - Indianapolis (July 2014)
Result: 5-4, 164th place, 0 CP

Frankly, I choked this tournament. I had spent a lot of time optimizing the team I used in the premier challenge, and truly thought I was prepared for the Nationals metagame. The Rotom-Heat / Mega Venusaur / Aegislash core performed really well for me in practice, while Garchomp + Specs Telepathy Gardevoir had a huge damage output potential. Tailwind Aerodactyl rounded out the team, providing some speed control for the relatively slow team. In case you don't know the format for this year's Nationals, day 1 consisted of 9 Swiss rounds. All competitors with a record of 7-2 or better moved on to day 2. This eliminated the potential to bubble out early due to bad resistance and pitted the proven top competitors against each other in another Swiss pool on day 2. By round 4, I had already accrued my 3rd loss and had effectively been eliminated from the tournament. I clawed my way back to finish with a positive record, but I was obviously not happy with my performance. After some promising Regionals early in the season (Philadelphia and Orlando), I had screwed myself out of a good finish at the last two big tournaments (Athens and Nationals). I took a break from Pokemon after Nationals, mostly because I was working 40 hours a week over the summer and preparing for my sophomore year. When the 2015 season rolled around, I got back into it, determined to make up for a poor end to 2014.

Orlando Premier Challenge (September 2014, Beginning of 2015 Season)
Result: 3-2, 12th place, 0 CP

What a great start to the season, right? Again, I pretty much choked this tournament. Granted, I threw the team together the night before, but I really liked how the team played. I always get pretty nervous before events, but usually I can power through it and loosen up after I get a win under my belt. Unfortunately, this time the nerves got to me and I made some really stupid plays in my first round. I psyched myself out in round 4 when I faced a friend of mine, whose team I knew inside and out. There were a couple turns when I made some bad decisions, and after some bad luck early in the game, I dug too big a hole to recover. We had enough participants for a top 8, but my resistance was too poor to make the cut.

So there's my tournament history. I was able to make it back to Philadelphia Regionals two weeks ago, and will be attending Fort Wayne Regionals this weekend. I didn't talk about the more recent Philadelphia in this post since I'm using the same team, with a couple minor tweaks, in Fort Wayne. I reprised my Top 32 finish at Philadelphia, and I'm hoping to go further at Fort Wayne and finally pop my Regionals Top Cut cherry. I'll definitely write a team report afterwards that will be posted here and potentially Nugget Bridge.

Until next time, thanks for reading!


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