Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2015 World Championships Report

I remembered the other day that I never wrote anything about my Worlds team. While I had a pretty bad result and did tweet a picture of my team, I figured I'd still do an entry on my Worlds team and opponents this year for those that are interested.

The Team

Playing God (Salamence) @ Salamencite  
Ability: Intimidate  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 172 Atk / 4 Def / 76 SpA / 252 Spe  
Naive Nature  
- Double-Edge  
- Earthquake  
- Draco Meteor  
- Protect

If God's the game that you're playing / Well, we must get more acquainted
Playing God by Paramore

After seeing Salamence have some decent success at Nationals, I really liked the idea of using it at Worlds. I also extensively tested Metagross again between Nationals and Worlds, and had told myself that I was either going to use Metagross or Salamence since those two were what I knew best. I had an inkling that Kangaskhan would still be really good (and Top 8 obviously proved that correct), but I had very little experience with the kangaroo and didn't want to use something I didn't know. The Metagross team I came up with was very similar to what Riley Factura (GENGARboi) used to go undefeated on Day 1, but I ended up chickening out and going with Salamence. Double-Edge does a hell of a lot of damage to basically anything it touches, even on resisted targets. With a Helping Hand boost, Double-Edge can OHKO a huge portion of the metagame, at the cost of a good chunk of Salamence's health. Honestly I probably should have thought about Return, but I didn't know the damage calculations on Return as compared to Double-Edge and felt more comfortable knowing that I was doing as much damage as possible. The Naive Nature and Draco Meteor let Salamence win the mirror at least 50% of the time, provided they were also max speed and carried Draco Meteor. If either of those conditions weren't true, the mirror was much more in my favor. I originally had a little bit more Special Attack investment and Fire Blast over Earthquake since I built parts of the team with my friend Tommy Cooleen (@TmanVGC) and he was terrified of Mawile making a comeback at Worlds. In the end I opted to drop Fire Blast in favor of Earthquake because this team's Heatran matchup was pretty iffy, so I lowered the Special Attack investment to always OHKO opposing 4 HP Salamence without a -Special Defense nature.

Stay With Me (Gothitelle) @ Sitrus Berry  
Ability: Shadow Tag  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 220 Def / 4 SpA / 20 SpD / 12 Spe  
Calm Nature  
- Psychic  
- Helping Hand  
- Thunder Wave  
- Protect

This ain't love, it's clear to see / But darling, stay with me
Stay With Me by Sam Smith

Gothitelle really isn't that great of a Pokemon until you look at its ability. Shadow Tag is an incredible asset for any team, forcing your opponent to leave their Pokemon on the field to take an attack instead of switching into something else. Gothitelle is able to command entire games on its own, forcing opposing teams into bad positions by allowing me to switch the other slot around into a favorable matchup. I don't really remember what the EV spread does exactly, but I opted to not use the standard 252/244+ spread from last season because Choice Specs Hydreigon wasn't nearly as popular. I think this spread just survives Shadow Ball from Aegislash then has some generic physical bulk. Helping Hand was pretty crucial to the set, as it allowed Gothitelle's partners to pick up KO's they otherwise couldn't (such as Salamence's Double-Edge OHKOing Kangaskhan with a Helping Hand boost). It also gave Gothitelle something to do other than getting some piddly damage with Psychic, even though Psychic was good for breaking Focus Sashes or ensuring later KO's. Thunder Wave is the move that I regret most on this team. I really should have run Trick Room, and I was very close to making that switch the night before the tournament. The reason I stuck with Thunder Wave was because I hadn't tested Trick Room at all and felt more comfortable with Thunder Wave. While I do think comfort should be a factor that people consider when building teams, at some point you just have to realize that there are objectively better options, and I definitely think Trick Room was one of them for this team.

Hometown (Tyranitar) @ Assault Vest  
Ability: Sand Stream  
Level: 50  
EVs: 236 HP / 76 Atk / 84 Def / 100 SpA / 12 SpD  
Brave Nature  
- Rock Slide  
- Assurance  
- Low Kick  
- Ice Beam

Where we're from, there's no sun / Our hometown's in the dark
Hometown by twenty one pilots

This Tyranitar was my favorite part of this team by a huge longshot. I loved basically everything about it, with one small exception. The EV spread makes 252+ Gardevoir Hyper Voice and -1 252+ Landorus-T Earthquake both 3HKO's, which made Tyranitar incredibly bulky overall. It easily survived Kangaskhan Power-Up Punches (but not Low Kicks), as well as basically any super effective attack that wasn't Fighting type. The Special Attack investment allows Tyranitar to OHKO 4 HP Mega Salamence 15/16 times after a tick of sand damage, which might seem weird but was usually enough. Salamence can't really do anything to Tyranitar anyway, and it doesn't threaten much of my team to the point where I felt the need to invest any more. Ice Beam always KO's Landorus that didn't carry Assault Vest, so I was happy. The attack was a dump, but with the Brave Nature it still hit very hard. I believe Helping Hand Low Kick was a damage roll on 4 HP Kangaskhan, but sand damage would always finish it off. I do wish that I had used Crunch at Worlds, since I used Assurance multiple times but I don't think it ever got the power boost. Maybe if I had Hyper Voice on Salamence, Assurance would have been a better option. I've also thought about using Dark Pulse, as the -Speed nature makes Aegislash matchups a little bit awkward and Dark Pulse is much safer than Crunch, but Tyranitar's naturally higher Attack stat meant that Crunch did more damage to mostly everything. Tyranitar also didn't mind Crunching into Weakness Policy Aegislash since it took +2 Flash Cannons like a champ.

WorkThisBody (Ferrothorn) @ Leftovers  
Ability: Iron Barbs  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Atk / 12 Def / 20 SpD / 60 Spe  
Impish Nature  
- Iron Head  
- Power Whip  
- Leech Seed  
- Protect

And I will work this body, I will burn this flame / Oh in the dead of night and in the pouring rain
Work This Body by Walk The Moon

I thought Ferrothorn was a pretty cool option going into Worlds. There weren't a whole lot of Fire types running around, and the ones that did exist were mostly handled by Salamence, Tyranitar, and Milotic. A lot of my battles with this team involved eliminating threats to Ferrothorn then just letting it Leech Seed stall the opposing team out. The lack of Gyro Ball might seem weird, but with Thunder Wave Gothitelle and Icy Wind Milotic I didn't like the prospect of weakening Ferrothorn's main attack. Iron Head had decent synergy with Thunder Wave and did more damage to Sylveon, which could been a little bit of a pain for this team. All in all I think Ferrothorn was a good but not great Pokemon at the actual tournament. It pulled its weight most of the time, but was pretty prone to flinches (but more on that later) and didn't appreciate all of the Heatran that were running around.

Bad Wolf (Entei) @ Safety Goggles  
Ability: Pressure  
Level: 50  
EVs: 132 HP / 108 Atk / 12 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
Jolly Nature  
- Sacred Fire  
- Stone Edge  
- Snarl  
- Protect

Imma make a deal with the bad wolf so the bad wolf don't bite no more
Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf) by AWOLNATION

Entei was a Pokemon that a lot of people had been talking about but hadn't really seen a lot of use. I liked it over Arcanine for a couple of reasons. Entei had Stone Edge, which could dispatch Charizard right away instead of just trying to Snarl at it. Sacred Fire is a great move, doing a whole lot of damage with a 50% burn chance. I didn't want a second Intimidate on this team because Bisharp and Milotic could have become a problem, and between Salamence's Intimidate and Sacred Fire I was comfortable with the team's ability to manage physical attacks. The EV spread was something I got from Andrew Burley (@IsAndrewElite) who used the same spread to make Day 2 at Worlds. The HP and Defense allowed Entei to survive an Earthquake from Landorus-T without a boosting item, and we used max Speed to at least speed tie base 100's like Kangaskhan. I would have liked a little bit more Attack investment, as the current spread is a damage roll to KO Aegislash with Helping Hand Sacred Fire, but I don't think it made too much a difference in the end. Entei's ability to manage both physical and special attackers while also doing some really good damage was appreciated and helped to hold the team together.

BehindTheSea (Milotic) @ Maranga Berry  
Ability: Competitive  
Level: 50  
EVs: 212 HP / 84 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe  
Bold Nature  
- Scald  
- Icy Wind  
- Recover  
- Protect

The men all played along to marching drums / And boy did they have fun behind the sea
Behind the Sea by Panic! at the Disco

I've always had a love/hate relationship with Milotic. For the longest time, I thought it was an absolutely terrible Pokemon and that people only used it as a knee-jerk reaction to Landorus. I used it at Kansas City Regionals, which happened to be my worst ever result at a Regional, so that didn't really help my opinion of it. I only started to see how Milotic should be used after European Nationals, when Sekiam used Maranga Berry Milotic to make Top 8 and Top 4 at two different events. I really liked the theory behind that set, as it basically functioned as another checkmate Pokemon like Ferrothorn. Once the Maranga Berry was activated, a lot of Pokemon had trouble damaging Milotic significantly, and it was pretty easy to spam Scald until they were burned then just keep Recovering off damage until they fainted. Milotic could even beat Charizard-Y one-on-one by Icy Winding on the first turn when they use Solar Beam and activate Maranga Berry, then alternating between Protect and Recover until the sun runs out. While I do think this Milotic set is good and worth using, I still hate basically every other set. Choice Scarf is a terrible gimmick that should never be used, and Leftovers is even worse in my opinion. Chances are if you're using Leftovers Milotic, the set is something similar to mine and Sekiam's and you should really be using Maranga Berry. Stole the EV spread from Andrew Burley again, it outspeeds Mega Salamence after an Icy Wind and is just kinda generally bulky. It probably survives Kangaskhan Double-Edge or something like that.

The Tournament

This tournament was a long time ago so a lot of details might be fuzzy. I have my notes and can tell which 4 Pokemon my opponents and I brought to each game and I can tell which 2 I led, but I have no idea what my opponents led so just bear with me on that one.

Round 1 vs Brandon Ikin [UK] (Toquill)
Shield AegislashVirizion
Game 1:    vs  Shield Aegislash
Game 2:    vs  Shield Aegislash
Game 3:   vs  Shield Aegislash

Playing Brandon round 1 wasn't exactly ideal. This was the first time either of us had qualified for Worlds, so one of us guaranteed to start out with a loss was kinda sad. This team looked very similar to the team he used to win the German Regional a few weeks prior, so I had a decent idea of what to expect.

I do remember that Brandon led with his Aegislash this game, and that I immediately went for a Helping Hand Sacred Fire. It took his Aegislash down to 1 HP, saw the animation for an item activation, and thought "Oh great, Weakness Policy. What a great start." However, it ended up being a Focus Sash, which was really surprising to me. The only other time I had seen Focus Sash Aegislash was before 2014 Worlds when Jeudy was messing around with Focus Sash Head Smash to beat Charizard. After a bit of maneuvering, I had my Salamence and Gothitelle out against Brandon's Suicune, though I don't remember what was next to it, with 1 turn of Tailwind left. I protected Salamence and tried to get some Psychic damage on his nearly full health Suicune, but he revealed Swagger on his Suicune and Gothitelle hit itself in confusion. On the next turn, Brandon's Suicune survived a Helping Hand Double Edge with just a sliver of health left and was able to set up Tailwind again, so the Swagger ended up costing me the game. After I was eliminated from Nationals almost solely because of Swagger, I was pretty flustered and very unhappy with how that game ended.

I recall that Brandon didn't lead with Charizard in Game 1, so I decided to lead with Ferrothorn in an attempt to trap his Suicune. I don't exactly remember how the early game progressed, but I do know that I caught his Suicune switching in with Thunder Wave and was able to OHKO it immediately with Helping Hand Power Whip. Trapping Brandon's Charizard in against Tyranitar in the Sand became the win condition, and as far as I remember that's how the game ended.

I realized that Gothitelle wasn't helping out a whole lot against his team, since his Landorus could U-Turn out, Aegislash could do a lot of damage with Shadow Ball, and Suicune could Swagger it freely. I also noticed that Brandon hadn't brought his two best answers to Milotic, Virizion and Raichu (which I knew carried Volt Tackle), to either game. I made the choice to bring Milotic and decided I didn't want to take Ferrothorn when he could freely switch Charizard back in, so I brought Entei instead. All I remember from this game was that Milotic came in so clutch, attacking through Swagger on most, if not every turn. We both switched our respective weather setters in and out pretty frequently, and I was eventually able to bring the game down to his Charizard and Landorus (locked into Rock Slide) against my Tyranitar and Milotic in the sand. I knew that as soon as I could get rid of Landorus, I had the game won. Thankfully, I didn't get flinched to death and was able to win my first set at Worlds.

W 2-1

Round 2 vs Yosuke Isagi [Japan] (@tonykuso69)
115m Mini Sprite.pngShield Aegislash

Game 1:   vs  115m Mini Sprite.pngShield Aegislash
Game 2:   vs  115m Mini Sprite.pngShield Aegislash

My friend had just played Yosuke and warned me that he had a standard team and was really good. Both of those statements were correct. This was probably the mostly cleanly I've ever been beaten in my life. Yosuke was one step ahead of me each and every turn, and I just felt like I was getting choked out the entire time. I barely did any damage Game 1 as his Substitute Aegislash controlled the tempo the entire time. Game 2, I thought I needed to paralyze it with Gothitelle to have a chance at managing it, but Aegislash ended up being faster than Gothitelle and Thunder Wave failed into the Subsitute. I did manage to knock one Pokemon out in Game 2, so yay! I was incredibly impressed by Yosuke and was not surprised at all to see him in Top Cut the next day.

L 0-2

Round 3 vs Brian Zourdani [UK]
115m Mini Sprite.pngAmoongussCresselia
Game 1:   vs  115m Mini Sprite.pngCresselia
Game 2:   vs Cresselia
Game 3:   vs  115m Mini Sprite.pngAmoongussUnownUnown

I had never seen my opponent's name before, which I interpreted as a good sign. After being manhandled in Round 2, I obviously didn't want to take a second loss so early in the tournament. My opponent's team looked like it could be handled by Salamence and Tyranitar regardless of which 4 he decided to bring, so I made sure to take those 2 to every game. Game 1 started off pretty smoothly, and I remember catching his Scarf Landorus on a switch from Charizard with an Ice Beam from my Tyranitar. I was really happy with my position at that point, as he only had Heatran and Cresselia to try to knock out my Assault Vest Tyranitar in the Sand. He kept trying to chip away at Tyranitar with Earth Power and Ice Beam while I was able to consistently put out some good damage with Tyranitar and decrease his damage output with Snarl. Things took a pretty sharp turn, however, and I double missed a Snarl against his Heatran and Cresselia which allowed Entei to go down to an Earth Power. Then, a Cresselia Ice Beam froze my Tyranitar, which had the game all but completely sealed from that point. That was pretty crushing, as I thought I had played that game really well only to have the win stolen from me at the end. I turned it around in game 2, however, and won it pretty authoritatively. My opponent set up Trick Room with his Cresselia, which allowed my Tyranitar to underspeed and KO his entire team. I took the 4-0 win in Game 2 and felt pretty good about Game 3. Unfortunately, I just fell apart as soon as Game 3 started. I didn't take the opportunity to KO Amoonguss on Turn 1 and paid the price, as my opponent made a great play and used Spore while I tried to knock out his Kangaskhan. I lost Salamence very early in Game 3, which left me without a way to knock out Amoonguss since I didn't bring Entei. I was pretty mad at myself for the way I played that game, and the fact that I should have won the set after Game 2 didn't really help matters.

L 1-2

Round 4 vs Omar Acuna [Chile]
448m Mini Sprite.pngTherian ThundurusMamoswineTogekissWash RotomShield Aegislash
Game 1:  vs  MamoswineTogekissWash Rotom448m Mini Sprite.png
Game 2:  vs MamoswineTogekissShield Aegislash448m Mini Sprite.png
Game 3:  vs  MamoswineTogekissWash Rotom448m Mini Sprite.png

This was a team that I knew Ferrothorn would excel against as long as I could get rid of the Lucario. I also know that his Rotom was choiced and had both Volt Switch and Thunderbolt, but I don't remember if it was Scarf or Specs. Specifics are a bit hazy from Game 1 of this set, but I the endgame came down to my full health Salamence and something (maybe it was all by itself?) against his Togekiss and -1 Attack Lucario. He had shown Bullet Punch and Protect, and I assumed it had Close Combat, but I didn't know its 4th move and was scared of Ice Punch. I knew that if Salamence could survive the Double-Edge recoil from KOing Togekiss as well as an attack from Lucario, I'd have the game won. Luckily my opponent had Stone Edge instead of Ice Punch on his Lucario, and Salamence survived the turn comfortably to knock out Lucario for the win. Game 2 went similarly, with some trades being made early on. Again I don't remember early details, but we eventually got to my full health Entei and mid-health Gothitelle against his ~80% Mamoswine and very low Aegislash. I know there are details I'm forgetting, but based on the situation I knew that he had to survive a Sacred Fire and Earthquake his own Aegislash in order to win. During Game 1 I used Helping Hand Sacred Fire on his Mamoswine and it did around 80%, so I figured with the damage roll and burn chance the game was pretty highly in my favor. Unfortunately, I missed the Sacred Fire this time, and his Mamoswine just cleared the field with a Life Orb Earthquake. A pretty heartbreaking end to the game, but I still had Game 3 to worry about. Remember when I said Ferrothorn was prone to flinches? This game is the reason why. The entire premise of Game 3 was me switching Ferrothorn into very favorable positions just to see it get flinched by Air Slash every time it tried to move. Togekiss carried my opponent really hard during this game, and after the second or third flinch it was really too late for Ferrothorn to get any momentum. Mamoswine's Ice Shard made it very hard for Salamence to come in and get rid of Togekiss, so I had to keep braving Air Slash and came out on the losing end. Since a Sacred Fire was the reason we were even playing a third game, I was pretty unhappy with the game at this point. I took my third loss in four rounds and was effectively eliminated from the tournament.

L 1-2

Round 5 vs Kelly Mercier-White [Ireland] (@KellsterCartier)
376m Mini Sprite.pngArcanine
Game 1:   vs  376m Mini Sprite.pngArcanine
Game 2:   vs  376m Mini Sprite.pngArcanineUnown
Game 3:    vs  UnownUnown

I'm not gonna lie, I was really apathetic at this point in the tournament. I was already out of contention for Day 2 and this match effectively meant nothing. I wasn't going to drop because I still wanted the experience of playing in Worlds, but I didn't put as much effort as I should have into this match. It was cool to get to play Kelly since we had bonded over both having success with Mega Metagross early in the season, and I liked seeing that he stuck with it all the way to Worlds. I quickly realized that he had a really solid matchup, as my only real Metagross checks (Entei and Ferrothorn) got bopped pretty hard by Hydreigon. Kelly outplayed me for the majority of all 3 games, but I managed to cheese my way to winning Game 1. My Ferrothorn and Gothitelle managed to beat his Arcanine after I paralyzed it and was able to get a Leech Seed off. After that I alternated between Iron Head and Protect and managed to get enough full paralyses and flinches to win. Game 2 Kelly was having none of it and managed my Ferrothorn very well, easily taking the game. Game 3 Kelly pulled off a pretty cool combo with his Thundurus and Hydreigon to start off the game. I had already seen Thunderbolt, Thunder Wave, and Sky Drop on his Thundurus so I felt pretty confident that he didn't have Hidden Power Ice. I mega evolved my Salamence without protecting and just went straight for a Draco Meteor, only for his Thundurus to pick up my Salamence with Sky Drop while Hydreigon got some damage onto Tyranitar with Draco Meteor. On the next turn, my Salamence was faster than Thundurus and couldn't attack since it was still in the air, so Kelly was free to drop it and Draco Meteor it, which was easily enough to knock it out. I couldn't help but laugh, since that was actually really creative. I lost my answer to his Hydreigon so he was able to clean up the game pretty quickly.

L 1-2

Round 6 vs Mitch Kendrick [Australia] (@MitchVGC)
282m Mini Sprite.pngHeat RotomShield AegislashAmoonguss
Game 1:   vs  Heat RotomUnown
Game 2:   vs  Heat RotomShield Aegislash282m Mini Sprite.png
Game 3:   vs  282m Mini Sprite.pngAmoongussHeat Rotom

I had seen Mitch's name around, but didn't realize that his team was the exact same team that my friend Luke (@DawgVGC) had been using in some practice battles against me before Worlds. I could tell by Pressure activating before Intimidate that my Entei was faster than his Landorus, so on turn 1 of the first game I was incredibly dumb and decided my best option was to fish for a Sacred Fire burn on his Landorus and switch Gothitelle out to Milotic. I paid pretty dearly for that mistake, as I didn't get the burn and his Choice Banded Landorus OHKO'd my Entei and knocked Milotic low enough that Rotom's Thunderbolt could KO it on the same turn. I had lost two Pokemon on turn 1, great start to a set right? I lost my last two pretty quickly as it became easy for Mitch to switch his Tyranitar in for the final knockouts. Game 2 I figured he didn't have a reason not to lead with Landorus again, so I went with my best anti-Landorus lead. I got the Intimidate off on his Landorus and the Competitive boost on my Milotic, so I was much happier with my position. He ended up switching into Aegislash and using Explosion, but since he was at -1 it only did about 50% to both of my Pokemon. I got some solid damage on his Aegislash with Draco Meteor and +2 Scald, and at that point mitch couldn't stop my Maranga Berry Milotic. He hadn't brought Amoonguss to either game and had barely used Gardevoir, so I expected him to lead with Gardevoir and Amoonguss for a change of pace. I ended up calling it correctly, and I had my best possible combination of Pokemon to fight that duo. Mitch decided to trade Amoonguss for Salamence and just used Rage Powder and Hyper Voice, so Salamence went down to recoil and Hyper Voice damage while Entei got a Snarl off against Gardevoir. I brought in Milotic in case he brought his Landorus in, and for the 2nd game in a row I nabbed a Competitive boost. I was able to knock out the Landorus with a Scald while he took out Entei with an Earthquake. At that point, I had +2 Special Attack/+1 Special Defense against his Gardevoir and Rotom. We learned Game 2 that Milotic was faster than Rotom, so I was able to freely Scald his Rotom and Iron Head the Gardevoir for the win.

W 2-1

I finished my first Worlds with a 2-4 record and plenty of salt, but all in all it was an incredible experience. I met so many new people from around the world, which was worth the trip all alone. The couple nights we spent hanging out with the Germans were a couple of the best nights of my life, and I honestly can't wait for Worlds next year. This year it's my goal to not only get back to Worlds, but make Day 2, assuming the format stays the same. Even if I don't get an invite I'm gonna try my best to make it, I don't want to miss a chance to see my friends and hopefully meet even more. See you in San Francisco!

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow me at @jakesaysstuff!

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