An American Invasion Into Prague! (Social/Warstory Component)

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(You can read the original report on TrainerTower!)

Hello everyone, Pd0nZ here. Long time player, first-time report writer. In this report, I am going to talk about the team that I piloted to a 7-0 Swiss run in the Prague Special Event. Before I do so, however, you may be wondering how an American even ended up in Prague in the first place, especially with Charlotte Regionals both the same weekend and a lot closer than Prague.

Background

For those unfamiliar with my history in the game, I have used the game to travel to many places that I haven’t been to, and may not have visited otherwise. These are generally urban areas with tourist attractions or places with historic value. This includes 7 visits to Europe: Milan for Italian Nationals in 2015, Glasgow Regionals in 2016, London Internationals in 2016, Liverpool Regionals in 2017, London Internationals in 2017, Malmö Regionals last month, and the Prague Special Event. The city of Prague, given its rich history and the unique opportunity to play an event there, was something I could not pass up (even for a Special Event) as compared to the closer Charlotte Regionals, and I was able to make the proper arrangements to get the trip to happen. This, of course, meant I needed to adapt to a European metagame. Given that I hadn’t even adapted sufficiently to the American metagame yet, this was potentially a daunting challenge.
  
Prior to this event, my vast majority of VGC 2018 teams involved either Snorlax or trapping. I used a Terrakion/Whimsicott/Gengar team for a local at AON which I made Top 4, a Whimsicott/Gengar team at a MSS I won in Montreal, and a Mimikyu/Snorlax team that took me to a Top 64 finish in Dallas. Dark types and Amoonguss were constant problems for me, however, and the rise of Edu’s standard 6 team (Mega Metagross, Mega Tyranitar, Landorus-T, Zapdos, Amoonguss, Tapu Fini) only made things worse. By Malmö, I had added Mega Salamence to my Mimikyu/Snorlax team to help vs Amoonguss, but that was only a band-aid on a bigger problem, and it showed in the performance.
  
Gothitelle/Snorlax was my next archetype and strong results with it from Alberto Lara (Sweeper) in Oceania Internats and Nicole Saeed (TamtamVGC) in Malmö Regionals in back to back weeks gave me the confidence to try it. It delivered me mixed results; I won a PC undefeated but also went 2-2 at another PC and at another AON tournament. I was in the process of trying to improve this team when Intimidate Incineroar was released. I concluded that what I was using was no longer viable due to Incineroar’s impending rise in usage, and went with a Hard Trick Room team and a specific potential meta counter team for the Montreal MSS double. I won 1 set the whole weekend, and the bottom had fallen out. Fortunately, when you reach rock bottom, there is nowhere to go but up.

That same weekend, Benjamin Tan had won a Singapore MSS with a team that had been getting some play: Mega Metagross, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Porygon2, and Araquanid. This core had picked up strength off of Ben Markham’s (BensterVGC) Malmö Regional Finals appearance, as well as Edu’s prior use. With the release of Incineroar’s Hidden Ability, this team patched up one of its few weaknesses: no Intimidate. While waiting for my flight out of Montreal, I was exchanging messages with both Nicole and Ben on this team. In particular, Nicole was walking me through the intricacies of the team, including spreads and how to play it. Independently, I was also receiving some tough love from Kamaal Harris on Twitter about how my play style had deteriorated at this time. Realizing that this team was good, looked like something I could use successfully and that it could help me get back to playing the game, I eagerly accepted the team. I also considered, and accepted, Nicole’s suggestion to change Tapu Bulu to Mega Venusaur, which turned out to be a fantastic decision. This is what the final product that I took to Prague ended up looking like.

The Team

Araquanid-Totem @ Figy Berry
Ability: Water Bubble
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 188 Atk / 68 Def
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Liquidation
– Bug Bite
– Wide Guard
– Protect
  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 252 HP / 68 Def Araquanid: 76-90 (43.4 - 51.4% -- 5.1% chance to 2HKO
Standard Araquanid that can mostly take a hit from Landorus-T and deal damage back if needed. Wide Guard was a useful utility move at times, and Bug Bite was useful for the threat of removing crucial berries. This was Totem Form to block the use of Sky Drop on Araquanid, which normally wouldn’t be targeted with that, but it could let one switch out another Pokemon, such as Porygon2, for Araquanid, giving its partner an opening to attack when the Sky Drop fails.

Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Dazzling Gleam
– Taunt
– Protect
  
Mostly standard Tapu Koko. Taunt was chosen over Volt Switch and Hidden Power Ice to give me further help against redirection, Snorlax, and other Pokemon reliant on set up and disruption. There were a few situations where HP Ice may have been more useful, but there were more where Taunt was better to have. I did not miss Volt Switch at all in this tournament.

Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Atk / 4 Def / 116 SpD / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Low Kick
– Fake Out
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Hydro Vortex (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 116 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 170-204 (84.1 - 100.9%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO (based on Muddy Water)
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Hydro Vortex (185 BP) vs. 252 HP / 116 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 182-216 (90 - 106.9%) -- 37.5% chance to OHKO (based on Hydro Pump)
  • Also has around a 75% chance to take a Gigavolt Havoc, then a Thunderbolt in Electric Terrain from Tapu Koko, allowing Incineroar to KO using Knock Off followed by Flare Blitz.
This Incineroar ended up being on the bulky side and had a decent amount of speed creep. However, I still had to deal with a speed tie in one set and was actually outsped in a 2nd set. Berry, Z Move, and Assault Vest Incineroar are all legitimate options at this point in the meta, and I saw all 3 of them during my run. This one was Assault Vest based in part because of the damage calcs listed above. Incineroar’s 4th move is also subject to change. I chose Low Kick to help me in the mirror and against Fighting weak Pokemon such as Mega Tyranitar. However, depending on the item, other moves are also viable, such as Protect and U-turn.

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 140 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Thunderbolt
– Recover
– Trick Room

Porygon2 does Porygon2 things: take hits, sets up Trick Room, recovers off damage, threatens Ice weak Pokemon, and otherwise chips things. The EVs allow survival of Hydro Vortex in the Rain from Ludicolo and the follow-up Scald from Pelipper. However, Brine variants will still get the KO. Since I did not run into that specific combo in the tournament (even though I faced a Rain team), its EVs ended up functioning as general bulk.

Metagross @ Metagrossite
Ability: Clear Body
Level: 50
EVs: 124 HP / 132 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Iron Head
– Ice Punch
– Stomping Tantrum
– Protect
  • 252+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 124 HP / 0 Def Mega Metagross: 146-174 (85.3 - 101.7%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
Mostly standard Mega Metagross, but I opted for extra bulk to better take Incineroar’s Flare Blitz. This spread came in handy during this tournament, as I did survive a Flare Blitz with regular Metagross at 1 HP. The extra HP can also assist in taking additional attacks.

Venusaur @ Venusaurite
Ability: Chlorophyll
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 76 SpA / 52 SpD / 12 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Energy Ball
– Sludge Bomb
– Leech Seed
– Protect

Spread came out of the Trainer Tower Damage Calculator, except 8 HP was moved to Speed to both speed creep and cover a very rare situation where this Venusaur outspeeds neutral Pheromosa in the Sun before Mega Evolving, obviously losing that ability to do so the turn it Mega Evolves. Energy Ball was chosen over Giga Drain because various calculations showed Energy Ball on the cusp of 2HKOing various Pokemon, while Giga Drain was a 3HKO, and healing was taken care of by Leech Seed. I also needed to 1 v 1 a Porygon2 at one point, and Energy Ball’s Sp. Def drop side effect onto the Porygon2 won me the game that I would have lost on Your Time otherwise.

Venusaur was undoubtedly the MVP of the team and my tournament run. It's superior typing, ability, bulk, and Leech Seed recovery gave it the ability to win games by itself, which it did multiple times. I stalled out Mega Metagrosses, a Mega Gyarados, a Cresselia without Psychic, and various other Pokemon throughout the tournament. Its Grass typing gave it the ability to ignore Amoonguss and its Poison typing helped greatly against Fairy types. When the mirror matchup used Tapu Bulu and even a typical Landorus-T, I found myself at an advantage, and Mega Venusaur would generally be the Pokemon that could drag me over the finish line for a win. This Pokemon was an absolute beast.

During the day, as I got more comfortable with playing the team in Best of 3 Live Competition, I found myself bringing Mega Venusaur, Incineroar, Tapu Koko, and Porygon2 frequently, with Mega Metagross and Araquanid in play to cover specific matchups where I felt one of the other 4 Pokemon would be useless. The leads would be based on the matchup I was facing from my opponent and were not static.

My Tournament Run

Round 1 – vs. Lilli Maier (1-6)
Win | 1-0
 
I can only imagine how it must feel to attend your first tournament, sit down excited and ready to go, and your first opponent traveled across the ocean to attend this event. This is exactly what happened to Lilli. To her credit, she acquitted herself well and gave me 2 tough games. Her Serperior was an annoyance, as it packed Taunt and Swagger, causing me to have to re-position myself to get rid of these effects. I also froze her Persian on the switch in during Game 1, which kept momentum in my favor for the game. I was also able to close out Game 2 and started 1-0.

Lilli, if you end up reading this report, I hope you continue your journey in this game. We've all attended our first tournament at some point. Lord knows I remember how it felt, even now. Germany is historically one of the stronger regions in VGC, which is a great opportunity for you, and I saw you talking to Hibiki and Kelly Kato in between one of the later rounds. Feel free to reach out to me or any of the people you ended up talking to if you would like additional practice or guidance, especially if you are attending Stuttgart next month (this week now!). We will gladly help you out with that! This goes for anyone new as well. We’ve all been there. Reach out to some veterans of the game if you need us!

Round 2 – vs. Ikaros Olofsson (@MegurokoSylveon) - 3-4
Win | 2-0
I sat down, saw the team matchup and a ton of obscenities were shouted in my head. I last played vs Linoone when Tman used it at AON. I had a slightly favorable matchup vs it, and Tommy still beat me. This team, in comparison, had very little. Fortunately, I caught a break when my opponent left the Linoone mode behind in Game 1. Mega Metagross took a Feather Dance from the Hawlucha, but was still able to OHKO the Salazzle with Stomping Tantrum, and I was eventually able to come out on top.

Game 2, figuring he would lead the Linoone mode, had me lead Tapu Koko and Metagross. Sure enough, the Greninja and Linoone came out. The Scarf Mat Block incoming would enable Linoone to set up Belly Drum easily, normally. However, this Tapu Koko was carrying Taunt, and I was able to pierce through the Mat Block and stop the Belly Drum, for now. Volcarona and likely Paras were coming in on a double switch, but which slots? Hoping to nab the Volcarona, I double targeted the Linoone slot and got the Paras instead. But there was hope! The Thunderbolt paralyzed the Paras on the switch in. Realizing Rage Powder and Quiver Dance was incoming, I had one chance to stop the Volcarona set up, so I fired Gigavolt Havoc into the Volcarona slot, hoped for the Paras paralysis, and I got it. From there, it was a matter of properly switching, maintaining board positioning, and making sure the Linoone could never Belly Drum, and I was able to eke out the closest 2-0 win imaginable.

I will be blunt. I got lucky to win this set. Sometimes you need a few little things to go your way though. They can drastically change the course of your day.

Round 3 – vs. Fevzi Azkan (4-3, Top 32)
Win | 3-0
 
Gothitelle. Mawile. Rain. The worst archetype imaginable for me to play against historically. I had never performed well against it going back to 2014, I was destroyed by Ender with it in the Boston Open Final in 2015, and even now, Maura Hazen 2-0ed me easily at AON with it at the beginning of the format. I couldn’t even remember the last time I took a game vs the team, never mind a set. Now, it was staring me down, threatening to derail my promising start. Fortunately, Venusaur and Araquanid are decent Pokemon to have against the archetype, and I knew I would rely heavily on them.

Game 1 was a slaughter. I didn’t even see the 4th Pokemon, as Gothitelle was capable of Shattered Psyche and Z-Trick Room, and Mawile just swept through my team with Rock Slides in Trick Room. Games 2 and 3 I made an adjustment and brought Regular Metagross to help, as I realized he was not using the Rain mode, and Metagross could deal Super Effective damage to Incineroar, Mawile, and Tapu Bulu, as well as leaving Gothitelle incapable to touching it effectively. In Game 2, the extra bulk on Metagross came in clutch, as it took a Flare Blitz from Incineroar and was left with 1 HP, meaning the Shattered Psyche from Gothitelle went into the Metagross as a double target, letting Araquanid survive and deal damage unscathed. In Game 3, I was able to get rid of Gothitelle earlier than Games 1 and 2, and was able to restore my positioning. Some careful play later, and I had clutched out a close 2-1 over one of my most hated archetypes. I am happy Fevzi managed to get Top 32 out of his 4-3, because his play in this set definitely deserved something.

Round 4 – vs. Miguel Gonzajlez (5-2, Top Cut)
Win | 4-0
    
Ah, the essential mirror match. I should have an advantage here with Mega Venusaur, right? In both games, he brought Incineroar, Metagross, Porygon2, and Araquanid. By playing my game, along with the help of a timely Taunt on Porygon2 in Game 2, I was able to win 2-0. I saw that his Metagross had Zen Headbutt and Hammer Arm, so I left the set thinking I dodged a bullet.

Round 5 – vs. Bartosz Ekiert (@NaociakVGC) - 5-2, Top 16
Win | 5-0

Bartosz was a frustrating opponent to play against, in part because he played what he had so well. All 3 games he brought Cresselia, Gyarados, and Incineroar, with Kartana coming game 1 and Landorus coming games 2 and 3. All 3 games he positioned himself to where he had Cresselia firing off Helping Hands to his Dragon Dance Mega Gyarados. I was just able to stay ahead by cycling Incineroar’s Intimidate. I was ahead in game 1, but Cresselia was able to freeze Mega Venusaur after a missed Leech Seed, and it just sat there until the last turn of the game. After a very close game 2 where I remember Mega Venusaur clutching it out, we went to game 3. Cresselia had revealed Ice Beam, Helping Hand, and Trick Room games 1 & 2, and Mega Venusaur was not hit with a Psychic in any game. I concluded the 4th move was Ally Switch, but when was it getting used? The answer was Game 3, as he used it to protect his Mega Gyarados. Venusaur’s bulk and Leech Seed came in clutch, however, and after a war of attrition, taking Waterfalls, Crunches, and Ice Beams, it was able to wear down Bartosz’s team and give me the 2-1 victory. At this point, I had clinched at a minimum 60 CP. The next 2 rounds would determine how much more I could get.

Round 6 – vs. Andrea Nozza (@ScuLandon) - 6-1, Top Cut
Win | 6-0
    
I had achieved a few Top 32s, 2 Top 16s, and a U.S. Nationals Travel Award in 2016, but since the Boston Open, I had not cut a Regional Level Event in nearly two and a half years. I had 2 chances to put an end to this drought, and my first one was vs Andrea. This was, like Miguel, a borderline mirror match, and that would be confirmed when our Incineroars speed tied, which made for some awkward playing and positioning. Like Miguel, Andrea also brought Metagross, Incineroar, Porygon2, and Araquanid to all 3 games, leading Metagross and Incineroar each game. This set was a matter of who outplayed who, and once again, Mega Venusaur was worth its weight in gold here. After 3 close games, I was able to eke out the 2-1 victory, and I achieved my 1st Regional Level Top Cut since August 2015.

Round 7 – vs Lukas Müller (@KnappiKing) - 6-1, Top Cut
Win | 7-0
    
I had reached Table 1 in the Final Swiss Round, and I had achieved Top Cut. My reward was a matchup with one of Europe’s strongest players. I struggled with how to approach this matchup. How much information did I want to reveal? How much of my team would be spread around and dissected before Top Cut the next day? Would it matter how much information I withheld? Could my playstyle be picked up and taken advantage of if I played Lukas again the next day? Ultimately, I decided I wanted the 7-0, as a player with my results history may not get a chance to be undefeated at a Regional Level Event ever again.

Sitting down, I saw that the team was yet another mirror, but an even closer one, as it was the team composition Nicole gave me, but before the Venusaur modification. Mega Venusaur was the key here, and I was determined to ride it to 7-0. Lukas showed that his Incineroar was faster than mine and had U-turn, making it hard for me to hit it, and keeping my own Incineroar weakened. His Tapu Koko also showed Volt Switch over Taunt, which is more standard and assisted with Intimidate shuffling, but it also gave me the ability to get into Trick Room with Porygon2 more easily. He was able to win Game 1 and outplayed me in Game 2, setting up a position where my own Tapu Koko had burned its Protect, and it would be KOed by his Tapu Koko with Gigavolt Havoc. My only out was a Double Protect, so I went for it, and I got it. Game 3 I was still on the backfoot, but Mega Venusaur kept me in the game. At this point, I had somewhat picked up his switching habits, and the Tapu Koko was a huge threat in the back. I locked in Sludge Bomb on his Leech Seeded Mega Metagross slot, got the switch out, and got the OHKO on the Tapu Koko. I was pumped from that! The 7-0 was in sight! From there, I was able to clean up the game and the set, and achieved something I never thought I was capable of: an undefeated Swiss Run in a Regional Level Event.

For once, the question for me wasn’t “will I bubble or not?” It was “who will I play?” Standings went up, and it was a thrill to see myself at Number 1, at 7-0. Who I was playing though, was decisively less thrilling. The 8th seed was Miguel Gonzajlez, the only 5-2 to make cut, and the only Mega Metagross I knew of packing Zen Headbutt. After taking in Prague and spending the night with friends, I went back to my hotel room to plan. I made cursory plans against the other members of Top Cut in case I won, but I focused on Miguel for obvious reasons, and I did not like what I was seeing.

Final Swiss Standings before Top Cut

At the end of our Swiss set, I realized Miguel had a team advantage on me. As I began to study his 6 more in depth, I realized just how much of an advantage he had. His Mega Metagross, packing Zen Headbutt and Hammer Arm, had ways to check both Mega Venusaur and Porygon2. His Tapu Koko was a Bulky Fast Assault Vest Variant with Electroweb, which was able to slow down my Fast Mode. Nature’s Madness could also bypass my Mega Venusaur’s bulk and hit it for 50%, while I was unable to OHKO his Tapu Koko with Sludge Bomb. His Landorus-T was Substitute Groundium Z, which could easily block my Leech Seeds and do a massive chunk to any of my Pokemon besides Araquanid, which itself was actually covered by Mega Metagross and Tapu Koko. Incineroar would almost certainly becoming as his 4th Pokemon for general support. These 4, working together, could check my team’s Fast, Slow, and Bulk modes. I assume he came to these same realizations, either by himself or with Team Spain. My best chance I thought would be to show him a different look from what he saw during Swiss, so I decided to go with Tapu Koko, Mega Metagross, Porygon2, and Araquanid in the hopes I could throw him off a little bit. I woke up on Sunday, went to the venue, and got ready to play my 4th ever Regional Level Top Cut.

Top 8 – vs. Miguel Gonzajlez
LWL | Loss
    
Miguel led Incineroar and Metagross Game 1, which wasn’t a change from our Swiss Set, but as I predicted, he did have Tapu Koko and Landorus-T in the back. I got slaughtered. None of my Pokemon could do enough damage, he was able to effectively stall out the Trick Room turns, and he executed his strategy to perfection. I needed to make a massive change in Game 2 to even have a chance.

Miguel continued the same strategy Game 2. I was not going to let my MVP sit on the sidelines and let my tournament run die without it having a say. I went back to my core of Mega Venusaur, Incineroar, Tapu Koko, and Porygon 2, and I was determined to bring this to a Game 3. His Incineroar fired off an Inferno Overdrive this game, taking away the bigger threat of Landorus’s Tectonic Rage. My Gigavolt Havoc took a KO, and eventually, Mega Venusaur, severely weakened, but not broken, was able to take a Flare Blitz from Incineroar at about 80 HP, barely hang on, hit a Leech Seed, was able to heal up, and defeat the Incineroar with a Sludge Bomb to bring it to a Game 3.

I had about 2 minutes to decide what to do for Game 3. I needed Araquanid in this matchup to have a realistic chance by absorbing the likely Tectonic Rage coming my way. But I also needed what the other 4 Pokemon brought, and I knew I was going to take a Tectonic Rage one way or another. But how? I eventually determined the risk to bring Araquanid was too great, and I had to use the 4 I had been using most of my Swiss Rounds. I was either setting up a meeting with David Koutesh in the Top 4, or going out to Miguel in Top 8, on the backs of the Pokemon that brought me here.

I got the situation early game where Porygon2 was staring down a -1 Landorus and a neutral Mega Metagross. I needed the Trick Room, and I sincerely believed that Porygon2 could take the double attack, hang on, and get it off. If Hammer Arm missed, I would have definitely gotten it off, barring a critical hit from Landorus. Mega Metagross’s Hammer Arm did over 110 damage, and the Tectonic Rage sent Porygon2 into the Core of the Earth. After it came out and returned to the Earth’s surface, Porygon2 was out of health, out of the battle, and I was out of time. I tried as much as I could, even Leech Seeding my own Incineroar to get back into the game, but it was too much. With my weakened Tapu Koko facing a 3 on 1, including a Landorus behind a Substitute, I called it and congratulated Miguel on his victory. It was well played and a well-executed strategy on his end.

I decided to calculate the damage on Porygon2 to see if I had any chance at all. This is what I found
  • 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Hammer Arm vs. 244 HP / 124 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 102-122 (53.4 - 63.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 244 HP / 124 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 78-93 (40.8 - 48.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
I did have a chance to survive the double onslaught, but it wasn’t that great. In retrospect, it was probably about the same odds I had of winning this set as a whole, so it was poetic in a way. There was also no guarantee I would have won the set if I got the Trick Room off, but I wish I could have seen it. It would have been a fantastic way to go out, win or lose. Well played Miguel. You thoroughly earned this set victory.

This Top 8 finish put me at 319 CP on the year. For the other 104 players playing in Prague on a 300 CP bar (103 EU, 1 APAC), this would be enough for a Worlds Invite. However, since I am a North American player, I am 81 points shy as of this report. If I play the way I played in this tournament during the rest of the year however, I have no doubt I will clinch my Worlds Invite this year.



The City of Prague and Socialization

The best part of these events are always the socializing that people can do with each other as well as the locations that these events are held at. This event was no exception. In particular, European events are always interesting because the events are typically held in historic or urban areas, and the faces I interact with are different than US events, which gives me the opportunity to bond with a new group of people.

Friday night involved drinks at the bar with some of the Swiss Players, including Nils Dierauer and Alessandro Weiler. It was a good time, and an easy night to ease me into Czech time, as flying those distances obviously leaves one susceptible to jet lag.

Saturday involved the infamous Ice Pub, with the Throne of Ice. After Billa took a picture of himself there, I had to have that experience. I set off with Pontus, Nicole, Latsu, and some BeNeLux players to find this place. Mission accomplished.


Let it be known that I look sick on this Ice Throne. Others who reached the Ice Pub Throne included Billa, Pontus, Proman, and Erik Anderson.

I also had a nice group to be with during this trip.


We also got to explore some of the Old Town and the Charles Bridge on Saturday Night and Sunday, with Kelly Kato and Hibiki joining us on Sunday. It was very cold, but well worth it. Especially after I found a food stand near the historic sites selling waffles on a stick drenched with white chocolate, milk chocolate, Nutella, and coconut. I have no picture of this, because I finished it in 2 minutes; it was that good.

 
 

Each night ended with a visit to Pontus’s AirBnB, which was a top floor penthouse where we all chilled, had nice views of the city, and people took on Hibiki with 2 teams as it was live streamed to Twitter, including the Spinarak team that was in the MSS on Sunday.

This is the view we had from Pontus' AirBnB.
I also rode to the airport with MudsdaleVGC and FransVGC, as their flights to the Netherlands were around the same time as the first leg of my flight home, which was headed to Switzerland.



Closing Thoughts

There are a few people I need to thank for this weekend.
  • The most obvious person is Nicole Saeed. She reached out to me at my lowest point after the Montreal MSS double, got me the team, walked me through it, gave me the Mega Venusaur suggestion, helped me with various ideas I had and was a great person to hang out with throughout the whole weekend. I don’t do as well in this tournament, nor do I have as good of a time as I did in Prague, without her. She also did the art at the top of this article. She did so much for me with this team, the art, and the production of the article. Thank you so much Nicole.
  • I also need to thank Benjamin Tan, as I am pretty sure the Singapore MSS winning team is where Nicole got the team from (along with her matches vs Benster in Malmö), but also because Ben reached out to me as well after my Montreal performance with this team and some corresponding advice. Thank you also Ben.
  • Kamaal Harris is also deserving of thanks. He is also a long time player, so he has seen what I have done in the past, thus he knew what I was capable of. He got on me on Twitter for how I was playing the game after the Montreal MSS Double, but they were words I needed to hear, and they were not sugarcoated. I’m glad that he said them, because they were true, but it also showed I could take constructive criticism, apply it, and better myself after its application. The challenge is keeping this kind of play going, but at least I am on a better path now, both gameplay wise and CP wise. Thank you Kamaal.
  • The people I hung out with of course deserve thanks, as I travel as much for the socialization as the CP opportunities at this point. Pontus, Nicole, always a pleasure. Same to Hibiki, Kelly Kato, and Erik, as well as my Swiss friends. Many people thought I had met in person for the first time, including Latsu and a large contingent of the BeNeLux crew, such as DjuxVGC, MudsdaleVGC, and FransVGC. I also took a ride to the airport with Mudsdale and Frans on the Monday I left, which in of itself was a fun experience. Pleasure meeting everyone. Enjoy the Gible Romy.
I will conclude with a message to the community at large, but especially the US community. In June 2015, it was legal, but mostly taboo, to leave your own region to play for Worlds Invites. However, with me realizing the immense potential for international socialization and bonding as well as the ability to see places I otherwise might not go, even more so than the additional CP opportunities, I decided to buck tradition and travel to Italian Nationals.

Since then, I have crossed the ocean 6 more times in 3 years, and each visit, while not all ending with CP, has left me with lifelong memories. The taboo associated with international travel, in large part due to International Championships now becoming a thing, has largely vanished as well. For example, Tman was in Malmö with me last month, and Yuree has confirmed his attendance at Toronto Regionals in May. It makes me feel very good to see the International Community now taking advantage of each other outside of merely 1 week at Worlds a year.

Of course, I understand people have different time and money commitments. If you are able to get to Europe for one of their events, however, I highly suggest you attend a Regional or a Special Event there. It will open your eyes to experiences you would not otherwise get if your play is exclusively at US events. I understand time and money can preclude this, so please do what you can reasonably afford. If you do get the opportunity, however, go! You will not regret it.

I have been blessed to be able to use this game to travel, see places I would otherwise likely not see, connect with people across the world, and to also compete at an overall high level in my VGC history. I look forward to seeing you all at my next event.


The featured image for this team report was created by Nicole Saeed.

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