Pick Your Poison – Top 16 Hartford Regionals Report

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Hey guys, my name is Charlie Pollock (Soulchuck) and this is the team report on my 13th place finish at Hartford Regionals. I wasn’t originally going to make a report, but then I recalled a tweet by Aditya Subramanian (Ck49) which said more people should make team reports, even for teams that don’t top cut or place extremely high. I remember first getting into VGC back in late 2016 and looking at all the different team reports from that year, and also from years past. They not only help document a team and tournament but help tell the story of that season. As a new player a few years back, team reports were a great place to start learning a new format and try out established teams to hopefully build something of my own. In this report, I not only wanted to talk about the team itself but my overall tournament experience. Between the people I was with and the matches that were played, it was a hell of a time. Enjoy the report!

Teambuilding Process

After attending the Oaks regional back in September, as well as another local later that month, I didn’t go to an event until a small Connecticut Premier Challenge a couple weeks before Hartford due to work conflicts from October to early April. I used a fun Xerneas/Groudon team that featured Alolan Persian at that event, but I wanted to use something else for the Regional. Honestly, I had no idea where to start. I would still keep up with VGC from watching streams, playing occasionally on Showdown, and keeping up with VGC Twitter in general. I wrote to my friends Adam Warfield (FrodoInRealLife) and Jake Hughes (TheHiveMind) about where to start. In the end, we decided Xerneas/Rayquaza would be the way to go.

This was probably one of the more fun teambuilding processes because Xerneas/Rayquaza teams have an assortment of different Pokémon to be utilized with the 2 restricted Pokémon, plus building with friends was always great since we got to bounce our ideas off of each other. We decided on a core four to build around: Xerneas, Rayquaza, Incineroar, Tapu Fini. Adam tested Gyarados in the Tapu Fini slot, and for a bit, I tested Alolan Persian in the Incineroar slot. After a while, we didn’t want to lose the positives that Tapu Fini and Incineroar brought to the team. That just left the last two slots. I had talked to another friend of mine, Sohaib Mufti (Sohaib) and he mentioned he was using a similar version of Xerneas/Rayquaza but with Crobat. I loved that idea and realized it paired really well with Xerneas/Rayquaza. He was also testing Landorus-T as the last slot, but after testing, I didn’t feel that comfortable using it. Even though Nihilego was going to be popular on Xerneas/Rayquaza teams after it won the European International, I realized my matchup against Trick Room wasn’t great, so I added Amoonguss for that matchup. I’ll get into the specifics of each Pokémon down below.

The Team

Rayquaza-Mega @ Assault Vest  
Ability: Delta Stream  
Level: 50  
EVs: 108 HP / 36 Atk / 4 Def / 108 SpD / 252 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
– Dragon Ascent  
– Extreme Speed  
– Earth Power  
– Crunch  

Mega Rayquaza is incredible in Ultra Series. With a few different viable items you could put on it, to the different moves you can use, it’s a pain to face in a Best of 1 scenario. We tested both Assault Vest and Choice Band. Both items have huge pros for them. The damage that Choice Band provides is outrageous and can turn a game around easily. However, what we realized was that Assault Vest was the way we wanted to play Rayquaza. We wanted Rayquaza to stay in the game for as long as possible, and Assault Vest gave it the best chance to do so. It was also nice to use Dragon Ascent and not immediately faint to another move due to the defense drops. 

Adam came up with the original spread which sported a Jolly nature with some more investment in Special Defense, but personally, I wanted some more offensive presence to the Rayquaza as it was not picking up important knockouts that the team needed. So, I ran an Adamant nature with max speed. This outspeeds max Timid Xerneas while giving Rayquaza the Attack stat it needs to do some solid damage. 

Crobat and Rayquaza’s synergy was incredible because, with Super Fang, Rayquaza was in range to pick up key knockouts to my opponent’s team. The ability to have the bulk it had, while still being able to do some good damage, was a blessing. Crunch was a solid last move to have. Outside of Incineroar, my Bronzong answers were very limited, so to have a solid way to deal good damage to it was very nice. It was also nice to hit Lunala hard without sacrificing some defense. The only other move I was considering over Crunch was Overheat, which would have been nice with all the Ferrothorn running around the event, but I don’t regret running Crunch at all. 

Offensive Calcs:
  • 36+ Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 60 Def Tapu Fini: 108-127 (61 - 71.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 36+ Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 140 Def Xerneas: 115-136 (49.3 - 58.3%) -- 98.8% chance to 2HKO
  • 0- SpA Mega Rayquaza Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 68 SpD Primal Groudon: 102-122 (49.2 - 58.9%) -- 98.8% chance to 2HKO
  • 0- SpA Mega Rayquaza Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 108 SpD Shuca Berry Stakataka: 90-108 (53.5 - 64.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 36+ Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Primal Kyogre: 138-163 (66.6 - 78.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
Defensive Calcs:
  • +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 108 HP / 108 SpD Assault Vest Mega Rayquaza: 162-192 (83.5 - 98.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Ice Beam vs. 108 HP / 108 SpD Assault Vest Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 88-104 (45.3 - 53.6%) -- 21.9% chance to 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Nihilego Continental Crush (160 BP) vs. 108 HP / 108 SpD Assault Vest Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 80-96 (41.2 - 49.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 108 HP / 108 SpD Assault Vest Mega Rayquaza: 106-126 (54.6 - 64.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 116 HP / 212 Def / 44 SpA / 12 SpD / 124 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

Xerneas is a monster. It pairs well with Rayquaza and it can just win a set once it’s set up. I could go on forever about how good Xerneas is, but you get the point. It’s not my favorite legendary to use, but it was fun to play. Nothing special about the moves, but the spread was awesome. All credit goes to Abdul Barrie (Big Slim) for the spread, who got it from the greatest GS Cup player Joe Costagolia (c9lifeorb). The physical bulk came in clutch a few times.
  • -1 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 116 HP / 212 Def Xerneas: 61-73 (28.2-33.7%) -- 0.8% chance to 3HKO
  • 252+ Atk Choice Band Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 116 HP / 212 Def Xerneas: 183-216 (84.7 - 100%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 116 HP / 12 SpD Xerneas in Electric Terrain: 181-214 (83.7 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry  
Ability: Misty Surge  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 52 SpA / 92 SpD / 4 Spe  
Calm Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
– Scald
– Icy Wind  
– Nature's Madness  
– Light Screen

As I mentioned before, it was hard to replace Tapu Fini on this version of Xerneas/Rayquaza. Psychic Spam isn’t a fun matchup, and just from Tapu Fini being there, it makes match up better to play against. We tested a variety of different Water-types, but both Tapu Fini’s bulk and support were priceless to this version. Icy Wind and Scald were no-brainers. Nature’s Madness was a nice option to have as it can break substitutes, and get an important chip for Rayquaza to clean up later. It was a nice pseudo-Crobat at times when it came to primarily chipping the opponent’s Pokémon for Rayquaza and Xerneas to clean up. The night before the event, I added Light Screen over Heal Pulse. I think I only used it once all tournament (honestly, I barely brought Tapu Fini at all, but just having it as an option was important to have). I was debating to bring Haze over Light Screen, but with the additions of Crobat and Amoonguss, I felt like I could afford to go for the extra Special Defense bulk. I can’t tell you where I got this spread from, but it also wasn’t too special. There’s probably a better Tapu Fini spread out there, but this one wasn’t bad by any means. 
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 92+ SpD Tapu Fini: 128-152 (72.3 - 85.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Ultra Necrozma Light That Burns the Sky vs. 252 HP / 92+ SpD Tapu Fini: 139-165 (78.5 - 93.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Incineroar @ Incinium Z  
Ability: Intimidate  
Level: 50  
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 236 SpD / 28 Spe  
Careful Nature  
– Darkest Lariat  
– Flare Blitz  
– U-turn  
– Fake Out

There are no other Pokémon in this format that can do what Incineroar can do, or at least as well. Solid typing, Intimidate, Fake Out, and U-Turn, makes it the ultimate positioning weapon. The only thing to consider was which item to use. When looking at the rest of the team, it made sense to run its signature Z-Move, Malicious Moonsault. It came with the price of not running something like Snarl, but I was fine with that to put on major pressure to the different checks and counters to the team. The spread allows it to survive a +2 Moonblast which is really nice. Even with only 4 Attack EVs, the Z-Move still picks up important knockouts. 
  • +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 169-199 (84.5 - 99.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Primal Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 152-182 (76 - 91%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Crobat @ Focus Sash  
Ability: Inner Focus  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
Jolly Nature  
– Super Fang  
– Taunt  
– Tailwind  
– Haze

Crobat was the glue that started to bring this team together. Its role was to set up Rayquaza and Xerneas for early and late-game success. People don’t respect Crobat enough. You can get up a Tailwind, Taunt an opposing speed control on the opponent’s team, or just chip away with Super Fang. Before you know it, most of the opponent’s team has a majority of its health lost, and the rest of the team can clean up. Haze was great not only to control the opposing stat changes (Geomancy, terrain seeds, etc), but it helped get rid of Rayquaza’s defensive drops from Dragon Accent. Overall, really fun Pokémon to use. The only thing I'd change would be to use a Timid nature instead of Jolly to take less from Foul Play.

Amoonguss @ Payapa Berry  
Ability: Regenerator  
Level: 50  
EVs: 252 HP / 180 Def / 76 SpD  
Sassy Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
– Grass Knot  
– Clear Smog  
– Spore  
– Rage Powder

Amoonguss was the last member of the team. As I noted earlier, the team didn’t do so hot against Trick Room in testing. It was put on strictly for Trick Room support and other Amoonguss things. If an opposing team doesn’t have an answer to a Xerneas/Amoonguss lead, it’s GG. I was going back and forth between Grass Knot and Protect. However, I went with Grass Knot just in case I faced Soak Shedinja. I didn’t want that to be an auto loss, plus having some extra damage against Kyogre and other heavy mons wasn’t that bad. The last question I had was the item. I tested Mental Herb, but I was still getting destroyed by the ever-popular Tapu Lele. It went with Payapa Berry in the end, and I didn’t regret that decision whatsoever.

Common Leads

crobat.pngincineroar.png  +  rayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.png
Xerneas/Rayquaza teams have multiple options with constructing the members, and it’s no different for the leads. It’s very match-up dependent, but you can’t go wrong leading any of these combinations. Crobat + Rayquaza provides an insane amount of pressure off the bat. With Rayquaza’s move coverage, it’s easy to get off some important damage right away, and with Super Fang, possibly an early knockout to a big threat on the opponent’s team. Incineroar + Rayquaza was nice and can help set up some nice positioning while still putting on a little pressure right away with the Z-Move. The lead of Incineroar and Xerneas made it such that Xern could survive even more than it already could, and is a good lead.

crobat.pngincineroar.png  +  tapu-fini.png
This lead combination is nice against Xerneas/Groudon and Ultra Necrozma teams with Smeargle. Tapu Fini becomes a pseudo-Crobat here. Early Nature's Madness damage output can be very beneficial to this team for Rayquaza and Xerneas to clean up later on. If they lead Groudon, you always have the option to bring in Rayquaza and Scald. I’d lead Crobat almost every time if they had Xerneas because, without Roar and Haze, it’s easy for opposing Xerneas to set up and end the game right after Turn 1. 

More times than not, you’ll find that teams have ways to stop redirection + Geomancy. However, it’s a nice late set lead if your opponent doesn’t expect it. I’d almost always have Incineroar in the back to help clean up the game from there. Like I said before, Amoonguss is so important against Trick Room, so leading it against those teams isn’t a bad idea either. With a lot of matchups, this team offers flexibility as to which Poison-type you chose to bring. Both offer similar, yet different types of support to the team. The term “Pick Your Poison” really fits with this team.

Team's Matchups

Thanks to Crobat, this is a very nice matchup. It’s hard for both restricted Pokémon to stop Crobat from supporting the rest of the team. Super Fang helps put both in range of Rayquaza, and Taunt/Haze stops any setup opportunities they might have.

Incineroar and Tapu Fini are extremely important in this matchup. If Tapu Fini has its Terrain up, Necrozma and Tapu Lele definitely can’t hit as hard. Incineroar can get rid of the big threats with its Z-Move, and Tapu Fini always pressures Groudon with a Scald when Rayquaza is in the back. I’d much rather face Dawn-Wings than Dusk-Mane, as Dusk-Mane is much harder to get solid damage on.

An annoying matchup, but doable. You just have to make sure you don’t lose key Pokémon early in games without taking out the key threats. If they prioritize setting up Trick Room, Amoonguss is very helpful, just as long as their Rayquaza is taken care of. Stakataka isn’t the most fun thing to face either. If it’s Shuca Berry, Super Fang or Nature’s Madness is crucial for taking it out fast.

My Tournament Run

To be honest, it’s been a couple weeks since the regional so I don’t remember a whole lot about each game. However, I’ll do my best to summarize each set to the best of my knowledge, as well as some other fun stuff that happened throughout the day.

Round 1 – vs. Alex Lebel (Warchomp)
Game 1: incineroar.pngcrobat.pngrayquaza-mega.pngtapu-fini.png vs. accelgor.pnggengar-mega.pngtapu-lele.pngnecrozma-dawn.png
Game 2: incineroar.pngcrobat.pngrayquaza-mega.pngtapu-fini.png vs. accelgor.pngtapu-lele.pnggengar-mega.pngnecrozma-dawn.png
Game 3: incineroar.pngrayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.pngamoonguss.png vs. accelgor.pngtapu-lele.pnggengar-mega.pngnecrozma-dawn.png

Going into this regional, the last team I wanted to play with Ultra Necrozma, but here I was round one facing it. I wasn’t sure what my exact game plan was going to be, but I knew that Incineroar was going to be super important in this matchup. I was able to win game one, but in game 2, I misplayed by Z-moving his Tapu Lele turn one instead of Accelgor. Before I got the move off, he Acid Sprayed Crobat to break the Focus Sash, which allowed him to take the knock out on my bat. I brought in Tapu Fini as he switched in Gengar. Alex proceeded to double Protect his Pokémon, allowing him to trap my own by using Encore and Disable on Incineroar and then Tapu Fini shortly after. Even though he had Game 2 won, I didn’t forfeit right away as I wanted to take that time to clear my mind and think about my game plan heading into the final game of the set. It was a much needed few minutes as Game 2 was winding down.

In Game 3, I knew I had to get rid of the Accelgor, and fast. Earlier in the set, it was revealed that Rayquaza was Assault Vest, and he knew if he wanted to get rid of it fast he’d need to Acid Spray. So, I completely changed my game plan from the first two games and switched my Poison-type. Game 3 went exactly as I planned. I led Incineroar and Rayquaza while he led Tapu Lele and Accelgor. He Acid Sprays Rayquaza, thus putting it in range for a Psychic from his Tapu Lele, while I Z-moved and got rid of Accelgor. He then brings in Dawn Wings Nercozma as I brought in Xerneas. After a Protect with Xerneas (Alex doubled into it) and U-turn, I was able to get Amoonguss to help Xerneas set up its boosts. Thanks to Amoonguss’ Payapa Berry, I was able to redirect both Psychic and Light that Burns the Sky away from Xerneas while it set up Geomancy completely unharmed. Xerneas was able to take out Tapu Lele and Necrozma, then Incineroar was brought in shortly after to help support Xerneas against Gengar to seal up a very stressful win. Alex was so nice before and after the set, and it was a pleasure to meet him. Side note: he recently just earned his Worlds invite! Congratulations Alex!!

Result: WLW | Record: 1-0

Round 2 – vs. Irving Johnson (Irving)
Game 1: crobat.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.pngxerneas-active.png vs. kyogre-primal.pngpheromosa.pngtapu-lele.pngcelesteela.png
Game 2: amoonguss.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.png vs. manectric-mega.pngtapu-lele.pngkyogre-primal.pngpheromosa.png

Irving is a really good friend of mine and is always fun to hang out with at events. I was sad I had to play him but I knew the set would be a ton of fun. I remember looking at team preview and really not sure what I was about to face. Plus, because it was Irving, I really didn’t know what was about to come out of his team. Game 1 went fast as I Super Fang and Dragon Ascent into his Kyogre early in the game, and he decided to forfeit the turn after to preserve information. I understood this to a point, however, Celesteela is a pain to face with my team with only Incineroar really threaten it. When there’s a Celesteela, there’s a way. Game 2 was a little more stressful as he brought Manectric. Thankfully, I decided to be cheeky and lead Amoonguss and Xerneas to get off a free Geomancy. He couldn’t stop the redirection, but he revealed Snarl on Manectric which made things harder. When he revealed the rest of his team Game 2, I realized he didn’t bring Celesteela. Just like that, I was 2-0 after two rounds. This set showed the flexibility the team showed with having both Crobat and Amoonguss on the team!

Result: WW | Record: 2-0

Round 3 – vs. Cameron Kicak (Nightfront)
Game 1: crobat.pngtapu-fini.pngrayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.png vs. dialga.pngzapdos.pngkyogre-primal.pngferrothorn.png
Game 2: incineroar.pngamoonguss.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.png vs. dialga.pngzapdos.pngkyogre-primal.pngferrothorn.png

Even before the set started, Cameron kept saying he was running Choice Scarf Dialga, and to be honest I had no game plan against it. Dialga was a Pokémon I didn’t even think about facing, but there it was in front of me in team preview. His lead of Zapdos and Dialga was tough to get any momentum going. Dialga itself isn’t that hard to deal with, but a Choice Scarf variant is a different story. Game 1 was over fast. Game 2 I was able to get 3 of his Pokémon asleep with Amoonguss, but still could get my positioning the way I needed it to be. All I can say is that I’m thankful this was the only Dialga I faced all day!

Result: LL | Record: 2-1

Round 4 – vs. Joshua Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou)
Game 1: crobat.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.pngxerneas-active.png vs. rayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.pngxerneas-active.pngunown-question.png
Game 2: incineroar.pngamoonguss.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.png vs.incineroar.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.pngunown-question.png

The Man, The Myth, The Legend: Joshua Lorcy. One of the nicest people you’ll ever meet at an event, and one of the most talented. This set was a huge learning experience for me as a player. The Xerneas/Rayquaza mirror is always annoying, but with Crobat I felt pretty good. My game plan was to get Xerneas into a good position where I can Geomancy and go from there. Game 1 I played very defensively with lots of switching and not really putting on any real offensive pressure. To be honest, I was barely getting off damage. Josh was playing the complete opposite. He was playing very aggressively, getting tons of chip damage on all of the Pokémon to the point where even if I got Xerneas boosted, it suffered enough damage where an Extreme Speed from his Rayquaza would pick up the knockout. Game 2, I couldn’t even tell you what I was thinking with my leads. Not bringing Crobat was a mistake on my part, but I should have kept Amoonguss in the back more than anything. Josh adapted perfectly from Game 1 and absolutely destroyed me in Game 2. After the set, Josh and I talked about the set and his thoughts going into it. I learned a lot from our conversation and was super grateful for his insight. Playing too passively against a player of Josh’s caliber did not do me any good, and playing passively, in general, is a common denominator to a lot of my losses in this format!

Result: LL | Record: 2-2

I’ve never been so grateful for a lunch break as I was going into this one. I needed to reset and not think about Pokémon for a little while. After our Round 4 sets, I met up with some friends I’ve been hanging out with the all-day, including Vincent Montalvo (Vinny), Jairo Contreras (AlchemistX), Preston Gadling (Hektik), and Michael Cameron (mike_camo260). We ended up heading to a pizza spot not too far from the convention center. We all split some personal pizzas and some wings, and just had a great time! During lunch, Mike and I got to bond over sports and traveling. We talked about awesome places we’ve been to and honestly just got lost in a great conversation. Between the fun conversations, the laughs, and the great pizza, it instantly brought me out of my mini-funk and reminded me of one of the great things about going to events. We got back to the convention center with enough time to chill before Round 5 started. At the time, I was keeping Adam and Jake up to date with how my event was going. Even though I was bummed at starting 2-2, I told them I’d grind it out and not drop another set!

Round 5 – vs. Matthew Coale
Game 1:amoonguss.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.png vs. gengar-mega.pngtapu-lele.pngkyogre-primal.pngtoxicroak.png
Game 2:amoonguss.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.png vs. yveltal.pnglandorus-therian.pngtapu-lele.pngtoxicroak.png

Looking at Matthew’s team in Team Preview, I noticed he didn’t have a solid way to beat redirection. He could lead Toxicroak, but it wouldn’t have been hard to adapt and position correctly. This was the second set where having Payapa Berry on Amoonguss came up clutch, as I was able to live a Psyshock from Tapu Lele, which was able to redirect another attack from his Gengar. Xerneas was able to win comfortably with support from Incineroar and Rayquaza after Amoonguss went down. Game 2 he adapted by setting up a Tailwind with Yveltal, but I was able to stall it out pretty easily and take key knockouts, especially because he didn’t bring Gengar in Game 2. The Toxicroak was Focus Sash which made things interesting toward the end, but I was able to secure the victory.

Result – WW | Record – 3-2

Round 6 – vs. Corentin "Coco" Schepens (Dworlax)
Game 1: crobat.pngincineroar.pngrayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.png vs. rayquaza-mega.pngtapu-koko.pngho-oh.pngferrothorn.png
Game 2: incineroar.pngxerneas-active.pngamoonguss.pngrayquaza-mega.png vs. milotic.pngtapu-koko.pngho-oh.pngferrothorn.png

Real talk: Corentin started the regional 3-2, without a Mega Ring!. I couldn’t imagine going into a regional and realizing you can’t mega evolve your Pokémon, let alone your Rayquaza, but he still was able to win 3 out of his first 5 sets. He grinded through the rest of the game during the lunch break and he was finally able to get the mega ring before our set. 

Looking at his team, I wasn’t a fan of my match-up. Both Ho-Oh and Ferrothorn? Not fun. I don’t remember a ton about this set besides a few things. First, Coco’s face when his Rayquaza finally mega evolved. The pure happiness on his face was priceless. Second, Crobat was super important in Game 1, as it matched Ho-Oh’s Tailwind while chipping it down, along with Ferrothorn. Crobat and Rayquaza did a good number on his team were able to secure the win. Third, his DS was running out of power. The cost of grinding through the rest of the main story did a number on his battery as he didn’t charge it while playing. Game 2, he led Milotic and Tapu Koko against my Incineroar and Xerneas. I didn’t know if his Tapu Koko had Taunt or if his Milotic had Haze. I ended up going for Fake Out against his Tapu Koko as I thought Taunt was more likely than Haze. Luckily, Milotic set up a Light Screen and although while annoying, it was manageable. Rayquaza was able to handle Ferrothorn and Xerneas handled Tapu Koko and Milotic. It eventually came down to a 3v1 with Coco’s Ho-Oh vs Xerneas, Amoonguss, and Rayquaza when his DS lost power, thus giving me the set. 

After the set, I sat down with Coco as he plugged his DS in so it had enough power for the final round. We talked about a bunch of different things, including his great beard! As for me, this was my chance to finish x-2 at a regional for the first time. I texted Adam and Jake I was one win away, and it was time to deliver. I was talking to Jairo, Vincent, and Mike before the last round. Jairo and I were praying we didn’t face each other as we would both have the opportunity to finish x-2. We heard pairings were up and wouldn’t you know.

Result: WW | Record: 4-2

Round 7 – vs. Jairo Contreras (AlchemistX)
Game 1: incineroar.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-fini.pngrayquaza-mega.png vs. tapu-fini.pngtapu-koko.pngrayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.png
Game 2: crobat.pngxerneas-active.pngincineroar.pngrayquaza-mega.png vs. tapu-koko.pngincineroar.pngrayquaza-mega.pngxerneas-active.png
Game 3: crobat.pngxerneas-active.pngrayquaza-mega.pngincineroar.png vs. xerneas-active.pngtapu-koko.pngrayquaza-mega.pngdragonite.png

Of course, Jairo and I were playing each other for x-2 and the opportunity to potentially finish Top 16. I remember us sitting down pretty bummed, but we promised each other a really great set. Jairo is a great player, with even a Regionals cut under his belt (Toronto 2018) so I knew this x-2 record was going to have to be earned. I don’t remember a lot about this set, but here’s what I remember. 

I won the first game without too much trouble. I made some good plays, called some switches, and played really well in general. His Tapu Fini didn’t really do much in the game, which held him back from getting any real momentum going. Game 2 started pretty well, and I got to the point to where I had my Xerneas boosted and in a good position. However, playing too safe cost me the game in the end. It was his Tapu Koko and chipped Incineroar (around 70%), against my Incineroar and boosted (and chipped) Xerneas. He was in a position where he had to Protect Tapu Koko to stay in the game, and if I fired a Moonblast into the Incineroar slot, it would have surely given me the set. However, I played it safe and used Dazzling Gleam, thus letting Incineroar live and chip Xerneas to the point where his Rayquaza could Extreme Speed my Xerneas to pick up the knockout. He was able to swing the momentum in his favor and took Game 2. 

Game 3 I switched it up and led Crobat and Xerneas while Jairo led Tapu Koko and Xerneas. I did the old Tailwind/Protect to outspeed his Xerneas after it uses Geomancy, then used Haze to get rid of his boosts while my Xerneas boosted shortly after. Jairo was able to manage the game very well from there. After trading Pokémon through the game, it came down to my Rayquaza at half health vs his full health Dragonite, who of course had ice punch. I first used Extreme Speed to break Multiscale, as I didn’t want to lower my Defense with Dragon Ascent to the point where Ice Punch would have done enough at half health. Ice Punch did roughly 30%, putting Rayquaza in range of one more. From there, I needed a hail mary and went for the Dragon Ascent… and I crit to win the game. After exchanging spreads, it turns out it was exactly a 50/50 whether Dragon Ascent picked up the knockout from where Extreme Speed put Dragonite’s health at. Jairo didn’t want me to share the spread, but it was physically invested. You hate to see a set like that end on a critical hit, but that’s the game we play. Nonetheless, I had my first x-2 finish at a regional.

Result: WLW | Record: 5-2 (13th Place Overall)


I knew my resistance was pretty good, but I still didn’t think I would crack Top 16. Sure enough, when the results came out, I saw my name at 13th Place. 

I was very fortunate to make it into Top 16 with the crazy resistance from my opponents. Starting from 2-2 and still finishing 13th is something you don’t see a lot at events, but that meant I faced some pretty talented players. Something I thought was also strange was not playing a single Groudon team after Round 1. Groudon teams are a composition I spent some good time practicing against before the regional, and a composition I was hoping to face as my matchup was pretty good against it. Anyway, this Regional was a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to see everybody at my next event. 

Shout outs obviously to Adam and Jake for being with me from Day 1 of this tournament prep, Vinny and the rest of the Montclair State crew (Joey, Laura, Quinton, and Al) for being there from the very, very beginning, and Danny Hemchand (ImJabberwocky), Nicholas Borghi (Borghi), William Marks (Munkey), Ryan Loseto (Sableye), Sohaib Mufti (Sohaib), Justin Wan (Jwanie), and everybody else who I’ve met in the community for the laughs, Best of 3s, and overall for being really great friends. One last shout out to my friend Robinson for the artwork (fenixsoul22). Thanks for reading!

Mike, Vinny, and I

Featured image by Fenixsoul22

1 comment:

  1. What a great read. Considering getting into VGC seriously and reads like this really do help.


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