Photo courtesy of Dat-Mudkip on Deviantart. #TooMuchWater
Aloha, everyone! It’s Kasoman, and I’m excited to share my accomplishment of 2nd Place at the first Premier Challenge in Hawaiʻi of the 2016 season, which also happens to be my first PC ever in my life! I understand it’s a bit overdue, but now, you finally have the chance to see how the metagame in Hawaiʻi is like! Well, sort of…
The number of players who attended, including myself, was eight, which is the bare minimum for a Premier Challenge to officially be sanctioned. In Hawaiʻi, turn outs tend to be low because of the financial obstacles of airfare when it comes to bigger events like Regionals, Nationals, and Worlds, and people are just not interested in VGC in general, which is a bit disheartening. Luckily for me, I found a group of friends who play this format, and about half of them attended the same PC. Because this PC was so small, we only had three rounds of swiss, and top cut only included the top two players after round three.
I hate to admit it, but I didn’t have much practice before the tourney, and I was panicking on what I would use. In the end, I decided to use the most standard team (as of now), known as the “Showdown Special”, but I had a couple tricks up my sleeve, which helped me a bit.
Groudon @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
H4 B4 C244 D4 S252 (Timid)
– Earth Power
Groudon is the most popular primal to use, and I also feel comfortable using it, so I decided to use Groudon as one of the restricted Pokémon. It has great coverage, decent physical bulk, and its ability, Desolate Land, also shuts down water type moves if it has the weather advantage. I decided to opt for a special attacking variant because I wanted a way to deal with the mirror match of opposing Groudon, and my Groudon is timid nature instead of modest, which makes speed ties less of a concern for me. This spread is not max special attack as it provides Groudon a bit more bulk, which isn’t much, but does help in the long run.
Battles Used In: 6/6 (100%)
Lead Ratio: 0/6 (0%)
Win Ratio: 4/6 (66.67%)
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
H4 C252 S252 (Timid)
– Dazzling Gleam
Xerneas is my other restricted Pokémon because it pairs up with Groudon excellently. It usually picks up a knockout on fast Kyogre, as well as many other things after a Geomancy boost. The combination of Geomancy and Power Herb are insane, as it allows Xerneas to have +2 Special Attack, Special Defense, and Speed. Under Tailwind, Xerneas can’t be outsped by anything as it would have quadruple speed after the Geomancy boost. It can also pick off sleeping Pokémon one by one if paired with Smeargle. I wanted both of its attacking moves to provide STAB coverage, so Moonblast for single target, and Dazzling Gleam for spread damage. That way, Xerneas wouldn’t get shut down by Wide Guard.
Battles Used In: 4/6 (66.67%)
Lead Ratio: 2/4 (50.00%)
Win Ratio: 3/4 (75.00%)
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Scrappy –> Parental Bond
H4 A244 B4 D4 S252 (Jolly)
– Low Kick
– Sucker Punch
– Fake Out
Here she is again! The Queen of the Megas! A self-explanatory set, which provides Fake Out pressure, as well as offensive pressure with its ability, Parental Bond. I opted not to go for max attack because I wanted a bit more bulk on Kangaskhan, although it isn’t much. I opted for Double-Edge and Low Kick instead of Return and Power-Up Punch because with all of the restricted Pokémon around, you want Kangaskhan to deal as much damage to them as much as possible, and I feel it is difficult to set up Power-Up Punch in this format.
Battles Used In: 2/6 (33.33%)
Lead Ratio: 1/2 (50.00%)
Win Ratio: 1/2 (50.00%)
Salamence @ Salamencite
Ability: Intimidate –> Aerilate
A44 C212 S252 (Naive)
– Hyper Voice
– Draco Meteor
Salamence became popular in 2015, and it became even more popular than before. Intimidate support, and the fact it outspeeds Mega Rayquaza is why people opt for Salamence as their Dragon/Flying Mega Pokémon. The EV spread is what Aaron Zheng (@CybertronVGC) used at the 2015 US Nationals, and from what I’ve experienced, this spread still works. Most of the time, I would just use Hyper Voice repeatedly because there is a huge risk factor involved when using Draco Meteor or Double-Edge, and I have to carefully decide whether or not it is the right time to use one of those moves as they cause recoil to Salamence.
Battles Used In: 3/6 (50.00%)
Lead Ratio: 2/3 (66.66%)
Win Ratio: 1/3 (33.33%)
Talonflame @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
A252 D4 S252 (Jolly)
– Brave Bird
– Flare Blitz
– Quick Guard
Talonflame also became more popular than previous seasons due to its access to Quick Guard, and its offensive pressure with priority Brave Bird thanks to its Hidden Ability, Gale Wings, which prioritizes flying-type moves. Flare Blitz and Brave Bird are its STAB coverage attacks, and they deal a lot of damage thanks to the Life Orb, but of course, the major drawback is the excessive recoil damage. Tailwind is there for speed control, and thankfully, it is a flying-type move. Many run adamant for maximum damage output, but I opted for jolly to prevent speed ties as much as possible.
Battles Used In: 5/6 (83.33%)
Lead Ratio: 3/5 (60.00%)
Win Ratio: 2/5 (40.00%)
Smeargle @ Focus Sash
H252 B4 S252 (Jolly)
– Dark Void
– Wide Guard
– Crafty Shield
– Spiky Shield
Everyone’s least favorite Pokémon, Smeargle. Causing trouble since Dark Void became allowed. However, because it’s so popular, Dark Void is pretty much a staple of any Smeargle moveset, despite all the salt that goes on about it. Alongside that, I also developed a couple tricks up my sleeve. Usually people run moves like Fake Out, Follow Me, or even Transform, but I decided not to use any of those moves. Instead, I opted for Wide Guard to check spread moves, and I opted for Crafty Shield because Smeargle is an easy target for potential taunt users, which gives me a better match up against Pokémon that have Prankster as their ability. Crafty Shield also helps me deal with opposing Smeargle, especially those that carry a Choice Scarf. Thankfully, I have not run into any opposing Smeargle, although someone else in the tourney used the same exact composition as I did. Nonetheless, Dark Void is such a disheartening move, and I would be pleased if that move were banned sometime in the future.
Battles Used In: 4/6 (60.00%)
Lead Ratio: 3/4 (75.00%)
Win Ratio: 2/4 (50.00%)
Premier Challenge Match Summary
As I mentioned earlier, since there was only eight players, swiss went on for three rounds, and top cut only included the top two players. Here, I’ll give a rundown on what happened every round, and since the PC had a small turnout, it wouldn’t be such a long read.
Round 1: Morgan Wynne (@SnoBolVGC)
I never thought my first opponent at my first PC would end up being my good friend, Morgan. Before the tourney, he also had no idea what to use either, so he ended up utilizing his Lugia team. At team preview, he was actually a bit surprised that I brought the Showdown Special, and he immediately knew my Smeargle was going to be a problem. Nonetheless, I still opted to lead with Xerneas and Smeargle because I knew he was going to lead with Liepard and/or Kangaskhan to thwart Smeargle’s antics. As a result, I lead Smeargle with Xerneas to provide offensive pressure. I thought Lugia was a fascinating choice as it’s not very prominent in the format like Groudon and Xerneas, and it definitely stood out on his team. Morgan brought Lugia in the match-up to potentially PP stall my Xerneas and Salamence, but it didn’t do very much against my team in the end. I was able to seal up the game after Lugia took enough damage, and my Groudon out sped his own Groudon, which helped me out a lot.
Round 2: Jeremy Whipple (@m0NtE_Cristo_)
This was when I first met Jeremy, and our systems were going through a hack check, so we had a pretty nice conversation, finding out we are both Eagle Scouts and Arrowmen, which made me feel some sort of connection with him. Once team preview opened up, I was immediately fascinated with his team. Bronzong and Toxicroak stood out on his team, and Yveltal, a legendary not commonly seen, is usually paired with Groudon rather than Kyogre. I had no idea what I was facing, so I was a bit worried. When we played, my confidence went a bit downhill when I got caught off guard with his Bronzong using Skill Swap on my Talonflame. After that point, I played this round pretty badly, and he won the round because the weather war shifted to his favor in the late game.
Round 3: Alec Sodetani
For Round 3, I got paired with another friend, and he didn’t have a team in-game before the PC, so I lent him my version of Cybertron’s Trick Room team that revolved around Groudon and Palkia. He lead with Landorus and Cresselia, and because of the intimidate on Talonflame, and the Rock Slide pressure, I switched it out for Xerneas. Luckily for me, the Rock Slide missed my Smeargle, so I got a free Dark Void on his side of the field, missing Landorus, but at least I prevented a potential Trick Room set up. Because I knew he would go for another Rock Slide, I went for Wide Guard to get a free Geomancy boost, and that turn worked out perfectly for me. For the rest of the round, I basically trampled over his team with Xerneas’s attacks and a plethora of Dark Voids from Smeargle. I probably gave him the most demoralizing loss I’ve ever seen, and I felt slightly bad about it since I practically 4-0’d him. Like I mentioned earlier, playing with and against Smeargle is usually never fun for many people, and this is one of the reasons why Dark Void should be banned.
After swiss was over, I found out three of us finished swiss 2-1, while Jeremy went undefeated. Morgan was one of them, and the other was the guy who used the same team as I did. It turned out I was the one who got 2nd seed in top cut, and I felt a bit relieved and concerned at the same time since I lost to Jeremy in swiss, but the other guy who used the same team as I did also lost to Jeremy in Round 3. Nonetheless, I felt good making it to the finals in my first official tourney.
Finals: Jeremy Whipple
The reason why this part says he brought a regular Kangaskhan was because he forgot to mega evolve it, and he did not go for Fake Out. As a result, my Salamence fired off a free Double-Edge on the Kangaskhan and actually picked up a knock out with a critical hit. I also got a free Dark Void on his Bronzong, which prevented a Trick Room set up. I was in an excellent position until the turn I fired off an Eruption to knock out the Bronzong. I wanted Salamence to damage his Yveltal with a Draco Meteor, but unfortunately, it missed, and it brought Jeremy back in the game. If it had actually hit, I might have won the game, but his reads were good in the late game, so this was a deserved win for Jeremy.
I decided Bronzong wasn’t as threatening as I thought it would be, so I decided to bring in Xerneas for more offensive pressure, and I also thought Kangaskhan would do better against his team than Salamence would. Because he went with the same lead as last time, I decided to switch out Xerneas for Groudon, and I went for a Flare Blitz on the Bronzong, but he was smart enough to Fake Out my Talonflame as he needed the Trick Room set up. At that point, I figured I needed to make hard reads in order to bring myself back into the game. I predicted his Kyogre to switch in to prevent Groudon and Talonflame from using a fire-type move since Bronzong can’t touch them, so I decided to double target Kangaskhan with Brave Bird and Earth Power as he knows I have Quick Guard, and he also wanted to conserve his Bronzong for the late game. This turn went exactly as I planned, and I was able to pick up the knock out on his Kangaskhan. The next turn, I decided to switch in Xerneas, and I had Kangaskhan Fake Out the Bronzong in case Jeremy predicted the switch in by going for a Gyro Ball, but Kyogre protected anyways, so it went perfectly. In the late game, it was his Yveltal staring down Groudon and Xerneas, but he used Swagger on my Xerneas, which was a bit annoying to deal with. Foul Play ended up dealing a lot of damage to my Xerneas, and the game ended in a nailbiter. Fortunately, Xerneas hit through the confusion and knocked out his Yveltal, giving me the win for Game 2.
The final game of the final round had an awkward start with the Kangaskhan and Talonflame mirror match, and the pressure was very high for both of us. I haven’t seen his Talonflame before, and he doesn’t know what I can do with this lead either. It started off pretty badly for me when he protected Talonflame, and he got a Low Kick on my Kangaskhan, picking up a free KO, but I also had a free tailwind up for speed control. His Talonflame using Protect caught me off guard, and it made things trickier for me. In turn two, he was able to read my Quick Guard play and get a free tailwind of his own, which put me behind even further. Jeremy was then able to knock out my Xerneas, which was unfortunate for me. However, it still wasn’t over as I haven’t revealed my Groudon yet. I made a hard read on him by going straight for the Brave Bird on his Talonflame, picking up the knock out. I also went for an Eruption, and that picked up the one-hit KO on Yveltal as well. In the late game, it all came down to what RNGesus decides. Just Groudon and Kyogre in the heavy rain, and Kyogre was also damaged to the point where two Earth Powers from Groudon would knock it out. Because an Earth Power would bring it down to the red, the game would be decided on whether or not Origin Pulse would connect on my Groudon. Fortunately for Jeremy, it did, and he took home the 1st place win, while I finished 2nd. Regardless, it was an amazing game played by the both of us, and I can at least say that Jeremy’s team was cooler than mine!
Even though this was a small tourney, it was still a big deal for us, the few players in Hawaiʻi, with most of the participants being a part of the Mānoa Milotics, which is the International Collegiate Pokémon Association (@ICPA_Pokemon) team of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. I’m trying my best to improve the competitive scene in Hawaiʻi, and mentioning accomplishments like these is one way to draw more attention for newer players.
- A deck box featuring Mega Gengar on the front side and Mega Manetric on the back side for my 2nd place finish.
- 20 Championship Points! Not like I’ll go to Worlds when I live in Hawaiʻi! (Hah!)
- All those pros who inspire me to do good in playing Pokémon VGC!
- The VGC Community for being friendly and awesome!
- My buddies in the Mānoa Milotics for their time and commitment in improving their skills and their willingness to represent UH Mānoa in Pokémon of all things! You guys are the closest people who make me want to do better because we are a team!
- Anthony Akahoshi, who hosted this tourney. Looking forward to more in the future!
- Jeremy for having the coolest team!
- The Showdown Special for pulling through to the top cut!
- Of course, you, as a reader, for your time and support for my blog! Thank you for that!
I’ll continue to improve my game, and I don’t see a Worlds invite in myself or anyone else here in Hawaiʻi since there’s too much water. If only there’s an easier way to get to Worlds. Other than that, I had a great time at the PC, and hopefully, I’ll do good at other tourneys! Shoots, buggahs!