Gotta go flamingly fast! – A Nashville Open Winner Team Report & Warstory

Hi everyone, my name is Gilberto Goracci (you can follow me on Twitter if you please), and I’m here to bring you my Team Report and Warstory of the Nashville Open, where I placed 1st out of over 370 players.

Originally, my goal was to write the Team Report for a 1st Place finish at the World Championships with my very first team of the format, but most of the times things don’t go as we hope. Frustrated about how my Day One went, I convinced myself to spend those 30 bucks to play the Open with really no expectations. Somebody told me about earning the paid trip to Australia, which of course was nice, but then somebody else said “Yeah, but you have to win the Open to have chances” and I was like “Meh, let’s do this anyway”.

Since I like circles, I would have loved to finish the season with team I started it with, but I also did not expect the Open to be the last VGC 2018 tournament, so I went for the team I played Day One with instead, but bringing it back to its original form.

The Team

Original Teambuilding Process

blaziken-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadbisharp Victory Road
Once upon a time, Rome, my city, was dominated by Kommo-o teams, so I went to Flavio, fellow Mizzica brother and Kommo-o player, saying “Flavio, I want to beat Kommo-o” straight to the point. He told me to use something like MimiLax and Blaziken-Bisharp, but since I didn’t really feel comfortable with the Mimikyu-Snorlax duo, I found in the Blaziken-Bisharp-Fini trio an interesting opportunity instead.

blaziken-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadbisharp Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadzapdos Victory Road
What else? When you are in a dead point in your teambuilding, you just go with the best Pokémon in the format. That was and will always be Landorus-T, with a special-based scarf set that has always been like this for all the time I used this team. Zapdos was there because you know, Tailwind is cool, not having autoloss against Fini is cool too, and other cool reasons as “I always wanted to play Zapdos in this season but never have actually done so”.

blaziken-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadbisharp Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadzapdos Victory Roadtsareena Victory Road
These five Pokémon seemed to work very well together, but as you all know you, you actually need six Pokémon to have a (good) team. Cresselia was my first choice because, as I said before, just going with the strongest in the format is rarely a bad choice, but she actually didn’t give me that “Oh my God, you’re the one” feeling.

One day, a friend of mine, Filippo, messaged me about my ultimate secret. Being the famous Blaziken-Sempai-Fatal-Final-Master that I am, everybody asks me for the EV Spread on my Blaziken, which actually is plain 4/252/252 Adamant-natured, but people sometimes have high expectations about the simplest things. I found out that Filippo came out with the same quintet as me, but with Tsareena as his last member. Since 2015, all my teams had a common denominator: an autoloss against Azumarill, so having something to stop that seemed more than cool. Moreover, I have a kind of fetish for strange and unexpected things, so I just said “Let’s try Tsareena”.

Fixing and Worlds Day 1 Team

blaziken-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadbisharp Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadzapdos Victory Roadtsareena Victory Road
The team shown right up was crafted about four months ago. Since then, I had decent results with it in some local MSS. I also placed 18th at Sheffield Regionals with a thrilling comeback, which gave me the invite to Nashville two months before the event, which I decided I was attending for sure.

After Sheffield, I made some changes: Zapdos was originally one point faster that Modest Max Speed Tapu Lele and held the Electrium Z. I had bad match-up against rain teams, so I went for a much bulkier set with a Pinch Berry and Roost over Detect.

That slightly worsened my match-up against Charizard-Y teams, but it was an affordable price to pay. The rest was almost the same, I just made Bisharp as fast as I could and tried a new (and actually the first serious) spread on Tapu Fini. I like to have Tapu Fini, Tsareena and Bisharp respectively with 124, 123, 122 points in Speed, so that Muddy Water goes before Bloom Doom and both of them go before Assurance (God bless Assurance).

blaziken-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadbisharp Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadzapdos Victory Roadaegislash-shield Victory Road
One week before Worlds, I found out that there was a Nihilego-Tapu Lele lead which actually destroyed me, with the first one being Sash with Trick Room and the other being… I don’t know, Tapu Lele can actually carry every single set and all of them are troublesome until you find out which one it is.

Andrea Sasso, InTeamidate partner and dear friend, suggested me to try Aegislash, which actually seemed really good, over Tsareena, one of my least used members of the team. That was actually bad, since she had the only Z-move of the team. I tested Aegislash a little bit and I decided to bring it to Day One, with this particular set:


Aegislash @ Ghostium Z
Ability: Stance Change
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 4 Def / 176 SpA / 16 SpD / 108 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Shadow Ball
– Toxic
– Substitute
– King’s Shield

Aegislash didn’t have a particular role in my disgraceful Day One performance, neither Tsareena would have saved me under those circumstances, so I don’t blame this choice, I just played bad.

If you read carefully, you will remember that I said before that I liked circles, so when it came down to choosing the team for the Open I was like “Well, I have nothing to lose: it’s always been Tsareena and Tsareena will be tomorrow”.

Original Build (used at the Nashville Open)


Blaziken @ Blazikenite
Ability: Blaze
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Superpower
– Rock Slide
– Protect


Zapdos @ Aguav Berry
Ability: Pressure
Level: 50
EVs: 172 HP / 12 Def / 4 SpA / 252 SpD / 68 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Heat Wave
– Tailwind
– Roost


Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
– Earth Power
– Sludge Bomb
– Stone Edge
– Hidden Power [Ice]


Bisharp @ Focus Sash
Ability: Defiant
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Sucker Punch
– Assurance
– Iron Head
– Protect


Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 84 SpA / 20 SpD / 148 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Moonblast
– Calm Mind
– Protect


Tsareena @ Grassium Z
Ability: Queenly Majesty
Level: 50
EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 244 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Power Whip
– Feint
– Helping Hand
– Protect

The Nashville Open

Saturday (Day 1)

I don’t remember every Bo3 I played, so I’ll just tell you about the most important moments throughout the day. I got paired against my friend and fellow Italian Francesco Pardini, which I think everybody knows, in Round 3, where he virtually won Game 3 but a triple Protect on my Blaziken’s end and a Rock Slide flinch closed it out for me. Nevertheless, I was happy that Francesco made it into Top Cut despite that game, especially considering that it takes a lot of effort to get back after being so badly haxed and make it to the end, but Alexis is a great player.

After that, I was up 3-0 but right afterwards I lost twice in a row against Metagross/Tapu Fini teams, most likely due to a lack of concentration on my end, as the games felt like I knew what was going to happen next turn but I just did nothing to stop it.

Despite that, I won the remaining three matches, ending up with an overall 6-2 score, not so great but still enough to make it into the Open’s Day 2. In the meantime, I was happy to know that my friend and teammate Roberto Porretti finished his Worlds run with a great Top 8 finish coming all the way from the Day 1 Swiss on Friday. This has been a great season for him and he really deserved this result — Good job, Raider!

Sunday (Day 2)

This is where Blaziken got on fire. Another 7 AM alarm-wake up-take a shower-catch the bus-grab something to eat-look at your pairings-find your opponent-glhf day. I sat in front of my first opponent, who asked me about how the tournament was going to be played onwards, to which I said that there probably would be 6 rounds of swiss, then Top 8. Right after that, a wild judge appeared and said “Okay guys, whoever loses the match brings the slip to the front desk, this is Top Cut”.

Putting it simple, no Swiss. We were like 60 people, which meant 6 rounds of single-elimination matches should I get to the finals. I didn’t face any “famous” players until the end, but the matches I played through the day had been good ones.

I lost Game 1 of my first Top Cut match, then something happened and I was in the finals with a 10-1 score. Blaziken apparently liked to stay in front of Tapu Lele knowing it was going to attack its partner. That one was risky, but it paid off.

Ben Kyriakou was waiting for me in the Final (well, it was actually me waiting for him, since my Semi-finals match only lasted 20 minutes). I didn’t feel nervous or anything, I was just happy to be facing off a big name, someone I could say “Look, I have beaten him”, as I have always felt about the Nashville Open as the “losers’ tournament”, and even after winning it, it still feels like that, to be sincere.

In the meantime, while waiting for the finals, the Juniors were playing in the main stage the Worlds Finals. It was funny to realize with Ben and the judges that the TerraCott core the eventual Champion was using was actually older than the player himself… Yeah, we have been playing VGC for a long, long time.

The Finals Match

Finals vs.  Ben Kyriakou
swampert-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadthundurus Victory Roadpelipper Victory Roadludicolo Victory Roadferrothorn Victory Road

Ben was using a double-abuser Rain Team, with Pelipper and Thundurus as both automatic and manual setters respectively, while Tapu Lele and Ferrothorn completed the sextet. Tapu Lele made things a little bit harder for me, since it is not so easy to play against it with my team, moreover the rain threat forced me to lead with Zapdos + Tsareena, my anti-rain lead.

And it’s here where the Queen earned its special mention. I never, really, never, brought Tsareena out in a game during the Open, and when I did, I lost my first game of that Bo3 set, which means that I effectively played the whole tournament without a Z-move. Nevertheless, when it came down to the Finals, when it came down to a rain team, she was there, and it is no joke when I say that she literally won the game all by herself.

As you might imagine, I don’t remember everything from the finals. In Game 1, I recall getting the KO on Ludicolo with Bloom Doom right in Turn 1, and then on Swampert later in the game when Ben expected my Tsareena to either Protect or switch out because it was in range of Psychic from his Tapu Lele or Ice Punch from his Swampert. However, that same turn he went for Waterfall + Psychic on my Zapdos, with the first one being enough to proc my Sitrus Berry, thus making the second one not enough to prevent my Tailwind from going up, which ultimately sealed the deal for me in Game 1 without having to reveal my 4th Pokémon.

About Game 2, Ben did not bring Swampert, which I actually guess ended up helping me. I don’t remember if I led with Tsareena or Bisharp, but the fact is that his Ludicolo was not carrying Protect, allowing me to KO it once again with Bloom Doom just before his Ferrothorn, which I think was Choice Banded, OHKOed my Tsareena, thus bringing the endgame to a 1v1 situation. Luckily, my last Pokémon was my fellow favorite, and the game ended in the best possible way: Blaziken, the last one, standing alone on the field after getting the OHKO with Flare Blitz when the rain stopped.

Conclusion

I was happy that Flare Blitz also sweeped away the rain that was falling on my head after Friday — what’s left now is jut dew waiting to be drained by the sun. The rain destroyed what I planted and made grow during this 2018 season, the one which I really cared about winning it all, but maybe there already is something growing for the next one, something that the dew is giving life to, under the form of 200 CP, a TCG Booster Box and a gigantic Torchic plush.

My best friend once told me “There are people complaining about their losses at Nationals. When I was on the train back home, I was already thinking about my next team. That’s what winners do, isn’t it?”, and I keep this in mind all the time because, you know: he was a winner. That’s also why I spent the night with an old-school player and dear friend Lorenzo Gavelli, testing stuff for the upcoming 2019 season and having a beer in the Westin Hotel Hall — and that’s what I will be doing next year.

Thanks for reading, guys. I’m sorry if I have been way too emotional in writing this, but I just think that there’s something more important that the team you’re using: what you’re feeling. Once again, thanks to everyone who congratuled me and cheered for me when I was there.

Sun Series, you’re next!

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