FFF – A 17th place 2019 European Internationals Team Report

Hi everyone, Feis here and I’m going to talk about the team I brought to the 2019 International Championships in Berlin, where I got 17th place. I haven’t been playing in a lot of offline tournaments due to me being busy with university studies, with my last tournament being Bremen Regionals post-Worlds ’17, where I finished in Top 16. Other than that, I have been to Germany Nationals 2013 and 2014, where I placed within the Top 16 as well (Seniors and Masters). That’s pretty much it for all the live tournaments I’ve ever competed in if you count out some PCs and 2016 Nationals (we don’t talk about that :D). I don’t want to bore you anymore with this stuff, so let’s hop right to the teambuilding process!

salamence-mega Victory Road Team Building Process

First of all, huge thanks go out to Till (@dark_psiana) and Markus (@13Yoshi37) who I built the team with, and Tim (@2ndFlip) and Yuki (@yzanvgc) who helped us test and refine the team.

Teambuilding started around late March to early April when Markus and Till both found replays of a fun looking Perish Trap team with Zekrom and Dewgong that was doing pretty okay on the ladder. We were intrigued by the idea of Perish Trap and thought it could be pretty good, so we tried to build our own version.

We didn’t want to use full Perish, so we needed to decide on proper restricted Pokémon (the guy from the replays had Zekrom as his sole restricted Pokémon). We decided to go with Groudon for the first Pokémon, because we felt like there is no reason to not use it, it’s just super strong, has a great offensive and defensive typing, the bulk to work in Perish Trap, and can also passively support the team with its Desolate Land ability. The rest of the team was kinda thrown together relatively thoughtlessly; obviously we needed Mega-Gengar for our Perish Trap mode. The guy from the replays had Landorus-T, which looked cool because it can pressure opposing Groudon, helps you shuffle your Pokémon with U-turn and also has Intimidate to further support the team. We thought we needed a Fake Outer and decided to test Alolan Persian because we thought that Z-Parting Shot could be really good, as it essentially gives you one health bar more on your team than your opponent, which seemed like a good thing to have in the endgame. For the last two slots, we knew we needed to find a way to deal with Rayquaza/Kyogre teams, so we added Tapu Fini and Dialga without thinking too much about it – we just wanted to get testing going. So, there we have the first draft:

groudon-primal Victory Roaddialga Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadpersian-alolan Victory Road
The team wasn’t necessarily bad, but sometimes it seemed a bit hard to pull off the Perish mode and we lacked other big win conditions on the team with it being so defensive, so we needed to make some changes.

The most important thing we did was to change Gengar’s moveset: we realized how much potential we were wasting on it and asked “What if we just used a ‘normal’ moveset on it that actually supports the team?”. We did just that and it completely changed the way this team worked and performed. With its new found support in form of Icy Wind and Taunt from Gengar, it was possible for us to bring Groudon into much more winning situations where Groudon just outspeeds everything on the opposing side of the field and KO’s them with its strong moves. Simultaneously, we also decided that we should just use Xerneas instead of Dialga, because we have the support for it and it seemed like too good of a Pokémon to not use. The idea of getting off a few Moonblasts and Dazzling Gleams in the early game, healing up to full health with a Z-Parting Shot and then winning with a late game Geomancy also seemed really cool and it did work very often.

groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Roadpersian-alolan Victory Road +1
The one big problem we were having leading up to Berlin was finding a proper last slot for the team. We were struggling against Rayquaza/Kyogre teams, teams that utilize Kyogre in Trick Room, as well as Scarf Tapu Lele if they had Ultra-Necrozma (and even worse, Groudon too) next to it. We tested a lot of stuff like Ferrothorn, Focus Sash Amoonguss, Bronzong with Hypnosis and Tsareena, but neither of them seemed to fit into the team just right. We kept testing and testing, and it was one week before Berlin when Markus suggested we should also use Incineroar instead of Persian because of the added Intimidate support, bulk and slower U-turn. Till and I were skeptical at first because we really liked Persian and we thought having Incineroar would also make our Lunala matchup worse, but when we tried out Incineroar, we couldn’t go back to Persian. Incineroar was just so good. Still, the Kyogre problem was there, and we needed to find a way to solve it. We decided to try Tapu Fini again like we had at the beginning because it seemed to be working back then (although all teams seem to be working at the beginning because you haven’t tested enough yet to realize its flaws, but we were desperate, ok?), and with some techs that we came up with, Tapu Fini really did seem to solve the majority of our problems! We decided on the final six the weekend before the tournament, with me being the one who did most of the testing, always reporting back to Till and Markus, who discussed the replays and pointed out the problems and us giving the updates to Tim and Yuki who tested then as well.

groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadlandorus-therian Victory Road
In the end, the team ended up being pretty goodstuffy, which I’m ok with because as long as I keep winning my games, it’s whatever. We knew we had some flaws in the team, but we felt like it wasn’t possible to cover every matchup in this metagame with so many restricted combinations being viable and many combinations having different builds which you have to prepare against differently. All in all, I think we were pretty satisfied with what we came up with. Funnily enough, my good friend Alex (@Pokealex_) and Eric (@riopaser) came up with the same six for Berlin, even though we didn’t work together, so that was pretty funny! They also made it to day 2, so I guess the team composition seemed to be an okay call for the tournament.

salamence-mega Victory Road The Team

▶️ Get the importable version of the team here!

Gengar-Mega Victory Road
Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite
Ability: Shadow Tag
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Icy Wind
– Taunt
– Protect

Gengar is honestly such a good Pokémon and also a favourite of Till and mine, so we were more than happy to use it. Normally you see Salamence or sometimes Kangaskhan as the mega of choice on Groudon/Xerneas teams, but we decided to go with Gengar because we felt like it was nice that it both supports your restricted Pokémon, by trapping and Icy Winding everything, while it also disrupts the opponent’s plans with Taunt and Icy Wind.

Sludge Bomb was the STAB move of our choice because it hits a lot of Pokémon in the meta for good neutral damage and also hits the ever so common fairy type Pokémon in the format for super effective damage. Icy Wind on Gengar is not very common in this format, with most people going for Shadow Ball or HP Water on Kyogre teams, but it was definitely one of the best moves on this team. It supports nearly every Pokémon on this team and helps them at doing their jobs, and at the same time it disrupts your opponents plans. We noticed that a lot of our team’s weaknesses originated from us not having a decent way to control the speed besides Tapu Fini’s Icy Wind, so that was another reason we went for Icy Wind on Gengar. At the same time, if we could deny our opponents forms of Speed Control (namely Tailwind and Trick Room), we would immediately have the advantage because usually we’d win the Icy Wind war, and that’s where Taunt comes into play. Taunt was also helpful in denying opposing Xerneas’s Geomancy and Tapu Fini’s Haze or other supporting moves. It can also be used to deny Protects in the late-game so you don’t get into a situation where you have to make reads in the final turns on which Pokémon to target.

The EV-spread might seem lazy, but it was actually the most efficient way to accomplish the things we wanted to have: we decided to go for max Speed because we wanted to be able to get off an Icy Wind before Ultra Necrozma and go for the speedtie against Crobat and Tapu Koko. Max HP made sense because it gives you the best rolls for special and physical moves: it allows Gengar to survive two +2 Dazzling Gleams from Xerneas and also a Double-Edge from Mega Salamence with up to 84 Atk EVs without Intimidate. After analyzing the chaos stats from Smogon from March, we found that around 70% of Salamence were running less Atk EVs than that and with us having two Intimidators on the team, we felt comfortable having that bulk. The remaining EVs were put into Special Defense because it changed some Origin Pulse rolls from Kyogre, but I guess that isn’t that important.

Overall Gengar was a very important Pokémon to have on this team and was key to a lot of matchups. This doesn’t mean that you bring it to all matches though, there are sets where you don’t bring it to at all.

Landorus-Therian Victory Road
Landorus-Therian @ Groundium Z
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 4 HP / 12 Def / 236 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Earth Power
– Hidden Power [Ice]
– U-turn
– Protect

Landorus-T is another Pokémon that made it through all phases of the team without being changed a lot. In the end I don’t think it’s that great of a Pokémon; we actually spent the last two weeks before Internats trying to replace Landorus, but we needed it for the mirror matchup against opposing Groudon/Xerneas teams and for that, Landorus was always the best Pokémon, so we kept it. I still think there must’ve been a better option for this slot though, because Landorus was almost always useless in every other matchup; I only brought it to three games in Berlin and I even played against six Groudon/Xerneas matchups. Don’t get me wrong though, Landorus still has its right to exist on this team.

The plan against the standard Groudon/Xerneas team was to lead Gengar/Landorus and have Groudon and Tapu Fini or Xerneas in the back, depending on if they have a Bronzong, Tapu Lele, Mental Herb on Amoonguss etc. This lead covered pretty much everything your opponent could do except for a Turn 1 Switch into Salamence, but this is something your opponent has to realize as well and it didn’t end up happening a lot in practice and the tournament itself. 

We decided to go for special Landorus because, if they lead something like Incineroar/Groudon and switch in their Salamence for Incineroar, physical Tectonic Rage wouldn’t get the KO on Groudon anymore. Hidden Power Ice was nice to have to finish off Salamence and Rayquaza after Icy Winds, but I think Earthquake could’ve been nice as well as it still hits Kyogre harder than Z-Earth Power even with a Timid Nature. I normally don’t even bring Landorus to Kyogre matchups, but with Earthquake, I might’ve thought about doing that, but that’s something I needed to test. HP Ice was nice, though. U-turn was Substitute for a long time because of us struggling against Trick Room, but we then realized that it’s not TR Groudon that’s annoying, but TR Kyogre, and as we don’t really bring Landorus to those matchups and actually never used Substitute in practice, we switched to U-turn. It gives Landorus the chance to pivot out of not so ideal lead matchups and bring in something more useful, like Xerneas, from the back. Fun fact: before we had Taunt on Gengar (it was Substitute in the very beginning), we had Rock Polish in this slot to cover the Protect Groudon + Tailwind Salamence play from our opponents, which was kinda funny, but with Taunt you’re just free to go for it + Z move into Groudon.

The EVs allow Landorus to survive a neutral Dragon Ascent from Rayquaza (or -1 CB Dragon Ascent) and a Psychic from Tapu Lele in Psychic Terrain. Max speed was important to outspeed max speed Primals, which were getting popular leading up to Berlin.

Groudon-Primal Victory Road
Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
EVs: 164 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 132 SpD / 204 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Roar
– Protect

I’m a big fan of Groudon and this Groudon especially. It was one of our two major win conditions with this team and it did its job pretty damn well. Its natural bulk combined with the raw power it offers is just too good, and Desolate Land allows you to potentially trap in opposing Kyogre with sun up which was also nice.

Precipice Blades and Fire Punch were the STAB moves of our choice here, they’re unarguably the best two moves for Groudon if you’re using a physical set. We decided against a special set because we didn’t have the right speed control options for it to fully abuse it and spam Eruption. We also wanted to run bulk on Groudon and hit Kyogre for good damage, and Earth Power just doesn’t do enough damage to it. Roar was super good because it was another way to deal with Xerneas apart from Gengar, which meant that the opponent is working with his best Pokémon being denied its best move right from the start of the game. It’s also a nice to have against Trick Room setters with Mental Herb, and in general to roar out scary Pokémon that could get problematic over the course of the next few turns. Roar is also our only option against Soaked Shedinja other than preventing the Soak. Overall it’s just a very good move.

A big part of what makes this Groudon so good are the EVs. It hits a 135 speed stat which allows Groudon to outspeed all Pokémon with a base speed stat of up to 130 after an Icy Wind, most notably Gengar, Tapu Koko, Crobat, Salamence and Rayquaza. It also speedcreeps other Pokémon that intend to go for the same thing. We found out through Smogon’s stats there were two big spikes in Kyogre speeds: at around neutral speed with up to 52 EVs and at a 134 speed stat. Considering that, we wanted to be faster so Tapu Fini + Groudon can ideally win that matchup. The HP investment allows Groudon to take two -1 Dragon Ascents from Rayquaza. Combine that with the special defense investment and you now survive Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom from Lunala as well as Moonblast + Dazzling Gleam from boosted Xerneas.

Groudon was a very good Pokémon and I brought it to every game I played before and at the tournament.

Xerneas Victory Road
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 228 HP / 124 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 148 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

Everyone knows what Xerneas does, so I’m going to keep it short here. As stated in the beginning, we added it to the team because we were like “why not?” and we were not disappointed. Xerneas is just so unfair and once it gets rolling it’s hard to stop it.

The move choice is pretty clear I think, you won’t see a lot of deviation from this moveset except for maybe on Rayquaza/Xerneas teams sometimes. 

We chose to go for a bulkier EV spread instead of the Timid variant because we figured that there was only Lunala and opposing Xerneas that you’d outspeed, and with one being not so popular before Berlin and the other being covered by other members of the team, we felt comfortable with going for a slower speed stat. On the physical side you survive two Precipice Blades from Groudon and have a 87% chance of surviving Stakataka’s Gyro Ball if it’s Sassy without any investment in attack. Xerneas also survives Lunala’s Z-move and Tapu Koko’s Gigavolt Havoc in Electric Terrain. Note that Ultra Necrozma’s Light That Burns The Sky has a 37% chance of knocking out Xerneas even out of terrain, that’s something we should’ve revisited when calcing this spread, but oh well. The speed hits a 138 speed stat which allows Xerneas to outspeed most other bulky Xerneas, but also Mega Lopunny after an Icy Wind. Honestly, we just changed it to that speed stat after I lost to getting Encored into Protect after I went for Protect + Icy Wind on the ladder one time and didn’t bother thinking about the speed again. 

The cool thing about Xerneas is that obviously it’s really good once you get up the speed boost, but having used it with Persian, we realized how much pressure it offers by just having it on the field, and that’s something you can abuse by just spamming unboosted STAB moves which are still pretty strong. Sometimes that’s just what Xerneas needs to do in the early-game so that Groudon can clean up the field in the late-game. I also brought Xerneas to every game in the tournament except for one where I misclicked and picked Tapu Fini instead, oops.

Tapu-Fini Victory Road
Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 12 Def / 252 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Nature’s Madness
– Gravity
– Heal Pulse

Even though Tapu Fini was the last Pokémon we added to the team, it was the most important support besides Incineroar, and we were all glad we decided to use it.

The move selection is pretty standard I’d say; Icy Wind is pretty important to have on this team because it’s one of only 2,5 speed control options (counting Taunt as 0,5 speed control :D) and is vital in a few matchups plans that I’ll get into later. Gravity was really nice to have for the Groudon endgame, in combination with Icy Wind and Nature’s Madness it allows you to deal a lot of damage to your opponent before they can damage you back. Heal Pulse was nice to have so you can keep around your Pokémon for a bit longer. We didn’t really feel like we needed Light Screen or Haze, partly because our Tapu Fini doesn’t survive boosted Moonblasts anyways. 

Talking about the EVs, this Tapu Fini is probably a bit different than most other Finis. Most notably, we’re running max Speed on it. The reason for this is that we wanted Tapu Fini to be faster than our Groudon, so we can go for Gravity + Precipice Blades or Nature’s Madness + Precipice Blades. You’ll notice that Tapu Fini is two points faster than Groudon and that’s because we wanted Fini to be faster than Groudon even after they both get Icy Winded which might happen in a Tapu Fini-Mirror. If we went for a 136 speed stat, Tapu Fini and Groudon would’ve speedtied at -1 which is not very ideal. The defense EVs with the bold Nature allow you to survive a Salamence Double-Edge and a Tapu Lele Psyshock in Misty Terrain which was important for our Lele/Necrozma/Salamence/Groudon matchup. You also survive Lele Moonblast + Photon Geyser from Ultra Necrozma, so you can get off Icy Wind. The 244 HP EV’s allow you to activate the Berry after two Super Fangs or one Guardian of Alola.

Tapu Fini was really nice to have on this team because it really served as a glue and could be brought to pretty much every matchup if you wanted to. It helped the team with getting off Icy Winds and Nature’s Madnesses in the early-game, maybe set up Gravity and setup the field for your restricted Pokémon to seal up the game in the endgame.

Incineroar Victory Road
Incineroar @ Incinium Z
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Atk / 76 Def / 108 SpD / 84 Spe
Careful Nature
– Darkest Lariat
– U-turn
– Fake Out
– Protect

Incineroar was another late addition to the team but oh boy, it was a really good one. You don’t know what you want to bring to that matchup? Lead Gengar/Incineroar. You know what you want to bring to the matchup but feel like mixing it up? Lead Gengar/Incineroar. But even apart from that, Incineroar was very important to have in some matchups and helped the team to cover stuff that Persian wasn’t able to do.

The item choice might seem a little weird in the beginning, because often it feels like you only use Z-Incineroar because you don’t have a Z-move on your team yet and you have an Incineroar and are like, “Well, I guess Incin gets the Z-move”. Here we decided to go for the Z-move because we actually needed it for both the Mental Herb Bronzong and Kyogre matchup. Kyogre matchup might seem a little weird, but it makes sense on this team if you look at Incineroar’s EV spread. The thing we were struggling with initially was that Kyogre was dealing too much damage to our team before we could knock it out. After adding Tapu Fini we came up with the idea that Nature’s Madness + Malicious Moonsault KO’s Kyogre, so you ideally have your two full health restricted Pokémon in the back while your opponent has already lost one of his and also the ability to change Groudon’s weather. To be able to pull this off, we played around with Incineroar’s moveset and came up with this. 

Darkest Lariat is mandatory because you obviously want to have the strongest Z-move on Incineroar. Fake Out and U-turn are staples on Incineroar and I don’t think I’d ever use one without any of those two moves, they just give you so much control over the board position. Protect is what is unusual about this moveset, but it makes a lot of sense. The idea against Kyogre is to get an Icy Wind onto it so your Incineroar outspeeds it the next turn. Now, say the Kyogre protects against your Fake Out + Icy Wind play, you’re in a pretty bad spot. You could switch in Groudon for Incineroar and go for Icy Wind or a Nature’s Madness, but what if your opponent just switches in Rayquaza? Protect ensures that Incineroar can stay in on Kyogre so that Tapu Fini can get off the Icy Wind on Kyogre and is able to set up the Nature’s Madness + Malicious Moonsalut KO on it the next turn (Till pulled that off nicely on stream against Yuree if you want to check that out in action).

Protect is also really helpful against Gengar/Kyogre matchups where they trap in Incineroar next to a Pokémon that is gonna go down against the opposing Gengar/Kyogre, so you don’t lose two Pokémon, and with that, the ability to reset your weather later on in the game (I was able to pull that off against Wolfe on stream, you can check it here). For this plan to be able to work, we needed to work a little with the EVs. The speed allows you to outspeed all Kyogre with a speedstat up to 136, which is not only the majority of all Kyogres, but also every Kyogre that is slower than our Groudon; so if the Kyogre still outspeeds Incineroar after an Icy Wind, you know that you can win the weather war against them by just being slower and getting up your weather. The remainder of the EVs are pretty normal, on the physical side you survive two -1 Dragon Ascents from Rayquaza, on the special side you survive two Tapu Koko Thunderbolts in Electric Terrain and a Modest Groudon Earth Power. We had a little investment in attack at the beginning to ensure we KO’d 252/252 Kyogre after Nature’s Madness, but after we checked the usage stats we found that the big majority of Kyogre were running less than max defense investment, so we felt comfortable dropping the attack investment.

Incineroar was also a nice glue to the team, but also important in a lot of matchups that seemed a little iffy in early stages of the team like Tapu Lele, Lunala, Necrozma and Kyogre, so I’m really glad we made that change.

salamence-mega Victory Road Team Play

The basic idea of this team is to setup a game where either Xerneas or Groudon can clean up the field later on in the game whilst also disrupting whatever your opponent is trying to do. We tried to come up with gameplans for the first few turns against most scenarios that we could face against a bunch of different teams, but after that it’s mostly very intuitive play. You have a lot of options to take control over the game with Gengar, Tapu Fini and Incineroar, and you need to utilize those to get yourself into a strong position. One last thing you might’ve noticed is that neither Incineroar nor Tapu Fini survive a +2 Moonblast in contrast to most other sets people run on those Pokémon. But if you’ve payed attention, you’ll also have noticed that my gameplan against Xerneas doesn’t include Incineroar and Tapu Fini, so most of the time neither is going to take the attack anyways, alas we felt comfortable not surviving that.

salamence-mega Victory Road Tournament Run

I arrived in Berlin on Thursday evening and met up with Tim, Till, Yuki and Wolfe after checking in at the venue, so we could discuss some final stuff on the team, like U-turn on Landorus and Incineroar’s EV spread, that I had changed the day before. We hung out a bit, I then went to my place I was sharing with Fatih, Emre, Fevzi and Serkan, filled out my teamsheet and went to bed. It was my first tournament in 1.5 years, but I really wasn’t pressured at all to do well, because I didn’t expect anyone to recognize me and even then, I had nothing to play for and nothing to lose; I just knew my team was not bad and that if I don’t play bad, I could do well. I don’t really remember how the individual games went, so I’m just gonna write down the names of my opponents, the match outcome and maybe one or two comments from what I remember about the games.

Day 1

Round 1 vs ITA Rossmarc Bulatao | WLW

rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadditto Victory Road
I like playing against Rayquaza/Xerneas teams because they usually struggle against Gengar and with me having my own Xerneas, they have to see that they can keep both in check at the same time without losing too many resources. G1 was cool I think, G2 I lost because I didn’t go for Roar on Xerneas when I totally should have and could have, and G3 he brought Ditto, which was super annoying, but I ended up winning the Groudon speedtie in the endgame, which sealed up the win.

Round 2 vs GBR Jonathan Marston | LWW

rayquaza-mega Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadferrothorn Victory Roadcrobat Victory Road
This was one of the worst possible matchups I could’ve got
because Crobat is just so annoying. Remember me saying that my way to deal with Tailwind/Trick Room is Taunt? That gets a lot more annoying when the Tailwind user speedties with my Taunt user, can potentially Taunt it as well and also just Haze away any Icy Wind drops. G1 I just get stomped. G2 I go with Gengar/Incineroar because I didn’t know what to do, won the Taunt speedtie and won the game from there. G3 I try the same approach and call some Icy Winds/Taunts correctly. There was one turn where Jonathan could’ve won if he had sacrificed his Kyogre, but it was difficult calling that because neither of us had one best play. I also think I got a bit lucky with speedties again in G3, but I’m not sure. Definetely one of the most exciting sets I’ve had in 19!

Round 3 vs DEU Robin Lange | WW

groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadsalamence Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadcresselia Victory Road
This was relatively easy because he didn’t have Mental Herb on his Cresselia, so I was able to beat him in two pretty quick games with Gengar, Landorus, Groudon and Xerneas.

Round 4 vs DEU Florian Brusch | WLW

xerneas Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road (I don’t remember his last and can’t find my notes) 
I didn’t recognize my opponent, but he told me he played a fair share of battle spot and he also had a good team, so I knew it wouldn’t be easy. Lunala with Scarf Tapu Lele was pretty scary, but I managed to win G1. G2 goes well until I miss a Precipice Blades on the switching Tapu Lele so I couldn’t KO it the next turn which lost me the game. G3 was really nice, but I managed to close it out in the end.

Round 5 vs ITA Enrico Mostallino | WW

rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadrotom-wash Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road
Another Rayquaza/Xerneas matchup, which was pretty nice. He never picked Amoonguss against me, which could’ve been good for him. Instead, he relied on his max special defense Tapu Fini with Haze to deal with my Xerneas, but it either got Taunted or straightup fainted to a double target with Precipice Blades, so I won those games. At this point I’m 5-0, which meant I only needed two more wins for day 2, but I was just focusing on winning the next game and tried to not think about what might or might not happen later on in the tournament.

Round 6 vs USA Wolfe Glick | WW

yveltal Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadbronzong Victory Roadtogedemaru Victory Road
I got paired up against Wolfe, which was really cool because we’d been chatting up between rounds and I’ve wanted to play against a few international players at this tournament. His team was scary because we forgot to think of a proper gameplan against it in preparation. I knew how good Gengar + Kyogre could be against Groudon/Xerneas teams. G1 I go for the standard approach against Kyogre teams and win because of a timely knockout on his Bronzong with Moonblast + Malicious Moonsault. G2 I thought he might go for Gengar, so I wanted to target it down aggressively. I’d probably win if his Gengar is down and I have 3 Pokémon left, which is what happened. You can also rewatch the set on YouTube.

Round 7 vs POL Szymon Wojdat | WLW

groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadkangaskhan-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkommo-o Victory Roadtornadus Victory Road
Szymon and I were actually in a group chat together with some other guys leading up to Internats where we’d have practice games against each other, so it was really nice to also see him up at 6-0. At this point there were only six 6-0’s I think. His team looked like that one team that a Japanese guy was running in the Japan Cup with Icy Wind Tornadus, Roar Kangaskhan and special Groudon, so I knew I was in for a rough match. G1 I manage to successfully stall out his Tailwind with Gengar/Incineroar, get some timely knockouts and win with Xerneas and Groudon in the back. G2 came down to his Groudon + something against my Groudon and boosted Xerneas. I KO his Groudon’s partner with Dazzling Gleam and get his Groudon into Moonblast and Precipice Blades-range, but his Groudon KOs my Xerneas with a critical hit Eruption and my Groudon misses the Blades, so Earth Power was enough to knock it the next turn. G3 was again a really nice game which I ended up winning. Definitely some very good games again, I was sad to hear that he ended up losing the next two rounds too, he definitely could’ve had a deep run in D2.

I was 7-0, which meant that I had secured day 2, which was really cool because I don’t think anyone was expecting that, and also because I would get to play another day!

Round 8 vs ITA Flavio Del Pidio | WW

rayquaza-mega Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadnihilego Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Road
We were both already guaranteed at day 2, but we wanted to win the next two rounds so we have a good record going into the next day. G1 he leads with Fini/Nihilego against my Gengar/Landorus, but Landorus just straightup fainted to his Z move, making it the most useless Pokémon ever (this was the third time I picked it this tournament, and also the last time). Gengar got off an Icy Wind, however, which allowed Groudon to come in and get the KO on Nihilego. With that gone, Xerneas + Gengar won out. G2 he goes for Rayquaza/Nihilego against my Gengar/Incineroar. I was feeling lucky and just went for the Z-move into his Nihilego to maybe just grab a ko on it which worked out as he timed out and doubled up into my protecting Gengar with Dragon Ascent and Sludge Bomb. From there I won with Groudon and Xerneas.

I really wanted to win last round so I could go like 2-3 the next day and maybe still make top cut. This is the point where I start pressuring myself a bit, and that wasn’t so good so for me.

Round 9 vs SWI David Mizrahi | LL

groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Road
His Scarf Tapu Lele was super annoying because it destroyed all my Gengar/Landorus plans. I tried to go for Gengar/Tapu Fini and it kinda worked until I missed Icy Wind on his switching in Salamence with Tapu Fini so it was still faster the next turn and set up Tailwind. G2 was also difficult, at some point he Taunts my Xerneas slots which is switching into Groudon whilst his Xerneas is boosting when I wanted to Roar him out next turn, but somehow I get my own Xerneas boosted, but it gets crit by his Moonblast. I didn’t really care at that point because I was still 8-1 and I knew for me to win that matchup, everything has to go right. At the end of the day, you really can’t expect that in a game like Pokémon.

After we finish up D1, Euler, Toby, Markus + his girlfriend, Wolfe, Till, Yuki and me go to an Asian place for dinner, which was really nice. Euler almost got into a fight with some guy at the train station and at some point we finally get to Till’s/Yuki’s/Wolfe’s/Toby’s place again where we prepare for D2 for a bit.

The next day I get to the venue in time for D2 and the only thing I have in mind is that I “just” have to go 3-2 to make T16 and possibly top cut if my losses aren’t early on in the day, which was the wrong approach in hindsight. I should’ve just looked at each game individually like I did on day 1, but it’s whatever.

Day 2

Round 10 vs DEU Fabian Braun | WLW
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Road

I knew that he was running Groudon/Xerneas and I wanted to play against him going into D2 because I thought my matchup was kinda okay, but his Misty Seed Tapu Fini turned out to be a lot more annoying than I thought it would be. I end up winning in three very close games.

Round 11 vs SGP Melvin Keh | LL
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadshedinja Victory Road

Initially I got paired up against Kimo, but we got repaired before the round began, so I switched seats with my neighbor and played against Melvin. He gave me a keychain from Singapore which was really cool, thanks! It was another Groudon/Xerneas matchup, but his Shedinja was really bugging me, so again, I didn’t bring Landorus, which I should’ve done in hindsight. Without Landorus, his Roar Groudon kept disrupting my Xerneas sweep and my Groudon alone was not enough to keep up with his Groudon, Xerneas and Salamence, so he won in 2 games where he played really well.

Round 12 vs USA Kimo Nishimura | LL
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadkyogre-primal Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-koko Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadferrothorn Victory Road

I really didn’t want to play against Rayquaza/Kyogre coming off a loss, but at least he didn’t have a Crobat, so it might be ok. Or so I thought. G1 I got surprised by Choice Band Rayquaza which I really shouldn’t have been, but I remembered someone talking about how his Rayquaza was Focus Sash the day before. I tried to somehow win with Xerneas, but Assault Vest Ferrothorn was too much to deal with. He also just wins G2 with very little that I could’ve done. I think what I could’ve done was to try my go-to plan against Kyogre with Tapu Fini/Incineroar, but considering that he has Gengar and Tapu Koko, I don’t know if that would’ve worked, even though he didn’t pick either of them in both games.

Round 13 vs SWI David Mizrahi | LL
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadsalamence-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road

Yeah, now I REALLY didn’t want to play David at the rink of elimination from top cut contention after losing to him the day before. I kinda ignored that my approach from day 1 wasn’t that bad and could’ve worked if I had gotten a bit luckier and instead tried some new leads like Incineroar/Groudon and Groudon/Xerneas in order to maybe change some stuff, but David played it really well and didn’t allow me to capitalize off potential mistakes, beating me 2-0 again.

Now that I was 9-4, I at least wanted to win my last round to maybe have a chance at making Top 16.

Round 14 vs FIN Oliver Eskolin | WW
kyogre-primal Victory Roadyveltal Victory Roadgengar-mega Victory Roadtapu-lele Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadstakataka Victory Road

This was a similar matchup to the one I played against Wolfe in D1, but he had both Stakataka and Tapu Lele, which made it a bit annoying. G1 I got knockouts on Gengar and Tapu Lele with Tapu Fini/Incineroar so they can help Groudon/Xerneas clean it up. In G2 my Xerneas avoided an Origin Pulse, which was important because it survived a Gyro Ball later on in the game to help me seal up the game, so I got lucky there.

salamence-mega Victory Road Conclusions

In the end, I end up being 17th place, which was unfortunate because I missed out on $250 and some booster packs which I could’ve sold because of my resistance. Then again, I should’ve won more games to just get those prizes. All in all, I’m happy that we managed to build a relatively good team which ended up being an okay call for the tournament (if you ignore the Crobats that were running around everywhere) and I managed to get some money from the tournament. It actually motivated to maybe play a bit more next year seeing that I could do well even after such a long break, maybe I’ll see you at some tournaments! Thanks go out to…

Till, Markus, Tim and Yuki for the teambuilding sessions and everything else
Fatih, Emre, Fevzi and Serkan for being funny and good friends
all the pear; Tommy, Alex and Alex for fun times at the tournament and the Aussies for their support <3
Toby, Euler, Wolfe and Chris for having some funny moments and stories 😀
Alex and Edu who I FINALLY met for the first time after knowing each other for so long
every other person I talked to that made my experience in Berlin so much better
YOU for reading, hope you had fun!

Header image by f-sonic on DeviantArt

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