Per aspera ad astra – Team Report from the Bremen Regional Champion

Hello! My name is Maurice Uteg, and I go by Camikasa online.

Against all odds, I managed to win the recent European Regional in Bremen. Since I was at 210 CP in my first-ever offline season, I really needed to cut Bremen for my Worlds invite, because I wasn’t planning to attend any more Regionals. I had basically given up on that dream and told myself I was only playing for practise round after round, so I was all the happier to not only cut but to actually win the whole thing!

So, let’s talk about what happened. I’ll briefly go over the team choice and the changes I made during these past weeks. I’ve been grinding this team since Stefan Mott cut Liverpool with it. I’ll also discuss the narrow paths to victory I had in some sets as well as how I handled mentality going into the tournament, since that usually doesn’t get enough attention in reports despite the fact that it plays a huge part in achieving your goals not only in Pokémon but in life itself.

Table of Contents

Teambuilding Process

Liverpool Regionals

My journey with this team started right after I bombed Liverpool Regionals, my first-ever Regional. I went 5-2 into 5-3 with Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia after losing the last round against my friend Matt Maynard (Bwenty) in a super stressful mirror match that came down to Sleep turns, which netted me no CP in the end. While I felt good with the team, I hated how dependent on reads and Sleep turns it was, so I started looking for something else. The problem with that, however, is that I suck at teambuilding and (more importantly) don’t enjoy it at all.

Thankfully, one of the teams in Liverpool cut caught my eye: the now-infamous Pengy Six by Stefan Mott (Pengy). This team instantly clicked for me, as I like playing reactively for most of the game so that I can win with a late-game Dynamax. (Also, it feels nice to click Water Spout; there is nothing better in this world!)

European International Championships


I quickly decided that this would be the team for my next event: EUIC in Frankfurt. I started off strong with a 6-1 record, but I lost my cool against star players Francesco Pardini and Joseph Ugarte in rounds 8 and 9 and ended up going 6-3. After replaying the games in my head, I knew I could have won those games if only my mentality had been better going into those matches. Either way, I did get 130 CP from that event, which kept the London dream alive. All I needed to do then was ensure I got CP at the other three Regionals I planned to attend: Bilbao, Lille, and Bremen, in order.

The game against Joe, in particular, was a devastating stomp and left behind some scars. He’d lead Regieleki with Fake Out support and it felt like there was absolutely nothing I could do. Because of that set, I ended up swapping out the Zapdos (which I rarely used anyway) for a Life Orb Landorus.

Bilbao Special Event


At the time, I felt pretty good about my decision, but in the actual tournament, I quickly realized that my Zacian + Kyogre matchup was not so free any more. In fact, it had become pretty difficult. I still managed to start Bilbao off with a 4-1 record. I was playing really well and felt confident in myself. However, this confidence was shattered in round 6, when I went up against Thomas Gravouille (the eventual Lille Regional Champion).

I knew he was a good player, and I knew I was probably worse than him, so I lost game 1 by playing too defensively. Game 2, I found my footing and won. In game 3, I got into a position where his Kartana was Burned, his Zacian was at neutral, and I had a full HP Incineroar with Chople Berry and Rillaboom left. I completely overthought the turns and Gigantamaxed my -1 Rillaboom instead of the Incineroar, which, of course, lost me the game. I was so angry at myself. I didn’t even lose due to a mindgame or silly RNG —it was all the fault of my own brain. I had been working so hard on getting better at the game, too, especially at cleaning up games and maintaining favourable board positioning. All the uplifting words from my friends didn’t help. I had bombed another Regional with a 4-4 record, finishing in 65th place. CP was only awarded to the top 64 players. I had received no CP from yet another event. That meant I’d need a top cut, or I wouldn’t qualify for the World Championships in London…

Or so I thought, until —in an unbelievably lucky turn of events— a disqualification in top 8 helped me secure those 50 CP. With the DQ, I was 64th. While I still was not happy with my performance, I took the chance and booked Lille as my next event.

Lille Regionals


I quickly scrapped the idea of changing the team, both because I figured that it was more me, the player, who had messed up and because Pengy had done more than well with it on the other side of the planet. After playing 5 Zacian + Kyogre teams in Bilbao, I swapped back to Zapdos. I still didn’t really know how to play Zapdos, though, and Safety Goggles felt useless with the absence of Amoonguss on opposing teams. I decided to just DM Pengy and see if I got a response.

To my surprise, he was really happy to share information about the team and even helped my confidence going forward. He told me that, for some reason, most players don’t prepare properly vs. his team, since there aren’t too many players who are good enough at using it to be good practise partners. (Not that this team is extremely hard to play, but for some reason, not a lot of people enjoy playing it, from our experience.)

I also learned that, after talking to Pengy, I could use game 1 to collect information when up against other Zacian + Kyogre teams. Zapdos rarely goes down to Max Geyser from Kyogre through Light Screen, so I learned that I could try to get an Eerie Impulse off while also forcing my opponent to reveal their Speed. With this knowledge, I started bringing Zapdos much more often, and my understanding of the Pokémon sky-rocketed. When playing a team for literal months, you need to recall to the basics from time to time. Think through every Pokémon, understand when to bring them, and know why and which attacks you want to use on them.

Unfortunately, past me was not smart enough to realize this, so I went to Lille having overprepped silly matchups, forgetting basics like how I need to be bringing Zapdos in the Zacian + Kyogre mirror. This led to me bombing yet another tournament with a mediocre 4-3 record. No lucky slip-through. No turning point. Just 0 CP.

I was so stressed during Lille that I completely forgot that the game is all about having fun. I was now sitting at 210 CP, so I knew I needed to cut Bremen to make it to Worlds as T16 would only award 80 CP and leave me 10 points short of an invite. I knew a cut was possible, but it wasn’t something I really wanted to push for. When I told myself that the grind was over, all I could feel was relief. Obviously, I still wanted to play in Bremen, but not with the intense pressure I had put on myself in Bilbao and Lille.

From Lille to Bremen


I spent the week practising a completely new team featuring Shadow Rider Calyrex + Groudon. I even had it locked in on RK9! At 11 p.m. on Friday —the day before the tournament— I’d decided to play some sets against Kyogre with Tornadus and Kyogre with screens with my friend Mike D’Angelo, and I couldn’t win a single game.

That’s when I decided to just swap back to the tried-and-true Pengy Six. I’d finish the season the way I started.


What I did next was very important. I calc’d the basics again; I pondered how to lead against standard teams again. I rethought the things I’d been doing on autopilot for several weeks without noticing. I came up with better game plans against Shadow Rider Calyrex teams, and I fixed spreads I had never questioned before. Every single one of those changes won me games in Bremen; we will get to how they helped later!

Remember how I said that past me just wasn’t smart enough to think about all this stuff? Well, present me is, and he’s now trying to share this wisdom with you. I’ll try to not repeat what Pengy already said in his team report videos, because he deserves all credit for the team and many people reading this will probably know his six well already.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Incineroar @ Focus Sash
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 188 Def / 12 SpA / 52 SpD
Relaxed Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Parting Shot
– Fake Out
– Burning Jealousy

As with most of you, I’ve played a lot of different Incineroar sets over the past few years, but this is the most abominable Incineroar set I have ever played successfully. Every single negative matchup is fixed by this patchwork Frankenstein’s monster.

Flare Blitz is a move I don’t need to talk about; neither is Parting Shot or Fake Out. Burning Jealousy was initially intended to be used against Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex teams with Thundurus, and it still wins those matchups; however, the more I played this Incineroar set, the more niches and opportunities I found to use Burning Jealousy. Getting a Burn or breaking a Focus Sash on opposing switch-ins, punishing Max Quakes or Indeedee + Landorus leads… the opportunities for this move to have value are endless. Once opponents know you’re using Burning Jealousy, they will usually adapt by going for sub-optimal Max Rockfalls instead of Max Quakes or the like, and you can take full advantage of that.

Despite the extreme physical bulk, which is mostly used to survive the double up from Zacian + Thundurus behind Reflect and using Burning Jealousy on them thereafter, I chose a Focus Sash as the item. The other options in the likes of Sitrus or Shuca Berry seemed underwhelming, since I rarely bring Incineroar to matchups with strong Ground-type attacks (as both Zacian and Incineroar are poor switch-ins in those cases). It was my friends Taran Birdee and Oliver Eskolin who suggested trying Focus Sash instead. It allows you to play really confidently when facing tricky lead positions. No matter what the opponent does, you either get off a Screen or a Parting Shot against crucial targets like Regieleki —or even both, if your opponent doesn’t know your item.

I won my game 1 in Round 1 purely because of this item choice. My opponent led Incineroar + Regieleki into my infamous Grimmsnarl + Incineroar and went for Fake Out into my Grimmsnarl while trying to KO my Incineroar. Since the Focus Sash let me live Regieleki’s attack and get off a Parting Shot, I could now bring in Kyogre freely, set up a Light Screen, and barely take 30% from its Max Lightings.

The defensive spread was already covered above. I don’t really need Speed, so I have a Speed-decreasing Nature to allow myself to deal more damage with Burning Jealousy to Zacian, which almost always breaks their potential Substitute.

Kyogre @ Assault Vest
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 52 Def / 180 SpA / 12 SpD / 60 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunder
– Water Spout
– Hyper Beam
– Origin Pulse

We will start with the core of the team: Assault Vest Kyogre.

Behind screens, this Kyogre is a monster; in fact, it’s such a monster that special Regieleki isn’t much of a check to it. Neither is Life Orb Zapdos or the like!

With Thunder, you win the 1v1 against every non-Assault Vest Kyogre. Water Spout not only gives you a hard-hitting spread move that you can click if you are faster than everything else on the field, but also provides a 150 BP Max Geyser. Origin Pulse is the move that you are probably going to be clicking the most, and yes, you will miss, but it will rarely make you lose games since this team is designed to allow your Kyogre to go for it more than once per match. Finally, there’s Hyper Beam: the option to put a fourth move on Kyogre, thanks to Assault Vest, is crazy. Max Strike offers you a form of Speed control that can be game-winning in certain endgames. Getting a Speed drop on opposing Regieleki or Shadow Rider Calyrex is huge for my Zacian, while getting drops on slower Pokémon, like other Kyogre, allows my Kyogre to outspeed them. I often Dynamax it when the opponent only has 2 or 3 Pokémon left.

The spread allows you to survive literally anything behind Screens. You take two Behemoth Blades even from very offensive Zacian behind a Reflect. You live Grassy Glides from Assault Vest Rillaboom, Max Lightings from Thundurus… you get the point. You survive a lot of stuff.

When I was going through the basics again, I noticed that Origin Pulse wasn’t always dealing the damage I wanted it to be dealing. I needed more firepower in two situations:

  1. I wanted Zapdos’ Max Airstream + Kyogre’s Origin Pulse to KO most Zacian.
  2. I wanted Max Geyser to KO Life Orb Thundurus after its Life Orb recoil.

My other win condition against Thundurus teams was not 100% safe in a best-of-three setting. Pengy said that he had a Speed of 120 (76 Speed EVs) on Kyogre to outspeed opposing Thundurus at +1; however, in my game plans, this never came up, so I really didn’t bother putting any more into Speed since I was slower than basically every other Kyogre anyway.

Zacian @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 76 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 204 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Behemoth Blade
– Sacred Sword
– Play Rough
– Protect

It’s a Zacian. Like every other Zacian, it hits hard, it hits fast, and it tanks stuff behind Screens. Most notably, you live Max Geyser from Mystic Water Kyogre if you’re behind Light Screen. I sacrificed the Life Orb Kyogre roll for more Speed as I wanted to be able to outspeed Venusaur in Sun at +1 Speed.

The set is very standard; I spoke to many people that were playing Substitute and other shenanigans, but in this team, I think you need every single attacking move. Sacred Sword is there for Kartana and Incineroar and Play Rough is there for Yveltal, Palkia, and Reshiram. Also, don’t forget that you might face the occasional lesser-seen Restricted like Dialga or Solgaleo, where Sacred Sword also comes in handy.

Rillaboom-Gmax @ Miracle Seed
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 188 Atk / 52 Def / 60 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Grassy Glide
– High Horsepower
– Protect
– Fake Out

This Rillaboom has the same spread Pengy used to win the Indianapolis Regionals. While the minimum Speed isn’t that important to retain Terrain control against Indeedee (at least in my opinion), it’s just really good in Trick Room against stuff like Lunala + Groudon and the occasional Ice Rider Calyrex + Kyogre teams that pop up here and there. I remember Pengy saying he benched Zacian more often than Rillaboom most of the time, and I used to, too; however, during the tournament, I almost never brought Rillaboom —not even against Kyogre or Gastrodon, because it turns out Grimmsnarl and Zapdos can handle them just as well while also providing better utility against the rest of the enemy team. Still, Rillaboom can be good if you catch your opponent off-guard and they often have to make sacrifices to counter a potential Rillaboom bring in team preview.

Grimmsnarl-Gmax @ Light Clay
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 92 Def / 132 SpD / 28 Spe
Careful Nature
– Spirit Break
– Reflect
– Light Screen
– Thunder Wave

Oh my, do I love this incredibly toxic Pokémon, Grimmsnarl. Screens are the bread and butter of this team. Thunder Wave is Speed control, but it is also so much more than that. As mentioned before, with this sort of team, your games end up lasting a while. And after your opponent’s Pokémon have been Paralyzed for 3 turns, they already have a 58% chance to be fully paralyzed at least once. This shouldn’t function as your win condition —think of it as more of a win-more option, so to speak.

You’ll often get yourself into situations where your opponent gets punished for leaving Grimmsnarl alive, even though it’s not dealing a lot of damage. In my finals match, Giovanni Piscitelli let his Kyogre get Paralyzed, after which Grimmsnarl could simply outspeed it (and other Pokémon with less than base 100 Speed) and spam Spirit Break to lower their damage further. If they switch out, their Speed is still halved for the rest of the game (something Thunder Wave has going for it over Scary Face).

It’s important to know when you should go for Thunder Wave over Screens. A general rule of thumb for me is that Thunder Waving a Shadow Rider Calyrex or Zacian usually has more value, since it lets your Kyogre outspeed them for the rest of the game.

Grimmsnarl came to almost every matchup. I noticed that Eric Rios and Giovanni Piscitelli were playing it differently, and didn’t bring it as often as me, but to me, Grimmsnarl was truly the formula for success.

The spread allows you to outspeed Paralyzed Pokémon with Base 100 Speed. On the special side, you survive Kyogre’s Max Geyser behind Light Screen, and on the physical side, you survive a Behemoth Blade from Jolly Zacian when they are Intimidated behind Reflect. This calc is incredibly important, since I often lead Incineroar with Grimmsnarl.

Zapdos @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Static
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 156 HP / 4 Def / 116 SpA / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hurricane
– Thunderbolt
– Eerie Impulse
– Roost

Finally, THE Zapdos. This Pokémon is designed to win “Swordfish” (Zacian + Kyogre) mirrors as it outspeeds most Kyogre and cripples them with Eerie Impulse. It also walls Rillaboom, which most people bring into you, especially since your Kyogre can’t Protect. Static proc is yet another way of swinging the RNG in your favour, as you could see in both the finals and semi-finals. Hurricane and Thunderbolt are your requisite STABs, and what you use to hit Rillaboom and Kyogre hard. Lastly, Roost is extremely valuable to stall Dynamaxes, and it also allows you to win against Zacian 1v1. If it doesn’t have Play Rough, you can just Roost up and chip them, and even if it does have Play Rough, they are likely to get Paralyzed by Static at some point, which puts you in a very advantageous position. The sheer pressure this Pokémon offers by threatening to shut down two of the best Restricted in the format scares some opponents to the point that you’ll get free switches into the other slot in some games.

Safety Goggles lets you play against Venusaur and Lunala leads comfortably, and Amoonguss isn’t a problem either. I don’t remember what the spread does, exactly, but you live a Play Rough from Jolly Zacian even without Reflect and a Max Geyser from Kyogre with Light Screen.

The miracle run

I already explained what had happened the week leading up to Bremen, so we’re going to dive right into the Regional.

I went in with the mindset of just playing Pokémon, without any specific goal to achieve, since I knew a cut was unlikely and since I didn’t want to feel as stressed as I had been in Lille. I’d accepted the fact that I wouldn’t make it to Worlds and told myself I’d just have to qualify next season (with locals hopefully being back by then). Of course, I was nervous before round 1, but I wasn’t stressed, I just wanted to game some good Pokémon.

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Christian Smiljanić
Match summary

And what could be better than to start the day with a match against a good friend?


I knew Christian desperately needed CP, but so did I, so we both gave it our best. In G1, Focus Sash Incineroar came in clutch as it survived Regieleki’s attack and got off a Parting Shot, instantly winning me the game with a turn 2 Kyogre Dynamax. I’d learned in Frankfurt that you need confidence to play G2 correctly, so I took the chance and made the call that he would not bring Regieleki again.


Leading Kyogre gave me the opportunity to launch a huge Water Spout which allowed me to KO his Incineroar. The game was still not over; later on, I trusted my gut telling me that my Zacian would live a +1 Max Quake from Calyrex behind a Screen. It did, and I won. I felt pretty good after this game, since I made a nice call in team preview which I wouldn’t have done in Frankfurt. I took it as a sign of my progress! Also, my Focus Sash had already won me a game, which felt amazing, because this Incineroar set is really just a bunch of stuff thrown together.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Markus Stadter
Match summary

When I saw this matchup, I knew that day was already a win. Markus brought me into this game —he was so nice when I met him in the 2017 Leipzig Regionals. Since then, whenever I thought about Pokémon, he was the one I looked up to. I wanted to put on a show to get his respect, but to be quite honestly, he completely ran over me with his team. We had a nice talk afterwards, and I realized that I need to step up my gameplay against great players like Markus.

Funnily enough, I still wasn’t stressed after this loss. I kept the mindset of just playing good Pokémon and learning as much as I can. It was a lucky coincidence that I played against Markus in Round 2; that might have been because this was a rare case of a loss boosting my confidence. I could have won against Markus, the player I respect more than anyone, if I had just read correctly.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Niels de Jonge
Match summary

We will just scratch Round 3, because it was basically won by pressuring my opponent with Burning Jealousy. In G2, he Switcheroo’d my Dynamaxed Kyogre, which wasted my Dynamax and put me behind. However, I kept my cool. Even in that high-pressure situation, and even though my Worlds invite was hanging by a thread, I stayed in the zone and managed to win with Zacian, because Whimsicott now had an Assault Vest and Thundurus doesn’t deal too much damage to it.


After this set, I noticed how incredible my confidence was. I was calm and collected like never before, and already happy with the day, regardless of the outcome.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Justin Carris
Match summary

So, here we are. Justin Carris in Round 4, another really good player. I knew from his streamed set that he played Metagross, but it didn’t really help me. I couldn’t figure out how to beat it without relying on Paralysis, so I just tried to play the odds. I didn’t get them and lost G1. He gave me time to think during G2, because he did the same thing Niels did in Round 3. I lost my Dynamax again, and won with Zacian. I basically played the same game twice, which was hilarious.


G3 was the turning point of this tournament for me. It came down to a read: I either Sacred Sword to KO his Porygon2, or I read his switch to Shadow Rider Calyrex by Behemoth Blading. I remembered the set against Markus and how I’d wanted to step up my plays, so I made the read and it won the game. It felt incredible, and after this I was feeling even more confident. Nothing could stop me any more: I’d won my first Regional set by a hard read, which wasn’t even a 50-50 considering that we were still on the lower tables and you normally don’t expect players to go for something like that there.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Scott Terry
Match summary

After this sweaty endgame in Round 4, I was rewarded with a good matchup. Zapdos wins against all six Pokémon on Scott’s team, especially after I found out that it was faster than his Kyogre.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Martin Kockel
Match summary

We’re jumping directly to G2 here. He had Solgaleo (with Wild Charge) + Rillaboom against my Grimmsnarl + Kyogre lead. Needless to say, this was far from ideal. Unluckily for him, I was still very in-the-zone. I figured that the game would pretty much be over even if I’d switched out the Kyogre to take a massive chunk of damage on my Zacian (since this match-up normally involves stalling out the Dynamax and out-valuing the rival with Zacian in the late game), so instead, I just swapped Grimmsnarl for Rillaboom and went for a plain Water Spout without even Dynamaxing, predicting a Fake Out and Max Steelspike double up. It worked beautifully: I got the Fake Out the turn after and a ton of damage on Solgaleo. I’m not only seeing the narrow paths to victory I have, but I’m also taking them.


I was now 5-1 with two more rounds to go. I still don’t feel nervous, partly because everything was just working out and partly (most definitely the bigger part) because my friends were hyping me up both live and in Discord. Everyone was there for me. I love you guys!

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Nabil Lakehal
Match summary

I’ve forgotten everything about these games besides the endgame of G3. I was not nervous while playing, but when I can’t do anything because RNG takes the wheel, I feel stressed. In this matchup, the win condition is late-game Zacian. Sadly, he had Imprison Zacian without Play Rough. I knew that and still had to bring my own Zacian. I got the read wrong thinking he wouldn’t go for Imprison, basically wasting a turn. I then proceeded to miss Play Rough on Porygon2 and he Paralyzed me with Tri-Attack. From this point onward, I had no control over the game anymore. I just had to make sure to not get even more unlucky now. I hit the first Play Rough on the Zacian, securing a knockout. My Zacian lived Tsareena’s High Jump Kick on 3 HP and KO’d it with Behemoth Blade. It felt like my brain was about to melt.


Having no control over the outcome of the game feels draining at times, but I always remember to tell myself that I love the game despite the RNG moments.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Giovanni M. Tonelli
Match summary

The day couldn’t end any better than with my first-ever streamed match. I knew it was my win-and-in, and I knew it meant London or not. I still managed to tune everything out somehow. Mentality and confidence are so important; I can’t stress that enough, and I think I gave a good showing.


I knew the matchup quite well, and Lunala + Groudon without Thundurus gives me less trouble because Zapdos is very free to do its thing here. The Lunala + Groudon player basically has to set up Trick Room if they want to stop Zapdos from going ham, but on the other hand, my Kyogre is extremely slow, so it doesn’t actually benefit them that much.


And then, something crazy happened. I rarely burst out laughing when playing because I am hyper focused and don’t want to distract my opponents, but when we saw that Groudon and Kyogre had a Speed tie, I couldn’t help it. We both looked at each other and laughed. However, the Speed tie helped me more than it did him; in fact, it didn’t help him at all. He had to set up Trick Room, as previously mentioned, but Kyogre underspeeds both Lunala and Venusaur, and now it even has a 50% chance to underspeed Groudon as well. I have to say that this was a very lucky circumstance, but we take it.


Remember how I took out Speed for damage output? Not only did it help me KO opposing Thundurus in previous rounds —it now helps my Lunala + Groudon match-up even more! I went for the obvious plays G1, and he didn’t make any crazy predictions like Max Quaking my Zapdos slot expecting a switch or anything, so I pinned him in the endgame while carefully playing around Wide Guard.

In G2, I thought that I’d conditioned him pretty well by always going for the safer, more obvious plays, so I decided to just stay in with Zacian in Trick Room, fully aware that it could get KO’d by a Max Quake and basically risking the game on that turn. And it worked! I KO’d the Groudon, securing a win —my sixth win in a row on that day.


I couldn’t grasp the fact that I had just top cut a Regional. My friends were so happy for me and even had tears in their eyes. It was amazing. I’d accomplished getting my Worlds invite in my first ever season. I had my first ever win-and-in on stream, and I even won! Incredible.


I spent the rest of the day eating ice cream and fried noodles with the Austrian boys and girls and went home to a friend’s house, where my girlfriend was waiting for me. They’d all watched the stream and spammed the chat despite not really knowing what was going on, still supporting me. I honestly think the support from all sides did a huge part in helping me win it all.

Top cut

So, the day before top cut, I’d asked a judge when I should be there the next day. He told me to be there at 10, so I left the house extra early, shortly after 9. I got a DM on Twitter from the head judge telling me that we actually start at 9 and that I was already late, so I stressed out quite a bit, running to the nearest E-Scooter, which of course turned out to be broken. I ran for another 5 minutes to the next available one, only to arrive at 9:25, completely dead (but hey, I made it). After explaining the situation to the very understanding judges, they told me that I didn’t need to start my Top 8 with a game loss, but I still felt kind of stressed after that unscheduled morning sprint.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Frederik Nielsen
Match summary

On to Top 8. I practised some lines the night before, but not too much, since I wanted to follow the advice of my more experienced friends to not stress out too much over cut. The match-up looked very solid anyway, and I had loads of information about the team from the streamed matches that my friends had dissected.

However, he led perfectly for me in G1, letting his Zacian get Burned turn 1. I forgot what happened before the match and just focused on the game again. I really love the Incineroar + Grimmsnarl lead, you should try it; it just absorbs all the pressure both your opponent and real life throws at you 😉 .

In G2, he adapted pretty well, but since he was playing a support Thundurus, his only Dynamax option was really Yveltal, and I could play around that. He flinched my Zacian with Dark Pulse in the late game, and I lived on 1 HP the turn after, which was kind of funny.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Giulio Tarlao
Match summary

Yay, on stream again! I had time to calm down because the other side of the bracket were going first. Eric and Giovanni played a fun-to-watch set with Giovanni coming on top. I wasn’t thinking about my match while watching, still not really thinking about what could and couldn’t happen—just enjoying top players playing Pokémon.


My set against Giulio was a rematch of Round 8, basically. They not only had the same 6 Pokémon, but the same spreads as well, since they had built their team together. I knew I was favoured. I had 2-0’d this team before, so why not a second time? I was a different person than earlier in the season, and I had 0 doubts that I could do it.

Giulio punished me pretty well in G1, since I often favour Thunder Wave over a Screen early on, when my Grimmsnarl is not too threatened. So, I spent two turns Thunder Waving and Eerie Impulsing his Groudon and Incineroar for nothing. It is so absurd to me that this team is able to do literally nothing for two turns straight and still come out on top in the end. I finally decided to set up my Screens as he KO’d my Zapdos, giving me a free switch. It ultimately boiled down to me having Kyogre + Zacian against his Groudon + Venusaur while Sun was up. I could either switch in the Grimmsnarl to reset the weather later or Dynamax Kyogre, because if I were him, I would have just let the Grimmsnarl live and Sleep Powder the Zacian slot. I was torn on what to do, so I ended up doing absolutely nothing and timing out! 😀 I managed to input my Kyogre Dynamax last second. Thankfully, I’d put Zacian’s moves in such an order that it always Protects itself when timing out (since I like timing out 🙂 ), and it looks like a crazy read. Yeah, that works!


In G2, I felt like he would not let me damage his Venusaur, and I was right —he switched it out for Groudon, and I switched my slower Grimmsnarl out for Kyogre, setting up Rain and putting me in a commanding position. I knew for a fact that he had Wide Guard on the Lunala, so I just Dynamaxed Kyogre and basically won the game from there.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Giovanni Piscitelli
Match summary

Finals tiiiiime! That’s what I’m thinking right now. Back then, I was still zoned out, and just played it like every other match. I cannot stress enough how much that mindset carried me throughout the weekend. I got so many reads right because I felt like my opponent was not willing to bank a game on a read while I would, because I simply ignored the stakes.

I’d already seen Giovanni play the mirror in semi-finals, and I knew I was favoured because he had no Play Rough on Zacian, leaving him with no way to hit my Zapdos. I just needed to leverage my Zapdos value properly to win the game. I also noticed that both Eric and Giovanni benched Grimmsnarl in all their games. I kept second-guessing myself, since I always bring Grimmsnarl in this match-up; screens are so good, and Thunder Wave helps you too when the games are drawn out. In the end, I decided to trust my gut and bring Grimmsnarl.

In G1, Grimmsnarl showed its value by pressuring Giovanni so much that he committed to a double-up into it, leaving his Incineroar on the field. I switched in my Kyogre, took the Behemoth Blade comfortably, and took out the Incineroar after that, since he was completely pinned by Hurricane + Max Geyser. I also managed to chip the Zacian, which is very important for Zacian vs. Zacian endgames! I missplayed the later turns quite a bit by Roosting with Zapdos instead of going for another Eerie Impulse on his Dynamaxed Zapdos, so my Zacian had to really give its best to survive all of the attacks thrown at it.

With this team, it’s incredibly important to always keep your win conditions in mind. My Zapdos was not going to be KO’d by either attack, so a Roost was unnecessary; if I went for Eerie Impulse, my Zacian wouldn’t have had to go through a near-death experience, living on just 1 HP. (Let me tell you, though, that he max-rolled through my Protect and only had a 37,5% chance to KO me afterwards, so it was in my favour anyway.) I’d imagine it would have been extremely funny to have a 10 minute-long Roost stall war in the final if my Zacian didn’t live, and I honestly don’t know who would have won on timer if it had come to that.


In G2, I practically won on turn 1, which was a great relief. He led Rillaboom + Zacian into my infamous Zapdos + Grimmsnarl lead and decided to push his luck by going for a Fake Out into Zapdos instead of Grimmsnarl. I thought that a Max Airstream would allow me to outspeed his Zacian next turn and threaten a KO with my own Zacian; however, now the outcome was even better. I got a Thunder Wave off onto his Zacian and KO’d his Rillaboom turn 1, and he even got fully Paralyzed. I couldn’t believe it. From there, all I had to do was stay calm and play it safely to bring home a trophy.


I think Grimmsnarl was absolutely crucial in this set, since it helped me leverage my Dynamax both games.


And that is my story. That is how I won a Regional in my first-ever competitive season. I obviously worked hard to get good at the game, but it’s not only about playing, it’s about your mentality and approach to the game as well. I spent hours and hours thinking about how to approach situations in-game, not from a mathematical but a psychological point-of-view, and I now realize that this gave me the advantage. I always felt positive during the tournament. My only loss made me feel happy, since I knew what to change. It all came together on this weekend for my own little miracle.

Thank you to all my friends who supported me. Thank you to Nicole Saeed for gathering all the Information about my top 8 match. Thank you to Taran Birdee who helped me keep my cool before top cut. Thank you Jack Clarke, Nick Schrott, Lukas Auer, Kurt Wonka and all the other guys who cheered for me on site. It means the world to me. Thank you to all supporting me from home, even when they didn’t know what was going on —heck, even my grandma called me to congratulate me!

And, of course, thank you to all the friends I made inside the community. Pokémon is an amazing game, and it brings so many people together. I am beyond grateful for this experience.

Finally, I created a rental version of the team for everyone who just wants to hop on ladder and lead Grimmsnarl + Incineroar. Thank you for reading!

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