Baek to Baek Worlds 3rd Place! — A 2022 World Championships Top 4 Team Report

Hey, everyone! James Baek here. The following report covers the teambuilding process and tournament run for my 3rd place team at the 2022 Pokémon VGC World Championships.

Table of Contents

Prior to Worlds

To understand why I chose Zacian + Kyogre as my Restricted pair, I’ll give you a little bit of backstory. This decision was guided by the only two Series 12 events I had attended, which were the Secaucus Regional Championship and the North America International Championship (NAIC).

Secaucus Regionals (3-3 drop)

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarrillaboom-gmaxgrimmsnarl-gmaxzapdos

At Secaucus, I brought a standard Zacian + Kyogre team that was inspired by the version of Jeongso Lee (Crystal); Crystal had just won the huge online VR May S12 Challenge and top cut Korea’s Trainers Cup (their Nationals). Unfortunately, I ended up dropping from the event at 3-3, as I found myself not enjoying the duo as well as I had originally anticipated. I felt that the team was a bit too passive for me, and I wasn’t able to threaten heavy offensive pressure even with these powerful Restricteds.

NAIC (7th place)

zacian-crownedcalyrex-shadow-riderincineroarrillaboom-gmaxgastrodon-eastthundurus

At NAIC, I utilized a Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex team to great success, finishing in the Top 8! However, I was unsure of bringing it to Worlds because of the team’s demanding playstyle. It was a powerful team, but it was very mentally draining to use because there was little to no room for error. After discussing my concerns regarding the team with Eduardo Cunha and Emilio Forbes, I learned that they weren’t planning to bring it to Worlds at that point, either. I decided to focus on making a new team for Worlds.

After NAIC

Worlds is always an event with high variance, due to all of the different competitors and regions that attend. To make matters even more difficult, Japan had two Nationals this season (2021 and 2022), and they were dominated by unconventional teams. This meant that there would be a larger-than-usual influx of Japanese players using strategies that were impossible to predict in advance. With this in mind, I decided to focus on having a team with solid tools that would do well in any matchup.

GEM Cup

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarkartanalandorus-theriantornadus

After NAIC, I participated in a small invitational known as GEM Cup, hosted by the 2022 Hong Kong National Champion Pan Si Ming (ChinaSapphire). The tournament featured many strong players from Asia, and I was able to obtain best-of-three practice vs. players from regions I have little experience playing against. I initially wasn’t a fan of Tornogre (Kyogre teams with Tornadus) in Series 12 when I tested the duo at the beginning of the season. However, it saw strong performances at EUIC, Japan Nationals and NAIC, so I decided to test it once again, bringing Gabriel Agati’s NAIC team to the tournament.

Overall, the thoughts I had about Tornogre were the same. Gameplans felt too linear, frequently going for Tailwind and Max Airstream to apply heavy damage. Additionally, some of the Pokémon felt very underwhelming outside of Dynamax (Landorus and Kartana). I ended up finishing 4-2 in my pool, which wasn’t good enough to advance in the tournament. However, I felt that I had reaffirmed some of the problems I had with the current variants of Tornogre, and brainstormed some ideas to fix its present flaws.

Teambuilding process

kyogreindeedee-female

Kyogre loves redirection, as it allows it to constantly go for strong Water Spouts —something I took huge advantage of in 2019 with Kyogre and Amoonguss. Female Indeedee and Kyogre was a popular duo early in Series 12, but it dropped off very quickly. This surprised me, as they have excellent synergy, and I felt Indeedee alongside Kyogre would be a particularly strong call for Worlds. Psychic Terrain stops all sorts of problematic priority moves, including Grimmsnarl, Thundurus, and Whimsicott’s Prankster moves, as well as Grassy Glide with its reliance on Grassy Terrain. Helping Hand was also a very nice tool to have, especially to help break through passive teams. It even lets me pick up knockouts through Light Screen and Reflect.

kyogreamoonguss

While I did still like Amoonguss with Kyogre, there were a few concerns I had about adding Amoonguss to my team:

  1. Amoonguss was rising back to popularity towards the latter half of Series 12, which meant more players would be aware of it and have countermeasures such as Safety Goggles, Misty Terrain, and Lum Berry.
  2. Amoonguss isn’t able to redirect the Grass types that threaten Kyogre like Rillaboom and Venusaur, which were very prevalent. This wasn’t nearly as much of a problem in 2019, where there weren’t many offensive Grass types that threatened Kyogre.
  3. It is hard to switch in safely vs. Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia teams, which is already a tough matchup for Zacian + Kyogre.
  4. Against Grimmsnarl, you would be forced to either Rage Powder to prevent a Thunder Wave or Trick onto Amoonguss’ ally, or get a Spore off onto Grimmsnarl.
  5. Amoonguss on Zacian + Kyogre teams tends to add overlapping weaknesses with other common partners, leaving 3 Pokémon weak to Ice and/or Fire.

After weighing the pros and cons, I concluded that I would use Indeedee over Amoonguss.

zacian-crownedkyogreindeedee-female

After settling on a solid redirection option, I added Pokémon I liked when I tested other Tornogre teams (Kyogre teams with Tornadus), including the titular Tornadus. Having a Tailwind option coupled with Kyogre is strong, and its type synergy is incredible. Tornadus can threaten Grass types like Venusaur, Amoonguss and Rillaboom with powerful Hurricanes, utilize Dynamax well for Max Airstream support in certain situations, and is immune to Ground to help against Sun teams. Icy Wind can get important chip damage, is another form of speed control, and it can’t be blocked by Psychic Terrain —unlike Whimsicott’s Cotton Spore. Incineroar was added because its typing complements Kyogre and it matches up well with Zacian, both Calyrex forms, Rillaboom, and Lunala. Refurbishing the Kyogre + Incineroar + redirection archetype I was comfortable with in 2019 made me confident I could pilot my Worlds team well, but there still remained the question of the team’s final slot.

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarindeedee-femaletornadus

I debated the last slot of this team very heavily. Before Secaucus, I theorized that Incarnate Landorus was an incredibly strong surprise pick on Kyogre teams. It can do very well against Sun and outspeeds Charizard naturally, whereas Therian Landorus is slower and can easily be dispatched by G-Max Wildfire in the Sun. I was very concerned about facing Sun at Worlds, to the point where I even considered dropping Tornadus to fit both Landorus and Rillaboom on the team.

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarindeedee-femalelandorustornadus

Despite this, Rillaboom ended up being my sole pick for the slot. It provided me with a solid Grass type to improve the Kyogre matchup without having to rely on Dynamax like Kartana, which is very underwhelming without it. A Pokémon with both great flexibility and the ability to pressure Kyogre teams with priority Grassy Glide seemed too good to pass up.

zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarrillaboom-gmaxindeedee-femaletornadus

Having two terrain setters in theory didn’t seem great, but it was actually very strong and gave me even more options. Most of the time, Indeedee could lead, and once it was gone, I could change the terrain with Rillaboom and shift to throwing off priority Grassy Glides or providing Fake Out support with Incineroar. Having two terrains also let me reset the timer on them myself, extending their usefulness. I also had multiple ways to deny Electric Terrain from Regieleki. While Rillaboom forced me to respect Sun more than Incarnate Landorus, it could still help against it, and it improved my Rain matchup to make it worth using.

My final 6 were locked in. They were reminiscent of the team I used to get Top 4 at the Pokémon World Championships in 2019 (foreshadowing alert), so I was very confident in them. They filled all of the same checkboxes for tools that I knew I could use exceedingly well:

  1. Great damage output
  2. Multiple forms of speed control
  3. Good balance of bulk and power
  4. Redirection
  5. Many flexible options
  6. Set up (Substitute)
  7. Mostly accurate moves

The team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Tornadus (M) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hurricane
– Icy Wind
– Tailwind
– Protect

Tornadus is back on my Worlds team once again, but this time with a very different set. In Series 12, having the Focus Sash is crucial, because there are so many strong attacks that can one-shot even a bulky Tornadus.

Hurricane does significant damage, and Rain allows it to be 100% accurate. Icy Wind provides an edge in the speed war against opposing Tailwind and Max Airstream. Protect allows Tornadus some survivability, meaning it can stall out opposing Tailwind turns and potentially get up multiple Tailwinds of its own. I debated running Rain Dance or Taunt in this slot, but felt the moves weren’t necessary.

This set was very standard, but effective. It worked well as a lead, overwhelming my opponent from the start if they didn’t have a good method of speed control. Tornadus setting up Tailwind in the midgame was also a strong option. By going for an Indeedee + Kyogre lead, I could get the opponent to use too many resources to take down Indeedee, either by burning their own Tailwind turns or taking too much damage. Tornadus could come in after Indeedee went down, letting me set up an easy Tailwind for Kyogre and clean up the opponent’s team.

Kyogre @ Life Orb
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 28 HP / 4 Def / 220 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Thunder
– Ice Beam
– Protect

It is very ironic that the Kyogre set I’ve criticized the whole year and thought was the worst Kyogre set was the one I would bring to Worlds.

A problem that had come up with standard Tornogre teams is that the standard Kyogre sets were unable to sweep teams easily compared to in 2019, especially with the addition of Dynamax. Even when powered up by Mystic Water, Water Spout and even Max Geyser can miss knockouts quite consistently. Kyogre is also threatened by this format’s heavy hitters, and while Assault Vest partially alleviates that, its damage output is poor and lacking Protect makes it very awkward to position properly.

In 2019, I would often either bring my Restricteds alongside support Pokémon or focus my gameplans around Kyogre, so I envisioned Kyogre Dynamaxing in most of my games. This meant that Life Orb Kyogre made the most sense to get the offensive output that I needed. It is absurdly strong, able to one-shot many Pokémon —even through Dynamax. When boosted by Indeedee’s Helping Hand, it could score a lot of knockouts through Light Screen as well. I wasn’t forced into Dynamaxing immediately either —Follow Me + Water Spout or Tailwind + Water Spout were also solid offensive options.

Origin Pulse would have been nice, as after my Kyogre took a bunch of damage, Water Spout became weak. I even considered dropping Protect for Origin Pulse, but that wouldn’t have worked because of just how essential Protect is for positioning Kyogre. Thankfully, I didn’t end up missing Origin Pulse very much —I had correctly anticipated that there weren’t many scenarios at Worlds where it would have came into play. Thunder and Ice Beam also proved to be good enough to not be worth replacing. Thunder was useful thanks to its ability to threaten opposing Kyogre, Charizard on Rinya Sun, playing around Gastrodon and any team with Spore and Yawn pressure. I chose Ice Beam over Blizzard to have an accurate Ice-type move as coverage both in and out of Dynamax, rather than simply having a slightly stronger Max Hailstorm.

This Kyogre set put in a lot of work at Worlds, and its partners gave it a lot of freedom to wreak havoc.

Offensive calcs

zapdos 220+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Dynamax Zapdos in Rain: 328-386 (98.7 – 116.2%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
grimmsnarl 220+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 252 HP / 100+ SpD Grimmsnarl in Rain through Light Screen: 203-239 (100.4 – 118.3%) — guaranteed OHKO

zacian-crowned 220+ SpA Life Orb Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Zacian-Crowned in Rain: 199-234 (100 – 117.5%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

thundurus 252 Atk Life Orb Thundurus Max Lightning vs. 28 HP / 4 Def Dynamax Kyogre: 289-343 (80.7 – 95.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO

rillaboom -1 252+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 28 HP / 4 Def Dynamax Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 144-170 (40.2 – 47.4%)

regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning (140 BP) vs. 28 HP / 4 SpD Dynamax Kyogre: 291-346 (81.2 – 96.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

 

Zacian-Crowned @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Atk / 12 Def / 20 SpD / 148 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Behemoth Blade
– Sacred Sword
– Substitute
– Protect

This is a pretty standard Zacian set, except it had Substitute over Play Rough. This is unconventional for Kyogre teams —normally, you would want Play Rough to hit Palkia and opposing Kyogre for more damage. However, I didn’t think that was necessary —I still found myself just clicking Behemoth Blade or Sacred Sword for my attacks most of the time. My game plan against the Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia matchup is to get Palkia in range for Rillaboom or Sacred Sword anyway, so I didn’t even click Play Rough much in a matchup where you would expect to use it most. When I was testing Gabriel Agati’s team in GEM Cup, not only did I never use it, but I noticed that I would frequently end up in positions where I could have clicked Substitute and instantly be in a game-winning position. Plus, Play Rough seems to have a tendency to miss right when you need it, while Substitute is consistent.

There were other moves that I considered for this slot, too. Snarl and Crunch were the moves I considered the most, as they could help against Lunala and Shedinja. Wild Charge could have helped me against Charizard and opposing Kyogre, but it was counterintuitive to use and be forced to take a lot of recoil on a bulky Zacian set. Helping Hand could have been threatening next to Rillaboom and Kyogre. Solar Blade would help against Rinya Sun, but I felt it was too niche. Substitute is simply an incredibly strong choice for Zacian, letting it stall Max Moves and punish passive plays aimed at avoiding my offense. This move helped me in most of my sets and all of my Day 3 Top Cut sets, so I am glad that I picked it over anything else.

76 Attack EVs with an Adamant Nature give Zacian an extra stat point bonus in Attack. I knew that this was the minimum amount of Attack that I wanted, as Zacian wants to be able to output a lot of damage both in the early game and during clean-ups. I considered running more Speed to beat Timid Chlorophyll Venusaur in Sun after a Max Airstream boost or opposing Icy Wind, but I figured that this team had enough ways to play around Venusaur, and that there would be more Modest variants anyway. The Speed investment I settled on allowed Zacian to outspeed Regieleki after an Icy Wind or Max Airstream boost while also outspeeding most other Zacian I encountered at Worlds. The remaining EVs in bulk gave Zacian clutch survivability that came into play multiple times during the event.

Offensive calcs

thundurus +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Helping Hand Behemoth Blade vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Thundurus: 310-366 (100 – 118%) — guaranteed OHKO
calyrex-ice-rider +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Calyrex-Ice: 218-258 (105.3 – 124.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

grimmsnarl +1 76+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 212+ Def Grimmsnarl through Reflect: 204-240 (100.9 – 118.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning (140 BP) vs. 252 HP / 20 SpD Zacian-Crowned: 169-200 (84.9 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

groudon 252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Zacian-Crowned: 164-194 (82.4 – 97.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

calyrex-ice-rider 252+ Atk Calyrex-Ice Max Quake vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Zacian-Crowned: 170-202 (85.4 – 101.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
calyrex-shadow-rider 252 SpA Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 252 HP / 20 SpD Zacian-Crowned: 81-96 (40.7 – 48.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO

 

Indeedee-F (F) @ Psychic Seed
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 244 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 12 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Expanding Force
– Follow Me
– Helping Hand
– Protect

Like I said, Indeedee seemed like a very strong call for Worlds, and it absolutely put in outstanding work. Psychic Surge gave me terrain control and prevented the use of Fake Out, Prankster, and priority moves against my Pokémon. Indeedee also felt better in most matchups I would have brought Amoonguss in, since it can redirect Grass types and Pokémon holding Safety Goggles.

Attack combinations like Helping Hand + Water Spout or Expanding Force + Water Spout were hard for Trick Room teams to deal with, as they often had to sacrifice a Pokémon and take heavy damage to set up. Unlike Amoonguss, Indeedee didn’t have to worry about getting one-shot by common attacks —especially in the Trick Room matchup— except maybe item-boosted Palkia’s Max Geyser in the Rain. Even in that case, however, Life Orb Kyogre could sweep Palkia’s allies, allowing me to isolate it in the endgame. Indeedee’s survivability was also useful against Tailwind teams, as I could prevent my Kyogre from being knocked out while largely ignoring the Tailwind user that can’t do much to me, focusing on picking up knockouts in the other slot.

The moveset is pretty standard, but these moves are all necessary. Follow Me and Helping Hand enabled my offense through either protection or enabling aggression. Expanding Force gets great chip damage, especially in the Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia matchup, where it can pair with Life Orb Water Spout to knock out most non-Dynamaxed Pokémon while doing around 50 percent to Palkia. While I considered Mystical Fire, Heal Pulse, or even Reflect or Light Screen in this slot, Expanding Force provided solid chip damage.

The EV spread has the same rolls from Zacian’s Behemoth Blade as 252 HP and 252 Defense would have, so I moved the spare EVs into Speed to make my Indeedee faster than my Rillaboom. This let me have Grassy Terrain on the field if I had to send them both in at the same time.

Offensive calcs

amoonguss 4 SpA Indeedee-F Expanding Force (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 100+ SpD Amoonguss in Psychic Terrain: 122-146 (55.2 – 66%) — guaranteed 2HKO
palkia 4 SpA Indeedee-F Expanding Force (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Palkia in Psychic Terrain: 54-64 (27.4 – 32.4%) — guaranteed 4HKO

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned +1 252+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 244 HP / 244+ Def Indeedee-F: 162-192 (92 – 109%) — 50% chance to OHKO

zacian-crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 244 HP / 244+ Def Indeedee-F: 148-175 (84 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

kyogre 252+ SpA Kyogre Max Geyser vs. +1 244 HP / 4 SpD Psychic Seed Indeedee-F in Rain: 150-177 (85.2 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
palkia 252+ SpA Palkia Max Geyser vs. +1 244 HP / 4 SpD Psychic Seed Indeedee-F in Rain: 141-166 (80.1 – 94.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
calyrex-ice-rider 252+ Atk Calyrex-Ice Max Hailstorm vs. 244 HP / 244+ Def Indeedee-F: 148-175 (84 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

 

Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 12 Atk / 156 Def / 92 SpD / 4 Spe
Impish Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
– Fake Out
– U-turn

Assault Vest Incineroar was a set I really liked when I used Agati’s team in the GEM Cup, and I felt that it was the best choice for Incineroar on a Zacian + Kyogre team with Tailwind. No Parting Shot on Incineroar is hard to imagine on most teams, but U-turn plays into Tornogre’s offensive strategy that aims to overwhelm the opponent with damage. Even a little bit of chip from U-turn can make the difference in knocking out Pokemon that are EVed to survive Water Spout, Behemoth Blade, and Max Geyser. It also breaks important Focus Sashes on Pokémon like Whimsicott, Venusaur, Shadow Rider Calyrex, and Regieleki.

The Assault Vest itself lets Incineroar survive powerful hits like Life Orb Regieleki’s Max Lightning and Lunala’s Meteor Beam. It provides resilience against common Pokémon that Zacian + Kyogre teams don’t like dealing with, such as Charizard, Venusaur, Shadow Rider Calyrex, Lunala, Regieleki, Yveltal, Zapdos, and more. It also frees up EVs for Defense to tank Groudon’s Precipice Blades or Sacred Sword from +1 Zacian. Under Dynamax, this Incineroar set could tank up attacks like Helping Hand-boosted Max Quake from Shadow Rider Calyrex after an Astral Barrage chip, or Max Rockfall from Lunala.

The EV spread hits a Defense jump point while surviving many common attacks, like Zacian’s aforementioned Sacred Sword and Ice Rider Calyrex’s Max Quake. I didn’t invest in Speed EVs because Incineroar wouldn’t hit any important numbers to take advantage of Tailwind, Max Airstream, or Icy Wind. Lacking Throat Chop and Parting Shot meant I didn’t have to worry about outspeeding opposing Incineroar, either. In fact, being slower let me react with U-turn after my opponent’s Parting Shot while absorbing the stat drops for my more important switch-in. 12 Attack EVs made for a big jump in damage against Lunala even against Intimidate, and 244 HP EVs rather than 252 only negligibly hurt my defensive calcs. It also came with the bonus of an odd HP stat, which was favorable against Super Fang or Nature’s Madness, such as on Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia teams paired with Tapu Fini.

The moveset is standard for Assault Vest Incineroar, but I did consider Lash Out or Assurance over Darkest Lariat. However, Darkest Lariat does solid damage and ignores Defense boosts from Dialga, Solgaleo, and Lunala, giving it the edge.

Offensive calcs

lunala -1 12 Atk Incineroar Darkest Lariat vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Lunala: 168-196 (78.8 – 92%) — guaranteed 2HKO
zacian-crowned 12 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 138-164 (69.3 – 82.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
rillaboom 12 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Rillaboom: 168-200 (81.5 – 97%) — guaranteed 2HKO

regieleki 12 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Regieleki: 133-157 (85.2 – 100.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
solgaleo 12 Atk Incineroar Darkest Lariat vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Solgaleo: 104-126 (48.8 – 59.1%) — 65.6% chance to 2HKO

Defensive calcs

groudon -1 252+ Atk Groudon Max Quake vs. 244 HP / 156+ Def Incineroar: 164-194 (81.1 – 96%) — guaranteed 2HKO
calyrex-ice-rider (Neutral) 252+ Atk Calyrex-Ice Max Quake vs. 244 HP / 156+ Def Incineroar: 164-194 (81.5 – 96.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
zacian-crowned +1 252+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 156+ Def Incineroar: 174-206 (86.5 – 102.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO

lunala +1 252+ SpA Lunala Meteor Beam vs. 244 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 154-182 (76.6 – 90.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

regieleki 252 SpA Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 244 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar in Electric Terrain: 165-196 (82 – 97.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
charizard-gmax 252 SpA Life Orb Solar Power Charizard-Gmax Max Airstream vs. 244 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar in Sun: 136-161 (67.6 – 80%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Rillaboom-Gmax @ Choice Band
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 220 Atk / 4 Def / 36 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Wood Hammer
– Grassy Glide
– U-turn
– High Horsepower

Choice Band Rillaboom was my MVP throughout the event. On other Rillaboom sets, including Miracle Seed, Grassy Glide failed to pick up knockouts that I needed. This made me consider two alternative Rillaboom sets: White Herb with Swords Dance and Acrobatics, or Choice Band.

The White Herb set could put on pressure against opposing Grass types, such as Venusaur, while giving me an additional Max Airstream option. In practice, it turned out to be difficult to find positions where I could set up Swords Dance, and I’d mostly just click Grassy Glide anyway. By contrast, Choice Band Rillaboom is able to do so much damage without the need for setup, enabling Rillaboom’s role as an endgame cleaner, which is where I found it was most effective (just like the Kartana I used in 2019). With this in mind, Choice Band was the clear choice.

Choice Band-boosted Grassy Glide changes the game, allowing me to threaten a knockout onto Kyogre through Intimidate and score previously unattainable knockouts on certain double-ups. High Horsepower provides coverage for Zacian, Regieleki, and Incineroar, and can reap the power of Max Quake under Dynamax. Wood Hammer can OHKO Kyogre through Dynamax, as well as take out Palkia, Groudon, and many other Pokémon who do not resist Grass. The last move was a toss-up between Acrobatics for Max Airstream, Fake Out (even with Choice Band), Drum Beating for speed control, Knock Off, or U-turn. I chose U-turn as I could see myself clicking it a lot more than the other moves for repositioning and chip damage.

The EV spread was that of a simple, bulky, hard-hitting Rillaboom. I considered investing a bit more Speed so I could outspeed Zacian and Shadow Rider Calyrex under Tailwind, but ended up opting for a slower set that undersped my Indeedee to get Grassy Terrain when both are sent in. This happened a few times during practice, and the option of Helping Hand + Grassy Glide was really solid. I invested a lot of bulk to take Zacian’s Behemoth Blades and Astral Barrages from +1 Calyrex, which I felt was needed in the Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex matchup.

Overall, the set was fantastic and claimed many Zacian, Kyogre and Ice Rider Calyrex knockouts at Worlds.

Offensive calcs

zacian-crowned 220+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom-Gmax High Horsepower vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 150-178 (75.3 – 89.4%)
palkia 220+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom-Gmax Wood Hammer vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Palkia in Grassy Terrain: 207-244 (105 – 123.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
kyogre

220+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom-Gmax Grassy Glide vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 266-314 (151.1 – 178.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
220+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom-Gmax Wood Hammer vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Dynamax Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 452-534 (109.1 – 128.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
groudon 220+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom-Gmax Grassy Glide vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Groudon in Grassy Terrain: 182-216 (87.9 – 104.3%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

kyogre 252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Max Geyser vs. 244 HP / 36 SpD Rillaboom-Gmax in Rain: 178-210 (86.4 – 101.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
calyrex-shadow-rider +1 252 SpA Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 244 HP / 36 SpD Rillaboom-Gmax: 172-204 (83.4 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
zacian-crowned +1 148+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Rillaboom-Gmax: 174-205 (84.4 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Game plans

LeadComments
kyogre  +  indeedee-female
This was my most common lead with this team. It is very solid against many teams, especially speed-control-oriented teams (Trick Room, opposing Tailwind). Indeedee redirects damage from Kyogre, letting it easily pick up early knockouts or applies pressure against slower teams with Helping Hand. This setup lets the Pokémon in the back clean up afterward, but I can also extend my offense by sending in Tornadus and setting up Tailwind to continue dealing unexpected heavy damage with Kyogre in the midgame.
rillaboom  +  incineroar
This was my second most common lead in practice, and it works really well against teams that are weak to Rillaboom. Having U-turn users lets me easily pivot out of a bad spot and get my heavy hitters in.
tornadus  +  kyogre
I don’t use this lead often unless it is safe or a good mixup in game 2 or 3. Sometimes, players tunnel-vision on the pressure of Indeedee and Kyogre, pressuring them to lead two strong damage dealers to break through Indeedee as quickly as possible. This counters that adjustment, giving me immediate pressure against leads with a lack of speed control so that Kyogre can have some fun dealing massive damage. This lead is also solid into Charizard + Venusaur Sun teams, since I can threaten all of the members immediately while maintaining a speed advantage.
tornadus  +  incineroar
This was one of my favorite leads all the way back in 2019, and if I’m not facing Grimmsnarl, Trick Room, or Tailwind, I still find it very safe. I’m able to pivot Kyogre safely with U-turn, or even a hard switch if I anticipate a double Protect. I can also always get the Tailwind advantage.
tornadus  +  rillaboom/zacian-crowned
This is a rare lead, but it utilizes a similar idea to standard Zacian + Kyogre + Tornadus teams where you set up Tailwind and gradually weaken your opponent with strong hits to enable Kyogre and a backup in the endgame. It is significantly weaker on this team as Tornadus is my only Max Airstream user, but it is still an option worth considering against teams where Kyogre isn’t a safe lead and the opponent’s only form of speed control is Max Airstream. Sometimes, my opponent will take out Tornadus quickly so I won’t have speed control options later, but Kyogre can just come in and provide pressure for Substitute setup from Zacian while they try to stall out Tailwind and avoid heavy damage.
kyogre  +  incineroar/
rillaboom
A reliable option that takes advantage of Kyogre’s fantastic pressure next to Fake Out and Intimidate support. Rillaboom can also replace Incineroar if the opponent has a Gastrodon, since Grassy Glide + Kyogre’s Water Spout or Max Geyser can threaten heavy damage into almost anything. In either case, Kyogre’s partner has U-turn if I need to pivot into something else.
zacian-crowned  +  kyogre
If I don’t have to worry about faster threats or Tailwind, leading the team’s two heaviest hitters can provide extremely powerful damage output. I can also threaten a free Substitute as this combination encourages the opponent to play passively.
zacian-crowned  +  incineroar/
rillaboom
A staple Series 12 lead, and for good reason. While I can’t cycle Fake Out with my sets, being able to play around Intimidating by switching out Zacian and using U-turn is always strong. If the opponent lacks Intimidate, Zacian and Choice Band Rillaboom can rip through teams by scoring unexpected knockouts by doubling up against bulky Zacian, Dynamax Pokémon like Thundurus, and more.
indeedee-female  +  rillaboom
A very niche lead that is powerful under the right conditions. Helping Hand + Grassy Glide can threaten a lot of damage and pick up surprising knockouts. If my opponent tries to play passively with the predictable Incineroar switch that this lead often baits, I can U-turn out to bring in Kyogre under both Indeedee support and Grassy Terrain’s healing.

Tournament run

After finishing 7th in the 2022 NA Championship Point leaderboards, I was granted an automatic Day 2 invite so I didn’t have to play in Day 1. I arrived in London the Friday a week before Worlds, and was able to explore the city and surrounding area. I had an incredible time in London, letting me relax before shifting into tournament-focus mode when Worlds began.

Day 2

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R1LWWECU
Paul Ruiz
(Ralfdude)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarkartanawhimsicottzapdos
Match summary

Nothing like playing a previous World Champion in the first round and it definitely made me feel an adrenaline rush. This did not look like a great matchup for me. Kartana and Zapdos were massive threats to my team that I had to respect, forcing me to commit harder in team preview.

 

Game 1 didn’t go as smoothly as I would’ve liked. I was able to clear a lead of Kyogre + Whimsicott utilizing my own Kyogre, but it took too much damage and I lost Indeedee too early. Life Orb Zapdos next to Zacian ended up being too problematic, as I wasn’t expecting the double up from Max Airstream and neutral Sacred Sword to knock out my Assault Vest Incineroar. Rillaboom in the back was helpless, so I forfeited to not reveal that I was Choice Band.

 

Game 2 was very close, but thankfully I had brought Zacian this time to help put on more offensive pressure. I eliminated Zapdos and isolated Paul’s weakened Zacian against my own Zacian and Incineroar.

 

Game 3 was another nail biter, as a similar situation occurred, but this time my Incineroar and Zacian were heavily damaged while Paul’s Zacian was healthy. I was fortunate to get a critical hit Flare Blitz on Paul’s Zacian while he targeted my Zacian’s Protect. Without the critical hit, Incineroar would have fainted to recoil without scoring the knockout, and I would’ve had to survive his -1 Behemoth Blade with my low 30-35%-ish Zacian —a damage roll that was very likely to be in his favor.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R2WWUSA
Jeremy Rodrigues
(Serapis)
calyrex-ice-riderpalkiaincineroaramoongussgrimmsnarltapu-fini
Match summary

It’s never fun to play a good friend of mine early in the tournament. I even had all the information on his team, since he had shared it with me the night before to review. Life Orb Palkia was potentially scary, but the White Herb on Ice Rider Calyrex most likely wouldn’t come into play.

 

Game 1 could’ve gone either way. I was able to get heavy damage onto his team with my Kyogre + Indeedee lead, but his Palkia set up Trick Room. I got into a position where, as long as Kyogre didn’t take three turns of sleep from Spore, I would always be able to deny a second Trick Room from going up with a Max Hailstorm into Amoonguss, being able to one-shot or two-shot it depending on if it had been boosted by Max Quake. Lo and behold, my Kyogre stays asleep for 3 turns and Jeremy is able to set up another Trick Room with his Calyrex. Despite this, my Zacian was able to get up a free Substitute when Jeremy set up Trick Room, and I was even able to unexpectedly knock out Amoonguss with two Ice Beams. Jeremy could no longer redirect Behemoth Blade, and I finished off the Calyrex.

 

Game 2 went a lot more smoothly as I made an adjustment leading Zacian + Kyogre into his Grimmsnarl + Palkia. I was able to eliminate the Grimmsnarl with Water Spout as he set up Light Screen, and Zacian got a free Substitute while Palkia Dynamaxed and went for Max Wyrmwind into my Kyogre, leaving it with 40 HP. I still Dynamaxed my low-health Kyogre because I knew I would be able to win if I put his Restricteds into Grassy Glide range. I was able to weaken his Calyrex with Max Geyser and his Palkia with Behemoth Blade as he set Trick Room up. As I had planned, Jeremy lost to late-game Rillaboom. The Amoonguss in the back wasn’t able to heal his Restricteds or redirect my Choice Band-boosted Grassy Glides, and I finished off the Palkia and Calyrex after chipping them to below half HP.

 

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R3WLLITA
Roberto Parente
(Roberto)
calyrex-shadow-riderkyogrelandorus-therianindeedee-femalewhimsicottregieleki
Match summary

Roberto was running a very popular hyper-offense six that has been used throughout the season. The combination of Rillaboom and Incineroar seemed it could put in a lot of work but I had to be cautious of Calyrex.

 

In Game 1, I was able to correctly predict an Indeedee swap + Kyogre Water Spout. I swapped out my Incineroar into Kyogre to tank the attack, and Choice Band Rillaboom was still able to knock out the Kyogre without Grassy Terrain. I won the game by Dynamaxing my Incineroar against his Dynamax Calyrex. Helping Hand + Max Quake did not do nearly enough to finish off my Incineroar, which OHKOed his Calyrex.

 

Game 2 came down to my slightly chipped Incineroar surviving two spread +1 Choice Specs Calyrex’s Astral Barrages. Based on the damage from the first one, it seemed like I would live the second one with a few hit points to spare. Unfortunately, the second one actually ended up knocking out my Incineroar. My Rillaboom had to crit Grassy Glide for me to win, which did not happen. The Calyrex was able to reverse-sweep me in the 1v3.

 

In Game 3, I led Kyogre + Rillaboom into his Regieleki + Kyogre. I expected an Indeedee swap and Max Hailstorm, so I swapped Rillaboom to Incineroar, Dynamaxed my Kyogre, and went for Max Geyser into the Regieleki slot. Unfortunately, this was the wrong call. Roberto ended up clicking -1 Max Lightning + Water Spout into my Kyogre. To make matters worse, he crit his Water Spout on my Kyogre, leaving me low enough for Life Orb recoil to knock me out after attacking. Without that crit, there might’ve been a chance if I got lucky with Rillaboom, but being forced to bring out Rillaboom and Indeedee at the same time meant that there was no chance of me winning this set.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R4WLWTHA
Jirawiwat Thitasiri
(Ji)
zacian-crownedgroudonincineroargastrodongrimmsnarlcharizard
Match summary

My first encounter with Rinya Sun at Worlds. I knew that finding out what set the Grimmsnarl and Charizard were running was crucial.

 

Game 1, I got some important information when Jirawiwat immediately switched into Groudon while Zacian went for Solar Blade into my Kyogre’s Protect turn 1. I was able to put on a lot of pressure with Max Hailstorm and Max Lightning with my Kyogre, playing around the Gastrodon that came in. The endgame could’ve been scary as he Gigantamaxed his Life Orb Charizard, but my Kyogre was able to eliminate it with an Electric Terrain-boosted Thunder.

 

Game 2, my Kyogre got an Iron Ball tricked onto it by Grimmsnarl, which made it harder for me to get the knockouts I needed while taking heavy damage from the Charizard in the Sun.

 

Game 3, I was able to brute-force through Grimmsnarl and Charizard with a Zacian + Kyogre lead. Being up 4v2, I was able to safely handle the Restricteds in the back to close out the set.

 

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R5WWITA
Federico Camporesi
(FedeCampoVGC)
zacian-crownedlunalaincineroarrillaboomgastrodon-eastthundurus
Match summary

I had information from my good friend Ashton Cox, who had played Federico in an earlier round. It was very similar to a standard Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex team, but with Air Slash Lunala over Calyrex. I felt that this was fine for my matchup.

 

Game 1, I was caught off guard as he immediately went for the Gigantamax with Rillaboom and did 40% to my Kyogre through Protect while I swapped my Tornadus into Incineroar. Turn 2, I made a really aggressive read, predicting him to double into my Incineroar slot with Max Quake and Sacred Sword. I swapped Incineroar into Tornadus and went for the Max Geyser into Zacian. I got the turn right and was able to eliminate the Zacian in exchange for very little damage taken. Kyogre and Tornadus did a bit more damage until my Incineroar and Rillaboom were able to comfortably clean up Lunala, Gastrodon and the Rillaboom.

 

Game 2, he led Rillaboom + Lunala against my Zacian + Rillaboom. Turn 1, I swap my Rillaboom for Incineroar + Protected Zacian. He went for Fake Out into Zacian while Dynamaxing the Lunala for a Max Airstream into the Incineroar slot that did trivial damage. Next turn, I Dynamaxed Incineroar and went for the double-up into Lunala with Behemoth Blade + Max Darkness. While he tried to eliminate it, Incineroar was able to comfortably tank the High Horsepower + Max Rockfall and KO Lunala, freeing up the game for my Zacian to take the win.

 

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R6LWWITA
Leonardo Bonanomi
(Leo)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarrillaboomwhimsicottthundurus
Match summary

Leonardo was one of the strongest players during the Players Cup era, so I was looking forward to this match. I felt very comfortable against the generic Zacian + Kyogre + Whimsicott matchup.

 

This was a straightforward set. Leonardo decided to bring Kyogre, Zacian, Incineroar and Rillaboom to all three games. I brought Indeedee in the first game, which didn’t like dealing with Life Orb Kyogre —plus, Leonardo kept making smart switches which gave him the upper hand.

 

In games 2 and 3, I brought the same 4 as Leonardo, but the difference Choice Band Rillaboom made was enormous. It was able to knock out the Zacian at 80% HP with High Horsepower, while putting on immense pressure against the Kyogre. Incineroar helped suppress every attacker besides the Kyogre with Intimidate, while my Kyogre and Zacian were able to put things into Rillaboom range.

 

With this win, I had secured Day 3 (top cut), but I wasn’t done yet. I wanted the bye into Top 16, which I’d need to win one more round to obtain.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R7WLWUSA
Nils Dunlop
(Peakmeister)
yveltalkyogreincineroarrillaboomamoongussregieleki
Match summary

I’ve only played Nils once —at a prior NAIC, where I lost— so I was glad to run it back. I did not expect to see Yveltal + Kyogre, but I felt that it would be a good matchup if I kept Regieleki and Yveltal in check.

 

In Game 1, I led Incineroar + Rillaboom into Yveltal + Incineroar. I spent a lot of the game trying to reposition, and Nils took advantage of my passivity by doing a lot of damage to my team with Yveltal. Nils was able to Dynamax Regieleki early, but thankfully the combination of Rillaboom’s Grassy Glide + U-turn from Incineroar eliminated it before it got to my Kyogre. Despite my best efforts, I ended up down 1v3 with my Kyogre vs. his own Kyogre, Yveltal and Incineroar. However, I had saved my Dynamax until the last moment, and full-health Kyogre heroically one-shotted all of his Pokémon while he couldn’t break through it.

 

In Game 2, he made an adjustment with an Amoonguss + Yveltal lead. I ended up finding out that his Amoonguss was frail and fast, as it landed a Spore into my Incineroar before it could move. My Incineroar took three turns of sleep, and I was unable to get a U-turn to prepare for his Kyogre coming in freely. At this point, I was in dire straits with his Kyogre and Yveltal under Tailwind, so I forfeited early.

 

In Game 3, I decided to mix things up with a Kyogre + Tornadus lead into his Incineroar + Yveltal. Turn 1, I was pretty confident he would Tailwind with Yveltal and not Fake Out my Kyogre, since I had the option to Dynamax. I clicked Water Spout + Tailwind, and Nils did exactly what I expected as Kyogre claimed two knockouts. His Kyogre and Regieleki in the back were still a threatening duo, but I read his Kyogre not Protect against my Rillaboom and was able to isolate Regieleki for the win.

 

I was really happy to finish 6-1 in Swiss, but then my mood turned sour when I found out I was the only player who went 6-1 that still had to play in Top 32. If anyone came up to me Saturday morning, I apologize for not being in a good mood. I feared that this matchup could’ve been demonic if the sets were the worst case for me.

Day 3

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Top 32WWJPN
Motoki Agano
(ぬけたろう)
calyrex-ice-riderpalkiaincineroaramoongussgothitelletapu-fini
Match summary

On the bright side, I felt pretty good about my opponent not knowing what I was running ⁠—I hadn’t played any good players from Japan yet, and I avoided being on the main stream or any side TVs. Meanwhile, this player had eliminated both Ashton and Jeremy, so I knew a few things about his team. He had a variety of unusual sets including Room Service Draco Meteor Palkia with Flamethrower, Weakness Policy Calyrex with Seed Bomb, Assault Vest U-turn Incineroar, Misty Seed Soak Tapu Fini with Shadow Ball, and Hex Amoonguss. Despite all of this, what made me the most nervous was the Gothitelle. I didn’t know where the Focus Sash on his team was, and the worst case possible would be Focus Sash Hypnosis Gothitelle. This would force me to roll the dice with my generally safe Kyogre + Indeedee lead.

 

Game 1, I led with Indeedee + Kyogre into his Palkia + Incineroar. I was able to knock out the Incineroar and do 45% to his Palkia as he got Trick Room up and brought out Calyrex. Turn 2, I used Follow Me and Dynamaxed my Kyogre to deny a self-proc Weakness Policy. Calyrex Dynamaxed and the combination of Flamethrower in the Rain + Max Hailstorm left my Indeedee at 2 HP. Motoki never got a chance to activate his own Weakness Policy, thereby failing to knock out my Kyogre with Max Overgrowth. I weakened Calyrex with multiple Max Geysers and put it in Grassy Glide range. With Amoonguss as his last Pokémon, Motoki couldn’t stop Grassy Glide, and I scored the KO without revealing my Choice Band.

 

The same Turn 1 from Game 1 repeated itself in Game 2. Since I was up a game, I decided to make a hard read Turn 2. Expecting Motoki to double the Indeedee slot with Hydro Pump or Draco Meteor + Max Hailstorm this time for the knockout, I went for Protect with Indeedee. My suspicion was correct, and Kyogre got a free Max Geyser into the Calyrex. My Rillaboom was able to clean up Calyrex and Palkia under half health with Choice Band-boosted Grassy Glide, sealing a 2-0 victory to advance into Top 16.

 

This win relieved me, especially after being stressed out over the Gothitelle he didn’t even bring. I found out after Worlds was over that the Gothitelle wasn’t Focus Sash ⁠—the Amoonguss had it instead⁠—, which made a lot of sense as to why he decided to leave it on the bench.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Top 16WWITA
Daniele Spuntarelli
(Zenzero)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarshedinjaporygon2moltres-galar
Match summary

This was Daniele’s first World Championship, and he had made a crazy run so far, which meant I needed to play at my best ⁠—especially when he had Shedinja. I also enjoyed the fun conversation we had both before and after the set. I knew some details of the team, as I knew that Daniele and Flavio Del Pidio were using the same team from Milan. The combination of Kyogre and Shedinja is an annoying matchup for my team. I usually have to preserve my Incineroar or go for less reliable options, such as getting Hail up via Max Hailstorm with Kyogre, going for G-Max Drum Solo, or stalling Shedinja in a 1v1 with my Indeedee (which I didn’t want to bring in this matchup). I knew that, as long as I didn’t fall prey to making mistakes against Shedinja, Kyogre and Zacian could do a lot of damage to the remaining Pokémon.

 

In Game 1, we both led Zacian + Kyogre. I read the Shedinja switch from his Zacian correctly and was able to stall his Kyogre’s Dynamax with Substitute and Protect on my Zacian. I correctly made an important read on the last turn of Dynamax where I was able to go for Max Hailstorm with my Kyogre to set up Hail as he went for Max Lightning, and Shedinja fell to the Hail. From there, I was able to clean up the endgame with Incineroar and Choice Band Rillaboom.

 

Game 2 came down to the wire. Daniele kept switching his Shedinja in and out while we kept chipping away at each other’s team. I was finally able to swing the momentum into my favor when I read an aggressive attack into my Rillaboom. Surviving with the help of a clutch Intimidate from Incineroar, I knocked out his Zacian from around 80% with High Horsepower. I was able to isolate Shedinja against 3 of my Pokémon, but only my weakened Incineroar at about 40 HP could hit it. Kyogre and Rillaboom were on the field, and it was the last turn of Grassy Terrain. I knew I needed to get back some HP on Incineroar, and Rillaboom was in KO range, so I wouldn’t be able to reset the terrain later ⁠—Incineroar would have to come in on that turn. I switched Kyogre into Incineroar while Shedinja took the knock out onto Rillaboom. I got the little bit of healing, and now 52 HP Incineroar needed to tank two Poltergeists (unless I got a burn from the first Flare Blitz) to finish the job. Thankfully, Incineroar hung on with 2 HP, finishing off the Shedinja, and I found myself back in Top 8 once again.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Top 8WLWAUS
Meaghan Rattle
(Yosuke)
zacian-crownedkyogrelandorus-theriancelesteelagrimmsnarlthundurus
Match summary

What are the odds that I have to play against Meaghan in Top 8 for the second World Championship in a row? I knew that this would be a difficult challenge, as Meaghan was a strong player who was looking for the runback. The team she was using seemed to be similar to Si Dawei’s 9th place NAIC team, but I expected a few small changes from the public paste available. I knew that my Kyogre could be really strong in this matchup, but only if I was able to pick up quick knockouts with my Dynamax. If I couldn’t, things could quickly snowball out of my control.

 

Game 1, she led Grimmsnarl + Kyogre into my Kyogre + Indeedee. I did my research before the set —I calculated the damage of Max Geyser from my Kyogre against Dawei’s Grimmsnarl through Light Screen, and learned it would almost always one-shot it if it had the same EV spread. I went for it, but she had increased its Special Defense investment and it survived with a bit of HP. From this point, the match seemed like it would snowball in her favor. I knew I wouldn’t be able to pressure the Zacian and Thundurus duo in the back with my Kyogre, especially under Grimmsnarl’s screens. Thankfully, I got bailed out when my Zacian not only hung on from the +2 Behemoth Blade, but even got a critical hit to knock out the Thundurus and lock up the game in my favor.

 

Game 2 opened with identical leads to game 1. I went for Helping Hand + Water Spout to knock out the Grimmsnarl, but Meaghan annihilated my Kyogre in exchange with a critical hit Thunder. Zacian managed to dodge the Origin Pulse, and I had two opportunities to win the game, but I misplayed heavily. On one turn, I had the opportunity to double into the Kyogre for a clean knockout, but foolishly didn’t. Next turn, I forgot that the Zacian on Dawei’s team had Quick Attack, and let my Zacian fall victim to it even after surviving a Max Geyser from Meaghan’s Kyogre.

 

Game 3, I made the same turn 1 play as I did in game 2. Looking back on it, this was greedy and foolish. Meaghan responded with an excellent move, setting up Reflect while Dynamaxing her Kyogre and going for Max Lightning for huge damage onto my own Kyogre. With Celesteela in the back, it was looking bleak, but I knew I still had outs as long as my Zacian could remain behind a Substitute. Substitute could deny Celesteela’s Leech Seed, and the set used Flamethrower as its only attacking move. Indeed, I was able to keep my Zacian behind the Substitute and draw away Meaghan’s attacks from my Gigantamax Rillaboom. Rillaboom was able to beat the Zacian with Max Quakes and Kyogre with Grassy Glide on the last turn of Grassy Terrain. With the offensive threats dealt with, Zacian and my weakened Rillaboom were able to break through the Celesteela and I was moving on to Top 4 once again.

You can watch my match against Meaghan below, starting at 4:57:06!

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Top 4WLLESP
Guillermo Castilla
(KastyTP)
lunalagroudonincineroarcharizardgrimmsnarlregieleki
Match summary

This matchup was definitely tough. Regieleki and Groudon are threatening on their own, but a Charizard mixup can complicate things further. While I didn’t have to worry about Trick Room, the Hypnosis Lunala was faster than my Kyogre. The good news was that Rillaboom is really strong in this matchup if it’s piloted around the Fire types, especially with no Heat Crash on the Groudon.

Turn 1 of game 1 was pretty rough. I ended up getting double crit, and now my Kyogre tanking the Max Quake from Groudon was questionable, so I couldn’t safely bring in Rillaboom and attack. I had to pivot around instead, which cost me a lot of momentum. At this point, I knew I was probably going to have to get lucky by either critting the Groudon or dodging Precipice Blades at some point. As fate would have it, I was able to dodge one Precipice Blades and somehow snagged the victory.

Game 2 started strong. I stalled out one of Groudon’s Dynamax turns without taking too much damage and conserving my Dynamax, but over the course of the game, I didn’t apply enough pressure with it. Plus, I failed to handle Lunala well, which resulted in a loss.

Game 3, I made an adjustment by leading Kyogre + Rillaboom. I heavily debated an Indeedee + Rillaboom lead to call out a repeat Regieleki + Groudon lead, but this would be too weak to a Charizard adjustment, so I preferred more of a middle-ground option. Three potential scenarios encompassed turn one:

    • Two more likely scenarios:
      • Groudon switches to Incineroar while Regieleki Dynamaxes.
      • Groudon Protects while Regieleki Dynamaxes.
    • And one less likely scenario: 
      • Groudon switches to Incineroar while Regieleki protects.

Knowing that Guillermo could realistically opt for any of these, I went for another middle-ground play by Protecting my Kyogre and using High Horsepower with Rillaboom in the Regieleki slot. I already had the following turn planned for each scenario with the first two being straightforward while the third one having a high chance in my favor. Guillermo chose the third option. I knew that with Dynamax, my Kyogre could always survive Timid Regieleki’s Max Lightning, and still had favorable odds of surviving even if it was Modest. Meanwhile, his physically defensive Incineroar should always fall to Max Geyser, even in the sun. Banking on this was all I could do, as if I didn’t knock out Incineroar, Flare Blitz in the sun could easily eliminate my Rillaboom. Unfortunately, Regieleki manages to knock out my Kyogre, and my journey ends in Top 4 once again.

You can watch my match against Guillermo below, starting at 8:28:45!

Conclusion

When I first arrived in London, I didn’t think I would make it this far once again, as I didn’t believe I was very good at Dynamax formats. My initial hopes were to just have a good time in London and to finish with a positive record at the event. While it stings that I managed to come so close to the finals for the second time but not quite make it, I’m still very happy about this trip overall.

Congratulations to Eduardo Cunha (Edu) for winning the title! I only wish I could’ve faced you on the finals stage like we told each other we would. Huge thanks to anyone who was supporting my run —from family, to friends, to everyone else! Shoutouts to Edu, Emilio Forbes, Stephen Mea, Brady Smith, Mark McQuillan, Ashton Cox, Jeremy Rodrigues, Luka Trejgut, Kyle Livinghouse, Miguel, Gabriel Agati, the rest of Gaz, everyone else who made this trip incredible and a big thanks to Mike Spinetta-McCarthy (SirChicken) for helping me write this report.

If you would like to see more content from me, you can find it on my YouTube channel, Twitch channel, Twitter, and Instagram. I’m very excited to compete at the 2023 World Championships, as I’ll get to travel to Japan for the first time ever.

And who knows? Maybe the third time’s the charm (because I sure hope so…).

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