A Dream Worth Screaming for- A Worlds 1st Place Team Report

Hello! My name is James Evans, and I’m the 2018 Pokémon Senior World Champion. I started playing VGC in late 2016, but found out about it in 2014, when I went to spectate the 2014 World Championships. Since then it’s always been my dream to become the world champion, and it took several regional wins as well as an internats win to finally get me here. Before I enter my first year of masters, I wanted to write about what it took me to get here, and how. So sit back and grab some popcorn, because there’s a lot to talk about.

Before North American Internats, I felt comfy with piloting Gardevoir as my mega and team archetype. Mainly because I found it was a team I could play out of a lot of bad situations with despite iffy matchups. Using 2 different GardeLax teams to win both the Utah and Madison Regional Championships helped me notice the flaws in Gardevoir’s matchups. Eventually after a lot of testing, I added Porygon2 and Araquanid over Amoonguss and Snorlax, due to them struggling with Metagross, Charizard, and Gengar Teams. Porygon2 and Araquanid worked perfectly going into the Internats.

Top 4 NAIC Paste
Top 4 Set

After losing in the Top 4 of NAIC (to moody boosts rip) I felt really disappointed but happy in myself. From there I started to distance myself from my Gardevoir Teams, because I felt they weren’t a safe call for worlds. I remember a lot of the downtime between the two events as just me tilting, or hurting my mentality. It wasn’t a good time for me, and stress built up fast. Eventually I decided to run Charizard Y Tyranitar going into the tournament. I figured Tyranitar was a strong metapick, as it was capable to beating a lot of the common megas. Day 1 of the tournament I hang out with a bunch of my friends, as we have Day 2 Invites. I was also able to watch and support my friends going through Day 1 as well, and I eventually learned there was very little Gengar in Day 1. Eventually I notice a match on stream, which is David Koutesh VS Andrew Nowak. Koutesh’s Team was absolutely terrifying, and seeing him double 4-0 a Charizard player didn’t boost my confidence. I soon realized many players in Seniors knew Koutesh, and could be using his team, and my assumption was right. We go back to Joseph’s (@ModernGamer) hotel and I end up fighting my friends Oliver, Alfredo, and Hamish on a Showdown Account practicing with Koutesh Team. Needless to say I get 4-0’d and my confidence is shattered. My friends eventually convince me that my team isn’t the call, and I should run something else. With only the mentality of, “I’d rather go 1-3 drop with something I’m comfy with rather than something I’m not”, I end up making a team and locking my box.

And so here we are

Team’s Achievements

  • 1800+ on Showdown Ladder (Was 2nd at some point)
  • 1st Place MSS
  • Top 4 NAIC
  • 1st Place Worlds

The Team

Link to Paste
Link to QR

Incineroar @ Figy Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 20 Def / 148 SpD / 92 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– U-turn

If you’ve seen VGC 18 for a second then this Pokémon needs no Introduction. Incineroar is a staple pick among Gardevoir Teams and most Teams in general. This moveset is pretty standard, with Fake Out for general disruption and pressure, Flare Blitz for Steels, Knock Off for Snorlax and other berry users, and U-Turn for repositioning. The set changed from being offensive to more speed oriented, now reaching a speed stat of 92. This allows Incineroar to outspeed to rare but annoying Ultra-TurboLax, and most Incineroars. The bulk is standard Incineroar bulk. It lives Timid Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc, and gets 2hko’d by Metagross Stomping Tantrum.

  • -1 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Stomping Tantrum vs. 244 HP / 20 Def Incineroar: 86-102 (42.7 – 50.7%) — 1.2% chance to 2HKO after Figy Berry recovery
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 244 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar in Electric Terrain: 169-199 (84 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Figy Berry recovery

Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Dazzling Gleam
– Volt Switch
– Protect

Through thick and thin, Tapu Koko has always been my go-to Pokémon. You probably wouldn’t believe it if I told you all my VGC 2018 CP was with Tapu Koko, but it’s the truth. I love Tapu Koko’s offensive nature and ability to pressure so much. When it’s not blasting opponents with Gigavolt Havocs and Dazzling Gleams, it’s able to damage opponents with Volt Switch and reposition itself. This Koko was Modest, which ups the damage by a ton in return in exchange for being slower than Gengar. This never mattered at all, as every Timid Gengar was trained to be bulkier and thus didn’t invest too much in speed. Most Gengars reach for 180 to outspeed max speed Mega Metagross. Any Gengar designed to speed creep those Gengars would reach 181. A Modest Tapu Koko reaches a speed stat of 182, which allows you to still outspeed those Gengars. At worst you will speed tie with a Modest 252 Speed Gengar. The idea for Modest came from a conversation I had with Jonathan Evans (@Ezrael), where he said that if you can go for Modest, you should. 14 Points doesn’t seem like a little change, but it made a big difference.

  • 252+ SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 244 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar in Electric Terrain: 186-220 (92.5 – 109.4%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 36 HP / 116 SpD Mega Kangaskhan in Electric Terrain: 177-208 (95.6 – 112.4%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO

Gardevoir-Mega @ Gardevoirite
Ability: Trace
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 236 HP / 124 Def / 36 SpA / 60 SpD / 52 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hyper Voice
– Psyshock
– Trick Room
– Protect

Funny that I ended up bringing the Singing Pokémon to the Music City. All jokes aside Gardevoir was a fantastic Pokémon. I’ve used Gardevoir since April, and its power is unmatched by most Pokémon in the format. While it struggles against common Mega Pokémon like Charizard, Gengar and Metagross, Gardevoir’s Partners can cover for it’s weaknesses while Gardevoir can keep heavy damage with a Hyper Voice or Psyshock. This spread was a mixture of bulk and offense, with it able to 2hko standard Tapu Lele very often, but able to survive a Modest Gengar Sludge Bomb. The defense is for Gardevoir to survive a -1 Landorus Tectonic Rage, which did come into play during the tournament. Gardevoir also found itself using Trick Room a lot for its partners and itself when speed became an issue. Overall my favorite Mega Pokémon in VGC 18 and I’m really happy to get one last win with it.

  • 252+ SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 60 SpD Mega Gardevoir in Electric Terrain: 148-175 (85.5 – 101.1%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 36+ SpA Pixilate Mega Gardevoir Hyper Voice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Lele: 70-84 (47.9 – 57.5%) — 90.2% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Gengar Sludge Bomb vs. 236 HP / 60 SpD Mega Gardevoir: 126-150 (72.8 – 86.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 12 HP / 4 Def / 172 SpA / 84 SpD / 236 Spe
Modest Nature
– Earth Power
– Sludge Bomb
– Hidden Power [Ice] – Stone Edge

A Scarf Landorus is the Best Landorus. There’s not much to say about it from the outside, however this Landorus was one of the most useful members during the tournament. The moveset consisted of moves I felt were good for Landorus on this team. Earth Power and HP Ice are standards on Special Landorus, as it can use them to net fast knockouts on Pokémon like Metagross after chip, and opposing Landorus. Having a choice scarf also meant that it became an excellent Pokémon in threatening Gengar and Metagross; Pokémon the team aren’t fond of. I decided on Sludge Bomb originally to hit Tapu Bulu, but the more I played it I noticed how much damage Sludge Bomb could do to Tapu Lele and Tapu Fini, while still hitting most Pokémon for neutral. It’s not something you should always lock into, but if the situation calls it’s there. Stone Edge was for my less than amazing Charizard Matchup, as Koko isn’t always on the field, and it can Ohko Charizard even at -1. This Landorus was built with a lot of bulk compared to other Special Scarf Landoruses. This one is able to survive Modest Lele Psychic, and Modest Landorus HP Ice. I figured that Landorus didn’t need to reach 252 Speed, as it could outlive other Landorus and hit back harder. The Speed Investment still outspeeds Mega Manectric as well.

  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 12 HP / 84 SpD Landorus-T in Psychic Terrain: 138-163 (83.1 – 98.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Landorus-T Hidden Power Ice vs. 12 HP / 84 SpD Landorus-T: 140-168 (84.3 – 101.2%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 116 Def / 4 SpA / 140 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Shadow Ball
– Recover
– Trick Room

One of my favorite Pokémon in VGC. Porygon2’s job was pretty simple during the team’s conception; be a safer Trick Room setter than Gardevoir. As I used it more, it turned out to fulfill a number of roles that the team needed. For one, it was the bulkiest member of the team by far. Ever since Amoonguss was taken off the team needed some sponge for damage, and Porygon2 is bulky enough to take almost every common Z Move. While Ice Beam is a standard Porygon2 move, I went with Shadow Ball for the 2nd Move. With Shadow Ball, you can 2hko Metagross and Gengar with the Download Boost. I did miss having Thunderbolt, as it means your Trick Room mode struggles with Tapu Fini. Having 2 Trick Room setters allowed for more flexibility in the team, as it meant more wiggle room to attack or set up a Trick Room.

  • +1 4 SpA Porygon2 Shadow Ball vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Metagross: 102-122 (54.5 – 65.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 4 SpA Porygon2 Shadow Ball vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Gengar: 80-96 (59.2 – 71.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Araquanid-Totem @ Waterium Z
Ability: Water Bubble
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 148 Atk / 68 Def / 36 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Liquidation
– Bug Bite
– Substitute
– Protect

To save you the details of this Araquanid defensive wise, here’s a link to a Damage Calc Sheet I made in Mid-July.

Yeah. Really bulky.

Araquanid was a Pokémon that fixed a lot of Matchups in theory, however it was probably the least brought Pokémon throughout both my Nats and Worlds run. Regardless it was still a fantastic Pokémon. When changing the spread from Internats, I wanted Araquanid’s Damage to makeup for the fact I took some out of it for Bulk. It originally was Wide Guard and Pinch Berry, however I changed it to Water Z, and gave it Substitute to conserve itself now without a berry to do so. It was decently fast for an Araquanid as I wanted to outspeed any fast Snorlaxes. Bug Bite was for taking Berries, which was useful, especially once you get behind a Substitute. I chose Totem as well as it allowed Araquanid to not be affected by Sky Drop, as well as being a “big boy”.

  • 148+ Atk Water Bubble Araquanid Hydro Vortex (160 BP) vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Metagross: 144-169 (92.9 – 109%) — 50% chance to OHKO
  • 148+ Atk Water Bubble Araquanid Hydro Vortex (160 BP) vs. 36 HP / 4 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 178-210 (96.2 – 113.5%) — 75% chance to OHKO

Team Play

This team can be played really offensively or really defensively depending on the situation. With Double Intimidate, the team can play out of a lot of situations, as well as pivot when needed. I found myself using U-Turn and Volt Switch very often to reposition and regain board positioning. Almost any Mon can lead on this team in my opinion. The only one that will probably never be a lead Mon is Araquanid. The two most led Pokémon on this team are Incineroar and Koko usually, as both can switch, and Incineroar provides a turn for Fake Out and Intimidate. You don’t to necessarily lead those two into every matchup, as the firepower on this team is very well spread.

Team Leads

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Like I said before, Koko and Incineroar make a really good lead on this team. The combination of Fake Out and Z-Move is always very nice, but since both were capable of switching out, it made it a very safe lead for most matches when I wanted to learn what my opponents game plan was. I usually brought Porygon2 with this lead as Porygon could switch in and soak any hits for the two. Gardevoir and Landorus were also very good in the back if the team just needed straight offensive power.

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Incineroar and Gardevoir is probably the lead you think of the most with this team. It’s good for the Mirror and other matchups where the opponent can’t KO Gardevoir with their mons. With Fake Out pressure, Gardevoir can do a multitude of things, like Trick Room or switch out. Usually Koko was brought in the back, as it’s Z Move and terrain could help keep Gardevoir safe. The other 3 all had justifiable reasons to be brought as well, as each did something important for a matchup.

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Tapu Koko and Porygon2 made a very safe lead for Trick Room, especially when it was the best wincon. Porygon2’s bulk and Ice Beam help keep Koko safe against Mons like Landorus, and Koko can Volt Switch out into Pokémon that can work more flexible in the Trick Room. Just like every other lead with this team, every mon works very well, and each has their own justifications for coming to a Matchup.

Team Match-ups

Common Metagross

Metagross is probably one of the team’s best matchups, as it carries a lot of Metagross hate in general. One of the key things is learning what items Landorus and Tapu Fini carry, as both can wield equally dangerous Z Moves or more defensive options like AV and Berry. Against combinations like this, it’s best to preserve your Mons, specifically Porygon2. With Shadow Ball and Ice Beam threatening half the team, and a +1 SpA boost from Download, Porygon2 becomes the best defensive and offensive pick for handling it. Koko and Incineroar also make very good picks, as they can keep repositioning and cycling in and out. Gardevoir and Landorus both made very solid picks as the last mon, usually bringing Garde if it had Fini, and Landorus if it had Lele.

Animus Team (Gengar)

If there was a way to describe Gengar matchups very quickly, it would be items. This is another example of items being a key factor in the matchup, especially as you have to figure out 4 Pokémon and their items. In this matchup, because your Gardevoir can survive Sludge Bomb, it’s usually best to trade if you have to, as eliminating Gengar and snuffing out any Shadow Tag shenanigans is a huge knockout. It’s also very important to keep Tapu Fini in check if it has Calm Mind, as it can easily set up and start knocking out things fast. Koko is a safe answer to most mons with a Gigavolt Havoc, as it offers a lot of damage and several knockouts as well. Landorus is also very safe here, as it offers a second intimidate, quick knockouts, and can outspeed everything on the opposing side, barring a tailwind from Kartana.

Blaziken Bisharp

This is the only Matchup where most of the Pokemon alongside these two are very sporadic, so I didn’t feel like there were any standard partners. Anyways these two are huge threats in their own ways. For one Blaziken threatens heavy damage, and with Speed Boost means it will eventually outspeed Koko and sometime later break the sound barrier with how fast it gets. There’s also the potential for it to carry Rock Slide, which carries the chance to flinch as well. Bisharp is probably one of the biggest threats to this team no matter what archetype of Gardevoir you run. Defiant makes both your Intimidators boost it, and Bisharp can carry an array of moves that offer Knockouts, and can Knock Off items. The best way to play this is to lead Koko + Trick Room, and just blast something with Gigavolt Havoc. Trick Room makes this more manageable, as Araquanid often offers positive matchups with these two. Substitute also is very solid, as it can buy you a turn from Bisharp’s Sucker Punch, while wasting said turn.

Charizard-Y

Charizard is really annoying. For one it’s partners often carry very well spread bulk, and Steels and Poisons are very common on them. Pokémon like Raichu and Snorlax are also very annoying, as Raichu offers Fake Out and Lightning Rod, while Snorlax’s bulk and Belly Drum make it a huge threat for a team of 4 Special Attackers to deal with. Most of the time, it really depends on their items and sets, as these teams can carry a wide array of sets. Sun is also very difficult to deal with, as it lowers Araquanid’s offense, while boosting Charizard’s.

Rundown of Tournament

When I woke up for the day, I didn’t feel really good. My stomach was bothering me from stress and I felt like I was going to vomit. I checked the website, as apparently Koutesh’s Team was posted on the website. This info helped my mentality a bit, as I knew the sets now, but I also knew it was still a terrible matchup. I go down to the venue to meet with everyone and we all end up chatting and enjoying ourselves. Unfortunately Round 1 Pairings get posted and I get probably the worst person I could’ve gotten Round 1. In my head I felt terrified, but I kept repeating positive things to myself to try and calm myself down.

“Let’s do this”

Round 1- Cedric DeRouchie @TheFloppyMudkip (US) LL

I didn’t want to play Cedric Round 1 of all people. He was the strongest player in NA for seniors in my opinion and seeing him be my first opponent made me feel even worse. Going into preview I was genuinely shocked to see him not running Manectric or Snorlax, however the standard Gengar Team that Kyle (@AnimusVGC) had made that grew in popularity during the downtime between Nats and Worlds. Game 1 I decide to lead Incineroar Gardevoir, to scout out sets and moves. Not too late in and he reveals Water Z on his Fini, which right out OHKO’s my Incineroar. From there I’m forced to play defensively until I regain my position. With a game winning position, my Koko misses Thunderbolt. Thanks to a Muddy Water drop from 4 turns ago. I tried to not let it affect me to much going into Game 2, and decided to bring Porygon2 again to sponge hits, but this time not be invalidated by his Kartana. To save the details I get muddy watered again and Porygon2 ends up missing 5/5 moves at -1 Accuracy. Losing 2-0 to Muddy Water wasn’t how I wanted to start my Worlds Run, and it only meant I was closer to getting knocked out already. I didn’t want things to end like they did last year, so I took my mind off it by talking to friends. I want to apologize to Cedric for the way I acted in the end game of game 2. It was really disrespectful on my part.

Record: 0-1 (0-2)

Round 2: Connor Woitalla (US) WW

Playing another Person I knew felt nice again, as I took this match less seriously when I saw preview. He had 3 Intimidators, and everything on the team wasn’t amazing against Landorus. I led Gardevoir and Porygon2 into his Salamence and Aegislash. I knew he had Wide Guard if he was leading this, so I targeted Aegislash down first to eliminate the biggest threat to my Gardevoir. Calling Turn 1 perfectly I kept pressure up with Porygon2 until the Aegislash and Salamence were gone. After that I knocked out his Incineroar fast, and figured out the Bulu was a very Bulky Assault Vest variant. I also learned his Incineroar had Snarl before knocking it out. Game 2 he brings Milotic to counteract my Intimidates, and Aegislash in his lead, while I bring the same 4. I’m able to catch Aegislash Turn 1 with a Shadow Ball in Blade Form, and put it in range of another Shadow Ball+ Hyper Voice. From there he switches out Milotic into Tapu Bulu and King Shields. I’m able to wear down the Bulu overtime, but since it was bulky it stayed for almost the entire game. I get Landorus in and eventually Sludge Bomb it, winning me the set. GG’s to Connor for being a really fun opponent to talk to, and it certainly made me feel better than before the round.

Record: 1-1 (2-2)

Round 3: Quentin Colon @GalacticVGC (US) WW

Round 3 I got another friend! Yay for teamkills. Facing Quentin I knew he was probably going to have MALTTZ, as it was his best team for the whole season. Going into Team Preview I called it correctly, and realize this is another matchup where Porygon2 thrives. I lead Porygon2 and Tapu Koko to scout for items as he leads with his Amoonguss and Metagross. Turn 1 I’m able to Volt Switch onto his Metagross free of Rage Powder and switch into Incineroar for a Attack Drop. I’m able to catch him off guard with Shadow Ball and knock out his Mega turn 1. With that I’m able to juggle around Porygon, Koko, and Incineroar until I knock out his Landorus, which reveals to be Assault Vest. From there I learn his Lele is Scarf, as he goes for a read and Side Moonblasts his Amoonguss to activate the berry. Luckily Incineroar is able to survive the incoming Moonblast to use Fake Out the next turn and win me the game as I Shadow Ball and knock out Lele, leaving just Amoonguss in a 1v3. Game 2 he leads Lele Landorus into my Tapu Koko and Porygon2. He reveals Nature’s Madness on his Lele and targets Porygon2. I’m able to Volt Switch into Incineroar to help Porygon2 survive the Superpower from Landorus and Ice Beam back. From there I knew I could freely Recover and once again safely preserve my mons until I won the game.

Record: 2-1 (4-2)

Round 4: Owen Wright @EclipseOwlVGC (US) WW

Owen was another friend of mine, and actually my first opponent in VGC ever. We sat down for about 6 seconds before a judge told us we’d be on the side TV’s for the round. Going into preview I noticed his Venusaur immediately, and how large of a problem it was if left unchecked. Game 1 I decide to bring Incineroar and Tapu Koko into his lead of Metagross and Suicune. I’m able to get Metagross off the field turn 1, while Suicune gets Flinched for the turn. He brings in his own Incineroar, and I switch out Koko into Gardevoir and Knock off his Suicune. He gets Tailwind set up, but it didn’t take long to clean up the rest. Game 2 he leads Venusaur Suicune, which meant I had to find a way to get Garde in safely before taking a Sludge Bomb. I decide to Fake Out Venusaur and Volt Switch the Suicune, and go into Gardevoir. From there I’m able to catch his Landorus’ Tectonic Rage into my Porygon, which was a good sponge for the set. After tailwind it comes down to my Low HP Koko and Garde, against his Low HP Suicune, Lando, and a almost full HP Venusaur. I’m able to make a few good calls and win the game. In my mind I knew I was one set away from my goal. “One more”, I had been telling myself the whole day, and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip.

“Let’s do this”

Record: 3-1 (6-2)

Round 5: Matthew Goehner @Kattatam (CA) WW

Despite having the confidence coming off last round, I was super nervous to fight one of my good friends, Matt. We both didn’t want to play this set, as the victor would make cut and the other would have to play another set. Going into preview I realized it was another Animus Team, which I had already fought. I lead the same lead, but this time brought Landorus in the back over Porygon2. Turn 1 I’m able to call his play perfectly, as he Fakes Out into my Incineroar, which switches out into Landorus, and Sludge Bombs into my protect with Gardevoir. From there I’m able to pressure instant Knockouts with Landorus onto both mons with Gardevoir’s Hyper Voice. Gengar gets knocked out by the Earth Power, and I’m able to hit Tyranitar on the switch in with a Single Target Hyper Voice. From there he forfeited the game the next turn. Game 2 we both lead the same things. I’m now expecting him to go for Icy Wind, as switching into Landorus was good here again. This time I went for U-Turn to make the Gengar move first. I call this correctly and I’m able to get Landorus in freely. From there he knocks off my Landorus the next turn and begins to play more defensively. I unfortunately get caught with a Grassium Z from his Kartana, which knocks out my Gardevoir. From there I have just Incineroar and Koko against his Kartana, Fini, Incineroar, and Gengar. I’m able to KO the Incineroar from 50% with a Thunderbolt on the switch in, eliminating his Fake Out Pressure. I go for Protect, calling his Tapu Fini Protect, and he reveals Tailwind on his Kartana too before it goes down to Flare Blitz. The next turn I’m able to get a double protect as Gengar switches in, and am able to eliminate Gengar with a Knock Off. After that I was able to stall the Tailwind and finish off his Tapu Fini. I felt really bad I had to win like that, but that’s the game we play. I wished Matt best of luck in his next round, as I knew he had to win for cut, I now had the Worlds Top Cut I wanted so badly. Everything I had worked for had led to this, and I wasn’t going to let anything take it away.

Record: 4-1 (8-2)

Round 6: Zach Kelly (SG) @noneinterestin LWW

Before the Round started, I had went to talk to my friends about how the cut would be. Carson said he calculated it would be a Top 22 Max with the amount of players. This meant all X-1’s and a portion of X-2’s would get a bye into Top 16, and the rest would play to get into Top 16. I knew losing Round 1 would most likely put me as one of the lower X-2’s, so I wanted to win to avoid the possibility of that. Going to the table I noticed Zach was a senior I had talked to a while ago, as we both started out 0-1. We congratulated each other on pulling back from a bad start, and enjoyed the entire set. It felt nice to play a friendly match to break the stress of the day. Going into preview I noticed this was one of the teams I feared fighting the most. Fake Out Pressure with a Bisharp and Tapu Fini isn’t a thing you want to fight, and I never practiced the matchup so I made up my plays on the fly. Game 1 I lead Koko Porygon2 into his Bisharp and Kangaskhan. I play it safe and target down the Bisharp with Thunderbolt and Trick Room. He doubles into P2 and knocks off the Eviolite, while I reveal his Focus Sash on Bisharp. From there he knocks out Porygon with a Double Edge and proceeds to sweep from there with Landorus in the back, as my Gardevoir and Araquanid in the back could deal with a Gigavolt Zapdos outside of Trick Room. Game 2 I lead the same thing and so does he. I go for the same play while he doubles into Koko instead. My Koko is able to survive with 1 HP as Trick Room goes up. I switch out Koko because I need it if there’s Fini in the back, and I bring in Araquanid. Following on, I Ice Beam Bisharp to break Sash and he knocks out my Porygon2. I bring in Gardevoir and I’m able to sweep his team with Araquanid and Gardevoir. It came down to my 1 HP Koko vs his Zapdos, and I’m able to OHKO it with a Gigavolt Havoc thanks to my nature. Game 3 we lead the same things again, and this time he goes back to doubling Porygon2, however I decided to Gigavolt the Kangaskhan this time, as I knew I had a high chance of knocking it out. I’m able to knock out the Kangaskhan at the price of my Porygon2’s health and Eviolite. He brings in Landorus and oddly enough self-earthquakes himself, bringing his Bisharp down to Sash. I protect Koko while I’m able to get Gardevoir in, which luckily traces Defiant. From there I Dazzling Gleam with Koko to ensure Bisharp goes down, and Trick Room, he goes for Sucker Punch onto Garde, which doesn’t work as Koko and Bisharp go down. From there I bring in Araquanid and am able to wrap up the game. I now had a guaranteed way into Top 16.

Record: 5-1 (10-3)

Top 16: Andrew Boudreaux @LordAndyVgc (US) WW

During the time between Standings and Top 16, I had a lot of time to mentally cool down as Top 22 played out. I was really nervous going into such a large cut, and I wanted that win more than anything. Going into Top 16 I was playing a West Coast player named Andy, who I knew a bit about. He knocked out my friend Kareem in Top 22, so I wanted to get some revenge for him. Going into Preview I saw we had 4/6 of the same mons, however he had 2 much more offensive Pokémon compared to my Araquanid and Porygon2. Accelgor scared me a lot, so I led Porygon2 and Incineroar to ensure he couldn’t Final Gambit freely. He led Gardevoir and Incineroar, and I find out I have the faster Incineroar. Turn 1 I Fake Out his Gardevoir and switch into my own Gardevoir. From there I begin to Hyper Voice, and I find out I also have a faster Gardevoir. Both Incineroars U-Turn out, as we both switch into Landorus. I know he couldn’t kill mine with HP Ice, so I just went for another Hyper Voice, while HP Ice onto his Landorus. I’m able to knock out Landorus and bring the Gardevoir down to 90%. He brings back in Incineroar and Fakes Out Gardevoir, but I’m able to knock out his Gardevoir with HP Ice. From there I just switched Landorus, as he had Koko in the back, which revealed to be Gigavolt Havoc. Game 2 we led the same things, and did the same moves. Game 2 was very similar to Game 1, and I was able to sweep him with Landorus. I was really confused he didn’t bring Kartana or Accelgor, as both easily pressured my Team. Either way I knew I had just sealed my placement into the Top 8.

Record: 6-1 (12-3)

Top 8: Ethan French @PorygonZ_VGC (GB) LWW

This was probably the best set of my life.

Going into Top 8, I was really happy to see Ethan. We both congratulated each other on making it this far, as we were both friends. Going into preview I saw it was another Gengar Team, except this one had Cresselia. I immediately compared this to Alberto’s NAIC Team, which had Calm Mind Cresselia. Game 1 panic got to me and I led Porygon2 Incineroar into his Gengar Incineroar. The set played really slowly, up until I set up Trick Room (Ironically). From there he starts to Calm Mind with Tapu Fini and eventually gets to +3. During his setup I wasted my Z Move with Araquanid trying to call an Incineroar switch in, which meant my Koko didn’t have the firepower to finish off his Tapu Fini. I end up going for a Volt Switch in Terrain, which leaves it on 1 HP, which is able to save him the game as he KO’s my Incineroar on the switch. From there it was just a matter of time until he won. It came down really close afterwards, as I was able to Paralyze his Incineroar, but it revealed Snarl and wrapped it up. Game 2 feels like a blur to me, so I apologize as there’s not much to say. I remember most of the game was just him outplaying me, until I was left with Incineroar and Koko against all 4 of his mons. Landorus and Fini go down, and it’s just his Gengar and Incineroar VS My Koko and Incineroar. I didn’t have another Protect after the Fake Out, so I had to make a call. I predicted him to protect Gengar and Snarl, as that would put him back in the game, so I double Incineroar with a Thunderbolt and Flare Blitz. My Flare Blitz is luckily able to crit him before it activates his Berry. Despite him getting off a Snarl before he faints, I’m still able to defeat Gengar. My nerves had never been higher during that game 3. I knew everything led up to this. My run either ended here, or the dream was still alive.

“Let’s do this”
For the first two turns he completely outread me lol.

To describe the first 2 turns, basically he got 2 Calm Minds up with his Fini, and I wasted my Z Move on a Landorus Switch in. At this point I had one out, as his Fini had taken about 30% from an earlier Hyper Voice. My only Wincon was to hope Volt Switch wouldn’t activate the Fini’s Berry, and Gardevoir would be able knock it out afterwards with a Psyshock. The Volt Switch didn’t activate the berry, and I switched in Landorus to help Gardevoir survive Tectonic Rage. I’m able to survive and finally knock the Tapu Fini out. I legitimately couldn’t believe it happened, but I was able to eliminate the biggest threat to my team. After a while, I was able to finish Ethan’s Team off with Landorus and Koko. After signing the match slip I couldn’t believe what had just happened. I went over to my friends bawling my eyes out, because I literally couldn’t comprehend what had happened. To be in Top 4 of the World Championship was something I never expected, but wanted so badly, and now here I was. I had one game between me and the Grand Finals, and I didn’t want to lose here. “Just one more”, I kept telling myself.

Record: 7-1 (14-4)

Top 4: Shota Yamada @kyaro_Pokemon (JP) LWW

When I sat down for Top 4, I realized I was fighting Shota. Shota had beaten several of my friends throughout the tourney, which already scared me. What also scared me was that he was the first Japanese opponent I had ever played in a tournament run. When we hopped into preview, I knew our archetypes were very similar. Both of us carried 4/6 same Pokémon, but our Megas were very different. I knew Venusaur was a huge threat, so what do Game 1? Not bring Gardevoir that’s what. Game 1 I don’t have enough pressure to seal the game out, and end up losing to the Venusaur. In Game 2 I realize that Araquanid didn’t help the matchup, and that even if he did bring Metagross, Gardevoir had a solid matchup against the rest of his team. Game 2 I lead Koko and Incineroar into his Araquanid and Metagross. Before the set I knew his Metagross didn’t have Protect, so I knew it was a safe Fake Out slot. I Gigavolted the Araquanid to knock it out, while Metagross flinches. He brings in Incineroar, and from there I play defensively and switch in Gardevoir, as Porygon2 beats his Metagross with Shadow Ball. Luckily my Gardevoir Traces Intimidate which makes his Metagross and Incineroar less threatening. I’m able to eliminate Metagross and Incineroar, leaving just his Porygon2 against all 4 of my Pokémon. From there he forfeits Game 2. Going into Game 3 I knew this was another do or die, and here I was in another top 4, one game away from winning or losing. I didn’t want this to end like Internats did, not when I was this close again.

“Let’s do this”

Turn 1 I lead Koko Incineroar into his Incineroar Venusaur lead. I knew if I could get Gardevoir in safely, I could eliminate the Venusaur. He goes for Protect with Venusaur, which caught me off guard, because now I knew it couldn’t Protect from my Psyshock. I Volt Switch off his Incineroar into my Gardevoir, which goes for Flare Blitz and does some damage. From there I just doubled into the Venusaur to eliminate it, and we end up trading megas, but I knew Gardevoir did it’s job. I bring Koko back in and am able to KO the Incineroar from 50%, and U-Turn off his Porygon2, which came in place for his Venusaur. He sets up Trick Room, and brings Araquanid in. I knew he had Waterium Z from Game 1, so I tried to play as safe as possible knowing I had the lead. I Protect Koko and attempt to reverse the Trick Room with my own Porygon2. Shota called it perfectly, as he Hydro Vortexes my Porygon2, and reverses the Trick Room before me, making my Porygon2 set it up again. I just went from a huge lead to a huge deposit and I knew then I only had one wincon left. I switched out Porygon2 into Incineroar for an Intimidate, and from there I just hoped I could live. Both attacks came out onto Koko, but I was able to survive with 10 HP and Gigavolt the Araquanid back for an OHKO. From there I knock off his Eviolite, and he forfeits Game 3.

I was in finals.
Record: 8-1 (16-5)

Finals: Bram De Jonge @Bennbuild (NL) WW

When I finished my Top 4 set, and handed in my Match Slip, the first thing everyone in my group of friends started saying was “Teamkill!”, I didn’t know why at first, but then I found out that my friend Bram had made finals too. I was really happy for him to see him make it all the way here, and I knew that he was too. We both wished each other good luck for tomorrow, and headed separate ways. After getting Dinner with a group of my friends, we went back to the hotel lobby to figure out the matchup. Carson said he knew Bram’s Team, and that it was one he fought at NAIC.

When I saw this team I wanted to vomit.

After looking at several replays of accounts using the team, we figured out the Bisharp didn’t have Iron Head, which changed the whole way this matchup was played. It was also Life Orb which meant Gigavolt Havoc would net an OHKO, and thanks to the Modest Nature, would probably pick it up in Grassy Terrain too. I also learned that his Snorlax was Choice Band, and not Belly Drum, which helps the matchup too. After learning my game plan, I headed back to my hotel feeling confident for tomorrow. I still don’t know how I got any sleep that night. A lot of emotions ran through my head, and I knew I only had so much time before I could confront them. All I had was one set standing between me and being a World Champion. Just one more I kept telling myself. Before I knew it, it was Championship Sunday.

“Let’s do this”

I knew my matchup well from the night before, so we hopped into preview, I knew Koko Gardevoir was my best lead. We figured Incineroar was good for the team besides Blaziken Bisharp, however we never fully thought of what should come in the last slot. Araquanid was a last minute decision during preview, as it was the safest member to deal with the Blaziken and Bisharp. Game 1 I’m able to call his lead correctly, however Gigavolt into his Bisharp Protect. My Gardevoir is able to live his Flare Blitz, which we calced is around a 70% Survival, and I get Trick Room up. From there I just played defensively, as I knew the Bisharp couldn’t do much even in Trick Room. Once Trick Room and the Amoonguss were gone, I knew I had to call what Bram was going to do, or I would lose. Knowing his Blaziken was the biggest threat to my team, I knew he would Protect it from my potential double up. I went for Fake Out onto his Bulu, and set up Substitute with my Araquanid. From there I was able to knock both out and take Game 1. Game 2 we led the same things, however this time I decided to target his Blaziken despite the original game plan. Luckily he doesn’t Protect either Mon, and I score a double knock out with Gardevoir and Tapu Koko. When Bulu and Amoonguss came in, I knew this was it. I had Incineroar and Araquanid in the back with Full Health, and Koko could reset Terrain. I just had to play conservatively. Once Bulu fainted, I knew I finally did it.

I won.

Final Record: 9-1 (18-5)

Conclusion

After the ceremony, I met with all of my friends, who all congratulated me and we all hugged. We went back to the hotel and sat on the floor and ate pizza. Eventually Ben Omnes signed up for the Gioppy Tournament, so we went to the lobby, where I just hung out with some other seniors and played Melee. It was really weird to think just hours ago, I had won Worlds. It felt like a dream, and that’s because I wanted it for so long I thought it would never happen.

Eventually, Carson and Ben Goff decide to go to the Convenience Store down the road, so I decided to tag along. The walk back might be one of the things I’ll remember for the rest of my life, because it reminded me of how much time we’ve spent together, and that in the end we’re still all just friends no matter how we change. I wanted to make more memories with my friends more than ever.

Also it was a really good slushie.

When we got back I had to leave, so I hugged all of my friends one last time like it was our last time together. It was the greatest day of my life.

General Shoutouts

My Family- I highly doubt any member of my family is reading this, but if they are I just want to say I love you all so much. They support me so much and are the ones responsible for helping me travel across the World to do what I love.

Bram- Bram I’m really proud of how far you went with your run. Sitting there waiting for our finals set, both sharing the anxiety and fear to play was really funny. In the end knowing you were my last opponent made me feel better than anyone else I could’ve fought because you were my friend. Excellent job dude.

Kareem Muakkit- Ever since we’ve met you’ve been one of the nicest people I know. Everytime I’m down you always supported me and I’m so happy we got to finally meet. Watching your run felt amazing, and seeing you make cut was awesome. Hanging out in Discord Voice Chats before Worlds was always such a fun time with you, and they still are. I have no doubt that you’ll do amazing in your 2019 season.

Alvin Hidayat- You probably know how much I love you dude, but words can’t describe it. I love hanging out with you and seeing you make Day 2 3x in a row was awesome. I hope you can go to more 2019 events just because you’re such a beam of sunshine to hang out with. Either way you’re still an absolute god.

Brian Youm- We’ve had our ons and offs Brian, but in the end we’re still friends and I’m happy about that. I don’t know what I would’ve done post nats if you didn’t encourage me to reinvest time into my Internats Team, which would become the final spreads for the Worlds Team. Thanks for being a great friend.

Carson St. Denis- Ever since I couldn’t go to Brazil, I feel like we’ve become such good friends. Everytime it felt like it was the world against me, you supported me. Everytime it felt like I couldn’t be the best, you supported me. I don’t talk to that many people about my emotions, and you supported me every single time. If you told my 2016 self I’d be friends with a person of your skill in VGC I probably wouldn’t even believe it. I’m glad I was able to win to show that your faith wasn’t misplaced. Thanks for being a great friend.

Ben Goff- One of my first friends made through VGC. I still remember Georgia and can’t believe it was so long ago. You and everyone else helped to convince me that running Garde was my play, and I’m glad we could bring that to the top. I’m so glad we got to spend so much time together, and witnessed many of your garbage tastes (no flame). The walk back from the convenience store with you and Carson will stick in my mind forever as the moment I realized that our time is precious. While limited, the memories we make last a lifetime. I’m so glad I met you, and everyone else along the way. Let’s keep making more memories all together. Thank you for being my best friend.

And that’s it. That’s my story. Thank you to everyone that supported and cheered me on. Every triumph, every fail, every friend made, every tilting ladder session, it all led to this. Pokémon is a wonderful game that brings people together, and it’s changed my life forever. I’m so glad I got to experience this life with everyone I’ve met along the way, thank you all so much. While I have my invite to nexts year’s Worlds already in Washington D.C, I’m going to continue playing. I may have completed my goal to become the World’s Best, but I want to keep becoming better and better. My goal was to be the best in the World, but now it’s to be the best of all time.

That probably seems hard considering the circumstances, but hey, a guy can dream right? 🙂

Credit to all0412 for featured image

One comment

  1. Thank you James, very cool!

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