Hello there! This is Tyler Bennett bringing you this report of my 5th place finish at the VGC ’17 Anaheim Regionals. The event took place the weekend of February 18th and 19th at the Business Expo Center in Anaheim, CA.
I’m 26 years old and live in Boise, Idaho. I began learning how to play competitive Pokémon in general back in 2015; however, Smogon’s single battle formats weren’t exactly what I was looking for. I wanted something more official, so I started learning about VGC at the tail end of the 2015 format. After watching the stream of the 2015 World Championships, I decided I wanted to start competing.
As the 2016 season progressed, I was getting slightly better and better after every event. I only traveled to three Regionals, but I did manage to earn a Day 1 invite to the 2016 World Championships. Although I realize now that a day 1 invite last year wasn’t as great of an accomplishment as in years past, I was still very proud of myself for achieving it in my first year of competitive Pokémon.
Going into the 2017 season, I knew getting that Day 1 invite was going to be a lot tougher and my mediocre regional finishes weren’t going to cut it this time. I started off the season with a Top 32 placing at Arizona Regionals and that is how I finished my time playing in the 2016 format. I chose not to attend San Jose Regionals due to travel costs, so Anaheim was going to be my first major event of the 2017 format and I was determined to prove to myself that I can do well at this game!
Preparation for Anaheim began in mid to late January of with the Utah and Idaho Mid-Season Showdowns. I wanted to try out the popular AFK core (Arcanine-Tapu Fini-Kartana) at the Utah Mid-Season Showdown. I went 3-2 in Swiss and bubbled into top cut as the 7th seed. I finished 4th place at the event but wasn’t very satisfied with my play or the team. I had one week to decide on any changes for the upcoming Idaho Mid-Season Showdown.
It was around this time that Collin Heier (@BattleRoom) shared the team he used to place 2nd at Dallas Regionals on his YouTube channel. The team was built by another great player, Conan Thompson (@conanyk), and piloted at Dallas by Collin. After watching the team report and seeing how similar the team was to mine, I decided to use it almost verbatim. I took this to the Idaho Mid-Season Showdown and went 4-1 in Swiss as the 2nd seed in top cut. I again only finished in Top 4 (3rd place), but this time I was much more satisfied with the team.
I managed to climb into the 1800’s with this team on Battle Spot and was starting to feel really good about my chances at Anaheim. However, the whole week leading up to the event, I didn’t win a single game on Battle Spot or in Link Battles. I lost 7 games in a row on Battle Spot, my rating plummeted and I stopped playing the rest of the week. On top of that, every practice battle I had with friends, I lost. Now, I was really worried. The night before of the event, I tried to keep a calm mind and just focus on having fun. I couldn’t let the fear of losing take over again. I just had to play the game the way I wanted to play it and enjoy my time with friends.
Tapu Fini @ Choice Specs
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 68 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Dazzling Gleam
Brought in 16/19 (84.21%) games in Swiss; 14-2 (0.875) record in Swiss.
Brought in 6/6 games in Top Cut; 3-3 record in Top Cut.
Once I started using Tapu Fini, I don’t think I can ever not use her again. Even though Misty Terrain doesn’t boost Tapu Fini’s damage, it was very crucial to my team by protecting Metagross and Garchomp from being burned.
The Choice Specs Tapu Fini is definitely the best set for this team because of the immediate offensive pressure it puts on. I don’t like that it is easy double target bait, but I could usually lead with it next to something else and force my opponent to pick their poison. I did this a lot with Tapu Fini and Porygon2 leads to threaten either a lot of damage or a Trick Room set-up.
The EV spread is pretty generic to me. The Sp. Attack EVs are the same as Collin’s Tapu Fini which gives it the extra point in Special Attack. I chose the HP EVs in order to reduce Sand, Hail, and Leech Seed damage by one point. The Speed EVs are meant to speed creep other Tapu Fini, but still is one speed point lower than uninvested Tapu Lele to get my Terrain up when I lead into it.
Arcanine @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 164 HP / 84 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
Brought in 14/19 (73.68%) games in Swiss; 12-2 (0.857) record in Swiss.
Brought in 3/6 games in Top Cut; 2-1 record in Top Cut.
This Arcanine set was more of a utility set in my mind. I mainly used it to control the damage output of my opponents Pokémon and check Steel-types such as Celesteela and Kartana. It was also great at keeping Muk from doing too much damage to the likes of Metagross and Tapu Fini. Extreme Speed was mainly used to pick off weakened Pokémon or put something in range to be KO’d by another attack.
This is almost exactly the same Arcanine that Collin used; I just took out 8 EVs from Attack and put them into Defense and Sp. Defense. The HP and Defense EVs make a -1 Jolly Garchomp’s Earthquake into a 3HKO with the Sitrus Berry. The set used max speed with a Jolly nature to at worst speed tie with non-Scarf Tapu Lele in order to fire off Snarl. This set also survives Tapu Lele’s Psychic in Psychic Terrain. The rest was dumped into Attack. I sometimes would have preferred to have more Attack though; especially after I failed to KO a 4 HP/0 Def Tapu Koko with Flare Blitz and Extreme Speed. Other than that, the set performed well.
Metagross @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 76 Def / 60 SpD / 4 Spe
– Meteor Mash
– Zen Headbutt
– Bullet Punch
Brought in 12/19 (63.16%) games in Swiss; 9-3 (0.750) record in Swiss.
Brought in 6/6 games in Top Cut; 3-3 record in Top Cut.
After using Metagross, I believe it is one of the most underrated Pokémon in this format. Weakness Policy takes advantage of Metagross’ really good bulk and could deter Arcanine from using Snarl, which acted as a way to support my Tapu Fini at times. It was also great to have when a Tectonic Rage or Inferno Overdrive went into my Protect and still activated the Weakness Policy. With the boosts from Weakness Policy, Metagross puts on a lot of offensive pressure and Bullet Punch becomes much more threatening. Clear Body is an incredible ability with Intimidate being so common in VGC and when Metagross gets the Attack boosts, it gets to keep them.
The HP and Defense EVs were calc’d to survive Adamant Arcanine’s Inferno Overdrive after an Intimidate. Collin’s Metagross didn’t have any Defense EVs, but I decided to add them because offensive Arcanine is a lot more common now. The Defense EVs also allowed me to survive Jolly Garchomp’s Tectonic Rage after an intimidate if I needed to and made Muk’s Knock Off do less than 50% after an Intimidate. The Attack EVs allowed me to OHKO 4 HP Arcanine with Zen Headbutt after a Weakness Policy boost and KO Life Orb, 4 HP Tapu Koko with Meteor Mash plus Bullet Punch after Koko takes Life Orb recoil. Meteor Mash plus Bullet Punch still had a decent chance to pick up the KO on non-Life Orb, 4 HP Tapu Koko as well.
Fun fact: I only missed one Zen Headbutt/Meteor Mash all weekend long. The one miss ended up costing me the win late in game 2 in my Top 16 match too. Use Metagross at your own risk!
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 12 HP / 212 Atk / 12 Def / 20 SpD / 252 Spe
– Poison Jab
– Rain Dance
Brought in 6/19 (31.58%) of games in Swiss; 4-2 (0.667) record in Swiss.
Brought in 3/6 games in Top Cut; 1-2 record in Top Cut.
Garchomp was surprisingly the Pokémon I used in the least amount of games all weekend. It was the only Pokémon that I brought in Swiss to less than 60% of all my games. I think this was due to the fact that I was utilizing my Trick Room mode in a lot of my games. Also, 3 out of 9 teams that I faced had Ninetales and I never brought Garchomp to those games.
Nonetheless, Garchomp does serve a crucial purpose on this team. It is the fastest Pokémon on the team and immediately threatens OHKOs on Pokémon such as Arcanine and Muk; major threats to Metagross. Tectonic Rage was also crucial in KO’ing weakened threats and just being a strong nuke option on a lot of Pokémon. Garchomp is pretty standard and did mostly standard things when I did bring it.
Of course, there is the one cheesy move I ran on Garchomp… Rain Dance. I had come up with the idea of manual rain on the car ride to Anaheim as a way in further increase Tapu Fini’s damage output and protect both Metagross and Vikavolt from Arcanine better. The only problem was that I didn’t have a good Pokémon to use Rain Dance on. Also, remember that I wasn’t feeling too confident in my play going into the event and out of desperation I said, “Screw it!” I put Rain Dance on Garchomp because it was my fastest Pokémon and out-speeds Arcanine. The fun part about it was that I actually did manage to use it and virtually steal a game 1 because off it. In game 2 my opponent had to play with that Rain Dance option in mind. The Rain also allowed my Tapu Fini’s Scald to do A LOT more damage to bulky threats such as Porygon2, Snorlax, and Celesteela.
The EV spread allows Garchomp to survive opposing Jolly Garchomp Tectonic Rage and it survives uninvested Porygon2’s Ice Beam when it doesn’t have the Sp. Attack boost from Download. The Attack EVs still OHKO’d most Arcanine with Tectonic Rage even when at -1 from Intimidate.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 44 Def / 100 SpA / 116 SpD
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
Brought in 15/19 (78.95%) games in Swiss; 13-2 (0.867) record in Swiss.
Brought in 6/6 games in Top Cut; 3-3 record in Top Cut.
Porygon2 is another Pokémon I’ll probably end up using all season. Trick Room and bulky Pokémon that do consistent damage has become a staple of my play and Porygon2 does both. With its Cresselia-like bulk from the Eviolite boost, Porygon2 is able to switch-in and soak up attacks and potentially heal off the damage with Recover.
Porygon2 was huge over the weekend. Given that Trick Room was very strong going into the tournament, Porygon2 saw a lot of use in my matches. I was able to lead Porygon2 against faster teams that are weak to Trick Room and force them to use their resources to stop the Trick Room from going up. Sometimes I didn’t even have to set up Trick Room because the bulk of my lead would allow me to take an attack and dish out a lot more damage in return. Speaking of which, Return on Porygon2 is a solid move choice and I would recommend it to anyone. Porygon2 gets a lot of Attack boosts from Download and Return allows me to take advantage of that. I’m able to hit threats such as Tapu Lele, Muk, and Araquanid for more damage with a +1 Return than I would Tri Attack. It would sometimes help Porygon2 be an offensive threat on the field forcing my opponent to worry not only about Trick Room, but the damage Porygon2 could potentially do.
The EV spread was copied from Collin’s Dallas Regionals team. The Sp. Attack EVs allow Porygon2 to OHKO Garchomp without the Sp. Attack boost if Garchomp has no investment in bulk. I went with a Sassy Nature with 31 Speed IVs to outspeed most Muk and minimum speed Porygon2 outside of Trick Room. Sometimes I would have preferred 0 Speed IVs on my Porygon2, but it was always situational.
Vikavolt @ Wiki Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 28 Def / 140 SpA / 84 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Bug Buzz
– Mud Shot
Brought in 13/19 (68.42%) games in Swiss; 12-1 (0.923) record in Swiss.
Brought in 0/6 games in Top Cut.
Vikavolt is the more uncommon pick on the team, but it serves a crucial purpose. Vikavolt provides a much needed defensive Ground-type immunity and an Electric-type for offensive coverage. On top of that, it is able to check and deal with many common threats to the rest of my team, such as Tapu Koko, Kartana, and Garchomp; all three of which can threaten the core of Tapu Fini-Arcanine-Metagross. Finally, Vikavolt gives the team a stronger Trick Room mode by being a slow Pokémon. I wouldn’t classify Vikavolt as a Trick Room sweeper, but it still can threaten a lot of damage under Trick Room with its base 145 Sp. Attack stat.
The Vikavolt from Collin’s team had Hidden Power Ground on it mainly to hit Marowak under Trick Room and Tapu Koko. I ended up with Mud Shot because it is almost the same power as Hidden Power Ground and the added speed drop was nice for Tapu Koko while also getting a 2HKO the standard set. This could force Tapu Koko to switch out or allow my Arcanine or Garchomp to finish it off. As for Marowak, Mud Shot could 2HKO it, but the only one I did face I never allowed to be under Trick Room.
I modified the EV spread from Collin’s Vikavolt to give it a little more Defense at the cost of some Sp. Attack. This makes Garchomp’s Fire Fang and Rock Slide a 4HKO with the Wiki Berry and it survives Adamant Arcanine’s Flare Blitz after an Intimidate and activates the berry; the Arcanine calc helped me win a game in Round 7 as well. The Sp. Defense EVs allowed Vikavolt to survive a Timid non-Life Orb, non-Expert Belt Nihilego Power Gem and activate the berry. The rest was dumped into Sp. Attack which also allowed Mud Shot to be a guaranteed 2HKO on 252 HP/4 Sp. Def Marowak.
To start the morning, I tried to not think about the game and just enjoy the company of my friends that I traveled to Anaheim with. I knew if I got too anxious about my recent play, I would just struggle all day. I kept calm and relaxed. It helped that the people I traveled with are fun to be around too and not super up-tight about the game. We all wanted to win, but we also knew how to have fun playing the game. I was grateful for that.
We showed up, got checked in and waited for our Round 1 pairings. And so, it began…the 2017 VGC Anaheim Regionals.
Day 1 Swiss
Round 1: TJ Digiacomo (Finished 2-4): WW
Round 2: Tyler Partain (Finished 4-3): WW
Round 3: James Eakes (Finished 7-2, Runner-up): LL
Round 4: Martin Padilla (Finished 4-3): WW
Round 5: Robert Barnes (Finished 6-3): WW
Round 6: Jirawiwat Thitasiri (Finished 7-2, Top 16): WW
Round 7: Matthew Greaves (Finished 7-2): LWW
Round 8: Alia Lee (Finished 7-2, Top 16): WW
Round 9: Kevin Li (Finished 7-2): WW
I was excited and celebrating after my final win of the day. I had just guaranteed a spot in the 16 player, single elimination bracket of the 2017 Anaheim Regionals! One of my major goals I set after my first regional event was to top cut at a Regional. I finally achieved that goal after just under a year of setting it. But I couldn’t stop there — it was time to go for Top-8 and beyond.
Day 2 Top Cut
Top 16: Alia Lee: WLW
Top 8: James Eakes: WLL
Yet another rematch from the Swiss rounds in which James definitely controlled the games in our previous set really well. After going over our previous match in my head, I realized that Porygon2 was going to be crucial in this match-up. I needed it to control the speeds with Trick Room and be an offensive presence against his frailer Pokémon in Tapu Koko and Salazzle. I never revealed to him I had Return on Porygon2 in our Swiss match, which I thought could help me early in the set. I also had to keep Metagross very safe this time since it was my best answer to his Gigalith. This was going to be another tough set for me.
This set was on stream and can be viewed here:
This team is very well built and solid. The Trick Room mode ended up being a very good call for me at the tournament too. However, it does need some modifications with the rising usage of Pokémon such as Snorlax, Gigalith, and Drifblim. Overall, however, the main core and concept of the team does not need to be changed, only some of the smaller components. This team mainly consists of Pokemon with a good balance of bulk and power and can thrive with solid play.
I really enjoyed using Vikavolt, but with the current meta shifts I believe it is the most replaceable Pokémon on the team right now. You just have to either give up the Ground immunity/resist or find some other way to be able to deal with Garchomp mainly. Otherwise, I still like the other 5 Pokémon together going forward and they can all be flexible in the sets they each run.
I had a blast traveling to this event! I was able to become closer friends with some of the other Utah players and got to meet some more people at the event itself. Win or lose, there is nothing better to me about playing in VGC than going to live events. I love competition, but there is something about playing face-to-face that I really appreciate. It felt great to have a strong finish to coincide with the experience of competing at a major live event.
Even with the success that I had over the weekend, the Top 8 match loss is going to sting for a while. I played well, but I know that I buckled under the pressure at times. That was my first time on a major stream with hundreds of people watching.
I am so thrilled that I was able to prove to myself that I can compete at a higher level in this game. I also realize that I still have a lot to learn about the game and a lot more room to grow as a player. But above all else, I finally found the confidence that I feel like I’ve been seeking for so long. I’m ready to try to take that next step!
The Utah Players:
I just have to say thanks to the people that I traveled to Anaheim with. These are the people that allow me to lighten up and have fun at these events. We also support each other during tournament and encourage one another. They came together and helped me prep for my top cut matches. I am so grateful to have met these guys and to have people to make these trips possible. Thanks to Matthew Jackson (@S_McBuckets), Parker Lish, Kyle Gordon (@UtahVG), Matthew Greaves (@PickleswordMG), Josh Mecham (@joshuadmecham), Charles Sommer, Bridger Snow (@squirtwo), Will Giddings and Bobby Chap (@bbshark99) from Utah. Happy to have been at Anaheim Regionals with you guys!
We are small, but starting to slowly grow. My local VGC scene in Boise, Idaho started last season when one of the TCG TO’s started running PCs for the video game. I was lucky to have started playing VGC at the exact same time and was able to help our TO Jessica learn about the game and this allowed for us to bring in a few more players. Without our small, local scene I may not have ever gotten into VGC as much as I have.
Collin and Conan
Although I don’t personally know these two, I still have to give a huge shout-out and thank-you to them both. I was having a hard time with teams and I wasn’t sure if I could find a team I felt comfortable with. I am very grateful to them for sharing their team! Good luck to them both in the rest of the season!
My wife Amber has been very supportive of me this season. Last year when I started, she was unsure about me playing Pokémon competitively. However, after we made it a week-long vacation for Worlds last year, she started to understand my love for the game. Now she supports me in my travels and also keeps me from getting too obsessed with the game. If I am spending too much time at it, she will call me out on it. This is very important to me because I have a bad habit of becoming obsessed with things in an unhealthy way. I have a full-time job to worry about, bills to pay, a marriage to focus on, and friendships to invest in; I can’t let a game get in the way of those things. On top of all of this, she always encourages me at events!