After a long and intense day of VGC, the One Nation of Gamers Pokémon Invitational has already delivered all the insane action a fan could hope for. Champions have fallen, underdogs have upset the favorites and an array of creative teams have demonstrated the best of the competitive Pokémon.
In case you missed it, here’s a run-down of what happened.
Sejun Park v. Aaron Zheng (1-2)
The day got off to an exciting start with Park and Zheng slugging it out for the tournament’s first win. Park started off in a good position, using excellent switches to cycle Intimidate onto Zheng’s physical attackers. Still, Zheng was able to leverage his superior bulk and whittle his opponent’s HP down to the point where Muk’s Shadow Sneak threatened just about everything. In the end, the game came down to a 50/50 where Sejun had a to gamble on what Muk would do. He gambled wrong and Zheng took game one.
In the next game, Park came out swinging with Tapu Lele by his side. Whether he was knocking out Gigalith with a Shattered Psyche or destroying Muk with Arcanine, Park overwhelmed Zheng with ease. But game three was different. Zheng finally brought Tapu Fini, giving him the ability to limit the damage potential of Park’s Lele. He even made Park waste his Z-move into a Tapu Fini Protect. From that point on, Zheng kept applying pressure and Park couldn’t readjust back into a favorable position. With two almost fainted Pokémon staring down Zheng’s full time, Park forfeited.
And while it wasn’t quite an upset, many expected Park to take set. Still, Zheng earned some nice momentum and could wait for his next opponent to be decided, all with the knowledge that he’d just defeated a world champion.
Wolfe Glick v aDrive (1-2)
Going into this match, few people in the VGC community expected much out of aDrive. Game one of this set kind of represented that perfectly. For a relatively new player, aDrive played pretty well — but Glick simply had more experience. He kept himself in a favorable position and exploited the fact that aDrive couldn’t deal with his Tapu Fini. aDrive hung around for a while, but he dropped the first game all the same.
Game two is where things shifted. Suddenly, as if aDrive had been playing VGC for years, he picks an incredible lead. With Muk and Tapu Fini against Glick’s Tapu Fini and Arcanine, he had immediate pressure that forced his opponent to readjust. aDrive kept switching right alongside him, eventually bringing his Gyarados in and going for Dragon Dance. It seemed like a strange move in front of a Trick Room setting Exeggutor, but it paid off. With some clever predictions, he put big damage on Glick’s Fini and knocked out Exeggutor on the switch with an Ice Fang. There was no way for the champ to come back from that one.
In the final, tense set, things looked a little more even. Glick was able to reassert control with an early double-switch, but aDrive then employed one of his own. The real kicker came when Arcanine revealed it knew Wild Charge, which caught Glick off-guard and cost him his Tapu Fini early. From there, aDrive kept swapping his Gyarados and Arcanine slot just enough to convince Glick it would happen one more time. But when Glick decided to go for a Leaf Blade into a predicted Gyarados switch-in, aDrive left his Arcanine in and countered with a Flare Blitz. And with that, aDrive upset everyone’s expectations and toppled a giant.
aDrive v Aaron Zheng (2-1)
So aDrive had won a game and proved himself, but many expected his luck to end there. Zheng, who had a better team match-up than Glick, could use his experience to win the set. However, in game one, aDrive continued switching masterfully, applying Intimidate pressure and staying safe from ground attacks with Gyarados. Zheng took down Tapu Fini on the same turn, but a pair of Dragon Dances helped him pressure the Porygon2 despite the Trick Room. aDrive stalled out long enough for the speed to return to normal, though it cost him most of his team. With only Muk left, he took down Zheng’s Arcanine and soloed the Porygon2 on the back of Taunt.
In game two, aDrive tried to readjust by bringing Togedemaru, likely for Fake Out/Encore pressure and another way to hit Tapu Fini. Despite that, he switched the Pikachu clone out to preserve the Air Balloon and went for a hard read into the Tapu Fini slot that didn’t pay off. aDrive tried his best to stay in it, but Togedemaru was more of a liability once the Trick Room went up. Zheng just had to play for the right positioning and eventually closed out the game with his Garchomp and Tapu Fini.
Game three got off to a wild start, as aDrive baited out the Tectonic Rage into his Muk. But instead of protecting to reduce damage, he switched in the Air Balloon Togedemaru and made Zheng waste his Z-move. And even though Trick Room went up, Togedemaru was able to apply Fake Out pressure. That, however, was a bluff. Instead, aDrive brought his Muk in safely, under Trick Room, against a Porygon2 and Tapu Fini. Zheng didn’t give up, though, and put himself in a good position with Gigalith. The only problem was aDrive brought in Togedemaru at the same time, forcing it out in fear of Gyarados. And once he burned the Trick Room, aDrive was able to knock out Zheng’s Porygon2 with a Hydro Vortex and flinch the Tapu Fini with a Zing Zap. While only the latter mattered, it was enough to seal the game in his favor and put him in the playoffs. Who would have thought?
Sejun Park v Wolfe Glick (2-1)
Many expected this set to be the Group A winner’s match. And even though it was the loser’s match instead, it was no less exciting. Both world champions were playing for their survival in the tournament, and the game started off with a fair amount of caution. Glick burned Park’s Z-attack by Protecting with Arcanine, while both players set up defensive screens to reduce incoming damage. Park double switched to try and get a better position, but it almost cost him. He brought his Arcanine into a Muddy Water from Glick’s Fini, but it missed that slot.
Glick eventually got both his Snorlax and Exeggutor in at the same time, setting him up for a potential Curse sweep. However, Park kept attacking into Snorlax, forcing him to Recycle just to stay healthy. Against a Metagross and Arcanine, Exeggutor couldn’t do much to touch either of Park’s Pokémon. The two continued repositioning, but Glick kept the upper hand with a clutch Blizzard survival from Snorlax.
In game two, Park went with a different strategy. By leading with Ninetails and Metagross, he could set up an Aurora Veil and let his attacker apply pressure safely. Glick then made a bad read and Flare Blitzed into an Arcanine switch in, costing him an opportunity to get big damage onto the Metagross. That proceeded to Meteor Mash Tapu Fini and notch an attack boost, while Glick set up a Light Screen. Eventually, Park was able to set up an Agility and proc the Weakness Policy on his Metagross. Thanks to those boosts, he could switch in his Tapu Lele to give Metagross’ Zen Headbutt even more power. From there, he could shut down the Trick Room with Taunt and take out Tapu Fini. Park still had all four of his Pokémon, and there was no way for Glick to win.
Game three would decide which world champion would go home with two losses, and it was tense from the start. The first big moment was when Snorlax lived both a Shattered Psyche and Zen Headbutt in Psychic terrain, but the latter attack scored a flinch. That basically ensured Snorlax was a gonner. But then an accuracy drop from earlier in the game caused Psychic to miss, giving Snorlax a chance to stay in the game with a Recycle. Then Fini comes through with a clutch Psychic survival on the switch and Glick found himself in a much better position. The two trade Tapus over the next two turns, and both lose another Pokémon shortly after.
And so the final stage was set. Both had an Arcanine, Glick had an Exeggutor and Park had a Metagross. Things seemed like they were wrapped up for Glick, but Arcanine failed to knock out Metagross with a Flare Blitz, instead activating its weakness policy and helping it KO Exeggutor. Despite that, Metagross was almost gone and Glick’s Arcanine could outlast his opponent’s. Unfortunately for Glick, he snarled into a protect, failing to knock out Metagross. Fortunately, his Arcanine could survive an Extreme Speed from Park. All it had to do was take out both Pokémon with another Snarl.
But whether it was a low roll or it would never do enough, Park’s Arcanine survived, letting him take the game on the next turn in one of the closest sets seen in VGC 2017. As a result, the reigning world champion was knocked out of the tournament. Park survived by the skin of his teeth.
Shoma Honami v Alex Ogloza (2-0)
Group B had a lot of hype to live up to considering the events of the first sets, but Honami and Ogloza put on a good show with two very aggressive teams. The two traded powerful attacks from the start, but Ogloza got Trick Room up and could easily finish off Honami’s Lele. Unfortunately for Ogloza, his Nihilego was then in an awkward position, since his Porygon2 wouldn’t be able to knock out Honami’s threatening Garchomp. With nothing to switch into, it went down to a pair of attacks. Granted, that gave Ogloza an opportunity to switch into Torkoal, which put a lot of pressure onto Honami — or so the audience thought. As it actually turned out, Honami’s Drifblim knew Rain Dance and was able to survive an Eruption and shut the turtle down. Then Honami went for Swords Dance on a switch and Recover from Ogloza, pretty much sealing game one as the Trick Room end. Ogloza had one last chance if he could nail a Sleep Powder, but luck wasn’t on his side.
Game two started with another trade (Lele for Lilligant), but Honami once again got the better end of the deal. Without a safe way to bring in Porygon2 (Pheromosa) to help Torkoal outspeed its opponents, Honami could leverage his Garchomp to threaten Ogloza’s Nihilego and Torkoal. Yet even once Porygon2 could come in safely, Torkoal couldn’t survive a Tectonic Rage from behind a Protect. There was still one hope for Ogloza, though. Pheromosa needed to miss a High Jump Kick. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t get it.
Markus Stadter v Enosh Shachar (1-2)
The next set was another very close match-up. In game one, Stadter was able to leverage the outstanding switching potential of his team to maintain an advantageous board position. At the same time, Persian and Arcanine weakened Shachar’s offensive power, making it even harder to pick up KOs. Despite this, Shachar chipped away at Stadter’s team until it was his Kartana and Tapu Lele up against Stadter’s Kartana and Tapu Fini. The only problem? Stadter’s Kartana was scarfed, meaning it couldn’t change moves. If it attacked the Kartana with Sacred Sword, it couldn’t KO the Lele. If it attacked Lele with Leaf Blade or Smart Strike, it couldn’t KO the Kartana. Pinned as he was, he lost game one.
Stadter’s gameplan worked a bit better in game two, however. He was able to bring in his Arcanine with a Parting Shot, eat up Shachar’s Z-attack and also his Lele’s Dazzling Gleam. Shachar surprised him by revealing Toxic on Arcanine, though, and dodging a Muddy Water helped him poison both Fini and Persian. Shachar’s win condition then became stalling out the game, but he gets a surprise of his own in the form of Gigavolt Havoc Tapu Koko. Stadter roasts his opponent’s Porygon2 and finishes it with a Moonblast. Shachar still has Kartana, but he rightfully fears a Hidden Power from Stadter’s Koko. He tries and fails to go for the double protect, letting his opponent clean up Lele and close the game out from there.
Game three saw a lot of similarities to the other games, with Stadter doing his best to reposition himself with Volt Switch and Parting Shot. The problems start for Stadter, though, when he’s forced to sacrifice his Persian to a Dazzling Gleam so he can Taunt Schahar’s Porygon2 one last time. He does have a Tapu Fini with two Calm Minds at that point, though, and is able to take out Porygon2 with Muddy Water and some help from Tapu Koko. Shachar, meanwhile, has the terrain advantage, which lets him threaten both Stadter’s Arcanine and Tapu Koko. The real surprise comes from his fast Fini, though, which is able to to take out Arcanine before it can even move. Lele sets up a Calm Mind of its own for free, despite Stadter taking his Fini with his own. From that point, it all came down to whether Stadter correctly read into whether Shachar will Detect with his Kartana. He read wrong, his Koko dropped to Lele’s +1 Psychic and Shachar took the set on the next turn with a Leaf Blade.
Markus Stadter v Alex Ogloxa (2-0)
Group B decided to play its loser’s match first, but mostly so Stadter could finally get to bed (it was past 5 a.m. in his timezone). Still, Stadter didn’t let any potential exhaustion affect the game. In game one of his set against Ogloza, the YouTube made an early gamble to Leaf Storm Stadter’s Tapu Fini while switching in his Tapu Bulu. The Grassy Terrain would have ensured the knockout, but Stadter simply protected. At the same time, he’d brought Arcanine in, which threatened both of Ogloza’s Pokémon. From that point forward, while Ogloza fought to take control of the game back, he couldn’t do anything to stop Stadter’s Snorlax (though a zero-turn freeze probably gave Stadter a small heart attack).
Ogloza tried to mix things up a bit in game two and goes all in with his Nihilego, dodging a fatal Muddy Water and knocking out Stadter’s Fini early. Still, Snorlax continued to be the big problem for Ogloza, which cursed up and started doing massive damage. Ogloza eventually had to gamble on knocking out Snorlax with a sun-boosted Inferno Overdrive, but he didn’t get close enough. Quick Claw Mudsdale once again might have scared Stadter for another second, but it wasn’t enough to help Torkoal get the KO. Stadter took game two and knocked Ogloza out of the tournament.
Shoma Honami v Enosh Shachar (1-2)
Finally, the final set between a world champion and one of the best team-builders in the US. Shachar starts off with a big Z-attack off onto Honami’s Lele on the first turn of game one, just narrowly missing the knock out, while the world champion launches two resisted attacks into a Tapu Lele switch in. Pheromosa on Honami’s side escapes into Gyarados, but Arcanine targets down Lele and simply hits the other slot with a Psychic. Shachar’s Lele then survives another attack from Pheromosa (which came into the empty slot) and helps finish it off with Arcanine. Honami does get a Dragon Dance off with Gyarados, and he later set up a clutch Swords Dance on Garchomp that let him take out Porygon2. But with Kartana in the back for Shachar, he was able to clean up the almost-fainted Gyarados with Extreme Speed and survives an Earthquake to eventually take the knock out.
Game two started off much better for Honami, who is able to scare Porygon2 off the field with Pheromosa and get a knock out on Arcanine by doubling into it. Shachar’s Lele brings Pheromosa down to its Focus Sash with a Dazzling Gleam and gets a free switch into Kartana, but it isn’t enough. Honami simply repositions next turn with a switch and U-turn and doesn’t take much damage. And since Unburden made Drifblim faster than Kartana, it forced it to switch out. At first it seems like Shachar makes a good play by switching into Porygon2, which is immune to Shadow Ball, but Honami covered the option with a Lele Psychic. Thanks to the Choice Specs, it does more than half, meaning Shachar won’t get an opportunity to set up Trick Room. There was no hope for him after that, despite scoring a pair of knock outs.
That means everything comes down to game three. The winner will advance to the playoffs and the loser is forced to fight for the second seed. Honami draws first blood when, after some repositioning, he gets a special defense drop onto Shachar’s Tapu Fini with Psychic. He takes it out a turn later, but not before Shachar gets a pair of Muddy Water accuracy drops that prove to be crucial. Arcanine then survives a Gyarados Waterfall with barely any HP and is able to get a knock out onto Tapu Lele. The downside is Arcanine also faints, but it does give Shachar a free switch following a Trick Room from Porygon2. With Shachar’s Tapu Lele on the field next to Porygon2, Honami has to survive four turns at a speed disadvantage. He loses his Garchomp in short order and then misses the only attack that could keep him in the game, a Waterfall onto Tapu Lele. After that, Shachar is able to mop up the Pheromosa and Gyarados to advance to the playoffs as a number one seed, defeating a world champion in the process.
After all the upsets and crazy games, today’s final leg of the tournament won’t disappoint. Aaron Zheng and Sejun Park are set for a rematch to decide who advances to play Enosh Shachar, and Markus Stadter will play Shoma Honami for the right to battle aDrive. Once the playoffs are set, it’s anyone’s guess who will make it the rest of the way. Tune in on One Nation of Gamers’ Twitch channel at 5 p.m. EST to see what happens for yourself.