Quack To Quack To Quack: A Triple International Top 8 Report

Art by Jovistron

Introduction:

Hi friends, Tommy Valentine Cooleen (@TmanVGC) here. I’m a VGC Player from the New York/New Jersey area, but I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world this season to play the circuit. As of now, I’m currently 2nd in CP for North America and 2nd in CP Globally. I’ve Top Cut all three International Championships that have taken place so far this season, finishing in Top 8 at all three tournaments. Shockingly enough, I decided to use the same team that got me the original finish in London, albeit with a few changes. I really want to go in-depth as to why I made the changes, how the team works, and the quirks and oddities of the team along the way.

“Ducks”, as they’ve affectionately been labelled, have intrigued me since Day 1 of the format. In the early days of a format, I’ve always believed that it’s a good idea to take advantage of the fragile state of the metagame by overwhelming primitive and flawed teambuilding with fast consistent damage output. Rain is an archetype that has always had the potential to be really overwhelming for unprepared teams. With the addition of new Z-Moves and new weather setters, Rain looked really interesting early on.

I noticed very quickly that this format lacked options for speed control. The most popular form of speed control was going to be Trick Room because of the consistency that Porygon2 provided for most teams. On the London version of the team, I decided that the best way to handle this was with my own Trick Room mode. Muk has always been a really strong part of the team because of the way Rain deals with threats to Muk, like Garchomp and Arcanine. The ability to change the speed tier I wanted Muk to play in was also really beneficial. The team’s TR mode isn’t terribly slow, given the other Pokémon usually seen on Trick Room teams such as Araquanid, Gigalith, and Snorlax.

The only Pokémon that changed between the two tournaments was Tapu Bulu changing to Buzzwole. Both Pokémon dealt with specific threats that I expected to see at their given tournaments, while also giving me strong physical attackers with interesting defensive capabilities. Tapu Bulu helped me deal with the overwhelming amount of Gastrodon early on, while Buzzwole helped me deal with the rise in Gigalith leading up to Melbourne (and oh man did it rise).

The Squad:

London:

Pelipper @ Focus Sash  
Ability: Drizzle  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Scald  
- Hurricane  
- Tailwind  
- Protect

Melbourne:

Pelipper @ Focus Sash  
Ability: Drizzle  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Brine  
- Hurricane  
- Tailwind  
- Protect

Pelipper getting Drizzle was one of the things I was most hyped for going into the format. I was even more enamoured with the bird when I saw the lack of speed control in the format, but saw that it still kept Tailwind. Access to Tailwind was the selling point when building the original team, as it gave me a lot of versatility in speed manipulation where the rest of the format was lacking. Being able to use Golduck to pressure KOs allowed me to set up Tailwind for Tapu Bulu and Pelipper itself. Pelipper being faster allowed me to apply even more pressure as now two of my Pokémon become faster than both of my opponent's Pokémon. I can then fire off rain-boosted Scalds at things, probably pushing for KOs.

The change from Scald to Brine was a bit of an interesting one. With teammates like Golduck, Tapu Koko, and Buzzwole, I often found Pelipper in situations where the opponent's Pokémon would be under half health and Pelipper would barely miss a KO. The most notable of these situations is against Porygon2. The biggest trade-off is missing KOs on bulkier Arcanines among other things. The thing is, with Scald from Golduck being the same power as Pelipper’s, if you weren’t picking up a KO with a Scald double target, Brine’s not missing out on those similar KOs anyways. Brine was at times lacklustre, but that’s mostly because of the extremely large amount of Gigalith I played against. Once sand went up, you could forget about picking up a KO on Porygon2, and Scald would give me more consistent damage output in Sand. In most other situations, Brine was very strong and definitely changed the way I was able to set win conditions.


London:

Golduck @ Waterium Z  
Ability: Swift Swim  
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Scald  
- Hydro Pump  
- Ice Beam  
- Protect

Melbourne:

Golduck @ Waterium Z  
Ability: Swift Swim  
EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 28 SpD / 124 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Scald  
- Hydro Pump  
- Ice Beam  
- Protect

For some reason, in my haste to get my team ready for London, it never crossed my mind that I should add bulk to Golduck. It was a really silly mistake that thankfully didn’t end up costing me, but I definitely should have added the bulk then. The new spread outspeeds everything in rain up to Adamant Scarf Kartana. The added bulk was mostly general, however needing further optimisation. The Special Defense points just gave me some better rolls on some things I had calculated at the time.

Moveslot choices on Golduck are pretty straightforward. Hydro Pump is there to give Hydro Vortex a higher base power than Scald does. I keep Scald because I value the option of having an accurate way to push out damage every turn. Others have suggested I drop Scald or Ice Beam for Encore, but with Scald being the most used move on Golduck because of it’s reliability, I have a hard time seeing myself dropping it. Ice Beam is there specifically to help deal with Garchomp more efficiently. The team functions best when Koko can be firing off electric attacks, so being able to KO Garchomp so that Koko and Muk are in safer situations in very important. Not forcing yourself to have to Dazzle Garchomps on a double or waste Hydro Vortex on Garchomp is huge.

I also want to talk about how I time Hydro Vortex. You’ll often see me Hydro Vortex within the first few turns of the game. If that’s the case, it’s usually because I have no Pokémon that I need to set aside Hydro Vortex for, in order to pick up a KO. Clicking Hydro Vortex early allows me to put my foot on the gas while I either set up Tailwind with Pelipper, or make switches to things like Tapu Koko so I can start Thundering early. It’s not always about what it hits, but more about applying pressure that I can snowball with later on.

Hydro Vortexing into Protect is also an interesting situation. Often you’ll do enough damage to still pick up a KO with something like Scald or Thunder the following turn, depending on the Pokémon. The most notable time this pops up is against opposing Tapu Koko. Since most Tapu Koko take around 50% from Hydro Vortex through Protect, the following turn you can target it with Scald and pick up a KO. The reason you’re Hydro Vortexing Koko in the first place is because of accuracy. Regular Hydro Pump would also KO a standard 4 HP Tapu Koko, but having 2 Turns of accurate moves is often more efficient. Never did I ever think I would bring Golduck to an International level tournament, but it’s been a very consistent part of both runs.


Tapu Koko @ Life Orb  
Ability: Electric Surge  
Level: 50  
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
Modest Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk  
- Thunder  
- Volt Switch  
- Dazzling Gleam  
- Protect

Tapu Koko is the only member of the team that remained completely unchanged from London. If you’ve asked me about this team in the past, you’ve definitely heard me say that the ducks are not the reason you run rain. Thunder Koko is hands down my favourite part of running rain. Thunder allows Tapu Koko’s damage output to reach an entirely different ceiling. It transforms Koko into a mon that does 50-60% consistently to a Pokémon pushing for KOs every turn. In Electric Terrain, you’re able to pick up KOs on many of the more frail Pokémon in the format. You even have good odds to KO things like Tapu Lele, Hariyama, and the more offensively invested variants of Arcanine. Outside Electric Terrain, you can KO things like Araquanid and Tapu Fini (the latter being a damage roll, but one that is often in your favour). Dazzling Gleam is pretty much a given, providing the team it’s only spread move.

Volt Switch, on the other hand, is also phenomenal. Using Volt Switch to manipulate which Pokémon are on the field when Trick Room goes up or using it to set rain is so crucial to how the team plays. Volt Switch doing a good 25-40% to most of the metagame is also fantastic. It sets up opposing Pokémon to fall to things like Hydro Vortex, Scald on weaker targets, or even Thunder when Koko comes back in. Volt Switch is also the primary way of dealing with Focus Sash Kartana. The idea is to Volt Switch off of Kartana into something that could take hits from it better (likely Muk, P2, or Buzzwole), and then hopefully outspeed it with Koko or Golduck. Alternatively, you might take it out with the Pokémon you Volt Switched into.


London:

Porygon2 @ Eviolite  
Ability: Download  
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 20 SpA / 76 SpD / 4 Spe  
Sassy Nature  
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
- Tri Attack  
- Toxic  
- Recover  
- Trick Room

Melbourne:

Porygon2 @ Eviolite  
Ability: Download  
EVs: 252 HP / 132 Def / 124 SpD  
Sassy Nature  
IVs: 0 Spe  
- Toxic  
- Return
- Recover  
- Trick Room

Sao Paulo:

Porygon2 @ Eviolite  
Ability: Analytic
EVs: 252 HP / 180 Def / 20 SpA /52 SpD  
Sassy Nature  
IVs: 0 Spe  
- Thunderbolt
- Ice Beam
- Recover  
- Trick Room

Porygon2 went from the most important member of the team in London, to by far the least important Pokémon in Melbourne. My London run featured a lot of slower, grindy teams from my opponents, where Toxic was absolutely essential. Having Scald on Pelipper also allowed for it to act as a more of a standalone mon when I defaulted to my Koko/P2/Muk/Pelipper mode. This mode allowed me to support Koko, but still play under Trick Room when necessary. I often found in Melbourne I didn’t have much desire to go into Trick Room. If my opponent wanted to set their own Trick Room; I could stop it using a combination of any of the faster Pokémon on my team, OR play into it by Cursing with Muk to underspeed my opponent's Pokémon. Porygon2 wasn’t a bad Pokémon to have on the team, it just didn’t feel necessary for many matchups.


London:

Muk-Alola @ Figy Berry  
Ability: Gluttony  
Level: 50  
EVs: 188 HP / 252 Atk / 44 Def / 20 SpD / 4 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
IVs: 31 Spe
- Poison Jab  
- Knock Off  
- Curse  
- Protect

Melbourne:

Muk-Alola @ Figy Berry  
Ability: Gluttony  
Level: 50  
EVs: 188 HP / 252 Atk / 44 Def / 20 SpD / 4 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
IVs: 13 Spe  
- Poison Jab  
- Knock Off  
- Curse  
- Protect

The spread for this Muk was given to me about an hour or two before registration in London by the lovely @PokeAlex. I’ll be completely honest and say that I have little idea what the bulk specifically does to this day, but I’ve been playing with it for so long now that I’m used to most of the mental damage calculations. The big change that I made immediately after London was the Speed IV. Having 13 Speed IVs allowed Muk to be as fast as possible (still outspeed things like Porygon2), but underspeed Araquanid after a Curse. When Trick Room went up, I was able to move before it and hit it with Poison Jab, or Curse again to gain Defense boosts in anticipation of a Hydro Vortex.

This slot on the team has always been one that I use to handle opposing Island Guardians in addition to Trick Room. The reason I originally decided on Muk was because I wanted a switch in for Tapu Lele's Shattered Psyche. As the only member that can take Psychic moves from Lele, it became a crucial part of any of my gameplans against it. There’s not too much else to say about Muk except to praise the utility of Knock Off. In Melbourne particularly I lost a lot of Game 1s, but in those games I was able to find crucial items on Kartanas for instance, to help solidify plans for Games 2 and 3.


London:

Tapu Bulu @ Miracle Seed  
Ability: Grassy Surge  
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Atk / 108 Def / 4 SpD / 52 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
- Wood Hammer  
- Stone Edge  
- Whirlwind  
- Protect

Melbourne:

Buzzwole @ Assault Vest  
Ability: Beast Boost  
EVs: 20 HP / 84 Atk / 4 Def / 252 SpD / 148 Spe  
Adamant Nature  
- Superpower  
- Leech Life  
- Ice Punch  
- Poison Jab

Tapu Bulu was a really strong part of the London team despite only clicking two moves almost the entire tournament (I clicked Stone Edge once against Michelle’s Araquanid and missed, and once against Sekiam’s Celesteela to break a substitute without fainting to recoil at 2%. Whirlwind also did something terribly stupid the only time I clicked it against Michelle so I try to block that out). Wood Hammer was just able to do so much damage on its own, and it carried Bulu through the entirety of that tournament.

When looking at Melbourne though, I know I needed some help dealing with opposing Kartana. I also need a more consistent way to deal with the ever-growing threat of Gigalith. Buzzwole being there round after round to pressure Gigalith teams was phenomenal. Against Garchomp, it was able to sit there and take hits before dunking it with Ice Punch (except that one time on stream, whoops). I’ve found the consistency I gain from Assault Vest to be amazing. With Assault Vest, Buzzwole can eat Tapu Lele Psychics out of Psychic Terrain, take 2 Dazzling Gleams from Tapu Koko, as well as taking far less general Special damage. This forces your opponent to whittle it down over time. Protected by rain, there’s often situations where Buzzwole can soak up damage while firing off huge hits. Assault Vest also allows Buzzwole to dive deeper into its wide move coverage pool. Buzzwole was definitely the most important Pokémon in Melbourne.

Using the team:

Leads:

+Alola Form (yes everything)

Having Volt Switch pressure made Tapu Koko the most versatile lead for this team by far. With Porygon2, you can Volt Switch into Muk / Bulu / etc. and set up Trick Room. Pelipper allows you to go on the offensive and start Thundering right away. I generally only lead this if I need to set up Tailwind, and then decide which mon I want to bring in on Turn 1.

Bulu, Muk, and Buzzwole are all reactionary leads to specific types of teams that you have to gameplan on the fly. For example, a lot of the Lilligant Torkoal stuff I would lead Muk / Tapu Koko so that I could pressure a KO on the Lilligant on turn 1 with Muk, deny Sleep Powder without a switch to reset terrain, and Volt Switch into rain to stop Torkoal. Muk / Koko is also strong against opposing Trick Room teams. You can either start Cursing on Turn 1 while either Volt Switching with Koko, or fire off Dazzles into things like Hariyama.

Buzzwole / Koko is generally used for Gigalith teams. This lead would threaten the Gigalith on Turn 1, so you can get a headstart in the weather war. The only time where this was a problem was running into Gigalith paired with Twinkle Tackle Tapu Koko specifically. Twinkle Tackle has a chance to KO both Tapu Koko (most of the time) or Buzzwole (50% of the time), and otherwise just outright KOs the ducks with Thunderbolt. It’s still a very potent lead that capitalises on leading into Buzzwole weak Pokémon.

The most interesting lead by far though is Golduck / Tapu Koko. I actually lead this a lot because it gives you a lot of options. Tapu Koko can Volt Switch into Pelipper as you set rain and either fire off a Hydro Vortex or Scald, or you protect to get the Speed increase. You can also switch out Golduck into Pelipper and start clicking Thunder. There are some more shenanigans you can pull off with Volt Switch, but these are definitely the most common scenarios.

+

Double Duck. Standard rain lead, revamped with Tailwind support and a Z-Move. It’s all about keeping your board ahead, plus knowing how to backtrack and adjust when necessary. There’s a lot of turns where you can overwhelm your opponent with offense. However, knowing when and how to reposition is vital. It’s really easy to fall behind with such an aggressive lead if you’re not careful.

Threats

/
The Pokémon themselves aren’t that scary, but the items they hold are what you fear. Assault Vest Kartana, as well as Assault Vest / Focus Sash Tapu Koko can cause huge problems for the team. These particular variants are able to stick around for longer periods of time and dish out tons of damage.

+
Snorlax on its own can be annoying, but it’s manageable. MimiLax, however, can be troublesome. Z Destiny Bond Mimikyu essentially forces a mind game on Turn 2 to see if Snorlax Protects. Most of the time it will, but in order to stop Trick Room, you have to give up a Pokémon to Destiny Bond. It’s a playable matchup, it’s just really, really ugly.

The Tournament:

Melbourne

Day 1:

R1: Nihal Noor @UchihaX96 W
Alola Form

R2: Joshua Ware W
Alola Form

R3: Labhaoisa Cromie @louthepikachu L

R4: Harris ? W

R5: Paul Clay W

R6: William Tansley @StarKO90 L

R7: Jonathan Mercado W

R8: ??? (Name got smeared in my book, think it was Su?) W

R9: Martin Tan @mewmartVGC W

Day 2:

R1: Wolfe Glick @WolfeyGlick LWW
Alola Form

R2: Luke Curtale @DawgPkmn WLW
Alola Form

R3: Miguel Marti de la Torre @SekiamPKM WW

R4: Nico Davide Cognetta @DesuVGC LWL
(removed)

R5: Chuppa Cross @ChuppaVGC WW

Day 3:

Top 8: Ben Kyriakou @tapu_kyriakou LWL

Sao Paulo:

Day 1:

R1: Jade Cardoso LWW
Alola Form

This was shockingly my scariest match of Day 1.

Game 1: I got off to a nice lead by matching his Tailwind and throwing Hydro Vortex into the protecting Lele, putting it into Scald range. As Lele goes down, he brings in Salamence, to which I respond to by bringing in Koko on my Pelipper slot. Shocked to see Dragon Claw almost take out my Golduck from 60%, I decide to play it safe and Thunder the Mence which should have gotten rid of it, but it was revealed to be Assault Vest. It took 60% from Life Orb Electric Terrain Thunder, and then proceeded to KO both Golduck and Tapu Koko with an EQ, doing a whopping 90% to my Koko that had only taken Life Orb recoil. This left me with no way to touch his Celesteela.

Game 2: I Hydro Vortexed the Lele on turn 1 again, this time finding a Salamence switch in. I was actually extremely happy with this as it put Salamence into range of Golduck’s Ice Beam. From here, I was able to take out the Salamence and Aerodactyl as Koko cleaned up the rest.

Game 3 had Porygon2 and Tapu Lele lead into Double Duck. After Hydro Vortexing Tapu Lele with strong results Games 1 and 2, I knew he’d be expecting it again, so I doubled into the Porygon2 with Hydro Vortex and Brine (which was a KO I don’t get without Scald on that Porygon2 based on damage from Vortex). Without speed control, I was able to rush him down with Ducks and Koko rather easily.

R2: David Samanez LWW

Game 1 was pretty back and forth with the threat of Porygon2’s Trick Room looming against my opponent. Snorlax was his answer to it if he could play around Buzzwole. Game 1 came down to my Buzzwole and Porygon2 against a Snorlax at 60% and a Ninetales that had just been Paralyzed by Porygon2’s Thunderbolt while in Trick Room.  I go for Poison Jab into the Ninetales and Trick Room, hoping to pick up a KO and reverse TR so that Buzzwole would outspeed the Snorlax again. Then the Ninetales (which undersped Snorlax due to being Paralyzed) got a double freeze on my Porygon2 and Buzzwole with Blizzard to knock me out of Game 1.

Game 2 had me dancing Muk on and off the field dodging Will-O-Wisps. I eventually called a Shadow Ball into my low health Golduck and proceeded to Protect and Knock Off the Drifblim for a KO near the end of Tailwind for a safe endgame.

Game 3 I managed to steal a bit of luck by critting Hydro Vortex into the protecting Lele. Bringing Lele down to just under 50% was actually huge as that allowed me to play much more openly with my Muk as being burned would no longer stop me from picking off the opposing Tapu Lele. I just played safely from there as I eventually exhausted all his switching options with the onslaught of damage coming out from my Pokemon.

R3: Albert Bos WW

I knew how good of a player Albert was, having won a regional this year already, but this matchup can be very gross because of how Marowak affects my game plan. If Koko and a water type are ever on the field, switching in his Marowak is very unsafe but often necessary.

Game 1 and 2 had the same Turn 1: I Hydro Vortex his Koko for a KO as he Supersonic Skystrikes my Golduck for a KO. I bring in Tapu Koko as he brings in Gyarados as well in both games. In the first game, I called the Gyarados to Protect (as Gyarados in TR seemed to be the optimal position for him there) and go for Thunder and Brine into the Porygon2. I got really pumped when Thunder did over half because it’s something that’s dependent on the Porygon2 investment. Without the KO, the position would’ve been much tougher. From there I just KO Marowak in 2 turns and whittle away the Gyarados.

In Game 2, we play to the same Turn 2 position, but this time the Gyarados switches out into Marowak which eats a Dazzling Gleam + Brine abruptly ending Game 2. The set was over in exactly 7 minutes but it’s such a volatile matchup and really just gets decided on some luck on guessing the Marowak slots correctly, so no shame on Albert.

R4: Brian Zourdani WW

Game 1: I was put into the worst possible spot as I tried to double into Kartana with Volt Switch + Knock Off, only to have the Tapu Fini switch to Togedemaru and Kartana Bloom Dooms into my Koko. I managed to get lucky however when a few turns later, Brian mistakenly doesn’t target my Muk with Encore to lock me into Protect, allowing my Buzzwole to pick up the KO on to Kartana with a Leech Life that it had been Encored into. Knock Off that same turn had taken Togedemaru down to 40%, which allowed +1 Leech Life to pick up a KO on the Togedemaru, boosting Buzzwole to +2. After Kartana was knocked out, Tapu Fini was sent in and fired off a Moonblast on the turn Togedemaru went down, and it did a whopping 95% to my Buzzwole, revealing its Choice Specs. Luckily, Fini came in too late, and my Encore wore off. Knowing that he couldn’t protect, I went for a +2 Poison Jab into the Fini scoring a KO from full health. From here, Buzzwole was free to take it’s 4th KO on the Gigalith and steal an improbable Game 1.

Game 2: He lead Fini + Kartana again into Buzzwole and Tapu Koko. I make the super risky play of going for Thunder out of rain while predicting Togedemaru not to come in. Thunder connects, and he loses his only out to dealing with my Buzzwole. I told Brian this was a Game 2 play I felt I could make with a game lead. It’s a tough matchup in my opinion, so being able to lock up a game that early was a risk I was willing to take.

R5: Jairo Saboya WW

I don’t remember too much from this game besides that it was a very poor matchup for Jairo. He didn’t have much to take hits from my rain mode with both Golduck and Tapu Koko doing so much damage.

Game 2 he tried to limit the damage output from Golduck by using Parting Shot on it, but knowing that +0 Hydro Vortex does around 200% to standard 4 HP Tapu Koko, I felt super safe going for a -1 Hydro Vortex into his Koko, which did indeed pick up the KO. We both agreed there wasn’t much he could do without playing out of his mind and I moved to a quick 5-0.

R6: William Tansley @StarKO90 LL

Tansley is a good friend of mine and I was a bit upset that I had to play him once again after playing him just a round earlier in Melbourne. He was running the same team as Brian, but he played both games extremely safely. Good use of Togedemaru much shut down my Tapu Koko in both games, to the point where I would have needed to call the Togedemaru switching in to take it out efficiently.

He also used some well timed double Protects to Encore me into troublesome attacks which would set me back 2-3 turns. Had I gotten a little bit luckier on my Superpower targets, or if I had brought Muk either game, I likely would’ve been in a much better spot. Nonetheless, I take my first loss of the day and fall to my friend once again.

R7: Vivian Oliveira WLW

This was one of my most nerve wracking sets of the day. My friend Ben Kyriakou had lost to her earlier, and gave me the advice that she was a very safe player. She definitely showed this in these games as she consistently made safe switches to prevent me from taking KOs while whittling away at me with Tapu Fini and Celesteela.

Game 1: I was able to score an early KO on Porygon2 with Hydro Vortex Brine which left her with few too little Pokemon to stage a comeback. Game 2: A combination of Volt Switch + Hydro Vortex failed to pick up a KO on her Porygon2. This set me back, but I was still very much in control. I managed to throw away this game as it came down to Celesteela at 45% without Leftovers against Buzzwole at around 55%. I thought her play would be to flamethrower twice because she could 2hko me if Superpower failed to KO and it activated her berry. In fear of this, I Leech Life the Celesteela in order to chip it into Superpower range without activating the Figy Berry. She instead goes for Leech Seed and is able to heal back up to 60% where I realized that it was definitely safer just rolling for the Superpower KO. I go for it hoping for a crit, and miss the KO by about 5%, showing that I could’ve KOed it if I had just gone for the initial Superpower. Upset, I still knew this was my set to win, and continued into Game 3.

Game 3: She lead Porygon2 + Celesteela, and I knew that she would not let me KO her P2 that easily so I doubled up into Celesteela with Hydro Vortex and Brine, bringing it down to about 40% after the Berry. I was able to keep putting out constant damage every turn as she was forced to take lots of damage on switches to keep her Pokmon alive. Eventually my Tapu Koko was finally able to KO her Celesteela with a Thunder after missing a few KOs on it with various chip damage due to Special Defense boosts throughout the set. While I was upset with my play from Game 2, I was still quite happy with myself that I was able to stay composed after a near fatal error.

R8: Jean Paul Lopez WW

For those that don’t know, there was a re-pairing in this round at the lower tables, and they tried to stop all the matches in progress. Like most of the top tables, we agreed to play out the end of our Game 1, then wait for further instruction, keeping the result of that game if the pairing wasn't changed. Jean Paul wasn’t required to do this so shoutout to him for being an honorable opponent in that regard.

The matchup was a rather tricky one for me as I needed to play around a bunch of troublesome Pokemon all at once. Tapu Koko and Kartana (Assault Vest) could do so much damage if they were on the field for a long time, with Gyarados also being able to pose some threat due to the ducks not doing much damage to it, and the physical attackers eating Intimidate.

I thought he’d expect ducks Game 1, so I went for the Physical Trick Room option instead. This worked out nicely as I was able to take out the Snorlax rather early with Buzzwole while finding the Kartana item via Volt Switch damage, then later confirmed by Knock Off.

Game 2: I thought I had found myself falling into a hole with him leading Gyarados and Snorlax again, but this time into Ducks. I fired off a bunch of water attacks into the Snorlax. He capitalized on this by throwing a Hydro Vortex into my Golduck and picking it off from around 60% on turn 2. We start trading chip damage on our Pokemon until it was my full health Koko and Buzzwole against his Koko and a low health Gyarados with a mystery mon in back. He leaves Gyara in as I go for Dazzling Gleam to pick up a KO there, and Koko protects against the incoming Poison Jab. When the Kartana came in after the KO, I knew I had the game barring a Dazzling Gleam crit or a potential Guillotine. As Leaf Blade is blocked by my Koko’s protect, Buzzwole eats 40% from Dazzling Gleam before picking up a Superpower KO on the opposing Kartana, leaving the opposing Tapu Koko in single target Dazzling Gleam range.

Jean Paul was so kind, even in defeat and through a very apparent language barrier and was really one of the nicest people I met while in Sao Paulo. We took a picture together on the side of the venue before I walked up to turn in my match slip for my 3rd straight International Top Cut!

Day 2:

Top 8: Javier Senorena LL
Alola Form

Having a full day in between Round 8 and Top Cut was interesting as it gave us a lot of time to prepare for the matchup, but also left me feeling really uneasy all day Saturday. Going into the match, never did I expect Javier to not bring his Muk, but that’s exactly what happened in Game 1.

Game 1: He lead Garchomp + Porygon2 into Porygon2 and Muk. I took the risky play and went for Ice Beam into Garchomp which correctly switched into Ninetales as I switched Muk into Buzzwole. Not going for Trick Room here guaranteed that he gets Aurora Veil up which I know from practice can be very troublesome. I knew that I could potentially come back if I could get into a safer spot in Trick Room, so when Tapu Lele switches in on his Porygon2 slot on the Aurora Veil turn, I see my opportunity. I know that he won’t Psychic my Buzzwole with a potential Muk switch in, and I also know I can take a Moonblast, so I decide to leave Buzzwole in to Poison Jab the Ninetales for a KO and Trick Room. Tapu Lele does go for Psychic, but it’s into my 70% Porygon2. Unfortunately, he picks up the critical hit and Ninetales is able to KO Porygon2 from 20%, rendering my Beast Boost useless in front of Tapu Lele. It was a pretty rough way to lose game 1, but I’ve been fortunate all tournament so far so I tried to brush it off. I did however tilt a little bit as I got a bit nervous. I

knew that by bringing Buzzwole and Muk in Game 1, he’d likely bring Arcanine Game 2. My plan for this was to bring Pelipper and Golduck, but I abandoned that in favor for the lone Pelipper. With this, Javier was able to play smart, using Arcanines Will-O-Wisp pressure to force switches from Muk and Buzzwole until I was forced to give up status on both of them. From there, an Aurora Veil went up in the late game and it became impossible for me to break through his team. Props to Javier for Game 2 as he made the plays he needed to make every turn to win.

My run ends here on my 3rd consecutive 7th place finish. As much as that hurts, I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to make it that far at all 3 tournaments, and that all I can do is focus on the next one.

Wrap Up:

These last 3 Internationals have been some of the best experiences of my life. It goes well beyond Pokémon, as I was able to meet so many of the people I didn’t know I’d ever meet. It was truly a magical experience and I don’t regret one second of it. Despite becoming very bored with the team, it continues to be a commanding force that should continue to see success until the metagame does some major shifting. North America’s Internats should be interesting, and I’ll gauge the viability of ducks remaining strong against the metagame over the coming months, but if I had to make a guess, I’d wager that ducks will continue to be a strong play going into Indy.

Shoutouts:

Just want to shout out a few people who made this all possible. My second family @MajorBowman_, @JenBamo, and @TheGr8VGC. You guys have always been there for me and I owe this all to you. Bigggggggg Shoutout to all the Pear. You guys are truly why I love playing this game and I can’t wait to see you all again.Team UK and Germany, you’ve become the main reason why I love to travel the world because doing so with people you really enjoy being around is truly something special. Specifically, I want to thank @UchihaX96 for everything you’ve done for me. It really means the world to me. S2P!

  • Griffin Coggin

    1. That artwork is amazing
    2. Super good job dude! Buzzwole has always been a personal favourite of mine, so good to see him go to multiple internats.
    3. Good luck at the next IC!

  • Ambicide

    Very in-depth and inspiring article! So much so that I would love to try out the team on battle spot. Is there a chance of posting a QR code for the team with Buzzwole? 😊

  • Atmos

    This is quacked up.