Kiss from a Rose – Zelda Challenge and Rose Tower Top Cut Report

Written by Nicholas Borghi (@NicholasBorghi)
Art by Logan Castro (@TallboyLogan)

Well, it’s been a while since I last wrote a report. Dang, it’s been a while since I last did well at an event, haha. My last big performance was 2017 Memphis Regionals, where I finished in yet another Top 8 placing, having lost to the eventual champion in Brady Smith. I’ve gone X-2 at some Regionals since, but ever since Memphis, Pokémon and VGC specifically have been a very big struggle.

College has taken up a huge chunk of my time, so I haven’t able to dedicate myself to Pokémon the way I used to back in Highschool (when I was arguably at my peak performance). Swimming and academics have taken over my life, and rightfully so. I tried really hard to do well at Atlantic City Regionals back in September, but I finished with a 5-2 Record, Top 16 finish, after a 5-0 start.


Going into the weekend of Toronto Regionals, I had nothing. I was stuck, panicking about how I would do at the Regional—which was 3 days away—without having a team ready.

My best friend, Calvin Foster (Calvonix), rocked up to me with a team he had been laddering with and was convinced it could do well. This being 2 days before the event, I was naturally skeptical; however, without a team planned, I rolled with it.

We peaked at 5th on the Showdown ladder the day before I was set to leave for Toronto Regionals. I felt amazing with this team, and it was honestly so much fun. I hadn’t taken laddering seriously since VGC 2015, when I hit #1 before Lancaster Regionals. Honest to God, the 2 days I spent in call with Calvin laddering may have been the best time I’ve had playing Pokémon in years. Love you, brother.

The Team

Now, I did not build this team. I have absolutely no idea who built it. Calvin does, but he never told me. I know Lyam Guerts (Absurdity) ran the same 6 at Malmö Regionals the weekend before, but I only found out about that as I was writing this report, haha.

The Pokémon are named after my NPA 9 teammates on the Birds, because I absolutely love them and I’ve made some great new friends.

Now, let’s get down and dirty.
Rental Code: 0000-0001-TL1W-MC

The Team

Rental Code

AhicodemTG (Togekiss) @ Scope Lens
Ability: Super Luck
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 148 Def / 4 SpA / 20 SpD / 100 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Protect
– Air Slash
– Dazzling Gleam
– Follow Me

Togekiss is a really, really good Pokemon. There’s not much else to it, if I’m going to be honest. The offensive Togekiss set, dubbed CritKiss, has really died down as of late. That’s in all honesty due to the introduction of Lapras into the metagame, which forced a lot of the Togekiss to fall to a more supportive role. However, it’s hard to deny just how good a Pokémon that packs a punch can be.

I have absolutely no idea what the EV spread does, or why it’s Modest with only 4 SpA investment. It’s a spread that was passed to me that had a really good chunk of bulk but still functioned offensively, and that was truly all I needed. Protect was chosen because it honestly just matches how I wanted the Pokémon to be played. I could have had Heat Wave as an extra Fire-type coverage move, but then I couldn’t effectively play Togekiss in the bulky-offensive way I would have liked.

Named AhicodemTG after the new friends made thru NPA, Ahicodem and LeunamTG. Love you guys <3

Normal Sprite

GeniusRaghav (Indeedee-F) (F) @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Psychic Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 28 Def / 228 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Protect
– Psychic
– Follow Me
– Safeguard

Indeedee is a weird Pokémon to me. It has a bunch of factors that make it really, really cool, but it seems to be lacking something that would make it a top tier Pokémon, and I honestly am not sure what that factor is.

Like I said before, I’m unsure what the HP and Defense investment does. Probably just generalized bulk; I don’t expect it to be anything insane. The Speed is to hit a 147 stat, which allows it to outspeed the extremely crowded 145 tier, as well as the combo of Gyarados and Milotic, sitting at 146. This allows me to get a Safeguard up vs a potential 146 Speed Coil Hypnosis Milotic. Safety Goggles is really nice for my Sleep matchup vs Sun, as I can lead Indeedee + Rhyperior into 90% of Sun teams. Honestly, it’s one of the most fun matchups to play against.

Named GeniusRaghav because Raghav is a genius and Indeedee puts in work just like the insane amount of prep that Gio puts in.

PokeVoid (Rotom-Wash) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 132 HP / 4 Def / 220 SpA / 4 SpD / 148 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Protect
– Thunderbolt
– Hydro Pump
– Nasty Plot

Now, this is not the spread I used in the Zelda Tour, but it is the spread I used in the Rose Tower Charity event. I used it for the latter tournament because I wanted more Speed to outspeed things like Jolly Tyranitar and Timid Primarina, which had picked up a bit in popularity (Tyranitar more so than Primarina).

Man, you have no idea how many times I’ve wanted Dark Pulse on this Rotom to ease Gastrodon endgames, but Protect is just too valuable to give up. You can test Dark Pulse if you want, but Protect allowing for slow play and correct positioning is so much more useful, in my opinion. I also hate using Rotom. I hate Hydro Pump. Hydro Pump and Rotom itself has treated me very poorly. It’s just unfortunate that you can’t build a team with another Water type that doesn’t just completely give up the Corviknight matchup.

I hate Hydro Pump.

Named PokeVoid for PokeAlex and Void, our best Fortnite player and our best OU player.

Calvonix (Dusclops) @ Eviolite
Ability: Frisk
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Def / 164 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Night Shade
– Bulldoze
– Pain Split
– Trick Room

You know the drill, no idea what the spread does. When I started using this team, Dusclops was a Pokemon I hadn’t used very much, and I hadn’t touched Pain Split at all on it. It’s so funny to me that at the time, Pain Split was a niche move not everyone was using, but now it’s the standard. Meta progression is always hilarious when you’re seeing it with perfect rear view.

Honestly, the fact that this supports my endgames so well is the main reason it’s here. It has a ton of options to support the team, whether it be Trick Room or Bulldoze for Rhyperior, not to mention it’s just a great defensive Pokemon with a consistent damage option. I very often bring Dusclops without bringing Rhyperior just because of how great it can be in endgames.

This is named Calvonix because he’s been the biggest inspiration to me these last few months. My best friend and honestly one of the best players I’ve had the privilege of working with. He got his own Pokémon named after him because he gave me the team. You’re truly a brother <3

KomOweBoyt (Rhyperior) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Solid Rock
Level: 50
EVs: 68 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 196 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
IVs: 21 Spe
– Protect
– High Horsepower
– Rock Slide
– Fire Punch

This Rhyperior is just meant to do damage, to be honest. With support from Dusclops, Rhyperior can hit like a truck. Even without getting the Weakness Policy activation, whether it be from Bulldoze or something else, Rhyperior is really strong, hitting a great natural Attack stat of 209 with this investment. The Speed stat is probably the coolest part of this Rhyperior’s spread. With a stat of 56, its 2 points slower than minimum Speed Sylveon, Lapras and Jellicent; all of which sit at a 58 stat. It also allows me to usually be the faster Rhyperior outside of Trick Room, allowing this Rhyperior to function really well even without the support of Dusclops. The Special Defense investment allows you to live Timid Venusaur’s Leaf Storm when you are maxed.

The move selection also needs to be discussed. Let’s start with High Horsepower. Despite this team having two partners to Earthquake next to, you really can’t afford to run a Rhyperior where both of your STAB moves are blocked by the rogue Wide Guard tech. Not to say you couldn’t run Earthquake if you wanted to, it’s just something I wasn’t very comfortable with. Rock Slide is the best move on Rhyperior for great spread and, as always, a chance to flinch. Fire Punch is the cool move. This team absolutely needs a way to hit Ferrothorn and a secondary way to hit Corviknight. This was almost a necessity because of the decision not to run Heat Wave / Flamethrower on the Togekiss before. Other moves could be used here, but none really patch the matchups that Fire Punch is absolutely vital for.

Sorry it’s not a Kommo-o, much to Jamie’s dismay. Calvin got his own Pokémon so Gavin, Oliver and Boyt had to share ._.

KaoriMisaka (Roserade) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Natural Cure
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Protect
– Leaf Storm
– Sludge Bomb
– Sleep Powder

Roserade is obviously the cool Pokémon on the team. Two Pokémon fill the role that Roserade performs—those being Venusaur and Roserade itself. Roserade was chosen for two main reasons over the more standard Venusaur. Reason one is the Special Attack stat; Roserade has a great 177 stat, whereas Venusaur caps out at 155. 22 whole points in SpA really does allow Roserade to function as so much more than the Sleep Powder bot people would expect. You often Dynamax Roserade in several matchups, and it’s so much fun as a mix up in Bo3s. The second reason is the better natural Speed stat. While Venusaur may have Chlorophyll, if you don’t have Sun on your own team and don’t need Venusaur to act as part of your matchup vs Sun, a 156 Speed stat is amazing. Venusaur falls into the extremely crowded 145 stat cluster, but 156 stat allows you to outspeed Pokemon such as Excadrill and Rotom-Formes.

Natural Cure is also a cool little ability, though only really applicable for Thunder Wave. But it’s so much better than Technician (which does literally nothing important) and Poison Point (which can completely ruin your game plan if a Pokémon gets accidentally Poisoned). The moveset is very standard, and I’m unsure you’d really want to change it. However, if you are looking for a cool move option, Cotton Spore over Protect can add a whole new dynamic to how Pokémon like Rotom, Togekiss and Rhyperior function.

KaoriMisaka is named after Kaori and Angel, because they’re both beautiful.

Stay Home Regionals Challenge – By Zelda – 3/14/20

Going into this event, I was really upset about not being able to attend Toronto. I was dedicated to doing well in this Zelda Challenge, as I had only ever cut one of them before.

I was lucky enough to have all three of Stephen Mea, Kyle Livinghouse, and Arbin Tumaneng come over to my house. We had a ton of fun, sat around my kitchen table with our laptops out and just played the tournament all together while having both streams play on my TV in the living room. Honestly, having them there was one of the most fun I’ve had playing Pokémon in such a long time. Would recommend.

I’ll provide links to watch the games, but I’m not going to go in-depth on many of them as they were so long ago and I honestly can’t remember what my thought process was at the time for most of them.

Round 1 vs BlackWizard

Replays: 1 | 2

Score: 2-0
Games: 2-0
Record: 1-0

Round 2 vs Mean

Replays: 1 | 2 | 3

Score: 2-1
Games: 4-1
Record: 2-0

Round 3 vs Pado

Replays: 1 | 2

Score: 2-0
Games: 6-1
Record: 3-0

Round 4 vs CandyBongs

Replays: 1 | 2 | 3

Score: 2-1
Games: 8-2
Record: 4-0

Round 5 vs Kunal

Replays: 1 | 2 | 3

Score: 2-1
Games: 10-3
Record: 5-0

Having just made cut at a 100+ Person event, I was ecstatic. Arbin was also 5-0 at this point, so two of the 4 people at 5-0 being at one kitchen table was pretty hype. We celebrated quickly, then watched Stephen and Kyle play their matches. Kyle won his set at 4-1, so he would be playing a win and in next round, and Stephen lost his match, so he would have to win out to make the cut with the rest of us.

Knowing I made cut, all pressure was off me. The only thing to fight for now was a bye into the Top 16, and that’s just gravy to me. Seeing I was paired vs Collin was actually pretty funny to me, because it would be the second time in one season that we will have played at 5-0 at a 100+ Person event (the other being Atlantic City Regionals back in September, where he beat me in a clean 2-0). My goal here was to win, obviously, but also to try and get as much information out of Collin as possible for a potential rematch in cut. And boy, did he give me lots of information.

Round 6 vs BattleRoom

Replays: 1 | 2

Please excuse the game chat for what it is. It was two friends having fun not caring much about the result.

Score: 2-0
Games: 12-3
Record: 6-0

Being 6-0 and having guaranteed myself a Bye to Top 16, I did not care about this upcoming match. My goal was to scout a bit of information and that was it. Kyle also won his win and in match so three of us had locked in our Top Cut berths.

Round 7 vs myjm

I did not save the replays from these two games. Game 1, I led Pokémon that I cared minimally about or where it was pretty obvious what they did. I led Dusclops to scout items and Roserade to click Sleep Powders, to try and see what his potential response would be. I found out tons of useful information, such as Weakness Policy / Dragon Dance Dragapult, AV Ferrothorn with Body Press, Life Orb Blizzard and Mudshot Milotic. I made sure to reveal absolutely nothing of substance, such as my Rotom’s and Rhyperior movesets, as well as the fact that I had a move on Dusclops that was not Trick Room. After getting this information in game 1, I forfeited game 2 in preview and took a much needed break to relax before Top Cut.

I finished with a 6-1 Record and was the 3rd seed going into Top Cut. Looking at the bracket, I was going to be playing the winner of Owe vs Nails, a Birds Matchup. I was really hoping to play Nails, as I thought my matchup vs Owe was extremely poor.

Top Cut: Top 16 vs Owe

Replays: 1 | 2

Out in Top16, unfortunately. Wasn’t quite the result that I was hoping for, but having made it back to cut and going X-1 in Swiss at that was a huge deal for me and my self confidence in the game. I asked Nails to play me in a set because I thought I had a really good matchup, and I think I could have made Top 4 if Nails had beaten Owe in the Top 22, given that my next opponent would have been BattleRoom and I beat him decently convincingly in Swiss.

Score: 0-2
Games: 12-5
Record: 6-1
Result:Top 16, 10th

Exhibition vs Nails

Replays: 1 | 2 | 3

Score: 2-1
Games: 14-6
Record: 7-1

Post Zelda Challenge

I used this same team in the Victory Road online Regional the next weekend, and went 3-3 drop after a really poor string of bad luck. Several weeks went by and I had given up on this team. I did not play in NPA this week, which shook my confidence a bit. I really, really struggled using other teams outside of NPA. I used a standard Sand Dragapult team to win my NPA set vs Ceree and a variant of PokeAlex’s Coalossal team to beat Terry.

For week 9 of NPA, I learned that I would be playing vs Stratos, and after having tested several teams, I decided I wanted to revive this team as it has a really strong matchup vs aggressive teams and could abuse Trick Room turns really well with Rhyperior (or use Sleep Powder to disrupt their momentum).

Knowing that I would bring this team to NPA, I hit the ladder again with a fresh alt. I got to around ~1850 in around 50ish (?) games. I felt really confident in the team again and decided that with the Rose Tower COVID-19 Charity Tournament coming up soon, I would just run this team again, as my NPA match would be later in the day and I could use the warm up. I cared much more about winning my NPA set for my team and my own personal record than I did the Rose Tower event. Maybe the lack of stress allowed me to do better? I honestly couldn’t tell you.

RoseTower Quarantine International Challenge – 4/18/20-4/19/20

Like I said, I cared minimally. I was just going to relax and have a fun time. I remember very little about my games, and due to me not taking notes and not having a capture card, I can’t tell you much about them, either. I remember the results, but that’s about it. I can give some cool highlights from certain matches.

Round 1 vs Batti (IT)

Score: 2-0
Games: 2-0
Record: 1-0
Total: 8-1 / 16-6

Round 2 vs Pisco (IT)

I got insanely unlucky. His team was full of memes and I got caught off guard into being crit several times, having a blind Hypnosis land and then whiffing a game-ending Sleep Powder. I was very frustrated after this set, as I thought I played very well, but the game just disagreed with me.

Score: 1-2
Games: 3-2
Record: 1-1
Total: 8-2 / 17-8

Round 3 vs TypicalNerd (IT)

Score: 2-0
Games: 5-2
Record: 2-1
Total: 9-2 / 19-8

Round 4 vs Zwockel (DE)

Score: 2-0
Games: 7-2
Record: 3-1
Total: 10-2 / 21-8

Round 5 vs SnorlaxSam (UK)

I timed out in team preview of game 1. I didn’t bring either Roserade or Rotom-W, both of which I really really wanted. Playing on the backfoot, I ended up winning by getting it down to Rhyperior + Indeedee vs Conkeldurr + Dusclops. I had not used my Dynamax yet. I Maxed my Indeedee, which only has Psychic for an offensive move, and OHKO’d his Conkeldurr through Aurora Veil.

Game 3, I ended up in a horrid position despite OHKOing his Raichu turn 1 with minimal repercussions. The game came down to if I could land 5 Hydro Pumps in a row. I didn’t miss a single one and won the set.

I hate Hydro Pump.

Score: 2-1
Games: 9-3
Record: 4-1
Total: 11-2 / 23-9

Round 6 vs Syntex (IT)

I swept him with a Rhyperior + Indeedee lead both games, not much else to say. That’s all you really need for the Sun matchup.

Score: 2-0
Games: 11-3
Record: 5-1
Total: 12-2 / 25-9

Round 7 vs Silverbroom (US)

Between games 1 and 2, I whiffed a total of 5 Hydro Pumps and 3 Sleep Powders. I lost game 1 on a last turn Conkeldurr vs Rotom-W Hydro Pump miss. Game 2, I whiffed both Sleep Powders and 3 Hydro Pumps, but still ended up winning because I had correctly saved Rhyperior for the endgame. I had to 1v2 Incin and Dragapult with just Rhyperior. Game 3, I led Togekiss Roserade into his Togekiss Incineroar. He Faked Out my Maxing Togekiss and Yawned my Protecting Roserade turn 1. From there, I swept him, as he hadn’t brought Tyranitar for my Togekiss.

I HATE Hydro Pump

Score: 2-1
Games: 13-4
Record: 6-1
Total: 13-2 / 27-10

Round 8 vs Sefranek (US)

We didn’t play this set. With both of us having guaranteed Top Cut, and neither of us having a chance for a bye, I forfeited the set to prepare for my NPA set vs Stratos.

NPA Week 10 Match vs Stratos

I was 3-2 in NPA after a 1-2 start, so I really, really wanted to win to make sure I had at least a buffer game to finish the season with a positive record.

Replays: 1 | 2 | 3

So I was 4-2 in NPA now. Despite our team losing the week, I felt amazing.

Score: 2-1
Games: 15-5
Record: 7-1
Total: 14-2 / 29-11

Top 30 vs Sefranek (US)

Going into this set, I talked a lot with Gavin, Chuppa, Joe Ugarte, and Calvin about how to go about this matchup. Imprison Chandelure and Primarina were really big problems, and Taunt Whimsicott made things awkward.

Game 1:

He brought:

I brought:

My gameplan going in was this: knowing Chandelure had Imprison and Whimsicott had Taunt, I could lead Roserade Dusclops to turn 1 bait the Taunt into Roserade and Imprison. I switched Dusclops to Indeedee turn 1 to stop Taunt and put the Chandelure to Sleep. From there, I KO’d Whimsicott as it set Tailwind and put damage down on the Chandelure. I found out he brought Dracozolt, and ending up switching my Rhyperior and Protecting my Roserade one turn on what I thought would be Max Lightning into Roserade. He Max Lightning’d my Rhyperior on the switch-in, which was a great way to stall his turns. The game ended with me Maxing my Rhyperior and just cleaning up vs the Primarina with my Sp. Def boosts.

Game 2:

He brought:

I brought:

We lead the same as Game 1. I make the exact same play I did before, but this time Whimsicott goes for Tailwind and Chandelure Imprisons, which ends up being great for me as I get one more guaranteed turn of Sleep against it. The game goes pretty much how you would expect. Primarina Maxes and sets up the Rain. I get the game down to 100% Rhyperior + 100% Dusclops vs 100% Dracozolt + 30% Primarina and I have yet to use my Max. I know my Rhyperior dies to Choice Specs Hyper Voice in the Rain, so my play is always to go for Protect and Trick Room. He reads this and goes for Bolt Beak and Hyper Voice into my Dusclops, which I can survive because his Dracozolt is Assault Vest and not Life Orb. The problem, however, is that he crits the Bolt Beak and puts me at 10%, and Dusclops gets KO’d by the following Hyper Voice. Next turn, knowing I lost, I Max Rhyperior praying I somehow can eat the Hyper Voice and then Dracozolt misses, but I get OHKO’d by Hyper Voice in Rain.

Game 3:

He brought:

I brought:

I’m not going to lie to you: this was a horrid gameplan on my end. I had already prepared for a gameplan similar to this, which involved leading Rhyperior Indeedee with Dusclops and Rotom-W in the back. I cannot tell you what was going through my head when I decided on the order of these Pokémon and what my gameplan was.

Turn 1, he Maxes his Chandelure and goes for Max Flare into my Indeedee’s Protect. A crit through it severely hurts me for later on. I went for Max Lightning into Chandelure as Whimsicott set Tailwind. Turn 2, I expect him to Moonblast Indeedee to KO it since he’s Pixie Plate Whimsicott, so I go for Protect and Max Geyser as he goes for Moonblast and Max Phantasm into my Rotom, which was the correct play on his end. The problem for me is that he gets the Special Attack drop onto my Rotom with the Moonblast, meaning his Chandelure is actually able to live my Max Geyser on a sliver of HP. I forget what exactly happens next, but I end up with a low HP Rotom and a 1 HP Roserade against Chandelure and Bisharp as Electric Terrain ends. I predict his Sucker Punch onto Roserade and go for Sleep Powder into Chandelure and attack with Rotom. He Sucker Punches Roserade and Shadow Balls Rotom, but I miss the Sleep Powder. I bring in Togekiss and decide I have to make some big plays. I go for Sludge Bomb into his Chandelure and Protect with Togekiss. If I get this play right, him going for Iron Head into Togekiss, I can and probably will win if I can land a Sleep Powder vs the Bisharp the next turn. However, he goes for Iron Head not into my Togekiss, but into my Roserade, which makes a ton of sense. I lose Roserade as Primarina comes in and I go for a last ditch Dazzling Gleam as he KO’s my Togekiss and wins the set.

Score: 1-2
Games: 16-7
Record: 7-2
Total: 14-3 / 30-13


My time with the team in events finished with a flexible record of 14-3 in sets played and a great 30-13 in individual games played. The team was very, very fun, however it has a horrid matchup vs Dragapult + Togekiss teams, especially if they have Goggles or Lum on Togekiss / Dragapult. The team is really outdated at this point. I for sure think it could be useful in individual set settings like NPA, but otherwise I wouldn’t use it for longer tournaments anymore.

This team was really fun, and it felt great to add another team to my “Teams Hall of Fame”, which you can see below if you’re interested.


  • 3am: I love you guys. Probably my the best group of friends I’ve ever had. We may argue, but I would die for any of you.
  • Birds: Thank you to Gavin, Alex, Calvin, and Raghav for drafting me. We may not have done very well, but I was very happy to have played for the team. 🙂 It was great to meet new people like Gio, Miguel, and Manuel. And then all my frens who I knew before bot got to talk to even more.
  • Chuppa: Bro, you and me have worked for hours, and I feel like you being in Birds chat only brought us closer together. Thank you so much for the really late calls and building and practice sessions. You’ve been a huge part to my success lately.
  • Calvin: Bro. You’re my best friend, right. You put up with so much of my dumb stuff and still come back around to endure more. You are so integral to me being able to live through quarantine right now. I have absolutely no idea where I would be without you.
  • Aldrich: mish