Storming through the Series: A 3rd Place World Championship Warstory

Yahallo! James Baek here, and I’ve recently placed third at the 2019 Pokémon VGC World Championships. I’m here to share my warstory of all the battles I went through at Washington D.C.

Brief Recap of the Team

Yuigahama (Xerneas) @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 44 HP / 4 Def / 204 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

A simple Xerneas that is max Speed to outspeed Lunala. The Special Attack is to reach a similar stat to the common 68 SpA Modest Xerneas, which does large amounts of damage and 2HKO’s most Primal Groudon.

Yukino (Kyogre) @ Blue Orb
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 4 Def / 44 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Origin Pulse
– Ice Beam
– Protect

I love Kyogre because having a strong Special Attack stat alongside the weather boosting its STAB is insane. I went with a fast one to help outspeed Smeargle, Necrozma, and opposing Kyogre. I ran bulk over more Special Attack because Kyogre already has a high Special Attack stat.

Hikigaya (Tornadus) @ Flyinium Z
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 44 SpA / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hurricane
– Role Play
– Taunt
– Tailwind

Tornadus is great, because its ability to help set up Tailwind and shut down opposing set-up with Taunt is fantastic. Flying coverage is also appreciated to help against Amoonguss. The spread allows it to outspeed my Kartana while having enough bulk to take at least one strong hit. I invested a little in Special Attack in order to make certain follow-ups possible, like being able to knock out some Xerneas with Supersonic Skystrike into Hurricane if they didn’t Geomancy.

Iroha (Kartana) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 20 HP / 28 Atk / 4 Def / 236 SpD / 220 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Knock Off
– Sacred Sword

I opted for Kartana because there weren’t any Mega Evolutions on the team and Kartana was always reliable during the previous events I’ve used this team in. The Speed helps speed creep Nihilego, and the Special Defense along with the Assault Vest allows it to live attacks such as +2 Moonblast from Xerneas or Primal Kyogre’s Water Spout and then follow up with a strong attack.

Hiratsuka (Amoonguss) (F) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Regenerator
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 76 Def / 196 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 22 Spe
– Grass Knot
– Clear Smog
– Spore
– Rage Powder

The standard Amoonguss from Sun Series, but I saw no reason to change the spread. The only difference is Calm Nature with 22 Speed IVs, which allows me to speed creep most Incineroar under Tailwind so I can go for Spore before they can attack. I ran Grass Knot over Protect because I think the team needs a way to deal damage to opposing Kyogre and Stakataka (if they carry Safety Goggles or are under Electric Terrain). It also helps by chipping away at Pokemon such as Primal Groudon and Xerneas.

Haruno (Incineroar) (F) @ Figy Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 36 Def / 236 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Fake Out
– Roar
– U-turn

Last but not least, the standard Incineroar. I ran min Speed because having a slow U-turn is vital, with the weather war being more important than in the previous Sun and Moon Series. I kept Roar because it was good against Xerneas, and I never really found myself ever clicking a Dark-type move when I’ve had it.

A Deeper Look

If you want to have a more in-depth look at the team, you can check it out here:

Worlds Day 0 (Thursday)

Since Washington DC is only about a 4-5 hour bus ride, I decided to leave Thursday morning, and ended up being on the same bus as some of my friends from New York: Angel Miranda, Arbin Tumaneng, MK, and a surprise William Hall. We have a lovely conversation about anime, previous VGC years, our school life past, and more that made the ride enjoyable and feel like it went by quick.

After getting to Washington DC, I checked in to my hotel and waited for my boy Jake Skurchak to let him into the room. Afterward, we went to Stephen Mea’s hotel room where me, Stephen, Jake, Emilio Forbes, and George Tifferman played Smash Ultimate and chilled, waiting for check-in time for Worlds.

We headed towards the venue around 5:15 PM, and what greeted me was David Mancuso, who was waiting outside. He gave me a Piplup Worlds Plush. Love this guy! It took about two hours to check in, but at least we ran into a lot of people we knew, which helped because the line barely moved. Afterward, me and Jake split up from the group, went back to the hotel, and ordered food. We ended up watching the entire Pokémon Hoenn League anime.

Worlds Day 1 (Friday)

Thankfully, I had a Day 2 invite, so I didn’t have to play the gruelling 9 round Day 1. I still wanted to watch the opening ceremony, so me and Jake woke up early and headed toward the venue. The line was extremely long and looped around the building. Thankfully, they delayed the opening ceremony twice, and we made it into the hall just in time. The opening ceremony was hype, and a lot of the new stuff from Sword and Shield looked incredible.

I spent the entire day scouting the competition by watching the matches, chatting with a lot of players, taking photos, signing autographs, watching a bit of Pokken while waiting for the next round matches to start, and cheering on Emilio through Day 1. Pokken is really fun to watch, btw. Emilio made it through Day 1, and we ended the day getting dinner at Chinatown Express. Love the duck from that place, and also tried some of the fish.

Worlds Day 2 (Saturday)

I woke up early, took a quick shower, and played a few warm up games before heading to the venue. Thankfully, the line was much more tolerable than yesterday, and we started the tournament smoothly.

Round 1 – Eric Rios [ES] (5-2 / 7th Place) – WLL

Eric and I played back in Oceania earlier this year, when I was using the Normalium Z version of the team where I was able to take the set. However, I knew that he had earned a Day 2 invite this year and made Top 8 in this very tournament back in 2014 when we were both in Seniors, so I knew this wouldn’t be an easy one.

Game 1: Eric led Tapu Koko / Nihilego with Kartana and Kyogre in the back. He set up Trick Room with Nihilego, but my Geomancy-boosted Xerneas alongside my Kyogre were able to pressure a lot of damage even under Trick Room. The game came down to my Kartana being able to outspeed his Kartana outside of Trick Room, and knock out his weakened Kartana to get the Beast Boost. This allowed me to OHKO the Tapu Koko from full HP to win the game.

Game 2: Eric led Nihilego / Kartana with Rayquaza and Incineroar in the back. Eric played really well in this game by denying me opportunities to set up Geomancy so I could effectively handle the Rayquaza. His Rayquaza revealed Swords Dance and was able to effectively pin down my team, because the only Pokémon I had that was faster than Rayquaza was my Kartana, and I couldn’t threaten a knock out.

Game 3: Eric led Kartana / Incineroar with Rayquaza and Nihilego in the back. I led with Kyogre and Incineroar. Eric outpositioned me for almost the entire game. The game came down to me being able to survive a -1 Dragon Ascent from his Mega Rayquaza with my 45% Xerneas in order to knock it out with Moonblast for a chance to win the game. Unfortunately, Xerneas went down, and we shook hands. I think if I wanted to win the set, I had to make the turn 1 call of Ice Beaming the Rayquaza switch-in, which I did consider, but thought was too risky.

It was a good set, but I was disappointed in myself for putting myself in poor positions after having a game 1 lead and not making the aggressive play in game 3. However, I popped in some earbuds and listened to some music while trying to calm down and prepare for the next set. I was very happy to see Eric make Top 8.

Round 2 – Jung Wonseok [KR] (3-4 / 45th Place) – WW

I recognized the name, and knew it wasn’t Krelcroc, but couldn’t remember who my opponent was. Later, I found out he was in Day 2 last year and got Top 4 at Korea Nats in 2018. In team preview, I felt Kyogre and Xerneas could do very well if I was able to position them properly.

Game 1: Jung led Tapu Koko / Lunala with Rayquaza and Stakataka in the back. Turn 1, he reveals Wide Guard on his Lunala, which was important information for the set. Turn 2, I click Water Spout again because I had a feeling he wouldn’t click Wide Guard, which worked out for me as my Kyogre was faster than his Lunala and was able to get a powerful Water Spout off on his team. This leaves Lunala in the red, as he Menacing Moonraze Maelstroms my Kyogre for 60 percent. His Tapu Koko is revealed to have an Assault Vest and can’t do much against my Incineroar and Amoonguss rotation.

Next turn, I Ice Beam the Lunala slot in order to finish it off, but he ends up switching to Rayquaza, which meant that I was able to knock out the Rayquaza instead. Kyogre was able to clean up the game from there.

Game 2: Jung led Incineroar / Tapu Koko with Rayquaza and Stakataka in the back. Jung is able to position Rayquaza to get a Swords Dance off, but I make aggressive plays and Ice Beam his Rayquaza by predicting him not to target my Kyogre to try and break my Incineroar and Amoonguss rotation, and it works out perfectly as I’m able to knock out the Rayquaza while only trading my Incineroar. Kyogre was able to clean up the game once again.

I was really happy after winning that game and not starting 0-2. I felt that I had played extremely well throughout the set. Afterward, Jung mentioned that he was a YouTube subscriber, which was cool.

Round 3 – Javier Valdez [CL] (1-4 / 69th Place) – LWW

Javier has had some great placements recently, which had solidified his Day 2 invite, and I know he is known for more unconventional sets, so I go in very open-minded for this set.

Game 1: Javier led Metagross / Togedemaru with Rayquaza and Tapu Fini in the back. This game was painful, with Javier being able to get every Muddy Water Accuracy drop onto my Pokémon and my Kyogre missing a crucial Origin Pulse on his Togedemaru. In the end, I was able to get Xerneas boosted, but with Togedemaru and Mega Metagross near full health, I didn’t have enough turns to let Xerneas sweep the endgame.

At least I was able to get a lot of information out of this game. The Tapu Fini revealed that it wasn’t a 50 percent berry and carried Taunt and Muddy Water. The Rayquaza revealed it was Focus Sash, the Togedemaru had Electrium Z with Helping Hand, and the Mega Metagross showed that it had Hammer Arm. I tried to forget about the RNG and focus on the next game.

Game 2: Javier led Metagross / Togedemaru with Tapu Fini and Rayquaza in the back. This game goes a lot smoother, as I’m able to find positions to knock out the Rayquaza early with my Kyogre which led to Xerneas and Amoonguss being able to sweep after his Tapu Fini had already taken a lot of damage.

Game 3: Javier leads Togedemaru / Tapu Fini with Metagross and Amoonguss in the back. I lead with Kyogre / Incineroar with Amoonguss and Xerneas in the back. I knew Javier had ran Z-Move Tapu Fini before, and it would make sense given he had three Steel types, so I scout for a potential Waterium Z by switching out Incineroar to Amoonguss and Protecting Kyogre as he goes for Fake Out and Hydro Vortex into my Amoonguss slot turn 1.

Next turn, I go for Water Spout and switch Amoonguss back into Incineroar, predicting Taunt from Tapu Fini into my Amoonguss slot and Spiky Shield from Togedemaru, and that’s exactly what he does. I’m able to get Xerneas in a position to knock out his weakened Tapu Fini and Rayquaza, which led to Kyogre and Amoonguss being able to clean up in the end game.

I was extremely proud of winning this set, because I think I made every single right play that I needed to make, and was able to advance to 2-1 in the tournament.

Round 4 – Miguel Pedraza Caballero [CS] (4-3 / 35th Place) – WW

I didn’t recognize my opponent’s name but he told me that he got through Day 1. He also told me that he had a bad matchup against me, but I didn’t let this make me overconfident.

Game 1: Miguel led Rayquaza / Raichu with Kyogre and Stakataka in the back. I’m able to knock out his Rayquaza early with my Kyogre. His Stakataka was able to set up Trick Room towards the end of the game, but Kartana was able to knock out his Kyogre right before Trick Room was set up. Kartana and Kyogre were then able to power through the Stakataka and Raichu.

In this game, I was able to find out a bit of information that revealed the Stakataka wasn’t holding Safety Goggles, that the Raichu was faster than his Rayquaza, and that his Rayquaza was Swords Dance. This meant that Xerneas and Amoonguss would be great for game 2.

Game 2: Miguel led Raichu / Rayquaza once again with Incineroar and something else in the back. I was able to get Amoonguss in safely to redirect the attacks such as Nuzzle from the Raichu in order to set up Xerneas without taking any damage and was able to sweep.

I was now 3-1 in the tournament and gaining momentum.

Round 5 – Flavio del Pidio [IT] (4-3 / 22nd place) – WLW

I was now facing the European International Champion, which was a pleasure. He was on stream vs. Ashton round one, and I was able to get information about his team from Jeremy Gross. His Xerneas was extremely slow and bulky, which made the matchup easier for me because my Kyogre would be able to outspeed it and get a powerful attack off before it would get a chance to Geomancy.

Game 1: Flavio led Kangaskhan / Xerneas with Lunala and Stakataka in the back. I led Kartana and Kyogre. Turn 1, he goes for Fake Out onto my Kyogre and Geomancy while I go for Knock Off onto his Xerneas, which eliminates the Power Herb and Kyogre flinches. I then double up on the Xerneas with Smart Strike and Origin Pulse as his Geomancy goes off and he tries to Bite flinch my Kyogre. Thankfully, my Kyogre doesn’t flinch and lands both Origin Pulses in order to knock out the Xerneas while heavily damaging the Kangaskhan. I’m then able to sweep the rest of his members with the combination of Kyogre and Kartana after playing around the Z-Move from Lunala.

Game 2: Flavio led Kangaskhan / Lunala with unknown Pokémon in the back. I led Kartana and Kyogre once again, and was forced to switch Kartana to preserve it. My Xerneas ends up being OHKO’d by the Moonraze. I then lost all momentum, with him being able to set up Tailwind with his Lunala in order to have everything on his team be able to dish out heavy damage.

Game 3: Flavio led Kangaskhan / Lunala with Xerneas and Smeargle in the back. This time, I led Xerneas and Amoonguss. All I needed was to break the Shadow Shield on Lunala so my Kartana could put in a lot of work. First turn, I go for Geomancy and Spore into Lunala, as I’m either able to put the Lunala to sleep or get a free Geomancy. He goes for Fake Out into my Xerneas and Tailwind with his Lunala as Lunala goes to sleep. Next turn, I Geomancy and Spore the Kangaskhan slot, as his Kangaskhan goes for Double-Edge into my Xerneas. His Lunala takes its first turn of sleep and his Kangaskhan gets put to sleep as well.

I go for Dazzling Gleam and Spore into the Lunala slot, because I don’t need Xerneas to win the game, and the important part was making the Lunala useless. His Kangaskhan stays asleep as Xerneas is able to knock out the Kangaskhan thanks to the Double-Edge recoil it had taken previously and chip his Lunala. His Lunala wakes up and is able to knock out my Xerneas with Psyshock, then gets put to sleep again by Spore. I then bring out my Kyogre as Flavio brings out his Xerneas. I Spore the Xerneas slot and Water Spout as he Protects his Xerneas. Lunala goes down, and Smeargle is revealed to be the last Pokémon. I go for Water Spout and Spore the Xerneas slot once again, as his Smeargle gets brought to its Focus Sash and Xerneas is in the red. Smeargle lands a Lovely Kiss into my Amoonguss, and Xerneas gets Geomancy off as Amoonguss takes its first turn of sleep.

He gets a Moody Boost that is irrelevant. With a full health Kartana in the back alongside my full health leads, I felt very comfortable in being able to win this game, so I Ice Beam the Xerneas and Clear Smog the Smeargle in case he has Wide Guard. I thought it would be very unlikely for him to not go for Wide Guard, because I revealed Origin Pulse and Water Spout. Smeargle goes for Wide Guard, as expected, as Xerneas goes for Dazzling Gleam for some chip. Kyogre is able to Ice Beam Xerneas for the knockout, and Amoonguss wakes up to finish off the Smeargle.

I felt good about my plays in the set, and now I was praying that I wouldn’t choke my future rounds.

Round 6 – Davide Carrier [IT] (4-3 / 20th Place) – LWW

What are the chances of fighting the European International finalists back to back? I was able to catch Davide’s stream match vs Arata earlier, so I had some information on his team.

Game 1: Davide led Xerneas / Salamence with Groudon and Incineroar in the back. I was able to get early momentum, but quickly ended up losing due to poor positioning. He was able to take faster knockouts using his Salamence. His full health Groudon was able to clean up in the end vs. my Incineroar and Kyogre under the harsh sun.

Game 2: Davide led Salamence / Incineroar with Tapu Fini and Shedinja in the back. I was able to set up Xerneas and have Tornadus out on the field, which denied him the opportunity to go for Soak onto his Shedinja. Thankfully, you can’t Ally Switch and Soak yourself during the same turn.

Game 3: Davide led Xerneas / Incineroar with Groudon and Shedinja in the back. His Shedinja was able to spread Toxic onto my Tornadus quickly, which made it annoying. In the middle of the game, I was able to position my Kyogre next to my Tornadus with his Incineroar (which couldn’t Fake Out) and Groudon at half health in Harsh Sunlight. I felt he wouldn’t give up his Groudon to a Role Play + Water Spout combination, so I Supersonic Skystrike the Shedinja that the Groudon switched out to and was able to knock out the Incineroar. I was then able to sweep the rest of his team after calling an Ally Switch and going for Hurricane into that slot to knock out the Shedinja later in the game while Kyogre was able to continue to go for Water Spout.

Definitely the most fun set of the tournament for me, and I was able to advance to the top cut bracket with a 5-1 record. Edu and Stephen won their matches too, with only Emilio needing to win the last one to make it. I still wanted to win the next round, however, to guarantee a spot in the top 16.

Round 7 vs. Stephen Mea [US] (5-2 / 8th) WLW

Luckily, this wasn’t an elimination match, so there was less pressure to win this set, but I still wanted to win. The version of TornOgre he’s using is very weak to Kartana, if used correctly.

Game 1: Stephen led Tornadus / Kyogre with Xerneas and Incineroar in the back. I led Kyogre and Kartana. I go for Leaf Blade into the Kyogre and Water Spout, while he Protects his Kyogre and goes for Tailwind as he loses his Tornadus. Stephen brings out Xerneas and goes for Geomancy and Water Spout as I go for Origin Pulse and Smart Strike into his Xerneas and am able to knock it out. Incineroar is brought out, but Stephen forfeits, realizing that there was no way for him to win.

Game 2: Stephen led Kangaskhan and Tornadus. My Kartana goes down to Supersonic Skystrike, which I didn’t expect (turns out it was a roll slightly in his favor). He’s able to get Tailwind up and sweep the rest of my team with Kangaskhan and Tornadus as I forfeit early to conserve information for game 3.

Game 3: Stephen led Kangaskhan / Tornadus with Xerneas and Kyogre in the back. I led off with Xerneas and Kyogre. I double Protect turn 1 as he gets up his Tailwind and tries to Fake Out. Next turn, I go for Geomancy and Origin Pulse as I could either get a lot of damage or get a free set up as he goes for Double-Edge into my Kyogre and Supersonic Skystrike into Xerneas. This was huge, because Xerneas was able to boost and Kangaskhan went down to Origin Pulse after recoil with Tornadus in the red while both my Pokemon were in the yellow. Xerneas is sent out, and he goes for Hurricane into my Kyogre, which doesn’t KO. I win a speed tie to knock out his Xerneas and Origin Pulse finishes off the Tornadus. With only his Kyogre in the back, I was able to pick up the victory and guarantee a spot in the top 16.

It felt good to finally top cut a World Championship. Unfortunately, Emilio lost and was out of the tournament. I was able to watch Brandon vs Wolfe on stream while waiting for the bracket, and Brandon was revealed to be my opponent in top 16.

Top 16 – Brandon Meckley [US] (5-2 / 16th) –  LWW

Luckily, I was able to get a lot of information about the team from some friends who were scouting. However, I was still cautious in case of misinformation.

Game 1: Brandon led Xerneas / Salamence with Incineroar and Groudon in the back. I’m able to successfully Roar out the Xerneas as it went for Geomancy and set up my own Xerneas. There was a turn where I could’ve instantly won the game if I had hit a Hurricane outside of weather along with my Xerneas to knock out his, but I missed, and his Xerneas was able to knock my Xerneas with a Moonblast after it was weakened so much. I could’ve came back, but I misplay horribly as I didn’t notice that Tailwind on my side had expired, so his Xerneas was faster than my Kyogre and able to knock out my weakened Tornadus with Moonblast. Had I known, I would’ve switched out the Tornadus into my Incineroar to keep the ability to change the weather since I knocked out the Incineroar and Xerneas this turn. Instead, this meant that Groudon was able to come in at full health in Sun, and I couldn’t beat down the Groudon unless it missed Precipice Blades. Brandon hit his Blades and was able to seal up the game.

Game 2: Brandon led Tapu Fini / Incineroar with Groudon and Xerneas in the back. He was able to set up an early Light Screen while Xerneas was able to set up a Geomancy and still heavily damaged his team. In the end, my Kyogre and Tornadus would’ve been able to seal up the end game after Xerneas had done so much damage to his team.

Game 3: Brandon led Tapu Fini / Incineroar with Groudon and Venusaur in the back. I led Xerneas and Incineroar for the first time in this set, and was again able to position Xerneas really well and do a lot of damage to his side of the field. The game was still close, as I was able to lock him into Groudon and Venusaur as his last two under Light Screen and Venusaur was only at half health. My Kyogre is able to get up weather and outspeed the Venusaur to knock it out with Ice Beam and then close out the game from there.

I did it! I was able to make top 8 at a World Championship, and was only one set away from winning a Pikachu Trophy. Stephen also made top 8, which I was really happy about as well.

Top 8 – Meaghan Rattle [AU] (6-1 / 5th) – WLW

Her team was very scary. On paper, I should have an advantage, but with Assault Vest Tapu Koko and the possibility of Thunder Punch on Metagross, this would be a rough matchup. I had to find out if she had Thunder Punch on Metagross, because that would determine if I could use Kyogre to pressure her team.

Game 1: Meaghan led Kyogre / Amoonguss with Metagross and Tapu Koko in the back. I’m able to break a potential Focus Sash on the Amoonguss with Supersonic Skystrike turn 1 and chip her Kyogre. I was then able to eliminate the Amoonguss the following turn with Hurricane and get a single target Water Spout onto Kyogre, putting it under 25 percent as my Tornadus faints from her Kyogre’s weakened Water Spout. Meaghan sends out Tapu Koko as I bring out my Xerneas.

This next turn was critical. I know Xerneas gets a Geomancy and can’t get knocked out unless a crit happens from Meaghan’s Kyogre. Wild Charge into my Kyogre is obvious, as is me Protecting my Kyogre. The information I got was that Meaghan was carrying Bullet Punch on her Metagross. I thought her best chance to be put into a great position would be to switch out her Kyogre into Metagross and Nature’s Madness the Xerneas slot so she could threaten both slots if she had Bullet Punch. If she stayed in with both Pokémon, Xerneas would be set up and it would’ve been very tough for her to win either healthy or Kyogre would still be alive if she doubled the Xerneas. So I risk it all, and go for the Geomancy and Water Spout as she targets the Xerneas with Wild Charge and switches her Kyogre out into Metagross. I was able to get Geomancy off and knock out her Metagross on the switch, which meant Xerneas finished off the game with a Dazzling Gleam knockout.

Game 2: Meaghen led Yveltal and Tapu Koko with Metagross and Kyogre in the back, as I led Incineroar and Xerneas. I had a feeling she would lead Tapu Koko based on the lead from the previous game, and I felt she was going to replace Amoonguss since it didn’t do anything for her and bring Yveltal instead, so she could match Tailwinds. I go for Geomancy and Flare Blitz into Yveltal expecting the Metagross switch and a Nature’s Madness into one of my Pokemon. She instead switches her Tapu Koko for Metagross and gets Tailwind up.

Meaghan is able to pick up an early knock out on my Xerneas with Metagross, and I have to play from behind. There was a small chance late in the game after positioning a bit to win the game if I hit my Origin Pulses and got a right read on what her Kyogre would do, but I miss Origin Pulse, so I had no shot of winning this game.

Game 3: Meaghan led Yveltal and Tapu Koko with Kyogre and Metagross in the back. I brought Amoonguss, because I knew that if I could eliminate the Tapu Koko, then Xerneas with Geomancy next to Amoonguss would be a big problem for her to deal with. I expect a Sky Drop from the Tapu Koko into my Amoonguss, so I switch into Incineroar because I want an Intimidate and the ability to U-turn out for position. I wasn’t sure if Yveltal would go for the Z-Move or Tailwind, but I Protect just to be safe as she Sky Drops my Incineroar on the switch and the Z-Move goes into my Kyogre’s Protect.

Next turn, I decide my best play is to get damage on the Tapu Koko in order to have Xerneas be able to knock it out with a Dazzling Gleam in the future. I go for Origin Pulse and U-turn the Tapu Koko, which drops my Incineroar. Foul Play does a decent amount to my Kyogre as I hit both Origin Pulses, putting both Pokemon in the yellow as I am able to bring out my Xerneas. I feel there’s nothing wrong with getting Incineroar in and preserving my Kyogre and going for Geomancy, as there was little she could do to punish that play. I bring in Incineroar for my Kyogre as she goes for Nature’s Madness into my Xerneas and Foul Plays my Incineroar as I’m able to get Geomancy up.

I swap Incineroar into Amoonguss and Dazzling Gleam so I could have the ability to Rage Powder the Metagross that would come in the next turn, as Yveltal goes for Sucker Punch onto my Xerneas for a little chip damage. Both Tapu Koko and Yveltal go down. Metagross and Kyogre are revealed to be the last two. I go for Dazzling Gleam and Rage Powder as Meaghan doesn’t Mega Evolve her Metagross, letting Amoonguss live the Ice Beam and Iron Head double up. Next turn, I Moonblast the Kyogre and Rage Powder, because I need to pick up a knockout this turn if she attacks with both Pokémon. She doesn’t Protect either Pokémon as Bullet Punch knocks out Amoonguss and Moonblast finishes off the Kyogre. Metagross is left at half health as Incineroar comes in, and the game is won from here.

Top 4!!! Unfortunately, Stephen lost here, so I was the only person in top 4 that wasn’t from Japan. I would try my best to do well and enter Championship Sunday.

<hr/ >

Top 4 – Naoto Mizobuchi [JP] (5-2 / 1st) – WLL

I had played Naoto before at the 2015 World Championship (round 1 of Day 2). We had a really close set back then, and he ended up finishing in top 4, so I knew this was going to be a hard set. I also got very limited information, as well as some misinformation, which would come into play later during this set.

Game 1: Naoto led Salamence / Lunala with Stakataka and Groudon in the back. I’m able to get many reads right and continue to capitalize on every turn. Thankfully, Amoonguss’s Focus Sash came in clutch, as it lived a crit Continental Crush from the Stakataka and was able to Spore. I’m able to rotate around with Incineroar and Amoonguss while safely setting up a Geomancy with my Xerneas after the Lunala was weakened. Xerneas was then able to sweep Naoto.

Game 2: Naoto led Stakataka / Lunala with Groudon and Tapu Fini in the back. I was told Lunala didn’t have Wide Guard, so I led Tornadus and Kyogre, trying to bait out the Groudon switch. Lunala reveals the Wide Guard and I lose my Tornadus and inevitably lose the game. I play it out and force Naoto to reveal all his Pokémon.

Game 3: Naoto led Groudon / Lunala with Tapu Fini and Stakataka in the back. I led with Amoonguss and Incineroar. Turn 1, I instantly think he goes for a switch to Tapu Fini to avoid a Fake Out and Spore combination, so I try to U-turn and Grass Knot for chip damage, but then I realized something after I locked in. I had always immediately gone for U-turn throughout the set instead of going for Fake Out, so it was very likely that he would try to double up my Amoonguss. My worst fears are realized as that’s exactly what he does. I then try to read a Groudon switch and double into a slot so I could maybe win the game by clicking Water moves, but Naoto makes a very smart play and switches out the other slot and I end up not having a win condition afterward.

Unfortunately, my runs ends in top 4. I was a little disheartened at first after the set, but after having a fun dinner and hanging out with everyone, I realized how lucky I was to have made it this far and for the great friends I had.

Worlds Day 3 (Final Day / Sunday)

Had a pretty chill day with everyone watching finals from the audience. I was rooting for Naoto to win the tournament, and was very happy when he won, because he definitely deserves it with how well he played all weekend. After the closing ceremony, I mainly spent time with everyone in different hotel lobbies having fun conversations, got dinner, and then took a late bus back to NYC.


I came really close to becoming a Pokémon World Champion, but fell short. I’m still very proud of my run and with the team that I’ve stuck with throughout most of the season. It was also an amazing experience to travel around the world and compete against many different international players. Next year, Worlds is in London, and I am excited to be able to finally go there after not being able to attend the two Internationals that were in London. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do well next season, especially at Worlds, and maybe finally become a Pokémon World Champion.

Gaz – David Mancuso, Ashton Cox, Jeremy Rodriguez, Stephen Mea, Jake Skurchak, Emilio Forbes, Eduardo Cunha, Mark Mcquillan, Luka Trejut, Brady Smith, Joseph Costagolia, George Tifferman, Mihrab Samad, Joe Nunziata, Michael Spinneta McCarthy, Vinny Speciale, Nathan Wright, Wacka, and more. Love the crew, and some of the best friends anyone could have. It has been a truly fun year. We’ve had some really fun times and conversations, both in real life at events and in online calls/chats.

AGG – Some friends that I’ve known for a long time. They don’t play at tournaments or VGC at all, but are really good at the game. I played them in sets everyday for a straight month before Worlds. They also helped me with deciding certain sets and experimenting with the team. They’ve been helping me for two years, and I’m very lucky to know them.

Edu & Emilio – Another big shoutout to these guys. They’ve been helping me for a long time, whether it’s practice sets, matchup advice, or gameplans. They’ve always had my back.

East Coast (Especially NY/NJ Crew) – Love the east coast people. It was also a fun bus ride to the event, and they were cheering me on during Top Cut. Nick Borghi was my personal Team Yell, and was the first one to run up and hug me when he found out I was in top cut. Also, big thanks to Jeremy Gross and Jonathan Evans for the information during some of my sets.

Snowball Crew (and US 1K Chat) – It was a fun year traveling around and seeing who would compete for the last Day 2 slots. There were some very entertaining conversations that we had in 1k chat. It was also great to visit different countries and meet people.

Family, Friends and Fans – Thanks to everyone who has supported me on this outstanding journey. I always appreciate anyone who has sent me a kind message or has met me and helped me in person. I’m really lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life.