Tuesday, 6 May 2014

[VG] Ich bin der Krähenkönig... (My 2014 German Nationals Report)

Well yeah, and that's it for me already in this (official) season – on the day it started, it ended. The tournament was both good and bad for me in various ways and I mostly want to get it all out of my system so I can move out without thinking too much about it easier. Spoilers: I went 6-2, which is obviously a lot better than all of my previous year but still not enough for shit. Whatever... Have fun with this informal report.

Preparation and Team Choice

My preparation was so-so, I'd say. I tried out some things because I was worried my trusty Team MEGATAR would fail me in Swiss because of its defensive nature and the distribution of not many inaccurate moves but them being exactly where it often matters the most, but not unsurprisingly to no avail. Guess I won't tell too much about those attempts though – with the Nugget Bridge Invitational, I still have one tournament to play this summer, and going into it still absolutely empty-handed, I am going to do what I can do to finally get that one result in years uncounted...

Adding to that, thanks to life being funny and all, I had not a single game of Pokémon in the week before the tournament, so I was heading into it absolutely cold. Team choice? Well, I still only had one usable team on my game, which I then pretty much had to take to the very end. Not in a forced way though; I'm all behind my choice. MEGATAR has brought me to the NBI to begin with and actually got me a theoretical 7-1 Bo1 record (only counting the first games per match) in the NB Major, and I stand by the view that MEGATAR is the strongest mon in existence, no fucking contest. There was one matchup that I felt was a clear auto-loss and it was getting popular on Japanese Battle Spot – and all of the Japanese metagame itself was pretty rough to me, totally unlike all of the Major in parallel to that –, but knowing that there is no team without matchups to just throw away, I just had to pray not to face it. Turns out I in fact didn't face it, thanks community.

The team was Tyranitar, Meowstic, Heat Rotom, Scrafty, Aegislash and Gardevoir – the lineup I also used for most of the Major, but with one last-minute moveset chance that may have mattered or not, it's hard to tell. But more on that in the NB article that I'm going to write throughout the remainder of the European season that's going to happen without me, so you can still look forward to that, haha. Instead, let's just dive right into my tournament experience and then some comments that I think belong to my informal report as well.

The Swiss Rounds

As expected, sadly no top 32. It was going to be the biggest bloodbath in history, that was certain from the very beginning at the latest. But what else can the underdog me do than just trust in my skill and experience, and play? Let's go.

Also, if there's no indication of nationality beside a name, that person is from Germany. I happened to play more foreigners than Germans in my schedule, way to have German Nationals I guess. However, it was fair enough that I didn't have to play a friend.

Round 1: vs. Nils H.

Nidoking, Rotom-W, Murkrow, Kangaskhan, Aegislash and Meowstic

Did I mention I had lots of trouble with Japanese Battle Spot? Well, now I'm starting the day against a guy with visually apparent Asian ancestry and a Japanese game. Gonna be in for a ride!

I should have trusted my feelings to simply not hit the Swagger button when I don't absolutely have to. That's because I do hit the Swagger button onto his Aegislash once it comes in and it then proceeds to OHKO my poor Scrafty with Sacred Sword. RIP Scrafty, nice 3-4 start into the game. At least the RNG did get him one confusion self-hit in Blade form a bit later, making my way back into this game a bit easier yet still hard. So, I just have to get a good MEGATAR going now and I have to get it past said Aegislash, Rotom, Kangaskhan and a Murkrow with Quash and Tailwind. Sounds rough but it's actually the order of magnitude I'm used to working against. That said, I successfully manage to soften his team up enough to ultimately pull through with the MEGATAR sweep. It was very, very close though, because I missed an important Rock Slide on his Rotom which then just Hydro'd into me not having a Safeguard up – next turn I got a flinch to theorymonically make up for it and after that I learned he actually did have Will-O-Wisp on it, so my call of not setting up my Safeguard asap was quite lucky and maybe exactly what won me. 2-0 win, 1-0 record.

Round 2: vs. Mijo M. (MijoPhoenix)

Venusaur, Charizard, Blastoise, Raichu, Nidoking and Murkrow

Two games, two Nidokings, two Murkrows. And later I learned that all three of his Kanto starters had Mega Stones. And Raichu and Nidoking obviously are nice accompaniments for a nice Ash Ketchum + Gary Oak team if you will, haha. He's also the only player who did beat drug duck in that recent live tournament that he won, so not an easy opponent for sure.

He leads Raichu and Mega Blastoise. When I talk about my absolutely worst matchup, these mons are no part of it, but they're still a lot of trouble to me. In fact, Blastoise is literally like the only mon in existence that can make me regret Amoonguss's dismissal... Anyway, I pretty much have to start this defensively, getting Meowstic in and Light Screen up asap, otherwise the Blastoise would overrun me and Raichu's Encore (assuming he actually has it) could be a difference maker as well. While I do get myself the breathing room to actually be able to afford a Dragon Dance, he now brings in his own Murkrow and, well, it has its way with me. I'm expecting Quash, Thunder Wave, Tailwind or whatever, and Tailwind in fact is what I'm seeing the turn after, but this turn... It is Confuse Ray. And MEGATAR hits itself in shame. Had I just gotten that Rock Slide in, it would have been very winnable, but this now is very bad. Then, I get to more or less successfully stall the Tailwind again so I only have to pray for Raichu missing Focus Blast while I Fake Out the Blastoise to maybe get back into it. And Focus Blast does in fact miss, but not in this turn but one later when it matters no longer. 0-3 loss, 1-1 record.

Well, this is looking magnificent so far, just like 2013, haha. But looking at how I coughed my way through that first match already, I can't say I disagree with my current record, regardless of how painful it may be. In 2013, both of my early losses spelled disaster, but maybe I can do better, or even a lot better this time...

Round 3: vs. Nils S.

Chesnaught, Ampharos, Ferrothorn, Rotom-H, Murkrow and Slowking

Third Murkrow, fucking third Murkrow! What have I done so horribly wrong in my life? They say, when the raven crows three times at your window, you're gonna die soon. Good times, good times ahead...

He's the first one to actually not bring it though, so there's a glimmer of hope still. He leads with a support-less Slowking, so I make the right call in double-targeting it with Dazzling Gleam and Crunch for the instant KO, so no obvious Trick Room for him. What he has left are two Grass mons and a Mega Ampharos, which means that I just have to protect Rotom well enough for a mostly safe win. It does get funny a bit when I miss Will-O-Wisp on Amphy twice, but turns out I actually don't need even need it to hit there, because two Shadow Balls and one Thunderbolt are enough to down it, while the Grass mons can't really touch Aegi. I end up sacrifing MEGATAR for maybe playing it overly safely and he ends up eventually dropping at 2-4 – well, good that my resistance shall not matter anyway... 2-0 win, 2-1 record.

Round 4: vs. Karl W. [AT]

Mamoswine, Chesnaught, Salamence, Mawile, Tyranitar and Rotom-W

Murkrow streak finally broken, but still the second Chesnaught of all things.

He has a Ray-style Timid Tyranitar and a Chesnaught that outspeeds my Aegislash and can poentially Leech Seed it, which is a bit annoying, but manageable enough. With Gardy and Rotom and Chesnaught and Tar, I have a favorable lead, don't get bitten by a Rock Slide flinch but just another of those fortunately not too costly WOW misses and maintain momentum and control all the way through the match. It's also the first one where I decide not to bring MEGATAR but just wear him down with Intimidate, burns (along with terrible Rotom-H matchups of the mons he decided to use against me) and this my Fairy/Steel half-core if you will. Wanna know some irony? He brought a Substitute plush to the table but my Aegislash's Substitute is one of the things he just didn't get past in the end. 2-0 win, 3-1 record.

Round 5: vs. Sébastien H. [BE]

Rotom-W, Garchomp, Amoonguss, Tyranitar, Kangaskhan and Talonflame

A “normal” team, finally! This is the metagame I did prepare for... Other than that interesting opponent – he was already at Worlds as a Junior two times (in 2009 and 2010), and apparently now he's already a Master. Interesting matchup.

Yeah, interesting matchup but somehow rather disappointing match, unfortunately. Not bringing Kangaskhan at all against me actually could be a wise thing to do against my team that really is designed to counter Kanga hard, but he does have Amoonguss and Amoonguss deals with some of those measures well enough. He appears to be not quite on top of his game, letting his Amoonguss fall a bit too easily for my experience and spamming Brave Bird even when I have both Tyranitar and Rotom on my side of the arena. This pretty much enables me to get a free Dragon Dance and then MEGATAR proceeds to relentlessly kill all that is left of his team (also adding some useless Rock Slide flinch luck into the mix that I would have preferred somewhere else, lol). 4-0 win, 4-1 record.

4-1 is solid. I've never seen that record beside my name in an official tournament ever. The dream is alive!!

Round 6: vs. Rachel A. [UK] (SPEevee)

Mienshao, Garchomp, Manectric, Mawile, Gardevoir and Talonflame

Another Worlds participant for me, nice! And also a chance to get to terms with my general weakness to players from the one big island that matters over here, maybe...

I make one of the silliest opening plays ever by trying to Thunder Wave her Gardevoir which at the same time is switched out for Manectric. I try my best to keep this home-made threat in check by threatening Overheat and trying to steal momentum back with Scrafty, which then happens to lose its Assault Vest to Mienshao's Knock Off, if I remember correctly – but it's still enough to get her to switch that +1 Manectric out without it getting an attack off, to my biggest relief. Generally, it's a really hard battle to remember because of a ton of switches on both sides, literally a revolving door of poahkeymanz. I also make the bold call of not bringing my single Mega once again, with it just being so bad or mediocre against 5/6 of her team, and it ironically won't come back to haunt me when I learn that the Mienshao isn't Sashed. Though, even if it were Sashed, my game plan ended up being to hit the right things at the right times, keep Aegislash out of harm's way and make Gardevoir count. Bottom line is, she is slowly losing momentum for switching a bit too much in my opinion while I just get my damage in efficiently, then I offer her my Scrafty for a trade that leads to a 2-2 which she gladly takes, and then my full Aegislash and Gardevoir just beat her weakened Talonflame and burned Gardevoir thanks to her two faster attacks both not critting my mons. Best and most challenging match so far, thanks! 2-0 win, 5-1 record.

Round 7: vs. Steven M. [AT]

Mawile, Salamence, Garchomp, Wigglytuff, Rotom-H and Aegislash

This looks like a combination of both Ray teams at preview. Just the plain sight of that makes me smile mentally, but it's a rather neutral news either way, for my matchup against this kind of teams usually depends a lot on what both parties (and the RNG) decide to do.

I lead Gardy and Rotom, he leads Mawile and Wiggly. Gardy Traces Competitive. Gardy is at +2, good stuff right there. I decide to yolo it and hit the Overheat + Dazzling buttons. He neither Protects Mawile nor switches it out. Dead. Wigglytuff (whatever it was supposed to do against my lead anyway, assuming Ray's set) gets crit by the Gleam. Dead. 4-2 after turn 1. He has Salamence (Gardy now at +4!) and Aegislash left. Trolls me a bit with an unexpected Wide Guard but then just uselessly hits the Rock Slide button with Salamence, doing nothing of importance. I just bring in Tyranitar for Rotom the next turn and lock this match up; one of my fastest unforfeited wins ever with this slowish team and for sure one with very high entertainment value. 4-0 win, 6-1 record.

Round 8: vs. Simon S. [UK] (Falco)

Azumarill, Aegislash, Kangaskhan, Gardevoir, Garchomp and Pyroar

Azumarill, there it is! That's another one of those mons that gave me a lot of trouble in the recent months, and I did tech quite a few things mostly for it. Neither of which will actually get to use this match, I can tell that much.

Rotom and Aegislash against Gardevoir and Garchomp, so the leads. Not liking this field, but gotta deal with what I have. I click the Shadow Ball in Gardevoir's slot and I make a good call, as he just uses Rock Slide and Dazzling Gleam. My Will-O-Wisp just uses up his Lum Berry and my Aegislash... flinches. Bad turn, I took damage and got pretty much nothing in return. I protect Rotom and my team from further free damage by King's Shielding and switching to Meowstic, with an eventual MEGATAR setup in my schemes. Well, now he learns to protect his Gardevoir from my Aegi's wrath and reveals Azumarill! Also the next awkward position for me – I now basically just hit Charm on all of his physical attackers, praying that he doesn't Belly Drum and kill me. Eventually, I get a +2 Attack MEGATAR and have it use Rock Slide on the softened up Azumarill whose Sitrus Berry is also used up, hoping to get rid of it and maybe Dragon Dance later in the face of the Charmed Garchomp. The Azumarill then happens to survive just at a pixel of health, doesn't flinch and hits me with Superpower of all things. Not quite what I would have expected on a Sitrus + Protect set, but it's there and it's going to kill all my dreams. MEGATAR hangs on in the red from this hit, enough to fall to Garchomp in the next turn, after Azumarill literally bites the dust in the sand. I still try to somehow come back from this, but I can't. Rock Slide betrayed me for the game, the match and the tournament. In the end the match goes to time in a position that is next to unwinnable anyway. 1-3 loss, 6-2 record.

Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking. I was in the running for the cut till the very end and then I lost it all by not winning this one more game. Rankings eventually went up, 15th place in my flight and only one 6-2 in the other flight made it. Naturally, there also were no prizes for this result except some lousy CP that are useless to people who are not fucking vagabonding through all of Europe. But before I get into too much rambling about all of this... let's finish the section and start another first!

More on this round though... I'm gonna film it and re-watch the shit out of it once I find my camera somewhere deep in the packages. Billa already criticized me for not doing riskier plays (like Swaggering Garchomp) when the situation was looking hopeless, and I couldn't argue against him there. Yes, Rock Slide was absolutely horrible, but maybe I really got intimidated too much by these otherwise rather usual strikes of the RNG. And I have no right for any RNG to ever happen, that much is certain and there still are way too many people who need to learn this.

The Aftermath and Other Stuff

My Personal Metagame

5 Rotom (3 Wash, 2 Heat)
4 Garchomp
3 Aegislash
3 Kangaskhan
3 Mawile
3 Murkrow
2 Chesnaught

2 Gardevoir
2 Nidoking
2 Salamence
2 Talonflame
2 Tyranitar
1 Amoonguss
1 Ampharos
1 Azumarill
1 Blastoise
1 Charizard
1 Ferrothorn
1 Mamoswine
1 Manectric
1 Meowstic
1 Mienshao
1 Pyroar
1 Raichu
1 Slowking
1 Venusaur
1 Wigglytuff

Well, there it is in numbers. Why am I not rich from this!??

Opponents' Mega Choices and Options

R1: Kangaskhan
R2: Blastoise (also had Venusaur and one of the Charizards, don't remember which one)
R3: Ampharos
R4: Mawile
R5: none (didn't bring Kangaskhan)
R6: Manectric (also had Mawile)
R7: Mawile
R8: none (also didn't bring Kangaskhan)

So it took me till the round before the last round till I saw a ME for the second time. Overall, this piece of the metagame turned out to be expectably dominated by two out of the Big Three though.

What I Learned (Or: The Eternal Quest for a Better System)

All right, time to be heartbroken, salty, butthurt and whatever again, here's where it belongs!

I honestly have no idea what to personally take away from this tournament. Sure, I didn't play perfectly all the way through it, but hardly anyone does really and I was out of practice. So, summing it all up, my performance certainly could have been better, but for the time being, I am satisfied. 2013 had two 4-3 runs for me which were well deserved in the negative way and now I have a 6-2 run which was well deserved in the positive way. It's exactly how I wanted to perform and I got it all on my own. It was a good run and I can legit say I'm one of the best 10% players in the tournament. With that I'm really happy.

However, what I'm absolutely angry with is the system. The system that says that I'm equally unworthy of anything as the other me that went 4-3 a year ago. I played a much better tournament for the same result: being eliminated after the preliminary stage. I played a much better tournament for the same prize: absolutely nothing (except some Championship Points that were extended anyway and that won't ever have a use for me – I can't take them forward to the next season where I might really need them!). Let's also have that obligatory mention that the VG tournament is about double the size of the TCG tournament and still only the tournament with fewer players and fewer impact on the season's result is the one that gets all the love.

At the stage of writing this, I don't even know if I'm actually top 32 or not, haha. I'm just 15th in my flight (supposedly the stronger one, according to general opinions – not that I value them much...) but my resistance is so shit that I wouldn't remain in the top 32 if the rankings of both flights were just mashed together. And it doesn't matter at all, because I don't care if I get twenty or zero CPs or whatever the actually payout is, I don't care. What I do know is if they had just given us top 16 cut per flight, I would still have been in and had a fair chance at moving forward. At last year's US Nationals, absolutely every X-2 got in, but here now only one X-2 got in (and he wasn't even in my flight). Remember they were supposed to have a top 16 as well? They got the top 32 literally the night before the tournament, based on no actual rule at all, and they will also get the top 32 this year guaranteed, even with a Bo3 Swiss instead of single elimination. There's no way we would have not deserved something of those as well, but TPCi hates all countries that are not the United States of America.

And no, that's totally not just my personal misery. Just have a look at the photos of the rankings roaming over Twitter and you'll see the full extent of the bloodbath. There are so many good players at 6-2 and out, just as many as those that wound up on the good side of things. And then taking the format and all that stuff into account, the Swiss results could vary a lot if we just played this tournament a second time. Even the one Yoshi that has just written history with his 16-0 run could very realistically just go 6-2 on another day and then he would be gone as well! And well, I can't see anyone not named AlphaZealot agreeing with that, haha. If the goal really is to just get X-2s out for good, we should just play fuckin double elimination brackets and then we would actually even have more time to fit the desired Bo3 into it! And then we would have a better system than we have right now, not even kidding.

I think you get the point. I'll be dwelling on it forever as long as it doesn't get fixed the right way, but it's enough for now. Ignoring that, it was still a very fun tournament. I'll be back next year – at least I assume so. I am certainly not looking forward to a format where a team of Kangaskhan, Cresselia, Landorus, Thundurus, Heatran and Tyranitar (you may also call it: six Megas, five with real items) is good, but we should just wait for the rules to be announced before we worry too much about that.

People in Top 4 Are Drunk

It's a tradition that won't go away. Back in 2009, yours truly actually was in there and my opponent tried to Fake Out my Crobat. Also taking the final into account, I can't deny having done some questionable plays there. In 2010, the finalist packing that auto-pilot team of his brotherly mastermind didn't know what to hit Palkia with ideally, among other things I don't remember. In 2011, we had a finalist that very well was a good player when he cared, but a trainwreck when he didn't care, and of course he didn't care with the trip in the back and threw it like a boss. In 2012, the finalist irrationally believed the final match would be Bo3 because he claims the personnel would have inexplicably told him something like that before, then sandbagged for what was supposed to be game 1 and got slaughtered to win 2nd place. In 2013, the only German left in the tournament that likely validly got this far somehow no longer had an idea what he was doing and we lost the first championship to an invader.

Now it's 2014 and it's actually an invader that is the source of not all but a lot of the madness. This semi final that was on the big screen should pop up on YouTube every instant, and once you see it, you'll probably do at least one of these things: palming scars into your face or laughing your eyes dry. It was an absolutely ridiculous set... Basically, the one of them didn't realize any threats at all, thus made a bunch of questionable plays all the way through it and the RNG also helped to bail him out in the most hilarious ways imaginable. And the other, well, it was his match to lose, and he lost it just like that. Without further analysis I'm not quite sure if it was overconfidence, over-safety or a combination of both, but he wasn't quite in a position to actually lose this match, neither to the RNG nor the player – but then he did anyway! Matches like those can be really depressing; probably a lot of people are wondering how those people got this far, seeing that... But with how fuckin hard this tournament is, they've probably in fact done their work to get there. Also, it's Pokémon and Pokémon can be a funny game. Have a good Worlds!

That's pretty much it for me and this tournament. Now I can focus on writing that MEGATAR team analysis and maybe also get back to play this format again a bit. If on PS or BS, it actually doesn't matter a lot, for both are great sources of frustration, haha. Take care! Meow ♥


  1. Get over yourself, you lost. Don't slate players because of one game, they got that far based on 10 other matches, it does you no favours in a community where embracing the RNG and having fun with it are a far better way to go than taking every little thing to heart. Remember it's a game, not life and death. Everyone goes hoping to win but if they don't they come up with a new team and try again next time, those that get bitter about it should just give up and play something else!

    1. Hello, did you comment on the wrong tab of your browser? I have no idea in what way your text is supposed to be related to my report/attitude. But thanks anyway, I guess.