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A Really Late Elite Four Challenge Report (VGC 2014)

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frozenleaf

Posts: 20

Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:34 pm

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Post Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:46 am

A Really Late Elite Four Challenge Report (VGC 2014)

<Introduction>
Hi, I'm Elite Four Low Wai Yin, and this is my ridiculously long wall-of-text report on the 2014 Elite Four Challenge! I've been playing Pokémon since 1998, and have been an active competitive player in the Singapore scene since 2011, when I made Top 16 in that year's Elite 4. I've also participated in the World Championships in 2013, and since I decided not to go this year, the Elite Four challenge was the first and last time I actively participated in a VGC 14 tournament.

For 2014, I didn't actually really like the metagame much, and spent most of the year since the VGC 14 ruleset was announced playing around with a really unstable Charizard X team that... didn't really do too well in the long run and had issues with most of the top mons in the meta. It wasn't until March or April that I built this team (or as Kit Meng, my brother and 2012 E4, would attest, just copied whatever he was musing at the time over dinner) and after months of struggling for every victory, it felt good to have a team that you knew all the damage calculations/speed tiers to and wasn't completely reliant on you trying to predict everything every turn every battle with a Charizard X bluff. Admittedly, it's quite outdated and some of the sets are considered 'gimmicks' and I'm pretty sure half of the people who read this would think I'm probably some scrub that made it through by sheer chance (honestly I'm not dismissing that option either) but it did decently well on Showdown (75% win rate and breached 1400- yes I have low standards) and I had never felt so comfortable with a team ever before as with this one.

<Team Outline>
As is the case for most of my successful teams, this team was originally built around a 'gimmick'- or rather, by my intense hatred of Kanga-Smeargle teams. The original lineup of the team was supposed to be for Kangaskhan-Smeargle, in a weird reasoning of 'if I run Kanga-Smeargle I can figure out what stops it so then I can implement this knowledge to stop it later'. Kit Meng was the one who originally came up with the concept. Basically, our idea was that in most cases, Kanga-Smear was a thing that people only usually had one counter for; and if so, then there would be a fallback of Talon-Smear, with Talonflame having Quick Guard to block Fake Out, and Tailwind to make Smeargle insanely fast. And even without Smeargle, the team had enough lead options that you could probably get a good lead matchup against someone who obviously only had one Smeargle counter. Regardless, the original lineup worked so well together (even with Smeargle being dead weight in some cases) that when I saw the rankings for the top 12 Pokémon in VGC 14 sometime around March/April, I wasn't surprised that I was essentially using some of the top Pokémon of the metagame together. All I needed was to ditch Smeargle for a Salamence and I'd have a standard goodstuff team made up of the Top 6 of VGC 14.

So I did.
So without further ado, the team which I used throughout the E4 Challenge:

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Carnation the Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
Early Bird=> Parental Bond
Adamant, 252 HP/252 Attack/4 Speed
Fake Out/Power-Up Punch/Return/Sucker Punch

MegaMom has been the keystone of the team, usually the Pokémon I've come to rely on as my win condition. It's hard not to see why - VGC 14 is THE meta for Mega Kangskhan, it being really hard to stop with its beautiful mix of offense, defense and speed. In earlier teams, I had tried out the Jolly, speedier set, but it always seemed to fail me when I needed it the most. I was originally surprised to see how effective the max HP set was, what with it making use of MKanga's defenses to sponge just about every single thing you can imagine- even Modest Charizard Y's Overheat in the sun is not a guaranteed OHKO- and with the right prediction of when to Power-Up Punch, MegaMom could rip through teams like a hot knife through butter. Unless they ran Quick Guard. That always sucked.

While I always lost the speed tie to other MKangas, I never actually minded it. As with most MKanga mirrors, to quote my other mentor, Matthew Hui (2011 Singapore E4 Champion), it always depends on which Kangaskhan managed to set up first, and knowing that I could survive just about everything opposing Kangas could throw at me made it safer for me to go for the Power-Up Punch. Knowing that the opponent outspeeds you as a certainty made it easy to predict when they'd try for the sucker punch to prevent my own +2 Kanga from sucker punching, which then made it easier for me to predict when to Quick Guard on Talon or to outplay them. Or I could switch out to Salamence or Aegislash. It was a lot of mind games.

While I wasn't against the idea of optimizing my MKanga spread instead of using 252/252/4, to be honest, I never actually felt the need to split my EVs to survive anything during testing (because MKanga just survived everything to begin with, or I wouldn't be using MKanga against the matchups where pokes could potentially OHKO and everything worked out fine) and the lack of speed didn't really bother me after a while. As for Early Bird, Carnation was the first MegaMom I trained and to be completely honest, because I was playing in French, I didn't actually notice its ability was Early Bird instead of Scrappy until AFTER I won battles with it. After which I figured if I lasted as long as I had already, it probably didn't matter - especially since I had Aegislash and other alternatives to ghosts and Parental Bond kicks in on turn 1 most battles anyway. Plus I was lazy to rebreed. I apologize - you should not follow my example.


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Chompy the Garchomp @ Lum Berry
Rough Skin
Jolly, 4 HP/252 Attack/252 Speed
Rock Slide/Earthquake/Dragon Claw/Protect

Garchomp has surprisingly become one of the best Pokémon I've ever used in VGC 14. Back when I first started, I used it for a core of Garchomp-Talon-Rotom-W to support Mega Mawile, and life was good. Despite its less-than-amazing offensive capabilities, it proved to be a real scrapper for my team - Dragon Clawing many things for decent neutral damage with dragon's beautiful offensive typing, dishing out Earthquakes for spread damage or flinching opponents with Rock Slide, all the while carrying a Lum Berry to stop random statuses and hax like burns from flamethrower, or somebody swaggering a physical attacker or something. The dragon/ground typing also provided a lot of good resistances that synergized well with my team - immunity to electric attacks, resistance to rock, resistance to fire... With a team that could support its ice and dragon weaknesses, it was easy to switch Garchomp in and out, allowing it to dish small amounts of damage before retreating until late game, when it could clean up easily.

That Lum Berry also made Garchomp my main answer to Smeargle-Kangaskhan (which by now you probably realize I absolutely hate), as when it's paired with Talonflame it usually can pull off 2 Earthquakes to knock out the opposing Smeargle and deal good damage to the Kanga. Besides that, it made it easier for Garchomp to be brought out against opposing Rotom-H since I didn't need to be afraid of the burn from WoW. Essentially, Garchomp had a good balance of defense, offense and speed, which made it an invaluable offensive and defensive pivot.
Rough Skin proved extremely useful as well, dealing chip damage to opposing physical attackers and potentially netting KOs that would never have occurred otherwise, along with breaking sashes and whatnot.

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Brucey the Rotom-Wash @ Sitrus Berry
Calm, 252 HP/192 Sp.Attack/52 Sp.Defense/12 Speed
Hydro Pump/Will-O-Wisp/Thunderbolt/Protect

Rotom-W was another piece of my original 'core'. He was also the only one with a customized EV spread - 252 HP 52 Sp.Defense Calm survives Timid Charizard Y Solarbeam, and stands a nice 50% of surviving Modest Charizard Y (but to be completely honest, I have no idea why I didn't go the full way and EV to survive that as well, but whatever), which also means that Rotom-W essentially became the Pokémon I could count on to sponge special attacks to a certain extent and retaliate with still enough special attack that it would actually hurt. 12 Speed to outspeed 4 Speed Rotom-W/H because let's all face it - there's always a point in time when you will end up losing a game because of a speed tie with opposing Rotom formes.

Rotom-W partners well with both Garchomp and Talonflame, sponging the ice attacks that would devastate Chomp while providing a much needed, solid check to Talonflame's threats like Rotom-H and Aerodactyl. It also helped burn opposing Aegislash and other physical attackers earlier during the metagame, although with the recent prevalence of Lum Berry, I've taken to just going for the attack more often than not instead.
Defensively, Rotom-W has only one weakness which is covered by both Aegislash and Talonflame, and it could take on the most dangerous ice Pokémon in the metagame – Mamoswine - and come out on top. This was especially useful for me since I was running double dragons as well as an Aegislash. Also it served as a good backup Pokémon in most rain matchups, which my team usually had to struggle slightly more against, and once Ludicolo or Manectric was taken out of the picture, Rotom-W could have a field day. It also gave me a solid counter to Talonflame, with an easy switch into either Flare Blitz or Brave Bird, and gave me some way to take on Azumarill (yet another thing that threatened my double dragons), after I removed the Raichu/Amoonguss redirector that it's often paired with of course.

Sitrus Berry helped a lot to keep Rotom-W alive, what with the huge amount of heavy-hitters in the metagame. Leftovers was another option I toyed with, but it didn't give Rotom-W the immediate healing that the washing machine usually needed to stay out of danger.

Rotom-W was one of the least used members of my team, and I generally brought him along for specific matchups, but occasionally he would do more than expected and remind me exactly why he's on the team.

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Kacaw the Talonflame @ Sky Plate
Adamant, 4 HP/252 Attack/252 Speed
Brave Bird/Flare Blitz/Quick Guard/Tailwind

Kacaw was originally a Talonflame on loan from my brother because I was lazy to breed out Talonflame in January or something, after which he decided to just give it to me since it had perfect IVs in all the relevant stats. It also holds a Sky Plate because, quote from Kit: "Sky Plate is better than Sharp Beak because it has 1 extra line of description. Therefore, it is better." We didn't like the Life Orb recoil damage and while Kit later converted to Choice Band Talonflame, I always liked my Talons to be able to do a little more than attack recklessly.

Since my team had some issues with matchups in which they lost the speed advantage (especially since I was running bulky spreads for most of my mons), Tailwind was used to exploit a possible dead turn or sacrifice itself and suddenly turn the match to my favor (unless Trick Room). Quick Guard was also used in situations where I did have the speed advantage and wanted to keep my mons from taking priority damage (Azumarill's Aqua Jet, opposing Talonflame Brave Bird, Sucker Punches being the most common), or to stop Prankster Pokémon from disrupting my team (I'm looking at you, Meowstic). Priority Brave Bird was also incredibly useful regardless of speed tiers, and Talonflame could function well enough in Trick Room so much so that I didn't really have to worry too much about outspeeding/underspeeding anything while using it.
Talonflame was one of the mons that I was willing to sacrifice for the greater good of the game, but even so, there were times that preserving it for late game or certain matchups was preferable. Were it not for the excellent team synergy it had with Garchomp, Rotom-W and Aegislash, it would have been far harder for me to use it to its full extent - and as it was, Talonflame essentially became the most common Pokémon I brought for my lead. While Sky Plate was, in no way, as damage-boosting as Choice Band or Life Orb, it didn't sap away at Talonflame's health or lock it into a single move, allowing it some flexibility for as long as it was required to stay out on the field, as well as possibly feigning a Choice Band set as long as I didn't reveal Quick Guard or Tailwind.

I ran 252 Attack because I liked my Talonflame to actually deal decent damage. 252 Speed was to at least give me a chance to win speed ties vs other Adamant Talons and to avoid Liepard Sucker Punch (Kit really liked Liepard at one point in time, so...).

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Kitty the Salamence @ Choice Scarf ==> Life Orb
Modest, 4HP/252 Sp.Attack/252 Speed
Draco Meteor/Hydro Pump/Rock Slide/Fire Blast => Draco Meteor/Protect/Rock Slide/Fire Blast

Kitty was named in honor of my brother and his 10 separate Salamence sets. The last Pokémon to actually be tossed onto the team, Salamence filled the spot that was once taken by Amoonguss. I chose it over the mushroom because of a) Intimidate b) Draco Meteor c) Choice Scarf d) it pairs up with Garchomp well and e) it had far better offensive presence than Amoonguss. That and well, I always wanted to see what the big fuss over double dragons was.
To be completely fair, while Salamence has proved useful on occasion to snipe faster Pokémon like Aerodactyl, Pyroar, Manectric and other less common Pokémon, the Choice Scarf did make life far more difficult for me. It came to a point where I could only rely on Salamence against non-standard teams or weaker players, because most of the teams I saw during the Elite 4 Challenge were more than prepared to deal with Double Dragons, especially one that was locked in with a scarf.

After the Qualifiers, I realized that Scarf Salamence was more liability than boon - most of the battles I brought it for, I ended up losing, and by Day 2 I pretty much never brought it ever. After a discussing the problem with my brother, Aaron Traylor, and Matthew Hui, I finally decided to be completely true to paying homage to my brother and tossed a Life Orb onto Kitty instead. (Kit Meng swears by Life Orb Salamence if he absolutely has to use it.)
While it was scarfed, Hydro Pump was run because I always found water coverage useful on Salamence for some reason and always seemed to pick it over Fire Blast when the opponent didn't have a Mawile/Amoonguss/random fire weak Pokémon on the team. Rock Slide was because I hate Talonflames and like to fish for flinches, Draco Meteor for STAB, and Fire Blast because there's nothing more satisfying than Fire Blasting a Mawile/Amoonguss in the face; especially more so if they aren't EVd to take LO Fire Blast and faint. Unfortunately, the lack of accuracy with Salamence made me very reluctant to depend on it consistently, and I've learned to play around without its intimidate, though there are times when it does shine and prove its worth.

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Myrmidon the Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Quiet, 31 Speed IV, 252 HP/252 Sp.Attack/4 Sp.Def
Shadow Sneak/Shadow Ball/Flash Cannon/King's Shield

Aegislash was one of the very first members of the team - the original 'core' of the team was supposed to be Kanga-Aegis. And well, generally it worked. Kanga absorbed the ghost attacks meant for Aegis and Aegis absorbed the fighting attacks meant for Kanga, both of them were powerful Pokémon in their own right, and they both worked well with the other members of my team (except Garchomp; Garchomp had a tendency to want to earthquake them).

While originally I did play with the Substitute Aegislash set, the very first Aegislash set I was introduced to was the Weakness Policy one, and all too often, I always found myself wishing for WP Aegis's power or, more importantly, Shadow Sneak. Far too often, I found that opponents weakened by a previous attack would presume Aegislash would be unable to take them out since there's a mentality that 'nobody runs Weakness Policy Aegislash because it's a gimmick' and thus go for a King's Shield or something, and they would leave Aegis alone. Shadow Sneak has been able to turn my matches completely around simply because of this, and quite honestly, I could run any other item on Aegislash; but I just really wanted Shadow Sneak.

Weakness Policy itself wasn't a really bad item either. True, it was unreliable for the triggers, but when it did trigger, the power was enormous, nabbing OHKOs against all manner of Pokémon and making Shadow Sneak incredibly dangerous. Moreover, it also tended to make the opponent panic a bit, making them somewhat easier to read once they went 'Oh Shit I Need To Stop That Aegislash'.

Also, well, Aegislash has saved my life countless times in matches. There are times where I'm literally down to Aegislash against three pokémon, and when I somehow win, I'm pretty sure that Weakness Policy was probably the cause. I run it for the surprise value, and even without it, Aegislash is still a valuable member of my team- shoring up my defenses with its neat ghost/steel typing, allowing it to switch into dragons and fighting types with ease. Also it became my normal 'counter' to Trick Room pokémon and Mawile.

I bring Aegislash in most of my matches where I bring Kangaskhan, and for the most part, I don't ever regret it.

<Team Weaknesses/Synergy>

Fact: I have never in my life found a team that synergizes together as well as this one. (Not that they don't exist; I just haven't found a better one.) Nor have I found a team that was so frustratingly, intrinsically good. I know this sounds like me gushing over the team, but hear me out. Generally, when we consider team synergy, we consider how teams deal with threats to individual Pokémon, and how they work around it through careful playing and switching. On some level, all 'good' teams have that, but for this team- this team was golden. For me, this team was literally a toolkit with the answer to everything packed within 6 Pokémon - they synergized well defensively and offensively and could take out each other's threats, there was a good balance of defensive bulk and offensive power, there was speed control on some level, had Intimidate to handle physical attackers, had priority attacks to handle faster Pokémon, Quick Guard and Lum Berry could be employed to deal with disruptive Pokémon, and I could set up to pull out my own win conditions - in all my time using this team, I think for the most part, I lose not because of the team, but because of me, as the trainer.

If there is any weakness in the team, it would be the fact that it is rather prediction heavy. During Day 1 of the Qualifiers, I wasn't in the right frame of mind, and regardless of how hard I tried, the team flopped. Badly. Sometimes it feels like that because there are so many tools for you to use, you sometimes default to the wrong one; and that it takes a lot of careful consideration to realize what you need to do with this team rather than just depending on the Pokémon’s base power and stats to muscle your way through victory. Honestly, while on lower levels of play that would probably work, on higher levels of play, it's highly likely that because the team is so goomy-blasted standard that your opponents will know exactly what your Pokémon are even before you start the battle, and they have counters to your strongest mons (aka poor MegaMom).

Generally though, I play under the assumption that everything and anything will try and is capable of taking out my team, so to be honest, if I wanted to write a threat list, it'd probably be just about every single Pokémon in the metagame.
And well, if I had to really think about it, I think teams with either Mawile or Salamence would actually prove a danger for this team. Mawile automatically threatens half of the team, and Salamence (especially the scarfed variants) can easily take out or heavily dent one or more members of the team before I can stop it. While they can be worked around, playing becomes immediately more difficult around them.

EDIT (after two months from the original writing of this report): Tyranitar itself proves a danger to my team. While it can be played around, WP Tyranitar can easily take out the majority of my members if I let it (with Rock Slide and Ice Beam taking out the majority), and would happily take on Kanga and OHKO it back with Crunch. Dragon Dance Tyranitar, likewise, can threaten my pokemon although it can be checked with Aegislash, Garchomp, and Kangaskhan, but against good players the very presence of Tyranitar puts my team in incredible danger.

So on that note, on to the leads!

<Lead Options>

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This was generally my default lead. Perhaps the wide variety of Talonflame's support options that enable Kangaskhan to set up easily and quickly, or maybe because Fake Out+Tailwind was a quick way to seize offensive momentum in one turn with minimal risk to both Pokémon. Maybe even because Fake Out, Sucker Punch, and priority Brave Bird meant that I could severely damage Pokémon before they could even move (or even knock them out entirely), or force them into defensive moves, which meant Talon stayed alive longer and Kanga could get Power-Up Punch off.

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This is actually my second-favorite lead, especially against Kanga-unfriendly teams. Like with the Rotom-W and Garchomp pairing, both Pokémon have a wide range of offensive options that give me really strong offensive pressure right from the start. Quick Guard also blocks stuff like Ice Shard, Fake Out, and Sucker Punch, enabling Garchomp to go on a rampage if it needs to. Also with quick Tailwind setup, this lead option enables Garchomp to threaten things faster than it that carry HP Ice like Manectric or Pyroar.

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Although I never really used Double Dragons much as I preferred my Fake Out support more, I'm told that Salamence and Garchomp is a strong multi-purpose lead option. That said, there always were other leads that worked better against other teams; although there are occasions where I did employ double dragons to overwhelm weaker players or teams that had a weakness to repeated dragon attacks. Still, the very presence of double dragons on my team is more than enough to lure fairies out as leads, and honestly, I think that's more than enough to help ease prediction of what my opponent is going to bring.
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frozenleaf

Posts: 20

Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:34 pm

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Post Wed Oct 01, 2014 12:49 am

Re: A Really Late Elite Four Challenge Report (VGC 2014)

<Day 1 Qualifiers- An Epic Sequence of Continuous Fails and Why You Should Get A Good Night's Sleep>
Round 1
Brian Soh (Kai)
Azumarill Sableye Talonflame Scizor Manectric Hydreigon
Talonflame/Sableye/Manectric(M)/Scizor vs Aegislash/Salamence/Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W
I honestly don't know what I was thinking in this battle, leading with Aegislash and Salamence and not even bringing Talonflame (which could nail just about every single Pokémon in his team and Quick Guard Sableye's Prankster). I ended up getting Swaggered to death and at the end of the battle, ended up mispredicting his Protects and enabling his Scizor to get a +2 to OHKO my Kangaskhan with Bullet Punch. Without my counter to Swagger, it became really difficult for me to play around the Sableye and OHKO it with confusion hitting me terribly and being threatened by his Talonflame and Mega-Manectric. What's even worse was that somehow it became impossible for me to predict what he was doing- I guess that's what 6 hours of sleep does to you. I ended up losing. 0-1

Round 2
Yue Zheng Ting (Ploopy)
Gengar Diggersby Hydreigon Talon Mawile Rotom-W
Rotom-W/Talonflame/Mawile(M)/Hydreigon vs Salamence/Garchomp/Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)
In even more befuddling plays by myself, I ended up switching my Talonflame into a Rotom-W Thunderbolt in the early game, because the Rotom-W evaded the Salamence Draco Meteor at half health at that particular turn, and since my remaining three Pokémon were at a severe disadvantage to Mega Mawile, I was forced into a pretty bad position. That said, I was doing fairly okay until T9 where I somehow expected Zheng Ting's low-health Hydreigon to try to go for a Double Protect instead of attacking it with Sucker Punch, which ended up getting my Salamence and my Kangaskhan killed on the same turn. Somehow I ended up forgetting about the hax in this battle and went away thinking that there was something extremely wrong with my playing, which probably messed with my head for the rest of the day. Lost, 0-2

Round 3
Su Gi Chandran (Celenia)
Garchomp Mawile Rotom-W Klefki Scrafty Talonflame
Scrafty/Klefki/Garchomp/Talonflame vs Rotom-W/Talonflame/Aegislash/Garchomp
In retrospect, I had no idea what I was doing leading with Rotom-W and Talonflame and not depending on Kangaskhan or Aegislash at all. The second thing I failed to do was to take out the Klefki since it was the biggest danger, and because I failed to stop it, Su Gi's Garchomp got to +4 and swept my team. The battle was over fairly quickly, and I got 4-0'd. Total count of the day: 0-3

Round 4
Chen Yuan (DC)
Liepard Ferrothorn Scrafty Rotom-H Gothitelle Kangaskhan
Rotom-H/Kangaskhan(M)/Ferrothorn/Scrafty vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Garchomp/Aegislash
At this point I already kinda knew that I wasn't going to Top Cut at all, so when I went in for my fourth match I was just trying to figure out where I went wrong. When I saw Chen Yuan's team, somehow I figured that this was probably a 'serious competitive player'-kind-of-team and that even though my opponent was also going 0-3, I couldn't take her lightly. Either that or I was innately terrified of Liepard. That said, even though my Kangaskhan was the first to fall due to losing a Sucker Punch speed tie, I ended up taking the win when Talonflame and Garchomp knocked out both Rotom-H and Ferrothorn on the same turn, leaving only Scrafty and Kangaskhan up against Talonflame, Garchomp, and Aegislash in the back. I guess if I was paying attention I should have realized that the four Pokémon I used for this battle would probably be the four I should have been using all the time. Ice Punch knocked out Garchomp when Talon went for the kill against the Kangaskhan, but by then it was pretty much game. Score: 1-3

Round 5
Gan Eujun (Flux)
Kangaskhan Garchomp Gardevoir Pyroar Azumarill Aegislash
Garchomp/Gardevoir/Azumarill/Kangaskhan(M) vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Rotom-W/Aegislash
When I was rewatching the battle video for this match, I can only stare in horror when I make unnecessary double-targets which ended up costing me the game. I have literally no other explanation for this: I double-targeted into Protects twice when I should have gone for spread attacks, and ended up getting murdered for it. Score: 1-4

Round 6
Ronald Seet (Sanniih)
Aegislash Rotom-H Charizard Azumarill Scizor Amoonguss
Charizard(X)/Amoonguss/Aegislash/Azumarill vs Garchomp/?/Salamence/Kangaskhan(M) (I think I'm not very sure since I didn't write it down/save battle video)
Apparently I forgot to save the battle video of this match, but I have some vague recollection of not being able to stop the Charizard X from setting up because of Amoonguss and having Salamence in the back instead of in the front where it could have stopped Charizard X from taking out whatever was my front leads (I'm thinking it wasn't Kanga-Talon because if it was Kanga-Talon I don't think I would have lost to Amoonguss-Charizard X). I feel kind of mystified because I think I knew this was a Charizard X team just from team preview, but didn't do anything to stop it? I think I actually had some weird brain fart and tried to Dragon Claw the Charizard with a Garchomp lead even though I knew somewhere deep in my subconscious that it wouldn't kill. Oh well. Anyway, score: 1-5.

Round 7
Zijing
Machamp Tyranitar Hydreigon Mawile Rotom-W Amoonguss
Tyranitar/Machamp/Mawile(M)/Amoonguss vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Aegislash/Garchomp
In conclusion of 'The Day Wai Yin Absolutely Did Not Play Properly', my Round 7 opponent was a young child that was rather enthusiastic about Pokémon playing, if a bit rough around the edges. For what it's worth, I think Zijing was playing better than me that day and with a good deal of training, he could probably be a strong player in his own right. But in even more stupidity, I tried to Sucker Punch a leftovers Tyranitar with an Amoonguss on the field at +2. No, I do not know what I was thinking either. Still, I managed to win (which makes me feel kinda bad because in retrospect I think my opponent deserved the win more than I did) and I ended up going 2-5 on Day 1.

<Day 2 Qualifiers- In Which I Use the Same Team Again>
After the deplorable showing on Day 1 (looking back on it now, I was fighting even worse than some of the worst players I've seen on Showdown) my brother kicked me off to bed early and I actually got a full 8 hours of sleep that day. Armed with Panadol, my beloved Inky the life-sized Inkay plush, and a newly-arrived Charizard X Megastone Pendant from TrinketGeek.com, I felt as if I had pushed my luck stat to the max and had made enough prayers to the Great Lord Togekiss so that I would hopefully hax my opponents to death. Because somehow I had come to the conclusion that despite Day 1 being deplorable, that team was still the best I had, so I was going to use it again. Even though I still hadn't figured out then what was going wrong, but I had a feeling it was something to do with me not trusting my Kangaskhan.

Round 1
Wilson
Charizard Garchomp Azumarill Murkrow Venusaur Rotom-H
Charizard(Y)/Venusaur/Rotom-H/Azumarill vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Garchomp/Rotom-W
Wilson was a top contender in some of the previous tourneys, so I was already sure that the Great Lord Togekiss had decided to forsake me that day. His team looked like a generic sun team, although the Azumarill made me a bit cautious whether it was a CharX team in disguise. That, and presuming that he was actually going to go with something to take out Garchomp (which handles CharY+Venus leads very well), I led with Kanga+Talonflame. He ended up leading with Charizard(Y)/Venusaur which was okay with Kanga and Talon, and with some careful playing I managed to neuter his Azumarill and Rotom-H while they were switching in. There was some unnecessary hax in which Garchomp avoided Sleep Powder on the last turn and scored a crit with Dragon Claw, but by that time it was one Venusaur vs my whole team of nearly full health Pokémon (inclusive of Talonflame) so I took that as a sign that the Great Lord Togekiss was actually smiling on me. Score: 1-0

Round 2
Gan Eujun (Flux)
Kangaskhan Amoonguss Aegislash Garchomp Azumarill Pyroar
Azumarill/Amoonguss/Pyroar/Kangaskhan(M) vs Garchomp/Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Aegislash
I actually lost to Eujun the day before so I was apprehensive about fighting him again; and his team seemed to have changed to include BD Azumarill and still had Pyroar (which I always thought was actually quite threatening on Showdown when I first fought it ages ago). However, he tried to lead Amoonguss+Azumarill and I went with Garchomp+Talonflame, which pretty much nullified Amoonguss's redirecting Rage Powder and put both of his Pokémon under heavy pressure. From there, and a gutsy Tailwind in the face of a +6 Azumarill (who thankfully decided to Protect on that turn), Garchomp and gang managed to pull off a sweet sweep and net the victory. Score: 2-0

Round 3
Lim Xiao Ming (Mao)
Raichu Gyarados Talonflame Banette Sylveon Amoonguss
Raichu/Banette(M)/Sylveon/Amoonguss vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Garchomp/Aegislash
I was actually also kind of terrified of fighting Gyara-chu because previous experience with Shang Loh taught me to be very very afraid of it. Luckily my opponent decided to lead with Raichu+Banette instead against Kanga+Talon, and being the reckless person I am, I left Talonflame in on that turn and went for the Quick Guard. This blocked the Fake Out that was meant for Kangaskhan and Kanga managed to KO Raichu that turn. A double Protect from Banette ended up with my Talonflame getting killed by Moonblast from Sylveon (I wasn't paying too much attention to the damage from the prior turn; my mistake) and it came down to Garchomp and Kangaskhan vs a low health Sylveon and Amoonguss. Knowing Max HP Kangaskhan would take Garchomp's Earthquake like a boss, I used Earthquake to ensure that I wouldn't miss the Sylveon (like Rock Slide has a tendency to do) and ended up clinching victory. Score: 3-0

Round 4
Leong Jun Hao (ILoveBunny)
Charizard Salamence Rotom-W Bisharp Aegislash Amoonguss
Aegislash Salamence Amoonguss Charizard X vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Garchomp/Rotom-W
I think I knew this was also a Charizard X team, so I expected Amoonguss+Charizard X lead and led with Kangaskhan+Talonflame. My mistake. He led with Salamence and Aegislash, and then as Kit said when reviewing my match later: "You need to stop overpredicting and Tailwinding when you don't need to". I ended up losing Talonflame far too early in the game when I needed it against Amoonguss, and spent far too much time trying to deal with the rest of the team so that when Charizard X finally showed its face, my team was far too battered to prove much of a threat. Amusingly enough though, when I tried to Power Up Punch Amoonguss (no I have no idea what I was doing) I ended up getting hit by effect spore and poisoned, which stopped his Spore from hitting my Kanga. In hindsight though, it was probably that poison that destroyed my Kanga in the long term. Score: 3-1

Round 5
Goutham Jayaraman (Goutham)
Kangaskhan Slowbro Marowak Gourgeist Hydreigon Honchkrow
Kangaskhan(M)/Gourgeist/Hydreigon/Slowbro vs Talonflame/Aegislash/Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W
I kind of figured Goutham was running a Trick Room team because of the Slowbro and Gourgeist with a fast mode in Hydreigon and Kangaskhan. My lead option would actually be very crucial here since if he ran with Kangaskhan+Choice Specs Hydreigon, Aegislash (my usual counter to Trick Room teams) would be in grave danger. Still, I figured that against a fast team like mine, he probably would go for the Trick Room lead instead, and went with an Aegis+Talonflame lead, against his Kangaskhan+Gourgeist lead. Turn 1 Quick Guard blocked the predicted Scrappy Fake Out on Aegislash, and a critical'd Shadow Ball took out Gourgeist without much trouble (in hindsight I probably should have just double targeted the Gourgeist but oh well, it worked out). His Hydreigon came in and took out Talonflame with Stone Edge, and I brought in my Kangaskhan. Then Goutham's Kangaskhan revealed Hammer Arm, which brought my Kangaskhan to 8 HP (it has an 18.8% chance to OHKO so I was very thankful I ran Max HP right then). After that, Sucker Punch+Shadow Sneak pretty much kept Goutham's Kanga on its toes and took out his low-health Hydreigon, and another critical Shadow Ball on his Slowbro sealed the game. Granted, things might have gone differently if I didn't crit his Trick Room setters, but I wasn't going to complain. Score: 4-1

Round 6
Isaac Lam (Rachaél)
Mienshao Gyarados Hydreigon Pyroar Venusaur Mawile
Mienshao/Gyarados/Hydreigon/Venusaur(M) vs Garchomp/Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Aegislash
Isaac's actually one of my closest friends and also the only person who had gone undefeated in the tournament thus far, and he had been religiously testing his team with my brother the night before so I was apprehensive what I would fight. At first glance, his team was really Kangaskhan-unfriendly: Mienshao would devastate Kangaskhan if it was given the opening, and Mawile was the one mega that Kangaskhan would outright lose against one-on-one. Gyarados and Mawile also provided intimidate backup, but at the same time I had spent the day telling myself I would trust in Kangaskhan's intrinsic goodness, so I put it in the back and led with a Garchomp-Talonflame lead. Almost immediately I had to switch Talonflame out because of both Mienshao and Gyarados, and ended up bringing Aegislash in. It was then that Isaac revealed that his Gyarados had Taunt as well as Ice Fang (which thankfully went straight into a Protect), leaving my Aegislash vulnerable in Blade form and Garchomp heavily threatened by an OHKO. Despite the risk, I decided to leave Aegislash into battle, threatening the Mienshao with a quick Flash Cannon+Shadow Sneak KO and forcing him to switch out to Hydreigon (which still took a decent amount of damage from Flash Cannon) and switched Garchomp for Kangaskhan. At some point, Mienshao came back in, but because it was running Knock Off, I don't think it held Quick Guard. It was then that I realized that Isaac's team was heavily threatened by priority, and after some chip damage Shadow Sneak and Sucker Punches, Talonflame came back in and finished the game. Score: 5-1

Round 7
Ye Zhiyang (Sparky)
Kangaskhan/Talonflame/Charizard/Jolteon/Starmie/Meowstic
Talonflame/Starmie/Charizard(Y)/Jolteon vs Kangaskhan(M)/Aegislash/Talonflame/Garchomp
By this time I was already guaranteed a place in Top Cut, and I was tired, so looking back at this now, I made a few befuddling plays here that made my game a lot more difficult. The first time we played, there was a disconnect in Turn 2- so we were told to do choose the same leads but we were free to switch moves and stuff since Sparky's Starmie's Scald burned my Kangaskhan in turn 1 and chances were we wouldn't be able to recreate that. So instead of OHKOing the Starmie with Shadow Ball like I did in the previous game, I targeted the Talonflame instead- which survived, and Kangaskhan got burned by Scald again. That made my life a lot more difficult, but his Talonflame took out Kangaskhan and itself the next turn, and Shadow Sneak took out Starmie on Turn 3. However, around this time Charizard(Y) made its appearance and unfortunately Sky Plate Talonflame wasn't powerful enough to net an OHKO and it destroyed Aegislash, leaving only Talonflame and Garchomp against Charizard Y and Jolteon. Talonflame set up Tailwind, and Garchomp pretty much just finished the job. Sparky later told me that his Jolteon didn't run Hidden Power Ice because his counter to dragons was Starmie (which imo is putting all your eggs in one basket but well, it worked well enough for him, even if HP Ice with LO has a 90+% chance of OHKOing Garchomp and that pretty much screwed him over). Regardless, I ended the day with only one loss; score: 6-1

<Top Cut- Round of 32>
I had mixed feelings about making it into Top 32. I refused to let myself get too hyped up about how far I could go, even though I wanted nothing more than to fight my brother in the semi-finals. However, given that our brackets were different, that was the only way we could fight - and I would have to get through Eugene Tan, the reigning Singapore Champion first. I wasn't sure that I would even make it that far.

Top 32

Samuel Sim (Yasmine)
Salamence/Rotom-H/Aegislash/Amoonguss/Malamar/Kangaskhan
My initial reaction to this team was abject horror when I realized I was facing a really standard team with the exception of Malamar, especially with a Kangaskhan of its own which would most likely outspeed my own Kangaskhan. There was also Salamence and Rotom-H and Amoonguss and Aegislash which would make it incredibly difficult for me to use Kangaskhan if it got bogged down by Intimidates, burns and redirected attacks.
And even with all that said I still thought Kangaskhan was the most reliable option here.

Round 1
Kangaskhan(M)/Malamar/Amoonguss/Rotom-H vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Salamence/Aegislash
I already suspected that Samuel's Kangaskhan was faster than mine, so I decided to go for a gamble and try for a turn 1 Power Up Punch. Talonflame used Quick Guard, just in case he decided to go for the Fake Out- which he did- and a Power-Up Punch got my Kangaskhan to +2, knocking his own Kanga into Brave Bird kill range and seizing the offensive momentum in one fell swoop. His Malamar moved last, revealing that it wasn't scarfed, and went for the Superpower on my Kangaskhan, who took around 60-70%- low, but still healthy enough to prove a threat. By turn 2, he was forced to switch out his Kangaskhan to avoid the obvious BB kill on it, and even at +1 Defense, Malamar was unable to take a full powered +2 Return from Kangaskhan. It was here that Samuel decided to bring in Amoonguss instead of threatening my Talonflame with Kangaskhan, and a cautious Protect from the mushroom enabled me to net the kill on the Rotom-H before it could do anything, allowing both Talonflame and Kangaskhan to double-target the Amoonguss the next turn (Kangaskhan also survived his Kangaskhan's Sucker Punch at 1HP before falling to Rocky Helmet) and basically clinching the game, 3-0.

Round 2
Malamar/Rotom-H/Kangaskhan(M)/Amoonguss vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Aegislash/Salamence
Considering how overwhelming Kanga-Talon seemed to be against him, I decided to bring them again. Surprisingly, Samuel still stuck with the same four Pokémon even if he did switch the lead up a bit. Suspecting that the Malamar might try to pull something funny (like Trick Room), I double targeted it on the first turn and took it out of commission, expecting to sacrifice my Kangaskhan or Talonflame to Rotom-H. A lucky Will-o-Wisp miss meant that Kanga's offensive pressure still continued, and deciding not to risk Talonflame any more than I already had, I switched it out for Salamence, which intimidated his Kangaskhan while eating a Thunderbolt from Rotom-H. It got a little touch-and-go when his Kangaskhan managed to get Power-Up Punch off and took out my own Kangaskhan, but for some reason, Samuel chose not to push the offensive when his Kangaskhan was pushed down to +0 and switched out, enabling Aegislash and Salamence to take out Rotom-H and damage his Amoonguss pretty decently. After that, Amoonguss was knocked out of the picture, and Talonflame came back in, taking out his 55% Health Kangaskhan with a Brave Bird. 2-0
Win: 2-0

Top 16

Chen Chun Ling (Tia)
Sableye/Rotom-H/Tyranitar/Aegislash/Kangaskhan/Azumarill
If Samuel's team made me panic, Chun Ling's team was about to make me cry. Not only was Sableye the one thing that was almost certain to get Will-o-Wisp off on Kangaskhan if it was given the chance, the presence of Tyranitar, Rotom-H, Azumarill and Kangaskhan meant that Talonflame (the only thing stopping Sableye) was heavily threatened in this matchup. But at the same time, Talonflame was the one Pokémon I could see that could threaten Kangaskhan, Sableye, and Azumarill respectively- and I refused to let myself get swept by a +6 Azumarill. So given how reckless decisions seemed to be working extremely well for me for some reason, I went with Talonflame-Kangaskhan as a lead again.

Round 1
Sableye/Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-H/Aegislash vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W/Aegislash
Almost immediately, I got off to the wrong start. Chun Ling called my Quick Guard bluff and went straight for the attack with Foul Play from Sableye, and in the next turn a double target into his Kangaskhan's Protect ended up with my Kangaskhan being burnt. Foul Play then took out my own Kangaskhan, and in the next turn it also almost took out Talonflame (who survived, thankfully, just long enough to Flare Blitz his Aegislash). Rotom-W managed to take out Sableye through its confusion, but by then it was a confused Rotom-W and Aegislash vs Chun Ling's Rotom-H and near-full health Mega Kangaskhan. Rotom-W ate a Parental Bond Return and survived one turn, but died the very next from Sucker Punch. It was during this turn that Rotom-H Overheated Aegislash (who survived; Chun Ling later admitted that his Rotom-H wasn't max special attack Modest, but even that one only has a 37.5% chance to OHKO Aegislash) and triggered Weakness Policy. Shadow Ball knocked out his Rotom-H, leaving the game to a Kangaskhan vs Aegislash standoff. I was actually afraid that Chun Ling would catch on to the fact that I was counting his Sucker Punches, and that he might actually have 8 PP for Sucker Punch instead of the 5 that I counted, but eventually I decided why the Arceus not, and let loose with a +2 Flash Cannon which took his Kangaskhan out of commission. The battle lasted 20 turns, 1-0.

Round 2
Sableye/Kangaskhan(M)/Aegislash/Rotom-H vs Aegislash/Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Garchomp
Realizing that Talonflame was far too valuable in this matchup to just lead with it, I decided to go with Aegislash+Kanga this time around to knock out the Sableye as soon as possible. Even though Aegislash wasn't able to complete the job, knocking Sableye down to 25-30% HP before it got Taunted, Garchomp managed to come in safely. I actually forgot about the Kangaskhan having Protect and I ended up Earthquaking my own Kangaskhan to secure Sableye's demise, and it was soon replaced by Rotom-H. However, even though it was burnt, +2 Kangaskhan Return and Rock Slide was more than enough to take it out of commission, while Garchomp survived a +0 Return from Chun Ling's Kangaskhan. I was a bit worried that Chun Ling's Aegislash would set up a substitute, which I could do nothing about because Garchomp was sitting right in the range of Sucker Punch kill range, but thankfully he decided to go for the attack on my own Kangaskhan, which knocked it out of the match. This allowed Talonflame to come in safely, and with his own Kangaskhan within Brave Bird kill range, I knew there was no way he could win. In the end, Talonflame and Garchomp sealed the match, 2-0.
Win: 2-0

Top 8

Eugene Tan (Verte)
Venusaur/Gyarados/Aegislash/Rotom-H/Garchomp/Mamoswine
When I told Eugene I would be his next opponent, we both promised each other that we wouldn't hold back at all, even though we both knew how badly the other wanted to win - myself so that I could face my brother; Eugene so that he could defend his title. The last time we fought was back during the X/Y launch event, when we held an exhibition match - one which he won because he outpredicted me. Our matches were actually streamed live with commentary, so I actually felt an adrenaline rush - it was like this was the rematch I'd been waiting for, for all these months. And even though I wanted Eugene to win, I didn't want to lose either.
Eugene's team was solidly built, and one that was rather Talonflame-unfriendly, even though I knew that if I weakened his Pokémon enough, Talonflame would be able to sweep. But in the end, I decided to go with Kangaskhan as my primary win-condition, since if Kangaskhan managed to get to +2, she would be able to sweep most of his team members without too much trouble.

Round 1:
Venusaur(M)/Gyarados/Garchomp/Aegislash vs Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Rotom-W/Garchomp

Since the video is out for all to see, I'll just comment on some of the things I found interesting about the battle. Eugene's Rocky Helmet Garchomp was the first time I had ever encountered one, and while I had heard it was good at stopping Mega Kangaskhan, I had no idea how damaging it was until I actually watched Carnation's health drop to half. Pulling myself out of that and switching my win condition to Talonflame was difficult, because up till then, I had been relying on Kangaskhan to hopefully power her way through his team. Gyarados was also a Pokémon I had heard plenty about (Gyarachu from Shang, Expert Belt/Life Orb Gyarados from Matthew, Intimidate Support Gyarados, Dragon Dance Mega Gyarados), but it wasn't until I faced it paired with Venusaur that I realized how dangerously risky I was playing the game. It was also here that I was so utterly thankful for running Sitrus Berry 252/52 Calm Rotom-W, because Rotom-W was capable of surviving his Venusaur's Giga Drain, enabling it to maintain its threat against Gyarados. Win: 2-0

Round 2:
Venusaur(M)/Garchomp/Aegislash/Gyarados vs Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W/Talonflame/Aegislash

I actually realized by now that Kangaskhan would have to be a support option and that my only really reliable win conditon was Talonflame. That said, I geared my team choice to be able to take out Gyarados and Garchomp as soon as possible - namely, leading with Rotom-W. To be honest, now that I look at the battle video, I think I actually misplayed towards the end. Aegislash at full health would have been able to wall Venusaur - I could have double targetted the Gyarados, or switched it out for Talonflame in order to bring it back with King's Shield later. Regardless, I had been banking that Brave Bird on Gyarados wouldn't kill Talonflame, and I miscalculated. I think I had to admire Eugene for chipping Rotom-W's health away in such a way that it was within Venusaur's kill range without triggering Sitrus Berry. Loss: 0-1
Anyway, by this time we were exhausted just by fighting each other in 2 intense battles with high prediction, so much so that even the commentators were tired. We were allowed a break, and we wandered around for a bit relaxing. I didn't want to fight Eugene again, mostly because it was that so-close-yet-so-far feeling and I was sure that he was the better player and he was going to beat me through some way or another, but well, I got myself into this so I had to see it through if I wanted to fight my brother.

Round 3:
Venusaur(M)/Aegislash/Garchomp/Gyarados vs Salamence/Kangaskhan(M)/Talonflame/Rotom-W

There was one Pokémon on my team that I was fairly confident could take on the majority of Eugene's Pokémon; one Pokémon that I hadn't brought because of my fear of his Mamoswine- Salamence. With a Life Orb, Salamence was able to switch moves, outspeed the majority of his Pokémon, and deal with his Garchomp one-on-one. To be honest, the hax when Salamence's Fire Blast missed his Gyarados helped in my favor when Eugene didn't realize it was Life Orbed and switched Garchomp in, enabling me to net the kill with Draco Meteor. However, I didn't expect Ice Fang from Gyarados, which knocked out Salamence immediately and left us both down to three Pokémon. Admittedly both of us were exhausted by this battle, so we made a few misplays here and there - the one I regret most is double targeting Eugene's Gyarados with Kangaskhan and Rotom-W instead of Sucker Punching his Aegislash and breaking its sub, which would have made life a lot easier for me. To be completely honest, when it was down to Aegislash vs Rotom-W, I thought I had lost - that all Eugene needed to do was to Shadow Ball me once, and I was dead. I actually thought he'd predict my Rotom-W's wisp on his Aegislash when it went to King's Shield, and go for the Shadow Ball instead, because wisp on King's Shield would pretty much mean that I would probably come out on top if I managed to stall his attacks out. Thankfully, Brucey managed to take a Shadow Ball thanks to his special defense investment and pull out the win for me, although it was a really close thing. I literally cheered when I saw it survive Shadow Ball and trigger Sitrus Berry. Win: 1-0.
Win: 2-1

Top 4

Theron Ho (Boss)
Venusaur/Garchomp/Salamence/Murkrow/Rotom-H/Mawile
So unfortunately, even though I managed to beat Eugene, Kit did not manage to beat Theron. And Theron was the one person I had an absolutely terrible losing streak against - because for some obscure reason, ever since VGC 14 swung around, I was literally unable to predict him. Even though he always used the same team. While this team looked somewhat different, I already suspected the Salamence was Specs and the Rotom-H was scarfed.

Round 1:
Salamence/Rotom-H/Mawile/Venusaur vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W/Aegislash
And despite me knowing exactly what he was running, I still got utterly obliterated by his lack of prediction. Previously, Theron would use his scarf Rotom-H to burn my Pokémon before they could even move, and I expected he would repeat that move, but instead he went for an offensive opening - which left Talonflame dead, even though I managed to push his Salamence down to Sucker Punch KO range. And then because I continued to predict, I expected him to switch out his Salamence so it wouldn't get KOd by Sucker Punch and went for the Power Up Punch - only to have him Draco Meteor me and claim a 2-4 lead. In retrospect, perhaps fighting Theron right after Eugene was really bad for my mental state because I kept expecting predictions and ended up getting my ass handed to me for that. Loss, 0-3

Round 2:
Salamence/Rotom-H/Mawile(M)/Venusaur vs Talonflame/Kangaskhan(M)/Salamence/Aegislash
So I decided to mess things up a bit. Since Theron was playing simplistic offense, I pulled out Tailwind (sacrificing Talonflame along the way) on Turn 1 and proceeded to go all out with a Life Orb Salamence, netting KO after KO. Even though it was slightly risky to depend on no 100% acc moves, Salamence and Kanga managed to plow their way through his team, forcing a (non-mega)Venusaur vs Aegislash and netting me the win. Win 2-0

Round 3:
Salamence/Rotom-H/Venusaur/Mawile (M) vs Kangaskhan(M)/Rotom-W/Aegislash/Talonflame
I don't know what I was expecting, but I really expected Theron to change up his team strategy by now, since the round 2 victory was something he was struggling against. So I expected a different lead (although I suspected Rotom-H, thus chose Rotom-W to scare it out). In hindsight, that was my biggest mistake. Theron went on ahead with the exact same leads and exact same openings, and this time without Talonflame as lead to set up sacrificial Tailwind and plenty of mispredicts, I ended up getting badly owned again. Loss, 0-3

<Conclusions>
Although I ended up losing pretty badly in the Top 4 matches because I misread my opponent, I think I didn't really care. At that point I was tired and actually rather happy that I placed Top 4 in a tournament that was incredibly tough to get through (even though I feel a bit sad that I couldn't get to face Nelson Lim in my brother's place).

The Elite 4 Tournament was an adventure for me. From a devastating Day 1 to almost winning it all on Day 2 and fighting the Champion himself to claim the Elite 4 title - it was almost out of a dream. But even though I didn't win, when I finally held the Gible plaque that I drew for the semifinalists and realized that I had actually accomplished what I had always wanted to do, it was a really amazing feeling.
I'm glad that I managed to prove that my team worked. I'm glad to prove to myself that I was right to trust my instincts and my skill. Even though this was in no way as big an accomplishment as getting through to Worlds, it felt so much more to me.

To my mentors, Kit and Matt, I've thanked you a dozen times over by now but here's another one to you. Thank you for believing in me and for giving me the advice I needed to get my team and my act together.
And to the rest of my bros, thank you for teaching me all these little things I wouldn't know otherwise- like Gyarachu, spotting Charizard X teams, learning how to predict, fighting Kangaskhan, learning about the latest in the metagame... I wouldn't have achieved this without you.

To my opponents, thank you for all the battles. I've learnt a great deal from them, not only as a trainer, but as a person. Even though I may not have realized it, all of you were instrumental to helping me get this far.
And to my team, whom I owe a lot to even though you're just little bits of adorable data, thank you for hanging in there with me and for surviving all sorts of weird shit being thrown at you. I'm glad I decided to stick with you guys despite everything.

And to anyone else out there who wants to fight me: as your new Elite 4 of Singapore, I will gladly take up any challenges!

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