Alright, I guess introductions are in order since most of y’all don’t have the privilege of knowing me personally. My name is Cedric Bernier, I go by Talon online, and my claim to fame is that I’m the sole reigning Tri-Divisional Regional Championship, having won Texas Regionals in 2010, 2013, 2015, and most recently 2018. What’s that mean, you ask? Well for starters I have the nerdiest glow up pictures out of anyone I know. Ka-chow.After an abysmal performance at Dallas 2017, I decided rather than compete in the money/time sink of a circuit that was VGC 2017, I’d enjoy my senior year of high school to its fullest extent. When summer came around, I skipped Nationals because my Texas friends weren’t going so it wasn’t worth my time to win. This was a shift in my attitude towards competing, as in previous years I always attended tournaments with the intention of proving my merit, rather than hanging out with friends. Since making Day 2 Worlds, however, I haven’t felt that need. For the most part, players I respect know who I am while my Round 1 opponents don’t, and that’s the perfect balance for me. So jump into post-Worlds 2017, and I hadn’t seen my Houston buds in months. I caught a ride from school in College Station to a Houston MSS, willfully leaving my 3DS behind. Though a few of my plans fell through, the highlight of my day was getting some quality time with Austin Bastida-Ramos and Kenan Nerad. Kenan and I have been friends since 2012, and even though we’ll often be apart for upwards of a year our relationship never skips a beat. I haven’t known Austin as long as Kenan, but he’s just as much of a joy to be around. For real, try not smiling after a conversation with this guy. He’s also super sick at this game. He’d be your 2017 Dallas Regional Champion if not for an unlucky set vs the eventual champion Andrew Nowak. After getting into a frenzy about how sick BS Dubs was, I told Austin that if 2018 mirrored it I would put effort into traveling to events other than Nationals and Dallas for the first time in years. After all, I’m way too sick to not be stacking bricks with the current prize support in a format I like. Austin and Kenan wanted to work with me this year, so we made a teambuilding chat for Dallas with Blake Hopper. Blake’s something of a rival for me, not in that there’s any competitiveness between us in terms of placings, but since 2015 his has been the level of play that I’ve strived towards. Even though we were motivated to cut on our own turf, we wanted Austin to win Dallas more than anything, so he’d join Blake, Kenan, and I as Texas Regional Champions. However, a work opportunity came up for him, so he wouldn’t get the chance. Though we knew the weekend would never be the same with Austin Juan Carlos Ramirez Santiago Bastida-Ramos, we were still resolved to have fun at Dallas. A few months before the event, there were some insane deals on flights, so out-of-region players would be infesting the only event of the year I hold sacred. I tried to make the best of this situation, however, by sorting through the roaches infesting my home regional to create the ideal housing arrangement. I sent formal, embroidered invitations to Aaron Traylor, Michael Lanzano, and Ronathan Jankin, in addition to Kenan. I also have this fuzzy vision of reaching out to Aaron “Cybertron” Zhang over Snapchat and getting left on read. However, for various reasons they all dropped like flies from the event, to my dismay. Except for Kenan, who was not missing the opportunity for 1-on-1 snuggles. Ok so fast forward a few months to the Friday before the event, and I’m sprinting across campus late af for my bus that I have to catch because I didn’t communicate well enough with my presumed ride and I’m warm as fuque in my toasty clothes because it’s 60 degrees now but it was 30 that morning because idk ask Jake MajorMeanie Bowman that’s his thing ANYWAYS I’m finally on the bus and my shirt is plastered to my back. Now that the bus panic was over, I started to panic for Dallas. For the past few days I’d been up late trying to teambuild with Blake, who was planning to culturally appropriate a team courtesy of Team Japan. Four hours later I arrived in Dallas having come up with nothing I was confident in bringing. Pushing down team anxiety, I checked on my Houston friends + Louis Milich to see if we could hang out. I’ve barely driven out of my hometown when I get a call from Logan Castro, another of my Houstonite friends. “Hey… uh… hey Cedric? Justin just landed in the airport…” I should’ve fuquing hung up. “Can you go get him?” I do not make a sound other for the next two minutes, stewing in my rage. Logan asks whether I’m still there and if I’m mad at him like 3 times until I finally say fine. I’m promised dinner as a reward for picking up Justin. I didn’t get dinner that weekend. If it had been anyone else than Justin Carris, I would’ve hung Logan out to dry there. However, I wanted to hang out with my Houston pals earlier and this accomplished that and gave me some alone time with Justin, who I hadn’t seen since summer 2016. Also, Justin gave me 14/1 odds on Raymond Rizzo at Euro Nats last year and you KNOW I threw in $10 no hesitation, so I figure this was my way of settling that debt. After getting lost in DFW for half an hour, I finally saw Justin, who was with Jake Skurchak, who I once thought looked like a bewildered, younger version of myself. Any who, after a pleasant drive catching up with Justin and exchanging thought provoking remarks such as “Wow I forgot how flat the Midwest is” and “Wow, is this J. Cole? I like J. Cole,” we were nearing Lou’s house. Logan started calling/texting me incessantly and rather than simply responding, Justin and I conceived a plan to bamboozle Logan, who was pining for some of that Carris lovin’. After a few minutes of spinning a convoluted lie about how it was totally feasible that Justin was stranded, which Justin played off perfectly when Logan called him, we revealed our trick, and the two lovers embraced in the eyes of God. I exchanged suh dudes with David Kubiak, another great Houstonite friend of mine and Kenan. We packed into two cars and headed to Hard-8 BBQ, only to realize as we entered the establishment that David doesn’t eat meat so he could only get like, a baked potato and a $4 fruit cup. After we found Justin and Logan, who ran off for 5 minutes to do God knows what, Justin and David continued an argument that started at Lou’s when Justin called Charizard trash, with David responding that Kommo-o was trash. They eventually bet made $50 on whether Kommo-o or Charizard would make it further in results. Or maybe it was whether David or Justin placed higher? Or maybe there wasn’t a bet. I didn’t really have a stake in the matter, all I knew was that I agreed with Justin that Charizard was bad. At this point it was getting late, so Logan drove us to Walmart and then to Lou’s house while Lou picked up the man that needs no introduction but will get one later, CASEDVICTORY, who would stay the night at the Alpha House. During our journey, Logan and Justin only had eyes for each other. I, being the scared puppy in need of attention that I am, made sure to interject on their discussion on the best anime arcs with my favorite arc of Teen Wolf. After getting to my car and starting towards my house with David and Kenan, I recalled Blake wanted to stay with someone to save on gas and airport parking, so we scooped him up and despite my awful driving (ok I hadn’t driven my sister’s car since summer so I was rusty alright David), we made it home alive. I introduced the squa to my mommy, who enjoys meeting my Pokemon friends so she can put names to faces. She checked to see that we were waking up at 7, because she planned on heating up a breakfast casserole for us at 6. Bow down to the new queen, Monarchs. So after tripping up the stairs (humble brag), we settled into the guest room, turned on 13 Reasons Why, and got to work on creating an unstoppable team for tomorrow. Suddenly we were on Hannah Baker’s 4th tape and had made roughly no progress. We gave up and Blake decided to stab Collin in the back and steal his team, while I chose to use a variation of a team Carson Confer had been using in NPA, despite my belief that I wouldn’t be able to perform well with it from the games I’d put in. I made some EVs spreads, Kenan fortunately had the Pokemon I needed, and I dutifully spent the next 2 hours EV training them to perfection with my favorite show playing in the background. Here’s the team: And now for some anal: I laddered a fair bit with Carson’s composition, but after one best-of-three I knew I wasn’t comfortable bringing Kartana in high pressure situations I’d face at Dallas. Carson’s tournament experience with it in 2017 probably made Kartana feel organic in his hands, but I benched it in favor of a comfort pick, Amoonguss. My choice to use Charizard isn’t my endorsement of it as a “top” mega in any way, and imo rating or even building around megas is an outdated relic of 2015. Charizard to me is only decent when it’s firing off strong Heat Waves and netting devastating KO’s with Overheat. However, the higher level opponents you play the more difficult it becomes to execute that, and that doesn’t even factor in that you’re fighting the RNG as well as your opponent. However, Amoonguss was great at letting Charizard attack freely at all levels of play, redirecting strong attacks away so Charizard could attack uncontested. After facing some of the team’s weaker matchups (Tapu Lele + Mega Tyranitar jfc), I believe Kartana makes the team more “complete,” but throughout the tournament my opponents struggled to deal with Amoonguss’ redirection and sustainability. Landorus-T is almost a necessity with Charizard. Intimidate turns OHKO’s into 2HKO’s, and when Charizard can throw out sun-boosted Overheats as a parting gift, that’s valuable. Its offensive coverage also compliments Charizard well. Knock Off is super valuable against bulkier teams reliant on Aye, Papi! Berries, and I wouldn’t consider using Assault Vest Landorus-T without it. I know that Carson ran U-Turn over Superpower, which is understandable with Kartana providing Fighting type coverage, but I really needed to threaten things like Snorlax and M-Tyranitar, which can eat Earthquake and set-up. Porygon2 is something I knew would maintain its strength from 2017 to 2018. With its bulk and coverage, the only issue was finding the right sweeper to make use of the Trick Room and strong coverage it offered. Life Orb Tyranitar seemed to be that sweeper, forcing opponents to cycle Intimidate with Landorus in the face of Porygon2 Ice Beams. The addition of Amoonguss over Kartana to the team made me more reliant on Tyranitar in Trick Room to get through problematic matchups, as seen in some of my later sets. Tapu Koko rounds out the team by adding immediate offensive pressure as soon as it enters the field, as opposed to my Trick Room option that takes a few turns to get humming. Its blistering fast speed tier lets it use Terrain-boosted Gigavolt Havoc uncontested, and I can’t imagine using balanced Trick Room team without it. Volt Switch was something that was good in practice but I don’t recall it being significantly effective during the tournament. You may note that I’m not providing my EV spreads publicly. Mans gotta eat. $4 Venmo @Cedric-Bernier for a full paste We woke up to the smell of mom’s protein-stuffed casserole that would let us avoid paying $10 for notecard-sized hotel sandwiches. She also prepared waffles, syrup, muffins, and a spread of assorted berries. She’s too good to me. Unfortunately, my pre-tournament nerves set in a little and I was unable to eat as much as I’d have liked. On our way out, she insisted that we all take a small zippy of nuts, which we graciously took. After giving my mom a loving hug, our jolly band of four departed for Dallas with nut sacks in hand, but not before finding my sisters’ war horn in the backseat of our shared car. David became classically trained by the time we arrived at the venue, having practiced his craft on unsuspecting suburban white joggers. None came to the aid of Gondor. So we walk into the club like “what up we have a big horn” and sifted through the sea of plaid shorts and “matching” graphic tees to find the boiler room losers. We embrace and synchronize, then go fill out our team sheets in the—get this—“Glasscock” lounge. *Slaps knee* With a triple-checked team sheet in hand, I entered the VGC room to see the line wrapping around the room. Fortunately, mine is the optimal social strata for sneaking into line. I’m friendly with everyone, so my line diving options are diverse, but nobody watches me closely enough to call me out. I found myself behind Blake and Oliver Valenti (official dad of the boiler room losers), eventually lagging behind after I realized my Battle Box was incorrectly set up. Many people passed me, but suddenly there was a shift in the air. I didn’t have to look up to know, my testosterone spiking as I sensed the aura of an alpha. It was he, the heralded King among kings, the #1 NPA draft pick, lauded Super Smash Brothers for the Nintendo 3DS YouTuber CASEDVICTORY. I gazed upon him in awe, taking in his magnificence, looking for confirmation from Jake Muller that my eyes did not deceive me. Notice me the King did not, for do humans notice the ants that gaze upon them? After telling the judges this was my first tethered event, they guided me to lock my Battle Box, and STRONGLY urged that I avoid clicking “Cancel participation.” I’d completed registration, but there was still much work to be done, for every Pokemon player knows how best to use free time at events: networking, the process in which I grace lesser beings with my presence, leveraging my social capital to my advantage. I started by ingratiating myself to Trainer Tower sanctioned “smart money,” Chris Danzo, in whom I had planted the seeds of friendship days earlier. Now was the time to fertilize. After appearing outwardly to be a “fanzo” of the Danzo for an adequate amount of minute, I cut the conversation short, favoring breadth in my conversations rather than depth. This methodology proved to be effective, resulting in my addition to seven different teambuilding chats before the start of the first round. However, as day always gives way to night, so too must my social climbing give way to meditative isolation. I don’t recall what happened next. The first thing I remember is awakening from this Zen state face-to-face with one of the few players in the venue who’d dealt with this awful game longer than myself, Len Deuel. Round 1 (0-0) vs. Len Deuel (6-3, 39th Place) Tapu Koko / Heatran / Tapu Bulu / Gengar / Whimsicott / Pheromosa I’d known for months that this would be one of the most stacked US Regionals of all time, so I wasn’t surprised or disappointed to have pulled a good player this early. Len arrived to the table, we may have (?) exchanged a polite “Hello,” and we then proceeded to ignore each other until the round started minutes later. The perfect opponent. Jen Chansey-shamed for a bit and we began the tournament. I led Char Koko vs Gengar Whimsicott, and not knowing Z-Nature Power was a thing got my leads OHKO’d, and basically I got sat on my tush turn 1 of this tournament. Sick. I had Porygon2 and Tyranitar in the back, which I used to force out some information. Game 2 I found myself in a vulnerable position with my Charizard in front of Electric Terrain Whimsicott, but I put my gender-inclusive testicles on the table and knocked him out as he used Tailwind and next turn I Overheated his Koko as he Dazzling Gleamed or something. Game 3 I presented my Charizard to him again but this time I used Protect as he bit. From there, with proper redirection from Amoonguss I converted into a set win. Win 2-1 At this point I was completely warm, which is the benefit of playing a player of Len’s caliber round 1. I’m glad that I was able to adjust after a forceful spanking game 1, especially considering the only best-of-three practice I had had this format were my 3 NPA sets. I walked around pretending to care how my LinkedIn connections did, and made sure my eyebrows looked good before introducing myself to Case “cries after Tinder sex” Bonjour. He seemed nice, and I’m sure that we’ll be fast friends as soon as he stops acting like an antagonistic douchecanoe towards my friends online. Pairings take a bit to go up as will become the trend with Chansey boy Jeremy Rodriguez taking 55 minutes per set. Round 2 (1-0): Stephen Mea (6-3, 41st Place) Ludicolo / Aegislash / Tapu Koko / Pelipper / Kangaskhan / Ferrothorn I knew nothing about Stephen as a person, but as an entity he was pretty high in CP so I wasn’t anticipating an easy set. In team preview I immediately ignored his rain mode, knowing he’d be smart enough not to bring it against me. Game 1 he led Koko Kang with Pelipper Ferro in the back and I just knocked things out while preserving Char for Ferro. Game 2 I led Koko Tar against his Kang Aegi as he doubled my Koko with Fake Out and Z-Shadow Ball as I Crunched Aegislash. I must not have had Porygon2 in the back, otherwise this end game should have been free. The game came down to me hitting Overheats and possibly winning a speed tie against Kang (not sure if he was Adamant or Jolly even though he told me after the set). I missed the last Overheat and we went into Game 3. We both led the same thing except this time he didn’t Fake Out, so I traded my Koko and a Life Orb tick for his leads. I got really lazy in the late game and gave him a small chance to win, but no such luck. Win 2-1 My friends were doing well for the most part, which was cool because the worst part of tournaments is when you’re slaying and your bud rolls up salty af about losing to an Aerodactyl. I stumbled upon Chuppa Cross IV asking Kenan if he knew where he could find some Mountain Dew. Oliver rudely began to enumerate the advantages coffee has over Dew, with Chuppa retorting “nobody asked you,” asserting dominance and stopping any resistance to the DEW world order. Oliver would later recite this tale in poetic verse with Chuppa an arm’s length away. We never did figure out where to find some DEW. Round 3 (2-0): Aldo Vasquez (6-3, 44th Place) Tapu Fini / Amoonguss / Landorus-T / Metagross / Tyranitar / Zapdos Aldo’s trainer name was STATS Ike, so s/o to STATS. I remember being discontent with the situations I was putting myself in against his Scarf Landorus-T. We both played game 1 badly imo, with mistakes being made on both sides. I won the set but at this point in the tournament I gave up on doing well, having seen the gaping holes in my play. Win 2-0 I walked over to Tommy “the Iceman” Colleen, only to hear my first Ally Switch horror story of the season. Tommy felt very strongly that Ally Switch is reductive to the skill of the game, which I’m honestly on board with, and in the moment he said that since he already has Worlds he may not compete due to how frustrating it is to play at events. I understand where he’s coming from, but he’s such an innovative teambuilder and solid player that I know that he’ll be able to find more consistent answers as the season progresses, and I hope he finds success with them. Round 4 (3-0) William Vega (5-4, 98th Place) Volcarona / Tapu Koko / Mawile / Persian / Politoed / Porygon2 I hadn’t heard of this guy, which is cool because he hadn’t heard of me either. My mans Justin chimed in from two tables down to tell his boy to watch out. Thanks dog appreciate it never picking you up from the airport again. The eclectic composition of the team tipped me off that there was something fishy going on with the Volcarona, despite the Persian suggesting Quiver Dance. Volc revealed Scarf turn 1 game 1 and locked into Overheat. The endgame was Porygon2 (no SpA boost) Amoonguss vs low HP Mawile Politoed which took an annoying amount of turns to win safely. Game 2 was a lot cleaner as I predicted a likely Porygon2 > Volcarona adjustment by him and adjusted accordingly. Win 2-0 Round 5 (4-0): Alvin Hidayeet (7-2, 13th Place) Scrafty / Kartana / Tapu Fini / Porygon2 / Snorlax / Manetric I knew Alvin associates with the Smogon guys. I don’t know his crowd on a personal level but they made a big splash last year so I was expecting a competitive set, though I was approaching Team Preview expecting some boo’sh. The Snorlax, Porygon2, and Intimidators made sense to me, but Tapu Fini and Kartana stuck out, so I expected Soak Scarf Fini. I made sure to prepare for it, and when he revealed Soak, I redirected it into Amoonguss as he Leaf Bladed the Charizard, like I was some kind of chump. From there I took commanding control of the game until a double game freeze. Despite being in a dominant position, it was just conceivable enough that Alvin could have won for him to sleep at night so he took that tie to the mf bank. Game 2 he largely abandoned the Soak bs and focused on Snorlax. After he Belly Drummed and locked moves he asked me if I had used Clear Smog on the Snorlax–which is some junior division, bush league boo’sh that reveals information to all nearby tables that I did NOT appreciate—which I did, giving myself tons of momentum. I played the rest of the game playing safely as he switched around, knowing I just had to hit my attacks and I’d win. I missed my Overheat and got Stone Edged. However, I’d been working him all game, making him rack his brain searching for a win con, letting me extend the game a little to win on Your Time. I had to win this game or I’d get forced into sudden death, which I wasn’t confident in winning considering Alvin could Soak/Bloom Doom anything. Now that he and the TCG players across the hall knew that I had Clear Smog, Alvin set up in a way that prevented Amoonguss from stopping it. Fortunately, the 1st turn of Trick Room I fired off a -2 Heat Wave and skillfully burned the Snorlax, giving myself room to breathe. The end game came to Alvin needing to get 1 crit in 2 attacks, which he didn’t. Win 2-0-1 I’m not upset that Alvin took the game 1 tie. However, after the set somebody said to me, “I heard you haxed Alvin.” Now, obviously, this must just be a bad case of telephone, because I know he couldn’t have been complaining about our set after getting bailed out of an easy 2-0. Uppercase GGs man!! The previous round, Kenan and Ben Irons, both fellow Regional Champions and both not competing, went on a subway run for us. Upon their return I hastily ate my 6-inch Spicy Italian with green peppers, onion, lettuce, and chipotle southwest sauce before the next round was posted. Round 6 (5-0): Brendan Zheng (9-0, 9th Place) Azumarill / Salamence / Amoonguss / Smeargle / Ferrothorn / Koko The last time I played Brendan he was like 8 so I was glad to finally be getting a fair fight. We were picked to be the stream match, but on arriving in the secluded stream room, the judges learned we had digital carts. We were both pleasantly amused, as our preemptive anti-scouting strategy had worked to perfection. I assumed Brendan would bring Smeargle Azumarill as it stopped my Amoonguss from touching his Azu. However he led Amoonguss Azu vs. my Charizard Lando. Brendan made a pretty ballsy turn 1 that put him in the driver’s seat for game 1. Game 2 he didn’t lead Azu, and I did well until I underestimated a damage roll on his Salamence and made a conservative play I didn’t have to. This let Brendan reveal a DIRTY tech that OHKO’d one of my Pokemon in a way I was not expecting. He then winked at Collin as he put gently laid me to rest in my coffin. ggs Brendan, the only reason I’m not revealing your seekrit is because of how slick your watch is. Loss 0-2 I didn’t feel badly about that loss, Brendan played better game 1 and hit me with the sauce game 2. However, now I was in the trenches amongst all the other strong X-1s fighting tooth-and-nail to stay in cut contention. I hoped for an easy opponent while watching Chansey get exposed by Chuppa on stream, the start of a beautiful 5-0 to 5-4 run. Side rant but I honestly can’t understand the Chansey player ideology. Like, the goal (probably) isn’t to win in a way that causes visible distress to your opponents, but to almost guarantee yourself CP by creating the most solid flowchart possible. But what’s the end game there? You collect CP all season with Chansey and make Worlds, awesome, but what then? Win Worlds? Obviously not, because here you are, having earned your spot at the most competitive tournament of the year, yet you don’t have a prayer of success. While you were perfecting your cute little techs and mashing that mf like button, you weren’t refining the skills that will actually let you compete at a high level, so now you’re stuck bringing Chansey against the best players in the World wondering why there’s no respect being shown to you at events. I apologize for any vitriol, and this isn’t aimed at Jeremy as I don’t dislike him as a person and I respected his Eevee play in 2017. This is more of a message towards anyone considered bringing Chansey to an event. This is just my opinion, but this Chansey thing is a bad look, both for you and the game itself. Though we should obviously show everyone human decency regardless of what they bring to a Pokemon tournament, not everyone is so adept at separating the artist from the art. If you’re cool with that, go on wasting your and everyone else’s time. Round 7 (5-1): Wolfe Glick (7-2, 23rd Place) Gyarados / Cresselia / Amoonguss / Steelix / Tyranitar / Tapu Koko I wasn’t ecstatic to be facing two consecutive World Champions, but I didn’t dwell to long on the unlucky pairing. Looking at Team Preview, I realized how few my options for Steelix would be in and out of Trick Room, with my only way to deal significant damage being Charizard. I figured that if I found myself on the field with Amoonguss and Charizard without Trick Room, I’d be able to handle every Pokemon on his team except for Tyranitar. I was able to reach that position in game 1, only for Wolfe to reveal Discharge, which ruined my game plan entirely. When his Steelix got a Sand Force Heavy Slam off onto my Charizard on switch and it did 60%, I had to look up and give Wolfe a chuckle, both of us acknowledging how ridiculous that was. Wolfe followed up a convincing game 1 with a solidly played game 2. However, at 4-3 in his favor there was a game freeze. Wolfe offered me a replay or to call a judge over. However, I declined, conceding the game to Wolfe. I think even if I had made every read perfectly for the next few turns, I still didn’t have the resources to win if Wolfe played correctly, which I trust he would have based on how he played the early game. I can’t say I didn’t wrestle with the temptation of extending the set to a game 3, but it really wasn’t much of a decision to make after weighing the many lucrative networking opportunities I would gain from a Wolfe Twitter s/o. ggs to Wolfe, wish I had risen to the occasion and given you a better set. Loss 0-2 This was my first time playing Wolfe, and I’m a little disappointed with how little of a fight I put up. I don’t think the matchup was in my favor but it was playable, he just capitalized on my team’s weaknesses better than I did with his. Now, I usually either breeze through Swiss relatively unscathed, or take my first loss and fail to course correct, spiraling out of cut contention. I reassured myself that this wasn’t the latter while Kenan gave me a consensual massage, and tried to go into my next round levelheaded. Round 8 (5-2): Brian Youm (6-3, 37th Place) Latias / Tapu Koko / Landorus-T / Kartana / Heatran / Scrafty I recognized Brian’s name and knew he was an up-and-comer, but knew nothing about his play. While Latias usage had been trending upwards in response to Charizard teams, I hadn’t accounted for Scrafty as a partner whenever theorying the matchup. Going into game 1 I knew that if I knocked out his two Intimidate users, my Tyranitar at neutral would clean house. He revealed Calm Mind on his Latias very early, letting him pressure my Pokemon unanswered as he cycled in his Intimidate users, both of which could OHKO Tyranitar. Finally having forced both Scrafty and Landorus out, I was able to throw out a Z-Thunderbolt on Heatran and Crunched the Latias for two KOs. Game 2 I led badly with Lando Koko against Latias Scarf Lando, as I didn’t have much for it in the back. I ended up selecting Dazzling Gleam and Knock Off on his Landorus-T, both of which crit to Brian’s visible frustration. From there it was a matter of eliminating threats so that my Tyranitar could freely Crunch the Latias. Win 2-0 I’ll level: even though I came in wanting to cut, I hadn’t set that as an expectation, knowing how unlikely success was at a regional with so many big names. While I never come into tournaments playing to lose, with cut within reach I was motivated for my next set. With that being said, I was hoping for an easy last round. I knew this wasn’t likely because after talking to my friends, round 9 was going to be a bloodbath. Thankfully I wasn’t paired up with one of my close friends, I was nervous to see myself paired against an extremely strong player in the form of Chase Lybbert. Also I lost my favorite pair of earbuds in round 8, so for the rest of tournament my only audio feedback would be that of a soft thunderstorm. Round 9 (6-2): Chase Lybbert (6-3, 43rd) Vod Manectric / Landorus-T / Tapu Fini / Celesteela / Gothitelle / Snorlax Chase and I had been sitting near each other at the high tables for most of the day, so I knew he was having a strong tournament. When we sat down, he commented that he thought we’d played before, confusing me for Blake whom he’d played in the last round of 2016 nationals the determine who’d cut. Little did he know that in reinforcing my fringe relevance, he was giving me strength. After being asked for fun facts and our twitters to be @’d, I said I was big fan of Mountain Dew but made a grievous error in not telling him to follow me @YoMancuso, which you, valued reader, should do immediately. I’d seen Chase’s team on his opponents’ screens and knew that he had a strong team popularized by Japan, but was confident I’d be able to play against it. As was a trend throughout Swiss, I felt confident with Charizard as long as it had Amoonguss support. I knew I had to play carefully with my Overheats, as Chase was looking for a devastating Gothitelle trap to set up with either Snorlax or possibly Tapu Fini. However, I kept it in the back of my mind that if my Charizard began to feel like dead weight, I could attack it with my partner to knock it out or reset its stats with Clear Smog. By the end of game 1, I knew I could win with either Porygon2 slowly if I set up Trick Room and used Clear Smog to ignore Snarl drops, or if I got in Amoonguss with Landorus-T to redirect a Flamethrower burn. I was debating which avenue I would pursue when the game froze. Being that it was the last round, I wouldn’t have been surprised if Chase had taken the tie. However, Chase also knew I was positioned for a win, and wanted to give me the game. Unfortunately, in the current rules you’re unable to forfeit the tied game, which means for Chase to cede me a game after a tie, he had to forfeit the 2nd game, at least officially. I think if he were a fringe relevant player like myself we wouldn’t have been on stream, and we could’ve sneakily treated game 1 as a loss and played the set out normally. However, these are the sacrifices a person makes in attaining relevance. However, because game 1 was a tie and Chase forfeited game 2, that meant that if Chase won game 3, we would go to sudden death instead of a full game 3, an arrangement we were both disappointed with. I read in twitch chat that the best solution would’ve been actually to play out game 2 and 3 as if Chase lost game 1, and if I won either game Chase would either forfeit game 3 or in sudden death. Regardless, it took roughly 10 minutes for us to figure this out, at which point I can’t speak for Chase but I felt my flow had been disrupted. Game 2 I was fairly sure the Landorus-T held a Z-crystal, but anticipated it would be Groundium. His reveal of Flyinium really set me back, in addition to missing a Heat Wave on his Landorus-T which may have primed him for an Overheat. However, a Heat Wave burn the next turn bailed me out as my Charizard survived a single target Rock Slide, letting it knock out the Snorlax to win me the game. Win 2-0-1 Conflicted would be an apt description of my feelings immediately after the set. When I had visualized myself cutting Dallas, it had ended with a clean set that both sides gave their all in. I didn’t feel like l’d earned that set. I would have been fine losing the game 2 and seeing who deserved 7-2 more in a standard game 3, but the introduction of the sudden death element made game 2 feel like a best-of-one elimination game for both parties. Even thinking about the set now leaves me unsettled in a way that’s difficult to convey. Hats off to Chase for sacrificing the official game 2. Most of my matches at Regionals, I tried to minimize conversation with my opponents, but it was hard to do that with him. Chase is a really nice and positive guy, which made it feel even worse not getting a legitimate set with him. After my set and an interview with Joe, I went to check how my friends had done. It looked like none that were in cut contention had dropped to 6-3, so most would be in cut tomorrow. While Blake, Jake, Brendan, Chuppa, and I had cut pretty comfortably, our good friend Ryan Tan had edged out Collin for the 16th spot in cut. It was a shame to see Collin miss cut because I’m a big fan of the team he, Conan, and Mikey Lasagna cooked up, but if anyone had to snipe him, I’m glad it was Ryan. He’s a really nice guy, so I was very happy to hear him doing well throughout the day and even happier to see him seal the deal. After Jen and the judges herded top 16 to a table to do LEGAL voodoo on our 3DS’s, they told us to be back the following morning at 7:30. After Blake clarified AM and received a chilling stink eye from Jen, we were released to do as we please. Caleb Ryor gave us an address for food, and upon entering the Italian restaurant, we caught the mafia comprised of our community’s elite devising tomorrow’s script. However, with Blake, Ryan, and myself in our party, we held power over tomorrow’s top cut. To them we were chaotic elements, introducing variables into an otherwise perfect plan. Jake, having already sold his soul, would forfeit to Chuppa the next morn to prove his loyalty to the don. After requesting separate seating so as to avoid falling under the control of the political elite, we denied their emissaries access to our bean dip reserves as a final act of defiance. Finally free from Their influence, we settled in and began to enjoy our meals. However, they were persistent, and we had many visitors, though none that seemed more sober of mind than Ingrid. Eventually though, it was getting late. Blake and I decided not to network that night, but to instead go back to my place with Kenan and David. We knew that if we didn’t finish 13 Reasons Why, our chances at succeeding in Top Cut were slim. We didn’t force Kenan and David to watch it with us because they weren’t playing the next day, but they insisted, so we all snuggled together on my queen bed. We watched with rapt attention, until finally the truth was whole truth was revealed, and we too drifted off into a peaceful sleep. End of Day 1.