The first regional championships stateside for the 2018 season have wrapped up in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Alex Underhill earns his second regional victory under the 2017 ruleset with a team that would make Gavin Michaels proud. The reason I bring Michaels’ up is that not only is he also a two-time regional champion under the 2017 ruleset, but Underhill took a page right out of Michaels’ “hard Trick Room” handbook. There were a couple of familiar team members, but Underhill made sure to add some interesting new ones to the archetype. We’ll take a look at Underhill’s team as well as other story lines but first, as always, here are the results:
Results & Teams (Top 8)
1. Alex Underhill
2. Abe Brath
3. Jeremy Rodrigues
4. Joohwan Kim
5. Case Bongirne
6. Jake Muller
7. Kevin Swastek
8. Alberto Lara
A New Take on Hard Trick Room
Alex Underhill’s winning team actually resembles his Worlds team that he led to a Day 2 finish just short of Top Cut. Dedicated Trick Room teams weren’t that common this season and only saw success thanks to Gavin Michaels. Underhill didn’t simply recycle (this joke would’ve worked a lot better if Underhill used Snorlax) old tricks. He shook up the original team with a couple of new additions.
Lucario plays a couple of unique supportive roles on this team. It can either re-direct damage away from its partner with Follow Me, or eliminate a threat by trading its own life with Final Gambit. Lucario can make it even easier for Underhill’s Mimikyu to set up Trick Room for the team.
This isn’t Mudsdale’s first time on the big stage, but its certainly new to a team like this. Mudsdale was likely added to deal with the excessive amount of Tapu Koko and Xurkitree. Not to mention, it also does pretty well against other Pokemon players have used to re-direct electricity, like Togedemaru and Marowak.
Drampa was actually a member of Michaels’ two-time regional winning team but was later switched out for Snorlax. Drampa is still a threatening Pokemon, especially under Trick Room. A powerful spread-damaging Hyper Voice, Draco Meteor and great coverage makes Drampa a solid Trick Room attacker. Also its ability, Berserk, can raise its impressive Special Attack even further.
Eevee Finally Gets a Brick
The regional trophies look like bricks if anyone didn’t know.
Anyway, Eevee players have had a difficult time reaching the top stages of large tournaments. Sejun Park seemed to finally break this curse by taking Eevee to a Top 4 finish at the Korean National Championships. Now that Sejun has left us for TCG, the only true Eevee player remaining looked to be Giovanni Costa. But it wasn’t him that finally broke Eevee’s Top 8 curse in America.
Jeremy Rodrigues finally earned Eevee a regional trophy in Ft. Wayne with a Top 4 finish. Rodriguez took a more standard approach to the Eevee archetype as opposed to Costa’s inclusion of Tapu Fini and Dragonite. While Costa claimed there were many anti-Eevee techs that killed his run, Ft. Wayne might’ve just been a bit unprepared for this niche strategy.
Is Dragonite The New Salamence?
While Salamence and Metagross dominated usage at this year’s World Championships, we get two Dragonite in Ft. Wayne’s Top Cut. Dragonite is a slightly more tanky Salamence with the ability Multiscale able to decrease super-effective damage while Dragonite is at full HP. But, there are a lot of things Dragonite and Salamence can do similarly. They both have access to Dragon Dance and they both have access to Bulldoze.
Could Dragonite potentially replace Salamence on a number of teams? Abe Brath and Case Bongirne seem to think so.
I’m not sure why, but this didn’t look like a Top Cut that was inspired by the World Championships. We’ve already talked about Dragonite and Drampa, but wait there’s more!
After seeing Sam Pandelis use Mandibuzz to become the World runner-up, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see more Mandibuzz. I guess Murkrow works too.
When looking at Abe Brath’s team, I can see the slight inspiration from Pandelis’ team. Murkrow can set up Tailwind and do many of the things Mandibuzz can do at the cost of some of Mandibuzz’ bulk. Still, Murkrow can speed up Pokemon like Metagross and Xurkitree’s sweeping power due to Murkrow’s Prankster ability giving it priority Tailwind.
There are a couple things that make Murkrow unique, and it can work alongside powerful threats in a similar fashion to Mandibuzz. I still think we’re bound to see some more Mandibuzz.
Raichu’s Alolan Form is something we saw at Worlds as a partner to Tapu Koko, but in Ft. Wayne Jake Muller might’ve used Raichu instead as a counter. Tapu Fini teams usually don’t have the best match up against opposing Tapu Koko, but having Raichu punishes your opponent for using Tapu Koko in a similar way to Togedemaru.
Alolan Raichu can be quite a pain to deal with under Electric Terrain, and what better way to abuse its Surge Surfer ability than if your opponent sets up the Terrain for you.
Final thoughts, and a word on the lack of a stream
Ft. Wayne was a very fun tournament to keep up with, but unfortunately there wasn’t a way for those not in attendance to watch the battles unfold. Unfortunately, a stream was not allowed by the organizers of the tournament, and they went so far as to email people interested in setting up a stream that they already had a stream set up. It’s one thing to not allow a stream for seemingly no reason, but to outwardly lie is a lot worse. Streaming events that don’t get official coverage is one of the main ways to get the game and the scene to grow, so organizers allowing streams should be a priority for regional-level events. On the bright side, it seems like there’s been a large initiative to stream many of the regionals not only in America but also in Europe. Streaming is a good thing people, let’s make sure it becomes a standard.
The 2018 season is just underway, and we’ve got a lot more to cover. That’s all from Ft. Wayne, and stay tuned for more tournament coverage!
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Sun and Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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