Adrian Sigler is your 2018 Portland Regional Champion, defeating finalist Yunhao Li in a near mirror match in the finals. As the title of this article implies, a certain Pokemon known for its powerful voice was big this past weekend. Portland might have been a small regional, but it was nothing short of action-packed. Let’s take a look at some of the cool strategies that made it to the Top Cut.
Results and teams (Top 8)
1. Adrian Sigler
2. Yunhao Li
3. Gary Qian
4. Jeremy Shacket
5. Quinn Johnston
6. Samuel Haarsma
7. Alberto Lara
8. River Davis
Where was everybody?
I mentioned before how Portland Regionals was a small tournament, and it was for North America standards. The final number entered for the Masters division ended up less than 100 players which meant seven rounds and Championship Points only awarded to the Top 16.
What could’ve caused this? Honestly, the answer isn’t clear. The northwest has never been known to be a powerhouse region, but the influx of players from California should’ve alleviated that some. Some notable names from the west coast have felt absent this season with players like Gavin Michaels not having a ton of Championship Points to Aaron Zheng’s absence from yet another regional. Plus, this regional happened sort of on the tail-end of the “dropping of player attendance” debate with some controversy being sprinkled on that topic shortly before this event. In the interest of the community, I’ll leave it at that.
Still, maybe this absence of big names could mean an opportunity for up and coming players to claim a place in the spotlight. Of course Alberto Lara has top cut another event this season, but he already has cemented himself at the top of the North American Championship Point standings. I’m talking about players like Gary Qian, 2017 Vancouver regional champion River Davis and 2017 Ultra Beast fanboy Samuel Haarsma. They may not be names that everyone recognizes right now, but 2018 could change that.
The new screaming queen of VGC
Mega Gardevoir was all the rage at Portland, and after this tournament players should definitely have it on their radar. Before the release of Intimidate Incineroar, I would’ve considered Mega Gardevoir not too strong of a pick simply because of the stiff competition when it comes to Fairy-type team members and the nerf to Pixilate. Now with two amazing Intimidate Pokemon that each support Gardevoir well, this Mega Evolution has skyrocketed itself into the mainstream once again.
The common core for most Gardevoir teams boils down to Gardevoir, Incineroar, Tapu Fini/Koko and Landorus (some players are even referring to this team archetype by the name Garde-roar). The remaining two members are surprisingly flexible as this is where we mainly saw difference in the teams of both of our finalists. Amoonguss was a popular partner for Gardevoir in the 2015 season due to its ability to redirect attacks away from Gardevoir while Gardevoir either set up Trick Room or spammed Hyper Voice. The Trick Room mode continues to be standard on Mega Gardevoir teams nowadays, but you might now see some other Trick Room Pokemon like the ever-popular Snorlax.
Mega Gardevoir is here to stay, and with this new team composition, it has definitely made its case for why it’s a great choice for a 2018 Mega Evolution.
Pheromosa: One of the things that Gary Qian claims to his name is his ability to make weirdly successful teams. But, this Pheromosa has a purpose albeit a gimmicky one. This strategy involves the move Speed Swap which switches the speed stats of the user and the target. The idea here is to use Speed Swap on Snorlax after it has set up a Belly Drum to make it unspeakably fast. Like I said, it’s very gimmicky, but Snorlax has enough bulk and Pheromosa has enough speed to pull it off.
Audino: It wouldn’t be a Gary Qian team if there weren’t two Pokemon in this section from it. Keeping it in normal form, Audino actually offers some good support if you’re willing to try it out. It gets access to both Trick Room and Heal Pulse making it an incredible partner for Snorlax. It’s ability Regenerator is also great for a Pokemon as tank-y as Audino as switching out gives Audino the ability to heal while it’s not in battle. One final trick Audino has is the move Simple Beam which changes the target’s ability into Simple. This is not a bad ability to have as simple doubles the stat increases from moves like Calm Mind and Dragon Dance. A neat tech, but something tells me that Mega Salamence wouldn’t really want to give up its Aerilate ability for an extra boost to its Attack and Speed.
Seismitoad: A rain team without Politoed, Ludicolo or Mega Swampert? Well, I’d hardly call Haarsma’s team rain-based, but the mode that exists here is quite interesting. Seismitoad is a unique choice as its stats aren’t too impressive outside of its HP. Still, with a Life Orb and some great move coverage with Muddy Water, Earth Power and Ice Beam at its disposal this Pokemon can actually pack a punch.
Breloom: As more and more Fairy-types were introduced, Breloom fell farther and farther off of usage stats. Breloom’s bread and butter is the ability Technician which boosts the power of attacks with less than or equal to 60 base power. This meant a very powerful Mach Punch, which unfortunately gets kind of shut down by Tapu Lele and Psychic Terrain. But, Tapu Fini being a Water-type means that it does not enjoy taking Breloom’s other means of offense in Bullet Seed. Oh, and I almost forgot Spore which pretty much makes Breloom as faster, more offensive Amoonguss.
(I would say something about Haarsma’s Chandelure, but we never really got to see him bring it to games unfortunately)
Raichu: And here I thought Togedemaru had stolen the spotlight from one of the original Lightningrod supporters in Raichu. Raichu actually has some good synergy on a team like Alberto Lara’s as Lightningrod can make Lara’s Tapu Fini not have to fear Zapdos or Tapu Koko at all while it’s on the field. Raichu can also be annoying when paired next to Mega Gengar as, like Whimsicott, it can fulfill the role of Encore to Gengar’s Disable. Finally, Fake Out does well to allow for more free set up from Lara’s Tapu Fini and his interesting use of a Landorus-Therian with Swords Dance.
That’s all from Portland, and it looks like the season has a bit of a break at the regional level for the month of April. However, players will need to remain on their A-game as the Latin America International Championships are now just a month away.
Thanks for reading!
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokemon Shuffle, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International
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