The Knoxville Regional Championships, despite an unfortunately low player turnout, produced one of the most compelling storylines in recent Pokemon VGC history. Kyle Livinghouse and his friend thought their hopes of attending the tournament were all but crushed after a car wreck halted their trip in its beginning stages.
However, this accident happening so early turned out to be a positive as the two were roughly five miles away from the friend’s car which he used to meet Livinghouse. After resolving the accident with the police, the two were given a ride back to the friend’s car, and their journey resumed once again.
The two both went on to finish 6-1 in the Swiss rounds, clinching their spots in the Top 8 cut. After battling through the bracket, the two met in finals where Livinghouse became the victor, earning him his first ever regional championship title. This was all done with the two going for at least 30+ hours without sleep, which makes this result that much more astounding.
Stories from the Game
Now, let’s talk Pokemon.
Knoxville was a resurgence for two team archetypes that seemed all but forgotten once the World Championships came and went. The combination of Primal Groudon and Xerneas has always been around, but Tornadus’ inclusion with the pair had declined drastically after the North America International Championships back in June. Livinghouse was known for his success with this particular team as he reached his first International-level Top 8 with this very team.
After a subpar performance for Livinghouse and Tornadus teams not carrying a Primal Kyogre at the World Championships, it seemed that this once dominant archetype had been abandoned. That is, until Paul Chua won the Atlantic City Regional Championships with a team that resembled what Livinghouse would use to give Tornadus, Primal Groudon and Xerneas their second regional title in a row. Livinghouse’s team was not one that totally conformed to the standard, as he included some changes such as Sucker Punch on his Mega Kangaskhan, a Primal Groudon with a Modest nature and an Incineroar carrying Safety Goggles. Livinghouse admitted that these specific changes worked to varying degrees of success and his search for the perfected variant of this team continues. Once again, this team has become the one to beat in the Ultra Series metagame.
The second archetype to note is Lunala/Xerneas. This archetype, much like the Tornadus variants of Primal Groudon/Xerneas teams, is very much focused on offense and setting up its restricted Pokemon to sweep the opponent’s team. Lunala had seen a steep drop off in success in North America, but has enjoyed a small resurgence over in the European metagame. Enter the runner-up and Chonjun Peng (another Top 8 qualifier in Knoxville) to bring this restricted combination back into the discussion for the North American metagame.
Lunala/Xerneas teams pad out their remaining four Pokemon slots with Pokemon that are able to help further support their restricted partners or techs that help for certain threats or matchups. When looking at the runner-up’s team, he opted for Pokemon like Crobat to offer speed control with Tailwind and manage to oppose Xerneas with Haze in order to remove stat boosts. He also had Smeargle, an infamous partner for Xerneas due to its plethora of available moves, that carried Crafty Shield, a move that can block problematic moves for a Xerneas looking to set up Geomancy like Spore and Roar.
However, the most notable addition to his team was his choice of Mega Pokemon in Gallade. Lunala/Xerneas teams have traditionally favored Mega Evolutions with access to strong Fighting-type moves and supportive capabilities such as Mega Lopunny, Mega Lucario and Mega Kangaskhan. Mega Gallade is another Mega Pokemon that fits this criteria, but its supportive options include moves like Wide Guard which can open up a move slot on Pokemon like Smeargle and Lunala which traditionally carry the move. Mega Gallade is also extremely fast and powerful and can easily deal with troublesome Pokemon like Incineroar and Stakataka.
After such an ordeal of a weekend, nothing but the highest praises should be sent to Livinghouse and his friend, not only for shaking off a potentially scarring accident but also for their excellent performance at the tournament itself. As Livinghouse himself put it on Twitter after his win in Knoxville, “car accidents are temporary, bricks are forever” (“brick” being in reference to his championship trophy).
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Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International.
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