The successful invasion of northern California’s regional championships resulted 0 natives to the region in Top 8 and Ashton Cox’s second regional win of the season. Top Cut featured a few familiar names that comprise some of North America’s best players, but also Rene Alvarenga representing the nation of El Salvador. The diversity of Santa Clara’s Top 8 didn’t stop there, as the teams that comprised it were equally varied and interesting.
Results & Teams
2019 is Ashton Cox’s Year
Can you believe that this is only Cox’s second regional championship win? What’s even crazier is that his first came earlier this year in Memphis during the Sun Series. To add onto that, he won his second Latin America International Championship title this year too, being the only player so far to win multiple international tournaments. With over 2100 Championship Points to his name, to say Cox is on a tear this season is officially an understatement.
Cox’s team was somewhat of a new development in the Ultra Series metagame despite appearing rather standard. Cox utilized the Perish Trap strategy with his Mega Gengar, which allowed him to set up a late game win condition with the move Perish Song and a win in the weather war. This is exactly what happened in finals against Justin Burns’ Rayquaza/Kyogre team, which succumbed to the pressure of Perish Song and Primal Groudon’s Desolate Land after Mega Rayquaza bit the dust early on. We have no clue how Cox managed to play/win the mirror match against his long-time friend, Jeremy Rodrigues, but from what little testimony we have from the match, he apparently played pretty well (if the win wasn’t an obvious enough indicator of that).
Throughout the entirety of the 2019 season, Cox has proven that he can keep up with the shifting format. With three major event wins and now six Top Cut appearances this season, Cox seems to have this format on lock. There’s no question that he’ll be a major threat in D.C., considering he’ll only have to go through one day of Swiss.
Regional Coverage Thanks to Smartphones
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, there was no stream or online pairings for Santa Clara, but the community stepped up. Swiss rounds, as well as some of the Top Cut matches, were streamed via smartphone using Twitter’s Periscope service by some of the tournament’s spectators and players. They even went above and beyond to provide commentary for those watching.
The organizers also chose not to use the software of rk9labs to post online pairings and rosters which meant they were unavailable to the players as well as the public. Fortunately, Twitter user @Jwanie99 had that front covered too.
Even when things go bad, this community always knows how to rally. Give these people a follow to show appreciation for their charitable deeds this weekend:
NightLight26 on Twitch for streaming finals and even managing to secure some “interviews” with players.
Tsareena: The combination of Tsareena and Kyogre seemed lost to the days of Sun and Moon Series, but Justin Burns proved that this combination could still work despite Primal Kyogre’s lack of a Choice Scarf. Tsareena’s amazing utility in blocking priority moves with its ability and putting on pressure with support moves like Feint and Helping Hand still works wonders in Ultra Series. In fact, Tsareena might’ve been an even better partner for Burn’s Choice Band Mega Rayquaza which has an even easier time picking up KO’s thanks to Tsareena.
Lunala: Lunala has seen somewhat of a decline in Ultra Series despite its heavy popularity in both Sun and Moon series. Still, Lunala has access to one of the most powerful Z Moves in the game plus great utility with moves like Tailwind, Trick Room, Wide Guard and Roar, meaning that it’s obviously still a great pick. We saw it return with its trusted partner Xerneas in the new variations of the potent Xerneas/Lunala archetype which now features Mega Pokemon like Lopunny and Lucario. Oh, and Mega Rayquaza too, I guess. Binjie Wang’s team might be a sneak peak at a new viable way at using Lunala in Ultra Series too.
Empoleon: It’s always fun to see a new starter Pokemon break into the competitive spotlight, and this time, we have Empoleon. Empoleon has access to the Hidden Ability Defiant which boosts its Attack stat two stages whenever another one of its stats are lowered. This works amazingly in a format filled with Intimidate especially when Incineroar and Landorus are both weak to Empoleon’s Water-type attacks. Wang’s pairing of Empoleon with Rayquaza is clever since it allows Empoleon to even dispose of Primal Groudon thanks to Rayquaza’s ability to cancel out weather effects.
With Santa Clara behind us, there remains just one more North American regional championship left this season. In two weeks, the final NA regional in Madison, Wisconsin will take place, and then a month later the final international showdown before the World Championships will kick off in Columbus, Ohio.
Images from Pokemon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, Pokken Tournament, Ken Sugimori and The Pokemon Company International