Greetings! My name is Ricardo Guerra, also known as darkmaster491 online. I began playing competitively in 2006, when I competed in the Journey Across America Regional tournament at the Nintendo World store in New York City. I made Top 8 in that tournament, and was incredibly motivated to do better next time.

I want to be the best player in the world. I love entering these competitive tournaments to challenge myself and play against the best players. I’m looking forward to in-person events coming back and can’t wait to test my skill. I’ve won Premier Challenges and Mid-season Showdowns, but I want to take it to the next level by winning a Regional, Internats, and Worlds.

Team Building Process

I had about a week to make a team for the tournament, and was very excited to jump into Series 12. However, being that it was a completely new format, I had a lot of work to do to prepare for the tournament.

My first goal was to use a team suited to my play style. I’ve always felt comfortable with Zacian (Crowned Sword), and qualified for Players Cup 4 with it in Series 8. I wanted to find a way to use it in the current metagame. I was testing Kevin Salvetto‘ s VR Circuit: Winter Series Grand Finale winning team, and felt comfortable with how the team worked. My favorite part of the team was the support Grimmsnarl with dual screens and Thunder Wave, along with Assault Vest Landorus (Therian Forme) with Rock Tomb. The amount of speed control those two offered was exactly what I was looking for. With this duo, you’re also able to keep physical attackers from dealing much damage with Reflect on Grimmsnarl and Landorus’ Intimidate ability. Landorus is a great Dynamax option on this team. The Assault Vest along with Light Screen and Spirit Break from Grimmsnarl makes it very difficult to deal much damage to Landorus with special attacks.

Going into Series 12, the natural adjustment for this team was to replace Torkoal with Groudon. Groudon offered speed control with Rock Tomb in addition to its Drought ability. It can also freely click Precipice Blades since this move, unlike Earthquake, doesn’t deal damage to your ally. Precipice Blades was a great way to spread damage without having to commit to Dynamaxing. However, since I had an extra Ground type on my team, I replaced Landorus with Incineroar for the last slot. This gave me another mon with the Intimidate ability to reduce damage from opposing physical attackers.

Although the Zacian and Groudon team looked pretty solid, the main drawback of Groudon is that Precipice Blades can miss. I decided to test the core of Grimmsnarl, Zacian (Crowned Sword) and Landorus (Therian Forme) without the sun core to see what other restricted Pokémon my team could work with. A friend told me about the idea of Zacian (Crowned Sword) and Calyrex (Shadow Rider) as a core. I needed something more consistent, and this looked perfect in theory. Zacian’s Behemoth Blade and Calyrex’s Astral Barrage are both 100% accurate moves, so they were very consistent. Zacian and Calyrex (Shadow Rider) have excellent synergy with each other. Calyrex (Shadow Rider) can use Max Phantasm to drop the physical defense of the opposing Pokémon by 1 stage, allowing Zacian to deal greater damage with Behemoth Blade. My friend came up with the idea for the team I ended up using in the tournament, so the credit goes to my friend who built the original team. However, I changed some of the EVs from the original team to optimize it.

Regieleki offered speed control with Electroweb. Rillaboom offered Fake Out pressure, as well as Grassy Glide pressure, which was extremely helpful against Kyogre matchups. Overall, I was confident in this team’s ability to maintain good speed and damage control. I’ll be going through each Pokémon individually, so that you can understand the thought process behind each Pokemon and how they synergize with one another.

The Team

Get the team paste HERE!

Regieleki @ Magnet

Ability: Transistor

Level: 50

EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

– Protect

– Electroweb

– Volt Switch

– Thunderbolt

Regieleki is the fastest Pokémon in the game and a great Dynamax option. Max Lightning sets up the Electric Terrain which prevents Pokémon on the ground from going to sleep. This was especially important in my Top 16 set vs Aditya Subramanian, who had an Amoonguss on his team. Protect allows Regieleki to stick around longer and continue to put out offensive pressure. Electroweb provides Calyrex (Shadow Rider) and Zacian (Crowned Sword) with speed control. Volt Switch gives me a way to pivot and preserve Regieleki. Thunderbolt is Regieleki’s strongest attack on this set, and allows for Max Lightning to have 130 Max Move Power.

Offensive calcs

252 SpA Magnet Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning (130 Max Move Power) vs. 252 HP / 124+ SpD Kyogre: 210-248 (101.4 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Dynamax Regieleki in Rain: 261-307 (84.1 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Landorus-Therian @ Assault Vest

Ability: Intimidate

Level: 50

EVs: 212 HP / 180 Atk / 28 Def / 4 SpD / 84 Spe

Adamant Nature

– U-turn

– Earthquake

– Fly

– Rock Tomb

This Landorus is very similar to the Landorus that Kevin Salvetto used in the VR Circuit: Winter Series Grand Finale, but it’s slightly faster to outspeed other Landorus’ running the same EVs in Speed. Intimidate in combination with Reflect from Grimmsnarl mitigates the damage that Landorus takes from physical attacks, while the Assault Vest in combination with Light Screen from Grimmsnarl covers for the special attacks. This Landorus is very versatile and can use Rock Tomb and Max Airstream for speed control. U-turn gives me another way to pivot. Earthquake is a great way to spread damage without having to commit Dynamax.

Offensive calcs

180+ Atk Landorus-Therian Max Quake (130 Max Move Power) vs. 252 HP / 140 Def Zacian-Crowned: 200-236 (100.5 – 118.5%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

252+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 212 HP / 28 Def Dynamax Landorus-Therian through Reflect: 161-192 (42.1 – 50.2%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO

Calyrex-Shadow @ Life Orb

Ability: As One (Spectrier)

Level: 50

EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

– Protect

– Astral Barrage

– Expanding Force

– Substitute

Calyrex (Shadow Rider)‘s main role is to Dynamax early-game using Max Phantasm to decrease the Defense of the opposing Pokémon, allowing Zacian (Crowned Sword) to deal greater damage to the opposing Pokémon with Behemoth Blade. Calyrex can also be used as a late-game sweeper, since its 150 base Speed and 165 base Special Attack allow it to deal big damage to opposing weakened Pokémon. Astral Barrage is a spread move, so it can’t be redirected by use of the moves Follow Me or Rage Powder. This is very useful against Indeedee-F and Amoonguss matchups. Calyrex can use Max Mindstorm to set up the Psychic Terrain which synergizes well with Expanding Force. Substitute is great for punishing passive plays and protects it from status moves such as Thunder Wave and Spore.

Offensive calcs

244 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Max Phantasm (140 Max Move Power) vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Zacian-Crowned: 165-195 (98.8 – 116.7%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

252+ SpA Mystic Water Kyogre Max Geyser (150 Max Move Power) vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Dynamax Calyrex-Shadow in Rain: 280-330 (79.5 – 93.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Grimmsnarl (M) @ Light Clay

Ability: Prankster

Level: 50

EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 84 Def / 140 SpD / 28 Spe

Careful Nature

– Spirit Break

– Reflect

– Light Screen

– Thunder Wave

Grimmsnarl has a very straightforward role on this team. It offers speed control with Thunder Wave, and damage mitigation with the combination of Reflect, Light Screen, and Spirit Break. The EVs in Speed allow this Grimmsnarl to outspeed Pokémon that have 100 Base Speed after Grimmsnarl paralyzes them with Thunder Wave.

Offensive calcs

4 Atk Grimmsnarl Spirit Break vs. -1 252 HP / 28 Def Grimmsnarl: 204-240 (100.9 – 118.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

 252+ SpA Choice Specs Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 140+ SpD Grimmsnarl in Rain through Light Screen: 170-201 (84.1 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Zacian-Crowned @ Rusted Sword

Ability: Intrepid Sword

Level: 50

EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 108 SpD / 140 Spe

Adamant Nature

– Protect

– Behemoth Blade

– Sacred Sword

– Substitute

Zacian (Crowned Sword)‘s Behemoth Blade combined with Calyrex (Shadow Rider)’s Max Phantasm is a force to be reckoned with. Reflect and Light Screen from Grimmsnarl makes it very difficult to deal much damage to Zacian. Sacred Sword ignores the target’s stat changes, so it’s very useful for dealing with Pokémon that have received Defense boosts from Max Steelspike or Iron Defense. Substitute protects Zacian from opposing Intimidates as well as most status moves. The EVs in Speed allow Zacian to outspeed Regieleki when Zacian is at +1 Speed.

Offensive calcs

+1 4+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. -1 252 HP / 0 Def Zacian-Crowned: 198-234 (99.4 – 117.5%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

252+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 168-198 (84.4 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Rillaboom-Gmax (F) @ Miracle Seed

Ability: Grassy Surge

Level: 50

EVs: 236 HP / 196 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 68 Spe

Adamant Nature

– Protect

– Grassy Glide

– Wood Hammer

– Fake Out

Rillaboom is great for Grassy Glide pressure against Kyogre matchups. Grassy Glide in combination with Grassy Terrain and Miracle Seed will pick up the KO on most standard Kyogres. Wood Hammer deals so much damage in combination with Grassy Terrain and Miracle Seed. Fake Out pressure is very important and can force your opponent to make defensive plays and potentially bait an early Dynamax. This Rillaboom has enough Speed to outspeed all of the most standard Rillabooms, potentially allowing it to Fake Out an opposing Rillaboom to prevent it from going for a potential Fake Out of its own.

Offensive calcs

196+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 210-248 (101.4 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

196+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Regieleki in Grassy Terrain: 165-195 (105.7 – 125%) — guaranteed OHKO

196+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom-Gmax G-Max Drum Solo vs. 252 HP / 44+ Def Dynamax Kyogre in Grassy Terrain: 414-488 (100 – 117.8%) — guaranteed OHKO

Tournament run

Going into this tournament, I was very confident and motivated to perform well. I had 45 practice battles on Pokémon Showdown and played in a best-of-3 tournament a couple days prior to the USPA January Major tournament. I finished 2nd place in the best-of-3 tournament, but understood the mistakes that I made in the finals and knew what adjustments needed to be made if I were to play that matchup again.

Swiss rounds

If you are interested in watching my Swiss and Top cut sets, you can view those here.

Round Result Opponent Opponent’s team Video
R1 LWW あたりめ Watch the games HERE
WilliamTheShuai Watch the games HERE
Max Gelman Watch the games HERE
Watch the games HERE
R5  LWW Donald Smith Jr. Watch the games HERE
Jeremy Barnes
Watch the games HERE
Max Simon
Watch the games HERE

Top Cut

I will be breaking down Top Cut, so that you can understand my thought process during each of the games.

Match preview vs Adi

Round Result Opponent Opponent’s team Paste Video
Top 16 WW Aditya Subramanian Team Paste Watch the games HERE

This was an interesting matchup mainly because Adi had Palkia and Amoonguss on his team, both of which I didn’t encounter in Swiss. Dynamax Regieleki looked pretty strong into this matchup, especially considering that it could use Max Lightning to set up the Electric Terrain. This would help deny potential Spores from the Amoonguss.

Game 1

I ended up getting a little too greedy and doubled into the opposing Zacian on Turn 1, walking right into a Protect. However, the Amoonguss offered little to no pressure after my Dynamaxed Regieleki used Max Lightning to set up the Electric Terrain. This also helped protect it from getting put to sleep by Amoonguss’ Spore. The Amoonguss was forced to use Rage Powder to redirect the Max Lightnings, which were a 2HKO onto the Amoonguss in Electric Terrain. Adi Dynamaxes his Palkia, but makes a passive play by protecting his Zacian. I make a great prediction here, reading into the Protect, and double into the Dynamaxed Palkia with my Regieleki and Zacian. This dealt massive damage to Palkia. However, on the next turn, I doubled into the opposing Zacian with Astral Barrage from my Calyrex (Shadow Rider) and Behemoth Blade from my Zacian. This wasn’t enough to pick up the KO since the opposing Zacian was at +1 Sp. Def. due to Palkia using Max Quake on the previous turn, and my Zacian was at -1 Attack from Intimidate and Parting Shot from Incineroar. The endgame was very close since the opposing Zacian and Palkia were both in KO range from a Behemoth Blade, even with my Zacian being at -3 Attack after a Max Wyrmwind from Dynamax Palkia and Incineroar switching in again for another Intimidate. The Palkia misses a Hydro Pump which definitely mattered, since that allowed my Landorus (Therian Forme) to weaken the Incineroar with a Rock Tomb. The Palkia was holding a Life Orb and it was one attack away from knocking itself out with Life Orb recoil, so I knew that Adi would need to preserve the Palkia wisely. I correctly predicted the Palkia to using Protect and capitalize on this by getting my Zacian behind a Substitute while my Landorus finishes off the Incineroar with another Rock Tomb. This gave me the win for Game 1.

Game 2

This game was even closer than Game 1. Adi immediately Dynamaxes his Charizard and I get my Zacian behind a Substitute. However, I do not Dynamax my Landorus (Therian Forme) and it ends up taking a G-Max Wildfire from the Gigantamax Charizard. This does a little over 50% damage to Landorus. However, in exchange, I have my Landorus use Rock Tomb to lower the Charizard’s speed. The opposing Incineroar gets a Parting Shot off into my Landorus, and Adi sends in his Zacian. My Zacian’s Behemoth Blade does 50% damage to the opposing Zacian since it was at neutral Attack due to the Intimidate from the opposing Incineroar, while the opposing Zacian gets behind a Substitute. The opposing Gigantamax Charizard finishes off my Landorus with a max Airstream, bringing the opposing Zacian’s speed up to +1 and the Charizard is back at neutral speed. I send in Regieleki, and double into the opposing Zacian, which picks up the KO. However, the opposing Zacian is able to move before my Zacian since it is at +1 Speed, so it picks up the KO onto my Regieleki with Behemoth Blade before my Zacian is able to finish it off. At this point, the opposing Charizard’s Dynamax turns have ended. I Dynamax my Calyrex (Shadow Rider) and I have my Zacian use Protect to avoid getting KO’ed by Charizard’s Heat Wave. This allows me to preserve my Zacian for the endgame. Calyrex’s Max Phantasm is able to get Charizard into KO range of a Behemoth Blade. On the next turn, Adi switches out Charizard and sends in Incineroar. My Calyrex is able to pick up the KO onto the opposing Palkia with Max Phantasm while my Zacian gets some damage onto the Incineroar that just switched in with Behemoth Blade. My Dynamaxed Calyrex picks up the KO onto the opposing Charizard with another Max Phantasm while my Zacian gets some more damage onto the Incineroar with Sacred Sword. The Incineroar finishes off my Calyrex with a Darkest Lariat. It ends up being a Zacian vs Incineroar endgame, which I win since the Incineroar was in KO range of another Sacred Sword from my Zacian.

Match preview vs. Namak_Po

Round Result Opponent Opponent’s team Video
Top 8 LL namak_po Watch the games HERE


This was another interesting matchup because Kingdra was another Pokemon that I didn’t encounter in Swiss. I knew that screen support was my best friend for this matchup so I could mitigate the damage that the Kingdra and the rest of the opposing team could deal to my Pokemon.

Game 1

My opponent doesn’t bring Kingdra to this game, instead choosing to lead with Zacian and Kyogre while I lead with my Regieleki and Grimmsnarl. My opponent swaps out Zacian and sends in Rillaboom, while I Dynamax my Regieleki and target that slot with Max Lightning. My Grimmsnarl sets up a Light Screen which allows my Dynamaxed Regieleki to survive a Max Geyser from the opposing Kyogre. I Max Guard my Regieleki and try to swap in Zacian in front of Dynamaxed Kyogre. I’m punished for this as my opponent doubles into the Zacian slot with a Max Geyser and Drum Beating. Zacian survives both attacks but is now at -1 Speed. I decide to leave Zacian in, and Max Lightning boosted by the Electric Terrain only does slightly over 50% to the Dynamax Kyogre. This revealed that it is an Assault Vest Kyogre which I expected since my opponent fearlessly Dynamaxed it in front of my Regieleki. The Dynamax Kyogre outspeeds my Zacian since my Zacian was at -1 Speed now and finishes it off with another Max Geyser while the Rillaboom finishes off my Dynamax Regieleki with Drum Beating. Now, it’s just my Calyrex (Shadow Rider) and my Grimmsnarl against my opponent’s full team of 4 Pokemon. My opponent swaps out Rillaboom and sends in Incineroar while I have my Calyrex go for Protect so that I can weaken the Kyogre with a Spirit Break from my Grimmsnarl. My Grimmsnarl sets up a Reflect and my Calyrex is able to finish off the Kyogre with Astral Barrage bringing my Calyrex up to +1 Special Attack, but the Incineroar brings it back down to neutral with a Parting Shot. My opponent sends in Zacian and is able to bring Incineroar back in to Fake Out my Grimmsnarl, preventing my Grimmsnarl from going for Thunder Wave into the opposing Zacian. I actually didn’t even click Thunder Wave, since I knew that my opponent would Fake Out my Grimmsnarl and if my opponent saw that my Grimmsnarl flinched before the Zacian attacked, they would know that my Grimmsnarl was either going for Thunder Wave or Scary Face. I didn’t want to reveal that information until I was sure I’d be able to actually make that play. Astral Barrage from my Calyrex does slightly under 75% damage to the opposing Zacian, and the Zacian is able to get behind a Substitute. There was nothing I could do at this point as the opposing Zacian is able to finish off my Calyrex with a Behemoth Blade. The Incineroar goes for a Flare Blitz into my Grimmsnarl and knocks itself out from Flare Blitz recoil damage while my Grimmsnarl finishes off the Zacian with a Spirit Break. Now, it’s an endgame of Grimmsnarl vs Rillaboom. I really regret not finishing off the opposing Rillaboom with my Regieleki when I had the chance. The Rillaboom finishes my Grimmsnarl off with 2 Drum Beatings, and I lose Game 1.

Game 2

Yet again, my opponent didn’t bring Kingdra to this game, and I was very surprised by this. My opponent led Kyogre + Indeedee, and I made sure to play very aggressively to prevent the Indeedee from setting up Trick Room. Max Mindstorm from my Calyrex (Shadow Rider) + Spirit Break from my Grimmsnarl was enough to pick up the KO onto Indeedee. Max Geyser from the opposing Kyogre brought my Dynamax Calyrex down to slightly under 25% health. I was in a bad position where the opposing Kyogre could finish off my Calyrex with another Max Geyser. I make a terrible misplay, selecting my moves too quickly and accidentally clicking Thunder Wave with my Grimmsnarl while the Psychic Terrain was active, but there was not much my Grimmsnarl could do in that position anyways other than to set up a Light Screen which still would not prevent my Calyrex from being KO’d by Max Geyser from the Kyogre at the amount of HP it had left. I target the opposing Zacian with a Max Phantasm, but the Zacian Protects, mitigating the Max Phantasm damage, while the opposing Dynamax Kyogre finishes off my Dynamax Calyrex. I send in my Rillaboom and I have it go for a Grassy Glide into the Dynamax Kyogre, but it barely survives and retaliates with a Max Hailstorm to bring my Rillaboom’s health down to KO range of the Hailstorm chip damage. I’m able to Thunder Wave the opposing Zacian now, thanks to my Rillaboom changing the terrain to Grassy Terrain, but the Zacian attacks through the paralysis and knocks out my Grimmsnarl with a Behemoth Blade. I send in my Zacian and finish off the opposing Kyogre with a Sacred Sword while my opponent switches out the Zacian for Incineroar to Intimidate my Zacian and have Fake Out pressure for the next turn. It’s an endgame of my Zacian vs my opponent’s Zacian and Incineroar and there’s not much I can do at this point. I decide to Sacred Sword the Incineroar and hope for parahax on the Zacian, since I had no other win condition. The opposing Zacian and Incineroar are able to finish off my Zacian, and I lose the set 0-2.


With that, my tournament run ends in Top 8. I wasn’t too happy with how I played in my Top 8 set, since I definitely could have played better than that. However, I was proud of myself for being able to finish in the Top 8 in my first major Series 12 tournament that had a total of 70 players. Besides the team itself, if you guys are interested in getting to know me better as a person and player, you can check me out on Twitter and YouTube!

Thanks for reading!

Team Rental Code: