While only one player can become National Champion, there were many other impressive players and teams competing at the 2016 National Championships. Check out some teams that stood out from the competition in Columbus. Be sure to check out more Pokémon TCG and video game tournament coverage and analysis at Pokemon.com/Strategy.
Ian Lutz shocked the Pokémon world by making it to Day 2 using a Lunatone on his team. He gave Lunatone an Assault Vest to hold, making it a surprisingly sturdy Pokémon that many popular Pokémon struggled to inflict damage against. Ian also used an Aegislash holding a Life Orb on his team, a savvy choice with both Bronzong and Xerneas being extremely popular at the 2016 US National Championships.
One of the only things you can expect from 2013 US Nationals runner-up Enosh Shachar is that he’ll bring something unexpected, and he lived up to his reputation in Columbus. He nearly made it to Saturday using a team with an Amoonguss holding Red Card, a Scrafty, a Slowbro, and a Rayquaza that knew the move Dragon Dance.
Brianna was one of the few players remaining who made it to the top cut of the 2010 US National Championships the last time restricted Pokémon were permitted. She wasn’t quite able to escape the first day of battles this time, but her team was full of exciting Pokémon. Her Xerneas’s Choice Specs item probably shocked many foes expecting a Power Herb instead, and her Suicune and Aegislash had plenty of tricks of their own.
Jon Hu made a name for himself at the 2014 National Championships, dazzling foes with his Lapras, Sableye, and Mega Gengar. His team may have been even more surprising this time, as this time Mega Gengar was joined by the almost-forgotten Shedinja. Few players included Shedinja in their planning, but perhaps the popularity of Pokémon that can hit Shedinja with supereffective attacks, such as Primal Groudon, Rayquaza, and Yveltal, proved too much to overcome.
The always-exciting Ashton Cox has been one of the top players over the past few seasons of the Video Game Championships. He used a team similar to the one he used in the Spring Regional Championships, using the rarely seen Infernape to support his team with Quick Guard, Encore, and Fake Out.
Collin Heier proved he was one of the world’s top Trainers when he made it to the semifinals of the 2014 World Championships. He was one of the few players at US Nationals who opted to use Zapdos, and he was one of the few we’ve seen worldwide who taught it the move Swagger. Collin was also in the minority of players who used Yveltal as one of his restricted Pokémon, and he was almost able to take it to the top cut.
Wolfe Glick is one of the legendary defensive players of the Video Game Championships, and he brought a team to Columbus that reinforced his reputation. He gave his Heatran a Red Card to hold, creating an unexpected way to stop opposing Xerneas from taking down his team after powering up with Geomancy. Wolfe was also one of the only players we've seen teach a Groudon the move Lava Plume, a move that damages both foes without losing power as Groudon's HP is reduced, contrary to Eruption.
Paul Chua has stood out as perhaps the top player in the country prior to US Nationals, but three tough losses in his first four games put him out of competition this time. He continued using a similar team of Groudon, Xerneas, Cresselia, Salamence, Smeargle, and Kangaskhan that we’d seen from him at recent events, but it wasn’t enough to get him to the top cut this time.
Like many of the other players here, James stuck to a similar team as the one he’d used at the recent Regional Championships. The field at US Nationals proved harsh for Double Primal teams, and he wasn’t able to make it to Saturday this time. With a Bronzong that knew Gravity and Hypnosis, a Groudon that knew Swords Dance, and a Thundurus that knew Role Play, James still put on an entertaining show at the US National Championships.
Alex Underhill broke out with a top-8 finish at last year’s National Championships, but he fell just short of Day 2 this time. Rather than pairing Xerneas with Groudon, he used the rarely-seen combination of Kyogre and Xerneas. Alex also brought Infernape to battle, a Pokémon used by few other Trainers.
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