Star in the making: Pokémon VGC player wins regional tournament on debut

The Tang Gang is on the rise.

On Feb. 26, the Pokémon Scarlet and Violet Knoxville Regionals ended with an eruption of cheers for the new champion, Justin Tang.

His name might not sound familiar in the competitive scene because this was his very first time participating in a Regional. He was so lowkey about it to the point where even his parents werent aware of his participation in the Pokémon tourney.

In fact, Justin has only been playing competitive Pokémon for about a year and a half, which is a big difference when up against many whove played for at least half a decade. This wasnt just beginners luck, either. To make it out on top, he had to outlast VGC veterans like Wolfe Glick, Alberto Lara, Ashton Cox, and more.

Interestingly enough, his final opponent was another new face in Pokémon VGCAaron Clemons. The showdown between the two new players was one of the most exciting and intense sets of the year so far, and it just goes to show its never too late to join the competitive scene and shake up the meta.

Tang Gang popped off in Twitch chat

With Knoxville being his first Regionals, Justin was definitely one of the underdogs. Winning the very first Regionals he entered would be a huge accomplishment for the new player, and plenty of fans were eager to see him make that happen.

Leading up to the finals match, fans followed Justins path to victory as he took down Justin Carris in Top 8 and Nick Navarre in Top 4. By then, he had seemingly already won over many fans who were spamming Tang Gang in the Twitch chat.

VGC caster Rosemary Kelley also showed her support for the new Knoxville champ with the Twitter hashtag #tanggang.

Justins Perish Trap team sealed the deal

Although Justin might be a new VGC player, his Perish Trap team might look familiar. Five of his six Pokémon overlapped with Wolfe Glicks winning team at Orlando Regionals. This means Palafin has now won its third straight VGC tournament in a row, the other being Oceania Internationals. This time, the dolphin hero was accompanied by Gothitelle, Amoonguss, Arcanine, Flutter Mane, and Iron Hands.

Meanwhile, Aaron was running a strong Trick Room team with Torkoal, Armarouge, female Indeedee, Iron Hands, Garchomp, and Murkrow. The most surprising pick was Murkrow whose usage in VGC greatly suffered after the introduction of Paradox Pokémon in Series 2.

Still, Aaron found a way to get the little crow all the way to the finals despite all the Iron Bundle and Iron Hands running around.

At the end of the day, it was Justins Gothitelle who stole the show and proved to be a great counter to the big hitters on Aarons team, Torkoal and Armarouge.

Justin pulled off huge comeback in Game One

Aaron brought the heat immediately in game one. From just the first turn, Justins Flutter Mane and Gothitelle were in the red after a massive sun-boosted Eruption from Fire-Tera Torkoal. It was already looking pretty bad for Justin, but hed at least been able to get off a Perish Song against Aarons Torkoal and Indeedee. This turned out to be clutch for Justin three turns later when Aaron was forced to swap Torkoal out and had to let Indeedee faint to Perish Song. By then, a Psychic attack from Gothitelle had also reduced the power of Torkoals Eruption, which is calculated by the users current HP.

From there, Justin was able to stall out Aarons Psychic Terrain and Trick Room. With those effects gone, Justins speedy Flutter Mane and Palafin were able to take care of Aarons Murkrow and Torkoal to take game one.

Aarons Murkrow turned tables in game two

In Game 2, Justin got his Perish Song off early and successfully knocked out Aarons Torkoal and Indeedee after the three turns. With the numbers advantage, it seemed like Justin would close out the set 2-0. Aarons Murkrow, however, refused to let that happen.

After tanking an Extreme Speed from Arcanine, Aarons Murkrow then took down the mighty Palafin with a Brave Bird. At that point, Justin was down to his last Pokémon, Gothitelle, who was stuck using Psychic. As a Dark-type, Murkrow was completely immune to Gothitelles offense. All Murkrow needed to do was take Gothitelle down with a Brave Bird.

Gothitelles reverse Trick Room sealed the deal

To start game three, Aaron got Trick Room up while switching Torkoal in safely. Justins big play of the game came on turn two when he reversed the Trick Room with his Gothitelle. This was bad news for Aarons Torkoal and Armarouge who both relied on Trick Room to move before Justins team. 

With speed on his side, Justins Arcanine took down Indeedee with a sun-boosted Flare Blitz and finished off Torkoal with Gothitelles Psychic. Arcanine then got another KO onto Iron Hands, leaving Aaron with just his Armarouge. Without Trick Room, there was nothing Armarouge could do against Justins Flutter Mane and Palafin.

Following his big win, Justin mentioned hes never had this much fun playing Pokémon, and hopes to attend other Regionals along with US Internationals this year.

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