When it comes to competitive Pokémon, many players have good luck charms. A lot of the time, that means tournament tables are crowded with plushies. But for Ashton Cox, as he won the first Latin American International Championship last weekend, it was a pineapple.
Cox tweeted that the day before the tournament in what has become a matter of prescience. While he has yet to explain the full story, luck did seem to be on his side last weekend. Armed with a Tapu Lele, Pheromosa, Torkoal, Lilligant, Mimikyu and Snorlax, Cox gave it his all with a pineapple by his side.
He started off well, not dropping a single best-of-three set until the fourth round. Then he continued winning, until he was fighting for a chance to continue onto the second day of competition. His final opponent for the day was Gavin Michaels, a California player who earlier this year swept both of his home-state’s regionals with virtually the same team.
The set was well played by both players, demonstrating that regardless of luck, Cox’s skill carried him to that point. While it’s impossible to say Cox wouldn’t have still won without his pineapple’s interference, it did seem like he got a bit of help.
Game three was a real spectacle. Both competitors played it well, though it seemed as if Cox had the advantage near the end. His Snorlax was in under Trick Room, making it the fastest Pokémon in the game. It could simply max its attack stat with a Belly Drum and sweep. However, unbeknownst to Cox, Michaels’ Garchomp had Dragon Tail.
Dragon Tail is a rarely-used move which almost always strikes last, thereby forcing an opponent to switch out of the battlefield. Theoretically, it could rob Snorlax of its Belly Drum boost and make it infeasible for Cox to use the move again. Connecting with it would all but seal the game up for Michaels.
Then the pineapple intervened. Despite the move having 90 percent accuracy, Dragon Tail missed. Michaels was visibly upset, and even Cox looked as if he felt a little bad. Regardless of emotion, fate decided that Cox was to advance to the second day of competition.
The next day wasn’t going to be any easier, either. Cox’s top eight opponent was Germany’s Markus Stadter, one of the world’s best players who was hungry for a win. Regardless, thanks to the unconventionality of Cox’s team (a trademark of his), Stadter had no good answers. His top four match against Carlos Ventura was also over in a flash, proving he was on fire.
But then it came time for him to play Spain’s Javier Señorena, who also fought hard to overcome three-time-International-top-eight monster, Tommy Cooleen, and one of Brazil’s best, Gabriel Agati. And when their match finally started, with his pineapple at his side, it almost seemed as if Cox’s luck had run out.
Señorena had him on the ropes almost all of game one. With constant switches that were one step ahead of Cox’s own attempts to reposition, Señorena stopped his opponent cold. But in game two, Cox showed some life and leveraged the powerful combination of Snorlax and Mimikyu to force a game three.
So, with everything on the line, both competitors played their hearts out. The two took turns taking an early knockout, while Cox focused on setting up Trick Room one last time. At that point, the game seemed to come down to whether Torkoal could take a KO before being knocked out itself by Señorena’s second Pokémon on the field. Cox attempted to take down a threatening Muk, but the fire type attack was soaked up to an Arcanine on the switch-in. Señorena’s Tapu Lele than countered by taking down Torkoal.
At that point, Cox was down to his Snorlax and a badly damaged Mimikyu. Both of his Pokémon would attack first, but Señorena’s offensive pressure made it impossible to set up a Belly Drum. Snorlax would have to do enough damage to Arcanine with an unboosted High Horsepower and Mimikyu would need a critical hit on Tapu Lele with Shadow Claw.
Once more, the pineapple intervened. Not only did he score a critical hit with Shadow Claw (which does have an increased chance to crit), he scored one with High Horsepower. It’s hard to say whether the crit mattered without knowing how both Pokémon were trained, but nailing two critical hits on the same turn right when he needed them was certainly lucky. With that, Snorlax could clean up Muk and bring its trainer the title of Latin America’s International Champion.
Almost as soon as Cox won, some players started celebrating his achievement and the fruit that may or may not have helped it happen.
Of course, even more players recognized Cox for his skills as a trainer. While the good luck pineapple story makes for an incredible coincidence, it was his team and play that ultimately earned him the big win. Still, it’s too bad that Cox couldn’t take the pineapple back home to the U.S. due to customs!
Jason Krell is a freelance journalist, VGC player and editor-in-chief of the Saffron City Post.