After a season of competitive Pokémon players claiming that no one would win a major tournament with Eevee, Jeremy Rodriguez has pulled it off at one of the last events of this format: the Daytona Regional Championships.
From the moment players learned Eevee would get a unique Z-move in Pokémon Sun & Moon that would boost all of its stats twice, they knew some would build teams around the concept. Typically, Eevee teams pass the boosts to stronger teammates and sweep through their opponents. However, a vocal contingent of players in the competitive community declared that it was a bad gimmick that would never win an important tournament. This was a sentiment that many echoed throughout the entirety of the season.
Their argument relied on the fact that there were too many ways to shut it Eevee down. Players could Taunt Eevee to stop it from passing its boosts, use Haze to reset all stats to normal or just crit through the extra defense. Then, once Eevee or the Pokémon it boosted was knocked out, the game was pretty much over.
Even if players didn’t think the team was bad, they hated having to use valuable move slots on their teams to prepare for potential Eevee matchups. Rare as they were, facing an Eevee without an answer usually means a loss.
Despite the hate, one player took up the challenge to prove Eevee’s worth and used it all season—but it wasn’t until Rodriguez used Eevee, Smeargle, Clefairy, Whimsicott, Krookodile and Espeon that someone was able to bring it all home. His path to victory was through Carson Confer (the 2016 senior division World Champion) and the red-hot Alberto Lara, who won last week at the Hartford Regional Championships.
Lara and Rodriguez’s match in particular had a bit of build-up behind it. Not only did the two play during the first phase of Daytona, but Lara boasted that he didn’t lose to Eevee during a discussion the two had while at the first post-worlds regional, in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. But when it was time to play their set, it was hard to tell whether Lara or Rodriguez would come out on top. In game one, Lara couldn’t stop Rodriguez from passing boosts to Espeon (which then tears through almost any Pokémon with Stored Power) — but he also couldn’t stop Smeargle from Transforming into Espeon and copying all of its stat boosts. However, in game two, Lara forced a turn three forfeit from Rodriguez by knocking Eevee out with Mimikyu before it could boost.
With the whole tournament on the line, Rodriguez switched up his lead while Lara stayed with what worked for him in game two. But with Whimsicott on the field over Smeargle, Rodriguez was able to catch Lara off-guard by using Fling to flinch Mimikyu right when it was poised to KO Eevee again. And just like in game one, once Rodriguez had boosted, there wasn’t much his opponent could do.
Rodriguez was clearly proud of his accomplishments with Eevee in his post-game interview, but some in the community are still hesitant to admit that the archetype is good. Yet, despite much of the hate Eevee teams and players received throughout the season, plenty gave Rodriguez props for pulling it off. Even some of the skeptics offered some praise.