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Surfin' GBU: 2012 Autumn Friendly Team Analysis

blog-ludicolo_byryuzaki.png

Hello. I believe most people here don't know me and still won't after reading this article, so I'm keeping the introduction short: I'm called Fatum, I'm way too old for Pokémon and I'm a native of Germany -- home country of people like Albert Einstein, Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche and Ludwig van Beethoven, but also of the first Pokémon World Championship runner-up Edwin Krause (2000 in Sydney, Australia). As the title might have one guess, I'm writing a team analysis related to the Global Battle Union, i.e. the 2012 Autumn Friendly. I have finished that with 102 recorded wins, 17 inofficial ones, 11 losses and 1934 points as my best and final score. I achieved that using a Rain Dance team which in team preview looks like this (in a less obvious order though):

tornadus.png

Motivation and Team Building Process

First, disconnect marathons GBU tournaments without Japanese involvement tend to get very exhausting in the long run, especially with me almost never meeting people I know. Instead, I would be fighting in-game teams half of the time and the better part would still be mostly barely "good" people, so I saw no point in running some boring cliché Cresselia/Metagross/Thundurus/X/Y/Z standard good stuff team in another Friendly. In fact, I've already used a fun heavy-offense team of Whimsicott/Hydreigon/Garchomp/Rotom-H/Abomasnow/Hitmontop in the 2012 Spring Friendly, which had Whimsicott disrupting people with Encore and setting up surprise knockouts with Fake Tears, and the rest, well, destroying stuff. I had a good time then, I did even manage to beat 2 out of the top 3 of the final ranking in the process. While I do not reject bringing the usual stuff against the Japanese to put it to a real test, opting for something out of the picture against the rest of the world again should be the best way to jolly oneself along and progress in team building at the same time.

The starting point for this team project lies somewhere around this year's Spring Friendly. I was certain that Rain teams could do very well in our metagame, where most people are "countering" them just by tacking on an "anti-weather" Pokémon that didn't really fit their team. So I figured, I might build one with a lone Fire type in it to punish them (yes, only few threaten Tyranitar, but Tyranitar alone should be no real problem -- it hates Water, Steel and much else) and also to address especially hard counters like Ferrothorn, Virizion etc. My first idea was Infernape, which beats both Tyranitar and Abomasnow and is also a pretty neat supporter (Fake Out, Feint, Encore, STAB priority and whatever else it learns, four moveslots are obviously a disgrace to it). I just didn't get around to it and then, at the Spring Friendly, I became aware of R Inanimate's Surf-oriented Rain team (it can be found here).

Well, when I theorymonned with Infernape before, I wasn't even taking Surf into account because I hated how it is both rather weak and an obstacle for fellow team members at the same time. (Fun fact: Even in Japan, where I also get a good share of my inspiration from, Surf is pretty unpopular with less than 10% of their Politoed using it, according to the Japan Cup statistics on Global Link.) Even hitting double-resistances like Ludicolo or Kingdra with it wasn't inviting, as I would still eventually critical hit my own resources to death instead of the opponents'. For actual Water immunity, I would need obstructive mons like Musharna or something, which wasn't appealing either. Of course, this was all before I became aware of Gastrodon's greatness. (Gastrodon's actually a story on its own... I have never touched it until this March, but used it in more than half of the teams I've built since then.) So, R Inanimate's success was basically fuel I needed to give Surf a chance, and of course Gastrodon would play a role in this project as well. I also liked his Scarf Politoed, probably because I always like to have one Scarf mon in my team and it's somewhat similar to the Scarf Tyranitar that I kinda fell in love with at the time. You see, personal preferences do matter.

So, I basically picked up the Politoed/Ludicolo/Gastrodon trio then -- there would be no point in diverting from that too much. The next step was to include a Steel Pokémon as insurance against Dragons. Metagross, Scizor and Ferrothorn are the popular options for that, with Metagross being the overall most solid of them, Scizor being a qualitatively similar attacker with better support options, and Ferrothorn being... completely useless against itself. I went with Scizor out of personal preference. It would also make a good combination with Gastrodon and support the speediness of the concept with the best Bullet Punch of the game.

Now for the weird stuff; I still wanted to test a Fire Pokémon in a Rain environment. My inspiration probably had a similar idea, as he used Arcanine in his team. It sure does lack the great supporting movepool Infernape has, but on the other hand it's more bulky, has access to Intimidate and can actually Flare Blitz without committing suicide. In the end, I kind of copied that instead of sticking with Infernape because Infernape really doesn't work well with Surf at all.

The sixth slot was the most difficult one. I could either do more Surf abusing just as my source did or I could try to include another counter to this concept's worst enemies. I decided to do the latter to avoid getting too similar to the original, but I also thought another offensive Water Pokémon would be overkill and thus worsen some of my matchups while not adding much new to the mix. So I somehow remembered that Tornadus actually exists und customized his pranks in order to meet a Rain team's needs.

So, now for the sets. IVs are always 31/31/31/31/31/31 or 31/0/31/31/31/31; the RNG made it easily possible for everyone except Tornadus (that would be a 22 in the unused attack stat).

A Look through the Magnifying Glass

politoed.png

Politoed / Quaxo / Edenspring

Modest, Drizzle, ♂

4 HP, 252 SpAtk, 252 Spe

@ Choice Scarf

~ Surf

~ Ice Beam

~ Hydro Pump

~ Perish Song

Surf is, just as the title suggests, the move I used the most as it is accurate, hits both foes and powers up two team mates. Hydro Pump is used when Surf is not an option because of Politoed's partner or when I don't want to be Choice-locked into Surf. (Random fact: I didn't miss a single Hydro Pump in the Friendly. I used it only on two days if I'm not mistaken, but multiple times each.) Ice Beam is the rather generic coverage move that helps in dealing with Dragons and occasional Grass Pokémon not named Abomasnow or Ludicolo. Perish Song is nothing too surprising again, as Politoed's movepool doesn't have much to offer. Because I just didn't get around to using it until a late match on day 4, I was toying with using a suitable Hidden Power over it, but those now just have to be thoughts of the past -- Perish Song saved me once and has thus justified its place on the set. On another note, I seem to have a special relationship with weather-summoning Scarfers for some reason... While they do have a clear disadvantage in weather wars, they tend to be comfortable as super-fast attackers.

Politoed's nature is the one thing I'm really not sure about. I thought I would be fine with Modest for the extra power, and I do believe it has won me some matches indeed. On the other hand, I've met way more Jolteons and the likes than I ever expected, which was quite annoying since I had only Ludicolo to outspeed them and a bunch of Pokémon that (except for Gastrodon) get 1-2HKOed by STAB Thunderbolts.

ludicolo.png

Ludicolo / Kappalores / Kokolores

Modest, Swift Swim, ♂

4 Def, 252 SpAtk, 252 Spe

@ Absorb Bulb

~ Fake Out

~ Surf

~ Giga Drain

~ Ice Beam

Just ripped that off my inspiration, pretty standard offensive Ludicolo otherwise though. Absorb Bulb is a one-time-use item that yields +1 special attack when hit by Water (i.e. Politoed's Surf), Fake Out buys me time and disrupts opposing Fake Out setups, and the three attacks give Ludicolo good coverage: Surf and Ice Beam are just as obvious as for Politoed and pretty much any special-attacking Water Pokémon, while Giga Drain gets STAB and beats most other Water Pokémon, which resist the Water/Ice combination in one way or another. Additionally, it can be very annoying if it hits something for good damage, as the healing effect can save a damaged Ludicolo from impending knockouts. Of course I would have liked Protect against Trick Room teams, but the offensive coverage is way more important to be actually able to sweep. If there were an item that does nothing but give a fifth moveslot (here's something you might do for Gen VI, Game Freak), I would use it without hesitation.

Nevertheless, I'm in fact one step away from changing the item to a straightforward Gem (might even go for the unusual Ice one to hit those Dragon pests harder...) or a Lum Berry, because Thundurus is nothing short of a major nuisance, or even a Life Orb to go all-in from scratch. If I were to keep Absorb Bulb, I would need to add more Surfs to the team for better means of activation. Using Politoed alone for that turned out to be a little clunky against people who are not easily beaten anyway.

gastrodon-east.png

Gastrodon / Tritonus

Calm, Storm Drain, ♂

252 HP, 108 Def, 4 SpAtk, 140 SpDef, 4 Spe

@ Rindo Berry

~ Earth Power

~ Ice Beam

~ Recover

~ Protect

"So, who is that Hitmontop guy everyone talks about anyway?" While I do like Hitmontop for his utility, Gastrodon is without any doubt the most impressive old-gen discovery of the metagame, in my opinion. If there are still people who seriously don't know about it, Cassie's article should be a good starting point. Well, Storm Drain (just as Lightningrod) has become an insanely cool ability in Gen V, as it not only redirects Water attacks but also grants immunity to it while even boosting the Pokémon's Special Attack by +1. Surf abuses this fact because as a field move it both hits everything out and at the same time pumps up Gastrodon. So basically, while Gastrodon is also a valuable Pokémon in standard good stuff, Trick Room and whatever, Surf-oriented rain teams like this one are actually using Gastrodon to its full natural potential.

As for the set, it's again pretty standard and straightforward, but a fully defensive variant. The team in total is pretty frail after all, so I figured I'd want at least my Gastrodon to eat hits for breakfast rather than death. With this EV spread, it's nearly impossible to 2HKO Gastrodon without Grass, very powerful attacks or the occasional critical hit. Speaking of the offensive side, I don't care about investing into special attack at all, since I would be boosting it with Surfs most of the time anyway. In addition, I'm not even using a Water-type move, so this Gastrodon is definitely not the born Rain sweeper. (Actually, it would never really have a shot at sweeping without proper speed control.) So, Recover and Protect are both in the set to maximize Gastrodon's longevity, while Earth Power is the one compulsory STAB and Ice Beam is, again, the best coverage move out there.

arcanine.png

Arcanine / Arkani / Hasso

Adamant, Intimidate, ♂

188 HP, 252 Atk, 4 Def, 4 SpDef, 60 Spe

@ Fire Gem

~ Flare Blitz

~ Close Combat

~ ExtremeSpeed

~ Protect

That's pretty much what one would/should come up with initially after viewing Arcanine's data on their Pokédex site of choice, I guess. Flare Blitz hits anything without resistance like a truck™ outside of rain (especially with the Fire Gem still available) and checks the team archetype's arch nemesis Ferrothorn inside of Rain. ExtremeSpeed hits for the rare +2 priority, outspeeding Bullet Punch, Ice Shard, Sucker Punch etc. Close Combat is what I believe to be Arcanine's best coverage move, as it hits most Rock Types super-effectively (especially Tyranitar), threatens Heatran, also hits Hydreigon hard and is the best last-ditch effort against most things that are slower but resistant to Fire. Of course, this set can't do a single point of damage to Flash Fire Chandelure, but really, who would even want to pick that against any Water-heavy team? The EVs are again focused on attacking, but also provide some bulk to be able to use Intimidate well and Flare Blitz more than once. Outside of Rain, this Arcanine outspeeds Ludicolo by one point, though I actually might add some more, because I've just found out that the rare Jolly Tyranitar is still one point faster.

There's another story about Arcanine that might be interesting: Back in 2009 when VGC was introduced to Europe, many German top players enjoyed using Arcanine as a solid anti-metagame Pokémon in their good stuff teams, with three of them playing in the national semifinals. Then, when the generation transition occured, I noticed that Arcanine received Close Combat as a new egg move (we used Will-o-Wisp, Iron Head, Charm or other situational stuff for this filler slot before), which made me breed Arcanine as my first old-gen Pokémon on White. It has been a prime choice on many different teams in different modes for me since then.

scizor.png

Scizor / Scherox / Eisenfaust

Adamant, Technician, ♀

252 HP, 4 Atk, 36 Def, 204 SpDef, 12 Spe

@ Steel Gem

~ Bug Bite

~ Bullet Punch

~ Swords Dance

~ Protect

This was obviously inspired by the American National champions, though I chose a more defensive route, as I lack the Thunder Wave / Icy Wind support that lets this lil' bug do the awesome things we've seen in the first place. The purpose of it in this team is rather to check threats like Dragons or opposing Ludicolo and give me, together with Gastrodon, a defensive backbone to work from when the aggressive way isn't working out at the time. Besides, Swords Dance is also nice to put pressure on Ferrothorn users, since Ferrothorn itself has absolutely no way except insane "parahax" to stop it. The low attack isn't hurting too much (it does sometimes annoy me, but the additional bulk has fully paid off), Bug Bite still OHKOs most Ludicolos, 2HKOs most Cresselias and Bullet Punch never really OHKOs anything anyway. Apart from that, Intimidate disrupts all variants the same as long as they have no attack boosts.

Yes, until Worlds I've definitely preferred Scizor over Metagross in general, but with everyone and their mother being like "I'm throwing random Fire moves on any mon jajaja," my love has since faded. Plus, no matter what EVs I use, Scizor never ever reaches Metagross in terms of bulk. Another problematic thing is the quirky coverage: as I've already mentioned somewhere, I'm having a hard time versus Electric mons, and especially the Flying ones of them laugh at Scizor's attacks. I really might have enjoyed a nice, hard-hitting Zen Headbutt there, but who knows.

tornadus.png

Tornadus / Boreos / Random Orc

Jolly, Prankster, ♂

4 HP, 252 Atk, 252 Spe

@ Flying Gem

~ Acrobatics

~ Rain Dance

~ Taunt

~ Protect

Yeah, you've read right, I'm using physical Tornadus in a Rain team. I actually did want to use a special one with Hurricane, but can't be bothered to restart my Black, and I'm not too fond of trading my teams together, so physical it is. Turned out, this "choice" was not naïve but prudent: I can't always assume I'll have Rain available, and 70% accuracy is something I prefer to completely refrain from relying on. So, it's just less power for more reliability, of course, and usually still does enough damage. The "Rain vs. no Rain" issue leads me to the next choice, which is manual Rain Dance as backup weather. As I have pointed out, Politoed loses at weather wars, and because of its frailty, it really isn't a weather summoner that would guarantee my field effects. So, once Politoed is absent or is in fact still on the field, Tornadus can easily fix the weather because of Prankster, and five turns are usually enough mid-game. As for the negative side of things, his lack of bulk is probably what I like the least about him -- I actually had no choice there, since I wanted something that outspeeds Latios and hits him hard at the same time.

Taunt was supposed to prevent Trick Room, but this was indeed a naïve assumption. Especially if they're offensive summoners like Reuniclus or something, they would just attack for free and still get the setup later somehow. Mental Herb is another issue, because it just renders the first Taunt useless (and most importantly, it is in fact used by people!), which is enough to force me onto the defensive. Thus, I should just do it like I do it most of the time with random good stuff teams: let them have their Trick Room and then disrupt their game under it. It's tempting to just use Amoonguss or something... whatever. If I were to still use this exact team in B2W2 (which I won't), I would try Superpower over Taunt to make Tornadus more valuable to pick against Sand teams and improve coverage in general.

Combinations

gastrodon-east.png

Politoed + Ludicolo + Gastrodon

These three are obviously the core of the team -- I might call it "WWW", to parody the magical buzzword that FWG (Fire - Water - Grass) is. Out of the 132 matches I have played during the Autumn Friendly, there have been only 15 where I didn't pick all of them, and of those only 2 where I picked only one of them, which was Gastrodon. They have been surfing GBU, after all! What exactly they are doing together should be intuitive after reading the movesets, but for the record once more and at a single place: Politoed's Drizzle summons the rain to activate Ludicolo's Swift Swim and boost the power of their Water-type moves. Politoed is also the one to eventually trigger Ludicolo's Absorb Bulb by using Surf on it. Independently from that, both Politoed and Ludicolo can use Surf on Gastrodon any time to activate Storm Drain. If I were to average the number of boosts Gastrodon got per battle, I'm pretty sure it would be at least +2.

While it isn't much, they also have a minimum of defensive synergy: Gastrodon's Ground typing helps to absorb Electric moves of any form, be it the Thunder(bolt) threatening a Politoed knockout, the Thunder Wave attempting to cripple Ludicolo or even the Volt Switch, effectively denying the opponent a switch without the use of Mean Look. To a lesser extent, Gastrodon also helps Ludicolo avoid random Poison attacks. The other way around though, there is nothing of value. Politoed and Ludicolo just don't want to take hits -- they just want to flood everything and Gastrodon's their sponge in both offensively and defensively.

As for the actual foursome construction, Politoed and Ludicolo have also turned out to be my favorite lead. Gastrodon, on the other hand, was in the back or not used 100% of the time -- I did see other people opening with the sea slug somehow, but I don't know. I don't like such a slow and unable-to-do-much-on-its-own starter, and I need it to switch into stuff I don't want other mons to suffer. Well, back to Politoed and Ludicolo, or just Policolo in short. While this duo looks rather straightforward and simple in theorymon, it does have versatility. First, I just would not be doing Fake Out / Surf mindlessly just for the setup if I know the time has not come yet. (Random fact: The second-place girl of the German Junior Division National Championship 2012 used this as an autopilot setup, but with Toxicroak and Kingdra in the back, and all four in their ugly shiny versions to top that off. It's a sad thing that German juniors appear to have no real understanding about the game at all. Well, at least we finally have some talented seniors...) ...But, I digress.

This is what I mean: the purpose of Policolo against more competitive players is not to set up but to pressure them by the mere appearance of the infamous Rain duo. They have to fear a Fake Out combined with any powerful Water attack, they have to fear even two powerful Water attacks, they need to apply some countermeasures (i.e. anti-weather or status infliction) instantly or they might just get overrun etc. Sometimes I'm activating the Absorb Bulb, sometimes I'm not. If I am activating the Absorb Bulb, there is also a possibility to attack with Ludicolo the first turn instead of using Fake Out. Because Politoed is Scarfed, both mons are usually moving before the opposing ones, so I might put a severe dent into their teams before they can even hit back. This aggressive approach is even more interesting when they are using Tyranitar: Usually, they will not be opening with it but instead with something that plainly loses to Policolo on their own. That's why they need to bring Tyranitar to steal the weather before they get too far behind -- this is when Tyranitar is in for some super-effective damage which will definitely matter in the future. On the one hand, it's simply adding up with Tyranitar having no means of recovery, and on the other hand, it's setting up the usual bulky Tyranitar for a Bullet Punch knockout or threat thereof. Switching one part of Policolo to Gastrodon while Surfing with the other also boosts the slug which doesn't care about the weather but is a completely new threat on the field.

Well, in general, as long as they don't find a way to knockout or disable Policolo or a decisive part thereof, they always have to live in fear of the fatal downpour. Gastrodon's defensive role makes conserving them for later easily possible. Dedicated counter Pokémon like Ferrothorn, Amoonguss, another Ludicolo etc. though should be handled by the team's supporting Pokémon in a suitable way. One implementation is...

ludicolo.png

Arcanine + Ludicolo

Not a duo with particularly noteworthy synergy but another useful lead. As Arcanine doesn't like Rain in general, having it open without Politoed is a way to get at least one full-force Flare Blitz off. Ludicolo's Fake Out helps with that -- the idea is not much different than the common Latios/Hitmontop or stuff like that. Usually, this lead is chosen if the opponent has some Grass Pokémon but doesn't seem to have much to keep Arcanine at bay. So, if he then is also starting with the Grass mon, I have just created myself a favorable field situation. If he is not, well, most times there would still be another nice target for the strong hit. Nevertheless, especially because of Intimidate, this lead can also be used in an entirely different way: switch to Politoed while using Fake Out, so Ludicolo will have its Rain. This approach appears to be particularly useful against dedicated Sand teams, as they tend to be heavily leaned toward physical attackers, while there is still a good chance that Arcanine will have favorable weather mid-game.

ludicolo.png

Tornadus + Ludicolo

This is another lead combination which I happened to use often, but I actually don't like it -- maybe because I don't really like Tornadus at all... Nevertheless, the purposes are simple: 1) Again, they can be used just as aggressively as the other duo (except that Acrobatics is a good chunk weaker). 2) Because Tornadus packs Taunt, they can prevent setups that are played a bit too carelessly. I do hate this tactic, as it's way too easy to punish and therefore rather ineffective. 3) Tornadus can set up surprise rain, of course. This is best done when the opponent's weather changer is right on the field, so he needs to switch it out and back in to stop Ludicolo from raging. A big problem with that though is Tornadus's frailty -- sometimes he winds up as mere cannon fodder; summoning rain with Politoed is much easier and better, in general.

scizor.png

Gastrodon + Scizor

Or short Gastrozor. Actually, they are a combination that I have discovered in a good stuff environment this spring. I was always somewhat paranoid about playing against rain, and once I got around to use Gastrodon, I quickly found that it basically walls rain stuff except for Ludicolo. This can be handled by Scizor then, which also appreciates Hydro Pumps and Scalds being redirected. This way, they also happen to counter Calm Mind Suicune, which can be pretty annoying on its own. Well, back to the Rain counter thing: If they use Electric Pokémon like Rotom, this block can still be broken easily, so actually Gastrozor need a helpful third or even fourth team member to really beat Rain -- an element that was greatly missed during the Autumn Friendly, as I have learned... Anyway, Rain paranoia of course isn't their only selling point. First, they cover each other's weaknesses in general. Second, while Gastrodon does have some bulk, it still greatly prefers not to be double-targeted -- that's where Scizor's unmatched Bullet Punch comes into play. Third, because of they overall bulk, they don't care too much about field conditions. Be it Trick Room, weather other than my Rain, Icy Wind or whatever, they are hardly incapacitated by that. It's no wonder that they are working well with good stuff, too.

arcanine.png

Gastrodon + Arcanine

Well, this is actually quite similar to Gastrozor but a tad more intuitive. As long as the opposing Pokémon don't know Surf or Muddy Water, Arcanine loses one of its three weaknesses just by Gastrodon's presence, while Arcanine is an even bigger threat to Grass Pokémon. Besides, Intimidate increases Gastrodon's longevity. If we put both Gastrozor and Gastrodon/Arcanine together, the result is somewhat resembling the common Gastrodon/Salamence/Metagross core. Sadly, Gastrodon and Arcanine didn't have much fun together during the Friendly, because I was heavily focusing on my Rain mode.

Problems and Future Work

The team as I've introduced it is what one might call version 1.0 (apart from that, it's my first time playing Rain seriously since Gen III) -- I have played not more than 15 matches with it before the Friendly, so it is only natural that there are some flaws. Most notably, it has some consistency issues in multiple regards. For example, if I'm choosing Politoed for battle (which I do most of the time), I'm required to also choose at the very least one of Arcanine, Scizor and Tornadus, who all obviously do not enjoy Surf. Usually, I can avoid them being hit by it by releasing the Scarf lock with a timely switch, or if not, at least Scizor isn't 2HKOed by it and all three carry Protect. Though, this mere fact has led me into lose-lose situations sometimes, where I had to either switch Politoed out to give my opponent a free turn to attack or just let it stay in, in both cases have the partner faint by an attack to then replace it by my last Pokémon -- the one who hates Politoed's ultimate bond with Surf.

Another problem is the fact that 4/6 Pokémon have rather weak offensive coverage on their own: Politoed is useless against Water -- ok, we can't be perfect. Scizor is useless against Fire, pure Steel and some popular mixed Flying-type mons -- fine, even Big Boss Metagross doesn't hit everything. Arcanine is useless against Fire, Dragon and Water -- now it's getting rough, as there are already a good number of other team members that are experiencing difficulties with certain Water Pokémon. Tornadus, for the last one, is useless against Rock, Steel and Electric -- this is obviously what a pure Flying attacker gets, but we do know that there are not few teams of Tyranitar/Rotom-W/Metagross/X/Y/Z or even worse roaming about. It might not be too big of a matter for each of them on their own, but because too many are sharing this predicate, it does add up in the end. By mentioning Wash Rotom, I have already painted the devil on the wall: I have no reliable way but Ludicolo to beat it. As for "adding up" in general, sometimes I have felt as early as team preview that "I do not want to use this Pokémon in battle, but I'm forced to bring it." Ironically, other Rain teams are the matchup where this has happened most often, though there it wasn't even only because of bad attacking options... Anyway, all of this could very well be mitigated by adding more Pokémon with better overall coverage to the team (it's an offensive team after all), and while I'm at it, I should also deal with the slight Electric weakness.

So, in a nutshell, this team has some issues, and I advise no one to copy it only to make the same discoveries. The core and each single mon on its own are working fine but the synergy could be better. Therefore, I will most likely keep the core while trying out a few different supporters. This experience has brought me many ideas for them, some even by my opponents in the tournament.

Conclusion

Although the Autumn Friendly still consisted of steamrolling casual players for a big part, I have learned much about both my team and also Rain concepts overall. With Politoed, Ludicolo and Kingdra dominating the picture, one cannot be blamed for thinking of Rain as being rather limited, but in fact I have found it to be about just as versatile as "Master Good Stuff" himself, and I'm amazed by that. It starts with questions like "do you intend to run full Rain or keep it just an option?", "Which Water-type moves do you want to employ?" or "Do you want to include Trick Room and if yes, to what extent?", and the result will always be an individually customized team -- sometimes resorting to standard Pokémon which have been proven to work and sometimes doing things the rogue way.

Thus, I did my best, I have no regrets and I'm looking forward to when I'll be Surfing GBU again!

Article image created by ryuzaki for Nugget Bridge. See more of ryuzaki’s artwork on deviantART.


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      - Rain Dance
      - Encore
      As the only legal Drizzle user, Politoed makes it onto the team for obvious reasons. Scald and Ice Beam are two very useful attacks; the former provides crucial chip damage that allows Kabutops to snag OHKOs on Zapdos, Aegislash, and Cresselia, while the latter takes out annoying Grass-types and Mega Salamence. Rain Dance gives Politoed a good surprise option against Mega Charizard Y and Tyranitar, allowing me to keep the weather in my favor; being Choice-locked into Rain Dance isn't a huge issue, as Politoed typically wants to switch out to preserve Drizzle anyway. I chose Encore over Hydro Pump in the last slot to pick up an advantage against Fake Out users; this didn't really work out in practice, so I probably should've used Helping Hand instead to make Kabutops even more of a monster.

      Talonflame @ Choice Band
      Gale Wings | Adamant
      4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
      - Brave Bird
      - Flare Blitz
      - U-turn
      - Taunt
      This set is pulled from Alex Ogloza's 2014 US Nationals team. Talonflame just has an answer to everything; Trick Room, Tailwind, or sand up? No problem, priority Brave Bird takes care of every problem. Many people seem to have underestimated Talonflame, but it can turn a game around in the blink of an eye. The bird also handles Grass-types very well, threats that would otherwise doom this rain team. U-turn served as my counter to Perish Trap, but I rarely used it even when its intended use case occurred. Taunt was used as a last-ditch atempt to shut down Tailwind, Trick Room, or Aegislash, and it allowed Talonflame to occasionally masquerade as a Life Orb variant.

      Manectric @ Manectite
      Lightning Rod / Intimidate | Timid
      4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
      - Thunder
      - Thunderbolt
      - Hidden Power Ice
      - Protect
      Looking at the team so far, all three Pokémon are weak to Electric-type moves. Most opponents wouldn't think twice against bringing Thundurus against this team. Manectric allowed me to handily disrupt those plans with Lightning Rod, redirecting those attacks and picking up a nifty Special Attack boost in the process. Thunder dealt tremendous amounts of damage, especially after a boost, while Thunderbolt gave me a more consistent backup option. In retrospect, I should've used Flamethrower instead of Thunder, as I faced many sun teams and did not get many chances to actually hit targets with the stronger move.

      Ferrothorn @ Rocky Helmet
      Iron Barbs | Sassy
      252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
      IVs: 0 Spe
      - Power Whip
      - Gyro Ball
      - Curse
      - Protect
      OHKOes 252 HP / 212+ Def Sylveon with Gyro Ball at +1 Attack OHKOes 252 HP / 164 Def Rotom-W with Power Whip at +1 Attack OHKOes 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan with Gyro Ball at +1 Attack after recoil damage You might notice that this Ferrothorn is extremely specially defensive; I realized that Rocky Helmet and Iron Barbs would deter my opponents from using contact moves (mostly physical) against Ferrothorn, so I EV'd it to take the special attacks that would be inevitably thrown at it. In lieu of Attack investment, I put Curse on the set. It ended up being a great choice, as Ferrothorn was typically given free reign to boost while Kabutops and Politoed knocked out opposing Fire-types. After a single boost, Ferrothorn becomes extremely powerful, knocking out several common threats. It's always a great feeling when Ferrothorn switches in on a Mega Kangaskhan's Fake Out; however, as you'll see shortly, skilled players can sometimes make a smart prediction for a free attack.

      Serperior @ Leftovers
      Contrary | Timid
      252 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
      - Leaf Storm
      - Glare
      - Taunt
      - Protect
      While Serperior might seem like an odd choice for the final spot, it covered several holes in my team. I needed a powerful special attacker, but I also needed a secondary Taunt user to deal with Trick Room and some form of Speed control. With Contrary, Serperior could take advantage of opposing Icy Wind and Snarl while boosting itself with Leaf Storm. Taunt allowed me to prevent Tailwind and Trick Room without forcing Talonflame to lock itself into it, while Glare provided much-needed paralysis support (and even had the bonus of being able to hit Ground-types). I invested into HP and Speed to allow Serperior to take hits while boosting up, as well as allowing it to outpace Thundurus.
      Day One (Swiss Rounds)
      Anyone who attended the UK Nationals will tell you that the tournament was an unorganised mess and had us all loitering around for 3 or 4 hours before any games even began.  Although for everyone else this was a nightmare, it gave me the opportunity to make new friends who supported me all weekend, despite never having met me.  I think the confidence boost this gave me had a part to play in the events that were to follow.
      Game 1 – Sergio Marcos
      His team:
          ( )
      I brought:
         
      Seeing his team, I thought Kabutops could do what he does best, as long as I could get rid of the Amoonguss with a Brave Bird and the Azumarill with Thunder.
      He led off with Gengar and Lopunny, and at the time I was pretty certain that his Lopunny was the Mega of the pair.  Expecting a Fake Out and Will-O-Wisp onto my Kabutops, I protected, and had Politoed target the Lopunny with a Scald.  As it turns out, the Gengar was the Mega as it sang the Perish Song.  *sigh*  Fortunately, I did predict the Fake Out correctly and left the Lopunny with only the tiniest bit of health or brought it down to its Focus Sash; it didn’t get knocked out, that’s for sure.  Politoed and Kabutops went down to Perish Song easily after the three turns, as I fell straight for the Eject Button Amoonguss.  Believing that the game was already over, my last two Pokémon, Manectric and Talonflame came out against what were his Mega-Gengar and Azumarill, which is when I started thinking.
      His win condition was to get off another Perish Song with either Pokémon and to then stall out the last couple of turns with the two extra Pokémon he has in the back.  The obvious play here was to Brave Bird the Gengar and Thunder the Azumarill, so all he had to do was switch in Amoongus for Azumarill and Protect the Gengar, while following up with redirection and Perish Song.  Was I overthinking my situation?  I probably was, but my prediction turned out to be spot on, as Amoonguss went down easily to a Brave Bird, while Thunder went into Gengar to knock it out too.  Lopunny and Azumarill come out from the back, but now it was his turn to believe the game was all over.  This doesn’t mean that he didn’t put up a good fight until the end, as Lopunny used Fake Out on Manectric while his Azumarill went for the Perish Song.  As his Lopunny had gone down to Brave Bird, he was left with his Azumarill against an on-point Talonflame and an angry Manectric.  In a last ditch effort, Azumarill went for the triple Protect, but fortunately for me, only got the double.
      Sergio Marcos ended making the top cut with a 7-2 record, coming 21st  overall, which is very impressive, considering he lost his first battle of the tournament.  Good game, Sergio!
      1 - 0
      Games 2 & 3 - Micky Orchard & Alex Monks
      Although I definitely won both of these games by leading Politoed and Kabutops, my memory is almost blank.  I know for a fact that both players used a Mega-Kangaskhan and I successfully lured both players into having them use Fake Out on Ferrothorn. Not to downplay their efforts, I'm quite sure that both games were close even if turn one went my way both times. Manectric won the game both times with Lightning Rod boosts and a lucky critical hit at the second game.  I'd have remembered if my opponents were nasty, so I can only assume they were absolutely swell people.
      Looking at the standings, my eyes spy that they both narrowly missed making the top cut with 6-3 and 5-4 records respectively.  Good Game Micky and Good Game Alex!
      3 - 0
      Game 4 – Matteo Gini (Matty)
      His team:
          ( )
      I brought:
         
      Fancy getting a game against someone who shares my name!  As our names suggest, I got to speak Italian with him, which was a pleasant surprise.
      He lead with Charizard and Sylveon, which I was comfortable with.  Having a strong suspicion that he would Mega-evolve, I had Politoed do his Rain Dance and protect with Kabutops.  Matteo did in fact Mega-evolve with the Charizard and had his Sylveon use Hyper Voice.  Politoed took a lot of damage, but didn’t faint.  Knowing that his Charizard was too valuable to him, he switched it out.  Kabutops really shone as he picked up knock outs on both Sylveon and Landorus-T.  I did also play quite recklessly as I did lose Politoed a little bit too early.  On the final turn, his Charizard was up against my low-health Manectric and Ferrothorn, with the sun up.  Manectric managed to knock out the Charizard in one hit with a critical hit, which Matteo said had mattered, as his Charizard was bulky enough to take a Thunderbolt from Timid Manectric.
      The critical hit might have set Matteo back a bit, but he still made the top cut with a 7 - 2 record, finishing 13th overall.  Good Game Matteo!
      4 - 0
      Game 5 - Harry Aurime (Adaranoy)
      His team:
          ( )
      I brought:
         
      Looking at his team, I made the schoolboy error of not thinking about Suicune's Tailwind, meaning I didn't lead with either Serperior or Talonflame to taunt it away.  Instead I lead with Politoed and Kabutops again, seeing as no Pokémon on his team particularly scared me and I had been leading the pair in every game to great success so far, as he lead with Suicune and Bisharp.
      This is when I realised that he could Tailwind and seriously diminish my chances of winning, even if I didn't feel that threatened by his team.  I decided to have Kabutops Rock Slide and hope for the flinch on Suicune.  I was going to Scald the Bisharp but realised that the only play that would make sense for him would be to Protect the Bisharp, so I went for the Scald on Suicune just to get free damage off and maybe hope for the Burn.  Thankfully, Harry is a calm and gracious player, because two critical hits, a burn and a flinch on his Suicune meant that his game plan was probably set back by miles.  But it did not stop there.  He had Sylveon and Kangaskhan in the back, but neither could make a significant impact on the game as Kabutops got even more flinches with Rock Slide while Manectric paralyzed everything it touched.
      The loss here unfortunately set Harry back a lot, as he narrowly missed making the top cut with a 6-3 record.  I had a friendly rematch against him after I got knocked out of the contest.  The rematch was just as eventful.  Good Game, Harry!
      5 - 0
      Game 6 - Matthias Suchodolski (Lega)
      His team:
          ( )
      I brought:
         
      Fun fact: When I was a kid, I was gifted Pokémon Gold Version in German, so that I could learn the language.  Being able to speak German at the Nationals with Matthias was another pleasant surprise.
      Being ecstatic with what I thought would be an easy match-up for my team, I lead with my five-win-streak pair of Politoed and Kabutops, because they had done me proud so far.  Just like in games two and three, I kept Ferrothorn and Manectric in the back to lure in Fake Outs from Kangaskhan and electric-type attacks from Rotom-Heat respectively.  He lead with Kangaskhan and Rotom, which made me very happy.  If I could predict Matthias’ moves to a tee, I would win the game easily.  My plans however, fell apart from turn one.  Rotom switched out for Amoonguss, which was to be expected but his Kangaskhan became the first of the competition to use Fake Out on Politoed instead of Kabutops.  Ferrothorn came in, but I was already disheartened.  The game was still quite close, as Ferrothorn managed to set up enough turns with Curse to knock out quite a few Pokémon, including his Kangaskhan which was burned from a Politoed Scald the following turn and doing significant damage against Amoonguss.  With Terrakion and Rotom-Heat in the back, Ferrothorn struggled to not get knocked out in one turn.  Kabutops would have had free reign if I had bought Talonflame for the Amoonguss.  I'd say this was my biggest mistake.
      For 9 Swiss rounds, Matthias impressively went unbeaten and came 5th overall.  Good Game Matthias!
      5 - 1
      Game 7 - Terence Dray (Ty Flowsion)
      His team:
      [mini name=reuniclus][mini name=staraptor][mini name=charizard-mega-y][mini name=scrafty]([mini name=breloom][mini name=sylveon])
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=serperior][mini name=kabutops][mini name=talonflame]
      The first thing that struck me seeing his team was Reuniclus.  I knew Reuniclus was a Trick Room setter, but I couldn't even begin to guess what its defensive stats were.  My guess was that it was a slightly less bulky Cresselia with higher offensive potential.  His Reuniclus was level 49, which made me assume that it had to be able to outspeed something in Trick Room to presumably beat it, my guess was Amoonguss (turned out I was right).  I was tempted to lead Politoed and Kabutops again as an attack from both could knock Reuniclus out, especially if it had to compensate defensive EV's for Special Attack to knock out Amoonguss.  But I saw other problems, namely Charizard-Y and Scrafty who could both severely hinder my plans to disrupt Trick Room.  I decided to lead with Politoed and Serperior, as Politoed could try getting a burn off on Scrafty or Rain Dance after Charizard Mega-evolves while Serperior could stop Reuniclus from setting up the Trick Room with Taunt.
      Terence led with Reuniclus and Staraptor.  I hadn’t even really considered him leading with Staraptor.  In a moment of bewilderment, I used Taunt on the Reuniclus with Serperior as planned, but completely forgot about Staraptor being able to use Final Gambit.  I lost Politoed, meaning that I had already lost the weather war on turn one.  The battle wasn't lost, because Kabutops had me covered with his Rock Slides.  I was also sure that Kabutops could outspeed his low Speed Charizard because I had prevented the Trick Room.  The only Pokémon Terence had in the back that could potentially cause me problems were Breloom and Scrafty, who were both easy pickings for Talonflame.  He switched in Charizard as my Kabutops came out.  Even if  I did lose my Politoed, I felt that I had the advantage.  Rock Slide was the most obvious move to go for with Kabutops, while I correctly predicted the taunted Reuniclus to switch out.  Charizard used Protect while Scrafty came in to a Glare from Serperior.
      I didn't know what to expect next, and I was also suddenly not so sure whether or not my Kabutops could knock out the presumably bulky Charizard, especially after the Intimidate and Fake Out from Scrafty.  I decided to play safely and switch to Talonflame.  I'd say that this was a misplay.  I would have been far better off stalling out the Fake Out with a double Protect and then switching, but I think I was afraid of the Reuniclus switching back in for the Charizard.  He fakes out the Talonflame and goes for the Heat Wave, putting Talonflame at about half health.  Knowing that Terence would risk too much with a Solar Beam prediction, I switched in Kabutops for Serperior.  I made Talonflame Brave Bird Charizard instead of Scrafty, just in case Scrafty should decide to do anything like Protect.  Having his Charizard at low health would also be good, as a Rock Slide from Kabutops would guarantee the knock out.
      Then came the play that won Terence the game: his Scrafty using Quick Guard.  I did no damage that turn and his Charizard managed to get yet another Heat Wave off, knocking out Talonflame in the process.  Out of options, I knew I had to commit to trying to getting lucky with Rock Slide flinches and the chance of full paralysis.  My Serperior went for the Glare on the Charizard, but Terence switched it out for Reuniclus.  Scrafty either flinched or got fully paralysed, it didn't move, that's for sure.  Next turn, I knew I had to get rid of the Scrafty as it was the only immediate threat to Kabutops, so I had Serperior target it down with a Leaf Storm.  But the unboosted Leaf Storm was nowhere near enough to knock out the Scrafty.  Scrafty overcame the Rock Slide flinch and the full paralysis to knock out my Kabutops with the help of both Pokémons' Life Orbs.  To add salt to the wound, the Reuniclus managed to set up the Trick Room, which decided the game.  Serperior did manage to get a knock out on Scrafty during the last few turns because of Reuniclus getting fully paralysed, but did not stand a chance against the Charizard in the back.
      Using this win, Terence solidified his chances and made the top cut with a 7-2 record, coming 12th overall.  Good Game, Terence!
      5 - 2
      Game 8 - Reece Timms (ChicoMono)
      His team:
      His team:
      [mini name=lapras][mini name=thundurus][mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=breloom]([mini name=sableye][mini name=landorus-therian])
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]
      It struck me as odd that I was paired with someone who was at a 4 - 3 record and as such, already out of the competition.  I would discover the reason later, but I did joke about bribing him to let me win.  Being such a kind-hearted guy, Reece said he wouldn't mind losing and only planned to play for fun.  This did end up being quite a fun game as Reece brought an interesting team with him.  I didn’t struggle much in this battle, but I did have to do multiple double-takes when his Lapras dodged a Rock Slide from Kabutops, survived a Thunder from Manectric, and knocked Talonflame out with a Weakness Policy-boosted Hydro Pump.
      Even though Reece was knocked out of the competition, he still finished relatively strong with a 5 - 4 ratio.  Good Game, Reece!
      6 - 2
      Game 9 - Yohan Pagonakis
      His team:
      [mini name=charizard-mega-y][mini name=thundurus][mini name=conkeldurr][mini name=breloom]([mini name=weavile][mini name=landorus-therian])
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]
      Another fun fact:  At the same time that I was gifted a German copy of Pokémon Gold Version, I was also gifted Pokémon Red Version in French, with the exact same aim: to learn the language.  Being paired up against Yohan and speaking French with him meant that I had spoken a total of four languages in one day, which I wasn’t expecting.
      Tensions were high along the 6-2 table, as everybody was mentally preparing for the battle that would decide their place in the top cut.  I didn't know at the time, but Yohan is a veteran player, having gotten 15th place at the German nationals a couple weeks before.
      I led Politoed and Kabutops as per usual and had Politoed do a Rain Dance, because he led with Charizard.  The game went pretty smoothly from there, because Charizard locked into Solar Beam allowing Kabutops to knock it out.  The game was decided when Talonflame picked up a KO on Conkeldurr at -1.  Good Game Yohan!
      7 - 2
      With this final win, I made the top cut, ranking 8th in Swiss being the highest ranked player with a 7 - 2 record, which explains why I was matched against Reece earlier.
      Day 2 (Top Cut)
      Arriving at the venue the next day, I seemed to be the only person who wasn't tired.  I had only gotten a few hours sleep that night because of how late we had finished the day before.  Obviously pumped with adrenaline, I waited with my breath held as my first opponent for the day was to be decided.  As it turned out, I got a bye round for doing so well the day before, and some matches were going to be played by people further down the ranking to determine who would get a place at the top 32.  Some really big names made the top cut, but there was a particular big name that I definately did not want to get matched up against.
      Top 32 – William Tansley (StarKO)
      For my top 32 match I was matched up against William Tansley.  Like me, William made the top cut with a 7 - 2 win ratio, losing only to big names Arash and Sekiam.  The stage was set for Kabutops to prove it was no one-trick pony.  My first ever best-of-three match was about to begin.
      His team:
      [mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash][mini name=volcarona][mini name=landorus-therian]
      Latios was the first Pokémon that struck me on Williams team.  This was the moment where I had wished I had Knock Off on Kabutops instead of Low Kick.  I would bring Kabutops anyway, because of Landorus-Therian and Volcarona being easy pickings for it.
      Game 1
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn][mini name=manectric-mega]
      He brought:
      [mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]
      At this point, I think you can easily guess what pair I lead with, but I should probably mention it anyway.  Politoed and Kabutops were going to be perfect bait for any Fake Outs from the Mega-Kangaskhan or Thunderbolts from Rotom-Wash, as Mega-Manectric and Ferrothorn were lurking in the back again.  Things went wrong from turn one.  Just like against Matthias the day before, William correctly had his Mega-Kangaskhan Fake Out Politoed while his Latios went for the Tailwind.  I decided it might be an idea to take the Tailwind to my own advantage, I wanted Ferrothorn to get a strong Gyro Ball off against Latios.  But on the other hand Ferrothorn would be at risk from the Kangaskhan.  I decided to switch Kabutops in as a sacrifice, which was the best play I could have possibly made, as he double-targeted it with Low Kick and Draco Meteor.  Politoed Scalded Mega-Kangaskhan and got the burn too.  I switched Ferrothorn back in, as I knew that it wouldn't be taking that much damage from either Pokémon.  Knowing that one of his Pokémon would switch out, I had Ferrothorn use Curse.  Unfortunately it did take some damage from Low Kick.
      The Rocky Helmet reveal was important for William, as he had in mind to burn Ferrothorn in future games.  Rotom-Wash came in next along with Latios returning.  Thinking he could get rid of Politoed quickly, I knew it was Manectric's time to turn things around.  Gyro Ball from Ferrothorn did significant damage to Latios, almost knocking it out.  I wanted to stall out his Tailwind as well as my rain, so I could set it up again with Politoed in the back.  I needed Manectric to outspeed everything and launch those high-powered Thunders.  Protecting Manectric, I recall was also a fantastic play on my end, as William had identified it as a threat and double-targeted it.  This allowed Ferrothorn to hit the Rotom with a Power Whip.  The end of the game was easy as all I had to do was knock out the low-health Latios to stop it from setting up the Tailwind again, meaning that Aegislash was left to fight against my last three Pokémon.
      1 - 0
      Game 2
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn][mini name=manectric-mega]
      He brought:
      [mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]
      A piece of advice that is often given to best-of-three players is to stick to what works if you win the first game and change things up if you lose it.  At first I thought William hadn't gotten that particular memo, but he would soon prove me wrong.  If the first game was heavily in my favor, the second was completely in his.  I didn't want to risk any more wrong Fake Out predictions, so I just made Politoed and Kabutops go for the Mega-Kangaskhan, as any damage was good damage.  This is possibly the only good play I made this game, because Tailwind became a real thorn in my side.  His entire team became unstoppable, as no Lightning Rod or Iron Barbs predictions could become a reality.  Aegislash sealed the deal for William as I could not read its movements at all.
      1 - 1
      Game 3
      It was back to the drawing board for me from here.  William was not going to fall for anything that I had revealed anymore, I knew that much.  But on the other hand I had dominated the first game with the element of surprise.  This time I had one thing in mind: Speed control.  I had to stop him from setting up the Tailwind, but I needed a backup plan just in case that idea were to fail.  Time for Serperior to shine.  Or should I say Glare?
      I brought:
      [mini name=serperior][mini name=talonflame][mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops]
      He brought:
      [mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]
      And so started the best game of the competition.
      Talonflame and Serperior were to lead and double-Taunt the Latios, because I knew that having one of the pair be Faked Out was no big deal.  He decided to Fake Out Serperior, which was probably to be expected, but there was no Tailwind for him this time.  I might actually have gotten really lucky there, as there might have been a speed tie between Talonflame and Latios. Serperior was the definite hero this game as it started running circles around William's team, Glaring and Taunting, Taunting and Glaring.  All the while Protecting at clever intervals to recover with Leftovers.  William did not go down easily however.  Although Serperior did go largely ignored, my other Pokémon had a hard time between trying to find a way to dent the correct Pokémon and not taking damage.  Talonflame however survived a Psychic from Latios to knock it out in one hit with Brave Bird.  Aegislash also failed to outpredict the combo of Politoed and Kabutops, going down easily due to Serperiors Taunt.  Mega-Kangaskhan and Rotom almost ruined the party as they had free reign because I had not taken Manectric or Ferrothorn with me.  The last turn came about and Serperior, with a Leaf Storm boost and at almost full health, was left against Mega-Kangaskhan and Rotom-Wash.  Mega-Kangaskhan had visible battle bruises, as it lay in low health almost from Double-Edge recoil damage alone.
      I think tiredness and hunger must have set in, because I suddenly drew a complete blank on what William had on Mega-Kangaskhan.  For some reason I was convinced it had Power-Up Punch.  I was also convinced that he was going to predict me to Protect to get Leftovers recovery and so would Power-Up Punch his own Rotom to get enough fire-power to knock out Serperior in one hit.  I had to prevent this from happening.  If my prediction turned out to be wrong, I knew that the chance of me getting knocked out from on Double-Edge was very low (around 10%).  Even if that did happen, there was no way that Kangaskhan wouldn't faint due to recoil.  Putting all my eggs in the snakes basket, I easily knocked out the Rotom with Leaf Storm.  The moment of truth came as Double-Edge hit Serperior.  Time itself slowed down as I watched the health bar fall down...
      to 4 HP.
      2 - 1
      There was no way that this game could have been any more tense.  This was the only other game Serperior was taken to, having lost the first one against Terence.  Not only did Serperior redeem itself, it also won me the game almost single-handedly.  This was my favourite match of the tournament, and possibly the best match I've ever played in my admittedly short VGC career.
      Great Game, William!
      Top 16 – Arash Ommati (Mean)
      If you had told me on the cold Friday morning when I left my flat to get to Manchester that I would be battling Arash Ommati, the former World Champion, for a spot in the top 8, I would never have believed you.  Here I was, with the matchup that I was fearing.
      I looked at his team.  It was very familiar.  Aaron Zheng had been playing a variation of it on his Road to Ranked series that week.  Arash brought a Japan Sand team.
      His team:
      [mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=excadrill][mini name=aegislash][mini name=azumarill][mini name=amoonguss]
      I tried to keep calm, because I knew Kabutops could thrive in this battle.  If I won the weather war, Kabutops could get off fast Rock Slides and seriously threaten the sand core of Tyranitar and Excadrill.  On the other hand if I lost the weather war, Kabutops could tank the Mega-Salamence, Aegislash, Azumarill, and although I didn’t know this at the time, his Amoonguss.  I figured that I should take Ferrothorn with me, as it doesn’t take Sandstorm damage and was also immune to Amoonguss.  As long as I could get a few boosts with Curse up, I would be safe.  Arash recognised my win condition: Knock out his Salamence, and Ferrothorn could carry the rest of the game.   I didn’t.
      Game 1
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=ferrothorn]
      He brought:
      [mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=azumarill][mini name=aegislash]
      In the first game I decided to lead with my trusted pair of Politoed and Kabutops with Ferrothorn and Manectric on the bench.  The idea was to hopefully find out whether or not Tyranitar was carrying a Choice Scarf, by bating out a Superpower.  Arash led with Salamence and Tyranitar, with Aegislash and Azumarill in the back.  Although I suspected as much, I was comfortable with the confirmation of Salamence being the Mega-Pokémon, as I knew Manectric could threaten it.
      My memory has faded on the details of this game, but I remember feeling that I played terribly.  I remember Manectric getting knocked out early, but getting Azumarill to low health at least.  Politoed also knocked out his Salamence quite early on with an Ice Beam.  Arash must have been playing worse, because I won the game in the end.  It might have had something to do with the fact that Arash targeted my Ferrothorn with a Shadow Sneak from Aegislash and an Aqua Jet from Azumarill after Ferrothorn had set up a Curse.  I remember having a miss-click this game too, but nothing as game-deciding as his.
      1 - 0
      We took a break after the first game, so that we could both have a breather and a think.   The difference between a veteran and a beginner really showed during this break, as Arash thought about whether or not his Azumarill was really worth bringing instead of Amoonguss, while I ran around the venue looking for as many people as possible to tell that I was one game up against the former World Champion.  Now that I’m no longer a fledgling player, I now know not to make this truly obnoxious mistake again.
      Game 2
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=talonflame][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn]
      He brought:
      [mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=amoonguss][mini name=aegislash]
      In the second game, I thought that Arash had maybe identified his Aegislash as a threat to me.  Not wanting to have the same Aegislash-related problems that I had against William, I decided to lead with Politoed and Talonflame.  I fealt safe leading with Politoed because I had a suspicion that he would drop sand altogether.  I’m not sure what he led with, but I honestly felt that I was playing better this game than the last.  I won the weather war, as Kabutops made Arash do a double-take by surviving a Superpower from Tyranitar and responding with a Low Kick to knock the it out.  If Arash hasn’t been at the top of his game, I would have won, because Amoonguss putting all of my Pokémon to sleep really prevented me from doing any other significant plays.  Talonflame was also having a tough time, because it couldn’t find the perfect opportunity to Brave Bird his Amoonguss.
      1 - 1
      Game 3
      I brought:
      [mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]
      He brought:
      [mini name=amoonguss][mini name=aegislash][mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar]
      I cringe every time I watch this game.  I still have no idea what I was thinking that first turn.  When Aegislash was targeted by Kabutops I heard Arash groan quite loudly, which means he must have been relieved when I did not double-target it.  Even if I did get the flinch on Aegislash, I would have been at an advantage if I played recklessly as usual, as Arash kept predicting me to play it safe.  I genuinely thought I was going to win when I got both the critical hit and the paralysis on Salamence, but I just couldn’t capitalise on it.  Having Flamethrower on Manectric would have also been useful, as Amoonguss would have given me much less problems.  I believe that the tiniest bit of bulk on Politoed would have also helped it survive the Shadow Sneak from Aegislash, which sealed the game in his favor.
      1 - 2
      Good Game, Arash!
      The dream was over, but there was no way I could be bitter.  I was lucky to get that far in the first place and it was an absolute treat to get matched against Arash.  In the next round Arash faced Matthias and beat him.  This made me slightly disappointed at my loss as I would have really enjoyed a rematch against Matthias.  Arash got so close to winning it all, only to fall at the final hurdle, but his win against me had already solidified his place at the World Championships.  Hope to see you do well there, Arash!
      Conclusion
      As much as I love this team, I do have to admit that it relies a little bit too much on taking risks. I am happy about the fact that Kabutops proved to not be a one trick pony in best-of-three games. Does it need support? Yes, it does, but I still feel that it carried the team. Would I use it again?  Probably not. I assume that people will start to wise up about the prehistoric critter after reading this article, so it might possibly start seeing more use. Maybe someone could find an even better way to use it in the future!
      I want you all to know that you should not be afraid of going to official events near you, because the Pokémon community is so welcoming to newcomers and I did not meet a single person I disliked. Neither should you be scared of bringing your favourite Pokémon, especially if you can find a clever way to use it. Who knows, you might even make it further than I did my first time.
      Finally, I want to give some thank yous and shout outs to some people, because (and I don't want to sound silly) I would not have made it that far without the praise and support of the people I met that weekend.
      Matt Sheppard (KaSlaps)(high-fives galore), who was even more daring than me and top cut with a Kecleon, coming 35th overall. Gareth Buckley and his friendly friend Lee (or Leigh), who would praise me like a god for using Kabutops and just being the most entertaining person at the nationals with his extraordinary plays (successfully reading a Zapdos Roost with an Earthquake).  Still trying to find you on Nugget Bridge, buddy! Astronautical, who volunteered to make that really awesome artwork you see at the top. Various people on Pokémon Showdown who complimented me on Kabutops and set my decision in stone to bring it with me to the nationals. The lady at the stand who made the bacon butties which were a blessing between games. Every single one of my opponents, for giving me great games and still being supportive and gracious after being beaten or when beating me. Everybody I met at the nationals who I didn’t battle in the competition, including the people who went: “Oh, you’re THAT guy”, after I would tell them about my team. Everyone who helped jog my memories of the event, as they were quite fuzzy at the time of writing. And lastly you, for putting up with the ramblings of a novice and reading this article to the very end.
    • By Nazka
      Hello everyone! This is the second team I'm posting here. 
      I'll try to make something clear and illustrated!
       
      Team building and thought process
      I wanted to build a team around my favorite Pokémon:  Suicune. She's a bulky support, with little investment she's able to take a lot of things and very few Pokes are able to OHKO her!
      First thing to note, Suicune has 85 Speed... I decided to go for a Trick Room team, but I feel like TailRooms are more stable, which was perfect since Suicune is a good Tailwinder!
      I added a duo I love: M-Slowbro and Raichu.

      I needed to start to think about my restricted Pokémon. A big part of my team was very uneffective to  P-Groudon, and the weather war was going to be hard. The infamous RayOgre was so obvious ! A bulky, slow  P-Kyogre and a fast, hard hitting  Rayquaza. Against teams where I wouldn't bring my M-Slowbro,  can still be a thing.  

      What to do against Xerneas? Yup, not much. I thought about a Pokémon that would fit a Trick Room archetype, and I was hesitating between  Ferrothorn and  Scizor. I went for  with an Occa Berry because I was a bit afraid of  P-Groudon, again... I may switch to  Ferrothorn after a few tests and compare both!

      "Too much water, 7.8/10 "... 'Nuff said. Yup. 3/6 Pokémon are water-typed Pokémon! A heartbreaking breakup... I had to part ways with  Suicune. To keep the spirit of that team, I need a tailwinder support. Two of them are coming to mind:  Crobat and  Whimsicott! I'm more of a  Crobat guy, but  Whimsicott has solid arguments too. 
      The big question
       +  /
      Which support should I go for?
      Team detailed & showdown export

      Slowbro @ Slowbronite  
      Ability: Oblivious  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 108 SpA / 148 SpD  
      Relaxed Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Scald  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Skill Swap  
      - Trick Room  

      Raichu @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Lightning Rod  
      Level: 50  
      Shiny: Yes  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      IVs: 0 SpA  
      - Volt Tackle  
      - Feint  
      - Encore  
      - Fake Out  

      Kyogre @ Blue Orb  
      Ability: Drizzle  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 140 HP / 116 Def / 252 SpA  
      Quiet Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 2 Spe  
      - Water Spout  
      - Scald  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Protect  

      Scizor (F) @ Occa Berry  
      Ability: Technician  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 188 HP / 204 Atk / 116 SpD  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Bug Bite  
      - Bullet Punch  
      - Pursuit  
      - Protect  

      Rayquaza @ Life Orb  
      Ability: Air Lock  
      Level: 50  
      Shiny: Yes  
      EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Naive Nature  
      - Dragon Ascent  
      - Extreme Speed  
      - Overheat  
      - Protect  
      Potential supports :

      Crobat @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Inner Focus  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 244 HP / 12 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      - Super Fang  
      - Taunt  
      - Tailwind  
      - Haze

      Whimsicott @ Mental Herb  
      Ability: Prankster  
      Level: 50  
      Shiny: Yes  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpA  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Moonblast  
      - Tailwind  
      - Taunt  
      - Fake Tears
      Final words
      This team is working out great for now with Suicune, but that's just tests on Showdown at ~1350-1400 (Yes, I'm bad.)
      By advance, thanks for helping me chose and constructed criticism!
    • By MegaShuckle
      So I´ve been trying different teams in Pokemon Showdown for the johto classic and I got to the 1300 with this team:
      Espeon @ Choice Specs  
      Ability: Magic Bounce  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Psyshock  
      - Dazzling Gleam  
      - Shadow Ball  
      - Trick
      Weezing @ Black Sludge  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spe  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Taunt  
      - Will-O-Wisp  
      - Fire Blast  
      - Sludge Bomb
      Scizor @ Occa Berry  
      Ability: Technician  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 108 Atk / 28 Def / 116 SpD / 4 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Swords Dance  
      - Superpower  
      - Bullet Punch  
      - Knock Off
      Dragonite @ Lum Berry  
      Ability: Multiscale  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Dragon Dance  
      - Outrage  
      - Thunder Punch  
      - Earthquake
      Zapdos @ Life Orb  
      Ability: Static  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA  
      - Volt Switch  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Hidden Power [Grass]  
      - Heat Wave
      My problem is that I dont know which 6th Pokemon I should use: I´ve tried Gyarados, Crobat, Piloswine, Donphan, Cloyster, Golem. But everyone of those makes my team always to weak against some type. Any ideas of how can I improve my team? Any help would be thankful.
      (If you are asking why my Zapdos has HP Grass, its my only way of getting rid of Quagsire)
    • By smartguyc1089
      This is the first team I have made for VGC16.
      Togekiss (F) @ Safety Goggles  
      Ability: Serene Grace  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Spe  
      Bold Nature  
      - Air Slash  
      - Protect  
      - Follow Me  
      - Tailwind  
      Togekiss+xerneas is the core I built this team around. Togekiss's main role is to redirect moves from xerneas so it can get a geomancy and then sweep. It has 252 HP and defence evs to help defend against the physical moves that are commonly used to KO xerneas. It does have some problems with Iron head users, but generally one turn is all that is required. The reason for togekiss to be used instead of amoongus is to avoid being 2HKOed by precipice blades from groudon. The safety goggles are to give it the ability to redirect spore from amoongus. Air slash can be used to lock down the pokemon xerneas is not moonblasting, albeit unreliably. Protect is just staple in doubles, follow me provides the redirection support I need, and tailwind is for setting up almost unbeatable groudon or xerneas sweeps if given the opportunity.
      oh Deer (Xerneas) @ Power Herb  
      Ability: Fairy Aura  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 244 HP / 252 SpA / 12 Spe  
      Modest Nature  
      - Geomancy  
      - Moonblast  
      - Thunderbolt  
      - Protect  
      Xerneas is the crutch this team is built around. I gave it HP EVs because the geomancy boost means it outspeeds most things, notably not speed invested groudon, but I don't run into that very much for some reason. The special attack EVs are self explanatory, and the speed evs are to speed creep speed creeping bulky xerneas. Geomancy is the setup that this team is built around, Moonblast was taken because I prefer the obscene single target damage to the only powerful dual target damage dazzling gleam provides. Thunderbolt is taken to deal heavy damage to primal kyogre, a weakness of this team. protect is sometimes used turn one combined with tailwind from togekiss on a prediction that xerneas gets double targeted.
      Rotom-Wash @ Choice Scarf  
      Ability: Levitate  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 SpD  
      Calm Nature  
      - Trick  
      - Thunder  
      - Hydro Pump  
      - Protect  
      Rotom wash is here because I found this team has a huge weakness to primal kyogre, and xerneas carrying thunderbolt doesnt really do enough. It is designed to be tanky, but still 2HKOs primal kyogre with thunder. The scarf means it outspeeds kyogre, and with trick it can cripple support pokemon, and slow down an enemy in trick room. Hydro pump is to provide a secondary coverage option also boosted by heavy rain. Protect may seem stupid on a choice scarf user, but it very rarely keeps its scarf after turn 1 of it being on the field, due to the number of supporting pokemon in the meta right now.
      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      Level: 50  
      Shiny: Yes  
      EVs: 244 HP / 252 SpA / 12 Speed
      Modest Nature  
      - Earth Power  
      - Eruption  
      - Protect  
      - Fire Blast  
      My Primal Groudon is built to beat other primal groudons. It OHKOs opposing primal groudons with earth power, deals ridiculous damage to both enemys and 2HKOs Primal groudon with eruption, and carries fire blast for powerful fire type damage if it is on low HP. It has enough speed to speed creep speed creeping primals. It is a relatively straightfoward inclusion in this metagame.
      Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite  
      Ability: Scrappy  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 116 HP / 252 Atk / 140 Spe  
      Jolly Nature  
      - Fake Out  
      - Return  
      - Protect  
      - Sucker Punch  
      Kanghaskan is here to lock down pokemon that threaten xerneas with spread moves, and to break smeargle's sash. I needed a mega, and so this one provided. It is tanky enough to take at least one hit from any non-supereffective or primal hit. The fake out makes it useful for looking after xerneas. Return deals heavy damage to almost anything that doesn't resist it. Protect is self explanatory, and then sucker punch 2HKOs most sweepers.
      Scizor (M) @ Choice Band  
      Ability: Technician  
      Level: 50  
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Bullet Punch  
      - Bug Bite  
      - U-turn  
      - Knock Off  
      Scizor here has only one job, and that is to bullet punch xerneas. It carries knock off to deal with pesky items, bug bite to screw with sitrus berry users and do decent STAB damage, and u-turn to provide switch utility
       
       
       
       
    • By rexursi
      Hello, and Aloha Nuggeteers! (You like that? We have a LABEL :D) All of you probably have NO IDEA who I am, so let me go ahead and fill you in! My Name is George Wielichowski, Everyone calls me by IGN though; Rex, although Rex Ursi is the Full IGN ^_^. I’ve never been really prominent in the World Circuit, but I have been avid through Battlespot throughout the 2015 year. I have been fairly “off-grid” due to my SEVERE disdain for using legendaries (no seriously take a look at my 2015 team)
       



       
       
      But alas, unfortunately with the change in rulesets I thought I would be able to just wait it out… But right when you think you’re out of the game, they pull you back in! (I need mental help, I’m not socially acceptable xD) AAANNNYYYWWWAAAYYY, after a long drought of not playing in competitive, this is my polished rough draft (meaning I’ve tried several things but can’t quite get it right {that’s why I’m asking for help ^_^})  well without further ado let me introduce to you my VGC 2016 team!

         ?


      Yeah, Yeah ANOTHER RAYOGRE TEAM… I had no intentions of using this as a “core” the first mons on the team were WEAVILE SCIZOR and I though “hey. You know what goes great to stop a couple mons who are REALLY weak to fire? PRIMORDIAL SEA” and immediately kyogre came with it. I tried some YVELTAL sets but nothing ever seemed to click. And I didn’t want to have to bring Kyogre in against EVERY Groudon, so Rayquaza just fit in so perfectly. After that I figured I needed some tailwind type shenanigans and find Talonflame the easiest way for me to manage this. Anyway, here’s the team/spreads!


      Kyogre @ Blue Orb

      Modest Nature

      Drizzle > Primordial Sea

      4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

      ·         Water Spout
      ·         Ice Beam
      ·         Scald
      ·         Protect
      I went for a faster, harder hitting build, using Water Spout very aggressively. A lot of people usually go for Origin Pulse instead of Scald, I’ve also seen some Kyogre’s running Thunder. In my personal experience, and my personal opinion, it is nice to have some NON-spread STAB with Scald, and Ice Beam covers much more than Thunder, and doesn’t require the rain incase Rayquaza is in.

       

      Rayquaza @ Life Orb

      Hasty Nature

      Air Lock > Delta Stream

      4 HP / 252 Atk / 40 SpA  / 212 Spe

      ·         Dragon Ascent
      ·         Extreme Speed
      ·         Overheat
      ·         Protect
      Pretty standard I feel. I carry dragon ascent for obvious reasons, along with E-Speed. I carry 212 EV’s in Speed because with the Hasty Nature it allows me to outspeed Jolly Khan. Dropping the rest of the EV’s into Special Attack for the little bit of extra damage with Overheat. I have toyed with several different options, and find that Overheat works best for me. Deals with pesky Aegislash, Ferrothorn, and pretty much any prominent steel type. Any advice for a change of set would be greatly welcomed.


      Weavile @ Focus Sash

      Jolly Nature

      Pickpocket

      252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

      ·         Fake-Out
      ·         Icicle Crash
      ·         Knock-Off
      ·         Taunt
      I needed a fast taunter and I didn’t feel like using a prankster, I felt like Weavile offered a lot of coverage having an Ice stab and Knock-Off is great up against Cresselia, Mewtwo, and pretty much EVERY Psychic type in the meta, ESPECIALLY Bronzong. Of course Fake-Out support, I made it a Jolly Nature to outspeed Mega-Kang. Focus Sash for obviously frailty.



      Scizor @ Assault Vest

      Adamant Nature

      Technician

      252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD

      ·         Feint
      ·         Bullet Punch
      ·         Bug Bite
      ·         Superpower
      This. THIS. Leading with this into a Xerneas makes them switch out so fast, their heads spin. Feint to counter protects and wide guards, Bullet Punch for stab, Bug Bite is stab and is a THKO against cresselia, which is sayin something, and I didn’t really have anything for a final move, and just threw in Superpower. Ive thought about running a bulkier more support set, but I have found most of my success on this build.



      Talonflame @ Sitrus Berry

      Adamant Nature

      Gale Wings

      252 Atk  / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

      ·         Brave Bird
      ·         Flare Blitz
      ·         Tailwind
      ·         Quick Guard
      Pretty Standard set. I’ve tried to run a slightly bulkier set with taunt, move feint onto weavile, and change my Scizor into the fast variant. This has had the most benefit, but I still don’t know about this addition.

      The final slot is completely empty ive tried such things as:

      TOGETIC (anti trick room)
      After You, Follow Me, Tailwind, Dazzling Gleam


      HARIYAMA (thick wall)
      Fake-Out, Wide Guard, Low Kick, Protect


      LUCARIO (inner focus)
      Bullet Punch, Close Combat, Follow Me, Protect


      AEGISLASH (wide guard set)


       (SPRITE WONT WORK >.<) King's Shield, Wide Guard, Shadow Ball, Flash Cannon
      I would really like to stay away from smeargle, but if its something I should try I guess I could give it a run :/

      What do my fellow nuggeteers think?
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