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252 Times Better than 252/252: Advanced EV Spreads

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jio

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blog-sages_training.jpgCongratulations! You've read our advice on the very best spots to train your Pokémon. Now you're ready to start putting the finishing touches on your team, but the idea of doing all the math to come up with a competitive EV spread is too intimidating. In the end you decide to dump 252 EVs into the two most viable stats and 4 EVs in the third and make up your mind that you're ready to battle. While this is acceptable for newcomers to VGC, as you progress as a battler you'll soon realize how inefficient 252 / 252 spreads are. The purpose of this thread is to guide the reader in crafting custom and creative EVs spreads that make the Pokémon and the whole team more efficient. Once you have finished reading this article you'll be able to think outside the box not only in terms of EVs, but also item choices and natures, both of which play a big role in determining how to train your Pokémon. This article will cover five important factors that should we considered when EVing your team.

Table of Contents

  1. Establishing a Goal which explains how to design a role for a certain Pokémonon your team and how to EV it to help accomplish that role.
  2. Being Conservative which involves getting the most out of your spread using the least amount of EVs to accomplish your goal.
  3. Offensive EVs which are used to OHKO or 2HKO the top threats in VGC or certain threats to your team.
  4. Defensive EVs which allow your Pokémon to survive certain attacks commonly seen in VGC.
  5. Speed Creeping which allows you to get the jump on other Pokémon around your Speed tier.

Establishing a Goal

Every Pokémon that you carry on your team has a specific role on the team. That role can be to OHKO/2HKO a certain threat, survive certain attacks, or outspeed a certain threat; some Pokémon are even capable of doing all three! Establishing a goal is what defines the EV spread you carry on your Pokémon and whether or not that Pokémon can accomplish that goal. So before you can begin creating an EV spread you should ask yourself, "What is this Pokémon's role on my team? And how should I EV it to accomplish this goal 100% of the time?"

To answer the first question, you have to understand what the Pokémon you're running is fully capable of, so it's recommended to look at it's movepool and base stats to see if it's capable of fulfilling this role. For this, we recommend Veekun's Pokédex. Once you have done that you're halfway through establishing a goal. Now you can answer the second question several ways, either by OHKOing a certain target, surviving a certain attack from it and setting up to be able to handle it better, or outspeeding a threat to obtain an advantage over your opponent.

You have to understand that each Pokémon on your team can only do so much in a battle. Its best not to overload your Pokémon with 3-4 goals and instead focus on the two most important goals and then throw in a third if it's possible. There is a reason you have a partner and other teammates on your party: they all have their own goals and tasks which aid the whole team in victory. It's usually in best interest to EV each Pokémon with a seperate goal. This makes your team more versatile and unpredictable in a long run. For example, if you want a Pokémon to OHKO a certain threat, you need to make sure you invest just enough power to OHKO the threat 100% of the time, however if you plan to just have it deal as much damage as possible to a wide variety of targets, then maxing investment in offense is acceptable. The smallest number of goals you want to have is two seeing as how you have at least three stats to EV train in. Your Pokémon can either OHKO threats and Speed creep certain threats, OHKO threats and take hits, or take hits and Speed creep certain threats. The goals you want your Pokémon to accomplish are entirely up to you, but you must make sure you understand what each Pokémon in the VGC metagame is capable of doing before you prepare yourself for them.

If that seems all a bit academic, let's take a look at an example. This is the Reuniclus I worked on with Cassie that she used on her top cutting Nationals team. We'll take a look at what goals we selected for this Reuniclus and how we EV'd Reuniclus to accomplish those goals.

reuniclus.png

Reuniclus (F) @ Life Orb

Trait: Magic Guard

EVs: 252 HP / 60 Def / 196 SAtk

Quiet Nature (+SAtk, -Spd)

- Trick Room

- Psychic

- Energy Ball

- Recover

Reuniclus was chosen to be the Fighting-type counter to her team, and with Life Orb + 125 base Special Attack it did a fine job. 196 SpA was chosen as it was just enough to OHKO Max Hp / Max SpDef Conkeldurr and 252 Hp / 0 SpDef Hitmontop 100% of the time. It also has good chance of OHKOing 252 Hp / 252 SpDef Hitmontop. Considering that these are two of the most specially bulky Fighting-types in VGC, Reuinclus would have had no problems KOing the rest, which was very helpful for the Abomasnow on her team. The SpA EVs also allowed Energy Ball to OHKO 252 hp / 252 SpDef Calm Gastrodon without Rindo Berry and deal a significant chunk to 252 Hp Tyranitar with Sandstorm up. Reuniclus's Hp and Def EVs allowed Reuniclus to take a non-boosted Crunch from Adamant Tyranitar and most other physical attacks. A non-boosted Bug Bite from Scizor had a 43% chance to OHKO her Reuniclus, but she had a partner in Chandelure to handle Scizor. So to reiterate, her Reuniclus's goals were the following:

  1. OHKO a majority of Fighting-types in VGC
  2. OHKO Calm (Rindo Berry-less) Gastrodon with Energy Ball
  3. Take a non-boosted Crunch from Adamant Tyranitar and hit back with Energy ball

With these goals her Reuniclus was able to support her team by comfortably setting up TR majority of the time while having partners to handle threats Reuniclus would've had trouble against.

Conservative EVs

Being conservative is probably the most important mindset you can have when it comes to distributing EVs to your Pokémon. It simply means that you are accomplishing a goal by using the least amount of EVs needed. By using this method you'll find yourself with more unused EVs that can be added in another stat to give your Pokémon the best possible advantage over your opponent. Most battlers' first instinct is to dump 252 EVs into the Pokémon's best stat, but what most of them don't realize is that if you were to use a bit less than 252 EVs you can achieve the same results as if you maxed it out. There's nothing completely wrong with using 252 EVs in one stat, but why should you when you can use less EVs to accomplish the same goal? The best way to figure out how many EVs you should add to accomplish a goal is to use a Damage Calculator. I recommend using the Honkalculator. Mess with the EVs and try to find how many you need to accomplish your goal and try to reduce the number as much as possible. After you've reduced your EVs as much as possible, you'll have leftover EVs which can be used to increase your offense, bulk, or outpace a certain threat.

It's important that you avoid wasting EVs on your Pokémon that could be used on another stat. Remember that a Pokémon's stat increases by 1 point for every 4 or 8 EVs, so you should make sure you're doing your math right. If you're EVing in offense first make sure you have the least amount of EVs to KO the target 100% of the time, or if that's not possible then go for a high enough chance that you feel comfortable with. If you're Speed creeping then make sure it has enough EVs in speed to outrun the target by one Speed point. If you're investing in more bulk make sure you invest enough HP and either Defense or Special Defense to survive the attack you're looking out for with a reasonable percentage. The main problem with 252 / 252 spreads is that they restrict the Pokémon from accomplishing anything against skilled players as they'll be dying to attacks they could potentially survive due to EVs being wasted in an irrelevant stat. You should definitely use the Damage Calculator to make sure that all 510 EVs are being used and split up in at least 3 different stats. If you're in a situation where you have enough EVs in certain stats that fulfill certain goals and still have leftover stats you can add them wherever you feel it would be helpful. So if you have a Cresselia with EVs in Hp, Def, SpDef, and Spe that are satisfactory enough but still have leftover EVs you can add them to whichever of those stats you feel it'd be extra help with or add it into SpA just to give Cress a bit of fighting power. Even as little as 4 EVs in a stat can make a big difference during a battle, so take advantage of that when you're making your spread.

You should also be aware of any irregular IVs on your Pokémon, say, for a Hidden Power, as that can affect your EVs. If you were to put 252 EVs in a stat that had a 30 IV, you would have wasted a stat point. At level fifty, when you use 252 EVs on a stat with 30 IVs, you don't receive the extra 1 point after 248 EVs that you would if you had 31 IVs. For example, if you are running Hidden Power Fire on Latios then you should know that it usually requires 30 IVs in Special Attack and Speed. If you were using Timid Latios and investing 252 EVs into either SpA or Speed you would get the same stat as if you had invest only 248 EVs, wasting 4EVs on each stat. Because you're trying to be conservative, you should go with 248 EVs since you get the same result and you can now put those extra 4 EVs in either of Latios's defenses. While 4 EVs may not seem like much, any amount is more than enough in helping you barely survive certain OHKOs or getting secure kills.

Offensive EVs

You win a Pokémon battle by knocking out the opponent's entire team before they can do the same to yours. The simplest way to do this is to overpower and KO your targets with powerful attacks, but you have to make sure you're being smart about it as well. If you want your Pokémon to just deal as much damage to with an overpowered attack such as Latios's Dragon Gem Draco Meteor, then 252 SpA is acceptable. However, if you're carrying a Pokémon whose job is to KO a specific target then it's time to be creative. As mentioned before its best to invest enough EVs in power to KO a specific target 100% of the time. Doing this requires you to learn Base Stats, how EVs change each stat, and how to use a damage calculator. You'll want to understand the base Attack and Special Attack of your Pokémon compared to the base Defense and Special Defense of your target so you can understand how much investment you will need to KO. Not only will a large base stat determine your OHKOs, but super-effective damage is an important factor when it comes to OHKOing a target so you should definitely take that into account when EVing to KO a specific threat. Also take into account the decrease in base power of spread attacks such as Blizzard, Heat Wave, and Rock Slide, which are reduced to 75% of their original power. Due to this drop your attack might often 2HKO or 3HKO the target unless you have a way of boosting your attack or a partner who can KO one of the targets to bring the spread damage back to 100%. It's also very important to understand that Sandstorm and Hail damage can play a huge role in deciding OHKOs. If an attack has a high chance to OHKO, it'll become a 100% chance when you consider Sandstorm and Hail chip damage.

Items, Weather, and Abilities are a godsend when it comes to raising the power of your attacks to ensure key OHKOs. They provide your Pokémon with extra power, meaning you can invest less in your offensive stat and add some bulk to your spreads. For example, the Reuniclus that was mentioned before had only 196 SpA EVs but carried a Life Orb to guarantee the KO on Conkeldurr. This meant it had leftover EVs to add to its bulk, allowing it to take a Crunch from Tyranitar. You can go even further than this, using a Water Gem and Rain for example, to allow you to invest even less in your offensive stats and more in bulk. Of course you're more than welcome to invest 252 EVs in offense, but if you're stacking up multiple advantages on one mon then your attack can become unnecessary overkill when you could be investing in bulk. Ultimately the decision is up to the player's play style so they should find an amount of offensive EVs that they feel comfortable with on their Pokémon. The player should be able understand the metagame well enough to know what kind of bulk the opposing target could potentially run and work around that. With this information, you'll be on your way to learning how to create specific spreads made to survive and/or KO certain targets or threats.

Defensive EVs

Giving a Pokémon EVs to increase its resistance to attacks is common knowledge in not only VGC, but competitive Pokémon as a whole. Not only should your Pokémon be able to deal reasonable damage to KO your targets, but it's equally as important for them to be able to take powerful hits themselves to remain on the battlefield to accomplish their goals. Most players usually EV a Pokémon to take a specific attack from a certain threat that hurts the rest of the team, or the Pokémon itself, which then gives it an opportunity to retaliate. If you're planning to survive a specific attack commonly seen in VGC then you should invest not only in HP but also in either Defense or Special Defense to handle that attack. HP increases the Pokémon's overall bulk, but investing in Defense or Special Defense allows the Pokémon to handle a physical or special attacks better, respectively. Sometimes it's better to invest a lot of Defense or Special Defense rather than max HP to increase it's survivability.

Just as there are tools to increase your offensive capabilities, there are tools to increase your defensive capabilities. These tools can be used to increase your survivability by regaining the Pokémon's health or weakening certain attacks, and you should adjust your EV spreads to make the most efficient use of them. More HP on a Pokémon, for example, allows them to regain more health from Sitrus Berry, so max HP on a Sitrus Berry holder is generally a good idea. Because Sitrus restores 25% of your max HP, investing in the defenses instead of HP on a Pokémon holding Sitrus Berry is generally a poor decision as you will recover less HP from your Sitrus Berry. The resist berries and abilities such Multiscale act as great buffers to surviving attacks, making EVing your Pokémon to survive troublesome attacks much easier.

When making defensive EV spreads the player should make note of Sandstorm and Hail chip damage as well as it could end up fainting your Pokémon after you've survived a powerful hit. Both Sandstorm and Hail deal 6.25% or 1/16 (rounded down) your max HP of chip damage to any Pokémon that is affected by them, meaning that if your Pokémon's total HP at level 50 was 160 it would lose 10 hp from Sandstorm or Hail. A suggestion would be to EV your Pokémon so that it survives the weather damage after taking a hit with a max damage roll. You can calculate to see how much is 1/16th of your Pokémon's total HP and then use a damage calculator to see how much damage the attack you're trying to survive would deal at max damage. If it leaves you with more than 1/16th of your Pokémon's HP then you should be able to survive both the attack and the chip damage from Hail or Sandstorm.

Make sure that when you EV a Pokémon to take a hit from a specific target that it can at least harm or threaten the target back. Merely applying EVs to survive hits won't do you any good if the Pokémon can't do anything much in return. If your Pokémon can tank a hit while being able to KO, do significant damage in return, or set up your team then it was successful at it's role. If it can't then it has failed to have an impact on the match. You should also consider every possible option the target you're trying to survive a hit from has at their disposal. For example, a very common attack most VGC players defensively EV around is Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from Timid Latios. Because Timid Latios is so prevalent, making a spread to survive it's strongest attack will allow you to handle it majority of the time. However, in the case that Latios is running a Modest nature your EV spread will be obsolete as it will most likely OHKO and you will lose your check for Latios. These instances are rare, but should definitely be taken into account when hoping to check a certain threat. Dragon Gem Draco Meteor from Latios isn't the only over powered threat that you should be aware of, for example Fire Gem Overheat Chandelure can utterly annihilate anything that doesn't resist it as well. Other popular boosted attacks are Ghost Gem Shadow Ball from Chandelure and Dark Gem Crunch from Tyranitar to eliminate Trick Room setters as the majority of them are weak to Ghost and Dark moves, so be sure to watch out for them if you're running Trick Room.

Speed Creeping

Speed Creeping refers to investing enough Speed into your Pokémon to allow it to get the first hit on another Pokémon around it's Speed tier. This is very important as having Speed control will often determine who wins the battle. In order to properly Speed Creep you need to know trends in the metagame and be aware of how many Speed EVs a Pokémon will commonly carry. While this is useful, it is also unreliable as not every single opponent will run the same EV spreads as everyone else. Your opponent could possibly run more Speed on the threat than you imagined and now they'll have the jump on you. One of the safest way to Speed Creep is to outspeed the target assuming they run carry max Speed EVs, but this is not always reliable as well. You can't start assuming that everyone will run Max Speed Jolly Hitmontop so once again you just have to be smart about it and know what would be a reasonable and relevant target for you to Speed Creep. You should also make sure not to overdo your Speed Creeping. Unless it's absolutely necessary for your team you shouldn't try to run a ton of Speed in order to Speed Creep, especially on bulkier Pokémon, as it cuts down on the Pokémon's bulk and makes the EV spread more difficult to finalize. As you might expect from reading this, Speed Creeping is a skill that comes with practice. The only way to really get a handle on it is to go out and play enough games to get a feel for the metagame. However, there are some starting points.

Knowing the Speed Tiers is very important when you're trying to Speed Creep. There are certain fast threats that tend to always carry max Speed EVs which you can safely get the jump on, with the proper set up. Here's a list of target Speed Tiers, as well as their base Speed and Speed number, that you can try to Speed Creep as they frequently carry max Speed.

101 | 168| Landorus, Thundurus-T

102 | 169| Garchomp

108 | 176| Terrakion, Virizion, Cobalion, Infernape, Galvantula,

110 | 178| Latios, Latias, Gengar, Tauros, Jumpluff, Espeon Froslass

111 | 179| Thundurus, Tornadus

115 | 183| Raikou, Azelf, Starmie, Persian, Sneasel, Ambipom, Cinccino,

120 | 189| Sceptile, Alakazam, Dugtrio

125 | 194| Weavile, Swellow

130 | 200| Crobat, Jolteon, Aerodactyl

Of course most of the Pokémon listed aren't common enough to EV against unless you feel that you are threatened by them. The safest tier to Speed Creep to is the 130 speed tier, as you'll be able to get the jump on almost every other Pokémon at the same time. However, because those Pokémon are so fast you'll usually need assistance from set up moves, Choice Scarf, and abilities like Sand Rush, Swift Swim, and Chlorophyll in their respective weathers. For a more complete Speed Tier list, check out this Smogon article.

Conclusion

The purpose of making a custom EV spread is to put the odds in your favor the majority of the time. In order for you to be able to do that you'll need to be able to understand the VGC metagame thoroughly. Make sure you pay attention to trends in threats and strategies so you can adjust yours to be able to beat whatever is common now. The majority of players make custom EV spreads to work around what's common in the modern metagame, but don't expect every opponent you run into to be as predictable as you may think. Everyone will make their own spreads designed to counter whatever they find threatening, so it's best to do that too. Don't forget that almost every custom EV spread has about three concepts to them: OHKO a specific threat, tank a hit from a specific threat, outspeed a speed tier. There's obviously more to any EV spread, but these are the three most basic concepts. You chose the Pokémon on your team for whatever purpose they serve on your team, so you need to make sure your EV spread will help with fulfill that purpose majority of the time.

Now that you've read this article you'll probably want to get out there and begin working on your own custom spreads. It's not so easy unless you have the propers tools, which in this case would be a damage calculator. Damage Calculators are extremely important as they allow you to determine how your EV spreads will work before you can test them in battle for yourself. The previously mentioned Honkalculator is an excellent and easy to use damage calculator that you can rely on. Just remember to change the level to 50 every time as keeping it at 100 can mess up your calculations sometimes. Now that you have the info and tools to craft your own custom EV spreads, you'll be able to improve your team's capability in battle. Hopefully this article will inspire everyone to think outside the box instead of relying on 252 / 252 spreads!!!


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      Going back to the Hariyama+Gothitelle lead, it was great getting a free Trick Room up the first turn while taking about 90% worth of damage with Gothitelle, just to heal it all back up the following turn with Rest while Hariyama OHKOed the attacker.
      In our example, Latias could easily set up Tailwind and still be able to attack once, or be able to get two attacks off to weaken Sylveon or its partners. To find the EV spread, all you have to do is simply guess-and-check until you have the correct numbers you need. For basic EV spreads like these, maxing out HP first is usually a good place to start. Then, keep adding Defense or Special Defense EVs until you survive the attack.
      21:16: OHKOing or 2HKOing a Pokémon with an attack 100% of the time. In the example, you see that it only takes 68 Special Attack EVs to foil Azumarill's plans to use Belly Drum – either it won't have enough HP to set up Belly Drum, or you can be sure you'll OHKO Azumarill after it sets up Belly Drum. Since Thundurus's role on this particular team is to support the team with Thunder Wave speed control, we designed it to be bulky, but this little bit of offensive power helps Thundurus to secure a very important KO for this team.
      As another example from last year's World Championships, let's take a look at the Scrafty from Wolfe Glick's (Wolfey) 9th Place Team Report:

      Scrafty @ Lum Berry
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 236 HP / 148 Atk / 108 Def / 12 SpA / 4 SpD
      Sassy Nature
      IVs: 0 Spe
      - Fake Out
      - Snarl
      - Drain Punch
      - Taunt
      While Snarl might be interesting to discuss when talking about Wolfey's Scrafty, let's take a look at his 148 Attack EVs. With this investment, Scrafty could 2HKO 4 HP Mega Kangaskhan with Drain Punch. However, the reasoning for this goal was more complex than just that:
      I knew that I wanted Scrafty to be able to deal with Kangaskhan, yet I couldn't decide how much attack to invest because of the wide range of bulk Kangaskhan is capable of using. For this reason, we chose to invest 148 Attack EV's, which always 2HKO's 4 HP/0 Defense Kangaskhan. The reason I thought this was so clever is I didn't actually care whether or not Scrafty 2HKO'd Kangaskhan: I just wanted to be able to tell how much bulk a Kangaskhan was running in a 2 out of 3 match easily. By using the minimum possible to guarantee the 2HKO on bulk less Kangaskhan, I was able to tell in a glance whether an opposing Kangaskhan was bulky or offensive; information that was incredibly valuable as it allowed me to judge how much Mawile's attacks would do or whether or not I could expect my Hydreigon to outspeed. Of course, there is a chance of a very low roll and me misjudging the opposing Kangaskhans bulk in theory, but every time I used this method to harbor a guess I ended up being correct.
      24:29: Outspeeding a Pokémon using the VGC '15 Speed tiers. In our example, Mamoswine was chosen for that particular team to serve as a way to get rid of troublesome Dragons, Landorus-T, and Thundurus. Looking at the Speed tiers, Mamoswine can reach a 198 Speed stat using the Adamant Nature and holding a Choice Scarf. However, Pokémon like Mega Sceptile, Greninja, and Mega Pidgeot aren’t particularly common for the team to face or difficult for Mamoswine’s teammates to defeat. After looking at Pokémon slower than Mamoswine, Jolly Mega Salamence seems to be the most annoying problem, but is 9 points slower than Mamoswine. Because we don’t care about anything in that Speed range, we can lower the amount of Speed EVs to give us more EVs for Attack or bulk. Since the Choice Scarf multiplies the holder’s Speed stat by 1.5x, we find the actual stat Mamoswine needs to reach by taking 190/1.5, which gives us 126.6666… We can’t have a decimal for a stat though. A 127 Speed stat would be required to outspeed Jolly Mega Salamence. Now all we have to do is find the magic number, which in this case is 212 Speed EVs.
      Yet another example from the 2014 World Championships is Ryosuke Kosuge's (gebebo) Mega Mawile from his 5th place team, which relied on outspeeding and outdamaging the opponent's team with options like Tailwind Aerodactyl and Choice Band Garchomp.

      Mawile @ Mawilite
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 92 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      – Play Rough
      – Fire Fang
      – Sucker Punch
      – Protect
      Specifically, before Tailwind, Mega Mawile's 164 Speed EVs let it reach a 91 Speed stat. With Tailwind blowing behind his team, gebebo's Mega Mawile hit a 182 Speed stat – one point above max Speed Mega Lucario. This made Mega Mawile significantly speedy under Tailwind, being able to OHKO the likes of Garchomp, Hydreigon, and Mega Lucario instead of taking a chunk of damage before striking back.
      30:17: Underspeeding a Pokémon, and how to find the Speed stat of a Pokémon not on the Speed tiers. This example is reminiscent of the weather wars of 2012, when you would often find slow Tyranitar to make sure Sandstorm remained the permanent weather condition instead of the rain from Politoed's Drizzle. However, minimum Speed Politoed isn't on the VGC '15 Speed tiers – we have to figure it out ourselves. Most damage calculators (and Showdown’s teambuilder) come with built-in stat calculators, we can figure Politoed’s minimum speed. In this case, simply change Politoed's 31 Speed IV to a 0 Speed IV, and give it any Speed-lowering Nature you can think of. Now that we know Politoed's minimum Speed is 67, we just need our Tyranitar to have a Speed stat of 66, which is just a 0 IV in speed. Now Tyranitar will always underspeed Politoed to guarantee sand gets up, but still outspeeds other Tyranitar that might be using a Brave Nature and 0 Speed IVs. Similar to the same strategy Ray used in his winning team from the 2012 World Championships.
      Underspeeding the opposing Pokémon for weather wars isn't the only application of this concept. Sometimes, you'll want to underspeed your own Pokémon for some combos. Wolfey's team again provides a fantastic example of this concept, where he specifically gave his Mega Mawile a Speed stat of 64 with an Adamant Nature, 17 Speed IVs, and 4 Speed EVs.

      Mawile @ Mawilite
      Ability: Intimidate
      EVs: 252 HP / 132 Atk / 60 Def / 60 SpD / 4 Spe
      Adamant Nature
      IVs: 17 Spe
      - Play Rough
      - Iron Head
      - Protect
      - Sucker Punch
      Despite Mega Mawile being one of Wolfey's primary forms of offense in Trick Room, Wolfey chose not to go with a Brave Nature and 0 Speed IVs. Why, you ask? Well, Wolfey's Gothitelle had a Sassy Nature and 0 Speed IVs, so it reached a 63 Speed stat. If Mega Mawile and Gothitelle were on the field together in Trick Room, Gothitelle would always move first. This meant Gothitelle could use Psychic to soften up an opponent for an attack from Mega Mawile, or break a substitute using Gothitelle's weaker attack before following up with the more powerful Play Rough or Iron Head.
      Bringing It All Together
      34:18: Let's make an EV spread for a Rotom-Wash.

      Here are the goals we’ll try to achieve:
      Outspeed Adamant Bisharp so it can use Will-o-Wisp to halve the damage Rotom-W or its partner will take from Bisharp's move OHKO 4 HP Landorus-Therian with Hydro Pump Make Choice Specs Sylveon's Hyper Voice a 3HKO, including Sitrus Berry recovery To start off, using the Speed tiers we find out that Adamant Bisharp reaches a 122 Speed stat. To outspeed Bisharp, we need Rotom-W to reach a 123 Speed stat. This requires 132 Speed EVs.
      Next up, we want to OHKO 4 HP Landorus-Therian with Hydro Pump. After playing around with the numbers, it looks like 60 Special Attack EVs is the minimum amount of EVs it takes to accomplish this goal.
      Last, we want to make sure Sylveon's Choice Specs Hyper Voice is never able to knock out Rotom-Wash in two hits. Since we have a Sitrus Berry, we can automatically tack that recovery onto Rotom-W's max HP stat to save some time. Sitrus Berry recovers 1/4 of your HP, so take Rotom-W's HP stat (157) and divide it by 4. Then, add the result. In this case, we have 157/4=39.25, and 157+39.25=196.25. Wait a minute, a Pokémon can't have 0.25 of an HP, right? Nope. In Pokémon, if you see a decimal, you're almost always going to chop it off, or truncate it. Truncating isn't the same as rounding, though. If Rotom-W had 196.75 HP, then it'd still only have 196 HP, not 197.
      We know that our Rotom-W has 196 HP if you consider the Sitrus Berry. So, if we want to survive two Hyper Voices, each Hyper Voice would have to do less than half to Rotom-W's 196 HP. 196/2 is 98, so each Hyper Voice can only do at most 97 damage. Now all we have to do is invest enough EVs to make sure Sylveon's Hyper Voice only does 97 damage. After playing around with the numbers, 252 HP / 148 Special Defense with a Calm Nature accomplishes this goal.
      … or not. Unfortunately, while we did accomplish every goal on our list, we used up too many EVs! 132 Speed + 60 Special Attack + 148 Special Defense + 252 HP = 592 EVs, which is 84 more EVs than any Pokémon can have at once. So, what do we do now? Well, if we were just a few EVs over the 508 EV limit, we might be able to just compromise here and there and accomplish our goals "most of the time" instead of 100% of the time. 84 EVs is a lot, though, so that "most of the time" probably isn't going to be very consistent in the middle of a battle. We're going to have to change one of our goals completely.
      In this case, I've decided to change the Choice Specs Sylveon goal, as I feel this team has a better matchup against it than against Bisharp or Landorus-Therian. After thinking about it some more, I think making Ludicolo's Giga Drain a 3HKO would be a good idea. However, I'm not all that sure about what kind of EVs Ludicolo use. Do they use max Special Attack, or do they focus more on bulk to complement the Assault Vest? To find out what's popular on Ludicolo, we can look at popular sets from Nugget Bridge team reports. After glancing through the Ludicolo tag, you might notice Blake Hopper's (Bopper) Ludicolo spread from his 11th place World Championships team report was also featured on many high placing Regionals teams, like Talon's and majorbowman's:
      [sugimori name = ludicolo]
      Ludicolo @ Assault Vest
      Ability: Swift Swim
      EVs: 252 HP / 84 Def / 148 SpA / 4 SpD / 20 Spe
      Modest Nature
      – Scald
      – Giga Drain
      – Ice Beam
      – Fake Out
      Ludicolo's 148 Special Attack EVs with a Modest Nature allows it to OHKO 4 HP Garchomp 100% of the time with Ice Beam, but now we're going to turn this Ludicolo's popularity back at itself!
      It’s important to remember that this is Ludicolo’s popularity at the time this article was written. Perhaps at the time you’re reading this, nobody is using Ludicolo, or absolutely everybody is using it to counter a popular threat. I strongly recommend using recent, popular EV spreads from well-recognized or well-placing trainers in your damage calculations if you want to calculate against EV spreads you think will be reused in future tournaments.
      Just like with Sylveon, we use the Sitrus Berry trick to know our Rotom-W has 196 HP. And just like before, we want Ludicolo's Giga Drain to do 97 damage. After playing around with the numbers, 252 HP / 84 Special Defense with a Calm Nature seems to accomplish this goal using the minimum amount of EVs. While this is less EVs than before, though, it still seems that we're 24 EVs over the 508 limit. Let's try using 60 Special Defense EVs and see how much damage Rotom-W takes.
      The maximum damage Ludicolo can do to us with Giga Drain is 98. However, it can’t do 97 damage at all, and the rest of Ludicolo’s damage rolls wouldn’t deal enough damage to 2HKO Rotom-W. It would be unlikely to do 98 damage twice in a row. Since there are 16 damage rolls, to hit the same one twice would be 1/16*1/16 odds, or 1/256. That gives Rotom-W a 99.609375% chance to survive two Giga Drains. While it's not 100%, I'm pretty comfortable with those odds. Now all that's left to do is place the remaining 4 EVs into Defense, and we're finally done.
      252 HP / 4 Defense / 60 Special Attack / 60 Special Defense / 132 Speed, Calm Nature
      Outspeeds Adamant Bisharp OHKOes 4 HP Landorus-Therian with Hydro Pump Survives two Giga Drains from Bopper's Ludicolo when including Sitrus Berry recovery Level 50 Stats
      IVs/2 + EVs/8 should equal a whole number
      Remember how I mentioned at the beginning of the article about level 50 Pokémon doing a bit more damage than level 100 Pokémon? There's another difference between the two. If you check out other EV spread guides like Smogon's or Serebii's that talk about EV training Pokémon at level 100, you'll read that your EVs need to be evenly divisible by 4 to be efficient.
      We can use the same concept here with level 50 Pokémon. We'll say it has 31 HP IVs. Rather than explain the entire stat formula and why exactly the numbers are the way they are, we can use the IVs/2 + EVs/8 trick and get all the information we need.

      Plug in our numbers:



      Great, that's nice and even, just like we want it to be. Let's try taking out 4 EVs like before.

      Plug in our numbers:



      Round down the remaining decimal, adjust the EV investment.
      Plug in our numbers:



      We reached the same stat, but we saved 4 extra EVs.
      Here are some tips on how to save time with EV spreads:
      Play around with your EVs in Pokémon Showdown's teambuilder. Guess-and-check is a perfectly viable method to use for this; just make sure your level is 50, and then play around with your EVs until you have the same stat points as before while using less EVs. Remember that because most IVs are going to be 31, your EVs when divided by 8 just need to have a decimal of 0.5 following them. If you follow this method, you'll probably memorize the numbers you want to remember on your own. Alternatively, here's a list of every amount of EVs that works efficiently with 31 (odd-numbered) IVs: 4, 12, 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 76, 84, 92, 100, 108, 116, 124, 132, 140, 148, 156, 164, 172, 180, 188, 196, 204, 212, 220, 228, 236, 244, 252
      When Your IVs Aren't 31
      With all this though, we've been assuming we live in a perfect world where all our IVs are 31. Though that is ideal, maybe you were in a rush to soft reset for Terrakion and settled for IVs of 31 HP / 24 Attack / 7 Defense / 12 Special Attack / 31 Special Defense / 31 Speed. Or maybe you have to use 30 IVs in some stats for a specific Hidden Power Type, like Sylveon with Hidden Power Ground or Thundurus with Hidden Power Ice. In these kinds of situations, we can still use our formula to help us out.
      Let's say I was planning to give that Terrakion I caught a basic 252 Attack / 252 Speed / 4 HP EV spread. Because I haven't changed the role Terrakion plays on my team, we still want to max out Speed and Attack. However, if you'll notice, Terrakion has a 24 IV in Attack. Let's see what happens if we invest 252 EVs in that stat:

      Plug in our numbers:



      We want our EVs when divided by 8 to equal a whole number, instead of leaving behind a decimal of 0.5. In this case, 248 EVs should do the trick.
      Plug in our numbers:



      Now, we can place our leftover 4 EVs in either Defense or Special Defense to make those leftover EVs more useful. Just like before, instead of hand-calculating your EV numbers every time, you can play around with the numbers in Showdown or look at this list of every amount of EVs that works with 30 (even-numbered) IVs:
      8, 16, 24, 32, 40, 48, 56, 64, 72, 80, 88, 96, 104, 112, 120, 128, 136, 144, 152, 160, 168, 176, 184, 192, 200, 208, 216, 224, 232, 240, 248
      Remember, this trick isn't a substitute for getting Pokémon with flawless IVs. With 248 Attack EVs, 24 IVs, and a Jolly Nature, Terrakion's Attack stat is 177, 4 less than it would have with a 31 IV in Attack (181).
      Example:
      Let's say my friend Xavier Liao (finally) just made himself an amazing EV spread for Heatran and wanted to show it off to see what I thought of it. He was a lucky man and managed to soft reset for a Heatran with 31 IVs in everything but Attack and with a Modest Nature. finally says his EV spread of 252 HP / 32 Special Attack / 16 Special Defense / 208 Speed outspeeds Adamant Bisharp, survives 4 Sp. Atk EV Rotom-W's Hydro Pump with enough HP to use Substitute afterwards, and has the rest in Special Attack for more firepower. Let's see if we can get any more stat points out of finally's EV spread.
      Since all of finally's IVs were 31, we can look at our first list.
      4, 12, 20, 28, 36, 44, 52, 60, 68, 76, 84, 92, 100, 108, 116, 124, 132, 140, 148, 156, 164, 172, 180, 188, 196, 204, 212, 220, 228, 236, 244, 252
      32, 16, and 208 are all not on this list. To fix this, we'll use the number immediately below finally's number on the list. In this case, 28, 12, and 204 are the numbers we want.
      252 HP / 28 Special Attack / 12 Special Defense / 204 Speed Since we took out 4 EVs from three stats, we now have 12 EVs to put somewhere else. In finally's case, he didn't have any specific goals with Special Attack other than additional firepower, so we can put 8 EVs there. Now we have 4 EVs left.
      252 HP / 36 Special Attack / 12 Special Defense / 204 Speed Since those 4 EVs would be wasted in any of the stats that already have EVs in them, we have two choices remaining: Attack or Defense. finally is only using special moves on his Heatran, so putting the extra 4 EVs into Attack would be pointless. We'll put the extra 4 into Defense.
      252 HP / 4 Defense / 36 Special Attack / 12 Special Defense / 204 Speed, Modest Overall, we managed to get +1 Defense point and +1 Special Attack point. It might not seem like much, but now we have two extra stat points that you didn't have before.
      Choosing a Nature
      We've been talking a lot about EVs, but what about Natures? Don't worry, those are super important too. Mathematically speaking, the Nature of your Pokémon multiplies one stat by 1.1 (110%) and multiplies another stat by 0.9 (90%). For example, the Adamant Nature increases your Attack stat by 1.1, but decreases your Special Attack stat by 0.9. This makes it ideal for Pokémon like Landorus-Therian, Bisharp, or Azumarill, who won't use their Special Attack stat and appreciate a boost to their already high Attack stats. There's a Nature that increases and decreases every stat except for HP, and you can check out a full list of them on Bulbapedia.
      Choosing a Nature is just like choosing anything else for a Pokémon – what am I trying to do with this Pokémon, and how can my Nature help accomplish that Pokémon's goals? Here's a few examples:

      My Mega Kangaskhan has Ice Punch, and I want to take Landorus-Therian by surprise who think they'll be able to survive a Double-Edge after Intimidate. Since I can't outspeed Choice Scarf Landorus-T no matter what I do, I'll settle for outspeeding a Jolly Landorus-T. After looking at the VGC '15 Speed tiers, I know Adamant Mega Kangaskhan only reaches a 152 Speed stat, but Jolly Landorus-T reaches a 157 Speed stat. Because of this, we choose the Jolly Nature, which increases Speed but lowers Special Attack. Our Mega Kangaskhan only has physical moves, so it doesn't mind a drop in Special Attack.

      I plan on getting my Mega Camerupt in under Trick Room and dealing as much damage as possible as quickly as I can. In this case, I choose the Quiet Nature. This is actually rather clever. Since we're using Trick Room, where the slowest Pokémon moves first, the lowering of Speed actually makes Mega Camerupt faster. The Quiet Nature has also boosted Mega Camerupt's Special Attack as well, and now its Heat Wave is even more dangerous. This trick doesn't just work on Mega Camerupt, though. Cresselia, Conkeldurr, Mega Mawile, Amoonguss, and others enjoy the drop in Speed that Natures like Brave and Sassy provide if you plan on bringing them in under Trick Room.

      I'm using an Infernape with a Focus Sash, and I decided I don't want to use Flare Blitz on it. After all, any time I use Flare Blitz, I take recoil damage, making my Focus Sash useless. Instead of using Iron Fist with Fire Punch though, I notice that even with no Special Attack EVs, Overheat does more damage to Mega Mawile than Fire Punch. In fact, Fire Punch can't get an OHKO while Overheat can! Since I still want the physical move Close Combat to OHKO Mega Kangaskhan and Tyranitar, I'll choose a Nature that doesn't lower either Attack or Special Attack. I also want a Nature that raises Speed to be able to outspeed Jolly Mega Kangaskhan, so Infernape can smash it with Close Combat. This leaves us with two choices: Hasty, which raises Speed but lowers Defense, or Naive, which raises Speed but lowers Special Defense. We're holding a Focus Sash on Infernape, so we survive any attack that would knock it out in one hit. To figure out which Nature to use, look at your team and determine what physical or special attacks might come Infernape's way, especially attacks that Infernape resists type-wise. Then, experiment with and without Hasty / Naive against those attacks in the damage calculator, and see if adding the Nature makes a 2HKO more likely to occur than a 3HKO.
      Boosting the Highest Base Stat
      Usually with Natures, you're going to want to boost your highest base stat. This makes sense mathematically, because 110% of a bigger number will be larger than 110% of a smaller number. However, while you might get more stat points overall by doing this, sometimes it's better to use a different Nature. How do you know when?
      Your Pokémon can't hit a certain Speed stat without using a Speed-raising Nature. Your Pokémon can't hit a particular defensive or offensive stat without a boosting Nature. These two points might sound the same, but the first exception shows up a lot more often than the second. After all, we used Speed-boosting Natures in two of the examples above. Knowing how fast and slow your Pokémon are is incredibly important knowledge to have during battle.
      Example:
      finally is back with an EV spread for his Choice Scarf Landorus-Therian. With an EV spread of 124 HP / 252 Attack / 132 Speed and a Jolly Nature, Landorus-T outspeeds max Speed Choice Scarf Smeargle, which means it also outspeeds Timid Mega Manectric. finally then placed 252 EVs in Attack to deal as much damage as possible, and had enough EVs left for HP to survive some random non-STAB Ice Beam and Hidden Power Ice thrown its way.
      However, finally forgot that Landorus-T's base Attack is much higher than its base Speed. Don't be fooled just because his Landorus-T is holding a Choice Scarf and is super fast – it doesn't need a Jolly Nature here.
      The quickest way to see if you can get more stat points by switching your Nature is by writing down how many EVs it takes to reach your desired stat points with both Natures. finally's Landorus-T has a 197 Attack stat and a 140 Speed stat (Smeargle reaches a 139 Speed stat, so if both are holding Choice Scarves, Landorus-T would be faster). Let's see how many EVs it takes to reach those stats with both a Jolly and an Adamant Nature.
      Jolly Nature: 252 Attack EVs, 132 Speed EVs. Total EVs: 384 EVs Adamant Nature: 116 Attack EVs, 228 Speed EVs. Total EVs: 344 EVs Switching to an Adamant Nature not only gave Landorus-T the same stat points as before, but there's now 40 extra EVs to place somewhere else. It also just so happens that putting the rest of the EVs in HP allows you to survive a Rotom-W's 0 Sp. Atk EV Hydro Pump 15/16 of the time. Our final EV spread is this:
      164 HP / 116 Attack / 228 Speed, Adamant Nature
      Overall, we managed to get +5 HP and +1 Attack, but we could have placed those extra 5 stat points anywhere we wanted. Switching Natures is often times the best way to get extra stat points.
      Conclusion
      This is the core of creating every specialized EV spread possible, and I hope you'll be able to create some of your own specialized EV spreads to get an advantage in battle. However, this isn't everything. Keep your eyes peeled for part three, where you can find a ton of specific tricks and shortcuts to really squeeze out every stat point from the EV spreads you create.
      I'd like to give special shoutouts to some fantastic people who helped with the creation of parts one and two of this series.
      Ansel Blume (Stats). After we first started talking post-Worlds 2013, we made so many personal advancements with EV spread creation that it was crazy. For this series in particular, Stats put up with me bombarding him with example ideas and offered some fantastic examples himself. Cory. Unique to this list because I can actually go over to his house if I want help with something, Cory was extremely instrumental in teaching me how to use video and audio editing programs for the YouTube video. Without his help, I probably would have been done with the video in about March. He's more of an overall gamer than a Pokémon nerd like myself, so if you'd like to watch some good Let's Plays or check out his skills on Guitar Hero, check out his YouTube channel. Ashley Haramaki (Cometkins), for creating the stunning article artwork. I continue to be impressed by the amazing work she can create. Tommy Yee (tlyee61), for reminding me to mention gamut's damage calculator and helping develop the series' name. Xavier Liao (finally), for giving me permission to use him as an example in the article.
    • AchiEVing Perfection: Creating Specialized EV Spreads, Part One
      By DaWoblefet
      If you've just started to battle competitively, then you might have seen players talking about these weird things called EVs. Perhaps you noticed them in Pokémon Showdown's teambuilder. Luckily, Nugget Bridge already has basic guides about EVs: this one explains what they are, while this one explains how to get them in-game. This article is different from those two, though: here, I'll discuss how to use EVs to give you an advantage in battle.
      Introduction to Stat Points
      Effort values (EVs), individual values (IVs), and the nature of a Pokémon all contribute towards a Pokémon's stat points. Do you remember that time when your Pokémon barely hung on during a battle, or when you let out a huge sigh of relief after barely knocking out an opposing Pokémon? To make these advantageous situations more common, players want their Pokemon to have as many stat points as possible. This is part of the reason why Pokémon like Cresselia, Landorus-Therian, and Mega Evolutions are so inherently powerful—they have naturally high overall stats, known as base stats. Though you might see the term "base stats" used in-game, especially during Super Training, don't be fooled—those are actually EVs. Back in Generation III when EVs were first introduced, there was no in-game text to tell exactly what EV-affecting items such as Macho Brace or Protein were for—their item texts were "promotes growth" and "raises the Attack stat". Due to this, the term "effort values" was created. When the term "base stats" is used, it refers to the natural potential of any particular Pokémon: the stats a Pokémon has due to its species, essentially a species-specific starting point. If you'd like to check out a list of base stats, Bulbapedia has a nice list of every fully evolved (and Mega Evolved) Pokémon's base stats.
      Choosing an EV Spread
      Let's say I have a Landorus-Therian, and I want it to do as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible. I could give Landorus-T a very basic EV spread of 4 HP / 252 Attack / 252 Speed. A Pokémon can have a maximum of 252 EVs in any one stat, and can only have 508 EVs total, so I simply maximize its Attack and Speed while placing the leftover EVs in HP. This is a perfectly viable way to make EV spreads; just maximize two stats, and you've got a Pokémon that's especially strong in two stats.
      However, this approach doesn't always work; take a look at Cresselia, a popular bulky Pokémon. I could give Cresselia an EV spread of 252 HP / 252 Defense / 4 Special Defense, and it would handle physical attacks such as Mega Kangaskhan's Double-Edge and Bisharp's Knock Off pretty well. But if I do so, special attacks such as Aegislash's Shadow Ball and Hydreigon's Dark Pulse will deal heavy damage to Cresselia, so perhaps maximizing Special Defense instead of Defense is the way to go. This Cresselia also carries Psyshock and Ice Beam, and maximizing Special Attack would allow it to possibly pick up important KOs. What spread should I choose?
      Remember, Pokémon aren't forced to maximize two stats! For example, I could easily give Cresselia a spread of 252 HP / 100 Defense / 156 Special Attack—all 508 EVs are still being used. However, these seem like arbitrary numbers; who knows what they do? Why not just take 508, divide it by 6, and place 84 EVs in every stat? Shouldn't that make a Pokémon's stats balanced? Well, doing so is possible, but is typically unoptimal. When damage calculators and teambuilders exist, there isn't any reason to randomly distribute EVs. This process can be done very precisely; players can invest exactly the necessary amount of EVs to accomplish a goal, and then spend the savings elsewhere. It isn't just for Cresselia, either—any Pokémon can be specifically trained to accomplish multiple goals with just a single EV spread.
      Why Bother?
      It may seem as if complex EV spreads aren't worth the time needed to develop them. The gains are often small—sometimes only a couple of stat points. As such, new players often believe that the ability to create solid EV spreads is relatively useless. However, this is simply not true; games are won and lost on single points of health. By maximizing returns from EVs, these situations can be beneficial more often.
      Don't get me wrong. Learning how to make predictions, manage odds to minimize bad luck, create win conditions, form a game plan at Team Preview, teambuild, and most importantly practice are all important skills that successful players have. Creating EV spreads falls under the teambuilding category, and it certainly doesn't encompass its entirety. Even if a player learns every advanced strategy, the ability to apply those skills in battle is what truly matter. Pokémon battles are won by the player who picks up four KOs, not the player with the fanciest EV spread. It's telling that Sejun Park, the most recent World Champion, has used simple 252/252 spreads on many of his Pokémon. As can be seen from his team report, he chose these spreads because they fulfilled his goals perfectly. However, ignoring the benefits of using complex EV spreads is just as silly as solely focusing on them. There is a balance, but it is different for every player.
      With that being said, why not just copy an EV spread from a top player? You can, of course, but consider this: when top players create EV spreads, they have specific goals in mind for that Pokémon which are typically team-specific. Let's take a look at two Hydreigon: one from 2014 US National Champion Alex Ogloza's (Evan Falco) winning team, and one from Worlds 9th place finisher and LCQ qualifier Wolfe Glick's (Wolfey) team.

      Hydreigon @ Choice Specs
      Ability: Levitate
      EVs: 84 HP / 12 Def / 236 SAtk / 4 SDef / 172 Spd
      Nature: Modest
      – Dark Pulse
      – Draco Meteor
      – Flamethrower
      – Earth Power
      Alex's Choice Specs Hydreigon dealt tons of damage to Pokémon such as Aegislash, Kangaskhan, and Rotom formes, sometimes even being able to OHKO them. At the time, Hydreigon's arch-nemesis was Garchomp, but Alex's team carried two Pokémon that could OHKO Garchomp with Ice Beam before it could move: Choice Scarf Politoed and Swift Swim Ludicolo. This meant that Alex's Hydreigon could afford to invest heavily into Special Attack.

      Hydreigon @ Life Orb
      Ability: Levitate
      EVs: 12 HP / 108 Def / 132 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
      Timid Nature
      - Flamethrower
      - Dark Pulse
      - Draco Meteor
      - Protect
      But wait! Wolfe used a very similar team to Alex; he also had Politoed and Ludicolo. So why did he decide to use maximum Speed instead? Here's his reasoning:
      I decided to use Timid with maximum Speed to beat other Hydreigon. If I ran into an opposing Scarf Hydreigon that KOed my Hydreigon with Draco Meteor, odds were that they would be stuck at lower and lower Special Attack due to Gothitelle's Shadow Tag, so it could essentially be considered a positive trade even if my Hydreigon was KOed. For this reason, Hydreigon+Gothitelle was a decent lead when I expected my opponent to lead Hydreigon, as few things could OHKO Goth and I would be able to take a quick Pokémon lead.
      Wolfe's Hydreigon allowed him to efficiently remove opposing Hydreigon from the game, since they were a major threat to his Gothitelle. This spread also does other cool stuff, such as allowing Hydreigon to OHKO every Rotom with Dark Pulse and Draco Meteor, as well as letting Hydreigon withstand a Dragon Claw from Garchomp and Life Orb recoil. Wolfe chose this EV spread because he recognized a weakness (opposing Choice Specs Hydreigon) and adjusted his own Hydreigon's spread to help manage that weakness. Although concepts and ideas from historical EV spreads can be beneficial, it remains important to tailor each Pokémon's EV spread to its surrounding team and metagame. There isn't a singular "best EV spread" for any Pokémon.
      Creating Your Own Goals
      You too can do what Alex and Wolfe did! Consider the role of each Pokémon on your team, and then consider how you can create an EV spread that either covers your team's weaknesses or supplements its strengths. Typically, there are three ways to accomplish this via EVs:
      Surviving an opposing Pokémon's attack, or a common combination of attacks Outspeeding a specific Pokémon (or outslowing for Trick Room) Picking up specific KOs on opposing Pokémon. You don't have to make goals as soon as you build the team. It's definitely alright to practice with 252/252 spreads, then create goals as you discover the team's weaknesses. In fact, it's encouraged! Once you understand how the team operates, you can make adjustments to your moves, items, EV spreads, and even Pokémon.
      When creating your goals, don't forget that 252/252 can be a very effective EV spread. If your goals simply involve hitting hard and hitting fast, don't hesitate to use 252/252 just because it's simple.
      Don't create too many goals for any single Pokémon to handle. Sometimes, not all goals are simultaneously accomplishable; additionally, having too many defensive goals can kill offensive potential. One Pokémon doesn't have to do everything on the team—that's what its teammates are for! When you set a defensive goal, make sure that goal is meaningful: that Pokémon should be able to deal significant damage to its specified opponent or provide important support, such as Trick Room.
      EVing Against the Metagame
      Choosing which goals you want your Pokémon to accomplish not only is determined by your team's strengths and weaknesses, but also by the metagame itself. If Mega Mawile is very rare, then investing enough EVs to withstand Mega Mawile's Play Rough is kind of silly, isn't it?  If I think Adamant Landorus-Therian is going to be everywhere, I'll give my Hydreigon enough Speed EVs to reach 144 Speed so I can smash it with Draco Meteor before it moves. However, if I end up playing against Choice Scarf Landorus-T, the extra Speed I gave my Hydreigon becomes meaningless and could have been better used elsewhere.
      The problem with EVing against the metagame is simple: it's impossible to know what the opposing Pokémon are until the battle starts. This is especially true with the Speed stat, because a difference of a single point means just as much as dozens. "Speed creeping" is a term some players use for this phenomenon, in which players attempt to have their Pokémon outspeed opposition by a single point of Speed. In VGC 2014, this occured to Rotom. The season started out with Rotom commonly investing only 4 Speed EVs. As it progressed, players began to attempt to win the tie with 12 Speed EVs. As that became common, players bumped up to 20, then 28, then 36, and on and on until the tradeoffs became too big. Speed creeping players sometimes found their Rotom with 36 Speed EVs outspeeding an opposing Rotom with only 4 Speed EVs! As such, top players began to avoid Speed creeping entirely; Markus Stadter (13Yoshi37) gave his reasoning as such in his Worlds team report:
      Let's take a look at Speed: with Speed, it is dichotomous: your Pokémon is either slower or faster than the opponent's. As such, there is much more potential for wasting EVs in Speed because of the fact that there are only two steps. There is no damage roll. Let's take a second and compare my Nationals spread to the “standard” 252/252 Jolly Kangaskhan:
      Mine: 207 HP, 181 Atk, 121 Def, 133 SpDef, 125 Speed
      Standard: 181 HP, 177 Atk, 120 Def, 120 SpDef, 167 Speed
      So that means that my Kangaskhan had +26 HP, +4 Atk, +1 Def, +13 SpDef at the cost of -42 Speed. Now what this means is that my Kangaskhan had 44 total stat points more than other Kangaskhan at the cost of going second to some Pokémon. Now if you take a look at common Speeds [from the VGC ‘14 metagame] and common EV spreads, I am sure you will realize that there is not all too much in between 125 and 167 Speed that is worth outspeeding, except for Pokémon such as Smeargle, bulky Charizard-Y and other bulky Kangaskhan. The latter two could also be 167 Speed should they decide to run maximum Speed, so you couldn't be sure whether your Kangakskhan would outspeed or speed tie even with maximum Speed. And my team had plenty of ways to deal with Smeargle, so I saw no need to outspeed it.
      Since Markus felt that he had answers to threats between 125 and 167 Speed, he saw no reason to heavily invest in Speed when the EVs could be used elsewhere.
      However, Worlds is a much different event compared to Premier Challenges and Regionals. There are new and inexperienced players using strange gimmicks and a variety of strategies. Due to this, players will often use safe and bulky EV spreads or fast and aggressive ones; these are generally good against a wide range of opponents. Even so, the metagame must be taken into consideration. For example, the likelihood of encountering special Tauros is negligible and Defiant Tornadus isn't legal, so preparing for those threats is rather silly. These are both extreme examples, of course, but there are plenty of more common adaptations that can only be picked up through practice. Perhaps using 20 Speed EVs is a good idea on Rotom, or perhaps it isn’t. It all depends on what other players are using.
      Keep in mind that this concept is good for teambuilding as well. EV spreads aren't the only way to adapt to the metagame—Pokémon themselves work too. Don't know what's popular? Check out the Reports section on Nugget Bridge for EV spreads used by top players, and keep an eye out on the forums for discussion of EVs. The Global Link usage statistics are also helpful in figuring out what's being used right now.
      Conclusion
      Where's the how-to, you might ask? Well, this article is mainly the "what" and "why" of EV spreads—look out for part two, where the "how" will be discussed. There, you'll learn how to use a damage calculator as well as the basics of getting the most out of your EVs.
      Article art created by Cometkins for Nugget Bridge. View more of her artwork on her Nugget Bridge forums thread.
    • EV Training Horde Hotspots in Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
      By Gonzo
      The release of Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire is just around the corner so I'd like to introduce you to the EV training hotspots in the new games! Don't know what that means? Check out our previous guide.
      Below are the Pokémon's locations, levels, encounter rate and method of encounter. Also provided is the EV gain from each battle as well as calculations for modifiers so you'll know exactly how many EVs you'll get. For now, the guide consists of hordes only and will be updated once the full games are released. The data we have does not provide the names of locations, so these are (hopefully) correct guesses. If not, they'll be updated when ORAS is out.
      1. Changes & Basic Information
      Changes from 5th Gen

      The maximum amount of EVs in a single stat prior to XY was 255. In the 6th generation of games, it was reduced to 252, so now you don't have to worry about going over when maxing out a single stat.
      Horde encounters are the fastest way to EV train your Pokémon. Use Sweet Scent in an area to trigger a horde encounter.

      Modifying EV Gain

      Pokérus - doubles EVs gained, can be combined with Macho Brace and Power Items
      Macho Brace - doubles EVs gained, halves the holder's Speed, can be combined with Pokérus
      Power Items - give 4 additional EV points to the corresponding stat, halves holder's Speed, can be combined with Pokérus

      Calculations for EVs per Pokémon
      Don't forget to multiply by 5 for horde encounters!
      Base 3 points:

      Pokérus / Macho Brace: 6 EVs
      Pokérus + Macho Brace: 12 EVs
      Pokérus + Power Item: 14 EVs

      Base 2 points:

      Pokérus / Macho Brace: 4 EVs
      Pokérus + Macho Brace: 8 EVs
      Pokérus + Power Item: 12 EVs

      Base 1 point:

      Pokérus / Macho Brace: 2 EVs
      Pokérus + Macho Brace: 4 EVs
      Pokérus + Power Item: 10 EVs

      2. Hordes
      It seems Game Freak has understood our frustrations with running into the wrong Pokémon while training and given us at least one location with a 100% encounter rate for each stat. We've listed them below with alternatives in case there are hazards in the way! As always, this list will be updated as we find even more efficient ways of doing things. These are all hordes so you want to use Sweet Scent or Honey to attract them.
      HP

      Location: Rusturf Tunnel
      Encounter Rate: 100%
      Level: 5
      EVs: 1 HP each
      Attack

      Location: Mt. Pyre (cemetery area)
      Encounter Rate: 100%
      Level: 15
      EVs: 1 Atk each
      Defense

      Location: Route 111
      Encounter Rate: 100%
      Level: 11
      EVs: 1 Def each
      Note that Sweet Scent and Honey actually work in Sandstorm unlike in previous games!
      Special Attack

      Location: Route 119
      Encounter Rate: 100%
      Level: 13
      EVs: 1 SpA each

      Location: Route 113
      Encounter Rate: 95%
      Level: 9
      EVs: 1 SpA each
      Special Defence

      Location: Route 115
      Encounter Rate: 100%
      Level: 10
      EVs: 1 SpD each
      Speed
      or 
      Location: Route 104 (North - Wingull, South - Taillow)
      Encounter Rate: 100% combined
      Level: 2
      EVs: 1 Spe each
      Note: the route is divided into two parts by Petalburg Woods. Southern part of the route has Taillow hordes, Northern has Wingull hordes.
      As soon as the full games are released, we'll expand the guide with more methods. Thanks to Project Pokémon for providing us the data to create this guide with and good luck with your EV training!
       
    • For Whom the 'Bel Tolls! A 10th Place UK Nationals Report
      By Ty Flowsion
      Hello Nugget Bridge! My name is Terence Dray, and unless you met me in Manchester then you will have no idea who I am! I'm a long-time lurker, practically zero-time poster here on the site. I finished in 10th place at the UK Nationals, and I'm proud to have the opportunity to write this (long overdue) report on the team that got me there. With so many great reports being born from the event, I'll try to make this one as entertaining and insightful as the rest. Before I kick this off I will add a short disclaimer: I do not consider myself to be particularly great at creating EV spreads, so some could possibly be improved upon. Also, being that this was my first competitive tournament and I didn't expect to get so far, my notes don't tell me much at all beyond which Pokémon my opponents chose, so I apologise if I haven't recounted the battles too well. On to the team!
      Team Facts

      The team was roughly 4 months in the making before it reached its final state.
      In terms of damage-dealing moves, my team covers just 8 of the 19 Pokémon types (theoretically it covers 9 if you count the possibility of dropping a rain-influenced Weather Ball).
      The philosophy of the team is to bait out would-be counters and grab almost unpredictable KO's, manipulate the field to better strengthen my team's position while hindering my opponents, and all the while hit very hard.

      Team Preview

      Team Analysis
      ->
      Charizard (M) @ Charizardite Y
      Ability: Blaze -> Drought
      Modest Nature
      EVs: 212 HP / 4 Def / 252 Sp Atk / 4 Sp Def / 36 Spd
      - Protect
      - Hidden Power Ice
      - Solar Beam
      - Heat Wave
      Charizard Y was my Mega Evolution of choice, delivering both powerful spread damage and the ability to take on Water-types. Though it requires some support, Drought provides it with the necessary tools to dismantle unprepared teams.
      The fastest Charizard will always be slower than Garchomp, so bulk and power was my chosen modus operandi. With this in mind I quickly realised that I could use Charizard to deal with the army of Garchomp that would undoubtedly stand before it, so some form of speed control (read: Trick Room) was in order. I was a little bit worried upon seeing Squirtwo's team report, as our teams had a lot in common and I was anxious that come Manchester, some of my opponents would be wary of me using Charizard in Trick Room. While it is a coincidence that our teams share several similarities, I did like his rationale at running 36 speed EVs to outspeed all non-scarfed Tyranitar and so re-tweaked my own Charizard's speed from a redundant 12 speed EVs. Everything else was simply there to maximise damage output and minimise damage received.
      I value Protect/Detect and try to find a spot for it when I can. Heat Wave is there for good spread damage, dishing out hits that went from debilitating to devastating once Helping Hand came into play, and nabbed easy KOs on any Manectric that hadn't come prepared for Trick Room. Solar Beam is there for mandatory coverage to dismantle would-be rain teams and any rogue Mamoswine that pop up. Hidden Power Ice is the real stand-out move of the set, easily OHKOing Garchomp and Salamence. Considering that most teams that run Garchomp would absolutely bring it to a battle, thanks to Wide Guard/Trick Room support my Charizard has KO'd innumerable Garchomp, probably KOing it more than it has any other Pokémon. Furthermore, the popularity of Salamence with a Choice Scarf also made it an easy target, although I always had to be wary of any rare Stone Edge variants.

      Aerodactyl (M) @ Focus Sash
      Ability: Pressure
      Jolly Nature
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
      - Protect
      - Wide Guard
      - Sunny Day
      - Rock Slide
      I couldn't solely rely on Trick Room for Charizard to defeat Garchomp, and it was Darkeness's St. Louis team report that provided me with what in retrospect seemed to be the glaringly obvious alternative: Wide Guard Aerodactyl. Maximum Speed investment was non-negotiable to at least speed-tie with opposing Aerodactyl, and the Focus Sash provided me with some pseudo-bulk, so max Attack also seemed obvious to allow easy KOs on opposing Charizard and Talonflame. I didn't bring Aerodactyl as much as I normally would have at the National tournament as I felt that maybe my opponents would wise up to Wide Guard alongside Charizard, but it was the difference when I did need it.
      The choice of moves don't need much explanation. Again Protect is self-explanatory. As I've mentioned already, Wide Guard is there primarily to stop opposing Rock Slides from wrecking both Aerodactyl and Charizard. Rock Slide is, well, Rock Slide; good typing, STAB, a spread move and capable of flinching. Sunny Day took up the final slot because I believe that all weather teams should have some form of manual weather.

      Reuniclus (M) @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Overcoat
      Relaxed Nature
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 Sp Atk
      - Trick Room
      - Helping Hand
      - Skill Swap
      - Psychic
      Trick Room support? Check. Skill Swap? Got it. Opinion on mushrooms? Thinks they're delicious.
      It's difficult to overstate the importance of Reuniclus to this team. I once described it to my girlfriend as the conductor in front of a symphonic orchestra, which sounds ridiculous since I've never seen Valery Gergiev OHKO'd by a Choice Specs boosted Hydro Pump. That one hiccup aside (we'll get to that later), it was this Pokémon's job to manipulate the field and maintain the most advantageous circumstances for the rest of the team.
      Its EVs maximise its incredible bulk. With 110/75/85 as its base defensive stats, maximum HP investment guaranteed surviving a Shadow Ball from max Special Attack, Modest Aegislash. Knowing this, I invested purely in Defense to minimise the damage taken in this heavily-physical metagame. Factor in Intimidate support and Reuniclus has some real staying power, perfect considering I need it on the field for as long as possible.
      Trick Room is self-explanatory, and was needed to help support three other members of the team as well as allowing Reuniclus to more often than not move first each turn and therefore for Skill Swap to work to its full potential. In a metagame where many Pokémons strengths lie in their abilities (sometimes quite literally), Skill Swap undoubtedly has more of an influence this generation than in the past. And believe me, simultaneously crippling Mega Kangaskhan/Mega Mawile and using their abilities against them is extremely satisfying. Along with the Wolfe Glick-inspired Intimidate shuffling, Skill Swap allowed both Reuniclus and Scrafty to abuse the power of Parental Bond.
      Helping Hand was here to maximise damage. As I mentioned above, my teams attacking options spanned just 8 of the possible 19 types, and as such there were occasions where I couldn't hit things super-effectively, or I could but the attack would not receive STAB. Helping Hand made up for this, taking my teams high-powered moves and allowing them to grab those KOs that would not be possible otherwise. To give an idea of the power it packs, a Helping Hand-assisted Heat Wave from maximum Special Attack Modest Mega Charizard Y has a 75% chance to OHKO 4HP Mega Kangaskhan with the sun up. However, this was not the calculation that originally convinced me to run Helping Hand, but we'll get to that soon.
      I chose Psychic in the last slot for several reasons:

      Strong STAB coming off of a base 125 Special Attack stat, allowing Reuniclus to 2HKO Amoonguss should it be my opponent's preferred method of countering Trick Room. Along with the Overcoat ability blocking Spore and Rage Powder, Reuniclus could easily deal with the annoying mushroom, or ignore it altogether.
      In case I couldn't block an incoming Taunt I didn't want to be forced to switch out. Similarly, if Helping Hand or Skill Swap were not optimal plays, then I could always go for extra, fast damage under Trick Room.
      In my opinion, no support Pokémon should be without an attacking move. There's no greater support than being able to KO a threat.

      I went with Sitrus Berry to keep Reuniclus on the field for even longer. I did consider going with Mental Herb but the berry proved to be more useful more often. I was wary of Taunt with this team, and if I suspected it in team preview then I would either go fast and leave Reuniclus out/in the back or I would try to prevent it with Fake Out.

      Conkeldurr (M) @ Flame Orb
      Ability: Guts
      Brave Nature
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Sp Def
      - Detect
      - Mach Punch
      - Rock Tomb
      - Drain Punch
      Next, I needed a Pokémon that could deal with any Kangaskhan-Smeargle leads that I crossed paths with, but I soon found that Conkeldurr's utility went far beyond just countering that particular match-up. Boasting some real bulk with 105/95/65 across the base defensive stats, maximum HP investment allowed Conkeldurr to survive a Choice Band Brave Bird from Adamant Talonflame at -1 attack. I went for maximum damage output since base 140 attack translates to big damage against opponents that do not resist the hit, making Conkeldurr one of those Pokémon that had many of its 2HKOs upgraded to OHKOs thanks to some assistance from Reuniclus.
      Detect is mandatory for Guts Conkeldurr, allowing the burn to safely take effect should my opponent be threatening with sleep or paralysis. I originally ran Earthquake over Mach Punch to allow Conkeldurr to take on Aegislash, Mega Gengar and Chandelure, but since the team already had several ways to deal with each I concluded that Mach Punch was the way to go, giving me strong priority and some better use outside of Trick Room. Although Conkeldurr would rather not take on Mega Kangaskhan outside of the twisted dimensions, it was the following calculation that gave me solace that Helping Hand and Mach Punch were indeed crucial to the team.
      252+ Atk Guts Conkeldurr Helping Hand Mach Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 180-212 (99.4% - 117.1%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO
      The next move was a toss-up between Drain Punch and Hammer Arm. Hammer Arm provided pure power at the cost of healing and 90% accuracy, while Drain Punch still packed a, well, punch and allowed Conkeldurr to heal off its burn damage. Such was the strength of Drain Punch with a Helping Hand boost that the games frailer Pokémon simply could not take the hit, OHKOing the likes of Kingdra, non-bulky Rotom formes, and a 68.8% chance to OHKO the respectably bulky standard 4HP Garchomp. With 3 Speed IVs (I didn't have time to breed for 0 and 3 was good enough) Conkeldurr could underspeed even the slowest Mega Mawile and deal 87.8-103.8%, snatching a crucial KO after prior damage from Reuniclus' Psychic.
      Last but not least was Rock Tomb. Quite simply, I needed a Rock-type move to deal with Charizard/Talonflame/anything with wings in Trick Room. Stone Edge was overkill and has horrible accuracy. Rock Slide's shaky accuracy also had me shaky whenever I needed it to hit. Smack Down, at base 50 power, seemed underwhelming and I had no way of abusing it with Ground-type moves, and so Rock Tomb was my best option. Base 60 power means that it hits harder than Rock Slide after factoring in the damage drop for multi-target moves, and 95% Accuracy was not quite what I wanted but it was pretty darn close. The Speed drop comes in handy should I find myself in the peculiar situation of having both Conkeldurr and Charizard on the field outside of Trick Room with a Garchomp staring them down. In the months of testing I came across this scenario once, against an opponent who was ranked #1 in Australia on the VGC battlespot ladder when it was still around, and Rock Tomb came up clutch and won me the match. Rock Tomb also allowed Conkeldurr to threaten Chandelure and for the most part at least do something to Ghost-types, although it goes without saying that whenever I saw an Aegislash, Gengar, Trevenant or Gourgeist on the opposing team I didn't immediately start massaging Conkeldurr's shoulders and discuss tactics with it.

      Scrafty (F) @ Lum Berry
      Ability: Intimidate
      Brave Nature
      EVs: 252 HP / 174 Atk / 12 Def / 76 Sp Def
      - Fake Out
      - Quick Guard
      - Drain Punch
      - Crunch
      But I did look to Scrafty for some of my ghost-busting needs. One of my favourite Pokémon, I went through 3 or 4 iterations of Scrafty before finally settling on this one.
      With 3 team members that are weak to Flying-type moves and a single, frail resist in Aerodactyl, I knew my opponents would more often than not bring Talonflame to the party. Scrafty gave me both Intimidate and vital Quick Guard support, baiting Talonflame out and allowing Conkeldurr to OHKO or Charizard/Reuniclus to hit it for heavy damage. As long as I played Scrafty carefully, Talonflame would not remain on the field for very long.
      The HP and Defense EVs allowed Scrafty to survive an Adamant Choice Band Talonflame's Brave Bird should I have no option but to switch it in, a calculation which generally sat me in good stead against the physical hitters that could only hit Scrafty for neutral damage. I can't remember what the Special Defense EVs were for, but Aegislash's Flash Cannon is a 3HKO should I be in the awkward position of relying on Scrafty to take it out. In my opinion Scrafty is one of those Pokémon that really requires some investment in attack, and so I decided to pass-up trying to survive any Dazzling Gleams coming from Gardevoir since Moonblast would be an easy OHKO anyway. While an Assault Vest would have helped in this sense, there was no compromise between it and Quick Guard. Instead, I ran Lum Berry to shake off a burn and to give me the option of switching in on Dark Void.
      Fake Out was there to stop an incoming attack if I needed to, whether it be by way of flinching or forcing a Protect. Besides alleviating the teams Talonflame problem, Quick Guard allowed Scrafty to frustrate any Prankster Pokémon that were looking to have some fun. Drain Punch supplements Scrafty's good bulk and allows it to go head-to-head with Mega Kangaskhan when the field is more conducive to Scrafty than it is Conkeldurr. Crunch threatened Chandelure among other things, and was there for the times when I needed that little bit more damage to grab a KO.
      A solid member on most teams, I'm just glad that Sylveon doesn't get Hyper Voice outside of Gen 5 move tutors. I miss battlespot's VGC ladder...

      Victreebel (F) @ Life Orb
      Ability: Chlorophyll
      Timid Nature
      EVs: 48 HP / 4 Def / 252 Sp Atk / 4 Sp Def / 204 Spd
      - Protect
      - Encore
      - Weather Ball
      - Solar Beam
      And finally, the one you've all been waiting for...
      As with all of these niche, surprise pokemon, Victreebel offered my team something that I couldn't find elsewhere. First of all I'd like to cover the bad points, of which there are three: 80/65/70. Not the most stellar defensive stats, coupled with the fact that Aerodactyl was already holding the Focus Sash (although I did need the Life Orb in order to further increase damage coming off of its base 100 Special Attack stat) meant that Victreebel could very rarely be switched in, so it was either lead with it or bring it in after a Pokémon faints. As such, I had to choose Victreebel's battles very carefully. There was no middle ground with Victreebel; either it would be instrumental in getting me a win, or it would essentially make the battle a 4vs3 affair in my opponent's favour.
      So, why did I choose Victreebel? I wanted something that could abuse the sun and really allow me options outside of Trick Room. A Chlorophyll Pokémon seemed obvious, but I wasn't interested in Venusaur's 75% accurate Sleep Powder. In fact, I wanted something that could go up against and beat the flower-clad dinosaur. I'll be honest and say that I didn't know (and still don't) what speed investment a standard Chlorophyll Venusaur would run, but I wagered that it wouldn't be much since that would just be a waste of EVs, so I created my own benchmark in Choice Scarf Garchomp and ran with it. In testing I didn't encounter any problems, and so the speed EVs stuck. In hindsight I could have EV'd to at least outspeed max Speed Modest Venusaur, just in case. Anyway, versus the Charizard Y/Venusaur lead and partnered first with Charizard and then with Aerodactyl on the second turn, Victreebel was capable of punishing my opponent's Protects and OHKOing Venusaur in this particular match-up. I tested it more and more against a variety of other teams, and found it to be useful against a good number of opponents.
      The EV spread is essentially a 4/252/252 with unneeded speed EVs shifted into bulk. Kind of like how pencil lead adds to the structural integrity of a sheet of paper when you write on it.
      The moves are what make this Pokémon so unique. Protect was probably more important on Victreebel than it was any other Pokémon on the team given its awful defensive stats. I chose Solar Beam because if there's anything Talonflame has taught me this year, it is that base 120 STAB moves deal big damage even when coming off of a base 81 attacking stat, so one coming off of a base 100 attacking stat was good enough for me and, furthermore, I didn't like the Special Attack drop and 90% accuracy of Leaf Storm. Solar Beam OHKOs bulky Rotom-W and non-Assault Vest Azumarill' that would otherwise survive a Solar Beam from Charizard. The green beam also really hurts anything that doesn't resist it, including having a 50% chance of OHKOing 0HP Mega Manectric.
      Weather Ball may seem redundant alongside Charizard, but it allowed me to surprise OHKO Bisharp or Mega Mawile. For those who may not know, Weather Ball is a 50BP Normal-type move that changes typing depending on the weather (fire in this case) at which point it becomes boosted to 100BP.  With Victreebel in the back I could afford to play more aggressively with Charizard as long as I maintained a way to get the sun back up should it go down. It was also Victreebel's job to take on any of these Sucker Punch-wielding threats in the face of Charizard should the orange dragon have already taken prior damage. Encore was the icing on the cake, allowing me to punish Mega Kangaskhan's Fake Out, any Protect/Detect, and Aegislash's King's Shield/Wide Guard/Substitute since Victreebel could only 2HKO defensive stance Aegislash and I never wanted to chance activating a Weakness Policy.
      Victreebel also gave me a way to easily deal with the rare but troubling Mega Lucario, and shut down Raichu leads before they could do the same to me.
      Careful play was required and having the sun high in the sky was an absolute must, but as long as I provided the right conditions for it, Victreebel could shut down the opposition, force switches, grab KOs and go a long way to getting the team a win. And having a Grass-type capable of setting fire to Steel- and Grass-types just seemed like a good idea.
      Since I didn't record any of my battle replays from the tournament, here's a video that showcases just how effective Victreebel can be: 7UXG-WWWW-WWW8-5VFV
      Matchups
      Goodstuffs

      Quite simply, if Talonflame was involved then Scrafty had to be too. How I approached goodstuffs teams really depended on which Pokémon my opponent had, and I generally went with which Rotom forme I could be facing, if any. If it was Rotom-H then Trick Room would probably be the way to go, whereas any other appliance meant that a speedier approach could possibly be better. There was no real game plan aside from play carefully and score knockouts when possible.
      Sun Teams

      Sun teams were usually easily threatened by my team, so a lot of protecting would ensue. I could either take advantage of this with Victreebel and hammer away with Aerodactyl while the 'bel dropped its Weather Balls onto any opposing Grass-types, or I could go slow and have Reuniclus prey on any dual-type Poison Pokémon. Again, it all came down to what I thought would be the more straightforward approach.
      Rain Teams

      Rain teams required a strict game plan, but it was one that was often super-effective. Reuniclus and Charizard would be my go-to lead. My opponent would often not lead with Politoed so as not to lose rain upon Charizard's Mega Evolution, but if they did then it generally meant that their team also carried manual weather. Either way, if Politoed wasn't on the field and Kingdra or Ludicolo were, then they essentially acted like a sign post that read 'Politoed incoming to my right/left on the next turn.' So I would get the sun up, twist the dimensions, then turn two would see Drought Skill Swapped away, and Politoed would be basking under a Solar Beam. From that point, there was rarely a way back into the game if my opponent didn't have a way of restarting the downpour.
      Trick Room

      Again, this all came down to exactly which Pokémon would be hopping around on the oppositions side of the field. If Aromatisse was around, then I would be very wary of having Scrafty or Conkeldurr across from it. Reuniclus and Charizard would generally make life difficult for the opposing team, so those two at least would be coming to the battle with the other two members decided based on whether I wanted the fight to stay in Trick Room or out of it.
      Threats

      Fairy types. Mega Mawile and Azumarill were usually easily dealt with thanks to their dual typings, but any pure Fairy-type or Gardevoir can potentially cause this team huge problems. Since Gardevoir can easily OHKO three of my Pokémon with super-effective damage, if I saw it in team preview then I would hope that Charizard's Fire-typing and the threat of a Sludge Bomb from Victreebel would be enough to deter it from entering the field of play, but this was rarely successful. The team can KO Gardevoir, and as a last ditch attempt Scrafty could target its low defense stat with a HH-boosted Crunch, but it was something that I simply always had to be mindful of.
      'It's not on the field, but is it in the back? I better keep Charizard out of harms way, just to make sure.'
      Beyond here is my recollection of events at the tournament. Thank you for reading this far, and if you stopped here then I hope you enjoyed the team! As for anyone still remaining, let's hop right in.
      Day 1 - Swiss Rounds
      I got registered at about 9.10am and didn't have my first battle until about 3pm. The time in between was spent sitting around with my girlfriend and watching the Junior competitors of the TCG look like they were going through a mid-life crisis while playing (I wish Pokémon was the most stressful thing in my life). At about 2'o'clock each participant of the Masters Division was given a seat number. Me - in my infinite wisdom - believed that this would be my first battle, but I was later informed that this was just a measure to check that we were all still there or something. I still don't know exactly what that was about.
      Anyway, at this time I sat opposite a cool guy called Tom. We had a chat and he was nice enough to trade me a Moltres that my girlfriend wanted. Being super friendly AND putting me in my girlfriends good books? Top man.
      3'o'clock arrives and with it so does a succession of bad note-taking as well as the first battle against a fellow first-timer. Sorry, I didn't write anybody's surname down.
      Round 1 - Chris
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Salamence, Rotom-W
      I think I chose:
      I decide to go full Trick Room simply because I don't want to fight Salamence out of it in case of a Choice Scarf + Stone Edge. Upon seeing my opponents leads, I decide Skill Swapping Shadow Tag would be the best play since Trick Room no longer seemed like a good idea and Psychic was almost useless. Straight away Reuniclus gets taunted by Scrafty and is kind of just sitting there, so it was down to Charizard to Heat Wave everything away. Luckily, neither of the opposing Pokémon hit as hard as I expected them to, and I was able to turn a bad situation into a favourable one. One faints before the other and Aegislash enters the field. Reuniclus goes down and Charizard finishes off the remaining lead Pokémon. Charizard comes out on the opposite side of the field and Scrafty comes out on mine. In another stroke of good fortune, Charizard Mega Evoles into the X variant, so Intimidate did have some use on the switch-in, and I managed to close it out from there. I started on the back foot but luck favoured me.
      Match score: 3/2-0
      Overall score: 1-0
      Round 2 - James
      James was a quiet guy and thus I suspected he had some tricks up his sleeve.
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Malamar, Dragonite
      I chose:
      This was it, Victreebel's grand entrance. Both sets of leads looked precarious at best, so I double-protected turn one to see if my opponent would switch out either of his Pokémon. If he did, fine. If he didn't, then he obviously had a way of dealing with the mighty combo (not) known as Victreezard. Jolteon went for a Thunderbolt and Greninja went for the Ice Beam. I suspected that Jolteon at least carried Choice Specs, and Greninja threatened a Focus Sash even though I could outspeed and OHKO with Weather Ball thanks to its Protean-gained Ice-typing. I wanted to switch but couldn't risk allowing Reuniclus to take damage on the way in and subsequently being KO'd by Dark Pulse on the next turn. I kept both leads on the field and my fears were confirmed, with both being OHKO'd but not before Victreebel activated Greninja's Focus Sash.
      Reuniclus and Conkeldurr entered the fray. Mach Punch dealt with Greninja while Reuniclus got to work setting up Trick Room. Amoonguss took that as its cue to join in, leading to a bad play by me: I decided to give away Reuniclus's Spore immunity in favour of Jolteon's Volt Absorb. Amoonguss was throwing Rage Powder all over the show, forcing Conkeldurr to hit it with Drain Punch. Skill Swap activates, and Reuniclus gets... Quick Feet. For some reason, my opponent elected to continue Rage Powdering, allowing Psychic to KO in conjunction with a second Drain Punch. From there I was able to KO Jolteon without much of a problem. Scolipede was taken down in one hit by Reuniclus somewhere amongst the mayhem. A very testy game that I felt fortunate to win.
      Match score: 2-0
      Overall score: 2-0
      Round 3 - Timo Koppetsch (37TimoK1)
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Escavalier, Amoonguss
      I think I chose:
      Upon asking Timo how long he'd been playing pokemon for, he informed me that he went 8-0 through swiss in the Germany Nationals a few weeks prior and had finished 9th overall. Hearing this, I realised that this was my opportunity to really earn my so-far flawless record.
      Seeing rain in team preview, I knew what had to be done. Charizard Mega Evolved and protected against Mega Manectric's Volt Switch, Kingdra threw out a Muddy Water, and Trick Room went up. I hoped that Manectric would be switched out for Politoed as opposed to Kingdra, and I guessed right, OHKOing it on the switch once Skill Swap re-established harsh sunlight as the dominant weather on the field. Kingdra again went for a Muddy Water, lowering the accuracy of both of my Pokémon. Manectric reappears and I go for a Helping Hand-boosted Heat Wave, with which Charizard overcomes the accuracy drop and OHKOs what could have been a big problem had he missed. Reuniclus misses the Psychic on Kingdra, who starts dropping Draco Meteors. From there, I KO'd Kingdra and my opponent conceded defeat.
      Timo was very gracious in defeat, expressing admiration for my team and supporting me for the rest of the tournament (unless of course I happened to face-off against any of the friends he'd travelled so far from Germany with).
      Match score: 3-0 I think.
      Overall score: 3-0
      Round 4 - Greg
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Garchomp, Amoonguss
      I chose:
      Greg was in the same position as me: there to have fun but happened to be doing well.
      Seeing the Team Preview, I decided that it was once again time for Victreebel. Turn 1 I double-protected to block the Fake Out, Encoring it on turn 2 while Charizard Solar Beamed into Rotom's Protect. Turn 3 I knew a double switch was coming, and a quick glance at my notes told me that no matter what switched in it wasn't going to take a combination of Solar Beam and Heat Wave. Gyarados came in for Rotom-W and was promptly KO'd by the combination of the two moves, and Rhyperior dodged the Heat Wave as it tagged out Mega Kangaskhan. Kangaskhan came back out immediately, causing me to make a questionable play. I decided to again go for a Solar Beam + Heat Wave combo on Kangaskhan's slot, expecting a Protect from Rhyperior. Rhyperior didn't Protect, and I think it went down like this: Solar Beam hit Kangaskhan, Kangaskhan KO'd Victreebel with Return, Charizard KO'd Kangaskhan with Heat Wave and Rhyperior slid some rocks in Charizards general direction, grabbing an easy KO.
      So we're down to 2vs2, but I still feel as though the battle is in my favour. Conkeldurr KO'd Rhyperior while Reuniclus set up Trick Room, and Rotom fired a Hydro Pump at Conkeldurr. The next turn saw Rotom take a HH-boosted Drain Punch, after which it again hit Conkeldurr with a Hydro Pump. There may have been a critical hit in there somewhere, because after the ensuing burn damage, Conkeldurr was one more burn away from fainting. Expecting the Protect I targeted Reuniclus with Drain Punch, knowing it could easily take the hit. Rotom indeed protected and Conkeldurr again had just enough HP after the burn to allow for one more hit at Rotom. Feeling good about that play, I went for the Drain Punch... but didn't account for the second Protect. Conk goes down and Reuniclus at almost full HP takes on the low HP Rotom and comes out on top. A tricky game at times.
      Match score: 1-0
      Overall score: 4-0
      Round 5 - Daniele
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Amoonguss, Politoed
      I chose:
      Once again, a rain team, so I assumed the usual position and hoped to grab a straightforward win. I saw Meowstic alongside Kingdra and expected the Politoed switch on turn 2. So turn 1 I do the obligatory Mega Evolve + Protect while Reuniclus uses Tr-
      Meowstic used Rain Dance!
      Kingdra used Hydro Pump!
      Reuniclus fainted!
      'Poop.' said my inner voice, in a much less child-friendly manner. Though Rain Dance was predictable in normal circumstances, I'd been completely thrown off by Politoed in team preview. It was at this point that I started performing a little rain dance of my own in order to get it off of the field, but I honestly saw no way back for me.
      Scrafty came in to Fake Out Kingdra and allow Charizard to switch out for Conkeldurr, while Meowstic starts Charming Scrafty. Next turn I switched Scrafty out for Charizard, Meowstic brings the rain once again and Kingdra aims his Choice Specs-boosted Hydro Pump at Conkeldurr...
      Conkeldurr avoided the attack!
      Conkeldurr then knocks Kingdra's HP down to the red zone, allowing Mach Punch to KO on the next turn. My fortunes were changing, but Meowstic was still an issue. The rest of the battle is a blur, but I narrowly grab it with Charizard relying on Heat Wave not missing, KOing Mega Pinsir and Aegislash after it was revealed that Pinsir was not carrying a Rock-type move.
      Easily the most stressful match of the two days. However, I made a good friend and sparring partner in Dan, and we'll no doubt be sharing ideas once the new metagame hits later this year. A really cool guy.
      Match score: 1-0
      Overall score: 5-0
      Round 6 - Guillermo Sanavia
      My next opponent informed me that he had been playing pokemon for a few years and has done well in prior tournaments, so I knew I was going to be in for an incredibly tough match.
      Opponent's leads (I think): In the back:
      Ommitted: Venusaur, Tyranitar
      I think I chose:
      I don't remember much other than it was intense. It was like a dance-off, with both of us switching pokemon to try to get the upper hand. At no point did I feel that either player was winning in the tussle for momentum until the very end, when I managed to pull ahead.
      A protracted, nervy affair.
      Match score: 2-0 I think
      Overall score: 6-0
      Round 7 - Carlo Arbelli (shinycarletto)
      I didn't know who Carlo was, and up until that point I had simply known him as 'the vocal guy to my left/right during my battles'. A very skilled player, I would definitely have changed my lineup should I have faced him again.
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Amoonguss, Blastoise
      I chose:
      Turn 1 saw Victreebel and Charizard both use Protect, while Tailwind goes up for my opponent and my Aerodactyl dropping rocks on the opponent. Straight away, I had a problem. Again, I don't remember exactly how it went, but I managed to stall out Tailwind, and predicted a Charizard switch-in which Conkeldurr nailed with Rock Tomb. I got very fortunate at one point, beating the opposing Aerodactyl in a speed-tie, KOing it with Rock Slide and flinching Garchomp, allowing Charizard to grab the OHKO. Against Bisharp, I switched out Aerodactyl for Victreebel while my low-HP Charizard used Protect. Predicting the Protect, Carlo had Bisharp target Aerodactyl with an Iron Head which just put Victreebel in the red and my heart in my mouth. Having survived, Victreebel was able to OHKO with Weather Ball after Charizard was taken out by a Sucker Punch. A fortunate win.
      Match score: 2-0
      Overall score: 7-0
      Round 8 - Tyler Bakhtiari (Pokeguru01)
      Tyler and I both sat down at table 1 and congratulated each other on being the only remaining players in flight A with a 100% win percentage. Feeling at ease, we had a chat while everyone else around us started their battles. After a while, it became apparent that some of those battles had already begun to finish, so we decided it was finally time to get down to business.
      Opponent's leads (I think): In the back:
      Ommitted: Garchomp, Gyarados, Gourgeist
      I think I chose:
      Urgh, Gardevoir. I knew I had to get it knocked out as soon as possible otherwise I would have no chance of winning. I can't remember exactly what happened, but through some clever play on Tyler's part with the use of Substitute and Ally Switch, my team soon found itself in a hole from which there was no escape, thus incurring my first and only loss of the day. A great guy with a great team.
      Match score: 0-4
      Overall score: 7-1
      Having finished 2nd in the flight, I headed back to the hotel to get some long overdue rest before the next day's knockout phase.
      Day 2 - BO3 Knockout Stage
      Last 32 - Pedro Lima
      I started this set by asking Pedro how to pronounce his name, making me look like a real idiot. However, the blame lies with Nugget Bridge for spelling his name as Predo on the site the night before, so thanks for that!
      Battle #1
      He used (not in order): 
      Ommitted: Amoonguss, Talonflame
      I chose:
      Rain mode, activate! I can't remember the exact order of events, but I got Trick Room up and Charizard was able to OHKO Garchomp and Ludicolo, (Hidden Power Ice and Helping Hand boosted Heat Wave, respectively) and 2HKO Politoed. Kangaskhan stood no chance against the two Fighting-types in the back, and I won quite handily.
      Match score: 3-0 I think.
      Set score: 1-0
      What I learned from battle 1:

      I expected Politoed to be slower than Charizard but without rain Ludicolo was too.
      Garchomp carried neither a Focus Sash nor a Yache Berry, and did have Rock Slide.
      Kangaskhan was expectedly faster than Charizard, and it had Protect over Fake Out.

      Battle #2
      He used (not in order): 
      Ommitted: Amoonguss, Talonflame
      I chose:
      With the info I had gained from game 1 - and believing that my opponent would switch it up a bit - I decided that going fast with slow in the back was my best bet since Aerodactyl could stop Garchomp's Rock Slide and deal with the Talonflame that I was certain would make an appearance. As you can see, Pedro's lineup in fact remained unchanged.
      Memory fails me once more, but at one point Kangaskhan Power-Up Punched Conkeldurr as it switched in alongside Reuniclus. Trick Room wasn't up, and I knew that Kangaskhan would absolutely remain on the field given its +2 attack boost, so out came the Helping Hand-boosted Mach Punch to grab the surprise OHKO. I kept rain off of the field and managed to net win number 2.
      Pedro was another in a long line of cool dudes that I met over the two day event, and talked very enthusiastically about my team afterwards. Thumbs up to you, sir.
      Last 16 - Niall Crallan (TheLastSheikah)
      Battle #1
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Garchomp, Rotom-H
      I chose:
      I tried to keep this fight outside of Trick Room, but my efforts were in vain. Trick Room went up, Scrafty revealed Rock Slide, and Abomasnow cleaned up Victreebel and Reuniclus, but not before Nidoqueen fell to Psychic.
      Match score: 1-3
      Set score: 0-1
      Battle #2
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Nidoqueen, Scrafty
      I chose:
      Since fast-mode was more like ineffective-mode in game 1, I resigned myself to the fact that game 2 was going to be fought in Trick Room no matter what and prepared accordingly.
      This game went a lot smoother than the first. Scrafty was able to OHKO Slowking with a Helping Hand-boosted Crunch, Charizard KO'd Garchomp, and Conkeldurr grabbed KOs on Abomasnow and Rotom-H. I spent part of the game trying to make it seem as though Conkeldurr wasn't running priority so as not to have to worry about Mach Punching into Protect when facing off against the ice tree. Although I was successful, my opponent now knew that I packed both Mach Punch and Hidden Power Ice going into the final game.
      Match score: 3-0
      Set score: 1-1
      Battle #3
      Opponent's leads: In the back:
      Ommitted: Abomasnow, Nidoqueen
      I chose:
      If it's not broke, don't fix it. Except this time Charizard faced impending Rock Slides both in and out of Trick Room. It was a long match, ending on the turn that the timer hit 0, with Trick Room being used countless times as each player vied to twist or untwist the dimensions. The game ended in ironic fashion, with Charizard being OHKO'd by the one pokemon and the one move that I had tried so hard to counter: Garchomp's Rock Slide.
      I've thought about this set quite a lot since the event, and even now I simply cannot see a concrete, consistent strategy that I could employ against Niall's team. I felt as though I had built a team that was difficult to counter using conventional methods, but this particular opponent just had the right balance of pressure both in and out of Trick Room to make these matches extremely tough for me. A really great, original team.
      Match score: 2-0
      Set score: 1-2
      Thanks for reading this far, and I hoped that you enjoyed the team and the report. I would like to say thanks to all of the great people that I met that made the experience what it was, and I would also like to thank Olivia, my girlfriend, for making the trip with me from London. Next year, you're gonna compete too!
      Thanks again, and come say hi if you recognise my name at future events. See you there!
    • Boom! Shake the Room: UK Nationals Report
      By Decretum
      Hello, I'm Nick Bailey. I go by Decretum here, but beforehand I used to go by Teh_Black_Mage. I'm relatively new to VGC, only starting to play around the time of the Winter Event Qualifiers after having been convinced to get into the metagame. I used to play a fair amount of UU Singles and a small amount of OU Singles in generation five, and I've played the games casually since Red and Blue. While this was technically the second VGC event I've attended, it was the first I competed in, and I have to say in the few weeks leading up to the event I really wasn't in the right mindset for Pokémon. I played a few practice matches about a week before the actual event, using a team I'd made almost one or two months prior to booking a hotel room. I might as well get down to it and go into detail about the team and how I came about making it!
      The Background to the Final Team
      Following the Winter Event Finals last year, I decided I'd take some of the ideas I got from my team I used then and rework them, now that I had a better idea of what was successful. Over the following months I tried making various teams based on certain ideas, like using Mega Blastoise alongside Prankster Rain Dance, for example. Another such team was devised around the time that Mega Charizard Y and Venusaur were a common lead pair, again using Mega Blastoise as a bait for Grass-type moves while running Goodra and Gogoat as a Sap Sipper core. By the time the Battle Tournament heats had passed, however, I realised I needed a more relevant team.
      It was around this time I returned to a team I came up with in February, which was fondly nicknamed 'The Exploudening' for its ridiculous strategy. After considering how I could make my Leftovers Exploud stronger from my Winter team, the obvious choice occurred to me. By running Choice Specs on Exploud, its damage output made running this slow and (slightly) bulky Pokémon much more worth doing. I spent the next few days researching how I could build a team around Exploud.
      The Exploudening

      Lucifer (Exploud) @ Choice Specs
      Ability: Scrappy
      EVs: 252 SAtk / 252 HP / 4 SDef
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Boomburst
      - Ice Beam
      - Focus Blast
      - Protect

      Raphael (Aggron) @ Aggronite
      Ability: Rock Head
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 HP / 252 SDef
      Adamant Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Protect
      - Heavy Slam
      - Earthquake
      - Dragon Claw

      Uriel (Mr. Mime) @ Leftovers
      Ability: Soundproof
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 SAtk / 252 Def
      Relaxed Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Fake Out
      - Trick Room
      - Safeguard
      - Dazzling Gleam

      Fierte (Gardevoir) @ Chesto Berry
      Ability: Telepathy
      EVs: 252 SAtk / 252 HP / 4 SDef
      Quiet Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Trick Room
      - Rest
      - Moonblast
      - Psychic

      Michael (Tyrantrum) @ Assault Vest
      Ability: Strong Jaw
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 HP / 252 SDef
      Brave Nature
      - Dragon Claw
      - Crunch
      - Fire Fang
      - Rock Slide

      Gabriel (Shuckle) @ Sitrus Berry
      Ability: Sturdy
      EVs: 252 SDef / 252 HP / 4 Def
      Calm Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Guard Split
      - Helping Hand
      - Knock Off
      - Gastro Acid
      Without going into too much detail, the ideal battle for this team followed a general pattern. Trick Room would be set up by either Gardevoir or Mr.Mime on the first turn, while either Shuckle is switched into the other position out front or uses Knock Off or Gastro Acid on whatever might give me an advantage without its item or Ability, respectively. Exploud would then come in to replace the Trick Room setter while Shuckle uses Guard Split on Exploud, improving its bulk considerably. From there, Shuckle can use Helping Hand to give Boomburst an extreme boost. Given this setup, the team would then win within two or three turns.
      There were many flaws with this team, of course. Requiring a two turn setup to reliably win meant that not only was the team inconsistent, but the movepools of the selected Pokémon meant that my choices for bringing Pokémon to each game were extremely limited: essentially, I had to use Exploud, Shuckle, Gardevoir or Mr.Mime, and Aggron or Tyrantrum each battle. Couple this with rarely finding a reason to run Gardevoir over Mr.Mime (as the latter provided Fake Out support), and the fact that Tyrantrum tended to accomplish more than Mega Aggron ever did, including taking Boomburst better in the event Exploud is locked into it and no switch ins are available, and suddenly the team has no variation. The conclusion I reached with this team was fairly simple: Exploud couldn't viably be run in a team as the core strategy with current movepools being the way they are. I didn't want to drop Exploud just yet, though.
      The Final Team
      As I finalised my team, I first focused more on Pokémon that I wanted to use, rather than which Pokémon would provide synergy with the rest of my team. Having used Mega Blastoise on all of my teams to date bar The Exploudening, I wanted to try something a little different. I thought back to when X and Y were first released and my days as a Singles-only player, when I was testing out Mega Mawile. In regards to the nicknames, since the team was still inspired by Exploud I decided to go with song titles, and settled on various Girls Dead Monster songs since a few names fit particularly well.

      MySoul (Reuniclus) @ Leftovers
      Ability: Regenerator
      EVs: 116 HP / 140 SAtk / 252 SDef
      Calm Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Helping Hand
      - Trick Room
      - Psyshock
      - Focus Blast
      When making the team, I figured I wanted a Trick Room user, especially since I still had Exploud and Mega Mawile in mind. Couple that with calculations I made with The Exploudening for Helping Hand boosted Boomburst, and it was just a matter of searching for the right support Pokémon that could do both. As a plain Psychic type, Reuniclus is weak only to Bug, Ghost and Dark types, meaning the range of Super Effective STAB moves it has to look out for is certainly narrowed down. Combine this with Reuniclus' not insignificant bulk, a sluggish Speed stat, and access to both Helping Hand and Trick Room, and my choice for a support Pokémon was clear. With Leftovers and Regenerator, my Trick Room setter was able to survive longer than my opponents might have wanted.
      Normally I'm not a huge fan of running a dedicated support Pokémon, which is why I ran Psyshock and Focus Blast to round off the moveset rather than run any more support moves. In a metagame where burns, Intimidate, and Prankster Charm are everywhere, the advantage on having a Specially bulky Pokémon to deal with non-Physical threats is greater than it would otherwise be. I chose Psyshock over Psychic to exploit these Specially bulky Pokémon. As for Focus Blast, while the accuracy is only 70%, I felt as though I needed a Fighting-type coverage move. While Energy Ball and Flash Cannon were other alternatives for coverage, a fair share of Pokémon that Fighting/Psychic coverage can't hit at least neutrally aren't readily used, with the exception of Aegislash, Meowstic, Gardevoir, Sableye, and occasionally other Reuniclus. The other reason I couldn't help but use two offensive moves on Reuniclus is its hefty Special Attack (125 base), making it an offensive powerhouse against the right teams during Trick Room.
      In regards to the EV spread, I wanted to create a spread that could unexpectedly survive attacks in order to more reliably get off Trick Room. I'm a firm believer of capitalising on the advantages you already have, and Reuniclus' already impressive Special bulk coupled with the double Intimidate in my team made the choice to go Specially bulky obvious. After prioritising the bulk, the remaining EVs could then be invested into Reuniclus' Special Attack. Using the following a combination of the following calculations I reached the above spread of 116HP/140SpA/252SpD with a Calm Nature:

      252+ SpA Aegislash-Blade Shadow Ball vs. 116 HP / 252+ SpD Reuniclus: 134-162 (67 - 81%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 SpA Hydreigon Dark Pulse vs. 116 HP / 252+ SpD Reuniclus: 108-128 (54 - 64%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ SpA Tyranitar Dark Pulse vs. 116 HP / 252+ SpD Reuniclus: 98-116 (49 - 58%) -- 96.5% chance to 2HKO
      252 SpA Mega Gengar Shadow Ball vs. 116 HP / 252+ SpD Reuniclus: 134-162 (67 - 81%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
      252+ SpA Mega Gardevoir Shadow Ball vs. 116 HP / 252+ SpD Reuniclus: 96-114 (48 - 57%) -- 40.6% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

      By dumping the remaining EVs into Special Attack, Reuniclus can pick up OHKOs on some non-Assault Vest Tyranitar variants with Focus Blast, as well as putting hefty dents into a number of commonly used Pokémon.

      YourBeats (Scrafty) @ Life Orb
      Ability: Intimidate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SDef
      Adamant Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Fake Out
      - Drain Punch
      - Crunch
      - Quick Guard
      Moving onto the second part to the common dual lead. I previously ran a similar Scrafty back at the Winter Event. The main differences between the two are that this one has a 0 Speed IV for Trick Room, and that it's running Quick Guard over Protect. While some Pokémon who capitalised on priority moves, such as Talonflame, are used nowhere near as much as they were back in Winter, I've found that running Quick Guard is still useful. Quick Guard won't help me against Fake Out, unfortunately, but it does still provide a defense against Prankster users, the occasional Talonflame, and other priority such as Extremespeed, Aqua Jet and Mach Punch. The only downside is a lack of Protect as a result, although I've found that this for the most part doesn't seem to be a huge problem. On the occasion that Scrafty is threatened and consequently OHKO'd due to the plays I make, I've found that I can often trade to get a return OHKO. With a fairly simple spread, Scrafty was designed from the beginning to generally take hits if necessary and hit back as hard as possible. With Intimidate and access to Fake Out, I've found it to be a strong lead (or turn one switch in) that can threaten even Mega Kangaskhan if you play it right. Some general calculations to go with its offensive power:

      252+ Atk Life Orb Scrafty Drain Punch vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 143-172 (67.4 - 81.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ Atk Life Orb Scrafty Crunch vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Meowstic: 195-229 (107.7 - 126.5%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ Atk Life Orb Scrafty Drain Punch vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Tyranitar: 265-317 (128 - 153.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO

      If I didn't use a Life Orb for the extra damage output, I would definitely consider a Lum Berry since Scrafty often attracts a lot of Will O Wisp attention.

      CrowSong (Exploud) @ Choice Specs
      Ability: Scrappy
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef
      Modest Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Boomburst
      - Flamethrower
      - Ice Beam
      - Focus Blast
      Coming on to one of the selling point of the team, I decided to use a fairly routine set that I've used on almost every occasion beforehand. While on some teams Soundproof may be preferred to Scrappy, I felt the added utility of being able to hit Ghost types with Boomburst and Focus Blast is more useful. I've considered using Fire Blast over Flamethrower before, as well as potentially using Blizzard over Ice Beam. However, I felt as though both moves were incredibly inconsistent. One thing I've enjoyed about this team is that most of the team is built specifically to be bulky enough to not necessarily need Trick Room. However, I feel Exploud requires Reuniclus alongside it for optimal use. Like Scrafty, the EV spread, items, and Nature were chosen simply to try and maximise general bulk while still providing adequate damage output. There are some interesting things to note about the damage that can be dealt with this setup:

      252+ SpA Choice Specs Exploud Helping Hand Boomburst vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Garchomp: 198-234 (107.6 - 127.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ SpA Choice Specs Exploud Helping Hand Boomburst vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 172-204 (81.1 - 96.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252+ SpA Choice Specs Exploud Helping Hand Boomburst vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Rotom-W: 118-141 (75.1 - 89.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
      252+ SpA Choice Specs Exploud Helping Hand Focus Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Aegislash-Shield: 186-220 (111.3 - 131.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252+ SpA Choice Specs Exploud Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Ferrothorn: 236-280 (130.3 - 154.6%) -- guaranteed OHKO

      Throughout testing this team, Exploud proved to be a nice cannon in the background. Given the right situation, I could bring Exploud into a battle knowing that it would comfortably take a few hits before going down, and at the very least create a dent in the opposing team. Using it requires a bit of time to get used to knowing when to use it, and mispredicting ever so slightly might cost you your own partner Pokémon while not even hitting both of the opposing Pokémon.

      Alchemy (Tyranitar) @ Assault Vest
      Ability: Sand Stream
      Level: 50
      Shiny: Yes
      EVs: 108 Atk / 252 SAtk / 148 SDef
      Quiet Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Rock Slide
      - Crunch
      - Ice Beam
      - Flamethrower
      Ever since Gen 6 was released and Assault Vest came into existence, I've been a bit of a fan of it. I've previously run Assault Vest on Goodra, and to a slightly less successful extent on Tyrantrum. With defenses of 100/110/100 and a Special Defense boost in sand, Assault Vest turns Tyranitar from a bulky monster into a Special wall that couldn't really care less about any Special attacks. Since the rest of my team consisted of three Physical attackers already, I decided I'd run a mixed Tyranitar, as its ability to be either Physical or Special gives me an advantage in that I could bluff one attacking type, only to surprise with the other.
      Originally Dark Pulse was going to be my Dark move of choice, however I was quite unlucky when trying to breed a Larvitar with the move. The 108 Attack EVs were invested so that Rock Slide was a guaranteed OHKO on Mega Charizard Y, even after an Intimidate, while the maximum investment into Special Attack was to boost the latter two attacks. The remaining EVs were invested in Special Defense with the intention of abusing the Assault Vest and Sand Boost to its Special Defense. Below are just some examples for calculations that show its worth:

      252+ SpA Tyranitar Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Ferrothorn: 160-192 (88.3 - 106%) -- 31.3% chance to OHKO
      252+ SpA Tyranitar Ice Beam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Garchomp: 208-248 (113 - 134.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      108 Atk Tyranitar Rock Slide vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Charizard Y: 216-256 (140.2 - 166.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO
      252 SpA Lucario Aura Sphere vs. 0 HP / 148 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 148-180 (84.5 - 102.8%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
      252+ SpA Aegislash-Blade Flash Cannon vs. 0 HP / 148 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 98-116 (56 - 66.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 SpA Gardevoir Moonblast vs. 0 HP / 148 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 92-110 (52.5 - 62.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Earth Power vs. 0 HP / 148 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 112-135 (64 - 77.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

      I've found from playing in the Nationals, as well as in testing, that mixed Tyranitar still catches people off guard. It's also worth noting that Helping Hand from Reuniclus can turn some of those near OHKOs into guaranteed OHKOs more often than not.

      ShineDays (Druddigon) @ Rocky Helmet
      Ability: Rough Skin
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 104 Atk / 148 Def / 4 SDef
      Adamant Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Dragon Claw
      - Rock Slide
      - Superpower
      - Sucker Punch
      The decision to run Druddigon mostly came from wanting to run a Dragon in the team that could reliably check Mega Kangaskhan. After looking through a list of VGC-allowed Dragons, I came to the conclusion that Druddigon might actually have some use in my team. With a base Attack stat of 120 and a Speed of 48, Druddigon felt like the ideal physical Dragon to use in Trick Room. As it's probably quite clear, the main idea behind this set was punish Mega Kangaskhan with Rough Skin and Rocky Helmet and finish it off with a Superpower. The EVs were calculated for this in mind, resulting in a Pokémon that was definitely a situational pickup in my team. Sucker Punch allows Druddigon to hit with priority if Trick Room isn't up, while its STAB allows it to hit many Pokémon reasonably hard neutrally. There aren't many relevant calculations to add bar the following:

      252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 148 Def Druddigon: 153-181 (83.1 - 98.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      104+ Atk Druddigon Superpower vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 126-150 (59.4 - 70.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      252 Atk Garchomp Dragon Claw vs. 252 HP / 148 Def Druddigon: 128-152 (69.5 - 82.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      104+ Atk Druddigon Dragon Claw vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Garchomp: 134-158 (72.8 - 85.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

      Ultimately after the event I felt as though Druddigon didn't accomplish much. Druddigon was a dedicated Mega Kangaskhan counter, but it seemed as though my team was able to handle Kangaskhan without Druddigon to a fairly safe degree.

      LittleBraver (Mawile) @ Mawilite
      Ability: Intimidate
      Level: 50
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def
      Relaxed Nature
      IVs: 0 Spd
      - Protect
      - Play Rough
      - Swords Dance
      - Iron Head
      This might be my favourite Pokémon on the team. When I first considered running Mega Mawile on this team, I decided I'd run (almost) the same set I used back when I first used it this generation, with the differences being Protect, a 0 Speed IV, and the Nature. LittleBraver certainly lives up to its name, taking Physical hits thrown at it and soldiering on. The premise of this set is simple. Mawile's Mega Evolution gives both Defenses a boost of 40 base points. Factoring in Intimidate, Mawile is surprisingly bulky on the Physical side. The only real thing to be aware of is that there's no Special Defense investment, so Mawile will fall to things like Rotom-H Overheat. Another thing to note is Mawile's Attack. Even without any real Attack investment, this Mawile can output hefty damage. Of course, the lack of Attack investment is made up for by the Swords Dance. Its impressive and underestimated bulk allows Mawile to spend a turn boosting its Attack before hitting incredibly hard with its dual STABs in Trick Room. The fact that the team has three Fighting weaknesses is covered by Mawile alone. One thing I found interesting during the event and in testing was the Mawile vs. Mawile mirror. For simplicity I've used Ray Rizzo's Mawile as a comparison, as well as assuming both Mawile have no stat changes:

      52 Atk Huge Power Mega Mawile Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Mega Mawile: 117-138 (38.4 - 45.3%) -- guaranteed 3HKO

      So Rizzo's Mawile would 3HKO mine, and in return?

      4 Atk Huge Power Mega Mawile Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Mega Mawile: 148-175 (48.6 - 57.5%) -- 94.9% chance to 2HKO

      Almost guaranteed a 2HKO, and that's without any boost, which is one thing my Mawile set definitely specialises in. This physically bulky Mawile can also take other attacks while hitting hard back, varying in levels of how prepared you are to take that much damage on Mawile:

      252 Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Mega Mawile: 152-180 (50 - 59.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
      4 Atk Huge Power Mega Mawile Play Rough vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Garchomp: 422-500 (117.8 - 139.6%) -- guaranteed OHKO

      And if you really want to:

      252 Atk Choice Band Talonflame Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Mega Mawile: 264-312 (86.8 - 102.6%) -- 12.5% chance to OHKO
      +2 4 Atk Huge Power Mega Mawile Play Rough vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Talonflame: 267-315 (89.5 - 105.7%) -- 37.5% chance to OHKO

      That last situation is obviously a last ditch one, but shows that it's definitely possible to tank a Flare Blitz even without the Intimidate if necessary. The key to running Swords Dance on Mawile like this really is just to know when you need a +2 Attack boost and when the boost is not necessary.
      That is the team I ran at the UK Nationals. Generally in most battles I just stuck with Mawile, Tyranitar, Reuniclus and Scrafty, although in a few battle I switched out Reuniclus or Tyranitar for Exploud and Scrafty or Tyranitar for Druddigon.
      UK Nationals 2014
      I'd like to apologise in advance for how vague the following section might be at times. I didn't have anything on me to record any of the battles and I have a pretty dire memory, so I ask that you humour me and pretend the attention to detail is superb. Having only booked at a hotel for Saturday night, it only occurred to me on the Friday that I'd need to wake up early enough to actually travel down to Manchester in time. It was with my deepest regret that I still stayed up till the early hours before trying to sleep, because going out to see the new X-Men film was obviously more important than going to sleep at a reasonable time. Following this I then spent the few hours of sleep I could get before 5am waking up and thinking I missed my alarm, only to find I had another hour or two left before I had to get ready and head off for a train from York.
      After a relatively uneventful trip down, the next couple of hours went by as planned, meeting up with people I knew and saying hi before heading into the queue to register. Half an hour after signups closed, people started to look around in confusion. Weren't pairings supposed to be put up 15 minutes ago? Over the next few hours very little happened that can't be summarised by "If only I could've had more sleep, then I'd be fine waiting this long," aside from a speedy excursion into the Trafford Centre to obtain food. We got back with plenty of time to spare, and before too long the division finally started. There's not really any point in going into much detail about the organisation considering there's been enough slating for it all over the internet without me contributing to it, and for a company that apparently is only used to doing TCG tourneys beforehand they did pretty well once the ball got rolling a couple of rounds in. Here's the time for the vague details about my battles.
      Round 2 - Rina Purdy
      Of Rina's team I'm afraid I can only remember Mawile, Gyarados, Kecleon, and Chandelure. I also want to say there was a Hydreigon, but the main details I remember from matches are why the games transpired with their results in the end. My first thought when I saw the Chandelure in this team was that it might be running Trick Room and Imprison, and decided that I'd make the potentially risky play of not taking Reuniclus into battle. Doing so meant that I didn't have any Speed control, and would almost always attack last each turn. Instead of taking Reuniclus, I figured Exploud might provide a nice advantage if I could get a well timed Boomburst off, especially if the Chandelure was out and my opponent wasn't expecting Scrappy.
      The battle itself was incredibly close, with both of us outpredicting each other on occasion, until it was my Mawile and Scrafty against her Mawile and Gyarados. As Scrafty had just come in, I decided to double target Mawile with Fake Out and Iron Head, only realising after I'd made that decision that a double Protect was the more probable play since both her Pokémon outsped mine. Had I used Swords Dance and capitalised on a free turn, my Mawile could OHKO either of her remaining team members. Because I hadn't, I needed Scrafty to help get the kill on the Mawile if I wanted to win. Luckily for me Rina's Mawile missed its Play Rough, allowing me to KO it and go 2v1 against the Gyarados and narrowly take the win.
      Round 3
      Looking at Team Preview put me on edge before the game even got underway. I remember my opponent having Aurorus, Chandelure, and Jolteon, and I think he used a Wigglytuff but I'm not sure. Due to some of my opponent's more interesting Pokémon not really being used in this format, I had to consider what movesets they might possibly run. One thing I was certain of was that, again, I did not want to bring my Reuniclus to the battle because of Chandelure. At the same time, I remember Jolteon as a glass cannon back from my days of playing singles, which made me cautious of potentially not Reuniclus after all. In the end, my relevant choices that I used were Scrafty, Mawile and Druddigon, which makes me assume he probably had a Mega Kangaskhan.
      In hindsight I was more worried about this match than I needed to be, although I'd rather be careful and hesitant because of unknown factors rather than rush in head first. The match was fairly uneventful, with the only notable things I remember being that I baited a Flamethrower from his Chandelure into my Protecting Mawile, allowing my Druddigon to Sucker Punch it. The next turn he tried to use Flamethrower again, despite being comfortably 2HKO'd by Druddigon's Sucker Punch. In the end, he used Round on Jolteon and Aurorus, which was only interesting because Round really hurts from Aurorus when you get the power boost.
      Round 4
      My next opponent came at me with notable Pokémon such as Gengar and Gyarados. In this match I ran with my basic core of Reuniclus, Mawile, Tyranitar, and Scrafty. The battle ended up being drawn out, with me winning by a sliver of HP. The thing I remember most about this match isn't the battle at all. The most memorable thing was that my opponent's 3DS was on critically low battery, and after a few minutes of sorting out what to do with the staff, ended up having our match over by the charging station with a personal judge making sure no one came over to confer with us. By coincidence it happened to be Kay Dyson (Cambria), the now ex-head of York PokeSoc, which ended up being the one time I actually caught up with her during the event.
      Round 5
      Just before Round 5 began, a small group of us on the front table had a little chat about how the tournament was starting to become an endurance test, considering how tired we all were. After a brief amiable chat, the battle commenced. My opponent this round ended up using Mega Gengar, Tyranitar, Ferrothorn and a Rotom-Wash. Again, I used my standard picks of Reuniclus, Tyranitar, Scrafty, and Mawile.
      The first turn was a little odd, as I had faced a Gengar or two previously that day and all of them had used Shadow Ball on my Reuniclus. I switched out Reuniclus for Scrafty, expecting a Shadow Ball, only to get KOed immediately by Dazzling Gleam. On the other hand, my Tyranitar successfully used Crunch on his Gengar, equalising the score at 3-3 at turn one. Later in the battle, I finally got Trick Room up as he burned my Tyranitar with Will o Wisp, thinking my Tyranitar was a physical variant. I gave Tyranitar a Helping Hand boost, OHKOing his Ferrothorn with Flamethrower. From there I wore down his Tyranitar and Rotom-Wash before my own Tyranitar was KOed, and my Mawile cleaned up from there. I was now 5-0, and my friends told me I could easily Top Cut if I performed similarly throughout the rest of the tournament. It was at this point that my record took a turn.
      Round 6 - Tyler Bakhtiari (pokeguru101)
      Sat at position 1 was a good feeling, even if it was in the less prestigious flight, and it was at this point that we were asked if we wanted to play on the big screen. Funnily enough, Tyler was sat across from me in the previous round, and just before our games I mentioned I would never want to go on the big screen because I felt as though I'd just screw up completely. However, now I was feeling more up to it, so I said why not and we both moved to the screen. Tyler's team for the event consisted of Kangaskhan, Gyarados, Rotom-Heat, Gardevoir, Gourgeist-Super and Garchomp. Looking at his team, I immediately decided I wanted to bring Druddigon along due to the presence of Kangaskhan, and after also choosing Mawile, I was left with two choices for my final Pokémon. In the end, I went with Reuniclus and Scrafty.
      I led with Druddigon and Reuniclus, expecting a Kangaskhan, but he never brought it to the fight. He led with Gyarados and Gardevoir, and I realised I should probably switch Druddigon out due to the threat of a strong Fairy move from Gardevoir. I figured Gyarados was going to Taunt my Reuniclus, so I just used Psyshock on Gyarados. I figured Mawile was my only real choice to switch into a Fairy move, but I did not expect Gardevoir to have Will O Wisp. I switched Mawile in, and it got burnt for its troubles. Tyler played safe throughout the match. I was never able to get Trick Room up with Reuniclus, and Mawile was burned from the get go. This meant I was on the back foot as it was, and combining that with the fact that Druddigon didn't do much damage to the Pokémon he brought, I lost 3-0 in a war of attrition.
      It was a good game, and Tyler was pretty cool, even mentioning that my team was interesting. I was now 5-1, and I had a brief encounter with not other than Ben Kyriakou while he was talking to my girlfriend. He mentioned how the Top Cut matchups were organised, and I made a rather confident declaration that I'd fight him in the Top Cut.
      Round 7 - Luke Chaplin
      This round was really quick for me. I greeted my opponent, and we chatted briefly about the potential to reach Top Cut with certain records. Looking at his team, I saw a Kangaskhan and without really thinking much about the rest of his team, I decided to bring Druddigon, along with Mawile, Scrafty, and probably Reuniclus. I led Druddigon and Scrafty against his Kangaskhan and Salamence. I was worried about being hit by a Draco Meteor, so I withdrew Druddigon for Mawile and realised as I did it that he probably predicted such an obvious play. Turns out that I was right, as my Mawile ate a Fire Blast, leaving me 4-3 on the first turn without my mega. The rest of the battle followed suit, with me falling right into his hands. I don't even think I took down a single member of his team.
      Final Round - Kelly M
      It was the final round, and I sat across from someone who was also 5-2. If either of us won, we would most likely make it into the Top Cut. The stakes were high and we were both aware of that fact, so without much waiting we wished each other luck and the battle commenced. After some quick deliberation I decided to play it safe and stick with Mawile, Tyranitar, Reuniclus and Scrafty, while my opponent went with Rotom-H, Tyranitar, Mienshao and Venusaur.
      Early on I got distracted and managed to mess up my turn, with my Mawile falling to Rotom-Heat's Overheat and my Scrafty using Crunch on his Mienshao due to timeout, instead of my planned Drain Punch on Rotom-Heat. Later in the battle I was down two Pokémon to his four. With Reuniclus and Tyranitar out on the field I figured I could Rock Slide to KO his Rotom-H and add some chip damage to his Tyranitar, and Reuniclus could set up Trick Room. Before getting KOed, however, his Rotom-Heat managed to get a critical hit on my Reuniclus with Thunderbolt, making the earlier stat drop from Overheat not count . He apologised for the crit, but it's part of the game so I said there's no point feeling sorry about it because it happens. The following turn my Tyranitar now outsped his own and got a timely Rock Slide flinch, saving my Reuniclus and allowing it to knock out his Tyranitar. At this point, it was just Mienshao and Venusaur against Reuniclus and Tyranitar. I managed to KO his Mienshao with a Psyshock, but the next turn another Psyshock was not enough to do KO his Venusaur, and he KOed Reuniclus in return, leaving me in a position where I had to take down a Mega Venusaur with my Tyranitar. In the end it was a narrow loss, but it was a good game like most of my games so I didn't mind.
      That was the end of my Nationals run this year. Our group of friends hung around to see the standings posted. I was 30-something in Flight A, and 68th overall. We hen headed to the hotel for the night, getting takeaway and playing some Mario Kart 7 before resting for the next day. For the most part, we just hung around, watching Top Cut and catching up with people we hadn't talked to the previous day. I may not have gotten a significant result in the end, but considering how I went not really motivated to play Pokémon I was suddenly back in the right mindset. I met some great people for the first time, and I saw a bunch of people I knew otherwise again. I'll look forward to the next event.
      Shoutouts to my girlfriend Jade Batchelor (evilpinkdragon) for helping me breed my team as well as helping optimise a couple of EV spreads, since I couldn't really think of where to begin. Another shoutout goes to her brother Eden (Xenoblade Hero) for offering the odd suggestion for my team, and I'd like to thank both of them for encouraging me to get into VGC in the first place. Also shoutouts to York Pokesoc, and all of the guys I hung around during the Saturday that I didn't mention individually because there's too many.
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