So for those of you who don't know me, my name is Wolfe Glick (Wolfey), and I am a supreme Pokénob. I qualified by winning US Nationals, and in preparation for Worlds I knew I was going to need an entirely new team. Despite having used a somewhat standard team at Nationals, I knew that if I wanted to perform well at Worlds I would need to create a team that was completely strange and original. Deciding that much was easy enough, however the next step was a little trickier. Where do I start? Despite Daniel Nolan (Zog) being my normal go-to guy when I wanted something silly, he had decided to take a vacation for all of my preparation for Worlds. I was on my own. To come up with a starting point, I decided to meditate on the power of the Zog, and I recalled him telling me about his 2010 team, which was centered around Skill Swap Venomoth resetting Rain and powering up his Choice Scarf Kyogre. With the mighty Zog at the front of my mind, I began thinking, and the following is what I came up with:
Mama Zaki (Cresselia) (F) @ Leftovers
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Def / 4 SAtk / 124 SDef / 76 Spd
Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk)
- Skill Swap
- Sunny Day
- Icy Wind
I knew right away that I was going to use Skill Swap Cresselia partnered with Substitute Heatran. The few matches I had tested pre-Nationals with this combo proved to be incredibly effective, which gave me a starting point when building for Worlds. At first I had been using the same Expert Belt Cresselia I ran at Nationals, but in testing I found the bulk was more necessary. Icy Wind was essential for team support, lowering the Speed of both of my opponent's Pokémon, and it was never a question as to whether I should use it on my set. Psyshock was a move I was reluctant to use, as without offense it does not do much damage to anything, however I knew it would be unfortunate to get stuck with Icy Wind as my only attacking move and I was correct. Psyshock paid off in this tournament due to its ability to break Thundurus Substitutes, of which I saw a surprising amount. Sunny Day was added as an afterthought a few days before the tournament because in practice Nightblade7000 (aka Ben7000) beat me consistently with a rain team that also carried Metagross (because I was unable to bring Heatran vs. Rain). Sunny Day was a great choice over Light Screen as it was able to boost Heatran's Heat Waves, weaken Water moves vs. Heatran and Terrakion, make Harvest activate every turn, and negate the Special Defense boost from Tyranitar.
I want to touch on Skill Swap a bit more, as it had utility outside of only passing Levitate to Heatran. Skill Swap is able to reset weather, reset Intimidate, take away Swift Swim/Sand Rush and pass it to Terrakion or Heatran, take Dry Skin/Water Absorb and make Heatran completely untouchable vs. Rain, take Levitate away from an opponent whose partner was spamming Earthquake, as well as an almost unlimited amount of other uses. I feel obligated to provide some examples of times I used Skill Swap in this tournament besides just passing Levitate. In my Top 8 match vs Sejun Park, game one I found myself with a slight lead (4-3) with my Heatran at -3 speed and 30 percent left, Cresselia at -4 and 45 percent health, Thundurus with 85 percent remaining, and Exeggutor with 60 Percent remaining vs. Full HP top, 1 HP paralyzed Scarf Cresselia and low HP Life Orb Garchomp. I knew that if I played smart, I could win on timer and not worry about closing the game although my foe at this point could not beat Exeggutor. With 4 minutes remaining on the game clock, I chose my move. I recalled Heatran for Exeggutor, who ended up taking a Fight Gem Close Combat and healing HP back with Sitrus. I was afraid of Sucker Punch from Hitmontop, so instead of firing off Psyshock I Skill Swapped away its Intimidate. Between all the animations, Gems, Skill Swap resetting Intimidate, Icy Wind dropping both stats, Leftovers, Harvest and a second Sitrus berry, the game ended this turn despite 5 minutes being on the clock at the end of the previous turn. The second example was game one vs. Abel Martin Sanz (flash_mc) in the Top 4. He had a Thundurus behind a Substitute, and I was afraid of it Paralyzing my whole team. I decided to take Prankster from it, and then break its Sub and Icy Wind it the next turn. Because of this I was able to priority Sunny Day my Heatran switch-in and KO before Abel could Paralyze me. Skill Swap's potential was endless, and I was using it nearly every game.
Papa Fuego (Heatran) (F) @ Chople Berry
Trait: Flash Fire
EVs: 244 HP / 52 Def / 76 SAtk / 4 SDef / 132 Spd
Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk)
- Heat Wave
- Earth Power
Cresselia's partner in crime, Heatran was a very important member of this team. With Cresselia eliminating Heatran's Water and Ground weaknesses and hitting hard vs. Fighting-types, Heatran was a tank that was nearly impossible to KO and was able to effectively wall a majority of my opponents. Heat Wave is fairly self explanatory on this set, as its ability to deal spread damage was worth the lower accuracy in my opinion. I chose Earth Power as my secondary attacking move because of the coverage it provided and its ability to do damage to Tyranitar once I had eliminated Sand. I do not regret my choice in attacking moves, and it very rarely was a problem that I could not hit for enough damage or the right type, as sun-boosted Heat Waves deal heavy damage even to Pokémon that resist them. Protect was an obvious choice on this set, as I often needed Icy Wind support in order to set up effectively. Substitute was the last slot on this set and was absolutely crucial. The ability to wall Garchomp with Heatran is amazing, and with only one weakness and a boatload of resistances Heatran is a pain to take down even without Substitute, let alone firing off Sun boosted Heat Waves while walling everything that comes its way. Blocking Thunder Wave was also very nice as it allowed me to set up against opposing Cresselia. I chose Chople Berry originally just to test as it seemed like a good choice, however it is an item I never saw fit to change. Heatran took plenty of Fighting attacks and having Chople Berry as a safety net was incredibly useful.
The EVs are a bit specific. Heatran has enough Defense and HP to survive max Attack Hitmontop Fight Gem Close Combat and still have enough HP to pull off a Substitute afterwards. I ran enough Speed to outspeed most Hitmontop, and still be one point slower than Cresselia so that Sunny Day would activate before Heat Wave. Heatran was also able to outspeed most Pokémon after Cresselia's Icy Wind and Sub to block threatening attacks. The rest I put in Special Attack, with 4 in Special Defense for good measure. Some players previous to Worlds had been advising me to remove EVs out of bulk and add them to Special Attack so that I could hit harder. However the bulk was very necessary. Against Sejun I was able to survive his max Attack Life Orb Garchomp Rock Slide and his Modest max Special Attack Cresselia's Icy Wind (twice) and still have my Substitute survive. It is important to remember that when using the Skill Swap combo with Heatran that he loses his immunity to Fire, so often times after you have KO'd the Earthquake user it may be worth it to Skill Swap Flash Fire back if fighting a Pokémon such as Volcarona for example.
HuMetabou (Thundurus) (M) @ Electric Gem
EVs: 196 HP / 204 SDef / 108 Spd
Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk)
- Thunder Wave
- Hidden Power [ice]
Forgive me everyone, for this is about as standard as you can get. Thundurus is a Pokémon that I absolutely despise fighting against due to its ability to Paralyze my entire team. I was sick and tired of bulky Thundurus walking all over my team, so I decided to carry a specific counter. Despite searching through countless terrible ideas, the only solution I could find to the Electric jerk was a Thundurus of my own specifically EV'd to outspeed every other Thundurus while still retaining a majority of its bulk. In discussing the spread with Metabou we (he) decided that this spread, which can take Timid Latios Dragon Gem Draco Meteor 13/16 times and outspeed and Taunt other Thundurus first was worth the small loss of bulk. The moves here are unfortunately not very special either. I went with Electric Gem Thunderbolt because both Sitrus Berry and Leftovers were taken. Taunt was for opposing Thundurus, countering Trick Room and easing prediction. Thunder Wave was used because I am a hypocrite, and also because I like the Speed support as only Cresselia has a way to control Speed outside of Thundurus. Hidden Power Ice was very useful, although I only used it vs. Sejun to KO his Garchomp in Worlds, in practice however I found it to be very helpful. Thundurus was one of the only things that I could use when fighting against Latios, as Paralysis coupled with Terrakion was my main method to beat it though that still involved sacrificing one of my Pokémon.
Ironically, the few Thundurus I saw at Worlds weren't bulky at all -- they were offensive. The amount of fast Thundurus I saw with Substitute was surprising, and often times my own Thundurus could not perform his role due to me not accounting for the presence of offensive Thundurus in the metagame. Despite my general dislike of Thundurus, I will say he performed his role well. I did not bring him often, but he was never deadweight. Whether he was Paralyzing everything, or Taunting defensive Pokémon in order to ease prediction, or KO'ing Garchomp with Hidden Power Ice, he always supported the team in some way even if it wasn't what I intended.
BREAKDANCE (Hitmontop) (M) @ Chesto Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 84 Def / 156 SDef / 4 Spd
Careful Nature (+SDef, -SAtk)
- Fake Out
- Close Combat
- Stone Edge
Now we get back to the more fun aspect of this team. I have had plenty of people come up to me or message me stating that they really do not understand the point of Resto Chesto Top, or why I used defensive Top, or how my Hitmontop is bad and I should feel bad. And those people may be right, Resto Chesto Hitmontop might be a terrible idea. On its own. However, on this team Hitmontop was incredibly valuable. And that is because I didn't use him for a glass cannon powerhouse who puts offensive pressure on the foe. Instead, Hitmontop was used primarily for Intimidate and Fake Out support. One of my favorite leads was Cresselia/Hitmontop. Turn one my opponent would protect in order to burn Fake Out, and I would switch immediately into Heatran and Skill Swap before the foe knew what hit them. I could then bring Top in again next turn and have my opponent at -2 Attack on both Pokémon, another Fake Out, and even more BREAKDANCE! Intimidate was crucial in ensuring certain attacks could not break Heatran's Substitute, such as Tyranitars Rock Slide. Now that we've covered the theory behind why I decided to use bulky Hitmontop, lets get to the more confusing aspects of this set.
Fake Out I have already explained the purpose and the theory behind. Close Combat was the next attack I chose, as I almost never stayed in after using it and with its bulk I was able to switch out quite easily. My team was built to switch around nearly every turn if possible so Close Combat's drawbacks were never an issue. I had decided that Sucker Punch was bad and was not worth my time, so I opted for Stone Edge as my secondary attacking move. Stone Edge is a move I am not particularly fond of, as the low accuracy made it quite unpredictable. However when I attacked with Hitmontop I was generally setting up KO's for a partner or wearing down Pokémon, and due to my already low attack stat, I opted for more power in my moves rather than my EVs. And finally, the move that everyone has been wondering about, REST! Rest was a very important move on this set. When I would switch in Hitmontop late game he would often have low HP, and my opponent would Protect, knowing that at this stage in the game he could not afford to take Fake Out and my partner's attack. This allowed me to heal off all my damage and, more importantly, gain a psychological advantage over my opponent, allowing me to use Fake Out in real life. This team was also able to abuse the timer, as rather than complain about it I decided to recognize that the timer could end more games than my own Pokémon could, and Rest was able to restore enough HP that when my opponent stalled to win the game on timer, they ended up losing due to Rest. In order to understand why I used this Hitmontop set and spread, you need to have a more holistic view of my team. The EVs were very specific as well, allowing me to live a max Special Attack Timid Latios Dragon Gem Draco Meteor, Psyshock, or Psychic, to give you an idea of the amount of bulk I had.
KinderSwag (Exeggutor) (F) @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 28 Def / 236 SDef
Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk)
- Power Swap
- Leaf Storm
The star player of this team, Exeggutor is one of the biggest threats I have ever seen. For those of you who don't understand how he works, his strength lies in his ability: Harvest. Harvest is an ability which, at the end of every turn, has a 50% chance to return the Berry you are holding if you have already used it (this becomes a 100% chance in the Sun). This gives Exeggutor a potentially unlimited amount of Sitrus Berries. Not so bad right? But it's an Exeggutor, so it should be easy to OHKO, right? Except not. With enough Defense to take a STAB Super Effective Crunch from max Attack Adamant Tyranitar and enough Special Defense to take a Timid Latios Dragon Gem Draco Meteor, Exeggutor is a monstrous tank.
Alright, so it has good bulk and can heal HP, but it's still not so bad right? All you need to do is fight it like you'd fight a Gym Leader's Pokémon -- get it into the upper green HP range and KO from there, right? Wrong! Because Exeggutor's moves are sure to give you trouble. With no Special Attack EVs, Exeggutor still OHKO's almost every Politoed and Rotom-W out there with the sheer power of Leaf Storm. Exeggutor has the same base Special Attack stat as Thundurus or Zapdos, and with 140 Base Power STAB Leaf Storm can tear holes in anything it hits.
Alright, so its got great bulk unlimited recovery, AND good offensive presence, but this still isn't so bad, you can still KO it once it gets into the high green range. Except that's where Exeggutor's last move comes in. Power Swap is a move that switches all changes to your Special Attack and your Attack stat. Namely, if Leaf Storm drops your Special Attack to -2, you can immediately go and pass that to a foe who was trying to set up. Exeggutor can bounce Intimidates back as well as stealing Calm Mind, Swords Dance, and other setup moves. Power Swap also works through Substitute, which is huge in a Worlds metagame. With Power Swap lowering the foe's Special Attack and my own Intimidate lowering physical Attack, Exeggutor was a tank who won me nearly every game I brought him to, as well as both my Top 8 Matches and my final match of Top 4. I encourage anyone who doubts Exeggutor to try him out, you will not be disappointed. Exeggutor was a hidden gem that was the star player of this team, and his sheer bulk and team support coupled with the fact that most of my opponents did not know how to fight him gave me a huge advantage. He was great for switching, able to come into almost any attack and sponge the damage and heal it off immediately.
Wolfe Pack (Terrakion) @ Choice Band
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd
Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk)
- Close Combat
- Rock Slide
- Quick Attack
The members on this team are listed in the order that they we're added to the team. Terrakion was the last member and was the glue that held this team together. If you look at the other members of this team, the most attacking power I ran was 76 Special Attack EVs with the other four having either no investment in offense or very little. Terrakion was a sheer powerhouse who provided offensive pressure on a defensive team. To give an idea of how strong Terrakion is, his Close Combat does around 85 percent to standard Metagross. He OHKOs so many threats to this team, especially standard bulky Thundurus who loses vs. Hitmontop/Terrakion lead or Thundurus/Terrakion. Terrakion was an addition who tied together all the weaknesses of this team and handles them. X-Scissor OHKOs Latios, provided you can control their Speed, while Rock Slide handles Thundurus. Quick Attack pays off late game when paralyzed, and Close Combat destroys everything it hits. I was going to opt for a slightly bulkier spread but in the end decided that on a Pokémon like this power and speed is all I needed.
A Few Notes
- This is not a Sun team. Sunny Day was added as an afterthought. I do not have Charizard, I am not reliant on sun, and I did not intend to use Sun as much as I did. This team was not created with the intention of being a Sun team, nor was it finished with the intention of being a Sun team. It is not a Sun team.
- I only ran Protect on two of my Pokémon. I believe that switching is a far more valuable move than Protecting, especially on a defensive team like this. It was not my intention to not run Protect on many of my Pokémon, but I never really found I needed it.
- The entire team was RNG'd shiny in order to take advantage of the timer. Those extra three seconds came in handy when I won a game on one second. Keep in mind this was not a stall team nor was it designed to win only on timer. I was just aware that based on the way I play the game that games might end on timer with such a defensive team and I needed to keep that in mind while I was playing.
- I'd like to apologize to Ray Rizzo for our finals match. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to play up to the level that the finals and a rival as strong as he is call for. When we meet again next year in Vancouver, I hope to give him the kind of match he deserves.
- It is absolutely unfair to take full credit for this team. While I built it, I would not have come up with a majority of the ideas without help from my friends, whether it be through beating me over and over again or talking with me. I owe a majority of this team to the people who helped me create it. Please do not view me as some kind of genius just because my team was sub standard, without the help I received my team would have been as boring and ineffective as they come.
Synergy + Combinations
Heatran and Cresselia are the most obvious combination with excellent synergy on this team. Heatran traditionally has three weaknesses: Ground, Water, and Fighting. This team was created with the intention of eliminating Heatran's weakness to Ground-type attacks, so after a Skill Swapped Levitate Heatran has two remaining weaknesses. Except, when Cresselia uses Sunny Day, Heatran's weakness to Water-type attacks is virtually removed until Sun runs out or the weather is changed. With only one remaining weakness and an unreal amount of resistances coupled with Substitute and a remarkable amount of attacking power in sunlight, Heatran and Cresselia can tear through unprepared teams who rely on only Water- and Ground-type attacks to defeat Heatran.
However, Heatran has a few flaws. His one remaining weakness, Fighting, is omnipresent thanks to the popularity of Fighting Gem Hitmontop. Fortunately, between Heatran's Chople Berry and Heatran's Defense and Speed investment, designed to out speed most Hitmontop and KO first or deal heavy damage coupled with a strong attack from the partner and still live a Fighting Gem Close Combat AFTER a Substitute, Fighting-types generally don't last long when the user of this team is playing to eliminate them. Cresselia's Psychic typing aids Heatran in eliminating pesky Hitmontop, further adding to the strong synergy between the two. The only remaining flaw in Heatran is its unfortunately low speed, especially versus offensive teams that invest heavily in Speed and the attacking stats. However, thanks to Cresselia's last move, Icy Wind, and its ability to lower the Speed of both of the foes at once, Heatran is able to continually move first thanks to Cresselia's remarkable support. After an Icy Wind, Cresselia will move before opposing Garchomp and Skill Swap levitate onto Heatran before Garchomp can Earthquake the little fire doggy.
On paper, Thundurus and Heatran do not seem to support each other especially well in their typing or bulk, but in practice I found quite the opposite to be true. In testing Heatran, I found that he performed most effectively when he was able to move before the opponent, bluffing an attack versus a low HP foe, forcing a switch, and setting up a free Substitute instead. However, as mentioned previously, Heatran's speed is relatively average and although with enough investment he is able to get a jump on the slower, bulkier side of the metagame, he can struggle with hyper offensive teams and the fast, consistent damage they are able to deal. That's where Thundurus comes into play. By this point everyone is aware of what bulky Thundurus is, how it works, and how annoying it is to fight against, however most Thundurus that I have fought against seem to Paralyze not for Speed control but for the 1/4 chance of immobilization. On this team, Paralysis plays a different role. Thanks to Thundurus' Prankster ability, his Thunder Waves receive +1 priority. This means that, in almost all situations, Thunder Wave will be the first attack used in its Speed bracket. With Thundurus slowing down its opponents, Heatran can find ample time to set up a Substitute while your opponent struggles to prevent Thundurus from spreading Paralysis around their whole team.
I mentioned previously how most people should know how much of a pain bulky Thundurus is to fight, and I speak from experience. While slowing down the opposing team is incredibly useful, it is utterly pointless if my entire team is paralyzed in return. Which is precisely why this Thundurus supports Heatran and the rest of the team so well. With enough investment to outspeed nearly every opposing bulky Thundurus and Taunt to stop enemy Thunder Waves, Thundurus allows me to remain on the offensive while retaining the bulk I require. Lastly, due to Thundurus' item, Electric Gem, its first Thunderbolt will do solid damage to anything it connects with. When coupled with Heatran's high Special Attack stat and STAB Heat Waves, many threats are KO'd before they realize what has happened. Heatran and Thundurus provide offensive power to a defensive team and allow me to continually keep pressure on my opponent.
What? What kind of synergy analysis is this? In writing a section on Hitmontop, I realized that he literally supports every other member of this team very well. As I mentioned earlier, I used Hitmontop primarily for his Intimidate ability and Fake Out. I also mentioned that in order for this team to be used effectively, switching is absolutely crucial. Hitmontop played a very unique role on this team as he allowed me to bring in the Pokémon I needed to at the correct times through Fake Out and Intimidate. Hitmontop had a crucial resistance to Rock-type attacks and helped the rest of the team deal with Tyranitar and other pesky Rock-types. Hitmontop was able to help Heatran's Substitutes live through physical attacks such as Rock Slide without breaking, which proved to be extremely valuable several times throughout the tournament. He was also able to help Thundurus and Terrakion (who were frail on the physical side) survive longer and deal heavy damage to the opposing team. Intimidate was also able to be Skill Swapped around and reset every time. There were several times where I would switch in Hitmontop and Skill Swap the same turn, automatically dropping my opponents to -2. In building this team I invested primarily in the special defensive side when creating my EV spreads, nearly every Pokémon (including Hitmontop himself) had higher Special Defense than Defense, however this was never an issue since I was able to switch around my bulky Hitmontop with such ease.
The Hitmontop/Terrakion duo was a favorite of mine when I wanted to apply offensive pressure and remove threats early on. Due to Terrakion's decline in popularity since 2011, I felt a large number of people were not as solid on their damage calculations, thus it would not be immediately apparent that I was Choice Banded. Hitmontop/Terrakion was an especially solid lead for eliminating one of my biggest threats: opposing Thundurus. I enjoyed using this lead as a quick way to remove opposing Thundurus from the game early on, double targeting with Fake Out and Rock Slide for an easy KO. This strategy was risky, though, as if the partner decided to attack instead of Protecting or flinching, I could lose my Terrakion. Fortunately, Hitmontop's Fake Out and the fear of being 2HKO'd by Terrakion forced my opponent into Protecting. Intimidate also helped support Terrakion survive a hit so I could conserve Terrakion for late game clean up.
Haven't I seen this somewhere before? This combo was a popular lead in 2011, and the modifications made to their sets allow it to work just as well in 2012. This particular lead was designed to eliminate bulky Thundurus as quickly as possible. I would use my own Thundurus to Taunt before the foe could paralyze my Terrakion and follow up with a Rock Slide KO. While this lead was primarily used to deal with Thundurus, it had other uses as well. Thundurus was the second fastest Pokémon on my team next to Terrakion, and if it could hit for Super eEfective damage, it could often times KO. This pair provided early damage to a foe that they often times could not recover from. Thundurus/Terrakion was also a very effective combo to get luck on my side. If I chose to target a Pokémon with both Rock Slide and Thunder Wave, its odds to attack that turn would not be very high.
While I mentioned earlier that Hitmontop supported every member of the team, I feel he should be mentioned again here. When I decided to use Exeggutor in a battle, I typically brought him in the back with the goal of eliminating his threats and allowing him to sweep late game. Hitmontop and Heatran were essential in performing that role. Exeggutor's weaknesses to Fire, Bug, Ice, Poison, Flying, Ghost, and Dark are all resisted by Heatran, while Hitmontop resists Poison, Bug, and Dark. With Heatran eliminating the threats to Exeggutor and Hitmontop providing crucial Intimidate and Fake Out support, foes frequently lost their only ways to check Exeggutor and not realize it until it is too late. On the flip side, Exeggutor resists all of Heatran's weaknesses and can easily switch into any threatening attack and sponge the damage. Between Heatran, Exeggutor, and Hitmontop every single type is resisted at least once, and these three form the core of my defensive oriented team.
Moral of the Story
If there is one thing I hope you will take away from this, it is that you do not need to run standard to do well. Often times having a creative ace in the hole allowed me to fight my way out of losing situations. While I wasn't able to give my best in the finals versus Ray, I'm still proud of the team and what I was able to accomplish. If those matches were your only introduction to this team, I advise you to take another look at the team as those matches were something of an anomaly. Overall, it performed exceptionally well in Swiss and in top cut, and I hope to have another shot at the title next year in Vancouver. I would like to thank everyone who supported me, from everyone who spent their time RNG'ing my mons just because I wanted them shiny, to the people who battled and beat me countless times and forced me to build a team that could actually work and everyone who supported me throughout the whole process, you know who you are. Without your support, I never could have gotten as far as I did.