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Kicking Up a Storm: 2012 Worlds Masters 4th Place Team Analysis

blog-Iris_Excadrill_Focus_Blast.png

Hi, everyone. My name is Joe Pulkowski (Wolfey).

At Worlds, I ended the Swiss rounds at 4-2, losing only to Ray Rizzo and Matt Coyle, and then defeated Matt in the top 8 round before being defeated by Ray again in the round of four. To achieve these results, I used a team focused around setting up an Excadrill sweep and abusing my defensive synergy. It looked like this:

The Team

tyranitar.png

Tyranitar @ Chople Berry

Adamant

252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpDef

-Rock Slide

-Crunch

-Superpower

-Protect

Tyranitar was the glue that held this team together. Its main purpose was to keep Sand up for Excadrill and take Special hits thanks to Sand's 50% boost to Rock-types' SpDef. Most of this set is pretty obvious, Rock Slide and Crunch are Tyranitar's two best STAB moves, Chople Berry allows me to survive Fighting-type attacks for a turn and the EVs maximize Tyranitar's Attack while also adding to its overall bulk.

One thing I did differently from most other people is using Superpower over Low Kick. During the Smogon Premiere League season 3, Len (Alaka) showed me Superpower and ever since I haven't really missed Low Kick. While the drops to Attack and Defense can be annoying, I find myself switching in and out a lot anyway so I wasn't really bothered by that. Mostly, though, Low Kick just didn't hit the things I wanted it to hit hard enough. For example, some notable  things Superpower hits harder than Low Kick are Hydreigon, Scrafty, Excadrill, Ferrothorn and Scizor. Hitting these threats harder was more than worth the drawbacks for me.

excadrill.png

Excadrill @ Life Orb

Sand Rush

Adamant

228 HP / 252 Atk / 12 Def / 12 SpDef

-Earthquake

-Rock Slide

-Protect

-X-Scissor

As I mentioned at the top, this team was largely focused on setting up an Excadrill sweep. With its Ground/Steel typing granting it immunity to Thunder Wave, a Dragon-type resistance and neutrality to Ice, Excadrill makes a surprisingly durable sweeper. Add to that Sand Rush doubling Excadrill's Speed and the fact that Sand is, in my opinion, the easiest weather to keep up and Excadrill can be a very threatening sweeper.

To help Excadrill sweep, I maximized its Attack and gave it a Life Orb, allowing it to lay waste to anything that doesn't resist its attacks though I often ended up killing or coming very close to killing my own Excadrill off of Life Orb recoil. Earthquake and Rock Slide are excellent complementary attacks and X-Scissor gives me a way to hit Cresselia, who usually can't do much of anything back.

I usually saved Excadrill for the late game to make sure it was at full health to begin the sweep, but occasionally I did switch it in to take a Dragon- or Ice-type attack aimed at Salamence early on. Choosing to base your team around an Excadrill sweep has a large impact on the rest of your team. For example, Earthquake is going to be your go-to attacking option so you'll have to stock your team with a healthy amount of Levitate Pokémon and Flying-types to protect them. Also, Excadrill requires you to run Tyranitar which immediately doubles you up on Fighting- and Water-type weaknesses as well. These are all things to think about when choosing the next members of your team.

salamence.png

Salamence @ Dragon Gem

Modest

4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd

-Draco Meteor

-Fire Blast

-Protect

-Substitute

I used this Pokémon in almost every match. Salamence is by far my favorite Intimidate user, partly because it isn't affected by opposing Intimidates. On top of that, Salamence and Excadrill have excellent defensive synergy with Salamence resisting all of Excadrill's weaknesses (and all but one of Tyranitar's weaknesses) and Excadrill resisting Salamence's Dragon-type weakness and only taking neutral damage from Ice-type attacks. Salamence's Intimidate also helps weaken opposing Ground-types and makes Fighting-types like Hitmontop less threatening to the core.

Much like Excadrill, this Salamence is EVd to be a sweeper, maxing Special Attack and Speed to hit first and hard. Draco Meteor and Fire Blast are obvious partners with Fire Blast taking out any Steel-type not named Heatran that would otherwise resist Draco Meteor. I've always felt that Salamence's fourth moveslot is up for grabs, so I used Substitute to help with Bisharp, who would love to get a Defiant boost off of my Intimidate, and other Sucker Punch users. I felt that Draco Meteor and Fire Blast gave me enough offensive coverage as it was, so I could go slightly move defensive in my last move choice for Salamence.

gastrodon.png

Gastrodon @ Rindo Berry

Modest

252 HP / 236 SpDef / 20 SAtk

-Earth Power

-Muddy Water

-Ice Beam

-Recover

Gastrodon was my only other non-Levitating non-Flying Pokémon after Tyranitar. Because my strategy was to sweep with Excadrill, having to worry about hitting my own partner with Earthquake was not something I was okay with. However, Gastrodon's Storm Drain ability more than made up for that risk, redirecting Water-type attacks away from my Water weak Pokémon and boosting itself. Because Gastrodon's purpose was mainly to protect my other Pokémon, it's EVd very defensively, with max HP and just about max SpDef to ensure that I survive everything I need.

I had considered running Protect over Muddy Water in case I had to leave Gastrodon out with Excadrill, but I never really found myself in that position during testing. In the end Muddy Water's extra coverage and ability to hit both of my opponent's Pokémon made it the superior option for this team.

rotom-heat.png

Rotom-H @ Fire Gem

Modest

244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 Spd

-Over Heat

-Thunderbolt

-Protect

-Hidden Power (Grass)

Rotom-H was a last minute addition to the team. After some practice matches with Kamaal (FonicFrog) and discussion about his Sand team, which featured Rotom-H, I began practicing with Rotom-H and liked what I saw. Defensively Rotom has some great synergy with Excadrill and Salamence, being immune to Ground-type attacks and resistant to Ice.

I went with Hidden Power Grass in order to hit enemy Gastrodon hard, as Gastrodon currently hits everything on my team for Super Effective damage, but ultimately Garchomp turned out to be more of a threat. I would consider running Will-o-Wisp or Hidden Power Ice instead of Grass to better cover Garchomp were I to run this team again. Still, Rotom-H performed well during the tournament despite this miscalculation.

cresselia.png

Cresselia @ Sitrus Berry

Calm

100 HP / 100 Def / 108 SAtk / 100 SDef / 100 Spd

-Icy Wind

-Psychic

-Light Screen

-Hidden Power ???

So just to address the elephant in the room, this was supposed to be a Hidden Power Fire Cresselia, but I accidentally brought the Cresselia I used at Nationals instead. You can imagine my surprise when I used Hidden Power against Flame's Metagross in Round 2 of Swiss only to see that it was not very effective! I also wouldn't recommend using this particular spread as I ran out of time before I could finalize and EV train my Cresselia.

Now that that's out of the way, here are the reasons I would use this Cresselia. First and foremost, it Levitates, letting Excadrill spam Earthquake; it resists Fighting-type attacks and hits back super effectively with Psychic; and it has Icy Wind, allowing me to control Speed and hit Dragons like Garchomp and enemy Salamence hard. Light Screen also helped bolster my relatively weak Special Defense and make life even more difficult for my opponents. For an offensive team like this, Light Screen and Reflect are excellent support moves. They allow you to have similar bulk to the bulkier teams that became popular after Nationals but still hit at your maximum offensive power. Given the metagame's shift towards special powerhouses like Latios and Hydreigon, Light Screen was the natural choice.

Conclusion

In the end, I was a little disappointed that so many of my decisions were last minute. While many of them were probably the correct decisions, the team still needed more fine tuning, especially with respect to my EV spreads and my Cresselia. Still, I managed to make it to the top 4 in my first Worlds and only lost to two players, Ray and Matt, and only Ray came out of it the tournament with a winning record against me.

Fortunately, Worlds has taught me to be more prepared so that I am playing at the top of my game every time. Next time I won't be at a disadvantage of my own making and look forward to the upcoming season.

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


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      Good morning/night to all! Thank you in advance for checking this. 
      I would like some help in the battle spot Singles, with my team. Ive always played 6vs6 singles. I became a competitive trainer in the 5th gen and now Id like to play in VGC.
      But before that I want to climb the ladder in singles for old times sake hahah and like get more accustomed to the meta (I was kind of absent in competitive play since 2012 until now, 2016. Gosh those are many years xd.) I know Singles and doubles are two different worlds but right now I want to focus on Singles and Rotations. Without further ado here are my stars:
      Charizard @charizardite X
      (Jolly, 252att, 252spe,4spdef)
      -Dragon Claw
      -Flare Blitz 
      -Dragón Dance
      -Roost/Thunderpunch
       
      Landorus T@Rocky Helmet (/assault vest/leftovers)
      Impish,252hp,252Def,4att
      -Earthquake 
      -Stone Edge/Rock Slide
      -Stealth Rock/Knock Off
      -U turn/Superpower 
       
      Greninja @life orb
      Naive, 252spatt,252spe,4att
      -Gunk Shot
      -Grass knot
      -Ice beam 
      -Dark pulse 
       
      Suicune @leftovers 
      Calm,252 hp, 252 Def, 4spdef
      -Scald 
      -Calm Mind 
      -Rest 
      -Sleep Talk
       
      Cresselia @sitrus berry(/rocky helmet, leftovers,???, light clay?)
      Bold, 252 hp, 160 Def, 92 spdef
      -Psychic 
      -Moonlight 
      -Lunar dance
      -Thunder wave
       
      Lucario @lucarionite 
      Jolly,252att,252spe 
      -Close Combat 
      -Iron Tail 
      -Extremespeed
      -Swords Dance 
       
      It would be good to say that I play a bit stubbornely (does that word exist? Hahah I actually speak spanish) in the way that I really focus on using the mons I like. I dont care that much about using the most OU mons only, but I believe this team has a nice balance in my faves and strong competitive ones as I like them all a lot (newfound love in the Orange lion too) As well as an interesting type sinergy. My thing is that besides types, I gotta put as priority how good is their moves and roles sinergy.
      It is a very straight forward team. Physical Sweepers in Luke and Zard, Greninja kills fairies, dragons, and almost anything lol he is sweep support for the team. If I need something, Gren has it. Landorus is somewhat a physical attacker and wall, nice coverage and typing that. Charizard, Greninja and Landorus are my main guys. They were the ones I beat the Super Singles 50 battles with. 
      Suicune is plain ol' crocune. Calm because that is how I caught it in oras xd. He has a helpful water attack plus is just crocune, it is great. It has saved me many times. Cresselia is a supporter and tank. Plus she is a second life for sweepers courtesy of Lunar dance. Levitate helps too. Lucario is my secondary mega and my favorite pokemon. And is one of my three fave megas along Char X and MSceptile.
      I was thinking about putting MSceptile instead of MLucario as it fills some holes like killing Mega Slowbro (thus Thunderpunch in Zard, but I guess it doesnt help much) and well thats all hahah.
      Start the arguments!
       
       
    • To Room or Not to Room
      By Deyul
      That is the decision.
      Hello everyone. This is my first time truly trying to go hardcore with a competitive team since Nationals of 2013. I've been following the top Pokemon and strategies in the current meta and I finally found a team that I liked for myself. I've been practicing with it for a while now and getting used to everything.
      Without further ado, here is my team:

      Smeargle @ Focus Sash  
      Ability: Moody  
      EVs: 252 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Dark Void  
      - Follow Me  
      - Wide Guard  
      - King's Shield  
      I already knew that Smeargle was super useful in this meta, but using it myself has taught me that even more. It has the staple moveset that you would see, however I picked King's Shield over Spiky Shield. The reason for this is simply because of Kangaskhan and Talonflame. (More so the former) If Kang chooses to FO into Smeargle - which they usually do - the attack drop could end up being a bigger help than damage, and the same goes for if a Talonflame tries to pick off Smeargle with Brave Bird or otherwise.
      Smeargle seems to be known for its usefulness with Dark Void. However, I've found myself using Follow Me and Wide Guard more with this team. Follow Me keeps Smeargle's partners from taking too much damage or even fainting and becomes extra useful if it has gained an evasion boost. Wide Guard helps block off a lot of attacks from the Primals mainly, such as Precipice or Origin. Kinda weird that a lot of people don't seem to expect it. In the case that I am using Dark Void the speed EVs can be helpful for getting mine off before an opposing Smeargle's. Thankfully Smeargle usually either gets a speed drop or is just not as speedy in general, and doesn't get super affected by Trick Room.

      Cresselia @ Sitrus Berry  
      Ability: Levitate  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 SpD  
      Bold Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Helping Hand  
      - Magic Coat  
      - Trick Room
      Cresslia is basically the backbone of this team. Decide to go with Ferrothorn and Groudon? Trick Room's here to help them get that damage out first, and some Helping Hands to boost their damage. Helping Hand of course also helps out with Kangaskhan and Kyurem's damage as well, and Trick Room can be used to possibly counter another team's TR. Magic Coat is great for bouncing back pesky taunts, or maybe even a Dark Void if I really need to. Ice Beam is there just in case Cresselia does get taunted.... or if it can finish off another Pokemon on its own and a teammate doesn't need help at the moment.
      The bulk + Sitrus Berry helps keep it alive, which it needs to be in order to be any bit of useful. However, people seem to be going for attackers more in this meta than the support mons.

      Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite  
      Ability: Scrappy  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe  
      Adamant Nature  
      - Fake Out  
      - Return  
      - Power-Up Punch  
      - Sucker Punch  
      Ah yes. The most over used mega, and for good reason. I've chosen Return over Double-Edge mainly for the survivability and the fact that if Return doesn't kill the target a Sucker Punch most likely will. Power-Up Punch over Low Kick? What am I thinking?! Simply: Smeargle. Two hits from a P-Up Punch is enough to kill one that doesn't have a defense boost, and it gives +2 Atk in the process. I also use it on opposing Kangs at times, and then Sucker Punch them into fainting.
      I run Kangaskhan as a lead more often than just having it in the back, at about a 99% rate honestly. This is mainly because Fake Out on other people's leads tends to be a helpful choice. That is, unless they have Quick Guard or one of the shields..... or just double protect.
      (I couldn't seem to get the Kyurem-White art to work?)
      Kyurem-White @ Life Orb  
      Ability: Turboblaze  
      EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe  
      Timid Nature  
      IVs: 0 Atk  
      - Ice Beam  
      - Dragon Pulse
      - Fusion Flare  
      - Earth Power  
      Kyurem is my main power house in a non-Trick Room setting. Most Primal Groudons can't handle a single Earth Power thanks to Life Orb, and if they can't they won't survive a second hit from much. Fusion Flare gets rid of Ferrothorn no problem. Dragon Pulse and Ice Beam are great tools for taking out anything else, especially if it would do neutral damage to a target that already has some of its HP missing. I also chose Dragon Pulse over Draco Meteor mainly because I was worried about the Sp. Atk drop affecting me when I needed to Earth Power a Groudon.
      Even in a Trick Room setting it can be useful. Usually its partner (most often Groudon) will take out anything threatening to it before it can be hit, and it can do damage to the remaining mon. Or.... it could just be a huge target to be taken down, leaving said partner alone to safely wreak havoc.

      Ferrothorn @ Leftovers  
      Ability: Iron Barbs  
      EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD  
      Sassy Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Leech Seed  
      - Gyro Ball  
      - Power Whip  
      - Protect  
      Ferrothorn felt like a bit of a staple in a Trick Room setting. Gyro ball gladly takes out targets like Xerneas and Kyurem-W no problem. Power Whip is the team's main way of dealing with Primal Kyogre, even if it's just scaring it into switching for a while. It also does decent enough damage to anything it may switch into.
      While I don't seem to be using it much, Leech Seed is there for healing and slowly picking off Pokemon. Pair this with Protect and Ferrothorn will happily heal up. Heck, it heals up nicely even with just Leftovers. Protect is also just useful for blocking attacks such as Eruption, but honestly there haven't been too many fire type moves used. At least... there haven't been in my experience.

      Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb  
      Ability: Desolate Land  
      EVs: 252 Atk / 128 Def / 128 SpD  
      Brave Nature  
      IVs: 0 Spe  
      - Precipice Blades  
      - Rock Slide  
      - Fire Punch  
      - Protect  
      And here we are, at possibly the #1 (or #2?) most used Pokemon this meta: Groudon. I've chosen a pretty basic set of moves, but it works. Precipice Blades decimates opposing Groudons and heavily damages opposing Pokemon. (Those who can be hit by it anyway) Rock Slide takes care of pesky levitaters and fliers such as Salamence, and flinches can be a god send in Trick Room. Wide Guard or Protect causing me problems, or just a single Pokemon left? Fire Punch is a hard hitting alternative to its other chance-to-miss moves. Protect, as always, is super handy for avoiding certain attacks while Groudon's partner removes the threat or even just to scout.
      I've chosen the attack and bulk EV set as I like to call it. 95% of the time I find that it takes out other Groudons, and either KO's or heavily damages other Pokemon as well. The bulk sadly can't protect it from water type attacks, but from full health it can survive a Precipice Blades from an opposing Groudon. (Most of the time, anyway.) While it can't always handle an Earth Power, it has once or twice. It all depends on the enemy's build.
      Now, for the Pokemon I'm having trouble with:

      These two are the only problems that I've run into more than a handful of times, and thankfully they aren't ALWAYS a problem, but it's definitely annoying.
      Certain Kangaskhans - mainly ones with Low Kick (so, the majority of Kangs) - tend to do heavy damage to practically all of my team. While I think a lot of this stems from the plays made in general it happens more often than I'd like.
      Landorus seems like something I'd be able to easily take care of. However, there are certain builds - namely the speedier ones - that can absolutely destroy some of my Pokemon. Superpower makes Kangaskhan and Kyurem cry, and usually when I have Kyurem against one.... the Landorus is speedier. Rock Slide also hurts (more for flinches) if I'm not using Trick Room.
       
      Well... that's basically everything about the team. If you have any questions, suggestions, or both please let me know and I'll be happy to respond.
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