Published on December 29th, 2014 | by kingdjk13
A Different Garchomp: NorCal Regionals 3rd Place Team Report
Hi, I’m Demitrios Kaguras, and I managed to place 3rd at the San Jose Regional Championship. I was very happy with this, considering it was my first tournament as a master. I’ve been working on basically the same team since February, so I’m glad I had some success with it. I’ll talk about the team first, then go over the games I played throughout the tournament.
Origin and Evolution
When I first created this team, I was completely new to VGC. I just saw a few Pokémon next to each other in my box, and decided to take them to my first regional.
This was my first VGC team ever, and I took it to the Seattle regional last Spring. It consisted of Mega Garchomp, physical Chople Berry Tyranitar, Liechi Berry Talonflame, Thunder Wave/Taunt Gyarados, Focus Sash Alakazam, and Light Clay Klefki. At the time, I didn’t know that Mega Garchomp was generally considered inferior to its non-mega counterpart, and I didn’t really have a justification for using it. I somehow managed to get 2nd place in the Senior division with this strange team, but I still wasn’t satisfied with how it performed. I did not like Klefki at all, and Alakazam never seemed to carry its weight, even with a focus sash. I loved Mega Garchomp though. I edited the team a bit, using some more standard Pokemon.
I swapped Klefki and Alakazam for Substitute Leftovers Aegislash and Choice Specs Gardevoir. I also changed Tyranitar to a Dragon Dance Lum Berry variant, and gave Talonflame a Life Orb. These changes were made to adjust to the metagame, which I was finally beginning to understand, while still keeping the original type synergy of the team. I used this version of the team through US Nationals, up until Worlds LCQ, where I made another change.
Life Orb Substitute Chandelure took Talonflame’s spot, and I gave Aegislash a Weakness Policy. After removing Talonflame, I came to realize how much I missed its powerful priority Brave Birds. I lost in the first round in LCQ, partly due to my DS freezing, which was very disappointing. I still won a couple side tournaments with the team and had a lot of fun with it. But, after Worlds, I decided the team still needed improvement.
I got rid of Chandelure and went back to Talonflame right away. I also changed Gyarados to Choice Scarf Staraptor to help with my poor Rotom-Wash matchup, and to take out Pokémon like Garchomp if they were causing trouble. I also gave Tyranitar a mixed Weakness Policy set, and changed Aegislash’s item back to Leftovers. I honestly liked Aegislash better with Weakness Policy, and only changed it due to item clause. I changed Garchomp from solely physical to mixed with Draco Meteor. This was the team I used against my friends and online until the night before regionals, where I made another last second change.
This was the final version of the team that I brought to regionals.
Ability: Sand Veil
EVS: 20 HP/ 208 Atk / 28 SpA / 252 Spe
Mega Garchomp is my favorite mega in X and Y, and my favorite to use competitively. I used a mixed set due to the huge amount of Intimidate and Will-O-Wisp in VGC. The EVs allow it to survive Modest Zapdos HP Ice 100% of the time and Modest Mega Manectric HP Ice 68.7% of the time. It also gives it a bit of additional overall bulk. This came in handy during one of my matches in Swiss, where I won with 3 HP left on my Mega Garchomp. It can also survive weaker Ice Beams from Pokémon like Politoed. The Special Attack basically allows it to OHKO all relevant dragons, besides Goodra, all the time. Some bulkier Hydreigons have a chance to survive, but this hasn’t been an issue so far. I maxed out speed to speed tie other Garchomps and outspeed all base 100s before or on the first turn of mega evolving. Even if I lose the speed tie with other Garchomp, I can take a Dragon Claw and KO back. The rest of the EVs were dumped into attack, to really give that Sand Force boosted Earthquake some power. Mega Garchomp has worked really well for me. Most people assume Tyranitar or Gyarados to be my primary mega when they first see the team, so Mega Garchomp gives the otherwise standard team a surprise factor. Those prepared for a regular Garchomp’s Earthquake are surprised when it mega evolves and picks up two KOs with Earthquake that a regular Garchomp could never have achieved. Its Earthquake is one of the most powerful spread attacks in the game, and that’s what I try to take advantage of.
208 Atk Sand Force Mega Garchomp Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Mega Mawile in Sand: 164-194 (104.4 – 123.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
Mega Garchomp packs a punch, and backs it up with solid bulk and a respectable speed. This Pokémon is the star of the team, no doubt.
Tyranitar @Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 100 HP / 252 Atk / 40 Def / 68 SpA / 48 SpD
– Rock Slide
– Ice Beam
Tyranitar has always been a reliable member of my team, and I love how many different sets it can run. Special Tyranitar has been popular lately, but I prefer a more physically-focused one. This Pokémon is scary after a Weakness Policy boost, even when Intimidated. Ice Beam takes out Garchomp and Salamence, and can KO Hydreigon at +2. On this team, Tyranitar also had the role of setting up sand to activate Garchomp’s Sand Force. I chose a Brave nature to boost Attack without compromising Special Attack, since Speed wasn’t that important for Tyranitar. I honestly don’t remember what the EVs were designed to survive, but the point was to help Tyranitar take hits easily and get the great Weakness Policy boost. Weakness Policy allows Tyranitar to get some surprise KOs, which helps a lot, especially in combination with Mega Garchomp’s power. I did not lead with Tyranitar Garchomp very often, due to some bad synergy between the two, but they were both used in almost every battle, since I love Sand Force boosted Earthquake. Tyranitar also helps against rain, which is really important considering rain’s surge in popularity
+2 252+ Atk Mega Tyranitar Crunch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 178-211 (98.3 – 116.5%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
If Kangaskhan tries to set up with Power Up Punch, I can gain an easy KO on fast sets.
Surprise KOs are always nice, especially in best of one games. Weakness Policy is obviously a lot less effective in best of three, but I still thought it was a really good item choice, and fit Tyranitar really well. Tyranitar’s great bulk, huge amount of weakness, and its ability to go mixed makes it the perfect candidate for this item, and I thought it worked really well. Overall, Tyranitar was a Pokémon I brought to almost all of my matches, and every time it did its job well.
Talonflame @Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 64 Def / 12 SpA / 176 Spe
– Brave Bird
I really love using this Pokémon. The pressure it can apply with priority Brave Birds is great, and its Fire typing was also very helpful. I initially had Flare Blitz, but changed it to Overheat after seeing it at Worlds. This was definitely a good choice, as Overheat can take down things like Ferrothorn without recoil damage. This happened during one of my swiss matches, where it came down to my 3 HP Talonflame vs. a full HP Ferrothorn. Talonflame’s Flying type was useful as well, allowing it to dodge Garchomp’s Earthquakes and KO any fighting types or switch in on Fighting-Type moves threatening Tyranitar. Taunt was used as a filler simply because I did not have Taunt on the team. I feel like Taunt is a really strong and necessary move, and I wanted it somewhere on the team. It can stop Trick Room and prevent Will-O-Wisp users from threatening my powerful physical attackers. Talonflame’s EVs allow it to outspeed Kangaskhan’s Sucker Punch, and to survive Life Orb Brave Bird from other Talonflame and KO back. Overall, I’d say Talonflame is my favorite Fire Type in the VGC ’14 metagame. It was a very valuable member of this team, and I brought it to almost all of my battles.
EVs: 248 HP / 20 Atk / 28 SpD / 212 Spe
– Dragon Dance
This mega was a last-second choice. I bred and trained it the night before regionals after bouncing ideas around with my friend the day before. It was put on the team because I didn’t feel that Staraptor was reliable enough. I also wanted the flexibility of two megas. I chose Gyarados because I felt it worked both in and out of mega form. I could bring both Gyarados and Garchomp to one match and choose which to mega evolve depending on the circumstances of the match, since both Pokémon could work well in their regular forms as well. I also wanted something on the team that could set up, since none of my other Pokémon had boosting moves. Since my team already revolved around a strong Earthquake user, levitate was nice to have. The only problem was that, after mega evolving, Gyarados’ Earthquake was not dodged by Gardevoir’s Telepathy. Thankfully, I was never in a situation where this caused problems for me. The moves are standard, and I don’t remember the purpose of the EV spread to be honest. I built this at the last minute, so I didn’t write down explanations for the EVs, but the spread seemed to work well. Gyarados also brought Intimidate support to the team, which is pretty important.
Ability: Stance Change
EVS: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 140 SpA
– Shadow Ball
– Sacred Sword
– King’s Shield
This is probably my least favorite Pokémon on the team. Despite this, it still played an important role. It had a crucial Steel typing, which I like to have on all of my teams. It also has a pretty favorable matchup against standard Kangaskhan, and it had good synergy with the rest of my team. Ghost typing helps with Tyranitar’s Fighting weakness, and Steel allows it to switch in on Ice attacks aimed at Garchomp. My Aegislash is a standard Substitute variant with Sacred Sword. I like Aegislash’s overall awesome bulk and power. I’ve used Weakness Policy Aegislash in the past, and I honestly preferred it to this set, but I felt a Weakness Policy on Tyranitar was more important. The EVs allow for a 2HKO on Kangaskhan with Sacred Sword. One thing to note is that my Aegislash’s speed IV is not zero. There are certain situations where I would much rather have a faster Aegslash than my opponent. I know that if my full HP Aegislash takes on another full HP Aegislash it will most likely lose, but I like knowing that rather than being urged to take the risk with the speed tie, and I can KO other Aegislash that have prior damage before they can hit me. Otherwise, this is your standard Aegislash. It completes the Steel-Fairy-Dragon core that you see a lot of in VGC ’14. It did its job and helped in my top 8 match and during one of my swiss battles, but it was still my least used Pokémon.
Gardevoir @Choice Specs
EVs: 196 HP / 164 Def / 84 SpA / 60 SpD / 4 Spe
– Dazzling Gleam
– Energy Ball
Gardevoir is my Fairy Pokémon of choice. I love the power of its Choice Specs boosted attacks. It isn’t hindered by intimidate, which is really important since a lot of my team is physical. Dazzling Gleam is a very strong spread move, and Psychic helps especially against Mega Venusaur. Energy Ball was added as a very niche move, and it helps deal with Rotom-Wash. Moonblast was used to secure a OHKO on Garchomp. The EVs allow for Gardevoir to survive a 252+ Attack Choice Band Talonflame’s Brave Bird, but also OHKO Salamence with a two-target Dazzling Gleam. Gardevoir fit very well onto my team. Fairy typing is key, and Telepathy allowed it to dodge Garchomp’s Earthquake. With Telepathy, I had three different Pokémon that could switch in when my Garchomp used Earthquake. This allows me to move to a favorable position while still being able to deal massive amounts of damage with Garchomp. Gardevoir could also switch in well for Tyranitar due to its double fighting resistance. One of my favorite positions to be in is to have both Mega Garchomp and Gardevoir on the field with sandstorm up. They can dish out so much damage between Dazzling Gleam and Earthquake. I initially debated using Choice Scarf instead, but I preferred the damage output Choice Specs brings to the table.
From the start, there was a specific way I liked to use the team. I would dish out damage and take out threats to Garchomp, with my foes not knowing that it would Mega Evove. When the opportunity arose, I would mega evolve my Garchomp and KO some unsuspecting Pokémon. I have had multiple battles where my opponent had what looked like an easy victory with a 4-1 lead, but I was in a position where Garchomp could KO all four of my opponents Pokémon. Players would identify their win condition, but no one took into account the possibility of Garchomp going mega. This did not always work, of course, as I could easily make bad predictions and lose the way to my own Mega Garchomp win condition. I also struggled a little in best-of-three matches, since my opponents knew Mega Garchomp was coming after game one. This is why I added Mega Gyarados, giving me some more options.
Identifying the Mega Evolution’s Win Condition
Team preview was very important for me. I would look at my opponents team, and see what I had to do in order to get my mega Pokémon into a good position, whether it be winning a weather war for Garchomp to take advantage of Sand Force, taking out that Rotom, or whatever else I had to do. If I saw a very unfavorable matchup, I would bring Gyarados and try to get into a position where I could set up Dragon Dances.
Talonflame was very important to the team as a whole. I mainly used it as a way to pressure certain foes, forcing them to Protect or to switch. I could pin down my foes and put them in unfavorable positions. A well played switch into Talonflame can change the flow of a battle immensely. Take my round 8 match for example. I had a Garchomp encored into Protect and a Gyarados against a Azumarill at max attack, but in Brave Bird range, and a Raichu. I protected Gyarados from a double target, and brought Talonflame in safely, pressuring the Azumarill. He protected Azumarill, but I attacked Raichu, getting the KO.
Playing Safe and Mind Games
I rarely make super crazy predictions that can make or break a game. Whenever I make a risky play, I try to back it up well enough so I feel I can come back if it goes as wrong as possible. Of course, there are some situations where this isn’t possible. Sometimes, it all comes down to mind games, like whether or not someone will use protect. This is part of why I lost my semifinals match. In game two, I predicted and protected well with my leads. But game three, I ran into the exact same situation. This is what would be called a mind game. I did not know what to do. It was 50-50. Do they go for the same move, or do they predict me predicting that and actually do something else? What if they predict me trying to predict them trying to predict me and they make the right move? What if I predict at too high of a level and make an error? In the end, there were only two moves, but no way to know for sure which one to choose. It felt more like a luck-based decision to me. There wasn’t really a way to know what to do, and I did not have reliable switches. I ultimately made the wrong decision, and they made the right one, and that’s part of why I lost that match. I try to avoid mind games whenever possible, and I try to play it safe. I only make risky predictions when necessary. In my round 8 match, I used Waterfall and Brave Bird on my opponent’s Mega Tyranitar, knowing even if he Protected, I’d still have Mega Garchomp to finish up. (I did not take into account Wide Guard on his Aegislash, but I’ll talk about that later.) Making safe plays allowed me to win in the most reliable way.
I loved having a slow Tyranitar because I would always have the weather advantage against Politoed. Charizard-Y could be handled easily with some switching, and hail was never a problem. This meant I was battling in my weather most of the time. My team did not revolve completely around weather however. It had a type of weather mode, with one Pokémon being dedicated to setting up sand, and one to abusing it. My other Pokémon could function well in and out of sand. I like to have multiple options available and choose my game plan at team preview.
My notes only included what my opponents had and what they brought, so sorry about my lack of in-depth information. Sorry if you’re mentioned and I don’t have your name.
I was sort of scared at team preview, because this looked like a really strong team. I felt pretty confident with my matchup, however. I knew I wanted Talonflame for Conkeldurr and Amoonguss. Garchomp would be able to do quite a bit of damage as well. Tyranitar could deal with Chandelure and set up sand, and Gardevoir could take out Amoongus, Conkeldurr, or Hydreigon. Gyarados and Aegislash didn’t look as useful, so I didn’t bring them to the battle. My opponent did not bring his Kangaskhan or his Amoonguss. Early into the match, my opponent switched Conkeldurr in on a Brave Bird. He also missed a Draco Meteor, but I don’t think that mattered.
WIN (Record is 1-0)
This was a very close match. I’m not entirely sure which Pokémon I brought to the match, but I know I brought Tyranitar and Garchomp. My opponent brought Gardevoir, Staraptor,Tyranitar, and Garchomp. Early in the battle, my opponent’s Gardevoir used Ally Switch, which caught me seriously off guard and messed with my thought process. At the time, I didn’t know Ally Switch had Priority, so I thought he was holding a Choice Scarf and would switch, but I was completely wrong and misplayed a bit. My Garchomp took a Rock Slide and a Crunch from the +1 Tyranitar throughout the battle, and won me the match with 3 HP remaining. It was my last Pokémon. I was really thankful I invested those 20 EVs in HP, or I probably wouldn’t be writing this right now.
WIN (Record is 2-0)
I remember my opponent saying that he hadn’t been to many events, so that put me at a bit of ease. I told him I had taken second at an event last year, and he started to say that there was no way he would win. But, judging by his record and team, he was at least a competent foe. I played extremely well for most of this match, making perfect reads. But when I had the game locked down, his ferrothorn Critical Hit my Garchomp after it and Talonflame took a hit from Heat Wave. My Talonflame managed to survive that turn with 3 HP, and it was my last Pokémon. But, all that was left was the full HP Ferrothorn. My opponent asked if Iron Barbs activated before or after Ferrothorn was KO’d. I told him before, and he got pretty excited. Thank god for Overheat.
WIN (Record is 3-0)
I was really surprised to see a team like this make it this far. One word popped into my head as soon as I saw team preview: Talonflame. Talonflame could OHKO Everything besides Aegislash, barring Focus Sash. I think I led Tyranitar and Talonflame, breaking sash with Sandstorm, and then proceeding to Brave Bird his team to death. I won against his team of Vileplume, Machamp, Aegislash, and Weavile rather quickly, and I was relieved to have some time to relax before round 5.
WIN (Record is 4-0)
Round 5 vs Daniel C.
The first opponent I actually recognized. I remembered using Rock Slide to flinch his Mawile and winning in top 8 at Seattle Regionals last year. It was really cool to see a fellow first year master doing well. This was the first battle where I brought Mega Gyarados, in order to hit Rotom and Hydreigon. I set Gyarados up and used Earthquake a lot to win. I was really happy to see my last-second choice do really well, as I may not have been able to win otherwise. Mega Mawile was scary as always, and this was actually the first one I had seen so far.
WIN (Record is 5-0)
Round 6 vs Mitchell
I don’t remember this guy’s last name, but he was a nice guy and I talked with him and his friend a bit throughout the tournament. At a side event the day before, I had lost to him, so I was feeling really nervous right away. I saw the team and expected Trick Room right away. I was feeling good about taunting with Talonflame and letting it faint, then letting Mega Gyarados and Garchomp Earthquake through the rest of his team. Turn 1 went really well, just as planned. I used Taunt on Gardevoir, mega evolved and used Dragon Dance with Gyarados, and brought in Garchomp after Talonflame was KOd by Mega Tyranitar’s Rock Slide. I was really sure Earthquake from both of my Pokémon would take out his. This didn’t happen. I was so nervous this far into the tournament, and I was not playing as well as I could have. I didn’t take into account the fact that Gardevoir probably had a Sitrus Berry, and that Tyranitar would have a lot bulkier of a spread than Dragon Dance ones. Both of his Pokémon survived with a sliver of health each, and both of my Pokémon fell. I was crushed.
LOSS (Record is 5-1)
Mitchell and one of his friends gave me some words of encouragement before this match, and it actually helped a lot. I went into this match confident. I was up against a sun team. I was prepared for this matchup. I was extremely nervous at this point, more than I probably have ever been before. I knew that I just had to get my sand up, and I should be able to win. This match turned into a huge weather war, with lots of switches. It was a really long battle. But, I felt I was in control the whole time. I knew that I’d be able to seal up victory if I didn’t miss a Rock Slide at the end, and thankfully, I didn’t. After winning, I tried to take the cap off of a pen to mark the match slip, but I couldn’t. My hands were so sweaty… I realized that I now had only one more match to win. It was do or die.
WIN (Record is 6-1)
Round 8 vs Andre E.
This video pretty much shows it all. The match was cut off, but I won it. I was unbelievably nervous at this point. I had never been streamed before, and did not want to fail in front of everyone. But, I recognized the team and it looked like I could win it. When I made the switch to Talonflame, I thought I had it sealed. Azumarill was pressured, Mega Garchomp was ready to come back in and finish the game. It looked great. But when Aegislash used Wide Guard, my heart skipped a beat. I still felt confident however, as I had Draco meteor. But then it missed. My heart skipped another beat. I thought everything was over. I decided to stall and bank on my opponent going for Rock slide and missing. I had a chance to take out Tyranitar, but missed it. I was never expecting him to go for another Dragon Dance when he almost had the game sealed up. Anyway, I was still hoping for justice. Rock Slide had to miss, and thankfully it did. I ended up having just slightly more HP than my opponent’s Aegislash did, so I won. I was heading for top cut!
WIN (Record is 7-1)
Top 8 vs Colten L.
I really don’t remember these matches very well. I know I won game one, and lost game two, so game three was really intense. My spirits were crushed as I instantly lost my Talonflame to Scald on a switch, and I still had to deal with Ferrothorn. But I managed to battle back and take down Ferrothorn with Mega Garchomp’s brute force. This set was really fun to play, and I was beyond relieved when I emerged victorious.
WIN (Set was 2-1)
Top 4 vs Shreyas R.
It all finally came to an end here. Part of this was due to nervousness, and part of it was because my opponent played games two and three really well. I took game one, as Shreyas used Kangaskhan and Jumpluff. I knew this combo really well, as I had tried it out online before. I knew about Rage Powder, Helping Hand, Encore, and Sleep Powder already, so his surprise did not work against me. Games two and three, Shreyas brought Mawile and Hydreigon instead, while I led Talonflame and Tyranitar. Game two I predicted well, protecting Talonflame from Hydreigon’s attack and Ice Beaming Hydreigon while Mawile protected. But I played the rest of the game badly, ultimately losing to Azumarill and Rotom-Heat. Game three, I was far too nervous when met with the same lead matchup. What was I supoosed to do now? Does he expect me to make the same moves as last time? Or should I predict that? It felt like more of a random decision than a mind game, and I played it wrong. There might have been something I could have done, but I was too nervous to play at my prime. I lost rather decisively.
LOSS (Set was 1-2)
Closing Thoughts on Tournament
I had a lot of fun throughout the entire tournament. It was fun to make it so far and do so well. I’m looking forward to future events where I can carry this momentum to some more good performances. On a personal level, I have to work on my nerves, as it was affecting my play farther in the tournament. The tournament ran pretty well overall and I had a blast getting to do what I love and do it well. GGs to everyone.
Closing Thoughts on VGC ’14
I am going to miss this format. It was the first VGC format I played seriously, and I really liked it. The breeding changes are what really got me in to competitive play this generation. I enjoyed the limited format, as there were a lot less things to prepare for, making teambuilding easier. I really liked watching the metagame evolve. Mega evolution spiced things up quite a bit, and I really loved using a mega that wasn’t considered viable. Even the absence of move tutors was kind of nice. The metagame was really fast paced, with the major threats being hard hitters like Kangaskhan and Mawile. We’ll probably see more defensive playstyles next year, with Pokémon like Cresellia back. Speed control had quite the absence though, and I’m looking forward to using Icy Wind next year. This was my favorite format, probably since this is the first VGC format I’ve played seriously. Despite all this, I’m looking forward to playing VGC ’15 next year and doing the same thing all over again.
If you made it all the way through, thanks for reading! I hope you all enjoyed my report.