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Published on October 8th, 2012 | by Joe P.

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

Hi, everyone. My name is Joe Pulkowski (sandman), and I recently placed top four at this year’s 2012 Video Game World Championships. To qualify for Worlds, I placed second in the United States Video Game National Championships, losing only to two-time US Masters National champion Wolfe Glick (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
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
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
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
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
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
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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