Published on September 22nd, 2015 | by MattDorrell


Rise to the Kabutops: A 10th Place UK Nationals Report

How’s it going, Nugget Bridge?  My name is Matteo ‘Matt’ Dorrell, and I’ve been playing VGC since March.  I built a team on Pokémon Showdown and won a tournament there, so I bred the Pokémon in game. The team then got me close to a 1800 rating on Battle Spot. As a beginner I was quite proud of what I had achieved with this team, so I decided to really test its mettle at a real competition: UK Nationals in Manchester.


When I first built this team, I had in mind a certain move: Rock Slide. Many people consider it to be the best move in the game, so I wanted to find a suitable user of it. I first considered the ubiquitous Landorus-Therian, but I came to think of it as an extremely overrated Pokémon. Many opposing teams had Bisharp or Milotic to counter Intimidate, and Landorus-T just didn’t seem to have enough power to pick up the KOs I needed. I then switched to Terrakion for additional power, but I found that it was easily hit by a status move or knocked out entirely; I tried Aerodactyl too, but it played much like Terrakion. Finally, I found Kabutops, one of the coolest looking Pokémon available. Even though its stats were fairly average and its typing wasn’t great, I found a way to use its strength and make my team work.

Kabutops @ Life Orb
Swift Swim | Adamant
196 HP / 252 Atk / 60 Spe
– Waterfall
– Rock Slide
– Low Kick
– Protect

  • OHKOes 4 HP / 0 Def Landorus-T with Waterfall at -2 Attack in rain half of the time
  • OHKOes 252 HP / 0 Def Sylveon with Waterfall in rain most of the time
  • OHKOes 4 HP / 0 Def Heatran with Low Kick
  • OHKOes 140 HP / 0 Def Thundurus-I with Rock Slide
  • Withstands Jolly Landorus-T’s Superpower most of the time
  • Withstands Adamant Mega Kangaskhan’s Low Kick

Kabutops’s Swift Swim doubles its Speed in the rain, allowing me to delegate most of its EVs into HP instead. With minimal investment, it hits 216 Speed after the boost, handily outpacing every common Pokémon in the metagame. Kabutops’s power is impressive, knocking out many threats with a rain-boosted Waterfall. The flinch chances of its STAB attacks also come in handy in tight situations. Kabutops also helps out greatly against Japanese sand, as it gains a ton of Special Defense and can take out Tyranitar and Excadrill in a single hit. I had considered Knock Off over Low Kick, but I would have lost a very significant coverage option.

Politoed @ Choice Scarf
Drizzle | Modest
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Scald
– Ice Beam
– Rain Dance
– Encore

As the only legal Drizzle user, Politoed makes it onto the team for obvious reasons. Scald and Ice Beam are two very useful attacks; the former provides crucial chip damage that allows Kabutops to snag OHKOs on Zapdos, Aegislash, and Cresselia, while the latter takes out annoying Grass-types and Mega Salamence. Rain Dance gives Politoed a good surprise option against Mega Charizard Y and Tyranitar, allowing me to keep the weather in my favor; being Choice-locked into Rain Dance isn’t a huge issue, as Politoed typically wants to switch out to preserve Drizzle anyway. I chose Encore over Hydro Pump in the last slot to pick up an advantage against Fake Out users; this didn’t really work out in practice, so I probably should’ve used Helping Hand instead to make Kabutops even more of a monster.

Talonflame @ Choice Band
Gale Wings | Adamant
4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Brave Bird
– Flare Blitz
– U-turn
– Taunt

This set is pulled from Alex Ogloza’s 2014 US Nationals team. Talonflame just has an answer to everything; Trick Room, Tailwind, or sand up? No problem, priority Brave Bird takes care of every problem. Many people seem to have underestimated Talonflame, but it can turn a game around in the blink of an eye. The bird also handles Grass-types very well, threats that would otherwise doom this rain team. U-turn served as my counter to Perish Trap, but I rarely used it even when its intended use case occurred. Taunt was used as a last-ditch atempt to shut down Tailwind, Trick Room, or Aegislash, and it allowed Talonflame to occasionally masquerade as a Life Orb variant.

Manectric @ Manectite
Lightning Rod / Intimidate | Timid
4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Thunder
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power Ice
– Protect

Looking at the team so far, all three Pokémon are weak to Electric-type moves. Most opponents wouldn’t think twice against bringing Thundurus against this team. Manectric allowed me to handily disrupt those plans with Lightning Rod, redirecting those attacks and picking up a nifty Special Attack boost in the process. Thunder dealt tremendous amounts of damage, especially after a boost, while Thunderbolt gave me a more consistent backup option. In retrospect, I should’ve used Flamethrower instead of Thunder, as I faced many sun teams and did not get many chances to actually hit targets with the stronger move.

Ferrothorn @ Rocky Helmet
Iron Barbs | Sassy
252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Power Whip
– Gyro Ball
– Curse
– Protect

  • OHKOes 252 HP / 212+ Def Sylveon with Gyro Ball at +1 Attack
  • OHKOes 252 HP / 164 Def Rotom-W with Power Whip at +1 Attack
  • OHKOes 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan with Gyro Ball at +1 Attack after recoil damage

You might notice that this Ferrothorn is extremely specially defensive; I realized that Rocky Helmet and Iron Barbs would deter my opponents from using contact moves (mostly physical) against Ferrothorn, so I EV’d it to take the special attacks that would be inevitably thrown at it. In lieu of Attack investment, I put Curse on the set. It ended up being a great choice, as Ferrothorn was typically given free reign to boost while Kabutops and Politoed knocked out opposing Fire-types. After a single boost, Ferrothorn becomes extremely powerful, knocking out several common threats. It’s always a great feeling when Ferrothorn switches in on a Mega Kangaskhan’s Fake Out; however, as you’ll see shortly, skilled players can sometimes make a smart prediction for a free attack.

Serperior @ Leftovers
Contrary | Timid
252 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
– Leaf Storm
– Glare
– Taunt
– Protect

While Serperior might seem like an odd choice for the final spot, it covered several holes in my team. I needed a powerful special attacker, but I also needed a secondary Taunt user to deal with Trick Room and some form of Speed control. With Contrary, Serperior could take advantage of opposing Icy Wind and Snarl while boosting itself with Leaf Storm. Taunt allowed me to prevent Tailwind and Trick Room without forcing Talonflame to lock itself into it, while Glare provided much-needed paralysis support (and even had the bonus of being able to hit Ground-types). I invested into HP and Speed to allow Serperior to take hits while boosting up, as well as allowing it to outpace Thundurus.

Day One (Swiss Rounds)

Anyone who attended the UK Nationals will tell you that the tournament was an unorganised mess and had us all loitering around for 3 or 4 hours before any games even began.  Although for everyone else this was a nightmare, it gave me the opportunity to make new friends who supported me all weekend, despite never having met me.  I think the confidence boost this gave me had a part to play in the events that were to follow.

Game 1 – Sergio Marcos

His team:

[mini name=gengar-mega][mini name=lopunny][mini name=azumarill][mini name=amoonguss]([mini name=landorus-therian][mini name=thundurus-therian])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]

Seeing his team, I thought Kabutops could do what he does best, as long as I could get rid of the Amoonguss with a Brave Bird and the Azumarill with Thunder.

He led off with Gengar and Lopunny, and at the time I was pretty certain that his Lopunny was the Mega of the pair.  Expecting a Fake Out and Will-O-Wisp onto my Kabutops, I protected, and had Politoed target the Lopunny with a Scald.  As it turns out, the Gengar was the Mega as it sang the Perish Song.  *sigh*  Fortunately, I did predict the Fake Out correctly and left the Lopunny with only the tiniest bit of health or brought it down to its Focus Sash; it didn’t get knocked out, that’s for sure.  Politoed and Kabutops went down to Perish Song easily after the three turns, as I fell straight for the Eject Button Amoonguss.  Believing that the game was already over, my last two Pokémon, Manectric and Talonflame came out against what were his Mega-Gengar and Azumarill, which is when I started thinking.

His win condition was to get off another Perish Song with either Pokémon and to then stall out the last couple of turns with the two extra Pokémon he has in the back.  The obvious play here was to Brave Bird the Gengar and Thunder the Azumarill, so all he had to do was switch in Amoongus for Azumarill and Protect the Gengar, while following up with redirection and Perish Song.  Was I overthinking my situation?  I probably was, but my prediction turned out to be spot on, as Amoonguss went down easily to a Brave Bird, while Thunder went into Gengar to knock it out too.  Lopunny and Azumarill come out from the back, but now it was his turn to believe the game was all over.  This doesn’t mean that he didn’t put up a good fight until the end, as Lopunny used Fake Out on Manectric while his Azumarill went for the Perish Song.  As his Lopunny had gone down to Brave Bird, he was left with his Azumarill against an on-point Talonflame and an angry Manectric.  In a last ditch effort, Azumarill went for the triple Protect, but fortunately for me, only got the double.

Sergio Marcos ended making the top cut with a 7-2 record, coming 21st  overall, which is very impressive, considering he lost his first battle of the tournament.  Good game, Sergio!
1 – 0

Games 2 & 3 – Micky Orchard & Alex Monks

Although I definitely won both of these games by leading Politoed and Kabutops, my memory is almost blank.  I know for a fact that both players used a Mega-Kangaskhan and I succesfully lured both players into having them use Fake Out on Ferrothorn.  Not to downplay their efforts, I’m quite sure that both games were close even if turn one went my way both times.  Manectric won the game both times with Lightning Rod boosts and a lucky critical hit at the second game.  I’d have remembered if my opponents were nasty, so I can only assume they were absolutely swell people.
Looking at the standings, my eyes spy that they both narrowly missed making the top cut with 6-3 and 5-4 records respectively.  Good Game Micky and Good Game Alex!
3 – 0

Game 4 – Matteo Gini (Matty)

His team:

[mini name=charizard-mega-y][mini name=sylveon][mini name=landorus-therian][mini name=aegislash]([mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=heatran])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=ferrothorn]

Fancy getting a game against someone who shares my name!  As our names suggest, I got to speak Italian with him, which was a pleasant surprise.

He lead with Charizard and Sylveon, which I was comfortable with.  Having a strong suspicion that he would Mega-evolve, I had Politoed do his Rain Dance and protect with Kabutops.  Matteo did in fact Mega-evolve with the Charizard and had his Sylveon use Hyper Voice.  Politoed took a lot of damage, but didn’t faint.  Knowing that his Charizard was too valuable to him, he switched it out.  Kabutops really shone as he picked up knock outs on both Sylveon and Landorus-T.  I did also play quite recklessly as I did lose Politoed a little bit too early.  On the final turn, his Charizard was up against my low-health Manectric and Ferrothorn, with the sun up.  Manectric managed to knock out the Charizard in one hit with a critical hit, which Matteo said had mattered, as his Charizard was bulky enough to take a Thunderbolt from Timid Manectric.

The critical hit might have set Matteo back a bit, but he still made the top cut with a 7 – 2 record, finishing 13th overall.  Good Game Matteo!
4 – 0

Game 5 – Harry Aurime (Adaranoy)

His team:

[mini name=suicune][mini name=bisharp][mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=sylveon]([mini name=arcanine][mini name=sableye])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]

Looking at his team, I made the schoolboy error of not thinking about Suicune’s Tailwind, meaning I didn’t lead with either Serperior or Talonflame to taunt it away.  Instead I lead with Politoed and Kabutops again, seeing as no Pokémon on his team particularly scared me and I had been leading the pair in every game to great success so far, as he lead with Suicune and Bisharp.

This is when I realised that he could Tailwind and seriously diminish my chances of winning, even if I didn’t feel that threatened by his team.  I decided to have Kabutops Rock Slide and hope for the flinch on Suicune.  I was going to Scald the Bisharp but realised that the only play that would make sense for him would be to Protect the Bisharp, so I went for the Scald on Suicune just to get free damage off and maybe hope for the Burn.  Thankfully, Harry is a calm and gracious player, because two critical hits, a burn and a flinch on his Suicune meant that his game plan was probably set back by miles.  But it did not stop there.  He had Sylveon and Kangaskhan in the back, but neither could make a significant impact on the game as Kabutops got even more flinches with Rock Slide while Manectric paralysed everything it touched.

The loss here unfortunately set Harry back a lot, as he narrowly missed making the top cut with a 6-3 record.  I had a friendly rematch against him after I got knocked out of the contest.  The rematch was just as eventful.  Good Game, Harry!
5 – 0

Game 6 – Matthias Suchodolski (Lega)

His team:

[mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=rotom-heat][mini name=amoonguss][mini name=terrakion]([mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=milotic])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=ferrothorn]

Fun fact: When I was a kid, I was gifted Pokémon Gold Version in German, so that I could learn the language.  Being able to speak German at the Nationals with Matthias was another pleasant surprise.

Being ecstatic with what I thought would be an easy match-up for my team, I lead with my five-win-streak pair of Politoed and Kabutops, because they had done me proud so far.  Just like in games two and three, I kept Ferrothorn and Manectric in the back to lure in Fake Outs from Kangaskahn and electric-type attacks from Rotom-Heat respectively.  He lead with Kangaskahn and Rotom, which made me very happy.  If I could predict Matthias’ moves to a tee, I would win the game easily.  My plans however, fell apart from turn one.  Rotom switched out for Amoonguss, which was to be expected but his Kangaskhan became the first of the competition to use Fake Out on Politoed instead of Kabutops.  Ferrothorn came in, but I was already disheartened.  The game was still quite close, as Ferrothorn managed to set up enough turns with Curse to knock out quite a few Pokémon, including his Kangaskhan which was burned from a Politoed Scald the following turn and doing significant damage against Amoonguss.  With Terrakion and Rotom-Heat in the back, Ferrothorn struggled to not get knocked out in one turn.  Kabutops would have had free reign if I had bought Talonflame for the Amoongus.  I’d say this was my biggest mistake.

For 9 swiss rounds, Matthias impressively went unbeaten and came 5th overall.  Good Game Matthias!
5 – 1

Game 7 – Terence Dray (Ty Flowsion)

His team:

[mini name=reuniclus][mini name=staraptor][mini name=charizard-mega-y][mini name=scrafty]([mini name=breloom][mini name=sylveon])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=serperior][mini name=kabutops][mini name=talonflame]

The first thing that struck me seeing his team was Reuniclus.  I knew Reuniclus was a Trick Room setter, but I couldn’t even begin to guess what its defensive stats were.  My guess was that it was a slightly less bulky Cresselia with higher offensive potential.  His Reuniclus was level 49, which made me assume that it had to be able to outspeed something in Trick Room to presumably beat it, my guess was Amoonguss (turned out I was right).  I was tempted to lead Politoed and Kabutops again as an attack from both could knock Reuniclus out, especially if it had to compensate defensive EV’s for Special Attack to knock out Amoonguss.  But I saw other problems, namely Charizard-Y and Scrafty who could both severely hinder my plans to disrupt Trick Room.  I decided to lead with Politoed and Serperior, as Politoed could try getting a burn off on Scrafty or Rain Dance after Charizard Mega-evolves while Serperior could stop Reuniclus from setting up the Trick Room with Taunt.

Terence led with Reuniclus and Staraptor.  I hadn’t even really considered him leading with Staraptor.  In a moment of bewilderment, I used Taunt on the Reuniclus with Serperior as planned, but completely forgot about Staraptor being able to use Final Gambit.  I lost Politoed, meaning that I had already lost the weather war on turn one.  The battle wasn’t lost, because Kabutops had me covered with his Rock Slides.  I was also sure that Kabutops could outspeed his low Speed Charizard because I had prevented the Trick Room.  The only Pokémon Terence had in the back that could potentially cause me problems were Breloom and Scrafty, who were both easy pickings for Talonflame.  He switched in Charizard as my Kabutops came out.  Even if  I did lose my Politoed, I felt that I had the advantage.  Rock Slide was the most obvious move to go for with Kabutops, while I correctly predicted the taunted Reuniclus to switch out.  Charizard used Protect while Scrafty came in to a Glare from Serperior.

I didn’t know what to expect next, and I was also suddenly not so sure whether or not my Kabutops could knock out the presumably bulky Charizard, especially after the Intimidate and Fake Out from Scrafty.  I decided to play safely and switch to Talonflame.  I’d say that this was a misplay.  I would have been far better off stalling out the Fake Out with a double Protect and then switching, but I think I was afraid of the Reuniclus switching back in for the Charizard.  He fakes out the Talonflame and goes for the Heat Wave, putting Talonflame at about half health.  Knowing that Terence would risk too much with a Solar Beam prediction, I switched in Kabutops for Serperior.  I made Talonflame Brave Bird Charizard instead of Scrafty, just in case Scrafty should decide to do anything like Protect.  Having his Charizard at low health would also be good, as a Rock Slide from Kabutops would guarantee the knock out.

Then came the play that won Terence the game: his Scrafty using Quick Guard.  I did no damage that turn and his Charizard managed to get yet another Heat Wave off, knocking out Talonflame in the process.  Out of options, I knew I had to commit to trying to getting lucky with Rock Slide flinches and the chance of full paralysis.  My Serperior went for the Glare on the Charizard, but Terence switched it out for Reuniclus.  Scrafty either flinched or got fully paralysed, it didn’t move, that’s for sure.  Next turn, I knew I had to get rid of the Scrafty as it was the only immediate threat to Kabutops, so I had Serperior target it down with a Leaf Storm.  But the unboosted Leaf Storm was nowhere near enough to knock out the Scrafty.  Scrafty overcame the Rock Slide flinch and the full paralysis to knock out my Kabutops with the help of both Pokémons’ Life Orbs.  To add salt to the wound, the Reuniclus managed to set up the Trick Room, which decided the game.  Serperior did manage to get a knock out on Scrafty during the last few turns because of Reuniclus getting fully paralysed, but did not stand a chance against the Charizard in the back.

Using this win, Terence solidified his chances and made the top cut with a 7-2 record, coming 12th overall.  Good Game, Terence!
5 – 2

Game 8 – Reece Timms (ChicoMono)

His team:

His team:

[mini name=lapras][mini name=thundurus][mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=breloom]([mini name=sableye][mini name=landorus-therian])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]

It struck me as odd that I was paired with someone who was at a 4 – 3 record and as such, already out of the competition.  I would discover the reason later, but I did joke about bribing him to let me win.  Being such a kind-hearted guy, Reece said he wouldn’t mind losing and only planned to play for fun.  This did end up being quite a fun game as Reece brought an interesting team with him.  I didn’t struggle much in this battle, but I did have to do multiple double-takes when his Lapras dodged a Rock Slide from Kabutops, survived a Thunder from Manectric, and knocked Talonflame out with a Weakness Policy-boosted Hydro Pump.

Even though Reece was knocked out of the competition, he still finished relatively strong with a 5 – 4 ratio.  Good Game, Reece!
6 – 2

Game 9 – Yohan Pagonakis

His team:

[mini name=charizard-mega-y][mini name=thundurus][mini name=conkeldurr][mini name=breloom]([mini name=weavile][mini name=landorus-therian])

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]

Another fun fact:  At the same time that I was gifted a German copy of Pokémon Gold Version, I was also gifted Pokémon Red Version in French, with the exact same aim: to learn the language.  Being paired up against Yohan and speaking French with him meant that I had spoken a total of four languages in one day, which I wasn’t expecting.

Tensions were high along the 6-2 table, as everybody was mentally preparing for the battle that would decide their place in the top cut.  I didn’t know at the time, but Yohan is a veteran player, having gotten 15th place at the German nationals a couple weeks before.

I led Politoed and Kabutops as per usual and had Politoed do a Rain Dance, because he led with Charizard.  The game went pretty smoothly from there, because Charizard locked into Solar Beam allowing Kabutops to knock it out.  The game was decided when Talonflame picked up a KO on Conkeldurr at -1.  Good Game Yohan!
7 – 2

With this final win, I made the top cut, ranking 8th in Swiss being the highest ranked player with a 7 – 2 record, which explains why I was matched against Reece earlier.

Day 2 (Top Cut)

Arriving at the venue the next day, I seemed to be the only person who wasn’t tired.  I had only gotten a few hours sleep that night because of how late we had finished the day before.  Obviously pumped with adrenaline, I waited with my breath held as my first opponent for the day was to be decided.  As it turned out, I got a bye round for doing so well the day before, and some matches were going to be played by people further down the ranking to determine who would get a place at the top 32.  Some really big names made the top cut, but there was a particular big name that I definately did not want to get matched up against.

Top 32 – William Tansley (StarKO)

For my top 32 match I was matched up against William Tansley.  Like me, William made the top cut with a 7 – 2 win ratio, losing only to big names Arash and Sekiam.  The stage was set for Kabutops to prove it was no one-trick pony.  My first ever best-of-three match was about to begin.

His team:

[mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash][mini name=volcarona][mini name=landorus-therian]

Latios was the first Pokémon that struck me on Williams team.  This was the moment where I had wished I had Knock Off on Kabutops instead of Low Kick.  I would bring Kabutops anyway, because of Landorus-Therian and Volcarona being easy pickings for it.

Game 1

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn][mini name=manectric-mega]

He brought:

[mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]

At this point, I think you can easily guess what pair I lead with, but I should probably mention it anyway.  Politoed and Kabutops were going to be perfect bait for any Fake Outs from the Mega-Kangaskhan or Thunderbolts from Rotom-Wash, as Mega-Manectric and Ferrothorn were lurking in the back again.  Things went wrong from turn one.  Just like against Matthias the day before, William correctly had his Mega-Kangaskhan Fake Out Politoed while his Latios went for the Tailwind.  I decided it might be an idea to take the Tailwind to my own advantage, I wanted Ferrothorn to get a strong Gyro Ball off against Latios.  But on the other hand Ferrothorn would be at risk from the Kangaskhan.  I decided to switch Kabutops in as a sacrifice, which was the best play I could have possibly made, as he double-targeted it with Low Kick and Draco Meteor.  Politoed Scalded Mega-Kangaskhan and got the burn too.  I switched Ferrothorn back in, as I knew that it wouldn’t be taking that much damage from either Pokémon.  Knowing that one of his Pokémon would switch out, I had Ferrothorn use Curse.  Unfortunately it did take some damage from Low Kick.

The Rocky Helmet reveal was important for William, as he had in mind to burn Ferrothorn in future games.  Rotom-Wash came in next along with Latios returning.  Thinking he could get rid of Politoed quickly, I knew it was Manectric’s time to turn things around.  Gyro Ball from Ferrothorn did significant damage to Latios, almost knocking it out.  I wanted to stall out his Tailwind as well as my rain, so I could set it up again with Politoed in the back.  I needed Manectric to outspeed everything and launch those high-powered Thunders.  Protecting Manectric, I recall was also a fantastic play on my end, as William had identified it as a threat and double-targeted it.  This allowed Ferrothorn to hit the Rotom with a Power Whip.  The end of the game was easy as all I had to do was knock out the low-health Latios to stop it from setting up the Tailwind again, meaning that Aegislash was left to fight against my last three Pokémon.
1 – 0

Game 2

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn][mini name=manectric-mega]

He brought:

[mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]

A piece of advice that is often given to best-of-three players is to stick to what works if you win the first game and change things up if you lose it.  At first I thought William hadn’t gotten that particular memo, but he would soon prove me wrong.  If the first game was heavily in my favor, the second was completely in his.  I didn’t want to risk any more wrong Fake Out predictions, so I just made Politoed and Kabutops go for the Mega-Kangaskhan, as any damage was good damage.  This is possibly the only good play I made this game, because Tailwind became a real thorn in my side.  His entire team became unstoppable, as no Lightning Rod or Iron Barbs predictions could become a reality.  Aegislash sealed the deal for William as I could not read its movements at all.
1 – 1

Game 3

It was back to the drawing board for me from here.  William was not going to fall for anything that I had revealed anymore, I knew that much.  But on the other hand I had dominated the first game with the element of surprise.  This time I had one thing in mind: Speed control.  I had to stop him from setting up the Tailwind, but I needed a backup plan just in case that idea were to fail.  Time for Serperior to shine.  Or should I say Glare?

I brought:

[mini name=serperior][mini name=talonflame][mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops]

He brought:

[mini name=kangaskhan-mega][mini name=latios][mini name=rotom-wash][mini name=aegislash]

And so started the best game of the competition.

Talonflame and Serperior were to lead and double-Taunt the Latios, because I knew that having one of the pair be Faked Out was no big deal.  He decided to Fake Out Serperior, which was probably to be expected, but there was no Tailwind for him this time.  I might actually have gotten really lucky there, as there might have been a speed tie between Talonflame and Latios. Serperior was the definite hero this game as it started running circles around William’s team, Glaring and Taunting, Taunting and Glaring.  All the while Protecting at clever intervals to recover with Leftovers.  William did not go down easily however.  Although Serperior did go largely ignored, my other Pokémon had a hard time between trying to find a way to dent the correct Pokémon and not taking damage.  Talonflame however survived a Psychic from Latios to knock it out in one hit with Brave Bird.  Aegislash also failed to outpredict the combo of Politoed and Kabutops, going down easily due to Serperiors Taunt.  Mega-Kangaskhan and Rotom almost ruined the party as they had free reign because I had not taken Manectric or Ferrothorn with me.  The last turn came about and Serperior, with a Leaf Storm boost and at almost full health, was left against Mega-Kangaskhan and Rotom-Wash.  Mega-Kangaskhan had visible battle bruises, as it lay in low health almost from Double-Edge recoil damage alone.

I think tiredness and hunger must have set in, because I suddenly drew a complete blank on what William had on Mega-Kangaskhan.  For some reason I was convinced it had Power-Up Punch.  I was also convinced that he was going to predict me to Protect to get Leftovers recovery and so would Power-Up Punch his own Rotom to get enough fire-power to knock out Serperior in one hit.  I had to prevent this from happening.  If my prediction turned out to be wrong, I knew that the chance of me getting knocked out from on Double-Edge was very low (around 10%).  Even if that did happen, there was no way that Kangaskhan wouldn’t faint due to recoil.  Putting all my eggs in the snakes basket, I easily knocked out the Rotom with Leaf Storm.  The moment of truth came as Double-Edge hit Serperior.  Time itself slowed down as I watched the health bar fall down…

to 4 HP.

2 – 1

There was no way that this game could have been any more tense.  This was the only other game Serperior was taken to, having lost the first one against Terence.  Not only did Serperior redeem itself, it also won me the game almost single-handedly.  This was my favourite match of the tournament, and possibly the best match I’ve ever played in my admittedly short VGC career.

Great Game, William!

Top 16 – Arash Ommati (Mean)

If you had told me on the cold Friday morning when I left my flat to get to Manchester that I would be battling Arash Ommati, the former World Champion, for a spot in the top 8, I would never have believed you.  Here I was, with the matchup that I was fearing.

I looked at his team.  It was very familiar.  Aaron Zheng had been playing a variation of it on his Road to Ranked series that week.  Arash brought a Japan Sand team.

His team:

[mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=excadrill][mini name=aegislash][mini name=azumarill][mini name=amoonguss]

I tried to keep calm, because I knew Kabutops could thrive in this battle.  If I won the weather war, Kabutops could get off fast Rock Slides and seriously threaten the sand core of Tyranitar and Excadrill.  On the other hand if I lost the weather war, Kabutops could tank the Mega-Salamence, Aegislash, Azumarill, and although I didn’t know this at the time, his Amoonguss.  I figured that I should take Ferrothorn with me, as it doesn’t take Sandstorm damage and was also immune to Amoonguss.  As long as I could get a few boosts with Curse up, I would be safe.  Arash recognised my win condition: Knock out his Salamence, and Ferrothorn could carry the rest of the game.   I didn’t.

Game 1

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=ferrothorn]

He brought:

[mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=azumarill][mini name=aegislash]

In the first game I decided to lead with my trusted pair of Politoed and Kabutops with Ferrothorn and Manectric on the bench.  The idea was to hopefully find out whether or not Tyranitar was carrying a Choice Scarf, by bating out a Superpower.  Arash led with Salamence and Tyranitar, with Aegislash and Azumarill in the back.  Although I suspected as much, I was comfortable with the confirmation of Salamence being the Mega-Pokémon, as I knew Manectric could threaten it.

My memory has faded on the details of this game, but I remember feeling that I played terribly.  I remember Manectric getting knocked out early, but getting Azumarill to low health at least.  Politoed also knocked out his Salamence quite early on with an Ice Beam.  Arash must have been playing worse, because I won the game in the end.  It might have had something to do with the fact that Arash targeted my Ferrothorn with a Shadow Sneak from Aegislash and an Aqua Jet from Azumarill after Ferrothorn had set up a Curse.  I remember having a miss-click this game too, but nothing as game-deciding as his.
1 – 0

We took a break after the first game, so that we could both have a breather and a think.   The difference between a veteran and a beginner really showed during this break, as Arash thought about whether or not his Azumarill was really worth bringing instead of Amoonguss, while I ran around the venue looking for as many people as possible to tell that I was one game up against the former World Champion.  Now that I’m no longer a fledgling player, I now know not to make this truly obnoxious mistake again.

Game 2

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=talonflame][mini name=kabutops][mini name=ferrothorn]

He brought:

[mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar][mini name=amoonguss][mini name=aegislash]

In the second game, I thought that Arash had maybe identified his Aegislash as a threat to me.  Not wanting to have the same Aegislash-related problems that I had against William, I decided to lead with Politoed and Talonflame.  I fealt safe leading with Politoed because I had a suspicion that he would drop sand altogether.  I’m not sure what he led with, but I honestly felt that I was playing better this game than the last.  I won the weather war, as Kabutops made Arash do a double-take by surviving a Superpower from Tyranitar and responding with a Low Kick to knock the it out.  If Arash hasn’t been at the top of his game, I would have won, because Amoonguss putting all of my Pokémon to sleep really prevented me from doing any other significant plays.  Talonflame was also having a tough time, because it couldn’t find the perfect opportunity to Brave Bird his Amoonguss.
1 – 1

Game 3

I brought:

[mini name=politoed][mini name=kabutops][mini name=manectric-mega][mini name=talonflame]

He brought:

[mini name=amoonguss][mini name=aegislash][mini name=salamence-mega][mini name=tyranitar]

Click here to watch the third game!

I cringe every time I watch this game.  I still have no idea what I was thinking that first turn.  When Aegislash was targeted by Kabutops I heard Arash groan quite loudly, which means he must have been relieved when I did not double-target it.  Even if I did get the flinch on Aegislash, I would have been at an advantage if I played recklessly as usual, as Arash kept predicting me to play it safe.  I genuinely thought I was going to win when I got both the critical hit and the paralysis on Salamence, but I just couldn’t capitalise on it.  Having Flamethrower on Manectric would have also been useful, as Amoonguss would have given me much less problems.  I believe that the tiniest bit of bulk on Politoed would have also helped it survive the Shadow Sneak from Aegislash, which sealed the game in his favor.
1 – 2

Good Game, Arash!

The dream was over, but there was no way I could be bitter.  I was lucky to get that far in the first place and it was an absolute treat to get matched against Arash.  In the next round Arash faced Matthias and beat him.  This made me slightly disappointed at my loss as I would have really enjoyed a rematch against Matthias.  Arash got so close to winning it all, only to fall at the final hurdle, but his win against me had already solidified his place at the World Championships.  Hope to see you do well there, Arash!


As much as I love this team, I do have to admit that it relies a little bit too much on taking risks. I am happy about the fact that Kabutops proved to not be a one trick pony in best-of-three games. Does it need support? Yes, it does, but I still feel that it carried the team. Would I use it again?  Probably not. I assume that people will start to wise up about the prehistoric critter after reading this article, so it might possibly start seeing more use. Maybe someone could find an even better way to use it in the future!

I want you all to know that you should not be afraid of going to official events near you, because the Pokémon community is so welcoming to newcomers and I did not meet a single person I disliked. Neither should you be scared of bringing your favourite Pokémon, especially if you can find a clever way to use it. Who knows, you might even make it further than I did my first time.

Finally, I want to give some thank yous and shout outs to some people, because (and I don’t want to sound silly) I would not have made it that far without the praise and support of the people I met that weekend.

  • Matt Sheppard (KaSlaps)(high-fives galore), who was even more daring than me and top cut with a Kecleon, coming 35th overall.
  • Gareth Buckley and his friendly friend Lee (or Leigh), who would praise me like a god for using Kabutops and just being the most entertaining person at the nationals with his extraordinary plays (successfully reading a Zapdos Roost with an Earthquake).  Still trying to find you on Nugget Bridge, buddy!
  • Astronautical, who volunteered to make that really awesome artwork you see at the top.
  • Various people on Pokémon Showdown who complimented me on Kabutops and set my decision in stone to bring it with me to the nationals.
  • The lady at the stand who made the bacon butties which were a blessing between games.
  • Every single one of my opponents, for giving me great games and still being supportive and gracious after being beaten or when beating me.
  • Everybody I met at the nationals who I didn’t battle in the competition, including the people who went: “Oh, you’re THAT guy”, after I would tell them about my team.
  • Everyone who helped jog my memories of the event, as they were quite fuzzy at the time of writing.
  • And lastly you, for putting up with the ramblings of a novice and reading this article to the very end.

About the Author

24 Responses to Rise to the Kabutops: A 10th Place UK Nationals Report

  1. Socialgames says:

    Well done.You had an interesting team at nats and its really great that you won 10th place.Its not a shame of losing to arash ommati.

  2. XacerB8 says:

    Great team! Rarely see Manectric any more, props to you for pulling it off!

  3. KaSlaps says:

    Ayyy, it’s up!
    Great read, didn’t know your Kabutops did so much OHKOing of things!
    Thanks for the mention too!

  4. SamuelTemple2 says:

    I wished you could get the battle codes. I wanted to see the power of Kabutops in action at Nats

  5. MattDorrell says:

    I wished you could get the battle codes. I wanted to see the power of Kabutops in action at Nats

    I mean there’s the awful quality video of the third Arash game, but that’s about it for replay.  Unfortunately the video doesn’t do the ‘tops justice.

  6. KaSlaps says:

    I wished you could get the battle codes. I wanted to see the power of Kabutops in action at Nats

    Unfortunately you can’t save Battle Videos using the Live Competition system. You can keep the most recent battle video up until you start a new one in the Live Competiton.
    The only way to record them is either on camera (like Matt’s last one) or using a capture card + laptop.

  7. Unfortunately you can’t save Battle Videos using the Live Competition system. You can keep the most recent battle video up until you start a new one in the Live Competiton.
    The only way to record them is either on camera (like Matt’s last one) or using a capture card + laptop.

    I’ll just use Kabutops to get a taste of how awesome he his on Showdown

  8. Arcaninetails says:

    Kabutops is the tops of the Physical Swift Swimmers
    Great team! Great report! Good job!

  9. Astronautical says:


    This is an excellent report, and I love how in detail you go about each individual game. It was also really fun doing the art for this. Keep up the good work, pal!

  10. Therazer456 says:

    Great report to read and I’m glad I got to meet you at the event im that guy who might have told you about my gardevoir at some point. My memory of the event is quite fuzzy now.

  11. Thundershock1234 says:

    Brilliant report! Glad to see such a unique team get so high up at Nationals. Hopefully you’ll do well next year too 🙂

  12. Architeuthis says:

    Awesome team. Great to see the best fossil poke do well.

  13. Lega says:

    Finally your report is there! I do like to see, how you played your other games and I’m still very happy that I did not use Low Kick onto the Kabutops, you really do not expect a rock type to be only 40.5 kg light making it able to take that so easily. I think UK Nats is always full of surprising teams since many British actually actually prefer non standard strategies instead of the more common ones, which is why I always like to read reports from this event. Regarding that down-pairing stuff, I’m pretty sure that opponent’s win percentage does not influence the pairing so it was just random that you got a 4-3 in round 8, which fortunately didn’t matter at all since your resistance was great anyways.
    Congratulations on your performance again, that’s a great result especially for your first tournament in your whole life and of course great article! Hope to see you again at the next big events!

  14. Trainer Falc says:

    Hey man, Micky here. Nice report and awesome job getting 10th.
    Pretty cool team and I love serperior! 😀

  15. Hamstermania says:

    I Love kabutopses power , too bad we didnt see helping hand on politoed ;)
    Also what i saw amazed me : curse ferrothron? Double electric move manectric? Taunt serperior? And kabutops? Soooo nice lol

    Nice report

  16. freezehaxVGC says:

    great job making it to 10th! And you started in March! thats amazing! I’ve always had respect for mega manectric since it titled the junior world champ last year! Loved the report

  17. HarlijahVGC says:

    Kabutops Hype, cool to see you use the fossil so well, without Band!

  18. Adaranoy says:

    Finally, I was starting to think you gave up on the team report. Anyway congrats again for not only making 10th but also doing so with a unique and awesome rain team. Only thing that bothered me were the organisers at the event going out of their way to spell my surname (Aburime) wrong even after I asked them to correct it. Obviously not your fault or anything.

  19. TokenVGC says:

    Oh wow would of never guessed that Kabutops would get 10th place at a regionals! Congrats to you for being so admirably innovative and preforming well! Really wish you had replays!!

  20. MattDorrell says:

    Oh wow would of never guessed that Kabutops would get 10th place at a regionals! Congrats to you for being so admirably innovative and preforming well! Really wish you had replays!!

    Don’t want to toot my horn any more than I already have, but it was a Nationals :P

  21. bedigursimran says:

    Guys, how do I make my own team report? Thanks

  22. MattDorrell says:

    Guys, how do I make my own team report? Thanks

    Go on the main forum, and go to the workshop subforum.  You need to put in a request to post a report there first.

  23. robertoxmed says:

    Been having a lot of fun with this team. I noticed that Ludicolo is more present in the meta recently and it’s super annoying to handle it with this team 🙂

  24. Been having a lot of fun with this team. I noticed that Ludicolo is more present in the meta recently and it’s super annoying to handle it with this team :)

    Such is the reason why Talonflame and Ferrothorn is a key if you faced a Ludicolo 
    I just realise even a VIrizion gives this team some problems when Talonflame is down as well

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