Published on September 21st, 2015 | by Lexicon22
Fourth of July Slugfest: Top 8 U.S. Nationals Report
Hello there, my name is Alex Underhill or Lexicon. On Pokemon Showdown I’m either Lexicon08 or bellius. I’m here to provide details on the team I used to reach 6th place at the U.S. National Championships. Before I go into the team, I’d like to introduce myself, as many of you may not know me.
I’ve played Pokemon all my life, every generation since the beginning. In 2010 I started playing competitive Pokemon after hearing about it from a friend. I played Smogon singles on Pokemon Online and occasionally dabbed in doubles just for fun. My teams were far from serious, featuring Surf spam and Beheeyem with Simple Beam and Psych Up used on a Shell Smash Clamperl. It worked once. Early 2014, I started to consider doubles as a more appealing format, as singles went quite downhill that year in my opinion. I started practicing on Pokemon Showdown and watching Aaron Zheng’s videos to start to study up on the game, and had planned to attend U.S. Nationals as my first event. I also played in the June International right before my trip. I showed up with a Chesnaught, Florges, and Mega Manectric team and finished 5-4. The event was incredibly fun and I was hooked, I wanted to attend more of these events. Once Premier Challenges rolled around, I attended nearly all of them in the Chicago area. I wasn’t looking to rack up Championship Points, just to practice and gain experience at live events. Since then I have gone to 15 Premier Challenges and Madison Regionals and hadn’t cut a single one. I had accumulated 61 Championship Points through two top 8 Premier Challenge finishes (that had a top 4 cut), one top 64 Regional finish, and 235th place in the April International Challenge. Going into Nationals this year I jokingly told my friends all I needed was Top 4 for my world’s invite. Never did I imagine that goal would be within reach.
A quick note on best-of-three Swiss. PLEASE make this the format for all events, from here on out. Best-of-one leaves no room for players to adapt, and lets cheesy surprise teams make it to top cut. In Day 1 Swiss, my record in game one alone was 5-4. I managed to turn around several of my sets once I knew my opponents team and play-style. I wouldn’t say luck factored into any of my losses, I felt proud I tried my hardest in all of them. In the end, the winner in best-of-three Swiss is the better player 90% of the time. This is format The Official Pokemon Company International should keep.
After Winter Regionals, one team that caught my eye was that of Matthew Greaves (picklesword). His team consisted of Mega Tyranitar, Excadrill, Cresselia, Gyarados, Amoonguss, and Aegislash. I was a fan of using Tyranitar as it had the ability the check the Metagross Hydreigon duo that gained popularity after Winter Regionals. I took the Tyanitar, Cresselia and Excadrill from his team, removed Tyranitar’s Mega stone, and added a Mega Salamence. I had been using Semi-Trick Room with Mega Salamence for the majority of the 2015 season, so I decided this team could do the same. For the last two, I saw the Gastrodon Rotom-Heat combo on Battlespot and thought it looked fun. I knew Rotom-Heat commonly used Safety Goggles and Gastrodon added water coverage while still being immune to Sandstorm chip damage. They also could function very well inside and outside of Trick Room, so I was pretty set on adding these two Pokemon. Since the formation of the team in Mid-April, I have changed nothing on it. This team has been used at 1 Premier Challenge, 1 Regional, both the April International Challenge and the June International Challenge, and two practice events. Despite never performing outstandingly with the team, I was very comfortable with it. I think having experience with your team is a huge factor when going into an event. Changing the team last minute leads to having less practice with the team, and not knowing typical damage amounts. I felt confident going into Nationals that this team was the best choice for me.
All the nicknames are based on my favorite bands and I tried to match the name to the image of the Pokemon.
2DoorCinema♣ @ Life Orb
Ability: Sand Rush
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Iron Head
– Rock Slide
Excadrill is no surprise to see on a sand team. I liked Excadrill’s ability to hit hard and fast, while having good type coverage. Focus Sash was never of interest to me, as the extra power Life Orb offers is too good to pass up. Iron Head helps cover the popular Fairy type Pokemon and offers the nifty chance to flinch. With an even faster Rock Slide than Choice Scarf Landorus-Therian, you can imagine how many games have been swayed by the dice roll that Rock Slide is. Earthquake is just too strong, and paired with a Helping Hand boost from Cresselia, it can wipe out teams.
At Nationals Excadrill was my least used Pokemon. This was mostly due to rampant Intimidate users, which scares the mole back into his hole. However, in matches where my opponent had no Intimidate users, Excadrill caused a lot of damage.
The EV Spread is very basic but still matters for a couple of reasons. 252 Speed Adamant Nature Excadrill outspeeds Timid 252 Smeargle by 1 Point. I also wanted to at least force a speed tie with opposing Sand Rush Excadrill. As for the 4 EVs in defense, check below for two simple damage calculations. If the 4 EVs were placed into HP, Breloom’s Mach Punch would have a 6% change to OHKO. Kangaskhan’s Low Kick goes from a 41% change to OHKO to a 25% chance.
- 252 Atk Technician Breloom Mach Punch vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Excadrill: 152-182 (82.1 – 98.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Low Kick (60 BP) vs. 0 HP / 4 Def Excadrill: 166-196 (89.7 – 105.9%) — 25.4% chance to OHKO
- -1 252+ Atk Life Orb Mold Breaker Excadrill Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Sylveon: 190-226 (94 – 111.8%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
- 252+ Atk Life Orb Mold Breaker Excadrill Helping Hand Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Aegislash-Shield: 198-237 (118.5 – 141.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
Smallpools @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 244 HP / 108 Def / 68 SpA / 84 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Earth Power
I chose Gastrodon primarily for its Storm Drain Ability, which supports the three Water weaknesses this team has. Excadrill and Rotom-Heat enjoyed being able to stay in against Water type threats to continue to output damage. Rotom-Heat especially enjoys this as it can use Thunderbolt without any threat of a returning super effective attack. The coverage Gastrodon provides made it quite the surprising threat in Trick Room. Scald was STAB and very nifty for the occasional burn. It also helped a lot during the tournament against Ice Beam-using Water types. Gastrodon got frozen TEN TIMES over the course of the event. This never bothered me, since Gastrodon can always thaw itself if it uses Scald. Ice Beam was a great tool for eliminating opposing Salamence and the ever present Landorus-Therian. This could also help against the occasional Grass type Pokemon. Earth Power rounds out the set for an additional STAB move, helping to deal with Heatran, Metagross, and Aegislash after it transforms into its Blade Forme. Protect was added as Sitrus Berry provided plenty of recovery. Due to Gastrodon actually posing quite the threat, Protect helped it avoid double targeting.
Gastrodon really shone in this tournament, shutting down a lot of water Pokemon and picking up several KO’s. He was likely the crowd favorite, as many of my opponents thought it was neat that my team included Gastrodon. When I played a match on TV, Gastrdon’s cry got to play over the speakers, which is always hilarious. East Sea Beast Sea.
The EV spread was completely ripped off the Nuggetbridge Damage Calc, as when I’m creating a team, I typically borrow EV spreads from other teams so I can get to the play testing stage faster. This one was created by Eugene Tan (IoriYagami) included a Bold Nature, which I changed to Relaxed with a 0IV in Speed to be faster in Trick Room. It was designed to take an Adamant Mega Kangaskhan’s Double Edge without the Sitrus Berry and to be able to OHKO 252 HP / 4 Sp Def Heatran with Earth Power. It doesn’t OHKO many Landorus or Mega Salamence, but this spread got the job done.
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 244 HP / 108+ Def Gastrodon: 176-209 (81.1 – 96.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery
- 252+ SpA Choice Specs Hydreigon Draco Meteor vs. 244 HP / 88 SpD Gastrodon: 189-223 (87 – 102.7%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
- 4 SpA Amoonguss Giga Drain vs. 244 HP / 88 SpD Gastrodon: 160-192 (73.7 – 88.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery
- 68 SpA Gastrodon Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Heatran: 196-232 (98.9 – 117.1%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO
- 68 SpA Gastrodon Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Aegislash-Blade: 174-206 (104.1 – 123.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 68 SpA Gastrodon Ice Beam vs. 12 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 164-196 (98.7 – 118%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
Passion Pit @ Leftovers
EVs: 220 HP / 100 Def / 188 SpA
– Helping Hand
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
This is a Pokemon I have been using all season. The bulk is comfortable and helps make easy switch ins, while offensive coverage is fairly decent. Cresselia filled an important role on this team. Ice Beam helps a lot against one of Sand’s greatest weaknesses: Landorus-Therian. I chose Psychic over Psyshock as most Amoonguss and Mega Venusaur were often built for Physical hits. Psyshock would have helped against Terrakion in Sand, but that is about all that I can think of. When I build teams with Earthquake, I like as many Ground immune Pokemon as possible. Cresselia could switch in on my own Earthquakes and provide Excadrill with a Helping Hand. Lastly, this team built to have a Trick Room aspect and Cresselia is my favorite Trick Room setter. I wouldn’t have changed any move on it for anything else, despite having such an impressive move pool. The main reason I ran Leftovers was just to counteract Sandstorm damage. Many times I considered swapping Gastrodon, Rotom-Heat, and Cresselia’s items around, but I think they fit best where they are.
Cresselia saw a lot of usage at Nationals. This is because Trick Room was a great option against many teams and caught a couple of people off guard. Also, when Intimidate is present, I prefer to bring my Trick Room Core as they are much less susceptible to Intimidate. The support Cresselia provided was unmatched by any other Pokemon. Helping Hand was even more useful in tournament than in practice, turning 2HKO’s into OHKO’s and 3HKO’s into easy 2HKO’s.
I wanted Cresselia to tank hits while still providing threatening damage to ice weak Pokemon. The spread is one I’m sure you’ve all seen before, I found it in Aaron Zheng’s Cresselia video and haven’t looked back. It’s effective and although people do damage calculations for it, it still works. Having 223 HP also minimizes Sandstorm chip damage.
- 252+ SpA Choice Specs Hydreigon Dark Pulse vs. 220 HP / 0 SpD Cresselia: 176-210 (78.9 – 94.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Life Orb Bisharp Knock Off vs. 220 HP / 100+ Def Cresselia: 112-135 (50.2 – 60.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Life Orb Aegislash-Blade Shadow Ball vs. 220 HP / 0 SpD Cresselia: 174-211 (78 – 94.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 188 SpA Cresselia Ice Beam vs. 12 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 164-196 (98.7 – 118%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
- 188 SpA Cresselia Psychic vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Mega Venusaur: 84-102 (44.9 – 54.5%) — 37.5% chance to 2HKO
WalkTheMoon @ Salamencite
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
– Draco Meteor
– Fire Blast
My favorite 2015 Mega, the versatility makes Mega Salamence quite the offensive monster. I find that the things Trick Room struggles against, Mega Salamence does well against. While I have been using it most of the season alongside Trick Room, a good example of Mega Salamence Trick Room would be Harrison Saylor (Crow) and Collin Heier’s (TheBattleRoom) Spring Regional Team. I chose Return reluctantly over Double-Edge, because I didn’t like the way recoil stacked with Sandstorm chip damage. The power was missed, but at least I didn’t knock myself out. Draco Meteor helped in the Mega Salamence mirror and provided stronger damage in the face of Intimidate. Helping Hand Draco Meteor was a great way to deal with Rotom-Wash, a Pokemon that my team could not cover very well offensively. I wanted another powerful Fire move on the team and Fire Blast fit the slot. I didn’t use it a ton in the tournament but I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else. It chipped Aegislash, occasionally OHKO’d Ferrothorn, and provided a way to beat certain Steel types when Rotom-Heat wasn’t there.
I brought Salamence to probably around 50% of games. The games that I brought it, it was always worth it. Fighting types can be a pain and Salamence either knocked them out or scared them away. I’m sure some people expected Hyper Voice at some point, but Return does more damage overall and provided much more utility against the likes of Conkeldurr.
This Salamence is literally the exact same Salamence I brought to Nationals last year in 2014, as a Choice Scarf variant. I swapped 252 Sp Atk to Atk and vice versa for the 4 EVs in Atk. I didn’t intend to survive Ice Beams, so the Naive nature really did not bother me. The damage from Return was far more important to be than hitting harder on the special side, as I typically only used those for super effective OHKOs or chip damage. No bulk, straight offense puts pressure on the opponent, and I can usually knock out Pokemon before they attack. Also forcing opposing Salamence to at least speed tie is nice, which I actually ran into quite often. On a side note, my Salamence had an imperfect Sp Def IV, since breeding for 6 perfect IV’s isn’t so easy.
- 4 SpA Politoed Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 0- SpD Mega Salamence: 156-184 (91.7 – 108.2%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Salamence: 133-159 (78.2 – 93.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 4 SpA Mega Salamence Fire Blast vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Aegislash-Blade: 166-196 (99.4 – 117.3%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
- 4 SpA Mega Salamence Draco Meteor vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 188-224 (109.9 – 130.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 4 SpA Mega Salamence Draco Meteor vs. 60 HP / 4 SpD Hydreigon: 186-222 (106.2 – 126.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Return vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Charizard Y: 151-178 (98 – 115.5%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
Magic Man @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 236 HP / 84 Def / 36 SpA / 4 SpD / 148 Spe
Gastrodon’s partner in crime. The pair of Gastrodon and Rotom-Heat had a lot of synergy. Gastrodon does not like Grass types or physical attackers, which Rotom-Heat could scare off or at least cripple with Will-O-Wisp. Having Levitate was a huge plus, as it allowed Rotom to dodge my own Excadrill’s Earthquakes. With the combination of Excadrill, Rotom-Heat and Gastrodon, only half my team could be Thunder Waved. Rotom and Tyranitar were the two Pokemon that could function best inside and outside of Trick Room. While Rotom leaned more on the fast side, Tailwind teams and fast physical attackers best be wary once Trick Room is set up. The moves are standard. While Safety Goggles is a common item on Rotom-Heat as is, it helps even more when added to a Sand team. Amoonguss was a common site through the day and Will-O-Wisping or KOing despite redirection helped seal up some games.
During the tournament, Rotom-Heat got a lot of opportunities to cripple teams with burns. Water type Pokemon were also a common site, and with Gastrodon by it’s side, Rotom-Heat was free to Thunderbolt. I rarely used Overheat against any Aegislash I saw, as I feared they would survive and get the Weakness Policy boost. Typically I used Will-O-Wisp to start, which covered more options, such as King’s Shield and switches. Will-O-Wisp stacked with Sandstorm damage chipped away my opponents health quite effectively.
The EV spread speed creeps Bisharp and is generally physically bulky. Despite little investment in offense, the damage output was still very noticeable. I didn’t want my Rotom to be too fast as it needed to function well in Trick Room.
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 236 HP / 84 Def Rotom-H: 124-146 (80 – 94.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 236 HP / 84 Def Rotom-H: 68-80 (43.8 – 51.6%) — 5.9% chance to 2HKO
- 36+ SpA Rotom-H Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 52 SpD Suicune: 102-122 (49.2 – 58.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO after sandstorm damage and Sitrus Berry recovery
- 36+ SpA Rotom-H Overheat vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Amoonguss: 206-246 (93.2 – 111.3%) — 62.5% chance to OHKO
- 36+ SpA Rotom-H Overheat vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Aegislash-Shield: 122-146 (73 – 87.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Cherub @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Atk / 84 Def / 4 SpA / 84 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Low Kick
Tyranitar caused the most damage this Independence Day. Scarf variants of Tyranitar are weak and limiting. With Fighting, Dark and Rock coverage, there was a lot Pokemon Tyranitar could cover. The factor that sets my Tyranitar apart from most was the item choice. Weakness Policy activated many times throughout the event, nearly every set I played. Because Tyranitar has so many weaknesses, it gave me a lot of chances to set it off and dish out damage. Hyper Voice, Earthquake, Power-Up Punch, and Scald were some of the many moves that fail to OHKO Tyranitar, which gave Tyranitar the chance to OHKO back. My team lacks an effective way to deal with Kangaskhan, as it has only one fighting move. Low Kick either OHKOed Kangaskhan after it tried to Power-Up Punch me, or chipped it enough that Sandstorm damage would KO it in a couple of turns. Helping Hand from Cresselia also helped if Tyranitar could not get the Weakness Policy Boost. A +2 Attack Rock Slide or Crunch would do a lot of damage to Pokemon that did not resist it. Once my opponent knew about Weakness Policy, they had to fear setting it off or face the consequences.
The Trick Room mode of the team was quite commanding during the event, and Tyranitar was the head of it. Often times I could lead with him, get a Weakness Policy boost, and wreak havoc one Trick Room was set up. He also helped out during the fast mode, as Excadrill can be quite lackluster without him. Two times I successfully activated my own Weakness Policy and benefited, which I’ll go into during the respective battles.
Finally an EV spread I created on my own. 4 EVs were put into Sp Atk because they would be wasted elsewhere. Sadly Tyranitar sits at a base speed of 61, leaving him just above common Trick Room Pokemon and Aegislash. Despite that, having minimum speed ensured I always win the weather war, bar the uncommon Hail. I had a lot of goals for this Tyranitar when I first came up with the idea, so I could make as much use of Weakness Policy as possible. While it may look silly to have 84 EVs in 3 stats, it accomplished everything I wanted to.
- 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tyranitar: 168-200 (81.1 – 96.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Choice Specs Hydreigon Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 102-120 (49.2 – 57.9%) — 95.3% chance to 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Power-Up Punch vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tyranitar: 156-184 (75.3 – 88.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Aegislash-Blade Flash Cannon vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Tyranitar in Sand: 102-122 (49.2 – 58.9%) — 98% chance to 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Mega Charizard Y Solar Beam vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Tyranitar: 160-190 (77.2 – 91.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Ludicolo Scald vs. 252 HP / 84 SpD Tyranitar in Rain: 162-192 (78.2 – 92.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Life Orb Bisharp Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tyranitar: 164-195 (79.2 – 94.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Superpower vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tyranitar: 184-220 (88.8 – 106.2%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO
- -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tyranitar: 84-102 (40.5 – 49.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO
- +2 84+ Atk Tyranitar Crunch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Metagross: 192-228 (123 – 146.1%) — guaranteed OHKO
- +2 84+ Atk Tyranitar Low Kick (100 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Hydreigon: 248-292 (147.6 – 173.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- +2 84+ Atk Tyranitar Low Kick (100 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 226-266 (106.6 – 125.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
- +2 84+ Atk Tyranitar Crunch vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Aegislash-Shield: 192-228 (114.9 – 136.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
These were the four I brought most in the tournament. Trick Room Offense isn’t always prepared for, especially when they see Mega Salamence and Excadrill in Team Preview. I was able to set up Trick Room quite often, taking games pretty quickly after doing so. Intimidate was usually the factor that switched my team to this mode, as common Intimidate users in the forms of Landorus-Therian, opposing Mega Salamence, and Arcanine did not enjoy dealing with Gastrodon. This mode also helped against opposing weathers, as Gastrodon, Rotom-Heat and Tyranitar caused problems for Rain and Sun. The biggest problem for the Trick Room mode would be Snarl, as three of the Pokemon used exclusively special attacks.
Does the opponent have Intimidate? If not, this was usually the way to go in game one. Excadrill and Tyranitar would typically lead to give myself the speed advantage. I then decided if Tyranitar was worth keeping in, or if I should switch to a Pokemon immune to Earthquake to put on offensive pressure. Salamence and Excadrill cover each others weakness’s pretty well, barring bulky Water types. This is not to say I would always bring these four Pokemon. Gastrodon and Cresselia made plenty of appearances alongside these Pokemon to patch up weak points.
The obvious sand lead. Because my Tyranitar uses absolute minimum speed, I could usually guarantee Sand would be up Turn One.
I lead with these two if I wanted Sand and Trick Room, as my opponents would typically Protect or switch out their weather user. Also Tyranitar could bait a super effective attack, survive, and have a Weakness Policy boost to abuse in Trick Room.
If I wanted to use my Trick Room mode, but I knew Kangaskhan would be a problem, or had Low Kick, these were the two Pokemon. Turn One I either set up Trick Room, or Kangaskhan got burned.
Anti-lead if I feared Kangaskhan and Breloom. Intimidate and Will-O-Wisp plus the threat of a super effective move targeting Breloom usually put me at an advantage. Tyranitar would sit in back so I could switch it in, knock Breloom down to its Focus Sash, and finish it off with Sandstorm damage.
Gastrodon couldn’t quite wall out the pineapple-duck thing. Salamence carried my only super effective move against Ludicolo, but didn’t enjoy taking an Ice Beam beforehand. My typical answer was Cresselia + Tyranitar to have the weather advantage, and threaten Ludicolo once it activated Tyranitar’s Weakness Policy.
Kangaskhan + Breloom
These two honestly weren’t that bad, I just needed to lead cautiously and use Sand to chip away Breloom’s Focus Sash. Kangaskhan can be really annoying to face in best-of-one, as it becomes a huge mind game for me. Fake Out or Protect? Return or Double Edge? and most importantly: Power-Up Punch or Low Kick? I used game 1 to try and learn this information, so I could play more informatively the rest of the set.
Pokemon I Did Not Face
I was fortunate enough not to face these Pokemon at Nationals (bar Bisharp), as they gave me trouble in practice. Mega Gyarados ignores Gastrodon and abuses my team’s huge Water weakness. Intimidate helps it even more, as Mega Salamence’s Return hardly bothers it. Bisharp can hit many Pokemon on my team hard, and for super effective damage. I played around it and saw very few, so I didn’t need to worry. Perish Trap with Politoed took away my speed advantage and losing the ability to switch hurt. Lost to this nearly every time I faced it in practice, but never saw it at the live event.
My notes included only the Pokemon my opponent had/brought to our games, so I’ll talk briefly about what I remember and what I found significant.
Day 1 Swiss
Round 1: Gabriel Berrios (2-3)
It’s go time! Round 1 I get paired up against somebody I didn’t know, which is always a plus. The team looked bulky and slow, so I decided I would match that with my usual Trick Room Pokemon. Turn 1 it’s my Rotom and Gastrodon vs. his Scrafty and Cresselia. He uses Fake Out on my Rotom and Skill Swaps away Gastrodon’s Storm Drain as I Scald. Not a great start to the tournament. I then proceed to Will-O-Wisp his Scrafty and discover it has a Lum Berry. I freeze Cresselia luckily and somehow manage to turn the game around into a win. Game 2 I used all my information from Game 1 and put myself in a favorable position. Fire Blast from my Mega Salamence fails to OHKO his Ferrothorn, which is scary, but didn’t end up helping my opponent all that much. I seal the game up with Mega Salamence’s strong offense.
Round 2: Aaron Liebersbach [Arch] (7-2)
This was the round they handed out the Blaziken Promo Card that had a move called Clutch, so you already know the end result. He had a standard looking team, something I felt prepared for. Kangaskhan ended up being very bulky, surviving Low Kick from Tyranitar and Return from Salamence with ease. Snarl Suicune can be a pain to deal with, and Thundurus’ Swagger caused some problems. Trick Room mode was brought every game, except with Salamence in the last one. One of the closest sets I played Day 1, and I felt my opponent honestly beat me. I’m happy I got to play him as he was a very nice guy and we talked through the rest of the weekend.
Round 3: Jay Simpson (4-5)
A very 2014-looking team, with the obvious addition of the new and improved Mega Salamence. A lot of his Pokemon were fast and frail so again I used the Trick Room mode. Gastrodon’s Ice Beam failed to OHKO his Garchomp, which he told me was Sand Veil Brightpowder. Thankfully I hit the next Scald and it was never an issue. Special Mega Lucario in Game 1 managed to do a lot of damage, but thankfully it did not knock out my Mega Salamence with Flash Cannon despite it’s Naive nature. It came down to my Rotom vs. his Tyranitar in a one on one, outside of Sand. He revealed Thunderbolt and Ice Beam and never went for anything else, so a strange moveset to say the least. Game 2 I know I successfully set up Trick Room and cleaned up with Gastrodon.
Round 4: Evan Bates [Veteran Padgett] (7-2)
Ludicolo Kangaskhan struck fear right into my heart. I knew if I wanted to win this set, I had to preserve Tyranitar to do damage to the two of them. Trick Room with Tyranitar was my usual lead, but I learned Kangaskhan had Low Kick at the cost of Tyranitar. Game 2 I went in with the same strategy and managed to squeak out a win. Game 3 it came down to Tyranitar and Gastrodon against a low health Kangaskhan and Ludicolo in Trick Room. I did not like the situation, but I called several 50-50 plays correctly and managed to win a game I probably shouldn’t have.
Round 5: Johnathan Neville [TM Gold] (3-3)
I attended Madison Regionals so I recognized the name and the team. The lack of Intimidate and glaring weakness to Excadrill meant Fast Mode got it’s first chance to shine today. Turn 1 I lead with Tyranitar Excadrill against Sylveon Kangaskhan. I was content to take a Fake Out on either Pokemon, as Iron Head onto Sylveon would do great damage or Hyper Voice would activate my Weakness Policy to allow Low Kick to clean up Kangaskhan. He swapped out Sylveon for Yanmega and Faked Out Tyranitar, so Yanmega takes around 70%. After that I’m not exactly sure what happens. I know Sylveon activates Tyranitar’s Weakness Policy and gets critical hit by Rock Slide in return, putting it in range of Sandstorm damage. Excadrill Rotom-Heat and Tyranitar were about all I needed to win 2 games quickly and easily.
Round 6: Kenan Nerad [Lucien Lachance] (5-4)
Another Gastrodon! Also Arcanine can cause some trouble depending on the set they are running. I felt I was prepared for Metagross Hydreigon but Game 1 the Dragon type with Arcanine was too much for me. I did learn his Arcanine ran Close Combat, which was helpful to know. Despite losing Game 1 with my Sand Mode, I felt with the information I learned it could still pull out the win. Turn 1 Game 2 I lead Tyranitar Excadrill against Arcanine and Gastrodon. I decided to Earthquake without Protecting Tyranitar, as a -1 Attack Earthquake wouldn’t hurt myself too much. He switches Arcanine out for Hydreigon and I crunch his Gastrodon at +1 thanks to the Weakness Policy. It pays off as Gastrodon goes down. I manage to swing Game 2 my way and Game 3 I go with the same game plan, but sub in my own Gastrodon. I almost let my Salamence get knocked out by Extremespeed from Arcanine, finally telling me the dog was Choice Banded. Thankfully I pulled a switch and managed to knock out the Arcanine with Tyranitar. This set was another incredibly fun one, 3 great games.
Round 7: Kyle Morris [XiciousVGC] (5-4)
Another standard looking team, which I felt comfortable with Trick Room against. I underestimated Scizor throughout the whole set, it ended up being a bigger problem than I would have liked. Game 1 I managed to win only due to his Scizor activating Weakness Policy and getting Crunched at +2. Landorus was Assault Vest with Stone Edge, Scizor had Superpower, and Kangaskhan had Low Kick which created all sorts of problems. Game 2 my opponent was too ready for Trick Room. Game 3 Gastrodon managed to get 2 Scald burns on Cresselia and Kangaskhan, which helped a lot. I wouldn’t say they changed the outcome, but they made my plays a lot easier to make.
Round 8: Kevin Reed [Tm-Silv3r] (7-2)
My first possible chance at making Day 2, my opponent told me he was definitely feeling the nerves. Our teams looked very similar, though his lacked the Trick Room option. Minimize Clefable. Game 1 he won mostly because I couldn’t hit the thing and it constantly redirected attacks. Throughout the set he kept bringing his Excadrill and abusing my Sand, so props to him for calling that. Game 2 came down to just Clefable vs. Gastrodon, both at full health. He starts to set up Minimizes, but Gastrodon doesn’t miss! Earth Power nets one Special Defense drop and Kevin decides its not worth it. Game 3 ends in nearly 5 minutes. I lead with Salamence and Excadrill and start calling all of his Protects. Turn 1 he switches his Salamence for Azumarill while I just Iron Head and Return the Clefable for a knock out. Next turn I Earthquake and Return Azumarill while he Protects his Excadrill. I didn’t lost a Pokemon, the game ended in a flash. I made Day 2! I was super excited to have a cool head going into Round 9.
Round 9: Aaron Zheng [CybertronVGC] (8-1)
When I looked at the pairings, I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been watching Aaron since I started playing, so it was an honor to get to play him, especially with us both at the top. He was the only undefeated at this point in the tournament, so I knew I was up for a challenge. I lead with Cresselia and Rotom-Heat and set up Trick Room. I then proceed to double switch into Tyranitar and Gastrodon as they improved my board position. I feared Rotom-Wash’s Will-O-Wisp onto Tyranitar, so I had Gastrodon use Earth Power onto my own Tyranitar. Giving myself the +2 in Attack was enough for Crunch to OHKO the Rotom before it got to move. He switches in Salamence and I Crunch that slot at +1, which he swaps for Aegislash. Another OHKO for Tyranitar. Trick Room was too hard for Aaron’s team to stop, despite Aegislash and Amoonguss. Game 2 I made no changes, feeling confident after the result of Game 1. Aaron came prepared for my lead, with Aegislash and Rotom-Wash, so I quickly switched Cresselia for Gastrodon and Overheat Aegislash for ~80%. Amoonguss comes in and dies to a combination of Will-O-Wisp damage, -2 Overheat and Ice Beam from Gastrodon. Aaron manages to kill Gastrodon with Landorus-I when it comes in and then proceeds to Hydro Pump my Rotom-Heat for nearly an OHKO. Cresselia and Tyranitar finish the game in Trick Room. Thanks for the games Aaron, and congrats on Top 4!
Day 2 Swiss
Round 1: William Hall [Biosci] (37th)
Day 2 is under way! The team looked very interesting, Mega Gardevoir with Sand and Trick Room was something I looked into right before Nationals, but didn’t feel I had enough practice with it. I knew my Fast Mode would do pretty well here, as he had no good way to stop Excadrill’s offense. Somewhere along the lines in the first game, it comes down to a weakened Landorus and a Mega Gardevoir vs. my Excadrill and Tyranitar with Weakness Policy activated. He figures I won’t try to Iron Head Gardevoir, and he was correct, and switches Landorus into Amoonguss. However, I go for Rock Slide and get a flinch, which lead to Tyranitar KOing the Gardevoir. After that I sealed up Game 2 with my fast offense. Gastrodon refused to flinch in the face of danger, as Tyranitar used Rock Slide onto it several times. The coverage Gastrodon provided lead me to get another win.
Round 2: Paul Chua [pwny person] (10th)
My Paul Chua match up isn’t the greatest. I have played Paul three times on Battle Spot and lost three times. Somebody who is very comfortable with Rain, especially Ludicolo Rain, meant I was in for some trouble. I knew if I wanted any chance at winning, I would have to conserve my Tyranitar. It caused the most damage and kept the weather in my favor. Throughout the set, I felt Paul always had the advantage, the better board position. I Crunched into several King’s Shield’s. The two games I had the opportunity to play against Paul ended quickly. I was happy I had the opportunity to play and talk to him, he was a very nice guy. Sorry to hear you bubbled!
Round 3: Raphael Bagara [rapha] (2nd)
I had several games of practice against this team, as many people have run this on Pokemon Showdown and Battlespot. Going in, I knew my primary damage output would come from Salamence and checking Thundurus and Landorus from ruining my dragon’s fun. I don’t remember all the details, but I know that luck was on my side. I believe I froze Gardevoir in one of the games, and it never thawed. Raphael was super nice about all his misfortune, and kept a level head. Congrats on turning things around after our set and making it all the way to finals!
Round 4: Kolby Golliher [Lovetrain] (13th)
Somebody had to make day 2 with Smeargle. I wasn’t too worried about the beagle, as Sandstorm damage took away it’s Focus Sash and I had multiple Pokemon that out-speed it. The fact that such an offensive, frail team made it this far told me this guy knew how to play. Early in game 1, I learned Kangaskhan’s fighting move was Power-Up Punch, which meant Tyranitar was safe. A +1 Low Kick failed to OHKO Kangaskhan though, which meant this Mega was built to take hits. Landorus-Therian was Choice Scarfed, which makes it easy to play around once it locks into a move. I also found out Aegislash did carry Wide Guard. Game 1 my Sand offensive overwhelmed his Pokemon, and locked my up a Game 1 victory. Game 2 Kolby was more prepared for it, and Sylveon put out too much damage. We moved onto Game 3, and to my surprise, Smeargle was his lead. I was not too prepared for this in the lead, so I was forced to switch in Tyranitar and use Return with Salamence. The Focus Sash activates, and Dark Void comes out. Salamence thankfully dodges it, while Tyranitar takes a nap. Fast forward a couple of turns, and it’s Cresselia and Salamence vs. Landorus-Therian and Sylveon. I anticipated Landorus U-turning out into Aegislash, so I used Helping Hand and Fire Blast onto that slot. The Fire Blast whiffs, and Sylveon takes out my Mega. Excadrill and Cresselia in the red are my last two. I make the decision to Helping Hand Earthquake despite the possible Wide Guard. I call it correct and pick up a double knock out. Landorus has no one move it can lock into to beat my remaining two, so I finish it off and the set.
Round 5: Demetrios Kaguras [kingdjk] (15th)
My Sun match up looked pretty good, even with the common Landorus-Therian. I knew Rotom-Heat and Tyranitar would help a lot in this match. To support them, I wanted Gastrodon and Cresselia because the former two had poor match ups against Landorus and Terrakion. Trick Room nearly netted me Game 1, as it came down to Rotom vs. Charizard outside of Sun. Charizard was at -2, and two Overheats took out my low health Rotom before 1 Thunderbolt could KO Charizard. Game 2 I saw no reason to change, and it paid off. I picked up early KO’s which lead to Suicune vs. Gastrodon and Rotom. Calm Mind Suicune threw me for a loop, but ultimately died by getting whittled away every turn. In the 3rd Game, around turn 3, things were looking favorable, I had Trick Room up and Gastrodon was threatening KO’s. Then, my opponents battery goes on red.. The judge won’t let us move, and Demetrios informs me that his 3DS dies almost instantly once on red. Sure enough, I click my moves as fast as possible but his 3DS dies one turn later. It’s out of my control but I still felt bad.
Round 6: Hayden McTavish [Enigne] (2nd)
Hayden was the only remaining undefeated player, sitting at 5-0. Finishing 4-2 gave me a chance to make the bubble through resistance, but a win assured me Top Cut. Our match was put onto the TV, so I put my cartridge into the streaming 3DS. Thanks to teamrocketelite, I have videos of the matches! I’ll post them below, but talk about the games briefly. Conkeldurr goes down turn 1 in Game 1, netting Tyranitar an easy win. Weakness Policy activates after a Helping Hand Earthquake from Salamence, but I survive with ease and clean up the game. I learned he had Choice Scarf Rotom-Wash, Life Orb Conkeldurr, and Light Screen Cresselia. Game 2 Rotom-Wash locked into Will-O-Wisp, which lead to it becoming useless. Conkeldurr became the only remaining Pokemon, against my Gastrodon, Tyranitar and Salamence, which I safely wrapped up.
I guaranteed making it into Top Cut! My friends all congratulated me, as well as many other big name players. My goal of Top 4 suddenly seemed attainable. Only one more best-of-three.
Top 8: Toler Webb [Dim] (1st)
Again, we were set up on one of the streaming TV’s. This time, Toler forfeited his 3DS, while I kept mine. While I didn’t like rain, Ludicolo was absent in my opponents team, which was a relief. Amoonguss, however, meant trouble. Gastrodon seemed huge in this match despite that, as I only needed to check Amoonguss and Gardevoir for it to do well. Politoed ended up causing me a lot of problems. Turn 1 I discovered Landorus-Therian was not Choice Scarf, which is always helpful. I anticipated Toler Protecting Politoed against my Rotom-Heat, knowing I had Safety Goggles. I targeted Amoonguss and lost my Rotom very quickly. Gastrodon was slower than Amoonguss, which is normally not the case. Twice, I attempted to finish off Politoed from ~50% with Salamence’s Draco Meteor. Both times it survived in the red, which lead to a quick faint for my dragon. Next time, I hope to be more ready for a player of Toler’s caliber. Congrats on taking the title, you earned it through your play.
I’m grateful I got to carry this team so far, I had loads of fun at Nationals this year. My friends were very supportive and seeing them once again at Nationals was a blast. The Pokemon Community is a great one, and I continue to make more friends as I continue to attend events. Since I’m done playing for this season, at least I got to play so many matches in my last VGC 2015 tournament. Unfortunately, I missed Worlds by one best-of-three set. Making Top 8 at Nationals still means a lot to me, Worlds invite or not. Going forward, I plan to attend more events in 2016 to put myself in a better spot CP-wise for next year Nationals! There’s still a lot for me to learn, and I plan to put in the work to improve. Thanks for reading such a long winded article, please tell me what you thought!
- The Illinois VGC Crew – luisgqmetal, mangosol, kamaal, swanner, agentorangejulius, mario c, bagofchips99, darb, stephen, wesley, revinoctre and anybody I forgot
- Rebecca Cartwright for hosting the Illinois Premier Challenges
- Braverius, Unreality, CybertronVGC, and Arch for talking and congratulating me
- Ryan Auld and my bro Henry for accompanying me and for all the good times.
- Last but not least, my girlfriend Gina. Thanks for helping me keep a level head and coming to every event to cheer me on!