Published on July 25th, 2013 | by Adib22
Fullmetal Steelix: 10th Place US Nationals Report
Hey everyone, this is Adib. I also go by honchkro13 on Nugget Bridge. I’m here today to talk about my team, which finished 10th place at US Nationals. Half of this team is a Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood themed team, while the other half is a Legend of Zelda themed team. One week before the tournament, I heavily modified the team I used all season, resulting in what you see below.
This goodstuffs team:
- Lacks Ice resists
- Lacks weather control
- Dislikes Jellicent, Ferrothorn and Shedinja
- Uses Intimidate and Light Screen for power control
- Uses Thunder Wave and Trick Room for speed control
- Has no more than two Pokemon weak to any one type
- Has two Pokemon without Protect/Detect—Thundurus and Cresselia
- Has three moves below 100% accuracy—Ice Fang, Draco Meteor & Stone Edge
Volvagia the Gyarados
Poke Ball: Poke Ball
EVs: 164 HP/44 Attack/6 Defense/108 Sp. Defense/188 Speed
Item: Water Gem
“A long time ago there was an evil dragon named Volvagia living in this mountain. That dragon was very scary! He ate Gorons!”
Gyarados—first of the Twin Snakes, my Dynamic Duo of Gyarados and Steelix. This slot was occupied by my shiny Calm Mind Suicune for the longest time. However, Volcarona started giving my team more trouble and the metagame grew more offensive thanks to Breloom. So, I decided to use another boosting Water type who could take down any boosted Volcarona and friends while being more flexible than Suicune.
In came Gyarados. Gyarados did a splendid job of showing Quiver Dance Volcarona how dragons get down with a Dragon Dance. While Gyarados destroyed Volcarona teams in practice, no one actually pitted a Volcarona against me in Nationals. I’m guessing that a Gyarados backed by Thundurus and what looked like a Stone Edge Conkeldurr on Team Preview was enough to scare Volcarona away.
Anyways, the EV spread allows Gyarados to:
- Outrun Choice Scarf Tyranitar after a single Dragon Dance
- Survive a Timid Latios’s Dragon Gem Draco Meteor
- OHKO a 252/0 bulky Thundurus with a +1 Water Gem Waterfall 100% of the time.
Waterfall is fairly self-explanatory as decent STAB. Return offers surprisingly strong neutral coverage when paired with Waterfall, a combination resisted only by Jellicent, Ferrothorn and Cradily.
I originally added Dragon Dance to sweep through teams as I did with Calm Mind Suicune in the past. In practice, I ended up using Dragon Dance sparingly and at key points to eliminate significant threats to the team. Dragon Dance also let Gyarados operate more independently of Cresselia and Thundurus’s speed control while negating enemy Intimidate.
Speaking of Intimidate, Bisharp and Tornadus prevented me from using Gyarados often at Nationals, though he still proved useful. I used him either for Intimidate support, scoring KO’s or simply as a defensive pivot. I simply love how versatile Gyarados was on my team, especially when paired with his best friend below.
Poke Ball: Poke Ball
EVs: 212 HP/254 Attack/44 Sp. Defense
IVs: 24 Speed
Ability: Sheer Force
Item: Life Orb
“If you can endure that pain, and walk away from it…you will find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle…yeah…a heart made Fullmetal”
Fullmetal Steelix. Second of the Twin Snakes and star of the team. Steelix is one of the most powerful anti-metagame Pokémon I have ever seen. He’s even overtaken Suicune, Krookodile, and Honchkrow as my personal favorite Pokémon due to its amazing utility and killer design.
Now I’ll finally address the elephant in the room: why Steelix?
Team Requirements for the 6th Member
One week before Nationals, I was sitting in a meeting at work, subconsciously deep in theory. I needed to figure out what sixth Pokemon would best complete my team and was running out of time.
With an incomplete team of Gyarados/Cresselia/Hydreigon/Thundurus/Conkeldurr, I noticed I had:
- Four Ground immunities
- Three Fighting resists
- Two Fire resists
- Two Water resists
- Troubles dealing with Trick Room
- One potential Trick Room sweeper
- One Pokémon that could setup Trick Room but did not carry Trick Room
- An Electric immunity to cover Gyarados better
- Earthquake to abuse my four Ground immunities
- An Ice type attack to have three Ice moves on the team
- A physical attacker to balance the team
- Something to go head to head with Latios leads, Hail teams, and Trick Room teams
- Something not weak to Ice or Grass attacks, since the team didn’t enjoy fighting Abomasnow
- A reason to switch from my Expert Belt Icy Wind Cresselia to a bulky Sitrus berry set with Ice Beam
- Something that could deal with self-Swagger strategies
- A 4th Bug resist. Escavalier is terrifying under Trick Room, which I was already weak to
Typing-wise, my first thought was Excadrill. Then I looked back at the bullet point list above and realized that Excadrill did not meet all the requirements. I looked up the only other Ground/Steel type in existence and almost burst out laughing. I had suddenly realized that Steelix—a Pokémon no one ever took seriously—met all the requirements. Its sheer utility and synergy with the rest of my team was unbelievable. Steelix quickly joined the team as MVP and Gyarados’ new best friend.
Steelix is basically an incredibly bulky Trick Room Excadrill with Ice type coverage. Steelix can sweep under Trick Room with amazing coverage and raw power, while working decently well outside Trick Room due to sheer bulk. Steelix has good defensive synergy with the rest of the team, but especially with Gyarados. Steelix is virtually immune to both Rock and Electric attacks that trouble Gyarados, while Gyarados returns the favor by absorbing Ground, Fighting, Water and Fire attacks for Steelix. Steelix can wall and remove enemy Thundurus for Gyarados, while Gyarados removes Fire and Ground types for Steelix. Basic synergy right here, but wait, there’s more.
Remember Gyarados’s ability? Intimidate cuts the opponent’s Attack every time Gyarados switches in. Do you know which Pokémon has the second highest physical Defense in the game? Here’s a hint: it’s not Excadrill. That’s right, it’s Steelix, with a whopping base 200 Defense and a usable base 75 HP to back it up. With Intimidate support, Steelix can tank any physical attack in the game–even Fighting Gem Close Combats–and KO right back. To put this insane bulk into perspective, a -1 Jolly Terrakion’s Close Combat is a 3HKO.
And that’s assuming Gyarados Intimidates you only once and that I even let you touch Steelix at all. I prefer to switch Steelix away from dangerous attacks, but there are times when I need to KO a threatening Pokémon immediately. In those times, Steelix tanks nuclear physical attacks like a champ and scores key KO’s for victory. The extra options Steelix’s bulk opened up was simply incredible. Speaking of new options, Steelix breathed new life into my once-lackluster Cresselia.
Steelix’s Effect on Cresselia
While Gyarados is Steelix’s best friend, Steelix also loves Cresselia. And no, it’s not just because Cresselia avoids Earthquakes or that they absorb attacks for each other. That’s basic defensive and offensive synergy. What I’m talking about is their statistical synergy–how a Pokemon’s stats works together with another Pokemon. In this case, Steelix’s low Speed and modest Sp. Defense was a godsend to Cresselia and the rest of the team. How? Let’s take a look.
Cresselia could now use Trick Room to:
- Take advantage of Steelix’s low base 30 Speed
- Abuse Conkeldurr’s low base 45 Speed
- Exploit my team’s middling to low speed
- Combine with Thunder Wave for total speed control
The good news didn’t stop there. Cresselia could now also use Light Screen to:
- Patch up Steelix’s modest 75/65 Sp. Defense
- Effectively weaken weather, Jellicent & dragons my team struggled with
- Deal with the specially based VGC 2013 metagame in general
- Combine with Intimidate for complete power control
As you can see, Steelix indirectly strengthened Cresselia and the rest of the team with wonderful statistical synergy as well as fantastic offensive and defensive synergy. Now, my entire team benefited from Trick Room, Thunder Wave, Intimidate AND Light Screen. That’s a lot of different tools to play with, depending on the situation. If I used Excadrill instead, I would not have been able to run Trick Room due to Excadrill’s higher Speed. This would have greatly limited the team’s versatility.
Let’s move away from defensive synergy, statistical synergy and setup to talk offense. That’s how you actually win battles, after all. Anyways, Steelix’s base 85 Attack doesn’t look like much, does it? Well, when you combine that with Sheer Force, Life Orb and a surprisingly decent movepool consisting of Ice Fang, Thunder Fang, Fire Fang, Rock Slide, Crunch, Iron Head, Earthquake and even Explosion, suddenly Steelix becomes a terrifying offensive tank. Steelix can hit just about anything in the metagame harder than Metagross and slightly less than Excadrill, only with utility, coverage and synergy that complimented my team far better.
Steelix lures in Ice-weak Pokémon such as dragons, mushrooms, genies, etc. and KO’s with Ice Fang. Ice Fang also provided near-perfect coverage alongside Earthquake. Life Orb Sheer Force Ice Fang even outpowers Metagross’s Ice Punch! STAB Life Orb Sheer Force Iron Head actually hits about as hard as Metagross’s Meteor Mash. Iron Head provided great coverage and concentrated power on one target, especially on troublesome Pokemon like Abomasnow and enemy Cresselia.
Steelix is also a hilarious full-stop to Swords Dance Scizor and Swagger teams. How? Steelix can wall and KO Scizor, Thundurus, Cresselia and Metagross with its Ground/Steel typing and bulk. Steelix doesn’t even care if these Pokemon setup. Normally, players have to bend over backwards to stop Swagger with fancy tricks like Taunt and reversing Trick Room, while scrambling to survive +2 attacks. Steelix makes things very simple by just attacking until the opposing team loses all its Swag.
With the given EV spread, an Adamant nature and 24 Speed IVs, Steelix:
- Hits harder than Metagross and slightly less than Excadrill
- Survives Hitmontop’s Fighting Gem Close Combat 100% of the time without Intimidate factored in
- Outruns paralyzed Choice Scarf Tyranitar outside Trick Room
- Maximizes special bulk.
The Adamant nature and 24 Speed IVs vastly increases Steelix’s usefulness outside Trick Room against paralyzed opponents. Inside Trick Room, Steelix is still slow enough to strike before Hariyama. With the given EV and IV spread, Steelix is a force to be reckoned with in almost every occasion.
With Steelix patching up so many holes in my team, my lackluster 65% win rate suddenly jumped up to 82% in the 72 GBU battles I crammed in the week before Nationals. At Nationals, I brought Steelix to over half of my matches. Whenever I unleashed it, Steelix often did major work against the opposing team –whether by outright attacking or just being a defensive pivot–while my opponents tried to figure out what was going on.
People view Steelix as a lesser version of Excadrill when Steelix is in fact a powerful Pokemon in his own right. Steelix simply plays differently, that’s all. Opponents often chuck STAB super-effective physical attacks at Steelix, expecting to OHKO. I mean, that’s what happens with Excadrill, who is supposedly “better”. But this isn’t some standard flimsy Excadrill we’re talking about here. We’re talking about Steelix, who’s here to tank your weak attacks and KO right back with real power. Speaking of tanking, let’s take a look at Steelix’s lady friend below.
Hylia the Cresselia
Poke Ball: Heal Ball
EVs: 220 HP/60 Defense/180 Sp. Attack/44 Sp. Defense/6 Speed
Item: Sitrus Berry
“Along your travels you have found wisdom, power, and courage, and for this I shall bless your sword with the goddess’s power”
I used Cresselia on this team to:
- KO dragons and other Ice-weak Pokemon with Ice Beam
- Tank and KO Fighting types like Hitmontop & Terrakion
- KO Amoonguss and Breloom with Psychic
- Setup Trick Room
- Setup Light Screen
I’ve already discussed Cresselia’s utility under Steelix’s section. Moving along.
The given EV spread lets Cresselia:
- Survive the attacks below to ensure setup
- Adamant Tyranitar’s Dark Gem Crunch
- Modest Volcarona’s Bug Gem Bug Buzz
- Modest Kingdra’s Life Orb Helping Hand STAB and rain-boosted Hydro Pump
- Guarantee the OHKO on
- 4/0 Salamence with Ice Beam
- 4/0 Breloom with Psychic, which Psyshock can’t do without an Expert Belt
- Minimize weather damage
The 6 remaining EVs went towards Speed because there was nowhere else to put them. I ran a Calm nature instead of Sassy because I’m fighting outside Trick Room quite often. With this set, I am able to setup Trick Room and Light Screen as much as possible while dishing out decent damage.
I brought Cresselia to all but one game at Nationals. There’s always something she could do, whether it was attacking or setting up. She does operate slower than any other Pokemon on my team though. Now let’s take a look at the Pokemon who’s just the opposite.
Envy the Hydreigon
Poke Ball: Dusk Ball
EVs: 140 HP/6 Defense/124 Sp. Attack/4 Sp. Defense/236 Speed
Item: Dragon Gem
“Fool, you just have to forsake one little village to save an entire country. Too bad you don’t have the stomach to do the logical thing. Ha ha, I shouldn’t be surprised, that’s just how all you humans are. You put emotions before common sense”
Rotom-W, Jellicent and Ferrothorn are incredibly annoying for my precious Twin Snakes, so Hydreigon comes to the rescue. Hydreigon resists almost all Rotom forms and often KOs with a Dragon Gem Draco Meteor. Flamethrower deals with Ferrothorn, Metagross, Excadrill, Scizor, Abomasnow and other dangerous Pokemon. Dark Pulse removes pesky Pokemon such as enemy Cresselia, Jellicent and Chandelure for the team. My team has a slower, bulkier battle style, so Hydreigon provides immediate offense to score KO’s very quickly. This lets my team can continue tanking attacks in peace.
Like the other Pokemon I used, Hydreigon has excellent defensive synergy with the rest of the team. However, Hydreigon stands out for providing a second Electric resistance for Gyarados to switch to, especially since most Electric types fall to Hydreigon. Hydreigon is also a key anti-weather Pokémon on this team, given support. Speaking of which, the dedicated speed and power control measures on this team let Hydreigon emerge victorious at Nationals over teams packed with faster dragons such as Salamence. Hydreigon actually tied with Cresselia as my most used Pokemon in Swiss, surprisingly.
The given EV spread allows Hydreigon to:
- Reach a Sp. Attack stat equal to Timid 252 EV Hydreigon to deal massive damage with Draco Meteor
- Outrun max speed positive base 70’s and neutral base 95’s like Breloom and Arcanine
- Life Orb Technician Breloom’s Mach Punch
- Adamant Tornadus’s Flying Gem Acrobatics
- Jolly Garchomp’s Dragon Claw
The extra bulk looks odd on Hydreigon, but has saved me time and time again, especially in Nationals. I didn’t bother using a Timid nature with more Speed because the only significant faster threats were other dragons and musketeers, which the rest of my team can handle. Hydreigon herself can handle them given Trick Room or paralysis support, so the remaining EVs were more productive in bulk.
Speaking of paralysis support, let’s move on to the most hated Pokemon in VGC.
Lanayru the Thundurus
Poke Ball: Quick Ball
EVs: 172 HP/30 Sp. Attack/252 Sp. Defense/56 Speed
Item: Electric Gem
-Hidden Power Ice
“That was not your finest, I have to say! No new record. Seriously, maybe you could step it up a little bit next time”
Bulky Thundurus satisfied my paralysis and Taunting needs in one convenient package that also happened to hit Rotom-W, Metagross, Scizor and other such Pokemon fairly hard. Thundurus also complimented my team well defensively. HP Ice was useful for 2HKOing Thundurus-T and Breloom in particular, granting perfect coverage alongside Thunderbolt. Taunt stops popular setup, status, or support moves such as Spore, Trick Room, and Follow Me.
The given EV spread allows Thundurus to
- Outrun positive base 70’s and neutral base 85’s such as Breloom, Hitmontop, and Nidoking
- Survive Timid Latios’s Dragon Gem Draco Meteor
Trick Trick Room
As mentioned earlier, I have both Thunder Wave and Trick Room on the same team. Yes, they are contradictory methods of speed control. But together, they make my team versatile and let me change tactics quickly. I might go into a match planning to use Thunder Wave for speed control, only to shift gears on turn 1 to go into Trick Room mode instead. My entire team is built to take advantage of either Trick Room or Thunder Wave at any time. Contradictory speed control also gave me a huge advantage at Nationals against opponents with Amoonguss. These opponents always brought Amoonguss against me to try stopping Trick Room, only to get Taunted and see paralysis spreading through their team instead.
Now let’s move on to the last Pokemon on the team that can take advantage of paralysis and cover Thundurus’s weaknesses.
Gluttony the Conkeldurr
Poke Ball: Poke Ball
EVs: 212 HP/28 Attack/30 Defense/236 Sp. Defense/4 Speed
IVs: 8 Speed
Ability: Iron Fist
Item: Lum Berry
“Ugh! They’re making me mad. All I want to do is eat! But you won’t let me eat you and I’m getting hungrier!”
This team slot belonged to a bulky Fighting type who could beat down Tyranitar, Excadrill, Terrakion, Heatran, Ferrothorn, Volcarona, Shedinja, Gyarados, Chandelure, Thundurus, Zapdos, Abomasnow and other such Pokémon for my team. This Fighting type would also have to carry Lum berry to give the team a better chance against Breloom, Liepard and Amoonguss while still hitting hard. Conkeldurr fit the bill and did his job very well. Drain Punch increased Conkeldurr’s longevity and fit my bulky offense playstyle very well, while Mach Punch was instrumental in picking off weakened Pokemon. Stone Edge was only used in emergencies.
With the given EV spread, a Brave nature, and 8 Speed IVs, Conkeldurr
- Outspeeds paralyzed Choice Scarf Tyranitar outside of Trick Room
- Still strikes first under Trick Room before Hariyama
- Minimizes weather damage to take full advantage of Drain Punch’s healing
- Modest Life Orb Hydreigon’s Draco Meteor
- Zen Headbutt from Metagross
- Jolly Tornadus’s Acrobatics after already using up Flying Gem
- Maximizes Attack after above conditions met
More offensive sets with Life Orb are more popular nowadays than bulkier variants. My team has a bulky offense playstyle–I needed Conkeldurr to stick around as long as possible. I was perfectly fine with only 2HKOing threats since Conkeldurr often survived long enough to finish the job, especially when backed by Intimidate, Light Screen, and Drain Punch’s healing. Also, my team needed Conkeldurr to hold a Lum berry to stave off Spore. Life Orb was taken by Steelix. Great staying power meant Fighting Gem was a bad idea. All these facts justified running a bulkier set, and I have no regrets doing so.
Conkeldurr was very useful at Nationals, sweeping under Trick Room or even outside it. Conkeldurr dealt with common Pokémon such as Tyranitar, Excadrill and Bisharp while picking off weakened opponents with Mach Punch. My use of a bulky Fighting type that didn’t rely on Close Combat to deal meaningful damage contributed heavily to the team’s success.
If you made it all the way down here, thanks for sticking with me! Now that we’ve analyzed each Pokemon on my team, let me show you how different combinations of my Pokemon worked.
Team Synergy and Combinations
First off, this team is built so that anything can and should be able to lead depending on what I see on Team Preview. Oftentimes, I’ll just lead with the two Pokémon that can do the most work against an opposing team with the appropriate backups, though this isn’t a foolproof method. Choosing the right Pokémon really just comes down to good judgment. I’ll just describe a few notable (lead) combinations:
I don’t think I need to explain this one again. Moving along.
My Twin Snakes are joined by their draconian cousin, Hydreigon, to become the Triple Snakes. These three form a core that resists every type barring Ice, which isn’t an issue since my snakes easily KO common Ice users. What’s noteworthy is that the Pokemon that can stop Gyarados and Steelix in their tracks–Rotom-W, Rotom-H, Jellicent, Ferrothorn, Shedinja and to some extent Gastrodon–all get massacred by Hydreigon. I can also go Double Dragon mode by leading with Gyarados and Hydreigon, with Steelix in the back instead.
My favorite three Pokémon combination of all. Gyarados starts off by Intimidating opposing physical attackers and either attacks, Dragon Dances, Protects or switches away to Steelix while Cresselia, depending on the opposing team, either sets up Trick Room, Light Screen, attacks or just switches. The fourth Pokémon slot is typically occupied by Conkeldurr or Hydreigon, depending on the opposing team. Almost no matter what, this combination has great synergy and options in battle and was probably my favorite go-to option against many opponents. I can work around dragons with this combination, but would rather default towards my Thundurus+Cresselia lead if I can to deal with them.
Trick Trick Room
+ / (optional third member)
A fairly standard lead combo that can notably lead into almost anything except Tyranitar, against whom I can easily switch Conkeldurr, Steelix or someone else in. Speaking of Steelix, this combination is part of my Trick Trick Room strategy–depending on what I see on Team Preview and my opponent’s chosen leads, I can trick my opponents into thinking I’ll spam Thunder Wave, only to switch Thundurus out for Steelix while setting up Trick Room at the same time. Then I can start an early sweep since common leads like Latios and Tyranitar just can’t handle Steelix. Or, I could actually spread paralysis when my opponent expects Trick Room and sweep with Steelix or someone later.
This is my second go-to lead option that I enjoy using. This particular lead combo lets me setup win conditions with speed control and Light Screen—especially against rain where I can bait Kingdra into Protecting, setup Light Screen to weaken rain attacks against the team while Thundurus can immediately start hammering down on Politoed. If I’m fortunate, I can remove Politoed, debuff rain and have Cresselia join the fray offensively against Kingdra and friends all in one turn. This lead is also really helpful against dragon leads since I can fire off Thunder Wave and setup Light Screen to result in a dead-weight dragon staring at me sadly from the opposing side. The anti-dragon nature of this lead is one of the more distinguishing features compared to my Cresselia+Gyarados lead. Crippled dragons are also much easier for Hydreigon in particular to deal with.
Speaking of dragons, it’s time for:
What did you say? Thundurus is not a dragon? Wrong. Lanayru the Thundurus is nicknamed after the Thunder Dragon in Skyward Sword, and that’s good enough. Anyways, Thundurus and Hydreigon can dismantle rain, sun and Trick Room teams. I usually don’t actually lead with these two against rain and Trick Room, though, since Cresselia does a better job than Hydreigon in those situations. Thundurus usually leads while Hydreigon waits in the back for opportunities.
Admittedly, I didn’t use this lead combo too often, even though these two Pokémon synergize well together. They are notably my main clean-up crew sitting in the back, waiting to switch in and resist a hit if my leads are in trouble.
Like many other combinations on my team, this lead is primarily picked if it can deal a lot of damage to the opposing team. However, this particular lead does threaten and dismantle Dark Gem Liepard + Focus Sash Breloom leads. Conkeldurr can deal massive damage to both, wields priority and has Lum berry to block Spore. Either way, I also try to get a Taunt off on Breloom to put myself in a better position.
Three Deadly Sins
The first three villains introduced in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood—Lust, Envy, and Gluttony—also happen to form my Dark-Fighting-Psychic-core. Cresselia (Lust) provides speed control and Light Screen while also KOing things. The other two just attack. Not much else to say here.
These are just a few notable combinations. Others that haven’t been mentioned typically work well if they’re used right.
In general, this team has at least two answers to pretty much everything in the metagame (or at least, those I’ve come across/thought of). This is a goodstuffs team. Success depends on accurately reading and appropriately reacting to the opponent’s team. As long as I play smart, I feel like I have a fighting chance against almost anything. Anyways, no team is perfect—there’s always a few Pokémon you just have to play around. And for this team, they Jellicent (especially on hail teams), Ferrothorn and Shedinja.
I can only touch Shedinja with Hydreigon and Conkeldurr, which is still risky. Hydreigon doesn’t like taking X-Scissors while Conkeldurr might miss with Stone Edge. I’m lucky I haven’t had to fight Shedinja at all in VGC 2013.
My best bets against Jellicent are Light Screen Cresselia, Thundurus and Hydreigon, who can both deal massive damage but not OHKO. Light Screen does buy a lot of extra time to KO Jellicent, however, given Jellicent’s average base 85 Sp. Attack. I’ll describe this later, but hail teams with Jellicent tend to be a nightmare since this team has no Ice resists and I often can’t bring Thundurus against them. This leaves me with just Hydreigon and Conkeldurr to deal meaningful damage.
Ferrothorn is a pain. Only Hydreigon and Conkeldurr can deal any significant damage to it. I have to preserve those two the best I can while hopefully sneaking in a Taunt from Thundurus to stop Leech Seed. Luckily, I rarely had to fight Ferrothorn in VGC 2013. The few times I fought it, I was always able to play around it. That said, it’s still incredibly annoying.
Common Team Archetypes
I usually let Thundurus and Cresselia do their thing here. Against Politoed+Kingdra, I usually go straight for the Politoed with Thundurus while setting up Light Screen to weaken rain-boosted attacks. Then, I just go from there with either paralysis, Trick Room, Gyarados, Hydreigon or Conkeldurr, depending on the battle.
I love fighting sand teams. Conkeldurr, Gyarados and Steelix shine here, with Hydreigon doing some work here as well. Sand is typically blended with goodstuffs teams, which is why my reactions also vary. Cresselia can also do some work here with Trick Room and Ice Beam to knock down dragons, Landorus and other Ice-weak Pokémon, though I do have to keep her away from Tyranitar. Intimidate support and base 200 Defense lets Steelix steamroll over common sand Pokémon such as Tyranitar, Excadrill, Landorus-T and Garchomp very easily.
Hail is hands-down the toughest of all teams to fight. No Pokémon on my team resists Ice and Detect is generally superior to Wide Guard on my Conkeldurr, so I need to stop Blizzard spam quickly. Light Screen is an absolute necessity when fighting these teams. Hydreigon, Conkeldurr and Steelix all pack super-effective moves to throw at hail Pokémon. The latter two in particular tend to show hailroom teams how Trick Room Pokémon really get things done. Jellicent in particular is annoying on these teams because of how I often can’t bring Thundurus, leaving me with just Hydreigon and Conkeldurr to deal any meaningful damage. Gyarados may also make an appearance, depending on the opposing team.
Thundurus alone causes massive problems for sun teams with Thunder Wave to slow down sweepers and Taunt to stop Sleep Powder users. Conkeldurr enjoys having paralyzed opponents and can do some work against Heatran, Ninetales and friends. Hydreigon resists both Fire and Grass attacks and thus matches up fairly well against sun, while Cresselia just attacks or sets up Light Screen. Usually things go well here, but Richard Ashby managed to defeat me with what I later found out was Lajo’s sun team. Things were going great until I lost Thundurus, Hydreigon got Power Swapped -2 Sp. Attack from Ninetales. I also inexplicably didn’t setup Trick Room to just sweep with Conkeldurr but I’ll explain that battle in the warstory section.
I also love fighting Trick Rom teams. Steelix and Conkeldurr have a tendency to go on a rampage under Trick Room if given the chance. Things get difficult for my opponent when those two become even harder to KO thanks to Gyarados’s Intimidate and Cresselia’s Light Screen. Reversing Trick Room also buys me even more time to attack. Against Trick Room teams with Amoonguss on them, I typically bring Thundurus for Taunt and also bring my Lum berry Conkeldurr as backup.
These can be either difficult or manageable, depending on the opposing lineup and the opponent’s skill. Steelix does quite a bit of work against many of these Pokemon. There’s really not much to say here. Just have to read and react, as usual.
So I think I’ve talked to death about the ins and outs of my team. For those of you who made it all the way down here, thank you so much for your attention. Now let’s look at my battles in Nationals.
WARNING: I did not take notes during Nationals. I will do my best to recreate the battles from memory. I apologize in advance for inaccuracies.
Round 1—Adam Lapsudin
Team Preview came up and I saw what looked like a standard rain team straight from the early 2012 season. Adam led Politoed and Amoonguss while I led Thundurus and Cresselia. I had the immediate advantage. I Taunted Amoonguss, stopping Spore, while setting up Light Screen with Cresselia. Politoed does…something, I forget what.
At some point a Tornadus and Ludicolo showed up. Tornadus stopped me from Thunder Waving with Taunt, revealing Prankster. This meant I could switch Gyarados in safely. A few turns went by, where my Electric Gem Thunderbolt didn’t OHKO Tornadus due to a Focus Sash. Ludicolo got paralyzed and Politoed went down soon afterwards. Hydreigon fired off a Draco Meteor somewhere to OHKO something, I forget what exactly. Cresselia got Spored by Amoonguss after Thundurus finally went down to Ludicolo’s Ice Beam. Gyarados flinched the Amoonguss with a Water Gem Waterfall further boosted by rain. At the end of the battle, my Gyarados, Cresselia, and Hydreigon were up against a lone Amoonguss. The match was mine.
Round 2—Trevor Kitzmiller
First thing I noticed on Team Preview was a Terrakion and the three other Fighting weak Pokémon Trevor ended up bringing to the battle. Ferrothorn was especially noteworthy because of how terrifying that thing was if I couldn’t KO with Conkeldurr or Hydreigon. I didn’t feel comfortable about bringing Hydreigon in this match for some reason (I can’t remember his last Pokémon), so I knew Conkeldurr must not get KO’d if I was to win this match.
Battle begins and he opens with Salamence and Tyranitar while I lead with Cresselia and Gyarados. I switched Gyarados out for Steelix while setting up Trick Room with Cresselia. Trevor makes the safe play and switches his Tyranitar out for Ferrothorn, which makes me think he expected Gyarados to go on the offensive with Waterfall. Salamence Draco Meteored either Cresselia or my switch-in Steelix, but I was fine and setup Trick Room successfully. Ten whole minutes went by where both of us tried maneuvering around each other, landing occasional blows but not actually KOing any Pokémon. Steelix was incredibly useful as a defensive pivot in this match, though he also scored a KO somewhere. His Ferrothorn did manage to setup Leech Seed though, which worried me since it stacked with sand damage, forcing me to switch even more.
However, after a little bit more maneuvering, I was able to setup Trick Room again. I OHKO’d the Salamence with Cresselia’s Ice Beam while Conkeldurr eventually KO’d Excadrill as well. At that point, Conkeldurr, Cresselia and Steelix (or Gyarados, I know one of my snakes was left) were left against Ferrothorn and time was running out. I just timer stalled the last turn, even though I could have just Drain Punched for the finishing blow. I didn’t want to take any chances. Trevor actually told me beforehand that that was the smart thing to do. Timer stalling was within the rules, after all. I was happy to have battled a good player and even more impressed with his sportsmanship.
Round 3—Kevin Reed (future 7th seed, 20th Place finish)
This was the closest battle I had all day that was thankfully also free from the RNG. Battle video below:
My battle against Kevin shows how some of my tricks—like bulky Hydreigon, EV spreads that reduce sand damage, Light Screen, etc.—all paid off big time in Nationals.
Round 4—Chris Warden
This was a pretty interesting battle. Team Preview came up and I immediately grew worried. Chris had my worst enemy Jellicent backed by its equally annoying friend Abomasnow, who could hit my entire team at least neutrally with STAB Blizzards. And because rain likes to remind me how much I hate it, Politoed was there too. What scared me most was how in the 72 GBU battles I had the week before Nationals, I never fought a single Jellicent. This was going to be my first time going up against it with my vastly updated team.
I immediately knew that Light Screen Cresselia was my key to winning this. This way, Hydreigon would have more opportunities to deal with Jellicent. Thundurus, my other quick Jellicent counter, wouldn’t be able to battle here since I generally avoid bringing two Blizzard weak Pokemon against a hail team. Thundurus couldn’t even scratch Abomasnow, who could switch in to Thunderbolt to no end and waste Thundurus’s turns.
I also saw that since Chris had such a slow team, I’d be fighting under Trick Room most of the time, so Conkeldurr would also be a good pick here to deal with Politoed and especially Abomasnow. While Steelix normally does great under Trick Room, a Trick Room team with a rain mode was something Steelix needed to stay away from. So I just went with Gyarados to better cover Politoed and Abomasnow
Battle begins and it turns out I read his team pretty well. He led with Jellicent and Hitmontop while I led with Cresselia and Gyarados, with our physical attackers cutting each other’s Attack. Hitmontop definitely got the short end of the deal here though due to lead matchups. He used Fake Out on Gyarados to stop what he probably thought was an incoming Taunt, while I setup Light Screen with Cresselia. Jellicent Trick Roomed. I Dragon Danced with Gyarados to get my Attack stat back up to +0 while I reversed Trick Room with Cresselia. I honestly can’t remember what Chris did with either Pokémon but I successfully reversed Trick Room and eventually KO’d his Hitmontop.
I alternated between reversing his Trick Room again and setting up another Light Screen while the Politoed eventually switched in and started healing Jellicent with Surf. Thanks to my Light Screen, Surf dealt negligible damage to my team. At one point, the Abomasnow switched back in. I landed a critical hit on Abomasnow on the switch with Gyarados’s Return. I decided not to reverse Trick Room for a third time because I was afraid Chris might predict that and reset Trick Room on the same turn. I also knew I had Conkeldurr waiting in the back, ready to clean up under Trick Room, so I decided to sacrifice my weakened Gyarados to give Conkeldurr a free switch-in.
Chris was surprised by just how good Light Screen was against his team, especially after Gyarados survived a Blizzard from Abomasnow and an Ice Gem Blizzard from Jellicent with just 5 HP left. My Gyarados wasn’t even at full HP at the beginning of the turn! Gyarados then KO’d Abomasnow with Return before getting KO’d himself to hail damage. Cresselia went down to hail damage as well.
Now I had my full HP Hydreigon and Conkeldurr left against a full HP Jellicent and 40% HP Politoed. Conkeldurr moved first under Trick Room, Drain Punching Politoed for the KO. Jellicent launched another Blizzard. I prayed I wouldn’t get frozen. Conkeldurr got frozen but Lum berry defrosted it. Thanks to Light Screen, Hydreigon only took about 33% from the attack, which surprised both me and especially Chris even further. Light Screen and my bulky Hydreigon spread once again showed just how good they were here. I fired a Dark Pulse to bring Jellicent down to about 40%. Next turn, Conkeldurr finished it off with Stone Edge.
This battle was notable because it shows how my team was able to play around some of its worst enemies—Jellicent and Abomasnow—by setting up Light Screen, abusing or reversing Trick Room, and exploiting my team’s defensive synergy and bulk. That said, I hoped I wouldn’t have to fight this kind of team again at Nationals. Once was enough.
Round 5—Demitri Camperos (darksoulSP, future 2nd seed, 3rd Place finish)
Ugh. This match. So hilarious, yet oh so painful. Three words: Sand Veil Garchomp.
When I saw his team on Team Preview, I decided to lead Thundurus and Hydreigon to threaten both Amoonguss and Bisharp, since both Pokémon have a habit of leading against me. And even if he sent out Garchomp or Tyranitar to threaten Thundurus, I could just fall back on Steelix and Conkeldurr instead.
Battle begins and he leads exactly as I predicted him to, putting me in a good position. I Taunt his Amoonguss as it Rage Powders (I think), drawing Hydreigon’s Flamethrower in as well to drop it down to maybe 30%. Bisharp, I think, either Low Kicks Hydreigon or uses a failed Sucker Punch on Thundurus. Turn 2, I Thunder Wave his Amoonguss only to get blocked by Lum berry. I used Thunder Wave on Amoonguss because I was worried he might be using fast Amoonguss, which I remembered Human using in Tuesday Night Fights. I didn’t want my Steelix, sitting in the back, to get outrun and Spored by surprise. I think I Flamethrowered Bisharp at this turn to bring it down to its Focus Sash while it Low Kicks Hydreigon down to the yellow HP zone. Next turn, I Thunder Wave Amoonguss and finally get it paralyzed to make sure Steelix moves first.
Amoonguss Giga Drains my Conkeldurr after I switch him in for Hydreigon to try picking Bisharp off with Mach Punch. In retrospect, maybe I should have left Hydreigon in, but I was worried for some reason that a Sucker Punch would KO. Anyways, I hit Amoonguss with two HP Ices for the next two turns while Conkeldurr’s Mach Punch gets blocked by Bisharp’s Protect twice in a row. Amoonguss kept Giga Draining Conkeldurr down, which worried me. I was sure there was a Tyranitar or something Conkeldurr could deal with sitting in the back. I didn’t want to lose Conkeldurr just yet.
At some point he switches Amoonguss out for Tyranitar to tank my Thundurus’s HP Ice (I think), no doubt to get rid of Taunt and activate Regenerator. Demitri also switches Garchomp in for Bisharp as I fire my third Mach Punch. It hits and reveals Leftovers on Garchomp at the end of the turn. I grew worried about Sand Veil but there was nothing I could do about it. I forget what exactly I did with Thundurus this turn. I think I fired a Drain Punch at Tyranitar, who Protected, while I fired an HP Ice at Garchomp and then
Garchomp avoided the attack!
Garchomp used Substitute!
That didn’t go well. I got a little worried, but I still have four Pokémon. I should be fine, right?
Details get a little fuzzy, but Amoonguss switched back in for Tyranitar to tank any Fighting attacks my Conkeldurr may throw its way while Thundurus did…something, I forget. I think Garchomp attacked Thundurus, bringing it down to low health. I think I tried Drain Punching Garchomp and then
Garchomp avoided the attack!
I think Conkeldurr went down to sand damage afterwards, but I can’t remember exactly. I did switch my weakened Hydreigon in to replace it.
Now I was getting pretty worried.
I Taunted Amoonguss before Garchomp took down Thundurus. I think he ignored Hydreigon because he thought I might Protect whereas I chose to Dark Pulse. At this point, I got desperate. Sorry, I’m really fuzzy on the details, but I realized earlier that the only way I could win against Garchomp now was to bluff a Choice Scarf on Hydreigon and spam Dark Pulse until the Substitute was broken. Meanwhile, I could have Steelix deal with Garchomp’s partners—which Steelix was more than capable of doing. Then Steelix could finish off Garchomp itself with Ice Fang while tanking Earthquake. Garchomp did something–I forget what–but then afterwards this happened:
Hydreigon used Dark Pulse!
Garchomp avoided the attack!
Ugh. Not again. Demitri must have fallen for my bluff though, because then he Protects his Garchomp’s Substitute while my full health Steelix—newly switched in and ready to fight—KO’d Tyranitar with Iron Head. Garchomp then called my bluff and took down my weakened Hydreigon, with its Substitute still intact.
In retrospect, I should have Protected Hydreigon this turn to give myself a slightly better chance in this battle, even with Garchomp dodging all my attacks. I also might have gone overboard earlier in the battle with making sure Steelix wouldn’t get outsped by a potential fast Amoonguss.
Anyways, after getting hit by Bisharp’s Low Kick, Steelix took down Bisharp and Amoonguss in quick succession, furious at the RNG gods for allowing Garchomp to get away with Sand Veil 3 times in a row. Steelix tanked Garchomp’s Earthquake, but was running low on health. It went for an Ice Fang on Garchomp, hoping to at least break its Substitute before going down.
Garchomp avoided the attack!
In the end, even the mighty Steelix, he who KO’d all of Garchomp’s partners, failed to land a single hit on Garchomp as well.
I actually wasn’t mad or phased at all by Demitri’s Garchomp. Nor did I lose motivation after all those Sand Veil evades and the double Protect earlier. I thought the battle was hilarious, actually. My team tried countering Garchomp in what I thought was the best way possible with the tools it had. I had accepted when teambuilding that since I didn’t have a way to change weather, Sand Veil Garchomp might be able to win against me if it got three avoids or so. I was content with the way I built my team and the way I played this match. Looking back, I believe I played almost flawlessly. I also knew and accepted that the RNG can ruin even the best plays sometimes. Not only that, but over the past year, I’ve gotten better at managing the RNG–especially the part about not letting the RNG take away my cool and focus. I did my best, so I had no regrets!
Speaking of which, the RNG actually made the battle pretty entertaining. Demitri and I even chatted a bit during and after the match, laughing when both Garchomp and Steelix went into hero mode, with their pride as Ground types on the line. Demitri also complimented me on my Steelix since he thought it was a cool Pokémon, especially since it went on a rampage later on in the match. I was pretty happy to see him Top Cut and eventually make Worlds as well.
Round 6—Alex Valente (avdc90, future 20th seed, 7th Place finish)
I’m really sorry, but I can’t remember much of what happened in this match at all. I do remember that it was a great battle that ended in a win for me. I also remember not bringing Steelix.
Round 7—Rick Guerra (2nd Place in Florida Regionals, future 12th seed, 21st Place finish)
Sorry, I forgot what Pokémon I ended up fighting here too. Rick was the first opponent I faced who had a bye coming into Nationals. I remember getting pretty lucky against him by immobilizing some of his Pokémon with full paralysis. The paralysis helped give me a commanding lead in battle that Rick wasn’t able to come back from. I think Steelix nabbed a KO or didn’t even have to battle here despite me bringing it. Rick did make an interesting comment though: he brought Amoonguss to counter what he thought was my Trick Room mode only to see paralysis spread through his team. Seems like my Trick Trick Room strategy was working quite well today.
Just like the first Adam I fought in this tournament, I got some VGC 2012 vibes from this team, with a possible Defiant Tornadus to add to the mix. That would make leading with Gyarados unwise. I decided pretty quickly that a lead of Thundurus and Cresselia would be able to shut his team down pretty quickly. Anything that could break past Thundurus and Cresselia would get eaten alive by Steelix, so I kept him in the back along with Hydreigon. Hydreigon would be able to eliminate Zapdos for Steelix should it somehow get past Thundurus without being paralyzed or if I wasn’t able to setup Trick Room.
Adam leads with Tornadus and Garchomp against my Thundurus and Cresselia and I immediately have the advantage. Turn one, he uses a Flying Gem Acrobatics on Cresselia, activating Sitrus Berry, while Garchomp either Rock Slides or Dragon Claws either of my Pokémon, I don’t remember which. Most likely Thundurus given how much hate he draws. Thundurus OHKO’s Tornadus with Electric Gem Thunderbolt while my Cresselia’s Ice Beam slams into a Yache berry on Garchomp. However, Ice Beam did enough to where I knew a second Ice Beam would KO Garchomp.
Zapdos then switched in and I immediately paralyzed it with Thunder Wave to put it under both Hydreigon and Steelix. Garchomp took out Thundurus, who in turn fell to my Cresselia’s Ice Beam…I think. Here’s where details get fuzzy. I think I later KO’d it with Dragon Gem Draco Meteor, then setup Trick Room once Latios showed up. Dual speed control is so good. Anyways, I still had Hydreigon out at -2 Sp. Attack. I then setup a quick Light Screen to shield Steelix and Cresselia as an extra precaution should Hydreigon go down. Hydreigon and Cresselia were able to deal with Latios quickly and win the battle. I think once again, Steelix’s partners defeated the opposing team before Steelix himself could end the fight.
Round 9—Richard Ashby (TheAshAttack, future 5th seed, 9th Place finish)
I met Ashby earlier with a few friends and knew he was a strong opponent. Going into this round people were congratulating me for making Top Cut since I got seven wins but I refused to accept that I got Top Cut until I saw the results with my own eyes. I didn’t want that to mess with my head or to get extremely disappointed if the person who said all 7-2’s would make it was wrong. Unfortunately, what we want and what actually happens are two very different things. I didn’t play well in this battle.
Team Preview came up and I saw what I later learned was Lajo’s sun team. I decided to lead Thundurus and Cresselia, with Hydreigon and Conkeldurr in the back to deal with the sun portion of the team and especially for that Heatran. Steelix had no business fighting a sun team, even with Trick Room up. I didn’t bring Gyarados because I didn’t like having to Dragon Dance up against the sun to deal meaningful damage. In retrospect, I probably should have brought Gyarados instead of Hydreigon anyways.
Battle begins and he leads with Ninetales and Thundurus while I lead with Thundurus and Cresselia. As a rule, I usually never try setting up with Cresselia or Thundurus against an enemy Thundurus/opposing Prankster. For some reason, I decided it was a bright idea to risk breaking this rule. I thought Ashby would predict that I would predict that he would Taunt. Thus, from his standpoint, I would obviously choose to smack his Thundurus with Ice Beam instead, which would mean a wasted turn if he did Taunt. I decided to use Light Screen to weaken the sun-boosted Heat Waves while firing off an Electric Gem Thunderbolt on Ninetales.
Ashby’s Thundurus plays it safe and goes for the Taunt on Cresselia as I feared, stopping my Light Screen. Ninetales loses over half its health from Thunderbolt and becomes fully paralyzed that turn, causing Ashby to laugh and me to smile apologetically. Then his Thundurus Taunted my Thundurus, but I double targeted his Thundurus, paralyzing with Thunderbolt (which didn’t matter) and immediately KOing with Ice Beam. Ninetales then OHKO’d my bulky Thundurus with a Fire Gem sun-boosted Overheat, which took me by surprise.
I switched in Hydreigon as Ashby switched Scrafty in. I planned to go straight for the Dragon Gem Draco Meteor on Scrafty while switching Cresselia out for Conkeldurr to better handle said Scrafty. Looking back, I should have just stayed in and used Ice Beam on Scrafty to pick up the KO. Scrafty used Fake Out on Hydreigon while Ninetales surprised me by Power Swapping his -2 Sp. Attack onto my Hydreigon.
Uh-oh. There goes my plan of ignoring Ninetales and dealing massive damage to Scrafty with my Dragon Gem Draco Meteor. I really liked that play Ashby made though. Lajo , the original teambuilder, definitely knew what he was doing when he put Power Swap on Ninetales. This way, he could take advantage of situations exactly like this.
I switched Hydreigon out for Cresselia to regain my Sp. Attack while KOing Ninetales with Drain Punch to prevent another nuclear Overheat and more Power Swap. Heatran switched in and I still had a 3-2 lead despite of playing sub-optimally. Now it was his Heatran and Scrafty against my Conkeldurr and Cresselia, with Hydreigon in the back. For some reason, I decided I should set up Light Screen instead of Trick Room, even though Conkeldurr clearly underspeeds both Scrafty and Heatran. I think I avoided Trick Room because I wasn’t sure whether Cresselia was faster than Heatran or not. I also didn’t want Hydreigon to get outsped by both Scrafty and Heatran under Trick Room. I Detect with Conkeldurr while Heatran sets up a Substitute and Cresselia uses Light Screen. Scrafty’s Drain Punch gets blocked by Detect.
Uh-oh. Now Heatran could just spam sun-boosted Heat Waves to heavily damage Conkeldurr, even through Light Screen. Scrafty could continue outspeeding and hitting Conkeldurr hard with Drain Punch. I forget what happened in these turns, though I did get a couple lucky Heat Wave misses on Cresselia. I just couldn’t break that combination. Not setting up Trick Room earlier and not preserving Hydreigon or Thundurus properly was putting myself further and further in a hole I couldn’t escape from. However, both of us were laughing like maniacs at the bad RNG I kept throwing at him with the Heat Wave avoids and the paralysis earlier.
Near the end, I finally got my act together a little too late and set up Trick Room. I needed Conkeldurr to dodge two consecutive Heat Waves: the first after breaking Heatran’s Substitute, with the second for actually KOing Heatran right after Trick Room ended if it chose to attack instead of setting up another Substitute.
This was going to take a miracle to pull off. But I wasn’t going to give up yet! When the going gets tough, the tough become one with their Pokemon, anime-style. Especially when you’re battling a guy named Ashby aka TheAshAttack on Nugget Bridge.
After choosing our moves, Ashby spoke:
Ashby: “I swear, if that Heat Wave misses your Conkeldurr…never mind, it’s gonna miss”
Conkeldurr used Drain Punch!
Heatran’s Substitute faded!
Heatran used Heat Wave!
Me: *mocks Pokémon anime* “Conkeldurr, dodge it!”
Conkeldurr avoided the attack!
Ashby’s disbelief sharply rose!
Ashby’s amusement sharply rose!
Adib is paralyzed with laughter! He can’t move!
Yes, this actually happened. This turn right here might have been the best part of Nationals for me, honestly. We almost died laughing. I only had Conkeldurr and Cresselia left against Heatran, and Trick Room just ended. I knew that the only way I could win was to become one with my Conkeldurr again and dodge the next Heat Wave (if there was one incoming) to score the KO Drain Punch. I believed Detect would be too risky the following turn because I figured Ashby would just setup Substitute again while I Trick Roomed.
After selecting our moves:
Ashby: “Let’s see if you can dodge this Heat Wave!”
Me: *mocks Pokémon anime again* “Conkeldurr, dodge and use Drain Punch again!”
Heatran used Heat Wave!
Well, that was a good try, but clearly I didn’t become one with my Pokémon like the turn before. I didn’t believe and trust in them as much as I should have, which is clearly why Cresselia then went down to burn damage resulting from the Heat Wave.
Thus I comically lost a second time in Swiss due to some absolutely horrible plays on my part, but honestly, I didn’t care. We had an incredibly fun battle with (what turned out to be) no important consequences regarding Top Cut. This was also the one match (so far) where I didn’t play optimally, so I was still relatively pleased with how I had been playing thus far. I was glad Ashby was able to play his way out of the RNG that kept getting thrown against him, since he played better than I did in that game.
This battle was notable in that it was probably the only sun team I battled in VGC 2012 and 2013 that was actually good. Major props to Lajo for excellent teambuilding. I may have lost, but I walked away with experience on how to better fight this kind of team in the future.
Swiss Rounds were over. Rankings went up–and I made Top Cut as the 8th seed with Steelix! I ended up with what I think was the second highest resistance out of the entire competition, even though I didn’t have a bye. Only four of my opponents didn’t make Top Cut themselves. I was pretty excited for making Top Cut for the first time.
Top 32—No show
Top 16—Randy Kwa (R Inanimate, 9th seed, 4th Place finish)
Rematch from the Nugget Bridge Major. It seems fitting Randy would get his revenge here. Seeing how Randy actually took notes, you can learn about how he emerged victorious in our set by reading his Top 4 team analysis.
I didn’t play well in our third game. For example, on Turn one of Game three , I have no idea why I didn’t switch Thundurus out for Steelix while setting up Trick Rom with Cresselia. I even knew Randy would use Follow Me with Togekiss to redirect Taunt. On the other hand, Randy played very well all the way through the set and definitely deserved the win. While I’m disappointed I lost here–just two rounds before a Worlds invite–I was grateful to learn more about how to play better in a best of three format, especially in Top Cut.
Final Place: 10th
Thank you for reading this massive article about my Nationals team. I really like my team because its bulk and strength lets me make mistakes and still have a fighting chance. This team really challenged me to become more creative as a teambuilder and become a better defensive battler overall. While this team isn’t perfect—no team is—everything just flowed together really well and fit my playstyle quite nicely.
I recommend trying out Steelix. Steelix is an absolutely incredible Pokemon if you play to its strengths and take advantage of its weaknesses. It’s not a Pokemon that you can just slap onto any team, however.
With US Nationals over, no Worlds invite and sixth gen coming this fall, my VGC 2013 season’s over. While I fell six places short of winning a Worlds invite, I am still pleased with my 10th place finish. I am happy because I know I improved leaps and bounds compared to a year ago. Back then, I actually walked into 2012 Nationals with a Beat Up Weavile and Cobalion and complained endlessly (and pathetically) about Stone Edge missing. Talk about embarrassing. But everyone has to start somewhere, and I am pleased where I ended this season. The fact that I fell a little short means I still have some work to do before competing at a Worlds level. I hope to improve further next season.
Oh and before I forget, mrbopper and Poke-Poke Sam Smith gave me a Steelix card each. benjitheGREAT even gave me a Sandile card at pre-registration as well. Best. Cards. Ever. Thanks again guys!
I would also like to give special shout-outs to a few friends who, one way or another, helped me with my team:
- El Scorcho: thanks for being a fantastic friend who completed the very first incarnation of this team way back in October. I enjoyed bouncing ideas around with you all season. Can’t wait to work together with you again in VGC 2014!
- MrEobo & MurraMyrr: the latter is a friend who was not on Nugget Bridge at the time this article was written. Both of you helped me RNG my IDs in one way or another at times so that I could get awesome Pokémon for my team
- bearsfan092: thank you for suggesting Conkeldurr during the Winter Battle at your place. While it took some time to warm up to the idea, Conkeldurr was definitely the right Pokémon for my team and helped me go far at Nationals
- TPCi: while you have made some questionable decisions in the past, VGC is heading in the right direction. US Nationals is hands-down the best tournament I have ever competed in. Good work. Keep it up.
- Everyone else I met: thank you for being such wonderful people, both online and in real life. You guys are what makes these tournaments enjoyable. I look forward to competing with you all in VGC 2014!