Published on September 8th, 2015 | by Lovetrain24
A Midsummer Knight’s Team – A 13th Place U.S. Nationals Report
Hey everyone, for those of you who are not familiar with me, my name is Kolby Golliher, better known as Lovetrain. I started playing competitive Pokemon when I placed Top Eight at the 2011 Georgia Regional in the Senior Division, but this is the first year that I decided to take Pokemon more seriously and attend more than just the one Regional closest to me. For the most part, this season has been pretty pitiful for me because I am hilariously bad at Best-of-One. When U.S. Nationals was announced to be entirely Best-of-Three, I was ecstatic for the spectacular news. The following report breaks down the team I used to finish 13th in the Master’s Division, being the highest 7-2 on Day One and the highest 3-3 on Day Two.
Spoiler: I am pretty much a thief. Throughout the 2014 season I used a team that was very heavily based off of Randy (R Inanimate) Kwa’s Blastoise/Smeargle duo. I became very accustomed to the systematic–yet adaptable–approach of using Smeargle. In the early 2015 season, Blastoise/Smeargle and even Kangaskhan/Smeargle were pretty disappointing. Thundurus was a huge threat to the core and Double Kick was by far the most popular fourth move on Terrakion.
After having a dismal run at the Florida Regional with a “standard six” team, losing to many Best-of-One gimmicks, I knew I needed to find something I felt more comfortable with. It was around this time that the Dodrio Cup signups opened and I decided I would finally try adapting last year’s Blastoise/Smeargle team into the current format.
Although Nicholas (Berserk) Walterhouse, William (Wiretap) Collins, and I did not even make it past the first round of the Dodrio Cup, I felt pretty comfortable with my current team and ended up taking it to the Georgia Regional. After another unsatisfactory Regional finish of 5-3, I gave up on Mega Blastoise. Although I was still dropping games in Swiss and on Battle Spot due to incorrect item guesses such as Focus Sash vs. Lum Berry on Terrakion, I found that there were hardly ever any match-ups that I opted to bring Blastoise to in Kangaskhan’s stead. The team also felt like it was much too reliant on bringing Smeargle, which was not okay in this year’s format.
A few weeks before Nationals, Berserk messaged Wiretap and me saying he just won a Showdown tournament with a Smeargle team. Immediately interested, I asked him to send me the team. I made a few minor edits to the team, but for the most part it was everything I had been searching for. The team proceeded to win the next two consecutive Showdown tournaments as well, so I knew that Berserk and I were on to something good.
I was not able to complete all of my games in the June International Challenge because I worked 40-hour weeks this Summer, but I finished at a respectable 1650-1700 with around 20 games. Okay, so the team worked in Best-of-One, cool… except Nationals was entirely Best-of-Three. I was hesitant on using the team all the way up until registration because everyone seems to think that Smeargle only works in Best-of-One and that once the opponent learns its item and moves then it becomes easy to play around. In my opinion, this is absolutely and utterly wrong. I would argue that a good Smeargle team is just as good (if not better) in Best-of-Three as it is in Best-of-One. Hopefully after reading this report you will understand why I feel very strongly about this, but feel free to message me if you have any questions!
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Power-Up Punch
– Sucker Punch
The team began with the same old run-of-the-mill Kangaskhan. I believe the standard boring Jolly set is still the most optimal way of using Kangaskhan on a team like mine. Kangaskhan was the centerpiece to this team and the Pokemon I brought to the most amount of games throughout the weekend. Kangaskhan had amazing synergy with the rest of the team; not only did she provide a fast Fake Out for Smeargle to set up, but she could also provide Fake Out pressure for Sylveon, and when I predicted my opponent to double Protect on the first turn, I could Power-Up Punch my own Sylveon, Landorus, or Talonflame for a quick +2 Attack boost that would immediately put me in a more advantageous position. Since I used Weakness Policy Aegislash on this team, there was also the rare option of Scrappy Power-Up Punching my Aegislash to OHKO an opposing Cresselia with Shadow Ball after the Special Attack boost, but the situation never arose at Nationals.
Talonflame @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 244 Atk / 12 SpA / 252 Spe
– Brave Bird
Besides Kangaskhan and Smeargle, Talonflame is the only member of the team that made it through the full transition from 2014 to 2015. Talonflame is one of my favorite Pokemon because 1) well, it’s a bird of course, and 2) Gale Wings is such an amazing ability. Naughty Nature with 12 Special Attack EVs allows Talonflame to OHKO standard 252/4 Mega Mawile with Overheat, but this is not the main reason I decided to use this spread, because I did not expect to see a lot of Mawiles at Nationals anyway. Overheat allowed me to OHKO the likes of Scizor and Ferrothorn without taking huge damage in recoil and from Iron Barbs. Almost every team in this format has at least one Intimidate user so it was nice being able to work around that. In the past, I used to use Helping Hand on Smeargle, which allowed Talonflame to OHKO standard Aegislash 81.3% of the time, again without having to be worried about Intimidate. In my Round Four match against Blake (Bopper) Hopper, I was able to win one of the games because his Charizard’s Drought essentially gave my Talonflame the equivalent of a Helping Hand boost to knock out his Aegislash without having to worry about attacking into a King’s Shield.
Even without Helping Hand, I still prefer to use Naughty Talonflame over Adamant because of the aforementioned reasons. It actually helped Talonflame stick around longer when I needed it to because of the lack of recoil, and somewhat ironically allowed me to sack it easier as well. This might come as a surprise to a lot of people, but it is actually very advantageous in some situations to let Talonflame faint after it sets up Tailwind to bring in a heavy hitter like Kangaskhan or Sylveon for free without wasting any turns switching.
Of course, everyone knows the best way to use Talonflame is to press Brave Bird. Talonflame was essential in some match-ups for dealing significant damage to fast Pokemon like my Round Three opponent’s Chlorophyll Venusaur and also Jon (JHufself) Hu’s Mega Gengar/Mega Lopunny duo. Brave Bird also helped with my Rain match-up and helped to clean up games after Sylveon and Landorus put dents in opposing teams.
Smeargle @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Def / 252 Spe
– Dark Void
– Follow Me
– Spiky Shield
Up until this point, I have referred to this team as a “Smeargle team” only because most people perceive will perceive it as that anyway. I believe a successful team with Smeargle is as much of a Smeargle team as a team with Amoonguss is an Amoonguss team or a team with Clefairy is a Clefairy team. What Smeargle lacks in bulk compared to other redirection Pokemon, it makes up for with its phenomenal movepool, its nice Speed tier, and arguably one of the most broken abilities in the game. Dark Void, Follow Me, and Spiky Shield are all pretty standard moves on Smeargle. When Berserk sent me the team, he told me that Tailwind was really popular on Japanese sets last season because people tend to double Protect in the face of Khan Artist. Also, a turn of Fake Out + Tailwind is more likely to net me an advantage than Fake Out + Dark Void because Dark Void can miss and I always have the potential to use it the next turn anyway.
The EV spread is one I took from R Inanimate last season. It allows Smeargle to survive a Power-Up Punch from Jolly Mega Kangaskhan. After a Moody boost in Defense, Smeargle survives a Double Edge from Jolly Mega Kangaskhan and has an 89.5% chance to survive the same attack from Adamant Mega Kangaskhan. It is also worth noting that standard Adamant Landorus Rock Slide is a 3HKO on Smeargle barring a Defense drop from Moody (which actually happened in one of my games against Blake on Day Two).
Timid obviously would have been a more optimal Nature for minimizing confusion damage, but this is the same Smeargle I used throughout last season, which originally ran Fake Out. If it had ever mattered even once while testing, I would have bothered to breed a new Smeargle, but alas, here we are.
Sylveon @ Choice Specs
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 224 SpA / 28 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 SpD
– Hyper Voice
– Hyper Beam
– Shadow Ball
– Hidden Power [Ground]
Riley (GENGARboi) Factura mentioned in his 1st Place Seattle Regionals report that he believes Sylveon has made as much of a metagame impact as Kangaskhan, and I agree wholly with that. Choice Specs Sylveon can 2HKO or 3HKO almost everything in the metagame that does not resist it. When paired with Mega Kangaskhan or the threat of putting my opponents’ Pokemon to sleep with Dark Void, I was able to overwhelm a lot of players with huge chunks of damage in the same respect that Blastoise did last year without taking up my Mega slot!
One of the greatest perks of using Sylveon on this team was that it was able to check nearly every common Smeargle counter. I would often lead Kangaskhan + Sylveon if I saw in team preview that my opponent had any Prankster Taunt users like Thundurus, Sableye, Liepard, Murkrow, Meowstic, etc.. Even if my opponent called my bluff and decided not to lead with their Taunt user, Kangaskhan + Sylveon was a very strong lead in most situations anyway. A lot of people tend to double Protect on the first turn or switch into Aegislash if they have it, fearing the Fake Out + Hyper Voice. I was able to predict and capitalize on these situations by Power-Up Punching my Sylveon and getting Kangaskhan a free +2 Attack boost. Most of the time when this happened, players typically would not Protect on the first turn of the next game because they did not want to fall into the same trap again, so it was usually pretty safe to go for the Fake Out + Hyper Voice play instead.
The EV spread and moves are pretty basic. 28 Speed EVs allowed Sylveon to outspeed Mega Kangaskhan in Tailwind, with the rest going into bulk and Special Attack. I considered giving Sylveon enough Speed investment to outspeed Terrakion in Tailwind, but Berserk and I decided it was not worth the sacrifice in power because I already had plenty of ways of dealing with Terrakion.
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 76 HP / 244 Atk / 188 Spe
– Rock Slide
I do not have much to say about Landorus; there is a reason it has been one of the most popular Pokemon by usage statistics all season. The moveset is as standard as Landorus gets. The EV spread was designed to outspeed Mega Gengar by two points and always OHKO standard Terrakion with spread Earthquake. The leftover EVs were dumped into HP for general bulk and allowed Landorus to survive some weak Hidden Powers. Superpower was especially helpful for Sand match-ups and Kangaskhan mirrors. U-turn was great for playing mind games with my opponents, spreading Intimidate, and maneuvering myself into having the upper hand every turn.
Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Shadow Ball
– Flash Cannon
– King’s Shield
– Wide Guard
Aegislash was my least favorite member of the team and probably the Pokemon I brought the least amount of times at Nationals. It was added because it did well against most of the current metagame and provided excellent switch-in synergy for the rest of my team. I tested a couple of other Pokemon in this spot (Rotom-Wash and Jellicent), but ended up keeping Berserk’s original selection of Aegislash because it provided Wide Guard and was able to hit Gardevoir and Sylveon hard. For the most part, Aegislash did exactly what it was meant to do on the team. On a few occasions, I was able to win games because I was targetted by an attack like Crunch from Tyranitar or spread Heat Wave from Heatran and was able to OHKO back after Weakness Policy activated. I think the biggest issue I had with Aegislash was that it seemed awkward having minimum speed Aegislash on a Tailwind team. Although it seemed to work out alright for me, the spread is vastly outdated and I probably should have invested in more bulk so that I would always survive and win the mirror match against the popular Life Orb Aegislash variant.
I am really sorry everyone, but I am part of the minority that does not take notes during their games and memorizes everything important instead. I tried taking notes in the past, but I am a slow writer and spent too much time focusing on my notes and making sure I jotted everything down. I found that I was not making the best possible plays because I already tend to spend the full allotted time each turn and I was not able to think through each of my plays properly while glancing at notes. I have a fairly good long-term memory so I can still recall how most of my matches went, whether it be specific turns that were decisive turning points in a game or interesting sets and move choices that caught me off guard. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions about any of my matches in particular, because I would love to share them with you!
Round 1: Daniel Stein (Blazikenburner) (2-1W)
Round 2: Harrison Saylor (Crow) (2-0W)
Round 3: Wilson Palacios (2-0W)
Round 4: Blake Hopper (Bopper) (2-1W)
Round 5: Austin Bastida-Ramos (Syncie) (2-0W)
Round 6: Chris Danzo (Lunar) (2-1W)
Round 7: Ian Combs (Jakuzure) (1-2L)
Round 8: Alec Rubin (amr97) (2-0W)
Round 9: James Baek (Jamesspeed1) (0-0L)
Round 1: Leonard Craft III (DaWoblefet) (2-1W)
Round 2: Demitrios Kaguras (kingdjk) (2-1W)
Round 3: Blake Hopper (Bopper) (0-2L)
Round 4: Alex Underhill (Lexicon) (1-2L)
Round 5: Evan Bates (Veteran Padgett) (1-2L)
Round 6: Jon Hu (JHufself) (2-1W)
- I would like to give another very special thanks to
coolperson59Berserk. Not just for letting me steal the team you made, but for always being supportive of me and being an overall amazing friend. Thanks for keeping my confidence up during the event and making sure I did not go on tilt after my losses. Nationals would have been at least a hundred times better if you could have made it, but I know you were there in spirit so that makes it a little better. <3
- My second shout-out goes to Mr. Heartthrob himself,
WireGODWiretap. Thank you for paying for my share of the hotel room with your stipend and breeding all of my Pokemon for me, even the times when I am annoying about it. You are a really great friend too and there is no one that I do better theorying with than you and Nick together (but yes, your ideas will still always be trash to me until I try them out myself just to realize that you were right all along). Also thank you for being a true leader and inspiration to DadBods everywhere. <3
- Of course, I want to thank the other members of Team Scrublab, the group I share a small blog with and that I traveled to the Athens Regional and Nationals with: the infamous Jacobo “Digimon Shirt Guy” Salazar (jacsaz), the much less handsome Jacob Legler (Legler), and the competent one with the most potential in the group, Logan Harvell (TheLog).
- Thank you to my good friend Andrew Greenbaum (blutrane) for the signature Dive Ball Talonflame. It has yet to let me down and I will continue to use it on future teams. BIRD UP!
- Huge thank you to everyone in my Splatoon Squad Lv.52Inkay for helping me to get my mind off of Pokemon while practicing when I needed it and for supporting me throughout the weekend! I especially want to thank Thomas Schadinger (th1806) for telling me one night that Smeargle is bad in Best-of-Three right before I 2-0’d him. Staaaay fresh!
- I want to thank everyone that hung out with me over the weekend. Tyson Gernack (Firefly), Stephen Brown III (pyromaniac720), Cash Kostka (Cash Kostka), Kyle Ayala (crazyck), Jane Rininger (TalonJane), and TJ DiGiacomo (PsyJ), it was fun playing Smash and multi battles. All of you guys are the best. I also want to thank Priciliano Garcia (Pirate Lion Inferno) for always being a really cool guy and his girlfriend Izzy for coining me “Smeargle Guy” after the first time I played her at a Premier Challenge.
- I just want to point out that I placed higher than my friend and apparently twin Chance Alexander (Paragon) who lost on stream and finished 27th. :^)
- I want to thank the man I met right outside of the liquor store that told me he just got out of jail. Thanks for not mugging me because I legitimately thought I was going to die Thursday night. I hope you were able to make it home alright and are staying out of trouble.
- To everyone I battled over the course of the weekend: it was great meeting every single one of you guys and good games!
- We have not yet been acquainted, but thanks Randy Kwa (R Inanimate) for leading me astray to the dark side. Maybe next year Smeargle will finally make it past Top 16 at U.S. Nationals.