Published on July 30th, 2015 | by Sweet Clive


Mr. Top 32 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Shadow Tag

Evening all, most of you won’t know me, but my name is James Kean and I’m fairly new to the competitive scene. A few of you may actually recognise my name, as I was featured in this year’s Italian Nationals preview article, and for those of you who are fans of free-for-alls, I’ve been in a couple of DuncanKneeDeep’s YouTube videos and live streams.

This report features the team I used at all five of the tournaments I attended this year and, with the exception of the Italian Nationals, I placed in top 32 in all of them, which included Top Cutting both the UK and the German National championships.

Finding Where to Start

Knowing where to start was probably the most difficult part of building a team. For the longest time I was adamantly against using other people’s teams, but eventually I got over myself and saw the benefits of using a team that had proved itself in the past. That’s a big part of why I wanted to write my own article, to help people the same way I was helped a year ago. In the end, I must have replicated at least six different teams I saw on Nugget Bridge. Some worked for me and some didn’t, but without that experience I wouldn’t have had a clue of what I’m doing now.To give credit where it is due, Crobert’s Perish Trap team and Prof Teak’s Worlds team were two teams that helped and influenced me the most.

At the start of the 2015 season I was still pretty new to competitive Pokemon. I had little experience in tournaments and barely even knew what Championship Points were. So, I set small, achievable goals: ‘I will take this year to learn about team building and hopefully I’ll improve enough to make an impact in 2016.’ But despite setting the bar for myself pretty low, I found myself getting nowhere with my teams, and it was frustrating. It wasn’t until I saw a YouTube video about “knowing your playstyle” that I actually decided to take a look back at the teams I mentioned earlier and what it was about them that worked for me.

The Original Team

The first tournament in the UK I found out about was actually the UK Regional Championships (I didn’t know Premier Challenges were even a thing until early May). It was there that I tested the first incarnation of the team. To say it has changed a lot would be an understatement, but the core concept and idea surrounding the team is still the same.


I really like control or ways that make the game less fun for other people. The basic idea behind the team was that I would limit their options with Shadow Tag while the rest of the team bothered them with speed control, sleep, and encore. I added Fake Tears to Liepard to get the surprise KOs on things when paired up with Gengar as well as  to make Suicune and Thundurus have a bit more of an offensive presence. And Terrakion… Well, Terrakion was just there.

Even with a less focused version of the team, I did quite well and managed to go 6 – 2 in the Swiss rounds, missing out on top cut due to tie-breakers. Despite this, it didn’t take much for me to see the massive flaws within the team.
Liepard and Breloom just don’t work. In theory they do, but in practice they’re frail, predictable, and don’t do much unless you’ve got a good bit of luck on your side. Suicune, while bulky and with  good coverage, it’s so passive that it just wasn’t pulling its weight on the offensive side of things.

The team on the whole was just too frail. If I lead incorrectly, I would be playing down because I didn’t have the bulk to switch and pivot around to improve my chances against what I was facing.

The Team

To say that I was unprepared for the German National Championships would be a massive understatement. I didn’t settle on the final members of the team until the morning of the competition. The only two that were still around from the original team were Mega Gengar and Thundurus.

Terrakion was replaced with Landorus-T, the extra support provided by Intimidate was something I was severely lacking and it fit nicely with Shadow Tag. It retained the same coverage, albeit sacrificing a little power for more utility. I added Heatran to deal with those pesky Steel types with Sucker Punch that kept giving me a lot of grief. Whimsicott seems so obvious now, but it took me longer to come to that conclusion than I care to admit. I wanted the shenanigans of Liepard, the speed support of Suicune, and the Grass typing of Breloom. Whimsicott was the best part of all three of those Pokémon rolled into one little handy puff. Breloom was powerful, but with a team more focused around Special Attackers there was a lot of weight on its shoulders to bring the pain on the physical side. Moreover, after just one Intimidate, Breloom just couldn’t really do anything anymore and banking on sleep turns was a risky game. Bisharp was suggested by a friend on the day before Germany and it turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It countered fairies, loved intimidate, and added more of that beautiful, beautiful priority to my team.


For the sake of my own convenience I’m going to only include the most up-to-date version of the team’s spreads and moves, because, as absolute display of unpreparedness would have it, most of my Pokémons’ EV spreads were wrong in Germany. Too many things didn’t out-speed what they were supposed to or live hits they were supposed to, it was just a mess.


Gengar @Gengarite
252 HP / 44 Def / 4 SpAtk / 28 SpDef / 180 Speed
– Protect
– Disable
– Perish Song
– Shadow Ball

I shamelessly stole this spread from Wolfe Glick two days before the UK National Championships, but it does things my original spread only wished it could, such as surviving -1 Landorus EQ. The speed investment is to out-speed Jolly, max speed Mega Salamence.

I started out using offensive Mega Gengar, but the more and more I used it, the more I got disappointed when I couldn’t even take resisted attacks. Gengar, even without any special attack investment, is still stronger than most things.

Perish Song might seem like an odd choice on the team, but I put it there as a way of dealing with annoying pokemons that are hard to OHKO or double KO. Before adding it, I ran Will ‘O Wisp, but changed it before Germany. Burns are always nice, and it’s probably my favourite status, but the amount of times I missed the WoW, and Gengar fainted because of it, meant I had to re-assess its value.

I did, however, miss Sludge Bomb at first, but Disable opened up a lot more opportunities for Gengar and the rest of the team. While I lost the ability to hit Kangaskhan, I could disable it, Perish Song, and then just forget about it for a while until it went down whilst dealing with its partners.


Whimsicott @Focus Sash
252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Speed
– Tailwind
– Fake Tears
– Encore
– Giga Drain

Whimsicott, the handy combination of all things right with the first version of the team. The spread is as standard as standard can be, but it does everything it needs to. Tailwind offers a lot more options, but is primarily there to get me away from those nasty Rock Slide flinches. Encore, alongside Disable and Shadow Tag, can create some very annoying situations for my opponents, thus limiting their options while I shuffle around and go on the offensive without fear. It also helps when I need to resort of Perish Trapping.

Fake Tears was one of my main forms of offence. The idea being to use it to get some surprise KOs. A lot of players have certain expectations when they see Whimsicott and Gengar, so they’ll switch (the turn I’m mega evolving) or be more aggressive leaving them open, and Fake Tears takes advantage of that. At the UK National Championships, I OHKO’d a grand total of four Cresselias in the first turn of the game.
Giga Drain was to give Whimsicott a bit more longevity as well as deal to deal with Gastrodon, which the team really didn’t like going up against very much.


Landorus @Choice Band
172 HP / 60 Atk / 12 Def / 36 SpDef / 228 Speed
– Rock Slide
– Earthquake
– Superpower
– U-Turn


Landorus @Choice Scarf
68 HP / 132 Atk / 60 Def / 4 SpDef / 244 Speed
– Rock Slide
– Earthquake
– Superpower
– U-Turn

The first Landorus was used during both German and UK Nationals. With an investment of 228 Speed, it out-sped max speed, neutral nature, base 100 pokemons; it guaranteed the OHKO on 4/0 Mega Kangaskhans; and it survived both Bisharp and weaker ice attacks. However, I changed into a Scarfed Landorus with different spreads, because I didn’t want to roll the dice against other Landorus’ Rock Slides.

The second Landorus spread was a gift from one of the United Kingdoms other top level Jamie, Jamie Miller (Blaze King7). The perks to this set are simple, but notable! It out-speeds max speed Scarf Heatran (as well as usually other Landorus since very few run max speed), it lives +1 LO Adamant Sucker Punch from Bisharp, and most importantly it is a Landorus.

The move set is pretty standard. Rock Slide is the best move in the game for a reason, though I must admit I had very few flinches over the course of all the tournaments. In all honesty, the most valuable move of cheeky Lando’s was U-Turn: pivoting during Shadow Tag, shuffling Intimidate, and just having an all-round good time.
With the exception of Water, Landorus and Heatran cover each others weaknesses almost perfectly – meaning I could usually switch without much fear.


Thundurus @Sitrus Berry
236 HP / 116 Def / 4 SpAtk / 76 SpDef / 76 Speed
– Taunt
– Thunder Wave
– Hidden Power Ice
– Volt Switch

Oh! Thundurs, my old friend, I should never have doubted you. Thundurus was one of the only two remaining members of the original version of this team, but I briefly subbed it out for Rotom-W for the Italian National Championships. I will try to include a video detailing my opinions on the brief change, but if I don’t, it means I couldn’t figure out how.

The spread has that nice and golden even HP stat, so Super Fang will activate my Sitrus Berry. The defence allows it to live a Landorus’ Stone Edge, with Rock Slide being a 3HKO after Sitrus Berry. The speed speed creeps things that are speed creeping Smeargle, and the rest was added into SpDef.

The moveset is for the most part fairly standard, with the exception of Volt Switch over Thunderbolt. The drop in power is notable, but it allows for a lot more opportunities alongside Shadow Tag. It also means that in situations where I need to Perish Song in order to get past a particularly problematic pokemon I don’t have to worry about Thundurus not having Protect to stall turns.


Bisharp @Life Orb
4 HP / 252 Atk  / 252 Speed
– Protect
– Sucker Punch
– Iron Head
– Knock Off

Bisharp was the last member to be added to the team, and honestly I don’t know how I managed without it. It adds a completely alternative style to the team by itself, with potentially ridiculous levels of offensive pressure. Bisharp is effectively the replacement for Breloom, even though they function as very different pokemons. While I did like Breloom – Spore was nice, as were both of its STAB moves -, whenever it was Intimidated it was effectively dead weight. Bisharp, on the other hand, does not have that problem. Bisharp with even just a +1 boost forces your opponent to play differently if they want to get by it unscathed.

Everything about the set screams standard cookie cutter Bisharp, but it is one of those Pokemon that doesn’t need to do anything fancy in order to be effective or be a threat. Its STAB moves offer the mostly reliable way of dealing with both Fairy and Ghost types, which was something the team struggled with beforehand.

When I was adding Bisharp to the team, I initially thought I was being the craftiest person alive with a last ditch Fake Tears from Whimsicott to give me a free +2 when my back is against the wall. Luckily, it was pointed out to me that that doesn’t actually work before I accidentally gave myself less of a fighting chance.


Heatran @Safety Goggles
44 HP / 4 Def / 204 SpAtk / 4 SpDef / 252 Speed
– Protect
– Heatwave
– Ancient Power
– Earth Power

Ah, Heatran! I added it because I really did not like facing Amoonguss with its Spore and redirection and because with the beta version of the team Mawile just laughed at me. Although I do like its defensive typing a lot, I initially considered Arcanine for this slot.

Ancient Power might seem like an odd choice on a non-scarfer, but I really don’t like Mega Charizard Y.
The EVs are fairly simple. I didn’t want to be under-speeding rival Heatrans and even with the amount of speed control on my team, I’d rather have the option to win the speed-tie than not. The 44 HP / 4 Def means that it can live Adamant Mega Kangaskhan’s Low Kick at -1, though the only time that situation ever arose it got a critical hit, so if it’s really worth it or not is debatable.

I’m still trying to decide whether I want to run Flamethrower over Heatwave or not. I really don’t like Heatwave’s shaky accuracy (I swear I’ve missed more than I’ve hit), but the spread damage is nice. Especially when I can Fake Tears whichever side is giving me the most bother. Catching things like Landorus on the switch is nice since at -2 with Fake Tears, Heatwave has a 31.3% chance to OHKO the spread I use.

Leads and Using the Team

The leads are pretty much exactly what you’d expect from looking at the team. Mega Gengar plus guest or double genie. Gengar is 9/10 times what I want to lead with (if I’m bringing it to the match), because getting that early Shadow Tag can really disrupt the opponent.

If the opponent has a nasty looking physical attacker, Gengar/Landorus was the choice to make. While getting that intimidate off, I’d mega and trap them, and usually U-Turn to cycle the intimidates.
Whimsicott was for situations where I felt like the team looked easy to exploit with Encore and Disable, or if they had a Cresselia. Scoring the surprise first turn OHKO on Cresselia before it can do anything can sometimes decide the game right from the get go. In fear of the Encore, it also pressures my opponent to make decisions they wouldn’t normally make with their leads. If Whimsicott got Parting Shot, I would have been the happiest man alive.
Thundurus does essentially what Whimsicott does, but with different moves. They’re useful for very different situations, but when paired next to Gengar the goal is the same.

Double Genie was the lead of choice when using “good stuff” mode of the team, on occasions where I didn’t bring Gengar and Whimsicott at all, or only brought Gengar, but conserving him was key. I don’t feel like I need to explain to you why these two are a good lead pairing.

The team on the whole works best when you’re playing it aggressively. VoltTurning for momentum, Fake Tearing to create more pressure on the opponent to Protect, and then punishing them for going on the defensive with Encore and Perish Song. Bisharp adds to this pressure with Sucker Punch (especially when at +1), meaning they’ll be reluctant to go for the attack if they know a Sucker Punch will KO, thus forcing them into a situation of deciding to either go down to Sucker Punch, or do nothing because of Encore.

The team doesn’t lose to opposing Perish Trap teams either, as in absolute dire straights (or if you can’t predict where the Eject Button pokemon is switching in) it can VoltTurn on itself.

The Struggles

There are two pokemons in particular that I’d like to mention which are the ones I have the hardest time dealing with.

The first,


“But Jamie, you have the three best checks to Charizard on your team. Don’t be such an idiot.”
Why yes outspoken reader, I do. The problem though is every good Charizard-Y has the supporting cast to deal with those three Pokemons exclusively. Meaning, I usually have to deal with them before Charizard does too much damage. Which is difficult! The best way to deal with it, is to hopefully lock it into a move that’s going to be doing nothing for it or Disable Heat Wave, and buy yourself some time while you deal with its supporting cast.

The second,


Milotic is an actual pain. It wasn’t so much of an issue in Germany and the UK Nationals, but its increase in popularity was one that I did not welcome. While it doesn’t do a lot of damage to any of my team members without the competitive boost, dealing with it without giving it that boost is not an easy feat. I also end up reluctant to Shadow Ball with Gengar, because I fear the accidental Sp. Def drop. I can’t pivot Landorus around at all, because I’ll make it a problem, and I can’t deal with it quickly enough with Whimsicott or Thundurus without Fake Tears support. Heatran doesn’t like Water and Bisharp doesn’t like Fire. Once again,  it is something that can only be dealt with smoothly by either Encoring or Disabling or both. Though again, how easy that’s going to be depends on what’s in Milotic’s corner.

I’m going to give an honorable mention to Aromatisse. I have only faced one in my time, but before that battle I didn’t realize Aroma Veil blocks Disable. I now know better. It severely limits the amount of shenanigans I can go for.

Closing Comments

This was the first team I’ve ever truly built myself, and to have had so much success with it has been a satisfying ride. It has secured me my first ever World Championships invite, which three/four months ago when I went to the the first tournament felt like nothing more than a pipe dream. I want to do it justice and retire it by putting it out there for everyone to see, because of just how proud I am of it.

I hope you enjoyed reading my team report. I have always wanted to write my own as I read every single one published. It’s always been a personal dream to be able to write my own report and I’m so excited for when it finally gets published. I hope it helps people in the way other team reports have helped me, and I really hope I end up facing someone using it on Battle Spot or Showdown.

About the Author

45 Responses to Mr. Top 32 or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Shadow Tag

  1. GhostSword says:

    Great report, I never realized volt turn will succeed in doubles too!

  2. lotoftoast says:

    nice too see the team that rekt me first day of uk nats

  3. EmbC says:

    Great report, bro. Your team is definately very solid!
    It was awesome hanging out with you at italy nats and I hope we can meet again next year :3

  4. TitoVic says:

    Coward style team. No honor using it.

  5. Sweet Clive says:

    Who needs honour when you’ve got dank championship points?

  6. Coward style team. No honor using it.

    That’s rather disrespectful to someone who’s taken the time to write up a report on a rather interesting spin on Mega Gengar (which I would say takes serious guts to use and do well with). 
    I’ve known several people who have been using Mega Gengar + Whimsi Fake Tears and it’s a horrible combination for a lot of teams to face. Congrats for bringing it to a tournament and getting some good results with it! Interesting to see you kept the Perish Trap option too with Fake Tears support; did you feel that replacing it with another coverage move would be a viable option? :)

  7. Sweet Clive says:

    I initially had Sludge Bomb over Disable in German Nationals. I liked the coverage sometimes, but when I was actually in matches I found myself wishing I had the option of disable more than I was using Sludge Bomb or in some instances where Sludge Bomb won me the game, Disable would have also won me the game and it would have been a smoother (less luck reliant) process.
    I wanted to have both because Fake Tears forces them to play defensively, where Perish Song punishes them for doing so.

  8. NinjaSyao says:

    Coward style team. No honor using it.


  9. LithiumAcid says:

    Don’t want to get in involved with the all the drama, but can I just say I think the article art is super cool.

    On a more on topic note, congrats on securing your worlds invite! Very fascinating team.

  10. MrJellyLeggs says:

    “The second Landorus spread was a gift from one of the United Kingdoms other top level Jamie, Jamie Miller”

    There are no other top level Jamies, all other UK Jamies suck 😉

    Nice report, although I will never like Perish Trap after UK Regionals.

  11. Sweet Clive says:

    “The second Landorus spread was a gift from one of the United Kingdoms other top level Jamie, Jamie Miller”

    There are no other top level Jamies, all other UK Jamies suck ;)

    Nice report, although I will never like Perish Trap after UK Regionals.

    I did mean to say,
    “One of the UK’s other top level Jamie’s”
    But I missed some letters… I was thinking of you the whole time!

  12. hydreigone says:

    Nice team. I also like the U-Turn/Volt Switch + Shadow Tag combo. I think it’s an under rated ability even on non Perish Song / Disable teams. 

  13. Sweet Clive says:

    It offers a lot more wiggle room on mons that don’t have room for protect, it can be handy if I lead poorly as well but don’t want to lose more momentum with a hard switch.

  14. Sweet Clive says:

    It offers a lot more wiggle room on mons that don’t have room for protect, it can be handy if I lead poorly as well but don’t want to lose more momentum with a hard switch.

  15. MrJellyLeggs says:

    By missing off the s, you scored a critical hit with your Heart Stamp :'(

  16. JHufself says:

    This is the kind of team I could get behind! Great to see it bear fruit to success too. Good luck at Worlds!

  17. Coward style team. No honor using it.

    You know this is a video game, right?

  18. Sweet Clive says:

    By missing off the s, you scored a critical hit with your Heart Stamp :'(

    Jamie no…

  19. Velocity says:

    Great report! This team is really innovative, and the article is very well-written. Congratulations on your finishes, and good luck at Worlds!

  20. Wyrms Eye says:

    Great report man, and congrats also for securing your invite first and foremost!
    I know there will be some individuals who will look at the team and grimace. I will openly confess, I am not a fan of Perish Trap being used against me in most instances (I was actually well prepared for it at UK Nationals ironically because of the Regional event the month prior). There is certainly a stigma to the team archetype among players, but it is a perfectly viable strategy, but one that is not without its various weaknesses and exploits. However, I do think that the team itself is very solidly constructed and carries just enough options that it’s not completely necessary to run the trapping side of the team all the time.
    I look forward to following your progress in Boston (as I will with all of the UK players that will be heading out), and hopefully I will get the opportunity to catch up with you at a future event in due course!

  21. Astronautical says:

    Congratulations on your Cresselia bounty hunting. Four OHKOs is quite impressive!

  22. Sweet Clive says:

    Congratulations on your Cresselia bounty hunting. Four OHKOs is quite impressive!

    It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world.

  23. MrJellyLeggs says:

    Jamie no…

    Haha they were some Fake Tears my friend. Let’s Hold Hands and Lovely Kiss and make up ;)

  24. Ayrias says:

    It’s really awesome to see someone take the gengar + whimsicott strategy and do well with it, since you have to be quite smart to use it well. I used to use it a bit, and while it’s not fun for the opposition, I find it quite satisfying to use myself. It puts a lot of pressure on the opposing player since any wrong move will cost them, and there are a number of things you can do in one turn (ie fake tears + shadow ball, perish song etc). Congratulations!

  25. A wonderful read. I like the teams that can lock your opponent down and you are to crush them to oblivion. This is a hard team to play and you obviously knew how to work it. Congrats with all your performances :D

  26. 55752374.jpg

    I honestly interpreted it as a sarcastic comment. If it wasn’t it was rude; there was clearly a good amount of thought put into the team and dealing with Mega Gengar’s bulk.
    Anyway, nice team. Some Gengar players make it look easy (but it’s not easy or cowardly). Congrats.

  27. Ty Flowsion says:

    Firstly, congratulations on a fantastic first year Jamie!

    This team was a nightmare to play against, and game 3 of our top 32 match literally came down to a coin flip decision. It’s incredibly well put together, but the strength of the team lies in the way that you piloted it in my opinion. It made for an incredibly tense set, and win or lose it was a blast playing against you. Keep it up, I have no doubt we’ll see a good showing from you at Worlds.

  28. ThunderPunch says:

    You’ve got some nerve trying to use perish trap. Very ddiffivultfficult. Love the tea!, and congrats!

  29. Sweet Clive says:

    Firstly, congratulations on a fantastic first year Jamie!

    This team was a nightmare to play against, and game 3 of our top 32 match literally came down to a coin flip decision. It’s incredibly well put together, but the strength of the team lies in the way that you piloted it in my opinion. It made for an incredibly tense set, and win or lose it was a blast playing against you. Keep it up, I have no doubt we’ll see a good showing from you at Worlds.

    Thanks man. I still think of that best of three, easily the best set I’ve played. If any of my games at worlds are as tense, it’ll be a reward in itself.

  30. Makenzie says:

    Coward style team. No honor using it.

    Let me be honest. If you can’t deal with this type of team, you are going to be very unsuccessful. It wins, and you and everyone else will have to suck it up and deal with it and find ways to beat it. Also, how would it look to your YouTube fans when they see how disrespectful you are to someone who took their time to write a report and made worlds, when you have accomplished relatively little yourself. I respect you as a Youtuber, but not as a person.

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