Published on September 15th, 2015 | by Hitmonste7
The Warped Lovechild: A UK Regionals Top 4 Report
Hello all, my name is Stephen Gibbon or better known as Stegibbon/Hitmonste. My name might be new to the majority of you, so here’s a bit of background. I’ve played Pokemon competitively for about 3 years, initially playing singles on Smogon to start off. I made the switch over to VGC as X and Y came out, but 2015 is the first season I can claim to be a decent VGC player.
My only tournament in 2014 was the infamous UK Nationals in my hometown of Manchester. Despite the organisational problems I decided I was going to attend again, however being relatively new I only had one friend I’d made at last year’s Nationals and he couldn’t attend. I saw that the UK was about to host its first ever Regional level tournament in April so I decided to attend to make friends, so I’d have someone to talk to at the Nationals, and that was my only focus for the day.
Needless to say I was delighted with the friends I made on the day (shout outs to Jamie Kean (Sweet Clive), and John Fautley (JHNBazil)), but I was over the moon with my 4th place finish in only my second ever live tournament and a trophy to boot!
My team that I used has history back to the one I was using from the Nugget Bridge Major. Unfortunately, due to real life issues, I had to drop out, but the team itself consisted of:
However, during my games in the major I found Salamence to be too much of a glass cannon, and the damage from anything other than Double-Edge was underwhelming. I needed a mega that could stick around longer and I’d seen a few articles about Mega Metagross with Substitute, which greatly appealed to me.
The Final Team
First, some testaments about the team:
Thundurus and Suicune, I felt, were the most solid members from my Major team as the speed controllers of the team in a format where attacking first is so important, so they survived the axe. Hydreigon is always a good option for a Metagross team, with near perfect synergy and being able to hit all of Metagross’ main counters for super effective damage. Breloom replaced Terrakion as I felt the team lacked enough ways to hit bulky Water-types, and I could keep the Spore option Amoonguss had. Heatran was the final member of the team right up until a few days before the tournament when I realised how bad my Trick Room match-up was, especially with Fake Out support on the opposing team. A reasonably fast Fake Out with added disruption was needed and Liepard fit the bill perfectly.
The Team In-Depth
Ability: Clear Body/Tough Claws
- Iron Head
- Zen Headbutt
EVs: 44HP / 164Atk / 44Def / 4SpDef / 252Speed
A shamelessly stolen set from Nugget Bridge Major champion, Jake Muller (MajorBowman). I read his Missouri Regionals report, and his spread did everything a Substitute Metagross should, in my opinion. A 161 stat in HP to enable 4 Substitutes with no chip damage, surviving at least two Sucker Punches from 252 Adamant Kangaskan from behind Substitutes, as well as being able to take a Sucker Punch from non-Life Orb Bisharp after one Substitute has been broken. Max Speed with a Jolly nature was very important, as it meant Metagross was faster than Terrakion, which otherwise is a threat to other members of the team, and conveniently avoids potential Rock Slide flinches from it. This left ample room for a significant Attack investment which with the Tough Claws ability deals massive damage to anything that doesn’t resist Steel and Psychic. All of this made Metagross undeniably the most valuable Pokemon of the team, contributing to most knock outs in the tournament.
Iron Head was a must on the set. With 3 Fairy weaknesses on the team, I had to be able to get rid of them before they could start wreaking havoc. Fortunately Sylveon and Mega Gardevoir were comfortably dealt with by Iron Head, meaning I wouldn’t have to risk the shaky accuracy of Meteor Mash, whilst also adding a flinch chance. Mega Venusaur was still a prominent threat in the meta, so Zen Headbutt was essential on the set. It’s 90% accuracy led me to only use it when Iron Head was the inferior option, and luckily I didn’t miss a single one throughout the tournament. Substitute was the centerpiece of the set. With the support of Liepard’s Fake Out and Breloom’s Spore, there were very few situations where it wasn’t able to set up a Substitute. It is incredibly useful on a fast physical attacker, blocking Thunder Waves, Will-o-Wisps and Intimidates.
Protect compliments Substitute brilliantly. If an opponent wants to damage a Metagross behind a Substitute, they will have to hit it twice and Metagross resists every form of Hyper Voice that can hit it through the Substitute due to being a sound move. This makes it a prime target for both of its opponents attacks. Protect can waste an opponent’s turn while Metagross’ partner attacks. It’s the best move in the game, simply.
Amon Amarth [Twilight of the Thunder God!]
Item: Life Orb
- Hidden Power [Ice]
- Thunder Wave
IVs: Even Att, 30 Def
First thing I’d like to say about this Thundurus EV spread is that a Calm nature is better. To achieve the same stats, it requires eight fewer EVs, which is a whole stat point somewhere else. But this is the one I caught in game and it took me two and half weeks of soft-resetting so I stuck with it! In the previous incarnation of my team, it was holding a Sitrus Berry. I felt Suicune used it much better however, and my poor match-up against Water-types led me to throwing on the Life Orb, just to boost damage to opposing Pokemon like Suicune as well as guaranteeing the one hit knock out on Landorus-Therian without Assault Vests. Overall Thundurus did a good job in the tournament, although is was knocked out more than any other Pokemon on my team, so maybe the bulk was a waste, but it does take a hit or two nicely.
Thunderbolt is the obligatory STAB move on the set. Powerful and accurate, chance of paralysis, not much else to say. Hidden Power Ice, was my way to hit Ground-types. It’s worth noting for less experienced players that even a not very effective Thunderbolt does more damage than a neutral HP Ice, and a neutral Thunderbolt does more than a two times super effective HP Ice, so it’s only really worth using when it’s four times super effective or Thunderbolt does no damage. Thunder Wave is in my opinion, the best form of Speed control. It provides the biggest drop in Speed, cutting it to a quarter, as well as giving the opponent a one in four chance of not moving every turn, which came into play in one or two games of the tournament. Finally, Taunt shuts down so many things, stopping them from using any non-attacking moves. Excellent move, and something I saw as vital on the team.
Item: Sitrus Berry
- Ice Beam
One of the bulkiest Pokemon in the game with access to two useful Speed control options in Icy Wind and Tailwind. I opted for Tailwind because I preferred the quick guaranteed +2 and I wouldn’t have to predict Protect turns. 20 Speed EVs allow it to attack before Adamant Choice Scarf Landorus-Therian when under Tailwind. Other than that I didn’t think too much about the EV spread, just making the HP number even to maximise Sitrus Berry recovery and guarantee it triggering if Suicune was attacked with Super Fang. The remaining EVs were used to make it as bulky as possible, whilst keeping some Special Attack investment. Notably this spread doesn’t OHKO Landorus-Therian 100% of the time with Ice Beam, but it wasn’t a situation I came across in the tournament.
Scald is the STAB move, 100% accurate with a good chance of a burn. Ice Beam is only really there for Grass-types and the chance to OHKO Landorus-Therian and Mega Salamence. Tailwind is there over Icy Wind for reasons mentioned earlier. It also allows my team to have the speed advantage over opposing Pokemon switching in. A lot of people run Snarl as their fourth move on Suicune, but I wasn’t using it enough in testing and there were more times I wished I had Protect. It also surprises some people as many Suicune don’t carry Protect and I could gain a lot of momentum when this was the case.
Item: Focus Sash
- Mach Punch
- Bullet Seed
This set is as standard as it gets for Breloom and the majority of them you’ll come across will be this set. The Focus Sash saves it from needing any investment in bulk, so making it as fast and strong as possible makes sense.
Mach Punch is the fighting STAB and the priority is extremely useful. With the boost Breloom’s Technician ability gives it, even the bulkiest of Mega Kangaskhan are knocked out in two hits, provided it doesn’t knock Breloom out first. Bullet Seed is the primary reason I added Breloom to the team. Hitting those bulky water types for super effective damage, clean knocking them out if it hits 3 or more times, as it will do 66.6% of the time. Spore is always a threatening move, especially under Suicune’s Tailwind. It can be a bit of a mixed blessing, as a sleeping Pokemon is still a danger and it can wake up the very next turn if Breloom moves first due to sleep only being guaranteed for one turn. Protect goes with Focus Sash in a similar way to Protect and Substitute on Metagross. A Pokemon with a Focus Sash is also often a target for both opponents’ attacks and Protect allows Breloom’s partner to gain momentum.
Item: Choice Scarf
- Draco Meteor
- Dark Pulse
- Earth Power
I’m a firm believer that every team should have something faster than adamant Choice Scarf Landorus-Therian, or at least a way to make itself faster. This is to minimize the chances of a Rock Slide flinch and the damage it can cause. Of course my Suicune is packing Tailwind to solve this problem if it doesn’t flinch itself, but it’s always nice to have something faster right off the bat. Hydreigon was my choice due to its awesome coverage in its movepool and the near perfect type synergy it has with Metagross. I only brought Hydreigon to four games in the tournament and it didn’t get an attack off until my top 8 match, but it was instrumental in winning me that tie, and was incredibly useful in practice.
Draco Meteor is there for the sheer power output. The Special Attack drop doesn’t matter too much in the fast-paced VGC meta-game and it deals enough damage with STAB to warrant its use. Dark Pulse also gets STAB with the additional chance to flinch opponents. This move was my most used on Hydreigon, being able to hit most of Metagross’ counters for super-effective damage. Earth Power is also there to cover Metagross, as it will always one hit knock out Heatran assuming no Shuca Berry, whilst dealing massive damage to Mawile and opposing Metagross whilst not worrying about any popular rain support. Flamethrower finishes off the move-set. I chose it over Fire Blast because of its superior accuracy and it will one-shot Ferrothorn and Scizor anyway, two other Pokemon Metagross struggles with.
- Fake out
- Foul Play
As I mentioned, I added Liepard because of my poor match-up with Trick Room, and specifically the Hariyama + Cresselia lead. This might seem a bit intuitive, as Liepard is a very fast Pokemon and is weak to Hariyama’s STAB attacks, but it allows me to Fake out first so either Thundrus can Taunt the Trick Room setter or Breloom can Spore it or even just go right for a knock out onto Hariyama. Liepard can then threaten an Encore onto the setter the next turn, forcing my opponent to spend turns of Trick Room re-positioning. I didn’t come up against this in the tournament, but Liepard worked wonders in other situations. The EV spread allows it to survive Adamant Landorus-Therian’s U-turn 100% of the time as long as it doesn’t have a boosting item, whilst still allowing Liepard to be fully invested in Speed to be quicker than Fake Out users such as Kangaskhan, Lopunny and Mienshao.
Fake Out is a must on Liepard. With Tailwind on Suicune, Substitute on Metagross and Spore on Breloom, it allows me to be able to gain momentum right from turn 1 by shutting down one half of the opponents’ active Pokemon. Encore is a great move, especially when it gets the priority Prankster gives status moves. It forces opponents to worry about using Protect or a set up move, as I can then threaten them next turn with locking them into that move. Often this forces a switch out on my opponents end or enables me to do damage to a Pokemon that would otherwise have protected itself. Foul Play is the damage output and Liepard actually picked up a surprising number of knock-outs with it and the Black Glasses boost. Its worth noting that the move itself is totally reliant on the target’s Attack stat in the calculation, not Liepard’s. It’s how you can get away with no Attack investment on it. The last move is usually Swagger, which compliments Foul Play like bread and butter. However, I didn’t find many situations where I felt I’d rather have it over Protect, and I preferred having a 100% chance of avoiding damage that turn to a 50% chance that one of the opposing Pokemon doesn’t attack. The fact that Liepard doesn’t normally carry Protect also makes it a good surprise, as opponents usually assume they will be able to get damage off onto the slot Liepard is in and will attack there, again allowing me to gain momentum.
I saved all of my battle videos and have them here for your viewing pleasure:
Round 1 vs Haydn Gardner
Looking at Haydn’s team, I saw that Metagross would run riot, especially if it could set up a Substitute. A Fire-type move from Goodra and Shadow Ball from Sylveon were Metagross’ only real threats, so I geared my first turn around achieving this. It was unfortunate that Liepard suffered a critical hit first turn, as it usually survives Iron Head from Mega Metagross. The other surprise he was packing was a fast Conkeldurr, with 252 Defense EVs and 252 Speed. Repeated Speed drops on Metagross, courtesy of Goodra’s Gooey ability, meant it eventually outsped Metagross, but by then it was too late for him to capitalize.
Round 2 vs Kim Everatt
I saw the Charizard and Venusaur combination and led accordingly, knowing that was the biggest threat. As it turned out her Veunsaur was Mega too, which Metagross deals perfectly with. She only brought Landorus to deal with Metagross so it was surprising she let me knock it out on the first turn. From there, Metagross was never going to lose and cleaned up.
Round 3 vs Georgie Reeve
Looking at Georgie’s team I saw three different modes, including one that was present on my team: the Liepard & Breloom, along with the Sylveon & Cresselia Trick Room mode and the famous 2014 World Championship winning Pacharisu & Mega Gyarados combination. The lead combination of Liepard and Thundrus seemed a good check to all three modes and while it was effective, I found myself forgetting Follow Me’s priority and ended up locking Pachirisu into it with Encore. I was unsure whether Taunt + Encore would cause the Pachirisu to Struggle or not, and miscounted Trick Room turns as well. Eventually though, I found my feet in this battle though and pulled through for the win.
Round 4 vs Charlie Powell
We were called up to the stage for this game and both of us were fighting with nerves. This was a game that perfectly showcased how important board position is. I spent two turns improving my positioning with a double switch into resisted hits and sacrificing poor Hydreigon in its first taste of action to set up my Tailwind. There was also a nice double target onto Rotom when the Breloom protected as I felt he would think I would take the chance to knock it out, being faster on that turn.
Round 5 vs Eden Batchelor [Xenoblade Hero]
My first meeting with my friend Eden who went on to a top 8 finish, and the first time in the tournament I can say that I may have been lucky to win the game with the freeze on Eden’s Ferrothorn. However, you can only play with what happens in front of you, and in the end I won on a carefully considered 50/50 which in my mind was more of a 51/49. Either way, I chose correctly and won the battle.
Round 6 vs Jamie Boyt [MrJellyLegs]
Another new friend of mine. Jamie would go on to be undefeated in the Swiss rounds with an 8-0 record and ended up with a third place finish. Basically his team was packed full of surprises…and they worked to perfection. My assumption was that he’d Heat Wave and Thunder Wave turn 1 and that my Thunderbolt and Mega Evolving and Protecting with Metagross would put me in a position to knock out the Charizard on turn 2. How wrong I was as he went for the double set up, and from then I had no way of winning the game.
Round 7 vs Daniel Oztekin [Necrocat219]
Poor, poor Mawile. It tried its best, but had a terrible time with paralysis. This game was based a lot around Speed control. With Daniel’s Swift Swim Kingdra, Icy Wind on Politoed and Tailwind on Talonflame, I decided I needed to bring both of my speed controllers. I paralyzed his Mawile on the switch in and it was prevented from moving on a couple of crucial turns. A win is a win though.
Round 8 vs Jamie Kean [Sweet Clive]
Unfortunately for Jamie, this was a top cut or bust kind of game for him. With my opponents’ win percentage, having played against three people that also made top cut already, I could probably have lost this game and still sneaked in to the top 8. Since then however, Jamie has gone on to top cut both the German and UK nationals and has subsequently attended the World Championships in August, deservedly so. In this match, however, I managed to come out on top, despite carelessly losing my Mega on turn 1. The critical hit on his Gengar didn’t matter, as I’d double targeted it with my Speed advantage under Tailwind, but Jamie will claim that the critical hit only didn’t matter due to the Icy Wind miss on Suicune the turn before. Either way, I won and secured my first ever place in a top cut at just my second tournament.
Getting to top cut was way more than I’d been expecting. I wanted to get here, of course, but my plan for the day was to just make friends and get some live practice for Nationals, so I was delighted to be in this position. I did however want to at least make the top 4 due to the cash prizes and trophies that were being given out. For the record, I won £25, which just about covered my petrol costs!
Top 8 vs Andy Waddell [peng]
I saw Andy’s team and I felt Hydreigon twitch in its Poke Ball. It hadn’t made a single mark on the tournament so far, but it’s time was now. It’s only threats were Terrakion and Andy’s own Hydreigon, which my Hydreigon could outspeed with its Choice Scarf.
Despite losing Thundurus turn one, I felt in control throughout the game. It was one of those games where you just seem to predict everything correctly, but I suppose I put myself in a position where he’d have to make the safe play. I found a lot of useful information for game two as well, such as the Leftovers on his Aegislash, Charizard being knocked out by a Dark Pulse + Zen Headbutt and his own Hydreigon not holding the Choice Scarf.
The information I gained in game one allowed Hydreigon to dominate once again. I knocked out Charizard in exactly the same way and won comfortably.
Top 4 vs Daniel Oztekin [Necrocat219]
A rematch from round seven of Swiss against a guy who is quickly becoming my nemesis! We were up on stage for the match to be streamed and maybe the nerves got to me a little bit, because some of my plays were very questionable. Anyway, here’s the video from the stream (ignore the crisp eating):
I will forever ask myself the question “WHY DIDN’T YOU TAUNT THE SMEARGLE?!?!?” The Encore and Taunt combination was something I’d come across in game three of Swiss against Georgie’s Pacharisu, but for some reason I decided to just try to knock out the Smeargle with a Thunderbolt, having Encored it into Follow Me. The lead match up was perfect for me, but I picked my moves wrong, and to make things worse the Smeargle got all the right boosts from it’s Moody ability to tank a few hits from Foul Play. While I was making a meal of taking it down, the Kangaskhan powered up and did enough damage to my team to make the game unwinnable.
He switched it up and brought the rain lead I’d defeated in Swiss. I got the turn one knock out on his Assault Vest Politoed, doubling up with Thunderbolt and Mach Punch, remembering it surviving on a slither of health in our earlier game. He made a questionable play switching his paralyzed Kingdra for Talonflame, expecting a Bullet Seed when I went for a Thunderbolt and a safe Spore onto the Mawile. There was another turn in the game where I Spored the still sleeping Mawile, but that was just in case it woke up going for a Sucker Punch onto Metagross.
I led with the infamous Liepard + Breloom combination, something I’d never done before with this team. It was working well until his Kingdra got the 1 turn sleep, waking up at its first possible opportunity and knocking out my Breloom as I went to Spore the Talonflame. The next turn, however was a mistake on my end, I missed the opportunity to use Substitute with the rain up against a Talonflame and a Kingdra Locked into Ice Beam with its Choice Specs. I foolishly attacked into Talonflame’s protect with Zen Headbutt, allowing Mawile to come in and lower my attack with Intimidate the next turn, which turned out to be a game winner as it came down to my Metagross being quicker than Talonflame and missing out on the knock out with Zen Headbutt by about the amount of an Intimidate drop.
Anyway, I can’t complain. I did terrorize Daniel with paralysis and he was probably the better player on the day, so congratulations to him for placing second!
I’d also like to say congratulations to everyone else that top cut at the event, and also the organisers, Suzie and Ian who put on a great event, with everything running perfectly and making it a very enjoyable day for everyone involved.
Anyway, I’ve been Ste. I did my best, I have no non-taunt related regrets, thanks for reading!