Tuesday, 18 April 2017
April VGC Report : Part 1
Hi guys today I am back with another post this time I will discuss my experience n the month of April regarding VGC, without further ado lets get started:
Teambuilding, The Return of Balele:
As you guys know that I was using a balele team in the last days of the past month and I actually wanted to leave that team and then build a new one but I really wasn’t getting in any good mood of building a new one, that is why I looked back into my old balele team and really wanted to update it, on random test, I have no idea why I started of with using the full balele core of tapu lele + drifblim + garchomp, the thing was that I used swords dance garchomp, that was the point when it shone to me and I was motivated to take this build seriously.
I started with my original balele sets + this swords dance garchomp which was a big star in many games I tested it with and started given the rest of the slots a serious consideration, after some thinking I came up with using tapu koko as it covered a big set of pokemons. To patch up the team I settled on with a hariyama, hariyama gave me a huge cover over those trick room cores of porygon 2, gigalith as well as those snorlax teams. For the last slot I was getting quite confused and had this urge to merge this team with a small trick room mode as it gave me loads of trouble while testing, after considering a lot of options I finally somehow ended up trying out nihilego with trick room as I was trying to originally try to build a team with nihilego, it worked really well, after testing I adjusted a few moveslots that weren’t getting much use, the following is the team:
Drifblim @ Psychic Seed
EVs: 4 HP / 132 Def / 100 SpA / 124 SpD / 148 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Shadow Ball
Drifblim is not my style which was something I sure did learn as you will know more about it, I honestly struggled with it, the favorite roles it ended up performing in battles for me were switching into a garchomps techtonic rage as well as provide tailwind for my tapu lele and garchomp, a lot of people starting strongly considering the threat of drifblim on their teambuilds and most of the teams I faced had strong counters to it, especially the niche of a thunder tapu koko got me twice so I built a modified spread to live that and then further make it be able to live golduck’s z-move so that it could use to hinder that combination. My drifblim had the ability to outspeed a usual speed invested tapu fini on it as well as ofcourse outspeed pheromosa under a tailwind, the special attack investment, I still believe allows it to 2hko tapu lele as well as a drifblim.
As you may remember if read the previous description that this duo was build to counter mirrors specifically as well, however I realized that usual drifblims were very much faster than my own, the last moveslot was thunder wave but the more I used it I realized that it lacked efficiency, drifblim really didn’t have all that time to use all those attacks, that is why I really struggled on keeping the last moveslot for this drifblim.
I tried many moves here, for example a few include protect, substitute, thunder wave (once again), manual weather and destiny bond I didn’t bother to use because they didn’t have a strong theory with what I wanted this team to be or how I was using it, finally I decided on embargo, the main theory of embargo revolves around inhibiting use of items like eviolite, pinch berries, leftovers or focus sashes as tapu lele gets to spam psychic or dazzling gleam this was the move that had both some theory as well as worked well with this team in the actual game, shadow ball and tailwind obviously got a lot of usage on this team, however will-o-wisp was something I didn’t tend to rely on and most of the times, unfortunately for me it happened to miss.
Tapu Lele @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 212 Def / 60 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk
- Dazzling Gleam
- Calm Mind
Tapu lele was much better for me in this form especially because it could be able to do things other than fit on the side of drifblim, this set allowed it to dodge those threatening double target attacks as well as allowed it to live strong attacks like kartana’s smart strike, following it up with a wiki berry could greatly help it, and more than its potential looks on paper, this concept is something I took from Enosh Sachar’s Invitationals team which was the first time when we got to see bulky tapu lele, I tested out his team and particularly loved this variant. Other job of tapu lele was surely to switch into those hariyama + porygon 2 lead as a strong disruptor for that fake out and can also act as a late game wall against relatively weaker special attackers, which is why I chose it over life orb variants as well as psychium z variants that people have started to use. I tried to keep it minimal in speed to under speed fini that might be fishing to outspeed those slightly invested lele for mirrors, especially as nihilego was on the side to provide the speed control of trick room, I hypothetically had no trouble against tapu lele mirrors.
There isn’t really for me atleast much to talk about these two but I realized that this combination wasn’t really as dominant as it quickly became one of the most popular cores and everyone had some strong checks and counters to it, this core doesn’t also handle mirrors very well also I failed to build it in such a way that made it to counter those mirrors, I didn’t lead it much, however for thepeople who weren’t much prepared couldn’t stand long against it.
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 20 HP / 212 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 220 Spe
- Swords Dance
- Fire Fang
Muk is one of the biggest threat to the above two mentioned, garchomp is strong in theory against that, also this is a garchomp spread I really like more garchomps are becoming of adamant nature and slower, that is why I grabbed the opportunity of beating mirrors and kept mine jolly natured which allowed me to outspeed a mimikyu. This garchomp has more bulk to survive a porygon 2’s ice beam with 28 special attack investment at neutral special attack. Garchomp was pretty much my favorite pokemon of this team just because of the monster it became after using a swords dance, it won me a 90% lost game due to it getting the swords dance boost.
Swords dance was really effective, especially I got the ideal situations to set it up when I am against two pokemons of my opponents which are walled by garchomp or are weak to it, my opponent makes a decision to adjust to this which is when I go for the swords dance which turns even their adjustments into my favor, this was just awesome!, also for a big part people didn’t expect swords dance maybe as it might also could use moves like rock slide or substitute. For the last moveslot I went with the decision of using fire fang as I ended p getting walled by celesteela as well as kartana especially with that swords dance boost, adjusting to which I lost a lot of momentum, fire fang was a much better move for this variant whose favorite trait was to use swords dance.
Tapu Koko @ Fairium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Dazzling Gleam
- Light Screen
Tapu koko was beginning with a much different concept of a sashed pokemon with taunt as it seemed to fill many roles like that on paper atleast. However in the actual game I never got to fully use my focus sash (intended for pheromosa, garchomp 1v1, kartana etc) it more or less never really came into practice. That is when I decided to switch to fairium z tapu koko, this allowed me to not wait for a second turn and take out pokemons like opposing tapu koko as well as garchomp in one turn instead of two, turning this team into an offensive one was in my favor as I do like those types of teams.
This is a usual tapu koko until it gets light screen, this slot was originally taunt to help with ninetales as well as trick room setups, but then again it was something that wasn’t really fitting with the team, light screen helped me in more situations, whether it was used to give garchomp more cover, hariyama a defensive buff or even helping against other more and more special attackers, setting it up was quite a thing and usually really ended up being in my favor, I loved to use this move, definitely does sound weird, but it works when I use it.
Hariyama @ Flame Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 116 Atk / 168 Def / 220 SpD
- Fake Out
- Close Combat
- Poison Jab
Hariyama is used here to mainly help with trick room, also my increasing desire to have a strong fighting type on every pokemon team to counter snorlax as well as a porygon 2, hariyama came as a natural very good trick room counter as it could counter a lot of trick room cores of gigalith as well as snorlax and the aforementioned porygon 2. Hariyama was something used and put on this team to specifically counter these few pokemons but did a lot of additional roles that were very helpful.
Firstly I would like to discuss the importance f fake out leading it with frailer pokemons like tapu koko or nihilego or even garchomp allows me to hinder a threat for atleast one turn which can allow me to get a ko on it the very next turn, fake out also fished for double protect which was the time I could use to set up a trick room, light screen, calm mind or a swords dance as I liked, this very essential turn of fake out also allows for the activation of the flame orb which activates its guts ability giving it a huge attack stat boost. The last moveslot I have allows it to hit fairies for more damage as knock off wasn’t getting any use at all and poison jab could be helpful, I ran detect on which a small note is that some muk have the move imprison so it could help against that whenever needed.
This ev spread is something that I really like. Previously I was using a 252/252/4 spread which was extremely bad considering that hariyama has loads of hp but very less defenses similar to drifblim, so it needed to be invested elsewhere, this made me to make a good ev spread, this spread allows it to take a 252+ special attack tapu lele psychic under psychic terrain through a light screen, secondly it gives it a role to survive a garchomp’s tectonic rage (which isn’t ideal but surely can be something useful) and the offensive benchmark of being able to OHKO a 252 hp and 68 defense porygon 2 with its close combat.
Nihilego @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Power Gem
- Sludge Bomb
- Trick Room
Last but not the least and surely a glue to this team, nihilego its just so good with the dangerous dynamism of its poison + rock typing it can really get a lot of the top pokemons in this format, I really felt like I would miss it not having the move hp-ice but its job was already filled by pokemons like koko, lele or even my own garchomp. Nihilego allowed me to make certain flexibility in this team that was very good.
I often did used it against those balele mirror leads which would set up a tailwind against me, I would take this time to set up a very much useful trick room, trick room had the theory of ofcourse turning around opposing trick rooms, as well as to set up hariyama for those teams in which it was very much useful. It could take out pokemons like gyarados, tapu koko, tapu lele, dirfblim, ninetales, marowak, torkoal, arcanine, tapu fini, pelliper, etc.
Nihilego was also seeing some use, other than surprisingly being a niche role and I overall really liked all the members of in use on this team. Focus sash really helped it too! It could help it alongside hariyama where it could use fake out ten nihilego takes a attack and then it goes for a trick room, it could also help my relatively slower balele team to outspeed others.
Why I Stopped Using this Team:
The team was really good but I just really wasn’t very good with it, following are the reasons I think why:
· Usually I try out building teams with a pokemon or combination which I think has strong use in this format or atleast some viability, but this time I took balele, which I didn’t see as much of a viable duo, but I just started to build around it, that is why I wasn’t maybe able to understand it that well.
· This team was quite standard on a lot of points, it did had its trick which really shined and worked for me here, but for most of my team this was something people already knew and had strong counters to which was troublesome for me.
· A lot of the times this team relies on usage of setup strategies, offensive setups are something I used very well, but especially the ones revolving around drifblim were something I was quite unfamiliar with and often felt like I didn’t utilize it to its full potential.
With all that playing and testing out this team again and again I finally decided to now move on and finally start teambuilding with the pokemon I really wanted to build around for, a NIHILEGO!
Nihilego Team Building Process:
I have tried out nihilego seriously on one team before where I really realized that it had also a lot of potential regarding opposing lead combinations it needed its partners to counter them that combined with the theory that it was very offensively viable in the current state of the format I started to build a core around it.
(before going into his build I was quite shattered by how I thought I couldn’t do much ahead with that previous team even when I thought that it was solid, however I did know that it wasn’t my style, I watched a few teambuilding videos and picked up a few notes from here and there, it really boosted my confidence regarding building a new team)
On the topic of covering weaknesses I read celesteela as well as thought of incineroar and gastrodon core for my nihilego, this made me realize that this team was going to be something very similar to was ‘Raikoo’ has been using this entire season (as far as I know) when I was thinking about these pokemons I was feeling bad about how weird it was but supported by the fact that it was used before gave me confidence, the core looked very well balanced. I rounded out the team with garchomp + mandibuzz to finish up my rest of the counters I needed, the synergy didn’t look terrible but it worked on paper, it was the time to test: did it work out? No. that was even more and more frustration for me right there that is why I decided to move onto building a new team, honestly at this point it gave me some anxiety and then I started building once with this idea I had.
I really didn’t keep up with the stream considering it was always very laggy for me, however I did go back and saw some teams from that regionals and picked up a few notes from here and there in terms of usage. Following is what I observed:
Double Ducks of success:
Double ducks maybe didn’t saw a huge amount of usage in them however we did surely see double ducks go far, main reason to take a team like that to regionals can simply be explained as it being able to beat the top 3 pokemons of this metagame atleast according to statistics as well as having a control of weather, checking ninetales’ strategies as well as hitting a lot of other pokemons for supereffective damage, with the only weaknesses being tapu fini and gastrodon that can really shut down this combination, they can still fire off hurricanes and ice beam against the gastrodons as well as use encore of a tapu fini that attempts to wall them by setting up and make it useless on the field for some turns.
Physical Ghost Types rising in usage:
This is something I am sure most people clearly saw that there was a lot of marowak and mimikyu being used on the teams in that regionals, main reason that I believe is the usage of drifblim + tapu lele teams which physical ghost types can handle very well, especially n combination with trick room. This change of pace in their usage was clearly seen in the usage statistics update followed by the regionals.
Most of the teams, from atleast which were shown on stream did not feature the drifblim + tapu lele combination which seemed to rule this metagame and was up ato a point that everyone had a build around that combination, with that dangerous amount of usage people must have felt like it being a bad call going into this regionals mainly because everyone would keep atleast a single clever check of their own to that team composition and that combination in particular.
An Idea and a Team:
I was really thinking about how can I beat tapu lele + drifblim to start off this team with, I came to the decision of using the duo of oranguru + marowak as I once had though of. Oranguru can set up trick room with a mental herb safely against drifblim + tapu lele whereas once it sets up, marowak can ohko both f the oppositions providing instruct in one turn only. Then I added a lurantis to help me switch in as well as counter water types and gigalith against marowak. Lurantis really did work very well, in some games it even got up to a + 6 special attack stat and picked up OHKO on a tapu bulu in one game even due to its boosts. Then I added the duo of drifblim + tapu koko which helped a lot against a lot of matchups especially rain, pheromosa as well as tailwind mirrors, I used drifblim with will-o-wisp, acrobatics and sunny day which helped a lot with its partners and I really liked it for the first time. Tapu koko was having some bulk with life orb to be able to keep a balance of offense and defense in balance. Garchomp was added to get ohko on muk, which threatened my entire team. I put this team to test, the oranguru + lurantis idea worked well, but not in coordination with marowak, the team had very less bulk to start off with and muk was a terrible matchup for me once garchomp went down it wasn’t working well into the dynamism of this team. I had to rebuild it.
Then I started off with the idea of marowak + oranguru and then started building again, this time I opted for buzzwole to get gigalith as well as a porygon 2 and also to solidify my trick room mode of the team. I was theorizing it before for some essential reason that I can’t remember. I added ninetales to get garchomp and water types, to keep in mind the fact that this was being build around marowak and then again added garchomp for the last slot I was having trouble against the lilligant + torkoal and Double ducks so I added tapu fini.
Marowak-Alola @ Thick Club
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 252 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Flare Blitz
- Shadow Bone
Marowak I think is quite an overlooked pokemon, its usage however rose in the recent regionals, which I think is because of the fact how good trick room and a physical ghost type is in this format against those balele teams which is why the reason I started off with it, it is also amazing against pokemons in general like fire type, salazzle and arcanine, celesteela, kartana as well as tapu koko and other annoying and strong electric types like magnezone and togedemaru. Marowak was never disappointing and I brought it as a backup tactic against a lot of teams in my matchup.
Marowak is quite strong is mostly predictable however for some points the ev spread and my choice of using bonemerang, bonemerang was chosen due to the ever growing population of sturdy magnezone, focus sash togedemaru and tapu koko as well as nihilego, further in addition to tapu bulu users it can ignore the usual ground move drop, due to marowak being a big part of my tapu koko, garchomp, arcanine and celesteela core counter I was considering using earthquake to challenge those defensive switches from my opponents’ side, however the aforementioned things were more tempting to counter over the risk of accuracy or even going for the earthquake. The ev spread is my favorite as it allows marowak to live strong tapu lele attacks as well as power gem from a sashed nihilego and then ohko’s them back with its moves, the cut in offense isn’t that big since it already does get a 200+ attack stat after those boosts. However then I won’t be expecting it to do monstrous amounts to the pokemons that it doesn’t hit for super effective damage do loads to them.
Oranguru @ Mental Herb
EVs: 252 HP / 172 Def / 84 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Trick Room
Oranguru is quite only for the use of only with some matchups, unlike porygon 2 oranguru has completely different properties. There really isn’t much to say about this pokemon, lets start off with the ev spread it allows it to live a garchomp’s tectonic rage, and simply that and the rest was dumped into special defense, investing into special attack wasn’t that big of a issue at all. Now lets discuss the different roles I gave to this pokemon in battles that I brought it in, firstly instruct can help in allowing pokemons to repeat their attacks on the same turn, which was very useful, especially with marowak and tapu fini as I could get multiple accuracy drops as well as set up 2x calm minds in one turn. Oranguru also acted as a defensive pivot to strong tapu lele or predictable ghost type attacks. I chose psyshock over psychic to beat those nihilego with much ease if n any case marowak was down or not present on the field, considering that it is generally a big threat to by team and can hit loads for quite some damage.
Buzzwole @ Fightinium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 236 HP / 108 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe
- Hammer Arm
- Poison Jab
Buzzwole can do multiple jobs on this team but its most useful ones are surely lying in being able to do loads of damage to those normals types which are really tough to beat, like porygon 2, snrolax as well as sturdy rock and steel types like magnezone and gigalith. Buzzwole overall is a really strong and bulky pokemon in this metagame and has seen a rise in its usage. I gave it speed to outsped those tapu lele as well as those tapu fini. Which are bulky and be able to hit them with a poison jab before they can attack at all. Buzzwole doesn’t do the job of a lurantis in terms of beating marowak’s weaknesses In theory but atleast can strongly combat with its trick room enemies. Hammer arm I chose over superpower to transform buzzwole into a trick room abuser from a moderately fast pokemon. Overall I really liked playing buzzwole on this team and was much happy over the last team that I had put it on because I didn’t had a much solid answer to porygon 2 and snorlax other than walling them in a game. Protect seems a staple for this pokemon after which I decided to hand it over the move taunt previously I had the move ice punch in this slot however it ended up pretty much never working out in any battle, same was the case for protect but I could see its situation utility usage which seemed more beneficial than keeping ice punch in general for garchomp which never worked. I almost never ended up using this slot however I remember when I used it to stop oppositions from using wide guard once garchomp used its z-move ad was under setup, which helped me out loads.
Adding on to usage of buzzwole it was an overall really amazing answer to foul play users as well which could really threaten my members like marowak as well as my garchomp. You might think that buzzwole has a monstrous attack stat however something that came in as even more impressive was its physical defense which takes about 5% or so from a spread earthquake of garchomp as well as survives arcanine’s flare blitz with ease, I would have gone for the route of choosing a special defensively bulky set for it to survive fairy type attacks as well however the physical bulk came much more handy in matchups to make a specially defensive spread and really who would have wanted to stay into a fairy type against buzzwole.
Ninetales-Alola @ Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Aurora Veil
I thought of looking upon more threats to my marowak a glaring weakness was garchomp who could still do loads to my oranguru and marowak even after I added buzzwle, a clear and amazing answer to garchomp is a ninetales, ninetales has a lot of metagame specificity which came with it being on this slot, with addition to countering garchomp, it could even take on those gastrodon, gyarados and other water types, ninetales takes the previous role of countering water types as well, this made me very confident moving forward with the team. In addition to that the addition of this pokemon’s move aurora veil and snow warning also had great importance especially as a lot of people have started to use kartana with sash and weather does big against its opposition weathers in terms of disruption. Aurora veil can provide amazing bulk to my own team which leaves me very happy whenever I get to use this move. I would have loved to fit in the move icy wind onto this pokemon but overall I felt like that protect was doing a better job to support itself.
Seeing this slot aurora veil did a bigger job than I really expected it to, since my oranguru doesn’t really happen to carry a recovery item nor isn’t as bulky as a reliable porygon 2, I would lead oranguru and ninetales and then set up a aurora veil to nerf the damage output, I might lose ninetales in this turn without it taking any damage but only to bring in my marowak which would get a bulk increase from the setup aurora veil and I would be able to utilize this trick room duo longer. The somewhat fading but still effective duo of tapu fini + ninetales was aso becoming really effective and key to winning the matches in which by opponents could have trouble against the team
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 44 HP / 196 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 212 Spe
- Fire Fang
- Swords Dance
When I put on buzzwole onto this team it was my supposed counter to a muk for then, however as the team also added in a ninetales I felt like it was time to bring back my old swords dance garchomp to counter that pokemon, in addition to muk, metagross also was a seeming threat as it could land super effective hits on buzzwole as well as ninetales + do a huge amount to my orangurur, garchomp handled both of those factors nicely, that was the reasoning of this garchomp in use, my overall opinion on this set remains the same as it was when using it with the balele team, I never however got I a situation which made me feel like that I could use a tailwind user on this team, my SD setups weren’t as frequent but did their job finely whenever I used them.
Tapu Fini @ Aguav Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
- Muddy Water
- Calm Mind
Theoretically on my pokemon-to-counter list I only had pheromosa left and then I started looking upon what were my answers to those common leads I already had a lot of the leads covered but what seemed challenging for me was facing a double ducks lead and well as a torkoal lead, especially since ninetales is faster than them, they will win the weather wars against me, I needed a more stable approach to these leads, that is why I settled on using a tapu fini, which was well supported by its partners in the back especially by ninetales and marowak and also added a whole new dimension to this team of mine, by making a tapu fini mode, it wasn’t much time until I faced a double ducks and a lilligant + torkoal team and tapu fini seemed to do its job finely there.
I didn’t really want to make a complex ev spread as this one really gave me no trouble while playing. Aguav berry seemed to fit its job very nicely on this team of mine. I did also test out leftovers variant but it lost me some games where aguav berry would have won me, so I switched back to using aguav berry on my tapu fini and it never turned against me, fu thing I did with this team was sometimes using my own protect to get the hail chip damage and consume my pinch berry and allow 50% healing which really seemed to put in work. Tapu fini seemed a great option to counter those rain and sun leads. The way I played it on this team was by taking a good window of opportunity to set up one or two calm minds, b the time my pinch berry will activate and I will have enough hp to land one or two strong hits. Especially the matchups I used to counter with tapu fini were rain and sun matchups, which is further supported by this bulk of special defense.
I also ended up using my tapu fini in the trick room as my opponents went ahead to switch around to my tapu fini and adjust, this time and few turns I took to set up calm minds as well as set up a trick room after which I could beat most of the fast pokemons of this metagame, especially in combination with instruct from oranguru.
Since this became a major team of mine I found ease in playing it, following are the few matchups I would like to discuss:
Drifblim + Tapu Lele Teams:
I usually go against these teams by leading with marowak + oranguru and then taking the game from there, considering that these teams have little to stop trick room and their main counter happens to be tapu lele’s taunt with it, taking advantage of the predictable leads I go for this combination as a lead and then decide to sweep through with marowak, the pokemons in the back are dependent on what my opponent has in their back on the team.
Double Ducks Teams:
Double duck teams are usually accompanied by a tapu koko with them, fr this specific lead I either go for tapu fini + buzzwole or tapu fini + garchomp dependent upon what my opponent keeps in the rest of their teams. Setting up calm mind turn one + switching in a ninetales if they lead in this way so I break pelliper’s sash and threaten both of them with my freeze dry, you do have to watch out for encore golduck or pelliper switching around the rain so that you maintain your stance against them.
Tapu koko + Celesteela + Arcanine + Garchomp Teams:
My main lead against these teams happens to be the duo of ninetales + oranguru where I can either attack garchomp or set up an aurora veil to ensure the safe trick room setup from oranguru, depending on what my opponent brings I usually switch into my marowak as it takes attacks from cele, koko and arc really well whereas ninetales takes care of garchomp, even if ninetales goes down on the first turn means I have loads of turns of trick room left to attack with my marowak and usually a tapu fini in the back.
AFK + Porygon Cores:
AFK + porygon cores usually come in the form of porygon 2 with gigalith, araquanid or snorlax, these pokemons can be reasonably well handled by the lead of buzzwole + ninetales, ninetales is kept alongside buzzwole to counter tha tapu fini offensively, if my opponent brings an arcanine to the lead it may sound troublesome but I usually ten to switch into my garchomp or marowak in the back which is dependent on what is my opponents’ team
with this post concluded with two teams and a small metagame shift view from the Utah regionals, now we look forward to the 3rd International Championships to be held at this weekend, Hope you enjoyed this post, i'll be back with more! Bye for now!