Australian Weather Rings the Victreebels – Yang Ze’s PC#6 Winner Report

December 7th, 2015 | Posted by Level 51 in Team Reports

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Hi! I’m Yang Ze (Level 51), a VGC player hailing from the sunny island of Singapore. I’m here today to talk about a very silly team I created called Australian Weather, which, in its simplest form, aims to surprise opponents with Victreebel’s rather, well, surprising damage output. However, unlike most powerhouses of the ORAS era, Victreebel’s damage output comes not from a sky-high base stat—its Special Attack is “just” 100, which is pretty medicore by today’s standards—but from the coverage options which this team provides it with through Weather Ball.

Although Victreebel is very much a best-of-one oriented set (and, to be completely honest, Pokémon in general), I tried to build a team which could also play well in best-of-three. This worked, though honestly not in the way I planned—instead of the team being solid enough to carry me through extended sets, the team won these sets by manipulating my opponents’ expectations of the team’s sets and therefore its playstyle, very often letting me catch them off-guard with a move they might not have expected even across multiple games.

Teambuilding Process

This team actually began its existence sometime in June with Victreebel operating under just the sun. I was testing out ideas for the Singapore Regionals, and I noticed Terence Dray’s (Ty Flowsion) UK Nationals report where he ran Victreebel, so I decided to build around that.

charizard-yvictreebelaegislash?????????
Glasgow Weather.

Unfortunately, I remember pretty much nothing about this team, other than the fact that it didn’t work wonderfully and I shelved it. Fast forward to later on in the year, when I was trying to build a team with Charizard Y. One thing I really dislike about Charizard Y teams are that you’re often stuck with lots of Pokémon which are complete bait for Substitute Heatran, like Charizard Y, Venusaur, Cresselia, and so forth. In the aforementioned report, the writer mentions, alongside Victreebel, the possibility of dropping a Weather Ball in the Rain when describing his offensive coverage. Since I wasn’t quite prepared to actually run Politoed, I used Rain Dance Thundurus instead:

charizard-yvictreebelthundurusconkeldurrlandorus-therian.pngbisharp
Glasgow Weather Reincarnated.

This team wasn’t great either. I hardly got to pull off the Rain Weather Ball thing since I had to get Sun up for the Chlorophyll boost first, spending a turn and probably forcing Victreebel to Protect, then bring Thundurus in and then use Rain Dance, which was highly inefficient and impractical. Giving up any hope of making this into a serious team, I replaced Thundurus with Politoed.

charizard-y.pngvictreebelpolitoedconkeldurrlandorus-therianbisharp
London Weather.

At this point, I had a pretty big problem with Kangaskhan (mommy issues, per se?), and I felt that slow-moving Conkeldurr didn’t really fit in with the fairly fast-moving nature of the rest of the team, so I replaced it with slow-moving Aegislash, which at least patched up the Kangaskhan issue even if it didn’t do much to fix the slow-moving part. Don’t ask, it seemed to make sense at the time…

charizard-yvictreebelpolitoedaegislashlandorus-therianbisharp
Australian Weather.

And there we have it! The extremely silly team that won me a PC. In the following paragraphs, I’ll be describing exactly what happened en route to winning this PC so that you can see exactly how silly the team is.

Australian Weather

Charizard


Charizard (F) @ Charizardite Y***CharYsma
Ability: Blaze
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 56 SpA / 188 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 30 SpA / 30 SpD
– Flamethrower
– Hidden Power [Ground]
– Tailwind
– Protect

Brought to 11/11 games (100%)

When I originally decided that I wanted to run Victreebel, the only sensible course of action was to pair it with a Charizard. I started off with a fairly standard Heat Wave / Solar Beam / Overheat set, but when I revived the team four months later it somehow morphed into this monstrosity.

This is a pretty weird Charizard set, yeah. I’ll talk about the most normal thing first: the EVs were modified from my bulky spread from earlier in the year, which was in turn modified from Zog’s spread from the end of 2014. That’s right, stop calling it “Level 51’s Charizard spread”; it’s not. It’s Zog’s spread. I’m a fraud.

Now that that startling revelation is done with, I departed from the standard Heat Wave / Solar Beam / Overheat set for a few reasons. With a Victreebel on the team, I thought that Solar Beam would be pretty redundant, so I replaced it with Hidden Power Ground to damage Heatran in case it wasn’t convenient to set up for a Rain Weather Ball. Next, I wanted to be able to guarantee the KO on (most) (not specially defensive) Aegislash without lowering my Special Attack or risking the 10% miss, so I replaced Heat Wave and Overheat with Flamethrower, essentially giving me No-Miss Charizard™.

Originally I ran Will-o-Wisp on the last slot; in conjunction with enough Speed EVs to outrun errant (neutral) Kangaskhan before they Mega Evolved, I managed to put some nice burns into opposing Kangaskhan. I then realised that not only was I Protecting against Kangaskhan on the first turn to avoid their Fake Outs anyway, I was also turning into a monster, setting fire to mother and child alike. Ignoring the fact that Charizard is technically already in the Monster egg group, I put Will-o-Wisp aside for a while to consider other options. I soon realised that my team didn’t have many ways to deal with the infamous Dewgong Perish Trap team, so I brought my Landorus-Therian to rehab to wean it from its Choice Scarf addiction, changing it to an Assault Vest set to give me the flexibility to Earthquake opposing Mega Gengar while maintaining the ability to U-turn out of tough situations. At this point, I realised that with Tailwind, Landorus would be able to outrun Mega Gengar even after an Icy Wind drop, which is what really sealed up the choice to run Tailwind. Besides this, Tailwind was also great for letting Politoed and Victreebel get off fast Encores to lock down the opposing team.

EV Spread Specifics

  • Outruns neutral base 90s
  • 252 Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Mega Charizard Y: 153-182 (82.7 – 98.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Victreebel

victreebel
Victreebel (F) @ Life Orb***Sara Senya
Ability: Chlorophyll
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
– Leaf Storm
– Weather Ball
– Encore
– Protect

Brought to 10/11 games (90.9%)

Victreebel was the Pokémon this team was built around, and unlike most of my silly Australian-style endeavours, it actually pulled its weight so I didn’t enter every match 6-5 down. Weather Ball is the move this team is built around, and I really enjoyed using it during the tournament not just to see people’s reactions (or lack thereof) when they lose their Aegislash or Heatran or Amoonguss to an oversized pitcher plant, but also for the animation, which reminds me of those gumball machines that featured not at all in my childhood. It’s alright though, I don’t even like gumballs.

The moveset here is pretty self-explanatory, so I won’t say too much about it. Leaf Storm and Weather Ball together put FWG coverage onto a single Pokémon, which is actually really cool. Encore was also generally hilarious, since no one seems to realise that Victreebel even gets the move, allowing me to lock opponents into Fake Out, Substitute, Protect, resisted hits, and so forth.

Those familiar with pitcher plants should realise the brilliance that went into this name, but once again I must admit my thievery. Unfortunately, this breathtaking conception once again belongs to Zog, who by now must be sick of me stealing everything from his EV spreads to his in-game name (which is what this is). If you’re reading this, Zog—though I don’t see why you would be—sorry!

EV Spread Specifics

  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Victreebel Weather Ball (100 BP Fire) vs. 252 HP / 100 SpD Amoonguss in Sun: 221-260 (100 – 117.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Life Orb Victreebel Weather Ball (100 BP Water) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Heatran in Rain: 198-234 (118.5 – 140.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

Politoed

politoed
Politoed (F) @ Sitrus Berry***Poliamorous
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 172 Def / 84 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Scald
– Icy Wind
– Encore
– Perish Song

Brought to 2/11 games (18.2%)

Yes, I admit it, I stole OmegaDonut’s Politoed nickname as well. I’m a hardened nickname thief, and I don’t regret it one bit (sorry). Politoed pulled out a lot of clutch plays in practice, and I don’t regret adding it to the team one bit. On the ladder, I saw an Entei or Heatran something like every other battle, but on the day itself, I met just two Fire-types which required me to bring Politoed (Yoko’s Infernape and Kenny’s Heatran), and as such it was by far the Pokémon I brought to the least games. While they both ate a Rain-boosted Weather Ball at some point, I guess dropping the blue magic is a one-off play that’s more suited for best-of-one play, and I never brought it into play in either of my rematches against Yoko and Kenny—in fact, even bringing out the Weather Ball play against Kenny in Swiss was somewhat of an overextension which took my Victreebel out of play and let him get Trick Room up, costing me the game.

Interestingly enough, I feel like the threat of blue magic was enough to mess with opponents’ plays when I got around to rematching them; for example, although my top cut match against Yoko started the same way our Swiss match did, I shot a Leaf Storm at her Porygon-Z instead of going for the Rain Weather Ball onto her Infernape. She switched out her Infernape that turn, giving me a huge advantage.

Besides the mind games Politoed’s mere presence brought about, I also thought it had the capacity to be an interesting force in battle. Perish Song, notably, gave me an alternate endgame win condition if I was facing down some Pokémon the team couldn’t touch, such as Ferrothorn, which walls the entire team after my Charizard goes down. Icy Wind also provided some form of speed control, ensuring that I didn’t have to rely so much on Chlorophyll to keep Victreebel moving fast, as well as bumping up my team’s effective Speed tiers in general. Finally, Encore capitalised on the various forms of Speeed control my team contains, and works on the general idea that a speedy Encore is always amazing.

As I’m writing this section I realise that extreme Sun and Rain pretty much epitomises Singapore weather, so perhaps I should have named the team that. Oh well.

EV Spread Specifics

  • 252 SpA Life Orb Thundurus Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 84+ SpD Politoed: 164-195 (83.2 – 98.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery

Aegislash

aegislash
Aegislash (F) @ Weakness Policy***ae(gyz)lash
Ability: Stance Change
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 196 SpA / 76 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Shadow Ball
– Sacred Sword
– Wide Guard
– King’s Shield

Brought to 5/11 games (45.5%)

Aegislash, the Pokémon called after my own namesake! Somehow, Kangaskhan ends up being an issue on pretty much all of my teams, even when I dedicate an entire slot to it like Sableye or Terrakion or something, kind of like how I fail Economics after spending like two weeks studying for it. In the end, I gave up trying to do that, and figured that I’d just have to play around it (also kind of like how I gave up trying to study Economics; would not recommend this course of action).

Since I was running a Weakness Policy on Aegislash anyway, I figured I could afford to run a more defensive Aegislash, so I opted for the specially defensive build you see here and never looked back. This spread is so much bulkier than a straight 252/252 Quiet spread, and I really enjoyed being able to take decently powerful neutral hits in Blade Forme, which eased the King’s Shield / attack predictions somewhat. The extra bulk also came in very handy multiple times throughout the tournament, letting Aegislash get an extra one or two attacks off, which is very significant—especially if it’s at +2.

By now, you may have noticed that this Aegislash runs Sacred Sword, a move long forgotten and left behind in the dust of VGC ’14. During playtesting, I noticed that I wasn’t using Flash Cannon all that much, since I used it pretty much exclusively for Sylveon, and even then when I wanted to target one down, there was always a better move to make which usually involved Wide Guard or King’s Shield. I decided to switch Flash Cannon to Sacred Sword to deal better damage to Kangaskhan—in fact, after a Weakness Policy boost, which is pretty easy to pull off when Kangaskhan throws a Sucker Punch at Aegislash, Sacred Sword can OHKO less bulky variants of Mega Kangaskhan even uninvested. I guess running Sacred Sword would be like me studying Economics but only when I’m free or something. Then again, this metaphor has gone on way too far.

Another interesting feature of this set is that revealing Shadow Ball and Sacred Sword before revealing Wide Guard can make opponents assume that it runs 3 attacks (with Flash Cannon) and King’s Shield. While not originally intended as part of the way the team plays, this choice would allow me to catch opponents off-guard with Wide Guard in the following turns or following games, giving me a little trick to employ in best-of-three sets. Interestingly enough, this actually came in really handy in both my Top 8 and Finals matches.

EV Spread Specifics

  • 252+ Atk Life Orb Bisharp Sucker Punch vs. 236 HP / 0 Def Aegislash-Shield: 135-164 (81.8 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Mega Charizard Y Heat Wave vs. 236 HP / 76+ SpD Aegislash-Shield in Sun: 138-164 (83.6 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • +2 0 Atk Aegislash-Blade Sacred Sword vs. 92 HP / 0 Def Mega Kangaskhan: 192-228 (100 – 118.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Landorus-T

landorus-therian
Landorus-Therian @ Assault Vest***SKILL
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 124 HP / 148 Atk / 20 Def / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– U-turn
– Superpower

Brought to 8/11 games (72.7%)

As mentioned earlier, my Landorus-Therian was originally all geared up for winter with a stylish Choice Scarf to complement the winter colours. Unfortunately, it soon realised that winter does not actually exist in Singapore, which is why it now has to hold on to a significantly less stylish Assault Vest.

Style aside, being able to actually change moves on Landorus-Therian was an amazing feeling. Too often I’m about to click Rock Slide, when it strikes me that then I’ll be stuck using a spread, non-STAB, 75 BP move until I switch out. At this point I’ll either run out of time and have the game make me Earthquake into my conveniently placed Steel-type partner, or realise that no one actually uses Skill Rock Slide for its damage output anyway, if you get what I mean. Anyway, Landorus was pretty much here to chew gum and Intimidate things, and it ran out of gum on the way to the tournament, so I bought it some more. Aren’t I a nice trainer.

Landorus-Therian is literally pivotal for this team, since that’s what it’s doing a lot. When it’s not switching in for the sole purpose of Intimidating opposing Pokémon, though, Landorus can actually function as an excellent physical attacker for the team since it’s been freed from the tyranny of the blue scarf! As a side note, since every paragraph I write seems to have one by necessity: apparently, no one actually runs U-turn on non-choiced Landorus-Therian, but since the whole reason I switched to Assault Vest in the first place was to better my Perish Trap matchup, I figured I’d better leave it on. And that was how this (not) amazing set was born!

EV Spread Specifics

  • Outruns Timid max speed Mega Gengar at -1 under Tailwind
  • +1 252+ Atk Life Orb Bisharp Sucker Punch vs. 124 HP / 20 Def Landorus-T: 152-179 (84.4 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Charizard Y Overheat vs. 124 HP / 4 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T in Sun: 153-181 (85 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Bisharp

bisharp
Bisharp (M) @ Focus Sash***Bayoknight
Ability: Defiant
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Assurance
– Sucker Punch
– Iron Head
– Protect

Brought to 8/11 games (72.7%)

I’d like to begin by apologising for Bisharp’s nickname, which was something that I thought was pretty funny at the time but turned out not to be. Just like my entire team, Bisharp’s nickname is completely outclassed by better alternatives such as Open♥Surgery, Wife Her, or some obscure joke about Australian electronic dance music. At least it’s better than the ubiquitous variants on the chess theme that you see all over the ladder as well as in your worst nightmares.

That said, Bisharp was originally added as an Aegislash counter, which is a pretty funny concept if you consider the fact that this team already has Charizard Y, Sun Weather Ball Victreebel, specially defensive Aegislash, and Assault Vest Landorus-T. I can’t help it; I’ve had so many traumatic experiences sitting on the wrong side of Aegislash’s cold, unfeeling Steel as I call every Wide Guard / King’s Shield / attack decision wrong.

Looking at the set, Assurance is the only odd move out, which seems downright silly at first, since it doesn’t OHKO Aegislash without the boost from prior damage, which misses the point of being a 1-on-1 counter to Aegislash. However, the team on the whole is rather weak to Trick Room teams, since Pokémon like Charizard and Victreebel can’t take hits from most Trick Room attackers very well, while members like Politoed and Aegislash without an activated Weakness Policy don’t do much in return. Therefore, I wanted to be able to OHKO most Trick Room setters from turn 1, before they had a chance to get Trick Room up. Assurance was the best way I had to do this, if opponents relied on just their setters’ natural bulk to get Trick Room up. For those of you shouting at me now about Bisharp speed tying with my own Victreebel outside of the sun: first, you’re shouting at a computer screen. Get over it, man. Second, I did consider lowering Bisharp’s Speed EVs to 244, which would have let it get the Assurance boost next to Victreebel whether in or out of sun. However, I never got around to changing it because I was too lazy to go to the Pokemon Showdown teambuilder and tweak the EVs. There, now you can shout at me. Be sure to wipe the spittle off your screen after you’re done.

EV Spread Specifics

  • Bisharp is cute.

Team Synergies and Lead Combinations

Unlike many teams I’ve seen win tournaments this season, my team can’t claim to select any four and lead any two based solely on the opposing team composition. Or rather, I could do this, but I tended to have a fixed set of optimal lead combinations which I chose from going into a battle. From there, I had a bit more flexibility in selecting the two members I brought in the back depending on what I thought would support my main damage-dealers well.

Charizard + Victreebel

victreebel

Perhaps the most obvious lead pairing, extremely boring but also extremely effective at getting Victreebel into its element. The most obvious way to play this is to double Protect on turn 1 while Mega Evolving Charizard, which not only gives me the Chlorophyll boost on Victreebel but also allows Victreebel to give the opponents an Encore, which is especially applicable if they opened with a Protect or Fake Out. The fun part about Encore is that if the opponent predicts my double Protect and goes for a Substitute or something, I can lock them into that as well, turning my opponents’ momentum against them.

Alternatively, if my opponent opened with two Pokémon both either slower than Victreebel or which posed no threat to it, sometimes directly attacking was the play to go for. Victreebel’s sheer damage output often caught opponents off-guard, unlike other inferior Chlorophyll users like Venusaur which catches no one at all off-guard because it’s usually too busy holding a Venusaurite to boost its damage output with a sensible item like a Life Orb.

Charizard + Landorus-T

landorus-therian

This was an extremely safe lead which I brought when I wasn’t confident of Victreebel’s potential damage output or its ability to get a meaningful Encore off. It was with a lead like this where I was really grateful for the Speed investment I had put into Charizard, since it gave Charizard more of an offensive presence on the field. Combined with Landorus-Therian’s similarly speedy build, this lead allowed me to pursue the simple course of putting damage onto opposing Pokémon quickly. This let me chip away at opponents so that Victreebel or Bisharp could come in later and clean up with a Chlorophyll boost or Sucker Punch’s priority respectively, but—perhaps more importantly—it also gave me the option of an anti-cheese lead to shut down a lot of dumb strategies which I expected to play both on the ladder and perhaps in the earlier rounds of the PC (as you’ll see later, the teams I faced at the PC were surprisingly legitimate).

Charizard + Bisharp

bisharp

I don’t know about you, but I’m seeing a trend here which may or may not explain Charizard’s 100% usage in the PC. This lead was my preferred lead against SemiRoom teams, which often didn’t have a dedicated support slot to help Trick Room get started; if they did, it was usually Amoonguss, which I managed to deter from even entering the field with the threat of a roasting from Charizard. Otherwise, a Flamethrower + Assurance onto the Trick Room setter easily removes them from the field. This was especially important to me because I wanted Bisharp to function as a stop to Trick Room, which was not always possible with Knock Off either because of the difference in power (120 is significantly higher than 97.5), or because I would end up using Knock Off after a prior attack had caused the target to consume its Sitrus Berry, dealing even less damage and giving me no hope of stopping Trick Room from going up.

The Tournament

And so, after working on the team on-and-off for about six months in total, I went into my 3rd PC of the 2016 season without any other good team in mind. Since I figured Worlds was something out of my grasp for now, I decided to bring this team and have a little fun with it. I spent a little bit of time hyping up Australian Weather online with a few of my friends, and proceeded to attend the tournament, expecting to miss cut at x-2 or x-3 as usual.

I’d talk a bit more about the tournament in general, but that would make this report really pretty long, and I wouldn’t want to write a 10,000-word report on a simple PC team. What I will say is that although a 33-man PC doesn’t seem like a huge deal, the PC coincided with the Anime Festival Asia here in Singapore, meaning that pretty much everyone who still showed up for the tournament was a pretty serious player.

Finally, before I launch into recounting the battles, I’d like to apologise in advance for everything that I’ve forgotten or left out. I never actually take notes at tournaments, since that has proven to not help me tremendously well in the past, making it somewhat of a waste of paper for me. Thus, everything in this report is based off my memory and the battle videos that I have access to.

Round 1

Round 1: Xavier Chua (finished 2-3, 23rd in Swiss)

jellicentmamoswine + charizard-yvenusaur / hitmontop???

I decided to go straight for my Sun mode, since Victreebel can take on Venusaur pretty much one-on-one. I bring Bisharp in the back to grab a Defiant boost from the possible Hitmontop and to priority the heck out of his team, and Landorus-Therian in case his Charizard proves too much for the rest of my team to handle. The game goes fairly smoothly as I manage to identify his Scarf Mamoswine early on, and a Heat Wave miss on my Victreebel simplifies matters as I win 4-0.

In a plot twist, however, I later found out that Xavier was not quite the random I had written him off to be! A little bit of digging online found that Xavier had qualified for numerous Worlds in the past, even reaching the top 16 in Worlds 2012!… in the Trading Card Game. Still an impressive feat, though; hope you show up more in the future, Xavier!

Overall record: 1-0

Round 2

Round 2: Yoko Taguma (finished 4-1, 6th in Swiss; top 4 overall)

infernapeporygon-z + salamence-mega.pnglapras / sylveonmetagross

The team looked a little weird, but I figured Victreebel could put a lot of damage into the team if it went unchecked, so the Sun lead just happened again; I bring Landorus-T in the back for sliding Rocks everywhere and also Politoed to give myself an alternate win condition through Perish Song. I lead Charizard and Victreebel into her Infernape and Porygon-Z, and double Protect on turn 1 to get the Sun up as she spits a Flare Blitz and a Hyper Beam into my Protects.

This is where a horrible, nasty idea crosses my mind. I switch out Charizard for Politoed and drop some BLUE MAGIC onto Yoko’s Infernape as her Porygon-Z fails to OHKO Politoed with a Hyper Beam. Some switching and manoeuvring ensues, but I manage to chip Salamence into the range of Victreebel’s Weather Ball and KO Porygon-Z with a Superpower while it recharges. Finally, Yoko’s Lapras fails to reveal Ice Shard, sealing up the game for me.

Overall record: 2-0

Round 3

Round 3: Gavin Thio (finished 4-1, 3rd in Swiss; top 8 overall)

milotickangaskhan-mega + landorus-theriansmeargle / talonflameclefable

Some confusion ensues this round as Soon pronounces my opponent’s name as ‘guh-vin’, causing me to ask people if they were named ‘guh-vin’. Eventually, I find that my opponent’s name is actually pronounced in the standard way, and get this battle underway.

Gavin’s team is absolutely terrifying, especially the possibility of a Talonflame / Smeargle lead, and I realise that my win condition against such a lead is to hope that his Smeargle’s Dark Void misses. I’m so confused and overwhelmed by the possible leads that I end up falling back on my usual Sun lead, with Bisharp and Landorus-Therian in the back. Thankfully, Gavin doesn’t actually bring Talonflame at all throughout the match, and he doesn’t even lead Smeargle, which is great news for me as I faces down a Kangaskhan / Milotic lead from Gavin. The game goes pretty much perfectly—I Encore Kangaskhan into Sucker Punch while setting up a Tailwind with Charizard, and switch Bisharp in on Milotic’s Icy Wind, bringing me to +2 while (thanks to the Tailwind) not rendering me slower than Kangaskhan.

Puzzlingly, on the next turn Gavin opts to use Icy Wind once again while I KO his Kangaskhan with Sucker Punch, bringing Bisharp to +4 Attack. He brings in Landorus-Therian to replace Kangaskhan, and—even more confusingly—conveys his surprise that +5 Bisharp’s Sucker Punch KOs Landorus. His last Pokémon turns out to be Smeargle, so I opt to target down Milotic, which was pretty much his last source of damage. Indeed, Smeargle does nothing much but put both my Pokémon to sleep and Transform into my switched-in Landorus-Therian, bringing my Bisharp to +6 for perhaps the first time in my Pokémon career as I wake from the Dark Void and nab the 4-0 with complete Assurance. Thankfully for Gavin, he must have played better than that the rest of the day to cut at 4-1.

Overall record: 3-0

Round 4

Round 4: Kenny Lee (finished 4-1, 4th in Swiss; 2nd overall)

cresseliakangaskhan-mega + amoongussheatran / suicunelandorus-therian

At this point I’m starting to think that I can maybe cut my first PC of the season, since I “just” have to win one of my next two matches to ensure cut. This makes me feel weirdly confident about this team… until I see that I next have to battle Kenny on stream. Kenny is one of those people who no one in Singapore really wants to battle, since he’s been extremely consistent in PCs he’s attended since the circuit opened here, even if he hasn’t done particularly well at Nationals or Worlds.

I’m somewhat encouraged as I look at Kenny’s team—Suicune is an easy target for Victreebel, as are Heatran, Amoonguss and Landorus-Therian if I can get the correct weathers up at the right times. I know his Kangaskhan runs Fake Out, so there’s potential for some surprise Encore plays here as well. I decide to open with my Sun lead for the fourth time in four battles, and in the back I bring Politoed for blue magic (and also Perish Song, since his team looks really bulky) and Bisharp for Sucker Punch in case his Suicune gets a Tailwind up or something.

He leads Cresselia / Kangaskhan, and only here do I remember something about his Cresselia having Trick Room. I decide to eschew the double Protect and go straight for a Flamethrower and Encore into the Kangaskhan slot. Happily, he goes for the Fake Out onto Charizard, letting me lock Kangaskhan into Fake Out as Trick Room goes up. Considering my options for the next turn, I realise that Kenny is probably going to switch his Kangaskhan into Heatran, since what else would you bring in against Sun? At this point, I go full tunnel vision on my plays, and decide to go for the Rain Weather Ball on the predicted Heatran switch-in. While it works—much to the delight of the audience—I lose my Victreebel in the process, losing me a ton of momentum as a couple of turns later, my Bisharp and Politoed are staring down a Kangaskhan and Amoonguss under Trick Room. After the promising start, the battle quickly spirals out of control, and I lose it outright 0-2.

After the match, Kenny remarks on how scary it is to get hit by a Rain Weather Ball, and in the exchange that follows, I happen to mention that my Charizard has Hidden Power Ground to deal with Heatran as well. Some time after I let this piece of information go, I realised that with Kenny at 4-0 and me at 3-1, there was a pretty good chance I would have to play him again in the top cut, and that I probably shouldn’t have told him that. But what’s said is said, and this piece of information actually came into play in our finals match.

Overall record: 3-1

Round 5

Round 5: Reuven Tan (finished 3-2, 8th in Swiss; Top 4 overall)

volcaronaliepard + azumarillthundurus / alakazam-megabreloom

Reuven’s team is actually pretty scary, especially if (as I thought at the time) you’re up against it in a cut-or-go-home(-or-spectate-if-you-don’t-want-to-be-perceived-as-antisocial) match. I decide that my Sun lead won’t be too great here, since double Protecting on Turn 1 to get the Chlorophyll boost for Victreebel would make me an easy target for Encore shenanigans, while not Protecting would let Volcarona outrun me and go for the KO on Victreebel. I decided in the end to go for the relatively safe lead of Charizard / Landorus-Therian, which would let me go for a Tailwind to outrun Volcarona at +1.

I choke straight from the get-go, hitting my forehead Gavin Michaels-style when I use Earthquake instead of Rock Slide while Reuven opts not to Protect Volcarona and not to Fake Out Landorus-Therian, instead stopping my Tailwind while I bring both Volcarona and Liepard down to about 60%. However, this is counterbalanced by Reuven’s play the next turn, as he assumes the Choice Scarf on Landorus-Therian and Protects his Volcarona, Foul Plays my Landorus also for about 60%, and falls to an Earthquake while I get a Tailwind up. He sends in his Azumarill, hoping to finish off Landorus. However, unboosted Azumarill’s Aqua Jet in the Sun is fairly weak, and he only manages to bring me down to the red while I go for the Earthquake + Flamethrower. A critical hit with Flamethrower onto Azumarill knocks it out, simplifying the game massively as I remove his Swagger-less Thundurus easily to nab a conclusive 4-0 in my last round of Swiss.

Overall record: 4-1, 2nd in Swiss

As it turns out, I was actually the 4-1 with the highest resistance, sitting at a pretty decent 68.00%, so even if I had lost the last round, I would still have cut as the 7th seed. However, it’s just as well that I did win the last round, since this puts me up against a team which I’m really happy to face:

Top 8

Top 8: Melvin Keh (finished 3-2, 7th in Swiss; Top 8 overall)

During Swiss round 3, Melvin went on stream, and I commented to a friend that my team pretty much hard counters his. With Rotom-Wash, Landorus-Therian and Terrakion to Leaf Storm, Aegislash and Amoonguss to Weather Ball, and Kangaskhan to lock into either Fake Out or Protect with Encore, I figured I would have a pretty good time this match. My goal here was to clean up the first game as fast as possible, so that I still had some tricks unrevealed for the second game.

Game 1

kangaskhan-megarotom-wash + terrakionaegislash / amoongusslandorus-therian

This game goes pretty much just as planned, as I lead with my Sun mode into his Kangaskhan / Rotom-Wash. After double Protecting to get the Sun up, I reveal the Encore early and lock Melvin’s Kangaskhan into Fake Out; the next turn, his Rotom-Wash uses Protect, and I manage to lock him into that too as he switches in his Terrakion to take Kangaskhan’s place. However, he Protects his Terrakion while switching Kangaskhan in, forcing me to bring Victreebel out of play for fear of a Fake Out.

Since I am facing up against a Terrakion and a Kangaskhan, I bring in Aegislash at this point. I get a Sacred Sword off on Melvin’s Terrakion, removing it from the game, and at this point, nothing left on his team can really stand up to a Bisharp + Charizard offensive, especially as it turns out that his Kangaskhan is slower than my Bisharp.

After Game 1, Melvin realises that he forgot to take notes on my Aegislash. He recalls seeing Flash Cannon, which is odd since I don’t even run it, but I’m not about to correct him. I feel bad about this for quite a while afterwards, but he seemed alright with it after I apologised to him after the match for being kind of a turd.

Game 2

kangaskhan-megaterrakion + rotom-washlandorus-therian / aegislashamoonguss

This game is a lot less straightforward. I figure he’s going to bring Terrakion + Kangaskhan, since that was the combination that gave me trouble in Game 1, but for some reason my brain doesn’t make the connection to an Aegislash lead, instead figuring that I can Encore something with Victreebel. oops.

I do get the Sun up again as usual, but I opt not to Encore Kangaskhan’s Fake Out, instead going for the Leaf Storm into Terrakion, bringing it down to its Focus Sash. Here, I avoid a Rock Slide from Terrakion, leaving me outside of Sucker Punch range, but Melvin makes a neat prediction on the next turn, removing Victreebel with a Return from Kangaskhan.

After a lot of Protect-and-pray “predictions” on my end, Terrakion goes down to a Sucker Punch, being replaced by Rotom-Wash. From here, I can safely bring back Charizard to remove Melvin’s slow Kangaskhan, which is replaced by Landorus-Therian, and a timely reveal of Wide Guard (perhaps aided by Melvin’s preconceptions about my Aegislash set) lets Charizard avoid a Rocky fate as I roast his Landorus-Therian. Specially defensive Aegislash saves the day as it takes a Hydro Pump from Rotom-Wash to return the favour with a Shadow Ball, netting me this match.

Top 4

Top 4: Yoko Taguma

While I have managed to progress to the Top 4, Yoko’s team is actually really scary for me, especially since I don’t think I’ll be able to repeat the Rain Weather Ball play, which is a shame, since that was one of my most reliable ways of dealing with Infernape. I think this speaks volumes about this team’s Infernape matchup.

Game 1

infernapeporygon-z + salamence-mega.pnglapras / sylveonmetagross

In the interlude between Top 8 and Top 4, I was tipped off by Gavin that Yoko’s Infernape doesn’t run Feint, since he Transformed into it with his Smeargle in their Top 8 match. Therefore, I feel a lot more confident opening the match with a double Protect, getting the Sun up as Yoko repeats her Swiss moves, shooting a Flare Blitz and Hyper Beam into my Protects. Since I didn’t even bring Politoed this match, the best I can do is to Leaf Storm into Porygon-Z and get a Tailwind up. This works marvellously; Porygon-Z goes down and I get some tasty speed control on the field.

I double Protect again, hoping that Yoko will go for a Fake Out which I can Encore. She does, and the threat of Encore forces her Infernape off the field again, letting me get some free chip damage onto both Salamence and her Lapras switchin. Although Yoko does manage to stall out my Tailwind eventually, I pivot around my Aegislash in the back to get Charizard in the correct position for a second Tailwind, which I’m confident has sealed up the game for me… until Yoko’s Lapras reveals Perish Song. Thankfully, a helpful burn on her Lapras means I don’t have to rely on Rock Slide hitting both opponents to win the game within the three-turn limit.

Game 2

infernapesalamence-mega.png + laprasporygon-z / sylveonmetagross

As is (unsurprisingly) the trend with all my top cut matches, Game 2 goes much less smoothly than Game 1. Between matches, I notice that her leading with Infernape / Salamence would put a lot of pressure on my typical Sun lead, so I switch it up and go for a Landorus / Charizard lead, with Victreebel in the back alongside Bisharp, since priority is always useful and Aegislash did nothing last game except get OHKOd by a Sun-boosted Flare Blitz.

She leads as I expected, but an early double target into my Landorus-Therian knocks it out and puts my team under a lot of stress, while Charizard Protecting that turn means that I got nothing done at all. Matters get worse the next turn, as Salamence’s Double-Edge gets a critical hit onto my Charizard, knocking it out before I can remove Yoko’s Infernape with Hidden Power Ground. Infernape’s Close Combat brings Bisharp down to its Focus Sash, and as I switch in Victreebel I’m mentally preparing for Game 3.

However, I notice a way out—Yoko’s Salamence and Infernape are within KO range of either a Sucker Punch or a Weather Ball, especially since Infernape’s defenses have been lowered. Yoko switches her Infernape into Lapras, which is promptly KOd by a Leaf Storm, and the next turn, I double Protect on her Infernape’s Fake Out. For some reason, Yoko stays in with both her Pokémon, allowing her Infernape to be locked into Fake Out and her Salamence to finally be KOd by Sucker Punch after a lot of Protecting. She reveals that her last Pokémon is her Choice Scarf Porygon-Z, sealing up the game for me as I remove it with a Leaf Storm + Sucker Punch while Yoko’s Infernape sits harmlessly on the field and is later removed easily.

A lot went on in that battle, and I’m aware that my description of it probably seems extremely jumbled to most readers, but I guess that’s what happens when you try to compress 9 turns of thought process into 3 paragraphs, so I’ve uploaded the Battle Video of this game, which you can peruse in your free time: RYKG-WWWW-WW36-N98W. Sorry about that.

Finals

Finals: Kenny Lee

Game 1

cresselialandorus-therian + amoongusskangaskhan-mega / heatransuicune

Game 2

cresseliakangaskhan-mega + amoongussheatran / suicunelandorus-therian

Thanks to the efforts of Zong Ying and his amazing stream setup, you can watch both games and the post-match interview, so I’d just like to recount a few turns that I thought were kind of important.

Game 1, Team Preview
Since Rain Weather Ball didn’t go so well in my Swiss match, I decided to leave Politoed on the bench. I also figured that I would really like to stop Trick Room from going up, so I lead with my Aegislash and Landorus-Therian to deter Cresselia from staying in.

Game 1, Turn 4 Go to turn
Welp, I have done something like zero damage and I’m in a pretty bad position. I realise that by revealing Shadow Ball and Sacred Sword, Kenny probably assumes that I’m not running Wide Guard, giving Charizard an opportunity to remove Kangaskhan under protection from Wide Guard.

Game 1, Turn 5 Go to turn
I don’t actually mind if I don’t get the King’s Shield this turn, I just want to get Aegislash into Shield Forme so that even if Landorus hits me with the Earthquake or Knock Off, all it’ll do is activate my Weakness Policy.

Game 1, Turn 6 Go to turn
I was fairly sure that Kenny would go for a Trick Room + Rock Slide play. I’m not sure exactly why I thought that. Something something Amoonguss. I kind of cried inside when Charizard went down.

Game 1, Turn 7 Go to turn
Does Kenny’s Amoonguss even run Rage Powder? I thought it did, but up until now I still don’t know. rip. I win anyway, I guess!

Game 2, Team Preview
At this point I’m fairly confident Kenny won’t try going for the Trick Room mode any more, since it sure didn’t work for him last game, so I bring my favourite Sun lead, plus Landorus-Therian for general Intimdate and Rock Slide utility and Aegislash, just in case he does try to go for Trick Room with Cresselia.

Game 2, Turn 1 Go to turn
I don’t double Protect because I’m confident Kenny will go for the Fake Out + Tailwind play, so I decide to go for a win-win scenario: either Kangaskhan Fakes Out Victreebel and I get my Tailwind up to match his, or Kangaskhan Fakes Out Charizard and I get a Leaf Storm into Suicune, which will almost definitely net me the KO if it hits. Unfortunately Kenny outplays me, and I lose my Victreebel, though I do get a Tailwind up.

Game 2, Turn 2 Go to turn
I overestimate the damage output of my Landorus here, but I get bailed out by a timely critical hit on Kangaskhan which I’m fairly sure was necessary. I’d also like to mention that I found it pretty funny that the commentators assumed I had Solar Beam all along, and mentioned it every single turn.

Game 2, Turn 3 Go to turn
I actually didn’t know that Kenny’s Amoonguss doesn’t run Protect until the commentators mentioned it. But I had locked in my moves by then, I swear! 😡

Game 2, Turn 6 Go to turn
I was about to go for the King’s Shield + Tailwind when I realised I had used Wide Guard last turn. I just had to pray that Scald didn’t knock out Aegislash, but as it turns out, me randomly choosing specially defensive Aegislash during the teambuilding process saves me from having to endure a Game 3 as I take the win.

As the lovely commentators Matthew and Wai Yin mentioned multiple times throughout the match and interview, Kenny didn’t bring Heatran. Interestingly enough, at the start of the match, during Team Preview, I saw him note down that my Charizard ran Hidden Power Ground, which is perhaps what scared him away from bringing his Heatran to the match, which would have given me a lot more trouble than, say, Amoonguss. In the end, maybe it was my conversational slip-up that won me this tournament! We’ll never know.

Conclusion

I won! That was pretty unexpected. I’m still not really going to take this season all that seriously—even if I do somehow qualify for Worlds I’ll be too busy with preparing for a major exam to participate—but it’s nice to know I can still win things now and then! More than anything, this tournament was a pretty neat boost for my morale. Plus, I got a free plushie! Can’t complain about that.

  • My (unnamed) Smogon friends for coming down literally just to watch me play! Seriously guys you should play sometime ugh
  • Luke (Dog-For-Dinner) for trying in vain to persuade me to use a real team. Well, “real” as far as Australian teams go.
  • Ian (raikoo) for supplying all the Pokémon for the team with just a few days’ notice. Couldn’t have done it without you, quite literally!
  • Zong Ying (tanzying) for laughing at my team during the Team Check and then finally admitting it wasn’t that bad.
  • Matthew (Spiritshipper) for putting up with me talking nonsense throughout the interview. Sorry for rolling my eyes as well as the mental dice.
  • Aaron (Cybertron) for agreeing to feature this team on his Road to Ranked series! I look forward to being accused of stealing “Cybertron Sun”.
  • And you, the reader, for staying with me through over 7000 words and many walls of text, most of which was written with half of my brain across many midnights! Sorry about that. Hope it wasn’t absolutely terrible.

[This article was first published on the AusTerrain blog on 05 Dec 2015.]

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