Hai, my name is Justin Lok and this is my report on Australia Nationals 2015 at Melbourne. I was part of a small contingent from Singapore, attempting to compete for Championship Points (CPs). Honestly though, the reasons why I joined in on the journey were two-fold. One, most of the people going were people who I considered close friends, at the very least, friends that I was excited to go on an overseas trip with. Secondly, the competitive Pokemon scene in Singapore has been especially brutal. Since the player pool is smaller, the chances of being faced with stronger players are much higher. On top of that, said players are more often than not my friends, who are able to read my playstyle and consistently out-predict me. As a result, I have always considered myself a below-average player, and this trip was a trial by fire for me. Am I really unable to excel because of being surrounded by all the stronger players, or was I just inadequate as a player?
The result? I ended up 6-3, out of 9 gruelling best-of-three swiss rounds, placing #49 out of 321 masters. Although it would have been much better if I had placed higher, I personally felt pretty okay with the results.
By all means, I am not a fantastic player nor a good team builder, because I tend to favour the gimmicky side of Pokemon. After ripping teams but not being able to replicate their success, I decided I had to try and craft a team that I would be comfortable with playing. I had felt the most comfortable playing Kanga-Smear in previous tournaments, hence I felt that I should play a team that forces the opponent to react to me. After numerous outings and sessions with friends, where they consistently talked about how a team has to be able to handle Rain teams since they were a strong autopilot mode in swiss tournaments, I decided why not give it a shot? It definitely had merit, snagging me a top 8 in Singapore Regionals (falling 2-0 to Kenny in the first round of Top 8) prior to Aussie Nats.
I suffer from what is known as Pokemon inertia; I tend to NOT switch and so, I don’t see the value of defensive synergy and often forgo that in favour of piling on more offensive pressure. When asked by my good friend Matthew about which Pokemon I was going to switch in to take damage, this is my response.
Without further ado,
Ludicolo @ Assault Vest [Ludiculo]
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 150 Spe
– Fake Out
– Giga Drain
– Ice Beam
For the longest time, I used to run 252 HP /252 SpA / 4 Spe until Matthew slapped me and pointed out that with that, I couldn’t outspeed Scarf Landorus under rain and so I adjusted the EVs to do just that.
A case could be made for Hydro Pump instead of Scald, but the combination of Hydro Pump’s inaccuracy and Scald’s juicy chance to burn made me stick with Scald. That said, I do believe there is merit to Hydro Pump’s power as there are many times where I am disappointed by Scald’s lacklustre damage output, even under rain.
While I do frequently use the infamous Poli-Ludi lead to try and pave the way for my back 2 to clean up, this made Ludicolo an easy target for my opponents to chip down and take out. What they tended to do was bring their Ludicolo counters early on, while hiding their Rotom-Ws and Scarf Landorus until the coast is clear. As such, I found myself putting the duo at the back as well, where they function pretty well as clean up sweepers themselves.
Politoed @ Damp Rock
EVs: 252 HP / 100 SpA / 156 SpD
– Helping Hand
– Ice Beam
The significant other to the notorious duo, Politoed is the only other Pokemon to have stayed around consistently through the team building process. The EVs allow it to take a Thunderbolt from LO Thundurus, Zapdos and Rotom-W (along with other things I don’t remember), and I dumped the rest into Special Attack to increase its damage output.
The item is an interesting choice. A Choice Scarf would be a more standard option and allow me to put on even more offensive pressure, but since I disliked switching, I concluded that locking myself into a single move would not be productive, would make me more vulnerable to my opponent’s switches, and generally give too much free momentum. The next logical option would be the Sitrus Berry, but I felt that was wasted on Politoed; I did not expect to survive more than 1 hit, regardless of the Sitrus. Damp Rock helped me alleviate the problem of players stalling out my rain, thus giving me more confidence to lead Poli-Ludi. It could also mess with my opponent’s mind, who would logically expect the first two items mentioned and play accordingly.
Scald, Protect and Helping Hand were all fairly obvious choices for me. Scald was the STAB with burn chance. Protect and Helping Hand fit my style of inertia play, with the former allowing it to stay on the field and the latter giving it an option to actually do something before going down. The last move was a headache though. I had used Icy Wind before, but found it lacklustre damage-wise and I didn’t really like Icy Wind as a method of speed control. Rain Dance made for some daring plays where I would Rain Dance on a predicted Tyranitar switch, but generally was too niche and without the scarf, I would be too slow to stop a Drought from a lead Mega Charizard Y. In the end, I settled on Ice Beam for coverage, in case they ignored my Politoed. This also gave me a chance at OHKO-ing Amoonguss with double Ice Beams from Poli-Ludi (especially since Amoonguss tended to be more physically bulky to take on Mega Kangaskhan). At the very least, I would force the mushroom to retreat or protect, making the following turn more manageable. I didn’t mind Politoed being Spored by Amoonguss either; a sleeping Politoed is a sitting duck my opponent will be more likely to target. That opens up for Ludicolo to do more damage and potentially a free switch in if Politoed does go down.
Sylveon @ Pixie Plate [Contract]
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 Spe
– Hyper Voice
– Hyper Beam
– Helping Hand
The EVs are nothing special, so let’s move on to the item choice. Originally, this was a Choice Specs Sylveon and I primarily used it as a means to inflict strong chip damage on my opponent’s team before sending in my other sweepers to clean up. The main disadvantage I found to this was the same reason as why I chose not to Scarf my Politoed. It gave too much momentum to my opponent if I had to switch out Sylveon and the results are usually not good for whoever is coming in in the fairy’s place. Life Orb was already taken by another member on the team, and I didn’t like the recoil on Sylveon anyway (compromises its strong special bulk), so I put Pixie Plate on it and called it a day.
In a similar fashion to Politoed, Hyper Voice was the obligatory STAB (importantly, this was the only spread move in my entire team), Protect helps Sylveon stay on the field (in particular, my opponents tend to think Sylveon is holding on to Choice Specs before I reveal this so it helps with the mind games as well) and Helping Hand boosts an ally’s attack before going down. I did not have much trouble deciding on the last move, going with Hyper Beam to potentially take out a slow but bulky threat.
Also, Helping Hand (from Politoed) + Hyper Beam is beautiful.
Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite [Overkill]
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Low Kick
– Sucker Punch
After experimenting with and being disappointed by Mega Metagross, I defaulted back to Kangaskhan. I had my misgivings about running max speed since I was used to the power that an Adamant nature brought. It does have its advantages however. I do get the jump on virtually every Mega Charizard Y and can take it out with Double-Edge if it doesn’t Protect. And if I ever find Double-Edge’s power insufficient, I can boost it with Helping Hand. I have taken out Zapdos and Rotom-Ws in this way, outspeeding and KO-ing even through Sitrus Berry.
Aside from Double-Edge, Low Kick was there for Heatran, Terrakion (which I could only take out if it chooses not to target me), Bisharp and opposing Kangaskhans. Sucker Punch was non-negotiable as a priority move. Instead of Fake Out, I opted to run Protect instead, reasoning that my Ludicolo already has the Fake Out and I found it more valuable to have Protect so I didn’t feel pressured to switch out. Mega Kangaskhan is perceived as a huge threat, and Protect has contributed to keeping my Kangaskhan from going down too fast.
Talonflame @ Life Orb [Valour]
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP/ 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Brave Bird
– Flare Blitz
– Quick Guard
I desperately needed something to take out Amoonguss and Venusaur (Mega or otherwise) that like to come in on my Rain mode. Talonflame helped to accomplish that as well as provide reliable priority to clean up at the end of games.
Life Orb is there to maximise damage without compromising my ability to Protect. In previously iterations of this team, I had Sky Plate as the item to bluff the Choice Band on Talonflame, but I would sometimes miss out on crucial KOs.
The moves are standard fare. Originally, Quick Guard was replaced by Tailwind, but ever since the transition from bulky Kangaskhan to fast Kangaskhan, Tailwind felt redundant. Quick Guard is still rarely pressed though, it messing with Protect turns is annoying to deal with.
Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry [I Get Norse]
EVs: 236 HP / 104 Def / 60 SpA / 108 Spe
– Hidden Power [Ice]
– Thunder Wave
The last and least-used member of my team, Thundurus was put in as a switch in for Ludicolo from incoming enemy Brave Birds. I eventually decided to keep it around because of Prankster Taunt and Thunder Wave. Taunt helps to threaten dedicated Trick Room users as well as Spore users (Amoonguss and Breloom) and Thunder Wave helps ease my match up against sashed Terrakion and can, in a pinch, help me win through a full paralysis. Thunderbolt is for the obligatory STAB and Hidden Power Ice so that I don’t get completely walled by ground types.
This EV spread is not original, and it survives fully invested Adamant Mega Kangaskhan’s Double Edge with Sitrus Berry 100% of the time (Thanks Level 51!). I particularly like this spread because it can still do a decent amount of damage.
Australia Nationals 2015
The following are re-constructions based on my notes and poor memory. I apologise for the lack of details and any wrong recollections. ><
Round 1: Anthony Marding
The first thing that I thought to myself was “Which is holding the sash? Serperior or Terrakion?”
Terrakion was the much bigger threat, since Close Combat would do a lot of damage to a lot of my team members. I only remember managing to pin down and get rid of Terrakion, which revealed the sash, and it came down to just a +2 Serperior against my damaged (60% – 70%?) Ludicolo. I was terribly afraid that a Leaf Storm would seal the game for him, but he goes for the Dragon Pulse instead, which fails to KO my Ludicolo. After consulting with Matthew, I concluded that he didn’t want to risk the miss chance on Leaf Storm. If he had gone for that play and hit with Leaf Storm, I doubt I would have won the first game. 1-0
I bring my usual rain lead, but this time he reveals Tailwind on Tornadus to even the speed and even shows the Mega Swampert, to take advantage of the rain I set up. Despite that, I pick off his team members until I close out the game with Ludicolo against his Mega Swampert. 2-0
Round 2: Joshua Carter
A very interesting mirror match. Despite that, I just led Politoed and Ludicolo, with him leading Kanga and Ludicolo. I remember noting down that his Ludicolo consistently outsped mine, suggesting max speed investment. I chip down and KO his Mega Kang, and I lose my Politoed but subsequently dismantle his Politoed and Landorus, and I close out with Sylveon and Ludicolo ganging up on his lone pineapple. I noted that his Kangaskhan carried Power-up Punch and Sucker Punch. 1-0
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it right? I lead with Politoed and Ludicolo again. He does switch it up, bringing Ludicolo with Kanga. Once again, I focus his Kangaskhan and work leaving his Ludicolo alone as end game. He recognizes the threat from my Ludicolo and tries to take it out, but my Ludicolo takes the hits like a champ, and I end the game with Talonflame sniping his Ludicolo.
On hindsight, Amoonguss would have caused me a lot of problems, and I could easily close out the games because he didn’t bring it. 2-0
Round 3: Matthew Jiwa
This is one of the more difficult match-ups since he has Trick Room and Amoonguss, which really neuter the advantage that rain brings me.
The match was really intense and it came down to my un-intimidated Talonflame against a chipped Scrafty that had taken a Scald in rain earlier (no burn *sob*). I was confident that the game was in the bag, and was looking at my notes to try and prepare for game 2. When I looked up, Scrafty was still alive in the red. I barely had time to be surprised when Stone Edge from his Scrafty connects and wins the game. 0-1
I’ll be perfectly honest. I was still shaken up by his Scrafty surviving a LO Brave Bird. The details are blurry, all I recall is not bringing Politoed, him managing to get up Trick Room up, KO-ing his Mega Gardy but still falling to Heatran. 0-2
Round 4: Daniel Walker
Urgh, the same team archetype I fought against and lost to in the previous round… And seeing Scrafty again brings shivers down my spine.
I double Ice Beam with Poli and Ludi and freeze his Amoonguss. His Thundurus goes for the Life Orb Thunderbolt, almost taking out my Politoed. From there, I seize the momentum and seal game 1. 1-0
The hax from the previous round is obviously affecting him, and I do manage to close out the game. I feel bad that the hax from the previous round affected him so much and I apologised profusely afterwards. 2-0
Round 5: Skyler Guo
This was not the match-up I had in mind. Fighting a fellow Singaporean in Australia Nationals felt wasted to me. Furthermore, I do not have a good track record against Skyler and we had sparred beforehand so he knew the important fact that my Kanga can outspeed and KO his Char Y, and I cannot lead Poli-Ludi since if he leads with Char, he will get the advantage in the weather war that I must win.
Leading Politoed and Kangaskhan, I take out his Charizard Y on the first turn with Double-Edge from Mega Kanga. Although he does get sun up, it’s a simple matter of switching out Politoed and bringing it in again. 1-0
This was a much more back and forth game, with weather rapidly changing. Eventually, I get worn down by Aegislash while trying to deal with threats like his AV Conkeldurr, and Skyler evens the score. 1-1
Skyler just completely destroyed me in this game. Aegislash staying in blade forme and attacking played a lot of tricks on my mind. What really mattered however was revealing the Roost on Zapdos (which I had not discovered at all despite all the matches we had), which pushed all the trades we had made so far in his favour. Good game Skyler! >< 1-2
Round 6: Jeremy
I was immediately fascinated by the Doublade. Kit Meng had used it before in a couple of multis matches so I knew the bulk of the twin swords was not to be underestimated. Noting the Slowbro and Abomasnow, I guess at the Trick Room setup.
The first turn, I went for the KO on his Slowbro with a Thunderbolt from Thundurus and take it straight out. I knew from using Slowbro before that it had Oblivious and Taunting it would be useless (he might also predict the taunt and just attack instead). In the end, I corner his Mega Abomasnow with Mega Kangaskhan and Sylveon. He does take down my Sylveon with Ice Shard before going down though. 1-0
My internal discussion on whether Slowbro was a possible mega came to an end here when I burn his Slowbro on a switch in with Scald and he consumes his Lum Berry. His Doublade does make an appearance here and I get to see the full movepool (Wide Guard, Sacred Sword, Shadow Sneak and Rock Slide). He doesn’t go for Trick Room in this game, making this a much easier match than it could have been. 2-0
Round 7: Meaghan Rattle
Definitely the most challenging and intense set of matches that I fought. Amoonguss and Venusaur (a possible Mega as well) meant that Talonflame was going into battle. Details are foggy, but I recall my Kanga outspeeding her Terrakion and KO-ing it with Low Kick through the Sash. I played for the endgame where I would leave the Mega Venusaur for last and finish it off with Talonflame. It worked out better than expected, and I was able to beat down Mega Venusaur with my burnt Mega Kangaskhan’s Double-Edge and then bring in Talonflame for the cleanup KO. 1-0
I went into this match with the same mindset: isolate Mega Venusaur and bring in Talonflame for the checkmate. This time, however, she brought in Amoonguss. From my dedicated rain lead of Poli and Ludi, I had several options.
- Fake Out and Ice Beam / Scald (hope for burn)
- Double Scald to maximise chances of burn
- Double Ice Beam to inflict as much damage as possible.
I went for the 3rd option into Amoonguss, since I will do piddling amounts of damage to Mega Venusaur with its Thick Fat Ability. I do not get the KO however, and Politoed is sent to sleep via Spore from the mushroom. In the end, I did manage to achieve the end game that I had hoped for. The situation was quite straightforward, my Talonflame at about 60% against her full health Mega Venusaur. I went in for the Brave Bird… and failed to KO, doing only about 60 to 65%. Thanks to recoil from Brave Bird and Life Orb, that brings me into KO range for Sludge Bomb.
I was lured into a false sense of security because in the first game, I did not Brave Bird into an untouched Mega Venusaur and I incorrectly assumed that it would be easy pickings for my falcon. At this point, my opponent requested a quick water break which I happily obliged to. I had to find a way to break the wall that was Mega Venusaur. 1-1
At this point, I knew my opponent was adjusting well to my endgame, so I decided to bring in Sylveon. I had not used Sylveon in the past 2 games, because I was deterred by the Venusaur and Amoonguss. Upon closer inspection, I realised she had no physical steel type to threaten the KO. After a lot of back and forth, it came down to Sylveon at 30% and Talonflame in the red against a lone Mega Venusaur that was at full health. She had seen the Protect on my Sylveon, removing the possibility of Choice Specs and from prior matches, knew that Talonflame was holding Life Orb, and at this range, would KO itself from recoil.
Sylveon used Helping Hand, Talonflame netted a clean KO on Mega Venusaur and that was the end of that. 2-1
Round 8: Billy
Trevenant was an interesting choice on his team and seeing the Mega Charizard Y, I recognized that this was a Harvest Trevenant. I definitely wanted to bring in Sylveon since all I had to do was get rid of the Excadrill and it would be able to inflict a lot of damage. I also had to try to win the weather war and watch out for Encores from Raichu as well. Mid-game, I managed to bait an Excadrill Iron Head into a Sylveon protect (noting that it outsped my jolly Mega Kangaskhan and was therefore Scarfed), and from there, pressed home the advantage. 1-0
Billy had used Trevenant in the first round, but it was rather lacklustre in its performance. This was definitely not the case in game 2. The tree was the MVP of his team, setting up Trick Room, surviving Brave Bird, burning Sylveon and Kangaskhan. I was also impressed when he pulled off Phantom Force on the last turn of Trick Room, meaning he dodged attacks for 2 turns. It came down to trying to break Trevenant with a lone Sylveon, but I was already put on a timer from the burn and he stalled me out, protecting and recovering health via Harvest, to even the score. 1-1
Despite the setback, I knew my out to Trevenant, drawing from my experience from the Mega Venusaur match. This time, he brought Sylveon and I struggled to adapt with its Life Orb. I don’t remember how I adjusted, but I did and went for Helping Hand + Brave Bird for the confirmed KO on the Trevenant. 2-1
Round 9: Nihal Noor
My match-up against sand was not that great. I had previously teched in rain dance on Politoed (to allow me to lead Poli-Ludi and rain dance if I predict a Tyranitar switch in, since I expect Tyranitar to carry Scarf and try to remove my rain that way) but since I had removed it in favour of Ice Beam, maintaining the weather was much harder.
It boiled down to my Thundurus in KO range of his Hyper Voice Mega Salamence. Noticing his Mega was at critically low health after I used Hidden Power Ice, I go for the Thunder Wave… which paid off. Mega Salamence was unable to move, and faints to sandstorm damage. 1-0
I decided that Thundurus would be of use, especially since he had brought Amoonguss in the previous game. However, things turned for the worse when I felt it would be safe to ignore the Mega Salamence, thinking if he didn’t protect I could still sponge a Hyper Voice quite comfortably. Nihal went for the Double-Edge into my Ludicolo for the KO, and my team just fell apart from there. I just could not keep up the damage trade with him. 1-1
[Editor’s Note: Team SG REALLY should have spent more time preparing for the sand match-up. Also Justin should have watched more Road to Ranked instead of planning his own Road to Rekt.]
I do not recall many details from this game. I did manage to KO his Tyranitar and Aegislash before falling to his Amoonguss and Mega Salamence. I wish I could remember more details to do this round justice. It was definitely a match where Nihal had a very commanding lead and I was forced to play catch up, which was difficult. He outplayed me in this match, simple as that. 1-2
6-3, #49 position
Australian Nationals was definitely a fresh experience and although I didn’t go as high as I hoped even at my best, I was satisfied with the results. The rest of the group didn’t do too bad either. It was very heartening to know that all of us were at least 6-3, even despite the several pairings against our own travel buddies. Overall, it was most certainly an enjoyable experience.