Martin Tan – Cup your ears, Hyper Voicing to deafness: Singapore Nationals Top 32

July 17th, 2015 | Posted by Martin Tan in Team Reports

Greetings from the warm island of Singapore!

My name is Martin Tan, and I’ve been playing Pokemon competitively from Gen 4. However I first started out in the 6v6 Singles format (which is largely based on Smogon rules). One fine day I was being introduced to this format by a friend, and I’ve been hooked ever since. With the advent of revamped breeding and IV passing mechanics in Pokemon X and Y, I was given the motivation and kick-start for my VGC journey!

Compared to the previous year, the VGC’15 format certainly allows more creativity, but with a touch of the VGC’13 format (the genies and 3 musketeers being metagame defining Pokemon, among other similarities). Following the re-introduction of move tutors in ORAS, it certainly opens up more team-building options and move sets. I was very excited to embark on this season’s format and immediately started building my team based on my favourite mega, Mega Salamence. I told myself, for this season I’m never going to use Mega Kangaskhan, as I really hate it. :X

That aside, Mega Salamence is certainly a powerhouse in its own right within the current metagame (but has yet to establish much of a foothold in Singapore’s metagame, which is still dominated by Mega Kangaskhan)

Sylveon was also my favourite Pokemon (I just find it cute) after the release of Pokemon X and Y, even before taking into consideration the fact that it is powerful with its devastating Hyper Voice, which was finally made available legally this year. Hence I decided to include these two in my team.

Of course, team-building involves a lot of experimentation, testing, and referencing other spreads and moves. I’ve tested many variants throughout the season and this core has evolved slowly to the one that I used for Nationals as the late-season metagame progressed. I’m very happy with the variant that I used in the 1st ever Singapore VGC National Championships and without further ado, let’s get on to the detailed team members!

Teambuilding Process

As mentioned earlier, I really liked Mega Salamence and Sylveon (apart from their great utility and damage dealing prowess). Hence I wanted to make a team that could make these 2 work together seamlessly. Drawing ideas from the fantasy core (Fairy, Steel, Dragon) that became popular in VGC’14, I decided to find a Steel type that would fit the current metagame. I’ve tried Heatran as the Fire/Steel typing acts as a deterrent and excellent check to Sylveon, but its Speed was not to my liking and playstyle. Hence I decided to opt for Aegislash, which can act as a check not only to Sylveon, but to bulky Cresselia, and other Aegislash as well!

I needed an effective check to Mega Kangaskhan, which was my most hated Mega. I didn’t have to look too far, as Terrakion was an easy choice and the Rock Slide flinch chance was not something I wanted to pass up.

The speed control options that I considered were either Tailwind or Thunder Wave. I opted for Thunder Wave in the end as it was more permanent and less prone to being out-stalled. Barring the fact that certain fast Pokemon like Choice Scarf Landorus-T can’t be paralysed, the majority of the metagame can be slowed down by it. But relying just on Thunder Wave was a risky choice and certainly this would be a gap that I would have to plug in future teambuilding.

Lastly, I wanted to improve my matchup against bulky waters, and have a Pokemon to exert Fake Out pressure so that Sylveon can shout to her heart’s content with her Hyper Voice. Hence I added Ludicolo, which I’ve tested with positive results. I can even make use of Ludicolo to improve my matchup against the Rain meisters (Politeod and Ludicolo)


The finalised team for Nationals

Sylveon @ Choice Specs
Ability: Pixilate
EVs: 98 HP / 116 Def / 252 SpA / 48 Spe
Modest Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Psyshock
– Shadow Ball
– Hyper Beam

The main engine for this team, I really liked the damage output provided by this fairy cat’s loud Hyper Voice (I regard it as a cat). The EVs are credited to Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng (Cybertron) from his Sylveon analysis. Although I have to admit that surviving Jolly Return from Mega Kangaskhan is no longer the relevant benchmark, this EV spread provides maximum damage output yet respectable bulk. I’m quite happy with it and decided to stick to it. 48 Speed is mainly to outspeed other rival Sylveon which might not have speed investment.

Hyper Beam is a clutch move as it can catch opponents off guard in certain instances, with its Choice Specs boosted damage. It can even OHKO Assault Vest Landorus-Therian (I’ll be putting up a video of Swiss Round 4 Game 3 to illustrate this). Whenever I needed such a KO, she’s there to do it, and does it superbly.

Salamence @ Salemencite
Ability: Intimidate -> Aerilate
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Naive Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Earthquake
– Double-Edge
– Protect

Oh, the magnificent Salamence, but those croissant wings…  just weird. Nevertheless it’s still my favourite mega despite such a weird design. I chose a Naïve nature as the metagame evolved over time. I figured that in as fast paced a metagame as in Singapore, I wouldn’t have many opportunities to set up a Dragon Dance. I maxed Attack and Speed to maximize the damage output from Double-Edge. The EV spread is pretty cookie cutter as I didn’t find the need to optimize further by increasing bulk at the expense of getting outsped or missing a KO.

During playtesting, I was deciding between Fire Blast to hit Steels like Aegislash (getting around its Wide Guard) hard or Earthquake to hit the very same along with Heatran. However, since my EVs were not invested in Special Attack, I found the damage output of Fire Blast was not to my liking at all (less than 50% damage dealt to most 252 HP invested Steels). Hence after much consideration, I decided to stick with Earthquake.

Ludicolo @ Assault Vest
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 108 HP / 252 SpA / 148 Spe
Modest Nature
– Scald
– Ice Beam
– Giga Drain
– Fake Out

Primarily, Ludicolo’s role was to exert Fake Out pressure and allow Sylveon to shout to her heart’s content (leading with Ludicolo/Sylveon or Ludicolo/Terrakion), or to break potential Focus Sashes. It also improves my Rain matchup should they decide to deploy weather against me. It is also my answer apart from Thundurus-I against bulky waters (Suicune, Gastrodon). While it saw very little action during the Nationals, it certainly served its function whenever I needed it.

The EV spread is credited to rapha (rapha) (Read: No Substitute for Rain in the Northwest: 9th Place Oregon Regional Report). The Speed investment allows it to outspeed Choice Scarf Landorus-Therian under rain or Tailwind and I agreed with his philosophy of maxing out Special Attack to nab important KOs whenever I needed them.

Terrakion @ Focus Sash
Ability: Justified
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Close Combat
– Rock Slide
– Quick Guard
– Protect

Standard Terrakion spread. Nothing much to mention about the EVs. Primarily this is to address Flying types (Thundurus, Mega Charizard Y), as well as my most hated mega, Mega Kangaskhan. Fishing for Rock Slide flinches is also part of my strategy when the going gets tough, but I try to play in such a way whereby I minimized the chances of relying on it for a win condition.

Quick Guard saved me so many times, and allows me to negate Fake Outs (except those that have faster Fake Outs like Weavile) which when partnered with Sylveon allows her to launch Hyper Voices early in the game, dealing massive damage as quickly as possible before she goes down.

Focus Sash as the item allows me to negate the consequences of losing a speed tie with opposing Terrakions as I can strike back with a Close Combat after tanking 1 Close Combat. At the same time, it can catch most opponents off guard as most of them expect Lum Berry instead, only to find themselves taking damage after Terrakion survives a would-be OHKO attack.

Thundurus-I @ Sitrus Berry
Ability:Prankster
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Def / 128 SpD / 28 Spe
Calm Nature
– Thunder Wave
– Thunderbolt
– Taunt
– Hidden Power [Ice]

My only means of speed control in this team, which ended up having a heavy reliance on Prankster Thunder Waves. Paralysis is in my opinion the most reliable means of speed control. Whenever I need such speed control, it does its job really well. Taunt is there to stop all the Sporing, Dark Voids and other status inducing strategies. It also helps against Aegislash when I Taunt it to prevent it from King Shielding, often forcing it to switch out. This helps me to gain momentum in certain situations as well.

Hidden Power [Ice] is mainly to address my matchup against opposing Landorus-Therians and Salamences.

The EV spread is credit to Kelly (KellsterCartier) (Read: Shaping the Metagross: A 2015 European VGC Regionals Runner Up Report), as the bulk is important for it to have an impact during its time on the battlefield. It could tank a 252 Atk Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge with Sitrus Berry recovery for example, which attests to its significant bulk. I chose a Calm nature in order to better absorb Ice Beams, Thunderbolts and the like.

Aegislash @ Life Orb
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 248 HP / 252 SpA / 8 SpD
IVs: 2 Speed
Quiet Nature
– King’s Shield
– Wide Guard
– Shadow Ball
– Flash Cannon

Aegislash completes the fantasy core with its Steel typing. The reason I chose a simple spread for its EVs is to maximize damage output and nabbing important KOs. The idea of Life Orb Aegislash came from Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng (Cybertron).

Wide Guard is there to negate Rock Slide flinch machines like Landorus-Therians and Terrakions and other spread moves like opposing Sylveon Hyper Voices. Shadow Ball is there to counter Cresselia and deal massive damage to neutral targets.

Flash Cannon is mainly to hit opposing Sylveon as well and hit hard regardless of investment from the opposing end to survive it or not. Aegislash’s partner can follow up and finish off the Sylveon if needed (only my Sylveon should scream, not others!).

The 2 IVs in Speed allows me to underspeed opposing 0 Speed Aegislash in Trick Room, and yet exhibit considerable speed in general under Trick Room. It can be said to be my only solution to Trick Room match ups. Such underspeeding allows me to take a hit in Shield Forme before attacking back when they are in Blade Forme.

Common leads and strategies

Since this team relies quite a bit on spread moves and the signature strategy is, as per this report’s title, Hyper Voicing to deafness, my playstyle is to immediately exert offensive pressure via the powerful spread move of Sylveon or Salamence.

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Such a lead would be ideal against Mega Kangaskhan leads, especially if I expect a Turn 1 Fake Out. I can choose to Quick Guard to negate the Fake Out, and immediately press my opponent with Hyper Voice, or even launch a surprise Hyper Beam attack on its partner. Should I make a hard read and Close Combat immediately on the 1st turn on Mega Kangaskhan, it can be rewarding over the long run. But such a move may be risky, as I feel that most Terrakion users have slowly evolved over the season to hold Focus Sash instead of other items, and my opponent may choose to Fake Out the Terrakion instead to break the Sash and set up for subsequent KOs.

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In situations where I need to exercise speed control, I’ll adopt this pair as my lead. Terrakion to negate the Fake Outs/Prankster moves and immediately start to paralyse opponents using my own Thundurus.

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I would only use this lead when I expect my opponent to lead with Landorus-Therian so that it can drop its Attack and reduce its offensive pressure. I can subsequently tank the Rock Slide onslaught (I usually Protect or switch out the Salamence to recycle the Intimidate) and launch Hyper Voices with Sylveon. Provided it’s not holding Assault Vest, most Landorus take a solid chunk from my Choice Specs boosted Hyper Voice. Since my Salamence is a mixed variant, it can also stay in and launch its own Hyper Voice as well. Such a strategy can potentially punish Amoongus switch-ins when the opponent brings it in to tank a predicted Hyper Voice from Sylveon.

Threats and weaknesses

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Sand teams

My team struggles a lot against sand teams as the fast Rock Slides and Earthquakes from these 2 Pokemon hit really hard and I have no way to reverse or stop such speed control by them effectively. Other than Aegislash with its Wide Guard to negate their spread moves, I only have Ludicolo and Terrakion to beat these 2. More often than now, I get outplayed by opponents who know how to preserve these 2 for a late-game win condition.

My friend whom I befriended during Round 4 Swiss in Singapore Nats suggested Rain Dance on Thundurus-I, in order to win the weather war and use Ludicolo as a hard counter against sand. I would definitely consider this should I fine-tune this team again.

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Heatran and Mega Charizard Y

My only solution to Heatran is Terrakion and Salamence’s Earthquake. My team lacks Fire resists, and as a result it can chunk quite a bit of my team. It threatens my Sylveon and without her, my team’s damage dealing burden falls on Mega Salamence. Ludicolo can be a good match up as well but more than often, it’s deadweight after Heatran is gone especially if my opponent also carries Salamence (unless I manage to paralyse it with Thundurus).

As you can imagine, Zard-Y presents similar challenges for me (and sun makes Heatran hit even harder!) since I have no way to change the weather. Heat Wave in sun can burn huge holes in my team and basically forces me to keep Terrakion in the back to check it.

Game replays during Singapore’s 1st Ever VGC Nationals Championships

The first ever Pokémon Video Game National Championships in Singapore took place over the weekend of June 27th and 28th, 2015 at ITE Central in Ang Mo Kio, inside the Campus Game Fest hosted by the Singapore Cybersports and Online Gaming Association (SCOGA). This was my first major tournament, a marked difference from the small Premier Challenges that I’ve attended over the season and even the Regionals in Singapore at Anchorvale Community Centre. I was really excited to be part of a historic moment in Pokémon VGC history. I’ve met really great people apart from those in The Mirage Island, new friends from Hong Kong (hugo0739), Thailand, and Malaysia (the KL Raikous). Here I’ll be featuring my battles against Hugo Ng, my opponent in Swiss Round 4. I eventually won the set, through sheer brute force coupled with some unintended hax on both ends.

Game 1: Lose

I certainly misplayed a lot in this first game, as I just blindly clicked Hidden Power Ice, did not make the optimal plays and was too predictable in my reads. Hugo’s Milotic was causing me a lot of issues and you can see that Sylveon’s Choice Specs attacks did negligible damage to it.

The lucky paralysis on Venusaur was key and Turn 1’s damage trade wasn’t really significant. I tried to gain some momentum by dropping Landorus-Therian’s attack but the Sludge Bomb from Venusaur dealt so much to my Salamence even before it could do anything.

Eventually Mega Venusaur went down, but the Heatran simply ate up the Hidden Power as if it was nothing.

Scald eventually took down my Mega, and I was only left with Terrakion. A smart switch by him to Landorus-Therian made Terrakion’s Close Combat do minimal damage as I tried to make a hard read by double-targeting. The unfortunate burn on Terrakion took it down.

Sylveon against Heatran certainly wasn’t a favourable match-up and I knew all was lost. But by knowing that Milotic isn’t the Assault Vest variant, I knew I needed to take it down quick and hard in the next game. It knowing Recover wasn’t something good as well as the longer it stays on the field, the more issues it would cause.

Game 2: Win

I needed to regain momentum after the loss. Hence I led with more offensive pressure in mind. My objective was to take down Milotic as soon as possible before it could wreak havoc on my team. The unfortunate poison from Venusaur was really annoying. 

Again, he led with Milotic/Venusaur and immediately attempted to get rid of the Ludicolo from Turn 1. I immediately double targeted the Milotic slot in an attempt to take it out as soon as possible. However, it proved too bulky even with a max Special Attack Giga Drain from Ludicolo, able to just Recover and Recover.

Ludicolo went down soon after and I sent out Salamence as now Venusaur became my prime target.  I gave Milotic a Competitive boost in the process, but he surprisingly chose to forfeit the boosts by switching to Landorus-Therian in order to Intimidate my Salamence. I suppose he predicted that I would Thunderbolt the Milotic slot (which was true, I did). I mega-evolved, and revealed Hyper Voice.

I spammed Hyper Voice to get rid of Venusaur, and tried to chip Landorus-Therian down. The Hidden Power Ice DID NOT MANAGE TO KO the Landorus which was left with 1 HP, and I was so… shocked.

So I was left with Terrakion and Thundurus against his team. He switched out Landorus-Therian for Heatran, and I managed to get rid of the Milotic. I was also able to paralyze his Heatran as well. I proceeded to fish for flinches and finish off his Landorus, which at this point I was certain was carrying Assault Vest.

Heatran tried to stall behind a Substitute, but Hugo did not give up until he targeted Terrakion with Flash Cannon, revealing my Focus Sash as a result. Definitely a close shave as I took this set.

Game 3:Win

I decided to go hyper offensive this game, it’s go big or go home.

Same leads from him (Milotic/Venusaur) as I led with Sylveon/Thundurus. I Thunderbolted the Milotic slot and activated the Sitrus Berry, and Milotic fired an Ice Beam back ONLY TO FREEZE MY THUNDURUS. Really unlucky there. Venusaur after mega-evolving proceeded to Sludge Bomb Thundurus, popping my own Sitrus Berry.

Guess what Sylveon did next? I just went for Hyper Beam and… that was it for Milotic. Hugo was definitely caught off guard. I’m sure he didn’t expect that play. It was really risky though on my end.

He sent out Landorus-Therian and I decided that Thundurus’ time was up. Hence I just let it be knocked out, but end up thawing out AND whiffing the Thunder Wave on his Landorus-Therian. On hindsight, I should have picked my target properly and just paralyzed the Venusaur slot. He surprisingly chooses not to target Sylveon with Sludge Bomb, probably wary of Hidden Power Ice and recognising that Sylveon had to recharge anyway.

I sent out Salamence, mega-evolved, and revealed that I was the mixed variant by using Double-Edge. He told me that the critical hit mattered, though I later found out that it didn’t. Venusaur was OHKOed, and Sylveon proceeded to fire another deadly Hyper Beam which OHKOed the Landorus-Therian as well.

He was left with Hydreigon against the world, and hence he forfeited.

Closing thoughts

I can’t say this season was very good for me. I did not Top Cut any of the tournaments (PCs, Regionals, or this Nationals) held this season in Singapore. But overall, I felt that it was largely due to my predictable playstyle which led to me getting outplayed on most occasions. I will definitely seek to improve in the next season for sure.

In Singapore’s inaugural Nationals Championships, I finished a respectable 28th out of 110+ Masters, with a 4W 3L ratio. To me it’s a small yet significant step as a VGC competitor. I’ve learnt a great deal from the online content posted by many in Nugget Bridge, and I’m more than grateful for the willingness of the community to share knowledge, bounce ideas off each other, all in the interest of helping each other improve.

From battles during Nationals, I’ve met friends from Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia as well. The social aspect of the game is certainly something I hold dear, and that is why I’m passionate about Pokemon 🙂 This post is dedicated to you guys!

Here are some pictures from the Nationals that I took with them:

martinwilson

Thanks to Wilson Choong, one of the PTOs that I met during Malaysia’s inaugural Premier Challenge at Kuala Lumpur. He’s a great guy and I definitely hope to be able to help out in events and stuff that he organises!

martinhugo

Hugo Ng, My Swiss Round 4 opponent during Nationals! Thanks for the great games. Hope to see you again in Hong Kong!

martinww

Glad to part of history for Pokemon VGC in Singapore. Posing for a picture with Wei Wen Ang.

martinthais

My Round 5 opponent Jirawiwat Thitasiri, Round 6 Opponent Mai Tangkasem and their Thailand compatriots! Welcome to Singapore and I hope to see you all again! Ji, your Kecleon rocks but please no more Shadow Sneak!!!!

Shout-outs

  • Shoutout to Wee Zi Yun, Rayne Tay Zhi Sheng for being my practice partners
  • Thank you very much to The Mirage Island for accepting me as part of the group, even though my skills are still quite below par at the moment. I hope to be able to provide support in terms of events organizing if I have the time

Conclusion

With this, I conclude my report. I finished the season with 165 CPs, which I felt was pretty okay judging from my mediocre experience in the VGC format. I’ve really enjoyed myself very much playing Pokemon within the VGC format for the past 2 years and I hope to come back stronger in VGC’16. See you guys soon and good luck to the Singaporeans who have qualified for the Worlds Championships in Boston (Thanks Theodora Hui in advance for helping me hunt down the Worlds 2015 Pikachu). Thanks for reading.

[This article was subsequently republished by Nugget Bridge on 05 Sept 2015.]

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