Hey there, my name is Justin Lok, a long time member of The Mirage Island, bringing you my report from the 2017 Oceania International Championships held in Melbourne.
What started off as determination to use Mandibuzz and Salazzle evolved quite a fair bit, eventually resulting in me dropping the two in favour of a more ‘standard’ team.
Getting Pokemon off the board helps reduce options and different possible scenarios, which in turn helps me determine what plays I should go for. I’m not good at hard reads and am prone to leaving myself open when going for KOs, so I opt for the safer option of using a bulky team to trade KOs with my opponents.
I had tested a lot of different variations of this team, and this was the most comfortable iteration of the team I had going into the tournament.
Snorlax @ Figy Berry
EVs: 196 HP / 252 Def / 60 SpD
– Belly Drum
– High Horsepower
Shoutout to Matthew Hui for providing this bulky ass spread that can take Garchomp’s Tectonic Rage and more. The investment in pure bulk means that I do need to set up to do meaningful damage, but there are scenarios in which that is not necessary and its obnoxious bulk just pushes through. This is my team’s main way to win; an unkillable Snorlax, ideally with +6 Attack to just take KOs.
I prefer the Belly Drum variant over Curse, because I find Curse takes too long to get going and gives more opportunities for my opponent to punish. A Belly Drum puts immediate pressure on my opponent, who is then incentivised to attack Snorlax and take it off the field ASAP, which is where the obnoxious bulk comes into play. And as Matthew has pointed out, Belly Drum gives more control over the consumption of your berry, which can help against Knock Off (mainly from Muk).
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 92 Def / 32 SpA / 140 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
The other obnoxiously bulky Pokemon that pairs with Snorlax, giving me Trick Room to facilitate speed control. Ice Beam over Thunderbolt, just because I expected to see a lot more Garchomp than Celesteela. With most people running EV spreads on their mons to make sure Download gives an Attack boost, I figured, why not make use of that? I have taken games in which I just 2HKO Tapus with Return and they can’t trade back.
I love the core of Snorlax and Porygon2, definitely something I would “return” to (hahaha I’m hilarious).
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 6 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Poison Jab
– Fire Fang
Standard Tectonic Rage Garchomp. Fire Fang was for insurance against Kartana, although I seldom used the move. Rock Slide, Substitute or Swords Dance over Fire Fang would have been preferable.
Tapu Fini @ Choice Specs
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hydro Pump
– Muddy Water
Since I already have one setup mon in Snorlax, Calm Mind Fini was not to be (I can’t play it that well anyway). Choice Specs boosting the damage of mindless Muddy Water spam (to be fair, I prefer to lock myself into Moonblast) helps with the objective of trading with my opponent, and the terrain guards against unfortunate hax, as well as deny opposing terrain leads.
Overall, a solid pick, fills the role of special attacker on the team quite nicely. I’ll admit though, I should YOLO sometimes and just press Hydro Pump.
Arcanine @ Electrium Z
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Wild Charge
– Extreme Speed
Arcanine was picked to deal with Kartana, which I expected to be quite prevelant. The Z move was meant to do a lot of damage (and possibly pick up a KO) on Tapu Fini, who otherwise feels very safe sitting in front of Arcanine. Wild Charge itself hits Gyarados, and Extreme Speed can pick off KOs.
Tapu Lele @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 220 HP / 252 SpA / 36 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
I had difficulty choosing my last slot and honestly, Tapu Lele was just a stopgap. The rationale behind Tapu Lele was to counter potential fighting types that are likely to come in on my Normal core, as well as provide more fairy firepower against Mandibuzz that can destroy my +6 Snorlax (fun fact: it doesn’t, my Snorlax can survive lol).
I decided a scarf was better in order to help give my team some speed and even then, I still invested in bulk. I still don’t know whether it was a good idea? I get outsped by Tapu Koko (giving me terrain control at least, I suppose) and still get OHKO-ed by Kartana. Given time, I would probably have found a Pokemon I’m more comfortable playing, but time was not on my side so I stuck with Lele.
Round 1 – VS Philip Nguyen (Boomguy)
I remember him from 2 years ago (I think?) when he came down to Singapore and beat our top players. He has a very dynamic personality and I was intimidated to face him in the first round.
In the first game, he triggered his Psychic Seed on Mandibuzz rather early and stopped Porygon2 with Taunt. Fearing the Foul Play, I just attacked with the unboosted Snorlax that I led with. The game came down to a misprediction from him, when his Kartana Leaf Blade-d into my Arcanine, ignoring my Tapu Fini. I imagine he called a Protect on my Fini. With that first game under my belt, my confidence swelled, and after surviving a Tectonic Rage from Garchomp onto my Snorlax, I closed out the second game with my bulky Scarf Lele (which was slower than his Tapu Koko).
Round 2 – VS Bryan Wong (War Machine)
Sigh. In my next round, I got paired against a fellow Singaporean. Furthermore, I had previously faced him in the local PC just before Melbourne in top cut, where he easily defeated me. What I had going for me now was that he had not changed his team from then, so I knew roughly what to expect. The Nihilego holding the choice scarf was a huge problem, being able to threaten almost everything on my team and outspeeding them to boot. I decided to adopt a strategy of punishing his choice-locked mons by switching my mons around.
For Game 1, he led with Nihilego and Hariyama, and I, with Tapu Fini and Garchomp. I then switched out Fini for Arcanine and protected my Chomp, trying to bait out a move from his Nihilego. Once he locked himself into Hidden Power Ice, I initially planned to swap out Garchomp for Tapu Fini. However, in a daring twist of fate, I chose to stay in and Tectonic Rage into the Nihilego slot. The gods smiled on my decision and I punished the Kartana switch in, bringing it all the way down to the red. Easy pickings for Arcanine. From there, I cleaned up the rest of the game.
Game 2, his Kartana retaliated with a Bloom Doom, OHKOing my Garchomp and limiting my switching options, which led to my eventual loss. Game 3, I stuck to my initial strategy and came out ahead. Fighting him before definitely helped me win this match up.
Round 3 – VS Ben Madigan
Oh man, Gastrodon with Z-Stockpile caught me by surprise in the first game, Toxic stalling me to boot. I adjusted rather well in the second game with endgame Porygon2 and Snorlax against his lone Gastrodon. After noting how physically bulky it was and given that it had Toxic as one of its moves, I chose to endgame with Tapu Fini for Game 3. It worked splendidly and secured my third Swiss round victory. It was an especially taxing victory, as I had to dance around Mimikyu’s disguise and Kartana’s focus sash, one wrong trade and I could have easily fallen behind.
Round 4 – VS Yusei Matsuno
At first glance, a fairly straightforward Hail Team, with Snorlax as an option to abuse Aurora Veil to set up and sweep. Boy, was I wrong in thinking that Japanese players are straightforward. I fought hard in Game 1, using Trick Room to come out ahead and he was down to his last 2, Krookodile and Sandslash (Hail was still up, Icy Rock on Ninetales >_>).
Frost Breath into the Krookodile, triggering Anger Point. Oh, and not to mention, the Krookodile was scarfed as well, outspeeding my Tapu Lele.
Let me list the things I had to consider going into the next 2 games:
- Ninetales’ Hail lasts for 8 turns, it has Disable (totally nullifies Tapu Fini), Encore (Snorlax set up is very difficult), and Aurora Veil to make his whole team tankier.
- I have no answer to the Anger Point cheese aside from Trick Room.
- His Snorlax is the Curse variant, meaning I have to shut it down before it gets too many boosts – see Aurora Veil in point 1.
- Lucario looks like a surefire way to destroy my own Snorlax.
Considering those options, I went for a Trick Room + Fini combo, being careful to dodge the disable from the fox. Game 2 was easier, as he brought Lucario (which was a special attacker) and Gyarados (easily handled by Arcanine). Game 3, he brought the same stuff as Game 1, I played with my Trick Room turns more carefully and clinched a victory.
Round 5 – Sebastian Escalante
This was the start of me realising that Tapu Lele wasn’t such a good fit on the team as I faced off against my nemesis – Scarf Kartana. Game 1, he was able to inflict a lot of damage to my team (Gigavolt Havoc from Tapu Koko under Electric Terrain hurts A LOT – my Snorlax survived but I mistakenly went for the Belly Drum, resulting in a +6 Snorlax with red health), and while I was trying to recover from a bad position, it allowed him time to set up his Calm Mind Tapu Fini. Game 2, we switched Pokemon out a lot, but with Volt Switch on his Tapu Koko, he was better able to manoeuvre and take the win.
Even though I lost, the games were satisfying, Sebastian is a strong player and he was even the top seed after Day 2!
Round 6 – VS Koutaro Nakagome
A surge offence team. I was at a severe disadvantage against him for the following reasons:
- His Tapu Koko and Raichu had Electroball – too much damage for my Snorlax and Porygon2 to be able to set up comfortably.
- I have nothing effective against Golisopod, which proved to be a problem. He could also change the terrain to enable priority moves – Aqua Jet is good against Arcanine, First Impression kills Tapu Lele, and he has Poison Jab for Tapu Fini.
- Tapu Fini does not enjoy going up against surge offence.
- Raichu had Fake Out to stop turn 1 Trick Room and Shattered Psyche to take advantage of my Psychic Terrain.
Needless to say, I lost 2-0.
Round 7 – VS Kyle Beaumont
This was the defining moment of the entire tournament for me. If I lost this round, I could forget about getting into Day 2 as I was already two rounds down. And at this crucial moment, I made the play of the game.
I switched Garchomp into Ninetales’ Blizzard on the very first turn of Game 1.
I have no excuses, it was a terrible move and has absolutely no logic to it. Needless to say, I lost the first game. I clawed back with the second game, and the third game boiled down to my Snorlax being locked into Recycle by his Ninetales, and him cycling between his Arcanine and Tapu Koko to bring my Snorlax to -6 Attack. Thus, my ability to advance to Day 2 ended here.
Round 8 – VS Josiah Moyes
Hey, no big deal, I’m here to have fun and enjoy playing Pokemon! This round was a breath of fresh air, no stakes, just good old-fashioned battling. I easily 2-0 him, despite some questionable plays on my part (took a chance and used Hydro Pump from Tapu Fini on his Gigalith in sand, bringing him down to a sliver of health, upon which he promptly took himself out with Life Orb recoil). If he had brought Mismagius, I would have had a much tougher time, but he did not and I was able to just beat down with Returns from Snorlax and Porygon2.
Round 9 – VS Richard Buckley
Richard is a strong player, definitely able to take victory. Unfortunately for him, in both games, Ice Beam from Porygon2 froze his Kartana and put him at a severe disadvantage. He was understandably upset and shaken but took it in his stride. A true sportsman.
6-3, #41 after Day 1 Swiss
Going in without expectations, I did better than I thought I would with a 6-3 record, placing rather comfortably in Top 64. The potential to go further was definitely there; if I had played better and not given in to my brain farts, I might have avoided some of my losses and moved on to Day 2.
That said, I did my best and I have no regrets.