Shang Loh – LCQ 2014: Knightmarish Execution

January 11th, 2015 | Posted by Shang Loh in Team Reports

Hi all, Shang “slyx183” Loh here! I’ve been around in TRVG for around a year and a half now, but this is my first team report because it’s the first team that I feel really deserves an article despite my performance with it.

After spending the majority of the VGC’14 season playing with a sun-bluff team centred around Raichu, Gyarados, Mega Charizard X and Mega Venusaur, I decided that the strategy was not a strong pick in the best-of-3 format at LCQs as the team relies rather heavily on the surprise factor to net quick set-ups and overwhelm the opponent with boosted STAB attacks from Mega Charizard X and Gyarados. In addition, I realized my Kangaskhan match-up was less than ideal; something inexcusably dangerous in the VGC ’14 metagame.

With these factors in mind, I began to build a team completely from scratch. In one conversation with Tan Zong Ying (TanZYing) I realized I really liked the idea of building a team based off Mega Mawile and Choice Specs Hydreigon as an offensive core. Mega Mawile has a strong matchup against Mega Kangaskhan, while Specs Hydreigon has fantastic coverage coupled with the raw power to keep up in this fast-paced metagame. However, both these Pokemon are outsped and hit hard by common threats, so some form of speed control was definitely needed.

I experimented with a Trick Room Thunder Wave Meowstic to give me more options in a best-of-3 setting, but didn’t like the idea of having a support Pokemon that couldn’t dish out decent damage on its own. It was at this point where Zong Ying translated Moopon’s Japan Nationals team report. With less than a month left until Worlds, I decided to go with a team that had been tried and tested while making the appropriate adjustments based on my playstyle. I’m actually really happy with what I finally decided on and feel I made the appropriate meta calls to adjust to the Worlds environment. Without further ado, allow me to introduce Team Knightmare and its attempted rebellion against Rain and Kangaskhans!

Team Profile

 

Mawile @ Mawilite [Shinkirou]
Ability: Intimidate -> Huge Power
EVs: 252 HP / 60 Atk 52 Atk / 4 Def / 172 SpD 180 SpD / 20 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Iron Head
– Play Rough
– Sucker Punch
– Protect

One common trait among many Pokemon in this team is having lots of defensive investment and very little offensive investment. Moopon’s original Mawile was EVed to survive -1 Parental Bond Fake Out + Fire Blast from Modest Hydreigon. With most Hydreigon running Choice Specs in the lead up to Worlds, I decided that this benchmark was rather irrelevant. During testing, I found Mega Manectric to be especially annoying to handle and wanted to ensure that I was at least able to survive its Timid 252 SpA Overheat. This also gives me a slightly under 50% chance to survive a Modest Overheat. Offensively, this Mawile is still able to 2HKO Mega Tyranitar with Play Rough. The remaining EVs were dumped in Speed to speed creep 12 Speed Mega Mawiles.

Nickname Corner: If Mega Kangaskhan is the dominant Britannian Empire in the VGC ’14 metagame, Mega Mawile is the rebel leading the charge against it. Shinkirou is the final Knightmare piloted by the rebel Prince Lelouch.

Hydreigon @ Choice Specs [Mordred]
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 36 HP / 36 Def / 204 SpA / 4 SpD / 228 Spe 60 HP / 12 Def / 228 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
Modest Nature
Dragon Pulse Earth Power
– Draco Meteor
– Dark Pulse
– Flamethrower

Hydreigon was probably the most unpopular of the Big 3 Dragons (Salamence, Garchomp, Hydreigon) for the majority of the VGC ’14 season due to its slower speed and newly acquired 4x weakness to Fairy. However, if the rest of the team is able to take out or cripple these faster Dragons, Hydreigon easily rips through teams with boosted Draco Meteors and Dark Pulse.
STAB Dark Pulse is invaluable this generation, allowing one to deal crippling damage to the ever-present Aegislash without having to fear contacting King’s Shield and receiving a nasty -2 Attack drop. Around 2 months before worlds, players began to realize Hydreigon’s strengths and many began to favour it over Salamence.

As with the Mawile, I felt the need to adjust the EVs on Hydreigon slightly based on what I expected to see at worlds. Firstly I reshuffled the HP/Def ratio to hit a 16n-1 value for HP, ensuring that the percentage damage taken from Sandstorm was minimized, while still guaranteeing that Dragon Claw from Jolly 252 Atk Garchomp would not OHKO. While Moopon ran enough speed to outspeed his own Jolly 252 Speed Gyarados, I felt that preserving information on Gyarados’ speed was not critical. Thus, I lowered the speed to just outspeed Timid 252 Speed Mega Blastoise, which was seeing a rise in usage at the time. Being able to severely damage Mega Blastoise with Draco Meteor before it could connect a Water Spout was essential in aiding Hydreigon’s teammates from taking too much spread damage. In addition, I predicted that the 140 speed tier would be especially crowded in the lead up to worlds, and I wanted to have a decent cushion above the crowd. The remaining EVs were pumped into SpA to maximize damage output.

As I previously mentioned, Mega Manectric was making life difficult for me during testing with its Lightningrod and Intimidate abilities, and hence I decided to drop Dragon Pulse for Earth Power to reliability take it out fast. Earth Power also gave me a way to beat Mega Mawiles in Rain and an option to hit Azumarill for decent damage.

Nickname Corner: Hydreigon simply blows holes in opponents’ teams if left unchecked. The Mordred is a heavy-assault Knightframe famous for its explosive Hadron Cannons. Kaboom, ‘nuff said.

Gyarados @ Wacan Berry Leftovers [Ikaruga]
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 164 HP / 68 Atk / 4 Def / 20 SpD / 252 Spe 180 HP / 76 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Waterfall
– Thunder Wave
– Taunt
Ice Fang Protect

The idea of having a fast support Gyarados really appealed to me, getting off key Thunder Waves on opposing Salamence and Hydreigon, while outspeeding and taunting any Smeargles that try to ruin my day. This Gyarados also has a fantastic matchup against opposing rain teams without Zapdos, crippling the common Assault Vest Ludicolo and Choice Scarf Politoed, while helping the team sponge hits from Kangaskhan and Talonflame with further Intimidate support from Mawile.

In testing, I found that very few things were able to OHKO Gyarados due to its natural special bulk and Intimidates from Mawile and Gyarados helping to sponge physical damage. Hence, I decided to EV Gyarados to survive Choice Specs Modest 252 SpA Draco Meteor, the single strongest special attack I expected to be hit by. The HP value hit 16n+1, maximising the percentage of Leftovers recovery. With so much investment in bulk, in order to still meet my minimum requirement of 140 Speed to outspeed and taunt Smeargle, I would be left with 36 Atk EVs, which does not net me any important KOs. As with Hydreigon, I wanted to have a comfortable cushion above what I expected to be a crowded 140 speed tier. Since there was little to be gained from investing in Attack, I decided to maximise Speed to outspeed any rogue Timid/Jolly base 80s.

I personally never felt comfortable running Wacan Berry without Protect, since bulky Gyarados tends to get double targeted and can therefore punish that with a simple Protect. Protect also gave me the ability to lead Gyarados against Kanga-Smeargle. Without any Atk investment I felt Ice Fang was not worth using a moveslot on, which finalised my decision to run Protect. One point I would like to highlight about this Gyarados is its ability to help me roll some dice when I’m behind in a match. A fast Thunder Wave followed by Waterfall forms a para-flinch combination. While I was rarely forced to rely on this, it did give me an option and a small chance of a win when absolutely necessary.

Nickname Corner: Gyarados is the single support Pokemon on this team. Ikaruga is an aerial carrier designed to provide control and support during operations by the Black Knights.

Garchomp @ Lum Berry [Lancelot]
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 172 HP / 12 Atk / 4 Def / 68 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Dragon Claw
– Earthquake
– Rock Slide
– Protect

This is probably one of the more interesting Garchomp sets around. With the given defensive investment, Garchomp is able to survive rogue Hidden Power Ice, including Life Orb Hidden Power Ice from Timid 252 SpA Pyroar. This means it comfortably survives HP Ice from Modest Mega Manectric and strikes back with STAB super effective Earthquake. On the physical side, this Garchomp punishes Kangaskhans daring enough to Double-Edge it expecting to KO Garchomp, surviving and inflicting huge recoil damage along with Rough Skin chip. With many Base 100s deciding to go with a neutral nature to increase damage output, I decided not to change the original Garchomp and stuck with Adamant max speed.

Garchomp and Gyarados formed my natural response to setup leads. Earthquake and Rock Slide ignore annoying redirection from the likes of Amoonguss and Lucario, while Taunt and Thunder Wave from Gyarados allowed me to shut down the supporters and proceed to cripple the setup sweeper. For the trickier Azumarill-Raichu matchup, Azumarill is basically forced to Belly Drum to negate the Intimidate drop from Gyarados, which makes Earthquake + Taunt on Azumarill a risky but rewarding play if it pays off. Raichu can only disable one of the pair, which allows me to either deal significant damage to Azumarill with Earthquake or force Azumarill to switch out after being taunted.

Nickname Corner: I’ve actually never used Garchomp on any team prior to this one. Ever. I’ve always felt that it was too predictable, but this bulky set proved me wrong, surviving key attacks to land another of its own next turn. The Lancelot piloted by Kururugi Suzaku epitomises an attempt to change the perception of a system from within, in this case that there is “more than one way to play Garchomp.”

Rotom-Heat @ Choice Scarf [Tristan]
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 140 HP / 32 Def / 84 SpA / 252 Spe 164 SpA / 172 Spe
Timid Nature
– Overheat
– Volt Switch
– Thunderbolt
– Hidden Power [Ice]

Rotom-Heat’s unique typing added valuable defensive synergy to the team. However, I felt that the bulky support set was too passive on a team designed to outpace and out-damage while retaining offensive momentum in the match. Not wanting to unexpectedly lose a match to rogue Choice Band Aqua Jets from Azumarill, I retained the defensive investment from the original set to survive said attack. I originally ran a Modest set to increase damage output, but decided that I wanted to have a clear answer to Choice Scarf Smeargle. As a result, I switched to a Timid Rotom with 140 Speed to outspeed Scarf Smeargle. Incidentally, 164 SpA allows me to cleanly OHKO 252HP 4SpD Smeargle with Overheat.

Choice Scarf Rotom-H allowed me to Volt Switch out of incoming Rock Slides from Tyranitar to deal chip damage and maintain offensive momentum, and outspeed opposing Aerodactyl to KO with Thunderbolt. Many Bisharp users who assume a bulky support set in Game 1 usually go for Night Slash/Assurance predicting a Will-O-Wisp and proceed to get taken out by a fast Overheat.

Nickname Corner: Like the Tristan, Choice Scarf Rotom-H had high manoeuvrability, able to deal damage and safely evacuate the battlefield. Rotom-H rarely stayed out for more than a few turns, mostly dealing chip damage to knock things like Kangaskhan, Aegislash, and Zapdos into KO range of Draco Meteor/Dark Pulse from Hydreigon.

Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 188 HP / 52 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 20 Spe
Quiet Nature
– Shadow Ball
– Flash Cannon
– Shadow Sneak
– King’s Shield

Scizor @ Life Orc [GurenSEITEN]
Ability: Technician
EVs: 28 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Bullet Punch
– U-turn
– Feint
– Protect

Life Orb Scizor was the single largest change I made to Moopon’s team. With Hydreigon seeing a rise in usage, I predicted that Choice Scarf Gardevoir would be a popular choice on many teams to counter the Dragon. In addition to checkmating Gardevoir with Life Orb Technician boosted Bullet Punch, Scizor provided valuable priority to work around boosted Azumarill and opposing Mega Mawile, both of which are unable to outspeed and hit Scizor with their own priority moves. Feint eased prediction and provided chip damage to guarantee OHKOs, such as Rotom-Heat’s Hidden Power Ice on Garchomp. Scizor was also a strong choice against paralysed Assault Vest Ludicolo and Hydreigon, out speeding and OHKO-ing with U-turn. The superior matchup against Gardevoir, AV Ludicolo and Hydreigon convinced me that Scizor was the correct meta-call over Aegislash.

Although Volt-Turn is more famously a Singles strategy, having both moves on this team allowed me to make use of my team’s strong defensive synergy to deal chip damage and get my heavy hitters in safely to net the KOs. Volt-Turn also helped against trapping strategies with Gothitelle.
The EV spread is fairly straightforward. 28 HP hits a stat number of 149, minimizing Life Orb recoil. Maximum Attack for maximum damage output, and the remainder in Speed to outspeed common bulky Rotom and U-turn out of an incoming Will-O-Wisp or Overheat.

Nickname Corner: In addition to being red and having large claws, Scizor is similar to the Guren in that it is quite an anti-meta call. Scizor was chosen to combat what I felt would be common threats to my team, just as the Guren was made to defeat Britannian Knightmare frames.

Having tested the team locally in a best of 3 format against various players, I was confident that the team was built solidly. While it didn’t have the surprise factor and overwhelming offensive power of boosted Mega Charizard X, superior defensive synergy allowed team members to switch in for each other and improve my board position before launching powerful STAB attacks. I was also confident about my rain matchup, something I expected to see lots of at LCQs. Armed with my new team; I flew to Washington D.C. to try my luck in the harsh LCQs.

LCQ 2014

R1: BYE

R2: Giovaine Neita (Jio)


I actually didn’t recognize him at all when I first saw his name, but after seeing his IGN I realised my opponent was eliminated from last year’s LCQs by our very own Eugene Tan. Team preview came up and I was slightly glad to see what looked like a Sejun Park rain team. The Zapdos would prove to be troublesome, threatening my main counter to Rain with STAB Thunderbolt. I would have to prioritise taking out Zapdos with Choice Specs Draco Meteor.

Game 1: I get off to a really bad start as he calls the obvious Thunder Wave onto Ludicolo, switching out into Zapdos, while Politoed Scalds into Mawile’s protect. He then correctly predicts a Protect on Gyarados and double targets Mega Mawile. Here I realize that I will need a combination of higher level plays and luck to have any hope of gaining back any momentum in the game.

I boldly leave Gyarados in on Zapdos knowing I’m faster and Thunder Wave Politoed, expecting it to be Scarfed, while switching in Hydreigon to take an incoming Thunderbolt and Scald. I then double target Zapdos’ slot with Waterfall and Draco Meteor, calling the switch into Ludicolo, but Ludicolo hangs on as I just fall short of the KO. Politoed reveals that it is actually not Scarfed and I proceed to lose Hydreigon to Ice Beam. I realize that I should have noticed that Politoed moved after Zapdos the previous turn, which was a rather major misplay on my part.

What happens next is kind of fuzzy but I get two very fortunate breaks, flinching his Zapdos once with Waterfall and Politoed gets fully paralysed the next turn, giving me enough time to claw my way back into the match. The penultimate turn is his 70% Garchomp and Zapdos within Waterfall KO range against my full health Gyarados and 75% Mega Mawile. I reason that his win condition is to Rock Slide and hope for a flinch on Gyarados which will allow him to take the game and thus Sucker Punch Garchomp and Waterfall Zapdos. Sucker Punch drops Garchomp to around 30% as it actually goes for the Earthquake, cleanly KO-ing Mawile and revealing Life Orb in the process, while Zapdos faints to Waterfall. Garchomp then connects a single target Life Orb Rock Slide, dropping Gyarados to 24HP. Gyarados Waterfalls to reduce Garchomp’s HP to zero, BUT Rough Skin activates fainting Gyarados first. Not a match I deserved to win anyway, but a very close result nonetheless. 0-0 Loss.

Game 2: I’m one game from crashing out of LCQs, so I decide to go all in and play aggressively in Game 2. I lead Gyarados and Hydreigon into Ludicolo and Zapdos, bringing Scizor and Rotom-H in the back. I boldly go for the Thunder Wave onto Ludicolo and Draco Meteor onto Zapdos on turn 1, reasoning that I will either severely cripple his Ludicolo or KO Zapdos depending on who he decides to Fake Out. I end up sacrificing Gyarados as he Fakes Out Hydreigon and Thunderbolts Gyarados. However, with Ludicolo paralysed it is basically deadweight for the remainder of the game.

I send in Scizor to pick up the easy OHKO on Ludicolo, while Politoed switches in to take the Choice Specs Draco Meteor, eating its Sitrus Berry to recover back up to around 30%. Scizor KOs Ludicolo and switches out into Rotom- H. Garchomp replaces Ludicolo. With Hydreigon at -2, and having revealed Scizor as my last Pokemon, I once again expect him to go for the Rock Slide to hit Rotom-H for Super Effective damage and the predicted Scizor switch for neutral. Thus, I keep Hydreigon in and target Garchomp with Draco Meteor, knowing I will KO at -2. I am punished for this as he plays the turn straight and knocks out Hydreigon with Dragon Claw and I Volt Switch out on Politoed, picking up the KO, leaving me with Scizor and Rotom-H against Garchomp and Zapdos.

Feint + HP Ice picks up the easy KO on Garchomp, as Zapdos knocks Scizor down to 40HP with Thunderbolt. Here, I misplay terribly, choosing to Feint + HP Ice the Zapdos, instead of Protecting to block the obvious incoming Thunderbolt. This does a total of 50% to Zapdos, as I proceed to lose Scizor. From here on out it becomes a straightforward win for Jio as he just continuously clicks Roost to heal off all the damage. Pressure depletes my PP and I eventually have to Struggle to death. Rotom-Heat’s HP hits zero as it Struggles in futility, and I crash out of LCQs without winning a single battle. 0-1 Loss.

Frankly, even if I had Protected that turn and taken the free HP Ice, I still would have lost the match as he could have just chosen to Roost the following turn, as Feint + 2 HP Ice would not be enough to KO bar a critical hit on one of the three moves. Eventually I would lose Scizor to Life Orb recoil which results in the same PP depletion end game.

Conclusion

In all honesty I was quite disappointed in my early exit at LCQs, especially given my team’s theoretical strong matchup against Rain teams. For one, I definitely did not expect such a common use of Zapdos at Worlds, which was a rather big miss given that my only out against it was Choice Specs Draco Meteor. More importantly, though, I believe that my lack of official tournament experience caused me to play too naïvely at the start followed by recklessly over-predicting once I was behind. My key takeaway from this year’s LCQ experience is that even with a solidly built team, without the proper execution it is difficult to win in a format as unforgiving as VGC ’14.

I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance to use this team in any future VGC ’14 matches, or whether this report marks its retirement, but feel free to test out the team and let me know what you think of it!
I’ll most likely be taking a short break from playing VGC ’14 seriously and decide on how involved I want to be in the VGC ’15 player’s scene while waiting for ORAS to be released. I hope I’ve conveyed my thought process while editing this team to suit my own judgement calls and shed light on why I went with the sets I did.

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