Hey there Hat Lovers,
While I haven’t been playing all that much, I built a team that was meant to just cheese out a win by being surprising, while not being completely useless in Best of 3. The start to the team was to use Mamoswine, because Mamoswine is an amazing counter to Thundurus-I, and is a very good Pokemon to face Landorus-T with. The genies are the two strongest Pokemon in the metagame right now, and it seemed like a fun Pokemon to try. To pair with Mamoswine, I wanted an Earthquake partner, so I put our Salamence on the team because Salamence is amazing. After that, I wanted one more Earthquake partner, and something that could handle attacks Salamence and Mamoswine would take. While not perfect, I’ve really liked Randy’s scarfed Rotom-W, and felt it would work nicely as a DisQuake partner. I wanted an additional Discharge partner though, and that’s when I added Excadrill and Tyranitar because I already had a Rotom-W and Salamence, and felt like bluffing Japan Sand would work well. Amoonguss rounds out that core as well as it rounds out Japan Sand, so it just got slotted onto the team.
I’ve played with it a bit online and took the team to a local tournament and got 2nd, losing to Max in the finals. The team itself has answers far better than I expected it would, and I wish I had more time to play so I could iron out some kinks and get my game back on track, but I really won’t have the time in the next while so I thought I’d put up this somewhat unique team on VGC with Hats to fill the void leading up to Worlds. I mean… our new writer could finish his tournament report sometime and we could post that. But that’s crazy talk, right mc? 😛
I’ll introduce the team in the order of the members I find most useful, rather than the order listed above.
Mega Tyranitar is a behemoth. Tyranitar already boasts an impressive 600 BST, so Mega Tyranitar is amongst the Pokemon with the highest BST available in the VGC metagame; the others are M-Salamence, M-Metagross, M-Garchomp, M-Latios and M-Latias. But Mega Tyranitar has the fewest wasted stats. All the other megas have at least 100 in their off-Attack stat, and many are at 120+. M-Tyranitar has only 95 base Special Attack, making it the Mega with the highest effective BST amongst all available Megas in ORAS… other than mixed M-Salamence, which technically makes use of all its stats.
I have a spread that has 68 HP / 180 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpDef / 252 Spe, but can’t remember why I wanted the HP. I know 180 Atk worked well as a number that did most everything you wanted it to, but 252 Atk maximizes damage output which, in some situations (e.g. +1 Crunch on M-Gard) give M-Tyranitar a guaranteed KO after sand damage. If you find you don’t need the attack, try the extra bulk, but maybe have a good reason for it first. All I know is that M-Tyranitar’s attack stat is obscenely high, but unlike Charizard-Y, it doesn’t get boosted by sun and isn’t launching moves with as high a base power, so you need to invest in attack to hit like a truck.
The important part of this TTar was to be Jolly max speed, so that after a Dragon Dance it would outspeed Scarfed Politoed and Base 130s. Dragon Dance tends to be one of those situational moves on a lot of Pokemon, but I often find turns to Dragon Dance with this TTar because something like Excadrill/TTar threatens a double Rock Slide, and you’ll force switch-outs that you can capitalize on without risk. Having Mega Tyranitar on the team also wins weather wars a lot easier, and can really take the wind out of a team’s sails when they react to the threat of Scarf only to backpedal to deal with the ability for TTar to switch moves. And of course, once it gets a Dragon Dance up, it’s even better than a ScarfTar barring the coverage.
Excadrill @ Life Orb
Ability: Sand Rush
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Iron Head
– Drill Run
– Rock Slide
I had a folder in my showdown called “Nats needs a STAB Iron Head” leading up to Nationals. Max and I felt Gardevoir was going to be stronger after it picked up steam through Spring Regionals, and physically bulky Sylveons were on the rise. Excadrill made that list, but it seems like its most effective role in the current metagame is to partner with Tyranitar and clean up at +2 speed. I’ve wanted to go Jolly for the speed, but the drop in attack can really let you down.
That said, Excadrill has been a solid Pokemon that is hard to be disappointed in. Simply having that +2 Speed Rock Slide or Iron Head has been awesome for dealing with troublesome scarfers. Even Landorus-T can be 2HKOd by a -1 Iron Head (~25% chance), so that Intimidate isn’t a safe switch in to take an Iron Head + Rock Slide. All in all, to me, Excadrill feels as good as Ludicolo was in VGC 2014. You bring it to almost every game, it always puts in work, and it’s fast. You do have to play carefully with it to avoid losing it to a STAB Scald/Heat Wave. The team is also pretty Earthquake vulnerable, and Excadrill isn’t helping, so your best defence is a good offence against Earthquake users.
Amoonguss is the glue that holds the team together. Rage Powder draws away STAB Fighting and Water attacks letting Mega Tyranitar and Excadrill do their stuff (also Mamoswine). Amoonguss also does very well to punish physical attackers with Rocky Helmet, while preserving HP with Regenerator. Tyranitar and Rotom-W do well to resist Amoonguss’ weaknesses, and as a result it often works best to have Amoonguss beside Excadrill (in sand if possible) to really give yourself the most options to play with as far as switch-ins go.
The combination of sand and Rocky Helmet damage also takes a serious chunk out of Mega Kangaskhan and other physical attackers, which lets M-TTar or Excadrill take out the momma with a STAB Crunch or Iron Head. Amoonguss has a pretty set role, but it just does so much for this team archetype that you’d be hard-pressed to take it off. It gives you an extra Fairy resist and something to punish Trick Room teams with, and it has a STAB Giga Drain which is quite helpful against Swampert and Gastrodon. Both of those Pokemon actually give the team a fair bit of trouble, and you can only push through with Amoonguss support.
I started with Scarfed Rotom-W because I wanted to have a fast Hydro Slump to donk Landorus-T, and a fast Discharge that you could spam to get damage while rolling for paralysis. By definition, if you can discharge both of your opponent’s Pokemon while only hitting one of yours, your Discharge has done more damage to your opponent than you, and has a greater chance of paralyzing your opponent than you. That situation has come up a few times, but the team has so many partners for Discharge that it’s pretty ok. Excadrill/Mamoswine are great partners, and Amoonguss resists electric and doesn’t mind paralysis as much as some other mons would. In terms of cost-benefit analysis, hitting your own Tyranitar can actually be quite worth it if your opponent won’t appreciate a Discharge, and especially if they don’t expect you to damage your own Pokemon (thus blinding them to the play).
I used Will-o-Whiff as my 4th move so that in Best-of-3 play, once your opponent knew about Scarf, you could launch a Will-o-Whiff at Pokemon like Kangaskhan and Landorus-T that would either try to Sucker Punch you, or by all means should switch out. I like Will-o-Whiff because it gives you safer plays to make that should put you ahead regardless. If Landorus-T stays in, it’s burned and you’ve accomplished something with your turn. If it switches out, it’s likely something bulky to try and take a Hydro Dump, and burn damage will be appreciated (especially coupled with sand); not to mention that Will-o-Whiff is more accurate than Hydro Rump, which makes it a more guaranteed play.
These last two have been pretty underwhelming admittedly. I started out with the same M-Salamence that we had on Hyper Mode (physical Naive), but used Draco Meteor over Earthquake because the team has 2 ground moves already. I didn’t really bring Salamence much, and the team didn’t appreciate opposing Intimidate, so I decided to try out a Special Mence. I still haven’t brought it much, and while I could drop Double-Edge for a coverage move, I don’t think that’s the problem. The team is just very versatile already and Salamence doesn’t actually add that much. I kept it on the team as an Intimidate Pokemon that could be an Earthquake partner.
Mamoswine was the start of this teambuilding process, and while it hasn’t been bad when I’ve brought it, I feel like it doesn’t really add much to the team, and in most games Excadrill works better. I do like that Mamoswine adds a priority move, but it’s pretty weak without a boost unless you’re hitting for weakness. While I’m not disappointed in Mamoswine, I recognize that it will probably be slotted out to try and balance the last two slots of the team.
To Mamoswine’s credit, I bring it over (or alongside) Excadrill because it’s faster outside of Sand, isn’t weak to Fire, and offers a spread move in Earthquake. I think I’d have brought Mamoswine more if Salamence had worked out, so the way forward may not be to drop both, but rather to figure out how to make the Salamence slot work.
Basic lead combos
Tyranitar + Excadrill
Tyranitar/Excadrill puts tons of pressure on the opponent immediately, and depending on their lead combo you can either safely double Rock Slide or get a Dragon Dance up while your opponent switches or Protects. Against rain leads, your Mega evolution can catch them by surprise, and if they want to Rain Dance with their Scarfed Politoed then you’re pretty ok with that because they only attacked with one Pokemon that turn. You can also scout out this possibility with an innocuous double Protect, which can be seen as a safeguard against Fake Out in normal circumstances anyways. Not Mega-evolving Tyranitar is often wise if you’re Protecting.
Another option this lead combo has is to switch out to Amoonguss while Protecting Excadrill/TTar (or letting them do whatever). As I mentioned, Excadrill + Amoonguss has very good synergy barring the weakness to Heat Wave, in which case Tyranitar + Amoonguss is often the right call.
Often Excadrill, but Rotom-W and Mamoswine works well too. You get to Discharge/Hydro Krump/Whiff while your Ground partner does whatever, and you’re usually in a good spot. Mamoswine + Rotom-W almost guarantees they’ll switch out Landorus-T or Thundurus, which can let you punish their plays with safe move choices like Icicle Crash + Discharge, or Hydro (Donald) Trump + Earthquake. Excadrill can Rock Slide/Drill Run in these instances.
Tyranitar + Rotom-W
Similar to the Rotom-W + Ground lead, Rotom-W/TTar puts good pressure on the opponent and TTar offers good bait for moves like Superpower or Power-Up Punch, which Rotom-W can punish with Will-o-Whiff. This lead combo also brings up the cost-benefit analysis of when it’s a good play to Discharge despite the risk to TTar, so play it wisely but keep it in mind. Switching out to Amoonguss is also a good option for this decision. You can also switch Rotom-W out for Amoonguss without much risk, and then you’ve got TTar/Amoonguss on the field which is a strong pairing.
Improvements to the team
Like I said, Salamence has flopped spectacularly on this team with Rotom-W offering the role of a speedy mon, and M-TTar being really good. I’d like to keep an Intimidate user on the team, but despite Salamence being a good choice on classic Japan Sand, I don’t think it’s right for this team. Mamoswine is tied to that Pokemon slot as well, so depending on what Salamence becomes, Mamoswine either stays or goes. Here are some ideas I’ve had for the Salamence slot:
I’d love to have a Fire type to round out a Fire/Water/Grass core and Arcanine offers Intimidate and Snarl for control. Unfortunately, it would also make the team even more Earthquake weak, so that doesn’t sound like a great idea, but I think the way to build this team is to say “nuts to shared weaknesses, if it works it works.” That teambuilding philosophy is what our Oregon Regionals teams have been built like; Oregon 2013 had like… 3 Rock weaks and 3 Fighting weaks with almost no resistances, Oregon 2015 had 4 ice weaknesses and it still took 2nd place. You’ve got Rotom-W to scare away Landorus-T, and you Intimidated Landorus-T to boot. If Arcanine goes on the team, I think Mamoswine needs to become something with ground immunity and a good matchup against Landorus-T.
Charizard would give me my Fire type, a ground immunity, and an alternate mega for teams where Tyranitar has trouble. You could even bring Tyranitar to games where you Mega Evolve Charizard, as Tyranitar is a competent non-Mega even without an item (as evidenced by its successful use of situational items like Weakness Policy).
The problem with Charizard is that I lose an Intimidate Pokemon on the team. Maybe I’m over-valuing Intimidate, considering I don’t bring Salamence as is and the team finds a way. But I would really like the option to Intimidate. Still… I think Charizard is definitely worth trying out.
As terrible as it sounds, Moltres is another option for the Charizard slot. I’d expect Moltres (and perhaps even Charizard) to run Hidden Power Ice. It’s a very niche Pokemon, but it would let you bring M-TTar, and then Moltres as a fairy-resist/ground-immunity. One thing I’ve decided in building this team is “don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.” Mega Tyranitar was far better than I expected it would be, and the team has made some pretty unique choices fit already. To be effective, I think Charizard/Moltres would have to partner with…
Landorus-T functions in the Salamence role just fine, while also offering Mamoswine’s Earthquake. If you used one of those fancy special Landorus’ then you could run Earth Power and HP Ice instead, though Excadrill is holding the Life Orb on the team. Landorus-T would fill the role well as a physical attacker, but you’d need a special attacking partner, preferably with an immunity to Ground. Rapha and Toler’s Choice Bandorus seems like it would fit onto the team. What Landorus needs is something that can be an Earthquake partner, and preferrably something with good synergy for switching.
Another option with a surprisingly deep movepool (and a likely a Focus Sash as its item) is Krookodile. Krookodile would give the team a Snarl user with Intimidate, like with Arcanine, and an Earthquake user with Knock Off, like Landorus-T. Both moves are useful for their utility.
Like Krookodile, Weavile would offer Knock Off. Like Mamoswine, Weavile would offer a STAB Ice attack, and has speed which means you wouldn’t need Ice Shard (though you could use it regardless). If Mamoswine worked with Ice Shard, Icicle Crash and Earthquake, I don’t see why Weavile wouldn’t work similarly well with Knock Off > Earthquake. Weavile of course also gets many utility moves like Snarl, Taunt, Feint, Fake Out, Icy Wind, Low Kick, and even Leer. Weavile is definitely an intriguing choice for the team to replace Mamoswine, but I’m not sure what would become its partner. Focus Sash is a fine item for a more utility-oriented Weavile, while Expert Belt would mesh better if you wanted Low Kick. I’d be inclined to go for utility and try: Icicle Crash / Knock Off / Icy Wind / Protect. Focus Sash Greninja would work quite similarly, replacing Icicle Crash for Ice Beam, and offering coverage (e.g. Grass Knot, Extrasensory) instead of Knock Off, or Taunt > Knock Off perhaps.
I wouldn’t knock the niche mons before trying them, as I genuinely think something a bit out there could be the best way to move forward with the team. What I do know is that I don’t need Aegislash because Excadrill and Amoonguss already invite enough Fire weakness (and resist Fairy just fine), and Salamence wants Aegislash as its partner, and without it doesn’t fit well on the team.
As it stands, the team actually works quite well, so by no means should you take my discussion of replacement mons to suggest that the team needs a lot of tinkering. But moving forward, I think the team should drop Salamence, and possibly Mamoswine, and you shouldn’t be shackled by standard thought processes in replacing them.
Right now, all the spreads are standard 252 spreads, but I’m sure I could find some wiggle room if I looked.