Hello Hat Lovers!
I’m back from Boston where I played in the world championships. I’ll be looking at the team I played and how I ended up playing it, as well as how my matches went during the event.
Team Building After Spring Regionals:
I did commentary for the first three rounds of the Utah Premiere Challenge before Utah Regionals. One of the teams I saw used Mega Sableye, and it seemed like a fun team. One team with Mega Sableye also made top cut during Spring Regionals. After seeing this I was interested in making a team with Mega Sableye. At this point I had maxed out on Premiere Challenges and decided to play joke teams for the last two in Victoria. I brought Sableye to the first of these Premiere Challenges and I made top 4 with it (much better than the Mega Beedrill team I used the next day). Here is what I had on the team:
This team supported Sableye but it didn’t have a lot of offensive pressure and would struggle against teams that could apply a lot of immediate pressure with special attacks. After the PC I continued to play the team on Showdown with Heatran and Salamence over Terrakion and Gardevoir. T
For Nationals I built a number of teams around Salamence and Aegislash, including a Hail team consisting of Salamence, Aegislash, Rotom-F, Abomasnow, Heatran and Clefairy. I played this team in the IC and learnt that while Scarf Rotom-F with 100% accurate Blizzard is really good Abomasnow is really bad so I dropped that team. I continued to build teams around Salamence and Aegislash but in the end I decided that my Spring Regionals team was my best play for Nationals.
Team Building for Worlds
After going 6-3 at Nationals and missing out on Day 2 I decided to retire my Spring Regionals team (for real this time). I was a fan of the Charizard/Sylveon/Aegislash/Landorus core and tested out all the teams from Nationals that used them. The team I liked the most was Imouto Island’s sun team used by Angel, Jeudy and Jun (which I call Imouto Sun). This team was my back-up plan in case I couldn’t find anything else I liked.
Outside of Charizard teams I also tried to make teams using Mega Salamence and Pokemon that I thought were good for the metagame at the time like Cresselia, Rotom-H and Conkeldurr. I never refined these ideas to the point where I felt good using them. Nothing I made seemed to click as I kept playing half-baked teams that wouldn’t survive the high level of competition at Worlds. In the days before Worlds it seemed like I was going to use Imouto Sun.
On the flight over to Boston I got the idea to use Gravity on Mega Sableye. There seems to be some misconception that Electric types are weak against Ground type moves, and I think Gravity is at fault. Gravity is a move that removes the Ground immunity from Electric and Flying types, as well as Levitate and Air Balloon users. A lot of common Pokemon that are immune to Ground moves are actually weak against it when they lose this immunity. Over the course of the flight I thought about what I wanted to play and I decided to go with the following:
The final version of the team was very similar to Imouto Sun with Sableye over Jellicent and a few move and EV changes. When I told my friends that I was running Mega Sableye for Worlds they mostly thought I was crazy. While three of my friends that I told were playing on day one I didn’t mind.
Charizard-Mega-Y @ Charizardite Y
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 24 SpA / 8 SpD / 212 Spe
IVs: 1 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 SpD
– Solar Beam
– Hidden Power [Ground]
I wanted to use Charizard for Worlds because it did well against Steel and Fairy types. I chose Flamethrower as my Fire attack for its accuracy and to be able to play around Heatran/Wide Guard. Looking back I don’t know how I used a 90% move as my main attack in 2014. Back then accuracy would’ve been the only reason to use Flamethrower because Heatran didn’t exist and Wide Guard was much less common. This season I’ve been trying to avoid low accuracy moves or at least avoid using them as my main attacks. I chose Hidden Power Ground so that I could beat Heatran 1v1 with Charizard.
My EV spread is the same as the one I used in VGC 2014 (aside from the change in IVs due to Hidden Power). This Charizard survived Return from Jolly Kangaskhan and Rock Slide from un-boosted Garchomp. Surviving Landorus’s Rock Slide and Kangaskhan’s Double-Edge took too much investment so I relied on Intimidate for these attacks. The investment in Speed put Charizard above max speed Gyarados. I noticed that all the Charizard spreads I saw at Nationals used slightly less speed than mine. At Worlds my Charizard was faster than every other Charizard I faced.
Throughout the season I haven’t been a fan of Sylveon. I recognized that it is a great Pokemon and needs to be respected, but I never enjoyed using it. Being slower than most of the metagame and having few options against Wide Guard made Sylveon made Sylveon difficult to use effectively. I was able to appreciate it on this team because Fairy compliments Fire and Ground attacks nicely. Hyper Voice trades well with Pokemon that don’t resist it like Rotom and Thundurus. Helping Hand allowed Sylveon to boost a partner before it would go down.
The defensive portion of the spread was taken from Imouto Sun. I didn’t want to speed creep other Sylveon and Aegislash unless I was going to invest enough that I would be very confident that I’d out-speed them, so I put the speed EVs into special attack. As a result I was able to attack Aegislash in blade form instead of shield form which came into play a couple times.
Since Life Orb was taken by Landorus I went back to a Substitute/Leftovers set. Substitute Aegislash has a huge advantage over other Aegislash. I dropped Flash Cannon to fit Wide Guard. My team was weak against a lot of spread moves so I needed Wide Guard to help against these. Everything on my team was slower than Scarf Landorus so I wanted to be able to block Earthquake and Rock Slide.
My EV spread gives Aegislash an HP total of 161 which is a good number for Leftovers and Substitute. I invested more speed than any Aegislash reported from Nationals and I under-sped Quiet Gardevoir by one point. The rest was dumped into special attack. Losing out on Life Orb reduces Aegislash’s damage output but the survivability I gained from Leftovers and Substitute was worth it.
Sableye @ Sablenite
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 236 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
Of all the Pokemon on the team Sableye needs the most explanation. Sableye can disrupt a lot of the most common Pokemon in the metagame. Sableye can burn Kangaskhan and Landorus with Will-O-Wisp, and if the opponent has Heatran on their team Snarl punishes the obvious switch in. If Sableye mega evolves Thundurus will be unable to Taunt it and Amoonguss cannot Spore it. Once the opponent is burnt or Snarled Sableye can try to stall them out with Recover while they get worn down by burn/sand. The most glaring weakness to Sableye is its Fairy weakness, which makes it tough to bring against Sylveon and Gardevoir. At the very least neither of the two can touch Sableye & Aegislash through Wide Guard.
On the flight over to Boston I had an epiphany: Gravity would allow Landorus to KO so many Flying types and Levitate users that thought they were safe against it. I could even bait opposing Landorus into KOing their own Thundurus, Charizard, etc with Earthquake. Sableye filled the role Jellicent had on the team, but didn’t add further weaknesses to Electric, Ghost and Dark. Gravity also made every move on my team 100% accurate.
I never once used Gravity at Worlds. The problem was that I only wanted to use it in a situation where the opponent would feel completely safe from Landorus (or their own Landorus) but my Landorus threatened Flying types with Stone Edge and I never had Sableye in against Landorus and a Ground weak Flying/Levitate Pokemon. Had I stuck with Quash my match-up against Life Orb Thundurus would be improved.
Overall Sableye was underwhelming for me, but I don’t regret using it. North America downplayed Kangaskhan going into Worlds but Japan brought it and swept with it. There were a couple Smeargle as well that Sableye would’ve been able to handle. I didn’t face a single Kangaskhan so Sableye didn’t get to face its best match-up at all. If I hadn’t used Sableye I would’ve had Jellicent in this slot which would’ve been equal to or worse than Sableye in every match I played.
I’m normally a fan of trying to use a Pokemon optimally and take full advantage of its strengths, but I warmed up to special Landorus quickly. Special Landorus betrays the opponent’s expectations of it completely. After a season of Scarf and Assault Vest Landorus roaming around being able to Protect is something players don’t often anticipate. Not being hampered by Intimidate is also fantastic, as is winning the Landorus mirror when normally two Landorus Intimidate each other and either switch out or drop Rocks on each other fishing for flinches. Earth Power bypasses Wide Guard and can KO most Heatran even if they had Shuca Berry. Earth Power is also the only safe Ground move to use if I’m planning to use Gravity. While I hate inaccurate moves with a passion I still kept Stone Edge for its potential to OHKO Charizard, Thundurus and Rotom-H. I’d rather be salty over losing on a 20% chance than lose 100% of the time because I didn’t have the option. Superpower was also a consideration over Stone Edge because it hit Kangaskhan and Tyranitar harder and didn’t have the chance to miss, but I decided that Superpower wouldn’t do that much for me where Stone Edge did.
As someone who wants to make the most of their base stats I was tempted to use Landorus-Incarnate since it had better stat allocation and I could get Sand Force boosts with Tyranitar. In the end I decided that my team needed Intimidate to help Charizard and Sylveon survive attacks. Intimidate also let my check my opponent’s Landorus’s speed.
On Friday night I was debating if I wanted Tyranitar or Heatran on the team. Heatran would’ve been better against Fairies, but I decided Tyranitar was better for the team overall. Tyranitar is better against Thundurus and Kangaskhan.
Tyranitar gave me another way to control the weather. Against Rain teams Tyranitar makes it harder for the opponent to keep their preferred weather in play and against opposing Sun teams Tyranitar is a huge threat. Because of Sand Stream Tyranitar has an amazing special defence stat which made it one of the few things that could switch into a Draco Meteor. Tyranitar was also the only Pokemon on the team that was faster than positive natured base 100s.
I normally don’t like Tyranitar against Landorus because most players run Scarf I figured at Worlds more players would be using other sets and Tyranitar would be able to Ice Punch them before they could attack Tyranitar.
The trip to worlds was a bit of a thing. The earliest flight I could book left Thursday morning at 6AM and arrived at 5:54PM, leaving me just over an hour to get to registration from the airport. Thankfully I made it to the registration desk within the last 10 minutes before it closed and got my worlds bag. I met up with Rapha and Justin and we got ready for the next day.
Round 1: VS Jamie Boyt (GB)
Jamie leads Infernape and Thundurus against me in the first game. I play defensively on the first turn and his Thundurus uses Nasty Plot, so right off the bat I’m in a terrible position. On the second turn Thundurus reveals Protect and Infernape KOs Tyranitar. Jamie basically wins at this point because Thundurus is faster than my entire team and can OHKO most of them.
Looking at my team I see that Tyranitar and Sylveon are the only Pokemon that can contest his Thundurus/Infernape lead. He reads this perfectly and leads Infernape and Ferrothorn. My team already had few answers to Jamie’s and he played around the few options I had flawlessly.
Life Orb Thundurus was definitely something I overlooked while making this team, and I got punished for it. I now need to win 4/5 games to make day 2. I also know that even though I lost the first round I’m still going to be playing a good player in the next round.
Round 2 VS Demitrios (USA)
In the second round I faced Demitrios. Unfortunately I had told Demitrios about my team the night before so special Landorus and Gravity Sableye wouldn’t be surprises to him. I played really badly in the first game, completely outplayed him in the second game and then got outplayed in the third game. I felt like our match-up was really even once I figured out how to play it properly. In the second game I repeatedly punished his safe plays to take a commanding 4-0 win but in game three I expected him not to let me get so many free hits in and attacked into his Protects. At this point I was already at 0-2 and one more lose would prevent me from making day 2. I decided that I would just go in with a good attitude and have fun. I didn’t want to go on tilt and give up any games I didn’t need to.
Round 3: VS Alexander Kuhn (AT)
I faced Hibiki in the third round. In game 1 his Thundurus Swaggered my Sylveon. On the first turn I was surprised to see Swagger because I thought there were better options for Thundurus that didn’t rely on the RNG. I attack through confusion on the first turn. On the second turn I didn’t want to switch Sylveon out and decided to go for an attack since I had the chance to snap out of confusion as well as attack through it. On the third turn I forgot I was still confused but I managed to Protect as he doubled into Sylveon. On the fourth turn I thought I would snap out of it for sure but instead I just attacked through it again. Cumulatively the odds of me attacking each turn were slim but on each individual turn I had the better odds of attacking and I didn’t fall for the gambler’s fallacy. Remember when playing against confusion that you have a better than 50% of attacking on each turn because on the first turn Swagger could miss and on subsequent turns you can snap out of confusion. In game two it came down to Mawile and ~30% Thundurus against Charizard and Sylveon. I was able to hit the Thundurus as it Thunder Waved Charizard while Mawile and Sylveon Protected. I got fully paralyzed as he KO’d Sylveon and then I attacked through paralysis and Iron Head to win the set.
Round 4: VS Yohan Pagonakis (FR)
My memory of these games is pretty limited other than what I wrote down in my notes. I made the mistake of using Sableye game 1 (I must’ve been expecting Landorus to lead beside Charizard/Rotom-W). I lost that game pretty badly, but I gained a lot of information and felt good about the series. In game two I bring Charizard instead of Sableye and am able to win decisively. In game 3 I was expecting him to bring Weavile for the first time to adjust to last game went but I didn’t change things up because I figured that I’d have an easier time handling Weavile with specifically preparing for it than the four he was bringing. He did end up bringing Weavile but I’m still able to beat it handily.
Round 5: VS Cedric Bernier (USA)
I faced Talon in round 5. In game 1 he went with Salamence while I went with Charizard as my mega and he is able to keep Salamence in back until my team is weakened enough that Salamence can clean up. He didn’t bring his best answers to Sableye in the first game so I lead Sableye and Sylveon and managed to win without revealing my last two Pokemon. In game 3 I expected him to switch to Charizard to help beat Sableye so I switched back to my own Charizard. I brought the game to a 4-2 lead while stalling out his Tailwind. I had Tyranitar and Charizard against Rotom-W and 50% HP Charizard in the sand. I switched out Charizard so it could KO Rotom later and used Rock Slide knowing that even if he Protected Charizard and used Hydro Pump or Will-O-Wisp on Tyranitar he couldn’t knock me out of weaken Tyranitar enough to let Charizard survive. Both his Pokemon dodge the Rock Slide and Charizard set up another Tailwind to keep him in the game. Between Protect, switching and good prediction I’m able to stall out his Tailwind while keeping Charizard and Landorus alive to finish off his Charizard and Rotom after Tailwind expired.
Round 6: VS Barry Anderson (GB)
In the final round I faced Barry Anderson to see who would make day 2. Whenever I face players copying his team I consider it to be a free win but playing against Barry himself is a different story. I’m able to win a decisive game 1 catching him off guard with Mega Sableye. Barry had a Life Orb Thundurus which didn’t bode well be me but I bounced back a Fake Tears from Liepard and survived the Thunderbolt and was able to use Snarl and Recover to stabilize. I actually brought Charizard to this match and used it just to knock out Scizor. Going into game 2 I decided I needed Tyranitar to beat Thundurus. Barry didn’t bring Breloom in game 1 and I hoped he wouldn’t see a reason to since I didn’t bring Tyranitar in the first game. Barry adjusted well leaving Liepard behind and bringing Breloom. Between Scizor and Breloom he was able to keep Tyranitar in check and Thundurus was able to roam freely. He got a critical hit Thunderbolt to KO my Sableye, but I’m not sure if it changed the outcome. I felt confident because I brought it down to Aegislash and Charizard VS Terrakion and Scizor. I had kept Wide Guard hidden in game 1 and revealed Substitute so I had hoped he wouldn’t expect a Wide Guard and allow Charizard to KO Scizor. It turns out Terrakion had Rock Tomb so it didn’t even matter. I don’t remember anything about game 3 but Barry playing fantastically and won it cleanly.
With a 3-3 record I didn’t make day 2 of worlds. I would’ve liked to make it to day two but I’m not upset with how I did. I’m very grateful that my matches were pretty clean and devoid of hax. Obviously with inaccurate moves on the team, as well as the existence of Swagger and critical hits games will be affected by the RNG but it never played a huge role in my games and I felt like the more deserving player won each round.
I definitely didn’t play perfectly, I lost game one of two sets because I brought Sableye when I shouldn’t have and in hindsight I feel really dumb for how I played those games. While I didn’t always play it properly it did have its place on the team. Sableye was instrumental for winning my set against Talon and it was the better mega against Barry. There were 79 players in day two, and I had the best record that didn’t make day two, so I like to think I tied for 80th place.
I played the team in the Boston Open. I didn’t want to play and would’ve rather watched the day 2 players but I knew I would regret passing up a chance at CP when it could save me a trip to a third Regionals next year. I went 2-3 and then dropped. I definitely felt the sting of best of one play. Stone Edge and Will-O-Wisp are certainly made for best of three play where you only need to land your 80/85% accurate attacks 66% of the time instead of 100% of the time. I should’ve used a more consistent team like my Spring Regionals team that has very low reliance on inaccurate moves and can only blame myself for allowing so many games to come down to luck.
Season in Conclusion
This season I went from not even thinking about getting an invite to being one game short of making day 2 on two separate occasions. Even though I would’ve made Worlds under last year’s qualification system I never would’ve thought it was worth trying without the increase to 40 invitations.
I feel like I’ve improved a lot as a player this season, but this has only shown me how much room I have for improvement. At Nationals I didn’t adjust between games as well as I could’ve and allowed a couple matches to be decided by the RNG. At Worlds I played a lot of bad first games and had a major weakness to a Pokemon that going to be fairly popular. Hopefully next year I’ll be able to do better in San Francisco.