Fire Miss: A VGC 2015 Season Review

Hello hat lovers!

 

I’m Demitri, or as I go by online, kingdjk. For the most part, I had a successful season last year, and I really only used one team with slight variations for the entirety of VGC ’15 (barring Worlds, where I made a pretty large change). I really love the team, and it has results behind it, so I thought a season report about it would be fun for me to write, and interesting for you guys to read. With the format finally coming to an end, I’d really like to share my experiences with it and my thoughts on the format. I finished in top 8 at Oregon Regionals, top 16 at Nationals, and went 3-3 at day one of Worlds.

Original Team Building Process

Back in January of this year, I was seriously struggling at building a team for the new year. I had used the same team for all of VGC 14, and it was based entirely on an idea that wasn’t very viable anymore, which was Mega Garchomp. I needed something new, and I couldn’t figure out anything that worked well enough for me to consider bringing to Winter Regionals. I toyed around with various cores, such as Clefable+Metagross, or Mega Swampert+Togekiss rain. But every team I built didn’t seem to cover every base I wanted to. I couldn’t figure out a team-building method that worked. Eventually I decided to forgo building around a certain core, and I just listed out everything I wanted to beat with my team. I compiled a big list of team compositions, strategies, and modes that I wanted to have an advantageous match up against. I also listed the best 50 Pokemon in the format. I wanted to be able to beat all of those Pokemon and all of those teams using a team of just Pokemon from that list. I wanted a team that could beat the best, while still using the best. Eventually I came up with a team of Terrakion, Thundurus, Mega Charizard Y, Aegislash, Suicune, and Hydreigon. Each Pokemon played a specific role.  Due to the way that the team was built, focusing on beating other Pokemon, rather than just focusing on being strong overall, it ended up with Pokemon that could make use of super effective moves with important coverage, and Pokemon that could resist important attacks. Kangaskhan didn’t really bring much of either, so I felt justified in not using it on the team. I played with the team a lot on Battle Spot from January into early February, and peaked higher on the ladder than I did with any other team. I enjoyed playing with it and I thought it was really solid. I didn’t think it had any glaring weaknesses. I felt really confident going into Oregon Regionals. I ended up finishing in top 8 at the regional.

The team’s main issue was accuracy, with the focus being around abusing Heat Wave and also Rock Slide. Over the year, I learned how unreliable those moves are and I would say they are the team’s largest downfall.

Anyways, I’ll get right into the details of the original team.

Top 8 Oregon Regionals Team

Terrakion

Terrakion @ Lum Berry
Ability: Justified
EVs: 4 Hp / 252 Atk /252 Spe
Jolly Nature
-Close Combat
-Rock Slide
-Double Kick
-Protect

A pretty standard Terrakion, but with Double Kick. I chose Terrakion for this team because of its ability to beat a lot of common Pokemon such as Kangaskhan, Thundurus, Heatran, and Bisharp. Terrakion also has a really appealing stat distribution, and a solid enough movepool to back it up. It was great. Lum Berry was chosen because of how much it helped in the Thundurus Matchup, and Double Kick was used because I wanted to break Heatran Substitutes, KO Bisharp through Sash, and have a fighting move to finish things off without lowering my defense. I thought it was good back in early VGC 15, but I still regret using it. All it did was KO one Weavile through Focus Sash, and I ended up losing that match anyway. Terrakion was probably the second-most important member of this team. Terrakion+Charizard was a really powerful combination, similar to Charizard+Landorus. Terrakion came to almost all of my games at Regionals, and really carried its weight throughout.

The decision between Terrakion and Landorus on this original team was difficult. I chose to forgo Intimidate and Ground STAB for Rock and Fighting STAB, as well as the ability to outspeed and KO Kangaskhan immediately. Terrakion had the advantage of being faster than a lot of important Pokemon without the need for scarf. Eventually I ended up with both Terrakion and Landorus on the team, but I’ll go into that later.

I thought Terrakion was an amazing Pokemon in the early metagame, and I’m one of the few that still think it’s pretty good now. Its stats are distributed ridiculously well and it has amazing STAB coverage. Also, the fact that it can do what it does and have one free move slot is really good. There are so many cool options for that last move slot, and it gives Terrakion a bit of a surprise factor as well as the ability to be molded to different teams.

Thundurus

Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 252 HP/148 Def/80 SpD/28 Spe
Calm Nature
-Thunderbolt
-Hidden Power Ice
-Thunder Wave
-Taunt

Thundurus is just ridiculously good. The ability to beat Salamence, offer really powerful speed control, beat bulky waters, and taunt things was extremely valuable to this team. Thundurus+Terrakion was one of my favorite combinations, Thunder Wave+Rock Slide is amazing, but other than that, the ability to paralyze rain team members, slow down Salamence, dish out a lot of damage to Landorus, and being able to Taunt Aegislash just complimented Terrakion really well.

The spread allowed Thundurus to outspeed Breloom, survive Adamant Kangaskhan Double Edge, and survive LO Hydreigon Draco Meteor. Since Thundurus’ role was to T-Wave most of the time, a bulky spread fit well.

Other than that, there’s not much to say really, Thundurus is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a really strong Pokemon and I think it fit really well on this specific team.

Charizard-Mega_Y

Charizard @ Charizardite Y
Ability: Blaze
EVs: 252 HP/4 Def/76 SpA/12 SpD/164 Spe
Modest Nature
-Heat Wave
-Solar Beam
-Overheat
-Protect

This is my favorite Mega in the format. I’m not saying it’s the best for all players by any means, but personally, I really like how Charizard functions and how it has to be played in order to be successful. People say that a team has to be built around Charizard, and Charizard can’t just be put on any team that needs a Mega. This is, for the most part, true, but when a team is in need of a fire type, and does not have a Mega Chaizard can just be splashed on there and easily carry its weight. Also, when a solid team composition naturally supports Charizard well, I think it is the 2nd best Mega in the format. The latter case is more applicable to this team. Within the overall team composition I first constructed, Charizard was the best fit to have as a Mega Evolution. I went with it and it was great.

I went with the standard moveset back then, and it worked well. I honestly feel that I used Overheat about as much as Heat Wave with this team. Terrakion could chip things with Rock Slide, and then Charizard could come in and KO most of the format. Overheat was really effective for me. The only negative effect of Overheat was the necessity of an additional fire move, hence Heat Wave. I had a really spread move-based play style back then, so Heat Wave was good to have anyways though.

The spread allowed Charizard to survive Garchomp Rock Slide, not because I thought Garchomp was super relevant or anything, but moreso because I just liked the amount of bulk that I had at that point. It also survived Choice Specs Hydreigon’s Draco Meteor. Physically Bulkier would’ve been better for this event, as surviving Salamence’s Double Edge in top 8 would have been huge. It also outsped Smeargle by 2, which I thought would be a relevant mark to hit, due to my only experience coming from VGC ’14, but it really wasn’t. I should have gone a lot slower at this event, or moved Evs from Special Attack to speed. I did make changes to this spread, but I’ll cover that later. The other EVs were dumped into Special Attack.

Charizard was amazing. I don’t really know if I’ll ever be as comfortable with a single Pokemon as I was with Charizard at the end of the season.

Aegislash-Shield

Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 252 Hp/252 SpA/4 SpD
Modest Nature
-Shadow Ball
-Flash Cannon
-Wide Guard
-King’s Shield

A pretty standard Weakness Policy Aegislash. Wide Guard was awesome next to Charizard because many players would have Rock Slide as their only rock move on a team, and I could really punish those sorts of people and allow Charizard to deal damage at a lesser risk. I’d say, that if this team was built around a core, that core would be Terrakion+Thundurus+Charizard+Aegislash. Their types covered each other well, and they could all support each other through moves really effectively.

Aegislash is arguably the best non-Mega in the format. I don’t think I agree with this statement anymore, but back around Oregon Regionals, I did. The ability to switch between base 150 offenses and defenses at well is pretty ridiculous. Prior to actually constructing team, I knew it was a Pokemon I wanted to use on my Regionals team.

I went Modest in order to take a bit of an advantage from Suicune’s Tailwind. I could have invested more speed, but I didn’t think it was worth it at the time.

I’ve brought Aegislash to every sanctioned tournament I went to in 2015 except the recent NorCal Regionals. I’ve used it at every sanctioned tournament in 2014 except two, which were Seattle Regionals in 2014 as a senior, where I used Klefki as my Steel type, and a Premier Challenge in November of last year, where I opted for Lucario. Needless to say, I’m comfortable with using this Pokemon, and I think, especially in Aegislash’s case, that comfort is extremely important when it comes to competitive play.

Suicune

Suicune @ Leftovers
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 236 HP/116 Def/100 SpA/36 SpD/20 Spe
Bold Nature
-Scald
-Ice Beam
-Tailwind
-Snarl

Suicune was chosen as an answer to Landorus and Heatran, as well as offering a different form of speed control to the team. It was my bulky water of choice this year. It’s stats were appealing to mean Tailwind was really useful. I had Snarl because I thought it would be a neat option to increase the longevity of my offensive Pokemon, but it was quite frankly terrible. I only really put it to use in one game at Oregon, and I could have easily won without it. Suicune wasn’t amazing for me overall in Oregon, but it wasn’t terrible. It did its job, beating Landorus and speeding up Charizard and Hydreigon. It didn’t do too much else. I think Suicune is a really powerful Pokemon, but I don’t think I used it optimally at Oregon, mainly because I used Snarl, which was almost a wasted moveslot.

The spread allowed Suicune to outspend Scarf Landorus under Tailwind, which is obviously necessary. Other than that, it survives +1 Mega Salamance Double Edge and has enough firepower to OHKO most Landorus and Salamence. The rest of the EVs went into SpD. The spread was pretty good at the time. The bulk seemed just right for the metagame at that a point.

Not much else to say about Suicune, it fulfilled its role and did what it needed to do.

Hydreigon

Hydreigon @ Choice Specs
Ability: Levitate
Evs: 68 HP/252 SpA/188 Spe
Modest Nature
-Draco Meteor
-Dark Pulse
-Fire Blast
-Earth Power

Hydreigon was put on the team for its useful resists and coverage, as well as being a secondary nuke alongside Charizard. Choice Specs Draco Meteors and sun boosted Fire Blasts were extremely powerful. Earth Power was also there for Heatran, which the original five didn’t have as good of a matchup against as I would’ve liked. Dark Pulse made it so I had two Pokemon which which could deal with Aegislash well.

The spread allowed Hydreigon to outspend my own Charizard by one, since I did not want to be unsure of who would move first. Max Special Attack was used since Hydreigon’s was to nuke things, and max Special Attack allowed it to do so. The rest of the EVs were dumped in HP for some bulk.

Hydreigon was the least used Pokemon on this version of the team. I didn’t think it offered enough which my other Pokemon didn’t offer already. The resists were really nice to have, and Hydreigon and Aegislash’s synergy was great. I didn’t run into many games where I thought Hydreigon had a good matchup, with Kangaskhan and Scarf Landorus everywhere at the time, so I don’t think it was worth using then.

Results

I managed to finish in Top 8 after cutting at 8th seed with 6 wins and 2 losses. I lost to the eventual winner Conan after a pretty lopsided game 1 in top 8 and a tight game 2 where it came down to whether or not his Salamence would Double-Edge into King’s Shield, or Dragon Dance instead, he made the right call and I lost the set. I played Rapha in round 4 and won due to an amazing team matchup. I also played Max in round 7, and lost in a pretty luck based set. I took an early advantage to a Rock Slide miss, but he managed to flinch me multiple times in a row to win. The tournament was overall a great experience for me, and I was really glad to earn my second (but also my last) Regional top cut of the season.

Thoughts after Oregon

After making top 8 at Oregon, I had a a few changes in mind for the team. I decided that I really didn’t like Weakness Policy on my Aegislash, and it was pretty awkward under Tailwind. I also really wanted to change Snarl on Suicune. I also needed a new move for Terrakion, since Double Kick was underwhelming. While testing on Battle Spot, I played Hayden, who, after our game, suggested that I try out Landorus on the team. I had already considered Landorus over Terrakion, and decided against it, because I felt too weak to Kangaskhan at that point, but I realized then that I could replace Hydreigon instead. I ended up bringing the six of Terrakion, Thundurus, Charizard, Aegislash, Suicune, and Landorus to two Spring Regionals, where I placed Top 32 and Top 64, as well as US Nationals, where I finished in Top 16.

The team I used at Regionals and the team I used at Nationals were really similar, and since the US Nationals version of the team was much more successful, I’ll cover that one in full detail. It’s the team I’m probably the most proud of out of any I’ve ever built. It fit me as a player, and it covered everything I wanted it to. It reflects what I want in a team perfectly. 

 

Top 16 US Nationals Team

(Changes from Oregon italicized)

 Terrakion

Terrakion @ Focus Sash
Ability: Justified
EVs: 4 Hp/252 Atk/252 Spe
Jolly Nature
-Close Combat
-Rock Slide
-Rock Tomb
-Protect

Rock Tomb rocks!

I am convinced, that on Charizard teams, Rock Tomb Focus Sash Terrakion is the best set to use. I had the idea one day, when an opposing Terrakion on Battle Spot hit my Charizard with Rock Tomb through Wide Guard. I had been testing various moves in Terrakion’s last slot at the time, but I had not considered Rock Tomb. I used Quick Guard, Stone Edge, Earthquake, and even Helping Hand. Rock Tomb beat out Wide Guard and provided a slightly safer option than Rock Slide when I really needed to connect with a Rock attack. It also dealt slightly more damage to its target than Rock Slide would. The main original appeal of the move to me though, was its ability to put Charizard into an advantageous position against opposing Scarf Landorus. After Rock Tomb, I was unthreatened and could fire off a Fire move of choice. Rock Tomb+Heat Wave KOd Scarf Landorus a lot of the time, but Rock Tomb+Rock Slide+Heat Wave allowed me to be very confident in picking up the KO. Focus Sash allowed me to always get a Rock Tomb off against opposing Landorus. Rock Tomb also made my Salamence matchup a bit better, allowing Terrakion+Charizard to consistently beat a single Salamence in end-game scenarios. More than anything Rock Tomb was a win condition disruptor. It could put me into positive positions against unsuspecting opponents. I could change situations from looking like I would certainly lose, to situation where I would win. No opponents would take Rock Tomb into consideration when identifying their win condition and constructing their game plan, and I used that to my advantage with the move. It was great.

Other than Rock Tomb, this was a pretty standard Terrakion, and it did Terrakion things. Terrakion+Charizard was a really strong lead for me throughout Nationals, and I think it was my most used lead with the team. I liked Focus Sash more than Lum because it came into play a lot more, and defensive Thundurus wasn’t enough of a problem to justify Lum over the large benefit Sash provided. Sash was lot better against Japan Sand, which was ridiculously popular at the time, as I could take Excadrill’s Iron Head or Ground move if necessary, as well as Tyranitar’s Superpower.

Thundurus

Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
EVs: 228 HP / 104 Def / 4 SpA / 80 SpD / 92 Spe
Calm Nature
-Thunderbolt
-Hidden Power Ice
-Thunder Wave
-Taunt

Same Thundurus set, new spread. This spread allowed me to survive Adamant Kangaskhan Double Edge all of the time. It also survived Life Orb Hydreigon Draco Meteor, which was not really that relevant, but I liked the amount of bulk the benchmark gave me, and it was similar to what I had before. I invested more into speed than before, mainly because I wanted to outspeed other Thundurus more often, and this speed number put me at a point where I wasn’t compromising too much bulk but was outspeeding a good amount of opposing bulky Thundurus, allowing me to Taunt them first.

I felt that all of the moves were necessary to the team, so I opted to keep them all, although Protect would have been nice to have at times. I don’t regret the set choice though.

Not much else to say that hasn’t already been mentioned, Thundurus, and this set in general are pretty self-explanatory. I felt the reliable and permanent speed control along with another way to hit Waters was essential at the time. Also Taunt let me set up cool pins in combination with Charizard, which was always fun to pull off. Preventing Protects is more important than most people believe.

Charizard-Mega_Y

Charizard @ Charizardite Y
Ability: Blaze
EVs: 132 HP/180 Def/4 SpA/4 SpD/188 Spe
Modest Nature
-Heat Wave
-Solar Beam
-Overheat
-Protect

This was my favorite bulky Charizard spread at the point of Nationals, it outspeeds Adamant Lando, which was useful because of Terrakion’s Rock Tomb or my Landorus’ Knock Off, as I could slow down opposing Landorus or just get rid of their scarf, meaning I could just outspeed and KO what was most teams’ answer to my Charizard. It also survives Jolly Mega Salamence Double Edge all of the time, which was useful in many situations, allowing my Charizard to beat Salamance when supported by Rock Tomb.

The set was the standard for the time, and its main issue was accuracy. Flamethrower Charizard is a lot more reliable overall, and I think that set is actually the best now, but this one got the job done well at the time. This was at least better than my Worlds set, which I’ll get into later.

I think a big focus of this team was setting up Overheat “pins.” Through speed control I was able to often get my Charizard into positions where it could pick up a guaranteed KO, barring the miss chance. Even at -2, Charizard’s damage output was pretty good, and I could then take advantage of my opponents underestimating Charizard’s power or predicting switches

Charizard was my favorite mega in the format, and the one I was the most familiar with, and the one that was responsible for my best results. I used this Charizard set and spread for a really long time. It’s probably my most used single Pokemon set ever.

Aegislash-Shield

Aegislash @ Life Orb
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 180 Hp/252 SpA/76 Spe
Modest Nature
-Shadow Ball
-Flash Cannon
-Wide Guard
-King’s Shield

A faster Life Orb Aegislash, which kind of became the norm around Nats. I actually had the idea to use this set about a week after Winter Regionals, before anyone that I know of did. It worked amazingly. It allowed my Aegislash to outspend max speed Thundurus and Mega Metagross under Tailwind, and also gave me many more options in the Aegislash mirror. Life Orb was unused on the team and I had been thinking about using it on Aegislash for a while. It allowed me to make better use of my Tailwind turns and have better offensive calculations and rolls against everything.

The set was kept the same, Shadow Ball is essential, Flash Cannon let me deal with Sylveon much quicker and gave me an option against Kangaskhan, and Wide Guard was too nice next to Charizard to pass up.

This Aegislash is probably my favorite Aegislash I’ve used. People started shifting to Substitute later in the season but I was so used to the damage output from this one so that set always felt underwhelming offensively. The offensive pressure this one had really fit the team, and it even offered crucial support in Wide Guard. Combine those features with Aegislash’s insane base stats and you have an absolute monster. It was useful in so many situations.

Suicune

Suicune @ Leftovers
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 236 HP/116 Def/100 SpA/36 SpD/20 Spe
Bold Nature
-Scald
-Ice Beam
-Tailwind
Calm Mind

Adding Calm Mind to Suicune was a change I made the night before Nationals, and it is the only last second change I’ve made to a team that REALLY worked. I was originally going to run Protect there, but Hayden gave me the idea to run Calm Mind instead. It allowed me to overcome my main gripe with Suicune, which was its lack of offensive pressure. Using it in conjunction with Tailwind was godlike. As people tried to stall out Tailwind’s turns, I could punish them for it and set up a Calm Mind, which instantly makes Suicune terrifying and forces it to be targeted. The lack of recovery outside of leftovers was never really an issue, as Suicune was not meant to be merely an end-game Pokemon, although it could act as one occasionally. That was a job better suited to Cress. Suicune’s main role was setting up Tailwind and punishing Protects to stall it out. Calm Mind gave me something to do during sun turns under Tailwind when nothing was threatened by Ice Beam too, rather than just fishing for burns or switching.

I chose Suicune over Cress because of the Fire and Water resists, which were very important on this team, because otherwise I would be weaker to those common types than I would want. Also a double Ghost weakness with no resists was something I was not comfortable with. Suicune also has a higher Special Attack stat, which I valued a lot. Tailwind was key as well.

Spread is identical to Oregon. I felt it still fit the Calm Mind set well enough, and I had the mental calculations for it down pretty well.

I’d say that Suicune was the MVP of my Nationals run. The support it offered was amazing, and Calm Mind really patched up my prior issues with it. I should have brought it to Worlds I think, but I’ll explain my decision not to do so later.

Landorus-Therian

Landorus-T @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 164 HP / 132 Atk / 4 Def / 60 SpD / 148 Spe
Adamant Nature
-Earthquake
-Rock Slide
-Superpower
-Knock Off

The biggest change to the team was the addition of Landorus, replacing Hydreigon. Landorus+Charizard was a really popular combination at the time, but I changed it up a bit by using a slow Landorus with Assault Vest and Knock Off. The idea to use Landorus came about after Rock Tomb Terrakion really helped me out in a Battle Spot match against Hayden. He suggested Knock Off as another way to allow my Charizard to beat opposing Scarf Landorus.  I really liked the idea, and Hydreigon was seeming underwhelming anyway so I replaced it and it was a great decision. I really didn’t like the idea of being locked into Knock Off (or any move for that matter, I’m not a fan of choice items in general) so I went with Assault Vest. I didn’t really need the speed with the speed control options I had.

So most would think that having both Terrakion and Landorus on a team is redundant, but I think it works well, especially with Charizard. The two fill very similar roles, but the roles they fill are arguably the most important in the 2015 metagame, and the synergy each have with Charizard is amazing. I often brought both within a single game. It gave me a pretty positive Kangaskhan matchup, which of course was helpful. The rest of the team covers the metagame effectively enough that having two similar Pokemon was not at all a problem.

The spread let me KO Bisharp 15/16 times with Earthquake, which I figured was a high enough chance because Sash would take the hit anyway and Life Orb would faint after one attack. It outsped max speed Modest Heatran. Timid wasn’t huge at the time so this amount of speed was sufficient. Landorus could survive Adamant Kangaskhan Return without Intimidate all the time, and Double Edge most of the time. It also survived basically every Charizard Overheat. A Modest max Special Attack Charizard only had a 1/16 chance of picking up the KO.

Landorus was a strong addition to the team. I think its addition here is pretty representative of Landorus’ constant increase in usage as the metagame progressed.

Results

I finished day one of Nationals with a 7-2 record, with losses in rounds 6 and 7, to Aaron Zheng and James Baek respectively. I started well, and my losses were to really strong players, so my resistance put me at 13th place, which was pretty encouraging. Every set where I won game one in day one I won, and every set I lost game one in day two I lost. Very few of my sets actually went to game three.

Day 2 I finished with a 3-3 record after a 3-1 start. Again, my resistance was high, which manage to put me in top 16 at 15th place. I was really happy at the time because I was sure that earned me my day two invite (which was not actually the case).

On day 2, In the two sets I won game one of, I lost. A strange change from day one. In the four sets I lost game one of, I won three of them. Five out of my six sets went to game three. The higher level of competition led to more enjoyable and close sets, making the day really fun, despite me missing cut. I won against TMSilv3r, Picklesword, and Squirtwo, and lost to Lovetrain, Alex Underhill, and Aaron Zheng (again).

This event put me at 573 CP, and in ninth place in North America, which was absolutely crushing after believing to have made top 8. (I even told my parents I made top 8 earlier, and they were not happy when I told them I actually didn’t). I bubbled Seattle Regionals at 17th place. Cutting would have at least tied me with Hayden at 8th. Also, I lost my last game at Utah Regionals entirely due to a crucial Rock Tomb miss on a Charizard followed by a crucial Rock Slide miss on the same Charizard. Winning that game could have put me in top 16 and earned me that extra 10 CP to tie me with Hayden at 8th. If Rapha lost to Hayden in top 8 of Nationals, that also would have put me in top 8. I was ridiculously close to my day 2 invite, but I didn’t get it. I did realize, that if CP was used as an absolute indicator of skill, I was the best player in North America who would be playing in day one of Worlds, which gave me some much needed encouragement to prepare for Worlds.

Thoughts Between Nationals and Worlds

My sights were set entirely on day 2 at this point. I was disappointed, that despite my performance throughout the year, (Top 4/Top 8/Top 64 Regionals BFL, Top 16 at Nats, and Maximum PC points) I got nothing more than some people who didn’t even top cut a major event. I really wanted to be able to make it through day one and prove something to myself. I team built a lot, but never really came up with anything that I liked better than my Nationals team. I tested Gardevoir+Conkeldurr+Milotic Trick Room, a CharTar team, and a pretty standard Kangaskhan team. Nothing seemed effective enough to me. I spent a lot of time testing, but come Worlds, I still had no team better than my Nationals team. Not having a team was something I wasn’t used to at all, and I was pretty discouraged.

I talked with Conan and Hayden on the way to Worlds, and agreed with them that the CHALK core would be popular at Worlds, considering he number of Japanese players with invites. I did not feel confident with my team’s matchup with CHALK and was desperate to make some changes to it. I decided I wanted to use Conkeldurr instead of Terrakion, because many top players said Terraakion was a bad Pokemon, and although I did not feel the same way, I valued their judgment over my own because I thought they were better than me, which may have been a major mistake. Conkeldurr really helped out with my CHALK matchup, although it did not really fit the tailwind mode of the team well. Suicune was the other Pokemon some players were judging as bad at the time, so I felt replacing it as well was the right decision. I originally though of Cress for Trick Room, but really did not like my Ghost matchup at that point. The Charizard matchup was also not great. Porygon2 was an idea that Conan originally offered to Hayden for his Worlds team, but I liked the idea of using it on mine as well, because it still was a solid Trick Room setter, and it did not possess the weaknesses Cress had when put on this specific team, so I brought it as well. It too greatly helped my CHALK matchup to the point where I felt my matchup with that core was highly in my favor.

3-3 Day One Worlds Team

(Changes from Nationals italicized)

Charizard-Mega_Y

Charizard @ Charizardite Y
Ability: Blaze
EVs:132 HP/180 Def/4 SpA/4 Def/188 Spe
Modest Nature
-Heat Wave
-Solar Beam
-Fire Blast
-Protect

Using Fire Blast on Charizard at Worlds was quite possibly the worst decision I’ve ever made in my life.

The inconsistency of this set is ridiculous. My thought process behind the change was a sort of “go big or go home” mentality. Since I was at Worlds, and the level of competition was so high, I felt that Flamethrower would be too weak, or Overheat’s side effect would be too much. I felt that if I wanted to do well, luck would need to be on my side, so Fire Blast gave me that ability to swing games in my favor that I otherwise couldn’t, as long as I wasn’t unlucky. I missed about the same amount of Fire Blasts that I hit in the first four rounds of Worlds, and it was a major contributor to my 1-3 start. I will forever regret the decision to run it. I should have trusted in my own skills more and went with consistency in Flamethrower or comfortability in Overheat. Having the focal point of my team be so inconsistent was a major mistake on my part.

The spread is the same, because it was what I was used to and I just really liked. Despite the addition of Trick Room to the team, I felt that outspeeding Adamant Lando would be more important. This was sort of a bad call on my end because most Lando I played at Worlds were not even Scarf and most had speed boosting natures, meaning they still beat this Charizard. Timid Special Lando was especially annoying to deal with.

When Charizard hit its moves it was great, but the inaccuracy of the set I chose to use was ridiculous, unfortunately meaning Charizard wasn’t that great that often at this event.

Thundurus

Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Prankster
EVs:228 HP/104 Def/4 SpA/80 SpD/92 Spe
Calm Nature
-Thunderbolt
-Thunder Wave
-Taunt
Swagger

The only change I made to this Thundurus from Nationals was putting Swagger over Hidden Power Ice. With the addition of Conkeldurr and its Ice Punch, I felt that I could forgo HP Ice. I originally wanted to use Protect, but then decided to use Swagger instead to set up a SelfSwag combo with my Conkeldurrr. I was at a loss at which item to give Conkeldurr, since Assault Vest and Life Orb were taken by other Pokemon, and running Swagger here allowed me to justify the use of Lum Berry. Swagger also gave me a way to win games I shouldn’t otherwise, which was appealing in the high level environment of Worlds. I never really put it to much use though.

The spread is the same, and its role is pretty much the same. Offer permanent speed control, and beat waters. I didn’t adapt the spread at all because I was comfortable with it and did not really have time to after making the last second changes that I did.

Aegislash-Shield

Aegislash @ Life Orb
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 132 HP/252 SpA/124 Spe
Modest Nature
-Shadow Ball
-Flash Cannon
-Wide Guard
-King’s Shield

An even faster Aegislash than before, given my switch to Trick Room, doesn’t make sense at first glance, but it worked. I wanted to guarantee my Aegislash was faster than all other Aegislash and Sylveon outside of Trick Room (although there were even faster Aegislash at Worlds, to my surprise). Aegislash wasn’t in Trick Room all that often, and even when it was, Life Orb allowed it to function well, and the speed did not really make that much of a difference. Investing this amount of speed allowed me to be more confident in mirrors and allowed Aegislash to take hits in Shield form against opposing slow teams in Trick Room.

Aside from the slight increase in speed, it’s the same Aegislash as Nationals and it still worked amazingly and never really disappointed me in any of the games I brought it to at Worlds. Definitely one of the best non-megas in the format, despite not having as good of a showing in top 8 of Worlds as the CHALK core. It’s also a personal favorite of mine, and I just have fun using it.

Landorus-Therian

Landorus-T @ Assault Vest
Ability:Intimidate
Evs:164 HP/132 Atk/4 Def/60 SpD/148 Spe
Adamant Nature
-Earthquake
-Rock Slide
-Superpower
-Knock Off

This is literally the exact same Landorus as the one from Nats. I saw no reason to change it. The addition of Trick Room made me want to go slower, and I think I should have, but at the time I didn’t really have time to think out a change and this is what I was by far the most comfortable with, so I went with it.

Conkeldurr @ Lum Berry
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 164 HP/216 Atk/ 12 Def/ 116 SpD
Adamant Nature
IVs:0 Spe
-Drain Punch
-Mach Punch
-Ice Punch
-Protect

Conkeldurr, my replacement for the original Terrakion of the team. I decided to go with Trick Room instead of Tailwind at Worlds, and Conkeldurr was my main abuser of the new form of speed control. Next to Porygon2, which carried BoltBeam coverage, I had ridiculous offensive coverage, power (especially if I snag a Download boost with Porygon), bulk, and I would even be moving first in Trick Room. The Porygon2 Conkeldurr combo was really effective and just fun to play with. I think it fit the team well.

The replacement was pretty straightforward. People said Terrakion was bad, I believed and went with a different fighting type. I had been testing a lot with Conkeldurr before Worlds, so I thought it would be OK to bring onto the team.

The set is pretty self explanatory as well. I felt AV was more important on Lando, so I did not use it on Conk, meaning I could use Protect instead of Knock Off. Drain Punch, Mach Punch, and Ice Punch are all (almost) essential on Conkeldurr, and I felt they fit this team in the best way, so I used them. Lum was chosen because I though the SelfSwag combo with Thundurus would work well, and the only items I would prefer over it, Assault Vest and Life Orb, were taken up by other members of the team.

Conkeldurr helped out a lot in CHALK matchup, since the only thing that really threatened it was Cress, but I had Life Orb Aegislash for that, so it was OK. The Conkeldurr+Aegislash combination was something I found to be really effective, because of their defensive synergy and bulk as well as their complimentary typed attacks.

The spread let me always survive Adamant Kangaskhan Double Edge and Timid Salamence Hyper Voice. The rest went into Attack.

Conkeldurr performed well for me at Worlds, it got its job done. Trick Room was put into play a lot at Worlds for me, more than I expected actually, so Conkeldurr was on the field doing damage a lot. Even outside of TR it worked well, especially in combination with Swagger. Conkeldurr ended up being one of my favorite Pokemon in the VGC 15 format, and I used it a lot post-Worlds as well.

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
EVs: 244 HP/188 Def/44 SpA/28 SpD/4 Spe
Quiet Nature
IVs: 1 Spe
-Ice Beam
-Thunderbolt
-Trick Room
-Recover

Porygon2 is probably the most interesting Pokemon on any version of this team. I thought it was a really strong Pokemon, and although It did gain some deserved popularity post Worlds, it never really was used well before then, especially in North America, so there wasn’t much to base my own set off of at the time.

I chose to use it over Cress because I valued Offensive pressure on this team, because there wasn’t much else to take advantage of Trick Room. Cress wouldn’t really have much to switch to under Trick Room to exert pressure, especially if Conkeldurr was already on the field. Porygon2 allowed me to really take advantage of my Trick Room turns. Also, I felt pretty weak to Charizard after adding Conkeldurr, so I wanted a way to hit it hard, something Cress did not offer. Also my team’s defense against Ghost type attacks would be pretty weak with Cress instead of Porygon2, since I would have 2 weaknesses and no resistances or immunities. It would be easy for an opposing Aegislash (which I expected to be popular, more than it ended up being) to get into a good position to fire off a Shadow Ball.

The set did everything I wanted it to. I knew I wanted Trick Room, so Download was basically a given as my ability choice. Ice Beam was pretty much necessary, and as mentioned above, I wanted Thunderbolt mainly for Charizard, but also for really strong neutral coverage. I also felt Recover would be more useful than a third attacking move, and it definitely was. I think this set is not the best for any team, but for this specific team it worked well.

The spread is something I worked on with Hayden. It has a 63/64 chance to live two consecutive Superpowers from Adamant Landorus, factoring in the attack drop from the first one. It also 2HKOs basically any bulky Thundurus if it gets a Download boost, and always 3HKOs if not. This spread also gave Porygon 2 an 84.5% chance to survive 2 Returns from Adamant Kangaskhan.

Porygon2 acted as my replacement for Suicune, as it offered Ice Beam+Speed Control and a way to take advantage of dead turns. I did really miss Suicune’s water and fire resists though, as the team became a bit weak to those types (especially fire) without it.

Results

I finished 3-3 after a 1-3 start. I lost right away to a Japanese player, yasumatu, the one who used Mega Blastoise to finish 16th, in a pretty tight set. He had Tyranitar instead of Blastoise on day one. He was running a Timid max speed mixed Landorus with Stone Edge, which gave me issues. I did learn in game 2 that Charizard could live a -1 Stone Edge from his Landorus quite comfortably, which surprised me even though I knew it wasn’t Life Orb, as I expected Expert Belt with a bit more attack. I tried to take advantage of this in Game 3, but unfortunately, a -1 Stone Edge scored a Critical hit on one of the later turns on my Charizard, sealing the set. In round 2 I played Max in a really tight set where I managed to win games one and three. His Sableye did absolutely nothing, which was sad. Round 3 matched me up with Ben Irons and I was defeated in what was close to a mirror match. I missed a lot during this set and got flinched, but he outplayed me too and I failed to take a single game off of him.  In round 4 I played Alec Rubin, who had CHALK+Sylveon, which was a matchup I was prepared for. Unfortunately I missed more attacks and was too nervous to play optimally, and lost the set 0-2. I decided to play on for fun, but in round 5, my opponent never even showed up, which was disappointing, but I was given the win. In the final round I played Edward Cheung, the qualifier from Hong Kong, who I managed to beat in a close 3 game set to finish the day 3-3.

I was pretty crushed at not making it to day two. Being just 10 CP away and a bit better of a day one performance away from day two made me one of the closest people to day two of Worlds. My goal when I started playing late last year was always to make Worlds, and I did, but I didn’t feel the satisfaction I wanted. Not having an official placing at Worlds was pretty disappointing. But the event overall was a ton of fun and I really enjoyed having a stress free day two spectating and had a blast watching all the finals. I think that I learned a lot from the event, and although the poor result sent me into tilt and a poor mindset for a while, I improved as a player overall.

I think my main issue at Worlds was a lack of self confidence, I listened to what other players a bit too much and doubted myself and my plays too often. I’m not sure where this mindset came from but it’s still something I’m trying to shake off. Making the decision to run Fire Blast because I did not think I was good enough to make day two with Flamethrower or Overheat was just stupid. I was paranoid that everything I was using up until Worlds was bad and I really should have just found a team early and stuck with it. I have always had a team ready about a month before an event, and I think not having that preparation before Worlds really hindered my play. I had absolutely no experience with Porygon2, and almost none with Trick Room, so bringing a Trick Room Porygon2 to the most important event I’ve competed in, despite how good I think it is, because I doubted Suicune at the last second, was a bad call. Also I was completely unable to overcome tournament nerves, because it was my first Worlds, and I think that really reflected in my poor play and poor record. I couldn’t really think straight throughout the event.

Conclusion

VGC 15 was a lot of fun for me. A lot of players disliked it strongly by the end, but I enjoyed it the whole way through. I don’t have much experience with other formats (just 2014 and the small amount of 2016 we’ve had so far), so my opinion is that valid, but it definitely is my personal favorite VGC format.

I had a lot of fun playing this team throughout the year, and I’m glad I got the chance to write about it and share my thoughts.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading my report! Leave a comment if you have any questions.

 

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