Hello Hat Lovers! I’m back from the Washington Midseason Showdown. Both Mark and I got top 16 with this team in the elevated PC in Oregon and Mark got top 32 (5-2) with it in the Regionals. I missed out on CP from Oregon Regionals and since I was only planning to go to two Regionals and two Midseason Showdowns I needed to do better in the rest of my events. I’ve also neglected to practise at all because I recently bought a PS3 and have been catching up on all the Tales of games I’ve been missing since 2008. Because of this the only team I was practised with was “The Team”. Even though teams have become better suited to dealing with this team I was still confident that I could do well with it. Mark and I have made some changes to the team since the first PC I used it in. Most notably, we’ve been running Icy Wind Kangaskhan. Here’s the current team:
Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Rock Tomb
I decided at the last moment to run Randy’s physical Groudon. I’ve always preferred special Groudon since it uses only 100% accurate moves and fares better against other Groudon. Physical Groudon is better against Kyogre and Xerneas, but the main reason for using physical Groudon was to have a Rock move so I could hit Flying types in the rain. I think physical Groudon is much better in best of three tournaments while special Groudon gets consideration in best of one events. Precipice Blades let me down about as much as was as to be expected, but there were matches where special Groudon wouldn’t have been able to do its job.
I didn’t end up facing any Thundurus, but Rock Tomb was great as a speed control move and a more accurate move to finish off Kyogre. Precipice Blades makes punishing Kyogre switch ins much easier and lets Groudon actually beat Xerneas 1V1. While physical Groudon is susceptible to Intimidate the two Intimidate users in the format Salamence and Landorus both out speed and lower the power of Eruption anyways.
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 4 HP / 20 Def / 228 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
Xerneas has mostly stayed the same, we added a little more defence because it helps with a couple of Mega Rayquaza’s damage calculations. I considered using a bulkier spread, but I did that at the start of the format and was underwhelmed by its power so I decided against it.
Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 252 Spe
– Draco Meteor
– Hyper Voice
Salamence stayed the same. Salamence is useful in match-ups where I value Intimidate over another Fake Out.
On my team sheet I wrote that Salamence had Tailwind over Double-Edge. In top 8 I got a game loss and had to remove Salamence from my team.
Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Icy Wind
– Sucker Punch
– Fake Out
Before Oregon Regionals people were raving about the Gengar/Crobat/Kyogre/Rayquaza team that was the supposed hard counter to the team. We looked into ways that we could improve our match-up against it without sacrificing too much form other match-ups. For some reason we decided Icy Wind was the move we needed. Speed control is always good and especially so when the opponent doesn’t expect it.
Icy Wind came into play a surprising amount of times during the tournament, and missing Low Kick didn’t hurt very much. Icy Wind didn’t end up being the best play against the intended match-up, but situations arise where Icy Wind can put you in a winning position. With Dialga making its way into the metagame Low Kick will be more important so I’m not sure if we’ll continue using it.
Mark: I was pretty antsy after Virginia was dominated by the big six, and then Nugget Bridge got all hyped up on Gengar/Crobat as a counter. I’d definitely had the most trouble in practice beating Gengar/Crobat teams, so I took this hype pretty seriously as a matchup we needed to solve. The first thing we did was switch to Scrappy Kang which could Fake Out Gengar. In theorymon, this was a good idea, but it hasn’t really affected games.
I also looked at our team and figured that the most dispensable move was Low Kick on Kang; consider that Double-Edge already does ~83-98% to opposing Kang, and we have two fire types for Ferrothorn. Unfortunately I didn’t have any time to practice, so I just spent a week or two theorymon’ing different ways to respond to Gengar/Crobat, and how scenarios would turn out. One idea was to use Crunch Kangaskhan, which was really only going to work once and didn’t really help much outside of hitting Gengar. It also felt redundant to have both Crunch and Sucker Punch on the same moveset.
Eventually I came up with Icy Wind, which lets you match their Tailwind (with Talonflame) and then be faster than both M-Gengar and Crobat next turn. Probably the best part of Icy Wind is that both Gengar and Crobat are EV’d specifically to survive things like Kang’s Double-Edge and Talonflame’s Brave Bird. Icy Wind does that bit of chip damage to give you the calcs you want, and also gives you Speed Control so you can take KOs on the next turn. The other fun part of Icy Wind is that it gives you a Speed Control option when you’re worried about e.g. Groudon speed ties. I never faced any Gengar/Crobat in Oregon Regionals </3 but did get to use it to great effect in beating Gengar/Crobat in UVic’s latest ICPA match (will link to battle videos when they’re up on the ICPA Youtube).
In the Gengar/Crobat matchup, Icy Wind isn’t a one-trick pony either: while you can Icy Wind + Tailwind on T1, you can also just Icy Wind + Flare Blitz/Brave Bird. It forces Gengar/Crobat to stay on their toes in a Bo3. It sounds like Max didn’t get to use it much for Gengar/Crobat either, but found the utility useful in other ways. No matter what, it’s definitely appreciated to have multiple first-turn plays against a Gengar/Crobat lead, and Icy Wind really helps take this matchup from something like ~25/75 to a much more even 50/50. But as Max said… Dialga. Gonna have to reconsider the moveslot for sure. Glad to hear it worked out so well!
Talonflame @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Brave Bird
– Quick Guard
Talonflame is the crux of several match-ups, being able to set up Tailwind and finish off opponents with priority Brave Bird. Quick Guard is also a checkmate against Pokemon like Scizor and Rayquaza that need a priority move to beat Xerneas.
Smeargle @ Focus Sash
EVs: 172 HP / 252 Def / 84 SpD
IVs: 29 Spe
– Dark Void
– Follow Me
– Fake Out
– Spiky Shield
After winning a Vancouver PC with minimum speed Smeargle, I decided to look into a more effective spread. This Smeargle is slower than base 90 Pokemon while maintaining the ability to out-speed Kangaskhan in Tailwind. I’ve been seeing more minimum speed Smeargle on Trick Room teams, so it isn’t as useful against these teams. With this spread Smeargle can actually survive a Double-Edge from -1 Jolly Kangaskhan, making it a potential lead with Salamence against Kangaskhan. On the special side, Smeargle has a very low chance to be 3HKO’d by 4 SpA Cresselia.
Moody can boost these defences to respectable levels, and accuracy/evasion boosts can win games. Speed boosts can be a problem against Trick Room teams and accuracy drops are never appreciated, but I figure I’ll win more games from Moody than not.
The only match-up I was worried about was the dual primal team using Bronzong and Thundurus. For everything else I felt confident that I could win if I played well. This was a serious concern as I knew pretty much everyone from BC was using dual primal trick room teams.
The tournament didn’t get as many players as I expected, and we only had enough for 6 rounds of swiss and CP for top 16.
Round 1: VS Conan Thompson
Conan’s team has the “Boom Room” combo that the VGC w/Hats crew has become so enamoured with. I manage to win game 1 (I’m not entirely sure how). I find out Conan has Lum Berry Amoonguss and Chesto-Rest Dialga to deal with Smeargle so my usually strategy against Trick Room doesn’t work here. Conan adjusts well and is able to win game 2 pretty easily. In game three my winning play is to double into Dialga with Draco Meteor and Precipice Blades to prevent the Trick Room from going up. I end up missing my Precipice Blades so Trick Room goes up and Conan is able to win from there. I wasn’t upset that I missed P-Blades, but I was upset that I switched Groudon at the last moment and it hurt me in the first round.
Now I’m in the same situation as Oregon Regionals 2015 where I lose to Conan round 1 and need to win the rest of my games to make top cut.
Round 2: VS Simon Rivers
My opponent’s answers to Xerneas appears to be Aegislash and Trick Room. Bringing both would concede a mega or a restricted Pokemon, so I only have to deal with one. In game 1 he doesn’t bring either and Xerneas is able to set up with Smeargle’s help. In game 2 he brings Aegislash instead but I lead Salamence and Intimidate it so that Gyro Ball wouldn’t be a KO. Once Xerneas is set up I’m able to sweep through his team again.
Round 3: VS Tracey Traver
My opponent has the team that I was worried about going into Regionals. Thankfully we practised against this team before Oregon and we figured out a couple ways to win the match-up. I have three different potential plays against the Gengar/Crobat lead so I planned to use a different one each game to keep him guessing.
I lead Kangaskhan/Talonflame each game, while I don’t win game 1 (there was a critical hit Extreme Speed that might’ve mattered, I’m not entirely sure) I spooked him out of using Gengar/Crobat for the rest of the set. He switches to a Kyogre/Talonflame lead and I’m able to put myself in good positions through good predictions.
Round 4: VS Sam Jobin
When I see Sam’s team I hope he’ll set up Trick Room so I can put things to sleep with Smeargle. Instead he uses Tailwind with Crobat. Regardless I’m able to use standard Xerneas/Smeargle tactics to win the set 2-0.
Round 5: VS Nicholas LeCrampe
My opponent just beat Rapha on stream, so I saw that he had Taunt Terrakion. In game 1 he leads Terrakion/Togekiss against my Xerneas/Smeargle, leaving him unable to stop the Geomancy. In game 2 he leads Weavile/Xerneas and he’s able to set up Geomancy alongside me. Talonflame allows me to KO his Xerneas while keeping my Xerneas above 50%. He needed an Extreme Speed critical hit to win but instead he used Dragon Ascent and hoped I would misplay into a loss.
Round 6: VS Hongyu
I had done well to dodge Vancouver players for as long as I did, but in the end I had to face Hongyu to make cut. He destroyed me 4-0 in game 1. I’m able to adjust to the team and manage to maneuver to a win in the last two games. This was a match-up where I needed physical Groudon in order to have a chance of winning.
True to form I’m able to win out after losing to Conan in round 1. I hand in my cartridge before top cut and go out to clear my head. When I get back I find out that I wrote Tailwind on Salamence on my team sheet. The penalty is removing Salamence from my team and getting a game loss in game 1 of top 8. This is an unfortunate penalty but I’m just glad I didn’t get disqualified and lose out on CP entirely.
Top 8: VS Jake Hwang-Twigg
Thankfully there is no need to bring Salamence over Kangaskhan against Jake’s team. The downside is that I need to win two games while he only needs to win one. This means I can’t afford to lose a game while figuring out his team. In game one he sets up Trick Room as I Tailwind turn 1. I’m able to squeak out a win through a series of good predictions. In game 2 I bring Smeargle in hopes that he would set up Trick Room again but he doesn’t take the bait and is able to set up a turn where Xerneas comes in and I can’t stop the Geomancy. Its a shame that I didn’t get a chance to play game 3 but I have no one to blame but myself.
Overall the team did about as well as could be expected. Any team that didn’t have concrete answers to it would be a simple 2-0, while teams with good answers can still be defeated with good predictions. A lot of my matches were only won from making hard reads to get out of tough situations. I often felt like I was in a bad spot against the opponents that were better prepared for my team but often when my opponents got into this situation they’d become more predictable and opt for safe plays that were easier to read. I never got a proper chance to see if I could’ve won in top cut, but there’s always next time.