Greetings hat lovers!
This is a collaborative post detailing the team used by Kelvin, Justin, and Rapha at Seattle regional, as well as various other tournaments over the season so far. Kelvin had the strongest finish of us all, as he followed up his Vancouver MSS win with a top 4 finish at Seattle that sealed his worlds invite (you can read his warstory here). Justin finished in the top 8, his fourth regionals top cut in the past two seasons, and Rapha finished 5-2 and top 32, enough to clinch his worlds invite.
When constructing this team, we focused greatly on using a structure and general ideas that have proven to be among the most successful in VGC. Concepts like straying away from frail Pokemon, as well as using ideas that will always be strong – like Intimidate, Trick Room, Thunder Wave, and spread moves – were something we really took to heart in finding as strong of a team as possible in this format. The fine details, like certain moves, EVs, and a couple Pokemon were decided by which match ups we wanted to focus on. We assessed that we’d likely face greater success in using generally strong ideas rather than trying too hard to counter team certain archetypes, seeing as how it’d be foolish to pretend that we had any idea of the exact seven teams we’d face during swiss. This is why at its core, this team bears similarities of teams in the past like CHALK or Trick Room Gardevoir. It may seem silly to talk about how this team came about for us given how standard it is, but the decision to use this at Seattle goes beyond just arbitrarily picking an archetype and personalizing it as much as possible. We spent many, many collective hours fine tuning the team (with the help of some other friends who didn’t attend Seattle), and while we will definitely not settle for the results we’ve had, we’re satisfied with how the team has performed thus far.
As mentioned, our greatest focus with this team came from learning what an objectively good team is built like and applying it to a team in this format as much as possible. While this idea has worked well for the most part, it has made us resistant to using some Pokemon that would be effective if not for the fact that they have flaws that historically don’t perform well at a high level. Pokemon like Weavile, for example (incredibly frail and has a reliance on a high speed stat), was something we were avoiding using, even though many people have shown that Weavile is effective at dealing with problems that double primal teams have. Even the Seattle regional winner himself used Weavile. Sticking to our general principle of using generally good Pokemon is by no means a bad idea, but sometimes, there are exceptions that need to be made.
Even still, we felt that the final product we had going into Seattle was very strong and it will be talked about in great detail in this post.
Salamence @ Salamencite
– Hyper Voice
– Double Edge
Rapha’s spread: 4 Atk / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
Kelvin’s spread: 20 Atk / 236 SAtk / 252 Spd
Justin’s spread: 52 Atk / 204 SAtk / 252 Spd
This Salamence was fairly standard, except the three of us used slightly varied EV spreads. The difference was still largely inconsequential, however. Rapha used maximum special attack because Hyper Voice was far and away the most used move with Salamence, and in combination with our Groudon’s Precipice Blades, it allowed opposing 252 HP / 60 SDef Groudon to be KOed, accuracy be damned. Kelvin used 20 attack EVs to guarantee an OHKO on 252/252+ Amoonguss, and the purpose of Justin’s spread has admittedly since been forgotten.
Tailwind has become a staple on Salamence now, though it still warrants an explanation over Draco Meteor or Substitute. Tailwind was another tool that helped win mirrors, and most importantly, it gave us another option to allow Kyogre make best use of Water Spout. Otherwise, this is the bread and butter set for Salamence, arguably the best mega in the format. Access to respectable bulk, a strong Flying type spread move, great speed, and Intimidate are invaluable. Salamence was the only Pokemon on the team that wasn’t heavily invested in bulk, but with its defense stats, it can hardly be classified as “frail”. Salamence is a strong Pokemon in the mirror because it matches up well versus the primals as well as Kangaskhan, which, for whatever reason, people keep bringing over Salamence (if the opponent has both) even though Salamence is almost always more threatening. Salamence is also a Pokemon that generally matches up well versus RayOgre.
Thundurus @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 220 HP / 80 Def / 36 SDef / 172 Spd
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def / 30 SAtk
– Hidden Power Water
– Thunder Wave
This was the only significant change from the Vancouver MSS. We made the Thundurus faster than Yveltal and base 100s in order for us to attack before it could use Snarl. Often times, Hyper Voice + Thunderbolt would KO Yveltal before it could even move, and the loss in bulk, while somewhat noticeable, was a trade off that still helped the team greatly. One characteristic about this Thundurus set that may appear quirky is the use of HP Water without any special attack investment. This Thundurus is incapable of OHKOing bulkier Groudon, however, this isn’t something we needed to do to make the move effective. Much of the time with a Thundurus + Mawile lead, we would struggle against Groudon, because neither of our primals in the back would appreciate taking a Precipice Blades. With HP Water, however, we would either OHKO Groudon or win the damage trade off because the best it can do is knock Kyogre down to 50%. Without HP Water, opposing Groudon can simply use Precipice Blades versus Mawile and Thundurus without consequence. Lastly, Groudon that were capable of surviving HP Water likely expended too many EVs in bulk and attack, and thus they would be slower than our primals.
What’s worth talking about the most with this Thundurus, though, is the lack of Protect. There simply wasn’t a reason for this other than that we really, really needed these four moves. Taunt is far too important to stop support Pokemon, and as previously mentioned, HP Water was imperative to protect our Mawile. We obviously weren’t going to pass up Thunderbolt and Thunder Wave. Unless Mawile is also being used on the team, Protect is the recommended move over HP Water. Not having Protect made our match up against RayOgre more difficult, and worse yet, greatly limited our options versus Khan Artist. We decided, however, that Yveltal / Groudon teams were too difficult to beat without HP Water, and even without Protect, RayOgre and Khan Artist were still beatable; the match up against them were just more difficult. This was a compromise we had to make with this team, though thankfully none of us faced Khan Artist at Seattle.
The bulk on Thundurus allowed it to survive Origin Pulse, Ice Beam, or Scald from most Kyogre, as well as a +2 Dazzling Gleam from Timid Xerneas. On the physical side, Thundurus could survive a Fire Punch from most Groudon. 220 HP EVs also put it at an even stat to allow Sitrus Berry to activate after a Super Fang.
Kyogre @ Blue Orb
EVs: 172 HP / 212 Def / 76 SAtk / 4 SDef / 44 Spd
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Ice Beam
197 HP Kyogre. The significance of this is that the special defense benchmark we wanted to hit with our Kyogre was to survive two Thunderbolts from 4 SAtk Thundurus, and in order to balance both defenses efficiently while keeping this calc in mind, 172 HP / 4 SDef would always be the starting point. For example, the best way to survive Jolly Life Orb Mega Rayquaza’s Dragon Ascent plus the aforementioned calc was to use 172 HP / 100 Def / 4 SDef, but if we wanted to survive that attack from Choice Band Mega Rayquaza instead, we would use 172 HP / 252 Def / 4 SDef. If we wanted even more physical bulk than that, only then would we increase the HP. Upping the special bulk beyond 172 HP / 4 SDef generally isn’t worth it because Kyogre’s special defense is already immense, and we’d be getting a greater bang for our buck by patching up Kyogre’s lower defense stat instead.
172 HP / 212 Def allows Kyogre to survive two Precipice Blades from Jolly Primal Groudon ~86.5% of the time, accounting for accuracy and critical hits. Admittedly, this isn’t the most comforting percentage, as the odds of us achieving the intended goal was about the same as hitting a Precipice Blades, but it was difficult to justify lowering the special attack and speed. Much of the time we didn’t actually need to survive two attacks: for example, if we switched Kyogre in on a Precipice Blades and it either misses or does less than 50%, the opponent won’t be willing to use Precipice Blades again. Not only that, but the absolute best percentage you can give yourself to survive two Precipice Blades from Jolly Groudon is ~91%, accounting for critical hits and accuracy. Gaining that extra 4.5 percentage points would have been valuable, but not enough to trade Kyogre’s other stats for it.
76 SAtk allows us to hit an 11n number to maximize Kyogre’s special attack with Modest nature. We tried to lower this in order to minimize the damage rolls with its defense, but in practice, lowering the special attack from what was already a minimally invested stat started to rob us of KOes we would have otherwise had. 44 Spd was the crux of this set: we were still able to hit much of the offensive and defensive benchmarks we wanted, but the speed was critical in allowing us to win mirrors against other Trick Room primal teams. Through some shady means, several local players learned of the spreads we had on our primals, but we kept them the same anyway because we felt it was more beneficial not to tinker with our benchmarks than to worry about what was still a small percentage of the player base at Seattle regional.
We chose to use Water Spout and Scald instead of the next most popular alternative in Origin Pulse and Thunder. This was done for one reason: we really, really don’t want to use an inaccurate move when it simply wasn’t necessary. It was more important to us to put more of the game in our control than to have an extra option against opposing Kyogre. That’s not to say Thunder isn’t useful by any means, but we were still able to accomplish the tasks the move helps with, except without having to rely on the RNG for Origin Pulse. It’s far too easy to get burned by accuracy, especially when you have no control over when Origin Pulse will hit or miss, and there is nothing about Origin Pulse that is truly necessary. This isn’t even accounting for the fact that Water Spout is Kyogre’s strongest move, and Scald has nifty secondary effects in its 30% burn chance and the ability to immediately thaw out Kyogre should it get frozen.
This isn’t meant to sound like Water Spout / Scald is unanimously a better choice than Origin Pulse / Thunder. We’re simply explaining our reasoning behind our decision, and at the end of the day, it’s still up to you to decide what you value more with your set. Both combos are more than viable. We simply feel that Water Spout / Scald is the superior choice.
Groudon @ Red Orb
EVs: 204 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 92 SDef / 52 Spd
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Rock Slide
Unlike with Kyogre, Groudon has no good alternative to Precipice Blades, fortunately or unfortunately depending on how good you think the best Pokemon in the format should be. Our Groudon fit the same general theme as Kyogre, as we focused on finding an important defensive benchmark and speed creeping opposing primals.
156 attack EVs with an Adamant nature, is, in general, a comforting number to hit on the offensive spectrum. It is an 11n stat, and Precipice Blades in combination with Kyogre’s Ice Beam and Salamence’s Hyper Voice, allowed us to KO opposing Groudon. Some of the calculations you’ll do with this attack stat may seem wonky, but for whatever reason has never applied itself in practice, and Groudon was strong enough to do its job offensively but not so strong that it was harmed in other areas. The bulk is the most common defensive benchmark on Groudon these days, as it allows it to survive an Earth Power from Timid Groudon, and the speed is for speed creeping. 52 Spd was also significant for other reasons: it puts Groudon one point faster than Kyogre, which means that should both of our other two Pokemon get KOed on the same turn, Groudon and Kyogre can come in with rain up as the weather. This allows Kyogre to still maintain its offensive pressure, while Groudon is still able to use its main STAB move in Precipice Blades. Furthermore, having our primals one speed apart allows us to gauge how fast both of them are in comparison to other Pokemon. For example, if our Kyogre moves before a Dialga, we know that Groudon is also likely faster than it, and if an opposing Groudon is faster than ours, we know that our Kyogre is slower than it also.
Fire Punch and Protect require little explaining as to why they were used, but Rock Slide is the more flexible option on Groudon’s move set. We chose not to use Substitute, because while it is a generally strong move, it leaves Groudon very prone to Salamence’s Hyper Voice and makes Groudon incapable of hitting Flying types if rain is up. Stone Edge was not chosen because of its accuracy, so we settled for Rock Slide. Its poor base power is a big reason why some people dislike it, but a secondary spread move that also hits Flying types was good enough of a reason for us to use it.
Bronzong @ Lum Berry
IVs: 0 Spd
– Gyro Ball
– Trick Room
– Skill Swap
Rapha’s spread: 252 HP / 12 Def / 244 SDef
Kelvin’s and Justin’s spread: 244 HP / 124 Def / 140 SDef
Bronzong is a Pokemon we feel is going out of style, and is the first thing we’ve changed since Seattle. Cresselia’s greater bulk and access to moves such as Icy Wind, Thunder Wave, and Helping Hand make it a better choice than Bronzong in many match ups. However, for Seattle, we chose to stick with Bronzong for no other reason that it gave us a strong match up versus the most common archetype in the game. While Cresselia has many, many attributes that make it a great Pokemon and one of the best performers ever in VGC, it simply can’t compare to how well Bronzong can handle Xerneas teams, as Cresselia lacks valuable resistances to Flying, Normal, and Fairy type attacks that Bronzong has. Not only that, but Bronzong is also able to threaten Xerneas, which makes Bronzong more than a Trick Room bot and a supporter to the primals versus big 6.
Our trump card with this set was Safeguard, and is a direct counter to some anti Trick Room measures people have, the most notable of which is slow Smeargle. This is another case where Bronzong shines over Cresselia: it’s naturally slower than Smeargle, so under Trick Room, we can use Safeguard with little fear and know that one of the opponent’s Pokemon has been rendered useless for a significant amount of time. This gives our primals much more leeway in beating big 6.
Lately, a lot of people having been using Gravity + Hypnosis as the last two moves, but we wanted to avoid this set for multiple reasons. For one, it required too much set up. Second, it simply didn’t have as many important applications as Skill Swap and Safeguard did. There isn’t a match up that we wouldn’t be able to beat without Gravnosis, but Skill Swap has an uncountable number of benefits, and Safeguard is essential to counter some anti Trick Room techs people had on Xerneas teams.
In the future there is a decent chance we will be using Cresselia over Bronzong. Xerneas teams have started to adapt into too many variations that simply can’t be countered by one Pokemon, and as a result, we may choose to use the Pokemon that is better in general situations. However, Xerneas will still always be a top threat, and as a result, Bronzong will always have a place in the meta game. Using both Cresselia and Bronzong like what Hayden has been doing is an option, though we feel that we need that last Pokemon slot to fix more weak match ups.
Rapha’s spread was used more out of comfort because he used 252 HP / 252 SDef Sassy for much of the year out of laziness, but in practice, the spread still performed well. He changed it ever so slightly to guarantee a survival from an Intimidated Jolly Groudon’s Fire Punch, while Kelvin and Justin used a spread that guaranteed surviving a Fire Punch from an Intimidated Adamant Groudon.
Mawile @ Mawilite
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 140 SDef / 12 Spd
– Play Rough
– Iron Head
– Sucker Punch
This set isn’t very interesting, but what’s worth talking about more is how this Pokemon slot changed over time, and the reasons why we chose to use Mawile. This slot started out as Smeargle, as its access to Fake Out and Dark Void helped greatly in and against Trick Room. However, we realized more and more that Gravity on Bronzong was no longer a luxury we wanted (more on that later), making Dark Void less powerful, and that Smeargle was largely mediocre with the rest of the team. We then tested Amoonguss, Kangaskhan, and Mawile in this slot after deciding Smeargle needed to go.
Amoonguss was used because it gave us a stronger match up against RayOgre, Dialga, and Trick Room teams, and was especially strong in the mirror, given how it well it worked with our speed creeping primals. In general, it also helped Kyogre greatly in using Water Spout. However, Amoonguss still didn’t fix the main issues with the team. It merely made some match ups stronger, but didn’t help ones that gave us great difficulty, so like Smeargle, we found it to be a luxury.
Kangaskhan’s role on the team was especially hard to pass up. With Bronzong and primals, Kangaskhan gave us a strong match up against virtually any Xerneas team, because its access to Inner Focus Fake Out virtually guaranteed that we could get Trick Room up. For the most part, all the offense we really needed to beat big 6 came from the primals under Trick Room, and not only did Kangaskhan offer great help in setting up that situation, it obviously isn’t just a Fake Out bot. As great as this sounds in theory, though, Kangaskhan didn’t offer a whole lot in many other match ups. Not because it was bad necessarily, but we simply preferred Salamence in more situations. Not only that, but a lot of Xerneas teams these days aren’t necessarily just big 6, and against some of those teams, Bronzong may not even be brought.
So we came down to the core issue we had: how can we make the most of this sixth slot to fix as many problems as possible? With our other options, we were simply strengthening match ups, but we would still lose to much of the same type of teams. Pokemon like Palkia, Weavile, Kyurem-W, and, most importantly (and this can’t be stressed enough), Yveltal gave us a lot of trouble. Justin suggested we use Mawile, and it was a decision that worked out fantastically. While its speed was sometimes cumbersome and it matches up horribly versus the most common Pokemon in the format (Groudon), Mawile, paired with Thundurus, gave us a strong match up versus most Yveltal teams, as well as strengthening our match up versus Trick Room teams in general. This wasn’t a perfect fix, of course, as having Mawile did cause some problems. As previously mentioned, necessitating the use of HP Water on Thundurus was the biggest one, but we simply couldn’t find a Pokemon that patched as many holes as Mawile did. We even brought it over Salamence in more than the previously mentioned match ups, and overall, it performed very well for us at Seattle.
With its EV spread, we tried to fit the general theme of our team building style, which was to focus a great deal of attention into bulk. For the most part, Mawile’s obnoxiously high attack stat still allowed it to net many KOes even without maximum investment, so we chose to use 116 attack EVs with an Adamant nature. The EVs hit an 11n attack stat, which was done to maximize Mawile’s fire power while still maintaining the bulk we wanted. 236 HP / 140 SDef allowed Mawile to survive every non Water Spout attack from Kyogre. The 12 speed was mainly just to avoid speed tying other Mawile. Not that we worried too much about the Mawile mirror, just that speed tying gives you even less control of situations than outright being slower (though, unintentionally, this Mawile does speed tie minimum speed Smeargle, but this situation has yet to arise). Admittedly, this EV spread is far from perfect, mainly because it is unable to survive Kyurem-W’s Fire and Ground moves 100% of the time. However, unless you are using something like Modest Mawile, most iterations of EV spreads you can use on Mawile will still largely perform the same way. The move set is standard, but it is standard for a reason. There was no reason for us to deviate from Mawile’s four best moves.
Similar to the infamous double genies, this was our most common lead. It’s difficult to explain everything about what makes Salamence + Thundurus so effective, but in general, having Thunder Wave as a lead allows you to paralyze things as soon as possible, which gives you a greater chance of having that 25% work in your favor. Taunt was also useful in not allowing the game be lost to shenanigans from the get go. Salamence’s Intimidate is also powerful as a lead, and having both primals in the back makes it more likely that we win weather wars.
Usually the lead for whenever we bring Mawile. Having Thundurus out with Kyogre in the back gives us more control over opposing Groudon, a Pokemon that is otherwise very threatening to the combo of Thundurus / Mawile / Kyogre / Groudon. Mawile is the common lead instead of Groudon because of Intimidate, and because it fends off threatening Pokemon that caused us to put Mawile on the team in the first place.
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The leads against big 6 or other Xerneas teams. Salamence / Bronzong is the strongest lead versus standard big 6, as we could either set up Trick Room and possibly just let Salamence go down, or switch Bronzong out if the opposing lead is any two of Talonflame / Kangaskhan / Groudon, as Salamence + primal, especially with Intimidate, is very strong against those three. Thundurus + Bronzong is the best option versus Khan Artist on big 6, as well as Trick Room weak teams that have Taunt. Groudon + Thundurus in general is safe versus Xerneas teams with uncommon partners that we aren’t as experienced against, and Groudon + Salamence is a decent option against Xerneas teams with Amoonguss.
An alternative lead to Salamence / Thundurus versus RayOgre. Salamence and Kyogre are typically the most threatening members we have versus RayOgre teams, and because there is no opposing Groudon, Kyogre is safe to lead.