Hello hat lovers!
I’m Demitri, or kingdjk. I had an incredibly mediocre season for most of 2016, but at Worlds, I finally managed to accomplish something by making it through day one with a 6-1 record. I struggled finding a team that worked for me throughout the majority of 2016 but I think the team that I used at Worlds was finally what I wanted from a team this year.
The Final Team
The team is a bit different of a RayDon team from what was typical at Worlds and before. It’s most comparable to Liar’s Japanese Nationals team, which I was inspired by during my teambuilding process. It acts very similarly to that team in a few ways, but I mainly see it as its own team. The Pokemon are also similar to Enosh’s Massachusetts Regionals team, but the different sets and usage of Talonflame and Rayquaza as the sole mega evolution make this team function very differently.
It was definitely a comfort pick for me going into Worlds. I had some doubts going into day one but I decided not to make the same mistake as last year and just went with what I already had planned.
I built what was sort of the first version of this team in April after trying out various other archetypes to very little success. RayDon wasn’t really heard of back then because of Rayquaza and Groudon’s lack of synergy at first glance. I had the idea to use RayDon because of an issue I was facing at the time where I really wanted both Salamence and Mawile on a team, and the ability to use both megas in a single battle along with Primal Groudon. This obviously was impossible so I looked for alternatives. I then had the idea to use Rayquaza instead of Salamence, since its non-mega form was still strong. With some help from friends and advice from my NPA teammates I eventually came up with a team of Rayquaza, Groudon, Mawile, Cresselia, Thundurus, and Amoonguss. It was a lot more speed control focused than my worlds team, and functioned very differently, with Rayquaza mega evolving in only about half of my battles. However, this was the team that created my love for RayDon and set me on the path to attempt build the best possible RayDon team for myself that I could. I used the team at Seattle Regionals and unfortunately finished 4-3 due to a combination of bad luck and bad play, but not from a poor team choice. I knew from then on that the RayDon archetype was just what I wanted to continue using.
In between Seattle Regionals and Nationals I spent a lot of time practicing with the same team that I used in Seattle with a few small adjustments. However, I was struggling a lot on Showdown and Battle Spot. Around the time of Japanese Nationals, I decided to scrap the team and build off of a team that was there. I knew that Liar placed well in Japan Cup with RayDon, so I wanted to see what he brought to Japanese Nationals. He ended up winning the tournament obviously, so I had a lot of information to go off of and a new team to test. I learned his Showdown alt after Japanese Nationals, and went over all his replays. I then spent a week on Showdown testing his six Pokemon with the same moves and items, but my own spreads. I realized that the Kang+Wide Guard Smeargle lead was problematic for the team, and after some practice sets against Big B teams, I knew some sort of change was necessary going into nationals. I switched Cress to Thundurus, and ended with a team of Rayquaza, Groudon, Smeargle, Talonflame, Sylveon, and Thundurus. I finished 6-3 at Nationals, mainly due to a lack of extensive experience with the team and some poor play. I still really liked the team though. This team is what made me want to continue using fast Special Groudon, as opposed to the slow Physical one I had used in Seattle. I also really liked the idea of leading with powerful Eruptions, and cleaning up with Talonflame and Rayquaza in the back by abusing their strong priority attacks. I was disappointed by Smeargle, and decided that I wanted to replace it. I really only brought it against Groudon Xerneas teams, and whenever it was on the field, my options against opposing Smeargle and Kang were really weak. I also found that the team struggled with opposing Kyogre and, to a lesser extent, opposing Rayquaza. Going into Worlds I knew I needed to find ways to adjust the team to resolve these issues.
The first Pokemon I knew that I wanted to at least test after Nationals was Weavile. I figured that a Weavile would allow the team to be more effective against Big B and Big C specifically. I also realized at Nationals that a lack of Fake Out pressure was really hindering me. I dropped Smeargle and added Weavile. I also needed a better way to handle Kyogre consistently, so Ferrothorn was added later, and I dropped Thundurus. Cresselia was the last Pokemon I decided to use, as it provided my only forms of speed control and acted as a consistent answer to any Smeargle, which I felt I needed. I dropped Sylveon and replaced it with Cress. This Cress was very different from the one on Liar’s team. With these three Pokemon, my team was complete. I spent about three weeks playing with it and making small adjustments until Worlds began. I had some doubts on the team leading up to Worlds, but decided to stick with these six since I felt that my experience and comfort with them would allow the team to perform better for me than any last second changes would. Making changes last year at the last second backfired on me, so I did not want to repeat the same mistake.
The Final Team in Detail
Rayquaza @ Life Orb
Ability: Air Lock
EVs: 228 Atk / 28 SpA / 252 Spe
Rayquaza was the most important Pokemon on the team for obvious reasons. It’s a Pokemon that’s really hard to counter, due to its lack of glaring weaknesses typing-wise and base stat-wise. It is arguably the strongest Pokemon in the format. The main downside to it is that it takes up a restricted slot and is also mega evolution meaning when using it a team typically has less firepower spread across the entire team, and it limits other megas. However, this does allow a lot more viable choices at team preview more often and allows for a more adaptable team overall. There are very few situations where three non restricted non mega Pokemon are needed in battle, and this allows for both Rayquaza and Groudon to be brought to just about every game while also keeping a higher degree of flexibility compared to other teams. I could adapt differently to different matchups without sacrificing power, meaning I was less susceptible to “matchup roulette” and could play a team that was effective against all archetypes regardless of my choice in restricted Pokemon and mega evolution.
The spread here allows Rayquaza to OHKO 4HP Groudon 100% of the time with Draco Meteor. Speed was maxed to help against opposing Rayquaza and the rest of the EVs were dumped into attack.
Due to the flexibility it provided, its raw power, and its strong priority, Rayquaza became my favorite mega in the format and it performed very well at every tournament I brought it to, especially Worlds. It was something I never thought of replacing. It was needed in every matchup and was brought to 36/36 individual games.
Groudon @ Red Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 Def
-Hidden Power Ice
A very standard special Groudon, with the set taken from Liar’s Japanese Nationals team. I wasn’t a big fan of max speed special Groudon at the start of the format, due to speed ties and its weakness against Xerneas when compared to bulky Physical Groudon. However, as bulky Xern became really popular around the time between Spring Regionals and Nationals, I felt it became a lot stronger than it was before. Firing off Eruptions before Geomancy went up was really nice and allowed me to easily pick up a KO on Xerneas with either Talonflame’s or Rayquaza’s priority attacks afterwards. Something I learned after playing with special Groudon for a while was that even if a Xerneas was fast and set up a Geomancy prior to being hit with Eruption, it would still be put in guaranteed KO range of a Choice Band Brave Bird from Talonflame or a Helping Hand boosted Extreme Speed from Rayquaza, assuming it was just 4 HP, which was really nice. Unboosted Extreme Speed would not pick up the KO in that situation though, and I still vastly preferred playing against bulky Xern compared to Fast Xern.
This Pokemon was extremely effective against any team that did not have Kyogre or, to a lesser extent, Rayquaza. Most Groudon Xerneas teams are very weak to Eruptions, and with the help of Weavile and Cresselia, I was able to get into positions to fire them off against those types of teams often. After an Eruption or two, it was usually easy for Rayquaza and Talonflame to clean up in the late game. Hidden Power Ice allowed Groudon to defeat the one Pokemon on these teams that could otherwise stop it, Salamence. The RayDon archetype struggles a bit with Salamence so HP Ice was extremely useful often. Although not nearly as common of an archetype, Dialga Groudon teams were extremely weak to this Pokemon as well, especially when it was paired with Weavile. Kyogre was the only Pokemon that could really stop my Eruptions.
The EV Spread is obiously very standard. I really wanted to outspeed Xerneas, force speed ties, maximize damage rolls, and provide the most sheer damage possible.
Groudon was obviously very strong in every matchup, but I would occasionally not bring it against RayOgre teams. It was brought to 34/36 games.
Weavile @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Weavile was probably the most important non restricted Pokemon on the team, and ended up being almost essential to how the final team functioned in most matchups. I think that Fake Out pressure is extremely important in this format especially, which Wolfe’s team clearly showed, due to amount one can gain from a single turn with restricted Pokemon and Smeargle. Before using Weavile, I felt like I was constantly at a disadvantage without being able to match Fake Outs. The key to beating Big 6 for me was to apply significant pressure alongside my Groudon, be it with Cresselia or with Weavile. Having Fake Out made me much less vulnerable to leads like Kang+Xern, Kang+Smeargle, or Smeargle+Xern. Knock Off was obviously very useful against Cress and Bronzong, but it was also useful against Xerneas. Although no one should really fall for me knocking off their Power Herb and proceed to Geomancy, eliminating the option of Geomancy, even if they attacked the turn it was knocked off, was actually very effective and allowed for more win conditions. Being able to Dragon Ascent Xern instead of Extreme Speed it due to it never getting a speed boost was very important in some games. This also prevented fast Xern from setting up on my Groudon before it could attack in some scenarios and allowed Eruption to do much more. Feint was useful for a lot more than just breaking Protect. Breaking through Wide Guard was very important against Wide Guard Smeargle especially, making Feint into Smeargle+Eruption a safe and powerful play against Smeargle paired with almost anything, unless the Smeargle had a Choice Scarf. This team’s focus on strong priority also meant that Quick Guard could be an issue at times, something that Feint also allowed me to break through. Feint was just an extremely useful move in general for creating win conditions and locking up games. It was one of the most useful moves on the entire team. Icicle Crash just helped against Salamence and Rayquaza mainly, and the flinch chance was useful at times.
EV spread is simple, as there was no reason for anything else due to the Focus Sash.
Weavile was useful in just about every matchup. Sometimes I wouldn’t bring it against Groudon Xerneas teams though, and I would bring Cress instead. Weavile was brought to 28/36 games.
Talonflame @ Choice Band
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Talonflame was key to the team’s focus on cleaning up matchups with priority. I noticed that a lot of teams had very few or even no Flying resists, and figured Talonflame would work well to take advantage of this. After testing it with the Japanese Nationals team, I fell in love with it and stuck with it for Worlds. I was not a fan of Talonflame or Choice items in 2015 but I think this Talonflame set is effective in this format on this team specifically. The only Pokemon that Rayquaza could not really damage were steel types, and having both Groudon and Talonflame along with Ferrothorn helped resolve this issue. Also, Rayquaza and Talonflame together in the late game are devastating to most teams, especially after Groudon had done damage with Eruption. Choice Band Brave Bird combined with Extreme Speed does enough to take out a large amount of the Pokemon in the format from full health. If most of my opponent’s team had been hit by Eruptions, it was often impossible for them to win if I could get both Rayquaza and Talonflame on the field at the same time. The sheer power Talonflame had with its priority Brave Bird made it very useful on this team.
Choice Band Brave Birds do a lot of damage, especially for a Pokemon that’s neither a mega evolution or a restricted. This helped make up for the lack of power spread across the team that I mentioned earlier caused by running Mega Rayquaza. Talonflame was very useful for not being restricted or mega, and something I think was almost essential to this specific team due to its power, priority, and how well it cleans up games against most of the format, especially when next to Rayquaza. I could also live Rock Slides when next to Rayquaza in Delta Stream, which was a nice bonus.
Me First is there because I wanted Sleep Talk to only use Brave Bird or Flare Blitz, and Me First was the best moce that could not be chosen by Sleep Talk. There was actually a situation in practice where using Me First to attack with Precipice Blades won me a game I had otherwise lost, which was amazing. Unfortunately, I never used Me First at Worlds.
EV spread needs no explanation. I wanted to maximize all damage and rolls, but also wanted to force speed ties, since the team was a bit weak to opposing Talonflame, so winning a speed tie against opposing Talonflame could be very important.
Choice Band Brave Bird was useful in most matchups, but Talonflame typically would not be brought against Kyogre teams because Weavile and Ferrothorn were preferred there. It was brought to 17/36 games in total. I expected it to be brought to more games, but Kyogre ended up a lot more popular than I expected.
Ferrothorn @ Leftovers
Ability: Iron Barbs
EVs: 244 HP / 244 Atk / 20 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
Ferrothorn was a Pokemon that I did not expect to be as useful as it was. I felt weak to Kyogre without it, and it fixed that issue effectively. I played more Kyogre than I was expecting to, so Ferrothorn was brought to more games than I expected it to. It did do its job well. Ferrothorn was my main tool against RayOgre teams, and although my record against RayOgre teams at this tournament was bad, Ferrothorn was the main reason I won any games or had close games against those teams. Without Ferrothorn on the team, Bronzong+Kyogre would be able to destroy me fairly easily.
Ferrothorn was the most important defensive Pokemon on the team. Cress was rarely brought and was only used in specific matchups. Ferrothorn acted as the team’s defensive pivot. Since the rest of the team was hyper offensive, Ferrothorn was the only thing that could really switch into attacks. I felt that I had matchups against any team without Kyogre under control with sheer offense, but Ferrothorn was needed for more defensive play against Kyogre teams. Lacking the ability to switch without losing a Pokemon agains Kyogre teams would make those matchups extremely difficult, which was a flaw i noticed in a lot of other RayDon teams.
The spread was one I made near the beginning of the format, but I never changed it out of comfort. It OHKOs frail Xerneas that has boosted speed, KOs 252 HP Kyogre with Power Whip+Gyro Ball, 2HKOs Jolly Kang 100% of the time, survives 2 full power Water Spouts from most Kyogre, factoring in Leftovers, and 2HKOs Mega Salamence 90% of the time if Intimidate is avoided.
Ferrothorn was a Pokemon that was only and always brought against Kyogre, and it ended up being used more than I expected due to a large amount of Kyogre, being brought to 21/36 games.
Cresselia @ Lum Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 4 SpA / 44 SpD / 196 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
Cresselia was probably the least important Pokemon on the team and the only one that I felt underperformed a bit. It was mainly there as a way to stop Crobat teams from sweeping me under tailwind and to stop all Smeargle. I led it next to my Groudon against Groudon Xerneas teams often, which worked well, unless the opponent led with a Trick Room setter. Weavile was usually the better lead against Groudon Xerneas teams though, and Cresselia was more of a mix up option for best of three. Scarf Smeargle was a massive threat to the rest of my team, so Cresselia was usually brought after I figured out that an opponent’s Smeargle was scarfed.
Cresselia provided the team’s only forms of speed control, which I thought would be useful going into Worlds, but I mainly just ended up playing off the team’s natural speed and use of priority. With both Icy Wind and Thunder Wave, Cresselia was usually able to allow my Groudon to move first and allow for a full power Helping Hand Eruption, which was devastating for opposing Groudon Xerneas teams to deal with. Also I bluffed a Trick Room mode with Cresselia, Groudon, and Ferrothorn, although I have no idea how that really affected my opponents. Helping Hand was a very useful move for this team in general, allowing Rayquaza to OHKO almost anything, making Eruption even more destructive, and allowing Talonflame to OHKO things like Kangaskhan. Having both Thunder Wave and Icy Wind allowed me to adapt to different situations effectively, with Thunder Wave being more useful against opposing Tailwind or Xerneas, and Icy Wind being more useful against Pokemon like Kangaskhan, Groudon, and Rayquaza.
This spread was actually taken from Wolfe’s Nationals team, as that spread did everything that I wanted. It outsped Smeargle and neutral natured Primals, and it just maximized bulk, with slightly more special bulk, as there was really no specific benchmark I felt I needed Cress to hit, due to its amazing natural defenses.
Again, Cresselia was probably the least important Pokemon to the team, which is shown in its usage, only being brought to 8/36 games. Also, I only played one Scarf Smeargle across both days, and I lost the set to it, even though I had this Cress, which further shows that it did not perform quite as effectively as I wanted it to.
Team Synergy and Other General Thoughts
This team was heavily focused on the abuse of strong priority. Speed control is more important in this format than arguably every other format we’ve had, and my priority attacks allow me to bypass opposing speed control, which is extremely useful in many situations.
This team focused a lot less on type synergy than teams I’ve used in the past. There’s some clear overlapping weaknesses here, such as rock. I do feel that type synergy is a lot less important in this format compared to others, as restricted Pokémon have the power to break through anything if provided with the right support, even at a disadvantage type-wise. My team was more centered around executing very specific game plans against each popular archetype in the format. I had specific leads and back Pokémon for almost every matchup, with some mixup options to adapt with in best of three or to throw off an opponent.
I also decided to focus this team on hyper offense more than anything. My team focuses on just KOing everything before support can be set up, or just playing around it with strong priority attacks. The team mostly lacks speed control, as Cress is the least used Pokémon by far. It’s more about massive offensive pressure supported by Weavile’s Fake Out and Feint, which allows it to function correctly. Fake Out stops me from being stopped by opposing Fake Out, and Feint allows me to make safe targets with high risk moves such as Dragon Ascent or Brave Bird. Hitting into a successful protect is really bad for this team as every turn is important due to the overall lack of bulk. Weavile also allows me to just KO Trick Room setters before they can set up, allowing my fast offense to continue without a crucial speed disadvantage. However, Tailwind is an issue since Whimsicott and Talonflame have access to priority tailwind. My team is pretty weak to Groudon under Tailwind, especially if Ray is down or weakened. Since my priority moves are physical, I can’t take it down in one turn with a combination of Extreme Speed and Brave Bird either. Kyogre is less of an issue because of Ferrothorn and its weakness to my physical priority moves but it can still be somewhat problematic. Opposing priority Tailwind is an issue with the team that I don’t really know how to fix without changing the entire composition of the team.
The team has two pretty distinct modes. The hyper offense Talonflame mode, and the slower Ferrothorn mode. With Talonflame, I just focus on KOing everything quickly or setting up for a Talonflame+Rayquaza endgame. In the Ferrothorn mode, I focus on KOing whatever can actually threaten Ferrothorn, and then using Ferrothorn as my main endgame play. The hyper offensive mode is used mainly against XernDon or YvelDon, whereas the Ferrothorn mode is used against RayOgre, Double Primals, or XernOgre most of the time. I aim to take advantage of just how strong a nonrestricted, in Ferrothorn, can be against certain restricted combos. Rayquaza and Special Groudon are naturally pretty good at taking out threats to Ferrothorn, like opposing Groudon, Salamence, Rayquaza, or Hitmontop.
Typical Lead Combinations
This is definitely my most used lead, and it functions extremely well against most XernDon teams. Weavile provides really useful support toward Groudon, allowing it to fire off powerful Eruptions, which XernDon teams are very weak to. This lead also allows me to set up for a Talonflame Rayquaza endgame very well.
This is another very common lead, and is my most used lead against Kyogre teams. I led this pair in every game I played against Wolfe and Markus. Leading with fast Groudon is usually a terrible idea against Kyogre teams because it’s easy to get stuck in rain that way, which is highly undesirable. This lead is just generally really safe against teams without Xerneas. It also is a good way to start playing toward a Ferrothorn endgame, as Feint+Draco Meteor can eliminate opposing Groudon. It’s easy to fire off Dragon Ascents with this lead, as Weavile can typically neutralize any threats to Rayquaza long enough for significant damage to be dealt.
The two first leads I mentioned are by far my most common, but this lead is used on occasion. Smeargle+Salamence is a lead that can potentially beat my typical lead of Weavile Groudon against XernDon if my opponent makes the correct call. This lead is an adaptation that can easily take on Salamence Smeargle, as well as most other potential XernDon leads. I found Weavile Groudon to be a bit more effective most of the time though, so this lead was somewhat rare, but not nonexistent.
I’m not going to go over the details of each battle just because I don’t remember them very well at all at the time of writing this.
Round 1 vs. Zach Droegkamp: Win 2-1
Round 2 vs. Matthew Marquez: Win 2-0
Round 3 vs. Jun Mikami: Win 2-0
Round 4 vs. Patrick Smith: Win 2-1
Round 5 vs. Wolfe Glick Loss 1-2
Round 6 vs. Matias Roa Win 2-1
Round 7 vs. Joseph Selmer Win 2-0
Day One Final Record: 6-1 (13-5)
Round 1 vs. Alex Underhill Win 2-0
Round 2 vs. Markus Stadter Loss 1-2
Round 3 vs. Jonathan Evans Loss 0-2
Round 4 vs. Juan Naar Loss 1-2
Round 5 vs. Soichiro Kohara Loss 1-2
Round 6 vs. Chi Yuen Fu Loss 0-2
Round 7 vs. Marcelo Salgado Win 2-1
Day Two Record: 2-5 (7-11), 84th place
I was super disappointed with my day two record, especially after having such a good run through day one. I pulled a rough schedule early, playing a top 4 finisher at 1-0 and the finalist at 1-1. I think I may have let these losses put me on tilt, and I just couldn’t recover. The matchups I pulled weren’t the best either in day two, but of course that’s my fault for not accurately analyzing the metagame going into worlds. I expected a lot less Kyogre than we ended up seeing. I of course would have liked to do better, but just making day two and finally having an official placing at worlds made me happy enough.
In addition to Worlds, I continued to use this team in the World Cup of VGC, where I played for team US West. We managed to finish in 2nd place, losing to Italy in finals. Winning would have been great but I was still really happy with the result. I only played two sets during the event but they were really good sets anyway and further emphasize the strength of my team against Xerneas Groudon teams.
Week 2 vs. Poops (Team Italy) Win 2-1
Week 3 vs Moriyama (Team Japan) Win 2-1
(Unfortunately Moriyama’s stream of this set was deleted)
I already reflected on some of my thoughts on VGC 16 as a whole here. I liked the format, but not quite as much as formats I’ve played in the past. This team specifically allowed me to really enjoy it. I think that for too long I was trying to play this format how I played 2014 and 2015, which just didn’t work. This format is just really different from those years. Once I accepted VGC 16 and built this team, I finally found some success, and even though it wasn’t much, I’m really glad I didn’t end the season with no good tournament runs at all.
Thank you for reading my report! I hope you enjoyed it.