Hello Hat Lovers!
There was a Midseason Showdown in Vancouver last weekend. I made the trek from the island alone so I could chase those Championship Points.
I made the initial draft of this team about a month ago after the last PC. The starting point was Specs Koko and Helping Hand Arcanine which would allow me to OHKO Garchomp with Dazzling Gleam. I added Porygon2 and Gigalith as a Trick Room mode and tried a myriad of Pokemon in the last two slots.
In the weeks leading up to the MSS I noticed Rapha was using a similar team to what I was testing. We decided to collaborate to create the teams we would go on to take 2nd and T8. In this report I’d be listing my version of the team and Rapha will share his thoughts and where his team differed from mine.
Here’s the team at a glance:
|Choice Specs||Volt Switch||Dazzling Gleam||Thunderbolt||Hidden Power Fire|
|Eviolite||Return||Ice Beam||Recover||Trick Room|
|Rockium Z||Stone Edge||Rock Slide||Curse||Protect|
|Groundium Z||Earthquake||Poison Jab||Swords Dance||Protect|
|Mago Berry||Flare Blitz||Extreme Speed||Snarl||Protect|
|Leftovers||Heavy Slam||Flamethrower||Leech Seed||Protect|
Tapu Koko @ Choice Specs
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 60 Def / 100 SpA / 4 SpD / 108 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Volt Switch
– Dazzling Gleam
– Hidden Power [Fire]
Despite my bad early impression of Tapu Koko it has established itself as one of my favourite Pokemon this format. Choice Specs and Volt Switch underrated on Koko. Volt Switch mitigates the liabilities of Choice Specs and Koko’s low bulk. Koko can get its boosted attack while pivoting into a more suitable Pokemon. Volt Switch also makes Koko more compatible with Trick Room. Usually you’d need to either lead two slow Pokemon and have no pressure on turn 1 or waste a turn of Trick Room switching a fast Pokemon out. Tapu Koko is usually the fastest Pokemon on the field and can switch into Gigalith as Trick Room goes up.
I started out with Ray Rizzo’s EV spread, and altered it to fit my preferences. The HP stat is a 16n-1 number to minimize Sandstorm damage. The defence investment make Adamant Garchomp’s Earthquake a 6.25% chance to OHKO while Jolly Garchomp can’t get the OHKO without a critical hit. It also survives Life Orb Poison Jab from Pheromosa and Life Orb Moonblast from Lele. 180 speed puts me ahead of Kartana and Ninetales while speed creeping 179 speed Koko. I think bulky Koko is extremely underrated, you can survive so many attacks that players don’t expect you to and it gives you the option of switching Koko in.
Rapha: I used a standard Life Orb set with Protect over HP Fire. However, while I did also test a bulky Choice Specs set, I think using that set instead of what I actually had would have been far more useful and I regret not giving it more of a chance. Max speed doesn’t feel overly necessary, nor does having max special attack, and there are so many attacks that Tapu Koko would really like to survive. Tapu Koko was mostly used to pivot with Volt Switch so in theory the inability to Protect wouldn’t have been that big of a hindrance. I tested HP Fire over Dazzling Gleam, but it never found much use in practice for whatever reason (maybe largely because Scarf Kartana is gaining more popularity). I couldn’t pass up Volt Switch for the limitless possibilities it allowed: being able to pivot into Trick Room, getting chip damage while also switching, being able to make use of Intimidate when Arcanine is still on the field, providing unexpected defensive switches when opponents don’t anticipate Tapu Koko’s partner to all of a sudden be in a different slot on the field, and so on. Marowak’s declining popularity also made it far easier to spam the move, and the protection it gives Koko makes it easier to justify using Life Orb over Focus Sash.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpA / 180 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
Porygon2 is the best Trick Room setter in the format and one of the most well rounded Pokemon. Return was a move that I thought was silly at first, but in practise Download usually gives an attack boost. Without any Download boost Return and Tri Attack are about as powerful as each other. Ice Beam is vital for hitting Garchomp (as well as Mudsdale) and is why Porygon2 is better for this team than the other Trick Room setters.
Like Tapu Koko, Porygon2’s HP is a 16n-1 number which minimizes Sandstorm damage. The heavy special defence investment would let Porygon2 survive the rain lead. While this isn’t as important as it was early in the format I still appreciate the special bulk over physical bulk.
Rapha: I used mostly the same set as the one in the Melbourne Challenge team, except I had Toxic over Tri Attack. I generally prefer having another attack but with this team I had great difficulty in dealing with bulky Ground types like Gastrodon and Mudsdale. I didn’t like using Return like Max did because I greatly prefer using Calm nature on Porygon2. I did consider Shadow Ball because Metagross gives this team some problems, but ultimately didn’t end up testing it.
Gigalith @ Rockium Z
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Stone Edge
– Rock Slide
Gigalith is the Trick Room sweeper of the team and the ideal Pokemon to come in on a Volt Switch. Sand Stream is highly detrimental to other weather teams while Gigalith doesn’t mind losing the Sand once its in Trick Room. STAB Rock Slide is back-breaking for a lot of teams and Porygon2’s Ice Beam can clean up a lot of the common Rock resists like Garchomp and Kartana.
Gigalith doesn’t have much use for non Rock moves so Rock Slide and Continental Crush are my only attacks. Curse punishes Protect and other defensive play aiming to stall out Trick Room turns. It also gives you the ability to Curse alongside opposing Snorlax which improves your chances against them.
The EV spread is nothing special. Gigalith has the same HP stat as Porygon2 which minimizes Hail damage. The special defence stat and even number so I get an extra stat point from Sandstorm.
Rapha: I have a seriously love/hate relationship with Gigalith. On one hand, common Hail archetypes that also feature AFK struggle against Gigalith in Trick Room, and Sand Stream in general helps greatly against opposing weather. Gigalith also matches up well versus Nihilego, Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele under Trick Room, and can handle Tapu Fini with Volt Switch chip damage and Continental Crush. Gigalith also has a very useful niche in being a Trick Room sweeper that also matches up well versus other Trick Room sweepers, giving it an advantage in an archetype mirror, as the standard template of “Four fast Pokemon + Trick Room” doesn’t work well versus Gigalith. Gigalith underspeeds and heavily threatens Pokemon like Araquanid, Marowak, Vikavolt, Muk, and Torkoal. I didn’t find much value in having non STAB moves on Gigalith, and Curse was a really cool tech to counteract Snorlax’s own Curse, the Pokemon a lot of people use as their Trick Room counter. Snorlax doesn’t really threaten Gigalith unless it wins the Curse arms race and Gigalith can KO it with Continental Crush after some chip damage, which was aided by Sand Stream and Volt Switch. Kelvin also pointed out to me that Gigalith’s usage, and teams that are weak to Gigalith, have risen in popularity in Japan, which convinced me further to use it.
On the other hand, Gigalith has serious issues with accuracy, because Rock types having perfect accuracy moves is apparently illegal or something. It was one reason why I was hesitant to test items other than Rockium Z, and Gigalith losing Trick Room turns due to missing can be really frustrating sometimes. Accuracy was a pain to deal with in the MSS. Gigalith is a Pokemon that I keep getting tempted by because it matches up so well against common teams, but my undying hatred of inaccurate moves will always give me some pause in using it.
I had the exact same set as Max, except my Gigalith is objectively better because it’s shiny.
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 28 Def / 12 SpD / 204 Spe
– Poison Jab
– Swords Dance
Garchomp brings a Z-move to the table when I can’t bring Gigalith. Swords Dance is extremely punishing against defensive play if you can find an opportunity to use it.
With Gigalith on the team it seems like Sand Veil would be the obvious ability for Garchomp. I prefer the reliable chip damage Rough Skin provides to the randomness of Sand Veil.
Inspired by Ricardo, I decided to try out Adamant Garchomp. The EV spread allows Garchomp to survive Tectonic Rage from Jolly Garchomp, Bloom Doom from 252 Kartana and Hidden Power from Nihilego (though everyone seems to favour Life Orb now so this is a moot point). Garchomp is faster than neutral nature Arcanine and Tapu Lele.
Rapha: While the moveset was the same, my Garchomp had Jolly nature and an EV spread of 52 HP / 220 Atk / 4 Def / 20 SDef / 212 Spd. This allows it to always survive Tectonic Rages from opposing Jolly Garchomp and Ice Beams from uninvested Porygon2 if they don’t get a special attack boost. 212 speed was to outspeed Jolly Mimikyu, and while this specific stat really bothers the obsessive side of me because 220 speed hits an 11n number, maximising points wasn’t nearly as important for speed as it is in the other stats. I also didn’t think out speeding Mimikyu was a common enough speed tier to speed creep. I do agree with max speed not being overly necessary on Garchomp, especially when the 100 speed tier doesn’t really exist anymore and I don’t have Dragon Claw, but I still liked having Jolly to outspeed max speed Arcanine and Tapu Lele. I used Sand Veil because I don’t think Rough Skin is very useful and Gigalith was on the team, though Rough Skin is still probably better on teams that don’t have Gigalith.
For much of the format I thought Garchomp was incredibly overrated and in practice was always really mediocre; lacking a reliable, single target STAB move and not having Intimidate made it inferior to Krookodile in my opinion. However, using Swords Dance greatly changed my perspective on Garchomp. It was a great way to punish passive turns and boosting moves on a Pokemon with Z-attacks, like Curse Gigalith, was a good way to generate offensive pressure. I originally had Fire Fang but I never used it in practice. I’m still not sure if the added stats and neutrality to Water and Grass makes Garchomp more worthwhile than Krookodile, but I’ve changed my mind on it being the most overrated Pokemon in the format.
Arcanine @ Mago Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Atk / 28 Def / 84 SpD / 44 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
I had a different goal for Arcanine on this team compared to the one I used in January. The last team I used Arcanine on was built around it as an offensive presence. On this team I added it to mitigate the opponent’s damage output and have a strong Fire attack available. To this end I exchanged Firium Z for Mago Berry and added Snarl over Wild Charge. With Flare Blitz and Sandstorm it wasn’t hard to manipulate Arcanine’s HP so the berry can be activated reliably.
In the early version of the team I had Helping Hand so I could KO Garchomp with Dazzling Gleam. I switched to Snarl at Rapha’s suggestion to help out with the Eevee match up. You can get two Snarls off by the time they’ve set up which makes the special attackers more manageable. Snarl is also useful in general.
I got this spread from my NPA team. Since I wasn’t relying on Arcanine for damage I wanted a bulkier spread to improve my survivability. I don’t actually know what benchmarks this spread hits, only a rough estimate of how much bulkier it is.
Rapha: While I love Marowak, Arcanine was far better at fulfilling its role as a Fire type, as Marowak is a shaky counter to a lot of things it’s supposed to beat because of its reliance on Trick Room and lack of Intimidate. Helping Hand was fun in practice, but I ended up finding Snarl to be more useful. Like Max mentioned, it made Arcanine a decent answer to Eevee teams, and in general, allowed Arcanine to stay in versus Pokemon like Tapu Fini. I used the same set as Markus in his Leipzig Regional winning team. I liked the special bulk on it but not having attack investment, or very much physical bulk, hurt a decent amount in practice. Mago was the Fiwam Berry of choice in case I faced Bug Bite Araquanid.
Celesteela @ Leftovers
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 164 HP / 20 Atk / 116 Def / 4 SpA / 204 SpD
– Heavy Slam
– Leech Seed
I originally had Tapu Fini as the last Pokemon. I’ve seen similar teams that used Tapu Fini but I never found it to be great on this team. Perhaps I just wasn’t playing it properly or had the wrong set but it just never really gelled with the team. On the ferry over I was looking for something to replace Fini. Rapha was using Celesteela and that seemed a lot more useful than Fini.
Celesteela improves our match-up against Nihilego, Kartana and Garchomp while also giving our Garchomp something to Earthquake beside. Celesteela can safely (Volt) Switch into most attacks that threaten the other Pokemon on the team. I think Celesteela is a much better fit for this team but our set is outdated. In the future we’ll need to evaluate what to do with Celesteela. Leech Seed is weak without Substitute and that style of play seems outdated at this point. A Grass move would be nice and maybe an Assault Vest set would be the way to go.
Rapha: I originally had Kartana in this slot, but for whatever reason, the Assault Vest set’s inability to Detect (because why anyone in their right mind would use Protect when Kartana learns Detect when you catch it and Protect makes it more susceptible to Imprison Muk) made it more difficult to use than on Enosh’s team, and I really hate Kartana’s frailty without Assault Vest. I changed it to Celesteela because I was inspired by a highly rated BattleSpot player that had a similar team, and Celesteela made the Kartana match up easier. Unfortunately though, not having the Grass coverage hurt a good deal in the match up against Ground and Water types.
This EV spread was given by Kelvin (he stole it from someone). It’s horribly, horribly outdated and I already ran into problems with it despite not using Celesteela all that much leading up to the MSS. During the tournament, Celesteela was both amazing and utterly useless, though the latter can mostly be attributed to me not knowing very well when to bring Celesteela and how to use it.