Hello Hat Lovers!
I placed third at Oregon Regionals. I used more or less the same team as I did at the MSS.
After the MSS I tried out Drifblim teams. I used Fini/Drifblim/Garchomp in the IC that was focused on setting up Tailwind and Swaggering Garchomp to facilitate sweeps. This was fun and while I did well with the team (22-4 in the IC) it didn’t seem like Regionals material. I could see a lot of flaws that my opponents weren’t exploiting due to the best of one setting.
When I saw teams similar to my MSS team picking up top finishes around the world I decided to try out these teams in order to understand how they played. I kept Koko, P2, Gigalith and Arcanine with a revolving door of Pokemon filling the last two slots. I didn’t like using the common stand-ins like Gyarados, Kartana or Lele. I also tried out a number of other Pokemon before coming to the conclusion that the original six were what worked best for me.
|Choice Specs||Thunderbolt||Dazzling Gleam||Volt Switch||Hidden Power Fire|
|Eviolite||Return||Ice Beam||Recover||Trick Room|
|Rockium Z||Stone Edge||Rock Slide||Earthquake||Protect|
|Groundium Z||Earthquake||Poison Jab||Swords Dance||Protect|
|Mago Berry||Flare Blitz||Extreme Speed||Snarl||Protect|
|Leftovers||Heavy Slam||Flamethrower||Leech Seed||Protect|
At a glance this team looks very standard. What sets it apart is the defensive the more frail Pokemon are trained. Tapu Koko is known as the frail Tapu but I expect mine to survive pretty much any non Z-move. Garchomp and Celesteela survive common attacks that exploit their weaknesses. Porygon2, Arcanine and Gigalith are all super bulky by nature.
Tapu Koko @ Choice Specs
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 60 Def / 100 SpA / 4 SpD / 108 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
– Volt Switch
– Hidden Power [Fire]
I used the same Koko set from the MSS team. I think bulky Specs Koko is severely underrated. This Koko survives so many attacks that no one expects it to which opens up a lot of opportunities. I considered speed creeping Persian and Salazzle so I’d have an easier time against them. In the end I decided that these two weren’t common enough to be worth it.
Hidden Power Fire was underperforming in testing so I looked for moves I could use instead. Discharge was an option to play around Marowak December 2016 style. Hidden Power Ice would’ve given me a chance to OHKO Garchomp but the unreliability made it unappealing. Sky Drop could ensure Trick Room went up in a number of situations. Ultimately I didn’t make any changes.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 140 Def / 4 SpA / 116 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
I looked into other moves I could use on Porygon2, but ultimately these were rejected. All of the moves I considered were needed to fill in the holes from removing other teammates and were unnecessary when I added those Pokemon back. Return hasn’t been popular lately but I still really like it. You usually get attack boosts from Download and Porygon2 can punish Pokemon going for Taunt by just attacking.
I moved some special defence into defence in order to survive attacks from Buzzwole and Pheromosa after an Intimidate. Lowering my special defence meant that double ducks could potentially KO Porygon2 but I felt this was fine.
Gigalith @ Rockium Z
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Stone Edge
– Rock Slide
After the MSS Gigalith started picking up more top cut appearances worldwide. At first it was reassuring to see such similar teams performing so well but I started to worry players would set their sights on countering the giant rock. Ultimately I decided that this didn’t matter and I’d have faith in the team I had so much experience with.
Curse was dropped for Earthquake in order to improve my Magnezone match-up. Earthquake also gave me access to a 100% accurate move on Gigalith. Curse would’ve been nice to play the arms race with Snorlax. Curse is the better move overall as Magnezone isn’t very popular and the team can deal with it without using Gigalith.
Arcanine @ Mago Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 116 Atk / 28 Def / 84 SpD / 44 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
Arcanine remains unchanged and as boring as ever. Intimidate and Snarl compliment the natural bulk of this team. I should’ve changed increased my special defence by 1 because when Arcanine and Garchomp are on the field Porygon2 has a 50% chance to get a special attack boost from Download instead of a guaranteed boost in attack. I noticed this before the tournament but never found the time to redo the EVs.
Garchomp @ Groundium Z
Ability: Sand Veil
EVs: 172 HP / 84 Atk / 20 Def / 156 SpD / 76 Spe
– Poison Jab
– Swords Dance
In the days leading up to Oregon I made some drastic changes to Garchomp. The first was changing the Ability to Sand Veil. For the first time I actually looked at the odds of hitting Garchomp in sand with a 100% accurate move and was disgusted to see it was an 80% chance. Rough Skin has occasional use but it doesn’t turn all of the opponent’s moves into Stone Edge.
The second change was in the EV spread. I wanted to survive Ice Beam from Porygon2 and OHKO it with +2 Tectonic Rage. I managed to add Moonblast from Lele, Hidden Power Ice from Life Orb Nihilego and Tectonic Rage from Adamant Garchomp to list of notable attacks I survive. Reaching these benchmarks used up most of my EVs, leaving me without much in the way of speed investment. I looked at the teams that were doing well at the time and decided this wasn’t super important. My last Garchomp was still slower than positive natured base 95s and few Pokemon sit between that benchmark and where I ended up.
Bulky Garchomp is an under-explored Pokemon this format. I expect this to change as the format continues. When this happens I expect to see more optimal EV spreads designed for it.
Celesteela @ Leftovers
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 132 Def / 4 SpA / 116 SpD
– Heavy Slam
– Leech Seed
On the original version of the team Celesteela was added at the last second. This made Celesteela seem expendable in my eyes. I tested Pokemon like Gyarados and Kartana that had done well on other Gigalith team. After this I started testing other random Pokemon like Lele, Raichu and Buzzwole. None of these Pokemon worked as well as I liked and my ranking tanked. I realized that Celesteela provided the defensive synergy the team needed.
When I revisited Celesteela I knew I needed to remake the EV spread. After doing damage calculations I found out it was fairly easy to survive Arcanine’s Flare Blitz (and Inferno Overdrive at -1). This resulted in a physically defensive Celesteela. At Oregon I found that Celesteela was primarily threatened by physical attackers.
During the tournament I got several burns from Flamethrower. There were 4 games where I burnt a physical attacker. Between this and my physically defensive set I was able to make several impossible comebacks with Celesteela after KOing their special attackers.
Round 1 VS Qi Wei WLW
Gavin copycats have been easy wins for this team in practise. In the first two games I lead Koko and P2 with Garchomp and Gigalith in back against his Hariyama and P2 with Snorlax and Araquanid. In game 1 he gets a freeze on my Gigalith. This would’ve won him the game but then my Garchomp dodges an Ice Beam which allowed me to pull out a win. I forget how game 2 went but he won pretty early on. For game 3 I notice he choose his Pokemon within ten seconds and determined he’d go with the same 4. I decided to switch out Garchomp for Celesteela since he wasn’t going to punish it with Magnezone. I ended winning without sending Celesteela out so this was a moot point.
Round 2 VS Brandon Tuchtenhagen WW
This match was streamed and it was not pretty. Buzzwole missed a Stone Edge, Lele got Frozen which let me ignore it for a couple turns while I bullied the rest of his team and I burn Garchomp both games so Celesteela can wall it out. You can find this game and the rest of my streamed matches here.
Round 3 VS Nico Alvarez WW
Arcanine is able to mitigate Nico’s team with Intimidate and Snarl making it easy for the rest of my team to wear down his Pokemon. In game 1 Gastrodon dodged a Snarl and got a Scald critical hit which let it get around Arcanine’s berry but it isn’t enough to put him in a winning position.
Round 4 VS Patrick Smith LWW
Marowak is one of those uncommon Pokemon that I really hate facing. Game 1 takes around 30 minutes due to the defensive nature of our teams. It was apparent that I was losing early on but I played it out just in case I could pull a win. In game 2 Celesteela burns Krookodile early on mitigating it as a threat. This game was the only set that Garchomp’s speed came into play as Krookodile was able to out speed it and finish it off with Tectonic Rage. I manage to grind this game out to a win.
Time is called during team preview and the rules of sudden death are explained to us. We just played two long grinders and now we’re told the first player to be ahead in Pokemon at the end of a turn wins. We have to play this game super carefully as every KO is crucial. I set up Trick Room one turn and reverse it pretty much right after trying to play around his threats. We trade Pokemon on one turn going down 3-3, leaving my opponent with Marowak, Celesteela and a Tapu Bulu with one foot already in the grave against my Arcanine, P2 and Celesteela. Arcanine is able to finish off Bulu and I take the win. Sudden death was an ideal way to play game 3 as taking one KO was much easier than breaking the defensive core as a whole.
Round 5 VS Alberto Laura LL
I try to set up a Gigalith sweep but Alberto’s Tapu Koko had Guardians of Alola making this impossible. Both games came down to Celesteela mirrors and his was faster and had Substitute.
Round 6 VS Aaron Zheng LL
Lele + Drifblim are able to prevent Trick Room from going up. Drifblim being faster than Arcanine without Unburden caught me off guard in game 1. In game two Aaron used Bulldoze with Arcanine to slow down his Garchomp and my Tapu Koko. I think Aaron had been expecting me to make a different play as this was as ideal of a turn than I could’ve expected. For some reason I didn’t switch Koko out to Arcanine and his Arcanine KO’s Koko with Flare Blitz.
Round 7 VS Yuanhao WLW
At this point there had been a number of team-kills amongst hatters and this round I had to face Hao. Snorlax is a big threat to my team without Curse Gigalith but everything else is easy to beat under Trick Room. The first two games were decided by whether or not I could handle his Snorlax. In game 3 I burn his Garchomp as he Swords Dances up to +6 and can’t break through Celesteela with Rock Slide.
Round 8 VS Phillip Wingett WW
Do you like lead match-ups? If so then I have a team for you! Koko + Raichu is something I hate facing even though I usually beat it. I lead Koko & P2 both games to attempt to set up Trick Room with Gigalith in back.
In game 1 I brought Garchomp for Koko/Raichu. Phillip leads these two with Pheromosa and Tapu Lele in back. Raichu manages to stop Trick Room from going up with Fake Out and Fling. I was able to pull out a win thanks to bulky Koko and Garchomp surviving Poison Jab from Pheromosa and Moonblast from Lele, respectively.
In game 2 I expect him to lead Lele and Pheromosa so I bring Arcanine over Chomp so I can Intimidate Pheromosa. Phillip leads Raichu & Pheromosa with double ducks in back. I manage to set up Trick Room in this game. I made a mistake in keeping Arcanine in while he had Pelliper which lowered my offensive potential. Gigalith is able to deal enough damage under Trick Room that Arcanine can close out the endgame against Raichu and Pheromosa.
With this win I’m 6-2. I check my opponents results and see I’m above 60% in resistance. The results are posted and I made it in at 6th seed. After the top cut check-in I went to dinner with Hao and the Alberta trio while the rest of my group stays to play in the PC. Eating a real meal after a day of granola bars was so refreshing, I cannot stress how important it is to eat healthily during events. We get back to the hotel around 11PM and the group doesn’t go to sleep until 1AM.
Top 8 VS Jirawiwat WW
Rapha faced Jirawiwat in swiss and told me what he knew about the team, revealing Electric Z-move Xurkitree and Scarf Arcanine. Me and Jira actually exchanged a lot of information on our teams before the match. I confirmed most of my sets and he told me his Xurkitree had no speed investment, which was crucial knowledge considering my Garchomp spread.
In game 1 the freeze on Mudsdale allows me to bully the rest of his team. With Mudsdale frozen Xurkitree wastes its Z-move and I take complete control of the game.
In Game 2 I actually miscounted TR turns and was debating if I need to Tech Rage the Xurkitree or if I expected it to switch. With Trick Room still up Jira goes for the double KO but Garchomp holds on and KOs Xurkitree. From here Celesteela is able to break the rest of his team.
Top 4 VS Conan LL
Our teams are very similar and the different Pokemon are ones I considered but either didn’t like or didn’t have time to test. Going into the match I knew Conan had a spicy Celesteela set and that Koko was Assault Vest. I also heard Garchomp had Dragon Claw meaning it wouldn’t be able to beat Celesteela.
In game 1 Kimo was very critical of the Garchomp Protect. At the time I was still worried Gyarados would have Ice Fang which would’ve OHKO’d Garchomp. Had Conan been able to KO Garchomp my Gigalith would surely lose to his Gigalith because of the healing berry and Curse. Had I known that Gyarados didn’t have Ice Fang I could’ve KO’d it with Garchomp and gone on to win the game. I could’ve still won if I won a speed tie with Gigalith, didn’t flinch from Waterfall and hit a Rock Slide on his Gyarados. Failing this I still have a small chance if Garchomp can dodge a Waterfall in the Sand.
Something that was lost to everyone until after the set was that my Tapu Koko speed ties with Conan’s +1 Gyarados, so not only did it need to get the flinch it also needed to win the speed tie. Conan probably thought I was still using 179 speed but I had increased it after the MSS in case my set caught on. The greatest tragedy is that if I EV’d Koko to be faster than Persian or Salazzle I’d have been faster than his Koko and +1 Gyarados which would’ve made the set much easier.
I would normally be devastated by this type of loss but I got pretty lucky overall so I really can’t complain.
After a mediocre season in 2016 top cutting Oregon feels lie a return to form for me. I was 5/6 on cutting Regionals before that format so it feels good to be back on track. I’ll be aiming for 1st at Washington Regionals, and hopefully I can get there without as much RNG.