Theron Ho – A Game Of Tag: An Asia Cup Singapore/Malaysia Qualifiers Report

Editor’s note: This is a republished version of Theron Ho’s team report for the Asia Cup Qualifier series of Premier Challenges held in Singapore and Malaysia in January 2015. The original report, “A Game Of Tag: Pokemon VGC15 Asia Cup Singapore/Malaysia Qualifiers Report”, can be found on Theron’s livejournal (link here).


Good day everyone! Theron here. This is my report on the team used for the Asia Cup qualifiers.

Originally, the team consisted of Kangakshan, Zapdos, Terrakion, Bisharp, a Helping Hand Sitrus Berry bulky Azumarill and a Choice Specs Salamence. However, after test-running the team in the Team Robo Video Games’ VGC15 tournament held during their Saturday meetups, I knew that the last two Pokemon were not doing enough for the team and thus looked to replace them both. Eventually, I settled with the following team:

Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Scrappy -> Parental Bond
EVs: undisclosed
Adamant Nature
– Protect
– Sucker Punch
– Double-Edge
– Low Kick

Not to blow the trumpet any more than necessary, but Kangaskhan is a Pokemon that has both solid firepower and versatility. It can take the lead and attempt to seize the momentum straight off the bat, or be kept in the rear to clean up after its teammates. After playing against Mega Kangaskhan for the entirety of VGC14, I decided to use it myself in VGC15.

In place of Fake Out, I opted to use Protect, which gives Kangaskhan additional options after turn 1 at the cost of losing a guaranteed flinch. Protect is by no means a straight replacement for Fake Out, but rather serves a different purpose; Kangaskhan is a little bit more ‘selfish’ now, in a sense, looking out for itself and waiting for a chance to inflict massive damage onto the opponent rather than helping its partner set up. Sucker Punch (especially with Parental Bond) still puts in work in VGC15, and also serves as the priority move. Over Return, I opted for Double-Edge despite the recoil as the sheer power of Double-Edge is enough to punch holes in unprepared teams, allowing the rest of the team to clean up. Finally, Low Kick trades the power-over-time nature of Power-Up Punch with instantaneous results, taking out Pokemon like opposing Mega Kangaskhan, Tyranitar, Bisharp, Heatran and others weak to Fighting-type attacks. The double-attacking nature of Kangakshan’s moves also means that Focus Sashes are not an issue.

The EV spread was created by Shang (slyx183) and designed to survive an opposing Adamant Mega Kanga’s Low Kick, and OHKO it back. I will not be disclosing the exact EV spread as he has requested for it to be kept under wraps for the moment, and I will honor that request.

Zapdos @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Pressure
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Sp.Atk / 252 Speed
Modest Nature
– Thunderbolt
– Heat Wave
– Volt Switch
– Hidden Power Ice

Rather than using Zapdos as a bulky supporter or even a bulky attacker, I went with the Choice Scarf for the speed. Choice Scarf Zapdos is the spiritual successor to my Choice Scarf Rotom-Heat from VGC14, trading in Overheat and the Water weakness for Heat Wave and the Ice weakness. Unlike Rotoms (except Rotom-Fan), it is unaffected by Mold Breaker Earthquakes, which was another factor that influenced the switch as I wanted to be able to deal with opposing Mega Gyarados without opening myself up to a 4x super-effective Earthquake. Zapdos serves to (literally and figuratively) put pressure on the opponent’s team with quick Thunderbolts or Heat Waves, depending on the situation, and can also snipe out Pokemon 4x weak to Ice with a fast Hidden Power.

The EV spread is straightforward, maximum firepower and speed.

Terrakion @ Focus Sash
Ability: Justified
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed
Jolly Nature
– Close Combat
– Leer
– Rock Slide
– Protect

When looking at some of the new Legendaries available in VGC15 during the initial brainstorming process, a friend of mine suggested that I try out Terrakion because it fit my style of ‘pressing buttons and things getting KOed’. Terrakion has a strong matchup against two of the more prominent Mega Evolutions, Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Charizard Y, and can also inflict serious damage with Close Combat and Rock Slide on other Pokemon that do not resist them.

Just like Zapdos, the EV spread is straightforward as well. Maximum firepower and speed.

Bisharp @ Life Orb
Ability: Defiant
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Speed
Adamant Nature
– Sucker Punch
– Iron Head
– Knock Off
– Protect

The dark knight that all teams deserve but not necessarily the one they need. Bisharp is by no means a brain-dead Pokemon where you can simply press an attack and get off significant chunks of damage – proper planning and prediction is almost a must if one is to use Bisharp to its full potential. In a metagame infested with Intimidate, Defiant is a mindgame in itself, as the presence of it on the opponent’s team alone can dissuade a player from leading with or even using their Intimidators. Bisharp also has a decent matchup against the new Fairy-type, being able to hit it with a usually-supereffective Iron Head, and can lock down and finish off weakened Pokemon with Sucker Punch.

While some people have been known to run Assurance instead of Knock Off, I chose to run Knock Off as it meant that my Bisharp could still do significant damage solo, rather than having to wait for its partner to strike first. This also meant that Bisharp could be partnered with a Pokemon slower than it and still have an option besides Sucker Punch to deal good damage. Nonetheless, both moves are usually superior to Night Slash despite their slightly lower base powers, as the conditions to boost their base powers are often met by Bisharp.

I chose to run maximum Attack and Speed rather than maximum HP and Speed as Bisharp’s 4x weakness to Fighting-type attacks often means it’ll be knocked out in a single hit. Furthermore, my usage of Life Orb on it means that its HP is constantly dropping, and thus I wanted to maximize its impact on the game before it falls.

Sylveon @ Pixie Plate
Ability: Pixiliate
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Sp.Atk / 4 Speed
Modest Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Helping Hand
– Hyper Beam
– Protect

Much like Autotune with some singers, the move tutors gave Sylveon a new lease of life with Hyper Voice. Combined with its ability, Sylveon has the capability to inflict whopping amounts of damage onto targets that don’t resist Fairy-type attacks – and the attack is a spread move to boot. While this means Sylveon has to watch out for Wide Guard, this can be negated with careful play and not firing off Hyper Voices like yearly editions of first-person-shooter games.

When I first brought Sylveon onto the team to replace Azumarill, I was looking at it to serve a similar role as the water rabbit – a Pokemon that can go on the offensive, but at the same time has the capability to support its partner in the cases that its attacks would not be effective. This is the main reason why I chose to run Helping Hand instead of a coverage move like Shadow Ball, and the fact that Sylveon often just doesn’t do enough damage with those moves (and may even trigger Weakness Policy for free) just swings the tide in Helping Hand’s favor. Helping Hand also helps the other Pokemon of the team (mainly Bisharp and Gengar) snag OHKOs that they would have missed otherwise with some of their moves. Hyper Beam, meanwhile, is for massive single-target damage should the situation call for it as a double-target Hyper Voice already inflicts marginally lesser damage than Moonblast.

The EV spread maximizes Sylveon’s HP and firepower, but I might relook this in the future.

Gengar @ Gengarite
Ability: Levitate -> Shadow Tag
EVs:  4 HP / 252 Sp.Atk / 252 Speed
Timid Nature
– Sludge Bomb
– Shadow Ball
– Icy Wind
– Protect

The last member to be introduced onto the team, and undoubtedly the MVP of the tournament. Having used Mega Gengar in the dying days of post-Worlds VGC14, I was looking for a way to incorporate it into my team, but couldn’t figure out a way before the practice tournament. Only after introducing Sylveon onto the team did the solution occur to me – to use them both in a similar vein to my Gengar-Azumarill combination. As such, I decided to let my Choice Specs Salamence go and brought on Mega Gengar the night before the Asia Cup Qualifiers.

Gengar is one of the few Pokemon that can function without its Mega Evolution in battles, and can afford to simply hold the Mega Stone and be somewhat of a suicide lead to create an opportunity for your actual Mega Evolution. This means that a Gengar player has a lot of flexibility with team choices, as he/she is not restricted to simply bringing only one Mega Stone holding Pokemon into every round.

While Gengar is often used as a quick disruptive supporter, going for Will-o-Wisps or Disables and the occasional attack, I personally feel that that way of playing is not fully utilizing its massive 170 base Special Attack in its Mega form. My team is also not able to fully support a Perish-trap variant which uses Perish Song and Shadow Tag to eliminate opponents, and attempting to pull off such a trick with this particular team would only be an unoptimized waste of resources. Instead I use Mega Gengar for ‘offensive trapping’, using the trap to restrict the opponent’s options and ease prediction somewhat as I do not need to worry about the possibility of the opponent switching in other Pokemon to take attacks (except for Ghost-types, but even then Mega Gengar is usually capable of handling those), as well as going for a quick 4-2 advantage if possible to eliminate switching entirely from the equation.

Shadow Ball and Sludge Bomb are the twin STAB options for Gengar, the latter now more useful than ever due to the Fairy-type. Icy Wind may seem like a move for support Gengars, but it also has offensive applications, being able to take out Salamence and even Mega Salamence (and thus by extension, Pokemon 4x weak to Ice) in appropriate conditions. The speed drop can also become significant in certain matches, possibly allowing my Pokemon to move first instead of the opponent’s.

Some damage calculations:

  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Helping Hand Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Salamence: 204-244 (119.2 – 142.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Salamence: 184-220 (107.6 – 128.6%) — guaranteed OHKO (Single Target Icy Wind)
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Salamence: 136-164 (79.5 – 95.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 124-148 (72.5 – 86.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Helping Hand Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Salamence: 184-220 (107.6 – 128.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Helping Hand Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Garchomp: 196-232 (106.5 – 126%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Helping Hand Icy Wind vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 204-244 (104 – 124.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Icy Wind vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 136-164 (69.3 – 83.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
  • 252 SpA Mega Gengar Helping Hand Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Sylveon: 168-200 (83.1 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Leftovers recovery

    Note: Would any Sylveon run this much bulk?

Again, another 252/252 spread. Simple, yet effective, maximizing firepower and speed. I originally ran Modest instead of Timid for additional power in VGC14, but the chance of being outsped by Timid Salamence/Mega Salamence was one I could not afford to take. After running the calculations, Timid still had sufficient firepower to get the job done, and along with the advice of erring on the side of caution by my friend Zong Ying, I switched back to Timid.

 

Warstory 1: Asia Cup Singapore Qualifiers

Unfortunately, I had barely made it to Fortree City in my game when the day of the tournament arrived (at least I didn’t have to beg or borrow a cart with a Mega Ring this time), and thus did not have the VS Recorder to record matches.

While Kangaskhan was supposed to be the primary Mega Evolution for this team, I quickly realized how effective Mega Gengar was in the Swiss rounds, and the roles of the Megas were swiftly reversed. With Kangaskhan in team preview, most (if not all) Trainers assume that it would be brought in as the Mega Evolution, and not pay much attention to the Gengar lurking in the sixth slot. As such, Gengar was able to run riot throughout the Swiss rounds, trapping the opponent’s leads and leading to quick KOs, most notably being opposing Mega Salamence (being unable to escape from Zapdos) and Sylveon. Opposing Kangaskhan were dealt with with Terrakion, and my own Sylveon took advantage of the trap to Hyper Voice in relative safety. I finished the Swiss rounds in fourth place overall with a score of 6-1.

Having seen the amount of destruction my team could inflict, and the amount of control I had in the matches, I was more than satisfied with its current performance and looked to top cut as a chance to see how far I could push it. As the top cut would be best of three rounds rather than best of one, I briefly planned to use Gengar in round 1 before bringing out Kangaskhan in round 2 and possibly beyond. (Round 2s turned out to be the only times Kangaskhan ever saw action.) In a theoretical round 3, I would judge which Mega was making more headway and go with that.

This plan worked against Jaryl in the quarter finals, allowing me to trap his Mienshao early and leave it there, unable to really hit Gengar and unable to switch. While he brought in Bisharp to handle Gengar, I chose to bring out Terrakion and play the Sucker Punch mind games, which eventually allowed me to take out both Mienshao and Bisharp on the same turn, leaving his last Pokemon to be overwhelmed. In round 2, I went for Kangaskhan instead of Gengar, trading my Zapdos for his Swagger-boosted Lum Bisharp on turn 1 and slowly whittling him down with Sylveon, then finishing the job with Terrakion and Kangaskhan.

I knew that the semifinals would be an uphill battle from the first second of team preview as Max’s team was carrying the one thing I had hoped not to face with this team – Mega Mawile. Nonetheless, I started with Gengar again but was unable to deal with the rain-boosted Swift Swim Kingdra (which later turned out to have Choice Specs). On hindsight I should’ve gone for a Sludge Bomb instead of Icy Wind to guarantee the KO on his Thundurus, which dodged an Icy Wind and paralyzed my Sylveon. In the next game, I went for sheer power and Sucker Punches with both Bisharp and Kangaskhan, but the rain offense was too much for the team to make headway, and Mawile would always be in the back to clean up. While I lost 0-2, I nonetheless was satisfied with the team performance overall, and the team can only improve from here on out.

 

Warstory 2: Asia Cup Malaysia Qualifiers

Instead of changing teams for the following tournaments, I decided to stick with the same team for both the Asia Cup Singapore Last Chance Qualifiers and the Asia Cup Malaysia Qualifiers. The only changes made to the team was a small edit in Terrakion’s moveset, bringing on Double Kick to replace Leer, and dropping Volt Switch on Zapdos (which I never utilized) for Thunder for use against Rain teams.

Asia Cup Singapore LCQ ended for me at 4-2, and I was personally disappointed in myself as both my losses were due to mistakes and misplays on my end rather than anything else. The Malaysian Qualifiers was thus a chance to relax and have a good time with great friends of mine, and also a personal shot at redemption. I also wanted to see how far I could push this team and squash some personal doubts regarding my/its consistency.

Fun fact: Kangaskhan was on permanent parental childcare leave for this tournament and I ended up not using it at all.

Game 1: Shang Loh (XLFG-WWWW-WWX6-7MS8)

I personally swear that the match system hated us Singaporeans to match up so many of us against one another in the first round and the rounds beyond. That aside, I’ve battled with Shang many times before, both in practice and in tournaments, and I knew very well what he was capable of. This match proved to be very nerve-wracking; while I knew I had the advantage against his Mega Salamence, he was also aware of my Mega Gengar tactics and would no doubt play around them. I took a risk by going straight in on the first turn with Shadow Ball and Hyper Voice, to catch a possible Dragon Dance from Salamence but more importantly to take out the leading Bisharp, and it paid off when I picked up the KO on the incoming Aegislash. Bisharp came back in and reset the situation, and being unsure if a spread Hyper Voice would be able to OHKO Mega Salamence at that point of time, I went for Hyper Beam to be safe. The aftermath was my Zapdos and Terrakion facing down his Bisharp and Terrakion, and rather than go for Heat Wave, I went with Thunderbolt to be able to deal significant damage to both his Pokemon (though only one at a time). The final turn came down to my Zapdos locked into Thunderbolt and my 1-HP Terrakion facing a half-HP Terrakion with a Close Combat defense/Sp.Defense drop and a full-HP Bisharp, and I spent almost a full minute counting down the timer and working up the courage to press Thunderbolt on the Terrakion. Shang went for the Sucker Punch instead on Zapdos, hoping to take it out in conjunction with his Terrakion’s Rock Slide, as he had predicted that I would try to Protect alongside his Terrakion and thus went for an offensive play. However, I had Double Kicked the Bisharp instead, breaking through its Focus Sash, and picked up the win.

1-0

Game 2: Bryan Wong (3NJG-WWWW-WWX6-7MTL)

This was also another close game that I had in the Swiss Rounds. I had suspected the Excadrill was carrying the Choice Scarf and thus chose to go with the Terrakion-Zapdos lead to bait the Rock Slide and take it out early. His lead of Terrakion-Excadrill further me the impression that he would go for the double Rock Slide instead of the Earthquake – and even if he did, I could take the hit on my Terrakion with the Focus Sash. In hindsight, I might’ve tunnel-visioned too much on that particular scenario which led me to miss the chance to take out Bryan’s Terrakion by targeting it instead. My Scarf Zapdos outspeeds the Excadrill and (barring hax) would take it out with two Heat Waves before the latter could get off the two Rock Slides needed for the KO. As the match went on, I was forced to take a risk by using Icy Wind from my Mega Gengar on his Terrakion and Lapras, thus leaving my Gengar open to attack in exchange for dropping his Terrakion’s speed. The game-changer came when the following Hydro Pump from Lapras missed Gengar, which allowed it to stick around and trap the Terrakion at -1 Speed. This let my Bisharp run riot over the remainders of his team, Iron Heading both Terrakion and Sylveon and KOing them without issue. The salt in the wounds was the poison on Lapras that fainted it, although Bisharp could’ve easily dealt with it at that point in time.

2-0

Game 3: Justin Teh (G3JG-WWWW-WWX6-7MV8)

The Arcanine-Whimsciott lead by my opponent made me happy with my lead choice of Gengar-Zapdos. Mega Gengar quickly trapped both of them and the expected Tailwind from Whimsciott went up, but I brought it down to its Sash and got some decent damage onto the Arcanine with Thunderbolt from Zapdos, taking only a burn in return. Whimsciott protects on the next turn and my Mega Gengar survives the Overheat from the Arcanine before it goes down to a second Thunderbolt. At this point of time, I made the blunder of protecting in front of Whimsciott, as it can priority Encore that move and render my Pokemon useless (I did not want to risk a Shadow Ball just yet with the possibility of Weakness Policy). My early advantage allowed me to compensate and I took out Whimsciott with Zapdos’ last Thunderbolt before it fainted to the accumulated damage. Suspecting the Salamence at the back, I sent out my Bisharp to get a Defiant boost and switched Sylveon in to threaten it, whilst allowing my Gengar a respite as there was no longer a need for Shadow Tag and it might come in handy for an endgame. While Sylveon eventually went down before getting off an attack, it gave Bisharp the space needed to land the Knock Off on Aegislash to KO it, and Mega Salamence quickly went down to the 2v1 odds.

3-0

Game 4: Ryan Chiam (YFUG-WWWW-WWX6-7NWP)

Simply put, I got outpredicted early on and remained on the back foot for pretty much the entire match. While I managed to recover somewhat and pull it down to our final Pokemons, Terrakion had already lost its Focus Sash and went down to Landorus-T. My losing streak against Ryan Chiam continues.

3-1

Game 5: Kah Soon Tze (8PXG-WWWW-WWX6-7N2X)

Looking back at this game, I’m honestly not too sure what I was thinking. While Talonflame did manage to dodge a Rock Slide and thus survive longer than it was supposed to, I don’t believe that was the tipping point of the game. Rather, the early switches and my failings to react accordingly gave my opponent the upper hand and while it was close, I eventually lost this game.

3-2

Game 6: ‘Sora’ (CGHW-WWWW-WWX6-7N38)

At this point, I’m resolved to being much more offensive with Mega Gengar and to seize the momentum early from turn 1. I thus went with the early attacks on the Mega Metagross and this pays off with an early KO. Sableye Knocks Off my Zapdos’ scarf which is actually beneficial for me as it naturally outspeeds the opponent’s Pokemon and can now freely switch moves. While the Pain Split from Sableye did catch my attention for a bit, I was able to bait it out with a full-HP Bisharp and snipe Sableye with a Thunderbolt before finishing off the Cresselia with Knock Off.

I apologize for not remembering your name. x_x

4-2

Game 7: ‘Sunny’ (N39G-WWWW-WWX6-7N47)

Still in the ‘press buttons and faint things’ mindset, I maintained the same lead of Gengar-Zapdos and was greeted with Lando Calrissian and Emperor Palpatine (Landorus-T and Thundurus-I). I go on the offensive right from the beginning, taking out Landorus with a Hidden Power Ice and heavily damaging Thundurus with a single-target Icy Wind before it takes Gengar up into the sky with Sky Drop. Latios comes in, but is slower than my Scarfed Zapdos and I continue the pressure with Hidden Power Ice. My opponent mistimes his Psychic and ends up attacking with Latios before Thundurus frees Gengar from Sky Drop, allowing me to take out Thundurus with Zapdos before his Kangaskhan comes in. Although I lose Gengar to Fake Out and Psychic, I was not worried as I had Terrakion ready and waiting and Latios would faint to the next Hidden Power Ice. My opponent forfeits shortly after, ending my Swiss round runs.

Again, I apologize for not remembering your name. x_x

5-2


As Swiss rounds concluded, I learnt that I snuck into top cut in eighth place. I did not expect to make the top eight (I was looking at a top 16 finish at that time) and it was a pleasant surprise, but I knew the road ahead would be a rough one with many strong players awaiting in top cut.

Top 8: Eugene Tan

A classic case of ‘be careful what you wish for’. Eugene was the Singapore VGC champion in 2013 and one of our strongest players and I’ve always wanted to face him in a tournament to push myself to my limits. I had heard about his Mega Lopunny team going undefeated in Swiss and knew it was going to be hard no matter what – it handles Kangaskhan well and is one of the few Pokemon that can outspeed and threaten Mega Gengar, AND has Scrappy Fake Out to boot.

Needless to say I got steamrolled in both rounds, with Cresselia Skill Swapping away Pixiliate from Sylveon in round 1 and being unable to keep up with Eugene’s chipping game in round 2. It eventually came down to my Scarfed Zapdos against a Heatran and a Gastrodon and I decided to go out on my own terms by dropping a Thunder onto Heatran before conceding the game. A loss is a loss but the experience and what I learned from the games were more than worth it.

0-2

Closing

I’m personally really satisfied with this team. Not only did it do well with minimal losses due to matchups (read: I’m the one that needs improving more), it also feels very unique and personalized to myself. I’m almost willing to bet that there was only one Mega Gengar at the tournaments, and I’ve never seen Mega Gengar being really utilized as an offensive threat. Long story short, the team really feels like something I can call my own, and it is capable of getting the job done.

Where will this team go from here? Hard to say. I’m not fond of retiring teams and starting from scratch and instead prefer to enhance and evolve a team over time. As to how this one will grow, we’ll all just have to wait and see. 😉