Report posted on behalf of Matthias (@Mattadome02).
Hey guys, I’m Matthias Teo and I play in the Seniors division, where I recently got 3rd at the 2017 Latin America International Championships. With it being my first year playing VGC with a competitive mindset and a hunger for the World Championships, I thought it would be a pretty good idea to write about the choices I made in the season up ‘till now, both in my play and in teambuilding.
THE TEAM BUILDING PROCESS AND THE GOALS I WANTED TO ACHIEVE
I’ve actually been using this team since the Oceania IC, where I placed 10th after going 4-2 with Tapu Lele/Tapu Fini/Kartana/Arcanine/Porygon2/Gigalith, but I decided to switch it up a little for Brazil by replacing Tapu Fini with Tapu Koko to provide much needed offensive presence and pressure. The whole idea of having such heavy hitters in the team was to try to get my opponents to respect the fact that this team worked by switching things in and out while still doing massive amounts of damage, and that if they couldn’t halt my momentum early on, I would be able to take the game with relative ease. Another aspect of this team was that it could so easily switch between slow and fast modes thanks to Porygon2 making it pretty difficult for opponents to adjust if they don’t have any way to deny Trick Room. And even if they did have and bring a counter to my slow mode, it usually could not match up with the fast, hyper offense-esque mode that this team was made for.
Tapu Koko @ Choice Specs
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Volt Switch
– Dazzling Gleam
– Electro Ball
Tapu Koko was by far the most important member of the team, mainly because it dealt a huge amount of damage while giving me control over matchups with Volt Switch. The move caused annoyance to my opponents and could help me to easily adjust to whatever my opponent switched into, something that I felt was missing with Tapu Fini. Choice Specs was also a fairly interesting choice during the team building process, when I determined that I wouldn’t be switching between moves very often and wanted the extra firepower to take out threats that I usually miss with a Life Orb such as Arcanine or Tapu Lele in terrain.
The most interesting tech I have on this team is definitely Electro Ball, giving me a potential OHKO on slow threats such as Snorlax or Gigalith. This also meant that I needed to be Modest, since Timid just couldn’t cut it on Snorlax and Electro Ball was hitting for max base power either way. In retrospect, Electro Ball was an extremely underused tech on Koko throughout the tournament – I only used it once to eliminate Carson’s Snorlax on stream – because not as many people brought Snorlax or Gigalith as I had hoped. Koko probably could have come in very handy in my Top 4 match against Jan Tillman had I not lost it to a wrong stat number on my team sheet, but more on that in the match review.
PS: 252+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 76 HP / 12 SpD Arcanine in Electric Terrain: 180-213 (102.8 – 121.7%) — guaranteed OHKO ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
Tapu Lele @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 88 HP / 252 SpA / 168 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
Pretty standard scarf set on Tapu Lele to out-speed neutral speed-natured Pheromosa. I chose to run Lele over Fini mainly because I felt that Fini could not dish out damage fast enough, usually requiring either a Choice Specs or a Calm Mind boost to be a hard hitter, and I wanted to have a way to stop stray Fake Outs that could thwart my team’s momentum or give a heavy boost to my opponent’s. I experimented with different coverage options such as Shadow Ball or Hidden Power Fire but I settled on Thunderbolt as my only non-STAB option so that I could take surprise KOs on the likes of Gyarados and have a way to deal some damage to Celesteela without instantly dying. The fact that Tapu Lele is able to usually move first, bar other scarfed Pokémon, and pick up fairly crucial knockouts quickly was also a huge selling point in my decision to use Choice Scarf over any other Tapu Lele variant.
Arcanine @ Figy Berry
EVs: 76 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 164 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
Your average mixed offense-support doggo. Originally ran Snarl in place of Roar because of the abundance of Special Attackers running around, but decided that Roar would be the play both in Melbourne and Sao Paulo because of the fact that Seniors like to run anything and everything under the sun (and moon), including ridiculous set up Pokémon such as Eevee. EVs allowed me to output the most damage I could with Flare Blitz and allowed me to survive a Modest Psychic from a Tapu Lele in Psychic Terrain and a Shattered Psyche outside of it. Speed allowed me to outspeed max speed unboosted Gyarados and Xurkitree, though it didn’t help that much against the former because of my lack of Wild Charge. Looking back, the spread definitely could have been improved to better suit the more defensive and bulky playstyle of this Arcanine so that it could stick around and cycle Intimidates, but I was quite satisfied with its run throughout both tournaments.
Kartana @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Smart Strike
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
When I was thinking of Pokemon to add to this team composition, I immediately thought of Kartana because it covers Arcanine’s water, ground, and rock weaknesses with a STAB Leaf Blade from a base 181 attack stat, deals a hefty amount of damage with STAB Smart Strike to Tapu Bulu and Tapu Lele, while also packing Sacred Sword for coverage. Kartana on this team just felt essential to dealing with threats more easily, and managed to gel perfectly with its team mates.
EVs are to max out attack and speed. That’s it. Not much thought going into it, but I figured that since I wasn’t running any special item like a Z Crystal or Scope Lens, I didn’t need to bother with defensive spreads since Focus Sash guaranteed that I could stay on the field and take at least 2 hits before fainting. For those wondering why I chose Detect, a move with 8PP over Protect, a move with 16PP, when they both have the same effect, it’s because any Pokemon with Protect using Imprison spells immense trouble for Kartana, stopping it from protecting and blocking powerful attacks that could otherwise KO it.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 100 Def / 164 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Trick Room
– Tri Attack
– Ice Beam
I figured I’d need a way to control the speed especially since, even in early iterations of the team, I ran an ultra-slow Pokemon as a means to fight Trick Room. But I decided that instead of just bringing said Pokemon in a Trick Room matchup, I should just run Trick Room myself to give myself an edge against teams that don’t have a concise game plan for fighting a team with equally effective fast and slow offense modes. For all of these reasons, I chose Porygon2 because it could basically take any hit in the world (except a fighting move from Pheromosa/Buzzwole) and live with a very respectable amount of health. Even without the Trick Room aspect, Ice Beam and Tri Attack still do decent damage, with Ice Beam able to OHKO Garchomp at +1 from Download.
This spread was based on an early December meta spread by World Champion Wolfe Glick that was tailored more towards taking special hits, just with the HP tweaked to produce an odd number so as to have 1 more HP left after a Nature’s Madness. For a long time now, I’ve been telling myself that I should change the spread to be a little more physically defensive, but I never got around to doing it, resulting in a not-that-optimal spread going into the IC. Even the rain benchmark that the spread was originally designed to hit was no longer relevant thanks to Pelipper now running Brine! That being said, the EVs did not matter much in the end and Porygon2 ended up being the most important utility Pokemon on my team.
Gigalith @ Rockium Z
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Stone Edge
In my opinion, Gigalith is my absolute favourite Pokemon on this team, and not just in terms of its design, but in its utility too. This was my choice for a complementary Pokemon to Trick Room because it accomplished a few things for me. The first being that it sets up sand, denying weather reliant teams such as Double Duck, Ninetales-Sandslash. and Torkoal-Liligant. Something interesting that I noticed while playing Gigalith is that it hits all other major weather setters for super effective damage in Rock Slide. The next thing that makes Gigalith such an amazing Pokemon this format is that in Trick Room it out-speeds every relevant Pokemon that isn’t Torkoal and that is really important because it can fire off Rock Slides to potentially flinch or almost always go first with a 180 base Continental Crush, securing really crucial KOs, most notably on Arcanine at -1, Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. I did not sweat over trying to optimise this set because I just wanted to output the most damage and take fast kills. Rock formation/10 would use again.
LEADS AND MATCHUPS
( in the back) – This lead allowed me to exert pressure with Specs Koko that can easily threaten huge damage with a Thunderbolt or Volt Switch, allowing me to re-position and possibly set up Trick Room as Gigalith comes in.
– This lead can just dish out a huge amount of damage and can rush down opponents if they don’t have the tools to pick off either of these Pokemon on the first one or two turns.
– Amazing lead, provides Intimidate support to bolster Tapu Koko’s fairly decent Defense and lets it live attacks that it usually couldn’t, which helps Koko either deal huge damage in return to the opposing Pokemon or Volt Switch around, as I love to so much.
– Extremely standard lead to ensure Trick Room goes up almost every time. Intimidate ensures that a double up with physical attacks does not KO unless Porygon2 is staring down a strong Fighting-type Pokemon in the form of Buzzwole or Pheromosa.
Anything else that could help my team matchup – Although these leads are some that are fairly standard and work against many different teams, there are still a fair amount of ways to mix and match Pokemon depending on the match up to turn the tides in your favour.
– Garchomp is usually not much of a problem to this team, but a very well-played Garchomp – where its trainer can preserve it well and assess how important Garchomp is to the matchup, which was quite rare when testing on Showdown and during the tournament itself – was a weakness I identified only after the tournament started when I fought Carson’s Choice Scarfed Garchomp in Round 2.
– Nihilego manages to tear through Tapu Koko, Arcanine, and Tapu Lele; especially when Choice Scarfed. Buzzwole has the ability to take advantage of the fact that this team has 3 Pokemon weak to fighting with its powerful All-Out Pummeling and huge Defense.
– If I cannot clear Pheromosa early with my Tapu Lele and it is able to get a Beast Boost, it can easily snowball into an easy victory for my opponent.
THE TOURNAMENT RUN
R1 – José (BR) (WW)
R2 – Carson St. Dennis (US) (WLW)
This match was streamed, you can watch it here: https://youtu.be/64aDZXFdAJI?t=1h32m44s (starts at 1:32:44)
R3 – Ernesto Serpa (PU) (WW)
R4 – Guilherme (BR) (WW)
R5 – Dale Causey (US) (LL)
I went in with a 4-1 record, and as the 2nd seed which meant I was paired up with 7th seed Ben Goff who happened to be running Eevee, a matchup I intensively practised with Ryan Loh against so I knew I was pretty ready. Unfortunately, due to a team sheet error I lost my Tapu Koko and received a Game 1 loss in my Top 8 set, meaning that I needed to go into my Top 8 set playing perfectly with no room for error.
Top 8 – Ben Goff (US) (LWW*)
*I was served a Game 1 loss for a teamsheet error
Top 4 – Jan Tillman (GE) (WLL)
FINAL THOUGHTS AND REFLECTIONS
I went into this event hoping to bring home points with a Top 8 finish, but after seeing how stacked the competition was, I couldn’t say that my confidence wasn’t deflated. However, I had faith in my play and the team I brought and I went into every set telling myself that I’d play to the best of my abilities and that, ultimately, playing Pokemon was about making friends, and most importantly, having fun. I’m eternally grateful for all the support back home from people tuning into the stream in the middle of the night to spur me on for Top Cut.
Looking back on how the Latin America IC unfolded, I can safely say that I did my best, I have no regrets.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS AND THANKS
My Mum – For being by my side throughout the whole tournament and sustaining me with food and water, I probably wouldn’t have made it as far as I did without your support.
Ryan Loh – For helping with team building and consistent practice from even before Melbourne, and even giving me the idea of running Choice Specs Electro Ball Tapu Koko.
Melvin Keh – For being a great travel partner to my Mum and I, and helping me out with my Top 8 matchup after my one game-and-Pokemon deficit.
Kester – My Seniors compatriot who cheered me on from home and vetted the team in its infancy.
Aunty Adelene and her kids – For giving the moral support and energy after each round.
To everyone who supported and believed in me being able to get such an achievement after only half a year of playing VGC, I am so grateful and I couldn’t thank you guys enough.