Let the Sparks Fly! – Singapore Open Top 16 and MSS Champion VGC’17 Team Report

Hey guys,

Isaac Lam here again, dropping by one final time this year with a quick word on the final iteration of my Surge Offense team, which I used to finish in the Top 16 of the recent 2018 season Singapore Open I, and win its accompanying Mid-Season Showdown. If you haven’t read my previous report yet, do give it a look here – it explains the fundamentals and origins of the team, which I won’t touch on much today.

I hadn’t expected the VGC’17 format to remain in play so far into the year, much less to be able to attend a big tournament back in Singapore before the end of the year, and so had mostly kept my hands off VGC’17 after leaving Singapore in July. When it occurred to me that I would be attending the Singapore Open running VGC’17 rules, I’d become too preoccupied with work and other personal affairs to seriously consider a full-on team switch, and withdrew the team from yet another premature retirement.

This time however, I had the help of Chia ‘Alan’s Brother’ Ming Ze, who had adopted the team in the post-Worlds season with reasonable success, and found myself running into Pokemon Showdown mirror matches against with hilariously often. His experience playing with the team locally in a Best-of-3 setting was invaluable to someone as disconnected from Singapore tournament play as myself, and went a long way into polishing the team’s final evolution, which you’ll see below.

The Team

Raichu-Alola @ Psychium Z
Ability: Surge Surfer
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Atk / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Fake Out
– Electro Ball
– Volt Switch
– Psychic

Tapu Koko @ Choice Specs
Ability: Electric Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 6 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Dazzling Gleam
– Volt Switch
– Electro Ball

Kartana @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 6 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Detect

As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

The team’s first three members remained unchanged this iteration, forming an offensive core which remained as solid as ever even as the season matured.

Ming Ze experimented with a myriad of options on both Tapu Koko and Raichu, including items such as Life Orb and Fairium Z on the former, and AlolaRaichunium Z on the latter; and moves such as Hidden Power Ice and Hidden Power Ground on both Pokemon. Ultimately I found the raw power of Tapu Koko’s Choice Specs Dazzling Gleam too valuable to drop, especially in a format which had grown increasingly unfriendly to the duo, with Togedemaru and Alolan Marowak usage surging.

The same logic applied to my choice of Psychium Z over Raichu’s signature Z-move, improving my matchup tremendously against the format’s strongest Lightning Rod users. (See damage calcs below) Ming Ze’s most prominently broadcasted tournament finish had been with AlolaRaichunium Z as well, which made me think many local players might have come to expect it instead of my traditional preference of Psychium Z. Running AlolaRaichunium Z would also mean having to drop either Volt Switch or Electro Ball for Thunderbolt, which I thought I could not afford.

  • 252+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Koko Dazzling Gleam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Togedemaru: 44-52 (31.2 – 36.8%) — 76.4% chance to 3HKO
  • 252 SpA Raichu-Alola Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Togedemaru: 78-92 (55.3 – 65.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO (Dazzling Gleam + Shattered Psyche has a chance to KO Togedemaru, 2x Dazzling Gleam + Shattered Psyche guarantees the KO.)
  • 252 SpA Raichu-Alola Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 92 SpD Marowak-Alola: 130-154 (77.8 – 92.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO (Probable KO in tandem with Dazzling Gleam)

Gyarados @ Waterium Z
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 6 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Waterfall
Ice Fang
– Dragon Dance
– Protect

Gyarados saw a fair bit of change, with its EV spread returning to the simpler one I had run early season. Adamant Wild Charge Arcanine had become a thing again during testing, and I wanted to maximize my chances at striking it first with Waterfall/Hydro Vortex. Maximum speed also ensured I would outspeed opposing Braviary, which had cost me in the last tournament I played in, and made my frequent games against Chelsea’s team, which would go on to win the Singapore Open, a bit trickier. Ice Fang returned to replace Flamethrower as my secondary attacking option to better cover opposing Garchomp, and since Choice Scarf Kartana, the primary threat I had needed Flamethrower for, had virtually disappeared from usage.

One big change I had wanted to make with Gyarados was to go all-in with the Flynium Z bluff. I’d been using Shiny Gyarados for the latter half of the season, though more for a practical joke in its nickname than for any practical reason. Tapu Bulu’s success had surged tremendously in the weeks leading up to the Singapore Open, however, and I worried that the trend could catch on locally, and make for a difficult matchup in the right hands. By pulling the Flynium Z bluff with Gyarados I hoped I could force opposing Tapu Bulu to play more conservatively and predictably, which I could punish with Dragon Dance or even a surprise Hydro Vortex. I thus replaced my trusty Rucky RuoHan with the Lunar event Gyarados, and opted for the most outlandish nicknames possible for the rest of my team – since Singapore events usually enabled Nicknames, to play up the threat of Bounce/Supersonic Skystrike against my opponents as much as possible. (<3 you Zong Ying) I don’t think the bluff ever came into play, unfortunately, since the one time I needed to bank on it, my Open 1 R1 opponent, Yoko, ended up predicted a Hydro Vortex instead and ended up beating me, though I still thought it a cool tech well-tailored to a specific quirk of Singaporean VGC events.

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Analytic
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 140 Def / 124 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Trick Room
– Thunderbolt
– Ice Beam
– Recover

Porygon2 saw the most radical revamp on the team, switching from a Download mixed set with Return to an Analytic set running Thunderbolt.

In testing, Ming Ze and I both noted that Garchomp usage seemed stronger than ever, probably owing to Sam Pandelis’ success at Worlds with a team built heavily around it. Scarf Variants were especially problematic for our team, as noted in my previous report, and we wanted a more concrete countermeasure against it than risky Fake Out/Intimidate + Dazzling Gleam reads with Tapu Koko, or Gyarados’ paltry Ice Fang which was extremely liable to Rock Slide flinches. That was when we discovered Analytic Porygon2, which would always KO even bulky Garchomp builds with a boosted Ice Beam.

Analytic is often overlooked in favour of Download’s consistency, especially since Porygon2 often wants Trick Room up, which would render Analytic a dead ability. By this point, however, both Ming Ze and I found ourselves playing Porygon2 much more frequently without Gigalith, as it felt like players had adapted to the infamous -PG core and knew now how to contain it effectively. Analytic allowed Porygon2 to play as a slow, bulky attacker hitting with either Super-Effective Ice Beams or Terrain-boosted Thunderbolts, both often boosted by Analytic since Porygon2’s naturally low speed has it often moving last. Many players were not prepared for the power Analytic Porygon2 packs, and even forget it exists as an option, as best demonstrated in my streamed MSS Top 8 match against Kevin Ngim, in which even the commentators never caught on to the absolute advantage Analytic gave me against Kevin’s faster Pokemon.

Porygon2’s EV spread was designed to ensure survival against -1 Pheromosa’s Physical All-Out-Pummelling and unboosted High Jump Kick, with the rest thrown into Special Defense. Analytic boosted Ice Beam doesn’t need any Special Attack investment to OHKO the common bulky Garchomp spreads without Assault Vest.

Gigalith @ Figy Berry
Ability: Sand Stream
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 6 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Protect
Heavy Slam
– Curse
– Rock Slide

I thought long and hard about replacing Gigalith in the lead up to this tournament. The Porygon2+Gigalith core had seen better days, and didn’t feel as self-sufficient as it used to be, as players prepared for it, and threats like Gastrodon+Slowking, Metagross and Tapu Bulu were rising in popularity. I tested Assault Vest Buzzwole extensively in this slot to improve my Tapu Bulu, Kartana, Togedemaru and Snorlax match-ups, and though satisfied with how it handled those threats, found myself missing Gigalith for its utility against a few common ‘cheese’ match-ups like Alolan Ninetales offense, Rain, Sun, Daniel Park’s Aerodactyl/Porygon-Z team and certain Hard-TR variations.

After a bit more testing, I felt confident that I could handle the threats Buzzwole help mitigate with the other 5 members of my team, and that Gigalith’s ability to hard-counter these miscellaneous strategies was much more useful. I thus optimised it towards responding to these specific strategies, replacing Earthquake with Heavy Slam for more consistent damage on lighter Pokemon like Tapu Fini, Porygon-Z, Tapu Bulu and especially Tapu Lele, and switching back to a simple 252HP / 252 Attack EV spread for maximum damage. Though Heavy Slam on Gigalith is something I chided earlier in the format (as Alan seems to fondly remember), Ming Ze’s success with it in the post-worlds metagame convinced me to drop it over Earthquake, which had begun to feel obsolete. Most opponents didn’t expect Heavy Slam, which allowed me to take many Tapu Lele and Mimikyu by surprise in testing, and it didn’t hurt having a more reliable option to hit other threats like Ninetales, Tapu Fini, Tapu Koko and Alolan Muk with.

Match-ups

Unfortunately I didn’t retain my notes from SG Open and the accompanying Mid-Season Showdown, so I can’t recount my matches from the days too well. I only remember losing to Yoko piloting a team with a Bulky Togedemaru, Tapu Bulu, Arcanine and Snorlax, and Wai Yin with a cookie-cutter Eevee team. The former I’ve always considered a terrible match-up, and the latter I misplayed terribly in, having not properly thought through my modern Eevee match-up before the event.

During the Mid-Season Showdown I would lose only to Australia’s Chris G in Swiss, whom I would go on to beat in the finals of the tournament. Chris, though piloting an interpretation of Tommy C’s infamous Double Duck team, which I considered a very positive match-up for myself, caught me off-guard in Game 1 with a Thunder-backed Gigavolt Havoc on his Tapu Koko in place of Tommy’s preferred Life Orb. Chris played the rest of the set well and cornered me in both our subsequent games, with a lucky Double Protect barely bailing me out in Game 2, though with the knowledge of his Tapu Koko’s unique item choice, I was able to adjust my game plan appropriately¬† for our Top Cut match and cinch the win which mattered more.

Instead I’d like to discuss some of my team’s common match-ups in greater detail, and the flowcharts I’ve intuitively developed over time to handle common teams. Special credits to Ming Ze, who helped me refine many of these flowcharts, and made me realise how well I knew them through what we call the ‘tuition teacher effect’.

Mandibuzz/Sam Pandelis’ Worlds Runner-up Team

Despite only finishing 2nd at the World Championships, Sam Pandelis’ team seemed a more popular inspiration for many players in the late 2017 season than even the Champion’s winning team, probably owing to how much easier it was to just jump into.

Mandibuzz was not a Pokemon I enjoyed playing against. Its absurd bulk further bolstered by the Special Defense boost it often received from a Psychic/Misty Seed made it difficult to outmaneuver methodically, even in Electric Terrain. In practice I realised that most players would bank on Mandibuzz/Tapu Lele being a safe lead against my team in Game 1, which I could capitalise on by leading Raichu/Kartana. Opponents would usually either Protect Tapu Lele or switch it out into Arcanine fearing Kartana, which I could punish by doubling into Mandibuzz with Fake Out and Smart Strike. The next turn I could switch Kartana into Tapu Koko and hit Mandibuzz with a boosted Electro Ball from Raichu.

  • -1 0- Atk Raichu-Alola Fake Out vs. 188 HP / 132 Def Mandibuzz: 7-9 (3.3 – 4.3%) — possibly the worst move ever
  • -1 252 Atk Kartana Smart Strike vs. 188 HP / 132 Def Mandibuzz: 43-52 (20.5 – 24.8%) — possible 6HKO
  • 252 SpA Raichu-Alola Electro Ball (120 BP) vs. +1 188 HP / 172+ SpD Mandibuzz in Electric Terrain: 134-162 (64.1 – 77.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

As the calculations above show it was by no means a guaranteed play; a low roll on Electro Ball could render my entire plan naught. It played out effectively often enough in practice though, and sometimes, I could still play around missing the KO on Mandibuzz and letting Tailwind go up, albeit a lot less easily, so long as Raichu was on the field in Electric Terrain the turn Tailwind went up.

What I did Game 2 tended to depend on what I observed from my opponent in Game 1. My main options included being emboldened into bringing my Surge Lead, or even bringing leading with Gyarados or Gigalith alongside Raichu. The latter was especially interesting to play with since I packed Heavy Slam, which not all opponents expected, allowing me to surprise opposing Tapu Lele on Turn 1 often.

Closer towards Singapore Open I noticed more players on Showdown running Wacan Berry on Mandibuzz. This was actually a lot easier for me to play against than the usual Seed-equipped Mandibuzz, since I could switch in Kartana for Tapu Koko and double into Mandibuzz, or simply lead Tapu Koko and Fake Out/Volt Switch into it T1 before switching Tapu Koko back in on T2. I just needed to catch the absence of Psychic/Misty Seed’s activation, which wasn’t always so easy…

SOAK-PG

The second of the two teams in vogue during the period, which I knew I had to watch for. SOAK-PG was actually a pretty good match-up for me, since Tapu Fini on such teams held a Choice Scarf and would thus be slower than my Tapu Koko, setting up terrain before me if led.

Against such teams I could quite confidently lead Tapu Koko/Raichu, and play by gut from Turn 1. I’d bring Gyarados and Gigalith in the back, and sometimes switch up either of the two for Kartana if I felt confident that my opponent would drop Arcanine or Trick Room.

Common leads include Tapu Koko/Porygon2, Arcanine/Gigalith and Tapu Koko/Arcanine. Against Tapu Koko/Porygon2 I would Fake Out/Electro Ball Porygon2, against Arcanine/Gigalith Fake Out Gigalith and Volt Switch into Arcanine for Gyarados, and against Tapu Koko/Arcanine Fake Out Tapu Koko and Volt Switch into Arcanine for Gyarados. These plays accounted for most of my bases, particularly the likely possibility that Arcanine on such teams would pack Bulldoze.

FAKE-PG

I spoke a lot of of my FAKE-PG match-up in my previous report, and how it was a big reason behind my decision to revive this team mid-season. After dropping Earthquake on Gigalith and Flamethrower from Gyarados the match-up is a little less solid, but still one I consider positive.

Once again Raichu and Tapu Koko tends to be the strongest lead against such a team, with Gyarados and Gigalith in the back unless I’m sure my opponent won’t be forcing TR up early game. Potential pitfalls include Snarl Arcanine, Scarf Kartana and Return Porygon2, which can all be handled if properly accounted for. It’s a lot harder to flowchart against this team because of how versatile it is, but it’s not too difficult to outplay in most cases.

Rain

Surge fights the Double Duck duo incredibly well for obvious reasons, and having Gigalith in tow makes for some sweet icing on the cake. Against most rain teams, the sight of Raichu in team preview does enough to keep opposing double duck duos at bay. Opponents usually opt to bring their teams’ non-rain modes, and that should be what you keep in mind when deciding on your four.

Against Tommy Cooleen’s variant of the team, leading Tapu Koko/Raichu with Gyarados/Gigalith in the back tends to be the best bet, exerting pressure both in and out of Trick Room with Raichu’s Shattered Psyche threatening Tapu Koko, and Gyarados’ Intimidate denying Buzzwole the Beast Boosts it needs to start a sweep. Sean Bannen inspired ‘Redneck-Rain’ is a bit trickier thanks to Tapu Lele and Metagross, and usually requires me to lead with either Tapu Koko or Raichu and Gyarados to get some momentum going on Turn 1.

In the event that Raichu and Tapu Koko should walk into a Double Duck lead, going for Fake Out into Golduck and Volt Switch into Gigalith targeting Pelipper should do the job.

Sun

I mentioned earlier how the team’s Sun match-up cemented Gigalith’s spot on the team even late-season; it’s pretty incredible having such a concrete match-up against a team archetype so infamously frustrating for most players. I’ll usually lead with Raichu and Tapu Koko, packing Gigalith and a filler slot in the back, depending on what filler Pokemon my opponent packs.

Opponents tend to go with Lilligant/Torkoal up front, and switch in Tapu Lele over Torkoal on Turn 1 to block Fake Out and attack. Using Shattered Psyche into Lilligant covers this scenario and OHKOs Lilligant even in Electric Terrain, whilst setting up a KO next turn with Raichu’s Psychic should Lilligant Protect. Tapu Koko will go for Volt Switch into the Torkoal slot this turn, either outright KOing it should it stay in, or denting Tapu Lele and letting me bring in Gigalith, denying Lilligant’s speed advantage the next turn even without Electric Terrain should my opponent Protect Lilligant and switch Torkoal out for Tapu Lele.

Drifblim

Drifblim+Tapu Lele is a terrible match-up for the team, and one I tend to consider an immediate round loss. Unless the Tapu Lele holds Choice Scarf for some unholy reason, my best option is to lead Tapu Koko/Porygon2, double Drifblim with a Volt Switch and Ice Beam, bringing in Raichu over Tapu Koko to exert some Fake Out pressure, and pray that I stall out the remaining turns of Tailwind, or that my opponent didn’t go for Tailwind. It’s by no means unplayable, but tends to be so excruciatingly difficult that you’ll basically be hoping for an opponent’s misstep or misfortune more than anything.

Drifblim+Tapu Fini is a very different matter. Leading Tapu Koko/Kartana exerts enough pressure on the opponent to force Tapu Fini out, or risk Kartana getting a Beast Boost early, which allows you to take out Drifblim, denying either a Swagger boost or Tailwind.

Persian + Tapu Bulu/Tapu Fini

The Persian + Slow Tapu match-up initially intimidated me, though now I consider it a pretty good one after thinking it through more thoroughly. The key is that opponents will definitely lead Persian/Tapu in Game 1, because of how intuitively it stops Raichu/Tapu Koko. This allows you to lead with Raichu/Kartana and secure an almost absolutely advantageous position.

Against Persian/Tapu Bulu, lead Fake Out your opponent’s Tapu Bulu and Smart Strike it with Kartana. Your opponent’s Persian will be forced to choose between denying Raichu’s Fake Out or Kartana’s attack, and will usually target Kartana with Fake Out. This lets you get Fake Out off onto Tapu Bulu, whilst still keeping Focus Sash on Kartana thanks to your opponent’s Grassy Terrain. How next turn plays is heavily dependent on your opponent’s full team, but options include switching in Tapu Koko over Kartana and Volt Switching out with Raichu, or bringing in Gyarados to absorb a Parting Shot and Intimidating Tapu Bulu. The key is to wear Tapu Bulu down and eventually bring in Raichu/Tapu Koko in a favourable position. Usually conserving Gyarados’ Z-move to pin down opposing Arcanine is crucial in such matches.

Against Persian/Tapu Fini your options are more flexible. Kartana’s presence on the field will force your opponent to play the defensive with Tapu Fini, allowing you to do anything from switching Tapu Koko over Kartana to power up Raichu on Turn 1, or trying to rack up damage with Kartana. In most cases preserving Kartana’s Focus Sash is not as crucial as you might think, and with Persian down, your team’s naturally high base speeds will carry it.

MetaMence

Now this one’s a bit tricky. How well this match-up bodes for you depends exclusively on whether Metagross packs Earthquake. This is usually possible to scout by looking for Ground immune Pokemon other than Salamence on the opponent’s team, but of course provides no guarantee.

If your opponent’s Metagross doesn’t pack Earthquake, leading Raichu/Tapu Koko into the duo is a no-brainer. Tapu Koko’s Dazzling Gleam 2HKOs even the bulkiest Assault Vest Salamence and Metagross can’t touch the duo, so just Fake Out Salamence and Dazzling Gleam on turn 1, and try for the kill on Metagross with Raichu’s Electro Ball on turn 2.

If Metagross does have Earthquake, the flowchart gets murkier. Options include leading Porygon2 to snipe Salamence early with Ice Beam, or even bringing in Gyarados to set up a Dragon Dance early-game. It really depends on your opponent’s team, and what kind of win condition you want to work towards.

Pheromosa/Tapu Lele

Information is once again the name of the game here, and this time it’s the matter of Tapu Lele’s item.

Choice Scarf Tapu Lele is easy; just lead with Tapu Koko and Raichu and Shattered Psyche Pheromosa on Turn 1. Regardless of how your opponent acts (though they’ll probably switch in Pheromosa’s partner for Tapu Lele to deny Fake Out), Pheromosa is not going to enjoy taking a Shattered Psyche which OHKOs through Protect even in Electric Terrain. This usually creates enough an advantage for you to carry the rest of the game in rather hilarious fashion, as Ian Lim found out the hard way during my Singapore Open Swiss run in a 4-turn 4-0.

Against other Tapu Lele sets leading Raichu/Kartana tends to be your best bet. Your opponent will almost certainly lead with Tapu Lele for the Turn 1 terrain advantage, the possibility of switching Tapu Koko in to deny that and Fake Out Pheromosa is your key to victory. Kartana itself works as a psuedo-check to Pheromosa in this match-up thanks to its Focus Sash, though only if you have Gigalith in the back, or your opponent’s Pheromosa doesn’t hold a Focus Sash of its own.

Eevee

I actually didn’t properly understand my Eevee match-up going into this tournament, which I probably should have known better than to do on hindsight, seeing that I would lose to it on Round 4 of Swiss during the Open.

What I did learn though was that Electro Ball from Tapu Koko has a good chance of OHKOing most Clefairy builds. Thus leading Tapu Koko/Kartana is probably your best bet, and hoping that Electro Ball picks off Clefairy and allows you to KO Eevee with Sacred Sword. Fake Out on Raichu gives you a lot of options against the niche techs that Eevee teams tend to employ, like Salazzle, Whimsciott and Incineroar, but be wary that smart opponents’ will often Double Protect on Turn 1 to burn it.

Ryota’s Worlds Champion Team

I’ve never lost to Ryota’s team in practice. With the team’s high skill cap, this result could be different playing against the man himself, I’m sure, but this is not a team I would expect to lose to when piloted by just anyone.

Raichu/Kartana does wonders as a lead, with Gyarados and Tapu Koko locking down just about any combination of Pokemon. Prioritise taking down Whimsicott as soon as possible, and remember that even under Tailwind, Ryota’s Marowak moves after Kartana. It’s also important to not get hasty firing off Electric moves into a Marowak switch-in, though the beauty of this match-up, really, is that Raichu and Tapu Koko’s coverage does most of the work for you, so that shouldn’t be an issue.

Arash Ommati’s Team

Arash’s take on Z-Nature Power Whimsicott is a lot tricker to play against, no thanks to his pick of Arcanine over Krookodile. Raichu/Kartana once against stands out as a lead, though I usually run with Gyarados and Porygon2 in the back. The key in this match-up once against is to get Whimsicott down as early as possible, and avoiding getting Electric Terrain up before Whimsicott’s gone, to keep Gyarados safe. It’s not a match-up I’m fond of playing because of how messy it can get, but it’s not one I would consider disadvantageous.

The Tansley & Thai-boi’s Special

This team is yet another one I seldom lose to, and regard as a pretty fine match-up. Leading Raichu/Kartana puts you in an advantageous position against most common lead match-up this team can muster, with the exception being Arcanine/Garchomp which lets you bring Gyarados in easily. In testing the most common lead choice was Togedemaru/Tapu Fini, which I’d respond to with Fake Out into Togedemaru and Leaf Blade with Tapu Fini, which usually gets you enough momentum to proceed. Taking out Togedemaru as soon as is safe (with Spiky Shield running a 33% chance of success, that is) should be your priority, and Surge should clean house as soon as the pesky rodent is put down.

Of the variations to the team which have taken off, Mandibuzz > Snorlax is probably the most threatening to me. There’s little I can do to deny a Togedemaru/Mandibuzz Tailwind, and my main hope is to stall out the duo until Tailwind goes down, which is easier than it may sound with Togedemaru’s lousy offensive pressure. Raichu/Tapu Koko would be my lead of choice against this pair, with Porygon2/Gyarados in the back.

Scarf Garchomp can be problematic on this if not accounted for, but otherwise is dispatched handily with Porygon2’s Analytic Ice Beam. It’s thus important to scout for Togedemaru’s item early on; if it holds Air Balloon, alarm bells should ring. Against such teams, Raichu/Kartana with Gyarados/Porygon2 is the way to go. I’ve played that specific match-up enough times to know, trust me.

Markus Statder’s US Internats Team

This strange team has been following me around for much longer than I reckon is due, right up until the last round of my Singapore Open run. It’s a pretty easy match-up, with Raichu giving me so many options to lock down the team’s unique tech of Choice Scarf Smeargle.

Raichu/Kartana is my favourite lead against the team, which usually goes with Smeargle/Tapu Bulu or Smeargle/Porygon-Z. The catch is to not Fake Out Smeargle (Unless it’s a false clone and isn’t holding Choice Scarf!) with Raichu and instead go for its partner, and try to snag a Beast Boost with Kartana. Once again the potential for Grassy Terrain to reactivate Kartana’s Focus Sash is huge and worth preserving Kartana for, and most of the team does not enjoy the overwhelming offensive pressure from your faster Raichu/Tapu Koko/Kartana/Gyarados, so just play to preserve whatever win condition seems most apparent and you’ll be fine.

Conclusion

That’s about all I hope to say this time around. Wanted to keep this report short, unlike my last one, which was gargantuan. It’s been a real blast being able to return for Singapore Open, and it’ll be an event that’ll hold a special place in my heart always, along with this team, which I still consider my favourite from all my years in VGC.

There’s been a lot of discussion this year about familiarity and comfort with a team, and if its better to rotate frequently between teams or just stick with one. While I don’t think there’s any easy, catch-all answer to this question, I think the match-up analysis says a thing about what such extensive experience with a team can do for you, allowing you to visualise plays someone with similar skill but less experience may not see so intuitively, as Ming Ze had noted to myself on multiple occasions. While I don’t doubt that there are many players more skilled than I am, who can deconstruct teams at a glance to the level I took a year to get to with this team, and that I’ve had to ditch the team before due to an overwhelmingly hostile metagame during the Oceania International Championships, my experience with VGC’17 was that the familiarity you get from sticking to a team can be worth it, and possibly even worth more than a ‘better’ team for the current metagame if you’re not comfortable with it.

Thanks to everyone who’s been a part of this journey so far. Cheers.

Overall Team Accomplishments

  • 3x Premier Challenge Top Cuts (Isaac Lam, Low Kit Meng)
  • The Mirage Angbao Challenge Champion (Isaac Lam)
  • Malaysia MSS Top 4 (Ryan Chiam)
  • Singapore MSS Top 8, Champion (Isaac Lam)
  • Singapore MSS Top 8, Top 4 (Chia Ming Ze)
  • Hong Kong Regionals 20th Place (Isaac Lam)
  • Top 32 Liverpool MSS (?) (Shang Loh)
  • Singapore Open 16th Place (Isaac Lam)