A bit of a weird one this time, we (Matthew Hui and Justin Lok) will be sharing our thoughts and experience on a rather quirky team that we piloted in back-to-back tournaments in Malaysia, with varying degrees of success.
The starting point for the team was one move: Z-Mirror Move. It boosts Atk by 2 stages straight up, so effectively a Swords Dance even in the worst case scenario, and when used against an opposing Pokemon that has already used a move, it copies the move as would regular Mirror Move, then turns it into the equivalent offensive Z-Move.
It’s absolutely glorious. When Emil told me how it worked really early in the 2017 season, I was enthralled. But while I believe he used stuff like Mandibuzz for utility, I wanted something that could properly sweep and pick up KOs, and settled on Tapu Koko, which we all know to have a stronger Atk than SpA stat but has never really been able to abuse it.
And with Koko on board, I figured why not add Raichu. But since I was already going rogue with physical Koko, I went for a set that had also fascinated me ever since Isaac linked me a Japanese player’s writeup: Specs Raichu.
Together, they make an opponent react in Team Preview by preparing for conventional Surge, but are perfectly capable of holding their own against typical counters to the duo and force opponents to rethink their gameplan on the fly.
Malaysia Open Team
Tapu Koko @ Flyinium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Wild Charge
– Brave Bird
– Mirror Move
With Flyinium already there for Mirror Move, I added Brave Bird to get access to Supersonic Skystrike, which came in handy from time to time. Z-Mirror Move is just silly sometimes, letting you protect one turn then utterly smash things like Marowak (Shadow Bone) and Arcanine (Bulldoze) next turn. Even Garchomp will go down to a +2 Tectonic Rage, and you still have the boost even after picking up the KO.
Adamant because you need all the power you can get, and there’s no real value to winning speed ties against other Kokos.
Raichu-Alola @ Choice Specs
Ability: Surge Surfer
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Electro Ball
– Hidden Power [Ice]
– Volt Switch
Electro Ball spam. It does ridiculous damage, KOing things like Muk outright and keeps Arcanine on its toes. Psychic punishes the inevitable ‘switch Marowak into Surge’, and HP Ice handles Garchomp.
Kartana @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
Still the best mon at closing out games. Adds a layer of security against rain, and can take advantage of the surge duo weakening its counters.
Arcanine @ Choice Band
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
– Close Combat
Everyone expected bulky Arcanine by the end of the year, and often by the time they realise they’re facing Band it’s too late. Just does so much damage (KOs Lele) and CB Espeed can bail you out of so many situations.
Salamence @ Life Orb
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dragon Pulse
I wanted something that could reliably 2hko Arcanine and Marowak, while also checking Kartana. Sadly sometimes Misty Terrain had other ideas, but largely did what it was supposed to do, with Roar as an emergency solution to TR and Snorlax.
Hariyama @ Aguav Berry
Ability: Sheer Force
EVs: 28 HP / 252 Atk / 228 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Wide Guard
– Close Combat
– Knock Off
– Poison Jab
Kind of a last minute addition, which really didn’t work out. Wide Guard seemed ideal with 3 mons weak to EQ, and Sheer Force Poison Jab KOed opposing Koko. Sadly I never really found situations that warranted bringing it, and the bulk let me down when I did.
Malaysia Open – Matthew Hui
Left my notebook in the hotel, so just snippets from me.
R1 vs Izz Kusanagi WLL
Managed to stall out his Murkrow’s Tailwind in Game 1 and came out on top, but walked right into a T1 Quash in Game 2 and lost Raichu and the game. Game 3 was close, but I targeted the wrong slot with Z-Mirror Move, which put me too far behind.
R2 ? LWW
Yes, I double electric attack-ed into a Togedemaru switch-in turn 1 Game 1, then got run over by rain. At this point, bringing this team looked like a terrible idea.
Played much more carefully with Kartana in Game 2 to shut down rain (Pelipper was not sashed, which made life much easier), then managed to catch him switching up his leads away from rain with my own adjustment to Mence and took G3.
R3 opponent no-show
Well, got to catch my breath after nearly throwing my tournament away, so no complaints. Also got to watch Skyler stroll away from his seat in the middle of the round, yet still make it back in time to win.
R4 Destiny Soo LWW
Tried to be too clever by not bringing either Surge mon in G1, which initially looked brilliant when I caught the Marowak with Crunch from Arcanine. But then Mence got absolutely shut down by Misty Terrain, and it came down to Krookodile vs Hariyama and Tectonic Rage took me out.
Led Surge into Marowak/Krookodile G2, and Destiny looked thrilled. I sacked Raichu to get Psychic damage onto Marowak, brought Kartana in unintimidated, and rolled downhill from there. G3 was more of the same with him not having proper answers to Kartana.
R5 ? WW
Had no idea what to expect going in, and he continued to surprise me. His Whimsicott set up Tailwind then offed itself with Memento, allowing him to set up Acid Armor Muk while I took care of the partners. Wasn’t too worried since I knew Electro Ball would OHKO, but game froze so we had to restart.
G1.5 started terribly with Mimkyu revealing LO Shadow Sneak to take my Raichu out, then started Swords Dancing. When Mence came in later I thought I was done for as it fired off Devastating Drake… which tickled my Kartana. Physical Mence. With Intimidate from my Arcanine, the duo of Mimikyu/Salamence, even with SD and Dragon Dance respectively, couldn’t do enough damage to bring Kartana down.
G2 he went for the G1 strategy of setting up Muk, but Electro Ball wiped it out, just in case he had any illusions of being robbed of that discontinued game.
R6 Andrew Hoon WLW
He went for a standard sun approach in G1, which my Surge duo handled with ease. I don’t close things out as well as I should in G2, and end up with Surge against P-Z/Torkoal and having to predict if the Torkoal will Protect or not. I made the wrong call, and Wild Charge in terrain fails to KO the P-Z which sets up TR and handed him G2.
And I should have lost G3, as I forgot to account for a potential Smeargle lead to force TR up on his side, but he made a bizarre play by Protecting P-Z and let Smeargle go down, and without TR that was that.
R7 Gary Ng WLL
Somehow, I just needed one more set win for top cut.
With Lele-Blim being an easy lead for him, I nailed the Drifblim on T1 G1 with Wild Charge, then took advantage of his Arcanine’s relative lack of damage to stall out Tailwind and sweep with Raichu/Kartana.
He was ready for my tricks in G2, switching in Arcanine to allow his Drifblim to take a hit, and I failed to take advantage by doubling into it. Drifblim proceeded to be an absolute thorn in my side, effectively keeping me from doing anything with my Kartana, and by the time Tailwind ended I was barely hanging on. But my Koko took a hit and Wild Charged to finish off Arcanine, with the recoil leaving it at 2hp remaining.
He sent in Lele/Nihilego, while I had Raichu as my last slot. Needing to call the Protect and only having one shot since my Koko literally could only fire off one more attack before dying to recoil, I decided he couldn’t afford to leave Nihi open since Specs Psychic was an easy OHKO, and doubled the Lele. Lele Protected, and I lose G2. On hindsight I should have spread my targets, since it wasn’t clear if he knew my Raichu was Specs, and after the game he did tell me that he left Nihi open since it could take a Psychic from standard Raichu in psychic terrain.
By G3 he’d figured out my bag of tricks, and my last hope was Z-Mirror Moving his Arcanine and praying for him to make the greedy play with Bulldoze/Extreme Speed. Sadly he went for the safe Flare Blitz, and my +1 Inferno Overdrive left him with just a sliver before the Berry kicked in and sealed G3 in his favour.
Final Score: 5-2, #17
Kudos to Gary, who went on to win the entire Open, but oof, so close.
Midseason Showdown – Justin Lok
After a rather lacklustre performance from the day before (won on stream R4 to go 4-0, finished 4-3 with Top 32 CP), I decided to fool around with my good friend’s team, which he dubs the Superior Surge team.
He suggested dropping the Hariyama, which did little for him in the Open, for the Porygon2 set that we were accustomed to running, a change I was more than happy to make.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 148 Def / 108 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
The tournament was Best of 1 in Swiss, which offset my unfamiliarity with the team. I just needed 1 win and did not have to worry about how my opponent would adjust in future games. Thus, I did not have to think too much about matchups and such.
The first 3 rounds were wins, but they were closer than they had to be. I realised that I was using Tapu Koko’s Z move too sparingly, waiting for the right move to copy. Thus, I vowed to not hesitate in the following matches, using Supersonic Skystrike if I had to.
Round 4 VS Yoko
There were 2 highlights to this match. The first was an immediate Supersonic Skystrike into her leading Tapu Bulu, which knocked it out, no problem. However, she proceeded to set up with a Weakness Policy Metagross, triggered by her Scarf Garchomp. I managed to knock Garchomp to 50% health, but with Raichu and Koko gone, it seemed I would be defeated.
Choice Banded Extreme Speed to the rescue! KO-ed the Garchomp and saved the day.
Round 5 VS Matthew Hui
Of course I would end up fighting the creator of the team I was piloting. I did know his team beforehand, he was using a Pyukumuku stats boosting team. A bad read on the first turn gave him the opening he needed to set up (Double electric move into a Marowak switch in – I was overthinking and should have just punished with Psychic). I was able to take down his boosted Porygon 2 (thank you, Sacred Sword) and his Marowak couldn’t outspeed Raichu out of terrain after +2 speed (Flame Charge wth). In the end, I died to Pyukumuku stalling me out with Toxic.
Round 6 VS Wei Wen
The game was decided in the first turn.
-His Tapu Koko Twinkle Tackle into my Koko didn’t knock me out (he told me later on it was a roll)
-My Raichu KO-ed his Koko
-My Koko Supersonic Skystriked into his Lele which then died to Life Orb recoil in taking out my Raichu.
Koko was the last man standing from the first turn, and his Gigalith just got smashed by Choice Banded Arcanine at the end. Seriously, love the doge.
Final Swiss Score 5-1
Top 8 VS Shawn Tang
Team: Tapu Koko, Arcanine, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Gigalith, Porygon2
Up to this point, I had been leading Tapu Koko+Raichu and had not touched Porygon2 at all.
Shawn had a Trick Room mode, which combined with the fact that now the matches were Best of 3, made me feel super uncomfortable about my chances of getting a win. I lost the first game, as I failed to KO his Porygon2 with the combined efforts of Koko and Raichu. I had to adjust and bring Porygon2 to reverse Trick Room.
It worked wonders. Shawn’s Trick Room mode ironically didn’t have a surefire way to stop my Porygon2 from reversing Trick Room aside from Rock Slide flinches and I was somehow able to beat him, moving on to the semi-finals
Semi Finals VS Matthew (Again)
Team: Gyarados, Pyukumuku, Lucario, Porygon2, Tapu Koko, Marowak
Well, here we go again, I tried for the meme Z-move when his Marowak used Shadow Bone to KO my Raichu, wanting to punish it with a Never-Ending Nightmare. But of course, being the founder of the team, he knew what I was up to and switched out into Porygon 2, causing my Z-move and my Game 1 to fail. =.=
Game 2, my Raichu was able to survive Gyarados’ Life Orb Waterfall, thanks to Arcanine’s intimidate and fire off an attack at the start. After taking out Gyarados handily, I moved on to Game 3.
All this while, Matthew had been leading Gyarados and Marowak to threaten the Dragon Dance setup, so I had a sneaking suspicion that he would switch thing up and lo and behold, he led Pyukumuku. =.=
It came down to a boosted Marowak in all stats at ~60% Hp and his harmless partner Pyukumuku (only damaging move is Toxic) against a Toxic-ed Arcanine and a 1 Hp Kartana. I had to hope Arcanine’s Crunch was enough…
Kartana landed a critical hit with Smart Strike.
With that, it was enough to being down the Marowak and I was able to win with a 1HP Kartana against his Pyukumuku. I ran the numbers later on, and considering the Marowak had a boost in Defense, it would have been a roll without the crit.
Finals VS Wei Wen (Again)
Team: Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Kartana, Gigalith, Mandibuzz, Arcanine
I got destroyed by Wei Wen 2-0. With the prior knowledge from the match in the Swiss rounds, he was able to adjust and take game 1 decisively, protecting his Koko and caused me to lose Raichu for no gain.
Game 2 was equally quick. With my lead of Kartana against his Lele, I thought he would Protect but to my surprise, he didn’t and I lost Kartana to the combined attacks of both his Tapus. Even worse, my partner Raichu switched out, anticipating an attack on it, so I lost complete momentum right from the start.
Marowak’s usage had surged just prior to this tournament and this team punishes reliance on Marowak pretty nicely.
I am always comfortable with teams where I don’t have to think too much about the leads, and this team fits the bill (Tapu Koko + Raichu all day, everyday). The inclusion of Porygon 2 gives it better control against Trick Room as well. I really enjoyed this team and if anything, my unpracticed run at this tournament proves that this is the superior way to play Offensive Surge.