Szymoninho's Strategy Corner

Competitive VGC player's blog.

London Internationals - General Thoughts and Team Report

After London Internationals finished last week, I made a decision to postpone taking part in any official Pokemon tournaments at least until the next season kicks off. In my opinion this year’s circuit is pretty bad for many people for a number of reasons.

 

The biggest one is that we don’t get almost any information early enough. We’ve been bothering with this for a really long time and it’s not getting any better. We still don’t have almost any info on the remaining Internationals or stipends and travel awards that people have already started to fight for, entry fees for most Regionals (as far as I know) and, probably the biggest one, tournament format. We receive most of that information after we’re basically forced to book our flights for the event or sometimes even when the event is just about to start.

 

Another huge problem is the increased best finish limit combined with an increased CP bar for a Worlds invite AND increased CP gaps between top cut placings at Regionals and Internationals. This is something that might not affect all players but it’s got a pretty big deal to me. I live in Poland and we don’t have any tournaments here - not even Midseason Showdowns or PCs. This means that all of my CP needs to come from Regionals and Internationals. My finish at Internationals wasn’t that good - top 64 (no day two though) which awards me 80 CP and I’m OK with that. But let’s say I finished top 16 after going 11-3 and winning about 70% of my games. That awards me 180 CP, which is barely a third of an invite, so I would need to get 320 CP from just Regionals. With two really good runs I can obviously get an invite but that’s hard to do and you know that in the end we’re playing Pokemon and in two big tournaments something WILL go wrong. So I need to attend three or four Regionals, which would cost me roughly around €600 and the trip to worlds is another €1000+ not to mention the amount of time you need to put into this game to go to real life tournaments and actually do well. That’s simply not worth it. Why do I think that’s a problem? Because this system very strongly favours players with access to a lot of money. Or for example players living in “weaker” parts of the US, who are going to max out on their PCs and MSS’ without putting too much effort into it, attend a Regional or two and the American IC and then get their flights to worlds for a much lower price. This is obviously good for them and if i was in such a spot, I’d definitely go for it as well but this makes the circuit less competitive by a fair margin.

 

From my perspective participating in online tournaments makes a lot more sense. You don’t need to spend any money or time on traveling and from my experience, they’re a lot better organized with basically all information being available as soon as signups start and hosts basically always responding immidiately to your messages. There’s been a lot of complaints about the official circuit recently and this is my solution - let’s switch to the unofficial tournaments both online and grassroots, something Japan has been doing for years now. The prizes aren’t as big as in Internationals or Worlds (but as I said, making it to top 16 at Worlds wouldn’t cover all my season expenses) but I’m absolutely sure that they’ll get bigger once we get more people into them. Nugget Bridge Major gave out over $800 to the winner, Smogon is just about to host a VGC tourney with around $1400 on the line (free to enter for everyone). On the other hand London IC entry fee was £40 ($50). There were 549 Masters at the event. $17,500 was given out in VGC Masters division prizes. Difference? Just under $10,000. Something worth considering for sure.

 

Enough ranting, let’s move on to the team. I was struggling pretty hard to come up with a really good team so I decided to scout some high rated players on Showdown and saw @pokespace2 doing really well with Koko, Raichu, Scarf Lele, Celesteela, Garchomp and Milotic. I immidiately tried it out and I loved it. I changed a few things though (Koko item, Raichu Z move from Electric to Psychic). It worked really well except for Trick Room teams with Torkoal or sometimes Marowak, so I asked the creator of the team if he had that problem and what would he change. He immidiately said he’d use a Wide Guard Araquanid. After doing even more games on Showdown I got into high 1600s and decided not to expose the team anymore because I knew that almost everyone high placed on the VGC ladder was going to London. I switched to Battle Spot and did reasonably well in the first couple games. About two days before the tournament I managed to make top 10 in world ranking with a record of 33 wins and 6 loses.

f:id:Szy:20161218012135p:plain

Alright so now a few words about the team. I was leaning towards a more offensive team because of sudden death and also because I was expecting many defensive teams at the tourney, so being able to deal a lot of damage would make the games shorter, potentially less energy draining. Moreover, even though I usually prefer running more defense-oriented teams, I tend to think that offensive builds are less weak to RNG (mostly critical hits and additional effects like full paralysis and flinches) because of not relying on taking many hits.

f:id:Szy:20161218012147p:plain

Raichu is basically the fastest thing is this format, provides a lot of offensive pressure, its STAB attacks get boosted by both of my Terrains, which likely was my main reason for using it. Protect works really well for stalling out Trick Room and is simply a good move in general, better than everything else that I tested. Z-Psychic in Psychic Terrain KOs basically everything, even some semi bulky mons like Arcanine and Tapu Bulu, so having that option available was really handy, even when my opponent expected it.

I like Koko for his speed and being able to hit hard for both spread and single target damage. It’s one of the best Celesteela checks in the format and a fantastic mon in general.

A really fast Lele was chosen to create even more offensive pressure. Keeping it in the back is really handy as late game Scarf Psychic or Dazzling Gleam can lock up games. It also boosts Raichu’s Z-Move making it really powerful. I don’t think that Scarf Tapu Lele is bad at all, in my opinion Life Orb is a lot worse and I don’t get why people are even using it. I settled on Timid nature to outspeed max speed Pheromosa, Adamant Scarf Garchomp, boosted Porygon-Z and Eevee while still OHKOing 4 HP Tapu Koko in Psychic Terrain, so that my Celesteela can win from there.

Celesteela is likely the best mon in the format and its resists pair really well with the rest of the team. Both Raichu and Lele outspeed and OHKO opposing Tapu Koko provided that the correct Terrain is up, which sometimes can seal up the game. I decided not to include my spread as I think it’s pretty good and I might use it in future.

Garchomp wasn’t used too often but whenever I brought it, it did a lot of work. It does well against Marowak and Torkoal, both of which are huge threats for this team. It also hits Tapu Bulu really hard. I chose Dragon Claw because it does more damage to everything you’d want to use Rock Slide against. Focus Sash is a really good item as I can safely attack at least once and bring opponent’s Pokemon down to Tapu Lele, Koko or Raichu KO range.

The last Pokemon was used almost exclusively against Trick Room teams. Araquanid didn’t get too much attention but it’s a really good mon. I decided to run minimum speed just in case I play a Trick Room team with a Vikavolt on it (base 43), which is quite a threat and I wanted to underspeed Marowak anyway so that’s no big difference. EVs let me OHKO 252 HP / 4 Def Marowak while hitting a good HP number for Sitrus Berry recovery. Leech Life is here to help with Oranguru in Sun. Liquidation does more damage to basically everything else, even when it’s resisted, so that last move isn’t really needed. I briefly considered Toxic and kinda regret not using it because Porygon2 and Gastrodon turned out to be pretty problematic.

I lost to 000aj in 4th round, Dark Psiana in the 8th round (read his top 16 report here) and to a Spanish player in the final round. Did not make day two, final result - top 64 (56th place).

 

I think that’s it. If you have any questions, please let me know, I’ll be more than happy to answer them.

And What If He's An Idiot? - VGC Players' Biggest Sin

Hello everyone! I'm finally back from Germany Nationals and since I don't have as much time as I had last year, I won't be attending any other Nationals, so the season is pretty much over for me. Because I know that at least one of my friends will be using a very similar team to the one that I used in Stuttgart, I won't be posting it until EuroNats are over. The topic that I'd like to discuss today is something new to my blog - making plays.

I've always heard people complaining about bad luck, especially this year, in a format of Prankster Thunder Wave and Scarf Rock Slide. I'm not sure whether I'm okay with it or simply used to it but either way I consider this perfectly normal and somewhat reasonable, mostly for newbies. What I however cannot understand are complaints addressed to player's opponents about their "questionable" plays and blaming their unpredictability or sometimes even inexperience for complainer's loss.

"Overprediction" is a term that exists with the Pokemon community since its very beginning. It's got very popular among Pokemon Showdown! players and frequent-but-recent Nugget Bridge posters and, to be perfectly honest, it makes me cringe every time I read it. Saying that you overpredicted insinuates that you made the correct play but it's your opponent's fault that you lost. Should he have made a different play, so that you could've won? Obviously not! So if you lose, whose fault is it? Never the winners, given that rules of the game are respected. After taking this into consideration "overprediction" becomes a "misprediction".

This is the moment when we ask ourselves the question: how do I know what play is my opponent going to make? Which "prediction level" should I start the game on when we face each other in the first round of swiss at Nationals? The answer can be suggested by asking another question: do you need to predict on the first turn of any game? I don't think you do. One of the worst choices you can make is to risk losing when you don't need to. Going for a double target onto a Pokemon that can Protect while its partner threatens at least one of your 'mons is an example of plays to avoid. I think the best way to win a game is to keep progressing your board position turn by turn by making moves that, in worst case scenario, give you the lowest odds of losing. For example, if someone stays in with their Ferrothorn in the face of your Heatran (which is not threatened directly by anything) just to KO your Gardevoir and they manage to do it because you get greedy and use Substitute while attacking with Gardevoir, you're the only one to blame; saying that you "overpredicted" won't make you a winner. Taking into account that your opponent can make bad and stupid plays is the key to consistency.

I hope that these few words will help some people become more consistent and less arrogant towards their opponents. What you have just read is not simply my opinion - it's an observation that can be made by watching most consistent players in the world chose their moves. Blaming only yourself for your loses and learning from them is the key to constantly improve your playing abilities. I decided to write this post after hearing multiple complaints at Nationals regarding the plays that some people's opponents have made. I think that noone should say things like "I lost because he didn't protect when he should have" or "He went for the Terrakion speed tie while he wasn't Scarfed". If your opponent "should've" made a different move, why did he win?

Until the next time!

VGC 2015 Mega Evolution Tiers

Hi! This place has been pretty deserted for a while, I wanted to write a team report a while ago about my Premier Challenge team (and Worlds too, if I managed to buy tickets or won a paid trip instead of just an invite, lol) but I somehow always found an excuse not to do that and now noone is interested in VGC 2014 anymore, so let's move on!

I haven't buit a successful team yet but I have been testing some stuff, so I think I can already tell which Megas are the most powerful. That's only an opinion, so don't take it very seriously, maybe some of these Pokemon will develop during the season or unleash their hidden potential... or something and will be able to jump up a tier or maybe even two. Anyway, this is just for fun, so feel free to share your opinion if you'd like!

S

These are in my opinion the top tier Megas in the game. Their combinations of power, stats, ability and typing is very unique. I won't compare them to each other, because these Pokemon are very different and counter completely different stuff.

A

While slightly weaker than the "big four", all of these Megas are really powerful and hard to deal with even when having two or three counters to them. Mega Camerupt may seem a little odd here, given it's not very popular, but I think its time is going to come one day, since it's got really good stats, typing and ability.

B

These Pokemon are significantly weaker than S tier Megas but all of them have something unique, whether it's typing, stats, or combination of movepool and ability. I'd expect at least two of them to become more popular later in the season, because every single of those Pokemon fills a niche.

C

I decided to put here all the Megas, that have either good stats or ability, but each one of them is missing something. Mega Altaria's power is a bit lacking, Mega Garchomp's and Ampharos' ability isn't good enough while the rest of the pack doesn't have either interesting typing or some bulk.

D
everything else

Yeah, that's a lot Pokemon but I don't believe they can be very successul. Of course, I won't be surprised if any of those wins a Regional or a Premier Challenge but I really wouldn't expect more. All of these Pokemon don't have enough to offer and are simply weak to lots of common stuff.

Germany Nationals Team

It's been a while since Germany Nats and I've finally found enough willpower to write a few words about my team. It's nothing special but at least not another bog Kangaskhan team that everyone has read tones of articles about.

The story begins at the point when Lajo shows me his Mega Tyranitar team, I can't remember a single Pokemon on that team right now aside from the one mentioned before, but after that I decided to build my own team around the same idea - setting up a late game Tyranitar sweep. I started with two Pokemon - Tyranitar and Amoonguss, then came Salamence due to its fantastic synergy with these two, ability to handle Garchomp and Intimidate support. The rest came after some testing.

 

 

Tyranihax (Tyranitar) (M) @ Tyranitarite
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Rock Slide
- Crunch
- Dragon Dance
- Protect

Team's Mega. I did try to use a bit more complex EV spreads, but this one proved to be the best. Max Speed lets me outspeed base 70's and neutral nature 80's before and 130's after a Dragon Dance. I felt that investing in bulk was unnecessary because Sand and Intimidate already boost Tyranitar's defences. I think that Megatar is one of the best Megas, if you haven't tried it out yet you definitely should. The ammount of its resistances provides a lot situations where I could set up a Dragon Dance and sweep from there. After Nationals I realized that Earthquake over Crunch provides a lot better coverage but fortunately during the tournament there weren't any situations where I could've benefited from that change.

 

Haxoonguss (Amoonguss) (F) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 140 Def / 116 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Giga Drain
- Spore
- Rage Powder
- Protect

Amoonguss was probably the Pokemon that I picked most frequently due to being the only supporter on the team. Thanks to Regenerator it can survive really long and take hits for the team all day long. The EVs let it survive Choice Band Talonflame's Brave Bird after an Intimidate, which was crucial for the team, so Talonflame couldn't ruin Megatar's setup. Lum Berry may seem like a bit of an odd choice but it is actually my only way to counter Smeargle (usually paired up with Kangaskhan). It also helps a lot against Meowstic, which usually Swaggers Amoonguss when it doesn't have Psychic. I was intending to make it a little faster the day before the tournament just to avoid speed ties with Reuniculus and Slowbro/king (I've once played against a min Speed Safeguard Slowbro in practice) but it actually didn't matter.

 

Haxamence (Salamence) (M) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Fire Blast
- Stone Edge
- Dragon Pulse

Here comes probably the most standard pick on the team - Scarf Salamence. In my opinion it's probably the best offensive partner for Mega Tyranitar. I really needed something to KO Garchomp as I can't Rage Powder its Earthquakes away. When practicing with this team I got addicted to Intimidate to the point that each game I lost in Germany was against either Wigglytuff or Bisharp. I chose Fire Blast over Flamethrower to 2HKO Amoonguss and Aegislash, and one shot Mega Lucario. I decided on Modest nature to deal more damage (mostly to Kangaskhan) because I never run into Salamence mirrors and most people run Timid anyway. I probably should've moved some EVs from Speed to HP and/or both defences as this speed stat isn't supposed to do anything special and having some extra bulk is always nice.

 

Rotom-Hax (Rotom-Heat) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 244 HP / 100 Def / 76 SpA / 28 SpD / 60 Spe
Bold Nature
- Thunderbolt
- Overheat
- Will-O-Wisp
- Protect

I needed a fire type and decided on Rotom-Heat due to its ability to stay in and cripple physical attackers. It's also one of few Pokemon on this team that don't mind taking a hit from Mawile. I went for only 244 HP EVs to recover higher HP percentage with Sitrus Berry and also activate it after a Super Fang. Offensive investment lets me take out 4 HP Talonflame in one hit and remove 252 HP / 76 SpD Aegislash's Substitute 100% of the time. I decided on Bold nature to take as many Rock Slides from Garchomp as possible and burn it because Rotom almost always flinches from them. At 100 Def EVs Rotom gains 2 stat points instead of one. 60 Speed EVs let me outspeed neutral nature Tyranitar, which was a huge mistake of mine. I actually should've made it outspeed Adamant Bisharp, so my top 16 (maybe even top 8) match would've been a lot easier for me.

 

Haxdevoir (Gardevoir) @ Choice Specs
Ability: Trace
EVs: 4 HP / 124 Def / 148 SpA / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
Timid Nature
- Dazzling Gleam
- Psychic
- Moonblast
- Shadow Ball

Gardevoir was added as another way to deal with Garchomp as well as a counter to Scrafty, Venusaur and Amoonguss, that are pretty annoying to play against without it on the team. Overall I think that Gardevoir was a bit of a weak link on the team, I almost never brought it in swiss rounds but it was the key in my top 16 match and if I played a bit better, it could've won me my top 8 match as well. The EV spread and nature were probably the most difficult things for me to come up with but I finally decided on speed and bulk over power. I considered Smeargle a huge threat on my team and outspeeding it was really tempting, so I went for it with one additional point just to speed creep stuff EV'd to do the same thing. Defence EVs let Gardevoir survive Jolly Mega Kangaskhan Double-Edge or Adamant Return after an Intimidate, rest goes to Special Attack to OHKO 4 HP Bisharp, probably the biggest threat to my team.

 

 

Aegihax (Aegislash) @ Leftovers
Ability: Stance Change
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 12 Def / 172 SpA / 68 SpD
Quiet Nature
IVs: 6 Spe
- Shadow Ball
- Sacred Sword
- Substitute
- King's Shield

I previously had Bisharp in this slot but it didn't find much usage, because it made the team pretty Kangaskhan-weak and I had only two physical attackers on the team, so I didn't really benefit from Defiant. The change to Aegislash was exactly what I was looking for - the team had a decent overall ammount of bulk, so I wasn't reliant on Tyranitar sweeps and could abuse the defensive synergy that I finally achieved. I came up with this set and spread before Simon published his team on Nugget Bridge, so I was really surprised that his spread was almost identical to mine - I was aiming towards OHKOing 4 HP Gardevoir and surviving Overheat from Modest Rotom-H. Because Aegislash figured on the team as a Kangaskhan check, I decided on Sacred Sword over Flash Cannon to get the 2HKO on most common set. 6 Speed IVs let me avoid speed ties against opposing Aegislash as well as outspeed Adamant 0 Speed EVs Rhyperior and still underspeed some Pokemon used in Trick Room teams, like Gothitelle. This Pokemon ended up being my MVP of swiss rounds as it single-handedly won me three games out of eight and managed to KO two Garchomps on its own without any crits or prior damage.

 

Overall the team was really fun to use, especially back in the days when Mega Tyranitar was almost unheard of. There are some new threats in the metagame that this team wouldn't perform well against without some fixes (like Mega Blastoise), but back in March and April I had really high win/lose ratios with it on PS! and managed to top the ladder once or twice. Thanks for reading, I hope I can seal my Worlds trip next year.

Italy Nationals

This tourney went pretty horrible for me, thinking about my loses still makes me feel sick. I just wasn't playing as well as I could and lost to stuff I usually 4-0'd in practice. I feel my Milan team was better than my Bochum team but I made some terrible plays letting my opponents gain an early advantage. Finished with 6 wins and 3 loses. Here's what I used:

AerodactylBisharpGarchompTyranitarRotom (Heat form)Amoonguss

The Very Last Shot of Glory for VGC 2013

Since WiFi connection for fifth generation games has been shut down, VGC 2013 is officially a completely dead format. On the most recent Sunday there was a very last live tourney with last year's rules, so I had a very last chance to build a team to be used on Black 2 and White 2 carts. My result was four wins and two loses (double elimination), both of them to Conkeldurr Ice Punch freezes but what can you do, haha. In one game I got a bit lucky too, so I can't really complain. Anyway, this is what I came up with:

Hitmontop @ Payapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Att / 36 Def / 156 SpD / 60 Spe
Careful Nature
- Fake Out
- Close Combat
- Helping Hand
- Feint

Latios @ Life Orb
Ability: Levitate
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 248 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Draco Meteor
- Psyshock
- Hidden Power [Ground]
- Protect

Volcarona @ Lum Berry
Ability: Flame Body
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 84 SpA / 52 SpD / 116 Spe
Modest Nature
- Heat Wave
- Bug Buzz
- Quiver Dance
- Protect

Bisharp @ Focus Sash
Ability: Defiant
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Att / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Sucker Punch
- Night Slash
- Low Kick
- Protect

Amoonguss @ Chesto Berry
Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 148 SpD
Calm Nature
- Giga Drain
- Spore
- Rage Powder
- Protect

Tyranitar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Att / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Rock Slide
- Crunch
- Low Kick
- Stone Edge

 

My inspiration for this team were two teams: Ben Kyriakou's Nats/Worlds team (Tyranitar, Hitmontop, Volcarona, Tornadus-I, Amoonguss, Hydreigon) and Sejun Park's early 2013 team (Hitmontop, Latios, Bisharp, Volcarona, Gastrodon, Thundurus-I) that he used vs ryuzaki in the USA vs Korea match.

Just a few notes:
I won't go into details because it doesn't really matter. All spreads are pretty standard, except for Hitmontop and maybe Volcarona. The former survives Metagross' Zen Headbutt and Latios Psychic/Psyshock at -1, to make it survive even longer. Fake Out + Intimidate is so good, as well as its support movepool. I used to use Wide Guard but Feint was more useful and Helping Hand is one of my favourite moves that made a +1 Volcarona even more dangerous. With Feint and Helping Hand Hitmontop is useful even when intimidated or at very low health. Volcarona survives a standard Draco Meteor as well as outspeeds base 70's before Quiver Dance and base 130's after. Lum Berry is the best item for it but Charti Berry can work as well (Bug Gem sucks). I'm not a huge fan of Latios and always prefered other Dragons but here it's my vital counter for Fighting-types and Garchomp. Hidden Power Ground is just as good as Fire vs things like Metagross or Bisharp but also OHKOs Heatran which became popular after Worlds. Amoonguss is so good on this team because it counters Trick Room and rain as well as redirects Fighting-type moves from Bisharp and Tyranitar, and makes predicting easier. Bisharp is for Landorus-T, I chose Sash over Dark Gem to do some damage to Excadrill and win duels vs oposing Tyranitar. Tyranitar is my favourite Pokemon and it fit on this team fantastically. My only "real" counter to Tornadus, also due to its fantastic typing it counters basically half of the metagame. I wish I had a slot for Fire Punch but Stone Edge was just too powerful.

I feel that this team had a lot of offensive synergy and would love to use it sometime once again. It's very easy to use because it simply keeps on attacking and gaining momentum if you make the right plays.