Hi all, this is Zoe Lou, aka Thowra, from the Land Down Under, and I was extremely fortunate to have won the Oceania Championships in March. I hope you’ll be interested to hear about the team I used and my thoughts throughout the weekend.
I was introduced to competitive Pokemon in 2014, when I was googling artwork of Pokemon and came across all the gorgeous article art of NuggetBridge. This inspired me to become an artist for NuggetBridge. However I was too shy to just waltz up to people and ask them to give me Pokemon to draw, so I figured that if I played competitive for a bit and made friends I could start drawing for the players!
For the entire month leading up to Melbourne I tried out team after team but every one of them failed. Luckily the ONOG Invitational teams were released a week before, and as much as I wanted to use an original team, I just felt a lot more comfortable with Shoma Honami’s. So at 1am on the Thursday I started putting the team together in cartridge.
Tapu Lele @ Choice Specs
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 212 Def / 36 SpA / 4 SpD / 20 Spe
– Dazzling Gleam
This is Shoma’s Lele, spread for spread and move for move. I never figured out what those defensive EVs did, but this Lele was so perfect in every way that I didn’t feel the need to change it. Two things I know about it are that it does survive all Jolly Kartana Smart Strikes, but will faint to Life Orb Nihilego Sludge Bombs.
Gyarados @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 52 HP / 230 Atk / 60 Def / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
– Dragon Dance
This was a Gyarados that I used on a previous team with Waterium Z, designed to outspeed and KO Timid Tapu Koko at +1. It’s not a very optimal spread, as -1 Arcanine Wild Charge has a 6.3% chance to OHKO, whereas if I had moved 16 more EVs from Attack into Defence it was a guaranteed survival. However, I had no time to re-EV and just grabbed it from my box, so I just prayed that there wouldn’t be too many Wild Charge Arcanine running around.
Because the team lacked a good way to hit Kartana, I decided to run Flamethrower as the 4th move. Ice fang wasn’t needed because opposing Garchomp weren’t really a threat, and Earthquake isn’t exactly very strong without STAB.
Drifblim @ Psychic Seed
EVs: 4 HP / 132 Def / 204 SpA / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
– Shadow Ball
The spread is the same as Shoma’s, but I swapped out Rain Dance for Haze. I liked the utility of Rain Dance, but I was really scared of Eevee teams. Haze also allowed me to reset Intimidates on my own Pokemon. It was a bummer to lose the Special Defence boost when using Haze, but thwarting setup teams was far more satisfying.
Magnezone @ Electrium Z
EVs: 92 HP / 4 Def / 156 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Flash Cannon
– Magnet Rise
I never figured out why Shoma had so much speed on his Magnezone – presumably to outspeed stuff in Tailwind, but throughout the tournament I found the lack of Special Attack investment narrowly missing out on a lot of KOs. Had I had more time to practice, I think I would have gone with 252 SpA and 156 Spe.
Garchomp (M) @ Groundium Z
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 44 SpD / 206 Spe
– Rock Slide
Shoma’s Garchomp was far too slow for my liking, so I stole the Garchomp that Aaron Zheng (Cybertron) used to win the Melbourne online tournament. I preferred to outspeed Arcanine as opposed to being able to survive Porygon2 Ice Beams, as Garchomp wasn’t really going to stay in on Porygon2 anyway. Substitute has always been a favourite move of mine, as I feel it is safer than Swords Dance, and can help increase longevity.
Tapu Koko @ Focus Sash
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 28 HP / 252 SpA / 228 Spe
– Dazzling Gleam
I hate using Pheromosa. It faints if you so much as sneeze at it, and it did not have a strong, accurate STAB. I thought about why Shoma had the Phero on his team (which was to check Porygon2, Garchomp and opposing Tapu Pokémon). I considered Pokémon who could fulfill this job and Tapu Koko was the best candidate. In theory, Koko’s Taunt provided me with a soft check to Trick Room. The Focus Sash gave me an answer to Rain and Sun teams. Lilligant couldn’t put me to sleep with Koko around either as long as Electric Terrain was active. Of course Koko can’t OHKO Torkoal, but a Thunderbolt would leave it weakened enough that Eruption wouldn’t hurt the rest of the team too much.
I went with a Modest Nature because without a Life Orb, Timid’s damage output was just far too underwhelming. The speed allows me to outspeed all base 110’s, and I put the rest in HP.
Taunt felt a bit like a wasted slot, as I only used it 3 times the entire tournament and 2 of those times didn’t matter. However I still think it is a useful move, as it can help the team from getting destroyed by setup shenanigans. If I were to edit the team I might have considered Hidden Power Fire over Protect on Koko.
Hyper Offense: , ,Opposing Tailwind
Assault Vest and Focus Sash Kartana give this team a lot of trouble, and Scope Lens isn’t exactly very fun for Gyarados either if it hasn’t got the Dragon Dance up. Scarf is also a problem if Leaf Blade lands a critical hit.
Life Orb Nihilego also OHKOs 4 of the 6 Pokemon on this team, while Drifblim can’t deal much to it due to its special bulk, and Magnezone usually needs to watch out for Nihilego’s partner. It’s easier once I can get a Tailwind up, but then problems become tricky if the opponent also carries Tailwind as we shall soon see in one of my matches…
Trick Room: ,
I feel that the team is at a slight disadvantage against Trick Room, but it was not an auto-loss. Going up against Trick Room just meant spending a lot of extra time thinking about leads, because if you lead wrong against Ttrick Room it can be very, very hard to come back. Sometimes bringing Tapu Koko is worth it for the Taunt, but other times it may be better to simply let the opponent set up and stall it out.
Mimikyu is annoying for this team because you have to guess whether it is Focus Sash, Mental Herb or the Z-move.
Lele was by far the heaviest hitter on this team; I brought it to every single match and pretty much the strategy was just spam Psychic. Choice Specs Psychic deals sooooo much damage to everything, even if it’s resisted. Unfortunately it’s no good locking yourself into Psychic when there are Dark types around! Luckily most dark types don’t enjoy Choice Specs Dazzling Gleam, except for Muk which is just a big obnoxious annoying blob that refuses to die.
It was exciting to catch up with all the Aussie VGC players, as most I hadn’t seen in about a year. I made it my goal to go positive for the tournament, as was my goal for every tournament and which, so far, I have managed to achieve. The hype for this event was amazing, as all the really powerful overseas trainers, including Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng, were here!
Round 1: Mark Dickinson (W-W)
Win 2-0 (1-0)
Round 2: Ismat Myron Beg (W-W)
AHAHA ITS SHOMA’S TEAM! I wondered how many mirror matches I would get during the day. We both led Drifblim + something that was not Lele in both our matches hoping to bait each other into bringing the Lele, but that never happened. He was a really friendly player from Singapore. Sitting next to my opponent was a UK player by the name of Ben, and we had a really fun conversation about all the Aussie things he’s done so far – more on him later.
Win 2-0 (2-0)
Round 3: Matthew Jiwa (L-W-W)
Win 2-1 (3-0)
Round 4: Jackson Bankovic (L-W-W)
Jackson is a Sydney player (who now lives in Melbourne) whom I have battled several times in the past. At 2015 Sydney Regionals he ran a Bisharp team against my Intimidate spam team, and at a later local PC he ran Mega-Venusaur against my Aurorus/Rotom-Wash team. I swear every time I face Jackson his team hard counters mine.
And then I saw his Melbourne team. Aerodactly, Kartana and Nihilego. Loooool.
What did I say about getting countered? Every. Single. Time.
Game 1: I got utterly wrecked, as I was forced to Tailwind just to match his Aerodactyl’s Tailwind, resulting in his team still outspeeding mine. I did, however, manage to find out his Aerodactyl’s entire moveset, which did not have Wide Guard.
Game 2: He didn’t go for the Tailwind, instead opting for the Rock Slide from Aerodactyl and Poison Jab from Garchomp into Tapu Lele. I prayed it wouldn’t get flinched and it doesn’t, and Lele is able to get the Dazzling Gleam off to OHKO the Chomp and put Aerodactyl in Shadow ball KO range. Some turns later it was my Gyarados + something in position against his Kartana + Nihilego. I went for the flamethrower onto the Kartana. If it had Focus Sash or Assault Vest I would lose.
It had Focus Sash. GG…But then Kartana got burned from Flamethrower!!
I love you Gyarados.
Game 3: We both led the exact same as our previous 2 games, only this time he switched out his Garchomp for Nihilego and Sky dropped Lele. This was such a clever play, as Drifblim used Tailwind the same turn, so next turn Lele couldn’t actually move and got KO’d by Nihilego. With my strongest attacker fainted, it was an uphill battle for me. I’m not quite sure how I managed it but I narrowly squeaked out a win, giving me a much undeserved victory against an exceptionally powerful player.
Win 2-1 (4-0)
Round 5: Markus Stadter (W-W)
Before the pairings were posted someone joked that I would have to face Markus because he was also at 4-0…
and then the pairings got posted, and I was actually facing Markus!
In team preview his Kartana looked like a huge headache, and the Clefairy looked very obnoxious. I considered leading Koko to taunt it, but decided that, as he had no speed control, it was better to go Lele + Drifblim and Haze whatever boosts his Snorlax would try to get. He led Fini + Persian. I can’t remember much of the match, only that by endgame his +6 Snorlax had around 60% health left, against my chipped Lele + Drifblim. I didn’t want to reveal Haze but wasn’t sure if Lele could KO the Snorlax, so I was forced to Haze. It turns out that Specs Lele can KO Snorlax at 60% health (this piece was information was extremely important later).
Game 2 was a bit unlucky for Markus, as his Tapu Fini’s Muddy Water missed my Pokemon 3 times and got some low damage rolls. Despite all the misfortune, Markus still put enormous pressure on my team, and it was fairly close until the end, coming down to my -2 accuracy Lele locked into Dazzling Gleam against his Fini. Although the Dazzling Gleam was single target, I think I still needed a high roll to KO it, provided Lele could even land its attacks. Luckily the Dazzling Gleam hit, and I watched Fini’s health dwindle to zero.
Markus was such a gracious player; I was extremely impressed that he still shook hands with me after that unfortunate Game 2.
Win 2-0 (5-0)
Round 6: Chelsea Tan (W-W)
I hate being paired up against a fellow sister because only one of us could advance to the next round :c Sitting on the table next to us was Ben, the UK player, and I was very happy for him that he had also made it undefeated so far.
Win 2-0 (6-0)
Round 7: Baris Akcos (W-W)
Someone told me he was very good friends with Markus, so I guessed he may already know some of my team and its techs. Anyway, during ‘find an opponent’ I saw that his in-game name was Tapu Billa and HOLY CRAP THIS IS BILLA.
I remember nothing of this match, only that his Muk did not have Shadow Sneak and that Lele survived his Arcanine’s Z-Fire move with a sliver of HP. After the game I was in so much disbelief over my win that I couldn’t even stand up because I was shaking so badly.
Win 2-0 (7-0)
Round 8: Ben Kyriakou (W-L-L)
I always see Ben’s name pop up in top cut standings, so I knew this guy must be a really, really good player. And then my opponent came to the table and OMG IT’S THE BEN I’D BEEN SPEAKING TO ALL DAY!
Wow. I never made the connection… oops. I think this was the only match that day against a well-known player in which I wasn’t terrified, because he was such a friendly and warm person.
I got wrecked in games 2 and 3. I didn’t mind the loss though. He played extremely well and I really enjoyed our 3 matches.
Loss 1-2 (7-1)
Round 9: Duh Jenn-Chau (W-W)
In game 1 he revealed his Koko to be slower than mine, and as mine was Modest I figured he may be running a bulky set. Sure enough, Magnezone’s Gigavolt Havoc left his Tapu Koko in the red, but it fainted to Life orb recoil. His Snorlax got to +6 at some point, but unfortunately I lost my Drifblim before I could Haze it. However I remembered my match with Markus and knew that if I got it down to about 55% health Lele could come in and Psychic it. I don’t remember what happened in Game 2.
Final Record: 8-1
Day 1 Conclusion
I could not believe that I had made Day 2. My goal for the day had been to go positive, and this was beyond what I’d hoped for. The top 32 were made to wait at a table for hack checks, and I felt extremely dwarfed sitting at a table with all these big league names. Honestly I just felt like a rabbit that had fallen into a den of foxes. We were released from the venue at around 9:30 pm and I didn’t get back to my hotel until 11:30 pm. I couldn’t sleep at all because I was so nervous. When I last checked the time it was 4am and I still couldn’t sleep. :/
I set a goal of going 1-4, because I felt that that was somewhat achievable.
Round 10: Ben Kyriakou (W-L-L)
Considering how he wrecked me the day before, I didn’t think my odds were good, but I managed to flinch his Lele with Waterfall game 1 and somehow took the game. Game 2 was pretty much over turn 1 when I accidentally switched out my Drifblim after trying to see what Pokemon I had in the back, and it all snowballed from there. Then I just got hard outplayed in game 3.
Loss 1-2 (8-2)
Round 11: Nick Navarre (W-L-L)
Loss 1-2 (8-3)
Round 12: William Tansley (W-L-W)
Win 2-0 (9-3)
I don’t remember anything from this set except it went on for so long that we were the only pair still playing at the end of the round. It was probably the hardest match of Day 2 that I’d had; I never felt in control at all during the set.
Round 13: Ashton Cox (W-W)
Earlier that morning I heard someone talk about their Aerodactyl. Aerodactyl gives my team a whole lot of trouble so I was hoping I’d never have to face this player. You can imagine my horror when I found out my opponent was the Aerodactyl user.
Game 1: He led with Aerodactyl + Garchomp. This brought back horrible déjà vu of my match with Jackson yesterday, and I became very convinced that he was going to Sky Drop Lele, so I switched in Gyarados to stop him from using Sky Drop. He went for the Tailwind and Tectonic Rage, so luckily I took no damage. Later his Xurkitree revealed Shuca berry and I lost my Garchomp to Hidden Power Ice, but I got lucky with a critical hit Shadow Ball and somehow managed to claw my way back.
Game 2: We led the same. Apparently Tectonic Rage was a roll on my Lele, which I didn’t know about as I thought it was guaranteed to survive and thus let Lele stay in. Luckily for me, Ashton got a low row so Lele lived, and I don’t remember how I managed to win the rest of the game.
Win 2-0 (10-3)
Round 14: Baris Ackos (L-L)
I got wrecked oops. I didn’t pay much attention to anything either game and only found out at the end of game 2 that his Lele was scarfed.
Final Record: 10-4
Day 2 Conclusion:
I managed to hit my goal of at least 1-4 so I was quite happy with my performance. However, when the final standings were posted, it turned out my opponents had excellent resistance, so I was the only 10-4 that cut. Also, my opponent Sebastian had to forfeit to me to catch his flight home, so I’d somehow managed to luck myself into the Top 4 without having to battle for it.
By this stage, I’d gone so far beyond what I’d hoped to achieve that I really didn’t care if I bombed in the top 4 match tomorrow. Not wanting to think about Pokemon anymore, I went to the Moomba festival that night with some of the US players. I also got Billa’s Lele mixed up with Ben’s Lele, and accidentally told Tommy that Ben had a scarfed Lele…
Top 8 vs. Sebastian Escalante
Since Sebastian had to forfeit, I could watch the streamed match between Tommy vs. Ben. In their game 1 I realized Ben’s Lele was actually holding a Wiki Berry and was not scarfed like I’d originally thought – if you’re reading this Tommy I am so sorry for the misinformation! I hope that didn’t throw you off your Top 8 match too much.
Top 4 vs. Ben Kyriakou (W-W)
I’d faced Ben on Days 1 and 2 and honestly I thought it was quite amazing to face him yet again on Day 3. Both our previous sets had gone to 3 games, and I’d always lost games 2 and 3. I led with Magnezone and Drifblim, because Ben kept leading with Lele the day before and I was hoping he would activate the seed for me. In the back I had Lele and Koko (to Taunt his potential Porygon2)
Ben led Koko +Arcanine. I had a feeling he might try doubling into the Magnezone because it was a huge threat to his team. However I was also scared he might predict me to predict it and target the Drifblim, so I switched in Lele to ensure Drifblim would survive and get a Tailwind up. I was fairly certain Lele was bulky enough to survive a double attack – the turn ends and Lele is knocked to about 20% health, but now Tailwind is up.
When it was the last turn of Tailwind, I knew his Arcanine couldn’t Protect, but his Lele might. A play he could go for would be to switch out and sacrifice his Porygon2 and Protect Lele, and at the end of the turn he could bring back Arcanine and have Lele out, both faster after the Tailwind ends. I felt that he would go for this, but if I switched out into Drifblim and Ben attacked, I would lose so much momentum. Whereas even if I KO his P2 switch-in and he had his Arcanine and Lele left at the end of the turn, I could always carefully switch around and bring in Drifblim safely to Tailwind again. Both of my Pokemon in the back, Koko and Drifblim, had reasonable offensive pressure, so I felt the risk wasn’t worth taking.
I felt that Magnezone + Drifblim was a safe lead, so I brought the exact four in the same order. This time he led Porygon2 + Arcanine. I wasn’t going tailwind with a Porygon2 on the field so I switched to Lele. Ben attacked into the Magnezone Protect, and used Trick Room, which was very, very good for me. Now both my heavy hitters would be faster than Arcanine. I doubled into it as I wasn’t sure if Gigavolt Havoc would KO, and if he switched, then whatever incoming would take massive damage from a combined Z-move and Choice Specs Psychic. The Gigalith switched in and fainted.
Turn 3, Ben’s Lele + Porygon2 were staring down my Lele + Magnezone. As he’d revealed all 4 of his Pokemon, and my 2 hitters were faster in Trick Room than his hitters (barring the Porygon2 which didn’t really count) I felt he would try to reverse his own TR. I thought he would Protect on his Lele and Trick Room, so I targeted the Porygon2 and switched into Drifblim.
However, Ben switched out his Lele for the Arcanine. I was still free to Tailwind + Psychic the Porygon2, as Lele would survive whatever attack Arcanine launched. The only danger was a critical hit, but then again if I started worrying about critical hits every turn I’d probably start aging prematurely.
Ben switched his Porygon2 into Lele and attacked my Lele. Luckily there was no crit. Psychic dealt around 40% to Ben’s Lele. I wasn’t sure if it was in Shadow Ball KO range, but I as I had 3 turns of Tailwind left I had the room to make safe plays and was able to take game 2.
Finals vs. Nico Davide Cognetta
His team: : ( Nico’s Kartana was removed due to a team sheet error)
Between Nico’s Assault Vest Arcanine, Porygon2 and Gigalith, I knew Drifblim was complete dead weight. However, it was still very difficult to pick 4 from the remaining 5. I eventually benched Gyarados because Nico had Electric coverage on 3 of his Pokemon.
I led with Magnezone and Lele because they were my 2 hardest hitters against Desu’s team and I wanted to exert a lot of offensive pressure. Desu led Arcanine and Koko. I made a huge mistake some turns later switching into Lele instead of protecting the Magnezone (I thought he would switch out and preserve Arcanine), resulting in losing Koko at the end of the turn and Lele about to faint from another turn of sand. By then it was looking very grim.
I considered letting Lele faint for a free switch to Chomp, but felt that it could be valuable as KO fodder later on. Unfortunately the Koko did not go for a volt switch and nailed my Garchomp switch-in with a Dazzling Gleam, although it did take a heap of damage from Flash Cannon.
With Garchomp in range of another Dazzling Gleam, I felt that Nico would predict a Protect + Flash Cannon, and Protect his own Koko. I went YOLO and used Substitute with Chomp, targeting his Gigalith with Flash Cannon. It worked and I got a sub up!
The next turn I thought that he would switch out his Koko for a potential Porygon2 and try to Stone Edge the Garchomp to break its sub (I forgot his Gigalith didn’t have Stone Edge), so I protected Chomp and went for the Flash Cannon. I was wrong, Koko stayed in and it was the Gyarados that replaced Gigalith. I was kicking myself for not targeting the Koko. Eventually I got the Koko off the field, and here I made another enormous mistake that thankfully didn’t cost me the match – I FORGOT MAGNEZONE COULD USE THUNDERBOLT.
I think it may have been the stress/fatigue of playing Pokemon for 3 days straight that caused this, but I thought that after using Gigavolt Havoc, I wasn’t allowed to use any more Electric attacks. So I got it into my head that Garchomp’s Rock Slide was the only way to hit the Gyarados, and I began to aggressively target his Gigalith to stop it Wide Guarding. Fortunately Garchomp hit its Rock Slide, but that was an extremely foolish oversight.
I had a feeling Nico would lead Arcanine + Koko again. In the last match I really hated the damage his Arcanine was dishing out, so I knew I needed Gyarados despite all the Electric attacks that Nico had.
I led Gyarados + Magnezone to prevent my Magnezone from taking huge damage from Arcanine. Fortunately, Nico does lead Arcanine + Koko, and now he can no longer KO the Magnezone with a combination of Dazzling Gleam + Flare blitz. I switched in Chomp for Gyarados as it had done its job Intimidating the Arcanine. At this stage Koko was the bigger threat – actually Arcanine was just as threatening, but getting rid of Koko required far less resources so I focused on that first. I hoped he wouldn’t Protect and that Gigavolt Havoc would pick up the KO (Ben had done the calculations with me that morning after I OHKO’d his Koko about 4 times on days 1 and 2 with Gigavolt Havoc, and it was a 93.8% chance).
Koko stayed in and thankfully fainted, so my Garchomp became the fastest thing on the field. It was still not looking too good as Porygon2 threatened half my team with Ice Beam/Thunderbolt coverage. I tried to cycle between Chomp and Gyarados to avoid getting them KO’d while whittling down the Porygon2 with Psychic from Lele. Ultimately, it came down to my -1 Attack Garchomp needing to land its Rock Slides. It missed the Arcanine, but RNG still favoured me by flinching Desu’s Gyarados (which was going for a Supersonic Skystrike onto my Lele). Had the flinch not happened, I would have lost Lele, and it would have come down to whether my -1 attack/speed Garchomp and almost fainted Magnezone could survive the storm of attacks and KO back – I’m not quite sure if they could, and it would have certainly been a much, MUCH closer match.
When game 2 ended it felt like I was inside a dream. Never in a thousand years would I have ever thought I could win the Internationals. A lot of in-game RNG as well as real life RNG made it possible (had Desu had his Kartana it would have made team selection so much harder, and of course I never battled for the top 4 spot). I’m not sure if I could ever achieve this sort of success again, but it certainly won’t stop me from trying my hardest in the future!
Going Forward/Future Plans
I feel that Lele + Drifblim is a fairly strong core that can handle much of the metagame, and while I do think people will start finding counters to it, I think with the right teambuilding it will certainly remain a huge threat to watch out for. Trick Room didn’t give this team as much trouble as opposing Tailwind did, so that’s definitely something to prepare against if continuing to use this team.
I would really love to see everyone again at Worlds, but attending Worlds would mean giving up the chance to sell my art at an anime convention that same weekend, and that kind of decision is heartbreaking. However, I’m more inclined to go to Worlds, so I guess see you all in August?
Oh man. Where do I even begin…
All the Sydney crew, particularly Jimmy (aeriscs), Jensen (pledisVGC), Corey, Duk, and Eric (hummingberdVGC) for pooling together their TCG tickets and buying me the gorgeous Mega-Tyranitar playmat because I had no time to enter the TCG side events <3
Jensen and Peter (and also Samantha for helping me find someone with a spare!) for lending me their 3DS’s on Days 2 and 3 when mine broke the morning of Day 2. Also a huge shoutout to Phil Nguyen (Boomguy) for helping me analyze my match-ups and preventing me from entering full-scale panic mode on Day 3 when I was terrified by my opponent’s teams.
All the Aussies (and the international players I met throughout the weekend!) who encouraged me and believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. I am so grateful to have met and known you all. When I sat down for the finals and the crowd yelled out ‘AUSSIE AUSSIE AUSSIE’ it was honestly one of the most heart-warming moments of my life. Even my opponent, Nico, joined in and that moment meant so much to me. The support that I’ve had is astonishing and it is an honour to be part of this awesome community <3
If you would like to use my team, you can find the QR code here!