Hello, Trainer Tower and others! My name is Jon Hu, otherwise known as JHufself online, and I’m usually known for teams featuring Lapras and/or Ghost Types in previous formats. Today, I’m bringing you a look into my most recent team, which placed Top 8 at the Collinsville Regionals, and somehow contains neither Lapras nor any Ghost Types. Shocking, I know. As wacky as my teams usually are, this one is no exception, so let me explain a bit of its backstory.
After PokéBank moves and abilities were confirmed legal, I immediately turned to the great saviour of the format, Aerodactyl, who would greatly reduce the effectiveness of those dreaded pinch berries that were really starting to catch on at the time. At the time of conception, I was actually playing with Tapu Fini, before switching to Tapu Koko in the next iteration. The rest of the initial draft was built around a mix of goodstuffs and ideas that I had, such as Swords Dance-Baton Pass Scizor and Choice Band Arcanine. After this first iteration, I made the switch to Tapu Koko, as I am a firm member of the Tapu Koko faction. Its performance on all of the teams I’ve made under this format has been typically a better experience than the other Guardians of Alola, and this will likely be my sentiment for the remainder of the season. I continued to toy with the other members, but some team aspects remained regardless of the team: setup moves and the ability to run away with games from the momentum it generated. That brought me to a novel idea that I had featuring Electivire, and an early version of the team was born that I took and placed 4th at a Midseason Showdown.
The name of the team refers to a long-range Thunder tome in the Fire Emblem series of games. The typical range of said tome is 3-10 spaces, which happens to be half the reverse of my finishing record in games, 20-6.
Narcian (Aerodactyl) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Sky Drop
– Rock Slide
– Wide Guard
“I am strong. I am wise. I am lovely. And most importantly, I am right! …Me! No one else!” –Narcian, from Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade (FE6)
A Jon Hu staple Pokémon, Aerodactyl has seen a decent amount of usage on my teams since the 2012 season, where I ran a Power Herb Sky Attack set. Nonetheless, one of Aerodactyl’s greatest assets is its ability, Unnerve, which prevents opposing Pokémon from eating berries. Add on a blistering speed matched only by other speed demons, a respectable base 105 Attack, and access to a massive movepool including Tailwind and Wide Guard, and you have yourself a fairly consistent setup support monster. This is before we even factor in its access to a STAB Rock Slide, debatably one of the best moves in the game! Aerodactyl was chosen because of its nearly universal success at setting up Tailwind; there are not many things that can take out Aerodactyl as Focus Sash almost always guarantee it moves before both of the opponent’s Pokémon attack. Its current place in the metagame means it can cause trouble for the ever popular Arcanine and Garchomp, who are usually seen fighting for the top position on usage stats. I did not include damage calcs, because it’s a basic Sash go-all-out set.
HappyNewYear (Tapu Koko) @ Life Orb
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 28 HP / 252 SpA / 228 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
In the Lunar calendar, this year is the year of the Rooster. Cock-a-doodle-doo!
This very offensive Tapu Koko set is aimed at doing a few things. First, it’s intentionally Modest as I find that Timid Tapu Koko is usually lacking in damage output. Second, even if it were Timid, I would still need it to underspeed Aerodactyl because speed tying with your Sky Drop buddy is a bad time. I still trained it so that it could still outspeed the majority of opponents, however. Conveniently, this lets the remaining EVs going to HP hit 149, which is perfect for Life Orb use. It’s a pretty simple set with nothing especially noticeable other than its insane damage output. My opponents were consistently surprised and impressed at the amount of damage it did. Did I mention that Discharge is a good move? Because it is. It’s almost as good as Rock Slide, actually. But only almost.
Current Meta (Electivire) @ Groundium Z
Ability: Motor Drive
EVs: 4 HP / 212 Atk / 124 Def / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
– Wild Charge
– Ice Punch
Simple yet effective pun this time. I hope you liked it.
Ah yes, the Sunyshore Chargers mascot returns from the grave to give another showing! Electivire has never been very relevant in the VGC scene, and it may have been doomed to stay that way, were it not for the stars aligning this season and bestowing upon it Z-Moves. Tectonic Rage is one of the best ones out there, and nearly any Pokémon that learns Earthquake can benefit by slapping that Groundium Z right onto it. Electivire’s Attack stat is unbelievably high, and its movepool impressive. With access to the coveted Ice/Ground coverage combination, there is literally no Pokémon in the format that Electivire cannot hit for at least neutral damage. An immunity to Electric attacks and a passive that boosts Electivire’s Speed means that Electivire can go FAST. The Speed stat allows Electivire to hit 204 at +1 Speed, which enables it to outrun neutral natured Pheromosa and max speed Tapu Koko. At +2, Electivire outpaces nearly all Choice Scarf Pokémon, including Jolly Kartana. At +3, Electivire will outspeed Garchomp in Tailwind. Any faster, and you risk breaking the sound barrier. The defensive investment is also a dump to patch up Electivire’s noticeably lacking Defense stat; despite what most people might think, Electivire’s Special Defense is actually decent!
Smol Gyo (Gyarados) @ Waterium Z
EVs: 76 HP / 116 Atk / 164 Def / 4 SpD / 148 Spe
– Dragon Dance
Gyo is the word for fish in Japanese, but is also a horror manga penned by Junji Ito. Smol is a common internet term for something small and cute.
I’ll be honest, I needed a setup user that synergised well with Electivire and wouldn’t you know it, the first Pokémon I thought of was Gyarados. Curse you Generation IV early OU trends! Besides that, though, Gyarados does what Gyarados does best, which is provide Intimidate and heavy water damage by either boosting its stats with Dragon Dance, or by opting for Hydro Vortex. Taunt was put on the set to handle opposing setup, such as Trick Room, Evoboost, Snorlax, and others. The EV spread is actually pretty arbitrary, I set it up so that Gyarados retained a similar Attack to Jolly sets, and then made its defensive investment resemble Mega Kangaskhan. The Speed EVs allow it to hit 180 after a Dragon Dance, which underspeeds Aerodactyl but outspeeds basically everything else. Previously, it used to be a standard 252/252 Jolly version, which was bad for a number of reasons, but this bulkier version proved to be very useful in practice.
No-ScopeLens (Kartana) @ Scope Lens
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 12 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 124 SpD / 252 Spe
– Swords Dance
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
“I am the bone of my sword
Steel is my body and Grass is my blood
I have created over a thousand crits
Unaware of loss
Yet aware of gain
Withstood pain to create wincons, waiting for one’s arrival
I have no regrets. This is the only path
So, as I pray, Unlimited Leaf Blade Works.” –Unnamed Poet, circa 2017
So this piece of paper made it onto the team because Scope Lens is a stupid stupid item that turns Kartana’s weakness to Intimidate into a 50/50 on bonus damage with its main STAB move. There is almost no drawback to running Scope Lens other than not being able to run Razor Claw. Do yourself a favour and run Crit Kart today! Ad sponsored by Enosh and yours truly. Normally, these carry Substitute to keep themselves around longer, but I went with the daring Swords Dance, because if the opponent is just going to take the turn to switch to their Intimidator anyway, why not snag a free boost? A Kartana with positive Attack boosts and a 50% chance to increase their damage by another 50% is SCARY. Because Leaf Blade does an obscene amount of damage when it crits, there was no reason to run Smart Strike, and instead I used Sacred Sword for that extra coverage and the ability to ignore Defense boosts on Snorlax and Eevee teams. Speaking of Eevee teams, one Leaf Blade crit is all you need in order to place pressure on the Eevee player (S/O to The_One_Gio hope this doesn’t screw you).
Nibbles (Pikachu) (M) @ Light Ball
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 4 HP / 236 SpA / 28 SpD / 236 Spe
– Fake Out
– Hidden Power [Ice]
“Touché, Pussycat!” – Nibbles, Tom and Jerry
Quite possibly the star of the whole show that I somehow managed to get to without mentioning in any of the other member details, Pikachu is a true saviour when it comes to building this team. The Wailord team on the PGL planted the idea in my head, to the point where I put it on the team. Prior to this iteration, I toyed with Clefable and Choice Scarf Lanturn in this slot, but ultimately settled on Pikachu with no practice games or sets before Regionals because Pikachu sounded so strong in theory that I was confident it would work. Fake Out is a wonderful utility move that many Pokémon are susceptible to, allowing Pikachu to stick around another turn and possibly suck up a Special Attack boost from Tapu Koko. Thunderbolt is a standard STAB move that is consistently strong, and Hidden Power Ice creates a makeshift BoltBeam coverage combination that allows Pikachu to exert pressure on otherwise bad matchups. Pikachu may not look it, but it is deceptively powerful, with an effective Special Attack stat of 220. The Speed investment also allowed it to outspeed Smeargle and slower teams, which proved very useful most of the time. And of course, Lightning Rod rounds out the set.
Using the Team:
Leads and Modes:
Lead: The Anti-Set-up
Double Flying is certainly an odd lead, especially when Tapu Koko is at the top of the usage stats most of the time. But because of the threat of Lightning Rod or Motor Drive, many don’t opt to lead their Electric Type against this team. Even if they do, the apparent switching power given to me usually deters them from attacking with an Electric move. Sky Drop and Taunt are excellent to stop most set up, including Gavin Trick Room (but not Mental Herb Gavin Trick Room!). While this lead doesn’t apply much initial pressure, Gyarados can start setting up to provide that while Aerodactyl can also use Tailwind.
Lead: The Electric Spam
Double Electric is absolutely terrifying for teams with no answers, and Pikachu’s Fake Out applies pressure on opponents to either Protect or lose a precious turn and take free damage. Most Tapu Lele are weak to this lead, as Pikachu can outspeed slower builds and KO them at +1 with the extra damage from Discharge, or they are Choice Scarf and I get to put up Electric Terrain, giving me Fake Out access.
Lead: The Anti Blimp
This one is more specific to current trends, though it is also good as an alternative to stopping Porygon2 induced Trick Room (if it isn’t Gavin’s 252/252 spread!) Basically, the presence of Kartana in the lead scenario is usually enough to scare the Tapu Lele into Protecting, where Aerodactyl and Drifblim will match Tailwinds and Kartana will net a free Swords Dance. Even if Kartana gets burned the next turn, a Critical Leaf Blade + Rock Slide will end the Lele’s pathetic existence. This lead is even more effective against Fini Blimp teams.
Aside from breaking my Aerodactyl’s Focus Sash with Snow Warning, Ninetales boasts complete neutral damage or better versus this team, and is especially hurtful to Gyarados, as a Freeze-Dry will quickly eat away at it. My answer to Ninetales teams is usually to lead Tapu Koko and Aerodactyl and attempt to eliminate it Turn 1 with a combination of Rock Slide and Dazzling Gleam.
If it ever goes up, this team will suffer. There is almost no hope of coming back unless I can get some of the opposing Pokémon into the air with Sky Drop or cycle Pikachu’s Fake Out constantly while avoiding damage.
On that note, Snorlax is also a major pain to beat. Aerodactyl may be a good wall and stops it from eating its berry, but it can’t do much back other than flinch it a lot. Kartana and Gyarados help to contain the threat, while the Electric Types can deal damage if backed by terrain.
Although scarce at the Regionals I attended, it seems that Tapu Bulu is once again seeing a slow rise back to usage. Tapu Bulu’s best answer on this team is Kartana, and that’s from using the not very effective Leaf Blade. Aerodactyl can help with Sky Drop, but most of the other Pokémon don’t like trading blows with Tapu Bulu.
Round 1: Jordan Gonzalez (4-5-0) Win 2-0
Round 2: Rachel “RayrayVGC” Sitler (3-4-0 Drop) Win 2-0
Round 3: Rex Holmberg (3-6-0) Win 2-0
Round 4: Andrew Burke (5-4-0) Win 2-0
Round 5: Gregory Dubish (5-4-0) Win 2-1
Round 6: Giovanni “The_One_Gio” Costa (6-3-0) Win 2-0
Round 7: Jeremy “JZGVGC” Gross (8-1-0) Lose 1-2
Round 8: Edward Holdener (6-3-0) Win 2-1
Round 9: Meghan “PinkySylvie” Hyman (6-3-0) Win 2-0
Top 16: Ethan “PacoTaco” Simpson (7-2-0) Win 2-0
Top 8: Alex “LexiconVGC” Underhill (8-1-0) Lose 1-2
I am uncertain of the records for Rounds 3-5, but there was a single loss in there somewhere. I also do not have access to teams at the moment (can obtain access to them after about a week or so), so I have decided to forgo putting those with the players. Round 8 was perhaps the only negative matchup I encountered all day; most of the other matchups were either neutral or in my favour. Those who contested that the matchup would be in their favour due to a Pokémon such as Mudsdale or Marowak-Alola likely were too concerned with the three Electric Types, as Kartana and Gyarados both handle those threats, as well as the three Electric Types carrying countermeasures in Ice coverage and Tectonic Rage.
On Game Day, I certainly do not regret my team choices and I played as well as I could. If there were things to consider changing about the team, it would be the Electivire slot. During my set against Alex, I really wanted Electivire to be a Garchomp, but one does not simply wish that in the grand scheme of things, as they do completely different things in my opinion. Electivire is a coverage tool, and one that is decidedly more niche, while Garchomp is a staple, sturdy Pokémon that serves to deal fast damage, have Ground STAB, and be used for switching. Other considerations include making Gyarados faster, changing some of Kartana’s moves or even its item (not recommended, I will probably not like you if you take off the Scope Lens).
Shoutouts to all the Pikachu supporters and to those who talked to me over the course of the tournament! You should know who you are, but if you’re not, just know that every interaction I have with people at events is meaningful <3
And that’s that! Thank you for reading this report, and I’ll be sure to keep up my current progress towards better success! Until next time, this is JHufself, and thank you for taking a ride on the confusion train today!