Hello readers, I’m Alex Underhill and online I’m Lexicon. In 2014, I started playing VGC competitively and had my first major performance at U.S. Nationals in 2015, where I placed in the top-8. Currently, I’m a co-host of "The Hyper Voice", a VGC podcast. Please check it out if you have the time!
On Sunday, the week before regionals, I sat down and told myself I would create a potential regional team. As long as it was strong enough to be considered, I’d be satisfied. Lucky enough for me, the first team I built was more or less my Regional team! Looking through my team idea notes, many of the ideas had already been tested. I’d yet to try Togedemaru and Gyarados, however. Looking at the top 3 Pokémon in usage (Garchomp, Arcanine, and Tapu Koko), I thought this duo had a pretty positive match-up. It wasn’t half bad against AFK (Arcanine, Kartana and Tapu Fini) either. I quickly built a team that could take advantage of electric and ground immunities and could support this duo. After laddering with the team on Pokémon Showdown, I found a great deal of success with it. The next day I hit a huge losing streak and nearly gave up on it. I came back with some changes that would fix the team, tested extensively, and found the final version I was happy with. Without further ado, here it is!
Togedemaru @ Focus Sash
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
- Zing Zap
- Spiky Shield
- Fake Out
A cute, round, spiky mouse. Marowak’s usage started to fall off, which meant several things for Togedemaru. Discharge was becoming a less common move, and there were less Marowak to wall Togedemaru. It seemed like the time to bust out the Togedemaru-Gyarados combination, and I used the former in every single game.
Fake Out support was great against teams lacking Tapu Lele. Encore enabled me to trap opponents into Protect if they attempted to avoid Fake Out. It also acted as a method for punishing set up Pokémon, like Snorlax or Tapu Fini. Electric Terrain helped boost the power of Zing Zap, allowing Togedemaru to deal reasonable damage. Lastly, Spiky Shield is pretty standard, but it allowed the Lightning Rod to stay on the field even longer.
I chose Focus Sash over Air Balloon because I wanted Togedemaru to last longer. I never needed it as an Earthquake partner, and the Sash meant two hits needed to be dedicated to removing my rodent. The EV spread was simple because I needed Togedemaru to outspeed base 95 Pokémon guaranteed. I valued hitting hard over bulk as Togedemaru doesn’t get much with the remaining 252 EVs left to invest.
Gyarados @ Waterium Z
EVs: 60 HP / 140 Atk / 76 Def / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
- Dragon Dance
Gyarados' usage this season has not been very consistent. Toward the beginning, it could be seen everywhere. However, Discharge being so valuable for hitting Celesteela, Gyarados, and other electric-weak Pokémon past a partner-Marowak scared off the scary serpent. With a new Lightningrod user in town, I felt Gyarados’ Intimidate utility and heavy hitting offense warranted giving it another go.
Waterfall, Dragon Dance, and Protect all seem really straightforward. Fake Out from Togedemaru allowed for easier set up. Waterfall plus Waterium-Z removed annoying Arcanine from bugging my steel types. During the week before Regionals, I spent most of the time testing Ice Fang in the final slot. Garchomp being such an issue for my three ground weaknesses made Ice Fang a very attractive move. However, Trick Room was a big problem for the team as well. Taunt helped remedy that match up. Taunt plus Encore could also be used to make certain Pokémon useless if they chose the wrong move.
Waterium-Z is a standard item for Gyarados, and boosted Z-Moves are very fun to use. This EV spread is the only one I can call my own. It was made to speed creep Pokémon around the 140 stat tier. I settled upon outpacing base 90 Pokémon with a neutral nature and 252 EVs. The HP survived Final Gambit from Lucario (not the most sensible goal, I know), and I placed the remained into attack. I missed several KOs on Arcanine, whether it was a +0 Waterfall, or a -1 Hydro Vortex.
Tapu Koko @ Life Orb
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Dazzling Gleam
I have already mentioned Discharge several times at this point. Tapu Koko is here to abuse that move. Setting Electric Terrain boosted the offence of my Togedemaru. Removing Psychic Terrain also set up Togedemaru to Fake Out. High speed and offence with lots of support helped the team pick up important KOs before the opponent could attack.
Once again, a bland move set. Dazzling Gleam was to deal with Garchomp, and other dragon and ground type Pokémon. Thunderbolt allowed for a powerful single target attack when Togedemaru wasn’t on the field. And because I felt like paralysing all of my opponents over the course of the weekend, Discharge was included. Jokes aside, a powerful spread move with a nasty side effect helped swing many games in my favour. Paralysis plus Waterfall, Zing Zap and Rock Slide meant my opponents could struggle to get attacks off.
Nobody is surprised to see Tapu Koko holding a Life Orb. Hit hard, hit first. 252/252 EV spread because it works, and because it was the one I had in my box.
Arcanine @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 76 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 164 Spe
- Flare Blitz
- Extreme Speed
- Helping Hand
Until the weekend of Collinsville Regionals, I didn’t “realise” I had double Intimidate. Sure I knew my team had both Arcanine and Gyarados, but the thought never hit me. Arcanine is a Pokémon I’ve enjoyed with Tapu Koko for the majority of the season. I thought I used them together before it was “cool,” too! That is, before I saw the usage stats on Battle Spot telling me they are #1 and #3 in usage. Maybe I’m not so creative after all…
Physical Arcanine is my dog of choice. The damage output is significantly higher, even if I am more susceptible to opposing Intimidate. Extreme Speed is great -- I love using it to ignore the advantage in speed other Pokémon might have against Arcanine. Helping Hand was added because normally I would opt for Wild Charge. Deeming that move unnecessary, I added Helping Hand to allow Tapu Koko to OHKO Garchomp. Helping Hand and Extreme Speed give Arcanine a way to support the team one last time before it goes down.
As many people have mentioned before, Flare Blitz pairs well with pinch berries as it allows Arcanine to reach the proper HP to activate the item with ease. I stole the spread from RPindahouse as I needed an Adamant Arcanine and didn’t know where to start. It survived long enough, caused a lot of damage, and hit a decent speed tier. I most definitely recommend his spread.
Garchomp @ Assault Vest
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 28 HP / 172 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 252 Spe
- Rock Slide
- Poison Jab
- Dragon Tail
Originally, Garchomp held Groundium-Z and knew Swords Dance. While I loved that set, +2 Garchomp wasn’t always enough to counter Trick Room. Having Z-Crystals on two Pokémon I commonly brought together was another issue. Garchomp was replaced with several Pokémon before I thought of this set, and added it back to the roster.
I am a big fan of Earthquake. I am a big fan of Earthquake synergy. When I see Garchomp on a team with zero partners immune to Earthquake, I get sad. But then I’m joyful, as I am reminded of how easily I can Earthquake with my own team. Poison Jab is to damage the Tapu Pokémon, specifically Tapu Lele, which gives this team the most trouble. Rock Slide was a comfort pick since rock and ground moves complement one another well. Lastly came a regrettable choice: Dragon Tail. I mentioned the team had a Trick Room problem. Turns out, Taunt was enough! I did not click Dragon Tail once! Had I known this, I would have gone with Fire Fang, or possibly even Dragon Claw. Kartana apparently does not care about Intimidate, and Fire Fang would have helped to accommodate for the paper warrior.
During the tweaking phase of this team, Assault Vest Garchomp seemed to be the final change to net me positive match-ups where I needed them. Surviving attacks that a normal Garchomp couldn’t surprised many of my opponents. And sometimes, it even surprised me! The EV spread is ripped from the Trainer Tower damage calc because I wanted to get right into testing it
Celesteela @ Leftovers
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 188 HP / 4 Atk / 60 Def / 180 SpD / 76 Spe
- Heavy Slam
- Leech Seed
Ninetales, Tapu Lele, and Nihilego were all Pokémon the team was struggling with. While Celesteela had always been a member of this team, I could not remove it due to those three Pokémon. It also helps that it works well in Trick Room, and can win many end games solo thanks to Leech Seed.
Heavy Slam was picked because it is consistently very hard hitting, and OHKOs the aforementioned troublesome three. Leech Seed and Protect are great tools for stalling out games and allowing Celesteela to recover. While Substitute used to be the go-to fourth move, Kartana’s rise in popularity led me to choose Flamethrower. It also helps that thanks to Flamethrower, Celesteela wins the 1 vs. 1 against Curse Snorlax most of the time.
A common item paired with a complex EV spread. And I cannot tell you what the goals for the EV spread might have been. I started testing Celesteela for the first time about 2 weeks before Regionals. I asked in a chat to borrow a spread, to get right into practising, and haven’t changed it since. The speed did come in handy from time to time, while the lack of attack did hurt once in a while.
This was my lead in 90% of games. Even when I lost, I often felt this was my best lead for the following games. Fake Out + Taunt to stop shenanigans or Dragon Dance to set up.
If Togedemaru wasn’t going to accomplish much in the lead, I’d send out these two first. Helping Hand Arcanine is a recent trend, and it enables Tapu Koko to threaten KOs across a large variety of Pokémon.
Electric damage go go go. Obviously, Discharge combined with Zing Zap has its benefits. Fake Out helps Tapu Koko stick around a bit longer than usual, spreading damage and paralysis.
Will-O-Wisp Drifblim was the real problem here, as 4 of my physical attackers could be burnt. I often Encored the Drifblim to try and render it useless after setting up Tailwind.
Taunt + Dragon Tail are usually enough to avoid Trick Room. Occasionally, it is set up late game, or Mimikyu is carrying a Mental Herb. Intimidate and Fake Out cycling can help stall some turns.
Not a terrible match up, just a lot of 50/50s, Sleep Powder inconsistency, and sleep turns following that. If my opponent is able to guess right a couple of turns, they’ll likely take the game.
I have a number of neutral attacks to hit Gastrodon with, but it still needs to be played against carefully. If I’m able to eliminate the partners, since Gastrodon is very passive, Celesteela can win against it 1 vs. 1.
Gina volunteered to drive down so I could make some last minute in game preparations. We picked up Chuppa, then Dane, and drove 5 hours on down to Collinsville. I didn’t sleep a ton the night before and then I woke up to discover we had no warm water… Team Cold Showers came through, though. After registering and such, I sat down with friends to distract myself from the nerves before round 1.
Day 1 Swiss
Round 1: Alberto Lara (7-2) (W/L/W)
Round 2: Matthew Pearson (1-5) (W/W/-)
Round 3: dAnE zIeMaN (7-2) (W/L/W)
Round 4: Evan Coyan (5-4) (W/W/-)
Round 5: Alex Fenson (5-4) (W/W/-)
Round 6: Ethan Simpson (7-2) (L/W/W)
Round 7: Conan Tompson (8-1) (W/L/W)
Round 8: Jeremy Gross (8-1) (L/L/-)
Round 9: Andrew Nowak (7-2) (W/W/-)
With an 8-1 finish, I managed to guarantee Togedemaru a Top-Cut spot, so I was thrilled. I managed about 4 hours of sleep the night before cut. Despite nerves, I kept telling myself that I already accomplished a lot, and every match further was just a bonus. I’ve never made it past Top 8, but I was ready to give it a shot.
Day 2 Top Cut
Top 16: Carson Confer (Top 16) (W/L/W)
Top 8: Jon Hu (Top 8) (W/L/W)
Top 4: Nick Navarre (Top 4) (L/W/W)
Finals: Justin Burns (Runner Up) (W/W/-)
Every set I played in Top Cut can be found in the past broadcasts on Pokémon’s main Twitch page. Winning a regional did not feel real to me for a very long time. Once I was settled in the car for the ride home, I finally digested what had happened. Earning the title “Regional Champion” is what means the most to me. And of course, doing it all with Togedemaru. I still plan on earning my way toward a Worlds Invite, but this win alone is enough for me to feel accomplished for the season. As for the team, it will likely be retired. It worked for the weekend, but I’m not sure how well it will continue to function with Drifblim + Tapu Lele soaring in usage (pun totally intended).
The biggest shout-out goes to my girlfriend, Gina, who supports me more than anyone else. I couldn’t have accomplished this without her.
Shoutouts to my family for being so supportive of my hobby, and for cheering for me at every event.
Shoutout to all the pear🍐
To the Illinois VGC Crew, for being such good friends, and cheering for me since back in 2015.
To Rebecca Cartwright, the best TO and an even better friend. And to her son, Calum, for winning Regionals the same weekend after I had trained him!
To Ryan Auld, a friend before VGC became a part of my life. Helped me practice and fine tune the team.
To the Akala Toucans, thanks for all the practice!
Thank you for reading, I tend to ramble when it comes to Pokémon. I love the Pokémon community, all y’all make every event I attend the greatest. Feel free to reach out and message me if you liked the report, team, or just want to talk Pokémon! Alola!