Art credit to @Jovistron!
Hello friends! Over the New Year I went to Dallas to compete in the VGC 2017 Dallas Regional Championships, and I’m here to share my experiences in finishing Top 4 at that event. For those who don’t know, my name is Sam Schweitzer and I’ve been playing VGC since the beginning of the 2014 season, so about 3 years now! I had a few good regionals finishes in 2016 and that was enough to compete in Worlds that year, but I really wasn’t having that much fun given my personal distaste of the format. I was hoping 2017 would bring a breath of fresh air to make me enjoy playing VGC again, and it has certainly delivered. I’ll bring you the team information first, and get into the “warstory” of sorts later as boy was it an adventure just getting to and from this regional.
The Team at a Glance
Going into this, I thought Vikavolt was a fascinating Pokemon so I tried to find teams with it. I came across a trend in that Tapu Fini, Arcanine, and Steel types worked really well with it, so I rolled with those 4 as my base. Vikavolt had a lot of Rotom-esque aspects to it that I really appreciated in a format where floating electrics no longer exist outside of Oricorio. The team was fleshed out with Metagross to help strengthen overall matchups by adding a defensive backbone and providing a lot of power with Weakness Policy, while Gigalith shored up the team’s lacklustre Trick Room matchup.
The Team In-Depth
Tapu Fini @ Choice Specs
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Def / 124 SpA / 28 SpD / 84 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Hydro Pump
– Dazzling Gleam
124+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Fini Muddy Water vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Marowak-Alola: 164-194 (98.2 – 116.1%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
252 Atk Garchomp Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 20 Def Tapu Fini: 135-159 (76.2 – 89.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO after sandstorm damage
0 Atk Kartana Leaf Blade vs. 252 HP / 20 Def Tapu Fini: 150-176 (84.7 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Tapu Fini going into this tournament was, in my opinion, the call to make. Of all the bulky Water types in the format, Tapu Fini had the most going for it, with a good Terrain that prevented status, strong secondary STAB, and a good speed tier. Choice Specs supplemented its underwhelming Special Attack without needing to boost like the common Calm Mind set. The EV spread is basic but efficient, providing strong immediate damage without sacrificing bulk and outruns Adamant Choice Scarf Garchomp after a String Shot. The moveset logic was that Muddy Water and Moonblast provided consistent damage on both of its STABs, Hydro Pump gave a single target water-type nuke, and Dazzling Gleam was added due to Ice Beam or Grass Knot being unnecessary while providing 100% accurate spread damage. It was an extremely good Pokemon throughout the tournament and I think people highly underestimated just how good it is.
Vikavolt @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 68 Def / 28 SpA / 156 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Bug Buzz
– String Shot
252 SpA Salamence Devastating Drake (195 BP) vs. 252 HP / 156 SpD Vikavolt: 154-183 (83.6 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 SpA Choice Specs Salamence Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 156 SpD Vikavolt: 144-170 (78.2 – 92.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Arcanine Flamethrower vs. 252 HP / 156 SpD Vikavolt: 150-176 (81.5 – 95.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
28+ SpA Vikavolt Bug Buzz vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kartana: 184-217 (136.2 – 160.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
Vikavolt came into this tournament with almost 0 prior usage and almost stole the show, taking 3 spots in the Top 16 and two in the Top 4. I think the strengths of Vikavolt lie in a few things: it is an electric type with Levitate, it walls Kartana entirely, it has a decent coverage range with its STAB moves, and it has an underrated form of Speed Control. String Shot, while being considered nothing more than a meme by some, was incredibly useful for locking down games and I certainly wouldn’t have gotten as far as I did without it. For those unaware, it is a spread 95% accurate move that lowers both of the opponents Speed stat by two stages. It pairs extremely well with a Specs Tapu Fini, and I expect it to make appearances elsewhere this season.
Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 84 HP / 172 SpD / 252 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Night Slash
[11:00:04 AM] Sam Schweitzer: also what are the benchmarks for ur kartana
[11:00:08 AM] Sam Schweitzer: doing calcs for report
[11:06:58 AM] Nails: lives koko tbolt + weavile assurance
I really hated Kartana at the start of the format. The thought that a Pokémon with 59/31 Special Bulk could be good was absurd to me, but here we are. Kartana was one of the best Pokemon on the day for me, pressuring opponents at every step of the game, being the only naturally fast Pokemon on the team, and being surprisingly bulky for a frail Pokémon. The above log was actually sort of relevant, as in one of my rounds I took a turn-one Scarf Politoed Ice Beam + Weaville Assurance to win that game. I highly recommend Kartana if you’ve been opposed to it in the past, it will certainly surprise you.
Arcanine @ Aguav Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 188 Def / 68 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
252 SpA Salamence Devastating Drake (195 BP) vs. 252 HP / 68 SpD Arcanine: 163-193 (82.7 – 97.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery
-1 252+ Atk Water Bubble Araquanid Liquidation vs. 252 HP / 188 Def Arcanine: 138-164 (70 – 83.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
-1 252 Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 188 Def Arcanine: 84-98 (42.6 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 3HKO
I don’t think there’s a ton to say here, Arcanine is a good Pokémon that complemented the team really well and people know what it does. Roar was really useful as an anti-TR move and something to give me half an Eevee matchup. Wisp was much more useful than you would have expected on a Fini team, and I didn’t regret a lack of Protect very often.
Metagross @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 HP / 28 Atk / 20 Def / 116 SpD / 92 Spe
– Meteor Mash
– Zen Headbutt
– Bullet Punch
-1 252 Atk Garchomp Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 20 Def Metagross: 162-192 (86.6 – 102.6%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 116 SpD Metagross: 78-94 (41.7 – 50.2%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO
Metagross was meant to just be a glue on the team and I’m glad I had it, despite it probably being the most replaceable slot. It helped me out in an awful lot of matchups and I think Weakness Policy is absolutely the way to go with its item, as it takes a lot of super effective hits with room to spare. The speed allows it to outrun Pheromosa after a String Shot.
Gigalith @ Rockium Z
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 228 HP / 84 Atk / 92 Def / 104 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Stone Edge
– Wide Guard
– Rock Slide
252+ Atk Water Bubble Araquanid Liquidation vs. 228 HP / 92 Def Gigalith: 158-188 (83.5 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
84+ Atk Gigalith Stone Edge vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Marowak-Alola: 158-188 (94.6 – 112.5%) — 75% chance to OHKO (KO after Sand)
-1 84+ Atk Gigalith Continental Crush (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 188 Def Arcanine: 200-236 (101.5 – 119.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
Gigalith did a fantastic job on this team at improving my Trick Room matchups. Having such a strong nuke option in Continental Crush under Trick Room is really amazing at turning opponents momentum against them. Wide Guard was entirely useless, and Earthquake is what I would use going forward as it hits Magnezone and gives you some cheeky self-Weakness Policy options with Metagross. The spread is something I highly recommend using, I was never disappointed with the damage output but I could definitely feel the increase in bulk being very useful. Fun statistic: I only hit 1/6 Stone Edges the whole tournament! As you’ll notice, the team has an awful lot of missing moves, but this is compensated for by the overall bulk of the team allowing for missed opportunities like that.
I’m not the greatest at remembering what happened in my sets, so I’ll just run down the teams I played against and what the match score was to the best of my memory.
Round One vs Evan Bates (Win 2-0)
Round Two vs Geoffrey Dawson (Win 2-1)
Round Three vs Whitney Johnson (Loss 1-2)
Round Four vs Gemma Ortega (Win 2-0)
Round Five vs Alex Hurtado (Win 2-1)
Round Six vs Justin Stipe (Win 2-0)
Round Seven vs David Omo (Win 2-0)
Round Eight vs Christopher Alspaugh (Win 2-1)
Round Nine vs Collin Heier (Win 2-0)
Top 16 vs Joseph Brummet (Win 2-0)
Top 8 vs Caleb Ryor (Win 2-1)
Top 4 vs Collin Heier (Loss 0-2)
So that was my tournament! I had a fantastic time, good games to everybody I played. I wanted to win the tournament obviously, but I’m content with my 3rd place finish. Finishing well is great and all, but I also had a fantastic time with my friends here and I want to detail the weekend. Friends are what make the game worth it, and even if you’re just here to take the team and go, I’d recommend you read on, as the social side of the game is what makes the biggest difference to me.
“Either of you interested in road tripping to Dallas?”
Or so I thought, but I managed to convince myself that driving 34 hours round trip for a Pokemon tournament over New Years was a good idea. And so we began with a group of Nick Navarre (Nails), Jonathan Evans (Ezrael), Emily Engle (siLPH_co), and myself embarking on a journey that almost never happened thanks to Jon and Emily getting a bad stomach virus that Nick would go on to catch later. Jeudy Azzarelli also joined us on the way back. Our journey there was chronicled in tweets, a few of which I’ll link here.
— エミリー (@siLPH_Co) December 30, 2016
— エミリー (@siLPH_Co) December 30, 2016
Sign in Arkansas or Donald Trump tweet?
VERY STUPID !"#17hoursofhell
— Sam S (@SamVGC) December 30, 2016
"Jon, I know it's difficult for you, and we're in Arkansas so you're trying to fit in, but be a civilized person for once." – @siLPH_Co
— Nails (@NailsOU) January 2, 2017
When you forgot your Kartana checks pic.twitter.com/NdZ2779cX3
— Jeudy Azzarelli (@SoulSurVGC) January 3, 2017
— エミリー (@siLPH_Co) January 2, 2017
— Sam S (@SamVGC) January 1, 2017
Some guy at the food stop in Arkansas is playing Youtube covers on a loud speaker pic.twitter.com/095TDsE4XL
— Sam S (@SamVGC) January 2, 2017
Brick Squad = back in Michigan safe and sound. Thanks to everyone who helped make Dallas a great experience. pic.twitter.com/cOF1mvWgPf
— Nails (@NailsOU) January 3, 2017
Home is where the Gary is. pic.twitter.com/JREYRcHpBR
— エミリー (@siLPH_Co) January 3, 2017
Despite how happy we look in this photo believe me we all wanted to die after getting home.
I had a fantastic weekend with fantastic people and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Road trips with amazing friends was one of the top things on my bucket list and I’m glad to cross it off. Would recommend doing this at some point to anyone, and I’d definitely do it again. Just not too soon, anyway.
- Our car, this was the best way I could have spent my New Years and I’m glad I got to bond with everybody
- All the Pear for being the best friends in the world
- Jon and Nick specifically for helping build spreads and rounding out the team
- Everybody who supported me on Twitter and elsewhere over the weekend, I couldn’t have done it without you
- Level 51 for being the cutest human being I know
- BFF Chat for being amazing support
Shoutout also to the VGC community as a whole, this game has transformed my life in ways I never dreamed possible. I have no idea where I would be right now if not for you and I’m blessed beyond belief to have the friends that I do. You all are truly my most precious treasure.
I’ll be focusing on SPL in the near future and won’t be attending any VGC tournaments until Melbourne Continentals likely, but I hope to see you there! Let’s meet again soon, shall we?