“Tapu Bulu Sucks” – A Team and Dual Regional Report

Artwork by @Jovistron

Hey, my name is Nicholas Borghi,  better known as LightCore. I’m a swimmer and an Eagle Scout. I live with my mother in the beautiful state of New Jersey (yes, it actually is beautiful if you drive 20 minutes south of NYC. Seriously people, stop judging us based on Northern Jersey). You can find me stressing out on twitter about resistance and RNG if you follow me on Twitter @_LightCore. I’m also the guy who posts usage stats on here and most of the Top Cut teams. I’ll be attending Baldwin Wallace University in Ohio next year for some free CP because, “Ohio is broken” - Nails

Index:

THE SQUAD

This began as Tommy Cooleen's (Tman) idea, but it evolved into my own. I was stuck for a team after I found out that Drifblim/Tapu Lele wasn’t the team for me. In a conversation with Tommy, I mentioned how I loved my 2015 Lancaster team (which you can read about here), and how I wanted something that could function similarly to it in this format. Tommy mentioned that Tapu Bulu could accomplish that, and how Swords Dance Figy Berry Bulu is amazing in this current meta. This team plays very, very slowly, and you should expect to go to game 3 a lot. You'll probably be the last match to finish most rounds.

After testing the team out for a while online, I enjoyed it enough to bring to a New York Premier Challenge (PC). I got 2nd at the PC with a very early version of the team, 5th at a Grassroots event and 1st at a New Jersey PC. I decided that the team needed some adjustments, and that’s how I ended up with the version that I used at Virginia Regionals to get 19th place with an x-2 record and at Toronto Regionals to go X-1, finishing in 5th place.


Tapu Bulu @ Mago Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 84 Atk / 108 Def / 68 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
IVs: 0 SpA / 29 Spe
- Protect
- Wood Hammer
- Horn Leech
- Nature’s Madness / Roar

Usage: Brought 20/44 Games 45.46%

Defensive Calcs

  • 252 Atk Garchomp Poison Jab vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Tapu Bulu: 148-176 (84 - 100%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Twinkle Tackle (160 BP) vs. 244 HP / 68 SpD Tapu Bulu: 108-127 (61.3 - 72.1%) -- Will never 2HKO with any other move when Grassy Terrain is accounted for

Offensive Calcs:

  • 84+ Atk Tapu Bulu Wood Hammer vs. 164 HP / 92 Def Tapu Lele in Grassy Terrain: 169-199 (101.8 - 119.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 84+ Atk Tapu Bulu Horn Leech vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Koko: 72-85 (49.3 - 58.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Life Orb Damage

Tapu Bulu was the main sell of the team, which functions in a sort of slow and bulky way while maintaining damage options. Without Tapu Bulu providing the Grassy Terrain and solid offensive pressure, the team would not function the same.

The 4th move slot was basically never used in testing. I used Swords Dance for a long time, but I used it once over the course of 3 local events, and even then I should have attacked instead. Nature’s Madness was kind of thrown onto the Bulu 2 days before Virginia at suggestion of Alvin Hidayat (Jibaku), and honestly it was still useless. Cameron Swan (DrizzleBoy) suggested Roar on my drive back from Virginia and how it could be useful in several match-ups (namely Gigalith Trick Room and a set-up variant of Snorlax).

29 Speed IVs allowed Bulu to under-speed opposing Tapu Bulu’s and potentially die to Toxic or Burn second, if the situation ever came up. It didn’t. The only other Tapu Bulu I played had speed invested and a Z-Move, and it just did disgusting damage to my entire team.

Tapu Bulu came to 45% of my games, and I was actually surprised how often I brought it. Tapu Bulu and Celesteela usually acted as my niche match-up based picks, whereas the other 4 acted as my common core. Tapu Bulu ended up being very strong because it could be brought in many more match-ups in real life than it could online.


Tapu Koko @ Assault Vest
Ability: Electric Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 92 HP / 92 Def / 20 SpA / 52 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Volt Switch
- Dazzling Gleam
- Sky Drop
- Nature's Madness

Usage: Brought 28/44 Games 63.64%

Defensive Calcs:

  • 36+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 92 HP / 52 SpD Assault Vest Tapu Koko in Psychic Terrain: 129-153 (82.1 - 97.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 92 HP / 92 Def Tapu Koko: 132-156 (84 - 99.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Offensive Calcs:

  • 0- Atk Tapu Koko Sky Drop vs. 52 HP / 12 Def Pheromosa: 188-224 (122.8 - 146.4%) -- guaranteed OHKO

Tapu Koko acts as the general glue to this team. It allows for slow playing and fast offensive support when necessary. The fact that Tapu Koko wasn’t brought to 100% of the games I played surprises me considering how much I lean on it as a crutch.

The spread is my creation, but Leonard Craft III (DaWoblefet) made a better one for me that I didn’t end up using because I’m stupid. Max Speed investment on this Tapu Koko is stupid, and didn’t end up helping me once. I wanted max speed in order to go for the Tapu Koko speed ties in order to immobilize it for 2 turns, but the only time I went for it during both regionals, it failed.

The moves are all self-explanatory, but Dazzling Gleam can be switched to something else. It was rarely useful and I don’t think it was ever the reason I won a game. Volt Switch was the Creme de la Creme; it was my most used move and allowed for smart, meticulous slow playing that won me several games. Volt Switch is easily Tapu Koko’s best move and I believe that any player not running it is horribly hindering themselves.

This started off as an offensive Life Orb Koko. I found, however, that the majority of my loses were due to me trying to go for big damage right away instead of playing conservatively. When I made the switch to Assault Vest, Arcanine also dropped Helping Hand for Will-o-Wisp because Tapu Koko was the only Pokemon that ever got supported by Helping Hand.


Celesteela @ Leftovers
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 196 HP / 172 Def / 4 SpA / 100 SpD / 36 Spe
Careful Nature
- Protect
- Leech Seed
- Heavy Slam
- Flamethrower

Usage: Brought 10/44 Games 22.73%

  • 4- SpA Celesteela Flamethrower vs. 84 HP / 164 SpD Assault Vest Kartana: 148-176 (102 - 121.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO

This was easily the most underwhelming team member, as seen by its usage percentage. Celesteela did allow for some awesome things on the team, however, that other options such as Muk and Metagross do not allow for. Adding the 3rd ground resist/immunity made it so opponents almost never brought Garchomp vs me, making my job in team preview so much easier, as I assume they are playing with five Pokemon.

Celesteela also acted as my 2nd Kartana check, and it the rest of my opponents team usually determined whether I brought Celesteela or Arcanine in order to deal with it. I have no idea what this spread does. Leonard gave it to me and I just kinda rolled with it. The speed is just a creep. I will probably run a different amount a different time so don’t try to creep me 😉


Arcanine @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 36 Def / 156 SpD / 68 Spe
Careful Nature
- Protect
- Will-O-Wisp
- Flare Blitz
- Extreme Speed

Usage: Brought 33/44 Games 75%

Defensive Calcs:

  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 244 HP / 156+ SpD Arcanine in Electric Terrain: 165-195 (84.1 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Iapapa Berry recovery
  • -1 252+ Atk Water Bubble Araquanid Liquidation vs. 244 HP / 36 Def Arcanine: 164-194 (83.6 - 98.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Iapapa Berry recovery

Arcanine is another defensive option. Intimidate is extremely valuable for both Tapu Koko and Araquanid, as neither take physical moves as well as they do special moves.

Will-o-Wisp was used  over Helping Hand after the Rutgers Grassroots tournament because I decided that my Muk and Gigalith weaknesses were too much to handle, especially after I lost to my inability to deal with Cypher's Muk in Top 8. Flare Blitz was used to proc my own 50% Berry and just so Arcanine can have some sort of offensive presence. Extreme Speed was for general uses and I wouldn’t want any other move in that slot.

Also, I’m going to state my opinion here: Arcanine is not the 2nd best Pokemon in the format and I think it's usage is a bit too high to be warranted. It is not a bad Pokemon by any means, but I feel as if a different Pokemon on this team holds the title for best Pokemon in the format.


Araquanid @ Waterium Z
Ability: Water Bubble
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Protect
- Liquidation
- Bug Bite
- Substitute

Usage: Brought 44/44 Games 100%

Easily the MVP of all of my events. In addition to having 100 percent game-usage at Regionals, it also came to 100 percent of my games at my three local tournaments.

Araquanid is such a good Pokemon, and it’s drop-off in usage baffles me. People always say that it's due to Gigalith and Nihilego getting more popular, and I hate that logic. Gigalith must be under Trick Room (my team has several ways to stop from being set up or to stall out) or it has to land a very inaccurate Stone Edge, unless it wants to blow its Z-Move. Nihilego doesn’t even OHKO Araquanid and then gets one-shot back. Of course, both of these Pokemon are giant weaknesses to this team, but I don’t like it when people claim that Gigalith is a counter to Araquanid.

This Pokemon just does so much damage. I refuse to change the spread to do anything specific because then I’m taking away from the raw power of this behemoth. Substitute is probably the most underwhelming move on this set, but it allows for some solid plays when you predict your opponent to double protect on the last turn of Trick Room. Bug Bite allows it to gain recovery while messing with my opponent's strategy, and due to this, the Muk and Snorlax matchups become much easier. I mean… Until they out-speed and Wild Charge you… Then ya know… you lose.


Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Analytic
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 136 Def / 4 SpA / 116 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Ice Beam
- Toxic
- Recover
- Trick Room

Usage: Brought 40/44 Games 90.91%

This spread also does nothing to be honest. The numbers looked nice. I meant to move the 4 SpA to Defense but never got around to it. Porygon2 is Porygon2. It sits there, it takes hits and it sets up Trick Room for my entire team to abuse.

I believe Toxic is a much better 4th move on Porygon2 due to it matching how the Pokemon is designed. Porygon2 was never meant to be sitting there and doing damage. With it’s amazing natural bulk boosted by Eviolite, it was meant to sit there and stall. Basically, if you aren't using Toxic on P2, I think you are doing something wrong in your team building and theorizing processes.

USING THE TEAM

Leads and Modes:

+++++

Literally you can lead whatever you want and it will probably work out. I go entirely on gut instinct for my leads because having something predetermined only forces you into situations that may not be exactly correct. Lead how you feel will win you the game, not on some predetermined match-up plan that doesn’t usually take into account a team's subtle differences.


Threats:
Rock Types:/
I have 0 Resists and 2 weaknesses to Rock. Nihilego specifically is troublesome because it hits 4 Pokemon super effectively, and even Celesteela does not enjoy taking a +1 Life Orb Power Gem.

Muk:
I have 2 poison weaknesses, and Porygon2 and Arcanine also do not enjoy Knock Off.

THE TOURNAMENT

I thoroughly enjoy going to events, but getting to them consistently can be extremely hard due to things happening in life. As of late, it seems as if playing has taken a back seat to TrainerTower Team Compilations, as well as finishing my Eagle Project and starting work as a Lifeguard.

Getting to see everyone and just hang out with some of the most chill people ever is why I love events. I’m not the type to take a lot of photos or to record vlogs, but after every event I always wish I had. I seriously can’t say enough about how much I love this community. But, I’m going to switch up my writing style here a bit. Analyzing losses is the most important part of the games in order to learn. I won't go into detail on my streamed losses, as you can watch them for yourselves.

Virginia Regionals

Round 1 vs Issac Stottlemyer (L-W-W)

His Team:

Win 2-1 (1-0)

Round 2 vs Alexander Williams (W-L-L) [3-3 Drop]

His Team:

Game One came down to my Celesteela stalling out the entire match. He didn’t play his Nihilego very well in addition to having not brought his Arcanine.

Game Two comes down to a very long stall, and at the end of it my Celesteela didn't have enough resources in order to pull the win out. I misplayed a few times, allowing my Araquanid to go down early. This was a huge mistake because he did not bring Nihilego to either games 2 or 3.  At the end of the match, Serapis is watching and asks the judge how much time is left. When I hear there are still 14 minutes left on the clock, I know that slow playing will be a very hard win condition to achieve.

Game Three I played really poorly. I didn’t conserve my Arcanine well and let it faint really fast when I had to keep it healthy to take on the endgame Lele. Basically, instead of going for a KO onto Lele with my Araquanid, I went for the KO with Arcanine’s Flare Blitz. This weakened it to the point where Snorlax was able to KO me with a Facade. No excuses this game, I just didn’t play as well as I should have.

Loss 1-2 (1-1)

Round 3 vs Matt Neil (W-W)

His Team:

Win 2-0 (2-1)

Round 4 vs Justin Ramirez (Lukamir) (L-W-W) [5-3]

His Team:

Win 2-1 (3-1)

Round 5 vs David Thompson (Drizzle_Dave) (W-W)

His Team:

Win 2-0 (4-1)

Round 6 vs Chris Danzo (Lunar) (W-L-W) [6-2], Top 16

His Team:

Win 2-1 (5-1)

Round 7 vs Nick Naverre (Nails) (L-L) [7-1], Eventual Champion

His Team: 

This game was streamed, and you can watch it here.
A bit of luck and several bad plays on my end resulted in this match-loss. Not much else to say about it.

Loss 0-2 (5-2)

Round 8 vs Ben Hickey (DarkPenguin67) (L-W-W) [6-2 (pair up)], Top 16

His Team:

Win 2-1 (6-2)

Final Record: 6-2, 19th place


Toronto Regionals

Round 1 vs Douglas Kenny (W-L-W)

His Team:

Win 2-1 (1-0)

Round 2 vs Ryan Loseto (SableyeVGC) (W-L-W) [5-2], Top 32

His Team:

Win 2-1 (2-0)

Round 3 vs Sebastian Biage (L-W-W)

His Team:

Win 2-1 (3-0)

Round 4 vs Kevin Brown (W-W) [4-3]

His Team:

Win 2-0 (4-0)

Round 5 vs Terry Hong (iplayvgc) (L-W-W) [4-3]

His Team:

Win 2-1 (5-0)

Round 6 vs Joshua Lorcy (Lorcylovesyou) (L-L) [7-0], 2nd place

His Team:

This game was streamed, and you can watch it here.
This is just Josh playing much, much better than I did. Legitimately nothing else. I got entirely complacent. Have fun watching Josh win.

Loss 0-2 (5-1)

Round 7 vs Trista Medine (ryuzaki) (W-L-W) [6-2], Top 8

Her Team:

Win 2-1 (6-1)

Top 8 vs Alex Label (Warchomp) (W-L-L) Top 4

His Team:

I did a bunch of scouting the night before (Shoutouts to JT PKMN for uploading the VODs that night), and I gained some very valuable information. I knew that Taunt Fini would make the match-up extremely hard for me. I also knew he was very unlikely to bring both Kartana and Gigalith (both assumptions were correct).

Game One: I played very well and very offensively. I kept pressure on the entire time and, despite some accuracy drops, I was able to put him into a near unwinnable position. I played very risky with my Tapu Bulu this game, and that is what would end up biting me in the butt later on in the set.

Game Two: I play very aggressively with my Bulu, switching it in to reset the terrains. However, this was very heavily punished as he predicted the switch in and Arcanine Flare Blitz’d that slot for the OHKO. Losing my Bulu meant I no longer had a way to reset the terrains due to me not bringing Koko during the set. That meant I could no longer go for my end game of Toxic stall, so I slowly lost my hold on the game from there.

Game Three: The same thing happened again. I expected my Tapu Bulu to live a combination of Tapu Fini Moonblast and a -1 Attack Flare Blitz from his Arcanine, due to my Figy Berry. This was not the case. His Tapu Fini out-sped his Arcanine and did 50 percent to my Bulu, so I fainted to Flare Blitz and lost the set from there.

The entire set is what happens when I get too comfortable and complacent when playing. After I won game one, I assumed that, due to my domination, I already had the set won. Alex played better however, and capitalized on this perfectly. Not much really to say besides he played better than me.

GOING FORWARD

The team has a few weaknesses, none of which are too easy to cover by simply making basic changes. Metagross or Muk over Celesteela has been suggested, but I personally don’t like them due to how they weaken the Garchomp and Snorlax matchups.

Hidden Power Fire or Thunderbolt over Dazzling Gleam on Koko is something I have been testing and enjoyed. Changing both of Araquanid and Tapu Bulu’s fourth move slots can be argued for, and I have been testing different options on both. I changed the Tapu Koko spread for less speed and more bulk, which makes its general damage calcs so much better. If anyone can find a way to squeeze Fire Spin onto Arcanine somehow, I would be forever indebted to you.

The team is extremely solid overall, but it does require some slow and smart playing. If you go too fast with it, you can make very costly mistakes early in the game that hurt you in the endgame. If you want to use it, this team will not get counter teamed except by maybe the locals who know I’m going to events.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • I want to thank my training partners in Ben, Cameron, Drew, Andres and Jeremy
  • I want to thank Tommy and Leonard for the team and team adjustments
  • I want to thank everyone who supported me at my events; ie. East Coast Crew, Alvin, Nick, Rajan, Patrick and Tom
  • Thanks Alex for giving me the best set I’ve ever had at a Regional! Even though I lost, I learned a lot from it. Looking forward to a rematch at Nats!
  • The Rollouts were just amazing to have as teammates this season, and I’m so happy to have been drafted. Thank you so much Benji, Oliver and Blake for giving me the opportunity to play and learn with the team!
  • Finally, thanks Andy for editing this! Love ya scrub <3
  • Fábio Alexandre

    He said his Bulu has 29IVs so it underspeed other Bulu. Ok. But what about de 4EVs? Doesn’t it speed tie with 31IVs 0EVs Bulu? Oo