Hello all! My name is Ashin or SweetKarmaVGC on Twitter. Here I’ll cover the team I used to place Top 8 at the VGC 17 San Jose Regional Championships in December.
I started playing VGC in the summer of 2014 with my first tournament being US Nationals. I had very little experience with the doubles format having been a Smogon OU player. Surprisingly, I barely missed day 2 with a 6-3 record. Encouraged with this placing, I practised relentlessly that summer and saw my play style adjust and improve. Following this, I attended a multitude of local events in the 2015 season with my best finish being Top 16 at Oregon Regionals. However, this progress was halted when VGC 16 begun. I didn’t enjoy the format, and due to the start of college, I didn’t attend any more tournaments. Nevertheless, excited by Sun and Moon, I knew I would participate in VGC 17.
When VGC 17 began I, like many people, became lost and experimented with a variety of ideas. My practice time was severely limited due to school and I was never able to fully develop team ideas. I knew San Jose Regionals would be on the 17th while my semester finished on the 10th, which gave me exactly a week to come up with my team. What fun! It just so happened that the week before San Jose was the London International Challenge, where I knew many of the world’s best players would bring some excellent teams. Therefore, the idea was to take a concept from a top player and bring it to my own tournament.
On Saturday evening, I was watching the London IC stream. Immediately, I became interested in a core that was being used by Wolfe and Tobias. The 5 Pokemon in common were Tapu Bulu, Salamence, Politoed, Magnezone and Porygon2. I felt the team was already weak partially weak to Tapu Lele, so I opted for Wolfe’s version with Muk.
Therefore the team began as:
Immediately I realised I didn’t want Salamence, I felt its damage was underwhelming and many teams had at least two Pokemon with ice-type moves for Garchomp. At the same time, I wanted the replacement to resist grass-types and hit hard. I also noticed a weakness to Celesteela and Magnezone, so I thought the slot should be a fire-type. I chose Marowak.
This team had a lot of success. I enjoyed Marowak’s firepower, but Sleep Powder/Spore was a problem. It seemed to be an automatic loss. I ran into an incredible number of spore Smeargle and Torkoal + Lilligant, which I expected to see at the Regional. Therefore, Marowak was replaced by Safety Goggles Arcanine. This change proved to be very helpful.
The resulting team outperformed its previous iteration but had issues with rain teams and opposing Arcanine. I had no idea what to change, but it was decided the slot to be adjusted was Muk. During the last two days leading up to the tournament, numerous Pokémon were trialled, such as Tapu Lele and Hariyama. None seemed to work. Sitting in my hotel room with my friend at 3 am Saturday, the 6th slot had yet to be filled. It dawned on me that Gastrodon would fix many of my weaknesses! I hastily made a spread and played a few test games. I had realised that this beautiful slug was the gem that had alluded me. After EV training it, I got a good four hours of sleep before it was time to wake up for the event!
Politoed @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 84 SpA / 4 SpD / 60 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Ice Beam
– Perish Song
Everyone threw shade on Politoed and crowned Pelliper king at the beginning of the season, but I knew who I thought was still the best Drizzle user. People were upset it lost moves such as Icy Wind this generation. Politoed served a surprising role in managing the Garchomp / Celesteela core with Encore and Ice Beam. The speed EVs allowed me to outspeed every Celesteela I faced and most Tapu Bulu. Most people use rain for offensive purposes, but on my team, it was to reduce fire-type damage to Magnezone and Tapu Bulu allowing them to stick around longer. Perish Song was also a great way to close out games against stall but was never used in the tournament.
Tapu Bulu @ Lum Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Atk / 84 Def / 68 SpD / 60 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Wood Hammer
– Horn Leech
– Leech Seed
I was very happy with what Tapu Bulu was able to do for the team’s synergy. Grassy Terrain played a huge role in reducing the damage from the countless Garchomp Earthquakes I faced. In addition, Horn Leech picked up surprising knockouts. Switching terrains into my favour often saved my Porygon2 from attacks from opposing terrain abusers, giving it the opportunity to set Trick Room. I never used Wood Hammer during the tournament, so I should have switched that move slot for Whirlwind to improve my Extreme Evoboost matchup. Luckily, I didn’t play any Eevee teams in the tournament. The EV spread is to survive Jolly Garchomp’s Poison Jab, Flash Cannon from most Magnezone, and Psychic from most Tapu Lele. The speed allowed me to outspeed Milotic, but I think this aspect of the spread is no longer very important as Milotic sees less usage.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Def / 92 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Shadow Ball
– Trick Room
I love this little floating rubber duck of annoyance. The bulk on this thing is unreal, and being able to recover it all back is amazing. Protected by Arcanine’s Intimidate and by controlling terrains with Tapu Bulu, setting Trick Room safely was simple. With the speed advantage, I could then sweep many teams. Ice Beam and Shadow Ball are great coverage moves allowing me to hit Garchomp, Tapu Lele and Marowak for large damage if not a knockout with the +1 boost to Special Attack from Download.
Magnezone @ Life Orb
Ability: Magnet Pull
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk
– Flash Cannon
– Light Screen
Magnezone is a Pokemon that hasn’t been changed this generation but has risen from obscurity, due to its excellent matchups against common threats. It seemed that every time Magnezone moved it picked up a knockout. With Life Orb, I had the ability to OHKO any of the Island Guardians. Light Screen was a move I added to improve certain matchups, as I felt Substitute was not as good for my version of the team. Special attackers are common this year, and often my opponents would double protect to stall my Trick Room turns. This provided a great opportunity to use Light Screen. Magnezone probably picked up 75% of my knockouts in this tournament.
Gastrodon @ Maranga Berry
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 228 HP / 220 Def / 60 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
Gastrodon was the glue to my team and was added about five hours before the tournament began. It can completely wall water-type attackers, giving me a huge leg-up against rain teams. This seemed to be a common problem for others, as three Pelliper / Golduck teams went 7-1 in Swiss. Toxic was really useful, as I was able to stall out bulky Pokemon I had no other means of threatening. In my first game, I managed to knock out a Goodra with only toxic damage. If I had more time to practice, I could have definitely switched Recover for Stockpile and added Normalium Z.
Arcanine @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Def / 20 SpA / 172 SpD / 12 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
There are no words to describe how great Arcanine was for me in this event. Not only did I have an intimidator, but Will-O-Wisp shut down so many of the common threats. Nobody ran Lum Berry on any Pokemon other than Tapu Bulu, so being able to greatly weaken the likes of Muk was huge. Snarl was also great to neutralise special attacks and Flamethrower provided basic fire-type damage. Although I forget the exact details of the EV spread, this Arcanine is almost impossible to take out in one hit. It survives a Shattered Psyche from Tapu Lele in Grassy Terrain.
As I had never top cut a major event like regionals, I can’t say I expected to cut. Though I would have been disappointed if my team didn’t perform well, or I took anything more than three losses in swiss. Going into the tournament I was confident in every matchup except for Extreme Evoboost and Gavin’s Hariyama Trick Room. I had played practice matches against him earlier that week as we go to school together. As long as I avoided those two teams I expected to be fine! I didn’t expect to be writing a report, so some of my notes on the early games aren’t very detailed.
Round 1 vs. Jonah Chung (WW)
This set was straightforward. The first game he led with Muk and Milotic into my Gastrodon and Magnezone, with him having Goodra and Tapu Bulu in the back. The main thing I remember about this match was knocking out his Goodra with only toxic damage. In the second game, he brought the same leads with Marowak instead of Goodra in the back. Still, my Gastrodon and Magnezone were able to clean up the game without much that Jonah could do against it.
Round 2 vs. Edward Gold (WLW)
This set was tense, as I needed to handle Spore from his Smeargle. I was able to surprise him with the Safety Goggles on my Arcanine. It played a huge role in winning game one. In the second game, he surprised me with Energy Ball on Tapu Lele which knocked out my Gastrodon. Entering game three; I adjusted my strategy and although he got some favourable moody boosts, I was able to take the set. I was very happy that my Arcanine’s Safety Goggles had already come into play.
Round 3 vs. Jonathan Indovino [ShadyPenguinn] (LWW)
When I got to the table, I recognised my opponent as a YouTuber who had been taking pictures with fans before the tournament began. I had never watched his videos, so I didn’t know anything about him. If he was 2-0 at this point, he had to be decent! It turned out he was far more than decent, and he won the first game handily. In team preview, I thought that if I could set up Trick Room, Porygon2 and Magnezone could sweep through his team and Politoed would shut down Gigalith. Jonathan played the first game beautifully, revealing he could knock out my Porygon2 with Bloom Doom plus an attack from Arcanine. I lost my Porygon2 turn 1 and from then on I couldn’t recover the game.
Knowing this in the following games, I was able to lead Porygon2 / Arcanine against his Tapu Bulu / Arcanine providing the intimidate support I needed to survive the attacks. After setting Trick Room, I played games 2 and 3 well and won decisively. His own Grassy Terrain ended up hurting him by weakening Earthquake from Gigalith, protecting my Magnezone. He was a very polite guy and we each complimented each other’s teams and play style. He is definitely a skilled player and finished 6-2.
Round 4 vs. Connor Guhlke (WW)
I don’t remember much about this game other than Tapu Bulu provided some surprising knockouts. After setting Trick Room both games and there was very little he could do. I led Magnezone / Arcanine in the second game and he tried to switch Marowak in. He took damage from the Snarl that he switched into. One more Snarl from Arcanine and Flash Cannon from Magnezone and his Marowak fainted without getting a move off. Porygon2 was handy in not only setting up Trick Room, but Shadow Ball did over 50% to his Tapu Lele.
Round 5 vs. Philip Wingett (WLW)
I had played Philip before at local Premier Challenges and was happy that both of us were doing well. I was also thrilled to see his Butterfree, as I knew my call for Safety Goggles Arcanine would be huge again. Two teams with powder moves in five rounds, who would have thought? The first game was perfect for me. I led Magnezone / Arcanine into Butterfree / Garchomp. He went for Sleep Powder on Arcanine and Earthquake, while I burned the Garchomp with Arcanine and switched Magnezone for Tapu Bulu. Sleep Powder failed on Arcanine and with Grassy Terrain and Intimidate the Earthquake barely did 30% to Arcanine. The next turn he double-targeted Tapu Bulu with Bug Buzz and Poison Jab, but I switched back into Magnezone so Poison Jab did zero damage and Bug Buzz did close to nothing.
In the second game, he punished me for leading Arcanine and did not bring Butterfree. He led Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele with the deadly Nature’s Madness plus Psychic combination. Into game three, my game plan was to set Trick Room immediately. I led Porygon2 and Arcanine into Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. I switched Arcanine for Tapu Bulu, which let my Porygon2 survive Nature’s Madness plus Psychic due to the terrain shift. From then on, Tapu Bulu just cleaned up under Trick Room and the game was over.
Round 6 vs. Gustavo Reynoso (WW)
His team seemed quite standard, so I had a good game plan going into this round. In the first game, I entered a 3 versus 1 with my Magnezone, Gastrodon, and Tapu Bulu against his Celesteela. I thought I had the game in the bag until he showed Flamethrower Celesteela! It knocked my Magnezone out and used Leech Seed on Gastrodon. I panicked, but I was able to Leech Seed his Celesteela with my Tapu Bulu and slowly stall him out.
The second game was closer, but the combination of Porygon2, Magnezone, Politoed, and Gastrodon was too strong against his team. After game two I could not believe it. Never in my wildest imagination did I expect to be one of the four remaining 6-0 players left. I knew at this point, that I had a solid chance to top cut even if I lost my last two rounds. This greatly eased my mind.
Round 7 vs. Gary Qian (WLL)
While we were waiting in line to check in, Gary was behind us. I was hence acquainted with him, and I knew he was a very strong player. I felt I had an amazing matchup. In game 1 I won fairly convincingly, but he did show off the frightening potential of Fissure on his Gastrodon. Fortunately for me, he missed until later turns that game.
In game 2 I felt I had an even stronger position but he hit Fissure on turn two which threw me off. The game came down to the wire, with my Gastrodon against a Poisoned Arcanine and Burned Muk. He got the poison onto Gastrodon with Muk’s Poison Jab and I forfeited because his Arcanine had Morning Sun and could stall me out. Afterwards, Gary said he thought I would have still won. Oh well. The third game went the same way with him connecting on Fissure and there wasn’t much I could do afterwards. I wasn’t upset; if anything the set increased my confidence since I now knew I could hold my own against the event’s top players.
Round 8 vs. Brian Hamrick (LL)
This was a nightmare of a game. When pairings came out, I was pretty upset I was paired down and a little stressed. If I lost, then I might not make it to Day 2. Additionally, it felt like a wave of fatigue had hit me as the little sleep I got the day before was starting to catch up with me. Long story short, I was extremely brain dead the entire set and felt like I was going to pass out. This coupled with bad luck just frustrated me more during the set and I lost in spectacular fashion. I know at one point, I had Gastrodon and Politoed in against his Garchomp and he double flinched me with Rock Slide. When I had used Ice Beam with both Pokemon onto his Garchomp… All and all, I did play the set poorly and took a loss.
I was really upset that I finished 6-2 especially, with my 6-0 start. At the same time, I was dead tired. Additionally, I wasn’t certain anymore whether I would make top cut due to my pair down. When the standings came out, I was in 14th place! I was going to move on! I saw three of my opponents from swiss had also made top cut. After two hours of hack checking, we were finally allowed to leave. I got home at around 11:30 pm. Day 1 was a success!
At the start of day 2, I was feeling very confident. As mentioned earlier, I had played 3 of the other 15 players left. I felt I could handle these players again fine. There were also three Pelliper + Golduck teams which I had an amazing team matchup against. The only team I was afraid of was Gavin’s, as I had no complete way of checking Hariyama or stopping Trick Room from going up. As long as I avoided him, I felt I stood a chance against anyone.
Top 16 vs. David Scott (WW)
My first match of Day 2 was against the first rain team I faced today. He had no way of knocking out Magnezone, other than water attacks from Pelliper or Golduck. Clearly, my Gastrodon could protect Magnezone from that with Storm Drain. I lead Magnezone / Arcanine with Gastrodon and Porygon2 behind. If he did lead rain, I could switch Arcanine for Gastrodon and Thunderbolt safely. He led with Muk and Tapu Bulu. I was able to burn the Muk and the second game went the same way. Not only did I win both games, but I won both 4-0. David is a great player, but the team matchup wasn’t in his favour. He is a great guy and I wish him the best in his future tournaments.
Top 8 vs. Gavin Michaels (LL)
The matchup I dreaded most was taking place in Top 8. Unfortunately, this game was the only one of mine streamed. My goal throughout the set was to try to knock out the Hariyama as soon as possible and then win with my Gastrodon. That entire plan flew out the window when Drampa revealed Energy Ball. There were also a lot of mind games; from beforehand I recalled that his Magnezone was Choice Specs with Hidden Power Ground. I never felt safe keeping my Magnezone in, if he trapped me with his own Magnet Pull I would lose my Magnezone instantly.
I certainly made my misplays, but I commend Gavin on his great team. He eventually took out the entire tournament. He stunned me with his Drampa, and I was unable to adjust. Retrospectively, I would try to knock out Drampa with Flash Cannon from Magnezone and Ice Beam from Porygon2 in the early game. I could have used Snarl with my Arcanine against it also. Normalium Z and Stockpile on my Gastrodon would have been useful here too. I would have been able to live Energy Ball at +1 Special Defense, giving me another option against his Drampa.
Overall, I was happy with my performance at the event. This tournament was by far the most fun I have ever had at an event! It was fun to see many familiar faces for the first time in a while. I also made a lot of new friends. The healthy chunk of CP towards my Worlds invite has encouraged me to keep attending tournaments and earn an invite this year. I’d wanted to give a shout-out to my online friends, who helped test the team and formulate EV spreads. To all my friends at the event that made it such a blast, thank you. If you have any questions about my team or generally, feel free to contact me on Twitter!