Hey there everyone! My name is Andrew Davis, and you may recognize me from the Tri-State Area VGC scene or from my YouTube Channel where I do VGC Battles. I have been playing VGC since the 2015 season, and I competed at Worlds in 2016. Since 2016, I have taken a more casual approach to VGC, going to events mostly to hang out with friends rather than trying to qualify for Worlds. While I have top cut several Premier Challenges and Midseason Showdowns over the years, this was my first top cut at a Regional tournament!
Going into this Regional I was incredibly busy with work and moving into a new place, so I didn’t have time to properly build a team. I searched VGC resources for a team I thought I could pilot without much practice and decided to just hope for the best. On his Patreon, Hibiki (@hibikivgc) posted a translation to a Mega-Kangaskhan team report by Japanese player Toki (@TokiVGC) with Pokémon and sets similar to ones I have used in the past. I decided to use this team, trading practice time for familiarity. I considered the best approach since I knew I wouldn’t have any time to practice.
- Toki used this team to place 3rd at the 12th Poka-Off Tournament
- Top 8 Roanoke Regional
SnipperClips (Kartana) @ Grassium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 140 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 92 SpD / 212 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
The speed EV’s allow you to outspeed Nihilego while HP and Special Defense investment allow it to survive a Timid Choice Scarf Landorus-T’s Earth Power (this never actually came into play during the tournament). The rest of the EV’s are dumped into Attack to maximize damage output and to allow Kartana can nuke Pokémon with its massive Bloom Doom. Sacred Sword is great coverage and Tailwind support helps a lot to control the pace of the game, allowing you to beatdown your opponent.
Flatfoot (Heatran) @ Shuca Berry
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 156 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 92 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Earth Power
The Speed EV’s allow Heatran to outspeed Adamant Mega-Metagross after one Icy Wind. The Modest nature and maxed out Special Attack EV’s are there to allow Heatran to do as much damage as possible. Heatran is naturally bulky with great offensive coverage and type resistances. With Intimidate support and speed control, it can stick around and throw up huge super effective damage.
Heatran’s other important role is to help deal with the rising popularity of Mega-Gengar/Kommo-o/Incineroar teams. Heatran’s typing allows it to sit in front of all three of these Pokémon somewhat comfortably. Hitting Gengar/Incineroar with a super-effective Earth Power, or Roar away Kommo-o after it boosts with Clangorous Soulblaze. Roar was also crucial to shutting down hard Trick Room teams, especially teams using Mimikyu which is hard to OHKO on turn one.
ComeOn&Clam! (Tapu Fini) @ Choice Specs
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Dazzling Gleam
Tapu Fini is so important to this team. Not only does it round out the fire/water/grass core with Kartana and Heatran, but it is able to OHKO Kommo-o after they boost with Moonblast. Tapu Fini can even OHKO some Kommo-o with Dazzling Gleam even after they boost.
Since the team relies on maintaining board position through offensive pressure, Choice Specs is there to deal as much damage as possible. Using either super-effective or neutral damage, Tapu Fini is able to 2HKO most Pokémon popular in the format. Neutral nature max Speed EV’s allowed Tapu Fini to outspeed a lot of Pokémon, and made decision making much easier. Not once did I have to guess during the tournament whether my Tapu Fini would be outsped and I cannot stress enough how much this helped me during the tournament.
Tapu Fini helps to control Incineroar and Landorus Intimidate cycling on this team’s physical attackers by smashing them with strong Choice Specs Muddy Waters. This team shines when Kangaskhan is smashing things with Double Edge, and Tapu Fini is hitting an Intimidate switch in with strong Muddy Waters. An Incineroar or Landorus switching in were usually 2HKO’d by Muddy Water, and since Tapu Fini is so fast, these Pokémon were often knocked out before they ever got a chance to attack.
Oh yeah, and Haze is great for stopping cheese teams and removing Intimidate drops on my physical attackers. I don’t remember if I ever clicked Haze, but I wouldn’t have wanted to play without it.
Space Banana (Cresselia) @ Mago Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 20 Def / 60 SpA / 92 SpD / 100 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Calm Mind
The Speed EV’s allow Cresselia to outspeed Mega-Salamence after one Icy Wind. The Special Attack EV’s allow Cresselia to 2HKO 252HP/4 SpD Mega-Gengar with Psychic, or non-bulky Mega-Gengar with Psychic after one Calm Mind.
The defensive investment allows Cresselia to survive a Helping Hand boosted Shadow Ball from mega-Gengar into a 2HKO. I genuinely don’t know what the Defense EV’s do, but I had zero complaints with Cresselia’s bulk during the tournament.
Icy Wind is the secondary form of speed control for this team instead of Trick Room, since none of the other members are slow enough to benefit. Cresselia was very important to combat Rain teams since I could Icy Wind opposing Ludicolo, and then Kangaskhan could outspeed and KO after the Icy Wind chip damage even at -1 Attack. Calm Mind was also great for setting up when the opponent played passively or ignored Cresselia thinking it to not be a major threat.
Used2BKewl (Landorus-Therian) @ Assault Vest
EVs: 100 HP / 28 Atk / 4 Def / 180 SpD / 196 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Knock Off
The defensive investment guarantees that Landorus survives a Timid Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche even in psychic terrain. The Speed EV’s outspeed Jolly max speed Mega Tyranitar, and the leftover EV’s are dumped into Attack. Adamant nature ensures that even with minimal EV’s Landorus is able to dish out respectable damage and pick up important KO’s.
I suppose I am a huge dweeb for saying this, but I don’t think I can play a serious team in VGC 2018 without Landorus or Incineroar. They are just too good to pass up and I would splash them onto any team. This Landorus provided so much utility during the tournament with Intimidate, U-Turn, and Knock Off. These allowed me to maintain board position, cycle Intimidates, and neuter Pokémon that rely on those aggravating pinch berries and Eviolite. I considered changing Knock Off or Rock Slide to Rock Tomb, but flinches are too tempting to pass up, and I thought the utility and information gathering ability of Knock would serve me better during the tournament.
BIG MAMA (Kangaskhan-Mega) @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 36 HP / 252 Atk / 220 Spe
– Sucker Punch
– Low Kick
– Fake Out
Holy guacamole this Pokémon is being slept on. Take a moment to evaluate your life and ask yourself why you aren’t using this Pokémon. Big Mama here ripped cosmic sized holes through unprepared teams, and I cannot stress enough the sheer offensive presence this thing has. A lot of teams will run Jolly Return but I took a chance on Adamant Double Edge and I loved it. There were a couple of games where literally the only damage my team took was Kangaskhan’s own Double Edge recoil.
The EV’s outspeed neutral speed Tapu Lele and other base 95 speed Pokémon after Mega Evolution. The Attack EV’s are maxed out and the leftover EV’s were dumped into HP.
I chose Scrappy as the ability for the option to Fake Out Mega-Gengar and break Mimikyu’s disguise turn 1. Fake Out and Bloom Doom was a nice option to have against opposing Mimikyu Trick Room leads where Heatran wasn’t a good option.
Sucker Punch surprised many people, and they often asked me why I was using it instead of something like Ice Punch. Adamant Sucker Punch was crucial versus the ever popular Mega-Gengar and also helped to pick off weakened opponents even when they had the speed control advantage. Low Kick was easily the best choice in coverage moves, even though I originally considered using Ice Punch to OHKO opposing Landorus through Intimidate (more on Ice Punch later).
USE THIS POKEMON SERIOUSLY.
The primary goal of the team is simply to win every damage trade. Kangaskhan is incredibly important to the way the team plays. Fake Out helps set up speed control with either Tailwind or Icy Wind, which sounds super basic but this is honestly what the team does best. Take advantage of Tailwind turns and hammer the opponent with huge offense to pick up easy wins. The other thing to keep in mind is that your opponent will try to make defensive switches to stall out your tailwind turns, so punish their switches if you can. There were so many games where my opponent would switch in their Incineroar/Landorus to Intimidate Kangaskhan and I would predict this and throw out Choice Specs Muddy Water. Even at -1 Attack, Kangaskhan Double Edge hits pretty hard and combined with Tapu Fini can pick up plenty of knock outs.
Hard Trick room requires you to play more carefully to prevent Trick Room Set up. Since Kangaskhan is such good lead option, opponents with Hard Trick Room can turn 1 switch in their Fake Out user (often Incineroar) while protecting their TR setter. This is especially detrimental if the TR setter is Mimikyu since you can no longer stop them from setting up Trick Room. In these cases it is often better to use Heatran to Roar away their TR setter.
As long as you play smart with the team it is very forgiving, and the occasional sub-optimal play won’t lose you the game. Kangaskhan even with little defensive investment is still surprisingly bulky, and Calm Mind + Moonlight Cresselia is like a Wall Street bailout. The balanced nature of the team means I could afford to make a read or two every game that often resulted in huge momentum swings.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
Tapu Fini + Metagross
- Front: Kangaskhan + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kartana + Landorus-T
- Front: Landorus-T + Cresselia
- Back: Heatran + Tapu Fini
- Front: Kangaskhan + Cresselia
- Back: Tapu Fini + Kartana or Landorus-T
Manectric + Control
- Front: Landorus-T + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kartana + Kangaskhan
- Front: Kangaskhan + Kartana
- Back: Tapu Fini + Heatran
Hard Trick Room Teams
- Front: Kangaskhan + Heatran
- Back: Use your best judgement
- Front: Kangaskhan + Tapu Fini
- Back: Heatran or Kartana + Landorus-T
Opposing Kangaskhan Teams
- Front: Kangaskhan + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kartana + Landorus-T
- Front: Heatran + Landorus-T
- Back: Kartana + Kangaskhan
- Front: Kartana + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kangaskhan + Landorus-T
Tapu Koko Metagross
- Front: Heatran + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kartana + Kangaskhan
- Front: Heatran + Kangaskhan
- Back: Kartana + Whatever
Tapu Lele Metagross
- Front: Cresselia + Tapu Fini
- Back: Kartana + Heatran
- Front: Kangaskhan + Tapu Fini
Back: Whatever + Landorus-T
- Front: Landorus-T + Cresselia or Tapu Fini
- Back: Kangaskhan + Heatran
This team has decent matchups against every other major team archetype, so you should be able to follow the example leads and backs while having little issue. One of the beautiful aspects of this team is that since you have most of your matchups flow charted, you can spend less time deciding which Pokémon to choose during team preview, and more time deciding how to play the match. This helped me stay focused and avoid fatigue during the length of the tournament since I had less decisions to make per game.
Tapu Fini is also useful for controlling terrain to limit the damage output from the offensive terrains (electric, grassy, psychic). Tapu Koko, Lele, and Bulu struggle to overwhelm this team with their respective terrains so try to use Landorus, and Tapu Fini to limit their damage output.
Overall, the way this team flourishes is by balancing offensive pressure with defensive board positioning whenever necessary. There is truth in the idea that the best defense is a good offense. This team can offer so much offensive pressure that the opponent has less opportunity to attack your Pokémon.
Gengar and Kommo-o teams struggle to deal with Heatran, so use Roar to waste their Clangorous Soulblaze boosts and watch them struggle to deal with your damage output. Kangaskhan can Scrappy Fake Out their Gengar turn 1, and then you can lock them down with Sucker Punch. I chose to keep Sucker Punch primarily because Adamant max attack Sucker Punch after Fake Out chip was a great way to cripple Mega-Gengar.
Snorlax control teams can be troublesome if you let them set up, so focus on pinning down Snorlax while eliminating the partner support Pokémon in the meantime. My main strategy against this was to hammer the partner Pokémon for while doing just enough damage to Snorlax to force it to Recycle multiple times. Bring this matchup to an end game where you can have multiple Pokémon versus solo Snorlax, and you will usually win.
Against hyper-offensive teams where your opponent can outpace you in terms of damage, Cresselia can slow down the pace of the game allowing you to control the match. Landorus and Cresselia is a very useful combination against these kinds of teams since the opponent will struggle to take down the bulky space banana through Intimidate and Calm Mind boosts. Disrupt the opponent with Kangaskhan and Landorus to Cresselia in a position to sweep with Calm Mind boosts.
Against Rain teams, I would lead either Kangaskhan and Kartana (usually if they had Politoed) or Kangaskhan and Cresselia (usually if they had Pelipper). Tapu Fini is useful to prevent Scald Burns on Kangaskhan, and can easily take a Hydro Vortex from Ludicolo. Many games I would Double-Edge and Bloom Doom into Ludicolo on the first turn to guarantee a knockout. Many games the Ludicolo would Fake Out turn one only to be knocked out in return. Once you remove Ludicolo, rain teams struggle to handle the pace and damage output that this team provides.
Rundown of Tournament
I didn’t take any notes during the tournament since I didn’t expect to do well (whoops). Luckily my opponents have helped me fill the gaps. Shout outs to everyone I played, you were all fantastic and kind people.
Round 1: Austin Forcinito (5-2) WW
Austin led Suicune/Incineroar both games, with Celesteela/Gardevoir in the back. Game 1 I led Kangaskhan Kartana and went for a simple Fake Out Incineroar Bloom Doom into Suicune. After that Kangaskhan, Kartana, and Tapu Fini were able to fire off big attacks to finish out the game. Game 2 I believe I Kangaskhan Tapu Fini and went for Fake Out Muddy Water. Having learned Game 1 that my Pokémon were naturally faster than his, I was comfortable firing off Double Edges and Specs Muddy Waters to win the game.
Round 2: Chad Barbour (3-4) WW
This was a standard rain team, but I don’t remember the particulars. I led Kangaskhan/Kartana against every single rain team I played and I believe this matchup was straightforward.
Round 3: Rajan Bal (3-2) drop WLL
Snorlax/Gengar-M/Mimikyu/Incineroar/Tapu Fini/ Celesteela
Rajan, why must you always torture me with these Snorlax teams? Game 1 I prioritized doing enough damage to Snorlax to prevent a Belly Drum and force repeated Recycles. He ended up setting up Trick Room with Gengar, but I was able to eliminate the partner Pokémon and only allow Snorlax to belly Drum as Trick Room expired. At this point Snorlax only had about 30% health left without the berry, and the combination of Kangaskhan and Choice Specs Moonblast was too much. Games 2 and 3 were nearly identical and involved us both launching Muddy Waters at each other, leading to annoying accuracy drops for us both.
Round 4: Claire Van Dyke (2-3) drop WW
Another rain matchup. I prioritized knocking out Ludicolo and then used Kangaskhan/Kartana to do as much damage as possible. I brought Landorus to this match to sweep Tapu Koko and Mawile in the end game, making sure to save it until after Ludicolo and Politoed were gone. Both games played out similarly.
Round 5: Karl Concepcion (3-4) WW
Seriously, yet another rain matchup! This one was a little trickier because of the Tapu Bulu’s Grassy Terrain. I knew that Heatran’s utility would be limited by rain and Landorus wouldn’t be able to hit Mawile as hard with Earthquake, leaving me with no good way to hit Mawile for super effective damage. Game 1 played out like all of the other Politoed Ludicolo leads, and at that point, Tapu Fini was able to hit Mawile with Choice Specs Muddy Water in the rain for about 75% which made up for the lack of Landorus.
Round 6: Logan Mazur (5-2) WW
When I saw Logan’s team I was extremely concerned. Mega Blaziken is one of the few Pokémon that can OHKO Kangaskhan and it’s Speed Boost ability makes my Tailwind less effective. I knew Tapu Fini would be great in this matchup if I could eliminate Kartana. However, my biggest concern was his Smeargle, which could have any move or item to catch me off guard. I lead in a way that respected both his Trick Room Tailwind modes, leading both games with Kangaskhan/Landorus and Heatran/Tapu Fini in the back. In hindsight, Kangaskhan/Heatran would also have been good to Fake Out and Roar away potential Trick Room.
Round 7: Emily Golub (5-2) WW
Volcarona/Tapu Lele/Kartana/Tapu Fini/Tyranitar-M/Excadrill
These matches were streamed, so I would definitely recommend watching the replay. I’ll try to cover the major details:
Game 1: I led Kangaskhan/Kartana figuring this the best lead against both her sand mode and the rest of her team. Emily leads Tapu Lele/Volcarona, which made me think she abandoned the idea of bringing her sand mode, likely making her other Pokémon Kartana and Tapu Fini. I decided to set up Tailwind with Kartana and Double Edge into Volcarona despite the likelihood of Kangaskhan getting burned. I knew that Volcarona would get knock out, even if the first hit triggered Flame Body, so I decided it was a risk worth taking. I figured Tapu Lele would either protect or switch out and Volcarona would try to eliminate Kartana which threatened her Tapu Fini. That read single-handedly won me the game since I KO’d Volcarona and set up Tailwind for free. After turn 1 I used my Tailwind turns to Hulk Smash through the rest of her team with Kangaskhan and friends.
Game 2: I bring the same lead, but this time Emily switches her lead to Volcarona/Kartana. Predicting Tapu Lele to switch in for Volcarona, I Double-Edge into slot for the OHKO as Lele comes in while both our Kartana match Tailwinds. At one point, Landorus and Heatran are on the field where she has Kartana with Focus Sash intact (which had just used Detect) and Tapu Fini. Wanting to knock out either Kartana or a Volcarona switch in, I click Heat Wave and Rockslide. Rock Slide missed allowing Kartana to survive the Heat Wave and set up a second Tailwind. I did get to flinch Tapu Fini a couple of times, so I couldn’t really complain. Eventually, the game gets down to Tapu Fini and Volcarona in Tailwind with my Landorus and Heatran and Kartana in the back. I expected the Volcarona to be Z-Fire, so I switched in Kartana to sack for Landorus, and it went down to a Bug Buzz as Fini Moonblasted Heatran. The next turn Landorus was able to survive a Bug Buzz/Moonblast combination and KO Volcarona with Rock Slide. A muddy water connecting KO’ing Landorus plus an accuracy drop onto Heatran would have lost me the game, but Emily told me she was worried about missing Landorus.
After the match was over, I realized that I had my first Regional Top Cut and I was elated. However, at the same moment I had made a mistake on my team sheet and, after the stream interview, rushed over to the judges to see if I could do anything about it. Unfortunately, it was little too late at that point and the judges had to give me a Top 8 Game 1 loss and disqualify my Kangaskhan. I know that team sheets are a major point of contention in the VGC community, but I want to reiterate that I was not mad at all about the penalty. Of course, I was majorly disappointed, but it was entirely my mistake and I had to own up to it and make the best of the situation. I spoke that night with my friends Bernard Herron, Paul Chua, and Nicholas Borghi who gave me some advice on how to approach the matchup without Kangaskhan, and I decided on a game plan for Top Cut.
Top 8: Dylan Salvanera (9-1) L
I knew going into this match that I was at a monumental disadvantage. Having a Game 1 loss meant that I had to win both games with zero opportunity to scout for information. I had decided the night before that Dylan would likely lead Gengar and Tapu Fini(which he did), and I planned to lead Landorus Cresselia. Turn 1 I expect Gengar to Mega-Evolve and Protect to scout while Tapu Fini threw up a Muddy Water to put Landorus in range for Gengar to KO it next turn. I predict this correctly and Knock off into his Tapu Fini and Calm Mind with Cresselia so I could threaten a OHKO onto Gengar the next turn.
However, the Tapu Fini never lost an item, telling me it was Waterium Z, at which point I realized I had no good way to protect my Landorus from a hydro Vortex. Turn 2, I Earthquake and Psychic into Tapu Fini hoping to pick up the knock out, but Fini survives and obliterates my Landorus with a Hydro Vortex. At this point it was an even harder uphill battle than before, and later when his Snorlax revealed Earthquake while I only had Heatran left, I realized my tournament run was over and forfeit the match.
Overall, I was thrilled with how the team performed. Opponents were completely unprepared for the damage output and board presence that Kangaskhan provided. Moving forward I think this team will still be viable, even as people prepare for Kangaskhan. She’s one of those Pokémon you can’t write off. Give Big Mama a chance if you haven’t already!
Huge shout out to Toki, whose team was so well balanced I was able to Top 8 a Regional without any practice.
Another huge shout out to Hibiki, for translating Toki’s team report. If you want insight into the Japanese metagame, I highly suggest you check out Hibiki’s Patreon where he posts English translations of popular Japanese team reports.
Finally I’d like to thank all of the people who supported me throughout the tournament:
- Paul Chua and Nicholas Borghi for helping me prepare for Top Cut and always offering me help.
- HUGE thanks to Jen Badamo, the best Tournament Organizer in this or any other parallel dimension. This community owes you so much.
- Special thanks to my hotel roomie and oldest Pokémon friend Bernard Herron. You’ve been there since day 1 and you were the first person there when I made cut.