Darmanitan’s Tactics – Team Report

Hello everyone! My name is Felix (onijivgc), a player from Hong Kong who started playing competitively in 2017. I didn’t participate in many events over the past two years, and am trying to get back into VGC this year. Thanks to the rise of online tournaments, I had a lot of opportunities to play against players from different places in the world. Therefore, I really appreciate Trainer Tower, Mt. Silver and VGCstats for hosting them every week.

Team Building


The team was built in early January. I was struggling with building for Ranked Battle Season 2, so I took a look at the top teams from Japanese players in Season 1. Interestingly, I found that the double Sand core is back up in usage after the Weakness Policy Togekiss + Mold Breaker Excadrill meta. The Grimmsnarl Duraludon core was also very common in December, and was used on fairly balanced teams. So I considered Excadrill with Sand Rush, which can outspeed the above Pokémon. With access to Swords Dance, it can KO things through Reflect and prevent an Intimidate loop. Because of the Max Move boosts to its Defense and Special Defense, it becomes really bulky, allowing it to take hits it’s weak to. I believe everyone expects the Weakness Policy to be on Tyranitar, so I swapped their items. The other members will be introduced below.

Excadrill @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Rush
EVs: 92 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 116 SpD / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Swords Dance
– Rock Slide
– Earthquake
– Iron Head

  • 252 SpA Life Orb Charizard Max Flare (140 BP) vs. 92 HP / 116 SpD Excadrill: 330-393 (83.7 – 99.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

This is a common bulky set used by Japanese players, which can take most super effective hits. By using max physical Attack, I can always KO Dynamax Dragapult with a +2 Max Move and Dragapult’s Life Orb recoil. High Speed wasn’t necessary as this set was used to counter Mold Breaker Excadrill, so it can outspeed it anyways once Sand is up. Swords Dance is pretty decent against Duraludon with Reflect support and Max Steelspike’s boosts.

Tyranitar @ Lum Berry
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 118 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 132 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Crunch
– Rock Slide
– Dragon Dance
– Superpower

A main member for Sand teams with both great offensive and defensive stats. As Tyranitar is a well-known Weakness Policy user, most people are scared to hit it with super effective hits and instead try to Burn it, so I thought that Lum Berry would be a good choice. Dragon Dance allows it to reset its Attack stat after Intimidate and raise its Speed. I used 98 Speed which outspeeds max Speed Gyarados at +1 in addition to all base 80 Speed Pokémon.

As the team doesn’t have any answers for Corvknight, Fire Punch might be better than Superpower.

Gastrodon @ Rindo berry
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 244 HP / 108 Def / 100 SpA / 52 SpD
Quiet Nature
– Recover
– Clear Smog
– Scald
– Earth Power

  • 252+ Atk Gyarados Power Whip vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Rindo Berry Gastrodon: 172-204 (79.2 – 94%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Choice Specs Torkoal Solar Beam vs. 244 HP / 52 SpD Rindo Berry Gastrodon: 186-220 (85.7 – 101.3%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

A partner who can redirect Water-type moves to help the Sand core. Dracovish and Trick Room are problems we need to consider, and Gastrodon helps in dealing with them. Clear Smog is surprisingly useful against Snorlax and Pokémon who have had their Weakness Policy activated.

Togekiss @ Babiri Berry
Ability: Serene Grace
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 100 SpD
Bold Nature
– Air Slash
– Follow Me
– Yawn
– Protect

Togekiss was chosen to be the easiest lead pairing with Excadrill. Their resistances are very different, and my opponents always need to kill Togekiss before dealing with Excadrill because of the redirection. That’s why Protect is pretty important on Togekiss, to ensure it lives as long as possible.

Yawn is a common move to drive Dynamax Pokémon away and stall Trick Room or Tailwind turns.

Normal Sprite

Darmanitan-Galar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Gorilla Tactics
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Icicle Crash
– Rock Slide
– Superpower

A Pokémon synonymous with violence, which can KO Dynamax Dragapult in one hit. Since I usually bring double Sand + Kiss brainlessly, I wanted a late game sweeper. The team has some trouble facing Rotom-Mow, so Darmanitan helps pressure it. Superpower is nice for sweeping in the Sand mirror.

Gyarados @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 140 HP / 116 Atk / 36 Def / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Protect
– Waterfall
– Bounce
– Power Whip

252 Atk Life Orb Dragapult Max Phantasm (130 BP) vs. 140 HP / 36 Def Gyarados: 157-187 (83.5 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Gyarados can be a Flying-type Intimidate supporter to switch around versus Ground types, but it also can be a secondary attacker if Excadrill is not having a good time. This Pokémon is one of the few that can hit Fire, Water, and Grass types for super effective damage, which is a common defensive core. I used 128 Speed to let it outspeed Adamant Dracovish.

Using the team

Although I wanted to write about my leads vs different teams, I realized that I was leading Excadrill Togekiss almost 80% of the time (especially in game 1 of a Bo3). I would adjust the lead if I was playing really poorly in game 1.

The lead is very good, as Excadrill can hit most of the Pokémon in the format with its Rock, Steel, and Ground coverage while also being able to Swords Dance with Togekiss’ support. The plan is to raise its Attack by using Dance and the Weakness Policy, raise its Defenses with Max Moves, and raise its Speed with Sand, so that it becomes a beast.

VS Standard Teams

Sand and Togekiss will always be the must pick, plus one more Pokémon depending on the opponent’s team. I bring Darmanitan when playing against teams with Dragons and Sand teams. I bring either Gastrodon or Gyarados against teams with Dracovish and Mudsdale.
Corvkinight is the biggest enemy for the team, against which I usually bring only one of the Sand Pokémon, Togekiss, one Water type, and Darmanitan. The only way to beat it is to fire off big Water-type attacks and Flare Blitzes before it boosts its Defense.

VS Charizard
There is a chance that my Excadrill can live Charizard’s Life Orb Heat Wave, but it will get very low, while my opponent preserves their Dynamax. So leading Gyarados would be better in this situation. We can Max Airstream into Whimsicott and switch in Tyranitar to kill it with Sand chip and get Speed boosts on both Pokémon.

VS Trick room
I don’t have a specific answer to Trick Room, but I won serveral times by ignoring the Trick Room setter and Swords Dancing in front of them. As Togekiss keeps Yawning their Pokémon, they’re forced to switch in, taking my Excadrill’s boosted Earthquake. Also, Gastrodon in the back can clean up the rest if Excadrill failed to KO them.

Lastly, I’m pleased with what the team achieved, and it was comfortable to use at the previous point in the meta. The current meta is shifting back to what it was in the beginning. Max Speed Sash Sand Rush Excadrill is rising in usage again, so it will be tough to use my slow set. The format is really enjoyable so far, and I will probably look for new ideas or do some edits of the team. Once again, thanks to Trainer Tower for inviting me to write a report. I am looking forward to be more active in the community and meet more people this year.