Hey everyone! I’m Leonardo Bonanomi, a VGC player from Italy, and I’m here to present you with a report on the team that I used to reach Top 8 at the Malmö Regional.
To give a quick rundown on myself: I’ve always played Pokémon, but I only became interested in VGC after watching the 2016 World Championships. That event impressed me a lot, and the coinciding release of Sun and Moon motivated me to compete in the 2017 season.
For the first part of VGC17, I only went to local events. In the second half, I did well at the Special Events in Lyon and in Milan, managing to snatch up an unexpected invitation to the World Championships in Anaheim. During the following season, I got my second Worlds invite fairly quickly, and made an attempt at getting the Day 2 invite. However, due to some poor performances in the latter part of VGC18, I didn’t succeed.
In VGC19, I got my third invite, and I finally managed to participate in Day 2 of the World Championships after making it through Day 1.
The base of this team was created in Season 1.
In January, after the Bochum Regional, I lost to David Koutesh’s team. After trying it myself, I noticed three things that stood out about it:
It was a fairly “brainless” thing to do, but I noticed that many opponents could not fight back against both. With a Hypnosis hit (especially on the opponent’s Dynamax Pokémon), you could get a great advantage that led to quick victories. However, Hypnosis’ 60% accuracy made it very inconsistent, and Gothitelle’s slow Speed did not help, as it meant opponents could simply use Max Starfall or Max Lightning to avoid being put to Sleep.
On the same weekend, a friend of mine, Francesco Pero, won an MSS in Naples using a rather different team that revolved around Eldegoss. Eldegoss could put pressure on the opponent with Endure + Cotton Down to lower the Speed of the opposing Pokémon and then put them to Sleep, while its partner (Dragapult or Excadrill) is free to dish out damage. Thinking about it, however, I saw Eldegoss as good, but with shortcomings on the offensive side. Cotton Down also had a con, as it decreased the Speed of my Pokémon.
I recalled that, before Bochum, my friend Davide Carrer had tried a team with Roserade. It hadn’t done bad in testing, but we left it almost immediately due to lack of time before the Regional. Thinking some more about it, Roserade had everything I was looking for: fast Sleep Powder, good Special Attack with good Speed, and two great STAB options.
I talked about it with Davide, and we came up with a versatile core made up of Togekiss, Roserade, Dusclops, and Rhyperior.
We then added Conkeldurr for the matchup against Sand, and finally Vanilluxe, which gave us weather, Speed control with Icy Wind, and the option to set up Aurora Veil.
We easily reached 1900 on Showdown with this team on our first evening of testing.
On the same weekend, we participated in an MSS of 67 people in Milan, with me getting first place and Davide getting second. I went undefeated, and Davide only lost when paired with me.
During the following weeks, with the help of Enrico Genovese and Pasquale Esposito, we perfected the sets. Davide had the idea of dropping Vanilluxe for a curious Indeedee with Safety Goggles, which improved many matchups, and we achieved various successes in Italian tournaments, bringing attention to our team.
With the 3rd Season dawning upon us and with only 5 days of testing before Malmö, we were quite worried about the two new major additions to the format: Incineroar and Gigantamax Lapras.
The first change we made was to remove Indeedee to try Incineroar. Then, after talking to Enrico, we removed Conkeldurr for a very offensive, fast Rotom-Wash with Life Orb. We saw how good offensive Rotom-Wash was against both Gigantamax Lapras and Incineroar, and we were also considering the high usage of Sand in Oceania Internats.
Davide instead opted to use a WP Lapras in place of Rhyperior, putting Rock Tomb on Dusclops to activate it and keeping Conkeldurr on the team.
At first, I was not very convinced, as it was a different style of play from the previous version of the team; less hyper offensive and more balanced. Lapras had to be Dynamaxed to make a real difference, and it also overshadowed Togekiss, which was the Pokémon that used to be Dynamaxed more frequently. After testing it together for a couple of evenings, I soon changed my mind and we decided to go with the new version instead.
Togekiss @ Scope Lens
Ability: Super Luck
EVs: 220 HP / 4 Def / 116 SpA / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Air Slash
– Dazzling Gleam
– Follow Me
– Heat Wave
Scope Lens Togekiss’ 50% crit rate in combination with Focus Sash Roserade, which threatens the opposing Pokémon with Sleep, is a duo that many teams are not easily able to stop.
Before Incineroar was made legal again, it worked very well as a lead and we used it often. Now it’s a little less good, but it’ll always remain an effective way to play.
The initial spread with Togekiss was taken from David Koutesh’s report and then modified.
Roserade @ Focus Sash
Ability: Natural Cure
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Leaf Storm
– Sludge Bomb
– Sleep Powder
Seeing Roserade in team preview can exert pressure and force the opponent into bringing specific leads to avoid Sleep, making them vulnerable to different types of leads on our part.
With the arrival of Series 3 and the addition of Venusaur, we compared the two Pokémon and evaluated the pros and cons, deciding to keep Roserade.
Dusclops @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Def / 212 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Night Shade
– Trick Room
– Rock Tomb
By now, the bulk given by the combination of high defenses + Eviolite is well-known, and can be modified to survive any type of attack.
Before, we used a physically bulky Dusclops, but after struggling with the Duraludon + Whimsicott matchup and with the inclusion of Intimidate in the team, we decided to make it more specially bulky.
We also considered Brick Break, which compared to Rock Tomb doesn’t miss and lets you reset the Aurora Veil turns by using G-Max Resonance again before the Dynamax ends. However, Rock Tomb allows us to drop Lapras’ Speed by one stage to underspeed min Speed Rhyperior and one-shot it with +2 Max Geyser under Trick Room.
Trick Room is self-explanatory.
Conkeldurr @ Assault Vest
Ability: Iron Fist
EVs: 164 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 84 SpD / 20 Spe
– Drain Punch
– Mach Punch
– Ice Punch
– Thunder Punch
In the previous Series 2 team, Conkeldurr had Flame Orb and Guts. I really liked the amount of damage it did with Guts activated, and especially how effective it was against Sand cores, while also straight-up KOing the omnipresent Togekiss.
Towards the end of series 2, Davide got in touch with Nails who had been interested in the team, and after discussing it suggested we use Assault Vest. With the approach of series 3, Assault Vest could very well be the right choice as it would help the matchup against opposing Lapras, Charizard, and Sand with Sylveon, which saw use in the Oceania Internats.
We tried Assault Vest with Guts, and it satisfied us, but in some situations I missed the damage I was accustomed to from Flame Orb. An example is the KO that I had many previous times dealt on many Togekiss with the combination of Night Shade + Guts Ice Punch, which was now no longer possible. In general, no one tries to Burn Conkeldurr as they risk activating Guts, so many times we ended up with a Conkeldurr without an Ability.
Instead, we opted for Iron Fist. The damage is certainly not comparable to the previous version, but a 1.2 boost on the moves is not bad at all, and I felt the difference was enough. The moves are fairly standard, all boosted by Iron Fist: Drain Punch to recover HP and Mach Punch to finish off opponents low on HP (or, in extreme situations, activate the Weakness Policy on our own Lapras), with Ice Punch and Thunder Punch for coverage.
We thank Nails for the spread!
Incineroar @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 84 Def / 84 SpD / 84 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Throat Chop
– Fake Out
– Parting Shot
Incineroar is unique: Intimidate + Fake Out + Parting Shot are a combination of Ability and Moves only it has, and its set can vary based on necessity.
We thank Alessio Yuri Boschetto for the spread.
Having the faster Incineroar ensured we would be able to Fake Out before theirs and go for Sleep Powder on their Incineroar, guaranteeing us a Sleep turn, with the possibility of repositioning the next turn with Parting Shot and threatening the partner with another Sleep Powder.
The rest of the EVs were put into special bulk.
The Safety Goggles were an idea of Davide’s, since we noticed that Sleep Powder Venusaur could cause us problems if used next to another Incineroar.
For the moves, Flare Blitz, Fake Out, and Parting Shot are staples. We preferred Throat Chop to Darkest Lariat for the ability to stop Parting Shot from other Incineroar or even Sylveon’s Hyper Voices, since our fast Incineroar would be going first.
After two Max Airstreams, Incineroar can outspeed Pokémon like Durant / Raichu / Gengar. This was useful to me against Yuree in Round 6, allowing me to attack before his Raichu with my Incineroar and get the KO.
Lapras-Gmax @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Shell Armor
EVs: 228 HP / 60 Def / 220 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Hydro Pump
Lapras is an excellent Pokémon, with a lot of bulk given by its high HP and good defenses.
Its natural bulk is further increased by the Gigantamax and the secondary effects of its peculiar G-Max Move, making it an excellent Pokémon on which to use a Weakness Policy to increase its mediocre Special Attack stat.
It may seem trivial since it’s simple math, but it’s easy to get confused by thinking about the overview of the statistics instead of the actual figures.
The moves are standard; we chose Thunderbolt over Thunder because we didn’t like the idea of having a Lapras with two low accuracy moves, despite being aware of the difference in damage between the two Max Lightnings.
Before Malmö, we only had 4 days to test the team and focused more on understanding how to play the team well rather than analyzing individual matchups turn by turn.
For the matchups, we flow-charted the most common teams:
Lead: Togekiss Roserade
Back: Dusclops Conkeldurr
Lead: Incineroar / Dusclops
Back: Lapras / Roserade
Lead: Togekiss Dusclops
Back: Lapras and Conkeldurr / Incineroar
He told me that this was his first tournament. I win G1 by setting up Trick Room and clean-sweeping with Lapras. In G2, I led Togekiss Roserade against his non-optimal lead, and the game ends pretty quickly.
Game 1 – I am surprised that he doesn’t lead Durant but instead Torracat and Gothitelle, with Tyranitar and Sylveon in the back. Meanwhile, I lead with Togekiss Dusclops, with Incineroar and Lapras in the back. Thanks to a switch into Tyranitar followed by a self U-Turn to activate the Weakness Policy, he manages to put himself in a good position, while I Air Slash the slot where Tyranitar came in and Trick Room with Dusclops.
I manage to minimize the damage of his 3 turns of Dynamax thanks to Will-O-Wisp onto Tyranitar and Incineroar’s Intimidate, but a Rock Slide crit on Incineroar and Sylveon’s switch-in + Hyper Voice take an unexpected double kill that put me at a disadvantage.
I was able to recover up to when I Gigantamaxed my Lapras. Boosted by the Weakness Policy, I took the kill on both Sylveon and Tyranitar by setting Aurora Veil, pitting my +2 SpA Lapras in Rain against his Gothitelle and Torracat.
Here I’m thinking that I’ve surely won, but Lapras decides to miss 2 Hydro Pumps on Gothitelle, which in the meantime drops my Special Defense with Psychic, leading to my defeat.
Game 2 – we both bring the same 4. I lead the same, but he instead leads with Tyranitar Torracat. He plays better and wins, apologizing for the G1, but I didn’t take it to heart—I know that these things can happen and I wish him luck in the next few rounds.
Very interesting team, and I am especially surprised to face another Torracat. I notice that his team is quite weak to my Lapras, as all 6 of his mons are hit super-effectively by it.
Game 1 – This starts off with Whimsicott Lapras with Togekiss and Torracat in the back. The game is fairly balanced. When I think I have gotten the advantage, ready to set up Trick Room with Dusclops to close the game out with Conkeldurr, I am caught off-guard by Taunt Torracat and his Togekiss. Accompanied by his short-lived Lapras, they quickly turn the game upside down and KO my AV Conkeldurr with Hydro Pump in the Rain + Air Slash.
The good thing is that, in G1, I was able to see almost all moves on his Whimsicott and learned the Togekiss and Lapras items thanks to Frisk. I understood that I had to utilize Gigantamax Lapras better than I did in G1, possibly after he had used up his own Max.
Game 2 – He brings the same 4 and changes the lead. I kept Lapras and end up winning the game.
Game 3 – I go with the same plan as G2, but am surprised by his use of Protect Togekiss and find myself in a situation similar to that of G1. It comes down to his Conkeldurr and Dusclops at full HP against my Lapras in the Rain and Togekiss, which had taken damage. He doubles the Conkeldurr with Air Slash + Hydro Pump, and Conkeldurr survives at 9 HP. I do not hesitate and shut down Togekiss with Ice Punch while Dusclops closes out the game by setting Trick Room.
Dusclops had a lot of freedom in this game: the plan was to set up Trick Room to do big damage with Lapras at +2, and then close the match with Conkeldurr.
Round 5 vs Flavio Del Pidio WW (5-3 Top32)
I was quite displeased to see this pairing.
Me, Davide, Flavio, and the other Italians were roommates on this trip. Flavio was very interested in the team we used in series 2 and wanted to adapt it to series 3. We had explained our thoughts on the team to him and asked for his opinion. We were happy to see that some ideas corresponded to his.
In the meantime, he showed us this team with Coalossal, and I had the opportunity to see his sets. In the evening with Davide, we spent a few minutes to find a good plan in case we had to face it.
Game 1 – I lead Conkeldurr Incineroar with Dusclops and Togekiss in the back, while he leads Dragapult Coalossal with Gastrodon and Corviknight in the back. By ignoring Conkeldurr, he lets his Coalossal be KO’d, leaving Togekiss the task of cleaning up with Dazzling Gleam.
Game 2 – I stuck to my plan, but he changed leads to Venusaur Corviknight with Gastrodon and Conkeldurr in the back. The game was pretty even until two turns before the end of the Trick Room, when I took a KO on his Conkeldurr as it switched in with Night Shade + an Air Slash crit, which mattered a lot.
Two turns later, by switching Incineroar back in, I managed to take the KO on Venusaur too with Fake Out + an Air Slash crit, which sealed the game.
The first crit mattered a lot, because Conkeldurr could have survived, and I would have used an extra turn of Trick Room to finish it with Night Shade, making him avoid the mind game of Protecting Venusaur or not in the last turn.
Another Italian derby against Yuree, who uses Durant and also streams. I was fairly nervous before the game.
Seeing his team, I decide to approach the game by setting up Trick Room and taking advantage of Lapras boosted by Weakness Policy.
Game 1 – He brings Raichu Lapras as a lead with Corviknight and Dusclops in the back, and while I do not remember the way the game progressed too well, in the end, when I thought I had won the match, he revealed Perish Song on Lapras. Fortunately, I had enough rounds to KO the 2 partners his Lapras had and won by having a slower Lapras than his.
Game 2 – I decide to lead with Dusclops Roserade with Lapras and Conkeldurr in the back.
Roserade manages to put his Raichu to Sleep before being killed by Feint + Brave Bird. I set up Trick Room, switch in Lapras, and discover that his Corviknight is Gigantamax and able to remove the Aurora Veil my Lapras had set up with its G-Max move.
I ignore his Gigantamax, which did not give Dusclops and Lapras any particular problems, by continuing to inflict heavy damage on his partner Pokémon with my boosted Lapras. Conkeldurr ends the match by KOing his Raichu, who had not even taken a Sleep turn yet, and also KOs Corviknight shortly after with Mach Punch.
This was the worst pairing that could happen to me at this point in the tournament.
I was a little sorry that us facing each other had to happen in a last round clash, but we console ourselves thinking that one of the two would have broken anyway and the other would certainly have made Top16 with a small chance to enter Top8 with the X-2.
This was a full mirror, never tried and theorized before, all improvised.
Game 1 – We both lead with Roserade Incineroar, but bringing different Pokémon in the back. I chose Lapras and Dusclops while he brought Dusclops and Conkeldurr.
After an emotionless turn 1, he plays cunning and preserves his Roserade, while I leave mine in to take a Flare Blitz. This decision pays off for him later in the game.
Meanwhile, I manage to set up Trick Room and boost Lapras, but Davide manages to contain the damage and once the Trick Room is over his Roserade + Dynamax Conkeldurr close out the G1 in his favor.
Game 2 – I decide to lead Roserade Incineroar again, but bring Togekiss and Conkeldurr in the back, trying to imitate his G1 plan while preserving Roserade and deciding who to Dynamax between Togekiss and Conkledurr as needed.
As the game starts, I see a Togekiss Incineroar lead and realize that I have no switch-in into a Max Airstream crit. I tell myself it’s over. So I decide to make the only move possible: win the Fake Out tie vs his Incineroar and Sleep Powder his Togekiss. Fortunately, both things work out in my favor, and I also get a 3 turn Sleep on his Dynamax Togekiss, which gives me a huge advantage and lets me win the G2.
Game 3 – We both decide to change plans.
We go for the G2 leads, but inverted: this time, I bring Togekiss Incineroar and he brings Incineroar Roserade.
We play the turn 1 the same way. I lose the Fake Out Speed tie, but his Roserade whiffs Sleep Powder on my Togekiss, which lets me bring it to Sash.
Turn 2, I stop his Incineroar’s Parting Shot with Throat Chop and KO Roserade. Despite the advantage I got in the first 2 rounds, Davide manages to recover by Dynamaxing his Togekiss.
Once again, I get lucky. His Togekiss never crits mine, which could have overturned the outcome of the match, and Roserade and Conkeldurr ended this infamous Bo3.
I decided to play this game with the standard plan against Sand, trying to remove Togekiss as soon as possible to make room for Conkeldurr later on.
Game 1 – I lead Togekiss Roserade with Dusclops Conkeldurr in the back, while he leads Togekiss Arcanine with Tyranitar and Rotom in the back.
Concerned about Sleep, he uses Safeguard with Arcanine and Dynamaxes his Togekiss, which I learn is faster than mine. I double up into the Togekiss slot with Sludge Bomb + a Max Airstream crit, which puts his Togekiss in range of another Sludge Bomb. The next round, he takes the KO onto Roserade while I take the KO onto his Togekiss with another Max Airstream crit.
From there, the game goes downhill and Conkeldurr takes care of the rest.
Game 2 – I bring the same lead, while Alexandre leads with Tsareena Tyranitar and brings Excadrill Togekiss in the back.
I use Max Airstream to get rid of Tseerena and Sleep Tyranitar immediately, but he Protects Tyranitar and I am surprised by the Coba Berry held by his Tsareena. It takes Togekiss’ crit Max Airstream, and U-Turns onto Roserade dealing about 40% as he switches in Excadrill in Sand, putting me at a strong disadvantage.
I try to play it out, but I’m always behind and lose to the Scope Lens Togekiss he has in the back.
Game 3 – I decide to stick to my plan.
Even after losing the G2 badly, I think I could have avoided the bad situation in Round 1 by Max Flaring the Tsareena slot while trying to Sleep the Tyranitar. Even if Tsareena survived, I would still have had the weather advantage, allowing Roserade to go for another Sleep Powder on the following turn.
Alexandre changes his plans again by leading Arcanine Tyranitar. Seeing that lead, I decide to switch out Roserade for Conkeldurr and Dynamax Togekiss to get Conkeldurr’s Speed up and attack Arcanine. He goes for Snarl, Togekiss avoids it and crits Arcanine, KOing him. My Conkeldurr’s Speed is raised, while his Dynamaxed Tyranitar hits Togekiss with Max Rockfall.
The next round, Togekiss comes in, and I’m starting to think it’s the key turn of the game. I knew that Togekiss had no Protect, and I had seen it was a Scope Lens variant faster than mine, but having my Togekiss and Conkeldurr on the field at +1 Speed and having taken only one turn of Sand damage, I thought that doubling his Togekiss with Max Airstream + Ice Punch would be a good move to cover many scenarios.
Even if his Togekiss had been Max Speed, without a crit, he would never be able to KO Conkeldurr, and with the crit, I would probably still be able to survive the subsequent Sand chip and then recover my HP with Drain Punch.
Animations start. I attack with Togekiss, doing about 60%, and then his Togekiss turns out to be Timid Max Speed and attacks before Conkeldurr.
An Air Slash crit leaves me at 9 HP (calculating later, I found out that was the second-highest roll), followed by a flinch, while Tyranitar finishes my Togekiss with Max Rockfall and the Sand at the end of the turn KOs my Conkeldurr as well.
I am stunned and I understand that it is over. Going from a near-victory position to losing both of my Pokémon in one turn hurts. I try to play hoping that he doesn’t have Excadrill in the back. Dusclops and Roserade come in. Dusclops survives Max Darkness and Burns Tyranitar with Will-O-Wisp while Roserade Protects itself from Togekiss’ Air Slash. The next turn, I knock out his Togekiss while he knocks out my Dusclops and I just wait for Excadrill to switch in so I can forfeit.
When I see that he sends Rotom-Wash onto the field instead, my hope is rekindled. Roserade had taken only 2 rounds of Sand damage, and Tyranitar’s Crunch when Burned could be a 3HKO, and Roserade could handle it even after the Leaf Storm SpA drop. I would have knocked him out with the combination of 4 rounds of Burn + Sludge Bomb + Leaf Storm. So, I decide to use Leaf Storm on Rotom and hope it doesn’t Protect. It doesn’t Protect, but Roserade misses the Leaf Storm and condemns me to defeat.
My run, sadly, ends here. I get quite unnerved, wish him good luck anyway, and I leave to calm down a bit.
Looking back on what happened later, I think that on the second turn of G3 I didn’t make the worst play, but there could have been decidedly more safe moves, which would have led me to different scenarios and, maybe, to victory.
However, I am not complaining. These things happen. I was also lucky in situations that required it, like in round 6 and round 8.
Overall, I am satisfied with my run and how the team worked in mine and Davide’s hands.
First of all, thanks to my partner Davide Carrer, with whom I have been cooperating with for almost 4 years; a cooperation that has led to success on both sides.
Thanks to Enrico Genovese and Pasquale Esposito for having developed and tested the team with us and all those who have contacted us since series 1, with whom we have exchanged ideas and opinions.
Thanks also to Trainer Tower for giving me the opportunity to write this report.