Sorry – A Shedinja Team Apology aka Team Report

Hello. My name is Ben Grissmer, also known as Chef. I started playing VGC in 2017. If you know me, you know I mostly stick to using the best two weathers in the game: Sand and Hail. My notable finishes have been using one or the other, including:

  • 11th (6-2) Memphis Regionals 2017 with Vanilluxe/Sandslash,
  • 22nd (6-2) Charlotte Regionals 2018 with Mega Tyranitar,
  • Day 2 (35th) at NAIC 2017 with Stoutland Sand, and
  • Day 2 (23rd) at NAIC 2018 with Mega Abomasnow.

Unfortunately, those options are not super viable in Ultra Series. So, I turned to the best Pokémon in the format – Primal Gro Shedinja.

For this report, I feel the description of the teambuilding process and the Pokémon themselves are more interesting, so I will spend more time discussing those, rather than the tournament runs.

Team’s Achievements

  • 3rd – Bristol Regionals
  • 19th – North American Internationals
  • 39th – European Internationals

Team Building

/ / / / / ( / / )

The team is obviously a little strange, so I think it will be most interesting if I spend most of the report explaining its evolution.

The origin of the team dates back all the way to Moon series. After playing Cannes Special Event Champion Aurelien Forest and his dreaded Shedinja/Ditto team at French locals, I knew I wanted to try out Sheddy myself. I remembered the move Soak, and realized that not many Pokemon are able to hit Shedinja (both normal form and wet form). So, I threw a team together:

/ / / / /

Clearly I went all in on the Soak aspect. I thought the team could combine the Soak Shedinja option with a Hyper Offense strategy, similar to the famous “Soak-PG” team in 2017. A key to making this possible was having Tapu Fini hold a Choice Scarf, right from the beginning.

I was having more decent success on ladder than I expected, but most of all it was super fun to play. I was hooked – addicted to the feeling of getting cursed at in different languages after clicking the game-winning Soak. Unfortunately, I was not brave enough to bring it to my final local of Moon series, and figured that was that.

However, about two weeks before Ultra series was set to start, I realized the now obvious fact that this idea could be transferred to Ultra series. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it would be better in Ultra series. There would be way fewer threats to wet form Shedinja. Kyogre would trade in their Scarves for Orbs, and most would no longer carry Thunder. With no more threat of ScarfOgre, as well as Groudon and Rayquaza becoming much stronger, Grass types would be few in number compared to their abundance in Moon.

I literally could not sleep that night. I went over the Day 2 teams from Worlds 2016, and confirmed that Electric and Grass types were rare, maybe averaging one per team. Then, I went through all of the replays from Ultra Series NPA matches, and took down the data. With a sample of around 100 teams, I found that teams had, on average, only 1.14 ways to hit wet Shedinja (including things like Lunala and Celesteela). I gleefully told my friends the news, and at that moment I knew I was going to bring Soak Shedinja to the European Internationals. I tried to keep it as quiet as possible, because I thought it would have the best success if no one was prepared for it (lol).

The adaptations from the Moon series version were pretty clear: Primal Groudon would take the place of Ho-Oh, perfect for the role of getting rid of Electric or Grass threats. Mega Sceptile would replace Raichu as the Lightning Rod user, as well as having great synergy with Scarf Soak Tapu Fini.

/ / / / /

The first problem that became apparent immediately was that Mega Sceptile and Tapu Fini were not working out together, mostly because Fake Out completely ruins the strategy. Because of this, I was finding Grassium Tsareena to be the better lead option. So, I searched for a replacement Mega. The only Pokemon with Fake Out and a base Speed over 130 is Mega Lopunny, so it made a lot of sense to use it. In addition, I already had Swagger on my Scarf Tapu Fini for Groudon, Zekrom, and Tsareena, so it had that synergy as well.

/ / / / /

I quickly fell in love with Lopunny (not in the weird way) and it became my go-to lead option. At this point, I was pretty happy with the team, and I was having quite a bit of success near the top of the ladder. However, there were still major issues. While it had its moments, being slow and vulnerable to powerhouses like Primal Groudon, Mega Salamence, and Rayquaza hindered Tsareena, and I was almost never bringing it. In addition, while Zekrom made matchups against RayOgre and YvelOgre basically autowins, it didn’t really have a role against any team with Groudon or Xerneas. Against a lot of archetypes, I was relying too much on people not being able to stop Shedinja.

Even more worrying was that the “secret” was out on Soak Shedinja. More and more people were trying it out on the ladder, and Twitter was full of memes about it. Fewer and fewer teams did not have a Shedinja counter, so I knew if I hoped to have any success at a big event, I had to make changes.

First, Zekrom had to go. This was hard to do because it made some matchups so good and was fun to use, but I did not let that stop me. I considered Lunala, but Yveltal ended up making the most sense. It is amazing against Lunala and Necrozma (both of which threaten Shedinja, Soaked or not), keeps the Tailwind option Zekrom had, and threatened Groudon with its special Z-Move. This was, in my opinion, the key decision for the team that made any success possible. Yveltal was hugely important in Berlin, Bristol, and Columbus.

Second, I got rid of Tsareena for something more useful. For a while I considered Tapu Koko in that slot, but it wasn’t very good. Eventually I landed on Celesteela, which basically walls most XRay and UltraNec/Xern teams, both of which could be troublesome matchups.

/ / / / /

With that, I had the team I would bring to EUIC. It was by far the best version, and I was fairly confident that I could prove that wet form Shedinja was more than just a meme.

After a pretty good but slightly disappointing Internationals, I decided I would attend Bristol Regionals to give the team one more shot. To prepare, I went to the local Paris PC the weekend after Berlin and weekend before Bristol. This highlighted a weakness of my team which I was already aware of: I played against 4 XernDon in 4 rounds, and ended 2-2. Not the result I was looking for going into Regionals. So, the night before Bristol, I changed Celesteela to Nihilego, sacrificing my advantage in a few matchups for a more even XernDon matchup. In hindsight, this was a bad decision, as XRay was much more popular than XernDon at the moment. Either way, the team I brought to Bristol was

/ / / / /

After Bristol, I thought I would build a completely new team to bring to NAIC. Very quickly I realized that nothing spoke to me quite like Lopunny and Shedinja did, so I returned to the team. But, I wasn’t happy with either Celesteela or Nihilego. Somehow, I had overlooked the perfect Pokemon who could give me the stronger matchup against both XernDon and XRay that I was looking for: Naganadel. With that, I had what I consider the best version of the team, and the one that brought me to 19th in Columbus.

/ / / / /

The Team

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Yveltal @ Darkinium Z
Ability: Dark Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 28 HP / 4 Def / 188 SpA / 36 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dark Pulse
– Oblivion Wing
– Tailwind
– Protect

Yveltal was a late addition to the team, but still extremely important. It has a great matchup against both Lunala and Necrozma, both of which can always hit Shedinja. With the Dark Z-Move, it hits everything extremely hard. I opted for a full special set because I already had 4 physical attackers, and I wanted Oblivion Wing to help with problematic Grass types. The EVs are a standard offensive spread, with enough bulk to take a modest Tapu Lele Moonblast.

Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Swords Dance
– Protect

Primal Groudon is clearly one of the best Pokemon in the format and is the big boy damage-dealer on the team. Max Speed was important to have stronger options against Kyogre and other Groudon. In Berlin I used a bulkier set with no Attack investment, but for Bristol I decided hitting hard was more important for an offensive team like this, and it worked out.

Lockpin (Lopunny-Mega) @ Lopunnite
Ability: Limber
Level: 50
EVs: 36 HP / 252 Atk / 220 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Fake Out
– High Jump Kick
– Giga Impact
– Ice Punch

A few things stand out on this Lopunny. First, I opted for Giga Impact as my Normal-type STAB (a move I used on Stoutland on my Day 2 NAIC team in 2017). Giga Impact picked up important KOs with support from Tapu Fini, including Mega Gengar, Mega Rayquaza, and Xerneas. While the recharge turn meant Lopunny was usually going to go down as well, this team thrives on making trades to set up the endgame for Shedinja. I also went with Ice Punch instead of one of Lopuny’s many support moves for some big damage on Mega Salamence and Landorus-T. Second, looking at the spread, you’ll notice it is not max Speed. It has just enough speed to hit 201 and outspeed base 130s like Tapu Koko and Mega Gengar. This allowed me to make my Scarf Tapu Fini hit 202 speed, and have as many EVs as possible for bulk, which I will justify later. I felt this extra bulk was more important than Speed tying other base 135 Pokemon. I ended up losing in Top 4 of Bristol to the Lopunny mirror, but at the time Lopunny was not as popular as it is getting now, so I still think it was the right decision.

Tokopisco (Tapu Fini) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 196 HP / 76 SpD / 236 Spe
Careful Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Soak
– Swagger
– Nature’s Madness
– Icy Wind

Choice Scarf Tapu Fini is wonderful for Shedinja teams, being able to outspeed and get off a Soak before getting taunted by something like a Crobat or getting double targeted by two fast Pokémon. In addition, it functions well with Lopunny, putting many Pokemon in KO range with Nature’s Madness. Swagger was an obvious inclusion, having 3 possible targets, including Shedinja. For the final move, I originally had Trick, but I found Icy Wind was more useful more often. The spread gives it enough Speed to barely outspeed Lopunny, while having bulk that lets it survive a +2 Moonblast from Xerneas as often as possible. This was extremely important, because it was often required to get the game-winning Soak off.

Munja (Shedinja) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Wonder Guard
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Lonely Nature
IVs: 0 HP / 0 Def / 0 SpA / 0 SpD
– Shadow Claw
– Shadow Sneak
– Toxic
– Protect

Now onto the hero of the team, and everyone’s favorite Pokemon – Shedinja. Its role was to sit and stall out games when its threats were gone, but it also did decent damage with Shadow Claw and picked things off with Shadow Sneak. Most importantly, Claw + Sneak is a KO on Lunala, and I feel both are necessary. The third slot was originally Ally Switch, but Toxic was important to avoid losing endgames to round timer and Normal types. Furthermore, people will still try to predict the nonexistent Ally Switch, so you still get that benefit. Lonely Nature and Minimum IVs are important against Ditto and Smeargle transforming.

Bamboiselle (Celesteela) @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 36 Atk / 4 Def / 172 SpD / 84 Spe
Careful Nature
– Heavy Slam
– Iron Defense
– Leech Seed
– Protect

Because I was mostly happy with the main 5 members, this last slot was available to patch some matchups. Celesteela functioned as an alternative option against teams like XRay and Xern/Necrozma. Often, the only real way to hit Celesteela these teams had was Incineroar. So, I made the set solely focused on stalling, putting on Iron Defense. The spread survives Incineroar Flare Blitz and two +2 Xerneas Moonblasts. Celesteela is usually a benchwarmer, but when it comes, it steals games.

Zéroïd (Nihilego) @ Poisonium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Power Gem
– Clear Smog
– Protect

As I said before, Nihilego was a last second decision I made in order to patch up a weak XernDon matchup. I only tested a few games with it the night before, but I decided to go with Poisonium Z over the more popular Rockium Z because I figured my real problem with those teams was the Xerneas, and being able to one-shot it was helpful. In hindsight, Celesteela would have been the better call for the meta at the time, but it worked out.

Mandrillon (Naganadel) @ Poisonium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Draco Meteor
– Flamethrower
– Protect

Leading up to NAIC, I realized using this team again was my best bet, but I wasn’t happy with either Celesteela or Nihilego. Somehow, I had overlooked the perfect Pokemon who could give me the stronger matchup against both XernDon and XRay that I was looking for: Naganadel. I stuck with Poisonium Z in order to have OHKO pressure on Xerneas. I bounced back and forth between Tailwind and Flamethrower on the final slot, but went with the Fire move in order to better cover Ferrothorn, and because I already had a Tailwind option.

Common Leads

1. /

This was my most common lead. Having the fastest Fake Out in the game allows for maneuverability and a strong matchup against common Incineroar leads. Then, the two have great synergy, with Tapu Fini able to use Nature’s Madness or Swagger and a Lopunny attack to take an early KO. Even trading KOs with this lead is helpful for setting up a Shedinja engame.

2. /

In certain matchups, Yveltal is necessary and Soak/Tapu Fini is unhelpful. This is most often against Lunala or Necrozma teams. In these cases, this is a strong lead, with Fake Out pressure paired with Dark Z and Tailwind options.

However, choosing leads and the four Pokémon to bring in general is very fluid, and depends on the opponent’s entire team. I brought all combinations at some point, including no restricted.

Team Matchups

Team matchups for this team are a bit different than for standard Ultra Series teams, so I’m going to approach this section a bit differently.

The matchups are dictated by two things – YvelDon’s matchup and Shedinja’s matchup.

For certain matchups, your restricted put you at an immediate advantage. For example, against:

  • /
  •   /
  • /

But, even in what would be neutral or negative matchups, Shedinja can turn it in your favor. For example:

  • /

Usually don’t have many ways to hit a normal Shedinja, and Rayquaza has to lower its defenses to do so, so Shedinja hits it back fairly hard.

Also, a

  • /

Team might not have any way to deal with a Soak Shedinja, turning what could be a rough matchup into one that is hard to lose.

Determining Shedinja matchup in team preview:

1. How many opposing Pokemon can hit regular Shedinja?
Usually this number is pretty high, around 4/5. However, it can get as low as 2.

2. How many Pokemon can hit Soak’d Shedinja?
This number is usually between 0-2. If zero, treat Soaking as the main wincon. If one, Soaking can’t be the main wincon, but bringing it as an option could be useful. If two or more, its probably best to win in another way.

(note) One great thing is that, usually, the Pokémon that can hit normal Shedinja and the ones that can hit Soak’d Shedinja do not overlap. This means if your opponent is prepping too hard for Soak by bringing those Pokemon, they might end up vulnerable to normal Shedinja.

3. Other problematic Pokémon.

  1. Redirectors
    / / / Always be aware the ways your opponent could have to redirect, as it makes a Soak play much harder to pull off.
  2. Transformers
    / The last thing you want is to set up the Soak endgame and have a Smeargle come in, Transform, and use your own Toxic against you.
  3. Gusters
    / / etc. With Xerneas so prevalent, always be on the lookout for things that can carry Roar, and make safe plays to guarantee a win if it is possible. But sometimes you just gotta hope they don’t.
  4. Perish Singers
    Normal Shedinja is actually decent here, hitting Gengar hard and being able to escape Shadow Tag, but Perish Song stops you from trying to set up any Shedinja endgame.
  5. Shedinja Killers
    / Iron Barbs and Leech Seed are about as good a Shedinja matchup as you can get. It’s usually best to let Sheddy take a break against these threats. However, especially in BO3 sets, it can be an adjustment your opponent does not expect. I won my Top 8 set in Bristol by bringing a previously unused Shedinja in game 3 against Celesteela, which was not brought that game.

Rundown of Tournament

You can check out how I play the team in my NAIC stream matches:
Round 4 at 4:05:00
Round 8 at 8:04:00
https://www.twitch.tv/videos/442149558

Conclusion

Of course, I wish I could’ve gone further in NAIC, EUIC, or won the Regional, but overall, I was super happy with this team and my performance during Ultra series. I ended with a 22-9 record over three major tournaments, and my schedules of opponents were all extremely difficult by any standard. I was especially excited to finally get my first Regionals top cut and first brick, and to get on the official stream at NAIC.

Looking to the future, I’m extremely excited for another Regional Dex format, and I hope to build on my successes both this year and in previous years and truly become a strong force in VGC20

Finally I’d like to thank my friends Daniel Thorpe (TTT) and Brandon Wright (BrightSize) for helping me with my crazy teambuilding ideas as usual. I’d also like to thank the entire French community for welcoming me during my time in France and Europe events, as well as Fevzi, Joe, Sohaib, and the YRN house for making the trip to Columbus so enjoyable.

“Shedinja is a bug”
– Melvin Keh

Thanks for reading!

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