Welcome back everyone, it's Daniel Oztekin here, and this time on a different platform! Sadly since Nugget Bridge got hacked, my blog posts from the past year got wiped out. However I have taken the time to copy over the reports that meant the most to me, my Liverpool Top 8 Finish, using Ditto and Sneasel and Yveltal, Rai-choose you!, my Top 16 UK Nationals report.
If you enjoy my report, you might want to check me out and follow me on twitter here!
London to Leiden! A Summary of my weekend road trip.
Last Saturday I set off from London to Leiden to take part in the Dutch Open, a special even that counts as a regional slot towards qualifying for the Pokemon World Championship, along with MSK who was driving his son to the event and compete himself, staying up for 48 hours! It was quite a mental and very fun road trip, and was a bit scary as it was the first time I travelled abroad for Championship Points.
The journey was pretty dark and gloomy as we set off at 9pm Friday, and arrived at 8am Saturday. It started snowing halfway through our journey, so we were pretty freaked that we might get stuck in Belgium! By the time we travelled back the snow had melted though. Leiden was a very pretty city with cute dainty houses, and with everything being covered with a thin layer of snow made it very beautiful.
Upon arriving, I scouted out the field a little. Quite a few players turned up from the UK, to note my good friend Rafik who placed Top 4 with me and Jamie Miller who built the team. Vanlilluxe is one hell of a good Pokemon, so watch for it increase in usage in the future.
Prior to the event, I consistently placed high on the Battle Spot and Pokemon Showdown ladders, peaking at 1870 on Battle Spot and 1760 on Pokemon Showdown. In the end we played 6 rounds of swiss, with me finishing 5-1 and finishing 2nd in swiss with a solid resistance. I had a mostly solid run in swiss, with some really good luck in the last round not even giving my opponent a chance to play. Thankfully, I would have still cut with my resistance. In the end, I won my Top 8 match in an intense Rain vs Sun match, to be knocked out by my good friend 000aj in Top 4.
The organisers did an amazing job at the event. It ran really smoothly and was finished around 5pm! I really enjoyed myself and would love to attend next year.
Unfortunately, the London International was a little bit of a disaster: I was really ill during day 1 of swiss, so performed terribly, not even obtaining any Championship Points. However during the second day I felt much better and I placed second in a 178 player Mid Season Showdown, restoring my confidence in the team I built and myself. Although frustrated at the main event, we all have to accept we will have our bad days and move on. If you're interested, I used a team of Kartana/Talonflame/Marowak/Krookodile/Tapu Lele/Milotic.
Following this, I avoided playing for a little while, before taking a shine to the play-styles Tobias and Wolfe had in London with Tapu Bulu and how their team's somewhat revolved around it defensively. From this, I started building a defensive team, based around Tapu Bulu. I decided a weather setter was a necessity and chose Torkoal due to it's sheer firepower and the synergy it has with Grassy Terrain support. As Torkoal is the 2nd slowest Pokemon in the game I chose Porygon2 as my trick room setter as it is by far the best Trick Room setter this format and acts as glue for many teams. Whilst I hadn't solidified my trick room mode, I added Lilligant to give my team a fast mode to prevent my opponents from Auto-piloting versus my trick room mode, force rigid leads from opponents and often win on team preview. I also consider ground types to be extremely powerful this format, so chose Mudsdale as it is extremely bulky, slow and hits really hard with Heavy Slam and High Horsepower, working well inside Grassy Terrain. Finally, my team had some problems will toxic-stall teams, and a lot of the things that wall this team could be broken down with Toxic, so I chose Tentacruel as my final Pokemon, as hits Toxic all the time, can't be poisoned, and gives my team a second leftovers.
The Team in detail
A note about my EV spreads: I didn't use defensive benchmarks in my team building. Instead, I tried to make my team as defensively efficient as I could with the EVs. I also made very small tweaks when playing on PS with Pokemon such as Porygon2 until they lived what I wanted, resulting in these spreads.
Tapu Bulu @ Kebia Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 76 Atk / 60 Def / 92 SpD / 36 Spe
- Horn Leech
- Leech Seed
This is simply the move set that Wolfe used, with my own personal tweaks. The moveset allows Bulu to survive a long time and chip at opponents, whilst self healing. Tapu Bulu hits a HP stat of 176; I optimised most Pokemon on my team to have a HP stat divisible by 16, to optimise leftovers and grassy terrain recovery. I bumped up the attack EVs to 76 to reach the point that the Attack stat jumps 2 points, added speed creep and took the EVs out of Special Defence as I saw more use in them elsewhere. I didn't change the Defence stat because I didn't know what it did!
Wolfe used Lum berry Tapu Bulu, which I wasn't very keen on, and I considered leftovers and a few items that the rest of my team really needed. I ended up settling on Kebia Berry which is so so good! It comes into play most games, with many Pokemon choosing to opt for Poison Jab as their third move. One of my favourite leads is Porygon2 and Tapu Bulu into Tapu Koko and Garchomp, which would usually be a bad lead, but is completely reversed with the Kebia Berry.
Torkoal @ Firium Z
EVs: 244 HP / 252 SpA / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
- Heat Wave
- Nature Power
Torkoal is the only Pokemon on my team that comes to 100% of games. In Trick Room the damage output of eruption really is terrifying. Eruption + Heat Wave together provide torkoal with reliable spread damage, allowing it plus the partner to constantly pick up KOs and punish switches. Firium Z Eruption allows Torkoal to blast off a 200 Base power Inferno Overdrive, which in the sun is insane, and allows you to work around Wide Guard. Finally, Grassy Terrain turns Nature Power into Energy Ball, which was my choice instead of Solar Beam. Despite it's lower base power, having a reliable option versus other weather teams was really important: I don't want to get stuck mid-charge! Nature Power also effectively gives Torkoal STAB moves of the other terrains. On a side note, Grassy Terrain halving Earthquake damage is very useful for preserving Torkoal.
Torkoal's EVs are pretty simple, 244 HP hits a HP stat of 176, divisible by 16 for grassy terrain. I maxed out Special Attack with 252 SpA EVs and placed the rest into Special Defence. I chose to run Relaxed Nature as not doing so with a base defence of 140 is criminally inefficient. The extra bulk results in increased Eruption damage in long games, so is definitely worth it.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 100 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- Ice Beam
- Trick Room
Porygon2 is the most solid Pokemon this format, in my opinion. It's a really good glue for teams and doesn't even need to be used on hard trick room teams to be effective. Up until now most Torkoal teams have focused on Oranguru as the Trick Room setter, and to be frank Porygon2 is better.
My move set and stat distribution is a little unusual. I ran as much defensive investment possible as getting Trick Room off was a priority for my team. The defence investment doesn't achieve anything in particular, but is a result of testing and tweaking my EV spread after grinding out battles on Pokemon Showdown. The HP stat hits 192, a number divisible by 16.
Up until the week before travelling to Leiden, I was running Tri-Attack. I had faced a few Return Porygon2 on Battle Spot, believing it to be a gimmick to take advantage of attack boosts from download, before taking a better look at it's stat distribution: A Base 102 move off an Attack stat of 100 and a Base 80 move off a Special Attack stat of 125 have the same effective damage output.
As a result, I wanted to run a mixed Porygon2 set with Ice Beam and Frustration. This meant whatever attack boost I gained would always be useful. However, it must be noted there are drawbacks to doing this. Using a Physical STAB move makes you more prone to Intimidate and Will-O-Wisp, weakening the Arcanine matchup, and you might miss the 20% chance to inflict status on the opponent.
Lilligant @ Wide Lens
EVs: 116 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 132 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Sleep Powder
- After You
- Leaf Storm
Lilligant brings me back memories of VGC2016: Simply being on the team will force your opponent to bring Pokemon to the match that can deal with it. And just to note, Lilligant isn't there to be pretty and do nothing, it's is terrifying to play against without the correct tools. First up, I opted to run Wide Lense to have access to 83% accuracy Sleep Powder and 99% Accurate Leaf Storm. 75% Accuracy is just awful, and made the Torkoal + Lilligant lead a lot more consistent, with one of the best moves usually being Sleep Powder + Eruption. After you is self explanatory, having a fast eruption can be crazy good, but in most situations may not be the best option. Honestly I click Sleep Powder more than any other move.
The EVs are simple but effective. 132 Speed EVs hit a speed of 127, allowing Lilligant to out-speed Scarf Garchomp in the Sun. I maxed the Special Attack stat to make Leaf Storm hit as hard as possible. Lilligant in combination with Tapu Bulu can be terrifying when it is viable to run. The rest of the EVs were invested into bulk. As a result Lilligant has enough bulk to make most attacks on it a 2HKO e.g. Garchomp's Poison Jab and Kartana's Smart Strike.
Honestly, with Lilligant on the team you could just lead Porygon2 + X and very likely have a great match up, as opponents may have hard countered your Lilligant mode. On top of that, This team is pretty great for best of 3 matches as you can choose either mode each game, often making games far more difficult for your opponent than yourself.
Mudsdale @ Leftovers
EVs: 132 HP / 124 Atk / 252 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
- High Horsepower
- Heavy Slam
- Rest / Toxic
I believe that Ground is the best offensive type in VGC2017. Everything is grounded to make use of terrains and ground types like Landorus have always been prominent every year. High Horsepower gives you a powerful move that isn't nerfed by Grassy Terrain, and Heavy Slam is extremely useful with the Tapus running around, still hits most targets for a neutral 120 BP.
Rest isn't necessary on the set, but Torkoal was my only answer to Celesteela on the team, and as I didn't want to bother making any major changes to the team I decided I would timer-stall Celesteela teams I faced in Leiden that KOd my Torkoal by knocking out all Pokemon except Celesteela and stalling 2 vs 1 with Mudsdale and Porygon2 until time and sudden death. This strategy won't work on Battle Spot or Pokemon Showdown. Rest can easily be replaced by Toxic, or Rototiller if you are a man enough.
Leftovers + Protect Mudsdale is really amazing, and increases it's long term use greatly. The constant healing each turn from Leftovers and Grassy Terrain plus Stamina boosts allows him to soak up hits and last way longer than it should. Mudsdale walls and provides quite a threat to many teams, so protect it carefully.
The EV spread is actually really sloppy, sadly. I chose to max Special Defence and put pretty good numbers in Attack and HP and leave it at that, which is pretty dire. As a result, High Horsepower would deal 90% to Muk, which was really dumb. It's a good idea to revise my spread a bit, as it isn't optimised. The HP stat hits a number of 192 HP, which is optimal for Leftovers and Grassy Terrain Recovery.
Tentacruel @ Black Sludge
Ability: Liquid Ooze
EVs: 164 HP / 252 Def / 20 SpA / 4 SpD / 68 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
- Scald / Knock Off
- Sludge Bomb
For the final slot of my team I wanted a Pokemon that could use Toxic and couldn't be poisoned to out-stall opposing stall teams. A Poison type Pokemon would be optimal, as it could hit 100% accurate toxic and hold the Black Sludge, giving my team an additional Leftovers. Water/Poison is a really good defensive typing, so I was originally going to use Toxapex as it also gets access to Regenerator, but it's offensive stats are low and supportive move pool isn't great, so I chose Tentacruel. Sludge Bomb allows it to one-shot opposing Tapu Bulu and heavily damage the other Tapu's, and Scald gives it dual stab. Scald should be replaced by knock off when PokeBank is released because it is far better, knocking off leftovers, eviolite, thick club, etc.
An important note: Tentacruel is often required in matches versus Goodra or Arcanine due to how much they wall the team.
The ability Liquid Ooze is a very cool ability that will damage Pokemon that Leech Seed it, most notably Celesteela. This helps out-stall these teams, reducing their options to damage Tentacruel. It also damages Pokemon that Horn Leech or Giga Drain it. Clear Body is an alternative if you want to focus on an offencive Tentacruel.
The EV spread is simple. I first invested 68 Speed EVs to hit a speed stat of 129 to outspeed Pelipper, as it can be very useful in the matchup. Then I maxed out the Defence stat and hit a HP stat of 176 to optimise Black Sludge and Grassy Terrain recovery. finally I added 4 to Special Defence and the rest to Special Attack.
Cores of the team, Lead combination & Theory
Leading either Tapu Bulu or Mudsdale are both very viable choices. I personally really enjoy leading with Tapu Bulu to cancel out the Terrain of any opposing Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. Be wary that sometimes Trick Room isn't always the best move: if the opponent carries taunt double attacking turn 1 may be best, especially with Porygon2's Download Boost. When Trick Room is up it is very likely Porygon2 has taken a battering: Make sure to take care not to lose Porygon2 in Trick Room, and recover when the opponent is attempting to outmanoeuvre your Trick Room.
Getting Torkoal in on the early turns of Trick Rooms is very good, but should be done carefully. Luckily the massive defence stat on it allows it to switch into Physical attacks with relative ease. Even if Torkoal takes large amounts of damage, access to Heat Wave and Z Inferno Overdrive give it access to high damage output moves. Mudsdale provides a safer option to switch in that actually benefits from taking hits.
If the opponent has a team that seems particularily threatening to Porygon2 or Tapu Bulu I will often lead with Mudsdale instead. This is usually if I am afraid of a Z fighting move, which is a way players counter Porygon2. In that case, switching Tapu Bulu in on the Z move is a good way to get around it. If the opponent is commiting to prevent your trick room, it might be an idea to switch to Lilligant Torkoal instead.
You can choose to lead with Tentacruel instead if needed. Against more stall-orientated teams with toxic on their movesets or Pokemon that wall the team I bring Tentacruel to ensure I win the match up. The intention here is that Grassy Terrain extends the length of the game, allowing toxic counters with Tentacruel to rack up.
I chose to Bring Torkoal Lilligant to about 1/4 of games I played, simply because the Trick Room mode of the team is far more solid. However, in a best of 3 set or versus a Lilligant Torkoal weak team, it can be very effective. The above 4 are brought the majority of the time if I choose to play this way. Sleep Powder + X move gives you more flexibility in manoeuvring into a winning position. Pokemon that commonly answer this lead such as Arcanine and Muk are hit hard by Mudsdale, or if the opponent is trying to win the weather war you can easily switch in Porygon2 and hit the switch in with a Sleep Powder or Leaf Storm. You can also opt to bring Tapu Bulu in the back to buff Leaf Storm's Power, but this is highly situational.
I've had a ton of fun building this team from scratch, and after a lot of frustration it felt really good to get something consistent going! It has earned me 80 Championship Points so far, but with no major events until March for me I will be attending Mid Season Showdowns and Premier Challenges to rack up some CP with this team and variants. I also have a pretty amazing and wacky team in the works right now I'm really excited about... but regionals are in March, so you'll have to wait until then to see it! See you!