Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Stand Up and Take a Chance - Nationals Team Analysis

Hi there, I'm Zach Droegkamp (Zach on Nugget Bridge, Braverius on PS!) and I figured I'd share the team I used at Nationals this weekend. I ended up finishing 6-3 (53rd overall) and missing my worlds invite by 5CP when all was said and done. But even with how disappointing the actual result was, the team felt really solid and had some things on it worth looking into.

I decided I wanted to use the core of Hydreigon / Aegislash / Kangaskhan because it had a relatively good matchup versus most of the metagame. I liked Gyarados and Garchomp alongside those two for a while, but Gyarados ended up not dealing enough damage to fit with the core as Hydreigon was Haban and Garchomp wasn't really needed there, so I talked to Crow and he brought up a few good ideas, namely the Rotom-W and Machamp over those two. I liked the Rotom-W idea, but I didn't like how weak I was to Amoonguss + Pokemon and still wanted to have a check to Talonflame + Rain with that slot- will go into more detail when I get to its explanation. The Talonflame was added at the end to help deal with instant pressure and to soften up teams that were not particularly fond of the bird.

It was a little tough preparing for Nationals this time around as I planned to do most of my refining and finalizing on the Monday before, but a Derecho hit southeastern Wisconsin that night and knocked out our electricity for over 24 hours (I was staying with at my parents' house for the week). I was sort of in "well, might as well throw something on the table and see if it works mode" since I couldn't Skype or do anything at all except sit in my room in the dark and figure things out. Want to give a huge thanks to Crow and JiveTime for working on the team with me the night before I had to leave and to Lejn, Snake, Angel, Wolfe, and Gavin for letting me bounce ideas off of them / practice the week before. I wish I had a better run to show for the efforts people made to help, but rest assured it was very appreciated.

This was one of the three tournaments I felt good about how I did in this year, the other two being Houston and NorCal, so it was refreshing to get back to what I felt was playing solidly. Florida was also alright I guess, but I felt like I caught lightning in a bottle there. Even though I didn't make it to day two at Nationals, I'm pretty satisfied with how things went and I actually can say I learned a lot from this tournament.

The team:

Kangaskhan @ Kangaskhanite
Ability: Parental Bond
-Sucker Punch
-Power-Up Punch

I've been using Kangaskhan on most of my teams this year, and I don't think I need to explain it at this point. I felt like it was a consistent call for Nationals and I felt like I knew how to play it relatively well. Some people just did it better than me when I played them (and by some people I mean Greyson and JiveTime), but if I made better plays I could usually lock the game. 

Hydreigon @ Haban Berry
Ability: Levitate
-Draco Meteor
-Fire Blast
-Dark Pulse

Hydreigon and Aegislash work incredibly well together and provide flawless type synergy on top of being two very solid Pokemon, and I wanted something like this to build around to be able to be able to get my opponent to reveal what they brought rather quickly. It was something sort of new for me to play a bit more passively early, but I felt like I handled it alright, and Hydreigon helped me do so. Whenever I tested Specs or Scarf, I always wanted to switch moves or use Protect more than any other choice Pokemon I've used this year, so I wanted an item that was both effective and allowed me to use Protect. I was also not keen on Hydreigon because it was basically mutilated by Salamence, so I think the Haban alleviated that fear as well. I never used Fire Blast once all day and think it could have been Taunt, which would have come in handy in a game or two. 

Machamp "Tim Howard" @ Sitrus Berry 
Ability: Guts
-Close Combat
-Ice Punch
-Wide Guard

Machamp was something that Crow brought up about three days before Nationals and something I had never run before prior to that. I saw exactly why he wanted it on the team, although it wasn't going to be brought in even half of my games. It was a tech for specific teams, mostly those heavily based around Tyranitar + Ice Punch-able Dragon + Rotom forme. Wide Guard was put on at the last minute over Knock Off because I feared Charizard Heat Wave and wanted a lock against Aerodactyl + Garchomp Rock Slide spam cheese as well as having an option for certain Rain teams. It seemed a little awkward with Protect, but it worked out alright. Guts was needed because I needed Machamp to give Rotom a hard time, and Close Combat did more damage to Rotom, especially with a Guts boost.

Rotom-W @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Levitate
-Hydro Pump
-Thunder Wave

Probably my favorite Pokemon on the team: the gogglewasher. I had a lot of issues dealing with Amoonguss + Azumarill/Tyranitar/Kanga without the Gyarados on the team, and slapping the goggles on this little guy helped that and more. I really do think Sitrus is a good item on it, but I had it on Machamp already, and Goggles were an absolute necessity here without running Taunt. There were a ridiculous amount of times where I saw a Rotom-W in the International Challenge when I ran Mega Tyranitar + Amoonguss where I realized how devastating a Rotom-W with Goggles would be. I also noticed this when I ran Azumarill + Amoonguss. 

I've run Thunder Wave over Will-o-Wisp on most of my Rotom formes recently, and I think it's a slightly better move for most teams. It really does depend on the setup of the team, but here I really needed it with Hydreigon, Kangaskhan, Aegislash, and Machamp all benefiting from paralyzed Pokemon.

I think this goggles Rotom was an excellent bo1 Pokemon and a decent bo3 Pokemon, and I'd consider running this again if my team needed what it provides.

Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Stance Change
-Shadow Ball
-Flash Cannon
-Shadow Sneak
-King's Shield

This one was...weird. I don't know exactly how I feel about this Pokemon after the event for multiple reasons. First, it was a slightly faster Aegislash (Modest) with...Weakness Policy. The speed worked well with Thunder Wave, but it made a lot of things like Mawile, Wigglytuff, and Scrafty more awkward to deal with. If you theory it through with the rest of the team, it has a lot of glaring weaknesses but also a lot of huge benefits. I never was in a situation where Substitute would have won me a game all day, but I also was never in a situation where Weakness Policy won me a game. Shadow Sneak wasn't really handy all day, either. I'm still not sure how I felt about running this. Weakness Policy is a pretty good item on Aegi, but the rest of how this was run was just...weird. Most bittersweet mon I've ever run.

Talonflame @ Choice Band
Ability: Gale Wings
-Brave Bird
-Flare Blitz
-Sleep Talk

Noticed the teams I was having a tough time with were mostly weak to Talonflame, so this ended up here. It was pretty good, nothing ridiculously awesome or anything but did its job and that's all I needed out of it. I think I preferred this over the bulkier RH supportish version I was testing for a long time here. 

Talonflame + Kangaskhan was a big crapshoot for me, and I ended up losing one of them to Greyson in a game where we led the same two and made the same move pretty much.

Hydreigon was a little tough as well, especially Choiced sets. I had ways to check it, but I had to play very carefully.

Sub Aegislash was also something I had to play very carefully around. I ran into issues with it a few times during the day and was usually able to work around it, but it was a scary thing if it got a Substitute up.

I lost to the only Charizard-Y I faced. It didn't have a Venusaur next to it, but it was pretty scary with Aerodactyl, even though I had Wide Guard. I misrevealed Wide Guard and he Overheated the next turn, so there's that. It was tricky to play around at the very least.

I'm a bit disappointed at how the season ended for me, but it's my own fault I didn't go a little deeper in any other tournaments. I'm not upset at anyone except myself, and will learn from my shortcomings this year and work on learning as much as I can about the game in order to make a good run next year. I should be at the LCQ in Washington, DC to give it one more shot (but more importantly to hang out with everyone at worlds), but my focus Pokemon-wise is on next season. Thanks to everyone who worked with me through the year, I truly appreciate it. See you all at Worlds!

(Also, thanks #imoutos for the invitation to write <3)

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