Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Uninstall - Top 32 at 2015 Worlds

Hi guys, I’m Alec Rubin (amr97), and I recently got 26th at the 2015 Pokemon World Championships. I hadn’t really given as much effort as I probably should have during this season, which resulted in me having fairly mediocre placements outside of getting Top 4 at the 2015 Virginia Regional Championships, but I ended up finishing consistently enough to earn an invite to Worlds, obviously. I think a lot of what makes this team work will be pretty intuitive, so I’ll just jump right into explaining it.

Deciding on the Team

After underperforming at US Nationals by going 6-3 and missing day two, I decided it was probably time for me to buck down and actually build a team and play more than ten battles on Showdown with it. I knew going into the teambuilding process that I thought the main four mega evolutions that we’ve seen throughout the year would be far and away the best choice coming into the event: Kangaskhan, Gardevoir, Charizard-Y and Salamence are all highly valuable due to their stats, typing and abilities that put them far above all the other megas in my mind. While I was dedicated to building around one of those four, I almost immediately ruled out Charizard as I have never been a fan of how I feel that the rest of the team needs to overextend to support it, so it has never really worked for me. I also decided not to use Salamence, as while I thought it was a solid pokemon the popularity of Ice and Fairy type attacks made me feel like I would never truly feel safe bringing it to a game.

Originally I had been working with some variations of a Gardevoir team that featured a Timid Imprison set alongside Hydreigon and a Fighting type Pokemon like Virizion or Conkeldurr, however most of these teams felt too derivative of the Gardevoir teams that had done well at United States Nationals, so I thought people might come in a little over prepared for them. With that in mind, I turned my attention towards a team composition that had been doing well in several Japanese tournaments; although CHALK (or Viera core, or whatever you want to call it) teams are very well known now due to their high concentration at the top of the World Championship results, prior to worlds it hadn’t been receiving a whole lot of attention amongst most Western players. I thought Kangaskhan was a very strong play heading into worlds, as not only is it incredibly consistent which would help me in making it through the gauntlet of Day 1, but many American and European players seemed to be under preparing for it with largely soft checks such as Landorus-Therian, Aegislash, and other pokemon that could be solid against Kangaskhan but ultimately don’t consistently win against it. I also decided on using Sylveon in the last slot, since it delivered a solid mixture of typing and offense while giving me a way to abuse Trick Room more fully. I think the style of team I came up with is not representative of the “typical CHALK” team, instead focusing a bit more offensively and adapting to opponents’ teams rather than being more dedicated to setting up its own strategies like the Japanese ones. Perhaps this might be why this team underperformed in relation to many of the similar teams in the field, however most of the choices I made put me into what I felt were better matchups against most of the field that ended up not coming into fruition, so a combination of that and me getting a bit unlucky in some of my loses (karma for getting advantageous rng rolls day 1 I suppose) means I would probably still make most of the same choices if I had to go into worlds with this team again.

As a side note, all of the Pokemon nicknames are from the Bokurano manga, although I’m not quite sure what possessed me to think that would make a good choice for nicknames.

Team Analysis

Chizuru (Kangaskhan) @ Kangaskhanite 
Ability: Scrappy 
Level: 50 
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe 
Jolly Nature 
- Fake Out 
- Return 
- Power-Up Punch 
- Sucker Punch 

This is probably what has been the most common Kangaskhan set throughout the year, as well as the same one that I used at Virginia regionals. The Jolly nature and maximum speed investment is probably the first thing that jumps out, as most of the Kangaskhan being used in this team archetype are slower and bulkier to better synergize with trick room. Given how I play I wanted Trick Room to be a more reactionary mode for this team, so in most situations I’ll have Kangaskhan able to outspeed most of the Pokemon that play around in that range such as Charizard and Gardevoir, and I’ll be able to bring Trick Room out in cases where my opponent’s team is naturally fast across the board or when my opponent has used a speed control move like Icy Wind, Tailwind or Thunder Wave to try and gain momentum against my faster Kangaskhan. I did consider using Alejandro Jimenez’s (Legacy) 36 HP/76 Defense spread to survive Low Kick from opposing Jolly Kangaskhan, however I kept finding myself missing out on knockouts by only a few hit points, and in most situations I would just switch my Kangaskhan away from a potential Low Kick or switch Landorus in alongside it so as to not have to worry about the opposing Kangaskhan being Adamant or just Sucker Punching me the next turn.

The moveset is very standard. Although I think Protect has a lot of merit over Fake Out on a lot of teams, I appreciated Fake Out on this team as a way to guarantee I can get Trick Room off in situations where I want to as well as augment the relatively low damage output of the team by potentially getting a “free” turn of damage while my opponent’s Pokemon cannot retaliate because of Flinching. I prefer Return over Double Edge on most sets, as by now people are more prepared defensively for Double Edge which makes the increased damage not worth the recoil that is inflicted on Kangaskhan. I chose Power-Up Punch as it has great synergy with redirection from Amoonguss, as well as the ability to punish opponent’s who play more defensively. I think Kangaskhan is best when it has the ability to boost at any moment, which is why I’ve stayed away from Low Kick for most of the year. Sucker Punch is very standard, so as to give a form of priority and hit Aegislash. +2 Sucker Punch is also very need because it has a little more power than normal return but the ability to hit fast Pokemon such as Scarf Landorus-Therian and Mega-Salamence.

Komoda (Cresselia) @ Safety Goggles 
Ability: Levitate 
Level: 50 
EVs: 236 HP / 212 Def / 60 SpD 
Relaxed Nature 
IVs: 0 Spe 
- Psychic 
- Ice Beam 
- Trick Room 
- Helping Hand 

Cresselia is probably the Pokemon that went through the most changes on the team. Originally it was a Mental Herb set that gave me a consistent way to deal with Double Genie leads, before switching to a Sitrus Berry set that was built to take two Adamant Kangaskhan Double Edges. A few days before Worlds I decided that I wasn’t quite satisfied with my answers to Amoonguss, so I made the change to Safety Goggles as it would give me quite a large advantage in CHALK mirror matches as well as generally give me a reliable answer to Landorus-T + Amoonguss which could otherwise give the team trouble. The defensive set allows it to take 2 Jolly Mega Salamence Double Edges with the rest thrown into Special Defense, however the set may not be fully optimized as I didn’t have much time to play around with it given how late I made the change to Safety Goggles. Overall Safety Goggles was pretty underwhelming as an item, as it didn’t really make a difference in any game besides when I managed to take a Spore from Barry Anderson’s (Baz Anderson) Breloom and knock it out in the same turn, however I think the item would still be worth it as there weren’t any games where the outcome would have changed with a different item.

The moveset is fairly typical for Cresselia. Psychic is used to hit Fighting and Poison types as well as provide a general STAB attacking move, while Ice Beam is used largely to snipe opposing Landorus, Thundurus and Salamence. Trick Room provides the team with a method to throw opposing teams off guard, either by turning their own speed control moves against them or allowing me to abuse Sylveon and Amoonguss by providing an environment for their low speed to shine. Helping Hand helps account for some of the lower offensive of this team by providing boosts to my four main attackers, and allowing several more KO’s for Life Orb Heatran and Mega Kangaskhan as well as upping the power of my defensive Sylveon to the levels of a 252 Modest Choice Specs set.

Masaru (Landorus-Therian) @ Choice Scarf 
Ability: Intimidate 
Level: 50 
EVs: 164 HP / 132 Atk / 4 Def / 28 SpD / 180 Spe 
Jolly Nature 
- Earthquake 
- Rock Slide 
- Superpower 
- Stone Edge 

This is a modified version of the Landorus-Therian spread Zach Droegkamp (Braverius) used at the St. Louis Regionals. The Defensive EV’s allow it to survive a +1 Life Orb Adamant Bisharp Sucker Punch and Hidden Power Ices from 252 non-boosting nature base 125’s. The most unusual thing about this set is probably the Jolly nature: I was expecting more people to use things like Scarf Mamoswine and Life Orb Hidden Power Ice Blaziken (this set outspeeds +1 Blaziken by 1). Another aspect is that this Landorus would be able to win the mirror more often, as since I’ll be outspeeding with Rock Slide I’ll have more chances to flinch as well as deal damage first.

The moveset is very standard with the exception of Stone Edge. Earthquake is used as a strong spread STAB move and to hit many Pokemon super effectively. Rock Slide is a consistent move against Charizard, Talonflame, and Thundurus and more importantly has the chance to flinch (because let’s be real that’s what I used it for most of the time). Superpower is used to hit Kangaskhan and Dark types, and can actually OHKO Kangaskhan with the Helping Hand boost from Cresselia. Stone Edge was a tech I used largely for Charizard, as I hadn’t been getting much mileage out of the standard U-Turn. Since every good Charizard team prepares for the threat of Landorus, Rock Slide becomes unreliable at best considering how common Wide Guard is, as well as an increasing trend in bulky Charizards that have a chance to survive Rock Slide. In many situations opponents will also switch in an intimidate of their own to guarantee survive Rock Slide. Stone Edge was able to bypass this, and despite the fact that it missing cost me games in two separate matches, was one of the best moves of the tournament for me, especially on day 1 when I managed to score surprise knockouts on three different Charizard’s that had been left in with the presumed ability to survive an anticipated Rock Slide from my Landorus.

Kirie (Amoonguss) (M) @ Rocky Helmet 
Ability: Regenerator 
Level: 50 
EVs: 188 HP / 164 Def / 156 SpD 
Sassy Nature 
IVs: 0 Spe 
- Spore 
- Rage Powder 
- Giga Drain 
- Protect 

This is the same Amoonguss spread I’ve been using basically all year, and if you read my Virginia Regionals report you might remember what it does. The Defensive investments ensures that it will always survive an Adamant Mega Kangaskhan Double Edge while the Special Defense allows it to always survive a Choice Specs Hydreigon Fire Blast. While the latter isn’t quite a huge metagame threat anymore, it could cause this team a fair bit of trouble so I thought it was best to prepare for. The HP stat is optimized for Regenerator recovery, and the Rocky Helmet is basically there just to cheese opposing Kangaskhan for more damage.

The moveset is by far the most standard for Amoonguss. Spore and Rage Powder are obvious, so as to be able to put opponents to sleep and redirect attacks, two of the most useful supporting options in the game. I know some people prefer Sludge Bomb as an attacking move, however I prefered Giga Drain for both the recover and the fact that it actually gives me a way to deal with Swampert, which can otherwise easily handle every member of the team besides Kangaskhan. Protect is very standard, and I think one of the cooler ways to use Amoonguss is to force opponents to play very aggressively to take it down, only to Protect and nullify their moves for that turn.

Aiko (Sylveon) (F) @ Pixie Plate 
Ability: Pixilate 
Level: 50 
EVs: 180 HP / 212 Def / 88 SpA / 28 Spe 
Modest Nature 
- Hyper Voice 
- Hidden Power [Ground] 
- Calm Mind 
- Protect

This set kind of inadvertently ended up being the same one Riley Factura (GENGARboi) used at Washington Regionals, with the exception of me using a Pixie Plate over Choice Specs (and a moveset to match). I thought the defensive investment, which allows Sylveon to Survive a Jolly Mega Kangaskhan Double Edge or two max Attack Landorus-Therian Earthquakes, would be very useful in a more defensively oriented Worlds metagame and was well worth the attack drop. I chose Pixie Plate over the more popular Choice Specs as I think a lot of people play in a manner as to where their teams can only effectively match up against the Choiced variant, so being able to surprise opponents and change up my moves could put them in compromising positions, and even after the item was revealed still force them to adjust their gameplan heavily from what it normally would be.

Anybody who has played VGC 2015 at all should understand Hyper Voice on Sylveon, as it is a no brainer to include on any set given that is essentially a 117 Base Power spread STAB move with arguably the best Attacking type in the game. Hidden Power Ground was used mostly because it allows Sylveon to beat standard Heatran sets, but it was also useful against Aegislash if they were weakened and tried to get cute and attack in Blade Form. Calm Mind is a move that has enjoyed success on a couple of different teams this year, most recently on the team that Angel, Jeudy and Jun used at Nationals. Even though I only used it once at Worlds, Calm Mind was one of my best moves in practice, as when Sylveon is next to a Pokemon like Kangaskhan or Cresselia most opponents will play a bit more cautiously, which allows me to set up Calm Minds and threaten the opponent immensely, especially if I’m able to set Trick Room up, use Amoonguss for Rage Powder or augment Sylveon’s bulk with a Landorus-Therian switch in. It was also a way to punish opponents who would double Protect either to stall out a Kangaskhan Fake Out or a turn of Trick Room. Calm Mind harkens back a bit to the whole idea of catching people off guard with Sylveon’s moveset, since also in situations where I’ve revealed that my Sylveon’s damage output is low compared to most, opponents may assume it’s not a threat and focus on its partner as I’m free to boost up. I had Protect instead of Detect because I was worried about Pressure users making me run out of Detect PP more quickly in a match, but I've since learned that Pressure doesn't actually effect Detect so I would change that if I were running the team again. 

Ushiro (Heatran) (M) @ Life Orb 
Ability: Flash Fire 
Level: 50 
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe 
Timid Nature 
- Fire Blast 
- Ancient Power 
- Earth Power 
- Protect

Heatran’s set is probably the most bizarre of any Pokemon on the team, and the main reason for that is that I don’t really like using the standard Shuca Berry set. While I think it had merit in the past, I expected most of the other Heatran at worlds to be Shuca Berry as well, and I think one of the main merits of that set is being able to beat opposing Heatran 1-on-1. I really don’t like leaving Shuca Berry Heatran in against Landorus-Therian either, since they can just Superpower and have a chance to OHKO anyway, so I decided to just try and avoid the mirror matchup with my own Heatran. I know the go to item if you don’t have Shuca Berry tends to be Leftovers with a Substitute set, however I was considered with the Aegislash matchup with this team, since I really had no way to OHKO it so in order to prevent it from really doing anything I had to double into it and hope it either wasn’t Substitute or that it didn’t just King’s Shield. Life Orb was a nice solution to that, and also makes up for the main problem I’ve had with Heatran for most of the year in that it comes onto the field and can’t really threaten anything, instead hitting for pretty mediocre damage with heat wave or non-STAB Earth Power. I elected to go for a Timid Nature just so that I could outspeed stuff like Breloom and Smeargle that could be pretty annoying with Focus Sash.

Fire Blast isn’t a move that sees very much use in VGC due to its accuracy, however it was a very nice addition to the team. It’s able to OHKO most common Aegislash spreads and basically all Amoonguss besides ones invested completely in Special Defense. Although I had to hold my breath every time I used it, Fire Blast with LO basically does the same damage as a Modest Overheat, without the drawback of lowering Special Attack by two stages. Although my accuracy in practice with Fire Blast was pretty horrendous (~65%), I luckily only missed one important one during day 1 of Worlds against Shota Yamamoto’s Amoonguss on the first turn of our match where hitting it would have basically won me the game outright, however I was able to get something ridiculous like six of seven Rock Slide flinches to win the game (and I needed every one of them!). Earth Power is a staple on Heatran: although most use it for the mirror, I didn’t plan on doing that unless I could catch them trying to switch into an anticipated fire type attack, so it was mostly effective to give me a way to hit opposing Fire types like Arcanine and Entei or have a guaranteed way to knock out Bisharp and weakened Aegislash. Ancient Power is a move that I’ve thought could be really strong for a while on Heatran, given an appropriate set to use it. One of the main problems I have with Heatran is that it’s used to check Talonflame and Charizard by being able to switch into their attacks, however it does hardly any damage back and allows those two to instead focus on the partner Pokemon. Ancient Power remedies this problem to some degree, letting Heatran easily dispatch Talonflame and beating non-Hidden Power Ground Charizards 1 vs 1. It also gives a way to hit Salamence if they don’t have Earthquake, and if I’m able to get a boost with Ancient Power +1 Fire Blast hits ridiculously hard. I did consider using another attacking move like Heat Wave and Flash Cannon over Protect, however I thought the option should I need it was a better choice than an attack I never really planned on using.

Closing Thoughts

I think the team pretty much speaks for itself in how it works, as pretty much everyone reading this should be familiar with the CHALK archetype by now. I don’t really have much else to say about this team besides the fact that I think I’ll probably look into other things going forward into Fall Regionals, as some people already seem to be compromising the integrity of their team in order to have a good matchup against this one specific archetype, which I learned the hard way when I faced an absolutely abysmal CHALK matchup in the first round of a PC I took this team to. At any rate thanks for reading, and hopefully you enjoyed the report and aren’t sitting there wondering why you read 3,500 words on a crappier version of the team that won worlds.

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