Top 32 at Birmingham Regionals 2017!
I haven’t done one of these in ages – mainly because I’ve not had a team (or tournament finish) worth talking about; I was tempted to pen one after finishing top 16 in Malmo’s Mid Season Showdown, but I was using Gavin Michaels’ Trick Room team so we already know enough about that!
Having used Trick Room, and later Trick Room plus Lilligant Torkoal, for the majority of the season, collecting less than a handful of decent finishes, I decided it was time to trial something different. I adored Lilligant Torkoal, but a string of games (including a terrible 4-3 run at the Milan Open) where I seemed to miss a vast amount of my inaccurate moves prompted me to set this duo aside; looking through my PC box, I found a Gyarados (which I’d used at Europe’s International Championship) sat next to an innocent looking ‘Pikachu clone’…
*Feature Art was created by CarobyArt for chaoticespeon.com – please do not reuse this image without permission*
So this is exactly what I started with – truth be told I wasn’t expecting much. Dragon Dance Gyarados underwhelmed me massively at Europe’s IC whilst Togedemaru seemed gimmicky at best; I was expecting to trial it for a couple of games, have some fun, grab a handful of wins and losses before returning meekly to build something a little more serious… the only problem was, the team we built around it just kept… well… winning.
Looking at the defensive type chart, the synergy between Togedemaru & Gyarados is outstanding; covering each others weaknesses flawlessly, Togedemaru can utilise its Lightning Rod ability to protect Gyarados from most Electric attacks (be wary of those cheeky Discharges) and Fake Out to help it set up, very similar to the Raichu/Azumarill combination which was prevalent in 2014.
I was a little concerned about facing Lilligant/Torkoal and the odd Ninetales whilst still wanting an additional answer to Celesteela, in the likely event Togedemaru was knocked out, and coverage for the occasional Tapu Bulu. I scoured my boxes and happened across the next two members of my team…
Ahh, starting to take shape now – no team in 2017 is complete without Arcanine it seems; a second source of Intimidate meant I was well on the way to crippling opposing physical attackers. As for Nihilego I was in desperate need to add a Special Attacker to my team; it seems to be the ultimate anti meta mon going into regionals, being able to rack up OHKOs on Arcanine, Tapu Koko and Garchomp – the three most used Pokémon on Battlespot – and also being a pain in the behind for Lilligant/Torkoal players was enough reason for me to want to use the Ultra Beast.
A couple of holes still remained. I had no speed control, a fairly tricky matchup against Rain and a weakness to ground type attacks (most notably from a Scarfed Garchomp). As I was building on the Wednesday before the tournament and pretty busy with work I just tacked on a Drifblim and Tapu Lele with the intention of finding something else which fit the team a little better.
The issue was, Blimp Lele actually seemed to work with the team! I hadn’t experimented with the duo before, preferring to select anti meta Pokémon than ones which were everywhere; most practice games I brought Togedemaru/Gyarados/Arcanine/Nihilego, but there were a fair few matches where leading Tapu Lele and Drifblim propelled me into excellent positions to rack up some W’s. With only a couple of days before regionals, I settled on this as my tournament team.
Theory Monning the night before
We all do it. We build a team we’re comfortable with then, as soon as the hotel room door locks shut you’re straight onto Battlespot for some last minute practice. After an extended Battlespot session I’d won Six and lost Four which was enough to make me begin to doubt my team. I then quickly drew up something else which was a much more defensive version of the above team and suddenly had a dilemma; fortunately, I was sensible and took the team I was comfortable with, I’ll list both the teams below with their respective type charts for those of you curious enough.
It’s certainly fair to say that the second team looks much more solid defensively; however, having already become comfortable with the first team – and preferring double Intimidate + some terrain control – I decided to go with the first team for the tournament. At least if things went horribly wrong, I had an alternative concept ready to go; you can find the pastebin of team two by following this link, but let’s move on to my regional team’s builds!
The Final Squad!
When looking through the builds please keep in mind, I built the team only THREE days before the tournament; I’ll be optimising the spreads for any future endeavours with this team, but here is what I took into Birmingham Regionals!
Togedemaru @ Focus Sash
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Zing Zap
– Fake Out
– Spiky Shield
A simple, no thrills, fairly standard Togedemaru. This little thing was probably the team’s MVP; it supported the entirety of the squad through Fake Out and locking slower Pokémon into passive attacks through Encore. Zing Zap functions nicely with Gyarados’ Waterfall to give us a 50% to flinch the target of a double attack whilst its Lightning Rod ability shuts down Tapu Koko and – to an extent – Porygon2/Z very effectively. As far as the EVs go, we want to be as quick as possible whilst maximising our damage output; Togedemaru is pretty frail (hence the Focus Sash) so investing in bulk is, in my opinion, a waste.
252 Atk Togedemaru Zing Zap vs. 252 HP / 100 Def Tapu Fini: 92-110 (51.9 – 62.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Togedemaru Zing Zap vs. 180 HP / 0 Def Celesteela: 110-132 (56.4 – 67.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Togedemaru Zing Zap vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Nihilego: 102-120 (55.1 – 64.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Gyarados @ Waterium Z
EVs: 76 HP / 252 Atk / 180 Spe
– Dragon Dance
Gyarados served me much better this time round! The Lightning Rod + Dragon Dance combination proved very tricky for a few players to deal with. The moves were fairly straight forward: Waterfall is strong enough with STAB, even stronger with a +1 boost and ridiculously strong with the +1 boost and when turned into Hydro Vortex. The final attacking move was the tricky choice, I opted for Earthquake so we could 2HKO Metagross and Electric type Porygon Z at +1, but I found myself wishing on a few occasions I’d opted for Flamethrower. Ah well, at least Earthquake came in handy when climbing the Battle Tree… that’s a consolation… right?
-1 252 Atk Gyarados Hydro Vortex (160 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Arcanine: 212-252 (107.6 – 127.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
+1 252 Atk Gyarados Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Metagross: 100-118 (53.4 – 63.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+1 252 Atk Gyarados Earthquake vs. +1 4 HP / 0 Def Porygon-Z: 112-132 (69.5 – 81.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
The EV’s were, again, simple. 180 in Speed allows us to outspeed +Atk natured Pheromosa at +1, 252 maximised Attack whilst throwing the rest into HP gave us a good chance to survive a -1 Bloom Doom from Kartana.
-1 252 Atk Kartana Bloom Doom (175 BP) vs. 76 HP / 0 Def Gyarados: 154-183 (85.5 – 101.6%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
Nihilego @ Life Orb
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Power Gem
– Sludge Bomb
– Hidden Power [Ice]
We’ve covered this little Jellyfish already on the site so I was thrilled to find a place for it on my team. Nihilego turned out to be the team’s powerhouse, scoring the most knock outs for me in the entire tournament. The spread is very self explanatory, maximising Speed and offensive output; unfortunately, her paper thin physical defences contributed to our team struggling against opposing Kartana. Yes. Despite having a Gyarados and Arcanine. Nihilego’s main job was to be able to knock out the three most popular Pokémon in the format and the rest of the Tapu Guardians.
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Power Gem vs. 252 HP / 60 SpD Arcanine: 198-234 (100.5 – 118.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Sludge Bomb vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 250-296 (171.2 – 202.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Hidden Power Ice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Garchomp: 203-244 (110.3 – 132.6%) — guaranteed OHKO
Arcanine @ Assault Vest
EVs: 124 HP / 188 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 180 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Wild Charge
– Extreme Speed
My friend (and fellow ChaoticEspeon Facebook Streamer) GreyFoxVGC gave me this Arcanine spread… and I have absolutely no idea what it does! Whatever it does, it definitely worked, Bulldoze offered me a second form of speed control (which came in clutch during round four… more on that later) Flare Blitz to hit Celesteela for big damage, Wild Charge to hit Opposing Gyarados and Extreme Speed to finish off weakened foes. The second intimidate was often crucial, helping to cripple physical attackers; being huge bait for a Garchomp Tectonic Rage was also handy as it allows me the opportunity to switch in one of my two levitating mons to waste the Z move.
Tapu Lele @ Psychium Z
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 164 HP / 92 Def / 252 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk
This is Trainer Tower’s bulky Tapu Lele spread – the one which turns Garchomp’s Earthquake into a 3HKO. I won’t go into much detail with the EV’s, you can find out what they do here, I honestly wasn’t a fan of the spread but I didn’t have enough time to build my own. It seems, however, regardless of the spread that Tapu Lele will flourish on your teams. Lele performed excellently for me, it’s Z move in Psychic Terrain does huge damage to anything which doesn’t resist it, whilst Taunt did a sufficient job of preventing Trick Room – something this team is ridiculously weak to. For better spreads, check out the recent Tapu Lele article I’ve written, but this one served me fine for one tournament at least.
Drifblim @ Psychic Seed
EVs: 4 HP / 12 Def / 140 SpA / 148 SpD / 204 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sunny Day
– Shadow Ball
And finally Drifblim! This set is indeed of my own making. Simply put, I wanted Drifblim to outspeed Modest Golduck in Rain and set up Sunny Day to weaken any potential attacks. For a more detailed run down on the EV spread, check out this article. The decisions behind the moves were very straight forward, Sunny Day powered up my own Arcanine whilst disrupting Rain and Hail. Will-O-Wisp, combined with the teams two Intimidate users, ensured that all physical attackers would be given a fairly rough time, Tailwind was guaranteed (barring any Prankster Taunts) thanks to the Speed boost in Psychic Terrain and Shadow Ball does a surprisingly decent amount of damage to foes.
Round One vs Tarrant Robbins
I’m always a little daunted going into matches against unusual teams, you rarely know what to expect. I expected to see Discharge/Lightning Rod shenanigans from Tapu Koko and Seaking but was certainly curious to see what Crobat, Sableye and Froslass would bring to the table.
Honestly, I was surprised we didn’t see Muk in this game. The first match was fairly straight forward, so much so I slowed things down to see if I could worm out any extra information. I discovered Sableye’s full moveset consisted of Snarl, Quash, Will-O-Wisp, Protect, Crobat held Flynium Z and Seaking used Waterfall.
Nihilego – 2 (Tapu Koko & Sableye)
Tapu Lele – 2 (Crobat & Seaking)
A little less straight forward as my opponent nailed the lead match up, but I managed to maneuver myself into a stronger position. I discovered his Muk wasn’t using Gluttony as its ability (thankfully) and unfortunately didn’t really get to see the Froslass do anything.
Nihilego – 2 (Crobat & Froslass)
Tapu Lele – 1 (Sableye)
Togedemaru – 1 (Muk)
Final Result: 2-0
Round Two vs Jamie Boyt
I couldn’t really have asked for a tougher Round Two opponent could I? Jamie is one of, if not the best, players the UK has had over the past couple of years; though the matchup looked tricky, I felt that if I could set Tailwind and preserve my Nihilego I’d have a good chance of winning this round.
This was a titanic struggle, I managed to execute my game plan fairly well whilst discovering how Jamie played his team. Nihilego would set Trick Room which would allow his team to outspeed mine, and Mandibuzz would set Tailwind on the final turn of Trick Room to ensure he always had the faster Pokémon, ingenious! Thankfully I was able to slowly chip away at his team as Jamie tried to control the speed; Togedemaru’s Encore was influential in sealing up game one, locking his final two Pokémon into passive attacks whilst punishing his Tapu Bulu throughout which looked to set up substitutes.
Nihilego – 1 (Mandibuzz)
Tapu Lele – 1 (Tapu Bulu)
Drifblim – 1 (Arcanine)
Togedemaru – 1 (Nihilego)
Ouch. I got stomped all over. Turn One was the killer; I predicted his Nihilego to Protect/Switch and Arcanine to attack. Therefore I went for Tailwind and Shattered Psyche into the Arcanine slot. What actually happened was Arcanine went for Helping Hand as Nihilego Sludge Bombed my Lele; Protect + Tailwind would’ve put me into an excellent position but the threat of Trick Room was too high for me to risk a passive play.
Arcanine fainted to recoil.
And this time, we went for the opposite plays on Turn One: Protect, Tailwind from my end, Trick Room on his. Jamie was able to perfectly execute his Trick Room, Tailwind combination, keeping me on the back foot the entire game. I managed to heavily damage his team but was unable to score any knockouts. Still, an excellent set and learning experience against an equally excellent opponent!
Final Result: 1-2
Round Three vs Kai Wainwright
I remember seeing Kai finish highly at numerous events in the 2015 season, as well as playing him in the Battlemaster Grand Finals tournament later that season. The match up here felt a little difficult for me – I was certain we’d see a Discharge/Earthquake combination from Garchomp making it difficult for me to lead with Togedemaru + Gyarados. As I needed Nihilego to be quicker than the Garchomp, I had to prevent his Aerodactyl from setting Tailwind or at least set my own; with two electric types on his side bringing Drifblim wasn’t really an option however.
Perfect! Nihilego/Togedemaru vs Vikavolt/Aerodactyl was as perfect a lead as I could’ve hoped for. With such a huge advantage, I ideally wanted to take this game and bluff the absence of Hidden Power Ice on my Nihilego. I took care of the Aerodactyl immediately with a Fake Out/Power Gem to give myself a huge advantage. Nihilego tore through Kai’s team with a little help from Tapu Lele.
Nihilego – 3 (Aerodactyl, Vikavolt and Arcanine)
Tapu Lele – 1 (Garchomp)
Well, if it ain’t broke… Same lead again from me, I was really tempted to switch things up and lead with Nihilego/Tapu Lele but this could easily be punished by Clefairy/Dactyl + Garchomp from Kai’s end. I was really tempted to Fake Out/Power Gem the Vikavolt slot, but I’d hidden HP Ice for a reason in game one and the Vikavolt wasn’t exactly a threat. I took out Garchomp immediately with HP Ice and went from there. Nihilego really seems like it was an excellent pick for this tournament – people just didn’t seem ready for it!
Nihilego – 1 (Garchomp)
Tapu Lele – 2 (Vikavolt, Clefairy)
Togedemaru – 1 (Aerodactyl)
Final Result: 2-0
Round Four vs Racin Abdulai Balde
Yep, I was concerned about this team – to an extent that is. I knew exactly which four Pokémon I’d be bringing to this – Nihilego threatened OHKO’s onto Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu and Marowak, Arcanine threatened both Bulu and Celesteela, Togedemaru also covered Celesteela whilst Tapu Lele was the only Pokémon on my team which could threaten big damage onto the Goodra immediately. As much as I wanted to bring Gyarados, it needed to set up at least one Dragon Dance to threaten any significant damage – something which I didn’t expect to be an easy feat.
I don’t remember much of this game, only that it had been an incredibly difficult match and, going into the final couple of turns, I found myself down to Togedemaru and Arcanine against Celesteela, Marowak and Tapu Koko in the back. It seemed a certain victory for my opponent… Enter Arcanine! He switched out his Celesteela into Tapu Koko, I spiky shielded with Togedemaru and Arcanine went for the Bulldoze, putting Tapu Koko into KO range from anything and Marowak into Flare Blitz KO range as his Marowak Bonemeranged Togedemaru. We played out the final few turns, eliminating his Marowak so Togedemaru was free to damage the Celesteela. A really tough game one, completely turned around by Arcanine’s tech move.
Togedemaru – 1 (Celesteela)
Arcanine – 3 (Goodra, Tapu Koko, Marowak)
I recognised my mistake in team selection from Game One. I was concerned about the lack of damage I could do to Goodra – which forced me to bring Tapu Lele… but what could Goodra really do to my team? Nihilego and Arcanine are very Specially Bulky and Togedemaru resists those STAB Dragon attacks. Instead, I brought Gyarados to deal, more efficiently, with Marowak. Nihilego and Arcanine, however, offered so much offensive pressure immediately. The Celesteela protected on Turn one which allowed me to E-Speed + Power Gem the Smeargle for a free knock out. The game snowballed from there as Nihilego/Arcanine tore through Balde’s team to hand me a third 2-0 victory!
Nihilego – 2 (Smeargle, Tapu Koko)
Arcanine – 2 (Celesteela, Marowak)
Final Result: 2-0
Round Five vs William Tansley
Win a couple of games back to back and you’re rewarded with an opponent who has accumalated (at the time of writing) 1231 Championship Points, running a team archetype which had started to dominate the scene – FAKEPG. I honestly didn’t have much of a game plan going into this – my only hope was to lead Blimp Lele, attempt to set up a Tailwind and go from there. Nihilego was a huge threat to his team, but that Kartana was too big an issue for me to bring it – I needed both my Intimidaters here.
Games which end up as complete whitewashes are the ones I tend not to remember in too much detail. This one is no different; I remember successfully blocking his Trick Room with a Taunt whilst setting up a Tailwind on Turn One, whilst later in the game I was punished for not predicting the Kartana switch in. All in all, this was a game best forgotten as I was ruthlessly swept aside
I honestly remember nothing about this game… nothing. It must’ve been a little closer as I scored a couple of KOs but William was always in control. A steep learning curve against one of the best players around.
Tapu Lele – 2 (Tapu Fini, Porygon2)
Final Result: 0-2
Round Six vs Samuel Moore
First of all, shoutouts to this guy for having an awesome Togedemaru plush, letting me grab a picture and telling me which one to search for on Amazon!
Anyway, back to match. Snorlax was the main concern going into this, simply because I didn’t have a way to OHKO it immediately. Whimsicott also concerned me with its access to priority Encore and Tailwind. On the plus side, I saw no reason not to finally lead with Togedemaru, Gyarados, it threatened pretty much any combination of Pokémon he could lead with.
Effectively, we both led with the same modes – Togedemaru + Water Set Up. Turn One put me into an incredible position for the rest of this game, as he Faked Out into Gyarados’ Protect, Calm Minded with Tapu Fini as I encored his Togedemaru into Fake Out. Next turn he protects Fini and Switches in Garchomp as I Dragon Dance and attempt to Encore the Fini. It was pretty straight forward from there as Gyarados had enough fire power (and support!) to sweep through Samuel’s team.
Togedemaru – 1 (Tapu Fini)
Gyarados – 3 (Togedemaru, Garchomp, Snorlax)
Turn One, yet again, proved to be the winning turn. Switching out his Arcanine for Garchomp, I managed to Fake Out/Sludge Bomb his Whimsicott for an immediate Knock Out. For the rest of the game Samuel kept switching around, trying to get better board positioning. I finally capitalised on a switch, hitting the Arcanine slot with a Hidden Power Ice as Garchomp switched in. Two fairly quick games, decided by a couple of decent first turn predictions.
Tapu Lele – 1 (Arcanine)
Togedemaru – 1 (Tapu Fini)
Nihilego – 2 (Whimsicott, Garchomp)
Final Result: 2-0
Round Seven vs Jamie Butterworth
The only thing which really concerned me about his team was the Gigalith/Porygon2 combination. Other than that, I felt extremely confident in my matchup. Whilst Togedemaru/Gyarados appeared to be a very strong lead, Drifblim/Tapu Lele felt even better – being able to burn his Physical Attackers and stop Trick Room immediately whilst threatening ridiculous amounts of damage from our Shattered Psyche Lele felt like my best option.
I don’t remember too much of this game after the first few turns – My Will-O-Wisp/Taunt worked perfectly, preventing Trick Room and severely weakening his Gigalith’s rock slides. I also remember Gyarados dodging a Rock Slide, prompting an angry reaction (even though the Gigalith was burnt and at -2) before I comfortably took game one.
Arcanine – 1 (P2)
Tapu Lele – 1 (Gigalith)
Gyarados – 2 (Celesteela, Garchomp)
I don’t remember much of this game at all, other than the loss coming down to me misplaying by not targeting down the Tapu Koko with my +1 Gyarados. Nihilego nearly won me the 1v3 but Gigalith proved one Pokémon too many for my plucky Nihilego.
Togedemaru – 1 (P2)
Nihilego – 2 (Tapu Koko, Celesteela)
Similarly to the game against Kai, Nihilego OHKOing the Garchomp on Turn One proved invaluable whilst I also managed to predict the Arcanine Switch by bringing in my Gyarados, the ending to this game thoroughly irritated me however. I managed to get myself into a position where my Gyarados was free to Dragon Dance, staring down a Gigalith which had been Intimidated twice. After missing a Rock Slide, my opponent spent the next turn angrily shaking his head, before signing the match slip, turning off his 3DS and walking away. Perhaps he’d had a tough run of games, but there’s little point in getting angry after missing a -2 Rock Slide against a full health Gyarados (don’t worry Gyara, I’ll give you the Gigalith KO in the KO count section <3), I was hoping to upload the final game but, as it wasn’t saved to the DS, I wasn’t able to. Ah well, the victory helped me end Birmingham regionals with an x-2 standing and some CP in the pocket!
Nihilego – 2 (Tapu Koko, Garchomp)
Gyarados – 2 (Arcanine, Gigalith)
Final Result: 2-1
Final Standing: 5-2, 19/128
1st. – 17 Knockouts!
2nd. – 11 Knockouts!
3rd. & – Seven Knockouts each!
4th. – Six Knockouts!
5th. – One Knockout!
Overall, I was delighted with how my team and I performed! Regionals are events which I typically struggle in so, with a team I’d only had for a couple of days, I was surprised to achieve my seemingly ambitious target of a Top 32 finish. I feel like this team still has some mileage, albeit with a few tweaked EV spreads, so hopefully we’ll be taking something similar (and slightly stronger) to the Regionals in Liverpool at the end of the month, hopefully I’ll see a few of you there!
To Celebrate our Facebook Page reaching 1000 followers, we’ll be running a giveaway where one of you can win a copy of this very team! Give us a like and keep your eyes posted for when the giveaway begins!