Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The Scream Queen - 2015 Houston Regional Premier Challenge 1st Place Team

Oh yeah. I have a blog, don't I? Haven't posted on here in quite some time, my bad. I mostly kept to Nugget Bridge for my posts last season, but this year I'll hopefully be posting more on this blog. The plan is to write about most if not all the teams I use at Premier Challenges or Regionals, and maybe some other teams I use online or just for fun.

Going into Fall Regionals this year, I was really unsure of what I wanted to use. More specifically, none of the mega options were too appealing. Even though I tested Metagross extensively and almost brought it to Worlds, I still didn't like it enough to dedicate a Regional to it. Timid Charizard was a better option considering the drop in usage of Scarf Landorus, but the CHK part of CHALK, not to mention the Thundurus that often accompanied it, still made using Charizard difficult. Speaking of which, I played around with CHALK too. It was obviously really strong, but I wasn't confident enough in my ability to outplay other people using CHALK since I have limited experience with Kangaskhan. Since I had hated basically everything about Gardevoir all year, Salamence was the most logical choice. I had a Salamence team that I used off and on, and was set on taking it to a pair of Premier Challenges in Dallas the weekend before Regionals.

However, I was talking to my friend Sam Schweitzer (@SamVGC) and he shared his team with me. At first I saw the Gardevoir and was turned off, but the rest of the team actually really intrigued me. I started playing with it, noticed a couple changes that I wanted to make, and ran with it. Thanks a ton for the team Sam, hope to get to work with you more in the future.

The Team

scream queen (Gardevoir) @ Gardevoirite
Ability: Trace
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 20 Def / 120 SpA / 4 SpD / 160 Spe  (Originally 124 SpA / 156 Spe)
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA / 30 Spe  (Originally 31 SpA / 31 Spe)
- Hyper Voice
- Psychic
- Hidden Power [Fire] / Encore / Trick Room
- Protect

Like I said, I mostly hated using Gardevoir this year. I always thought it was an inferior Sylveon. Like Sylveon, it's primary move was Hyper Voice, but it couldn't hold an item and took up the team's mega slot. I even went as far as saying Gardevoir was straight up terrible for a while, but after it took first and second at US Nationals I had to give that stance up. Once I started using Gardevoir, I understood the hype a lot more. The base 100 Speed gave Gardevoir a huge leg up on Sylveon, allowing it to outspeed and often beat Pokemon like Breloom and Bisharp. The dual Psychic typing, while eliminating the Bug and Dark resists and adding a Ghost weakness, let Gardevoir beat Poison types that gave Sylveon a lot of trouble, like Venusaur or Amoonguss. Gardevoir has some really neat options for its third attack as well. I only ever tested the three moves listed above, but other choices include Disable, Will-o-Wisp, Ally Switch, or Imprison.

The EV spread was Sam's. It lets Gardevoir outspeed Smeargle after it mega evolves, which is a bit faster than the average Gardevoir. I think most just use 36 EVs to outspeed Adamant Bisharp, so having a slightly faster Gardevoir helped for the mirror. The Special Attack investment meant that Gardevoir always 2HKOd 4 HP Mega Kangaskhan with Hyper Voice. It also allowed Hyper Voice to knock Kangaskhan out after two ticks of Rocky Helmet damage and a tick of Sand damage. That seems pretty situational, but that was actually surprisingly easy to pull off with this team. With the HP and Defense, Gardevoir can survive a -1 Double-Edge from Jolly Kangaskhan or Jolly Salamence.

When Sam gave me the team, he had Trick Room on Gardevoir. I really didn't like it on this team, and I never found myself using it. I tested out Encore and it was really fun. Gardevoir could lock some games down by locking Pokemon into attacks like Protect or set up moves. At the first Dallas Premier Challenge on September 25, I lost in Top 8 to a Ferrothorn since I really didn't have any ways to hit it for considerable damage. While Encore was a cute option at times, I decided Hidden Power Fire was smarter. While it doesn't OHKO Ferrothorn, it does around 70% on average, which is enough to put it in KO range for Tyranitar, Landorus, or Aegislash. The opposite could also be true - if I got enough previous damage onto Ferrothorn, Gardevoir could knock it out from a longer range. Hidden Power Fire also gave Gardevoir a better option against Aegislash and Scizor, both of which it would normally lose to outright. The adjusted EV spread was to account for the lower IVs once I switched to HP Fire.

bad habits (Amoonguss) @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Regenerator
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 180 Def / 76 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Giga Drain
- Spore
- Rage Powder
- Protect

What is Gardevoir without Amoonguss? There isn't really a whole lot to say about this guy, Amoonguss is a fantastic Pokemon. Rage Powder supports every single member of the team, and the option to forgo redirection for a Spore makes it even better. I brought Amoonguss to the majority of my games, and I can't imagine the team without it. I'm not really sure where the EV spread came from, I have about 5 different Amoonguss spreads on Showdown and they all seem the same to me. No Amoonguss EV spread has ever really stuck out to me as better than another, so I don't really care how everything is distributed as long as it's bulky.

Funny story: I just realized as I was writing this entry that the Amoonguss I physically used at the Dallas and Houston tournaments actually has 180 Special Attack instead of 180 Defense...oops.

rage comic (Gyarados) @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Waterfall
- Earthquake
- Dragon Dance
- Protect

Gyarados, while not a common Pokemon these days, was surprisingly effective. Intimidate is pretty important for Gardevoir, and the Safety Goggles came in pretty handy. If I saw a CHALK team, it was pretty easy to lead Gyarados + Amoonguss and start Dancing. +1 Waterfall did a lot of damage to neutral targets, and OHKOd Pokemon that took super effective damage like Heatran and Landorus. Earthquake was handy for picking off weakened threats and just spreading some damage across the opponent's team. I considered Ice Fang for a way to hit Amoonguss and Salamence (+1 Ice Fang will always OHKO 4 HP Salamence), but Earthquake was generally more useful so I kept it.

sword fights (Aegislash) @ Leftovers
Ability: Stance Change
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 180 SpA / 76 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Shadow Ball
- Substitute
- Wide Guard
- King's Shield

Aegislash is such a good Pokemon. Its typing is fantastic, and the variety of sets it can run makes it a volatile option in team preview. This Aegislash was meant to beat other Aegislash. The Sassy nature and 76 EVs in Special Defense allows Aegislash to take a Shadow Ball from opposing (non Life Orb) Aegislash and set up a Substitute. From there you can just spam Shadow Ball until they are forced to take it in Blade form. Alternatively, you can just Shadow Ball them on the first turn, but where's the fun in that? Sam originally had Flash Cannon, but with the lack of Fairy and Rock resists (other than Aegislash), I thought Wide Guard would be a great option for blocking Hyper Voice and Rock Slide. It slowed down Heatran as well since they often rely on Heat Wave for damage output. While Flash Cannon would have been nice for hitting stuff like Kangaskhan or Tyranitar, I don't regret using Wide Guard at all.

dank memes (Tyranitar) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Sand Stream
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
- Rock Slide
- Crunch
- Superpower
- Ice Punch / Stone Edge

I had been using Tyranitar a lot on a team with Mega Salamence, but holding an Assault Vest instead of a Scarf. My first thought when Sam gave me this team was to switch to that Assault Vest set and leave Trick Room on Gardevoir, but I decided that I prefered the fast paced nature of Choice Scarf, especially combined with Landorus. Scarf Tar is a pretty simple Pokemon - it hits hard and fast, and there is always something to be said about Scarf Rock Slide. I originally used Stone Edge, but after losing an NPA set by missing 2 out of 3 Stone Edges, I decided that I hated the unreliability of the move. Especially in a best of one setting like PC's and Regionals, I didn't want to risk putting myself behind in a tournament because of one miss. I switched to Ice Punch to give myself a way to reliably OHKO Assault Vest Landorus, as well as deal a lot more damage to Amoonguss and Salamence. I did consider Fire Punch due to the aforementioned Ferrothorn problems, but it barely outdamages Superpower and wasn't worth the moveslot.

plutos heart (Landorus) @ Life Orb
Ability: Sand Force
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
- Earth Power
- Hidden Power [Ice]
- Stone Edge
- Protect

I completely underestimated Landorus-I when I first saw the team. Landorus is really just on the team to spam Earth Power, but Hidden Power Ice and Stone Edge provided some great coverage. Stone Edge OHKOs Charizard and Volcarona and had a pretty good chance to OHKO my Thundurus from Missouri Regionals when sand was up, while HP Ice OHKOs Mega Salamence and non-AV Landorus-T. Let's talk about Earth Power's damage potential though. It always OHKOs 4 HP Shuca Berry Heatran without Sand Force activated, and had a 3/8 chance to OHKO 252 HP Shuca Heatran. In the Sand, not even 252 HP Shuca Heatran was safe. Neutral targets took some incredible damage from Sand Force and Life Orb boosted Earth Power too. There was a game in Top 8 of the Houston PC where I was able to knock out a Kangaskhan on turn 1 with -1 Tyranitar's Crunch followed by an Earth Power, which put me pretty far ahead right away. I was very happy with how Landorus performed on this team.

I didn't take any notes this weekend, so I'm not going to try to remember any details from battles. I was really happy with how I played at the three Premier Challenges I took this team to. My combined swiss record was 13-2, after going 4-1, 3-0 (drop), and 6-1. The 3-0 drop was unfortunate, as I had to leave the PC early to get back to school for some plans I had that night. I was feeling pretty confident going into the Regional after I had won the PC the night before, but since it ran so late I was barely able to get any sleep. I won my first round at the Regional by just spamming Hyper Voice, but after that I couldn't find the energy to put any kind of deep thought into my matches. I found myself 1-3 pretty quickly, and after my backpack was stolen during round 5 I went completely mental and didn't play the last three rounds. A very unfortunate end to the weekend, but certainly not the team's fault. I might end up using this team in Fort Wayne if I make the trip, since I do think this is a team I could cut a Regional with.

Thanks for reading, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter at @jakesaysstuff!