Hello, readers of Pokémon Australia! My name is Daniel Parks, known on Twitter as (@DanielParksVGC) and Showdown as ParksVGC. I have been playing VGC on Battle Spot and Showdown since 2014, but only competed in my first live event this year. The team I’m bringing you today helped me place Top 16 at the Pokémon Oceania International Championships and Top 32 in Zelda’s Sao Paulo Challenge. The team is a variation of a Japanese team created by (@Salamenceeee).
Porygon-Z @ Normalium Z
EVs: 116 HP / 4 Def / 204 SpA / 4 SpD / 180 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Ice Beam
Porygon-Z was the MVP of the team and I led it in almost every game. Z-Conversion gives Porygon-Z +1 in every stat; making it reasonably bulky, incredibly hard hitting, and very fast. Adaptability +1 Thunderbolt could OHKO much of the metagame. Whatever it didn’t KO, Scarf Tapu Lele or Extremespeed Arcanine could finish off. 180 EVs in speed allowed Porygon-Z to underspeed Aerodactyl after the Z-Conversion boost. This allows Aerodactyl to Sky Drop an opposing Pokémon while Porygon-Z sets up, then Porygon-Z can KO the Pokémon that Aerodactyl Sky Dropped the following turn.
Tapu Lele @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 28 HP / 252 SpA / 228 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
Tapu Lele was brought to every game in both the International Championships and the Sao Paulo Challenge. It was great at finishing off the Pokémon that Porygon-Z had failed to KO, and Pokémon that had been weakened by Aerodactyl’s Rock Slide. It was also my main way to deal with Garchomp. Choice Scarf also took a lot of Kartana by surprise. Kartana would often attack into Tapu Lele expecting to live Porygon-Z’s Ice Beam with its Focus Sash. By breaking a Focus Sash with Lele and using Ice Beam with PZ, Kartana would be down before it could move.
Arcanine @ Choice Band
EVs: 148 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 100 Spe
– Flare Blitz
– Wild Charge
– Close Combat
– Extreme Speed
Arcanine made its way onto the team because of Intimidate support, as well as immense offensive pressure with Choice Band. Intimidate made Jolly Garchomp’s spread Earthquake have only an 18% chance to 2HKO boosted Porygon-Z. This was valuable as Garchomp was one of a few Pokémon that could deal heavy damage to boosted Porygon-Z. I only invested 100 EVs in speed since my team was usually under Tailwind. 128 speed stat allowed Arcanine to outspeed Adamant Tapu Bulu by one point. Remaining EVs were dumped in bulk for survivability.
Gigalith @ Hard Stone
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Heavy Slam
I only brought Gigalith to three games in the International Championships, but he always put in work. He was the sixth addition to the team and was added to help against Trick Room and Weather Teams. Against Torkoal / Lilligant teams I would often lead with Tapu Fini and Arcanine, and switch one of them out for Gigalith to gain weather control. I always lead him against rain teams as well. Sandstorm broke Pelipper’s Focus Sash and I could Sky Drop Golduck and Rock Slide Pelipper, or protect Gigalith and match Pelipper’s Tailwind.
Against Trick Room teams, Gigalith’s goal was to threaten the opponent’s Pokémon and force switches long enough for Trick Room to expire. Araquanid was a big threat for Gigalith, since I couldn’t OHKO it. Araquanid also had around a 40% chance to OHKO Gigalith with Liquidation. However, if Araquanid had taken a turn of Sandstorm damage, then I am usually able to KO it with Rock Slide plus an additional turn of Sandstorm if needed.
Tapu Fini @ Choice Specs
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 236 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 4 SpD / 28 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
Tapu Fini tied with Gigalith as one of my brought used Pokémon. 28EVs in speed is to creep other Tapu Fini. The rest went into bulk and Special Attack. The only unusual thing about this set is Haze. I chose Haze because I never ended up using Dazzling Gleam, and it improved my matchup against Eevee and other setup reliant teams. Misty Terrain was also useful in stopping sleep, which annoyed my team immensely.
Aerodactyl @ Focus Sash
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 11 SpA
– Rock Slide
– Sky Drop
Aerodactyl was as important to this team as Porygon-Z. Although Porygon-Z took the KOs, Aerodactyl was what allowed Porygon-Z to boost up. Sky Drop allowed Aerodactyl’s partner to completely ignore a threat. Also, the Pokémon that Aerodactyl Sky Dropped couldn’t Protect. Aerodactyl’s partner could KO it the following turn if it was faster, avoiding taking any damage. Taunt was a great way to stop Trick Room too, since it was a real struggle for my overall speedy team. Tailwind allowed my slower, hard-hitting Pokémon like Arcanine and Tapu Fini to remove threats before they could attack. As well as all these support moves, Aerodactyl also has access to fast STAB Rock Slide. This provided consistent damage after Aerodactyl had finished supporting teammates with Sky Drop and Tailwind.
Using the Team
Leads and Modes
Aerodactyl + Porygon Z
This is what I led 99% of the time, with Tapu Lele/Tapu Fini and Arcanine in the back. Leading with Porygon-Z applies a lot of pressure because they have 3 roughly equally common items to guess at. If the opponent protects to scout, they lose immense momentum. If both of the opponent’s Pokémon were faster than Porygon-Z, I would Protect it and Tailwind with Aerodactyl, letting PZ set up next turn. When the opponent led Mimikyu, I always went for Sky Drop on Mimikyu and Z-Conversion on turn one. I’d then KO Mimikyu on turn 2, preventing Trick Room from being set. If the Mimikyu was holding a Focus Sash and managed to set Trick Room, it wasn’t the end of the world. They would usually need to double target Porygon-Z to remove it, allowing a partner like Gigalith to freely deal damage.
Tapu Lele + Gigalith
This is what I led against opposing Porygon-Z teams. In testing, I found that most Porygon-Z teams led Porygon-Z + Smeargle against me and would go for the Z-Conversion + Follow Me on turn 1. Rock Slide + Dazzling Gleam often picked up the double knockout, essentially winning the game. If not, then Scarf Lele could usually outspeed and KO Porygon-Z the following turn.
Tapu Lele/Fini + Arcanine
This is usually what I led in Game 2. After losing to Porygon-Z and Aerodactyl in Game 1, the opponent would try to adjust and prepare for that. Using a different hyper-offensive strategy often punished that. Usually, this forces the opponent to switch, losing momentum. With so much damage early game, it would prove difficult for my opponents to stage a comeback.
Against Weather Teams
When playing against sun teams, I would usually switch Gigalith in on turn two to gain weather control. To manage rain, I would usually lead with Gigalith. I didn’t go up against dedicated weather at all in the International Championship. When I battled weather teams in practice I never tried to set up Porygon-Z. I usually focused on winning the weather war, then using my fast mode to overwhelm them.
Scarf Kartana + Tapu Koko
If my opponent leads this against Porygon-Z and Aerodactyl, I was immediately forced to make a 50/50 play. If I protected my Porygon-Z and went for Tailwind, then the opponent could double target my Aerodactyl. This would KO it, preventing my tailwind and, threatening a knockout on Porygon-Z the next turn. If I didn’t protect Porygon-Z and went for the Z-Conversion straight away, then I risked getting knocked out on turn one. I usually ended up going with the latter option, as at the worst I set Tailwind and Porygon-Z went down. However, if that happened then I could bring in Arcanine the next turn and threaten both of the opponent’s Pokémon under tailwind, allowing me to claw my way back into the fight.
Mudsdale was a big threat because it couldn’t be lifted by Sky Drop, and had a 25% chance to OHKO Porygon-Z after the Z-Conversion. If it wasn’t Assault Vest, then Porygon-Z could OHKO it with Ice Beam at +1. If it was Assault Vest or the opponent had Mudsdale out before Porygon-Z boosted, then I had to play around it. Sometimes I wasn’t able to get the Z-Conversion off early game. Mudsdale was another reason why I didn’t swap Tapu Fini out for another Pokemon. Bringing Tapu Fini in against Mudsdale meant that Porygon-Z could focus on knocking out the rest of the opponent’s team.
Gigalith was another Pokémon that couldn’t be Sky Dropped. It threatened the OHKO on Porygon-Z with Continental Crush and in Sandstorm, it couldn’t be OHKO’d by Porygon-Z. Gigalith was another great Pokémon to use Tapu Fini against, but I had to be careful not to lock myself into Muddy Water if I thought it had Wide Guard. Arcanine could also deal big damage to Gigalith with Close Combat but if the opponent was able to manage my Arcanine and Tapu Fini with the rest of their team then I struggled quite a bit. Against teams with Gigalith and Mudsdale I had to play carefully and these were probably my toughest matchups.
Although not as threatening as Gigalith and Mudsdale, Snorlax was also unable to be Sky Dropped. This allowed Snorlax to attack Porygon-Z while it was setting up and then it could threaten the knockout the following turn. Switching in Arcanine made Snorlax’s High Horsepower a 3HKO on Porygon-Z after Intimidate, so that helped me manage it. Outside of Trick Room, Arcanine could also outspeed and threaten the OHKO on the Snorlax with Close Combat. Unnerve Aerodactyl helped a lot against Snorlax because it turned 3HKO’s into 2HKO’s. It also made Recycle irrelevant which put a complete stop to Snorlax’s recovery.
I usually went for Sky Drop + boosted Thunderbolt on Oranguru like I did with Mimikyu, but depending on Oranguru’s defensive EV’s I didn’t always pick up the KO. This usually meant that the opponent set Trick Room which my speedy team struggles against. If Trick Room got up, then I had to rely on Gigalith to deal damage and threaten switches until TR expired. Oranguru was easier to manage in Best of Three sets because I could determine whether Oranguru carried the Mental Herb in game 1. If it wasn’t carrying the Herb, I could just Taunt it with Aerodactyl and not worry about it anymore.
Lightning Rod was a pain to deal with because I couldn’t fire Thunderbolts off freely. Fortunately; Aerodactyl, Tapu Fini, Gigalith, and Tapu Lele all threaten Marowak. Arcanine and Gigalith can OHKO Togedamaru. Overall, I found that the team had enough answers to the Lightningrod users in the format. Nonetheless, if the opponent played well and preserved their Lightning Rod users, then Porygon-Z was not able to function as intended. Depending on the structure of the opponent’s team, I would sometimes leave Porygon-Z out entirely or bring it in the back so I could set up after I had dealt with the Lightningrod Pokémon.
Round 1: (JP) Tomoyuki Yoshimura (9-5-0) Lose 1-2
Round 2: (AUS) Paul Ruiz (6-3-0) Win 2-0
Round 3: (AUS) Nabil Lakehal (5-4-0) Win 2-0
Round 4: (AUS) Jhonatan Mercado (4-5-0) Win 2-0
Round 5: (AUS) Kyle Beaumont (6-3-0) Win 2-1
Round 6: (AUS) Graham Amedee (6-3-0) Win 2-0
Round 7: (IT) Alessio Yuri Boschetto (9-5-0) Win 2-0
Round 8: (SG) Melvin Keh (9-5-0) Lose 1-2
Round 9: (SG) Mathew Hui (9-5-0) Lose 1-2
Day 2 Round 1: (UK) Rachel Annand (8-6-0) Win 2-1
Day 2 Round 2: (US) Wolfe Glick (10-4-0) Lose 0-2
Day 2 Round 3: (UK) Labhaoisa Cromie (7-7-0) Win 2-0
Day 2 Round 4: (IT) Alessio Yuri Boschetto (9-5-0) Win 2-0
Day 2 Round 5: (TW) Duh Jehn-Chau (9-5-0) Win 2-1
I have found this team incredibly fun to use so far. I’ve been using it since the start of the season and it has consistently performed well. I have maintained a rating of above 1800 on Battle Spot even though the metagame has changed so much since the team was built. I can see the core of Aerodactyl and Porygon-Z being relevant for the rest of the VGC2017 season. Although if there’s a big change in the metagame, then some members of the team might need to be revisited.
I look forward to building more unconventional teams in the future, and I hope I can improve my performance in future tournaments. Thanks for reading my report and if you have any questions about the team then feel free to contact me on Twitter and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can!