Since I was living in Thailand last year when we got our last-minute official events and Worlds invites, this was my first Regionals attendance (I’ve been pretty active in the local tournament scene since 2011 though). The day turned out really awesome, smashing Sydney’s numbers by having nearly 400 entrants, about three quarters of whom were in the Masters division. As expected with that many people on a single day, the format was single elimination with best of three matches for the first part of the day. Due to time constraints we switched to best of one at top 17 (uneven numbers) and then back to best of three for the final. I managed to place 2nd at the end of the day, going down to last year’s Melbourne champion, Sam Pandelis (Cypress).
My regionals run-through went way better than I thought it would with what I worried was too gimmicky a team. The whole reason I ran this team was because I knew it didn’t matter if I scrubbed out early since Nationals is in Melbourne anyway, so winning wouldn’t really achieve anything besides glory (and a console I already own). In addition to being really fun to use and rather nonstandard, the team actually ended up performing really well.
It has a good blend of tricky mind game stuff alongside stuff that simply dishes out lots of damage. It drew inspiration from a couple of places. Part of that inspiration came from fellow Melbournian Emma Williams (Cobalte) who kicked my butt with an Assault Vest Lapras that got my attention while we were having practice matches. Then I lifted the Raichu/Staraptor core used to great success by Tony Cheung (Chinese Dood) recently in the US, albeit without his Mega Gengar and its Disable shenanigans. All of this was tied together with rain, but the team doesn’t include Ludicolo or Kingdra, so it doesn’t really fit what comes to mind when you think ‘rain team’. The line-up features: Lapras, Raichu, Staraptor, Politoed, Talonflame and Mega Lucario.
The Primary Core
Lapras @ Assault Vest
Ability: Water Absorb
EVs: 252 HP / 60 Def / 116 SAtk / 76 SDef / 4 Spd
- Hydro Pump
- Ancient Power
- Sheer Cold
There are a lot of good Assault Vest users out there for those who are fond of playing bulky stuff, but Lapras is pretty special in that it has indirect access to recovery at the same time thanks to Water Absorb. It also has pretty phenomenal coverage with just Freeze-Dry and Hydro Pump, meaning it can afford to run not one, but two highly situational moves as filler.
Hydro Pump in the rain packs quite a punch to most stuff. Freeze-Dry deals a lot of damage to or OHKO’s a lot of common stuff in the metagame, like Garchomp, Rotom-W, Salamence, Ludicolo and Kingdra, to name a few.
Ancient Power is for finishing things or in a pinch, trading blows with Zard-Y in the sun. I’d obviously never use it over a smarter choice in the hope of getting the stat boost, but when everything falls into place and it just happens, it’s pretty game-changing. Sheer Cold is an, ‘Oh crap, I’m about to lose the game!’ wildcard that can potentially make comebacks possible in dire situations (I was particularly pleased when it KO’d a +6 Evasion Blissey on Battle Spot Doubles the other day). Given the bulk Lapras has, this is a more viable option here than on most Pokémon. I certainly think Assault Vest users should do their best to get around the limitations of being locked into attacking moves, and I think I’ve done that with how I’ve used Lapras. I had played around with Whirpool over Sheer Cold, to go with Encore potentially, but I found Sheer Cold to be useful more frequently in testing.
The EVs are adapted from what’s suggested on Eggy Emporium. I gave it enough Special Attack to OHKO standard Garchomps and invested the rest into bulk.
Politoed @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 248 SAtk / 8 SDef
- Hydro Pump
- Ice Beam
The problem I’ve had with Assault Vest users in the past is that they really miss not having a Sitrus Berry. I thought I’d patch this up and give my behemoth a bit more offensive prowess at the same time by bringing Surf recovery plus rain. Politoed and Lapras together both threaten a lot of stuff simply by both surviving several hits from things used to beat them while constantly dishing out STAB and rain boosted attacks. Opponents tend to focus on taking out one of them at a time, so once I know what their response is I can wreak havoc with the other one.
The coverage is pretty similar to Lapras, though pretty harmless against Water-types (in which case he’s not dead weight due to his healing function). I wanted to include a second Water move in addition to Surf for when I have other stuff on the field with Politoed. Both of these moves came in handy pretty equally (although accidentally Surfing my Raichu down to 1HP in the semifinal due to a misclick was pretty rough). Scald was possibly an option over Hydro Pump of course, but I just kind of picked one without terribly thorough testing to be honest.
The other noteworthy thing about how Politoed worked on my team, was that I was able to quite easily switch him out and then in again on a single turn thanks to my VolTurn core, making weather wars much more manageable.
EVs and item are just to maximise bulk without sacrificing power, so that I can stay alive to keep Lapras alive for as long as possible. I think the Special Attack EVs were cut back just to where I needed them to secure the OHKO on standard Garchomp again.
Raichu @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd
- Fake Out
- Volt Switch
So with two Water-types on my team right from the get-go, I obviously needed a way to deal with Electric and Grass-type attacks. This gave me an excuse to try out this duo that I’ve been a fan of ever since seeing footage of Chinese Dood tearing it up at Washington Regionals. This is exactly the same Raichu setup that he used. The key to using Raichu well is to use it as a support Pokémon. It can do alright on DisQuake teams as a Garchomp slayer, but otherwise I’ve found it to be not very good as a primary attacker.
Raichu is far more useful by not actually relying on getting Lightning Rod boosts. It hardly dishes out much damage even on +1, so I have no reservations about it switching out every time it attacks. Using this guy well is all about reading your opponent. You need to know when they’ll expect you to switch Raichu in or out and when they’re expecting you to Encore or not. As long as I predict well, this guy frustrates my opponent to no end while my Water-types spam rain boosted attacks at the opposing team virtually undamaged a lot of the time. I just have to make sure I don’t back myself into a position where I have to Volt Switch into a teammate who will promptly get knocked out before it can do anything. This is certainly not a Pokémon to be used by inexperienced players.
The EV spread and item choice are extremely standard and warrant no explanation.
Staraptor @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 188 HP / 180 Atk / 140 Spd
- Brave Bird
- Close Combat
- Final Gambit
Also taken from Chinese Dood’s team, this was a more offensively inclined support Pokémon, that gave me a Grass resistance. As far as I know the EV spread is my own (unless Chinese Dood and I are on the same wavelength and both came up with the same spread).
This guy can do a lot of different things depending on the situation. He can sit there dishing out huge chunks of damage with STAB Brave Birds, he can play switching shenanigans with Raichu using U-Turn/Volt Switch to abuse Intimidate, or he can sacrifice himself using the scarcely distributed move, Final Gambit. Close Combat was probably the least used move on the set, but it is occasionally handy for taking out Mega Kangaskhans after chip damage and is extremely useful for OHKOing Tyranitars.
The Speed EVs when combined with Choice Scarf are sufficient to outspeed Timid Mega Manectric, which is the fastest thing I run into fairly often. The HP EVs are optimised for Final Gambit obviously. With this much HP I can always one-shot 4HP base 108 Pokémon (i.e. standard Garchomp), and can safely one-shot anything with HP of base 77 or lower regardless of their HP investment (take that, bulky Druddigon users!). The most common targets for this move are Garchomp, Rotom-W, Mega Manectric and Ferrothorn. The rest of my EVs are dumped into Attack. The HP EVs come in handy outside of using Final Gambit by giving him more survivability as VolTurn/Intimidate support.
One of the downfalls of this team is that while it is still very handy to force a 3v3 from turn one in a lot of cases, quickly taking out Garchomps and Rotom-Ws is fairly redundant, since this team deals with those things quite well already. Final Gambit would certainly be more useful on teams that struggle against those two Pokémon. Still, just the threat of Final Gambit can be useful to play off of. I find I actually gain a lot more momentum when I Final Gambit into a Protect and leave my opponent stressing about what to do about that next turn. Even if sacrificing Staraptor isn’t in my best interest, nobody likes to lose a Pokémon at the start of a match, so the presence of this threat gives me an element of control over the game as long as Staraptor’s around.
The Other Two
The above four were the first to be put on the team and also happened to be the four that I brought most commonly to games after Team Preview. They covered each other’s weaknesses pretty well in most cases and allowed for some good switching options and combinations between them. There were a few things I still struggled with though. Obviously from purely a typing standpoint, I had no safe switch-ins to Rock or Fighting-type attacks, both of which are very common in the meta. That’s still probably my biggest weakness, though it is somewhat mitigated in certain situations by the teammates below.
The thing I wanted to reliably counter more easily though was opposing weather. Any half-decent weather team can theoretically deal with opposing weather by well-played weather wars, but that can get pretty tense; I wanted another, safer solution. Mega Kangaskhan was also a potential problem, since I had nothing powerful enough to OHKO it (and it was on almost every team in Melbourne, as in most places). Venusaur/Mega Venusaur and Mega Charizard-Y being my biggest immediate concern though, this is what I came up with:
Talonflame @ Life Orb
Ability: Gale Wings
EVs: 252 Atk / 64 Def / 192 Spd
- Brave Bird
This exact Talonflame set keeps making its way onto new teams that I build. Mainly it takes out Venusaur/Amoonguss and then faints having fulfilled its purpose. I tried to nickname it Weed Killer but my game wouldn’t let me because Trollfreak are a bunch of prudes. Having two Flying types with Brave Bird seemed redundant to me at first, but it’s been extremely useful. Brave Bird is the obvious counter to Amoonguss/Venusaur, so good players with those Pokémon will have very reliable Talonflame counters. It becomes way harder for them to manage the threat though if there’s a second bird U-turning around the place. The thing I like about this Talonflame though is that it is sometimes really clutch outside of using Brave Bird a lot.
I always hated running Flare Blitz earlier in the season due to all the extra recoil incurred by its most common target, Ferrothorn. Since it really doesn’t take a lot to KO Ferrothorn with Fire attacks, I figured it would be worth going mixed to remove all the unnecessary recoil. Most of my other targets for this move are either frail or 4x weak to Fire anyway. Because people expect physical, they sometimes think Intimidate will save their Mega Mawiles, and since my main attacking option is physical, I don’t mind the Special Attack drop that comes with Overheat. Obviously Overheat becomes rather useless while Politoed is around, but I often don’t bring Politoed to games where I bring Talonflame. Even if I do, Staraptor can Final Gambit Ferrothorn if it needs to.
Taunt is mainly for dealing with Smeargle. Sometimes I Taunt Trick Room, but Politoed and Lapras aren’t really too phased by it. Smeargle on the other hand is something no team should be unprepared for. Between Taunt, Encore, Fake Out and a bunch of strong attackers, Smeargle is rarely a concern for me with this team. I would never go back to running a Talonflame without Taunt now. Protect is also something I never used to run on Talonflame, but it just results in it surviving so much longer, which is particularly valuable for something that people are used to getting rid of quite quickly.
The EVs are set up so that I can survive a Brave Bird from an opposing Life Orb Talonflame and then KO it in return. Attack is maxed out and the remainder is thrown into Speed. Some more bulk could arguably be more useful so long as I had enough Speed to Overheat and Taunt a few specific things, but the recoil is what kills me more often than not anyway, so I didn’t spend too long scratching my head over this.
Lucario @ Lucarionite
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 84 Atk / 180 SAtk / 244 Spd
- Aura Sphere
- Flash Cannon
- Rock Slide
I sort of didn’t realise that I didn’t have a Mega on my team until this point. Since my team functioned pretty well without one of the standard ones and I needed to accomplish some fairly specific stuff, this gave me cause to use something slightly more obscure than Manectric, Mawile or Kangaskhan (but not as obscure as Absol or Banette).
The most crucial thing in my mind at this point was that I needed something that could outspeed and OHKO both Mega Kangaskhan and Mega Charizard-Y. My go-to for this role is usually Mienshao, but I figured since I had the Mega-slot to spare I might as well try out Mega Lucario, who also has a handy Steel STAB for hitting Fairies. I went for a primarily special set to get the most out of my Steel attack and to be able to ignore Intimidates most of the time. In hindsight though, I’m starting to think perhaps physical would be a better approach in most cases, even after Intimidate is factored in. This is particularly so because the rest of my team is already fairly specially based.
Since I was running mixed, I didn’t want to leave any redundant EVs in Speed, and I hate speed ties. With 244 Speed EVs and a Hasty Nature, Mega Lucario can outspeed all base 110s after Mega-evolving. With Hasty, 84 Attack EVs are sufficient to OHKO 4HP Zard-Y. The rest are dumped into Special Attack to do as much damage as possible with my Adaptability boosted STAB attacks. If I was to replace anything on the team straight away, it would be this guy. That’s not to say he’s trash though. He’s been very handy on several occasions. I just feel like a lot of other stuff could easily replace him, whereas the rest of my team members have quite unique synergy with one another.
It all worked out quite well, obviously. The main thing that didn’t go well was that I had to knock out two of my teammates. You see, leading up to Regionals, a bunch of us Australian players came together to form the Delphox Cubs (we have shirts and everything). Sharing team ideas and practising together, we’ve had a pretty strong presence around the country this year, with Lionel (CatGonk) winning the Sydney Regionals. I managed to decimate our chances of having a Delphox Cub take Melbourne by knocking out both Emma and Phil early on. I guess I made up for it by making it to the finals myself.
I’m not going to take the time to go into great depth about each game turn by turn, but I will post some battle video codes (although I can’t promise the videos will still be there after Nationals when I’ll have a bunch more to upload), followed by a brief summary of what went down. In the matches that went to three games, I’ve made sure to at least include the videos of my team losing, as that’s fairly important to understanding the team’s strengths and weaknesses. If any of the guys I played three games against read this and have the codes for the missing game uploaded, that’d be awesome.
Round 1- vs Daniel
His team: Garchomp/Mega Mawile/Amoonguss/Reuniclus/Ludicolo/Politoed
Game 1: BCRW-WWWW-WWW7-YA6A
Game 2: SGCG-WWWW-WWW7-JVAR
This round went to three games and had me fairly worried I was going to immediately lose to someone I’d never seen at a tournament before. The first game went well because he was quite unprepared for my strategy. Second game I lost because of Mega Mawile, which can potentially tear through my team if left unchecked. Even in the rain, it takes a couple of hits. Fortunately an untimely switch-in caused it to go down fairly easily in the third game.
Round 2- vs Phil (Boomguy)
His team: Delphox/Amoonguss/Azumarill/Mega Kangaskhan/Hydreigon/Scizor
Game 1: BXKG-WWWW-WWW7-JVBS
Game 2: 5GHW-WWWW-WWW7-YA5T
Phil was so dedicated to our namesake that he worked a Delphox into his VGC team. I’m not convinced it’s a completely unviable Pokémon, but when pitted against my team it certainly was. The strong matchup my team had against his was just too much to overcome. Two Brave Bird users against a Brave Bird weak team spelled his doom.
Round 3- vs Emma (Cobalte)
Her team: Azumarill/Rotom-H/Mega Kangaskhan/Salamence/Amoonguss/Bisharp
Game 1: 7MAG-WWWW-WWW7-YA5H
Game 2: E5CG-WWWW-WWW7-JVCL
Emma was using the same team that CatGonk used to great success in both Sydney and Brisbane, with some slight tweaks. I was pretty worried going in because Emma has beaten me in the later rounds of tournaments several times in the past. Fortunately everything went according to plan and I won both games quite convincingly.
Round 4- vs Liam
His team: Rotom-H/Mega Mawile/Tyranitar/Murkrow/Garchomp/Roserade
Game 1: JSVG-WWWW-WWW7-YA4U
Game 2: JD6G-WWWW-WWW7-JVDV
This was another unknown who took me to three games. I remember how a couple of years ago I knew pretty much every single VGC player in Victoria- the good and the bad. It really is extraordinary how immensely the local scene has grown recently. Murkrow was a bit annoying here, but didn’t really cause too many dramas. The thing that lost me the second game was wasting my Staraptor to Final Gambit Garchomp first turn, removing my Roserade solution. His Roserade was carrying Specs and one-shotted my Politoed with Giga Drain to bring itself back beyond KO range after I managed to get it in the red. I adjusted my strategy to not get curb stomped by Roserade in game three and took the win.
Round 5- vs Matthew
His team: Mega Kangaskhan/Garchomp/Salamence/Amoonguss/Mega Mawile/Rotom-H
This game went pretty much according to plan. I used a combination of VolTurn and rain offense to quickly wear down the opposing team.
Round 6- vs Jeremy
His team: Mega Mawile/Bisharp/Zoroark/Rotom-W/Salamence/Amoonguss
Zoroark was pretty weird, but he didn’t bring it, so fairly standard stuff here. Mega Mawile almost gave me a bit of trouble, but I took it out with a rather handy crit Hydro Pump from Lapras. I may well have still been able to win regardless though, as it wasn’t right at the end or anything. It eventually came down to Politoed/Lapras vs Rotom-W.
Round 7, Semifinal- vs Chris (The Batman)
His team: Garchomp/Mega Manectric/Mamoswine/Talonflame/Mega-Kangaskhan/Rotom-W
No video saved for this one, as it was on the big screen and I was therefore playing on Nintendo’s DS. Not sure if Chris has the video or not.
Chris is a player I’ve had very close matches with at a lot of tournaments, so I was very focussed in this game. Despite that, I still managed to mess up and use Surf on my Raichu, bringing it down to exactly 1HP. The low damage roll saved the day. Everything else in this match went perfectly for me. I predicted well from turn one and before long there wasn’t much he could do. It’s a shame we were pressed for time, because I think games two and three would have been quite a bit more interesting to see unfold.
Round 8, Final- vs Sam (Cypress)
His team: Rotom-W/Garchomp/Talonflame/Salamence/Bisharp/Mega Kangaskhan
I’m fairly confident my team as is can potentially beat Sam’s team, so this loss doesn’t prompt me to change anything significant. The first game got off to a bad start for me when Sam derped and forgot about Lightning Rod. I was expecting him to factor it into his decision making process, so when he didn’t it actually worked out in his favour funnily enough. Then I made a prediction that was far too risky by banking on a Fake Out that never happened.
In the second game I made even more terrible choices, like allowing my Staraptor to die turn one to Bisharp’s Sucker Punch, which was a pretty obvious move I should have seen coming. There were a few other odd choices on my part as well. I think I was a bit tired and overwhelmed that I’d actually made it to the finals. Next time I’ve got to keep my head in the game for just a little bit longer to nab that Worlds invite from Nationals in July!
So overall, the day was a huge success, both for me and for the local Pokémon community. This year’s Regionals has had a way more positive response than last year’s competition regarding all aspects of how the day was run. Kudos to the folks at Nintendo Australia for taking notice of the demand for this sort of thing down here and putting in the effort to make it happen. Everybody really appreciates it.
Moving forward to Nationals, I think I could potentially use this team again and do well. I was worried it wouldn’t be as good in a best of three format, but I still managed to pull it off quite well most of the time. I also managed to make very effective use of every single one of my team members at one point or another in the tournament, which is encouraging considering Lucario and Talonflame were fairly last minute additions. Looking at the Australian Regionals usage stats though, I think I may build a new team that hard counters Kangaskhan and Mawile a bit better. Whether I’ll do that using something relatively standard or by coming up with another more creative team is yet to be determined.
Congratulations again to Sam on his victory. We both made some misplays I think, but ultimately mine were the more important ones. I look forward to having another chance to play everyone come July.
Written by Prof. Teak