Hi there. My name is Brendan Webb and this was my first season competing in the VGC Season. Today I will be talking about my Top 8 placement at the 2015 Australian National Championships. I have never really introduced myself to the VGC community so I will give a brief introduction about myself.
I live in Tasmania, located as a state in Australia. This is Australia’s third season competing officially in the VGC format and our first year having Premier Challenges. My first event was a Premier Challenge on May 24th where I came first at that event. I earned my first 40 Championship Points (CP) ever and I was very proud. The team here had many issues but incorporated some of my favourite Pokémon at the time. However this is now seen by me as inconsistent and thus considered incomplete. The team was Mega-Metagross, Hydreigon, Arcanine, Gastrodon, Virizion and Zapdos. Regardless though this was my first step into building a semi-decent team.
Anyway I had wanted to use Scarf Tyranitar for a few weeks leading to Aus Nats and had not much success incorporating it into any team I tried. This was when Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng (His channel is here and I recommend going to it as it helps me a lot) showed a variant of what would soon be known as the Japanese Sand team, which had the core of Sand Rush Excadrill, Choice Scarf Tyranitar and Special Mega Salamence. His team gave me inspiration and I went and started building off this core I had seen. Now I originally thought Nicholas Borghi (LightCore) thought of this idea which was an error on my part. Then I stupidly assumed Aaron made it. A Japanese user had actually posted a picture of his team on his Twitter and this was the origination of the idea, which took me a fortnight to discover. But the team the Japanese user had included Assault Vest Azumarill, Rocky Helmet Amoonguss and Aegislash. So this was where the idea of the team originated from.
Breakdown of the article
- The Team Building Phase
- The Team
- The Strategies
- The Day Before Swiss
- Day 1: Swiss
- Day 2: Top Cut of 16
- Overall Experience And Closing Moments
The Team Building Phase
Now I tested the team but ran Will-O-Wisp Rotom-W as like Cybertron’s version but I had a few issues with the team. I disliked how Rotom-W would often take damage before it could burn something. I did not like Amoonguss and Aegislash was not something I was comfortable with. I felt people would start to bring ways to counter it since it exploded with popularity after a few days. This concerned me, and I felt the best way to counter the rapidly popularized weather was to run something that was similar but had members that worked the same roles but differently.
I decided that I wanted to try out some other Pokémon to fill the last two options and see what I could do with Rotom-W. Now this is where the MVP of the team was found: Rage Powder Volcarona. I have always liked the fire moth and this little guy made the cut for the team. I looked at what it could do and it seemed to fit better with both working for Tyranitar and Salamence. It had key resistances to Fighting-Type and Ice-Type moves. It takes neutral damage from Ground-Type moves but it does compound to the Landorus-Therian weakness. However as I will discuss later with my play style it generally worked well for the team. So I now had 5 Pokémon on the team. But on testing I saw fairies gave me more issues and I needed checks/counters to Gastrodon/Swampert, and something that checked Mega Kangaskhan and Landorus-T. Ferrothorn became my last Pokemon for the team. Rocky Helmet and Iron Barbs hurt the latter Pokémon, and Power Whip hurts the 4x Grass-weak Pokémon.
The topic of why I chose these changes came up after Nationals and addressing it here is the best course of action. Landorus-T did give the team issues, as did Heatran, and since then I have swapped Excadrill out for another Pokemon to improve this match-up. But I still believe the team I chose was preferable for my play style rather than using Amoonguss instead of Volcarona.
I also felt Mega Kangaskhan went through the team a bit too easily, with Volcarona being a bit more of insurance against the most prominent Mega Pokémon.
The team had multiple strategies, which means in a BO3 format I had many ways of dealing with multiple threats, which meant even though my opponent might know a certain amount of information about my team. I still had more methods in how I can battle my opponent. I will go through and explain what each strategy did, and if it was used during Nationals, where and how it occurred.
The team has some mind game strategies designed for the rounds of swiss. Because Rotom-W normally is seen with Will-O-Wisp, and Volcarona is not seen very much (let alone running Will-O-Wisp), if I lead with these two against a Mega Kangaskhan, the obvious play is to Fake Out Rotom-W, so I could instead Burn Mega Kangaskhan with Volcarona’s Will-O-Wisp, which fortunately I could use in Round 6. My Will-O-Wisp connecting gave me the best momentum shift I think I had in the whole tournament.
Mega Kangaskhan was never once a threat during the whole Tournament bar when I faced Nathan Farrugia who ran Power-Up Punch Kangaskhan and that became a threat once it had gotten the boost. But Volcarona and Ferrothorn both dealt with Kangaskhan effectively, either burning with Flame Body/ Will-O-Wisp or doing serious damage with Rocky Helmet/Iron Barbs.
Designated Lead Strategies
I know some people argue that you should pick only what you need as safe leads against your opponents. But after playing enough games you will realize you choose certain leads for certain teams. Acknowledging this face, I went and planned my leads for different teams so when it came to the competition, I could start planning for the late game as soon as the first turn was underway. Of course this is a perfect world scenario and factors like stress can affect my gameplay and thinking. But having these leads can give me more time to think about what my win conditions are for the game.
Firstly Rotom-W and Tyranitar are good leads, as they can cover a lot of types in general, with other team members being in the back to help with switching. Rotom-W KOs 44 HP Landorus-T and has a damage roll on those EV’d to survive Bisharp’s +1 Life Orb Sucker Punch. Rotom-W can paralyse things if Tyranitar has a bad match-up just to help more in the late game.
Other leads can be Volcarona paired with Rotom-W, Mega Salamence or Ferrothorn. I do not think I ever led Volcarona and Tyranitar as Fake Out hurts Tyranitar and gives away Rage Powder for no reason in this case.
Rotom-W and Volcarona can be good to set up lots of Thunder Waves to let everything have an easier time later during the game. But this is a very passive lead and does not have much offensive pressure. But the Thunder Wave pressure is good against fast teams.
Volcarona and Mega Salamence can be good for having the double Protect first turn to scout. I can choose their moves from this point depending on what my opponent did and how they may move now. Volcarona helps remove Salamence’s Ice issue and gives Salamence some breathing space to let out some noise (Hyper Voice).
Volcarona and Ferrothorn is to get some early game pressure on by making Ferrothorn a threat with Leech Seed. Ferrothorn also can hurt fast Pokemon by using Gyro Ball effectively, 2HKOing quite a bit of the metagame. Power Whip also helps deal with Milotic and other Water-Type Pokémon.
My Play style
After going through the tournament I could start to see how I played: I have a strong emphasis on Dual-Typed Pokémon, requiring designated type cores, and I like to switch a lot in my games to get a good check for my opponents’ team members. I feel most teams need a Grass-Type Pokémon to help against Gastrodon and Swampert teams, as both have excellent coverage and my team especially hated Gastrodon, with it hitting so much of my team for Super Effective damage.
Issues Present With The Team
Trick Room was an issue, and Heatran was the major weakness present to the team, with only Rotom-W the only decent check to TR Heatran. Scarf Landorus-T is an issue too, although a lot of the team outspeeds the Assault Vest variety. I went 7-2 in swiss. My first loss was in round 4 to a TR Heatran Mega Gardevoir team. Round 9 was a loss to the eventual champion, who also ran a Japanese Sand team.
Another issue is the fact that most Pokémon have an inaccurate move. This team relies on these moves to function correctly and this means the team will lose games due to RNG. This is a fact and it cost me in the final game for Top 8. Every move was there for a reason but it means the team is weak in that sense.
One interesting fact about the team is that I never used Excadrill during the whole championship, which I feel is a point to my play style. I would recommend switching to something that helps against both Heatran and Landorus-T a bit better.
The Day Before Swiss
The day before Swiss was the main registration day, with the TCG swiss being played in the meantime. We started to line up to put in our details. I had a senior and his father get in the line behind me and we talked about how this was his son’s first major event while we waited. I gave advice for the kid and tried to help out the guy and his strategy. By the time we hit the start of the line, we had managed to talk about the location and our personal lives. We had a few small tournaments and I got to meet some of the most amazing Australian VGC Players. I met Phil Nguyen (Boomguy), Nihal Noor (UchihaX96), Arvin Banerjee (EspyyVGC) and countless others. But I do have to keep things short, so my apologies to those who I did not include. It was a really fun day and I was feeling so excited for what Nationals would bring to the table tomorrow.
Day 1: Swiss
The big day had arrived and we starting to fill the place in at around 9:30am. Registration closed a little after 10am. From here we began to start the gruelling 9 rounds of BO3. The expected time to finish was 10pm for the Masters division. I never wrote down names until round 7, but I found out a few names after the event. I also did not write down what team members I brought, as I was concerned on my writing speed.
This player I gave my notes to as well so he could improve on his performance, because he left a Toxic Cresselia as his last Pokémon in our second game when I had my Ferrothorn (Which it could do nothing to) and two other Pokémon still. I do not remember any other Pokémon on his team, but I think he did better and went 5-4 or something. But I was glad that I could help him! We played two games with me being the victor in both. (1-0)
Round 2 With Brendan Sims
This was a super intense match and I enjoyed it a lot. Defiantly one of the best for the day. He ran a team of Bulky Mega Kangaskhan, Amoonguss, Scarf Hydreigion, Gengar, Thundurus and Blaziken. I remember he led the first game with Amoongus and Kangaskhan. The first game was really hard, as my team struggled with Speed Boost Life Orb Blaziken as I realized. The first game goes to me in the end, with Will-O-Wisp Volcarona doing work. In the second, Brendan came back and won quite convincingly. The third was very close, with Thunder Wave Rotom-W doing work in the late game. I managed to get around my Salamence being paralyzed by his Thundurus-I, with me making a good call and his Kangaskhan’s Fake Out hitting my Volcarona and being burnt in the process. He was running out of time and made the call to Fake Out, where Double Edge would have won him the game instead. The end came to Rotom-W hitting a Hydro Pump against Blaziken in the final turn. I knock out Blaziken and seal up round 2. (2-0)
In Round 3 my opponent had Garchomp, Mega Venusaur, (presumed Mega) Kangaskhan, Gastrodon, Thundurus-I and Heatran. I have few details, but I found out during the two games that he had a non-Rindo Berry Gastrodon. He also predicted my swapping my Salamence in one turn but I had no reason to and the game was closed up. Defiantly a fun game. (3-0)
Round 4 with Matthew Jiwa
This was a terrible match up right from the get go with the team made of Mega Gardevoir, Garchomp, Rotom-W, Amoonguss, Scrafty and Heatran. Going through the first game I suddenly realized I had a crippling weakness to Trick Room Heatran, as he blew through me and I had no chance to recover from Heatran’s Heat Waves. I remember the second game he double targeted my Rotom-W with Mega Gardevoir’s Psychic and a move from Heatran which got the KO. He sealed it up from there. Mat managed to get to 11th and he had a great team. (3-1)
This player was from New Zealand I found out and his team was Talonflame, Scrafty, Arcanine, Metagross, Milotic and Breloom. I mainly remember I gave his Milotic a +2 boost from its ability Competitive by Salamence’s Intimdate. However he had never seen Japanese Sand and switched in Breloom to a Hyper Voice. Needless to say he lost that game and I closed up the second although it was tight, which we ended at 2-0. Scrafty was a threat and he made sure to use it well! (4-1)
Round 6 with Stephan Lowings
This guy was friends with Brendan Sims and it was a really cool match. His team was Mega Kangaskhan, Life Orb Blaziken, Sitrus Zapdos, Scarfed Landorus-T, Leftovers Milotic and Aegislash. He was a good player but did not expect support Volcarona and I played that to my advantage. Either the first or second game I led with Rotom-W and Volcarona, with him having Kangaskhan and Milotic. He went for a Fake Out onto Rotom-W which I predicted and Protected against. I then went for the Will-O-Wisp and burnt his Mega Kangaskhan. He lost a huge amount of momentum and I carried through from there. His team was extremely well built and I was scared of his Blaziken. He made some great predictions and called some of my switches. I believe went 2-0 in this, but I might be wrong. What I do remember is that it was an awesome game. (5-1)
Round 7 With Nihal Noor
This match was what I had known would happen during the tournament: a Sand team mirror match. I knew going into this would be difficult against such a strong opponent too. His team was composed of Landorus-I, Rotom-W, Amoonguss, Special Mega Salamence, Tyranitar and Aegislash. We went to three battles and I won the last two. Predictions were made and in the end Thunder Wave ad Rock Slide helped seal the deal in the final turns of the last game. I could not believe I had beaten Nihal and It was an honourable game. It was a shame he missed Top Cut, maybe next year at Nats! (6-1)
Round 8 with Nathan Farrugia
Straight after battling one awesome guy to another. I met Nathan a few hours ago and we had chatted a bit. He was a super nice guy and I really wanted to get this win. I wanted to set up my top cut position and a win would help cement it here. He had a team of Landorus-T, Whimiscott, Mega Kangaskhan, Milotic, Zapdos and Talonflame. His Whimsicott looked like an issue for my team, so I bought Sand every battle to remove the Sash and hurt Talonflame as well. I know I bought Ferrothorn, Tyranitar, Special Salamence, Rotom-W and Volcarona for all of these games. I distinctly remember how I was concerned over his well-built team, and I feared a Heat Wave Zapdos. But after battling his team in the second game he revealed all his moves and he did not carry Heat Wave, which made Ferrothorn’s match up brilliant bar the Talonflame. The first game he had his -1 Talonflame crit my Salamence on a switch which he said to me it would. This set me back a bit and I lost game 1. He revealed Power-Up Punch in the second or third game and I fixed that by itimidating his Kang and going on the offensive. As I predicted he would not Sucker Punch. The battles were close and Tyranitar did a lot of work in this game. In the end I won with Tyranitar knocking out his two last Pokemon sealing up a 7-1 record. (7-1)
Round 9 with Matthew Roe
Little did I know this opponent would be the Champion at the Australian Nationals. But he also ran another Sand mirror match, which I was concerned about as Volcarona had a bad match-up. Interesting how he brought Excadrill and I never did during our 3 games. Matt liked to Double Protect in both our first games meaning he learned cruical information about team while I would go offensive or mixed, with one Pokémon Protecting or switching in the mixed case. He ran a mixed Salamence although I thought he was running Special like myself, and I was worried about how he would KO my Salamence with his own Draco Meteor when we both lead with them in our second game. Thunder Wave Rotom-W did immense work in this game and in the end I could not hold to his offense and lost to him ending my swiss record at 7-2. I was convinced I would not cut, but when the results were posted I had made 9th in swiss and would proceed to the Top Cut on the next day. (7-2)
Day 2: Top cut of 16
This was the deciding day on how far I could come. I was ecstatic to get this far and I was content with what I had achieved. But that did not mean I wanted to go home any time soon, so we were paired with our Top 16 opponents.
Top 16 Round With Alexander Poole
Alex had made top cut as well and it was really cool to meet him. He was a super swell guy and we had a good talk before we started. I was scared going into this match-up when I saw his team though. His team was made up of Rocky Helmet Amoonguss, Thundurus-I, Chople Heatran, Chesto Berry Rest Cresselia, Mega Kangaskhan and Physical Sitrus Berry Swampert. He had a Trick Room Heatran as well. We went to three matches and my notes show in at least one game he did not bring Kangaskhan. His Heatran was presumed to be Timid nature as it outsped my Volcarona and he ran Flamethower as his Fire-Type STAB move, which allowed me to get back into one of our games, as it meant I could make some plays with my Ferrothorn if the choice had to be made. The last few turns in our last game were crazy, and I got so hyped from it. He had used his Chesto Berry already in the game and he just used Rest again when Cresselia was on low health. At this moment, I had a a Tyranitar at about 40% in the back, with a low health Rotom-W and full health Salamence. I took out Cress’ partner and we were left at 3-2 in my favour. His Cresselia had Ice Beam but I knew it would not KO Salamence as he had used it in the last game and it had failed to do so. However he got a critical hit and my Mega went down. I was worried at this point but I brought Tyranitar back in, which cleaned up with a Crunch and a Thunderbolt from Rotom-W. I had now reached the Top 8.
Top 8 with Lionel Pryce
This was my closing battle to a wonderful event. My opponent and I were about to battle when we found out Phil and his opponent has American Cartridges and the Stream was incompatible with them, or something along those lines. So our battle was to be streamed for all who who were watching us. His team was composed off Mega Kangaskhan, Sitrus Zapdos, Scarf Landorus-T, Life Orb Heatran, Assault Vest Suicune and Rocky Helmet Amoongus. The first game I led with Salamence and Rotom-W against his Landorus-T and Suicune. Now his Intimidate went before mine which indicated Choice Scarf. I thought he would Tailwind and Rock Slide the first turn. So I switched Salamence into Tyranitar to gain momentum over his Pokemon. But he switched his Landous-T into Zapdos. Which instantly made me afraid of what was it’s role. I assumed Tailwind which made me question Suicune’s role in his team make up. However as he explained later, he brought it in to take what he assumed was an attack on his LAnodurs-T slot. Such as a Hydro Pump which does net the KO. His Suicune went for the snarl indicating he knew my Salamence was special and hurt my Rotom-W’s offensive pressure on his Suicune. I then went for the Thunder Wave on his Suicune as it would cripple his speed even if he has Tailwind up. I swap Rotom-W out to reset the stat drops and make a hard prediction on what he would do. Since his Suicune would not be doing anything well under Tailwind. I decided he would switch in his Landorus-T for it to get the Intimidate onto my Tyranitar. I Ice Punched the slot and get a good 80% onto his Landorus-T switch. Unfortunately I make some mistakes and all I can try to get is more information. I protected a few times and knocked out his Landorus-T to find out his last Pokemon was Heatran and he chose not to bring his Kangaskhan. Which concerned me as I brought my Volcarona for that very reason. So the next game I chose Ferrothorn over Volcarona and I did make some good plays. But the inaccuracy of Power Whip and a Critical Hit on my Rotom-W made me get behind a bit, and I made a mistake in not giving myself a chance to win by Rock Sliding. I forfeited when I realized I had no chance as I had no issues conceding to a better opponent. He was an excellent player and he made Top 4. Something he should be proud off!
Overall Experience And Closing Moments
The overall trip was incredible and has made me decide to go for Worlds next season, with myself going to attend all local PCs if possible and a Regional or two depending on factors. I made some amazing friends and it gave me something to add to my VGC résumé. I hope you enjoyed the report and everything I talked about.
I would like to credit Sam Pandelis (ZeldaVGC) as he gave me self-confidence going into the tournament, something as a player I lacked. He is a really good VGC player and I hope he does really well for future seasons.