A Snow Warning in July

My name is Ben Grissmer, also known as Chef. I’m relatively new VGC player, starting last summer when I went to the 2017 NA Internationals. If you know me, you know I mostly stick to using the best two weathers in the game: sand and hail. In my short time playing, all my notable finishes have been using one or the other:

  • Day 2 NA Internats ’17 (35th) – Stoutland/Gigalith
  • 6-2 (11th) Memphis Regionals ’17 – Vanilluxe/Sandslash
  • 6-2 (22nd) Charlotte Regionals ’18 – Mega Tyranitar
  • and finally, the team I’m writing about today: Day 2 NA Internats ’18 (23rd) – Mega Abomasnow

Team’s Achievements

  • Day 2 NA Internats ’18 (23rd)

The Team

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Blizzaroi (Abomasnow-Mega) @ Abomasite
Ability: Snow Warning
Level: 50
EVs: 220 HP / 4 Atk / 148 Def / 132 SpA / 4 SpD
Quiet Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Blizzard
– Energy Ball
– Ice Shard
– Protect

Mega Abomasnow is a powerhouse, sporting 132 base attacking stats and 90/105/105 defenses. Its base 30 Speed means it will nearly always go first inside Trick Room, and can fire off powerful Blizzards and Energy Balls. It also has the luxury of being able to set hail twice. The EV spread allows it to take a Mega Metagross Iron Head 100% of the time, while still being able to 2HKO Amoonguss. There are a few options for the 3rd moveslot, but I went with Ice Shard in order to pick off things at low health outside of Trick Room.

  • 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Iron Head vs. 220 HP / 148 Def Mega Abomasnow: 162-192 (83.9 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 132+ SpA Mega Abomasnow Blizzard vs. 252 HP / 32 SpD Amoonguss: 168-198 (76 – 89.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Aguav Berry recovery

Tarenbulle (Araquanid) @ Waterium Z
Ability: Water Bubble
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Liquidation
– Bug Bite
– Substitute
– Protect

The spider is the perfect partner for Abomasnow in Trick Room. It hits insanely hard, and the Z move can one shot a good portion of the meta. Water-type coverage paired with Ice/Grass can hit anything. Bug Bite is a great move with the amount of Pokémon carrying berries. Substitute lets you take advantage of an opponent’s passive play. This is especially nice against an Incineroar you expect to switch, because when it returns it can’t Intimidate or use Fake Out against Araquanid, saving valuable Trick Room turns.

Gueriaigle (Braviary) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Defiant
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Brave Bird
– Superpower
– Return
– U-turn

This isn’t the usual scarfed bird you see on Trick Room teams, but I really liked this set. No one expects Choice Scarf on Braviary. This surprise factor can lead to quick KOs, and the less room the opponent has to maneuver once you get Trick Room up the better. Even if the opponent knows the set, it still puts on a ton of pressure, often forcing them to choose between dealing with the Braviary or letting Trick Room get up. Brave Bird and Superpower are standard, U-turn allows Braviary to chip something while being preserved for late game clean up. Return is STAB, and at +1 has a good chance to OHKO Tapu Koko, which is why I chose it over something like Rock Slide.

  • +1 252 Atk Braviary Return vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Koko: 144-169 (98.6 – 115.7%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO

Félinferno (Incineroar) @ Aguav Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 28 Atk / 60 Def / 156 SpD / 28 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Superpower

This is a relatively standard Incineroar set. The EV spread allows it to always survive a Tapu Koko Z move in terrain. How much speed to use was a dilemma, because you want to have first go at Fake Out to help Trick Room go up, but once it’s up it is beneficial to attack first. I don’t think there is a correct answer. I chose to use Superpower over Low Kick to do the most damage to opposing Incineroar, the biggest threat to Abomasnow.

  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 156 SpD Incineroar in Electric Terrain: 169-199 (84.5 – 99.5%) – guaranteed 2HKO
  • 28+ Atk Incineroar Superpower vs. 220 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 124-148 (62.6 – 74.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 228 HP / 44 Def / 32 SpA / 204 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Thunderbolt
– Foul Play
– Recover
– Trick Room

Porygon2 was my Trick Room setter of choice. With its massive bulk, single weakness, and reliable recovery, it is often able to hang around and twist the dimensions multiple times if needed. The spread survives a Helping Hand Ludicolo Z-Hydro Pump in rain, although it mostly just gives it all around bulk. I decided to forgo Ice Beam, as I already have sufficient Ice coverage. Instead, I went with Foul Play, which gives the team another option to deal with things like Metagross and Belly Drum Snorlax.

  • 252+ SpA Ludicolo Helping Hand Hydro Vortex (185 BP) vs. 228 HP / 204+ SpD Eviolite Porygon2 in Rain: 157-186 (83 – 98.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 0 Atk Porygon2 Foul Play vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Metagross: 92-110 (58.9 – 70.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Tokorico (Tapu Koko) @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Dazzling Gleam
– Volt Switch
– Protect

A standard Z move Tapu Koko. This is the Pokemon I brought to the fewest of games, but still provided value. Tapu Koko serves as a good second option for a fast mode if Braviary has a bad matchup or the opponent has many answers for Trick Room. It also can switch opponent’s terrain, which can be helpful against certain teams.

Team Play

In general, this team’s strategy is to set up Trick Room and sweep. However, with Braviary and Tapu Koko, you can also pressure outside of Trick Room.
Porygon2 should be chosen in nearly every game. The remaining three mons are usually either a fast mon with two slow ones, or all three Trick Room mons, depending on the opposing team.

The goal should try to position to keep pressure both before Trick Room goes up, during Trick Room, and if possible, after Trick Room ends.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

Combination:

This is the dynamic duo. When together in Trick Room, this pair is almost unstoppable. No Pokémon resists the combination of Grass, Ice, and Water attacks. It is incredibly difficult to maneuver around these two, especially with Abomasnow throwing out double target Blizzards and Araquanid threatening to set up a Substitute. However, it’s important to make the most of your Trick Room turns as the pair becomes much less threatening when the twisted dimensions return to normal.

Lead:

This was my most common lead. Porygon2 threatens to Trick Room right away, while Braviary is often threatening OHKOs or at least big damage onto opposing mons. Rarely will an unsuspecting opponent lead something that can deal with both. Braviary can either U-turn immediately if there is a safe switch in, or just attack and get some damage off. Often, opponents will target the Braviary, allowing it to attack, then get knocked out, giving you a free switch to a Trick Room sweeper as Porygon2 sets it.

Lead:

This is a strong lead against teams that don’t look like they have strong answers to Trick Room, and Incineroar Fake Out support will be all Porygon2 needs to set Trick Room. This is also an option against teams Braviary struggles against. For example, I usually lead this against “CHALK” style teams. Additionally, if an opposing team requires all three Trick Room attackers to be brought (e.g., if they have Ferrothorn) this is the best lead.

Alternate Lead:

With this lead, instead of trying to get Trick Room up right away, the goal is to support Braviary as it wreaks havoc on the opponent, making it easier to clean up with Trick Room late game. This is an especially strong Game 2 or Game 3 lead, switching it up on opponents who have caught on to the previous leads. Often people will feel comfortable leading Incineroar to shut down Braviary with a Fake Out once they know it can not Protect, and by being able to match Fake Out you put yourself in a commanding position.

Team Match-ups

Team Preview:
Look for what combination of mons can beat the opponent in Trick Room. Often this will just be Araquanid + Abomansnow, but sometimes Incineroar is necessary. Always have the necessary tools to deal with an opponent In Trick Room. If there is room for a fast mon, look at Braviary’s matchup. Can it do strong damage against a lot of the opponent’s team? If so, bring it. If not, see if Tapu Koko or Incineroar can help more.

Be wary of Lele/Metagross or other strong combinations that can KO Porygon2. Have a switch in for Porygon2, to take nukes aimed at it, if possible, such as Incineroar for Psychic spam or Araquanid for strong fighting moves. Then let Porygon2 do its job once those threats are dealt with.

Specific Situation: Araquanid (+Abomasnow) vs. Incineroar in Trick Room.
Set a Substitute if it hasn’t been revealed. They will switch out. They want to Intimidate and use Fake Out later to stall Trick Room. If you have a sub they can’t do either. This is usually the right play even if it means leaving Abomasnow vulnerable. They won’t Flare Blitz you. If they do, let me know so I can hire them as my personal VGC coach.

Once substitute is revealed, use it far less often. You can usually catch opponents overextending trying to call a Substitute and take advantage of it.

Good Match-ups

Kommo-o:
Braviary puts in insane work against Kommo-o teams. Brave Bird surprise outspeeds and OHKOs Kommo-o and Scarf Tapu Bulu, does ~90% to Mega Gengar, and gets boosted by their Incineroar. Tapu Koko provides a Dragon immunity, and Abomasnow threatens big damage in Trick Room. The one thing to watch out for is a possible Clefairy, as redirection can be problematic.

Standard Metagross / Standard Kangaskhan:
Most standard teams are not able to take on an Araquanid and Abomansow in Trick Room. It is by no means a free win, but if you can position yourself well and play around any techs you should have an advantage.

Bad Match-ups

Ammonguss + Nihilego:
Rock is clearly pretty strong against this team, and Nihilego can be an issue. Usually, once Trick Room is up, Araquanid can take care of it, but when paired with Amoonguss, this becomes far more difficult. Abomasnow is key here, as it can 2HKO Amoonguss, cannot be Spored, and takes a Power Gem. Once Blizzard KOs Amoonguss it can’t redirect Liquidations.

Certain Hyper-Offense:
Some hyper offensive teams can really cause problems. This is especially true when things can outspeed Braviary while simultaneously having Trick Room answers. Good examples of this include Torkoal/Liligant and Pheromosa/Smeargle.

Rock Slide:
“Porygon2 flinched and couldn’t move!”
All joking aside, Rock Slide is super effective against 2/3 of the team, leaving little room to play around it. This means an unfortunate Rock Slide flinch can be even more devastating than normal.

Rundown of Tournament

Round 1 – Adam Baltrusaitis (WW)
M-Manetric / Tapu Fini / Incineroar / Tyranitar / Ammonguss / Porygon2
This team had potential to be problematic, especially with the opposing Porygon2 being able to reverse Trick Room. However, Abomasnow/Araqanid were able to sweep in two close games.

Round 2 – Matt Everett (WW)
M-Charizard Y / M-Kangaskhan / Landorus-T / Incineroar / Venusaur / AzumarillI was able to get a surprise turn 1 KO on Venusaur with Braviary, and the team just didn’t have many Trick Room answers.

Round 3 – Joohwan Kim (WW)
M-Blaziken / Tapu Lele / Liligant / Torkoal / Stakataka / Oranguru
This was a really tough matchup. In Game 1 I was able to steal a close game by getting up a free Substitute. In Game 2, a fortunate Rock Slide miss put me in a good position. I don’t think I could win this matchup again. This was also the only round where Tapu Koko played an important role.

Round 4 – James Nowdomski (WLW)
M-Swampert / Tapu Lele / Incineroar / Politoed / Braviary / Raichu
This was a strong matchup for me. The only issue was the Tapu Lele with Taunt, but I was able to play around that. Once Trick Room was up Abomasnow/Araquanid had no problems. Side TV stream (G3): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9oFDuNSsoU

Round 5 – Sean Worcester (LWW)
M-Charizard Y / M-Metagross / Tapu Lele / Landorus-T / Amoonguss / Nihilego
Amoonguss and Nihilego is a nightmare to play against, and I got absolutely demolished in Game 1. In Games 2 and 3 I was able to use Incineroar and Abomasnow effectively to break the core. These two games were my best played of the entire tournament.

Round 6 – Justin Crubaugh (LL)
M-Gengar / Tapu Fini / Landorus-T / Incineroar / Kartana / Tyranitar
In team preview, I actually thought I had a positive matchup. Things were looking good in Game 1, but Justin played phenomenally, and, with the help of Roar Incineroar, was able to take the first game. I put myself in a good position in Game 2, but a Rock Slide flinch prevented me from getting a second Trick Room up, sealing the set.

Round 7 – Arash Ommati (WLW)
M-Salamence / Tapu Fini / Incineroar / Nidoqueen / Kartana / Cresselia
I recognized Arash’s team from Japan Nats, and I knew I had a good matchup against it. Still, it was intimidating to face a World Champion. He was able to take Game 2 with some well-played Ally Switches, but besides that the set went smoothly. One more win to make Day 2.

Round 8 – Kyle Livinghouse (LL)
M-Gengar / Tapu Fini / Landorus-T / Incineroar / Kartana / Tyranitar
The same team I faced in my Round 6 loss. I still felt I had the matchup, and was determined to come out on top this time. But, that didn’t work out as planned. Game 1 I was in a strong position, but Kyle hard outplayed me and came out with a win. In Game 2 I made a boneheaded decision and literally forfeited after turn 1. I had one more chance to make it.

Round 9 – Beau Berg (WW)
M-Metagross / Tapu Fini / Landorus-T / Incineroar / Zapdos / Amoonguss
I was happy to get paired with a standard Metagross team in my win-and-in, and I was able to take advantage. I was thrilled and relieved to have made my second Day 2 at NA Internats in as many tries.

Round 10 – Len Deuel (LL)
M-Salamence / Tyranitar / Excadrill / Amoonguss / Gyarados / Cresselia
I knew Len’s incredibly bulky sand team could give me trouble if I wasn’t able to use Trick Room effectively. Game 1 his bulk was able to get him through 4 turns of Trick Room and finish me off. Game 2 I played better and got into a decent spot, but Tyranitar got a game-winning flinch on my Porygon2 trying to get up a second Trick Room. Either way, Len played the matchup very well.

Round 11 – Travis Borror (WW)
Mega Gengar / Tapu Fini / Incineroar / Zapdos / Ninetales-A / Krookodile
This was as good a matchup as I could hope for. I was able to get Trick Room up and sweep both games. Side TV stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9AUVD5qmpDc

Round 12 – Justin Crubaugh (WW)
M-Gengar / Tapu Fini / Landorus-T / Incineroar / Kartana / Tyranitar
A rematch against a Day 1 loss. I finally was able to play the matchup how I thought I should be able to. I made the right calls when I needed to, and was able to take two very close games. Side TV stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sAIV8efb-4k

Round 13 – Jake Powell (WLL)
M-Salamence / Tapu Koko / Incineroar / Gastrodon / Kartana / Cresselia
This team would be a great matchup if it wasn’t for the Gastrodon, but with it, it was a pretty even mathcup. I was able to play around it and win Game 1, and came so close to winning Game 2, but couldn’t pull it out. I would’ve had to play really well in Game 3 to win the set, but I played poorly, and was defeated decisively. Side TV stream: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXBV-ciQ5zI

Round 14 – Ian Mcaughlin (LL)
M-Charizard Y / Tapu Lele / Pheromosa / Smeargle / Kartana / Nihilego
I had no matchup. Zero. I hadn’t faced this team composition in testing and it showed. The set was over in about 10 minutes. It was a tough way to end a great tournament run.

Conclusion

This team is incredibly fun, but it’s also strong. Internationals is a stressful tournament, but I can honestly say that I had fun playing Pokemon in every round. The team has a ton of favorable matchups. Even in disadvantageous matchups, you (almost) always have a good chance to come out on top.

I think this team has potential going forward, although it is slightly less effective when opponents know what to expect. However, I think the combination of Abomasnow /Araquanid can be very successful, and I challenge people to use them on a team that’s even better than mine!

As for me, I think in this NA Internationals I was able to prove to myself that my Day 2 finish last year was no fluke, and I am capable of competing with the best in the game. I’ll be looking to do even bigger things in the 2019 season.

Finally, I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone and anyone who helped me either test this team or made internats such a fun time!

Special shoutouts to Daniel (@_TTT444_), Brandon (@Bright_Size), Leonard (@DaWoblefet), and Josh (@FeintGWP), and the Puppies.

Credit to autobottesla for the featured image

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