An American Invasion into Prague! Top 8 Team Report

Hello everyone, Pd0nZ here. Long time player, first time report writer. In this report, I am going to talk about the team that I piloted to a 7-0 Swiss run in the Prague Special Event. Before I do so, however, you may be wondering how an American even ended up in Prague in the first place, especially with Charlotte Regionals both the same weekend and a lot closer to me than Prague.

For those unfamiliar with my history in the game, I have used this game to travel to many places that I haven’t been to, and may not have visited otherwise. These are generally urban areas with tourist attractions or places with historic value. The city of Prague, with its rich history and the unique opportunity to play an event there, was something I could not pass up (even for a Special Event) as compared to the closer Charlotte Regionals, and I was able to make the proper arrangements to get the trip to happen.

Team’s Achievements

The weekend before this event, Benjamin Tan won a Singapore MSS with a team that had been getting some play: Mega Metagross, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Porygon2, and Araquanid. This core had picked up strength off of Ben Markham’s (BensterVGC) Malmö Regional Finals appearance, as well as Edu’s prior use of a similar team, with Landorus-T seeing use over the Bulu. With the release of Incineroar’s Hidden Ability, this team patched up one of the Bulu version’s few weaknesses: a lack of Intimidate. I exchanged a few messages with both Ben Tan and Nicole Saeed (TamtamVGC) about the team, since Ben had used it, and Nicole played Benster in Malmö Swiss and Top Cut. Nicole was able to suggest Venusaur over Tapu Bulu to me, and after thinking about the team and how it functioned, I realized that it would be a fantastic general addition, as well as a great Pokémon to have in the mirror.

The Team

Link to Paste

Araquanid-Totem @ Figy Berry
Ability: Water Bubble
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 188 Atk / 68 Def
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Liquidation
– Bug Bite
– Protect
– Wide Guard

  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Rock Slide vs. 252 HP / 68 Def Araquanid: 76-90 (43.4 – 51.4%) — 5.1% chance to 2HKO

Standard Araquanid that can mostly take a hit from Landorus-T and deal damage back if needed. Wide Guard was a useful utility move at times, and Bug Bite was good for to remove, or just threaten to remove crucial berries. This was Totem Form to block the use of Sky Drop on Araquanid. Even though Sky Drop is rarely used on Araquanid, Totem Araquanid can freely switch into it, giving its partner an opening to attack when the Sky Drop fails. Totem Araquanid takes increased damage from Low Kick, but also takes reduced damage from Heavy Slam from Celesteela. With the low usage of Kangaskhan in this metagame, I felt that, overall, Totem was the way to go. In the future, with more people realizing that only small Araquanid can learn Sticky Web (which won the event I’m writing about!), regular Araquanid might be worth considering.

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

Mostly standard Tapu Koko. Taunt was chosen over Volt Switch and HP Ice to give me further help against redirection, Snorlax, and other Pokémon reliant on set up and disruption. There were a few situations where HP Ice may have been more useful, but there were more where Taunt was better to have. I did not miss Volt Switch at all in this tournament.

Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 92 Atk / 4 Def / 116 SpD / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– Low Kick
– Fake Out

  • 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Hydro Vortex (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 116 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 170-204 (84.1 – 100.9%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO (off of Muddy Water)

This spread also gives Incineroar a roughly 75% chance to take a Gigavolt Havoc + Thunderbolt in Electric Terrain from Tapu Koko, allowing Incineroar to KO back using Knock Off followed by Flare Blitz.

This Incineroar ended up being on the bulky side and had a decent amount of speed creep. However, I still had to deal with a speed tie in one set and was actually outsped in a 2nd set. Berry, Z Move, and Assault Vest Incineroar are all legitimate options at this point in the meta, and I saw all 3 of them during my run. This one was Assault Vest based in part on the above calcs. Incineroar’s 4th move is also the subject of debate. I chose Low Kick to help me in the mirror and against Fighting weak Pokémon such as Mega Tyranitar. However, depending on the item, other moves are also viable, such as Protect and U-turn.

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 140 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Thunderbolt
– Trick Room
– Recover

Porygon2 does Porygon2 things: take hits, sets up Trick Room, recovers off damage, threatens Ice weak Pokémon, and otherwise chips things. The EVs allow P2 to take Hydro Vortex in rain from Ludicolo and the follow up Scald from Pelipper. However, Brine variants will still get the KO. Since I did not run into that specific combo in the tournament (even though I faced a rain team), its EVs ended up functioning as general bulk.

Metagross @ Metagrossite
Ability: Tough Claws
Level: 50
EVs: 124 HP / 132 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Iron Head
– Ice Punch
– Stomping Tantrum
– Protect

  • 252+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 124 HP / 0 Def Mega Metagross: 146-174 (85.3 – 101.7%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Mostly standard Mega Metagross, but I opted for extra bulk to better take Incineroar’s Flare Blitz. This spread came in handy during this tournament, as I did survive a Flare Blitz with regular Metagross at 1 HP. The extra HP can also assist in taking additional attacks.

Venusaur @ Venusaurite
Ability: Chlorophyll
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 124 Def / 76 SpA / 52 SpD / 12 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Energy Ball
– Sludge Bomb
– Protect
– Leech Seed

Spread came out of the Trainer Tower Damage Calculator, except 8 HP was moved to Speed to both speed creep and cover a very rare situation where this Venusaur outspeeds neutral Pheromosa in the Sun before Mega Evolving, even though it would lose that ability to do so the turn it Mega Evolves. Energy Ball was chosen over Giga Drain because various calculations showed Energy Ball had the potential to 2HKO various Pokémon, while Giga Drain was a 3HKO on the same mons. Giga Drain’s healing was unnecessary, as healing was taken care of by Leech Seed. This choice worked out in tournament as I needed to 1 v 1 a Porygon2 at one point, and Energy Ball’s Sp. Def drop side effect onto the Porygon2 won me the game when I would have lost on Your Time otherwise.

Venusaur was undoubtedly the MVP of the team and my tournament run. It’s superior typing, ability, bulk, and Leech Seed recovery gave it the ability to win games by itself, which it did multiple times. I stalled out Mega Metagrosses, a Mega Gyarados, a Cresselia without Psychic, and various other Pokémon throughout the tournament. Its Grass typing gave it the ability to ignore Amoonguss and its Poison typing helped greatly against Fairy types. When the mirror matchup used Tapu Bulu and even an occasional Landorus-T, I found myself at an advantage, and Mega Venusaur would generally be the Pokémon that could drag me over the finish line for a win. This Pokémon was an absolute beast.

Team Play

During the day, I found myself bringing Mega Venusaur, Incineroar, Tapu Koko, and Porygon2 frequently, with Mega Metagross and Araquanid in play to cover specific matchups where I felt one of the other 4 Pokémon would be useless. The leads would be based on the matchup I was facing from my opponent and were not static. In general, this team was equipped to play 3 modes: Fast (Tapu Koko and Mega Metagross), Slow (Porygon2 and Araquanid), and Bulky Stall (Mega Venusaur in combination with any of the other Pokémon). Incineroar, regardless of the mode, provided great utility through Intimidate, Fake Out pressure, item removal, and a bulky switch in. As such, it could be splashed into any of the team’s 3 modes and function admirably.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

The fast mode of the team. These two, possessing the Z Crystal, the Mega Stone, and favorable Terrain, are led to get the jump on my opponent offensively. If I feel that my opponent does not have the capabilities to handle this pressure, I will lead this. I will also consider leading this if my opponent has Salamence and/or Tapu Lele, as this lead has advantages over both, and Venusaur is likely worthless in the set.

Sometimes, getting Mega Venusaur out quickly is paramount. Intimidate helps to increase Mega Venusaur’s already impressive physical bulk, and Fake Out support allows it to threaten either STAB attacks or Leech Seeds, which can be especially important if an opposing Pokémon has Substitute to otherwise block Leech Seed. Even if it forces a switch, the healing and damage can add up over time.

The Porygon2 is more specially bulky. Incineroar can help on the physical side with Intimidate, and Fake Out plus set up (in this case Trick Room) has been a staple of competitive Double Battles since Journey Across America (JAA) in 2006. Every Pokémon on this team can benefit from Trick Room except for Tapu Koko and Metagross (after it has Mega Evolved), so this can be a powerful combination to get the board positioning in my favor. It also helps that both Incineroar and Porygon2 can hit many common Pokémon for Super Effective damage.

This is more of an uncommon lead, but if the opponent has Charizard Y and no scarfed Landorus, it can work. It threatens the Charizard that would otherwise threaten the Venusaur, allowing the Venusaur to start setting up while Tapu Koko deals big damage. A lead of non-Scarfed Landorus and Charizard Y becomes tricky, however. Making the right call can put the team at an advantage, but the wrong call can see 2 possible KOs with a Sun-boosted Overheat and Earthquake. Be careful with this lead.

Team Match-ups

In Team Preview, I am mainly looking for Pokémon that can severely threaten the Venusaur, such as Salamence or Tapu Lele. Those 2 Pokémon can force my hand and make me bring Metagross instead, depending on the other teammates. Otherwise, I am trying to plot a plan in my head on how to weaken my opponent’s team to the point where Mega Venusaur can clean up late game through bulk and Leech Seed absorption, or if I can simply take the knockouts I need in a more conventional matter.
This team relies more on playing than flowcharting. Ultimately, it is a solid team that features a Fire, Water, Grass core, Bulk, positive terrain, and decent offensive capabilities. It allows the user to play the game. There aren’t many matchups where one can rely on a predetermined flow chart to take the victory.

Mega Metagross, Mega Tyranitar, Zapdos, Amoonguss, Landorus-T, Tapu Fini/Tapu Lele

This matchup comes down to which Tapu was chosen.

Fini: If it is Tapu Fini, Mega Venusaur should be able to do a lot of work here. There are few Super Effective attacks that can hit the Venusaur, Venusaur can ignore Amoonguss to Leech Seed and hit the Tyranitar and the Tapu Fini for Super Effective damage. Support can be used to protect the Venusaur and make its job easier. Tapu Koko can land a Z Move on 4 out of 6, and Incineroar can hit both Megas and Amoonguss for super effective damage.

Lele: The matchup vs Tapu Lele, on the other hand, is very difficult. Venusaur cannot KO Tapu Lele with a single Sludge Bomb. Amoonguss can do just enough redirection to let Tapu Lele deal lethal damage before it gets KOd. You may be forced to bring Metagross here to deal with Tapu Lele. The good news is that generally 3 of the opponent’s Pokémon are known (a Mega, Tapu Lele, Amoonguss), so there may be an opening to play around what the opponent is expected to do.

The “Mirror” (Tapu Koko, Incineroar, Porygon2, Araquanid, Metagross, Tapu Bulu)

Venusaur was added to this team in part to deal with the mirror. Use it! It has a positive matchup against all of the Pokémon on the team, unless Metagross has Zen Headbutt. Even then, the support Pokémon can help Venusaur get into winning board positions and take KOs.

Rain

This depends on which Pokémon the rain setter is. If it’s Politoed, Venusaur should have the advantage. If it’s Pelipper, both Venusaur and Araquanid are threatened by Hurricanes, and it is important to take care. Trick Room is the key to the matchup. If Porygon2 is able to set up Trick Room successfully, Rain will struggle to beat this team. It may be a good idea to leave Tapu Koko behind in this matchup, as Fake Out is important. Incineroar is Assault Vest, so it has enough special bulk to weather the storm, and getting Trick Room up is important. Incineroar helps to accomplish this better than Tapu Koko.

Rundown of Tournament

Round 1 vs Lilli Maier (1-6) WW
Serperior, Suicune, Tapu Koko, Celesteela, Charizard X, Persian

Round 2 vs Ikaros Olofsson (3-4) WW
Hawlucha, Greninja, Salazzle, Paras, Linoone, Volcarona

Round 3 vs Fevzi Azkan (4-3, T32) LWW
Ludicolo, Politoed, Incineroar, Mawile, Gothitelle, Tapu Bulu

I made an adjustment here to bring Regular Metagross after realizing I needed Mega Venusaur and Araquanid to cover the Rain mode. Porygon2 did not deal enough damage to the opposing team to be useful, especially since I could not switch freely, and Tapu Koko was too frail to function. Metagross’s spread came in handy in this set, as it survived a Flare Blitz from Incineroar with 1 HP in Game 2.

Round 4 vs Miguel Gonzajlez(5-2, Top Cut) WW
Araquanid, Incineroar, Landorus-T, Metagross, Tapu Koko, Porygon2

Round 5 vs Bartosz Ekiert (5-2, T16) LWW
Tapu Koko, Landorus-T, Cresselia, Incineroar,Gyarados, Kartana

Lost Game 1 on an Ice Beam freeze from Cresselia, but the set was extremely awkward to play as a whole. Could have gone either way, as Mega Gyarados and Cresselia is a core that this team struggles against more than it looks like it does.

Round 6 vs Andrea Nozza (6-1, Top Cut) LWW
Tapu Koko, Metagross, Landorus-T, Incineroar, Porygon2, Araquanid

Incineroars were speed tying in this set, making the situation tricky in all 3 games.

Round 7 vs Lukas Müller (6-1, Top Cut) LWW
Tapu Bulu, Araquanid, Metagross, Incineroar, Porygon2, Tapu Koko

His Incineroar was faster than mine and had U-turn pressure. I had to change my approach to the team to more adequately deal with it. Even then, I only escaped because of a Double Protect in Game 2. It took me calling a Mega Metagross switch out to Tapu Koko as I Sludge Bombed the Mega Metagross slot to finally close out a very difficult Best of 3

Top 8 vs Miguel Gonzajlez LWL
Araquanid, Incineroar, Landorus-T, Metagross, Tapu Koko, Porygon2

I learned in our Swiss set that his Metagross was Zen Headbutt and Hammer Arm. I would later learn that his Tapu Koko was Fast Assault Vest Electroweb and Nature’s Madness, and his Landorus-T was Groundium Z and Substitute. These 3 Pokémon, working together, were able to check all 3 of my team’s modes at the same time: Fast, Bulk, and Slow. With the matchup drastically in his favor and a night to prepare, I had to play perfectly to overcome him, and I was unable to do so.

Conclusion

I believe that this team still has some value going forward, as it contains 3 modes of play, good typing, including a Fire, Water, Grass core, and Mega Venusaur can cause nightmares for the opponent if the board positioning is in its favor, which its teammates can help it do.
Nicole Saeed is the most obvious person to thank for this run. She got me the team, walked me through it, gave me the Mega Venusaur suggestion, and helped me with various ideas I had. I don’t do as well in this tournament without her. Thank you Nicole!

I also need to thank Benjamin Tan. He reached out to me as well after seeing how I performed the week before Prague with this team and some corresponding advice. Thank you as well Ben!

I also need to thank Kamaal Harris. He got on me on Twitter for how I was playing the game the week before after how I played at 2 MSSs; they were words I needed to hear, and they weren’t sugarcoated. He got me to reconsider how to play VGC, and it showed in Prague. I needed that tough love to play well again. Thank you Kamaal!

Credit to pupu for the featured image

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