Written by Tom Plater
Hi everyone! I’m Tom Plater, also known as TheSaxlad, and I’m the Liverpool VGC ’18 Regional Champion! I’m definitely not going to get used to saying that anytime soon. In this report I’m going to share with you the team I used to win the tournament, my thought processes about playing the team and the actual tournament itself!
You’ve got all that to look forward to, but I’ll just start by giving you a little bit of background on myself, and what led me to Liverpool. I started playing VGC just before UK Nationals in 2015. I had wanted something to do as a hobby as I was getting burnt out during my studies, and one of Cybertron’s video’s popped up on my Youtube feed. It looked proper cool, so I kitted myself out, learnt the basics, built a team in 3 weeks and headed off to my first Premier Challenge where I made Top 8. I followed this up with Nationals, at which I just missed cut but caught the bug to continue playing! Since then I’ve had a few small breakthroughs, including cutting Dublin Regionals in 2016 and making Day 2 in the European International Championship, but this is my first big breakthrough in a major tournament!
Anyway, enough about me, let’s take a look at the team building process and the team itself!
The Building Process:
I had been in somewhat of a rut before Regionals, using all sorts of stuff and losing quite hard, so I figured a couple of days before I should play something perhaps a little gimmicky that would allow me to hopefully have some easier rounds. In theory, this would ease me into the regional whilst giving me a little more headspace throughout to play harder matchups. Ducks absolutely fit the bill. (Get it?)
In the beginning, I had a look at the Japanese Nationals winning rain team, Sean Bannen’s team from US Internationals, and Tommy Cooleen’s Internationals team. I was running something closer to Sean’s team, albeit with AV Garchomp and Scarf Tapu Lele, that looked something like this:
This was doing reasonably well, but on Thursday night I came across a good friend of mine Lee Provost (@OsirusVGC) on the Battle Spot Ladder. Throughout the game he was able keep Snorlax on the field, which won him the game. At this point, I realised I couldn’t really touch Snorlax and decided to have a look at some ways to make sure I could beat it. I needed something that didn’t get hard beaten by Tapu Lele and could take on opposing Garchomp and Snorlax. Buzzwole was an obvious choice and after a bit of item swapping the team was born.
Pelipper @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
252 SpA Pelipper Hurricane vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kartana: 178-211 (131.8 – 156.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Pelipper Brine (130 BP) vs. 244 HP / 140+ SpD Eviolite Porygon2 in Rain: 76-90 (39.7 – 47.1%)
Yep, you see it right the Pelipper is max speed Timid! This is your standard Pelipper, and I had been running it modest up till the night of the tournament, but I found myself losing the Ducks mirror more often and even if I won, it was a 50-50 speed tie. Being Timid allowed me to still get Brine KO’s on P2 after a Hydro Vortex whilst being able to outspeed and KO other Pelipper with a double target from Hurricane and Ice Beam from Golduck. The only thing I really missed was the Brine OHKO onto Arcanine, but in reality very few people bought Arcanine against this team the whole weekend so it didn’t matter at all in the grand scheme of things!
Golduck @ Waterium Z
Ability: Swift Swim
EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 28 SpD / 124 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hydro Pump
– Ice Beam
252+ SpA Golduck Hydro Pump vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko in Rain: 160-189 (109.5 – 129.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Ninetales-Alola Freeze-Dry vs. 100 HP / 28 SpD Golduck: 102-122 (60.7 – 72.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO after hail damage
252+ Atk Arcanine Extreme Speed vs. 100 HP / 4 Def Golduck: 55-65 (32.7 – 38.6%) — 98.8% chance to 3HKO
This spread is a carbon copy of the Golduck spread from Tommy Cooleen’s (@TmanVGC) rain team. Honestly, this spread is amazing. It survives Freeze Dry from Ninetales, Thunderbolt from Porygon2, and in one case survived an Extreme Speed from Arcanine at from 35% with 3 HP, definitely something I really had no business surviving but it ended up winning me that game and set! This spread is the ducks*, and something I would suggest to anyone looking to run Golduck in the archetype!
*See what I did there? Don’t hate the player, hate the game.
Buzzwole @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 20 HP / 84 Atk / 4 Def / 252 SpD / 148 Spe
– Leech Life
– Ice Punch
– Poison Jab
84+ Atk Buzzwole Ice Punch vs. 4 HP / 4 Def Garchomp: 184-220 (100 – 119.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
84+ Atk Buzzwole Superpower vs. 68 HP / 188 Def Snorlax: 234-276 (95.9 – 113.1%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 20 HP / 252 SpD Assault Vest Buzzwole: 138-164 (74.5 – 88.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 SpA Life Orb Tapu Koko Dazzling Gleam vs. 20 HP / 252 SpD Assault Vest Buzzwole: 81-96 (43.7 – 51.8%) — 9.8% chance to 2HKO
I did mention I was in love with Tommy Cooleen’s spreads right? Well here is another one of his! I completely agree with his assessment that AV Buzzwole is the best Buzzwole; it is so much more consistent than its Z move friend, and in fact was probably the MVP of the tournament. It deals with Gigalith, Muk, Tapu Fini, Ninetales, Garchomp, and the list goes on and on. The spread hits the EV bump on attack, survives 2 Tapu Koko Dazzling Gleams, and a Psychic outside of terrain from Tapu Lele (although obviously not at the same time!) You unfortunately miss OHKOs on a few things, including Gigalith, but I wasn’t bothered about that, as I was able to chip it into range with the next inclusion on my team!
Metagross @ Wide Lens
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 244 HP / 204 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
– Meteor Mash
– Bullet Punch
– Zen Headbutt
204+ Atk Metagross Meteor Mash vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Koko: 97-115 (66.4 – 78.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
204+ Atk Metagross Bullet Punch vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Koko: 43-52 (29.4 – 35.6%) — 26.1% chance to 3HKO
252+ Atk Arcanine Flare Blitz vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Metagross in Rain: 80-96 (43 – 51.6%) — 5.1% chance to 2HKO
Okay. I’ll give you a collective minute to read the Metagross item a couple of times and go and get a drink to calm yourself. Finished? Cool. So this Metagross was amazing. Like super amazing. Like ridiculously super amazing. (I will tell you why, so hang on!!)
The spread was one I lifted off of a page of Kasoman’s VGC blog* and was created by Conan Thompson (@Conanyk) and used by Collin Heier (@BattleRoom) at Dallas Regionals. Being able to KO fast Koko 12/16 times with a Meteor Mash / Bullet Punch Combo was amazing. In conjunction with Flare Blitz from Arcanine doing less than 50% in rain to Metagross, it became the obvious choice.
I believe Metagross is one of the strongest Pokémon in VGC right now, with fantastic offensive and defensive typing across most of the metagame. Its one Achilles heel is the fact that it misses, and this has cost both myself and other Metagross players tournaments before due to a miss at a crucial time. Whilst I’m aware Wide Lens caps out at 99% meaning a miss is technically possible, I was able to click all of Metagross moves without worrying about missing, and I didn’t miss a single move over the regional. Running effectively a non-miss itemless Metagross was amazing, and I would recommend everyone else to do it too!
*You can find that page here.
Garchomp @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Rough Skin
EVs: 28 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 100 SpD / 220 Spe
– Dragon Claw
– Poison Jab
– Rock Slide
-1 156+ Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Arcanine: 104-126 (59.4 – 72%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Figy Berry recovery
156+ Atk Garchomp Dragon Claw vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Salamence: 168-200 (98.2 – 116.9%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Tapu Koko Dazzling Gleam vs. 28 HP / 100 SpD Garchomp: 84-102 (44.9 – 54.5%) — 37.5% chance to 2HKO
Everyone’s simultaneously favourite and least favourite Garchomp. During the building process in the car to regionals (yeah I know, but everyone does that right), Matt Dorrell suggested that I should be running Scarf Garchomp over the Assault Vest Garchomp I had been running before; I was skeptical but whacked it on nonetheless. Although this was the Pokemon I brought least to matches, it helped win some games, most notably my Top 4 match vs Lillikoal, in which Garchomp put an absolute shift. I definitely wouldn’t bring it every time, but it helps out with a bunch of matchups (including Tapu Koko / Raichu) that ducks really hate to face.
I actually borrowed the EV spread from TT’s VGC 17 Sample Spreads document. I found that 156 Attack was enough to hit the EV bump in the damage calculator and hit Arcanine in that sweet spot at -1 so a potential Berry would not proc, but I could still get the 2HKO next turn. The Special Defenpse EV’s make unboosted Tapu Koko’s Dazzling Gleam only a 37.5% chance to 2HKO, survives a Tapu Fini Moonblast, and gives Garchomp the tiniest of chances to survive a Moonblast from a Max Special Attack unboosted Tapu Lele.
Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 204 SpA / 44 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
– Volt Switch
252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (185 BP) vs. 252 HP / 44+ SpD Tapu Fini: 180-212 (101.6 – 119.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
36+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Lele Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 44 SpD Tapu Koko: 135-160 (92.4 – 109.5%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
This Tapu Koko is my baby. I figured going into the Regional that in later rounds the Ducks mode on the team would get less and less useful and that I’d be bringing defensive rain more. However, I still felt like I needed a nuke to tactically get rid of troublesome mons, and Tapu Koko did that. Unboosted Thunder is of a similar power to Life Orb Thunderbolt and did its job well throughout the regional. The 4 HP and 44 Special Defense gave Tapu Koko a 50% chance to survive a 36+ Choice Specs Tapu Lele Moonblast amongst other things. Tapu Koko mainly came in and clicked Thunder and the Z move; I didn’t really use Dazzling Gleam too much, and the one time I remember trying to my Koko was taken out before it could anyway!
Using The Team!
Yeah, this lead kinda speaks for itself. If they don’t have weather or Fake Out, use ducks to blast a hole through their team and use the rest of the offensive core to follow through. Most of the time I used Tapu Koko and Buzzwole, but the rest of the team will change depending on the matchup.
The anti-Trick Room rain team. Buzzwole and Metagross can blow a hole through most of the Trick Room weapons arsenal, Marowak being the only exception. Pelipper is an astounding defensive tool with the ability to protect Buzzwole and Metagross from Marowak with super effective attacks and rain. Tapu Koko and its Z move should be used to remove a Pokemon threatening Metagross or Buzzwole so they can sweep through.
Used for more niche matchups such as Raichu and Tapu Koko, but can still blast a hole in your opponent’s team with Earthquake and Hurricane / Brine combinations.
So now that we have the team out of the way, let’s move onto the Regional itself! As the 10th Doctor would say, ‘Allons y!’
I got the team ready the night before the regional. I had most of the Pokemon with the spreads I’d wanted to use from earlier in the season, but as it got late, I realised my Garchomp was EVed completely incorrectly. Thankfully, I was staying with Nigel Gower (@WyrmsEye) who bailed me out and managed to fix a Garchomp in about 10 minutes. I literally don’t know how he did it, he is a wizard with his festival plaza. That allowed me to get a decent night’s sleep before waking up early the next morning to a breakfast (not Porridge, Sorry Lee!) and get down the venue!
I arrived at the venue in plenty of time, got the Battle Box locked, and went and hung out with lots of my friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. Quick shoutout to my player meeting buddy Thomas Gravouille (@haricot), who I know I’m guaranteed to see at the player meetings and turns them from just sitting about into really good conversation before the tournament even begins!
Before I even knew it, the player meeting was over and the tournament had started! Below is a summary of the people I played and what they were using.
Round 1 vs Jorijn Raynmakers (JoriyunVGC) WLW
Round 2 vs Ramiro Casal WW
Round 3 vs Joseph Richardson (GolemsVGC) WW
Round 4 vs Simone Perelli WW
Round 5 vs Baris Akcos (@BillaVGC) WW
Billa is a fantastic player and at this point I couldn’t believe that I was 5-0 at an event for the first time in over a year. Since the last match happened fairly quickly, I went outside to get some fresh air, tweeted a bit, called my family to calm myself down, then got back in the mindset for the rest of the tournament till Round 6 was called.
Round 6 vs Damien Blakey (@Snivyguy912) WW
Round 7 vs Arash Ommati (@mean_vgc) LL
After this I was X-1 and although I was told because of my resistance I would cut at X-2 whether I won or lost my next game, but I knew Arash would be top of the standings. With my resistance at that point I would have probably come 8th had I lost, causing us to meet in the Top 8 and I really didn’t want that to happen. If I could avoid him for as long as possible, I knew I’d increase my chances of winning the event, and went into my last match with the knowledge that if I wanted to get better than Top 8 I would have to win my next match.
Round 8 vs Rafa Montes (@Howl_VGC) LWW
And there it was, I had qualified for my first regional top cut in over a year! I was elated, celebrated with my friends, and as soon as the standings were up we went to have a look. I found out I would be back the next morning playing against Rafa again in Top 8! I was pretty chuffed at this as I knew I had the matchup, and with some sleep I would be in a good position to challenge for the win!
We left the venue and ended up going for dinner with #TeamIreland at Byrons, a really nice Burger place. I had a burger with a beer and just relaxed and chatted with friends, which was exactly what I needed. Special shoutouts here go to Jace (@jacevstheworld), Connor (@garchamp__), and Judith (@hifiserious), who helped to keep me sane with some non-Pokémon chat and shared the love with the sweet potato fries (which were glorious.) After dinner, I walked back to the AirBnB with Matt and Nigel and we chatted a little about the matchup against Rafa the next day, before heading to sleep at a decent time.
Less than 8 hours after I was back in the venue, and with the hack check completed it was time to start the Top 8!
T8 vs Rafa Montes (@Howl_VGC) WW
T4 vs Daniel Oztekin (@necrocat219) WW
Final vs Jamie Dixon (@MasterWizardVG) LWW
Whilst I haven’t written about the other sets, I just want to say this set was a joy to play. Jamie won Game 1 pretty comprehensively, I pulled back Game 2 and Game 3, you can see below!
So there we are! I had won Game 3 and the Regional! From there it was a whirlwind of being taken to the Prize Wall, having my name announced, nearly being taken off my feet by Matt Dorrell, and being congratulated by all my friends once they had finished their MSS round!
It was a really great feeling and hopefully something I can repeat in the future.
I finished off the weekend by playing in the Premier Challenge after and gained another 10CP towards my worlds invite! I had an amazing weekend and drove home knowing I had put myself in a great position to be able to capitalise and make this season the best one yet!
Time for Thanks:
I have a lot of thanks to say to a lot of people. I have had so many people help me on my journey, and without their help and love I would not be anywhere near where I am now. I am indebted to each and every person who has ever given me encouragement. So in no particular order, here are some of the groups and individuals who have helped me on my journey:
Fortree Brave Birds
Polo Flash Fires
Everyone who put out messages of support on Twitter over the weekend, or messaged me with support; it was great to feel all the love and that definitely spurred me on to win the Regional!
Rob Akershoek (@ApplePieVGC), Nigel Gower (@WyrmsEye) Steven Markhardt (@KaliVGC) Patrick Ball (@pball0010) and Austin (@AegisCave) for modding my stream, and doing all the great things you guys do, I couldn’t do it without you!
@MattDorrell for being a great friend, putting on those car jams and telling me to use Scarf Chomp, which I never would have done!
@EshiVGC for believing in me, even when I don’t believe in myself!
@Mattsby_VGC You’ve been there constantly since the beginning, I can’t thank you enough for teaching me about how to play the game properly and putting up with me for the past two years!
@Arahpthos and @MogarVGC for helping me against my worst matchups and trashing me with them the week before! If you guys hadn’t spent 20+ games apiece during the week beforehand on helping me develop my matchups, I wouldn’t be here right now.
@TmanVGC Although we didn’t speak beforehand about the team, your spreads are absolutely glorious and were consistently amazing throughout the weekend, so thank you for making them public so scrubs like me can steal them!
I have probably forgotten a load of people to thank, but know that the interactions I have with everyone in the community keeps me playing, even when playing becomes difficult.
And with that I must bid you adieu, I hope to see as many of you as possible in the coming year, and if you are in London at all or if I’m near you then message me!
But until then, so long and thanks for all the fish (ducks)!