Ending a Drought – Top 16 Dallas Regional Report

Hi! My name’s Vishy Vasudevan, and I’m a lesser known SoCal VGC player. I got into VGC in early 2017 after watching a video of the 2016 World Championships and entered Anaheim Regionals that same year (in which I went 5-4). I didn’t have Protect on all but one mon, which I eventually learned was a bad thing. My second event was Costa Mesa Regionals in 2018, which went better, as I finished 6-2 and 15th place. I had Protect on 4 different mons this time, and this is where I learned that I could play hyper offense really well. I believed that I potentially had a chance at Worlds, so I decided to go to more than 1 event in the next season. So far in 2019, I’ve been to 4 Premier Challenges (1 Regional one), 2 Midseason Showdowns (1 Regional one), and 2 Regionals (Anaheim and Dallas). My 2019 team has stayed basically the same throughout the Sun and Moon series, with 4 mons being passed down from my 18 and 17 teams.

Team’s Achievements

Sun Series:

  • Top 4 at a November UCSD PC
  • Top 4 at the Anaheim Regional MSS (with Mewtwo over Palkia)
  • 1st at the December Chantilly PC

Moon Series:

  • 13th at Dallas Regs
  • 2nd at the Dallas Regs Sunday PC

Gabriel Cedeno’s Moon series results

  • Top 4 at Panama Special event
  • 4th at a Panama PC

The Team

Link to Paste

Whimsicott @ Focus Sash
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Tailwind
– Moonblast
– Taunt
– Sunny Day

I dislike having Pokémon for support and nothing else. While Whimsicott is definitely intended to be a supporting role, having Moonblast allows it to deal a significant amount of chip damage to restricted mons before they can even attack. It deals more than 40% to bulkless opposing Xerneas, breaks shadow shield on Lunala, and more. I don’t like Encore since you have to wait for your opponent to make a move beforehand, so I chose Taunt instead. With Taunt, you can deny Trick Room, Tailwind, and setup moves like Geomancy before they even happen. Tailwind is the crux of this team, as it needs to be set to allow mons such as Kyogre and Salazzle to sweep in the back. Sunny day allows me to basically win every game in which my opponent leads Kyogre and Ludicolo. It gives me a significant advantage against opposing Kyogre leads in game one.

I need to be at max speed to outspeed Tornadus, and I dumped the rest into special attack to deal as much damage as possible with Moonblast. I gave it a sash so that it could survive long enough to set up Tailwind while still getting some chip damage off. This was the exact same Whimsicott I used in 2018.

Salazzle @ Life Orb
Ability: Corrosion
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 20 SpD / 236 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Flamethrower
– Foul Play
– Sludge Bomb
– Protect

Salazzle is ridiculous. Its offensive typing is broken in this format, and it 4x resists 3 different types. However, its defenses are laughable, exemplified by the fact that it takes just 2 Xern +2 Moonblasts to KO it. Most people give it a focus sash for this reason, adding the moves Taunt and Fake Out to give it a supporting role. However, I decided to give it a Life Orb, so it could sometimes OHKO opposing Xerneas with Sludge Bomb before they could even Geomancy. Flamethrower could 2HKO Careful Groudons without activating their berries, while a Life Orb boosted Foul Play could KO no bulk Lunalas after a Whimsicott Moonblast. Due to the importance of Salazzle as the only real Kartana and Xerneas answer on my team, I chose to run Protect over Fake Out or Taunt. The lack of 16 extra speed EVs allows Salazzle to underspeed Whimsicott (for the aforementioned opposing Lunala combo) while still outspeeding Modest Koko, which several Yveltal+Groudon teams were running at the time. A bonus of using Salazzle without Fake Out is that your opponents often play very defensively turn 1 and Protect their non Ghost types. You can punish this by switching out a mon to get better positioning. This is the same Salazzle set I used in 2017, with Foul Play over taunt and 16 less speed EVs.

Tapu Lele @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Psychic Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psyshock
– Moonblast
– Taunt
– Protect

I used Tapu Lele and Whimsicott in 2018 and was really comfortable with the combination. I originally started using Lele because it could block Fake Out. However, I discovered that it had other important uses as well. Lele became more useful as Sun series went on, especially on Kyogre teams, as several teams began running Toxicroak to counter Kyogre. Truth be told, I don’t exactly know why I gave my Lele Safety Goggles. I left it there for my first two Premier Challenges, and it heavily improved my Amoonguss matchup, allowing me to ignore Rage Powder. I had never lost to Amoonguss this season until the Dallas Sunday Premier Challenge, in which I lost to 2 torn-ogre teams (Amoonguss was never brought to any of the games). With Z-moves out, I knew that Ludicolo would become less bulky and more offensive, causing it to actually faint to a modest Psyshock in terrain unlike in Sun series when they would all live with 2 HP and eat their berries :(. Modest Moonblast was able to deal 45% to opposing Assault Vest holding Yveltal, which, after Whimsicott’s own Moonblast, could put the bacon bird into KO range of another -1 Lele Moonblast. Once I get Kyogre in Psychic Terrain, I basically win that matchup. The EV spread is another 252/252 spread, but I prioritized damage over speed this time.

Fun fact: If you take Lele out of Melemele, you get a Meme.

Kartana @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Knock Off

This is the exact same Kartana I used in 2017, with the only difference being Knock off over Night Slash. When I saw all the scarf Kyogre within the first few days of Sun series, this was my first thought to counter it. Counter-teaming is actually the entire basis of this team. Scarf Kartana has probably been my most consistent mon to date, being able to KO opposing scarf Kyogre and Tapu Lele before they even move. It OHKOs non-sash Gengar and Chandelure (irrelevant but nice to know), deals more than 60% to Lunala THROUGH shadow shield, can OHKO Clefairy and Togekiss to negate follow me, and much more. The last 3 only apply to max attack Kartana. Oh also, it can still sometimes KO Scarf Ogre even at -1, disregarding critical hits. Unfortunately, Scarf Kartana won’t have a big niche in ultra due to primals. 🙁

Kyogre @ Choice Specs
Ability: Drizzle
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Ice Beam
– Thunder
– Hydro Pump

How can I make Kyogre overcome bulkier mons that are EV’d to live Water Spout? Simple. Give it some glasses. Water Spout now destroys everything. I added Ice Beam to KO Zygarde after any amount of chip. Thunder does a ton to opposing water types, and Hydro Pump deals nearly the same amount of damage as a full health Water Spout would. It performs especially well in psychic terrain as it cannot be hit by Sucker Punch or Fake Out to hinder Water Spout’s damage.

Palkia @ Waterium Z
Ability: Pressure
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hydro Pump
– Spacial Rend
– Rain Dance
– Roar

I love Palkia on this team soooo much. I’ve never seen it do well paired with kyogre in a 50+ person major. Not until now. As you all know, Palkia received an incredible buff with the addition of Z moves in Moon Series, powering up its inaccurate Hydro Pump into a 100% accurate 185 Base Power nuke. I knew that my Palkia would not be the only one present at Dallas, so I had to make it Timid to at least speed tie with the others (I lost every speed tie anyway). Spacial rend dealt with Pokémon that Hydro Pump didn’t hit for neutral damage, such as Ludicolo and Kyogre. I needed roar as I was paranoid of Mental Herb or Psychium Z Trick Room mons (1 of my auto loss conditions). It also helped deal with opposing Xerneas, although the Water Z move was probably enough. My last move was Rain Dance to reset rain for Kyogre and basically turn a negative matchup to Yveltal + Groudon teams into a positive one. Unfortunately, I never faced any Yveltal + Groudon or Xerneas + Groudon teams the entire day, so I never got to click the pretty blue button. It worked 3 times in the Sunday PC however.

Team Play

The team has 2 different modes in my opinion. Setup Tailwind and sweep with the restricteds is the more obvious and commonly used one. The other is lead two non-Whimsicott mons and deal as much damage as possible on turn 1.

In the Tailwind mode, I often end up bringing Tapu Lele at the back to negate the Fake Out from opposing Incineroar. If the opponent has a Kartana, then I am basically required to bring Salazzle in the other slot, most likely as a lead. I don’t really like leading Kyogre, as it reveals that I am not scarf. However, leading Lele is fine, as the opponent often assumes that my Kyogre has a Scarf once they figure out Lele does not.

When I don’t lead Whimsicott, the opponent most likely has a trick room or Zygarde team.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

This is my most common lead by far. I lead this basically every time against Xern-Don and Yvel-Don teams, as my opponent tends to lead the corresponding Kalos restricted along with Incineroar, Tapu Koko, or Amoonguss. I usually don’t set up tailwind immediately, and try to get as much damage onto Xerneas or Yveltal on turn one. I can then set tailwind later, and the Kyogre and Palkia in the back can defeat the remnants of the team. The rain dance button is very nice here. I also lead Whimsicott and Lele against teams that have both Kyogre and Ludicolo, at least in game 1. If they are unaware that my Whimsicott has Sunny Day, then Kyogre Ludicolo seems like a very strong lead.

This lead is very nice against teams with Scarf Kyogre, Scarf Lele, Togekiss, or Clefairy. Often times, I can pick up a free game one win by KOing Scarf Kyogre turn 1 and setting up tailwind, allowing the rest of the mons in the back to wipe the rest of my opponent’s team.

I lead this whenever my opponent has a Koko and Lunala on their team, at least for game 1, as long as the Lunala seems like it will not go for Trick Room. This lead-in works in general versus opposing Xernala teams, except the ones with Smeargle (more on Smeargle later). Moonblast, Foul Play, bye bye Lunala. This lead is also nice against teams with both Tapu Fini and Kartana, as the opponent usually leads one or the other, if not both.

This is a nice lead against hard Trick Room or Zygarde, as long as there is no Ludicolo on the opposing team. I need to bring Lele at the back, however, to stop opposing Fake Out users from preventing a Roar from Palkia if necessary. I can also switch in Lele and Water Spout, most likely taking out two of my opponent’s Pokémon. If there’s a Groudon, I can also press the Rain Dance button and then Spout.

Team Match-ups

The first thing I look for in team preview is team composition. Are the mons all attackers in their own right, or are they like Smeargle and serve only to support. The next things I look for are the opponent’s potential modes of speed control. Can I stop it their speed control before they set it up? If so, how can I keep Whimsicott alive so I can set up Tailwind after?

I need to play around Incin + fast Lunala leads really well, especially if my opponent has fast mons at the back. If they have, say, a Sash Kartana and Scarf Kyogre at the back, I almost lose every time. The only two mons on my team that can defeat the Kartana, Kyogre, and Lunala, ignoring Tailwind. These are Salazzle and Kartana. My gameplan would be to setup your own Tailwind and KO Incineroar as quickly as possible.

I have Rain Dance on Palkia to reset Rain for Kyogre and itself, and I can switch out Lele if necessary to reset Psychic Terrain.

Good Match-ups

I have a good match-up versus this team since Kyogre next to Palkia in Tailwind wins me the game almost 100% of the time. As long as I can get Xerneas in range of a Hydro Vortex from Palkia through Protect, it is not a problem. This team is only problematic if they have a fast, untauntable Tailwind setter, such as Jolly Talonflame (which most aren’t) or Mental Herb Crobat.

Before I had Rain Dance on Palkia, this match-up was very bad, and the one above wasn’t much better. Now that I can reset rain for Kyogre, it can deal upwards of 60% damage to Yveltal, putting it in range of a Hydro Vortex from Palkia. They usually lead Yveltal + Incin/Koko, so I can simply lead Lele and Whimsicott. I double Moonblast the Yveltal, as people usually underestimate the damage that the combination can deal. Even if my opponent leads Stakataka, which is usually present on those teams, I can just Taunt it with Tapu Lele to stop Trick Room. Once I get Palkia and Kyogre on the field, I win.

Bad Match-ups

This match-up is alright if their only Fake Out setter is Incineroar. However, if there is a Smeargle on the team, which there often is, this matchup becomes painful, as I am forced to bring Lele. The only mon on these teams that Lele is good against is Toxicroak. Once they get Lunala and a setup Xerneas on the field, the game is basically over, as the only fast mon I have that can deal significant damage to both mons is Salazzle, which faints to 2 Moonblasts.

To win this matchup, I need to keep Salazzle alive, or KO the Xerneas before it can set up.

I used to have a good match-up against this team in Sun Series, as leading Kartana/Whimsicott gave me several options. I could Taunt Tornadus, or double into it expecting it to attack. However, due to Flyinium Z, Tornadus can break through Taunt, and basically destroy my team from there along with Scarf Kyogre. None of my pokemon can live 1 Kyogre Spout + 1 Supersonic Skystrike.

(I only figured out how to deal with it after the Dallas PC, in which both of my losses were to this team).

To deal with this team, I probably should have lead Whimsicott and Palkia, as they lead Tornadus + Scarf Kyogre nearly every time. I Hydro Vortex the Tornadus, and setup my own Tailwind. Either I defeat my opponent’s Z user before they even attack, or I get to bring in Specs Kyogre for free in Tailwind (assuming they chose to double into Palkia). In game 2, I would bring Lele at the back to stop Fake Out, as they would most like have Incineroar or Amoonguss this time around.

Rundown of Tournament

Round 1: Rajan Bal – (WLW)

At this point, I had gone to 6 events this year. Although I had only not gone positive once, I was 1-5 in Round 1(1-6 including the IC). My only win was my most recent event, the December Chantilly Best of 1 PC. The last time I played Rajan (the Chantilly MSS on the same date as the aforementioned event), I got completely destroyed. However, this was only a month ago, and I had become more comfortable with my team since then. This entire set was completely luck based in my favor, especially game 1. He led Yveltal and Ludicolo, while I led Whimsicott and Palkia. I was afraid that this Yveltal knew Tailwind and/or was very offensive. As its Dark Aura went before Tapu Lele’s Psychic Surge, I protected Lele and used Moonblast on Yveltal, revealing his Assault Vest. I made a mistake this game by assuming that no Ludicolo carried Protect. His did, and I wasted an important turn. I won solely off one snarl miss on my 4 HP Whimsicott, allowing me to set up Sunny Day later in the game and wall his Kyogre and Ludicolo with Palkia. I also got a critical hit on Ludicolo earlier with Spacial Rend dealing 90% to it, pretty much revealing Waterium Z. In game 2, I had the same lead, while he led Incin and Yveltal. I tried to Psyshock my own Whimsicott as it used Tailwind, believing Yveltal to use Oblivion Wing to regain health that would have been lost from Moonblast, but Rajan made a good play by Snarling and having Incin U-turn into the Lele, leaving me with two weakened Pokémon on the field. This set the tone for the rest of the game, and he won pretty handily. Palkia got another critical hit with Spacial Rend that game, though it didn’t really matter as much. Game 3 started out as game 1 did. He led Yveltal and Ludicolo, while I led Whim and Lele. He switched Ludi out turn 1 into Incineroar and used Snarl. I had Whimsicott use Tailwind and Tapu Lele use Moonblast into the Yveltal, dealing a bit over 30%. I did get a special attack drop here. Turn 2, I switched Whimsicott into Kyogre and used Moonblast again into Yveltal. I got a critical hit this time, and his Yveltal was left with 5% HP. I called the Oblivion WIng correctly, and my Kyogre’s HP only dropped by 30. In addition, he used Flare Blitz into Tapu Lele, which wasn’t enough to pick up the KO in the rain. Turn 3, I had Lele use Psyshock into the Incineroar slot as he hard switched into Ludicolo, and Kyogre use Water Spout, getting the KO onto the Ludicolo and sealing up the game.

Round 2: Yihui Xu – (LL) – Ended Top 32

I literally replaced Flamethrower with Rain Dance on Palkia because I expected to NOT face a Shedinja. I have only Knock Off on Kartana and Salazzle’s two moves to hit the soul stealing bug. Anyways, the Koko outsped my entire team save for Kartana and repeatedly used Discharge, collecting 6 paras (all on my team!!!) throughout the two games. He won the Palkia speed tie, and I was just out of it this entire match-up. Serves me right for what happened Round 1.

I lost this match due to my own mistakes in preparation, though I don’t regret my move choices at all. Shedinja, in many ways, is restricted. You need to have several ways to beat it, otherwise, the opponent’s win condition becomes easy to recognize.

Note: I changed Roar to Hail in the Sunday PC solely because of this guy.

Round 3: Israel Ramirez – (WLW)

I wasn’t sure if this was a trick room team or not, so I led Whimsicott Salazzle to be safe. He led Koko and Lunala. Turn 1, he Sky Dropped Whimsicott and protected Lunala as I had Whimsicott use Moonblast, and Salazzle use Foul Play into the Lunala slot. He was probably worried about a taunt from Lunala. Luckily, his Koko was faster than both of my Pokémon, so I could make the same play as I did in turn 1. The Lunala went down, and I won that game by setting up Tailwind and allowing Kyogre to sweep. In game 2, I guessed that he would lead Lunala and Incineroar, and I led Lele and Whimsicott. Unfortunately, he had the same lead as in game 1, and just auto won the game from there. In game 3, he led Koko Lunala for the third time, and I led Lele Palkia. This game went perfectly, as he Sky Dropped Lele to stop a potential Taunt. I roared out his Lunala into Kyogre as it used Trick Room. I Z moved the Koko and Psyshock on Kyogre. I then got chip onto Lunala the following turn while using Taunt with Lele. From there, Salazzle was able to OHKO Lurantis and KO Lunala, sealing up the game.

Round 4: Dawei Si – (WLW)

This was a horrible match-up for me, and one of the drawbacks of using Scarf Kartana. In game 1, she led Kartana and Tapu Lele, while I led Whimsicott and Kartana. Her Lele’s Psychic Seed activated, so I believed that it likely carried Protect. I doubled the Kartana slot, immediately KOing it. Her max speed Yveltal revealed Tailwind and Snarl, and she almost brought the game back. I called another Protect correctly later that game, and it got to a point where my low HP Kyogre with 1 turn of Tailwind had to hit a Hydro Pump on her near full HP Yveltal. This is an example of where Hydro Pump was needed over Scald. In game 2, she revealed Tailwind on Kartana, and most likely Focus Sash as well. I made an unnecessary read later in the game in which I chose not to Leaf Blade into her Kyogre. She read this, did not protect Kyogre, and won the game. She revealed Waterium Z this game at some point. In game 3, I led Whimsicott and Tapu Lele, while she led Tapu Lele and Kartana. I predicted her to not Tailwind immediately, so I decided to setup Tailwind myself. While I did call this correctly, she crit Leaf Blade into my Lele, knocking it out. However, this allowed Specs Kyogre to do Specs Kyogre things, and I was able to KO the Yveltal and Tapu Lele, While dealing massive amounts to Kyogre. I was still very behind in the match, however, as she was able to KO Kyogre and Whimsicott after Tailwind ended. Salazzle was left needing to KO a Kyogre at 40%, which it successfully did.

Round 5: Michael Zhang – (WLW)

This was disheartening, as Michael was a friend from college down in San Diego. We along with 3 others were here on “a school trip” I guess. Anyways, we each knew each other’s teams, spreads, and sets. Game 1 went by pretty fast. He led Kommo-o and Bulu, and I led Whimsicott and Salazzle. He switched out Kommo-o instead of the AV Bulu, so Specs Kyogre and Whimsicott were able to take care of the rest when It went down. In game 2, he played well and conserved his Bulu, which walls everything on my team but Salazzle and Kartana, which I didn’t want to bring to this matchup. He unexpectedly set up Geomancy with Xerneas in front of a Whimsicott and Salazzle outside of Tailwind, and won the game after it KO’d my 84/143 HP Salazzle with Moonblast. In game 3, he led Kommo-o and Solgaleo, while I led Whimsicott and Salazzle again. I made the obvious play by using Flamethrower into Solgaleo (I knew it had no bulk) and Moonblast into Kommo-o. He protected Kommo-o, but I got a crit onto Solgaleo, sealing up the game as he had only Bulu and Xern left in the back. We later found out that the crit probably did not matter, as it was a roll in my favor.

Round 6: Gary Qian – (WLW)

Game 1 and Game 2 were really lopsided in each other’s favor. In Game 1, he chose to not protect his non Scarf Kyogre in front of my Kartana. He made a few other interesting but odd plays in game 1 and game 2. In game 2, he caught me off guard by choosing to use Foul Play with Murkrow instead of setting up Tailwind. He picked up a KO on one of my mons (probably Kartana). Game 3 was more interesting, as I led Whimsicott and Kyogre while Gary led Kyogre and Xerneas. I taunted the Xern (even though I revealed it the previous game) just to be safe, but he called it correctly and KO’d my Kyogre by doubling into it. I was able to deal 90% to the opposing Kyogre with my own Thunder before going down, however. I then brought in Salazzle. I Sludge Bombed into the Xerneas, which switched into Murkrow and Moonblasted the Kyogre, which he protected. The following turn, I Sludge Bombed the Kyogre, which switched into Kartana and set up Tailwind, his Murkrow also used Tailwind. I believe I had to sacrifice my own Kartana at one point, leaving Whimsicott and Salazzle against his neutral Kartana and Murkrow. He used Quash and then Knock Off (with Kartana) on Salazzle, bringing it down from 115 HP to 4 (Salazzle is waayyyyyy too frail). Salazzle picked up the KO, and the game was over.

Round 7: Zheyuan Huang – (LL)

Game 1: I led poorly(Kartana and Ogre vs Incin and Xern), so while I was able to Knock Off his power herb with Kartana as he used Geomancy, I could not capitalize the following turn. He had Lele and Smeargle at the back and wiped the rest of my mons out. I realized that Salazzle was important in this match.

Game 2: I led Salazzle Kyogre, and he led Smeargle Xerneas. I switched out Salazzle into Whimsicott expecting him to double Protect in front of Fake Out. He didn’t protect any mon turn 1, used lovely kiss on Whimsicott, and set up Geomancy. I found out his Smeargle had both Spiky Shield and Wide Guard later in the game, so he probably dropped Fake Out. I believe he 4-0’d me this game.

The main problem with my team is that its match-ups are very lead-based. Effectively, I can lose a game before turn 1 even starts, which was the case in game 1. You have to know when to play aggressively and when to not. I didn’t play aggressively enough game 2, losing me the game immediately.

Round 8: Enrique Grimaldo – (WW)

I was scared of Koko, but he never brought it to either game. Leading Whimsicott Lele was great in this match, as I could Taunt his Fini or Dusk Mane with Lele. I positioned both games into a position where I could sweep with Kyogre and Tapu Lele. One play in each match sealed the game for me; in game 1, I had Lele use Psyshock into Incineroar as it switched out into Ludicolo, and in game 2, I had Lele use Psyshock into DM Necrozma as it also switched out into Ludicolo. This was my only game 2 win the entire day.

Conclusion

I think my team is still viable, even if all the sets are known. It’s very read dependent, however, it won’t fit too many players’ playstyles, especially the defensive-minded ones. I’m not an experienced VGC player yet, so I don’t even know if I have made the optimal version of my team. I probably haven’t since literally every spread on the team is 252/4/252 except for Salazzle, the mon that should actually have this spread.

Shout Outs

Thank you to Socal Gang for being my test subjects. Nah but really, I got a bunch of experience from repeatedly battling you guys, win or lose. This was the main factor in allowing me to perform well at his event.

Thank you to the rest of the UCSD gang for making the trip really fun.

Thank you to Gabriel Cedeno for being the first person to show that these 6 mons can be viable together in Moon Series at the Panama Open.

Credit to masae for the featured image

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