Focus Blast is good as long as it connects – Prague Special Event 3rd Place Team Report

Hey there! My name is Fabian, I go by Baked online (@baked_vgc on Twitter), and I am a relatively new player from Germany with a 20th place finish at EU Internats last November being my only notable previous accomplishment.

With Prague being a comfortable 3 hour drive away and free of entry fee, there was no reason for me not to attend. Despite the fact that I had my worlds invite effectively secured at that point, only being 23CP short which would have been easily obtainable from locals. No prize money and no pressure to get CP meant I was free to run a team that was a little bit more fun to play, and this team I’m showing you now certainly was!

The teambuilding process was fairly simple. I wanted to run Kommo-o and always felt like Close Combat was bad on it considering you can’t afford to invest much into attack. As well as Intimidate being even more prevalent after Incineroar got access to its HA. Focus Blast, on the other hand, is good – as long as it connects. I then tried Gravity Meowstic along with Hypnosis on Mega Gengar and really liked it. The rest of the team was filled with other common Kommo-o team members.

Team’s Achievements

  • 3rd, Prague Special Event
  • 4th, Bayreuth PC

The Team

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cowmoo (Kommo-o) @ Kommonium Z
Ability: Soundproof
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Clanging Scales
– Focus Blast
– Flamethrower
– Protect

Just your average fully special Kommo-o. Your goal is to boost and then sweep, so going essentially 252/252 makes perfect sense.

  • +1 244+ SpA Kommo-o Helping Hand Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 133-157 (91 – 107.5%) — 50% chance to OHKO [becomes almost guaranteed with Fake Out damage]
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Dazzling Gleam vs. +1 4 HP / 4 SpD Kommo-o: 108-132 (71.5 – 87.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite
Ability: Shadow Tag
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Hex
– Hypnosis
– Protect

Hypnosis was chosen to further take advantage of the Gravity I intended to run to make Focus Blast hit all the time. Sludge Bomb and Protect are essential on Mega Gengar, but I didn’t feel the same about Shadow Ball. The amount of Pokémon in this format you would rather use Shadow Ball instead of Sludge Bomb against is relatively limited, and Mega Metagross (which isn’t super strong against Kommo-o teams anyways) is the only notable one not being able to live a hit. Hex, on the other hand, is able to achieve an OHKO on Gothitelle, Aegislash, and Mega Latias if you manage to status them first.

The EV spread is very suboptimal. While max speed is necessary, being able to take a Knock Off from Incineroar 100% of the time is something I just forgot to calc and thus stuck with the 244 SpA. Feel free to run any amount of bulk on it you want, just know that I really appreciated having maximum firepower in the tournament.

A thing I should add here is that Gengar was the MVP of the weekend by far. It won all 6 speed ties against Koko there were in day 1. Sorry not sorry.

  • 244 SpA Mega Gengar Hex (130 BP) vs. 220 HP / 92+ SpD Cresselia: 186-218 (83.4 – 97.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
  • 244 SpA Mega Gengar Hex (65 BP) vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar: 140-168 (102.9 – 123.5%) — guaranteed OHKO

Meowstic @ Mago Berry
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Def / 100 SpD
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Fake Out
– Gravity
– Helping Hand
– Thunder Wave

Meowstic was chosen as the Gravity setter. Prankster lets you do that on the same turn as you click Focus Blast or Hypnosis. Fake Out is an obvious move choice.

Now, since Whimsicott is commonly used on this slot (for good reason), I really didn’t want to miss out on its utility and went for Helping Hand and Thunder Wave as my last 2 moves. While being worse than Fake Tears and Tailwind in general (especially since you can’t Thunder Wave Koko to circumvent the Gengar – Koko speed tie), it still put in work and gave me the much needed extra way to spread status for Hex to double in power.

Not a lot of thought went into the EV spread again since I didn’t know what to calc for, but it doesn’t matter much. Except for the mistake of going minimum attack since the little bit of extra damage is important to KO Koko with a HH boosted +1 Flamethrower. To my surprise, Meowstic ended up being the least used member of the team. Not because it wouldn’t have done anything, but because other team members were necessary more often for my game plans to work.

  • 116+ Atk Incineroar Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. 252 HP / 156 Def Meowstic: 156-186 (86.1 – 102.7%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Zapdos Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 100+ SpD Meowstic: 153-181 (84.5 – 100%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Tapu Bulu @ Figy Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 44 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Wood Hammer
– Rock Tomb
– Whirlwind
– Protect

There is so much wrong with this Bulu. I wanted a more bulky set with Figy Berry instead of the more commonly used Choice Scarf or Life Orb on Kommo-o teams. This is so that I could reset the terrain more often in order to put opponents to sleep with Gengar. And it certainly did that, the issue was just.. well, everything else.

For one, Whirlwind is useless. The intent was to prevent setup, Trick Room and to potentially force in answers to Kommo-o like Fini early and trap them in with Shadow Tag. While maybe doable in theory, it’s not very practical. Rock Tomb, while nice for offering a much needed form of speed control, was rarely used. I didn’t see Superpower doing too much for me the way I was using Bulu, but it would have certainly been better than Rock Tomb and Whirlwind in retrospect. Wood Hammer and Protect did what they were supposed to do.

The biggest issue with Bulu however was the EV spread, more specifically the speed stat it hit. I did the lazy approach of just using a Bulu spread from a random Bulu I found somewhere in my teambuilder. It should be way faster, at the very least faster than all non-timid Tapu Finis.

  • 156+ Atk Tapu Bulu Wood Hammer vs. 236 HP / 76 Def Tapu Fini: 176-210 (100.5 – 120%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 156+ Atk Tapu Bulu Wood Hammer vs. 252 HP / 236 Def Mega Gardevoir in Grassy Terrain: 165-195 (94.2 – 111.4%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO

Incineroar @ Assault Vest
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 172 HP / 116 Atk / 60 Def / 140 SpD / 20 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– U-turn

Fairly standard AV Incineroar, an HP stat of 192 was chosen to maximize Grassy Terrain recovery. I wasn’t really sure just how much I would use Flare Blitz so maybe going for a higher HP stat to take less Flare Blitz recoil was the play instead. Though I really can’t complain about this Incineroar. The reason for that is that my firey cat only had 60 Special Defense EVs on cart instead of 140 and I didn’t notice until after the tournament. 20 Speed EVs was enough to outspeed most opposing Incineroar on Trick Room teams while being slower than ones on teams that rely more on Tailwind, and I was fine with that.

U-turn was chosen over other options like Taunt, Low Kick and Snarl because it gave me the option of bringing in frailer team members safely very late into the turn since Incineroar is so slow. I was also able to switch out Gengar and bring it back in at the end of the turn, effectively protecting it and keeping Shadow Tag alive.

  • 116+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss: 224-266 (101.3 – 120.3%) — guaranteed OHKO
  • 228+ SpA Tapu Fini Hydro Vortex (175 BP) vs. 172 HP / 140 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 164-194 (85.4 – 101%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO

Greninja @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Protean
Level: 50
EVs: 244 Atk / 220 SpA / 44 Spe
Lonely Nature
– Gunk Shot
– Ice Beam
– Dark Pulse
– Mat Block

Greninja was chosen as the last member of the team mainly to have another strong attacker that threatens Fairy types. A Pokemon that can outspeed and OHKO Tapu Koko is crucial on the team especially given the lack of speed control, hence the Choice Scarf. (Almost) Max attack was chosen in order to deal as much damage as possible to Faity-types. With Fake Out chip damage from Incineroar, you can reasonably expect to knock out an opposing Tapu Fini with a Gunk Shot on neutral as well as Koko at -1. Ice Beam OHKOs virtually every AV Landorus-T. Dark Pulse was used for extra coverage and not used much, Rock Slide might have been the better call.

Mat Block is a very good move that allows your Kommo-o to set up for free. It wasn’t used a lot but did its job when it was. You have to be careful when using it since you have to switch out again the next turn and it’s very easy to lose all your momentum that way, especially if your opponent predicted it.
44 Speed EVs let you outspeed Modest Choice Scarf Tapu Lele. I didn’t feel the need to go any faster than that and the lack of extra speed never came into play so I’m fairly happy with this Greninja.

  • -1 244+ Atk Protean Greninja Gunk Shot vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Koko: 138-164 (94.5 – 112.3%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
  • 244+ Atk Protean Greninja Gunk Shot vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Tapu Fini: 162-192 (92.5 – 109.7%) — 50% chance to OHKO

Team Play

The general idea of the team is simple: Bring Kommo-o into a position where it can set up and sweep.

It is geared with enough tools to reliably make you do that: Shadow Tag, two Fake Outs, Mat Block, Hypnosis and Grassy Terrain to prevent Misty Terrain’s damage reduction on Dragon type moves.

Your best tool by far though is Shadow Tag, letting you trap in Kommo-o answers to deal with them easily before your Kommo-o comes in to clang. Gengar itself being able to deal huge amounts of damage to Fairy types is crucial.

Alternatively, trapping in Pokémon that can’t deal with Kommo-o also works, in that case you boost in front of them and try to knock them out. You can then let Kommo-o go down once you took the knockouts you wanted and clean up their Kommo-o answers / fairy types with your other team members.

I mentioned previously that the team lacks good speed control, as well as good ways to shut opposing ones down. And that really becomes noticeable against Tapu Koko, which you fairly frequently have to win speed ties against. That is, of course, circumventable with Fake Outs or just letting another member KO it, but still occurs quite often because when either player finds themselves in a bad position and sees a way of letting the game come down to a speed tie, there is no reason not to go for it if other options rely on reads or the opponent simply messing up. Luckily, my Gengar ate some rainbow beans so it won every single speed tie.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

These are the 4 Pokémon you will bring most often, it’s the main core just like on (almost) any other Kommo-o team. The most common lead is Gengar Kommo-o, immediately forcing your opponent to switch in a Kommo-o answer if they did not lead one already, letting them stare down a Mega Gengar while you’re free to switch out your Kommo-o to deal with their potential fairies first.

Gengar Incineroar is a viable lead as well if you want to scout out what your opponent is doing or feel like you need Fake Out pressure immediately. Then U-turning out while Shadow Tag is active is great since there is no way for your opponent to punish that or react to it.

The gravity mode. Leading Gengar and Meowstic is the way to go, but you can make a case for leading Kommo-o over either of them depending on the matchup. Used when either your opponent doesn’t have a way of shutting down Hypnosis since they lack Fini/Koko, or when you need to connect multiple Focus Blasts in order to win. You can get away with missing Focus Blast fairly often (especially on Incineroar since it can’t really hit you), but in some matchups, you don’t. You have a lot of options to play this, you can either get off huge attacks right away with Helping Hand, Sludge Bomb, or Thunder Wave Hex, you can spread paralysis on faster Pokémon so your slower Pokémon can outspeed them later. Or, you can set Gravity and switch out into Kommo-o the next turn while Gengar puts opponents to Sleep so your Kommo-o can freely boost. Of course, sometimes you gamble a bit with sleep turns, but that’s nothing new.

Alternative gravity mode if the opponent plays a single Tapu team with Bulu or has no Tapu at all. Makes you super weak to Landorus-T so be aware.

This combination of Pokémon is used when you need an extra Poison type attacker or particularly struggle with an opposing Landorus-T (the special ones are a pain to deal with). Usually the lead is Greninja Kommo-o, but both Gengar Kommo-o and Gengar Greninja are viable options if you want your Gengar to be on the field immediately. Threatening Mat Block turn 1, although easily rendered useless with Fake Out, is huge as it forces a defensive play by your opponent, which you can potentially read and just go for Gunk Shot or Ice Beam instead, catching a switch-in.

Managing to get Gengar in safely is difficult with this combination since you can’t just go for the safe U-turn play, so making correct calls becomes more important.

Team Match-ups

In team preview, look for every possible way your opponent can get rid of Kommo-o. Since you almost always bring Gengar, Kommo-o and Bulu together, ask yourself if you’d rather want Meowstic, Incineroar or Greninja. Then try to guess what your opponent’s strategy is against you, and look for ways to shut it down. Trick Room being particularly tricky here, so make sure to either position yourself in a way that you can still fight against their Trick Room mode if they get it up, or stall it out with Protects and Fake Outs.

One general piece of advice is that if you get a chance attack with Kommo-o, boosting right away is not always the play, especially in some Trick Room matchups. Not boosting gives you the option of switching out the next turn, scouts out Fairy switch-ins and still gives you the option to go for a strong boosting attack the next turn.

Another crucial part of playing the team is managing to KO Tapu Koko without risking a speed tie if you don’t bring Greninja. As you can tell by the 6 speed ties during the tournament, that is quite difficult as the team is not well equipped to let you do that. Taking bad trades in order to KO Koko or at least bring it into Flamethrower range for Kommo-o is a thing you have to do a lot of the time. Aim for having the Koko trapped in against your Gengar and Tapu Bulu as that should guarantee a knockout onto it even if you have to go for a speed tie.

Another thing worth mentioning is going for blind Hypnosis. Since Meowstic is rarely brought, you’d think Gengar has 1.5 dead moves on its set, but that is not the case. Blind Hypnosis can be a reasonable play when you’re behind and don’t have many other options. Think about it as a Rock Slide with better odds.

Good Match-ups

Zard-Y Teams (Charizard-Y, Landorus-T, Tapu Koko, Snorlax + 2 others)

Bring: Gengar, Kommo-o, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar

Zard-Y teams are fairly easy to deal with. Tapu Koko is often the only Pokémon that can hit Kommo-o for meaningful damage. A potential Lele is easily dealt with by Sludge Bombing unless they are scarfed so make sure to scout that out before going for it. Sometimes bringing Meowstic makes sense to enable Focus Blasts against an opposing Porygon2 or Tyranitar, or Greninja becomes an option if they have 2 Tapus or feature a special Choice Scarf Landorus-T.

Metagross Ttar (Mega Metagross, Tyranitar, Zapdos, Tapu Fini or Tapu Lele)

Bring: Gengar, Kommo-o, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar

Again, this team usually has limited ways of dealing damage to Kommo-o. There are still plenty of ways this can go wrong though. The commonly seen Amoonguss can Spore and Clear Smog your Kommo-o, reducing its effectiveness by a lot. Metagross threatens good damage on Kommo-o before and even after the boosts and an opposing Tapu Fini in Tailwind can also be tricky. Meowstic over Incineroar is also really good here if they lack a Clear Smog Amoonguss.

Bad Match-ups

Rain

Bring: depends on the rest of their team

Ludicolo is a really big problem unless they’re slower than your Scarf Greninja. This is the one matchup where the lack of speed really comes back to haunt you. The combination of huge Water-type attacks and Hurricanes can sweep through your whole team while Tailwind makes it basically impossible for you to have a speed advantage at any point in the game. I did not respect Rain in teambuilding at all. You have to outplay them constantly in order to win. Kommo-o can still sweep common Rain teams, but getting it into a position to do that without taking too much damage is incredibly difficult.

Semi Trick Room Teams (Incineroar, Tapu Koko and either Porygon2+Araquanid or Mega Gardevoir)

Bring: Gengar, Incineroar, Kommo-o, Tapu Bulu

This matchup is not terrible at all, but it’s not in your favor. Trick Room, as the name implies, is very tricky. Preventing Trick Room from going up is a thing you can rarely ever do, especially if they have the faster Incineroar. I would actually argue that teams with Mega Gardevoir instead of Porygon2 are a little bit easier to deal with because you can actually knock Gardevoir relatively early in the game since it can’t Recover. P2’s Ice Beams deal concerning damage to Kommo-o, even when boosted, and combined with Araquanid’s strong Z-Move, your team isn’t going to last long in Trick Room. Make sure to time your Z-Move correctly. You don’t want to be stuck in TR on half HP. Your win condition is stalling it out and preventing it from being set again. Make sure to have enough resources left to deal with Tapu Koko afterwards.

Rundown of Tournament

Round 1 vs Andrea Di Francesco (4-3, T32) WW
Charizard-Y, Landorus-T, Tapu Koko, Bronzong, Snorlax, Scrafty

First round of the tournament and I’m already paired against one of Europe’s highest ranked players in terms of CP. A bit scared, I went into team preview and saw a Zard-Y Snorlax team, a matchup very heavily in my favor. Since there was not much that could have gone wrong there, I comfortably win 2-0.

Round 2 vs Angel Cortes (5-2, T16) WLW
Metagross-M, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Porygon2, Araquanid

Round 3 vs Dennis Kling (2-5) WLW
Zapdos, Tapu Fini, Ferrothorn, Blaziken-M, Landorus-T, Milotic

The only thing I remember about this set is haxxing him out a little in G1. It involved a full para on the turn I Thunder Waved and a 3 turn sleep and I needed both of them in order to win.

Round 4 vs Lukas Müller (6-1, Runner-Up) LL
Metagross-M, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Porygon2, Araquanid

R4 and I’m paired against Knappi, woo. This happens a lot. As I’ve said previously, this team is not a particularly good matchup since my ways of beating the Trick Room are very limited. He seemed very prepared for the Kommo-o matchup, playing his U-turn Incineroar beautifully to circumvent the Shadow Tag. Both games were somewhat close, but it wasn’t enough. I couldn’t manage to get Kommo-o into a position to knock out his Porygon2, so my team took too much damage from Ice Beams.

Round 5 vs Alin Florin Popescu (4-3) LWW
Charizard-Y, Landorus-T, Tapu Koko, Tapu Lele, Kartana, Pheromosa

Round 6 vs Javier Señorena (5-2, T16) WLW
Metagross-M, Tapu Koko, Landorus-T, Volcarona, Azumarill, Amoonguss

The match against Proman was interesting. He leads Koko and Volcarona G1, I lead Kommo-o Greninja. Thinking he has to respect the possibility of a Gunk Shot or Mat Block, I figured he’d go for a Protect or switch with his Koko so I went for Gunk Shot into Volcarona instead and boosted with Kommo-o. Koko indeed protected, while Volcarona didn’t get to move since the combination of Gunk Shot and Clangorous Soulblaze was enough to knock it out. I easily win from there. Volcarona looked awfully bulky based on the Gunk Shot damage, and next game I found out why.

Same leads G2, this time I go for Gunk Shot into Tapu Koko thinking that the Volcarona can’t do too much against me. Well, except using Rage Powder. The possibility of that move didn’t occur to me since he already had an Amoonguss on the team, and a second Rage Powder seemed a bit redundant. A little bit baffled but also disappointed that I didn’t respect Rage Powder as an option I start thinking about G3 as G2 is pretty much over at this point without Kommo-o.

G3 I manage to win.. on a Gengar – Koko speed tie of course. I had counted them up until this point, and this was the 6th and last one in the tournament.

Round 7 vs Nathan Aubert (5-2, T16) WLW
Kangaskhan-M, Landorus-T, Tyranitar, Zapdos, Cresselia, Aegislash

No Tapus? Top Cut here I come! Or, so I initially thought. He actually made the set quite difficult and even managed to win G2 after I played too safe when I shouldn’t have. Props to him for not making this easy for me!

Top 8 vs Alessio Astrea LWW
Manectric-M, Tapu Bulu, Tapu Fini, Suicune, Heatran, Hitmontop

Being told about the team he was playing the day before, I had plenty of time to prepare, but decided to have a little bit of fun with my friends instead since the matchup appeared to be in my favor anyway. All I figured out is that he would bring Manectric, Tapu Fini, Suicune and Heatran every time and has very little reason to bring Hitmontop and Bulu. While that turned out to be correct, I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about his sets, and no knowledge whatsoever about the Tapu Fini, which is the one Pokémon I would have most appreciated knowing anything about.

G1 I give up Bulu early for free, leaving me with too little damage output against Suicune and Fini. Oops, but at least I found out that Tapu Fini was Choice Specs. I lost that game and moved on to game 2.

G2 came down to a blind Focus Blast onto either Heatran or Suicune, I don’t exactly remember. Even though I brought Meowstic that game, it went down before it could set Gravity again.

G3 I played the matchup how it was supposed to be played, at least I think so. There was little he could have done and I even connected multiple blind Focus Blasts at the end of the game, although those didn’t matter since Meowstic was still alive and I would have switched it in upon missing the first one. While played very suboptimally overall, I was happy to make it into the semifinals and to secure my first brick!

Top 4 vs Lukas Müller LL
Metagross-M, Tapu Koko, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Porygon2, Araquanid

The rematch from R4 of swiss. Surprisingly, I wasn’t very motivated to win the event. My goal was to have fun with a Gravity team and doing well just felt like a bonus to me. With no prize money on the line, my worlds invite already being secured and Knappi’s need for CP to stay in contention for a Day 2 invite. I still tried to win, but I don’t really think I gave my best.

The match itself was over fairly quickly, it played out very similarly to our match the day before, just with each player taking less time each turn because we already knew exactly what we were supposed to do. He comes out on top, again, but I still came close.

Huge congrats to him for coming second in the tournament!

This wraps up the tournament run. Not gonna lie, I got pretty lucky overall. Matchups were great, Gengar winning all the speed ties and some other small fortunes here and there.

Conclusion

While I feel the team was bad in a sense it still performed really well though (with a little luck involved tbf), and I think a big part of the reason why is that a majority of players don’t respect Kommo-o as an archetype. They do a little bit more now but not so much at the time of the tournament. Techs against it were not a thing at all and I had the impression that a lot of my opponents did not have a game plan based on the way they played it. I repeatedly heard people say “stupid cowmoo” during day 1.

Just because you dislike an archetype doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be preparing for it. Asking for a gentleman’s agreement to not use Kommo-o on Twitter doesn’t do the trick either.
There are plenty of ways to deal with Kommo-o so make sure to feature them on your teams!

Thanks

Big shoutouts to my friends Nils (@truebluenils), Ali (@JingJaoh), Lukas (@BiG_ReLaXo) and Linie (@VGCLinie) for making Saturday night so enjoyable and Eike (@EiMaGiVGC) for singing a lullaby for me when I couldn’t sleep Friday night!

Credit to r8a-creations for the featured image

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