It’s a Trap! – Stuttgart Regional Champion Report

My name is Giuseppe Musicco and I’m a player from Italy, known online as Peppe (@peppemusicco). You may have seen me as a ladder player on Pokémon Showdown in VGC 17, with the name “Il Koho del Pardo”.

Team’s Achievements

I used this team to reach a 1800+ rating on Pokémon Showdown and then won the Stuttgart Regional Championship! This has been the first regional I attended and my biggest event so far, as I couldn’t participate in the London International because of the registration cap issue.

The Team

Link to Paste | Calc Breakdown
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Gengar-Mega @ Gengarite
Ability: Shadow Tag
Level: 50
EVs: 108 HP / 92 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Shadow Ball
– Icy Wind
– Protect

Gengar is the core of the team, based on trapping opposing Pokémon and then being in control of the game. Shadow Tag negates the opponent the possibility to switch; thus eliminating some variables of the game, letting me think two or three turns ahead more easily and with no need for predictions.

I tested Icy Wind Gengar a lot of time ago in a team that consisted of Lele Gengar Landorus-Therian Zapdos Celesteela Tyranitar, which I decided to stop using after the release of Intimidate Incineroar. Then I saw Alberto Lara playing that Gengar set in an American Regional. Basically, the purpose of Icy Wind is to do a lot of damage to powerful threats like Landorus or Salamence, while eliminating their potential speed control, which can be in the form of Choice Scarf or a Dragon Dance. Icy Wind, in combination with a support move like Fake Out, was very good to check these threats, and give a very strong mode to the team.

This particular Gengar spread makes it one point faster than Metagross and very bulky. The idea was KOing bulkless Metagross most of the time and having a favorable roll to survive its Stomping Tantrum; it also survives Tapu Koko’s Gigavolt Havoc outside of the electric terrain. The whole bulk ended up being fundamental during the tournament, in combination with Intimidate cycles; for example, I was able to survive 2 attacks from opposing Incineroars multiple times.

  • 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Stomping Tantrum vs. 108 HP / 92 Def Mega Gengar: 130-154 (87.2 – 103.3%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 108 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar: 126-148 (84.5 – 99.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Landorus-Therian @ Groundium Z
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 132 HP / 36 Atk / 124 Def / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Earthquake
– Rock Tomb
– Swords Dance
– Protect

Landorus-Therian with Groundium Z is the main way to abuse Gengar’s trapping. Many strong Pokémon in the current meta are weak to ground like Incineroar, which usually does not have protect, and this gives Gengar + Landorus the possibility to safely KO.

The Swords Dance set allows to me capitalize on opponent’s passive plays, canceling attack drops due to Intimidate, and gives me a strong win condition against Pokémon who like to set up such as Snorlax, putting on a lot of offensive pressure.

This spread makes Landorus 1 point faster than Modest Kommo-o, and bulky enough to survive most of the time some specific attacks, like -1 Metagross Ice Punch, HP Ice from Landorus or Psychic from Tapu Lele.

  • -1 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Ice Punch vs. 132 HP / 124 Def Landorus-T: 156-184 (86.1 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Landorus-T Hidden Power Ice vs. 132 HP / 4 SpD Landorus-T: 156-184 (86.1 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Kartana @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Beast Boost
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 132 HP / 148 SpD / 228 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Knock Off

Scarf Kartana is the third member I wanted in the team, although I think I didn’t completely understand its role. It worked a lot in testing and in the tournament, despite some people I showed the team to thinking it was a bad idea.

I wanted a Steel type and I thought Kartana is not a “real” steel type, because of its low Special Defense. However, with a Choice Scarf, it can be bulky enough to valorize its good typing and can have a great offensive coverage with 4 moves.

Kartana proved to be a very good late game sweeper, able to switch in and potentially taking KOes against a lot of the opponent’s weakened mons. With the Choice Scarf, it can outspeed threatening Pokémon like scarf Landorus (even with +Speed nature) or Tapu Koko. Moreso, in combination with Icy Wind, it is fast enough to outspeed some average-speed Pokémon, even when the opponent has Tailwind on their side.

  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Superpower vs. 132 HP / 0 Def Kartana: 130-154 (86 – 101.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Landorus-T Earth Power vs. 132 HP / 148 SpD Kartana: 126-148 (83.4 – 98%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Incineroar @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 36 Atk / 12 Def / 148 SpD / 76 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
– U-turn
– Fake Out

Originally, I didn’t want to bring double intimidate to this Regional, because it was very popular and people could exploit that by using Pokémon with Competitive or Defiant. However, Incineroar was too good in this team, because of its typing and the combination of Fake Out + Intimidate.

The main goal of this spread is getting the 36+ Attack bump, surviving Gigavolt Havoc from Koko and outspeeding Metagross-Mega in Tailwind. Slow U-Turn is a nice filler move and works well with Gengar’s trapping ability.

  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Landorus-T Superpower vs. 236 HP / 12 Def Incineroar: 174-206 (87 – 103%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar in Electric Terrain: 169-199 (84.5 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Tapu Fini @ Leftovers
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 116 SpA / 36 SpD / 28 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Muddy Water
– Calm Mind
– Protect

At this point, I wanted a Tapu in the team. The best pick, in my opinion, was Tapu Fini, thanks to its defensive and offensive synergy with the rest of the team. More importantly, Fini has a very good natural bulk, that gives me out to very offensive or Trick Room based teams, especially in combination with Calm Mind.

Usually I’d prefer running a super berry on this Fini’s set, but I had the idea of using Leftovers because of the rising usage of the Porygon2 + Araquanid core. This Trick Room mode can be easily stalled out by Leftovers Fini, which can’t be Bug Bited and can freely setup while also slowly recovering every turn. However, I think that the berry would be better than Leftovers against mons like Gengar, Koko or Zapdos.

  • 148+ SpA Mega Gengar Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 36 SpD Tapu Fini: 152-180 (85.8 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ Atk Landorus-T Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Tapu Fini: 151-178 (85.3 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Latias @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 172 HP / 12 Def / 156 SpA / 4 SpD / 164 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psychic
– Icy Wind
– Helping Hand
– Tailwind

The first 5 mons showed to be in trouble against teams with Tailwind, in particular with Zapdos, for which I had no immediate offensive answer.

Latias, having both Tailwind and Icy Wind, showed to be very strong in this context, giving flexibility with multiple ways of speed control, but also being able to deal a lot of damage to Landorus. Helping Hand works well in combination with Gengar and Landorus, but also with Kartana. Furthermore, it is able to check weather teams, Sun in particular, because it walls the entire core of Charizard-Y + Landorus + Koko (from which it takes less than 50% with regular Dazzling Gleam).

This spread makes it able to outspeed Timid Kommo-o, but it only can survive Timid Kommo-o’s Z-move 3/4 times. The special attack is enough to KO 108 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar most of the time.

Before the tournament, I was not sure if Latias was the best slot to choose, because its Psychic-type has a bad synergy with Gengar’s Ghost-type. Also, Zelda’s challenge was won by William Tansley, who used a Metagross Good Stuff team, with double dark: Incineroar + Mega Tyranitar. I honestly think double dark is not very good, but it would give a lot of trouble to this team, despite being totally checked by Landorus + Fini. Tansley himself said Tyranitar was useless in the tournament he played, so I hoped people realized how Amoonguss was a better pick in that team.

  • 156+ SpA Latias Psychic vs. 108 HP / 4 SpD Mega Gengar: 146-174 (97.9 – 116.7%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Mega Gengar Shadow Ball vs. 172 HP / 4 SpD Latias: 146-174 (82.4 – 98.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Team Play

The main way to play this team is abusing Gengar’s ability, leading it most of the time. The goal is to trap the opponent, leaving you in a good position to clean the field with the great offensive pressure of the other members of the team, combined with Gengar’s. It is fundamental to evaluate the positioning you have in the current turn as well as the one you’ll have in the next turns.

Throughout the tournament, I discovered also how the Tailwind mode with Latias was a solid back up plan, when Gengar was not the best pick in the matchup.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

GENGAR + INCINEROAR: The Fake Out pressure, in combination with Icy Wind, is very good to punish Pokémon like Scarf Landorus. Also, if an opponent leads Incineroar, a Landorus switch in can be made to trap it in and then safely throw a Z-move.

GENGAR + LATIAS: I used this lead when my opponent had the Tailwind speed control, which I wanted to match with my own Tailwind. Latias also supports Gengar in checking Landorus or throwing powerful attacks with Helping Hand.

GENGAR + LANDORUS: This was my standard lead vs Kommo-o, with Fini and Incineroar in the back.

LATIAS + ANYTHING: In any match up Gengar was bad, leading Latias was the backup plan, in order to take advantage of my own speed control. Also, a Latias lead works well against Sun and some Rain teams.

Team Match-ups

One important feature of the team is having the possibility with 5 out of 6 mons to slow down the opponent’s Pokémon or to knock off opposing items. Scarf Special Landorus at this point of the meta has a very high usage and gives a lot of trouble to Gengar. Also, Scarf Lele gives a lot of trouble to the team.

This is why I insisted on running Choice Scarf Kartana with Knock Off and Rock Tomb on Landorus, giving up on the more popular Rock Slide, which was often used in that same set. Speed control or Knock Off work really good in checking the threatening mons I’ve mentioned.

Tapu Lele, Tyranitar-Mega, Metagross-Mega/Aegislash, Landorus, Zapdos, Amoonguss can be tricky to handle if Lele is scarf and Landorus has a Z-move.

Kommo-o (+ Incineroar Bulu Gengar-Mega) compositions can be difficult to beat if Kommo-o has a timid nature and thus outspeeds Landorus.

I think the team had no amazingly good matchups, but it showed solidity enough to potentially beat, if piloted well, any team of the current metagame.

Rundown of Tournament

Round 1 – Alban Badin – WLW
Salamence-Mega, Tapu Koko, Celesteela, Incineroar, Azumarill, Amoonguss

Round 2 – Dennis Kling – WW
Gardevoir-Mega, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Landorus, Incineroar, Amoonguss

Round 3 – Lukas Neier – WW
Gardevoir-mega, Raikou, Kartana, Landorus, Incineroar, Suicune

Round 4 – Matthias (Lega) Suchodolski – LWW
Latias-Mega, Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Landorus, Tyranitar, Aegislash

Round 5 – Nicholas Carvalho – WW
Gengar-Mega, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Landorus, Incineroar, Zapdos

Round 6 – Ernest Azanza – WW
Metagross-Mega, Tapu Koko, Landorus, Incineroar, Mimikyu, Snorlax

Round 7 – Michele (Gioppy) Gavelli – LL
Gardevoir-Mega, Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Landorus, Incineroar, Amoonguss

Gioppy is a very good player and we  both already qualified for top cut. So I decided to bring some a few less used Pokémon in my team and made some random plays. As this matchup is a bit complicated,  I didn’t want to show Gioppy how I would have approached it, in case we faced again in top cut.

Top 8 – Andrea Di Tivoli – LWW
Tyranitar-Mega, Tapu Koko, Kartana, Landorus, Incineroar, Togekiss

Top 4 – Arash Ommati – WW (streamed)
Gengar-Mega, Kommo-o, Incineroar, Xurkitree, Clefairy, (not) Tapu Bulu

Final – Ernest Azanza – WLW (streamed)
Metagross-Mega, Tapu Koko, Landorus, Incineroar, Mimikyu, Snorlax

I won 2-0 against Ernest in Swiss, but I knew he could come up with a solid plan to setup Snorlax, which was his strongest win condition. Kartana + Landorus felt solid vs his mimilax mode. I ended up winning game 1 with this lead and Gengar + Incineroar in the back. His Snorlax had only Frustration as an offensive move, so it couldn’t touch my Gengar; at some point of the match, I knew I could have won that game by bringing it to an endgame Gengar vs Snorlax in the worst case, so I played as safe as I could, also considering a potential Destiny Bond on Mimikyu.

Before game 2, I recognized how my previous lead was bad against his Metagross mode, so I changed to the one I used in Swiss. I led with Gengar and Incineroar, leaving Kartana and Landorus in the back. He brought Metagross and no Mimilax, so I thought I could easily win that. I managed to bring the game to a 4 vs 2 in my favour and decided to switch Kartana in my Landorus slot. He called the switch using Gigavolt Havoc on that slot, while locking his mixed scarf Landorus on Rock Slide. I honestly didn’t expect him having Rock Slide in a set with Earth Power, HP Ice, U-Turn, but his KO on my Kartana didn’t worry me: I thought I was still in control of the game. Then Rock Slide flinches and an Icy Wind miss happened. At least, this game 2 loss made the final more hype!

In game 3 Ernest decided to use his Mimilax mode again, but I called that correctly and used the same mode of game 1. I think I played well in the early game, but I also made some misplays that could have cost me the entire set. Despite that, I ended up winning the tournament.

Conclusion

The whole purpose of building this team was bringing it in this tournament as a meta call. I’m afraid it could become less effective if players get prepared for that, even by only having a good plan against it, but I can’t be sure. All the sets of the team felt right so I’m not planning to work on this team again, but in the future I think I will try building a Gengar-based team again, because it seems to be a solid and fun mega to use.

Finally, I want to thank:

Credit to Meyly for featured image

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