Hello, my name is Jake Smith, but those of you on showdown and twitter probably know me as TheLoanRanger. I have only been a VGC competitor for about a year and a half (my first event was in December 2016), and this was my first Regional top cut ever! I had a ton of fun, and getting to use Mudsdale (one of my favorite Pokémon introduced in gen 7) successfully in the VGC 2018 format is more than I could have asked for. In this article, I will attempt to go in-depth about why I chose to use the Pokémons, sets and spreads that I did.
- 2nd Place Madison Regional 2018
Mudsdale @ Figy Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 196 Atk / 76 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– High Horsepower
– Rock Slide
– Heavy Slam
I chose to run Mudsdale is because I liked his ability to threaten the common LeleGross core. Since 3 different players top cut the Roanoke Regional the week before with that core, I expected it to be one of the more common team archetypes I would face. With High Horsepower doing around 75% to no bulk Mega Metagross, and Heavy Slam knocking out Tapu Lele in one hit, neither Pokémon was safe to stay in against him (especially when he’s under Trick Room). After I had selected all the Pokémon I wanted on the team, I chose Rock Slide as the final attack because my matchup against Mega Charizard Y was tough without a Rock-type move and only Mega Salamence to really check it. I ended up going with Figy Berry as the item to increase his longevity while still allowing him to run protect.
- 252+ SpA Life Orb Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 236 HP / 76 SpD Mudsdale in Psychic Terrain: 173-204 (84.3 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Figy Berry recovery
- 196+ Atk Mudsdale Rock Slide vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Mega Charizard Y: 160-192 (104.5 – 125.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 228 HP / 188 Def / 92 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
After starting the team off with Mudsdale, I knew I wanted some form of Trick Room support to allow him to outrun his opponents despite his low-speed stat. Another thing I wanted out of my Trick Room support was the ability to take on Landorus-Therian, which is probably the strongest check to Mudsdale out there. This is why I chose Porygon2 as the next slot. Its incredible bulk thanks to the Eviolite makes it a reliable Trick Room setter, and since it learns Ice Beam, it makes a switch to Landorus a lot riskier while it’s out on the field. Recover was there to keep Porygon2 healthy throughout the game, which not only allowed it to potentially set up Trick Room multiple times, but also take on bulkier Pokémon that didn’t threaten enough immediate damage by chipping them down while being able to recover off any damage it received.
The final move I ended up choosing after selecting all 6 of the Pokémon on my team, and it was a toss-up between Shadow Ball and Return. While Shadow Ball would have been nice for threatening Metagross, I opted to go for Return because a Porygon2 with an attack boost from download not only 2HKOs Lele, but it also 2HKOs Ludicolo, allowing me to avoid getting 1v1d by Calm Mind Fini.
- 252 Atk Kartana Sacred Sword vs. 228 HP / 188 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 78-94 (41.2 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 3HKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 228 HP / 92+ SpD Eviolite Porygon2 in Psychic Terrain: 76-90 (40.2 – 47.6%) — guaranteed 3HKO
Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Def / 156 SpA / 28 SpD / 20 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Calm Mind
I chose Tapu Fini as my 3rd Pokémon because of its ability to support Mudsdale with Misty Terrain. This allowed him to avoid getting statused so he could stay in front of Pokémon like Amoonguss without a Grass-type attack or the possible Drifblim with Will-O-Wisp. Not only that, but it also allowed him to take powerful Dragon-type attacks such as Kommo-o’s Clangorous Soulblaze with relative ease.
I ended up going with a Calm Mind set for Tapu Fini because of its ability to clean up an end game. Sporting 70/115/130 for bulk and Water/Fairy-typing allows it to set up in front of a good portion of the metagame. Therefore, once its checks and counters were weakened or disposed of, Tapu Fini could come in, set up a Calm Mind and sweep. I also chose to run Wiki Berry as the item to increase Tapu Fini’s longevity, as it doesn’t get any form of recovery move (outside of rest which fails in Misty Terrain).
- 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Iron Head vs 252 HP / 52+ Def Tapu Fini: 75-88 (42.3 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 4HKO after Wiki Berry recovery
- 252 SpA Mega Gengar Sludge Bomb vs 252 HP / 28 SpD Tapu Fini: 150-176 (84.7 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Wiki Berry recovery
Incineroar @ Mago Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 52 Atk / 60 Def / 148 SpD / 12 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
Incineroar was the fourth pick for my team for a couple reasons. First, I really liked the fact that he was a Fake Out user that could function in Trick Room. Being able to lead a Fake Out user next to Porygon2 in order to take an attack away from a Pokémon that could potentially prevent me from getting my speed control was really nice. Also, having the Intimidate support in order to weaken physical attackers helps a lot on a team that’s bulky like mine.
Finally, having Knock Off support on the team was helpful in order to remove the ever so common Pinch berries, as well as scout out what other potential items my opponent’s Pokémon might have and remove it. I ended up going with U-turn as my final move in order to ease prediction a little bit, allowing me to potentially take an attack that would threaten a Pokémon in the back with Incineroar and get that Pokémon in safely. Mago Berry was the item of choice because it allowed Incineroar to take more hits than he already could without it.
- -1 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Stomping Tantrum vs. 236 HP / 60 Def Incineroar: 82-98 (41 – 49%) — guaranteed 4HKO after Mago Berry recovery
- 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 after Mago Berry recovery
Kartana @ Grassium Z
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 52 HP / 100 Atk / 4 Def / 100 SpD / 252 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
After choosing 4 slower and bulkier Pokémon for my team, I wanted something fast and offensive, something that could come in and get a quick knockout or two before going down. For that role, nothing fit better than Kartana. Not only did it supply me with that hyper offensive Pokémon, but it gave me a good Fini check, which was a Pokémon that could really threaten my team. I wanted Grassium Z on my Kartana not only because it was the most solid user of a Z move on my team, but it allowed it to OHKO opposing Fini which can be trained to live a regular Leaf Blade, as well as knock out Lele in one shot even after Intimidate. Sacred Sword was coverage for Steel-types and Incineroar.
The last move was either Tailwind or Substitute. I personally am a fan of double speed control just in case one of the speed control users is a bad pick against my opponent’s team. However, Tailwind didn’t really help my team since it was slow and bulky, meaning that a lot of the Pokémon on my team couldn’t outrun my opponent’s faster Pokémon even if Tailwind was up. Because of this, I ended up going with Substitute because of its ability to ease prediction on my end.
- -1 100 Atk Kartana Bloom Doom (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Lele: 148-175 (101.3 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 52 HP / 100 SpD Kartana in Psychic Terrain: 118-140 (83.6 – 99.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite
EVs: 60 Atk / 196 SpA / 252 Spe
– Hyper Voice
With 5 Pokémon already picked, I wanted a solid Mega Pokémon to round it out. At the time, I had nothing that resisted Ground-type attacks on my team, meaning a Z ground Landorus-Therian would threaten a lot of damage to any potential switch in. That’s why I ended up choosing to go with Mega Salamence on my team. Boasting the Flying-type as well as Intimidate prior to mega evolving allows Mega Salamence to be a nice check to Landorus. Also, it gave me another more hyper offensive Pokémon to pair with Kartana in case I wanted to go with a lead that threatened a good amount of damage right off the bat. Because Kartana took the place of my physically hyper offensive Pokémon, I decided to go with a more specially biased mixed Salamence.
Hyper Voice gaining STAB and a slight boost of power thanks to the Aerilate ability that Salamence gains after mega evolving made that the most reliable form of damage. Double-Edge was the next slot in order to still threaten damage on more specially defensive Pokémon such as Tapu Lele and Tapu Fini. Finally, the last slot went to Flamethrower in order to hit Steel-types super effectively, most notably Mega Metagross. Since Mega Salamence was the only Pokémon on my team that could outrun Mega Metagross naturally, it gave me a way to come in and revenge kill it in a dire situation.
- 60 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Lele: 148-175 (101.3 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
The team was built according to my favorite playstyle, bulky offense. I personally like using teams that utilize Pokémon that can eat up hits and then dish them out in return. Using a team like this might be a little difficult at first because it is so anti-meta, but after some getting used to it can be quite threatening. The most important thing you need to remember when using the team is protecting your wincon. Take some time to figure out your end game, and then protect that end game. For example, if your end game is Fini, try not to throw it into attacks unless you absolutely have to.
The team has a lot of potential Pokémon that can be a wincon. Tapu Fini and Mudsdale are going to be the most common because of their ability to tank hits and dish them out in return. Kartana and Mega Salamence can also clean up, however it’s a little trickier to do so with these Pokémon since they’re not nearly as bulky so you could accidentally lose them before they can sweep. Finally, even Porygon2 can be the end game if your opponent doesn’t have any way to break it and you can stall their Pokémon out.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
This lead is a passive one, and while it works best if you plan to win with Mudsdale in the back, it is still a solid lead if your wincon is Tapu Fini. Being able to threaten Fake Out alongside your Trick Room user makes getting the speed control up a lot easier. You can then use these two Pokémon to soften your opponent’s team up before potentially losing one or U-turning with Incineroar in order to get a safe switch in to your wincon in the back.
This lead is a much more hyper offensive lead, not requiring speed control to start threatening big damage. This lead also works well whether your wincon in the back is Tapu Fini, Mudsdale, or Porygon2. With this lead, you are most likely going to do as much damage as possible before your Pokémon go down, which allows you to get the safe switch into your wincon in the back in order to finish up the game.
This core of Pokémon is similar to the AFK core from 2017, having only the Arcanine change to Incineroar. You get the Fire, Water, and Grass STAB coverage from these Pokémon, which allows them to cover each other’s weaknesses. Also, Incineroar’s Fake Out support can be really helpful to Tapu Fini and Kartana by taking an attack away from a mon that could potentially stop these Pokémon from setting up.
Mudsdale and Porygon2 actually have a decent amount of offensive synergy. Porygon2’s Ice Beam allows you to hit flying and Grass-type Pokémon which Mudsdale can’t hit with its STAB, and Mudsdale can break through Steel-types that Porygon2 would have trouble dealing damage to. And, of course, with Porygon2 rocking the Trick Room support, it can give Mudsdale that boost he needs to his speed to allow him to break his foes before he can get hit.
Going into team preview, you kind of want to think backwards. Figure out which Pokémon is going to finish the game off, and usually bring that in the back. Then try to figure out what Pokémon your opponent might have that threaten that Pokémon, and bring the Pokémon on your team that can deal with those threats. If you find yourself in a bad situation, utilize the teams bulk to pivot around in order to try to swing momentum back in your favor. Also, don’t sack Pokémon unless they’ve done what they have to. For example, you don’t want to end up in a situation where it’s a Calm Mind Fini 1v1 if you can avoid it by keeping your Kartana around, even if it’s at low health.
This was the team I was prepared for the most because of how successful it has been throughout the entirety of the format. Having just about every Pokémon on the team being able to either take hits from the Pokémon on this team or dish them out in return means that getting a solid footing shouldn’t be too difficult. Leading Porygon2 and either Incineroar or Mudsdale give you a good chance of getting the Trick Room up early on, which then allows you to start launching off big hits that are hard to switch into.
Teams that are bulkier with a smaller immediate damage output are also a more positive matchup to run into. A good example of this kind of team would be a Fini + Misty Seed Celesteela core. The bulky offensive nature of my team allows it to still do enough damage to these more defensive Pokémon, while generally not being threatened by too much damage in return, allowing the team to break the opposing team’s Pokémon faster than it can be whittled down. Against a team like this, your endgame is usually going to be something like Porygon2 or Tapu Fini, so you want to keep those in the back and lead an offensive mon that takes care of whatever Pokémon your opponent might have that threatens your wincon in the back. For example, if you want to win with Tapu Fini, but your opponent has a Mega Venusaur, it’s not a bad idea to lead Mega Salamence in order to prevent it from getting free turns.
Now, this was a matchup I didn’t have a lot of experience facing because I was unsure of how much I’d actually run into it. Both of the losses I took during the course of the tournament ended up being to the new CHALK team that has been growing in popularity. While the matchup isn’t unwinnable, the team’s ability to have a surefire answer to every single Pokémon on my team makes it difficult. In order to win this, it might be the best idea to use game one in order to get as much information about what sets your opponent is running as possible, and use that to your advantage even if it means you have to drop a game.
Rain with Ludicolo
The reason rain is another difficult matchup is because of its ability to break through even the bulkier side of the team. Ludicolo’s Waterium Z move with a helping boost has the potential to knock out Porygon2 in one hit, and Tapu Fini isn’t safe either because it’s weak to Ludicolo’s Grass-type STAB. I believe the best gameplan against rain is to lead off with Kartana and Salamence since they both have the ability to knock out Ludicolo in one shot, and use them to get rid of the damage dealers on your opponent’s team as soon as you can.
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1 vs Austin Weber (1-6) WW
(Bronzong, Vikavolt, Mega Camerupt, Hariyama, Cloyster, Tapu Lele)
Round 2 vs Calvin Chan (3-4) WW
(Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Incineroar, Celesteela, Landorus-Therian, Mega Venusaur)
Round 3 vs Preston Gadling (4-3) WLW
(Politoed, Tapu Lele, Landorus-Therian, Ludicolo, Mega Metagross, Zapdos)
Round 4 vs Brian Youm (8-1) LL
(Mega Kangaskhan, Tapu Fini, Heatran, Landorus-Therian, Kartana, Cresselia)
Round 5 vs Kamaal Harris (4-3) LWW
(Mega Tyranitar, Excadrill, Landorus-Therian, Torkoal, Cresselia, Tapu Lele)
Round 6 vs Kevin Swastek (4-3) WW
(Braviary, Tapu Fini, Kartana, Mega Charizard Y, Landorus-Therian, Raichu)
Round 7 vs Max Simon (5-2) LWW
(Incineroar, Tapu Bulu, Mega Gengar, Togedemaru, Mega Charizard Y, Kommo-o)
Top 8 vs Stephen Mea (6-2) WW
(Zapdos, Landorus-Therian, Aegislash, Mega Gardevoir, Tapu Fini, Incineroar)
Top 4 vs Brian Youm (8-1) LWW
(Mega Kangaskhan, Tapu Fini, Heatran, Landorus-Therian, Kartana, Cresselia)
Finals vs Paul Chua (9-1) LL
(Mega Kangaskhan, Tapu Fini, Heatran, Landorus-Therian, Kartana, Cresselia)
I thought it was kinda funny how Mudsdale was successful at the Madison Regional two years in a row. Obviously, Landorus-Therian is still going to be the better and more popular ground type in the VGC 2018 format, but Mudsdale’s niches in having a single target Ground-type attack, a Steel-type attack to threaten Fairy Pokémon, and the ability to get use out of terrains was pretty cool. Overall, the team is solid and very fun to use. It might take a bit of practice due to it being quite anti-meta as opposed to something more standard, but once you get the hang of it, I guess it has the potential to take you places.
- Shoutout to Mr Jamvad for writing a great guide to competitive Pokémon. You can pick it up at amazon.com
- Thank you to everyone from Team Ohio for being my best friends in the world who are always there to help me out when I need it, whether it’s about Pokémon or just life.
- Finally, I wanna thank the Mt Silver discord for being a great place to hang out online, as well as get team advice and find people to practice with.
Credit to tantanRG for featured image