Hello Trainer Tower! My name is Mattie Morgan (@MattieMooVGC) and I’m a VGC player from Ireland. I started playing VGC in 2014, and then started attending tournaments in 2016, playing in the Senior division for 2 seasons, where I won 2 Regionals and placed Top 4 in the NA International 2017. I became a Master in the 2017-2018 season, and so far I have enjoyed playing in Masters.
Once I got my summer holidays, I knew that I had a few tournaments coming up, so I wanted to use a solid team that I could use and learn, as I hadn’t been playing much due to exams. I decided that I wanted to take a team that has had previous success and adapt it to suit myself rather than to start from scratch. I took a look at the metagame and read some team reports and eventually decided to test the team @alekso_poke used to win the Tours Special Event in May. I really liked the team after making some adjustments and so I used it at the Sheffield Regional Championships, Valencia Special Event and of course the online World Championships Challenge (which had 113 players and over $1500 in prize money on the line). The online World Championships is the tournament that this team report will follow. I also used it in the NA International Championships Challenge, where I lost in the first round of Top Cut. Now, let’s go over some of CHALK’s previous successes!
- Paul Chua (@Paul_Chua_1) – Madison Regional Win / NA International Championship Top 4
- Chen Chih Chun – Taiwan Regional Win
- Alekso Letexier (@alekso_poke) – Tours Special Event Win
- Brian Youm (@Seven_poke) – Roanoke Regionals Top 4 / Madison Regionals Top 4
- Carson St Denis – NA International Championship Top 16
Cresselia @ Psychium Z
EVs: 180 HP / 252 SpA / 76 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Trick Room
Cresselia plays a massive role on this team. Cresselia is my sole method of speed control, and max Special Attack combined with Psychium Z allows it to deal heavy damage to most Pokémon in the format, meaning that it is rarely dead weight and almost always poses a threat to the opponent. Despite the seemingly low bulk investment, Cresselia still has fantastic defensive stats, capable of taking many hits. Icy Wind provides great support, slowing down opponents, which I utilised heavily as it works great with the team due to the fairly average speed stats of most of the members and 76 Speed EVs allow Cresselia to outspeed Adamant 252 Speed Mega Salamence. Trick Room gives the team a second mode, and counteracts opposing speed control. The team has assets to abuse Trick Room well, especially after KOing Incineroar if the opponent has one. Protect may seem like an odd choice, but it has been a really great move for me. Since Cresselias doesn’t normally carry Protect, players assume they can target it with no drawbacks. It is great for absorbing double ups and Z moves, and helps a lot in terms of stalling out Tailwind and Trick Room turns.
- 252+ SpA Cresselia Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 144-169 (99.3 – 116.5%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Cresselia Icy Wind vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Landorus-T: 88-104 (53.3 – 63%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 180 HP / 0 SpD Cresselia in Electric Terrain: 160-189 (73.3 – 86.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Heatran (M) @ Shuca Berry
Ability: Flash Fire
EVs: 244 HP / 252 SpA / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
– Earth Power
Heatran hits like a truck and provides several useful resistances, mainly to Fire, Grass and Flying, which the team otherwise can struggle with. Shuca Berry is the most common Heatran item, and I saw no reason to change it, as it gave a lot more flexibility when playing against Landorus and Metagross. Fire and Ground coverage hits almost every Pokémon in the meta for at least neutral damage, the main exclusions being Mega Charizard Y, which doesn’t really matter as it is walled by Heatran and Mega Salamence. Flamethrower was chosen over Heat Wave mainly due to its 100% accuracy, and the added single target power has its benefits. I added Toxic after Sheffield, where I ran Roar. I wanted to run Toxic somewhere on the team to counteract the influx of Calm Mind Cresselia at the time (which was an almost auto loss depending o), and decided that this was the most fitting place to put the move, as it helped with a lot of things Roar was used for, such as Snorlax and Salamence.
- 252+ SpA Heatran Flamethrower vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Mega Metagross: 156-186 (100 – 119.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252+ SpA Heatran Earth Power vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 106-126 (53 – 63%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Landorus-T Earthquake vs. 244 HP / 0 Def Shuca Berry Heatran: 146-174 (74.1 – 88.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- -1 252 Atk Kartana Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 0 Def Heatran: 84-100 (42.6 – 50.7%) — 2% chance to 2HKO
Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 180 HP / 36 Atk / 12 Def / 244 SpD / 36 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Knock Off
I consider Kartana to be the glue of the team. It has wide offensive kit, having at least one move to hit the vast majority of the metagame. It defensive typing is fabulous, boasting 9 resistances and an immunity and only 2 weaknesses. This EV spread is stolen directly from Alekso’s report, except that I removed some Attack and placed it in Speed, making Kartana reach 134 Speed for some general speed creep, and also allowing it outspeed Tapu Koko after an Icy Wind. Other than that, I saw no reason to change the spread. I wanted it to be slower than my own Kangaskhan so that it could set up KOs for Kartana in order to get Beast Boosts. It gives Kartana a respectable amount of special bulk, and it takes most resisted special hits with ease, allowing it to switch in on a plethora of attacks. The utility of Knock Off is great, as it can punish even Pokémon that would wall the team or chunk out damage to a FIWAM berry Pokémon even when Intimidated. Overall, Kartana has the ability to cleans up games, and my game-plan regularly involves paving a path for Kartana by getting rid of the threats to it.
- 36+ Atk Kartana Smart Strike vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Tapu Lele: 186-222 (105 – 125.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 180 HP / 244 SpD Assault Vest Kartana in Electric Terrain: 89-105 (56.6 – 66.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Rock Slide
Standard Choice Scarf Landorus-T. Provides intimidate support for the team, and is the only Pokémon that is very fast on this team. U-turn is the move I use the most; I think it is one of the best moves in the game due to the positioning and momentum it offers. I have won many games by setting up for an end game Earthquake sweep. Superpower hits Incineroar, Kartana, Snorlax and other Pokémon that are weak to Fighting for a lot of damage. Rock Slide gives useful coverage against Pokémon like Charizard and Zapdos, and spread damage that doesn’t hit your partner is nice to have, not to mention the 30% flinch of course which can give you a chance to win some games that would probably be lost otherwise.
- -1 252+ Atk Landorus-T Earthquake vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 110-132 (55 – 66%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ Atk Landorus-T Superpower vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kartana: 130-154 (96.2 – 114%) — 75% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Muddy Water vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Landorus-T: 122-146 (73.9 – 88.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Kangaskhan-Mega @ Kangaskhanite
EVs: 12 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 236 Spe
– Fake Out
– Low Kick
Kangaskhan, the mega of the team. Although not the powerhouse it used to be back in gen 6, Kangaskhan still deals loads of damage and boasts a lot of natural bulk. A lot of Kangaskhans opt to run less speed and more bulk, but I personally prefer using a fast Kangaskhan so I can outspeed non speed boosting nature Landorus-T (I can often knock off its Choice Scarf and KO it later), most other Kangaskhans and Smeargle. Fake Out support is great to have for obvious reasons. I prefer Scrappy over Inner Focus as I think the ability to Fake Out Gengar and Mimikyu is valuable, and Kangaskhan is already faster than Incineroar, which is the main Fake Out user of the format. I personally prefer using Return than Double-Edge, but either could be used. Low Kick is mainly for Snorlax and other Kangaskhan, however, I don’t think this move is necessary and could be replaced with another move like Sucker Punch or Helping Hand. I like Protect on Kangaskhan since in general it’s a neat tool to have and additionally helps to stall opposing Tailwind or Trick Room turns. It also adds extra outplay potential to the team.
- 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Tapu Lele: 148-175 (101.3 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- -1 252+ Atk Parental Bond Mega Kangaskhan Return vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Landorus-T: 85-103 (51.5 – 62.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Tapu Fini @ Mago Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 252 SpA / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
– Calm Mind
Tapu Fini was the least used Pokémon on the team overall, however still was great when brought. It completes the Fire Water Grass core and gives the team terrain. As the format moved on, I began bringing it less and less. I opted to use Modest to maximise damage output as I didn’t want to rely on setting up. However, after just 1 Calm Mind Tapu Fini hits hard and can often be used as a win con due to it being tricky to take out with the combination of Intimidate, Calm Mind and Mago Berry (I chose Mago over Wiki to punish Bug Bite Araquanid out of Misty Terrain, but this is really situational and either berry can be used). I chose Scald over Muddy Water mainly for the 100% accuracy, but the extra power is helpful, mainly against Incineroar which Scald consistently 2HKOs. Misty Terrain helped against opposing Tapus, and the ability to negate the chance for unfortunate status inducing secondary effects.
- +1 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 136-162 (93.1 – 110.9%) — 62.5% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Fini Scald vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 114-134 (57 – 67%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 SpA Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 244 HP / 12 SpD Tapu Fini in Electric Terrain: 152-180 (86.3 – 102.2%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
There are a plethora of ways this team can be played, depending on the player and the match-up they’re against. Playing team preview well is a critical part of the game with the team. I think it is crucial to stay in control of the game, applying pressure and not taking any unnecessary damage. I also think it is key to make some reads with this team, but keep in mind the risk vs reward value when making them.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
This lead is really flexible and provides Fake Out and Intimidate from Turn 1. This is often a safe lead, and it’s easy to adjust your board position with Fake Out and U-turn. One of my favourite plays with this lead is going for U-turn and switching to Cresselia, as the following turn you can use Icy Wind or Trick Room, giving speed control and pushing the momentum in your favour.
Similar to Kangaskhan + Landorus, although this lead grants Intimidate and speed control from the beginning. Normally I try to go for speed control, but sometimes I will go on the offensive straight away and try to get an early KO, or enough damage to open up a win con for later.
When I lead this, I nearly always go for a Fake Out + Flamethrower / Earth Power to get a lot of damage off immediately. This lead is strongest when Landorus and/or Cresselia (depending on the matchup) are in the back, as it is vulnerable to Ground moves. Against Metagross-Fini teams, this is my usual lead, but Kartana is key as it switches into all of Heatran’s weaknesses (except Fighting, but that’s uncommon).
With this lead, offensive pressure is applied from the start and often the opponent is forced to react defensively with a switch. This lead is especially strong if they lead with a Pokémon weak to Kartana like Tapu Fini. Knock Off is a fairly low risk high reward move to target a slot that you predict to switch. Overall a strong lead if you call their lead correctly.
This lead is mainly used against Sun teams and Metagross + Tapu Lele teams. If neither Cresselia or Heatran can be KOd, it usually grants an opportunity to go for a Trick Room and Flamethrower / Earth Power. This lead exploits teams that struggle against Heatran and also teams that are weak to Trick Room.
As briefly mentioned earlier, team preview is an enormous part of doing well with the team. When entering a game, the first thing I do is identify my best win con and prioritise setting up for it. For example, one team might be vulnerable to Scarf Landorus-T once their Ground immunity is knocked out, and another team could struggle against Trick Room after losing their Incineroar. I would recommend having a couple of ways to win the game in your head before entering the battle (some more win cons might open up during the game, and they are important to recognise). The team doesn’t have as many issues with opposing terrain as most other teams in the format, so terrain control usually isn’t a priority. However, thinking a few turns ahead goes a long way, and will minimise the chances of being put in an uncomfortable position. The team has fantastic synergy and a ton of bulk and because of this the team generally switches a lot. The decision to go on the offensive, switch or go for a control option lies on the player of the team, and making the right call to leave yourself in the best spot is necessary. The team has the tools to get out of disadvantageous scenarios mainly with Protect, switching and Fake Out.
VS Zapdos Metagross Fini Incineroar Landorus Amoonguss
Kangaskhan Heatran / Landorus Kartana
I think this match-up is even. Kartana and Landorus-T are the two main win conditions in this match-up. Kartana threatens the majority of the team and doesn’t take much damage from Metagross, Tapu Fini or Amoonguss. I prioritise taking out the Zapdos, as it is the only Pokémon Kartana can’t hit for effective damage, and is the main thing in the way of both Kartana and Landorus-T. Normally I try to Toxic it as soon as I can. Landorus-T can often clean up with Choice Scarf Earthquake if I can manage to get everything in range of it. I recommend keeping Heatran and Kartana from taking too much unnecessary damage, as they deal with Metagross and if they both get weakened before putting it in Earthquake range, Metagross will probably clean up your team.
VS Gengar Incineroar Kommo-o Tapu Bulu
This match-up is even or slightly in CHALK’s favour. Tapu Fini and Cresselia are key in this matchup. My usual lead is Kangaskhan and Heatran. From here both of the opponent’s Pokémon are threatened by Earth Power. This match-up is where Scrappy Fake Out comes in handy. The goal in this match-up is to try and get a safe switch in to Cresselia to get Trick Room up and get into a position where it can’t be KO’d. I tend to try and get damage onto Incineroar which will force it to switch or get KO’d. The opponent can’t handle Cresselia and Tapu Fini in Trick Room at all.
In my opinion, the matchup against the majority of Charizard teams is in CHALK’s favour. The usual plan is leading Cresselia with either Landorus-T or Heatran, with the other in the back and the last Pokémon depends on the matchup. Keeping Heatran alive is key, so it’s usually a good idea to prioritise getting rid of their Landorus if they have one. Bringing Kartana is recommended if they have a Tapu Fini. These types of teams usually struggle against Trick Room, so I nearly always set it up here.
VS Gengar Incineroar Landorus-Therian Kartana Tapu Fini + 1
I consider this matchup to be almost unwinnable if the opponent knows what they’re doing. The team really struggles with Shadow Tag and the partners of Gengar here. I usually lead Kangaskhan and Cresselia, and Z-move the Gengar on Turn 1, and if it uses Protect it is in range of Earthquake. However, they can normally trap Cresselia in and KO it with a double up. Protect on Cresselia gives you a chance, but the team just too easily pinned when it cannot switch to consistently win this match-up.
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1 VS AleK97 – (LL)
Zapdos, Amoonguss, Tapu Fini, Landorus-Therian, Mega Metagross, Incineroar
This was a scary pairing for Round 1. I tried to eliminate Zapdos with a double up from Kangaskhan and Kartana on Turn 2 of Game 1, but his Zapdos turned out to be faster than both and almost KOs Kartana with Heat Wave. That was enough to make me basically lose the game on the spot to his Tapu Fini. In Game 2 I kept this in mind but he plays better than me overall and takes the win. (0-1)
Round 2 VS MogarVGC – (WLW)
Accelgor, Mega Charizard X, Suicune, Tapu Lele, Xurkitree, Pheromosa
This team had Tailwind and Sky Drop on Mega-Charizard X, which caught me off guard. Despite being an 0-1 set, this came down to the wire and I felt good after winning it, especially due to how scary the opposing team looked on team preview. (1-1)
Round 3 VS JoeUX9 – (LWW)
Spheal, Oranguru, Mega Camerupt, Mimikyu, Ferrothorn, Tapu Fini
In all honesty, I thought this was going to be a free win, which would turn out to be a big mistake. My opponent used a fun team and enjoyed the game despite losing, which was cool to see. However, after Game 1 I knew that I would have to make sure he had as little opportunities to click Sheer Cold/Fissure as possible. I eventually win the set. (2-1)
Round 4 VS Xenoblade Hero – (LL)
Landorus-Therian, Tapu Fini, Mega Metagross, Cresselia, Rotom-Heat, Snorlax
We had already played at the Sheffield MSS, where I barely won. Since I’ve played him a few times in the past, I knew that he was good. However, this time he was using a different team. The combination of Mega Metagross and Rotom-Heat is really scary for the team. Overall, I tried my best here but he played well and beat me in both games. (2-2)
Round 5 VS zwinne – (WLW)
Mega Kangaskhan, Zapdos, Landorus-Therian, Heatran, Tapu Fini, Kartana
This was a near mirror matchup. I felt comfortable in the mirror though, but I knew Zapdos would be a threat. I had lost to zwinne before in a Trainer Tower Grinder, so I knew he would be a tough opponent. I had to make some reads to win this set. In Game 2 he reveals that his Zapdos carries HP Ice, so I knew Kartana would be safe in front of it going into Game 3. Super close and enjoyable set. (3-2)
Round 6 VS d4rk $h4d0w – (WW)
Gastrodon, Mega Salamence, Cresselia, Kartana, Tapu Koko, Incineroar
My opponent had a Mega Salamence team, so I knew Tapu Fini would be important. I didn’t expect him to bring Gastrodon to either game, which worked out well, but had he brought it, it would have been a big issue as I only really have Tapu Fini and Cresselia to try and break it. I managed to keep control of the game and was relieved to win. (4-2)
Round 7 VS BakedVGC – (WLW)
Kommo-o, Mega Gengar, Tapu Bulu, Incineroar, Clefairy, Azumarill
The winner of this match would be the one to advance to Top Cut. I knew this matchup fairly well, but I knew Baked was a great player, and I was beginning to get nervous. I tried my best to stay composed and made sure to follow my gameplan and ended up narrowly winning the set. (5-2)
Top 25 VS Tiddvicious – (WW)
Mimikyu, Tapu Koko, Porygon-Z, Incineroar, Celesteela, Mega Swampert
We played against each other a few months ago in the Trainer Tower Open, where if I remember correctly he outright bodied me, however I remembered that he used Choice Scarf Tapu Koko and Choice Specs Celesteela. I managed to position myself correctly and come out on top. (6-2)
Top 16 VS peppinho – (WW)
Tapu Fini, Mega Metagross, Nihilego, Incineroar, Thundurus-Therian, Lurantis
Before the game began I managed to find out what he was using and it looked like a tough matchup for me (I was mostly scared of the Thundurus and Lurantis). I was still determined to try my best to win though. Game 1 ended with my Landorus surviving Muddy Water from Tapu Fini on 1HP, which was an absolutely crazy ending, it doesn’t get any closer than that. This set was tough and prediction heavy, but I was really happy about winning it. (7-2)
Top 8 VS seanansu (zeen172M) – (LL)
Tapu Fini, Mega Gengar, Landorus-Therian, Incineroar, Zapdos, Kartana
We did not play until about 40 minutes after Top 16 had finished. From seeing the match-up, and the fact that I was playing the runner up of Japan Nationals 2017, I knew this was definitely going to be a super hard game, and I would be shocked if I won. This match was also streamed, which made things even more nerve wracking, not to mention that the winner of this round would win about $75 and get one step closer to the grand prize. I used the time I had to think about the matchup more, despite already having played it several times. I decided that if I wanted a chance I would have to almost play every turn perfectly, and so I went for a lot of risky moves, which unfortunately didn’t work out. This set was still enjoyable and I was happy I made it this far! (7-3)
I think that CHALK is still a very strong team. That being said, I think with the rise of the Gengar goodstuffs archetype, CHALK will need some changes to give it a fighting chance in this match-up. For now, I plan to see what happens at Worlds before deciding if I will continue with the team or retire it.
I’d like to give a shoutout to everyone who helped me practice with the team (there’s too many to mention individually, but you know who you are) and a special shoutout to the Rest of Europe World Cup Discord. Thanks a lot!
If you made it this far, I’m delighted you took the time to read my team report, and I sincerely hope that you enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun writing it and hopefully it helped you in some way!
Thanks for reading!
Credit to cinnamon-quails for the featured image