Hello everyone! I’m Davide Carrer, a VGC player from Milan, Italy. You may also know me from my Twitter or IGN, Nirinbo (@Nirinbo_VGC). I started playing competitively at the end of VGC 16, knowing a lot about Pokemon, but nothing about VGC itself. In roughly one year, I earned some important achievements, such as second place at Lipsia Regionals, a 2017 World Championship day two qualification and top 8 at the last International Championships held in London, using the team I will show you in this report.
I started building this team in mid-June, starting from the crazy idea of pairing Choice Scarf Milotic and Braviary together. I abandoned the latter almost immediately. Then I added the other members following a pretty straightforward method: having at least 2 Pokémon able to defeat the Top 10-15 in usage: Muk and Metagross for Tapu Lele; Milotic and Araquanid for Arcanine; Arcanine and Tapu Bulu for Celesteela (and yes, SubSeed Tapu Bulu beats Steela 1v1), and so on. I also gave a lot of attention to the matchup against FAKEPG and GACT.
I brought these six to the Liverpool Regional, without listening to Simone Sanvito, who strongly suggested to add either Porygon2 or Nihilego as a Trick Room setter. The tournament ended with a 5-3 score, 45th place, and no CP. I lost two rounds against GACT, a favorable matchup on paper for this team.
That night, I swapped Araquanid for Porygon2 to have a sort of speed control in Trick Room. The following day, without ever testing this change, I took part to the Liverpool MSS (126 players, more like a mini-Regional) and reached top 8.
For the 2017 World Championships, I decided to replace Metagross with something that could still defeat Nihilego but could also carry Fake Out, just to better handle non-standard teams and grab momentum. For day one (ended 5-2) I brought Alolan Raichu, while for day two (ended 2-5) I tried Hariyama. Both had the Assault Vest, and both made me feel Metagross’ absence, so I put it back in my team at the beginning of September.
I started earning more and more CP at Premier Challenges and MSS with these six members (except for Magnezone over Metagross at Milan MSS), experimenting with different sets. I also attended the Bilbao Special Event, where I repeated the Liverpool experience: 5-3, 37th place, no CP at the Special Event and 2nd Place at the MSS the following day, after some changes that really made the difference.
I promised myself to build something new for London, but in the end I couldn’t build anything that worked better. I was going to the most important event of the season with no huge expectations.
Milotic @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 52 Def / 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 196 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Ice Beam
– Hydro Pump
-1 252 Atk Kartana Leaf Blade vs. 4 HP / 52 Def Milotic: 150-176 (87.7 – 102.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252 Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 4 HP / 52 Def Milotic: 73-87 (42.6 – 50.8%) — 2.7% chance to 2HKO
+2 252 SpA Milotic Scald vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 144-171 (98.6 – 117.1%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
The idea comes from a Japanese player I met on Battle Spot, who astonished me with Choice Scarf Mud Sport Milotic. A source of inspiration was also Arash Ommati’s 2013 Mamoswine. It wasn’t the best Pokémon available, but thanks to the Scarf it was able to out-speed and beat some of the most common ones. There’s Ice Beam for Garchomp, Hidden Power Fire for Kartana, Competitive for Arcanine and Mud Sport for Tapu Koko (it reduces the power of all Electric-type moves by 67% for 5 turns). After some months I preferred Haze, to improve the not so easy match-up against MimiLax, and Hydro Pump (to guarantee, if it lands, the OHKO on Tapu Koko after an Extreme Speed from Arcanine). The investment in speed is made to be one point faster than Modest Scarf Tapu Fini.
Milotic is not a Pokémon I bring often, but it still heavily influences the opponent’s lead, just like Double Ducks and LilliKoal. I thought about replacing it with Tapu Fini, but it’s not enough of a deterrent for Arcanine.
Tapu Bulu @ Figy Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Atk / 84 Def / 148 SpD / 4 Spe
– Horn Leech
– Bulk Up
252+ SpA Tapu Lele Shattered Psyche (175 BP) vs. 252 HP / 148 SpD Tapu Bulu: 147-174 (83 – 98.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Garchomp Poison Jab vs. 252 HP / 84 Def Tapu Bulu: 152-180 (85.8 – 101.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
+1 20+ Atk Tapu Bulu Superpower vs. 52 HP / 4 Def Kartana: 150-178 (106.3 – 126.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
Classic Tapu Bulu with Bulk Up, a set it can use to face its many counters. Grassy Terrain is always helpful, as it removes opposing terrains and nerfs Garchomp’s Earthquake. On paper, this set can win the 1v1 with Celesteela just like the previous SubSeed, but it’s actually hard to reach the endgame at full health, in order to set up enough Bulk Ups. Moreover, Celesteela can always burn it with Flamethrower.
Arcanine @ Iapapa Berry
EVs: 140 HP / 116 Atk / 252 SpD
– Flare Blitz
– Extreme Speed
252 SpA Life Orb Nihilego Power Gem vs. 140 HP / 252 SpD Arcanine: 159-190 (86.8 – 103.8%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
116+ Atk Arcanine Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 84+ Def Celesteela: 150-176 (73.5 – 86.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Probably no one has ever used a spread like this one. This Arcanine dishes out as much damage as it can while also having almost the same special bulk as the Careful variants. The offensive investment has proven to be necessary as, after an Ice Beam from Porygon2, it KOed every Celesteela I met so far. Will-O-Wisp softens Muk, Gyarados, Mudsdale, and Buzzwole, while Roar is mandatory for the MimiLax matchup. I never felt the absence of Protect, even if it is quite useful for any Pokémon.
Muk-Alola @ Mago Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 20 Atk / 92 Def / 140 SpD
IVs: 13 Spe
– Gunk Shot
– Knock Off
252+ SpA Golduck Hydro Vortex (185 BP) vs. 252 HP / 140 SpD Muk-Alola in Rain: 183-216 (86.3 – 101.8%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
+1 20+ Atk Muk-Alola Gunk Shot vs. 252 HP / 84+ Def Tapu Fini: 180-212 (101.6 – 119.7%) — guaranteed OHKO
-1 20+ Atk Muk-Alola Gunk Shot vs. 252 HP / 60 Def Tapu Bulu: 180-216 (101.6 – 122%) — guaranteed OHKO
Rejecting the NBA (Nihilego-Bulu-Arcanine) core, I opted for Muk. Even though I know Nihilego is better at dealing with Arcanine, I already have enough countermeasures for it. Milotic is the best for just Arcanine, but Muk is superior in every other situation because it has 150 percent HP thanks to Gluttony, only one weakness and Knock Off to remove the always-common pinch Berries. Gunk Shot does a ton of damage, Curse can boost Muk’s Attack and Defense, improving its bulk to cover the fact that it has few resistances. The Speed is taken from Tommy Cooleen’s Muk, to underspeed Araquanid after one Curse, and Snorlax after two. The special defense improves my match-up against Double Ducks.
Metagross @ Groundium Z
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 HP / 60 Atk / 28 Def / 68 SpD / 100 Spe
– Meteor Mash
– Brick Break
-1 252 Atk Garchomp Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Metagross: 162-192 (86.6 – 102.6%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Tapu Koko Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 68 SpD Metagross: 82-97 (43.8 – 51.8%) — 12.9% chance to 2HKO
60+ Atk Metagross Earthquake vs. 244 HP / 20 Def Arcanine: 98-116 (50 – 59.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
I opted for Metagross to deal with Nihilego and Gigalith. The first version of this team boasted Bulldoze Arcanine and Weakness Policy Metagross, a core that worked brilliantly just until Meta-Mence appeared, and spoiled to the world the Bulldoze-WP plan. That’s why I removed Metagross from my Worlds team.
Then I decided to give it one more chance, with a new set based on one I saw at the Liverpool MSS, with Groundium Z and Agility. Arcanine and Muk usually survive a -1 non-STAB Tectonic Rage, but Metagross can OHKO them by virtue of its ability, Clear Body, which negates stats drops. However, I almost never used Agility, and wanted something to deal with Kartana. Hidden Power Fire is very situational, Hammer Arm misses the OHKO, so I went for Brick Break. It also removes opposing Aurora Veil, solving another problem I had with this team. The investment in speed made it faster than almost any other Metagross I faced, and in general it’s useful to out-speed those who stop at 102 to be faster, under Tailwind, than Pheromosa.
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP / 108 Def / 60 SpA / 84 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Tri Attack
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
252 Atk Kartana All-Out Pummeling (175 BP) vs. 244 HP / 108 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 166-196 (86.9 – 102.6%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Adaptability Porygon-Z Breakneck Blitz (200 BP) vs. 244 HP / 84 SpD Eviolite Porygon2: 164-194 (85.8 – 101.5%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
60+ SpA Porygon2 Tri Attack vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 70-84 (47.9 – 57.5%) — 90.2% chance to 2HKO
I wanted a more offensive Porygon2 to deal as much damage as possible to Arcanine and take the role once held by Araquanid. I opted for a very “early meta-like” STAB option in Tri Attack. Return is cool but gets shut down by burn and Intimidate, while Toxic can be stopped by Misty Terrain and Taunt. At first I tried it Analytic-minimum Speed, but then I changed after giving Curse to Muk, which made the ability activate less often. Analytic still makes for a valid option, but Download helped against Kartana, Torkoal and Gigalith. Finally, the higher Speed was useful against Hariyama, Muk and opposing Porygon2.
How to use this team
This quartet does great against the most common archetypes, as shown by Wolfe Glick (9th at Melbourne IC), and Gabriel Agati (top 4 at LATAM IC). I usually bring Milotic over Porygon2, but when an opposing Garchomp is particularly worrisome, bringing both is an option. Changing plans between games can make the difference, especially against expert players. I bring Metagross to deal with Nihilego, Tapu Lele, Gigalith and Ninetales. I also tend to think twice when bringing both Metagross and Tapu Bulu, as Arcanine can be quite troublesome despite the Groundium Z.
Problems for the team
Although rare, I struggle a lot against some specific match-ups, like Ducks+Buzzwole, Smeargle+Triple UB, Murkrow+Porygon-Z, Oranguru+Lucario. Against those, the downsides of playing a slow team, without Taunt and without a terrain that prevents sleep are all clearly visible. A perfect example of that is my match in the World Cup of VGC, which I badly lost against Waterium Z fast Tapu Fini with Swagger + Lum Berry Autotomize and Acrobatics Celesteela. Other annoying things are Persian, Mandibuzz and Mimikyu, but they are easier to deal with than the aforementioned cores.
During the 15 Bo3 I played in London, everything happened: I won some matches by playing well, I lost some others lost playing bad, I sometimes got lucky and sometimes got unlucky. I didn’t run into any difficult match-up during day one and cleared my way to a whopping 9-0, which helped me during day two thanks to how rating works. In fact, I only needed a 2-3 to make top 8, while 7-2 players from Day 1 had to go 5-0 on day two to secure Top Cut.
The only thing I regret happened in game three of the top 8, where a mix of anxiety and fatigue made me forget about the Analytic boost of my opponent’s Porygon2 and that Scald thaws the user. Anyway, I’m so proud and happy for the best result I achieved during my VGC career so far. I hope I’ll have the possibility to snowball the rest of the season.
Round 1 vs Luis Conejo WW
Round 2 vs Cristian Rodriguez WW
Round 3 vs Simone Sanvito WW
Round 4 vs Alessandro Graziosi WLW
Round 5 vs Joan Perello WLW
Round 6 vs Carson Confer WLW
Round 7 vs Flavio Del Pidio WW
Round 8 vs Eduardo Cunha WW
Round 9 vs Jamie Dixon WW
Round 10 vs Xabier Arauzo WLW
Round 11 vs Flavio Del Pidio WLL
Round 12 vs Simone Sanvito LWW
Round 13 vs Lorenzo Semeraro WLL
Round 14 vs Alex Gomez LWL
Top 8 vs Carson Confer LWL
I want to thank all the Italian community, in particular my friends and teammates of Team Delta. Thanks to them, my attention during the season was always high, without them I could have left the game after the first few PCs. Who knows?