I am Yuen Nga Hin (SiuHin) from Hong Kong.
Despite winning a few Midseason Showdowns and an Open in my four years of VGC career, (and getting four consecutive Worlds invites), I hadn’t (until now) won any Regionals. Fortunately, this year I won the biggest tournament in Hong Kong! Many thanks to my teammates who assisted me in team building and training, bringing me all the way through.
It all began when we thought about Mega Blaziken before a recent Midseason Showdown. The team we used quickly become the team we piloted at Hong Kong Regionals 2018.
At the beginning, the most crucial member of the team was undoubtedly Braviary, The Great Bird.
Why Braviary? I started paying attention to it after Vergil, a Hong Kong player, cut multiple tournaments using the Braviary/Fake Out/Lightningrod combination. Soon, I started building around this combo.
Me: Have you ever tested Raichu + Braviary instead of Alolan Marowak + Braviary?
Vergil: Not really, worth a test.
Just like that, we started with .
After Tailwind, I felt I needed a strong spread move that threatens Steel-types, so I opted for . Charizard Y does a ton of damage. Drought boosts its Heat Waves, fully utilizing the Tailwind to hit opponents super hard.
Of course, we need a terrain setter. I wanted another offensive mon, so this followed: ,
For this spot I wanted a mon with great offensive pressure, high speed and was good against sleep, so I chose Tapu Koko.
This lowers the pressure of opponents’ sleep moves (although three members of the team are not protected by Electric Terrain).
As Raichu (and Landorus-T) take no damage from Electric-type moves, I opted for Discharge, which has a high chance of paralysis, and, most importantly, puts a lot of pressure on Follow Me / Rage Powder + set-up teams.
So far, the team has no answers to Trick Room. That’s why for mon 5 I added .
Since 2017, Snorlax has been a good Trick Room counter or abuser, able to underspeed common TR threats and deal/soak up damage.
For the last slot, I opted for an Intimidate user, .
So Vergil and I decided to take on the Midseason Showdown with this team:
Raichu @ Focus Sash
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Volt Switch
– Helping Hand
Focus Sash allows Raichu to stay on the field for as long as possible, even through big hits. We opted for max HP investment despite having the Focus Sash, since it allows Raichu to take a combination of hits. Since Tapu Koko is widely-used in the meta, having Lightningrod to absorb electricity is super helpful to protect the Great Bird, ensuring other team members to take more hits while launching more attacks.
I went for a standard Fake Out set. It’s great not only for disruption, but also for ensuring that the Great Bird can launch Tailwind.
Volt Switch allows switching to Charizard or Landorus to gain momentum, and can also do decent damage when boosted by Lightingrod (from Koko’s Discharge, most often).
Encore is a great move. Everyone is fully aware that Raichu knows Encore, but that doesn’t reduce its usefulness. Encore can still disrupt opponents by making them think twice before clicking Protect, forcing a switch after using Protect, or disrupting set up teams.
For the last move, I considered Feint, Hidden Power Ice and Thunderbolt. I ended up with Helping Hand, however, as it drastically increases the damage output of big hits like Supersonic Skystrike, Discharge, and Heat Wave.
Braviary @ Flyinium Z
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 196 Spe
– Brave Bird
Since the release of Intimidate Incineroar the meta has been filled with Intimidate users, with some teams having both Incineroar and Landorus, or Incineroar and Salamence. Braviary takes advantage of this with its Defiant ability, which boosts its attack on being Intimidated. Besides, Braviary also has great base HP stats — with 252 EVs, it can take most big hits in the format.
HP : 16n-1
With the remaining EVs, I put 4 points on Def and Sp.Def for efficiency, and then dumped into speed.
This allows Braviary to hit explosively hard with Flyinium Z, while Superpower covers Rock and Steel-type mons (at +1 Atk, it takes out Incineroar easily). Finally, I have Tailwind for speed control.
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Sludge Bomb
– Earth Power
– Hidden Power [Ice]
Standard Special Scarf Landorus-T, a great Intimidate user. I have Earth Power as the main STAB move to beat stuff like Metagross and Incineroar.
U-turn for easy switching to gain momentum, or for chip damage.
Hidden Power for hitting opponents’ Landorus.
Sludge Bomb for hitting the Tapus.
Charizard-Mega-Y @ Charizardite Y
EVs: 172 HP / 76 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Solar Beam
Max speed set, with HP 16n-1, with the remaining investment in Def.
Charizard’s task is to take out Steel mons for the Great Bird and put out offensive pressure under Tailwind. Further, Charizard is the only counter to rain on the team.
Heat Wave is the standard spread move. Flamethrower is chosen as ‘insurance’ for consistency, and for avoiding the 10% miss chance when possible. Solar Beam for coverage.
Tapu Koko @ Life Orb
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
Standard Life Orb Tapu Koko.
I picked Life Orb to cover for Koko’s low Sp.Atk issue, so that Discharge and Dazzling Gleam can cause significant damage. I didn’t go Electrium Z, because Braviary already has the Z move.
With Raichu and Landorus on the team, Discharge is quite frequently used for spread damage. It has the added benefit of threatening Belly Drum Azumarill and set-up Eevee.
30% paralysis chance, as disgusting as Rock Slide, is also something worth noting. This becomes the only win condition in some circumstances.
Thunderbolt is used when Raichu and Landorus aren’t on the field.
Snorlax @ Wiki Berry
EVs: 180 HP / 4 Atk / 252 Def / 68 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– High Horsepower
I have been using Curse Snorlax since 2017. Max Def allows it to take Araquanid’s Z-Liquidation. With Brave nature and Double-Edge, Snorlax can do adequate damage without boosting.
We tested Choice Band and Belly Drum variants, but I opted for Curse after discussing with Vergil. There are two reasons: 1) Curse Lax is less prone to Foul Play, and 2) it can stay around longer under Trick Room.
In most cases, Snorlax can easily become a gigantic monster after one or two Curse boosts, as long as Incineroar and any Fighting-types are properly handled.
Double-Edge allows great damage output, while also chips its own HP to activate berry. High Horsepower was chosen for coverage, and Recycle for continuous recovery.
Actually, before the Midseason showdown, Vergil and I came up with a more ‘balanced’ team:
In terms of offensive coverage, switching initiative, rain matchup and Metagross Lele matchup, this team is far better than the Raichu version used.
But due to time constraints, I ended up using Raichu for Midseason. However, I ended up winning the tournament, so I guess it’s not that bad?
While Vergil and I were deeply shocked by the results, we are amazed by the potential of this combination.
After Midseason, Esmond and Hugo decided to join the Great Bird squad.
Just like that, Team Skystrike is formed to tackle Regionals.
We have been testing different variants on Showdown.
Later, Hugo and Esmond both said that the team was not good enough, due to:
1. Insufficient offensive pressure in Tailwind
2. Either Marowak is too slow to utilize Tailwind, or it’s not bulky enough. It only serves the purpose of providing Lightningrod.
3. Kangaskhan is too bad on this team, even Metagross would be better (said by Himte, a Hong Kong player who resides in Japan).
Due to the above reasons, we decided to build the team all over again.
Hugo suggested ,
Since VGC17, Togedemaru has been a fine supporter, which I used to win the 2017 Hong Kong Open.
In 2018, Togedemaru is even better, with access to a huge array of moves, including Endeavor, Super Fang, Helping Hand and Iron Head.
In terms of disruption, is definitely the best choice. With access to Lightningrod and Fake Out, in addition to the Steel-typing, it’s definitely the Great Bird’s best friend.
Sooner or later, Esmond suggested using , which he had successfully made Top 4 in Midseason with.
Blaziken and Braviary is a solid combination, as Blaziken is protected from Intimidate due to the Great Bird’s Defiant, while Blaziken can keep boosting its speed as turns pass. Even without Tailwind or when Tailwind is matched, it can put on great pressure. For the rain counter, we opted for .
Fini’s Misty Terrain provides anti-Sleep measures, and counters Kommo-o.
Misty Seed on Celesteela allows it to take Waterium Z from Ludicolo.
As for the last slot, simply add Landorus in (brainlessly) and the team is completed.
After team construction, we tested it on Showdown.
We started an account BuddhismVGC and successfully made top 100 with it.
The team might seem like it’s well-built, but in fact, it has a blind spot…
It struggles to deal with Lele Metagross Zapdos core.
If the opponent leads Zapdos Metagross, with Landorus and Lele at the back, then what should we lead?
All of the above leads are risky. Fake Out? What if the opponent switches in Lele and Zen Headbutt? Game over.
Fail to Tailwind? Game over.
Successfully Tailwind? Great. There sits Braviary not knowing how to do damage to Zapdos and Metagross.
Lead Blaziken? Zapdos Tailwind, Metagross switch into Landorus, game over.
To deal with this issue, we have decided to substitute for , so that we can still Heat Wave against Zapdos + Metagross. Also, Charizard Y lowers Tapu Fini’s Scald’s damage output…
Shortly after the decision, Hugo had to join the Regional staff team and quit.
Meanwhile, CY joined the team.
The day before Regional, Esmond and I asked Cyrus (Hong Kong National 2016 Champion) for help in terms of EV adjustments for final preparation. We went on Showdown for final test, until BuddhismVGC fell all the way down to 1500ish…
Team Skystrike were shocked. We kept trying to make amendments (while CY quit and used his own team…)
Vergil: It’s okay, we almost made 1800 on showdown, this should be fine. Just trust ourselves and go for it.
At last, it feels like there are more and more Charizard Y in the meta. Thus, with the suggestions from Cyrus, I decided to go with (especially since I was more comfortable with using Blaziken), while both Esmond and Vergil went with .
Togedemaru @ Focus Sash
Ability: Lightning Rod
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Fake Out
– Iron Head
– Super Fang
– Spiky Shield
Max attack allows Iron Head to OHKO most Tapu Lele’s, as well as those not-too-bulky Mega Gardevoirs.
Even when it’s Intimidated, it’s damage output is still acceptable.
252 Speed (Esmond opted for max speed Jolly), mainly to test opponents’ Lele’s speed.
Fake Out + Focus Sash, same as the old Raichu.
Spiky Shield allow Togedemaru to stay around longer to protect Braviary from Electric moves longer.
Super Fang can be a super annoying move for your opponent, directly removing half of anything’s HP.
With the combination of Super Fang + Supersonic Skystrike, anything can be taken out, including Cresselia, Zapdos and Porygon2.
Stuck on the field with nothing to do? Just go for Super Fang for more chip damage.
(Vergil opted for Minimum HP + Endeavor instead of Super Fang)
Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 212 HP / 140 Def / 156 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk
– Calm Mind
Tapu Fini is a key member for both switch initiative and the rain matchup.
HP 16n-2, Def spread allows it to take 2 Iron Heads from Mega Metagross, with the remaining on Sp.Atk.
I opted for Scald over Muddy Water due to consistency.
Calm Mind puts pressure on the opponent.
(Esmond ran a faster Fini, while Vergil opted for Specs Fini + Haze)
Blaziken @ Blazikenite
Ability: Speed Boost
EVs: 44 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 220 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Flare Blitz
– Low Kick
Another MVP of the team. In a meta with Incineroar everywhere, Blaziken is definitely a great choice. Blaziken can cover Incineroar well in terms of typings — not only can Blaziken threaten Incineroar with Fighting moves, but Blaziken also resists Dark and Fire moves. In contrast, Charizard Y boosts Incineroar’s Flare Blitz with Drought, and takes neutral damage from Knock Off. This is one of the reasons I prefer Blaziken over Charizard Y.
As for the EV spread, I went for 11n Atk, enough speed to outspeed max speed Tapu Lele, with the remainder in HP. With its Speed Boost, it can outspeed everything as the game goes on, even without Tailwind.
Rock Slide is mainly used to counter Charizard Y. When there is Rock Slide, there is a way.
Flare Blitz for significant damage output, easy OHKO on Koko and Lele.
Low Kick beats Incineroar, Tyranitar, Snorlax, etc.
The Great Bird struggles to deal with Rock and Steel-types, while Blaziken covers these typings well.
(Esmond and Vergil opted for Charizard Y for this slot instead)
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Rock Slide
126.96.36.199.252, standard physical Scarf Landorus.
With Intimidate and Flying-typing, it’s a good switch-in for Blaziken, as it covers Earthquakes and reduces your opponent’s damage output.
Scarf Landorus is perfect choice for late game sweep, while offering spread moves as offensive pressure.
U-turn allows switching for momentum or damage chipping.
Rock Slide is the best move.
Braviary @ Flyinium Z
EVs: 28 HP / 236 Atk / 12 Def / 4 SpD / 228 Spe
– Brave Bird
In a metagame with billions of intimidate users, effectively handling them is critical. At Worlds 2013, Arash piloted a Defiant Tornadus to win the tournament. In the same vein, we have chosen The Great Bird. Further, Ivan, an experienced Hong Kong VGC player, took Taiwan Regionals 2017 with Braviary as well.
Not only can it counter Intimidate users, it also limits the options of opponents’ leads.
The bulk investment allows the Great Bird to take an Ice Punch from Mega Metagross. The attack investment allows it to OHKO bulky Mega Gardevoir, with the remaining EVs dumped in HP.
Relative to the old Braviary, the new one puts more emphasis on explosive damage output and speed control.
Celesteela @ Misty Seed
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 228 HP / 68 Atk / 28 Def / 180 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Heavy Slam
– Leech Seed
Despite Blaziken and Braviary’s offensive pressure, there are still some matchups this combo struggles to deal with. Celesteela’s Leech Seed stall is an effective alternative in those matchups. Misty Seed is chosen to help Celesteela handle rain teams better. The SpD boost, in combination with Intimidate and Lightningrod, makes it very difficult for opponents to take Celesteela out.
Regarding the EV spread, Atk 11n, while the bulk allows it to take Helping Hand Z-Hydro Pump from Ludicolo.
Heavy Slam is the most frequently used move.
Acrobatics beats rain and Kommo-o. Super-effective Acrobatics hits hard.
Leech Seed can become a win condition. Celesteela basically drains anything to death. Can’t be Leech Seeded? Simply take it out with Acrobatics.
Most common pick: +
Fake Out + Tailwind first turn and close the game with offensive pressure and coverage.
Against rain: + /
Fake Out + Calm Mind, switch Celesteela in when necessary. If the opponent runs Scizor or Ferrothorn, Blaziken would be essential. If not, Braviary might be a better pick.
Against sand: +
Compared to the Raichu version, the new team deals with Sand team a lot better.
Simply utilize Intimidate and Celesteela’s bulk as well as switches to counter sand.
Against Gengar Kommo-O core: +
Double into Gengar using Scarf Landorus Earthquake + Supersonic Skystrike.
The door would be wide open.
Against set-up teams: +
If Tapu Fini had Haze, this matchup would be a lot easier.
Keep up the spread damage and offensive pressure. Take out the main threat with the leads and it’ll be fine.
Against Venusaur core or Gardevoir core: +
Braviary teams are perfect counters for these two cores as they can’t even lead with Intimidate. Simply stop the opponent’ speed control and it will be an easy win.
Against Lele Metagross: +
Good luck… Praying might help…
Fake Out the Tailwind setter and Blaziken Protect. At +2 speed, Tailwind would no longer be a threat. Just beware of opponents’ Lele or Metagross which eventually double into Blaziken…
Swiss1 Chun Tik So WLW
Swiss2 Chan Ho Yuen WW
Swiss3 Jian Ting Liu LL
Swiss4 Chun Ho Tang (Oscar) WLW
Swiss5 Leung Pak Hei (Esmond)(Team Skystrike) WW
Swiss6 Ka Lok Lee (Roy) WW
Top8 Zi Qi Liao WW
(*Taiwan players who made Top Cut had to leave for a flight, leaving only Edward and I deep in the tournament, competing for the Champion title.)
Final Edward Cheung (Who Is Siuba?)
The results of Team Skystrike is definitely … successful!
Everyone of the team was streamed (swiss or top cut) and won — we certainly showed the world how great the Great Bird actually is.
Most importantly, Vergil and Esmond made Top 16 and Top 8 respectively, this proves that our team building was fine and the team was good.
It’s fortunate that I successfully came out on top as the top player of Hong Kong, just like a dream coming true.
Last but not least, a note of thanks for everyone who offered a helping hand in team constructing, report writing and translating.