I just found out that I'm going to have an opportunity to go to Worlds next month! So my drought team, which went 4/4 at the California regionals back in April, is going to get another shot at the crown! I like to think that I could've gone 6/2 at regionals had I not had got greedy for the KO on Match 1, and had not gotten haxed on Match 3... So, in general, I think that my team is okay, but could definitely use some help. The Team: Ninetales (M) @ Fire Gem Trait: Drought EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef Quiet Nature (+SAtk, -Spd) - Energy Ball - Protect - Heat Wave - Extrasensory As with any drought team, we lead with Ninetales. I try not to get attached to how pokemon look, but this guy is super cool looking and I'd like to keep him/my drought strategy intact. I think that a sun team is viable - mine just needs to be tweaked. The sun + gem + STAB heat wave does amazing damage when I can get it off. Energy ball is there to take care of weakened waters or switch-in waters. Extrasensory is there to take care of strong leads like hitmontop/gurdurr that tend to show up because they have fake out. It can usually take a fake out and then come back with an extrasensory for some damage. Shiftry (M) @ Focus Sash Trait: Chlorophyll EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk) - Protect - Dark Pulse - Fake Out - Leaf Storm To support Ninetales, I went with shiftry. Since the dark pulse shiftry requires a transfer from HG/SS, he's a bit rare competitively. I even had someone at regionals not know who he was/what type and attacked with a psychic attack! Of course, as a lead, the fake out is great. With chlorophyll, he can usually get the FO out before anyone else in the sun. Dark pulse for STAB - mostly against Lati@s/Cresselia/Chandelure/Jellicent. All of which can mess me up. I like leaf storm because it hits so darn hard. And, as fragile as shiftry is, he doesn't last long enough for the power decrease to really affect battles. NOTE: I am completely wedded to the focus sash on this guy - that has saved me countless times; I know I'm right with this item choice. Zapdos @ Electric Gem Trait: Pressure EVs: 4 HP / 252 SAtk / 252 Spd Timid Nature (+Spd, -Atk) - Thunderbolt - Discharge - Heat Wave - Hidden Power [Ice] I've been hanging with Zapdos since 2010! He's my one RNG'd guy (I know, they should ALL be RNG'd. They're not.) and is pretty quick. Has a good HP, too. With protect on my other pokes, the discharge comes in handy. Add the electric gem, and its a complete surprise! The heat wave, with the sun up, is a great sweeper move after one of my leads goes down. I have thunderbolt to deal with rain team users... Should I switch to thunder? Typically, when my shiftry goes down, and my sun is still up, I bring in Zapdos to finish off with some extra heat waves. If the sun is down, I usually bring in... Hitmontop (M) @ Life Orb Trait: Technician EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Fake Out - Protect - Mach Punch - Bullet Punch A classic priority sweeper. Particularly for weakened pokemons, since I can FO (which comes as a bit of surprise late in a battle), or mach punch, or bullet punch and get someone off the board quickly. Why mach punch and bullet punch? Because I kept getting beaten by ghost types that would switch in late. Should I add sucker punch instead? I hate the idea of having to bet on an attack - but if people have a strong opinion, I'd like to hear it. Amoonguss (M) @ Leftovers Trait: Effect Spore EVs: 252 HP / 48 Def / 208 SDef Calm Nature (+SDef, -Atk) - Giga Drain - Spore - Protect - Stun Spore After getting completely killed at the 2011 LCQ, and seeing all the 2011 VGC teams, I realized that I NEEDED an Amoongus on my team. This is the standard smogon vgc moveset, I believe. I find that I don't use stun spore very much. Does anyone have a good suggestion in its place? Or suggestions on how/why to use it more? I'll usually lead with this guy if I see a rain team. I was able to stall out a competitor for the full 15 minutes at the 2012 regionals with spamming spore. A nascent strategy? Perhaps... Darmanitan (M) @ Choice Scarf Trait: Sheer Force EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd Jolly Nature (+Spd, -SAtk) - Rock Slide - Fire Punch - Flare Blitz - Superpower The pain-bringer. Sun+STAB+Sheer Force+Flare Blitz = lots of KOs. If I have my sun team going, and I don't see other weather in the team preview, this is my 4th guy with zapdos or hitmontop. The choice scarf makes him speedy, and the rock slides and/or flare blitzes make short work of weakened pokemon. I tend not to use fire punch as much as flare blitz, only because he usually comes in at the end and I rather go for the KO than worry about the defense drop. Main things of note/points of criticism I'd like to get some input on: 1) Like all drought teams, I am weak to the ever-present rain dance team. Is there are starter combination that I should go with? Shiftry/Amoongus? Shiftry/Zapdos? Iron ball up my Ninetales and pray for the best? 2) I got owned by a sand team at regionals because I started with Ninetales and they brought in their Tyranitar after the second round. Should I not lead off with weather? If so, what should I lead with? 3) I'm seeing that Zapdos is a bit passe, with Thundurus getting more popular. Should I switch out my 'Dos? 4) Are my problems item-related? Too reliant on gems? Should I go with iron ball on my Ninetales? 5) I find that I totally stall whenever I hit a Jellicent or Cresselia. By the time these two switch in, my Shiftry and his Dark Pulse is gone. 6) I had some success spamming Spore with my Amoongus, which (I admit) was really annoying for my opponent, but it was successful. Is there any benefit to making this a primary strategy? 7) Is there a good replacement move for my amoongus' stun spore? Or my darmanitan's fire punch? Or should I just utilize them more in certain situations? Thanks for all the help!