At a glance: Being unfortunate enough to live in the VGC-less Australia, I haven’t had a chance to try my luck in any actual VGC events. Nonetheless, there was a community run tournament this weekend in Melbourne using the VGC2012 format, and I finished in 2nd place using this team (lost to sand in the final). I’ve been laddering on Skarmbliss with it for the past week or so using the name “Ethereal Konquest” and peaked at number 10 so far. I may use a modified version of this team at future events, or I may not. I guess that depends on your advice. I feel like this team should suck a lot more than it does to be honest, since it’s not really a proper goodstuff team and it’s missing a lot of the standard weather team members. It seems to be serving me pretty well against some very capable opponents though. The idea is to either play it as a rain team or a goodstuff team depending on the opponent’s team, destroying them with Shedinja if they don’t have enough ways to handle it. Anyway, onto the team. Team Building Process: Hide (Move your mouse to the hide area to reveal the content) Show Hide Hide Hide Teams that I’ve had success with in the past have usually struggled with rain teams, so this time I decided to start off with something that could easily deal with the standard rain line-up, but also something that’s a little unorthodox. I realised that most pure rain teams carry very little, if anything, that can touch a Shedinja, so that combined with a OHKO on non-bulky Ludicolos and the ability to use Sunny Day made it a no-brainer. At this point I wanted Shedinja to be the star of my team even beyond rain teams, and that meant Wide Guard support for all those Rock Slides. Mienshao did a good job of this and was a pretty good team player all around, allowing me to team up with Shedinja to even bring down some sand teams. It was also good for 2HKOing Scizor switch-ins that were the most common answer to Shedinja on rain teams. Heatran and Virizion were added basically to switch into things that threatened Shedinja and keep momentum in my favour by dishing out lots of damage whenever they made an appearance. I read Huy’s RMT while building this team and these guys seemed to go well with it in that case, so I thought I’d give them a try. I don’t usually like using weather, but I decided at this point that Shedinja needed a little help against stuff other than rain, so I figured I’d bring rain of my own if I needed it. Rotom-W was just kind of a random bulky rain abuser to go with Politoed. It was attractive because it also gave me a STAB electric attack on my team. The current team pretty much all came together at this point. I realised that focussing on keeping Shedinja alive in any situation was a bad move and decided to rely a little more on rain and just general goodstuff. I kept Shedinja and my rain mons and ditched everything else. I changed Mienshao to Hitmontop because Intimidate was too good to pass up and I finally decided I could be bothered breeding for a decent one in Heartgold to get Sucker Punch. Metagross was for the awesome synergy with Rotom-W and to take advantage of the reduced fire damage in the rain. The final slot was probably the hardest for me to settle on. I noticed my team was pretty weak to strong electric attacks, mainly from the likes of Zapdos and Thundurus. Rather than add an electric immunity besides Shedinja, I decided to just use a scarfed Cloyster because I felt like something else should be able to benefit from rain, and Cloyster did that while also taking out some key threats as long as I played carefully to get it on the field against its targets without it dying. Team Members: Shedinja @ Focus Sash Trait: Wonder Guard EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Shadow Sneak - X-Scissor - Protect - Sunny Day This guy is hands down my favourite member of the team and is here to stay. He has great synergy with basically anything that doesn’t share multiple weaknesses. After switching back and forth a few times to dodge attacks, it gets pretty easy to play mind games and leave your opponent unsure whether you’re going to stay in and attack or not. The set’s pretty standard, although I went with Sunny Day over Swords Dance to further trouble opposing rain teams (particularly to stall Sucker Punch Toxicroak), since the rest of my team isn’t really too phased by a weather change compared to more standard line-ups. It also helps him to survive in hail or sand, but I generally just don’t bring him if I’m expecting passive damage of any kind. This guy’s my main answer to Cress and Ludicolo (although he struggles against the less common Leech Seed builds obviously). Shadow Sneak is good for doing damage while avoiding Sucker Punches from Hitmontops that don’t invest in speed, and the more priority you can fit on a team the better really. Protect is essential for scouting and taking out things that could easily take him out, as is the sash. Politoed (F) @ Iron Ball Trait: Drizzle EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef Quiet Nature (+SAtk, -Spd) - Scald - Ice Beam - Hidden Power [Grass] - Protect Being my weather inducer, Politoed is one of my most common leads. I chose Politoed not because I wanted a rain team, but because I wanted an answer to sun and sand. With that in mind, I went with the slowest build I could make so that I’d almost always get my weather up on the lead. With iron ball, he even does pretty well against Trick Room, which is handy because it’s something my team doesn’t really have a dedicated counter to. Since I didn’t have a lot that could take a rain boosted Surf, and I was already chancing one team member running the rather inaccurate Hydro Pump, I went with Scald for the obligatory STAB move for its handy burn rate. Ice Beam and HP Grass for coverage against dragons and other water types. Protect because Protect is amazing on anything in VGC. I like running iron ball, but I feel like he doesn’t really get a chance to do much damage with this set, even with the Special Attack EVs and nature. Perhaps more support moves and a bulkier spread would be a better idea, I’m not sure. On the other hand, he has my only grass type attack at the moment. Rotom-W @ Sitrus Berry Trait: Levitate EVs: 252 HP / 252 SAtk / 4 SDef Modest Nature (+SAtk, -Atk) - Hydro Pump - Thunderbolt - Protect - Thunder Wave For my primary rain abuser I wanted something that didn’t actually need the rain to pull his weight, so Ludicolo and Kingdra were out. Rotom-W is just a really good team player. He’s bulky enough with this spread and a sitrus berry to stick around and spread paralysis if Metagross or Hitmontop need it, but he’s also still powerful enough to net quite a few KO’s as well depending on the matchup, especially if rain is around to boost Hydro Pump’s power. Having a strong electric attack is really important to my team as well, particularly against opposing rain teams, which often can’t really do much to Rotom-W once I’ve killed their Ludicolo and used Sunny Day to weaken all their STABs. Protect, again, because he can spare the moveslot. Metagross @ Lum Berry Trait: Clear Body EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Meteor Mash - Bullet Punch - Zen Headbutt - Protect This guy is great against all sorts of stuff, especially when paired with Rotom-W. I’d rather Iron Head over Meteor Mash for the accuracy, but not enough to motivate me to get a decent 4th gen Metagross. For something as slow as Metagross, priority makes a huge difference in dire situations, so it’s worth having two attacks of the same type. Protect was always going to be on the set, but the last attacking move required a bit more decision making. I went with Zen Headbutt for the easy Hitmontop counter. Between its immunity to Intimidate and its strong STAB psychic attack, this proved to be far too useful to pass up given how common Hitmontop is these days. I originally had occa berry, but switched it for a lum berry because I figured the rain would usually be shielding me from fire attacks already, and WoW Sableyes really piss me off. After using this team quite a bit, I’m thinking maybe I should change this to a shuca berry. Hitmontop (M) @ Fight Gem Trait: Intimidate EVs: 244 HP / 252 Atk / 12 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Fake Out - Close Combat - Protect - Sucker Punch Hitmontop works wonders with just about any combination of teammates thanks to having both Intimidate and Fake Out. He’s usually my other lead alongside Politoed, although I can have a lot of different lead combinations as well. The EVs were tweaked a little just to make me more likely to outspeed other Hitmontops without sacrificing too much bulk by going for the sure thing. The fighting gem allows me to cancel out any chople berries people may have on their Tyranitars and is also really handy for doing massive neutral damage to bulky stuff that the rest of my team struggles with, such as Gastrodon. Sucker Punch is a fantastic priority move and something no Hitmontop should be without. I went with Protect over Wide Guard mainly because I wanted to be able to lead Hitmontop against rain teams alongside Shedinja, and have it survive the first turn while Shedinja sets up sun. Cloyster (M) @ Choice Scarf Trait: Skill Link EVs: 20 HP / 252 Atk / 236 Spd Adamant Nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Icicle Spear - Rock Blast - Razor Shell - Explosion/Poison Jab I have to be very careful when bringing Cloyster to a match because it’s so vulnerable to all the special attacks flying around the VGC metagame, but he plays a crucial role. Without a scarfed Icicle Spear, I don’t really have a lot of options against Zapdos, Thundurus, Garchomp, Lati@s, etc. The other attacks are mainly filler. I occasionally use razor shell when rain’s up, and rock blast I suppose could be handy against sun teams, but I haven’t encountered too many of those. The fourth slot is pretty unnecessary. Cloyster does his job very well, and I can often just happily let him die to give me a free switch-in once he’s KO’d a Zapdos or something. He does make my team’s electric weakness far more debilitating though, and his role is essentially to patch up the rest of my team’s weaknesses. On paper, this is the team member I think most needs replacing, but he was really useful to me in the Melbourne tournament I competed in, so any replacement needs to be able to KO similar stuff. Common Matchups: Rain: When I see a Politoed, I generally leave mine in the wings and go for a Sunny Day anti-rain setup based around Shedinja instead. As long as they don’t have anything too unusual, this usually goes off without a hitch. Ferrothorn is one thing that does give my team a lot of trouble wherever it turns up, as Hitmontop is the only thing that can really do anything to it. Something with a fire attack to make use of Sunny Day could help here, but I wouldn’t want it to be useless in the rain. Sand: I usually lead with my Politoed and Hitmontop to get a huge advantage straight away with Intimidate, Fake Out, and Iron Ball Drizzle all working in my favour. Other team members depend more on the rest of the other team, since sand teams are a lot more variable than rain teams. Gastrodon gives me trouble. I generally never bring Shedinja to these fights though. Sun: Politoed again here to cancel out their weather thanks to Iron Ball, and generally Cloyster, who can tear holes in sun teams once Chlorophyll is taken out of play. Shedinja sits these ones out again, and the rest of the team depends on what I’m up against. Hail: I usually bring my resident anti-weather pokemon, Politoed along with Hitmontop to take out Abomasnow and other ice types. My other 2 are generally Rotom-W and Metagross, because a more balanced team is generally required against decent hail teams. Trick Room: Despite not having any one thing devoted to dealing with Trick Room like a lot of teams do, this team seems to go alright against Trick Room. I have three priority moves, a really slow Politoed that catches Trick Room teams off guard by underspeeding their sweepers and Protect on basically everything along with Intimidate/Fake Out support to stall when I need to. Goodstuff: I can do all sorts of things against goodstuff teams depending on what they have. Sometimes I bring Politoed and try to abuse the rain, sometimes I can focus on supporting Shedinja to survive until its counters are gone, and sometimes I just play like a pretty normal goodstuff team. Cloyster often comes in very handy in these matches.