My Dark Passenger is what I call the feeling that compels me to play pokemon, always prodding and poking and beckoning to me to let it into the driver's seat.... This is the team I used during the world cup, playing for USA West as we made it into the semi-finals, and I ended up going 4-0 in the tournament. Before I start, a quick story about how this team came to be (note that parts of this story may be exaggerated or embellished for dramatic effect): Shortly after being selected to Team USA West, I was debating whether or not to make a new team, or use one of my current, non-spectacular but solid teams. Ever since the Smogon Tournament #5, I have been unable to make a "groundbreaking" team; I guess you can say I was stuck in a rut. Then it was time for my finals and graduation and I didn't think about Pokemon for a couple of weeks. The night after my last graduation celebration, I get on irc to talk to the rest of the team. Philip7086 informs me that he has completed his wcup team and asks for a battle to test it. I oblige, and what followed next astounded me. Phil was able to complete a team that utilized just about all of my favorite pokemon, using them all in conjunction, with perfect synergy, and in ways I never even thought of. Needless to say, it was groundbreaking, and I was jealous. At that moment I decided to make a new team that would be legen-dary. What proceeded was me pretty much locking myself in a room working on this in a Beautiful Mind-esque sequence as I constructed this team and didn't sleep. We will be approaching this team Benjamin Button style (ie in reverse, starting with the finisher and ending with the lead) since that is how I built the team. The first 3 pokemon came to me at about the same time and the last 3 came to me at about the same time, so the order I decided on these might be only a few seconds apart. The Bastard (Salamence) (F) @ Life Orb Ability: Intimidate EVs: 6 HP/252 Atk/252 Spd Jolly nature (+Spd, -SAtk) - Outrage - Earthquake - Dragon Dance - Roost I started this team out, as I start out many teams, by asking myself one question: What is the most dangerous pokemon in the game? And, as quite often happens, Salamence comes to mind, so all I had to do was choose a set. After immersing myself in mixmence for a long while, I realized 2 things: Mence can easily cause switches to take advantage of a chance to roost, and I wish he had a stat upping move for things like vaporeon that try to stall out mixmence. Then it hit me: Mence did have a stat upping move, in the awesome dragon dance. knowing mence's awesome typing would allow me to easily set up against some choiced users, and that being able to roost and set up against things like some vaporeon and celebi, I decided that I needed roost, which mixmence taught me was very viable. Nature wise, I pretty much had to have jolly to sweep past things that try to outspeed me, like scarf jirachi and flygon. Item-wise, I realized the reason I had never made a great ddmence team before was because I was using it wrong. Using LO allows mence to hit incredibly hard, after a dd it hits with 1.95x as much power as unboosted, any item cannot possibly top that, not even lum or yache berry which can net me a boost of 2x. The way I play this guy is to just hold him off til late game, then try to sweep with just LO outrages and roost, if I ever get in a dd that should just be an automatic win button. Dark Passenger (Gengar) (F) @ Life Orb Ability: Levitate EVs: 6 HP/252 Spd/252 SAtk Timid nature (+Spd, -Atk) - Shadow Ball - Focus Blast - Hidden Power [Fire] - Protect I decided I needed a sweeping partner for Salamence. I also needed to start thinking about eliminating Mence's counters. The first Mence check that came to mind was Scizor, so I needed a surefire way to beat it. Enter Mystic Gengar with thanks to Blue Kirby and Aldaron. Gengar is my favorite pokemon of all time. Protect (as opposed to sub) allows me to always beat scizor (well not SD scizor) as well as hit hard as fuck (I can ohko salamence after SR with shadow ball). I wanted something with speed and the ability to hit hard immediately, since Salamence was the set-up sweeper. Other options were Latias or Starmie. I never even seriously considered the other options to be honest, as Gengar will absolutely bait scizor into either bullet punch or pursuit and not u-turn allowing me to HP Fire or switch. Again, my favorite fucking pokemon ever. As a bonus, this guy acts as a decent luke check with focus blast ohkoing 70% of the time and HP fire doing 70% or ohkoing after a defense drop. Balls of Steel (Magnezone) @ Leftovers Ability: Magnet Pull EVs: 42 HP/216 Spd/252 SAtk Naive nature (+Spd, -SDef) - Thunderbolt - Hidden Power [Grass] - Substitute - Explosion The absolute key to the team. If zone does his job, I will not lose. So, what happens when scizor uses bullet punch and not pursuit? I switch to magnezone for the steel trap. So, now I can eliminate scizor and almost all steels for salamence, allowing mence to run roost. But that just isn't good enough, how am I also supposed to open up a sweep for gengar? The only pokemon that can really wall gengar is blissey, and if it also has to wall zone, it wouldn't be alive when gengar comes out to play. No one expects explosion from behind a sub, making zone the perfect blissey lure. What if skarmory has shed shell? No problem, if I know it's going to switch out, I can just sub on the switch and proceed to attack while behind a sub. Once blissey is gone, Gengar can start damaging things (such as those shed shell steels), clearing the way for a salamence sweep. Thunderbolt over discharge, since without modest, discharge is too weak. HP grass to kill pert who can beat salamence 1 on 1 (barely). Nature and spread is to outspeed all scizor, acting as a 70% scizor check. As a bonus, I can trap those annoying scarfrachi's which can beat salamence. Best case scenario, this guy traps a steel and kills it, gets behind a sub in the meanwhile and hits something else like heatran, swampert or infernape hard, or explodes and kills blissey. This guy will get 2 kills on a good day. So, I had my core of Salamence/Gengar/Magnezone, now how can I best support this? Well, I had a way to eliminate blissey and her icky status, scizor and his revenging, trap and kill all strong steels, but I now needed to start thinking defensively. I can have nothing else that can lure scizor, meanwhile additional salamence/gengar support would still be appreciated. These next 3 pokemon came to me as a group as well. Boy Blue (Vaporeon) (F) @ Leftovers Ability: Water Absorb EVs: 188 HP/252 Def/70 Spd Bold nature (+Def, -Atk) - Wish - Protect - Surf - Hidden Power [Electric] The second answer to my question of "what is the most dangerous pokemon in the game?" is often gyarados. However, unlike salamence, gyarados can have some hard counters. For this reason, I often find myself using vaporeon quite often, who also counters infernape, who is in the top 5 on my list. Vaporeon plays as the defensive anchor of the team, countering key threats, such as eliminating gyarados who's intimidate can ruin my mence sweep and taking out heatran or infernape who can threaten zone. Wish allows me to heal other teammates, even allowing gengar to often get a second chance at a sweep. For anyone who asks, the speed is to outspeed most scizors and skarmory, allowing me to do some damage or wish on the u-turn. She's a girl despite the name for people who use attract, with males being the more common gender as it's the default. Iron Man VI (Scizor) (F) @ Choice Band Ability: Technician EVs: 198 HP/252 Atk/60 Spd Adamant nature (+Atk, -SAtk) - Bullet Punch - U-turn - Superpower - Pursuit The definition of a bulky pokemon, and for a pokemon ranked #1 in usage, I have no idea how I didn't use him before this. Since I run hp fire on my gengar, I lose my chance to tie with opposing gengar, meaning I needed a solid switch in to the dark passenger. Also allows me to trap latias, who can threaten my salamence sweep if it has a scarf or if I can't find a chance to dd up with mence. Also acts as my salamence check thanks to bullet punch. Lastly, scizor works as my initial physical switch in to blissey in case bliss gets in on gengar before zone has had a chance to explode on it. Despite all this, I most often just spam u-turns. It surprises me that most people don't know how to use scizor properly, I do not bring out scizor early game to bullet punch, in fear of magnezone. I use scizor to revenge things like swampert at 40%. Since the opponent will usually switch at that point, I can either discourage switching or gain the advantage on a switch. EV'd to always survive a celebi hp fire after SR, with the rest in speed, conveniently just enough to outspeed most skarmory. I wish I could up the speed to outspeed vaporeon, but I just can't. BBQ Time (Heatran) (F) @ Choice Scarf/Shucca Berry Ability: Flash Fire EVs: 6 Atk/252 Spd/252 SAtk Naive nature (+Spd, -SDef) - Explosion - Earth Power - Fire Blast - Stealth Rock And we finish at the start. After looking over the team, I needed a few things with only one slot available: A stealth rocker, a lead, and something that can switch into rotom and electricity in general. Synergy wise, heatran was the only pokemon that really made sense. I started out with heatran, who worked great, but it left me very vulnerable to specs jolteon, who can easily come in on vaporeon. I tested many other leads: gliscor, celebi, even camerupt, but none of them really fit that well, even costing me some sleep. It was then that phil suggested to me to just add a scarf to heatran. After testing this, it worked out great. Yeah, jolteon or rotom can switch in on vaporeon, but then I can just go to heatran, always outspeed and kill it. This works great since heatran does not get worn down by electric attacks, since vaporeon can wish on the switch, heatran can continually switch in and receive the wish, healing itself. The scarf also lets me check lucario again, so the opponent never knows whether to crunch or close combat, as I can go to either gengar or heatran, and another check to latias, who can set up on vaporeon, in case scizor gets trapped early. If I don't feel like jolteon will be too much of a threat, I sometimes go with shucca berry for cute effects, always allowing me to get up SR, ohko scarftran while taking an earth power and 2hko hippo with fire blast while taking an earthquake. Just to quickly sum it up: This team is in my natural style of bulky balanced offense. My pokemon support each other by opening up holes for their comrades. For example, magnezone will trap and kill skarmory for a salamence sweep. Or if it has shed shell, that zone will explode on blissey who come in, allowing gengar to kill skarmory, and then allowing mence to sweep. This team takes a metagame trend in the abundance of steel types and turns it into an advantage. The second I see a steel type (granted, not all of them), I can use that opportunity to take momentum in the game. And a special thank you to team US WEST, you guys were amazing, we all had a lot of fun.