Team Report A war story for the new age: Players Cup IV Oceania Qualifiers

Be the change you want to be, or some such. I am here to make good on my off-hand shitposting. Welcome to this war story of Players Cup IV, Oceania Qualifiers edition!

I’ll try to keep this brief before we get into the action. I have brought a Venusaur/Torkoal team to every Players Cup since the 2nd because I think it is filthy good. This was no exception.

:venusaur-gmax::torkoal::porygon2::regirock::mimikyu::zapdos:
This was originally the Rhyperior-based squad that has become pretty popular in Oceania. However there were some matchups with it I wasn’t too comfortable about and I couldn’t really work out a reliable way to make them stronger without gimping the team to something else. Earlier this week I decided ‘whatever I’ll just swap some of the mons to ones that do a similar role’. I was only okay with this decision because I had also played with a Regirock-based sun team to qualify for Players Cup 3, so I'd still have familiarity with how the team functioned.

This is basically the team that won the Victory Road Spring Series Qualifier #3 with a few tweaks (there was a team report by the players who ran it that can be found here). Namely swapping Curse for Protect on Regirock, and Grimmsnarl for Mimikyu as I felt Grimm was a little passive.

A little bit on the Mimikyu: this was a speedy Lum Berry Swords Dance set with Wood Hammer. I had been trying a bunch of Pokemon in that slot and Mimikyu just seemed to fit in and work a lot more seamlessly than others I'd trialled. It is a bit unusual compared to the more supportive role a Mimikyu usually has, but it has 96 base speed, may as well use it. Having a grass move outside of Venusaur was helpful in some previously iffy matchups.

GAME DAY

I woke up on Sunday about an hour before my 8:45am alarm and tried to sleep a bit more, but soon realised this wasn’t going to happen. I grabbed some breakfast and then headed off early to the venue.

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Surprise! Yes I am a bit of a weeaboo and will be taking no further questions

I had a bit of time before the event started so I went and found my friends to catch up.

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...in a voice call that is. That’s the closest thing to it in these strange times anyway.

Very soon, pairings were posted and everyone rushed to check them out with the traditional pairings scrum.

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Without*. As a smol frame person who either has to A) elbows out my way through or B) sit on my ass and wait for people to clear off a bit, I could get used to this for every event.

***

I did record my matches so I can give a bit of a summary on them, otherwise I’d have nothing that I could remember for you all to read.

Round 1:
:liepard::hatterene::venusaur::torkoal::stakataka::glastrier: Skalvern

So this makes for me pulling back-to-back Round 1 friend-kills now. Skalv loves using Cat and The Hat (Liepard and Hatterene). I do not love playing against Cat and The Hat. It has many options on Turn 1 and how dare my opponent have the same thing that leading Venusaur and Porygon2 gives me.

Game 1:
I lead Venusaur / Porygon2 against Skalv’s Liepard and Hatterene.
The first game approach here was to do the ole ‘you can’t stop both’ Sleep Powder and Trick Room. Venu manages to connect Powder on the Cat before being Mindstorm nuked by the Gmax Hat, and P2 gets Trick Room up unscathed. We made a few trades, notably I lost Torkoal, so now everything I have left will move last in TR.
Both of my Pokemon make it through a Gmax Smite confusion roll to stall out Trick Room. Now they take knockouts freely and finish up the game.

Game 2:
This game starts with a bunch of turns of both of us Trick Rooming and then gets largely decided with my P2’s Tri Attack freezing non-max Hatterene. I still had to Dynamax Torkoal to secure the win but Max Torkoal is mighty and good and demands the respect that it deserves. 1-0

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At least the tournament is Swiss, so there hasn’t been one friend banishing the other into the Shadow Realm Losers Bracket this time. It was still a fun set to play even if Cat Hat gives me the heebie jeebies on reflex.

***
As you may already know, there was a loooong wait between Rounds 1 and 2 due to a judge call. It felt like three hours had passed even though it was more like two. I and several others began to question our sanity. This is a photo from later on, but it illustrates what I wish I could have done.

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Substitute my brain or my existence either one would have been fine
Do I go get lunch? But what if the round starts? I debated this for a while before settling on popping out of the venue to get some lunch from just outside. I returned food in hand and one minute later Round 2 pairings were up. Welp.


Round 2
:urshifu::dragapult::rillaboom::celesteela::clefairy::coalossal: Junwen Z.

Although I think my Coalossal match-up is normally pretty good, my Celesteela match-up can be tricky depending on the team it’s on. I am a bit spooked by it being on this one.

Game 1:
I bring the usual Coalossal squad of Porygon2 / Venusaur with Torkoal / Zapdos in the back. Torkoal is the default Dynamax option here. Zapdos in the back seemed like a really good option to clean up Coalossal’s support squad near the end of the game.

This plan went off mostly without a hitch. I probably could have won the game earlier by taking advantage of some defensive switching from Junwen instead of clicking the obvious super-effective moves with big Tork, but I also think what I did can be safer when +1 SpA Porygon2 is firing off Tri Attacks at the same time, and the constant switching = free damage being added every time.

Game 2:
I bring the same Pokemon as Game 1. Junwen makes an adjustment and leads with Clefairy and Celesteela. This is probably the lead I was most concerned about on their team.

Things are going okay and I’ve gotten to 3v3, Venu and Clef being the fatalities, with Torkoal / Porygon2 in the last turn of Trick Room facing an Assault Vest Celly and an Urshifu-Water that just Protected last turn. For some indescribable reason rather than click Eruption Tri Attack double knock out shake hands good day sir I switch out Koal into Zapdos. I am lucky that slot got Aqua Jetted and Air Slashed instead of obliterated.

Dynamax Torkoal saves the day once again demolishing what is left over with Max Flare. I am being hard carried by the turtle. 2-0

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***
Unofficial lunch break time, finally I can eat! Though the leftover reheated dumplings had gone cold. Time to hurry back out of the venue to the microwave I guess. Traditional lunch break photo!

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Players Cup can be such a fun experience!

Round 3
:lycanroc::tyranitar::dragapult::cobalion::whimsicott::spectrier: Robeson64

I haven’t seen this name play in a tournament for a fair while. I Looking at this teamsheet, I knew I had my work cut out for me. This is a team popularised by AldrichYan, though some minor adjustments had been made to make it extra anti-sleep. Win or lose, this team was a great meta call and I’m not surprised to see it sneaked into top cut later on.

Game 1:
I take Venusaur and Porygon2 in with Mimikyu and Regirock in the back. Robeson leads Whimsicott and Cobalion.

This game is mainly lost because I didn’t know that Worry Seeding a sleeping Pokemon to have Insomnia will actually wake it up instantly.

Game 2:
The only opener I can think of to deal with Whimsicott / Cobalion lead is Torkoal Burning Jealousy and Porygon2 Trick Room.
Even though I have heard of this team, I have never run into it and played against it. Or I would have known that this was a very risky idea.

I get away with it as Cobalion targets Torkoal with Max Knuckle, which doesn’t KO.

A defensive switch in of Mimikyu, the absolute thiccness of Max Regirock and a Rock Slide dodge from an Endeavored 1HP Porygon2 see me through some slightly wonky plays here.

Game 3:
This was a mess. I went for the same turn one play as last game and was rightly punished for it.

A few sloppy moves later I only have Max Mimikyu with one turn left and a fresh Regirock in Trick Room, facing a very boosted 55% HP Cobalion and a Dragapult in the red. Robeson also still has both his backline Pokemon. I deliberate a *lot* here, I don’t think I can win from this spot unless I capitalise on a potential mistake on Robeson’s end. I don’t quite get my moves selected on time and time out.

I timed out into Regirock using Rock Slide.
Dragapult faints. Cobalion flinches.
Suddenly I have a chance to come back this game.
How this move has made it into generation 8 now without Game Freak nerfing the flinch chance is beyond me.

I end up losing the game to a poor choice of target followed up by Regirock being Rock Slide flinched in return, so at least the RNG kinda evened out here, and I knew I had no business winning this game with how I’d played anyway. I will continue to stand by the statement: Rock Slide, with its flinch chance and accuracy, is both the best and the worst move in the game. Scratch that, it’s the Blurst move in the game. 2-1

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Round 4
:urshifu::cinderace::clefairy::rillaboom::spectrier::stakataka: JuZZiMeNt0

This was also a somewhat familiar name. The team was a bit of an oddball for me to figure out how to handle it at first, especially with the Cinderace.

Game 1:
I ended up picking Venusaur / Regirock lead seeing that combined, they cover a lot of JuZZi’s team. Torkoal and Zapdos were put in the back. JuZZi leads Clefairy and Spectrier.

I had to plan my damage out a bit to deal with these two, so I set up Gmax Vine Lash and aimed to get rid of Clefairy first.
There’s a few trades made, despite being 2-3 down at one point I get myself in a good position and claw the game back.

Game 2:
I changed my lead to Venusaur / Porygon2 in response to Clefairy / Spectrier, with Regirock and Torkoal in the back. JuZZi opens with a Clefairy / Spectrier lead.

The plan here was to Sleep Powder the Spectrier and get Trick Room up. Clefairy redirects the Powder which misses anyway. Spectrier Nasty Plots to +2 and Porygon2 TRs. Oh Dear.
I do hit the next redirected Sleep Powder, but the game continues as I let Clefairy hang around on the field well past its welcome. JuZZ is able to stall out Trick Room as a result.

I think that I’ve lost. Porygon2 and Regirock are on very low HP. Spectrier and Clefairy double attacking would leave me with a helpless sole Torkoal. Instead, what happens is Clefairy switches for Rillaboom. Regirock is Shadow Balled down as expected, but Porygon2 gets Trick Room back up.

The rest of this game just involved Torkoal firing off Eruption after Eruption after Eruption. 3-1

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Round 5
:coalossal::dragapult::urshifu::rillaboom::incineroar::togekiss: Daniel Q.

I’m much more comfortable to be looking at this build of Coalossal than the last one.

Game 1:
I don’t follow my usual Coalossal team plan... I left Torkoal on the bench instead of being my usual Dynamax. What I did bring was Venusaur / Porygon2 / Regirock / Zapdos. I can describe this game very shortly: I play it poorly and lose in a very rough way.

Game 2:
I bring the same Pokemon, I think with how the last game played out, they can still win if I just get it together.

The game is decided on Turn 1, as Urshifu-Water Aqua Jets into a non-Gmaxed Coalossal. I am going to assume this was a disastrous misclick, because it basically lost Daniel the game. I did read the defensive switches a lot better this time, so I have a bit of faith restored that I'm bouncing back.

Game 3:
I picked the same squad yet again. Out comes the previous leads of Incineroar and Urshifu-Water.

I get into a pretty good position here, making plays thinking about what I wanted to do in the turns ahead, and I’m a really strong advantage. I have Zapdos and Max Regirock against Max Rillaboom and Coalossal, all at full HP.
What follows is probably the most painful turn I’ve made all year. I immediately realised I’d made a terrible mistake in selecting this and then had to watch it all play out. I cringe as I type this.

I should have won fairly convincingly from that turn and 100% deserve to lose that game with how hard I threw it into the stratosphere. 3-2


Round 6: Wade I.
I don’t have access to the team sheets anymore, I just know that this is the Qwilfish dude. He couldn’t play this round so he just gave me the win... we take those. 4-2


Round 7
:xurkitree::porygon2::landorus-therian::moltres-galar::whimsicott::volcarona:

I looked at these Pokemon and saw that if I removed Xurkitree, Regirock could go to town.

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I like your trainer card, by the way.​

Game 1:
I bring Venu / Pory2 / Regirock / Torkoal.
Nathan brought Whimsicott / Xurkitree / Volcarona / Landorus-T.

I’m really happy with how I managed to plan long term during this game, this was something I’d been trying to work on recently.
There is another positive to come out of this. Remember the, uh... display, at the end of Round 5’s match? In previous Player’s Cups when this sort of thing happened, I would really struggle to regain focus and basically completely crumble. To finally see some progress on this front was encouraging.

Game 2:
I don’t play this one as well though, I start fumbling near the middle and let the game slip out of my fingers.

Game 3:
We both bring the same leads as Games 1 & 2. I take down Whimsicott early to stop the Fake Tears spam that troubled me last game.
I’m managing this alright so far, I’m in a decent spot… things take a turn when the +1 Xurkitree Max Lightning crits the Porygon2 I had specifically Max Quaked to +1 SpDef :(
I’m still not completely out of it though, I try to do the best I can with what I have left. Finally it comes down to a Regirock and Porygon2 stand-off.

Even if I aim for reaching the game timer with Regirock’s Drain Punch, I would likely lose. The final tiebreaker being total HP, if we both make it there with full health, Nathan’s Pory2 would have a higher total number and win. So slamming the brakes isn’t that good an option here.

I just have to make it through the onslaught of Tri Attacks and not get burned. I’d be fine with any other status, even Freeze.
Porygon2 hits 9 Tri Attacks before landing any type of status… unfortunately he gets the burn. I play it out because Pokemon is sometimes a silly game where a quadruple crit or some nonsense can happen but it doesn’t happen.

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Porygon2 the Anime Villain

This loss was really frustrating. I don’t blame the player, this sort of thing happens.
I was x-2 at the start of this round and still had a possibility to get in Top Cut, which I've only done once in a Swiss official major (Regionals) like 5 years ago. I don't think I got ahead of myself or anything, but with that sort of background, well I was pretty happy with how things were going so far. Some x-3s would be able to cut, but because Robeson (R3 loss) was floating around the same record, I knew I wouldn’t be able to from here. 4-3


Round 8
:celesteela::incineroar::tapu-fini::garchomp::raichu:? Thomas C.

I don't remember much about this round and I forgot to turn the recording on until the tail end of Game 3 (this is also why the last Pokemon is missing). This matchup can be a real pain in the ass. I did take it out to 3 games, but Thomas just out-positioned me here in the end. He's able to manage my Mimikyu and set up his Tapu Fini to bully the special attackers I had left. 4-4

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I have been put in the Tapu Bini.

***

Final standings are posted!

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I finished overall with a record of 4-4. It's very rare that I am actually salty about bad results right after finishing the event, but I'll admit I was a bit at the time here. I didn't really bother to try and snap myself fully out of this before Round 8 started as I didn't feel like I had much to play for (at a live event there would at least be CP on the line). The 4-4 stung because I didn't believe it reflected any of my higher moments. I pretty quickly changed on this view, I had to have made enough mistakes to be in this position anyway.

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We made it to the end of the tournament! The test of endurance is complete!!!​

This team was pretty fun to play and I think it was fairly solid despite only finalising it the week of the event. I don't think I've completely mastered piloting it in a general sense, like that there may still be extra plays or options to learn. That doesn't seem too much like a 'I need to practice more with this exact build' type problem if I eventually want to develop the ability to pick these things out easily on most teams though. I'm not too troubled about being a bit done near the end of the event either, this was a long day and being knocked out of contention in later rounds when you don't usually make it that far would be rough on anybody.

Here's what we learned!
  • Side Worry Seed into a sleeping partner immediately wakes it up (it seems obvious in retrospect but at least I know now)
  • Online Tours: Your playing environment matters. I suspected at the end of one of the Victory Road qualifiers I played in May, that I might do better if I move my play area to a different room, that's more away from possible distractions. Wrestling with putting a desk together (so you can move your stuff on it) is one of the most unorthodox methods I've heard of to improve playing. But it goddamn worked, I focused a lot better.
  • Mimikyu got a much better STAB move this generation in the form of Phantom Force. I didn't remember until the moment I woke up the day after the event! This might be not playing early formats of 2020 catching up to me, I'm not sure how much Mimi was used in Series 1-4. My Mimikyu had Shadow Claw instead. Hopefully never again. If I run this team again though I'd use Shadow Sneak instead, having a priority move would have saved my ass multiple times this run.
MVP: Torkoal without question put in the most work. Simp Torkoal.
LVP: This might be my opinion of this mon making me biased and not play it as I should, but Zapdos. My opinion is I think Zapdos by itself without specific support tends to sit around on the field being very average in both bulk and power, without exceeding in either. It likely works a lot better with certain supports to boost either of those, whether that be a damage-boosting item or a Screens setter (such as on the one this team evolved from). I am very sorry that the LVP was a Pokemon that I had nicknamed after my pet bird QP.

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I am so embarassed by this I love you QP you deserve your name on only the big carry-est of mons

***
This wraps everything up this Players Cup for me!
I don't have room for a short break from playing this time around due to being in multiple draft leagues right now, but this is probably a good thing. I can sense a clear difference overall in my play since Players Cup 3 even if I can't fully put my finger on what it is. I'd been feeling a bit stuck in a rut for a while before the event so being able to tell for once that there's some improvement is a good sign. Given that, it'll be interesting to see what the difference will be like between this event and the next Players Cup.

I don't know if I'll write another war story for the next one, this may be a one and done deal. It was pretty fun to take pictures for and write though. It looks like events local to me may very slowly be returning, I hope I can actually see everyone at an event in person rather than just in a voice call or through words on a screen.

Anyway I hope you enjoyed reading this and that it has entertained BYE

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Signed,
An All-Skill VenuKoal Player
 

Ace Emerald

Cyclic, lunar, metamorphosing
is a Contributor to Smogonis a Site Content Manager Alumnusis a Top Social Media Contributor Alumnusis a Super Moderator Alumnus
Reading team reports and warstories on smogon dot com again, you love to see it. I'm curious, how did Cobalion/Whimsicott punish the Burning Jealousy/TR play? OHKO on torkoal with rockfall?
 

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