Battle Tree Discussion and Records

NoCheese

"Jack, you have debauched my sloth!"
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If Serperior is indeed Contrary, then you just gave them a speed boost on turn 2, and get KO'd on 4 before the sub can go up (barring a miss). No help there.

Gliscor also has access to Steel Wing, which doesn't do as much damage as Bulldoze and is less likely to be useful coverage. But it does have even more PP, can mise the occasional defense boost to make some matchups easier (as opposed to Metal Claw, which has more PP still but puts the miser's boost in a less useful stat), and its typing may convince the opponent to make a resist switch to a Water-type, possibly giving up a matchup they might have been able to brute-force through eventually for one where Slowbro can often come in for nearly free and laugh all the way to the bank. If you decide to go the route of "I don't particularly care how much use Gliscor gets out of the damage formula, period", that's also an option.
Oh crap! I forgot that Contrary would turn the Bulldoze Speed drop into a boost. Whoops!
 
If Serperior is indeed Contrary, then you just gave them a speed boost on turn 2, and get KO'd on 4 before the sub can go up (barring a miss). No help there.

Gliscor also has access to Steel Wing, which doesn't do as much damage as Bulldoze and is less likely to be useful coverage. But it does have even more PP, can mise the occasional defense boost to make some matchups easier (as opposed to Metal Claw, which has more PP still but puts the miser's boost in a less useful stat), and its typing may convince the opponent to make a resist switch to a Water-type, possibly giving up a matchup they might have been able to brute-force through eventually for one where Slowbro can often come in for nearly free and laugh all the way to the bank. If you decide to go the route of "I don't particularly care how much use Gliscor gets out of the damage formula, period", that's also an option.
lolwut, obviously lowering the opponent's speed 100% of the time (while hitting Steels and Poisons super effectively) is the main draw of Bulldoze. Speed is much more important than any other stat in the Battle Tree.
 
Hmmmm it looks like the tool is now hosted on VGC Stats, but still works the same as it used to (at least when using the link of the OP). Does it not load on your end?
Hi. Yes my battle tree tool is still live but due to my recent collaboration with vgcstats there is not direct way of entering my battle tree tool from vgcstats page. However the link from smogon forum is still active and you can bookmark the battle tree page for you convenience.

CC: NoCheese
 
Hello folks! First time caller, long time listener. I have a long-winded question about stall in the super-singles setting:

Background:

I've made a few runs in the tree but none were very successful. My best team yet has only reached a win streak of 53 and was composed of Greninja, Mimikyu, Umbreon. An offensive team with Umbreon as a backup/just-in-case mixed wall for things the other two couldn't break. After loosing a few runs I realized that I was gradually playing more and more of my toxic wall Umbreon. This eventually lead me to set up a full on wall team. However, none of the tanky combinations I've tried have made it past the 30s. I've heard that pure stall teams have difficulty in the tree but I'm wanting to keep trying.

Question:

I understand that my choices in play, and my team composition have more of an impact than EV spreads, but I'm still curious about where I should be putting those extra stats. I'm now begining to suspect my approach to EV spreads may be incorrect. Since a team of 3 is so limiting I thought it would be a better idea to have general use blockers and use 3 mixed walls instead of having dedicated special and physical walls. Would it be better if I rearranged their EVs to have a more focused application? Or is having full HP investment plus a 50/50 special/phsyical split the right way to go?

TLDR:

Is it wise for a stall team to choose Pokemon for roles as specific special and physical tanks? Or is a generalist "mixed wall" approach more suited to the tree?
 

NoCheese

"Jack, you have debauched my sloth!"
is a Site Staff Alumnusis a Forum Moderator Alumnusis a Contributor Alumnus
TLDR:
Is it wise for a stall team to choose Pokemon for roles as specific special and physical tanks? Or is a generalist "mixed wall" approach more suited to the tree?
First, welcome! Always good to have more Tree discussion.

Sadly, as to your question, the answer is "it depends." I got to four digits with a pretty stallish Gliscor / Chansey / Mega Slowbro. Gliscor, while more oriented towards physical defense just due to base stats, was essentially a mixed defender. It's goal was stall out what move could threaten it or its teammates and then ideally switch to a teammate to set up, or else use Toxic to win. Thanks to Protect + Substitute + Poison Heal, Gliscor could stall out the worrisome attacks from a large number of both physical and special foes. Chansey and Slowbro, on the other hand, were both heavily slanted. Chansey could switch into and set up on most special attackers but few physical ones, and Mega Slowbro was the reverse. So on my team, both generalist and specialist defender set-ups were important.

Even if there's no one correct answer to your question, I can give a couple of pointers. First, if you are using "biased" defenders, you probably want them to be able to set up. That way, dominating one foe will make it easier to beat subsequent ones. This is the big weakness of relying too heavily on something like Milotic. It's a great Toxic-staller, but if it switches into a foe it dominates, it will still be at a disadvantage if a threatening foe comes in next. If Milotic could set up, it might be able to handle that follow-up foe too. Keep this in mind if you build your team around Toxic Umbreon. A corrolary to this is that if your defensive Pokemon can set up, you'll probably want it to have at least reasonable game against both types of attack once it has successfully boosted. It's not worth spending a ton of time setting up if you'll just be forced out the moment an attacker of the "wrong" type comes out. Note that having enough boosted attack to OHKO a threat with the "wrong" type even if it does moderate damage in return is an acceptable approach to the set-up game, so you don't necessarily need to be boosting both defenses to still have post-boosting strength against different types of attacker.

Second is that if you do choose to EV a Pokemon to be a mixed Defender, make sure it can actually handle the role. I'll use two Pokemon I've used a bunch as examples. Suicune is great as a more mixed Defender. Both its Defense and Special Defense start at pretty high levels, and it can boost itself on the Special side with Calm Mind. So give it a Bold Nature, a lot of Defense EVs, and Calm Mind, and you can naturally tank a lot of physical attacks, while you can set up into being hard to crack with special attacks. And Suicune's default special bulk is good enough to safely switch into many special attackers and start the set-up process. Mega Slowbro, on the other hand, fails at the mixed role. I tried a Calm, Max Special Defense spread, but the cost was just too high. Even with Special Defense maxed, Slowbro wasn't able to switch into as many Special Attackers as I'd have liked, and losing the Defense EVs and Bold nature meant that certain high powered physical attackers could now break Slowbro, especially given the lack of critical hit protection on the switch turn, and the almost universal need to take a hit before acting on the Mega Evolve turn (owning to Slowbro's horrible Speed). Trying to do two things ended up meaning that I did neither well. Make sure your Pokemon can truly handle the role you are assigning it.

Best of luck!
 
Hello folks! First time caller, long time listener. I have a long-winded question about stall in the super-singles setting:

Background:

I've made a few runs in the tree but none were very successful. My best team yet has only reached a win streak of 53 and was composed of Greninja, Mimikyu, Umbreon. An offensive team with Umbreon as a backup/just-in-case mixed wall for things the other two couldn't break. After loosing a few runs I realized that I was gradually playing more and more of my toxic wall Umbreon. This eventually lead me to set up a full on wall team. However, none of the tanky combinations I've tried have made it past the 30s. I've heard that pure stall teams have difficulty in the tree but I'm wanting to keep trying.

Question:

I understand that my choices in play, and my team composition have more of an impact than EV spreads, but I'm still curious about where I should be putting those extra stats. I'm now begining to suspect my approach to EV spreads may be incorrect. Since a team of 3 is so limiting I thought it would be a better idea to have general use blockers and use 3 mixed walls instead of having dedicated special and physical walls. Would it be better if I rearranged their EVs to have a more focused application? Or is having full HP investment plus a 50/50 special/phsyical split the right way to go?

TLDR:

Is it wise for a stall team to choose Pokemon for roles as specific special and physical tanks? Or is a generalist "mixed wall" approach more suited to the tree?
Even for slower Pokemon, being able to PP stall and protect against status moves/critical hits by outspeeding and setting up a Substitute is often more important than just repeatedly tanking hits since sooner or later you'll get hit by a OHKO move or frozen for many turns or whatever. This doesn't mean everything needs to have max speed, but in a lot of cases you can outspeed several more Pokemon with just a few speed EVs, which will be more helpful than having another point or two in defenses. A lot of the time Toxic isn't really doing much because if you wall something the AI's not gonna switch out, so you can just use another attack (ideally one with 100% accuracy that is walled by fewer things than every steel or poison type, Rest user, and Pokemon with an ability like Immunity, Poison Heal, Magic Bounce, Magic Guard, etc.) to KO it at your leisure while ideally getting your own Pokemon behind a Substitute and/or boosting its stats.

If you have Chansey + a lead with Intimidate, you can switch Chansey in against basically anything that can't boost its attack or hit it with physical Fighting STAB and beat it while having full HP with a Substitute and +6 evasion for whatever comes out next. It is much more effective to lean heavily on the most overpowered Pokemon that brute force their way through the most teams/sets on their own and support them with specialized teammates that can come through in the rare bad matchups (relatively easy to prepare for because the pool of opposing Pokemon is fixed) than to try for a 'well-balanced' team that walls lots of stuff on paper but in reality falls victim to relatively common forms of bad luck. For example, I'd consider something like Mega Salamence to be a better member of a 'stall' team than most things that would be better mixed walls because it's fast, can PP stall with Substitute/Roost, and complements Chansey with Intimidate and its good matchup against the physical fighting types Chansey has trouble with; Salamence's relative lack of special defense doesn't matter because Chansey already beats any special attacker.

The other thing to keep in mind is that most walls need Leftovers to be at their best, which makes Pokemon that use other items such as Chansey or Gliscor even more valuable if you're trying to make a stall team.
 
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Team help please! Super singles looking to get higher streaks to unlock Wally for multibattles. My current team only got to battle 52 before falling to something I forgot. Here is my current team:

Salamence Salamencite
Nature: jolly
Ability: intimidate (aerilate upon mega-evolving)
IVs: all 31 except spA
EVs: 252 spe 252 atk 6 spdef

Return
Dragon claw
Earthquake
Dragon dance

This guy leads the team. Intimidate ability to start guarantees the opposition’s lead will be crippled from the start if it uses physical attacks, granting mence a turn of DD setup. Usually he doesn’t need it, especially between battles 1-35, wherein the opposition uses weaker Pokémon. Return hits like a truck, dragon claw is reliable neutral coverage for other dragons and mons that resist return and earthquake, and dragon dance is for breaking through more defensive mons provided they aren’t ones that use status. My other mons can cover mence’s weaknesses really well, and both don’t really mind status, so there’s the added benefit of status protection, which mence really, REALLY enjoys. Usually mence can rip through teams, but if he runs into trouble, I have my other two mons: ...

tapu-koko Life Orb
Nature: timid
Ability: electric surge
IVs: all 31 except attack
EVs: 252 spe 252 spA 6 spdef

Thunderbolt
Dazzling gleam
Grass knot
Taunt

Tapu-koko is really, really good at 3 things: 1) cleaning and even wallbreaking provided electric terrain is up, 2) eating status like paralysis and burns which really hurt salamence, and 3) shutting down annoying status users and even causing some to struggle to death. It has the added benefit of being immune to dragon moves that threaten salamence, and can also take physical hits reasonably well after salamence’s intimidate kicks in, guaranteeing it will be in play for at least 2 turns almost every time. Life orb is of course for extra power, dazzling gleam is extra stab for mons immune to or resistant to electric attacks, and grass knot is for breaking through heavy and electric-immune ground or rock types like rhyperior, hippowdown, etc. Taunt is extra and has proven useful in certain situations, freeing up salamence to set up more easily, especially if it hasn’t gone mega yet, and also really helps out my next mon...

aegislash Leftovers
Nature: quiet
Ability: stance change
IVs: all 31 except speed, which is low but not 0, unfortunately. Too difficult to breed that on
EVs: 252 hp 252 spA 6 atk

Flash cannon
Shadow ball
Shadow sneak
Kings shield

Aegislash...where do I begin?! It eats up ice, dragon, rock, and fairy attacks for Salamence. It eats up poison for Tapu Koko and can even take earthquakes for it. It is both an offensive and defensive behemoth, and I’ve saved salamence and Tapu-koko from certain death too many times to count with this monster. Its low speed and low reliance on physical attack means it doesn’t mind paralysis or burns, and it can’t be whittled down with toxic. Leftovers provides passive recovery and can activate twice with King’s Shield. Speaking of kings shield, it can harshly lower the opposition’s physical attack if it’s using a contact move, which stacks with intimidate to render them practically useless. It can even take super effective stabs from the likes of weavile, which is a reasonably powerful physical sweeper that I tend to run into a lot. I opted for a speed reducing nature to almost guarantee that it eats up an attack while in shield form and then hits back extremely hard, paving the way for salamence or Tapu Koko when it goes down, if it does. shadow sneak, while somewhat weak without much investment, can pick off focus sash users or extremely weakened mons in a pinch. Flash cannon and shadow ball provide surprisingly good super effective coverage for mons that threaten mence and koko, as well as surprisingly good neutral coverage, even if it isn’t a physical set that uses sacred sword. They both also have a chance of lowering the opposition’s special defense, making destroying things easier. The reason I opted for a special set is because I really want to save salamence from burns, and it doesn’t mind paralysis since it’s meant to be slow anyway. Quiet nature is to ensure shadow sneak isn’t overly weakened, and the low speed IV is to help it move last. Anyway, eating up attacks and hitting back really hard is what this guy is meant to do, and he sort of serves as an essential glue for the team.

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? All greatly appreciated, as I want to achieve highest streaks possible until I can scout Wally with mega gallade and scarfed garchomp to use in multibattle since I’m not able to hook up with a friend who wants to conquer this with me..lol. Thanks in advance!!! :)
 
The long story short is that you're using a mainly hyperoffensive composition (none of your Pokemon is able to safely stall / setup to 1v3), so you are prone to eventually fall to a faster/stronger teamcomp that you cannot wall or flat out RNG from a 1hko or status.

Since Wally can show up anytime every 10 battles in Super battles (including battle 10, but except on battle 50), this shouldn't really be a concern of yours, though.
You can just keep retrying over and over (as I assume your battles are quite fast since you're not running any reliable setup, in fact no setup at all aside from Dragon Dance) until you run into him.

Note that the odds to run into Wally with *exactly* the pokemon you want are somewhat low: he has 8 possible pokemon sets to use (2 sets for 4 pokemon), and you'd need the first 2 of the 3 he brings to be exactly Gallade-4 and Garchomp-3, so that might actually take quite a while.
 
Team help please! Super singles looking to get higher streaks to unlock Wally for multibattles. My current team only got to battle 52 before falling to something I forgot. Here is my current team:

Salamence Salamencite
Nature: jolly
Ability: intimidate (aerilate upon mega-evolving)
IVs: all 31 except spA
EVs: 252 spe 252 atk 6 spdef

Return
Dragon claw
Earthquake
Dragon dance

This guy leads the team. Intimidate ability to start guarantees the opposition’s lead will be crippled from the start if it uses physical attacks, granting mence a turn of DD setup. Usually he doesn’t need it, especially between battles 1-35, wherein the opposition uses weaker Pokémon. Return hits like a truck, dragon claw is reliable neutral coverage for other dragons and mons that resist return and earthquake, and dragon dance is for breaking through more defensive mons provided they aren’t ones that use status. My other mons can cover mence’s weaknesses really well, and both don’t really mind status, so there’s the added benefit of status protection, which mence really, REALLY enjoys. Usually mence can rip through teams, but if he runs into trouble, I have my other two mons: ...

tapu-koko Life Orb
Nature: timid
Ability: electric surge
IVs: all 31 except attack
EVs: 252 spe 252 spA 6 spdef

Thunderbolt
Dazzling gleam
Grass knot
Taunt

Tapu-koko is really, really good at 3 things: 1) cleaning and even wallbreaking provided electric terrain is up, 2) eating status like paralysis and burns which really hurt salamence, and 3) shutting down annoying status users and even causing some to struggle to death. It has the added benefit of being immune to dragon moves that threaten salamence, and can also take physical hits reasonably well after salamence’s intimidate kicks in, guaranteeing it will be in play for at least 2 turns almost every time. Life orb is of course for extra power, dazzling gleam is extra stab for mons immune to or resistant to electric attacks, and grass knot is for breaking through heavy and electric-immune ground or rock types like rhyperior, hippowdown, etc. Taunt is extra and has proven useful in certain situations, freeing up salamence to set up more easily, especially if it hasn’t gone mega yet, and also really helps out my next mon...

aegislash Leftovers
Nature: quiet
Ability: stance change
IVs: all 31 except speed, which is low but not 0, unfortunately. Too difficult to breed that on
EVs: 252 hp 252 spA 6 atk

Flash cannon
Shadow ball
Shadow sneak
Kings shield

Aegislash...where do I begin?! It eats up ice, dragon, rock, and fairy attacks for Salamence. It eats up poison for Tapu Koko and can even take earthquakes for it. It is both an offensive and defensive behemoth, and I’ve saved salamence and Tapu-koko from certain death too many times to count with this monster. Its low speed and low reliance on physical attack means it doesn’t mind paralysis or burns, and it can’t be whittled down with toxic. Leftovers provides passive recovery and can activate twice with King’s Shield. Speaking of kings shield, it can harshly lower the opposition’s physical attack if it’s using a contact move, which stacks with intimidate to render them practically useless. It can even take super effective stabs from the likes of weavile, which is a reasonably powerful physical sweeper that I tend to run into a lot. I opted for a speed reducing nature to almost guarantee that it eats up an attack while in shield form and then hits back extremely hard, paving the way for salamence or Tapu Koko when it goes down, if it does. shadow sneak, while somewhat weak without much investment, can pick off focus sash users or extremely weakened mons in a pinch. Flash cannon and shadow ball provide surprisingly good super effective coverage for mons that threaten mence and koko, as well as surprisingly good neutral coverage, even if it isn’t a physical set that uses sacred sword. They both also have a chance of lowering the opposition’s special defense, making destroying things easier. The reason I opted for a special set is because I really want to save salamence from burns, and it doesn’t mind paralysis since it’s meant to be slow anyway. Quiet nature is to ensure shadow sneak isn’t overly weakened, and the low speed IV is to help it move last. Anyway, eating up attacks and hitting back really hard is what this guy is meant to do, and he sort of serves as an essential glue for the team.

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? All greatly appreciated, as I want to achieve highest streaks possible until I can scout Wally with mega gallade and scarfed garchomp to use in multibattle since I’m not able to hook up with a friend who wants to conquer this with me..lol. Thanks in advance!!! :)
If you want higher streaks and faster wins, replacing Dragon Claw and Return with Substitute and Double Edge and Aegislash's Leftovers with a Weakness Policy are easy enough fixes without having to change much about how you play. There's zero point in Dragon Claw when Double Edge does basically the same amount of damage to Dragon types and obviously Double Edge is KOing more things than Return if you're just trying to plow through with Salamence and clean up with the other two. But as mentioned, getting a higher streak doesn't really affect your likelihood of running into a particular boss trainer.
 
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First, thank you NoCheese and GGUnit for taking the time to write up some impressively detailed answers! I really appreciate your time :blobthumbsup:. You've definitely given me a lot to consider. Enough to make me rethink how heavily I weigh certain factors when choosing a Pokemon.

I got to four digits with a pretty stallish Gliscor / Chansey / Mega Slowbro. Gliscor, while more oriented towards physical defense just due to base stats, was essentially a mixed defender. It's goal was stall out what move could threaten it or its teammates and then ideally switch to a teammate to set up, or else use Toxic to win. Thanks to Protect + Substitute + Poison Heal, Gliscor could stall out the worrisome attacks from a large number of both physical and special foes.
One of the stallers I've already tried out was the mentioned Gliscor Poison Heal + Substitute + Protect combo. The initial stall team was Mega-Venusaur, Pyukumuku, and Gliscor. I feel like the biggest thing hindering my performance with Gliscor is inexperience. Ive gotten complacent and tried to lead with a super effective EQ only to be blindsided by a surprise lethal Ice Beam, which I've since learned to just always scout with Protect first turn. I chose not to run toxic on him since I was trying not to have too many duplicate moves in my team. Is it good enough to warrant giving it to him anyway? I also gave him an Hp/SpD/Def spread which I am beginning to regret since getting outsped is kind of a big deal, and the extra bulk hasn't been enough to warrant the risk of getting hit before my sub goes up. Do you run a speedy Gliscor? And how big of a burden is it to have multiple toxic users on a team?

Even for slower Pokemon, being able to PP stall and protect against status moves/critical hits by outspeeding and setting up a Substitute is often more important than just repeatedly tanking hits since sooner or later you'll get hit by a OHKO move or frozen for many turns or whatever. This doesn't mean everything needs to have max speed, but in a lot of cases you can outspeed several more Pokemon with just a few speed EVs, which will be more helpful than having another point or two in defenses. A lot of the time Toxic isn't really doing much because if you wall something the AI's not gonna switch out, so you can just use another attack (ideally one with 100% accuracy that is walled by fewer things than every steel or poison type, Rest user, and Pokemon with an ability like Immunity, Poison Heal, Magic Bounce, Magic Guard, etc.) to KO it at your leisure while ideally getting your own Pokemon behind a Substitute and/or boosting its stats.
How important would you say it is to have run a stat booster if you have a way to consistently inflict status? On my "baby's first stall team" I mentioned above, I have Venosaur with Leech Seed + Sludge Bomb, and Pyukumuku with Soak + Toxic. So using either one of those Pokemon can make sure I inflict at least one condition (only excepting veno against another grass+poison/steel type). I understand that the idea of losing momentum by killing a Pokemon with status then needing to reapply and start over with the new switch in. Its something I've noticed when going through the tree and was unsure what the cure would be, but the stat booster idea is definitely a good remedy.
 
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Do you run a speedy Gliscor? And how big of a burden is it to have multiple toxic users on a team?
You can find his spreads (as well as basically any other big streak) complete of explanations in the first post.

https://www.smogon.com/forums/threa...ion-and-records.3587215/page-167#post-8129099

This is NoCheese's specifically.
Gliscor @_Toxic Orb
Train: Poison Heal
Nature: Jolly (+Spe, - Spa)
-Earthquake
-Protect
-Substitute
-Toxic
Stats: 177 / 115 / 145 / 58 / 103 /159
IVs: 31 / 31 / 31 / 31 / 31 / 31
EVs: 212 / 0 / 0 / 0 / 60 / 236

The Gliscor spread is VaporeonIce’s Jolly Gliscor spread from the Maison, used on his Mega Lopunny / Gliscor / Quagsire team. I bred the Pokemon in 5th gen, EVed it much later to a Maison spread, and then set it aside for years. I didn’t re-theorymon it, besides deciding I wanted to try Jolly over a defensive nature since I find it much easier to play fast Substitute users. I now know I do want to continue to outspeed Mega Sharpedo. Currently Gliscor has 159 Speed, and the Sharpedo has 157. So at most, I could drop by 8 EV (1 stat point). Sadly (foreshadowing!) Gliscor can’t outspeed Mimikyu3 and its 162 Speed even at full investment.
 
How important would you say it is to have run a stat booster if you have a way to consistently inflict status? On my "baby's first stall team" I mentioned above, I have Venosaur with Leech Seed + Sludge Bomb, and Pyukumuku with Soak + Toxic. So using either one of those Pokemon can make sure I inflict at least one condition (only excepting veno against another grass+poison/steel type). I understand that the idea of losing momentum by killing a Pokemon with status then needing to reapply and start over with the new switch in. Its something I've noticed when going through the tree and was unsure what the cure would be, but the stat booster idea is definitely a good remedy.
As you get further along, you'll run into a wide enough variety of opposing stat boosters that you'll always have a few threats you need to be able to KO in fewer than 8-10 turns. If you can't do that, your odds of being able to chip them down are much higher if you already have a Substitute plus boosted defenses or evasion. At the end of the day, fainting is really the only status condition that matters, and with moveslots at a premium having (at least) half a Pokemon's attacks dedicated to damaging the opponent leaves you with less ability to stall optimally. You can't KO Rest users through Toxic or Leech Seed (let alone all the Pokemon with abilities that nullify such moves) and besides those there will be plenty of other situations where PP stalling something out of damaging attacks will be a safer path to victory than trying to status/attack it or switch to a teammate.
 
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That's a very good point. I'm going to take another look at some of the stall teams on the first page and reassess what I want my team to do. Thank you.
When it comes to momentum, there will always be certain things you won't be able to KO in a timely fashion, but you can PP stall the vast majority of them. Being able to max out PP is basically the 2nd biggest advantage you get over the AI besides being able to switch more freely, so you might as well take advantage of it. You just have to choose which things will be able to totally wall you, and Pokemon like Chansey and Mega Slowbro are at least able to wall all the ghosts or Water Absorbers that wall them while having substantially more PP.
 
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Hmm... I've been thinking of more teams to come.

Is using Mimikyu in Doubles viable? I'm thinking the reusable Disguise (thanks to its Z-Move) and potential set-up abuse with Tapu Fini's Swagger compared to other things I have been thinking (many interesting leads I think of are flying, unaffected by Misty Terrain), but it lacks the raw power at first and in danger of statuses, is it?

While on that, I also think of breeding to get MegazardX, as it is also not flying, usable with Fini's Swagger while also having Tailwind to control speed. How viable is that and if I do this, what are the other teammates I can use? I'm thinking of bringing an Anti-TR Cresselia.
 
Is using Mimikyu in Doubles viable? I'm thinking the reusable Disguise (thanks to its Z-Move) and potential set-up abuse with Tapu Fini's Swagger compared to other things I have been thinking (many interesting leads I think of are flying, unaffected by Misty Terrain), but it lacks the raw power at first and in danger of statuses, is it?
Mimikyu is usable and has been used in some ways, can perform as TR setter or just damage, but it really doesn't have any big selling point. Disguise is much less powerful in doubles due to lot of sets running spread moves and not protecting from statuses or flinch, though. It has some perks as TR setter but its high speed means it has a hard time doing anything after setting TR.
Also, Disguise is not reusable in any way, once it's broken it's broken for the fight. Swapping doesn't reset it.

While on that, I also think of breeding to get MegazardX, as it is also not flying, usable with Fini's Swagger while also having Tailwind to control speed. How viable is that and if I do this, what are the other teammates I can use? I'm thinking of bringing an Anti-TR Cresselia.
I've used a bit of Chari X (I think i'm the only one who really bothered), and honestly... it's lackluster.
100 speed is not going to cut it for a purely offensive pokemon that can't hold a item, you *need* speed support from something else. (My team was running tailwind)
Being weak to 2 extremely common spread moves (EQ and Rock slide) doesn't help either, and even if going mega allows to reduce electric damage on the mega turn, you'll still risk a paralysis if you decide to eat one without terrain. He also ends up murdering himself with Flare Blitz *very* fast, hitting a supereffective one can easily chunk yourself for half of your hp right away.
This was my streak with Chari X if you're interested anyhow, it's definitely workable but you have to dedicate the comp to it:
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/battle-tree-discussion-and-records.3587215/post-7889793
Swagger Fini is also quite unreliable, requires a turn to setup, can miss, is vulnerable due to low speed... again, not something I'd recommend for a consistent streak either.
Cresselia is unfortunately pretty awful to use if you're not running a Trick Room comp... and honestly even as Trick Room setters it's not amazing due to how passive and fast it is after setting TR, you can dedicate it to full support with Helping Hand and Ally Switch but not having any immunity to status/taunt/flinch making turn 1 trick room not as reliable as other setters who at least can ignore one of those.

TLDR: don't bother unless you *really* like those pokemon or something similar. They require significant support to function and all 3 have better options to use for their roles.
 
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Mimikyu is usable and has been used in some ways, can perform as TR setter or just damage, but it really doesn't have any big selling point. Disguise is much less powerful in doubles due to lot of sets running spread moves and not protecting from statuses or flinch, though. It has some perks as TR setter but its high speed means it has a hard time doing anything after setting TR.
Also, Disguise is not reusable in any way, once it's broken it's broken for the fight. Swapping doesn't reset it.


I've used a bit of Chari X (I think i'm the only one who really bothered), and honestly... it's lackluster.
100 speed is not going to cut it for a purely offensive pokemon that can't hold a item, you *need* speed support from something else. (My team was running tailwind)
Being weak to 2 extremely common spread moves (EQ and Rock slide) doesn't help either, and even if going mega allows to reduce electric damage on the mega turn, you'll still risk a paralysis if you decide to eat one without terrain. He also ends up murdering himself with Flare Blitz *very* fast, hitting a supereffective one can easily chunk yourself for half of your hp right away.
This was my streak with Chari X if you're interested anyhow, it's definitely workable but you have to dedicate the comp to it:
https://www.smogon.com/forums/threads/battle-tree-discussion-and-records.3587215/post-7889793
Swagger Fini is also quite unreliable, requires a turn to setup, can miss, is vulnerable due to low speed... again, not something I'd recommend for a consistent streak either.
Cresselia is unfortunately pretty awful to use if you're not running a Trick Room comp... and honestly even as Trick Room setters it's not amazing due to how passive and fast it is after setting TR, you can dedicate it to full support with Helping Hand and Ally Switch but not having any immunity to status/taunt/flinch making turn 1 trick room not as reliable as other setters who at least can ignore one of those.

TLDR: don't bother unless you *really* like those pokemon or something similar. They require significant support to function and all 3 have better options to use for their roles.
Wait, I forgot... Mimikyu's exclusive Z-Move doesn't restore Disguise? I really forgot and was under impression it was. Thanks anyways.

... I'll have to rethink then. It's true that few times it actually misses and pretty inconsistent. I'll have to look for better tactics then. I suppose I'll have to read more team samples.

Hmm... I'm thinking of using some other mon, but I'm unsure. I think of MegaAudino, since it is built for Doubles, and able to set Trick Room, but it is just as passive as Cresselia with even more lack of offensive power and I don't think leaving the attacking role to just one mon is a good tactics (Fini can at least use Nature Wrath to make it easier to KO something), all while taking Mega slot. I'm thinking of Ally Switch, but that's only useful to block Ghosts from targetting Tapu Lele and both are dead to Steel and Poison anyway.
 
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If you want to use Charizard X, I recommend a similar approach to mine, provide it reliable speed control and match it with teammates that can deal with its issues (Expecially ground/rock types and trick room)
It has plenty of raw power without the need to setup. You can run Dragon Dance, but it means dropping Thunder Punch (Heatran and several water and rock types will wall him extremely hard) or Dragon Claw (in which case, you'll be walled by opposer Dragons), so you'll need your teammates to cover for those.
 
If you want to use Charizard X, I recommend a similar approach to mine, provide it reliable speed control and match it with teammates that can deal with its issues (Expecially ground/rock types and trick room)
It has plenty of raw power without the need to setup. You can run Dragon Dance, but it means dropping Thunder Punch (Heatran and several water and rock types will wall him extremely hard) or Dragon Claw (in which case, you'll be walled by opposer Dragons), so you'll need your teammates to cover for those.
I think I'm ditching that already due to the prospect of Flare Blitz killing itself alone, which I really forgot. He's no Maison's Talonflame where I could just spend HP EV to spam Brave Bird if even needed. I should think of a good lead first with speed control.

Since every team here will have maximised IV, including Speed even on TR team, us playing TR with 0Spe would give advantage even over opposing TR user, am I correct? I'll see what can I possibly do with other TR teams like this 0Spe Celesteela. I was struggling to think of using Celesteela due to it being unable to support(and flying, unable to get SwagFini trick), but I think I should shift its role to be more independent.
 
Since every team here will have maximised IV, including Speed even on TR team, us playing TR with 0Spe would give advantage even over opposing TR user, am I correct? I'll see what can I possibly do with other TR teams like this 0Spe Celesteela. I was struggling to think of using Celesteela due to it being unable to support(and flying, unable to get SwagFini trick), but I think I should shift its role to be more independent.
You're correct, having 0 IV gives an advantage over identical AI pokemon.

in the first page there's a specific list with Trick Room dedicated speed tiers if you're curious as there's certain pokemon running items like Iron Ball which might catch you off guard.
 

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ZAPFINI OR TRIBUTES

Submitting an ongoing streak of 2250 (now 3000) in Ultra Moon Super Doubles with a team of Tapu Fini / Incineroar / Zapdos / Mega Metagross (QR team). The replay of 2250 can be found in the Replay Vault below, or seen in-game with the code 3NLW-WWWW-WWX7-JQUG.



I am incredibly excited to finally present the team I have been spending most of my time with for the last several months! This team is very special to me; unlike any other I've ran in the past, I don't feel like I carried it to great heights, but rather like it carried me. In spite of the enormous learning curve I went through, in spite of all the battles that weren't optimally played, the team displayed more resilience and consistency than I ever thought possible in the Battle Tree. The more I used the team, the more I could appreciate and respect its depth, the more I started enjoying my time in the Tree and the long grind.

Usually, I remain excited about a new team I'm trying and finding success with for about 250-300 battles, after which the repetitive nature of the Tree takes a toll and I become less and less enthused. For the first time, this team had the exact opposite effect. While the first couple hundreds of battles felt tedious, my enjoyment has been steadily growing ever since. Unlike most teams I've used in the past, this one has so many different possible playing patterns that for most good decisions, there's probably a different one that seems just as good if not better. It makes the grind engaging, it forces me to keep thinking about different scenarios all the time, and while that may sound tedious (games do tend to take a long time), it's also been a rewarding experience unlike any other I've had playing Tree. Thus, instead of making this post a "team report", I only found it fitting to make it an tribute collection, a love letter of sort toward the team that carried me all the way to 2250. This is going to be a long post; I adore the team and it feels like I have a million things to say about it, but I'll try to not turn into the Rapidash fan from Vermillion City!

A TRIBUTE TO THE WARRIORS

@ Wiki Berry

Modest | Misty Terrain
IVs: 31/2/31/22/31/28 [HP Fire] (Hyper trained to 31/2/31/31/31/31)
EVs: 252 HP / 28 Def / 68 SpAtk / 4 SpDef / 156 Spe
Moonblast / Scald / Calm Mind / Protect


Outside the Battle Tree, Tapu Fini has been on a large number of the teams I've built since the release of Gen 7. From the get-go, I realized no Pokémon fits my playstyle better, a perfect compromise between bulk and offence (the offensive side of things mostly thanks to its wonderful dual typing, granted). I started using Wiki Berry on it very early, right after discovering how these berries had been buffed, and I saw an immediate improvement over the "standard" Leftovers. Nowadays, the berry couldn't be more standard (in doubles anyway), but back then, just a couple of weeks after release, it felt like my horizons had just expanded so much, like I had just discovered a secret that had been obscurely sealed by Game Freak. Very few Pokémon can go in that 25% HP range as reliably as Fini does... I still have no idea how it always ends up getting there, but somehow it does - it's like its stats were carefully planned so that most combinations of factors get it into that range! That couple of months during which I felt like I was in possession of that precious, game-changing 50% Berry secret is probably a major factor as to why I became so fond of them, a love that lasts to this day, even though they have definitely gone "mainstream" long ago by now!

While the Wiki Berry has been a given on Tapu Fini for a long time for me, it took me a much longer time to accept that Calm Mind was actually worth running. Taunt, Nature's Madness, Heal Pulse, Icy Wind... I used (and enjoyed) all of these before embracing what had quickly become the most standard doubles set. In this case, the partnership with Incineroar is what convinced me that Calm Mind was worth trying out; thanks to Fake Out and Intimidate, it's extremely common for Fini to be able to set up a "free" Calm Mind on the first turn, which immediately turns a great Pokémon into a godly Pokémon. The bulk gained from the combination of Calm Mind and Intimidate allows Fini to tank about anything, and its offensive presence also gets patched up, able to at least 2HKO the majority of Tree. This also means it can survives a variety of strong, super effective hits, get down to that 25% range, heal to ~75%, KO the threatening Pokémon in return (those that can hit Fini this hard are frail enough in most cases), and still be in a fantastic position for the next turn after that exchange. This probably sounds like a lot of theorymonning, but it does work out this way a lot of the time; hopefully the calcs section will adequately show it! [Relevant replays: 362, 824, 1113]

As far as the attacks go, double STAB is all Fini needs, it already offers very wide coverage on its own. Moonblast requires no explanation, and Scald is used over Muddy Water for reliability, which is important for long Tree streaks. Protect is pretty obvious as well; positioning, stalling out a turn while a threat is KOd by the partner, baiting hits, etc. One common pattern of play of this team when one of the opposing leads threatens Fini (for example a Grass type, like Rotom-Mow) is to Fake it Out turn 1 while Fini Calm Minds, then Protect Fini and KO the threat with Incineroar, leaving Fini in a fantastic position for the next turn.

One of the biggest perks of using Tapu Fini is that in addition to its amazing typing and stats, you get Misty Surge, which I would rank as the very best ability for Tree play. All Tree Climbers know the AI loves its Thunder Waves, its Confuse Rays, Swaggers, etc., not to mention the additional effects of the common Blizzards and Thunders. In the long run, teams that have no protection against those inevitably fall victim to bad RNG, it's only a matter of time. Misty Surge basically nullifies this, and even baits the (dumb) AI into using Confuse Ray and Swagger anyway repeatedly, because it doesn't realize Misty Terrain is preventing it and will prevent it again next turn (this has led to a few free +2 boosts to Incineroar and Metagross along the way - definitely won't complain!).
Like most good things in life that you have in abundance, you don't realize how amazing they are until you actually lose them. I don't think much of it while I'm using ZapFini, but not having Misty Terrain on other teams I try on the side makes me feel like Fini should be on about every single team I build these days. It's also the method I use to prevent Toxic stalling from the likes of Blissey4 and Cresselia2, I can ignore them, and PP stall them in the end game by simply ensuring I properly reset Misty Terrain whenever I need to; a painful plan, but it works, and that's all that matters. [Relevant replay: 506, 619, 667, 1599, 1886]

The EV spread was adjusted a few times early on, but I haven't touched it in a long time and I don't remember all the reasons that went into it. I know the last adjustment was its Speed, with 156 EVs outspeeding Tyranitar23 by 1 point. This is a lot more speed than I would have liked to invest (the initial idea was to have close to no speed and rely on Tailwind when it was needed), but a loss to Tyranitar3 kind of forced my hand - well, not just that loss, but the fact I struggled against it a few times in the past as well and got lucky to not flinch from Rock Slides. The thing is, when Tyranitar3 isn't outsped, it has a chance to start using Rock Slide right away and flinch the lead repeatedly. Obviously, Metagross doesn't care too much about Rock Slides, but if Tyranitar's partner is likely to use a Fighting-type move for example, the switch it very awkward. Meanwhile, outspeeding means Tyranitar will pretty much always Dragon Dance turn 1, which means no flinches. Moonblast is almost always a 2HKO (in Sand), and if it's Unnerve, a simple Moonblast + U-turn gets the turn 1 OHKO (a safe U-turn is incredibly valuable here, as it gets Metagross in - if Tyranitar survived the turn, Metagross baits a Crunch/Earthquake and can Protect while Fini finishes it off with Moonblast). It might appear a bit situational, but ever since this change in speed, Tyranitar hasn't been an issue for the team at any point. Though in the end, I think having that much speed on Fini turned out to be beneficial for a lot more scenarios than I had envisioned; Fini's bulk is sufficient as is, and I'm actually afraid that adding too much bulk might upset the balance that gives me the berry so reliably.

While I don't remember the initial calcs that brought me to distribute the bulk and SpA the way it is, I collected important calcs that actually mattered at a point or another during the streak, since I wanted to make sure my list was more than just a list of nice calcs that may or may not come into play one day.
Defensive:
  • 252 SpA Jolteon Thunder vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 134-158 (75.7 - 89.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Rotom-Frost Thunder vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 144-170 (81.3 - 96%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Mold Breaker Ampharos-Mega Thunder vs. +1 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 132-156 (74.5 - 88.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Life Orb Snorlax Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Tapu Fini: 75-90 (42.3 - 50.8%) -- 2% chance to 2HKO
  • -1 252 Atk Aerilate Salamence-Mega Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Tapu Fini: 76-91 (42.9 - 51.4%) -- 6.3% chance to 2HKO
  • -1 252 Atk Reckless Staraptor Double-Edge vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Tapu Fini: 67-79 (37.8 - 44.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Slaking Giga Impact vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Tapu Fini: 142-168 (80.2 - 94.9%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Nidoqueen Poison Jab vs. 252 HP / 28 Def Tapu Fini: 68-84 (38.4 - 47.4%) -- guaranteed 4HKO after Wiki Berry recovery
  • 252 SpA Houndoom Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 74-88 (41.8 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 4HKO after Wiki Berry recovery
  • -1 252 Atk Garchomp Earthquake vs. 252 HP / 44 Def Tapu Fini: 36-43 (20.3 - 24.2%) -- guaranteed 5HKO after Wiki Berry recovery
  • 252+ SpA Mesprit Thunder vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini on a critical hit: 144-170 (81.3 - 96%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
Offensive:
  • 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Scald vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Heatran: 98-116 (49.4 - 58.5%) -- 96.5% chance to 2HKO
  • +1 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Latios-Mega: 156-186 (100.6 - 120%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • +1 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 0 HP / 252 SpD Conkeldurr: 186-222 (103.3 - 123.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • +1 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Scald vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Lycanroc-Midnight: 194-230 (101 - 119.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • +1 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Slowbro-Mega: 109-130 (53.9 - 64.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • +1 68+ SpA Tapu Fini Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Rotom-Fan: 87-103 (55.4 - 65.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO


@ Iapapa Berry

Adamant | Intimidate
IVs: 31/31/31/31/31/31
EVs: 236 HP / 36 Atk / 4 Def / 148 SpDef / 84 Spe
Fake Out / Flare Blitz / Knock Off / U-turn


Unlike Tapu Fini, Incineroar is a Pokémon that took a very long time to grow on me. I really dislike its design and theme, and before Intimidate was released, it was also pretty mediocre competitively. I hated the idea that Intimidate would eventually make it a solid pick for VGC, and was not planning on using it in any case. But after its release, I had to eventually give in... and had no choice but to accept that much like Fini, its amazing mix of bulk and offence fit my playstyle like a glove. In the past year, I've seen and used Incineroar so much that I can't even notice its stupid design anymore; it's a bit as if I ate the same meal every day for a year, at this point, it just tastes neutral. However, what I have grown to care about is how reliable it is as a support, and how useful its dual typing is offensively. It's a perfect glue Pokémon that can bring together so many things with basically no drawback. In Tree, Incineroar has a little less of a field day given how many Fighting and Rock type moves you face; they're way more common than in VGC or DOU, especially the annoying Focus Blast. But with the right partners, Incineroar has proven it can be just as dominant in Tree - at least, it has been for me!

Starting with the most obvious features, the combination of Intimidate and Fake Out provide Tapu Fini with several turn 1 occasions to Calm Mind, after which it tends to have a field day. However, my patterns of play have evolved over time, and while I used to almost always Fake Out on turn 1, I now find myself skipping it fairly often. It's not uncommon for Incineroar to be able to immediately score a OHKO with one of its STABs, or put something in range of Fini for next turn (something Fini will outspeed, ideally). In those cases, Fake Out only contributes to giving one of the opposing Pokémon a free turn - especially if Tapu Fini can act as an effective lure on that turn (mostly against Electric or Grass Pokémon). It's also not uncommon for me to simply switch out Fini and attack with Incineroar on turn 1... point in case, Fake Out is one option among others, and not always the most optimal. However, Incineroar does switch out-and-in a lot to cycle Intimidate, and in several end games, Fake Out plays a crucial role in handling big threats, especially if they've been setting up.

Flare Blitz doesn't need much explaining, it's a very strong STAB that compliments Tapu Fini really well by dealing with Grass-types. While recoil is usually a downside for this move, thanks to the Iapapa Berry, the recoil is more often than not helpful for Incineroar, so there's really little drawback to it (though on neutral targets, I usually still go for Knock Off most of the time). Which brings me to the topic of Incineroar's item...

I started using Incineroar with an Assault Vest, which is probably its most obvious fitting item when you consider the fact it doesn't really need Protect, and has Intimidate to neuter physical hits already. There are some impressive calcs of things Incineroar can live with an AV, and I was reluctant to try out the Berry at first, not too confident its bulk would be sufficient to tank the hits I wanted it to and get to eat the berry (keep in mind, this was right after release, when AV was also the standard competitive item). I WAS SO WRONG!

Switching the item to the Iapapa Berry was the best thing to happen to Incineroar. First, I never once found myself thinking "wow, I wish I had the AV there instead" - it still tanks a wide list of super effective special hits (see the Calcs section), several of which reliably bring it to the Berry healing range. That 50% HP recovery is basically the exact additional bulk the AV was offering, except it has a huge additional advantage in that it applies to physical hits as well (and that makes a massive difference). With AV, Incineroar gets worn down quickly when the opponents are physical attackers (well, quickly is relative, but compared to the berry variant, it's night and day). Given the large variety of Pokémon Incineroar ends up facing in Tree, I can't emphasize how big of a difference it makes (see battle 1117 for example). In addition, a big factor to take into consideration is Flare Blitz recoil; against some trainers, Incineroar repeatedly uses Flare Blitz (Sun teams or Grass trainers for example), and with an AV, this wears Incineroar down very quickly, cutting into the bulk the AV offers, where on special hits, every HP is basically worth 1.5 HP. This makes recoil much more of a problem, and reduces its lifespan by a lot. On the other hand, since the berry offers 1.5x the amount of overall HP, cutting into it with recoil is not as big of a deal (granted berry activation, every HP of recoil is basically worth 0.67 HP instead of 1.5 - that's a huge difference!). In addition, the recoil actually contributes to reliably activating the berry (one of the best things about this combo in my opinion, see battles 1946 or 1875 for example!). As for the calcs that AV allowed it to live, I came to the conclusion that Incineroar should never be left in front of these attacks anyway, AV or not. It shouldn't be Incineroar's role to deal with any of these Pokémon, and living a huge hit with a bit of HP left is not so valuable for it anyway, since it's a Pokémon you want to switch in and out and lot, and being too low on HP makes it not a switch-in anymore, while healing with the berry means it can very well switch out (or more commonly, U-turn out) and switch in on resisted hits several times in the future, even after going down to the red earlier.

Obviously, the context has to be taken into account: this is a team that switches around a lot, repositions itself and scores most KOs by doubling up on opponents. A team where Incineroar isn't switched in and out as much may not find as much value in the berry, but then it may not find as much value in Incineroar itself, since this is what it does best. [Relevant replays: 540, 598, 833, 865, 1570]

Knock Off, alongside U-turn, is the move that get the most use on Incineroar. It's a powerful STAB with a useful side-effect, probably one of the best moves in Pokémon overall. It's extremely "spammable"; not many Pokémon in Tree resist it, and due to how common Psychic legendaries are (the Lake Trio, the Eon Twins and Cresselia are all common sights), Dark is a really good offensive typing to have. But I think the biggest value of Knock Off comes from how hard it hits neutral targets. On a team that scores most of its KOs by doubling up on foes, Knock Off's initial high damage is all that's really needed to either finish things off, or put them in range of a teammate. Because of that, the fact the following hits are less powerful is very rarely relevant - in most cases, Knock Off remains a 2HKO either way, the first hit doing more than half, and the second finishing off the foe anyway. It's also not uncommon for the initial Knock Off to put things into U-turn range (Jolteon comes to mind), which is even better: every occasion to score a KO while getting to cycle out Incineroar is golden.

However, this is not to downplay the amazing perk of getting rid of opposing items. It doesn't always make a big difference, but it comes in extremely clutch in certain scenarios: knocking off Leftovers from annoying defensive things such as Registeel, Gastrodon and Regigigas can be game-changing, especially when I can't afford to focus on them, while their passive recovery can undo all the chip damage I've been trying to stack, especially when boosted evasion comes into play. Speaking of evasion, it's pretty obvious, but knocking off Lax Incense and Bright Powder is also huge; even though Knock Off itself could miss those targets, it only needs to connect once to remove that piece of RNG for good. I usually make sure to use Knock Off on potential holders as soon as possible in a battle. If Fini starts repeatedly missing its Moonblasts on Latias1, things can become very dicey (as one of my replays shows), not to mention the infamous Zapdos2, or Walrein4. Knock Off also comes in handy against Porygon2, Snorlax (both sets; in one case, removing the AV makes my special attacks do some actual damage, while removing the Life Orb limits its damage output a lot, especially in combination with Intimidate), Raikou (removing the Shuca Berry or Air Balloon opens the door for Metagross to safely OHKO it later with Stomping Tantrum), etc.
But the most useful perk is not one I had even thought about initially: knocking off Chesto Berries! There's quite a lot of them in Tree, and in many cases, I'm relying on chip damage and several hits to KO them, so my efforts are nullified entirely as soon as they get to Rest. Knocking off the Chesto means that when they Rest, they become entirely passive and I'm getting free turns to either double up on the partner or setup/reposition to efficiently KO them. Common examples would be Registeel1, Swampert4, Uxie1, Entei2 and Lanturn4; all of them can set up and become extremely annoying if I let them heal for free. [Relevant replays: 1012, 1711, 442, 836, 1898]

As far as reduced Knock Off damage on Mega Stone and Z-crystal holders, I haven't found it to be much of a problem. The only truly relevant OHKO it misses is Bruxish3, which is a rare sight to begin with - I don't remember that actually coming into play. Mega Gengar was a concern, until I realized that Knock Off damage brings it into a range where the AI starts spamming Destiny Bond. I got caught by it once, and then never again. Even if it just used it, it will still spam Destiny Bond, so it's super easy to finish it off on a turn where it fails - it also means it can be left alone knowing it will just stand there and not be a threat, something that could arguably be even better than scoring a KO in some cases (I have some replays showcasing that in the Replay Vault!). Azelf2 is another one where Knock Off means missing the OHKO because of the Z-crystal, but then it's in range of U-turn, and that Azelf's damage output is initially so low that it doesn't matter much. Mega Alakazam is still a guaranteed OHKO, unless it traced Intimidate of course, in which case none of Incineroar's Dark moves would score the OHKO anyway (I try not to leave Incineroar on Alakazam in any case, Zapdos is a great switch on an obvious Focus Blast). The only upside of Darkest Lariat over Knock Off, in my opinion, is the fact it reliably checks Evasion boosters like Blissey4 and Tauros4. This is definitely a nice perk, but the advantages of Knock Off are a lot more relevant in my opinion, especially in the long run, since the higher damage and item removal are consistently helpful - almost every battle! - while Darkest Lariat is only very situationally helpful. I would only ever consider switching if the team I was running had absolutely no other answer to Evasion boosters. To be fair, I thought this team didn't have an answer at first, but then I realized it does: PP stall. It's long and tedious, and sure isn't much fun, but it only needs to be done once in a while (maybe about twice every 100 battles?), so losing the consistent advantages of Knock Off just to speed up those couple of battles isn't worth.

The last moveslot of the set has gone through considerable changes since the team's creation. I only saw the first 3 moves as essential for Incineroar to do its job, so the 4th move was initially considered filler and flexible. Instinctively, I started with additional coverage, giving Incineroar Low Kick. At first, it felt like a very good pick, and I was using the move fairly often, until I realized I was mostly using it just because it was super effective and wasn't taking into account that in most cases, Knock Off or Flare Blitz was just as much of a 2HKO as Low Kick on those targets. As a matter of fact, the only Pokémon Low Kick OHKOs are Aurorus34 and Probopass3, the latter which can be Sturdy anyway (and very much not a threat). A quick look in the Tree Honkalculator actually shows that the list of Pokémon where Low Kick is the most damaging move is pretty small, and a lot of them either take similar damage from the STABs (for example, Mega Kangaskhan, one of the more relevant targets, can just be 2HKOd with Flare Blitz instead), or are Pokémon Incineroar shouldn't stay around to face (for example, Rampardos).

Even then, Low Kick still probably remains Incineroar's best coverage option, since most other moves hit like a wet towel without STAB (such as Thunder Punch, Drain Punch or Stomping Tantrum). So after using Low Kick in all my previous attempts, I decided to try U-turn for the first time on this run since it had become a staple in other formats. However, I didn't think it would be any good in Tree, because most of its utility comes from gaining momentum when the opponents switch, which isn't something that happens much in Tree. But again, I was so wrong! It did take a me a long time to get used to U-turn, as using it well isn't necessarily straightforward. I think I added it after battle 50 and tested it for about 80 battles before concluding it wasn't getting a lot of use and that I should test more options. The next thing I tried was Protect, which is never a bad idea to bait attacks and buy free turns. But when I dropped U-turn is when I realized that it was a lot more useful than I realized, and I found myself constantly searching for the U-turn button, annoyed it wasn't there anymore. To me, this was the ultimate indicator that it was a helpful move; I never found myself searching for Low Kick after removing it, and I had Low Kick for much longer previously. Protect was used for maybe 20 battles at most before I went back to U-turn for good. Ever since, my usage of U-turn has steadily increased and improved, to the point where I feel like I'm almost using it too much without thinking these days. It's now probably on par with Knock Off for my most clicked move on Incineroar, which is definitely not something I initially anticipated!

So what makes U-turn so useful in Tree? It opens a lot more options of play; on a team that gets most KOs by doubling up on Pokémon with 2- or 3HKOs, every hit can make a difference, and getting an additional hit while also switching is the best things ever. Cycling Fake Out and Intimidate is Incineroar's role, and that means it needs to be switched out a lot, but often, I also don't want Zapdos or Metagross to tank whatever hit is coming in that slot, especially if I'm not sure of what's coming. U-turn coupled with Incineroar's low speed offers free switches, and it's common for it to also score a KO on its way out on a weakened Pokémon, something not to be underestimated (especially on fast, frail Pokémon that my backline won't outspeed, those can most easily be put in range of U-turn and then be finished off on the way out). Surprisingly, U-turn also ended up giving me actual switch momentum on resist switches from the AI in many battles (see replays 990, 1100 and 1891). U-turn has become my default go-to move when I see no obvious best move - it might seem like a gamble, but the worst case is that Incineroar is getting sacrificed, while the best case is that the AI goes for a different move than expected or I get a good roll, or something like Focus Blast misses, and I get to not only preserve Incineroar in the back, but also get the free switch I needed, and despite probably sounding ultra-specific, this scenario actually happens all the time, and the gamble usually ends in my favour! Without U-turn, this interaction means I have to keep Incineroar in anyway to not risk my backline, but then if the AI goes for another move, or misses, or Incineroar survives, I'm in the same situation again next turn because I can't afford to switch, I'm just stuck there in a bad matchup (and worst case, an opponent's Pokémon might be setting up in front of me). In addition, U-turn provides Incineroar with occasions to tank "just one more hit" while switching to eat the berry and come back at higher HP, which is something that can't be done if I have to hard switch. U-turn also allows to scout for which set the AI has before switching, which can allow for a better decision on what to send in. Finally, not to be underestimated, U-turn can be used to either break Sturdy or Sashes, for example on Golem or Rhyperior, or finish them off when they've gone down to Sturdy, something that can't be done with a hard switch and actually comes into play fairly often as well since these are common Pokémon to face. [Relevant replays: 1379, 517, 551, 682, 840, 1200]

As for the EVs, I started with Incineroar's "magic" EV spread (236 HP / 236 SpD - the rest goes wherever), which tends to be the most efficient in every level 50 format (I still don't really understand how one EV spread can give such consistent amazing results through various formats, but I can attest that it works). 36 in Atk is a good number for efficiency as well, since it hits a jump point with the Adamant nature. I had to eventually tweak the magic spread, though, and I decided to cut in SpD to add much needed speed. The only "big calc" lost from this was Specs Slowking's Scald, which was a guaranteed survival - needless to say this doesn't matter much, since Incineroar outspeeds and OHKOs with Knock Off or will otherwise U-turn out. However, as mentioned in the item discussion, Incineroar isn't so much about living "that one big hit", it gets chipped down throughout the battle, so losing bulk does matter. It took me a while before I decided to add speed, but several of the battles made it feel necessary. The biggest reason is Bisharp4, which can be troublesome if it rolls Defiant, and because of its Sash and Metal Burst, doubling into it to ensure the KO is much preferable. Breloom4 is another big reason for investing in speed; if Fini isn't free to target it, getting the big Flare Blitz before it can setup a sub makes things so much easier. Politoed234, Barbaracle34, Vaporeon34, Carracosta34 and Komala34 (because of Wood Hammer) are other relevant reasons for the investment; they can either be doubled into with Knock Off + a Fini move or Incineroar can safely U-turn in front of them, which I may prefer if they're next to a faster threat and I don't want the switch-in to tank the hit. Additionally, this ensures Incineroar outspeeds Mega Lucario in Tailwind. However, 91 speed leaves Incineroar barely below Tsareena3 (92) and Malamar4 (93), which is unfortunate because they both would be useful to outspeed: Tsareena goes down to Flare Blitz and High Jump Kick can do up to 99% to Incineroar unintimidated, while Malamar has a chance to be Contrary and fire a +1 Superpower (while U-turn has a good chance to OHKO it). Stopping at 91 was difficult, but those 24 EVs make a big difference to the bulk, while in speed, they would be spent solely for the sake of 2 Pokémon, both of which Zapdos has a safe switch-in into, and which's hits Incineroar can actually tank in a pinch - not to mention, Malamar4 is an extremely rare sight, and Tsareena isn't that common either. In SpD, those 24 EVs consistently make a difference, so I'm still comfortable with that decision. [Relevant replay: 365]

As with Fini, I've been collecting calcs that actually came into play along my streak for Incineroar, many of which cemented for me the idea that this EV spread is pretty much as good as it gets for the Tree. I roughly ordered them by importance for the team in general / how often they come into play:
Defensive:
  • 252+ SpA Rotom-Wash Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Sheer Force Nidoking Earth Power vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 152-182 (76 - 91%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252 SpA Charizard-Mega-Y Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 148-176 (74 - 88%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [nearly guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Gardevoir-Mega Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [won’t go for hyper beam turn 1]
  • -1 252 Atk Life Orb Cobalion Close Combat vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 151-179 (75.5 - 89.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252 SpA Alakazam-Mega Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 158-188 (79 - 94%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Sharpedo Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 156-186 (78 - 93%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Greninja Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 164-194 (82 - 97%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Iapapa Berry recovery [guaranteed berry]
  • 252 SpA Milotic Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 150-176 (75 - 88%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Sand Force Garchomp-Mega Stone Edge vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar in Sand: 144-170 (72 - 85%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after sandstorm damage [nearly guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Tyranitar-Mega Stone Edge vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 162-192 (81 - 96%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after sandstorm damage [guaranteed berry]
  • 252 Atk Terrakion Sacred Sword vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252 Atk Choice Band Aerodactyl Stone Edge vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 158-188 (79 - 94%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 Atk Pinsir Close Combat vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 146-172 (73 - 86%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 Atk Pinsir-Mega Superpower vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 170-200 (85 - 100%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO [in case of hyper cutter]
  • -1 252 Atk Life Orb Infernape Close Combat vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 166-198 (83 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ Atk Tsareena High Jump Kick vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252 Atk Arcanine All-Out Pummeling (190 BP) vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 140-166 (70 - 83%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Emboar Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 162-192 (81 - 96%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Rotom-Frost Thunder vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 84-99 (42 - 49.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO [same goes for other Thunder Rotoms, obviously]
  • -1 252 Atk Reckless Staraptor Double-Edge vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 84-100 (42 - 50%) -- 0.4% chance to 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Conkeldurr Superpower vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 170-204 (85 - 102%) -- 12.5% chance to OHKO - [if you must really stay in, to prevent TR for example]
  • -1 252 Atk Lopunny-Mega High Jump Kick vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • 252+ SpA Mold Breaker Ampharos-Mega Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 168-198 (84 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • +1 0 SpA Cobalion Focus Blast vs. 236 HP / 228 SpD Incineroar: 162-192 (81 - 96%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Iapapa Berry recovery
  • 252 Atk Hydreigon Earthquake vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 80-96 (40 - 48%) -- guaranteed 4HKO after Iapapa Berry recovery
  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Gogoat Earthquake vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 84-100 (42 - 50%) -- 0.4% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Wailord Hydro Pump vs. 236 HP / 148 SpD Incineroar: 152-180 (76 - 90%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [guaranteed berry]
  • -1 252+ Atk Expert Belt Lycanroc-Midnight Stone Edge vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 151-180 (75.5 - 90%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Druddigon Superpower vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 154-182 (77 - 91%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
Offensive:
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Vikavolt: 188-224 (102.1 - 121.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO [not just a blessed calc, that’s a VITAL calc; if it didn’t get the KO, I would invest more.]
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Knock Off vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Jolteon: 72-85 (51.4 - 60.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO [Z-crystal Jolteon]
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Latios: 168-200 (108.3 - 129%) -- guaranteed OHKO [specs Thunder]
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Oranguru: 168-200 (101.8 - 121.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 0 HP / 252 Def Trevenant: 164-194 (102.5 - 121.2%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 36+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 0 HP / 252 Def Raikou: 84-99 (50.9 - 60%) -- guaranteed 2HKO


@ Misty Seed

Modest | Pressure
IVs: 31/0/30/31/31/31 [HP Ice] (Hyper trained to 31/0/31/31/31/31)
EVs: 188 HP / 108 Def / 140 SpAtk / 28 SpDef / 44 Spe
Tailwind / Thunderbolt / Hidden Power Ice / Roost


Zapdos was originally at the forefront of the team, but its relegation to the backline only had beneficial effects overall. Not only have I gained more flexibility as to when to activate the Misty Seed, but this allows me to take full advantage of the synergy it has with Incineroar. While both are weak to Rock, Zapdos can safely switch in on the the many Fighting moves coming into that slot and offers an incredibly valuable immunity to Ground. Meanwhile, pesky Ice-types are handled with ease by the frontline (and Metagross as well), while Metagross is the designated Rock-type switch-in (though sometimes not knowing whether a Fighting or Rock move will go into that slot can admittedly be awkward). The Misty Seed boost, along with a decent amount of HP investment ended up making Zapdos my designated switch-in as a special tank, particularly to tank Electric moves (example: 252 SpA Raikou Thunder vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 61-73 (32.2 - 38.6%)) and Water moves in Rain (the Fini slot might be safe, but the other slot hates facing strong Water moves). Thanks to hefty investment, Zapdos is also no slouch on the physical side, especially when factoring in Incineroar's Intimidate (252 Atk Gallade-Mega Rock Slide vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 78-92 (41.2 - 48.6%) - without Intimidate! It becomes a 4HKO with Intimidate).

Such tankiness means Zapdos effectively plays the role of a punching bag a lot of the time, and spends most of its time Roosting all that damage away, which makes it easy to forget that this Zapdos is actually Modest with a lot of SpA investment. It makes sure to constantly remind me with the impressive damage it dishes out; Thunderbolt hits really hard (for reference, the damage output is similar to a 252 SpAtk Mega Manectric, and higher than 252 SpAtk Raikou!). Along with Metagross' Thunder Punch, this is my best way of offensively dealing with Water types; Fini does wall a lot of them, but when threatened by opposing Electric types, it may not always have the leisure of slowly chipping them away. More generally, it's a powerful neutral hit, which 2HKOs a wide variety of targets and allows me to double up into stuff for a KO most of the time.

But Zapdos' main reason to be on this team is speed control: Tailwind gives Zapdos the team a much needed speed advantage which allows it to go into its offensive mode and start sweeping. I found that all 3 of its possible partners have really good offensive synergy with Zapdos, and even though positioning myself for a sweep can take a while, once it gets going, it's easy to clean up teams. A backline Tailwind means that in several games, Tailwind won't be used; it's one option among others, but definitely a necessary one when the rest of the team is this slow. Having such a bulky team overall means it can handle Trick Room without much harm, all the while also being able to endure some bruises when it waits for Tailwind to get going offensively. [Relevant replays: 1112, 1521, 1581, 1658]

Most commonly, however, Zapdos sets up Tailwind to then Roosts most of the damage away. In fact, I'm pretty sure Roost is my most used move on Zapdos by a pretty large margin, probably because of Zapdos' punching bag role, and the fact I tend to prioritize keeping it healthy over anything else. After it has tanked a few hits and sits at low HP, Zapdos becomes a really good lure for the opponent's attacks, especially super effective ones (Rock and Ice), which's damage gets severely mitigated by the Roost. This results in Zapdos being able to draw all the attention away for several turns while continually Roosting, and gives valuable free turns to whatever partner it's next to. The best part? Misty Terrain! Thanks to Roost, Zapdos won't get frozen by all the Ice moves coming its way. The AI will jump on the occasion to use status moves (Toxic, Yawn, Spore/Sing...) on the one Flying type, and Roost makes sure to shut that down - it's especially fun when you get yawned and simply Roost next turn to prevent sleep! Even though this works out in many scenarios, there are certainly a few awkward cases where Zapdos cannot take Misty Terrain's benefit because it's already at full HP so Roost will fail, but overall, it comes in handy often enough to make a difference. Also worth mentioning that Zapdos will inevitably have to tank Ice moves and get frozen while floating above Misty Terrain, truly a tragic situation! Its bulk is likely to give it a few attempts at thawing (or, when under no pressure, Fini can help out and thaw it with Scald), but generally it means Zapdos will have to be sacrificed - thankfully, even though it happened on several occasions, it never mattered too much so far.
In long battles of attrition with very tanky opponents, Roost becomes one of the most valuable assets on the team, and saved the streak on several occasions (showcased in some of the replays). It's also worth mentioning Pressure, which can come in clutch against low PP moves (such as Eruption and Focus Blast), allowing Zapdos to effectively PP stall some opponents (most notably, Zapdos2 has a good chance to be 1v1d by my Zapdos thanks to Pressure and Roost - it might otherwise be very tough to deal with when enough bad luck strikes!). [Relevant replays: 1044, 486, 839, 1289, 1485, 1797]

Hidden Power Ice might appear like a weak filler, but it actually gets used a lot. It might be a pretty weak attack, but it gets the 2HKO on most of the Grass types that threaten Fini (most importantly Tangrowth and Leafeon) and does a very reasonable amount of damage to Ground types that otherwise wall it, most importantly scoring a 2HKO on Nidoking, one of the biggest threats to the team. It also gets the OHKO on some relevant targets like Mega Sceptile, Noivern, Salamence and Flygon, though it tends to be most effective when doubling up on targets with either +1 Fini or Metagross by its side. [Relevant replay: 1373]

Defensive:
  • 252 SpA Choice Specs Thundurus Thunderbolt vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 79-94 (41.7 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 SpA Wishiwashi Ice Beam vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 78-92 (41.2 - 48.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Analytic Magnezone Thunderbolt vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 78-93 (41.2 - 49.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Vikavolt Thunder vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 79-94 (41.7 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Tyranitar-Mega Stone Edge vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 152-180 (80.4 - 95.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ Atk Regirock Stone Edge vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 158-188 (83.5 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Rhyperior Rock Slide vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 74-90 (39.1 - 47.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Entei Stone Edge vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 78-94 (41.2 - 49.7%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ Atk Life Orb Entei Stone Edge vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 151-179 (79.8 - 94.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Dragonite Stone Edge vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 130-154 (68.7 - 81.4%)
  • 252+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos in Sun: 157-186 (83 - 98.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Solar Power Houndoom-Mega Fire Blast vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos in Sun: 157-186 (83 - 98.4%) -- guaranteed 2HK
  • 252 SpA Pelipper Hydro Pump vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos in Rain: 81-96 (42.8 - 50.7%) -- 2.7% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tentacruel Hydro Pump vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos in Rain: 81-96 (42.8 - 50.7%) -- 2.7% chance to 2HKO
  • 252+ Atk Sheer Force Nidoqueen Poison Jab vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 78-93 (41.2 - 49.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Adaptability Beedrill-Mega Poison Jab vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 76-90 (40.2 - 47.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 Atk Protean Greninja Rock Slide vs. 188 HP / 108 Def Zapdos: 78-92 (41.2 - 48.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 SpA Latios Draco Meteor vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 78-93 (41.2 - 49.2%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Rotom-Heat Overheat vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 75-88 (39.6 - 46.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 168+ SpA Kingdra Hydro Pump vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos in Rain: 84-99 (44.4 - 52.3%) -- 18% chance to 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Froslass Blizzard vs. +1 188 HP / 28 SpD Zapdos: 72-86 (38 - 45.5%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
Offensive:
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Hidden Power Ice vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Landorus: 164-196 (100 - 119.5%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Hidden Power Ice vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Sceptile-Mega: 156-188 (107.5 - 129.6%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Thunderbolt vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Moltres: 174-206 (105.4 - 124.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Porygon-Z: 96-114 (50 - 59.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Thunderbolt vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Zapdos: 84-99 (50.9 - 60%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 252 SpD Milotic: 104-126 (51.4 - 62.3%) -- 97.3% chance to 2HKO after Leftovers recovery
  • 140+ SpA Zapdos Thunderbolt vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Aggron-Mega: 91-108 (51.4 - 61%) -- guaranteed 2HKO


@ Metagrossite

Jolly | Clear Body -> Tough Claws
IVs: 31/31/31/31/31/31
EVs: 76 HP / 172 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpDef / 252 Spe
Iron Head / Stomping Tantrum / Thunder Punch / Protect


As mentioned in more detail in the team history below, Metagross' presence on the team has been questioned a few times. Initially a Mega Gardevoir, the switch to Metagross was mostly made because not having a Rock switch-in felt shaky on the previous runs, but my first attempts with Mega Metagross proved less successful than those with Mega Gardevoir, and I almost gave up on it. On paper, it completes the team perfectly: a Poison immunity and Steel+Grass resistance to help out Fini, a Fairy resistance which the team otherwise lacked, and most importantly, a Rock resistance, much needed with 2 weaknesses. It also provides 2 things the team could otherwise lack: immediate power and speed. So why did it not seem to work well in practice?

The main reason is that I didn't know how to use it properly in Tree. I was used to having Meta Metagross be a strong part of my defensive backbone in VGC, and that's how I used it, switching it in regularly to tank hits, and the result was that it always went down way too quickly. I also kept using it to check the Tree's Psychic types, only to constantly be caught by surprise by their Shadow Balls (why does EVERYTHING have Shadow Ball in Tree?!?) - and somehow, it felt like Shadow Ball always got that annoying SpDef drop, putting Mega Metagross in awkward spots.
So when I started this run, I swore this was the last chance I was giving to Metagross, but I also swore to try playing it differently and treat it like a glass cannon, as counterintuitive as this felt for me. No switching in on neutral hits, no "surely Metagross is safe here" without looking up sets, etc. Despite its good defensive stats, I used it as though it had Pheromosa's defensive stats. That mental exercise gave great results in practice, and I finally felt like Metagross contributed to the team as it was supposed to, offensively at least. I believe the addition of U-turn on Incineroar to switch it in safely also played a very big part in finding success with it. Now that I've gained a lot more experience using it, I dropped the act and don't treat it like a glass cannon anymore; I learned to assess the right conditions to play it defensively, and especially to use its amazing bait potential in matchups that seem bad for it (for example, against Sun teams). Incineroar tends to have incredible switch synergy: while Fini boosts or scores KOs on the side, it's not uncommon to just cycle between Incineroar and Metagross on the side and take barely any damage, getting multiple Intimidates as I go, rendering one of the opponent's slots basically useless. It's probably obvious with the fact the team has reached 2000, but I now have absolutely no doubts anymore about Metagross' place and importance on the team.

As for the moveset, Iron Head is the obvious mandatory, reliable STAB, which deals excellent amounts of damage on neutral targets (generally 2HKOs), not to mention all the flinches it scores; I never rely on them, obviously, but they make things easier for the team a lot of the time (it's also at least one "pray to RNG" tool if things go really wrong, 30% are decent odds in a pinch). Stomping Tantrum is the ideal compliment to Iron Head, Steel + Ground providing near-perfect neutral coverage. Thanks to Tough Claws, it deals about the same damage as a single-target Earthquake would. Even though I firmly believe that move is a must for all Mega Metagross sets, it's especially essential for this team, as it struggles to offensively deal with Electric types otherwise. Zapdos is my go-to defensive check, but Zapdos vs. Electric-type is usually an awkward stalemate, and the way I end up dealing with them is through the combination of Tailwind and Stomping Tantrum (well, Incineroar often helps out too). Importantly, ST is also super effective against Fire-types, which Metagross often has to get out of the way first. While Fini and Incineroar can usually handle these, it can be difficult because of the combinations on the field. Last but not least, Stomping Tantrum plays a crucial role in KOing the Poison types that the rest of the team has trouble handling, namely Toxicroak and Nidoking/queen. I wouldn't be surprised if Stomping Tantrum was actually my most used attack on Metagross!

The coverage is rounded out by Thunder Punch, which I would have found to be an odd choice before I tried it out. That slot is usually pretty flexible on Metagross, and my first runs all had Ice Punch instead, as did this one until about battle 70 I think. I decided to test Thunder Punch mostly because I noticed I often found myself frustrated while walled by Water types. Rain is one of the more dangerous matchups for this team, and Zapdos may not be able to hang around for as long as I'd like it to (rain-boosted double-targets into it wear it down, and it also needs to set Tailwind for the team a lot of the time before attacking). Rotom-Wash, Milotic, Slowking, Suicune and Pelipper were all major annoyances, not to mention Mega Slowbro (sure, Thunder Punch doesn't do that much to it, but it's a guaranteed 3HKO, which is a lot better than being completely walled). I didn't anticipate how crucial Thunder Punch would end up being in dealing with one of the team's biggest enemies, however: Mega Charizard Y. I never thought Metagross would end up being my dedicated answer to it, but when I saw that Thunder Punch was a near-guaranteed OHKO, it completely changed the way I approached the matchup; for a guaranteed OHKO, all I need is a tiny bit of damage, usually in the form of Fake Out or even U-turn. U-turning into Metagross for a safe switch becomes a perfect way to completely neuter a Pokémon that I thought would eventually run through my team. Obviously, this means it can also deal with Moltres the same way, which could otherwise definitely cause problems as well. Since the team really has no trouble dealing with Ground types, I never once looked back at Ice Punch wishing I still had it (it's not like Ground types wall Metagross anyway, Iron Head does a lot to most of them); for this team, Thunder Punch was exactly the answer it needed to round out everything. [Relevant replays: 107, 586, 865]

Even though it's fairly straightforward, it's worth mentioning how important Protect is on Metagross in particular. It's firstly valuable because two of the other team members don't have it, and for a team that relies on switching and repositioning a lot, it's an essential tool. But most of all, Metagross is the team's prime lure, a bit like Pelipper was on my rain team. It may be because its defensive stats are lower than the rest of the team, but the AI has a strong preference in targeting Metagross, and as mentioned previously, an annoying wide array of Pokémon have super effective coverage for it in Tree, which means I can often reliably buy free turns with a simple Protect, only to then switch out into a resist, or finish off a foe the partner just weakened. Such a pattern of play is the bread and butter of Mega Metagross on this team. [Relevant replays: 1001, 1700]

The EV spread is a lot more straightforward than it might appear. Maximum speed is essential to speed tie with other base 110s (it comes into play fairly often, thanks Eon Twins and Archeops!), and given its role as a cleaner/instant damage dealer, the Attack investment is important. The bulk/offence split stems from a specific dilemma: with max speed as a given, Mega Metagross can have a guaranteed survival on a Mega Manectric Overheat (relevant because it outspeeds Metagross, and Stomping Tantrum is my best offensive tool against it), or have a guaranteed OHKO on banded Blaziken with Stomping Tantrum, which can be important because of a potential speed boost (a calc that also came into play more than once, see 493 for example), but it can't have both. After much deliberation, I figured there was no perfect solution and decided to balance it out to a spread where each of those calcs has the best possible odds (94% of going my way for both). The deal breaker for keeping this precise bulk ended up being Entei3's Scarf Eruption, which is a guaranteed survival, and wouldn't be if I guaranteed my OHKO on Blaziken. Along the way, the spread has shown useful for a lot of different things though, so I'm really happy with it; here are some important calcs that came into play:

Offensive:
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Thunder Punch vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Charizard-Mega-Y: 142-168 (92.8 - 109.8%) -- 56.3% chance to OHKO [Fake Out is min 15%]
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Stomping Tantrum vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Electivire: 158-188 (86.8 - 103.2%) -- 25% chance to OHKO [guaranteed OHKO with prior Fake Out: 36+ Atk Incineroar Fake Out vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Electivire: 28-33 (15.3 - 18.1%)]
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Thunder Punch vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Politoed: 146-172 (88.4 - 104.2%) -- 25% chance to OHKO [guaranteed OHKO with prior Fake Out: 36+ Atk Incineroar Fake Out vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Politoed: 25-30 (15.1 - 18.1%)]
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Stomping Tantrum vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Flareon: 172-204 (100 - 118.6%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Thunder Punch vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Pelipper: 168-200 (100.5 - 119.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Stomping Tantrum vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Blaziken: 154-182 (99.3 - 117.4%) -- 93.8% chance to OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Thunder Punch vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Tornadus: 154-182 (100 - 118.1%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Regice: 186-218 (99.4 - 116.5%) -- 87.5% chance to OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Iron Head vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Mamoswine: 218-260 (100.4 - 119.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Iron Head vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Zoroark: 136-162 (100.7 - 120%) -- guaranteed OHKO
  • 172 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Iron Head vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Kangaskhan-Mega: 93-109 (51.6 - 60.5%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
Defensive:
  • 252 SpA Manectric-Mega Overheat vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 140-166 (84.8 - 100.6%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • 252 SpA Entei Eruption (150 BP) vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 138-164 (83.6 - 99.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252 Atk Choice Band Blaziken Flare Blitz vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 134-162 (81.2 - 98.1%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252 Atk Adaptability Lucario-Mega Close Combat vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 70-84 (42.4 - 50.9%) -- 2% chance to 2HKO
  • 252 SpA Moltres Flamethrower vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 138-164 (83.6 - 99.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252 Atk Sheer Force Darmanitan Flare Blitz vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 134-158 (81.2 - 95.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ SpA Sheer Force Nidoqueen Earth Power vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 140-168 (84.8 - 101.8%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Swampert-Mega Waterfall vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross in Rain: 67-81 (40.6 - 49%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Choice Band Dragonite Earthquake vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 68-80 (41.2 - 48.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ Atk Latios-Mega Earthquake vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 68-80 (41.2 - 48.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252+ SpA Tentacruel Hydro Pump vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 69-82 (41.8 - 49.6%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 Atk Haxorus Earthquake vs. 76 HP / 4 Def Metagross-Mega: 68-80 (41.2 - 48.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
  • 252 SpA Oranguru Shadow Ball vs. 76 HP / 4 SpD Metagross-Mega: 68-80 (41.2 - 48.4%) -- guaranteed 3HKO
 
Last edited:

Eisenherz

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A TRIBUTE TO PERSEVERANCE

The team came together very slowly. After my first of couple of attempts, I came very close to not touching it again - not because I didn't think it could do well, but because I found it painful to climb the Tree with a team that made every battle last so long. This also meant losses hurt that much more, since losing a 200+ streak meant a lot of "wasted" time. However, not unlike my MimiLax team, perseverance is the main reason I was able to end up with something truly solid. Here's a more detailed look into the teambuilding process of the team!

It all started in 2017, a few months before USUM's release. Tales had been told that Misty Seed Zapdos + Tapu Fini had quickly grown as one of the most solid cores in DOU, and it was expected to dominate VGC 2018 (while domination would be overselling it, it certainly did perform extremely well during that season indeed). Curious as to why no one seemed to have picked up on that excellent synergy in Battle Tree, I decided to try it out for myself, but quit on it pretty quickly after realizing the pace of the battles was pretty slow and involved a ton of switching around. Overall, it definitely felt powerful, but other, more exciting ideas came to mind and I just shelved this one.

?

Fast forward to February 2018, a moment that changed Doubles (probably) forever in Pokémon: the release of Intimidate Incineroar. In tournaments, one specific core quickly picked up a ton of momentum in the following couple of months: Incineroar + Mega Gardevoir. Once again, after watching it in action for a while, I thought it would be interesting to try it out in the Battle Tree and evaluate its potential. I was very excited to try and make Mega Gardevoir work, but I will admit I had mixed feelings about using Incineroar, which I really didn't like as a Pokémon (for design reasons). Wondering what I should pair it with, I knew Tailwind would be necessary (despite having Trick Room as an option with Gardevoir, I wanted the team's main "mode" to be using Tailwind or no speed control). Ultimately, I lazily fused the 2 cores... good + good = really good, right? That's not really how it works, but it paved the path for greater things.



After roughly 50 battles, I realized that Incineroar would be more beneficial at the front; Fake Out on turn 1 would help Fini set up a Calm Mind more easily, and most importantly, Zapdos wouldn't feel "locked" on the field because of the Misty Seed boost; switching out wastes it, so the less it has to be done, the better.



This squad achieved my first promising true streak, getting close to 200 and only losing to several misplays (and oddities - for example, the last KO was scored by Shuckle with Gyro Ball into Gardevoir, after it used Power Trick, lol). The loss stung a bit since it's such a time-consuming team to use, but maneuvering it felt really solid overall, and I was very optimistic about getting a better run eventually. Wondering what changes I should make for my next attempt, I thought having two Fairies was probably not necessary, and that I could probably create better synergy with more diverse typings. I decided on replacing Mega Gardevoir (getting rid of Fini was out of the question) with Meta Metagross, which provided me with a safe Poison switch-in, and more importantly, a Rock resist. The Incineroar-Zapdos duo had really good synergy except for that one shared weakness, and Rock moves were definitely a big problem for me, since Gardevoir doesn't want to tank a Stone Edge, even at -1 (it usually crits anyway...).



The team looked really solid on paper, but using it was a different story. My first attempt failed at 137 when I failed to play around Rotom-Mow, Vikavolt and (regular) Medicham. That loss was pretty demoralizing, since I had actually done worse with Metagross than Gardevoir... I decided to give it one more shot, lost before 90, and was told that Mega Metagross was probably not a good call for the team, or for Tree in general. This made me shelf the team once more, thinking I needed to replace Metagross and potentially go back to Gardevoir, or simply never touch this team again and mark it as a failed attempt. That's pretty crazy to think about in hindsight! Obviously, I'm now incredibly happy to have persevered and stuck to my gut that the Fini-Incin-Zapdos core was one of the most solid, and that I simply sucked at using it properly. This was in April 2018, and I didn't use the team again before Fall.

I don't remember why I picked it back up, I may have attempted one too many gimmicky teams that failed, and felt the need for something more solid and serious. I did have the rain streak on the side at the time, but was pretty unmotivated to play that team. In any case, I didn't expect to get very high since it failed early previously, but I wanted to get a feel for it again and try to get new ideas for a good Pokémon in the Mega slot. I actually flipped a coin to decide whether I would go with Metagross or Gardevoir at first, and ended up with Metagross again. However, that time, it clicked.

Several things could explain why this new run found success; for one, I prepared the team a lot more carefully for the Tree, redoing all the generic EV spreads I had been using thus far, and also switching Incineroar's item from an Assaut Vest to the 50% Berry. The fact I had been playing hundreds of hours of Doubles in several formats through the previous months certainly helped as well, I gained experience and most certainly played better as a result. I also finally realized I had been using Mega Metagross poorly (as previously mentioned in the "Tribute to Mega Metagross"), and started treating it like a "frail" Pokémon; it technically isn't, but it's kind of how it needs to be played in Tree.

More adjustments were made along the way, until everything felt perfectly balanced. Now, every set of 4 EVs has a reason to be, every single move is instrumental to the team's success, every Pokémon leans on the other three to thrive; the whole has become more than the sum of its parts, yet every part is crucial to the whole.

A TRIBUTE TO FLEXIBILITY

If I had to describe the team and how it plays in one word, it would be flexibility. This is true to a point where the team doesn't really have an initial plan of action; I take things as they come and adapt to the circumstances depending on what's in front of me. Until I figure out what my winning condition of a particular battle is, I make resist switches, try to score a quick KO when possible, and generally maneuver my way around while preserving all 4 team members (this is important!). Then, once the opposing backline is revealed, I plan around my winning condition and allow 1 or 2 of my members to be sacrificed if necessary to get into a "checkmate" position. That might seem like rudimentary Pokémon, but in Tree, very few teams need to be operated this way by default. It's probably the most "PvP-like" experience one can get in Tree, and probably why I ended up liking it so much. Clearly, the AI plays differently than a human would, but the plays you need to make are a lot more similar to those I would do in PvP than any other team I used in the past. This also makes the team pretty exhausting to play: it requires analyzing every situation, every turn and position for what it is, and not relying on pre-fabricated patterns of play. This asks for a lot more concentration and dedication than any other team I ran; even after 2250 battles I still don't have an "autopilot" mode, because I'm still constantly facing new challenges, new puzzles. On the other hand, all of this makes the grind way more engaging and rewarding than with any other team, and that's probably why my interest has only increased over time! That's also why I'm in such awe that through so many different scenarios and challenges, the team has managed to come out on top every time.

This leads me to share a few thoughts this has created about playing the Tree in general. Previously, it was my understanding that this kind of team and play style was not viable in Tree for a long streak. I've been told by several people that in battle facilities, "speed is king", and a slow, bulky team will eventually go down to crits, status hax, or simply not having the resources to tank the things it needs to. Granted, I do have Tailwind, and Mega Metagross is pretty fast, but both of these features are tools among so many others that the team has in its toolbox, and in several of the games, they don't come into play. The center of the team, the backbone, is truly Tapu Fini and Incineroar, they enable and often even carry the rest. I'm not questioning the traditional approach for battle facilities doubles, scoring KOs quickly, "strike before they strike", which has proven its worth, but I think these pre-conceptions can also limit one's view and lead to rejecting promising things before they're even attempted. In this case, "bulk is king", and while I think building a successful team of this type is a lot more difficult, it's clearly possible. It's a balancing act, where EV investments matter a lot, as does every moveslot; the drastic difference small changes such as U-turn and Thunder Punch made shows how every feature of the team has to come together as a whole harmoniously for it to stand the test of so many battles.

I remember a while back, turskain and me were discussing our teams on the Tree Discord server; at the time, I think he was running a version of Mahler's Exit, while I was probably using rain, and we both remarked how an important feature of good teams seemed to be how many "second chances" they gave; if something goes wrong, for example a critical hit, a misclick, or a wrongly predicted move from the AI; how likely is the team to be able to readjust, how many second chances will it give you at winning anyway? At the time, I felt like my rain team was pretty good because it gave me second chances when I needed them. This is what I've come to call "flexibility", a feature that a majority of my Tree teams admittedly lack. However, ZapFini is the most flexible team I ever ran, and that's precisely why I feel like it carried me rather than me carrying it. There are several paths to victory in almost every game, and not picking the optimal one is rarely punished. I've done so many misplays (from which I learned!), but found my way to victory anyway, because the team is so damn resilient. Most of all, that's why I love this team.

A TRIBUTE TO OBSTACLES

"What doesn't kill you[r streak] makes you stronger"; while the team's flexibility carried me through, many threats tested its limits along the way, and taught me valuable lessons on how I should handle them. I replayed through a good dozen of battle videos several times to figure out the best way to handle tough combinations of threats. But it's pretty difficult to write a threat guide, because most threats are only problematic when paired with certain other Pokémon that force out my main answer and create dilemmas. Nonetheless, I think it's still worthwhile and helpful to list potential threats and how they're usually handled. I'll mostly focus on the scenario where they're leads, because how to handle them coming from the backline is way too circumstantial depending on what's on the field at the moment, current HP, boosts, etc. I hope this still gives a general idea about some matchups.

-tier: Emergency! Immediate attention required! These Pokémon need to be removed from the field as soon as possible!
- Nidoking3: While Zapdos is a good check, Nidoking can deal massive damage to whatever is on the other side of the field if it rolls Sheer Force, and pivoting around it can be a headache. It would be a lot more manageable if both sets didn't have Protect. It uses Protect in a completely unpredictable fashion (unless it's next to a spread move user), and the worst part is that if I double it up on turn 1 with Fake Out and Scald and it Protects, I still don't know which of set 3 or 4 it is because they both carry it, and I just lost a turn entirely. Yet, I can't afford to just leave it be in case it Protects, because for all I know, it might spend the next 3 turns attacking only to randomly Protect on the 4th - you know, obviously, the one where I decide to actually attack it! It even got a triple-protect once! I tend to remain very calm in front of all hax when I play Tree; confusion self-hits, freezes, full paralysis, crits, flinches... it's all good and expected. But one thing really gets to me, and that's successful double-protects. They infuriate me, it's something I can't afford to plan around because I'm potentially giving the threat a free turn and then another potential Protect after if I attempt to play around it. I have vivid memories of wanting to throw my DS while facing Nidoking. Nidoking4 can also be a threat, but thanks to Intimidate, it tends to be a lot more manageable. [Relevant replay: 1253]
- Nidoqueen3: Similar to Nidoking, but nowhere near as bad because it doesn't have Protect, so I can properly plan around it, and also because Tapu Fini outspeeds it. On the flip side, unlike Nidoking, it's not OHKOd by Fake Out + Scald, so it tends to require more resources/time to deal with it, and because nothing on my team walls it, I have to focus on it quickly.
- Thundurus234: Not knowing which set it is initially is probably the worst part about facing Thundurus. I usually have to expect the worst and assume it's Thundurus2 (Specs). Thankfully, Thundurus2 has a guaranteed OHKO on Tapu Fini with Thunderbolt, and not on Incineroar with Focus Blast, so it almost always goes for Thunderbolt, which means I'm safe to Protect + Knock Off immediately and deal big damage while getting rid of the Specs. If I have also been able to afford to Fake Out + Moonblast on the previous turn, that's Thundurus dealt with, but in most cases (hi Kikujiro!), I can't just leave Fini in front of its partner either. Zapdos was re-EVd precisely to tank 2 Specs Thunderbolts, which is helpful but still doesn't make it a reliable counter (any additional damage before I can set up Tailwind, and all Zapdos bought was a couple of turns of attention). Thundurus3 is equally threatening if it rolls Defiant since it can 2HKO Zapdos, but Incineroar tends to help out a lot, and Wild Charge recoil quickly takes its toll too - it also has a tendency to end up U-turning once Fini is gone from the field. Thundurus4 is scary because of Taunt, which I often forget about. Most teams with Thundurus are teams against which I want to set Tailwind up at some point, and being prevented that is a big hassle, not to mention this forces Zapdos to not Roost for a few turns, which could be deadly. Until I know what Thundurus set I'm facing, how to handle it is not always clear, and that's what makes it so scary. It's also much scarier to face in the late game than as a lead, because my team might have taken prior damage, making Thundurus2 all the more threatening.
- Electivire34: aka. the one Electric-type where Zapdos is a bad check (still my only Wild Charge switch-in if Incineroar is already on the field, though). Both sets carry Ice Punch and deal massive damage, especially when unintimidated. Meanwhile, Zapdos can only HP Ice in return, which clearly doesn't do much. While Incineroar is a great answer to Electivire3 (EQ at -1 is a 4HKO), as long as I don't know the set, Incineroar is threatened by Electivire4's Cross Chop, which OHKOs with a crit. I don't have any safe answers against it, and if it comes in late game, I often have to let it score a KO or deal massive damage just to get in the right position. Thankfully, its speed means everyone barring Incineroar outspeeds, and I only need a bit of prior damage for Stomping Tantrum to have a guaranteed KO (which Electivire4 will gracefully hand me himself thanks to his Life Orb).
- Medicham34: Medicham3 ended one of my early attempts with this team; as valuable as Intimidate is, Incineroar can't afford to stay in on a High Jump Kick. That set also has Ice Punch, which is a roll to 2HKO Zapdos at -1 and can obviously freeze. It needs to be Moonblasted as soon as possible (but it's also possible that it will Zen Headbutt Fini and get flinches). The Mega set is just as bad, since it can get crit Psycho Cuts on Fini (this does up to 96% to Fini!!), while Fake Out and Detect can be a huge source of frustration. A bit like Nidoking, it needs to be targeted with absolute priority, so if it starts wasting turns by going for Detect, or worse, double-Detects (it happens!!), it can be really bad.
- Vikavolt34: Ideally, I just OHKO it immediately with Flare Blitz. But if it's not possible for a reason or another and I have to start playing around its attacks, it's a huge threat. While Zapdos can tank its hits reasonably well, it can't do much in return; as a matter of fact, nobody on the team can, so I either have to rely on Incineroar or slowly chip it down. But slowly chipping it down isn't practical when it can nuke Fini with Gigavolt Havoc (and I have to respect the potential Tectonic Rage as well with Incineroar and Metagross, even though it doesn't OHKO). I haven't struggled too much with it in practice, but in theory, I definitely could.
- Swampert3 (Mega): As long as I can keep its damage down to reasonable levels with Intimidate, Tapu Fini is a really great check. However, it's usually found on Rain teams, and the fact I need several hits to KO it can be very troublesome for Fini's partner. The combination of Mega Swampert in rain and something like Kingdra, Carracosta or Politoed can quickly wear down Zapdos before it can even Tailwind or score a KO, and Fini is likely to have its hands full trying to first setup a Calm Mind, then work its way through the opposing team. Not to mention potential Rock Slide flinches, though in rain, it tends to prefer using Waterfall into Zapdos anyway (well, this can flinch too!). Incineroar and Metagross both very clearly don't want to take it on, so a ton of pressure is on Fini in these matchups. Swampert4 can be troublesome too, but this is a case where Knocking Off the Chesto Berry goes a very long way. [Relevant replay: 1385]
- Glalie3: In theory, just one Protect into a Moody evasion or speed boost, into a Substitute and more evasion, etc. and there's basically nothing I can do. I can't even Pressure stall it because Frost Breath crits Zapdos every time for about 50% (or more with Moody SpA boosts). That involves a lot of bad luck, but it's possible, so it needs to be taken off the field as soon as possible.

-tier: Pokémon that exert a lot of pressure on the team and that cannot be left unchecked.
- Drapion34: It's usually manageable, but if it happens to roll Sniper and starts to crit everything left and right, it's a gigantic threat. It OHKOs Fini with Cross Poison, can OHKO Mega Metagross with Night Slash, 2HKOs Incineroar with Earthquake and Cross Poison and also 2HKOs Zapdos with either STAB. To top it off, Drapion3 outspeeds Tapu Fini and Zapdos, so as long as the crits keep coming, it can run through the entire team in very little time if left unchecked. Stomping Tantrum and Iron Head are both 2HKOs, so unless it has prior damage that puts it in ST range, it can be more optimal to use Iron Head for the flinch chance. Fake Out is your friend in order to safely deal with it. [Relevant replay: 1671]
- Archeops34: Much like Nidoking, it can't be ignored, because it *could* be banded Head Smash - Fake Out + Scald turn 1 is a must. But it might also be Archeops4 and Protect, which leads to a frustrating turn 1. In any case, it should be targeted as soon as possible due to its absurd damage output.
- Rampardos34: Very similar to Archeops since Rampardos3 (Scarf) requires an immediate Fake Out + Scald, yet it could be Rampardos4 and Protect for optimal annoyance. Thankfully, Rampardos4 is outsped by the entire team, so as long as it's not left chilling on the field, it should be fine. [Relevant replay: 1723]
- Salazzle34: I have yet to see it skip Fake Out against this team, so I make sure to double target it instantly so that I break the sash / straight up OHKO it with Scald if it's Z-move while my other Pokémon gets flinched. Its double-STAB combination is really tricky to play around for my team and the Z-move can do massive damage to Zapdos, but Metagross can be used as an effective bait for a turn if need be. [Relevant replay: 1792]
- Zapdos2: A classic streak-killer! I've had a couple of annoying encounters against it, but usually I can deal with it quickly enough before it becomes a problem. The #1 priority is always to use Knock Off and get rid of that Bright Powder; as long as it doesn't start going for Double Team (sometimes it's instant, but usually it waits several turns before going for it), playing around it becomes a lot safer, especially knowing it prioritizes Roost when under 50%. If I need to ignore it and it starts boosting evasion, the backup plan becomes... my own Zapdos! It does have Ancient Power, but this is very quickly PP stalled thanks to Pressure (there's a chance it already used a couple already on Incineroar too), after which there are only 5 Charge Beams to stall out. With the Misty Seed boost, Zapdos can Roost off the damage through a bunch of Charge Beam boosts, though if Zapdos was to get several Ancient Power boosts and every Charge Beam boost, it could definitely be problematic. +6 Charge Beam does 50-60% to Zapdos with Misty Seed and doesn't OHKO any of the other team members either (Tapu Fini can outspeed and use Calm Mind just once to be guaranteed to live +6 Charge Beam). It becomes more of a problem if I lose Zapdos or also take damage from Zapdos2's partners, but generally it's manageable. [Relevant replay: 613, 1044]
- Gyarados34: Both sets are best dealt with by Fini, but several hits are required for the KO. I usually try to wear it down quickly with the help of Fake Out, because if it starts to setup Dragon Dances, it can be a problem. Zapdos is the obvious initial switch-in, but a Stone Edge crit from the Mega set or an Ice Fang flinch/freeze from the other can really hurt, and prevent Tailwind. Because of the Wacan Berry, Thunderbolt is not a guaranteed OHKO on set 3, so targeting it early with Fini and Fake Out is really essential. [Relevant replay: 1828]
- Toxicroak34: Its STAB combination deals with my frontline extremely well, and yet in case of set 3, I need to break the Sash as soon as possible to ensure Stomping Tantrum will always revenge. Set 4 can however Cross Chop crit Incineroar for the OHKO, so while U-turn is usually my favourite way of breaking these sashes, as long as I don't know the set, this is unsafe; Fake Out whenever possible. On its own, it's definitely manageable, but paired with, for example, Drapion, this can become really problematic.
- Rotom-Wash34: Rotom's STAB combination puts a ton of pressure on my entire team; it doesn't OHKO anything, but I also can't OHKO it. Zapdos is the best answer, but Thunderbolt fails to 2HKO the Sitrus Berry variant (barring a lucky <50% roll into a >50% roll, which does happen sometimes lol). If it happens to be in Rain, it's all the more threatening, since it can even 2HKO Zapdos with Hydro Pump. Definitely need to get it off the field as quickly as possible. Adding Thunder Punch on Metagross did improve my matchup against it by a ton, since it was previously fully walled. [Relevant replays: 647, 241, 1844]
- Greninja34: If possible, Fake Out + Moonblast immediately and get it out of the way. Damage-wise, Greninja4 is the real threat, but it's thankfully outsped and OHKOd by Mega Metagross (again, thank you Thunder Punch!). This however requires a free switch, which might come at the cost of Incineroar taking a Hydro Pump, or wasting Zapdos's Seed just to pivot. Greninja3 is definitely an annoyance because of Rock Slide flinches, but its damage output can be limited pretty quickly with Intimidate, and Mega Metagross checks it really well, so it will need a ton of flinches to really put me in a bad spot. Still, better not risk it and get rid of it as soon as possible. [Relevant replay: 952, 1568]
- Magnezone34: The biggest problem is that it forces out Tapu Fini. I used to Calm Mind in front of it, because Tapu Fini can tank a Thunder and heal with the Berry, but I try to never do that anymore since Zapdos is a really good check. Only Analytic Thunder can 2HKO (it's a roll), but Zapdos outspeeds and Roosts, so even that isn't much of a problem. Stomping Tantrum obviously OHKOs, as does Flare Blitz on set 3, but the annoyances come in the form of Sturdy and Bright Powder. Not only can my attempts of getting rid of it miss, but a second hit might also be needed. No Analytic obviously means much less damage, but the problems are all the turns I need to dedicate to getting rid of it, during which I can't really use Fini. I often try to Fake it Out turn 1 just to break the potential Sturdy, but it's obviously a bit risky because of the Bright Powder, and I did get punished for that once.
- Charizard34 (Megas): Both Megas are threats. Whenever possible, it's ideal to Fake Out turn 1, not only does this allow me to see what set it is and plan around it better, but when it's Mega Charizard Y, I instantly get the damage I need to ensure Thunder Punch will be a safe OHKO later. Charizard Y tends to heavily favour Solar Beam into Fini over Focus Blast into Incineroar, but just in case, I usually Protect and U-turn to get Metagross in for free. However, against Sun teams, Metagross can't always just come in and end it, in which case I go Zapdos and set Tailwind, a potentially dangerous endeavor in the Sun in case it gets doubled up, but again, Charizard heavily favours Solar Beam. In the case of Charizard X, it should be targeted with Moonblasts as soon as possible (though on the Fake Out turn, I prefer going for Scald since I know it will hit both Megas for some damage, while Moonblast will be a complete waste into Y). Thanks to Intimidate, its damage output is somehow limited, and both Tapu Fini and Incineroar check it decently. However, it's likely to start using Rock Slide very early; my usual play is U-turning for a safe switch into Metagross, and using Metagross as a bait while I finish it off with Fini. With Metagross on the field, it won't go for Rock Slide, so I'll be able to attack without risking flinches. On the following turn, if Charizard is still around, I can switch back to Incineroar for more Intimidate action, more Fake Out, and potentially to tank a Flare Blitz which will add valuable recoil on Charizard.
- Tornadus2: A little similar to Zapdos2, except this one doesn't have Roost recovery. It's also completely walled by Zapdos, but it can score Hurricane confusions, and the Hurricane + Focus Blast coverage combination threatens everything else on my team, so if it starts going for Double Teams and Substitutes, it can be a major annoyance that forces me to play around it and keep Zapdos alive at all costs. Thankfully it goes down to a single Thunderbolt.

-tier: Depending on their partners and the circumstances, these can be dangerous and should usually be priority targets.
- Raikou1234: Raikou feels like a constant thorn in my side. It's a very common sight, and while most battles against it are fine, it can be a headache when it comes in late game from a trainer like Kikujiro. Zapdos is the dedicated check, it will tank anything and can wear it down with Thunderbolt if need be. But the fact 3 of the sets carry Shadow Ball is a massive annoyance for Mega Metagross, which would love to Stomping Tantrum all over it. Not only that, but there's an Air Balloon set, and a Shuca Berry set, the former which also sets Reflect, a major problem for both Metagross and Incineroar. In the end, no matter the set, Raikou is certain to force me to target it quickly enough. Most of the time, I handle it with a mix of Zapdos and Incineroar, but it's also relatively common to put it in range of Stomping Tantrum / Knock Off the Shuca or Balloon and then KO it with Metagross, in Tailwind if possible (that's a lot of prep work for the KO, which is precisely the annoying part!). Important note is that Raikou4 (identifiable instantly by the Balloon message) seems to always Reflect on turn 1, so Fini is free to stay in for that turn and not Protect (but a direct switch to Zapdos can still be preferable to come in unharmed and have a safer Tailwind on the following turn). [Relevant replays: 802, 1837]
- Terrakion1234: I still haven't figured out an ideal way of handling Terrakion. Terrakion2 can be taken advantage of as soon as it's locked in, but finding out what move it chooses can cost a lot of HP to one of my Pokémon. The 3 other sets can always be revenge-KOd by Mega Metagross, Iron Head is a clean OHKO. Getting the switch-in to Metagross is the bigger problem, though. I often Fake Out + Moonblast turn 1, but this only has a small chance of getting the KO, which means I have to decide whether I want to let Incineroar take a Fighting move, or Zapdos take a potential Rock move. Metagross is an ok switch-in, but Close Combat or Sacred Sword does a good chunk, even at -1, and you never know when it'll decide to randomly Earthquake (well, if its partner is floating, the odds are very high). However, barring a Stone Edge crit, my Pokémon will tank any hit, so I just have to accept it'll happen and decide which gamble I'd like to make, or which Pokémon should be more expandable for the current trainer.
- Gengar4 (Mega): As pointed out in my Knock Off discussion, it's not a guaranteed OHKO. However, Protect + Knock Off is still my play in front of it, since it will get low enough to start spamming Destiny Bond, and the discovery that the AI keeps spamming it even when it will fail was a game-changer for this matchup. Fini can start Calm Minding in front of it while I wait for a guaranteed D-Bond failure to take the KO. Being trapped can be annoying depending on the partner though, so leaving Fini in may not always be the best idea. Also, who knows, even though it's been consistent so far, maybe the AI will decide to ignore Destiny Bond one day. [Relevant replays: 784, 1567]
- Venusaur34: Not knowing which set it is is the worst part. Going for Flare Blitz into it immediately is ideal, but set 3 is very likely to Protect in front of my lead, which means a wasted turn. However, Mega Venusaur setting up a Substitute for free usually means it'll be on the field until the very end of the battle, which limits my options with Fini; not to underestimate the big chunks Sludge Bomb does to both Incineroar and Zapdos. In both cases - but especially against the Mega - it's important to never let Metagross go down as long as Venusaur is around. It's my only proper defensive and offensive check, and Iron Head doesn't even do that much damage to the Mega set, but as long as I have it around I have a relatively safe end game. The most common result is Zapdos + Metagross doubling into it with Iron Head + Thunderbolt at the very end, which is (barely) a 2HKO! [Relevant replay: 1385 and 1951]
- Tyranitar34: As mentioned in the team history, Tyranitar used to be one of the team's biggest threats until I speed-crept it with Fini and added U-turn on Incineroar. As long as I have the leisure to go for Fake Out + Moonblast turn 1, it's a piece of cake afterwards, but otherwise, I have to let it Dragon Dance and bring it low with Moonblast + U-turn. Best case, I go Metagross and Protect it from Crunch/Payback while Fini finishes it off with Moonblast. In the case of Mega Tyranitar, 2 Moonblasts + U-turn has a chance to KO, but the additional bulk isn't too much of a problem since without Dragon Dance, Mega Metagross will just outspeed and finish it off with Iron Head if need be. I haven't struggled against Tyranitar at all since the changes, but I also make sure to always respect its pressure and target it as soon as possible, which I think is important. [Relevant replay: 364, 586]
- Rotom-Heat34: A little more situational than Rotom-Wash, but it walls Mega Metagross, and the potential Passho Berry makes it a bit tricky for Fini to handle as well. Zapdos checks it really well, but also can't do much damage in return. In all cases, it will likely have to be chipped down slowly. Metagross can be a good bait to help, but beware of the Z-move, it still does a ton through Protect! The worst cases are when it shows up in Sun, since Fini is useless and Overheat really hurts Zapdos. [Relevant replay: 1675]
- Leafeon34: Walled by ¾ of the team, but Quick Claw on set 4 and potentially Chlorophyll on the other means I can't ever really leave Fini in front of it without protecting, and with Leaf Blade's crit ratio, I can't count on Intimidate to help out. This has been a problem many times, because Leafeon4 might also Detect on turns where I'm targeting it, giving free turns to its partner. Flare Blitz doesn't OHKO (Leafeon has massive physical defense) so I usually U-turn to put it in HP Ice range. In theory, it really shouldn't be that big of a problem, but whenever I leave it be, I end up regretting it, probably because it limits the plays I can make with Fini so much.
- Goodra34: I often find it tempting to ignore it since I know I can double into it at almost any point for a KO, with ¾ of my team outspeeding too, but ignoring it is a recipe for disaster. Set 4 can Fire Blast Metagross, Thunder Fini and Blizzard(-freeze) Zapdos, while set 3 sets rain and starts getting accuracy drops with Muddy Water. I've been caught in tough spots against both of these sets. It's especially problematic on rain teams, since its partner is likely to be a bigger immediate threat.
- Ribombee4: It's so tempting to completely ignore Ribombee, especially knowing both Flare Blitz and Iron Head will score the OHKO at any time. But this Ribombee becomes a really big threat after a couple of Quiver Dances. It has Energy Ball, so it can even deal a ton of damage to Fini, while Bug Buzz does lots to Incineroar and Metagross after a few boosts. Zapdos has no offensive pressure against it after a few Quiver Dances, and I can't rely on Fake Out to help out either because of Shield Dust. So bottom line is, just Flare Blitz/Iron Head it as soon as possible, and all will be fine. [Relevant replay: 503]
- Blissey34: It actually took me a while to realize what my plan should be against Blissey4. I used to be really scared of it and aggressively target it early on; now, I just ignore it until the end. The plan is quite simply to PP stall it. By preserving Misty Terrain at all times, it won't be able to Toxic anything else than Zapdos, and the only tricky part is stalling out the 10 Mud Bomb PP; Zapdos can help with that if needed, since it will waste 2 PP if you switch it in on one. It doesn't do too much damage to any of the team members, and Metagross and Fini can also Protect to waste some PP. Ever since this has become my main plan, I haven't had trouble with Blissey4 at all, though battles against it sure take a really long time. Blissey3 is pretty tricky, because of how unpredictable Counter is. Incineroar and Metagross can KO it in just a few hits, but you really don't want to catch a Counter. Leaving it be is undesirable, though, since it can setup Calm Minds and hit both Fini and Zapdos super effectively (and freeze Zapdos). I usually try to focus its partners to create a safer endgame, and cycle Fake Out as much as possible. [Relevant replays: 667, 858]
- Virizion1234: Virizion's dual STAB is super effective on my frontline, so it can be a bit tricky to handle early on. If I can afford it, the ideal play is simply to double switch, as both Metagross and Zapdos handle it with ease. Zapdos not only walls it, but deals big chunks with HP Ice, while Iron Head does a ton too. However, it's not uncommon for me to leave Incineroar in and Flare Blitz since an intimidated Virizion can't KO Incineroar without a crit. This is more common when I can't afford to double switch because of Virizion's partner.
- Beedrill34 (Mega): A rare sight, but applies a ton of offensive pressure on my team. Both sets have Brick Break, which can 2HKO Incineroar when unintimidated, while Poison Jab obviously murders Fini and does a ton to Zapdos. This means I need to target it as aggressively as possible (it goes down to Flare Blitz, or Iron Head)... but one of the sets has Protect. Much like Nidoking, this is a major bother, especially since Beedrill usually a part of Punk Girl/Guys' rosters, which feature an abundance of threats. Despite this, it's unwise to leave it be, so it needs to be targeted as quickly as possible no matter what; thankfully, it's frail. [Relevant replay: 1372]
- Braviary34/Passimian34: Defiant! In Passimian's case, Fake Out + Moonblast is the ideal turn 1 and gets the OHKO, but it could definitely be threatening if that play wasn't possible. Braviary also needs to be Faked Out and chipped with Scald instantly (preferred over Moonblast for the burn chance, and also because a Moonblast SpA drop would trigger Defiant). Both Fini and Incineroar can tank a +1 Brave Bird on the following turn and finish it off, but set 4 can OHKO Fini with Giga Impact or Incineroar with Superpower; thankfully, that set has a tendency to set up Tailwind instead. Sometimes, I switch either Pokémon to Zapdos (usually Incineroar) on the second turn, but the worst case of losing a Pokémon to it is a possibility - the worst outcome, but a very uncommon one. [Relevant replay: 1010]
- Milotic3: If it rolls Competitive, it threatens Incineroar heavily, and Zapdos will also take a ton from +2 Hydro Pump (and about the same from Blizzard). It's very tanky, and firing off Moonblasts is dangerous because of SpA drops that activate Competitive as well, so I usually Calm Mind with Fini a lot, and concentrate on Roosting/chipping it with Thunderbolt with Zapdos. The biggest problem is Mirror Coat, which is used very randomly and can result in any of these 2 getting OHKOd. The good news is that the whole team barring Incineroar outspeeds it, and Metagross' Thunder Punch does 80-99%, so it only needs some chip to be in range of that safe KO. Nevertheless, it can damage my team a lot in the process, and definitely needs to be taken seriously.
- Ampharos4 (Mega): A lot of the time, it will just try to Confuse Ray everything in Misty Terrain and wonder why it's not working. But every once in a while, it'll fire a Thunder or a Focus Blast, and my lead definitely hates that combination. Zapdos is a great switch in both cases, but can't switch into both slots at once, and most annoyingly, has a high chance of being met with a Confuse Ray. Because of this, I try to focus it down as quickly as possible; Moonblast is a 2HKO, so it can be dealt with instantly with the help of Fake Out (alternatively, Calm Mind can be a good choice too, as it allows Fini to live a Thunder if need be, too). Stomping Tantrum is also a 2HKO. It's just a bad idea to leave it be, even if it's likely to repeatedly try using Confuse Ray and fail.
- Volcarona34: Tapu Fini deals with Volcarona decently well offensively, but it's important to not let it setup too much. Because of the massive physical investment on both sets, Scalds actually do quite a lot of damage, while Incineroar's damage is limited, so Fini is definitely the preferred check. The most annoying part is... you guessed it, Protect. I usually just Fake Out and Scald, and then Scald again for the KO. Cycling Fake Out can help a lot in case it seems to get out of control; Volcarona3 tends to self-destruct a lot with Overheat into resisted targets, but Volcarona4 has Hurricane to deal good damage on Fini.

-tier: Annoyances that become problematic if their designated answer is gone, but they can usually be ignored for some time if needed.
- Regirock3: Tapu Fini handles Regirock really well in general, but it's a major annoyance for the Incineroar slot. Thanks to Clear Body, Intimidate often has no effect, and Regirock3's Continental Crush will OHKO either Incineroar or Zapdos. However, switching in Metagross isn't always safe because of Regirock's partner, so a lot of pressure is put on that slot, and it's not uncommon for me to sacrifice either Incineroar or Zapdos to it for lack of better options. It's also frustrating to switch and play around it, only to find it's a different set and Incineroar wasn't in as much danger. Ideally, I Fake it Out turn 1, which will instantly reveal if it's set 1 from the Leftovers, and Scald with Fini for a 2HKO, but it's not uncommon for me to Calm Mind since it might be more beneficial in the long run. The Rock Polish variant (Regirock4) can also be annoying, especially from flinches, but it tends to have a preference for Superpower, so the switch to Zapdos works out better; it can also simply Explode after the Rock Polish, but that's not guaranteed. In all cases, it's better to target it early.
- Alakazam34: Whenever possible, Incineroar should be switched into Zapdos. Specs will almost always go for Focus Blast into that slot, while Mega is a tossup between Focus Blast Incineroar and Psychic Fini, though it might trace Intimidate to prevent the Knock Off OHKO anyway. Having set 4 locked into Focus Blast with ZapFini on the field is actually amazing, it's usually a free Tailwind and Calm Mind, and if you ignore it until it's switched out from lack of PP, it will lock itself into Psychic when it comes back, which gets it hard walled by Incineroar. In front of the Mega, Tailwind + Calm Mind is also good, because Alakazam will fail to 2HKO Fini thanks to the Calm Mind, and after it activates the berry, Zapdos and Fini and in a good spot to sweep together. When the switch to Zapdos seems dangerous, I sometimes stay in with Incineroar, though; 50% odds of it being set 3, and 70% odds of hitting the Focus Blast means the odds aren't terrible, and if it's Mega, Incineroar will live anything, Focus Blast will activate the Berry (if it hits), and Knock Off will actually OHKO if it hasn't traced Intimidate. In short, there's a lot of factors, and in most scenarios, staying in doesn't go wrong for Incineroar. But whenever I can switch to Zapdos, it's a much better play. [Relevant replay: 1561]
- Jolteon34: Its damage output against Incineroar and Zapdos is pretty low, but with the King's Rock, it could potentially be annoying (Fake Tears as well). My most common play is to instantly Protect + Knock Off, then switch to Zapdos + U-turn or Knock Off again, but going for Fake Out + Calm Mind turn 1 can work too, and make the Protect + Knock Off play turn 2. Set 3 will prioritize setting up Rain most of the time, and set 4 is still 2HKOd by Knock Off (despite the Z), and Fini can tank 2 (3 with the Berry, even) Thunderbolts after a Calm Mind. [Relevant replays: 414, 465]
- Heatran1234: Figuring out the set is the most annoying part; once I know, it's pretty easy to play around. Scarf locks itself into a move, and whichever it is, the team can play around it fairly well. Faking it Out turn 1 can help scouting for Scarf thanks to the flinch message; it has a strong preference for locking into Earth Power, but Flash Cannon happens sometimes. All 3 other sets are outsped by Fini and 2HKOd by Scald / OHKOd by a +2 Scald, so the options are open on whether to attack it instantly or start Calm Minding to +2 (the CM route can prevent the frustration of a Protect from set 2). However, set 3 might use Sunny Day, in which case more damage sources will be needed (the best is usually Stomping Tantrum, but careful, it has a Shuca Berry, so you need to either Knock it Off or get some prior damage!). Set 1 (sash) also makes Stomping Tantrum an unsafe answer as long as the set hasn't been revealed. Overall, it's not a huge threat but it will definitely chunk the whole team with decent damage, so it shouldn't be ignored either. All 4 team members can contribute in some way in taking it down, though (except Metagross when Heatran4 locks itself into Magma Storm), so it's not particularly scary.
- Sceptile34: As a lead, one of the great perks of Intimidate is that you can immediately know the set; set 3 will cancel the Intimidate with its Mental Herb, while Mega obviously won't. The only reason Mega Sceptile is any threatening is Rock Slide flinches + crits, otherwise, its damage output can be quickly limited with Intimidate, and there's plenty of ways to offensively deal with it (U-turn, HP Ice, Iron Head...). But Rock Slide preventing Tailwind can be a huge bother, so if I can, I still try to go for a quick OHKO with Fake Out + Moonblast. Sceptile3 forces Fini to either Protect or switch, but once it used Leaf Storm enough, it's very passive, and Zapdos can easily Roost off the damage. However, Focus Blast crits are unpredictable, so I usually try to Flare Blitz it early. [Relevant replay: 1593]
- Landorus1234: As a lead, I almost always Fake it Out just to see whether it's faster than Fini. If it is, then switching to Zapdos and going for Calm Mind is almost always my play (I could directly Scald, which is a roll after Fake Out damage). After setting up Tailwind and Protecting (if it's Scarf and locked into Earth Power, it's pretty free), I have the option to either OHKO it with Scald or HP Ice, both work. Landorus14 are outsped by Fini and I usually just Scald them for the 2HKO, no reason to mess around with set 1 (Smack Down + Fissure). It has a tendency to Smack Down a lot more than Fissure though, so it hasn't been any trouble so far.
- Cobalion1234: The least threatening of the Swords of Justice, but the Lax Incense set (3) can be a major annoyance (or a great help depending on where his Swaggers go... Zapdos doesn't appreciate them!). If it happens to Psych Up decent boosts, it can also deal quite a lot of damage to Tapu Fini. Since attacking it is unreliable, I usually leave it until the end, but this has led to RNG roulette a few times, which can be troublesome. Set 4 actually deals a lot of damage and scares out Incineroar, yet is also a heavy source of frustration because of its random Protects. Set 2 has caught me off guard a few times with Metal Burst: better attack it with Incineroar than Fini, as Flare Blitz will go last and won't be bursted. I've never had issues with set 1, but I guess it could be bad if it set up a lot? Generally, I try to target Cobalion and treat it has a danger until I know the set and can plan around it, then I often use baits, Intimidate it, etc. while mostly ignoring it.
- Gastrodon34: The very worst part is set 3 going for Mud Bombs and getting accuracy drops. However, set 4 can become kind of difficult to break through if it sets up enough, and will force Fini to Calm Mind a lot. Because of that, my priority is always to use Knock Off as early as possible, as removing the Leftovers makes a huge difference in dealing with set 4 if it sets up. Once the Leftovers are gone, it can even be ignored for some time if necessary, or slowly chipped away whenever possible.
- Darmanitan34: The Scarf set (4) almost always locks into Superpower into the Incineroar slot, so the switch to Zapdos is safe and makes Darmanitan really passive on the following turns. The AV set is trickier, because it can tank 2 Scald, and with Sheer Force, a Flare Blitz into Zapdos will hurt quite a bit (thankfully limited by Intimidate). Cycling Intimidate can be a good solution if I'd rather not attack it and focus on the partner. Darmanitan4 coming from the back is a lot trickier, because then the Superpower isn't guaranteed, and it's also not Intimidated. In that case, I have to play a lot more carefully, but whatever it locks itself into, some team members will wall it.
- Tauros4: See Blissey4. Basically the same, except you can wear it down a lot quicker, so it will rarely come down to PP stalling, and you can also limit Earthquake's damage output with Intimidate. It's better not to target it too aggressively early on, though, as there's a high chance of running into Protect.
- Registeel13: Similarly to Blissey4, if I ignore it, it can setup to a point where getting the KO is nearly impossible and I need to consider PP stalling. Thankfully, +6 Iron Head still doesn't do half to Zapdos (or Metagross), while Zapdos walls the Charge Beam/Flash Cannon variant, but it can be a problem if it's doing too much damage to Fini while I need it around. Knocking Off the Chesto Berry/Leftovers early can go a really long way. [Relevant replay: 1007]
- Mawile34 (Mega): If it's not Intimidate, Flare Blitz has a chance to get the straight OHKO, but it's obviously better not to risk it and double it up with Scald as well, or simply get Fake Out damage before since it's sufficient. If it has Intimidate, Flare Blitz + Scald is almost guaranteed; add Fake Out damage and again, it's a guaranteed KO. Both Fini and Incineroar outspeed, so no matter what, it can be dealt with without taking any damage in the first couple of turns. When that's not possible or it comes from the back then it's trickier, and I make sure it's a priority target. Thunderbolt is a guaranteed 2HKO as well as Stomping Tantrum, but baiting the Sucker Punch with Metagross can be smarter if Metagross is low. [Relevant replay: 1188]
- Ferrothorn4: As long as Incineroar is around, this is no issue, but if I lost Incineroar before it shows up, this could be trouble. I think in most cases, Zapdos would be able to PP stall it relatively well. [Relevant replay: 238, 1587]

-tier:
- Toxapex34: The hardest part about facing it is usually deciding whether to finish it off with Stomping Tantrum or Thunder Punch at the end of the battle. [Relevant replay: 1577]
- Spiritomb34: Leave alive for as long as possible for free health care (set 3) and potentially free Swords Dances (set 4 Swagger) for Incineroar and Mega Metagross! [Relevant replay: 1500]

A TRIBUTE TO FRIENDSHIP

About a year ago (it feels like 2!), I joined the Tree Discord server. The Tree is definitely a fun challenge, but sharing and interacting with other climbers is what kept me interested and motivated. I never expected to meet as many awesome people as I did there; I stumbled upon what I think is one of the best communities on Smogon. Without such a welcoming environment, I would have quickly moved on after my first Rain team... but here I am, as motivated as ever to keep making teams and climb the Tree! So I would like to extend a warm and sincere thank you to the people who help making this community such a fun place - this streak would, as a matter of fact, never have happened without them:

Level 51, ReptoAbysmal, Coeur7, paperquagsire, Smuckem, turskain, Josh C., ANTS, JustinTR, ExtendedFreezer, Megamite, HeadsILoseTailsYouWin, DHR-107, SadisticMystic, Frazone, Eppie and Kommo-o (I'm really sorry if I forgot someone, I swear it's not on purpose!!)

Also a huge shoutout and thank you to NoCheese for taking good care of this and the Maison thread for so many years, and atsync for that one post with the speed tiers on page 148, it's the one post on Smogon I use so much I have it bookmarked lol.

Q&A

Would you recommend this team for beginners or to easily get the stamp?
Not really. In general, people who just want the stamp or are new to the Battle Tree do better with teams that are very offensive and mostly require just clicking attacks; this team is the very opposite of that. This team does best when you take advantage of the the switching opportunities and plan ahead, and for that reason, it's probably best suited for experienced players. Good beginner teams, in my opinion, would be the classic PheroLele and my Rain team, both available as QRs!

How do you deal with Trick Room?
It really depends. If I can prevent it from getting set up, I try to, but Trick Room prevention is a case-by-case with this team. For example, in front of Aromatisse, I can Fake it Out turn 1 and switch to Metagross, which OHKOs it on the following turn. In the case of Jellicent or Trevenant, I can simply double them up, while Trick Room Oranguru goes down to a simple Knock Off. But sometimes I can't prevent it immediately, for example against Mega Slowbro, or preventing it is too costly (it would necessitate me to tank hits from the partner that I don't want to, or there's 2 Trick Room setters and I don't know which will go for it). In that case, I usually Calm Mind immediately and start chipping things down with Incineroar. Through resist switches in the Incineroar slot and the combination of Calm Mind (it's not uncommon to set up 2 of them) + Protect + the Berry on Tapu Fini, I can usually stall out Trick Room relatively easily and set myself up to be in a commanding position as soon as it expires. Roost stall and Fake Out+Intimidate cycling also both really help, while Metagross can also stall turns by Protecting. Overall, I would say the team has a fairly good matchup against most Trick Room trainers in any case. [Relevant replays: 996, 1039]

Intimidate, Calm Mind, Misty Seed... doesn't this team lose to critical hits?
I thought so at first, but it's really not as bad as it appears. Tapu Fini, Incineroar and Zapdos all have a lot of bulk even without boosts, so most of the time, they tank the crits, and the result is just that their lifespan is lower than it would otherwise have been. As you can imagine, through all these battles, I've faced my fair share of crits, and few of them had a big incidence on the result, they're more of an annoyance. The most common result is Berries activating early, or Zapdos needing to Roost more. A series of untimely crits could surely be bad in very specific situations, but the odds seem to have been in my favour so far! [Relevant replay: 1104]

How long are battles on average?
With animations off, battles take an average of 6 minutes, including the time spent calcing. I usually play 25 battles per day, and that takes me pretty consistently 2 hours and a half. Of all the teams I've gotten decent streaks with, this is by far the most time-consuming one.

Do you have general tips and tricks for using the team?
I have lots!
  • Pay attention to ability activations at the start; noticing Raikou's Air Balloon is important, as is noticing whether the Johto Beasts have Pressure, because if they do, you can Fake them Out, but otherwise you can't. Intimidate activates White Herbs, which quite a few sets have, like Sceptile and Arcanine, this reveals what set they are and can really change how the turn should be played. The order in which abilities are activated can also reveal the set, for example, Porygon-Z's Download might activate before or after Fini's Misty Surge, and each of these Porygon-Z tends to be handled differently.
  • The first question is not "which Pokémon do I Fake Out?", it's "should I Fake Out?". It's often worth skipping Fake Out, especially if it's likely the give the other opposing Pokémon a free turn to setup, when you could just use Knock Off instantly to get the damage going. It's sometimes not worth going for Calm Mind before you know what sets you're facing anyway. [Relevant replay: 458]
  • Don't switch in Metagross recklessly, and be wary of letting it tank a hit. Look up sets, because a crazy list of Pokémon are randomly running Shadow Ball in Tree, which is bad for Metagross. Also, keep in mind that the base form doesn't tank hits nearly as well as the Mega; I usually try to only switch it in on Rock or Poison moves.
  • In most games, Fini should set up a Calm Mind before going on the offence, but it's not always necessary or optimal. Simply attacking might put things right in the range you need them, and that's sometimes the correct call... remember that 2 Moonblasts do more damage than a +1 Moonblast! [Relevant replay: 1828, 1797]
  • When Fini or Zapdos are threatened out and may prove useful later, don't be scared of losing Calm Mind boosts or the Misty Seed boost. Don't commit to staying in no matter what, it's not worth. [Relevant replays: 616, 1202, 1321, 1568]
  • Keep Zapdos healthy, make Roosting a priority if it's getting chipped down.
  • Calc, calc, calc, calc, calc, calc. There's a lot of modifiers that come into play, between Intimidate, Calm Mind, the Misty Seed... combinations of damage can be all over the place. Even after 2250 battles, I still spend a ton of time calcing things, because new situations pop up all the time. It also helps plan things out with the Berries!
  • In case of doubt, click U-turn.

My tributes have now been paid; below is the Replay Vault in case you're curious to see the team in action. For now, the climb continues!

Thank you for reading! :heart:
 
Last edited:

Eisenherz

επέκεινα της ουσίας
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REPLAY VAULT

Because of how varied the patterns of play are with this team, I couldn't help but save a very large number of replays. I decided to record and upload all of them, for archival and reference purpose if anything. This means literally hours of footage, even when sped up. In order to make this more accessible, I uploaded every battle individually and created a few playlists of a much shorter length around certain themes. I also made a "best of" compilation below, in which I try to showcase different aspects of the team, as well as a couple of exciting battles. Finally, I indexed all uploaded battles, categorizing them by trainer; these can be found at the bottom of the vault if you truly are interested!


Playlist: Team Showcase (20 battles)

Playlist: Nailbiters & near-losses

Playlist: Tribute to 50% Berries

Playlists: vs. Trick Room | vs. Sun | vs. Rain | vs. Evasion-boosters

Playlist: All replays in chronological order

SPECIAL TRAINERS

Anabel: [700 entei.pnglatios.pngsnorlax.pnglucario-mega.png] [1100 snorlax.pngraikou.pngalakazam.pnglucario-mega.png] [1110 snorlax.pngraikou.pngalakazam.pnglucario-mega.png] [1800 lucario-mega.pngentei.pngalakazam.pngraikou.png]
Colress: [330 metagross.pngelectrode.pngklinklang.pngporygon-z.png] [600 magnezone.pngporygon2.pngmuk-alola.pngporygon-z.png] [1470 klinklang.pngmagnezone.pngmetagross.pngelectrode.png] [1600 klinklang.pngporygon-z.pngmuk-alola.pngporygon2.png]
Cynthia: [1500 togekiss.pnglucario-mega.pngmilotic.png] [1840 togekiss.pngmilotic.pnglucario-mega.png]
Dexio: [620 slowbro.pngpassimian.pngbraviary.pngturtonator.png] [940 ninetales-alola.pngturtonator.png
whimsicott.png
passimian.png] [1570 passimian.png
slowbro-mega.png
espeon.png
whimsicott.png]
Grimsley: [110 absol-mega.pnghonchkrow.pngscrafty.pnghoundoom.png] [360 houndoom.pngdrapion.pngabsol-mega.png] [1700 absol-mega.pngtyranitar.pngscrafty.png]
Guzma: [1900 honchkrow.pngtoxapex.png]
Kukui: [560 lycanroc-midnight.pngdecidueye.pngninetales-alola.pngsnorlax.png] [900 braviary.pngsnorlax.pngincineroar.pngmagnezone.png] [1010 braviary.pngninetales-alola.png
primarina.png
magnezone.png
] [1030 magnezone.pngbraviary.pngninetales-alola.png
snorlax.png
] [1240 ninetales-alola.pngdecidueye.pngincineroar.pngprimarina.png] [1280 snorlax.pnglycanroc.pngmagnezone.pngninetales-alola.png]
Mallow: [120 lurantis.pngtsareena.pngsceptile.pngcomfey.png] [540 comfey.png
talonflame.png
lurantis.png
sceptile-mega.png
] [670 talonflame.pngtsareena.pngsceptile-mega.pnglurantis.png] [770 sceptile-mega.pngcomfey.pnglurantis.pngtalonflame.png] [1200 toucannon.png
trevenant.png
tsareena.pngsceptile-mega.png] [1580 sceptile.pngtsareena.pngtalonflame.pngcomfey.png]
Wally: [500 magnezone.pnggarchomp.pnggallade.pngaltaria-mega.png] [840 garchomp.png
magnezone.png
altaria-mega.pnggallade.png] [990 garchomp-mega.pngaltaria.pngmagnezone.pnggallade.png] [1300 altaria.pnggarchomp.png
gallade-mega.png
magnezone.png
] [1400 garchomp.pngaltaria-mega.png
magnezone.png
gallade.png] [2000 gallade-mega.pnggarchomp.png
magnezone.png
altaria.png] [2250 garchomp-mega.png
magnezone.png
altaria.pnggallade.png]

REGULAR TRAINERS

Ace Trainer Bette: [241 gengar-mega.pngrotom-wash.pngtentacruel.pngdhelmise.png] [1326 decidueye.pnggengar-mega.pngchandelure.png]
Ace Trainer Granville: [414 aerodactyl-mega.pngjolteon.pnggreninja.pngribombee.png] [1349 ribombee.png
dugtrio.png
sceptile-mega.pngtalonflame.png] [1561 accelgor.pngalakazam.pngjolteon.pngsceptile.png]
Ace Trainer Lea: [586 lilligant.pngcharizard-mega-y.pngwhimsicott.pnghoundoom.png] [1534 typhlosion.pngwhimsicott.pngincineroar.pngblaziken.png]
Ace Trainer Levi: [323 incineroar.pnginfernape.pngtyphlosion.pngstarmie.png] [792 blaziken.pngvolcarona.pngwalrein.pngtyphlosion.png] [1844 mamoswine.pngexeggutor-alola.pngrotom-wash.pngarcanine.png]
Ace Trainer Munin: [1552 serperior.pngeelektross.pngelectivire.pngdecidueye.png]
Ace Trainer Raz: [952 ribombee.pngaccelgor.pnggreninja.png
dugtrio-alola.png
]
Ace Trainer Sylvia: [65 delphox.pngmagmortar.pnglilligant.png
charizard-mega-x.png
] [143 tangrowth.pngexeggutor-alola.pngmagmortar.png
chandelure.png
] [497 ninetales.pngemboar.pngblaziken-mega.pnginfernape.png] [589 venusaur-mega.pngdelphox.png
arcanine.png
rotom-heat.png
] [598 charizard-mega-x.png
blaziken.png
darmanitan.png
shiftry.png
]
Ace Trainer Tamah: [1605 lickilicky.pngmamoswine.png
porygon2.png
primarina.png]
Aether Foundation Haley: [853 hawlucha.pngblissey.pnglycanroc-midnight.pngsceptile-mega.png] [953 milotic.pngprobopass.pngnoivern.pngdrampa.png] [1372 blaziken-mega.png
beedrill.png
sylveon.png
porygon2.png] [1593 sylveon.pngsceptile-mega.pngferaligatr.png] [1797 porygon2.pnginfernape.pngavalugg.png] [1986 kangaskhan-mega.pngclawitzer.pngbruxish.png]
Aether Foundation Harvey: [365 lickilicky.pnghonchkrow.pngpinsir.png] [836 ursaring.pngporygon2.pngrotom-frost.pngmagnezone.png] [1891 honchkrow.pngmandibuzz.pngtoucannon.pngskarmory.png]
Aether Foundation Luke: [175 magnezone.pngninetales-alola.png] [1817 walrein.pngsalamence-mega.pngvaporeon.png]
Backpacker Fernanda: [1054 heatran.pngentei.pngregisteel.pngterrakion.png]
Backpacker Gwenny: [115 azelf.pngcresselia.pngheatran.png
regigigas.png
] [362 articuno.pngheatran.png
landorus.png
mesprit.png
]
Bellhop Donna: [1585 pelipper.pngzoroark.pngbarbaracle.pngscizor.png]
Bellhop Gilroy: [738 bouffalant.pngzoroark.pnggogoat.png]
Black Belt Arnold: [1581 manectric.pngpidgeot-mega.png]
Black Belt Boris: [1001 slaking.pngtyranitar.pngnoivern.pngdelphox.png]
Black Belt Bryson: [107 tyranitar.pngcharizard-mega-y.pnggogoat.pnghydreigon.png] [174 tyranitar.pngchesnaught.pnglandorus.pngmagmortar.png] [486 greninja.pngblastoise.pngkingdra.pngvolcarona.png] [493 sceptile.pngthundurus.pngtyphlosion.pngblaziken.png] [616 kingdra.pngcharizard-mega-x.pngdelphox.pngslaking.png]
Breeder Danby: [1392 dhelmise.pngcarracosta.pngturtonator.pngmudsdale.png]
Collector Dennis: [357 rampardos.pngskarmory.pngscizor.pngkangaskhan-mega.png] [1723 rampardos.pngtyranitar-mega.pngsalamence.pnghydreigon.png]
Collector Sam: [579 nidoking.pngtogekiss.pngdrampa.pngtyranitar-mega.png] [1253 nidoking.pngeelektross.pngrampardos.pnghydreigon.png]
Cook Tony: [572 lanturn.pngchandelure.pngtangrowth.png]
Dancer Atalanta: [824 goodra.pngswampert-mega.pngprimarina.pnggreninja.png]
Dancer Carrie: [1321 hariyama.pnggardevoir-mega.pngmimikyu.png]
Dancer Jo: [667 zapdos.pngmilotic.pngwishiwashi-school.pngblissey.png] [1108 vanilluxe.pngsnorlax.pngcrobat.pngprimarina.png] [1591 latias.pngarticuno.pngmilotic.png]
Dancer Tasanee: [1057 gyarados-mega.pngentei.pngcrobat.png]
Dancer Variel: [1809 pelipper.pngjolteon.pngblastoise.png]
Firefighter Calder: [886 politoed.pngslowbro.pngconkeldurr.pngsalamence.png] [1524 conkeldurr.pngninetales.pngwalrein.pngclawitzer.png]
Firefighter Presta: [675 milotic.pngvaporeon.pngkingdra.png]
Gentleman Abel: [149 registeel.pngsuicune.pngcobalion.pnglandorus.png] [706 landorus.pngthundurus.pngraikou.pngregisteel.png] [1214 regigigas.pngthundurus.pnglandorus.pngregirock.png]
Gentleman Mechabob: [312 suicune.png179368virizion.pngterrakion.png] [536 regigigas.pngsuicune.pngvirizion.pngcobalion.png] [681 regirock.pngvirizion.pngregice.pngcobalion.png] [802 virizion.pngraikou.pngelectivire.pngcobalion.png] [865 thundurus.pngraikou.pngsuicune.pngvirizion.png] [1007 registeel.pnglandorus.pngraikou.pngvirizion.png] [1667 179368regirock.pngregice.pngraikou.png]
Golfer Moe: [465 espeon.pngflareon.pngumbreon.pngjolteon.png]
Golfer Patrick: [812 typhlosion.pngcharizard-mega-y.pngninetales.pngzapdos.png] [1241 charizard-mega-y.pngcomfey.pngstaraptor.pngflygon.png]
Golfer Susanna: [1335 slaking.png179368zapdos.pngninetales-alola.png] [1373 volcarona.pngsalamence-mega.pngflygon.png179368] [1658 179368zapdos.pngcharizard-mega-y.pngvolcarona.png]
Hiker Stellan: [488 golem-alola.pngtyranitar-mega.pnggarchomp.png] [1336 rhyperior.pngslowking.pngdusknoir.png]
Hiker Vivek: [1039 audino.pnggolem.pngtyranitar.pngprobopass.png]
Janitor Paulo: [784 gengar-mega.pnggoodra.pnggastrodon.pngsteelix.png] [1653 golem-alola.pngdrapion.pngmuk.pngvaporeon.png]
Janitor Sika: [232 steelix.pngmimikyu.pngstarmie.pngdhelmise.png]
Lass Inez: [1104 179368raikou.pngtornadus.pnglatios.png] [1485 latios.pngcobalion.png179368regirock.png]
Madame Donny: [517 mesprit.pngheatran.pngmoltres.pnguxie.png] [686 cresselia.pngarticuno.pngzapdos.pngmoltres.png]
Madame Gracie: [442 latios.pnguxie.pngcresselia.pngkommo-o.png] [993 kommo-o.pnguxie.pnglatios.pngheatran.png] [1355 uxie.pngazelf.pngcresselia.pngheatran.png] [1521 zapdos.pngazelf.pngmesprit.pngarticuno.png] [1558 cresselia.pngkommo-o.pngheatran.pngazelf.png]
Office Worker Darrel: [1608 lilligant.pnglurantis.png]
Office Worker Jana: [273snorlax.pngdugtrio-alola.pngsylveon.pngwhimsicott.png]
Office Worker Savir: [1575 metagross.pnggardevoir-mega.pngelectivire.png]
Pokémon Center Lady Perri: [858 florges.pngtogedemaru.pngaudino-mega.pngblissey.png]
Police Officer Rendor: [735 lucario.pngescavalier.pngvaporeon.pngstarmie.png] [794 medicham-mega.pngraichu.pngsalazzle.pngheracross.png] [1946 lanturn.pngflareon.pngescavalier.png]
Preschooler Naya: [1016 tyranitar-mega.pngcresselia.pngkommo-o.pngheatran.png] [1878 tyranitar-mega.pngmetagross.pnguxie.pngmesprit.png]
Preschooler Niara: [1682 blastoise.pngempoleon.pngtyphlosion.pngcharizard-mega-x.png] [1841 feraligatr.pngprimarina.pnggreninja.pngmeganium.png]
Preschooler Reina: [1074 venusaur-mega.pngchesnaught.pngmeganium.pnginfernape.png] [1385 venusaur.pngempoleon.pngswampert-mega.pngchesnaught.png] [1523 greninja.pngtyphlosion.pngserperior.pnginfernape.png]
Preschooler Victor: [506 kommo-o.pnglatias.pngcresselia.pnggarchomp.png] [1597 mesprit.pnghydreigon.pngheatran.pnglatios-mega.png]
Punk Girl Edda: [364 scrafty.pngtyranitar-mega.pngrotom-mow.pnghydreigon.png] [786 muk.pngtoxapex.pngmandibuzz.pngsharpedo.png] [1577 toxapex.pngbarbaracle.pnggothitelle.pngrotom-mow.png] [1846 drapion.pnghoundoom-mega.pngnidoking.pngmuk-alola.png]
Punk Girl Zed: [1671 drapion.pngshiftry.pngnidoking.png]
Punk Guy Dustin: [881 arcanine.pngmanectric-mega.pngstaraptor.pngmawile.png] [983 staraptor.pngarcanine.pngincineroar.pngrotom-fan.png] [1828 staraptor.pngscrafty.pnggyarados-mega.pngsalamence.png] [1875 manectric-mega.pngincineroar.pngarcanine.pngstaraptor.png]
Rising Star Erix: [275heatran.pngmoltres.pngvenusaur.pngwhimsicott.png] [801 delphox.pngninetales.pnglilligant.pnghoundoom-mega.png] [1675 delphox.pngvenusaur-mega.pngleafeon.pngrotom-heat.png]
Rising Star Joaquin: [119magmortar.pngrotom-wash.pngtornadus.pngjolteon.png] [645 suicune.pngrotom-wash.pngarmaldo.pngmagmortar.png] [647 goodra.pngpelipper.pngrotom-wash.pngtentacruel.png] [1198 bruxish.png179473armaldo.pngkingdra.png] [1362 swampert-mega.pngrotom-wash.png179473suicune.png]
Rising Star Marianne: [1541 charizard-mega-y.pngmoltres.pngexeggutor.pngleafeon.png] [1637 exeggutor-alola.pngninetales.pngmoltres.pngheatran.png] [1951 darmanitan.pngvenusaur-mega.pngheatran.pngarcanine.png]
Scientist Cadel: [346 dhelmise.pngdrampa.pngslowbro-mega.pngshiinotic.png] [996 bronzong.pngjellicent-1.pngaudino.png] [1272 carbink.pngrhyperior.pngcofagrigus.pngoranguru.png]
Scientist Cal: [238rotom-frost.pngtangrowth.pngferrothorn.pngwishiwashi-school.png]
Scientist Robyn: [788 carbink.pngconkeldurr.pngoranguru.pngslowbro-mega.png] [1587 conkeldurr.pngslowbro-mega.pngferrothorn.pnggothitelle.png]
Scientist Tivon: [86 oranguru.pngsteelix-mega.pngcrabominable.pngslowbro.png]
Scientist Stein: [1486 179478slowking.pngavalugg.pngdrampa.png] [1525 cresselia.png179478jellicent-1.pngavalugg.png] [1822 dhelmise.pngdrampa.pngbronzong.png]
Sightseer Chen: [897 rampardos.pngdarmanitan.pnghaxorus.pngregigigas.png]
Sightseer Christian: [833 drampa.pngvikavolt.pngchandelure.pnglatios.png] [1567 glaceon.pnggengar-mega.pngporygon-z.pngvolcarona.png]
Sightseer Ezra: [995 espeon.pngchandelure.pngheatran.pnglatios.png] [1113 magnezone.pngchandelure.pnglatios.pngespeon.png] [1194 alakazam.pngvikavolt.pngespeon.pngmagnezone.png]
Veteran Aino: [1246 gardevoir-mega.pngoranguru.pnggallade.pngmetagross.png]
Veteran Candy: [839 latios.pngvirizion.pngraikou.pngthundurus.png] [1009 virizion.pnglatias.pngterrakion.pngcobalion.png] [1994 azelf.pngcobalion.pngraikou.pngkommo-o.png]
Veteran Demiathena: [458 latios-mega.pnguxie.pngvirizion.pngazelf.png] [1898 uxie.pngcresselia.pngzapdos.pngvirizion.png] [1968 cresselia.pngmesprit.pnglatios.pnglatios-mega.png]
Veteran Dooley: [305 charizard-mega-x.pngthundurus.pnglatios.pngtyranitar.png] [1112 raikou.pngthundurus.pngsalamence-mega.pngheatran.png]
Veteran Ignacio: [1202 azelf.pnglatios-mega.pngterrakion.pngvirizion.png] [1289 raikou.pngterrakion.pngvirizion.pngkommo-o.png] [1358 terrakion.pngthundurus.pngcobalion.pngraikou.png] [1548 kommo-o.pngvirizion.pngtornadus.pngterrakion.png] [1821 cobalion.pngthundurus.pnglatios-mega.pnglatias.png] [1886 thundurus.pngcobalion.pngvirizion.pngtornadus.png]
Veteran Kikujiro: [613 jolteon.pngzapdos.pngraikou.pngraichu.png] [1044 zapdos.pngrotom-heat.pngthundurus.pngelectivire.png]
Veteran Priya: [427 thundurus.pngzapdos.pngsuicune.pngazelf.png]
Veteran Xenophon: [1117 virizion.pngtsareena.pngflorges.pngrotom-mow.png] [1599 whimsicott.pngtsareena.pngvenusaur.png179479]
Veteran Xio: [1188 179480shiinotic.pngsylveon.pngmimikyu.png]
Worker Omar: [1884 armaldo.pngraichu.png]
Youngster Brady: [619 cresselia.pnguxie.pngazelf.pngheatran.png] [1012 heatran.pnguxie.pngarticuno.pngregigigas.png] [1516 heatran.pngcresselia.pngarticuno.pnglandorus.png]
Youngster Napoleon: [1008 raikou.pngregice.pngmoltres.pnglatias.png] [1711 zapdos.png179368regice.pngtornadus.png]
Youth Athlete Buddy: [551 weavile.pngjolteon.pngcrobat.pngtalonflame.png] [682 weavile.pngelectrode.pngjolteon.pnggreninja.png] [1379 aerodactyl-mega.pngweavile.pngcrobat.pngjolteon.png]
Youth Athlete Hilario: [1063 raikou.pnghawlucha.pngalakazam.pngstarmie.png] [1792 hawlucha.pngraikou.pngsalazzle.png] [1837 dugtrio.pngraikou.pnglycanroc.pngserperior.png]
Youth Athlete Leena: [503 ribombee.pngcrobat.pngjolteon.pngaccelgor.png] [1568 ribombee.pngnoivern.pngcrobat.pnggreninja.png]
Youth Athlete Thamina: [1141 salazzle.pnggreninja.pngwhimsicott.pnglycanroc-midnight.png]
 
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So... I'm thinking to borrow this team, to familiarise myself with the tree first before trying to build one myself (I still think what archetype I should run, not to mention I barely touch it). If I read correctly, this is all about adapting (hence no particular theme, just ol' set-up or beat up, along with Zapdos baiting), is it?
Thanks again!
 

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