Approved by Theorymon
There are two reasons why I'm posting this in the BSS section over the RMT section. The first one is related to the content of this thread: even though a team is being showcased within my post, I would also like to have some room to ramble about things that aren't directly related to the squad itself. The second has to do with visibility: the BSS community is going through a period of growth at the moment and I feel like having my post in this section will lead to more people seeing it. Maybe I'm just being petty over what happened with my last post there, but that's how I feel about it.
My experience with Season 9 of SV BSS ladder is a topic that is hard for me to tackle in a few words. Even though I'm not expecting people to read all of my posts, my last team report goes a bit deeper on what happened in Season 8 and helps contextualize my journey in the format up until this point. Long story short, I performed terribly by my standards in the first season of Regulation D despite a lot of early indicators that caused me to grow more confident in my BSS craft. Right now I'm thankful for that, as it helped me grow even further this time around, but back then it was a massive slap in the face to have my efforts pay little to no dividends.
As soon as Season 8 ended, I knew it was time to get my hands dirty, to open the teambuilder tab on Pokemon Showdown and cook the most absurd things imaginable in preparation for this new round. I started furiously browsing Twitter and kept track of pretty much every single high-rated team report that I could find in there, scavenging for answers to the metagame. That's when the realization hit me: "Wait a sec... this is oddly similar to an idea I tested at the beginning of the format!" was a thought that kept popping into my head repeatedly as I checked other people's teams; Ting-Lu + Toxapex, Dragapult, Trailblaze Ursaluna and the list goes on and on. This process helped me reach my first big conclusion of this season: My problem was never a lack of (good) ideas, but rather a lack of polish/optimization. This realization allowed me to recover some of the confidence I had lost at the time. I don't like thinking about it as shifting the blame away from myself, but I genuinely believe that I spent too much time attempting to get subpar ideas to work rather than shifting my focus toward things that were worth fine-tuning, which impacted my placement in the end.
With this thought in mind, I went back to my batch of ideas from the previous season and chose to go all in on optimizing one of them for Season 9. After some trial and error, I decided that I wanted to build a team around one of the Galarian slow brothers. Why? Because they're cool and I like them tons... which is 100% true, but that's far from being the only reason. To better understand the thought process behind this decision, it's important to go back to Season 8 once again. Remember what I said about defensive gameplay being inferior to offense in my last team report? I was not correct, like not even close, and some of the top-rated players did an outstanding job at proving me wrong on that. A player by the name of ryon had an outstanding performance at the end of last season utilizing a team centered around a defensive core of Ting-Lu + Toxapex alongside offensive Ice-type Pokemon, which caused Japanese Twitter users to passionately rant about the strength of this defensive core. With this in mind, and considering how the end-of-season metagame tends to lean towards bulkier assemblies of Pokemon, it felt to me like the combination of Psychic and Poison STAB moves in tandem with strong coverage against Ting-Lu would be a valuable set of traits to have in this format. While Psychic/Poison sounds like a terrible offensive typing in theory, it becomes way stronger when taking into account the fact that a lot of Pokemon Tera into Fairy and Poison in the face of many top threats, which can then be abused by either of the Yadon.
We then started building and testing multiple different selections featuring these Pokemon. At the end of Season 8, I made the conscious decision to use Pokemon Showdown for testing purposes as little as I possibly could, as that has led me to a lot of wrong conclusions throughout my time playing this format. Honestly, it was a very frustrating and stressful process, as most people who have followed my journey in the BSS Discord can probably tell, especially when taking into account that I also go through the effort of obtaining every single one of my Pokemon as legitimately as possible, which means that for every single change I wanted to test on cartridge I had to go through the effort of assembling the required pieces manually, which is not particularly ideal in a format that evolves so fast. However, I'd like to think the experience that this process allowed us to amass helped us make a lot more correct decisions than we would have otherwise. It's still far from perfect, and I'll reflect upon my mistakes later on in this post, but it's a result that I can be proud of even if I haven't managed to hit my goal quite yet.
As per usual, the team and its Pokemon are named after songs by a music artist that I like a lot. I won't pretend that there's a deeper meaning to it other than the fact that I thought it was a cool name for a team centered around Galarian Slowking, but Break a spell could also be used to symbolize the process of escaping the rut I was going through in Regulation D up until the final iteration of this team was born.
★ TEAMBUILDING PROCESS ★
This was by no means linear, which makes it harder to talk about. In most posts of a similar nature, this section usually follows a very clear formula of "needed X to I added Y to the team", which is not really what happened here. It was a part of assembling each of the early teams, but the final product was more of a "these elements from earlier iterations of the team felt good so I'll try incorporating them here" type of teambuilding process.
With that in mind, these are the main combinations of Pokemon that I tested throughout Season 9:
To keep my train of thought somewhat clean, I'll tackle each component of the team separately:
The evolution of Slowking's set:
Ignoring the fact that it was a Slowbro on the very first draft of the team, I knew from the very start that I wanted to use this Pokemon to fill a very specific role, namely breaking down teams with strong defensive backbones. Despite the legitimacy of that kind of teams, the metagame is still mainly populated by strong offensive cores, which means that this isn't a Pokemon that can be selected regularly, though in the end, I would like to think that we managed to create a Slowking that can be deployed in a wider range of scenarios than normal Assault Vest builds.
At first, we adopted a Nasty Plot + 3 Attacks set that aimed to break down defensive teams in a very straightforward way. Slowbro was good at that, but I was pretty much never picking it outside of very specific scenarios. And honestly, the truth is that I wanted to use Slowking more than Slowbro anyway, so I naturally gravitated toward that after the first attempt. The original plan was to use a Future Sight + Chilly Reception set to enable strong Ice-type Pokemon like Iron Bundle and Chien-Pao, but I quickly concluded that chaining Future Sight into a second Pokemon is too ambitious as a gameplan where you only get to deploy 3 Pokemon, especially when said combination of Pokemon has a lot of overlapping weaknesses to popular Pokemon. However, I was not quite ready to give up on it yet, so I decided to revisit my very first Regulation D Galarian Slowking idea: a Choice Specs build.
Long story short, this is a set that retains the breaking power of Nasty Plot variants but with significantly increased flexibility in other matchups, as it can now act as a strong face-to-face piece against Pokemon such as Rapid Strike Urshifu and Chien-Pao without Crunch. I didn't bother looking back once I managed to figure out a fitting supporting cast around it.
Adapting to the lead metagame:
This was by far the hardest part of the teambuilding process and probably why the transition from Regulation C to Regulation D was so tough for me personally. Preparing for Chien-Pao and Ting-Lu on the first hand of the match was not easy, but it was possible. However, accounting for those two alongside Urshifu feels infinitely harder, and a lot of my strategies from the last ruleset (such as Cloyster) don't work anymore because of that. In the end, I took indirect inspiration from my Defog Corviknight from Season 6 to devise a stable game plan against the metagame's primary leads.
What do these 3 Pokemon have in common? The ability to keep Stealth Rock off the field. In the second to last draft, Great Tusk was used as a complementary frame against Ting-Lu to prevent it from catching my team in a Whirlwind loop. However, it was impossible to build a set that felt good against Urshifu and Chien-Pao as well, which is where Avalugg came into play: with Tera Grass + Tera Blast, Rock Blast + Loaded Dice and Rapid Spin it can stably handle all of the 3 big leads from the beginning of the match. However, the need to use Tera to adequately deal with Urshifu and the low accuracy of its moves made it hard to build a strong line of play using this Pokemon.
This is where Flutter Mane gets to shine: by employing it with a combination of Taunt, Pain Split and a Focus Sash, it becomes a piece that can force Tera out of the aforementioned Pokemon while also being able to shave Ting-Lu's HP significantly through its defensive Tera, all while keeping Stealth Rock from being used, which in return increases the consistency of the Pokemon in the back. There were some flaws in this gameplan, which I'll get to later, but for the most part, I would consider this setup to be a decent answer to the situation at hand. It isn't the only Pokemon on the team that can lead, and it can even be played from the back in some situations, but an ideal game with this team will more often than not feature Flutter Mane in that position.
The team's defensive backbone:
On the first two drafts of the team, Dragonite was used as physically defensive cushion with move choices like Thunder Wave and Fire Spin depending on the version of the squad. As a specially defensive Pokemon, the first draft featured an Assault Vest Ursaluna paired up with Mimikyu. The goal was to disguise it as a Flame Orb Trick Room sweeper and have it as a cushion alongside Dragonite instead. However, its durability was too lackluster for the goal it was supposed to accomplish, which made me upgrade it to Ting-Lu instead, which has a similar damage output with considerably higher special bulk. Despite its efficiency, it was a very low flexibility option that often forced my build into reactive lines of play, which is a playstyle that doesn't lend itself well to what I was trying to accomplish with the rest of the team. As for Dragonite, it was doing all the heavy lifting in a vast majority of games, but it felt extremely vulnerable to many of people's common brings against my lineup, such as Landorus, Gholdengo and offensive Pokemon with Electric Tera.
To sum it up, the primary lesson I learned from experimenting with these defensive formations was that I wanted to go with something more dynamic on this team, which caused me to gravitate towards offensive Pokemon with defensive utility, namely Scizor and Magnezone as Assault Vest users and Intimidate Salamence as a means of softening up the opponent's offense, which wasn't bad by any means, but it still felt to me like there was still room for improvement.
With Flutter Mane's introduction to the team, Dragonite felt like a no-brainer, as I now have a reliable way of keeping Stealth Rock from the field that can be deployed regularly and also happens to pair up naturally with the Paradox Pokemon. Encore and Rocky Helmet allow me to keep defensive utility against physically offensive Pokemon, while Extreme Speed and Earthquake give us some much-needed offense out of this slot. Magnezone was originally adopted as the team's Assault Vest frame, but its lack of speed proved to be lethal against many of the format's middle-speed breakers. Heatran is a Pokemon that I personally trust a lot and that I have a lot of experience using in this ruleset, and it was even used on the first draft as a Choice Scarf Pokemon. Even though it isn't known for its speed, it manages to get the jump on Adamant Breloom, which also happens to let it outspeed Pokemon such as slow Urshifu and Dragonite, making it a deceivingly dangerous offensive threat to many popular builds.
Fine-tuning my offensive options and creating a strong face-to-face Pokemon combination:
One of the things that quickly grabbed my attention on the very first prototype of this team was how lackluster my offensive options were in practice. Despite Dark Urshifu's potency as a breaker in this format, it was a Pokemon that felt hard to consistently deploy in my games. On the other hand, Mimikyu and Choice Scarf Heatran performed neatly against offensive teams, but breaking defensive formations was not their strong point by any means. Even though that was supposed to be Slowbro's role, having a team with a single breaking option is not good for flexibility, especially when taking into account the existence of specially defensive Pokemon that are highly resilient to it, such as Hisuian Goodra.
From there, we kept exploring many other offensive options, with Choice Specs Iron Bundle and Swords Dance Scizor taking the spotlight in that regard. To be more specific, the goal was to utilize Chilly Reception from Galarian Slowking to create "the strongest Iron Bundle", but I already explained the issue with this line of thinking above. The third draft of the team is where we started getting closer to our current game plan, with Swords Dance Chien-Pao taking the spotlight as the team's main source of breaking power. Frankly, it was one of the best Pokemon I've ever used in BSS, and I knew for sure that I wanted it to be part of my final team, even though its set was not always the one you'll see here (Ghost Tera + Swords Dance was the first thing we tested before Flutter Mane's introduction, and once Avalugg was introduced to the team we made it a Focus Sash + Sheer Cold variant, which I will talk about in-depth as part of my many considerations regarding the current ruleset).
As for Rapid Strike Urshifu, the way it found its way onto the team is a lot less interesting, as it was essentially a process of exclusion: I needed strong physical offense and a secondary Water-type resist alongside Dragonite, and from there, it becomes easy to see why I started running it. Its set went through some interesting mutation on the final days of the season, which I will explain below, as it was essential to fixing the team's MO against some of the most common lineups in the format. An interesting thing to point out here is how our offensive lineup aims to indirectly abuse one of Galarian Slowking's biggest strengths, which is its Assault Vest set's consistency against Iron Bundle: By having it in team preview, we can discourage its usage on the opponent's end in order to overload their team with a combination of Pokemon that is honestly really vulnerable to it.
★ SET ANALYSIS ★
EVs: 196 HP | 204 Atk | 4 Def | 4 SpD | 100 Spe
[191 | 198 | 116 | x | 121 | 113]
Extreme Speed | Earthquake | Encore | Roost
EVs: 196 HP | 204 Atk | 4 Def | 4 SpD | 100 Spe
[191 | 198 | 116 | x | 121 | 113]
Extreme Speed | Earthquake | Encore | Roost
Dragonite is a Pokemon that needs no introduction to anybody remotely familiar with Gen 9 Battle Stadium Singles. It's been the most used Pokemon in a vast majority of seasons and it frankly is showing no signs of slowing down until restricted Pokemon become legal. If you've read any of my team reports in the past, you probably know by now that my goal with this Pokemon is to always find the least Tera-reliant option that fits my team, which has honestly become easier in Regulation D because Urshifu's introduction makes its Dragon/Flying typing a lot more useful than before. Not that Tera-ing Dragonite is bad, mind you, but being able to play without that option opens up a lot more options for the rest of the team.
Something that I realized early on is that teams that are weak to physical Dragonite sets tend to lose to it even if it doesn't boost its attack stat further with Dragon Dance, which allows us to free up our remaining moveslots in favor of utility options. Dragon Dance Dragonite is obviously a very strong set, but on a team without Toxic Spikes, Stealth Rock or other support options for it, I felt that nobody was going to lose to it at the end of the season. However, I still wanted the option to revenge kill opposing threats with fast priority, hence the decision to go with Tera Normal + Extreme Speed on this team. Encore allows it to be played as a check to physically offensive Pokemon with setup options such as opposing Dragonite and Urshifu, while the other two moves are somewhat self-explanatory on a set like this.
The chosen EV spread is fairly simple to explain: Enough Speed to get the jump on Jolly Ursaluna (which has fallen off in popularity but is still a neat benchmark to shoot for), which allows us to soften it up by spamming Roost alongside Rocky Helmet until it gets a high damage roll with Facade. The Attack investment gives us a jump point while the bulk allows us to shrug off one Moonblast from Choice Specs Flutter Mane with Multiscale active. Looking back, it might not be the most optimal EV spread for the current format, but it also hasn't ever failed me either, so it hasn't felt like an urgent change to make.
EVs: 68 HP | 188 Def | 244 SpA | 4 SpD | 4 Spe
[179 | x | 124 | 177 | 131 | 51]
Sludge Bomb | Psychic | Grass Knot | Mud Shot
The Pokemon we chose to build with for this season of BSS. It wasn't perfect by any means, and once you use it for a bit it's pretty clear to see why its usage has steadily declined throughout Regulation D. To put it simply, it's a Pokemon that is commonly used as an Assault Vest frame that matches up rather poorly into a lot of the metagame's most common special attackers, such as Flutter Mane, Chi-Yu and Gholdengo. Because of that, and despite its positive Iron Bundle matchup, I decided that I wanted to use it as a breaker instead of a cushion, with the reason being that it is a very highly disruptive Pokemon against teams that rely on defensive Poison-type Pokemon and defensive Terastalization as their backbone, a big example of that being the Ting-Lu + Toxapex framework.
Grass Knot in tandem with Tera Grass lets Slowking do massive damage to Ting-Lu, even managing to grab the OHKO on sets with low Special Defense investment. Defensively, this Tera Type allows us to turn the weakness to Ground-type moves around, while also providing us with a resist to Surging Strikes and an immunity to Spore and Leech Seed, which goes a long way against Pokemon such as Breloom, Wo-Chien and Amoonguss. Psychic is used over Psyshock and Eerie Spell due to its ability to dispatch Toxapex in one blow over the former and higher PP and base power over the latter. Mud Shot was one of the very last changes to be made to the team. Initially, we had Trick as an option to provide us with higher flexibility against defensive teams, but the only time I ever clicked it in a match it was against a Blissey with Fling. Mud Shot was also not very useful in practice, but its theoretical niche against Glimmora + Chi-Yu, as well as Gholdengo, Heatran and Hisuian Goodra made it very appealing to me. In games where Slowking is unable to break the opponent's team, Mud Shot can also be used as a means of speed control for whatever is in the back.
The chosen EV spread aims to increase this Pokemon's consistency in face-to-face situations against common Rapid Strike Urshifu sets. This means that, with Tera, it can help handle Single Strike variants if need be. It also lives Jolly Chien-Pao's Sucker Punch 100% of the time, although that 1v1 is usually too risky to take. I wanted to use enough speed to get the jump on base 35 Pokemon, namely Garganacl and Dondozo, but unfortunately, both the bulk and the offensive investment were too important to pass up.
Ability: Flame Body
EVs: 132 HP | 4 Def | 52 SpA | 116 SpD | 204 Spe
[183 | x | 127 | 172 | 141 | 123]
Lava Plume | Heavy Slam | Earth Power | Tera Blast
Yes, I'm using Flame Body instead of Flash Fire again. Yes, even on Assault Vest Heatran. And yes, I do think it is better than Flash Fire by a considerable margin, at least until the opponent becomes aware of it. However, outside of rematches against people who had the misfortune of getting burned by Heatran that way, it was oftentimes too late by the time they realized that I was using a Heatran which takes neutral damage from opposing Fire-type moves. I even managed to 1v1 a Rotom-Heat that never once tried to click Overheat against this, which goes to show how Flame Body Heatran is, for all intents and purposes, a Pokemon with 2 abilities until Flame Body activates, which did not happen that much from my experience.
Lava Plume is used instead of Magma Storm for consistency purposes. One of the primary lessons that I learned from Season 8 is that Magma Storm is a terrible move, like a really bad one, and I'd honestly rather have a consistent means of damaging my opponent's Pokemon over what that option brings to the table. Plus, the amount of people that try using Heatran as setup fodder for physical attackers is so big that Lava Plume can often be a game-changer in the face of opposing Dragonite and Urshifu. Heavy Slam is used over Flash Cannon for its ability to dispatch most Flutter Mane variants in one blow, while Earth Power is somewhat self-explanatory.
What isn't self-explanatory, however, is our Tera choice on this Pokemon. I'm not even sure if Tera Electric was in Pokemon HOME's usage stats for Heatran until we started running it. Honestly, I'm addicted to Tera Electric Assault Vest Pokemon; I ran that on Ting-Lu last season and I also ran a Scizor with it this time around. This Heatran was originally Tera Grass, which wasn't bad by any means. However, Tera Flying + Tera Blast Dragonite is a very scary matchup for this team's slower modes, which is the primary reason why Electric was chosen here. It has other perks though, such as the ability to account for defensive Water Tera by the likes of Gholdengo and Flutter Mane, while also giving us a Thunder Wave immunity against the aforementioned Gholdengo and Dragonite, which goes a long way in games where the opponent's gameplan is reliant on that option.
Honestly not 100% sure what our defensive investment does anymore, but if I recall correctly it was for Rapid Strike Urshifu's Surging Strikes after Tera, while the HP and Special Defense cover Choice Specs Shadow Ball from Gholdengo and Flutter Mane. The Speed investment allows us to get the jump on Adamant Breloom and other Pokemon around that bracket, while the leftover EVs go to Special Attack for obvious reasons. It looks like a weak Heatran on paper, but I personally never felt like I was doing less damage to my opponents than required.
Ability: Unseen Fist
EVs: 4 HP | 252 Atk | 252 Spe
[176 | 200 | 120 | x | 80 | 149]
Swords Dance | Surging Strikes | Ice Spinner | Aqua Jet
From here on out, the Pokemon we have left to cover are all pretty unremarkable in theory, as they're on a vast majority of teams and everyone knows what they do. That is how it looks like, but I believe that we managed to give them a very unique and creative spin (pun intended) for the most part. This Urshifu was actually the slowest Swords Dance variant possible until the last day of the season. However, something I realized was that opposing Choice Scarf Urshifu became very popular at the very end. That, alongside the fact that our team was not that great at creating starting points off opposing Urshifu's defensive Tera meant that a change was necessary. This is why we opted for the fastest Adamant Urshifu possible, as that can not only come in on opposing Choice Scarf Urshifu after it has revenge killed Flutter Mane, but it's also able to swiftly dispatch Tera Poison and Tera Electric Urshifu that had to use their Tera defensively against Flutter Mane on the first hand.
A look at our set will raise a very important question in most BSS players' heads: "Pearl, why are you using Mystic Water on your Urshifu? It's gonna hurt its paws using Surging Strikes into Rocky Helmets!", which is extremely valid, and as much as I want to give an elaborate answer to that, it's a decision that I made on a whim. The idea behind it is that while I was watching Kiby's streams, I realized that a lot of people were EVing their Pokemon to survive Aqua Jets from this Pokemon with only a Swords Dance boost taken into account. What this means is that Mystic Water can throw people's gameplans off the rails, while also boosting Surging Strikes' power to a whole new level (and allowing it to bypass Protect). Similarly, Ice Spinner accounts for opposing Dragonite and Water Absorb Clodsire. Not having a Fighting-type move can be hurtful in the mirror match, but oftentimes it was too late before my opponent realized what was going on with my Urshifu.
Generic EV spread, just raw destruction and as much Speed as possible.
EVs: 4 HP | 252 SpA | 252 Spe
[131 | x | 75 | 187 | 155 | 205]
Moonblast | Shadow Ball | Taunt | Pain Split
This time I can finally say with confidence that I've managed to incorporate Flutter Mane into my team in a way that makes it a major contributor to our success rather than a team preview pressure point/secondary frame. While I didn't keep track of what Pokemon I brought the most to my games this season past the second draft of my team, I can confidently say that this Pokemon was the most picked out of my whole 6, which is a very nice change of pace comparatively to prior seasons.
The idea behind this set is to use the combination of Taunt + Pain Split as a means of softening up defensive counterplay to this Pokemon, more specifically defensive Tera usage by the likes of Dragonite and Ting-Lu. It can also be used to trade damage aggressively into lead Chien-Pao and Urshifu, because even if it loses the 1v1 we have 3 whole Pokemon with priority moves waiting in the back to wreak havoc. A line of play that I found myself opting into a lot was chipping Choice Scarf Landorus with Moonblast, switching out to Dragonite and doubling to Flutter Mane right away to get a Pain Split off on their Dragonite cushion, which would oftentimes fail to get the KO on the now fully regenerated Flutter Mane. It was also great at punishing Toxapex without offensive moves and Pokemon like Amoonguss that mainly resorted to clicking status moves on this Pokemon to neuter it. All in all, I'd say that it was a very solid answer to the lead metagame of Regulation D, aside from the fact that the proliferation of Choice Scarf Urshifu near the final day caused a lot of games to be a 2v3. Fortunately, this sequence often allows our own Urshifu to click Swords Dance unpunished, although the burden it puts on that Pokemon to clean house was often a little bit too much.
Cookie cutter EV spread. Tera Grass was something I theorized as a way to gain a resist to Earthquake, Wave Crash and Surging Strikes, but I don't think I have ever Tera'd Flutter Mane across all games I played with this team, as its low reliance on that option was a focal point of this team's success.
Ability: Sword of Ruin
EVs: 12 HP | 252 Atk | 116 Def | 4 SpD | 124 Spe
[157 | 189 | 115 | x | 86 | 171]
Swords Dance | Icicle Crash | Tera Blast | Ice Shard
Truth be told, this Chien-Pao was shamelessly stolen from Kiby. I've said this a lot and I want to say it again, but I'm grateful to the Korean BSS community for having given me a lot of inspiration and pointers to improve my teams throughout the months, and this is yet another result of their influence on my teambuilding. Although Lum Berry Chien-Pao is known to be a threat to bulkier squads, its main purpose on this team is actually to give us a consistent line of play into opposing Dragapult leads, which often try to open up the match with one of Thunder Wave or Will-O-Wisp. With Lum Berry and Ice Shard, Chien-Pao can swiftly create a 2-3 lead against that style of teams, while also serving as a very potent breaker and cleaner in other matchups, making it an extremely versatile Pokemon.
The other important thing this Pokemon does for us is narrowing down the opponent's selection, as it tends to force very specific counterplay out of them, or else they risk losing the game on the spot to Icicle Crash flinches and Sheer Cold connecting onto their Pokemon. Not that we're using that kind of Chien-Pao ourselves, but the threat of it is too big to be disrespected. Earlier this season, I was using a Tera Ghost Swords Dance Chien-Pao with more or less the same bulk and more speed. It was great at deterring opposing Dragonite, but it was very vulnerable to opposing Urshifu and strong physically defensive Pokemon like Dondozo. Tera Electric, Tera Blast and higher Attack investment allow us to circumvent this problem to a degree, while Swords Dance and Icicle Crash are this set's bread and butter of this set into most matchups.
EV spread gives us the highest damage output possible with enough defensive investment to live Life Orb Mimikyu's Play Rough + Shadow Sneak after Electric Tera has been used. It's likely that there was a better spread for this team, but similarly to what happened with Dragonite, I never felt the need to tweak it further, which is why it remained this way until the very end.
★ COMMON SELECTIONS ★
Unlike prior seasons, and like I already mentioned briefly before, I didn't keep track of my most commonly selected Pokemon throughout this squad's lifespan. Even though it goes against my BSS teambuilding philosophy a little, this team is very flexible when it comes to Pokemon selection, and I honestly believe that we managed to create an assembly of members that can be brought to matches somewhat equally.
+ + : Pure face-to-face gameplan, utilizing Flutter Mane to force the opponent's Tera early in the match, one of Urshifu or Chien-Pao to soften up the opponent's physically defensive Pokemon and the other to clean up with their strong attacks and reliable priority.
+ + : Aggressive cycle with Galarian Slowking, most commonly used against bulky lineups such as stall and Toxapex + Ting-Lu. Slowking is able to exert a lot of pressure on the first hand due to its positive Toxapex matchup, but realistically any of these 3 Pokemon can lead somewhat reliably against slower teams.
+ + 1: Hybrid selection between face-to-face and aggressive cycle, with the last Pokemon often being the primary source of offensive pressure (although it can also be Heatran depending on the situation).
+ 2: Alternative lead set up against teams featuring Dragapult or other Pokemon vulnerable to Lum Berry Chien-Pao, such as Hippowdon and Breloom. The last two Pokemon can be either the other face-to-face pieces or the team's aggressive cycle members depending on the rest of the opponent's squad.
★ THREAT LIST ★
: Commonly found on teams featuring defensive Pokemon that Slowking is meant to break down. However, its immunity to Psychic-type moves makes it awkward to click that in the face of Toxapex or Tera Poison Pokemon, especially when said Pokemon is Protect Garganacl, which can scout whatever move we're going for with Slowking in a reliable manner. Besides that, this is a team that's really vulnerable to its offensive moves, as most of the Pokemon that can tank Dark Pulses repeatedly are moving after it, therefore increasing the odds of flinches happening and completely ruining the match. This is one of the many Pokemon I wish I was able to prepare better countermeasures against.
: Meant to symbolize Single Strike Urshifu. Rapid Strike's Choice Scarf set is annoying, but it can still be dealt with to a degree. However, Single Strike is basically the second coming of Chi-Yu, as it can come in on Psychic-type moves and proceed to threaten our cushions with strong Dark-type moves from above, therefore foiling our gameplan against Pokemon such as Garganacl. It's a matchup that can be outplayed, especially since this Pokemon doesn't run Choice Scarf often, which means that our offensive pieces get to chunk it, but in general the person wielding this Pokemon is favored to break through the team's slower modes.
: Meant to symbolize structures featuring this Pokemon and not just Basculegion itself. While it can be dealt with by maneuvering smartly, it's a Pokemon that I believe I should've prepared for better in hindsight, as teams featuring reliable Stealth Rock users such as Annihilape made this thing extremely annoying to answer reliably, forcing 50/50 scenarios with Dragonite's Tera and in the case of rain teams forcing us to avoid multiple flinches from Waterfall if we do happen to read Last Respects correctly.
: Meant to symbolize Choice Band Flying Tera Blast users, so basically this and Dragonite. I would argue that Dragonite is the bigger threat between the two, but Landorus commonly finding itself on teams that Slowking is supposed to chunk creates a similar situation to what happens with Chi-Yu and Single Strike Urshifu, where we have to bring the team's slower mode into it and are forced into awkward positions because of that.
: Meant to symbolize offensive Electric-type Pokemon in general. More of a conscious decision than an accidental gap, and in hindsight I think this was a good decision, as I did not find many of these at the end of the season. However, Pokemon such as Regieleki, Magnezone and Thundurus-Therian pose a massive threat to all of our selections. We have multiple Pokemon that can Tera into Electric resists, so the usual game plan is to attempt to lure the opponent into a false sense of security and then snipe them through the use of defensive Terastalization.
★ MISCELLANEOUS CONSIDERATIONS ★
This is the part where I ramble about things related to this team and the format without a logical train of thought.
In hindsight, I think one of the biggest issues with this team was me being unaware of Choice Scarf Urshifu's surge (pun intended) in popularity, which caused our team to become shakier than intended against Big 6-esque builds. Choice Scarf Flutter Mane was considered as a fix to this, but the Ting-Lu matchup felt too scary to go through with that change. Similarly, I also thought about rebuilding for the final day with Iron Bundle and Single Strike Urshifu over Rapid Strike and Chien-Pao, but I couldn't quite find a way of incorporating them into my gameplan in a way that felt logical to me when taking into account the team's MO up until this point in time. For the next time, I want to make sure that I study alternative lines of play better to adjust more reliably to the format on the final day.
The other big issue I felt was having Slowking as a breaker against teams that featured heavy Pokemon for it, such as the aforementioned Chi-Yu, Landorus-Therian and even Chien-Pao. It was still a Pokemon that served me well, but the lack of flexibility against those teams made it so that my win rate against them was not as high as it should have been (though we still won a respectable amount of games against those lineups, and only missed out on a win in our last game of the season due to an Icicle Crash flinch). If I were to ever build with Galarian Slowking again, I would either try to create a more flexible set (such as Nasty Plot + Covert Cloak) in those matchups or prepare better cushions against Dark-type Pokemon, though off the top of my head, I'm not entirely sure how I would go about it.
For the next seasons of SV BSS, I want to try to be more secretive with my teams. Although I had a mild suspicion that this was happening before, this round I got undeniable confirmation that my opponents were keeping track of information regarding my team and making use of it for rematches. My goal with this statement isn't to talk down on this type of behavior, as I think it makes absolute sense for information to be treated with the importance it deserves to receive, but it means that if I want to push higher than my current level, I have to become conscious of this "metagame" as well and adjust accordingly.
Another thing I want to try to change is the way I approach team building in BSS. I talked about it briefly on Discord last night, but what I want to do is to conceive teams in a way that is more aware of lines of play rather than covering specific threats in isolation. What I mean by this is that one of my possible limitations this season was the fact that I tried to "solve" the lead metagame in a very rigid way by attempting to find Pokemon that could beat all of the most common Pokemon by themselves, even though such thing would be on every team in the first place if it truly existed (even similar solutions such as Sigma's Hatterene are prone to Sheer Cold Chien-Pao and Heavy Slam Offensive Ting-Lu for example). Next time, I'll instead try to be more flexible in how I gameplan around the most common teams, attempting to find more consistent ways of playing matchups while utilizing more Pokemon instead of trying to search for the "ideal" sole solution (this would be Hisuian Avalugg if its moves were accurate, but sadly that is not the case).
Something that I've been preaching for a while on Discord is that ultimately BSS is a format where each person attempts to "get the most value out of the best Pokemon available". This is a sentiment that I've seen a lot on Japanese Twitter as well, and I think it's an aspect that has to be taken into account when building in this metagame. This is something that should be obvious to most people, even those who don't play the format, but in a metagame that evolves on what is pretty much a daily basis, it becomes really hard to gauge what the absolute best set for each Pokemon is in practice.
★ CONCLUSION ★
It feels wrong to write shoutouts (or even write this much about a single team) when I still haven't quite hit my goal yet. However, part of me believes that it's important to celebrate the small milestones and the people who have been helping me on my journey to become the best I can be. With that in mind, I'd like to thank the Smogon BSS community for their continuous support, especially Photon Bachy and Tachipoyo for constantly putting up with my ramblings and metagame thoughts, as well as Theorymon, DerpySuX and TheDarknessMadeFlesh for helping me out with many of the preparations I needed to get my teams ready on cartridge. Would also like to show my appreciation for Kiby and the people in his Discord server for letting me to incorporate their knowledge onto my own teams.