SM LC my first rmt [peak: 1385!!]

big shoutout to monomite for the artwork
-- Introduction --
Hi, I'm OP! If you don't know me, I'm a Room Owner in the LC PS room, moderator of LC C&C, and I played for the Tigers in the last two SPLs. For the first time in my 3+ years of competitive Pokemon, I've finally made a team that I liked enough to RMT. I particularly love this team because it's one of my most successful teams ever and it showcases a few sets that I feel are dramatically underused and underprepared for. With that, let's get into it.

-- Teambuilding --
I originally built this for my Week 8 SPL match against Star, so to better show what I was going for, here's a snippet of my scouting report against him:

As you can see by the first, fourth, and fifth columns, I definitely wanted to use something that would punish his overuse of Fighting-, Grass-, and Water-types. This led me to build my team around Grassium Z Ponyta and Nasty Plot Vullaby.

Next up, I knew that I'd absolutely need hazard control so I deliberated between using Staryu or Kabuto as they're the most consistent spinners. I had Grass-types covered really well, would appreciate a bird check, and knew that it could be tough to later fit rocks on this team, so I went with Kabuto.

At this point, I needed to start working on a defensive backbone to actually switch into and check anything because of the very offensive nature of Ponyta and Vullaby along with the limited capabilities of Kabuto. Fighting-types and Abra/Gastly were a huge priority, so I added Snubbull and Alolan Grimer.

Lastly, I needed something to help my Dwebble offense matchup, an Onix/Kabuto check, something to switch into Pawniard, and my last pokemon definitely couldn't be weak to Magnemite or Chinchou. Fast Taunt Mienfoo seemed like the obvious choice to fit that criteria. It also gave me a way to consistently Knock Off Fairy- and Poison-types which could be nuisances.

-- Sets --

Item: Grassium Z
| Ability: Flame Body
EVs: 236 Atk / 76 SpA / 196 Spe | Naive Nature
Moves: Flame Charge / Flare Blitz / Solar Beam / Hypnosis
I feel this Ponyta set is pretty underrated; Only myself and Kingler12345 used it in SPL and I haven't seen it in seasonal much at all, though it is catching on a little bit. Fire + Grass coverage is phenomenal, largely because all of the common Ponyta checks are weak to Grass. I use Flame Charge to give me a chance at sweeping, to stop Scarfers from revenging, and to outspeed Staryu, Diglett, and Elekid. Hypnosis is a great move to ease prediction and it allows Ponyta to still keep up offensive pressure after using the Z-move. The EV spread is to just maximize my offensive capabilities. I'd almost never use Ponyta to switch into anything and I needed my moves to hit hard to break through teams, so I didn't think investing into bulk would be worthwhile. A lot of people like to use a special set when they use Grassium Z with Fire Blast or Flamethrower, but I wanted the damage and accuracy of Flare Blitz. It also lets me somewhat bluff that I'm Eviolite and investing into attack makes Flame Charge a bit stronger. Investing into Special Attack might seem useless when Z-Solar Beam will OHKO Onix and Kabuto anyway, but I found Slowpoke, Mareanie, and Skrelp to be fairly annoying and it allows me to deal with them at higher ranges of HP. It's also sometimes relevant against Defensive Staryu. I opted for a Naive nature over a Hasty one because I thought that taking less damage from Timburr's Mach Punch, Pawniard's Sucker Punch/Knock Off, Doduo's Quick Attack, Snubbull, and various Knock Offs I might switch into would be more important than taking less damage from Croagunk's Vacuum Wave, Elekid, and Foongus Sludge Bombs.

Item: Berry Juice
| Ability: Weak Armor
EVs: 36 HP / 240 SpA / 196 Spe | Modest Nature
Moves: Air Slash / Heat Wave / Hidden Power [Grass] / Nasty Plot​

This is just the extremely standard NP Vullaby set with one change: HP Grass over Dark Pulse. I feel that HP Grass is generally the better move and should be used much more often than it is. Here's the differences between the moves that I've thought of:

The main thing to take away is that HP Grass is better against Onix, Kabuto, Omanyte, and Tirtouga but a little worse against Slowpoke, Abra, Gastly, and Elekid. Almost everyone opts for Dark Pulse which seems kinda crazy when looking at the benefits and how common Onix/Kabuto are.

Item: Eviolite
| Ability: Weak Armor
EVs: 116 HP / 36 Atk / 36 Def / 156 SpD / 156 Spe | Careful Nature
Moves: Rock Slide / Knock Off / Stealth Rock / Rapid Spin​

There's not much special about this Kabuto set. I opted for more bulk, particularly in Special Defense, over Attack so that it would be a better check to NP Vullaby and Gastly. It also helps against Magnemite, Chinchou, Staryu, and Non-Energy Ball Abra. I chose Rock Slide over other alternatives like Aqua Jet or Waterfall because this is my primary check to Flying-types and being able to significantly damage them, particularly Vullaby, is important for this team.

Item: Berry Juice
| Ability: Intimidate
EVs: 36 HP / 196 Atk / 36 Def / 36 SpD / 196 Spe | Adamant Nature
Moves: Play Rough / Fire Punch / Thief / Substitute​

Big shoutout to Berks, pretty sure he made this set first. The idea behind running a fast substitute on Snubbull is that it allows you to get free subs against Fighters, gives you a chance of beating Foongus, eases prediction against switches, and lets you avoid slow status users like WoW Pumpkaboo and Thunder Wave Snubbull. It also lets you pop your own Berry Juice to heal back to full and enable Thief. I feel you have to use Fire Punch and Thief if running Substitute rather than things like Thunder Wave or Earthquake because they take best advantage of the Substitute. As mentioned before, this team was intended for use against Star and I thought the chance of him using Foongus was way higher than any chance of bringing Mareanie or other Earthquake targets, which further incentivized me to use Fire Punch. The biggest problem I faced when using this set as opposed to the standard set is that I had to keep it healthier against Shellder teams because this is my primary check to it and the reduced EVs in defense significantly increase Shellder's damage to Snubbull.

Item: Eviolite
| Ability: Poison Touch
EVs: 36 HP / 196 Atk / 196 Def / 36 SpD | Adamant Nature
Moves: Knock Off / Gunk Shot / Pursuit / Shadow Sneak​

Very standard Alolan Grimer whose main job is to just Pursuit threats to the team. Now that Counter Abra has risen in popularity, this team struggles a bit against Abra teams, particularly if they have both Abra and Gastly. Whenever you put A-Grimer on a team, the first thing to consider is Fire Blast vs. Shadow Sneak. Pawniard and Ferroseed are thoroughly checked on this team and using Fire Blast to hit them would be super redundant. Set-up sweepers can be a bit of a pain and the extra priority helps against them. This team is also a bit slow; I have no Scarfers and Ponyta can't revenge everything, so again, Shadow Sneak is the better choice there. Fire Blast would help against Counter Abra, Croagunk, and Pumpkaboo-Super, but I thought the benefits of Shadow Sneak were more useful.

Item: Eviolite
| Ability: Regenerator
EVs: 196 Def / 36 SpD / 236 Spe | Jolly Nature
Moves: High Jump Kick / Knock Off / U-turn / Taunt
As I mentioned in the teambuilding, part of why I chose Mienfoo was to help my matchup against Dwebble, so I had to be the fast Taunt set. Taunt also helps against other annoyances to the team like Shellder, Foongus, and Sewaddle webs. I decided to use High Jump Kick over Drain Punch mostly because I think it's the far better move in most situations. Drain Punch is super weak and the recovery isn't usually worth the power discrepancy. Sometimes you miss and you lose, but that's pokemon.

-- Successes --
Me vs. Star, SPL Week 8 - This is what I built the team for and it worked out well, giving me a good matchup with a lot of suprise factor. Both HP Grass Vullaby and Subbull really shined in this matchup.

tko vs. Heysup, LC Seasonal Round 4 - Heysup had no answers for the Ponyta set and it wreaked havoc, eventually cleaning up in the late game.

miltankmilk vs. papai noel, LC Seasonal Round 4 - A pretty wild battle with luck on both sides. This game shows one of the weak points of this team, dual fighter teams, and the importance of keeping Snubbull healthy against them.

Akashi vs. Bouki, LC Seasonal Round 7 - No idea how Akashi got my team, but I saw him use it and win!

Me vs. naruto(sage), Trigger Warning Tour Round 1 - The ruleset for this tour wasn't very different from standard LC with the only change being that Timburr and A-Vulpix were not allowed, so I felt comfortable bringing this team. The Ponyta set let me break through Slowpoke and clean up the game from there.

I also used this team to get my reqs for the Vulpix suspect:

-- Threatlist --
- Abra and Gastly teams, especially those using Counter and Destiny Bond, can be very tough to handle because A-Grimer is the only good check to them. You generally have to play very offensively and put yourself into a position to heavily damage their team with Ponyta or Vullaby before Abra and Gastly punch too many holes in the team.

- Both LO and Scarf Bunnelby can be huge nuisances for the team. The biggest forms of counter play are keeping Snubbull/Mienfoo healthy and not switching Kabuto in on an Earthquake.

- If you don't manage to lure Chinchou with Ponyta, it can put a lot of work in because this team doesn't have any Water or Electric resists. Against Berry Juice sets I try to make double switches into Mienfoo or Grimer to Knock Off. Against Scarf versions, if you can pursuit it with A-Grimer, it becomes a lot easier to handle. The ideal scenario is to lure it with Ponyta though.

- The lack of Water resistances also makes Corphish a huge threat. Ponyta can live an Aqua Jet from 100% and the other mons can heavily damage or win against it in a 1v1 situation. You can also switch Snubbull into it if you have to.

- Mixed/Physical Croagunk sets are generally fairly easy to handle, but Nasty Plot can do a ton of damage to this team. Taunt Mienfoo, fast Snubbull, and Vullaby make it definitely managable, but still tough to deal with. A-Grimer can wear it down a bit if absolutely necessary or if it's not very helpful in the matchup.

- If Doduo or Rufflet manage to land a Fighting-type move on Kabuto, they become huge threats. Snubbull can also somewhat check them, but it's not ideal. Threatening the Scarf sets out with A-Grimer and using Pursuit can help a ton, as does keeping up SR.

- Scarf Drilbur threatens a ton of the team and the only switch-ins that can work are Snubbull and Vullaby. The most important thing to do against Drilbur teams is to not let it revenge kill Ponyta by using Flame Charge when you can.

- Elekid is another mon you just have to keep up offensive pressure against. Try to always use Flame Charge with Ponyta and get Weak Armor boosts with Vullaby so it can't revenge them. Like other threats to the team, forcing it out with A-Grimer and getting pursuit damage on it makes it a lot more manageable.

- BJ or Eviolite Magnemite are pretty easily handled, but Scarf is super hard to play against. Similar to Elekid, using Flame Charge and getting Weak Armor boosts are very important to stop it from revenging Ponyta and Vullaby. You just have to keep up the offensive pressure and hope it doesn't tear through too much.

- Mareanie and Skrelp can be tough to break through. Generally, the switch-in is Kabuto and getting hazard control or using Knock Off. Hypnosis on Ponyta helps a load against them, but you better pray you don't miss. Taunt on Mienfoo is useful to prevent Recover from Mareanie or Rest from Skrelp. Bloom Doom often doesn't work that well against these two because they'll be playing around Wild Charge if they think you're Eviolite, and its damage is pretty weak if they still have their Eviolite. Play aggressively and make double switches to Kabuto or A-Grimer when you can.

- Dual fighter teams can be tough to handle because Snubbull is the only good switchin to either of them. Once Snubbull gets worn down, there isn't a whole lot that can stop Mienfoo stop spamming HJK. You have to keep up pressure against the Timburr and try to not use Snubbull as a switchin to it. As a last resort, Vullaby can live a non-Reckless HJK from Mienfoo.

- Rest Talk Mudbray can wall every member of the team other than Vullaby if you use up Ponyta's Z-Move. It's really important to lure it or pressure the opposing team enough that it can't use Rest. Scarf sets are also tough to deal with, but definitely a lot easier, especially if you get a Knock Off off on it.

- There's about nothing you can do if they manage to set up Shell Smash Omanyte against you, but HP Grass Vullaby and Grassium Ponyta make it easier to lure it in and give it only A-Grimer and Kabuto to set up on. Luckily, literally nobody uses Omanyte.

- There aren't any great switch-ins to Staryu on the team, making it a big threat, especially with a Life Orb. Luring it with Ponyta is really important, otherwise Mienfoo is the most reliable answer on the team, which is obviously far from ideal.

- LO Torchic sets can be really hard to deal with, but every member of the team can beat it 1v1 apart from Kabuto and Snubbull. Kabuto and Snubbull often carry Aqua Jet and Earthquake respectively, so the Torchic user typically won't be able to take advantage of those two out of fear of those.

-- Conclusion --
I think the Ponyta and Vullaby sets are super underrated and I encourage people to try them out more. If you feel like using this team, keep in mind that it partially relies on the surprise factor and can be less effective when your opponent knows the sets. It's also important to play aggressively with it, especially in bad matchups. Thanks for reading! :toast:

Ponyta @ Grassium Z
Ability: Flame Body
Level: 5
EVs: 236 Atk / 76 SpA / 196 Spe
Naive Nature
- Flame Charge
- Flare Blitz
- Solar Beam
- Hypnosis

Mienfoo @ Eviolite
Ability: Regenerator
Level: 5
EVs: 196 Def / 36 SpD / 236 Spe
Jolly Nature
- High Jump Kick
- Knock Off
- U-turn
- Taunt

Grimer-Alola @ Eviolite
Ability: Poison Touch
Level: 5
EVs: 36 HP / 196 Atk / 196 Def / 36 SpD
Adamant Nature
- Knock Off
- Gunk Shot
- Pursuit
- Shadow Sneak

Snubbull @ Berry Juice
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 5
EVs: 36 HP / 196 Atk / 36 Def / 36 SpD / 196 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Play Rough
- Thief
- Fire Punch
- Substitute

Kabuto @ Eviolite
Ability: Weak Armor
Level: 5
EVs: 116 HP / 36 Atk / 36 Def / 156 SpD / 156 Spe
Careful Nature
- Knock Off
- Rock Slide
- Stealth Rock
- Rapid Spin

Vullaby @ Berry Juice
Ability: Weak Armor
Level: 5
EVs: 36 HP / 240 SpA / 196 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 30 SpA
- Air Slash
- Heat Wave
- Hidden Power [Grass]
- Nasty Plot
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