VGC Tournament Report - Athens, GA 2015
I've been playing Pokémon competitively since 4th gen, but I've never made it out to an official tournament until the end of May 2015. I traveled 11 hours from central Pennsylvania to Athens, Georgia with the Penn State Pokémon Society, and I was very excited to make the trip with some extremely talented players. In this article, I will do an analysis of each of my 8 matches including my opponent's team, their strategy, what I did well, and what I didn't do so well. But first, let's take a look at the team I brought to the table.
I did a lot of preparation for my first regional competition, and I'm really excited about my team. When I began the team building process, I knew I wanted to use something that wasn't standard. I started to look at past VGC winning strategies and build from that, and I really liked the TopOgre core that was popular in 5th gen championships. Since Kyogre is banned, I decided to try out scarf Wailord with Water Spout. Unfortunately, Wailord just wasn't powerful enough for me, so I considered other Water Spout/Eruption options. I decided to give Mega Camerupt a try, but quickly learned that Heat Wave was a better option than Eruption due to his Sheer Force ability and general longevity. So, the first member of my team became
Camerupt @ Cameruptite
Quiet, Sheer Force, 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA
- Heat Wave
- Earth Power
- Ancient Power
Pretty common Camerupt set here, nothing too fancy. With 165 base SpA, Sheer Force, and STAB on two of its moves, Camerupt is one of the most powerful threats in the metagame. It has respectable bulk and great coverage, threatening to OHKO opposing mega evolutions such as Charizard-Y, Mawile, and Metagross. In practice, I found that Camerupt often surprised opponents with its sheer power, OHKOing things like Aegislash-Shield (252 HP / 4 SpD) with Earth Power and Mega Metagross with its spread Heat Wave. Camerupt is also bulky enough to survive most Landorus-T Earthquakes and Heatran Earth Powers. With base 20 speed, however, Camerupt needed Trick Room support.
Smeargle @ Focus Sash
Timid, Moody, 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
- Spiky Shield
- Wide Guard
- Dark Void
- Trick Room
I played around with my Trick Room setter longer than anything else, and Smeargle was my favorite. I tried Sassy Cresselia and Sassy Frisk Dusknoir, but decided they weren't threatening enough to my opponents and couldn't give Camerupt the same support that Smeargle could. Smeargle often scared opponents into attacking it first, and between Spiky Shield and a surprise Wide Guard, he was able to buy Camerupt a lot of extra turns to attack in the tournament. I run max speed on Smeargle to maximize the chance of outspeeding something with Dark Void, which might allow me to get Trick Room up the following turn. This was particularly helpful when playing against teams with a lot of bulky builds, as Smeargle was able to get Dark Void off at the beginning of turn 1, then turn Camerupt into the quickest Pokémon on the field with Trick Room. Smeargle's Moody boosts also threw another wildcard into each match, which caused my opponent to react to completely random boosts, while I was more prepared for what I needed to do with each +2 and -1.
Cradily @ Sitrus Berry
Sassy, Storm Drain, 252 HP / 4 SpA / 252 SpD
- Giga Drain
- Ancient Power
Camerupt only has 2 weaknesses, water and ground, but its water weakness is a x4, so I decided it could use a little extra support. While I thought Storm Drain would be more obvious to my opponents, it caught a lot of people off guard because it's not something they prepared for. My biggest regret with Cradily is not running Earth Power over Recover, which could have won me an extra game in the tournament. With Sitrus Berry, Recover isn't as necessary as coverage. I decided to run Cradily over Gastrodon because Cradily covers both of Camerupt's weaknesses. Giga Drain does especially well against the likes of Suicune after stealing a +1 boost from a predictable Scald.
Hitmontop @ Life Orb
Adamant, Intimidate, 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def
- Fake Out
- Mach Punch
- Wide Guard
- Close Combat
Hitmontop was extremely important for this team because of its extreme versatility. It provides Fake Out to limit the number of opponents that can attack on a given turn. Intimidate support cripples common physical sweepers, often forcing them to switch out, which gives Camerupt a free attack. A second Wide Guard user further limits the amount of Earthquakes that Camerupt will take, and it renders Specs Sylveon useless late game when it is locked into Hyper Voice. Mach Punch OHKOs Bisharp, and with Fake Out, even Defiant Focus Sash Bisharps are unable to attack. Because Sucker Punch is illegal in 6th gen VGC (5th gen transfer only move), Hitmontop is unable to hit Ghost types. Fortunately though, Camerupt is able on OHKO almost every Ghost type. Camerupt OHKOs other Pokémon that Hitmontop can't hit, such as Charizard, Talonflame, and Metagross. In return, Hitmontop can OHKO many of Camerupt's threats, such as Mega Kangaskhan, Heatran, and Hydreigon. Hitmontop pairs well with Smeargle as leads because Fake Out can allow Smeargle to hit with Dark Void or set up Trick Room.
Aegislash @ Weakness Policy
Adamant, Stance Change, 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
- King's Shield
- Swords Dance
- Iron Head
- Shadow Sneak
Oh my gosh, a physical Aegislash! This team effectively catches my opponents off guard, and Aegislash is no exception. Iron Head was crucial to take down common Fairy types that have a naturally high SpD stat. Shadow Sneak provides an extra priority move and one more tool to hit the Ghost types that Hitmontop can't touch. I chose Swords Dance over Sacred Sword because Hitmontop provides plenty of Fighting type support, and Swords Dance can provide me a free turn of setup when I'm expecting a Protect or Sucker Punch. Swords Dance also helps against Cresselia, as nothing but Camerupt hits Cresselia very hard, and Cresselia typically can't touch Aegislash-Shield.
Sylveon @ Choice Specs
Quiet, Pixelate, 252 HP / 252 SpA / 6 SpD
The final member of my team was just a standard Sylveon. While many people run Hidden Power Ground, I opted for Hyper Beam because Sylveon is often used late game and might need the OHKO. I did run into some Heatran trouble with Sylveon in the tournament, but I think with the recent addition of Earth Power onto Cradily, I won't need the Hidden Power option on Sylveon. Sylveon's main use is to hit everything Camerupt can't, most notably Dragons. Mega Salamence and Hydreigon are common threats, and Sylveon can decimate both. Sylveon can also eliminate popular Fighting Pokémon such as Conkeldurr, Gallade, Hitmontop, and Hariyama. Shadow Ball hits threats like Mega Gengar, Mega Metagross, and Cresselia for notable damage. Psyshock is necessary for Mega Venusaur, as the team doesn't have anything else that hits quite as hard against it.
Game 1 vs Logan Jenkins
My first match was against Logan, who led with Talonflame and Terrakion. He probably expected me to start Hitmontop/Smeargle, but I opted for Camerupt instead of Hitmontop. I tried to setup Trick Room on the first turn, but Terrakion double kicked Smeargle and got the KO. Talonflame opted for Tailwind, which, in my opinion, was a poor call against my low base speed team. I ended the first turn by OHKOing Talonflame with an Ancient Power from Camerupt. He went into Kangaskhan and I went for Hitmontop, which was an easy matchup for me. He was able to knock out Hitmontop, but he lost both of his Pokémon in the process. His last Pokémon was Aegislash against Camerupt and Cradily. He tried to stall out, but was unsuccessful after I pretended to run out of PP with Earth Power and started to attack with Heat Wave. He threw a Shadow Ball at Camerupt and crossed his fingers that I would miss, but I gave it another Earth Power and won the game.
Game 2 vs Matthew Holley
I was feeling pretty confident coming into this battle, though Matthew did have a few Pokémon that do well against my team such as Landorus, Heatran, and Milotic. Matthew had a combination of good plays, hax, and general luck to win this game. I remember flinching from Rock Slide, missing with Heat Wave, protecting with Camerupt and having Cradily double-targeted by Heatran and Terrakion (either would have been an easy OHKO for Earth Power), getting Milotic down to 3 health with an Earth Power, and both Milotic and Heatran waking up first turn after a Dark Void to finish off the game. It was an extremely frustrating game for me, but such is life. Pokémon is a game of prediction, and Matthew called me out on three different turns to keep the game always in his favor.
Game 3 vs William Collins
There wasn't a lot about William's team that threatened me, and I got some hax in my favor to make this the quickest game of the tournament. The game lasted 4 turns, two of which included a critical hit Heat Wave by Camerupt and one turn that Smeargle dodged a Kangaskhan return after Moody evasion boost. Even without the hax though, Camerupt alone could OHKO three out of the six Pokémon he could bring, and I didn't expect this game to cause my team many issues anyway. After this match, the Masters division went out for a quick lunch break.
Game 4 vs Kyle Ayala
My opponent was changed in this round to a guy that I had met briefly before the tournament. I remember doing some team building with him beforehand, so he was familiar with a good chunk of my team. He didn't give me any information on his team just in case we were matched up in the room of 255 people, so I was pretty nervous to be matched up with him. Regardless, I knew his team was slow so I brought Smeargle with plans to spam Dark Void from the get-go. I never intended to go for Trick Room in this game, figuring if Kyle wanted to set it up, Camerupt would still be the quickest Pokémon on the field, and if not, I'd rely on Wide Guard and Fake Out support to guard Camerupt. He ran taunt on his Hydreigon, so I didn't get Dark Void out right away, but Camerupt took care of business in this game. I remember Smeargle getting some clutch Moody boosts as well, such as +Evasion to dodge a Dark Pulse and +Speed to outspeed Hydreigon for Dark Void. Kyle played a good game, but I took a 2-0 victory in the end.
Game 5 vs Ryan Pinney
I was a little nervous to battle another 4-1 opponent considering I got hax in my last 2 games. While I like to be confident in my abilities, I'm always a little on edge about how good I actually am. I suffer from chronic imposter syndrome. Anyway, I started off the game with Camerupt and Smeargle as usual and my opponent started Gastrodon and Klefki. I opted to switch Smeargle for Cradily and used Earth Power against my opponent's Klefki. Klefki got the Prankster Thunder Wave off on the Cradily, but Cradily absorbed a Scald. Camerupt OHKOed the Klefki with Earth Power, effectively ruining my opponent's strategy. He told me after the game that he tries to use Klefki for speed control and runs bulkier sets on all of his Pokémon. It was an interesting strategy, but I don't think it is very effective because of how frail Klefki is. Out of all of the teams I faced in this tournament, I think this one was the least threatening in team preview, and I expected to win this game solely based on team builds. I won this game 3-0, and I was really excited with the direction this tournament was going.
Game 6 vs Russell Hewitt
Russell led the game with Thundurus and Suicune, and I opted, again, for Camerupt and Smeargle. I swapped out Smeargle for Cradily on the first turn as I often do, predicting a Taunt/Scald. I got exactly what I expected, and Camerupt hit Suicune hard with an Earth Power. I wasn't at all threatened by the Thundurus, and I made a bold prediction the 2nd turn that largely cost me the game. I was expecting a Suicune protect because I had a +1 Cradily on the field, so I double-targeted the Thundurus slot with two Ancient Powers hoping for Russell to switch to Salamence. He kept Thundurus in, and after it paralyzed my Cradily I took it down with ease. The problem came from his Suicune, which decided to Calm Mind instead of Protect. Uh-oh. He sent in Porygon-2 in place of Thundurus, which meant all I succeeded in doing the second turn was helping him remove the dead weight from his team and giving him a free turn to set up. I thought Suicune might protect again the next turn, so I targeted Porygon-2 with Earth Power and Suicune with Giga Drain just to be on the safe side. Suicune opted for Snarl and hit first, making Camerupt do around 50% to Porygon-2 and preventing Cradily from getting the KO on Suicune. Porygon-2 started setting up by doing chip damage with Charge Beam, and I started to get nervous. After a second Snarl and a Porygon-2 Recovery, I had to start switching out. I went into Sylveon and Suicune continued to Snarl and Porygon-2 resumed Charge Beaming. Sylveon was at -2 Special Attack before it could hit with Hyper Voice, and even though Suicune's HP was in the red I couldn't KO it (recall Suicune was also +1 SpD). I eventually beat his Suicune, but it cost me all but Cradily. With Mega Salamence in the back, I had no choice but to stall out the last minute hoping for a miracle, but none came. Russell took game 6, and I couldn't help but kick myself for not double-targeting Suicune instead of Thundurus on turn 2. A bold prediction cost me where a safe play likely would have given me the win.
Game 7 vs Justin Miller
Game 7 was a tough one with Excadrill and Milotic being huge threats to my Camerupt. If I was to win this game, I'd have to play extremely smart, but based on team preview, the odds weren't in my favor. Justin played smart to back me into a corner early, though Cradily did get a +1 boost from Milotic's Scald again. Milotic and Cradily fought for a little while between Ice Beams, Giga Drains, and Cradily Recovers. Camerupt got hit by an Excadrill Earthquake at some point, leaving it at very low health. I was taken by surprise when Milotic finished off both Cradily and Camerupt with an Icy Wind, knowing that it also had Ice Beam. At some point, Justin had me down to just my Hitmontop and (I think) Smeargle. But I called him out on two Protects and turned the game around in my favor. The game ended 1-0 in the closest match of the tournament for me. Justin promised to do his best in Game 8 to give me the best chance of making Top Cut, but I would have to win my own Game 8 to even have a chance.
Game 8 vs Brian Lewis
My final match of the tournament against Brian began with a scary team preview. Heatran and Ludicolo are two serious threats to my team. Ludicolo forces my hand with Cradily, and seeing Clefairy made me want to bring Aegislash. I haven't seen Ludicolo without Politoed before, so I wasn't sure how I wanted to handle it. Typically I bring Sylveon to deal with that combination, but now that Politoed isn't in the picture and based on his highly threatening team, I needed to predict which Pokémon my opponent wanted to bring. I wasn't overly concerned with Scizor, though I did have to be cautious about the switch into Heatran. I wasn't sure if he was running Scizor or Latias as his Mega because both are more common in their standard forms.
Brian led with Latias and Ludicolo against my Smeargle and Camerupt. I didn't have anything to handle the Latias really, and I switched Smeargle out for Cradily as it mega evolved and used Calm Mind. Great. The second turn Psyshock onto Camerupt did massive damage, and I didn't really have an answer for it after he double-targeted Smeargle. I think Brian won the game 3-0 in my worst match of the day. Looking back, I should have led with Hitmontop/Smeargle to get the Fake Out/Trick Room, then Dark Void as I switched into Sylveon. In seeing a team with so many checks to mine, it really just came down to picking the right Pokémon to enter in the battle and the right Pokémon to start with. He chose right. I chose wrong. That's about all there was to it. Brian played smart and had no trouble getting this win over me, and my chances of Top Cut were gone.
While the tournament didn't go as well as I had hoped, I did have a lot of fun playing with a team that wasn't extremely standard, and I felt that with more preparation and better knowledge of my own team, I definitely could have made Top Cut. I lost to two Calm Mind teams, which isn't very common, though my team certainly wasn't well enough equipped to handle them. This was my first VGC experience, and I hope to make that the first of many. I got a trip to Georgia with some new friends, a day to tour around the beautiful city of Athens, and a day to share one of my favorite hobbies with like-minded people. This trip was the most fun I've had in a long time, and I look forward to the next time I get to travel to a competition with friends!