Surging to Victory

A VGC Journey!

Hi friends! Since I likely won’t be playing in anymore S10 events, I thought I should talk about what I used to get top 8 in Desafio’s Mystical Fire Cup, as well as the VGC journey thus far. While I personally don’t think I meet the criteria to make a team report due to my month and a half streak of x-3 finishes at large events, a lot of people have been asking about the teams I’ve been using and even making a team report! So before I start, I’d like to thank the community for welcoming me in. This will contain a warstory of the teams used so far since I believe all are connected in many ways, so if you would like to skip that, feel free to skip to the team itself!!

I was a fan of the series and video games for as long as I remember, but the first game I owned was Pokemon Pearl. I started playing in VGC 2 months after Pachirisu took the world by storm, and I remember getting so hyped about playing competitively that I would start rewatching sets from the World Championships from 2012 to 2014. At the time, I was in middle school, but I had hoped that I would be able to make a name for myself in the community.

VGC ‘15 (Top 500 on Showdown)

2015 was honestly a really cool format in my opinion. There was a lot of diversity (other than the Top 8 at Worlds that year), but I spent time using almost every Mega available, and asked as many of the High Profile players I could on Nugget Bridge for advice with the game. Eventually, since I was too young to drive and thus was unable to compete in irl events, I decided to make a shot at the Nuggetbridge Invitational and top the Ladder. I was unable to do the first one (but earned my invite for Littleroot Lesson’s Invitational!!!), and accomplished the second one years later. I always look back on this format for ideas, which is both good and bad for reasons I’ll be explaining soon.

My Favorite team to use by far was a team composing of Mixed LO Infernape/Substitute Metagross/Rotom-W/Amoonguss/Scarf Mixed Tyranitar/Mixed Landorus-I that was able to reach the high 1700’s, which was impressive in my eyes since I had just started playing earlier that season. It was a team with differing speed tiers that focused on stealing momentum quickly, with enough tools to reposition and recover from smart plays made by the opponent. I stayed active in the community from 2014-2017, where I decided it was best to take a break because I didn’t have the money nor transportation to play in events. However, the general idea of teams remained the same.

Series 8 (5th place in New Years Invitational 2021, Players Cup)

During 2020, I always joked about never being able to buy a switch due to my poor spending tendencies, but one night, my friends took me to buy a switch that my friend who was working at the time reserved for me the day I got my check. I decided to get SWSH, just for fun. During my 24 hour playthrough, I picked up Ash’s Pikachu from the event that was going on, and ended up with a team that sorely reminded me of that team from 2015.

(F/W/G Core, Pivots, Potential Fake Out, Potential Disruption through Encore, Priority, Potential Speed Control with Ranging Speed Tiers.)

After losing some very terrible games against my friend who had been trying to pick up VGC, I decided to get back into it, and take the last weeks of Series 7 in an attempt to relearn the new mechanics as well as getting as many TM’s as possible while hoping to recreate that team in a new format.

This format definitely was extremely tough to get into because I couldn’t adjust fast enough from the changes made since Sun and Moon. I eventually made a team with Reshiram, Urshifu-Dark, and Thundurus-I after getting inspiration from Wooli’s Top 16 team in the Hatterene Series 2 tournament, attempting to adapt my 2015 team from back then to have an easier time transitioning to Gen 8...It was very Hyper Offensive, designed to OHKO or 2HKO the entire format with Whimsicott to stay fast, as well as Amoonguss and Taunt to give ways to survive against Trick Room. I personally didn’t like this team because I felt it did not have enough tools to play against Zacian, and not having enough tools to beat the most common restricted usually spells disaster against smart players. My tournament run in MegaUmbreon’s event was incredibly fun with a 5-1 start, but after losing in Top 8 due to missing 5 out of 6 Iron Tails as well as getting flinched 3 times by Rock Slide and missing a very crucial Hydro Pump, I knew I’d need to get better to avoid those situations outright. I would need to use a team that allowed for more repositioning and more speed.

I don’t feel like I need to go into depth about my Player’s Cup experience because I needed to win 11 of my last 15 to make it in but accidentally hit the power button one game and got DC’d the next.

Series 9 (#3 in Ladder on cart, Top #125 on Showdown, Undefeated in LRQ #5)

This Series definitely had a very fun start for me personally. The very first thing I did was try to convert my Reshiram team into one without a Restricted, but also did well into Landorus-T as well as Thundurus-I. I ended up deciding on a core of Incineroar/Rillaboom/Scarf Swampert/Cinderace to abuse Flip Turn onto WP Cinderace, while keeping Thundurus and using Clefairy to buff my team with Friend Guard and Follow Me. After finally admitting Flip Turn Swampert was bad, I decided to use Dragapult. It could Surf, Dragon Darts Landorus-T, while having the ability to burn Thundurus-I. I noticed that in games, I wouldn't even use Cinderace because of Intimidate, Fake Out, and its STAB being redundant with my other team members. I eventually settled on Coalossal because Gigantimax negated Flinches and it didn’t get hindered by Intimidate, and that's where the ball really started to roll. After spending the entire format using Coal, I ended up with a TR mode of Primarina and Bronzong inspired by Wolfe’s World Championship winning team back in 2016 that could punish Landorus and provide another way to deal with the Rain teams that were increasing in popularity. Grimmsnarl was added for screens, allowing me to abuse Max Dragapult with Assault Vest and giving other members “Dynamax Bulk” to grind out slow but efficient victories. I had no idea how I would perform due to not really having as much practice as I had in the last format during the PC4 Qualifier. However, I was able to steamroll my way to a victory, going undefeated in all of my sets. I was also able to peak at #3 on cart at some point in the format which was cool, but this is where I started the streak of x-3 in major tournaments because of reasons I’ll address at the end.

Series 10: (3rd in LRQ #8, 1st on In-Game Ladder, 1st in AlchemistVGC’s Ladder Tour, Top 8 Desafio, Top 16 Mt. Silver, Top 500 on Showdown Ladder)

After hearing about Series 10 and the majority of the community’s decision not to play the rest of Series 9, I personally didn’t know how to feel. No more Dynamax seemed cool! But I also grew attached to Coalossal, and I didn’t want to let go of it so soon. I focused on testing out Yveltal and VenuDon with Icy Wind Nature’s Madness Fini in many ladder tournaments, and even winning one during the beginning of the format, but eventually took a small break to focus more on my job since my boss had decided to promote me. After hearing about the SoCal Grassroots and the news of my friend getting an apartment an hour away from the event, I was ecstatic. However I didn’t have a team due to spending the last few weeks learning how to be a manager for my co-workers, so me and Conkledonk spent the last 2 days seriously trying to crack the format. We ended up with this, going back to the roots with Reshiram, working to improve the inherent issues we already were aware of. Sadly, an emergency came up and I ended up competing in a Rose Tower Open instead, going x-3.

I looked into my losses, and admitted I really hated Landorus-I, Shadow Rider and Zacian. With the knowledge of the games, my friend and I built a Scarf Entei team inspired by the team that won the grassroots. We wanted sun because of the calcs with Scarf Flare Blitz, and because I always wanted to use Groudon in series 8. We ended up with this which I felt was very, very strong. I ended up going x-3 at multiple events with this while attempting to figure out how to cover the insane amount of shared weaknesses.

I felt very confident with the final version, blazing my way from x-1 to a Top 4 finish at another LRQ. The final team looked like this going into a Mt. Silver weekly (on my birthday which was also cool), and I managed a top 16 finish after an x-1 record in swiss. After that and the Rose Tower LCQ, I looked into my games and noticed that Groudon’s inconsistencies likely can’t be fixed. It heavily relies on speed control, using Entei to cover most of the Restricted brings about too many weaknesses and not using Entei makes the team too reliant on Tailwind/TR while losing a way to scare off Zacian and Shadow Rider immediately. The endgame against Zacian teams can also sometimes come down to hitting a Precipice Blades, which is certainly never fun, and it’s not even that great against Incineroar and Rillaboom (to an extent).

After losing to a Landorus-I that was EV’d to survive a 252+ Sun-Boosted Flare Blitz, I knew I’d need to make changes. I scrapped everything but Scarf Entei, Amoonguss and Gyarados, this time looking into a way to steal games quickly to have more time to recover in between tournament sets. As usual, I wanted more answers to Landorus. This was the result, and by now I wanted to stress the commonalities in all teams so far. Whimsicott eventually took the place of Gyarados to support Urshifu and help against Rain with Tailwind, and Weavile was removed for Nihilego to deal with Flying types and Xerneas, while also having the ability to OHKO Landorus-I. I really liked Amoonguss’ slow speed to help in TR but after a lot of convincing from Polaroid and Dreadmambo, turned it into Rillaboom because of its Fake Out, Repositioning and Priority for mons like other Rapid-Strike and Regieleki. Finally, my Fire Type of the format wasn’t pulling its weight. I also knew that Intimidate would immensely help out the team with its defensive calcs, as the entire team was very frail. I needed something to check Zacian and Rillaboom while also OHKO’ing Shadow Rider and Intimidate, and after using Gyarados for so long, I decided to test out Fast Incineroar. At first, it was designed to outspeed Shadow Rider at +2, then it slowly ramped up to give myself more tools to pivot and reposition out of unfavorable turns while also allowing me to steal or maintain momentum.

Before we get started into the team, I’d personally like to thank everybody for keeping me motivated to continue playing and giving me the courage to keep my head up despite my inconsistency in tournaments. If you’ve gotten this far, thank you! Now, let’s get into the team.

The Team:

Mikey (Urshifu-Rapid-Strike) @ Choice Scarf

Ability: Unseen Fist

Level: 50

EVs: 108 HP / 132 Atk / 12 Def / 44 SpD / 212 Spe

Jolly Nature

- U-turn

- Rock Slide

- Close Combat

- Surging Strikes

  • -1 132 Atk Urshifu-Rapid-Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 236 HP / 28 Def Incineroar on a critical hit: 198-240 (99 - 120%) -- approx. 93.8% chance to OHKO

  • 252+ Atk Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 108 HP / 12 Def Urshifu-Rapid-Strike in Grassy Terrain: 164-194 (86.7 - 102.6%) -- 12.5% chance to OHKO

  • 252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 108 HP / 44 SpD Urshifu-Rapid-Strike: 165-196 (87.3 - 103.7%) -- 18.8% chance to OHKO

Without Coalossal, Urshifu needed to find another partner in crime. Instead of relying on mind games and positioning to deal with Landorus, Zacian and Scarf Entei, I decided on a Choice Scarf to simplify the game as much as possible. Most Incineroar carry a Sitrus Berry or are EV’d to survive Surging Strikes, but that doesn’t matter to Calyrex, which negates berries and can legitimately nuke teams with its ability and the Pin of Surging Strikes/Close Combat + Astral Barrage. This Urshifu out-speeds Scarf Kyogre, which also helped to speed creep opposing scarf Urshifu. In my opinion, Close Combat and Surging Strikes were necessary, and I personally wanted Rock Slide for pesky Volcarona and to outright steal momentum if it came down to it, and surprisingly it did during one of my games in Top 32. The last move slot went to U-Turn to reposition better, and to chunk Tsareena. Fake Out + Scarf Unseen Fist is an absolutely terrifying combo, and being able to do good damage to Rillaboom while having the ability to pivot in turn of prediction or outside of Grassy Terrain was also too much to pass up.

WhenISeeYou (Calyrex-Shadow) @ Life Orb

Ability: As One (Spectrier)

Level: 50

EVs: 12 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Protect

- Substitute

- Astral Barrage

- Psyshock

  • 252+ Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 12 HP / 4 Def Calyrex-Shadow: 136-162 (76.8 - 91.5%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO (after LO chip)

One of Urshifu’s best friends, and the bane of our existence. Why use Groudon when you have a Precipice Blades that never misses and can’t get Intimidated? I always thought Unnerve was pretty meh before I used Shadow Rider, but negating Sitrus and SE berries was very useful in combat. The reason for Substitute is that its

presence in Open Team Sheet helps a lot to keep momentum with Fake Out and the threat of Shadow Rider alone. Other than that, I feel this set is pretty self explanatory. Calyrex reminds me a lot of Coalossal in previous formats, where a lot of players would often lead their only lines of play against it and forfeit their momentum to you immediately turn 1.

CHADx20 (Rillaboom) @ Assault Vest

Ability: Grassy Surge

Level: 50

Shiny: Yes

EVs: 236 HP / 36 Atk / 4 Def / 76 SpD / 156 Spe

Adamant Nature

- Grassy Glide

- Fake Out

- Wood Hammer

- U-turn

  • 252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 236 HP / 76 SpD Assault Vest Rillaboom: 95-113 (46.3 - 55.1%) -- 10.2% chance to 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

  • +2 132+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 236 HP / 76 SpD Assault Vest Rillaboom: 175-207 (85.3 - 100.9%) -- 6.3% chance to OHKO

  • +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Rillaboom: 169-201 (82.4 - 98%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

This Rillaboom set was honestly really great. The Attack EV’s hit the bump, and the speed out-speeds all Incineroar and Adamant Tsareena. Rillaboom and Incineroar are a very powerful defensive core offering priority, double Fake Out, Intimidate, pivots and Strong STAB. I believed that the faster Fake Out and U-turn against opposing Rillaboom would help immensely, and I was correct. In a way, Rillaboom can check Xerneas to an extent as well if you position it correctly.

Fire One (Incineroar) @ Sitrus Berry

Ability: Intimidate

Level: 50

EVs: 228 HP / 28 Def / 252 Spe

Jolly Nature

- Parting Shot

- Fake Out

- Flare Blitz

- Throat Chop

  • 0 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Zacian-Crowned: 134-162 (80.2 - 97%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

  • -1 0 Atk Incineroar Throat Chop vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Calyrex-Shadow: 168-196 (95.4 - 111.3%) -- 62.5% chance to OHKO

  • 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Close Combat vs. 228 HP / 28 Def Incineroar: 176-208 (88.4 - 104.5%) -- 25% chance to OHKO

The MVP! Fast Incineroar was incredible, and I absolutely have no regrets with this. People slap on Throat Chop just for the chance to block Parting Shot, but actually using a Faster Throat chop to stop Snarl for Pokemon like Moltres and Suicune can literally flip games on its own. A fast Parting Shot or Flare Blitz Snipe can often seal up games on its own. At first, it was designed to out-speed Shadow Rider at +2, then bumped up to out-speed Scarf Kyogre at +2, then gained more speed to hit the bump and out-speed my friend’s Tsareena, before investing the into max speed. Personally, I never understood having a slower Incineroar on a Shadow Rider team because of the mirror, so I’m extremely happy with this call. I gave it Sitrus Berry as opposed to Goggles because I felt I could play around Amoonguss and/or Xerneas team comps if I played correctly, and because Sitrus comes into effect every game. I wanted to make sure every single item and ability on my team could be used at will as opposed to other items like White Herb, and Incineroar needs the extra bulk since this it’s so fast.

Grassy Mimsy (Whimsicott) (F) @ Focus Sash

Ability: Prankster

Level: 50

EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Protect

- Tailwind

- Grass Knot

- Moonblast

  • 252 SpA Whimsicott Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Kyogre: 110-132 (62.5 - 75%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

The only thing that should stand out regarding Whimsicott is Grass Knot. In hindsight the only change I would personally make with this team is using Taunt instead, as all of my set losses would have been so much easier with it. However, I felt Whimsicott had more value against certain Rain comps, and I would rather lose to uncommon teams than to one of the most common restricted. Another thing to note is that I believe the team has enough tools to last through one Trick Room, and I wanted to cover my outs against Rain more. Tailwind is essential for Rain, the Mirror and Regieleki at times, and I feel Moonblast is self explanatory for Dark Types.

Step Harder (Nihilego) @ Power Herb

Ability: Beast Boost

Level: 50

Shiny: Yes

EVs: 76 Def / 180 SpA / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Protect

- Meteor Beam

- Power Gem

- Sludge Bomb

  • +2 132+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Nihilego: 87-102 (47.2 - 55.4%) -- 21.5% chance to 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

  • +2 180 SpA Nihilego Sludge Bomb vs. +2 92 HP / 36 SpD Xerneas: 140-168 (65.7 - 78.8%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

  • 252+ Atk Miracle Seed Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 0 HP / 76 Def Nihilego in Grassy Terrain: 154-183 (83.6 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

  • +1 180 SpA Nihilego Meteor Beam vs. 236 HP / 12 SpD Assault Vest Yveltal: 192-228 (83.1 - 98.7%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

  • +1 180 SpA Nihilego Meteor Beam vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Assault Vest Moltres-Galar: 162-192 (82.2 - 97.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

This slot is very self explanatory. Deals with Xerneas, and Dark/Flying types. It also provides another check to Rillaboom and Incineroar, which allows me to play my own Incineroar and Urshifu more aggressively if need be. Just be sure not to be too reliant on Meteor Beam.

Playing with the Team:

The team relies on the Core 4 to win the majority of the games. At first I believed Whimsicott was needed to match other TW but in reality, my Whimsicott set is only needed for the Mirror and TornOgre. It’s important to know that these 4 aren’t able to OHKO many pokémon by themselves, so chipping is necessary. It’s also important to identify the key threats to Calyrex because once those go down, you can realistically win by just clicking buttons. I’ve had many practice games where I was able to pin my opponent down, and in between my turn by turn process realized… “Wait, all I have to do is click buttons.”

It’s very crucial to recognize that to play this team, one must play multiple turns ahead and always keep the endgame in mind. It’s also important to know that there’s only two moves that can miss with this core. Leading a sweeper + pivot is very ideal in many games, but there are some specific matchups that allow for the other 2 slots to truly shine.

Whimsicott and Nihilego were more considered techs for the team, in that they came when the matchup needed them but didn’t need to come for anything else. Whimsicott gives you a fighting chance against the Mirror and TornOgre, while Nihilego can take out Flying, Dark types and can give Urshifu more breathing room against Rillaboom and Incineroar so one wouldn't need to stress over misplaying or the weakness of Choice Scarf as a whole. Another thing to mention is that there are only 2 moves that can miss, and both have 90% accuracy.

Personally I had trouble playing against Zacian Rain with Moltres-G because I wouldn’t even consider Whimsicott to match their Tailwind, but I still ended up going 4-0 in all sets vs them last weekend. I think it’s important to keep an endgame in mind at all points of a game, but also to use a team that fits one’s playstyle. Teams that can create pins efficiently and effectively are often the ones that win events, because the spare time left in between rounds can allow the pilot to mentally recover for the next round. It also forces less mind games, which is 100% necessary to avoid burnout and reduce tilt.

I think the errors I suffered with as a player are definitely fatigue in long tournament runs, and my mentality going through events. It’s always important to focus on one game at a time, and one set at a time. Trust me, if one is worried about not finishing X-3, they're more likely to end up as X-3 especially if they're x-2 going into the last round. Being too cocky is never good, I’ve had so many sets in the past where I would assume I won game 3 and outright lose because I didn't factor a way my opponent could have etched out a win. That mentality is not only immature, but is just toxic and could stagnate one’s growth as a player. Going forward, I don’t really believe the records actually matter, but I do believe in focusing on improvement.

I’d like to give a big shoutout to the community over at ATX, LRL, Team Dojo and the Corviknights. I’d also like to thank the Accomplished Veterans who took the time and had the patience to help me improve through this journey thus far, especially the older players I was able to get back in touch with after the hiatus and the NuggetBridge forums shut down. I would like to personally thank Dreadmambo, Patillac, Vern, Conkledonk, Trev and Polaroid for keeping my head up and being extremely supportive. Lastly, I’d like to thank the community for being so amazing. If you have any questions or need somebody to chat with, please don’t hesitate to reach out! :)