Hello everyone, my name is Diego Montes (@Xx3O_ on Twitter) and I’m a competitive Pokémon player of both Smogon singles and VGC from Salamanca, Spain. Today, I’m here to talk about my team and performance at the Nashville Open, one of the Worlds side-events of this year, in which almost 400 players took part and where I managed to reach Top 16.
I must be honest, at the very beginning, this team was a meme to drive my friends crazy badly poisoning all the possible creatures. I created this team during a bus trip due to the boredom and the poor internet signal.
The first building stage was not complicated, the only thing that I knew was that I wanted to use a Charizard-X concept I was being considering. I added other Pokémon that were complementing the team thanks to its types or the synergies they provided for this specific set. The first team I sent to my friends’ group contained these 6 Pokémon.
With a total of 3 Pokémon knowing the Toxic move (Charizard, Cresselia and Landorus-T), Sub-Tapu Bulu with Disable, HP Fire Raikou spamming Snarl and Z-Stockpile Araquanid, the team was able to achieve its objective. However, it was far away of being a competitive team, it had several weaknesses that appeared when playing against common archetypes as Pokémon like Amoonguss could cause a lot of problems.
When I started trying to make the team more competitive and serious, Raikou and Tapu Bulu leave their slots in favour of Tapu Koko and Kartana. The team was abandoned as a meme on the teambuilder for so long until one week before Worlds. My friend Spada had no idea about what to use and was considering all the options that came to his mind, this team included.
That was the moment when I removed all the meme elements that the team may still have to make it as much competitive as possible. Spada finally used this team on his Worlds Day 1 and his performance was better than mine. He lost the 4-1 set due to a couple of bad luck strikes. If you want to know more about my experience with this team at Nashville’s Open that took place one day after, you will find the detailed team warstory below the team explanation.
Charizard-Mega-X @ Charizardite X
EVs: 244 HP / 44 Atk / 4 Def / 212 SpD / 4 Spe
– Flare Blitz
The high-tech cornerstone of this team, the idea behind this set is that those that can’t be badly poisoned, may receive super effective hits from its only attack move. Although this set is created to maintain it as much as possible in field, there is no creature that could take properly neutral Fire attacks from this Pokémon.
If you use this Charizard wisely, it will usually be in a favourable position to hit or badly poison other Pokémon like Incineroar, Cresselia, Porygon2, Tapu Fini, Zapdos and Tapu Koko and then going for Roost in order to get your HP back. Furthermore, although it’s more difficult, Charizard-X can survive hits from Salamence, Landorus-T, Tyranitar, Tapu Lele (with Tapu Koko’s help) and hit or poison them back, which can be useful during late game scenarios.
[68% of usage, 76% WR]
Tapu Koko @ Assault Vest
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 116 SpD / 140 Spe
– Nature’s Madness
– Sky Drop
– Volt Switch
This Pokémon is the one who works the most in the background on every team I’ve used. It can be used to win the speed control, allow other teammates to set Trick Room easier, help Charizard-X to get recovered on difficult situations, chip half HP from bulky Pokémon, KO other threats with the support from other team members, prevent its teammates to fall asleep, reduce the amount of damage that Tapu Bulu and Tapu Lele can inflict by removing their fields and even bring it to the battle to tank attacks that you don’t want other Pokémon take.
This is my favourite Tapu Koko set since VGC17, doing a great job and been part of the team on Bilbao, Turin, VR Finals, Leipzig, Malmö, Valencia and this tournament (Mostly, on every important championship I’ve played but the Worlds Day 1). The EV spread was created for the Bilbao Special Event and optimized by Zoro before Malmö to avoid having any chance of being OHKOed by Ludicolo.
[72% of usage, 72% WR]
Kartana @ Mago Berry
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 180 HP / 92 Atk / 4 Def / 108 SpD / 124 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Sacred Sword
One of the sets that were modified on the last version. The previous one was holding a Life Orb without any investment on Attack and using Synthesis to continue with the tank-and-recover strategy. That setdid not work as well as it should and, if Kartana doesn’t work, the performance of the rest of the team is not good either.
After a couple of days thinking, I tried this final set against some colleagues on a Bo3 format. It helps to buy turns to accentuate Toxic’s effects on Pokémon like Incineroar) and to gain momentum by spamming Substitute. In some cases, this also allowed me to avoid the Intimidate spam from the opponent that could be annoying for the team despite of the fact of not being such a big problem.
Regarding to the EV spread, I chose the Adamant nature to avoid losing too much attack power from the previous one, just for comfortability. It outspeeds 252 Landorus-T + one creep point. It may seem a bad bulk spread as it has difficulties to survive Special attacks like invested Mega-Gengar’s Shadow Ball and other common neutral Special attacks. I do not remember for which double targets or attacks + Sub was adjusted but it worked during the whole event.
Kartana is the Pokémon that I’ve used incorrectly on some match-ups because on previous games it swept the whole team and that lead me to take wrong decisions.
[72% of usage, 61% WR]
Cresselia @ Psychium Z
EVs: 244 HP / 244 SpA / 20 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk
– Trick Room
– Ice Beam
Cresselia is a Pokémon for which I don’t normally feel attracted to but that provides the team a reliable way to face Nihilego, Gengar, Landorus-T and Salamence, Pokémon that on other circumstances could be problematic, as well as setting Trick Room up for Araquanid.
We tested with a Berry but after discussing with Spada, we agreed that we wanted to avoid Incineroar’s Knock-Off to deal extra damage so one of the options was to use the Electric Seed combined with Moonlight (for the late games in which the opponent is badly poisoned). Finally, we decided to use the Z-Crystal, as it makes easier some games by just ignoring Taunt or Encore. Furthermore, it helped as well by threatening bulky Mega-Gengar, one of the most common variants at that moment of the metagame.
[52% of usage, 77% WR]
Araquanid @ Waterium Z
Ability: Water Bubble
EVs: 244 HP / 196 Atk / 52 Def / 4 SpA / 12 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Bug Bite
– Wide Guard
It was the last Pokémon to change from the meme set to the competitive one. At the very beginning, it held the Normalium Z for Stockpile instead of Bug Bite and Waterium Z for Liquidation. These last attacks seemed crucial to face Snorlax and other berry users as well as Z-Liquidation can surely KO users of intimidate even with the lowered Attack. The Wide Guard move also provides support to Charizard-X, Tapu Koko or even Kartana.
Araquanid was (as always) really good as wall breaker, tanking neutral attacks and hitting even outside the Trick Room when it was in a good position. For example, on the second against teams that use Gengar+Incineroar as lead.
[52% of usage, 84% WR]
Landorus-Therian @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Earth Power
– Hidden Power Ice
– Stone Edge
The last Pokémon added during the teambuilding process, adding a second immunity to Ground attacks once that Charizard loses it after Mega evolving, being also immune to Electric and having the Intimidate ability which is key for this format. Its set was the first that changed with the team optimization, from the bulky one with Mago Berry, Toxic, Earth Power, Rock Tomb to this one with the Choice Scarf which was created to be used as pivot and to sweep during the late game.
This was one of the sets that I didn’t consider optimizing as I thought that it should hit as much as possible (normally, other Special Landorus-T do not hit too strong) and being faster than other Choice Scarf Landorus-T. I had to take the toll of not being bulkier on some matchups, but it was also worth to be faster on some cases.
[84% of usage, 66% WR]
The Nashville Open
R1 vs. Felipe Acevedo [Final record 5-3, 77/382]
G1+ vs. +
G2+ vs. +
A difficult set and quite amusing. The first game was really tight until that I got positioned and set Trick Room up. I supposed that he would use the Rain mode during the second game, due to that I opened the game with these two Pokémon. When I saw his lead, I was quite disappointed, but he was even more worried because he thought that I was holding the Charizardite-Y. He got doubly surprised after discovering that my Charizard was the X version and that was able to tank the Hydro Vortex from his Ludicolo, helping with Flare Blitz to double target his Pelipper. I remember that was difficult to win the set despite of that first turn.
Record: 1-0 (2-0)
R2 vs. Alvin Martinez [Final record 4-4, 130/382]
G1 + vs. +
G2 + vs. +
My opponent tried to play slowly setting up Light Screen with his Cresselia to put Choice Specs Tapu Fini and Z-Move Tapu Lele (with Ally Switch) in a better position. However, he realized that I wanted to play slower when ended with Cresselia and Incineroar badly poisoned at the end of the second turn. His match up was quite bad against my team.
Record: 2-0 (4-0)
R3 vs. Ben Markham (@BensterVGC) [Final record 7-1, T32]
G1 + vs. +
G2 + vs. +
G3 + vs. +
In G1, I made two mistakes on the same turn, I was afraid of facing a Gengar variant with Substitute, so I double targeted but not using Cresselia’s Z-Move and his play was Fake Out + Icy Wind leaving my Landorus-T trapped and almost fainted while his Gengar survived with red HP. During G2 I won the first switches and after some plays I managed to tie the set. For the G3 I went for U-Turn on his Incineroar while switching into Kartana on the Cresselia’s slot. He did a predict and used Incineroar’s Flare Blitz (at -1) to attack that slot while he protected Gengar. In my opinion, there were no reason to do that play, only in case of predicting a switch into Tapu Fini. However, even predicting that I was bringing Kartana into the field, he needed to predict as well if Kartana will be on the Cresselia slot or on the U-Turn one (I should not have done such a risky play). Taking into account that Shadow Ball + Knock Off combination was not able to KO Cresselia, everything could have changed if I would have simply used Trick Room or made something similar to the decision taken on the G2 when I switched into Araquanid on the Cresselia’s slot on the second turn. It was close as his Tapu Fini was a Z-Move variant with Taunt that was annoying, but without boosting possibilities so it was not able to get enough power to knock Cresselia and Araquanid out. However, I ended up losing this game.
Record: 2-1 (5-2)
R4 vs. Karla Sordia [Final record 3-5, 207/382]
G1 + vs. +
G2 + vs. +
Mimikyu + Snorlax may seem a combination that could threat this team. However, if you don’t panic and play wisely every turn, there are some tools to win. Tapu Koko, Araquanid and Kartana (Tanks both Return and Earthquake at +6, and depending on the Snorlax spread, it can directly activate the berry, or it will be eaten after using Substitute) are the main weapons against this strategy with the help of Toxic.
I would like to point out something curious, Tapu Lele was fast and held a Focus Sash with HP Fire. That was something that Kartana did not take quite well on the first turn and I thought that I’ll end up losing. However, Araquanid made the difference and ended the job.
Record: 3-1 (7-2)
R5 vs. Travis Borror [Final record 3-3, drop]
G1 + vs. +
G2 + vs. +
Before this set, people let me know that this person was a fairly good player and that qualified for Day 2 at the NA Internationals.
On the first turn I saw that his Krookodile was Choice Scarf as the Intimidate was revealed before my Landorus-T Intimidate. I also assumed that Gengar will have Disable and that will be paired with Encore Ninetales. That facts made clear that he had nothing to do against the Trick Room mode, so he did as much as he could, but I managed to win playing safe and without assuming any risk.
Record: 4-1 (9-2)
R6 vs. Justin Frys (@RexChaosVGC) [Final record 4-4, 127/382]
G1 - + vs. +
G2 - / vs. /
At first sight, the team seemed the one that the Italian player Luca Luissignoli was playing (I think) since the Tours Special Event. I knew that not switching the spider and Charizard into a Power Gem from his Adrenaline Orb Nihilego, could turn this match-up into a relaxed set once I get rid of Nihilego. At G1 I used Sky Drop on his Charizard-Y to buy some time and avoid a possible Sludge Bomb while defeating Nihilego with Psyshock. He switched Charizard out and bring Amoonguss into the field while failing Power Gem. As soon as Amoonguss landed, I got rid of it with a Z-Move from Cresselia. At G2 he didn’t bring Amoonguss, so I won just setting Trick Room up.
Record: 5-1 (11-2)
R7 vs. Jared Woitalla @Jtr524 [Final record 5-3, 74/382]
G1 - + vs. +
G2 - + vs. +
G3 - + vs. +
This is going to seem comical to the people who really know me, but when I just saw his lead at G1, I went into panic mode during a short period of time while thinking how the heck could I stop a Dragon Dance Salamence. The solution was to use Electroweb and Toxic on Salamence, just to keep it slower than Landorus-T or to set a countdown on that Pokémon. The Fake Out came into the Tapu Koko slot and after hitting with Toxic, I played Protect + Volt Switch to intimidate and bring Tapu Koko back later as it resists Salamence attacks thanks to its typing. I did not learn from that hard time and my lead was again too weak against Salamence on G2, and without switching Kartana to bring Cresselia on that slot, that was almost needed to avoid such long plays that turned into a game loss.
On G3, I managed to get some advantage on positioning with Charizard and Cresselia against Landorus-T and Salamence at -1 threatening both Pokémon and the Aegislash on the back with Flare Blitz. This game was really tense as the winner will play the Top Cut and when I saw him crossing his fingers, I knew that he had used Rock Slide + Double-Edge on the Charizard-X slot. None of my Pokémon flinched so his Salamence got fainted thanks to an Ice Beam while Charizard-X restored HP with Roost.
The game reached a point in which Tapu Koko (60% HP) and Charizard-X (30%) with Cresselia on the back were facing Incineroar (100% but badly poisoned) and Aegislash (100%) after sending my Landorus-T almost fainted to receive the Z-Move from Aegislash. However, the Z-Move hit Charizard-X through the Protect while Incineroar defeated Landorus-T.
I missed Nature’s Madness on the Aegislash slot while using Roost to leave it on Flare Blitz range without lowering down my Attack stat due to the King’s Shield. Charizard received a focus of Shadow Ball and Knock Off so it ended with a 25% HP. Next turn, I used Sky Drop on Aegislash Blade form + Roost trying to play safe no matter if he protected or not, he finally protected leaving my Tapu Koko almost fainted. Next turn, I missed again the Nature’s Madness while he was celebrating with his fist being on the Top Cut, Flare Blitz left Aegislash Shield form with 35% HP, Incineroar defeated Tapu Koko and Shadow Ball left Charizard-X with only 10% HP.
At that moment, I also thought that I had lost, but when sending Cresselia into the field, I realized that I still could win by using the Z-Move to hit Aegislash + Roost. He celebrated again with the fist not protecting Aegislash when he saw the Roost, just to stretch his hand when the Z-Move animation started, with a dose of karma as there were people cheering up both players to get the Top Cut.
Record: 6-1 (13-3)
R8 - Liu Jian-Ting [Final record 8-0, T32]
G1 - + vs. +
G2 - + vs. +
G3 - + vs. +
Last round of a difficult day and I had to face another well-known and dangerous team due to some elements that I don’t like. G1 was a long game pivoting and chipping with his Xurkitree trying to predict a switch into Landorus-T using Hidden Power Ice on several occasions. Once Incineroar was almost fainted after half an hour of game, Trick Room was enough for Charizard-X and Cresselia to sweep his team. G2 started switching out Xurkitree to bring Kartana on that slot and his Landorus-T not choosing wisely a couple of times on which move get locked but intimidating my Charizard. The game ended with Charizard not being able to KO the opponent who barely survived a Flare Blitz at -4. On G3, I predicted the Pokémon that he would use as well as the first moves of the game, so I ended up in an excellent position to win with Kartana and Cresselia versus Aerodactyl and Landorus-T. Unfortunately, my Pokémon didn’t attack anymore. You can guess why...
Record: 6-2 (14-5)
T64 vs. Manfredi Insinga [Final record 6-2, T64]
G1 – + vs. +
G2 – + vs. +
I had to face the person who beat me at Day 1 with his Gengar avoiding Overheat twice. We talked for a long time before the match started as both calculated the day before that we will have to battle each other.
G1 was difficult as his Misty Seed Zapdos was so fast (more than Kartana) and in order to defeat it, I had to wait until its first Tailwind to finish, block the other Pokémon with Tapu Koko’s Sky Drop and use Araquanid’s Z-Move after surviving with superiority its Thunderbolt (It makes no sense having to defeat his Electric Pokémon with my Water-type without Trick Room but was the plan after not selecting Charizard nor Cresselia on team preview, the other option was to use Stone Edge with Landours-T…) At G2 I used Charizard-X to badly poison 3 of his 4 Pokémon to finally defeat Metagross without difficulties.
Record: 2-0 (16-5)
T32 vs. Matthew Jackson [Final record 6-2, T32]
G1 – + vs. +
G2 – + vs. +
At G1, I switched out Cresselia to let Tapu Koko enter on the field and used U-Turn with Landorus-T on the Smeargle slot. He switched Blaziken out and Tapu Lele came from his side (Blaziken is faster than Cresselia so his switching went first, and Tapu Koko’s field overrode Tapu Lele’s one) while Smeargle tried to use Spore on the Tapu Koko slot, failing thanks to the field and Landorus-T leave its place to Araquanid. After that, Volt Switch finished Smeargle off and the Z-Move defeated Choice Scarf Tapu Lele.
G2 was similar but I switched into Araquanid on the Cresselia slot (he switched into Tapu Lele and Stakataka came back to its Pokéball trying to use Spore with Smeargle) while Tapu Koko came into the field after U-Turn used by Landorus-T, setting the field up again. Stakataka entered to substitute Smeargle in order to tank the Volt Switch and Torkoal protected Tapu Lele receiving a Water-type Z-Move that left it almost fainted. When Landorus-T came back, he saw that it was impossible for him to win and finally forfeited.
Record: 2-0 (18-5)
T16 vs. Demetrios Kaguras @kingdjkVGC [Final record 6-2, T8]
G1 – + vs. +
G2 – + vs. +
At G1, after knowing that his Landorus-T was not holding the Choice Scarf (it was probably AV), I was reckless imagine that it won’t be max. Special Attack, and with Charizard-X and Landorus-T versus Tapu Koko and Landorus-T, I brought Araquanid on the first slot and used Earth Power against Tapu Koko’s Protect so his Landorus-T OHKOed it by using Hidden Power Ice. I didn’t expect that as was not guaranteed even if it was max. SpA (252+ SpA Landorus-T Hidden Power Ice vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Landorus-T: 156-184 (95.1 – 112.1%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO).
I tried to pivot to badly poison his Landorus-T and made a mistake when selecting the slot where to bring Charizard-X back again. The game was lost as only a double Protect from Araquanid or the poison from Charizard-X defeating his Landorus-T could save the game and it didn’t happen. On G2 I lost when choosing my 4 Pokémon at team preview, and to top it all I used Electroweb the same turn his Tapu Koko used Thunderbolt on my Kartana protected by Detect while his Cresselia set Trick Room up.
Record: 0-2 (18-7)
Maybe I felt the pressure as winning this match would have meant I was already in Top 8. I can’t find any other reason to explain how poorly I played this set considering my play during the rest of the day. Anyway, I’m happy with my performance along this event and, in some sense, this saved the Nashville trip as the Worlds Day 1 left a nasty taste in my mouth.
I would like to express my gratitude to Yanguas and Michel for their essential help to make the objective of playing Worlds come true. Thanks also to Spada and Jose for being wonderful, to my roommates Javier and Eric (if he hadn’t tagged me along, it wouldn’t have been possible to assist), and to the rest of the Spanish Squad, although I did not spend too much time with all of them, it would have been different without any of you.
Finally, thanks as well to Manu, Salso, Jorge and Markys as they not only helped me, but they have also been incredible colleagues during this competitive year which has been quite complete with trips to Bilbao, Turin, Leipzig, Malmö, Granada and Valencia. It has been one of the best experiences of my life. I’ve shared my time and trips with many other people that I get on well with and that could be probably angry (and some of them would be probably quite right) for not being mentioned here, but if I start mentioning people, I will never end.
Thanks a lot for reading and I hope to see you soon here again!