Post Sun Jul 06, 2014 1:18 pm

The 90%: A 2014 Elite Four Challenge Battle Report (VGC2014)

Foreword

Hello everyone! I'm Theron, Elite Four Theron in 2011 and now again (gosh it feels odd holding the title again xD). This is my report for the team used during the top cut of the 2014 Elite Four Challenge.

The team is based off of my old GE3 winning team, which was meant to be a testbed for the VGC14 meta. It’s summed up quite simply by the term ‘overwhelming offensive pressure’ and was also built to be enhanced by prediction, rather than being reliant on it. I prefer not to be completely dependent on prediction should I run into opponents that I am unable to outpredict or read accurately, and also to minimize the effect of mental fatigue on my team's performance in long tournaments.

The six-'mon-band:

Salamence: Megan<3Dragon

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Choice Specs
Modest, 4 HP 252 Sp Atk 252 Speed
Draco Meteor, Flamethrower, Hydro Pump, Protect
Intimidate

Salamence’s role on the team is very simple - hit something and hit it hard. Intimidate support is certainly useful in this metagame; alongside Mawile, I am able to utilize Intimidate-shuffling to wear down physically-oriented foes. Whilst the norm for Salamence is Choice Scarf to fire off a quick Meteor, I feel it renders Salamence somewhat useless should the Meteor be wasted or fail to make an impact, be it through your own misplays or your opponent's switches, and it also somewhat telegraphs your Salamence's switches to your opponent. Choice Specs allows Salamence to fire off two Meteors before being driven off, or simply put pressure on the opponent with boosted Flamethrower or Hydro Pump should the need call for it. Protect was for pulling bluffs and switches and essentially messing with the opponent’s head - it does not give away Salamence’s item to the opponent immediately and might possibly lure them into a false sense of security. Knowledge is power, especially in best-of-three games - just be aware of Frisk Noivern.

Named after a really close friend of mine who loves dragons. Rawr.

Garchomp: Ariel’sGlory

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Life Orb
Naive, 252 Atk 4 Sp.Atk 252 Speed
Draco Meteor, Earthquake, Protect, Rock Slide
Rough Skin

With the numerous Intimidates, Charms and burns flying around the VGC14 metagame, I don’t expect Garchomp to be at +0 Attack when it has to Dragon Claw something for the kill. Draco Meteor (barring the times it becomes Draco Miss-teor) alleviates that problem by tapping into Garchomp’s decent Special Attack; with just 4 EVs, Life Orb Draco Meteor kills every 4 HP 0 defenses Dragon-type in the meta, including other Garchomps and Dragonite (after Multiscale is broken). The drop in Special Attack also does not hinder it - after it has Meteored the opposing Dragon, Garchomp can proceed to provide offensive pressure with the physical Rock Slide and Earthquake. This is by no means foolproof, however - resist berries, Focus Sashes and random misses wreck this plan.

Named after another good friend of mine. Glorious.

Murkrow: XF3!Vergil

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Eviolite
Jolly, 252 HP 72 Def 180 Sp.Def 4 Speed
Foul Play, Protect, Featherdance, Quash
Prankster

The inclusion of Murkrow came from an admittedly-crazy idea to utilize its Prankster Haze in Swiss - negating Salamence's Draco Meteor drops and allowing it to fire full-power Meteors relentlessly. After Swiss, though, I felt that Haze was unreliable at best and self-destructing at worst; it removes the opponent's boosts, but also their drops, rendering my Intimidates useless. Foul Play was the replacement, selected over Brave Bird to avoid recoil damage and to exploit its targets' base attacks, which would almost certainly be higher than Murkrow's own. Having an attack also meant that Murkrow could fight back should it be Taunted or be the last Pokemon remaining - the odds would be grim, but at least there would be odds. Prankster Quash (usually the reason one would consider Murkrow for their team) is too good to pass up; forcing an opponent to move last can be a lifesaver for friends or a doombringer for foes. Should I snag a Pokemon attempting to Sucker Punch my partner, the move would fail as my Pokemon had already attacked. Featherdance serves the same purpose as Charm does on Meowstic - priority -2 Attack cripples physical attackers. The EV spread allows it to survive 252+ Thunderbolt from a Rotom, the main damaging move I felt at the time of its inclusion would be thrown Murkrow’s way.

Named after the ‘great equalizer’ of Ultimate Marvel vs Capcom 3 infamy.

Rotom-Heat: CrimsonComet

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Choice Scarf
Modest, 4 HP 252 Sp.Atk 252 Speed
Thunderbolt, Will-o-Wisp, Volt Switch, Overheat
Levitate

An ordinary Rotom with three times the passion and 1.5x the speed. Choice Scarf Rotom is almost certainly revealed the turn it attacks - but that turn can be more than enough to seize the momentum and make a statement to your opponent. Thunderbolt provides constant offensive pressure, whilst a quick Overheat is a possible momentum-killer and momentum-shifter if used correctly. Whilst Rotom-Heat can certainly be played defensively much like its watery counterpart, I feel that it is most at home on the offense - be it direct damage or spreading status, as it is much easier to chip away at the microwave's health with super-effective and neutral hits.

The name is a Gundam Build Fighters reference.

Mawile: Eternal

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Mawilite
Adamant, 252 HP 252 Atk 4 Speed
Iron Head, Protect, Sucker Punch, Play Rough
Intimidate -> Huge Power

Classic Adamant Mega Mawile here with its classic moveset of twin STABs + Sucker Punch and Protect. I picked Iron Head over Rock Slide or Fire Fang for the sheer consistency; much like Flash Cannon on Aegislash, it can be used in a turn when I’m unsure of what to do and I can still get some relatively decent damage off. I went with the 252/252/4 spread for several reasons aside from the ease of training - to maximize Mawile’s damage output should it have its Attack dropped for any reason, and also to keep my focus on my usage of Mawile rather than constantly worrying about maintaining its HP above certain thresholds in order to survive certain attacks with more specific spreads. The major drawback I find about specific spreads is when chip damage (be it spread moves or errant single-target attacks) starts racking up, the survival chances go out of the window as well. By sticking with the 252/252/4, I keep my focus on maximizing Mawile’s impact on the game - as well as on preserving Mawile and not throwing it away recklessly.

Named after Kamen Rider Eternal.

Venusaur: Raffelsia

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Expert Belt
Modest, 158 HP 4 Def 252 Sp.Atk 4 Sp.Def 92 Speed
Giga Drain, Sludge Bomb, Protect, Leaf Storm
Chlorophyll

After going 4-3 in Swiss rounds for this tournament, it was clear that Mega Tyranitar (which had previously occupied this slot) was not doing anything significant for my team. In seven games, all it had done was come in for one, be burned and fail to make any impact whatsoever. Venusaur was brought in to help the team against Rotom-Wash, Azumarill and possible Rain teams, though I immediately ran into the issue of having two Megas on the same team and being unable to Mega Evolve them both. I solved that by giving Venusaur an Expert Belt instead of its usual Mega Stone - whilst it loses its useful Mega Evolution, it still fulfills its role on the team. The EV spread was modified from one originally designed to OHKO 252/172 Calm Rotom-Wash with Mega Venusaur’s Leaf Storm; maximum Special Attack to deal as much damage as possible, 92 Speed to outspeed 4 Speed Rotoms and the rest placed into its defenses. With the Expert Belt and the 252 Special Attack EVs, Venusaur now achieves the OHKO even on a full 252/252 Calm Rotom - so that was something I knew I could use.

Named after the flower of the same name.

Battles/Warstories

Top 32

Vs Ye Zhiyang (Sparky)

Team: Image Image Image Image Image ???

I had a very rough start involving Starmie, Manectric and a whole bunch of nerves. Knowing I had to calm down to avoid the 'nightmare scenario' of being sent to spectator mode early, I adjusted my team based on the previous round and what knowledge I could dredge up from my panicking mind. Eventually after a Dark Void miss and a gleeful Overheat, I pulled out the win 2-1; disaster averted.

This game convinced me of the capabilities of Venusaur as well as the unreliability of Murkrow - I vowed to go back to my more familiar high-pressure high-offense team setups and not use Murkrow shenanigans unless it was absolutely necessary.

Result: 0-1 1-1 2-1 W

Top 16

Vs Muhammed Farihin

Team: Image Image Image Image Image Image

Attacking off the bat gave my team the space needed to cope with his Hypnosis Gengar - seizing the momentum early allowed me to use that as a cushion of sorts to cope with the single-target Sleep move. I made it a point to KO Gengar as soon as possible in each game as the longer it remained on the field, the more disruptive it would become with Hypnosis and the somewhat-unusual Dazzling Gleam (which hits my Salamence and Garchomp super-effectively). Whilst I should’ve double-targeted Gengar in round 1 with both Choice Scarf Thunderbolt and a Rock Slide from my Garchomp (which would’ve killed its partner Talonflame regardless), it was fortunately unable to do anything else and I was able to cope with one sleeping Pokemon with the numerical advantage. The opposing Mega Mawile was unable to mount any serious offense at the end - a boosted Flamethrower from Salamence ended Round 1 in my favor.

A little bit of luck in round 2 with an early awakening and a Draco Meteor from my Salamence took the representative of toothpaste brands out of that game, despite it landing a Hypnosis and a Dazzling Gleam; from there on things went as I wanted them to go. The early advantages I gained in both rounds were vital; with them, I was able to dictate the play and pace of the game, eventually closing out Round 2 (though I immediately apologized for not Mega Evolving Mawile at that point before a Sucker Punch; I had genuinely forgotten in the heat of the battle and didn't want it to look like an insult.).

Result: 1-0 2-0 W

Quarterfinals

Vs Low Kit Meng

Team: Image Image Image Image Image Image

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3HZP6NtFh44 (Game 1), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn39p9yVNwg (Game 2), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=On1IYcyOdj0 (Game 3)

Kit Meng's Frisk Noivern immediately killed any hopes I had of faking a Mega Evolution with Venusaur - it also was my greatest concern with its speed and capability to take out the main attackers of my team. Rotom-Heat would be vital in the following battles, being the best answer I had to his Talonflame (which I noticed was most likely Banded after observing his switching patterns in the first game) and a somewhat-answer to his Noivern. I wanted to avoid relying on Sucker Punch to take it out if I could, so I kept it locked down with Thunderbolts. Scrafty revealed its Lum Berry after a Sludge Bomb poisoned it - though I decided to focus on his other Pokemon first rather than it as I felt that it threatened through its longevity, rather than the burst damage of Talonflame or Life Orb Noivern - if I could force a final confrontation with my Mega Mawile, I would have the advantage in that one-on-one.

I made a key mistake in allowing my Rotom-H to go down early in round 2; that put me on the back-end and I was unable to recover the momentum. Mawile came in safely but late and was unable to make any impact whatsoever - although it did cause Scrafty to reveal its Quick Guard, it wasn’t really too big a factor as the only priority move I had was Sucker Punch (which I had already planned not to rely on anyways). I also was playing a bit too passively and not taking enough calculated risks when I was on the back foot to attempt to regain the momentum, which left Kit Meng with the momentum and the upper hand. He was able to easily shut down my options and close it out to take it to the final game.

Round 3 was particularly tense as there had been a disconnection during the first clash; we were instructed to use the same leads but were allowed to pick different moves instead. That let to a lot of mindgames as we tried to figure out if the other would change their moves - something that would have gone in his favor if not for a single Draco Meteor miss. It was almost certainly the deciding moment of the game, shifting the momentum and allowing me to carve out a narrow victory - as well as a grim reminder as to how at times trainers are at the mercy of the RNG gods.

Result: 1-0 1-1 2-1 W

Semifinals

Vs Low Wai Yin

Team: Image Image Image Image Image Image

Link: TBA

Whilst our much-anticipated 'showdown of destiny' did not materialize (I had hoped to face Eugene while she had hoped to face her brother Kit Meng), this was certainly an intense - and rapid - battle.

Knowing Wai Yin, Singapore's sole representative at the Pokemon Worlds Championships last year, would have the upper hand in terms of prediction, I made the decision to dumb myself down rather than attempt to match her in the mindgames, to see if that would open up opportunities for me to exploit from her overpredictions. Rather than attempt to predict her moves, I instead made moves based on my team's current position - targeting the specific threats that were in play and preserving the necessary counters for those that weren't. At the same time I also kept an eye on her reactions to my moves - to see if I needed to adjust anything in the following battles.

Round 1 ended fairly quickly with my lead of Rotom-H/Salamence plowing through her team, taking out Talonflame and Kangaskhan in the first two turns at the cost of Salamence. Venusaur sniped down her Rotom-W with Leaf Storm soon after, leaving her Aegislash to be quickly overwhelmed by the three-on-one odds.

Round 2 looked to start the same way with the same leads, and I inputted the same opening moves as I did from round 1 to see how Wai Yin would adjust to my lead. Tailwind messed with my decision-making and gave her the advantage that she was able to press home, taking out my team one member at a time as I struggled to recover and adapt to the new change in speed.

I chose to stick with the same four for the deciding game as I felt they weren't being outmatched - rather I as the trainer had to tighten up my moves and plays, look for a chance to take the advantage or at the very least ensure that I did not concede the advantage to her. I chose to conserve my Rotom-H for anti-Talonflame measures and match up Venusaur against Rotom-W, providing a free turn for Mawile to switch in and Intimidate-shuffle Kangaskhan afterwards as Venusaur forced Rotom-W on the defensive. I prioritized Kangaskhan after Rotom-W went down to take out the biggest threat/comeback-potential on her team, and eventually Mega Mawile took down her Garchomp for the victory.

Result: 1-0 1-1 2-1 W

Grand Finals

Vs Nelson Lim

Team: Image Image Image Image Image Image

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oagx2d1Dhks (Game 1), http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NW85vCnuiis (Game 2)

This game was one where I was constantly behind in both rounds; I felt I was unable to get any sort of proper offense going and my team was getting whittled down one by one. I had hoped to mount a comeback with Chlorophyll Venusaur in round 1 after Trick a Room ended; the sunlight faded, and so did my hopes. While I was able to take out Gardevoir early in the second round, the damage had already been done - the anticipated switch of -2 Rotom-H into Aegislash did not come and my Murkrow soon went down unable to do much. Mega Mawile can (and has in the past) made comebacks, but Rotom-Heat and Aegislash are two of its worst matchups, eventually ending my run and the tournament.

Result: 0-1 0-2 L

Team Evaluation

The decision to put the Scarf back on Rotom-Heat worked wonders - it allowed the microwave to make the plays I needed it to make and provide the pressure and damage needed to kickstart or maintain an offense. Whilst I had Will-o-Wisp on it, I did not use it throughout the top cut for fear of misses. Despite that, it caused numerous problems for my opponents and racked up its fair share of KOs as well.

Mega Mawile and Salamence both had their own share of KOs, though the latter rarely made it through an entire round. Nonetheless it was usually able to inflict the damage necessary before going down.

Venusaur earned its spot on the team and didn't (unlike its namesake) stink, dealing with Rotom-Ws and Azumarills as planned. Though the matchup is not in its favor by any means, it also had the potential to deal with Gardevoirs - unfortunately it came too late. It did also prove useful in setting up situations for me to switch in Mawile safely, forcing switches or Protects on the opponent team.

Garchomp did not do as much work as I had hoped it would; the chances to Draco Meteor an opposing Dragon were few and far between, and all those times Garchomp did not face the Dragon directly. Rough Skin made it useful as a switch-in punish to Fake Outers after it had been burnt, though the Life Orb recoil racks up faster than one might expect. Nonetheless, Garchomp still remained a solid - if at times unremarkable - Pokemon for this and any team; not necessarily the best fit, but rarely the worst.

Murkrow didn't live up to the hype - probably due to my lack of experience while using it. The first thing to be replaced in my future plans for this team.

Special Thanks:

To all my opponents in both Swiss and top-cut. I truly enjoyed battling with every single one of you, even if it didn't look that way during the time.

Reset Bags, for letting me double-check my exact EV spreads when I’ve forgotten them.

Shang Loh, who enthusiastically approved of my decision to use Murkrow, and who gave me the Bulbasaur necessary to breed my Venusaur. He laughed when I realized the first one did not have egg moves - the night before top cut.

Eugene Tan, Skyler D'Nasty and Shang Loh, whose insights and battle practice (and maulings) helped prepare me for battle.

Low Wai Yin, for that chocolate chip cookie before the finals.

The Korean buffet restaurant near the tournament venue, which helped me overcome my fear of Korean food.

Matthew Hui, Justin Lok, Shawn Tang, Ryan Loh Junjie and Ng Soon Aik for planning, organizing and running the tournament so smoothly. The Elite Four wouldn't exist without you guys.

Isaac Christopher Lam, Ryan Loh Junjie and Shang Loh for providing awesome commentary during top cut.

The commentator for FIFA Online that gave me something to focus on while waiting for the tournament to start. Ronaldo.

Image Credits

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Sceptile wasn't available, so I went for the next best thing.

~~SCEPTILExBLAZIKEN FTW~~