Hey, everyone! My name is Zach Kelly, also known as no one interesting (@noneinterestin). I started playing VGC in late 2017 in the seniors division and managed to get Top 8 at the 2018 World Championships. Today, already in the masters division, I’m here to share my team, which I used to get Top 16 at the Oceania International Championships back in February.
I started building this team a few weeks into the format. At the time, I felt very lost in the new format as I felt Dynamax added so many new options that playing around it defensively was very hard to do.
At that point, I decided to build around Gothitelle. Gothitelle was more of a comfort pick for me since I was coming from VGC19 Ultra Series playing YvelDon Gengar the entire format. Its ability, Shadow Tag, is its most valuable tool: it traps the opposing Pokémon in as long as they aren’t Ghost-type or had Shadow Tag themselves. This helps against Pokémon that usually like to Dynamax turn one since Shadow Tag allows me to easily reposition and trap them in, denying them from switching in something like Togekiss, that avoids big damage with redirection. It also has access to Trick Room, which gave me an extra speed control option if I needed it and a way to reverse opposing Trick Room.
I then had the idea of Gothitelle, Corviknight and Tyranitar. At the time, Charizard was a big threat, so my idea was to be able to trap Charizard and other threatening Fire-type Pokémon in with Tyranitar to allow Corviknight to set up with Bulk Up later on. Another nice thing was that I could lead with Corviknight and Gothitelle, set up Bulk Up with the help of Gothitelle’s Fake Out which can sometimes just run through entire teams that are unprepared to face Corviknight, and, if not, at least sets up a situation where you can win with Tyranitar.
Although this core was strong, it still had a few weaknesses, its biggest one being Duraludon. It is able to hit all three members super effectively, so I chose Gastrodon to be able to deal with it. It also had nice synergy with Gothitelle as it functioned well under Trick Room. My next team member was Arcanine. Its Intimidate ability was invaluable to a team based around Shadow Tag, since defensive positioning was very important. The last member was the hardest to decide, since it didn’t really feel like there were many other Pokémon that threatened these five extremely well, so I chose Grimmsnarl. Grimmsnarl was able to threaten fast Pokémon with Thunder Wave, which was really valuable since the team didn’t really have a fast mode and was able to set up screens to boost bulk even more.
I used this version of the team for a few weeks, but I eventually moved on and built other teams because I felt like it was not that good, since new threats like Milotic and Durant were rising up in usage and more bad match-ups just started to pile on, and I just couldn’t think of a solution. However, a few weeks later, I read a team report by Justin “Lukamir” Ramirez about his Gothitelle Durant team. Our teams were both really similar and it inspired me to try building around Gothitelle again. As I mentioned earlier, the two biggest threats to the team were Milotic and Durant, so I needed to find a single Pokémon that could win against both of them.
Grimmsnarl was the most expendable member, so I started to sub it out for different Pokemon. It eventually came down to either Goodra or Dragapult for the last slot, as both had access to Thunderbolt and Flamethrower, and could beat Milotic and Durant if played right. Goodra provided immense special bulk and even had access to Sludge Bomb, which let it use Max Ooze to boost its special attack. However, it was slow, could take a lot of damage from Max Steelspike and relied on Dynamax to beat both Durant and Milotic. Dragapult, on the other hand, was faster than Durant and could even take out a Dynamaxed Durant with just one Flamethrower. I decided to go with Dragapult because I didn’t have time to set up Trick Room versus Durant teams, so being speedy was very valuable.
Gothitelle @ Kasib Berry
Ability: Shadow Tag
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Def / 12 Spe
– Fake Out
– Trick Room
– Helping Hand
Gothitelle was an extremely important Pokémon, so it was brought to almost every game, and always came in game 1. This was because its utility was invaluable, since Shadow Tag is such a strong ability and could lead to situations where you can get a free KO from turn 1 with a Helping Hand boosted Max Move or can set yourself up for a very favourable turn 2 with Fake Out plus Bulk Up from Corviknight, or a Trick Room to set up for Tyranitar and Gastrodon. In the rare situations where I feel like I don’t want to bring Gothitelle after game 1, it’s usually because my opponent revealed a Dark-type coverage move and it was going to be too hard to position Gothitelle around it. Psychic was actually used a lot on Gothitelle, since the team could struggle against Conkeldurr sometimes. The speed on it was to speed creep opposing Gothitelle and Grimmsnarl that had a bit of investment.
Corviknight @ Lum Berry
Ability: Mirror Armor
EVs: 252 HP / 60 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 180 Spe
– Bulk Up
– Brave Bird
– Iron Head
The star of the team! Corviknight is extremely bulky and hard to take down, especially when you have a Bulk Up already set up. Some people might be wondering why I chose to use Bulk Up over Iron Defense, and there are two main reasons. The first reason is that you can bring Bulk Up Corviknight in as a lead to be a powerful offensive force while Iron Defense can’t really be used as a good lead, since it’s more suited to be a good end-game win condition. The second reason is that Bulk Up Corviknight can abuse Dynamax so much better than Iron Defense Corviknight. An Iron Defense variant wouldn’t be doing much damage and you would be forced to drop either Max Airstream or Max Steelspike on an Iron Defense set. You always want to have access to both of these Max Moves because the speed boosts are the only form of speed control on this team outside of Trick Room, and they allow you to go for Roost before your opponent can move once Dynamax ends. Max Steelspike is also needed to boost the bulk of Corviknight, but more importantly, its partner. Something like a defense-boosted Tyranitar or Gastrodon can be very hard to take down.
I chose to use a Lum Berry because the most common way my opponents tried to stop Corviknight was with status like Will-o-Wisp from Arcanine, Thunder Wave from Grimmsnarl or Yawn from Togekiss. Holding a Lum Berry allows Corviknight to avoid taking a status condition, since Dynamaxed Corviknight can almost always knock out the opposing status-inflicting Pokémon before they try it a second time. 180 EVs in Corviknight’s speed hits 110 speed, which outspeeds Morpeko after a Max Airstream. Even though I knew I probably wouldn’t face any Morpeko in Melbourne, I hit 110 because it’s only one more point higher than what’s needed to outspeed Arcanine after a Max Airstream so I decided that it was better to be safe than sorry.
Tyranitar @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 236 HP / 196 Atk / 20 Def / 4 SpD / 52 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Rock Slide
A pretty standard Tyranitar set. It pairs up really well with Gothitelle to hit targets that were weak to Rock Slide and deals huge damage with Helping Hand. It also functioned pretty well under Trick Room if the opposing team didn’t have anything slower than it. The spread came from Lukamir’s team report, except that I took out 8 EVs from attack and put it into speed because I didn’t want to speed tie with anyone who used the same spread as me.
Gastrodon @ Rindo Berry
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 252 HP / 36 Def / 220 SpA
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Earth Power
Gastrodon was really useful during the tournament. Not only did it have a good damage output and coverage to hit common threats like Duraludon and Arcanine, but its Storm Drain ability also protected the team from being hit by single-target Water-type attacks. It also heavily discouraged my opponents from bringing Dracovish at all, since I could easily trap it in if it locked itself into Fishious Rend and I could just focus on its partner. Gastrodon could also win potential 2 vs 1 situations because of its immense bulk and access to Recover.
Arcanine @ Mago Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 Spe
– Flare Blitz
There isn’t really much to say about this Arcanine, it was just a standard set but did the job it needs to do. One thing I did think about before the night of the tournament though, was if I should use Safeguard or Protect. While practicing for the tournament, I had always used Safeguard, but I decided to go with Protect last second. I didn’t really base this off of anything, I just felt like it would be the better option. In the end, I did end up missing Safeguard for a few games, but I did not regret going with Protect. You can really go either way with Safeguard and Protect, but it just comes down to preference.
Dragapult @ Life Orb
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Shadow Ball
– Draco Meteor
By far the least used member of the six, but was crucial in certain match-ups. Dragapult is here to beat both Durant and Milotic thanks to its Fire and Electric coverage. Although I didn’t use it to beat opposing Corviknight in practice, I learned that it was useful to bring against Corviknight over the course of the tournament. Besides these three specific Pokémon, Dragapult is not needed for anything else. However, it is very effective in a game 2 or 3 situation because the opponent may not expect it to have the coverage that it does, but it also has a huge damage output with a Life Orb boosted Draco Meteor. One thing I considered in the teambuilding process was Assault Vest Dragapult. I thought it would be a good idea since it was already running four attacking moves and the extra bulk could help make it a safer option to switch in. I ultimately decided against it though, since its damage output was not enough to KO Milotic with Max Lightning most of the time, even with the Electric Terrain boosting the second attack.
Definitely the strongest lead this team has the option to go for, as it opens the opportunity to start boosting with Bulk Up from turn 1. Don’t go for this lead if you see Rotom-Wash or Rotom-Heat in team preview, since they both beat Corviknight.
Also a very solid lead, Tyranitar can put out offensive pressure right away and Gothitelle can set up Trick Room if needed.
Probably your best lead against Duraludon. If they have a Whimsicott, you can go for a Fake Out + Flare Blitz for a free KO, or you can just start going for Snarls if you know their Whimsicott has Protect.
This is a really good lead against Durant Milotic teams, especially if they lead with them both. You can stop Durant on turn one with a Flamethrower, and go for Max Lightning on the following turns if Milotic starts to go for Coil to threaten Hypnosis, otherwise you can go for Thunderbolt.
A good lead to go for if you don’t want to bring Gothitelle but is still a strong match-up for Corviknight. This lead allows for great defensive switch-in potential for the Corviknight slot, since most of its threats are special attackers, which can be hit by Snarl before they attack.
|You can just ignore Rotom and focus on a Gastrodon vs Rotom endgame most of the time, but if they have Dark Pulse, you’re forced to focus it down which is where the problems start. You have no way to threaten it and it can hit everything except Gastrodon for super effective damage, which is even worse when it has a Nasty Plot set up. I didn’t really have much practice against this going into the tournament, but I think you can lead with Tyranitar + Gothitelle, go for a Max Darkness turn 1 and let Gothitelle get KO’d, so you can bring in Dragapult to KO it with a Draco Meteor after the special defense drop.|
|Not usually a huge problem, but when paired with Rotom, you can’t bring Corviknight to beat it, so you have to rely on Gothitelle to chip it down to a good range to finish it off.|
|It can easily overwhelm your team if you let its partner set up speed control, so the main goal is to go for a Fake Out and knock out its partner, most commonly Whimsicott or Grimmsnarl. If their partner is Grimmsnarl, you won’t be able to KO it on turn one, so you need to go for Snarl + Trick Room the following turn in anticipation of them going for Thunder Wave on turn two. However, if they call it and go for Fake Tears and reveal Max Darkness into the Gothitelle, you’ll be in a pretty tricky position.|
Day 1 Swiss Rounds
Round 1 vs Eric Ríos (finished 10-4, Top 8) | LWL
This was a name I dreaded seeing as I checked my phone for pairings. I knew Eric was a really strong player, so I knew it was going to be a tough game. When I saw team preview, I was a little relieved, as the plan against sand was pretty simple, but his Corviknight complicated things. Both games I lost came down to the Corviknight 1 vs 1, which he easily won because his Corviknight was the Iron Defense and Body Press variant, which always beats Bulk Up Corviknight in the 1 vs 1.
Round 2 vs Evan Weng (finished 5-4) | WW
Although he was from Singapore too, I didn’t really know much about Evan going into the match. I coincidentally ran into Evan when walking to the venue the morning of the tournament and learned that he was a new player, so his relatively high skill really impressed me. Although it was a pretty hard match-up for him, he played well. Definitely someone I would look out for in the future.
Round 3 vs Matthew Roe (finished 6-3, Top 64) | WW
Both games were pretty quick. I don’t remember his exact lead for game 1, but it was completely unprepared for my lead of Tyranitar and Gothitelle, so I easily swept through his whole team by Dynamaxing and was able to click Helping Hand every turn. In game 2, he lead with Gyarados and Dragapult to counter Tyranitar and Gothitelle. He Dynamaxed Dragapult and went for a Max Phantasm into Gothitelle and a Waterfall into Tyranitar as Tyranitar Protected and Gothitelle was able to set up Trick Room thanks to its Kasib Berry. After that turn one, it was just a rinse and repeat of game 1. This set is a perfect example of the fact that having an incorrect lead against Gothitelle might just make you lose the entire game.
Round 4 vs Bryan Freeman (finished 3-6) | WLW
I lead with Gothitelle + Arcanine into his very telegraphed lead of Grimmsnarl + Duraludon. From there I was able to Snarl Duraludon down and set up Trick Room to secure a favourable endgame. Game 2 was where it started to get a bit nerve-racking, since my Joy-Cons started drifting all the way down in the middle of the match. I panicked and focused on just clicking attacks with Arcanine since I didn’t want to run out of time, which ended up coming back to bite me because Arcanine wasn’t in the back when the time came for his Darmanitan to come in and start firing off attacks unintimidated; it ultimately led to me losing. I got my Pro Controller out before we started game 3, which ended pretty easily. After this game I just got my Pro Controller out before every round, even though it really bothered me and took up space, because I did not want a repeat of what had just happened.
Round 5 vs Ismat Myron Beg (finished 5-4) | WW
Before the match started, Ismat was telling me about how I was the third Singaporean he had faced that day, calling it “the Singapore Open but in Australia”. Going into team preview, the match-up looked pretty good for me, since Roserade was the only Pokémon that could really outspeed everything except for Arcanine and use Sleep Powder. In game 1, he surprisingly went for Max Starfall with his Togekiss onto my Dynamaxed Tyranitar, which allowed me to KO Togekiss in return thanks to my Weakness Policy, and also setting up Misty Terrain for me, protecting me from any Sleep Powders. It was definitely a huge misplay on his part which allowed me to win the game. In game 2, he ended up missing two crucial Sleep Powders which ended up costing him the game.
Round 6 vs Charles Vo (finished 6-3, Top 64) | WW
I was able to lead safely with Gothitelle + Corviknight to scout out what he was leading, in order to see if anything threatened Corviknight, before switching out into Tyranitar as he didn’t have something like a Grimmsnarl to support his Duraludon or Chandelure. In both games I was able to set up Trick Room and get a KO with Tyranitar before his Conkeldurr came in, where I could bring Corviknight to deal with it.
Round 7 vs Meaghan Rattle (finished 8-6, Top 32) | LL
This was the only set throughout day 1 that I felt I couldn’t win because the match-up was so heavily against me. Surprising, since it’s the team Aaron Traylor used to win Dallas Regionals, but a single item choice really just flipped the match-up from favourable to very unfavourable, and that would be Jellicent’s Weakness Policy. In game one I Snarled into Meaghan’s lead of Jellicent + Togekiss, as the Weakness Policy activated and I effectively had already lost the game from there since I couldn’t deal with Jellicent. In game 2 I lead with Gothitelle + Dragapult, Faking Out the Togekiss as I Dynamaxed and went for Max Phantasm onto Jellicent, but her play really caught me off guard: she decided to Dynamax her Jellicent, allowing it to live my attack and KO my Dragapult back. Although it was really surprising that she Dynamaxed her Jellicent, it was 100% the right play to make in hindsight. After that turn, there was no way I could recover and I just forfeited.
Round 8 vs Wei Wen Ang (finished 5-4) | LWW
Welcome back to the Singapore Open! Wei Wen led with Raichu + Braviary in game one as I lead with Corviknight + Gothitelle. Although his lead was very obvious, there wasn’t much I could do about it. I went for a Fake Out + Bulk Up as he revealed that his Braviary had Max Strike in game 1, which complicated things a bit because Mirror Armor bounces the speed drop back at Braviary to activate Defiant, but I realised in game 2 that if I kept going for Max Airstream and he goes for the Max Strike, I’ll always have the speed advantage. In game 3 he changed his lead up and went with Milotic + Braviary. I went for the same play of Fake Out + Bulk Up, but his Milotic landed blind Hypnosis twice in the following turns, getting rid of Corviknight’s Lum Berry and putting it to sleep. Thankfully, Corviknight was able to wake up quickly and win the game. After winning this game, I guaranteed myself CP and accomplished my goal for the tournament.
Round 9 vs Ben Madigan (finished 6-3, Top 64) | WLW
I was nervous going into this next match, since it was my win and in for day 2. I had already completed my goal, but I wanted more. Unfortunately, the match-up for this game was not looking very favourable for me. Conkeldurr and Rotom-Wash were not two Pokémon I liked seeing on the same team, especially since Rotom looked like a very offensive one.
I led with Gothitelle + Tyranitar as he went with Grimmsnarl + Rotom. This pretty much confirmed my suspicion that the Rotom was offensive and played the game assuming it was Life Orb with Dark Pulse, which it ended up having. I Faked Out Grimmsnarl and Max Darkness’d the Rotom as he went for Max Darkness onto Gothitelle as it barely survived. I then went for Helping Hand + Max Darkness as he went for another Max Darkness and Foul Play. At that point, Rotom was gone and I could bring Corviknight in safely to beat everything else.
The second game played out mostly the same way, but I lost because I was too scared to Iron Head his Togekiss with my +1 Corviknight. It might not have KO’d the Togekiss and I was scared of a potential Weakness Policy, but it ended up being Scope Lens and cost me the game.
Game 3 also played out the same, except that he went for Max Guard on Rotom, which allowed his Grimmsnarl to KO my Gothitelle and put me in a pretty bad position since both Corviknight and Arcanine in the back don’t really want to take damage from Rotom. In the endgame, it came down to my Corviknight at around 80% HP without any boosts and my full HP Tyranitar vs his Togekiss and Conkeldurr. Togekiss went for a Heat Wave, chipping Corviknight down to 30%. Corviknight Roosts as Tyranitar goes for Rock Slide, getting rid of Togekiss and flinching Conkeldurr. At that point it was still any player’s game, but the Rock Slide flinch really just sealed it up as I could Bulk Up without having to worry about him targeting my Corviknight. Then I got another Rock Slide flinch and was able to get to +2 and OHKO Conkeldurr with Brave Bird. I don’t think the flinch really mattered bar him getting a big crit through my defense boosts, but not exactly the way I wanted to win. Regardless, I was still really happy with getting into day 2.
Day 2 Swiss Rounds
Round 10 vs Diego Ferreira (finished 10-4, Top 16) | WW
This was not a team I would expect going into day 2 of an International Championship, so I was very unprepared, as most people would be against this team. However, I identified that I could easily just win with Corviknight no matter what he tried to do. Both games pretty much went how I predicted, with most of his members not even being able to touch Corviknight. Umbreon did reveal a surprise Guard Swap, stealing Corviknight’s defense boosts for itself, but otherwise it was a pretty straightforward game.
Round 11 vs Raghav Malaviya (finished 11-3, Top 4) | LL
This was the first time I’ve played on an official stream and it was really exciting for me! I had always wanted to play on stream and I was a bit surprised when they picked me since I wasn’t really known. Anyway, I’m not going to waste any time explaining what happened since you can watch the match here.
Round 12 vs Kevin Ngim (finished 10-4, Top 16) | LWW
I go against yet another player I could have played back in Singapore. Kevin’s team looked very standard, but had some really unexpected sets. Although I don’t really remember what happened in this game, I do remember that in game 2 my Arcanine survived a Draco Meteor from his Choice Specs Dragapult which allowed it to get a crucial Will-o-Wisp onto Excadrill. I also learned that his Excadrill was Weakness Policy, which made it somewhat harder for me to deal with. Even with the Specs Dragapult and Weakness Policy Excadrill, it was a pretty straightforward sand match-up.
Round 13 vs Chaiyawat Traiwichcha (finished 9-5, Top 32) | WLW
In case you don’t know him, Chaiyawat is more commonly known online as Nontaro. I had ran into him multiple times on ladder when preparing for this tournament and I didn’t beat him a single time. Despite that, or maybe even because of that, I was able to win. The good thing is that I knew all of his sets going into the game, so there were no surprises. Thanks to my games on ladder, I was even able to rule out what to lead because I had experience playing against this team which I otherwise would have been very unprepared for.
Game 1 goes exactly to plan, as he leads Togedemaru + Gyarados into my Gastrodon + Gothitelle. I was able to pretty much cycle Intimidates and neutralize Gyarados the entire time because of the switching synergy Gastrodon and Arcanine had against Gyarados. From there I was able to bring in Tyranitar and deal huge damage to his entire team to the point where Conkeldurr came in and could be chipped by Psychic by Gothitelle.
In game 2 he unexpectedly led with Duraludon + Gyarados into my Arcanine + Gothitelle. It was a good position for me as I could Snarl Duraludon, but it critted my Gastrodon on the switch in and KO’d it, which effectively just let Gyarados go crazy with Waterfalls onto Arcanine which is too overwhelming.
In game 3 I made the very risky decision of leaving Tyranitar behind in favor of Dragapult. Although Tyranitar was the main reason I won game 1, I felt like he was very prepared for it and he wouldn’t let my Tyranitar put out that much pressure in the future. I ended up being right, as the second game goes pretty similarly to the last game, except that I’m able to send out my Dragapult to OHKO Gyarados with Thunderbolt which pretty much won me the game, as his main Pokemon to threaten both Gastrodon and Arcanine was gone.
Round 14 vs Brady Smith (finished 11-3, Top 8) | LL
At this point I was 10-3, one win away from Top 8. I had never imagined that I would get this close to getting Top 8 in a masters International, but here I was. Unfortunately for me, I had just run into the team I feared most going into this tournament. It had so many things that did well against my team; the combination of Conkeldurr and Dark Pulse Rotom-Wash, Bisharp, and even Weakness Policy Togekiss and Sludge Wave Gengar. Brady led with Rotom + Bisharp in both games, and there really wasn’t much I could do about Bisharp’s fast Assurance, so it was a pretty straightforward game for him. It was disappointing facing such a bad match-up as my win and in for top cut, but I dodged so many bad match-ups for the rest of the tournament so I couldn’t really complain.
Even though I lost my win and in for top cut, I’m still really happy with how the tournament went for me. There was a lot of uncertainty for me about doing well in masters, so I was really happy to be able to make such a deep run in a masters International, especially since I didn’t do very well in Brazil back in November and usually can’t even get points from locals. Playing on stream was also really cool even though I didn’t win because I’ve wanted to play on an official Pokémon stream since I started playing VGC.
And lastly, thank you for reading my team report! I do still think that this team will be viable for Series 3 with a few tweaks, and if you do decide to use it, I hope you have as much fun with it as I did!