Hey everyone! My name is Andrew Ding and I’m here to share a bit about my Collinsville event experience and talk about the team that got me 1st at one of North America’s most stacked regionals.
A bit about myself: I’m a pretty new player as I started playing VGC late September 2019 (so about 5 ½ months ago). My first VGC event ever was the September 2019 Atlantic City Regionals (I hadn’t even gone to a local before that lol) where I finished 5th. Since then, I’ve had consistent high placings at Regional + events and received my invite within 1 ½ months in November. I want to get a Day 2 invite this season, and my ultimate goal is to win Worlds.
This team was created by my close friend Justin Ramirez, and I want to make sure he gets 100% the credit for the team. I love this man for so many reasons both inside and outside of Pokemon, and I really feel this win is just as much his as it is mine. He helped me flowchart matchups the entire event, and honestly he is 100% the most inherently talented player I’ve met- the way he thinks and talks about the game is just different and I’m really blessed to have him as a good friend as we continue this journey together.
There is already a team report about this team explaining both the teambuilding process and how the team works that he wrote, and I played the team similarly so I won’t spend too much time on the team philosophy but I will talk a bit about each of my Pokémon here as I did make some changes from his version:
Gothitelle @ Kasib Berry
Ability: Shadow Tag
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Def / 4 SpD
IVs: 0 Spe
– Fake Out
– Trick Room
– Ally Switch
It’s really hard to pick a Pokémon that’s the most important for this team (cough Durant) but Gothitelle is a huge reason why the team can win games and it is very good at enabling both Tyranitar and Durant. I swapped out Helping Hand for Ally Switch (different from Justin’s Gothitelle) which was a really hard decision but ultimately I think Ally Switch wins more games than Helping Hand, as it can turn really dire situations into 50/50s for you.
I honestly never missed Helping Hand during the event, and psychic is extremely important as I had many situations in the end game where it was goth vs something 1v1 (like a Mudsdale etc) and I won. Fake Out and Trick Room are obviously non-negotiable (especially in the current meta) so it came down to Helping Hand vs Ally Switch, and my gut told me to pick ally switch for the reasons stated above. Even though I only clicked it once during all of Top Cut, it allowed me to win a few of my swiss rounds. Kasib is correct over Colbur in my opinion because only ghost types are comfortable with Shadow Tag up, and we aren’t running a Hypnosis version so sash doesn’t seem correct here.
Milotic @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 164 Def / 4 SpA / 60 SpD / 28 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
Honestly, I don’t think Milotic is good, despite how finals went. It just feels super clunky to use and Rotom-Wash would be a better water type most of the time. That said, it is one of the only Pokemon in the format (maybe the only one) that can truly 1v4 if put in the right situation against the right team. The other 90% of the time though, it’s just dead weight and I’d rather bring a different Pokemon. I usually only brought it if I saw in team preview it had the potential to 1v4 (such as teams that only had physical carries), or if I saw a Corviknight, as Corviknight is extremely difficult for the team to deal with without Milotic (Arcanine is good but not enough usually).
Justin’s Milotic had Protect and Ice Beam, and there were definitely times where I missed Ice Beam (never really Protect) but every move here is essential to allow Milotic to be the 1v4 carry it can be. If you combine coils with Durant max moves it will do its job.
Tyranitar @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 236 HP / 204 Atk / 20 Def / 4 SpD / 44 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Rock Slide
My favorite Pokémon of the team. There’s not really too much to say about Tyranitar, it’s going to be one of your two dynamax Pokémon and it complements Durant very well, as it is usually good vs things that are (potentially) good vs Durant (Charizard, Togekiss, special water Pokémon in general, scarf Hydreigon, Arcanine, etc).
One play I would make often is to lead Gothitelle + Durant and then switch to Tyranitar turn 1 while clicking Trick Room, if both of their leads are weak to Tyranitar (such as Arcanine + something, or Rotom-Wash + Togekiss). I especially love doing it vs Arcanine because they are forced to max Arcanine (usually a non-optimal dynamax choice) in the face of Durant as regular Arcanine dies to Max Quake and then they spend a turn max flaring your Tyranitar while you get up Trick Room.
Tyranitar also works well outside of dynamax, and in dynamax virtually nothing can kill it. It’s just so good. I didn’t make any changes to Tyranitar from Justin’s version.
Durant @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 60 SpD / 188 Spe
– Iron Head
– Stomping Tantrum
In hindsight, this Durant’s EV spread + movepool combination was extremely stupid, as 188 speed EVs + Jolly allows it to outspeed Charizard, but I took off Max Rockfall…
I think the movepool is 100% correct, as we have a Tyranitar on the team with Gothitelle, so just use those instead of Durant against Charizard teams, and for the EVs I would either just go max attack and max speed, or set its speed to hit 163 and put the rest in SpD bulk. As for Durant itself, everyone knows what it does by now, it hits like a truck with Hustle and Life Orb and combined with Gothitelle, you punish leads extremely hard if they guess incorrectly (on whether you will lead Tyranitar or Durant).
Unlike Tyranitar, it’s pretty bad outside of dynamax so if you do the play I mentioned above of bringing both Durant + Tyranitar and dynamaxing Tyranitar, play as if you have 3.5 Pokémon lol.
Arcanine @ Mago Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 44 Def / 220 Spe
IVs: 0 SpA
– Flare Blitz
Arcanine is a support Pokémon that can also provide a decent amount of offensive pressure when necessary (like Gothitelle). Intimidate + Snarl lets you weaken both sides of the game (except against Milotic) and Will-O-Wisp and Protect are both pretty standard.
Honestly, the entire Pokemon here is pretty standard from the item to the EV spread to the movepool, you want to outspeed Excadrill obviously blah blah, really the only thing I think worth bringing up is the decision of special vs physical Arcanine. Personally I think Flare Blitz is much better than both Flamethrower and Heat Wave as it allows you to proc your own berry (as I did vs Wolfe in the finals), it can’t miss and it actually feels like you’re doing damage when you use it. (Flamethrower doesn’t even kill normal bulkless Excadrill ffs). This is also the same Arcanine as Justin’s version.
Sylveon @ Pixie Plate
EVs: 244 HP / 188 Def / 76 SpA
– Hyper Voice
– Quick Attack
Ah Sylveon, the glue that holds the team together. In VGC2020, it is important to recognize Pokémon that are *better* non-dynamaxed than dynamaxed and Sylveon is one of the best candidates of this. Other Pokémon typically good at this are those who have priority moves (such as Conkeldurr) or status moves that are critical to their kit.
If I bring Tyranitar, I always bring Sylveon in the same game as it covers Conkeldurr and any other fighting type that could stop Tyranitar from destroying the rest of their team. I almost never lead it because it is very good at cleaning up from the back, but I did vs Bingjie game 1 because I knew he would lead Seismitoad and I wanted to yawn it. However, outside of very specific use cases, just bring it in the back and let Hyper Voice carry you.
I changed Throat Spray to Pixie Plate because it’s just better- Quick Attack won me many games throughout the entire event, and so did Yawn. You don’t need Mystical Fire or Hyper Beam.
|I never liked seeing this Pokémon in team preview, as it forced me to bring Milotic when I usually wouldn’t want to otherwise. It’s good vs both Durant and Tyranitar and you need to play around it very carefully. If it’s the Bulk Up variant you need to set up before they do.|
|Ironically, this team is pretty weak to opposing Durant. Our Durant is not max speed and Gothitelle is absolutely useless vs opposing Durant (outside of maybe winning some Ally Switch mind games) so you either need to max arcanine or hope you can set up Milotic fast enough. It’s not fun.|
Before the Event
This tournament was actually important to me for an additional reason before the event: I was feeling pretty weary from all the traveling I was doing and the Day 2 race, and thinking about dropping out (as I got my invite in November) and just chilling until Worlds, and then just quitting and not playing next season.
I know this might sound crazy to those who aren’t Christian or religious but because of how I was feeling, I wanted to surrender this event to God and I asked God to use this event to show me whether he wanted me to continue playing VGC or to just quit, and after a lot of prayer, I went into this event with the mindset of: if I don’t do well then I’ll take that as a sign that he doesn’t want me to continue VGC (and I would be obedient in that), but if I did well then I will take that as a sign of him having a purpose for me to continue this. This actually helped me be calm the entire event, as I was truly okay with whatever the result was. Anyway, the fact that I ended up not just doing well, but winning, was such deep confirmation to me there is a reason from him for me to keep going to events and competing, and I hope to use this for his glory, not mine. I think as Christians our ultimate mission is to glorify him in everything we do (including VGC), and that was and is the mindset I will have forever. Needless to say, I couldn’t have done this without him. Again, I understand this might sound super insane if you don’t have a similar background but if anyone does ever want to chat about this or Jesus I would love to 🙂
As far as selecting this team, I was really undecided on what to bring up until the day before the event, but I had the chance to play in the Premier Challenge the Friday before the event and I was really comfortable with this team on ladder (only team I felt like I had truly mastered) and ended up winning the Premier Challenge, so that sort of pushed me to use it in the main event.
So, I don’t take notes during events ever…and so unfortunately I don’t exactly remember all the teams of all my swiss opponents but I’ve posted my Swiss schedule below. To be honest, both rounds I lost were due to hax haha but that is the game we play, and to their credit my opponents still played well in those rounds. One funny memory I do have is I remember I somehow won a game round 8 with a Milotic vs Gastrodon end game and an Arcanine that snarled the Gastrodon to -6.
|Round||Win / Lose||Opponent||Opponent run|
|R1||WIN||Kevin Flores||4 – 5|
|R2||WIN||Stefan Mott||6 – 3|
|R3||LOSE||Alberto Lara||9 – 2|
|R4||WIN||Nathan Beasley||4 – 3|
|R5||WIN||Edmund Young||6 – 3|
|R6||LOSE||Nathan Ortiz||8 – 3|
|R7||WIN||Curtis Cousins||5 – 4|
|R8||WIN||Matthew Woodruff||5 – 4|
|R9||WIN||Dylan Davidson||6 – 3|
|T16||WIN||Justin Burns||8 – 2|
|T8||WIN||Bingjie Wang||9 – 2|
|T4||WIN||Alex Arand||9 – 3|
|Finals||WIN||Wolfey Glick||10 – 3|
Top 16 vs Justin Burns | LWW
I obviously knew Justin Burns was going to be my opponent from the standings and labbed out the matchup with Justin Ramirez the night before in our hotel room.
Game 1: I lead with what Justin Ramirez and I planned: Arcanine + Durant. He leads Rotom-Wash + Togekiss, which I knew he was going to do, as honestly it’s the only thing he can lead to have a chance of winning. Any other lead combination from him will get slaughtered by Durant. I knew his Togekiss was Sash so the plan here was to Snarl + Steelspike (to cover Follow Me) and then win the dynamax trades. However, his -1 (but technically neutral because of Helping Hand) Max Geyser did significantly more damage than I expected into my Durant, and I lost the game from here as I’d die from another Life Orb proc.
I also read a Trick Room + Max Guard turn incorrectly later on and that sealed up me losing the end game.
Game 2: Arcanine had no way of stopping Helping hHand so I lead Gothitelle + Durant this time, with Sylveon and Arcanine in the back. Gothitelle does not either, but the threat of my own Helping Hand / Ally Switch is enough to create mind games. Unfortunately, we didn’t really get to play a game here as I basically won turn 1 due to a crit Max Flutterby on his Rotom and he forfeited the next turn. However, one important thing to note is that he likely expected my play to be Helping Hand + Flutterby (which guarantees a KO on Rotom-Wash) so I believe he clicked Follow Me, but I used Fake Out instead.
Game 3: We lead the same thing, and I click Fake Out again (as I don’t even have Helping Hand on my Gothitelle, but I don’t think he knew that, because if he did then he would never worry about covering it with Follow Me). Fake Out works again (he does not click Helping Hand) and I knew I won the game from here, as a -1 Max Geyser does not do enough damage to Durant for him to get enough momentum to win. The end game ended up being his Dusclops and ~10% HP Sylveon vs my full health Sylveon and Arcanine. Trick Room is up. He side Pain Split and Hyper Beams my +1 Sp.D Sylveon for around 50%. My own Hyper Voice cleans up from there.
Top 8 vs Bingjie Wang | WLW
Bingjie is a great friend of mine and I was excited to play him. I think my team is favored in this matchup going in but obviously nothing’s ever guaranteed.
These matches were streamed but I will still talk about each game.
Game 1: I knew he would lead Seismitoad so my only goal here was to get a Yawn off on it. After that, I was fairly confident I would win as my Tyranitar got enough value with its dynamax turns. There was some crazy RNG on both sides near the end (¾ rock slide misses and max turns of sleep) but I think they sort of cancelled each other out. Thankfully I scraped out with the win here.
Game 2: I talked to Justin Ramirez about the matchup before and he told me that Bingjie would lead Grimmsnarl + Seismitoad game 2 if I won game 1. Of course Justin was correct, being the legend he is. We had a flowchart for this entire game planned if Bingjie lead this but I made the incredibly stupid mistake of not bringing Tyranitar to reset weather (sorry Justin) and I let his Seismitoad go off basically. However, I knew if I just brought Tyranitar I would have won so I was excited to move on to game 3.
Game 3: I lead the same thing but Bingjie surprises me with a Chandelure + Conkeldurr lead. I had to think on the fly here, but heat wave was obvious so I just needed to safely break the Focus Sash on Chandelure and then max after. (This is just one of a million potential examples why Protect is correct on Durant by the way). After that, we play out the game until I have to decide what to switch in when my Gothitelle dies. I obviously did bring Tyranitar this time, but I figured using my free switch on Sylveon and the non-free switch into Tyranitar is better because it will scare out his Conkeldurr (Tyranitar would not) as well as either get the Weakness Policy used or my Tyranitar would be at 100% hp vs his Toxtricity end game. If he clicked overdrive instead of sludge bomb on the last turn of the game, it would have come down to my Durant hitting its 80% accurate Stomping Tantrum, but luckily he clicked Sludge Bomb so I guaranteed my move on to top 4.
Top 4 vs Alex Arand | LWW
These matches were also streamed, but again I will also talk about each game.
Game 1: I knew he would Protect on Whimsicott turn 1, but I did not expect the double Protect. After this, I just lost every read every turn, although the last turn honestly I meant to Protect Sylveon, but when I clicked “back” I did not realize it was already on Tyranitar, so I ended up protecting Tyranitar and the “communicating” screen showed up and that’s when I knew it was over. Either way, it’s still possible I would have lost because I’m not sure if Superpower OHKOs Duraludon from full but this was just a super messy game and I played it very poorly, misclick or not.
Game 2: The plan here was to do the play I stated earlier where I click Trick Room and swap into Tyranitar. However, he does not double Protect here and I lose my Gothitelle for free turn 1. I think at this point I’m out of the tournament, but somehow he does not ever click Fake Tears + Max Geyser into the same target on the same turn and my Durant is able to sweep through his team. I actually had a feeling that I would win the tournament at this point, because I really felt God stepped in and helped me win this game haha, 99 out of 100 times I should lose a game after a start like this.
Game 3: I go for the read that he would not double Protect and click Fake Out for the first time this set. After I saw I got the Fake Out and Max Flutterby off turn 1 I knew I had won the game. Some people might have been confused about the double target into Rotom but that was to cover him clicking Tailwind, to ensure Rotom would go down no matter who he killed that turn.
Finals vs Wolfe Glick | LWW
Game 1: I looked at his team and recognized that Milotic could 1v4 (I did not know his Reunicles had an Electric move), so my gameplan was to set up Steelspikes and Coil boosts with Milotic and Durant, regardless what he lead with (actually my plan all three games). I think I played this game correctly every turn except for the turn I clicked Muddy Water during his guaranteed turn of sleep. Had I used Recover there, I likely win this game, even with all the flinches and the first turn wake into double Rock Slide hit, so despite Wolfe telling me after the game that he got lucky (which is debatable in the first place), I think I deserve to lose this game anyway as I did misplay.
Game 2: Before I get started I do want to say that I’m really sorry (again) Wolfe about the timer situation and I understand your frustration and if others think you deserved the win honestly I did not know anything about it but I hope in the future we can play with the right ruleset in tournaments.
That said, I’m really proud of how I played this game, I think I played perfectly. I just let Milotic do its thing while playing much safer this time and made sure Arcanine got to use its berry. During the game itself it honestly felt like such a blur, but I’m glad I was able to show Milotic on stream finally because I had never brought it to a game in top cut before this haha.
Game 3: He leads Reunicles and Togekiss and I think I can set up with Milotic again, except he reveals Max Lightning. I think the Flutterby was actually correct turn one in hindsight because it allowed my Milotic to live the Max Lightning, although in the moment I thought I had messed up big time. I did get very fortunate with the Hyper Voice crit onto his Rhyperior, because there was no Milotic win-con in this game anymore and that carried me to closing out the game and winning the tournament.
I think this team is still strong even in series 3, although I would probably change some of the EV spreads a bit. As far as Collinsville is concerned, the entire event felt sort of supernatural to me for the reasons stated above, but I’m really glad I was able to win the last big regional before all of the subsequent ones were cancelled due to COVID-19. More than the win, the friends I’ve made from VGC are the biggest blessing to come out of this journey and I can’t wait to have fun at future events together.
Lastly, I want to once again thank Justin Ramirez for everything as well as Brady Smith, Joseph Ugarte and everyone else who showed me tremendous support over the weekend. I really love you all. And of course, most importantly, I want to give thanks and glory to God, I wouldn’t be here without him 🙂