Hey, guys! My name is Francisco Esteves (@FEstevesVGC) and I made Top 16 (14th out of 370 players) on the Victory Road Spring Challenge. I started playing VGC not long ago, in October 2019, and this is my first result at a “major” event. I want to thank Francisco Coroado (FCoroado), who made this team with me.
My first thought for Series 3 was to use Weather Ball Venusaur, so I decided to partner it up with not only Ninetales but also Tyranitar.
The first version of the team was Venusaur, Ninetales, Tyranitar, Duraludon, Togekiss and Jellicent, but it didn’t feel right, as Jellicent wasn’t helping much, and Duraludon wasn’t synergizing well with Tyranitar.
I knew my friend FCoroado was using a Tyranitar + Bronzong core successfully, so we came up with Venusaur, Ninetales, Tyranitar, Bronzong, Togekiss and Blastoise. It worked fine, but we had horrible Lapras matchups, so we had to make some adjustments.
Venusaur + Ninetales reminds me of Naruto, obviously because of the nine-tailed fox, but also from Jiraiya and the frogs; Gastrodon is a slug, as Tsunade’s Katsuyu; Corviknight (a crow with red eyes) reminded me of the crow Itachi kept inside Naruto (the crow with Shisui’s eye); Tyranitar reminded me of Jūgo after his transformation; and Sylveon’s eyes are really similar to the Hyūga eyes.
Gamabunta (Venusaur) (M) @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Leaf Storm
– Weather Ball
– Earth Power
– Sleep Powder
Venusaur is the main star of the team. We chose Leaf Storm over Energy Ball or Giga Drain because we were Dynamaxing Venusaur 70% of the games, but we didn’t want Frenzy Plant as we wanted a Grass-type move we could also use comfortably when not Dynamaxed (Solar Beam was not an option as we are running double weather). The main goal isn’t to abuse Sleep Powder, so we chose Life Orb over Wide Lens. Earth Power over Sludge Bomb was a tough decision, but we chose the first to deal with Fire types as Incineroar and Arcanine, and to have a better Duraludon matchup. We chose Timid over Modest so we could outspeed Modest Venusaur and Modest/Bold Togekiss out of sun.
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Duraludon (Dynamaxed): 278-328 (95.2 – 112.3%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 136 SpD Arcanine: 166-198 (84.2 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Rockfall (130 BP) vs. 228 HP / 4 SpD Togekiss: 143-169 (75.6 – 89.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
(Weather Ball Max Move during a sandstorm)
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Overgrowth (140 BP) vs. 68 HP / 188 SpD Solid Rock Rhyperior (Dynamaxed) in Sand: 320-378 (80.4 – 94.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
(Yes, this is a Dynamaxed Rhyperior!)
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Weather Ball (100 BP Fire) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Durant (Dynamaxed) in Sun: 660-780 (246.2 – 291%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Overgrowth (140 BP) vs. -2 244 HP / 60 SpD Tyranitar (Dynamaxed) in Sand: 328-385 (79.6 – 93.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
(Leaf Storm Max Move after Fake Tears)
Kyūbi (Ninetales) (F) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Fake Tears
Ninetales’ purpose is to support Venusaur. That’s it. We chose Heat Wave over Flamethrower to avoid Follow Me or Ally Switch (really important in Durant matchups). Having a fast Will-O-Wisp and non-Prankster Fake Tears reduces the opponent’s damage output and helps Venusaur hit harder. Protect is good as we normally want Ninetales to survive so it can possibly switch out, resetting the sun afterwards.
252 SpA Ninetales Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Excadrill in Sun: 188-224 (101 – 120.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Ninetales Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Durant (Dynamaxed) in Sun: 472-556 (176.1 – 207.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
Jūgo (Tyranitar) (M) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 244 HP / 132 Atk / 52 Def / 60 SpD / 20 Spe
– Rock Slide
The monster of the team. This thing is absurd. The set is pretty standard, and was a “gift” from Eduardo Cunha. We considered Brick Break to help our Lapras matchup, but the damage output was not enough to make the change.
132+ Atk Tyranitar Superpower vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Tyranitar: 192-228 (92.7 – 110.1%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
132+ Atk Tyranitar Max Rockfall (130 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Charti Berry Charizard (Dynamaxed): 282-332 (91.5 – 107.7%) — 50% chance to OHKO
132+ Atk Tyranitar Max Rockfall (130 BP) vs. 228 HP / 196+ Def Togekiss: 180-212 (95.2 – 112.1%) — 62.5% chance to OHKO
252+ Atk Conkeldurr Drain Punch vs. 244 HP / 56 Def Tyranitar (Dynamaxed): 264-312 (64 – 75.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Iron Fist Conkeldurr Mach Punch vs. 244 HP / 56 Def Tyranitar: 168-204 (81.5 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ Atk Excadrill High Horsepower vs. 244 HP / 56 Def Tyranitar: 162-192 (78.6 – 93.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252 Atk Life Orb Hustle Durant Max Steelspike (130 BP) vs. 244 HP / 52 Def Tyranitar (Dynamaxed): 335-398 (81.3 – 96.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Itachi (Corviknight-Gmax) (M) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Mirror Armor
EVs: 252 HP / 84 Atk / 12 Def / 4 SpD / 156 Spe
– Iron Head
– Brave Bird
We chose Gigantamax Corviknight solely to counter Lapras’ G-Max Resonance, as G-Max Wind Rage removes screens, hazards and terrains on the field. Tailwind felt mandatory as we didn’t have the Max Airstream speed boosts, and Roost was a way of winning 1v1 endgames and stalling Trick Room.
84+ Atk Corviknight G-Max Wind Rage (140 BP) vs. 156 HP / 4 Def Conkeldurr: 176-210 (88 – 105%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO
84+ Atk Corviknight Max Steelspike (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Togekiss: 168-198 (87.5 – 103.1%) — 25% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Togekiss Heat Wave vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Corviknight on a critical hit: 144-170 (70.2 – 82.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+2 252+ SpA Lapras Max Lightning (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Corviknight (Gigantamaxed): 276-326 (67.3 – 79.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Katsuyu (Gastrodon) (F) @ Rindo Berry
Ability: Storm Drain
EVs: 244 HP / 148 Def / 60 SpA / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Earth Power
Gastrodon is an incredible support to Tyranitar, due to its Storm Drain ability, and it also has a great synergy with Corviknight. Gastrodon is EV’d so its Earth Power does the same amount of damage as Venusaur’s.
60+ SpA Gastrodon Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Duraludon (Dynamaxed): 276-326 (94.5 – 111.6%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
60+ SpA Gastrodon Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Arcanine: 194-230 (98.4 – 116.7%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO
252 SpA Torkoal Max Overgrowth (140 BP) vs. 244 HP / 52 SpD Rindo Berry Gastrodon: 134-158 (61.7 – 72.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+2 100 SpA Lapras Freeze-Dry vs. 244 HP / 52 SpD Gastrodon (Dynamaxed): 340-408 (78.3 – 94%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Byakugan (Sylveon) (F) @ Pixie Plate
EVs: 100 HP / 4 Def / 156 SpA / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
– Hyper Voice
– Quick Attack
– Baby-Doll Eyes
The Fairy type of the team. As I said before, we originally went with Togekiss, as its Follow Me support is really helpful, and its overall stats are great, but we didn’t wanted to run double Flying, and Corviknight felt mandatory to beat Lapras (Togekiss would only make our matchup worse). Hence Sylveon, the cutest Dragon slayer. The spread was stolen from Marco Silva’s Oceania Internationals winning team. The Speed EVs make Sylveon outspeed Galarian Darmanitan under Tailwind. As our team lacks an Intimidate Pokémon, we chose Baby-Doll Eyes to have a priority Attack-reducing move that would work on Tyranitar. Quick Attack is a way of proccing Tyranitar’s Weakness Policy and can break Focus Sashes or get KO’s on low HP Pokémon.
156+ SpA Pixie Plate Pixilate Sylveon Hyper Voice vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Conkeldurr: 216-254 (101.8 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
156+ SpA Pixie Plate Pixilate Sylveon Hyper Voice vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Duraludon: 129-153 (88.3 – 104.7%) — 25% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Life Orb Venusaur Sludge Bomb vs. 100 HP / 4 SpD Sylveon: 148-174 (80.8 – 95%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Life Orb Duraludon Flash Cannon vs. 100 HP / 4 SpD Sylveon: 151-179 (82.5 – 97.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- Ninetales never Dynamaxes.
- If there’s a weather setter (other than Ninetales or Torkoal), don’t lead Ninetales.
- Don’t lead Sylveon: proccing your Weakness Policy on turn 1 isn’t worth that much.
- Sleep Powder misses. A lot. Don’t make it your wincon.
- You will be leading Venusaur + Tyranitar 50% of the time.
I don’t need to say that Ninetales is a must on this matchup. If they don’t have a weather setter of their own, just lead Venusaur + Ninetales and you’re good to go. Heat Wave bypasses Follow Me (if they lead Togekiss or Indeedee) and Ally Switch, so Max Flare (Weather Ball based) into Durant and Heat Wave should seal the deal (Max Flare to cover the Fake Out or a double into Ninetales). Venusaur + Tyranitar is also an option, with the possibility of a Ninetales switch-in. Corviknight and Gastrodon can help a lot with these matchups.
Hard Trick Room teams
Here Tyranitar does most of the work. Venusaur + Tyranitar is a good lead, as you have the Sleep Powder pressure. Corviknight helps a lot, especially against Hatterene + Indeedee or Rhyperior. There’s not much to say, just hit hard, stall Trick Room and your opponent’s Dynamax, and maybe make some Pokémon take a nap.
Let the weather wars begin. Never lead Ninetales against this archetype, but always have it in the back. It OHKO’s Excadrill, and that will be important. Corviknight + Tyranitar is a good lead, but so is Venusaur + Tyranitar, or even Corviknight + Gastrodon. Tyranitar and Gastrodon love to Dynamax in these matchups, but Corviknight is an option too.
Sand teams with
Braviary is annoying. You would think Tyranitar deals with it but that eagle learns both Superpower and Close Combat. In fact, Braviary OHKO’s both Tyranitar and Venusaur. It normally has a Lum Berry, so Sleep Powder isn’t an option. Lead Corviknight + Tyranitar and be careful with that bird.
BIG VENU. This is a really good matchup. Venusaur will probably destroy their team. Lead Venusaur + Tyranitar and have Gastrodon and Ninetales in the back (it sounds weird, but you’ll need the sun).
Sun and mirror teams
You have Tyranitar and they don’t. Venusaur is good too due to Weather Ball and Earth Power. Gastrodon is great as long as you deal with the Grass types before it enters the field.
The matchup where Tyranitar will shine. Tyranitar + Venusaur or Corviknight are good leads, and be sure you always bring Sylveon in the back.
If they can put you to sleep, why can’t you do it too? Definitely bring Corviknight in the back, for Hypnosis switch-ins (Lum Berry), stall Trick Room as much as you possibly can, and let Tyranitar destroy their team.
Tyranitar + Gastrodon is a very strong lead. Dragapult’s Surf will boost Gastrodon and Coalossal can’t touch Tyranitar. You can Dynamax Gastrodon (so Max Overgrowth won’t KO it) or Max Darkness Dragapult with Tyranitar to drop Coalossal’s Special Defense, allowing your boosted Gastrodon to OHKO it with Earth Power. Venusaur + Ninetales is a good lead if they are not running Choice Scarf Dragapult. Surf will probably KO Coalossal after Venusaur’s Max Quake.
Try to stall their Dynamax as much as possible, and deal as much damage as possible without getting KO’d, so Sylveon can clean up in the end. Venusaur doesn’t want to face a Dynamaxed Hawlucha, so lead with Corviknight + Gastrodon (or maybe Tyranitar, but you have to be careful) and make sure you have Sylveon in the back.
This was the first matchup I thought about when doing the team. Aaron Traylor’s Dallas Regionals winning team was still very popular when I started building it, so I wanted to be sure I had an answer for it. Venusaur + Tyranitar was the lead I found to be more consistent. If they lead Charizard + Whimsicott, I can go ahead and Dynamax Tyranitar, no Charizard would want to be in front of that. If they bring Duraludon + Whimsicott, there are two options:
- They use Tailwind to outspeed my Venusaur after Ninetales switches in.
- They use Fake Tears on my Venusaur.
If they use Tailwind, their Duraludon isn’t getting any KO, and we KO it with Max Quake after the Life Orb recoil. If they don’t, there’s a 68.8% chance we OHKO Duraludon, and even if it survives, Venusaur takes a Max Wyrmwind (Draco Meteor based) after Fake Tears and the Max Quake boost, and Duraludon faints to the Life Orb recoil.
The plan against Goodra teams is just to play around it. Target the other Pokémon and deal with a lonely Goodra in the end. Sylveon, Tyranitar, Corviknight or Gastrodon will win that 1v1.
This is the hardest matchup for the team. There are no good leads. You have a few decent options, but no safe one.
You can go aggressive with a Venusaur lead or you can go more defensive with Corviknight or Gastrodon. Venusaur + Tyranitar wins against a Dusclops + Lapras lead, if they let you KO Lapras with Leaf Strom + Max Rockfall, as Tyranitar will probably outspeed Lapras, but loses if they bring Incineroar + Lapras or Dusclops. Lapras + Alcremie loses to Venusaur + Ninetales (Max Guard + Fake Tears allow you to OHKO Lapras on turn 2).
If you decide to play passive, removing Aurora Veil with Corviknight, you lose to Max Lightning Lapras or Pain Split Dusclops (this one will simply outstall you). It’s a tough matchup that will depend on leads and their sets. Always bring Sylveon in the back to deal with the Conkeldurr and Incineroar that often stay for the endgame (be careful with Throat Chop though).
My run at the VR Spring Challenge
(I didn’t take notes so I may not remember some of my opponents’ Pokémon…)
R1 vs Justin Ramirez (Lukamir) (Swiss: 7-2; Winner) — WLL
This was a great set to start the tournament. Justin adapted really well after losing 3-0 on game 1. I was able to preserve my Venusaur on game 1, and cleaned the Follow Me users with Dynamaxed Tyranitar, which allowed my Venusaur to OHKO his Durant afterwards. On game 2, he led Togekiss + Arcanine against my Corviknight + Tyranitar, and I ended up wasting my Dynamax on a burned -1 Atk Tyranitar, allowing its Togekiss to sweep my team. He outled me game 3 as well and gave me no choice but to lose.
R2 vs Damiano Grosso (BlackWizard) (Swiss: 4-4 drop) — WW
? ? ?
When I saw his team I thought, “he’s gonna try to Goth Durant me”. When he locked in 15 seconds, I was almost certain. So, I led Venusaur + Ninetales and got rid of his Dynamax turn 1. Leading Ninetales was a risk but it was worth it (he actually forfeited turn 3). Game 2 I thought he would be mad to bring the same lead, so I lead Corviknight + Tyranitar with Gastrodon and Sylveon in the back (totally disregarding Durant) and I won a clean game, as he didn’t bring Gothitelle nor Durant.
R3 vs Austin Christie (Aushi Cristo) (Swiss: 1-2 drop) — WLW
Three rounds, three Durant + Tyranitar teams. I thought I was probably going to lose this round. I decided to lead Venusaur + Tyranitar, as I wanted a lead that could deal with whatever he decided to bring. He lead Togekiss + Durant, so I decided to go for the same gameplan I did on game 1 against Justin (switch out Venusaur + Max Rockfall Togekiss), but he read me and switched his Togekiss for his own Tyranitar. I thought that would be game, but he Max Quaked my Tyranitar and I OHKO’d his after the Weakness Policy boost. I ended up losing game 2 in a Ninetales vs Togekiss endgame, due to a Heat Wave miss and a crit, but got my revenge on game 3 with a big 4-0.
When I finished this set, I remember saying to my friends that I’d drop if I had to face another Durant + Tyranitar.
R4 vs Jordan Henkelman (Scary) (Swiss: 6-3) — LWW
I relied on Tyranitar and Gastrodon in this matchup. Game 1 his “Critkiss” critted my Gastrodon to death, but I got my revenge with a Heat Wave miss on my Gigantamaxed Corviknight on game 2 (it wouldn’t KO, but it would have dealt good damage) and a Hyper Voice crit (my only crit on the whole set) on a full HP Tyranitar with my -1 Sylveon SpA — this one mattered. It was Sylveon + Gastrodon vs Arcanine + Tyranitar, so it was possible to win without the crit, but it made it a lot easier.
R5 vs Dustin Lam (Dlamdorus) (Swiss: 4-4 drop) — WLW
I really don’t remember this set. It was right in the middle of Swiss, and a similar matchup as the round before.
R6 vs Jon Hu (JHufself) (Swiss: 7-2; Top Cut: Top 32) — WLW
My first Lapras matchup. I was so afraid of the sea monster I got destroyed by a Weakness Policy Dragapult. Game 1 I was really caught off-guard, and lost game 2 in the endgame when I chose to KO Cherrim and then got my Venusaur Fire Punched by Conkeldurr.
I was now three wins away from top cut, but I couldn’t lose any set.
R7 vs Preston Duff (Zordor) (Swiss: 4-3 drop) — WW
We led the same in both games (Tyranitar + Venusaur vs Goodra + Bisharp). I chose not to bring Gastrodon despite the Rotom as I thought I’d need both Corviknight and Sylveon, and I brought the same four to both games.
R8 vs Serkan Tas (Viper) (Swiss: 5-3 drop) — WLW
I didn’t want to use Sleep Powder as a win condition, but I thought it was my best way to stop Dragapult and it was worth the risk, since I could also Will-O-Wisp it. I lost game 2 to Seed Bomb Snorlax, so I decided not to bring Gastrodon to game 3, and preserve my Venusaur to take care of Rotom.
Here is some low-quality video of the set. Mods asked us to record the games if possible, so I tried to livestream it with my mobile. Many thanks to Cho for commentating the sets (I had my headphones connected to the Switch, and barely talked).
R9 vs Shinichi Matsuda (Kakunaka) (Swiss: 6-3) — WW
A friend of mine had his third loss to a “Boomlax” a few rounds earlier, so when I saw a Dusclops + Snorlax lead I was afraid it would happen to me as well. I considered Max Guard + Protect, but I would lose if it was a regular Belly Drum Snorlax, so I decided to turn the 50/50 into a 75/25 with Sleep Powder.
Top 32 vs David Monroy (DavidRMonroy) (Swiss: 7-2; Top 32) — WW
This match was probably the most important one for me in the whole run. David Monroy had come to a Midseason Showdown in Portugal when I was away with work, and he won undefeated. I felt I needed to win the set to “restore national pride”. I got a crit into Rhyperior which hardly mattered, as I had doubled into it, and he missed a Sleep Powder into my Lum Berry Corviknight.
Top 16 vs Davide Carrer (NiRainbow) (Swiss: 8-1; Top 4) — LL
At last, I had to face my worst matchup. I feel I did the best I could in this matchup, but it unfortunately wasn’t enough. I could have used Quick Attack into Conkeldurr in the last turn of game 1 instead of Hyper Voice, but I knew it wouldn’t KO without a crit and I was afraid he’d read me and Drain Punched Tyranitar.
First of all, I want to thank Francisco Coroado for building this team with me and for all the hours we spent testing it.
Secondly, I want to thank Francisco Coroado, Diogo Fonseca, João Veloso and Eduardo Cunha, who were also playing, and stayed until 4 a.m. despite knowing they couldn’t cut anymore, watching my games and hoping I’d cut.
Finally, I want to thank Portugal Battle League and all its members, as I wouldn’t have gotten here without them. I also want to thank all my opponents and Victory Road, which gave me amazing sets and an amazing experience.
(In the rental team below, Ninetales has no Dynamax Candies, but you won’t need them.)
Hope you like it,