Hi everyone! My name is Edoardo Giunipero Ferraris, also known as duckpond. I started playing VGC seriously towards the end of 2017, getting a few good results and winning at local events since then. In 2019 I got my Worlds invite and I also became a bit more famous in the international community thanks to my results at various online tournaments.
With this team, I achieved the qualification for the final stage of the Pokémon Players Cup by achieving Top 4 at the Europe Online Qualifier with a 7-1 (15-5) record.
As the Isle of Armor DLC came out, I was intrigued by the Alolan Marowak + Amoonguss + Porygon2 core as it had a good mix of damage output, bulk, offensive and defensive synergy and field control.
I messed around with different variations of the team changing only the last slots. I was liking the team, but I never actually felt that it was the right team to bring to the Players Cup and, in the next days, a few laddering sessions on Pokémon Showdown helped me make my mind on putting the team aside and try coming up with something else.
One thing I particularly enjoyed was the Dragapult set: Safety Goggles with Dragon Darts, Phantom Force, Fly and Dive, that would often get fun reactions from sun players:
Having decided that I needed a new team, I started playing around with something that looked a bit more like a goodstuff team, then another team built around Cinderace, and then, always bringing something forth from a team to the next, I got to the first version of what would then become my Players Cup team with Lapras, Alolan Marowak, Incineroar, Rillaboom, Porygon2 and Tyranitar.
I had never been a huge Lapras fan in the past series, but it just felt the right Pokémon to have on this team; there were only a few days left until teamlist submissions so I decided not to make any more big changes to the team and use the remaining time to just tweak it and perfect it. The only relevant change happened on the day right before the deadline when I replaced Marowak, which wasn’t putting in enough work, with Dragapult.
Rillaboom-Gmax (M) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Grassy Surge
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 12 Def / 60 SpD / 68 Spe
– Grassy Glide
– Knock Off
– Fake Out
I think that, at the time of team submissions, Rillaboom was the strongest Pokémon in the metagame, or really close to the best: Grassy Glide just does a lot of damage and the Grassy Terrain is incredibly useful, the recovery provided to all the Pokémon on the team is too good to give up on and it would also override opposing terrains, mainly Indeedee’s Psychic Terrain, reducing Expanding Force offensive output by a lot. Rillaboom’s utility came also in its moves as Fake Out and U-turn, together with Incineroar helped controlling the field as much as I wanted to. Since I valued the utility moves more than Wood Hammer, the choice of running the Gigantamax form of Rillaboom was mandatory for the offensive power, plus there weren’t many occasions where I didn’t have Grassy Terrain up and wanted to reset it by Gigantamaxing. The Speed EVs allow Rillaboom to outspeed Adamant max Speed Tyranitar.
116+ Atk Rillaboom G-Max Drum Solo (160 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Lapras (Dynamaxed) in Grassy Terrain: 414 (100.4%) – 488 (118.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
116+ Atk Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Terrakion (Dynamaxed) in Grassy Terrain: 374 (111.9%) – 444 (132.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
252 SpA Togekiss Max Airstream (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 60 SpD Assault Vest Rillaboom: 170 (82.1%) – 204 (98.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
-1 252 Atk Life Orb Cinderace Pyro Ball vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Rillaboom: 174 (84%) – 211 (101.9%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Rillaboom: 168 (81.1%) – 198 (95.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
+1 28 SpA Porygon2 Ice Beam vs. 252 HP / 60 SpD Assault Vest Rillaboom: 90 (43.4%) – 106 (51.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery
+4 252 Atk Terrakion Max Rockfall (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 12 Def Rillaboom (Gigantamaxed): 355 (85.7%) – 418 (100.9%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
Tyranitar (F) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 204 HP / 44 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Lash Out
Tyranitar is another Pokémon that I consider at the top of the metagame at the moment for its versatility: it’s bulky, it does damage, can change the weather and, in case of emergency, can flinch opponents with Rock Slide. I found Weakness Policy really useful in a tournament with open team lists as opponents could not want to hit Tyranitar with super effective moves in order not to proc it, turning it into a defensive item as well. The move choice is pretty standard; I’ve played a bunch with High Horsepower in the third slot over Superpower but then I leaned towards Superpower as it was doing more damage to Single Strike Style Urshifu; I also had the option to boost my Pokémon’s Attack with Max Knuckle which wasn’t a bad thing at all.
I decided to run a really fast Tyranitar in order to outspeed every non-Timid Lapras and to, at worst, speed tie with opposing Adamant Tyranitar; knowing that I could bring the game to a Tyranitar vs Tyranitar endgame with high confidence of winning it gave me safer options in the midgame. Against Lapras I had the option of going for U-turn with Rillaboom into my own Tyranitar to proc the Weakness Policy myself and Max Rockfall Lapras for the KO before it could set up Aurora Veil.
+2 44+ Atk Tyranitar Max Rockfall (130 BP) vs. 12 HP / 196 Def Lapras (Dynamaxed): 414 (100%) – 488 (117.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
Lapras-Gmax (F) @ Light Clay
Ability: Shell Armor
EVs: 212 HP / 12 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 84 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Hydro Pump
– Life Dew
Lapras was definitely one of the key Pokémon of the team; I remember Kunal Kanodia (Shade) telling me a few months ago “Dusclops behind screens is the most broken Pokémon in the game”, so I tried to apply the same idea to Porygon2 and also add Intimidate and Grassy Terrain to the equation, and here comes Lapras, in its Gigantamax form of course. Light Clay was by far the superior item; the three additional turns of Aurora Veil can make all the difference in a game, especially since most lasted around 10 turns. The ability of choice was Shell Armor because it would make the team overall less susceptible to Urshifu, Togekiss and just random critical hits; Water Absorb was not worth at all. The thing that stands out the most about this Lapras is Life Dew: I didn’t feel that an offensive Electric move was needed and I rarely got into a position were Perish Song would let me win an endgame, since Lapras was usually one of the first element of the team to go down, so I decided to test Life Dew, which helped keeping Lapras and the other Pokémon healthy during the midgame, and it came in handy a lot of times I decided to keep it; I never regretted this decision during the whole tournament. The EV spread is nothing crazy, just generic bulk and offence, while outspeeding Timid max Speed Amoonguss as well as the majority of Incineroar, to fire off a Max Geyser before they could Parting Shot out.
Incineroar (F) @ Sitrus Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 220 Def / 36 SpD
– Flare Blitz
– Burning Jealousy
– Parting Shot
– Fake Out
Incineroar went through a big nerf from Gen 7 to Gen 8 due to the presence of Dynamax in the metagame, but it’s still an incredibly good pivot, I’d say it’s the best pivot we have available right now by far: Fake Out, Parting Shot and Intimidate all on a single Pokémon are just too strong. Flare Blitz was chosen as the main damage dealing move because of its consistency and fairly high offensive output, especially useful against Rillaboom. Burning Jealousy on the other hand is a bit more of an odd choice; I’ve had Snarl in that move slot for a long time until one day, speaking with Kunal, I wanted to try Burning Jealousy out and it turned out really really good: the threat alone of burning opposing Pokémon that tried to boost their stats was enough to often force my opponents into defensive plays which I was fine with; funny moment was going for Burning Jealousy in front of a switching in Porygon2 which got burned after getting the Download boost, the continuous chip damage from the burn allowed me to plan a safer endgame since Porygon2’s staying power was reduced. Spread-wise I wanted to be as bulky as possible on the physical side, while optimizing a few calcs on the special spectrum.
252 SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Quake (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 36 SpD Incineroar: 169 (83.6%) – 200 (99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
252+ SpA Life Orb Duraludon Max Wyrmwind (140 BP) vs. 252 HP / 36 SpD Incineroar: 169 (83.6%) – 200 (99%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Porygon2 @ Eviolite
EVs: 244 HP / 156 Def / 36 SpA / 68 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk / 11 Spe
– Ice Beam
– Trick Room
There’s nothing much to say about here, Porygon2 gives speed control option with Trick Room, has great coverage thanks to Thunderbolt and Ice Beam, does decent damage and can stay a long time on the field thanks to Recover. I eventually settled for a Special Attack boosting nature for the overall damage, especially since I actually ended up Dynamaxing Porygon2 quite often, and in those situations the additional damage was really clutch. I had considered running Tri Attack and Shadow Ball as offensive moves but never actually did because I much preferred having the super effective damage when possible, especially against Corviknight, which could have been a big issue otherwise; in desperate cases I could even Dynamax Porygon2 just to go for Max Lightning and set up Electric Terrain to stop my Pokémon from going to sleep.
Looking at the team as a whole at this point, it stands out how there are four Fighting weaknesses; I was well aware of it but just decided to “ignore” it for a few reasons: all the most used Fighting type are physical, meaning that they could be somewhat handled between Intimidate cycling and G-Max Resonance; Fighting types overall were not that common in the meta, Cinderace is really susceptible to Intimidate, Rapid Strike Style Urshifu gets pinned down by Rillaboom and Single Strike Style Urshifu let’s just say I’m not going to face any. I ended up facing one Urshifu per type and beating both, so I guess the matchup wasn’t that tragic.
252 Atk Life Orb Libero Cinderace High Jump Kick vs. 244 HP / 156 Def Eviolite Porygon2: 166 (86.9%) – 198 (103.6%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Life Orb Primarina Max Geyser (140 BP) vs. 244 HP / 68 SpD Eviolite Porygon2 in Rain: 164 (85.8%) – 192 (100.5%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
Dragapult @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Clear Body
EVs: 52 HP / 164 Atk / 28 Def / 12 SpD / 252 Spe
– Dragon Darts
– Phantom Force
– Ally Switch
This slot was filled by Alolan Marowak for a really long time, which gave me a huge offensive option in Trick Room, but I ended up discarding it for Dragapult as it was more often than not dead weight. The main goal of this Dragapult set was to improve matchups against Porygon-Z, sun and in particular Venusaur. The choice of running Ally Switch had the main purpose of forcing mind games on the opponent, especially since we had open team lists for the tournament. Against Porygon-Z teams I felt I was in a good spot if my opponent wasn’t going for Helping Hand Max Darkness/Max Phantasm onto my Dragapult on turn 1, and I was hoping that the possibility of that play being invalidated by many options as Max Guard, Ally Switch and Phantom Force, would deter my opponents from picking it on turn 1. I had already played Safety Goggles Dragapult a bunch so I opted for a similar set, with max Speed to at worst speed tie other Dragapult, and some bulk here and there to live some attacks better.
204+ Atk Tyranitar Max Darkness (130 BP) vs. 52 HP / 28 Def Dragapult (Dynamaxed): 294 (86.4%) – 348 (102.3%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
252+ SpA Life Orb Porygon-Z Max Darkness (130 BP) vs. 52 HP / 12 SpD Dragapult (Dynamaxed): 268 (78.8%) – 317 (93.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
4 SpA Togekiss Dazzling Gleam vs. 52 HP / 12 SpD Dragapult on a critical hit: 152 (89.4%) – 180 (105.8%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO
156+ SpA Togekiss Max Starfall (130 BP) vs. 52 HP / 12 SpD Dragapult (Dynamaxed): 266 (78.2%) – 314 (92.3%) — guaranteed 2HKO
This is the team’s main mode, which I consider extremely effective against not really offensive teams; set Aurora Veil up when most appropriate and then keep going for small positive damage trades, where the opponent really often just doesn’t have enough offensive pressure.
This is a strong option against Porygon-Z teams, as long as they don’t go for Helping Hand Max Darkness on Dragapult on turn 1. Offensive trades put you in a position to easily clean up with a late-game Trick Room.
This works really well against defensive Lapras teams giving you different options on turn 1: from going for side-U-Turn + Max Rockfall for the immediate KO on Lapras, to just play defensive thanks to Rillaboom’s Fake Out.
|Four Fighting weaknesses against a Fighting type whose attacks cannot be stopped with Protect is not that great; regardless of that, Urshifu usually wants to go for Close Combat which hits the team for greater damage instead of Wicked Blow or Surging Strikes, being a bit more susceptible to Intimidate and Aurora Veil and being easier to revenge KO thanks to the Defense drops.
|The moment Beat Up goes off on Cobalion, the game is over. In case of a Dragapult + Cobalion lead, the best course of action is to lead Dragapult + RIllaboom and go for Grassy Glide + Max Wyrmwind on Dragapult, hoping to win the speed tie; in case of a Whimsicott lead, on the other hand, everything is a bit easier to handle thanks to Fake Out, but having Dragapult in front is still very much advised.
|As I said earlier, Dragapult needs not to go down too early, otherwise Porygon-Z can just click Max Strike at will and pick up KOs every turn.
WR1 vs David Barker (Muphry) (result: Top 128) — WW
Relatively easy match; I lead both games Tyranitar + Incineroar to spread some damage around and have field control against his Amoonguss + Porygon2. I managed to narrow down damage taken on my side thanks to Intimidate cycling and well-timed Dynamax, sleep turns from Amoonguss’ Spore don’t really go my way but I can still bring the game home with a couple of low-risk reads.
WR2 vs Marzio Bona (Il Conte) (result: Top 192) — WLW
G1 revolves around whose Tyranitar can go for Superpower on the opposing one and I end up winning the exchange thanks to Fake Out cycling. The other two games are a clash between sun and Aurora Veil; I lose G2 because I naively let my Porygon2 get KO’d, while in G3 I manoeuvre my Tyranitar in to get a double KO which paves me the way.
WR3 vs Mattie Morgan (Mattie) (result: Top 16) — WW
These were long matches where I always felt I had the whole board pretty much under control; the threat of Burning Jealousy slowed down his Corviknight, even if it held a Lum Berry, long enough not to be a threat, and the Aurora Veil was reducing damage coming from the opposing side by a lot. Both games I end up with Rillaboom + Porygon2 + Lapras against Mattie’s only Porygon2.
After Week 1 my capture card arrived, so I was able to record my games.
WR4 vs Sam Pickering (Sam) (result: Top 48) — WW
I see with a week in advance that Sam was playing Mattie’s exact team so I wanted to go for a different plan expecting them to try to counteract my Lapras mode. I lead Rillaboom + Tyranitar and proc my own Weakness Policy as soon as possible and then try to spread as much damage as I can around, which he just can’t handle. For G2 I go back to the Lapras mode and end up winning on timer with all four of my Pokémons at good HP against his only three.
WR5 vs Gilberto Goracci (Gilberto) (result: Top 24) — LWW
I have to admit I didn’t play these games really well; G1 and G3 are pretty similar where I lead Incineroar in front of Milotic but dodge both times the blind Hypnosis and I am then forced to Dynamax Porygon2 to set up Electric Terrain. In the first game I just get overwhelmed by Cinderace in the endgame, while in the third I manage to calculate turns a bit better and clean up with Porygon2 and Incineroar. G2 was a bit easier as I catch his Amoonguss lead with my Dragapult + Rillaboom and can kind of go from there easily.
WR6 vs Lukas Auer (SaltySylveon) (result: Top 12) — LWW
I unfortunately can’t dodge every Urshifu in the tournament so I have to face one but, luckily, I have a week to prepare the matchup. I decided to go for an aggressive gameplan where I look for big damage trades with Rillaboom and Tyranitar and all goes more or less the way I want to until the opposing Rillaboom dodges a Rock Slide which might have KO’d it. G2 I am a but surprised when I see my opponent going all in with Talonflame and Marowak both Intimidated, Dynamaxing the former in order to take the KO on my Rillaboom which however switches out for Tyranitar; this turn gives me too much momentum and I can easily close the game by Dynamaxing my Rillaboom later in the game. G3 is more similar to G1 and comes down to my Tyranitar having to connect Rock Slide on a Talonflame going for a double Protect to stall out my last Perish Song turn, the chances are on my side and I get rewarded for it.
WR7 vs David Koutesh (Hamstermania) (result: Top 4 / Qualified) — LWL
This whole set was quite weird in my opinion, there were a lot of 50/50s to be called due to how our teams were built and due to me having Ally Switch on Dragapult. I lead every game Dragapult + Tyranitar as he goes for Venusaur + Togekiss. In the first game I try to take down immediately his Venusaur, which switches out for Torkoal, while I lose my Dragapult to a Max Starfall critical hit which kind of seals the game. G2 I Dynamax Tyranitar and manage to pick up 3 KOs in the first 3 turns as my Dragapult helps preserve it thanks to Ally Switch. G3 I probably throw the game away by not even trying to get a Dragon Darts roll on the opposing Incineroar which would have put me in a good spot and I get punished for my defensive plays.
LR12 vs Matt Maynard (bwenty) (result: Top 6) — WW
I was convinced I had the matchup under control but Matt played both games really well. The key moment in G1 was him Gigantamaxing Urshifu when I had Rillaboom on the field, I was really expecting it to switch out so I did not target it and lost a lot of momentum; all seemed lost but I miraculously got back in the game thanks to two critical hits on Tyranitar and Rillaboom in the same turn (it might have been just a damage roll on Rillaboom) and then manage to stall out a few more turns and win the game on timer; I apologise with my opponent, who takes it well, and we go to G2. The first turns play out in a similar way until we get to the same Rillaboom vs Urshifu board state but this time I decided to play it safe and attack it: he Gigantamaxes it again but takes a lot of damage, which hinders a lot its longevity and thus it’s not able to exercise as much pressure on my team as it did in G1; I then manage to manoeuvre myself into a 4v1 position where he only has his full HP Tyranitar left and at that point I decided not to risk anything and take 45 seconds every turn to bring the game to timer once again, having this way the win 100% guaranteed.
With that match I got what is probably my biggest result so far as a VGC player, with a team I put together almost all by myself, making it all feel even better. As of now I have no idea of what I’ll be playing in the finals, but I know for sure I’ll do my nest.
Here’s the picture of the fat cat sent me by Luca Ceribelli (Ceree) which brought me good luck throughout the whole tournament. Thank you fat cat.