Bulk Prevailed! – A Pokémon Players Cup 9th Place Team Report

Hi! I’m Antonio Sánchez (Rahxen), I’ve been playing competitive Pokémon since 2010, although it wasn’t until 2017 when I started getting into VGC more seriously.

I haven’t attended any regional-level or higher tournaments, so my accomplishments besides this result are winning the VR Ultra Series Open and winning several local-level tournaments (PCs and MSSs).

Managing to qualify for the final stage of the Players Cup meant a lot to me, since I consider it my first result at a high-level event.

Shoutouts to Miguel Pedraza (Ahicodem), since we’ve been working together on this team for a long time, with the premise that “bulk will prevail ._.” meaning that we believed that, no matter the state of the metagame, piloting a bulky team was a correct choice. Hence, this report shows that “bulk prevailed”.

Teambuilding process

grimmsnarlarcaninecorviknightgastrodon

This was the main core, Arcanine + Gastrodon works very well defensively. Grimmsnarl added more bulk with screens and Corviknight seemed like the best defensive Steel type in the format.

grimmsnarlarcaninecorviknightgastrodonrotom-mowdragapult

Ahicodem and I built this team with which he got Top 4 at VGCStats’ Galar Weekly #3 back in December, even before Series 2 was announced. Mow Rotom was the only decent Grass type at the time and Dragapult looked like a good Pokémon to complete the fantasy core.

grimmsnarlarcaninecorviknightgastrodondracozoltTyranitar

Fastforward 4 or 5 months later, Charizard, Venusaur, Torkoal and Lapras teams get popular, therefore it was a must to find some techs for those match-ups. Dracozolt was very good therefore.

grimmsnarlarcaninecorviknightgastrodondracozoltRillaboom

We considered Rillaboom even before it got access to Grassy Surge. Wash Rotom was a bit troublesome, so having a way to delete it from existence with STAB Wood Hammer was a nice addition.

When it was confirmed that Rillaboom’s Hidden Ability was going to be released, it became the 6th slot immediately. Getting access to Grassy Glide was a bonus too.
These are the six I ended up using in the European qualifier.

grimmsnarlarcaninecorviknightgastrodondracozoltAmoonguss

Scope Lens Togekiss, Wash Rotom + redirection and Beat Up + Justified were troublesome, so we added Amoonguss for those match-ups.

Adding a small change going into the final stage meant that my opponents couldn’t just use their flowcharts versus my team, since redirection + Spore changed the flow of some battles considerably.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Normal Sprite

Grimmsnarl (M) @ Light Clay
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Atk / 148 Def / 100 SpD / 4 Spe
Careful Nature
– Spirit Break
– Taunt
– Reflect
– Light Screen

Prankster screens with Light Clay fits this bulky team perfectly. Spirit Break was very good to have even more damage control and to have Fairy-type coverage on the team. Taunt was very good with open team lists, since your opponent had to respect it from turn 1.

Normal Sprite

Arcanine @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 68 HP / 236 SpD / 204 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Snarl
– Will-O-Wisp
– Protect

In spite of Incineroar being legal since march, Arcanine has still a very important niche. The Speed stat lets it spam fast Snarl and Will-O-Wisp to do damage reduction before your opponent moves, which is huge. Heat Wave lets Arcanine hit both opponents without caring about redirection, letting it chip away at them.

Normal Sprite

Corviknight @ Lum Berry
Ability: Mirror Armor
Level: 50
EVs: 228 HP / 20 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Brave Bird
– Iron Head
– Bulk Up
– Roost

Corviknight is a Pokémon that you’re forced to respect in team preview; it reminds me of Celesteela back in VGC17. It has a very good typing and decent bulk, which means that it’s not easy to take down without a super effective move. Bulk Up wasn’t super common a few months ago, since Taunt was the preferred 4th slot. It basically allowed Corviknight to exert offensive pressure and get into unbreakeable board states.

Normal Sprite

Gastrodon @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Storm Drain
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 252 HP / 148 Def / 60 SpA / 44 SpD
Quiet Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Scald
– Earth Power
– Recover
– Protect

Gastrodon usage was supposed to go down after Rillaboom’s spike in usage. Without Gastrodon, it would be way more difficult to stop some opposing Water-type Pokémon from snowballing, like Rapid Strike Style Urshifu and Primarina. Storm Drain lets Arcanine exert damage reduction in front of Water-type Pokémon, which is huge.

Normal Sprite

Dracozolt @ Life Orb
Ability: Hustle
Level: 50
EVs: 100 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 100 SpD / 148 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Bolt Beak
– Dragon Claw
– Stomping Tantrum
– Protect

Even though Dracozolt isn’t picked in every match-up, your opponent has to respect it in team previewLate-game Dracozolt is very good since it can catch your opponent off guard and sweep the game from there.

Normal Sprite

Amoonguss (M) @ Coba Berry
Ability: Regenerator
Level: 50
EVs: 196 HP / 132 Def / 180 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sludge Bomb
– Spore
– Rage Powder
– Protect

This Amoonguss is somewhat speedy while still having nice defensive calcs. Once it’s at +2 Speed, it reaches 146 Speed stat, which is nice to start spamming fast Spores next to Corviknight.

Tournament run - Europe Online Qualifier

I had Rillaboom over Amoonguss here.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
WR1WWFRA
Eliott Legroux

(Ethox)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
WR2WWITA
Roberto Porretti
(Raider)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
WR3LWLFRA
Antoine de La Forest
(otékal)
TogekissDragapultUrshifuIncineroarAmoongussMagnezone
LR4WWGBR
Andrei Muntean
(Andrei)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
LR5WWFRA
Antoine Desaegher

(ApPy)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
LR6WLWESP
Yago Rodríguez
(SrtaDoñaMiau)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
LR7WWITA
Francesco Deiana
(Francis)
unown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-questionunown-question
LR8WWITA
Luca Marcato
(Polpolpo)
TalonflameDuraludonGyaradosIncineroarAmoongussUrshifu
LR9WLWITA
Leonardo Bonanomi
(Leo)
togekisslaprasurshifutalonflamerillaboommagnezone
LR10WLWAUT
Lukas Auer
(SaltySylveon)
porygon2laprasmarowak-alolatalonflamerillaboomurshifu
LR11WWESP
Guillermo Castilla
(KastyTP)
porygon2corviknightprimarinaArcanineAmoongussTyranitar
LR12WLWFRA
Antoine de La Forest
(otékal)
TogekissDragapultUrshifuIncineroarAmoongussMagnezone

I don’t recall every single match so I’ll detail the match-ups I remember.

WR3 vs  FRA  Antoine de La Forest (otékal) (result: Top 6) — LWL

TogekissDragapultUrshifuIncineroarAmoongussMagnezone

Tough match-up since Dragapult + double redirection is handled with Corviknight, but Magnezone shuts it down entirely. I lost 1-2 in really close games. Losing this early meant that I had to win 9 rounds in a row to qualify.

LR8 vs  ITA  Luca Marcato (Polpolpo) (result: Top 24) — WW

TalonflameDuraludonGyaradosIncineroarAmoongussUrshifu

This was the last round of Week 2. His team had some trouble dealing with Corviknight, so I just went for Grimmsnarl + Arcanine planning for a Corviknight endgame. I managed to mitigate his Duraludon with damage reduction, which led to Corviknight + Gastrodon winning in the endgame pretty comfortably.

After going 4-0 during Week 2, my confidence was boosted considerably. Now I had a week to prepare for Week 3 and the upcoming match-ups.

LR9 vs  ITA  Leonardo Bonanomi (Leo) (result: Top 16) — WLW

TogekissLaprasUrshifuTalonflameRillaboomMagnezone

I realized a way to auto-win the match-up if he double-Protected with Talonflame + Lapras turn 1. Game 1 I led Dracozolt + Rillaboom and went for Max Lightning into Talonflame and switch into Grimmsnarl. As expected, he double-Protected, and I broke Gale Wings, which meant that I could just Taunt the Talonflame and attack the Lapras for free. I won 4-0. Game 2 he Dynamaxed Talonflame and I just lost. Game 3 was closer but in the end early-game Dracozolt was enough to let Rillaboom and Arcanine win in the endgame. This match was very close.

LR10 vs  AUT  Lukas Auer (SaltySylveon) (result: Top 12) — WLW

Porygon2LaprasMarowak-AlolaTalonflameRillaboomUrshifu

He had Rock Head Alolan Marowak, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about making reads with Dracozolt. I lead Dracozolt + Rillaboom all 3 games. Game 3 I realized that he wasn’t bringing Rillaboom so I made a read in team preview. I brought Gastrodon predicting him not to bring Rillaboom. He brought a Lapras + Talonflame lead with Alolan Marowak and Porygon2 in the back all 3 games, so in G3 I just won with Gastrodon.

LR11 vs  ESP  Guillermo Castilla (KastyTP) (result: Top 8) — WW

Porygon2CorviknightPrimarinaArcanineAmoongussTyranitar

I was so excited to play against Kasty. Fortunately this match was streamed, you can watch it here from 1:03:58. Self-WOW, let’s go!

LR12 vs  FRA  Antoine de La Forest (otékal) (result: Top 6) — WLW

TogekissDragapultUrshifuIncineroarAmoongussMagnezone

This was the win-and-in. Winning here meant qualifying for the final stage, and losing meant that getting this far was for nothing. I had to win this, but Otékal was my only loss so far. I decide to go for Grimmsnarl + Corviknight with Gastrodon and Arcanine in the back all 3 games.

We go to game 3 and he leads Magnezone + Dragapult. He can Dynamax Magnezone and just 2HKO Corviknight, meaning that I could just go Gastrodon in that slot. I decide to make an aggresive turn 1 read by Dynamaxing corviknight in front of Magnezone and going into Arcanine to have Snarl pressure and to take a Max Steelspike. I get turn 1 right and several Snarls and Will-O-Wisps later, Gastrodon + Corviknight win the endgame.

I did it! I qualified for the final stage of the Players Cup!

Tournament run - Final stage

I made the change of Amoonguss over Rillaboom; it gave me a better TED + Wash Rotom match-ups, another tool to handle crit-‘Kiss and helped vs. Beat Up strategies.

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
WR1LWWSLV
Geovanni Polanco

(g r e e n)
porygon2hatterenedrapiontorkoallilliganturshifu
WR2LWLITA
Alessio Y. Boschetto
(Emily)
togekissdragapultrotom-washincineroaramoongussexcadrill
LR2LWLITA
Edoardo Giunipero Ferraris
(Inkling)
Porygon2DragapultPrimarinaIncineroarRillaboomTerrakion

WR1 vs  SLV  Geovanni Polanco (g r e e n) (result: Top 16) — LWW

Porygon2HattereneDrapionTorkoalLilligantUrshifu

Grimmsnarl + Arcanine as a lead handles everything pretty well, which means that I can mitigate his Dynamax and then just clean up with a Dynamax Gastrodon, Dracozolt or Corviknight.

Watch it here from 1:02:58!

WR2 vs  ITA  Alessio Y. Boschetto (Emily) (result: Top 6) — LWL

TogekissDragapultRotom-WashIncineroarAmoongussExcadrill

Tough match-up but fortunately he didn’t have a Fire move on his Togekiss. G3 endgame was a bit messy on my end, since I expected his Excadrill to survive an Earth Power and get a Weakness Policy boost. I also thought he was going to Protect Excadrill and switch into Amoonguss at some point.

Watch it here from 3:36:09!

LR2 vs  ITA  Edoardo Giunipero Ferraris (Inkling) (result: Top 8) — LWL

Porygon2DragapultPrimarinaIncineroarRillaboomTerrakion

This match up would be very ugly without Amoonguss. His Beat Up option forced me to lead Corviknight + Amoonguss, and from there I could either try and guess the turns to gain advantage, or just play it safe. I managed to call correctly the two first turns in game 3 but unfortunately Corviknight went down to a critical hit from Porygon2, which meant that my only way to win the endgame versus Porygon2 was gone.

Watch it here from 5:40:00!

Closing words

Even though I didn’t manage to get a top 4 placement in the finals stage, I’m still quite glad with the result. As I’ve mentioned, I haven’t attended any huge events so far, so getting this result in a high-scale event means a lot to me.

Also, shoutouts to Team Pechito (Juan Carlos MateosPablo Gambero and José Antonio Rodríguez). Funnily enough, this team is completely legal going into Series 6 and most of its weaknesses or weaker match-ups were removed, especially Scope Lens Togekiss.

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