The Best Offense Is the Defense – A Pokémon Players Cup 9th Place Team Report

What’s up guys? My name is Caio Romanini, aka Phantom Pumpkin, or @PumpkinPhantom on Twitter, and I got Top 4 in the Latin America Online Qualifiers for the Players Cup, allowing me to participate in the final stages of this competition. This team report will show you the team I used during the qualifiers and the adjustments I made in it to play in the finals.

First, I would like to thank my good friend Victor Vieira (Victor Kids) for all the help with the team; I don’t know what I would have done without his help.

Qualifiers – Teambuilding process

ArcanineIncineroar

The idea of the team came right after the Japan National Online, where winner Yūma Kinugawa used a combination of Arcanine and Incineroar to win the whole tournament. Seeing how Rillaboom took over the format and therefore scared away the bulky Waters, we thought it would be a good call in what we supposed to be a very offensive format. It might seem at first that they do not have much synergy, since they share some weaknesses and resistances due to both being Fire types, but in reality they played different roles on the team (those I will explain better later), which justified me bringing them both in some matches.

ArcanineIncineroarFerrothorn

To complement the double Fire Intimidate core, I needed something to help me deal with bulky Waters like Milotic, Primarina and Wash Rotom among others, and to help against Tyranitar, with or without Excadrill. So I decided to go with one of my favorite Pokémon to use: Ferrothorn. I decided to use Ferrothorn over Rillaboom because I really like the Steel typing on it, helping me check things like Togekiss and Dragapult, Pokémon that give Rillaboom and the two Fires on my team some problems. Not to mention it completely shuts down all bulky Waters with the exception of Coil Milotic, while Rillaboom could not safely switch in some of them, like Primarina. The access to Body Press is also a big boost to this Pokémon, since it does not need to fear Intimidate that much.

ArcanineIncineroarFerrothornPrimarina

Although I feel like the importance of a Fire + Water + Grass core is sometimes overrated (Fairy + Dragon + Steel too, for that matter), I considered a Water type fitted very well on this team, because I was basically getting destroyed by Charizard and/or Torkoal, Coalossal and Incineroar or Arcanine. I did not want Lapras because I wanted something that worked with or without Dynamax and wanted something more offensive than Milotic. I decided to go with Primarina. Not only it fits the Water-type role I wanted, but it also provided me another check to Dragapult, Urshifu, Conkeldurr and Spore, thanks to Max Starfall.

ArcanineIncineroarFerrothornPrimarinaPorygon2

With a solid offensive and defensive core in place, I had to decide how to round out the team. The first thing I noticed was that my team was kind of slow (only Arcanine had more than 60 base Speed), so a Trick Room variant could work nicely. I considered either Dusclops or Porygon2, but in the end I decided for Porygon2 due to the reliable recovery and more offensive presence, although it did make my team weaker to Fighting types, but since Fighting types were not really good at the time and Dusclops dropped to Beat Up + Terrakion anyway, we thought it was not a huge problem. Being a Ghost immunity also was huge for Porygon2.

ArcanineIncineroarFerrothornPrimarinaPorygon2Dragapult

For the last Pokémon I wanted something fast so my team could have a reliable mode outside of Trick Room, since very fast and hard-hitting teams (Porygon-Z is an example) could overcome the damage control my team tried to deploy. Dragapult was a good addition in our minds. It also gave me a way to not lose immediately to Beat Up and could help against some Cinderace teams. But I’m going to be honest, this was, by far, my least used Pokémon during the qualifiers, but it helped a lot when I had to bring it.

Qualifiers – The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Normal Sprite

Incineroar (M) @ Figy Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 44 Def / 188 SpD / 12 Spe
Careful Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Lash Out
– U-turn

Incineroar is the definition of a solid Pokémon that does what it does greatly. It complemented the Intimidate spam greatly, while providing momentum with U-turn and Fake Out pressure. U-turn was preferred over Parting Shot because my team already had enough stat-decreasing strategies and the residual damage usually went a long way in a match. Lash Out was used to help against Dragapult and being a good STAB along with Flare Blitz. The EVs were to outspeed Tyranitar without investment.

Offensive calcs

Dragapult -1 12 Atk Incineroar Lash Out (150 BP) vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Dragapult: 164-194 (100.6 – 119%) — guaranteed OHKO

Indeedee-Female 12 Atk Incineroar Lash Out (75 BP) vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Indeedee-F: 92-110 (51.9 – 62.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Defensive calcs

Urshifu 252 Atk Urshifu Max Knuckle vs. 252 HP / 44 Def Incineroar: 168-200 (83.1 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Urshifu -1 252 Atk Urshifu Close Combat vs. 252 HP / 44 Def Incineroar: 144-170 (71.2 – 84.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Venusaur 252+ SpA Life Orb Venusaur Max Quake vs. 252 HP / 188+ SpD Incineroar: 146-172 (72.2 – 85.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Lapras 252+ SpA Lapras Max Geyser vs. 252 HP / 188+ SpD Incineroar in Rain: 158-188 (78.2 – 93%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Normal Sprite

Arcanine (M) @ Passho Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 20 SpD / 228 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Snarl
– Will-O-Wisp
– Helping Hand

I decided for Passho Berry to help me get at least two Snarls against Lapras or Primarina, and never for a second I regretted the decision, it saved me in so many games, I loved this item on this Pokémon. The disruption of Will-O-Wisp + Snarl + Intimidate was great and Helping Hand completed a great support Pokémon that made Primarina shine even brighter. The speed was to outspeed Porygon-Z by 2 points. The Special Defense EVs are just residual after maximizing HP.

Normal Sprite

Ferrothorn (F) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Iron Barbs
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Gyro Ball
– Power Whip
– Bulldoze
– Body Press

The star of the team. I decided to use a moveset that is not so standard, but fits the role it has on the team. An all-out offensive moveset was great to dish out damage from the moment it enters the field. Not only is its coverage almost perfect, making it an offensive option, it is also a great Dynamax user, not only doing damage, but also pairing with Porygon2 as late-game cleaners, since Ferrothorn can raise Porygon2’s defenses with Max Steelspike + Max Quake and make it almost unkillable. Body Press allowed me to ignore most of the Intimidates, since I could just click Max Steelspike three times and start Body Pressing everything. Power Whip was an immediate response to bulky Waters.

Offensive calcs

Togekiss 252+ Atk Ferrothorn Max Steelspike vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Togekiss: 204-242 (106.2 – 126%) — guaranteed OHKO

Primarina -1 252+ Atk Ferrothorn Max Overgrowth vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Primarina: 180-212 (96.2 – 113.3%) — 75% chance to OHKO

Lapras 252+ Atk Ferrothorn Max Overgrowth vs. 244 HP / 0 Def Lapras: 254-300 (107.6 – 127.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

Incineroar +3 0 Def Ferrothorn Body Press vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Incineroar: 206-244 (101.9 – 120.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

Lapras-Gmax 252+ SpA Life Orb Lapras G-Max Resonance vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Assault Vest Ferrothorn: 66-78 (36.4 – 43%) — guaranteed 3HKO

Normal Sprite

Primarina (F) @ Life Orb
Ability: Torrent
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Scald
– Dazzling Gleam
– Ice Beam
– Protect

Since the other five Pokémon on the team beat Rillaboom, Primarina has a great place in this team. With an almost unresisted STAB combination, high Special Attack and Ice Beam for the aforementioned Rillaboom, it is the strongest powerhouse of the team, breaking through defensive teams early to set up the path for Ferrothorn or Porygon2, or simply setting up the rain for Ferrothorn or the Misty Terrain to avoid Spore. Not to mention it has some bulk to it, specially on the special side. It was one of my MVPs during the entire tournament. I do like Torrent better than Liquid Voice, since I already have a STAB spread move and having a pseudo Choice Specs when below 33% HP was pretty useful in some matches. The only bad thing about this set was the Speed. Being slower than most Incineroar almost cost me some games. A faster Primarina would have helped a lot more (I changed the spread for the finals, the new spread will be shown later in this report).

Normal Sprite

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 180 Def / 28 SpA / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Ice Beam
– Recover
– Trick Room

This is a pretty standard moveset for Porygon2, I just took a standard EV spread from Pikalytics and adjusted it so that the Special Defense was bigger than the Defense; that way, opposing Download would boost the Attack. I never felt much need to change anything; it always got the job done. It simply lived virtually anything, was a reliable Trick Room setter and a nice win condition alongside Ferrothorn. Not to mention it’s a Ghost immunity, so it made my match-up against Dragapult a lot better.

Normal Sprite

Dragapult (M) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Clear Body
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 52 Atk / 44 Def / 92 SpD / 84 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Darts
– Phantom Force
– Steel Wing
– Protect

It might seem weird to have Weakness Policy on Dragapult for an open teamsheet event, but it was great for me. My opponents were afraid to attack my Dragapult with super effective attacks, and regular attacks did not hurt that much, so I almost always had three free turns to click buttons with this Pokémon. Max Wyrmwind and Max Steelspike fit the team concept of damage control while doing damage, while Max Phantasm helped me snowball the damage in the following turns. The Speed is to outspeed Alakazam.

Offensive calcs

Marowak-Alola 52 Atk Dragapult Max Phantasm vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Marowak-Alola: 168-198 (100.5 – 118.5%) — guaranteed OHKO

Defensive calcs

Dragapult 252 Atk Life Orb Dragapult Max Wyrmwind vs. 236 HP / 44 Def Dragapult (Dynamaxed): 328-385 (84.9 – 99.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Porygon-Z 252 SpA Life Orb Porygon-Z Helping Hand Max Darkness vs. 236 HP / 92 SpD Dragapult (Dynamaxed): 333-393 (86.2 – 101.8%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO

Qualifiers – Common leads

Lead PokémonComments
Arcanine+PrimarinaThis is probably the lead I used the most during the qualifiers. Arcanine’s ability to lower the Attack and Special Attack with Intimidate and Snarl, respectively, and also raise Primarina’s damage output with Helping Hand, combined with the sheer power and bulk of Dynamax Primarina made this combination very deadly against most teams, very few had an immediate response to this. Ferrothorn usually came in the back as an alternate win condition, in case I decided to not Dynamax Primarina, along with Incineroar or Porygon2, depending on the match-up.
Arcanine+DragapultThis lead is designed to face very offensive teams, mainly Porygon-Z. Arcanine lowering the damage output helped Dragapult trigger Weakness Policy more safely, at the same time it could raise the damage from Dragapult with Helping Hand, since Dragapult’s damage output could be lackluster sometimes.
Arcanine+Porygon2 Incineroar+Porygon2I usually went with this lead when I wanted Trick Room as soon as possible, because my opponent hard loses to it. Arcanine came when my opponent need to knock out Porygon2 to stop Trick Room and Incineroar when they relied on Taunt, since I could threaten with Fake Out.
Primarina+Porygon2This one is used when my opponent has absolutely no way to deny Trick Room, so I could use Primarina for its immediate fire power from turn one, while I safely Trick Room with Porygon2 on the side.
Incineroar+DragapultI used this lead only against Sun teams, Fake Out pressure tempted my opponents to Dynamax their Venusaur instead of trying to Sleep Powder everything, something my team struggles with. Dragapult was good to resist the main STABs from Venusaur and fire attacks in general, while doing some nice damage. Porygon2 usually came on the back to try the late-game sweep once the Dynamax has been stalled.

Qualifiers – Common threats

Threat PokémonComments
Terrakion/Cobalion
Beat Up
This is basically an auto-loss. There’s not much you can do unless the opponent plays poorly. Your best chance is to try to spam Intimidate and Max Wyrmwind, but even with that, it’s usually a loss.
Braviary/MiloticCompetitive and Defiant are pretty hard for a team relying on dropping stats. Bisharp is manageable because Arcanine can burn and Incineroar can resist both STABs, but Braviary and Milotic are hard, you need to play very well with Ferrothorn + Porygon2 to win this match-up.
Venusaur+Torkoal
Sun teams
Venusaur in general can be a problem, especially if it hits its Sleep Powders, and Dynamax can hit anything on the team hard, except for Ferrothorn, which has serious problems against Torkoal. The best bet is to use Incineroar and/or Dragapult early and try to win with Porygon2 in the end.

Qualifiers – Tournament run

Latin America Online Qualifiers

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
WR1ByeN/A
 
WR2WLWPER
Dorian A. Quiñones
(PPL-Urara)
TogekissDragapultCinderaceincineroaramoongusstyranitar
WR3WLWARG
Guido Micheli
(Illyasviel)
talonflamedracovishlaprasincineroarrillaboomurshifu
WR4LLBRA
Gabriel Agati
(Gabriel)
togekissdragapultrotom-washincineroarferrothornporygon2
LR6WWMEX
Román Feria

(Charliezard)
togekisscinderacelaprasincineroarrillaboomcomfey
LR7WWMEX
Israel Virueta
(Rusin)
clefairyporygon-zdracovisharcaninerillaboomterrakion
LR8WLWMEX
Gustavo Duarte
(TAVO)
mimikyuduraludonbisharptalonflamevenusaururshifu
LR9WLWBRA
Jhonatan Amorim
(Jhonatan)
togekissweezing-galarlaprasincineroardusclopsconkeldurr
LR10WWMEX
Víctor Martínez
(Prv 21:31)
indeedee-femaleduraludonstarmietorkoallilliganturshifu
LR11WLWGTM
Sergio Solís
(Chejo)
togekissdragalgeamoongussincineroardusclopsurshifu
LR12WWCHL
Matías Roa
(Boah)
klefkihydreigonbraviaryarcaninerillaboomurshifu
Here is the team if you want to try it out!

Final stage – Teambuilding process

ArcanineIncineroarFerrothornPrimarinaPorygon2Dragapult

Although the team did very well throughout the Qualifiers, during my training for the final stage I ended up facing many Beat Up combinations, Braviary or Milotic, three almost auto-losses for my original team, which scared me a lot going forward. That’s why I decided to remove one of the Fire-types and add Follow Me. As much as it pains me, Arcanine had to go. It was fantastic on the team, but I feel like the pivoting and the Fake Out of Incineroar were more valuable to me. In its place I decided to include Togekiss, an all-around great Pokémon that can fit in almost any team. And mine was no exception. It did a great job in redirecting Beat Up and Fire attacks from Ferrothorn.

TogekissIncineroarFerrothornPrimarinaPorygon2Dragapult

The rest of the team was the same, but I changed something in every Pokémon. The reason for each change is down below.

Final stage – The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Normal Sprite

Incineroar (M) @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 52 Atk / 4 Def / 188 SpD / 12 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Stomping Tantrum
– U-turn

The idea of this more offensive approach for Incineroar I took from Gabriel Agati and Alister Sandover’s team, who decided to use an Incineroar that can effectively use Dynamax and use Max Quake to boost the Special Defense of the rest of the team and do damage. That’s why I decided to raise Incineroar’s Attack and add Stomping Tantrum. I did not want Earthquake because the rest of my team did not have Protect with the exception of Dragapult and Togekiss. The Safety Goggles is mainly to reduce the amount of predicts against Venusaur and to help against Amoonguss.

Normal Sprite

Togekiss (M) @ Babiri Berry
Ability: Serene Grace
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 44 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Air Slash
– Dazzling Gleam
– Follow Me
– Protect

I decided to go with the Serene Grace variant instead of the “CritKiss” with Super Luck because I really liked the idea of Babiri Berry to help me deal with Cinderace, and Serene Grace Air Slash can be a better win condition if needed. I still to this day do not know if I would rather have Helping Hand or Protect in the last slot, I think both have merits. One thing I would change in this set is swap Dazzling Gleam with Heat Wave, I felt like I was too weak to opposing Ferrothorn and I did not click Dazzling Gleam that much. The Speed was to outspeed Cinderace if Togekiss is at +1.

Normal Sprite

Ferrothorn (F) @ Occa Berry
Ability: Iron Barbs
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 252 Atk / 4 SpD
Brave Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Gyro Ball
– Power Whip
– Curse
– Body Press

This is a set I really do not know if I like more or less than the original one. Having Occa Berry was great, since I could easily live Incineroar’s Flare Blitz after one Curse and do massive damage with Body Press. Curse helped me set up without the need to Dynamax and with the combination of Occa Berry made it a bigger threat outside of Dynamax, not to mention, a better late-game option. On the other hand, the lack of Max Quake was a problem (this was one of the reasons I put Max Quake on Incineroar), because it took away a part of my Porygon2 end game. At the same time, the damage difference I took from not having Assault Vest was sensible and was an obstacle to this Pokémon’s longevity.

Defensive calcs
Incineroar 0 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Occa Berry Ferrothorn: 122-146 (67.4 – 80.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Normal Sprite

Primarina (F) @ Life Orb
Ability: Torrent
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 204 SpA / 100 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Scald
– Dazzling Gleam
– Ice Beam
– Protect

As I said before, not having Speed on Primarina was really bad for me in some matches during the Qualifiers, so I decided to put some investment to outspeed standard Incineroar by 2 points.

Offensive calcs
Incineroar 204+ SpA Life Orb Primarina Max Geyser vs. 252 HP / 80 SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 203-242 (100.4 – 119.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
Defensive calcs
Rillaboom 252+ Atk Choice Band Rillaboom Grassy Glide vs. 204 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Primarina in Grassy Terrain: 318-374 (87.8 – 103.3%) — 25% chance to OHKO

Normal Sprite

Porygon2 @ Eviolite
Ability: Download
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 180 Def / 28 SpA / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Thunderbolt
– Ice Beam
– Recover
– Trick Room

I kept the exact same set on Porygon2.

Normal Sprite

Dragapult (M) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Clear Body
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 52 Atk / 44 Def / 92 SpD / 84 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Darts
– Phantom Force
– Fly
– Protect

I decided to switch Steel Wing for Fly to help with speed control against Venusaur and also help Togekiss outspeed basically everything not named Dragapult, but I’m still not sure if that is the right move in this slot. I tried U-turn too, but none of them were really satisfactory.

Final stage – Common leads

Lead PokémonComments
Togekiss+PrimarinaTogekiss basically took Arcanine’s place of a go-to lead, but with the advantage of being a more offensive option, in exchange of not lowering the opponents stats. Instead, it tries to secure Primarina from taking damage, so that it can do the most in the three Dynamax turns.
Togekiss+Porygon2I can use this lead to basically guarantee Trick Room for the Primarina or Ferrothorn in the back, although good players usually can get around this, so I tend not to start it against high-level competition.
Togekiss+Ferrothorn
Porygon2+Ferrothorn
With the addition of Curse, Ferrothorn does not need to be afraid of the Incineroar coming in, so it is not a bad lead option anymore. Redirection or Trick Room as partners depends on the match-up.
Togekiss+DragapultOne of the more standard leads in VGC 2020, redirection + button-clicking with Dragapult basically fits in any match-up that any other lead does not like.
Incineroar+DragapultThis one usually goes against Sun, Dragapult can get the speed control back while Incineroar can get some massive damage, while not being knocked out by Venusaur.

Final stage – Tournament run

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
WR1WWITA
Nico D. Cognetta

(Dave)
porygon2dragapultprimarinaincineroarrillaboomterrakion
WR2LWLAUS
Christopher Kan
(Wasp)
togekisscinderaceprimarinaincineroarferrothornninetales-alola
LR2LLARG
Julián E. Martínez
(Jayuto)
AmoongussDragapultGyaradosIncineroarToxtricityUrshifu

You can watch my sets against Christopher Kan from 4:27:06 and against Julián Martínez from 5:10:39 here!:

Final thoughts

Overall, I thought this bulkier approach to a metagame many considered too offensive was great and really fun to play with. Unfortunately, Series 5 is over, but I hope in the future I can use this team again, since I feel it can deal with anything in the metagame and fits my style. If someone has a chance, I recommend testing it out.

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