The Anti-Meta Zacian and Drampa – A Kaohsiung Regionals Runner-up Team Report

Hello, everyone! I am Tsai Chien-chien, also known as ChienX2_VGC on Twitter. I am a Taiwanese player who has been playing VGC since 2015; I was Top 8 in Worlds 2015 in the Seniors Division and have unfortunately finished 5 regional-level events in second place (including this one, the Kaohsiung Regional League) in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore since I entered Masters Division in 2016.

This team is mostly built by Liu Jian-ting (Sayha), who also cut this Regional using the same team.

While the credit goes to him, the team was gradually developed through our discussion, so I will be covering the teambuilding process and how we settled with this unique Zacian team.

Teambuilding process

Since we also both used the same team and cut Taipei Regional in last December, we were comfortable with our teambuilding direction aiming for the local meta and would like to do it again for Kaohsiung Regional.

eternatus

We wanted a team with a more flexible playstyle, so we initially started with Eternatus, which functions like a bulkier Zacian and is not stopped by Intimidate. Yet ultimately we were unable to build an Eternatus team we were satisfied with, but the tool provided by Dynamax Cannon to threaten hyper-offensive Dynamax, which is more than common in this meta, left a strong impression on us.

zacian-crowneddusclops

Thus we began with Zacian and Dusclops, with Helping Hand to keep the offensive pressure and the great bulk to make up for Zacian’s one-way playstyle. The major obstacles for Zacian in my opinion are the Zacian mirror and weather-based teams, so we proceeded with these two match-ups in mind.

zacian-crowneddusclopsrotom-heatdrampa

Sayha first added Heat Rotom as a basic check to Zacian + Lapras or Zacian + Thundurus. Then I suggested we add a Pokémon taking advantage of Trick Room like Snorlax, and Sayha found out that Drampa might be a better fit because it completely shuts down weather teams even outside of Trick Room, solving our second problem.

But Zacian mirror is still too big of a burden for Rotom alone to carry. It was not until Sayha discovered Zacian can learn Imprison that we thought this team is the right call for the Regional. I did not know Zacian could learn Imprison, and I am surprised nobody knew either when Zacian is so popular in the meta. Imprison Zacian changes everything, providing us an easy solution to Zacian mirror, and now with the two major threats gone we are free to strengthen the consistency of the team even further.

zacian-crowneddusclopsrotom-heatdrampatapu-finirillaboom

Sayha decided Tapu Fini and Rillaboom for the last two spots, one bringing Misty Terrain to help Drampa cope with sun, the other kills off Regieleki and Kyogre which Zacian has a hard time dealing with, and both have decent bulk along with damage output just like the rest of the team.

We did not have much time left to test it by the time this team was complete, but considering what Zacian can do and the overall bulk of the six, the team allows great room for piloting, which is exactly what we wanted going into the tournament, and therefore we brought this team to Kaohsiung Regional.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

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Zacian-Crowned @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
Level: 50
EVs: 76 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 20 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Behemoth Blade
– Sacred Sword
– Imprison
– Protect

Pick Rate: 23/23
No Dynamax for the Whole Game Rate: 3/23

Zacian is the best Pokémon in the format in my opinion, being able to cut its way through as long as the board control has not been taken.

With its immense Attack stat, my gameplan is usually to stall out my opponent’s offense, and then to find a timing when Zacian can freely attack to take down their key pieces. This is only doable with the bulk provided by other team members and the instant damage by Zacian, so you will want to utilize the former to negate opponents’ speed control which is the most common way to counter Zacian. Also keep in mind that since Zacian works the best when it strikes first, leading Zacian to force your opponent to take a Behemoth Blade for Trick Room is also a valid choice, as Zacian can easily switch out for Dusclops to tank the damage under Trick Room.

The other tool this Zacian has is Imprison for the inevitable Zacian mirror. While this move seems like it only shifts speed tie for Behemoth Blade to speed tie for Imprison, it works better because it is not limited to speed ties. You can go for Fake Out for a safe Imprison, or simply Imprison before the opposite Zacian is sent out; the later is surprisingly effective, because a lot of people also like to preserve Zacian for the end-game sweep, and once you set up Imprison beforehand, your opponent no longer has access to Protect, making them free target for Zacian.

Offensive calcs

Calyrex-Shadow-Rider +1 156 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 4 HP / 4 Def Calyrex-Shadow: 177-208 (100.5 – 118.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

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Rotom-Heat @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Levitate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 132 SpA / 12 SpD / 108 Spe
Modest Nature
– Thunderbolt
– Overheat
– Volt Switch
– Protect

Pick Rate: 15/23
Dynamax Rate: 8/23

Thanks to its fantastic typing, Heat Rotom is a great threat to Zacian, sun, and Ice Rider Calyrex, which are all common in the meta.

Rotom lacks outstanding damage or bulk to shine in every situation, but it does wall these three archetypes very well and potentially hits hard against them if they do not Dynamax, and seeing my opponent forcibly Dynamax is exactly what Zacian wants.

Take Landorus and Thundurus for example; generally they would want to Dynamax Thundurus because it has a better match-up against Zacian. Yet when I Dynamax my Rotom, they are forced to Dynamax their Landorus so that they will not lose the trade, and now they are vulnerable to my Behemoth Blade. Such indicates that Rotom and Zacian share great type synergy, even though Rotom cannot sweep without Nasty Plot, it still does enough damage to put my opponent into Zacian KO range while wasting both’s Dynamax turns.

As for why I dropped Nasty Plot in favor of Volt Switch, it is because the team members mostly fight individually, hence I rarely have the chance to safely go for Nasty Plot but usually Dynamax immediately instead, and therefore Volt Switch is chosen so that I can shift to Trick Room mode easily or have an unexpected safe switch-in for Zacian.

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Drampa @ Assault Vest
Ability: Cloud Nine
Level: 50
EVs: 188 HP / 84 Def / 196 SpA / 20 SpD / 4 Spe
Modest Nature
– Hyper Voice
– Hyper Beam
– Snarl
– Flamethrower

Pick Rate: 10/23
Dynamax Rate: 5/23

Drampa is a fantastic Pokemon when facing sun, rain, and Shadow Rider Calyrex, and also functions well under Trick Room.

Drampa is very match-depending as it does great against the above three but sucks against Zacian and Ice Rider Calyrex, but it is capable of achieving the ideal early-game plan for a late game Zacian sweep; it shuts down weather teams with Cloud Nine, denies Tailwind or Max Airstream with STAB Max Strike, and hits hard. By the time Drampa finishes three Max Strikes, the opposite Pokémon are usually slower than Zacian and are within its KO range, making a perfect board position for my team.

Even when without Dynamax, Drampa can sometimes work like a budget Rayquaza, switching in for Tapu Fini to kill Coalossal or for Zacian to outspeed and one-shot Venusaur under sun. These are crucial to keep in mind and can occasionally catch my opponent off guard.

For the moveset, Drampa has too many good coverage moves to not run Assault Vest.
Hyper Voice and Flamethrower are first picked, and then we chose Snarl to give Female Indeedee + Shadow Rider Calyrex a good surprise since this match-up solely relies on Drampa, but later we realized Snarl or Max Darkness alone are not enough for the matchup, and thus Hyper Beam is included so that we can go for Helping Hand-boosted 150 base power Max Strike to knock out Indeedee if it is revealed not Focus Sash through Frisk.

Offensive calcs

indeedee-female 196+ SpA Drampa Helping Hand Max Strike (150BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Indeedee-F: 201-237 (113.5 – 133.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
calyrex-shadow-rider 196+ SpA Drampa Helping Hand Snarl vs. 4 HP / 4 SpD Calyrex-Shadow: 156-184 (88.6 – 104.5%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO

Defensive calcs

mienshao 252 Atk Mienshao Close Combat vs. -1 188 HP / 100 Def Dynamax Drampa: 306-362 (86.4 – 102.2%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO

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Tapu Fini @ Leftovers
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 196 SpA / 12 SpD / 36 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Muddy Water
– Moonblast
– Haze
– Protect

Pick Rate: 20/23
Dynamax Rate: 7/23

Tapu Fini does not do a lot, but it is easy to send out in every situation, providing consistency so that I can position better.

It is usually stuck on the field and does mediocre but constant damage; it would be a waste for my opponent to Dynamax for it, but if they do not they will also take quite some Muddy Water and Moonblast. Tapu Fini is all about chip damage but Dynamaxing it for a quick knockout is also a valid option since preserving Dynamax is not too important for the team, and Tapu Fini just does everything decently so that is why it has the second highest pick rate after Zacian despite not mastering in anything.

Calm Mind is a good choice as well, but since I still mostly rely on Zacian for the big damage, Haze is the final choice here for some self-proc Weakness Policy strategies.

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Rillaboom-Gmax @ Miracle Seed
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 204 HP / 252 Atk / 12 Def / 12 SpD / 28 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Grassy Glide
– High Horsepower
– Fake Out
– Protect

Pick Rate: 8/23
Dynamax Rate: 0/23

The team’s second end-game sweeper, Grassy Glide is just as strong as Zacian in late game when everything is not at full health.

This Rillaboom specializes in picking up KOs alongside Zacian, therefore the Miracle Seed and the max Attack EVs. Especially Kyogre and Regieleki are two Pokémon Zacian struggles with, so it helps a lot to kill them with just one Grassy Glide, and with the chip damage style this team has, many will also be taken down to Grassy Glide range as the game goes.

High Horsepower can help deal some damage to Zacian and Incineroar, and makes Rillaboom a better Dynamax option if needed. Lastly we choose Protect on Rillaboom because it is usually unexpected. Protecting for one turn to wait for the opponent being hit into Grassy Glide range sometimes does wonders.

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 204 HP / 12 Def Rillaboom: 168-198 (83.5 – 98.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO

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Dusclops @ Eviolite
Ability: Frisk
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 212 Def / 44 SpD
Relaxed Nature
– Night Shade
– Trick Room
– Pain Split
– Helping Hand

Pick Rate: 15/23
Dynamax Rate: 0/23

Dusclops is a reliable answer to a lot of offensive teams, having the Trick Room option to counter them and then heal back with Pain Split.

This team does not rely on Trick Room to work at all, but due to many teams in this format lacking in proper Trick Room answers, they cannot take Dusclops lightly; meanwhile I am free to go for anything I want like Helping Hand, Night Shade, or as a safe defensive switch-in.

Since Dusclops is super bulky, it naturally slows down the pace of the game, and the slower it gets, the better flexibility and control I have over the game. This plus Zacian’s trait to ignore Dynamax achieve what Sayha and I wanted during teambuilding; it changes some of the matches’ focus into board positioning rather than when to Dynamax, half feeling more like a Gen 7 team sometimes.

Defensive calcs

zacian-crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 252 HP / 212+ Def Eviolite Dusclops: 66-78 (44.8 – 53%) — 21.9% chance to 2HKO
thundurus 252 Atk Thundurus Max Darkness vs. 252 HP / 212+ Def Eviolite Dusclops: 56-68 (38 – 46.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO
calyrex-shadow-rider 252 SpA Life Orb Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 252 HP / 40 SpD Eviolite Dusclops: 125-148 (85 – 100.6%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

How to use the team

The Pokémon in the team can be roughly categorized into the followings:

a) Versatile tank

tapu-fini You can usually pick Tapu Fini whenever you want. When facing Sleep Powder or Will-O-Wisps and self-proc Weakness Policy, it is important to have Tapu Fini. Do not be afraid of Dynamaxing Tapu Fini too as you see the situation fit, like knocking out Incineroar from an Ice Rider Calyrex team.

dusclops A good counter pick to either fast teams or slow teams because they need to respect your Trick Room option. When playing against oppressing Pokémon like Max Airstream Thundurus and Shadow Rider Calyrex, it is best to lead Dusclops to force them to deal with it first. Dusclops down for their Dynamax used up is usually worth trading, but it is better to keep it alive as long as possible if fighting Trick Room.

b) Specific pick

rotom-heat For Zacian, sun, and Ice Rider Calyrex match-ups. Keep in mind that your opponent usually expects Nasty Plot before you reveal Volt Switch, so you can use this and Rotom’s health to decide whether you want to Dynamax or not.

drampa For sun, rain, and Shadow Rider Calyrex match-ups. It does not necessarily need Trick Room to work. In a lot of situations it is better to Max Strike to speed control for Zacian instead of attacking under Trick Room. When playing against Shadow Rider Calyrex, lead Dusclops and Drampa to force your opponent to kill Dusclops first, and Helping Hand + Max Strike to knock out Indeedee while Calyrex becomes slower than Zacian.

c) End-game sweeper

rillaboom Grassy Glide in late game is more devastating than Gen 6 Talonflame’s Brave Bird, so use the priority move to kill those that outspeed Zacian. Sometimes it can also Gigantamax for the big damage if the opposing team does not have much Grass-type resistance.

zacian-crowned Pretty sure everyone knows how good Zacian is.

Conclusions

However, the team also has its weaknesses, since it struggles against those who simply hit way too hard for it to withstand, or those who outstall the team:

  • Shadow Rider Calyrex for one is too good in hyper-offensive archetypes, so it usually becomes a 50-50 guessing game or worse if they have something for Drampa like Mienshao.
  • Weakness Policy Solgaleo is probably the worst matchup because its damage is too high during Dynamax, but it is also impossible to kill during it, so the team will be forced to stall out the three turns and Haze the buff away which is a very tough task.
  • Lastly it is teams like Wu Chen’s Yveltal + Registeel team which I lost to in finals. The only direct damage this team has is Zacian’s Behemoth Blade, so when your opponent is well-prepared for that with two Intimidate and a long-term end-game threat like Registeel, it becomes quite a difficult matc-hup.

Yet the team performs well against sun and rain teams thanks to Drampa, and against Zacian and Ice Rider Calyrex teams thanks to Imprison Zacian and Heat Rotom, so the team does nail the anti-meta perspective in my opinion, and is very fun to pilot because it works in quite a different fashion from most teams in Gen 8.

Thank Sayha for building the team and you all for reading the report. Hope you like it!

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