The Best Defense is a Hyper Offense – A Liverpool Regionals Top 4 Team Report

Hi! My name is Ben Grissmer, also known as Chef, and I recently finished in 3rd place at Liverpool Regionals with a fun hyper offense team, and I’m excited to share it with you.

I started playing VGC in 2017, and my notable results include reaching Day 2 of the North America Internationals three times (2017, 2018, and 2019) and placing Top 4 at Bristol Regionals in 2019. I like to consider myself a creative teambuilder, and all of these teams were unusual constructions that I built myself, featuring Pokémon such as Stoutland, Mega Abomasnow, and Mega Lopunny. This team is no different, so let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

I’ve always favored hyper offense teams, and in Series 12 two offensive Restricted Pokemon that come to mind are the very fast and hard-hitting Zacian and Shadow Rider Calyrex. Zacian’s ability to ignore the HP boost of opposing Dynamax Pokémon is amazing for offensive teams. Meanwhile, Calyrex’s powerful spread attacks do big damage to a lot of threats while setting up KOs for Zacian and other teammates.


Defiant Thundurus is the perfect addition to this restricted pair, and the three form the real core of the team. It scares off Incineroar, a key check to Zacian and Calyrex, while also dishing out powerful attacks of its own as the team’s primary Dynamax user. This core puts on a ton of pressure and can snowball quickly with Max Airstreams, Max Knuckles, and Grim Neigh.


The next step was to find the support for this core which could rotate as the fourth Pokémon depending on the matchup. Whimsicott was an obvious addition to match opposing speed control. I also wanted a late game clean-up Pokémon, and Galarian Darmanitan has been my go-to option since Gen 8 released: it can outspeed and OHKO many threats and can put a dent in just about anything with its great coverage. Finally, Single Strike Style Urshifu can fill a similar role while patching up certain matchups.


The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Zacian-Crowned @ Rusted Sword
Ability: Intrepid Sword
EVs: 4 Hp / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Behemoth Blade
– Close Combat
– Substitute
– Protect

I used max Speed to outspeed or at least tie opposing Zacian, as well as max Attack – I found every little bit is important to secure KOs in all situations. I chose Close Combat over Sacred Sword for more damage and to take advantage of Max Phantasm Defense drops. Finally, Substitute is a great move when your team exerts so much offensive pressure to take advantage of protects and switches, and I never felt the need for Play Rough.

Calyrex-Shadow @ Focus Sash
Ability: As One (Spectrier)
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Astral Barrage
– Expanding Force
– Imprison
– Trick Room

I used Expanding Force over Psyshock to avoid Indeedee Follow Me while also putting it in KO range of Zacian / Thundurus. The Imprison + Trick Room combo is fantastic. 

First and foremost, it gives a great matchup against opposing Trick Room teams, but each move has separate uses as well. I can unexpectedly set my own Trick Room in the face of opponents using Tailwind, and Imprison can be situationally useful to prevent opposing Calyrex from attacking.

Thundurus @ Life Orb
Ability: Defiant
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Fly
– Wild Charge
– Superpower
– Protect

This is a fairly standard Defiant Thundurus set. As usual, maximizing damage on the Pokemon I Dynamax in 90% of matches was the reasoning behind using life orb instead of a more defensive assault vest.

Whimsicott @ Eject Button
Ability: Prankster
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Tailwind
– Moonblast
– Taunt
– Helping Hand

Eject button with no Switcheroo seems strange, but the reason is simple: I want the switch effect for myself, not my opponent. I want Whimsicott off the field as soon as possible once it sets/matches Tailwind, and whether that’s being KO’d or ejected is no problem. 

This is because having two of Zacian/Calyrex Shadow Rider/Thundurus next to each other working together is exactly what this team wants.  This is also why I opted for max Special Attack rather than bulk, and the extra offense did come in handy. 

Helping Hand was a great move to power up the big hitters on the team when Whimsicott found itself stuck on the field. Taunt gave some extra options against opponents’ support pokemon, such as Ammongus, Thundurus, or opposing Whimsicott.

Darmanitan-Galar @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Gorilla Tactics
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Icicle Crash
– Flare Blitz
– Superpower
– Rock Slide

Choice Scarf is the obvious item on Galarian Darmanitan, with Gorilla Tactics already limiting you to one move, and being so frail that you need to KO the opponent before they KO you. 

STAB Icicle Crash is extremely powerful while also hitting big threats like Groudon, Yveltal, and Thundurus super effective. Flare Blitz picks up the OHKO on Zacian, and Superpower rounds out the coverage by hitting Incineroar super effective and Kyogre neutral. Rock Slide gives a spread option and a chance for some cheeky flinches.

Offensive calcs

zacian-crowned 252 Atk Gorilla Tactics Darmanitan-Galar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Zacian-Crowned: 192-226 (96.4 – 113.5%) — 75% chance to OHKO

thundurus 252 Atk Gorilla Tactics Darmanitan-Galar Icicle Crash vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Dynamax Thundurus: 306-362 (98.7 – 116.7%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Urshifu @ Choice Band
Ability: Unseen Fist
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Wicked Blow
– Close Combat
– Sucker Punch
– Rock Slide

Urshifu was the last member added to the team, specifically to patch up matchups against Solgaleo and Dialga, but it is a useful option against a lot of teams. 

It was also handy to have a priority move in Sucker Punch. Focus Sash wasn’t available, so I went with Choice Band for maximum damage output. First three moves are standard, but I chose Rock Slide to give a spread option and because I rarely needed a pivot with U-turn.

Common leads

Common leads

Although these are the leads I used most of the times, it will depends on the opponents team. For example, while Darmanitan is usually a clean-up pokemon, it is a very strong lead against the Calyrex Zacian mirror.

The general idea is to put lots of damage on the board and pick up enough KOs with your lead that the strong attackers in the back can finish off the game. Also, don’t forget to take advantage of Calyrex’s Trick Room to put the speed control in your favor, either using Imprison against opposing Trick Room or setting it yourself against Tailwind.

Tournament run

This was the toughest schedule top to bottom I’ve ever faced at an event. I played so many great players: two cut, seven of eight earned CP, and the only one who didn’t bubbled at 33rd. I ended swiss with 75.00% resistance, the highest possible.

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team 
Nicole Saeed
Aleksandra Ćwikiel
Alex DellaPasqua
Jonas Wiegel

Thomas Gravouille
Taran Birdee
Francisco Esteves
Jay Stothard

Top cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team 
Stefan Mott
Thomas Gravouille


Overall, this team does not have any particularly terrible matchups, but at the same time it does not have a whole lot of easy matchups either. It gives you the tools and offensive capabilities to defeat almost any team in the format, often with a slight advantage. It is packed with as much power as possible – all 6 Pokemon have 252/252+ spreads, so you have to keep the pressure on and use your attacks wisely. It also had the advantage of being an off-meta team that forced opponents out of their comfort zone, making it difficult for them to find the optimal game plan against it.

Thank you to everyone who supported me and rooted for me during the tournament, especially the French VGC community and Postwick United. I am excited to continue exploring this format and play in the World Championships in London!

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