En Garde, my Steel Rider – A Taichung Regionals Top 4 Team Report

First, I wanted to thank Rikkai for helping me drawing my cover, and OtenkozVGC for translating this report into English.

Hello! I’m Sie Meng-ru, but you can also call me Ryan. I’m a VGC player from Taiwan, and started playing VGC in Pokémon Sword and Pokémon Shield. I’m pretty fond of looking for rare Pokémon to counter the meta, and wish to bring more variety to the environment.

This top 4 at Taichung Regionals is the first time I got a satisfying result in an official tournament, and also an accomplishment of teamwork from several friends, so I’m glad to share this report to all VGC players abroad, and hope to provide some fresh ideas!

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

The whole process is such an odyssey! It started from a team used by Hong Kong VGC player Kisch Cheng (Kassiddy) during a friendly tournament between Hong Kong and Korea. He built a slow-pace team, and caught my heart. Thus, I built my team with the same Pokémon, and the journey began.

dialgayveltalvolcaronaslowbrolandorus-therianregieleki

After a couple games, I found it to be painful when facing Sun teams. The combination of Dialga and Yveltal wasn’t good enough for me, so I turned this team down.

Nope, how could I give up? I must try a more aggressive way. What came to my mind was: “A Sun team relies on Gastrodon to suppress Kyogre’s Dynamax, so what if I try to use Weezing and Kyogre?”

dialgakyogrevolcaronaweezingglastriertogekiss

The countermeasure against Sun teams was established, but the lack of Yveltal was getting too heavy. I tried to use Glastrier to take some of its work, but my composition was not stable for a solid Trick Room. A Fake Out from Raichu + Max Darkness from Life Orb Yveltal could easily ruin everything. Even when I gave up Trick Room to fight with the basic speed, I’d get wiped out by Zacian at the end game.

dialgakyogrevolcaronaweezingregigigastogekiss

Regigigas was also my pick to deal with Yveltal, but a Regieleki could easily ruin my advantage with Electroweb, and the purpose of Regigigas (dominating the field with high damage and speed control by Max Strike) would be futile, especially when I needed both Regigigas and Weezing, thus my Pokémon choice was restricted.

dialgakyogreincineroarweezinglandorus-theriantogekiss

After a couple of changes, I got no progress for any breakthrough. For the team above as example, a Zacian team with Thundurus can bring high uncertainty, and much practice has proven my thoughts. The biggest frustration is that Dialga needs to Dynamax to bring its advantage, but I have to use other teammates to Dynamax to swipe out Dialga’s weaknesses… but in the end, a non-Dynamaxed Dialga is obviously not a good match against Zacian.

This didn’t bother me long. My Pokémon discussion group was still troubling about measures to deal with Sun teams. The latest thought was using Calyrex’s Ability Unnerve, which cannot be stopped, and use a Pokémon with a Rock-type move that outsped Charizard to ensure an OHKO.

necrozma-dusk-manecalyrex-shadow-riderincineroarazumarilllandorusregieleki

This idea was close to my original strategy of Kyogre + Weezing. If there is a way to suppress the Sun team’s high damage, even Steel-type Pokémon such as Solgaleo, Dusk Mane Necrozma or Dialga can fight back decently.

With this glitter of hope, I started the third trial:

dialgacalyrex-shadow-riderincineroarazumarilllandorusregieleki
necrozma-dusk-manecalyrex-shadow-riderincineroarprimarinagarchompregieleki

The difference between these two teams is the three Pokémon:

  1. Which should be the Steel-type Restricted Pokémon?
  2. Which Water type is a better pick to counter Trick Room?
  3. Which Pokémon to outspeed Charizard?

The answer of the first question directly answers both question 2 and 3. To compare Dialga and Dusk Mane Necrozma, they both fit my requirements, but the reason for choosing Dialga is because it better resists Yveltal’s terrifying damage. On the other hand, Taiwanese players tend more towards Kyogre than Groudon, which was another argument to choose Dialga, since it has a Water-type resistance.

For the Water-type Pokémon, I agree with the opinion of Ting Yu-liang (Brandon): A Water/Fairy type is a good choice; not only to switch in and take damages, but also to stress Palkia, Ice Rider Calyrex and Yveltal. Tapu Fini is obviously not suitable for this place. The choice of Azumarill and Primarina is just to balance the team’s physical or special moves.

For the Charizard slayer, and also considering both threats from Grimmsnarl’s Thunder Wave and damage from Groudon and Zacian, the last two choices were Garchomp and Incarnate Landorus. The major difference is that Landorus is immune to Ground-type moves, and Garchomp can take a hit of Zacian’s Behemoth Blade. I eventually selected the former.

The Team


Regieleki
@ Magnet
Ability: Transistor
Level: 50
EVs: 28 HP / 220 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Wild Charge
– Bounce
– Electroweb
– Protect

I tried many Regieleki sets, I even tried Choice Scarf to deal with speed ties towards Shadow Rider Calyrex teams with a rival Regieleki, so I could leave my Dynamax to Dialga. My mind changed after facing tough counters in the leads of Thundurus + Zacian or Thundurus + Shadow Rider Calyrex. After that, I changed my Regieleki to a physical set, which could ensure my priority with a Max Airstream.

Electroweb allows me to keep my Regieleki having another speed control without relying on Dynamax. To me, the speed priority is way better than the Max Darkness + Astral Barrage combo.

Offensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned
220 Atk Magnet Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 252 HP / 0 Def Zacian-Crowned: 144-171 (72.3 – 85.9%) alongside 252 SpA Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Zacian-Crowned: 81-96 (40.7 – 48.2%)
A damage focus to ensure a one-turn KO of a defensive EV’d Zacian.

thundurus
252 Atk Life Orb Transistor Regieleki Max Lightning vs. 36 HP / 52 Def Dynamax Thundurus: 224-265 (70.4 – 83.3%) alongside 252 SpA Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 36 HP / 12 SpD Assault Vest Dynamax Thundurus: 72-85 (22.6 – 26.7%)
Pity is this combo cannot ensure one-turn KO towards an Assault Vest Dynamax Thundurus, one of the unstable counters.

kyogre 220 Atk Magnet Transistor Regieleki Wild Charge vs. 240 HP / 188 Def Dynamax Kyogre: 204-240 (49.7 – 58.5%)
In Kyogre match-ups, my Dynamax Pokémon would be Dialga, and my observation of the recent Liverpool Regionals, Dialga had a hard time dealing with Assault Vest Kyogre, so I needed to make sure of the actual damage a non-Dynamaxed Regieleki could deal to Kyogre, to build up a reasonable game plan.

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 28 HP / 4 Def Regieleki: 132-156 (83 – 98.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
This EV spread can let Regieleki take one hit of a Behemoth Blade from a 333 Attack Zacian, and make the HP to 16n-1, which minimizes the damage from Sandstorm and Hail. The item was initially Life Orb, but Landorus needed it more than Regieleki, so I used Magnet instead for its major damage output.


Calyrex-Shadow @ Focus Sash
Ability: As One (Spectrier)
Level: 50
EVs: 4 Def / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
– Astral Barrage
– Will-O-Wisp
– Snarl
– Protect

The EVs are simple. The key point of Shadow Rider Calyrex is its position in the team: its speed domination. Being almost always the first to move, your opponent can hardly prevent its spread damage or its other coverage moves, as the old Weezing + Dialga lead was way more passive.

Mostly, Calyrex can force the opponent’s Dialga to Dynamax to reduce the damage from Astral Barrage. So when my Dialga switches in, the opponent might have wasted too much energy, and will get heavy pressure by our late Dynamax. When the opponent is afraid of the high-speed damage of Calyrex, they usually choose Tailwind or Max Airstream. This is when Dialga’s Trick Room starts to strike back.


Dialga @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Pressure
Level: 50
EVs: 212 HP / 156 SpA / 140 Spe
Modest Nature
– Flash Cannon
– Roar of Time
– Earth Power
– Trick Room

The major damage dealer of the team. In order to go for a two-way speed strategy, I invested some Speed. The 128 Speed stat is to outspeed the Global Exhibition Champion Leonardo Bonanomi’s Groudon, and with it it is faster than most Groudon.

Special Attack is to fit 11n, which gains an extra point. After that, the remaining EVs are just to make it as bulky as possible. Also, this Dialga can take one Sacred Sword hit from a 333 Attack Zacian.

Many players wonder: why would you give a Restricted Pokémon Safety Goggles? In countering other Restricted, Dialga are supposed to be good when facing Palkia and Ice Rider Calyrex, but the most challenging part is the interference from Amoonguss. Wasting Max Moves on Amoonguss is also a threat to your gameplan: why not make Amoonguss powerless and make Dialga free? Courtesy of experiences from Chou Tsung-hsiao (Teayue)!

Defensive calcs
Zacian-Crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 212 HP / 0 Def Dialga: 162-192 (80.1 – 95%) — guaranteed 2HKO


Azumarill (M) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Huge Power
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 204 HP / 236 Atk / 68 Def
Brave Nature
– Liquidation
– Aqua Jet
– Steel Roller
– Play Rough

The Attack EVs are the highest 11n, and HP is just same as the previous for Figy Berry activation set (3n). The remaining points are derived to Defense to increase the chance to take a Behemoth Blade of +1 Zacian.

However, some may ask why the nature is Brave but the Speed IVs are maxed. I let the actual Speed stat be 63 mainly because most Ice Rider Calyrex in the meta are mostly not the slowest Speed, so Azumarill can generally move first in Trick Rooms when facing them.

One special move is Steel Roller. With it, during the counter towards Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia teams, Azumarill can easily suppress Palkia and might require Max Steelspike to increase its bulk, and also Incineroar can use Parting Shot to keep on switching out, causing Calyrex to fall into a difficult situation to deal enough damage.

For the fourth move, I first considered Superpower, also for Max Knuckle to increase Attack. However, my testing results showed the prior STAB move Aqua Jet is more advantageous in most games.

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Behemoth Blade vs. 204 HP / 68 Def Azumarill: 172-204 (85.5 – 101.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO


Incineroar (M) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 244 HP / 36 Atk / 92 Def / 76 SpD / 60 Spe
Impish Nature
– Flare Blitz
– Fake Out
– Parting Shot
– Throat Chop

The EV aim is from the idea of Liu Jian-ting (Sayha): to take one Sacred Sword hit from a Zacian with an Attack stat of 333.

As for the other points, there is no specific aim, so I adjusted them for the following reasons. A faster Fake Out or Throat Chop (to block Parting Shot) than rival Incineroar, so several points to Speed; several points to Attack to increase some damage for a possible Incineroar Dynamax; and the rest to Special Defense.

Defensive calcs

Zacian-Crowned +1 252 Atk Zacian-Crowned Sacred Sword vs. 244 HP / 92+ Def Incineroar: 170-200 (84.5 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO


Landorus (M) @ Life Orb
Ability: Sheer Force
Level: 50 EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Naive Nature
– Earth Power
– Stone Edge
– Grass Knot
– Protect

My counter-measure towards Sun teams, and also the toughest choice for me. I first considered its Sand Force Ability, because Incarnate Landorus has poor defenses to be a Dynamax choice for me, while also, facing Incineroar everywhere, its Intimidate was too painful for physical Pokémon; so Sheer Force with Earth Power is still my best choice against it.

The only purpose for the Rock-type move is slaying Charizard; Rock Slide or Stone Edge should be both fine, though my final choice was Stone Edge. When facing Gigantamax Charizard, an Astral Barrage + Rock Slide combo can take Charizard away; But if I take an Intimidate from Incineroar, the Astral Barrage + Stone Edge combo still has a high chance to take it down in one turn (although the accuracy is another issue).

The third move I chose was Grass Knot. Although it cannot be boosted by Sheer Force, it still gives decent damage to Gastrodon, Groudon, and Kyogre. However, after the tournament, I think Fly might be better, because I still Dynamaxed Landorus in several games, and Max Airstream for speed control might be a better move to deal with more situations.

Offensive calcs

charizard-gmax
0 Atk Life Orb Sheer Force Landorus Rock Slide vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Charizard: 213-255 (138.3 – 165.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
-1 0 Atk Life Orb Landorus Stone Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Gigantamaxed Charizard-Gmax: 198-234 (64.2 – 75.9%)

Defensive calcs
calyrex-shadow-rider 252 SpA Calyrex-Shadow Astral Barrage vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Gigantamaxed Charizard-Gmax: 105-124 (34 – 40.2%)

How to use the team

Basic rules

  • If the opponent has Tailwind, Regieleki won’t be selected in the game. Even if you are forced to pick Regieleki, it won’t stand as a lead.
  • You need to consider Shadow Rider Calyrex + Incineroar or Dialga leads to weaken your oppponent. The most ideal situation is seeing your opponent Dynamax first, but making them have poor results in taking out your Pokémon.
  • Azumarill and Incineroar are switching choices to slow the game pace, they don’t work as damage dealers unless they can move first.
  • Regieleki and Landorus are counter-measures to deal with specific teams, so they are not selected as commonly as others.

Basic rules

ArchetypePokémon to bring as lead

Zacian + Kyogre teams

zacian-crownedkyogre
dialga + (calyrex-shadow-rider/Azumarill/incineroar)

Common Zacian + Kyogre teams have dual Dark-type Pokémon (Incineroar and Grimmsnarl). If you’re confident they would choose this lead, you can pick Incineroar + Dialga to deal some damage. Sometimes, if they choose Kyogre as the lead, your Incineroar would be in a very painful position (even Assault Vest Azumarill takes huge damage from Max Geyser in Rain, and would have merely an Aqua Jet chance in the next turn).

To avoid this kind of situation, I usually pick Calyrex + Dialga as my lead. One is to use Snarl to weaken Kyogre, and also let Dialga take down Grimmsnarl. Another lead would be Dialga + Azumarill, since no matter Kyogre or double Dark-type leads, you still have the type advantage to deal decent damage to them.

Details to consider:

– Who is faster? Your Dialga or their Kyogre?
If Kyogre might use Water Spout in its full HP, do not hesitate to Dynamax your Dialga, you won’t want Dialga to take too much damage.

– What is the item on Kyogre?
If the Kyogre is holding an Assault Vest, your Dialga’s damage would be definitely insufficient. Thus, my game plan would be wasting Kyogre’s Dynamax, and let my Regieleki take the last hit. To deal with Zacian, you still have to use your Incineroar. The last picks would be Calyrex and Azumarill.

“Rinya Sun”

zacian-crownedgroudonincineroargastrodon-eastgrimmsnarlcharizard
 
calyrex-shadow-rider+landorus

The safest lead would be Calyrex + Landorus. Most of the time, you cannot ignore the consequences if you face a Groudon + Charizard lead. In this case, Incineroar and Dialga would be in the back.

Details to consider:

– What is Grimmsnarl’s speed-control move?
If you face Grimmsnarl + Charizard leads, you might get Tricked with an Iron Ball or slowed down by Scary Face. I’d choose to Max Rockfall + Astral Barrage to defeat Charizard.

– It would be a huge pain if Charizard is not in their lead!
Take Grimmsnarl down to stop it bothering you, and take the speed priority in control. You can also waste out their sunny turns.

Ice Rider Calyrex + Palkia teams

calyrex-ice-riderpalkia
calyrex-shadow-rider+Dialga

Calyrex + Dialga as the lead, with Incineroar and Azumarill in the back. Because of your Safety Goggles, it won’t be difficult to stop your opponent’s Trick Room. If you see Palkia and Amoonguss as their lead, just Astral Barrage + Max Wyrmwind.

If they have Porygon2 and Female Indeedee on the field, then preserve your Dynamax, just give some damage and let Calyrex use Snarl. The whole point is to let your opponent give up the thought to Dynamaxing Palkia. If their Calyrex didn’t gain any buffs, your win chances would be high.

Details to consider:

– When they have Porygon2, your Dynamax choice would be Azumarill.
Dialga with Safety Goggles is immune to Sleep Powder, but if your teammates are all asleep, your total damage would be insufficient, which would give your opponent chances to win.

– Match-ups with Tapu Fini would be troublesome.
You have to stop your Max Wyrmwind plan, and be patient to give minor damage to wait for Dynamax chances.

Zacian + Yveltal teams

zacian-crownedyveltal
calyrex-shadow-rider+incineroar

The reason for not choosing Regieleki is because Zacian + Yveltal teams mostly come with Electric-type counter-measures, such as Gastrodon, Landorus, Raichu…, making Regieleki difficult to do its work.

If Calyrex faces Yveltal, just use Snarl + Parting Shot from Incineroar, so that your Dialga can be ready to use Trick Room in the next turn. If you face Landorus, use Will-o-Wisp + Parting Shot, also for the preparation of Dialga’s Trick Room.

The most ideal scenario is having both Dialga and Azumarill on the field during Trick Room, then you can have your free damage outputs.

What is most crucial in this match is using Calyrex’s Focus Sash to create chances by its nerfing moves, and not to run away even when facing double Dark-type threats on the field. They both have to hit Calyrex to take you down in one turn, so your Incineroar either completes its mission without taking damage, or takes some damage but pressures more the opponent as Calyrex is still on the field for another nerfing move. (Still, look out for Neil Patel’s team, in which Grimmsnarl has both Fake Out and Throat Chop, it would make your strategy fail!)

Zacian + Shadow Rider Calyrex teams

zacian-crownedcalyrex-shadow-rider
regieleki+calyrex-shadow-rider

If they lead Regieleki, either you deal with a speed tie, or just play switch games with your Incineroar to seek the chance to Dynamax. If they lead with Thundurus, you have to guess if it holds an Assault Vest. Many Assault Vest Thundurus have some bulk investment, so Max Lightning + Astral Barrage would not be a guaranteed KO. But to take Zacian away is definitely enough… So it is just mind game time.

Details to consider:

 – They usually have Blastoise in their team!
Your Calyrex’s Unnerve can make Blastoise ignore its possible Wacan Berry, and take it down with Max Lightning + Astral Barrage.

 – Don’t let your Regieleki and Calyrex lose HP too fast!
They might have Rillaboom in the back. You’d give them a chance to let it be a happy slayer.

Tournament run

This was my run at Taichung Regionals!

Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R1WWTWN
Hung Kai-lun
(凱倫)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarferrothorngrimmsnarlzapdos

You can watch my Round 1 match in streaming here, starting from 43:20!

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
R2WWTWN
Chang Yi-hsiang
(張奕祥)
zacian-crownedkyogreincineroarrillaboomgrimmsnarlzapdos
R3WLWTWN
Liang Chih-chun
(梁智鈞)
zacian-crownedkyogreporygon2rillaboomgrimmsnarlzapdos
R4LLTWN
Chiang Yi-hsien
(江奕賢)
zacian-crownedgroudonincineroargastrodoncharizardthundurus
R5WWTWN
Lai Yi-tsun
(賴奕存)
calyrex-ice-riderkyogreincineroaramoongussdusclopsgastrodon
R6WLLTWN
Pai Yu-ping
(White)
reshiramgroudonincineroargastrodon-eastwhimsicottthundurus

Top cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s team
Top 16WLWTWN
Wang Yi-liang
(小Yee)
zacian-crownedcalyrex-shadow-riderincineroarrillaboomblastoisethundurus
Top 8WWTWN
Pai Yu-ping
(White)
reshiramgroudonincineroargastrodon-eastwhimsicottthundurus
Top 4LWLTWN
Tsai Chien-chien
(芊芊)
zacian-crownedgroudonincineroargastrodon-eastgrimmsnarlcharizard

Conclusion

Using Dialga to get to top 4  in Taichung Regionals was an amazing experience for me. I knew that Sun was very strong, but I didn’t want to give up building a different team, hoping to showcase the strength of some less common Pokémon.

It has been a long way, but this has been my motivation to play Pokémon VGC. Thanks to my friends who discuss with me, and those players who create inventive teams leading the meta.

I hope this team can bring you some inspiration, and see you in future tournaments!

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