A Sunny Day in Chilly Vancouver — Team Report from the Vancouver Regional Champion

Hi, everyone! The name’s Abdullah Mohayyuddin, also known as sempra. I’m a 17-year-old VGC player based in Canada, and if you’ve heard my name before it was likely through online tours or draft leagues. I was a purely online player before Vancouver, and I’m so happy I got to experience the real-life circuit. I’ve been playing VGC for about 10 months and I’ve watched the game for about twice as long. I’m so excited to share my thoughts on the team I brought to win Vancouver 2023!

Before I begin, I want to give a giant shoutout to Nick Navarre (Nails), who was the original creator of the team. His team report is public and I urge anyone considering running this team to first check his report out on Adi Subramanian’s (ck49YouTube channel:

Table of Contents


Coming into Regulation Set B, I felt very uncertain about the format. I had just come off an impressive 2 months in Regulation Set A with high placements in both online tours and draft tournaments with dozens of different teams, but in Regulation Set B nothing was sticking. I felt very lost as I bounced around so many archetypes. Just weeks before Vancouver, I was confident I would bring one of Talonflame + Great Tusk (either Emilio Forbes‘s version or Yotam Cohen, Toler Webb & Justin Carris‘s version), Volcarona set-up (Kyle Livinghouse’s team), or Palafin balance cores. The reality was, I felt awful on everything.

Great TuskMausholdTorkoalIron BundleFlutter ManeDragonite

That’s when Calvin Foster (calvonix) reached out to me. In his preparation for Perth, he sent me what would be pretty much his exact paste a week before the tour. Looking at the team, I didn’t quite understand it, it felt odd putting Torkoal on what was such a fast and offensive team. After his great placement, this style of team was on my radar, but it took Knoxville to realize that this was the team. I also want to take this section to apologize to Calvin. On stream I called his team trash when what I meant to say was that I didn’t initially understand it but I would later come to find out the true strength of Torkoal; I was just so overwhelmed after the Regional to process what I was saying… oops.

Great TuskLilligantTorkoalKingambitFlutter ManeDragonite

Nails had come off an amazing placement in Knoxville, even through a tough time. It was just a couple days before Vancouver, and at this point I was so confused on what I would bring I decided to give it a spin. It took a day of laddering to realize Nick had created something amazing. The team was constructed masterfully and after watching his report on Adi’s channel, I was locked in. This team had the perfect combination of exactly what I wanted in my previous teams: hyper offense to make the offensive reads I preferred over defensive ones, an unbreakable backbone of Dragonite and Kingambit that turned this team from frail to a tank, and, the best part, set up was literally unneeded as Torkoal set up the whole team just by existing. It was perfect.

I now guide you to the video where Nick goes into incredible detail on the team. It would be disingenuous to give anything but thoughts on the team since Nails has done such an amazing job on talking about his process of building already. I made three hilariously tiny changes:

  1. Power Gem > Icy Wind on Flutter Mane. This helped with the small Arcanine issue the team has, as well as constantly pressuring Volcarona teams. This change would help me win finals as my opponent was pressured to Terastallize his Arcanine, letting me get the KO with a predicted Moonblast. I honestly don’t think either is better or worse, it just depends on how you play.
  2. I added one point of Speed on Dragonite. I couldn’t tell you if this made a difference, but after seeing so many Dragonite with 60 Speed EVs, there’s a chance.
  3. Steel Tera Type > Ground Tera Type on Great Tusk. This is the change I’m most proud of, as it helps you most importantly with the Talonflame + Tyranitar matchup, as Steel-Tera Type Great Tusk essentially walls these two Pokémon. This Tera Type can also save end games vs Booster Energy Iron Bundle and Flutter Mane who get a Speed boost from your own Sun.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Breakthrough (Torkoal) @ Charcoal
Ability: Drought
Tera Type: Fire
EVs: 252 HP / 252 SpA / 4 SpD
Quiet Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Eruption
– Flamethrower
– Earth Power
– Protect

The heart and soul of this team. Torkoal of course sets up the Sun for the rest of the team with its Drought. This Torkoal is very standard: Fire Tera Type-boosted Eruption does disgusting damage even to resisted hits, and the turtle is quite resilient, surviving so many neutral and super effective attacks.

Torkoal on this team is very special compared to many teams of this style, taking up its very own slot as an incredibly powerful special attacker. This Torkoal works in conjunction with Lilligant to blow up teams on its own, and with other Pokémon such as Flutter Mane to threaten 150 base power Eruptions if you don’t respect it.

TT (Lilligant) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Chlorophyll
Tera Type: Ghost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sleep Powder
– Leaf Storm
– After You
– Protect

Lilligant: the queen herself. Lilligant is so unbelievably powerful and disrespected that a whole team report can be made on her on its own. Lilligant was an unbelievably smart call Nails made as many teams just don’t have a matchup into it. Lilligant is deceivingly powerful too, outspeeding and KO’ing Booster Energy Iron Bundle even at -2.

I’d like to reference Nails’s report where he said that people had the uninformed belief that Lilligant + Torkoal required reads and predictions to play properly, and as the second person to say it, this could not be so hilariously far from the truth. After You + Eruption go brrr.

Funny enough, you don’t even have to click Sleep Powder to win, I used it 8 times in all 17 rounds with 5 being the singular set on the top 4 streamed match.

Offensive calcs

Iron Bundle -2 252 SpA Lilligant Leaf Storm vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Iron Bundle: 150-176 (114.5 – 134.3%) — guaranteed OHKO

FANCY (Flutter Mane) @ Choice Specs
Ability: Protosynthesis
Tera Type: Fairy
EVs: 20 HP / 84 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Shadow Ball
– Power Gem

The GOAT. The Muhammad Ali of ‘Mons, the Jordan of ‘Mons, the Serena Williams of ‘Mons. This Pokémon is the most broken Pokémon in the entire format and I refuse to play a team without this thing. Flutter Mane is just disgusting on this team, the option to nuke with Fairy Tera Type-, Choice Specs- and Protosynthesis-boosted Moonblasts is just not fair. If you’re running this team, I would recommend looking at calcs specifically for that nuke, the amount of people that don’t know these calcs brings tears to my eyes as I OHKO their Garganacl.

Offensive calcs

Garganacl 196+ SpA Choice Specs Protosynthesis Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 116+ SpD Garganacl: 202-238 (97.5 – 114.9%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

Baxcalibur 196+ SpA Choice Specs Protosynthesis Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Tera-Ground Baxcalibur: 260-308 (117.1 – 138.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Roaring Moon 196+ SpA Choice Specs Protosynthesis Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Tera-Flying Roaring Moon: 228-270 (107.5 – 127.3%) — guaranteed OHKO

Trouble (Great Tusk) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Protosynthesis
Tera Type: Steel
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Headlong Rush
– Earthquake
– Close Combat
– Rock Slide

Great Tusk is such a strong end-game Pokémon, and Choice Scarf + built-in “Life Orb” is just ridiculous. There were very few games I didn’t bring this Pokémon and it served me so well as a ridiculous nuke as well as a very underrated switch-in. I felt very comfortable with eating physical hits, even super effective ones, and this Pokémon would retaliate with OHKO’s on so many neutral hits. Jolly allows it to outspeed even fast Tyranitar in Tailwind as well as Baxcalibur on Joji Kaieda & Rinya Kobayashi‘s “Rinya Monsters” team.

Espresso (Dragonite) @ Lum Berry
Ability: Multiscale
Tera Type: Flying
EVs: 180 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 68 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Tera Blast
– Ice Spinner
– Extreme Speed
– Protect

Dragonite is so incredibly strong and with Multiscale you eat 4-times effective Ice-type moves like it’s no one’s business. I still can’t believe people don’t see the strength of this Pokémon as it boasts one of the highest Day 2 turnouts of any Pokémon this generation. Flying-Tera Type Tera Blast, being a STAB of 2 off a max Attack thanks to Terastallization, means you absorb hits with Multiscale and then chuuunk threats.

Dragonite is irreplaceable in my opinion as many people have asked. The combination of Extreme Speed, its terrain countering and Multiscale is so solid off a decently fast Pokémon. I also preferred Protect over Tailwind as did Nails, as your Lilligant + Torkoal core being the only two Pokémon with Protect can make matchups very difficult, much more than the niche situations getting Tailwind up helps.

HOT (Kingambit) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Defiant
Tera Type: Fire
EVs: 252 HP / 196 Atk / 4 Def / 52 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Kowtow Cleave
– Sucker Punch
– Iron Head
– Tera Blast

I was so surprised as to how strong this Pokémon is. Kingambit fills so many roles on this team that it comes to so many matchups. Kingambit is your designated Arcanine check, Armarouge check, Tailwind check, Trick Room check, etc.

Kingambit’s Fire Tera Type, another brilliant call by Nails, allows you to effectively wall much of the hard Trick Room core, as well as making your opponent double guess using Will-o-Wisp on it. Fire Tera Type is so strong as Kingambit survives Headlong Rush from Great Tusk, so there are situations I’d even Terastallize there. (Do note that this is without Protosynthesis boost: make sure you don’t screw up your own calcs by forgetting the boosts on the opponents team!)

How to use the team

Common leads

I had three common leads that I used in around 90% of the games I played.

Common leadsComments
Lilligant  +  Torkoal
Lilligant + Torkoal needs no intro. This style of playing is the core of this team. After You + Eruption, Sleep Powder, setting up Sun for your Sun abusers, the whole 9 yards. This lead is the team in a nutshell.
Flutter Mane  +  Torkoal
Flutter Mane + Torkoal is the core that truly drew me to this type of team. Fairy Tera Type-boosted Moonblast is a nuke, OHKOing Water-Tera Type Baxcalibur, Flying-Tera Type Roaring Moon, and even having a favourable roll at OHKOing some Garganacl. This core works so well together because very few Pokémon can OHKO Flutter Mane, forcing your opponent to double it while also taking a huge Eruption from a full-HP Torkoal. This mode has very few checks and, along with Lilligant + Torkoal, this can make for an unwinnable switch-up.
Dragonite  +  Kingambit/Great Tusk
Immovable object
The defensive core of Dragonite + either Kingambit or Great Tusk is unbreakable for so many teams. This core generally works to stall means of speed control, such as Tailwind and Trick Room, preserving the frailer Pokémon in the back to clean up. I brought this core just as much as I brought Lilligant + Torkoal, and this is probably the least expected core on team selection. Your opponents are usually leading something to play around Lilligant + Torkoal and leading this tank core completely throws off their positioning and game plan.

Common matchups

Now, this is how to play against some common matchups.

Iron HandsTorkoalArmarougeIndeedee FemaleHatterene
Trick Room teams
  • Option 1: Lead Dragonite + Kingambit, with Torkoal and Flutter Mane in the back
  • Option 2: Lead Dragonite + Flutter Mane, with Torkoal and Kingambit in the back

Trick Room is a very favourable matchup for this team. In general, Dragonite + Fire-Tera Type Kingambit is unbreakable. You can Ice Spinner away the Psychic Terrain, are slower than Armarouge with Kingambit, and the double priority haunts Torkoal who is already doing no damage to the Multiscale Dragon type and Assault Vest Fire type. Of course, Torkoal goes crazy under their Trick Room, but it’s much harder to position it correctly.

The major tips I can give in this matchup is to lead Dragonite + Flutter Mane on mix-ups as this counters very likely counterplay, such as Hatterene leads, Iron Hands leads, and more. Also, if Indeedee is not on the field, try your best to not use priority if you can because Trick Room players love catching you using priority on the Indeedee switch. Sometimes Trick Room players rely on this common misplay to steal the win. Always use regular priority if you can afford it.

Tailwind Talonflame teams
  • Lead Dragonite + Great Tusk, with Kingambit and Flutter Mane in the back

Tailwind is definitely a weaker matchup for this team. Thankfully priority Tailwind is on a decline, but the still common Talonflame + Tyranitar core can prove to be miserable if you don’t play it right. Generally the gameplan is to stall with Dragonite + another Pokémon, while setting up Flutter Mane to clean. These teams generally have a weakness to Flutter Mane, so preserving that is very strong. Saving Terastallization for Great Tusk is also a very strong play, as very few members of this core can break Choice Scarf Steel-Tera Type Great Tusk.

The Dragonite + Great Tusk lead threatens Extreme Speed + Rock Slide onto Talonflame turn 1. If the lead is unfavourable, swap Great Tusk into Kingambit and go from there. Watch below my Game 1 battle vs Collin Heier to see this play out perfectly!

Palafin balance teams
  • Lead Torkoal + Flutter Mane, with Great Tusk and either Dragonite or Kingambit in the back

This is a matchup that this team excels in. Simply put, abusing the fact that Palafin needs to swap turn 1 makes this matchup so, so favourable. You can normally lead Torkoal + Flutter Mane, use Eruption + Fairy Tera Type-boosted Dazzling Gleam, and pick up 1 or 2 knockouts. The Sun makes Palafin nearly useless, and the general core of these types of teams happen to be weak to Flutter Mane. This is where knowing your Fairy Tera Type- and Protosynthesis-boosted Moonblast calcs is useful, as knowing that you can just nuke a slot is extremely helpful.

Common threats

The following are some tough Pokémon or archetypes to play against.

Flutter Mane
Focus Sash Flutter Mane

The combination of Focus Sash and the fact that these Pokémon get Speed boosts under your own Sun can prove deadly. A well-positioned Flutter Mane will sweep, and nukes don’t work as they’ll live with Focus Sash.

  • Counterplay: Play around Kingambit. Kingambit takes very little from even Fairy Tera Type-boosted Moonblast on these Flutter Mane. Flutter Mane’s Speed doesn’t matter when priority Sucker Punch is haunting it every turn.
Iron Bundle
Booster Energy Iron Bundle

In general, most players will save this Pokémon till the end of the game. A properly positioned Booster Energy Iron Bundle can be a nightmare, and smarter players will leverage Sun turns and the need for you to Terastallize your leads to sweep with a late-game Iron Bundle.

  • Counterplay: Use Terastallization extremely wisely. The majority of the team loves to offensively Terastallize, but this is the matchup where every Terastallization needs to be thought through multiple turns ahead. Consider your defensive options vs this Pokémon and use them in abundance.

This Pokémon will give you trouble, and you need to keep it in mind. “I’m gonna Close Combat it” is not enough of a game plan, you have to fully invest every turn into saving counterplay for it for later, predicting turns it’ll come out, and using Terastallization conservatively. Tyranitar will mess up your entire game plan if you don’t respect it.

  • Counterplay: Respect it. Don’t lead Lilligant + Torkoal turn 1, and play turns conservatively, as if Tyranitar can come in at any point. If your opponent has Tyranitar on their team sheet, expect it. You have checks and nukes into it such as Great Tusk and Flutter Mane, but Tyranitar puts much of the Sun operation to a pause and, as such, you need to give it the respect it deserves.

Arcanine, especially with Safety Goggles, will sit in your own Sun and OHKO your entire team with Flare Blitz. An unchecked Arcanine can be your biggest enemy and can sit pretty in front of much of your team. You need to dedicate resources and time into taking out Arcanine, because, if you lead badly, this team hates switching out, especially for Arcanine who doesn’t have many switch-ins to begin with.

  • Counterplay: Leverage around your opponents’ hesitance to lead Arcanine. Kingambit getting +1 is a bigger issue for them than an Arcanine will ever be for you. The chance they lead Arcanine is rare, but if they do, capitalize off it. Kingambit with Fire Tera Type is a very strong counter to Arcanine, and if you catch them at +1, you will KO the Arcanine with Kowtow Cleave after Flare Blitz recoil off of someone like your own Flutter Mane. (Make sure Sun isn’t up or you’ll lower your Flutter Mane!)

Tournament run

This was my run at Vancouver Regionals!

Day 1 Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
Noah Ridgway
AbomasnowGlimmoraArmarougeBaxcaliburSableyeRoaring Moon
Sean Wen
Iron HandsAmoongussArcanineGothitelleFlutter ManeRoaring Moon
Jing Zhou
Great TuskAmoongussTalonflameIron BundleFlutter ManeTyranitar
Ata Makhdoom
Iron HandsArmarougeTorkoalIndeedee FemaleFlutter ManeRoaring Moon
Galo Orbea
Iron HandsAmoongussArcaninePalafinFlutter ManeRoaring Moon
Collin Heier
Great TuskTorkoalTalonflameIron BundleFlutter ManeTyranitar
Gavin Michaels
Iron HandsBrute BonnetVolcaronaAzumarillMimikyuPelipper
Logan Mazur
Iron HandsBrute BonnetTorkoalIndeedee FemaleFlutter ManeArmarouge
Shreyas Radhakrishna
Iron HandsAmoongussArmarougeIndeedee FemaleFlutter ManeKingambit

I was 18-1 in games at this point. I had dinner at a friend’s place and left my group some matchups to look at. I woke up the next day and talked to some friends about more matchups, and I felt confident.

Day 2 Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
Aaron Zheng
Great TuskBrute BonnetTalonflameIron BundleFlutter ManeBaxcalibur
Ryan Loseto
Great TuskKingambitArcanineIron BundleFlutter ManeCorviknight
Neil Patel
Great TuskGlimmoraTatsugiri CurlyIron BundleDondozoDragonite
Dylan Salvanera
Sandy ShocksAmoongussTauros Paldea BlazeIron BundleBaxcaliburRoaring Moon
Gavin Michaels
Iron HandsBrute BonnetVolcaronaAzumarillMimikyuPelipper

I finished Swiss 12-2 and locked in #1 seed. Every single one of my opponents made cut, and I played all 3 of the eventual top 4. Cut would prove to be my biggest test, as I would play one of the two top 8 I hadn’t yet played.

Top Cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
Demitrios Kaguras
Great TuskAmoongussTalonflameIron BundleFlutter ManeTyranitar
Dylan Salvanera
Sandy ShocksAmoongussTauros Paldea BlazeIron BundleBaxcaliburRoaring Moon
Ryan Loseto
Great TuskKingambitArcanineIron BundleFlutter ManeCorviknight

Tips for newer players

Before finishing, I wanted to give some tips for those that will have their first tournament experience soon!

  • EAT. You will get anxious and live off adrenaline for a long time. Eat as much as you can. If you get time between rounds and you’re hungry, grab a snack. Eat well during lunch break, and eat a good breakfast. You will literally forget to eat, trust me. On Day 2, I was too excited to eat breakfast, forgot to grab a snack on the way to the venue, and fueled myself off adrenaline between rounds. I was STARVING in top cut and it was definitely an unhealthy way to go about it. Bring as much food as you can and bring money to spend on food, you will not regret it.
  • DRINK. Bring a water bottle and fill up between rounds. You will get a migraine spending 9 rounds staring at a tiny screen without water. Water will put your mind at ease and settle your head. Water doesn’t have the crash sodas do, and you literally cannot afford a crash when you’re playing 12 hours of Pokémon. Dehydration and headaches will kill your run.
  • SLEEP. To complete the trifecta, I want you to repeat after me: playing 3 more ladder games isn’t gonna do you nearly as good as an hour of sleep will. I want you to take the perfect amount of sleep you need, and go to bed an hour earlier. You will not be able to fall asleep thinking about Pokémon.
    In general, a good tip I can give is to relax the day before. Hang out with friends, eat some good food and hit the sack early. You will burn yourself out stressing about Pokémon the night before. Get some warm-up if you haven’t, but don’t overplay the game. You are about to play 12 hours of Pokémon into another 8 hours, you can afford to relax the day before. Obviously this information depends on who you are as a player, some people need that day to lock in and play 18 hours of Pokémon, and if it works it works. All I’m saying is, for most people, you need that day to rest your mind.

And finally, regarding the competitive aspect of the weekend:

  • BE RESPECTFUL. This isn’t just the obvious stuff, everyone knows not to be plain rude, but try your best to avoid things like groaning and complaining. Things happen, you need to be able to vent out that frustration to people who should be hearing that. Everyone has a support group, but your opponent didn’t sign up to be on it. Take into account other things such as being careful with your opponent’s possessions: be careful with their team sheet, ask before you touch their plushes and make sure your hands are clean before you shake hands and exchange things. Don’t pop off in front of them if you can help it, and definitely don’t make comments suggesting that you got unlucky or that they got lucky. We all signed up to play this game and these things happen.
  • TREAT EVERY OPPONENT EQUALLY. This is also related about how to play stronger players, the biggest thing I can tell you is to treat them like regular players. Follow your flow charts, play your best, and forget who’s in front of you. Exude confidence, the biggest tip I can give is to save your comments until after the game, even if they’re positive. Say “good luck”, play out your match, and then let them know you watch their content or are a fan of their play. If you must let them know before the game, please don’t tell them backhanded compliments along the lines of “my run was going so well” or “I’m gonna lose”. Firstly it gets awkward, there isn’t a response to this comment that feels natural, and secondly you make them feel bad for losing. These players are humans at the end of the day, there are better ways to let them know you look up to them.
  • I MADE DAY 2… NOW WHAT? Now you’ve made Day 2, what’s next? Teams will be published shortly. Get a bite to eat and relax for a bit before making your way to bed. Checking out the Day 2 teams, especially players at your record, is a smart decision, but don’t let it interfere with sleep. Discuss harder matchups with friends or pass them off to them while you take your needed 8 hours. Wake up early, check your matchups again, and have a great day at the venue!

Closing words

That’s my story on how I won Vancouver! I’m so happy I had such an amazing experience at my first regional. I’m so happy I got to meet such amazing people and have such a good time.

I want to give a shoutout to everyone who supported me. The messages I read and received made my day every time I read them. The support even after I was guaranteed Day 2 was so positively overwhelming.

  • I want to thank Joseph Ugarte (JoeUX9), Navjit Joshi (NJ11), and Luca Paz for all being supportive and helping me with Pokémon-related things, but especially for making my weekend so amazing and hanging out with me, as well as Team Canada for being so kind to me during the weekend.
  • I want to thank my close teambuilding group of Sven van der Voorden (Sven), Paschalis Dermentzis (PasDer), Giovanni Cischke (PqlarBear), Yotam Cohen (yotam), and Violet for supporting my decisions (even if some of you didn’t trust in queen Lilligant).
  • I want to thank Alex Arand (Azulite) for being the member of the community who guided me from my very first weeks of VGC till now, as well as everyone on the Kyoto Kingambits and Cruisers for being so helpful and some of my first experiences in high-level VGC.
  • I want to thank the now Charlotte Mikes for their support, as well as everyone in the VGC Trainers School. Huge shoutouts to Alexis Esparza (bat) and Shinobi for allowing me to spam your DMs with random information about my team, thank you for always listening.
  • Thank you to Antonio Sánchez (Rahxen) and Enosh Shachar (Human) for being so supportive and discussing matchups with me.
  • Shoutout to Calvin Foster (calvonix) for being my introduction to Sun and helping me with matchups and just being someone I could ask questions to.
  • Finally, a giant shoutout to Nick Navarre (Nails). He’s the creator of the team, but was also someone who was so kind and supportive throughout my run. I didn’t know Nails at all before Vancouver, but he reached out first and listened to all the questions I had, creating a support group where he helped with my entire playoffs gameplans. I’m so glad I got to know him.

Thank you so much to everyone!

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