Thunder from Down Under — Team Report from the Sydney Regional Champion

Hello, there! My name is Liam Gilbert, or as most people better refer to me as, Gilbo! I am a 21-year-old Australian VGC player from Sydney, and I have been playing competitive Pokémon since 2015.

As a bit of background, my own personal achievements involve a mixture of both Seniors and Masters division play. In Seniors, I came top 8 at Sydney Regionals in 2015, and then 2nd place in the following year, while also getting top 16 at the Australian Nationals in both years. From 2017 onwards, I was considered a Master Division player, and ended up coming 1st at the Sydney Regionals in 2017, 2nd place at Brisbane Regionals in 2018, 5th place at OCIC 2019, top 16 at Sydney Regionals in 2019, 3rd place at Melbourne Regionals in 2022, and now 1st place at my hometown Sydney once again!

Aside from my own achievements, I am also the proud brother and coach of my younger siblings Jack, Andrew, and James, who have all been playing VGC since the Junior Division for the past 8 years, and their achievements, individually and as a whole, trump mine in comparison.

Enough about me!! I think it’s time to jump into why you’re reading this article, which is to see what the first Regulation Set C tournament was like, what to expect, and how you should potentially approach the metagame!

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

So first and foremost, Sydney Regionals this year was one of the largest tournaments in the Southern Hemisphere, sitting at 189 players competing. I would be reminisced to see the Regional being discounted because the numbers may not be as high compared to other Regionals across the world. However, this has been our biggest Regional event since 2016, I believe. The players I versed all weekend were phenomenal and insanely good, and they deserve credit amongst the general populace of players that showed up. Playing in a format that was only released on the Switch on the day of the Regional goes to show that everyone pushed forward and did the very best they could, which is all anyone can ask for!

Heading into the tournament, I did not have much practice with Regulation Set C at all, let alone VGC in general. The last tournament I played prior to Sydney Regionals was OCIC 2023, in which i finished top 64, and then never picked up my Switch or booted up Pokémon Showdown again.

Great TuskBrute BonnetTorkoalFarigirafGrimmsnarlGholdengo

Fast forward to like 10 days before the tournament, I totally forgot to get my younger brothers’ teams ready, because unlike me, they actually have a better chance of going to Worlds, and they had already both reached the Day 1 qualification threshold. So the genius I am, I try and do the most basic team possible for them.

Flutter ManeTatsugiriChi YuDondozoChien PaoDragonite

This was essentially a cop out team with how cookie cutter it was, or at least in the way I designed it. Both my younger brothers managed to use the team relatively well on such short time we had, especially with Andrew finishing 9th in Seniors, and James finishing top 4. Unfortunately, when I tried the team, I was not doing well with it. In fact, I was stuck in the 1100s on Pokémon Showdown with it. Not the best, am I right? So like most things in life when I start failing, I turned off Showdown and procrastinated fixing my team up until the very end.

Fast forward again to 3 days before the tournament, I totally forgot I was competing. I thought I was chaperoning my younger brothers again. I already paid the $35 entry, and being from Western Sydney, $35 is like a block of gold, so I couldn’t let it go to waste. So with this in mind, I hopped back on Showdown to teambuild, but I did a little bit of a time analysis of how well I could assemble my team in time, and unfortunately, factoring in work and Univeristy, I was definitely in the weeds. So I decided to try and adapt my OCIC team here and there.

I thought the Farigiraf on my team would be great against Dragonite’s Extreme Speed and Palafin’s Jet Punch, while Torkoal just deals insane amounts of damage. The only slight plot twist, is that I was still stuck in the 1100s on Pokémon Showdown!? Something was clearly not working, something was off. I tried adding all sorts of Pokémon to help the team out, like Weakness Policy Ting-Lu at one point, Assault Vest Ting-Lu, Leech Seed Wo-Chien… But none of those worked! I was definitely in trouble, but I knew I had to commit to something.

Through all my losses, I found that Dark types were more common due to the Treasures of Ruin Pokémon’s prevalence, so automatically, I knew I needed a Fighting type. But since Dark types are increasing in usage, then surely Fighting type usage goes up too, and what are both those types weak to? Fairy! So i knew I needed a Fairy type of some sort, hence the Flutter Mane.

Flutter Mane

I considered Great Tusk as a great Fighting type, but its low Special Defense hinders it too much to be a source of damage and defense. I considered Breloom, because Mach Punch could hit Chien-Pao very easily, and Spore would be incredibly versatile to have, but ultimately I went with the Iron Hands. I then started testing Assault Vest Iron Hands with Trick Room, but the damage output was so low, especially after being Intimidated, it just was not being optimised to its fullest potential. Then I remembered some bloke on Showdown a while back was running a Fire-Tera Type set with Swords Dance in a Showdown tournament. He got completely destroyed, but the set in theory sounded way too good to disregard. And at this stage of teambuilding being so close to the tournament, I was banking on my theory working in practice. So yeah, I decided bulky Swords Dance Iron Hands was the play with the team!

Flutter ManeIron Hands

Then I needed to add Pokémon to set up Swords Dance, like a form of redirection, which I considered Maushold for initially, but Amoonguss worked out to be better. I then began to add other pieces to the team like Chien-Pao to meet the Treasures of Ruin quota, despite it not being used most of my games. I added Palafin because I had a Shiny one lying around from an egg I hatched a while back, and it looks like an evil villain when it’s Shiny, plus the Haze on it was my Dondozo counter if i ever faced one… and who doesn’t like a Water type on their team too? The final Pokémon Gothitelle was the last-minute addition to the team, which I literally made on the night before the tournament, and is arguably one of the most fundamental Pokémon on the team.

Flutter ManeIron HandsAmoongussChien PaoPalafinGothitelle

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Iron Hands @ Safety Goggles
Ability: Quark Drive
Level: 50
Tera Type: Fire
EVs: 196 HP / 76 Atk / 4 Def / 228 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Swords Dance
– Drain Punch
– Wild Charge
– Protect

Behold and look at the monster that was the driving force behind my team! This Iron Hands set was so incredibly important in every single one of my games. In fact, I brought Iron Hands to every single game I played against all my opponents due to how incredible it was. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to give it a nickname in time, but if I did, I would call the lad Dave, because he sends all his enemies to the grave.

Regardless, this Iron Hands set was built to tank as much damage as possible, get a Swords Dance setup, and then hit back harder with a Drain Punch or Wild Charge. I do remember at one point in my Swiss games, that this Iron Hands tanked a super effective Choice Specs-boosted Dazzling Gleam, which goes to show how bulky it was.

Some Aussie VGC players know about how notorious I am when it comes to EV training, so in full transparency, I have no idea what these EVs accomplish. I just moved the knob up and down on Pokémon Showdown to find those juicy sweet spots. But this Iron Hands was definitely the MVP of my team without a doubt.

Flutter Mane @ Life Orb
Ability: Protosynthesis
Level: 50
Tera Type: Fairy
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
– Moonblast
– Shadow Ball
– Protect

Flutter Mane was kind of a standard pick I had to choose for this team. I required a Pokémon that could beat Fighting and Dark types, and what better to choose from, than a Flutter Mane? The sheer offensive pressure paired with the Life Orb just dealt so much damage. I did consider the Choice Specs, however, I didn’t like my lack of mobility and Protect with it, so I stuck with the Life Orb.

For those wondering, I did consider Perish Song over Moonblast or Dazzling Gleam, yes. But! The reason why I didn’t use Perish Song is because it’s a very passive play that is easily predictable within the team, and if you watched my stream games, I am most definitely not a passive player with this team.

I used standard EVs for this, because I am so incredibly lazy at EV training that I can’t be stuffed, especially at 1am in the morning before the tournament starts. So max Speed, max Special Attack.

Chien-Pao @ Focus Sash
Ability: Sword of Ruin
Level: 50
Tera Type: Dark
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Protect
– Ice Spinner
– Throat Chop
– Sacred Sword

There is no denying that the Treasures of Ruin offer good offensive and defensive pressure, but the reason I chose to use Chien-Pao was because of its Speed tier. I just needed a relatively fast Pokémon to help deal with other Flutter Mane, which is why I chose Chien-Pao despite the potential speed ties.

Many people have asked why I opted for Throat Chop over Sucker Punch, and that’s because I needed a more definitive way to attack Arcanine, and everyone is starting to invest into their Flutter Mane to live Sucker Punches, so it became kind of redundant. Unfortunately, I did not utilise Chien-Pao as much this weekend, just because it didn’t synergise as well with the team, and because my Iron Hands was too much of a monster.

I also EV trained it the same as the Flutter Mane, except max Attack instead of Special Attack. EV training takes too long, and everytime I do, I get hungry. I had to put a Focus Sash on this Pokémon, since it was fairly frail and I did not want to keep losing it on my first turn of games like I did prior practicing on Showdown.

Sea World (Palafin) @ Mystic Water
Ability: Zero to Hero
Level: 50
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 76 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 172 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Jet Punch
– Wave Crash
– Haze
– Protect

Now that we’re halfway through the list of Pokémon I used, Palafin is one Pokémon on the team that worked and didn’t work too well. I would say 9 out of 10 times, I was only utilising Palafin for reckless plays like Helping Hand + Jet Punch into Flutter Mane to try and knock it out. I also mainly used the Palafin in Zero Form and not Hero Form for some odd reason, I’m just built different like that, I suppose.

Once again, I have no ideas what the EVs do. I think it was built for Regulation Set B living high amounts of special-attacking damage while dealing out as much damage as possible. Regardless of how the EVs turned out, the Palafin was still incredibly useful in my games, especially the Wave Crash and Jet Punch being nice sources of damage output. I chose to use Mystic Water because of its popularity and sheer damage output being insanely high.

Amoonguss @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Regenerator
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 252 HP / 100 Def / 156 SpD
Sassy Nature
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Pollen Puff
– Spore
– Protect
– Rage Powder

Amoonguss was a Pokémon added to the team primarily for redirection to help old mate Iron Hands out, but it also worked insanely well at healing Iron Hands and its buddies up to with Pollen Puff. I had no clue how amazing Pollen Puff was, to be honest, and it worked so tremendously well with the team.

My Amoongus EVs were kind of the basic stock standard. Max HP, enough Special Defense EVs to hit that little sweet spot, and the rest in Defense. If you ended up watching my stream prior, you can tell how dodgy these EVs ultimately were, as I barely lived a Dragonite’s Choice Band-boosted Extreme Speed, and it fainted to a regular Arcanine’s Flare Blitz that wasn’t even holding a Choice Band or boosted. So suffice to say, I should have definitely booted up the damage calculator for this one. The item was a Wiki Berry because Gothitelle has the Sitrus Berry, and it was the only other item I had on hand.

Gothitelle (F) @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Shadow Tag
Level: 50
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 252 HP / 100 Def / 156 SpD
Calm Nature
– Trick Room
– Fake Out
– Psychic
– Helping Hand

The final Pokémon of the team was indeed the Gothitelle, the notorious last-minute addition to tie everything together. As I stated in my round 3 interview, I did come up with this as I was cooking up a brisket at work. I had a moment of clarity as I was breathing in some wood pellets and thought, “Wait a sec, what if my opponent just can’t switch out their Pokémon, they can’t deal with my Iron Hands”, and then the second I got home, I pulled an old Gothitelle out, reset the EVs and went to town on it.

The idea was Fake Out with it so that Iron Hands could use Swords Dance, but I rarely even got to use that combination unfortunately. Trick room was also nice to have since it gave my Iron Hands and Amoonguss speed control, and I could reverse the opposing team’s Trick Room quite easily. Psychic was a must to have, I needed to hit Amoonguss hard, and I just needed some form of damage in case I got taunted. The final move was a throw up between Helping Hand and Protect, both of which would have been good, but I ultimately chose Helping Hand just so I could go for fast hyper-offensive plays to get fast knockouts, which I did a few times throughout all my matches.

The EVs I hate to say were just moved around with the Showdown knob. I’m not sure what the EVs do, but I ended up living like 9 Choice Specs-boosted Shadow Balls from Flutter Mane the entire weekend each and every time! I know, right? What an insanely awesome coincidence… The numbers agreed with me for once. But yes, this Gothitelle was absolutely insane, I love it so much.

How to use the team

For those wondering how to use the team, I would recommend testing and working around it first to kind of sus out what feels comfortable to you. My ideal plan was to Fake Out with Gothitelle + Swords Dance as mentioned above, but ultimately I went for plays such as Helping Hand + Moonblast, Helping Hand + Jet Punch, or Trick Room and offensive pressure. My aim for using the team was to definitely throw all my opponents off and hit them where it was unexpected, since my play style is very unorthodox sometimes. But to get things started, definitely try positioning yourself in Trick Room so your Iron Hands can be set up to sweep, since that was the key to all my game successes.

Tournament run

This was my run at Sydney Regionals!

Day 1 Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
David Posniak
(Ser Davos)
Flutter ManeMurkrowChi YuKingambitGreat TuskDragonite
Patrick Gregorowski
Flutter ManeIndeedee FemaleChi YuTalonflameChien PaoDragonite
Chamath Abeyawardana
Flutter ManeAmoongussArcanineChien PaoTing LuDragonite
Nicholas Kan
Flutter ManeAmoongussArcaninePalafinTing LuDragonite
Xiong Ziyue
Flutter ManeAmoongussArcaninePalafinChien PaoIron Hands
Emma Williams
Flutter ManeWo ChienChi YuGyaradosTing LuGlimmora
Alister Sandover
Flutter ManeWo ChienArcanineGlimmoraGreat TuskDragonite
Daniel Walker
Flutter ManeAmoongussChi YuIron BundleTauros Paldea AquaScizor

You can watch my Round 4 set versus Nicholas here!

Day 2 Top Cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
Alister Sandover
Flutter ManeWo ChienArcanineGlimmoraGreat TuskDragonite
Galvin Hui
Flutter ManeAmoongussArcanineAzumarillChien PaoDragonite
Sam Pandelis
Flutter ManeAmoongussArcaninePalafinTing LuRoaring Moon

You can watch my Top 4 match versus Galvin here!

And finally, you can watch my Finals match versus Sam here!

Closing words

Since Regulation Set C will be played all the way up until Worlds, I think it’s important that whatever you’re teambuilding with, you’re having fun with it. Take Daniel Walker for example. He put a Scizor on his team, which I absolutely loved to see, and kept on telling him during our match how cool it was to see it! Another example is Galvin Hui and his Azumarill. That Azumarill was so uncharacteristic, but was such a momentous threat in the end. In reality, there is no right or wrong to teambuilding and getting ready for tournaments. The best piece of advice I would give for teambuilding in Regulation Set C and just teambuilding in general, is to start small and build big.

What I mean by this, is to start with 2 cool Pokémon you like, or think are viable, and work around them. It could be Iron Hands and Bronzong, for example, and if your idea is to use Fake Out and set up Trick Room in some sort of way, start building around that idea, and adding Pokémon to the team to help reinforce your idea. It’s all about testing, experimenting, failing, and then redesigning to find success. And in a format like Regulation Set C, that demands the heavy use of Treasures of Ruin, really start to consider how you can use these Pokémon to synergise and work well with your team. Think about how you’re able to utilise the Abilities of these Pokémon, and how they can work well with other members of your team. If you don’t want to use the Treasures of Ruin, no worries at all, because you don’t actually need to use one if you don’t want to. It’s just an option you have in case you decide you want to pursue it with an idea you might have in mind!

Overall, I had an amazing time playing in this event. I was planning to retire soon from VGC as i’m ready to close the chapter on this book and move on soon, and there’s no better event to finish on a high, then my own local Regional event! I want to give an enormous shoutout to the entire Australian VGC community. We’re a very tight-knit community where everyone basically knows each other, or a friend of a friend at the very least. If you watched the stream, you would have seen the amazing commentary by Paul Amedee (Mastodon) and Henry Rich (Hobbit), who are not only talented at commentating, but are deeply rooted in the heart of the Australian VGC community, like many other Australians out there. I hope to attend Worlds this year, and I will do my very best for the rest of this year!

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