Hi, there! I’m Alessio Fuscà, aka NikyuAlex online, and I’m from Rome, Italy. I have been playing VGC in events since mid 2017 in my city and before the Turin Special Event. Despite having a bunch of very good results online, I always struggled to get any important results in official major tournaments.
My background is in fact almost completely based on online tournaments, with very few exceptions such as the top 32 at 2020 Bochum Regionals and 3 top 64 at 2019 EUIC in Berlin, at the 2020 DC Open and at the 2022 Milan Special Event in Assago. I also qualified twice for Worlds, in 2019 and in 2022, but both times with a very bad run. Even going very well in local tournaments, at the end of the day I always came out short in major ones.
What’s changed this time? In Pokémon VGC the most important thing it’s a mix between a good preparation before an event and a consistent run during it, but everything starts from a very good team. The so-called “call” or “meta call”, having the right team at the right moment, gives you a boost even before the start of the tournament, and basically I almost always had the wrong team in major tournaments. In this report I’d like to explain to you why my team was a great call for the Turin Special Event and why, this time, it worked so well.
Table of Contents
The Turin Special Event turned out to be a record-setting tournament in players attendance very quickly (speaking at least of Italian VGC events), with almost 600 players in the Master Division for the VGC. A lot of players means a lot of teams, and a lot of teams means that you have to be prepared for two things: probably you are going to face a lot of different teams; and the tournament will be very long and stressful. In these situations you need a team with multiple tools and, most importantly, multiple modes.
You of course want to take the situation easy, because, even though you have the open team list of your opponent, you don’t know a lot of things—you don’t know if certain Pokémon could outspeed yours, or if you are going to outspeed them instead. At the same time you don’t want to finish the rounds too tired, and in that case you need instant damage in order to change the pace of the game very quickly. I needed my team to be mixed and balanced, being able to go very fast and offensive but also slow and controlled, even during the same game. I didn’t have any team able to do so until two friends of mine, Dario Cozzo and Alessandro Lai, gave it to me. A team with a long story behind it that I will summarize phase by phase.
This team was born in March when the Regulation Set C was revealed. The first concept was a core of Dragapult + Chien-Pao + Ting-Lu, with the first two being the main lead and Ting-Lu as a consistent Pokémon able to support them, thanks to its Vessel of Ruin Ability. The main lead provides instant physical firepower with Choice Band Dragapult and Ice-Tera Type Chien-Pao, which had Icicle Crash instead of Ice Spinner to deal extra damage. Another cool pick on Chien-Pao was Ice Shard, different from Sucker Punch because you don’t need the target to attack you with an offensive move in order to use it, and being Chien-Pao faster than Talonflame you also have a useful tool to break Gale Wings from the start.
The team needed some special damage, being the main core built with only physical Pokémon, and that’s why Gholdengo entered the team. It’s a very good Pokémon to deal with the Arcanine + Amoonguss duo, thanks to its Water Tera Type, and it’s also good against the stall strategies thanks to the combination of Leftovers and Nasty Plot.
After a first phase with Flutter Mane as fifth slot, in order to have even more firepower in terms of special moves, the final pick in that slot was Amoonguss. It has a very good synergy with both Gholdengo and Ting-Lu, being able to heal them with Pollen Puff and redirecting threatening moves with Rage Powder. If the opponent’s Pokémon are not very offensive or simply not very effective against them, Amoonguss + Gholdengo can easily dominate the situation. My version of Amoonguss has Clear Smog, while Dario and Alessandro picked Protect instead. Probably there is not an undisputed truth for the fourth move of Amoonguss here, so feel free to pick what you prefer but, a little piece of advice: be very careful against Dondozo and other set-ups if you decide to play Protect.
Here comes the star of the team! The sixth slot is the one that had more changes since March. It first was Palafin (in multiple versions), then it became Gyarados after that I suggested it to Dario and Alessandro and the team improved. 1 or 2 weeks before Turin, though, they realized that Kingambit and Annihilape were becoming very popular, and the team struggled a lot against them. Looking at Malmö‘s top cut they realized that the Paldean Tauros Blaze Breed in Maurice Uteg‘s Top 4 team probably was a very good replacement for Gyarados, but after a little bit of testing they decided to turn it into the Aqua Breed one. Despite gaining a weakness against Flutter Mane, the Aqua Breed was much better against Fire-Tera Type Kingambit, it was much better against Fire-Tera Type Annihilape and most importantly it has a priority move in Aqua Jet. As I said during the interview after the top 8, I got more KOs with Aqua Jet than with Wave Crash or Close Combat during the Special Event. Tauros basically turned a pretty decent team into a tremendously good one, it has been the real MVP of my run.
Get the team’s paste here!
Dragapult @ Choice Band
Ability: Clear Body
Tera Type: Fire
EVs: 28 HP / 204 Atk / 12 Def / 44 SpD / 220 Spe
– Dragon Darts
– Phantom Force
– Tera Blast
Dragapult has had Dragon Tera Type for almost all the time, with U-turn over Tera Blast, but two weeks before Turin it became Fire Tera Type with Tera Blast instead. We wanted more coverage with our Dragapult but we didn’t like the Steel Tera Type, as it makes Dragapult always weak to the Chi-Yu + Flutter Mane lead (which is also very good in order to prevent our Gholdengo + Amoonguss). Having the Fire Tera Type opened the chance to lead Ting Lu + Dragapult in front of them and going for Dragon Darts + Heavy Slam on Flutter Mane. The opponent can only deal damage with one of them, because, if Chi-Yu and Flutter Mane both stay on the field, Chi-Yu almost always goes KO (and if not, you can adapt in G2 and G3). Dragapult + Ting-Lu with this new Tera Type became a very successful lead that I suggested to Dario and Alessandro as soon as I understood how strong it was
Tera Blast also can take the guaranteed KO on Flutter Mane even with bulky spreads.
204 Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Fire Dragapult Tera Blast vs. 228 HP / 140 Def Flutter Mane: 160-190 (100.6 – 119.4%) — guaranteed OHKO
Chien-Pao @ Focus Sash
Ability: Sword of Ruin
Tera Type: Ice
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Icicle Crash
– Ice Shard
– Sacred Sword
As said, Chien-Pao is classic except for the 2 STAB moves: Icicle Crash and Ice Shard instead of Ice Spinner and Sucker Punch. We talked about the reasons behind Ice Shard previously, but we didn’t do the same for Icicle Crash yet, and believe me if I say that it made the difference.
In this metagame most of the times the defensive calcs are borderline, you hang on after certain moves but with few HP remaining. Icicle Crash provides a little extra damage but it’s enough to break the calcs and to even get unexpected KOs with the right roll. Another important thing is that Icicle Crash doesn’t trigger items like Rocky Helmet or the damage of Spiky Shield, because it is not a contact move, and of course it can flinch. It can also miss, it happened a couple of times, but I never lost a best-of-3 due to it missing. The reward of running Icicle Crash is 100% worth the risk. I was tempted to put Ice Spinner until the very last minute, but at the end of the day I’m glad that I kept Icicle Crash.
Ting-Lu @ Assault Vest
Ability: Vessel of Ruin
Tera Type: Fire
EVs: 68 HP / 156 Atk / 12 Def / 220 SpD / 52 Spe
– Stomping Tantrum
– Heavy Slam
– Sand Tomb
Ok funny story here: Ting-Lu was NOT supposed to be like this. For some reason RK9’s Team List Creator didn’t save the changes on the moveset and on the Tera Type, which is bad as I had intended for Fairy Tera Type and Stone Edge over Sand Tomb. Since it was my first major with the new OTS (open teamsheet) system, due to two consecutive surgeries that I had since the beginning of the year, I didn’t even know that I was allowed to ask for a last-minute fix on the team list before the start, so I just put the old Ting-Lu on the Battle Box and started to play with it. Not gonna lie, I won a couple of matches thanks to this version, but in top 4, for example, I had more chances against Simone Sanvito with the right version.
Whatever, it worked anyway and it worked very well, so I guess that both versions are good, it simply depends on the context. As said for the versions of Amoonguss previously, try both of them and then decide which one is your favorite, but in this case I’d suggest you the one with Fairy Tera Type.
Gholdengo @ Leftovers
Ability: Good as Gold
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 244 HP / 36 Def / 20 SpA / 4 SpD / 204 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Make It Rain
– Nasty Plot
I’m very proud of this Gholdengo because we discussed a lot about it during the testing calls. Dario and Alessandro wanted to play Turin with Shadow Ball over Thunderbolt, but I constantly kept telling them that Thunderbolt was too important. It was perfect for Corviknight, which was becoming very popular, and against bulky Water types as well (or against bulky Pokémon with the Water Tera Type).
It absolutely paid off and we never missed Shadow Ball even for a single minute. The spread is very unique because it’s both bulky and fast, and even while losing some firepower without Nasty Plot it turned out to be perfect in a lot of situations. It also happened to be faster than some versions of Chi-Yu, as it happened in my featured match against Adam Cherfaoui. This version of Gholdengo is the best that I played so far and I’m so happy about the performance that it gave.
The amount of HP is not optimized for the Leftovers, but Dario and Alessandro said that it helps optimize a lot of rolls, and to be honest I felt it during the matches, so I guess they are right.
Amoonguss (M) @ Sitrus Berry
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 244 HP / 156 Def / 4 SpA / 100 SpD / 4 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Pollen Puff
– Rage Powder
– Clear Smog
For this wonderful Pokémon a “long live Amoonguss” should be enough as description, it’s simply one of the strongest Pokémon ever. It was strong before the 8th generation, and now with Pollen Puff it’s even stronger, probably more in Scarlet & Violet than in Sword & Shield. Basically without any Max Airstream or 130/140 base power super effective moves its durability is higher and it can provide a very important help to its partners.
As I mentioned, I prefer Amoonguss without Protect because you don’t want to be passive with it, you have to be dangerous or annoying by healing your main damage dealer or by putting to sleep the opponent’s Pokémon if possible. This team would never be the same without Amoonguss, and with this spread it can hang on very well versus almost everything, from neutral Arcanine’s Flare Blitz to the combination of Freeze-Dry + Shadow Ball of Iron Bundle + Flutter Mane thanks to the recovery of the Sitrus Berry.
Tauros-Paldea-Aqua @ Mirror Herb
Tera Type: Grass
EVs: 116 HP / 116 Atk / 28 Def / 68 SpD / 180 Spe
– Close Combat
– Wave Crash
– Aqua Jet
Ok now it’s the turn of the true MVP. Paldean Tauros Aqua Breed is the hottest pick of the team and it basically solved every problem of it, starting from the very bad match-up against Kingambit. It is also very good against Maushold + Annihilape when the Annihilape is Fire Tera Type, and of course is great against Dondozo, especially when it’s Oblivious, because if you copy the boost you can have a fair 1v1 situation against it, considering that you can easily heal yourself with Amoonguss.
Of course the optimal scenario is getting the boost and then using Clear Smog on Dondozo, and if Dondozo has the Steel Tera Type you can rely on +2 Close Combat. Against the Unaware version, Intimidate works, so of course it’s a much easier situation to manage.
Fun fact that I didn’t know before: if your opponent uses Howl, Tauros doesn’t get a +1, it gets a +2 instead because it copies all the boosts of the same turn at once and that’s great against Palafin balance teams. Being Howl the main tool of Arcanine in order to equalize a drop from Intimidate, and being Tauros a very good Intimidate user against Palafin balance teams, the match-up will almost always be in your favor—although it’s not an auto-win situation.
How to use the team
Click on the tabs to see some notes about the strongest leads and Pokémon in the back!
This was my run at the Turin Special Event!
Day 1 Swiss rounds
Christian De Nicolo
You can watch my Swiss round 5 match versus Adam below!:
Day 2 Swiss Rounds
You can watch my Top 8 match versus Andrea and my Top 4 match versus Simone below!:
I had mad fun playing this team during all the Turin Special Event, it has been magic in there and I’m so happy about the run and about the team. I missed so much playing in major tournaments, the time at home recovering from the surgeries that I had has been very hard, I really suffered seeing my friends going to tournaments without me being there and having fun with them during the season.
This Top 4 is a perfect ending. Not gonna lie, it would be better winning of course, but I cannot pretend to be stronger than Nico Davide Cognetta (Desu) and Simone Sanvito (☆Sanvy), also considering all the time I spent without being active. They legit earned their spot in the finals and I am happy for them!
I want to say thank you again to Dario Cozzo (JDart), Alessandro Lai (LTMS) and all their testing crew, Il Circo, for giving me the idea of using their team. It’s not an easy team, and even though you prepare a lot of game plans of course you don’t play against bots; at the highest scores you are against the best of the best and you need to adapt because you can bet on them doing the same against you. This team is strong because it gives you the right tools to adapt when plans and pace change, making you able to go aggressive from the start or stalling the opponent by constantly healing your Pokémon and putting the opponents to sleep. You should see it as a big and good toolbox, and finding the right tools at the right moment is up to you.
I’d also like to do some shout outs, first to my best friends Silvia and Gilberto Goracci and to my teammates of Capital Underdogs, then of course to all my other friends that supported me and cheered from round 1 until the very last turn against Sanvy.
Thanks again to Francesco Pardini, Francesco Cilurzo (Cydonia), Chiara Rocco and all of their staff because it is thanks to them that in 2016 I decided to play Pokémon once again (after 4 years) and even started to play VGC in official tournaments in 2017, but if I kept playing after a tough start it is also thanks to my first testing group (who I can now call brothers) named “Dragon Absinthe”, so thank you all guys because you all made me (directly and indirectly) the player and the man that I am today. And I wanted to say “man” as well because 6 years ago I was not the kind of guy who claps to the opponent after a loss as I did to Sanvy, this journey definitely improved me as a human being as well.
Last shoutout to the staff of VGC Guide, for including me in the team as translator for the Italian version of their wiki, and to my buddies of the Luminescent Team behind the mod Pokémon Luminescent Version!
Thank you all and see you soon, hopefully with more than a Top 4 next time!