The Giraffe that Everybody Needed but Nobody Wanted — Team Report from the World Championships Finalist

Hey! I am Michael Kelsch, also known as MichaelderBeste, and am the finalist of the 2023 Pokémon World Championships in Yokohama.

As some of you already know, I started playing VGC in December 2022. The reason I started playing was to meet online friends in the Bochum Regional in February 2023. This was the very first event I participated in and I immediately fell in love with the game and event overall. I got to Top 8 and was able to meet a lot of people I wanted to meet. That’s why I decided to go to other events too, such as Utrecht Special Event, EUIC in London and Malmö Regional.

At first I couldn’t really afford the trip to Yokohama because I am in the 2nd year in college, but my friends and family encouraged me to do it and helped me out wherever they could. I am so happy I took the opportunity to go to Japan and show what newer players can be made of.

Table of Contents

Teambuilding process

Six weeks before the World Championships would start, there was another big tournament, the North American International Championship (NAIC) in Columbus, OH, United States. Àlex Gómez was able to win the tournament with a very strong core of Chien-Pao and Dragapult.

I always wanted to play Ghost-Tera Type Dragapult since Justin Tang won the Fort Wayne Regional back in April. So, after Dragapult and Chien-Pao had a huge success in Regulation Set C, I made the call to master a team around that core.

DragapultChien Pao

I tested different versions in the big grassroots to make sure that I can go into my biggest tournament with no regrets.

I added Heatran to the team because I had a huge success with another team I made in Regulation Set D before the ruleset was officially released.

DragapultChien PaoHeatran

After realizing that Chien-Pao is very strong in the format, I decided to add the star in my team, Farigiraf, to be able to deny Sucker Punch for Dragapult. It also helps against other priorities like Fake Out or Extreme Speed which is obviously super useful. Farigiraf also provides a Trick Room mode and in the same time can deny the Trick Room with Imprison. It was a perfect fit.

DragapultChien PaoHeatranFarigiraf

I really wanted a Spore immunity and Fake Out in one slot. I first had Safety Goggles Iron Hands on the team, but I
quickly realized that Rillaboom felt better on my team, so I decided to pick the Galarian starter.

DragapultChien PaoHeatranFarigirafRillaboom

The final slot was a Flutter Mane for a very long time. You cannot go wrong with adding Flutter Mane on your team. Funnily enough, Flutter Mane was the Pokémon I brought the least to the practice tournaments.

DragapultChien PaoHeatranFarigirafRillaboomFlutter Mane

I looked into alternatives and saw Rapid Strike Style Urshifu. It also synergizes very well with Chien-Pao, so I tried it and it felt very good.

DragapultChien PaoHeatranFarigirafRillaboomUrshifu Rapid

The team was finished, three weeks before the tournament even started. I didn’t make any changes since
then and I am very happy I approached the whole teambuilding process the way I did.

The Team

▶️ Get the team’s paste here!

Normal Sprite

Dragapult @ Choice Band
Ability: Clear Body
Level: 50
Tera Type: Ghost
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Dragon Darts
– Phantom Force
– Tera Blast
– Sucker Punch

As I said earlier, I was super excited to try out Dragapult and the damage output it deals still blows my mind. Because it is often paired with Chien-Pao, the damage can be super devastating. Clear Body is such a good ability because you don’t get any stat drops from Icy Wind, Charm or Intimidate.

Dragapult has three very powerful STAB moves with Phantom Force, Tera Blast and Dragon Darts. Dragon Darts especially is such a great move with its smart targetting and Phantom Force breaking Protects is also super helpful. The last move can be either Sucker Punch or U-Turn. I decided to play Sucker Punch since I don’t have any form of speed control besides Trick Room on Farigiraf, so having another priority just felt very good.

The surprise I mentioned in my interview before the Finals against Shohei Kimura was the PP of Sucker Punch. I played exactly 6 PP on my Dragapult throughout the entire tournament and I had a specific reason for that. When a Pokémon wants to stall out Sucker Punch because they are in range of it otherwise, it might spam Protect. The opponent can count the uses of Sucker Punch and then attack in the 9th turn. If a Protect fails in the 7th turn though, I would be able to get off two Choice Band Struggles to KO the opposing Pokémon. You can beat a 1 HP Chien-Pao with this technique as well. When this thought crossed my mind, I decided to add this little gimmick. I can’t put the damage output from Dragapult into words, so just look at the calcs below and make a picture yourself.

Offensive calcs

Urshifu Rapid 252 Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Ghost Dragapult Tera Blast vs. 0 HP / 0 Def Urshifu-Rapid Strike: 172-204 (98.2 – 116.5%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO

Amoonguss 252 Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Ghost Dragapult Phantom Force vs. 228 HP / 156+ Def Amoonguss: 192-228 (88 – 104.5%) — 31.3% chance to OHKO

Flutter Mane 252 Atk Choice Band Tera-Ghost Dragapult Tera Blast vs. 100 HP / 252 Def Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane: 146-172 (102 – 120.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

Gholdengo 252 Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Ghost Dragapult Phantom Force vs. 148 HP / 100 Def Tera-Water Gholdengo: 182-216 (100.5 – 119.3%) — guaranteed OHKO

Iron Hands 252 Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Ghost Dragapult Phantom Force vs. 108 HP / 4 Def Iron Hands: 180-214 (74 – 88%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Normal Sprite

Chien-Pao @ Focus Sash
Ability: Sword of Ruin
Level: 50
Tera Type: Dark
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 Def / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Icicle Crash
– Crunch
– Sucker Punch
– Protect

Chien-Pao was a very important Pokémon on the team because, with its ability Sword of Ruin, it provides a huge damage boost to partners like Dragapult or Urshifu. I decided to run Adamant Chien-Pao with a Dark Tera Type to be able to maximize the damage output from Sucker Punch. The common Tera Type choice is Ghost to block Fake Out or Extreme Speed, but since I have a Farigiraf on my team I didn’t need it.

Crunch was very useful to pressure Water-Tera Type Amoonguss, Indeedee and Cresselia. It also helps against Gholdengo, which can otherwise setup on you since Sucker Punch won’t have an effect on Nasty Plot. I decided to play Icicle Crash over Ice Spinner to avoid contact against Rocky Helmet Pokémon. It would also destroy my own Grassy Terrain. Together with an Adamant Nature, I am able to OHKO almost every Flutter Mane: Icicle Crash for Fairy-Tera Type Flutter Mane and Crunch or Sucker Punch for Water-Tera Type ones.

Funnily enough, the 4 remaining EVs should be always put into Defense because then a Choice Scarf Adamant Urshifu’s Surging Strikes never OHKOs, and if the Urshifu is the Mystic Water Jolly variant, the roll also drastically changes from a 81% roll to OHKO to a 25% roll.

Offensive calcs

Flutter Mane 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Tera-Dark Chien-Pao Sucker Punch vs. 116 HP / 124 Def Flutter Mane: 146-174 (100.6 – 120%) — guaranteed OHKO

(Flutter Mane invested to withstand a Jolly Chien-Pao’s Icicle Crash)

Amoonguss 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Icicle Crash vs. 228 HP / 156+ Def Amoonguss: 200-236 (91.7 – 108.2%) — 50% chance to OHKO

Cresselia 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Tera-Dark Chien-Pao Crunch vs. 252 HP / 180 Def Cresselia: 200-236 (88.1 – 103.9%) — 25% chance to OHKO

Indeedee Female 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Crunch vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Indeedee-F: 180-212 (101.6 – 119.7%) — guaranteed OHKO 

Rillaboom 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Icicle Crash vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Rillaboom: 218-260 (105.3 – 125.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

Tornadus 252+ Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Icicle Crash vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Tornadus: 182-216 (97.8 – 116.1%) — 87.5% chance to OHKO

Normal Sprite

Heatran @ Assault Vest
Ability: Flash Fire
Level: 50
Tera Type: Grass
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Def / 236 SpA / 12 SpD / 12 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Flash Cannon
– Earth Power
– Tera Blast

The next slot in the team is Heatran. I recommend to play 0 Attack IVs on Heatran to reduce Foul Play and confusion self-hit damage, but I played 13 IVs in the tournament because I had no time to catch a 0 IV one.

Heatran with an Assault Vest is very good into the offensive special core of Chi-Yu paired with Flutter Mane. Assault Vest also gave me the option to run all 4 coverage moves on Heatran. This is very good because there is no switching into all of these moves. I decided to almost max out the Special Attack because you can get some really sick calcs with it, shown below.

Defensive calcs

Chi Yu 252+ SpA Beads of Ruin Chi-Yu Dark Pulse vs. 244 HP / 12 SpD Assault Vest Heatran: 66-78 (33.5 – 39.5%) — guaranteed 3HKO

Flutter Mane 252+ SpA Choice Specs Beads of Ruin Flutter Mane Shadow Ball vs. 244 HP / 12 SpD Assault Vest Heatran: 97-115 (49.2 – 58.3%) — 98% chance to 2HKO

Chien Pao 252 Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Ice Spinner vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Tera-Grass Heatran: 164-194 (83.2 – 98.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Basculegion Male 252+ Atk Life Orb Sword of Ruin Tera-Water Basculegion Wave Crash vs. 244 HP / 4 Def Tera-Grass Heatran in Rain: 169-199 (85.7 – 101%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Offensive calcs

Basculegion 236+ SpA Tera-Grass Heatran Tera Blast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tera-Water Basculegion: 188-224 (95.9 – 114.2%) — 81.3% chance to OHKO

Heatran 236+ SpA Tera-Grass Heatran Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Heatran: 216-256 (109 – 129.2%) — guaranteed OHKO

Amoonguss 236+ SpA Tera-Grass Heatran Tera Blast vs. 236 HP / 116 SpD Tera-Water Amoonguss in Grassy Terrain: 204-240 (93.1 – 109.5%) — 50% chance to OHKO

Tornadus Incarnate 236+ SpA Heatran Heat Wave vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tornadus: 79-94 (50.9 – 60.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Normal Sprite

Farigiraf @ Rocky Helmet
Ability: Armor Tail
Level: 50
Tera Type: Fairy
EVs: 252 HP / 236 Def / 4 SpA / 4 SpD / 12 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psychic
– Dazzling Gleam
– Trick Room
– Imprison

Next, we have my favourite on the team, Farigiraf. With its Ability Armor Tail, it is able to prevent priority attacks for the own side. This helps a lot against Chien-Pao, Dragonite and Urshifu. I chose Fairy as my Tera Type to resist Dark- and Fighting-type moves and have a Dragon-type immunity for Outrage Dragonite especially, since I have no other Fairy types on my team.

Fairy Tera Type pairs well with Dazzling Gleam. Dazzling Gleam is also useful to get the KO on Chien-Pao after a Dragon Darts hit. Psychic was the other attacking move to kill most Rapid Strike Style Urshifu variants. It is also the strongest move into Ursaluna and Amoonguss. Speaking of Ursaluna, I expected many people to run the combination of Ursaluna and Cresselia. That’s why I decided to put Imprison on my Farigiraf. It also makes the almost unwinnable hard Trick Room matchup super winnable. Another neat interaction is that you can block Flutter Mane using Dazzling Gleam, which also won me some games.

In general, Farigiraf was the main option against teams with speed control. Against Tailwind teams, I set up the Trick Room myself, and against Trick Room teams, I deny it with Imprison. I am very happy with the pick and it always provided value with the Rocky Helmet as well.

Defensive calcs

Chien Pao 252 Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Icicle Crash vs. 252 HP / 236 Def Farigiraf: 93-109 (40.9 – 48%) — guaranteed 3HKO

Urshifu Rapid 252+ Atk Mystic Water Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 252 HP / 236 Def Farigiraf on a critical hit: 180-216 (79.2 – 95.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Iron Hands 156+ Atk Iron Hands Wild Charge vs. 252 HP / 236 Def Farigiraf: 84-100 (37 – 44%) — guaranteed 3HKO

 

Offensive calcs

Urshifu Rapid 4+ SpA Farigiraf Psychic vs. 44 HP / 4 SpD Urshifu-Rapid Strike: 182-216 (100.5 – 119.3%) — guaranteed OHKO

Amoonguss 4+ SpA Farigiraf Psychic vs. 236 HP / 116 SpD Amoonguss: 128-152 (58.4 – 69.4%) — 67.2% chance to 2HKO after Sitrus Berry recovery

Normal Sprite

Rillaboom @ Sitrus Berry
Ability: Grassy Surge
Level: 50
Tera Type: Poison
EVs: 252 HP / 116 Atk / 76 Def / 52 SpD / 12 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Wood Hammer
– Stomping Tantrum
– Fake Out
– Protect

The fifth slot on the team is the Grass type of my choice, Rillaboom. Rillaboom works very well on my team because Fake Out pairs incredibly well with Phantom Force Dragapult. The Grassy Terrain also helps Heatran a lot. I added Stomping Tantrum next to the strongest STAB Rillaboom has, Wood Hammer. Stomping Tantrum is good to pressure Fire, Poison and Steel types like Gholdengo or Heatran.

Since my Heatran already had the Assault Vest, I had to figure out another item choice on Rillaboom. Sitrus Berry was a great option because it gives Rillaboom a bit more longevity, especially with the recoil of Wood Hammer. The last move of choice is Protect because all the other options were not needed and having a second Pokémon with Protect is very good to stall out Tailwind or create mind games.

In hindsight Water Tera Type might have been a bit better, but Poison Tera Type works great against Iron Hands and Flutter Mane as well. Rillaboom works really well in the Trick Room mode and against Dondozo teams.

Defensive calcs

Flutter Mane 252+ SpA Choice Specs Flutter Mane Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 76 SpD Rillaboom: 165-195 (79.7 – 94.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

Urshifu Rapid 236+ Atk Urshifu-Rapid Strike Close Combat vs. 252 HP / 52 Def Rillaboom: 115-136 (55.5 – 65.7%) — 1.6% chance to 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery and Sitrus Berry recovery

Chien Pao 252 Atk Sword of Ruin Chien-Pao Ice Spinner vs. 252 HP / 52 Def Rillaboom: 176-210 (85 – 101.4%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Offensive calcs

Flutter Mane 116+ Atk Rillaboom Wood Hammer vs. 116 HP / 244 Def Flutter Mane in Grassy Terrain: 145-172 (100 – 118.6%) — guaranteed OHKO

Chien Pao 116+ Atk Rillaboom Wood Hammer vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Chien-Pao in Grassy Terrain: 154-183 (98.7 – 117.3%) — 93.8% chance to OHKO

Iron Hands 116+ Atk Rillaboom Wood Hammer vs. 100 HP / 4 Def Iron Hands in Grassy Terrain: 120-142 (49.5 – 58.6%) — 69.5% chance to 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

Normal Sprite

Urshifu-Rapid-Strike @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Unseen Fist
Tera Type: Water
EVs: 28 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 68 SpD / 252 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Surging Strikes
– Close Combat
– U-turn
– Aqua Jet

The last piece on the team is Rapid Strike Style Urshifu. Urshifu is just so good. Denying Protect and being faster and able to OHKO the most common threats like Chien-Pao or Flutter Mane is a huge merit. It forms a very good offensive core with Dragapult and Chien-Pao and also helps a lot in Tailwind and Dondozo match-ups.

With Choice Scarf and U-Turn, you can lead Urshifu + Dragapult and still get the damage boost with Sword of Ruin for Dragapult after the U-Turn into Chien-Pao. Overall there a lot of options with Choice Scarf Urshifu on this team. The bulk helps it to survive certain Flutter Mane combinations.

Defensive calcs

Flutter Mane

252 SpA Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane Moonblast vs. 28 HP / 68 SpD Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike: 150-178 (83.7 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

196+ SpA Choice Specs Tera-Fairy Flutter Mane Dazzling Gleam vs. 28 HP / 68 SpD Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike: 150-178 (83.7 – 99.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO

Dragonite 252+ Atk Choice Band Sword of Ruin Tera-Normal Dragonite Extreme Speed vs. 28 HP / 4 Def Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike: 153-180 (85.4 – 100.5%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

Offensive calcs

Chien Pao 156+ Atk Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Chien-Pao on a critical hit: 168-198 (107.6 – 126.9%) — guaranteed OHKO

Flutter Mane 156+ Atk Sword of Ruin Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 116 HP / 252 Def Flutter Mane on a critical hit: 153-180 (105.5 – 124.1%) — guaranteed OHKO

[Also works with Terastallization]

Dondozo 156+ Atk Sword of Ruin Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 4 HP / 4 Def Dondozo on a critical hit: 84-99 (37.1 – 43.8%) — approx. 100% chance to 3HKO after Leftovers recovery

Urshifu Single 156+ Atk Sword of Ruin Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Urshifu-Single Strike on a critical hit: 180-216 (102.2 – 122.7%) — guaranteed OHKO

Tornadus Incarnate 156+ Atk Tera-Water Urshifu-Rapid Strike Surging Strikes (3 hits) vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Tornadus on a critical hit: 180-216 (96.7 – 116.1%) — approx. 93.8% chance to OHKO

How to use the team

Tournament run

Day 1

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
R1WTWJPN
Kotaro Okada
(せむべる)
Flutter ManeZapdos GalarMaushold FourArcanineChien PaoGarchomp
R2WLWMEX
Enrique Grimaldo
(EGrim)
GholdengoGrimmsnarlVolcaronaIron HandsTatsugiri CurlyDondozo
R3WLWUSA
Bhushan Thumsi 
(Freezai)
Flutter ManeHeatranAbomasnowIron HandsCresseliaUrsaluna
R4WLWJPN
Ryoma Okamoto
(まひる)
Flutter ManeUrshifu RapidAmoongussIron HandsChien PaoLandorus Therian
R5LWWJPN
Taro Okada
(さなみ)
Flutter ManeUrshifu RapidAmoongussIron HandsChien PaoLandorus Therian

Day 2 Swiss rounds

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
R1WWBRA
Hugo Nascimento
(Labacedo)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleRillaboomHeatranChien PaoTornadus Incarnate
R2WWUSA
Zackary Thornberg
(Zack)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleAmoongussGholdengoScream TailTalonflame
R3WLWFRA
Hippolyte Bernard
(☆AllySwitch☆)
Flutter ManeHeatranAmoongussDragoniteChien PaoTornadus Incarnate
R4WLLUSA
Emilio Forbes
(Emily)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleBrambleghastGholdengoChi YuTornadus Incarnate
R5WWAUS
Alister Sandover
(スカーレット)
Flutter ManeDondozoTornadus IncarnateIron HandsChien PaoLandorus Therian
R6WWCHN
Tang Shiliang
(20亮亮)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleTornadus IncarnateGholdengoArcanine HisuiLandorus Therian
R7WWESP
Víctor Medina
(Torviv)
Flutter ManeUrshifu RapidRillaboomHeatranChien PaoTornadus

Top Cut

RoundResultOpponentOpponent’s teamList
Top 26Bye
Top 16WTLWJPN
Kenji Miura
(サファイア)
GholdengoUrshifu RapidAmoongussHeatranBaxcaliburZapdos
Top 8WWDNK
Nikolaj Høj Nielsen
(Nikolaj_H)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleDragoniteIron HandsCresseliaUrsaluna
Top 4WWITA
Federico Camporesi
(FedeCampoVGC)
Flutter ManeUrshifu SingleDragoniteIron HandsCresseliaUrsaluna
FinalsLLJPN
Shohei Kimura
(ナンス)
Flutter ManeUrshifu RapidAmoongussIron HandsChien PaoLandorus Therian

Conclusion

I still can’t believe that I have made it this far. I’m so proud of myself and happy that I achieved my goal to show what newer players can be made of!

Huge shoutout to the whole Tub Nation group, Goblin group and the German elite. I wouldn’t have been able to come this far without you. You supported me the whole time and I am really grateful to call you my friends. Also a huge thank you to my family for the support and trusting me in what I do and supporting me wherever you can.

I am looking forward to the 2024 season. My goal is to run it back but become the champion this time. See you in Hawaii!

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