This past weekend, I took part in my first online Pokemon competition. I’d originally planned to participate in the online qualifiers for the Players Cup I in the spring of 2020, but then a pandemic happened and I forgot about it.
This competition was an online friendly tournament that wasn’t hosted by Nintendo. That said, it was hosted by Wolfey Glick, the 2016 Pokemon VGC World Champion and reigning Players Cup champion. The competition attracted 1544 players, including several top VGC players. This event was in a GS Cup format, meaning that you could bring two restricted (special) Pokemon in your team of six Pokemon. From there, players participated in up to 20 single-round matches against opponents over a three-hour timeframe.
Let’s start with the bad news. I didn’t do particularly well. I placed 1056th out of 1544 and went 2-7 overall in the nine matches I played, though I feel there’s a bit of an asterisk with that record that I’ll get into in a moment. Here is a match-by-match listing of my results.
Note: All photos courtesy pokemondb.net.
Round Opponent Result
1 Colin L (0-4)
2 Karl L (1-4)
3 Andrew L (2-4)*
4 Alex W (4-3)
5 Tapesujo L (1-4)
6 Timothy W (4-3)
7 Gigi L (0-4)
8 Mark L (2-4)
9 Jared L (3-4)*
There were four matches that I lost (rounds 1, 2, 5, and 7) that I had zero chance of winning. I got solidly outplayed in all four of those matches. Even though I had a bit of bad luck in round 5 in particular, I recognize that in all four of those matches, I got curbstomped. In my two wins, as well as in round 8, I felt like I played well enough to win and that my strategy was sound. I’ll get more into the team below, however, my Duclops/Calyrex/Abomasnow core was really good in these matches in particular.
As for my round 3 and round 9 losses, in both matches I had leads (2-0 in round 3, 3-0 in round 9) that I felt pretty good about, only to physically get pulled away from my Switch mid-match. By the time I got back, I’d lost both matches. While I don’t know that I would have won either one for certain, I was in damn good position to win both. Maybe next time will be a different experience.
As for the team I used in this competition, I figured it’d be in my best interest to use a team style I was familiar with in my first event. Though I’d never made a GS Cup team before, I decided to base my team around a team style I’d played around with in non-GS Cup format online battles in the past. As such, my team was based around a Hail Room concept. I’ve been using a variation of this team online since the Crown Tundra. The team has been around a .500 team in ranked battles, which is better than a Hail-centric team should be doing right now. That said, the concept seemed to work alright in the GS Cup format.
Dusclops @ Eviolite
EVs: 252 HP/164 Def/92 SpDef
– Night Shade
– Trick Room
– Pain Split
As is the case with most Trick Room teams in a non-GS Cup format, my Hail Room team features a bulky Dusclops. It’s good enough to stick around even in a GS Cup format, though it’s a little wanting for attacking power. That said, I did win my round 4 matchup by Dynamaxing my Dusclops (seriously) after everything else had gone horribly wrong, then combining it with Calyrex to deal out damage. Haze and Pain Split came in handy, though they were both more situational moves compared to the rest of the set.
Abomasnow @ Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
EVs: 252 HP/128 Def/128 SpDef
– Aurora Veil
– Giga Drain
– Earth Power
Earlier iterations of this team featured Alolan Ninetales and Vanilluxe, but I found the former too fast to get Hail up consistently and the latter an awkward fit on the team. As much as I’d love to be able to run Light Clay, Abomasnow just isn’t bulky enough to hold up to any hits of consequence. Providing I survive to a second turn with Aurora Veil up, I’m clicking Blizzard 99% of the time. My lead duo for all but one match was Dusclops/Abomasnow, so this saw a lot of play.
Lapras @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Shell Armor
EVs: 56 HP/252 Def/32 SpAtk/108 SpDef/52 Spd
In the event I found Abomasnow to be a really bad matchup as a lead, I brought Lapras. I tried a very strange EV set because…well, I forgot to reset my EVs. Oops. That said, the basic premise of this set is to bait out Dynamax moves while using Protect in an effort to activate Weakness Policy, then counterattack with max moves of my own. Great plan in non-GS Cup formats, but it didn’t work great here.
Calyrex Ice Rider
Calyrex @ Safety Goggles
Ability: As One
EVs: 252 HP/164 Def/92 SpDef
– Glacial Lance
– Heal Pulse
– Trick Room
I’m convinced support Calyrex Ice will work. All this event did was to reinforce my opinion on this. Besides serving as a backup Trick Room user in the event Dusclops went down, Calyrex was here to use Heal Pulse under Trick Room, as well as to spam Glacial Lance.
Tapu Fini @ Life Orb
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 252 HP/4 Def/236 SpAtk/16 Spd
– Muddy Water
– Grass Knot
Most of this is a pretty standard special attacking Fini set, albeit a Life Orb set rather than the more frequently used Choice Specs. That said…why Grass Knot? My intent was to be able to use Tapu Fini as a direct counter to Kyogre and Groudon, even when their weather was in effect. This worked out surprisingly well, with Fini taking out two Groudons in sun, as well as one Kyogre (with help) in rain.
Ho-oh @ Assault Vest
EVs: 4 HP/252 Atk/252 SpAtk
– Sacred Fire
– Scorching Sands
– Iron Head
– Giga Drain
My last slot was reserved for a second restricted Pokemon. I ultimately decided to go with Ho-oh over Yveltal, as I felt like it provided me with better coverage against Zacian and Zamezenta. This was a good idea in theory. It worked much less well in practice.
All in all, I feel like the event was a good experience, even if it didn’t turn out as good as I wanted. The GS cup format was new to me, presenting some challenges in team building I hadn’t expected. I feel like the Dusclops/Calyrex/Abomasnow core performed as well as I expected, if not better. Similarly, Tapu Fini worked out really well with the build I gave it, though I’d likely go Specs instead of Life Orb if given a second chance. Lapras and Ho-oh were the weak links of my team. In the case of Lapras, its lack of offensive output outside of Dynamax led to it being ignored when I brought it, and I found myself more commonly using that Dynamax on Tapu Fini or Ho-oh anyway. The Ho-oh build was a great idea on paper, but didn’t fit with the synergy of my team at all.
The team itself has some potential, though it’d take some tinkering to get it to its full potential. If I were to run this team concept in the future, I think I’d go with the following changes.
- Drop Lapras for a more direct offensive threat (Glaceon? Rotom Frost? Silvally?)
- Replace Ho-oh with a different physical attacker (Kyruem or Yveltal in a GS Cup format)
- Possibly swap out Abomasnow for Aurorus (as it’s slightly slower)
- Give Calyrex Ice different support moves (maybe a set of Glacial Lance/Heal Pulse/Encore/either Trick Room or Zen Headbutt)
Overall, I think this taught me a lot about what works and what doesn’t. While I think there might be a ceiling to what Hail Room teams can do, I don’t think they’re as bad as they might look on paper. And as for my experience with an online competition, I might do it again in the future. We’ll have to see though.