VGC 2018 Core Analysis #2: Dual Mode Set-Up

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With the ever-evolving VGC 2018 metagame, certain cores have proven to succeed. This new VGC 2018 core we'll be taking a look at started off at the beginning of the season as a Japanese team featured on Emolgame, but as the team grew in popularity and more players kept using it and creating their own versions, grew into a team that has officially defined the 2018 metagame. Let's talk about how this team got started.

How the core got started

The first known team on the internet was a BattleSpot Doubles team that was found on Emolgame (pastebin) that was used by Japanese player Infinity_Ju. This team started with a lot of the ideas that carried on into later versions, mainly having 2 Intimidate users in the more supportive Mega Manectric and Landorus-Therian that could cycle between each other with Volt Switch and U-turn respectively, a Fake Out user in Alolan Persian, and a bulkier mode in the Tapu Fini, Celesteela, and the Snorlax. The team started gaining steam and when Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon were released and the VGC 2018 format officially started, this team was picked up by multiple players and tested a lot on both Battle Spot as well as Pokemon Showdown and was used by players.

We saw Pokemon like Scrafty and Gothitelle added to the core early into the 2018 format as they were swapped out for Persian and Landorus-Therian at times which helped out as Scrafty still provided Intimidate and Fake Out and Gothitelle's Shadow Tag ability was still very helpful and it also provided a slow mode alongside Snorlax thanks to Trick Room. Incineroar has recently been a very popular addition to this team as its Fire typing is very helpful for combating Steel types such as Kartana, Celesteela, and Ferrothorn, and it also has Fake Out and Intimidate.

This guide will show sample sets for these 4 Pokemon that can be commonly seen on this team
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png incineroar.png snorlax.png
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Sample Sets

Mega Manectric
Manectric-Mega @ Manectite
Ability: Lightning Rod
Level: 50
EVs: 172 HP / 4 Def / 4 SpA / 76 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Volt Switch
- Overheat / Rain Dance
- Snarl
- Protect

  • 252+ SpA Tapu Lele Psychic vs. 172 HP / 76 SpD Mega Manectric in Psychic Terrain: 141-166 (84.4 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 Atk Tough Claws Mega Metagross Stomping Tantrum vs. 172 HP / 4 Def Mega Manectric: 146-172 (87.4 - 102.9%) -- 18.8% chance to OHKO
  • -1 252 Atk Landorus-T Earthquake vs. 172 HP / 4 Def Mega Manectric: 110-132 (65.8 - 79%) -- guaranteed 2HKO
  • -1 252+ Atk Tapu Bulu Wood Hammer vs. 172 HP / 4 Def Mega Manectric in Grassy Terrain: 135-159 (80.8 - 95.2%) -- guaranteed 2HKO after Grassy Terrain recovery

This Manectric was built by Marcos Perez (@MoxieBoosted) from his YouTube video. Marcos notes that this Manectric is meant to be a supportive set that can support its team through using Snarl to lower its opponents Sp. Attack stat and Intimidate to lower their attack stat. Volt Switch is great for being able to switch out and then come back in and Intimidate your opponent again. The beauty of using Manectric is you don't have to Mega Evolve right away and can actually opt not to since you have the Lightning Rod ability to protect its partner Pokemon that are weak to electric type moves.  Overheat is great for hitting steel types, or you can go with Rain Dance which if you read the about Tapu Fini, you'll see why it's a great option.

Tapu Fini
Tapu Fini @ Waterium Z
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Def / 228 SpA / 12 SpD / 4 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
- Muddy Water
- Moonblast
- Taunt / Calm Mind
- Protect

This Tapu Fini was used by Louis Milich (@UncleLou21) to finish Top 8 at the 2018 Collinsville Regionals. Louis notes that with the Z-Muddy Water can guarantee KO Tapu Koko and as noted above, if you give Manectric Rain Dance, you can use it to boost the power of both your Z-move and Muddy Water. While Taunt was used on the original Tapu Fini to stop Amoonguss from using Spore and Rage Powder, Calm Mind is a more consistent option to increase your damage output.

Milich does note that because this Tapu Fini is so offensive because of the Sp. Attack investment to make the most of its Z-move, This Tapu Fini doesn't live hits a bulkier variant normally does which means the 2 Intimidate users commonly found on these types of teams can really help it survive big physical hits like Kartana's Leaf Blade for example.

Incineroar
Incineroar @ Iapapa Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 124 Atk / 20 Def / 108 SpD / 4 Spe
Adamant Nature
- Flare Blitz
- Knock Off
- Fake Out
- Snatch / Low Kick

  • -1 252 Atk Tough Claws Metagross-Mega Stomping Tantrum vs. 252 HP / 20 Def Incineroar: 86-102 (42.5 – 50.4%) — 1.2% chance to 2HKO
  • 100+ SpA Tapu Fini Muddy Water vs. 252 HP / 108 SpD Incineroar: 84-102 (41.5 – 50.4%) — 0.4% chance to 2HKO
  • 212+ SpA Choice Specs Tapu Fini Scald vs. 252 HP / 108 SpD Incineroar: 170-204 (84.1 – 100.9%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO

This Incineroar was used by Gary Qian (@ZygardeAwaken) on his Top 4 Portland Regionals team. The reason Incineroar is commonly put on this team is for the reasons stated above. A Pokemon that combines both Fake Out and Intimidate, as well as being able take hits from Fairy types like the Tapus which Scrafty couldn't do is very important.

Gary notes that Fake Out is great for supporting  Snorlax and Tapu Fini, allowing them to set-up or go for some big damage onto a powerful threat. Snatch has seen a rise in usage as its great for stealing set-up moves like Belly Drum from Azumarill or even steal a Tailwind for the speed control.

Snorlax
Snorlax @ Figy Berry
Ability: Gluttony
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 252 Def / 12 SpD
Relaxed Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
- Return
- High Horsepower
- Belly Drum
- Recycle

This Snorlax was used Matthew Jackson (@S_McBuckets) on the team he used to finish 3rd in Season 7 of the online VGC BattleSpot ladder, as well as the the team Quentin Colon (@GalacticVGC) finished 2nd at Dallas Regionals in Seniors and the team Adrian Sigler (@SaagAlooVGC) finished Top 16 at Dallas Regionals. Return and High Horsepower are the main moves you'll use on Snorlax as they cover just about every Pokemon in the format barring Celesteela thanks to its amazing bulk, Ghost/Flying types like Drifblim, and Ghost types with the Levitate ability like Mismagius and Haunter. Recycle is what makes Snorlax a very hard Pokemon to take down since in combination with its Gluttony ability, being able to eat your berry and heal back 50% health when brought down to 50% health can make Snorlax a hard Pokemon to take down.

While no damage calcs are listed, this Snorlax's main goal is to survive long enough to use Belly Drum and then OHKO the vast majority of Pokemon in the 2018 format, but since it isn't as offensive as most Snorlax, some Cresselia, Snorlax, and Porygon2 can survive a +6 Return. Matthew does not that if he could change something on this Snorlax, it would be to increase its special bulk to improve its matchup versus opposing Tapu Koko and Mega Charizard Y.

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Pokemon Commonly Added to this Team

Trick Room Users

cresselia.png porygon2.png gothitelle.png
You can commonly find a Trick Room user in either Cresselia, Porygon2, or Gothtielle which mainly exists to support the Snorlax in its goal of using Belly Drum to sweep through teams. Cresselia also gets Helping Hand which with the Snorlax set above, can make up for the KOs Snorlax may miss. Porygon2 is a more offensive Trick Room user that can hit pretty hard on the special side, especially after its get a Sp. Attack boost from its Download ability. The final one in Gothitelle provides the Shadow Tag ability to hopefully trap in Pokemon that can't deal with Snorlax. Gothitelle also provides Heal Pulse to heal Snorlax if it ever takes damage.

Others

celesteela.png kartana.png lurantis.png virizion.png
These Pokemon have been added presumably to cover weaknesses of the first 5 Pokemon. Celesteela is a strong defensive pivot that gives its team a viable way to deal with opposing Snorlax as well as the Tapus. Kartana's offensive pressure is great for an otherwise bulkier team. Lurantis was popularized by Brian Youm in a response to the rise of Incineroar since it got Intimidate thanks to its Contrary ability. Virizion

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Successful Versions of this Core

1 - Louis Milich (@UncleLou21) - Top 8 Collinsville Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png incineroar.png snorlax.png gothitelle.png celesteela.png

2 - Davide Cauteruccio (@DynamoVGC) - Top 4 2018 Malmö Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png landorus-therian.png snorlax.png gothitelle.png celesteela.png

3 - Alvin Hidayat (@JibaNOTHERE) - 1st Place 2018 Collinsville Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png scrafty.png snorlax.png porygon2.png kartana.png

4 - Brian Youm (@Seven_Poke) - Top 8 2018 Charlotte Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png incineroar.png snorlax.png cresselia.png lurantis.png

5 - Joseph Selmer (@ModernGamer_MG) - Top 4 2018 Costa Mesa Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png incineroar.png snorlax.png porygon2.png virizion.png

6 - Jeremy Shacket (@jeremyshacket) - Top 4 2018 Portland Regionals
manectric-mega.png tapu-fini.png landorus-therian.png snorlax.png cresselia.png celesteela.png

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Beating this Core

While there is no one specific Pokemon, there are ways to beat this type of team or disrupt their strategy.

Incineroar 

Incineroar has a pretty decent matchup against most of this team. Being able to wall their Trick Room user, having Knock Off to remove Snorlax's berry which can most of the time stop Snorlax from using Belly Drum without major support can make Incineroar a strong Pokemon against this team. Incineroar will have to worry about the threat of a potential rain boosted Z-Muddy Water from Tapu Fini can be a nuisance or simply the fact that standard Incineroar sets don't really threaten Incineroar at all since Tapu Fini resists both its fire and dark type moves.

Other Options

  • Bulky Grass Types - Bulky Grass types like Mega Venusaur and Ferrothorn can sit on the battlefield and use Leech Seed to gain health every turn. Ferrothorn can be OHKO'd by Incineroar's Flare Blitz but Venusaur can theoretically 1v1 an Incineroar through Leech Seed and Sludge Bomb.
  • Competitive / Defiant Users -  Pokemon like Braviary, Bisharp, and Milotic are important because these teams usually pack 2 Intimidate users which means being able to get a boost to your main attacking stat can make any Pokemon a huge threat.
  • Knock Off - Knock Off is great because it allows the user to remove berries which are huge this season, but when most of these teams are carrying 2-3 of them, if you can get rid of it, it cripples Snorlax. Gothitelle, and Incineroar since the damage they take becomes permanent.

Conclusion

Thanks to a Japanese team gaining a ton of popularity, Mega Manectric was able to become a key part of the 2018 format, allowing it to use its fast speed and key support moves to help create a strong bulky team that commonly has Intimidate shuffling, a slow Trick Room mode, and a decent fast mode. Check back to the Nimbasa City Post both here and on Twitter for more VGC content and VGC related news!

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