Sand and Wildfires – A VGC 2020 Team Analysis

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Jessie's Gourgeist - Bulbapedia, the community-driven Pokémon ...

Hi! My name is Allan Martinez (Mando). You may or may not know me from my Kyogre/Ho-Oh team I used last year during Moon Series, where I used them to claim a Top 4 and Top 8 finish in back-to-back Regionals. I’ve also used Umbreon to get a Top 4 finish at the last ever 3DS Regional in San Diego (big shout out to Hirofumi). Since then I have scrambled to find something that truly resonates with me.  After a couple months of trial and error, I have found a team I enjoy using.

Team's Accomplishments
  • Allan – Top 8 Victory Road May Challenge; Players Cup Qualification
  • Lou – 7-2 in Champions Cup

Teambuilding Process

The idea for the team literally came from a tweet from Louis Milich (Uncle Lou) which popped up on my timeline. I was interested in the synergy Hitmontop had with Tyranitar and Charizard, so I built a rough draft version of the team. Lou had been testing with Charizard + Tyranitar for the Champions Cup having originally been set on using a version with Ninetales and Venusaur, but thanks to the contributions from Jakob Swilley the power of Hitmontop to round out the core was discovered. This first draft consisted of Tyranitar, Charizard, Togekiss, Gastrodon, Rotom-Mow, and Hitmontop. I tested this for a bit and determined that the second half of the team was all wrong. Togekiss didn’t support the team well enough. Gastrodon often just sat there and didn’t fully support Tyranitar or Charizard at times. Rotom felt awkward to use because I tried to use it as an individual Pokémon instead of using it to provide support for the team.

I talked to Lou after my findings and we came to the conclusion that Indeedee-F supported the team much better than Togekiss can. Its Psychic Terrain adds an extra layer of support for Tyranitar which helps block priority such as Conkeldurr’s Mach Punch. Having only one Flying-type on the team was also helpful, and Indeedee-F helps put pressure on Fighting and Poison-types such as Conkeldurr and Venusaur. Lou suggested Gourgeist to me for its Grass typing and ability to support the team via Trick Room, though I had my doubts about it. I tested Durant, but I didn’t like how I was almost always forced to Dynamax it every time I brought it, although I did appreciate the sheer power it offered. Leading up to the Victory Road Challenge I participated in a Rose Tower Clash the night before and used a Coalossal team and dropped at 1-3. Frustrated with the team, I decided to run the Tyranitar and Charizard team I had been working on. The team was rounded out with Excadrill, Indeedee-F, Hitmontop, and Gourgeist. I wound up going to sleep at around 3:30 AM and had to be up by 6:50 AM, so I definitely had a long day ahead of me.

The Team

Tyranitar @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
Level: 50
EVs: 76 HP / 204 Atk / 4 Def / 12 SpD / 212 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Rock Slide
– Crunch
– Superpower
– Protect
  • Lou's Change – 212 Atk / 4 SpD. Everything else is the same.
  • 204+ Atk Tyranitar Helping Hand Max Darkness (130 BP) vs. 252 HP / 252+ Def Eviolite Dusclops: 146-174 (99.3 - 118.3%) – 87.5% chance to OHKO
I opted to go for a fast Tyranitar because the team doesn’t really rely on Trick Room. Meanwhile, Lou valued a lot of the bulk that Tyranitar had by putting a lot of the investment into HP and instead of trying to play the Tyranitar speed creep meta. The exact EVs are hidden to not turn that meta into complete chaos. The EVs I used hit 108 speed, which allows it to outspeed Dragapult at +2 should that come up. I tried to speed creep the Pokémon who hit 107 speed, which is the bare minimum to outspeed Dragapult at +2. The Attack EVs hit 11n and the rest of the EVs were put into HP. It's a simple build, but it’s effective.

Charizard-Gmax @ Charti Berry  
Ability: Solar Power
Level: 50
EVs: 252 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Heat Wave
– Air Slash
– Solar Beam
– Protect
  • Lou's Change – Item is Life Orb. Everything else is the same.
  • -1 252+ Atk Tyranitar Max Rockfall (130BP) vs 0 HP / 0 Def Charti Berry Charizard : 204-242 (66.6 - 79%) – guaranteed 2HKO after Sandstorm Damage
I initially had Blast Burn over Solar Beam, but I found that the Grass coverage is necessary at times to finish off the Water-types such as Primarina, Rotom-Wash, etc. The Charti Berry helps a lot when I need to take a Rock-type move to the face. In theory, it helped against Tyranitar leads where I lead Charizard and Indeedee-F. I could switch into Hitmontop and potentially burn one turn of their Dynamax turns should they choose to target Indeedee-F with Max Darkness. Charizard can also live a double Rock Slide from -1 Excadrill and -1 Tyranitar.

Lou heavily valued the extra damage output that Life Orb provided because when combined with Helping Hand from Indeedee-F you can pick up a lot of early game OHKOs. Picking up an OHKO as fast as you can with Charizard lets the G-Max Wildfire damage rack up on the rest of the team, taking out a greater percentage of the remaining health left when you are chipping away at 3 mons instead of 4. Also, extra damage being done to threats like Togekiss (which can Yawn), Rotom-Wash, and even Tyranitar (if it's chipped into Overgrowth range) from G-Max Wildfire lets you pick up a significant amount of KOs that you otherwise would be missing.

Hitmontop (M) @ Coba Berry
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 36 Atk / 60 Def / 156 SpD / 20 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Close Combat
– Bullet Punch
– Fake Out
– Wide Guard / Helping Hand
  • Lou's Change – Item is Black Belt. 68 HP / 252 Atk / 188 Spe. Helping Hand over Wide Guard. Everything else is the same.
  • 252 SpA Solar Power Charizard Max Airstream (140 BP) vs. 236 HP / 156 SpD Coba Berry Hitmontop in Sun: 127-150 (81.9 - 96.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252 Atk Life Orb Dragapult Max Airstream (130 BP) vs. 236 HP / 60 Def Coba Berry Hitmontop: 88-105 (56.7 - 67.7%) – guaranteed 2HKO
I wanted my Hitmontop to take attacks, so I put the minimum amount of EVs into Attack, gave it some Speed EVs, and put the rest in its bulk. Hitmontop allows me to safely lead Charizard into Tyranitar matchups and play accordingly. The cool interaction Hitmontop has with Tyranitar is the ability to self proc the Weakness Policy on Tyranitar when I need to. It comes in handy when dealing with G-Max Lapras or Dusclops.

Lou: The differences between the two Hitmontop used probably shows the biggest example of how much I (Lou) can be a psychopath when it comes to building. Firstly, the idea to put on Hitmontop was pitched by Jakob Swilley, and it ended up being the glue that held the first version of the team together with Ninetales Charizard, and actually was used to great effect over Venusaur. Because of the heavyweight put on Hitmontop's shoulders in KOing Tyranitar, it felt proper to try and outspeed Adamant Tyranitar and find a way for it to KO it even if it Dynamaxed, which this 252+ Black Belt spread does most of the time, needing a tiny bit of chip damage (that G-Max Wildfire usually provides) to get the extremely bulky Tyranitar variants. Since this was Hitmontop's main function for this version of the team, it was never really adapted for much else, and I became so reliant and comfortable on that Dynamax Tyranitar KO that I was hesitant to change the spread for anything else.

Where the psychopathy comes into play is foregoing Wide Guard for Helping Hand, as in practice I realized I was hardly using Wide Guard at all, but Helping Hand could keep Top from becoming completely useless on the field, which is something that happens a lot of the time, once it fulfills its role of smacking Tyranitar. My thought process was that if I really needed to, I could just hard bluff the Wide Guard anyways at the end of the day, and essentially exert the pressure of Wide Guard while saving Helping Hand as a surprise boost that could win me games, giving me the best of both worlds. In my Champions Cup run where I went 7-2, I bluffed Wide Guard successfully once against Tyranitar Togekiss forcing it to Dynamax as I Max Guarded Charizard and switched to Indeedee-F, letting me redirect the now single target Max Rockfalls. I only missed having Wide Guard on one other occasion and ended up using Helping Hand to capitalize on reading switches and picking up KOs countless times.

Female Sprite
Indeedee-F (F) @ Safety Googles
Ability: Psychic Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 236 HP / 196 Def / 4 SpA / 44 SpD / 28 Spe
Bold Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psychic
– Follow Me
– Helping Hand
– Protect
  • 252 Atk Life Orb Dragapult Max Wyrmwind (130 BP) vs. 236 HP / 196+ Def Indeedee-F: 136-161 (77.7 - 92%) – guaranteed 2HKO
  • 252+ Atk Tyranitar Crunch vs. 236 HP / 196+ Def Indeedee-F: 152-182 (86.8 - 104%) – 25% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Hydreigon Dark Pulse vs. 236 HP / 44 SpD Indeedee-F: 134-162 (76.5 - 92.5%) – guaranteed 2HKO
Indeedee-F is such a good Pokémon. It helps support Tyranitar in many ways. Blocking Mach Punch from Conkeldurr is a big one. I made my Indeedee-F hit 109 speed to give off the illusion that my Tyranitar is slow, and also outspeed most 108-speed Togekiss to potentially finish them off with a Psychic. It also helps break Focus Sashes so Tyranitar can get the KO. Indeedee-F provides support for Charizard as well with Helping Hand and redirecting attacks.

Excadrill @ Air Balloon
Ability: Sand Rush
Level: 50
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– High Horsepower
– Iron Head
– Rock Slide
– Swords Dance
  • Lou's Change – Item is Focus Sash. Everything else is the same.
Air Balloon Excadrill is something I’ve liked to use, so I tried it out here. It’s a decent item, but I think a Focus Sash is much better here. Indeedee-F redirecting attacks allows me to set up Swords Dance and wreak havoc from there. I don’t run Protect because I like the extra coverage Rock Slide provides, most notably against Babiri Berry Togekiss and Rotom. I’m able to bring Excadrill without having to Dynamax it, which was a key factor in choosing Excadrill over Durant.

Super Size
Gourgeist-Super @ Figy Berry
Ability: Frisk
Level: 50
EVs: 244 HP / 76 Atk / 188 SpD
Adamant Nature
IVs: 0 Spe
– Seed Bomb
– Phantom Force
– Trick-or-Treat
– Trick Room

I would like to publicly thank Uncle Lou for putting me on Gourgeist because I legitimately think it was the MVP of the team. Gourgeist helps deal with the Water-types that threaten the team like Primarina. The Ghost coverage helps as well since I can always Dynamax Gourgeist if I need to or if the opponent’s team can’t handle Defense drops. The option to Trick Room comes in handy in end games where I have Tyranitar out against faster Pokémon. It’s also useful in reversing Trick Room, which came into play a couple of times. What puts Gourgeist over the top is its signature move Trick-or-Treat. Adding the Ghost typing to Tyranitar turns the Conkeldurr matchup completely around, forcing it to use its coverage attacks. Trick-or-Treat can also be used offensively, allowing Tyranitar to land super-effective Crunches. Gourgeist is an extremely underrated Pokémon. 

Lou made the decision to run Insomnia on Gourgeist over Frisk mainly because of the Hypnosis/Coil Milotic matchup. Gourgeist is critical in dealing with Milotic, and even with its type advantages it sometimes finds itself in trouble not being able to dish out enough damage to Coil variants without another Pokémon still being around. Thankfully, Trick-or-Treat + Crunch, Seed Bombing to activate Tyranitar's Weakness Policy, Grassy Terrain from Charizard's Max Overgrowth, and G-Max Wildfire + Sand chip all provide the edge to dish out enough damage to deal with Milotic as long as you are putting yourself in the right positions. Additionally, you would be surprised at how often Dynamaxing Gourgeist is the play. This thing becomes insanely bulky with the Dynamax health buff, and being able to set up Grassy Terrain to boost its Grass-type attacks and get a little recovery, while also being able to stack Defense drops with Max Phantasm to set up powerful Tyranitar attacks is an incredibly undervalued benefit to this supportive, yet offensive Trick Room setter.

Playing the Team

There are a couple of viable leads that this team utilizes. To simplify things, your lead will almost always be your means of offense (Tyranitar, Charizard, or Excadrill) followed by your means of support (Hitmontop or Indeedee-F). Below are the three most common leads I use.

One of my favorite leads. I like to lead these two into Tyranitar matchups since Hitmontop puts immediate pressure on the Tyranitar. This lead focuses on dealing as much damage as possible and getting the G-Max Wildfire set up so that the partners in the back can come in and clean up.

I use this lead to deal with Trick Room teams such as Lapras stuff where I’m able to threaten heavy damage and potentially OHKO the opponent’s Dusclops with a Helping Hand-boosted Max Darkness. It’s also good against Sun teams since Indeedee-F can redirect the Sleep Powders from Venusaur and such.

I only lead Excadrill if I’m leading it with Indeedee-F. Follow Me + Swords Dance is a solid Turn One play if the opponent leads incorrectly or isn’t prepared for it. It’s also a good adjustment for game two if the opponent is expecting a Tyranitar or Charizard lead. Gourgeist is almost always brought in the back because the option to go for a late-game Trick Room is so useful. Many opponents will almost always bring their Water-types so saving Gourgeist for the end will help deal with those Water types. Reversing Trick Room is also a huge factor as to why I save Gourgeist for the end. The support it provides is too good to pass up.

Lou: I feel like the mode I end up bringing a majority of the time is Charizard + Indeedee-F and Gourgeist + Tyranitar in the back. This combination of Pokémon lets you threaten things with Helping Hand + G-Max Wildfire to pick up early KOs and really let G-Max Wildfire begin to rack up damage on the opposing team to help set up a late-game Trick Room sweep. The amount of damage output from G-Max Wildfire + Sand chip is devastating, and considering that a lot of times you are perfectly fine sacking Charizard to get Indeedee-F + Gourgeist next to each other to Follow Me and Trick Room and then sweep with Gourgeist + Tyranitar, those couple passive turns where that G-Max Wildfire damage is chipping things into KO range for an easy Trick Room sweep is absolutely vital. There are often times where Pokémon will be at below half health by the time Trick Room goes up, despite never having been hit by a single attack yet.

My Tournament Run

Round 1 – vs. D-Fresh

A team with two Water-types and Arcanine support was pretty tricky to play against. I had to be careful with my moves and make sure my mons were well preserved. I won game one by getting the Trick-or-Treat off on Tyranitar, dodging Conkeldurr’s Drain Punch. Game 3 I brought it down to a 3v1, his Drapion vs my three Pokémon. I had lost my Tyranitar and I had Indeedee-F, Gourgeist, and Hitmontop at half health. I had to position my Pokémon around carefully so I could maintain pressure on it.

Result: WLW | Record: 1-0

Round 2 – vs. Fevzi Özkan (Fevzi)

I was not expecting to pull a beast player by Round 2, but I had to keep myself focused. The Corviknight was definitely going to be a problem so I knew I wanted to have Charizard in there somewhere to deal with the Corviknight. Game 1, I get a Trick-or-Treat off on his Corviknight so I can get a Crunch off with Tyranitar and KO it to win the game. Game 2, Fevzi Dynamaxed his Corviknight and started setting up Speed boosts and a Defense boost. I led Tyranitar and Indeedee-F because I didn’t think he would bring Corviknight after how Game 1 went. His Grimmsnarl was able to set up Reflect so I had to deal with that for 8 turns. I brought the game down to his Corviknight vs my Excadrill, Hitmontop, and Indeedee-F. I had to set up multiple Swords Dances with Excadrill to deal with the Corviknight since I didn’t bring Charizard. He helped seal the game by hitting Hitmontop with a +2 Brave Bird and not KOing thanks to Coba Berry.

Result – WW | Record – 2-0

Round 3 – vs. PowerMagno

I found my team to perform really well against these types of teams in particular. My game plan is to bring Indeedee-F and Charizard with Gourgeist and Tyranitar in the back. My opponent’s Dragapult had Dragon Dance so I had to be careful with my plays. I won Game 1 because my opponent’s Arcanine missed its Snarl on my Charizard who was at 14 HP, allowing it to get one last Heat Wave off before Tyranitar and Gourgeist came in to clean up. Excadrill was able to power through the team in Game 2 since my opponent didn’t bring Arcanine.

Result: WW | Record: 3-0

Round 4 – vs. Mattie Morgan (MattieMoo)

This was my favorite set from this weekend, maybe one of the best sets I’ve had. Game 1 he leads Incineroar and Lapras vs my Hitmontop and Tyranitar lead. My game plan was to self Bullet Punch, which would have covered an Incineroar Dusclops lead. After Tyranitar’s Dynamax is over I leave his Lapras within Rock Slide range. He KOs my Hitmontop with Lapras, setting up the rain. I bring in Indeedee-F. There was a crucial moment in the game where his Conkeldurr Detects on the last turn of Psychic Terrain, which allows me to get the Trick-or-Treat on Tyranitar. Once the Conkeldurr went down I thought Game 1 was mine, but he almost brought it back. In Trick Room Mattie self Pain Splits to bring his Incineroar from red to yellow health, allowing it to live a Phantom Force from Gourgeist and Crunch from Tyranitar. I was able to reverse Trick Room and KO the Incineroar and the Dusclops.

Game 2 he leads Mimikyu and Conkeldurr vs my same lead. I start by switching out Tyranitar for Gourgeist and I Bullet Punch his Mimikyu as it sets up Trick Room. He goes for Max Knuckle on Hitmontop which was a good read on his part. I catch him off guard by Dynamaxing my Gourgeist and KOing Mimikyu with Max Phantasm. We both made some really good plays on each other. At one point in the game, I reverse his Trick Room as he tries to set it up. The game again comes down to Incineroar and Dusclops vs Tyranitar and Gourgeist. Incineroar KOs itself by KOing Gourgeist with Flare Blitz. I was able to stall out Trick Room and KO Dusclops with two Crunches. This set had a lot going on to fully describe, but let me tell you that it was a super intense match. Mattie can confirm.

Result: WW | Record: 4-0

Round 5 – vs. Justin Carris (Azazel)

I was excited about this matchup. Justin bodied me at Dallas Regionals in 2018. He shared his approach to team-building with me shortly after and inspired me to create my own unique and effective team back then. Over time I have gotten better and better so this match to me was a chance to show myself how far I have come. I had watched Wolfe Glick’s Coalossal Team Report video the day he uploaded it, so I had an idea of the moves and items Carris potentially had. Game 1 I blow through his Coalossal and Dragapult lead by switching in Tyranitar for Indeedee-F and landing Max Quake on his Coalossal. Turn 2 he brings in Conkeldurr and Dynamaxes it to go for Max Knuckle on Tyranitar, which got switched out for Gourgeist. After turn 3 he forfeits since I was able to get the Trick-or-Treat off on Excadrill. Game 2 I actually Dynamaxed the Gourgeist to stack Defense drops on his Pokémon. This game was a little closer than the first game, but I was still able to pull it off for the 2-0 victory. I was feeling really good after this round.

Result: WW | Record: 5-0

Round 6 – vs. Andrej Siefried (Levi)

Having run something similar to this team, I already had an idea of how the team plays. I discovered through Gourgeist that Excadrill has a Weakness Policy so I tried to play around the Excadrill a bit. Incineroar had Taunt, which made things difficult for Indeedee-F, but I was able to win both games despite these neat techs. I actually Dynamaxed Gourgeist yet again to win Game 2.

Result – WW | Record – 6-0

Round 7 – vs. Adrien Hurley (ColdingLight)
ninetales Victory Road

My first loss of the tournament. My opponent's team was pretty hard to stop. Game 1 he leads Venusaur and Dusclops vs my Indeedee-F and Tyranitar lead. He called me not going for Follow Me, despite him knowing that I had Safety Goggles on Indeedee-F to redirect Sleep Powder, so he lands Sleep Powder on Tyranitar, allowing his Dusclops to set up Trick Room. He wins Game 1 with Rhyperior and Conkeldurr in the back. Game 2 he leads the same lead vs my Indeedee-F and Excadrill lead. He foregoes Sleep Powder and attacks Indeedee-F, KOing it by turn 2. Dusclops burns my Excadrill turn 3 and by then there was no hope of winning. Rhyperior finished off the set by KOing my Tyranitar.

Result: LL | Record: 6-1

Round 8 – vs. Nessa

The team immediately looked like it struggled against Swords Dance Excadrill so that was my game plan going into this match. I set up Swords Dance and go to town Game 1. Game 2 they lead Togekiss and Excadrill vs my Indeedee-F and Excadrill lead. Knowing their Togekiss had Babiri Berry, I Helping Hand Max Rockfalled their Togekiss as their Excadrill went for Swords Dance. Turn 2 I won the speed tie and KOd their Excadrill with Max Quake, which was huge because otherwise their Excadrill would’ve KOd my Indeedee-F with Max Steelspike and would have lived my Max Quake. Just like that I win the set and have made the Top Cut for the Victory Road Challenge.

Result: WW | Record: 7-1

Round 9 – vs. Shohei Kimura (Zeen)

I think I simply crashed after locking in my top cut spot. I could’ve played this match a lot better. Despite knowing how to play against this team I led incorrectly both games. My opponent outplayed me throughout the set as well so shout out to them. I can see how they finished in 2nd place. I was a little upset that I had to play an extra round to make it into Top 16, but I was confident in myself and in my team.

Result: LL | Record: 7-2 (Advances to Top Cut)

Top 24 – vs. Alex Della Pasqua

My first game of the day and I had to be on my absolute best. My opponent led Togekiss and Dusclops both games, which meant he got guaranteed Trick Room set up. Game 1 I bring in Charizard to take care of their Escavalier and win, but I drop Charizard in game 2 thinking they will leave Escavalier on the bench. Game 2 was pretty close and came down to Tyranitar vs Dusclops. I manage to land a critical hit with Crunch on their Dusclops to seal the set, which definitely mattered as their Dusclops was likely to live otherwise.

Result: WW

Top 16 – vs. Nico Davide Cognetta (Desu)

This matchup was a pretty tough one; and one that I can’t quite remember, unfortunately. Desu beats me clean Game 1. Game 2 he misses a Rock Slide on my Charizard, which allowed me to live and get some more attacks off. I wound up winning Game 2. I noticed that my opponent wasn’t bringing Primarina or Ferrothorn, so I banked on that for Game 3 by leaving Charizard on the bench, which actually paid off as he didn’t bring Primarina or Ferrothorn yet again. I was able to win Game 3 rather cleanly this time, locking me in for Top 8.

Result: LWW

Top 8 – vs. Szymon Wojdat (Szymoninho)

Oh boy, this team again. This matchup was a lot more annoying because of the Arcanine doing the things it does. I narrowly win Game 1. Game 2 he adjusts to an Arcanine and Dusclops lead, which helped him set up Trick Room reliably. Game 2 he had brought Ferrothorn so I knew I was going to need Charizard for Game 3. I managed to safely switch in Charizard as he switched in Ferrothorn. I choose to not call the obvious switch into Primarina so I G-Max Wildfire the Ferrothorn slot, which switched out into Primarina. He Dynamaxes the Primarina and I go for Max Overgrowth, but I whiff the KO by a small amount. Instead of attacking with Tyranitar, I switched it out for Indeedee-F, which was a fatal mistake as his Primarina was able to KO my Charizard with Max Geyser. With Tyranitar burned and Gourgeist in the back, I was destined to lose this set, ending my run with a Top 8 finish.

Result: WLL (8th Place Overall)


I’m thankful to Lou for helping me discover how good this team is. The team is really fun to use and it’s definitely got a lot going for it. I used this exact team to qualify for the Player’s Cup so it’s still a strong team. I’m not sure how I would improve the team since every single move and item comes into play rather frequently. There are a few different variations between how Lou and I decided to run the team in regards to some item and EV choices, but we both agree that it would be difficult to try and replace any one Pokémon on the team for another that could pull more weight. However, there may be a few more unique strategies that could be explored to abuse G-Max Wildfire and Sand damage, and maybe different teams could be formed by branching out with those ideas utilizing some insanely bulky Pokémon like Dusclops, and potentially a different Fighting-type like Conkeldurr.


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