Going into the Players Cup 2 qualifier I knew that my best personal plan of action would be to play an established, high tier archetype that I was comfortable with, opposed to building a best of 1 heavy team. I mostly felt this way as I did the opposite in the first players cup qualifier and I believe it was an unsafe thing to do again. This was a problem when the tournament was first announced as we thought it would be series 6 so my first 48 hours was spent playing a lot of different rental teams as I didn’t have any teams I had comfort in for series 6. But then shortly after TPCI announced that this tournament would be series 5, leaving a lot of the community upset. However knowing I would be playing series 5 I felt my qualification would be almost locked up before it even begins as I was way more comfortable with series 5 than 6.
So when first deciding the team I would want to start building from I narrowed it down to either the JoeUX9 sand, or a variant of TheBattleRoom’s streamer’s cup 2 team. After a few days of testing it became obvious that I was more knowledgeable and more comfortable with sand so I decided to test with the sand team full force for the qualifier unless I magically found “the team”.
I immediately began playing tons of games everyday on pokemonshowdown with the sand team and after playing 50+ games or so with full notes I immediately noticed I wasn’t bringing Dragapult to many games. Dragapult seemed very powerful vs a lot of the matchups but for some reason despite my months of Dragapult practice, I was unable to get him to work successfully more than 2/10 games with this team. At first I questioned if this should be my starting point as most sand teams have Dragapult and I wasn’t confident in the teams performance without it.
After a day of testing other teams again it was obvious that I was just better with sand and should stick with it and improve it to my liking.
So with that in mind I began searching for replacements by first removing Dragapult from my team and playing games with just the 5 remaining so I could truly find what the team was weak to and what role the 6th Pokémon needed to fill. After a day of testing I found that the biggest problems I needed to fix: I had very weak answers to a well played Incineroar, the team was very fighting weak without Dragapult, and Whimsicott tailwind teams would out speed and KO my mons easily.
I went through every Pokémon my testing group and I could think of with almost no success outside of fixing one of the matchups in question so I won’t mention any of them. However, eventually I did come across the perfect fit, a good friend of mine through the 2020 year, Braviary. Braviary provided me with a strong answer for the switching playstyle that Incineroar liked to follow as well as gave me a tailwind user to match opposing tailwind that also doubles as a huge offensive threat, and I immediately saw greater success in those matchups previously mentioned.
My very first tournament with Braviary over Dragapult was a Mt.Silver weekly, the first series 5 weekly they had run since series 6 started. During that event I went 4-2 in easily making the top 16 cut, then going 4-0 to win the whole event. Through the whole tournament there was a very common narrative, “Braviary is broken.”
Throughout the rest of this week multiple players where hosting in game tournaments similar to the qualifier to provide the community with practice. Despite not being able to participate in more than 1 of these practice tournaments, I ended up taking first in @temporalVGC’s PC2 practice tour, ending with a score of 11-2. With both of these tournament wins under my belt I was feeling very confident in my play, and the team’s ability to perform.
At this point there was only about a week until the qualifier would be live, and I was so confident in myself and my team that I stopped testing new ideas and locked in this team as the team I would be using in the qualifier.
Braviary @ Lum Berry
EVs: 124 HP / 68 Atk / 100 Def / 12 SpD / 204 Spe
– Brave Bird
– Close Combat
– Rock Slide
The star of the show. Braviary was a great comfort pick for me as I also used him in the regional portion of Players Cup 1. Defiant is an amazing ability as it limits your opponents switching and lead options, while also taking full advantage of having two redirection users on the team and getting free boosts from moves like Max Phantasm, and Max Wyrmwind. I chose lum berry as it gave me a concrete answer to Venusaur as well as helped me eat thunder waves, yawns and will-o-wisp which would be aimed at Braviary consistently. The speed stat allows me to out speed max speed Cinderace at +1. The HP/Def were to survive any Cinderace attack so I could always get a tailwind off if needed. The rest was up into attack.
252 Atk Life Orb Cinderace Max Flare (140 BP) vs. 124 HP / 100 Def Braviary: 160-188 (83.7 – 98.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Tyranitar (M) @ Weakness Policy
Ability: Sand Stream
EVs: 252 HP / 124 Atk / 44 Def / 4 SpD / 84 Spe
– Rock Slide
– Lash Out
Tyranitar is a pretty straight forward Pokémon but is the best Pokémon to fill his roll. I enjoyed having the option to set up my own weather to override opponents sun, as well as have a very bulky dynamax Pokémon that sometimes has the option to get double attack and just sweep. The synergy with Excadrill was also great giving me another pseudo speed control option in the sand. I chose lash out over crunch for opposing Porygon-Z, and Dragapult. 84 Speed allows Tyranitar to out speed max speed Amoonguss aka “turbo shroom” Max HP for maximum bulk when dynamaxing, 124 Attack hits the bump and the last 44 dumped into def for extra bulk in addition to the special defense boost sandstorm provides.
Amoonguss (M) @ Coba Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 100 Def / 156 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Sludge Bomb
– Rage Powder
Amoonguss was almost removed for Rillaboom many times in the process of building this team however it was my only way of dealing with the bulldoze + weakness policy combo you see on trick room teams so often by sporing them before they get their +2 attack off. The spread was stolen from a Japanese rental team I was using previous to series 6 starting. I was very comfortable with this spread and with the switching playstyle I like to focus Amoonguss around paired with regenerator, and coba berry, I saw little reason to do specific calcs and rather use a spread I know is effective for me.
Incineroar (M) @ Safety Goggles
EVs: 252 HP / 12 Atk / 148 Def / 84 SpD / 12 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Parting Shot
Incineroar paired with Amoonguss allows you to really slow down the pace of the game and make your opponent play your game. I chose snarl over protect as I expected hatterene + indeedee-f leads to be common and I like the turn 1 snarl to prevent huge damage to any of my Pokémon in the back from expanding force. 12 speed allows me to out speed Urshifu after tailwind, and I added 8 extra EVs in attack to make it 12 EVs which allows me to get much better rolls vs GMax Venusaur in sun. 252hp/148def is to always live a -1 High Jump Kick from a Cinderace when at full health so that I could safely switch in Incineroar into opposing Cinderace. Rest dumped into SpDef
-1 252 Atk Life Orb Libero Cinderace High Jump Kick vs. 252 HP / 148 Def Incineroar: 166-198 (82.1 – 98%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Togekiss (F) @ Scope Lens
Ability: Super Luck
EVs: 212 HP / 4 Def / 76 SpA / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Air Slash
– Dazzling Gleam
– Follow Me
Best Pokémon in the format since day 1 of series 1 in my opinion. Togekiss added so much to the team that it didn’t just have one role, it was the glue that made this team operational. Flamethrower was crucial over protect or yawn as Togekiss was my only real answer to Ferrothorn and Corviknight if they start getting defense boosts. The spread is simple, 212 speed to out speed my Braviary by 1 so they could both out speed Cinderace but not speed tie each other, 76 Satk hits the bump and the remainder was dumped into HP for maximum dmax bulk.
Excadrill (M) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Sand Rush
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Iron Head
– Swords Dance
I opted for sash on Excadrill over other items like life orb or joe’s lum berry to allow me to safely swords dance in most situations. Sash ended up single handedly winning me multiple games by just eating a max move, swords dancing then sweeping with earthquake next to Togekiss. Excadrill was never lead much unless next to Togekiss but he was in the back of most games waiting to clean up the rest of my opponents team.
How I Finished:
After lots of practice and mental strain, I finished the Player’s Cup Qualifier with a Record of 19-6 and landing with a ranking of 1664, 648th worldwide. I obviously had a lot of games left to climb higher, but considering the bar for qualification for NA during the first Players Cup, I was didn’t want to risk losing and tilt myself out of qualification once I hit a score I felt was safe. As I write this we are still waiting for the qualified players to be notified to see what the true bar for qualification was but I stay confident that I am qualified and that I played my best to get me there. I am working hard everyday in and out of the game to prepare myself to perform well in the Players Cup 2 but no matter the outcome what I promise is that I will give my full effort the entire time.
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