Preparing for battle – The 2017 International Challenge for February

I put a lot of pomp and circumstance around my entry (or lack thereof) in the Pokémon Sun and Moon Alola Friendly battle competition when it came around last month.  With Pokémon standing in pretty consistently as my favorite video game series, competitive team building and battling has been one of the things that has helped elongate my interest and playtime since I began to do it in Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

Of course, I’d been planning on trying out a team in the Alola Friendly competition, but I missed the registration window.

Luckily, the 2017 International Challenge for February has a prize worthy enough to encourage me to remember to register on time this time.  For participating, players get access to the Mega Stones for Mawile and Beedrill, which up until now have been unavailable in Generation 7.

Mega Mawile happens to be my favorite Mega Evolved Pokémon, so I jumped on the opportunity to get those stones right away:

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-11-23-08-am

See?  Totally signed up this time.

Given that the 2017 International Challenge for February is a doubles battle competition, I decided to breed a whole new team just for the occasion.  I do have a wonderful combination sitting in my box with Wishiwashi and a Speed Swap using Ribombee, but I didn’t have a lot else to work alongside them.

Therefore I built a squad around a doubles combination I wanted to try, and I’m actually pretty proud of how it turned out.  Again, it might not be smart to give my strategy away ahead of time… But I also just love to gush about these things.  So here goes anyway!


Big Chungus

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My Elective is actually the first Pokémon I have competitively built that I didn’t personally name.  I was a little stuck on just what to call him and let my friend Juan name him instead.  Thus, Big Chungus was born.

It’s grown on me, admittedly.

This Pokémon was the reason I initially wanted to build this specific doubles team in the first place.  I had the idea of running a Motor Drive Pokémon holding a Cell Battery so I could get both an attack and a speed boost at the same time.  Combined with a Discharge user, I figured he could become a real beast in the field.

But of course I never decided to look up this strategy online ahead of time.  If I did, I would’ve found out that Motor Drive absorbs the Electric-type attacks before they can do things like activate items.  So that strategy kind of flew out the window.

While this development was disappointing, it didn’t lessen my zeal to build a powerful Big Chungus to sweep away the competition.  He still gets a speed boost from Discharge and now has the chance to hold a berry so he can heal some health when knocked down a few pegs.  By using a consumable item like this, I still have the opportunity to play with Thief and steal the items of opponents once it’s gone – the plan I had going for Cell Battery use as well.

Thunder Punch serves as Electivire’s primary STAB attack while Ice Punch gives him an opportunity to take down pesky Ground-types that gets sent out (a particularly useful strategy against Pokémon like Garchomp).  Finally, Cross Chop gives him more of a super effective damage spread against Normal-types, Ice-types, Rock-types and Steel-types.

The crux of Big Chungus’ skills only really become fully apparent when combined with his partner, so I should probably introduce him too.  Thus, without further adieu:


Schnoz 

This protruding proboscis Pokémon, aptly deemed Schnoz, is my team’s Discharge dealing defensive wall and the proud partner of Big Chungus whenever I get the chance to use them.  While this is mainly because of discharge, other factors help contribute to that as well.

Firstly, Schnoz has Magnet Pull as his ability.  As a result, no Steel-types can switch out when he’s on the field.  This doesn’t mean a lot for Probopass himself, but it does mean that Electivire can spam some Cross Chops while they’re out together.  Other team members benefit from this magnetic pull as well, like a certain other monkey I’ve trained, but he really is meant to work with Big Chungus.

Wide Guard is another example as to why they’re meant to work together.  Even though the Air Balloon Schnoz holds allows him to dodge Ground-type attacks until hit, Wide Guard lets him block Earthquakes for both himself and his partner.

Let me tell you, it’s incredibly satisfying to block an Earthquake from a Garchomp that’s killed by Ice Punch that same turn.

Flash Cannon and Stealth Rocks finish off Schnoz’s moveset, giving him a pretty powerful STAB attack and another utility option to damage opponents as they switch into battle.

Like some of the other Pokémon I’m using on this team I’ve built, I never expected I would ever use a Probopass in my life.  In fact, I was pretty opposed to his overall design not too long ago.  Now that I know what he can do, particularly in conjunction with my big, strong electrical ape, I’ve come to like the mustachioed magnetic rock.

Or at least, I like seeing the two of them in battle together.  If it wasn’t weird to say it out loud, I might even say that the two are the flagship couple on my squad.

But it is pretty weird to say, so let’s move on shall we?


Capuchin 

This semester I’m taking a course on primate behavior at Cal State Fullerton.  It’s easily my favorite class that I’m taking right now and I could probably argue that it’s one of the most fun courses I’ve taken in college in general.  Something about the subject matter and the professor just really click together for me.

One thing I’ve learned through the class so far is that the Capuchin monkey has to be my favorite primate ever.  Not only are they cute, but their tool usage is pretty incredible to watch, and I still haven’t gotten tired of it.

Seriously, check it out:

That’s some really cool stuff.

Anyway, the reason I’ve gone on this little tangent about primates is because it happens to coincide perfectly with this particular team member, a Passimian simply dubbed Capuchin.

Not only is there an intrinsic pun just in using a monkey name with ‘cap’ in it for a monkey wearing a shell like a hat, my Passimian likes to use stone tools as well.  His Hard Stone both improves his Rock Slide attack that hits both sides of the field and makes Fling a powerful 100 base power Dark-type move.

The Receiver ability works real well in a doubles battle setting as well, allowing Capuchin to steal his partner’s ability when they faint.  He could wind up able to absorb all Water or Electric-type attacks, he could gain an immunity to priority attacks, he could trap a Steel-type opponent against a Pokémon that’s super effective against them and more.

Really it’s just about a win-win no matter what he gets since a jolly speed-oriented heavy attacker is the monster in question.  I really do love having this team member around, and I’m looking forward to seeing him take some lives during the competition.


Tharja 

Tharja the Mandibuzz is essentially my main defensive wall.  While Schnoz fits that role pretty well too, Mandibuzz intrinsically has an immunity to Ground-type moves that balances the two weaknesses I have.

My strategy for using her is pretty simple honestly.  Knock Off and Brave Bird are strong STAB attacks with the prior also allowing me to nullify most of my opponent’s items.  Toxic is there so I can make use of the hefty bulk behind this bird in situations where those two attacks just won’t cut it.

Now Roost is where things get interesting.  With her hidden ability, Tharja gains two speed boosts at the cost of one defense stat debuff whenever she gets hit by a physical attack.  This boost compensates for her middle-tier base speed stat and helps her outspeed most opponents.

Once she’s that much faster, Z-Move Roost recovers her health AND replenishes her stat debuffs, making it so she has all the speed with none of the fallen defense.  It feels fantastic to pull it off on an opponent, especially if a Brave Bird or two can sweep up the rest of their side.  Plus, Z-Move Brave Bird can really pack a punch when I need to use it instead.

Before Tharja came along I never really imagined I’d ever use a Mandibuzz, but now I really dig what she can do.

Oh, and I figure I should add that she’s named after the Plegian mage from Fire Emblem Awakening because she has that darkness-and-death vibe going on.  Also because Fire Emblem Heroes has gotten me way back in the mood for any and all things Fire Emblem.

Seriously that game is like my current addiction.


Peach

Named after arguably the most famous princess in all of video game history, my Tsareena is here to kick ass and take names.

Literally.

Because kicking is her thing.

It’s a joke, see?

Anyway, moving on.  Tsareena actually wasn’t meant to be on this team I’ve built.  Originally I intended to run a Hyper Voice Sylveon thanks to the accessibility of the move via Poké Bank, but with this competition being limited to the Alola Pokédex I wasn’t sure whether I would be allowed to use a Pokémon with the pentagon icon indicating origins in Generation 6.

So, in came Tsareena as a replacement.  Not only is she strong against Ground-types (which I apparently felt was something I needed to correct against), she has quite a few weaknesses to make use of a Weakness Policy alongside her immunity to priority attacks and her diverse move pool.

Plus Trop Kick is just great.  I had quite a few experiences while practicing where I would lower the attack stat of a Pokémon using a super effective move and get a sweet stat boost as a result.  Pretty solid strategy also courtesy of my friend Juan.

Tsareena’s moves round out with Acupressure, which is more of a gimmick I was looking to try out in the moment.  Rapid Spin may have been smarter, but I like the idea of being able to strengthen my other Pokémon during a calm moment.  Hopefully the random nature of Acupressure doesn’t wind up screwing me over.


Nessie 

Like Tharja and Peach before her, my Lapras (named after the infamous Loch Ness monster) has a rather simple role on this team.  She’s the strong special attack wall to balance out the more physically oriented group around her.  With 237 HP and a 161 special defense stat (boosted to about 240 or so thanks to her Assault Vest), it’s pretty hard to take her down.

She even lived against a Thunder in the rain from a Tapu Koko during one of the practice battles I did.  It’s nuts.

Past her amazing walling status, Nessie also has a pretty wide typing coverage.  Hydro Pump is STAB and hits Fire, Ground and Rock-types.  Freeze Dry is also STAB and hits Flying, Grass, Dragon, Ground and specifically Water-types.  Dragon Pulse hits Dragon-types and isn’t resisted by much.  Finally, Psychic hits Fighting and Poison-types.

I’d considered running Perish Song as a way to take down Pokémon that are trapped by either Magnet Pull or a Mean Look from Schnoz, but I preferred having the walling capabilities that only an Assault Vest can bring.

I also decided to run Nessie with Water Absorb rather than Shell Armor so that I can switch her in whenever I’m expecting a Water-type attack to come my way, even if I’m stuck with taking potential critical hits as a result.

Though she has no particular gimmick, Nessie really rounds out my team well.  Her strength and attacks are solid all around and make her a good Pokémon to bring out for a wide variety of situations.

I’ve always loved Lapras, and I’m glad to finally get the chance to help her shine.


Tonight is the last night to register for the 2017 International Challenge for February, and battles will go underway throughout the weekend.  I’ll be keeping a log of how I do and there will probably be an update on that coming by Monday or so… Assuming the world doesn’t fall apart in the newsroom again like it did this last week.

While I’m really looking forward to putting this team to work, I’m also always looking for more ideas to build in the future.  If you have any comments about my team and how it shapes up or if you have any teams in mind you want to see built, I’d love to hear any and all of it!

Good ideas are never a bad thing to stockpile, I’d say.

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