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Return of the King: A Nidoking Revival in 2018

Howdy folks, today I’m taking a look at the team that I took to the January 20 Midseason Showdown at Mississippi State and (with slight modifications) Regionals in Collinsville Illinois. I had a great run at the MSS finishing in top 4 with a loss there to my own misplays, but a middling run at regionals finishing 4-4 after starting 4-0. Despite that, I definitely chalk up most of my losses to a lack of practice and poor playing and definitely think this team still has strong match ups against a lot of popular team archetypes. Check out the Pokepaste below to see the team, and read on for full details. A QR rental team is also provided if you prefer to jump in to battle on cart.


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The Team:

Nidoking @ Life Orb

Ability: Sheer Force

Shiny: Yes

EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe

Timid Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Sludge Bomb

- Ice Beam

- Earth Power

- Protect

In Generation 7 many more Fairies were added to the metagame as top tier threats, so I find a Fairy killer to be a strong pick for any team. In 2015 I used a Choice Scarf version of Nidoking to blow up many common threats at the time, but this year I feel that the Scarf variant lacks just a little extra oomph that you need to get some KOs. With a Life Orb Nidoking is able to nab some huge OHKOs on many common Pokemon in the meta as well as 2HKO most things that he can hit neutrally. Positioning is important with this ‘mon, as while he is an offensive power house capable of ending lives, Nidoking is also quite frail himself. As such the team carries a ton of speed control to help Nidoking hit first.

To anyone doubting the offensive power of Nidoking, I think these calcs can speak for themselves:

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Ice Beam vs. 252 HP / 60 SpD Assault Vest Landorus-T: 198-234 (101 - 119.3%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Shuca Berry Heatran: 187-221 (94.4 - 111.6%) -- 68.8% chance to OHKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Tapu Fini: 156-187 (88.1 - 105.6%) -- 31.3% chance to OHKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Sludge Bomb vs. 252 HP / 20 SpD Tapu Lele: 174-205 (98.3 - 115.8%) -- 87.5% chance to OHKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Earth Power vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Metagross: 182-218 (116.6 - 139.7%) -- guaranteed OHKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Sludge Bomb vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Mega Charizard Y: 87-103 (56.8 - 67.3%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

252 SpA Life Orb Sheer Force Nidoking Sludge Bomb vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Kangaskhan: 99-117 (54.6 - 64.6%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

Kartana @ Focus Sash

Ability: Beast Boost

Shiny: Yes

EVs: 132 HP / 180 Atk / 196 Spe

Adamant Nature

- Tailwind

- Leaf Blade

- Detect

- Sacred Sword

The origami sword returns new and improved in VGC ‘18. I chose Kartana for a few reasons, first because 181 Atk is just way too fucking juicy for me to overlook, and second because it offers Tailwind which I really like having on an offensive ‘mon. I like keeping pressure on my opponents and being able to capitalize on them having to play defensively in order to get a Tailwind up to give the rest of the team a boost. Kartana functions well at removing bulky Water-types that Tyranitar and Nidoking can’t really damage, as well as making a great check to Mega Kangaskhan, and deleting any opposing Tyranitar. Sacred Sword also functions as a great check to Chansey bullshit teams. Speaking of Chansey, the EV spread on this Kartana gives it 151 HP, making Seismic Toss a 4HKO, which is something I teched in the morning of the tournament just in case. While it didn’t really cost me much at this tournament, I do think in the future I will want more speed. Currently Kartana outspeeds neutral base 100s, which seemed good enough at the time, but I’ll have to take a closer look at it if I continue to use this team.

For your viewing pleasure, here is a replay of Kartana dunking on Chansey: (this is a slightly older version of the team, but Kartana would function the same in any case, so there you go.)

Tyranitar @ Tyranitarite

Ability: Sand Stream

EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe

Jolly Nature

- Dragon Dance

- Protect

- Rock Slide

- Crunch

I started looking at Tyranitar because in my opinion Charizard Y is the ‘mon to beat this year, and Tyranitar absolutely stunts on Charizard. After a lot of playing with different sets, I settled on Mega Tyranitar for a few reasons. The first, and most important, reason for opting to run the Mega set is because Mega Tyranitar has all those bad-ass looking spikes that pair nicely with Nidoking for a sick bad-ass metal aesthetic. Besides general badassery, Mega Tyranitar packs a punch backed by some incredible bulk. It’s special bulk is further augmented by the sandstorm it summons thanks to its ability. The combination of bulk and raw power can put Tyranitar in a position where it can claim a win even when facing down 2 or 3 opposing Pokemon single handedly. Dragon Dance boosts Tyranitar’s already impressive Attack and gives it the speed to outrun Mega Gengar and Tapu Koko, and is a great move to use to punish double Protects on the last turn of Tailwind. While I often prefer to have redirection as an option to help support set up, I find that on this team I am able to threaten enough damage from Tyranitar’s partner for it to be able to safely set up anyways.

Cresselia @ Wiki Berry

Ability: Levitate

EVs: 252 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpD

Calm Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Icy Wind

- Helping Hand

- Trick Room

- Psychic

Cresselia finds itself on this team as one of few checks to Trick Room, using the move only to reverse Trick Room after my opponent sets it. However, Cresselia is certainly not a one trick pony. It has strong bulk to sit on the field for a good long while, and can get chip damage with Icy Wind while providing crucial speed control for Nidoking and Tyranitar, as well as use Helping Hand to push the damage to ranges needed for KOs. This can be particularly helpful for getting a Beast Boost sweep going for Kartana. Originally I had tried Reflect over Psychic, but found that Cresselia was rarely in a position where getting Reflect up was better than something else it could be doing, so I ditched that and went for Psychic for some general damage and as an option when Cresselia has outlived everything else on my team for it to have a chance to close out the game.

Zapdos @ Electrium Z

Ability: Pressure

EVs: 60 HP / 252 SpA / 196 Spe

Modest Nature

IVs: 0 Atk

- Thunderbolt

- Heat Wave

- Tailwind

- Hidden Power [Ice]

Zapdos offers a bulkier Tailwind setter, though it isn’t lacking in offense thanks to Electrium Z giving it a powerful nuke. This set outspeeds Adamant Landorus, making it easier for me to check for Landorus that would outspeed my Nidoking with ability activation order. It then has maximum Special Attack to get the most out of Gigavolt Havoc, with the remaining EVs dumped in HP. I used a set with Roost over Heat Wave or Hidden Power Ice in testing, however I could never fully decide which coverage move I wanted more as I always felt like I wanted the one I didn’t have at any given time. Additionally, I often felt that once Zapdos had set up a Tailwind and fired off a Gigavolt Havoc, I wanted it off the field to bring in a different threat, as at that point Zapdos had done its job, so the longevity of Roost often felt counter productive to what I wanted Zapdos to do.

Incineroar @ Assault Vest

Ability: Blaze

EVs: 156 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 92 Spe

Adamant Nature

- Fake Out

- Flare Blitz

- Knock Off

- U-turn

The Incineroar slot on this team was an Entei until the night before the tournament when I was getting everything together on cartridge in my hotel room. I looked at the team and decided I wanted a more reliable way to prevent Trick Room, something that could eat Charizard’s hits, and could deal with Ferrothorn who is a massive pain in the ass for Nidoking, Tyranitar, and Kartana to deal damage to. Fake Out appealed to me as well as Fire STAB, so I threw Incineroar on the team without having tested it at all, based entirely on having seen it used to some success by other players at other tournaments. Let me tell you, Incineroar absolutely lives up the the hype. Incineroar was able to take hits well for an otherwise not very bulky team. He was able to facilitate setting up Tailwind or Dragon Dance thanks to Fake Out. He was able to let me fix some positioning with U-Turn. All around, I would say Incineroar turned the little used Entei slot (that was there really just to be a Fire-type) into a highly valuable member of the team. As far as EVs go, Incineroar outspeeds Mega Metagross when under Tailwind, as well as outspeeding uninvested base 70s by a fairly wide margin to allow it to Fake Out ahead of Hitmontop. It has max attack because Flare Blitz just deals damage, with the rest put in HP with 4 in each defensive stat to get the most stat points out of the EVs.