Aaron Zheng’s 1st Place Melbourne Challenge Team Report.



Aaron Zheng’s 1st Place Melbourne Challenge Team Report.

Japanese(日本語) English(英語)


Hey guys, Aaron “Cybertron” Zheng here and today I’m really excited to bring you a team report! Last weekend, I competed in an online grassroots tournament held by Sam Pandelis (@ZeldaVGC) called the Melbourne Challenge. The tournament had 171 participants and had players such as world champions Wolfe Glick and Arash Ommati. It also offered over $1500 in prize money to the winner. I planned on entering just to get some best-of-3 practice, but I was very happy to have won the entire tournament. This report will talk about my team and my team-building process.

Team Building Process

As some of you may know, I have a YouTube channel where I post videos daily for my series “Road to Ranked.” When it was time to use a new team, I wanted to try something different from my last team, which was very hyper-offensive (Pelipper/Golduck/Tapu Koko/Tapu Lele/Metagross/Kartana). At the time, the metagame was filled with bulky Pokémon such as Arcanine, Tapu Fini, and Kartana so I wanted to see if I could build a strong team around some of these Pokémon while also having a positive matchup against them.

After recording a video with 2x National Champion Francesco Pardini (@Alexis_VGC) for his YouTube channel, he mentioned that Alolan-Ninetales was a strong option because of its speed and ability to set up Aurora Veil. I hadn’t looked at Ninetales much before, but given the popularity of Garchomp, I thought it was a good suggestion. Thus, that became my starting point.

Next, I looked at Muk since my last team struggled against Trick Room, and more specifically, Porgyon 2. Muk is an incredible Pokémon in this metagame because of Gluttony, its ability to Knock Off items such as Porygon 2’s Eviolite, and great typing. Muk was a huge threat to my past team, and after losing to it many times, I decided to try it out.

Afterwards, I added Tapu Fini and Arcanine on the team. The main reason I added these two were because I thought they fit the team composition well and could take advantage of Aurora Veil. In addition, I had not used these Pokemon before, so I wanted to understand why they were so strong in the metagame. I chose Calm Mind Tapu Fini instead of Choice Specs because I really like being able to Protect in front of threats such as Kartana and Tapu Koko. I opted for a bulky Arcanine spread since Snarl is incredibly helpful in supporting Calm Mind Tapu Fini.

Finally, in the original version of the team, I added Porygon 2 and Alolan-Marowak. I think many people see Porygon 2 as a utility Pokemon that sets up Trick Room, but it is also incredibly strong offensively in the right positions. If you can get a Special Attack boost, you can really put out a lot of damage, especially against common metagame threats such as Garchomp and Kartana. I really liked having Tri Attack as well – having a Normal-type STAB attack is huge as you can deal good damage against a lot of Pokemon, especially frailer ones such as Tapu Koko. Since my team was relatively slow, Trick Room made sense. I threw on Alolan-Marowak as the 6th member, but after playing with the team, I felt very uncomfortable with it because I struggled to use it outside of Trick Room. Since I was also missing a Z-Move from my team, I thought that Garchomp with Groundium Z was a perfect final member.

After constructing the team, I played many games on YouTube with the team (Road to Ranked episodes 34-46). Since I entered the Melbourne Challenge last second and did not have a team that I liked a lot, I figured I would just use this team since it was strong and I wanted to play some best-of-3s with it. I made one change, replacing bulky Arcanine with a more offensive variant with the Electric Z Move. I struggled against Water-types while playing with the team, so having a way to OHKO threats such as Araquanid and Tapu Fini by surprise was very nice. I was very happy with my final team composition, and I was surprised by how well it performed in best-of-3 in the Melbourne Challenge!

Pokemon Details

PS: The nicknames for my Pokemon are from a TV show called Black Mirror – while I was home over winter break, I watched the entire series. It’s an incredible show!

White Christmas (Ninetales-Alola) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Snow Warning
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Blizzard
– Aurora Veil
– Freeze-Dry
– Protect

Like I mentioned, Alolan-Ninetales was my starting point. Ninetales does not have too many tricks up its sleeve, but it doesn’t really need to. Focus Sash is essential in setting up an Aurora Veil and getting multiple attacks off. Of course, it only made sense to go with a Timid nature and max Speed – this way, I outsped everything under the 109 speed tier and could at least speed tie with Kartana. Since I had a Focus Sash, there was little reason to have any bulk investment, so I put the rest of the EVs into Special Attack.

For the move set, I originally had Icy Wind instead of Freeze Dry on my YouTube team. While Icy Wind is a neat move, I think Freeze Dry was a more consistent option for this team. Having a way to deal some damage against Water-types such as Tapu Fini, Araquanid, and Gastrodon who otherwise wall me, was very important – I used Freeze Dry multiple times throughout my tournament run and even used it to OHKO a Gyarados early in the tournament. Since my team was relatively slow and I had Trick Room as an option for speed control, it was not necessary to have Icy Wind.

Ultimately, Ninetales was often used as a lead option. With a Focus Sash, it was a relatively safe option and Blizzard still threatens many Pokemon in the metagame, especially Garchomp. Setting up Aurora Veil was very important for Ninetales’s teammates…


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Competitive Pokémon VGC Player/Commentator. 4x Regional Champion. 2x National Champion. 7x Worlds Qualifier. 3rd at Worlds '13. YouTuber. Claremont McKenna '19.

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