Top Players, Top Pokémon #3: Matthew Roe (RoeyVGC) and Salamence

final megamence 4

Hello, Matthew! I hear that you like Salamence? Why do you like to use it competitively?

I like using Salamence due to its excellent combination of physical & special attacking prowess, backed by deceptively decent bulk (95/130/90) and a fantastic speed stat (Base 120).

Additionally; from an aesthetics point of view, it just looks cool!

Do you have a set that you’d like to share with us?

salamence-mega

Salamence @ Salamencite
Ability: Intimidate
Naïve Nature
EVs: 44 Attack / 212 Special Attack / 252 Speed
– Hyper Voice
– Double-Edge
– Protect
– Flamethrower

This is the Salamence set I’ve used for most of the year and is the set I’ve had the most success with. Naive is the preferred nature, as it subtracts from Salamence’s weaker Special Defense stat and allows it to get the most out of its fantastic speed stat. The EV spread gradually evolved over the 3-4 months I used this set – the spread listed is what I finally settled on post-worlds 2015, arguably the best for a mixed Salamence. Max Speed is a given while the Attack investment allows you to OHKO 252HP/4Def Mega Gardevoir and 252/252 Bold Amoonguss. The rest of the EVs are devoted to Special Attack to maximise the damage for Hyper Voice, rather than aiming for any specific damage benchmark. Do note however that Hyper Voice has a roughly 98% chance to 2HKO 4 HP/0 SDef Landorus-Therian. Anything noticeably less means that said Landorus is holding an Assault Vest: incredibly useful information. A combination of Hyper Voice + Double-Edge will 2HKO 4 HP/0 Def Mega Kangaskhan, something which Hyper Voice alone cannot achieve.

The first three moves are very self-explanatory. Hyper Voice and Double-Edge are Salamence’s best Special and Physical attacking options respectively and both receive the boost from its ability Aerialate. Protect is a necessity in VGC and allows Salamence to Mega-Evolve safely by allowing it to apply the speed boost it gains from a Mega Evolution.

The selection of Flamethrower as the last move is mainly a personal preference of mine, especially when I use ‘Japan Sand.’ Normally the final move selection is Draco Meteor; allowing Salamence to deal a big hit to Pokémon that resist its Flying-type attacks, such as Zapdos/Rotom/Thundurus. However my Japan Sand team at Nationals had very few drawback-free ways to hit Steel-type Pokémon for super-effective damage (Superpower on Tyranitar, Earthquake on Excadrill). I was also expecting to run into at least one Ferrothorn on the day (round 9, vs Brendan Webb). The choice to use Flamethrower was to cover gaps in my team during my Nationals campaign and it did justify its selection over the 2 days. However in all other cases, I do recommend going the conventional route and running Draco Meteor for better overall damage.

Editor’s Note: This last statement echoes a theme that seems to be carried throughout the “Top Players Top Pokémon series: that ultimately, decisions must be made based on the needs of one’s own team. Matthew knew the team well enough to know its strengths and weaknesses and made a unique tech to cater for those weaknesses.

What personal successes have you had with this Pokémon? Is there a favourite moment you have using it?

Salamence was an integral part of my winning team for the 2015 Australian Nationals. Using it to complete my comeback in Game 2 of the Final is probably my favourite moment. Another favourite was when I revealed Double-Edge during Game 3 of my Top 16 against Eugene Tan. Eugene had left his Mega Venusaur in against Mega Salamence believing (rightfully) that he could take a Hyper Voice with ease. However he was completely unprepared for the Double-Edge, allowing me to OHKO Mega Venusaur. From there I was able to close out Game 3 and secure my 2015 Worlds Invite.

What made this Pokémon great in the Australian 2015 metagame? Do you think it can still be used to much success in the VGC 2015 metagame?

I believe that a lot of the success this set had was due to it being a key component of Japan-Sand. People were more familiar with the Dragon Dance set and were there unprepared for Salamence to attack from both sides of the spectrum. I don’t consider the success of this set to be due solely to its individual merits, but rather as a part of the rise of Japan-Sand in general. I feel this is backed up by the fact that the mixed set has achieved almost no notable results outside of a sand team, with the physical-attacking variants of Mega Salamence instead filling this role.

Post-Worlds I believe that mixed Mega Salamence actually hit a bit of a rough patch in regards to its ability to dominate games. The increase in CHALK and CHALK-like teams created a more difficult environment for mixed Mega Salamence to dominate in, as its matchups aren’t favourable against most individual Pokémon within these teams. The rise of Porygon2 in the Australian metagame (thanks Sam!) was also another contributing factor as it is one of the few Pokémon that can withstand all variants of Mega Salamence and OHKO with Ice Beam. Unlike other bulky walls such as Cresselia and Suicune, Porygon2 requires almost no Special Attack EV investment to guarantee this if it runs the Analytic ability. Setting up the late-game conditions where Salamence can dominate are also a lot harder now as people are more familiar with facing the mixed set and the Japan-Sand archetype in general.

That’s not to say that the usage of mixed Mega Salamence in Australian events declined over the last few Premier Challenges, nor did it become a spent force in the metagame. For example the  Werribee Premier Challenge in November saw a number of competitors run Japan-Sand while overseas Sam Schweitzer had some success with running the mixed set at US events. At the end of the day mixed Mega Salamence remains one of the most potent late-game cleaners in VGC 2015 and I believe that, with some alterations, it still has something to offer players in the future.

We’ve just had the format for VGC2 2016 announced. Do you believe that Mega Salamence can perform well in this new metagame, especially with many other powerful Dragon-types such as Mega Rayquaza available to use.

Absolutely. While Mega-Salamence’s offensive stats (145/120) may seem inferior compared to some of the new Dragon-types in the format (compare with Mega-Rayquaza’s 180/180), it has a number of positive traits that certainly make it a viable option over something like Rayquaza:

  • It does not take up a restricted spot
  • With a base speed stat of 120 when Mega-Evolved, it can outrun all restricted Dragon-types and in some cases threaten an OHKO with Draco Meteor.
  • It’s ability does not interfere with your own Primal’s weather (contrast with Rayquaza)

That said, the presence of Pokemon such as Xerneas and Primal Kyogre are a major direct threat to Mega Salamence. Failing to OHKO any opposing Dragon-types will also likely result in a fainted Salamence. Still the metagame is still in its infancy and I encourage players to give Mega Salamence a chance.  For reference, in the Generation Showdown held earlier this year on the Pokemon Global Link Salamence was the 12th most-used Pokemon in the tournament. I mention this as the tournament ran under similar rules to VGC 2016 and is a good starting point for anyone looking to get involved in VGC 2016.

Thank you very much to Matthew for helping us out by writing this up. He’s recently been very active and successful within the Victorian Premier Challenge scene of late; be sure to say hello if you see him and thank him for his contribution to our community!

About Cappa

Nathan is really, really bad at Pokemon, despite having played for a fair time. During the week, he spends lots of time with sick people and learning about why they are sick. Nathan is supposed to enjoy VGC, and pretends not to enjoy Love Live and distasteful memes. To listen to Nathan complain about life regularly, follow on Twitter @CappaVGC.
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