Hi, I’m Riccardo Appamea, and I’m an Italian player known online as “Fire Gohan”. Although I’ve only been playing VGC since 2014, I’ve been playing singles since the good old days of 2008.
My first significant result in VGC was in 2016, where I won a Regional Championship using Mewtwo. That year was a very successful year for me; alongside being a Regional Champion, I was also Top 8 at the English Nationals, using the very unusual combo of Scizor and Gengar-M to beat Xerneas. In fact, I ended that season with 831 CP and placed 20th in Europe.
I hope to win my first World Championship in the VGC19 season and am feeling confident after achieving great results in VGC18. I finished 21st in the World Championships, and I couldn’t have done it without the help of my Italian testing team, the Team Aqua. At the moment I’m playing in the World Cup of VGC with the Italian team, I also participated in VGC16 where we won the competition.
My style of play is very versatile. I like to play standard but with some gimmicks, which ensure I’m unpredictable to my opponents. I understand the importance of a stable game style, but I also like to take risks. Sometimes I play it safe, yet sometimes I throw a curveball and change my playing style right between the matches.
I think the best thing to bring into play is challenges for the opponent’s brain, in the form of a strong mind game. Most of all however, it is also important to play with the heart.
- Top 16 Frankfurt Regionals
- 1st Place MSS Frankfurt Side Event
- 1st PlaceMSS Bologna
- 1st PlaceMSS Hannover
- 1st PlaceTurin PC Side Event
- 2nd Place Silea PC
Kyogre @ Choice Scarf
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Origin Pulse
– Ice Beam
This is the first member of the team because I love its damage output so much. Initially, I ran for little bulk in Sp.def to live a Orb Grass Knot from Ludicolo, but I saw that Orb Ludicolo wasn’t being overly used, and I needed to do lots of damage at Xerneas with Water Spout before the other Kyogre at the same time, so I opted for 4/252/252.
I love this whale.
Rayquaza @ Roseli Berry
Ability: Air Lock
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– Aerial Ace
– Iron Head
– Extreme Speed
The real star of the team.
I ran 252 Atk for the same reason as I did Kyogre; to do the most damage possible to Xerneas. Roseli Berry is better than the Assault Vest because it allows Rayquaza to protect.
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 0 HP / 4 SpD Roseli Berry Rayquaza: 147-174 (81.6 – 96.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Aerial Ace allows me to kill Ludicolo and breaks Venusaur’s Focus Sash, but also hurts Tsareena/Amoonguss, so sometimes I can kill them with Water Spout and Aerial Ace. Plus, it is super effective on Toxicroak.
I opted for Air Slash too, but it doesn’t guarantee that I can OHKO Ludicolo/Toxicroak, because it could be AV. Extreme speed is Rayquaza’s best move, nothing changed from VGC16 when Rayquaza was OP.
- 252+ Atk Rayquaza Aerial Ace vs. 100 HP / 4 Def Ludicolo: 168-198 (100 – 117.8%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252+ Atk Rayquaza Extreme Speed vs. 108 HP / 36 Def Xerneas: 56-67 (26 – 31.1%) — guaranteed 4HKO
When I damage Xerneas for about 70-74%, I can easily finish it with Extremespeed. In the end, Iron head is a very strange and amazing move, I was thinking for Tailwind/Swords Dance in this set but I needed immediate damage to Xerneas (the problem is always Xerneas). With 2 Iron Head I’m sure to kill it, even if it has a lot of bulk:
- 252+ Atk Rayquaza Iron Head vs. 180 HP / 36 Def Xerneas: 112-134 (50 – 59.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Tsareena @ Assault Vest
Ability: Queenly Majesty
EVs: 252 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 92 SpD / 4 Spe
– Power Whip
– High Jump Kick
– Knock Off
Tsareena completes the core, switching in at just the right moment. I think its affinity with Kyogre is definitely huge. I needed to do a lot of damage with it, and live a +2 Moonblast from Xerneas at the same time.
No EVs in Speed because it’s useful under Trick Room as a Groudon, counter especially if I switch in Kyogre in order to weak Fire Punch and a little Sp.Def EVs. It has also can potentially 2HKO Xerneas, also with Feint support to finish it. Tsareena can easily OHKO standard Scarf Kyogre.
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 92 SpD Assault Vest Tsareena: 135-159 (75.4 – 88.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 156+ Atk Tsareena Power Whip vs. 108 HP / 36 Def Xerneas: 100-118 (46.5 – 54.8%) — 62.1% chance to 2HKO
- 156+ Atk Tsareena Power Whip vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 218-258 (123.8 – 146.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
Knock Off was the call for Lunala, even if I think I don’t need it to beat Lunala. A nice fourth move choice was surely U-turn.
Incineroar @ Figy Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 116 Atk / 60 Def / 52 SpD / 36 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Knock Off
A simply Incineroar.
Classic set, with only 52 Sp.Def because I rarely bring it against Xerneas, I needed Adamant Nature instead to damage Bronzong, Groudon, Kyogre, and Necrozma especially under Trick Room.
60 EVs in defence to outlive +0 Jolly Precipice Blades, or Adamant and take less damage from Sacred Sword Kartana. 36 Speed because I like to outspeed other Incineroar, since they are played carefully with a lot of Sp.Def EVs.
- 252 Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 244 HP / 60 Def Incineroar: 174-206 (86.5 – 102.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
- 116+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Groudon in Sun: 106-126 (51.2 – 60.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 116+ Atk Incineroar Knock Off (97.5 BP) vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Bronzong: 126-150 (72.4 – 86.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 116+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Prism Armor Necrozma-Dusk-Mane: 114-135 (55.8 – 66.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Pheromosa @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 252 Spe
– High Jump Kick
– Poison Jab
The best bug in the world.
With Tsareena, I can threaten other grass Pokémon, in particular AVKartana.
I ran for 252+ Speed to outspeed opponents ScarfKyogre and damage them before they use Water Spout. At the same time, I outspeed my own Kyogre to U-turn the possible Groudon switch-in and go for Rayquaza to Air Lock Drought. Poison Jab can also 2HKO Xerneas. I can also KO on Xerneas’ ally and gain +1 Speed, in this way I can outspeed Xerneas after Geomancy, even if it’s 252 Timid. High Jump Kick does 2HKO on Groudon bulkless.
- 252 Atk Pheromosa Poison Jab vs. 108 HP / 36 Def Xerneas: 96-114 (44.6 – 53%) — 23.4% chance to 2HKO
- 252 Atk Pheromosa High Jump Kick vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Groudon: 87-103 (49.4 – 58.5%) — 98.8% chance to 2HKO
The Focus Sash allows me to have yet another Pokèmon that survives an attack from Xerneas.
Tapu Lele @ Psychic Seed
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 92 HP / 4 Def / 156 SpA / 36 SpD / 220 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
Tapu Lele was the last choice in this team building.
Initially, this slot was occupied by Gothitelle, but it didn’t assure me much damage as it was predominantly a passive Pokémon. So I went for Lele, which give me a fairy-type that helps against Koko and Yveltal. Lele can also break annoying Pokémon with taunt, and put down Psychic Terrain to do a job similar to what Tsareena does with Queenly Majesty. In the end, they’re a very good combination if played with Pheromosa.
Psychic Seed was necessary to live Water Spout, +2 Moonblast from 252 Sp.Atk Xerneas, and 3HKO from +2 Dazzling Gleam from Xerneas. 220 EVs in Speed to outspeed Adamant max speed Groudon and Timid max speed Smeargle in order to Taunt him. With Modest Nature and 156 EVs it assures me lot of damages in general, and a nice 2HKO on bulky Xerneas.
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. +1 92 HP / 36 SpD Tapu Lele in Rain: 100-118 (63.6 – 75.1%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. +1 92 HP / 36 SpD Tapu Lele: 124-147 (78.9 – 93.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 100 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. +1 92 HP / 36 SpD Tapu Lele: 69-82 (43.9 – 52.2%) — 17.2% chance to 2HKO
- 156+ SpA Tapu Lele Psyshock vs. 108 HP / 36 Def Xerneas in Psychic Terrain: 106-126 (49.3 – 58.6%) — 98.8% chance to 2HKO
A few days before Frankfurt Regional Championships, when I already wanted to use Lunala-Kyogre, I built this team.
The idea of this team was primarily to let my ScarfKyogre spam it’s Water Spout. To permits this, I tried to use Rayquaza (like I did in VGC16), even if it didn’t learn Dragon Ascent. I saw that Rayquaza with Aerial Ace could kill Ludicolo/Venusaur, preventing their speed power-up with Air Lock, and at the same time it can prevent Groudon to switch-in, so, I tried it.
In all those matches where there isn’t Groudon, I can easily use Tsareena and Kyogre and do my Feint-Water Spout spam. When I find Trick Room teams, I chose Incineroar-Tsareena to Fake Out, prevent opposing Fake Out, and to stall the Trick Room while U-turning into Scarf Kyogre.
Pheromosa helped me a lot against AVKartana because it’s the second problem of Kyogre. It can’t protect if it has Assault Vest, so I can High Jump Kick without problems, killing it (or doing a lot of damage to the switch-in).
Amoonguss is a problem. I can check it with Rayquaza, but Tapu Lele is the very best to cover this role with Taunt and supereffective Psyshock.
In the end, I think this team works better against Groudon than Kyogre, as it cannot counter Xerneas-Ludicolo very well.
I needed to damage Xerneas a lot the moment he was set up with Geomancy, and if possible I wanted to preserve my Kyogre for later in the game, which I’d do by killing Xerneas first with Extreme speed or something similar. In this way, I can assure myself the victory, whatever the core around Xerneas.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
Do you see a Xerne-Don? This is the best lead, because if your opponent leads with Groudon, you can Water Spout for free and in case of Groudon-Saur you just win with Spout+Aerial Ace. Kartana lead is uncommon, as the opponents are afraid of the potential Pheromosa and Rayquaza Fire move (which it actually does not have) and this is especially if they cannot protect because of the Assault Vest.
This is the best lead for Xerne-Ogre. Tapu Lele blocks Incineroar-Tsareena priority moves, and kills/taunt Amoonguss if it leads with Xerneas. With Psychic seed it has a big staying power, and also with Protect it can stay 4-5 turns in the field in order to let the Psychic Terrain end, and make use of Rayquaza’s Extreme Speed (for example to finish the work on Xerneas).
Alternatively, it can be a good lead also against Xerne-Groudon if you can predict the opponent putting Xerneas Amoonguss in lead, because RayOgre lead does not always guarantee the kill on Amoonguss.
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 180+ SpD Amoonguss: 51-61 (23 – 27.6%) — 74.7% chance to 4HKO
- 252+ Atk Rayquaza Aerial Ace vs. 252 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss: 152-180 (68.7 – 81.4%) — guaranteed 2HKO
This is an emergency lead against Xerne-Groudon. It helped me to win my second Midseason in game 3, where I was sure that my opponent was going to lead with Kartana because in the second game I started with Kyogre/Lele, and I won thanks to this lead.
With U-turn you can check if Groudon is switching in and put Rayquaza before the Water Spout. In other cases, you can switch in another Pokèmon and make sure that Water Spout does more damage with Rain active.
This is not a good lead against Amoonguss Xerneas, because you can’t avoid in any way a Protect+Spore on Kyogre.
What can I say about this lead without falling into the obvious? IT. IS.
This lead counters practically everything, force the opponent to lead something grass or with Assault Vest /Choice Scarf to stop it. If you choose to start with Groudon, you lose immediately because of RayOgre lead. As you can see, you always need to lead with Kyogre to make sure you put pressure immediately and force your opponent to make difficult choices.
You have to be very careful with Xerneas. You cannot let him use Geomancy without being ready to receive at least 50% damage, or you lose immediately. Make sure to lead with Kyogre and something that annoys Xerneas’ ally.
You need to always preserve at least 3 Pokèmon to have more switch-ins possible (if you need to sacrifice something and come in with another Pokémon at 100% health). Pay a lot of attention with bringing Tapu Lele, and putting down its Psychic Terrain, you risk to nerf the only move you have to finish Xerneas (Extreme Speed/Feint), so in that case, you have to be sure you will kill it in another way.
Sometimes you need to kill the ally of Xerneas, live its +2 Moonblast and at the same time to outspeed Xerneas the turn after. Pheromosa can do this. If you come in with full health Pheromosa and your opponent has +2 Xerneas with 50% and Incineroar/Kartana, they may not know that you can just High jump Kick Xerneas ally, while living a Moonblast. You’ll then get a +1 Speed boost which permits to outspeed and kill Xerneas the turn after. All this with a 1 HP Pheromosa. Wow.
In all other cases, you just play as you can. Kyogre can also receive damage after its Water Spout without problems, because you can simply switch it out and use it in the late game with Origin Pulse.
The worst match-up, because Ludicolo stops my best damage output, Kyogre.
The best lead against this combination is RayOgre. While Rayquaza Air Locks the field, you can switch out it into Tsareena to prevent Fake Out. This lets Kyogre Water Spout the Xerneas before Ludicolo’s Grass Knot (because there was Air Lock) and do huge damage under Rain.
You can also let Rayquaza stay in the field, using Aerial Ace on Ludicolo and Water Spout, because sometimes people Protect their its Xerneas and go for Grass Knot, ignoring the fact that Ludicolo can no longer outspeed RayOgre.
In other ways, you can also lead with Pheromosa Tsareena, U-turning Ludicolo knocking him out, and using Power Whip on Xerneas which is a 2HKO, but this lead doesn’t have great damage output, and can easily be stopped by a Flying or Poison type.
Always lead Kyogre-Lele against this team.
With this lead you can do lot of damages and bring Rayquaza in the back to send out when the opponents Kyogre goes for Water Spout, in order to weaken it. Tsareena would be the best 4th Pokémon here, it can live 2Wwater Spout’s and OHKO Kyogre. To stop Xerneas, it’s important to damage him a lot in the early game.
Always lead with Kyogre, with variants Lele-Rayquaza-Tsareena depending on the opponent’s lead. Pay attention to bringing Tapu Lele in lead because with Psychic Terrain Extreme Speed is nerfed.
If you lead RayOgre, don’t forgot Water Spout doesn’t take the boost of Rain, so you must switch out Rayquaza at the right moment, or go for Iron head on the Xerneas slot in order to get him into red as soon as possible.
Kartana lead can be annoying, you can lead with Pheromosa in one of the three games to scare the opponent.
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1 – Adrian Baumann – WW
In this first match, I saw that RayOgre would have been great, I only needed to stop the opposing AVKoko and Stakataka’s Wide guard.
I won the first game by getting the KO on Tapu Koko, and then using my ScarfOgre. In the second game, I thought he would lead with Stakataka, so I lead with Pheromosa and Kyogre, immediately switching out Kyogre while using High Jump Kick on Stakataka, which was going to use Wide Guard.
Round 2 – Davide Carrer – WW
I know Davide quite well as we were in the same aaccommodation during VGC18 Worlds.
I knew his Amoonguss wasn’t going to be a problem if he also was playing Fapu Fini. The first game he lead with Tapu Fini and Talonflame, using Tailwind and Icy Wind. In the first turn though, he immediately lost his Talonflame, so the match became a lot easier for me, even if Groudon was going to be switched in.
In the second match, he didn’t bring Talonflame, and lead with Tapu Fini and Groudon which was so weak to my Tsareena. I got a OHKO with Power Whip, and did 50% to Xerneas the turn after as Geomancy was set up too late.
Round 3 – ??? – WLW
I don’t recall my opponents name in Round 3.
The two games I won in this set, I surprised him with RayOgre and KO’d his Kartana switch-in with a lot of Water Spout Damage. The game I lost, he managed to setup Xerneas without taking any damage, making me unable to kill it.
Round 4 – Nuno Rosario – WW
In the first game, I tried the classic Incineroar and Kyogre lead, while he lead with Smeargle and Bronzong. I played it risky using Water Spout while he used Fake Out on my Incineroar, so I was able to kill Bronzong and stall out the Trick Room.
In the second game, I was affraid of the Smeargle and Bronzong lead so I lead with Tapu Lele and Incineroar. I went for a Taunt on the opponents Smeargle and Knock-Off on Bronzong. He was left with a taunted Smeargle, and Bronzong Intimidated. I stalled out Trick Room again, damaging Bronzong with Incineroar and finishing the game off with ScarfOgre.
Round 5 – Matteo Agostini – WLW
The winner of the Regional, I know Matteo well also.
First game I missed Power Whip on his Kyogre, but I played optimally and won the game anyway.
Second game, he lead with Tornadus and set up Tailwind which meant his Xerneas could setup before my Water Spout could weaken it. I lost.
The third game was very close. I made a mistake and lead with Pheromosa against his Feint Tsareena and Kyogre. I could’t Protect the last turn of Tailwind, but luckily he missed Origin Pulse and I managed to pull off the win.
Round 6 – Bartosz Ekiert – WW
Another player with the classic Xerne-Don-Saur team.
This was another matchup where I lead with Rayquaza and Kyogre. This surprised Bartosz as he lead with Venusaur and Groudon, which got me a double KO at the first turn.
In the second game, he tried a different lead which left Groudon in the back. I did too much damage with my Kyogre switching out Rayquaza at the first turn allowing Rain to start up, preserving Kyogre for the late game.
Round 7 – Florian Henry – LL
This was the worst match up for me.
I tried leading RayOgre hoping in his Xerneas Ludicolo lead, but he leaded with Xerneas Amoonguss and Got a free spore living Aerial Ace + Water Spout, and then it setupped the turn after with Geomancy.
The second match I leaded with Tapu lele but it wasn’t enough. In the middle of the Game I missed an important power whip which could reopen the match but nothing, so, gg man.
Round 8 – Simone Sanvito – WW
Another Italian guy that I know very well.
I lead with Rayquaza and Kyogre, predicting his switch out of Amoonguss while Xerneas Protected, and I got him.
In the secon game, he double Protected which allowed me to switch out my Kyogre without receiving a +2 Moonblast, preserving him for the late game. The turn after, I knocked out his Xerneas allowing for an easier late game.
Top16 – Bartosz Ekiert – WLL
Bartosz. The guy I beat the day before in Swiss at Round 6.
This time, he put Incineroar and Kartana as his lead Pokémon.
In the first game, I lead with Rayquaza and Kyogre, so the match-up was fantastic for him. I switched out Kyogre and brought in Tsareena which he didnt predict. The match was really close, and I managed to pull off a win.
In the second game, I decided to lead with Pheromosa and Kyogre as it was a better match-up against his Incineroar and Kartana. He kept this leads the same and went for a Fake Out onto my Pheromosa, and a Leaf Blade into my Kyogre. He lost his Incineroar, but killed my only chance to damage Xerneas as my Pheromosa was Intimidated. He got the win.
In the third game, I lead with Tapu Lele and Pheromosa. I was expecting a lead of Incineroar and Kartana again, and that is what he did. In this way, with Psychic Terrain, Fake Out was disabled. He switched out Kartana and brought in Xernead where I had attacked with a double target High Jump Kick and Moonblast. But, the kick missed and Pheromosa crashed. In the second turn, I tried ti predict going for a double in the other slot, hoping he would Protect his Xerneas, but he went for a Geomancy which ended the game .
The High Jump Kick miss was very important, because if it hit, Xerneas would have remained with only 25% health, which is in range of Poison Jab.
So, my regional closed with a nice Top 16 and a lot of satisfaction.
This is a very unique team. I didn’t know that Rayquaza would win that much, and is evidentally useful with Pheromosa, which did a great job on the team also. I think opponent’s may have trouble building a plan against this team, as it has a lot of dangerous leading options.
I don’t think I will continue using this team. The Sun Series finishes in 3 months, and I want to build another exciting team with more strange sets and unique but viable options.
Thank you all!
Credit to mark331 for the featured image