Heyo, my name is John Thi, also known as Jocario, and I am a 28-year-old VGC player from Germany. While I’d gathered some experiences with competitive Pokémon back in 2006/2007, I hadn’t heard of VGC until Sun and Moon were about to release in late 2016. After being inactive for a decade, I started playing online during the 17 and 18 seasons. Due to limited time and money, I’d never managed to attend real life events except for Bremen Regionals post-Worlds ’17, which I went to just for fun.
For VGC19, I was finally done with uni, so I decided I could actually try to gather enough points to qualify for the World Championships in Washington DC. My success in doing so was heavily dependent on a certain team composition that I’ve been using for the majority of both Sun and Ultra Series.
While my performance at Worlds was lackluster, I managed to top cut the DC Open with my most recent version of the team. Furthermore, I managed to climb the Showdown ladder with this team to peak at second place with a rating of 1849.
As you can probably tell by the amazing artwork made by the awesome Kuro (@Kuroryushin), I am especially glad to have had two specific Pokémon join the ranks of the team on the most recent version. Ribombee and Lucario are undoubtedly the stars of this team, and while Ribombee only recently grew on me as a result, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Lucario is also one of the most special Pokémon to me, which makes me even happier about the fact that I could bring it to my first Worlds trip.
Before we get to the final version of the team, let’s take a look at how it all started in Sun Series and how the team got to where it is today.
With the introduction of VGC19, I started to experiment with different cores, and there were several interesting restricted Pokémon that I was curious about. After an unfortunate (and inaccurate) start to the format with XernDon at my first regional, I realized what I was looking for in a restricted pair. My top priorities were having solid matchups against all archetypes and… accuracy. XernOgre felt strong at first, but it wasn’t until I tried out Lunala that things started to fall into place. While most restricted were already known to veteran players, Lunala was still relatively unexplored. Early format sets focused primarily on its power and unique offensive typing. As the format progressed, people started to notice its wide support movepool granted it great versatility.
At this point, I’d like to shoutout Alex Ogloza, who frequently streamed VGC on Battle Spot at the beginning of the format in Sun Series. His way of using Lunala became the starting point of my team. The initial set on the Lunala included both Tailwind and Roar, which were both great support options on a Pokémon that was still offensively threatening.
The team was originally a Xernala team, but thanks to the new support options available on Lunala, I realized that a restricted with more immediate offensive pressure was a better fit. This combined with my preference to play with accurate (and powerful) moves would leave Kyogre as the obvious choice.
Lunala had the ability to practically guarantee Tailwind and stop opposing Trick Room setters with Roar without being Faked Out. The speed control Lunala provided allowed Kyogre to be effective even without a Choice Scarf, allowing me to use Mystic Water to boost my damage even further.
The perfect partner for this particular Lunala set would end up being Assault Vest Tapu Koko. Its ability to use Electroweb for further speed control and Sky Drop to disrupt opposing setup allowed me to control the board at all times.
While Koko and Lunala was a standard lead that covered most options, Choice Scarf Tapu Lele and Lunala was another lead option that exerted more immediate offensive pressure. In Sun Series, it also gave me a way to outspeed and threaten Scarf Kyogre, but it would prove effective in many other scenarios as well.
The archetype remained a threat throughout Sun Series. Here are some of the core’s accomplishments with minor variations:– Top 5 Showdown Ladder (1805) – Jocario
I realized that, as Kyogre was not running Choice Scarf anymore, the team concept might still work in Ultra Series. As soon as Ultra Series began in April, I started building around this core once more to prepare for EUIC. With the introduction of Primals, controlling the weather became even more important than before.
In Sun Series, Kartana was a staple because of how well it dealt with Xerneas, Groudon, and Kyogre; it was a great offensive partner for Kyogre. After the switch to Ultra Series, I wanted a Pokémon in that slot that could still help deal with Xerneas and also provide weather control against opposing Primal Groudon. Mega Gengar could fill this role thanks to its Poison typing and access to a fast Skill Swap. Tornadus still provided speed and weather control, giving it a similar function to the one it had in Sun Series.
Going into EUIC in late April, I didn’t exactly know what kinds of teams to expect in Berlin, but I took a gamble and hoped I wouldn’t face too many Yveltal or Ferrothorn, since my matchup against those were kind of shaky at this point in time.
The call ended up being somewhat correct. I faced 2 Yveltal (one of which I beat), and none of my opponents played Ferrothorn, if I remember correctly. I went into round 9 of Swiss with a record of 6-2, only to lose my win-and-in for Day 2 after an intense 3-game set. I was glad about the result either way, though, since the 130 CP I got for Top 64 was crucial for my Day 1 invite.
Nonetheless, Berlin was my introduction to Ultra Series, and I realized that my first draft of the team was still too weak to certain specific matchups. I had mostly good matchups in Berlin, but after EUIC, the meta changed, and a lot of players started using RayOgre + Ferrothorn, which was very rough for the team to handle. Furthermore, Yveltal still posed a great threat to it.
In May, Jamie Boyt told me that he would be bringing a team very close to mine to Bristol Regionals, with tweaks in the last two slots. Instead of Mega Gengar and Tornadus, he put Mega Lucario and Celesteela onto the team. Naturally, Jamie did well, and managed to top cut in Bristol, once again demonstrating the threat of the “Blue Moon” archetype (as he likes to call it).– Top 8 Bristol Regionals – Jamie Boyt
I had played with the idea of replacing the Gengar with either Lucario or Lopunny before, so after seeing Jamie do well with Lucario, I decided to give it a try as well. Celesteela didn’t fit my criteria for the last slot, and after talking with Jamie about the team for a bit, I quickly realized that his team functioned a bit differently from mine. While Jamie’s version had more defensive options, I wanted to build a team that allowed for Kyogre to act more freely with speed and weather control support, without having to switch out and back in again.
In Sun Series, the sixth slot, Tornadus, had Rain Dance to support Kyogre in the weather war while also serving as the second Tailwind setter to have an alternative speed control option in case I didn’t lead Lunala. Naturally, when up against Yveltal, I had to bring Tornadus in the lead instead of Lunala.
As I’ve previously mentioned, what I wanted from the Pokémon in Gengar’s slot was being able to beat Xern and while also being able to help with the weather control. Part of the reason for this was how much more important weather control is in Ultra Series than it used to be in Sun Series. On top of that, Tornadus having to opt for Role Play instead of Rain Dance made it a lot less reliable as a weather control support, as it can’t preemptively click Role Play to copy Primordial Sea more than once in a row.
Despite the set roles for the last two slots, I was still attempting to improve my matchup against both Ferrothorn and Yveltal. I theorized a lot about different pairs to finish the lineup, and since I wanted to try and use Lucario, there was a lot I needed to ask of my sixth Pokémon on the team. I was looking for an alternative Tailwind setter that could learn Skill Swap and had a good matchup against Yveltal.
Going through my Teambuilder multiple times initially left me with the impression that what I was asking of my last slot was not solvable with a single Pokémon, and that I’d have to rebuild my team, potentially removing Lucario.
That’s when she first grabbed my attention.
Up to this point, I had faced Ribombee a couple times on ladder, but it never felt too significant in the matches. I was looking into Ribombee among other things, but before I had made a decision to change my team, I was attending my last tournament before Worlds.
An MSS in Frankfurt should help me clinch the last 33 points needed for my first Worlds Invite, so I wanted to play what I was already confident in without further changes to my team. In the finals of that MSS, I faced Alexander Becker, a German player and friend who also qualified for his first World Championships on that day. On his Kyogre UNec team, there was a certain Bug/Fairy-type Pokémon that piqued my interest: Ribombee.
It was this MSS final that made me realize how powerful of a support Ribombee can be when paired up with Kyogre. Even though I managed to clinch the set in three games and win the MSS, Alex certainly gave me a rough time with his Ribombee.
Now that I’d finally qualified for Worlds, I had a couple of months to gather my thoughts and decided to finalize my team for the trip to DC in that time. I knew that I wanted to give both Ribombee and Lucario a trial run and use them together on what eventually became my final six of the team. Thanks to the addition of both Lucario and Ribombee, I had a much better matchup against Yveltal and Ferrothorn, all while still having tools to support Kyogre against Groudon and giving me an alternative option for checking Xerneas.
Since the six Pokémon on the first version of this team from Sun Series were Lunala, Kyogre, Koko, Lele, Kartana and Tornadus, I named the team “LND”, short for “Legends Never Die”, and kept that name through the different iterations despite adding non-Legendaries (but if you ask me, Lucario and Ribombee are pretty legendary either way). Now, without further ado, let’s have a look at “LND 3.0”:
Midnight (Lunala) @ Lunalium Z
Ability: Shadow Shield
EVs: 4 HP / 4 Def / 244 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moongeist Beam
For a hyper offensive team like this one, Lunala is a great Pokémon to rely on, as its Ghost typing gives it the freedom to ignore Fake Out and set up Tailwind relatively safely. Due to its Ability, Shadow Shield, combined with natural bulk, it also survives most neutral double-ups. There are some leads that can stop Lunala before it even gets to move, most notably Kangaskhan or Yveltal. Additionally, Koko/Rayquaza leads can also be dangerous for Lunala, as Koko can break the shield to allow for Rayquaza to finish Lunala off with a Crunch or even a Dragon Ascent. Other than that, Lunala is a great way to lead into the game, because it gives you great control options for the first turn in almost any situation. Roar gives Lunala a great way to disrupt boosting Xerns and Trick Room setters. Roaring your partner is also an option whenever the Pokémon you have in the back needs to hit the field but can’t afford to take any damage switching in that turn. In either case, it’s worth noting that Roar will work even through Protect.
Gang Orca (Kyogre-Primal) @ Blue Orb
Ability: Primordial Sea
EVs: 4 HP / 52 Def / 196 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Water Spout
– Ice Beam
The primary win condition of this team is most certainly the blue whale. The goal of the team is bringing in this fella, combined with speed control and weather control, and having it tear through teams. The spread is designed to outspeed most other Primals and Smeargle while also living an Adamant Dragon Ascent from Ray (or, alternatively, a single target Precipice Blades from Adamant Primal Groudon).
I opted for Scald as my secondary STAB because I dislike Origin Pulse’s lower accuracy. It also gave me an option against Wide Guard users.
Kaminari (Tapu Koko) @ Assault Vest
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 172 HP / 196 SpD / 140 Spe
– Wild Charge
– Nature’s Madness
– Sky Drop
People who know me also know that my signature/favorite Pokémon is Togedemaru, so even though Tapu Koko has been a far more dominant force in the 17 and 18 seasons, it wasn’t until Sun Series that I used Tapu Koko on an actual team.
If your most defensive Pokémon on the team is a Tapu Koko, you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, but a closer look into its role on the team will clarify the item choice. As an alternative lead option next to Lunala, it makes use of Electroweb to help with speed control whenever the opposing team matches Lunala’s Tailwind.
Alternatively, Sky Drop enables you to disrupt many opposing setups and can even help you set up a safe KO with Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom in some cases. In combination with Lunala’s Roar, this is a great way to stop any Xern + Redirection or TR + Redirection strategy. Sky Drop’s mechanics also allow for some creative usage that can easily win you a set if your opponent doesn’t see it coming.
Uraraka (Tapu Lele) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 1 Atk
– Skill Swap
– Magic Room
Tapu Lele has to be one of the best supports for this restricted duo. As one of the most powerful non restricted in this format, Tapu Lele adds great pressure as a lead partner for Lunala. Swapping it in for its Psychic Terrain also adds great value to the team by nullifying Fake Outs, Extreme Speeds from Ray, and Sucker Punches from Yveltal/Mawile to make sure you get the full value out of your Tailwind.
Magic Room is a move that gets way more usage than most people would expect. Despite the general consensus being that it’s only really a tech to stop Xerneas’ 1-turn-Geomancy, it’s actually also a very useful and creative way to get around a majority of key items on opposing teams. Removing Sashes, AVs, or even a potential Payapa Berry on Amoonguss takes a lot of random and potentially unknown factors out of the equation. I’ll go into more detail regarding this later on in the matchup section of the article.
I used Nature’s Madness in Sun Series to have a way to pressure Dusk Mane Necrozma with a Lunala/Lele lead, but with the option of a Z-Move on Lunala in Ultra Series, I didn’t feel the need to run that move on Tapu Lele anymore. Instead, I opted for Skill Swap, to further support Kyogre in the weather war.
PS: Tapu Lele’s 1 IV in Attack is equivalent to 0 IVs at Level 50 and therefore irrelevant on SD, but this Lele is how my friend Naanua soft reset it for me, so I just recreated the exact paste.
Midoriya (Lucario-M) @ Lucarionite
Ability: Adaptability (Inner Focus)
EVs: 4 HP / 244 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
– Meteor Mash
– Close Combat
– Follow Me
As the main physical offensive threat on this team, Lucario delivers just the kind of coverage the team needs. Being able to OHKO Incineroar after an Intimidate is a nice option, but the main selling points of Lucario lie elsewhere.
Under certain circumstances, the rest of the team doesn’t have good ways to deal with Ferrothorn quickly. On top of that, Lucario gives you an alternative option to deal with boosted Xerneas. If the Xern player doesn’t match it, a Tailwind is going to allow Lucario to outspeed Xerneas and deal good damage with Meteor Mash, usually resulting in an OHKO.
Inner Focus is a nice Ability to have, but doesn’t come into play much, especially if you have a Tapu Lele on your team. In retrospect, Justified could have been a slightly better call for Worlds and after, but since my friend Nekrovoid used the Masuda method to breed a Shiny Riolu for me, which didn’t have the HA, I wasn’t particularly bothered to change it. However, in theory, Justified might improve the matchup against Yveltal a bit, and could also be really useful as a switch-in against Snarl spam, which is otherwise pretty effective against a team that heavily relies on Special Attacks.
Hatsume (Ribombee) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Shield Dust
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Pollen Puff
– Skill Swap
Let’s have a quick look at the last and most interesting pick on the team. Ribombee is a hidden gem that players are only now starting to really pay attention to. Outside of its Speed, its stats are generally not very impressive, but the combination of its high Speed, moveset, and Ability make this Pokémon more than worthy of the slot.
Thanks to a base Speed of 124, it can reliably outspeed the likes of Mega Rayquaza and Mega Salamence and either hit them for a lot of damage or set up a Tailwind safely. While the team already has Lunala as a fairly safe Tailwind setter, Ribombee acts as the alternative Tailwind setter for specific matchups. Just like Lunala, Ribombee also doesn’t need to worry about being flinched by Fake Out.
The Ability Shield Dust is already very useful on Ribombee, but Skill Swap opens up a whole lot of new possibilities. Apart from keeping weather control, the Shield Dust Ability on your partner will prevent any future Fake Out flinches, Snarl/Icy Wind stat drops, and even Nuzzle Paras. The last case is usually irrelevant, because the only two Nuzzle users in the format are Raichu and Togedemaru, both of which you can handle by simply Skill Swapping their Lightning Rod onto your Ribombee for a more elegant solution.
The idea of the team is simple: You rely on gaining speed control, usually by setting up Tailwind and trying to disrupt your opponent’s speed control options and setups. To reach that goal, you have a lot of tools in Magic Room, Sky Drop, Roar, Electroweb, and your natural Speed and offense, which allow you to put immediate pressure on your opponent. That being said, choosing your lead is crucial to covering your opponent’s options to set up, especially when there are multiple options to cover. After making sure you gain speed control, bringing Kyogre into play and supporting it with weather control (and terrain control, if necessary) is the main mode of this team. I won’t be able to cover every archetype, but going through the most important and frequent matchups will give you an idea of the options this team has to deal with other archetypes as well.
XernDon is probably one of the most favorable matchups for the team. Usually leading with Lunala/Lele is the best option to set up immediate pressure. Against most leads, you can usually just set up Tailwind + Magic Room, even if they get a knock out early on. Alternatively, you can use Lele’s offensive pressure to dominate the board right off the bat. From there, you can try to get into a position where you have speed control and a free switch into Kyogre with either Lele or Ribombee ready to support Kyogre with Skill Swap. After the Magic Room, Lele not being Choice-locked anymore will allow it to move freely. Ribombee in the back is a great support to help with further weather and speed control.+(/)vs.+(/)
Against Xern + Amoonguss/Smeargle in the lead, both Lunala/Lele or Lunala/Koko are acceptable leads. With Lunala/Lele, your safest play is to Magic Room + Psyshock into the Amoonguss/Smeargle. This way, you lock Xern into a potential 2-turn Geomancy and, at the same time, you remove Focus Sashes or Payapa Berries so that Lunala can safely cover the slot with Psyshock in terrain. In the case of a Protect/Spiky Shield on the redirection slot, you can still easily Psyshock into it with Lele on T2 and Roar out the Xerneas after the Geomancy. Facing the same lead with Lunala/Koko will let you Sky Drop Amoonguss/Smeargle while you Roar the Xerneas. Even if they don’t use Geomancy on T1, you’re going to be in a decent position to get speed control up from there.+vs.+
Incin + Fini leads are a bit more difficult to wear down, but if you predict a Snarl on T1, a double-up with the Z-Move into the Fini slot will put you in a great spot. An alternative play is Tailwind + Magic Room. Your win condition would be preparing a sweep with Kyogre whilst chipping Fini to put it under 40% HP, so that a Water Spout in Rain basically knocks out the whole team. Switching in Ribombee is fairly easy, as it takes Precipice Blades reasonably well and doesn’t need to worry about Speed drops from Fini’s Icy Wind. If you get Ribombee and Kyogre in while Groudon is still on the field, it can even be worth to Skill Swap with Kyogre while Groudon switches out, just to give Kyogre an immunity to Fake Out, in case your opponent intends to sacrifice a Pokémon to get Incineroar in. Just be aware that an Icy Wind after such a Skill Swap would drop your Ribombee’s Speed, but not your Kyogre’s, which means that you can’t set up Rain right before the Water Spout anymore.+vs.+
The most difficult XernDon variant to handle is TornKang. With this variant, you can lead Lunala/Lucario to try and pressure early on. Lucario checking the Kangaskhan helps with the trades. Kangaskhan can Fake Out one of the two slots, letting the other one attack with Close Combat into Kangaskhan or MMM into Tornadus. If Kangaskhan chooses not to Fake Out, Lucario can take care of it quickly. If Tornadus uses Taunt to prevent Lunala’s Tailwind, you still get the Z-Move off. In case Tornadus uses Supersonic Skystrike against Lucario, you end up trading one for two. With Fake Out, Taunt, Tailwind, and Icy Wind as options, this lead is really hard to predict for both sides, but I have found Lunala/Lucario to be the most consistent way to deal with it.
Watch out for:
You only have two Pokémon to hit Shedinja, but thankfully, those two options can hit Shedinja both in the base form as well as after a Soak. Lunala’s Moongeist Beam and Tapu Koko’s Sky Drop are usually your tools to deal with this bug, but Tapu Lele’s Magic Room basically serves as a free hit on Shedinja before it even enters the field. Shedinja can do a lot of damage to Lunala with Shadow Sneak, so rotating Lele in and out throughout the game can help dealing with that. In some situations, it’s ok to sacrifice Lunala. This way, you can make sure you don’t take too much damage switching Pokémon in. Try to deal with Shedinja’s partners and preserve Koko until the time is right. In some situations outside of Magic Room, you can simply switch in Tapu Lele as Tapu Koko uses Sky Drop on Shedinja, so that Tapu Lele can Magic Room right before Tapu Koko drops Shedinja the next turn for the safe KO.
Against TornOgre, the main win condition is keeping or at least matching the speed control against Tornadus while pressuring Xern. Some of the leads are very similar to the matchup vs XernDon. Both Koko and Lele can be very useful in this matchup, so either one can be led with Lunala. Psychic Terrain will help increase the damage output in this matchup, but also prevent Prankster Taunt from Tornadus. This way, Lunala is free to either Tailwind or Roar Xern if needed. Magic Room might be useful here, but can also backfire, since you naturally underspeed Xern and Tornadus after removing your Choice Scarf. Alternatively, Tapu Koko’s Electroweb can help you with the board position as you try to get a knock out on Tornadus right before their Tailwind ends.
Against RayOgre, Koko can both threaten to deal a lot of damage to Kyogre or lower Rayquaza’s Speed with Electroweb. This, in combination with Lunala being being faster than Kyogre and bulky enough to live most double-ups, will result in early speed control and offensive pressure. Lele coming in from the back will make sure that Rayquaza can’t spam Extreme Speed after being slowed down by Electroweb.+vs.++
This combination outspeeds Lunala and can very easily get rid of it with a double-up. Volt Switch to break the Shadow Shield is enough chip to have Crunch finish off Lunala. However, you have the option to try to sacrifice Lele in this kind of situation. Setting up Electroweb once will give your Lunala a ton of room to move and either attack freely or set up your Tailwind.
For the RayOgre matchup, the supports are key. If you face a Togedemaru or a Raichu, this is the time for Ribombee to shine in the lead. With Shield Dust, your opponent won’t be able to flinch you with a Fake Out, so their Lightning Rod user is most likely going to use an Electric move like Nuzzle, Zing Zap or Volt Switch. You are usually free to use Skill Swap to steal their Lightning Rod before they even get to move while Lunala can either attack right off the bat or set up a Tailwind, depending on what the Lightning Rod user is partnered up with. With +1 SAtk on Ribombee, speed control, and a dead slot on the field for your opponent, you will have a huge advantage after only one turn.
Watch out for:
Against very defensive Pokémon like Celesteela or Ferrothorn, it’s important to always keep your win condition in mind and preserve it until the right moment. Celesteela can be dealt with in multiple ways, but after it gets a Beast Boost in Sp. Def, Tapu Koko’s Wild Charge is probably your best bet to remove it from play later on.
Mega Rayquaza’s Delta Stream can make Celesteela even more difficult to handle, in which case it’s usually it’s easier to focus down Rayquaza before bringing Tapu Koko against Celesteela in the endgame. The same goes for Ferrothorn: it can be very rough to handle for Kyogre, especially if Mega Rayquaza removes the Primordial Sea. Keeping Lucario healthy is crucial for this matchup.
Against Yveltal, you really don’t want to bring Lunala to the match. Your win condition in this matchup is getting Kyogre into the game while having the Speed advantage. If you find yourself up against opposing Tailwind, then Koko can both help with speed control or pressure against Yveltal. Lele helps preventing Sucker Punches and Fake Outs and puts pressure onto both opposing restricted.+(/)vs.+
Ribombee is great in this lead, but instead of going for Skill Swap right off the bat, it’s safer to match Tailwind or even potentially threaten an early knock out on Yveltal. Other than that, matching speed control and stealing the Lightning Rod will grant you a great advantage, as both Ribombee and Mega Lucario naturally outspeed even Raichu.+vs.+
Since Lunala is usually your Trick Room counter with either Roar or the Z-Move, you need Lucario in the lead against Yveltal teams with Stakataka to immediately pressure it. This way, you prevent your opponent from setting up a Trick Room to keep the speed control. As long as you have the speed control, this matchup is very doable, even with just half of your restricted duo.
Admittedly, this is probably the hardest matchup by far because of how Yveltal pressures Lunala and forces you to bring only one restricted Pokémon, which you also need to get into a good position first. On top of that, you can’t bring Ribombee in from the back usually, since you need to be able to match Yveltal’s Tailwind immediately. Leading with Ribombee/Lucario lets you match Tailwinds or pressure the Yveltal for the immediate KO. Alternatively, going for speed control with a combination of Tailwind and Electroweb is also an option. Lele is really important in the endgame of this matchup, since it prevents Sucker Punches, threatens Yveltal, and has the ability to Skill Swap Kyogre for the weather control, if needed.+vs.+(/)
In a full set, trying to scout whether or not Koko has a Z-Move that can OHKO Lucario on T1 is a crucial piece of information. The Z-Move is most likely going to be on either Yveltal or Koko. If it is on Yveltal, Lucario can start dealing damage right off the bat, so you’re threatening a double up into Yveltal. If Koko has the Z-Move, leading with Koko yourself is the better option. Because of how restricting this matchup is, you need to stay on the offensive and try to get early KOs so that your opponent can’t reposition Groudon. You might find yourself in a situation where you’re forced to use Skill Swap on Kyogre with your still-Scarfed Tapu Lele, which is usually only an option if that turn also wins you the game.
Watch out for:
Against Bronzong, you are usually forced to bring Lunala in the lead. You will then need to play around Yveltal’s pressure, so bring Lucario to redirect moves thrown at Lunala. If you expect a Trick Room, you can Z-Move Bronzong, but basically, this lead will inevitably result in mind games. If you find out that Yveltal is slower than Lunala, that will give you more options in a full set as well.
Leads that work against Xern are covered in the XernDon matchup, but two Lunala facing off is always iffy.+//)vs.+
More often than not, Speed ties will decide the outcome of the match. Generally, Koko using Sky Drop on the opposing Lunala can give your own Lunala time to set up a Tailwind, so that your own Lunala outspeeds on T2. However, redirection can disrupt that kind of plan. Even though Sky Drop itself ignores redirection and you can still lift the opposing Lunala next to a Follow Me/Rage Powder, on T2, the redirection will stop your Lunala from getting the KO on the opposing one. This leaves you with two options. You can either Sky Drop the redirection Pokémon on T1 to immediately go for the MMM into the opposing Lunala as you try to win the Speed tie, or you switch Lunala into Lele, basically sacrificing it, but giving Tapu Koko the chance to gain speed control with Electroweb. Switching Lunala back in afterwards will give you some room to work with.+vs.+
The option to either Fake Out or Bite Lunala will force mind games and potential Speed ties once again. If you expect a Fake Out, switching in Lele for Koko and going for the Z-Move is an option. If you expect Bite, you have the option to Sky Drop either target. You could lift the Lunala and attempt to Tailwind, or lift Kangaskhan and go for the Speed tie. The option to sacrifice Tapu Lele by switching it into the Lunala slot while going for an Electroweb is also viable in this case.
Just like against Xernala, the mirror can be awkward to play. Having similar tools on both sides will often lead to Speed tie situations. Let’s have a look at the most common leads and the options for both players:+vs.(/)+
In most mirrors, both players will usually lead Lunala/Koko to match Sky Drops onto the Lunalas and basically force a Speed tie on T2. If you think that your own Tapu Koko is faster than the opposing one, you can also try to Sky Drop the opposing Tapu Koko, allowing your Lunala to move freely. That will ultimately lead to a Speed tie as well, however. If you would like a lead option that doesn’t rely on a Speed tie, you can bring Ribombee in place of Lunala. With Ribombee in the lead, you can use your faster, secondary Tailwind setter along with Electrowebs to gain an advantageous board position before one of your Pokemon drops and allows your own Lunala or even Kyogre to come in if your opponents have been chipped into range. In that case, you need to be aware of a potential Wide Guard on the opposing Lunala.
Watch out for:
To get around the Speed ties, some players (myself included) have used Lopunny with After You on the team as a way to beat the Lunala/Koko lead in the mirror. If you face that kind of lead with Lunala/Koko, you might consider sacrificing Tapu Lele, switching it in for Lunala to get off an Electroweb from Tapu Koko.
Playing against any form of Necrozma is an information war, but with reasonable assumptions, and especially after game 1 of a set, you have plenty of tools to work with.+(/)vs.+
Lunala lives a Moongeist Beam from Ultra Necrozma, so under normal circumstances, Lunala/Koko would be a safe lead against Dawn Wings Necrozma next to Smeargle or Jumpluff. Specifically, for the Lunala matchup, some Smeargle and Jumpluff have Helping Hand to support Ultra Necrozma. In the G1 of a set, you can scout for that while covering other options, but if Helping Hand is one of your opponent’s options, you might have to sacrifice Tapu Lele once again while you gain speed control with Electroweb.
Ironically, I went into the DC Open without any expectations. Since Worlds 2020 in London wasn’t announced until the final day of Worlds, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go for another invite at that point, which meant that I could go into the tournament solely for the purpose of enjoying myself and having a fun final run with the team. On top of that, the start of the tournament was delayed for over an hour because of technical reasons, and I was really tired that morning, so my motivation to play wasn’t exactly at its peak. Either way, because a lot of my friends played in the Open as well, I decided to join them and play.
I knew going into this matchup that T1 would force mindgames. Andrew leads with the expected TornKang lead against my Lunala/Lucario. I call the Taunt from Tornadus correctly and go on the offensive with both MMM into the Tornadus, which didn’t carry a Focus Sash, and a Close Combat from my Lucario into the Kangaskhan, which didn’t go for Fake Out, picking up two KOs on the first turn and essentially sealing it up right there.
G2 ends up being me making the right call T1 once again. We start with the same leads, but this time I end up matching Tailwinds with Andrew’s Tornadus and remove his Kangaskhan once again. Lucario ends up exerting too much pressure for him to set up Xerneas, especially since I’ve had Kyogre and Tapu Lele in the back to further pressure a set up.
I had recognized his name, but it wasn’t until after our set that I remembered why his face was so familiar to me. At some point in our second game, it dawned to me that Andrew Davis was in fact @felixthecatyo, one of the casters from Hartford Regionals a couple months prior. Super friendly guy. It was a pleasure to have a chat with him after our set, too.
Seeing Gengar and Rayquaza together in team preview always makes me somewhat anxious. On most teams I’d assume Mega Gengar, but if there is another potential Mega on the team, I get paranoid and expect a Trick Room variant with a potential Focus Sash, completely changing my priority list of who to target. With Wolfe Glick winning NAIC shortly before that using a quite similar team with both Mega Ray and Mega Gengar, I wasn’t too sure, so I played as if it was not the Trick Room variant. Luckily, I was correct.
Both games, I led Lunala/Koko and made sure I got the speed control and prevented the Bronzong from setting up a Trick Room. With Lele and Ogre in the back, I was set for any endgame against Incineroar and Rayquaza, so long as I made sure to keep the speed advantage.
At 2-0, I faced the first Japanese player I have ever faced in an official real life tournament, and I honestly never could’ve been prepared for what was coming next. His team was very interesting and creative, having crazy amounts of techs that I would learn about during and after our set. He had an Adamant Choice Band Groudon, Lunala with Kasib Berry and Hypnosis, Gravity/Skill Swap Lele, and a Darkinium Z Pheromosa, which could OHKO Lunala through its Shadow Shield.
I did notice that his Lele wasn’t Scarf thanks to leading Lunala/Koko, but instead of expecting the Gravnosis, I thought it might be a TR Lunala with Ally Switch, which turned out to be incorrect. I used Sky Drop onto the Lunala slot and Z-Moved the Lele slot to cover for an Ally Switch, which didn’t come. Because of Kasib Berry, it lived my Moongeist Beam the turn after, went for a blind Hypnosis, and hit it. He gained speed control thanks to Tailwind and sealed up the game. I couldn’t come up with a quick adaptation and predicted an Ally Switch incorrectly early on to whiff my MMM, which ended up going into the Lele again instead of the Lunala. He hit blind Hypnosis again, this time for a 3-turn sleep, so there was not much I could do to make a comeback in this match.
Playing against Don was an amazing experience and probably one of the most fun sets I had all day. He was hyped to see Ribombee in team preview, so I brought it to all the games. Both of us running hyper offensive teams meant that the games were pretty quick and each turn had a much higher significance. With Tailwind and Electroweb, I had slightly better tools to keep the speed control, so overall, I felt like I had the matchup. Even though Ribombee basically always dropped on T1, forcing Don to double it with UNec and Mega Beedrill before setting Tailwind gave Koko the freedom to start using Electroweb before Lunala hit the field. At that point, I needed to make sure to remove two of his Pokémon before I sent in my Kyogre to remove his ability to reposition his Groudon to establish weather control.
This semi-mirror was not something I specifically prepared for, but one I had theorycrafted briefly before. I wanted to play around the Speed tie, so I led Koko and Ribombee. I tried to use G1 to find out whether or not he had a Trick Room mode. Since that wasn’t the case, I could secure the better board position in both games thanks to Tailwind and Electroweb. All I needed to do to finish the games was keep up the pressure with Lunala and Kyogre once I got the speed control.
I was feeling pretty good going into Round 6 with a record of 5-1, but I knew that X-1 was needed for a safe top cut, so it was still a long road to Top16. Caleb Ryor was another name I recognized, so I was eager to play against him.
I definitely liked my matchup going into team preview and recognized that his answers to a Lunala/Lele lead were limited, especially with Kyogre in the back. I was slightly worried that a Sashed Persian with Taunt might disrupt my Lunala, but he decided not to lead that. In retrospect, he told me that even with that option, he would be on the back foot regarding the leads. In G1 I managed to quickly score a KO on Tapu Fini thanks to a double up with Moonblast and MMM while he protected his Salamence in the face of a fast Tapu Lele. Keeping up the pressure against Salamence with my scarfed Lele’s Moonblast while setting up my own Tailwind pretty much set the tone for the second game, so I managed to clinch that as well.
William and I are mutuals and had talked before, but funnily enough, neither of us knew the other’s full name, so it was a surprise for both of us when I came to the table and we realized who we were actually up against.
Playing against this matchup resembles playing against XernDon with TornKang, although Groudon being replaced by Kyogre improves the matchup for me as I don’t have to worry about winning the weather war anymore. Because I expected a TornKang lead, I decided to lead Lunala/Lucario like in Round 1 against Andrew. To cover for a potential Amoonguss/Xern lead, I brought Tapu Koko in the back. He does end up leading TornKang in both games. Lucario and Tapu Koko end up deciding the set for me as they pressure both his lead and his restricted in the back. In G2, Tapu Koko managed to clutch the set for me as I used Sky Drop onto his Kangaskhan on my last and his second to last Tailwind turn. That way, I prevented his Kangaskhan from moving at all on his last turn of Tailwind, leaving my Lunala free to set a second Tailwind, which ended up winning the game for me.
I was honestly not thrilled to see this at team preview, as Yveltal is always rough to handle for my team. His combination of Ogre and Amoonguss dealt a lot of damage by using Rage Powder and Water Spout, which I somewhat handled by having Tapu Koko chip the Kyogre to lower the Water Spout damage. All three games ended up being very close, with him winning G1 thanks to Yveltal’s Tailwind, which I wasn’t able to match due to the immense pressure coming from his team. In G2, Koko and Ribombee secured the speed control for me as Koko also did significant damage to Kyogre. This time around, thanks to the speed control, I end up coming out on top for G2.
For all 3 games of the set, Grant stuck with a combination of Amoonguss, Ogre, Yveltal, and Kartana. In the last game, he managed to put me into a tight spot once again. With my back against the wall, I needed a double Protect to stall out the last turn of his Tailwind. I managed to pull that off and out of the two heavily damaged Kyogres, mine turned out to be the faster one. Grant was very courteous in spite of the double Protect, which I appreciated. It was a pleasure to play such an intense set against him.
This had been my first time going 7-1, and looking back at that morning, I really didn’t expect to come anywhere close to Top 16 at an event with 350+ players. I tried my best to stay calm, since I still wanted to do well in my last round to secure a X-1 record, so I wouldn’t need to rely on resistance to top cut.
Once again, I see a familiar name on the pairings. This time, it’s Hengyue Zhang, a player I already faced the previous day at Worlds Day 1, where I lost to him. We both chose to use the same team as on Day 1, so going into this match, we had at least some info about the opposing team. I knew that his Rayquaza was giving me trouble and that his Suicune was pretty bulky with a Berry, so for G1, I tried to go for a slow approach to gain board control with Electroweb, instead of going for an early knock out onto Suicune. That worked out pretty well, and I could deal with Xern as well as Ray once they hit the field thanks to Lucario’s immense pressure onto Xern and Electroweb making Kyogre faster than the chipped Rayquaza.
In G2, I used the same approach and we got into an endgame situation in which he has a boosted Xerneas at roughly 70% HP as his last Pokémon, but at -1 Speed thanks to Electroweb spam, while I have a 20% HP Kyogre outside of Rain and a full HP Lucario just about to hit the field. I’m thinking that Kyogre isn’t a relevant factor anymore as Dazzling Gleam would pick up the KO on both of my Pokémon anyways. A Meteor Mash hit would win me the set, but I ended up missing it and losing the game to tie the set 1-1. In G3, he adapts and I get some calls and calcs slightly wrong, resulting in losing the set. I finished up with a 7-2 record in Swiss.
I was slightly annoyed to have missed the Meteor Mash for a potential 8-1 cut, but couldn’t be too upset after winning my previous round on a double Protect. I checked my resistance and realized that it was actually pretty good, so I still had hope for top cut. In the end, the results were posted and I was exhilarated to see that I had made it into top cut as the 15th seed.
After checking the seeds, I realized I had to face Takuma (2nd seed) once again, leaving me with an entire evening to prepare for the Top 16 match. This time around, I had a better idea of what his team was capable of. I worked with my roommate and friend Jake Powell, who already knew my team fairly well (since we both had played a similar core in Sun Series), to come up with a new general game plan. Preserving Tapu Koko’s Electric Terrain against the Hypnosis was the key idea of this new approach and when I faced Takuma again the next morning, and the plan worked really well for G1. I prevent Gravnosis from sleeping me in T1, remove his Lunala, get speed control up with Tailwind and have Kyogre win out. Since his Groudon was Choice Band, I didn’t have to worry about weather control.
In both G2 and G3 however, the Tapu Lele, which was faster than his own Lunala even though it wasn’t Scarfed, used Skill Swap onto my Lunala, both resetting the Terrain and removing my Shadow Shield after I switched in Tapu Koko. I had to hope for him to miss at least once when going for a blind Hypnosis, but he hit all of them and managed to get 2-turn and 3-turn sleeps. I didn’t have enough resources to regain board control, so Top 16 was where my DC Open run ended.
Takuma didn’t speak English, but was one of the humblest, friendliest, and most respectful opponents I have ever faced in a tournament match, so it was an honor and actually a lot of fun to play against him and his very creative team.
In the end, I was anything but upset. I did what I could, had no regrets, and managed to top cut a Regional-level event for the first time after exactly one season of playing real life events. That was a really great experience to have, and added to an already amazing trip. Not only did I see many new places I always wanted to visit, but I also had the chance to meet so many old and new friends (some of which I’d never had the chance to meet in real life for so long before Worlds).
With that being said, I did mention earlier that I thought about not going for another Worlds invite for the 2020 season, but… when Worlds 2020 is so close to my home country and with this kind of head-start so early in the season, can I really NOT go for another invite?
At this point, I want to thank and shout out some people in the community who have supported me in one way or another.
First of all, shoutouts to my friend Naanua (@naanua2424) for being one of the most dedicated Pokémon soft-resetters. She literally spent hours and days resetting legendaries for me, even though she doesn’t even play VGC (anymore). We even got Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, respectively, for that reason.
Of course, I also have to thank my old friend Benjamin Robinson (@Nekrovoid) for offering to Shiny hunt a Shiny Riolu for me using the Masuda method. He just asked me if I want to use a Shiny Lucario as a lucky charm, which I jokingly accepted, but he actually did it!
If you guys are looking for an awesome artist, make sure to give Kuro (@Kuroryushin) a follow! She was the one who created the beautiful picture portraying Lucario and Ribombee you see in the banner of the report, and I am still amazed at how well she captured the picture I envisioned in my head when I commissioned her!
A quick shoutout also goes to Alexander Becker, who I faced in the Frankfurt MSS finals and who showed me how strong of a Pokémon Ribombee really is.
A team report wouldn’t be a good one without a great title, so big thanks to Jamie Boyt (@JamieBoytVGC) for coming up with this one!
I mentioned this earlier in the report, but I wanted to specifically thank Alex Ogloza (@AlexOgloza) for the team inspiration early on in Sun Series. Hanging in your streams has always been a lot of fun, and you’ve been actively supporting the community too, so a big thank you for that as well!
Another very special shoutout goes out to Jake Powell (@bigguyVGC), who has been helping me a lot this season. It was an honor to teambuild and theorycraft with you, and it was great to see you be so genuinely happy for me to make top cut. You even helped me with this team report, so it goes without saying how much I appreciate you.
Many people within the community have said it, and I will say it again: it’s the friends that you make along the way that make this all feel so special and I appreciate all the support I get from every single one of you. Romy, Jimpy, Shade, Baked, Fevzi, Jorijn, Nicole and all the other people from the Discord, thanks for making all these events so enjoyable and fun! I really can’t wait for the next time we get to hang at events together!
Last but not least, I want to thank you guys for taking the time and reading this team report of mine. I hope you enjoyed it. If there is anything else you’d like to know, feel free to shoot me a DM on Discord or Twitter (@Jocario).
Until next time! 🙂