Hello, my name is Jesse Beard and I am a long-time onlooker and first-time contributor in the VGC Community. I have been playing Pokémon my whole life, going way back to my first game in Pokémon Yellow, however, I was first exposed to the competitive scene in 2015 when I stumbled upon a YouTube video of a Pachirisu winning the World Championship. From there, I learned that there were so many aspects of this game I had been playing my whole life that I didn’t know existed. I dove into the world of EV’s and IV’s and breeding but it wasn’t until Wolfe Glick and his 2016 World’s winning team that I decided to try my hand at VGC. Even then, it took me a while to convince myself I could compete in a tournament.
The 2019 Oceania International was only my 2nd tournament, with the first being Oceania in 2018 where I started 0-2 and ended up 4-4. Though the result was average, I proved to myself that I was at the very least a half-decent player. Fast forward a year to this Valentine’s weekend in Melbourne and I am going 5-2, playing on stream and placing 11th, surrounded by International and World Champions. This was well beyond my expectations and I hope it can inspire other players who think they will never have a chance to back themselves and give it a go.
- 11th Place at 2019 Oceania International Championship
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 28 HP / 4 Def / 252 SpA / 28 SpD / 196 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
Xerneas needs little explaining. This team went through many changes but this Xerneas was constant. I bring it to every single game. The small bulk allows it to survive Kyogre Water Spout if needed and the speed is 2 points higher than Modest Kyogre to speed creep Pokémon EV’d to outspeed Kyogre, particularly other Xerneas that weren’t Timid. Most people EV to live Timid Moonblast, so I went with Modest to pick up surprise KO’s against the likes of Incineroar, while also maintaining significant offensive pressure without relying on setting up. The more I played, the more I realised how much easier it is when you are the faster Xerneas, so I see why Timid is so popular, but the damage output from Modest is disgusting and should not be underestimated. Spread damage from Dazzling Gleam would have been nice, but I chose Substitute for a better matchup vs Smeargle and Amoonguss and to punish defensive plays.
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 28 HP / 28 SpD Xerneas in Rain: 172-204 (83.9 – 99.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 186-219 (93 – 109.5%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Tapu Koko: 151-178 (103.4 – 121.9%) — guaranteed OHKO
Jynx @ Focus Sash
Ability: Dry Skin
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
– Fake Out
– Icy Wind
– Skill Swap
Jynx is an extremely underrated Pokémon in this meta and the only other constant in this team. Dry Skin is an amazing ability as people have proven with Toxicroak and its support with a Fast Fake out and Icy Wind is incredible. It gives you so much control in a Kyogre match-up. Unfortunately, I only faced two Kyogre all day. Fortunately, one was on stream so I got to show Jynx off to the world.
This is the only calc that matters: Kyogre Water Spout vs. Dry Skin Jynx: 0-0 (0 – 0%) — aim for the horn next time
Otherwise, Focus Sash is necessary because you will die to a U-turn from Incineroar. Offensively, STAB Icy Wind does significant damage to the likes of Tornadus, Kartana, and Tsareena, whilst the speed control is also crucial in combating Choice Scarf Kyogre and Tornadus’ Tailwind. Psyshock threatens Toxicroak and Amoonguss while doing a decent chunk to Kyogre itself and Skill Swap because the most satisfying feeling in this game is when your opponent tries to Hydro Vortex your Xerneas and kill it through its boosts, but instead ends up healing you. I pretty much only clicked Fake Out and Icy Wind in the games I brought it, but I wouldn’t change this set at all.
You’ll notice no Lovely Kiss for this Valentine’s Day. This is because I hate the sleep condition. In fact, up until a week before the tournament, I wasn’t even running Spore on Amoonguss. However, it seemed to be the play since two Smeargles faced off in the final. Regardless, I don’t regret not running it.
Yveltal @ Darkinium Z
Ability: Dark Aura
EVs: 4 HP / 252 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 244 Spe
– Foul Play
– Knock Off
I tried many different restricted Pokémon to partner Xerneas, but I felt most comfortable with Yveltal. Dark and Fairy have perfect coverage with each other so there is no Pokémon that wanted to take a move from Yveltal or its Life Partner Xerneas. I tested the common Assault Vest set, and honestly, it probably is the best Yveltal set and would have made some of my match-ups a lot easier. I just felt a lot more comfortable with an offensive set. The Z-move is extremely powerful and threatens massive damage on everything that isn’t named Incineroar. You just have to be really careful bringing it to Xerneas match-ups. The only two I really consider bringing it to is Xernala and XernDon for the ground immunity.
Foul Play gives you the most powerful Z-Move, plus also lets you hang around when intimidated, Knock Off gives you a more reliable offensive option and I really wanted Tailwind on it as it gave me great speed control. Sucker Punch would have come in handy many times, but I just couldn’t fit it on this set.
I ran one-speed point under max, as I favoured guaranteed knowledge of speed stats over a potential speed tie with Xerneas, but still needed to outspeed Lunala
- 252 Atk Dark Aura Yveltal Black Hole Eclipse (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 219-258 (124.4 – 146.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 Atk Dark Aura Yveltal Black Hole Eclipse (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Shadow Shield Lunala: 440-522 (206.5 – 245%) — guaranteed OHKO
Incineroar @ Figy Berry
EVs: 172 HP / 4 Atk / 4 Def / 252 SpD / 76 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
I tried so hard to not run Incineroar. I was using Infernape for a long time to better threaten Stakataka and a fast taunt for Smeargle. I even went as far to breed it in game, managed to hatch a shiny and exhausted a lot of time and bottle caps to make its IVs perfect. Unfortunately, once I was testing on Battle Spot, it just didn’t click and I very reluctantly went back to Incineroar. I hope to find a place for my shiny Infernape one day.
I deviated slightly from the standard Incineroar. I wanted to outspeed as many other Incineroar as possible, and this set hits a speed stat of 90, which has the added bonus of outspeeding Kartana and base 110s under Tailwind. I don’t think I lost a fake out war all tournament which made me feel more comfortable in Incineroar Xerneas mirrors. This speed comes at a cost though, with a 25% chance to die to Xerneas Moonblast, which I thought was a fair compromise.
The other interesting thing about it is Taunt as the fourth move. I wanted to stop roar, trick room and spore from Amoonguss. To be perfectly honest Roar probably would have been better as it would have improved my Xerneas match-up, but Taunt did come in handy in testing and helped stop Trick Room a couple of times in the tournament
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 172 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 168-198 (87.5 – 103.1%) — 25% chance to OHKO
Amoonguss @ Occa Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 44 Def / 212 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Clear Smog
– Rage Powder
Amoonguss was the team member I was most concerned with going into the tournament, but it came in clutch several times. Its job was basically to remove opposing Xerneas boosts so my Xerneas could win, which it did so many times in the tournament. As said before I do not like sleep. I was running Grass Knot for a long time but added Spore because I felt my Smeargle match-up was awful without it. Lucky me, I did not face a single Smeargle and I only remember clicking spore once, turn one of my streamed match where it died to a Life Orb Tapu Koko Brave Bird before it could move. Still, even without Spore, Amoonguss is a tremendous support Pokémon with Redirection, Clear Smog, and Regenerator.
Occa Berry was great on this team, as Incineroar is the only Fire resist while Jynx and Kartana could probably die to an Ember. It allows Amoonguss to take a Moonblast from Xerneas and a Flare Blitz from Incineroar and survive 98% of the time. This came into play multiple times in the tournament and I would highly recommend trying it if you’re struggling with Fire Types.
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 212+ SpD Amoonguss: 93-110 (42 – 49.7%) — guaranteed 3HKO
- 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 252 HP / 44 Def Occa Berry Amoonguss: 96-114 (43.4 – 51.5%) — 6.6% chance to 2HKO
Kartana @ Assault Vest
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 20 HP / 20 Atk / 4 Def / 252 SpD / 212 Spe
– Leaf Blade
– Smart Strike
– Sacred Sword
– Knock Off
I’ve been a big fan of Kartana for a while now and really struggle to build a team without it. Sky high attack and great speed in this meta with great coverage moves and great typing. Assault Vest makes up for its abysmal special defence and gives it enough bulk to survive what it needs to survive. Kartana threatens massive damage on all the most common Pokémon, especially if you can remove Incineroar early. It can take a hit from Kyogre and Xerneas and threaten them in return and perhaps its best trait is the ability to threaten good damage on its most common counter, Incineroar, with Sacred Sword.
The moveset is standard and the EVs aren’t too funky. I did run a bit of extra speed to outspeed Nihilego, as it proved a problem in testing, threating big damage on pretty much my whole team. This also meant I outsped most other AV Kartana which was a nice bonus.
- 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 20 HP / 4 Def Kartana in Rain: 120-144 (87.5 – 105.1%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO – if you’re running non-sash Kartana, just put 20 EVs in HP, it makes this calc much nicer
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 20 HP / 252 SpD Assault Vest Kartana: 114-135 (83.2 – 98.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- -1 20 Atk Kartana Smart Strike vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 96-114 (47.5 – 56.4%) — 75.4% chance to 2HKO
The team is pretty simple. You have two options, one is to lead Xerneas and set up earlier to win. Two is to lead Yveltal, threaten a lot of damage and remove a threat early, and sweep with Xerneas in the back. Like a lot of teams, Xerneas is the key, bring it to pretty much every match. You have two Fake Out options and Amoonguss redirection/Clear Smog support to help Xerneas set up and then Kartana is there for extra damage and to threaten opposing Xerneas.
If the opponent has a Xerneas, you really need to weigh up how important Yveltal is in the match-up, because chances are Jynx/Incineroar and Amoonguss and Kartana are going to be able to offer more. Although, if the opponent doesn’t have Xerneas, Yveltal will offer a lot of damage about and will be able to clear the way for Xerneas. Substitute is amazing on Xerneas, allowing it to stick around while you position yourself to remove its threats and to stall out Trick Room and Tailwind.
Jynx basically controls the Kyogre match-up. Bring it in every game against a Kyogre, unless you expect them not to bring it, which happened against both the Kyogre teams I faced. Being immune to water, plus Fake Out and Icy Wind really allows you to dictate terms, even if your opponent has complete weather control. Opponents will often bring Kyogre in the back, make sure you preserve Jynx or at least have a way to deal with it. Don’t be afraid to skill swap your teammates. In fact, the team originally centered around Jynx skill swapping Dry Skin on to Ho-Oh. I quickly learned that Ho-Oh isn’t amazing, but Jynx is.
Core Combinations and Common Leads
Virtually every game I would lead Fake Out plus a restricted. Basically, if there is a Kyogre, lead Jynx plus Restricted, if not, lead Incineroar plus Restricted. The only two times I didn’t were on stream, but that was me reacting to Malcolm’s very threatening Alolan Raichu + Tapu Koko core. But generally, there a four common leads.
One of the most common leads in the metagame because it’s difficult to stop. A faster Fake Out than other Incineroars as well as Taunt and Substitute help stop your opponent from stopping your Geomancy. It performs well in the mirror due to Incineroar’s speed.
I’d lead this, with Xerneas and something else in the back, against Kyogre teams that lacked Xerneas or a good way to threaten Yveltal. This lead threatens Fake Out and has both Icy Wind and Tailwind options so you will almost always have speed control. Yveltal will usually threaten a KO if you can play around Incineroar
I would mainly lead this against TornOgre teams with Xerneas or if the opponent doesn’t seem to have many answers to my own Xerneas. Icy Wind + Protect when Fake Out is active can put you in a great position as the opponent usually needs to focus down the Xerneas. Of course, you always have the Fake Out + Geomancy option if the situation allows it.
Probably the least common lead of the four, but similar to Jynx + Yveltal it offers Fake Out and Tailwind option or Fake Out and Z-Move.
This is one of the few Kyogre leads that can cause a bit of trouble. It blocks Jynx’s Fake Out which means you can’t get a Geomancy up with Xerneas or a Z-Move off with Yveltal without taking a Water Spout. Tsareena also creates a mind game in whether the opponent will Feint and Spout or Helping Hand and Spout. Overall the best option here is usually to retreat your restricted into Amoongus to take the spout and Icy Wind with Jynx so you can reposition
A lead that strikes fear into so many people. I was running Infernape for a long time and the fast Fake Out and Taunt made the match-up so much easier. When I reverted back to Incineroar it became a real struggle. I found the best way out was to lead Amoonguss + Xerneas and Spore the Smeargle while you Geomancy or set up a Sub. They will likely Lovely Kiss the Amoonguss and if you avoid it you are in a great position. If it hits though, you need to avoid damage on Xerneas while you stall out sleep turns and eventually try and get a spore off on the Smeargle. If you can keep both alive and get the spore off you put yourself in a decent position
+Anything that isn’t Xerneas = Great Match-Up
Jynx and Yveltal usually dominate this match-up and allow Xerneas to sweep in the back. If the partner is Lunala or Dusk Mane, Yveltal particularly dominates, just try and avoid letting them get Trick Room up and you should be fine
+ = Good Match-Up
Xerneas complicates the match-up a bit as Yveltal can’t dominate. I’d usually leave it on the bench, leading Jynx + Xerneas with Amoongus and Kartana in the back. If you can get Xerneas set up and get an Icy Wind off on the opposing Xerneas, or even better a Clear Smog, you should be in a good position.
+ = Okay Match-Up
This can be a good match-up, but it’s difficult to decide who to bring. Incineroar plus Xerneas is the go-to lead, Yveltal can be nice as a ground immunity, but obviously, you need to be very careful around the opposing Xerneas. Kartana and Amoongus can be good but XernDon teams can often carry multiple Fire Types, such as Incineroar, Volcanona, Talonflame and even Charizard, which can limit their effectiveness. Incineroar is important as it’s the only thing that can take sun-boosted fire attacks. If you can get your Xerneas set up first or remove your opponent’s boosts you should go well. You do have to be careful of a Z-Move from Volcarona, Talonflame or Charizard though.
+ = Tough Match-up
Not ideal to have a tough match-up against the most dominant core at the tournament, but to be honest, it’s not the Xerneas + Lunala combination that is tough, it is the Smeargle + Xerneas lead. As outlined above its difficult to get the upper hand, usually relying on a Lovely Kiss miss or some favourable sleep turns. Again it would be nice to bring Yveltal to wall Lunala but you need to be careful around Xerneas. Sucker Punch on Yveltal would have been nice if you can get it enough damage on the Xerneas early. Snarl or Roar on Incineroar would have also been nice in this match-up and might have been a better option over Taunt.
Rundown of Tournament
One thing I am still learning as an inexperienced tournament player is taking proper notes. So this will be based on my memory as well as some very brief notes I made and I apologise if I remembered anything incorrectly.
Round 1: Luke Iuele (AUS) – WW
Mirror match first up and substitute Xerneas dominated this game. I was able to set up my Xerneas and sit in front of his Amoonguss both games, while I removed his Xerneas’ boosts with my own Amoonguss. Luke admitted to me after the set that he had Roar on Incineroar but got rid of it right before the tournament. It would certainly have improved his match up against my substitute Xerneas, and reminded me what I learned during practice, that most XY players do run Roar on their Incin. In saying that, I was off to a good start after going 0-2 in my first tournament.
Round 2: Alyssa Smith (US) – WW
This was a match-up I was worried about going into the tournament but I got through it okay. I don’t recall too much about this set to be honest, except, I believe she led with Groudon in game one and it allowed me to get Yveltal in without Xerneas threatening it. She set up with swords dance but I was able to do massive damage with Foul Play because of it. I don’t remember much of game two but I think I got a crit with Xerneas on her Incineroar from full health, which may not have mattered because I am modest. I was now 2-0 and sitting at the top tables, not a place I was expecting to be.
Round 3: Trent Sayer (NZ) – WLW
Trent was a good Kiwi bloke that was good fun to face. He was in a similar position to me, not expecting to be at the top tables. I was much more comfortable with the YvelDon match-up but I had to play around Stakataka. This is where Taunt came in handy on Incineroar as I was able to stop Trick Room getting up in game one. He was Sub Z-Move Groudon which I think is underrated and made the match slightly more difficult as he had greater offensive pressure, however, after a sub I was able to KO it with Black Hole Eclipse in game one. In game two, he positioned well to get Trick Room up against my boosted Xerneas, but I made a call that he would predict my Xerneas to Protect and target the other slot, and I was able to pick up a double KO. This left his close to full health Incineroar against my Xerneas, Kartana and Yveltal all low health and under Trick Room. He seemed resigned to a loss but I was thinking about how not to lose and probably played sub-optimally and managed to lose after clawing back my positioning. Game 3 went better though as he made a wrong call turn 1. I got Geomancy up and this time I didn’t let Trick Room get set up and I was 3-0.
Round 4: Jason Emmanuelle (AUS) – WW
Jason had a very interesting team. I recognised in team preview that this would be Yveltal’s game to shine as he had Ho-Oh and Celesteela as dedicated Xerneas walls. Game 1 he led Phermosa and Ho-Oh into my Jynx and Yveltal. He was definitely protecting Pheromosa so I Fake Out Ho-Oh and Tailwind. From there Yveltal dominated, KO’ing Ho-Oh with the Z-Move and doing a lot of damage against Celesteela with Knock Off while Jynx maintained control with Icy Wind. Game 2 he adjusted well by bringing Raichu and got a paralysis on Yveltal and a Tailwind up. He didn’t have any intimidate though, so he struggled to contain Yveltal’s damage output. Jynx continued to Icy Wind while Yveltal KO’d Raichu with Knock Off and Celesteela with the Z-Move while Jynx whittled Ho-Oh down with Icy Wind and Psyshock until it was -4 and underspeeding my paralysed Yveltal under Tailwind.
Round 5: Malcolm Mackellar (AUS) – LWW
This match was streamed and I highly recommend watching it as it was my most intense set of the day. It can be watched at about 4:27:00 on Twitch.
Spoilers below if you want to watch the match first.
I wasn’t a big fan of my match-up against Tapu Koko as it threatens big damage on Xerneas and a KO on Yveltal, and Alolan Raichu just made this worse. My go to play was to redirect attacks with Amoonguss. This did not work out as his Tapu Koko KO’d my Amoonguss with Brave Bird which I really didn’t expect. I was a bit thrown after such an awful first turn but I managed to get back into it and set up my Xerneas. It then came down to whether his Lele could KO my Xerneas from about 55% HP. I think it was a roll in his favour but if I had survived I would have won which gave me a bit of confidence back after how the match started.
Game 2 started very poorly as well, I was just expecting Fake Out turn one, the Z-Move didn’t cross my mind and to have my Xerneas paralysed and take so much damage on turn one again put me on the back foot. I did get bailed out by a rock slide miss on my Xerneas so my sub was still intact, not sure how the game would have gone from there if Xerneas went down, but bringing Kartana over Amoongus paid off as it was able to clean up the rest of his Pokémon. I believe Malcolm’s Kyogre was Specs, so it had to lock itself into Thunder because of Jynx which really helped me win that game.
Game 3 started much better, Kartana was able to tank the Z-Move from Raichu and KO it in return with Knock Off and from there I felt pretty comfortable. I did get taunted as I Geomancy’d and missed an Icy Wind the same turn which I thought would cost me, but I managed to KO the Tapu Koko and it was left to Tapu Lele vs Yveltal. I was pretty sure I could take a Timid Moonblast, therefore, I was pretty sure I could take a fairy aura boosted dazzling gleam. Even then I was relieved to hang on. I clicked the Z-Move for dramatic effect, Knock Off and Tailwind both win 100% of the time too. Probably not optimal to reveal that information but I wanted to end the game in style.
I felt I got lucky in that set, avoiding flinches, paralysis and rock slides, but I was 5-0 and one win away from Top Cut so I was feeling pretty good.
Round 6: Liam Gilbert (AUS) – LWL
My first Xernala match-up, but thankfully no Smeargle. Game one was going great, both our Xerneas’ were set up, but I was faster so I felt comfortable. Then Liam’s Xerneas Crit my own Xerneas with a Dazzling Gleam and from there I lost. I went into game two with the same game plan as I felt it was pretty successful without the crit. This time it worked, I got my Xerneas set-up, removed the boosts on his Xerneas with Amoonguss, then got Yveltal in to deal with his Lunala. Then in game three, I started burning Lunala’s Z-Move into Xerneas’ Protect. Then before I could geomancy he crit my Xerneas again with Moongeist Beam, KO’ing from about 75%. I tried to win the game with Kartana but I didn’t really have much of a chance. Liam was super nice and apologised profusely but that’s the game, I had my luck in the previous round. He obviously had a great tournament and deserved his Top 8 spot.
Round 7: James Katsaros (AUS) – LL
Another mirror, this time with double fire. A combination of a poor match-up and getting outplayed. Yveltal was useless with 4 dark resists and James had so many ways to deal with Xerneas, plus I forgot my lesson about XY players running roar on Incineroar. I really don’t know how I’d approach this match-up in hindsight, he had answers to all my Pokémon. Congrats to James on his Top 4 finish, this was the only set that I felt like I had no control.
Although disappointed to miss out on Top 8, overall I was ecstatic with my performance. 11th place, just ahead of Paul Ruiz, Yuree, Ashton, and Jeremy was way more than I expected. It was also amazing winning such an intense set on stream.
I feel the XY archetype is strong. It should have a decent matchup against Xernala which dominated the tournament, especially with AV Yveltal, as long as you can reliably deal with Smeargle. I hope that because of me Jynx sees a bit more usage as it is such as solid Kyogre counter. If I can come 11th with it then I’m sure a better player can go one step further.
I don’t really know too many people in the VGC community, but I’d like to thank all the people I met throughout the day for being genuinely nice and supportive. I’d like to thank my partner Jasmine for coming with me to Melbourne on Valentine’s Day even though she’s not really into Pokémon. Also, my best mate Corey who was watching on stream and got mad when I didn’t give him a shout out then. Lastly, Wolfe Glick, for being the main reason I got into VGC.
Credit to dekus for featured image