Hello, everyone! I’m Mohamed Nihal, more commonly known as Mr.GX online. I got into Pokémon VGC after watching the inspirational Worlds 2014 finals. Due to a lack of events, I’m forced to rely on online grassroots tournaments and the Showdown ladder to play competitively. As such, I was thrilled to take part in the Trainer Tower Scramble. The team I used to win the event was a unique XRay composition. Without further ado, let’s get to it!
- 1st place at Trainer Tower Spring Scramble
- 1st on Showdown Ladder, peaked at a 1786 rating
The Team Building Process
While Moon series was underway, I started tinkering with possible Ultra series teams. The first team I made was centered around the XRay archetype. Incineroar was a staple in this format, and helped Xerneas set up, in addition to providing Intimidate, Fire-type coverage and Fake Out to stall out opposing speed control. Amoonguss goes exceptionally well with Xerneas thanks to its redirection, and the duo felt incredibly consistent. Moreover, it countered opposing Xerneas with Clear Smog. Tapu Koko was added to help maintain terrain control, and to prevent Sleep. Not to mention, the Z-Move helped deal big chunks of damage to Stakataka and Dusk Mane. Last, but not least, Suicune. It’s support options and pure Water-typing was favorable against Mega Gengar, which the team struggled against.
As the team initially felt really weak against the newer Steel-type Pokemon like Dusk Mane Necrozma, Stakataka, Togedemaru, etc, I ended up ditching it. However, after watching AceNowak use a similar composition on ladder, I felt motivated again and decided to try and fix my first Ultra Series team. We both agreed the duo suffers greatly against the vast amount of bulky Steel-types in the meta. As such, it was necessary to add some techs to even the match-up.
Dormammu (Xerneas) @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
I decided to go with Xerneas, because frankly, it’s the best restricted legendary in the format. The mere presence of Xerneas in team preview forces your opponent to lead against it or pack in their bulky Steel-types, because once boosted, it’s effectively a nuke. Combined with Mega Rayquaza, the duo provides unmatched offensive pressure with insane coverage. I decided to go with a standard 252/252 spread with a Modest Nature to secure KO’s on Incineroar and Tapu Fini after some chip damage, which is usually provided by my Incineroar. Max speed was used to outspeed bulkier Xerneas variants, which came in handy a lot.
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 236 HP / 236+ SpD Incineroar: 186-219 (93 – 109.5%) — 56.3% chance to OHKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 76+ SpD Tapu Fini: 162-192 (91.5 – 108.4%) — 50% chance to OHKO
Basilisk (Rayquaza-Mega) @ Life Orb
Ability: Delta Stream
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpA / 252 Spe
– Extreme Speed
– Dragon Ascent
– Earth Power
Rayquaza provides great coverage, priority offense and weather control. Being able to OHKO the likes of Amoonguss, Kartana, and Mega Gengar while dealing enormous damage to Incineroar, Tapu Fini, and opposing Xerneas makes Rayquaza an ideal pick for the team. Initially a SD Sash set, I was forced to change it to a mixed set thanks to the large number of viable Steel-type Pokémon introduced in Gen 7. Earth Power allows Mega Rayquaza to take out Togedemaru and Stakataka, while dealing a decent amount of damage to Primal Groudon, Solgaleo, and Dusk Mane Necrozma. To compensate for the lack of Swords Dance, I went with Life Orb to further boost its offensive capabilities.
- 4 SpA Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Earth Power vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Primal Groudon: 161-190 (77.7 – 91.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 Atk Life Orb Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 177-211 (87.6 – 104.4%) — 25% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Ice Beam vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Mega Rayquaza in Strong Winds: 144-172 (80 – 95.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Bird Up (Tapu Koko) @ Electrium Z
Ability: Electric Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Nature’s Madness
I needed a terrain setter to combat Ultra Necrozma + Tapu Lele, and I never felt comfortable using Tapu Fini as it felt too passive, and I prefer my bulky Water-type to be able to deal with Mega Gengar. Tapu Koko added Electric Terrain to the team, and ended up becoming my Z-Move user. Taunt helped deal with Tailwind/Trick Room/Geomancy, and a fast Nature Madness coupled with Mega Rayquaza’s offense picked up easy KO’s.
- 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Mega Rayquaza in Electric Terrain: 181-214 (100 – 118.2%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 252 SpA Tapu Koko Gigavolt Havoc (175 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Xerneas in Electric Terrain: 184-217 (91 – 107.4%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO
Mew Mew (Suicune) @ Mago Berry
EVs: 244 HP / 60 Def / 52 SpA / 100 SpD / 52 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
Suicune was added to patch up my Mega Gengar + Stakataka match-up as Amoonguss couldn’t do much against Taunt Gengar. It also helped against RayOgre, and against Lunala + Groudon. A combination of Snarl and Icy Wind often allowed Xerneas to come in late game and set up Geomancy for the win. Scald in Air Lock takes out Primal Groudon, and Tailwind was added as an additional form of speed control. Mago Berry helps with longevity, especially when used in tandem with Snarl and Intimidate.
- 52 SpA Suicune Scald vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Primal Groudon: 196-232 (94.6 – 112%) — 68.8% chance to OHKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 100+ SpD Suicune: 177-208 (85.9 – 100.9%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
- -1 252 Atk Mega Rayquaza Dragon Ascent vs. 244 HP / 60 Def Suicune: 73-87 (35.4 – 42.2%) — guaranteed 3HKO
Shroom (Amoonguss) @ Focus Sash
EVs: 244 HP / 76 Def / 188 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Grass Knot
– Rage Powder
– Clear Smog
Amoonguss had two objectives: help Xerneas set up Geomancy, and check opposing Xerneas. Mirrors often came down to how well I piloted this mushroom Pokémon. Back when I tested various items on Amoonguss, I realized I struggled against Tapu Lele, Primal Groudon and Mega Salamence/Mega Rayquaza. A weakness berry like Payapa only helped against one of those mons. As a result, I went with Focus Sash. Regenerator helped restore any lost HP to makes sure Sash isn’t broken, and helps me face off against the likes of Mega Rayquaza. Focus Sash also pressures my opponent into doubling into Amoonguss, often giving me a splendid opening to set up Xerneas.
- 4 Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 244 HP / 76 Def Amoonguss: 186-218 (84.5 – 99%) — guaranteed 2HKO after Figy Berry recovery
- +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 188+ SpD Amoonguss: 96-113 (43.6 – 51.3%) — 6.6% chance to 2HKO
Simba (Incineroar) @ Assault Vest
EVs: 244 HP / 4 Atk / 20 Def / 196 SpD / 44 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
Rayquaza does provide Ground coverage, but it doesn’t help much against Bronzong or Dusk Mane Necrozma. Not to mention, the team does seem weak against Necrozma variants, and I had no decent Lunala switch-in. Best cat Incineroar managed to fill all of these roles with its amazing typing and support options. Fake Out provided an additional Geomancy set-up opportunity, and helped stall out Trick Room/Tailwind. Double Snarl spam is simply too good against Gengar, Lunala, and Psychic Spam. Moreover, Incineroar provided the team with a much needed Intimidate, to make up for the lack of bulk investment on my restricted Pokémon. I decided to go for an Assault Vest set to better handle Xerneas and Kyogre with my Snarl strategy. The Speed investment helped me speed creep minimum Speed Primals and the standard Incineroar sets, allowing me to get the jump on my opponent with faster Fake Outs.
- 252+ SpA Primal Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 244 HP / 196+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar in Heavy Rain: 162-192 (80.5 – 95.5%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +1 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 196+ SpD Assault Vest Incineroar: 88-105 (43.7 – 52.2%) — 12.9% chance to 2HKO
The basic strategy here is to find openings to set up Geomancy on Xerneas, which is usually provided by Amoonguss and Incineroar. Once set up, you have to rely on Rayquaza and Rage Powder redirection to help Xerneas survive through the mid-game and to not lose momentum. An ideal board would be Mega Rayquaza with a boosted Xerneas, as the duo is extremely aggressive and can crush an unprepared opponent with their sheer offensive power.
Alternatively, in the event you cannot lead Xerneas (such as when your opponent has a Mega Gengar or Crobat), the game plan revolves around using Rayquaza and Suicune/Incineroar to weaken the opponent enough so that Xerneas can switch in late game and set up Geomancy safely. Suicune is especially useful against Psychic Spam with a Tapu Koko switch-in, as speed control can help swing the tide of the battle in your favor.
Core Combinations and Common Leads+ +
The bread & butter lead of the team. Checks opposing Xerneas, while helping your Xerneas set up Geomancy thanks to Rage Powder redirection. The Focus Sash is quite useful in this scenario, as it prevents an OHKO from Mega Salamence, Primal Groudon, etc. You could even go for a Spore play game 1, as your opponent most likely won’t go for the double target unless they know you run Focus Sash. Depending on the situation, you could switch in Incineroar/Mega Rayquaza to further pressure your opponent.
The core provides coverage options against the Steel-types that could wall Xerneas, while Mega Rayquaza checks Amoonguss and Primal Groudon, both of which effectively counters Xerneas. Assault Vest Incineroar further helps by providing Snarl support to help gain advantage in a drawn out game. The lead is simple and deadly, and can swing the momentum in your favor if played correctly.+
Similar to the Amoonguss lead, the purpose of this lead is to help Xerneas set up Geomancy as soon as possible. Incineroar provides Intimidate and Fake Out support, while providing Fire-type coverage against Steel-type Pokemon and Amoonguss, and can use U-turn to switch in to Mega Rayquaza to gain more offensive pressure early on. Since my Incineroar runs Speed EVs to speed creep opposing Incineroar, I can almost always get the Fake Out onto their Incineroar, allowing my boosted Xerneas to secure a KO on it with Moonblast.+
I’m not too fond of leading Xerneas against RayOgre, as most variants run Mega Gengar/Crobat/Bronzong, etc. Suicune has a good match up against this archetype, thanks to Snarl and Icy Wind. Rayquaza helps quickly take down their Mega Gengar/Crobat/Kyogre as well, and has Earth Power to OHKO Togedemaru. Furthermore, Snarl helps Rayquaza tank Special Attacks like Tapu Lele Moonblast and Kyogre Ice Beam. Once weakened enough, Xerneas can come in late game to set up Geomancy, and snatch the win from there. This lead is also efficient against the rare RayDon archetype, as Suicune in Air Lock immediately threatens Primal Groudon, and provides Speed control to have a better match up against their Mega Rayquaza.+
The double cat duo provides Intimidate, Snarl, speed control, and U-turn to pivot into a more favorable position. This helps the incoming Xerneas set up Geomancy quickly to further pressure your opponents, as their offensive options are severely weakened. Usually recommended against LunaDon and YvelOgre archetypes, especially against Gengar variants. A turn 1 U-turn into Mega Rayquaza allows you to fire off boosted LO Dragon Ascents in Tailwind as well, which can prove to be devastating if your opponent is not prepared.
Team Match-upsand : two Pokémon I look out for in Team Preview. Against Xerneas mirrors, I usually lead my own Xerneas and either Incineroar or Amoonguss depending on the rest of their team. Mega Gengar is hard to combat since it locks down my switch-in options thanks to its ability, Shadow Tag. It would be unwise to lead Xerneas and let it get trapped as it would basically be a sitting duck (or deer) against Mega Gengar. As such, I have to rely on my Suicune/Mega Rayquaza to get rid of Gengar, so Xerneas can come in late game to set up Geomancy to seal the win. +//
Psychic Spam is one match up where I have to be really cautious, or could lose early on. My go-to lead here is Xerneas & Amoonguss. Due to how common Payapa Berry is, most Tapu Lele runs Magic Room to get rid of my items, allowing its partner to OHKO Amoonguss while Xerneas gets stuck on using Geomancy. Therefore, I have to switch Amoonguss into Incineroar turn 1, and just Moonblast with Xerneas. Amoonguss is a threat for my opponent, so they will either double onto it, or use Magic Room. The switch in gives me a better board position where I can simply use Snarl to take out their weakened Pokemon.
A safer alternative would be to lead Xerneas & Suicune, and switch in Tapu Koko turn 1 while I set up Tailwind. Either Tapu Koko gets KO’d turn 1, or Suicune drops to red and triggers its Pinch Berry while I get my Tailwind up. Both scenarios work in my favor, as I can then proceed to Snarl and go on the offensive with Suicune’s partner. A couple of Icy Winds doesn’t hurt either, as it helps retain my momentum even after Tailwind runs out.+
The standard XernDon variant is an even match up for the team, in my opinion. It can be harder to deal with if they pack additional techs like Roar, but the match up is still winnable provided I position correctly. Xerneas & Amoonguss is a decent lead as I have the option to set up Geomancy, while threatening their Xerneas with Spore/Clear Smog. Furthermore, the Focus Sash allows me to get around a Groudon/Salamence lead and assert dominance as soon as possible. Having Incineroar and Rayquaza at back ensures I have a solid switch-in option when the situation calls for it.+
Mirrors are favorable to me most of the time, thanks to my Xerneas spread, which allows me to OHKO their Incineroar quickly and outspeed bulky Xerneas variants. Just like the XernDon match up, the ideal lead would be Xerneas & Amoonguss. Once again, Focus Sash Amoonguss plays a major role by tanking a Dragon Ascent from Mega Rayquaza and threatening to Spore/Clear Smog their Xerneas. In the event the opponent runs Nihilego, it would be wise to lead Xerneas & Rayquaza to threaten Nihilego with Earth Power, ensuring Xerneas can set up Geomancy safely.+
Another favorable match up. The basic game plan is to lead Suicune and Incineroar and use Snarl to weaken their Gengar/Tapu Lele/Kyogre while Incineroar uses U-turn to pivot into Mega Rayquaza. Icy Wind on Suicune helps get around Taunt, and once your opponent’s team is weakened enough, you can bring in Xerneas to set up Geomancy safely. Suicune’s natural bulk combined with Snarl, Intimidate, and the Pinch berry provides enormous longevity, and helps keep up my mode of Speed control throughout the game.+
Groudon match ups with Trick Room options and Tapu Fini have to be handled carefully, as a boosted Groudon in Gravity can simply OHKO my restricted Pokemon with Precipice Blades. Once again, the strategy is to lead Suicune and Incineroar, and use Snarl and U-Turn to weaken their Lunala as Rayquaza switches in safely. Suicune is capable of OHKO’ing Primal Groudon with Scald in Air Lock, while a LO boosted Dragon Ascent can take out a chipped Lunala/Tapu Fini. Having Incineroar and Xerneas in back ensures you have a late game Geomancy strategy available should the situation calls for it.
There is no doubt Xerneas’s worst nightmare is Mega Gengar. Being able to trap Xerneas while denying any switch-ins, Gengar can control the board at its leisure, while preventing set up with Taunt, or using fast Substitute to make KO’ing it even harder. While a combination of Suicune, Incineroar and Mega Rayquaza helps me force the Gengar player to go on the defensive, it heavily depends on their Gengar set and the rest of the team.
Eg: A YvelOgre team with Mega Gengar can be handled without much trouble. However, a XernDon Mega Gengar composition relies on calling leads correctly, and making the right reads.
Rundown of Tournament
After getting dumped into the Dawn Flight for the Round Robin session of the tournament, I took a peek at the spreadsheet only to be baffled. All 4 flights had 40+ players, and we had 2 weeks to complete as many matches as possible. I immediately logged onto Showdown and tried to hunt opponents, using the XRay Suicune team I use for laddering. I figured I might need some assistance finding opponents, so decided to team up with JoeUX9. We fought each other quickly, and went on a hunt through Twitter, Discord and Trainer Tower Forums. The team felt solid as information on my sets were scarce, and I felt comfortable taking on counter teams as I had the advantage of using a team I had been using since the start of the format. I did change slight techs on my team against certain opponents to make sure my match up wasn’t horrible. During the course of the two weeks, the only counter team I lost against was that of Star Raikou’s. He played exceptionally well, and quickly obliterated me. I proceeded to lose 2 more sets, and ended the Round Robin Pools with a record of 33-3, took the first seed, and got the bye straight into Top 16 along with the bonus 10$!
After quickly locking my team for cut, Star Raikou and I decided to team up for practice matches since we were on the opposite ends of the bracket. The other qualifiers from Dawn Flight, Legacy and Tagmouse, joined together to assist as well.
Top 16: AVLinkYoshiMario – WLW
After T28 was over, I found out I would be facing off against the two time International Champion, Ashton Cox. After some digging around, I got some information on his team: he uses a Crobat + Mega Alakazam Gravity-Hypnosis strategy, along with Xerneas. As a result, my own Xerneas was needed, along with Tapu Koko and Amoonguss. I figured Suicune could play a role as well against the Hypnosis duo. After sufficient practice matches with Martin, I felt confident enough in our game plan.
Game 1: As expected, he lead the Hypnosis duo while I went for Xerneas & Amoonguss. He quickly set up Gravity and put Amoonguss to Sleep while Xerneas set up Geomancy. Turn 2, Crobat revealed Haze and removed my boosts. The game came down to stalling out Tailwind while Alakazam set up Gravity. A quick switch-in to my Amoonguss while Xerneas picked the KO on Alakazam evened the field to a 1v1 stand off between a full health Groudon and a weakened Rayquaza. Surprisingly, his Groudon didn’t have sufficient bulk to tank my LO boosted Earth Power, allowing me to OHKO it and secure the win.
Game 2: I decided to go with the Suicune + Xerneas lead as he leads the Hypnosis duo once again. Unfortunately, he got a critical hit on Suicune early on with Psyshock, 2HKO’ing it, which put me in an awkward position. From there, he proceeded to beat me up with his Groudon and Xerneas, and took the win.
Game 3: Once again, he led the Crobat/Alakazam duo, while I went with Tapu Koko and Xerneas. My Tapu Koko won the speed tie and managed to Z-Move Crobat before it got Tailwind off, allowing Xerneas to set up Geomancy. I quickly pressured him with boosted Dazzling Gleams and Nature Madness, and sacked Tapu Koko so Rayquaza could get a free switch-in to deal with Groudon, and managed to snatch the win from there.
Top 8: Kaorukitsune – WLW
After checking out the T16 replays, we figured out Ramses uses a PsySpam team with Magic Room Tapu Lele. Definitely not a good match up for me, since his team packed an Xerneas as well. After some testing with Martin, we decided an Incineroar + Xerneas lead would be better here, and I might not need Mega Rayquaza in this match up.
Game 1: He leads the Psychic duo while I lead Xerneas and Incineroar. Turn 1, he went for the one play we didn’t see coming at all: he protected Ultra Necrozma while Lele used Magic Room. My game plan revolved around getting a Snarl onto Necrozma while Xerneas Protects, so a Suicune switch in can tank the Z-Move. Unfortunately, I was forced to improvise, and sacrifice Amoonguss to the Z-Move to make sure Suicune and Xerneas lived. After some positioning, I got really lucky with a Scald Burn onto his Kangaskhan, allowing Suicune to live Double-Edge, and later Scald his Stakataka… which ended up getting Burned as well. From there, the game was pretty much over.
Game 2: Once again, I went for the exact same plays turn 1, and was forced to sack Amoonguss yet again. Xerneas did manage to get a quick KO on Necrozma as Suicune switched in to an incoming Earth Power, which put me at a slight advantage. However, as Magic Room prevented Mago Berry from triggering, Suicune went down quickly to a combination of Double-Edge and Moonblast, as Stakataka OHKO’d Xerneas.
Game 3: We went for the same leads, and he doubled into a Protecting Xerneas while Incineroar got the Snarl off. As I didn’t bring Suicune this game, I switched in Amoonguss to take the Z-Move, which it lived thanks to Focus Sash (finally). After some reads, I managed to take out Necrozma as my Xerneas went down. A combination of Rayquaza and Amoonguss managed to KO his Tapu Lele as well. As I needed Amoonguss to deal with his Xerneas, I switched in Incineroar while Rayquaza picked the KO on Stakataka with Earth Power allowing his Xerneas to KO it with Dazzling Gleam. Xerneas quickly took out Incineroar with a Moonblast as Amoonguss put it to Sleep and proceeded to Grass Knot to victory.
Top 4: Life Orb – WW
After a couple test games with Martin, I felt comfortable going into this match up, as it felt favorable to me. His Tapu Fini ran an offensive set with Waterium Z and lacked Haze/Light Screen. The only wild card was his Amoonguss item, which we assumed would be either Occa Berry, Payapa Berry, or Red Card.
Game 1: We both lead our respective Xerneas, along with Amoonguss and Incineroar. The Fairy Aura order confirmed my Xerneas was faster than his, so I went for the Geomancy-Clear Smog play. Surprisingly, he doubles into Amoonguss with Dazzling Gleam and Flare Blitz, which it lived. He switches in his Amoonguss into a Dazzling Gleam, revealing its Red Card. After some positioning and reads, I managed to KO his Rayquaza and Incineroar, allowing my AV Incineroar take out his remaining Pokemon after a couple of Snarls.
Game 2: We went for the same leads, though this time, he Fakes Out Amoonguss while both our Xerneas sets up Geomancy. I decided to go for the 56.3% OHKO chance and Moonblast his Incineroar, which ends up being a critical hit, OHKO’ing it, as Amoonguss Clear Smogs Xerneas, after which he promptly forfeited.
Finals: Star Raikou – WW
Both Martin and I made finals after all. We both knew each other’s team inside out, and decided to give it our all. I consulted my good friend Hamstermania as I wanted to theory a game plan against his Bronzong lead (which he never used whenever we fought on ladder). We figured Incineroar would be required as a lead to get the Intimidate off as soon as possible.
Game 1: He did go for the Bronzong lead, so I switched into Amoonguss and started going on the offensive with Xerneas as he set up Trick Room. After predicting a switch in to Tapu Fini and getting Groudon into Grass Knot KO range, Xerneas was able to set up Geomancy right as Trick Room ended. Rayquaza managed to pick the KO on his Heatproof Bronzong with Earth Power, as Xerneas proceeded to finish off his Tapu Fini.
Game 2: He leads Tapu Fini and Incineroar this time. A well timed Dragon Ascent onto Incineroar OHKO’d it, and while my Geomancy was Hazed away by Tapu Fini, I was able to double onto his Xerneas with Dragon Ascent and Dazzling Gleam, KO’ing it to secure the win. Good games.
While the team felt consistent throughout the tournament, it may have to be updated to match up against the ever-changing meta game. Gengar XernDon is picking up popularity, which this team struggles against. However, with the right techs and workarounds, I believe the match up can be fixed. After the Scramble, I realized Roar is a better move on Suicune than Tailwind, since I rarely used the latter. I do have Icy Wind for speed control, after all.
I’m really glad I managed to win the TT Spring Scramble and defend my title. Thanks to Star Raikou and Hamstermania for helping me practice and prep game plans for Top Cut! Those games were really valuable to help me snatch the win. And thanks to TamtamVGC for helping me with the EV Spread for Suicune, and to the rest of the Blizzard Gang for cheering me on through the Top Cut, and to all my friends who kept rooting for me. Hope you all enjoyed reading this report. Adios!
Credit to dekunobou-kizakura for featured image