Hello! My name is Riccardo Appamea, known online as @Fire_Gohan, and I’ve been a VGC player for over 3 years. I love playing unconventional teams, as they’re the type to get me hyped up and motivated to win matches. In 2016, I was on the verge of Top 16 in the European International Championships, placing 20th. I also placed 50th in World Championships and was the top Italian player. In 2018, I competed from Day 1, finishing 21st in the World Championship. I hope to improve in 2019, hopefully securing myself a Day 2 invite.
- Top 8 Cannes Regionals.
Groudon @ Assault Vest
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Atk / 4 Def / 172 SpD / 4 Spe
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Stomping Tantrum
– Shadow Claw
Groudon has an answer to everything there is to take out, and can hit with Precipice Blades for a decent amount of damage. With an Adamant Nature, it ensures that it will 2HKO Incineroar at -1 Attack without activating the Berry.
Fire Punch is a staple, and I chose Stomping Tantrum because there were too many Wide Guard users. It was also convenient whenever Blades missed. Shadow Claw is an interesting option for the Lunala who think they’re safe but actually find themselves losing their Shadow Shields with any move (Icy Wind, Power Gem, Grass Knot, etc.) and end up being KO’d not long after.
I’m missing a Rock-type move in this set, but it’s not a big problem due to the team already having Power Gem from Nihilego. As such, Pokémon like Ho-Oh are never an issue.
- -1 76+ Atk Groudon Precipice Blades vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 120-144 (59.4 – 71.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 76+ Atk Groudon Shadow Claw vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Lunala: 192-228 (90.1 – 107%) — 37.5% chance to OHKO.
- 252 SpA Volcarona Inferno Overdrive (195 BP) vs. 252 HP / 172 SpD Assault Vest Groudon in Sun: 157-186 (75.8 – 89.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 252 HP / 172 SpD Assault Vest Groudon: 91-108 (43.9 – 52.1%) — 12.9% chance to 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 172 SpD Assault Vest Groudon in Sun: 68-84 (32.8 – 40.5%) — 100% chance to 3HKO.
Venusaur @ Life Orb
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Sleep Powder
– Grass Knot
– Sludge Bomb
This is a standard Venusaur. Protect is essential for its repositioning, even if the lack of Hidden Power Fire makes it rather weak to Kartana. The Focus Sash was already taken by Nihilego. On top of that, Venusaur is often the target for Fake Out, so I opted for it to have Life Orb.
With Life Orb, it inflicts substantial damage and permits it to KO Incineroar if used alongside Precipice Blades. It also has a chance to KO Careful 252 Sp. Defense Groudon.
- 252+ SpA Life Orb Venusaur Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Groudon: 190-226 (91.7 – 109.1%) — 43.8% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Life Orb Venusaur Sludge Bomb vs. 236 HP / 252+ SpD Incineroar: 71-86 (35.5 – 43%) — guaranteed 3HKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Venusaur: 118-140 (75.6 – 89.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
Nihilego @ Focus Sash
Ability: Beast Boost
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Power Gem
– Sludge Bomb
– Grass Knot
The MVP of the whole tournament. The spread is very simple and the moveset contains moves that hit almost all of the metagame. It is often targeted by Taunt, as opponents think it is a Trick Room Nihilego (due to the whole team being relatively slow), but instead it has three offensive moves.
It’s often brought in the lead and can inflict good chip damage to anything, scoring many 2HKOs and forcing the opponent to KO it at the first possible moment.
- 252 SpA Nihilego Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 252+ SpD Groudon: 104-124 (50.2 – 59.9%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252 SpA Nihilego Grass Knot (120 BP) vs. 252 HP / 4 SpD Kyogre: 102-120 (49.2 – 57.9%) — 95.3% chance to 2HKO
- 252 SpA Nihilego Sludge Bomb vs. 116 HP / 4 SpD Xerneas: 152-182 (70.3 – 84.2%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +2 140 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Nihilego: 80-94 (43.2 – 50.8%) — 3.9% chance to 2HKO
Tapu Fini @ Wiki Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
EVs: 244 HP / 52 Def / 4 SpA / 156 SpD / 52 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Nature’s Madness
Fini is an excellent support for anti-Smeargle/Xerneas and is a comfortable switch-in for Kyogre. It also fares quite well against Landorus-T, a Pokémon that already causes a lot of trouble for the team.
Icy Wind and Nature’s Madness are very common moves. Moonblast is needed to deal damage to Yveltal and to finish off any Pokémon with low HP, things that Icy Wind and Nature’s Madness cannot do.
Haze is necessary because it allows me to bring Tapu Fini as a lead against Xerneas.
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 244 HP / 156+ SpD Tapu Fini: 153-181 (86.9 – 102.8%) — 18.8% chance to OHKO
- 252+ Atk Landorus-Therian Tectonic Rage (180 BP) vs. 244 HP / 52 Def Tapu Fini: 154-183 (87.5 – 103.9%) — 25% chance to OHKO
- 4 Atk Kartana Leaf Blade vs. 244 HP / 52 Def Tapu Fini: 146-174 (82.9 – 98.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO.
Ho-Oh @ Flyinium Z
EVs: 188 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 76 Spe
– Brave Bird
– Sacred Fire
I thought long and hard about whether to give it Protect or Recover. In the end, I chose Protect; this choice will make it more difficult for my opponent to choose their moves. The STAB moves guarantee me high amounts of damage, even at -1 Attack.
With the Flyinium Z, I can decide whether to use Z-Tailwind and give myself a 50% crit rate, giving me a way to bypass Intimidate (and even having a 50% crit chance and 50% Burn chance with Sacred Fire), or comfortably fire off a Z-Brave Bird to catch opponents off-guard. For example, it can be used to OKHO Kyogre or Incineroar.
76 EVs in Speed will outspeed Tornadus and Kartana at -1 Speed, and also outspeeds Timid Scarf Kyogre when you’re in Tailwind.
- 236+ Atk Ho-Oh Supersonic Skystrike (190 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Kyogre: 193-228 (109.6 – 129.5%) — guaranteed OHKO
- 236+ Atk Ho-Oh Supersonic Skystrike (190 BP) vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 192-226 (96 – 113%) — 75% chance to OHKO
- +2 252+ SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 188 HP / 4 SpD Ho-Oh: 81-96 (39.5 – 46.8%) — guaranteed 3HKO
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Origin Pulse vs. 188 HP / 4 SpD Ho-Oh in Rain: 176-210 (85.8 – 102.4%) — 12.5% chance to OHKO
- 252+ SpA Tapu Koko Thunder vs. 188 HP / 4 SpD Ho-Oh in Electric Terrain: 174-206 (84.8 – 100.4%) — 6.3% chance to OHKO
Malamar @ Mago Berry
EVs: 252 HP / 244 SpD / 12 Spe
– Knock Off
– Trick Room
Last, but definitely not least, Malamar is interchangeable with other Pokémon. Its role is to beat opposing Trick Room while threatening its own. With Malamar’s type, it cannot be a target for Tornadus’ Taunt and can reap the Attack boosts from Incineroar switch-ins. Thanks to Superpower, it can heavily threaten Stakataka and Kartana while enjoying the Defense boosts.
- 0 Atk Malamar Superpower vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Stakataka: 92-112 (54.7 – 66.6%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- +1 0 Atk Malamar Superpower vs. 236 HP / 4 Def Incineroar: 136-162 (68 – 81%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 0 Atk Malamar Superpower vs. 84 HP / 4 Def Kartana: 68-80 (46.8 – 55.1%) — 60.2% chance to 2HKO
- 252 SpA Lunala Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom vs. 252 HP / 244+ SpD Malamar: 154-183 (79.7 – 94.8%) — guaranteed 2HKO
- 252+ SpA Kyogre Water Spout (150 BP) vs. 252 HP / 244+ SpD Malamar in Rain: 153-181 (79.2 – 93.7%) — guaranteed 2HKO
This team is pretty much an anti-metagame team, with well thought-out pairings for every match-up and various methods of speed control at its disposal.
With this team, it is best to lead with fast Pokémon such as Nihilego/Venusaur. Groudon is brought to all matches.
There are cases in which Ho-Oh can win by itself after eliminating its counters, and as such, it is important to only bring it to matches it will make a big difference in.
The team itself is very bulky and permits many switch-ins and outs, and thus it is fun to play. It always has an ace up its sleeve!
They are amazing together because Groudon protects Ho-Oh from Water-type moves thanks to its ability, and is also a perfect switch-in for the Electric/Rock-type moves that Ho-Oh dislikes.+
There isn’t much to explain for this pairing.+
Thanks to Trick Room, these two become dangerous because there are very few things that can stop them. Incineroar has to switch on Precipice Blades and grants Malamar an Attack boost. On top of that, with the Drought ability, Malamar takes very little damage from Water Spout and can set Trick Room up with ease./+
With Icy Wind support, Groudon/Ho-Oh can surpass many obstacles, becoming a dangerous force. Nature’s Madness is a good combination with Precipice Blades since Tapu Fini outspeeds Groudon by 1, and can inflict 50% damage to anything, bringing the opposing Pokémon into range of a Blades.
There are infinite lead possibilities, but it is always a better idea to start with at least one fast Pokémon.+
This is the lead that I used the most. It lets me remove Rain from the field of play straight off the bat and deal damage to my opponents. Furthermore, it is an optimal lead because the majority of players start with Incineroar and this lead has access to several moves that are super effective against it.
In the case of a Lunala lead, I have at my disposition Power Gem and Shadow Claw that are able to immediately pick up a KO. I then have the option to switch in Tapu Fini in case Kyogre enters under Tailwind after Lunala is KO’d.+
An infamous lead. This lead is able to take down unprepared enemies with ease. Others instead find themselves forced to bring a lead made to counter Venusaur, and I, in that case, can use a lead that is completely different (Nihilego/Groudon).+
An optimal lead to counteract Xerneas/Smeargle in all their possible configurations. With Nihilego, I can damage anything. Tapu Fini has speed control, damaging everything with Nature’s Madness and threatening with Haze when the opponent goes for Follow Me and Geomancy.
When there is Smeargle – Xerneas in Preview, it is important to take
Tapu Fini, even in the lead. Groudon is taken in every case. The only times
in which it is best NOT to take him would be matchups against the 2 flying
types, like Yveltal and Landorus-T. Malamar is taken solely if the opponent’s team doesn’t have Xerneas, minus rare cases where there’s also Stakataka and he is brought with the caution. Ho-Oh can help a lot against Yveltal as long as he inflicts major damage with the Z-Flying and allows for minimal damage from Knock Off thanks to the merit of Z-Crystal.
This is absolutely the best match-up, especially if there are Volcarona, Tapu Koko, Amoonguss, but NOT against Kartana.
Against this, you lead Nihilego/Groudon with Venusaur/Ho-Oh in the back. Even if Xerneas manages to set up, it will find itself in front of 3 Pokémon that can resist its Fairy-type moves, all of which threaten big damage back. Venusaur, which only enters the playing field mid-game, creates a crazy amount of pressure, especially for the opposing Groudon.
The best lead is, again, Nihilego/Groudon or Nihilego/Tapu Fini. As my fourth Pokémon, I bring Ho-Oh, because the Z-Move can deal a lot of damage. Nihilego in the lead puts pressure on Xerneas from the start, and Tapu Fini can use Haze to neuter Xerneas’ Geomancy. In the meantime, the opposing team gets chipped. It becomes the perfect moment for Groudon/Ho-Oh to enter, and with Shadow Claw and the Z-Move, they finish off the job.
A good lead in this case is Groudon/Malamar. Thanks to Groudon’s Drought, the opposing Kyogre loses its weather. On top of that, Malamar threatening Trick Room means it is often targeted with Z-Moves as opponents hope to KO it, but thanks to Protect, the opponent usually wastes their Z-Move and Groudon can use Precipice Blades.
This is one of the worst match-ups. With the two flying types in the opponent’s team, Groudon is not able to deal much damage. Malamar can’t be brought when Xerneas in the opponent’s team, and Landorus-T with U-turn can threaten an immediate OHKO.
In this match-up, Ho-Oh and Tapu Fini are absolutely necessary, with Groudon and Nihilego or Venusaur in the back. Venusaur/Groudon can be a good lead in some cases, but at other times you would be better off with Nihilego/Tapu Fini to threaten damage to Xerneas/Yveltal and try to get Landorus-T to switch into an Icy Wind, considering that the opponent probably won’t use their Z-Earthquake without thinking twice due to the possibility of a Ho-Oh switch-in.
Rundown of Tournament
Round 1: Giovanni Favara – WW
I led with Venusaur/Groudon. He surprised me with Safety Goggles on his Crobat, and that immediately put him in a good spot. Fortunately, I surprised him back by KO’ing his Lunala with Sludge Bomb and Shadow Claw. Giovanni didn’t know Venusaur had Life Orb and instead of hitting it he went with Taunt.
I can’t remember my lead, but I didn’t bring Venusaur. This time he brought Mienshao, but it didn’t have Rock Slide, so I was able to set up Tailwind and Icy Wind until I eliminated Crobat, and weakened the rest of the team until I won.
Round 2: David Mizrahi (Platypus) – LWW
In the second round, I was already facing a player who was a big threat and quite well known.
I led Nihilego/Groudon with Ho-Oh/Tapu Fini in the back. Meanwhile, David went with Xerneas and Smeargle. I quickly switched Groudon for Tapu Fini and attacked Xerneas, but he Protected Xerneas and went with Spore, which had no effect thanks to the Misty Terrain.
The problem here was Moody, which raised his Special Defense and allowed him to survive Sludge Bomb and Icy Wind the next turn; Xerneas went with Moonblast onto Tapu Fini as it feared Haze. The third turn Xerneas was able to set up Geomancy undisturbed, and from that point Fini was not able to threaten its Haze because Xerneas was faster. Smeargle was KO’d and Lunala used Psych up, resulting in a loss.
I led with Nihilego/Tapu Fini to avoid Smeargle’s Moody boosts, but this time he led with Xerneas/Togedemaru. Luckily, Togedemaru didn’t have any Electric moves, but I still switched in Groudon and tried to conserve Tapu Fini to use Haze at the right moment. After a lot of switching around, Togedemaru revealed itself to be a set with Sturdy and Custap Berry and I lost Groudon to the combination of Endeavor and Dazzling Gleam, but I managed to use Haze and win the match as a whole anyhow.
I started with Nihilego/Groudon again, and he lead with Xerneas/Smeargle like in the first game. I changed it up by switching Tapu Fini for Groudon this time around, and attacked Smeargle with Sludge Bomb. He played like he did game 1, and found himself with Smeargle at low HP and Xerneas without Geomancy.
Round 3: Joan Perello – WW
In both of the matches I lead with Nihilego/Groudon with Venusaur and Ho-Oh in the back. There was very little he could do. He led once with Incineroar/Koko and another time with Incineroar/Volcarona, but my Nihilego easily KO’d Koko, Volcarona, Xerneas and dealt big damage to Incineroar and Groudon. With Venusaur entering mid-game, the matches were very easy.
Round 4: Lou Cromie – WW
I knew that Lou wanted to set up Tailwind with Lunala to sweep with Kyogre, so I led with Malamar and Nihilego, while she led with Sableye and Lunala. I protected Malamar the first turn, but Lou decided to Fake Out and Psyshock Nihilego, and I was already one Pokémon down. I then brought in Groudon, at that point making Sableye useless. I used Precipice Blades and my Malamar lived the Z-Moongeist from Lunala, recovering with its Berry and setting up Trick Room. With Lou’s team lacking Protect, I won fairly quickly.
I went with the same lead as she led with Lunala/Tapu Lele. This time I used Sludge Bomb on Tapu Lele and tried quickly setting up Trick Room with Malamar as she doubled my Nihilego, being convinced that I would set up Trick Room with it instead. I then switched in Groudon and finished the match.
Round 5: Francesco Carlo Urru – LWW
Francesco had a poor match-up, but to compensate had Landorus-T and Xerneas, which together are still a threat to my team.
I led with Nihilego/Tapu Fini while he led with Gengar/Incineroar.
I knew that I had to eliminate his Landorus-T as soon as possible, but it wasn’t that simple. We had arrived at a turn where I used Sludge Bomb and Icy Wind with Fini, but Gengar avoided the attack and the next turn it remained faster than my Nihilego, transforming my potential double KO into his and losing me the match.
I led with Venusaur/Groudon and started to put the whole team to sleep until Gengar used Taunt on Venusaur. In the meantime, I still managed to use Precipice Blades and his Landorus-T had already taken too much damage from Life Orb Grass Knot, meaning Landorus-T was in range of Nihilego’s Power Gem. I then won with Nihilego picking up almost all the KOs despite the Landorus-T.
Everything that could’ve gone wrong went wrong. I missed three moves and was crit, Poisoned and had Precipice Blades Disabled by Cursed Body. In the end, I switched in Ho-Oh and set up Z-Tailwind to ignore Gengar’s Taunt. Thanks to that I pulled off a miraculous win.
Round 6 : Bartosz Ekiert – WLW
Both of us led with Groudon/Venusaur, and he didn’t bring Xerneas. Things went instantly well for him because Bartosz put my Groudon to Sleep and protected his own. After that, he switched out Groudon and Venusaur and I turned the match around by KOing Incineroar with my Ho-Oh.
I led off really well, with Tapu Fini and Malamar against his Incineroar and Stakataka. Unfortunately, he set up Trick Room forcing me to Protect and switch Malamar the next turn. Even with +1 Attack, it would have been KO’d by Rock Slide and U-Turn. The match ended badly, because Stakataka dealt a lot of damage with Gyro Ball to Tapu Fini and Groudon.
I led with Groudon and Venusaur again. I missed one Sleep Power on Incineroar and for the whole match he was able to switch around and threaten Fake Outs. Towards the end of the match I was able to switch in Malamar, and despite failing to KO Stakataka, I won the match because my opponent tried to predict my Protect with Malamar but I instead set up Trick Room.
Round 7: David Koutesh – LL
The match started with him leading Raichu/Ho-Oh, while I led with Nihilego. The Raichu used Knock Off and took 45% HP off of Nihilego (a Raichu with such strong Attack!), and with Landorus-T entering late in the game, the situation turned dire.
For my part, I was lucky to have a score of 6/0, so I could allow myself a loss.
Top 8: vs Nico Davide Cognetta – LL
A well known Italian player, notorious for being very strong. This is the first time we faced off like this.
I wanted to start with a lead that was anti-Tornadus/Kyogre, putting in Nihilego and Malamar and threatening Trick Room. He, however, started with Incineroar/Xerneas, and to my shock, Malamar did not survive a Moonblast at neutral (he later revealed he was using 252 Sp. Atk Xerneas).
The match was over.
I led with Venusaur/Groudon, confident in the fact that he would not bring Tornadus, and this was correct. On Turn 1, he made a risky move, using Fake Out on Groudon instead of Venusaur, which I switched in for Ho-Oh. He put himself in a really good position, being able to set up freely with Xerneas, but in the next couple of turns, I was able to set up Tailwind. A missed Precipice Blades on his Xerneas stopped me from winning the match, because he would have been in range of Sludge Bomb if I had hit and I would’ve been able to KO him using Nihilego. With 2 remaining turns of Tailwind, Ho-Oh stopped a potential Kyogre switch-in with Z-Brave Bird.
I would be more than happy to see anyone to use this team. It is a very fun and functional team. Despite that, it isn’t easy to use, but if used properly, it will perform well.
I would also like to give a special thanks to my friend Federico Scremin. He has done an excellent job in choosing the members of my team after I gave him the initial Groudon and Firium Z Ho-Oh idea (with the Firium Z later becoming Flyinium Z).
Regarding the spreads, the more complex ones were my idea and I recommend that they are kept just the way they are; they are the team that allowed me to finish Top 8 in Cannes.
A big hello and goodbye,
Credit to tatanrg for featured image