My name is Giovanni Piscitelli, also known as Gianni, but I go by the nickname “Genius” online (@GeniusVGC on Twitter). I’m an Italian VGC player that started playing Pokémon in 2009 during the 4th generation, but I’ve known the franchise for a long time thanks to the anime. I became interested in VGC in 2015, when I participated in one of the last few PCs of the season. I completely skipped playing VGC16, but I began to take it seriously when I started playing VGC17 competitively after having watched the previous Worlds.
In the time that I’ve played competitively, I’ve been able to qualify for Day 1 of Worlds 2018 in Nashville (which I couldn’t participate in) and then for the 2019 Worlds in Washington, which I was able to take part in this time around.
In Day 1 of Worlds this year, I was eliminated in the 7th round, going 4-3 due to a bit of bad luck. At the time, I was angry and frustrated because I was hoping to at least make it to Day 2, but I knew that I could redeem myself at the DC Open, which was to be held the following day alongside Worlds Day 2. In fact, today I am here to talk about the team I used at both events and with which I was able to make top 8 in the Open.
Since Washington was the first Worlds I would participate in, I wanted to bring a team that I was extremely confident in and with which I could at least have a chance of making it to Day 2. Given that this was my first experience with Worlds, I also really wanted to put Infernape in my team, as it was my first Pokémon (from almost ten years ago). I told myself that it would have been cool to bring it to the grand stadium of Worlds!
During the course of the three series, I primarily used three archetypes: XernOgre, YvelDon, and YvelOgre. Thus, I thought that the best thing would be to build around one of these three restricted pairs. YvelOgre, specifically, was the core that I’d used for all of Ultra Series. Having played it so much, I knew that it didn’t have the best results in the months going into Worlds. I still tried to build around these two legendaries, adding Infernape into the mix, and it resulted in THIS.
After having tried these six, as well as the classic YvelOgre with Gengar and Stakataka that I’d used up until that point, I understood that I had to push my idea aside for the time being. However, I noticed Nihilego with Substitute + Fake Out support was a giant threat for common teams like XernDon and XRay. I moved onto building around YvelDon, a team which gave me great success towards the end of Sun Series and for all of Moon Series. After many changes, my teams looked like THIS.
I fell so in love with Substitute Nihilego that I wanted to put it on every team, as well as YvelDon. However, I didn’t feel very confident with YvelDon, especially with its XernDon matchup, which was what I wanted to be most protected from (primarily the TornKang variant). If I worked on it a bit, I’d probably have a really good team!
At this point, of the three archetypes that I’d used during the season, there was only XernOgre left to try. For the building, my friends Enrico Grimaldi (@grima_bplg) and Lorenzo Falai (@Lorenzo_Falai) helped, and Tommaso Zichella (@ZicheVGC) helped with some spreads. The first version of the team had Nihilego and looked like this:
It’s a nice team, but Groudon exists, and Nihilego is not a good singular response to Xerneas. Ferrothorn would also love facing it, making it a team to instantly scrap. I tried to add Infernape in order to deal decent damage to Ferrothorn in Rain and to beat TornKang leads with Quick Guard + Geomancy, but that only works if the opponent uses Fake Out and Taunt instead of double attacking the Xerneas or Roaring it.
This version of the team didn’t have me too convinced, either. It lacks Intimidate, there are too many Groudon-weak Pokémon, there’s little speed control, and it doesn’t have enough responses to Xerneas. It is here that Metagross and Tornadus ARRIVE.
I thought I had found the team. Tornadus gave me speed control and was a threat to Amoonguss; it also blocked opposing Xerneas from setting up and opposing Trick Room. Z-Move Incineroar fixed the main problems against Lunala and various teams with Necrozma (which were found on the ladder). Metagross was a strong response to the threat of Xerneas when paired with Z-Move Tornadus and Groudon. AV Koko allowed me to have speed control against RayOgre and was a solid response to opposing Kyogre. Two major problems remained, namely Ferrothorn + Kyogre and Lightning Rod + Kyogre. Rayquaza also put on too much offensive pressure if it had Choice Band, LO or Swords Dance.
Fun Fact: Many people on Showdown saw me using these 6 and asked me for the paste in chat!
At this point, I had a good base. I just needed to fix the gaps in the team. I tried more than 50 different versions of the team where I changed only one Pokémon or a single set. I tried other Megas in the Metagross slot to fix Ferrothorn. Gengar trapped it and allowed me to kill it with Incineroar whereas Kangaskhan heavily damaged opposing Kyogre and Ferrothorns with Low Kick, but I gave up my Xerneas answer, so I tried Mega Lucario instead. It’s a Steel/Fighting type, so it hits both Xerneas and Ferrothorn super effectively, and is very bad for Kyogre.
On paper, it would’ve been the go-to choice, but after playing it, I realized that it wasn’t. It’s a glass cannon and couldn’t do it’s job properly. Metagross was the best Mega for the team. I tried to change the Koko slot instead. Some options were Togedemaru, Ferrothorn, Kartana, Celesteela, and Amoonguss. I also tried Kartana as TW setter without Protect instead of Tornadus, or Mega Gengar over Metagross and Zapdos over Tornadus to have an Electric-type with TW. However, there were the usual problems against Xerneas, and the matchup against Ferrothorn + Kyogre and Lightning Rod teams were not improved at all.
It was after doing a Best of 3 against Marco Silva (@marc0fier0VGC) that I understood that I need both Amoonguss (primarily to redirect attacks and to get an extra response to Trick Room) and Tapu Koko. At the same time, I couldn’t remove any other team member, so there was only one solution: put Thunder on Kyogre, a move that would also help against Soak Shedinja. After testing against RayOgre + Ferrothorn for a long time, I came to the conclusion that, to beat the latter, I had to isolate it after KO’ing the opposing Kyogre. I could also KO Ferrothorn by chipping it and then finishing it off with my Z.
With the latest spreads and the last sets reviewed, the team I brought to Washington was the following:
Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
EVs: 140 HP / 84 Def / 28 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
From my point of view, the team needs max Speed Xerneas to solve problems against fast Kyogre on teams like RayOgre and to avoid taking Lunala’s Z-Move before setting up Geomancy. It’s also very convenient to move before other Xerneas in certain situations. As you can see, however, this Xerneas is also very bulky, because I was worried about the physical damage from Groudon and Rayquaza. In fact, it was made to be 3HKO’d by Precipice Blades from most Groudon at neutral and to also be able to take Banded Dragon Ascent from Mega Rayquaza. In order to have all that bulk, I had to give up a bit of Sp. Atk, but it was worth it.
Kyogre-Primal @ Blue Orb
Ability: Primordial Sea
EVs: 76 HP / 44 Def / 132 SpA / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Origin Pulse
– Ice Beam
Having put Thunder on Kyogre, it made sense to make it Timid to always be faster than other Kyogre. It was also faster than some Xerneas, which let me attack them before they set up, and it allowed me to go for speed ties against Timid Groudon. Ice Beam is mandatory to threaten Rayquaza, Amoonguss, and Groudon in the Sun, so as the only Water move, I had to rely on Origin Pulse (because using Water Spout as the only STAB would’ve been crazy). The EVs in Sp. Atk allow to me to 2HKO opposing Kyogre with Thunder, to nab the KO on Incineroar with Origin Pulse, and to 2HKO Amoonguss with Ice Beam, while those in bulk let me take Banded Dragon Ascent from -1 Mega Rayquaza.
Metagross-Mega @ Metagrossite
Ability: Tough Claws
EVs: 76 HP / 212 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 212 Spe
– Iron Head
– Bullet Punch
– Stomping Tantrum
Here comes the star of the team: Mega Metagross, which, together with Tornadus, destroys XRay without Koko as well as Amoonguss + Xerneas leads. Thanks to its Clear Body Ability, you can lead it without worrying about opposing Intimidate and can immediately threaten things with a STAB Iron Head. This was chosen instead of Meteor Mash mainly for the Accuracy, but also for the flinch factor, which never fails. Bullet Punch is used to KO low HP Pokémon and is also priority, which is always nice to have.
Note: The speed is 2 points more than max Speed Nihilego to speed creep Pokémon that are faster than it by just 1, like AV Rayquaza, Kartana, and other Metagross.
Tornadus @ Flyinium Z
EVs: 84 HP / 68 Def / 4 SpA / 100 SpD / 252 Spe
IVs: 0 Atk
– Role Play
As mentioned before, together with Mega Metagross, Tornadus destroys Amoonguss + Xerneas leads. Thanks to its Ability, Prankster, it can always set Tailwind without issues, Taunt the opposing Xerneas to keep them from setting up, and prevent the various Roar, Haze, Tailwind, and Trick Room from opponents. Hurricane is the only offensive move it has, and it’s important to hit Amoonguss and Kartana, especially. Role Play is the move that I used the least during testing and when playing in Washington, but if you don’t have it, then in many match ups you find yourself having to switch Kyogre when you could’ve simply set the weather again with this move (which also works through Protect). The EVs in bulk allow it to take Fake Out + Double Edge to -1 from Mega Kangaskhan so as to set the Tailwind one turn after the opponent’s KangTorn does as well as +2 Xerneas Dazzling Gleam. The Z-Move is mandatory for the essential Z-Tailwind in the Tornadus mirror and to do big damage to Ferrothorn, Kartana, and Groudon. It also let’s me get rid of non-Sash Amoonguss and put other Pokémon in range of Iron Head or Thunder.
Incineroar @ Incinium Z
EVs: 244 HP / 116 Atk / 4 Def / 116 SpD / 28 Spe
– Fake Out
– Flare Blitz
– Darkest Lariat
Not the classic bulky or AV Incineroar that is seen on most teams, but a more offensive one that’s been given the Incinium Z (which many do not expect, given the presence of Tornadus on the team). It’s able to take down opposing Lunala, Solgaleo, Bronzong, and DM-Necrozma after minimal chip to prevent the opponent’s Trick Room. With the Z-Move, it can also hit Ferrothorn hard under Rain and impede possible Kyogre switch-ins. Incineroar also does good damage to Mega Rayquaza after a Dragon Ascent.
The Speed allows you to outspeed Xerneas and Yveltal in Tailwind and stay slower than min Speed Primals in Trick Room.
Amoonguss (M) @ Coba Berry
EVs: 236 HP / 76 Def / 196 SpD
IVs: 0 Atk / 0 Spe
– Rage Powder
– Grass Knot
Last, but not least, Amoonguss. It’s essential in Trick Room match ups and against teams with Electric-type + Kyogre. As for why an Amoonguss without Clear Smog but with Grass Knot, I preferred to give it Grass STAB to fix the problems against Kyogre. I did this because my plans against Xerneas did not include Amoonguss, but involved Metagross and Tornadus instead. Another thing of note is the choice of item. Why Coba Berry and not Sash? Initially, it was Sash during testing, but RayOgre was giving me problems, so I opted for Coba Berry to ensure I could take Dragon Ascent even with minimal chip from, for example, Koko TBolt or DGleam. Now that you see Snorlax around, maybe Clear Smog would be useful over Protect or Grass Knot. Same goes for the item.
While testing the team for the World Championships, I noticed the other XernOgres. After having dominated Sun and Moon, this duo had become a mere undertone in the Ultra Series. However, at the World Championships, both known and lesser known players brought XernOgre variants. This included James Baek’s version with Kartana, which reached top 4, or the one with Kangaskhan used by Stephen Mea to make top 8. The only one who had Metagross was the Italian Arash Ommati (we didn’t build together, even though 5/6 of the team are the same), who made day 2 with different spreads and sets.
I think the Kangaskhan version bases most of its Xerneas set up plan around having two Fake Outs and redirection. I prefer to be offensive from Round 1 without having to rely too much on my own Xerneas (having played mainly Yveltal all year), which Metagross allows me to do. Both versions are valid. It all just depends on the player’s playstyle.
On Saturday morning, I and my friend and roommate Giuseppe Musicco head to the Walter E. Convention Center to play in the DC Open after the disappointing outcome of the main event, deciding to wear the same outfit (which was the World Championships T-shirt + World Championships cap put on in reverse).
The pairings are put up, and in R1, I should have faced Alex Arand [US]. However, as we sat down at our tables, after a good 15 minutes they tell us there’ll be a repair because all the participants (366 Masters) had not been added to the roster. My new opponent is Timothy Ohlhoff [US], and the tournament starts.
Round 1 – Timothy Ohlhoff [US] – WW
I talk a little with my opponent before the round starts and ask him if he played in Worlds Day 1. He replies that he didn’t, and that this was one of his first tournaments.
Game 1: vs
Despite being a newbie, I didn’t let my guard down, and going into Team Preview, I immediately noticed that his team was very weak to an Incineroar Metagross lead (a lead that I almost never find myself using otherwise). He leads Kartana Lele. Turn 1, I use Iron Head on Tapu Lele to secure the KO and Flare Blitz the Kartana with my Incineroar, which turns out to be sash after using Sacred Sword onto it. The turn after, Greninja comes in and I discover that I am not OHKO’d by Dark Pulse. I Stomping Tantrum the Kartana to finish it off and U-turn the Greninja to go into Kyogre. At this point, I still had all my Pokémon against only his Necrozma and Greninja, which end up getting finished off by Kyogre’s Origin Pulse.
Game 2: vs
In Game 2, I carry on the same way as before, while my opponent swaps Tapu Lele for Nihilego. The game takes plays out exactly like G1, with the only difference being that his Necrozma reveals Solganium and Rock Slide.
Round 2 – Chi Yuen Fu [HK] – WLW
So this is where the ladder teams went, I tell myself. First NecroRay now LunaRay! I also finally clashed with an Asian player—it was one of the things I thought would happen at the World Cup, and it seemed strange to me not to get even one during Day 1.
Game 1: vs
The game starts: Incineroar Xerneas vs Lunala Incineroar. I Z the Lunala straight away and Geomancy. If he had Faked Out my Incineroar, I would’ve set up without worries, and if he Faked Out Xerneas, he wouldn’t get to set Trick Room. Other than Lunala with very high HP investment, it’s rare that they Fake Out + Z onto Xerneas turn 1. He Fakes Out Xerneas and tries to set up Trick Room, but his Lunala is KO’d by Incineroar’s Z-Move. At this point, Fini comes in, so I realize that he didn’t bring Stakataka. While I Protect Xerneas and U-turn his Tapu Fini to go into Amoonguss safely, he U-turns himself into Rayquaza. The next round, I go for Rage Powder + Geomancy, and the game goes downhill for him from there. His Fini had no Haze, and his Rayquaza turned out to be a variant with Protect (meaning Berry or Sash, which poses fewer problems than Band).
Game 2: vs
I don’t remember this match too well. All I recall is that he managed to set up Trick Room twice and that his Stakataka was Life Orb with Rock Slide and without Wide Guard. In spite of that, I managed to get through the Trick Room turns well enough with the help of Incineroar’s Intimidate and Amoonguss. I still lost the game because I let Kyogre get KO’d by Lunala’s Z-Move on one of the last Trick Room turns, not knowing if Lunala was slower or faster than my Kyogre.
Game 3: vs
The third game takes place in pretty much the same way, but it wasn’t possible for him to set up Trick Room twice and I preserve my Kyogre well after removing Koko at the start of the game.
Round 3 – Kolten Pope [US] – WW
I could feel it. I could sense that I would face XernDon TornKang this round.
Game 1: vs
He leads Kangaskhan Tornadus against my Incineroar Tornadus. I don’t remember how the game went in detail. I just remember using Tailwind one round after confronting him, managing to get the KO onto Xerneas with Hurricane + Iron Head, then winning the weather war between Groudon and Kyogre.
Game 2: vs
In the second game, thinking that he would try to lead TornKang again, I decide to change up my game plan and lead Incineroar Xerneas so I could switch to Amoonguss after and Rage Powder + Geomancy. My opponent instead leads Smeargle Xerneas. Worried by the possibility a Spore / Lovely Kiss onto my Xerneas, I don’t Fake Out the other Xerneas but instead go for U-turn onto the Smeargle to break its Sash and set up Geomancy. Kolten goes for Spore onto my Xerneas and sets up his own Geomancy, but in the meantime I swapped in Amoonguss so as not to lose momentum. Since it had Spore over Lovely Kiss, his Smeargle could not Sleep the mushroom. I read his Smeargle switching out and Spore that slot expecting Groudon to switch in, but instead Kangaskhan comes in while his Xerneas Protects. Next round, I can threaten to put his Xerneas to Sleep (or whoever switches in), while my Xerneas continues to snooze. The round after that, Xerneas finally wakes up, and at this point Rage Powder + Dazzling Gleam with Kyogre in the back seals the game for me.
Round 4 – Joseph Milanese [US] – LWL
Game 1: vs
Team Preview begins and I immediately recognize Ben Grissmer’s annoying team—a team that I didn’t want to face because Shedinja forces me to bring both Incineroar and Tornadus when I should ideally only have to bring one of the two. Joseph leads with Lopunny Yveltal against my Incineroar Xerneas. Turn 1 we exchange Fake Outs, and the following turn I make the mistake of leaving Incineroar on the field. Lopunny uses HJK onto my Incineroar, but Yveltal turns out to be speed tying with my Xerneas. It wins the tie and finishes my Incineroar with Oblivion Wing, while my Xerneas KO’s his Yveltal with Moonblast. It would’ve been better to go for Geomancy, but I was afraid of a Tailwind this turn + Encore from Lopunny on the following turn. His Tapu Fini comes in as I go into Tornadus, unable to switch into Kyogre because I thought he had Groudon with him. I forget that the Tapu Fini on that team is Scarf, and I take an Icy Wind + Ice Punch with Tornadus, which does not KO but brings me in the range of 2 Shadow Sneaks. I take the KO on Lopunny with Xerneas and damage Fini with Hurricane.
Shedinja comes in, and despite not being able to be Soaked (since Fini was locked into Icy Wind), I lose the game because his Shedinja still had the Sash. I didn’t think he had Shedinja in the back. It seemed strange that he hadn’t brought his Primal.
Game 2: vs
The second game happens almost the same way, but better answers to Shedinja force him to go for the Soak strategy which lets me KO with Kyogre’s Thunder. Surprisingly, even in this game, he didn’t bring Groudon.
Game 3: vs
I don’t remember the whole game well, but I remember that his Groudon used Swords Dance and then he KO’d my Kyogre under Rain, winning the tie between the Primals. If I had won that face-off I probably would have won the game, but I didn’t know it. Giuseppe knew we tied, so it was safe to leave our Primals in against each other for both of us.
Round 5 – Willem Geurts [NL] – LWW
I knew my opponent by name and remembered his top 8 at the Frankfurt Regional with Talonflame. He also got my friend Giuseppe Musicco R1, who gave me some info on his Xerneas’ Speed. He told me that, like me, he also had Thunder on Kyogre, but he didn’t think it was Timid.
Game 1: vs
My plan in the mirror is always to start with Tornadus Kyogre, as the max Speed allows me to Thunder opposing Kyogre. However, Willem decides to lead Amoonguss Xerneas, forcing me to go for Taunt onto Amoonguss + Origin Pulse with Kyogre. He uses Rage Powder + Geomancy to set up his Xerneas while I break the Amoonguss’ Sash. Next turn, I went for Z-Hurricane onto Amoonguss + Origin Pulse to bring Xerneas into Bullet Punch range, unfortunately forcing Kyogre to take a crit Moonblast. After that, Tornadus takes a Dazzling Gleam and I somehow kill his Xerneas, but in the following turns, despite a flinch on his Kyogre, I couldn’t overturn the game.
Game 2: vs
The second game plays out more or less the same, but this time, after KOing his Amoonguss and setting up Tailwind, I was able to manage the match with Metagross and Xerneas since I wasn’t crit.
Game 3: vs
In game 3, he decides to lead with Kyogre Tornadus as well. I go to Thunder turn 1 onto his Kyogre + Taunt onto the Tornadus, while he goes for an Origin Pulse that my Tornadus survives and a Z-Tailwind. Next turn, I set Tailwind with my own Tornadus without having to worry about an opposing Taunt and finish Kyogre off with Thunder. My Tornadus is KO’d and I get a free switch in into Xerneas, which can set up without fear since I Taunted his Tornadus in the first round. There is also nothing Metagross has to fear from Amoonguss and Xerneas. I don’t remember what I went into afterwards, but from here on the game was sealed.
Round 6 – Zhengle Tu [CN] – LL
The name was familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember where I’d heard it. I realized afterwards that it was the guy who lost the win and in on stream at the last round of the World Championships last year.
Game 1: vs
RayOgre Fini is not a fun match up to face, especially with a Lighting Rod user (which, fortunately, he didn’t even bring, so I can say I didn’t lose because of Pikachu). I don’t think I played this game to my best ability. His lead was Tapu Fini Kyogre against my Amoonguss Kyogre, and my Kyogre kept attacking his Kyogre slot with Grass Knot + Thunder while his Fini kept using Heal Pulse onto his Kyogre. It was enough that on one turn I went for Rage Powder to redirect Heal Pulse to better manage it, and I realized I would have to KO Tapu Fini first. I saw the two Pokémon that Zhengle had brought in the back: a Rayquaza that turned out to be AV, and a Stakataka which revealed Wide Guard.
Game 2: vs
Seeing that he had no way to match the Tailwind, I decided to lead with Kyogre Tornadus as my opponent leads both restricted. On turn 1, I go for a safe play with Protect + TW while Zhengle attacks the Kyogre slot with Dragon Ascent and Spouts. The next turn, I click Role Play for the first and only time during the course of the tournament to remove the Strong Winds and put the Primordial Sea back onto the field, thus making Ice Beam a 2HKO on Rayquaza. However, Dragon Ascent crits my Kyogre, which goes down. I try to get back into the game with Xerneas, trying to set up Geomancy, but after KOing the two restricted, Fini comes in and reveals Haze, alongside Stakataka. Without Kyogre, it was difficult for me to KO it using only Amoonguss.
Round 7 – Alex Arand [US] – WW
I had to win another 2 out of 3 rounds to secure CP. While I should have won 3 out of 3 to secure a place in the top 16, this year, unlike the other years, the top cut was not a clean x-2 cut but rather a top 16 cut. Therefore, I had to rely on my resistance, which was good at the moment. All my opponents were x-0 or x-1, except the R1, guy who went 0-4 drop. In Round 7, I find myself facing Alex Arand, the guy I should’ve faced R1 before the repairs. Team Preview starts, and I recognize the RayOgre used by Jonathan Evans at the NAIC.
Game 1: vs
I don’t remember exactly how the first game took place, but I dealt with the opposing Koko well, which turned out to be AV with Sky Drop. I knocked out his Kyogre with Thunder, and then finished the game with Xerneas Amoonguss. I recall that, at a certain point, I found myself with Kyogre + Incineroar on the field against Kyogre, the slowest opponent, which Protected, alongside a Mimikyu with broken Disguise. To prevent him from setting Trick Room, I went for Thunder onto Kyogre + Z onto the Mimikyu slot. However, Metagross switched in and was instantly KO’d due to not having Mega’d yet, giving me the chance to finish the game with Amoonguss Xerneas, redirecting Mimikyu’s peculiar Z-Move into the mushroom.
Game 2: vs
In Game 2, Alex decides not to bring Mimikyu and to preserve Metagross better. After having reduced the HP of the opponent’s Metagross with Kyogre, I manage to finish the match by putting the Metagross at -2 Atk to be able to set up Geomancy despite the Sky Drop onto Amoonguss + Iron Head onto Xerneas and then take the next Bullet Punch. At the end of the match, I ask my opponent why he didn’t bring Rayquaza, and he replied that it was Berry and therefore doesn’t do too much damage, so he preferred to be more offensive with Metagross.
I was missing one more win to ensure CP. I was dead tired, but I had to win!
Round 8 – Jeremy Parson [US] – LWW
I did not recognize the player, but I did recognize the team: Mr. GX’s XRay, one of the few XRay that could trouble me due to the presence of Suicune and Tapu Koko. For some reason, however, he only brought one of them, and only in the last game.
Game 1: vs
I didn’t expect an Amoonguss Xerneas lead. I was expecting Suicune, and my plan was to put it in range of Thunder with Incineroar’s Z. Leading Amoonguss Xerneas against my Incineroar Xerneas, Jeremy was ahead, because my Incineroar being offensive and not too bulky meant it couldn’t take a Moonblast at +2, whereas Amoonguss could immediately put my Xerneas to Sleep or remove my boosts. The game is almost lost, but I at least discover that his Rayquaza is Life Orb.
Game 2: vs
This time, expecting him to go for the same lead, I bring Metagross Tornadus, which is my favorite lead against the duo of Amoonguss and Xerneas. Everything goes according to plan, and it is especially important that I take the LO Earth Power with my Metagross.
Game 3: vs
I did not want to risk him leading with Amoonguss Xerneas yet again, so I lead with Metagross Tornadus. Jeremy indeed leads with Amoonguss Xerneas again. This time, however, he manages the situation better, and his Xerneas remains on the field for a longer time. To win, I had to read him very well on some of the final turns, but I managed to do it.
At this point, it was worth trying to win the next round, despite the fatigue.
Round 9 – Matt Tid [CA] – WW
This was the last Swiss round. If I won this, I knew I’d probably have cut. I had also heard of this player somewhere before.
Game 1: vs
Matt leads with Koko Tornadus against my Kyogre Tornadus. I knew absolutely nothing about his sets, but I felt that he would not attack the Kyogre slot with Koko. I go for Tailwind instead of Taunt onto the opposing Tornadus, because I could not risk Koko KOing my Tornadus and therefore being at a speed disadvantage in case I lost a tie. As expected, Matt goes for Volt Switch onto Tornadus which lives at 1 HP (it’s a roll, but it’s not favorable) over attacking Kyogre, with which I am free to use Origin Pulse to hit the opposing Tornadus. It takes it and Matt’s Kyogre comes in for Koko, as the Origin Pulse brings it in range of Thunder. Next turn, I get the KO on the opposing Tornadus with Hurricane and on the other Kyogre with Thunder, which is also boosted by the Electric Terrain. From here on out, I win smoothly. Hanging on with 1 HP greatly influenced the progress of the match.
Game 2: vs
I don’t remember the game very well, but this time, I decide to start off safe with a Kyogre Amoonguss lead to redirect the Koko’s Z-Move, which I saw at the end of game 1. In the endgame, on the turn which I set up Xerneas on with the help of Amoonguss, the Rayquaza went for Swords Dance. The next turn, taking a Dazzling Gleam and a +1 Dragon Ascent (I swapped Amoonguss for Incineroar) was huge, as it let me finish the game with a Dazzling Gleam from my own Xerneas.
Checking the scores of my opponents, I saw they had all finished 6-3 or 7-2 (except for the 0-4 who had dropped), and at this point I was certain I had cut. The standings were posted, and it was indeed so. Even Giuseppe Musico has messed up by coming 1st after Swiss, going 8-1.
In top 16, I would have to face Harrold Khoo [SG]. I asked around about him to my Italian friends, but no one had faced him.
Since combining the outfits had brought us luck, Giuseppe and I decided to combine them for top cut, this time with a simple shirt.
Top16 – Harrold Khoo [SG] – LWW
Game 1: vs
The team preview starts, and I immediately see Xernala Lucario. Only after do I realize that there was also a Hydreigon in the team. My first thought was to lead Metagross Tornadus to counter the Lunala Lucario lead I expected, given that on ladder many used to lead this way. With Metagross, I could have KO’d Lucario or put it in range of Bullet Punch and the next turn I would have used Tailwind. If he had used Lunala’s Z on Metagross, he would not have set up his own Tailwind and have given me a free switch into Kyogre. Tornadus takes a Meteor Mash and would therefore remain on the field.
Instead, I find myself in front of an Incineroar Hydreigon lead, which I honestly didn’t understand, as it would lose to Incineroar Xerneas. I later discovered that his Incineroar was AV. Turn 1, I switch out Metagross in fear of a Darkinium Z, and in comes Xerneas, while Tornadus takes the Fake Out and Hydreigon sets up Tailwind. Next turn, I set Geomancy and go for Z-Hurricane onto Hydreigon with Tornadus, which turns out to be Sash. Incineroar uses U-turn and switches in Lunala. On this turn, I set up Tailwind with my Tornadus and used Dazzling Gleam with my Xerneas to KOs the Hydreigon and break Lunala’s Shield, which meanwhile uses Psych Up on my Xerneas. Here, he had only one Tailwind turn left while I still had two. I forget about his Tailwind and decide to attack with Xerneas. The Xerneas took a +2 Z-Move from Lunala to the face, and the game was over.
Game 2: vs
In Game 2, seeing his previous lead, I decide to lead Incineroar Xerneas while Harrold leads Lele Lucario. I read the turn well and switch Incineroar for Metagross which takes Lele’s Moonblast + Close Combat from Lucario and lives in the red, while Xerneas goes for the KO onto Lucario. Next turn, Harrold goes into Lunala, I set up Geomancy, and Lele takes the KO onto Metagross. Instead of going for Psych Up, Lunala uses the Z onto Xerneas which takes it well thanks to its boosts, and from here on, Incineroar, Xerneas, and Kyogre can finish the game, since Lunala has Psyshock over Wide Guard.
Game 3: vs
This time, I lead with Metagross Tornadus, because I was expecting a Lucario Lunala lead. Lunala is there, but Lucario isn’t; instead, there is Lele. This works out better for me. Tailwind can be set up without any way for Harrold to match it, as he only has it on Hydreigon, and I go for Iron Head onto Lunala just to break its Shield. If he had KO’d me, I would have had a free switch into Kyogre in Tailwind. I don’t get one as Lunala flinches, but that’s okay too. The next turn, I predict the Lele switching out and double the slot with Z + Iron Head in case Xerneas comes in. Xerneas does not come in, but Lucario does, which goes down to the Z as the Iron Head goes onto Lunala which takes out Metagross. Finally, I can go into Kyogre and finish the game with my Xerneas, which was faster than my opponent’s.
I did it! I finally made minimum top 8 at an SPE / Regional. Giuseppe had also won his match in top 16, and, doing the math, we would have probably clashed in top 4.
Top8 – Adrien Hurley [US] – LWL
Here it is—the worst match up I could possibly get: Kyogre + Ferrothorn + Gengar.
I can’t complain too much, though, since I still hadn’t seen a single Ferrothorn. Despite the match up, I still try to play it, of course.
Game 1: vs
Game 1, I lead with Amoonguss Kyogre to avoid issues against his Togedemaru Kyogre and to redirect the Yveltal’s Z-Move otherwise. He leads Gengar Yveltal, and I’m thinking he will use his Z-Move onto Amoonguss or Protect to avoid Amoonguss’ Spore. I switch out Amoonguss for Incineroar, and Adrien uses the Z-Move onto Kyogre, which takes it thanks to the Intimidate. Gengar uses Substitute, and Kyogre goes for Origin Pulse, putting Yveltal in the yellow but missing the Gengar’s Substitute, which instead remains intact. Next turn, Adrien goes for Tailwind with Yveltal and tries to Sludge Bomb my Protecting Kyogre. With Incineroar, I U-turn the Gengar and go back into Amoonguss. Ferrothorn is swapped in for Yveltal and Gengar Protects while I go for Rage Powder + Origin Pulse. At this point, I try to overturn it with Xerneas, but Ferrothorn + Kyogre at full HP were unmanageable.
Game 2: vs
In Game 2, I decide to lead Amoonguss Xerneas and start dishing out damage with a boosted Xerneas. I manage to KO Kyogre and then finish Ferrothorn off with my Incineroar.
Game 3: vs
For the third game, seeing that the Amoonguss Xerneas seemed to cause issues for my opponent, I decided to lead Kyogre Tornadus expecting a Tapu Lele in the lead. Adrien, however, decided to bring the usual 4. On turn 1, there was instantly a Protect + TW vs Origin Pulse + TW 50/50 on my end, where Adrien could either try to Z-Move the Kyogre or match my Tailwind by predicting the Protect and saving the Z for later. I decide not to Protect Kyogre, and Adrien goes with Sludge Bomb onto Tornadus + Z onto Kyogre. My Kyogre, not being very bulky, does not take it and despite the Tailwind, I lose the game, because next turn Yveltal finishes off my Tornadus with Sucker Punch. Even if I could’ve set up Geomancy, Gengar Poisons my Xerneas. I can KO both Yveltal and Gengar, but I can’t fight a full HP Kyogre + Ferrothorn with only a Xerneas in range of Gyro Ball and an Incineroar. Adrien simply needed to double me to win. The only thing that could’ve saved me was a crit onto Kyogre, but that didn’t happen.
My run ends here! I am satisfied with the team and how I played. I would’ve preferred to do better during Day 1 of the World Championships, but at least I didn’t leave America empty-handed. I took home 100 CP that are going to be useful for the season that just started. Thanks for reading the article this far, and a special thanks to all my Tuscan friends and to “The Server”. Until next time!