To the Moon…and Back – A Day 2 European International Championships Team Report

Hi guys, I’m Owen Wright, also known as @EclipseOwlVGC online. I’m relatively new to the competitive Pokémon scene, with my first finish being a top 8 in the Hartford Regionals, post-Worlds ‘17. Other than that, I had a decent finish at Worlds last year with top 32 in seniors. Being a first-year master and this being my first Internats, I did not expect to do super well, so I went ahead and brought a core I was comfy with; Xerneas and Lunala.

Team’s Achievements

Due to the young age of Ultra Series right now, this is the first major finish that this variant of the team has had. Other variations of the same core have had success in the previous Sun and Moon series.

The Team

Link to Paste

Lord Boros (Xerneas) @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Dazzling Gleam
– Moonblast
– Geomancy
– Protect

Xerneas, in my opinion, is still the best-restricted legendary in the format, even with the addition of the Primals, Mega Rayquaza, and Ultra Necrozma. It’s ability to 1v4 an entire team once Geomancied is extremely valuable in clutching out matches and allows for very aggressive play, which seems to be very strong at the moment. Also, due to the popularity of both Yveltal and Rayquaza, fairy typing is extremely strong.

Tatsumaki (Lunala) @ Lunalium Z
Ability: Shadow Shield
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moongeist Beam
– Psych Up
– Psyshock
– Tailwind

Lunala is essential in the success of this team, based purely on the massive amount of utility it provides. Tailwind can set up the rest of the team, especially Mega Lucario, to outspeed everything and lay down massive amounts of damage. Moongeist Beam and Psyshock can deal hefty damage themselves, and Psych Up is a late-game nuke that can entirely turn a match into your favor. Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom deals enough damage to guarantee KO’s on most restricted legendaries in the format and can shut down common trick room setters, like Bronzong, which can cut off the momentum of this team with one button press. The Z-Move is especially important in the Lunala mirror matchup, as games are usually decided by who wins the speed tie on Z-Moving the other Lunala turn 1.

Saitama (Lucario) @ Lucarionite
Ability: Inner Focus
EVs: 252 Atk / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Close Combat
– Meteor Mash
– Follow Me
– Protect

I can’t say enough about how good Mega Lucario is for this team. It’s ability to force Fake Out mind games with the Inner Focus ability, OHKO Incineroar and Xerneas at -1 attack, and redirect moves coming towards your allies makes it so influential that I considered making it the star of my team (but that spot still goes to Lunala). The amount of damage Close Combat does at neutral is unbelievable due to Mega Lucario’s Adaptability ability. It can easily clean up kills, doing about 50% to most Primals that I decided to Close Combat, and when in Tailwind, it becomes effectively a third restricted. It is extremely flexible and overall makes a huge impact on the effectiveness of the team.

Sonic (Tapu Lele) @ Choice Scarf
Ability: Psychic Surge
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Psychic
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Magic Room

Tapu Lele is, and always has been, one of the best Tapus. With the Choice Scarf, Tapu Lele is a large offensive threat that needs to be dealt with immediately. It can OHKO Mega Gengar and Crobat with Psychic and non-assault vest or focus sash Rayquaza with Moonblast and can threaten the OHKO on offensive Yveltal builds. Normally, these builds will EV to live Moonblast with roughly 5%, however, with a Xerneas switch in, the Fairy Aura allows Tapu Lele to pick up the OHKO, potentially denying the opponent a Tailwind or a Z-Move. Magic Room is also a good tech in denying opposing Xerneas their Geomancy boosts. Additionally, with the Psychic terrain, you can easily set up with Xerneas or Lunala without the risk of a Fake Out or a Prankster Taunt or Encore. Especially important for this team is blocking opposing Yveltal from going for Sucker Punch onto Lunala.

Mumen Rider (Amoonguss) @ Focus Sash
Ability: Regenerator
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 252 HP / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Clear Smog
– Spore
– Rage Powder
– Protect

Amoonguss, on this team, is known as “Turboshroom.” With maximum speed investment, this Amoonguss outspeeds most Incineroars, which usually hit 84-86 speed. Furthermore, it can also outspeed the Primals in Tailwind and Spore before they can attack. Unlike normal Amoonguss, which hold a Berry to take a specific type of attack, like super effective Flying, Fire, or Psychic moves, I opted for the Focus Sash. This guarantees that it can survive at least 1 attack, even if it is a Z-Move or critical hit. Although I didn’t bring it very much in my run, it was essential for specific matchups and definitely was a threat in team preview.

Genos (Landorus-Therian) @ Life Orb
Ability: Intimidate
Shiny: Yes
EVs: 24 Atk / 252 SpA / 232 Spe
Rash Nature
– Earth Power
– U-turn
– Protect
– Rock Slide

Landorus was definitely the weakest link of this team. Originally an Incineroar in testing, I switched to Landorus as the sixth Pokémon to assist in the worst matchup (so I thought), the Yveltal/Groudon teams. The spread allows for Earth Power to do at least 75% to Primal Groudon, while still dealing good damage to flying types, like Yveltal, with Rock Slide. Looking back, I would have liked Incineroar on this slot, but I can’t do anything about that now.

Team Play

The basic idea of this team is to maneuver your redirection and Tapu Lele enough so that you get Xerneas set up or Mega Lucario or Lunala in Tailwind. This team is very aggressive and therefore has a very hard time in more defensive, Trick Room based teams. The only way to win if your opponent gets Trick Room up is to stall out Trick Room, so simply do not let them.

Core Combinations and Common Leads

+

This is a classic lead since all the way back in Sun Series. The redirection from Amoonguss’s Rage Powder, ability to shut down opposing Xerneas with Clear Smog, and access to Spore just makes this lead deadly if your opponent is not prepared.

+

This is the most versatile lead this team has. Since there is Psychic Terrain up from Tapu Lele’s ability, Lucario can safely go for an attack turn 1. Being able to cleanly pick up KO’s on Incineroar, Xerneas, Mega Gengar, and Yveltal (if you switch in Xerneas and Moonblast) on turn 1 of a game makes this lead very strong against most archetypes.

+/

Both of these leads work similarly, as Tapu Lele allows for easier set up of your restricted legendaries and threatens early KO’s.

+/

Again, both leads work similarly, redirecting attacks and allowing for the legendaries to set up.

+

WARNING!! Do not lead this unless you are comfortable with predicting your opponent and are ready to win or lose the game very fast. This is by far my favorite lead for this team, although risky. It forces your opponent to take 50/50’s and predict you on turn 1 while giving you insane offensive pressure and momentum. This is what I like to lead if I don’t know what I’m doing anymore or know I need to go all in to win a set. Again, this is a very risky lead, as the team relies on the set up of these two legendaries to win games.

Team Match-ups

The most concerning leads for this team are Incineroar/Stakataka and Smeargle/[insert Trick Room setter here]. Against Incineroar/Stakataka, assuming you lead Lucario/Tapu Lele, it is a 50/50. You need to call whether they will Protect Stakataka and go for the KO onto Lucario with Flare Blitz, or Trick Room. If you Close Combat the correct slot, 9 times out of 10 you win the game. If they lead the second problem lead, you need to stall out Trick Room turns as best as you can, as besides that, you pretty much just lose.

+

As long as you can get your Xerneas set up, and prevent any Tapu Fini or Crobat from using Haze, you should win this matchup most of the time. It’s not an auto-win by any means, but it is certainly in your favor.

+

Although it is very common, I don’t have much experience with this matchup. It is, at best, an even matchup. Groudon is tough to beat unless you can outplay your opponent most of the game. Good reads should be fine, just be careful of them setting up their Xerneas.

+

This matchup is in your favor until they get up Trick Room, in which case, you need to stall it out, or get insane RNG. Make sure to lead Tapu Lele/Lucario with Xerneas and Lunala in the back. It should work 90% of the time if you play it correctly.

+

Easily the worst matchup for this team. Winning this matchup involves cycling Intimidate with Landorus and KOing Yveltal early, as well as hoping that they are not a maximum speed Eruption Groudon. In that case, you need to kill their Salemence before it can use Tailwind and maneuver Landorus into a spot where it can hit Groudon with Earth Power.

Mirror – This one is tricky. Assuming they are maximum speed Lunala, the only way to win this matchup is to win the speed tie and OHKO their Lunala with Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom. Positioning is key in this matchup, as whoever’s Lunala goes down first usually loses the game. Another important thing is to always double the Lunala you are Z-Moving if you know they are a bulkier variant. There is always the possibility that the EV’d to live the Z-Move and fire back with their own to pick up a KO, so make sure that you guarantee the KO early in the game.

Rundown of Tournament

Although I am unhappy with how I played day 2, I am very happy with everything else about this tournament. Here’s how it went down:

Pre-Tournament – I finished this team about a week and a half before the tournament started, with minimal practice and a mediocre Daytona Beach Regionals result. At this point, I was just playing for fun, so I managed to stay pretty positive the entire time leading up to the event.

Day 1 –

Round 1 – Yuya Tada (LL)

To put it simply, I went into this match entirely blind. None of my friends knew who this guy was, so I was very wary going into the match. Even though I had the matchup, in this set I was just outplayed. He made good reads and played near perfectly. Disappointing, but I accept this loss. This puts me at a 0-1 record.

Round 2 – Barry Anderson @bazandersonvgc (WW)

I’ve played Baz on PS ladder before, and this time I was very scared of my opponent. Both games started with Xerneas/Volcarona from him and Amoonguss/Xerneas from me. The Red Card on Volcarona was surprising and threw me off in game 2, but I had managed to maneuver into a position where I felt good. Earlier in the set, he had revealed Choice Scarf on Smeargle, transforming into his boosted Xerneas. Luckily, by the end of game 2, I had managed to get Magic Room up. On the last turn of the game, he forgot that there was one turn of Magic Room left and made a call to Dragon Ascent my Lunala, KOing it, but tried to outspeed and Spore my Xerneas before I could go for Dazzling Gleam to win the game. Due to the Magic Room, his Choice Scarf did not function and Dazzling Gleam cleaned up the game. Now I am sitting at a respectable 1-1 record.

Round 3 – John Thi @Jocario (WW)

This was one of the most fun sets I had throughout the tournament. He led Tapu Koko/Lunala into my Lucario/Lunala and went for an aggressive Sky Drop onto the Lucario, guaranteeing that Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom would connect with my Lunala. Unfortunately for him, I won the speed tie and thus sealed up the game. He led similarly in game 2 into my Xerneas/Lunala lead. I went for Geomancy and Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom into his Lunala. This time he won the speed tie, but my Xerneas was set up, with little stopping it, so the match was easily cleaned up from there. Now my record is 2-1.

Round 4 – Anthony Plasencia @Xerodyme (WW)

This was the only match I played against an American during day 1. I managed to KO his Yveltal early in the game and prevent Trick Room, easily allowing me to take game 1. In game 2 he lea Incineroar/Stakataka into my Lucario/Lele lead. I did lose the 50/50 and resorted to stalling out Trick Room with a series of clever switches and Protects. Once we got out of Trick Room, I took the necessary KO’s to win the set. Now I’m at 3-1.

Round 5 – Mattie Morgan @MattieMooVGC (WLW)

This was the first teamkill I had during this tournament. I had practiced with Mattie before Daytona and was saddened to be playing him at 3-1. I knew the matchup and realized early in the game that if I made hard reads I could win. Games one and two were close with each of us taking one, but in game 3, things changed for the better. He led Yveltal/Groudon into my Lunala/Lucario lead. Turn 1 he switches in Incineroar to Intimidate my Lucario and goes for the Black Hole Eclipse onto my Lunala. It seems like he has won the game in one turn, but my Lucario lands a critical hit on his Yveltal with Close Combat, saving my Lunala and the game for me. Now I’m sitting at a 4-1 record. Only 2 more wins for guaranteed top 128 CP.

Round 6 – Oliver Escolin @OweVGC (WLW)

A very good player and friend, I was disappointed to be fighting Oliver immediately after the match with Mattie. Game 1 was in my favor, as I prevented Trick Room and set up Xerneas, and game 2 was in his, as he set up Trick Room because I lost a 50/50 turn 1. During game 3, he led Incineroar/Stakataka and I lost the 50/50 with my Lucario/Tapu Lele lead. Fortunately, Lunala crit his Stakataka with Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom and he missed Origin Pulse on Xerneas, allowing my Tapu Lele to pick up the final KO on Kyogre. Now I’m at an impressive 5-1.

Round 7 – Marco Hemantha Kaludua Silva @marc0fier0VGC (LL)

This matchup was rough. Supersonic Skystrike from the Tornadus brought my Amoonguss to Sash and with Roar on Kangaskhan, he was able to shut down my Xerneas and clean up the game. Now I am 5-2.

Round 8 – Jonathan Marston @JonoTv2000 (WLW)

Going into this round, I was really scared, as Jono had won a Regional and I had not. Luckily, as he told me after the match, he wasn’t good at Ultra Series and was just playing a fun team. The main problems on his team were the Crobat, which would stop my Xerneas and Lunala with its access to status moves like Taunt, Haze, and Tailwind, and the Choice Banded Mega Rayquaza. The latter would OHKO almost my entire team with Dragon Ascent, so setting up my Xerneas and Tapu Lele correctly would win me the game. I managed to do this, making my record 6-2 and guaranteeing that I get CP from the event.

Round 9 – Ismael Aarab Umpi (WLW)

As the final round of day 1 swiss, this was my “win and in” match for day 2. It was only fitting that it be a skill-based matchup, however after the back and forth of games 1 and 2, I ended with a fun little bit of RNG. Game 3 he leads Yveltal/Tapu Lele into my Tapu Lele/Lunala lead. I switch in Xerneas to activate Fairy Aura and use Moonblast onto his Yveltal with my Scarf Lele. He Protects Yveltal and goes for the Magic Room with his own Scarf Lele. Due to this, my Tapu Lele will no longer outspeed his Yveltal, thus forcing me to rely on Xerneas winning the speed tie with his Yveltal to prevent Tailwind from going up, winning him the game. The turn starts…with Xerneas picking up the KO on his Yveltal with Moonblast. This essentially wins me the game right there. And with that, I finish with a record of 7-2, making day 2 Swiss as the 12th seed.

Day 2 – The bad part of my run. Thus, I am not going to elaborate too much, as most losses were decisive and poorly played on my part.

Round 10 – Miguel Martinez De La Torre @SekiamPKM (LL)

Not much I can say, but I definitely was caught off guard. Waterium Z on Tapu Fini allowed an early KO on my Lucario, preventing me from being able to remove the Ferrothorn effectively and Ho-Oh was a threat to face in the late game. 7-3.

Round 11 – Javier Valdes @IRNemesis (LWL)

This matchup was particularly tough due to the fact that the Xerneas was holding a Choice Scarf. Both the Mandibuzz and Fini had moves to clear Xerneas’ Geomancy boosts, and the Tapu Fini also held a Fairium Z, which ended up allowing it to OHKO Lucario. 7-4.

Round 12 – Matthias Loong @mattadome (LWL)

Playing Matthias was unfortunate, as he is another of my friends. He was using another version of the Yveltal/Kyogre team, so I was not as worried as I should have been, going into this match. Bronzong on this team, in my opinion, makes the matchup significantly harder and is much more of a threat than the usual Stakataka. To make things worse, in game 3, Matthias led Tapu Lele/Yveltal into my Xerneas/Lunala. He meant to go for Psychic into Xerneas and Z-Move the Lunala with his Yveltal, however, he mis-clicked and doubled the Lunala slot. Unfortunately, I predicted his intended play and switched Lucario into the Lunala slot. Psychic OHKOed Lucario, and without redirection to set up the rest of my team, the game was lost. 7-5.

Round 13 – Aniello Iuliano @vgcsenior14 (LL)

I really forget how I lost this match, but I recall it being related to the fact that my Pokémon was asleep practically the entire game. 7-6.

Round 14 – Aaron Traylor @TBFUnreality (LL)
Smeargle/Persian/Salemence/Bronzong/Primal Groudon/Xerneas
This was probably impossible to win, as I was playing against an auto loss, the Smeargle/Bronzong lead. That’s pretty much it. 7-7.

Conclusion

Although players will not counter-team Xerneas/Lunala teams in the future, I believe that they will definitely be more aware of its existence and prepare to fight it. The young age of Ultra Series and the lack of the team having any big finishes so far allowed for me to have the element of surprise when people fought a more unexpected team. I’d like to thank the following people:

  • My family for the support and allowing me to travel to Berlin to play a children’s video game
  • All the people in VGC Memes, Mt. Silver, and the Peanut Gallery for the support before and through the entire competition
  • @c9_joseph, who originally created the team, and @IcebergVGC, who helped with modifications

Credit to nightcomet for featured image

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