With the end of 2018, the Sun Series of the 2019 VGC season also comes to an end! Beginning January 7, the Moon Series starts and will feature a slight change of rules. From January 7 until April 1, all Z-crystals, except Ultranecrozium Z, are allowed in your teams, so Z moves are allowed!
Therefore, we give you a preview on what common Z moves you can expect to see in this new format, the Pokémon that can use them, their overall utility in the meta, their power, or the coverage they provide.
Groudon @ Groundium Z
Groudon enters the Moon Series with a brand-new weapon: Tectonic Rage. In Sun Series, Groudon ]had to choose between power and bulk, which led to some people running Choice Band bulky Groudons to increase the damage output while keeping some bulk. Groudon’s Z-Precipice Blades is a 190 base power Ground-type move that is able to pick a large number of very useful KOs, like non-bulky Xerneas, Kyogre, Kartana, Dusk-Mane Necrozma, specially defensive Tapu Fini, Incineroar (after two Intimidates), and Solgaleo (after one Intimidate).
While Choice Band and Pinch Berry remain very usable items on Groudon, Groundium Z provides Groudon with another layer of versatility that makes it a lot more threatening, and is likely to make it to the top as the most used item on Groudon. It is usually the best Z-move user on standard compositions featuring Xerneas or Yveltal, so it is expected to see a lot of use.
Kyogre @ Waterium Z
Kyogre was one of the dominant forces of the Sun Series. While the Choice Scarf variant was the most popular, and it is likely to remain just as threatening in Moon Series, some other versions of Kyogre (like Mystic Water and bulky berry sets) now have a new, very powerful tool to play with. Kyogre’s Z-Water Spout is by far the strongest Z-move in the metagame when under Rain, with 200 base power, and it comes with the added bonuses of bypassing the loss of power that Water Spout experiences at lower HP as well as going around Wide Guard users for a direct KO.
Hydro Vortex is so powerful that it can pick up the OHKO on some Groudons in the Sun, as well as straight out OHKOing Xerneas and even Assault Vest Kartana, making some of its counters much less reliable. Despite this, the speed boost given by Choice Scarf is one of the things that make Kyogre so deadly, so while powerful, the Z-move might not see as much use as one would expect.
Lugia @ Flyinium Z
Lugia’s Z-move works in a different way as the ones we saw before. Flyinium Z upgrades Aeroblast into a 180 base power move capable of doing very solid damage, but its biggest and most important use is Z-Tailwind. The Z power upgrades Tailwind giving it the added effect of raising the critical hit stage of the user by 2, akin to the effect of Focus Energy. This, together with Aeroblast’s high natural critical hit chance, makes it guarantee critical hits every single time, turning Lugia into a potent offensive threat in addition to the insane natural bulk it already possesses.
Round up your set with Psych Up to copy Xerneas boosts, Calm Mind to boost your stats without relying on Xerneas or Recover to get some HP back, and you have a quite tough Pokémon to deal with. If you see a Lugia in Moon Series, it is very likely to carry a Flyinium Z crystal.
Lunala @ Lunalium Z
Lunala was already one of the most common and strong Pokémon in the Sun Series, and the introduction of its exclusive Z-move only makes it better. Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom is a 200 BP Ghost-type move that catches a lot of KOs that Lunala previously couldn’t reliably get, like Assault Vest Kartana, offensive Groudon, specially defensive Solgaleo and Dusk Mane Necrozma. To bypass this, Lunala was often seen in Sun Series with a boosting item like a Choice Specs or a Spooky Plate. In Moon Series, Lunalium Z is shaping out to be the most seen item on Lunala, as it greatly improves Lunala’s presence damage-wise and also makes it less prone to opposing Knock Off.
Palkia @ Waterium Z
Palkia has a very unique stat distribution, as it is one of the few cover legendaries that is able to naturally outspeed Xerneas and Yveltal. Its base 100 Speed also allows it to outspeed Lunala, Solgaleo, and all base 90-95 restrictions like Ho-oh, Dialga, Reshiram, Zekrom, Kyurem, Groudon, Kyogre and Rayquaza. This trait makes it a good user of the Water-type Z-move, which is often seen paired with Kyogre to further boost its power. This allows it to severely threaten the OHKO on Xerneas before it can even move, as well as a plethora of other threats. As Water is a very good offensive type, Palkia can put pressure in ways it couldn’t before, and it may find itself a better niche in Moon Series.
Solgaleo @ Fightinium Z / Solganium Z
Solgaleo was a very good Pokémon in Sun Series, commonly seen as an answer to Xerneas and profiting from its ability Full Metal Body which blocks Intimidate. Its access to Superpower meant it was able to get the OHKO on Incineroar with an Expert Belt. With the Moon Series, Solgaleo got a couple new tools to play with. Fightinium Z Solgaleo serves the same role as Kartana, able to remove threats like Incineroar, Stakataka and Kartana itself, while being unaffected by Intimidate. While Expert Belt remains useful to guarantee the KO on bulkier variants of Xerneas, Fightinium may end up taking its place, as it also prevents Knock Off from doing extra damage and avoids Superpower drops.
Solgaleo’s exclusive Z-move, Searing Sunraze Smash, is a 200 BP Steel-type move that is able to OHKO even the bulkiest Xerneas, while also providing a strong STAB move with not many switch ins. While not as useful as Lunala’s exclusive move or the fighting Z-move, it is likely to see some use.
Yveltal @ Darkinium Z / Flyinium Z
Yveltal is another good candidate to use a Z-move, and a quite versatile one. Yveltal’s great mixed offenses allow it to go physical, special or mixed at will, and that’s the same with its Z-moves. Dark Aura-boosted Black Hole Eclipse, both from the physical side (Z-Foul Play) or the special side (Z-Dark Pulse) are able to deal a lot of damage to anything that doesn’t resist dark, and like Lunala, allows Yveltal to guarantee the KO on bulky Dark-weak Pokémon like Dusk Mane Necrozma.
Another approach with Yveltal comes from its access to Hurricane. When paired with Kyogre, Yveltal can use its strongest Flying STAB without worries about accuracy and that provides it with a perfect opportunity to carry a Flyinium Z. Supersonic Skystrike fills the same role as it did for Tornadus, hitting opposing Grass-types and providing coverage for Kyogre. Flying is also a good offensive typing, so while it is boosted by Dark Aura, it still hits hard a plethora of neutral targets.
Kartana @ Grassium Z / Fightinium Z
Kartana is a very good Z-move user thanks to its sky-high base 181 Attack. In the Sun Series, Sash and Assault Vest were the items of choice in Kartana, but while they are likely to remain common options, the introduction of Z-moves gives Kartana a couple other options as an offensive threat. Bloom Doom is Kartana’s strongest Z-move, capitalizing on STAB and decent base power of Leaf Blade. It is capable of getting KOs on Grass weak Pokémon like Groudon and Kyogre as well as other physically frail Pokémon like Tapu Koko and Tapu Lele. Due to its high power, it is the best neutral option when it comes to Z-moves in Kartana.
All-Out Pummeling from Sacred Sword is likely to be seen as a tech Z-move. Due to lack of STAB, its use is a little more specific, being used to pick KOs on things like Incineroar, opposing Kartanas, Stakataka and other fighting-weak Pokémon. Its neutral damage isn’t too big, so it should be used with care to remove specific threats.
Tapu Koko @ Electrium Z
Back from VGC18, Electrium Z Tapu Koko is likely to see some usage in VGC19 Moon Series for the same reason it always did: a fast and powerful Gigavolt Havoc, boosted by Electric Terrain, with very few resists in the metagame. Tapu Koko remains a powerful offensive threat, however, the presence of a lot of Grass-types and the higher base stats of the restricted Pokémon, somehow reduce its power compared to VGC18. It is a very strong candidate to carry a Z crystal though, as it has the power to get rid of Kyogre (providing it moves first), Lugia and Ho-oh in one shot.
Physical Koko can also put use to its best offensive stat by ensuring the OHKO against Xerneas, something the special variant can’t, unless carrying Z-Thunder instead of Z-Thunderbolt. That said, while not as good as it was before, Tapu Koko is still a strong contender for a Z-move in your team, and it is expected to see usage.
Tornadus @ Flyinium Z
The famous Tornadus-Kyogre combo is likely to come back for Moon series. Since Kyogre enjoys its Choice Scarf a lot in this combination, that frees up the Z-move slot for another member, and Tornadus is a prime candidate. Z-Hurricane has no fear of missing in sunny weather and is capable of getting rid of most of the grass-types that dare to try to stop Kyogre, being a clean OHKO on Assault Vest Kartana, Tsareena or Amoonguss. It also ensures Xerneas and Groudon are both unable to take a Water Spout and the following move from Tornadus even in sun, putting a lot more pressure in those compositions. Lunala is also unable to take the two moves, considering rainy weather. It has the potential to make the “TornOgre” archetype even stronger, providing a different kind of utility than that of Kyogre’s Hydro Vortex.
Incineroar @ Incinium Z
Incineroar’s job is usually a supportive one. Intimidate, Fake Out, U-turn, Snarl, Roar, Knock Off, all moves and traits that allow it to support a plethora of teams, and those attributes made it claim the uncontested top spot both in usage and CP claimed from the Sun Series. However, there is one other task Incineroar has. It walls and beats most Lunala sets. With the presence of Lunalium Z, Knock Off does a lot less damage, and those that do not carry the Z-move, are likely to have Electric Seed, meaning that Knock Off is not as much of a threat anymore.
But Incineroar has a tech that allows it to go past this and still hard beat Lunala, should its team really need it: Darkest Lariat and Malicious Moonsault. Darkest Lariat is an 85 base power, Dark-type move that ignores stat boosts on opposing Pokémon, akin to Sacred Sword, bypassing the possible Defense boost granted by Electric Seed, and when upgraded to its Z-move, Malicious Moonsault, it is able to OHKO Lunala through Shadow Shield, making it an interesting tech Z-move and something that Lunala players must take some care with.
Ludicolo @ Waterium Z
A classic from rain teams ever since Z-moves were introduced, a Swift Swim user with Hydro Vortex, is back on the scene. Ludicolo remains the prime Swift Swim user in the format, and access to the Waterium Z makes it a powerful threat alongside the already very dangerous Scarf Kyogre. Not many things can outspeed and/or take the combination of Ludicolo’s Hydro Vortex followed by Kyogre’s Water Spout. Rain is likely to remain strong, and Waterium Z Ludicolo should see some use.
Tsareena @ Grassium Z
Almost (90%) OHKO Xerneas; OHKO on Koko, Fini, Groudon, Kyogre. Tsareena with Queenly Majesty is a main member in Xernogre, she helps setups like Tailwind or Geomancy stopping Fake Out. It prevents Sucker Punch on Kyogre or Z like Talonflame’s One w priority. With HjKick is 90% on Inci, 75 if intimidated.