In VGC formats where the big name legendary Pokémon are allowed, the most popular cores will emerge with the main goal of dealing a large amount of damage. In Sun Series, we saw the restricted core of Xerneas and Lunala appear as a very aggressive duo that focuses on both setting up and just overpowering your opponent. This article will look at why its a very successful duo and how it has improved going into Moon Series.

Why It's Good

As touched on above, Xerneas/Lunala really succeeds at overpowering its opponent. With Xerneas' Geomancy and Lunala's powerful Ghost and Psychic-type moves, many players can get overwhelmed by these Pokémon. You'll see in matches that the Xerneas/Lunala player can win by forcing the opponent to invest heavily in dealing with one of your restricted Pokémon which means when that Pokémon goes down, you get to send out your other Pokémon to deal with the rest of your opponent's team which has already been weakened by your first restricted Pokémon.

Because of this, you'll often see the Pokémon on these teams there to help Xerneas use Geomancy and Lunala get its attacks off. Fake Out, Rage Powder/Follow Me, and speed control are very common on these teams purely to aid in setting up. While these options aren't unique to Xerneas/Lunala teams as every team can benefit from them, any Pokémon that wants to set-up to become a much bigger threat will love being paired with another Pokémon that packs any tool like this. As you'll see in the successful teams, each Pokémon added on the team carries a support option that can help Xerneas and/or Lunala accomplish their job.

Sample Sets – Xerneas


Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 28 HP / 4 Def / 196 SpA / 28 SpD / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

There's only one good way to use Xerneas but the EV spread is what can set your Xerneas apart from other Xerneas. This Xerneas EV Spread is created by Benjamin Tan (@TheRealMination) which is from team report. In it, Ben talks about how a bulky Xerneas is great but being slower by opposing Xerneas that can 2HKO you is not nice. Ben says that he can afford speed ties against opposing Timid Xerneas he can afford because if you win it, your Xerneas is in an amazing position. In the damage calcs shown, it states how this Xerneas can survive a Modest Rain-boosted Water Spout from Kyogre and only has a 6.3% chance of fainting to Timid Lunala's Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom.

Sample Sets – Lunala


Lunala @ Lunalium Z
Ability: Shadow Shield
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moongeist Beam
– Psyshock
– Tailwind / Psych Up
– Protect

Lunala is another Pokémon that plays very simple, its EV spread is what set Lunala apart from other Lunala. A simple EV spread is here emphasizes how Lunala exists on the team to hit hard and fast. In Sun Series, Lunala's most common item was Spooky Plate to power up Moongeist Beam which was a very effective item choice. Going into Moon Series with the introduction of Z-Moves, Lunala gains its signature Z-Move which means that as a lot of players can attest to, Lunala mirrors with Z-Moves in the mix turns into who can use their Z-Move first as the winner of that small battle will KO the opposing Lunala.

While Psyshock is your standard Psychic-type move that has the note of hitting opposing Xerneas even after it uses Geomancy and Protect is amazing in VGC, the 3rd slot is a very interesting move. Tailwind is great for speed control but you can even use Psych Up which depending on the position, using Psych Up can net a serious benefit for you. You can either use Psych Up to copy Xerneas' Geomancy boosts or even more interestingly, you can copy Smeargle's Moody boosts if it has some cool stat boosts like evasion, special attack, speed, and defense. Keep in mind that with Psych Up, you also copy stat drops so keep that in mind if you ever choose to use Psych Up at any point in the match.

Successful Teams with this Core

SUN SERIES
PLAYER
EVENT
FINISH
TEAM
Ashton Cox
Latin American Internationals
1st Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Ashton Cox
Memphis Regionals
1st Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Jeremy Rodrigues
Latin American Internationals
2nd Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Jeremy Rodrigues
Memphis Regionals
2nd Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Joseph Costagolia
Roanoke Regionals
Top 4
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Qi Wei
Portland Regionals
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngludicolo.pngstakataka.png
Mitch Kendrick
Brisbane Regionals
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Zach Carlson
Philadelphia Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngludicolo.pngstakataka.png
Stephen Mea
Portland Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Alban Badin
Lille Special Event
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Stephen Mea
Latin American Internationals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Ashton Cox
Roanoke Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Chuppa Cross IV.
Roanoke Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Jake Magier
Roanoke Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Stephen Mea
Roanoke Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Sam Pandelis
Brisbane Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Rene Alvarenga
Anaheim Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngkartana.png
Stephen Mea
Anaheim Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Toler Webb
Roanoke Regionals
Top 32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngamoonguss.pngkartana.png
Dustin Lam
Portland Regionals
Top 32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-koko.pngincineroar.pngsmeargle.pngkartana.png
Patrick Donegan
Portland Regionals
Top 32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png
Jeremy Rodrigues
Roanoke Regionals
Top 32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngcrobat.png

MOON SERIES
PLAYER
EVENT
FINISH
TEAM
Moises Briones
Mexico City Special Event
1st Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pnglandorus-therian.png
Gabriel Agati
Campinas Special Event
1st Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-koko.pngincineroar.pnghitmontop.pngamoonguss.png
Dorian Andre Quinones Vallejos
Ecuador Special Event
2nd Place
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngkartana.png
Aaron Traylor
Dallas Regionals
Top 4
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pnglandorus-therian.png
Victor Rivas
Ecuador Special Event
Top 4
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pngkartana.png
Rene Alvarenga
Panama Special Event
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pnglandorus-therian.png
Ashton Cox
Dallas Regionals
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngamoonguss.pngincineroar.pngcrobat.pngkommo-o.png
Andres Samayoa
Mexico City Special Event
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngamoonguss.pngincineroar.pngtoxicroak.pnglandorus-therian.png
Gustavo Braz
Campinas Special Event
Top 8
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngsmeargle.pngkartana.png
Joseph Costagolia
Dallas Regionals
Top 16
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-lele.pngincineroar.pngamoonguss.pnglandorus-therian.png
Paul Chua
Dallas Regionals
Top32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-koko.pngincineroar.pngninetales.pngkartana.png
Kevin Swastek
Dallas Regionals
Top 32
lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngcrobat.pngincineroar.pngludicolo.pngstakataka.png
Eduardo CunhaOceania Internationals1st Placelunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtsareena.pngstakataka.png
Luke CurtaleOceania Internationals2nd Placelunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtsareena.pngstakataka.png
Liam GilbertOceania InternationalsTop 8lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngtapu-koko.pngincineroar.pngamoonguss.pngtoxicroak.png
Alexander ThornhillOceania InternationalsTop 32lunala.pngxerneas-active.pngsmeargle.pngincineroar.pngtsareena.pngstakataka.png



Supporting the Core

incineroar.png
While Incineroar finds itself on every VGC team, what it adds to Xerneas/Lunala teams is very important with helping these two out. It's Intimidate ability can help its partner tanks physical hits better, access to Fake Out can help either Xerneas use Geomancy or Lunala try and take out an enemy Pokémon. Other tools like Snarl to weaken opposing special attackers, U-turn to switch out into another Pokémon which means you can bring Incineroar into to Fake Out once again and cycle Intimidate, and your Fire typing to threatens other Steel-types.

smeargle.png
Smeargle is the ultimate support Pokémon because of its access to any move in the game barring a small number of exclusive ones. Common support moves like Fake Out, Follow Me, sleep moves like Spore and Lovely Kiss, Wide Guard, and Crafty Shield are some moves that Smeargle commonly uses. What this means is you can use Smeargle to support its partner. Keep in mind that if Smeargle gains a helpful Moody boost, Lunala can use Psych Up to copy those boosts.

toxicroak.png
While Toxicroak shares a few useful supportive options as Smeargle and Incineroar, it does have some very useful options as well that keeps it a strong pick. The 3rd Fake Out user in this section, a strong option Toxicroak provides to teams is its Dry Skin ability which means it becomes a strong switch-in to Kyogre's powerful Water-type moves. This means Toxicroak becomes a very strong annoyance to Kyogre purely because if it's in the back of your team, you naturally threaten the enemy of Kyogre by having it as a potential switch-in to powerful Water-type moves and regain health.

crobat.png
Crobat exists on teams purely due to its Inner Focus ability which makes it a viable threat to Fake Out which means Crobat can easily use Tailwind to help Xerneas and Lunala accomplish their main job of pressuring a ton of damage. Other support moves like Taunt, Quick Guard, and Haze can make Crobat annoying to deal with. It's only real offensive move is Super Fang which can bring opposing Pokémon down by half of their HP which can help set you up to pick up crucial KOs.

kommo-o.png     landorus-therian.png
Kommo-o and Landorus-T have seen usage in Moon Series purely due to an early metagame trend. This trend revolved around the early presence of Yveltal/Groudon teams. For Kommo-o, as some Tapu Koko move away from Dazzling Gleam, Kommo-o has found its place on teams for the chance to use Clangorous Soulblaze for the boosts which means it gets a safe chance to sweep through their team. Landorus appears for the same advantage versus the team with its Ground-type moves like Earthquake or Earth Power to hit Tapu Koko, Incineroar, and Stakataka for super-effective damage. Intimidate is also helpful to limit the power of Groudon as well as Yveltal's physical moves.

tsareena.png
Tsareena's Queenly Majesty ability is something Xerneas loves to have. The ability to block priority moves, mainly Fake Out, is  very helpful for Xerneas being able to use Geomancy much safer. Other support moves such as Feint to break Protect and Helping Hand to increase Xerneas and Lunala's damage output are some other things Tsareena can do.

Beating the Core

incineroar.png
As Incineroar has shifted away from Knock Off and in favor of Snarl, it can be a very annoying Pokémon to deal with. Snarl can weaken Xerneas' Special Attack stat as it uses Geomancy to make your Xerneas less of threat and can also weaken Lunala's Special Attack which is especially annoying as Lunala generally doesn't threaten Incineroar for a lot of damage barring niche moves like Focus Blast, though to OHKO Incineroar, Lunala will need to use All Out Pummeling or give Lunala Choice Specs.

stakataka.png
Stakataka can be annoying to deal with as it can threaten Xerneas with Gyro Ball which can easily KO it even before Geomancy and doesn't take to much damage from a boosted Moonblast. For Lunala, it's Menancing Moonraze Maelstrom does a lot of damage to Stakataka so something players have done is using both the Lunala's Z-Move and Xerneas' boosted Moonblast to double target Stakataka in hopes of picking up a knockout on it. A big priority for you if you see Stakataka should be stopping it from setting up Trick Room because if it does, then not much stops it from either picking up important KOs or threatening a ton of damage.

lunala.png     xerneas-active.png
Lunala/Xerneas mirrors are very annoying because if both Lunala speed-tie, then its a race to use your Z-Move as whichever Lunala uses their Z-Move first will KO the enemy Lunala. For Xerneas, it's whichever can use Geomancy and use a boosted Moonblast. Whichever Xerneas accomplishes this first will have a major edge in the mirror as you have a better chance of KO'ing opposing Xerneas. While Lunala/Xerneas mirrors in this format can come down to winning speed-ties, Common support Pokémon like Incineroar which threatens Lunala and Toxicroak which threatens Xerneas can be helpful to win the battle.

gengar.png
Gengar has seen some recent success in the Moon Series thanks to Nick Navarre's Dallas Regionals win. The reason Gengar can give Xerneas/Lunala teams some trouble is thanks to Gengar's Ghost and Poison typing which makes it the only Pokémon that can hit both for super-effective damage. Nick's Gengar was given Ghostium Z which can OHKO Lunala thanks to Z-Shadow Ball with the added bonus of outspeeding it. The same goes with Xerneas which Gengar can outspeed and hit it with Sludge Bomb.

Conclusion

Xerneas and Lunala have proven to be a very successful restricted duo. With multiple Top Cut finishes at the Regional, Special Event, and International level, it's a core that has proven to be very consistent and with the different versions other players have used, it's a core that very much has room for innovation. It will be very interesting to see how players can make the necessary changes to the core to keep it viable in the current format and more interestingly, how it can even be viable in Ultra Series if possible.

Thanks for reading! Follow us on twitter @NimbasaCityPost for updates about VGC content on the website!