How to prepare for 2016 US Nationals

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So, with US Nationals coming up, there's going to be a large variety of teams and Pokémon that'll show up, but the question is for everyone that's going to compete & want to win the event at the same time is what are we going to see & how prevalent will it be. This article will be geared towards answering that question from my point of view. I'll be going through every popular core of Pokémon you will most likely see to help give a better view of this to help you prepare for the threats & improve your team from small things like EVs and items to large things like what 6 Pokémon you'll see. Hope you enjoy and let's begin.

Warning: This may be long, but it's all important information to talk about and it's best to go through this information very thoroughly.

What will be covered in this article
  1. EV & IV Spreads
  2. Items
  3. Restricted Cores
  4. Mega Evolutions
  5. Support Pokémon
  6. Great Resources to Use

1) EV & IV Spreads

This is a very important thing to go through with all 6 of your Pokémon. The reason is that if your Pokémon don't have EVs then they won't be able to take attacks from Pokémon that do and dish out enough damage to Pokémon as well. The best thing to do is to make sure that the EVs you put into your Pokémon are designed to take the best hits when needed and not invest any more than needed. For example, let's do an example for Primal Groudon, a Pokémon your most definetly gonna see if you play this VGC season. Primal Groudon can be EV'd many different ways. It can either go for a physical, special, or a mixed attacking set, all of which have done well in the 2016 VGC season. For this example, we'll take a defensive route to show how Groudon can be built to take hits. When building it to take hits, you'll want to EV your Groudon to take the most threatening hits. Water moves from Primal Kyogre won't be a reality, unless in extreme situations. Instead, the Primal Groudon mirrors are very dangerous so we'll EV to take Earth Power from a special attacking set, mainly a Groudon with a neutral nature.

Without investment: 252 SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 0 HP / 0 SpD Primal Groudon: 186-222 (106.2 - 126.8%) -- guaranteed OHKO

This is very dangerous. Since your Primal Groudon may encounter this move, EV'ing to take it will be very real. If you add 12 HP EVs and 220 Sp. Defense EVs, that damage calc turns into

With investment

  1. 252 SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 12 HP / 220 SpD Primal Groudon: 150-176 (84.7 - 99.4%) -- guaranteed 2HKO 
  2. 252 SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 212 HP / 92 SpD Primal Groudon: 168-200 (83.1 - 99%) -- guaranteed 2HKO

As you can see, Groudon now takes the hit much better and it rest easily know it'll survive. 

Now we'll go over the IVs. As for IVs, for the most part, you'll want either a 31 or 0 in your IVs. 31 means the stat will be the best it can be while a 0 means it's great for improving the power of Gyro Ball for Pokémon like Bronzong and Ferrothorn or to improve your chances to move first under Trick Room. Anything other than that can be either for certain speed stats or various Hidden Powers, which I'll plug in the best IV Spreads real quickly to help out. 

  1. Water: 31 / 0 / 30 / 30 / 31 / 31
  2. Ice: 31 / 30 / 30 / 31 / 31 / 31
  3. Fire: 31 / 0 / 31 / 30 / 31 / 30
  4. Ground: 31 / 31 / 31 / 30 / 30 / 31
Note: For all Gen. 6 legendary Pokémon, you can't use the Fighting type Hidden Power as it requires 4 incomplete IVs, and legendaries can only have at worst, 3 perfect IVs. 

Now, let's hop into #2 and talk about items

2) Items

Items are one of the most important things to talk about when building a team. The reason is because if the item isn't working, it can potentially throw off the entire team. I'll go through each item and the notable Pokémon that can make use of it.

Mega Stones: They are the items that best work with the Pokémon it's assigned to. They can't be taken away from the move Knock Off, they aren't affected by the move Magic Room (This move takes removes the effect of all items for 5 turns), and can't be taken away through the move Switcheroo and Trick. Keep in mind that that for Blaziken and Mewtwo, If you give them a Life Orb, they can do more damage than Mega Blaziken and Mega Mewtwo Y respectively.

Primal Reversion Orbs: The Primal Reversion Orbs allow Groudon and Kyogre to primal reverse into their more powerful Primal forms. Like Mega Stones, they can't be taken away with Knock Off, aren't affected by Magic Room, and aren't affected by Switcheroo and Trick. They can only be used by the Pokémon they are assigned to and unless their is something better for your team, then these will be your best bet for your Groudon and/or Kyogre to do well.

Mental Herb: Mental Herb is the item that washes away the effects of Attract, Disable, Encore, Heal Block, Taunt, and Torment, but is a single use item. The best Pokemon that can take advantage of it are Trick Room users like Cresselia and Bronzong, Redirection users like Smeargle and Amoonguss, and even some off support Pokemon like Thundurus, which can catch your opponent off. If you have a support Pokemon that doesn't want to get shut down by Taunt and Encore, Mental Herb is will be your best friend.

Life Orb: Life Orb is an item that gives 1.3x damage boost to all attacks that make contact at the cost of 10% of your overall total health after you use the move. It's good for giving a Pokemon an extra boost in power to pick up a KO that it otherwise wouldn't. If the Pokemon really needs the KO, but it can't get it without any outside help, then a Life Orb is helpful. It works with all Pokemon that are primarily attacking, but Rayquaza, Scizor, Greninja, and Talonflame are some of the premier users of this item. 

Power Herb: Most Xerneas in this format are seen running this move. The reason is because it allows Xerneas to use Geomancy and get the affects right away. Without it, Geomancy will take 2 turns to execute, 1 turn to use the move and the 2nd turn to take advantage of the boost.

Assault Vest: Assault Vest is a move that gives the user a 1.5x boost to their Sp. Defense stat at the cost of not being able to use in non-damaging moves. This item is great for Pokemon like Lapras and Landorus-Therian, which both have moves they really want, so Assault Vest are really helpful.

Sitrus Berry: Sitrus Berry is that heals up 25% of your overall HP stat when your HP is at 50% or below. If you have a support Pokemon like Thundurus and Ferrothorn, which enjoy having their HP up and want to keep as much as possible, then slapping a Sitrus Berry on that Pokemon will be a good idea.

Lum Berry: Lum Berry is a one-turn use item that cures a Pokemon from all status conditions like burn, paralysis, sleep, freeze. This is a really prevalent item when Smeargle is using Dark Void. Even when not facing Dark Void from Smeargle, it's a useful item for protecting against burns from Scald, freeze from Ice Beam, paralysis from Thunder Wave, which is really helpful in the long run.

Focus Sash: Focus Sash is an item that if a move is going to OHKO a Pokemon, Focus Sash will prox and bring them down to exactly 1 HP. Focus Sash is nice since naturally frail Pokemon like Smeargle, Weavile, and Gengar which take a ton of damage from neutral moves and want to be able to do something. 

Choice Items (Band, Scarf, Specs): The Choice items give you a 1.5x boost in your Attack, Speed, and Sp. Attack stat respectively, but will lock you into the first move you use. These 3 items are amazing for that extra boost that nothing else will help out with. Common Pokemon to be seen running this are Landorus-Therian with the Choice Band,  Kyurem-White with the Choice Scarf, and while most Pokemon won't be seen running the Choice Specs, it should be scouted for, 

Leftovers: Leftovers is an item that allows the holder to regain 1/16 of his overall health at the end of each turn. This is useful to allow a Pokemon like Ferrothorn to stack Leech Seed health on top of this to regain a ton of health or a naturally bulky Pokemon like Ho-Oh to stack the health from Recover as it gains more health to increase its survivability to stay on the field.  

3) Restricted Cores

I'll be covering every Restricted Pokemon Core that you'll wanna have a plan for if you want to do well.

1) Primal Groudon + Xerneas ( )

The most common core, Groudon and Xerneas is the most successful core because it uses the offensive pin of Ground, Fire, and Fairy, which means it can destroy most Pokemon that comes its way. Xerneas can set up Geomancy while Groudon takes out any steel types that may threaten Xerneas. It's seen with the famous Big 6 team that has dominated the metagame since Markus Stadter won Stockholm Regionals back in January using Big 6 and started dominating tournaments both on and offline.

2) Primal Kyogre + Mega Rayquaza ( )

This core, also known as RayOgre, is common because it does well against Groudon/Xerneas, since Kyogre is can use water moves to beat Groudon, while Rayquaza can use Dragon Ascent to 2HKO Xerneas before it sets up. You may see a steel/poison type on these teams to improve the Xerneas matchup. It got much more common when Jamie Boyt won Wakefield Regionals using it back in February.

3) Primal Kyogre + Dialga (  )

When RayOgre was dominating, Dialga came about to handle it since Rayquaza generally runs a fire type move in its more flexible move slot, which Dialga can take on all accounts. Kyogre came to assist Dialga to improve the matchup against Primal Groudon, which can use Earth Power and/or Precipice Blades to destroy Dialga. It go its claim to fame when Wolfe Glick won Florida Regionals with it.

4) Primal Groudon + Primal Kyogre ( )

Known as Dual Primal, these 2 are paired together to use both forms of weather with sun and rain to control the weather and mess with your opponent. If you can control when you get your weather up, then you can mess with your opponent and put them in situations they won't be comfortable with. Groudon can operate either physical or special, while Kyogre is more of a special attacker. The interesting part is the speed stats, which can be played around with to your liking.  This core got its claim to fame when Alejandro Gomez got 2nd at Wakefield Regionals and also won UK Nationals using it, and when Aaron Zheng won Anaheim Regionals using it.

5) Primal Groudon + Yveltal ( )
When Dual Primal became popular, Yveltal + Groudon came out of the woodworks to handle it. Yveltal is really strong against the 2 as it can use powerful dark type moves like Sucker Punch and Foul Play to do over 50% to them which is really powerful while Kyogre and Groudon will hopefully struggle to break the rest of the team. It got common when Arash Ommati won German Nationals and when Alessio Yuri Boschetto won Innsbruck Regionals using it as well and getting Top 8 at Italy Nationals. 

4) Mega Evolutions

1. Mega Kangaskhan (kangaskhan-mega)
The most common Mega Evolution in VGC history, Kangaskhan is a really strong Pokemon as the combination of strong Normal, Fighting, and Dark moves can neutrally damage a majority of the metagame. Combine that with the Parental Bond ability, which allows the user to attack twice with every damaging, single target moves that make contact, but the 2nd hit will be at 50% power, powerful support moves like Fake Out, solid defenses, and a good speed stat, and you have a force to be reckoned with.

2. Mega Salamence (salamence-mega)
Even though Salamence is enjoying having a Mega Evolution, Salamence is certainly taking advantage of it. With strong stats in it's Attack, Sp. Attack, & Speed, and decent defenses, Salamence can take hits with minimal investment and then deal a major hit back. The Aerilate ability, which turns normal type moves into flying type moves, means Salamence can take advantage of his flying type moves. It also has a pretty useful non-Mega ability in Intimidate, meaning it can chose to Mega or not and still succeed.

3. Mega Mawile (mawile-mega)
Mawile has been a very dominating Mega since its introduction in VGC 2014. Like Salamence, Mawile also has the useful non-Mega ability with Intimidate, meaning it can switch in when needed and mess with someone. After Mega Evolution however, it trades in Intimidate for Huge Power, meaning a strong combination of Fairy, Steel, and Dark type moves and the amazing ability to thrive in and out of Trick Room to mess with your opponent.

4. Mega Gengar (gengar-mega)
A very interesting Mega, Gengar used to be seen on Perish Trap teams to use its Shadow Tag ability to its advantage. Now, Gengar can be seen using its ability to control weather and put opponents into situations they aren't comfortable with like weather control. Its also seen as more of an attacker on the front lines with strong Ghost and Poison type moves to get take down threats, or support moves to pair with Pokemon like Whimsicott for the Encore/ Disable combo to mess with opponents.

5. Mega Rayquaza (rayquaza-mega)
Probably one of the Megas with the most outright offensive power, Mega Rayquaza is interesting as it only needs to know the move Dragon Ascent to achieve Mega Evolution. While this may seen like an issue, the ability to hold an item like Life Orb, Focus Sash, and Assault Vest, which are the most common, and you have a threat. Amazing stats all around, great movepool, and great possible items to hold make it a threat. It also has a great pre-Mega ability with Air Lock, which rids the field of the current weather means Rayquaza can control weather, and works on many teams as a secondary Mega.

6. Mega Manectric ()
The final Mega to expect to see at Nationals. Mega Manectric is a Pokemon that hasn't had success yet, but certainly has the potential to have it. Mega Manectric has a great pre-Mega ability, which seems to be the trend. With Lightning Rod as that ability, it can soak up Electric type abilities and gain from it, then it can Mega Evolve and gain Intimidate, which only makes it more useful. Amazing stats, decent defenses, and a great movepool with the moves it uses means it can wreck the opponent.

5. Support Pokémon

The final topic, support Pokemon will be the backbone of your team, making sure your Restricted and Mega Pokemon can do their job. There are a lot of good support Pokemon, so I'll cover some of them in groups as in the job there the best at performing. Some may be in more than one group, but that's cause they're good at more than one thing.

1. Redirection Users (amoongusssmeargleclefairytogekiss)
The 4 are the best at using Redirection moves like Rage Powder and Follow Me. Amoonguss is the only one with Rage Powder while Smeargle, Clefairy, and Togekiss are seen using Follow Me. Good bulk means they can use it the best to help things like Xerneas set-up and sweep with Geomancy.

2. Sleep Inducers (amoongusssmeargle)
These 2 are really good at putting opponents to sleep. Amoonguss has access to Spore, meaning it can put things to sleep. Its slow meaning it can act under Trick Room, which is a threat. Smeargle has Dark Void, meaning it can put 2 Pokemon to sleep at one time (80% chance to hit one, 64% chance to hit both at once.)

3. Trick Room Users (gothitellecresseliabronzong)
These 6 are the Trick Room users to expect. While Gothitelle isn't as common, it is still seen every once in a while thanks to Shadow Tag. Cresselia is the most common as its a very bulky Pokemon and has a lot of moves it can take advantage of. Bronzong is interesting as it can threaten Xerneas with Gyro Ball, which is always good to have. Dialga is nice as it can use strong Dragon moves to threaten Salamence and has a nice typing in Dragon/Steel to use to make it more appealing. Meowstic is appealing as the only Trick Room user with Prankster, which means it can pull off a full support set to support its team. Palkia is another Dragon type setter, but has the added bonus of being able to handle both Primals, resisting their attacking and can do a ton of damage right back.

4. Speed Control Users besides Trick Room (salamence-mega)
These 8 are some of the best Speed Control users in the format. Thundurus and Togekiss are the best users of Thunder Wave. Gengar is the premier user of Icy Wind, though Kyogre is gaining popularity with the move, while the rest are Tailwind users. Crobat has good bulk, a nice support movepool, Zapdos has good bulk and threatens Kyogre with Thunderbolt. Talonflame has Gale Wings to get a +1 Tailwind, Salamence is starting to carry the move over Draco Meteor, and Whimsicott has Prankster to use the move.

5. Intimidate Users (salamence-mega)
These are the 4 best Intimidate users in the game. The first 3 have been covered above, but Landorus has done well in the past. A strong movepool, an amazing 145 Attack stat and an awkward 91 Speed stat. This means it can outspeed the Primals and do good damage with Earthquake and flinch them with Rock Slide.

6. Fake Out Users ()
These are the 7 best Fake Out users. Kangaskhan has been already covered. Weavile is a really strong Pokemon as it can threaten a lot of teams with Icicle Crash, Feint to break Protect, and Knock Off to take items. Mienshao is good for beating Kangaskhan and has Knock Off like Weavile. Raichu has Encore for locking Pokemon into support moves, Volt Tackle to beat Kyogre, and has Lightning Rod. Liepard is like Raichu, but has Prankster and use Foul Play over Volt Tackle. Infernape is good to help Xerneas out. It threatens Kangaskhan with Close Combat. Smeargle has been covered above.

7. Gravity Users (cresseliabronzong)
These are the 4 Gravity users. Cresselia is bulky, Bronzong is a great Trick Room abuser, Meowstic and Sableye have Prankster to give it priority. Sableye gets Foul Play, Swagger, and even a strong move in Quash to delay the target from moving until after everyone else gets a chance to move.

6. Great Resources to Use

Here are some resources to you that are amazing to you. From YouTube channels to twitch streams, they're all amazing. 
  1. YouTube: CybertronProductions 
  2. YouTube  WolfeyVGC
  3. YouTube: Baz Anderson
  4. YouTube: Kyle Cole
  5. YouTube: Gabby Snyder
  6. DamageCalc: Nugget Bridge
  7. YouTube: 13Yoshi37
  8. YouTube: James Baek
  9. YouTube: Jamie Kean
  10. YouTube: Jamie Boyt
  11. YouTube: Jamie Miller
  12. Twitch: Pokemon VG (US)
  13.  Twitch: Pokemon VG (EU)
I hoped you enjoyed this. Leave a comment if you have any question and check out my older content. Its some good stuff. I hope you do well at Nationals and if you already attended, I hope you did as well as you wanted to but if not, there's always next time. Bye and have an amazing day.


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