Intro to the VGC 2019 Format – Sun Series

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Announced at the VGC 2018 World Championships which is the earliest time we've ever gotten the rules for the upcoming VGC season, its confirmed that from September 4th, 2018 to January 7th, 2019, the VGC Sun Series format will be played using a twist on the GS Cup players who played VGC in 2016 aren't use to. The major changes includes the ban of Z-Crystals, Mega Stones, Red Orb, Blue Orb, and Rayquaza's Dragon Ascent. This change is going to shake up the first part of the VGC 2019 season so this article is meant to give you a brief look of what the format may look like and what to expect going forward. Hope you enjoy!

Also keep in mind that starting September 4th, the Championship Ladder on BattleSpot will switch to VGC 2019 Sun Series rules. Pokemon Showdown has already created a dedicated ladder for all VGC 2019 rules as well for your convenience.

Legal Restricted Pokemon

Since you are allowed to use 2 Restricted Pokemon on each team, it's important to look at which restricted Pokemon are legal to use on teams. Note that if a Pokemon has access to a form, its form will only be legal if it can enter the battle for the very first time within its form. Please note that because of the ban of the Red Orb, Blue Orb, and all forms of Mega Evolution, Primal Groudon, Primal Kyogre, and Mega Rayquaza are the only forms that are not allowed to be used.
mewtwo.png     ho-oh.png     lugia.png     kyogre.png     groudon.png     rayquaza.png     dialga.png     palkia.png     giratina.png     giratina-origin.png     reshiram.png     zekrom.png     kyurem.png     kyurem-black.png     kyurem-white.png     xerneas.png     yveltal.png     zygarde-10.png     zygarde.png     cosmog.png     cosmoem.png     solgaleo.png     lunala.png     necrozma.png     necrozma-dusk.png     necrozma-dawn.png

Notable Restricted Pokemon

This section of the article will talk about the restricted Pokemon that trainers should prepare for as they will most likely be the strongest and the ones you should prepare to fight.

Mewtwo is a Pokemon that has seen too much success in previous GS Cup, but thanks to the release of Tapu Lele, Mewtwo has the potential to become a very scary Pokemon. Tapu Lele can set Psychic Terrain to power up Mewtwo's already very powerful Psystrike. The most common item you can expect is a Life Orb to power up Mewtwo's attacks.

Ho-oh saw usage in very early VGC 2016 because of thanks to its Fire typing and impressive 106 HP / 156 Sp. Defense stats, it takes barely little damage from Xerneas' Fairy-type moves. This means Ho-oh can be a reliable answer to Xerneas which can be very helpful. Thanks to its Fire/Flying typing, this also means Ho-oh can wall any Groudon that doesn't carry a Rock-type move.

Kyogre is a Pokemon that once it got access to the Blue Orb, sets without holding the Blue Orb still saw usage when paired with Air Lock users Rayquaza. The most popular item was the Choice Scarf to catch Primal Groudon off guard. In this format, players should also expect to fight Choice Scarf variants as partnered with Pokemon like Rayquaza, it can catch Pokemon like Groudon again off guard. We may see more niche items like pinch berries or even Choice Specs and Life Orb but judging from the past, Choice Scarf will be something to fear. Kyogre will be this season's premier Rain setter.

Unlike Kyogre, Groudon hasn't seen success as much success without the Red Orb. Before the format announcement, players did theory giving Groudon a Groundium Z to try to pick up KOs Primal Groudon can't but with Z-moves being illegal, Groudon will have to find other items to use. At this point in time, it's hard to say what items Groudon will be able to use or even how viable it is. Since the format is very fresh, we'll have to wait and see how Groudon fares and if it can't compete with other Ground-types in the format like Zygarde and Landorus-Therian or will Groudon fall to a niche roll on teams as just a Drought user on teams.

Rayquaza losing Dragon Ascent has not helped it at all. Its best flying type move is now the 60 base power Aerial Ace which is not a powerful attack in the slightest which means Rayquaza will need to increase its attack stat with Swords Dance enough times for Aerial Ace to be threatening. Something Rayquaza is still just as good as is answering weather teams thanks to its Air Lock ability. Being able to weaken Kyogre's Water-type moves can allow for Pokemon like Tapu Koko that gets destroyed by its strong Water-type moves can be very strong. Rayquaza can also wall most Groudon that don't have Rock moves or the Hidden Power [Ice] which is very helpful.

Dialga saw usage in the past mainly to answer Kyogre and Rayquaza as well as Xerneas on some occasions. Thanks to its Dragon typing, Dialga is able to reliably take Kyogre's Rain-boosted Water moves while being able to threaten a strong Dragon-type move like Dragon Pulse or Draco Meteor which can also threaten Rayquaza as well although Rayquaza may not see much usage at all. Dialga beating Xerneas isn't as easy because if Xerneas is able to use Geomancy before Dialga can use its Steel-type move in Flash Cannon, Dialga will struggle to deal much damage to it while getting out-damaged by either Moonblast or Dazzling Gleam.

Like Dialga, Palkia is really strong at answer Kyogre. Its Dragon/Water typing means Kyogre won't be dealing much damage while Palkia can threaten it with powerful attacks like a powerful Spacial Rend or even a Thunder which in the Rain will be 100% accurate. One Pokemon Palkia will hate fighting is Xerneas which can easily set up with Geomancy without caring much of what Palkia can do to it.

In 2016, Kyurem-White was a Pokemon that thanks to its strategy and team composition, players knew what was coming when they saw it in team preview. The main goal was for its partner, mainly a Prankster user like Sableye to allow Kyurem to fire off a powerful 100% accurate Blizzard. Most Kyurem will hold the Choice Scarf to allow for the fastest attacks possible. Something interesting Kyurem could do is partner with Abomasnow for 100% accurate Blizzards and a Pokemon that threatens both Groudon and Kyogre.

Xerneas has proven to be a very powerful Pokemon in any format its legal in whether Singles or Doubles. This is thanks to the combination of the Power Herb item plus the move Geomancy. Since Geomancy can give the user +2 in Sp. Attack, Sp. Attack, and Speed but takes 2 turns to work, Power Herb exists to have this only take 1 turn to happen successfully. Thanks to this, Xerneas is able to fire off a Fairy Aura boosted Moonblast and Dazzling Gleam. After the boosts, Xerneas is easily able to threaten major damage on most of the format. Xerneas will fear common Steel-types like Ferrothorn, Bronzong, and Dusk-Mane Necrozma.

Yveltal is really good as being able to use very powerful Dark-type moves thanks to its Dark Aura ability and base 131 Attack stat as well as its base 131 Sp. Attack stat. Since there aren't many Pokemon in the format that resists Dark-type moves, this puts Yveltal in a strong position that allows it to threaten a lot of damage onto some very powerful Pokemon, including the restricted Pokemon. It also gets access to some strong support moves like Tailwind and Taunt for example.

Zygarde never really saw any usage in the 6th Generation. The lack of power in attacks and mediocre stats kept it from doing the job of a legendary it wanted to do. All that changed in the 7th Generation when Zygarde gained the Power Construct ability, which means it can change into its Complete form when its HP is at 50% or less at the end of the turn. Zygarde also got access to both the spread move Thousand Arrows which can hit flying types and grounds them, and the spread Thousand Waves which can prevent them from switching. Zygarde still struggles in a format where Xerneas is running the show and still has a mediocre base 100 attack stat, but with the right support, it can use Dragon Dance to set-up and threaten its opponents.

Solgaleo has already been perceived as one of the better-restricted Pokemon so far. The combination of powerful moves like Sunsteel Strike, Zen Headbutt, and Flare Blitz makes it a powerful Pokemon as its ability to hit a lot of Pokemon for major damage while giving teams a Xerneas answer. Decent bulk in 131 HP, 107 Defense, and 89 Sp. Defense can allow Solgaleo to survive some strong hits, which is also thanks to its Full Metal Body so you can't lower its stats.

Thanks to its Shadow Shield ability, Lunala is able to comfortably survive attacks which can allow it to safely do its job, either in setting up moves like Tailwind, Trick Room, and Calm Mind, or go for strong moves like Moongeist Beam and Psychic to try and pick up some big KOs. Lunala also learns Wide Guard which can be very helpful in a format dominated by spread moves like Water Spout and Dazzling Gleam. Lunala does fear powerful Dark types like Incineroar, Tyranitar, and Yveltal but because of this, Fairy-types like Xerneas can be a powerful partner for it.

Dusk Mane Necrozma is one of the most popular Restricted Pokemon in the Sun Series. Thanks to its Prism Armor ability which means it only takes 75% of the damage from super-effective moves, it allows Dusk Mane Necrozma to take hits it otherwise couldn't. Access to strong moves in Sunsteel Strike and Photon Geyser can allow Dusk Mane Necrozma to take advantage of its powerful STAB moves.

Thanks to its base 157 Sp. Attack stat, Dawn Wings Necrozma can fire off some very powerful moves like Moongeist Beam and Photon Geyser. Like Dusk Mane Necrozma, Dawn Wings Necrozma also has the Prism Armor ability which isn't as good as Lunala's Shadow Shield ability as it means Dawn Wings Necrozma will take a large amount of damage from the Ghost and Dark-type moves its weak to which means it can potentially be OHKO'd from full HP which isn't going to be helpful for it.

Common non-Restricted Pokemon

These are Pokemon that are commonly seen as the non-Restricted Pokemon. Their main goal is to support the restricted Pokemon or benefit from an attribute a restricted may have. They can also do a strong job at beating very popular restricted Pokemon which is strong enough on its own to justify slots onto teams.
incineroar.png     amoonguss.png     ferrothorn.png     kartana.png     tapu-lele.png     tapu-koko.png     cresselia.png     araquanid.png     celesteela.png     hitmontop.png     ludicolo.png     tsareena.png     bronzong.png     raichu.png     smeargle.png     stakataka.png     tapu-bulu.png     clefairy.png     crobat.png     gothitelle.png     landorus-therian.png     tapu-fini.png     snorlax.png     toxicroak.png     whimsicott.png     suicune.png     gastrodon.png     abomasnow.png     salamence.png     scrafty.png     tyranitar.png

Xerneas Answers

amoonguss.png     ferrothorn.png     kartana.png     celesteela.png     bronzong.png     stakataka.png     toxicroak.png
These are Pokemon will find themselves on teams in large part due to how well they are at dealing with Xerneas. Amoonguss resists Fairy moves and can get rid of the Geomancy boosts thanks to Clear Smog. Ferrothorn, Bronzong, and Stakataka can also take Fairy moves as well pretty comfortably and threaten it in return with Gyro Ball which without lowering its attack stat, these 3 can always KO Xerneas which is very helpful. Celesteela gets Heavy Slam which threatens Xerneas and can get a pretty safe 2HKO. Toxicroak is a more interesting Pokemon that can threaten Xerneas with a powerful Gunk Shot and also learns Fake Out which is helpful.

Kyogre Answers

amoonguss.png     ferrothorn.png     kartana.png     tapu-koko.png     ludicolo.png     tsareena.png     raichu.png     tapu-bulu.png     gastrodon.png     abomasnow.png      toxicroak.png
These are Pokemon will find themselves on teams in large part due to how well they are at dealing with Kyogre. Amoonguss can soak of Water-type moves to threaten it in return with Grass Knot. Ferrothorn can take all of Kyogre's hits and threaten with Power Whip which KOs most Kyogre unless they're super bulky. Kartana is in the same boat as Ferrothorn but unlike Ferrothorn, Kartana doesn't take special hits as well so you will have to play around this fact, but it packs a very strong Leaf Blade. Tapu Koko and Raichu can use powerful Electric-type moves in Thunderbolt/Thunder or Volt Tackle to try and threaten Kyogre. Ludicolo can outspeed thanks to Swift Swim and threaten with Grass Knot. Tsareena, Tapu Bulu, and Abomasnow get powerful Grass moves to threaten Kyogre and Abomasnow are notable because Kyogre can't do much damage to it. Gastrodon and Toxicroak can take Water moves and benefit from it either in regaining health or a Sp. Attack boost then fires off a strong attack.

Intimidate Users

incineroar.png     hitmontop.png     landorus-therian.png     salamence.png
The popularity of physical attackers means Intimidate is very strong. Incineroar gets Fake Out which is helpful and its Fire/Dark typing means it can threaten Solgaleo, Lunala, and Necrozma which is very very helpful. Hitmontop gets strong support moves like Fake Out as well as Feint, Wide Guard, and Helping Hand to support its partners. Landorus-T is a fast Ground-type that can be strong against common Steel-types like Solgaleo and special variants can use Sludge Bomb to threaten Xerneas. Salamence is commonly paired with Solgaleo to use Bulldoze to activate Solgaleo's Weakness Policy to give it +2 in Attack and Sp. Attack to so Solgaleo can pick up KOs easier. Salamence has seen niche usage as a weak Bulldoze user paired with a Solgaleo to activate its Weakness Policy to increase its attack stat without lowering its speed.

Redirection Users

amoonguss.png     smeargle.png     clefairy.png
Redirection through Follow Me and Rage Powder is very important to help Pokemon accomplish their job that they otherwise couldn't. As discussed above, Amoonguss can sponge hits from Kyogre and Xerneas which means it can survive multiple turns to help with Rage Powder. Although it's not bulky in the slightest without good Moody boosts, Smeargle will probably only get 1 chance to use Follow Me which means if its Focus Sash is broken, it only takes 1 move to finish off Smeargle. The final one in Clefairy is notable because of its Friend Guard ability, which is helpful because it allows its partner to take hits it otherwise couldn't which is helpful for set-up Pokemon like Geomancy Xerneas for example.

Yveltal Answers

tapu-lele.png     tapu-koko.png     tapu-fini.png     raichu.png     stakataka.png     tyranitar.png
These 6 Pokemon are really good at beating Yveltal pretty reliably. Tapu Lele, Tapu Koko, and Tapu Fini can use strong Fairy-type moves in either Dazzling Gleam from Tapu Koko or Moonblast from Tapu Lele and Tapu Fini while not taking much damage from Yveltal's Dark-type moves, but Tapu Koko can also use STAB electric type moves like Thunderbolt, Volt Switch, and Dazzling Gleam to threaten Yveltal. Raichu does fear Yveltal's Dark-type moves but Raichu can outspeed it to threaten with a strong Volt Tackle or even paralyze Raichu with Nuzzle. Stakataka and Tyranitar can use Rock Slide to threaten Yveltal while Stakataka does have added bonus of threatening with the strongest Gyro Ball in the format.

Trick Room Setters

cresselia.png     bronzong.png     gothitelle.png     stakataka.png
These Pokemon are really good at supporting its partners, allowing them to do their job better. Cresselia gets access to multiple support moves such as Trick Room as other moves like Gravity, Skill Swap, and Helping Hand which allows it to help its partners out. Bronzong also gets Trick Room as well as Gravity and Skill Swap, but under Gravity, Bronzong can use a very accurate Hypnosis to put its opponents to sleep. Gothitelle's Shadow Tag ability is very important as preventing your opponent from switching is very important. Gothitelle does get access to Trick Room as well as Gravity, Skill Swap, and Helping Hand which can make it a great support Pokemon. Stakataka is an offensive Trick Room setter that has the added bonus of threatening Xerneas and Yveltal as mentioned above. The notable support moves include in Gravity and Skill Swap but not Helping Hand.

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