2019 European Internationals Metagame Preview

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As the third International Championship of the 2019 season and the first of 3 major events in Ultra Series followed by the North American International and World Championships, this event is the biggest event in Europe as the teams and strategies that do well here will largely dictate how the rest of the format looks like. This article will talk about how the metagame, more specifically the restricted cores, may look going into it while analyzing 4 large events that have taken place before the European Internationals!

– NPA Usage Stats (Link to Results)
– Chile Special Event (Link to Results)
– Zelda's Berlin Challenge (Link to Results)
– Daytona Beach Regionals (Link to Results)
– Victory Road's Ultra Series Open (Link to Results)

Restricted Cores to Expect

This is no surprise for players who remember VGC 2016, back when these 2 where the most common pairing and the one to fear, but Xerneas and Primal Groudon have once again appeared as the most common restricted duo. To date, some big success for this core is: being the most used core in NPA; Jean Paul Lopez Buiza and Ignacio Sepulveda finishing 3rd and 7th respectively at the Chile Special Event; Alessandro Fantinato winning the Zelda Berlin Challenge; Michael D'Angelo finishing 3rd at Daytona Beach Regionals; and Pablo García, Juan Carlos Mateos, and Álvaro Carrasco finishing 2nd, 4th, and 6th at the Victory Road Ultra Series Open respectively. Some common partners you can expect are Mega Salamence, Tapu Koko, Tapu Fini, Bronzong, Cresselia, Incineroar, Smeargle, Alolan Persian, and Amoonguss, which either come as supports or offensive threats to help out Xerneas and Groudon.

Kyogre and Yveltal, in the very beginning of Ultra Series, hasn't seen much of any usage due to players not finding a way to properly build around and use it. Fast forward to Zelda's Berlin Challenge and it started to see much more success as 5 players (IamthereforIam, Oliver Eskolin, Malcolm Mackellar, Feis, and Markus Stadter) used the duo to finish 3rd, 4th, 5th, 8th, and 12th place in the event. Going into Daytona Beach Regionals, this core was something that players didn't expect to do well as Groudon/Xerneas which was discussed above was the core many expected it to win, but James Baek used the most common variant of this team with Mega Gengar, Tapu Lele, Incineroar, and Stakataka to win the event. 

Rayquaza/Kyogre won the World Championships in 2016, so going into Ultra Series it's a core that many players immediately looked to using. At tournaments, Emiliano Reyes used it to win the Chile Special Event, Antonio J. Sánchez to win Victory Road's Ultra Series Open while Víctor Alarcón and Javier Conesa finished 5th and 9th respectively. Linnie1996, Zain Salman, and Kinugawa finished 10th, 11th, and 17th in the Berlin Challenge respectively. At Daytona Beach Regionals, Brian Youm and James Evans both finished Top 8 with the core. What all these teams share is there essentially built the same way in supporting both Kyogre and Rayquaza. Common partners include Togedemaru, Incineroar, Mega Gengar, and Bronzong, with Tapu Koko, Crobat, Stakataka, and Ferrothorn making appearances on these teams sometimes.

necrozma-dusk.png  xerneas-active.png
This restricted core works by constantly pressuring offense thanks to Xerneas after using Geomancy and Necrozma with Light that Burns the Sky, primarily as a special attacker and maybe even after Calm Mind boosts. Despite not even seeing any use at Victory Road's Ultra Series Open or Daytona Beach Regionals, it did see use at the Chile Special Event where Dorian Quiñones finished 8th, and the Berlin Challenge where Kyle Livinghouse finished 2nd and Fabian Braun finished 15th. Common partners include Tapu Lele, whose Psychic Surge can power up Necrozma's Photon Geyser; Mega Kangaskhan, who brings Fake Out pressure; Incineroar, who also brings Fake Out pressure as well as its Intimidate ability; and Amoonguss, who brings redirection and sleep to the team in the form of Rage Powder and Spore.

groudon-primal.png  necrozma-dawn.png
Groudon and Dawn-Wings Necrozma plays similar to Groudon/Lunala teams in the past where the goal is to pressure offense thanks to the help of speed control, similar to Alex Underhill and Santino Tarquinio's Trick Room variants from Moon Series. In Ultra, however, this team includes both a faster Tailwind mode with Mega Salamence, Ultra Necrozma, and Tapu Lele, and a slower Trick Room mode with Stakataka and Incineroar, while Groudon can function in both, as shown by Jake Powell's Top 4 Daytona Beach Regionals finish. Being able to change modes depending on the teams you fight can make your play flexible since you can switch things up easier than teams who can't do this as easy.

groudon-primal.png  lunala.png
I'll only touch on this one briefly since it's very similar to the Groudon/Dawn-Wings Necrozma core mentioned above, but Lunala/Groudon plays very similar except with Lunala, you gain very powerful Ghost-type moves like Moongeist Beam and its Z-Move equivalent, Menancing Moonraze Maelstrom. So far in Ultra Series, Alejandro Jimenez has been the most popular user of this core, and his build, with Salamence, Tapu Fini, Incineroar, and either Ditto or Stakataka, is what players are using. At events, Sergio Gallego-Casilda and Alejandro Ramos used it to finish 3rd and 12th at the Victory Road Open respectively, but no usage at the Chile Special Event, Zelda's Berlin Challenge and Daytona Beach Regionals.

xerneas-active.png  lunala.png
The final core to discuss, Xerneas/Lunala, has seen success all throughout the 2019 season mainly thanks to Ashton Cox and Jeremy Rodrigues' Memphis and Latin American Internationals winning team, as well as Eduardo Cunha's Oceania Internationals winning team. Common partners include Smeargle, Incineroar, and Crobat, but Mega Evolutions such as Lucario, Kangaskhan, Salamence, and Lopunny see appearances depending on the player's preference. At events, Don Czech finished 16th at Daytona Beach Regionals, Martín Muñoz finished 4th at the Chile Special Event, and Roberto Porretti finished 14th at Zelda's Berlin Challenge.

Restricted Core Smart Money

Every time a new format drops, the safest bet is to make is to bet on the most common thing, which is where Groudon/Xerneas comes in. Being the most common, it's a matchup that many players will have to know, but even when players know the matchup inside and out, a very consistent Xerneas/Groudon player will generally come out on top. We saw this in 2017 where Miguel Marti de la Torre won the first 2017 International, European Internationals with a very standard team and in 2018 where Alessio Yuri Boschetto won the first 2018 Internationals, Oceania Internationals with another very standard team. Internationals are generally where players will play it safe because of the long tournament schedule against the worlds' best players and a lot of Championship Points and money on the line.


No matter what happens, the 2019 European Internationals are guaranteed to be filled with some high-level Pokémon VGC Ultra Series action from the globe's best players and it's going to be an event you won't want to miss. Check Pokémon's official tweet for the event's stream schedule and good luck to all trainers competing this weekend!

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


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