VGC 2019 Madison Regionals Preview

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Hello everyone and welcome back. My name is Ryan B Hebert, and today I'll be doing my Regional Forecast for Madison Regionals 2019. Ultra Series has been an exciting adventure of discovery and creation. Without further ado, let's get started! A small note for those who use Perish Song, if a player can identify the Perish Song core, they know you're running it.

Ultra Necrozma

I once thought the problem with using Ultra Necrozma was with the prevalence of Xerneas. Instead, I now believe the solution comes down to whether or not you're running Dawn Wings or Dusk-Mane Necrozma. I'm finding that it's more common to run Dusk Mane Necrozma with Sunsteel Strike to counter opposing Xerneas, and Earth Power to counter opposing Incineroar. The overall power and potential of this Pokémon combined with Tapu Lele's Psychic Terrain mean that it will tear through teams that rely upon Xerneas' with no issues. Primal Groudon paired with Ultra Necrozma only adds on to this power by being able to resist Fairy-type attacks from Xerneas. I am confident that at least 3 out of the top 8 teams of Madison will consist of Ultra Necrozma. More than likely, the restricted Pokémon with Ultra Necrozma will be Primal Groudon due to it's resistance to Xerneas and as a counter to Rain from Primal Kyogre.

The Return of Xerneas/Kyogre

kyogre-primal.png     xerneas-active.png
Remember when Xerneas/Kyogre was all the craze? I want to suggest that this is an archetype that will be reworked and redone to be taken to the top 8 of Madison. With a rise in usage with Ultra Necrozma, this will also mean a rise in Yveltal to counter said Dragon/Psychic-type Pokémon. The offensive power of Xerneas and Primal Kyogre to counter Ultra Necrozma/Primal Groudon seems to be something that I've yet to see in Ultra Series, and this may be the perfect opportunity to bring forth an archetype that found great usage in previous VGC 2019 formats. Ethan French was able to pilot a version of the team to 7th place at Bristol Regionals*. The most daunting change in the metagame that proves itself to be a challenge to this archetype is the increased usage of Pokémon like Bronzong, Ferrothorn, and even Dialga. Steel-types are finding their way into a format where if they can extinguish their weaknesses with Primal Kyogre, and Intimidate Ground/Dark-type moves from Incineroar or Landorus-T, or even Yveltal. Will this team see usage in Madison? Only time will tell.

Mega Evolutions

Mega Gengar has proved itself to be one of the most dominant Mega Pokémon in this metagame. The biggest questions to ask are, is it a Perish Song variant, Hidden Power Water, or even a Gengar without Shadow Ball. These are all things to keep in mind and keep track of. If Mega Gengar, finds its way to the top tables in Madison, Perish Song Gengar has made its way back to a place where if you cannot stop it, it will be able to win players games by simply denying knockouts from Pokémon that are bulky and carry the move Protect.

Lucario has been making a splash lately with its base 145 Attack stat against opposing Xerneas/Rayquaza teams. While it may be fast at 112 base Speed, Mega Rayquaza will outspeed at 115 base Speed. More importantly, this is a Pokémon that can pack a punch, and redirect attacks into itself with Follow Me. It's more than likely to have Meteor Mash and Close Combat. The last two moves become a toss-up between Follow Me or Bullet Punch, and then Protect or Detect. I expect to see this Pokémon on most Xeneas/Lunala teams this weekend.

Mega Lopunny is fast. Mega Lopunny can use Fake Out. Mega Lopunny can learn Fake Tears, Encore and Protect, and it gets Scrappy as it's Mega ability, so watch out Gengar because Mega Lopunny is here. This Pokémon is another example of a Mega Fighting-type Pokémon that is able to put out big damage with it's Normal and Fighting-type moves,  as well as being able to use things like Encore and Fake Tears to punish your slower opponents and pick up knockouts that might have been missed before.

Mega Salamence is dominating the ladder and tournaments as well. It's the use of Intimidate from Salamence's base ability, and then the power of its Mega ability, Aerilate, means that Hyper Voice, or Double-Edge into opposing Pokémon allows for powerful Flying-type damage unlike the world has ever seen before.

Common Leads

This is one of my favorite portions of the Regional forecasts that I write. It's very common for many matches in this format to depend upon how one leads against their opponent. These are just some of the most common leads that I predict you will see during Madison Regionals.

tapu-fini.png     incineroar.png
This is a lead that originated from VGC 2017 with Arcanine over Incineroar. A popular Xerneas/Primal Groudon team lead that allows for a perfect Icy Wind from Tapu Fini, as well as a U-turn from Incineroar to switch into either Xerneas or Primal Groudon. More often than not, one wants to target the Tapu Fini as soon as possible. The pressure comes when Incineroar switches into Primal Groudon. It may be tempting to target Primal Groudon, but I assure you that your true target should be Tapu Fini. Tapu Fini can Heal Pulse, Swagger, Gravity, Nature's Madness and more. The options are endless, and it's usually holding a Pinch or Sitrus Berry to ensure that it isn't off the playing field immediately. You may even see Misty Seed Tapu Fini as well for additional Special Defense. Watch out for more offensive Tapu Fini's as the season continues. Players are trending towards Moonblast as an alternative for extra damage to be done on the field from this lead.

gengar-mega.png     incineroar.png
This lead originated in VGC 2019. This lead will be in the top 3 most common leads. Between the potential for Sludge Bomb, Hidden Power Water, Substitute, and Perish Song, Gengar is very offensively or defensively adaptable to whether or not you bring something to directly threaten it. Incineroar is there to either Fake Out, U-Turn, or even Protect. It will also provide the much coveted -1 to Attack from Incineroar's Intimidate. It will either aid Mega Gengar or bring in another Pokémon to provide even more pressure than before. Remember, Mega Gengar's Shadow Tag, to be able to trap all Pokémon except Ghost-types and Pokémon with U-turn or Volt Switch. Perish Trap Mega Gengar is a real strategy again too.

nihilego.png     incineroar.png
This is a lead that originated from VGC 2019. While the two Pokémon existed previously in other formats, I like to think that ever since Xerneas/Rayquaza/Nihilego won European Internationals, it's been a thing since then. Normally, Nihilego by itself would be countered by Ultra Beasts like Kartana or Pheromosa, although with the pressure and presence of Mega-Rayquaza and Mega Salamence, those two Ultra Beasts become dwarfed in comparison to the Special Attacking Rock/Poison-type Pokémon known as Nihilego. It's quite fast with a positive nature and 252 EVs with 170 max speed. It's move pool and typing are strategically convenient against the most popular lead in the format, Incineroar/Tapu Fini. 

With an Incineroar beside Nihilego at 91 speed to outspeed turbo Amoongus (Max Speed 90), you'll be sure to guarantee your Fake Out from Incineroar will move first and allow Nihilego to go for its powerful Z-Power Gem for a knock out into an opposing Incineroar. If not the Z-move, a Sludge Bomb into a Tapu Fini that will most certainly not be appreciating the STAB Poison-type move. The 170 max speed on Nihilego is incredibly fast, and provides a fast, offensive option and lead to many teams that start off mid-speed and then divulge into their own speed control. What I mean is, your opponent may be reliant upon Tailwind or Trick Room to start off a set, rather than starting off with Pokémon that outspeeds most common leading Pokémon.

xerneas-active.png     smeargle.png/amoonguss.png/incineroar.png
These lead combinations have originated way back to VGC 2016 and beyond. It's always Geomancy, and then some form of redirection or Sleep spam. 

This is a common core/lead coming back in a common fashion. Geomancy Xerneas next to something that can hopefully allow Geomancy to get off and then stay on the field for at least the next turn. This hope can be in the form of Fake Out, Wide Guard, redirection, and Speed Control. These are the most common strategies players will attempt to use for Xerneas to keep Geomancy after it uses it, and Smeargle is the Pokémon to step up to the job. Smeargle can learn almost any move in the game, and it deserves to be recognized with it's 139 max speed stat. Being on the latter end of the Mid-Speed Tier Pokémon list, it does exceptionally well for its different functions. From Fake Out to Follow Me, to Transform, to Wide Guard or even Lovely Kiss/Spore, Smeargle will always be aiding its teammates in the best way possible.

Amoongus is a solid pick for any Primal Groudon team for a couple reasons. One, it's a Grass/Poison type that can help wall Kyogre and do big damage with Grass Knot. On the other hand, it can Clear Smog Xerneas or any stat-boosted Pokémon except Steel-Type Pokémon like Solgaleo or Stakataka. One issue I have with Amoongus now is that there is a prevalence of Mega-Rayquaza in the format. Many top players use Xerneas/Rayquaza or Rayquaza/Kyogre as a means to deal with Primal Groudon, and Amoongus will get run over by the Flying-Type powerhouse that is Mega-Rayquaza. Rage Powder is still incredibly useful for redirecting attacks, but Whimisicott and other Grass-Types are not affected by it. I think you can expect many Amoongus to be Red Card or even Payapa Berry. Don't be surprised to see Coba berry show up. Without Life Orb or Choice Band, Mega Rayquaza's Dragon Ascent will not KO an EV'd Amoongus. 

Incineroar is a newly added pick to sit besides Xerneas. Combined pressure with Fake Out means that Geomancy is much more likely to occur. Incinium Z has become increasingly more popular over the past few weeks and should be an expected option for Incinceroar to burn up on turn 2 unless the trainer uses it turn 1 instead of Fake Out. Intimidate from Incineroar also means that anything attacking Xerneas physically is less likely to be able to knock out Xerneas.

Teams to Expect

groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     salamence-mega.png     tapu-fini.png     incineroar.png     amoonguss.png
groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     salamence-mega.png     tapu-fini.png     incineroar.png     shedinja.png
Either variant of these teams has provided some of the most consistent results players are seeing across the globe. The top example of this team provides redirection and Spore support from Amoongus. The bottom team is a Soak Tapu Fini with Shedninja. The goal of the team is to clear all things that can possibly damage Shedninja. In doing so, you can win the game because your opponent is unable to do super-effective damage with Wonder Guard, where the Pokémon can only be damaged by Super-Effective moves. It can be damaged by weather conditions like Sandstorm or Hail, or by status conditions like Poison or Burn.

groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     gengar-mega.png     incineroar.png     landorus-therian.png     amoonguss.png
This variant of the team was run by Ashton Cox and Jeremy Rodrigues at Santa Clara Regionals to finish 1st and 3rd respectively. While I don't normally name players next to teams, they both piloted the team to first place and third place. The team has Perish Song Gengar next to the already powerful Primal Groudon and Xerneas. I personally haven't seen the team run, but most Pokémon on this team carry the move Protect.

rayquaza-mega.png     xerneas-active.png     tapu-fini.png     incineroar.png     nihilego.png     amoonguss.png
I had to put this team down because it just won an International Championship. Overall, I think this Xerneas/Rayquaza archetype will be most popular. Many individuals try to change it up or even build something that suits them as well. Just keep in mind that this team is strong from the start to its end. Xerneas and Mega Rayquaza are just as threatening at the beginning of a battle, as they are compared to the latter part of a battle.

kyogre-primal.png     rayquaza-mega.png     gengar-mega.png     incineroar.png     togedemaru.png     bronzong.png
Offensive Pokémon with support Pokémon like Togedemaru to take Electric-type attacks with Lightning Rod. Fake Out support from Incineroar as well as different methods of speed control from Bronzong, and potentially Gengar and Mega Rayquaza. Overall, anyone using this team is feeling pretty good against Xerneas/Groudon. After Berlin, I am inclined to disagree with that previous statement. The Europeans really did show Americans how to use the team.

xerneas-active.png     lunala.png     lucario-mega.png     tapu-lele.png     landorus-therian.png     amoonguss.png
Lunala's Z-Move is still as powerful as ever in this metagame, and with Tapu Lele, Psyshock is even more powerful in Psychic Terrain. The real cause for alarm with this team are the two forms of redirection from Mega Lucario and from Amoonguss. Whether you need to redirect with Follow Me or Rage Powder, there is incredible potential to protect Lunala and Xerneas from any single target attack.

kyogre-primal.png     yveltal.png     gengar-mega.png     tapu-lele.png     incineroar.png     bronzong.png
kyogre-primal.png     yveltal.png     gengar-mega.png     tapu-lele.png     incineroar.png     stakataka.png
This team composition has rarely been seen since April. More recent events have had one or two appearances, but it's not the most fearsome core when you're running Xerneas/Mega Rayquaza. I don't have too much to say about this core beside it's Trick Room and Tailwind potential. You'll more than likely see a Z move on Yveltal and Incineroar.

Pokémon to Expect

Don't leave anything that's weak to Incinium Z Incineroar out on the field for the first turn of the game. If you do, it is wise to protect your Lunala, Gengar, or even Ultra Necrozma to be sure that you're not taking this powerful Z-move. Throat Chop has also increased in its usage, so if you're using Roar Incineroar yourself, you may be shut down by your opponent. It's also found that some players are opting to drop Flare Blitz for Protect on Perish Song cores.

You either love it or you hate it. It's going to either live what you want it to live, or it's going to be the bane of your existence in tournament play. Similar to Shedninja, if this Pokémon is able to survive attacks from its opponent, and get up a Leech Seed, Ferrothorn can usually take the game. This is especially true against Physical attackers who are afflicted by Ferrothorn's ability, Iron Barbs. Be sure to have a Fire-type move ready to take down this pain of a Pokémon in Madison. Watch out for potential Assault Vest variants!

Ask yourself, is it Choice Band, Life Orb or Focus Sash? This will help you decide how to flowchart in the midst of a battle against your opponent. Many are opting for the Life Orb variant to surprise opponents with extra damage. They may be carrying a Dragon-type move now to help with increased usage of Dialga.

Dialga is bulky, it has convenient typing against Primal Kyogre, and Ice or Dragon beam/pulse for Mega Rayquaza. Dialga is mainly used for Speed Control purposes with its use of Trick Room. Dialga is usually holding a Pinch Berry or even a Sitrus Berry as well. Things like Moonblast or Precipice Blades may not be able to knock out this Pokémon like one would think.

I am the biggest supporter of Whimsicott. I truly believe there are team compositions that can be glued together by the correct 4 moves on this Pokémon. This Pokémon is known for its Prankster ability. This ability allows trainers to use status moves with priority. Notable moves include Tailwind, Fake Tears, Encore, and Taunt. Other moves to be aware of include Endeavor, Grass Knot, Moonblast, and Trick Room. There are many more moves, but these are the moves that I believe are most important. Be aware that if you have Tapu Lele, your opponent most likely has Tapu Fini to counter the Psychic Terrain, and if they do not, it's more than likely they won't bring the Whimsicott unless they have an attacking move and Tailwind to use.

I bring up this specific Pokémon, not due to its Hidden Ability, Symbiosis, but because of its sheer bulk and typing that makes it an effective Trick Room user. Oranguru's use of Trick Room, and then Instruct to have a partner or opposing Pokémon repeat a previously used attack. The tactics that may be used with Oranguru are incredible and quite interesting. The only thing to keep in mind is that Inner Focus, Mental Herb Oranguru has very few preventative measures to stop its use of Trick Room. Options include a Dark Z-Move or the move Roar. I expect to see one or two teams in the Top 32 of this Regional with Oranguru.

OH SNAP. It's back! The one and only Fighting-Dragon-type pokémon, Kommo-O! It's been a while since we've seen this pokémon on the field this format, but it's Z-Move Clangorous Soulblaze is very powerful and increases all of Kommo-o's stats by 1 stage. 

I've seen increased usage of Tsareena lately,  and for good reason! With the increased usage of Whimsicott and Murkrow, and the powerful use of Fake Out from Incineroar, Mega Kangaskhan, and Mega Lopunny, Queenly Majesty, Tsareena's signature ability to stop priority moves becomes extremely helpful against opponents who try to take advantage of priority moves. While Tapu Lele's Psychic Terrain may seem better, the chances of Tsareena's ability being nullified compared to the changing of terrain on the battlefield is very low. Watch out for this pokémon being swapped in next to a Primal Kyogre to unleash a powerful Water Spout.

Choice Scarf, Z-Move, and Trick Room are all are a possibility right now. Lunala, while it may seem dwarfed in comparison to Ultra Necrozma, is still as powerful as ever. It is still able to unleash a powerful Moongeist Beam, Psyshock, Ice Beam and even Moonblast! The potential of this pokémon is scary and should be considered a threat if it's on the field.

My Prediction

kyogre-primal.png     xerneas-active.png
This team archetype has been rising through the ranks with the increased usage of Primal Groudon/Ultra Necrozma. I believe this archetype can pull through for a victory this weekend. Expect it to be paired with the Mega Gengar/Perish Song Core.

Thank you for taking the time to read folks, I really appreciate it. Thoughts? Concerns? Questions? Disagreements? Let me know in the comments below or DM me on Twitter @RyanPbHebert.


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