Xerneas + Groudon: It's Place at the 2019 World Championships

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With the 2019 World Championships coming up very fast, this series will look at the major restricted cores in the Ultra Series metagame and talk about their strengths and weaknesses as well as a personal prediction on how it will do, basically, it's standing going into Washington DC! Today's article will talk about Xerneas and Primal Groudon, one of, if not the most popular restricted core in the VGC 2019 season as a whole, and how it looks going into the 2019 World Championships!

Successful Versions

The original version of this team, this version excelled at making a name for Xerneas/Groudon as it's a more traditional "Support Your Restricteds" kind of team. As shown by Davide Carrer on his 2nd Place European Internationals team report, Tapu Fini usually functions as a Groudon's main supporter while Incineroar and Amoonguss can support either restricted but usually find themselves next to Xerneas to help it use Geomancy easier, but Tapu Fini can also help Xerneas out as well.

This version fell out of popularity as many players noted that Xerneas/Rayquaza teams have a strong matchup against it, as funnily enough was shown in Davide's finals match against Flavio del Pidio who was able to win in part thanks to Rockium Z Nihilego which is able to threaten knockouts on all of Davide's Pokémon except Amoonguss. Rayquaza/Kyogre teams also gained popularity due to a strong matchup, such as Wolfe Glick's North American Internationals winning team or the version popularized by Raghav Malaviya, but Paul Chua was able to finish Top 32 at the same event and Davide Carrer did the same with Whimsicott over Amoonguss.

This version, first successfully used by René Alvarenga to finish Top 4 at Santa Clara Regionals, Paul Chua to win Madison Regionals, and Renzo Navarro to win Chile Regionals, this version substitutes Tapu Fini for a Choice Scarf Tapu Lele which helps improves the Rayquaza/Xerneas matchup by being able to outspeed Nihilego and KO it with Psyshock as well as the Rayquaza/Kyogre matchup by being able to threaten Mega Gengar and Mega Rayquaza with fast Psychic-type attacks. In Paul's Madison winning team report, he used Taunt on his Tapu Lele which could outspeed and Taunt Crobat before it could threaten Xerneas' set-up as well as having Earthquake on his Salamence to deal with Nihilego.

With Paul winning the last American Regional with it, many players were very much prepared for this version as Wolfe discussed in his North American Internationals winning video. Celesteela supported by Kyogre is especially effective as this team can't effectively hit Celesteela in the rain. With Celesteela's big win, it's a team that players who use this Xerneas/Groudon version should either have a game plan against or pray not to fight it.

groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     gengar-mega.png     tapu-fini.png/amoonguss.png     incineroar.png     landorus-therian.png
This version picked up at the European Internationals where it was used by Alex Gómez and Eric Rios to finish Top 16 and also by Faaiz Ashfaq to finish Top 32. They had Tapu Fini which helps as a Groudon supporter thanks to Gravity for more accurate Precipice Blades. With Gengar for Shadow Tag disruption and Sludge Bomb to threaten Xerneas, as well as Landorus-T to switch into Groudon's Ground-type attacks and threaten it with Earthquake or Tectonic Rage. Fast forward to Santa Clara Regionals where Ashton Cox and Jeremy Rodrigues were able to finish 1st and 3rd respectively but decided to add a Perish Trap mode and Amoonguss over Tapu Fini which allows for redirection as well as still maintaining the resistance to Kyogre's Water-type moves.

Like the Xerneas/Groudon teams above, Celesteela in a situation where neither Groudon or Incineroar, which can be achieved with Kyogre, can hit it is very tough for this team for weather control is big, as well as making it hard for Celesteela to get into a favorable position. A lot of the above tough match-ups are still applicable such has Nihilego's Rock-type Z-Move though this version gains Landorus which resists Rock-type moves.

This version is much more unorthodox as it plays differently compared to the 3 mentioned above. First built by a Japanese player who goes by Nebo, This team was later used at events originally by Christian Cheynubrata (Smeargle over Mawile) and Marco Silva (Amoonguss over Mawile) to finish Top 8 and Top 32 at the European Internationals respectively then later by Kyle Livinghouse to finish Top 32 at Santa Clara Regionals, Top 16 at Madison alongside Stephen Mea, then finally to finish Top 8 at the North American Internationals alongside Flavio del Pidio (Incineroar over Mawile).

Looking at match-ups, Wolfe's North Internationals winning team is tough due to how once either Groudon is KO'd or can't touch it due to the Rain being up, Celesteela can give this team a lot of trouble. Wolfe Glick vs. James Evans is a great display of how this matchup plays. The mirror is also very annoying due to a very fast, special Groudon which means it becomes a race to Earth Power first and KO the opposing Groudon. Xerneas setting up first is also very key since the only Pokémon that resist it are Groudon which isn't bulky and Mawile which is hard since most Xerneas are surrounded by Fire-types. Standard Xerneas/Groudon teams are easier to fight since special Groudon is great against physical variants. Yveltal teams are easy to fight thanks to Xerneas, Mawile, and Kommo-o who can largely do their own thing as well as Lunala teams being easier due to Kommo-o and Mawile, as well as the special Groudon if Lunala is paired with Groudon and Xerneas if Lunala is paired with Kyogre.

Understanding each Restricted

Xerneas' sets don't change in the moveset or item but in its EV Spread. Every Xerneas you will encounter will hold a Power Herb with the moves Dazzling Gleam, Moonblast, Geomancy, and Protect. Some in Sun and Moon Series were taught Substitute but that has largely disappeared. Xerneas' EV Spreads have largely changed to become much bulkier. We saw this a lot in 2016 bulky Xerneas reigned supreme because the added bulk allows you to survive a lot of hits or take them easier than a Xerneas that invests more in offense. With bulky Xerneas being the norm, what ended up happening was going into the North American Internationals, we saw a lot of players opting to run their traditionally slower restricted Pokémon a lot faster, like Wolfe Glick and Graham Amedee who used very fast Kyogre who could Water Spout before the slower Xerneas used Geomancy as well as Kyle Livinghouse who used a fast special Groudon to Eruption before Xerneas can set-up.

Groudon sets can change depending on the team and what the player needs from it. Davide Carrer when he finished 2nd at European Internationals, Paul Chua to win Madison Regionals and Kyle Livinghouse to Top 8 North American Internationals both used very fast special Groudon. Ashton Cox to win Santa Clara Regionals and Tommy Cooleen to win Hartford Regionals used slower physical Groudon. A key thing to know is that if its a slow Groudon, it's more likely physical because slower Groudon are able to afford the HP loss more than special variants who train to be much faster due to the need to use Eruption before the loss in HP means unless you run a more consistent Fire-type move like Flamethrower or Overheat, how much HP you have determines how strong your only Fire-type move will be. The trend of faster Groudon proved to be the right call to catch the slower Xerneas and Groudon off-guard, but the fact that picked up at the same time the faster Kyogre started to pop up makes it very awkward if both should ever cross paths.

The Internationals Rundown

With Xerneas/Groudon winning the last 2 American Regionals, many players had to be prepared for the 4 variants shown above. Going into the North American Internationals, 4 Xerneas/Groudon teams made it into Top Cut, all having to face different teams as 2 fought Kyogre/Rayquaza teams, 1 fought Kyogre/Lunala, and 1 fought a Xerneas/Rayquaza team. What happened was every single Groudon lost to either a Kyogre team or a well-supported Rayquaza in the case of Jean Paul López Buiza.

This takedown means that players are becoming very much prepared to deal with different Xerneas/Groudon teams so we could very well see a repeat of the 2016 World Championships where either the Xerneas/Groudon teams that succeed are standard but the player knows it really well in the case of Aaron Traylor or where Eduardo Cunha was able to finish in the Top 4 thanks to a smart adaption of the core. While it wouldn't be surprising to once again see 1 or 2 players in the Top 8 using the core, those players will need to understand their matchups very well if they want to succeed or it'll be 2016 all over again with the winning team being one that fluidly understands how to defeat these 4 big Xerneas/Groudon teams.

Worlds Prediction

As it stands right now, I don't personally expect to see Xerneas/Groudon walk away as the World Champion. With the current meta stacked against it, I do expect to see 1 or 2 players make it into the Top 8, but the odds will be stacked against these players. Xerneas/Groudon players going into DC will have to know their matchups inside and out to succeed. To succeed, a Xerneas/Groudon player will need a combination of good luck, avoiding their personal bad matchups as much as possible, and if they are unfortunate enough to come across one, they will need to play well enough to avoid it.

A Xerneas/Groudon player will need to understand why what happened in the Top 8 of the North American Internationals ended up happening and either build their team to answer that, know their matchups well enough to succeed in the current metagame, or disregard that and either succeed or fail based on that player's skills and abilities. We'll see what happens but these players will have an uphill battle and the question will be whether or not they can succeed with these obstacles in their way.


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