Dragon Claw Blooms – Top 16 World Championships Report

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Hi, my name is Brandon Meckley (Ampharos), and I used Venusaur/Groudon to finish Top 16 at the 2019 World Championships in Washington DC. After the North America International, I was bored with the format and thus decided not to test any new restricted combos. Weeks passed and I kept telling myself that I would work on fixing my team, but alas I did not. This brings us to the Sunday before Worlds and the only prep I got in for the tournament.

Teambuilding Process

This team was built for Hartford Regionals and was slightly altered to fit the meta for Worlds. I played 4 matches against Abdul Barrie (Big Slim) with Tapu Lele over Tapu Fini and completely different spreads and Big Slim slaughtered me in all 4 games. I decided to stick with Tapu Fini after this and Groudon was also changed because I was not a fan of max-speed Adamant.

The Team

Groudon-Primal @ Red Orb
Ability: Desolate Land
Level: 50
EVs: 92 HP / 156 Atk / 4 Def / 180 SpD / 76 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Precipice Blades
– Fire Punch
– Dragon Claw
– Protect
  • 156+ Atk Primal Groudon Dragon Claw vs. -1 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 182-216 (100.5 - 119.3%) – guaranteed OHKO
  • 252 SpA Primal Groudon Earth Power vs. 92 HP / 180 SpD Primal Groudon: 156-186 (83.4 - 99.4%) – guaranteed 2HKO
This spread was built so that Groudon could live an Earth Power from mixed/252 Timid Groudon. The Attack was added until Dragon Claw became a 1-hit KO on -1 no bulk Rayquaza (It also happened to be a +2 breakpoint) and then the rest was put into Speed.

Xerneas @ Power Herb
Ability: Fairy Aura
Level: 50
EVs: 132 HP / 124 SpA / 252 Spe
Timid Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Moonblast
– Dazzling Gleam
– Geomancy
– Protect

I prefer to run max Speed Xerneas. Besides that, there isn’t anything specific about the spread.

Tapu Fini @ Aguav Berry
Ability: Misty Surge
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 76 Def / 4 SpA / 52 SpD / 124 Spe
Calm Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Icy Wind
– Nature's Madness
– Heal Pulse
– Light Screen
  • +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Moonblast vs. 252 HP / 52+ SpD Tapu Fini: 151-178 (85.3 - 100.5%) – 6.3% chance to OHKO
My least used Pokémon by far. Tapu Fini was put on the team to outspeed Groudon by one and to be its best friend. The defensive calc is specifically for a +2 Timid Moonblast from Xerneas and then the rest was added to Defense. It was mainly used to help patch up the Xerneas/Lunala and Kangaskhan/Tornadus matchups.

Incineroar @ Incinium Z
Ability: Intimidate
Level: 50
EVs: 252 HP / 140 Atk / 4 Def / 60 SpD / 52 Spe
Adamant Nature
– Darkest Lariat
– Flare Blitz
– U-turn
– Fake Out
  • 140+ Atk Incineroar Malicious Moonsault vs. 252 HP / 4 Def Tornadus: 187-222 (100.5 - 119.3%) – guaranteed OHKO
  • 140+ Atk Incineroar Flare Blitz vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 100-118 (49.5 - 58.4%) – 98.4% chance to 2HKO
This turned out to be my favorite Pokémon on the team. Malicious Moonsault was pivotal in the Tornadus/Kyogre matchup and against any Solgaleo and Lunala teams. Also, in any set that I didn’t bring Venusaur, it allowed me to hit something really hard. Besides that, it’s just your standard Incineroar that can hit things like Xerneas really hard.

My main suggestion for using this Incineroar is to be offensive. Yes, pivoting is nice, but don’t be afraid to Flare Blitz, especially in front of Xerneas. In almost any scenario, you can get a Xerneas down to <30% with a Flare Blitz and any attack from another Pokémon. This forces hard setup teams to protect Xerneas and switch, and as long as Tapu Fini isn’t out, you can guarantee that one of the two Pokémon can finish off the Xerneas, regardless of Fake Out. This strategy is especially important in Game 1 because it allows you to figure out the bulk of the opposing Xerneas.

Venusaur @ Grassium Z
Ability: Chlorophyll
Level: 50
EVs: 4 HP / 252 SpA / 252 Spe
Modest Nature
IVs: 0 Atk
– Leaf Storm
– Sludge Bomb
– Sleep Powder
– Protect
  • 252+ SpA Venusaur Bloom Doom (195 BP) vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Primal Groudon: 168-198 (95.4 - 112.5%) – 68.8% chance to OHKO
  • 252+ SpA Venusaur Bloom Doom (195 BP) vs. 252 HP / 0 SpD Primal Kyogre: 204-242 (98.5 - 116.9%) – 87.5% chance to OHKO
  • +2 252 SpA Fairy Aura Xerneas Dazzling Gleam vs. 4 HP / 0 SpD Venusaur: 68-81 (43.5 - 51.9%) – 10.2% chance to 2HKO
Besides Groudon, this is probably the only reason you clicked on this team report. Venusaur was mainly used because of its positive matchup vs the Primals and to help out in the Xerneas matchup. It also puts a lot of pressure on non-Rayquaza teams and forces them to bring Tapu Fini or Tapu Koko (which are not strong against Venusaur/Groudon) or be forced into a guessing game with Sleep Powder. 

Salamence-Mega @ Salamencite
Ability: Aerilate
Level: 50
EVs: 12 HP / 236 Atk / 4 Def / 4 SpD / 252 Spe
Jolly Nature
– Double-Edge
– Earthquake
– Tailwind
– Protect
  • 236 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Xerneas: 138-163 (68.3 - 80.6%) – guaranteed BIG DAMAGE
  • 236 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Primal Kyogre: 144-171 (81.8 - 97.1%) – guaranteed BIG DAMAGE
  • 236 Atk Aerilate Mega Salamence Double-Edge vs. 4 HP / 0 Def Mega Rayquaza: 132-156 (72.9 - 86.1%) – guaranteed BIG DAMAGE
Man, do I love this Salamence. This thing was built to nuke opposing Pokémon, regardless of Intimidate. Earthquake is mainly there to patch up the Nihilego matchup and to have something to hit Stakataka. I actually rarely used Tailwind (maybe twice all-tournament) or any speed control for that matter. There wasn’t anything specific Salamence was used to OHKO; it was mainly there to Intimidate and to chip anything and everything into Xerneas, Venusaur, and Groudon's range. 

P.S.: I’m pretty sure this spread isn’t 252/252, because I wanted an even HP number for some reason.

My Tournament Run

I did not have a notepad for Day 1 of the tournament and I also forgot to take a picture of my opponents on Rk9labs, so I only have a small recollection of what happened. However, I will go over all the matchups I do remember from Day 2.

Round 1 – vs. Chen Wu

Both games, I led Incineroar and Xerneas, set up Geomancy, and sacrificed Incineroar to a Water Spout. From there, I mainly positioned so that Xerneas always had Intimidate support from Salamence or Groudon was threatening my opponent. In both games, I was able to catch Rayquaza on a switch-in with a +2 Dazzling Gleam.

Result: Win | Record: 1-0

Round 2 – vs. Alex Underhill (Lexicon)
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadsolgaleo.pngtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadpersian-alola.pngsnorlax.png

We played in Round 7 of Swiss on Day 1, so I was very familiar with his team. Since I played this matchup 3 times (Angel was also using this team and we played Round 6), all of the matches melded together in my head. My main goal was to continually chip his team with Tapu Fini and to preserve Incineroar as much as possible. Dragon Claw was huge in this set and let me continually pressure 3/4 of his Pokémon at all times.

Result: Win | Record: 2-0

Round 3 – vs. Arash Ommati (Mean)
kyogre-primal.pngxerneas-active.pngmetagross-mega.pngincineroar Victory Roadtornadus.pngjumpluff.png

In the first game, I eliminated his Tornadus on turn 2 with Incineroar's Z-Move, then proceeded to sweep with Xerneas and Groudon. Game 2, I figured out his Incineroar was Assault Vest and so I set up Xerneas. Arash decided to keep Tornadus and Incineroar out, so I cycled out Incineroar and set up a second Geomancy with Fake Out support, to counter his Tailwind. After that Xerneas + double Intimidate on Metagross and Groudon swept his team.

Result: Win | Record: 3-0

Round 4 – vs. Eduardo Cunha (EmbC)
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas-active.pngaerodactyl-mega.pngtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadkartana Victory Road

Ah great … the one other person that had used these same 6 in Ultra Series. Once I saw the team, I smiled, because I knew Venusaur/Groudon ran through this. Game 1 he leads Groudon and Aerodactyl and I lead Venusaur and Groudon. I was a bit confused by the lead since I figured he knew I would lead Venusaur and Groudon, so I approached turn 1 cautiously. Big mistake. He knocked out my Groudon under 40% and I used Precipice Blades into a Wide Guard. The game kept on and I ended up missing 2 Precipice Blades, which allowed his full health Incineroar to knock out my Xerneas. 

I don’t remember much about game 2, except Venusaur and Groudon basically handling everything, and both Eduardo and I were missing more Precipice Blades. Game 3 we both returned to our leads from game 1. Turn 1, I Grassium Z’d his Aerodactyl and left it at 1% health (Either 1 or 4 HP, Eduardo told me; I can’t remember), he set up Tailwind and we traded Precipice Blades. I ended up stalling out Tailwind and got into a position with Tapu Fini and Groudon. Afterward, I proceeded to miss a Nature’s Madness on Xerneas and Precipice Blades onto Incineroar, as well as onto Tapu Fini the next turn. Groudon ended up sealing the match for Eduardo. After the match, I felt pretty great, despite the loss, because I felt like I played very well; Venusaur/Groudon is always going to have matches where misses happen. Also, Eduardo played well to put himself in a position to win in an awful matchup.

Result: Loss | Record: 3-1

Round 5 – vs. Ryusei Yamane (Neechi)
groudon-primal Victory Roadxerneas-active.pngkangaskhan-mega Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadtornadus Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Road

The only thing I remember from the first two games is that Ryusei was doing a great job keeping me guessing on his leads. I expected Kangaskhan and Tornadus and he threw me off balance and continued to change his leads. Game 3 I ended up mismanaging an endgame and didn’t chip his Groudon into Grassium Z range.

Result: Loss | Record: 3-2

Round 6 – vs. Yusuke Ikeda (Ike)

Besides Xerneas/Kyogre, this is probably my toughest matchup and one I wasn’t very practiced in. I don’t remember anything specific from any of the 3 games; they were all super close until the end. My main goal was to force out Crobat and chip it so that when I set up Xerneas, it would be in +2 Moonblast range. Yusuke did well to stop this in the first two games, but I was able to pull off a Xerneas sweep in game 3.

Result: Win | Record: 4-2

Round 7 – vs. Wolfe Glick (Wolfey)
rayquaza-mega Victory Roadlunala Victory Roadtapu-fini Victory Roadincineroar.pngsnorlax Victory Roadstakataka Victory Road

Game 1, I figured I wouldn’t be able to stop Trick Room, so I wanted to spam Intimidate on Stakataka and chip his entire team into Groudon's range. Also, I wanted to figure out the Tapu Fini's speed, which I did. Game 2, I brought double Intimidate again to slow down Stakataka, this time in the back. I figured he wouldn’t lead Rayquaza, so I went offensive. This entire game was set up to knock out Tapu Fini and have Groudon sweep.

Result: Win | Record: 5-2

Top 16 – vs. James Baek (Jamesspeed1)
kyogre-primal Victory Roadxerneas Victory Roadincineroar Victory Roadtornadus Victory Roadamoonguss Victory Roadkartana Victory Road

Game 1, I decided to set up Xerneas in front of an Incineroar that I should have guessed had Roar. The rest of the match you can watch in the video. Game 2, I brought Tapu Fini and I planned to remove Tornadus, set up Light Screen, and then sweep with Xerneas. I don’t remember why, (I think I forgot Light Screen was up?) but I decided to switch out my full health Xerneas instead of setting up Geomancy, which would have most likely clinched the game. Game 3, I’m actually not sure what my game plan was here or what I was doing. Xerneas set up and swept.

Result: Loss (16th Place Overall)

Tournament Fun Facts

  • Icy Wind and Tailwind were my 2 least used attacks all tournament.
  • I played against 8 Rayquaza on Day 1, which meant that Groudon got to slay a ton of Dragons.
  • I played against 4 Snorlax teams on both days. I went 8-1 in those games, with Snorlax only being used twice.
  • I got obliterated in Round 1 of Day 1 by a Xerneas/Rayquaza team with no Nihilego, which is an amazing matchup for my team.
  • I got matched up against my best friend I’ve met playing Pokémon, Mark Elson (Winmor), in the last round of Day 1 at 6-2. This also happened in the last round of Memphis in 2017.


Special shoutout to Bigslim, for helping with the team and for all of the support. Also, big shoutouts to Mark Elson (Winmor), Louis Milich (Uncle Lou), John Valentino, HebrewLantern, NatetheDyno, Aaron Perez, Golden Empoleon, and the Mt. Silver Discord for all of the support this weekend. I would not have traveled to Worlds if it wasn’t for all of you.


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