VGC 2019 World Championships Metagame Preview

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The 2019 World Championships is coming up later in the week. Returning to DC again after the 2014 World Championships, qualified players will be competing on-stage to become World Champion for the final time on a dual-screen system. Those who didn't make Day 2 and other attendees will also have the opportunity to play off-stage this weekend in the DC Open, where they can get a head start in earning CP for the 2020 VGC season. This article will look at what noteworthy teams, cores, strategies, etc. that could make an appearance during the World Championships. For all intents and purposes, everything covered in this article also applies to DC Open.

Full Teams

Big Six: 2019 Edition

groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     salamence-mega.png     incineroar.png     amoonguss.png     tapu-lele.png/tapu-fini.png
This team was already covered in our analysis on the Xerneas and Groudon restricted pairing, so I'll just go over it quickly. This team focuses on supporting its restricteds, more so with Xerneas. Salamence provides speed control, Amoonguss provides sleep and redirection, and Incineroar does Incineroar things. Groudon is usually special and can run Roar to disrupt opposing Xerneas or Trick Room users. The last slot is usually taken up by either Tapu Lele or Tapu Fini. Tapu Lele always runs Scarf, providing quick and powerful damage through Psyshock and Moonblast, and quick answers to things it can't threaten with damage through Magic Room and Taunt. On the other hand, Tapu Fini provides a much more supportive role, acting as another way of dealing with opposing Xerneas, a healer for the team, and additional speed control. Notable placements include Davide Carrer finishing 2nd at the European International, René Alvarenga finishing in the Top 4 at Santa Clara Regionals, and Paul Chua and Renzo Navarro, both winning Madison and Chile Regionals respectively. There most likely won't be too many changes to this team at Worlds, aside from Amoonguss' item, a few EVs spreads, and maybe a few move slots.

NAIC Winning Team

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A solid Rayqyaza/Kyogre team. This was used by Wolfe Glick and Aaron Traylor at the North American International to finish 1st and Top 32 respectively. Wolfe has an in-depth analysis of the team, so this will be more of a summary. The team strikes a balance between defense and speed, without too much sacrifice on offense. Gengar and Tapu Koko are more on the fragile side, but are very fast and have ways around their lacking defenses through Substitute and Volt Switch, respectively. Incineroar and Celesteela are quite slow, but between Incineroar's Intimidate and Celesteela's 100+ defenses, it isn't much of a problem for them. The restricteds, Rayquaza and Kyogre, have fairly good offenses, defenses, and speed all around. Rayquaza has a strong, spammable STAB in Dragon Ascent and Kyogre has weather-boosted, strong, spammable STABs in Water Spout and Origin Pulse, so not many resources need to be dedicated to their offenses, and said resources can be focused on their defenses and speed instead. The team isn't without its faults, however. It can struggle against Ferrothorn, as the only things that can hit it for sustainable damage are the two restricteds, both of which it can hurt back. For this team to have a strong finish at Worlds, it will likely need to have a few adaptations, such as a better way to handle the aforementioned Ferrothorn and more niche Pokémon such as Gastrodon.

Xerneas + Lunala

xernas-active.png     lunala.png     lucario-mega.png     incineroar.png/landorus-therian.png     tapu-lele.png     smeargle.png/amoonguss.png
Xerneas and Lunala were a very strong restricted duo in the past two formats. While Ultra series didn't add much to the core, it still remains a powerful pairing that should be prepped for. This team is by far the most common structure built around the restricteds. Lunala always holds Lunalium for excellent damage but has some variety in how it's used. It can run Psych Up to abuse Xerneas' stat boosts from Geomancy even further, it can run Tailwind and Wide Guard for a more passive, utility-based role, or even some combination of both. Lucario provides Fighting and Steel coverage, which was more difficult to come by in the Sun and Moon series. It also gets Follow Me for better support with its restricteds, and it works surprisingly well despite Lucario's low defenses. Incineroar and Landorus are mainly used just for their Intimidate and U-turn pivoting, though Landorus is preferred over Incineroar most of the time due to better coverage and the fact that Incineroar's Fake Out is hindered in Psychic Terrain. Smeargle and Amoonguss fill the last slot as another redirector and designated sleep inducer. Amoonguss has better bulk, can hit Kyogre, and can remove opposing Xerneas' boosts easily with Clear Smog, so it's the better choice over Smeargle on most teams. There haven't been many strong performances with the team; the most notable placements it's gotten were two Top 8 finishes at regionals: Mitch Kendrick at the Sydney Regionals and William Marks at the Santa Clara Regionals as well as Kevin Swastek's Top 16 finish at the North American International. Those looking for a strong finish at Worlds this year likely won't be able to accomplish much with this team due to how predictable the team can be unless they have a good deal of experience with the team beforehand.

XernDon + KangTorn

groudon-primal.png     xerneas-active.png     kangaskhan-mega.png     tornadus.png
This core has more variety available to it that the other two previously mentioned teams do, due to how interchangeable the last two slots are. Groudon goes full-on special, with Overheat as an additional Fire-type attack either when Eruption stops putting out sufficient damage or when Groudon needs to deal some massive damage in a single turn. Kangaskhan always runs Fake Out, Double-Edge, either Crunch or Bite for Lunala, and either Low Kick for more coverage or Roar for Xerneas and Trick Room. Tornadus has Flyinium Z for powerful damage or a Tailwind when Taunted. It also has Taunt for the mirror and additional speed control in Icy Wind. Many options can viably fill the last two slots. Ashton Cox, who finished in Top 8 at the North American International, used Mega Metagross and Tapu Koko. Metagross could outspeed Xerneas and Groudon and hit them with Iron Head and Stomping Tantrum while utilizing Substitute to take a hit. Tapu Koko provided pivoting, speed control, and dealing massive damage with Volt Switch, Electroweb, and Tapunium Z respectively. Kyle Livinghouse, who also finished in Top 8 at the North American International, used Mega Mawile and Kommo-o. Mega Mawile hits harder than Metagross at the cost of much lower speed and defenses, while Kommo-o is another option for when Tornadus doesn't have a favorable matchup. Arash Ommati, who won the Zelda Worlds Challenge, used Incineroar and Kommo-o. This core will probably perform well at Worlds on its own due to the immense amount of offensive pressure it puts on opposing players. Even if a team accounts for these four Pokémon, the last two slots help patch up an otherwise bad matchup.

Restricted Pokémon

xerneas-active.png     rayquaza-mega.png
Though it has lower success at events following Flavio del Pidio's victory at the European International, Xerneas and Rayquaza are still a difficult pairing to handle. It's difficult to deal with Rayquaza's onslaught of Dragon Ascents, Earth Powers, and Extreme Speeds and Xerneas' setting up. The other four Pokémon are key to dealing with opposing Xerneas since one restricted is weak to it and the other doesn't usually run much special bulk if any. Most teams, like Flavio's, use multiple Pokémon to handle Xerneas, such as Nihilego, Amoonguss, and Stakataka. This is something that will likely need to be carried over to Worlds for these two to perform well. Since this core likes to provide support for specifically the restricteds, support Pokémon like Tapu Fini and Crobat will be crucial to the pairing. Innovations to this team for a strong finish will have to include additional checks to Celesteela and Bronzong, as Wolfe's North American International victory has increased usage of the former and the latter has a strong matchup if the Rayquaza isn't running Crunch, and even then, all it takes is an Intimidate to make Crunch a 3HKO.

Shadow Shield, nice stats and movepool, and good support are all strong appeals to Lunala. All around, it's a better Lugia. On top of all the aforementioned things, it also has one of the strongest, if not the strongest Z-move in the game, Menacing Moonraze Maelstrom, with only Normal types being immune and Dark types resisting it. Of course, Lunala isn't all perfect: it does absolutely nothing to Yveltal, opposing Lunala can lead to speed ties to see who gets the KO first and is the reason why Kangaskhan are starting to run Bite for flinches instead of optimal damage. Still, it should be high up on every competitor's threat list. Lunala will definitely have a major presence throughout the first two days of Worlds, and might even make Top Cut.

Yveltal is somewhat of a difficult Pokémon to fit onto a team. It has a glaring weakness to Fairy and Electric-types but doesn't have as much bulk as Mega Rayquaza. It doesn't even outspeed Xerneas; it shares the same Speed stat. Despite this, there are some reasons to use Yveltal over Rayquaza. For one, Yveltal gets Snarl, which can be very helpful in lowering the opposing team's damage output, on top of dealing some nice damage. Foul Play makes it so Yveltal can ignore Attack drops on it, though it does have to be mindful of Attack drops on its target. Yveltal can also run a Z-move for massive damage. Groudon is the best restricted to pair it with, though Kyogre can also work, so long as the team is mindful of Electric-type moves. Rayquaza is usually a better pair with Xerneas, but if there aren't any better Z-Move users or the team has very poor special handling, one might be able to justify running Yveltal. It's not likely that Yveltal will have as strong of a finish like some other restricteds due to having a smaller niche than most restricteds, but an experienced player could easily take through Day 1 and maybe even have a high finish in Day 2, though making Top Cut is unlikely.

Necrozma is one of the more underrated restricteds and might fly under some players' radars. With Dusk Mane lacking Solgaleo's Full Metal Body and Ultra Necrozma being weak to Xerneas, it seems to be outclassed, but Necrozma's ability to underspeed the Primals in its Dusk Mane form, Prism Armor being a good defensive attribute for Dusk Mane, Ultra Necrozma outspeeding every restricted bar Mewtwo, Ultra Necrozma's ability boosting damage from its diverse coverage, and Photon Geyser being able to hit the four most popular restricteds for neutral damage, all make a compelling case to use it. Dawn Wings provides Ghost coverage with Moongeist Beam and can run full special, but is pretty much relegated to being only used with Ultranecrozium, maybe Lunalium if the team is built right. Dusk Mane, however, has more variety in the items and sets it can use. It can go full special Ultra and ditch Sunsteel Strike for Calm Mind, go a mixed Ultra set with Sunsteel Strike, go slow Trick Room with Weakness Policy or FIWAM berries, or even go full physical offensive with Swords Dance. While it's a lot more difficult to use than some of the other top restricteds, Necrozma could easily have a strong finish at Worlds in the right hands.

Other Strategies and Pokémon

tapu-lele.png     necrozma-dawn.png/mewtwo.png
This strategy is rather simple: Tapu Lele sets up Psychic Terrain, and either Ultra Necrozma or Mewtwo blow away at the opposing team with Photon Geyser or Psystrike, respectively. Tapu Lele is also Scarf, so that means two fast Psychic attackers are bombarding the other team. This strategy has more difficulty against things like Yveltal, Lunala, and even Incineroar to an extent, so it's died down in popularity, but that doesn't mean it can't be used. Gary Qian and Samuel Haarsma used it as recent as the North American International, both finishing with a respectable Top 32. It's not likely to have a big presence at Worlds, though; more Pokémon that resist Psychic attacks have been showing up in the weeks leading to Worlds.

gengar-mega.png     incineroar.png
Perish Trap here should come with an asterisk, because unlike Perish Trap in past formats, where it was the main strategy on teams, it's much more situational in Ultra series, mostly due to the power creep that Z-Moves and restricteds bring. Gengar can be made more dedicated to Perish Trap by giving it Substitute over one of its main STABs (usually Shadow Ball), but that's about it. One might be able to fit Protect on Incineroar for extra stalling, but it's difficult given Incineroar's movepool. It's really hard to fit on a team, so I wouldn't expect too many appearances of it on Day 2 if any, let alone Day 1.

Being the fastest Prankster user and therefore having the fastest Tailwind, Whimsicott can have a good deal of utility on the right team. While it does need to be mindful of Queenly Majesty and Psychic Terrain, it has some tools it can use for disruption, notably Encore and Taunt. It also has tools for supporting its team in Helping Hand and Fake Tears. Some Whimsicott can even run Fairium or Normalium with Moonblast or Nature Power for some heavy damage. It's mainly seen on Rayquaza Kyogre teams, made popular by Kimo Nishimura's finish at the European International, but it can work on others like Xerneas Groudon or Xerneas Rayquaza. Due to Wolfe's victory with Rayquaza Kyogre, players have favored using similar cores to his, which doesn't have Whimsicott, its usage should be expected to go down, but it seems like it can perform well on the main stage and at least make Day 2.

shedinja.png     tapu-fini.png
Shedinja is the sole reason why every team needs Electric/Grass coverage in addition to Ghost/Dark coverage. It's not too big of a deal though, as that coverage also helps matchups against Kyogre and Lunala. To be fair, Zekrom, Kyurem, Solgaleo, Lunala, and Necrozma can hit Shedinja regardless of its type thanks to their abilities or move's properties, but not many people want to use Zekrom or Kyurem, nor would they want to waste two of eight PP of their strongest attack on one Pokémon. If not for both Wonder Guard and Focus Sash, Shedinja wouldn't be on anyone's radar at all. Tapu Fini can also make the matchup more difficult thanks to Misty Terrain preventing status, but in a hyper offensive format like Ultra series, it's unlikely anything would be running Toxic, aside from opposing Shedinja. Easily the best user of Shedinja has been Melvin Keh, who has cut both the European and North American International with it, in addition to cutting the Malaysia Regionals and Singapore Open with it. Ben Grissmer has also performed with Shedinja, with a Top 32 finish at the North American International and Top 4 finish at the Bristol Regionals. Shedinja is definitely making a Day 2 appearance thanks to Melvin Keh alone, but whether or not it will have a strong finish is uncertain. Shedinja seems to be very attached to these two competitors, so it's unlikely that many other players will bring Shedinja if any.


With the variety that has been seen throughout Ultra series, I wasn't able to go over the nuance of other teams in the format, such as other Xerneas/Groudon and other Rayquaza/Kyogre teams, but hopefully, this has given a good enough background for those going into spectating Worlds. Also, follow us on Twitter @NimbasaCityPost for up to date information on the event as it takes place!


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