VGC 2019 World Championships Metagame Recap

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With Naoto Mizobuchi being able to win the Pokémon VGC 2019 World Championships against Hirofumi Kimura, it's time to take a look at how the metagame was during the weekend in Washington DC. This article will discuss the Pokémon and strategies that succeeded. We hope you enjoyed the matches from this year of the World Championships. Let's see what the metagame was like.

Top 8 Teams (All Day 2 Teams)

Restricted Cores

groudon-primal Victory Road     xerneas Victory Road
Xerneas/Groudon had a bad run at the North American Internationals where all users of this core lost in top 8 so going into Worlds, if there was any hope that it could improve on that, all dreams were quickly crushed as Zheyuan Huang, Melvin Keh, Eduardo Cunha, and Brandon Meckley all lost in the top 16. Zheyuan and Melvin both used a similar variant of the team with Shedinja while Eduardo and Brandon used a more offensive version. Another interesting point is the Tornadus version was only used by Alessio Yuri Boschetto who finished 73rd with a Pachirisu.

Sprite pokemon Kyogre-Primal     Sprite pokemon Rayquaza-Mega
Rayuaza/Kyogre had a pretty strong season as both Alex Gómez and Eric Rios used it to finish top 8 while Michele Gavelli finished 17th. Both versions of their teams appear to build on Wolfe Glick's winning version from the North American International as Eric and Alex kept the Tapu Koko and Incineroar but used Nihilego and Kartana to cover for various matchups. Michele kept Incineroar and Celesteela but used Mimikyu and Togedemaru which helps with Fake Out pressure from Togedemaru while Mimikyu's Disguise can allow it to get off one powerful attack or a great support move.

Sprite pokemon Rayquaza-Mega     xerneas Victory Road
In a few words, Rayquaza/Xerneas was not the call for Worlds. Judging by the fact that Jean Paul López Buiza was its best finish at 28th place followed by a sharp drop to Kyle Livinghouse's 57th placement, it's very much evident that the metagame moved past it. On the upside, Pi Wu used it to win in Juniors while Ko Tsukide won with the core in Seniors so while Masters was hostile territory, it definitely succeeded in the younger age divisions.

groudon-primal Victory Roadlunala Victory Road
The core that Naoto Mizobuchi used to win it all, Groudon/Lunala has been a restricted core that although it's been relatively popular, it was never a top-tier core, but one that's been very consistent. Naoto had some very interesting ideas on his version including the Colbur Berry on Lunala, Dragon Claw on Groudon, Fairium Z on Tapu Fini, and Rockium Z on Staktaka. Gavin Michaels also used it the core but had Jumpluff and Snorlax instead of Naoto's Salamence and Stakataka.

groudon-primal Victory Road necrozma-dusk-mane Victory Road
Used by Hirofumi Kimura to finish 2nd, this was a restricted core that saw scattered use, never winning a major event. This restricted core plays very similarly to the Groudon/Dawn Wings Necrozma core which was notably used by Tommy Cooleen to win Hartford. Kangaskhan and Salamence as Hirofumi's Mega Evolutions can play either an offensive or defensive mode. Tapu Lele's Psychic Terrain increases the power of Necrozma's Photon Geyser while also helping deal with Yveltal, and Umbreon is likely to help deal with Ghost-types like Gengar, Lunala, and Dawn Wings Necrozma. This core was also used by David Koutesh, Satoshi Abe, and Oliver Eskolin.

Sprite pokemon Kyogre-Primal     xerneas Victory Road
The most popular restricted core in both Sun and Moon Series, Kyogre/Xerneas going into Ultra was first used again by James Baek and Westley Long in their top 16 North American International finish. The summer months were where it started to pick up as Calvin Foster won the Mt. Silver Invitational using it but it still wasn't a big name core in Ultra until Worlds with James Baek finishing 3rd, Stephen Mea finishing 8th, and Ryusei finishing 14th place. This restricted core's time throughout the 2019 season hasn't largely changed as Stephen used Kangaskhan over Kartana, the same Pokémon Calvin replaced for Metagross.

Sprite pokemon Rayquaza-Mega     lunala Victory Road
Before Rayquaza/Lunala picked up in usage over the summer, Bingjie Wang used it to top cut Santa Clara Regionals! The most interesting option is the pinch berry as well as Swords Dance on Rayquaza which allows it to take hits before using Swords Dance thanks to its surprising amount of bulk. Aaron Traylor and Wolfe Glick used a different take to the common version which was used by Rinya Kobayashi, Jung Wonseok, Shin Hyung Woo, and Ismael Aarab Umpierrez.

xerneas Victory Road     lunala Victory Road
Xerneas/Lunala was a very common core used in Sun and Moon Series as Ashton Cox and Eduardo Cunha were able to use it to win the win Latin American and Oceania Internationals respectively. Though its usage decreased in Ultra, players were still able to good success with Marco Silva winning Jönköping Regionals and Kevin Swastek finishing top 16 at the North American International. The most successful user was from Gabriel Agati's top 16 finish who used 2 Fake Out users in Kangaskhan and Incineroar, Tapu Koko which helps with Kyogre, and Ditto which can help turn around matchups.

Other Notable Pokémon

Sprite pokemon Umbreon
Starting off this section is the famous Umbreon Hirofumi Kimura used to make it all the way to the finals! Through its use of Snarl, Helping Hand, Foul Play, and Moonlight, Umbreon was able to support a team that otherwise found itself struggling with Pokémon like Lunala and Dawn Wings Necrozma. Hirofumi wasn't the only person to use Umbreon as David Koutesh and Oliver Eskolin also used it as well on a very similar team as Hirofumi.

Sprite pokemon Snorlax
Another unique Pokémon that gained surprising use was Snorlax. Snorlax started off its time on stream thanks to Aaron Traylor, Alex Underhill, and Gavin Michaels who used it on their teams which were able to advance to Day 2. Snorlax's great special bulk and access to set-up moves like Belly Drum, Curse, and Stockpile can turn it into a big threat. Snorlax was also used by Wolfe Glick on the same team as Aaron and Justin Burns on the same team as Alex.

Mega Aerodactyl was used solely by Eduardo Cunha to finish in the top 16. A big strength of Aerodactyl is its insanely high speed, access to support moves like Tailwind and Wide Guard, and a strong attack stat which can lead to powerful moves like Rock Slide and Sky Drop. Aerodactyl on his team replaced the popular Salamence which means Aerodactyl's supportive nature was favored over Salamence's offenses.

A favorite of Jamie Boyt as he was the only player in Day 2 to use it, Salazzle's more offensive playstyle favored Jamie's team. The interesting tech on his Salazzle was being able to use Fling to flinch the target with a Razor Fang. Thanks to its high speed, Salazzle is now afforded a pseudo-Fake Out it can use whenever which since Jamie has Xerneas, it can afford options for Xerneas to use a safer Geomancy.

breloom Victory Road
Another Pokémon Jamie Boyt was the only user of, Breloom's fast speed can allow it to use Spore before key Pokémon in the format like slower Groudon, Kyogre, and Xerneas. Breloom has seen success in past VGC formats such as 2012, 2013, and 2015 so seeing it again invokes a "Blast from the Past" type of moment as Breloom's Technician ability can give a power boost to its 2 favorite attacks, Bullet Seed and Mach Punch.

Solgaleo's strength is due to its strong matchup against Pokémon such as Xerneas and Mega Rayquaza, which was shown back at Japan Nationals where Hirofumi Kimura won with it. Solgaleo's best finish was from Takuya Harada finishing 30th but was also used by Justin Burns who finished 36th place and other Americans such as Nick Navarre, Alex Underhill, Jeremy Rodrigues, and Ashton Cox.

While Venusaur was a staple of Sun and Moon Series, it saw very little use in Ultra, mainly by Eduardo Cunha who finished top 32 at the European International. Fast forward to Worlds and Brandon Meckley, who used the same 6 to finish top 16 at Hartford Regionals brings it to the World Championships, and was able to make it through day 1 and day 2 swiss to make top cut. Brandon's Venusaur, equipped with Grassium Z, allows it to use a guaranteed Sleep Powder as well as the speed boost from it, or a powerful Z-Leaf Storm (190 BP) to KO threats like Tapu Fini and Kyogre very swiftly.

Why Naoto Won

As mentioned above in the talk about Lunala/Groudon, it's not necessarily the strongest restricted core in the format but it is a very consistent one. Naoto was able to use it earlier in the format when he finished top 4 at Japan Nationals, where he kept a lot of the cooler options on his team such as the Colbur Berry on Lunala, Dragon Claw on Groudon, Fairium Z on Tapu Fini, and Rockium Z on Stakataka, but one of the big reasons he was able to do well is his level of comfort with his team. His team has the option to operate either under Salamence's Tailwind or Lunala and Stakataka's Trick Room gives him the flexibility needed to succeed in high-level play.

These cool options, like the Colbur Berry on Lunala which means Lunala can play safer in front of Yveltal and Incineroar as it can survive one hit before using Trick Room, Fairium Z on Tapu Fini means that he has options to heavily damage Dark-types like Yveltal, Incineroar, and even the Umbreon he fought in finals, as well as Rockium Z on Stakataka since both Yveltal and Incineroar are weak to Rock-type moves. Without these Z-Moves, Naoto may have struggled much more against Hirofumi's Umbreon as in both games of Finals, he took out his Umbreon using Tapu Fini's Z-Move. It also would've helped if he instead fought Kazuki Kobayashi's Yveltal/Groudon team or Meaghan Rattle's Yveltal/Kyogre team during his top cut run.

What Happens Next

Going into the post-Worlds Ultra Series event, you'll likely see players use the top teams at events, try to counter Naoto or Hirofumi's teams, or simply do their own thing while keeping these teams in mind. Players looking at what answers Naoto's team may find comfort in Kazuki and Meaghan as their teams are very similar in construction due to they share Yveltal, Metagross, Tapu Koko and Incineroar but Kazuki has Groudon and Mimikyu while Meaghan has Kyogre and Amoonguss.

With Hirofumi using Umbreon to finish 2nd, you'll likely see a few Umbreon doing well at Regionals and even Latin American Internationals, testing it on a variety of teams to see if it has in weight to using Umbreon over other supportive Dark-types like Incineroar and Alolan Persian. While I highly doubt Umbreon will overtake them on many key teams, it will find its place on a few teams as these players will find a great purpose for it in certain matchups.


With the conclusion of the 11th World Championships, it was confirmed early during the World Championships that until January 4th of 2020, we will continue to play more Ultra Series so it will be interesting to see what players continue to use early into the 2020 season, so be sure to check back to Nimbasa City Post for data on events for the end of Ultra Series as well as going into VGC's time on Sword and Shield as we now start the road to the 2020 World Championships which will take place in London, England!


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